A strange world. A world ruled by dice and magic. A world with dragons and elves and ogres. A world where green-skinned, tusked men under the thrall of a walking skeleton with evil radiating out of his every fleshless limb worked to control a portal that could unleash destruction into their world. A world with Bella in danger and Edward in the arms of another woman. A woman with odd bicoloured eyes and power over the undead.
X X X
Alice woke from her trance to see Carlisle standing in front of her with a worried look on his face.
“You were gone for a while, Alice. What did you see?”
Her face twisted into a puzzled frown as she tried to answer him as best she could.
“A strange place, obviously not of this world but somehow Edward and Bella will manage to travel there. They’re in trouble, Carlisle, we have to warn them. They should still be at Charlie’s, come on!”
Neither spoke on the drive over but pulling up to the house Alice turned to Carlisle with fear in her eyes.
“Shouldn’t Edward have heard us, our thoughts, by now?” she asked, looking for reassurance.
“Maybe he just doesn’t want to scare Charlie.” He soothed, stepping out of the car.
“Alice? Carlisle? What are you doing here? Is something wrong?” asked a surprised Charlie as he opened the door to see the two of them on his porch.
“Sorry to bother you so late,” began Carlisle “but we need to talk to Bella and Edward. May we come in?”
Charlie looked puzzled. “Sure, you can come in but aren’t they at your house?”
“What do you mean?”
“They left about half an hour ago saying they were driving to yours. They should be there by now shouldn’t they?”
Alice gasped, raising her hands to her mouth as if to try and stop the sound from escaping. She turned despairing eyes to Carlisle and whispered, “We’re too late, they’re gone.”
X X X
Dark and quiet. A flicker of torches further down the corridor and the slight whisper that promised people, but here shadows and silence reined. Bella looked around, fear causing her breath to hitch in her throat.
“Edward?” she called softly, longing for the cool embrace of his marble arms. Where was he, and where was she for that matter? OK, what was the last thing she remembered? They had left Charlie’s to go to the Cullen’s, got in the truck, started driving, Edward had said something funny and then…nothing. She was here, in the dark, and Edward was missing. She realized the voices had become more distinct and, hoping they were friendly, crept closer to listen.
“I give you one job and you can’t even do that properly.”
A second voice answered but it was too faint to make out what it said.
“I don’t care what happened, I don’t care what you felt. I. Don’t. Care! Just get out of my sight!”
The second voice whispered again.
“Of course come to my room later.” This voice had changed, become more caressing. “You’re not just minions for Xykon you know, at least that’s not why I make you! Now off you go and I’ll see you later.”
Intrigued by this conversation, Bella had crept closer and closer to the source and the flickering light cast by the torches. This meant she saw the bearer of one of the voices clearly as he came round the corner. A man, or what used to be, with mouldy, ripped clothes, pale skin, vacant staring eyes and flesh hanging off his bones. He was coming straight towards her, she fainted.
X X X
She woke up to see a woman standing over her. Pale skinned, with black hair in pigtails and eyes of two different colours, she looked innocuous enough but some twist of feature, some erratic glint in her eyes warned Bella that this woman was dangerous. Her predatory smile when she saw Bella was awake only confirmed that feeling. Bella had seen a smile like that only once before, when James had lured her home and was threatening to kill her.
“Rise and shine!” the mystery woman trilled in a sickly sweet tone. She looked away from Bella for a moment and spoke to someone else. “Don’t just stand there, help her up.”
Bella felt two pairs of cold, lifeless hands lift her to her feet. She flinched away from their touch when she realised they were more zombies, hardly daring even to whisper the word in her own head. This close, the smell of rotting flesh was almost overpowering and she fought hard to keep from vomiting or fainting again. Noticing Bella’s now green tinged complexion, the woman laughed gaily.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you keen on my babies? Once you get to know them they can be rather charming. Anyway, introductions! My name is Tsukiko, what’s yours?” she asked in the same sweet tone. Bella stayed silent and Tsukiko’s demeanour changed at once.
“Look bitch.” She hissed, grabbing Bella’s hair and pulling tight. “You have somehow managed to infiltrate our castle with no-one noticing you and when Xykon finds out he will not be happy. So, either you co-operate fully or what I do to you to get answers will seem as nothing compared to what he will do. We can heal you and break you and heal you and break you until you wish you were dead so don’t play with me, right? Will you co-operate?”
“Yes.” Bella whispered. She had managed to stifle a scream but tears of pain ran down her face. Instantly Tsukiko’s mood lightened.
“Good girl.” She purred, smoothing down Bella’s hair and using her thumbs to wipe the tears from her face. Bella tried to recoil from the contact but the zombies either side of her still held tight to her arms.
“Hush.” Soothed Tsukiko, moving away instead. “Let’s start again shall we, name?”
“Bella, Isabella Swan.”
“See that wasn’t so hard was it? Now, you’re obviously not a paladin but do you come from Azure city?”
“Where? No, I live in Forks, Washington.”
“Not somewhere I’ve heard of. How did you get in?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
Tsukiko’s voice turned flinty again. “Try.”
“Well it was just, one minute I’m with Edward, Edward Cullen my boyfriend, and the next I’m here.”
“A boyfriend? Did he come here with you?” The predatory smile was back and there was an excited glint in her eye.
“I don’t know, when I got here I was alone.”
“Hmmm… You.” She called, pointing at a third undead Bella had not noticed in the shadows. “Alert everyone that there is a possible male intruder. If located he is not to be harmed but I am to be informed immediately, understand.” The ghoul nodded then scurried off.
“You two follow me and bring her; we’re going to go see Xykon and Redcloak. Who knows, they might even be in a good mood!”
X X X
Edward ran through the seemingly endless blue corridors, senses straining to locate Bella, searching for a whiff of her scent or even a flash of her face in someone’s mind. Some of the minds he encountered, however, were strange, alien to him and he shied away from the gruesome images he was shown; a battle, many dead, many more injured, the cool relief of death only to be dragged back into a brutal semblance of life. Coming to another junction he distinctly heard his name being called in a sing song voice.
“Edward! Come out, come out wherever you are!”
Moving closer to where the call was coming from, cautiously now, he became aware of Bella’s unique fragrance in the air. She must be with whoever was calling him. Entering the room he didn’t even acknowledge the other three figures, two of which were holding her up, as he had eyes only for Bella and they filled with pain as he saw what had happened to her. Already bruises were starting to form on her pale skin and a series of long, deep gashes on her cheek showed when she had been slapped by a bony hand. His features twisted into a snarl of rage and he began advancing on the other individuals.
“Uh, uh, uh!” the lone female scolded, stepping forward. “Play nice now.” She looked up into his face as if searching for something then nodded, apparently satisfied with what she had seen.
“A vampire!” she muttered to herself. “She didn’t mention that. This changes things.” She turned to the zombies holding Bella. “Turns out we don’t need her after all. I guess you can put her in the dungeon until I’ve decided what to turn her into.”
“What? Edward!” Bella screamed.
“Bella, no!” He lunged towards her planning on dragging her away from the undead holding her, re-killing them if necessary.
“Command Undead.” No more than a whisper.
He stopped. Bella was still there, screaming, pleading for him to help her but suddenly it didn’t seem to matter, she didn’t seem to matter. His whole consciousness was focused on Tsukiko. Her very being filled his mind with purpose and when she smiled at him it felt like his life before that point hadn’t existed. Her voice was a chorus of angels which he couldn’t help but obey.
“Edward?” Bella whispered, disturbed by the look of adoration on his face as he gazed at Tsukiko, who turned to Bella and grinned, a smile of triumph and something else she couldn’t quite place.
“Too late,” she gloated, “he’s mine now! A vampire? Too easy.”
“No… Edward? Edward it’s Bella. Speak to me Edward.”
“Yes Edward, speak to her.” Tsukiko agreed, stroking his face. “Tell her you’re sorry but it’s over. Tell her you love somebody else. Tell her it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. Tell her she was never good enough for you. Tell her you never really loved her. Tell her you never want to see her again.” Then she watched, delighted, as Edward repeated her words and broke Bella’s heart. She sighed happily.
“Ah, so much fun! You can remove her now.” The zombies dragged Bella away, so broken she didn’t even bother to try and fight them. “And you,” she breathed to Edward, “can kiss me.”