Matthias, p.28
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       Matthias, p.28

           Ariana Kenny

  Chapter 21 Losing Faith

  When I first saw them I was taken by surprise. Russell had chopped his hair back and Myria was, well all grown up. I had forgotten how long we had been gone, and with my world with Cassie being less than changing, it hadn’t even occurred to me that Myria would keep ageing. Not until now anyway. She came up and greeted me pleasantly enough, though I could feel the distance between us. Given the terms we had parted on, I expected little else. She gave me an acknowledging nod and polite smile.

  Russell on the other hand bounded up and grasped my arm as he came in to give me a hug. “Good to see you Matt” he beamed.

  “You too” I responded as he broke contact with me.

  “I hope they have some decent food at the hotel, that plastic they call food on the plane was crap!” Russell continued before picking up the bags and standing ready to be taken back to the hotel.

  “We’ll find you something I’m sure” I guaranteed him.

  “Myria. Good to see you too.” I didn’t want any hard feelings between us, and hoped extending myself by being the first to speak might help. “You look like you are doing well.”

  “I am older. I’m 25 now Matt. I think that makes me older than you now doesn’t it?”

  “Now quite” I clarified for her. I held out my arm offering to take her bag but she shook her head.

  “That’s alright” she assured me, gripping the grey backpack tighter. “This one has Cam in it. I’m not letting go.”

  “Cam! You dug her up and bring her here – in the backpack?” I must have spoken louder than I intended because several people next to us turned to give us uncomfortable looks. I took note, as did Myria, and I continued in a hushed tone. “Couldn’t we have just taken the stuff we needed back to her? How did you even get her through customs.”

  “A glamour, an illusion.” She said rather aloof as we began to walk away. “I am much better at magik than I was before now. I can control things quite specifically. Still don’t have the strength to do some of the things I would like to, but… can’t have everything I want I guess.”

  “She even managed to get our tickets for free – first class!” Russell stated proudly.

  We exited the terminal and hopped into a waiting taxi. I directed the driver and he took us down the perfectly groomed road towards the Nile where we were set up. I turned to the two behind me Russell had a new hunting knife strapped to his side. “Nice piece” I remarked to which he drew it out.

  “Gift from Viktor. Really is something”. He responded.

  “Violet and Viktor aren’t coming?”

  Myria decided to field my question. “Someone had to stay behind to look after the Club. It’s become really big now. Packed almost every night we’re open. Violet protested, saying Viktor could look after the place on his own, but he didn’t want her to come.”

  “Viktor admitted needing help? That’s new” I half laughed.

  “They have become inseparable” Russell clarified.

  “You mean insufferable” Myria bit back. “They go everywhere together, finish each others sentences. Think the same things.”

  “That doesn’t sound so bad.” I thought out loud.

  “I think it depends what side of the looking glass you’re on.” Russell said with a snide look on his face aimed at Myria.

  “I’m not jealous. I know what I want, what I need. I don’t need someone else in my life right now.” She sounded aloof, but it was an obvious attempt to seem unaffected.

  “Good.” I wanted to be as supportive as possible. “I think you need to be happy with yourself, by yourself first. It’s easier to know what you want then.” She looked at me inquisitively, then smiled as though satisfied. I felt relief that we could talk again after everything. It felt like things were almost back to the point we could relax and be in the same room simultaneously.

  Drawing into the hotel driveway, I paid the driver and escorted Russell and Myria to our room. Cassie was awake, and ready to go, but Russell insisted on room service first. He tore through a massive burger before laying down on the bed and groaning. Myria sat perched on the end of the bed and stole a few chips, barely making eye contact with Cassie. Cassie made little effort to try and build bridges.

  “So where are we going?” Cassie asked Russell, who finally pulled himself to standing. He unfolded a topographical map, spread it across the counter of the wall cabinet and pointed to a spot about 30 minutes walk into bush land from the outskirts of where we were staying at the hotel. Cassie bent over and studied the map as Myria peered at me sideways.

  “So you two are still inseparable too I see.” She made comment.

  “Yup. Its insufferable” I joked, but she paused for a moment before smiling.

  “It’s been quite a while. I’m grown up now, mature and have my head on straight. No hard feelings?” She stammered when she spoke, and I became aware of Cassie’s attention diverted from Russell who had moved on to discussing Violet’s latest changes to the club. A rainforest room which was essentially a glorified glass house.

  “No hard feelings Myria. I want us all to get along. Especially if we can get Cam back.”

  “One big happy family again” she said.

  “Something like that. Cassie and I are looking to come back home after this. I have a quick stop off to make...and then home. For good.”

  “A quick stop off….” Mused Myria, a playful smile on her face. “You mean to confront Michael. In Greece.”

  “How did you know?” I wondered what sort of crazy powers she had been fine tuning over the last few years. Hopefully not psychic ones.

  “Elias called Violet last week.”

  I was relieved, and felt slightly ridiculous at considering psychic powers over a simple phone call. “Ah” I responded, “They’re talking again.”

  “Of course. They never didn’t, really. He just needed space” she enthused. “Viktor is even fine with it. A little standoffish and distrusting, but that’s his right.”

  “Sounds like a lot’s changed while we’ve been gone.”

  “More than you could imagine.” Was the comeback.

  Russell interjected at this stage. “We ready to go? There’s a lot still to do”

  Wanting to spend another moment with Cassie before we headed in to the unknown, I addressed Russell and Myria “You head off, we’ll catch up.” Cassie leaned back on the side table as they left and I turned to her.

  “What’s on your mind?” Cassie asked with that tone she had that told me she already knew.

  “What if, after this, we didn’t go back. I mean, we could visit, but just find a way for it to be…”

  “Just us?” She finished for me. I nodded n response to her. “I think I’d like that Matthias. Just the two of us, coming and going where and when we want.”

  “It’s not like we wouldn’t visit, play our part.”

  Cassie smiled knowingly. “I know, but we also wouldn’t keep getting drawn into other people’s dramas.”

  “Let’s get this done then.” With that we left together, and caught up with Myria and Russell.

  As we all drew closer to the point referenced on the map, I heard the noise of tree branches crackling above us. I looked up before turning to give Cassie a thoughtful look. I didn’t want to alarm her unnecessarily. Before I had a chance to mention it, and without breaking her stride, or re-directing her glance she spoke to me. “I know. There’s someone else here. I’m not sure why or who though. I wouldn’t think this would be much of interest.”

  “Are you kidding me? The chance to restore life. How many people have lost loved ones….Sires, mates, siblings…. It could be used and abused an incredible source of power.” Cassie nodded in agreement.

  “What are you two talking about?” asked Myria from up front.

  Trying to distract her from what we knew, I thought now was the time to get a little more detail about what we were searching for. “Just wondering how exactly this will work.

  Myria was happy to oblige with an explanation. “There will be this stand, with a crystal in the middle. I need to spread some blood from a sacrifice on the crystal, and let it run into the bowl that will be secured at the base of the stand. If I put Cam’s remains in or under the bowl and let the blood run into them, she should revive – come back to us.”

  Cassie and I looked at each other sharply and in alarm “A sacrifice?” Cassie asked. “What kind of sacrifice?”

  “Whatever we can find – a bird, rat. Anything. Depends on the size of the bowl. The blood has to reach the base of the concave before it can seep into the remains, and restore it to life.” Myria replied, and before Cassie had a chance to do anything other than furrow her brow, a figure dropped on her from above.

  I recognised her face and form before she even touched the ground. It was Amy, the woman who had fallen into the cave where Michael and the Old Ones were trapped by the runes. As Amy had fallen into the cavern, she had broken the final barrier of the seal, allowing them to exit. We had thought her to be dead, all but her sneakers eaten, or dragged in to some literal hole in the ground. But here she was.

  True to her living form, she was quick, athletic and agile. But she was young and so easy to predict. After dropping to the ground and knocking Cassie off her feet she had flipped backwards, but Cassie had already reached the spot where she was at and punched her in the face. Amy squealed and held her hand to her nose before trying to side kick Cassie who darted out of the way, once…., twice and by the third kick I grabbed the leg mid roundhouse and propelled her backwards. She landed on her feet, but before she had a chance to move again Myria shouted out in an authoritarian voice:

  “Be still” She commanded, and Amy was frozen to the spot. Cassie and I stared at Myria in surprise.

  “I can’t hold her forever” Myria said “It only lasts in short bursts, and only if I’m not distracted.” I responded by taking Amy’s arms behind her back.

  Cassie confronted her immediately. “Who are you?”

  I surprised them by answering. “This is Amy – she’s the one who was trapped with the Old Ones.”

  “I thought she was dinner” exclaimed Cassie.

  “So did I” I reflected.

  “How did you know about her” asked Russell.

  “I dreamt of her falling in to the cavern with Michael. Obviously he sent her here.”

  Amy kicked back, bucking in to me and I had to brace myself. “I don’t take orders from that dog!” she yelled.

  “Settle down!” Cassie cautioned, which Amy did, but gave Cassie a black look.

  “You dreamt of her?” Russell asked keenly interested. “You dream of things like that often?”

  “Just from time to time. Usually it doesn’t quite make sense though. Its half real, half not.”

  “Its hard to see across the veil” he confirmed for me. “Hell of a gift if you can harness it.”

  “We have to keep moving” Myria reminded. “So it looks like we have a traveling buddy.” I towed Amy in to line and we re-commenced walking.

  “So if Michael didn’t send you who did” I asked quietly, not wanting to draw too much attention to Myria ahead.

  “As if I would bother telling you!” She spat back at me. Myria glanced backwards inquisitively.

  Cassie tried to back me up “Might be in your interest to be honest with us right now.”

  “I might not give a shit what you think” came the reply. I pulled her hands tighter behind her and she flinched at the movement.

  As we approached the area specified on the map, a darkened pulpit-like structure came in to view ahead of a small clearing. Myria ran to it and brushed the dirt from the top. In the middle there lay a secured crystal sphere. There were words etched into the base.

  “What does it say?” asked Cassie breaking her almost complete lack of verbal interaction.

  “Restoration of being.” She replied. “This is it. Finally.” Myria looked close to tears. Russell put an arm around her. “We still have a while to go” he reminded her. “What do we have to do next?”

  “There should be a marble bowl around here somewhere. We have to see what condition it’s in, then I will place Cam’s remains at the base with the offering, the sacrifice. I’ll have to kill it, cut its throat or gut it, and as the blood runs, it should be done.” She eased to her knees at the base of the podium and started searching around for the bowl.

  “Done how?” I asked as Russell helped by pulling away the larger branches as Myria sifted through leaves and dirt.

  Cassie walked forward beyond the standing structure with the crystal and looked out. There was a small dip in the ground immediately to the base of the structure, that provided a space free of trees and a free view for about six metres across. She picked up a rock and launched it effortlessly across the small hollow.

  Myria stared up at her from the ground. “Help me. I can’t find it.”

  Cassie responded by moving to pick up a bigger rock, but as she reached down, she paused.

  I was still standing behind them, holding Amy firmly by both arms. “What is it?” I inquired of Cassie.

  “Myria are you sure it’s a bowl?” Cassie continued, sweeping an arm out across the ground at the dip. Rock and soil tumbled down the small incline revealing a stone marble structure underneath. Russell, Myria and Cassie all moved out around the edge of the hillside, knocking and sweeping away debris to reveal marble edges.

  I kept Amy secure while Cassie, Russell and Myria cleared all of the fallen leaves, branches and rocks to reveal an expansive marble floor that formed a basin that had looked like a natural dip in the landscape when covered with plant debris.

  Myria removed the wooden box with Camille’s remains from her backpack and placed it in the middle of the marble concave. She looked concerned, directing her gaze towards Russell.

  “We are going to need a bigger sacrifice.” Russell stated. Myria nodded and they both looked at Amy, who struggled under my grip.

  Cassie stepped forward “No. No way. She’s only young, we don’t even know why she is here……”

  I voiced my objection at the same time. “You can’t just take a life like that Myria. This is a person, like you, I, Cassie or Russell.” Just as I finished though, Amy broke free, using my distraction as an opportunity. She bolted away passing Cassie who reached out to grab her. Barely catching Amy, Cassie turned to get a better hold as I ran over. Amy twisted and scratched at Cassie who drew back, but managed to still get scratched on the neck and let go in response. Amy took a moment to smile triumphantly as Cassie flinched at the fairly superficial injury. Amy took off, but being faster, I arrived in front of her before she had started to gain much ground and hit out at her with my palm, using her own motion to impact her stomach and send her through the air. Amy recovered her ground and came slashing like a wild animal at me.

  Confused, I pushed Amy with all my strength and she propelled backwards into a nearby tree. She gurgled and her neck and shoulders flopped over, but remained suspended upright. Cassie moved, almost stumbling, over to her. Amy had landed on a tree branch that impaled her. She had died immediately.

  “No! We needed her.” Myria exclaimed.

  Cassie held her hand to the scratches on her neck. She rested against the tree, and looked sick. I moved closer to her to offer assistance but she waved dismissively towards me.

  “You alright? What’s wrong?”

  “Nothing, just the weather; the rushing around. I’m fine” she said straightening up.

  All of a sudden we heard a sharp intake of breath from Russell. He made a strained sound and I looked around in time to see him fall to his knees, blood oozing from his mouth. Myria was standing, holding the hunting knife Russell usually had at his waist.

  Russell’s face was riddled with expressions of pain – physical and emotional. How Myria could do this was beyond me. I sprinted over to them, pushing Myria out of the way from where she stood h
olding the crystal on the top of the podium with both hands. She stopped muttering just as I pushed her, but it was too late. Russell was dead. His blood trickled off the platform and down the incline towards Camille’s remains.

  I rushed over to Myria where she was sprawled on the floor and started to shake her. “What did you do – Why? He looked after you your whole life? Myria. Why!?” She just stuck her chin out defiantly.

  "Matt. Look" I heard Cassie say meekly. I rose to standing, only to feel weak at the knees. Camille was only just stirring, rousing herself and looking around confused. Cassie skidded down the incline pulling off her jacket to wrap Camille in. Meanwhile Myria had risen and grabbed up her backpack. She pulled a long black satin dress from the bag, wrapped tightly, and tossed it to Cassie.

  "I did what I had to Matt, what I had to…. to get her back. I don't care what you say or do. I'd do it again." I moved forward to hit her. I was so angry I could hardly think. I stopped myself from hitting her reluctantly.

  After helping Camille into her clothes, Cassie joined us, bringing Cam with her. Cam looked well, restored. Cassie gave Myria a dark look. Myria looked back in scorn.

  "I don't know what we are going to do with you" Cassie said, exasperated.

  "You could thank me Cassie." Myria answered defensively.

  "That was no means to an end. We'll talk later. There were options, you just chose not to take them." Cassie reasoned, or tried.

  "What are you talking about. What's wrong" asked Camille still unaware of the circumstances of her return.

  "Nothing. Nothing Cam sweetie. I missed you so much." said Cassie giving Cam a hug. Cam pushed her away gently. "Tell me now. What's wrong?"

  "It's Russell" I interjected with no hesitation.

  "Stop! Don't tell her." Myria begged, anxiety clear in her tone.

  "She deserves to know Myria." I said as Cassie looked at the floor to hide her welling eyes.

  "Know what? Where is Russell?" Cam pressed.

  "He died" Cassie blurted out. "Myria killed him. We needed a sacrifice and instead of waiting, she killed him. Cam. I've told you before she isn't right."

  Myria screamed at Cassie "NO!" As she screamed a wave of power strobed out and knocked Cassie to the ground. Cam sunk to her knees, shaking her head. She looked up at Myria, face taut with horror and tears streaming down her face. Cassie groaned pulling herself up. I offered her my hand and she took it. She felt shaky and unsteady to me as she rose to her feet.

  Cam started shouting "Bring Russell back now. I will go and find some other sacrifice out there." She pointed back to where we had come from "And you bring him back!" her voice cracked slightly on the last word.

  "I can't. That's it." Myria mumbled the words, looking like a scared child.

  "What do you mean that's it? That can't be it. Do it. Now!"

  “The crystal only had one charge.”

  “Liar!” Cam screamed.

  “I'm not lying. It's thousands of years old. It only had the one charge in it. Why do you think I was so anxious to use it?!”

  Cam sucked in a breath and lowered her head. A roar of grief escaped her, and if it wasn't enough, Cassie chose that moment to fall to the ground.

  I caught her as she collapsed but she was out cold by the time I lay her on the ground. I tapped her face lightly. “Cassie, Cassie!” She looked drugged. I noticed the scratches Amy had laid on Cassie's neck. They were red, swollen and left a trail of rash- like blotches streaking from them. The surrounding skin looked yellow and tinged with grey. My heart sank.

  “Cassandra" I whispered. "Whatever this is, fight it. I am coming for you. I'll fix this and we can start again. I promise. Just us." Cassie never opened her eyes, but I picked her up.

  "We need to get back to the hotel!" I got up and walked, not waiting for anything or anyone. Cam stood but didn't follow like Myria. I turned back briefly.

  "I'm staying to bury Russell. I'll follow." Cam stated flatly.

  "I'll stay and help." Offered Myria.

  "You will not!" Hissed Cam. Myria shrank back from her.

  "Myria." I barked, not about to give her any grace. "Move or get left behind."

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