A dull, throbbing pain pulsed through her head as she slowly regained consciousness. Darkness greeted unfocused eyes, a low murmuring seemed to surround her, the sound like a garbled stream as it echoed around the room. The room's smell slowly assaulted her senses, dank and musty with a strange odor that she couldn't quite place. And the cold. A chill that seemed to have settled right into her bones.[Lara]
tried to shake her head, to clear the fuzziness from her mind, only to find that she couldn't move. She couldn't talk. Panic seared through her, burning through the thick fog her mind slept under and she struggled to stay alert. The seconds ticked by, each seeming a minute longer than the last, dark brown eyes blindly roamed the room about her frantically. Everything lay beneath a damp veil, as if her body were enveloped by a thick layer of cotton. Had she been drugged?
As her eyesight slowly adjusted to the darkness, she could just make out dark shapes against the dim lighting at the edge of her periphery. There was light, just barely, but the unsteady flickering threw shadows of her captors over her. Candlelight. Where was she? A basement? A warehouse? Closing her eyes, she attempted to sharpen her dulled senses and gather her wits together. What was the last thing she remembered?...A black sedan, the executive board from her parents' company unexpectedly visiting, reading in her room, the sound of...gunshots, screams,...blood.
Her eyes flew open and a strangled gasp left her lips in a sigh. Her parents. The look of shock, of outrage and betrayal in her father's eyes...The haunting look of despair as her mother cried for her to run. But the blood...So red, the liquid crimson seeping through her mother's fingers as it spread across her father's white shirt...
Suddenly, hands grasped her arms and pulled her up without ceremony. The contact shocked her even as she lurched awkwardly up, the warmth of their hands contrasting greatly with her own chilled skin. It was then that she realized she was completly naked, and panic seized her anew. What was going on? Who were these people? What were they going to do to her? Were they going to rape her? Images of missing women began to flash before her eyes. Over the last few weeks, the news had regularly broadcast disappearances of young women, all from prominent families. Dread began to weigh down on her heart as she realized that she had most likely fallen victim as well.
Her body felt limp and heavy, escape was impossible in the steel grasps of the two men beside her. She sagged lifelessly between the two as they dragged her towards a circle of candles where another cloaked figure waited. Some sort of elaborate design was carved into the floor, but Lara's eyes had been drawn elsewhere. On the other side of the pentagon her horrified gaze had found lifeless limbs, glassy eyes, tangled waves of hair. The missing girls from the news stared eerily back at her with blank expressions, a pile of corpses thoughtlessly tossed away. It was then that she placed the strange smell. The sickly sweet scent of decay, of death.
Brought before the hooded man in the pentagon, her fate seemed sealed. Yet the glint of the blade, shining bright and silver from the depths of his voluminous sleeves, spurred her to try again, resulting in only a weak attempt to tug herself away. Oh god, I'm going to die...
For some reason, that one thought, the reality and finality of it steeled her and she quelled her fear. She was Lara Fedore and death was just another obstacle to face head-on.
A large and ornate goblet was brought towards her. Instinctively, she turned her head away, but a rough tug of her chin brought the edge of the goblet to her lips and the viscous liquid poured into her mouth. She gagged reflexively on the foul taste, the pungent stench made her feel sick to the stomach, and the texture -- thick, almost slimy -- threatened to regurgitate itself. As if expecting this reaction, her mouth and nose were both held firmly closed. All she could do was swallow as tears stung at her eyes.
Perhaps it was the drugs, or pure adrenaline that kept the pain at bay as the cloaked figure began slicing methodically into her arm. She watched, almost listlessly, as the blade cut into her skin, eyes never faltering as the word 'meretrix' took shape on her arm. It was hypnotic, watching her own blood well up through the cuts and slowly drip down her pale skin. Meretrix...the word seemed familiar, but a negative connotation came with it. Another cut across her palm caused her to wince, it was deep enough to grate along her drugged nerves and the blood dripped freely onto the...glowing?...floor.
Smoke sizzled up from the ground, it was as if her blood were evaporating on hot steel. The red mist seeped up from the carved letters, diabolus
, and she blinked as it slowly grew in density. Glowing eyes, red as crystallized blood, seemed to sweep over them in one slow movement. That one, almost lazy, glance saw right to the depths of their souls, stripping away both flesh and emotion. Finally, the eyes settled on Lana, an almost satirical glance. What is your heart's desire? Command me and I shall fulfill your wishes, so long as you're willing to pay the price.
The words meant nothing and everything to her at the same time. One obvious fact stood out to her. He wasn't one of them
Already weakened from drugs, and now blood loss, she fell to her hands and knees as her captors released her as they hurriedly stepped away. The leader pushed forwards eagerly, words -- incomprehensible to her -- spilled excitedly from his lips, and then...warmth. A warm liquid sprayed across her, panicked sounds came from the cultists gathered behind her. A frenzy of movement and suddenly light as a door was opened and hysterical cries could be heard fleeing. What was this?
In the dim lighting, her skin looked speckled now, dark flecks covered her like paint on a canvas. A hand was extended to her, the fingers long and delicate, darkened with the same black liquid. Her own injured hand reached up and she realized they were the same color. Blood. The warmth of lost life covered her, even as her own continued to seep out. Tell me, as you are the one who summoned me, what is it you most desire? Pay the cost I demand and your every wish will be fulfilled until you've attained your heart's desire.
It was like a veil had been lifted, her mind was clear and focused, her body was her own again, sharp pain lanced up her injured arm before settling to a dull throb. Her mind should've been racing, it should've been tripping over itself in an attempt to logically explain the entire chain of events. Instead, she stood before him, hand still grasped by his, and a thrill ran up her spine at the sight of his bloodied arm. The blood of her captors stood out stark and glistening against his skin. It was beautiful.
Again, a small part of her mind screamed at her. To stop, to stop and think things over, that none of this was real. But with her freedom, rage had taken the place of calm despair. Kneeling, she picked up the decapitated head of who she assumed to be, no, had
been, the leader. The weight of the head was heavy in her hands, real
, but it was his expression that mattered most. A look of surprise permanently etched into his features. A small flicker of satisfaction beat against her chest at this man's death, but it wasn't enough. Cradling the head against her, she stood to face her dark savior.
"Revenge." The rest didn't need to be said. The fire blazing in her eyes spoke volumes. She wanted these men dead, and she wanted them to suffer for it. She wanted all of their heads on a plate, from the most insignificant henchman, to the despicable mastermind.
She never asked what his price was. Only vengeance mattered.