Chapter 7

Part 24

Raven found a cave at the head of the mountains where Cinda could stay and be safe. The two rode in and found a deep cavern. “You’ll be safe here. This part of the journey I must make alone. Peck says this cave is safe.” Raven said. “It is holy sanctuary. It is said that here spirits of the dead live. But unlike the woods, which were full of condemned souls, this cave houses the spirits of innocent mothers who died giving birth here. They are guardians of those who seek protection from the forces of evil. This is one place Drake dare not enter. You and Darshon will be safe until Raven returns.” Peck replied. Cinda clutched her arms feeling cold. “Be careful.” She said with concern. “Don’t worry about me. I have no intention of dying here. Stay here until Peck and I return. Demon Hunter must carry me up the mountain, but Darshon will stay here with you to keep you safe.” Cinda nodded and watched Raven straddle Demon Hunter. He looked back at her one more time and then urged the horse out of the cave. She looked around and found a patch of moss. She spread her blanket over it and lay down. She soon drifted off to sleep. Darshon crouched beside her and curled up at her feet. Somehow, the animal sensed that Cinda was dear to Raven and would stay by her side to protect her as he did. Cinda began to toss and turn. Disturbing dreams plagued her sleep. She saw images of herself, as a vampire. She stood at a scene in her mind. There she could see herself, enticing a child to come to her. The scene looked innocent enough, and at first, the image did not scare her. But as soon as the little child came close enough, she saw herself snatch up the child and bear her fangs into its throat. She watched in horror as the child wailed in pain and flailed about like a prey caught in the jaws of a lion. No longer able to bear the display, Cinda screamed. Her dream self looked up at her and smiled coldly. “This is what you are.” The demon said running her hands over her blood spattered body. “NO! NO!”

“NO!” Cinda screamed and sprang up from where she lay. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She gasped and choked and heaved in air. “My child,” said a female voice. Cinda looked up to find the spirit of a woman floating before her. “Do not be afraid. I am Sara. You travel with my son, Raven.” The ghost said. Cinda looked on in amazement. “You are Raven’s mother?” She asked. “Yes. I died when Raven was born. I know you are like him. The vampire within you tries to influence you through your dreams. You have a kind and compassionate heart. That, like that of my son, protects you from the evil that runs in your blood. Rest now. No harm shall come to you in this place.” The apparition disappeared and left Cinda once again, alone. She lay back down and tried to sleep.

Part 25

Raven pushed Demon Hunter up the steep path of the dark mountains. The wind was cold and whipped Raven’s hair back and fourth. “We are almost there. Within another hour we will reach the hall where the sword lies. Remember Raven, you must be ready when we approach the mirror. Even one moment’s doubt could mean death. You must accept what you see in the mirror in order to conquer it. If you cannot, then the glass will cut you to shreds.” Peck said. “How can I accept the fact that part of me is a vampire? Damn Drake. When I find him, I’ll make him pay for what he did to me, and to my mother.” Raven growled. “You must take the sword for the purpose of justice, not revenge. A heart understanding the purpose of justice can obtain the sword. But a heart full of selfish revenge can never lay hands upon the hilt. You must look deep within yourself and accept your faults. It is not the blood that makes one evil. It is the choices one makes. It is not the vampire within you that is truly evil. It is when you willfully give into the lust for human blood, and the lust to kill that makes the vampire a beast.” Raven listened to Peck. The crow’s words made a lot of sense him. But there were still so many things that haunted him. The deaths of Xavia and Justin, his own mother’s death, and the boy he killed out of rage; they all haunted his memory and his heart. "It is true that you did not have the choice of who your parents would be. You did not have the choice of what would run in your blood. But what you do with what you have been given is your choice. Always remember that." Peck said.

As night fell, Drake rode to the brothel Blade spoke of. Since the women did not know that he was the father of the beast who had attacked them, he could walk in unassuming and lead them away from their place of safety. He arrived and walked into the house. This time however, the women and Cinda's mother would not be taken by surprise this time, or so they thought. "Who's there? My girls are armed if you're intending any harm towards them." She said sternly. "I can help you." Drake said with cold sincerity. "I know where you can find the beasts who killed four of your girls. I heard about the horrible slaughter. I am a vampire hunter. I can lead you to where the beasts have camped." Drake said laughing under his breath. "We have to find the beasts that killed my girls. Come on." The mistress said. "But what if this is a trap?" One girl asked. "He can lead us to where those monsters are. What if those things know where Cinda and Raven are? They could ambush them both. We have to find those monsters and destroy them." Cinda's mother replied. She opened the door and let Drake in. "Where are those bastards? They killed four of our girls. I want to find them." She said angrily. "Come with me. I will take you to these despicable monsters." Drake said with a cold smile. Not knowing what they were getting into, they unwisely followed Drake away from the village and into his trap. They followed him to where the others lay in wait for them. Cinda's mother looked around to see the camp apparently had been abandoned for some time. "They're gone." She said. The other girls looked around. "No one's here. We should go on. Maybe we can catch them." Said the mistress looking at Drake. "Where do you think they might have gone? What was your name again?"

"Drake. My name is Drake." He said smiling coldly. His fangs gleamed by the light of the moon. "He's one of them. We've been lead into a trap!" One girl screamed. Drake's followers lead by Blade came out of hiding and surrounded the women. "Take them." Drake said with an evil smile.

Peck guided Raven through the dark caverns of the mountains. He carried a torch with him to light his way. For half a day now he rode through the dark mountains, until at last, they came to the first and most crucial test to obtain the sword, the mirror. "Remember Raven, you must accept your reflection if you are to walk through the mirror. The sword lays in wait upon the other side, that is, if you make it. If you don't, then you will meet up only with death. You must go on from here alone. I have taken you to the mirror, and given you what advice I can. The rest is for you now."

Cinda's mother looked on in horror as her captor's fed upon the young women. Blade walked over to her and forced her to her feet. Her hands were tied behind her. "No, not her, not yet. I sense she is holding something in her mind that is vital to me. She said something, a name. Raven, you said that name, didn't you?" Drake said coldly. "I would rather die than to betray him. I know where he is, but I will never tell you." Cinda's mother growled. ”There is something about you. You have been with one of our kind. Yes, I can sense it. Your pathetic heart betrays you. You were intimate with a vampire, and you bore him a child, a daughter. Yes, you have a daughter who is like my son. Where is she? Does she travel with this Raven, this bastard son of mine?" He asked. The mistress looked at him and spit in his face. "Do you think I would betray my own daughter to save my own life! You can go to hell! All of you!" She shouted. "I don't like a bitch who responds with such disrespect. Blade, hold her up." Drake snarled and sank his teeth into her neck. He drained her completely, then let her bloodless corpse fall to the ground. "So, a female of both mortal and vampire blood walks the earth. I shall not have to make you a mate Blade. I need only to find the daughter of this dead whore." Drake replied. "What of my brother? He's going to be a problem." Blade asked. "Then we will take care of him. Take these dead sluts out of my sight. Go, put them somewhere." Drake said without an ounce of compassion. His followers gathered up the bodies and dragged them off.

Part 26

Raven entered the cavern where the huge mirror eerily floated in the air. It looked like a mirror one would find in a castle, but it had no base around it. Surrounding the glass was an invisible wall. Raven put his hand out and could feel something solid against the palm of his hand, but he could not see it. He looked into the reflective surface of the mirror. For a moment, he saw only his reflection then the surface began to blur. An image began to form. He could see himself as a child. He saw the image of the day he first tasted human blood; of the day he killed Gale's attacker. Then he saw himself with Cinda. "You want her. You want her blood. You want her flesh. Don't deny it." Said a demonic voice. He recognized it as his own. He turned around for a moment and found he was face to face with himself. But the Raven that stared back at him was darker than he was, and more evil. The demonic Raven looked back at his more human counterpart. It smiled fiendishly revealing a pair of gleaming white fangs. This demon had nothing human or compassionate about him. Raven was staring into the eyes of what he detested and feared most, himself. "You won't take me. I know who and what you are. You will not take me down." Raven growled at his demonic twin. "I already have." It laughed. "No. You don't rule me. I have taken human blood only once, and that was done out of anger." He snarled. "You did it out of rage. You did it because you hated that little bastard. He shot your brother. You wanted revenge. You wanted to make your brother's tormentor pay with his life." The demon sneered.

"I told you I was angry. I was a child. I didn't understand what I was doing." Raven protested. "You don't have to hide it. Your father is in your blood. This is what you are. This is what you've always been since the day you were born." Feeling his anger, the demon laughed at his attempt to hide the rage within him. "You can deny it all you want. What you see, is what you are, and what you are is a vampire in a mortal body. You can't deny the blood that gives you life. You can't deny the lust for it, or for her." Raven hissed and leapt at the demon. But since it was only a reflection, he could only do harm to his own body. "You can't kill me Raven. To kill me, would be to kill yourself. Give in to what you are. It runs in your blood. You want her, body and soul. You know it. You want to take her, then take her. The vampiric reflection hissed. "No. I hold her dear and would never do such a thing to her. I swore to protect her and protect her I shall."

"You only want to save her for yourself. She would gladly give herself to you if you demanded it. You would throw her on the ground and take her now if she were with you." Raven's anger grew more intense with every moment he tried to resist it. "No. I would never do that to her." He snarled. "Yes you would. Look, the mirror doesn't lie. Your own lusts appear before your eyes. You could go to her now. She still waits for you in the cave. Go to her. Take her." Raven shuddered at what the beast said to him, but he knew that what it said was partly true. He did want her. He wanted to be with her. "No. I love her too much to do to her what my demon sire did to my mother. The blood that runs in me was not my choice. I could not stop my mother from dying. Yes, I did take the life of Gale's attacker out of revenge. I hated him. But what did running away get me, nothing but more sorrow." Raven answered with conviction. "You would have taken the others. You have tasted human blood once. You would have wanted more. You could have taken revenge upon those who tormented you. You have power unlike they did. They were jealous of you, jealous of the power you have. They wanted to get rid of you if they could not have such power."

By this point, Raven was about ready to explode. But something inside his soul spoke to him, the words of his long lost mother. Her voice traveled through his soul, and quelled the anger within him. "No. That's where you're wrong. I knew I wasn't a threat to my foster parents. I knew better. But I was afraid. I was afraid of what they would think of me, of what the village would think of me. So I ran away. I was afraid to face persecution, and that fact has haunted me all my life. The only thing that I feared more than that was you. I feared you because I let you frighten me. You controlled me, because I let you control me. Yes, I used my vampire strength when it was the easier way out of a problem. But that isn't going to happen to me anymore. I know that there are people in the world who will fear me because I have vampire's blood in my veins. There are those people who will fear me out of ignorance, and there are people who accept me for who and what I am. Cinda accepted me. My mother doesn't blame me for what happened to her. Gale, Xavia, and my foster parents, they all accepted me for who and what I am. I can't get rid of you, but I can damn sure put you in your place. You might like the taste of human blood, but rabbits and squirrels is all you'll get out of me. Now get the hell out of my way!" Raven barked and ran toward the mirror. The surface became liquid as Raven jumped through it. He landed upon the other side. "I'm through. I made it!" Raven shouted. "Yes, you have." Said a voice. Raven looked up to find a huge emerald green dragon looking down upon him. "I was told you are the dragon that guards the sword. I am Raven. I have come to claim the sword to destroy Drake." He said. "The mark upon your chest. It has been there since the moment of your birth. The animal for which you have been named marked you. I know this. I have known since the moment you were born. I have waited for centuries for the warrior who would free the world from Drake's evil. Now you have come." The great beast explained. "I give this sword to you. You must run it through his heart. His rotted soul will be encased in the crystal at the center of the blade. Once his soul is imprisoned, you must throw it into the pit of hell, which will open only when you have slain Drake. The sword can only be used once, and it will only kill Drake." The dragon said and bellowed a mighty breath of fire to melt the stone in which the sword was encased. It was unlike any sword mortal eyes had ever seen. The hilt was made of pure silver and encrusted with precious stones. The blade was made of pure gold, and in the center was a clear crystal. "Go now. Drake knows the heritage of the young woman who travels with you. He must not be allowed to capture her." The dragon said and returned to the form of a gigantic crystal statue. Raven looked behind him to see the mirror had vanished. He ran out of the cavern and reunited with Peck and Demon Hunter. "I have the sword. Let's get out of here and get Cinda. The dragon said Drake knows about what she is and will want her at any cost. I don't know how he found out, but he knows. Come on."

Part 28

Raven rode out of the mountains as quickly as he could and found Cinda still sleeping in the cave he had left her in. But before he could call to her to get up, a deafening clap of thunder shook the sky, and lightening began to strike the earth. Raven looked up to see a terrible storm brewing in the clouds. "We won't be going anywhere now. The weather is too dangerous for us to travel in. I guess we stay here in the cave until the storm blows over." Raven said dismounting Demon Hunter. He led his horse into the cave and took off his saddle and bridle. "Stay close." He said to his steed. Then he walked over to Cinda and nudged her arm to wake her. "Cinda." He said quietly. "Raven. You made it through the mountains." She said rubbing her eyes. "Raven, your mother, I met her. Her spirit came to me. I had a terrible dream. I dreamt I was a vampire feeding off of innocent children. She came to me and told me you were her son."

"She is my guardian. Her spirit watches over me. She now guards you as well." Raven said. The wind and rain began to cut at the outside of the cave. Raven looked on as the winds grew to an almost gale force strength. It blew the rain so fiercely that drops of water began to penetrate the entrance of the cave. Raven looked to find inside there was a path that lead deeper into the dwelling. He followed it a ways and then returned to Cinda. "I've followed that path a few feet. It seems to be safe. We can stay in the deeper part of this cave until the storm blows over. I don't think it a good idea to stay up here. We'll be safe for the time being." Raven said. Cinda nodded and got up from where she lay. Together they and their animals walked into the deep cavern. Most of the ground was covered by moss. It was dark so Raven lit a torch. They continued until they reached the end of the path. "We'll be safe here. The storm can't reach into this place." Raven replied. Cinda yawned widely. "Why don’t you go back to sleep? I think we could all use some rest." Raven said. "All right." Cinda yawned again and spread out her blankets. She lay down and went to sleep. The air was damp and chilled. Raven built a fire. He stayed close to Cinda. That was one truth he had learned from the mirror that he realized he didn't want to run away from. Cinda meant something to him. He cared about her. Though the rigors of the day had drained him, he wasn't tired. He sat a short distance from Cinda keeping a watchful eye upon her. She slept peacefully as he watched over her. Raven looked away for a moment. He wanted her. He knew he wanted her, but still there was the fear within him that if he took her, he would kill her. But also came the realization that she could be capable of the same thing since she too had vampire blood within her. He closed his eyes beginning to feel sleepy. "NO!" Cinda screamed. Raven immediately snapped out of his trance and ran over to Cinda. "Cinda, wake up. You're having a nightmare. Wake up. Wake up Cinda." He said taking Cinda into his arms. "It was so real. The horrible things I did!" She sobbed. Raven held her tightly against him trying to assure her she was safe. "It was only a dream. I know. I've had the nightmares too. It's all right. You're safe. You're safe." He said. He knew all too well the nightmares that plagued Cinda in her dreams. He held her to him cradling her in his arms. He felt her shivering from both the cold and her crying spasms. "Shhh. It's all right now. You're safe. You're safe with me. Don't cry. I'll find some way to chase the nightmares away." He whispered softly. Cinda looked up at him. Her eyes were full of tears. She was angry and scared. She reached out her hand and touched the mark upon his chest. She rested her head upon it. "Raven," she said drying her eyes. "Hold me. Hold me close."

Raven felt his heart melting. She trusted him. She trusted him the way he felt no one could ever trust him, with her life. It was that moment he realized he loved her. He wanted her. He wanted to protect her, to comfort her when the nightmares attacked her, and at that moment, he felt the burning of desire within him. He wanted to love her, to make love to her. Cinda looked at Raven, and lay her hand against his face. She knew what he felt for her, and she felt the same for him. He wanted to make love to her, and she wanted him to. "Raven." She said with the innocence of a child. It was the trust he saw in her eyes, and that innocence that touched his heart so deeply, that it forced a tear from his eye. She sat up and put her lips upon Raven's. She put her arms around him. He pressed her close to him. Cinda lay one hand upon Raven's chest. She started undoing his shirt. Raven undid her blouse and slipped it off of her. She shivered feeling his hands upon her bare shoulders. She wasn't afraid, but she was shy. She had never let a man undress and touch her. But Cinda knew Raven would not intentionally try to frighten or hurt her. The inhibition soon faded away as she slipped Raven's shirt off of him.

Raven kissed her forehead and gently slid her shirt off her shoulders. He kissed her lips and gently laid her upon her back. He leaned over her and nuzzled her neck. That awakened the blood lust within him. He could feel his fangs descending. He raised his head trying to fight the hunger. Cinda looked up and saw him trying to resist the urge to bite her. "Raven," she said as she swept her hair from her neck. "It's all right." She whispered. "Cinda," Raven gasped trying to resist the blood hunger. "I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't. You can't help that you need blood. I give mine to you." She said. No one had ever trusted Raven as deeply as Cinda did. She wasn't surrendering her blood to him. She gave of her own will. She pulled Raven to her. "Don't worry. You won't hurt me." She replied. He put his lips to her neck. Being as gentle as he could Raven pierced the skin of Cinda's throat. She jerked feeling the sting of his fangs entering her. But they hurt only for a moment. The wound was not deep. He took only what flowed from the tiny wound. The hunger subsided and Raven felt himself once more. He looked away from Cinda feeling guilt for having bitten her. "I'm sorry." He said sullenly. "Raven, you shouldn't have to feel sorry. I gave of my blood freely. You didn't attack or force me to let you drink from me. And you should know that I give of myself as freely as I gave my blood. I do this of my own free will. You have forced nothing upon me." Cinda explained. She slipped off the rest of her garments until she was completely naked. She put her hands on Raven's shoulders and pulled him close to her. He touched her face knowing now he had could love her without fear. She trusted him so deeply that she shared her very essence with him.

He finished undressing himself and lay beside her. Raven took Cinda's hand and placed it upon his chest. He reclined back and put his hands on Cinda's shoulders. His hands glided softly across her arms. He pushed her hair back from her chest. She shivered lightly when he touched her breasts. She could feel them swell and blood rushing within them. She felt awkward for a second, but it was only natural shyness. She'd never let a man touch in such a way. She lay back as Raven leaned above her. He kissed her neck still caressing her breasts with one hand. He took her hand in the other to calm the uneasiness she still felt. He knew she wasn't afraid of him. She could not help the awkwardness she felt. Her body tensed when he placed his lips upon her breast. She felt her nipples tighten as Raven took one into his mouth. She put her arms around him pulling him closer and closer to her. He put his hand upon Cinda's stomach inching it slowly downward. She gasped feeling him touch the most intimate place on her body. The sensation startled her at first, but she relaxed as she got used to him feeling her. His touch was warm and loving. Cinda held onto him tighter and tighter. He kissed her softly and put her hand upon his chest. She breathed heavily feeling the sensations travel all through her body. Cinda put her hand on Raven's side. He put both arms around her hips. He felt like a bolt of lightening had surged through his body when she put her hand around him. He felt as if his heart were beating out of his chest. She touched him as he had touched her. "Cinda, I can't take you like this. I 'm much taller and heavier than you are. I fear my weight might hurt you on such hard ground. Let me go." She did as Raven asked. He lay on his back and pulled Cinda on top of him. He took her hand. Slowly, tenderly he eased within her. But when he could go no further without meeting natural resistance, he merely sat up as quickly as possible. Cinda cried out in pain feeling the barrier ripped to shreds. She clasped her hand tightly to Raven's. Her body tensed trying to defend itself against this intrusion. Her mind told her to relax, but her body continued to tense so that it began to cause Raven discomfort. "Cinda, try to relax. I know this hurts, but the pain will go away. Hold on to my hand and take a deep breath. I know you're hurting but the pain will go away if you just let yourself relax." Raven said trying to get Cinda to calm down. He reclined on his back hoping that would take some of the pressure off of her. She breathed slowly trying to adjust herself so the discomfort would ease. Slowly Raven sat up and held Cinda to him. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I thought taking you as quickly as I could would spare you the pain." He whispered gently kissing Cinda's forehead. "I know. I should have been more relaxed." Cinda replied. "You only feel such pain the first time. It gets easier with more experience." Raven said holding her firmly in his arms. They lay down together. Now unafraid, Cinda asked Raven lie above her. "Cinda, I don't know if that is such a good idea. I'm much bigger than you are. Are you sure you my weight won't hurt you?" Raven asked with concern. "Raven, you won't hurt me. If you can support yourself, you won't hurt me. I have put trust in you, now I ask the same of you." Cinda replied.

Raven gave in to her reluctantly and rolled over so that he was above her. He supported what weight he could upon his arms. She held onto him. Both feeling comfortable now with their position, he began slowly moving within her. She wrapped one leg around him. He stayed above her until his back ached. Raven held onto Cinda and rolled on his back. Cinda lay on top of him. She rocked back and forth. The tension grew within her and Raven until neither of them could hold themselves back. They both cried out together as Raven arched his back. Then both fell back to the ground breathing heavily and holding each other. Raven stroked Cinda's hair and kissed her softly. She moved off of him and lay beside him. He covered them both with a blanket. Cinda snuggled up to her lover and yawned. "Go to sleep now my love. No more nightmares will haunt you this night." Raven replied softly. He watched Cinda quickly fall asleep in his arms. He swept a stray lock of hair from her face. She lay fast asleep. "I love you." Raven whispered. Though she said nothing, Cinda answered him by snuggling closer to him. He lay beside her and fell asleep.

**to be cont**

chapter 8

Alternate Universe