Okay, finding quotes (especially cool ones) is a lot harder than I thought it'd be. I mean, I don't particularly like this chapter's, but what can I do? So, if anyone has a good quote, please tell cause I'm in a desperate need of them.

Thanks everyone!

Oh, P.S., I rewrote Chapter One. You can read it over if you want, but you don't have to. In the long run, I think it flows better.

Chapter Two

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."

- Christopher Reeves -

Living in the Paine mansion, for a lack of a better word, was a pain. The small, tiny, insignificant room they had given her was a pain. The servants who delivered her food, washed her clothes and picked up her messes were a pain.

Although, they weren't a pain anymore, not after they had found her unconscious on the floor, short of breath and shivering in cold sweat. She had been murmuring gibberish to herself, a kind of non-sensical noise that brought on nightmares that haunted for life. Her skin had been pale enough to show her blue veins, and her hands had been fisted to tightly that her knuckles showed white. She had been lying in a slight curl, not possessing enough strength nor the sense of reality to fit herself into a ball to conserve heat.

They had thought she would die.

Nocte did not die.

"Were you worried?" she asked.

Necrosis Paine's expression did not change from his usual monotonous one where his light blonde hair remained perfect, his pale blue eyes remained flat, and where his lithe, smooth body remained ramrod straight. The only movement he made was to adjust his glasses back to its usual place. He was immaculate, as the heir of the Paine Clan should be.

She was sitting up in bed, covers drawn to her waist, supported by pillows cushioning her back. She would never admit it, but she was cold. She drew the covers close against the basement/dungeon air.

He was in a chair beside her bed, not out of concern, but out of necessity.

Three weeks ago, after getting word that she was to die from a self-inflicted bullet to her head, Nocte had arranged with Melissa Witley, her loyal spy of three years and counting, and her clique to help her escape. Ebony's (her older sister's) fiancée, Theron Opal had been the middleman.

Not even ten minutes in front of the gun – one smoke charm, five spies and six family members later, Nocte was pretty much home free… except not. Her Great-Aunt Nox had summoned three Hell Dragons to stop her.

Nocte would have managed just fine alone… kind of, but she was secretly grateful that Paine had suddenly popped up from nowhere with a Hell Dragon of his own.

The Paines hated the Yins, and vice versa. To help each other was ludicrous. The only reason why they would, was because-

"Your father has promised us the Eternal Youth Elixir if we aided you."

And the Paines would have it.

Umbra Yin was honourable.

"I see that you are fine," he said, emotionless.

His pitch never rose and never fell, always remaining at a flat rate.

She closed her left eye to look at the now-alive moth, the reason why she was found half-dead on the floor in the first place, fluttering around the room. The fireplace cast its shadow on the ceiling and walls. There were no windows, so no one could tell that it was, indeed, morning. The thick wooden door had golden hinges and a doorknob. Her room had been a dungeon prior to the Paines moving a bed, a desk and a woodstove into it.

The moth looked blurry, as if mocking her.

Her right eye was the sole reason for her to get glasses – "near-sighted" the optometrist had said. Her left eye, apparently, was just fine.

In a way, watching the moth flutter around, she felt proud of herself for succeeding… even without him.

A slight throb at her heart and she was quick to dismiss it.

Shaking herself mentally, she decided to think on matters that were more important. For instance, how ungrateful the moth was.

It was flying around so freely and oblivious – as if it hadn't been dead just yesterday. I mean, was it so hard to say, "Thank you for bargaining with the forces of death, killing a nasty beetle who deserved to live as much as any other living organism, and spinning you own life energy into my life energy to force my soul to recover, heart to beat and lungs to take air. Thank you so very much! I'm going to fly around your room now to distract you and to cause you to go insane. Thanks again! Tootles!"

If she had a gun, she would have shot it… a couple of a 100 times.

Nocte checked on the dust bunny.

At least Bob looked grateful.

"I have been informed that you sisters will visit you this morning," he said.

Nocte nodded and asked, "What about?"

His eyes moved to the moth.

'Nough said.

"I see," she said with a serious tone.

Although he didn't voice anything about the moth, they both knew that he knew. And they both knew that he was more than a little surprised at her successful endeavour. What they didn't know was whether or not he would inform his parents about her success.

"I suggest you take this time to rest," Paine said, as his way to end his own visit.

"Bye," she said, finger-waving to him.

He walked out of the door as if he hadn't heard her, but they both knew he had.

They had a truce like that.

Once she was alone, she leaned back and sighed.

She had not been able to sit quiet when she had woken up to the dull ceiling that morning. The thought of the grim reaper churned her insides in a way that did not settle right. He said very little, eyes understated but very much attentive. He had shown up out of nowhere and Nocte had been too shocked to stop and think about it.

She merely acted.

On instinct.

A grim reaper… the sight of him sent her careening down to a place she found very dark, morbid and claustrophobic.

A place of death.

At the thought, Nocte swallowed hard and dug her hands underneath her pillow to grasp onto the cellphone she had hidden there.

She was afraid of death.

A Yin never fears, but here she was, hiding beneath her blanket, clutching the phone – just in case.

This unnatural fear was the reason why she had chosen the Path of a Necromancer – to control the one thing she feared. She had hoped that she could forestall the ultimate end, the eternal sleep… but last year…

When she had looked into the deepest, darkest, hollow eyes of Thanatos… she had shown no fear, only amazement. But later… she realized.

He was after her.

And knowing this inevitable fact, Nocte had decided that it was no use to fear the inevitable.

Confined onto the Yin property and later the rotting dungeon cell of the Yin Elders, she faced them head on, eyes hard without a trace of fear. She abandoned fear and looked forward. She was able to think with a clear head, able to act logically and command with an unhindered heart.

Those months she had acted in every way, shape and form a Yin.

But that was months ago… and now she was lying in bed… still alive.

If he was after her… shouldn't she be dead already?

And if that lesser grim reaper hadn't come to take her, then was Thanatos really after her?

… Or did he show himself for another reason?

"A life for a life."

The grim reaper had come for the moth. He had come to inquire about her resurrecting the insect. And that got her thinking… Did that mean that every time she wanted to resurrect someone, she had to kill another in their stead?

"An exchange of life?" she mused, not liking the thought.

Nocte was made to kill, she knew, but she chose not to.

That was the difference between her and her clan… or ex-clan since they disowned her.

Knock, knock.

She sat up at once. "Come in."

A maid opened the door at a respectful fraction and informed, "Milady, your sisters are here to see you."

Smiling, she hastened, "See them in."

The maid curtsied and retreated from the door.

Her father had visited her a week ago, but he had been the only one since then. There was no doubt in Nocte's mind that everyone was putting up a mask in front of the clan, to redirect their attentions from finding her. And that worried Nocte more than she anyone could imagine… her family being scrutinized and perhaps… threatened…

A knock and the door opened.

"Nocte!" Ebony, long wavy hair, dark eyes and "25"years old, burst forth and glomped her.

With a slight grimace at the witch's grip, she greeted, "Hey, Ebony!"

"Nocte…" Occult trailed… blinking to clear her vision and to make sure that her sister was indeed in front of her… alive.

Nocte gave her an encouraging smile and looked her over. She was taller, if not as tall as, Nocte with her straight bangs cutting across her eyebrows and her shoulder-length hair.

"Come 'ere," she said, opening her arms wide for the both of them.

Without a second though, Occult launched herself into the sisterly fiesta, her body shaking in relief.

"It's okay…" Nocte cooed. "I'm fine."

"I…" Occult said. "I was…"

She knew that she wanted to say "scared", but couldn't bring herself to. Smiling at her sister's ever-villainous upbringing, Nocte soothed her back and placed Ebony's head on her shoulders.

She had escaped three weeks ago… such a long time to make them wait. Such a long time in which they had sat in the dark, wondering how their sister was faring.

Wondering if she were still alive.

"Hello, Hecate," Nocte greeted gently when the cat leapt onto the bed and settled nicely beside her. "How have you been?"

The cat meowed.

Her sisters took the time to recuperate, and no matter how many tears Ebony may have shed, it did not hide the weariness in her eyes…

"Is something the matter?" Nocte asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

The witch sucked in air in a harsh way that told that there was, indeed, something very wrong.

She looked to Occult for an answer, who hadn't bothered with make-up to cover the small dark rings under her eyes.

"A resurrection?" Occult inquired, eyes attached to the moth like a lifeline.

"Yes… I call her Lucinda," she answered, a bit suspicious. "That's Bob over there."

Ebony tried a humourless smile at the mention of the dust bunny, but it ended up wobbly.

Nocte leaned up against the wall and waited… patiently – or as patient as she could be.

"Is it the Emperor?" she finally asked.

They both froze.

"Yes, I know," she answered their silent question. "Is he… dead?"

Ebony was the first to compose herself, in which she quickly replied, "No, no. He still lives."

"Then what's wrong?" Nocte asked, off the charts with worry. "Please tell me."

Occult looked to the ground when she answered, "It's… the Elders."

Her jaw tightened at the mention of them, but restrained herself from saying anything.

"They…" the psychic trailed. "They are questioning our motives."

"That's… not surprising," she said, her lips a thin line.

"They question dad's choice of a wife!" Ebony shouted, furious.

Nocte's eyes went wide and she sprang to sit up straight. "What?!"

"They wish for father-" Occult broke off, choking on her own words – words that deemed blasphemous to say.

"What?" Nocte wanted to know, but Occult looked away. She regarded Ebony, who darted up to her feet and turned away. Face grim, the order was clear. "Tell me."

Ebony visibly tensed and Occult visibly held back a shiver.

A minute passed by, the air thick with warning and anxiousness.

Finally, Ebony answered, "They wish for dad… for dad to marry a second wife – perhaps even a third!"

The air went down wrong and sent Nocte on a coughing spree, all the while going into a downward spiral.

Enraged, Nocte shouted, "How can they even suggest such a thing!?"

"They've even sent candidates to our manor for father to choose!" Ebony said, livid.

"Choose?" she spat. "As if dad would ever!"

"For now, father is stalling," Occult said, the more reasonable one out of the three. "He's at Zhōng, paying attention to the Royal Council. Mother is seeing to the candidates."

"They won't last long," she said.

"Not with mom," Ebony agreed.

"Be that as it may," the psychic said, reining them back on track. "We have other important issues to discuss."

"More important than mom being ousted?" Nocte murmured with a perked eyebrow.

"Yes," Occult said.

"Like…?" she trailed in question.

"My wedding!" Ebony exclaimed, bursting into a shower of sparkles with a bright smile.

"No." Occult punctured her balloon.

"Then what?" she asked as Ebony wallowed in the corner.

"You," their little sister said.

At once, Ebony was at their side. "Yes. We have to get you out of here."

Frowning, she asked, "Why? I'm perfectly fine here."

"No, you're not," their older sister said simply and with such a grave expression that Nocte found herself reconsidering the Paine mansion.

"How much do you know about the issues involving the Emperor Jīn Lóng's will?" Occult asked.

"The most recent will to date says that Prince Zhé Lóng, the Emperor's son with the fifteenth concubine, will inherit the throne," Nocte recalled. "However, the Royal Council wishes it to be Prince Piān Lóng, the Emperor's son with the Empress."

"Our clan has decided to side with Prince Piān Lóng," Occult said at once.

"What?" Nocte questioned, aghast. "He's only nine years old!"

"He is the true crown prince, from the womb of the Empress Pīng Féng herself," Ebony defended. "He is the true heir to the throne."

"Should the well-being of the continent, of seven countries, not be looked after by a prince who is older, wiser and more experienced that a mere child?" Nocte asked.

"It is father's choice," Occult said.

This made Nocte think… Her dad knew better than to side with a child – he knew better than to risk the safety of the whole empire for his clan's selfishness… What did their father know that they didn't?

"He knows something…" she concluded.

"Do you know what it is?" Ebony questioned, eager.

Surprised, Nocte looked at the two of them, of them leaning close for any information they could get. "Why do you think I know something?"

Ebony sighed and Occult replied, "You were the last one father talked to before he left for Zhōng."

"And he had said nothing to mom?" she inquired.

"Mom's good at hiding things," Ebony pointed out.

"Right…" she agreed. "But dad told me nothing."

Both her sisters' shoulders sank in defeat.

"That's besides the point," Nocte said. "What does the Emperor's will have to do with me leaving here?"

Ebony bit her lower lip and said, "The Paine have chosen to side with Prince Zhé Lóng."

Nocte grew quiet.

"Once the Emperor is dead," Occult said. "The Paines will kill you."

"Hmm…" she said. "That's a nasty thought, isn't it?"

Ebony winced and Occult fumed.

"Can you not take this more seriously?" Occult asked.

"I survived the Elders, didn't I?" she said, and they both had nothing to say to that. "Then I'll be fine… as long as we have a plan."

"Yes, for sure," Ebony said, nodding rapidly. "The exchange. Tonight, we'll exchange you for the Eternal Youth Elixir."

"Be ready," Occult said gravely.

Her eyes grew hard and her back straightened.

"I will."

"I will not let Thanatos take me so easily."

Last Christmas, Ebony had given her a Charm Bracelet, a bracelet with actual witch charms. It was a bracelet she held dear and she wore it that night when Necrosis Paine visited her. He was sitting in the chair and she was sitting on her bed, facing the door over his shoulder.

The "exchange" was to happen soon.

"You've come to kill me," she said.

"I have been ordered to."

He hadn't needed to give a reply, but he did so anyway.

They were alone in her room when he drew out the gun and aimed it precisely at her head.

The safety came off with a click.




The bullet rolled on the stone floor for a good while.

"I thought we had a truce."

"Duty, Yin. Duty does not stop because of a truce."

"It does when one does not care for the duty."

"I serve my family."

"As do I."

"You have been exiled."

"That does not make me love them less."

He did not say a thing… perhaps he did not know what to say.

"I am surprised, Paine. I did not think you would break our truce based on the decisions of others. I had thought you were strong enough to make your own choices."

"Your choices brought you death."

"And yet… I am still alive."

"They will kill you."

"It will be Thanatos who will kill me, and I don't think he plans to very soon."


It hit the invisible shield and fell to the floor.

"I can cast faster than a bullet."


They sat in the quiet, holding each other's eyes, waiting.

"You don't want to kill me."

Another bullet hit the floor.

"No, I do not."

"And why is that?"

He did not reply, merely pulling the trigger again.

"You're just wasting the bullets now."

"I am aware."

"Then why don't you stop?"

He lowered the gun then.

"Did you get the Eternal Youth Elixir?"

He put away the weapon.

"I'll just assume that your people are currently fighting my people to get the elixir, am I right?"

He settled back into the chair and watched her.

"I see… then I can safely assume that someone is coming to get me… and that, perhaps… you'd let them?"

He did not answer.

"Why is it that you never tell me anything, but you seem to know everything about me?"

The moth flitted between them then.

"You're planning on using me, aren't you? That's why you're not going to kill me."


"Mmhm, I believe you."

Sarcasm. They were both familiar with it.

The door burst open then, and a dagger was quickly placed against his neck. Melissa Witley, the ever-loyal spy, looked composed, although a bit out of breath, with the weapon drawn against his skin. Long brown hair with dark brown eyes and wearing unnecessarily expensive clothing, she was a Queen Bee type and ready to prove it.

Nocte got up from the bed and gave him a tight smile.

"Let him go," she said. "He saved my life."

His eyes moved to meet hers.

"Now we are even, Necrosis Paine," she said. "Perhaps we would be useful to each other. It's not very fair for only you to use me, don't 'cha think?"

They left him sitting there and they closed the door.

"Milady?" Witley inquired.

"Nothing," Nocte said. "Let's go."

The brunette nodded and ran down the torch lit dungeon halls. Nocte followed, each of her footsteps magnified by the echoing stones. She passed by multiple of Paine guard corpses and the cracks of the floor seem to fill with red liquid. Agreeing that Melissa had done well, Nocte kept her eyes up, not wanting to see the faded eyes and the horrible dagger gashes.

The sprinted up several flights of stairs and once they made it to ground floor, Nocte had to pause to regain her breath. Melissa, always physically at her prime, looked down the carpeted halls for any enemies as her mistress recuperated.

One did not question why their mistress stopped. One merely stops and makes sure she lives.

"The right?" Nocte inquired.

"Left," Melissa said.

Together they made down the left hallway, hiding close to the shadows. They passed room after room, stopping several times to avoid nearing fight. Nocte clenched her teeth at all the noise in the mansion. There were clanging of weapons, screams of terror and anger, and… the sound of the last breath.

Melissa suddenly stopped and Nocte almost bumped into her.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Yes, Melissa, what's wrong?" the new voice asked.

Nocte stepped out from behind the spy to see her…

"Melantha," she spat.

Ebony's greatest adversary and the older sister of Paine, Nocte didn't know if Melissa was up for it. She was beautiful with long platinum hair and baby blue eyes, the second eldest of the Paine Clan certainly did them justice. She was also a witch, charms hidden beneath her clothes, hexes easily cast by a single word. Her familiar, a beautiful white ferret, was wrapped around her neck.

Nocte narrowed her eyes on the animal.

The ferret was rarely seen with its mistress, usually caged up somewhere… for Melantha to take her out meant that she was serious.

Melissa was ready to fight, seemingly fine, but Nocte knew better. Having had been educated in the White Arts, she knew that Melissa's stamina was running low, she was bleeding several places that had been bandaged and she was not faster than a spell.

It was up to Nocte.

"Fall back," she commanded.

The spy tensed, her knuckles white around her daggers.

"Please," she requested.

The brunette stepped back, not lowering her weapons and still holding her defensive position.

"Am I to fight the Nocte Yin?" Melantha jested. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're no longer a Yin, are you?"

"But I'm still very much one, aren't I?" she asked.

The blonde's confident smirk was still on her face, but her eyes were very much frowning.

"I'm surprised you brought your ferret with you," she commented.

"You're sister's here," Melantha said.

"Thank you for telling me," she said.

This time, Melantha did frown.

"Witley," Nocte said.

Melissa tossed her a dagger in which she snatched from the air flawlessly.

"Hm," Melantha scoffed. "You think a shiny weapon will defeat me?"

"No," Nocte said. "I think I will."

She ran forward, a mere blur in the air, and was thrown back by a spell immediately. She flipped through the air and landed on her feet, crouched. The witch laughed and Nocte narrowed her eyes. She had to be serious; she had to have the intent to injure. It was the only way Nocte could win – if she fought with the intention of hurting.

Flicking the dagger up in the air and then catching it, she felt the weight. Her eyes slid to the ground – no circle.


It had been a mere spell.

Licking her lips, she dashed forward again, the air rushing by her. The witch pulled out a charm and with a burst of sparkles, Nocte melted into the shadows to avoid the paralysis spell.

"What?" the blonde muttered.

Nocte, in the Shadow Realm, moved along the darkened area and then appeared behind the blonde, dagger drawn. The ferret, seeing this, hissed and leapt at her. She quickly ducked and the ferret flew over her, but the witch had already seen.

Another spell, and Nocte rolled to avoid. Quickly, she stood and with two fingers, her index and middle ones, she tapped the two pressure points at her shoulders and successfully paralysed the witch.

"You wench!" Melantha screamed, trying to move her legs but to no avail.

The white ferret clawed along the carpeted floor towards Nocte, but Melissa was quick to impale its tail to the ground, causing it to scream and roll and bite the air.

"I'm not going to kill you," Nocte said. "But I'll gladly take some of your charms."

"I, on the other hand, will gladly kill you," Ebony said and threw a spell.

"Barrier," Nocte spelled and the lightning vanished.

"Nocte!" her sister screamed, indignant.

"I won't kill you," she repeated to Melantha again. "Your brother and I have to use each other, after all, and I don't think he'd be as willing to let me use him if I killed you."

The blonde sneered. "You're weak."

Ebony marched up to her, nails drawn to scratch, but Melissa was quick to be there to stop her.

"I don't think I have time to take your charms today, Melantha, but I do hope that next time I will," Nocte said in farewell. "We'll be leaving now."


"No, Ebony," she said. "We're leaving."

Her sister pouted, but listened.

Hecate hissed at the ferret and the ferret hissed back, but that was as much as Nocte would allow the witches to encounter each other.

"Which way?" Nocte asked.

It was Ebony who answered. "Through this room."

They ran into the room and did not think twice before jumping out the window and into the warm midnight air.

"Light as the air around me,

Swift as the wind can carry.


They descended to the ground like angels would and rushed into the carriage the moment their feet hit the grass. Without missing a beat, the carriage was off in a flurry of horses and guards. Nocte settled back, dishevelled, and saw that Ivy, Janelle, Kara and Christine were riding alongside the four Domino Guards.

"Oh, Theron, it was terrible!" Ebony exclaimed and launched herself into the arms of her fiancé.

"There, there now," the man comforted, holding her close.

Nocte was surprised to see him in the carriage. He was almost twice Ebony's age and his hair was starting to grey. There were a few wrinkles on his face and he was… old, or rather, older than Ebony… way older.

Melissa sat to her right and to her left was Occult. Across from Occult was…

"Gash?" Nocte inquired.

"Wow, way to be welcomed," her eldest brother said sarcastically.

"Sorry, I just – didn't think you'd be here," she said, frowning.

Gash was a big, muscled man with broad shoulders and a cheeky grin. Always one for fun, he was upbeat and good-natured… most of the time. But once he armed his legions for war, he was a force to be reckoned with.

"Well, I am, so there," he said, sticking out his tongue.

Nocte rolled her eyes and wondered how erratic her life could be. One moment she was facing a gun, then a witch and now her brother was up for a nice, friendly banter.


"Honestly though, Nocte," Gash said, smiling gently. "I'm glad to see you."

It was then that she saw how relieved they all seemed to be.

They had been worried.

Worried that she would be dead.

Worried that the day of the scheduled suicide, she had actually died.

They needed reassurance.

Reassurance that she was all right.

Reassurance that she was alive.

"Yeah…" she whispered with a slow, genuine smile. "Me too."

the point

w w w . t h e - . n e t . t c

t - h - e - p - o - i - n - t .