Acenath tossed in the bed, having the dream she had had many nights now. A small, naked little girl appeared before her “come find me” she asked. “find you? Where do I begin?” the girl smiled and ran away. She was fast for a small, pale little thing and Acenath could barely keep up. “wait! Little girl!” she called as she feared losing her. For whatever reason it always terrified her in the dream to lose the little girl but as always vampires dropped from the trees, hissing menacingly and getting their spit all over her “get out of here!” they commanded and when she refused saying she needed to help the little girl she would end up standing on a pyramid seeing the same little girl tied to an altar “find me before you’ll need to find the others” she’d say as her body seemed to tremble in fear “the others?” Acenath would ask and normally she wouldn’t stay in the dream long enough to hear another answer “hey’re in the ground with me. The other children. Find us, find us before another dies for the god Lestu”
Suddenly one of the vampires from before appeared so close in front of her their noses were touching. With the most hateful look she could recall in her life he shoved her off the pyramid. Acenath woke covered in sweat just before her body met the ground. She woke panting, heart racing so loud it woke Kieran “My love? Another nightmare?” He asked in his rumble of a sleepy voice. “mhm” he pulled her down and held tightly, placing a kiss on her head “it is all alright”
“I think she’s real Kieran”
“what makes you think so?”
“I don’t know. These dreams feel like someone is actually asking for help”
“how could the little girl get into your mind?”
“I don’t know but I recognize the wood she’s running through. What if there are really children buried out there. Kept in some godawful place”
“There’s multiple now?”
“yeah, the dream was longer”
“would it make you feel more at ease if I took you out there to see if this is just nightmares or a real cry for help?”
“You’d really do that?’
“this is upsetting you and honestly no matter how low the chance is these dreams are any more than dreams can we really risk leaving naked children buried for vampires to do god knows what to? We will go in the morning but right now I am exhausted from our love making. Just let me rest enough to travel with you”
“thank you Kieran”
“for taking me seriously and not brushing my dreams off” in a barely awake voice he said “If somthing is upsetting you I’ll never just brush it off”
Kieran fell back asleep with Acenath held tightly in his arms. She was too worried and worked up from her nightmare to drift off so she just laid there letting her fingers trace lightly over Kieran’s chest. She kept hoping the little girl was just a figment of her imagination, but knew in her heart that that wasn’t the case. Something was wrong, really and truly wrong and she wanted to put an end to it. She didn’t understand people who hurt others, especially innocent children. She laid there, her mind racing, her thoughts jumbled, her stomach in knots. When the sun finally began to make it’s way over the horizon, she was exhausted. Kieran stirred, inhaling sharply as he came to his senses.
“Morning.” She said softly and he kissed the top of her head.
“You didn’t sleep did you?”
“Baby, you need your rest.”
“I know, I just couldn’t stop thinking about those kids.”
He yawned. “Let’s shower and eat then we’ll go okay?”
They took a quick shower then went into their kitchen for breakfast “let me cook since you didn’t sleep”
“sounds good to me. You do so much better without my help anyways”
“good thing I like cooking for you” Kieran prepared Strawberry Souffle Pancakes with a side of bacon for them both then sat down with his mate. “what does she look like?” Kieran asked Acenath “Long blonde hair and these ridiculously sad green eyes”
“what do you think the vampires are doing?”
“did you see the other children?”
“No, poor thing is just tied to an alter”
“I’m really hoping these dreams aren’t real”
“Believe me, me too”
“if it’s real I’ll feel like shit for us not going sooner”
“what matters is we’re going now. I shouldn’t have been hesitant to ask”
“You shouldn’t have. If anything bothers you or you want to go anywhere you just have to tell me. i’ll never just brush anything off. What kind of mate would that make me?” Acenath kissed his cheek “you’re the best”
“mm, now eat your food” They ate then set their dishes in the sink before slipping their shoes on. Kieran got down so he could carry Acenath on his back. “you didn’t sleep so I dont want any lip about this” he said as he stood straight. Acenath smiled and kissed the back of his neck “None at all” Kieran walked out, locked their home then took off, following his wifes directions as to where they needed to go.
They stepped into the woods where she had seen the little girl and felt a shiver of fear run up her spine. She pushed gently against his back and he lowered her to the ground. “This way.” She said, grabbing his hand and taking off at a quick pace. Her heart was hammering against her chest and her palms felt sweaty. She knew they were drawing closer and she suddenly came to a grinding halt. “Oh my god.” They both found themselves looking at a row of open graves. The coffins within were empty, but had been modified to allow air and water to pass inside. She dropped down into one of the holes and immediately covered her nose. “Do you smell that?”
“And the lid.” She lifted it up and he pulled it out of the hole. There were markings on the inside and it didn’t take them long to realize they were scratch marks.
“They tried to claw their way out.” Kieran said as he traced the marks with his own fingers. “These holes couldn’t haven been opened more than a week ago.”
“The dreams started before that which means the girl and the others were here for awhile.”
“they couldn’t have kept them in the graves long. These are human children so they would be dead in three days without water, food three weeks but buried there couldn’t have been a way to give them the water they would need and without purification or a way to collect it drinking the urine would have killed them. They might have kept them buried just three days for some reason. Maybe it’s a part of the ritual since they are apparently sacrifices.”
“we need to keep looking Kieran. O my god”
“Maybe you should sleep again so we know where. I dont know if these vampires are smart or just lucky but this place is heavy with so many scents. Maybe she’ll guide you again if you sleep”
“do you think she knows we’re here?”
“I don’t know, quite frankly I’m surprised she’s human but I only smell human children”
“why? Somtimes humans have amazing magic”
“yeah but this is a child. To be able to do what she’s doing with you is astounding”
“how am I to sleep? They buried them. They could be doing anything to them”
“If you’d let me you know I can make you”
“Ah, you’ve forgotten because you yourself were a little girl when I asked you permission to put you to sleep. Remember? Your dad yelling at you and then telling me to use my magic to put you to sleep before he beat you unconscious? You and I both know that he would never actually do that but he was furious because you had been giving him grief at bedtime for about a month at that point and you were far too old to be doing that”
Acenath blushed “I remember now…you didn’t feel right using your magic to make me sleep without asking me. You gave me a choice and I was so upset over what my dad said I let you. Wow that was a long time ago”
“So can i do it?”
“yeah, it’ll be faster I’m sure” Kieran lifted his mate then sat with her on the ground, saying a few words in another language but he had taught it to her so she understood the words even though she hadnt when she was a child. When she was a child he hadnt held her like this either. Before the world went dark she had to admit this was a much better way to be put to sleep, being held in his arms. Kieran sighed when his spell was cast. He blocked out the scent of urine in the air and concentrated his senses on Acenath. He remembered everything about her childhood so well. It made him wonder what else could have been forgotten. He decided to lighten things up when this was all over and go over what stories they shared when she was still living with her parents.
He would tell her everything, from all the times he thought she was the most adorable little girl to falling in love with her when she became a woman. He kept his mind busy with that as he waited for her to wake up again.
She was standing at the graves this time, the little girl stood in front of her, seeming even more pale and gaunt. “Where to now, we found the graves.”
“You have to hurry, the new moon is close.” She took off running and Acenath sped after her, focusing on the child as she raced through the woods. The forest seemed to melt away and they were suddenly standing in front of a house. The girl ran inside and she followed. “This way.” She tried to take in the details of the house as she followed the girl, wanting to give Kieran as much information as she could before waking. She followed the girl down into a basement where she was confronted with the sight of vampires forcefully bathing children.
“What’s going on?”
“They bathe us then rub us with scented oils. You have to hurry.”
“we apparently need to be for their god. Please wake up and leave now. I don’t want to die, none of us do but they..they’re so much stronger than we are. Nobody but you is coming for us. All of our parents readily gave us up for money. You are the only mind I could get into..”
“I’m sorry i took so long. I don’t know how I can force myself to wake up” the little girl thought a moment then used her power in dreams to make one of the vampires she was showing Acenath to attack again since she always woke up when the dream scared her. Acenath woke up with a gasp and Kieran looked concern “where are we going?” she pushed out of his lap “just follow me. I’ve wasted enough of these poor childrens time” Kieran followed after, she hadn’t been asleep very long. He couldn’t help but ponder how this little girl could sense when she fell asleep. His need for knowledge was eating him up with need to find out about this little girl after they saved her and the other children.
He could tell his wife was running herself into the ground so he swept her off her feet “what’re you doing?”
“You’re far too tired. I know you wont stop so I’m carrying you”
“thank you” he smiled down at her then focused his attention on where he was going.
When Phoenix opened her eyes Agni said “is she listening yet?”
“Yes! Oh they are at those graves they buried us in for awhile!”
“yeah. I showed her where to go.”
“think hey’ll really save us?”
“They are the only hope we have”
“but they are demons. What if they do somthing to us?”
“she seems really nice and if they turn out to want to hurt us I’ll figure out a way out of that too.”
Kieran wasn’t sure exactly how long they walked, all he knew is that the sun was well past it’s mid point by the time they made it to the house. It was in good shape save for the moss growing on the roof and the smell of the children was fresh here. Kieran sat Acenath on her feet and moved ahead of her, not knowing if the house was empty or not. He had a feeling that the children were no longer here, but that they couldn’t be too far away for the child to be sleeping or whatever she did to contact Acenath. He grabbed the door handle, not surprised that it turned. He was sure the vampires had not thought someone would find their home.
“I don’t here anyone, come on.” He said quietly.
“Then why are you whispering?”
“Just in case.”
They stepped inside, their senses open to every sight, sound, and smell. This was the place, Acenath recognized the decorations and the dark wood floors. She retraced the steps she had taken in her dream, finding the basement door and pushing it open. The smell of scented oil wafted up from the darkness and with it the smell of soap. “Let me go first.” Kieran insisted and started quietly down the stairs.
Acenath hoped they would soon see the relieved faces of children but when she and her mate arrived at the bottom there were none to be found. “damn it” she said in a defeated voice. Kieran took her hand “we’ll find them”
“should I sleep again?”
“their scent is strong from here. I can find them without that girl helping you”
“lets hurry then” He took his mate back in his arms and exited the home, finding their scent and following. Phoenix stumbled and fell, causing the other children she was chained to when walking to fall aswell “damn it! It becomes more evident by the day why your parents sold you to us! We give you the same food as the others and yet you’re always so weak!” One of the vampires snarled and jerked her up by her hair which made her whimper “you’re lucky we need your bodies perfect for sacrifice” the other children quickly stood and they began walking. Mona looked at Pheonix sadly, she was their only hope and she hated seeing her so exhausted and being yelled at because going into people dreams made her so tired if they were far away. She was helping them and suffering for it.
Yakov and Agni each wrapped an arm around her to support her “what’re you boys doing?” another vampire snapped. “We don’t want to fall again so we’re helping her” Agni explained. Truly they just cared about her but didn’t know if the vampires would let them if it was simply out of kindness to Phoenix.
“Just keep moving.”
Acenath felt restless in Kieran’s arms. She was worried, constantly stressing about the children and what they were going through. They were so innocent and those vampires were killing them for some god. “We’re going to catch up with them baby.” Kiran said as if reading her mind.
“I know, I just want them free of those monsters.”
“We’ll get rid of all of them so they can never do anything like this again.”
“That little girl looked so tired in my dream, so pale like she was ready to collapse, but she still reached out to me.”
“We’ll save them, I promise.”
“What if they have no families?”
“Then we’ll give them a family and a home and everything they deserve.”
“yes, we live in a castle. There’s plenty of room for them there if they have nowhere to go”
“Thats a wonderful idea” The vampires stopped that night to eat and rest. For the first time since they had been brought together they heard the smallest child there speak. Octavia had cried and whimpered quite a bit but had otherwise remained silent until now “can I go home now? Mommy said if i was good and listened I’d get to go home” The man that seemed to be the most dominate of the group just seemed annoyed “We never said anything like that to either of your parents. She just said that because you wouldn’t stop crying. We almost wouldn’t pay for you so shut up. You are all going to be dead tomorrow night so we don’t need to feed you anymore or anything else. I don’t want any of you asking for anything.”
“You don’t have to be so mean to her. What is she four?” Pheonix said angrily.They hadnt gotten her from her village so she had no idea “I dont know and I dont care. Enough of your mouths” Octavia started crying again so Mona hugged her since she was nearest. Pheonix just laid her head on Agni and closed her eyes to sleep. She couldn’t let that small little girl die like this. They were all probably only going to have eachother but they would figure it out and be their own family.
“We should take a short break.” Kieran said as he slowed to a stop.
“We can’t.” Acenath replied, her voice filled with worry.
“Acenath, we need to take a breather, well I do. Just for a few minutes okay?”
She sighed and nodded and he kissed her temple as he sat down with her in his lap. “I’m sorry.”
“For what, being a good person? I just need a short break and then we’ll continue, I promise no more than five minutes.”
“It’s alright, you can rest longer. You’ve been carrying me this whole time so please don’t run yourself into the ground.”
He smiled and brushed his nose against hers. “My wonderful mate, so concerned with everyone but yourself. You truly are amazing my love. Five minutes, then we’ll get going. Try relaxing okay?”
“Okay.” She rested her head on his shoulder, loving him all the more for being there with her.
Kieran started again as soon as he was able and about two am he could hear their heartbeats and knew they were all sleeping. He paused “Acenath, There are five children if I am correct. I need you to get them all up silently if you can and walk away with them. The vampires are so comfortable in what they are doing they aren’t awake guarding. If they wake up do your best to get them all away as fast as possible and let me fight. These kids mean nothing to them and could easily be killed in their rage. Just run with them and don’t stop no matter what” they drew closer and Kieran saw the chains, cursing in his head because moving the kids would mean moving those chains and that would wake the vampires no matter how careful they were.
Kieran backed away carefully and slowly to talk to Acenath again “okay, I guess I need to distract them first and then you collect the children” he set her down and she nodded “they should come since Phoenix will know me”
“right, are you ready? Hopefully this will be one of my lucky days and they will be susceptible to my sleeping magic.”
“Hopefully” Kieran kissed her then went ahead.
He got as close to the vampires as he dared and whispered his sleeping words. All but two of the vampires fell asleep and Kieran quickly kicked one of them in the head before he could get completely up. The second one jumped on his back and he gripped the vampire by his hair to keep him from sinking his fangs in. “Acenath go.” He ordered and she burst forth from the forest and ran to the startled children.
Phoenix’s eyes lit up the moment she saw Acenath and she waisted not time in telling the others that this was the one she had called for. Acenath broke their chains and quickly lifted Octavia into her arms. “Run!” She ordered as she took off into the woods and the other children quickly followed, their fear of being recaptured driving them even in their exhaustion. Once they were far enough away, Acenath moved to the back of the group, wanting to protect the children should any of the vampires manage to wake and give pursuit. They only stopped when Agni tripped and was too tired to go on.
“I’m sorry.” He said as Acenath put Octavia down and helped him to his feet.
“It’s okay, we can break for a bit.”
“I’m so glad you came.” Phoenix said and hugged Acenath. “I knew you’d save us, I just knew.”
“I’m just glad you are all alive. I was so terrified when I saw the graves.”
“Will that man who came with you be okay? Should you go back for him?”
“No sweetie, he’s very capable and he’ll be along before you know it.”
She heard one of the childrens stomachs growl and frowned. She didn’t smell any berries near and she couldn’t hunt with them “I’m sorry you’re hungry babies. We will feed you as soon as we can. When’s the last time you ate?”
“Yesterday, they will only give us water now” Mona answered. “we’re just glad you came” Phoenix added. “how did you all come to be with these vampires? You said somthing about you all being sold in my dreams”
“The vampires didn’t kidnap us. They were offering to pay generously for any child parents were willing to sell. I was sold because I didn’t think I needed to hide my dreamwalking abilities. My village thought I was tainted by the devil” Phoenix answered then Mona spoke up “my parents had six other girls besides me and were very poor. Not sure they could marry us all off and needing money they decided to sell me since I’m the one they like least. I heard them in their room the night after the offer was made. They didnt have a hard time giving me up atall….”
Agni took over “my dad thinks I’m a weakling because I can be sensitive somtimes” Yakov didn’t offer a reason and how was Octavia to know. Acenath struggled not to cry in both heartbreak and fury for these children. “while we’re just sitting here and I now know it would be foolish to return you to your families would you like to live with my husband and I? We have a castle with plenty of room for all of you”
“a castle” Agni said in an astounded tone. “yeah, its gorgeous” Octavia started crying again “but mommy said if I was good I could come home…I was good” Phoenix got up and hugged the little girl. Acenath looked at the other children who had looks on their faces like the girls mother had given her false hope to get her to comply with her buyers. She almost wanted to vomit with how repulsive it was to her.
Kieran had little trouble executing the pissed off vampire and quickly dispatched of the others before heading through the woods. He knew he looked like a bit of a mess with his face cut open from the vampire’s claws and he did his best to wipe away the blood so he wouldn’t frighten the children. He followed Acenath’s scent with the determination of a bloodhound and was happy when he found her and the little ones safe and uninjured. She jumped to her feet, running to him and into his arms. “You’re safe.” She said and he kissed her cheek.
“As are you. Everything okay?”
“No, I’m so upset about how these children came to be here. Their parents didn’t give a damn about them, they just sold them into slavery.”
“It’s okay baby, we have them now and we’ll take care of them.”
“They’re tired and hungry.”
“Then let’s get them home.” He let her go then approached Octavia. “Would it be alright if I carried you?” He asked. The little girl looked at Phoenix who nodded then stood up and held her arms out to him. He scooped her up then squatted down in front of Agni. “Come on.”
“Okay.” He climbed onto Kieran’s back, holding on tightly.
“You ready baby?” Kieran asked Acenath.
“Yeah, let’s go home.”
They took the children back to their home as quickly as possible. The sun was up and illuminating there castle which had all he children in awe “woah, thats where we are going to live?” Agni asked “yep” Kieran said with a smile. They took the children inside and though they were exhausted Kieran showed them their rooms while Acenath began cooking for them. She made a large meal of pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, muffins and fruit for the kids since she didn’t know what they did and didn’t like. She told them all to come to the table and they ate just as hungrily as they would have expected them to. “after we have all napped we should buy clothes for these poor babies”
“I can go. I’ll make myself an energy drink. You just get them bathed and napping.”
“okay” Kieran ate just a little more then began making his energy drink so the children wouldn’t have to sit around naked any longer. Before leaving Kieran kissed Acenaths cheek. “when we are all done eating I’m going to have each of you pick a tshirt of mine to wear after your bath. The nearest place to buy clothes is pretty far so I don’t know when Kieran will be back” After eating they were more than happy to pick shirts “I need to clean the other bathroom so we’re all going to take turns in here.”
“Will you take my bath with me Phoenix?” Octavia asked and she smiled “of course”
“alright you two first then. I’ll get to cleaning the other bathroom so it’s available. Now it will probably be used a lot” The kids all stayed in the bathroom with Phoenix and Octavia which didn’t surprise Acenath. She cleaned up the bathroom then returned “you two done in here?”
“Okay, who wants to use the other bathroom?”
“I’ll use it” Agni offered “okay, I’ll run that for you then come back and change this water for Mona or Yakov” Well after she had them all bathed, in her shirts and in beds Kieran got back with a large bag hoisted over his shoulder. “they are all napping. I got our second bathroom cleaned for them.”
“great, I need to replace the mattress in the room Phoenix and Octavia are in. I’m going to upgrade it to a king while I’m doing it anyway since they are going to share” He set the clothes down. He would give them somthing to wear and put their clothes in their rooms once they were awake again.
“The poor babies were so tired, I don’t think I’ve ever seen children so beat.”
“You’re an amazing woman my love, you really are. I am truly glad that little girl reached out to you and that you told me.” He wrapped his arms around her and she rested her head on his chest.
“I can’t believe their parents just abandoned them, it’s so messed up.”
“We’ll be their parents now if they’ll let us, we’ll make new memories with them and make sure they smile every day.” He lifted her into his arms and kissed her lips. “Come on, you need rest too.” He carried her upstairs and into their room, laying with her on their bed and pulling the covers over them. She rested her head on his chest and he rubbed her back, helping her body to relax.
They spent the next weeks making their rooms really theirs and getting to know the children that would now be living with them. Kieran loved how natural a mother she was. She seemed overjoyed taking care of them and making their home a place they could be happy in. It was a big adjustment going from no children to five but it was one that only made their lives better.
~ The End ~