Chapter 31 Showdown
When I woke, I was chained to the middle of the floor in nothing but my pants. I felt the cold floor on the soles of my feet, and on my back, with creeping sense of dread enveloping me. I sat up and focused my eyes in the soft light of the candelabras against the back wall. The room I was in was a deep sandstone colour with polished black stone floor. There was a level above, with a single narrow staircase leading from it down to the pit I was in. I was resting at the base of what seemed to be a dip in the middle. I gasped to stand, because I recognised the design. This was the device Myria had been building from the blueprints. As I reached my feet I felt the strong tug of the chains holding me to the floor. They glistened brightly in the light. I looked at them, then started to look around me for a way to get out.
I saw Cassie was across the concave, still asleep, laying on her side, hair tumbling across her shoulders. I knew I couldn’t reach her, so I pulled on the chains trying to loosen them. My skin burned where the silver of the cuffs touched my wrists as I pulled it. I hissed in pain and examined the bindings to see if there was a weak point. They had a velvet insert around the inside of the cuff to stop them from burning through constantly. Knowing it would hurt, I tried the next best thing, I grabbed the chain and pulled, yanking on them and using all my force to try and break the hold. I held back my yells so as not to draw any attention to myself. The longer I had to think by myself the better.
“Matt.” I heard Violet’s voice echo from behind me. I turned to see her bound to the ground with metal clasps on the ‘viewing deck’ level above me.
“Violet. What the hell happened?” I called to her in a hushed tone.
“What do you think? Myria happened. We shouldn’t have trusted her.”
“Can you move?”
“I can’t even stand. I have these metal u shaped things hammered in to the ground around my ankles and wrists. They look like they were made from some kind of gold. Even if I try to move they burn my skin.”
“Me too.” I despondently replied.
“At least you can stand Matt. See who’s coming at you.” Violet said resting her head on the ground.
“Why? Are you worried about me doing something untoward?” Came a male voice in the darkness. I couldn’t recognise it, and I spun around trying to fix a face to the voice. Violet’s head shot up telling me she knew exactly who it was though.
“Violet. Who is it?” I pressed in vain. She simply stared into the blackness of the shadows near the stairs.
“No one apparently.” The disembodied voice continued until I saw him move.
“Violet!” I called.
“Leave her alone. Clearly the shock of seeing someone back from the dead is all too much for her. Who would have guessed?” I stood my ground as the man became clearer, moving towards me with a confident stride. I saw the man’s hands, rippling his fingers together thoughtfully. His eyes gleamed in the dark, and he had a curious curve of a smile on his mouth. He stood just far enough that I knew I couldn’t reach.
“What do you think you are doing?” I confronted.
“Hmm, no niceties ‘eh.”
“Ben.” Violet muttered in awe.
“Ben, as in your Ben?!” I exclaimed.
“Clearly not anymore,” Ben answered for her. “Now it’s Viktor, her Viktor.” He waved his hand and wandered, pacing slowly along the edge of the basin I was trapped in. “I’ve been long forgotten, clearly.” There was no emotion in his voice, no cynicism, no anger. Just flatness, detachment.
“Ben” Violet spoke at long last. “Ben what happened to you? Why are you doing this?”
“Nothing happened to me Violet. I managed to live through the experience, and when Belil realised I was still alive, he decided I was strong enough.”
“Strong enough for what?” Violet asked straining to keep her body as upright as she could given the anchors to the floor.
“To be his successor.”
“You let him put me away – in that place?” Violet reacted.
“No, you were already gone by the time this happened. I’m not saying it was easy for me Violet. He locked me away, I fought him initially, but he began to show me….everything I could be. So I came to understand how he could be my teacher, as well as my leader.”
“So this is about Belil? Us killing him?” I tried to make clear.
Ben’s voice darkened suddenly, and for the first time I heard emotion. “When I came back to find the club burned down, Belil dead along with the others, I knew you were going to pay. All of you. Wouldn’t you do anything for the person who made you what you are today?” He glanced in Cassie’s direction. “But it’s alright, I’m not selfish Matthias. I realise that you didn’t kill Belil, but I know you meant to, which is just as bad. You helped them, so I’ve helped Myria, so Myria could learn to help herself. It’s a full circle you see. I might have lost Belil, my father of a fashion, but I then found I could teach others.”
“Like Myria.” I responded having the full picture fall in to place now.
“Especially Myria. After Michael was such a failure, I was too happy to see her step up to the mark.”
“Michael?” I choked.
“Who do you think dragged him from your car after you disappeared off to rescue the girl?” He pointed at Cassie humorously. “Did you think an OldOne with their huge paws neatly opened the door and removed him.” Ben became serious again. “I took him from you, I drained him, turned him, and buried him.” I felt fire burning through me. This, this was what Michael had been trying to tell me.
“Then you trained him. Sent him after me.” I stared at Ben wanting nothing more than to gut him where he stood. This was the person who changed Michael, taught him magiks, armed him with OldOnes and Amulets, then sent him after me, to destroy me. This man, not Michael was the one that truly took my life from me.
“Yes, well, I don’t think I can take much credit for that. He struggled with the magik side, ran when you found him, and tried to disappear when the OldOnes were being killed off. Not very impressive. Kids, you try and teach them…..” he mused, then resumed his pacing. Then he resumed talking, and looked up at Violet. “It took me a while to track you all down of course. Then by the time I did, Violet was all but lost in the Viking. Never did understand Viktor, so stoic, yet so easily enslaved by passion. Where is he by the way Violet?”
“Shut up.” She bit back.
“Oooh. Hit a nerve. Bet you sent him away, didn’t you. Or did you just scare him away. So independent. So powerful my Violet.”
“You don’t get to call me that anymore.” Violet seethed, but Ben just gave a quick smirk.
“You sent Violet the dirt.” I said to distract Ben from his fixed gaze on Violet.
“I figured I tried too hard too fast with Michael. Amy was always just a fleeting interest with a purpose. No time invested there. So this time, I took my time, figuring out what to do. Not like I don’t have time now is it?. Besides, you had been turned by then, because of Michael’s mistake, and as much as I don’t like you Matt, I have to admit you are stronger than me. And I don’t like to lose.” Ben stopped pacing and crossed his arms, staring at me.
“When I saw how Myria had grown, I was really encouraged. I first approached her the night you drove her away crying. She was out in the cold in this little see through purple number. It was all I could do not to bite her then, but I comforted her, explained how unfair it all was. Myria had some interesting ideas, but she wasn’t ready then, as angry as she was. I spent some time working with her instead, paying her the attention she needed, in her, in her projects, and she kept me secret. It wasn’t until you changed her that she really became useful though. Wow, what power.” More quietly he continued “What fantastic anger and rage. Tricked by you, killed; Abandoned by Camille, whom she saved and brought back from the dead. Camille even tried to kill her – where’s the gratitude I ask you?” Ben started to pace around in a semi-circle and back again.
“And what was the first thing you did when you came out. Did you try and look for me Violet. If you thought I was dead, did you try and find my body to bring me back as you planned to do with Camille– No.” Ben moved halfway up the stairs so he was level with Violet’s face on the upper deck.
Violet looked distressed and stared back at him with unwavering eyes. “There was no way for me to know Ben. Any of that – you being alive… I saw Belil have your throat slit.” Violet’s voice broke. “I grieved for you. Why are you doing this?”
“I told you why Violet.” Ben said running his hands through Violet’s hair.
“I thought you were going to wait for me?” Myria’s voice sounded from the doorway. She walked over to the ledge and peered down at me. Ben rushed up the stairs to Myria’s side.
“I know, but they woke, and I saw you sleeping. I didn’t want to wake you.” He took her hand and kissed it. My stomach churned. He had manipulated Myria through and through. She had fallen for his act, and I was in no position to get free, let alone fight anyone off while I was safety chained to the floor.
“Myria.” I said softly. “Myria, don’t fall for this. He’s using you.”
“No. He really isn’t. We are in this together. You were using me. And now it’s time to see what all that comes to.” Myria descended the stairs while Ben moved across the upper platform to a waist high podium where he proceeded to pull a crystal from his sleeve.
Myria cocked her head and looked me over. “It’s a real shame Matt, but I think this will be for the best. When we found out the second site had been destroyed over time, we built this one. The only problem is the crystals are so sensitive, they can only last one charge, but Ben pointed out that I have time to find another, but you should be punished.
“I convinced Myria to use it for a worthwhile purpose.” Ben offered from above me. I glared at him, then looked back at Myria.
“Whatever you think you have to do, you don’t. We can fix this. Like I said to you before, we can get through everything, be friends again, all of us. I know Cam misses you. I could be like before, but better.” Myria shut her eyes and winced as though the thought of Cam was all to painful. She stifled tears, jutted out her chin and fixed her features to remain emotionless again.
“Do you think I am so naïve? You would say anything to get out of this. You know what, you chose Cassie over me, why would you think I could believe that all of a sudden you care about me and what I want? Let me tell you what I don’t want Matt. I don’t want you anymore. But I do want to see you suffer. For what you did to me, what you did to Ben.” She shot him a glance and a shy smile as though looking for approval. He gave her an affirmative nod back again.
“Myria, whatever you do,” Violet said, her voice filled now with ire. “You better do it well, because the second we are loose, we are going to take this out on you two…”
“Not if you can’t stand up Violet.” Then she looked back at me. “Not if you don’t have strength and speed, and all those things that come with being more than human. She walked closer towards me, but I didn’t see anger in her face. Almost pity.
“What are you doing Myria?” I asked, almost afraid I knew the answer. But Ben answered for her.
“We are giving you your life back Matthias. You get to be human again. Cassie is going to sacrifice herself for you. Rather fits her do-gooder attitude don’t you think? I think she would actually be quite happy with that.” He feigned enthused happiness before clarifying what was to happen next. “Then I’m going to kill you – slowly and while Violet watches. I know she always had a soft spot for you.” Myria looked away, momentarily pained, then moved towards Cassie, and withdrew a blade from her skirt. I struggled against the chains again, but I couldn’t even with all my strength pull them from the floor anchor. I knew it, but I tried anyway. Slicing across Cassie’s wrist, Myria smeared her hand and glided up the stairs, towards Ben and the podium where she drew a symbol in the blood on the crystal as she had when she had killed Russell.
Cassie’s blood trickled slowly down the incline until I felt the first few drops touch my feet and I suddenly panicked, but as I opened my mouth to plead for forgiveness I wasn’t going to get I saw a figure pressed against the wall behind Ben. It was Camille.
Camille flitted towards Ben, meaning to drive the dagger home, but he sensed her, swung his body around and grabbed her fist. Camille might be fast, but she was not as strong as he was. He twisted her wrist and tried to grab her by the throat, but she spun herself around, freeing his hold and ran, barely visible to the other side of the deck near Violet.
Ben turned to Myria. “Stop her.” Myria just stared blankly back at Ben.
“I won’t hurt her.” Myria said.
“Just stop her then.” Ben said trying hard to steady his voice.
Camille bent to the anchors on Violet’s hands. “Cam, you’re here.” Violet whispered.
“I followed you, after you left. Couldn’t help myself.” She said, and sprinkled a fine grey powder over the restraints. As she did she whispered words and they buckled under Violet’s pull. Her hands freed, Camille moved to Violet’s ankles, but was frozen, lifted inches off the ground by Myria. Myria walked towards her, hand outstretched.
“Stop, Cam. Please stop.”
“Myria.” Cam responded. “Don’t do this Myria. Matt’s right. We can fix all this if you stop now.”
“I can’t.” Myria said, her voice suddenly trembling. “We’ve been working towards this for so long. I have to see it through. It wasn’t fair what happened.”
“No it wasn’t fair.” I yelled. “But Myria. we’ve all made mistakes, don’t let him make any more for you. I’m sorry for what I did. But please. You’ll regret this, and he isn’t being honest with you.” Myria looked at me, but maintained her grip on Cam.
“Enough!” Ben shouted, stomping over to Myria and Camille. He grabbed Camille from behind, one hand around her throat, and she fought him, feet lifting off the ground.
Myria suddenly snapped to. “Let her go Ben.”
“She is just like the rest of them. She will lie to you.” Ben squeezed Cam’s neck with both hands now as she kicked and bucked against him. “She will lie to you, betray you and be your undoing. She doesn’t love you.” Camille’s eyes rolled, and anger flashed across Myria’s face.
Ben flew into the stone wall behind with no warning, and so much force, several bricks were knocked loose. Camille had dropped to the floor and Myria ran to her, falling to the floor next to her. Myria clutched at Camille to offer her care, but Camille looked past Myria to Ben who was just rising to his feet, fury filling his face.
“Myria, what the hell do you think you’re doing!” Ben screamed at her. Myria stood to her feet, all 5ft 7” of dark, angry magik, and the room darkened, the candelabra’s flaring.
“What am I doing? What are you doing? Cam was never to be hurt. Don’t touch her I said.” Myria fronted to Ben and they stood glaring at each other.
Ben took a breath, swallowed and tried to regain control of the situation. “Myria, you need to follow through and start up the device.”
“Don’t tell me what to do.” Myria sparked.
“I’m just trying to keep you on track here, keep you from being distracted.”
“Myria.” Camille’s voice sounded. “Myria, let’s go. All of us, out of here and away from him.”
“Be quiet.” Ben responded. “She isn’t going anywhere until this is done.”
“And then?” asked Violet. “What then?” Ben responded by swinging his foot around to kick Violet, but she grabbed it and threw him off balance. Ben landed on the floor as Myria arrived at the podium, and Camille rushed to her, grabbing the hand covered with Cassie’s blood as Myria reached out to place her hand on the crystal. As Camille looked into Myria’s eyes I saw a release by Myria. She softened and sighed at t
“That’s it!” Ben’s voice sounded and he smashed into Camille sending her flying in to the brickwork. Myria swelled in her presence drawing so much anger she literally floated off the floor, her toes barely touching the brickwork. As Ben turned to face her a look of horror and regret struck him, but Myria already had him frozen to the spot.
“I said to leave her alone!” Myria screeched. Ben flew across the room again, as Cam rose to her feet, and flitted across to finish freeing Violet. The second Violet was free, she grabbed the bag from Cam and jumped the distance to me. Cam stayed with Myria.
As Violet sprinkled the dust over my feet, I heard a crack and Myria fell to the ground. Ben appeared standing above her. His shirt had been removed and on his skin was a version of my tattoo, the symbol that Myria couldn’t work her magiks to. The pyramid was marked in red and purple ink, and he stood triumphantly over Myria’s unconscious body, having rendered her powerless by displaying the image before knocking her out. “Bitch.” He muttered looking at her before he looked intently down at Violet and I, and Violet started to quickly mumble the incantation to free me. It was too late though, she hadn’t got through the saying before Ben grabbed her by her clothes and spun her on to the landing upstairs.
Now within my reach, I grabbed him by the arms and he jolted, trying to free himself. As he did, the chains, which had been weakened started to give. I hung on and as he wrenched forward, we both propelled to the side of the basin. Cassie rolled slightly in to the base of the structure, her own blood drenching her clothes. I renewed by grip on Ben, meaning to throw me, but he broke my hold well, hitting me across the jaw. I reached for him again, and threw him against the stairs.
My fangs sprang out. As I rushed him, he used my own speed to push me away with his foot. I landed near the podium and he swung himself up behind me. Ben picked a loose stone up that had been shaken from the wall and launched it into my chest. I was breathless from the pain and tried to steel myself as he reached down to me.
Before either of us made another move Ben winced and clutched his side. Cam had driven the blade Myria had used to cut Cassie in to his side. Cam jerked it in him, slicing across his abdomen, blood spilling out. I saw Myria walk up beside him, lean into his ear and whisper. “Watch this bitch!” before she pushed him over the railing with one hand as she smeared blood from his wound on her other. Ben fell down to the ledge above the incline where Cassie had been before she rolled to the apex. Without another word, Myria slammed her hand onto the crystal. She murmured “restituere animam original.”
Matthias by Ariana Kenny / Fantasy have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes