I know they blame me. I blame myself too.
The night clung to them like cobwebs; the grief fractured spiders picking their way through the dark. Glade and Lexie clung to each other, desperately. It was always like that now.
In the days since Heather had died, since Kale had left Riverview, there was nothing but sadness- nothing but the knowledge of death. They tried to keep it from me, of course- Glade still smiled and Lexie still mirrored, but behind their eyes I could see the fear.
It's all my fault you see- if he hadn't of come after me then none of this would have happened. Heather is dead because of me. That's just something I'll have to live with, because she can't.
I know what they think when they look at me. Their minds just ache for the truth, for the understanding of what I am, but I can't even begin to comprehend the fantastic possibilities. I changed. I changed in an instant, and that changes everyone else too- because no matter who I am, no matter who loves me and keeps me grounded, there is something inside of me that's alien.
After Kale left Glade and Lexie became closer than ever, and that just left me shapeless, because with no support I can have no form. I sympathise with their actions entirely- I would probably do the same if I were in their shoes, but... I need them.
All these things that used to belong to me don't fit anymore. I don't fit anymore. I'm an obscurity- a dark mark on the landscape- and I don't know how to adjust.
There's so much confusion right now, but one thing I know for sure is that I cannot go on like this. I've seen so much but I still have so much more to learn. And so I must do just that- I must seek out the answers to the questions that haunt us all. Maybe then, maybe when I finally learn the truth, can we all be at peace.
The bar hummed with activity, the noise of a dozen quiet whispers reaching a dull roar. Atmosphere, on the rocks.
La Crypte was known in Riverview as the bad element; something Maia was only too aware of. Normally young girls such as herself wouldn't even dream of living in Riverview, let alone paying a visit to its dark heart, but regardless- that was where answers could be found so that's where she went.
As she slipped into the heavy darkness Maia surveyed the shadows. Danger lay faintly dormant, though always aware and hungry, but somehow Maia felt no fear. She knew why she was there, she knew what she had to do, and nothing could stand in her way.
If you want to hear secrets, nothing loosens eager tongues more than a hefty shot of persuasion. Maia discounted plans of subterfuge and trickery as she realised there was only one thing she had to do to get the answers she sought. Listen.
Maia had had so much practise at this- so many years of just waiting and watching that now it came naturally. Getting a drink from the bar, Maia sat down just metres away from the fiend that had murdered Heather, and listened. The darkest part of her ached for revenge; burned and scolded her to do it's will, but Maia knew that results could not be obtained that way. And so she sat and sipped quietly as the vampire spoke.
Engrossed in the conversation she barely noticed him enter the room... Then, looking up from the table, Maia felt her bones twist with fear as she came face to face with a thing of nightmares. He had found her.
Breaths came short and harsh, the air just falling out of Maia as she turned round in her chair. Was he still looking at her? What was he going to do? Would it hurt? Would she cry? Suddenly answers were the last thing on Maia's mind- she just wanted to escape.
Shivers of fear shook Maia from within, the core of her body feeling like ice and fire as she tried so hard to retain her calm. Amazingly it worked- her exterior was calm and composed, though as she got up from her seat her legs wobbled and shook her with them. The King watched as his daughter breezed past him, and said... nothing.
Maia could scarcely breathe as she passed the nightmare by, her fears on the cusp of coming to life but never quite making it. The King didn't shout out, didn't grab her. Only then did she remember something- he was looking for a tiny girl, she was now so much more than that. Of course he didn't recognise her- how could he?
Slipping onto a stool at the bar Maia finally felt some of the tension leave her. As she looked back she saw The King take a seat in the corner and realised she was of no consequence to him whatsoever- her existence was a meer tiny light just outside the reach of his shadow. Relieved, Maia's thoughts again returned to the mission in mind, and she began to listen once more to the plotting of the enemy.
The voices were lower now that The King had joined his subjects- the whispers more urgent and hushed. Maia strained to hear, and frowned when she was distracted by a man to her left who interupted her with joyful tones.
The stranger was persistant, and oddly cheerful- something rarely seen in a place like La Crypte. His voice was musical, calming and serene, and as he spoke Maia found herself wanting to listen.
Of course, with the man pulling her thoughts from the The King and his plans, Maia's mind was tricked into distraction- the sound of voices getting fainter and fainter as her smile grew wider.
Suddenly, in a flash, one word slipped through from the King's corner. It caught the edge of Maia's senses and snagged, and she grasped it before it drifted away.
It was enough, that one word, to make the fear rise like bile in her throat. Maia's heart dropped as she listened on to the idle chatter of epic proportions- talk of death and fighting and an army... Big things were coming, and so many stood to suffer.
Maia had heard enough. This wasn't what she had come to find out, but it was plenty- it was more than what she needed. Now the worries were laid bare all around her, the troubles piling up and making her feel sick, with no way of reaching the summit. But something there spoke of hope- something in The King's words resonated; gave a solution.
Tearing herself away from the pleasant man and his kind words, Maia forced a quick goodbye, and ran.
Night at its deepest, the stars burning brightly but affording no comfort. Maia wandered through the wilderness as she made her way to the graveyard, conducting plans in her mind but only serving to produce mild panic. It gnawed at her- the knowledge that something was desperately wrong- but she could not shake it.
Eventually Maia reached the mausoleum, and made her way down to the catacombs beneath.
For hours she remained in it's depths- the catacombs providing solace from the world outside as Maia sought out the scrap of hope she needed. When she eventually returned to the land above it was nearing dawn... but not close enough.
Maia knew them even before they stepped out from the shadows. The stood still- watching, waiting.
Vampires. Crueler than night, sharper than day. They waited for Maia, and she should have known.
Maia thought back to that day when she and Glade had nearly lost their lives- that day when Silver and Drake had first crept out from the darkness and threatened their existence. She should have known, she should have known. Vampires always had a way of seeking out the weak.
As the vampires began to advance, Maia had one last demented and desperate thought.
It's a good thing I'm already in a graveyard...
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a couple of cameo appearances there.
Marko Caldwell by ChicagoStorm
Nicole Pentameter by pentameter