Chapter 1: Prologue
The year was 1481. Prince Ben Solo was the last living ruler of Alderaan after his mother and father were taken by the influenza that had swept the land only a year ago.
The many advisors and war generals were worried at first. Ben Solo was known to be a sensible, but isolated man. He never seemed to care much about politics and kept to himself much too often for someone who was to be a ruler. But there was no disputing the incomparable warrior and fearsome battle strategist he was.
Only a few months after his rule, no country dared try to overtake Alderaan, or face battle with Ben Solo, the legendary Knight and Prince of Alderaan. Dantooine, Coruscant, Hosnian Prime, and Chandrila all fell, incapable of overthrowing young Solo, a feat thought to be easily achievable once word of the influenza ravishing the kingdom got round. But the clever Prince defended his realm with a surprising strength that mesmerized even his closest advisors.
Nevertheless, worry and rumors spread through the castle as the years added up with no sign of Alderaan’s Prince taking a wife.
He never spoke of it, only expressing disinterest whenever his advisors mentioned what his plans were for the future, for his bloodline. Balls and gatherings were held to discuss agreements and trades with other countries, but Ben Solo never gave any of the eligible Princesses or Duchesses a second glance.
Once again, his relentless isolation was troubling.
Worried the rumors of the Prince refusing to marry would crawl beyond the castle walls, a group of once loyal generals and people of the court met in secret, the leaders feigning concern over the future leadership of Alderaan and deciding amongst themselves that their solitary ruler must choose a bride, or be removed from his throne.
The men confronted Solo in his chambers that night, the battalions of soldiers and generals that once fought at his side, now demanding him to choose to surrender his rule, or accept his responsibility to marry, that night.
The Prince fared well, as usual, against the attack from the soldiers, but now that he was one man, betrayed by his own army and people, he was forced from the castle, his home and crown stolen from him all in a matter of minutes.
Entirely on his own, the distraught Ben Solo ravaged through the woods, at his most desperate, hatred and fear beginning to inch through his being, the only motivators keeping him moving forward. Twisted by anger and the desire for revenge, young Solo dropped to his knees after having charged through the bleak woods for hours.
Beaten, humiliated, and robbed of his birthright, he knew there was nothing to lose when he called upon anything that might be listening.
Promising to renounce the Earth, the light, and even his very soul, he begged for the power to destroy his traitorous enemies, to not only be feared by anyone who heard his name, but to become the most vicious, loathsome creature in the lands.
It was then that young Ben Solo damned himself, for the deepest depths of hell had heard him, heard his rage and desire for vengeance. Having offered himself up to devilish beings in exchange for immortality and unlimited power, the darkness struck him, rising from the forest and binding itself to his willing being.
Blood rained from the sky, drenching him and sealing his fate. He welcomed it with open arms.
Kylo Ren was born that night, crushing the remainder of the pure soul of Ben Solo, overtaking him with fury and hate, blackening his heart.
By the next night, every soldier, advisor, and general that had betrayed him were found brutally dismembered, the blood drained from their mangled bodies.
A legend began to grow amongst the kingdom, growing all the way to the far reaches of Alderaan. A creature of the night, a dreaded killer feasting on any stragglers out after sunset. Bodies were found drained of blood, sightings of a large, dark creature leaping inhumanly across the rooftops, through the trees, looking for its next victims.
It was a story some would tell as a bedtime tale to children, or others would tell as a warning to stay locked in your home after the sun goes down and pray this creature won’t find you and your family.
Chapter 2: Over Whitby Bay
Four Centuries Later...
Rey’s hands cling to the thick material of the dark green coat covering her against the chill rippling through the evening air. She’d grown used to how different the weather in Takodana is as opposed to the stagnant heat of the desert she’d grown up in. The fifty pound dresses and millions of layers that proper dress consists of is adequate enough to protect against most weather. But every once in a while, she finds herself with a shiver gripping her spine at the crisp winds.
The nineteen year old woman had been standing out at the now empty docks in Whitby Bay, listening to the waves lapping endlessly up against the wooden posts for hours now. Most young women would have left long before the ship they had been endlessly scrutinizing had dipped below the horizon. But Rey still stands in the same position her fiancé had left her in, hours after his ship has faded from view, as if praying it would somehow magically appear again if she continues to stare off at where it had vanished.
Poe Dameron made his money as every man in his family before him had. A successful young lawyer, who was now called away to Alderaan to fix a deal with an extremely rich lord supposedly looking into purchasing an estate here in Takodana.
Rey almost wanted to curse Armitage Hux, the lawyer who originally had this job, but somehow fell upon an illness of the mind shortly after arriving there, and was sent back immediately. It was then that her fiancé had been called upon.
Rey knows she’s established her place in society well enough by now to not have to worry about being away from Poe for the month or so he’ll be gone. But the thought of him being so far away sends a shiver of fear through her much more chilling than the harsh night air. Having never had anyone meaningful enough to worry about her entire life, Poe is someone she is reluctant to ever let out of her sight.
Rey was an orphan girl for most of her life, growing up in the desolate lands of Jakku, figuring her life would remain unextraordinary for however long she managed to survive the rough conditions.
It all changed when Poe Dameron happened upon the sixteen year old her while passing through the desert on his way to acquire land for a business deal in D’Qar. He had taken a liking to the feisty desert rat, and she found herself charmed by his kindness that was so foreign to her at the time.
Perhaps the reason she fell for him so quickly was all the surprising new feelings he brought her. For the first time in her life, Rey found herself bashful and lightheaded with a strange feeling in her chest when this strange man smiled at her.
He took her back to his home in Takodana, and she had found herself eagerly welcomed by his family. It had all moved along so fast, Rey hardly had time to process any of it. Before she knew it, she was thrown into a world that was completely alien to her with rules she didn’t understand and behaviors she would have to learn.
But Poe had stuck by her side, making sure she was never alone or too overwhelmed. It had been small things he’d done, like put his arm around her at parties and dinners, ask her how she was doing every morning and every night, or making sure she liked the food they were having, but it had all meant the world to Rey, who wasn’t used to being in a situation where she didn’t always know her way out.
Being a guest in the Dameron household led to a most virtuous courtship blossoming between Rey and Poe, which eventually led to an engagement by the time she was eighteen.
Rey had remembered all of these details of her life over the past few years in the hours she watched the ship carrying her future husband slowly sailing away. She recalls spending hours just like this, lying in a bed in the guest bedroom graciously granted as her own in the Dameron house, thinking of how grateful she is to Poe and his family for giving her this life. She was nobody. A scavenger, alone and forgotten in the desert. Yet they welcomed her as if she were their dearest friend, soon treating her as if she were their own daughter.
She had always pondered anyway she could repay them for their generosity. It seemed like a feat that she could never achieve. But when she saw the immense joy on their faces once Poe had proposed to her and she had accepted, she figured that would be an honorable way to repay them. At least to start.
But now, after giving an unsure goodbye, and watching Poe stare back at her for as long as he could until she was out of sight, Rey feels a horrid grip of fear on her heart that has her standing here still, her gloved hands gripping her coat so hard, she knows she must have ruined it.
Something, deep in the old instincts that used to keep her alive back in Jakku, is cautioning her that this will be the last time she ever sees Poe again.
We should have married she thinks to herself over and over again, though she wants to attribute her nerves to the fact that this is the first time Poe has traveled this far away from her. He wouldn’t be gone a night or two like he usually is whenever he has a business deal to attend to. I should have married him before he left. Then I wouldn’t be sitting here… waiting like this...
She knows it’s going to be a disease. A shipwreck. Some kind of accident. Something that they won’t know about for weeks until a letter arrives apologizing for the loss of the Damerons’ only son…
Rey blinks back her fearful tears, taking a sharp breath.
She’s gotten much more emotional ever since coming here. She can’t even remember a time Jakku Rey ever cried over anything. Here, ladies cry, ladies sit and drink tea and gossip instead of scrounging through junkyards and climbing through abandoned buildings. One of the many somewhat awkward changes she had to endure. It had definitely made her softer, in her opinion.
Clearing her throat and shaking her head slightly, she straightens up again, keeping her eyes trained on the wavering ocean that had carried Poe out and across the country. She knows she will have to leave soon. It isn’t safe for a lady to be out here on her own so late at night. But she feels a strange sense of duty to her husband to be. Like she must wait here just in case he might change his mind and return to her.
On the other side of the sea, Poe Dameron still sits on the rail of the ship deck, one hand lightly gripping one of the ropes hanging down as he gazes aimlessly at the small waves pressing back and forth against the large vessel.
It had been a difficult choice to leave for this job. It took him miles away from all he knew. It took him away from Rey.
A heavy weight of remorse rests in him at the thought of having to leave behind his fiancé on such a journey. But he had begun to think perhaps it was a good idea to be away for a time to finally clear the more nagging worries in his mind.
Poe has never loved anyone in the way he has loved Rey. He doesn’t know what it was that attracted him so on that day he saw her trading junk for food at a market in Jakku. Something inside him had decided to latch onto her, her and her almost thoughtless kind heart, the silent determination in everything she did, her relentlessness in things she cared about. He suddenly felt as if he wanted to help this abandoned girl in any way that he could. He took each of the steps to ensure she would be able to live a happy, comfortable life, never having to worry about shelter or food the way she had in Jakku. And, eventually, as the years went on and he continued along the almost natural courtship that had grown, he had decided to propose marriage, the ultimate way to ensure any woman’s security.
Having never been in love before, Poe still isn’t sure if that is what this is. Love.
He loves Rey, but in the way he loves his best friends at school. He would do anything for her, should she need it.
Is that the same kind of love a husband should give a wife? The same love one feels for a friend… a sister?
Aside from feeling a sense of responsibility for his fiancé, Poe supposes Rey wouldn’t know what romantic love is supposed to feel like either. Therefore, he’s spent countless nights since the announcement of their engagement, dreading if perhaps he can’t provide her with the proper love a husband should give his wife.
Deciding tonight isn’t the night to meddle through all of this once again, Poe shakes off these thoughts, finally removing himself from his spot on the rail and moving towards the cabins.
Before he can worry about his ability to fulfill Rey’s happiness, he had to worry about whether or not he would even see her again.
The ship takes four days to arrive in Chandrila. From there, Poe Dameron boards a train that will take him the rest of the way to Alderaan in eight hours.
The ride is silent and uninteresting for the most part. Poe sits in a compartment alone while endless scenery consisting of grassy fields and an occasional lake skirt past the small window he has.
He chooses this time to go over the details of the estate he is going to be selling to this Lord Ren, the client he is meeting in Alderaan. After he has done this for a couple hours, he decides to write letters to his parents and to Rey, making them as lighthearted as he can, so as not to worry them. He knows he won’t be able to write too many, since they take so long to get back to Takodana, but he knows they will all be waiting eagerly to hear from him, to know that he survived the trip.
It is dark when the train finally arrives in Alderaan. Poe briefly wonders if he must be at the wrong stop after he steps out into the vacant train station, noticing no one else is getting off along with him.
Once the train starts up again, only seconds after Poe has stepped off, it seems to rush away, leaving him to stand there at the empty station, nothing but the low whistle of the breeze echoing off the mountains.
He pulls his overcoat closer around him, his fingers gripping his briefcase so tight, his fingers must be white as a ghost under his gloves.
The large mountains cast strange shadows across the ground and over his head, making the ghoulishly quiet atmosphere all the more disturbing.
Where is everyone…?
After several minutes of standing alone at the desolate station, Poe finally hears the sound of distant hooves thumping against the ground and the heavy roll of wheels.
To his great relief, a small carriage turns the corner, heading towards the station, nearly blending into the darkness.
He steps forward just as the carriage stops in front of the station, the driver making no move to greet him.
“Um… good evening, driver!” Poe calls up to him, squinting to try and make out the figure huddled in the driver's seat. “I suppose you’re here to take me to the Castle of Ren?”
The man slowly turns his head, an old, weathered stare peeking out of the hood covering his face.
“Do you think yourself brave for venturing through there, boy?” he asks, gazing almost accusingly down at Poe. “Only the most foolish of men dare enter cursed land.”
Poe stands before him, wondering if the old man is crazy.
“Cursed land,” he asserts, feeling a spike of irritance. “The only cursed land I’ve seen seems to be here. Is there not a single soul who lives in this country?”
“This country is damned,” the old man answers. “The few left do not dare leave their houses after sunset.”
“And why not?” Poe challenges.
The old man raises his brow, as if surprised at Poe’s persistence.
“The creature of the night. He has drained the blood of every soul in this land, and the few who’ve managed to survive do not dare press their luck.”
Poe feels as if he wants to sigh in relief.
“So this is all superstition, then. A ridiculous tale to keep children in bed at night?”
The man just huffs before slowly turning back to face the road ahead.
“No fear now,” he whispers to himself. “We’ve learned how to ward off the beast.”
Only staring confoundedly at the man a moment longer, Poe rushes inside the carriage before the driver ushers the horses on, and the young lawyer is shuttled away into the black of night.
Poe’s hands are clasped onto his briefcase that is sitting on his lap during the jolting ride, occasionally glancing out the window into the ghostly night whenever a group of houses would astonishingly show up.
All of them seem either to be abandoned or locked up tight against the outside.
Not knowing what else to do and desperately wanting a distraction, Poe takes out his paper and fountain pen to write a letter to Rey.
He has no intention of sending this one, knowing how troubling she would find it. But he needs to write down somewhere how oddly terrifying this journey has become.
My dearest fiance,
My journey has finally taken me to a small town in Alderaan, where I am now on my way to the Castle of Ren, where I will finally meet with my buyer. I am counting the seconds until then.
This is a strange, I daresay Godless place. It feels as if the only inhabitants here are frightened ghosts of people. My driver tells me of a legend these few occupants all fear. A beast that has ravaged the country, yet they have somehow learned to tame it.
It is a preposterous story, but something about it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wonder if perhaps the illness attained by Armitage Hux came from whatever large spread hallucination seems to be running through the air here. I must admit, a few hours here in this empty place could be enough to drive any man insane.
The road is feeling even more treacherous now, but I do not dare to look out the window anymore. I am afraid of what I will see. A part of me wishes you were here with me. I know the clear mind you usually keep in situations such as this. You would know what to do.
Until we are free to meet again, my lovely Rey.
The carriage shudders to a halt.
Poe looks up from putting his letter away, his heart nearly stopping as suddenly as the wheels had.
He exits the carriage slowly, gazing back towards the driver as he does, expecting another cryptic warning or chastisement about him being a madman for daring to venture into the “cursed land” as he had called it.
But the carriage whisks off the moment Poe’s boot hits the ground, causing him to jump back away from the rickety wagon, watching it pull madly away from the castle.
Poe turns back to his destination, his neck craning as he observes the grand palace-like estate.
It looks as dark and empty as everything else he’s seen so far. In fact, he’s almost positive he must be at the wrong address. This castle looks utterly abandoned. Inhumanly cold. There’s no way someone could possibly be living in it.
Perhaps this is why he’s looking into another estate, Poe muses to himself as he steps up the stairs leading to the large oak doors. He can’t say he blames the man for wanting to leave all of this behind.
He clears his throat, feeling ready for anything by this point, before raising his arm to knock firmly against the wood door.
It creaks open almost immediately after his knocking, the locks dropping away, and leading him into a pitch black, abyss-like room.
“Come,” a voice invites him in, though it sounds more like a command.
Poe takes a hesitant step forward, feeling chilled by the voice that had seemed far too close, almost as if it had come from inside his head. But his feet keep moving, despite his instincts begging him to stay out of this place.
He tries shaking off the nerves as he walks deeper into the abyss, feeling as if his movements are no longer his own, rather being dictated by something else.
A light flickers in the corner of his eye, coming from the other side of the room.
Poe turns slowly, his eyes finding a lavish staircase lit up before him. His eyes trail up each and every step until they land on the tall, dark figure standing at the very top of the stairs.
The man is phantom-like, dressed head to toe in black, a long, dramatic cape hanging from his shoulders. Poe can only just make out his pale features, surrounded by raven black hair that looks to be the shade of night itself.
One of his arms is raised, holding a rustic looking lantern that only holds a minuscule glimmer of a flame, the same small glint of fire that is dancing in his black eyes as he looks upon his guest.
This is Poe Dameron’s host.
Chapter 3: Fresh Blood
“Welcome, Mr. Dameron.”
His voice echoes chillingly off the stone walls. Poe looks around, startled.
The luxuriant castle is suddenly illuminated by softly glowing candles perched on the walls, as if they’d been burning there this whole time.
“I trust you had a safe journey.”
Poe turns back around to face the mysterious man, who slowly begins descending the grand staircase, his thick black cape trailing delicately behind him.
Even as he gets closer, Poe notices that shadows seem to follow the man, keeping him partly shrouded from view.
“I am Kylo Ren,” the sinister man continues as Poe proceeds to stand before him, dumbfounded by the strange man and the strange castle. “You must be the lawyer sent to assist me with my new estate.”
Poe stares at the dark Lord’s face as he approaches, noticing a thin scar running down the right side of his face, seeming to fit perfectly with the rest of his terrifying countenance.
“I… of course, I’m… I’m Poe Dameron… well, I suppose you already knew that.”
Ren seems to take no notice of Poe’s flustered state.
“Come,” he orders, the single syllable replicating the commanding, almost hypnotic voice that had encouraged Poe inside. “I have your supper prepared in the dining room.”
The much taller man brushes past him, and Poe feels a chill shudder through him, as if he’d just walked through icy cold water.
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t partake in the feast this evening, Mr. Dameron.”
Poe rushes to follow behind the man once the candles start dimming, threatening to leave him in darkness once more.
Supper turns out to consist of dry bread, a chicken leg, warm soup that Poe was more than grateful to consume, and some fairly satisfactory wine.
Poe finds the dining room to be as cold as the rest of the castle so far, once again seeming abandoned and forgotten, despite its grand furnishings and artwork on the walls, one of the pictures looking like a portrait of Lord Ren himself. It almost feels as if there had been life in here once, eons ago.
Lord Ren stands off to the side of the smooth black wood dining table, watching Poe’s every move as he eats. Poe, not wanting to express any more discomfort than he already has, pretends not to notice the stabbing gaze this man has trained on him for the entirety of his meal.
After a while, things are getting more and more awkward as the quietness ensues, Ren seeming unwilling to start any small talk. Poe figures he should send off his reservations and at least make an attempt to be friendly. This man is a paying client after all.
“Interesting paintings,” he observes, his voice sounding quite meek against the haunting walls compared to Ren’s deep, goose-flesh inducing baritone.
Instead of looking to see his host’s reaction, he keeps his eyes focused on the large portrait before the table of the medieval looking warrior bearing a striking resemblance to Ren’s very distinct features.
But this can’t be the same man. This man in the portrait is… different. The cold, dreaded glower isn’t present in this man’s eyes. There is more warmth, more life. Something comforting.
Nothing like the unnerving aura that seems to exist happily around Lord Ren and his home.
“A distant relative,” Ren speaks, no doubt noticing Poe’s stare fixed on the portrait. “The Prince of Alderaan, in his time.”
“Really?” Poe half grins. “I didn’t know that. The resemblance is uncanny… what noble origins to have.”
He finally turns to steal a glance at Ren, who seems to have directed his cold gaze to the portrait, a bitterness flaring into his gaze.
“He was betrayed,” he replies flatly, his tone sharper than before, making Poe’s spine go rigid.
He doesn’t speak anymore on the topic, so Poe doesn’t try bringing it up again.
After finishing off the last of his wine, Poe decides they should get this deal squared away as soon as possible.
“I’ve brought all the necessary papers here,” Poe begins, bringing up the briefcase he’d set beside him on the floor. “I’ll just need your signature on a few of them and you’ll need to read through a couple of things just to make sure everything is in order…”
Poe had expected Ren to take a seat beside him while they go through all of this, but he instead seems to be more interested in standing behind him, pacing back and forth soundlessly, his figure moving in and out of the shadows as he listens to all the details Poe gives him.
“These are the details of the estate,” he explains, sliding the bundle of papers off to the side, unsure of what Ren will do with them. “They are incredibly thorough. My employer wanted to make sure you are satisfied with the location and the infrastructure so you have no problems once you arrive…”
“There will be no problems,” Ren answers, his long arm reaching from behind Poe towards the table, a gloved hand snatching up the papers. “My concerns aren’t with my estate. I want to discuss my arrival. I plan on leaving for Takodana by Thursday evening.”
Poe nearly falls out of his seat turning back to gape at the man.
“Thursday evening!” he laughs in humorless bafflement. “But that’s… why that’s only two nights from now…”
“That is my plan,” he confirms, his shadowed face staring knives down into Poe.
The young lawyer quickly turns back around, not having missed the fact that the papers Ren had just plucked from the table weren’t in his hands when he had turned to look at him.
“Surely you’ll at least want to leave in the morning,” Poe offers, quieting his tone. “Most ships-”
“I will leave when I so choose, Mr. Dameron. I choose to leave at sunset on Thursday evening. Will this be a problem?”
Poe always considered himself a wise man, so he gave the right answer.
“Not at all, Mr. Ren.”
It’s quiet for a moment while Poe goes back to wordlessly going through the numerous paperwork, his palms beginning to sweat.
“I wish to begin anew in Takodana,” Ren speaks, as if answering some unasked question. “Life here in Alderaan is quite dull, as you’ve no doubt noticed. The people here have become rather… predictable.”
Poe wonders if perhaps he means the people’s seemingly desperate cling to legend and superstition. It may be that the man wishes to escape this country’s reliance on bedtime tales that seem to plague the lands. Poe finds that at least understandable.
Rather than continue much longer, Poe decides to allow them to break for the night, figuring that a good night’s sleep might be enough to clear his head. It also might be less eerie to make conversation during daylight instead of the dead of night.
The ghostly man shows Poe out of the dining room, back to the parlor he had entered, and all the way up the staircase.
Poe keeps his stare trained on the man’s long black cloak, feeling as if there are eyes in the walls of the hallways, following his every move.
The guest bedroom Poe is shown to is as warm and inviting as the rest of the castle, unfortunately. The bed is there, the fire is burning, all the proper furnishings are accounted for, but the color and life seems to have been drained from the room.
Trying to ignore the unsettling silence, Poe begins unpacking his only luggage, the single suitcase that had arrived here before him. There isn’t much in the case, just some clothes and various items usually kept on his desk at his office.
He is now in the middle of meticulously placing his well folded clothes into the drawers beside the bed, trying to fit everything into one drawer in case he has to snatch everything up in a hurry, a precaution he’s never taken before, but feels could be a reasonable plan to have whilst on this particular visit.
His heart nearly jumps out of his throat when he turns back around to see Ren standing at the bed, staring down at something in his hands.
“How did you… how long have you been here?!” Poe asks, his hand pressing to his chest in an attempt to calm his heartbeat.
Ren ignores him, raising whatever is in his hands up closer.
Poe notices now that his entire demeanor seems to have shifted. The man stares down at the object in his hands as if it were something incredibly frightening, yet endlessly fascinating all at once.
“What is this?” he asks slowly, his tone seeming to waver, not as strong and unmoving as it had been before.
Poe hesitantly steps closer, glancing over at whatever the man is staring at.
To his surprise, he sees a small picture of Rey in his hands.
It is the picture Poe keeps on his desk, one that he’d gotten shortly after their engagement, thinking it only proper to have a photo of his future wife with him in his office, like every other man there had in small framed photographs on their desks.
“You found Rey,” he muses, recalling how he’d placed the picture towards the bottom of the case in an attempt to protect it from being damaged.
“Rey,” Ren repeats, his gloved thumbs slowly tracing down the edge of the bronze frame that encased the image of Poe’s fiancé glancing off at whatever she had been so curious about while in the garden that day when the photograph had been taken. It was impossible for her to sit still for even one picture.
The way her name slips from Ren’s lips sends an odd feeling through Poe, as if him speaking her name moved something in the air.
“Yes, my fiancé,” Poe continues, seeing Ren still gazing intensely down at the picture.
The man stiffens, as if realizing he had dropped his previous persona, the cold look quickly coming back over him as his hands drop the picture back into the case.
“Are you married, Lord Ren?” Poe asks uncertainly as Ren backs away from the bed.
“No,” he answers, his tone returning fully to it’s haunting timbre.
“You’ve never been in love?” Poe asks, almost thoughtlessly, then wanting to smack himself for asking such an invasive question, especially to this man.
It’s quiet for a time while Poe pretends to organize things in his suitcase, and he figures Ren will just ignore the question.
“That is one feat I have yet to conquer,” he speaks slowly, his voice melting back to the reminiscent, longing sound it had had when he was looking at the photograph.
Poe doesn’t quite know how to respond to that, so he says nothing, removing several items from the case and bringing them over to the bedside table, leaving the picture of Rey still sitting at the bottom.
He sighs, turning back and preparing to apologize to Ren, thinking that perhaps he had brought up some painful memory for him, and that’s why he had reacted so oddly to all of this. Love can be a heartbreaking topic at times, after all.
But once he turns back to gaze at the rest of the room, there is no sign of Ren at all. As if he were merely an apparition that had simply vanished.
Kylo perches himself on the roof of the highest tower in the castle, a place he often grazes in. Despite his nearly complete isolation living in this castle, he finds the need to get away still aching in him every now and then. He supposes some things like that never change.
But something tonight has changed.
Tonight, Kylo had thrown himself up here, not because he felt the small yearning he used to feel as a human to be closer to the sky than to other living beings, but because he had felt something… awful.
Or something exhilarating? He can’t decide.
He had seen millions of breathtakingly beautiful women at this point in his existence. Most of the time, they are the main target for his survival. Beautiful young women are easier for him to manipulate, in most cases.
She is beautiful, surely. Kylo could tell that just from the photograph. He could tell so much from just that one photograph…
It was as if, just by touching it, he could see her. He saw her that day in the garden when the photo had been taken. He saw a young lady, seemingly no different from any other one you’d see on the streets. But there was something… else. Something inside her that spoke to him. That called to him.
Even now, up here in his safe place, away from anything else, he can hear it still, can feel her still.
It disturbs him. Why now, why this? He’s been alive for over four centuries, he knows all he could ever need to know, he’s felt everything there is to feel.
His eyes snap up, looking out into the empty mountains ahead, feeling another sudden pull, similar to the feeling of when he’s getting close to a victim.
He feels a heart beating. Warmth. A mind at peace.
Kylo closes his eyes, feeling the chilled winds suddenly melt into a hot breeze, startling him. He senses the burning heat of a hot sun slowly rising, and he opens his eyes to find Alderaan’s familiar forests and mountains transform into the plane of a golden desert.
He’s no longer standing on the roof of the tower. His black boots stick out sharply against a river of tan shaded sand that brushes slightly over the tips of the leather of his shoes.
He turns sharply, looking toward the only other living being in this desolate place.
She looks different than in the picture. She’s dressed in rags, her hair is messily twisted into a strange hairstyle that holds it all away from her face.
She’s looking around the stagnant desert with content, and Kylo senses the great deal of tranquility resonating in her. Comfort. As if this were her home.
It is now he realizes he has unintentionally entered her dream.
She doesn’t look frightened or startled when she finally notices him walking towards her. She only cocks her head curiously, and Kylo senses she is only confused that there is now a strange man in her dream when she is normally alone.
He stops only when he’s inches away from her, feeling that pulling sensation more than ever, practically begging him toward her, forcing a bond that hums with life as her eyes widen slightly.
She feels it too.
Kylo reaches his hand up, touching the leather of his glove against the side of her face as his eyes narrow with puzzlement, studying her young features closely.
“Who are you?” he speaks out slowly, his voice echoing softly in his head and the girl’s.
She doesn’t answer, but Kylo feels a spike in his chest at the careful look in her suddenly fiery eyes.
Definitely not the same image of a respectable lady he’d seen in the photo.
His hand remains in the same position, outstretched toward her face, even after the image of the desert around him shatters away and he is pulled out of the dream, back to his perch on top of the tower of his palace.
Kylo drops his arm back to his side, breathing heavily as his eyes stare madly down at the hundred foot drop below him.
“It’s nothing,” he whispers to himself in an attempt to brush off this ridiculous feeling. “Nothing.”
It’s just yet another sign. More assurance that Takodana will be his next hunting ground. It should be efficient enough to allow him a stable feeding arena for at least another century before he’ll have to move again.
Kylo leaps down from the tower, landing on the slightly slanted side of the roof and marching toward the direction of the guest bedroom where the lawyer will be preparing for bed.
“Perhaps this dear fiancé of yours will be my first victim, Mr. Dameron.”
Poe, Kylo senses, has decided to busy himself shaving instead of going to bed simply to have something to distract himself. The young man is no doubt disturbed by the hauntingly soundless rooms, not eager to douse the lights and attempt to sleep.
Kylo doesn’t blame him. The walls of this castle most certainly hold many ghosts.
He stalks slowly up behind the man, watching his careful focus as he drags the small blade down his neck. Kylo’s hands curl into fists as he sees the pulse beating gently in Poe’s neck, the warm blood running beneath the skin of his throat…
The floor creaks slightly as Kylo’s boots lay gently against the old wooden planks.
Poe freezes for a moment, and Kylo can sense his heart flutter to a brief stop as his eyes stare into the mirror with panic.
But, as Kylo knows, Poe sees nothing but himself and an empty room in the reflection, putting his jumbled nerves at slight ease once again.
Kylo is standing only about a foot behind him when he goes back to shaving.
“Having trouble getting to bed tonight, Mr. Dameron?”
The blade digs sharply into his skin as the lawyer nearly leaps ten feet into the air, yelping after the small scalpel had plucked at his neck, resulting in a sharp red line marking the spot.
Kylo’s attention is fixed on the thick ruby colored liquid beginning to leak from the wound, slowly spreading wider as it pools from the cut on Poe’s throat.
Poe hardly seems to notice his wound, instead busy looking between the mirror and the man that is standing directly behind him, yet missing from the reflection in the glass.
Kylo slowly moves himself to the side, the scent of young, fresh blood displaying itself right at his fingertips driving his senses mad. He can feel the ages of thirst commanding him to sink his teeth into this easy victim’s neck and drain his life.
“How did you… how long were you standing there?!” he exclaims, his hands shaking as his wide eyes gaze in horror at Kylo.
“Are the… accommodations to your liking?” Kylo asks, sending a wave of calm over the man to still his hysteria.
Poe’s arms drop to his side, and Kylo’s hand sweeps forward, stealing the blade out of his hand.
“You’ll want to take care of that,” Kylo nods, finding himself nearly having to gulp down the urge to take just one more step forward and rip the man’s throat out.
Poe turns, touching a hand to the cut on his neck, and quickly going to grab a rag, dipping it in some water.
In the two quick seconds that Poe is distracted, Kylo turns, lifting the blood tipped blade to his lips, licking up the succulent liquid in a flash, until the blade is gleaming without a spot of red.
Kylo’s body hums in approval, a low growl forming in his chest as he feels a bit of strength returning to his starved being.
Young blood… just a drop gives him so much power, pleasure…
What would the girl’s blood taste like?
His instincts pull him forward, teeth aching to break through the skin of the man’s neck.
But those same instincts immediately force him to jolt away after he’s taken a step closer, only to see the glint of a cross that falls forward, previously hidden behind the man’s shirt.
Kylo represses a hiss of discontent, his body going rigid once sighting the spiteful object.
Poe doesn’t seem to notice, continuing trying to stop the bleeding from his cut.
“You’ll want to make sure that heals properly, Mr. Dameron,” Kylo warns, though he’s not sure what exactly he’s warning the man against.
The blade appears back in Poe’s hand as Kylo vanishes away, leaving the man confused and disturbed by the harrowing interaction.
Kylo feels the familiar heat of anger burn through him, reinvigorated by the small amount of blood that had been able to bring back a bit of his old strength.
He becomes one with the thick mist in the night air, traveling down to the depths of the castle, to the graveyard-like corridors where dirt covered coffins hide the three women he had turned centuries ago.
These are Ren’s brides. Three young women he had found around his second century of life, when his solidarity had awakened some kind of deep thirst in him that he didn’t know how to fulfill. A thirst for something more than blood. He refused to call it anything as ridiculous as loneliness or emptiness. He revelled in having no feeling towards anything in his heart anymore. It made life so much easier than it had been when he was human. But he decided perhaps there was someone who could understand what he wants. Or at least someone he could force to understand.
Alas, the women quickly outgrew his interest after he had turned them and they derailed into becoming nothing but lustful, mindless things that he soon began using for nothing more than servants whenever it is most convenient.
He gives his call, awakening the brides from their light sleep. They rise from their coffins at their master’s call and float elegantly to kneel before him, their cream colored nightdresses flowing behind them, making the phantom appearance of the three devils even more ghostly, while Kylo clutches his cape close to him, a silent signal that he is not here to play.
“The man is yours for the next few nights,” Kylo speaks to the brides in their demon-like tongue. “You may feed from him briefly. Keep him weak. Make sure he is incapable of leaving his room.”
His eyes narrow warningly, the fiery look capturing the three excitable brides’ immediate attention.
“But you will not kill him. He belongs to me. Have your fun, but do not damage him permanently.”
The brides whine in disappointment, knowing there won’t be enough blood now to satisfy the three of them adequately. But they know better than to test their master’s wrath.
“Go,” he orders, nodding sharply.
The brides take flight, their laughter shrieking harshly against the stone walls, echoing through the palace. Kylo knows the lawyer surely hears it, and wonders what he thinks the source of the haunting noise is.
It doesn’t matter much now. Soon he will be unable to think at all. The brides will numb his mind as well as his body, keeping him weakened until Kylo can return back from Takodana and complete the man’s transformation.
Poe won’t be in much pain during this time. The brides are quite seductive and experts in keeping their male victims docile. Kylo suspects the young lawyer will be under the illusion that he is in a dream for the duration of his stay here.
Kylo leaves the dungeons, venturing outside once more, this time beyond the castle walls.
To any onlooker, he would appear as a formidable black mass in the sky, no shape or form, but still with the essence of evil. A sight that is not unknown to the people of Alderaan by now, and therefore making it difficult to find a victim.
But no matter. He only needs one more. Just a touch more strength to prepare him for his long journey to Takodana. Things will be much different there. The people of that distant land know nothing of him. They are powerless against him, helpless to stop him.
There, he will create his army. An army of servants incapable of betraying him, unable to do anything but answer to his every command. He’d already begun with the first lawyer who’d come here. Now with Mr. Dameron.
And she will be next.
It was comfort he thought he’d been seeking when he created the brides. But perhaps it was this plan. This plan, that would finally make him truly unstoppable.
He keens with delicious excitement at this thought.
From his position in the sky, Kylo finally spots a curled up figure huddling in an abandoned alleyway, their only source of warmth coming from the plywood and trash that had gathered to nest him.
Kylo begins lowering himself from the sky, his eyes and instincts set on his final victim of Alderaan.
The boy is young, probably only barely having reached manhood. Homeless, no doubt, without the option to shut himself in his home as all the others did. Abandoned by his family perhaps. Kylo doesn’t really care.
Still, as low as his heart has sunk, he never once relished in the murder of children. There is simply no joy in it for the most part.
He will make it quick.
Chapter 4: A Perfect Life
Rey’s eyes open to the vivid white sunlight bouncing off the walls in her guest bedroom. It takes her a moment to remind herself that she isn’t in her usual guest bedroom at the Dameron’s. She thought she’d gotten used to it by now, it’s been almost a week since she’s been staying with the Tico’s.
She remains within the soft pearl colored sheets for a while, letting herself wake up properly, and trying to remember the dream she had just woken from.
It had been similar to the one she’d been having for the past few nights. At first, they had been like all her other dreams that had returned her back to Jakku. The calming, empty desert surrounding her from every angle while she relished in the isolation. But suddenly, someone… or something was suddenly there with her.
It was cold, whatever it was. And dark, which contrasted greatly with the golden warmth Rey usually felt from the sun in her old home.
She can’t remember much else than the presence just being there with her. Watching her.
But last night had been different.
She couldn’t quite see anything this time. But as she stood, alone in the desert, she’d felt the presence again. And a voice.
It had whispered her name at first. As if trying to coax her toward something, until the voice began to rise into a demanding, threatening tone. Something that wanted to hurt her. But it then melted into a desperate plea, as if the voice were calling out to her for help.
That voice… even now, awake and in reality, Rey almost feels a yearning to soothe whoever that was calling for her.
She sighs sleepily reaching up to rub her eyes awake and then stretch her arms.
Perhaps she isn’t eating enough dinner. Poe once told her dreams are easily affected by whatever you eat before going to bed. And it is ever so annoying to forget one’s dreams, and then linger on it for the rest of the morning.
After she’s gotten up (electing to skip breakfast since she’d stayed in bed so late) Rey has help from the servants getting laced up in her lilac blue dress, then works to pin all of her hair up away from her face and off of her neck.
She’s gotten used to the proper dress that women wear around here, but she still finds it ridiculous that women choose to take so long to prepare for the day.
The first thing she does, as always, is check to see if any letters have arrived from Poe.
In the week he has been away, they’ve received nothing aside from the initial letter addressed to her and his parents, assuring them he survived the sea voyage and is alive and well. But nothing since.
Rey knows it is ridiculous to expect a letter detailing every single day he is away, yet still she worries. Being alone her whole life, it was easy to attach herself to the man who had rescued her and gave her this amazing new life. And that has always made it all the more harder to be away from him.
Once the servants assure her multiple times that there have been no letters delivered at the Dameron residence, Rey resigns herself to the study, sitting at the desk in front of the typewriter and preparing to write yet another letter to her fiancé.
She of course never sends any of the letters she writes. Just one, responding to the first she had received. Now, writing to him has become more like jotting down all her feelings in a diary.
“Rey! Rey, are you writing on that infernal thing again?”
Rey smiles to herself before turning to see Rose enter the room.
One of the main reasons Rose Tico had easily become Rey’s closest friend was because she didn’t seem to fit into this proper image that society had thrust upon them.
Rose always wore her hair loose around the bare skin of her shoulders that her flowing gowns always left revealed. Today she has on a light green one that glitters slightly as she runs into the study.
“Just because you don’t know how to use modern technology doesn’t make it infernal,” Rey replies quietly, grinning up at her best friend as she runs up next to the desk.
Rose grabs both of Rey’s hands, kneeling down beside her.
“Where were you at breakfast this morning?” Rose sighs dramatically, as if it were the most preposterous thing that Rey hadn’t been there for the morning eggs and cornbread.
“I slept in,” Rey answers her, turning back towards the typewriter.
“Well, that’s a shock,” Rose huffs. “Usually, you’re up before the sun trying to see if there are any letters arrived from your dear true love…”
Rose tilts her head back as she gasps with exaggeration, causing Rey to roll her eyes.
“I’m starting to think there’s no point,” she replies, though with significantly less playfulness in her voice than Rose has.
“Oh, don’t be so depressing!” Rose insists. “Perhaps something will arrive later this afternoon.”
“I suppose so. We never really did talk about how much we would keep in touch.”
“Listen, if it makes you feel any better, the only thing that came for me today was the newspaper. What am I going to do with a newspaper, I mean, I hardly even read any of the books in this house…”
“What was in the paper?”
Rose almost looks surprised Rey would be interested.
“Oh… well, I don’t know, I told you, I never read the paper. I’ll get it for you if you want it though, I just tossed it on one of the chairs in the kitchen…”
Rey grins to herself as she goes back to writing her letter while Rose rushes off to fetch the paper.
My Dearest Love,
You were right, living here with Rose is certainly a bit of a change, but not in the way you predicted. People seem to not care much about what I do here. I spend hours alone, or with Rose, no one else. Of course, I am so grateful to have the attentions of your friends and family back home, but it’s almost reminiscent to have all of this time alone, like I used to all the time in Jakku.
I know you thought I’d be overwhelmed by the Ticos’ extravagant lifestyle, but being as close with Rose as I am, her family’s overwhelming amount of money hardly affects our days. Her parents are out of town for the next few months, so that makes it all the more easier for us to act as we wish.
I am very worried about your well being, but I know I always worry too much about you. I used to worry you wouldn’t return whenever you’d go into the office when I first moved in with your family. I know I can get a bit unrealistic, though I do wish I’d get another letter from you. Maybe one just for me, even though I know that’s quite selfish. I know you have others who adore you and need to know what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
“Got it!” Rose hollars, skipping back into the study. “Here you are, my love,” she sighs, plopping the bundle of paper down on the desk beside the typewriter.
“Thank you,” Rey nods over to her, but keeping her eyes on her letter, deciding if maybe she should try to send it.
“Oh, Rey, you will not believe the night I had last night,” Rose sighs, laying herself out on one of the couches.
“Do tell,” Rey pleads, moving her attention to the newspaper, picking it up from the desk.
“Well, for one thing, I was up for hours trying to answer all these love letters from Mr. Wexley, you know, that fellow who’s visiting here from Dantooine. He has developed the most intense fascination with me, and I can’t even begin to describe how-”
“Dear Lord,” Rey gasps, her eyes racing through the headline on the front page. “Rose, did you see this?”
“There’s been a horrid shipwreck, just last night. The Finalizer, it docked at Whitby Bay, but the entire crew was deceased.”
Rey’s heart beats faster as she continues reading the unbearable story.
“It says they were… killed…”
“Well, that’s just terrible,” Rose answers matter of factly. “You see, this is part of why I don’t care to read the paper. What kind of ship was it?”
“It was… just a cargo ship. They think perhaps there was some kind of animal on board that… goodness.”
Rey quickly tosses the paper away once the story begins describing exactly how all the men had been found.
Rey knows Poe has nothing to do with whatever ship this is, but hearing this news while Poe is so far away and will be taking a similar ship home… it’s news that she would have preferred not to hear about.
“You can’t linger on those things, Rey,” Rose tells her, leaning forward to gaze at her seriously with her big round eyes. “It will drive you absolutely mad. You know Poe is alright.”
Do I? Rey wonders.
“I suppose you’re right,” Rey breathes, trying to straighten out her nerves. “Then I suppose I shall just shut myself in the house until Poe gets back then.”
“Well, that’s what you’ll be doing tonight,” Rose grins excitedly.
Of course. Rose is having a party at the house this evening, inviting practically every rich family in the area, which is quite a bit.
“I don’t think any of your friends ever notice me at your parties,” Rey suggests, reaching over to remove the paper she had been working on from the typewriter.
“Well you can’t expect anyone to get to know you when you’re always huddled in the corner on your own,” Rose points out. “Really, I know you haven’t grown up around these people, but it’s easy to establish yourself with them.”
“For you it might be.”
Rey stands and moves to toss the paper into the wastebasket after neatly folding it up.
It’s true, Rey never really talks to anyone at dinners or parties unless she’s asked something. People were only mildly interested in her when she first arrived here, but other than that, everyone seemed perfectly alright with leaving her be. And Rey doesn’t mind that so much either. Rose had been the only one who seemed interested to make her a permanent acquaintance.
“Anyway, there will be positively no moping about from you tonight,” Rose orders, her tone in mock firmness. “Tonight is a very important night for your dear friend. I could be made a fiancé.”
“Oh, is that so?” Rey questions, holding back a laugh as she returns to the desk. “And who is going to be making the offer tonight?”
Rose has had many suitors court her, and Rose, ever so flirtatious, gladly relished the attentions. But Rey is certain she will never see the day when Rose actually accepts any of the many grand marriage proposals showered upon her. She is definitely a young lady who prefers not to settle in with one man.
“There are three actually,” Rose replies, sticking her nose up teasingly.
“Three?” Rey laughs in disbelief. “Why Rose, how could you have possibly gained the notice of three men all at once?”
“Well I can’t help it!” she insists as the two women giggle. “One of them is that man I was just telling you of, Temmin Wexley, the man from Dantooine.”
“Oh, right, of course.”
“He has become absolutely infatuated with me. I can’t understand it, I’d spoken to him one time, and then he began showing up at every event I was at, can you imagine?”
“You speak of very suggestive things when you talk,” Rey muses. “It puts thoughts in men’s heads that drive them mad for you, Rose.”
“What?” Rose gasps, her eyes wide with innocence. “Me?”
“Yes!” Rey insists as Rose begins giggling again.
Rey sometimes finds herself startled by Rose’s often careless way of speaking with men. She doesn’t seem to take things as seriously as men do.
“Who are the others?” Rey asks.
“The other is Mr. Ron Darvey, you know, the boy I went to school with. He has grown into quite the man, and has recently confessed to having harbored terribly strong feelings for me.”
“And the third?”
Rose’s eyes become a bit less bright as she gazes down at her hands clasped in her lap.
“The third hasn’t… technically offered me his hand. Yet.”
“No?” Rey gasps, surprised that any man Rose showed interest towards would reject her. She’s never seen it happen. “Who is it, you must tell me.”
“Well, we’ve flirted of course. Here and there, in his visits. We kissed only once. But I’m afraid Finn’s concerns remain mostly in his work rather than with me.”
“Finn Storm?” Rey questions in shock and confusion. “The doctor from Coruscant? You didn’t tell me you sought marriage from him.”
“Oh, but wouldn’t any woman?” Rose asks, her voice suddenly dreamy and yearning. “He’s kind, and smart, and such a gentleman. And he doesn’t make a fool of himself anytime he’s trying to impress me, which makes him certainly original.”
“Is he coming tonight?” Rey asks.
“I’ve sent him an invitation, and he said he’d be here. I hope he was able to make it, he’s nearly as far away as Poe is.”
“If he offers you his hand, do you think you’ll accept it?” Rey asks seriously, now feeling a tremor of excitement for her friend.
Rose just shrugs, pursing her lips.
“I might. If I were in the mood.”
Her eyes go wide in an instant, almost making Rey jump as she suddenly stands from the couch, rushing over to the large shelves of books on the wall.
“Speaking of being in the mood,” Rose breathes in that voice Rey recognizes as the voice she gets whenever she’s about to do something improper.
The young woman turns back around sharply once she’s grasped the book she was looking for, one that seemed to be shoved back between the rows of books and the wood of the shelf.
“Look what I happened upon yesterday during my studies,” she says breathlessly as she sits herself on the carpet, fluffing out her large green gown as Rey kneels down beside her.
The book looks average sized with blood red binding, with nothing on the front cover aside from a few words written in a language Rey doesn’t know, but she assumes Rose probably does.
“Oh, just you wait,” Rose replies, opening the book to the middle and flipping through the pages until she lands on whatever she’s looking for.
She then shoves the book onto Rey’s lap, and Rey begins reading through the paragraph on the page.
“Rose!” she breathes with incredulity as soon as she begins reading the extremely descriptive sexual act being described on the page.
“Oh don’t be a prude, you haven’t even gotten to the best part!” Rose taunts, nearly falling over with laughter at the expressions on Rey’s face.
“This is… this is smut,” Rey breathes quietly, her eyes scanning over the page, coming across many words she has never seen before, but can guess the meaning of.
“It’s entertainment. Especially for us lonely women. I expect my mother is the one who gets a good use of that old book.”
“Rose, you shouldn’t speak of your mother in such ways,” Rey tries to reprimand, but can’t contain her embarrassed laugh.
The story is describing a man and woman alone in the woods. For whatever reason, the both of them are naked, and the man has begun performing numerous acts on the woman who goes into great detail relaying everything that is happening to her.
“This is positively childish of us, Rose.”
“Well I notice you haven’t taken your eyes off it.”
Rey’s face grows even redder as she slams the book closed.
“What do you think that would feel like?” Rose continues, making Rey even more distressed. “The way he touched deep inside her like that-”
“Oh come on, it’s just us. I mean, I’ve done all kinds of things with men, but some of the things in this book surprise even me.”
“Rose, come now, what could you have possibly done with men?”
“All kinds of things!” she insists. “I’ve even done it in that exact position they were describing.”
“No you haven’t,” Rey denies before subconsciously opening the book once more.
“Well then, what have you done? With your dashing Poe Dameron?”
Rey stops for a moment to consider the question.
She never really thought about those kinds of things. Of course she had feelings like that, but she’s never pictured actually doing them.
She never really felt the urge to.
“We’ve kissed,” Rey tells her. “That’s all,” she says firmly at Rose’s expression.
“Actually, I do believe you, knowing how courteous Mr. Dameron is. Do you think you’ll do it on your wedding night?”
“Rose, my mind doesn’t particularly linger on such things,” Rey tells her, handing her the book back, her thoughts deep in her own mind now.
Something in her feels odd when Rose mentions her fast approaching wedding. Maybe she’s never really thought about it deeply before. Initially, she was just relieved that she would soon be married to this amazing man who turned her life into a fairytale.
In going along with that fairytale, her happy ending should be marrying the man she loves. Everything will just be perfect after that.
But now, as Rey takes a moment to think about what will come after this amazing feat, she feels confused.
What if there is more out there, she thinks, aside from marriage? She hasn’t really done much else, though it feels like she has with the incredible turn her life had taken all those years ago. She hasn’t seen the rest of the world. What if there are other things it has to offer her?
She starts shaking these thoughts off as quickly as they had come over her.
How silly to think of such things when she has a perfectly comfortable life waiting here right in front of her.
Rose’s parties always start late at night, after dinner time when the sun has set all the way. This is why mostly men are the ones to show up while their wives are readying themselves for bed.
The Tico household is a goldmine for parties. It’s so big, it practically already looks like a ballroom on a normal night, without all the decorations. It was for that reason, paired with the fact that the Tico’s are a well established family in Takodana, that practically every socialite in the area would show up whenever rumor of a gathering went around.
Rey, as usual, stays off to herself in a corner of the sitting room with a glass of wine in her hands, though enjoying herself as she watches the many party guests mulling about the house, the men tripping over themselves trying to greet Rose.
Rose, of course, is juggling the attentions of Mr. Ron Darley and Temmin Wexley as they both try out doing each other for her affections. Eventually, Dr. Finn Storm shows up as well, though he of course is significantly less eager and foolish when charming Miss Rose Tico.
Rose has on one of her outrageous gowns that looks to Rey as if it weighs more than she does. An enormous, ivory colored glittery thing, it covers every inch of her, even crawling up her neck which looks quite uncomfortable, but a large section on her chest is purposely left free, which forcefully draws attention to that section of her body.
It contrasted greatly with Rey’s simple blue and white lace gown she would usually wear for tea with Poe’s mother.
Rey takes a sip of her wine, leaning up against the corner of the wall as she grins, watching Mr. Wexley nearly go crashing to the floor after tripping on the grand rug below the coffee table he had been sitting at with Rose and the other men. He seemed to have been trying to rush off and get her more wine.
Rose looks almost humorous clambering after him in her gigantic gown.
Rey hardly received such adoration from men. Everyone either knew she was engaged, or simply didn’t notice her. She doesn’t stand out as admirable in a society such as this, she supposes. But sometimes she finds herself wishing, if only for a moment, that people showered her with such attention.
Watching parties from the corner of rooms is entertaining, but lonely nonetheless.
To Rey’s surprise, Finn happens to catch her eye, and he nods in greeting from his place at the table while Rose is fawning over poor Mr. Wexley.
Rey nods back, offering him a small smile, maybe of sympathy. She’s only briefly met him a few times as he and Poe were apparently close friends, but she’s always found the quiet man to be seemingly kind hearted.
Her breath stops in her throat as her entire body freezes, her ears straining against the noise of the party to try and locate the loud whisper that sounded as if it had come from inside her head.
After standing looking like a horrified statue for a few moments, Rey slowly turns to glance out the long glass window in the sitting room that looks out into the mist-filled night.
And then she feels it again. The presence, the exact same from her dreams. But this time, it’s as if whatever it is, isn’t here in the room, but in her mind. Looking through her every thought, reading her.
She closes her eyes, opening herself to whatever it is calling to her, demanding her attention.
The noises of the party briefly drop away, a dull sound of nothing filling Rey’s ears. Her heartbeat picks up, and she feels as if the breath has been swept from her lungs.
“Rey… I’m coming for you, Rey.”
Her eyes open.
Her sensibility wants her to be frightened by the threatening voice. It had been almost animal-like in its promise.
But instead, she feels a small flicker of comfort. Though she doesn’t know why.
She wonders if she’s unknowingly become so lonely that she made up a presence in her head that was promising to come to her. The feeling that had invaded her mind didn’t feel like something that had wanted to harm her. It felt inviting.
“Lord, what has come over me?” she whispers to herself before gulping down another quick sip of wine.
Perhaps Poe had better return as soon as he can if his fiancé is losing her sense waiting for him Rey thinks frustratingly to herself. How frail must I be?
Chapter 5: The Mist
It’s a dream. Another dream…
Rey can’t remember falling asleep. But it’s been hours since she laid down in the soft white sheets of the bed, her tired eyes mindlessly staring out the window at the courtyard down in front of the mansion. The wind blowing against the tall trees from the forest just beyond the courtyard, casting long shadows along the stone garden.
After she has been gazing out at the empty, haunting image, as if waiting for something to happen, she nearly leaps out of her bed when she sees, what looks like a dull red puff of smoke come into view, floating off from the steps leading up to the house, and moving out towards the courtyard.
Rey sits up in bed, her eyes squinting down at the billowing red wisp that continues slowly flowing down along the courtyard.
She stands up, running closer to the window, pressing one hand up against the cold glass as she gazes down at the phantom like blot of blood red that is moving in a ghost-like fashion toward the forest.
Looking closer, Rey is able to make out two human arms stretching out from both sides of the wisp of red.
Now that her eyes have adjusted properly, she can see now the head of wispy black hair atop the cloud of red.
It’s Rose, wearing her red nightdress.
Barely having time to grab her cover up, Rey nearly trips over her own nightdress as she runs from her room, down the hallway to the stairway and not slowing for a moment until her bare feet are against the ice cold cement of the entryway outside.
She gasps, immediately hugging her arms around herself against the biting cold of the night air.
What could Rose be doing out here?!
“Rose!” Rey tries calling out as her friend begins leaving the courtyard, heading straight towards the woods. But Rey can hardly hear her own voice, the sound of the wind suddenly booming through her ears, as if there were a storm approaching.
She must be sleepwalking…
Rey grits her teeth against the cold as she steps out into the open, the wind immediately tugging at the light blue fabric of her nightgown as she charges her way across the courtyard, farther from the estate and closer to the pitch black forest.
“Rose, stop!” Rey screams through the wind, hesitating momentarily as she steps off of the stone and onto the grass, standing in front of the daunting tree line.
The only thing she can see is the scarlet fabric of Rose’s nightdress. The rest is like an empty void.
Taking a sharp breath, Rey marches past the tree line, following behind Rose as she continues floating, like a bizarre ghost through the dark trees.
Rey has to hold her arms out directly in front of her so as not to run into any of the thick tree trunks, trying to keep her eyes on the glowing fabric of Rose’s gown, which is now her only source of vision, surrounded by darkness.
She gets a feeling deep in her chest, like she does in all her nightmares when she knows something bad is about to happen. But she keeps moving forward, her eyes desperately staying on the flowing bundle of red that continues to float further and further away.
The sound of the wind blowing through the leaves sends a chilling whisper through the air, making Rey shiver even more as she refuses to look above or below herself, sure that sticks she feels brushing against her legs or the leaves falling into her hair are really arms reaching from the night, grabbing at her as she follows her friend.
For a while, Rey fears she has become stuck in some terrifying loop. Perhaps she has fallen into some circle of hell where she is destined to follow, what she thinks is Rose, for all eternity.
No… don’t be silly… this is just a dream…
Rey keeps repeating this in her head, pushing out the haunting sounds of the wind and the trees, refusing to let whatever is out here take over her mind with fear, bending her to its will.
These woods don’t go on forever. She knows that. Rose will have to stop eventually, sleepwalking or not.
Finally, as if this nightmare had been listening to her thoughts, she sees Rose’s now distant figure come to a stop.
She stands still, staring up at something obscured by the darkness as Rey stops only for a moment in surprised relief, before picking up her pace to catch up with her friend.
As her feet race against the soft dirt floor, Rey begins to notice a bright white colored mist slowly start to rise from the ground, as if being sucked up from the Earth. It begins to form a circle around Rose and herself, but Rey hardly takes notice, still positive that this all must be some bizarre dream.
“Rose,” she speaks at a normal level now, even though she can’t hear her own voice.
Rose is staring at something through the thick mist. Her nightdress is suddenly still, even though the breeze is still rushing around the trees, still pulling at Rey’s own gown.
Her eyes narrow in confusion as Rose rocks slowly back and forth on her feet, gazing, as if in a trance, at something invisible to Rey at first.
But her blood soon freezes in her veins when she begins to see just the outline of the figure standing before Rose in the mist.
It looks like a man… but it couldn’t be. In it’s stance, it’s presence, Rey senses something animalistic. Inhuman. The same aura she felt in her dreams before. The same feeling she got when the voice had spoken to her earlier this night.
Rey’s feet stay frozen into the ground, her eyes wide as she lightly clasps her hands in front of her, wanting to turn and run away, but finding herself hardly able to breathe, let alone move.
She knows whatever it is is looking at her. She feels its eyes sweeping over her body, followed by a small growl that rumbles through the trees.
“Rey,” it speaks in the same startling deep voice she had heard at the party. “Finally…”
Her spine curves in horror at the tone of his voice. It sounds almost human, but with an undertone of something… evil. Something that hungered for her…
The large, dark figure seems to momentarily turn his attention to Rose, an arm completely covered in black, reaching out from the mist, his hand touching fondly against the side of Rose’s head as the girl continues rocking back and forth, sighing contently.
“How amusing,” the man laughs darkly as he strokes along Rose’s hair as Rey feels his menacing eyes look back over toward her. “I sent out a call for you, my love… but your friend came to me instead.”
“Please,” Rey whispers, finding a wave of fear go over her, unsure if this thing intends to harm Rose. “Don’t hurt her. Please let her go.”
His hand freezes in Rose’s hair, and she suddenly stops her rocking in response, going stiff as a board.
He seems to consider something, taking a long moment of silence as Rey holds her breath, silently praying Rose will wake up and run.
“What would you do to save her, Rey?”
She gazes at him with horror, feeling the mist beginning to circle closer. She tries to ask him what he means, but the words are caught in her throat as she tries to convince her feet to start running.
“What would you do for me, my love?”
Rey forces herself to stop trembling and speak clearly with a small attempt at sounding intimidating.
“What do you want from me?” she asks, her voice now at least sounding audible through the wind.
“I don’t want anything,” the voice assures her. “Just you.”
His hand drops away from Rose, and he moves closer to Rey as her heart beats madly in her chest.
“I feel your fear Rey. I smell your blood racing. And yet… you’re fascinated by me.”
Rey immediately tries to deny this, shaking her head, feeling as if she needs to defend herself, even though she thinks he might be right.
She wants to see him. What he looks like. She wants to know what he is.
“I want you to come with me, Rey,” he speaks as she watches his hand slowly raise towards her, reaching out.
She gasps, feeling a pull on her mind, as if something were trying to break through.
“You don’t come from here,” he speaks as memories of Jakku suddenly resurface in her mind, as if he were pulling them from the deepest part of her memories. “You’re home is the desert from your dreams.”
He sounds curious as Rey is bombarded by images from her childhood that even she had forgotten. Memories of her as a girl, when she’d climb to the top of an old, rusted tower to look at the stars when she had felt lonely, wishing her family would just fall out of the sky and finally rescue her.
“You’re lonely,” the deep voice decides, his velvety tone sending a wave of something through Rey as he continues forcing his way through her head. “You want to belong here, but you know you don’t…”
“Stop,” Rey tries to shout, but her voice is weak.
“You want to be free. You feel trapped here.”
“I don’t!” she shouts, though it’s louder in her imagination than in reality.
“This isn’t what you really want. You want excitement… you want someone to make you feel pleasure…”
She feels something beginning to soothe her now. Her eyes are suddenly incapable of looking away from whatever is standing in front of her.
“Yes,” his voice echoes inside her head. “You want me… come to me…”
Rey feels herself want to obey. Something inside her is wanting to be taken over by whatever spell this demon is trying to cast on her. Most horrifyingly, she feels arousal at his words.
“No,” she defies, just barely holding onto her will.
He pushes harder, his presence persisting to invade her mind.
“No!” she screams, using all her strength to fight back against this creature. “You are the devil! Get out of my head!”
She pushes back, a strength she didn’t know she had suddenly overflowing within, allowing her to not only remove his grasp from her mind, but push herself into his own.
She is only there for a moment. She only sees one thing.
She gasps as the demon releases his hold, immediately shutting her out of his mind, though she feels his burning anger, confusion, and… fear?
Her eyes are wide as she stares in horror at this thing that had once been a man. The man she had caught a glimpse of in that brief second inside his mind.
“Ben?” she whispers.
The silence in the air is filled with a quiet tune of horror, though not from the prey this time, but the predator himself.
The voice that she hears now sounds more human. Afraid.
“Impossible,” his voice rises barely more than a whisper. “What are you?”
As if she were the black sorcerer that had these hellish powers. Rey wants to curse him.
But before she can open her mouth, his hand reaches out again, only for a moment this time, to wave through the air sharply.
Rey feels her eyelids close as if weights had been set upon them, and her body is soon falling slowly, surrounded by quiet darkness.
She never feels herself hit the ground of the forest.
The morning Rey awakes, she feels as if she’s slept an entire twelve hours this time.
Her limbs feel heavy as she tries sitting up in the bed she is in.
Where am I? she thinks to herself, suddenly alarmed that she can’t remember what happened the previous night.
Looking around after she has sat up a moment, breathing heavily in terror, she realizes she’s exactly where she’s been the past two weeks. Her guest room at Rose’s house.
As if a dam had broken, the events of last night all come flooding back. The party, the voice, the forest…
No. A dream…
Of course. She had another strange dream. That same presence was there… that horrid creature who turned out to be some kind of devil. Perhaps the devil himself.
Rey sits in stunned silence, still as a statue as she sits upright on the bed, staring off into nothing as she remembers every detail of the terrifying dream.
Why had it felt so real, she wondered. Even now, though her nightdress and hair and skin are perfectly vacant of any evidence, she can still feel the dirt against her feet, the twigs and leaves that had ripped at her hair and gown.
She still feels him. He lingers still in her mind, that wretched, yet reassuring sensation that he is still with her. Watching her.
Wanting to be rid of this lasting awareness, Rey removes herself from the isolation of the second floor, happy to hear commotion going on down in the dining room where Rose is having her breakfast.
“Slept late again, I see,” her voice rings out merrily before Rey has barely set foot in the large room that is well lit by the morning sun with all the curtains open.
Rose herself is sitting at the head of the table, looking as if she’s just finished her meal.
She’s wearing another one of her loose, flowing dresses, a crisp orange one this morning that looks a bit like dancing flames as the young woman jumps up from her chair and runs over to Rey, grabbing her hands eagerly.
“Isn’t today just lovely?” she hums, throwing her arms around Rey as if it were the most wonderful thing in the world.
“It’s quite alluring,” Rey teases, forcing a grin as she pulls back and stares at Rose.
She looks more delighted than Rey has ever seen her, and that isn’t a small feat.
“Is everything alright? Have you decided on a suitor or something?”
“Oh, you could say that,” Rose sighs, practically dancing and twirling her way back to the table as Rey follows cautiously behind her. “You could say I’ve had a revelation.”
“Is that it?”
“Mm hm,” she nods quickly as Rey sits in the chair beside her and Rose takes her hands once again.
“Darling, I had the most erotic dream last night…”
Rey at first is ready to berate her friend’s blatant openness here in the dining room where the staff can hear her, but the memory of her own dream has her staying silent in horror.
“I was in the woods… oh, the woods are so romantic, don’t you think? So mysterious and… well, there was this beautiful stranger… oh, he was so handsome, it was almost inhuman! We just stood there, in the mist. He was speaking in this lovely voice… I can’t even remember what he was saying, but he was… smiling and… his hands touched me everywhere, and… and when he kissed me, it felt as if the world had moved…”
Rey is unable to speak a word as Rose describes her fantastical dream. Without having to ask details about the stranger she had met in the forest, she knows exactly who Rose is speaking about.
“... come to think of it, I think you were there too,” Rose continues, her eyes squinting in confusion. “Or at least… he was talking about you. Well, I don’t know, the point is, this dream has helped me finally realize the man I am going to accept as my husband!”
Rey just nods, a strange feeling making her heart beat loudly once Rose had mentioned the man speaking of her.
“It’s going to be Ron! Ron Darvey!”
“Ron,” Rey repeats, feeling numbed.
“Yes! Oh, I know I made such a fuss about Finn, but after last night, Ron and I really talked, you know, about everything. I don’t know, it just all came back, all our memories, our history… I realized I just don’t know what I’ll do without him! So I was thinking and worrying all through the night about whether I was making the right decision, but I think this dream is trying to tell me that I am! Can you believe it, Rey, I’m going to be married! Is it not the most wonderful thing?”
Rey nods her head as Rose continues to jump for joy, going on about all her wedding plans, what her dress will look like, what cake she wants, and so on. But Rey can hardly hear anything over the low humming in her head, the sound that had been there when this “beautiful stranger” as Rose had called him, had tried forcing his way into her thoughts.
From afar, a safe enough distance from the estate, hiding in the shadows of the trees, Kylo watches.
He knows Rey can feel him, can sense his lingering presence. But of course she doesn’t know what it is, doesn’t know that he is in fact still here. Watching her.
Her strong resistance to his influence had taken him aback last night, but he realizes now that he shouldn’t have been so surprised. He knew there was something different about her the moment he had seen that picture of her, the moment he’d gotten a glimpse into her life when he had found himself transported to one of her dreams.
Yes. He has to have her. He will have her.
He knew she wanted him as well, deep down, where she has kept her secret desires well hidden. Yet Kylo knows she will probably not come to him willingly, her stubbornness far too strong.
He watches again as the other woman sitting at the table with her suddenly embraces her again, catching his poor little Rey off guard once more as she is pulled out of her horrified trance. No doubt thinking about him. Feeling him.
One of her weaknesses seems to be her bothersome little friend…
Knowing what he has to do now, Kylo morphs into the shadows, making himself no more than a flurry of night as he prepares to travel back to his dwelling.
In time, he will visit Rey once more. And if she refuses him again, there are many loved ones of hers that he can use to secure her compliance.
Chapter 6: The Master's Song
He will do it tonight.
Poe doesn’t know how long he’s been in the castle. Weeks, months, or maybe just days. It’s all blurred together to feel like years.
He slips in and out of consciousness, never leaving the guest bedroom, never able to even remove himself from the bed he had been thrown upon the night the three demon women came in through the window.
They stay with him throughout all hours of the night, casting their spell that forces him to stay in a dream-like state while they drain small amounts of his blood every night to keep him weak.
He is only alone once the sun rises. Yet all throughout the day, he feels the lingering of their curse, forcing him to sleep or at least stay dazed enough to be unable to think clearly.
But the past few times, they’d gotten lazy.
Thinking him a lifeless vessel by now, they hadn’t bothered leaving him in a tranced state when they left him. They simply drained more of his blood.
So one morning, Poe had forced himself off the bed.
He crawled to the window, looking down the hundred foot drop to the ground.
He knew there was no escape that way.
So the next day, he gathered enough strength to make it out into the hallway.
He crawled like a scurrying mouse, desperate to find an unlocked door to another room, terrified the women might hear him.
But they never came. He never saw them in the light.
He found a door that opened, leading into an empty room covered in cobwebs and dust. Poe practically choked on the air when he thrust himself inside.
He clamored to the window that now looked out to behind the great castle.
Here, he finally saw hope.
A large river. A river that goes on far beyond the damned castle, a river that would surely take him all the way to Coruscant, which was the next closest country to this.
Poe knows it will be a treacherous journey, more so now that most of his blood has been drained and he feels barely alive as it is. But he doesn’t care. He knows nothing could be worse than whatever limbo he has become trapped in.
He had to wait one more night, praying the women wouldn’t decide to finish him off this time, or somehow catch onto his plan and put some other kind of spell on him to blind him of his senses.
But tonight goes as it usually does.
Poe is able to stay more awake and aware as he has the past few nights, but he pretends as if he’s just as docile and helpless as he was in the beginning.
The moment they leap from the window, whisking themselves away just before the sun spills over the horizon, Poe propels himself away from the bed and towards the hallway, not wanting to waste a second of daylight.
He hasn’t seen Ren in all this time, and assumes he’s gone off to Takodana by now. For whatever reason, Poe figures he had wanted the women to keep him imprisoned here. Lord knows what the devilish man is planning.
Poe is terrified he’ll miss his footing and fall immediately to his death once he steps out of the window onto the stone ledge outside the castle. But once again, it is a risk he is more than willing to take now.
Limbs shaking violently the whole way, Poe does his best to grab ahold of the stone gargoyles, whose twisted, mangled faces and claws surely would have terrified him at night, and lowers himself further and further until he reaches a reasonable distance to jump.
Poe remembers breaking his arm once when he was a boy after leaping off from a pile of crates in a workshop while fooling about with his school friends. That distance was surely shorter than the distance he is about to jump from now, but seeing as his vision is starting to dance and he feels as if he could lose consciousness completely at any moment, he knows now is the time to jump.
Not even having the energy to take a deep breath, Poe propels himself from the side of the castle, keeping his eyes on the water, pretending he is in a dream, and keeping in mind those demons who will continue draining his blood and bringing him ever closer to death should he stay here a moment longer.
Thankfully, the blast of cool water shocks Poe significantly, making him feel as if a jolt of electricity had been sent though his heart, reviving him back into a far more aware state than he had been the past few days or weeks, or however long he’s been here.
He gasps in surprise and relief as he resurfaces, thanking God he at least still has enough strength to keep himself from drowning in the choppy water.
Not taking a moment to waste, he begins slicing through the life saving water, ready to swim for days on end with his newfound energy, counting on the adrenaline and will to survive being enough to get him all the way to Coruscant, thankfully with the current on his side.
For the first few hours, Poe keeps his determination strong, knowing that if he just keeps going, the tall, shining buildings of the city will come into view.
But after the sun sets and he realizes the demons must know he’s escaped by now, his mind starts to wonder whether or not this is another cruel trick. Perhaps he is stuck in some other kind of hell, though this one far worse than before. Will he go on and on through a never ending river, hoping to see a glimmer of Coruscant on the horizon, but never seeing anything but the long stretch of river accompanied by a seemingly dead forest?
He tries not to stop too often to rest against the leverage of the forest floor, feeling as if something would leap out from the woods and take him should he stay and rest his tired body too long.
However, the worst parts of the journey are whenever the forest disappears, cutting off into a long path of open water that Poe fears will never end, trapping him until he can’t go on any longer and simply sinks below the surface with no place to rest.
But it’s the next morning, early, just as the sun begins to peek up through the heavy morning clouds, letting the world glow a dim shade of purple, when a glint of something finally catches Poe’s eye.
He is sure he is hallucinating at this point, but pushes himself along the river faster than before, his chest frozen with hope as his eyes desperately cling to whatever he had seen up ahead, miles away from him.
In the hour it takes him to finally get close enough to clearly see, Poe is sure he’s entered the gates of heaven.
He had never taken much to Coruscant whenever he visited. The country is all one large city, consisting of buildings too tall to see beyond, leaving him feeling rather trapped within the steel embrace of thousands of factories and offices.
But today, Poe could have wept at the beautiful sight of the promise of civilization.
He fades in and out of consciousness as a group of men preparing a ship near the dock catch sight of him, no doubt thinking him to be a corpse at first before they pull him onto land.
Poe wants to embrace all of them lovingly, feeling as if he hasn’t seen another human being in ages. But more than that, he longs for a familiar face.
“Finn,” he breathes, his own voice sounding alien to him.
“Finn?” one of the men questions in confusion as they all look over him to see if he has any injuries. “What’s Finn?”
“Take me to Finn,” Poe manages out, his words trembling as he feels darkness flooding him once again.
“Finn Storm, perhaps,” Poe hears another one of the men conclude as he begins to fall into unconsciousness again. “The doctor!”
The next time Poe wakes up, he feels better than he has in ages.
He’s surrounded by warmth, he feels like he’s slept for two weeks, and a glimpse of his energy feels finally restored.
He’s almost reluctant to open his eyes, fearing that this lovely bliss is just a dream and he’ll wake up returned to his personal hell.
His heart nearly melts at the gentle voice that calls out to him.
He begins raising himself up from the heavenly bed he had been resting in, only to feel his body yanked into a desperate embrace.
Poe returns Finn’s gesture, wrapping his arms around him and burying his face against the man’s neck.
“When they brought you in, I thought you were dead,” Finn chokes, sounding as if he’s holding back a sob.
“I’m starting to finally believe I’m not,” Poe replies, almost cheerfully.
They hold the embrace much longer than usual, but Poe finds he doesn’t really want to let go. And based on how tightly Finn is holding him, Poe can guess he is feeling the same.
Poe’s eyes gaze warmly upon Finn’s face when they finally pull apart, though Finn’s arms still linger around his waist.
“It’s been…” Poe racks his brain to try and recall the last he and Finn had seen each other face to face.
“Too long,” Finn answers, dropping his arms from Poe’s waist and tearing his eyes away from his, as if he had suddenly realized the position they were in.
“What happened to you?” he asks, walking back to the other side of the room, where his desk is.
Glancing around, Poe realizes he must be in Finn’s bedroom above the hospital where he works.
“That’s why I needed to find you,” Poe begins, reaching his hands up to rest against his head. “Finn, I… I’m afraid I’m going mad.”
“What are you talking about? Poe, you were hurt… you must have been shipwrecked on your way back to Takodana…”
“No,” Poe denies, shakily trying to extract himself from the bed.
“Don’t,” Finn protests, rushing back over to him and easing him back onto the bed. “You need rest…”
“Finn, I’ve seen terrible things,” Poe continues, grabbing into Finn’s shirt. “At the castle… at Ren’s castle.”
Finn’s eyes suddenly turn as dark and fearful as Poe’s own expression.
“Kylo Ren? The lord you were meeting with?”
“Finn, the country’s a ghost town. I hardly saw a single person, and the people I did see… I don’t think they were people at all.”
“They’re demons, Finn,” Poe continues when the doctor doesn’t reply. “Demons that drank my blood and kept me hostage… they were working for Ren, I’m sure… he wanted me dead, or under his spell, or something…”
Poe doesn’t even care that he’s rambling at this point, positive that by now he’s absolutely lost it. He’s comforted that it’s at least a close friend and doctor that he’s ranting to.
“It’s the most terrifying place I’ve ever been… I felt as if I’d slowly entered hell. I wasn’t sure if I was alive or dead.”
When Finn doesn’t answer still, Poe almost becomes angry. He at least expected Finn to tell him how insane he’s actually become.
He doesn’t say a word until he’s wandered over to the side of the small bedroom, his eyes looking almost haunted. Afraid to be hearing these words from Poe’s mouth.
“How exactly did you escape?” Finn asks him finally as he gazes out the window down into the busy city.
Poe nearly falls off the bed.
“I… I jumped out a window,” he answers. “Into the river. It carried me here… Finn, please, have you been hearing all these things I’m telling you? I’m crazy, I need help, I-”
“A week ago I would have agreed with you,” Finn says, his voice surprisingly calm given the circumstances. “But now, I… I’m afraid you might be quite sane.”
Now Poe does leap up from the bed.
“Finn, are you hearing yourself?” he demands, grabbing the man by the arms and turning him around roughly to face him. “These… hallucinations I’m having are absurd! There’s no way I-”
“I’m going to take you to see Armitage Hux,” Finn tells him somberly, his hand reaching up to touch against Poe’s shoulder.
Poe is at a loss for words, his mouth hanging open slightly as he recalls that he isn’t the first man to visit Ren’s castle.
“I think after you speak to him, you’ll find the two of you have something in common.”
Finn had kept Hux in solitary confinement since the day the crazed man arrived here. He had been found wandering the forests, only a few miles from Coruscant, muttering nonsense to himself, his clothes torn, his hair ravaged, looking as if all the life had been drained from his body.
Finn thought that was a sight at the time, but nothing compared to how the man looks now.
The cackling, rodent-like creature that grazed in the cell now, is hardly a flicker of the man that had once been Armitage Hux. Finn had gone through all the usual treatments to prevent this, but he can safely say he’s never seen a case like this in his time.
Finn had taken all of Hux’s ramblings to be side effects of whatever fever he had caught in Alderaan. Ravings of a master to serve, screaming for a feast of insects and rats rather than the standard food that was served to him, scratching at the walls until his fingernails were gone when he was refused his dinner request.
After a few days of this, Finn began to put together a pattern, figuring that the “master” Hux was describing must have been Kylo Ren, the man he had gone to visit in Alderaan to discuss matters of an estate in Takodana. Finn had pondered why this particular hallucination had taken over the man’s mind, but as he got deeper into his research and closer to the truth, he began to chillingly suspect the true matter of what is going on.
“Good God,” Poe breathes as he looks past the bars to where the thin, ghostly white man is huddled in the corner, clawing at the ground to gather up spiders as he usually does. “Finn, what has happened to him? I thought he had just gotten a fever!”
“As did I,” Finn acknowledges. “Hux! You have a visitor!”
The man hops toward the bars of the cell, leaping like an animal as he hisses excitedly.
The sharp white of his skin is covered with dirt, as is his red hair, which is tangled and matted around his head. He wears no shoes, making his feet look hardly human as they dig through the dirt and grime of the cell, almost giving off the appearance of talons curling into the floor.
Poe nearly backs right into Finn as Hux throws himself against the bars, his wild eyes crawling over him.
“Do you know who this is?” Finn asks him, keeping a close watch on the man’s reaction when he finally recognizes his fellow employee.
“Oh,” the man sighs, his eyes going dark for a moment before lighting up with amusement. “The Master won’t be pleased his plan has been changed…”
“What on Earth is he talking about?” Poe asks as Hux continues to growl and hum to himself, hanging off the bars.
“You defied the Master,” Hux cackles, a chilling sound that echoes hauntingly through the hallway of the hospital. “Now you will be punished…”
“What did the Master want with him?” Finn asks, ignoring Poe’s baffled expression as he stares between the doctor and the deranged man.
“Hmmmm… the Master wants him… wants him like he wants me… we are all to be his servants…”
“How do you know this?” Finn continues to question him, his suspicions beginning to be confirmed. “The same way you knew about the shipwreck?”
Hux lets out another frightening chuckle that Finn can see makes Poe’s spine go rigid.
“I told you, doctor,” he answers in his raspy voice. “The Master tells me all… he will reward me… I’m so glad he found me…”
“Ren,” Poe gasps in realization. “Your master is Kylo Ren.”
Hux looks to him with a knowing grin curled around his mouth.
“You’ve seen him,” he smiles at his former colleague. “You’ve seen the power he has… the power he’ll give me one day once I’ve finished proving my loyalty…”
“So Poe is a part of the Master’s plan?” Finn asks, hoping against hope that Hux will finally reveal more information.
But he just shakes his head, his dirt covered hair flopping gently as he does so.
“Can’t tell,” he hums. “Can’t tell, can’t tell, can't tell…”
“Finn, what… what is going on… we can’t be having the same hallucinations, I… am I going to turn into-”
Finn gently puts his arm around Poe’s back to calm him, gazing at him reassuringly.
Poe takes a deep breath in an attempt to calm his nerves while Finn turns back to Hux.
“This Master… he is real,” Finn says to Hux, who nods eagerly in response. “He’s no hallucination, no illness.”
“You will see,” Hux giggles in a child-like fashion. “You will see when he comes…”
“Can you tell me again what happened to the ship? The Finalizer that docked at Whitby Bay a few mornings ago?”
Hux begins a slow laugh again.
“Oh… the Master arrived…”
“Tell me what happened to the crew.”
“The sun went down…. they didn’t see him coming… he moves with the shadows you know… through their blood, he was sustained.”
“And the Captain?” Finn questions over Hux’s excited, almost celebratory laughter.
“The Captain… foolish man. Thought he could fight the Master off… but the Master struck him through the chest and threw him right over the wheel. The wheel of the ship…”
Without warning, Hux throws himself up against the bars once more, looking as if he were trying to fly right through them as his mad eyes gaze upon Poe.
“He knows!” the man exclaims gleefully, cackling hysterically as Finn gently pulls Poe away from the cell. “He knows! He knows you’ve cheated him now! Look!”
Poe follows Hux’s arm that is pointing out of the small window of his cell that is now showing the sun in its final moments before disappearing below the horizon.
“When the moon comes up, he hunts,” Hux whispers. “You should hope he won’t hunt for you tonight…”
Finn and Poe sit in silence for a while in Finn’s office as he slowly begins gathering all the evidence he had conjured up over the past few days to try and explain all of this to Poe.
“What are you trying to tell me?” Poe asks as he sits in the lounging chair beside the bookshelf, one hand raised to rest against his head as his horrified eyes stare straight down into the floor. “Are Hux and I somehow… infected with the same disease, or-”
“It’s no disease,” Finn answers him. “And I think you know that.”
Poe just shakes his head, the rest of his body remaining stiff as a board.
“Then what. Is happening.”
“Poe if you just… if you allow yourself to be open minded, I can try to explain what I think is going on.”
Finn can tell Poe knows the outrageousness of the explanation he’s going to give.
“I didn’t believe a word of what Hux was saying until I received news of the shipwreck.”
Finn places the newspaper from that morning on his desk, and Poe glances over from where he’s sitting.
“The night before, Hux had told me that his master was planning on making a journey to his destination. That he’ll regain life by draining the blood of the crew of the vessel. And the next morning, this paper arrives.”
Poe finally rises from the chair, walking cautiously over to the desk, gazing over the paper as if he really doesn’t want to see what it says.
“There’s no way Hux has access to any newspaper where he is,” Finn continues. “I went in to visit him before the staff could even serve him his breakfast. I wanted to be sure there was no way he could hear even the slightest gossip of this shipwreck. So I went in and asked him to tell me exactly what his master did. What happened to all those men.”
Finn can tell Poe probably got to the part of the story detailing the horrific death of the captain who had had something impaled through his chest before being skewered on the wheel of the ship.
“He described all of these deaths as if he’d been there himself,” Finn tells Poe, still hardly able to believe this impossibility himself. “And now… well, he seemed to know about you escaping as well…”
“What does this mean? Ren really does have some sort of… power.”
“I expect, from what you described, he wasn’t a normal seeming gentleman?”
The confirmation comes from the pale color Poe’s face turns when Finn mentions Kylo Ren.
“I’ve looked into these kinds of… symptoms, for lack of a better word. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I think… I think Ren does have Hux under some kind of spell.”
“Well, what is he then, a sorcerer?” Poe asks, almost as if he’s trying to be sarcastic, but there is a hint of terror behind his words.
“Of many things, yes,” Finn replies, peaking Poe’s curiosity more as he suddenly looks up at him from the newspaper.
Finn reaches for a book that’s been opened on his desk for the past week or so now. He closes it, shoving it towards Poe, who stares at the title with a look of apprehension.
“Vampires,” he half chuckles, though Finn can still detect that hint of frightened belief in his tone. “Finn, you surprise me. You’ve been doing your research in fantasy stories.”
“Maybe they’re not as fantastical as you think. Poe… there is a legend of a man from centuries ago, all the way back to medieval times, who used to terrorize Alderaan, feeding off people's blood. They called him Kylo Ren, a devil of the night. It says he used to be a cruel ruler who killed mercilessly. He even turned against his own men, slaughtering them all, and giving himself to the powers of hell. Some of them he would hypnotize, get them to do his bidding… and then he’d turn them into creatures of the night.”
“It’s a legend, Finn, there’s no-”
“Where do you think this legend comes from? And what other explanation is there for this… thing you encountered in that castle? It all fits, it can’t be all just a horrible coincidence.”
Poe takes a moment, letting everything settle in his mind. Finn yearns for some way to comfort him, but there’s probably no way to settle a man’s nerves after he’s had the experience Poe has had with this monster.
“Well… if it is true… then what on Earth could he want? Ren I mean, why would he want someone to arrange for him to go to Takodana?”
“I’ve gathered what I can on that front from Hux,” Finn answers him, going back through more of the books on his desk, which is basically every story ever written that even mentioned vampire lore. “If, like you said Alderaan is practically void of human life, I think Ren wants to gather an army… an army of the undead, more servants so he’ll have more power, more luxury to roam the world as he pleases, killing and feasting on people’s blood. He’s started with Hux, then he wanted you. Now he’s probably preparing to curse half of Takodana until he has an entire legion.”
Poe collapses into the seat in front of Finn’s desk, his eyes going back to that vacant, haunted look that makes Finn’s stomach turn.
“If… if this is true, then what do we do? We can’t just let this happen.”
“I know,” Finn nods. “But I doubt anyone would believe us. We’ll both be thrown in with Hux if we try explaining this to any law enforcement officials.”
“So we just keep this to ourselves and let Takodana be slaughtered?”
“No,” Finn denies, feeling that small buzz of hope that he’d been holding onto the past couple of days. “I’ve… found someone who I think can help us.”
Poe looks shocked at this.
“Who?” he asks in surprise, no doubt expecting the two of them to be the only ones wallowing in the problem of how to solve this mystery.
“He’s someone who has had experience with this kind of thing before. He… he hunts these things.”
Poe stares at Finn with wide eyes, almost comically at the prospect of a real life vampire hunter.
“His name is Luke Skywalker, he teaches at some sort of religious university in Ach-To. I sent word to him two days ago, and he’s supposed to arrive by tomorrow afternoon.”
True to Finn’s word, Skywalker does indeed arrive in Coruscant the next afternoon, much to Finn and Poe’s relief. The two of them spend many hours waiting at the dock, staring hopefully out into the river that leads into the city, almost unsure if perhaps he won’t show up at all, that he was somehow a myth the two of them had made up in their minds.
Once the elderly, grim looking man steps off the ship, Poe can see there isn’t a hint of friendly greeting in his eyes. His face looks as if it’s been worn down, carved from a stone, as if he’s lived a thousand years and has seen nothing but misery.
His grey hair is rough and wind blown, looking about as tattered as his dark grey clothes that make him appear as some sort of monk rather than a legendary vampire killer. Poe isn’t sure what he was expecting, but perhaps someone younger, sharp looking with some crazy weapon slung over his shoulder.
This man doesn’t even appear to have any luggage.
“Gentlemen,” he greets them both as they stand before him in awe, probably looking like a pair of nervous school boys.
“Master Skywalker,” Finn nods politely. “I’m Dr. Finn Storm, and this is… well, an acquaintance of mine, Mr. Poe Dameron.”
Skywalker barely gives Poe a brief glance before looking behind the two of them, his eyes on the tall building of the hospital only a few blocks from where they’re standing.
“Let’s get started,” he states, brushing past the two of them as if he’s lived in this town all his life.
His voice is about as gruff as his appearance.
The first thing Skywalker wants to do is have a look at Hux.
He doesn’t say a word to the man, even as Hux hisses and snaps at him, mumbling unintelligible things as Skywalker just stands back, observing the man as if he were inspecting a zoo animal.
Finn and Poe say nothing as they watch anxiously from the sidelines, waiting for this man to miraculously come up with a solution to the whole problem just by observing Hux’s erratic behavior.
After a few minutes, Skywalker simply turns on his heel and heads back to the office.
“Kylo Ren,” is the first thing out of his mouth once Finn and Poe follow him into Finn’s private office, shutting the door behind them. “That’s the name of this beast, yes?”
“Indeed,” Finn nods. “Mr. Dameron has had an encounter with him as well.”
Skywalker’s eyes raise in surprise as they glance over at Poe, who shudders slightly at the man’s hard stare.
“And how may I ask, are you still alive with a sane mind?” he asks Poe directly.
“He escaped,” Finn answers for him when he does nothing but turn a pale shade of white at being asked such a question.
“Hm,” Skywalker ponders, clasping his arms behind his back and beginning to pace slowly in front of Finn’s desk, taking a quick glance at all the papers and books piling it.
“Sir… do you know of Kylo Ren?” Poe asks tentatively, carefully studying the man’s troubled eyes.
“Of course I know him. If you know anything of these loathsome creatures, Kylo Ren is the first to know about. He’s famed the most brutal and merciless of all these blood drinkers.”
“Have you… encountered him before, sir?”
Skywalker’s face almost changes for a brief moment, remembering back to something long ago before his stone-faced stare blankets his features once more.
“I’ve come across his trail of terror only once before,” he answers, this time an echo of anger trimming his tone. “I was able to take down a few of his disciples, but Kylo Ren isn’t exactly easy prey.”
“But you do know how to stop these things,” Finn states eagerly, a glimmer of hope going through his eyes.
“I know how to destroy them so that they can never harm a living soul again,” Skywalker corrects, as if that were an important distinction to make. “But to stop Kylo Ren is going to require more than a hammer and a stake.”
“What exactly will it require?” Finn asks slowly.
“The first thing it will require is for us to arrange passage to Takodana as soon as possible,” Skywalker affirms, acting as if he’s ready to pack up and go this second.
“What do you mean, tonight?” Poe asks, almost laughing in disbelief.
“This evening if we can,” Skywalker answers. “There’s no doubt he’s arrived there by now, and if so, we’re already far behind. How long will it take for us to get there by ship?”
Chapter 7: Please Don't Make Me Love You
It has been many decades since Kylo has been able to go out into the daylight.
It’s almost overwhelming at first, the prospect of being surrounded by so many people rushing this way and that, hardly giving him a second glance, unknowing of the monster hidden behind the array of black robes.
After killing the men on the Finalizer and granting himself the luxury of a few lonely stragglers the past few nights, Kylo had regained the strength to hide himself properly in the daylight, still keeping his cloak to shroud him from the sunlight, but now able to walk among the living, as if he were no different.
Of course, if anyone had stopped to give him a proper second look, they no doubt would sense this mysterious man is anything but normal. But people’s lives here appear too busy to be concerned with the predator stalking through their ranks.
Kylo knew Rey would be here today. He’s kept his eyes on her for a while as he hid in the shadows, waiting until he’d gained enough strength to finally be able to stroll down the busy streets of town where she visited during the day, perusing the shops, gathering whatever she needed for the week.
It is amusing, he thought, how utterly bored she seems. Her little friend is often out entertaining some gentleman, leaving Rey alone in the house for most of the day. She seems to come into town just to walk around and act as if she has a purpose for being there, when really, Kylo rarely sees her leave any of the shops with anything in her hands.
He stands now on the opposite side of the streets, watching carefully as she strides through the crowds of bustling people, her gloved hands folded politely in front of her, though her pained facial expression shows she is biting her lip, Kylo guesses half in discomfort at the horribly stiff looking green traveling dress she’s wearing.
When watching her closely, Kylo would always see an uncomfortable shift in her shoulders or twisting of her torso when she’s trapped in one of these horribly stifling gowns that cover practically every inch of her up to her neck.
He looks forward to one day being able to relieve her of such a smothering style of dress.
Time seems to slow now, as he stands here watching her, her eyes fixed determinedly on whatever shop she’s decided to enter first, keeping her gaze away from any other passing gentlemen that look the lone woman over with slight curiosity.
It feels wrong to Kylo, having his prey walking in the open like this without his influence being able to keep her in his control. It makes him want to rip out the throat of every man who dares to steal a second glance at her with vile thoughts in his mind.
Soon Kylo has to remind himself. She won’t evade him for long.
His mind reaches out towards her, calling her from across the street as the odd bond he feels with the young woman comes to life once again, filling a dull ringing in his ears that he knows she feels as well.
“Look at me, Rey,” he speaks into her subconscious. “Turn your head and look.”
To anyone passing by, they would have simply seen a young woman glancing across the street at something. But Kylo sees her attention suddenly spring to life, her silent vow of looking at nothing but what is ahead of her finally breaking as her body forces her to focus her eyes one the man standing on the other side of the street, watching her. Calling to her.
The look of shock and horror that melts across her face is enough to make Kylo hum with satisfaction as she no doubt recognizes his presence from her dreams. The dreams he’d been invading every night.
The poor thing nearly collides with a family who had been trying to walk past her, causing her to begin apologizing profusely, her face a deep shade of red.
Kylo makes sure she does not see him once she turns back to look again.
That delicious look of horror flickers across her face once again when he’s standing before her after she exits the flower shop she’d just been in.
“Good day,” he greets her when she says nothing, only stares at him, looking flabbergasted as she turns her head this way and that, as if expecting someone to jump out and startle her. “You are Miss… Rey, are you not?”
He reaches to sweep her hand up in his, bringing it to his lips.
How he longs to taste her warm flesh instead of the fabric of her gloves, but he forces back his instincts, remaining a perfect trusting gentleman for now.
“I am Rey Dameron,” she corrects him, suddenly stiffening as he slowly trails his eyes up and down her form. “Who exactly are you and why have you been following me?”
“I know you fiancé,” he answers calmly. At this, her eyes widen once more. “He has helped me to attain a home here recently.”
He can tell she now knows exactly who he is.
“Of course,” she nods, keeping her composure even though he sees how much she wants to ask about her husband to be. “I am sorry, I… I’ve forgotten your name.”
“Kylo Ren.” He doesn’t bother giving a false name. She’ll know what he is soon enough.
She bows her head, though he can still see the unaddressed fear behind her eyes.
“Good to meet you, Mr. Ren. Now if… if you’ll excuse me, I have many things to attend to-”
“Why are you here by yourself?” he questions, being sure to catch her gaze in his, willing a bit of his power to hold her still.
He once again reaches into her mind, as he did that night. It should be easy, influencing a young woman’s thoughts to trust him, to accompany him, to do whatever he asks of her.
“A beautiful thing such as yourself should not walk the streets unaccompanied…”
But once again, he feels a hard, cool barrier shut him out, strong against his power.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” Rey accuses, taking a step back as she glares harshly at him. “You know nothing for me sir, I am perfectly capable of walking through town by myself.”
Oh, but I do know you Rey he longs to tell her.
“Of course,” he nods, a small grin going across his lips. “You are… no doubt a strong and fascinating woman, Rey.”
The praise is real, something Kylo would never normally consider speaking out loud to a victim, even if he really did admire them in some way. But something inside him tells him he has to let her know how special she is, how different she is from all the others.
Rey has no response to this. In fact, she looks incredibly thrown off at the compliment.
Instead of trying to force his way in again, Kylo lays only a gentle push on her mind. A welcoming one that their connection allows. He uses it to ever so slowly push her worries of Poe and everything else out of her thoughts. He makes her focus on only him, for the moment.
“Perhaps you could show me around your little town,” he speaks as he watches her blink slowly, his small spell trickling through their bond. “I should very much like to get to know you better, Rey…”
It takes a moment, and Kylo is afraid his hypnosis might have failed again. But she soon nods her head, a surprisingly clear and determined expression going over her face.
“If that is what you wish,” she nods. “I suppose my afternoon plans can wait.”
Kylo almost has to laugh at her stubbornness, but is delighted to see her walk beside him, her hands still clasped in front of her, though slightly more relaxed than before.
He takes a chance to gently touch his hand to the small of her back as they walk, and he expects her to flinch at the gesture.
But if anything, she becomes even more calmed at the warmth of his hand against her.
A tour of the town of course isn’t Kylo’s goal. He’s seen practically every inch of it, memorized it as his new hunting ground. Instead, he takes the time to talk with Rey.
He realizes he has to be slow and gentle with her since her mind is somehow so resistant against his. He has to instead use words to coax anything out of her at all. So he asks her about herself. Her life in Jakku, her life here, what she thinks about her friends, the people.
Kylo knows most of the answers already from having this strange bond with her, but it feels better to hear her tell him herself.
“What about your family, Rey?” he asks her as they slowly walk along a path leading out to the larger estates, not far from where Kylo’s own dwelling is isolated. “Did you have any in Jakku?”
“No,” she answers after a moment, as if the thought had never occurred to her. “No, I grew up in an orphanage and then I was on my own most of the time.”
Something inside Kylo jumps at her words, and the next question he asks feels as if it’s not even coming from him, but something deep inside him that had reacted so loudly to her words.
“Were you ever lonely?” the words come out of his mouth in a pathetic way that makes Kylo reel in disgust with himself.
Even she seems surprised at first by his question.
“I suppose so,” she replies slowly. “But only every once in a while. You know, when I had time to think about it. I usually tried to keep myself busy, I don’t really care much for being still. But I don’t mind being alone.”
Kylo doesn’t trust himself to say anything else, so he stays silent for now, wondering what in the devil’s name possessed him into asking something like that.
He then starts to wonder why he’s so curious in knowing anything about this woman at all if he just plans on turning her and erasing her entire life anyway.
“Um… thank you, Mr. Ren,” she suddenly speaks as if she’s taking a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry, I just… I don’t talk about this often and I didn’t realize how much I needed… I’m not boring you, am I?”
His mouth nearly gapes open at this.
In his slow push to get her to reveal what he wanted to him, he never intended for her to consciously… appreciate it.
But now, as he takes a brief glance into her mind, he can feel her relief at being allowed to talk this openly about her previous life.
“No. I wouldn’t be asking you if I didn’t want to know.”
“Oh,” she nods, her eyes wandering to the ground. “Good.”
Caught off guard at the prospect of not knowing what to do next, Kylo tries to take a moment to regather himself, shaking off this incessant feeling of anxiety that has suddenly come over him.
“Why haven’t you told me anything about yourself?” she suddenly inquires, snapping him out of his troubled daze. “We’ve been discussing my boring life and history, you’ve said nothing about yourself.”
“I want to hear about you,” he replies, softly nudging her thoughts away from him and more towards talking about herself.
She stops for a moment, almost seeming to shake herself off.
“I’m not all that interesting, Mr. Ren,” she tells him, her eyes looking out into the empty
path ahead that has slowly become shrouded with a thick layer of white mist, shielding the two of them from view.
“I must disagree, Rey.”
It isn’t a lie. Kylo does find the creature undeniably fascinating as she is attractive. The rich story of a fierce, toughened young woman hiding under an exterior of a polite young lady will make it all the more fascinating to break her, overwhelm her with the darkness.
“Tell me,” he begins again, keeping his voice laced with his hypnotic influence, “did you often dream of someone like Poe Dameron coming to rescue you from your solitude in Jakku?”
“Someone like… no, I didn’t think about that,” she answers as Kylo begins guiding her towards the nearby forest.
So close now… just a few more steps…
“Do you think about it now?” Kylo continues, pressing his hand against her back again, feeling his instincts going mad, yearning to tear through this inconvenient dress, to taste her blood, allow her to release the darkness hiding within. “Do you fantasize of someone… coming to take you away from all of this…”
His hand curls around her torso, sliding over to her stomach before slowly moving upwards, his leather gloved hand yearning to touch bare skin.
He leans in closer, whispering her name as he feels her mind numbing against his, surrendering to his will as he brings her closer and closer to the woods…
She yanks away from him, as if she had been burned, looking up at him in horror before quickly straightening her dress, pulling her coat closer around her.
“I shouldn’t be here,” she decides as Kylo watches her, half in awe at her resistance and half in outrage at her continuous defiance. “Thank you for your company Mr. Ren, but I should remind you that I am engaged to be married. It is quite inappropriate for me to be walking about at this hour with a gentleman who isn’t… who’s not my…”
She shakes her head before tilting her chin up at him haughtily.
“Good day,” she tells him before turning quickly on her heel and marching away, back onto the stone path that leads back through the grand estates and toward town.
Kylo watches her go, feeling her slip away, free of his momentary grip. Just the sight of it sends a searing flame of rage shaking through him.
He isn’t used to being denied things. But something about being denied this enchanting, mysterious thing makes him want to tear the world apart.
Rey tried to go back to Rose’s house. She tried all day. But each time she started on the road that would lead back to the safe, familiar lavish mansion where her friend would no doubt be waiting for her by now, she would find yet another excuse to head back toward town, go to one more shop.
Now it is far past sundown, a horribly indecent time for a young lady to be out all by herself. But Rey’s thoughts couldn’t linger on the indecency of it all when she was trying so hard all throughout the day to rid her thoughts of the man who had tried to sweep her away earlier this day.
She knows he must be the man she’s been dreaming about. He must be. She had that same grip on her spine, the same rush of her pulse when he spoke in that hypnotic, commanding voice that seemed to run right to her core. When he looked at her, she sensed that odd ringing in her ears that somehow… connected the two of them.
She rolls her eyes to herself for the hundredth time as she continues walking briskly down the street, seeing all the shops begin to close, the lamplighters finishing up with igniting the street lamps that send a golden glow over the darkened streets.
Rey finds herself keeping her eyes on the gas lights as she continues walking toward the road that will take her back to Rose’s, where she should have been long ago. If she wasn’t so distracted by this infernal man…
After a while, she wonders if he was even real. Perhaps she’d dreamt the entire encounter. After all, she has trouble remembering what had even happened the entire time. It is much like trying to remember a dream.
Her mind wanders to thinking of Armitage Hux, of all people. Rey wonders if she should maybe see Dr. Storm as well. Maybe, somehow, the madness that Mr. Hux had contracted has somehow spread.
When finally turning her gaze away from the numbing glow of the street lamps, Rey realizes she isn’t on her way to Rose’s at all.
Instead, when she turns her head, she finds herself standing in front of a very small, not too proper restaurant, that from what she remembers, is on a side of town she definitely shouldn’t be in.
“Now I must be dreaming,” she whispers to herself, mostly out of an attempt to comfort herself that she isn’t going insane. “Can I really not find my way back?”
Staring through the glass into the rowdy restaurant, Rey is unable to push back at the feeling tugging at her senses, forcing her to become awake as she feels him near again.
She feels him standing behind her, studying her reflection in the glass window. She’s afraid to look back and see his dark figure emerge from the shadows.
“What are you?” she asks, her voice coming out much more determined than she feels.
“I belong with you,” he answers. “And you belong to me.”
His footsteps move quietly against the cobblestone street as Rey shuts her eyes tightly, refusing to be tricked by this strange sorcerer.
“Why me?” she asks, her heart pounding as she feels his gloved hand on her shoulder, sending a jolt of sparks through her as it did earlier today when he had touched her back.
“You know why, Rey. You feel what I feel. Our bond…”
“I feel nothing but your black magic,” she refuses, trying with all her might to shove away the humming in her chest that begs her to let go and give in.
“It’s not my magic, Rey. My influence doesn’t work on you.”
She wants to reel away in terror when she feels the leather of his glove on the back of her neck, but her throat instead lets out a small pant of need as he brushes his fingers softly along her skin.
“You’re too strong,” he whispers to her, his lips right beside her ear while she still withholds from opening her eyes. “Your fate is not to be my victim. You are meant to be beside me.”
Rey suddenly feels a breeze of air rushing onto her face, as if she were aboard a carriage that was racing ahead at an impossibly smooth pace.
All other noise drains away until all Rey can hear is her own uneven breathing.
She finally opens her eyes, her stomach lurching in horror when she sees she is no longer outside, but rather in a small hotel room, no doubt one of the rooms above the shady restaurant, where men often take women they have paid for down in the dining room.
She’s laying down on the bed, Kylo hovering above her, one of his hands circled around her neck as his body covers hers completely on the bed.
“You want me, Rey. There’s something inside you that wants to be set free.”
Rey is unable to do anything but stare back into his blackened eyes that swim with hunger for her. She wants to be frightened, but a voice inside her head tells her there’s nothing for her to fear from this man.
There is something inside her that is curious about him. The things he says to her, the thoughts he puts in her head. A feeling that warms her entire body, makes her glow with excitement.
Her heart stills as she finds herself falling into the deep abyss of his stare, seeing the terrible creature that lives beneath them.
“Are you the devil?” she breathes as those terrifying eyes seem to smile at her fright.
“No, my love,” he replies, reaching his hand to stroke down the side of her face, a gesture that makes her body suddenly squirm beneath him. “Not to you.”
“Please,” she struggles against his hold, even as his touch sets her on fire.
“Rey,” he scolds, as if disciplining an uncooperative child, “you can’t fight me. Not forever.”
She wants to push him away. To refuse him. To shut this strange man out and never think of him again.
But she feels him as if she’s known him her whole life. Perhaps he had always been here, with her. The lonely nights she’d spend in Jakku, staring up into the starry night sky and having the comforting sensation of someone watching over her.
Someone living inside her very mind.
“Rey,” he whispers, his impossibly soft lips finding her neck, suckling and kissing along her skin.
She relaxes against him, her heart beating out of her chest as warm, alien feelings come over her that she’s never felt before.
She finally lets her will break, letting him in piece by piece.
He seems to surge with excitement as his presence enters her body completely until all she can think, hear, feel, taste, and see is him.
She moans loudly in want as his hands press against her clothed body, practically teasing her with his skilled touch, and she hears a sudden growl of hunger resound through his throat.
His hand curls around the back of her neck, pulling her face towards his as he whispers into her ear again.
“Come to me. Here. Tomorrow night. I’ll be waiting for you, my love…”
Rey had considered it was some kind of spell she had been put under. If it was, she doesn’t care now. It had been too hard to resist the yearning inside she had for whatever this man is, whatever he is trying to offer her.
Maybe it’s because she hadn’t recalled a time when someone really wanted to know about her. Talk about her old life. Everyone here in Takodana, though they cared for her, only seemed interested in helping her forget the desert scavenger she once was, as if they thought it was so horrible to speak of, she should never have to relive it again.
She hadn’t realized how buried she had become, entranced by a man who had gallantly rescued her from the desert and gave her a proper life, even proposing marriage, something everyone informed her she should be endlessly grateful for.
Maybe, for once, she wanted to be allowed to be herself, without a thought or care in the world.
That thought is what brings her here tonight, the same shady restaurant she had been compelled to venture to last night.
She hadn’t told a single soul where she was going. In fact, everyone in the Tico household assumes she is fast asleep upstairs in her guest bedroom, not galavanting through the night to meet a stranger for dinner.
She had dressed in a gown bought for her years ago, but one she had never dared wear. It is dyed blood red, the fabric much less heavy than all the others, the sleeves only coming to her forearms before trailing off into billowing streams of scarlet floating down toward her hips.
The gown also leaves her neck and part of her chest bare, parts Rey has not shown of herself since Jakku. Her long dark brown hair hangs down in curls around her shoulders and down her back. It feels so odd not to wear it all pinned up now as she has for years.
If anyone in Takodana were to see her now, there would certainly be talk.
But tonight, she could care less.
She isn’t sure how long he stood, watching her from the shadows, but she feels his presence before he steps forth from the darkness, dressed in what look to be highly expensive robes that a royal might wear.
He’s shrouded in black of course, the fabric the same shade as his long black locks that frame his handsome face.
His eyes graze over her in approval of her new attire, and he holds his arm out to her, suddenly making her feel very small.
She doesn’t think of Poe or Rose or anyone as she lets him lead her inside the busy restaurant. Her mind feels entirely devoid of anything she had come to know in the past few years she’s lived here as Rey Dameron. Here, with him, she’s just Rey. And Kylo Ren is the only being occupying her attention.
No one notices them as they move to the back of the restaurant, though Rey is positive someone must at least turn their head at this odd sight.
But the guests and staff all treat them as if they aren’t even there.
Behind a soft, glowing red curtain in the back of the establishment, is a private room that looks to Rey as if it were a part of an entirely different time and place.
The small, candle lit table set up for them is decorated much like a medieval dinner setting, with goblets and silverware that look as if they cost more than Rey’s entire wardrobe.
“Do you do this often?” she questions after taking a seat in the chair he had pulled out for her. “Do you enjoy showering women with attention like this?”
He seems amused by her question to her surprise, cracking a small smile as he sits down across from her.
“I can’t recall a time in my life where I’ve served upon anyone, Rey. The only one a man should truly serve is the woman he loves, wouldn’t you say?”
Rey feels that dizzying wave jump over her again as she shakily reaches to grasp the goblet of wine in front of her.
“How could you love me?” she asks before taking a small sip of the scarlet red liquid. “You don’t even know me.”
“Rey, I think you know by now that’s not true. I know more about you than even you know about yourself. I’ve seen every thought you’ve ever had, every memory, every feeling…”
“I thought you might be a demon when you first appeared in my dreams,” she tells him challengingly. “Fear and darkness surround you. Why?”
He leans back slightly in his chair, his penetrating eyes still holding her gaze captive.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t assume all things are how they appear,” he informs her.
“How did you find me, then?” she continues, trying to keep her expression hard set, all the while fighting the urge to leap across the table into his welcoming embrace. “How did you conduct this spell that’s somehow connecting us like this?”
“My powers may have brought me to you, Rey, but the bond we share is not a magic I know of,” he replies, sounding curious now as he talks. “One thing I can never ignore are my instincts. That is advice you should follow.”
Rey doesn’t know what to say to this, so she begins mindlessly eating the fruit that has been laid before her, pretending to be more interested in that than the conversation.
It takes a while before she realizes he hasn’t eaten or drunk a thing. The plate before him is empty, his goblet is also filled with the deep red colored wine, but he doesn’t sip it. He only sits back and watches her, almost as if he were viewing a most fascinating performance.
“Are you not hungry?” she questions, suddenly becoming a bit self conscious as she sets down her fork before continuing the meat she had begun eating, keeping her eyes fixed on the dark colored wood of the table.
“I’m glad the bond has connected us, Rey,” he speaks, ignoring her inquiry. “I’ve come across many different people in my lifetime, but you are no doubt the most intriguing. Such power there is beneath your surface, yet you pretend as if you fit in just like anyone else in this dreadful town.”
Rey shifts in her seat, clasping her hands on her lap.
In truth, she hadn’t much considered embracing the older version of herself ever since her life had become cemented here in Takodana. There had been no reason to.
“It’s not exactly a welcoming environment for a desert rat,” she says, surprised at the touch of bitterness that comes out with her words. “I don’t think many people here would appreciate me strutting about the way I used to in Jakku.”
“I think you’re beautiful,” he tells her firmly, making something leap in her chest as she looks up to become trapped in his narrowed gaze once again. “You deserve the chance to have what you want, not go about your life blending in with what’s around you.”
“You speak as if you know. Are you like me, Mr. Ren? Do you spend your life hiding?”
She means it in a half teasing way, but the look that suddenly skits across his eyes startles her a bit.
His voice is more menacing when he speaks now, sounding more like the devilish shadow from her dreams again.
“Kylo,” he corrects, looking as if he’s trying to shake away whatever had come over him. “Just Kylo.”
Rey again doesn’t reply, instead going to gently sip her wine, while he finally reaches forward to grab his own goblet, drinking a considerable gulp of the blood red wine, which Rey notices helps him gain a bit more of his gentleman-like composure.
Rey finishes her dinner without any conversation, though it isn’t a lonely feeling. Quite the opposite as she realizes just being near him makes her feel more fulfilled than she has in some time.
It feels as if tension builds all throughout the evening, Rey longing to be closer to this man who seems to awaken something fierce and desirable in her. So when he asks her to dance after she’s finished her meal, she immediately accepts.
She isn’t sure how well trying to dance will fare in this small private room tucked away behind a curtain. There looks to be only room to move two steps back and forth.
But the room seems to grow once Kylo leads her to the small space beside the dining table. As he takes her hand on his, wrapping a gloved hand around her waist, he leads her sweeping across the room as if it had suddenly grown into a large ballroom, with all the room in the world to go waltzing this way and that. But when Rey’s eyes try to focus on the walls around them, all she can see is black, as if they’d been sucked into a strange abyss. Even the table and the curtain leading back out into the restaurant disappear as well, the only thing keeping them anchored to the real world being the soft music from violins that had seemed to arise from outside the room.
Is this his magic? Rey wonders as she dances, held firmly, yet tenderly in his arms as he guides her.
The warm, unbearably joyful feeling that races through her heart makes her unable to keep from grinning an excited smile that lights up her eyes.
The way he holds her, watches her, talks to her, makes her feel as if she could give her soul to this man and feel more safe than she ever has in her life.
“You dance like royalty,” she grins, feeling her stomach do flips as a small smile seems to reluctantly come across his lips. “Exactly what is your story, Kylo Ren?”
“I do come from noble birth,” he answers her. “My ancestors were the rulers of Alderaan.”
“Impressive,” she nods in surprise. “I hadn’t realized I’ve been being romanced by such an illustrious man. Did you live in a palace back in Alderaan?”
He seems about to answer, before stopping himself, a look of intrigue coming over his face.
“Would you like to see?” he asks her.
She nearly scoffs and asks if he means to take her all the way to Alderaan simply to view his old estate. But she recalls the powers he possesses and realizes this probably isn’t exactly an unimaginable feat.
When she doesn’t answer, she feels him push something gently against her mind, asking to enter her thoughts rather than trying to force his way into her head like he had in her dreams or yesterday when they met.
She allows her mind to open to whatever he’s trying to show her, and is immediately overwhelmed by the smell of fire, oak, and nature.
She sees his castle, a large, beautiful palace that looks as if it’s straight out of a picture from a fairytale, where princes and princesses might live, where grand balls take place and lavish feasts and festivals.
It is a delightful, happy place that sends a thrill of excitement through her heart, especially when she feels Kylo’s fondness for it as well through the bond.
“It’s cold and a bit somber through your eyes, I’m sure,” he speaks, his voice echoing through her head.
“It’s wonderful,” she denies, shaking her head at his odd words for such a dazzling place. “It’s the most lovely place I’ve ever seen.”
She feels confusion spike through the bond before Kylo speaks slowly.
“Yes, I… I’m sure it was, at a time,” he says as she marvels at the elegant sights inside her head. “Rey, what are you seeing-”
“How could you ever leave this place?” she questions as she feels the cold splash of water from a waterfall in the courtyard behind the beauteous structure, the sensation of pillowy snow covering the vast mountains.
“It’s not like that anymore,” Kylo continues as she feels him trying to pull her mind away from whatever this vision is.
“You have affection for this place,” she tells him, feeling thoughts of his that seemed to be buried just below the surface. “I see happiness here… love…hope.”
She continues digging deeper, entering his mind now, his thoughts, his fears, his desires. All of them hidden away, as if he had locked them up so no would could find them.
She looks into his eyes now, realizing how close they’ve become, their faces only inches from each other. His eyes slowly drop to her lips and his defenses become weaker and weaker, allowing her into his mind with every centimeter she moves closer to him.
“I see… a prince,” she speaks, finally finding the essence of something he’s trying so hard to keep sealed.
Her lips connect with his, sending a frenzy of sensation through both of them, the air humming as their eyes close, the bond satisfied at their connection.
Let me see him… let me see a piece of him… please…
It happens in an instant.
Rey is overwhelmed by the memory transferred to her mind, the image of Kylo’s deepest fear, his most important memory.
There is a man. Crying out to her. Reaching toward her. Begging for help.
The name still rings in both of their minds even as Kylo yanks back, shoving her away from him as if she’d struck him.
They drop back to reality, back into the small space in the restaurant, gasping as if they’d been running for ages.
Rey can only stare in shock at Kylo, who has backed himself up against the table, halfway leaning over it as he clings onto it with his arms, almost as if to keep himself standing.
He looks petrified, his frightened eyes staring at Rey as if she were a horrid phantom who had come to drain his life.
Looking closer at his face, Rey can see a tear had fallen down the side of his cheek.
“Ben Solo,” she finally speaks. “You were Ben Solo… the Prince of Alderaan-”
“He’s dead,” Kylo suddenly hisses, an animal-like growl in his throat. “You weren’t meant to see… how could you have…. What are you?”
What are you? she wants to throw back at him.
“What happened to you?” she asks instead, still feeling the lingering pleas for help coming from the man trapped behind Kylo Ren.
He suddenly stands up straight again, his cape coming from nowhere and billowing around him, as if he were prepared to disappear.
Rey lurches forward, grabbing his arm.
Just her touch is enough to calm him, it seems.
“You’re in pain,” she speaks. “You’re lonely… you’re haunted.”
“You know nothing,” he snarls, but she ignores him still, keeping her mind focused on what she had seen.
“Let me help you,” she speaks. “You can’t deny me now. I’ve seen you. Let me help. Please.”
She can see he wants to cast her off. But he can’t. As much as he wants to hide whatever his past holds, Rey can see he can’t deny the deep sense of loneliness she had felt from him. It pains him. It corrupts his heart. It holds him like a curse, like a demented master forcing him to do its bidding.
But he feels better with her. He forgets how tortured he is. Rey can see that now. She saw the man longing to be freed, longing to be with her.
He takes her into his arms again, his lips crushing down on hers again, this time far less hesitant.
His leather gloved fingers curl through her hair, holding her head still as he ravishes her lips, acting as if he’s been starving for them his entire life.
His mind of course is carefully blocked off from hers now, and even though Rey loses herself into him, melting into his arms and his kiss, she can’t find a way through to him now.
Rey knows the pain that he feels. She’s known it most of her life. She also knows the bond that now seems to direct her heart will lead her to find that man again and do everything she can to save him.
Chapter 8: Loving You Keeps Me Alive
Rey spends her days by herself, finding excuses to tell Rose of why she needs to be alone to finish work. Luckily, Rose is always distracted enough by Mr. Ron Darvey that she doesn’t notice that it wouldn’t make sense for Rey to have work to do. Rey doesn’t have a job. She never has to do anything here aside from dress and act like a proper lady.
What she would really be doing all those hours of the day was thinking about Kylo. The things he told her, the things he promised her. How alive he had made her feel in such a small amount of time. How he reminded her of her old self, how oddly safe she had felt with such a frightening man.
But mostly she wondered how she could save him.
Whatever it was she had seen of him that he didn’t want her to, it had been calling specifically to her. She had been the one to enter his mind, to find it. Perhaps, in a way, that made her feel responsible for him.
She had never been depended upon before. It didn’t seem like anyone would need her much for anything.
It would only be toward the evening, when the sun began to set that she’d hear his call. His presence in her mind, leading her to walk right out of the front doors of the Tico estate and towards wherever his voice would lead her.
It was always somewhere isolated, where no one would think to take notice of them.
They wouldn’t talk much. Rey gave up trying to talk about what she had seen in his mind. Whenever she asked, he would go cold and not say another word the rest of the night.
She began to yearn for him. The comfort he brought. It was this that made her more willing to not speak of Ben Solo for now, for fear he might become angry or scared and simply leave her forever.
Kylo watches silently as Rey sits by the lake, her blue and green frilly dress spilling out around her. A heavy mist surrounds them as they sit on the edge of the forest, hidden from view.
Rey has a bundle of flowers in her lap, pulling the petals and smaller stems off and twisting them into different shapes. A crown, a necklace, heart shaped bouquets…
Their visits are often like this. Kylo prefers to see what she does in her spare time, which he of course finds endlessly fascinating.
He watches carefully as a smile crawls across her alluring face when a group of swans float her way, following the trail of flower crafted objects she has sent trailing off into the water.
He hates acknowledging it, even if it is only in his thoughts, but there is a part of Kylo that is touched at her kindness. How gentle she is with everything, how exciting and amazing she finds things, despite her rough upbringing.
He couldn’t understand how such gentleness could persist in a woman who has been through and seen things no young woman should have to experience back in the vicious Jakku deserts.
“What exactly do you do, anyway?” Rey asks him, tossing a handful of petals into the water. “I know you’re supposed to be a lord or something, but what does that even entail?”
Kylo appreciates how relaxed she had become around him to the point where formalities had been dropped and they simply spoke like two normal people. He isn’t sure if it was his influence that had helped this along, or maybe Rey had grown more comfortable with him all on her own.
“There’s not much to do in a place such as Alderaan,” he answers her as she begins twisting another group of flowers into a complex looking tiara. “Mostly I just live off my… inheritance.”
“That sounds like an awfully boring way to live,” she comments, her attention still fixed on the flowers. “Is that why you decided to come here?”
“In a way, yes,” he answers honestly. “Though I doubt how much excitement there could be in a town like this.”
“Honestly, there are more interesting towns you could have picked,” she admits, placing the flower tiara delicately into the lake and watching it float away. “Even the biggest parties here have a way of turning out disappointing.”
Kylo knows this. He had felt her boredom while sitting through her friend’s parties, sensed her longing to be able to have as much delight as the guests around her, but finding none.
It reminds him of the grand balls he would have to attend in Alderaan when he was Prince. He could never see what joy people could find in something so lacking.
“Come sit with me,” Rey speaks, her voice casual, but making Kylo almost jump nonetheless.
“No,” he answers automatically, staying stiff as a board against the tree he had been grazing by.
She turns her head, her eyes staring pointedly at him.
“Why is it that you have to be so near me sometimes, and other times you act as if I’m a ravenous beast?”
He grins at the irony of her words before carefully taking a step toward her, still trying to stay within the shadow of the trees as he moves down the bank.
“You’re an enchanting creature,” he tells her as he sits across from her. “I find it difficult to control myself around you.”
She looks back at the collection of petals and stems in her hands, fiddling them about as if she were trying to decide what to make out of them next.
“Then don’t,” she replies, sounding as if she’s not sure if she wants him to hear her or not.
He of course hears her quite clearly.
You don’t know what you’re asking, little one he speaks to her in his head. If she can hear him, she gives no indication.
Should he do it now? She’s so beautiful… she would taste so divine… he needs her now… she practically gave him permission…
No. Not now. Here isn’t the place.
He will wait. Until she is truly ready. Then he will turn her, allow her to fully embrace the dark desires she’s keeping so well hidden. Then they will be together completely, rule together
For now, he continues watching her place bright orange and pink flowers against the sapphire water, the two of them watching the petals float further and further down the lake until they eventually sink below the cold blue surface.
“I mean, goodness Rey, it’s as if you’re a whole other person!” Rose is exclaiming as she follows Rey out into the garden. “We hardly even speak anymore, I don’t see you around the house, you always disappear during the evening and go immediately to bed when you get back… what’s happened, has your body been possessed by a spirit?”
“Not quite,” Rey answers her, touching her fingers to the violets growing along a wall of vines climbing up the stone wall that surrounds the garden. “Do you mind if I take some of these?”
“No, of course not,” Rose answers quickly, probably not even really hearing what she had just said. “Anyway, I’ve had to resort to planning my wedding all by myself, you were supposed to help me find my gown yesterday and you were confined in the study nearly all afternoon.”
“I’m sorry, Rose,” Rey laments as she plucks the purple dyed flowers from the vines, gathering a few in her hand. She honestly doesn’t even remember much of what happened yesterday. All her days seem to blur together now, as if into one never ending dream. “You’re right, I haven’t really been myself lately.”
“I’ll say,” Rose huffs as she now follows behind Rey to a group of bushes sprinkled with daisies. “Well, anyway, tonight I insist you stay downstairs and help me with the decorations, they’re in serious need of revision, and I know Ron won’t sit still long enough to help me with them…”
“Tonight?” Rey asks, staring blankly down at the small daisies she had plucked from the bushes. “I can’t tonight.”
“Well why not?” Rose pleads, sounding frustrated all over again.
Why? She realizes she can’t even remember why she can’t stay tonight.
“I just… can’t,” she answers slowly, going back to robotically picking the little daisies.
Rose takes a big breath, no doubt to continue berating her for her lackluster explanations, but she’s interrupted by a voice calling from the house.
“Miss Rey!” the man’s voice hollers across the garden, causing the two women to turn and stare at the servant standing at the steps leading up to the porch. “A letter has arrived for you,” he tells her, holding up a small ivory envelope in his white gloved hand.
For me? Rey wonders, standing up slowly from where she’d been kneeling at the flowers bushes. Who could be writing to her?
She hurries up towards the porch, still clutching the bundle of flowers in her hand.
She slowly takes the rough textured envelope from the servant, and Rose shuffles next to her as he returns back inside.
On the front of the paper is simply her name written in, what looks to be very shaky calligraphy.
Opening the envelope and taking out the small roll of parchment inside, she sees the handwriting is the same here as well, as if the author had been in a horrible rush.
I am so sorry, my dear, that I could not send word to you sooner. Things have taken a horrific turn in Alderaan. Things that are far too complicated to put into this letter.
Do not worry about me. I was able to get to Coruscant and find shelter with Dr. Finn Storm. He and a colleague we came into contact with are on their way to Takodana and should be arriving any day.
I was going to accompany them, but I’ve decided this situation is far too dangerous. I ask you to take the next available train to Dantooine as soon as you possibly can and meet me at the church. With your consent, I believe we should marry the instant you arrive.
I promise I will explain everything to you once we’re together again. Words can not express how much I’ve missed you over these long weeks.
All my love,
Rey can only stare at the inked paper, seeing it tremble slightly in her hands as she gazes at the name signed at the bottom.
The flowers drop to the ground, and her eyes follow the blue and white petals that splay out over the stone steps of the porch.
Kylo. She remembers now, she was going to bring them to Kylo, tonight. She’s spent every night with him. How many nights, she can’t recall. But there have been many. Perhaps it’s been weeks, or months…
She hadn’t even thought once about Poe in all that time.
“Oh, Rey, how exciting!” Rose squeals with joy, latching onto Rey’s arm. “You’re going to be married! Oh, goodness, we don’t even have time to get you a gown or give you a proper wedding… oh, Rey, I’m not even going to be able to see you married…”
“Poe,” Rey breathes, feeling a sickly shiver of guilt in her chest.
What is wrong with her? She has betrayed him. This isn’t who she is… there must be something wrong.
He’s right then. They should be married immediately. That will put things back to the way they were, that will finally clear her head of this horrid need for this affair…
“I must leave,” she speaks, her voice trembling as much as she is.
She doesn’t even wait for Rose before turning sharply and running into the house to get her things.
“Well… of course,” Rose agrees, running to chase after her. “Let me help you pack at least-”
“Rose, we have to hurry. I need to get on the train tonight.”
Not far from the grand estate, Kylo watches from the shadows, hearing everything, seeing all his progress drop away in an instant all because of one letter.
“I should have killed him,” he hisses bitterly to himself, watching his Rey rushing off to prepare to marry that bothersome lawyer.
As soon as she had begun to read that letter, he felt her heart changing, shying away from him once again, returning to hide in her shell of morality and fearfulness he had been breaking away bit by bit in the past few days.
He takes a moment to calm himself, knowing that doing nothing but scowling over this matter won’t help him at all.
Rey is not lost from him. He won’t allow it. He knows she feels the connection they share, no matter how much she’ll want to deny it.
He’ll stop her from going to him. She won’t leave, not now.
Rey arrives at the station even earlier than she had expected. It had taken her no more than ten minutes to collect all of her things, change into appropriate traveling clothes, and rush herself across town down to the train station where the next train to Dantooine is leaving at 4:15 on the dot, only fifteen minutes from now.
She seems to be the only one here, which she at first believes is because she’s a bit early to be standing right in front of the railroad, waiting for the train to start boarding, but after a while, things begin to feel very strange.
There doesn’t seem to be a single soul around, not even workers or people rushing off to other parts of the station to catch their train.
Rey suddenly feels as if she’s the only one in the entire station.
She shifts uncomfortably, gripping her large travel bag tightly in one hand, the other reaching up to curl her heavy green coat tightly around her.
She stares at the large transport in front of her, holding her breath as she waits for the doors to hiss open, allowing her to rush inside to the sweet sanctuary of the confined space.
She doesn’t turn around at first, but stands up straighter, willing her mind to push out the seductive presence slithering its way into her mind.
“Leave me alone,” she demands, though her voice isn’t nearly as strong as she’d hoped it would be. “I’m leaving, I can’t continue on with you like this…”
“You don’t love him, Rey. You know you don’t.”
She feels a thrill of anger run through her as she whips around to face the tall, dark being that is gazing at her from the shadows of the station.
“How dare you,” she glowers at him. “Your spells aren’t going to work on me any longer.”
“There was never a spell, Rey. I simply awakened your desire.”
She takes a step back as he moves forward, seeming to glide across the ground, his dark robes flowing out behind him.
He always watches her so closely, as if afraid to miss even a twitch of her hand, a brush of her eyelash. It makes Rey feel as if she truly has nowhere to hide, even in her mind.
“I love you,” he speaks, his voice sounding different this time as he speaks. It is still laced with the darkened, commanding tone that sends shivers through her, but this time, she is almost able to make out a glimmer of something else. “This wasn’t my plan. I wasn’t supposed to fall for you, but… Rey, I’m afraid you’ve… I feel something deeper for you. I know you feel it too.”
Rey feels tears welling in her eyes as her heartbeat quickens, unable to move away now as he continues moving towards her, his eyes never leaving hers, never even taking a moment to blink.
“You don’t love him,” he repeats. “And he doesn’t love you, not in the way you want. Rey, can’t you see I can feel what’s inside you, I know what you want. You don’t want to be lonely, but with him, that’s how you will remain.”
He’s so close to her now. Like they were the night she had dinner with him. When they had kissed.
“I can give you what you want,” he speaks, one hand moving towards her hip, as if to pull her closer until her body is pressed up against his, his other hand rising toward the side of her face to brush gently along her cheek. “I know what you feel. I can love you the way you deserve to be loved.”
Rey feels it again. The bond, pulling her toward him, begging her to give herself to him. To let go. She hears his voice echoing in her head.
It would be so much easier…
She yanks away, as if having been suddenly burned by his touch.
No. He is nothing but an illusion, a creature of seduction.
“Your magic won’t work on me anymore,” she informs him again, gritting her teeth in anger as she backs further and further away from him. “I am not afraid of you. And I will not be intimidated by you.”
She only catches a glimpse of his expression before she turns away toward the opening doors of the train.
He looks… stunned. Not enraged as she predicted, but as if he truly had believed she would have chosen to stay with him, to continue this affair. He looks helpless, as if he is longing for something else to say, or do, but can find nothing.
She reaches out to grip the handle before rushing up the steps and into the safe sanctity of the train.
She can feel his gaze on her, his hold on her, slowly dropping away as the engines of the train begin to roar to life.
Rey doesn’t look out the window or acknowledge the lingering presence in her head as the train slowly pulls away from the station, leaving Kylo Ren behind, reaching out after her to nothing but her cold refusal.
Chapter 9: Life After Life
Thank you everyone for all the kind comments!
Rage is the only thing Kylo sees as he moves ruthlessly through the dark woods, tearing his way through the shadows back toward the Tico estate. Anger burns in his throat as he grits his sharpened teeth, aching to tear through flesh.
Any remorse or heart warming affection he might have felt has dropped away, as if it had never come about at all. All he feels in his chest is maddening fury for Rey at daring to refuse him, and at himself for letting her escape so easily.
He knows he should have turned her that evening on the lake. When she had been so naive and so willing to allow him to do anything he wanted with her.
Now she’s gone…
“You think me a demon, my dear,” he grins to himself, feeling his being yearn for his delightful revenge. “Then I shall be.”
He stands in the center of the woods, where he had been the first night he’d tried calling her toward him. But the other girl had come instead.
He calls directly to her now, finding her restless in her bed as his haunting presence fills her dreams, her mind.
She doesn’t hesitate for a moment to fall to his influence, her will about as strong as a blade of grass compared to Rey’s.
It takes the young woman almost no time at all to remove herself from the safety of her bedroom and come waltzing right into Kylo’s trap.
“My dear Rose,” he hums as she stands before him in wonder, her thoughts muddled from his magic.
She hums contentedly, rocking herself into his arms, leaning her head back and offering her bare neck to him, following his silent commands.
He pulls her closer, the smell of her racing blood practically sending him into a frenzy. But he knows he must be delicate with this.
He’s slow as he sinks his teeth into her neck, careful to only take a bit of blood, infecting her veins with his poison that begins to quickly spread through her body.
She only lets out a small cry of pain, gasping as she feels his aura consume her, the venom in her blood beginning to attack her cells, killing her slowly before reincarnating her into the undead.
He releases her, letting her fall back to the ground, holding a hand to her neck as she pants in pain.
It is a long and slow transformation. Quite painful too, though Kylo has been dead for so long, he has no way of guessing how much pain his victims suffer through during their transition after he has torn open their necks and filled them with his poison.
He watches now, with curiosity as he always done, and with growing pride as Rose writhes on the ground for what feels like hours, though Kylo can hardly feel the time pass as he’s sure Rose is.
He almost feels pity for the poor thing, though it’s hardly enough to make him hesitate with his plans.
This girl is simply the first of hundreds he will turn in this town.
Finally, her movements begin to calm, becoming slower as her mortal body dies and she begins awakening to her new form.
“Your wound will heal,” he informs her as she slowly sits up, looking around as if waking up for the first time in her life. “And then you’ll belong to me. You will have eternal life, and eternal thirst. You feel it already. The burn in the back of your throat.”
She touches her other hand to her throat, looking up at him in confusion as she continues finishing her slow transformation.
“Only I can allow you to relieve your thirst. You will obey me and serve my every request. If you do not, you will find yourself tormented for all eternity.”
“Blood,” she breathes, staring down at her own dark red supplement that has stained the hand holding her wound. “Blood… please…”
Kylo pulls back the sleeve of his robe, using his teeth to tear off one of his leather gloves.
He drags the claw of his finger down his forearm, resulting in a seeping line of scarlet liquid.
The suffering little thing flings herself forward, collapsing onto him as she grabs at his arm, pulling it toward her lips.
He gently caresses down the back of her head as she drinks, sealing her fate.
“Now you are mine,” he speaks as she gulps down the elixir that will satisfy her hunger.
“I’m yours,” she breathes against his skin.
It only takes a minute or so before she has feasted sufficiently on his blood and Rose’s transformation is complete.
A new woman stands before him now, a creature of the night full of lust, desire, rage, and thirst, much like his brides back in Alderaan.
“What will we do now?” she asks him, giggling playfully as she throws her arms around him, hanging off him like a bat as her lips crawl across his face while he stands still, looking out over the luscious little town from his perch in the trees.
“You will hunt,” he tells her. “Only enough to start a small panic that will grow until this town knows it is helpless against us. Then we will find more, more servants, until our army is unstoppable. We will never go hungry, we will never be defeated.”
She moans in delight, pressing herself harder against his body, her legs wrapping around his waist.
“Enough,” he orders, pulling her away. “Do as I’ve instructed. Hunt.”
She gives him a mischievous smile, her sharp teeth glinting in the moonlight as a low growl of hunger shudders through her throat.
Kylo watches in delight as her form disappears into the night sky, a wave of blackness moving through the air, ready to prey on the naive town that is soon about to find themselves under a reign of terror.
There’s no need to think of Rey now. This is what he came here to do. Create an army, an unstoppable force, not to go chasing after a hapless little human.
No need to worry after her. He has a brand new feeding ground to devour.
Finn couldn’t help but be disappointed that Poe had decided to go to Dantooine instead of back to Takodana with him and Luke, mostly because he isn’t so sure about being left alone with the slightly crazed looking man. Even on the long journey over, Skywalker never said a word, just stayed in his cabin all day and all night, hopefully coming up with a plan, though he never spoke a word of it to Finn.
He knows Poe had wanted to go to Dantooine with Rey to keep her safe. Of course he would. He loves her. And Finn is no fool. When Poe had told him they would be hiding out at a chapel, he was able to quickly conclude that they were going to be married.
Finn knows it’s pointless to be jealous now. Even if he’d been braver, told Poe of his feelings before he could go on with his plan to marry Rey, it wouldn’t make a difference. The best thing to do now is take his mind off it, since the next time he sees Poe, the man will be married.
He doesn’t know what to expect here in this normally quiet little town. As soon as he and Skywalker stepped off the vessel, Finn almost expected to find the townspeople running frantically about for their lives, being chased after ghouls flying through the sky, swooping down to feed off their prey.
Instead, things are eerily quiet, and Finn can’t tell if that’s good or bad.
“Should we speak with the Mayor?” he questions as he hurried to keep up with Skywalker’s quick pace.
“We could,” he huffs, as if the question were the silliest thing he’s ever heard. “Then we can be thrown out of town once everyone gets word of how cracked we are.”
“They know me,” Finn insists. “They know I’m a sensible man, they will believe our story once we show them the facts.”
“See if they still respect you after you give ‘em this take,” the man laughs loudly. “I assure you doctor, you can present them with the creature itself, and they’d still laugh you right out of the room.”
“Sounds like you know from experience.”
Luke doesn’t speak another word until they arrive at police headquarters. Finn decides not to ask him how he knows his way around here as if he’s been here before.
“We will start an investigation of our own,” he informs Finn before they step into the building. “We ask for nothing but information. We’re curious townsfolk, that’s all. Tell them nothing.”
Finn knows he’s a terrible liar, and he doesn’t quite want to test his luck with law officials, so he lets Skywalker do the talking, and merely nods his head in polite greeting whenever an officer recognizes him.
Skywalker gives them some garble about being a writer coming all the way from across the country and wanting to gather research for an investigative story he’s working on.
Unfortunately this doesn’t turn up much, and Finn guesses that is because the law officials in the town wouldn’t want a writer from across the country to pen up any negative aspects of Takodana.
They are however able to determine that there is something that definitely has the police in a bit of a frenzy, since they all seem a bit out of sorts, rushing about the station mysteriously, trying to dodge certain things Skywalker inquires about.
They are able to eventually gather up some of the newspapers released over the past couple of days and find out, to neither of their surprise, that there have been a handful of horrific murders each night, the bodies drained of blood, some torn up as if a beast had attacked.
What surprises Finn, and definitely sends a pondering look over Skywalker’s face, is the fact that most of the victims have been small children, stolen from their cribs in the night.
What shocks the two of them even more are the reports of a few nurses who have claimed to see a ghostly woman floating off into the woods with the stolen children.
“This doesn’t add up,” Finn whispers quietly as Luke mills over the paper in his hands detailing the latest missing child who will no doubt turn up dead next. They had moved to a quiet spot outside the station where no one would disturb them.
“It certainly does,” Skywalker argues. “These killings are the work of someone young, new. Hungry. A creature with such experience as Kylo Ren wouldn’t leave such a mess.”
He tosses the paper to Finn, who nearly drops the papers suddenly flying his way.
“Look here,” Skywalker directs, pointing to a thin column on the side of the newspaper.
Finn cocks his head to read the small headline that details a young woman from a considerably comfortable family who had gone missing just a few nights ago.
“Rose Tico… I know this woman,” Finn exclaims, looking over at Luke in horror. “You don’t think… you don’t think he has killed her too?”
“Not entirely. Though it’s safe to say she would not be the same woman you remember when we encounter her.”
“What do you mean?” Finn asks slowly, though he’s afraid he knows exactly what the man is saying. “You can’t think that she’s the one… that’s not possible, I know her… Rose would never harm a child-”
“Demons like these will harm anyone in their crazed thirst for human blood. She’s going after children because they’re easy. In time, should we allow this to progress, she will learn to hunt more mature humans, when she learns how to stop them from running from her.”
Finn almost wants to shout at the man to stop these awful accusations at once, but he knows what the man is saying could be very possible.
“Why?” he asks, looking helplessly down at the newspaper. “Why would he do this?”
“He’s creating his army,” Skywalker answers. “This friend of yours just happened to be the first victim."
Skywalker doesn’t waste any time getting straight to the point, and he doesn’t look that resentful about it either.
"You of course know what we have to do.”
Finn feels slightly sick.
“We can’t,” he starts shakily, his eyes wide with horror. “We can’t just kill an innocent woman-”
“I’ve already informed you, she’s not the woman you know. You might as well consider her dead, her body only kept alive by an evil curse that we must rid her of so that she may rest in peace.”
The thought of it is enough to send Finn’s mind reeling, but the way Luke talks of the matter as if it were simply a chore to be done makes him feel even more ill.
“We’ll need to move quickly,” he continues, snatching the paper from Finn and tucking it into the pocket of his cloak. “First thing I need to know is where this woman lived, where was her home?”
“You can’t expect her to be just mulling about her house waiting for us.”
“Most new vampires will want to stick close to places they know, bring their victims there. That’s where we’ll have to start. And you’ll lead the way.”
“I really don’t think I can do this, Skywalker,” Finn says for the hundredth time as they wait silently out in the courtyard behind the Tico estate, huddling behind some bushes that Finn doesn’t feel hides them anywhere near well enough.
“Doctor, you’re going to need a stronger stomach in this line of work,” Luke replies, almost sounding bored as the two of them wait to see if Rose will come waltzing this way.
“This line of work?” Finn asks in disgust.
“I wouldn’t sneer upon it too much, Dr. Storm. My line of work keeps people out of your hospitals.”
“Oh, joy,” Finn sighs sarcastically.
“Hush, here she comes!” Luke suddenly whispers harshly, sending shivers down Finn’s spine as he crouches lower into the bush. “Now, remember the plan. I’ll distract her, you will sneak up behind her and drive this stake through her heart once I’ve wounded her.”
He shoves the sharp tipped weapon into Finn’s hands, who begins shaking as he realizes this is actually happening.
He nervously glances over the top of the bush to indeed see the silhouette of a woman walking slowly toward the courtyard, holding something in her arms.
As she floats closer, her white dress billowing in the wind as if she were a mere ghost, Finn can make out a small toddler clinging to the woman’s shoulders as she carries her across the courtyard and toward the woods.
It looks like Rose. Every inch of her looks the same, even down to the expensive, luxurious white gown. But there is an aura about her as she walks like a mindless zombie toward the woods, a child squirming in her arms that she is preparing to feast on, that solidifies Finn’s fears.
“Hurry now,” Luke whispers, lugging out a gigantic crossbow that he plans on using to injure the demon. “Before she gets beyond the tree line.”
He pours some kind of liquid onto the arrow from a tiny vial he retrieves from his cloak, but he quickly puts the item away before Finn can question what it is.
The man suddenly leaps from the bushes before silently shuffling along the side of the courtyard, his weapon at the ready as he gets closer behind the demon.
Finn probably would have found the sight to be comical had it been under different circumstances.
Gripping the wooden stake tightly in his sweating palms, Finn sucks in a deep breath, and begins to go in the opposite direction of Skywalker, ready to run up behind Rose once he begins distracting her.
Luke’s voice cuts sharply through the night air, making Finn’s heart jump as he leaps to hide behind a nearby tree as Rose whips around, a snarl tipping through her throat.
“Release that child immediately!” Skywalker calls to her, aiming his crossbow steadily as he speaks. “And remove yourself from this body.”
“Fool,” she hisses, her teeth gleaming as she smiles sadistically. Finn can only hear a tremor of what used to be Rose Tico’s voice, the usual playfulness now possessed by something entirely more sinister. “You can’t harm me.”
“Release the child and we shall see,” he responds, not lowering his weapon.
The toddler begins fussing about in her arms, clearly becoming distressed at the situation, but Rose just tosses her to the ground, her red eyes focused on Luke as long fangs grow from her front teeth.
Finn’s first instinct is to retrieve the crying child from the ground, but he knows doing anything now will give away his position. Rose is still too close to the tree line.
He waits as she grows claws from her previously human hands, her human looking face distorting into a devil-like image.
Finn isn’t sure he wants to believe what he’s seeing.
“Come!” Skywalker shouts from his unmoving position, egging the creature closer to him, away from the forest. “Show me your devilish powers if that is what you wish!”
Rose suddenly flies forward, her feet leaving the ground, claws outstretched as a horrible screech fills the air, and Finn feels his blood go absolutely cold.
Luke doesn’t even flinch as he pulls the trigger on the crossbow only seconds before Rose can sink her claws and teeth into his flesh.
The impact sends her straight to the ground, howling in pain as steam rises from the wound in her shoulder, her skin seeming to burn at the contact of the arrow.
“Mortal weapons may not harm you,” Skywalker muses as he loads another arrow into the crossbow, taking out that tiny vial once again. “But holy water will burn your damned flesh to the bone.”
Rose continues howling on the ground, her demonish features returning to those of the real Rose Tico, making Finn’s heart race in alarm as Luke shoots a second arrow into her opposite shoulder.
“Enough!” Finn exclaims, forgetting his place to stay silent and unseen behind the tree, instead running forward in an attempt to assist this woman whom he’s known for so many years.
“Now!” Luke shouts to him. “The stake, Finn!”
Finn stops dead in his tracks for a moment, much to Skywalker’s verbal irritation.
“Finn,” Rose gasps, looking up at him with pleading eyes as blood flows from her burnt flesh. “Finn, please help me…”
“You are helping her Finn, do it!” Skywalker commands when he sees the doctor frozen in place.
“Don’t, Finn,” Rose begs, her voice ringing with pain as she crawls closer to him.
“She’ll kill you, you fool!” Skywalker growls. “Save her!”
“Don’t hurt me Finn,” Rose speaks, her voice beginning to echo in his head as he holds the stake still in his hand. “You don’t want to hurt me…”
He kneels beside her, careful to avoid her eyes, feeling her sorcery pull at him.
“I’m so sorry, Rose.”
Before she can speak another word, he grabs the stake in both hands and drives the sharp point into her chest, unleashing a horrifying scream through the air that makes Finn’s insides curl.
He feels her influence drop away immediately as her body falls to the ground, now drenched in blood, her bright white dress now dyed a light red.
Finn refuses to look at her face as he stands up, nearly tipping over her and having to put his hands to his knees as he breathes deeply.
He killed someone. He killed someone…
Luke strides over to the body, pulling something else out of his cloak.
“Did… did I just…”
“Don’t waste your time, doctor,” Skywalker huffs. “You’ve done a good and noble thing. You’re a hero.”
Finn nearly jumps out of his skin when Skywalker suddenly heaves a huge blade down onto Rose’s neck, making a horrid sound that vibrates through the ground as it chops off her head.
“What are you doing!?” Finn asks in horror as he once again shields his eyes from the macabre sight. “She's already dead!”
“Always remove the head from the body of a vampire,” Luke instructs as he moves about the horrific scene, removing all the arrows from the body. “The devil’s magic works in strange ways.”
The two of them stop as a chill goes through the air, practically freezing them both in their spots as a chilling, angry growl tumbles through the trees in front of them.
“Don’t move,” Luke speaks as he stares straight ahead into the forest, looking like he’s seeing something that Finn can’t. “He’s here.”
Now Finn is sure his blood has frozen in his veins.
The very Earth seems to still as the two men gaze into the dark wood, feeling the presence glowering back at them, the air shaking with rage.
It’s a long moment where Luke stands still, his body unmoving as he seems to have a private interaction with the unseen demon that Finn can’t comprehend.
Finn startles when Skywalker finally takes a sharp breath, stepping back away from the woods.
“What?” he asks, fearfully looking between the softly swaying trees and the shaken looking man.
“He is a powerful one,” Skywalker breathes, his wide eyes still staring out into the forest. “This is more alarming than I thought.”
“Well exactly how alarming were you presuming this situation was?” Finn asks, a lace of irritation in his tone. “I didn’t presume hunting a creature who drains the blood of innocents would be an easy task myself-”
“We’re going to need more. More people, more men to hunt him down. It will take an army, just to fight him alone.”
“Are you mad?!” Finn almost laughs in disbelief. “Was it not you who said the town would have us thrown out if we divulge any of this to anyone?”
“I know,” Luke admits, now moving towards Rose’s mutilated body. “Which is why we’ll have to show evidence. We’ll just have to try our best, even if they don’t believe their own eyes. We might get lucky.”
Finn finds his palms begin to shake as he tries to keep from falling to his knees.
“You mean… we…”
“I’ll take the head, you help me carry the body. Quickly now, no time to waste.”
Chapter 10: Rey's Cry
It doesn’t take long for Finn’s letter carrying the dire news to arrive at the chapel in Dantooine. It was meant for Poe to read, but he can’t hide his reaction from Rey. The morning they were planning to be wed, she finds him in his room, the letter in front of him on the desk, his head resting in his hands.
“What is it?” she asks, not caring that he’s seeing her in her wedding attire before they’ve visited the altar. She had expected to find him at least slightly cheerful on the morning of their wedding, despite what he’d told her about the unspeakable trauma he’d endured at Ren’s castle in Alderaan. Trauma that he refuses to give her details about.
But he doesn’t hold back this time.
“Rose,” he speaks, his voice sounding as broken as ever. “She…”
Rey makes a grab for the letter on the desk, but he quickly rips it away.
“Don’t, you shouldn’t see-”
“I’m not as fragile as you think, Poe,” she insists, her heartbeat beginning to pick up as she snatches the paper from his hands.
Perhaps it would have been better if she’d listened. But she couldn’t. She could see it in Poe’s eyes and she knows before she even reads the words of the letter.
The letter that describes this demon, Kylo Ren, who is planning on taking over Takodana, turning the people into his creatures. That describes how her best friend Rose Tico was the first he had tried to turn. And therefore had to be slain.
Poe isn’t able to move fast enough to catch Rey before she runs off, faster than him even in the heavy grey satin gown she’d been adorned in this morning by the nuns.
She locks herself in her room, ignoring the many worried glances the nuns send her way as she rushes past them, her face twisted into a horrid pained expression as if she’d been stabbed in the chest.
Her sobs echo through her small room as she wraps her arms around herself, shaking as she hears the bells of the church ringing above her, almost in a mocking way, she thinks.
She closes her eyes tightly in refusal when she feels the familiar, now gruesome presence prodding at her mind.
“Oh, Rey,” he sighs, his tone sounding disappointed. “Why is it taking you so long to succumb to me?”
“You’re a monster!” she hisses, opening her eyes to see him standing before her, a vision in her head playing as if it were real. “Why can’t you leave me be, you cursed devil?!”
“I’ve told you before, Rey,” he speaks, pacing before her, his frightening eyes gazing upon her as if she were his next prey. “I am not going to stop until you surrender to me. You know it’s your destiny to be like me, to rule with me-”
“I am nothing like you!” she spits back at him, feeling the anger gurgling in her throat, wishing she could spit venom at this fiendish creature. “You’re a murderer, you’re cruel. Damn you to hell!”
“I’m already damned, Rey,” he continues calmly, circling her now, his black robes dragging against the stone floor as if he were actually standing here in this room with her. “And it has given me such great power. Power you could share with me. Power that would ensure you to never feel lonely, or lost ever again.”
“You killed her,” Rey cries, unable to help the painful gasp that escapes her lips. “She never did a thing to you, and you killed her…”
“I did nothing of the sort. I gave your friend the gift of eternal youth. I intended her to live a long, purposeful life for all eternity. It was a couple of vicious hunters who decided to kill her.”
Rey glares back at him, unamused.
“I don’t find you humorous,” she informs him.
He has the audacity to grin.
“Why are you doing this?’ she asks him, forcing back the tears that want to spill down her face. “Why do you need to hurt people like this?”
“It’s my nature, Rey. Just like it’s a wolf’s nature to hunt and kill a deer. I have to kill to survive.”
“But I’ve seen who you are,” she insists. “You don’t really want this.”
Now it’s his turn to change his face to a cold, glaring expression.
“You know nothing about me, Rey,” he tells her, his playful tone turning rapidly to a deep, dangerous growl, as if he were warning her away from the topic.
She of course, doesn’t care what he wants.
“All that fills you now is hate, why?” she demands, feeling his growing anger in her mind and matching it with her own, pushing against the barrier of his mind. “Why do you want to hurt me and everyone I love?”
He’s suddenly flying towards her, his eyes looking like fire as he shoves her against the wall, his hand on her throat as he growls down at her.
“I know you think you can turn me. You think you see something in me that you can manipulate, that you can use to bring back some pitiful child from my past.”
His gloved hand curls against her throat tighter, not enough to strangle her, but enough to make the threat of it loud and clear.
“Ben Solo is dead,” he hisses into her ear as he turns her head slightly, his cold voice sending a chill through her that painfully grips her heart.
His voice begins to melt into something softer, more seductive as his lips start tracing along the side of her face.
“And you will not evade me for much longer, my dear. I grow closer to you each moment. You are unable to get me out of your head.”
His lips curl into a smile against her cheek as he moves his thumb up along her jaw before trailing his lips down to the skin of her throat.
Rey is still against the wall, her breath coming in pants as she feels her body respond to his touch.
“You want me, Rey. You crave what I have to offer you. And soon, I will give it to you.”
His lips place a gentle kiss against her throat while her eyes close, her mind on the verge of slipping into a welcoming abyss.
She shoves him back away from her, and then shoves against his mind, making him appear to jump.
“I know what you did to Poe,” she continues, stepping closer to him, as if he were now her prey. “You were the one who made Armitage Hux go insane, weren’t you?”
She feels as if she could strangle him, claw at his face, rip his insides out, tear his dead heart from his chest.
“Rey!” he snarls at her, but he sounds so far away now as she forces her way through his head, easily entering his thoughts now, finding herself tearing through the fragments of his mind rather than his actual flesh.
She is hit with a wave of emotions that were the last things she expected to feel.
Hurt. Loneliness. The longing to love. To be loved.
She finds him again. Ben.
So alone, trapped, and afraid, somewhere deep inside Kylo Ren. Calling to her. Begging again for help.
She sees a Prince, left alone by the early death of his parents. Isolated from the world. With so much love to give, but no one to give it to.
She sees him betrayed by his own men, the only family he’s ever known. Forced out of his home. Left with nothing to lose, his hurt and sorrow covered up with anger as he casts himself into the fire, willing to play into the devil’s hands.
Rey feels as if she’s been in the horrid vision for days by the time she falls back out of the deepest part of Kylo’s mind, finding herself back in her chambers at the chapel.
He’s on the ground, panting heavily, looking more human than ever as he trembles in fear, looking up at her, frightened, yet in awe.
Rey realizes tears are now freely flowing down her face as she looks at the shattered man before her, corrupted by darkness and hate.
“What has happened to you, my love?” she whispers in pain and terror, the echo of Ben’s cry to her still ringing quietly in her ears.
He rises from the ground, as piece by piece, he replaces his morbid persona.
“You are powerful, my dear,” he breathes, his voice still quite not as strong and dangerous sounding as it had once been as he seems to brush himself off. “It is… endlessly fascinating.”
“Ben,” she speaks shakily, beginning to reach her hand towards him, wanting to drop to her knees and beg him to come back.
“No,” he answers her question sharply, a snake-like his in his tone. “He is dead. What you saw was a ghost.”
She shakes her head, ready to refute him. She knows what she saw.
“You’d better run along now,” he nods, that cruel grin crossing his lips once more. “It looks as if you have a wedding to attend.”
She looks down at her somber wedding dress, feeling him step closer, his palm circling the side of her face, tilting her head back up to him.
“It is so much more exciting for me to corrupt a married woman, my beautiful Rey.”
She opens her mouth to berate him, only to find his mouth crashing down upon hers, his tongue sweeping gracefully through her mouth as she closes her eyes in surprise.
It takes her a moment to remember who it is she’s kissing, and angrily reaches up to scratch the side of his face, but as soon as her hand comes up, it catches nothing but air.
She gasps, opening her eyes to find herself standing alone in her small bed chambers now, she hears once again the echo of a pained cry billowing quietly through the air.
Rey… Rey, I love you… please help me…
She doesn’t want her heart to weep for this terrible, broken man. After all he’s done to her, to Poe… to Rose…
Yet still, Rey feels the irritating tug at her chest that yearns to rescue the man calling to her, the man that this strange power is somehow connecting her to.
Her eyes close again as she holds her hands to her heart, not wanting to lose the feeling of the man’s presence inside her.
“Ben,” she speaks softly to herself, somehow hoping he’ll hear her. “How do I find you, my love?”
Chapter 11: Before the Summer Ends
Even Poe has to admit Rey makes a pretty sad image for a bride.
Her hair has been pulled into a low bun, which is far from her personal style, her grey colored gown looks as if it’s swallowing her, and her matching veil hovers around her form in a way that makes her look more like she’s in mourning than about to be wed.
Perhaps this is why he senses what conversation is about to take place when she walks into his room an hour before they are due down in the chapel.
He can see it in her eyes before she says anything, and he’s known it for maybe a few months now. Probably longer than she has.
Her hands wring together in front of her, and she can’t even raise her eyes to meet his once she’s standing in front of him.
“I love you, Poe,” she speaks, her voice sounding hoarse, as if she’s been crying or shouting. “I can’t find a way to begin thanking you for what you’ve done for me…”
Even though her words are meant to express gratitude, Poe can’t help but feel guilty at her statement.
“But…” he begins, wanting to get to the point, what she’s wanted to say to him for a while now.
“I can’t marry you.”
He’s thankful for her lack of hesitation, but the sentence still stings him in a way he hadn’t expected.
He sits down on the four poster bed, resting his elbows on his knees as she tentatively steps toward him, looking like she’s afraid of what his reaction will be.
“I know,” he replies, finding himself unable to look her in the eye now. “I think I’ve known for a while.”
“Me too,” she nods quietly. “I just… this isn’t the life for me. And I can’t keep pretending that it’s what I want. But Poe… you and your family have been so generous to me-”
“Marriage isn’t a way you should have to repay us,” he tells her seriously, finding it refreshing to get this all off his chest. “All I want is for you to be happy. And if that’s not with me, I can… I can accept that.”
In truth, seeing the relief on her face makes him all the more guilty. He hadn’t truly realized just how trapped she must have felt in this engagement. Simply following what she thought everyone wanted, what she thought would be the right thing to do. He’d never really sat down with her before to really talk about what she wanted out of life.
Her voice sounds full of hope now, which makes him at least slightly happier.
“It’s alright,” he nods, still keeping his eyes on the floor. “I love you too. And I will always be here when you need me.”
She moves forward to grab his hands in hers, kneeling down so she can look at his face, and he regretfully meets her gaze.
He wonders if he should say more, but there really isn’t much to say now. So they stay like this a little longer before Rey rises to her feet once more, pausing as if she is going to say something else, before turning and heading towards the door, the sound of her gown sweeping against the floor breaking the dead silence.
Poe stays in his bed chambers a little longer, removing (with great satisfaction) the incredibly stiff dress coat that was to be part of his suit for the wedding. He considers changing out of the entire suit, but instead finds himself walking out into the empty halls of the convent, strolling out towards the small courtyard, beginning to walk back forth down the twisting stone paths, his eyes staring into nothing.
It’s pointless to be as solemn as he is. Anyone could see there was nothing close to passionate between him and Rey. Yet he can’t help but feel a horrible sense of loss, as if a limb had been cut away from him. Perhaps he had been holding on to hope that he and Rey’s relationship would blossom into the thing everyone assumed it was. Maybe he wanted the chance to find out if they could eventually fall in love.
Time, he had always promised himself. In time, they would feel that wonderful spark of joy, the deep sensation in their hearts for each other.
Eventually, he has collapsed down onto the edge of a fountain, staring down at his hands, too numb or shocked to cry.
Has she given up hope with me?
The young lawyer tries not to tumble back straight into the water when turning sharply to find the source of the hesitant sounding voice that had spoken out from behind him.
Finn Storm, probably the last person Poe would have thought of to find standing in the courtyard, is beside the fountain, his chest moving heavily as if he’d been running up until now, but his frazzled appearance is accompanied by a look of confusion as his tired eyes study Poe closely.
“Is everything alright?” he asks, now sounding worried as he moves a step closer, looking as if he isn’t quite sure what he should do.
Poe stands up, rushing towards the man with an odd need to embrace him, grateful at his familiar and comforting presence.
“What are you doing here?” he asks, almost laughing, at this point sure that hysteria might be setting in. He stops himself almost two inches from the doctor, his arms almost outstretched to grab him and tell him everything that had happened.
“Have you gotten my letter?” Finn asks, still looking concerned over Poe’s state.
“Just this morning,” he answers, the somberness setting back in when he remembers their little problem. “I’d thought you would be back in Takodana with Skywalker…”
“Change of plans,” he answers, urgency now replacing the worry in his tone. “He says we need more men. Anyone we can get. We plan on going back to Coruscant tomorrow to gather more forces.”
It takes Poe a moment to process this battle plan Finn seems to be describing.
“So… what are you doing here?” he questions.
“To get you and Rey to come with us,” he replies, reaching forward to grab his arm, as if ready to run off and board the next vessel this very second. “Luke thinks she should stay in Coruscant while we all go back to Takodana to defeat this thing, and God knows how many others he’s created.”
Despite everything, Poe finds himself beginning to grin in amusement at the doctor.
“Was this too much to put in a letter?” he asks him.
Finn shifts on his feet, taking a step back as he takes on a look of embarrassment.
“I imagined you would want someone to safely accompany you and your wife. Just in case this monster has caught onto our plan. Luke is fairly skilled in protecting against these things, as I’ve found out first hand.”
Poe can tell that Finn catches his reaction to these words.
“What is wrong, really?” he asks again, stepping back towards him. “Is there something the matter with Rey?”
“No,” Poe answers with a shake of his head. “Nothing’s the matter at all. Quite the opposite. She’s realized we’re not meant to marry.”
Finn’s expression reads that he is desperately trying to find a response that is most appropriate to this.
“I don’t… I don’t understand why…”
“You know why,” Poe admits. “I think we all did.”
Finn doesn’t dispute this.
“I’m so sorry, Poe.”
Poe doesn’t want Finn to be sorry.
“It would have been wrong for us to go through with it. We don’t love each other the way we should, as man and wife.”
Finn just nods slowly, swallowing nervously before meeting Poe’s eyes.
“Anyway, this is no matter to be worrying about now,” Poe reminds him. “It sounds as if we have a war we need to prepare for.”
The vessel departs from Dantooine the moment the sun rises the next morning, carrying only Luke, Finn, Poe, Rey, the captain, and a handful of deckhands, due to dock in Coruscant in two days' time.
Rey hasn’t said much to anyone ever since her conversation with Poe. Most hours she spends sitting upon a barrel of supplies aside the ship, looking out into the deep blue nothingness ahead of them, relishing the peace it seems to bring to her frazzled mind.
Everything is so much easier when she doesn’t have to think about things. Like what she’s going to do next.
“So you must be Miss Rey Dameron.”
Rey nearly falls off the barrel as she turns to face the man speaking to her.
It’s that mysterious man the doctor had brought with him. The man that is supposedly going to help them defeat Kylo Ren.
“Or at least you were about to be,” he corrects himself, standing before her with his hands crossed, studying her as if she were a fascinating exhibit in a museum.
Rey straightens herself, shaking away her weariness.
“And you are… Skywalker, is it?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m afraid you and I aren’t going to be off to starting any grand friendship.”
“What do you mean by that?” she asks, narrowing her eyes carefully at the odd man.
“You see,” he begins after taking a short breath and pacing slowly towards her, moving his hands behind his back, “I have the unfortunate task of defeating this… lover of yours.”
Rey feels her heart still in her chest as her eyes go wide, automatically looking around to see if anyone is close by or at least close enough to hear what this man had just said.
“Not to worry,” Skywalker goes on, after following her gaze. “Your secret is quite safe. At least you are a decent enough woman to conclude it would be quite immoral to go through with the wedding.”
Rey doesn’t say anything as the man walks up to gaze out over the side of the ship, where she has been sitting.
She’s frightened of this man. It’s almost as if he can read her every thought just like Kylo, only this presence she can’t even feel inside her mind.
“I know it will be hard to understand,” he speaks, his voice somewhat softer, but his hard expression unchanging. “But when the time comes, and you’re begging for us not to destroy him, we will not be so lost as to believe in this fantasy you must have of him.”
Rey is still too afraid to speak, shrinking back a bit as he turns toward her.
“I know what you must be feeling,” he speaks, though she finds little sympathy in his tone. “I’ve seen it a hundred times before, with a hundred different women. You mustn’t fall for his trickery, Rey. He will destroy you.”
Her gaze spikes with anger as she stares back at him.
“You think of me as nothing but a weak little fool who has fallen in love with a monster,” she asserts to him. “You know nothing of me. Of what I’ve seen.”
“Yes, I’m sure he’s shown you many wonderful things,” Skywalker responds, sounding quite unimpressed. “It doesn’t change who he is. What he’s done.”
Rey turns away again, staring mindlessly out over the sea, her palms starting to shake.
“He’s been doing this for thousands of years,” Skywalker continues, as if wanting to drive the knife all the way home. “And before that, he killed his own men before swearing himself to the devil. You can’t fall for a pair of pretty eyes and a facade he’s given you.”
Rey recognizes these exact thoughts as some she had herself when she had found out about Rose’s death. When all the horrible mysteries about this man who’d been romancing her had been confirmed.
“I want to believe you,” she answers quietly. “I want nothing more than for this monster to be destroyed.”
She takes a deep breath, feeling a sharp stab of pain when feeling that familiar pull, egging her toward the man she’s beginning to fall so deeply in love with, but doesn’t understand how.
“But I’ve seen something in him. And I can’t believe he’s entirely this evil thing that he’s turned into.”
Luke doesn’t respond to this, and Rey takes the opportunity to see herself back to her cabin.
It’s evening when the shop docks in Coruscant. Skywalker is the first to leap off the ship and bound his way into town, a man on a mission.
“You go on,” Finn nods to Poe, gesturing him to follow Skywalker. “I’ll take Rey to my office and get her settled.”
Rey looks to Poe, unsure if they should hug or give each other some form of goodbye, but it’s as if the termination of their engagement had cut something off between them that shields them from interacting the way they used to.
Therefore, their goodbye amounts to a short nod from both of them, Rey unable to even make eye contact.
She and Finn walk wordlessly to the asylum, the building making a sinister silhouette against the moonlit sky, making Rey shiver. She’s never been to an institution like this before, and she isn’t quite sure what to expect.
“The room above my office has a bed and kitchen and a bathroom,” Finn explains to her, seeming like he’s trying to keep her calm while he leads her through the dark entrance to the hospital. “You can stay there for the time being.”
“I don’t know how long it will be,” he continues after they’ve begun ascending the stairs through the hospital. “But hopefully Skywalker will have gathered all the men he thinks he needs by tomorrow night…”
The sounds are different from what Rey had expected. She thought perhaps she’d hear screams echoing off the walls, moans of pain coming from every cell. Instead, she simply hears the rush of footsteps as the staff moves around from room to room.
Rey pauses just in front of one of the hallways, her head turning as if directed, glancing down the row of cells, her eyes focused on the last one.
“Is this where you’re keeping Armitage Hux?” she asks, already knowing what the answer will be, though it takes the doctor a moment to respond.
“I… how did you…”
“I’d like to see him,” she says in a decisive tone, not waiting for him as she immediately begins walking down the eerie stone hallway.
She feels something shift in the air as she approaches the last cell, ignoring all the curious looks the rest of the patients give her as she makes her way down the rocky path that serves as a floor.
The red haired man is facing away from her when she walks up to the barred cell. He’s staring out the window, his hands circled around the bars as if trying to push himself right though the small opening.
“Mr. Hux?” Rey speaks, her voice sounding almost ghostly as it resounds through the cell. “Mr. Hux, I would like to speak with you, if I could…”
A hiss fills the air as the man snaps his head around to face her, his beady, animal-like eyes glaring at her as a sadistic smile spreads over his lips.
“You know where Kylo Ren is,” Rey asserts, unwilling to let this man frighten her off. “You know his plans, what he is going to do next.”
Hux crawls away from the window, his limbs moving like those of an insect.
“Rey,” he says slowly, the name twisting off his tongue in a way that makes Rey’s spine stiffen.
“Rey, be careful,” Finn whispers as he runs up beside, reaching to pull her away from the bars.
“You know who I am,” she continues as Hux creeps closer and closer. “You know what he wants with me.”
“The Master has such plans,” the man hums darkly. “Such plans for me when I finish following his orders… and such plans for you when he finds you.”
“He promised to turn you,” Rey says quietly as she undoes his riddle. “Just like he did to Rose… is that what he wants to do to me as well?”
“You,” he chuckles, his laugh seeming to shiver through Rey’s very core. Even as he laughs, there is no humor in his eyes, but something entirely more sinister. “You belong to him… he will take your very soul from your being. You, he will give all the treasures…”
Rey is about to ask him what he is talking about, when the man suddenly leaps forward, looking as if he’s ready to jump right through his cage.
She gasps in fear as she jerks away just before his skinny, claw-like hands can grab her.
“Why?!” Hux screeches, foaming at the mouth in rage as he stares fire into her. “Why her, Master? I have given you all, I have done your bidding! Yet you let me rot here while showering this ungrateful mortal with your pleasures!”
“Come away,” Finn speaks quietly, his arms around Rey’s waist as he begins guiding her away from the lost soul withering away in the dark cell.
“Why why why why?!” Hux continues crying out, rattling the bars of his cage, beginning to stir up some of the other patients.
“This is horrid,” Rey whispers, chilled by the man’s screaming mixed with the clanging of the bars.
“These are horrid times,” Finn answers as he rushes her toward the stairs that lead up to his private office and room. “I’m sorry you had to see that, Rey.”
She says nothing else, letting herself be led toward the calming silence of the office, and through the door hidden behind one of the bookshelves that leads to the stairwell that climbs up to a small room.
“I’ll just be in the office,” Finn tells her as she glances around the small but comfortable looking living quarters. “Let me know if you need anything.”
He leaves her to the silence of the empty room.
Downstairs, in the cold, haunted cell that had become the home of Armitage Hux, no one hears or sees the dark figure that rises from the mist seeping in through the barred window.
“Master,” Hux wails, staring up at the menacing phantom appearing before him as he drops to his knees. “I’ve done as you asked, Master. I’ve said nothing. You have your home, you can begin your reign… ”
But the man knows what is to come as he looks into the rageful eyes that peer at him through the dark hood that shields Kylo Ren from the world.
A gloved hand juts out from his black robes, catching Hux by the neck, lifting him easily off his feet as if he weighed nothing more than a rag doll.
The neck breaks in his hand, cutting off the man’s enraged screaming at his coming demise.
Kylo drops the lifeless body to the ground, not feeling a drop of remorse for the man that had dared threaten his prize as he disappears into the thick, eerie mist, crawling back out into the night.
Chapter 12: The Heart is Slow to Learn
Rey lies awake in the large bed in the room above the hospital. She can feel her body yearning to sleep, but her mind kept awake by the daunting feeling that something is coming for her.
Her thoughts are on Kylo, on Hux’s words about what he has planned for her. She knows she should be frightened. Perhaps she should take Luke’s advice, banish any remorse for this creature from her mind. He’s done terrible things. He killed Rose. He tried to kill Poe. He wants to turn her into a monster, just like him.
Yet, she feels that same yearning from him, a connection bringing them together. She knows somewhere, deep inside, he cares for her.
She doesn’t know why. She isn’t quite sure what about her would attract anyone. And still, there he is, his presence living inside her. Opening himself to her, as if on instinct.
Rey sits up in the bed, looking around the small room illuminated by a single oil lamp on the table beside her, casting odd shadows about the walls.
Placing her bare feet against the wooden floor, she walks slowly to the window in the wall beside the bed that looks over a portion of the city that is beginning to douse its lights for the night.
Reaching up with both hands, she grabs the latches of the glass panes, pulling them open, letting an icy breeze flutter into the room, blowing her hair back slightly as she breathes in surprise.
Her eyes stare, unblinking into the night, searching for something. She feels hypnotized, unable to turn away from the unmoving buildings, mesmerized by something she can’t see.
A thick, icy looking mist begins to rise from the darkness. It begins far from her, at the edge of the building, before seeming to crawl up the walls, spreading out along the hospital, as if searching for her. Feeling for her.
She steps back, away from the open window, feeling an unseen force guiding her back to the bed, where she lays herself under the covers and waits.
It isn’t long before she senses the mist seeping in through the open window, spilling out over the floor, inching its way toward the bed.
Her eyes are closed as she lays still, her breathing stopped in her throat as she feels the covers move around her frozen body, a surprising warmth, comforting as it crawls between the sheets.
A hand caresses down her side, dragging at her thin blue nightdress, the material scratching down her skin.
Her eyes open, gazing fearlessly into the cold black ones above her.
Kylo is laying on top of her as if he’d always been there, his raven black hair touching against the side of her face as he leans over her, his eyes sweeping hungrily over his prey.
She’s shocked to find he is hardly clothed, glancing downward just momentarily to see his bare chest hovering over her nightdress.
Rey shifts underneath him, unused to the feeling of a man’s body touching nearly every inch of her.
Feeling as if someone else is operating her movements, she reaches her hands up to brush her fingers through his soft hair, her mind incessantly encouraging her that is what she needs. This is where she belongs.
“You’re such a beautiful little creature, Rey,” he muses, his hands sweeping over her abdomen, around her waist, her thighs…
“Then why do you want to hurt me?” she asks him in return, her body squirming against his touch.
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he replies, and Rey swears she detects sorrow behind his words. “I just want you to be free…”
“Free, but under your control,” she counters, struggling not to lose her mind with his touches.
He just laughs softly as his hands begin lifting away her nightdress.
“I am certain you can find freedom in immortality, my dear,” he tells her as she gasps at his hands now running up her bare thighs.
Her hands instinctively reach up to push against his chest, but he catches one of her wrists in his significantly larger hand, bringing it up to gently run his lips along the tender skin.
She feels his teeth teasing along the side of her wrist, a growl humming in his throat as he presses her hand against his face, as if he wants to absorb it into his skin.
His other hand continues to move along her stomach, crawling up toward her bare breasts.
Rey gasps as she feels his teeth sink into the soft skin of her wrist.
He lets out a small moan as she feels him sucking the blood from her wrist. Such a strange sensation, as if pieces of her soul were slowly being drained away.
“I want you to be powerful,” he whispers into her skin. “You’re so beautiful, Rey… you taste so good… ”
“Why me?” she asks, her voice weak.
“We’re bonded. I don’t know how, but something has connected us. You are my destiny. And I am yours.”
She moves to push him away again, but he quickly snatches up both her wrists in his hand this time, pinning them above her head.
She opens her mouth to ask him what he thinks he’s doing, but his face lowers toward hers, his lips never letting the words leave her mouth.
Rey finds herself lost in a whirlwind of sensations she’s never experienced before. She’s sure she is not fully awake, feeling this painfully good feeling beginning to throb between her legs, a feeling that she only ever thought possible in dreams she’s had every now and then.
I love you, Rey… I want you…
Sighing contently at the voice inside her head, she arches her back against the bed after he releases her wrists, letting her curl her fingers in his hair once again as they kiss, his body pressing against hers, rubbing in a way that makes her want to scream.
His tongue sweeps inside her mouth, his fangs brushing along the inside of her lips.
Kylo sits up, pulling her up with him so that his knees are around her legs, his lower region pressed up against her waist.
“Tell me, Rey,” he whispers, his lips brushing along her jaw as she leans into him. “I know what you want… tell me…”
“I want you,” she admits, actually feeling a wave of relief at finally speaking the horrid confession out loud. “I want to be with you…”
He’s delighted at this, smiling against her skin as his tongue traces along her flesh.
“I can give you so much, Rey… you will live like a queen by my side…”
Rey’s mind is a blur of questions, asking herself if she really wants this, if finding her sense of belonging is worth turning into what he is.
“What are you asking of me?” she questions as his hand holds the side of her face, her skin turning to flames as he drags his hand along her body.
“You know,” he assures her, his black eyes boring into hers, making her want to turn away and hide from him.
As much as she despises what he is and what he wants from her, she finds a deep willingness in herself to give in.
Her breath quivering, she lets him hold her against his body, leaning her head back as she closes her eyes, offering him her neck.
“I love you,” she confesses. “I don’t know how, but… I love you…”
His hands move to press against her back, sending a reassuring wave through her, as if he’s somehow telling her she will be alright, she is safe with him.
Don’t be afraid he whispers in her head as his lips move to kiss along her neck, and she soon feels sharp teeth drag along her skin. I will be gentle…
When she feels the serrated, knife-like teeth break into the skin of her neck, Rey is surprised to not feel something quite like pain, but an overwhelming sensation as if her lungs are being suffocated. A venom beginning to crawl through her body.
She feels his lips, his teeth, blood leaving her body, but the pain numbed to a dull ache, while he seems to comfort her, at the same time drinking from her wound.
She’s weak in his arms by the time he pulls away, the scarlet dye of her blood stained on his mouth, looking all the more bright red against his pale skin and the soft pink of his lips.
His eyes stay on her as he raises his hand up, a clawed talon delicately slicing through the skin of his chest, creating a dark rose colored line down his skin.
“Drink,” he orders her, reaching his hand up to curl around the back of her head, bringing her lips closer to where his blood is dripping down his skin, like dark paint dripping down a statue of stone.
Rey wants to be repulsed by the thought of even touching her lips to it, but she finds a glowing ring of urge inside the pit of her stomach as her mouth draws closer to the liquid seeping from Kylo’s self inflicted wound.
Once the blood finally connects with her tongue, she can’t say the taste is splendid. But she also can’t find it within herself to pull away. In fact, her hands grip tightly onto his body, pulling him closer as she drinks from his wound, feeling as if the cursed blood soothes a deep ache inside her, like an itch one can’t reach or a sore muscle that couldn’t be relieved.
He suddenly pulls her away, making her cry out in frustration, much to her surprise.
She stares up at him questioningly, angered at the sensation she had felt, as if she’d been so close to finally relieving the burning inside her before he had yanked her away.
As she glares at him, she sees something change in the blackness of his eyes. Something that almost looks like… fear?
Rey reaches up to wipe away the blood from her mouth as the wound in Kylo’s chest slowly heals itself, sealing away her strange yearning sensation along with it.
What could he want from me now, she wonders as his eyes slowly look over her, almost seeming sympathetic now. As if she were a fragile little thing he is afraid of breaking.
“What’s wrong?” she asks, her hands tentatively touching his face in an effort to offer comfort.
He pulls her back toward him, his lips attacking hers, his hands tangling in the soft fabric of her nightgown until he has all but pulled it away.
Rey’s thoughts are racing as her instincts tell her to cover herself, but her body instead forces her to wrap her arms around Kylo’s neck, pressing her bare chest against his, melting herself into his kiss.
His hand clutches her breast, his thumb pressing over her nipple.
She groans in response, feeling goosebumps break out over her flesh, any feelings of awkwardness at being naked in front of someone long washed away by Kylo’s hands caressing over every inch of her body.
Her legs clamp together as his hand travels further down her waist.
Kylo growls, grabbing her knee and pulling her thighs apart before sliding his hand down the fabric of her underwear.
A cry escapes Rey’s throat as her fingernails sink into Kylo’s shoulders as his fingers brush against her folds.
She begins to feel lost with him, much in the way she felt when they had danced those few nights ago. The rest of Earth shatters away, and she becomes absorbed in him, wrapped up in a blanket of his warm darkness, that somehow seems less terrifying to her now.
It’s so much easier to give in, to allow her mind to travel to this dark place that has been calling to her.
Feelings she never thought even possible are upon her now, not just of her physical desire, but a promise demonstrated through Kylo’s every touch, every kiss, every stroke of his hand that he will never leave her alone. That he somehow loves her, loves every inch of her.
The bond that connects them hums in approval.
“I’m ready,” she insists, whispering in his ear as his hands move about her, paying attention to specific parts of her body with delicate care. “I’m ready to be with you, Kylo.”
Chapter 13: The Longer I Live
Finn’s face is terrified when Poe and Luke finally arrive, accompanied by the four, rather eager men Luke had somehow conjured up from only the first local tavern they visited. Poe isn’t quite sure that these are the type of men who will best form an army against the undead, but for now, it’s the only type of men who will believe their story.
“Alright, where is it?” one of the men asks, looking about Finn’s office as if he expected Kylo Ren to be casually standing beside a bookshelf. The man cocks his shotgun, making Finn practically trip over his desk trying to get out of the man’s range of fire.
“I’ve already told you, that’s going to be useless,” Skywalker informs him yet again, looking as if he wants very much to roll his eyes.
“That’s what you say, ya old bat, but I’ve yet to meet a problem that can’t be handled with a good ol’ rifle to the face,” the man replies, much to the huffed agreement of the three others, some of them bringing out small revolvers they’d brought along.
“Where on Earth did you pick these ones up?” Finn whispers to Poe once he’s scurried over beside him.
“Now keep it together, men,” Luke speaks, his tone commanding authority as it cuts sharply across the room, hushing all other side conversation.
After everyone has their attention on him, Luke slowly raises one hand, gesturing up towards the room above Finn’s office.
“If you march up there, guns blazing, all you might do is shoot the young lady. And then, I don’t doubt, we’ll have a real nasty retaliation on our hands.”
Poe has to take a moment before putting together what the man had just said.
“What in God’s name are you suggesting?” he asks, unsure of whether to be angered at Skywalker, or fearful of his words.
Luke waits a moment before answering, glancing up toward the ceiling, as if afraid someone is overhearing their conversation.
“He’s here now,” he answers simply, words that only seem to excite the four men from the tavern. “And we must make our next move very carefully.”
“Do you mean he’s up there with Rey right now?” Poe whispers in horror, already making his way toward the stairs behind the bookcase.
“Now just pace yourself, Mr. Dameron,” Skywalker warns him, reaching an arm out to block his way. “We must move slowly, and with great caution, or he will flee.”
“He’s no doubt feeding on her right now!” Poe protests, rage bubbling inside him at seeing Luke’s, apparently nonchalant attitude. “If he’s not killed her already!”
“He has not,” Skywalker answers him confidently. “He will not kill her, that is not his intention. She is to be his bride, his mate, if you will. After he has properly seduced her to his whims, which from what I have seen, he all but has, he will turn her, and she will rule at his side, the two of them intent on taking over the world, gathering as many followers as they can for their army of the undead.”
Poe is too stunned to have a verbal reaction to Luke’s description. It is too horrid, too cruel to ever think of Rey… Rey… she would never give in to something like that. She is so good, pure…
“And how exactly do you know this?” Poe demands, ready to look for any excuse to dispute Luke’s assumptions.
“That’s how these creatures work,” Skywalker simply replies with not even a blink of an eye. “It is in their nature. They may be tough to kill, but you can always count on every creature to have a pattern of some kind.”
“So he’s done this before?” Finn questions.
“Not Kylo Ren, as far as I know,” Skywalker admits, looking a bit unsure finally. “I always thought, since he was one of the first, he simply followed a different path. But after seeing that young woman he’s interacted with, after seeing that look she has in her eyes, that solemn, empty look… there’s no doubt he’s chosen her.”
“She is not a monster,” Poe speaks, his tone filled with warning.
“Not yet,” Skywalker responds, stepping around him, towards the stairs. “Follow behind me, and be prepared for anything. Doctor, Mr. Dameron, you still have your weapons?”
Finn and Poe reluctantly pull out the sharp tipped wooden crosses they had been armed with.
“Good,” Luke nods, keeping a grip on the crossbow hidden under his cloak. “Now keep a straight head, and say your prayers.”
The odd combination of men slowly ascend the dark stairwell that leads up to Finn’s private quarters.
Where Poe thought Rey had been sleeping safe and sound throughout tonight.
The spike of nervousness he feels once they reach the door isn’t even from the idea that they may be seconds away from facing this wretched creature who had almost killed him. It’s the idea, an image that comes into his mind, of Rey in place of the fearsome Kylo Ren, her eyes and soul as cold and empty as those of the beast he had met in Alderaan.
Her identity destroyed, like that of Rose Tico’s.
Poe isn’t sure how he expected Skywalker to handle this situation, but he does find himself caught off guard when the man simply opens the door and marches right into the room, crossbow whipped out and at the ready by the time his feet have carried him a good few steps past the threshold.
Before Poe even enters the room, a horrid cross between a growl and a screech fills his ears, making his spine curl as he and Finn run into the room with the other men, who all have their guns aimed toward the noise.
“Don’t shoot!” Poe screams, his eyes quick to locate Rey, who is laying on the bed, propped up on her elbows, looking as if she’s trying to cover herself in the very tattered remnants of her blue nightgown.
The more chilling image is what is hovering beside her.
A black mass, that seems to be reaching clawed hands toward them, roars loudly, it’s anger quite well demonstrated as it tries flinging itself toward them.
Thinking only on instinct, Poe rears his arm back before sending his weapon zipping through the air, the pointed edge of the cross piercing right through the devilish mass of darkness.
Another shriek fills the air, this time sounding pained as the blackness shrinks back, curling in on itself in agony and fury.
Shots from the guns fire away at it, moving seamlessly through the dark mass as it moves toward the open window, leaking out into the night, and vanishing from the room.
Poe immediately rushes to where Rey is laying on the bed, covered in blood and her shredded nightgown.
“Stay back!” one of the tavern men shouts, aiming his revolver towards Rey’s helpless form. “She may be a demon of the night now.”
“Don’t be a fool!” Finn berates him as he too hurried to Rey’s side. “She’s hurt, look here. She’s been bitten.”
“Rey, can you hear me?” Poe asks softly as he gently places a hand against her forehead. Her eyes just stare up at the ceiling in fright, before turning back to look out the open window.
“He may have hypnotized her,” Skywalker deduces as he steps closer, coming to this conclusion after only taking a brief glance at the young woman. “Put some kind of spell on her mind. That, or… she may be in transition.”
This causes a disapproving murmur through the tavern men, but Finn and Poe just stare at Luke in outrage.
“How could you assume that-”
“Look at her!” Like interrupts Finn sharply, making Poe jump. “She’s been bitten. He’s sunk his poison into her. And look at the blood there around her lips. She’s fed off him as well. If she has drunk enough of his cursed blood, then… she is beyond saving.”
Poe looks back down desperately at Rey, looking into her fearful eyes, seeing nothing of the treacherous monster he saw in the eyes of Kylo Ren.
“I say we destroy her, just in case,” the tavern man with the shotgun declares. “She’s obviously entranced by his dark magic, we should take care of her before she becomes a problem.”
“If you come anywhere near her, you’ll have me to deal with,” Finn tells him firmly, his eyes blinking in anger. “She’s hurt and she’s scared, that doesn’t mean she’s a devil.”
“I realize this is a difficult thing to process gentlemen, but we must exercise extreme caution in this case,” Luke warns them, looking at everyone in the room. “She is his chosen bride, and that makes her very valuable to him. If we hurt her, if anyone harms her, we all might as well cast ourselves into the fire. It would be a less sinful death than at the hands of a vengeful demon.”
He turns back to Finn and Poe, his expression looking earnest and maybe slightly worried.
“Dress her, tend to her wound as quickly as you can, and then lock her up in one of the cells.”
“No,” Finn protests.
“We can’t!” Poe speaks out at the same time, grabbing onto Rey’s hands, as if afraid someone were about to whisk her off this second.
“Would you like me to do it for you?!” Skywalker snaps at them both, his eyes ringed with fury and frustration at the two stubborn men.
After taking a moment, he seems to regain himself again, quickly shaking off the rageful outburst.
“It is the only we to keep us and her safe,” he assures them in a much calmer tone, lugging his crossbow over his shoulder.
He then turns, heading for the door, the men from the tavern following behind him, casting a few more unsure and hateful glances toward Rey.
“If Ren somehow gets ahold of her mind, something he’s surely capable of by now, he could have her running off to him in a second,” Skywalker calls back to them on his way out. “Keep her where you can make sure she’ll stay put.”
Finn and Poe are now left alone, staring at each other helplessly across Rey’s still form.
The wound in Kylo’s side from the weapon thrown into him is healed by the time he reaches Ach-To. Once there, he finds the hidden cave he once sheltered himself in centuries ago when first attempting to train his three young brides into the life of vampirism.
He had chosen this spot then because it was isolated. Easy to stay out of sight, even from the few villagers that live among the hilltops.
The cave rests under a mountain of stone, half covered by the raging ocean, the sheets of crisp white water hiding a maze of tunnels and jagged rock that any human would no doubt be lost in. Much easier to inhabit when you are a soulless creature.
Kylo stands still for hours, looking out at the endless ocean through an opening in the cave, the icy water spraying against him every other second, though he remains stagnant, looking like nothing but a stone statue if anyone could see him. The only thing moving about him is his black robes, tugging against the wind from the sea.
The last time he was here, he didn’t care about how much of a monster he was. He didn’t have a second thought about killing, taking his undying rage out on the world, on innocent people who aren’t even familiar with what had happened to him, everything he had lost.
Ben Solo didn’t fill a single spot of his soul.
Now, all he can think about is her.
Rey, who somehow was able to see the person he once was. Who felt for him, who might even love him, despite all he’s done.
She was willing to turn for him, to embrace damnation just to be close to him. To comfort him, to try and reach the man hiding deep within him. The man Kylo Ren refused to believe in for so long.
Standing here now, he still wants her. Still wants to rule with her, embrace darkness with her. Be free and restless for all eternity, have no devotion to anything but each other.
But if he chooses this path, if he chooses to force her into the life he has… then her light, her pure heart, her soul… it will all be lost.
Kylo will stop at nothing to be with her forever, but how can it be right to sentence such a beautiful lightness to an eternity in the dark?
It takes some time, and much pain, but Kylo finally finds it in himself to reach deep into the depths of his mind, the place Rey had somehow reached, and remember his life from before. Ben’s life.
It had been a lonely one. Not much has differed in that regard. But it was so much more painful then.
He remembers the moments he would spend, alone as always, wondering what the point of life was. Why had he been brought onto this Earth if it was to be so alone and powerless, despite the great fortune he had been born into, a fortune that had so many others racked with jealousy and the desire to be him.
All he ever wanted was someone to see him. Understand him. Be with him.
Kylo’s face reflects none of the emotion he feels in his heart, but it overwhelms him nonetheless.
He realizes now, centuries later, that perhaps the love he had been seeking in his human life had been the reason he was left vulnerable and weakened.
Rey…. Rey… why couldn’t I have met you then?
He stays still, just like this, long after the sun has finally set and he’s gazing out at a sea of blackness now, a shadowy abyss.
Just for now, in this moment, he wants nothing more than to go back. Give everything up, if it only meant spending one more night with Rey, her lightness, her gentle love that she seemed to shower upon the smallest of things, even those silly little flower crowns she had made that day near the lake.
Why does he feel this way? Shouldn’t he want Rey to rule by his side without any second thought? Embrace darkness, as he had?
Why should he feel so hesitant now, when he is so close to having everything?
Chapter 14: At Last
Rey’s hands clasp together as she sits upon the stone jutting out from the wall of her cell. Poe sits close beside her, just on the opposite side of the bars. He had at first insisted he sit in the cell with her. Rey had simply replied that that would be contradictory to their goal. Part of the reason they’re locking her up, after all, is because they’re afraid she might sink her teeth into everyone and suck them dry.
And also they’re terrified Kylo will come drag her off.
It’s a long time before Finn stops coming down from his office to check on them and Poe is finally slumped against the wall, fast asleep.
Rey has stayed silent for what feels like hours. Her eyes are closed, her mind focused. Kylo’s name comes from her lips, hardly even loud enough to be a whisper.
She finds the bond. She follows it. It shows her an ocean. Mountains. A cave.
Opening her eyes, she looks back toward Poe, who is quite deep in sleep now.
Rey slowly rises from her perch, moving closer towards the bars, until she is able to silently reach her hand between them, toward the shining key in Poe’s pocket.
He shifts slightly as she gently removes the key from his pocket, but his eyes stay closed.
Stay asleep… stay asleep…
She feels a sort of influence coming from her, reaching into Poe’s mind, soothing it further so that he stays deep in his unconsciousness.
Recalling the numbing powers of hypnosis Kylo had used on her, Rey feeds on that power from the bond, using it to her advantage.
Even though it has to have been hours, Rey hears footsteps starting from the room above them, making her jam the key into the lock, turning it quickly, and rushing out of the cell.
She practically flies through the hallways, further and further, down countless flights of stairs, a few officials looking startled, but none chase after her, probably because they recognize her from when she came in before, and haven’t been informed of her need to be locked up.
Once she’s outside, she feels better, the bond ringing much more clearly in her head.
Show me where he is…
Her body moves as if something else is carrying her, while her consciousness goes into an almost hypnotic state, merely a passenger as she allows the bond to lead her where she needs to go.
It shows her which carriage she needs to hide in, which train she needs to stowaway on, how many miles she has to walk.
She keeps him in her head the entire time, aching to be in his arms again, feeling an unfamiliar sense of rage at being separated. She tries not to linger on this odd sense of anger, instead focusing on letting her connection to Kylo lead her to him.
Even as she sleeps calmly in the little storage area in the train she has hidden in, she feels the bond alive in her head, assuring her she is headed in the right direction.
It’s the strangest journey Rey has ever taken, though she hasn’t taken many in her lifetime. She has no idea where she is each time she hops off a train or a carriage, only able to rely on the confidence in her heart that the bond is pulling her where she needs to go, allowing her own consciousness to relieve control.
It reminds her of when she was a child in the desert, hoping through an abandoned junkyard, completely unaware of where it would lead her, but finding more and more hidden treasures along the way as she trekked through the wreckage that others deemed unfit to search through.
It’s daylight when Rey crawls out of the back of a carriage that has made its way to Ach-To, but the skies are so covered with the clouds that the sun seems to be missing entirely.
She can hardly hear anything over the roar of the ocean as she hikes through the mountains, through stone structures that look to have once been a village from years ago.
Rey stops when she hears something calling to her from below the ground.
Dropping to her knees, she searches through the seemingly flat terrain, until she sees an opening in the rock. A small opening that, when she leans down and looks through, leads into a cave.
Rey swings her legs around, somehow managing to fit herself through the impossibly small opening that leads to the hidden cave within the mountain.
Her gown tears as she slides down, and her heart stops for a moment when she drops much further down than she had expected.
She lands on rock that crumbles a bit beneath her weight, wincing as some of it cuts through the skin of her palms.
Before she stands up, her head slowly turns to gaze around the strange looking cave, seeing the most peculiar patterns of sharp looking stone cutting this way and that, making a twisted jungle of rocks.
She crawls through the jagged maze, feeling herself getting closer and closer to him.
The cave opens up, letting in a wave of harsh light reflecting off from the bright white waves tearing through the ocean. Rey spots a dark figure outlined against the circle of light. One that turns toward her once she runs closer.
The look that crosses his face is one of shock and joy as his eyes take her in, filling with delight and disbelief that she’s here, standing before him, that she found him all on her own without him having to guide her at all.
She runs to him as he stands still, the wind tugging at his dampened hair, his arms slightly outstretched, waiting for her.
Once she has thrown herself into his waiting arms and is surrounded by his comforting embrace, it’s as if everything that has ever made sense finally moves into place again.
“Kylo,” she breathes, almost laughing in happiness and exhilaration.
“You’re here,” he murmurs, his face buried in her tousled hair that has fallen around her shoulders in a tangled mess. “How did you…”
“I love you,” she tells him, hardly able to stand another moment without declaring it out loud. “I don’t know how, but…”
She pulls away from him, looking up into his black eyes that stare down at her with something softer than she’s ever seen in them before.
“I don’t care about damning my soul,” she continues, her hands reaching to cup his face, catching strands of his soft, wet hair between her fingers. “I’m not afraid of the darkness. I just want you. I’ve tried to fight it for so long, but… you’ve awakened something inside me, and I’ve never felt so… alive.”
Rey shakes her head, unable to find the correct words to properly explain to him what she’s feeling.
Thankfully, he’s able to feel her every thought through their bond. And in return, she senses his mirrored emotions.
“Rey,” he hums, reaching a hand up to stroke against her hair.
There’s sadness in his eyes, something else Rey had never seen in them before.
“I wasn’t supposed to love you like this,” he speaks, his voice lowered and barely intelligible against the crashing waves behind him.
“What do you mean?” she asks him, feeling a sharp sting of guilt run through him that she tries to explore deeper until he quickly shuts it off in his mind.
“Nothing,” he answers, his more assured, dominant tone speaking now. “I’m glad you came to me, Rey.”
Her hands move to lock around the back of his neck as he keeps one hand firmly on her waist, the other softly caressing her face, his thumb tracing along her lips.
How good it feels to finally let go, no longer fighting the pull towards darkness, no longer feeling guilty about this burning passion she’s felt all this time, but kept fearfully hidden away.
Rey can tell something is wrong, but honestly, she doesn’t even feel like mustering up the energy to try and get it out of him.
So she just melts into his arms again, letting him capture her lips in a long, possessive kiss while she feels herself slip into that intoxicating place where it’s just her and him, the only ones living in the universe.
Chapter 15: Deep in the Darkest Night
By the time the sun sets in Coruscant, Luke Skywalker has gathered practically an entire army of men eager to hunt and kill this legendary creature who has begun seducing and killing innocent young women and terrorizing small towns. When he had advertised the mission in that way, there were many superstitious men eager to join the cause.
Poe had to admit, Luke’s ability to get people to follow him on such a treacherous hunt is quite impressive.
Everyone is gathered in an old warehouse, where Luke is meticulously preparing everyone with the various weapons he has come up with over the years which include many wooden stakes, wooden bullets, and holy water.
Finn and Poe mostly try to stay out of everyone’s way, while making sure they are arming themselves as well.
“We know where he’s hiding!” Luke announces to everyone as they run this way and that, getting their hands on whatever they can. “The woman followed him to Ach-To. His kind like to hide in the caves when they’re trapped. He’ll have the upper hand in there, but we do have an advantage.”
Skywalker’s eyes seem to pause on Finn and Poe for just a moment before he continues.
“Since we locked the woman up, Ren thinks we were trying to keep her away. That we wouldn’t expect him to get into her head, lead her to escape. Bring her back to him.”
He raises his finger, as if he were a teacher eager to show his students a new method.
“But myself and a few others followed her when she escaped her cell. Now we know where he’s hiding, and he doesn’t know we’re coming.”
“Why didn’t he tell us the plan?” Finn asks in frustration as he goes about sharpening up another stake. “This is the second time he’s put Rey in considerable danger.”
“True, but I think she’s in considerable danger anyway,” Poe admits. “The important thing now is to get her away from that monster and kill him before he can do anymore harm to her, or anyone else.”
“Well, judging from our team of professionals here, Kylo Ren’s going to have a hell of a fight against him.”
“I don’t know,” Poe shakes his head, still unmoving from his position, standing still against the wall as he watches everyone prepare, a sick sort of excitement buzzing through the air as the men gather up their weapons while Skywalker tries talking everyone up even more. “Something tells me… something that’s lived so long, won’t just be taken down by men with torches and pitchforks, if you know what I mean.”
“Yes, but you remember what Luke said,” Finn says, walking up to him, the hopeful look in his eyes matching the courage of the men in the room. “His obsession with Rey could be a weakness. He isn’t prepared, he doesn’t know we’re coming. We’ll have him trapped, powerless.”
“All the more reason she could get hurt.”
“Well, it’s like you said,” Finn responds, handing him one of the many small metal crosses that had been gathered up to spread around. “She’s going to be in danger no matter what we do.”
How could they have followed her… she was sure she had snuck away without anyone seeing her…
Rey and Kylo had been holding each other, lost in their own world for who knows how long, when a low growl had rumbled through him, his deadly gaze staring up above them towards the roof of the cave, tearing them out of their private haven and leaving them standing back in the cold, damp cave.
Rey had sensed the danger too, telling Kylo to stay down in the cave while she went up to see who was coming.
Now, she’s racing back down to where Kylo is waiting anxiously, pacing through the jagged rocky cave, his flowing robes creating the illusion that he’s floating along the rocks.
“It’s Luke,” she tells him as Kylo rushes to her side, moving in a blur before he’s suddenly standing right in front of her, his hands circling around her arms. “And a group of men with weapons… they must have followed me, I don’t know how they…”
Kylo raises a hand to quiet her, a look of concentration and fear coming over his face.
“They can’t harm you,” Rey states, though her expression makes it a question.
“My powers are weak here,” he tells her, the fear in his eyes not making its way to his voice. “It’s still daylight, I can’t leave this cave, or I’ll hardly have any power at all, I haven’t fed for days…”
He trails off as he hears the voices of the infuriated mob getting closer.
“You need to find a place to hide,” he instructs. “They’re here for you too.”
“They won’t hurt me,” she shakes her head. “If Finn and Poe aren’t here, they still must have told them-”
“They think I’ve turned you. You’re a threat to them.”
His hand moves to the side of her face, his fingers curling firmly around the back of her head as his intense and slightly terrifying stare immediately commands her full attention.
“No one is going to take you away from me, Rey,” he speaks clearly, his tone sending a chill down her spine. “You’re going to find a place to hide, somewhere near the opening so you can jump out into the water if they find you. I’ll make sure you’re safe.”
She just nods.
“Kylo… please be careful-”
“Don’t worry about me,” he shakes his head. “You just stay hidden and wait for me to come get you. Then I’m getting you out of here.”
He kisses her with surprising gentleness on her forehead, before stepping aside and pushing her towards the direction of the opening of the cave.
“Hurry,” is all he says before disappearing.
Rey, unable to do much more than look off to where he had pounced off to, eventually turns and searches until finding a small crevice in the rock that she’s able to tuck herself away in.
Kylo waits, hidden quietly in the ceiling of the cave, his clawed hands gripping the various stalactites that hang frozen from the rock.
The men eventually trickle into the cavern, trying their best to be silent as they shakily hold guns and wooden stakes, Skywalker leading the pack with his crossbow, arrows doused with holy water no doubt.
Kylo had come across many like Skywalker over the decades. In fact, he is fairly sure he’s come across Skywalker himself at some point in his lifetime.
He keeps his eyes focused on the two men who are straggling behind the group, obviously the most fearsome out of the parade. They’re shakily holding wooden stakes, but Kylo knows he’ll be able to disarm them pretty easily.
No one even notices he’s swept down and snatched up one of the men, biting into his neck and slashing into his larynx before he can scream.
The stake clatters to the ground, making everyone turn around, eventually realizing the man has disappeared, then quickly looking up at the ceiling.
But Kylo is quick to disguise himself against the texture of the cave, his magic growing stronger as he sinks his fangs into the man’s neck and drains his life in less than two seconds.
He lets the body drop to the ground, causing some of the men to immediately shoot up at the ceiling, sending chunks of rock showering down upon them while Kylo silently slithers away, his claws easily gripping into the stone as he scurries across the roof of the subterrane.
Skywalker is the only one who seems to be trailing him with his eyes, as if he’s able to see Kylo fully, immune to the shadow the vampire shrouds himself in.
He flies down upon the men again, this time having to dodge a shower of wooden bullets fired his way, but having gotten some strength back from the body he just drained, Kylo is able to dodge almost every shot, feeling only one or two streak along his flesh.
His fangs tear out a couple more throats, drinking up as much as he can before he has to leap away from another bullet or wooden stake aimed his way.
Kylo tries going for Skywalker, but the old man is quick with his crossbow, shooting and reloading as if he does it in his sleep. Kylo has to dodge away from the holy water drenched arrows that send flecks of the cursed liquid spraying in every direction as the arrows zip through the air.
He growls when he feels the acid-like water scorch along the side of his face, melting a good line of skin away as it sizzles into his flesh.
Rey’s fear sparks through the bond when she feels his pain, and Kylo quickly closes himself off from her before she can worry anymore about him.
Kylo grabs a wooden stake flung at him before it can pierce his heart, flipping it around in his hand and jamming it into the face of the man who had thrown it, all so fast, the man probably had no idea what happened.
His eyes land next on the young lawyer, the man who Rey had been set to marry just a few days ago.
Something inside him almost wants to gloat to the man who had, unintentionally or not, been holding his Rey captive for so long.
A hungered grin spreads across Kylo’s face, even as the man prepares himself with his wooden stake.
Kylo moves quickly, his claws sinking into Dameron’s shoulders as he flips himself around until he is standing behind him, his fangs prepared to bite into the man’s neck.
He seems to have underestimated him.
Before Kylo’s teeth sink into Dameron’s skin, the man is reaching back and pressing something towards Kylo’s face that makes him reel back in pain, feeling a metal cross touch against his skin.
He backs away, hissing in anger before the thing can burn him another moment, but someone jams a stake into his back in the few seconds he’s become distracted.
Kylo lets out a growl of anger as he reaches behind him to try and pull the weapon out of his spine. But Skywalker pounces on the open opportunity, as Kylo begrudgingly expected.
An arrow, obviously dipped in Holy water, pierces his chest, sending a fire tearing through his veins that makes him drop to his knees.
“Now!” Skywalker growls in a tone nearly matching Kylo’s. “Do it!”
Kylo’s tries to lunge forward, but another cross is thrust toward his face, making him stumble back, still reeling from his injuries that are healing at a far slower pace now that he’s exerted some of his strength.
A wooden bullet shoots into his side before two people grab onto his arms, throwing him down onto his back.
Before Kylo can leap back up and tear out their throats, another sharp wooden stake pierces right through his left hand, pinning it to the ground of the cave once they hammer it in.
Kylo roars in outrage, writhing in agony as blood spews from his wounds, feeling some brave soul grab onto his other hand, bringing it to the ground before forcing another stake through it, trapping him on the cave floor, surrounded by a mob of angry men ready to tear him to pieces.
Skywalker makes his way through the excited men who are all itching to be the one to mutilate the wretched vampire.
The man looks at Kylo as if his eyes are simply observing a problem that he is about to eliminate as he pulls a large wooden stake from his robes.
“Remove the head after I’ve driven the stake through,” he directs someone standing above Kylo. “And make it clean.”
“You must be joking,” one of them laughs in disbelief. “This devil has probably killed millions, it would have killed millions more. Have you forgotten what it did to that Tico woman?”
“He’s gotta point,” another man nods in excitement. “Let’s at least make it suffer a little bit.”
Kylo tries ripping himself from the stakes pinning him down, but his strength is slipping faster and faster.
He sees Dameron staring down at him with a strange look of pity that makes Kylo sneer in disgust even more.
“Don’t,” Dameron speaks, his voice surprisingly calm despite being inches away from death only moments ago. “Just get it over with. Kill it.”
Kylo looks over in horror, his rageful thrashing ceasing completely as he sees Rey running towards them.
A man is with her. The one who was with Skywalker the night they killed Rose. The doctor whose hospital had housed that imbecile Armitage Hux.
“Please!” she begs, looking around at the men as if she doesn’t know what to say, probably because she knows there is nothing she can do to stop them from their hunt for blood.
“It’s her,” one of the men points, his eyes going wide. “His apprentice…”
“Demon!” they shout, a small group of them running toward her. “He’s turned her!”
“Leave her!” Dameron shouts, chasing after them, the doctor as well making an effort to ward off the crazed mob, but the two of them are no match for a crowd of paranoid cretins.
They grab ahold of her, a few of them working to hold Dameron and the doctor back as they try to protest.
Kylo’s growls echo through the cave walls now as he jerks and flails against the stakes holding him down as he watches the crazed group of hunters grab Rey and drag her forward as she screams and tries yanking herself free.
“What are you doing?!” Dameron screams, fighting against the men holding him back. “Let her go!”
Skywalker seems to only be annoyed by the men’s distraction, stepping forward and kneeling down beside Kylo and lining the stake up against his chest.
Kylo’s black eyes glare fire into the hunter as he hisses and snarls, his fangs aching to tear into the flesh of everyone here.
The men have Rey restrained on the ground now, several of them holding her down, while one raises a rifle, aiming at her heart.
Kylo feels his chest fill with fury and pain as Rey’s cries ring through his head. She sees him, not in a much better position than he is. He hears her calling to him, but he is lost on how to answer.
A shot fires through the air, the wooden bullet ripping through the side of Rey’s torso instead of through her chest, thanks to the handler’s poor aim.
She screams as a deep red circle grows against her blue dress and a few of the men holding her back away, taken off guard by the direction of the bullet.
Kylo feels the pain ripple through his own body as Rey writhes against the hands gripping her arms.
Skywalker has the stake raised, seconds away from bringing it down to pierce his heart.
Then he feels her. In his head, his heart, his body. Not scared, or distressed like she was before. But powerful. Rejuvenated, as if the bullet tearing through her had shot her up with a wave of adrenaline.
She feeds her power into him, her life, rebuilding his own withering strength through the bond.
Her reassuring presence breathes fresh life into him that restores his power, his being.
He ignores the pain as he pulls his hand free, feeling it begin to heal immediately as he catches the oncoming stake easily before Skywalker can drive it through his chest.
Kylo shoves him backward, sending the man crashing into the wall of the cave and tumbling onto the cave floor while Kylo raises himself up from the ground, easily ripping his other hand free as he does.
“Shit!” someone shouts as Skywalker stares up at the vampire in confusion, some of the energy knocked out of him from the hit against the jagged rock.
Kylo turns his attention to the rest of the men, moving forward towards them until his claws sink into the chest of the man who had shot Rey.
He stabs into the side of the man’s head, ripping it to the side and exposing his neck. His fangs pierce into his flesh, tearing the skin away as he feeds hungrily on the fresh, fearful blood.
Caught between hunger and anger, the man’s head is barely hanging on by a thread by the time Kylo has finished with him and lets his limp body fall to the floor.
The remaining men all raise their weapons when he turns on them, but they can tell he has had an amazing surge of power now, stronger than he was when they first arrived.
The rest of his wounds seal closed as he picks his way through the crowd of now cowering men who are too weak to even charge him or fire their guns.
He moves quickly, but makes sure to still make each death painful for the men who had put their hands on Rey.
Bright splashes of red splatter the grey stone of the cave as Kylo rips limbs from bodies, tears out tendons from necks, and removes hearts from chests.
Bodies become impaled on the sharp rocks, grotesquely placed like horrifying statues creating a gruesome display of horror.
He crushes necks in his hands, he takes off heads with just the swipe of his claws. He feels the blood spraying him, but he falls into a trance where he can hardly tell where he is. He just knows he has to keep going until every last one of them is dead. Until he and Rey are safe, unthreatened.
A very small part of him is telling him he should maybe hold back a bit, just to spare Rey from seeing any of it, but he can’t fight off the instinct to tear down anything that threatens her.
Her voice suddenly snaps him out of his blind rage-filled tirade as he finds himself holding the young lawyer in his grip now after easily ripping his weapons from his hand, fangs ready to dig into another set of flesh.
The doctor, probably the bravest man Kylo has seen here this evening, is right beside him, a revolver aimed directly at his head.
“Let go of him,” the doctor speaks in a surprisingly authoritative tone, as if Kylo would actually follow his orders.
He can’t resist giving the doctor a small smirk as he grabs his hand tighter around Dameron’s neck.
“Kylo, don’t,” Rey begs, her body trembling, no doubt after witnessing all the carnage.
She has shakily risen to her feet, her hands clutching at her side where blood still flows from the bullet wound.
He meets her eyes, feels her pleading. The sympathy she still holds for this man.
“Don’t hurt him,” she begs, stepping closer to them, though looking as if she’s not sure if she should be extra cautious or not. “Please, Kylo… they won’t hurt us.”
The doctor looks like he’d beg to differ, but Kylo finds himself slowly easing his grip on the lawyer.
Rey’s attention is suddenly turned to something behind him, and Kylo shoves Dameon down to the ground when his senses buzz to life, and he quickly turns around to see Skywalker back on his feet, aiming his crossbow at him, but looking far less sure of himself than he had at the beginning of this battle.
His head turns rapidly between Rey and Kylo, no doubt trying desperately to connect the dots. Kylo can’t blame him. A bond like this, with a human, is nothing he’s ever seen before, and he’s lived lifetimes beyond Skywalker.
“What are you?” he asks, his gaze now completely focused on Rey.
Dameron and the doctor both look at her as well, as if trying to figure out some silent communication she, Kylo, and Skywalker seem to be having.
“Poe,” Rey speaks, looking back at Dameron. “Please… please let us go.”
She limps forward until she’s standing between Kylo and Skywalker, her attention still focused on Dameron.
“We won’t hurt anyone,” she continues, as tears form in her eyes, her bloodied hand reaching forward as if she were about to touch his hand, then stopping. “We’ll go far away… you’ll never see us again… Poe, I promise…”
Kylo can feel her simultaneously asking this of him as she promises this to Dameron and his friend. Asking to find someplace far away where they won’t stir up trouble… where they won’t hurt anyone she loves…
It seems so little to ask. He wants to rule with her, to share power with her, to conquer with her… but perhaps, his lonely, uneventful life he’s lived for decades in isolation won’t be so terrible if she is there to share it with him.
A horrible feeling runs through him at the thought of making her live like that. In the dark, forever in the shadows.
“Rey,” Dameron speaks softly, looking about to reach out to her as well, but gripping onto the hand of the doctor with his other hand.
“It’s alright, Poe,” she tries giving him a reassuring smile. “I’ll be alright.”
Dameron seems to look deeply into her eyes, studying her for a moment while Kylo prepares himself for another brawl against the remaining men, unsure of what they will do, knowing that Skywalker will at least try to fight until the end.
Kylo tenses as the lawyer suddenly moves quickly towards them, but Rey sends a reassuring push through the bond, telling him to stay back.
To Kylo’s genuine surprise, Dameron stands between Rey and Skywalker.
“Then go,” he speaks, as the doctor stares rapidly between him and the vampire they were supposed to be killing.
“What are you doing?!” Skywalker exclaims as Rey rushes over to grab Kylo’s hand, giving him a pleading look. “Step aside, Dameron!”
Kylo rips away his sleeve, biting into his wrist and pressing it against Rey’s lips, feeding her his blood so that her wound will heal.
The doctor seems to make a sound of anguish before stepping forward and standing beside Poe.
“Have you two gone mad?!” Skywalker continues to rage, his weapon still aimed up, though now pointed at the two men actively shielding the demon they had sworn to destroy.
Ignoring him, Dameron and the doctor both turn back to look at Rey. She gives them a grateful nod, telling them something silently with her eyes. Kylo can feel what is in her heart, what she wants to say to them, to Dameron.
I love you, but I can't stay.
Skywalker is still teeming with fury, while Kylo grabs onto Rey, pulling her away from the two men.
He knows Skywalker won’t be able to follow them, which is probably why he isn’t even trying. With all the fresh blood Kylo just took in, he feels as good as new.
Rey lets him pull her close as he turns away from Skywalker, from the lawyer and the doctor, and runs.
Chapter 16: There's Always A Tomorrow
To Rey, it feels as if time has warped into something completely unmeasurable as Kylo whisks her away toward wherever they are going. She can’t see or hear anything, the scenery around her rushing so fast, she has to close her eyes.
The only assurance she has that she is still somewhere on Earth, is the feeling of Kylo’s arms holding her tightly against his chest as he runs.
Once they are stopped, and Rey hesitantly opens her eyes, unsure of exactly what she will find once she does.
Her eyes open to a forest. The sun has all but vanished by now, but the heavy leaves from the tall trees make for an almost makeshift roof that shields the forest from view of the outside world.
The sharp dark green color of the foliage makes Rey think they must still be somewhere near Ach-To, and she can just barely hear the distant crash of the ocean if she strains her ears past the thick cover of the trees.
Kylo releases her, but doesn’t look at her.
She’s about to ask them where they are, but she’s suddenly afraid to bother him.
Rey feels it through the bond, in his heart. This place holds something for him. Sadness, despair. He’s been here before, but during a haunting time in his life. She feels a flicker of bitterness, old hatred that she is surprised to find directed toward himself. Not toward the world or the men who betrayed him, the many hunters over the centuries who have tried to destroy him. The hate that is suddenly flowing through him is a cold and hopeless thing that gives Rey a death-like feeling, making her tremble in fear.
“Kylo,” she speaks softly, approaching him and gently touching her hand to his arm, turning him towards her.
He finally looks down at her, that despairing look thankfully melting away once his eyes meet hers.
“You should turn me now,” she asks him, reaching her hands up to brush through his hair as she gazes intently at him. “Then we can run, we can go anywhere and just hide away…”
“It’s not that simple, Rey,” he tells her, grabbing ahold of her wrists gently, but firmly pulling her hands away from his face. “You don’t understand, Rey, I… I shouldn’t have…”
Shouldn’t have what?!
Rey begins to feel a sudden swell of anger towards him. Is he really rethinking all of this now?
“Kylo,” she begins, taking a short, irritated breath. “I love you. I’m ready to leave everything behind for you, I want to do whatever it takes to be with you forever. We have this… whatever it is, connecting us. I see it now, what you were telling me…”
Her voice trails off as she sees the look in Kylo’s eyes. The sad joy as his eyes melt over her, as if she were some precious gem he’d only ever dreamed of seeing.
His hand reaches forward to run along her cheek.
“Turn me,” she begs of him, touching her hand against his. “Turn me and we’ll have everything you promised. We can be together…”
Rey knows even as she’s speaking these words that his determination is already set. Somehow, to her endless bewilderment, he has changed his mind.
“You’re so beautiful, Rey,” he tells her, his deep voice sounding soft now, sending a wave of warmth through her rather than the chill of fear his words always seemed to be edged with. “Putting this poison in you, letting you share my curse… your soul will die. Your spirit will fade, as mine did.”
She opens her mouth to protest, but the words stay frozen in her throat.
“You remind me of how things used to be,” he tells her, his dark eyes still sparkling ever so slightly with something far away that Rey can’t decipher. “How kind and exciting I used to find everything…”
“You didn’t bring us here to turn me,” Rey speaks breathlessly, her voice beginning to tremble ever so slightly when she feels his regret, his fear quivering through her.
“I won’t destroy you, Rey. Not you.”
It’s quiet for a moment, the only sounds coming from the muted rustling of leaves on the thick branched trees.
His hands fall away from her and he steps away, the movement making her heart jump for some reason.
She watches him questioningly as he moves toward the tree nearest to them and kneels down to the ground.
He shovels his way through the dirt for a while until he finds what he is looking for, pulling it out from the ground and gripping it in his hand as he rises back up.
The look he gives Rey is almost unsure as he turns back toward her, walking slowly forward. Tears have already begun to fall down her face even before she sees the rotted but sharp piece of wood in his hand.
She knows without asking that he had placed it here, however long ago. That this place holds something for him, maybe some dark moment in his past where he felt like he needed to use it.
“I love you so much, Rey,” he speaks as she begins shaking her head, knowing what he is going to ask of her. “I can’t let you live in a world where evil like this… like me… exists.”
“You’re not evil,” she denies, stepping closer toward him, her hands wrapping around his wrists. “I’ve seen you, your heart. You’re a good man. You can be again, Ben. I’ll help you.”
He just shakes his head.
“You’ve seen something trapped,” he explains. “Something that’s dying… I’m not just doing this for you. I’m doing it for myself as well. To help me… I need you to set me free.”
“I can’t,” she gasps, releasing him and quickly stepping away, as if afraid he is about to shove the weapon into her hands this instant. “Please don’t make me do this, Ben…”
“I’m already dead,” he tells her, and she nearly collapses at the agony she feels emanating from him. “I want to be free of this pain.”
“You are my life now, Ben,” Rey pleads, only slightly aware she had begun using his other name. “Do you expect me to just go back to that passionless life I’d been trapped in before you found me?”
“I expect you to be set free,” he responds. “Free of me, free to return to the light. To never have my darkness forced upon you again.”
It’s quiet again as Rey sobs silently, her palms opening and closing, as if grasping at anything, some other explanation, another way out of this. More reasons to refuse this gruesome deed.
Kylo simply moves closer before offering his hand gripping the weapon towards her.
“I don’t want to let you go, Rey,” he insists, his voice weighted with so much distress. “But I don’t deserve you. And you don’t deserve to have your life consumed by my pain. My mistakes.”
She’s quick to try to deny him, but he simply raises the weapon closer toward her.
“You know what you have to do,” he encourages, his voice now sounding resigned, accepting of his fate. “If you truly love me… you’ll grant me this mercy.”
Rey stands helplessly, wanting to protest, to fight, but knowing there is no way to change his mind. And knowing deep down, that he is right.
Ben Solo, the man she had somehow reached, is the man that calls to her, that commands her love. Kylo Ren is the monster that has corrupted him. A monster that can’t go on living. He told her himself, it is in his nature to kill, to hurt.
Perhaps, as treacherous as it feels… this is the solution she’s been looking for to finally free the man trapped beneath all of this evil.
She reaches forward until her fingers grasp the cold wood of the sharpened stake.
She wants to throw it aside as soon as it enters her palm, but she grabs it tightly, holding onto the suffering she feels coursing through the man she loves, promising him and herself that she will end it for him soon. That she will take the pain away and finally set him free.
He sends a wave of reassurance through her, pushing her further as she raises the stake to his heart.
“I love you, Ben.”
What will happen after this, she wonders fearfully as she forces her hand to be steady. Will she still be able to feel him?
His presence has been in her mind for so long now, she knows how empty she will feel once he’s gone. And what of their connection? If he dies… something will surely happen to her as well.
But his pain, his fear is enough to overpower hers. He's hurting so much. All she wants to do is make it better.
Driving the stake through his chest is the best act of love she can give him.
Despite not being the one with a piece of wood through her body, Rey is the only one who cries out once the stake pierces through flesh. She feels the wound in her heart just as he does.
His body falls to the ground, landing back against the trunk of the tree, and she follows him down, wrapping her hand around the back of his neck, sobbing as she does.
His lips are still warm against hers as she kisses him once again, wishing that she could somehow save him just with this. That she could turn back time before Ben Solo’s life had been destroyed.
His gratitude sounds so heartfelt, as if he were thanking her for much more than she could ever imagine.
She feels his presence slipping away, and though she indeed feels a darkness slowly lifted from within her, she also feels as if a piece of herself is being torn away, ripped from her chest.
She feels no pain from him. She feels relief, the stress he’s held for thousands of generations, the guilt, the loneliness, the darkness all finally slipping away.
Rey touches her hand to his face as he looks into her eyes, thanking her still, up until the second his eyes can remain open for no longer.
Then she feels him sleep, finally at peace.
The world drops away as Rey falls back from his body, refusing to look at the lifeless form with a stake embedded in its heart.
She doesn’t weep or scream. She just sits against the cold forest floor, listening to the quiet whisper of the wind trickling through the trees, making her feel even more empty than she already is.
It is better that he is dead. He has hurt so many for so long. And how could she insist that a creature filled with so much hurt, such emptiness, continue to live on?
Now she is filled with nothing but loneliness. The memory of love and a life that was ripped away from her. The memory of a man she was somehow connected to, that she had fallen so deeply in love with, despite everything he had done.
How is she to go on now?
Rey knows she will eventually have to get up and start moving out of the forest, toward the village that’s near here, just outside the treeline. She’s never been here before, but the memory had somehow been given to her. A final parting gift, perhaps.
It feels like hours before she feels ready to rise to her feet, though she knows that doing so will send a final painful tear through her heart.
Then something… changes.
The shift in the air trembles through Rey, her head suddenly snapping up from where she had been resting it against her hands.
Her eyes move back towards Kylo’s body, and her eyes widen in shock and slight terror as she sees his body begin to change as well, as if affected by the sudden shift in the air.
An energy surrounds him, some element that Rey can’t quite decipher. Almost as if something from the Earth had risen up to surround him.
Rey watches in awe as the energy moves about him, a noise humming gently through Rey’s ears as Kylo’s body is lifted a few inches off the ground, his hair and arms falling back as if in slow motion.
Suddenly, it feels as if a weight has been mercifully lifted off of Rey’s soul.
The emptiness that had replaced the darkness with Kylo’s death is slowly filled with something so much lighter. Hopeful.
Tears form in Rey’s eyes once again, but they’re different than the tears from moments earlier.
She looks back at Kylo’s body, which is resting as it was, at the foot of the tree where it had fallen.
Only it’s no longer Kylo laying on the ground that Rey is looking at.
The stake is gone, his wound healed. His face is peaceful not twisted in pain as it was before, and even more boyish than she remembers it being. Younger, unaffected by centuries of suffering and hate.
She waits after speaking his name, letting it hang in the air, her heart pounding, practically shaking her entire body.
His eyes open. He’s unmoving for a few minutes, blinking up at the trees above him, glancing at his surroundings, as if seeing them for the first time through different eyes.
Rey is frozen with shock as she watches him sit up, slowly pushing himself to a sitting position while continuing to look around unsurely, and Rey isn’t sure if he knows where he is or not, making her stay very still, afraid she might startle him.
Her mouth opens as his eyes finally land on hers, but words refuse to spill from her lips.
But he smiles. It’s a smile of relief, love, joy. All things she had never felt from the cold exterior entrapping him before.
She sobs, unbelieving at what has happened before her eyes.
They both propel themselves off the ground and into each other’s arms.
Touching him ignites his presence within her once again, but it’s warm and light and feels more safe and right than it ever had before. As if her heart were finally resting in the place it’s been searching for.
“How is this possible?” she asks, her face pressed against his shoulder, savoring the sensation of his arms wrapped tightly around her, holding her against him as if she were his very life line. “I don’t understand, I thought…”
“You freed me,” he answers, his own voice sounding choked with an overwhelming happiness at this unexplainable miracle. “I don’t know how, but… Rey, thank you… thank you…”
Rey doesn’t know what to say. Your welcome?
She finds herself chuckling against him, and she feels him shift, probably to look down at her.
He’s still for a moment before letting out a sigh of confusion.
“I can’t read your mind anymore,” he answers.
Rey stands up straight, Ben still holding his arms around her, as she concentrates on feeling his presence.
“I can still feel you,” she tells him. Her eyes look up at his handsome face, and she can’t help but feel joyful relief all over again to see the undarkened face of the man she loves.
“Our bond is still here,” he answers, somewhat in disbelief, though there isn’t much to not marvel at by this point. “My powers are gone, but our connection somehow… survived.”
Ben turns to look up at the sky, as if the stars will somehow hold the answers to everything that has happened here.
“I don’t understand…” he whispers, but Rey gently places her hand against his face, turning him back down to look at her.
“I’ve told you before, Ben,” she speaks to him, letting her voice soothe him, comfort him, assure him of what has happened. “Your heart is pure. There is no evil in you. Not anymore.”
Perhaps it isn’t too hard to believe that Kylo Ren’s final act was to sacrifice himself to allow Ben Solo to continue to live. But in truth, Rey and Ben could care less how it happened.
All that matters now, is that he is here, he is safe in her arms, with the promise of her love to keep him going.
Chapter 17: Epilogue
Thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with this story! I hope everyone enjoyed <3
The curse that had been lifted from Ben Solo was also a curse that had been lifted from the world. Everything touched by Kylo Ren’s evil had melted away, the tortured souls now allowed to rest peacefully, including those of the three brides who had dwelled in his castle.
The darkness had been lifted from all of Alderaan, returning to the bright, lush land it had been centuries before Kylo’s reign. With Ben now returned as its rightful ruler.
He brought Rey back to the palace. She was amazed at the beauty of the luxuriant forests and majestic mountains that littered the country. Ben promised it would be even better once things really went back to how they should be, with villagers no longer afraid of the lovely new land that had been restored.
Him and Rey on the other hand planned on living peacefully for the next few years of their lives in the grand castle.
Ben’s heart overflowed with impossible happiness once Rey had begun marvelling at the illustrious palace that would now be her home as well. He thought it looked even more splendid with her in it, acting as if the large staircases and magnificent columns were the most wonderous things she’d ever seen. And to be honest, after seeing them for the first time in hundreds of years not shrouded in darkness and cobwebs, Ben had to admit there really was something quite beautiful about all of it.
They found a priest from a distant church to marry them. No one would be attending, since they wanted it to be a private affair, but Ben still wanted to make it special for Rey. He felt as if he took so much away from her and the world, he wanted to do everything he could to try and make up for all he had done. He could at least start with making Rey’s life as happy as it can be.
She was dressed in a large wedding gown that would have been seen in the late 1400s with its regal elegance, but with an added modern touch. It was a sharp white, a heavy satin skirt that trailed behind her when she walked. The bodice hugged her waist tightly with a subtle design of glittery white leaves trailing around her hips, up her front and splitting around her chest, curling over her shoulders and trailing all the way down the long sleeves that covered her arms.
Her brown hair was pulled back away from her face, falling down along her back behind a white tulle veil outlined with thousands of tiny crystals that danced with every step she took, the veil dragging behind her, even longer than the train of her gown.
The last piece was a silver crown sitting atop her head, showered in sparkles glimmering above her.
As she walked down the grand hall of the palace toward where Ben was standing and waiting for his bride, he could only gape in awe at his beautiful Queen.
He imagined what a wedding such as this would have been like back when he really was Prince of Alderaan. When the palace had been full and his advisors had been clamoring at every opportunity to convince him to find a wife. How overjoyed would they have been if they were here now.
Everyone in the kingdom would have been invited. There would have been celebrations in the streets. Lords, Ladies, Dukes, Princesses from all different countries would have journeyed to Alderaan to see the union of Ben Solo and his soon to be Queen.
The celebrations would have lasted weeks. Ben and Rey would have gone on a wedding tour, visiting all sorts of kingdoms and countries to further rejoice in their marriage. It would have been glorious, such as every royal wedding usually was.
But even with all the added joy and celebration, Ben couldn’t have been any happier than he was in this moment, in this time.
The palace may be empty, the only person to see this beautiful union a very confused priest and a few members of the church to act as witnesses. The only thing Rey and Ben truly rule over may be just an empty castle. But none of that ever mattered to him. If he really only cared about all those material things, he would have wed the first eligible woman his advisors had introduced him to.
All that matters is he has found her. He has finally found her. It may have taken a painful journey and four centuries, but he somehow found exactly what he had been waiting for nearly all his life.
Rey’s eyes had sparkled nearly as much as her crown as she stood before him, the two of them hardly able to keep more than an inch apart the entire time they were being married. It truly was heavenly when they were finally decreed husband and wife and sealed their union with a passionate and quite lengthy kiss.
From that day on, for the rest of their years, Ben finally knew true happiness. Helping to heal all the hurt he’d caused, and giving Rey the best life possible, he finally allowed himself to love, and graciously accepted the love his wife showed him.
They traveled the world together, eventually returning to visit Finn and Poe some years later. The two were a bit shocked, to say the least.
Rey had finally felt she’d begun living the life she was meant for. She finally knew true love, and she got to see nearly every corner of the world with him. The life they shared was long and happy until they both passed on peacefully, well into old age, laying side by side, their hands locked tightly as they prepared for an entirely new journey together.