Trials and Infatuations 3

“Nothing” she said in a honest tone

Michael said, "Is this a side effect of all the spells your father cast upon you?"

“My father never cast any spells on me, he doted on me quite well, he trained me yes but he never hurt me” she said

"Your memories show him keeping you underwater until you nearly pass out," he said, "or hurt others to make you fall in line. That is not doting. That is conditioning. You would not have reacted nearly so obedient if he hurt you, but you did not wish to feel others hurt because of you. Xavier was a monster without equal. He used you as an experiment, to see if he could make a Carpathian from a human through magic, and he felt he failed but you had your uses. He manipulated you, Elena. Xavier only cared about himself. I think you know this, but do not wish to see it." He sighed. "I will ask your brother. I need to know how to return your true emotions to you."

“I don’t remember ever having any, father said I was not meant to feel but to control.he said emotions would keep me from doing what I needed to do.” She said in a low tone “I’m sorry”

"Your father was a liar and monster!" Michael snapped. "I will find the truth! Xavier cannot hide from his best student!" He went to go outside but stopped at the door. "After all, it was I who created the damned spell that takes emotions away. I know it's effects."

With that, he walked out, slamming the door and warding it so that she could not leave.

It had been at least an hour since he had been gone, Elena sat on the bed, she still had not moved from when he had left. Something harsh hit her nose that made her cough, was that smoke? It grew stronger and then she heard commotion outside “fire! Everyone out!” Someone yelled. She got up and tried to open the door but it would not budge. She started to feel the heat in the floor, when she went to grab the door handle again it burned her. She felt her way to the bathroom and laid down in the tub, she turned the shower on and stride to take small steady breaths as the room filled with smoke and flames

Michael returned from feeding and saw the house ablaze. He quickly took down the ward and burst through the door.

"Elena!" he called out, materializing a cloth for his face. "Where are you?!"

There was no answer and the room was in flames. He knew it would not be long until it collapse

He pushed the table over and opened the trap door to the basement. He didn't know if she knew it was there, but he had to look and get clean air in his lungs. The cloth felt like it had no effect on the thick smoke. However, all he found was that bits of timber were dropping into the room and no Elena.

Elena, talk to me! he said in his mind, knowing she would hear if she were close. Tell me where you are.

I'm in the bathroom but you can't open the door, if you do the air will cause the bathroom to explode, I'll be ok you need to leave

Elena, if you die, so do I, he said. I need you, and I will not leave here without you. I do not have to open the door to get to you. We will leave through the wall, and the blast will not get you. I am coming, cisitri, and will not leave you.

He became mist and streamed through the key hole with the smoke. He materialized and got in the shower with her.

"Let's get out of here," he said.

She held onto him, he noticed she had burns on parts if her skin where fire had leaked from above

He created a blanket and got it soaked in the water before wrapping it around her. He picked her up and, without warning her, burst through the window. She didn't get hurt but the sudden influx of oxygen caused the room to explode. His back got singed, but nothing the earth would not heal. He removed the blanket and placed Elena upwind of the fire so that the smoke would not be blowing over her. He coughed, but still tried to clear her lungs out first.

------

As they started to do the incantation Erik and her felt like they were being shocked by electricity after each verse. When they finished it a energy blasted through the room shaking the walls and knocking things over. The images that played rapidly through their heads were of Ana carving into her skin with a runed blade. They knew it was made of silver. Slowly Ana’s form started to change. She grew thinner. To the point every bone in her body could be seen. Her skin was covered from her neck to her feet in scars. But they were not just scars but words, her left leg was covered in the spell to stop the forest nymphs, her right leg named every person that was in Ragnar home and the location of his home and safe houses that she had discovered. Her right arm was covered in powerful runes, each one naming what it did. Some for healing others for warding, one was even for child, to help the mothers during labor, her left arm was covered with important notes that would lead them to not one but three master vampires who had been long sought after and hunted for years but with no success. Her stomach was covered the old language, telling of the location where Xavier’s hidden library was. Her back was the worse and had the deepest cuts, on her back where the names of people who had died that she could not save and those she felt she had wronged. Erik name was on her skin on that list “I will forever carry them with me and the burdens I have placed upon them. May their sins befall me in this life so that they may be reborn again” it said in the ancient writing at the beginning of the list

Xaviera took Caldwells hand. Antony wanted to hold Anastasia to him. Erik didn't know if the woman in front of them, healthy and scared, was the image they were really seeing.

"I have been trying to find a spell to stop the nymphs since Caldwell .... found me," Xaviera said. "She has it here, and I can begin preparations. The spell even had the names of the four women who would be needed to stop them." She looked at Caldwell. "If we can go to one of the houses, maybe we can learn who woke me up. If it was this mage she found information on, then maybe... maybe I was used in my weakened state and pushed towards being evil." She looked at Antony. "I will take responsibility for my actions. After a time, if I had been manipulated, I was making a conscious choice to do those things. I feel ashamed of what I did, and know nothing I say or do will be good enough, even if I managed to earn forgiveness."

Ana moved slightly and it became very clear that the shelled scared woman in front of them was really her. She had to only weight about eighty pounds at this point. She was more then anorexic she was dying. Erik now knew why she never fought against the torture. She had no strength too, there was barely any muscle left on her “since no one is speaking I will...” said Caldwell “one how is this woman even alive, to scar as a Carpathian is hard to do in the first place but to this existent....and two to survive as long as she did with what we saw in that room in this condition...it does not make sense” he said not hiding how disturbed he was though his voice did snap Erik and Anthony out of their shocked state

Antony gently held Anastasia to him. Erik set about trying to get the scars to heal, and be less visible. Several healers walked in with bottles. Xaviera and Caldwell were pushed aside for them to work.

"Bottles won't help," Erik said. "She needs fresh blood, and a lot of it."

"She can't feed properly," Antony said. "You ripped out her teeth."

"I can fix that. But the bottles will not help her if she can't get enough nutrients."

"Then let's get going."

Erik took the teeth that had been kept and placed them gently in their sockets. He became healing light as a second healer held them in place. When her teeth were replaced, a difficult task since the healing process had begun, he returned to his body.

"Who gives first?" Erik asked.

"I will," said Xaviera.

"No," said Antony.

"Everyone else in this room has a job to do that requires their entire strength," Xaviera said. "At least this way, you can say I can always be checked on if things go wrong."

She sat down next to Anastasia and put her wrist to her mouth. Anastasia was so weak that she couldn't feed properly, so Xaviera made her bite down. It hurt, but it was to help someone else, so she stayed there. After a moment, Anastasia began feeding on her own. Then, Xaviera became weaker, starting to sway, but she refused to move or take her wrist away from the injured woman. Caldwell was forced to take Xaviera to a different room to replenish as Xaviera's heart had begun to beat erratically.

Ana suddenly threw up every drop of blood xaveria had given her and she curled up on her side curse you Ana what have you done now! rivers voice said “who are you?” Ana said out loud youll die like this you know, you don’t have the fight in you anymore to live, I feel that Ana groaned “what’s wrong with dying....it hurts...” she said in a weak tone the pain was worth it before, the reason is still there you have just forgotten it “what could possibly worth this much pain?” She said weakly you want me to show you?

“Prince who is she talking to?” A healer asked as he lit the candles

Antony shook his head, tears falling. Hope was leaving him. He didn't know what to do or say. Erik said, "We don't know. Antony, you need to calm down and look in her mind, find the path back, and find who she is talking to."

Antony looked at Erik. There seemed to be nothing there, his whole focus on Anastasia. Erik put his hand on Antony's shoulder.

"I know it hurts seeing her like this," he said. "It hurts knowing I hurt her so deeply. Talk to her of her past, of the great things she has done and will do."

Antony nodded and began to tell her of the things she did. Erik began to enter he mind to find out who was talking to her. It was difficult. He felt pain shoot through him when she threw up, knowing he helped bring her to that end. If he had been in more control, not let his fear take over, she wouldn't be so bad. If he had been a man, she would not be in the state she was in.

“ what will happen if you show me?” She said in a tired tone that will be up to you to decide, but you did make me promise if you were going to die to take action, and then we will be even and owe each other nothing, so welcome back....Anastasia River said and Ana screamed like someone was killing her as her head felt like it was being torn to shreds. River was unable to fix what had been done but she could replace what had been lost temporarily. Ana had shown her her memories and told her if she ever forgot and was about to die to replay them for her. Though some of the memories lacked the emotions tied to them it was enough to bring back what she had lost even if it was temporary. With a growl Ana stood up “out! Everyone out but my mate and Erik!” She said in a demanding voice hurry up Ana I can’t hold this for long

Everyone quickly left. Erik looked at her, shocked. He hadn't had time to even look. Antony wanted to weep at having her back.

"Anastasia," he chanted, almost like it would keep her memories to her.

"How?" asked Erik breathlessly.

“I don’t have time to answer your questions my memories will not stay for long” she said covering herself with a sheet “since I can see the scars I’m sure you can too, I have given everything I can to help you now you need to help yourselves, I don’t know what I will become when my memories fade again but I will say this I can already tell I am going to be in pain for the rest of my life, don’t let it be in vain, you two are strongest together not apart and you need each other” she said then looked at Anthony “I didn’t feed from anyone, I refused to have this child be anyone’s blood but yours, so make sure by the time that I bring him into this world that you are the man you want to be” she said then looked at erik “I am not mad at you erik and there is nothing to forgive, if anyone needs forgiveness it’s me, I put you through worse pain then the silver I feel in my bones now, losing a lifemate...I am sorry” she said in a sincere tone “you need to find the doll he is locked in, I fear one of his minions has already hidden it, the runes on my arms are the ones I thought would benefit you all the most in your search “ she said as she started to sway hurry Ana shook her head “keep me asleep...don’t trust me by myself when I’m awake, I want to end the pain” she said looking like she was in pain “Erik.....Elena....he was searching for Elena as well but not for him...for someone else...he wanted rivers child...a body to grow in...the rune on my wrist...protects from possession...the hunters...use it, it will warn them if someone is trying to influence their mind or body” she said gripping her head and falling to her knees

"Please, tell us how to help the pain lessen and how to get your memories back," Antony nearly begged. "I love you, and do not wish to see you in pain any more. Please."

"I will relay the message and the runes," Erik said. "I will protect our people as you would. That is a promise."

“There are two ways I read...hero silver or I die and be brought back...but I would have to stay dead long enough for my sound to leave my body but not be lost” she said in a strained voice “like a reset button if you will and as for the pain...it’s nothing compared to....to” she didn’t get to finish before she cried out and her mind went blank once more. She curled up on the floor shaking and whimpering

"Hero Silver..." Erik said. "One of the rarest silvers in the world. That would come from someone who had given their life and soul to save others. I don't know where we can get some, considering that all the silver is now out of Anastasia's body. With it having her essence in it, it would work best."

"We will find some if it is the last thing we do," Antony said. "Anastasia, I'm going to put you to sleep. You won't be in pain anymore and you will heal. We have things we have to do, but until then, I need you to rest, okay?"

He didn't wait. He put her to sleep and put her in the ground. He had some guards on the room to ensure he knew if she rose. He and Erik walked to the Hall of Warriors for the trial.

"Bring Caldwell and Xaviera here," he informed some of the hunters. "It is time we settle this matter. I will call upon the ancestors to aid us in this decision."

"What decision?" asked an ancient hunter. "She is our enemy and we bring justice to our enemies."

"She is Caldwell's lifemate, and so this is the cause of the trial," said Antony as six of his strongest went to fetch the weakened woman and her lifemate. "I believe Suzi is needed here."

Dante watched as his lifemate walked in from a different entrance, farthest from him. She still had the bags tied to her waist.

"Hey, sis," said Antony as he performed the ritual to call upon the ancestors. "After the trial, Erik will be replaced as my second. For a moment, Anastasia's memories returned, but they are gone again. She asked that Erik and I work together again, and I will honor that."

"It will take time to earn his trust back," Erik said, "but she is right. He and I are stronger together. Thank you for keeping our people from falling into chaos in my absence, before and after I was stripped of my title."

She looked at them both and threw the bag on the table between them “I said that from the beginning yet you didn’t listen, what use is it to even speak when no one listens” she said with a growl, it was then they noticed she had blood on her and they could see a few deep scratches behind her clothes

"What the hell happened to you?" asked Antony, shocked.

"Let me heal you before the trial begins," Erik said.

Dante went to her and said, "You should have called to me. I would have helped."

"back off you stubborn males! I wait for the day the ancestors bless us with a female prince maybe then things will be more sensible!" she said moving away from them "lets get this trial over with before I kill someone" she said with a growl

Erik sighed, Dante smiled, and Antony said, "Fine, but know that some of the hunters here have yet to feed, so I wouldn't go too long without healing."

"I will be next to her to keep them off of her," Dante promised.

"if the hunters need to feed let them I am not that wounded I can spare" she said in a sincere tone "Dante help them with the trail I'll go aid the hunters and they can close the wounds while they are at it"

"Like hell!" Dante said with a growl.

"Suzi, I suspect that you have evidence in that bag or you would not have brought it," said Erik. "We need you here."

"The trial will not take long," said Antony. "Many of the ones who have not fed are young and can wait. The few that aren't are here to support Caldwell and protect him should things get out of hand." He looked at the pillars along the back wall. "Everyone, the four ancestors who will preside over this trial have appeared!" The four pillars showed blurry images before four figures appeared, Mikhail, Raven, Gregori, and Savannah. "Thank you for coming."

"It is a pleasure to see how our people have grown," said Mikhail, "though I still sense that you are uncertain about things."

Antony smiled at his grandfather. Erik could not look Gregori in the eye.

"Erik," Gregori said, "what did you do this time?"

"I have... dishonored myself," he said.

"I see," said Gregori, looking at Savannah. "You know, there are times where the protection of others and the law do not align. I have broken laws myself, as many of you here know. Yet, because of what I learned, I became a better man and better protector of our people. If what you did will help you be a better second to Antony, then it was worth it in the end. We will talk after the trial, and then, we will discuss how to grow from your shame."

Erik nodded just as the signal came that Xaviera was coming.

when she appeared she was not alone, Anya was the one escorting her When she walked in the way she held herself drew attention. Young hunters there had only heard stories of her. To see her was different, she held herself with the same air as gregori did. But on the other side of Xaveria was Alexander, He looked just like Mikhail. Side by side they both held the dominance in the room. Even Anthony could not deny it or Erik. They were shadows compared to their parents

Antony looked down and Erik seemed to shrink. Xaviera went to go comfort them, but Anya's arm stopped her.

"Anya, you have a certain air about you I just can't place," Gregori said with a teasing smile. "It reminds me of someone. I believe he was amazing at everything he did."

Mikhail looked at his son and said, "You look tired. How is Liliana?"

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