Chapter 15: Conflict Within

The others automatically shielded me and Haunter in a small circle with Creep turning into his real form as a sigbin. Ataru’s cards were out and Sephora’s eyes turned into luminous violet while she gathered some leaves from the grasses that were swirling overhead.

I felt my eyes change, and my fangs were bared, so did Haunter’s when a platoon of ninjas and Medjays appeared, surrounding us. The owner of that unfamiliar voice was a lady vampire who was dressed like me. She looked like she was in her late twenties in human life. She was known to be a warrior elder, one of The Six Elders, and I knew her by name—Akantha, The Thorn. Well, I think she’d practically prove it now.

She was taller than me, slender with short sandy blond hair, green eyes, and average looks. She held a sword that was pointed at me. She stepped back when Creep was bluffing her. His whip-like tail threateningly hovered, which she didn’t underestimate at all and that was just right for her.

Before anyone could move, Creep already battered the ninjas and Medjays on his own and with the speed that was rather unbelievable. By the time that he was back to his position, everyone just collapsed and Akantha was frozen in her place.

“How could you do it that fast?” I asked Creep telepathically, as usual.

“She hasn’t given the order yet so they couldn’t do anything to me,” and he chuckled while waving his dangerous tail close to Akantha’s face.

Haunter approached her, but it seemed that her sword was useless when he held her hand and she dropped the sword uselessly. They fought in hand-to-hand combat, which the rest of us merely watched. In fairness, the elder couldn’t be called as such if he or she was merely a lowly fighter. This one was not really weak that I first thought when she dropped the sword. It seemed that she did it deliberately to fight fair with this wolf. How noble!

It went on for about half an hour when she summoned some more Medjays and ninjas. However, they merely looked on as the elder fought with Haunter. When she gave her order, that was when the Medjays and ninjas attacked us simultaneously, and we did what we could to save ourselves. I even witnessed Crina’s strength as she tore the Medjay’s body in half, separating the upper body from the lower part. She even ate some flesh of the dead Medjay before it shred into silvery dust and she faced another opponent.

The fight went on for about another half hour, only a couple of Medjays and ninjas were left, when another platoon of Akantha’s guards arrived. This time, it was composed of vampires. I picked up the elder’s silver sword, and I turned to the others.

“Stand back. I’ll handle them,” I told them. I knew that the users were already exhausted. Creep, on the other hand, also spent his energy more than us, and I wanted him to save it as well. Crina stepped forward though and I nodded. She was the only one I could rely on at the moment while Haunter was busy fighting with Akantha.

Crina pummeled the remaining ninjas and Medjays while the vampires almost simultaneously pounced on me. However, with the use of the sword, it was quicker to end them this way. Well, it was an enlightening moment.

Akantha screamed with rage when I killed all the twenty vampires for only a couple of minutes, while Crina ate the rest of the Medjays and ninjas before they turned into ashes. I observed that ninjas and Medjays did not readily turn to dust when they die, unlike ordinary vamps.

I turned to face Akantha when she stopped fighting with Haunter. It was so clear that the wolf was playing with her, because if he wasn’t, she would have been dead by now even though she was powerful—that much I knew.

I approached to where she stood and Haunter stepped back. He looked at my hand that was still holding the sword.

“With what you’ve done, I can tell that you don’t like me, either,” I declared while I shook the sword to get rid of the blood stains from the blade.

“Yes, I gathered that I’m not the only one who wants you dead.” She gave me an irritating smirk.

I raised the sword and pointed it to her. Her eyes were mere slits as she glared at me threatening her.

“I see that elders are doing their thing now that the Dark Empress is being threatened by some old powerful vampires,” I stated while I inched the sword closer to her throat.

“Yes, I heard it is all because of Dena. She’s not even one of The Six Elders, and yet, she can stir the Dark World with mere whispers.” She then chuckled.

I crinkled my nose. That was true. I wondered how she could do that. Perhaps she was one of the oldest vampires living until today and it meant that she was also compelling? Was this is all about? Power? She wanted to be the Dark Empress so much that is why she is doing all these miserable things like trying to kill me? What would she gain if I were dead? I still could not comprehend it.

“Then why shouldn’t you punish her for doing this? She’s the root of it all,” I asked Akantha instead. “If she’s dead, everything will be back to normal, right?

She laughed mockingly. “Are you seriously asking me that, Saber?

I was confused. “What do you mean?

She shifted her gaze from me to Haunter and then back. “It seems to me that the Dark Empress has already made her decision but you’re so blind to see it!

I was taken aback. I was still confused by her words. They didn’t make sense at all. Then I half-consciously pointed the sword to the ground and listened to her speech instead.

“It has been years since Dena and her allies talked about the Dark Empress’ assassination. You were not around because you value your freedom from your maker, which Dena plotted to make you think so, ever since she changed you into what you are now, Saber. Yes, she made you think that you’re free all this time. You didn’t know that she has even turned you into a weapon that you are now.

I swallowed and blinked. I shook my head. “You’re lying!” I hissed.

She laughed again. “She plotted everything that happened to you along your way, Saber. What do you think of those fights you had in the past? Mere coincidences? And the people you met? You think they were just there at the right time for you to meet like it was destiny?” She laughed again and then she shook her head. “You’re so naïve, I just realized that.

I blinked at her in disbelief. I felt my blood go cold. Everything that I could remember, every memory, it was all Dena’s doing? Did it also include…? I shook that notion off my head. I didn’t want to think of him.

“She plotted everything?” I queried in a whisper.

“You fell for everything she has laid down on your path, Saber. She’s been doing it since the very beginning,” she disclosed.

I pointed the sword again to her with my eyes changing. Right now, I hated her and my maker.

“Tell me that you’re lying!” My voice was controlled but firm.

“I won’t take back my words even if you’re going to kill me now, Saber.” She shook her head. She didn’t flinch even though the tip of the sword was slowly burying her flesh, and blood started to trickle down her chest.

In anger, I bared my fangs and with inhumane speed, I cut her neck, turning her into silvery dust. I didn’t care what consequences I’d face when it would be known that I killed—or rather executed—an elder on her own front yard, as she was unarmed. It didn’t matter to me anymore. I was already judged even before I did this anyway. So what difference would it make?

I was seething. I stabbed the ground where her ashes were. The corner of my eyes grew hot. I slowly kneeled down, and my angry thoughts were directed to Dena. I never hated her the way I hated her right this very moment. I gnashed my teeth; my fangs cut my lips.

Haunter was before me after a few moments and he held me into his embrace. I settled after that, like my anger was fading away by his mere touch. I swallowed and looked into his gentle blue eyes with teary eyes.

“Do you believe what she said? Is it not destiny that I even met you weeks ago?” I put my confusion into words, questioning him.

He stroked my hair and kissed my forehead. “Whatever she said, so long that it comes to our meeting, it was destiny for us, Saber. No one plotted it.

“But I met you right after I ran away from Dena,” I reasoned out.

How could I believe in destiny now when I’ve just learned that Dena had something to do with everything I did in the past? Even with my past lover, did she plot it as well? And my meeting with Creep, was it her doing, too?

“Shh… I never knew Dena until that night when Creep showed me and Vesh. And I believe that it was also destiny for you to meet Creep some decades ago. Don’t believe everything that fucking elder said to you. Alright?” Haunter did his best to make me feel better. He kissed my forehead again and the tip of my nose.

Slowly, my confusion was clearing up. I had to face this now, whether or not everything that happened and everyone that I met in my life after I was turned were faked by my maker. I vowed that I would clear up everything one by one until I get to meet my maker again and get back at her.

I was so going to get back at her! This I vowed. I’ll make her pay for everything she’d done.

Haunter’s phone rang, which disturbed my deep thoughts. He answered it. It was Vesh, saying they have located the Dark Empress. It turned out that we were still some hours away from Rome.

We went inside the huge mansion, and the galvanization I felt slowly faded as I presumed that Akantha’s underlings escaped after witnessing her demise.

I sighed. Haunter suggested that we’d rest a few hours before following the Dark Empress who was now in Rome.

Now that the mansion had no mistress, it was already mine. And the others of our kind would soon know about it as well. I looked around while the others rested in a room upstairs. Haunter followed me in the library when he finished his second call that came from Farkas.

He pulled me after he was seated in a chair. I ended up seating on his lap, and he raised his hand to give me his wrist.

“You need blood after that fight earlier,” he said with caring in his eyes and voice.

I hesitated but then he bit his own wrist and put it in my mouth to drink. So I did. It really tasted good. Both he and Ji-Yun had special blood, which I loved the most compared to humans. I thanked him after a few minutes that I fed on him. Then I saw his wound heal quickly. He looked at me tenderly and smiled.

“We’ll get Dena,” he promised, caressing my face.

I smiled at him weakly, and I rested my head on his strong shoulder. He slept like that while I kept on thinking about my past and Dena. Mostly Dena. And I hated it. I closed my eyes, wishing I could sleep and temporarily forget all that I heard tonight. But I knew that it won’t happen. I was too bothered by everything Akantha said.

Morning came. Haunter opened his eyes and smiled when he noticed that I was still resting on his lap. I jumped up realizing that he must be sore or numb for being in that position for so long. He chuckled and asked why I acted that way.

“You’re not numb or anything?” I asked back.

“No. Don’t worry about me,” he said and pulled me back onto his lap. He gave me a morning kiss, which made my heart jump with delight. It was not an illusion anymore. Ever since I was with him, my heart started to literally beat again. But it was like a puzzle, as I was undead.

“We already had breakfast. Ready to go now?” Ataru knocked on the door and peeked inside.

“Yes, in a minute,” Haunter answered and the user retreated after closing the door. His eyes traveled at every contour of my face. He reached out to caress my cheek. “We’ll be fine. And you’ll be fine. We still have a long way to go together. And I intend to make it a happy journey for you, for us, even though it might not be perfect just like some other people’s fantasy when love is involved. We’re different from them. But I want to make you happy, Saber.

“I know,” I said confidently though, holding Akantha’s sword that is now in a beautifully designed silver and gold scabbard.

He smiled and gave me a peck. We went out together, and two cars were ready. Crina, Creep, and Sephora took a hatchback, while Haunter, Ataru, and I rode in a sports car. A couple of wolves came before we were off to the highway. They were members of Haunter’s pack that were going to man the mansion while we were gone. They were going to mark it as one of their—or rather, our—territories.

I could just imagine how pissed off Dena could be right now if the news had already made it to her ears. I wondered who would be the next assassins she would send for me. Or, if the Dark Empress would be the one to do that after learning the demise of one of The Six Elders— who were considered as pillars of the Dark World.

“I forgot to ask you who hit the plane,” I told Creep in our telepathy.

“I sensed that it was a lightning user that was responsible for it and I sensed him in that location. So… that’s what happened. But he got away. Sorry,” he explained.

I sighed. “It’s fine. Besides, we earned another property as compensation,” I lightened up his mood of being guilty. But to think about the people who died because of it… “But a lightning user? I thought that the users can only use when the thing is present.

“It seems that there’s some kind of mystery to that,” he thought with the same confusion I had.

Could there be a sage behind it?

“Well, we’re going to find out sooner or later, aren’t we?” I heard in my thought that he agreed, and I sighed again.

Haunter got a call while he was driving. It was Vesh, saying that they were still tailing the Dark Empress. Well, that was a relief because she was still alive. I took a deep breath and looked at the trees, landscapes, and houses that we passed by. If I were normally traveling, I had the time to enjoy and appreciate their beauty. However, my mind was still in a riot because of the things I learned ever since I parted from Dena’s clan.

All this time, I was living in a world of lies that was built by my maker. Thinking about this made me hate her even more and to not forgive her ever. She changed me just to play with my life? I did turn perhaps more than a couple of dozens but I didn’t teach them to lead them astray. And every person that I turned into a vampire had reasons behind it, which I held with pride, value, and good ethics that were good for my fellow being. I wondered though where they were now. They were scattered around the world, almost all those memorable places I’d been.

I did kill many undead beings but it was because of self-preservation, an instinct that a human possessed. I may be undead and a bloodsucker but I still carried my human self and morals, which Dena was trying so hard to discard all these years. That much was clear to me. But the plots she had done for me to be like this today? It was just beyond my comprehension.

“I say, don’t think about it anymore,” Haunter advised, glancing sideways as I was seated next to him while Ataru leaned back in the backseat with his eyes closed.

I shook my head. “I still can’t believe it, that’s all.

He reached out to hold my hand and put them together on his thigh.

“If you really want to know, maybe you can ask Dena herself if and when you happen to see her again.” He smiled. “Which I hope would happen fast before I kill her with my own bare hands.” He glanced at me once again and gave me that sexy smile.

I knew deep inside that he meant it. But I shook my head.

“It’s not easy to kill her. There’s something about her…”

“It’s because she’s your maker. But if you put your mind into it, you can kill her as well. But since you might hesitate, I’ll do the job for you. I have no attachments to her whatsoever, so I figure that it’d be easy for me—easier for me than for you,” he butted in.

I snorted. “Why are you so confident that you’ll be able to kill my maker?

“Why not? I think she’s just like any vampire that’s easy to kill,” he answered confidently.

I smirked at him. “You can’t say that if you’re face to face with her. She is formidable, beautiful, manipulative, charming, and deadly.

He chuckled. “Are you describing yourself minus the manipulative part?

I laughed at him. The wolf was as charming as he could—and he was. I loved him to the deepest part of my soulless being. He still teased me more and made me laugh more and more. I never had this good laugh for a long time, after I was changed into a bloodsucker—thanks to Dena for that, I thought bitterly. But on the brighter side, I wouldn’t meet someone to love like Haunter if I were dead thousands of years ago.

“I love you, Saber,” he said in the end.

I smiled as he kissed my hand, and just then, the car screeched to a halt and swerved when lightning struck down a tree that was about to crash fast toward us.

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