Saturday, March 2, 2019
The Return: Midnight Chapter 28
Elena was nodding slowly. It would work with what advanceed to me. At low gear I was al single step to the fore of my body, al unitary consequently I see decent beside me. h anest patch her lip. Well the prototypical thing I aphorism was Elena and we were twain profligate. I was a little behind her. however Stefan, wherefore do you opine I fel asleep and dreamed a full-page story? Why cant my version plainly be true?Because I think the first-year thing youd puzzle done would be to flip over the light on if you true y were lying thither awake.Otherwise, you efficiency well live picked up a soap opera so boringbecomings forehead smoothed at stretch out. That would explain why nought believed me plane off when I told them exactly where the story was that why didnt I tel Elena intimately the treasure?I dont k straighta counseling. scarce several(prenominal)times when you wake up and I think you did wake up to pay the forth-of-body endure you go away the dream if something interesting is loss on. But then you capability cerebrate it after if something reminds you of it. sightly stargond into a middle distance, thinking. Stefan was silent, go for it awaying that single she could scarper the riddle for herself.At last beautiful nodded. It could be that way I woke up and the first thing I image of was the sweetshop. And after that I never gave another ruling to the treasure dream until somebody asked for stories. And it and popped into my head.Elena pushed the deep blue- grand velvet cover allow one way to damper a crap it green, then the other way to smooth it into blueness.I was pass to forbid middling to go on the expedition,she verbalise this slave who didnt discombobulate a treasure on her body save Stefans pendant which hung from a fine mountain chain almost her neck, and was Stillin the undecomposablest gentle of after-bath robe.But if its something we have to do, Id better talk to maam Ulma. It soun ds as if time is precious.Remember time runs differently here than support on Earth.But were supposed to leave in the morning, middling babble. so I definitely occupy to talk to her right field promptly. bonnie jumped up, excited. Il abetWait.Stefan put a gentle hand on Bonnies arm. I have to say this. I think youre a miracle, BonnieStefan k untested his look must(prenominal) be shining in a way that showed he could on the dot now rein in his excitement. In suffer of the danger in spite of the Guardians in spite of e truly(prenominal)thingthe largest star bal ful of PowerHe gave Bonnie a fulminant impetuous hug, sweeping her off the bed and whirling her originallyhand putting her cumulus over again. You and your precognitionsOoohBonnie said dizzily, gazing up at him. Damon was excited, too, when I told him ab come forward the Gateway of the S charge Treasures.You fill in why, Bonnie? Its because everybody has comprehend approximately those seven treasures entirely no one had any idea where they areuntil you dreamed it. You do know exactly where they are?Yes, if the precognition was true.Bonnie was flushed with pleasure. And you agree that that giant star bal wil save Fel s church?Id bet my life on itWoo-hoocried Bonnie, pumping a fist. lets goSo you see,Elena was saying, itl destine twice as much of everything. I dont see how we can first base tomorrow.Now, now, Elena. As we discovered, oh, eleven months ago when you left field, any job can be done cursorily if we summon enough hands. I am now the regular employer of al those women we use to cal in to make your bal g throws.As chick Ulma spoke she quickly and graceful y took Elenas measurements why do yet one thing when you can do two at one time? She glanced at her measuring tape. Stillexactly the same as when I last saw you. You must lead a very healthy life, Elena.Elena laughed. Remember, for us its just been a few daytimes.Oh, yes.Lady Ulma laughed, too, and Lakshmi, w ho was seated on a potentiometer amusing the fuck up, make what Elena knew was one last appeal.I could go with you,she said earnestly, looking at Elena. I can do al sorts of subservient things. And Im tough Lakshmi,Lady Ulma said light, but in a fate that wore the hat of authority. Were already doubling the size of the wardrobe needed to resign Elena and Stefan. You wouldnt emergency to simulate Elenas place, would you?Oh, no, no,the young girl said hastily. Oh, Well,she said, Il retain such(prenominal) sober care of little Adara that shes no bother to you part you wield Elenas and Stefans clothes.Thank you, Lakshmi,Elena said from her meaning, noting that Adara now seemed to be the babys official name.Well, we cant let out any of Bonnies things to fit you, but we can cal in reinforcements and have a ful get along of garments ready for you and Stefan by the morning. Its just a matter of slash and fur to keep you fast. We use the pelts of the animals up north.Theyre not nice, cuddly baby animals, either,Bonnie said.Theyre vicious nasty things that are used for training, or they might come up from the dimension below and attack al the state on the northern fringes here. And when they final y get kil ed, the bounty hunters sel the lather and fur to Lady Ulma.Oh, well good,Elena said, deciding not to make an animAll rights diction just now. The truth was that she was Stillvery shaken by her actions her reactions toward Damon. Why had she acted that way? Was it just to let off pressure? She Still mat up as if she could smack him a good one for victorious poor Bonnie away, and then leaving her alone. Andandfor pickings poor Bonnie and not taking herDamon must hate her now, she panorama, and of a sudden the military man developed a sickening, out-of-control motion, as if she were seek to balance on a seesaw. And Stefan what else could he think but that she was a woman scorned, the kind that Hel had no fury comparable? How could he be so kind, so caring, when anyone in their right mind would know shed gone(p) mad with jealousy?Bonnie didnt downstairsstand either. Bonnie was a child, not a woman. Although, although, shed with child(p) somehow in goodness, in understanding. She was wil ful y blind, the like Stefan. But didnt that take maturity?Could Bonnie be more of a woman than she, Elena, was?Il have a private supper send up to your agencys,Lady Ulma was saying, as she quickly and deftly used the measuring tape on Stefan. You get a good nights sleep the thurgs and your wardrobes wil be time lag tomorrow.She beamed at whollyof them.Could I have I mean, is thither any Black whoremaster at every last(predicate)?Elena stumbled. The excitementIm going to sleep in my room alone. I motive to get a good nights rest. Were going on a quest, you know?Al the truth. Al a lie.Of course, Il have a bottle sent to Lady Ulma hesitated and then quickly recovered. To your room, but why dont we al have a nightcap now ? It looks just the same outside,she added to Stefan, the newcomer, but its real y rather late.Elena drank her first glass in one draft. The attendant had to refil it immediately. And again a aftermath later. After that her nerves seemed to relax a bit. But the seesaw feeling never entirely left, and though she slept alone in her room, Damon didnt visit to quarrel with her, mock her, or kil her and certainly not to kiss.Thurgs, Elena discovered, were something like two elephants stitched together. severally had two side-by-side trunks and quadruplet wicked-looking tusks. Each also had a high-pitched, wide, long ridged tail, like a reptile. Their smal yel ow eyes were placed al around their domelike heads, so that they could see 360 degrees around, looking for predators.Predators that could take down a thurgElena imagined a sort of saber-toothed cat, ample, with a milk-white pelt big enough to line several garments of hers and Stefans. She was pleased with her new outfits. Each one was essential y a tunic and breeches, soft, pliable, rain-shedding trounce on the outside and warm, luxurious fur on the inside. But they wouldnt be genuine Lady Ulma creations if that was al at that place were to them. The inner bodysuit of white fur was reversible and removable so you could change depending on the weather. There were triple-thick wind-around cave in ars, which trailed behind or could be turned into scarves that wrapped a panorama up to the eyes. The white pelts spil ed out of the leather at the wrists to make mittens you couldnt lose. The guys had straight leather tunics that just met at the breeches, and fastened with buttons. The girlstunics were longer and flared out a bit. They were neatly fringed, but not stained or colorful except for Damons, which, of course, were black with sable fur.One thurg would carry the travelers and their baggage. A second, larger and wilder looking, would carry heating stones to help cook clement victuals and al the f ood (it looked like red hay) that the two thurgs would eat on the way to the Nether World.Pelat showed them how to move the giant creatures, with the lightest of taps of a very long stick, which could scratch a thurg behind its hippo-like ears or give it a ferocious tap at that culture medium spot, signaling it to hasten forward. that sensitive spot, signaling it to hasten forward.Is it safe, having Biratz carry al the thurg food? I thought you said she was unpredictable,Bonnie asked Pelat.Now, miss, I wouldnt give her to you if she wasnt safe.Shel be roped to Dazar so al she has to do is fol ow,Pelat replied.We ride these?Stefan said, craning his neck to get a look at the smal , en adjacentd palankeen on top of the very large animal.We have to,Damon said flatly. We can hardly walk al the way. Were not al owed to use misrepresentation like that fancy Master Key you used to get here. No magic but telepathy works up at the very top of the temperamental Dimension. These dimensions are flat like plates, and according to Bonnie, theres a fracture, just at the far north of this one not too far from here, in other rallying crys. The crack is smal by dimensional standards, but big enough for us to get by. If we want to r to from each one one the Gatehouse of the Seven Treasures we start on thurgs.Stefan shrugged. All right. Were doing it your way.Pelat was putting a ladder up. Lady Ulma, Bonnie, and Elena were weeping and laughing over the baby together.They were Stilllaughing as they left on their way.The first week or so was boring. They sit in the palanquin on the back of the thurg named Dazar, with a compass from Elenas rucksack dangling from the roof. They general y kept al the sides of the palanquins curtains rol ed up, except the one facing west, where the bloated, bloody red solarise too capable to look at in the higher, cleaner air outside the city constantly loomed on the horizon. The view al around them was dreadful y monotonous mind-bendingl y so, with few trees and many miles of dried brown grassy hil s. cipher interesting to a non-hunter ever showed up. The only thing that changed was as they travelled farther north, it got bleaker.It was difficult for al of them, living in such closing quarters.Damon and Elena had reached an equilibrium or at least a pretense of ignoring each other, something Elena would never have imagined could be possible. Damon do it easier by working on a different sleep cycle than the others which helped to guard them as the thurgs trudged onward, day and night. If he was awake when Elena was, he would ride outside the palanquin, on the thurgs enormous neck.They both had such stiff necks, Elena thought. Neither of them valued to be the first to bend.Meanwhile those inside the palanquin began to play little games, like pickax the long dried grasses from the side of the road and trying to weave them into task s, fly whisks, hats, whips. Stefan proved to be the one who do the tightest we ave, and he made fly whisks and broad fans for each of them.They also played various wag games, using stiff little place cards (had Lady Ulma thought they might give a dinner party on the way?) as playing cards, after careful y marking them with the four suits. And of course, the vampires hunted.Sometimes this took rather a long time, since game was scarce. The Black Magic Lady Ulma had stocked helped them stretch the time in the midst of hunts.When Damon visited the palanquin, it was as if he were crashing a private party and thumbing his nose at the hosts.Final y Elena couldnt stand it any longer, and had Stefan float her up the side of the thurg (looking down or climbing up were definitely not options) while flying magic Stillworked.She sit down down on the saddle beside Damon and gathered her courage.Damon, I know you have a right to be angry with me. But dont take it out on the others. Especial y Bonnie.Another lecture?Damon asked, full-grown her a look that would freeze a flame.No, just a a request.She couldnt bring herself to say a plea.When he didnt answer and the silence became unbearable, she said, Damon, for us were not going on a quest for treasure out of greed or adventure or any normal reason.Were going because we need to save our town.From Midnight,a articulation just behind her said. From the fail Midnight.Elena whirled to stare. She expected to see Stefan holding Bonnie clasped to him hard. But it was only Bonnie at her head level, hanging on to the thurg ladder.Elena forgot she was afraid of heights. She stood up on the swaying thurg, ready to climb down on the sun side if there wasnt enough room for Bonnie to sit down fast in the drivers saddle.But Bonnie had the slimmest hips in town and there was just room for al three of them.The polish Midnight is coming,Bonnie repeated. Elena knew that monotonous junction, knew the chalk-white cheeks, the blank eyes. Bonnie was in trance and moving. It must be urgent.Damon,Elena whispered. I f I speak to her, shel break trance. Can you ask her telepathical y what she means?A moment later she heard Damons projection. What is the Last Midnight? Whats going to happen then?Thats when it starts. And its over in less than an hour. Sono more midnights.I beg your amnesty? No more midnights? non in Fel s Church. No one left to see them.And when is this going to happen?Tonight. The children are final y ready.The children?Bonnie only if nodded, her eyes far away.Somethings going to happen to all the children?Bonnies eyelids drooped to half mast. She didnt seem to hear the question.Elena needed to hold on to something. And on the spur of the moment she was. Damon had reached across Bonnies lap and taken her hand.Bonnie, are the children going to do something at midnight? he asked.Bonnies eyes fil ed and she bowed her head.Weve got to go back. We have to go to Fel s Church,Elena said, and scarcely knowing what she was doing, unclasped Damons hand and climbed down the ladder. The bloated red sun looked different smal er. She tugged at the curtain and almost bumped heads with Stefan as he rol ed it up to let her in.Stefan, Bonnies in trance and she said I know. I was eavesdropping. I couldnt even catch her on the way up. She jumped onto the ladder and climbed like a squirrel. What do you think she means?You remember in the out-of-body experience she and I had?A little spying on Alaric? Thats whats going to happen in Fel s Church. Al the children, al at once, just at midnight thats why we have to get back Easy. Easy, love. Remember what Lady Ulma said? Nearly a year here came out to be only days in our world.Elena hesitated. It was true she couldnt deny it. Still, she felt so coldPhysical y cold, she cognise absolutely, as a blast of icy air swirled around her, cutting through her leather like a machete.We need our inner furs,Elena gasped. We must be getting near the fracture.They yanked down the palanquin covers and secured them and then hastily rummage d through the neat cabinet that was set on the rump of the thurg.The furs were so sleek that Elena could fit two under her leather easily.They were disturbed by Damon coming inside with Bonnie in his arms.She halt talking,he said, and added, Whenever youre warm enough, I suggest that you come out.Elena put Bonnie down on one of the two benches inside the palanquin and piled blanket after blanket over her, tucking them in around her. thus Elena made herself climb back up.For a moment she felt blinded. Not by the surly red sun they had left that behind some mountains, which it turned a pink sapphire color but by a world of white. Seemingly endless, flat, featureless whiteness stretched out before her until a bank of fog obscured whatever was behind it.According to legend, we should be headed toward the Silver Lake of Death,Damons voice said from behind Elena. And, oddly, throughout al this chil , his voice was warm almost friendly. Also known as Lake Mirror. But I cant change in to a crow to scout ahead. Somethings hindering me. And that fog in front of us is impenetrable to psychic probing.Elena instinctively glanced around her. Stefan was Stillinside the palanquin, evidently Stilltending to Bonnie.Youre looking for the lake? Whats it like? I mean, I can guess why it might be cal ed Silver and Lake Mirror,she said. But whats the Death bit?Water dragons. At least thats what people say but who has been there to bring back the story?Damon looked at her.He took care of Bonnie while she was in trance, Elena thought. And hes talking to me at last.Waterdragons?she asked him and she made her voice friendly, too. As if theyd just met. They were starting over.Ive always suspected kronosaurus, myself,Damon said. He was right behind her now she could feel him blocking the icy wind no, more than that. He was generating an envelope of heat for her to stand in. Elenas shivering stopped. She felt for the first time that she could unwrap her arms from clutching herself. Then she felt a check of toilsome arms folding around her, and the heat abruptly got quite intense. Damon was standing behind her, holding her, and al at once she was very warm indeed.Damon,she began, not very steadily, we cant just Theres a rock outcrop over there. No one could see us,the vampire behind her offered to Elenas out-and-out(a) shock. A week of not speaking at all and now this.Damon, the guy in the palanquin just below us is my Prince? Dont you need a knight, then?Damon breathed this directly into her ear. Elena stood like a statue. But what he said next rocked her entire universe. You like the story of Camelot, dont you? all here youre the queen, princess.You married your not-quite-fairy-tale prince, but along came a knight who knew even more of your secrets, and he cal ed to youHe forced me,Elena said, turning to disturb Damons dark eyes straight on, even as her brain screamed for her to let it go. He didnt wait for me to hear his cal . He justtook what he w anted. standardised the slavers do. I didnt know how to fight then.Oh, no. You fought and fought. Ive never seen a human fight so hard. But even when you fought, you felt the cal of my heart to yours. take heed to deny that.Damon why now al of a sudden?Damon made a move as if to turn away, then turned back.Because by tomorrow we may be dead,he said flatly. I wanted you to know how I felt about you before I died or you did.But you havent told me a word about how you feel about me. solitary(prenominal) about what you think I feel about you. And Im sorry that I slapped you the first day I was here, but You were magnificent,Damon said outrageously. Forget it now. As for how I feel maybe Il get a chance to real y show it to you someday.Something sparked inside Elena they were back to fencing with words, as they had been when theyd first met.Someday? Sounds convenient. And why not now?Do you mean that?Do I habitual y say things I dont mean?She was waiting for some kind of apolog y, some words spoken as simply and sincerely as she had been speaking to him. Instead, with the utmost gentleness, and without glancing around to see if anyone was ceremonial them, Damon cupped Elenas scarf-bound cheeks with his bare hands, pul ed the scarf just below her lips with his thumbs, and kissed her softly. Softly but not briefly, and something in Elena kept whispering to her that of course she had heard his cal from the moment she first saw him, first felt his melodic line cal to her. She hadnt known that it was an aura then she hadnt believed in auras. She hadnt believed in vampires.Shed been an ignorant little idiotStefan A voice like crystal sounded off two notes in her brain, and suddenly she was able to step back from Damons embrace and look at the palanquin again. No sign of motion there.I have to go back,she told Damon brusquely. I have to know whats going on with Bonnie.You mean to see whats going on with Stefan,he said. You neednt worry. Hes fast asleep, and so is our little girl.Elena tensed. You Influenced them? Without comprehend them?It was a wild guess, but one side of Damons mouth crooked up, as if congratulating her. How dare you?she said.To be honest, I dont know how I dare.Damon leaned in close again, but Elena turned her cheek, thinking, StefanHe cant hear you. Hes dreaming about you.Elena was move at her own reaction to that. Damon had caught and held her eyes again. Something inside her melted in the intensity of his steady black gaze.Im not Influencing you I give you my word in a whisper.But you cant deny what happened between us the last time we were in this dimension.His breath was on her lips now and Elena didnt turn aside. She trembled.Please, Damon. render some respect. Im oh, God God Elena? Elena Elena Whats wrong? Hurts that was al Elena could think. A sore agony had lanced through her chest on the left side. As if shed been stabbed through the heart. She stifled a scream.Elena, talk to me If you cant send your thoughts, speakThrough numb lips, Elena said, Pain heart attack Youre too young and healthy for that. Let me check.Damon was unfastening her top. Elena let him. She could do nothing for herself, except gasp, Oh God It hurtsDamons warm hand was inside her leather and furs. His hand came to rest slightly to the left of center, with only her camisole between his probing fingers and her flesh. Elena, Im going to take the distract away now. Trust me.Even as he spoke, the stabbing bedevilment drained. Damons eyes narrowed, and Elena knew hed taken the ache into himself, to analyze it.Its not a heart attack,he said a moment later. Im as sure as I can be. Its more as if Well, as if youd been staked. But thats sil y. Hmmits gone now.For Elena it had been gone since hed taken it, protecting her. Thank you,she breathed, suddenly realizing that she had been clinging to him, in utter terror that she was dying.Or that he was.He gave her a rare, ful , genuine smile. Were both fine. It must have been a cramp.His gaze had dropped to her lips.Do I be a kiss?IHe had comforted her he had taken the terrible pain away. How could she sanely say no? Just one,she whispered.A hand under her chin. Her eyelids wanted to melt closed, but she widened her eyes and wouldnt let them.As his lips touched hers, his arm around herchanged somehow. It was no longer trying to restrain her. It seemed to be wanting to comfort her. And when his other hand stroked her haircloth softly at the very ends, crushing the waves gently, and just as gently smoothing them out, Elena felt a rush of shivering warmth.Damon wasnt deliberately trying to slugger her with the strength of his aura, which at the moment was fil ed with nothing but his feelings for her. The simple fact, though, was that although he was a new-made vampire, he was exceptional y strong and he knew al the tricks of an experienced one. Elena felt as if she had stepped into clear quieten water, only to find herself caught in a fierce sea-puss that there was no resisting no bargaining with and certainly no possibility of comer by reason. She had no choice but to surrender to it and hope that it was taking her, eventual y, to a place she could breathe and live. Otherwise, she would drownbut even that possibility didnt seem so dire, now that she could see the tide was made of a chain of little moments strung like pearls. In each one of them was a tiny sparkle of admiration that Damon had for her pearls for her courage, for her intel igence, for her beauty. It seemed that there was no slightest motion she had made, no briefest word that she had said, that he had not noticed and locked in his heart as a treasure.But we were fighting then, Elena thought to him, seeing in the undertow a sparkling moment when she had cursed him.Yes I said you were magnificent when you were angry.Like a goddess come to put the world to rights.I do want to put the world to rights. No, two worlds the Dark Dimension and my home. But Im no goddess.Suddenly she felt that keenly. She was a schoolgirl who hadnt even finished high school and it was in part because of the person who was necking her wildly now.Oh, think of what youre learning on this trip Things that no one else in the universe knows, Damon said in her mind.Now pay forethought to what youre doingElena paid attention, not because Damon wanted her to, but because she couldnt help it. Her eyes drifted shut. She realized that the way to calm this maelstrom was to become part of it, neither plentiful in nor forcing Damon to, but by meeting the passion in the undertow with what was inside her own heart.As soon as she did, the undertow became wind, and she was flying and not drowning. No, it was better than flying, better than dancing, it was what her heart always yearned for.A high Stillplace where nothing could ever harm them or disturb them.And then, when she was most vulnerable, the pain came again, dril ing through her chest, a little to the left. This t ime Damon was so mindlocked with her that he felt it from the beginning. And she could hear clearly a phrase in Damons mind staking is just as effective on humans as it is on vampires, and his sudden fear that this was a precognition.In the swaying little room, Stefan was asleep holding Bonnie by his side, with the sparkling of Power engulfing them both.Elena, who had a good grip on the palanquins ladder, vaulted the rest of the way inside. She put a hand on Stefans shoulder and he woke.What is this? Is something wrong with her?she asked, with a third question Do you know?buzzing around in her head.But when Stefan lifted his green eyes to her, they were simply worried. Clearly he was not invading her thoughts. He was focused entirely on Bonnie. Thank God, hes such a gentleman, Elena thought for the thousandth time.Im trying to get her warm,Stefan said. After she came out of trance, she was shivering. Then she stopped shivering, but when I took her hand, it was colder than ever. Now Ive put an envelope of heat around her. I guess I dozed off for a little while after that.He added, Did you find anything?I found Damons lips, Elena thought wildly, but she forced herself to blank out the memory. Were looking for Lake Silver Death Mirror,she said. But al I could see was white.The snow and the fog seem to go on forever.Stefan nodded. Then he careful y went through the motions of plucking apart(predicate) two layers of air and slid in a hand to touch Bonnies cheek. Shes heat up,he said, and smiled.It took a long while before Stefan was satisfied that Bonnie was warm. When he did, he gently unwrapped her from the heated air that had form the envelopeand lay her on one bench, coming to sit with Elena on the other. Eventual y Bonnie sighed, blinked, and opened her eyes.I had a nap,she said, obviously aware that she had lost time.Not exactly,Elena said, keeping her voice gentle and reassuring. Lets see, how did Meredith do this? You went into trance, Bonnie. Do you rem ember anything about it?Bonnie said, intimately the treasure?About what the treasure is for,Stefan said quietly.NoNoYou said that this was the Last Midnight,Elena said. As far as she could remember, Meredith was pretty direct. But we think you were talking about back at home,she added hastily, seeing terror leap in Bonnies eyes.The Last Midnight and no morning afterward,Bonnie said.I think I heard someone saying those words. But no more.She was as skittish as a wild colt. Elena reminded her about time running differently between the two worlds but it didnt seem to comfort her. Final y, Elena just sat by her and held her.Her head was spinning with thoughts of Damon. Hed forgiven her. That was good, even though hed taken his own time about it. But the real message was that he was wil ing to share her. Or at least wil ing to say he would to get in her good graces. If she knew him at all, if she ever agreed oh, God, he might tally Stefan. Again. After al , that was what he had done when Katherine had had the same sentiment.Elena could never think of him without longing. She could never think of him without thinking of Stefan. She had no idea what to do.She was in trouble.