“You're not going anywhere.”
We heard his angry words rattle throughout the dungeon like a giant's. Quickly we swung our heads around to spot him standing right in front of us. Behind him, on the other side of the bars, Rickie was laying silently still.
I gasped in shock, still supporting Lucious's weight on my own. I was more than able to help him out of here if I needed too but I was still wary of waging a war with Chris.
It was then that Lucious bent his head down and whispered the words that made my heart thump.
“Get out of here, Mikael.”
I looked at him in worry. “I'll help you.”
“Oh,” He shifted his own legs underneath him and grabbed hold of my hand. “He won't hurt me, Mikael. But you... he wouldn't think twice.”
With his strength, he removed my arm from around his neck. Freeing me from my grasp and freeing himself from any sense of my helping him. I knew he was serious.
“Yes, yes.. Mikael,” Chris's words rattled out. “Run!” He chuckled.
“Get out of here!” Lucious ordered.
Slowly, I walked away with my head bent to stare at the ground. He had refused my help. Did he truly believe I wasn't strong enough to fight alongside him? Whether this was for my own good, or for his. I honestly felt as if he did not need me beside him any longer.
“Chris,” Lucious began. “I still cannot understand what this is about.”
“But I've already told you, Lucious. I wanted to free you from her. Now I have done so... Your misfortune with Mikael could not have been predicted.”
“And for exactly what reason?” Lucious wondered.
“Because I want you to myself. It's just a shame that I couldn't have formed the bond with you in the first place. Now it's simply impossible... unless you stay with me.”
Lucious grumbled under breath.
“You know I would never hurt you or deny you of those simple pleasures.” Chris continued. “Stay with me and you will be a free man. Never bound to anyone again, never to feel their wounds... your heart will remain painless.”
I walked until I was back upstairs where the struggle between Serena and Chris took place.
However, I was shocked to see Serena's body laying still upon the ground. Her blood ran down and soaked into the cracks of the marble floor.
I got down on my knee and soon her arm reached up for me.
“Mikael,” She sputtered. “Help me up, will you?”
I shook my head. “But you're dying.”
Her arm immediately dropped to the floor and she gasped for her final breath. “Impossible!”
I watched as her body slumped down, the tension in her muscles disappeared and that final breath of air escaped her lungs completely.
She had finally met her end in Chris's hands.
This only worried me more. If he had enough power to take down Serena, a strong elder vampyre, then what could he possibly do to me or Lucious?
It was then I realized that maybe it was for the best that I leave. If it was true that Chris would never harm Lucious, I did not want to see him release his rage upon me.
I continued to make my way out of the mansion with all these thoughts rolling through my mind.
Lucious refused my help, Chris had delivered Serena to her death, and Lucious was down there now with him... fighting him with all his might. Would I see him again after this?
I stopped dead in my tracks. What am I doing?
I had to help him regardless of his cold shouldered order. I had to at least see for myself that I was strong enough.
For all the love in this world, for all the fear I felt that I could lose him... my partner, my companion... despite the tragic loss of that bond we shared... for that bond remained not in the blood we shared but in our own hearts.
I needed to prove to him that I was, indeed, strong enough.
I stood there, heavily debating my actions. I so desperately wanted to show Lucious that I was strong enough. I had battled living with denial for decades without giving up, that was truly a sign of strength in itself. With his help, we could surely take Chris down and escape.
It was decided then that I would go back down the stairs and into the gloomy dungeon. I was prepared to fight till death, if need be.
“Listen to me, Lucious,” Chris continued, his cold arms now wrapped around Lucious's shoulders. “I can feel your desire, your rage. You need me and always have. I know now your bond with Mikael, and how your hearts thirst but you do not know just how weak his is. How wrong he is.”
Lucious stood still listening to Chris with doubt.
“For you, he could only get you repeated trouble.” Chris went on. “A strong, handsome vampire such as yourself does not need such weakness around him.”
I had finally made my way downstairs. There I saw Rickie, knelt down upon the floor, his head lowered and eyes closed. He listened in to the conversation between Chris and Lucious just on the other side of the prison bars.
“It's not true,” I heard Lucious whisper.
When I looked up, I noted Chris embracing Lucious with his strong arms. Again I had felt my heart thump.
“But it's so very true, Lucious,” Chris spoke up now. “Mikael is weak. And I can only foresee him being overpowered. If you so happen to stay with him, it could only cause you more pain and more suffering. That which you do not need.”
“So it is true,” I heard Rickie's voice whisper silently. “He never truly wanted me beside him...”
I sighed. And as Chris continued to speak ill of me, I continued to watch as the look on Lucious's face slowly turned from doubtful and disturbed, to acknowledgement.
“He could never really show you love as you require, Lucious,” Chris told. “I'm the only one who could protect you, love you, show you mercy...”
I noted Lucious' face turn neutral. “But what of Mikael—“
“He needs to leave,” Chris interrupted. “And never return here again.”
My hopes were shattered. Any belief that I could save Lucious from here, escape with him and into hiding again, were gone. I looked up at the two standing on the other side of the bars with sorrow, silently whispering my final good byes.
That is when his eyes caught mine.
“Mikael!” Lucious called out.
But it was too late. I got the point all too clearly.
Maybe I was too weak, Chris was correct. And if Lucious believed his words now, then I would follow Chris's advice and leave.
As I began again up the stairs, I overheard the door to the prison open and footsteps through the hall. Lucious stood behind me, his loud voice echoing out throughout the dungeon. “Mikael, wait!”
However, I wasn't bound to stop. This was the end.
I continued to walk up the stairs and out into the foyer as Lucious followed, calling out to me.
Passing by Serena's body, I didn't dare to stop when I heard Lucious shutter at the sight of her. “Serena! What happened?” I heard him ask. “Damn it, Mikael. Would you stop and tell me what happened here?”
I slowed my pace. Serena was, after all, Lucious' dark maker. He did deserve to know that I knew nothing other than she was dead.
“I did not see it.” I told, “I could only assume Chris took her.”
“Impossible...” I heard Lucious from behind me.
However I wasn't near in the mood to stop now. I continued my way towards the door.
“Stop, damn it,” he continued to yell out to me.
I could only wipe the hair away from my eyes and continue to walk out the door.
I felt the cold, brisk air brush against my naked arms as I walked outside. Remembering back to the day when Lucious had told me that seeing a snowfall in Central was a rarity. Even now, though, with the icy breeze consuming the city, I expected a flake to come down from the sky.
“Please.” His tone was that of anger, and I finally stopped.
I had never heard that word come out from his lips until now. To hear his voice echo that single word made my heart drop. But my mind was set.
“Why?” I wondered, my voice soft.
Behind me I could only imagine him cocking his head to the side in wonder of my question. “Why should you stop? Or why are you leaving like this?”
I took a few more steps until I was out underneath the shield of dark clouds. I looked up at the sky and noted the moon peaking out as the clouds dissipated for a brief second.
“Do you believe him?” I questioned. “Do you believe I am as weak as he says?”
I heard Lucious step forward. “Mikael, don't believe a word of it. I know you are full of power, stronger than I even.” He continued to approach.
“Stop!” I turned my head around to look at him. I did not want him to approach me anymore.
Somewhere deep inside I felt as if he was lying to me all along. This bond we contracted was nothing more than deception and now that it was gone, what reason was there to stay with him any longer? Especially now that he believed such slanderous words against me.
“Don't follow me,” I asked of him.
“Mikael, don't do this.”
I turned back around and looked up at the eerie moon once more. Soon, I felt a snowflake land on my cold nose. Strange how it was only a couple of months ago that this adventure started. And now, with the snow coming down harder on my face, our journey was coming to an end.
“Maybe I just need time, Lucious. Time to grow. Time to figure out this new life of mine.”
I heard him step forward again. “And what should you do in this time?”
“I, honestly, do not know. Just... let me be, Lucious. Please.. this is all I ask from you now. Do not follow me.”
Those were my last words before I disappeared away from him and this dreary mansion. I could only hope that he would not follow just as I had asked.