Thursday, December 19, 2013

THE CONCLUSION OF "DESCENT" (BOOK 1) *UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT

And we are at the finish line. Here is the conclusion: Chapter 53 through the Epilogue. :)

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section or scroll to previous posts (in case I don't update the CHAPTERS section right away) to read the Prologue-Chapter 52 before proceeding

I've been MIA online in recent days as I try to finish this book's most recent draft and an editing job I'm doing for someone else. BUT here are the final chapters of "Descent." 

These chapters are more detailed in the most recent drafts of the book, but this does give you an idea of how the book will go down at the end. I will note, though, that I did write these in one sitting as I was trying to "just finish the first draft", and by the time I got to the Epilogue, my brain was FRIED. So, if the Epilogue makes no sense, I apologize. BUT like I said, this was the first draft...complete with errors and it gives you an idea of the writing process and what most rough drafts look like.

Thanks to everyone who has been following along and there is alot more to come :)

Also, check out some further character development in some excerpts from the second draft in the SAMPLES section. 



CHAPTER 53

The wind rustled the trees as Linda’s sobs died down. Dorothy could feel her friend’s body convulse occasionally. She looked up through the tree branches up to where the moon hung. She could hear the wolves shift and could sense them becoming restless. Danger was in the air. A dark tension similar to what they felt at the Fleming property not even a month ago.
Images began forming in Dorothy’s mind. She could feel the energy of two young men walking along the very bank she and Linda sat at. One was a pit of darkness and the other frightened and confused. She saw them hurrying along the bank. Nicolae and Sebastian Ganoush running for their lives, making an attempt for freedom as the older brother carried his beloved’s ashes with him in a box. She could read Nicolae’s thoughts and what had transpired earlier: Dmitri’s murder as a way of avenging his love’s death. The younger, Sebastian, was the little boy from her dream.
I cannot find my brother…the little boy’s words came back to her and Dorothy let out a small gasp at the realization.
The two boys faded from her view and in their place was Jimmy. It was then Dorothy noticed resemblances between Nicolae and her friend. She saw the descending bloodline from Nicolae to Marisa (Olga) to Luis to Jimmy. She saw Anton and Gavril and the child that grew inside Linda.
They want the child…she heard a voice whisper. Dorothy looked around. Where did that come from?
The wolves began to pace, panting as they anticipated the looming danger. Somewhere not too far from them, a woman in dark clothing and a hooded cloak walked through the woods, humming a song she used to sing to her daughters as little girls.
“Hushabye, don’t you cry
Go to sleep, my little baby
When you wake, you will have
All the pretty little horses…”
The woman knew that her own daughter, Elizabeth, sang it to Dorothy, her only grandchild, as she grew. Alice had known that Dorothy would recognize it the night she had woken on the porch swing at the Fleming property. She also couldn’t help being amused as her own granddaughter ran from her when they had met on the dreamscape after Dorothy had passed out in the washroom of her kinfolk. They had tasted Dorothy’s blood after it had fallen onto the wood floor of Cedric and Margaret’s room after she sliced her finger on the dagger. That had been no accident. Dorothy was coming of age and it was time for her to recognize who she was and what they all had in store for her. And she had to do it. She had to make up for where Roxanne and Elizabeth had failed. Dorothy was stronger than both of them together and far more desirable to them.
There had also been a child conceived in the master bedroom on her family’s property on the same night Dorothy had sliced her finger. A moonchild. A child they also needed. The child that grew inside Linda. That had not been an accident either, even if neither Jimmy nor Linda knew it at the time they made love on that dresser.
Alice felt a hand brush the small of her back. She looked up to see Jacob, her half-brother and the son of Christian Andrews and Maxine Fleming walking alongside of her. Cyril was back somewhere in the tavern being entertained by some pretty young thing. That was more than fine with Alice. Jacob leaned down and kissed her lips. They had served their purpose, done what they were supposed to do. For that time being, at least.

Back at the creek, Dorothy turned in the direction the wolves were looking in. A mist had formed about ten feet away from them down the bank. Linda looked up and gasped when she saw the mist parting to form a cave. The wolves let out small yelps, urging the girls toward the cave. The animals walked alongside of them until they stood at the mouth of the cave. Dorothy looked down at her two guides; their eyes told her that this was as far as they were able to take her. As Linda regarded them bewildered, Dorothy patted the wolves, thanking both of them.
As the girls descended into the cave, as the moonlight filtered in through some crevices. There was also a force outside of them guiding them into the cave’s tunnel. Deep into the earth, through a portal where they would end up at a vast field of volcanic rock where only rivers of lava ran and just up ahead was a deep abyss where the screams of the damned could be heard.

~~~~~~~

Gerard and Violet exited Liz’s hospital room and met Tahatan out in the hall, Father Louis remaining in the room with Matthew and Liz. Seeing their daughter-in-law in the state she was in was heartbreaking, and seeing their son fall apart by her bedside was worse. Violet leaned against her husband as the three pairs of eyes met. Liz’s prognosis did not seem very promising; according to what the doctor told Matthew, Liz suffered from severe dehydration along with physical, mental, and emotional trauma. She had shut down and was in a near comatose state. She was laying in her hospital bed, staring out and seeing nothing. They all knew Matthew would do what was needed to care for her, no matter what that would entail.
“He needs to take her away from here,” Tahatan stated.
Gerard nodded in agreement.
“I also wouldn’t count on Cyril and Alice arriving anytime soon,” Tahatan added.
“I figured,” Gerard said.
Tahatan hadn’t been able to tell Matthew the truth of Liz’s heritage yet. But he had managed to tell Gerard and Violet the essentials as a doctor filled Matthew in on Liz’s progress. The Blakes had been surprised by the discovery, but not by much.
Father Louis stepped out into the hall, shutting the door behind him. “I figured I’d leave Matthew alone with her for a little while,” he said.
“How is he?” Violet asked.
The priest shook his head. “He doesn’t want to talk. He just sits there, holding her hand. I think he blames himself for a lot of this.”
Gerard shook his head and began to reply when they heard a grunt come out of Tahatan.
“What is it?” Gerard asked.
“Dorothy…” Tahatan said.
“What about her?” Violet asked.
“She’s about to be tested.”
Tahatan placed a hand on Gerard’s shoulder and a vision of Dorothy entering a fiery domain formed between the two men. Father Louis grasped Tahatan’s hand and then Violet’s. Nobody needed to be told what to do, and the four stood in a circle, each person’s energy flowing into the other as they all sent their own prayer to a higher, benevolent force for Dorothy, her parents, and those with her.

~~~~~~~

Winifred felt the power of the circle coming from the hospital. She could feel it in her blood and also felt the presence of three others nearby.
“Dorothy…” she said.
Carl snapped his head toward her. “Dorothy’s here?”
Before Winifred could answer, a deafening screech was heard above them as a large, flying reptilian creature flew toward them, swooping down as the all ducked to the ground. They all looked up as the creature turned around in the air and regarded them with serpentine eyes and rows of teeth. Its talongs were large enough to impale a human. Winifred and Daniel stepped in front of the three kids while reaching into their pouches and pulling out three pebbles each. The two threw the pebbles down, forming an invisible barrier between them and the winged creature. The creature dove at them again, screaming in fury as it hit them membrane.
“We have to go while it can be held back,” Winifred said.
“Where’s Dorothy?” Carl said.
“She is over this way,” Daniel said, pointing in a direction away from the unrelenting creature.
Winifred nodded in agreement and the five went in the direction Dorothy was sensed in. They had just turned a corner when a voice bellowed from above them, laughing as he watched them.
“Gavril,” Winifred said, looking up to where Anton’s great great great grandfather stood on a platform above them.
“I believe what you all are doing is trespassing,” he replied, narrowing his black eyes at them.
“Where’s Dorothy?” Carl demanded, paying no attention to Winifred and Daniel’s warnings.
Gavril shrugged and jumped down to where they all stood, his cloak billowing around him as he flew down. “Well, seeing that she has been promised to my great grandson, Constantin…she cannot very well meet him if she is anything other than absolutely splendid, can she?”
Gail and Reginald looked at Carl, whose eyes began to fill with rage. “What do you mean ‘promised’? When did this happen?!”
“The day she was born,” Gavril replied. “Alice offered her and Constantin accepted to marry her on the first day of her eighteenth year. Constantin and Dorothy are alike, you know. He is still quite handsome, if I say so myself, despite being nearly three hundred years old. He is wealthy, accomplished, and I am certain could satisfy her far better, in many more ways than you can, Carl. Really, did you think you could properly care for her? What would you do? Get a job in one of those warehouses?”
Carl began rushing at Gavril but was restrained by Daniel and Reginald, to Gavril’s amusement.
“Dorothy loves me. Not Constantin,” Carl said through gritted teeth.
“We shall see,” Gavril replied and disappeared.

~~~~~~~~

“They’re close,” Dorothy said.
“Who is?” Linda asked.
“Carl,” she replied with a smile. “And Gail and Reg. I’m also sensing two others with them.” She knew whatever move they made had to be cautious ones as they were not far from the abyss. The screams were almost agonizing to here
An image of Winifred and Daniel flashed in front of her.
“As are we,” a familiar voice from behind them said.
The girls turned to find Jimmy standing only a few feet from them. Next to him was another young man. He was handsome, bearing a close resemblance to Dmitri Alexandrescu and dressed in the 17th century garb of an Eastern European aristocrat of the time.
Linda stared at Jimmy, unable to speak and still reeling from the incident back in the field. He was no longer the boy she loved. That young man was gone and in his place was a cold, dark evil. A presence with no conscience.
Dorothy eyed the two suspiciously. “What do you want?”
“You,” the other young man said. “I am Constantin. Your suitor.”
Linda’s eyes widened as she turned to look at Dorothy.
Dorothy shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
“You are to return with me to Bran Castle where we are to become husband and wife,” Constantin replied. “We will both have everything we ever wanted. Riches, power, and live for eternity.”
Without thinking, Dorothy replied, “But I love Carl.”
Constantin’s expression darkened. “I know. You were about to run away with him. But we fixed that. And I will make you forget him.”
He stepped forward and caressed the side of Dorothy’s face, sending what felt like frost through her veins. She stepped back and a look of anger crossed Constantin’s face, but his expression softened.
“It is still your human side that makes you resist,” he said. “Not to worry. One night with me will remedy all that. Just ask Christopher.”
Dorothy turned to Jimmy as Linda still stood in shock to what was going on. “Jimmy, you have to remember that Carl is one of your best friends. We all are. And you love Linda.”
Jimmy’s eyes glistened, as his face twisted into a mocking sneer while he regarded Linda, who began simpering by Dorothy’s side and could barely bring herself to utter out her former lover’s name.
“Look to me, my love,” Constantin said to her. “I can satisfy you in ways you never thought possible. I am an excellent lover and I know I can make your first time unforgettable.”
Constantin placed his hands on her waist and hovered his lips over hers. The pull of his aura began to lull Dorothy out from her sense of reason.
“Dorothy…” Linda squeaked, a sound at which Jimmy expressed great amusement, causing Linda to burst into tears all over again.
Constantin pulled Dorothy closer, embracing her as he placed visions of them intertwined together on an elegant duvet. There skin slid over one another and she felt the definition of Constantin’s strong form. He was skilled in the art of sexual pleasure and she could feel heat pulsing in her core, filling her entire being as she was on the brink of giving into him right there…
“Dorothy!” a familiar voice called.
She broke from her trance, stepping back from Constantin’s embrace and turning at the sound of Carl’s voice. She grabbed Linda’s hand, as Carl appeared around the corner only a short distance from them.
“Carl!” Dorothy cried as the others followed behind him.
Carl’s face brightened at the site of Dorothy as she ran to join him while bringing Linda over with her. He looked over to Jimmy and Constantin as confusion filled his face. Filled with rage, Constantin’s eyes glowed red as the ground split, opening into a fiery maw that connected with the abyss and leaving Dorothy and Linda on the side Jimmy and Constantin were on.
Jimmy stared back at his friend. “What is it, Carl? I’ve never been better.”
The group on the other side looked over at Linda who seemed to have lost any fight that may have been in her and fell to the ground.
“Linda!” Gail called over. “You have to get up! Jimmy! Please remember we are all your friends and Linda loves you!”
As Dorothy began focusing on using what energy she could, Constantin slipped his arms around her. “She never was yours,” he said to Carl.
Dorothy could feel anger burn inside her at Constantin’s claim. The energy of the fire seeped into her veins as she channeled it inside and then out of her, knocking Constantin back into a wall of rock. She turned to faced him as he rose to his feet. Her skin glowed red and her grey-blue eyes were black embers.
Constantin advanced on her, and she thought she heard Carl call her name as flames from the fire’s energy engulfed her as she continued toward Constantin.
Carl looked on in horror at the site of his girl on fire, expecting her to collapse to the ground. But instead, she kept walking toward Constantin, expelling the fire on her skin onto him. Constantin yelled out in pain as his clothing and skin caught fire. Winifred and Daniel worked to close the rift in the ground that separated them all while Constantin burned alive as Dorothy watched. Linda sat crumpled on the ground as Reginald, Gail, and Carl watched the scene unfold in front of them. From where he was, Jimmy stared at Linda, hardly paying attention to what was happening. Why wasn’t he fighting these people who were obviously against him? Against his family? And this pathetic blonde girl? How could I love someone like that?
Because you do love her…you care for her…and you have a family…a real family…
The voice echoed in his mind as the image of the old gypsy woman he had seen earlier formed into his mind. He looked to the others. His friends. He started remembering.
As Constantin’s charred skull fell to the ground, Jimmy began seeing him and Linda together at school, in the soda shop, in his bed. He then saw his great grandfather with his own lover, walking hand in hand under a starry sky with the girl called Eloisa.
“Linda…” he whispered, looking at the pretty blonde girl on the ground who stared in awe as Dorothy’s appearance returned to normal as the fire element left her.
Dorothy stared in shock as Carl ran to her and embraced her. Her body trembled as she fell against him. “I killed him…” she stuttered.
“Honey, you had to,” he said.
Linda picked herself up and looked to Jimmy as Gail and Winifred ran over to her. He was looking back at her. The boy she loved.
“Linda,” Winifred cautioned, but she had already started toward him. Everyone else looked at them as the two walked toward one another. An unearthly cry was heard from inside the abyss and to everyone’s horror, Jimmy reached out and grabbed Linda by the throat, his soft brown eyes turning to a piercing black.
“Linda!!” Gail screamed as Jimmy held her over the fiery pit.
“Jimmy,” Linda choked. “Please…”
His stare was cold and she could feel the presence of Anton, Gavril, and others from the lineage.
Dorothy struggled from Carl’s embrace and stepped forward to help her friend, beginning to channel the fire element.
“No, Dorothy,” Winifred said. “If you do anymore right now it will kill you.” She motioned for Daniel and he quickly went to stand beside his mother. Winifred closed her eyes and focused on the tiny being growing inside Linda. Daniel stood with lava stones and a dagger in his hand in case it would be needed. They could both sense the inhabitants of Hell beginning to rise. Winifred was also relieved to feel the positive energy of those from elsewhere. And she knew where and whom.
Jimmy tightened his choke hold on Linda as she pleaded with him. The darkness inside him took over him again and all he could think of was feeding the pretty blonde to the beings rising.
They do like blondes…
The thought amused him and he began stepping further to the ledge as the beings rose higher. But something interrupted him. Halted him in his steps. An image of a child that was just beginning to form inside the womb. He felt the essence of the tiny fetus just passed the embryonic phase. The little being was of him and Linda. He looked at her, staring at her frightened blue eyes, staring into her and seeing the forming baby again.
Oh God, what I am I doing?
The inhabitants of the abyss were rising closer as Jimmy realized what he was about to do to her. Linda saw the change in him as he brought her back to the edge placing her back on the ground as she gasped for air when he let her go. She looked up at him, taking a step back toward the group. He could see the apprehension in her eyes. She had never looked at him in a way other than with love before.
“Linda…I’m…”
Before Jimmy could finish what he could say, the ground on which they stood began to split.
“Guys, we have to go!” Reginald yelled to them.
Linda looked down as the ground below her feet broke open. She looked up in time to see Jimmy coming at her, pushing her out of harm’s way as the ground collapsed underneath him, sending him down into the abyss.
Reginald, Gail, Dorothy, and Carl looked on in horror, unable to believe what they had just seen as they heard Linda scream out Jimmy’s name. Winifred closed her eyes and sympathy filled Daniel’s.
Dark, winged beings began rise from the pit as Linda crawled toward the edge searching for the boy she loved. She protested wildly as the rest of the group took her up from the ledge and ran out as some of Hell’s inhabitants pursued them. They were able to dodge the daemons and reached a portal that would take them back to the safety of the cave. Hector’s cave.
By the time they returned to the cottage, Linda was in a state of shock. Winifred let her lie down in what used to be Rebekah’s bedroom. She closed the door with the memory of the last time she saw her husband (and the father of Rebekah and Daniel), Jeremiah playing through her mind. She understood Linda’s pain too well.


CHAPTER 54

The ocean is a world of many secrets. Carl stood at the edge on the beach about a half mile down from the cottage, looking out to sea. He wondered where this particular body of water led and where it began. Did the world in which Winifred, Daniel, and those like them dwelled have their own oceans, rivers, and lakes? Or did they somehow all connect with the world Carl knew?
He looked back toward the cottage where Gail and Reginald still were. Even they were at a loss for words over what happened. And poor Linda…she slept on Rebekah’s bed. What would happen once she finally woke up and realized that Jimmy was still gone?
“Jim’s gone…” Carl said aloud, still unable to believe it himself. It still seemed like a horrible nightmare from which they would all wake.
And what of Jim’s parents? What of his sister, Amanda? What does one tell them when something like this happens?
“I’m sorry, your son and brother died by falling into some hellpit while saving his girlfriend and was probably either burned alive or ripped apart by demons…”
Would they ever be able to have answers to what happened to Jimmy?
“Probably not,” Carl said, answering his own question.
Then there was Dorothy. Carl turned and looked back toward the hot springs where she had gone. He had carried Dorothy through the cave as she began to weaken and remembered Winifred’s words when Dorothy tried to step in while Jimmy held Linda over the abyss: “…anymore will kill you.”
By the time they returned to the cottage, Dorothy was looking very pale and drawn. Winifred had insisted that Dorothy rest and recharge her energy.
“The springs will do you a lot of good,” Winifred had said. “They will also melt the stitches in your side away. You will still have your scar, but the water will take care of the stitches.”
Carl had taken her over to the springs. Each spring also had a small bungalow complete with oils, herbal concoctions, and a few other things Dorothy recognized from the more holistic practices of her Native American heritage.
Carl could tell that Dorothy still had a lot of questions to what was happening with her. Winifred insisted that she being healing first and then they would talk.
Their walk to the hot springs was in silence. There was something different in the way Dorothy looked at him and it scared him. He was also still reeling from Constantin’s claim on her.
I could kill Gavril, Alice, and Cyril for doing that to her…I would hunt Constantin down, but he’s already dead…dead because Dorothy killed him…
The tension between Carl and Dorothy thickened as they arrived at the hot spring.
“Do you need any help?” Carl had asked her.
Dorothy shook her head. “No. I think I can manage.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
Carl watched her disappear into the bungalow without so much of even a peck on the cheek. She just turned away from me…like I was nothing.
The hot springs were definitely romantic settings; secluded with the bungalow of oils, a small shower, and a duvet. Carl had had a brief fantasy of him and Dorothy when Daniel had taken him to one of the springs earlier to sooth his feet. Even when he took Dorothy moments earlier, he had thoughts of him being her hero and taking care of her. Thoughts of him undressing her and removing his own clothing before getting into the springs with her. He wanted to rub some of the oils onto her body while she laid on the duvet and longed to finally be inside her. If they couldn’t get married in Elkton, maybe this would bring them closer. But that did not seem to be the case. Dorothy had become very distant and almost seemed like she didn’t want to be touched.
“Penny for your thoughts.”
Carl turned to see Daniel standing beside him.
“I thought you guys could read minds,” Carl replied.
“Sometimes,” Daniel said.
The two stood in silence for a moment, taking in the site of the ocean. Despite all that had occurred, there was a sense of serenity here. Carl had only been to the ocean a couple times in his life but there was a sense of belonging there, as though he had always been part of it. As a boy, he sometimes saw a large ship crossing the waters while a young, red-haired seaman from Ireland worked on deck, laughing, joking, and singing sea shanties with the other sailors on deck…
“I met my first wife by an ocean,” Daniel said.
Carl looked at him. “Really?”
Daniel nodded. “The year was 1701. Mother had gone to Ireland for some kind of council meeting. I was still very young at the time and Rebekah had just gotten married to one of the sons of a council official. This was before I really had an understanding for who we are and what we are to do. I was puttering around, walking along the coast of Ireland when I saw her. She was a year younger than I was. Her father was African—Egyptian, actually—and her mother was Irish. She got most of her looks from her father but she had her mother’s green eyes. Her mother’s family had been Catholic missionaries in Africa and that is how they met.
“My mother tried to inform me of what Catherine and I were getting into, but I was young and did not want to hear any of it. It was not until after we had gotten married that I began finding everything out and realizing how serious it all was. And Catherine…”
Daniel’s voice trailed off. “You and I are a lot alike, Carl. Mother even sees it.”
“Did you and Catherine have children?” Carl asked.
“We did. Believe it or not, I have great great grandchildren.”
 “Well, how did you handle everything? I mean, I’m sure your kids found it odd that their mother was aging and their father wasn’t. That could end up being Dorothy and I…” Carl cut himself off at the image of a young Dorothy no longer being interested in him as an old man.
Daniel sighed. “In many ways, Catherine was stronger about it than I was. It was difficult, to say the least, knowing the day of Catherine’s death would arrive and that I would be left to walk the Earth long after she passed on. When I married my second wife, Amalia, I was more prepared. But it still was not easy.
“Carl, the question you need to ask yourself is do you love Dorothy enough to go through this with her. There are many things she will have to go through. She will need to learn how to utilize her abilities without draining herself like she almost did, and also learn of the healing methods of the elements and different energies. And remember, she will also have to deal with the fact that your death will likely arrive long before hers will. It is not easy for her, either and you need to remember that.”
“But is there any way I can become like you guys?”
“Well,” Daniel said, “there are herbs and things our world and even yours provides that can prolong your aging and buy you some more time. But it is likely Dorothy will still outlive you by many years.”
Carl swallowed, taking everything in. “I want to start taking those now, whatever they are.”
“It is a process, Carl, just like anything else. My mother will have to come up with a method suitable for you. It isn’t something one just rushes into.”
Carl shifted as the question of intimacy burned in his mind. “I worry about her no longer being interested in me when I’m older,” he said. “I have to admit when I saw Constantin…knowing he was three hundred years old and he didn’t appear that much older than me…part of me thought that maybe it would be better for Dorothy to have someone like that. Not evil, obviously…but you said your sister was married to someone on the council, which I assume is made up of people of your lineage and abilities.?”
Daniel nodded. “She is. She and her husband currently live on an island off the coast of Italy.”
Carl’s heart pounded in his chest. “I don’t want to lose Dorothy. But I don’t how much I can handle. What if she decides she doesn’t want me anymore? And even though I wanted to kill Constantin myself, it was scary seeing her morph into this…being of fire…and burn him to death. Then when Winifred implied that it could kill her…”
“That is why she must be taught how to properly utilize her abilities. And as for Dorothy wanting you…you cannot force things like that. Every couple is different and needs to figure out how to work their own relationship out. But I will tell you one thing: I loved Catherine and Amalia unconditionally. I am not implying Dorothy will be able to make her decisions easily…but, if she does love you—which I believe she does—she will not abandon you.”
Carl shook his head. “As much as I hate to admit it, Gavril was right. How did I expect to provide for Dorothy and any children we would have? I’m a loser…”
“People of your world have provided for their families on less than what you would make and they manage,” Daniel said.
“But Dorothy deserves so much more…”
“Why don’t you let Dorothy make her own decision on what she wants? Too many times, people of your world make the error of breaking off relationships with those they love for what is supposedly ‘the other’s own good’ without any real input from the other. You make the decision for them and oftentimes, it is nothing more than a copout because you are unable to handle the challenges. I sometimes wonder how you people are able to function in your day to day lives with some of the hairbrained decisions I have seen some from your world make. Then, you live your life in regret and wondering if things would have worked out. But you don’t realize these things until it is too late.”
Carl stared back out at the ocean, taking in Daniel’s words. He knew his road with Dorothy wouldn’t be an easy one. He turned and look back at Daniel. “Do you think you’ll get married again?”
“To be honest, I am not sure,” Daniel said, a solemn expression crossing his eyes.

~~~~~~~

Dorothy sat on the duvet inside the bungalow dressed in a robe that appeared to be made of hemp or a material like it. Between the water from the springs and some of the skin oils, she did feel better and could feel her strength returning. Her clothing still hung in the closet and she sat staring out the small window as the soothing aroma of the candles burned on the table at the other end of the room. The water from the spring did melt away her stitches and the oils helped to sooth the scars, taking away much of the purplish coloring. She knew Winifred wanted to speak with her and she was dreading what she would hear. Good or bad, she knew it would affect her life and that of her family’s tremendously. And Carl…
She knew she had hurt Carl by giving him the brush off when he brought her to the spring, leaving him standing while she entered the bungalow. When she had removed her clothing and placed the wrap around her body, she had emerged from the bungalow to find Carl had left. Part of her wished he had waited but she also couldn’t blame him for leaving.
Dorothy felt tears burning the rims of her eyes. Everything in her erupted, and she sat on the duvet letting it all out. She reached for one of the washcloths on the small stand by the duvet and began drying her eyes. A knock at the bungalow door brought her to attention.
“Who is it?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“Dorothy, it’s Gail.”
She let out a sigh at the sound of her friend’s voice. “Come in,” she said.
Gail entered and immediately went to embrace her friend, allowing Dorothy’s tears to fall on her shoulder. They sat that way for a few minutes before the sobbing finally died down.
“You don’t think I’m a sideshow freak?” Dorothy asked.
Gail had an inclination to crack a joke about her morphing into a ball of fire being a little scary, but decided against it. Instead, she shook her head. “Of course not,” she said.
Dorothy let out a sigh. “Everything is still so…I don’t even know how to describe it. And I killed someone…I took a life…”
“He was attacking you, though,” Gail said. “You didn’t want him to lay his claim on you and he tried to force that. You were within your right as not only a woman, but a human being.” That bitch Alice and her asshole husband sold you like a piece of property, she wanted to add, but held back.
Dorothy couldn’t help smiling at Gail’s quoting of the suffragettes. “I know,” she said. “But still…you can never truly comprehend what it is to take a life until you actually do it…even if the life was a despicable one.”
Gail looked at Dorothy, recalling the shy, quiet girl who was afraid to even say hello to Carl. She could see the change in her. Dorothy was on the verge of being changed forever and Gail was aware of the possibility of only returning home with Reginald. She wasn’t sure if she would ever get over what happened to Jimmy, and she could see that Reginald felt the same way. She also dreaded Linda finally waking up to face Jimmy being gone.

Outside the bungalow, Winifred stood waiting for the right time to approach Dorothy. She knew Dorothy needed her time with Gail for a few more minutes before she would enter the bungalow. Carl and Daniel had returned to the cottage and it would only be a matter of minutes before Linda awoke. She would need the company of a female friend, and it would be better if Gail was there…especially before I would have to also inform her of her condition…
Winifred closed her eyes and prayed for strength. She could feel the anger being excreted from Gavril and those who inhabited his world. Linda would not be able to return to her world, at least not for a long time, due to what her child was. And Dorothy needed to learn how to use what she was equipped with properly. Otherwise, she could be a danger to herself and others.
Winifred steeled herself and walked to the bungalow. It was time.


CHAPTER 55

The farewell with Reginald and Gail had been an emotional one as the group of friends were split apart. After Winifred sent Gail back to the bungalow to look after Linda, she told Dorothy everything. Dorothy had sat in disbelief after all was said, though she did take some comfort when Winifred informed her of her father, Tahatan, and Father Louis’s return and that her mother had been found.
“Her condition is critical, but it looks like she will live,” Winifred told her.
“But I saw my mother…”
“That was likely an apparition someone conjured up,” Winifred said. “Remember, darkness feeds on human terror, and what their frightening you did was open up another window for them to get through.”
“What happened to my mom? What did they do to her?”
“Terrible things. She was tortured…part of their ritual magick. Your father found her…they are all at the hospital with her.”
Dorothy jumped up. “Can I go see them? Please! I want them to know I am all right and I want to see my mother and at least say goodbye to my father.”
“I’m afraid that isn’t possible now,” Winifred said.
“Why not?!”
“You will not be able to return until after the Winter Solstice is over. Until then, it is too dangerous. For you and your family. Reginald and Gail could inform them and I’m certain Tahatan and your Grandpa Gerard have already received the message.”
Dorothy now sat on the bed in the chateau she and Linda had been taken to through yet another portal. Linda was in a room down the hall, still recovering from the news of her pregnancy. Even though she had no choice in the matter of having to stay, Linda was content in not returning home.
“My parents don’t care anyway,” she had said. “I’m sure they would only send me away to one of those institutions for unwed mothers and not give me a second thought.”
Dorothy closed her eyes and focused on her family. She could see all of them, including her wheelchair bound mother. The site of her mother made her want to cry and she could feel her father’s torment as he struggled with being strong for his wife.
They are going to be leaving Plains…returning to the family property in Illinois
She opened her eyes back up, knowing she had to save her strength for when Winifred returned the following morning to begin schooling her.
And then there was Carl…he stayed behind too and was having more words with Daniel. She saw the guilt in her boyfriend’s eyes as he regarded her. She had run upstairs to her room, not wanting to face him, feeling guilty for his staying with her and giving up on a chance at a normal life. She thought of the families of Carl, Jimmy, and Linda and how would they deal with the sudden disappearances of their children.
Dorothy looked to the doorway, thinking of Linda alone in her room. She climbed off the bed and headed down the hall to Linda’s room.  Her friend sat staring out the large picture window, freshly showered and dressed in a plush robe with her hair still damp. She had her hands placed protectively over her stomach and her eyes were red and puffy from crying, but she managed a small smile when she saw Dorothy.
“How are you feeling?” Dorothy asked.
“Terrible,” Linda replied.
Dorothy pulled a chair over from the vanity table and sat across from Linda. “Winifred is coming by tomorrow,” she said. “After she schools me, I’m then supposed to be trained by her daughter, Rebekah. Rebekah and her husband are high ranking members on some council…and supposedly highly skilled in what they do…” Her voice trailed off when she saw Linda staring at the ground.
“You know,” Linda said, “In a way I’m glad this all happened.”
Dorothy frowned. “What do you mean?”
Linda tightened her hold on her stomach. “It will be nice to have someone love me.”
“Linda! People love you!” Dorothy exclaimed. “I’m here and so is Carl. And even though they’re not here, Gail and Reginald do too. And I know you say your parents didn’t care, I’m sure they miss you being gone.” Dorothy paused before saying. “Jimmy loved you too.”
Anger flashed in Linda’s eyes. “Please don’t ever mention him again. He’s where he belongs.”
Dorothy shook her head, stunned at the cold tone of her friend’s voice. “Why would you say that?”
Linda smirked. “Oh, I don’t know. Only because I gave everything of myself to him and he tried to feed me to some bloodthirsty demons. And that was after he humiliated me with those two whores.”
“He also gave his life for you in the end,” Dorothy said. “Linda, whatever was possessing him when he did those terrible things…it was not him, and you know that. Don’t throw his memory away over that.”
“He was possessed because he allowed it.”
“You don’t know that. Sometimes they take you off guard. I know…I came close to betraying Carl with Constantin. You were there, remember? And you know I would never do such a thing.”
“Look,” Linda said. “Maybe I don’t understand these mystical things the way you do and maybe I’m not bright enough to understand them. But I do know that when I think of Jimmy…all I can think of is seeing him with those two girls and the way he looked when he held me over that pit.  I don’t know, maybe that will change when the baby is born. But part of me can’t help wondering if those things he did to me…calling me stupid and laughing at me when I was frightened by everything happening…if that didn’t come from somewhere deep inside him.”
Dorothy started to protest but stopped her words. Linda was still reeling from everything and perhaps she needed to be angry for a little while. Maybe that would need to be part of her healing process. Eventually, she would have to find a way to forgive Jimmy, but now was not that time to tell her.
Instead, Dorothy nodded and said, “Well, I’m right down the hall if you need to talk.”
“Thanks,” Linda said. “And, Dorothy…I also know Carl loves you. He may need assurance once in a while, though. Especially with…you know…”
Dorothy knew. By that time, they all knew what Dorothy’s fate was.
“I know,” Dorothy said. “It will be some work, though. But Winifred, my father, mother, grandma and grandpa Blake…they all said relationships take work anyway. Mine will just need extra.”
Linda’s lips turned up into a wistful smile. “I envy you, you know.”
Dorothy blinked. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Linda said. “I know I poked fun at you loving to read and all, but maybe I should have focused more on those things myself. Then maybe I wouldn’t be in this mess. Or if I was…I would know how to handle things a little better.”
Dorothy reached over and touched her friend’s arm. “It’s never too late, Linda. There’s a library down on the third floor. And I know you will be a good mother to your child. Besides, it is not as though I’m not scared of everything that is happening either.”
“I hope so…” Linda paused. “So, are you going back to see your family?”
Dorothy nodded. “After the Winter Solstice. It will only be for a little while as I cannot linger there too long, but at least I’ll be able to see my family and hopefully by then, my mother will have made some recovery.”
“I don’t know how you’ve stayed sane through everything that’s happened.”
“Well, it’s either that or I fall apart. And I’m not going to give whatever the dark forces are that satisfaction. They’ve taken enough of my energy already.”

Dorothy returned to her room, leaving Linda to get some rest. She looked out the window to see the sunset and saw Carl and Daniel down in the field. Everything was peaceful here and she felt the distant chaos taking place in Plains. She and Carl did need to talk and be with eachother, but fatigue began taking over her and a rogue tear made its way down her cheek.
I need to escape…just for a little bit, she thought.
She lay down on the bed, curling her knees to her chest and fell into an uneasy sleep where she saw scenes of her mother being tortured by cloaked figures. She saw her Aunt Roxanne, alone and bleeding as she died on the bank of the lake behind the Whitman residence. She saw a forest in which the cloaked woman who had pursued her through the hazy forest stood. She saw the face of the woman. Her grandmother, Alice Whitman, as she hummed the tune “All the Pretty Little Horses” while Jacob walked beside her. There was a familiar essence to the scene…Constantin…but he’s dead…

~~~~~~~

Carl returned to the chateau and ascended the stairs after seeing Daniel safely off through the portal. When all was said and done, he loved Dorothy. Their road would not be an easy one, but it would be one he would take with her, whatever it entailed. He and Dorothy needed to talk and sort things out.
Carl entered the bedroom. He had been given his own room on the other side of the hall, but he didn’t think he would be using it much. He walked over to the bed, seeing Dorothy fast asleep with the moon’s beams setting her skin aglow. A smile began crossing his lips until he noticed the tears that stained her face and stuck some strands of her hair to her skin. Carl moved a hand to gently brush them away and leaned down to give her forehead a soft kiss. He then removed the shoes Daniel had given him and climbed into bed, spooning behind Dorothy and wrapping his arm around her front. He kissed her hair and began to fall into sleep.
He was just on the cusp of entering the dreamscape when he heard whimpering beside him. He opened his eyes to see Dorothy in the midst of a night terror.
“Baby,” he said, gently shaking her.
She jolted awake, a convulsion that caused her fist to meet his eye. Carl jumped back at the impact as Dorothy sat recovering, coming out from where she had been. She looked at him with wide eyes. “Carl…”
“Well, that’s some left hook you have,” he said.
“I’m so sorry! I was having this terrible dream and I…I am so sorry, Carl.”
“Honey,” he said, moving close to her. “It’s all right. I’m sure my eye will survive. Are you okay?”
She leaned into him as he put his arms around her. “As fine as I can be.”
They sat on the bed that way for a moment before Carl said, “I’m sorry for being distant earlier. I know you’re going through a lot and I should be there for you. But the thing is…well…call me old fashioned, but when all these things began happening to you…I thought I would be the one to come to your rescue. For a while it felt like you didn’t need me. Or want me.”
Dorothy turned to him. “Carl, why would you say that? Of course I need you. I’m going to need your support in the coming months. Just because I’m not sitting around waiting for you to rescue me, doesn’t mean I won’t need you to be strong for me.”
“I know that now,” he said. “But I do worry about you not wanting me later…as I get older…”
“I love you, Carl,” she said, placing a hand on the side of his face. “And one of the many things I learned from my family is that you love unconditionally. My father loves my mother, regardless of her state of health. And many others in our family had their love tested. Love is never easy, but when you love someone…you don’t abandon them. And I will never abandon you.”
“I love you too, Dorothy,” Carl said. “And I’m always here for you too.”
They regarded one another, her blue-gray to his hazel-green, before Carl leaned in met her lips with his. Dorothy melted into his embrace as he brought her body to mold to his. Carl’s hands began roaming her back as he started to part her lips with his tongue. He was wrenched from his state of bliss when she pulled her face away.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I need to brush my teeth,” she said and sprung from the bed.
“Dorothy…”
“I’ll be right back!” she called, dashing for the conjoining washroom.
The washrooms of the chateau were quite elegant and designed to resemble the secluded areas of the hot springs. Instead of a bathtub, there was a small pool with its own running waterfall that turned on when the golden knobs were turned. And because they were on the top floor, there was a sky window that looked out to the starry sky.
Dorothy stood at the sink and found the toothbrushes and spearmint powder mixed with sea salt and Blue Green Algae, ground into a powder. She dipped the brush into the tub that held the toothpowder, wet the brush, and ran the toothbrush through her mouth.
“I never figured you to be the vain type,” she heard Carl call from in the bedroom.
“It’s etiquette,” she called back with her mouth full. “Nothing to do with vanity!”
She spat the foam into the sink, rinsed her mouth, and made a final check of her appearance in the mirror. Carl and I are alone now…really alone…
Her stomach flipped at the thought as she ran a hand through her bed hair. Through a crack in the door, she saw a warm light in the bedroom, indicating Carl lighting a lamp or a set of candles. She put her hands on the sink to keep herself from shaking. Whatever happens tonight, happens because Carl and I are both ready for it.
Tomorrow, she would worry about the things she would be learning from Winifred. She would pay close attention and learn as much as she could so perhaps when she returned home to visit her family after the Winter Solstice, she would somehow maybe help her mother. But tonight was for her and Carl. She would worry about saving the world tomorrow.
Dorothy opened the washroom door to a bedroom that was softly lit by a small oil lamp and a few candles. The door had also been shut. Carl sat on the edge of the bed, regarding her intently. She saw the lean muscle in his upper body through the material of his undershirt. He also wore his pants and had removed his socks. Dorothy walked toward him, and he brought his hands to her waist when she stood in front of him. She saw the love in his eyes. Love and a new understanding for who she was as a young woman and a person.
Dorothy combed a hand through his hair before coming to sit next to him on the bed. Her heart pounded as he brought his lips to hers again, and this time she welcomed his kiss in full. They moved together, their bodies molding to one another as articles of clothing began peeling away, shedding barriers that blocked their bare skin from touching. Dorothy’s body trembled as Carl’s undershirt was discarded, revealing his bare chest to her. He let out a groan as she ran her fingers over his upper body, taking in the feel of his skin on her hands. She felt his growing arousal starting to strain against his pants as he brought her to straddle his lap.
“Dorothy…” he whispered against her chest. He brought a hand up to tease the nipple that hardened beneath the thin material of her camisole. She dropped her head back as his lips came to kiss the scar that ended above her left breast. His lips traveled down to the tops of the soft mounds, and she felt a rushing in her core. She brought her head back to look at him when she felt him pull back.
Carl sat with his hands at the straps of her camisole, looking at her with questioning eyes. She understood, and taking in a breath, she nodded.
Carl’s lips turned up into a smile, and he softly kissed her lips before bringing the straps down, unfolding the undergarment down her front. Her heart pounded as she felt the air on her breasts and stomach. She watched Carl’s eyes, a combination of love and lust filling them.
“You’re beautiful,” he said. “So beautiful…”
She let out a cry as he brought his mouth to the valley of her chest, tracing his lips over the scar before closing them around her nipple and stimulating the other with his hand. She drew in a jagged breath as she felt his mouth applying light pressure as his tongue flicked over the sensitive area and grasped his shoulders, never wanting to let him go.
“Honey, can I lay you down?” he asked, his voice straining with wanting.
Unable to form words, Dorothy nodded.
Carl gently lifted her from his lap and brought her to lay against the soft pillows on the bed.  She watched as he undid the buttons on his pants, her breath growing rapid as he shed the remainder of his clothing. Her thighs pressed together at the site of him naked and aroused in the dim light. He sat down to face her and began removing the rest of her clothes until they were both exposed to one another.
They lay together on the bed, exploring eachother with every sense and their hearts beating against one another’s. Carl and Dorothy both saw the other in a new light, one that brought them closer together and heightened their passion for one another.
Carl looked down into Dorothy’s eyes as he stimulated her with his fingers. Her eyes shut at the initial entry, but she soon relaxed at the slow movement inside her.
“I want to be in you, Dorothy,” he said, continuing the movement of his fingers, making sure she would be ready if he was allowed to proceed.
She looked up at him, seeing the plea in his eyes. Her heart beat faster as she anticipated completely giving herself to Carl. He was the one she wanted. The one she loved, and the one she would trust with her life. She was standing at the end of a cliff, ready to dive into the churning ocean. She slowly nodded, giving Carl the needed permission to enter her and make them one.
“I love you, Dorothy,” he breathed.
“I love you too, Carl.”
He rose and positioned himself over her as she opened herself to him. She felt him taking care to ensure her comfort as he stretched her. Dorothy let out a small gasp when she felt a pinch as he was almost fully inside her.
“You all right?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “Don’t stop.”
Carl brought his lips to her forehead as he completed his entry into her. They were finally one. He paused, taking in how she felt around him before beginning slow, gentle thrusts. She was in a state of near disbelief that Carl was there making love to her. She tightened her embrace around his shoulders and back. If this was a dream, she never wanted it to end and she would refuse to let go. She let out an ecstatic moan, calling out his name as he quickened his movement. They could both feel the rush of their climaxes approaching, ready to crash over them like a tidal wave. The sound of the other’s breathing and strained cries pulsed through the air in the room with the aroma of their lovemaking.
Carl looked down at Dorothy with pained restraint in his eyes. “I can’t hold back anymore,” he panted. With a few more thrusts, he released himself into her and she around him. He collapsed on top of her, remaining inside as they wound down from the euphoria.
They lay intertwined, allowing their breathing and heartrates to return to normal. Carl brought his lips down to Dorothy’s before pulling out of her and adjusting himself to lay beside her.
“How do you feel?” he asked, bringing a hand to the lower region of her stomach.
She gave him a faint, but satisfied smile. “A little sore…but it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”
“That was amazing,” he said.
“Yeah. It was,” she said, her mind still spinning.
They brought their lips together again, taking in one another in their aftermath.
“Want to get a shower?” he asked, a hint of suggestiveness in his tone. “I’d prefer sharing that little pool in the washroom, but I know Winifred gets here early tomorrow and a shower might be quicker?”
Dorothy nodded. “Sure. We can share the pool or even one of the springs tomorrow night.”
Carl smiled and kissed her again before helping her up from the bed and leading her to the washroom. He turned on the shower, making sure the water was the right temperature before bringing Dorothy in with him. They embraced as the water sprayed down on them. For that moment, it was only the two of them, and they knew whatever the future had in store for them, they would face it on together.


EPILOGUE
July of 1932

Matthew sat on the porch of his parents’ house, the house that belonged to Charles and Emma Blake first. He sipped his morning coffee and looked across the field at the house his grandfather, Jonathan, had built for him and Kimimela. His oldest sibling and half brother, Joe, and sister-in-law Leona lived in that house now. It was peaceful here. He and Liz slept in his old bedroom. The one he had spent his childhood in.
Matthew had always loved New York, even after the stock market crash. He loved living in Plains among the businesses and having their neighbors right next door and across the street. Before the 1929 crash, he also thrived at the busy nature of Wall Street, despite his humble beginnings. But he had lost himself and because of that, he almost lost his wife and daughter. If he had any idea of Liz’s true lineage, he never would have moved there.
But then Dorothy would never have met Carl…
He recalled his daughter’s last visit after the Summer Solstice. Everytime she visited, Carl came with her. She’s so happy with him, he thought, swallowing back the tears that threatened to erupt.
During their last visit, Carl and Dorothy had both thought she was pregnant but it turned out to be a false alarm.
Matthew sighed, shaking his head in disbelief. Theoretically, I could be a grandfather…
Dorothy would also bring things for Liz and perform an energy transfer on her mother. She seemed to be learning a lot from Tahatan’s friend, Winifred. He still didn’t quite understand the whole thing with this “council” they spoke of.
“I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t quite understand, though,” he said aloud.
He had received letters from Father Louis and Tahatan the other day. According to the priest, activity on the Fleming property seemed still, but he was still keeping an eye on the property, which was now up for condemnation.
As for Tahatan, Reginald and Gail Johnson had been to visit him the previous week.
Dorothy’s friends had moved to the Mountaintop area in Pennsylvania, which was not far from where Tahatan resided. They had followed the original plan of Dorothy and Carl by getting married in Elkton, Maryland after graduation with only immediate family and a couple close friends present, including Dorothy and Carl.
Gail never seemed to want a large wedding and preferred to do it the way she and Reginald had. “Large weddings are only a show factor and are more for the guests than the ones actually getting married,” she had said.
Reginald and Gail were both attending college in Pennsylvania.

Every so often, Dorothy would bring news on Linda. Linda had given birth a little earlier than she was supposed to, but the baby, a little girl named Meredith Corrina, seemed to be doing fine with the help of some of the nurses at the chateau. Linda seemed in better spirits after the birth of her daughter and, according to Dorothy, seemed to be adjusting well to motherhood, even without Jimmy.
Matthew shut his eyes, trying to block out what he knew happened to him. He also felt badly for Howard and Eva Parker, who had no idea they had a granddaughter. He was sorry for Luis and Marisol Kratz, but it seemed Luis knew more than Howard and Eva did.
Shortly before he moved Liz back to the Blake property, Luis had approached him, confiding in him about dreams he was having about his son. The story around town was that Jimmy and Linda had eloped in Elkton with Carl and Dorothy, but Luis approached Matthew with a dream in which he saw his son being torchered by demonic creatures in a fiery abyss.
“They are ripping into his skin, and I even saw one take out his left eye leaving nothing but a mess in the socket,” Luis said.
The expression on Luis’s face told Matthew of his fear of his dream being the truth. “I know it sounds crazy,” he had said. “But my mother was big on dreams. And what is more, I keep seeing this old gypsy woman. And I have no idea what that could all be about.”
While Matthew couldn’t account for the gypsy woman, he did know what happened and felt guilt over no telling him. But the truth was so out there, Matthew was having a hard time accepting it all himself.
Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction…
Dorothy and Carl had also visited Paul and Gladys a couple times. Because of Paul’s experience with the creature he found trying to eat Dorothy alive, he was more open to accepting what was going on. Of course, Howard and Eva Parker would always ask someone from the Blake family to have Linda call them.
And then there was Cletus now said to be having dreams of a young Romani girl a woman who appeared to be her grandmother. Ronald and Eunice had also extended their home in Tennessee to Matthew and Liz. While Matthew was grateful for the invite, he did feel it best to return to the original land. Back to his roots. Back to the spirit of his Irish and American Native ancestry.
He had taken Liz to the Blake gravesites several times, and each time she seemed to respond favorably with some form of movement. Charles and Emma were buried side by side as were Jonathan and Kimimela. Gerards first wife, Alicia, also had a grave there and even Jonathan’s horse, Samson, had been buried on the family plot when the animal passed away at age thirty. The baby that Jonathan and Kimimela lost was also buried there and the headstone to Willow still stood.
Matthew recalled seeing his aunt in the black void and still wondered if that really had taken place. He remembered seeing the Livingston girl from the year 2001 and wondered why, whenever he thought of her, his nephew Cletus came to mind.

Matthew rose from his chair with his coffee still in hand. In the early morning light, he thought he saw Jonathan and Kimimela riding a black stallion across the field while Howahkan and Sunkwa stood watch. When the wind blew, he thought he heard the faint sounds of a male and female Irish brogue from somewhere in the house (Charles and Emma?).
He felt a presence behind him and turned to see Liz in the doorway. Her eyes reflected a pain, but smiled up at him. Matthew nearly dropped his mug in astonishment. Liz had wheeled herself out to the porch!
He set his coffee mug on the rail and ran over to her. “Liz!”
She was still unable to speak, but she took her husband’s hands and gave them a light squeeze. Liz wasn’t completely well, but this was a start.
Matthew embraced her as the summer breeze surrounded them on the porch, the elements whispering to them as the spirits of his ancestors from Ireland and the early American tribes filled him with hope, love, and pride.


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