Chapter 11 – Ghost
Life is the childhood of our immortality. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
May 14, 2006, Castello di Tullevette, Italy
“Well, isn’t this most interesting!” Exclaimed a Florentine accented voice. “And so many of you are present how assolutamente perfetto. One would believe it was I who had planned such the reunion myself! Imagine, I nearly did,” a melodic voice laughed.
Eleven men stood by the altar at Alexandra side. Their bodies quickly shifted position toward the voice, which echoed from the rear sanctuary. Candlelight and torches obscured a clear vision. The silhouette of a figure was discretely visible, cosseted by a hooded cloak. A gloved hand, held onto the top pillar of the throne; its body grasped the pole in a flying dance of sorts around the pole of the throne – Rostov’s throne. The room echoed as the image wickedly laughed. The figure twirled around the throne again sat on the shoulder, then disposed of the gloves in the seat.
In a flash, Dragan, Hadrian, and Rostov were in her direct line of sight, another flash – Ephraim, Erric, Sirius, Clovis, Joesept, Dragos, and Georges united by their sides. In near unison the men edged closer to the figure – their bodies formed a procession facing thirteen limestone and granite thrones. Stephan remained by Alexandra’s side, his hand holding hers, guileless by the intruder’s presence.
The intruder’s head rose from the throne, revealing two flaming red eyes. Vigilantly the eyes examined each man. The figure turned sharply toward Dragan, who pushed himself toward the front for a better look what the fuss was about. The figure bowed its head. Cooley as it balanced the pallid hands lifted its long delicate fingers to its head and removed the hood. The figure shook it head revealing long flowing hair of golden silk. The woman’s ashen face was stylishly painted magnificence of elegance. Candles burned brightly, the illumination captured her eyes as they transformed from fiery red to that of cobalt blue. Having achieved their direct attention, the female intruder dropped her cloak on the throne. The curves of her form impressively covered in a renaissance style gown sewn of vibrant red velvet cloth.
Her stare, confronted Conte Dragan. She held a hand to her hip. Glowering coldly into the black chasm of his eyes, Dragan gasped.
“Why Lord Milev, I do say, you seem as though you have just witnessed a ghost.” Again she wickedly laughed then hopped down from the throne.
Conte’s face turned pallid. “Isabella!” He shrieked.
“You look so astonished to see me, my Lord. I’m quite impressed. Pleased especially to discover you in fact seem most utterly frightened, of me. Astonishing how a few centuries can have such affect. Would you not agree?” She smirked as she recognized Marcus Hadrian and Gorgevy Rostov. Her left arm rose to her chin as she crossed her other across her belly. Cocking her head, her eyes quickly searched the others. Intently she drew her gaze toward her captive audience.
The men stood idle.
Having their full attention, Isabella playfully pranced to center throne and flung herself in front and sat, fixating her gaze on Conte.
“I am afraid I come with most unpleasant news, my Lord.” Her lips pouted, then briefly drew her index finger to her lips. “Or do I understand you call yourself a Conte these days.” Such a bore she smirked. “Forgive me. I find it a bit trifling grasping the various changes, which occurred since my…” she hesitated, “well, since my untimely incarceration – ‘inside Ma’at’s tomb’!” She spat with rancor. Her head turned wildly as her hands gripped the arms of the throne. Callously she studied each man.
“Dragan, what have you and Rostov done?” Hadrian shouted. He lunged toward the two men who were standing in front of Isabella. “Are you two insane? I can’t believe you locked her in a tomb, alive know less? All these years restrained like a corpse inside our sister’s tomb? Have neither of you any respect?” Hadrian bellowed. He threw up his hands in disgrace.
“Apparently Markus, they do not.” Isabella coldy replied.
Her stare held.
“I assure you Marcus they will atone for their sins.” The flaxen beauty exclaimed. “Oh,” she paused, as she drew her right hand to her mouth. She demurely continued with a chortle. “Did I fail to mention, I’ve already begun?”
Her lips tightened, into a malevolent smiled. Rising from her chair she sauntered toward the men. One hand behind her back the other lifted the side of her dress. Her movements were melodic as her voice. Her body traced a figure eight as she eloquently moved.
“What have you done, Isabella?” The Conte screamed. His face contorted, eyes reddened like a beast.
Isabella’s face flared toward the Conte. She turned, standing mere inches from his face. “Let’s just say, that both Lucian and your beloved Serena Lucia have met their fate – Conte Dragan Milev Tullevette.”
Isabella’s face turned bitter, threatening. She closely circled the Conte. Her long ashen fingers stroked the sharpened gaze worn on his face. Transfixed, the Conte’s face distorted to a hue of feathery green as she continued her game.
“You should have seen the horror in your daughter’s eyes when I informed her that it was you who had killed her precious mother – priceless really. And the taste of her heart as the blood melted over my tongue. I squeezed the sweet essence from her soul until it beat for the last time. Evilly delectable, ‘twas rather comparable to the finest honey laced with truffles.” She chortled again. The nail of her right index finger tore at his cheek drawing a tinge of blood as she spoke. She drew the bloody finger to her lips, and lightly painted them with his blood. Your blood Conte is repugnant, similar to that of your Lucian.
Your son the male whore.” She spat as her anger amplified. You see I observed him at that club, Inferno, I believe. He pranced and fluffed his body like a puffed duck, hah! Waiting to fuck! Or be fucked!” She chuckled. “And apparently anything with two legs that moved. Really such a vile creature, your son. Apparently there is nothing wrong with being gay in that sense of the word these days. I saw his indiscretions in the alley and the bodies he left out for the next day’s trash. Fortunately, my Stephano was no gay. He was a true man a wonderful and caring lover. But, I see how he looks at the girl who lies upon on the altar. A party favor perhaps? Or sacrifice? Never mind. It matters not. I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on him, as if it wasn’t for you two monsters he would be with me now. You should be punished for your transgressions.” Isabella move her body around the room looking at each man her eyes adhered to them like spider weaving its web.
“Where was I, oh yes, the Lord’s children, Conte, forgive me. For it twas I who informed, it was in fact you who was responsible for killing Elisabeth, their mother. I know this because I overheard a conversation between you and some instrument you held to your ear. That Conte Tullevette sealed your children’s fate. I hadn’t realized nor had they when I told them you had plotted for years to kill her didn’t you. She no longer would bed you and you required heirs. You needed her alive long enough to have heirs that and because she was an Akkadian. While she bore no blood to the throne, she was Akkadian all the same. And perhaps you should tell them the rest,” She paused. “No, no I will do it.” She excitedly remarked. “You hated the Akkadian bloodline for years. Why I am not quite sure, that is why you had them eradicated, isn’t it?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about! I did not kill Elisabet! Nor did I plot any such defiance against my wife or her family. ” He shrieked. “Lucian and Serena did nothing to deserve dying by your hand.”
“Perhaps not! But, I was amused nonetheless to witness the fright painted on their faces – priceless. Especially when I informed Lucian it was you, who had in fact murdered their mother. Anger composed of fear and hatred, made the kill that much more delectable. The kill! Undeniably, was most pleasurable; as the blood of a twin as you know is a delicacy. It was rather exciting, you are so well aware of this fact, just as you know how simply luscious blood tastes when comprised of fear. And trust me when I say they, indeed feared me. Although I am not certain which feared me more, but I do know that Lucian’s blood was tainted. It was not as sweet and luscious as Serena’s. I have no proof, but I would say that he was not her brother, I am not entirely certain.”
She smirked, as she imprisoned Rostov in her gaze.
“So Gorgevy, Dragan,” she paused. Vehemently Isabella fixated her eyes into each man of interest. “Are the others aware of your deceitful actions? Or have you managed to keep my imprisonment and all your indiscretions a secret all these years?”
Neither man uttered a sound.
“Awe, I see. Your lack of words tells the tale, does it not? Well, I will do my best to tell them for you. Please feel free to step in should I fail to embrace a detail.” She coiled to her captive audience.
“Isabella, you are insane!” Rostov swallowed hard. His body rotated toward Hadrian, who stood feet behind him. “Hadrian!” He glanced at the others standing secure. “Ephraim, Sirius, Joesept, Dragos, Georges, Erric, don’t you see the woman is mad.” Perspiration beaded on his forehead as he pleaded. “Certainly you see she her lies. I demand that you seize her at once!”
Whether it was curiosity or intrigue, no one moved. Their gazes stiffened. Only Stephan spared a gaze, thought he remained by his Alexandra’s side.
“Gorgevy, I swear your heart races. It is, because you wish to run from me? Such a shame if you were – to miss the fun!” She alleged. Her smile widened. “It appears our audience is intrigued. Will you please allow me to continue?”
Isabella stood nose to nose with Rostov’s. Her glare penetrated deep into his merciless soul as she persevered with her story.
“Well, let’s see, wherever shall I begin?” Isabella paced and then returned her sights directly upon Rostov. She drew a line on his face from his ear toward the red of his lips, with her index finger.
With rancor, she fondled the collar of his cloak, grabbed hold, and jerked him forward, inches from her face. With callous she whispered in his ear. “Oh yes, that fateful night as I journeyed home alone. Not only had I spotted the Count of Ecsed’s royal coach but that of Lord Milev’s, the ‘Contes’ royal coach.” Her eyes bowed toward her audience as she thrust Rostov backward. He fell onto Joesept. Rostov pushed himself upright with disgust. And dust him off. Dragos and Clovis moved in behind him as if preventing any sudden departures. Georges approached behind Dragan to ward off a sudden movements or thoughts of exiting through one of the hidden exits at the far ends of the chamber.
Isabella flicked her gaze toward Dragan now. She pointed at him with contempt. “You see, it was he and Rostov who were out with the Count of Báthory, the Luke of Ecsed, that evening, carrying on. The Count cavorting like an abomination, passionately kissing the mighty Lord Rostov as the two approached the carriage. What a performance.
It twas then, I witnessed Dragan, your Conte Tullevette with my twin. I watched as he drank the last of her essence and cruelly toss her body to the curb like a casualty of the plague. I wanted to run to her. But I could not. I stayed sheltered. But alas, it wasn’t enough for him to kill my sister before my eyes, they were quite aware of my presence to be sure. They tricked me into believing I could return home safely to the arms of my beloved, Stephanos.
As I fled, Rostov swooped down from the thinnest of air, like a medieval sorcerer and snatched me into his arms. With Dragan by his side, the two dragged me into the alley where they ripped from my body my clothes and threw my naked body onto the ground like coin to a pauper. As I lay on the harden surface they repeatedly and brutally beat me; taking turns they raped me. Such unspeakable acts they conducted. Time froze. And Rostov not even a man… the foreign objects he…” Her voice cracked. She barely could continue. “His actions… indescribable, know that most surely had I been human I would have been dead within mere minutes from their tortuousness.”
But you see,” she bowed her head. Her eyes transformed to fire as she sustained. “The rape the beating wasn’t even the worst. For when they tired of me, Rostov held me down one last time. Dragan removed from his cloak some form of a rusty knife. Taking hold, he ripped open my belly as I screamed in agony. Without remorse, they ripped my unborn child from my womb. When I awoke from their barbaric actions, I found myself clothed in rags unfit for a pauper, bloodied and encased in a tomb. No infant.
No, instead, they enclosed three unsuspecting girls, virgins no less. Their bodies chained to the stone of the wall by those two barbarians like murderous thieves. Of course, I had no idea of where I was or why only the girls were chained, and I was not. It was only after days without food or water, did I realize their purpose. To torture me. It was excruciating, the urge to feed upon their flesh like a vulture. I tried to resist, truly I did. I fought with all my power to allow them simply to die. But alas I failed. Their cries were more than I could bear for they suffered so. I must confess with no food or water for them to consume, finally I was left with no choice but to release them of their misery. Please know, the mere thought, tore at my soul.” Shamed, Isabella lowered her head.
Barely a breath could be heard. Isabella whispered. A bloody tear escaped from the corner of her eye. She allowed it to fall upon her chest, before drawing her kerchief and wiping away the blood. She faced the accused and then to the remaining councilmen
“Each of you present in this very chamber understand completely, their blood could not possibly quench my thirst or relinquish my guilt. It drove me mad with the desire for more, and ultimately to seek revenge on them both!” She spat at as her head flung back to the sights of Dragan and Rostov.
“I bid my time, feasted on the rats, which initially fed on me, until no living creature remained. I am most certain you hadn’t anticipated the seal of the tomb would be broken. Neither could I. My body was no longer my own. My flesh long since desiccated and crumbled. But on that very day I awoke with a start to the strong exuberant scent of fresh blood. Unable to resist the call to feed, I welcomed my rescuers to my lair.
The first one, I took by much surprise. The second put up such a wondrous fight. Fear coursed his veins and drove me into frenzied desire to consume him all the more. Alas, ten, if I do recall correctly sacrificed themselves so that I might seek revenge. But before I drank from the last, I learned, I had been entombed over six hundred years – in Queen Ma’at’s tomb.”
The men stirred.
Isabella closed her eyes as if to reflect. As she opened her lids, she gazed at Rostov. She drew from her side a golden athamae and held it taunt to his face.
All eyes, including Stephan’s now were drawn to the athamae understanding the significance it represented. “Ah!” She exclaimed coldly. “I see you all recognize the athamae for which you seek, how ironic for it is I who now possess it? And as you will note each of the stones have returned.” She twisted toward Rostov.
“Before I rip out the heart from your chest Gorgevy I want to understand. What did I do to deserve being treated so despicably?” As she spoke the athamae stroked slowly across Rostov’s cheek. His flesh singed as the blade scorched a blackened line of burnt flesh, releasing a flow of crimson in its path.
The room silenced by her actions.
Rostov glowered. Wiping away the blood with his hand he spit in her face. “You bitch! I will tell you nothing you don’t already know– it was your fucking seed – a half-breed. The spawn of Haides! Conceived when you were human. Subsisting in your womb during the plague, it continued to grow even after you transformed, much to our surprise. Such a birth has never occurred in all of our history. I wasn’t about to allow it to be born. It was my responsibility as elder to see to it. I had to rid the world of you both. Dragan was only too quick to provide assistance.” Rostov maliciously cried. In unison, Sirius, and Clovis stepped in from behind Rostov’s left, and restrained him, Erric and Joesept held guard.
“But why not merely rip the heart from my chest and end it? Was it because you are a coward, who seeks the comfort in the arms of men? Or merely the fact you are a sadistic monster who would rather my flesh wither away entombed for all eternity?” she paused. “I see from the look you wear so indiscreetly on your face, it is the latter.”
Rostov attempted to flee. Dragan edged toward the back of the room as Georges and Dragos flanked him. Clutching Dragan’s arm the two escorted the Conte to Rostov’s side. Ephraim and Hadrian kept a watchful eye on the group from behind, as Isabella’ blinked in disbelief.
“Isabella, hand me the athamae!” Hadrian demanded.
She glanced away holding back tears. Expressionless, she faced her audience. “I won’t relinquish the athamae. It is but my only assurance I leave her alive.”
“Isabella.” Hadrian interceded as he moved to the forefront. “The child lived.”
“How would you know of this, Markus?” She held the athamae close to her chest.
“I witnessed the evil side of my brother and that of Dragan that night. The visualization so horrific, rooted in my head like a noxious weed since. Even I couldn’t fathom such deprivation. So utterly cruel as to tear your unborn child from your womb, then leave it to die a slow and painful death – regardless of the consequences. Remorse consumes my soul Isabella I was unable to save you. Truly, I was defenseless to rescue you. Rostov’s power is far greater than even my own. When they retreated with your body, I searched for the child. Having gazed upon the tiny form, her liquid eyes of swirling aqua tugged open my soul such that I could not bear to see such beauty suffer. A feeling I assure you was unnatural.
Uncertain whether the child was born of good or evil, I instructed one of my most trusted soldiers to transport her to Rome, to the Vatican and placed in a basket and left unbeknownst to me until later, on the steps of the Order of the Echelon. On her basket, a note tied with one word, ‘Keres’.”
“Goddess of death…” She whispered barely under her breath. Her eyes closed
Stephan, silent until the moment he heard the word Keres. Disbelief invoked his face. He observed Isabella. Indeed she held the sacred athamae in her grasp. His eyes turned blood-red as he glared at such a vile group of soulless beings. Isabella in return observed Stephan close. Anger. She noted his anger and smiled hoping it directed Dragan and Rostov. The athamae fell to the ground.
“Dragan and Rostov is this true?” Stephan shouted.
Neither man answered.
“Hadrian, is this true the result of your actions I have a daughter?” Stephan inquired firmly not allowing rebuttal, he leapt toward the men and faced Hadrian. “And you kept the fact I have a child named, Keres, Goddess of Death?” Stephan shrieked. From his periphery, he noticed Rostov flinch. Stephan’s body instantly was standing in front of him. He swiftly clutched Rostov’s shoulder. Forcing Sirius and Clovis to back away, Stephan latched on to the elder’s arm.
Rostov’s eyes widened, transforming to that of golden red. “Stephan you are like my son, you believe that bitch over me?” Stephan squeezed Rostov’s arm cracking the bone.” So it would seem.
Rostov pulled away and grabbed Stephan with his sturdy arm and attempted to throw him aside. Stephan held fast. Not willing to relinquish his grasp. Rostov twisted and strained. Stephan’s grip crushed. Sirius grabbed the athamae in the scuffle and placed it tightly in his boot before rushing to Stephan’s aid. Before Sirius could attack Rostov thrust Sirius’ body. The force of the movement propelled Stephan backward as well, onto Sirius and Clovis, the three men all knocked onto the ground. Powerless to restrain Rostov’s ancient strength, all eyes were on the three fallen men who rolled across the marble floor like billiard balls. Rostov took advantage and leapt over the men holding his crushed arm and sailed across the room to the main entrance of the chamber.
Clovis swiftly and instantly was on his feet. In his altered form he met Rostov at the stairwell. He hissed. Drawing his fangs in preparation for attack. But the elder’s reflexes far out weight those of Clovis. With his sturdy arm Rostov snatched Clovis around his neck. His grip tightened as he easily raised the man up by his throat. Rostov held him high above his head.
“Your fleeing confirms what I’ve believed all along.” Clovis choked. “You are indeed guilty of the crimes Isabella describes. The gods only know what other atrocities you have committed against this House all these years. You are likely responsible for Caius’ disappearance as well. You are no more than a sadistic lying coward! Go ahead kill me. It merely solidifies your guilt.” He suffocated his reply. He latched on to Rostov’s hand with his left. His other hand pulled out from under his cloak a steel blade. Drawing his arm back he thrust the blade deep into Rostov’s strong arm.
Rostov was scarcely phased. “I have no problem killing you Clovis, and I can do so with my bare hand.” Rostov snickered as he yanked the blade out from his arm with his crushed arm, which had nearly healed.
Vanskiiver leapt from across the room, tackled the two as Rostov’s blade crashed to the floor. The force sent all the three onto the floor. Vanskiiver and Rostov slid across the stone like a skater. Clovis’ head met the stone column with such force the column he impact snapped his neck, which released a reverberation through the chamber as the stones crashed down upon him.
Sirius instantly leapt across the room to aid Clovis’. Under the falling rubble, he craftily pulled the man out. Sirius bit into his arm drawing a flow of his blood into Clovis’ mouth. He would live. When the deed was complete, he tracked Rostov as the elder continued his fight with Vanskiiver. Sirius pulled from his boot the athamae and swooped in behind Rostov. Grabbing Rostov’s neck with one arm, his other arm held the athamae to his throat.
“Unhand me Sirius!”
“You dare restrain me! Did you not just see your cousin faltered his attempt to kill me? I am Council elder, an ancient one. You cannot destroy me. Vanskiiver’s actions will be dealt with shortly I assure you.” Rostov shouted
“Unhand him.” Sirius demanded.
“You’re no match for me none of you are. You are fools to believe otherwise.”
“Really!” Sirius pushed the tip of the athamae into Rostov’s neck. His skin singed as smoke billowed from his burnt flesh. Rostov puffed, with agony baring his demonic side. Sirius held the golden athamae of HeKet. With his free hand, Rostov grabbed Sirius, and tossed him toward the center of the room. Weightless, Sirius thrown in the air like a feather his form glided a few seconds before it crashed to the stone floor. His body rested at the side of Rostov’s throne, at the extreme end of the chamber. His head cracked, his blood pooled around the base of the throne.
Forcing to move by the impact of Sirius, Isabella jumped on Stephan’s throne as the athamae slid halting at her feet. She quickly bent down and grabbed hold of the Athamae and shoved it discretely into her skirt.
Rostov’s launched his own body into the air like rocket transporting Vanskiiver into the air with one grasp. The force catapulted the two men through the air, their bodies landing some several feet away near the base of the altar. Vanskiiver rose quickly. He leapt into the air, engaging Rostov. Their bodies slammed hard into the chamber wall, and slowly slid down to the floor. Vanskiiver bared his fangs and hissed. One hand was on Rostov’s arm, the other bending his throat. Vanskiiver bent forward and tore open the flesh of Rostov’s neck.
Rostov shrieked. “Unhand me Erric!” They struggled.
Rostov was powerful. Vanskiiver held fast. His arms quivered as his strength wavered. Rostov thrashed wildly with each arm. Vanskiiver exerted a punch and then another across Rostov’s face. Blood expelled from Rostov’s mouth. He fought back with vigor; twisting around Rostov slammed Vanskiiver against the wall. Releasing his grip, Vanskiiver plunged backward. Rostov’s swooped down and seized Vanskiiver by the neck. His grasp firm and tight. The men’s eyes met as Rostov shoved his free hand through Vanskiiver’s chest his gaze widened in disbelief as his blood erupted like a volcano from his chest.
From the center of the chamber, Stephan’s eyes caught sight of Rostov. In a flash he stood before the two men.
“Rostov what have you done?” Stephan demanded. Shocked, he could only watch as Rostov extracted his arm holding in his grasp a beating heart. His cousin. His comrade, regardless of his childish actions, Erric Vanskiiver was like his brother. Cousins, they grew up side by side for more than four thousand years. Despite, the path Erric chose, Stephan still raced to his aid if he were to have requested. Now his body lay motionless on the ground, the floor encapsulated in a puddle of his blood. Stephan shed a tear for the loss. Erric would be forced to face Haides in the Underworlds and live out his life as a slave. What a loss.
Rostov gazed up despondently.
“A senseless casualty; Vanskiiver should have left well enough alone. My fight was not with him Stephanos. Nor is it with you. The bitch speaks lies, she must be stopped.” Rostov belted.
“Regardless of what I believe, Erric did not have to sacrifice his life for the ills of you and Dragan.”
“He was meddling in issues which did not concern him.” He repeated.
“Rostov, release Erric’s heart. It’s over.” Stephan pleaded. Rostov held his stance as Hadrian and the others men joined them. With reluctance, Rostov coiled. The heart dropped to the floor.
The men shifted their attention to the shouting that echoed about the chamber; the source heard from the thrones. Stephan instantly careened across the chamber and lunged at Isabella, precisely as her arm drew back with intent to thrust her hand through Dragan’s chest. Before she could act, her body tossed through air and crashed at the base of the third stone chair.
The force knocked Dragan from his feet and he fell to the ground. “I owe you my life, Stephanos.” Dragan extended his arm gesturing for assistance to be helped up.
“I would not be so quick to offer such gratitude Dragan.” Stephan replied as he helped Dragan. “Perhaps it is I, who should deliver the blow that sends you straight to Haides.”
“Have you lost your mind, Stephanos? Clearly your woman is mad!”
“Perhaps indeed she is mad. Can you honestly blame her? My God, Dragan! How could you do such a thing? I’m Godfather to your twins; was this act only because you felt remorse for your ungodly sins!” Stephan screamed.
Stephan released his hold of Dragan’s arm. In a flash, he latched hold of his neck with the other, lifting the man off the ground, his feet dangling, hovering over the smooth chamber floor. Stephan’s hand contracted Dragan throat constricting tightly like a Boa.
Isabella rose her face glowed in delight as a tightened smile materialized. Her love was fighting for her. Finally they would be together after so much time they had lost.
Dragan’s eyes bulged out changing to a brilliant shade of magenta; his feet continued to flail. Stephan’s other hand drawn, ready to penetrate the man’s chest. His breath shallow, abated. Stephan’s sights shifted momentarily toward the altar then stairwell. Shout’s emanated from within the stairwell. Rostov escaped. Ephraim and Dragos winged from behind in close pursuit.
Stephan returned his attentions to Dragan. “My anger has reduced me to this!” he shouted as he released his grip thrusting Dragan’s body aside where he faltered on the hardened ground.
“I will not succumb to Dragan or Rostov’s level or to yours Isabella. I will not!” Stephan belted in disgust. His eyes red, angry as his sights grasped hold of Isabella. She stood, bloodied. Her eyes captured his.
“I believed you dead.” He said. “Taken away and tortured by the daemon chasers.” His eyes momentarily distressed. Positioned between Isabella and the altar, his gaze flicked back and forth between Alexandra whose comatose body lay silent upon the altar and the woman he once believed he loved. He forced back tears; tears he would not shed for Isabella. Anger seared deep within his soul. Isabella was no different from Rostov or Dragan: murderous daemons. His eyes burned raw as they seized Isabella’s form.
His gaze returned to Alexandra, and in a flash he was by her side, vowing his devotion to watch over her for all eternity.