This is all happening too quickly. Harper had just been given the sordid tale of her family and now she's yet again facing another death of a close relative. Another death tied to Adamaris. She knows it's unfair to blame her sister, but rationality has never been Harper's strong suit.
"You are going to let me through that door! I've lost two family members due to that bitch and her mother... I'm not letting her get away so she can just hunt me down and ruin my life all over again. And Cedric... he' still in that damn house!" Harper winces when she realizes that she has forgotten all about Ced.
"The mortal has a point. If we run now, it would only delay the inevitable. Vittoria will find her again and she will have had time to concoct a better plan that we might not be prepared for. We should fight her. We should have fought her from the onset."
Harper turns her attention to Viktor and gives him a confident nod in agreement. "I like his plan."
The whole room falls silent while Uther contemplates the situation. "I don't like it... but I don't see any way around it. Our first priority has, and will always be, to protect Lord Vincent's family; but so far we have failed... I have failed. Perhaps it is time we ended this, for good or ill. However, Harper you are not permitted to join us. You are to stay here with Meladonna."
Harper slaps Meladonna's hands away when she reaches out to restrain her. "This is for your own good, Harper." She frowns.
"No! I'm not going to sit here and rot while you all fight. You need me! I can distract her... I can..." With that, Harper lets out a pained sob and for the first time ever, lets the tears run freely in front of others. "I wasn't able to help my sister, I was absolutely useless when my mother had her emotional breakdown, but this time I can help. Vittoria wants me, remember? My being there would shift her focus and possibly create a window for you all to strike! Please, Uther."
Uther looks at Meladonna who nods. "She has a point, Uther. I don't want to put her in danger, but taking her with us might be an advantage."
Viktor stands up and heads for the door impatiently. "Look, we either take the mortal or we don't. Standing around is only giving Vittoria more time to come up with a plan; or worse, flee."
Uther pinches the bridge of his nose, sighing deeply. "She won't run; not when she is so close to finishing this." Turning his attention back to Meladonna; "You and Dellayna are tasked with keeping a close eye on Harper, while Viktor and myself survey the situation. When I give word, we all attack. Understood?"
When everyone nods in agreement, Uther slumps his shoulders in defeat. "All right then. Let's move."
Vittoria left the door unlocked, clearly in anticipation of their arrival. As soon as they step into the house, Dellayna's senses are on high alert. She tugs Meladonna's arm and a knowing glance passes between them; a glance that Harper misses as she desperately searched the room for signs of her Uncle and Cedric.
Harper doesn't have to look far. "Corrigan?" She asks quietly.
As soon as he turns around, Harper regrets convincing the Umbria's to take her along. This isn't her Uncle.
Corrigan smirks. "Vittoria said you would bring her." He gazes intently at Harper, laughing at her sudden unease. "You are all so predictable."
Dellayna shakes her head in disbelief. "No. I saw Vittoria kill you; I felt your last heart beat..."
"How is this possible?" Uther interrupts, "It takes days for a transformation to be complete."
As if on cue, Vittoria is at Corrigan's side. "So messy, isn't he?" She smiles seductively as she swipes her finger lightly across his lip to gather some blood and licks it off. "Mmm... your red-headed friend is even tastier than he looks."
Harper attempts to close the gap between her and Vittoria, but Uther and Meladonna hold her back. "Let Cedric and my Uncle go!"
"It's a little late for that, dear." Vittoria quips.
"What have you done, Vittoria?" Uther has never seen anything like this before. Transformations are never quick and painless.
Vittoria shrugs. "Only what I had to. Don't worry, the red-headed one is fine; just a little... drained."
Vittoria looks at Corrigan wistfully; Harper can see the gleam of entertainment in her eyes and shudders. "Oh he's beyond redemption, I'm afraid. His blood is strong, but by establishing the mental link while he was still a mortal... well, let's just say he won't be able to break it on his own."
"What do you mean?"
"I've made quite sure that if I'm killed or if there is a forced attempt to sever the link, that his mind won't recover. He'll be just like Rebeccah." Uther winces and Vittoria smiles. "A little trick I learned before coming here to make sure my mother's mistake with Adamaris wasn't repeated. Smart, yes?"
"And how were you able to change him so quickly?"
Vittoria laughs, shaking her head as if she were dealing with an insolent child. "Another trick. The slow introduction of my blood over the course of weeks. I just needed to kill him to enforce the change." She looks to Dellayna and smirks. "Which your little spy saw. But... as fun as this has been, I believe it's time to finish this business so I can be on my way."
Corrigan dons a hollow grin, before turning his attention to his niece. "As you wish."
Before Harper can gather what is happening, she's pushed hastily against the wall by Viktor. Meladonna, Dellayna, and Uther surround her as Viktor fights Corrigan and Vittoria takes advantage of the tumult to advance toward the fledgling group.
Meladonna steps forward, blocking her advance. "You have done quite enough, Vittoria."
"Oh, I've just started." She sneers.
Meladonna pounces on Vittoria before she can make another move. Uther and Dellayna attempt to take advantage of the chaos and move Harper to another room, but she won't budge. There's no way in hell she's leaving Cedric in his unconscious state to the whims of Vittoria. She has lost Corrigan; she isn't losing anyone else.
In the middle of the fighting and Harper's rampant cursing, they all hear it. That sickening crack of bone hitting something solid and the thump of a body hitting the floor heavily.
As usual, Uther and Dellayna are able to sense what is coming long before Harper can. She feels herself being corralled into a corner again as Corrigan moves toward them quickly. It's obvious, Viktor is down.
Dellayna moves a bit forward to close whatever gap there is between her and Uther. There's no way Corrigan is getting by without a fight.
"Ah... I just want to see my dearest niece." Corrigan leers.
But just as suddenly as he's in front of them, he's turning away in pain. Corrigan puts his hands to his heart and lurches forward, screaming in agony.
Vittoria lies immobile on the floor in front of Meladonna. Harper attempts, to again, move out of Uther and Dellayna's protection to approach her Uncle, but she's restrained by Uther.
He shakes his head vehemently. "Something isn't right. Breaking the link, even through the death of the maker, is not painful. Vittoria may have been true to her word earlier... Corrigan's mind might have been damaged."
Dellayna moves toward Corrigan slowly, cautiously. She glances at both her mother and Uther apprehensively as Corrigan falls suspiciously silent.
Without warning, Corrigan pushes Dellayna into the wall, incapacitating her. Meladonna screams as soon as her daughter's body makes impact and then she herself falls limp to the ground, leaving only Uther between Harper and her Uncle.
"I can finish this!" Corrigan mutters incoherently. "I can do her will even if she's dead. She'd be so proud."
His quiet laughter is unsettling and Harper grasps Uther's sleeve in desperation. "Corrigan, please! It's me! It's Harper!" She yells, but it's no use. He doesn't hear her. Suddenly, Uther shifts slightly; easing his stance to crane his neck to see behind their attacker. Harper hears him gasp a quiet "Lord Vincent," before the strangers filter into the room and surround Corrigan.
Lord Vincent gives a knowing nod to Uther and then turns his attention back to the situation at hand, his red eyes gleaming with determination. "Step away from them, Corrigan. It's over."
Corrigan readies himself into a fighting stance again, taking in all the new opponents, which allows Harper a better glance over Uther's shoulder. And then there she is. Adamaris smiles briefly in acknowledgement of her surprise.
With one curt nod, the strange group all move forward to restrain Corrigan. He kicks and screams violently in response, all of it directed at Harper, before being forcefully dragged into another room.
When the house finally falls silent, and Uther occupies himself with checking on the motionless bodies of his comrades, Harper lets herself succumb to her emotions. "Goddamn vampires."
Cedric woke a few hours later. Lord Vincent and the others still hadn't emerged from the other room and Uther had managed to wake and move Meladonna, Dellayna, and Viktor to the kitchen for proper care; leaving Harper and Cedric alone in the empty living room. Harper had been sitting next to the bed, occasionally checking Cedric's breathing to be sure he was still alive.
Cedric gets up slowly, blinking a few times to regain composure. "What did I miss?"
Harper shrugs, tiredly. "Oh, you know; your and my almost imminent death at the hands of a crazed vampire. Nothing special."
Cedric looks around the room. "Where's Corri?"
When Harper looks down suddenly, wiping away a few tears, Cedric immediately goes to her side; but is interrupted by an approaching figure. "Who the hell are you?"
Harper sighs. "Cedric, I would like you to meet my sister... Adamaris."
Cedric steps away, looking skeptically at Harper. "Your sister is dead."
"That's half correct." Adamaris interrupts, smiling weakly. "Do you mind leaving us alone for a bit Cedric? I'm sure Harper will fill you in on the details later."
Cedric gazes again at Harper who nods in assent. "Fine." Turning back to Ada, "But I'll be close, so don't do anything you'll regret."
Adamaris puts her hand up to her heart. "I promise. No funny business."
Cedric isn't sure what the hell is going on, and Harper seems comfortable enough in that strange girls presence, but he's not going to let his guard down just yet.
Adamaris stands in silence, allowing Harper to start the conversation when she's ready, all the while marveling at how much her little sister has grown since she last saw her.
But Harper doesn't know how to begin; doesn't know how to pick up where they left off. "You, um... cut your hair."
Adamaris smirks. "One of many changes. You've grown."
"That was bound to happen."
"I wish I had been there to watch it."
"You could have, but you left."
Adamaris drops her gaze, feeling guilty. "Yes. You have a point."
"So... what now?"
"Lord Vincent has a plan. You'll move from here and lead as normal a life as possible, I suspect."
"And what if I don't want to leave? Don't I have a say in this?"
Lord Vincent interrupts. "I'm afraid not, Harper. Situations like this tend to raise suspicion in town and I'll need the aid of other clans to help with damage control. It's dangerous enough that you're a mortal that knows of our existence, but if they find out you're a 'half-breed' as well, they'll kill you... and I won't be able to stop it."
Harper grimaces. "Great."
"We are relocating you to Meadow Glen, a small town quite a bit away from here. I have assigned Uther as your protection and he will be living with you until I deem it is safe for him to leave."
Uther nods stoically in response. "And what about Cedric?" He asks, motioning toward the couch.
Cedric scoffs and joins the group. "You're not deciding my fate. I'm going with Harper, so long as she wants me there."
"I want you to come, but you really don't have to Cedric. I'm the only one in danger and I don't want to jeopardize any opportunities you have here."
Cedric smiles. "Opportunities in Anne Arbor? Pah. Being with you is way more fun."
Adamaris grins as Harper blushes and looks away from Cedric shyly. "I see no harm in his going with her. It will be another person there should something go wrong."
"There's no point in separating them if he feels that strongly about joining." Uther agrees.
"Then it is settled. Harper, you and Cedric will pack your things and be ready in precisely one hour." Lord Vincent lets his eyes linger on both of them before continuing, "the sooner you two are gone, the better."
Harper reaches out suddenly, grasping Lord Vincent's sleeve. "Wait, what about Corrigan? What will you do with him?"
Lord Vincent gently detaches her hand from his jacket, patting it gently and then letting it go. "There was no helping your Uncle. We have seen his condition before and letting it go unchecked is... unpleasant. What we did for him was kind."
Harper looks to Adamaris, begging for it not to be true, but Adamaris only shakes her head sadly in response.
Harper can't stand being in any of their presence any longer and turns away. She hears Lord Vincent and Uther resume their conversation seemingly unperturbed by her leaving. Cedric attempted to follow, but Adamaris gets there before he can even make a move, so he silently excuses himself to go sit on the couch. It's Adamaris' cold hand on her shoulder that brings Harper back to reality.
"You okay?" Adamaris asks quietly. Harper scoffs in response, but otherwise remains silent. "Yeah, that question is probably a bit trite given the circumstances."
"You're not Adamaris; you're not my sister..." she says turning abruptly, clenching her fists; "the Adamaris that I remember would have tried to stop them from killing our Uncle. You, all of you, are just... emotionless monsters."
Adamaris sighs, grasping for an explanation that Harper will never understand. "Things... are different now, Harper. I am me, but I'm also not. Being transformed changed how I view the world and the people in it." Adamaris comes closer, grabbing Harper's hand in hers. "Corrigan, his death, it was necessary and it was generous. He was poisoned by Vittoria and if let loose, would have done much worse than she could ever accomplish. He was a danger to himself and everyone else and we couldn't take that chance again."
"No. I don't believe that. If you could have been saved, so could Corrigan." She says, pulling her hand from Ada's grasp.
Adamaris backs away sadly, letting her now empty hand fall limply to her side. She had waited years to see Harper again, and now she realizes that perhaps it would have been best if she remained in Bridgeport as Lord Vincent had advised. Her presence is obviously creating more pain than comfort. "I'm sorry, Harper. For everything."
Harper lowers her gaze to her feet. "I know Ada, it's just.." She shakes her head and decides it's best to drop the conversation for now. "I'm going to go pack my things; I would appreciate it if no one followed me."
"Of course. I'll be here when you finish."
Adamaris watches sadly as Harper heads toward the first available room and shuts the door.
An hour later and both Harper and Cedric are ready to hit the road. Harper gathers her emotions enough to thank the "Umbria's" and is glad to see that Meladonna, Viktor, and Dellayna aren't as hurt as she feared.
Lord Vincent pulls her gently aside as soon as she's finished. "I understand that it will always be hard for you to consider me family, but know that if you are ever in want of anything, you just need to ask."
"I thought the whole reason for me leaving was so that no one else found out about the mortal members of your family. If I keep in touch, won't that just negate me moving?"
Lord Vincent smiles wistfully. "The women in our family have always been particularly blunt. I'm glad to see that trait has not withered over the generations. Uther will be your mode of communication with me or Adamaris; if you need anything, let him know."
Harper smirks. "Thanks gramps. I'll keep that in mind."
Lord Vincent smiles again, and then gathers everyone else inside to begin clean-up; leaving Adamaris and Harper alone for one last moment.
Adamaris grins weakly, letting the silence drift between them, before finally speaking. "I'm sorry our reunion was so brief... and so chaotic."
"Is that a hint that I won't be seeing you again?"
"That is up to you, Harper. I cannot travel alone or visit frequently, as I'm still not in complete control of my abilities, but I'm sure Lord Vincent would allow a visit or two so long as I'm accompanied and it is kept secret."
Harper looks away briefly, before continuing. She hates seeing Adamaris so sad, but she also hates what she's done. "Look, Adamaris. I'm sorry for what I said earlier, but I'm still confused and angry. I just... it's so difficult seeing you after thinking you were dead all these years... and now you're leaving again. And then losing Corrigan..."
Adamaris quickly pulls her into a hug, silencing her. "Trust me, I want to go with you... but it's too dangerous. For now, we'll have to make due with potential future visits." Adamaris backs away, looking at Harper intently. "I really do wish I was there to see you grow. You are much stronger than I ever was."
Harper scoffs. "Nah... I'm just more stubborn."
"Promise me that as soon as you are settled that you remind Uther to let us know you are all safe. He is notoriously horrid with prompt communication." Harper nods mutely in response. "Also, when you and Cedric are official, I better get a wedding invitation."
Harper blushes deeply, averting her gaze. "What? I'm too young, and he's... well..."
"You two are lucky to have each other." Adamaris nods toward Uther, letting him know they are finished.
Uther heeds her signal and moves forward to usher Harper and Cedric toward the waiting car. Adamaris gives her sister and Cedric a small smile and then reluctantly retreats toward the house.
She stays outside until the car is out of sight. Adamaris doesn't hear her great-grandfather join her, but she has grown accustomed to his being there when she needs him most, even unexpectedly. "Standing out here won't make the circumstances easier, dear."
Lord Vincent places his hand on her shoulder and squeezes gently, before returning indoors to his duties. His great-granddaughter simply wants to be alone to say her last goodbyes...
...he can at least give her that.
So pretend you don't notice the picture editing inconsistency. The first ten or so pictures came out all wonky so I had to edit and re-format them to look mildly meh; but then I quickly lost interest in editing the rest. I'm lazy.
Lemme just share my frustrations with this chapter. For one, my pose player is all borked; so my original plan to have Cedric all crumpled up and useless on the floor fell through... hence the reason why he is taking a blissful nap in the background. *headdesk* And after refreshing and starting new Anne Arbor's due to lags, I started taking pictures that were only semi-relevant to the plot just to be done with it. That explains the absolutely horrid scenes this chapter. Blargh.
In case anyone is wondering why I brought Corrigan back to life, only to kill him again... well, the method in which Vittoria changes him will be brought up in the future. In other words, Corrigan got the double whammy for later plot purposes. Poor fella'.
On a random note: I'm not sure if anyone can see the relation between Lord Vincent and Mya (as my picture quality is extremely shitty), but she had his nose, mouth, and eye color before I changed his to red... because ya' know, why not?
Derp. Adamaris makes the best faces.
Next chapter will be in Meadow Glen. Hurrah!