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30 April 2006 @ 11:29 pm
Aubrey: Hush Still Monsters, chapter twenty-three -novel  
Chapter Twenty-Three
A Bloody Treasure

Panic raced through every inch of my body. It was a tingling sensation that relentlessly hacked away at my nerves and my senses. I could no longer see the passing museum around us as we hurriedly searched the remaining halls. I could no longer smell the blood that was quickly covering the floor in a new red paint that would linger for a long while. There was nothing outside of my panic except for a focused vision on the one thing that we were looking for. Aubrey’s being was the only thing that could break through the fog of fear that had surrounded itself around me. I no longer paid attention to Ulric’s utterances of reassurance. The only thing I could focus on was Aubrey and the hope that he wasn’t already dead.

I had lost track of time since we had first entered the museum, but as we hunted for Aubrey, I could no longer tell how many minutes or hours were being wasted. All I knew was that we had to find him and if we didn’t, we would all die. If Aubrey couldn’t kill Alexander, then there was no one who could. And Alexander wouldn’t stop by just killing Aubrey. He would make sure that we were all dead. No witnesses to the power battle of the vampires in Boston.

That’s why when we found Aubrey lying in a pool of his own blood that was so large I couldn’t believe it all belonged to him, I wanted to admit defeat and call it a night. I was ready to be killed by Alexander when I saw the motionless body of Aubrey lying on the floor. His legs lay stretched out, his left leg tattered with scratches and bite marks. There was a long slash along his torso which was supplying the steadily growing pool of blood beneath him. It was an ugly slash and I knew of a weapon that could have made that slash; Maddock’s sword. Aubrey’s face was turned away from us, but I could see blood smeared onto the side of his cheek. His arms were lain out to the sides and one of his hands was gripping onto a piece of black fabric.

I wanted to run to him. I wanted to go to him and give him life again, but Fin held me back. Even as I blindly struggled against Fin’s hands and ignored what he was whispering to me, the only thing I could see was Aubrey’s body. There was no one else now, not with Aubrey lying there the way he was. Before, when I had seen Aubrey close to death, it had been Duncan who had held him in his arms. I had watched on, as a bystander, watching as someone who loved Aubrey with all their hearts had nursed him and cried over him. But now, there was only me. It would be I who would hold Aubrey and whisper reassurances in his ear as he healed. I hoped that this would be the last time I’d see Aubrey like this. I didn’t want to have to do it often, but I would be willing to do it as often as it happened. Because now, I loved him. It was time to tell him.

“Mia!” Ulric gripped my arm and I finally turned my head to acknowledge him. When all he did was stare back at me, I turned my head to look at Fin. When I met his eyes, I realized that I was not the only one who was shocked to find Aubrey in such a condition. But Fin had a different idea forming in his head.

“He’s still alive.” Fin said. It wasn’t said to reassure me. Fin had more to say. “Alexander wouldn’t leave him alive.” I watched Fin’s eyes and saw the thoughts that were going on behind them. He suspected that something was wrong. “It’s bait.”

“For what?” Mitch asked. “Aubrey’s the one that they want, why leave him as bait?”

“He’s not the only one they want.” Fin stared back at me. “They knew we wouldn’t leave him to fend for himself. This is a trap…for you.” He nodded his head towards me.

“For Mia? That’s doesn’t make sense.” Ulric chimed in and took a step protectively in front of me.

“Think about it.” Fin snapped. “She knows about the vampire race, she’s devoted to Aubrey, and they know we won’t leave her side. It’s a way to get all of us here,”

“Why not just kill him and hunt her down. That’s what vampires like to do.” Mitch added a snarl at the end of his statement. Fin turned to him and glared. There was a tension between the two that I hadn’t noticed before. Ulric stepped between them to keep them apart. “They wanted him alive.” Mitch said, turning around and walking away from the others.

I turned away from the conversation and looked back at Aubrey. The blood beneath him had spread more. “We’re wasting time.” I whispered and started towards him.

“Wait!” Fin and Ulric yelled out at the same time. I didn’t listen to them. I wasn’t about to let Aubrey bleed to death while the others argued about why he was still alive. Though, ignoring them was one of the stupidest things I’d done since I’d known Aubrey. It wasn’t my place to ignore advice about the undead that was given by other undead. I didn’t make it half way to Aubrey before I felt my feet kicked out from underneath me and there was a sharp blow to the side of my head. I saw stars and heard a high pitched ringing sound that screamed at my brain and made my body feel dull and heavy.

I don’t remember falling. Nor do I remember the screams that had accompanied my attack. They told me that some of the screams had been my own, but I don’t remember letting out a sound. I woke up on the floor, my cheek pressed against the tiles. My own blood was trickling down my face from a cut on the side of my head. It was pooling beneath my cheek and some had dripped into my mouth, leaving an ugly, coppery taste. I saw Aubrey lying across the room from me. He still hadn’t moved.

There was a commotion going on behind me, but I couldn’t make my body move. It refused to do anything I asked it to. I heard snarls and growls and the clash of metal upon metal. The fight must have been brutal, but I couldn’t turn my head to look. My body was numb and seemingly dead. I felt my eyes closing. They were so heavy, the world was so heavy and I couldn’t carry it anymore. Sleep sounded so good.

Before I could fall into oblivion, someone’s legs appeared in front of me. Their boots were coated in a thick layer of dried blood. Their pants were latched around their boots with straps, one still held a knife, the other had lost its weapon. The legs stopped in front of me, facing off menacingly. I tried to move my eyes up the body, but I could only see to the torso. I wanted to yell at them, scream at them.

Soon, they kneeled down and I saw a white mask. It was Maddock. His yellow eyes were staring back out at me from behind the mask, which had a smear of blood across the right cheek. His blonde braid tickled at the blood on the ground, dying the tip of his hair red. He had a sword drawn and was leaning on it as he kneeled in front of me. I thought I was looking at death. Here he was, looking at me before he killed me, I knew that he was going to. But he was toying with me, giving me hope right before he chopped my head off. He was the cruelest person I knew at the time. I just wanted him to kill me and get it over with.

“What makes you stay?” His voice whispered. I looked into those eyes. They were so dark yet so light at the same time. He could have drawn me in if he wanted to, and maybe in a way he did, but I felt as if I could look away any time I wanted to. I didn’t look away, however. I stared back at him and told him everything he wanted to know. I couldn’t explain why.

“I have to.” I whispered back to him, surprised that my voice had finally managed to show itself again.

“You could have run away a long time ago.” Maddock said, spinning his sword on the ground. The tip dug into the tile, leaving chips of plaster on the ground. “Could have left it all behind. That’s what so many people do.”

“I had to stay.” I repeated. “I tried to get away once, but you can’t run, not from this.”

“But you tried to run.”

“I was scared.”

“Would you run again if you were given the chance?”
I didn’t answer him. I didn’t know how to answer him. It wasn’t something I’d thought of in a while. The thought of leaving these people hadn’t been a thought I’d had. That wasn’t an option anymore. Now that I was thinking about it, I didn’t think that I could run away. Could I really leave behind Aubrey? What about Ulric? Thinking of them when they noticed that I was gone, I couldn’t imagine what they would do. Aubrey couldn’t lose again so soon after Duncan. Especially not someone he had opened up to. And Ulric, we had grown close.

Maddock sat down, cross legged in front of me. There was a snarl from somewhere behind me and then a dog-like whimper. I wanted to turn and look, but Maddock held me there in his gaze. I couldn’t look away now. He wanted an answer. He laid his sword across his lap, the point near my face. He could kill me in an instant. I knew that, he knew that, we both knew the situation we were in. But I didn’t know why Maddock was putting himself in this situation.

“No.” I whispered. “I wouldn’t run.”

“Why? Too deep in the rebellion? Enjoying the power?” Maddock chuckled and put a hand on my back. His touch sent a heated sensation throughout my body. I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to suppress the sudden sensual urge that Maddock sent through me. “Or is it something more?” He asked, the hint of lust in his voice. “Perhaps you enjoy being Aubrey’s slave? Tell me,” Maddock moved his hand up my back and towards my shoulder. He brushed my hair away from my face and gently tickled my neck. The sensations he was giving me were strong, but I fought against them. “Does Aubrey really please you that much? Or would you like to try something that can show you the true meaning of pleasure?” Maddock sat forward and leaned over me. I couldn’t move away, frozen in his powers now. He lowered himself towards me and put his face near mine. The mask made his presence all the more menacing. “I could show you such pleasure you wouldn’t need anyone else.” He whispered to me, stroking my head. He gently tickled my neck and I had to close my eyes again. I tried to block him out, but he pushed his presence into my every thought. No matter where I turned, he was there, pushing me to acknowledge him and take pleasure in him. But I couldn’t. I tried to focus on Aubrey. But he was slowly fading from my mind, Maddock taking his place. If Maddock had wanted to, he could have put lusty visions into my mind, but he was leaving room for my imagination. I wouldn’t play along with his game.

“We…we don’t…” I tried to tell Maddock about my and Aubrey’s relationship, but he didn’t give me the time.

“I am the greatest romance you will ever know. You will crave me. You will know me and I will know you and we will live as one. It will be a passion you’ve never felt before and we will please each other in such a way you will never want to leave my side.”

I struggled against Maddock’s touch as he put a hand on my thigh. “No.” I spat harshly at him, blocking him out and defying his grasp on my mind.

“Don’t worry, they all resist at first.” Maddock brushed the side of my cheek and pressed himself against me, wrapping an arm around my body and pulling me into his embrace. “But after I break you, you will learn to love me.”

With a harsh snarl, one of the wolves slammed into Maddock, throwing him backwards from me. He was yanked out of my consciousness and I finally gasped in air and pushed myself from the ground. I looked towards the wolf that had torn Maddock away from me. It was a darker wolf, Mitch. Turning my head, I looked towards Fin and Ulric. The two were fighting a couple of vampires I didn’t recognize. Ulric was in wolf form, and he was finally winning a match against the vampire. Fin quickly ended his fight by bringing his axe down on the vampire’s head. He turned to me and our eyes locked. I looked away, slightly ashamed for letting him down by not listening.

Mitch fought with Maddock like he was a brand new werewolf. He fought viciously and ripped at the vampire with teeth and claws and everything he had in him. Maddock fought back with ease. He used his sword to slice at Mitch, who dodged every blow Maddock send his way. Ulric rushed past me, running on all fours. He leaped when he was in range and was knocked away by Maddock. But Ulric caught the ground with his claws and growled at the vampire. With two werewolves to pay attention to, Maddock finally exerted himself from my mind altogether. Fin came up next to me and looked at me out of the corner of his eyes.

“I’m fine.” I answered before he even had to ask. I knew that he didn’t want to.

Ulric and Mitch leapt and snapped at Maddock with their jaws. It was a beautiful dance between the three. It was like Maddock was the lion trainer who had lost control of the lions. He moved with such gracefulness that I almost found myself attracted to him. It would have been easy to say that Maddock was gorgeous, even if I had never seen his face. He moved like a dancer, his limbs reaching and muscles stretching to the full capacity. His long, blonde braid swung around his lean body as he moved. The wolves never touched him, except to be blocked by his arms.

Fin didn’t move in to help them and I looked up at him. “Are you going to help?” I asked when he ignored me.

“They have blood lust now.” Fin said, as if it would explain everything. “They’re blinded by their thirst for blood. If I went in now, they may turn on me without thinking.”

I looked back towards the fight. Catching glimpses of Ulric’s eyes, I could see that there wasn’t a trace of Ulric in those eyes. It was completely the wolf. My friend wasn’t in that body anymore. It made a shiver go down my spine. I wondered if he would recognize me in this state. Probably not, and I didn’t want to find out any time soon.

Maddock swung his sword and it sliced Mitch’s arm, sending the wolf away to crash into the ground clumsily. Mitch let out a pained whimper and slowly he began to turn back into his human form, blood dripping down his arm. Ulric was left to fight alone. He circled Maddock, gauging him, growling as he did so. It was meant to intimidate Maddock, but the vampire didn’t show a sign of fear. He was having fun with the fight. There was no doubt in Maddock’s mind that he would win. I could see it in the way he moved. He was still fully confident in himself.

Ulric leapt, his arms out to the side and his razor claws ready to tear into Maddock’s flesh. Maddock brought his sword up, ready to slice into Ulric’s body. I clearly pictured the outcome of this move and I saw Ulric getting the sword stuck into his belly. I could see myself crying over his dead body, half wolf, half man. I felt the sadness that could have come along with this move. But that wasn’t how it played out. Ulric tucked into himself at the last second, bringing his feet out quickly. His feet connected with the sword on the sides, bringing it down and out of the way. Ulric’s upper body came forward swiftly and he slammed his claws into Maddock’s mask. There was a distinct shattering sound and Maddock’s body suddenly flailed wildly. His arm connected with Ulric’s side, sending the wolf flying. Ulric landed with a thump, but was up quickly; ready to pounce should he need to. He didn’t need to, however. Maddock was on the ground, his face in his hands. His mask had been shattered and was lying in pieces next to him. Strands of hair hung down around his face. He let out a loud shriek of horror and pain.

“No!” He screamed, his voice panicked and cracking. “Don’t look at me!” He hissed, waving his head around. He scampered to the wall, holding himself against it, trying to hide his face in the shadows. “Don’t look at me!” He screamed again, shoving his hand into the wall. He started climbing and suddenly scurried up the wall with such speed I had trouble following him. “Never look at me!” He screamed before he burst out a window and was gone.

Ulric was still in wolf form. He looked over at Mitch, who was nursing the cut on his arm. Then he turned to look at us. He gave me a look that asked if I was all right. I nodded to him. Fin grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. It was a little harsher than I would have liked, but I guessed that he had a right to be angry at me. I had run straight into a trap without listening to him. I would let him be mad.

Aubrey came back into my mind and I turned to look at him. His hand moved as if he felt my gaze upon him, wanting a sign of life. I looked towards Fin. “He needs help.” I whispered. Fin ignored me and sniffed the air. He closed his eyes and was quiet for quite a while. “Fin!” I pleaded, putting my hand on his arm. “He’s dying.”

“I know!” Fin growled, turning on me. He put a hand to my throat to make me be quiet. I choked quietly, suddenly unable to get air. “We’re not done fighting yet.” Fin hissed, letting me go. I coughed and took a step away from him, watching as he looked around the room. It was the first time I feared Fin. I was reminded that vampires were creatures that shouldn’t be reckoned with. They were often more violent than what was necessary.

“It’s a shame Maddock is such a coward.” The voice seemed to come from all around us. It echoed inside my head a few more times before I was finally able to shake its presence off of me. I looked around, expecting to see someone standing there, ready to pounce whenever my eyes found them. But I found no one. “I had rather high hopes for him, being so old and powerful and all.”

“Shut up, Alexander, and show yourself!” Fin yelled, twirling the axe in his hands. “I want my machete back.”

The machete was thrown at Fin’s feet and it landed stuck into the ground in front of him. He looked down at it and growled. There was blood on the blade. Fin slowly bent to pick it up, all the while expecting Alexander to come out and attack him. But he retrieved the machete without a problem. I watched the shadows in the room, leery of every single one of them. Who could guess which one held a vampire. I expected any minute to find myself looking into a pair of eyes. The thought almost made me laugh. When you look into shadows and the shadows look back, you know you’ve walked too long in the world of the undead. It was something I would learn to live with.

“What’s the matter Alexander, afraid to fight?” Fin asked, a spiteful tone to his voice.

Laughter filled the air. It crept over our skin and sent spikes into our ears. It was the most dreadful noise I’d ever known, like fingernails on a chalkboard. Like biting into a piece of tin foil, it hurt and made me wince. I didn’t want to hear it anymore, but even when the laughter had stopped, it vibrated inside my head.

A screech behind us made Fin and I turn around. Mitch was holding his chest, a large gash had been sliced across his skin. He let out a growl, “Damn bugger is quick.” He spat, blood trickling down the sides of his mouth. He slowly started to change into wolf form again. The transformation was slower than usual. I could only guess that he was tired of changing back and forth so many times in one night. I would have been tired as well.

“Stop playing games, Alexander!” Fin yelled. “Fight me!”

“Now you sound like Aubrey.” Alexander said. “And look where that got him. I barely even had to touch him. Maddock did most of the hurting. I merely made sure the job was done right.”

I clenched my hands into fists. I was getting angry and scared.

“Tell me, Fin,” Alexander suddenly appeared in front of Ulric. He gasped, finding himself looking straight into the barrel of a gun. “Do your puppies like silver?”

“No!” My voice tore out of my throat before I could stop in. Ulric’s eyes widened, the gun fired.