The Vampire's Reflection (Of Light and Darkness #2) - Chapter Fourteen


Becoming

Nikolai sat on the edge of the bed, trying to breathe through the jaggedness of the pain. He laced his fingers together at the back of his head. He had surely died and gone to hell. After all, where was his life now? No other pain he could manage to inflict upon himself could distract from the raging that was scalding him from the inside out. His family's screams haunted him so heavily.

His chest was on fire. His heart felt as if it were going to ashes. The pain was sharp and relentless as it spread up from his sternum to the sides of his throat-deadly acid within his esophagus. Clenching his teeth together, he was afraid to open his mouth. For if he did, the flames would surely come shooting out. His gums throbbed. One-two. One-two. That was the only thing keeping him even remotely sane-counting every last pulsation of his still-living heartbeat.

Nikolai had been awake for only an hour, finding himself in this strange, new bedroom. It was old, its furnishings antique, as though he'd been transported into another time. Everything was garnet and gold. The tapestries. The bedclothes. The monster must have brought him there somehow. Last evening was the strangest he'd ever endured. After the odd boy had finished his explanation, and his request, he'd left Nikolai alone in the stark catacombs to digest all of the information he'd just been given. The boy said his name was Aiden. Aiden...an Irish name. How very odd. He didn't expect this seemingly all-powerful being to be called something so...human. The bruises on his back, left over from when Aiden had slammed him against the stony walls, bothered him slightly when he shifted in the bed.

Upon examining this new bedchamber further, Nikolai found that Aiden had locked the door. Not that it mattered much. Nikolai wasn't about to try and escape, for he had no idea what city he was in, let alone what realm he was in. Nikolai's own ignorance was the thing that barred him the most. Not Aiden, the boy beast.

Last evening had been so eerily quiet and still. He'd lain on that stone slab, reliving the memory of his family's slaughter over and over and over. He didn't know how long it was going to haunt him. He almost didn't mind it anyway, for at least he could continue to see their faces. He'd remained like that for hours, completely tormented by the visions of souls past, and it would probably continue to haunt him for the rest of his existence. He wondered when he'd fallen asleep long enough for Aiden to transport him up here. He wanted so much to die.

Finally, the bedroom door creaked open on its seemingly ancient hinges. Nikolai stared at the strange boy as he entered. A devilish smile played across his pale, inhuman lips, finally revealed. He'd taken off the scarf he'd initially worn around the lower half of his face. And what was more, was that there was a threatening pair of incisors just behind those lips. Nikolai stifled a gasp. What exactly was he? A Demon? A Vampire?

"We are ready to leave," Aiden said, pushing his bangs behind one pointed ear, revealing the intensity of the unnatural color of his one eye. "The plan is in motion. We have to make a move now."

"Please," Nikolai managed to choke out. "I can't take it anymore. You have to kill me."

Abruptly, Aiden sent the hard back of his hand clear across Nikolai's jaw, knocking him to the floor. Nikolai stared down as the disgusting mixture of blood and saliva spewed from his mouth. "Do not be so pathetic!"

Nikolai glared up at him from his place on the floor.

Aiden looked back with a glint in his eye and a sort of understanding smirk. "You know something, Nikolai," he spoke again, magically lifting him to his feet without touching him at all. "I believe that to know thy enemy is to become thy enemy. Wouldn't you agree?"

Nikolai couldn't answer. Paralyzed by fear, he was unable to spit out anything more.

"That is exactly what I've done." Aiden grinned darkly. "I have become my enemy. Now it is your turn." He began approaching Nikolai slowly, his hands clasped behind his back.

"But what is that?" Nikolai asked. "What am I, exactly?"

"You have the dark gift inside of you. It's what you were born with. It's what your father possessed. It's what your grandfather possessed." Aiden's eyes narrowed at the last part.

Nikolai gaped at him, not believing what he'd just heard. His arms dropped to his sides. "Wha-what? My father?"

"Yes." Aiden gave a cocky smile and tilted his head to one side, almost as if he resented Nikolai in some way. "Someone like you only comes around maybe every thousand years. Maybe. I needed to do a lot of research-pull a lot of records. You are what we call a Revenant. You are human for the time being, unfortunately, but you have the dark powers inside of you. They are dormant, but they are there." His voice grew quieter. "You are going to be very useful to me."

"It doesn't feel like they are very dormant. I don't

think my friends could do most of the tricks I can do." Nikolai snapped his fingers. The antique bedside table exploding to splinters. "Whoops," he said sarcastically. "Hope that wasn't worth a lot of money."

Aiden chuckled darkly, turning away from him. "It's nothing I can't afford to replace. And anyway, they are dormant. You may be able to pull off a few magic tricks now, but it's nothing compared to what your potential is when you're fully turned."

Nikolai winced. "What does that mean?"

"Nikolai." Aiden peered at him over his shoulder as he paced. "Did you know of your distant relatives? Your great-grandfather, perhaps?"

Nikolai winced. What an odd question. No. He didn't. And in fact, his father didn't either. His grandfather was as far back as his family's history went. "My grandfather was orphaned at infancy."

"Ah." Aiden nodded. "That sounds like someone else I know. Someone you'll come to know soon enough. I'll introduce you to your great-grandfather as well." His grin was crooked and thin.

What on earth was he talking about? He decided to change the subject. "What is the dark gift?" Nikolai asked. "The one inside of me?"

Aiden looked at him with a brighter gleam in his eye. "Vampirism."

Nikolai gasped slightly, his gaze dropping to his hands. That wasn't what he'd expected, after identifying for most of his childhood with a fictional boy wizard.

"It has been inside of you for generations. It lives in your family. They just never told you, because perhaps they didn't realize what the truth was themselves. You didn't have a good relationship with your father, did you?"

Nikolai was nothing more than a prisoner to this strangeness. Though it felt familiar somehow, like a nightmare he knew so well from when he was a child. He'd never belonged anywhere in his life, he knew that. And even though he was more miserable now than he'd ever been, there was the odd sensation of belonging. "No," he answered simply.

"I am afraid this is your destiny," Aiden said. He grasped Nikolai's palm. Turning it over, he traced the intricate system of lines with one of his claws. "You were meant to be nothing more than a monster. But not to worry. You'll find purpose in all of this soon enough." He sat Nikolai on the bed, eyes boring incredulously into his. "There is one more task left before you take your first human life and become whole." He glanced for a moment out the window, almost angry, as though the night itself had wronged him in some personal way. "We can't have you be just as weak as the mortal girl you are to go after. You possess fantastic powers, Nikolai, but you've never been exposed to the opportunity to make them even greater. There is something I can offer you." He turned back to Nikolai, placing a heavy hand on his shoulder. "I am about to relieve you from your torment. I can make you belong." His words seemed to weigh as much as his gesture did.

Nikolai frowned, not knowing at all what Aiden meant by that. Despite his own desperation, he leaned away from the boy-monster. "I don't think so." He clenched his jaw. He could see how dangerous things were about to become. "I don't want anything you're offering,"

But someone like Aiden proved too impossible to resist. Unsheathing a silvery blade from his belt, he flashed it in the pale moonlight. Nikolai flinched from it, immediately thinking the worst. But instead of attacking him with the blade, Aiden turned the thing on himself, slicing open his wrist. An odd sort of black liquid bubbled from it. "Drink from me. Do it. Don't be mindless. This will open up an entire world of power for you."

Nikolai's feet touched the floor, allowing him to back away. "No! I'm done. I'm leaving. I can't take it anymore. This is weirder than any fantasy movie I've ever seen. I'll figure out a way to survive on my own." Nikolai headed for the door, but as soon as his hand reached the knob, something of an electric shock reverberated through his body, slamming him back against the far wall and to the floor.

"Do not hurt my feelings!" Aiden bellowed. "I've offered you a gift, so I expect you to take it."

Nikolai struggled to cough, the wind having been knocked out of him. "Listen, you've got to stop doing that. I don't know what your fascination is with tossing me against walls-"

"I'm tired of talking, idiot." Aiden raced to him, holding him down to the floor. His power proved to be much greater than Nikolai's. He pressed the dripping, black contents of his wrist to Nikolai's lips. The smell wasn't particularly appealing. Nikolai gurgled against it as it dripped into his mouth. He tried to spit it out but some of it slid down his throat in spite of his efforts.

"Don't resist," Aiden whispered harshly against his ear. "You must listen to me, or

you'll become lost in this world. I know what's good for you. You need it. Just look at yourself."

The smell was too sour, the scent dominating, invading. It overtook everything else in the room. It wasn't disgusting; it just did nothing to draw him in. It was nothing like what his new instincts told him he might crave if he were ever to face it. It should have been deeper, somehow. Richer. It didn't smell...warm. Nikolai felt ridiculous thinking these things, and that these weren't the kinds of words that made any sense to him. What the hell was happening to him?

"You will get the real thing soon enough." Aiden's tone grew more demanding as he pushed his wrist against Nikolai's mouth. "Take it," he growled.

Nikolai's body began to react to what it was taking in. He started to shake with the hunger. He reached up to grasp Aiden's head, his arms and shoulders trembling with both the taste and the idea of what he was actually doing. He could see the strange boy's enchanted artery throb under his pale skin. Nikolai's gums ached as the stuff gushed over his tongue and down his throat.

"Take it," he heard Aiden will again.

The feeling was incomparable to anything he'd ever done in his human life. The moment Aiden's life slipped past his lips was the moment he lost any and all physical control. Aiden's blood was cool, and almost bitter as it ran thick. Nikolai shuddered with the boldness of the taste, wrinkling his nose, but it was at least doing something to douse the flames that smoldered inside of him.

Relief finally set in, though he found that pulling himself away from the rich life-flow was much more difficult than he anticipated. It filled his senses-sang to keep him there. Nikolai inhaled deeply as he continued to suck it in, feeling Aiden fight violently against him.

"Enough!" Aiden sent Nikolai hurtling into the bookshelf behind him, crushing the thing to splinters and throwing the volumes everywhere about the floor. "Didn't you hear me, you vile garbage? You insect? Enough, I said!" Aiden's voice boomed through the chamber, his auburn hair wild over his frenzied black eyes. His other hand gripped at the hemorrhaging wound at his wrist, the black blood oozing out from between his fingers.

Nikolai could only glare up at him through his dizzying drunkenness. The bitter, leftover taste twisted around in his guts -or was that just the bitterness he felt toward the dark and evil boy? Nonetheless, he wanted to wash the taste of him off his tongue. He rubbed the stain away from the corner of his mouth.

Aiden's overbearing shadow eclipsed Nikolai in a pool of darkness. "That should last you for some time, mongrel. It should be days before you are so bothered again," Aiden grumbled. "One last thing." He kneeled before Nikolai, grabbing at the back of his neck. "I must be linked to you as well."

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, fangs appeared behind Aiden's lips and he slammed them into the side of Nikolai's throat. He cried out from the intense pain of his own blood being ripped out from him. This was it, he thought. This was death. Something else strange occurred. A sound started to rush at him as if it were being called down a long, metallic tunnel. It started out incoherent and winding, though he could tell it was a voice-garbled, but natural. The sound began to form into words.

"Valek! Don't leave me. Valek!"

The voice sounded female and completely unfamiliar. Nikolai didn't recognize it all, he noted, as he tried to keep himself steady against the vacuuming sensation of being fed upon.

Aiden pulled away suddenly, wiping Nikolai's red leftovers from his mouth, which now held a deviant sort of smirk. "Perfect," he said. "That was exactly what I wanted to know."

"What's that?" Nikolai cried through clenched teeth. He held himself up against the bed posts, trying to calm his dizziness. "Who was that?"

"You'll find out soon enough." Aiden turned his back, deliberating something. "You have the power of seeing. That's interesting."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I mean mentally, you can travel through space. You can see anything and anyone you wish to see."

"Yeah, it came in handy a few times when I caught my girlfriends cheating. They had no idea how I found out. How did you make me do that, though? It was like you had control over it."

"Shut up. You sound just like the rest of them."

Nikolai pressed his palm against his open wound, feeling his skin tighten as it began to close. "Hey, you should be nice to me if you want me to stick around."

Aiden turned his deadly glare on Nikolai's face. If it were possible, that would have been enough to kill him. "I don't really think you have much of a choice."