Chapter 7 : V: Herein, part 3
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Louis Garrel as Toren Ellis
Guy Pierce as Izak
Eva Green as Alina
We finally reach the end of the big picture. The three part hell ride that I've sent you through. One depressing thing after the other, and it's about to get worse. Well at least I hope it is!
Without further adieu, the final part of Herein.
Standard Disclaimer: Anything you recognize in the story is not mine, but JK Rowling's. This story was inspired by a number of books, movies and other medias, but most specifically, the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. Thank you Mr. Herbert!
His back howled murder as he lied down on the cobblestone, but 409 knew that the cold sting of the floor was the only thing that could relieve it. Other prisoners got to be healed after torture, but not 409. Never 409. He would heal in his own time. He would suffer. His health didn’t really matter as long as he was still alive. A little pain was probably an added bonus to his captors.
Three minutes under the fire. He’d broken his own record. His personal best, he’d have to say. Wouldn’t be surprised if it were the prison record. Who knows? Maybe the next time he came out of his cell, a cheer from the other inmates would be there to greet him.
He turned and lied on his belly for a while, exposing his back to the dank air of his new cell. It was old hat by now. Every time they brought him out, he would be returned into a new cell. Each other dirtier than the last. He’d have Morrigan to thank for that. Gracious bloke that he was.
This cell was a lot like the one he used to have. No windows. One door. No light. No draft. Stuffy. Rank. As if the last tenant had died and been left to rot here. He wouldn’t be surprised, to be honest. The housekeeping in Azkaban was not nearly that efficient. Thankfully the Dementors were a thing of the past. He didn’t really need to add depression to his list of newly acquired traits. He had to thank the Great Harry Potter for that. Top notch he was. Sad that he died the way he did. Man defeated the Dark Lord, but he wasn’t invincible. The Death Eater recurrence took them by surprise. Many great heroes from the Second War died then. The next generation was left to put together the broken shards of their society. Who else would the people turn to but the glorious son himself? Albus was their savior. The man who rallied a nation and drove back the Death Eater bastards. Albus gave the world a new order of peace and prosperity.
If Albus had been such a savior, then why did he punish the world for all it had failed to become? Why did he kill his own brother? Why would he send men to rot in the very prison that his father detested?
409 had spent twelve years of his life contemplating over Albus Potter’s divinity.
Masks. That was all the people could see. Masks upon masks.
409 leapt up, damning the pain it had caused his burnt back. He scrambled to the walls. Pressing his ear against it. Following the sound. Running. His heart racing. His breath ragged. He followed it around his small cell. Followed it down to the floor. Followed it to the corner.
Small, sharp claws scrapping on the stone.
A tiny rat came out from the dark. Only to be met by his closed fist.
“Good ratty. Calm down now, I won’t hurt you,” he petted it as it squirmed and wriggled in his hands. He put the rat in his piss bucket and sealed it shut.
There was no other way out. Clara would understand. Everything would be clear once they got to Hail Mary Pass. She wouldn’t be able to understand - not here. Not under the shadow of the great vampire fortress, but once inside, she would understand everything.
Toren had not slept since he’d returned to England. Since his arrival at Base Camp. He didn’t trust Izak. Despite their many previous dealings, he’d never really grown to trust him. It was unfortunate enough because the entire survival of the resistance depended on his cooperation. If Izak decided to be true to his reputation and go back on his word, then all would have been for nothing. Toren would have been drained of ten pints of blood for absolutely nothing.
Stephen would have died for nothing.
If Izak betrayed them, then truce or no truce, Toren would kill him.
He picked up another batch of blood replenishing potion and drank it straight like a shot of whiskey. The bright red liquid burned down his throat and turned in his stomach like a bad drink but this was the only way he could keep his strength up. He’d been careful enough to smuggle it into vampire territory. Potions like it - like belladonna, gripners, blood replenishers - were considered gold when blood lust was concerned, especially around live prey. It meant a longer supply of fresh, warm blood. Toren was probably as reckless as everyone thought he was for bringing it there for the first place, but desperate times…
And how desperate they really were. In front of the others, he’d put on a strong face and a tough demeanor. Stephen’s death had left them leaderless and with his best friend’s burdens passing on to him, it was left to Toren to make the difficult decisions a leader had to make in order to keep the Watch alive. To keep them all alive. And what did the world give him in return?
Their once fiercest supporters became their fiercest opposition. The Watch was blamed for England’s fall into political decay. They were called cowards for running like a dogs when the Resistance needed them most. For all Toren cared, they could call him whatever they wanted, but the facts were these. The Watch was dying even before Stephen died. The first defeat at Hogwarts Castle, the fall of James Potter II and the First Council, the massacre at Norfolk, they’d all driven the Watch further and further back to the rocks. By the time the Fifth Council had taken command, the Chancery already had them by the neck.
“We have to do this, mate. If we don’t leave…everyone who’s ever helped us dies.”
“Bullshit Stephen! Are you saying that your father died just so we could go in hiding?! We run and the world falls! There’s got to be another way!”
“THEN TELL ME! FUCK TOREN! IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER IDEAS THEN TELL ME! That bastard, my own Uncle! He killed my father to prove a point. But we have to face the facts, the point has been proven and we can’t fight it anymore. Not for now at least. But if we go, we can gather our strengths up and fight again.”
“I will not yield like a coward!”
“Then you’re letting your pride and that thick head of yours get in the way. Sleep on it mate. We’ll talk about it in the morning, yeah?”
“Fuck the morning.”
Those had been the last words he’d ever spoken to his best friend. Fuck the morning. When the morning did come, it only came with more grief. News had come that Stephen was captured. Hours later, it was in the papers that James Potter II’s only son, ministry worker Stephen Potter had been found dead of causes unknown. Executing a member of the family would have been too messy. Stephen Potter had died without anyone ever knowing what he fought for. What he stood for. The mark on his arm had disappeared without a trace, only to appear on Toren’s arm the next morning. The council had to be complete.
There was no other way.
Just like there was no other way now.
It would have been better if she was alone. If she was the only one they had. One passage paid in full. No need to drain anyone. But she had to be a hero. She had to grab on and save him. Damn her! And they called him the impulsive one!
Fucking asshole. That was what she’d said. If only she’d just followed instructions. Simple enough. Run and activate your portkey.
Now things were harder. So much harder.
But Clara would understand. Once they were at Hail Mary Pass, she would understand.
A knock came to the door and Toren as cautious to open it slowly, his wand tight in hand.
The woman on the other side had long red hair and piercing blue eyes. The pale blue of death and decay that came with their white skin and borrowed blood. He’d not seen Alina in a long time, but she remained the same. Frozen as ever. She even had the same sly smile on her face that spoke of hundreds of years worth of secrets.
“Is this how you great an old friend? I knock and you point a wand at me?” She did not wait for him to invite her. A silly folk tale. “Is this your friend? The spare Izak was talking about?”
“When did you get here?” he did not bother with her small talk.
“Only a few minutes ago. I came here as soon as we docked. The transfer will only take a few hours and soon enough we’re to go.”
“You mean to tell me that the great vampires of Hail Mary Pass are willing to let two humans ride on the blood trade?”
“What would be more appropriate? Two sacks of fresh food traveling in the same delivery truck.”
Toren laughed. “I didn’t think the Priest trusted us that much. After all…how long has it been?”
“We stop counting after the first fifty years. After that, it all seems like such a bore. At any rate, he is in quite a hurry to see you. Important things to talk about, I assume. Leave the diplomats to their chatter.”
Toren didn’t like the way Alina was circling the sleeping Clara. Like a vulture around a dead body. Her eyes suddenly flashed white as a pearl so Toren was quick to pull her away. “I didn’t bring you a doggie bag.”
She rolled her eyes and took the chair beside her bed. “Truly Toren! As if I could even think of taking one sip? She’s not even the vintage I usually go for. And she looks so pale. Disease destroys the flavor. But…on the other hand…you…”
“Have been recently drained.” He held out his arms to show her the blackened spots where the IV needles had been stuck. “See Alina. I would never tempt you with fresh blood.”
“Tainted as always,” she scoffed. “Very well then. Sick or not, the girl must wake up. She has to get ready soon if she doesn’t want to be left here to be a snack for Izak. You know how much he likes snacks.”
Without sound or notice, Alina left the room quick as a chilling draft.
The vampire had been right. Clara was still pale. The last shot of belladonna he’d given her was enough to keep her week for another two days. He hadn’t thought that the Priest would want to see him so soon. Nevertheless, he shook her gently, calling out her name.
Her eyes fluttered open. There was so much trust in people’s eyes when they first woke from a good night’s rest. Sorry Clara. I am so sorry. “It’s time to go now.”
“But I thought you said…”
“Never mind what I said Clara. We need to go, alright?”
She nodded and he put her arms around his neck so he could carry her out. The belladonna had done it’s job well. She was lighter than before. It was all for the best. Vampires didn’t like sickly victims. As long as she stayed like this, no one would even think of biting her. They’d concentrate on his pulse. His neck.
They walked the stone cold corridors of the empty base. Made as a goblin watchtower before the vampires conquered it from them, every door in Base Camp was as if it were made for a child. Toren had to duck a couple of times. If the torches weren’t lit, you were likely to hit your head on solid stone but he already knew his way around.
He could hear the running engines of the trucks even before he reached the main courtyard. The Red River, they called it. The Vampire Blood Trade. A secret that had kept humans safe for the better half of a century. Vampires were forbidden by their laws as well as human law from taking a human life, but in return, they expected to be fed and fed sufficiently. Every two months, the vampires of Hail Mary Pass came down from their haven and collected their payment for keeping their fangs to themselves.
Toren lay Clara inside the truck that Alina had pointed to.
He handed her a wand and clasped her fingers tightly around it. “I’ll be back soon, alright?”
Alina and Izak both had been overseeing the entire operation. Keeping inventory of each barrel that went into the icy cold trucks, wary of each other’s watchful eye.
“You take no more than agreed, yes?” Izak’s heavily accented voice barked at her. “You take more and your beloved Priest would have one less bitch to feed.”
Before Alina could reply, Toren had pulled her aside. Probably for the best. Izak was still powerful in the vampire community. If Alina decided to be stupid enough to take him up on his insults, there would be more damage than satisfaction. Izak held the Blood Trade allocation in his pale hands. Piss him off an an entire coven would go hungry for two months.
“No need to worry Toren, I know my place.”
“Cut the small talk Alina! Has the Priest agreed?”
“He will tell you himself when you go up.”
“If you tell me now, I wouldn’t have to go up!”
“And spare him the pleasure of our company? I don’t think so. He has missed you Toren. Especially since Stephen’s death.”
“Don’t you dare!” Toren warned her.
“We knew him far before we knew you, boy. Understand that. And at least he knew to respect his elders”
If only there was another way. If only there was another way. As much as Toren hated to admit it, he was afraid. He wondered if Stephen had been afraid. If only there was another way. But there wasn’t. Toren had known that even before they went into hiding. Like always, Stephen was right. Even in death, he was right.
The last barrel loaded and it was time. Hail Mary Pass.
Clara will understand. She’ll understand.
“Are you ready to go, Toren?”
Sorry Clara. He nodded. There is no other way.
“Good,” she smiled. “Let me just——”
She turned around to go back to the dock.
Izak was gone.
Like the crashing ocean on the rocks, the the clash of metal on metal didn’t stop. One after the other, mixed with laughter and chatter. It seemed routine to them. Something they’d already done too many times to do it seriously. Clara already knew what it was. Toren may have kept secrets from her, but she wasn’t so innocent as he would have liked to believe. She was a member of the Fifth Council. She had a mark on her forearm. She was once a member of the Norfolk division. She’d lived with the ghosts of the massacre and still managed to keep them from haunting her every night of her life.
The men used to tell stories about it around the bonfire, hours before a raid. It was the sound of the fabled Blood Trade.
She was dancing between sleep and the light of the bright lights from outside the truck. In the end, the fluttering slivers of white from behind her closed eyes had one out and she opened them. Cursing her curiosity and the current weakness of her body, Clara damned it all anyway and peaked outside the window. Just one glance.
Her heart jumped. The pale, dire face of a hungry vampire was looking right at her.
“You think we could not smell you there, yes?” Izak gleamed at her. “Please, fiatal kisállat. Do not take us for fools, yes?”
She quickly drew back and closed her eyes, trying to take a deep breath to calm her, but Izak opened the truck door and leaned on the frame. Seemingly taking in the scent around him. The scent of the cold. The scent of death held at a stopper by ice and frost. Izak smiled.
There was no use now. Weak as she was, she sat upright and held a stone face to him. She felt cold steel behind her. Cold. Hard. It sent a chill up her spine. She could see the faint glimmer of the vampire’s fangs. His pale blue eyes fading to show white. “I just wanted to know what all the noise was about,” she said to him, her jaw set. “That’s no crime, is it?” Her defiant tone spat at him.
“Yes,” the words slithered from his tongue. “No crime.”
“Toren said he’ll be back soon.”
“Yes. He will be back soon.”
Still, he stood there. Closer now than he was before. Leaning closer and closer. His eyes fixed on the throbbing veins in her neck. “You are recovering quite well kisállat. Toren brought you here so weak. So frail. We all were very worried for you,” his finger, cold as ice, grazed her cheek, sliding down to the slope of her neck.
Clara stiffened. She was trapped. The vampires from the courtyard surely saw her there but no one seemed to care. Even if she called for Toren, he was most likely too far from her to hear.
“How long it has been since I taste blood from fresh, warm girl.” he leaned closer yet again, now pressing against her. His mouth to her ear. “Maybe hundred years? Since the Priest signed his treaty? I’d even forgotten taste of human flesh. I remember it was sweet back then. Before pollution.”
“One bite and you break your oath. One drop of my blood and every Cryllian within ten miles of this place will burn all of your crypts and cut your heads.”
“Very good kisállat. You know our laws well. Then you should know also that you are not here as friend. Trespasser,” he purred the last word like a sweet secret in her ear. Like last words before the execution.
“But Toren paid!” Clara growled, remembering how they dragged him from this very hall. How they drained him of five pints of his blood. Ten in total.
“Yes. He pay for one. I accept one. He pay for two…this is his own choice. I say I keep you both, yes. But I did not say I would keep you both alive.” His hand was around her neck now. His nails teasing to dig into her skin. His breath so close it made the hair on her nape stand.
She pushed him away.
Before he could come any closer, she took the wand Toren had left her and pointed it directly at him.
“Don’t be a fool kisállat, ah. Killing me would break your precious treaty.”
“Maybe its for the better.” She was a member of the Norfolk division. She had seen death and given it out. One more life wouldn’t mean anything. Whether it was her own or Izak’s. She didn’t want to be weak anymore.
The vampires from behind stopped their work and rushed to their commander’s aid, only to be held by a gesture from him. “Shoot one spell from that stick of yours and my brothers will tear you like paper,"
Clara’s fatigue seemed to slowly vanish or maybe she mustered just enough strength to smirk at him. “Oh believe me. It’ll be worth it,”
Izak’s smile vanished and his eyes smoldered in anger. He was about to give the signal when a resounding voice came from behind.
It was Toren. She was sure! It was Toren’s voice. As Izak moved to look behind him, she saw a flash of his face. A nod from him. She was about to cast a spell, run to him so they could escape.
But Izak’s hand dropped.
And suddenly, all she could hear was a hundred growls and the rabid tearing flesh.
Hear heart stopped.
Clara closed her eyes. She would not give into it again. She wouldn’t look. She wouldn’t look at his blood. His own Red River, slowly flowing - oozing - outward, spreading on the floor as it leaked from his body. They’d drained him once of half to pay for assurance. Then another half to pay for safety. Now, all his blood was gone. All ten. Ten pints down vampire throats, drenching their clothes, dripping from the corner of their lips to the ground below.
“A waste of good blood,” Clara heard Izak say.
“You idiot! You were supposed to kill the girl! Not Toren!” a woman had hit him.
Still the others were feeding. Feeding. Draining. How many pints now?
“I would be happy to oblige but that would be pressing good luck. What crime could we accuse girl of to justify her blood?” Izak’s laughter, his wild laughter almost sounded like the Killing Curse as it shot through the air.
“The Priest won’t be happy.”
“Your Priest has no power here. Not with me.”
“He wanted to see Toren Ellis! Alive! We needed a member of the Watch!”
“And you have one!”
Clara felt her arm pulled and she was forced to open her eyes. Toren’s body wasn’t there anymore. The blood was still there though. Smeared on the floor like paint. Bright red paint. But no one was looking at it. As glaring as it stood on the gray concrete, no one seemed to notice. Both the woman and Izak were looking at her arm. Izak had pulled up Clara’s sleeve to reveal the lighting bolt on her arm.
“A drained body for show of strength and a live pulse for show of knowledge. A fit present for your Priest, yes?”
“What am I supposed to do with your leftovers? Keep the body. The girl will have to do.”
Author's Note, Revisted: There, you know. Toren is dead. I am a murderer. You know what he whispered in my ear while I was writing this final draft, "I'm not going to reach Hail Mary Pass alive, am I?"
Translations: fiatal kisállat means young pet.