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Blood, Sweat, and Vengeance

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The smell of iron wafted through the air. It was thick and pungent—bringing back so many similar memories of the bloodshed she'd lived through for hundreds of years. This time though it was more satisfying than any she could ever recall.

The blood of a Camarilla member—regardless of his changing his ways—filled an ache in her chest.

They'd all pay. Each and every last one of them.

She knew they of course grew emboldened through the years—no longer fearing her as much as they had before.

But now…

Now she didn't have the Accords to bind her. Her chains were broken—much like Fenrir at Ragnarok. She was free to destroy their world, ripping them apart with her teeth and blocking out their sunlight. Mercy was a word she had to hold to far too often, but no longer.

Now there was no mercy. Now there was only vengeance—centuries long worth.

She eyed the body with distaste—focusing on the Camarilla knife she had carved into Santos' chest. He had trained Hearst…the scientist that had created the ultimate method of blasphemy. She growled as she turned on her heel, taking the stairs two at a time and breezing from the shop.

She needed to find the final pieces of the First Song…but something in her wanted to level the playing field even further…

"If you so wish," the voice of the Mother floated through her mind.

That was all the permission Sarah Alder needed.

 


 

"Where are you running to?" she growled, advancing on the scampering man as he tried to crawl away from her. She roared—exploding the man and sending blood everywhere. She was coated in it. It reeked of hatred but she couldn't bring herself to care too much.

This was the third Camarilla camp she had located—the third she had annihilated.

She destroyed each of them, leaving nothing in her wake but chunks and pieces of flesh. Some of which was burned, others that were dangling from the ceiling rafters. She continued wrecking the base—making sure to leave nothing behind that could be salvaged. She was going to wipe them out properly this time.

She would hunt their bloodlines down—eradicate them like plague infested rats.

She felt something then…a spike of fear that wasn't her own—followed by panic. She recognized it as Tally Craven and a cold sweat took hold of her.

She was dissolving into the ground in a moment—allowing herself to become one with the Mother and traveling through the Mycelial network to reach her destination. As she drew nearer she felt the ground rumbling. She could hear the wind pick up as a storm was summoned—could feel Collar pulling on the Mycelium's power.

Then there was Tally Craven. She could hear her calling out to her sisters, warning them of impending attacks.

She broke through the earth, wrapping up and around a soldier and destroying him from the inside.

Her figure took form—cleaned of the blood that had clung to her from her last rampage which she was grateful for. She knew that Craven would have been worried otherwise.

"Enough," Alder instructed the unit.

They did as ordered—despite knowing they weren't required to follow her orders anymore.

Hearst stood with his soldiers—a pleased glint in his eyes. There were so many behind him—all equipped with armor that she knew would dispel their Work.

A bone-chilling grin spread across her face. She didn't need Work to kill them.

"Alder," she could hear Craven call behind her.

She couldn't look at her right now though—it would dispel her centuries long anger if she did.

She held her hand out—feeling the mycelial threads expand from the ground and wrap together until they had created a scourge. The tip of which would normally be obsidian was crackling with purple energy as it solidified.

"Keep out of my way," Alder warned them without looking back.

Hearst nodded to his men—bastardized Seeds echoed from their armor and Alder growled. She released one of her own—keeping theirs at bay as she advanced on them.

"I don't need Work to kill you," she seethed. Her scourge whipped behind her with practiced ease, and then she lunged.

The soldiers were unprepared for the onslaught she unleashed. There was no holding her back. She spun gracefully—power rippling through her body as she slashed through the air to cut down two soldiers at once. She turned quickly, whipping her scourge back around and ending another. She roared, lightning striking the ground and electrocuting a group of them with a ferocity that had them cook from the inside out before falling to the ground as charred stumps. Their bodies sizzled and steamed in the crisp fall winter air.

"You wanted this war?" she screamed as she sliced her hand down through the air, cutting another down the middle as blood sprayed her body.

Hearst looked terrified, and it sent a shiver of pleasure through Alder's form. She was bloodthirsty now. She wanted to kill them all—uncaring what the others thought of her methods.

She was unchained and free…and Goddess did it feel good.

A Seed ripped from the Camarilla armor, striking her across the face and drawing blood. She grinned madly, advancing on the nearest soldier and wrapping her scourge around his neck. She pulled hard—severing his head from his body before gracefully dodging another Seed.

"Shoot her!" Hearst screamed at the remaining battalion.

Alder cackled at the order. "You think that will stop me, Alban Hearst?" She was breathing heavily—body caked with the blood and flesh of her enemies. "I will follow you to the ends of the earth to watch you draw your last breath."

Gunfire rang out and she heard Tally scream her name. She roared, windshearing the bullets before they even struck her.

She summoned the Mycelium—urging the ground to rise and wrap around Alban Hearst, holding him captive.

"You're going to watch me slaughter the rest of your men," she rumbled.

The tendrils rose higher as he tried to release a seed—wrapping around his cords and pressing just hard enough that he could perform no Work.

"Please, mercy mercy!" one soldier screamed, attempting to scramble away from Sarah. "I had no choice."

"Your ancestors had a choice. Your bloodline ends here," she snarled. Her scourge cut through the air, slicing him in half.

She rounded on the others—power bubbling in her gut as she released another wave of lightning on the remaining soldiers until there were only scorch marks on the earth.

Then she approached Alban.

"I'm going to cut you…rip those cords from your throat like you did to the one you stole them from, and hand deliver it to that sadistic bitch of a woman you call sister before I end her life." She grabbed Hearst by the throat, relishing in the pure terror in his eyes.

"Alder, don't!" she heard Craven call.

A growl rumbled in her chest and she turned, releasing a Seed that kept the Bellweather unit in place.

Tally's big, brown eyes were pleading with her. She could see the desperation in her eyes—she ignored her, turning back to her captured prey.

She reached down, pulling the knife from Hearst's belt and eyeing their weapon of choice.

"Fitting that I should harvest the cords with your own knife…don't you think?" she murmured aloud as she brought it to his neck.

He tried to scream and thrash against the mycelial threads, but they held firm—unbreakable.

She brought the knife down, slicing through the flesh of his throat and watching the blood begin to pool.

"I'm going to go very slow," she told him, voice practically a purr, moving the blade down at a snails pace. Her eyes glanced to his—terror stricken. She saw memories of her persecution dance in his eyes—all the murders of her fellow witches at the hands of the Camarilla. It ended now. She would not let it continue a moment longer.

"I want you to feel this," she hissed, pressing the knife deeper—uncaring that the blood spurting from the wound was coating her already red-stained hands. "I want you to feel the life force leave your body. I will cut these cords from you and heal you, just so I can kill you all over again."

Hearst's eyes widened impossibly further. She knew he was trying to scream—could feel it against her hand as well as the knife that continued to carve.

"There we go," she cooed as the last section was cut away. She linked with him, singing a healing Seed as she ripped the cords from his neck. She dropped them on the ground to deal with later.

"Now…how to kill you is the real question. You wanted to fight us so desperately that you bastardized our cords with your vile throat…you want the power of a witch…you can die like one then, I think." She sneered down at him. "I think burning you alive…slowly…would be an excellent death, don't you?"

"Sarah!"

That gave her pause. She turned her head to look over her shoulder—purple eyes meeting brown.

"You're better than stooping to his level," Tally called out to her pleadingly.

Alder couldn't help the anger that brought out of her.

"You know nothing," she spat.

She and Tally had been in a purgatory of sorts ever since she was resurrected. She didn't understand still…didn't understand the heavy chains she wore when she was bound to the Accords…didn't understand the horror she witnessed in all her centuries.

"You want to know why I have no problems stooping to the murderous rage of the Camarilla?" Her eyes flickered to Tally's feet, urging the Mycelium to rise and wrap around her. "Then I will show you. Enjoy the horror of my life, Craven."

Tally's expression went blank, and Alder ignored the cries of her sisters as she turned back to Hearst.

"Now where were we?" she cut into his chest, carving the symbol of their knife into the flesh. "I only regret that your kin aren't here to watch…just as your kind terrorized mine."

His cries were muffled as she carved, and when she finished there were tears streaming down his face.

"Should I make you a pyre?" she asked aloud—more to herself than anything. She brought forth the wood with her Work, arranging them quickly around where he was held by the mycelium. She lifted him in the air, placing him on the small pyre and keeping him secured to the pole with the threads.

She approached, holding his gaze as she whistled—fire igniting at his feet. She stepped back to watch.

The flames consumed him slowly—and she heard Collar and Bellweather call Tally's name as the redhead came out of the visions she was shown.

Alder knew that either Tally would understand…or she would continue to view her as a monster. She couldn't bring herself to care at the moment though, it felt too good to end his life this way…to slaughter each of them. She would search far and wide—dedicating the rest of her days to wiping them from the face of the earth the way she chose.

She now had a choice, and she chose vengeance.

She finally allowed the threads to release around his throat so he could scream into the stillness of the night as the flames consumed him.

She watched until his body was charred, barely attached to the pole. She approached it, pushing the knife into the chest cavity to remain there.

Satisfaction flooded her. She turned to face the cadets, watching wide-eyed.

She released the Work that kept them from approaching, and turned to walk away. She didn't want to deal with a lecture from the Knower.

"Wait!" Tally called out, running after her.

Alder had barely turned around when Tally smacked into her, wrapping her in her arms and holding on so tightly that she had trouble breathing.

"I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry," Tally sobbed against her, uncaring that she was coating herself with blood.

Alder couldn't resist. She held her close—comforting her after the horror that she had seen.

"I'm sorry, Tally Craven," she murmured against auburn hair. "I've been shackled too long. I want this to end, and the only way to end it is to completely eradicate them."

Tally nodded against her, understanding even though she didn't agree with the scale of violence that Alder had unleashed.

"I'm not stopping," she added.

"I know." Tally held tighter. "Are you going to disappear again?"

"There are so many of them, I need to continue."

"Can't you rest? Just for a night?" Tally pleaded. "Please."

Alder looked down at her in her arms. Brown eyes were staring at her with such hope that it made her chest ache.

"For the night," she agreed.

She allowed herself to be led back to the house. She suppressed a smirk as Bellweather looked at her approvingly after she surveyed the bloodied scene that marred the ground outside of the house.

Alder could feel the Mycelium rising, taking the bodies into the ground and cleaning the ground of the pools of blood. She asked the Mother to leave Hearst's body where it was as a warning to other's.

They entered the house and Alder followed Tally up the stairs to where she procured her a change of clothing before she went to the shower to clean herself up.

When she had emerged—dark, wet strands of hair framing her angular face; clad in a tshirt and pair of shorts—Tally was sitting on the edge of the bed lost in her own thoughts.

Alder said nothing, allowing her to process as she needed while she rounded the bed and laid down. She was tired and could do with some sleep—the Mycelium could only replenish her so much.

Tally had risen from her position on the bed, gathered her change of clothing, and disappeared down the hall.

Alder sighed, lying on her back and staring up at the ceiling as she thought of what Tally would say when she returned.

She was never sure with the Knower. She heard a door click down the hall, followed by the soft padding of feet, and then the door to the room creaked open.

She kept her eyes trained on the ceiling as Tally moved about the room—until finally she felt the bed dip and the light click off.

Perhaps they weren't speaking about anything.

"Did it feel good?" Tally asked in the darkness.

Alder shifted to her side, wanting to look at the other woman—and found her already on her side watching her.

"Yes," she answered. "To watch what they had done…over and over again for centuries and never being able to handle it how I chose…yes, it felt good."

Tally frowned. "I'm sorry you had to see it. I understand hating the Camarilla…but I didn't understand…"

"The brutality they showed through the centuries?"

Tally nodded quickly. "The…the smell…"

Alder knew what she meant. The smell of iron, rot, and burnt flesh—her coven. Butchered, like animals.

"What is worse is that those memories of their cruelty…that is not even half of their dark past. During the Inquisition, they were even more brutal—ripping flesh in strips, gauging out eyeballs, cutting off hands…" she trailed off, her nose wrinkling in distaste. "They have never shown mercy to us…and I was forced to show restraint again and again."

"Not now."

"Not now." Alder nodded. "I am sorry that you had to bear witness. I am sure that it has changed your view of me…or perhaps it hasn't at all—only confirmed it."

Tally's brow furrowed, unsure what the older woman meant by that. She shook her head. "What do you mean?"

"I am content to be called a monster as long as you and your sisters have a world free from the Camarilla and their influence."

"You think I believe you're a monster?" Tally asked incredulously.

Alder arched an eyebrow. "Do you not?"

"Of course I don't." Tally blanched. "How could you believe I think that of you?" She reached out, cupping the woman's cheek before she could think better of it. "I've never thought that you were a monster, Sarah, and I don't think that now."

Her stomach flipped pleasantly at her name falling from pink lips. She couldn't resist the small smile it brought forth.

"That means a great deal," she murmured honestly.

Tally lightly stroked her cheek—getting lost in blue eyes. She'd missed her so much.

"Thank you for saving us, again," the Knower told her.

"It was no trouble," Sarah replied sincerely. It truly wasn't. It was perfect—a two birds with one stone opportunity to eradicate more Camarilla, specifically Hearst, and save Tally.

Tally had scooted a tad closer—and Sarah found her breath hitching as Tally leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss to her cheek.

"Goodnight, Sarah."

Her heart slammed against her rib cage, and her hand was rising—cupping Tally's cheek and keeping her from turning away. Brown eyes glinted in the soft light from the moon outside—allowing Sarah to see that her gaze was fixated on her lips. Her breathing had quickened just slightly, and she tilted Tally's chin upward just so.

She brushed her lips against the Knower's, electricity flying through her body at the whimper that escaped Tally before she kissed her. The current ran from her head to her feet—shooting through her extremities and making her feel like she could destroy an entire army with a single Seed. She moaned into the kiss as Tally's hands tangled in her hair, keeping her close so she couldn't move away.

Tally sucked her lower lip into her mouth, biting it gently before soothing it with her tongue. She earned a gasp from Sarah, sliding her tongue between her lips to taste her fully. She could feel Sarah's hand settling on her lower back, pulling her tight against her as the other threaded in Tally's hair to hold her head.

She was unsure how long they kissed for—but when they finally allowed themselves to break for proper breath, their lips were swollen and tender.

Something Sarah didn't mind in the least—and if the darkened gaze from the younger woman was any indication, she didn't either.

"Was…" Tally licked her lips. "Was that okay?"

Alder blinked at her. "More than."

"I meant like…" Tally sighed, frustrated with herself.

"Your tongue was just in my mouth, you can speak openly with me," she told her with a teasing smile, delighting in the blush she could feel radiate against her hand where it still rested against Tally's cheek.

"Was it okay for me to kiss you or did I make things weird between us? I just…" Tally sighed and Sarah thought for a moment she was going to cry.

"It was more than okay. I had hoped that we might reach this point…but I truly never thought it would happen, especially after tonight. So, yes, Tally, it was more than okay and no you did not make things weird."

"Do you want it to be a one-time thing?" the Knower asked.

She could see the flash of pain cross Tally's face at the question.

"No, Tally. But, what do you want?"

"I want you," Tally breathed. She could feel her eyes start to water. "All I've wanted is you. I thought you were dead, Sarah, and-and I mourned you and it was all my fault…I felt so guilty and missed you so much…and then you showed up and," she laughed ruefully. "I thought that maybe we could have a second chance, to at least be friends but I've always wanted more than that. So, I want whatever you're willing to give me."

Sarah hummed in acknowledgement and pulled Tally to her. She wrapped her arms around her, turning her face inward to breathe in the smell of her hair.

"I want you, Tally Craven. I have a second chance at life, and once this war is finished and won…I would like to see where life will take us."

A sob of relief echoed in the room as Tally turned to face Alder and kissed her passionately.

When they broke for air, Alder pressed on. "I have much to do yet, as do you all. I will have to disappear to continue my work," she said, trailing a finger down Tally's cheek. "But I will find you whenever I am able. Just please stay safe for me."

"I will do my best."

"That is all I ask, soldier." She smiled softly, leaning in to capture Tally's lips in a gentle kiss. "We should sleep, I will need to leave at first light."

"Hold me?"

Sarah settled on her back as Tally curled up against her side—her head resting on Sarah's chest. She wrapped her arms around the younger woman, relishing in how right it felt to have her against her and enjoying the warmth that bloomed when she thought of the future for herself.

One in which there was her and Tally and the love they shared—free of bloodshed and persecution.