My head hurt. My whole body hurt with an ache to rattle my bones.
At first, I wasn’t sure where I was. The floor is cold and hard and wet. My mouth felt sticky with a bitter taste. I also didn’t know how long I’d been there. There was so little light and my eyes were refusing to adjust. But then a faint scent caught my attention. It couldn’t be…I couldn’t be here. But the smell of the moonflowers that surrounded the place was unmistakable.
I knew this place. I once lived here with the others, before that night…The night we gave up our humanity to save our lives.
“Have you figured it out?”
Her voice hadn’t changed at all. Small and gentle, just like the girl it belonged to. The girl we left for dead. Well, maybe not for dead, as death would have been a better alternative to what had truly happened on another night smothered in the scent of moonflowers.
My sight finally starting to adjust, I was able to catch her small outline against the far wall. Her dark hair seemed to drink in the blackness that surrounded us, but her eyes were as bright and shining as the moon that stood vigil over the night outside. That was a sign, one we all knew.
She had Turned.
“Oh, Brioni, I’m so sorry,” I breathed.
I expected her to scoff, but she didn’t react at all other than just a tilt of her head. Like a cat with a mouse. A predator curious about it’s prey.
“You left me.”
Her tone wasn’t even accusing, only stating a simple matter of fact. She took a step forward and I scrambled to my feet, only to have the world spin away beneath me. I could feel my heart beat in my head and the rough, dead-end wall behind me was all I had to keep from falling. Another step towards me, and I had no where to go. Those bright eyes let her see as clear as day, and she would be on me in moments if I tried to run. She was hoping for it, as all great beasts like a chase before the kill. It builds an appetite.
Without warning, Brioni convulsed horribly and let out a scream that echoed against the stone walls of the round the room. Tonight the moon was at it’s greatest, it would not be long until it’s pull took hold of Brioni to release the beast. And I would not be able to save myself. I had finally begun to recognize what I was feeling; the dizziness and clouded thinking, the bitter taste.
Noirwood poisoning wasn’t fatal, but it did have the effect of causing lethargy along with dampening magic. I was defenseless. Just like she had been.
Brioni recovered from the shock of pain that rattled through her body and started forward again, drawing in ragged breaths.
“You left me, Noni.” That voice was no longer soft, an edge had laced it’s way through.
“You…” she growled, pausing in her tracks. “You left me in here with that monster!”
“We had to! It was the only way we could escape.”
I knew it was pointless to reason. I didn’t even believe myself. None of us did, no matter how often we uttered those false truths. The words were ash in our mouths and piercing to our ears.
“It was your magic that locked me in.” I could see her face, still so beautiful. Round cheeks ad full lips. Piercing grey eyes. No doubt the Beast had torn her apart, but any scars made that night would have healed to oblivion by now.
“Yes. It was me.”
There was no denying I’d sealed the place with a hurried spell, knowing she was still in here, hurt and alone. Well, not alone, the beast had been in here too. The beast we all thought could be handled if only he were caged.
How wrong we had been. And she had paid the price for our pride.
She stalked closer, her eyes glinting brighter by the second. Then a scream broke free and her small form started to shift. Larger and larger she grew, her teeth and nails falling out to make way for fangs and claws, midnight black and deathly sharp.
She was magnificent in her horror.
And merciless in my death.
I would never blame her. My sweet Brioni, what a monster I was to leave you.
I will never leave you again.
And neither will any of the others once you have them in sight of those bright eyes.