Aria slowly woke in the dark. A distant light outlined the square stones that made up a kind of cell, a stone room, perhaps? Maybe a closet, Aria mused. She couldn’t quite tell. Three walls boxed her partially in, just wide enough to spread out flat on the floor where she was sprawled. Where the fourth wall should have been, or a door the room expanded out into a cavernous hall that vanished in the darkness.
Aria shifted her weight despite the ache that strained each joint and, based on the pain from her shoulder, the collection of bruises too.
The question came from around the wall. Aria almost opened her mouth to answer when a second voice, smooth like the first cut her off.
“They’ve positioned themselves globally. Strategically from the looks of things.” The second voice sounded as smooth as the first. And they were close. If she stood right then, she was certain they would hear. Despite the lack of chains or bars, she was sure she wasn’t free. Quietly, Aria moved closer, desperate to hear every word, though they made no attempt to talk privately.
“And their progress?” His was the voice of the swordsman who had held her back by the diner.
“As expected. They’re taking over,” said the second. “Some places have already been overrun. While others have been wiped out completely.”
“How much time?”
“If we leave them to their plans? Few weeks. Maybe a month. That depends on how proactive the humans decide to be.”
Aria pulled her feet under her and held her breath.
“Have their governing bodies made any decisions to move on them?” The Cold Swordsman asked.
“From the looks of it, they had no time. They’re already gone.”
Aria had no idea what that meant, but the worried sick she had at the diner was back stronger than ever.
“That doesn’t leave us much choice. Round them up.”
Aria bit down on her fist. Despite the barrage of questions and confusion, she was certain “them” meant humans and she was doubly sure that whoever or whatever “they” were, were the rotting bodies that had surrounded her.
“Come out,” called the Cold Swordsman. “I know you heard every word.”
Aria rose and, at that moment, made up her mind to stand tall. Without hesitation she stepped out from behind the wall, into the dim light.
Aria stood in a hall. A long wooden table—oak by the looks of it—stood as the centerpiece surrounded by rows of velvet chairs. Despite the number of of candelabras, wall sconces, and candlesticks only a handful of small candles were lit.
Strange, she thought over the obscene lack of electrical lights.
Beside the table’s head, the Cold Swordsman stood. Behind him a single set of stairs lined a wall she could barely see in the light. The steps rose up, ascending into the darkness. Aria looked back to her host. The pair of black eyes stared back. Set within a perfectly pale complexion, Aria could now see her captor clearly. His black hair was still sleeked back and hung long to his waist. He was tall and thin, but clearly strong. And powerful. She had no doubt the power harbored within his body. That was made very clear from where he stood and Aria could assess his full height at a few inches over six foot. He towered over her five foot four inches.
“Where is my father?” Aria asked getting right to the only question that mattered.
“Your father?” the swordsman repeated.
“My father.” Aria’s words were dangerously close to shouting, but she held back. She wasn’t about to show him emotion. She had already decided he wasn’t worth it.
“For the life of me, I truly don’t know,” he answered too politely.
Aria believed him.
“What do you want?” Aria asked forcing the question strong.
“A few things,” he answered. He then took that moment to look her over.
Visibly repressing a grin, he assessed her as if deciding her fit to ogle. “Your question is vague.”
“Who are you?” Aria asked slightly miffed at his admiration.
“Better.” He didn’t grin, but his eyes shone with a satisfied gleam. “I am Caius.”
“Why am I here?”
“I brought you here.” Caius said this as if he had done her a favor.
“What were…” Aria hesitated. All the words that came to mind were ludicrous. Down right foolish.
“Zombies?” Caius finished for her.
“Oh, don’t say it,” Aria said feeling the whole thing was ridiculous. She cringed face showing the first sign of emotion since she woke. Knowing better, she cursed herself and recomposed her cool head.
Caius chuckled. “Not quite, though they look the part, don’t they?”
Aria stared with disapproval she kept in check. None of this amused her and she wasn’t in the mood for games.
“What you saw was an invasion. The first of many,” he said. “While you slept, nearly fifty more have landed—”
“Your race is being wiped out.”
The blood drained from Aria’s brain and she felt herself sway.
“W—” She couldn’t speak.
“Have a seat,” Caius said, pointing to the long table set with chairs beside her. “You’ve had a long week.”
“Week?” Aria focused her attention back on Caius. “How long was I—”
“It’s been a week, Aria.”
“How do you know my name?”
“You must be hungry.”
At the mention of appetite, Aria suddenly noticed the ache in her belly and how small her stomach felt. Based on the curve of her trim torso, she assumed she had lost almost ten pounds in that week.
“I’ll have something brought up from the kitchens,” Caius offered.
“Where am I?” Aria asked curious where the kitchens were “up from.”
“You’re safe,” Caius said.
“I’m going.” Aria turned and, selecting a random direction, decided the best way to leave was in the opposite direction of Caius. She had made it a whole two steps and he was on her. In front of her. Holding her.
Aria had no time to respond. Caius was close, his mouth on her neck. His breath grazed her ear.
“Chains and bars don’t hold you,” he breathed touching his lip to her ear, “because we don’t need them.”
He placed a gentle kiss to the edge of her ear and cold slid down Aria. And with it, an understanding. The power she had felt from Caius was no illusion. She felt it in his arms. With no effort, he could snap her in two, and very little held him back from doing so. She wondered if he would even feel remorse for the action. If Caius wanted, nothing stopped him from taking. That was made very clear as he released her ear and, still holding her at the waist, permitted her a step back.
“You have much to learn, Aria,” Caius whispered. “Xavier.”
Aria jumped then realized someone had entered the room.
“Please escort Miss Aria to her chambers,” Caius said. It was polite and kind, because Aria was certain, he didn’t have to make any orders or demands of Xavier. There was no need. She heard the same compliance from the other.
“My Lord,” Xavier replied and Caius released his hold on her. Aria stared at Caius’ face and studied the callus emptiness there.
“Your heart is black,” Aria said. Her voice was low, just enough for only Caius to hear. “I see it in your eyes.”
Caius smiled proudly as if in that moment he was swept away with her. Before Caius could answer, Aria took her gaze from Caius, and followed Xavier out of the dimly lit cavernous hall up the stairs.
Last edited and updated 15 August 2016
Found errors? Let me know!
[contact-form-7 id=”12866″ title=”Basic Contact Form”]