Revenge P.2 | iv

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She came back slowly. As the world took shape, all she could see were shadows passing left and right before her. Words—voices drifted to her in pieces, her brain too sluggish to put them all together. Soon she realized the images were only shadows because there was something over her head. She moved to take it off when wooden spikes bit into her skin. She was tied; hands behind her back, around the waist and ankles. Nerina tried to get free again, grimaced.

When the bag came off docile little Cassandra stood, looking at her. Nerina shifted against her restraints again itching to slap the look off the other woman's face. Eve had broken the mold with this one.

"Pleased?" Nerina asked her.

"Wouldn't you be?"

Eve watched them both. She reluctantly had to admit that Cassandra in some ways was dim and dull in comparison to Nerina. She did not have much fight in her. Eve was not even sure if she could muster up a good temper. On the other hand, she was obedient and caused minimal disruptions. Eve frowned. She still was not satisfied. She had had Nerina as she wanted her for over a century. Eve missed that.

Sacrifices, she said to herself, a necessity for the greater good of the plan. What had once been a happy amusement had become a major thorn in her side. She had been sidetracked long enough.

Gathered around to witness the spectacle to come were vampires she had already made. She had another batch changing below ground as she stood there. The humans she had managed to warp were products of experiments she had used the years to perfect. With compulsion and some vampire blood—her blood—she had made them into mindless deviants who did her bidding. Not human but not vampires either. They could enter homes and they would die for her without question. That part of her plan satisfied her.

"Looks like our guest of honor is finally awake and ready to join us."

Nerina looked up from her conversation with Cassandra to see Eve sitting in a chair by the door of her quarters watching them. She was flanked by two vampires—guards, on either side.

"Didn't realize we were having a celebration," Nerina spat in Eve's direction.

"A sendoff really," Eve corrected.

Nerina looked over at Cassandra who had moved to stand to her side. She looked back at Eve when she started to speak again.

"Seems your meddling has come to an end little mouse." Eve nodded to Cassandra who took up a torch from nearby.

Nerina struggled against her restraints. As the wood broke skin, poison transferring into the wound, it kept her weak and Cassandra amused. It looked like it was the young woman's personal touch. Tied to a stake in the middle of the gathering there was a miniature pyre beneath her feet. She had taken Eve down the first time by fire and now her sire was returning the favor. Nerina had always wondered what would be waiting for her on the other side. As damned as her soul was all she could see was her being spat into the fiery chasms of hell. Nerina continued to fight against her restraint.

"Afraid to do it yourself," Nerina taunted. "How long do you think this one will last before you get tired of her?" She asked, looking at the other woman. Cassandra's face contorted in silent rage. She hissed at Nerina her fangs lengthening. "You mean nothing to her. Just a mindless piece of meat she controls to do her bidding. I was her favorite," Nerina looked over at Eve, "will always be her favorite because she couldn't break me the way she so easily broke you."

"Defiant to the end Nerina," Eve said, standing. "You will forever be my greatest creation." Though Eve had decided not to label her as such, she did it now. "And my greatest failure."

"You will know no peace."

"Nor will you, little mouse. Your soul will live in torment until the end of days. And I," Eve said stretching her hands out, "will rule the world I will create."

Nerina struggled against her bonds screaming at the woman who had created her. She had come here to stop Eve and she had failed.

Cassandra, with a smirk, touched the torch to the heap of kindling under Nerina's feet. She kept fighting, ignoring the heat as it built around her. She cursed Eve to hell and back. As the fire rose to engulf her body, lapping from her heel up her leg, traveling along her clothes as it claimed her, a scream exploded from her body. The sound of it penetrated and echoed through the night. It was a scream of pain and rage. The fire crackled as it consumed all flesh.

Eve sat in her chair the flames dancing in her crimson eyes as she watched what was supposed to be her greatest work go up in flames. She looked over at Cassandra. She would have to do.

Nerina went on screaming as fire melted skin, eating through flesh to scorch her very bones. She was screaming for some time until she realized she was no longer burning. She stopped her eyes still squeezed shut. She was dead. When she opened them, she would be in hell. Nerina had begged the earth to swallow her and it had. Where she was, the things she saw would stay with her forever.

Nerina felt a yank and she was somewhere else. She was back at the compound tied to the stake but the place was empty. There was no sign of anyone. No Cassandra, no Eve, no vampires, no humans locked in cages. For a second she wondered if it had all been an elaborate hallucination, then she looked down at herself.

Her skin was melted and peeling. A mass of burns and blisters. Nerina screamed. The smell of her own seared flesh made her sick. Was this her hell? What about the things she had seen. The things that had reached for her their faces contoured in so much pain. She was all alone now, every inch of her that she could see was blackened with burns. The pain was one consistent throbbing all over her body. She looked away eyes closed weeping. The tears stung the blisters on her face.

"You've certainly looked better."

Her sob broke—stopped. Nerina's head snapped up at the familiar voice. "Fionn?"

"In the flesh," he moved his head considering. "Well no. Not really."

"You ascended." Nerina amazed herself with the fact that she was not completely falling apart considering there was not much holding her together at this point. She had never thought she would ever see him again. Never thought she would want to see him again. Some part of her was happy, the other still angry at his betrayal. And another part prayed he would stay with her and she wouldn't have to face what she had seen again. Their wailing was a distant echo in her mind she could not silence. She reached for her anger towards the man before her, using it as an anchor.

"Should you be here?"

Fionn had seen the change in her emotions.

"I doubt the wife will be very pleased." Nerina continued.

"Latvia," he said the name irritably, "is not my wife. Being promised to someone against your will is not the same as saying the vows of marriage."

Nerina said nothing else. She remained where she was in silence. Her afterlife was certainly looking bleak.

Fionn did not know what to say. There was much to say but this was not the time. It would never be the time. "Say something," he told her.

"I was just set on fire. I just saw—" she caught herself. "You can understand why I may not be in the mood to talk. But if you could scrape me down I would appreciate it." Nerina could feel her skin melted into the wood she was bounded to. Whenever she tried to move she felt her skin tearing.

"You're still on fire."

She stopped moving looking up at him. "I think I would know if I was still on fire."

Fionn waved his hand and instead of being removed from the stake, she saw another scene blending into the one around her. In the other picture, she was watching herself on fire. She was no longer screaming. The image faded leaving her alone with Fionn.

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