Rise, Rise – Chapter Nine

She looked out into the station, trying to see in the flickering light.  Forcing herself to remain calm, and keep her breathing level, she closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind.  Her eyes had started to play tricks on her.  Vague, white shapes would appear for only a moment, and then vanish like mist.  She had seen glimpses of them everywhere after the mirror cracked.  Here was no different.  It had to be nothing.  But, a nagging doubt pricked the back of her mind.  It was almost like that night, when the creature had suddenly vanished and the only mark that showed that anything had happened at all was the crack in the mirror.

She stopped suddenly, her heart pounding in her ears so loudly she wasn’t sure she had heard anything at all.  She was almost in the center of the station, momentarily confused by the flashing lights and not remembering the walk here.  The noise drifted to her ears, stronger this time.  It sounded like a man…crying.  She turned in the direction of the noise and saw a bench in a flicker of light.  Another flicker and she made out the remains of a Subway ad.  The crying was coming from the other side of the bench.  She slowly started walking around the bench, the eerie lights only playing on her fear.  He was suddenly clear, only to be thrown back into shadows.  He was wearing a black cloak, and a hood.  She suddenly felt a little better, but sadness threatened to overwhelm the fear that had been building in her.  He seemed so…familiar.

She started to speak when something bumped into her back.  She spun around, her heart racing into her head.  She could only make out a shadow of what was standing in front of her.  The light never touched it.

“Move aside, Maryanne.”  The shadow spoke with a voice that was surprisingly light, and full of authority.  It was a voice to be obeyed.

The voice sent ice up her spine, yet she couldn’t help but obey.  She was frozen by fear and uncertainty.  How did it know her name?  Only the suggestion compelling her to obey the voice was able to make her move.  She felt her legs stiffly move her away from the shadow.  She felt like she was covered in ice.

“Xanthiilus, stop this nonsense.  Tears do not suit you.”

Even though the command was not directed at her, she felt a brush of that persuasion pass through her mind.  The crying stopped, and in the corner of her eye she saw the man stand up.  He held himself confidently, and though tears streaked his face, she could see his almost otherworldly face through the failing light.  Silver eyes gleamed softly in the darkness and she no longer felt so cold.

“How many are left of your kind?”  The man had a pleasant voice, but it was marred with malice.

The shadow laughed.  “You killed Greyloh, and you have killed many of the lesser vampires.  But twelve Elders still remain.”  The shadow suddenly motioned toward Maryanne.  “She has a strong soul.  But it would seem she does not know what she is.  Nor does she know why she came here tonight.”

She could tell the shadow was smiling.  She could just feel it.  

The man turned toward her for the first time.  “I knew a Soulthief wouldn’t single her out unless there was something unusual about her.”

She tried to speak, but the shadow motioned at her, and the words drifted away from her mind.

“She is an Empath.  She can feel emotion.  This one is peculiar though.  She absorbs some of that emotion.  She is able to store it.”

“I know what an Empath is,” Xanthiilus said in a fierce whisper.  “What are you doing here?”

The shadow laughed.  It was surprisingly light and airy.  “I was looking for my pet.”  It glanced at the bench.  “I can see I was too late.”

Maryanne heard the sound of a sword being drawn from a sheath.  She glanced over at Xanthiilus just in time to see grey mist trailing from him like wings, and then he was gone.  Light suddenly flared back to life and the cold had seeped away.  She lurched, the reemergence of light momentarily blinding her.  Stumbling back, she heard her foot splash.  Splash?  There was a pool of water covering most of the station floor.  Maryanne spun around, frantically looking for Xanthiilus.  Or the shadow.  Anything to let her know she hadn’t imagined it.  That she wasn’t crazy.  Nothing, except water on the floor.  She ran to the stairs leading to the street, splashing across the pool.

Her feet kept her moving down the street.  It had started to snow again.  Normally, the snow offered some comfort to Maryanne.  She liked how pure it was.  This time, she barely noticed it.  When she finally stopped, she was unsure of where she was.  Nothing looked familiar.  Blinking neon letters informed her that she could purchase a variety of adult entertainment items.  If the store was open.  Momentarily curious, she looked into the grimy window of the building.  It was empty.  Looking around, she saw that all the buildings on the street were decrepit and abandoned.  A black movement caught her eye, and she saw the tail of a cloak flit around a corner.  She turned and followed it.  Not many people wore cloaks, and she had a good idea of who it belonged to.

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