The Choice

Chapter 2

I walked up the small steps of an old abandoned cathedral, it was built of dark cold stone the made you have the eerie feeling of being watched. I entered it feeling the blood, now gushing down my leg, leak into my shoe. I was angry at myself, it would take a week at the very least to heal a wound this deep. And to be taken down by a dog. I wished I could just collapse onto my cot, and sleep. Hunting often drained you faster, because of what you deal with. I let out a noticeable groan when I heard the angry shout "Ella!". Not wanting to have to hear my name twice, I quickened my step. "Coming!" I called. I hated my name, but it was inevitable. 

"Ella!!" screeched the voice one more time, the echo painfully reverberated down the corridor.

"Alright already! I said I'm coming!" I shouted back. 

I walked up a flight of stairs two at a time, the voice belonged to a tall woman with mousy brown hair. Her name was Lika, she was the head weapons woman. I belonged to a clan of Nightwatchers. Our job was to protect the people, without revealing who we are. 

As I reached the top of the stair, Lika Looked at me with eyes that burned into my memory. Not like the ones in the club, but with the same harshness. "I'm here..." I said lamely, having nothing else to say.

"I see." is all she said, sounding disappointed, she turned and headed to the arsenal. I walked behind her, as I had on many occasions. She said simply "Your mother wants a word with you." She sounded icy. 

I walked down the hall alone. I reached a red wood door and knocked. "yes?" came the demanding voice. "It's me." I said waiting for the explosion of sound that was my mother.  "oh-did Lika tell you about our guest?" 

"no, who is it?" I said half interested. I needed to rest, my leg would take time to heal and I wanted to sleep. 

"your cousin, Stephanie." she said as if expecting a positive response.

"umm... mother, the last time me and 'Stephanie'" I said emphasizing her name, " were in the same room, we started fighting." I said pronouncing every word carefully.

"Well, then I guess your just going to have to deal with her." she said, I had tried but her word was final. "And so you know, your stuck to the yards, until she's gone that is." she pronounced. I knew it could've been worse but right now I didn't think it could by much. I slipped off with a simple "fine." and went to clean up.

I trudged down the stairs with a heavy heart. My mothers mind was made up. When I reached the kitchen I slipped up onto a stool and began making my draft. It was a daily task that I was imposed with. I had never wanted to be one of them. but as it would be, not much was up to me. 

My mother was the Saktar of the council, the head. We lived in the meeting place of the clan.  The clan was called the Ta-Yetka or The Clave, it held no male members, and in the past had made few exceptions. Everyone had an inside name and an outside name. We never used our inside name out of the sanctuary, by that name you can easily be controlled by. Mine was Dice. I hated my inside name, it was boring and plain. We had all gone through training and all gone through the naming. It happened on my 15th birthday. I was 16 and I had other plans than to keep making this awful tonic every night. I didn't care about the power it gave you, I didn't want it.

The tonic did many things, firstly it gave you the power to heal (others and yourself), it also gave you magic, that if you knew what you were doing it would be quite useful. But it wasn't just the tonic, for it not to kill you, you had to go through a long and painful surgery every three years. Which I had for the last 5. I had tried to convince my mother that I would make a better fighter without such afflictions. But of course, her word was law. And her argument was simply it was cowardly to back down from such a responsibility.

When my tonic was finished I downed it quickly crinkling my face in disgust. I was much better with a blade anyway. I only had to convince my mother, the impossible act. My mother was a cold woman despite all her pretenses, she didn't care about what anyone wanted, she only cared about her precious clan; and we were along for the ride.

I slunk up the stairs once again, exhausted. I walked down another hallway, I was so sick of hallways by now, and turned into my room or what I thought was my room. It turned out to be another arsenal. I walked on and after the fifth door I found my quarters. I quickly attended to my leg and washed. After I was done I flopped down and swore as I felt a small soft kitten paw dig into my foot. I was too tired to kick it away. I woke hours later to the sound of my mother walking to my door. She was here.

Stephanie hadn't changed much over the years. She had grown taller and was more lanky than I had last remembered her. Of course my mother being the thoughtful person she was brought her straight to my room, where I was passed out and less than presentable. I looked up at her face, she wore a sneer, as usual it was plastered on. I groaned and turned over, I didn't care what she thought. I needed sleep. 

"get up." came the commanding voice of my mother. I wanted to refuse but I knew it wouldn't do any good.

I sighed and said "I'll be down in a minute."  to say anything more would result in an argument or an insult.  My mother looked at me for a moment, seeing that it was a good enough response she turned and walked out of the room, Stephanie close behind. 

Stephanie was the daughter my mother never had, I almost wished mother would adopt her and disown me already. It would sure make my life easier. All I was to her was the heir to the clan, not that either of us wanted me to be.  I sure didn't want it, all I wanted to was to get as far away as possible, I hated it. 

I got up, still groggy I tripped over the small black kitten from the night before, and walked to the bathroom. I ran the water for a moment and tried to get ready. Finally all washed I put on some outsider clothes, knowing it would at least annoy my mother a little, I slipped on a pair of tight black jeans and put a simple black shirt with designs on the front. I looked down and searched for some shoes, I slipped them one and skipped down the stairs. I needed coffee.

Once downstairs I smirked at Stephanie, she was wearing the traditional formal clave gown. I had a closet full of them, and I refused to wear them unless it was something important, like a birth or naming, marriage was not part of the Clave since men were forbidden. 

Stephanie saw my smirk, instead of taking the bait she just jolted her chin higher; it almost looked painful I thought to myself. I accidentally let out a small giggle, but mothers glare turned my mood into ice as I turned my giggles into a cough. I stopped myself by biting my bottom lip to keep from cracking up again. It was "unladylike". I quickly excused myself, saying I'd be right back. 

I could hear them talking about me, but I'd given up on trying to please mother a long time ago. It was impossible. I walked back down the hallway to go sit for a while, Sydney was like my mothers identical twin, I couldn't handle them all at the same time. I made up my mind finally, I decided I would talk to my mother about being a something other than a healer. but that would have to wait. I reached my room and sat down to think, I honestly couldn't stand the both of them. As I sat on my bed, my dog, Baley came in to say hi. I scratched behind her ears as she leaned over me. See not even the dog I thought, wondering what men had done to be shunned out of the Clave. It had to have happened over century ago, since then they had become forsaken. 

Baley scrambled under my bed as mother swung the door open, fortunately without Sydney, though I knew full well she would know of it. Mother looked flustered, I was used to this routine. I waited for her to make the opposing move, as I prepared my defense. I thought to my self oh dear, here it comes.

"Abandoning a guest? does nothing shame you?" She was exasperated, I had to choose my words as wisely as I could. "I felt I was... unwelcome.." I said pausing, choosing my words. " the conversation, so I  excused myself." I said trying to sound sincere, but I wasn't. 

My mother mumbled something about me being like my father, which was illegal, She only got away with it because she was the Saktar. Of course she got rid of every evidence that he existed, After having me she hid me until she rose in the ranks and only then was I "allowed" to be there.  She had joined the Ta-yetka clan after leaving him in the outside world, that's what I heard anyway, she never spoke about him. I almost brought him up, but I stopped myself, not wanting to make things worse.  

Mother Opened her mouth but then quickly closed it, finally she said, "You will be confined indoors until Stephanie leaves, in 5 days, I expect you to be on your best" she paused emphasizing the last word, "behavior." I took her punishment well, it was cold outside, and it wasn't like I wanted to go outside without a reason. I tried looking crest fallen, it worked. She turned and left, saying behind her shoulder "Supper is in 15 minutes, and I expect  you to wear your formal gown." 

I almost groaned but I held it in, She knew how much I hated those things. but I had to hurry, the gowns had the awful talent of not only being incredibly itchy, but also took forever to get on. Plus I had gotten off relatively easy, it was partly because mother had other things to worry about, and partly because she didn't really mind me not being there. It didn't bother me that much anyway. 

I walked down the steps in the least traditional, and least uncomfortable, gown I had. It wasn't ugly, but I wouldn't put it on my shopping list.  


The End

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