The outcry of pain reverberated throughout the damp stone walls. The now
blood-dripping leather belt whipped through the air one last time before striking the naked skin of her back and her body arched. Weak, groaning in pain and panting she sank to the old plank bed's mouldly straw.
"It's your own fault," she heard the scornful voice through her feverish senses, but she couldn't say from which direction it came. She also didn't know if it was night or day. Her inner clock was off and she didn't even knew for how long she had been here, enduring this martyrdom.
"Your latest attempt to flee has to be punished. You know, I really admire your will to resist. Despite the high fever that's raging in your body you did try again to get away."
Bloodshot green-brown eyes opened a tiny crack and tried to recognize the person that was talking to her in the dim light of a nearly burnt out torch. Skylar blinked, but could only see blonde hair. "Mama?"
Mad giggling escaped Chalice's throat as she heard the uncertain question. "Good guess, but try again," she replied sweetly and patted a hot cheek of the girl. Skylar's eyes rolled back and she fainted.
Caught the young woman jumped. Reluctantly she let go of her favorite toy and turned to the vampire.
His cape floating gently behind him Azrael entered the cellar vault. "What is the meaning of this?" he shouted and tore the belt from her hands.
"Master, she tried again to escape..."
"I don't care!" He grabbed Chalice's arms and shook her roughly. "How often did I tell you that her blood is too worthfull to be wasted like that? She is of no use as my blood slave if she is dead! Look what you have done! She looks like the epitome of death!"
Chalice tried to explain the situation and to calm the dark lord but he cut her off. "I'm sick of your excuses!"
Azrael shoved her aside and sat down upon the plank bed's edge.
Skylar felt a warm touch on her cheek and opened her glassy eyes. Hovering above her was the smiling face of her mother, who looked at her lovingly. Her head was resting on Helena's lap and a slender hand was gently stroking Skylar's feverish face.
"Mama." A weak smile formed on the girl's lips. She reached for her mother's hand, snuggled her glowing cheek against Helena's palm and closed her tired eyes. For the first time Skylar felt safe again.
The huntress returned the smile and began to sing.
Her mother and the warm feeling of safety started to fade, even though Skylar tried desperately to hold on to it. "No... Mama... don't go, please... No, Mama... don't leave me alone again!"
"Hold on, my child... the phoenix..." Helena's voice echoed in her mind.
"MAMA!" Skylar's eyes flew open and her whole body stiffened as her gaze fell on Azrael's face.
The dark lord took one of her arms. His pale, cold fingers traced the bite marks that covered her under arm from wrist to the elbow. "Ahh, we have returned to the land of the living. Did you have a nice nap, little lioness?" he wanted to know, his voice soft.
Skylar didn't answer, she just stared at him expressionless.
"Accept the fact that your mother is dead."
A lone tear fell from her eye and ran down her cheek.
Azrael wiped it away tenderly. "Nobody will come to rescue you. Nobody knows where you are. Your attempts to escape are in vain, we will always find you. You are mine, accept it." He raised her wrist to his lips and plunged his teeth into the soft skin.
Skylar whimpered in pain. She closed her eyes tightly and her mind went back to the warm place of her dreams, where her tortured soul went every time he drank from her arm.
After Azrael had finished his meal, he turned to Chalice, "Care for her wounds and do something about the fever. She is of no value when she is dead." He left the vault without hearing the two words that Skylar whispered into the cool air, "The phoenix..."