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It's been a long time, darling.

Posted 9 Months ago by Learna

So much time had passed. It began to wear on the house, the floorboards once polished and beautiful were now dull and croaked, weak beneath her feet. Planks on the grand staircase in the foyer rotted and disintegrated, wasting away to nothingness. Bright, bold tapestries and carpets reduced to moth-eaten, drab versions of a former self. Long since had the shingles fallen away leaving gaping holes in the roof, allowing for any manner of wildlife and weather to enter without invitation. The courtyard an overgrown thicket of dead vines and weeds. Black Thorn Manor was nothing but a shell, once a vision, the very pinnacle of loveliness and grandeur, and now a reminder of a past long since lost.
And she was a ghost.
Fingertips traced over abandoned picture frames, and furniture that housed rodents. If she listened carefully she could still hear the music flit through the air like a whisper on the wind. How long had she been there? Forever? It felt simultaneously like she’d never left, and that she’d never been there at all. The past and the present melded into one as she made her way through the home she had shared with a family long gone. Down the hall is where a child slept, whose name she could no longer remember. The room over there, a woman, a friend, with dark hair, and dark eyes. This room was where she would sit and paint for hours, her easel still standing with a canvas unfinished. She used to sew, somewhere. Clothes for the children, for the rest of her family. But that was so long ago she couldn’t trust her mind to tell her the truth anymore. All of their faces had become distant memories, memories that it seemed she may have borrowed from someone else.
Dim amethyst eyes fell shut as she stepped into her old bedroom, and the nostalgia washed over her. Moonlight streamed in silver beams through the tattered curtains hanging across a balcony door with busted windows, and the earthy musky scent of decay gave way to something familiar beneath. With a deep breath, the rot fell away, and when she opened her eyes again she was in another time. The sweet scent of vanilla and cedar filled her space, as tall, melting candles lit up the room. She sat at her vanity, running her fingers over an immaculate set of jeweled hair combs she stopped at a silver brush and hummed idly as she ran it through long raven locks. In the mirror she was youthful, pink cheeks, bright eyes, and plump flesh, a stark contrast to the lifeless skeletal face she had now, cheeks sallow, and eyes sunken in. Like everything else in the house, she was withering away.
She was unable to remember who left and who died, only that they were no longer there, living on only in her mind, and eventually, she began to forget. Sometimes she could feel them in a song, or a scent, for a brief moment in an endless time. It was like being adrift at sea as she wandered through the dying house, and through the woods around it. So long had she wandered the grounds of the manor she had to wonder if she was still alive herself, or if she had died long ago, and was merely unable to recognize it. If she had died, and still was cursed to never be reunited with them, this was assuredly what hell was. But if she was alive, well if she still was alive she didn’t know why.
For a long time, Lea held out hope that they would return someday. That her family would return home to her, and if she continued to light the candles, to play music, they would.
How long ago was that again?
Would she even recognize them anymore? There was only one face burned into her memory. His features etched into her mind until the end of time. Her eyes stung as a blood-red tear fell down her cheek at the thought of him. Tall and handsome, how could she ever forget him?
When she looked up in the mirror she saw him standing there, in the doorway behind her, eyes like the ocean watching her. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she turned in her chair, aware that she was alone, but relishing the comfort his presence in her imagination brought. Long fingers ran through wild ebony curls as he moved toward her, kneeling at her side and taking her hands in his.

“It’s been a long time, darling.” He said, his voice the most beautiful sound. Lea opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out, hardly a whisper. When was the last time she’d spoken aloud? Years? Decades? A millennium? He brought a cold hand to her cheek, and it didn’t matter. Nothing she could say to him would have mattered.
As he stood, and brought her to her feet, the music from downstairs swelled. He pressed his lips to her knuckles, and pulled her in close, taking one step, then another, and another in time with the music. How long since she had danced? How long since she had danced with him?
She waltzed through the empty dying halls, aware of her failing mind. Aware that perhaps she had finally cracked and fallen into the abyss of madness. But if this was madness, if madness meant the rest of her days dancing with him till she turned to ash, it was madness that she welcomed. The pain of being alone for so long, the pain of longing for so long had slowly ebbed to an endless nothing, a gray fog through which she walked every day. And now, looking at his beautiful face she had color again, she had music and candlelight. She had her home once more, even if it was only in her mind's eye.
He led her downstairs, before taking her by the waist again and swaying to the lilting sounds of a violin and a piano. He brought the back of her hand to his lips again, before spinning her into the center of the dank foyer. All visage of beauty washed away leaving her with the ugly reality that her home was falling apart around her. That she was dying with it.
He stood in the open arch where the foyer met the parlor, a lit candle in his hands.

“It’s been a long time, darling.” He said again. Lea slowly shook her head, in denial of what he was telling her. She didn’t care that he wasn’t there, didn’t care that this once marvelous building was turning to dust around her. If she had him there with her, even if he was only in her mind she could be happy again. She could learn to be happy again, that would be enough after being so starved for what once was. He nodded in response, he wasn’t real, he wasn’t even really him. Just an image she cooked up in her head, the best parts of him standing in front of her, the parts she chose to remember him as, leaving behind all of the bad.
Closing the space between them he placed the candle in her hands, a soft smile gracing full lips, fangs just a tad too large peeking under.
“It’s been a long time, darling. Now it’s time to say goodbye.” He laid a kiss on her forehead, and another on her lips, and when she opened her eyes again, he was gone. Her fingertips lingered over her lips as if she could savor the feeling as if she could burn it there forever, but he was mist, a specter, the mirage of a dehydrated woman.
It was time to say goodbye to the home she haunted for years. No one was returning, her family was gone. Her children… her friends… her love. It was all gone, no matter how long she waited, no matter how much she wanted, she could not undo what had been done. No amount of dusting would unshatter the windows. No amount of nails could unsplinter the banister. No matter how many times she made the children's beds she would never hear their laughter. She could fill countless glasses with tea and no one would sit at her table. And no matter how vividly she dreamed him into reality, he would not stroll through the door again to lift her off her feet. It was only her and the bones now, her and the rats. Her palace falling to pieces around her like the fractured memories in her mind slowly disappeared.
It was time to say goodbye, time to put this tomb to rest. Time to let go of what kept her there day after day, month after month, year after year. It had been such a long time…

She set the candle on a weathered end table, frayed edges of a tapestry dangling just above the flickering flame. First smoke, as the dirt and dust burned away, then it caught, fire climbing up the dingy fabric as quickly as any kindling. Lea turned and left through the front door, stopping to close it behind her, then stepped into the courtyard to sit at the edge of a marble fountain that hadn’t worked in more years than she could count. She watched the smoke pour from the broken windows and the holes in the roof. The brilliant orange lighting up the midnight sky, and for the first time in forever, she could feel the heat on her skin

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Embers flickered and dance, she the audience to a grand ballet, as she watched in silence as fire climbed each story of the house in rhythmic allegros. Icy blue eyes slowly lifted, the glare of her eyes meeting the numerous stars above until they were smothered out by smoke. How long had it been since she was here? A year? A decade? A century? Perhaps she was not here at all, this simply the latest dream to haunt her in torpor.

At one time she had lived here in this very structure. Even then, she would have predicted this to be the houses end. She just assumed that when the time came, it would have been at the hands of their enemies. That she would be surrounded by allies, friends, and family in that final hour. That like so many times before she would be pressed back-to-back with the lord of the house, swords-in-hand.

Standing just beyond the threshold, she watched as the only place she ever called home slowly burned away. She had slept for so long, the darkness of some forgotten crypt her blanket, stirred awake by an ache. An ache that made way for nostalgia, for desire, and so she had traced her former steps and ascended back into the world.

It was so different. Quieter. The roar of the world a reverberating echo that always surrounded her and yet none of it drew her attention. For so long the only thing that drew her attention was the scent of blood, the Beast within thrashing at its cage, and so often did she let it out. Most knew her as a killer. The romantic called her a warrior. But in these modern nights, she was neither. She was merely the echo of the woman called Deselena.

Outstretching a hand towards the fire, it cast shadowy puppets across her form, but she could not feel their presence – their heat. Peering down the familiar courtyard path, the old vampire felt a longing pull at her. Long black hair blanketed her frame, messy, her pale frame stepping through a dead garden until she found herself staring at a spectre. Learna. A smile came to her lips, cracked and dry like the fountain she sat at, but present nonetheless.

A moment passed before Deselena stepped forwards, joining her friend at the fountain. “I saw this moment in my dreams.”

1 Month ago
Deselena.

Fire lapped at the aged and dry wooden boards of the manor, turning them to ash in an instant, and engulfing the whole structure in minutes. Her eyes fell shut as she basked in the heat, the light flickering behind closed eyelids, if she tried hard enough maybe… just maybe she could envision the sun. How could one forget the sun, the watercolor masterpieces it paints in the sky as it passes? How many canvases had she covered trying to capture a singular fraction of the radiance she hadn't borne witness to in ages? What she wouldn’t give just to see it rise or set one final time. With nothing left there was nothing stopping her; the choice was simple and obvious. She would watch the generational home smolder away to nothing, and then she would join it, she would watch the sunrise again, one final time. It was not a sad conclusion, merely the end of a story, the deserved final chapter.
Was there a better way to draw the curtains? If there was one she couldn’t locate it in the fog of her melted mind. So far had she slipped, so unused had she been that she heard nothing of the woman approaching until she was suddenly there. Lea turned dull eyes to her, a wash of recognition broke. Her face was so familiar. A friend, family perhaps, someone she knew fondly. Moreso she was surprised to see a ghost outside of the house. Or perhaps another figment of her imagination. It was true, so it would seem, she had indeed succumbed to madness. At least it was peaceful.
Then she spoke, a voice real enough to pierce through the atrophy, and furrow her brow as her brain tried to decipher if perhaps she was the one dreaming. Naturally, rationally, she had to be dreaming for Deselena to appear once again. How long had it been since she’d seen her face? A lifetime ago, or many. They had to both be dead, slipping through that veil between worlds. To look on them now one would be hard-pressed to be convinced of life yet. Frail, withered, small. Compared to who they were, to the legacy of bloodshed left in the wake of the steps they took over the world.
“Was it a sad dream?” She asked as she reached out a thin hand to clasp Deselena’s with another smile. If she wasn’t real, she was grateful for the company in the last hours. If she was real then she was happy to see her. “If I’d known you’d be here I might have waited a few more minutes.”

1 Month ago
Learna

Her gaze met Learna’s and for a moment Deselena searched. She was not entirely sure for what – recognition, perhaps. Part of her looked for the flame that flickered within a friend she once knew to command the room with ease and drew so many to her breast. But as she watched her brow furrowed, life returning in the moment, and Deselena found what she was looking for. Life.

“A bittersweet one.” Immortals like them were not meant for this world. So much of this world she no longer understood, no longer did she have a purpose to cling to, and so little of the blood interested her. But still as her hunger grew untethered, soon her only choice would be to commit Diablerie, wrench the blood from the body of a kindred until they met Final Death. She would be little more than the Beast then.

“One we shared together.” Deselena smiled softly as her hand intertwined with Learna’s, a comfort after so long. “I was not sure I would make it. I recognize neither the landmarks nor the roads anymore.” This was going to be the end of her journey. Though her exterior was never changing, immortal, she was no longer the same woman. Exhaustion had soaked into her very body, each movement a concentrated effort, the vitae that once coursed through her body now slow and diminished. Her body demanded more yet found none filling.

This was it. “I am glad I did, though. The sun has earned my ashes amongst this house’s.” She lightly squeezed Learna’s hand, a reminder for them both that they were present. Whose ashes were already present within? Or did they all drift off in the breeze? It felt as if it had been centuries and yet felt as if it was just yesterday that this home was haunted with the constant pitter-patter of feet, of voices, of echoes, of desire. Now just the soft crackling of fire eating away at decayed wood.

1 Month ago
Deselena.

“A bittersweet dream. One we shared together.”
A lovely notion, one that cracked through the haze like a searchlight. Lea gave her hand a hard squeeze, still not truly believing she was, in fact, standing there, a flesh and blood corporeal being and not just two ghosts meeting in the middle. But Deselena’s hand was there, it did not crumble under the weight of her own or fade away like a wispy hallucination. When it settled in, she was there, well and truly, physically there, the dam broke and something that hadn't happened in more years than she could count washed over her. She felt.
The pain of missing someone so terribly. The sorrow of not feeling the touch of another in ages. Loneliness so all-encompassing it petrified her mind, it all evaporated, making room for something new. Gratefulness, happiness, nostalgia. Contentment.
She could have wept, overcome by emotions she’s forgotten existed, but no longer knowing how to truly process it. The more Deselena spoke, the more grounded in reality she became, and when she said out loud the thoughts in Lea’s head all she could do was stand and embrace her as tightly as her frail frame would allow.
“I’m glad too.” She said, as she buried her face in the ebony locks of the other woman’s hair, wet gathering in her eyes against her will. “I’m so glad you found your way back.”
How perfect, she thought, entire lifetimes had passed only for the fates to bring them together again, and just in time. A fitting ending, a wonderful ending to centuries of chaos, damnation and blood. There was no fear, no remorse, no regrets or doubts, and if there were they melted away with Deselena’s presence. Left in place of all of the turmoil and loss there was only peace. Peace that, surely, neither of them had deserved. Deselena’s past was stained in red, a veritable walking death sentence for those unfortunate enough to cross her path, forging a trail of corpses across the land. And herself, a wrecking ball, haughty and commanding with an unquenchable thirst that plagued entire villages. No, they didn’t deserve peace, they didn’t deserve this beautiful death they were going to recieve. Least of all, they didn’t deserve the comfort of company at the end.
When she finally, begrudgingly, let go of her friend, her sister, all she could do was peer into those crystalline blue eyes.
“There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words.” Where had she been? What had she seen of the world? Did she know how much it had changed? Did she know what happened to the rest of them? The ones who lived, the ones who died, the ones who slipped away into the night and vanished into the ether. How much did she remember, how much did she forget? An ocean of stories, questions and explanations far too expansive to cross, let alone now. The truth was it no longer mattered, so she made no further attempts to address it, Deselena’s words sealing their fate. A funny thing, two women cursed with the gift of endless time, and yet seemingly, they’d run out.
“The sun has earned both of us. We will welcome it… together.” She said taking the woman’s hands in hers again. There wasn’t much time left, the hours would pass quickly and she was unable to will herself to break the final moments of physical contact she would ever have.

1 Month ago
Learna

The embrace had come suddenly, unexpectedly even, and after a hesitant moment Deselena wrapped an arm around Learna. She could not recall the last time she did that. And as her friend pulled away, Deselena lingered, her hand brushing strands of hair from Learna’s face. So much to say. So much to explain. She had kicked up so much dirt wandering this earth that she was a scar on the land, hidden beneath the skyscrapers, beneath the lights, beneath the cement, and beneath the carrion. Deep within the soil she had left her mark.

Perhaps that was the story she deserved. Neither praise nor scorn, she was simply to be forgotten. She would finally be allowed to rest. A smile crept to her lips at the thought. It had been some time since she had seen the sun, incomprehensibly long, the draw of its warmth sending butterflies throughout her stomach and chest. Wispy rays of light slowly crept across the horizon, finding their way through the house, pockets of space created by the crackling and spreading fire, just as her hands were again clasped by Learna’s.

Even in her extended sleep, Deselena’s dreams had been heaving with rage, seeking out that next fight. Demanding that next source of blood. But here within this courtyard, waiting for the sun to rise above their home and find them, her hands intertwined with Learna’s, she felt at peace. A feeling that had escaped her long before her Embrace. Long before immortality. Once she had stood behind the Queen of the Iceni, sword and shield in hand, swearing and raging against a superior force, blood weeping from their enslavers, only to later wake up in a night sky-stained crimson, rebirthed beneath a blood moon.

It had indeed been some time since she felt at peace. Turning back to Learna, whisking herself away from memories of long ago, she leaned her head against her sister’s shoulder, raven locks of hair a shield momentarily covering them both before her head raised once more and she met Learna’s eyes. “Together then. Our ashes will never be apart again.”

1 Month ago
Deselena.

Deselena’s eyes wandered, and it was easy to tell where her mind went with it, back into the past somewhere. She was a mystery to Lea, for the most part, remembering only bits and pieces of her history over the centuries. Vague notions of stories from a time long before she knew her as family. But Lea couldn’t remember much of anything anymore, the cobwebs in her head needed dusting, and her memories were moth-eaten, even her own story was like that.
She remembered existing in a place lush and green, once upon a time. Remembered the feel of tall grass against her thighs and wind whipping through the trees when she returned home, wherever that was. She remembered the feel of a bow in her hand and fatal accuracy. Moreso she could recall the heavy, sinking, thud an arrow makes when it strikes a target, and the sharp shock of air wrenched front the throats of those unlucky enough to catch one. There was also music, and dancing, and revelry punctuating the darker time or walking hand-in-hand with them. At some point, it all turned to shades of dark, and red, and then emptiness.
Perhaps Deselena’s journey had ended much like her own, a foggy stupor lasting an uncountable time, nothing left to her but a name lost to the ages and her bones. Maybe she too had lost everything and everyone. Of course, that was the case, why else would she end up there?
This was the sum of their immortal lives. Enough victims between them to fill a sea of blood. Clan battles. Freedom fights. Protecting land and loved ones. Blood for survival. One soul after another was sacrificed by Kings, Queens, Gods, and their values. Sacrificed to them, to their altar, traded for another day walking these lands. And now they held each other as they waited for the end, strangely tender for how savage they were at the core, so human. Desperate to connect in the final minutes.
Lea rested her head against Desalena’s for a moment all too brief before catching her eyes again. And that was that. Nothing left to say, no tasks left to check off the list. No quests to complete or favors to run. No chores to finish, nothing to anticipate, prophecies to fear, oaths to honor. There was simply still, silent, peaceful nothingness.

The fire consumed the house, reducing it to nothing but a smoldering pile of rubble, and lost memories, artifacts of another world. The velvety pitch blanket of night dissipated at the horizon turning to shades of red and orange as dawn approached.
This was it. No going back. Would it hurt?
Learna pressed her forehead to Desalena’s and squeezed her hands tighter, there were no words in any languages that she knew to express how she felt. Her presence had given her the greatest gift she could have received. Companionship, love, serenity. She would share her final sunrise with someone so dear, something she did not deserve, and she was so grateful.
As the sky lightened she turned her amethyst eyes up, falling in love with the painting of the morning and welcoming the warmth of sunlight again like another old friend.

1 Month ago
Learna

No more words. No more acts of rebellion. Years and years of struggling against the currents of fate, but in the end, here she was – moments away from her end. The sun was an inevitability, a colossus she so desperately hid from all these years, its searching gaze constant as she stalked beneath its overwhelming shadow. It was only a matter of time before that gaze found her. As the house around them began to collapse, its joints and supports catching fire, weakening, and withering into ash, she turned icy blue eyes to the horizon.

Turning one more time to Learna, she gave her a smile. She had dreamed about this moment for so long, knowing that it would be her end, but never quite seeing the forest for the trees. Deselena had always assumed this moment would be accompanied by bloodshed, violence, the final stand amongst their enemies. She never would have thought that their enemies would die before them, swallowed by the same abyss that now awaited them. No, she never thought that her death would be voluntary – or even welcomed with open arms and a kiss.

But here she was with no more to say, no more fight, simple acceptance for what was to come. Her time on this earth had reached an end and she was glad to see it through with someone that was family to her. Maybe it would make up for her first death, alone and violent, abandoned on a battlefield. This time she would find some comfort in it. With one more squeeze of Learna’s hand, Deselena turned her attention back towards the horizon and welcomed an old friend.

Hues of red, orange, purple, and blue shattered the dark and as the sun sent forth waves of light and heat, she felt its gaze look upon her once more. At long last Deselena could truly feel – her icy blues began to melt, her skin began to flake, and her body caught fire like kindling.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Deselena embraced Final Death and was no more.

1 Month ago
Deselena.

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