She paced back and forth, back and forth, in one of the underground sanctuaries she had been driven to centuries ago. The dark, rough walls complimented her mood well, and the stale air continually reminded her that she had once again been forced to leave the land she called home. Her rage simmered and was dangerously close to boiling over. She had to keep control. This was all just a setback, not defeat. Mona hadn't realized how powerful the two healers together would be and they also had the aid of that intrusive Fae.
After the healers had countered her spells Mona had needed to break the connection before they were able to reach into her, into the very magic she drew from the living that she killed, then stored in her black soul. She couldn't let that happen. That would destroy everything she had become. So she stepped back to reevaluate her circumstances; she did not flee. Well, that's what she kept telling herself.
She had left on her faithful steed Octavian and into the protection of the foresst of Romania. Heedless of the cold, she pushed him until they reached a bridge deep in the Carpathian Mountains. If a human did not know what was below the bridge, they would just continue across without a thought. The supernaturals, however, would know what it was because there was no passing the bridge without paying toll to the troll who guarded the portal. If they could not pay the toll then they had to work it off by going through the portal to the In Between. Mona never paid the toll. If she entered the In Between, it was always by choice. So every time that she encountered the troll, they went through the same routine. He asked for the toll and she told him to go to hell and entered under her own power. She thought that the troll must find this amusing and a nice break from his mundane existence.
The In Between was the place between the human world and the demon realm. It was where the wicked went when they needed to lay low, and where the not so wicked went to work off an indiscretion toward the wicked. It was a place void of peace, or comfort. A place where the darkness covered you like a blanket and despair filled your lungs with every breath.
The atmosphere adjusted to the being's greatest discomfort. If you hate the cold, then you will be surrounded by ice. Blizzards will attack you, frostbite will cripple your fingers and toes – your very veins will feel as if the blood is freezing in your body, slowly depriving your organs of the precious fluid they need to live. The ice never melts and dehydration sets in even though you are surrounded by water.
If you hate the heat you will stand in the desert under the scorching sun, your lips cracked and your skin dry, your body calling out for water. You will hear the vultures above you, waiting for you to fall under the relentless, melting ball of fire. You will feel them swooping down, encouraging you to give up so they can pick your carcass until only bones are left, bones that will be incinerated over time.
If water is your fear, if the open ocean with no land in sight is what makes you shudder in your dreams, then there you shall be, water as far as you can see; no help in sight. You must tread water to stay above the salty, dehydrating fluid. With every bob of your head under the surface your body weakens. Your muscles begin to cramp, your thirst causes delirium, and you no longer know why you shouldn't drink the ocean water. You give into the temptation and take in gulps, but you are too weak. The water that seems to have a life of its own calls to you, you belong to the sea, and as you sink and your lungs fill with water the darkness you long to consume you stays just out of your reach.
Maybe it isn’t the elements that you hate or fear; maybe it is your own death or the death of the one you care deeply for that terrifies you. If this is what fills you with dread and despair, then you will watch that loved one die over and over again in the most gruesome of ways. You will try to help them, reach out to them when they call your name, but it will be in vain. For though everything that you see and feel in the In Between appears so real to you, it is only in your mind that it is happening. All the while you are actually stuck in your mind with no means of escape.
Those places were there to hold those waiting their next assignment by the demons, or other evil supernaturals that needed some sort of assistance. Sometimes it was simply delivering a message, other times it was a little bit nastier. The best thing for a supernatural to do was just pay the toll. The In Between was not a place for the light weight evil beings and definitely not a place for the ones pure of heart.
Mona had seen many suffer here. She herself had never experienced it. The evil that filled her was even darker than what lay here. Nothing the In Between could use to try and torture her would be effective. There were times, though very few, when she wondered at what point the evil had completely consumed her. At what point did she completely sell her soul? She never thought about it long because the power that came from the darkness was what she needed and she had a lot of it.
Now here she was, pacing, thinking, scheming. Her power was great, but possessing the blood of two healers would make her the most powerful supernatural this side of the demon realm. There would be no wolf, no Fae who wouldn't fall at her feet. A smile stretched across her face, so wicked that the darkness around her reached out to touch her, and she imagined the great Vasile kneeling before her. She would have her revenge; she would take what she deserved. But her power was waning. She could admit that she was going to need an army to go before her and weaken those who would stand against her. Damn those Fae for taking her sisters from her. As much as she hated to admit it she was going to have to go see him. At one time he was very powerful, as were his people. Now, circumstances had begun to weaken him. It wasn’t his strength she sought; it was his knowledge. She needed information that only he knew. She would do whatever she had to do in order to get that information from him.
"Before we head over to the new Serbian pack mansion, there are some things we need to discuss," Vasile announced to the two packs that had assembled per his request.
"I always hated it when my parents wanted to discuss -" Jen whispered to Jacque, making air quotes, "- something. What they were really saying was sit your ass down because we're fixing to rip you new one."
Jacque held her fist up for a fist bump, adding the slang they were known for: "Word."
"Hey, what have I missed?" Sally asked as she took a seat next to her two friends.
Jen cut her eyes at Sally and then raised her eyebrows suggestively. "And where exactly have you been this morning, Sally? Do tell."