Woohoo! Bianca’s back! I’m so excited to have a new chapter of An Empty Grave ready.
Previously on An Empty Grave,
“Where the hell are we?” Hayden asks, voicing the question that’s been echoing in my head.
“Somewhere hidden,” Killian responds.
We spot the house ahead. It’s a tiny little cabin with one light on inside.
Killian steps up to the door and knocks on it. We wait for an answer but after a minute we get no response.
I step away from the two and take a look around, finding for the most part nothing but trees. I go around the cabin and find a large green house.
“Guys, this way,” I call out, and take a step up to the door. There’s a light on inside and I can see movement through the foggy windows.
Slowly, I open the door.
“Well,” A voice says. “You must be the Huntress. I’ve been waiting for you.”
A petite woman with dark skin and thick curly black hair stares at the greenery in front of her. She’s dressed in a long black flowing gown with silver and gold bracelets wrapping around both wrists. She doesn’t look at me as I step through the doorway of her greenhouse. She tends the plants around her, touching the green leaves thoughtfully.
“You knew we were coming?” Hayden asks as she steps up behind me.
The witch turns to face us. Her black skin looks illuminating in the golden light that hangs above us, making her look ethereal and otherworldly. Her eyes are a golden brown that shine bright as she looks at me and then Hayden.
“Not you half-breed,” the witch tells Hayden before turning back to her plants as if dismissing her. “But you Huntress,” she says with a glance, “I knew one would make it this far. I didn’t think it would take this long, but what does time matter when you don’t age?” She asks the question sadly. “But you are the last, and if you fail there will be no one left to stop him.”
“What do you mean you don’t age?” I ask confusion clouding my brain. “How did you know we were coming? I thought Killian was a friend of yours. That he knew you used dark magic.”
The witch throws her head back and laughs, a loud raucous noise. When she sobers up, she looks past me.
“A friend? Killian, are you telling lies again?” The witch chuckles.
I glance back pinning Killian with a glare, finding him standing just behind Hayden. One side of his mouth lifts into a smirk. “I didn’t say she was a friend, lass. I just said I knew of a witch that was willing to help. This here is the original witch. She’s the one who turned the Aldinn into what he was.”
I whip my head back around, my eyes widening in shock. “You’re a vampire,” I whisper in shock.
The witch shakes her head. “No, I’m not. Immortal, yes, but not a vampire. I am bound by the curse that created the Aldinn. As long as he lives, as do I.”
“I don’t understand,” I tell her. “Then why would you even let us get to you if you knew we were coming?”
“Because, Huntress,” the witch hisses. “I want him dead more than you do.”
“Why?” I ask with a shake of my head. “Why would you do this? Create such evil just to want him dead?”
The witch pins me with a hard glare. “You seem to think I had a choice in creating vampires. He didn’t give me one.” She lets out a deep breath. “I’ve gone by many names over the centuries, but when he met me, I was Selene. I was taught the dark arts by my grandmother and shunned by my parents for listening to the old woman. But I couldn’t help it. Nature, it called to me. The magic was in my blood. At the time I was only doing things for those in the village. Love potions, forget-me-nots. Simple things. But I had a reputation.
There were stories of a man who was traveling through towns looking for a dark witch. He wanted to live forever. He wanted the impossible. By then my grandmother had been long dead and I hadn’t heard of another witch within my realm. There was only me. At first, I said no to him. I told him I wouldn’t do it. Grandmother had warned me about the magic and how it could be dangerous if you let it consume you if you went too far. I knew that making a man live forever was going too far. It was against the common laws of nature. Man was to live and then die. As it has been since the beginning of time. But he took my child. He was only two years old and the Aldinn said that if I didn’t do the spell, he would kill my son. So, I did it. But if he was going to live forever he would be doomed to suffer. Food wouldn’t fulfill his appetite. Blood would. And as long as he lived, he would be hunted. With him, the Huntresses were created. You would be the only ones that could kill him.
When he found out what I had did, he killed my son. He promised me that I would live a life of pain for what I had done to him. Though, I hadn’t realized what he had meant until after he was long gone. I was consumed with grief. All I wanted was to be with my son. I tried to end my own life. The blood seeped from my body and eventually, I passed out. Then, I woke up. Laying in the same place, blood dried around me. I tried it a dozen more times in different ways and the outcome was always the same. I realized that whatever I had done to keep the Aldinn alive, meant I was alive as well. So, yes, Huntress, I want that monster dead. I want to be dead. We were supposed to die a long time ago. And ever since then I have been waiting for the day a Huntress walks through my door asking what needs to be done.”
The witch, Selene, finishes her story and we’re all quiet, taking in her words.
“So, how do we do it?” Hayden asks, breaking the tense silence.
“It’s not ‘we’,” Selene sneers. “It’s the Huntress and only her. You might help her but she is the one who needs to kill him.” She turns her eyes on me. “You are the one who takes the risk.”
“You think there’s no risk in killing the original vampire?”
Something in her tone makes me frown, harder than I already am. “There’s something you’re not sharing.”
She squares her shoulders. “Killing the Aldinn, also destroys the thing that created him… Along with all the things he created in return.”
My stomach drops. My plan was to kill Aldinn, to find magic to somehow eliminate his, but I never thought that by killing him it would… wipe out all of us. All of those that I hold dear. Chase, Deklan, Hayden, myself. Even Killian. We would all die.
“The Huntress? The Protectors?” Hayden asks. “The vampires?”
Selene nods. “Including you, half-breed. All of you were created in response to the spell I created for him. My blood runs through him and in turn, it runs through you. It is my blood that makes all of this magic possible. Without it, what else do you have left? Nothing. You all will be nothing. You will cease to exist.”
I close my eyes for a moment, and take a deep breath. I can’t think about it. I can’t give myself time to think about what this all means. I reopen my eyes and focus on Selene.
“How do I do it?”
She nods in approval. “I – ”
“B,” Hayden starts and I turn to look at her. She and Killian wear grave faces but I don’t let it affect me.
“We have to,” I tell them both. “We can’t let him live. Look at what he’s done. To all of us. We can’t let him continu.”
Hayden has tears in her eyes but she nods anyways.
I turn back to Selene.
“What do I need?”
Selene turns away from us and walks to the back of the greenhouse. She takes out a small vial from a cabinet tucked in the back corner and a knife. Wordlessly, she slices her palm and holds the wound over the vial so her blood drips into it.
“My blood is what created the spell and only my blood can undo it. The Aldinn would have me locked away so that you can’t get this,” she says, nodding to the vial. “In fact, he has before. But I escaped and I learned how to hide.”
Once the vial is full she seals it with a small cork and brings it over to me. “Don’t lose it,” she tells me. “The other things you’ll need is wood from a very rare tree.”
“Okay, where do we find the tree?”
“Well, across a couple oceans at least.”
I frown and Selene laughs. “It’s the tree from my village. It was the oldest at the time and it was used as the binding object. My blood and something old from the earth. Once the Aldinn learned about the tree and it’s importance, he had them all burned. But I was able to save a piece.”
Again, Selene goes digging in the back of the green house. Literally digging. A moment later, she pulls an old rusted toolbox from the dirt and opens it. She pulls an object wrapped in a thin material from inside. She opens the material to reveal a thick piece of would, about inches long. Slowly, she brings it over.
“Cover the tip in my blood and plunge it into his heart on the next full moon and that is how you will be able to kill him. But you have to do it right. The full moon.”
“Why?” I ask, looking from the wood to her.
“Because I need a celestial event to harness all the power I will need. I have to do an unbinding spell and these items entering his heart will complete it. You miss the window and you will have to do all of this all over again. By then I’m sure the Aldinn will have found me. That means you won’t find me again and your shot will have been lost.”
I take a deep breath as I take the wood from her. No pressure or anything.
“The next full moon is in five days, Huntress. Don’t mess this up.”
I nod. “I won’t.”
Hayden grabs the vial and wood from me, then her and Killian walk back down to the boat. I start to follow but then something occurs to me and I find myself turning around.
“Why don’t you like Hayden?” I ask.
Selene raises her chin. “Because she is an abomination. Half vampire, half witch. Witches do not mix with vampires. We are earths creatures and vampires are the exact opposite.”
“Half witch? That means – ”
“Yes,” Selene nods. “That is the only way for her to exist. For a witch to have conceived her. Magic is what created her from the loins of a vampire.”
“Are you – ”
“No, child. I am not her mother. The Aldinn has a lot of witches within his inner circle. Surely, it was one of them. Trust me when I say, you’re friend is better of where she is.”
“five days,” she confirms.
I turn and leave not sure what else to say. I could say thanks, but all of this, even my existing is because of her and I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet.
“Huntress,” Selene calls when I’ve made it a good few feet.
Slowly, I turn and face her.
“What’s coming… it’s something none of us will expect,” she says, hauntingly. “It will be pain. You all with feel pain. You best prepare yourself.”
A shiver runs through me. I open my mouth but nothing comes out.
“B!” Hayden shouts through the air.
I give Selene one more look before I turn and jog to where the others are waiting. I find Killian and Hayden waiting at the fan boat with Maude. They both wear grave faces, and Maude looks… scared.
“What is it?” I ask her as I approach.
She glances around nervous. “The Aldinn has men actively searching for her. If they were to find her… what you’re trying to accomplish would never be able to work. We’ve kept people away, but something doesn’t feel right. There’s someone out there, and it’s not someone good.”
“Get in the boat,” Killian orders, and I listen, jumping up beside Hadyen. Maude starts the boat, and turns it around in haste.