As I watched my brother and Zagan play I thought I could hear Micheal yelling something from the rock Logan said they needed a ‘grown-up’ meeting. I looked up over my shoulder but I couldn’t see anything over the giant rock.
I looked back over to where the two boys were playing and let out a sigh. I wanted to play with my brother but something was stopping me. I didn’t feel comfortable around Zagan. I didn’t know why he hadn’t been mean to me or anything. I just got this off feeling whenever I was around him.
I noticed some yellow and blue flowers around the creek and decided to make a flower crown for Ella. I used to make flower crowns all the time for Sara but now that she’s gone...I can’t anymore. Sara would always tell me how pretty they looked and how much she loved them. I figured Ella might like them to.
I got to work picking flowers and threading them together. I heard Zackary and Zagan laughing and splashing around in the middle of the water. I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. Zackary and I have never played with another kid our age, we were the youngest in our group ever since we were born. While the others ran around camp doing their ‘grown-up’ jobs, Zackary and I would sneak off and play together. Now he has someone else to play with and doesn’t need me anymore.
I just finished threading the last of my flowers together when Logan and Micheal came down from the rock they were talking on. I ran up to them, giggling, with the flower crown in my hands. When I reached them I noticed Micheal looked upset and Logan’s face was blank.
“Where’s Ella?” I asked, still giggling. “I made her a flower crown.”
“Maya-” Micheal began but Logan cut him off.
“Don’t, you should tell them all at once,” Logan said while waving Zackary and Zagan over.
“I should tell them!” Micheal yelled at Logan and I flinched, dropping the flower crown. Micheal was rarely angry, nevermind so angry as to start yelling at Logan. “Why don’t you tell them what you told Ella! Why should I have broken the news to them!”
“What news?” Zackary asked, coming to stand beside me.
“Go ahead,” Micheal said to Logan. “Tell them what you said to Ella.”
I picked up the flower crown I made and looked back at Micheal and Logan. Logan was deliberately avoiding Micheal’s gaze. Logan glanced down at the flower crown I made for Ella and then back at me.
“Maya,” Logan said in a soft voice. “Ella’s not here.”
“Wh- what do you mean she’s ‘not here!’” I asked, my voice shaking.
“She was too much of a danger to keep with us, Maya,” Logan said with the same soft voice. “She had to go.”
“G-Go where?” I asked Logan, already expecting the answer.
“Away,” Logan said, looking at all three of us now. “Ella went away.”
It has been a week since I have dispatched the search parties into Asylo Forest in search of the EM, and so far they have come up with nothing. I had to give it to her, she was doing a fine job at keeping herself hidden, even if she didn’t know she was hiding.
I knew it could take a while to locate the EM when I first started this search over five years ago but I was still getting impatient. Group C has already given me a false lead, they claimed they found a young girl matching the description I had given them but when they took her to David’s group for further questioning, they learned they located the wrong girl. I felt my heart sink as I read the letter David sent me telling me the girl they located was not the EM after all.
They devoured the false lead and left her for dead. I wasn’t planning on anyone dying during this expedition but I suppose this way was better. Now the false lead could not alert the real EM to the hunt for her.
I was spending most of my time in the library trying to study up on different languages and researching information on EM users. I have not come across much I didn’t already know. I have selected a pile of books on different languages and fairy tales about EM’s that I have no way of proving are false. Once I have the EM in my custody I plan to decipher these rumors about what an EM can and can’t do.
I was in the middle of organizing some papers when a high ranking military officer burst through the doors looking fatigued. The man was tall and had dark brown hair, he had his sword strapped to his back and his pistol in its holster at his hip. I recognized him as the military’s second in command, officer Ian.
“Sir!” Officer Ian called out as soon as he stepped into the room. “There has been another attack at our Eastern border!”
I let out a curse and stepped away from my papers. “Was it Prince Dominic again?”
Dominic was the head prince of a kingdom called Exousia. Our two kingdoms have never gotten along but it wasn’t until my father was murdered and I took the throne that they decided to declare war on us. They claimed I was too young to rule a vampire kingdom but I always suspected it was more than that. Princess Charlotte ruled vampire kingdom Exousia along with Prince Dominic. Charlotte was Dominic’s wife and they have ruled their kingdom together for around one-hundred years.
“Yes, your highness.” Officer Ian answered back quickly. “They have sent the Second Prince of Exousia to lead the attack. He claims his father has sent a message for you that he must deliver in person.”
Charlotte and Dominic had three children, the youngest was the Second Prince of Exousia. His name was Wyatt and he was around nineteen years old. Prince Wyatt had two elder sisters; they were the second and third princesses of Exousia. The eldest was named Sophia and she was around fifty-six years old, even though she looked to be about twenty-three. The younger sister was named Evelyn and she was around thirty-eight yet she looked to be the same age as her sister.
“Very well,” I said, already walking towards the exit. “If he wishes to see me lets not keep him waiting.”
The Eastern border was in chaos, we were on the outside of a human village named Zoyas. As we rode our horses we could see mothers rushing their children through the streets, men were boarding up their houses, lost children were holding each other for comfort.
As we approached the border village guards and kingdom soldiers were fighting side-by-side with Exousia soldiers. Bodies from both sides littered the ground. When one of the soldiers noticed us approaching she rushed over to us. I recognized her as My armies first in command. Her name was Officer Louella, she has been the head of Aima’s army for over sixty years.
“Prince Julian!” Officer Louella said to me and I noticed a wound on her head that was already healing. “The Second Prince of Exousia wishes to speak with you in private. How would you like to proceed?”
“I will speak to him, but I wish to have you there with me,” I said to my first in command. “You know much more about war and politics than I. I wish for you to step in as my advisor.”
“Of course your majesty.” Officer Louella gave a small bow. “I will accompany you to the meeting with Second Prince Wyatt of Exousia. Please, follow me.”
We left the battlefield and made way towards a pale blue tent that had a flag flying over it. The flag had a Griffin printed in gold on it. I recognized the flag as belonging to the Kingdom of Exousia.
As we approached the tent there were two Exousia guards on either side of the entryway. They pulled open the blue tent flap for us and we stepped inside. The tent had a large wooden desk in the middle and on one side stood the Second Prince of Exousia. Prince Wyatt was standing on one side of the desk and gave us a cold smile as we approached.
“Prince Julian,” Wyatt said whale looking over Officer Louella. “I thought I said I wished to speak with you in private, just who is this.”
“This is officer Louella and she is one of my most trusted officers,” I said in the strong voice I use at all formal gatherings. “She is the first in command of my army and she will be standing in as my adviser.”
“I see,” Prince Wyatt gave a cold smile. “And just what happened to David?”
“David is away on an assignment at the moment,” I said, not tearing my gaze away from Prince Wyatt.
“I see, well if you insist on this little lady to advise you, who am I to stop it? Now, shall we get to business.”
“What are you doing here Prince Wyatt? You charge into my kingdom with a small army and start attacking my borders yet you dare to show your face.” I said in the same unwavering voice. “What is stopping me from drawing my weapon and cutting off your head right here?”
“I have simply come here to deliver a message from my father,” Wyatt said, returning his gaze to me. “As you know, my father will only call off this war if you surrender your kingdom to him. You are far too young to rule a kingdom Julian, your better off surrendering to Exousia. My father swears that if you surrender, he will have a place in his castle for you to stay. You will become his servant and you would have to do as he tells you. If you don’t agree to his terms he will burn your kingdom to the ground and slotter every vampire inside it that refuses to become loyal to him, starting with you.”
I wasn’t a fool, I knew how Exouisa treated their citizens. Humans and Vampires alike were treated very poorly. There were far more vampires Exouisa than humans and because of this, the humans were always weak from blood loss and the vampires were always on the brink of insanity due to hunger.
If I surrendered my power the vampires in Aima would have no choice but be loyal to Exouisa and always be on the edge of insanity. The humans in Aima would always become weak and many would die.
“Well as tempting as that offer is,” I said with a hint of sarcasm in the same voice. “I am going to have to decline. I know the state your kingdom is in, I will not have my vampire nor human citizens be a part of that.”
Vampires were loyal by nature. The vampires in my kingdom would not take orders from anyone other than my bloodline unless I surrendered my power. Humans, on the other hand, it is in their very nature to survive at all costs. If they were convinced the Head Prince of Exouisa would kill them, they would do whatever he asked.
“You are a clever one, Prince Julian. However, I don’t see why that should matter.” Said the Second Prince. “You know we have the upper hand in this war, we have far larger numbers than you. All we want is your land and your humans. If you surrender power over to my father, you and the other vampires in your kingdom might live.”
“I believe the Prince has made his decision,” Officer Louella said. It was the first thing she said since this meeting began.
“You are making a mistake Julian!” Prince Wyatt snapped. “When we win this war I will make sure I am the one to run my sword straight through your heart! Do you hear me!? I will be the one to end your miserable little life!”
He was still yelling threats as Officer Louella and I exited the tent. We were a few yards away from the tent when Officer Louella told me something whale keeping her eyes ahead of her.
“I hope you have a plan, Prince Julian. Their kingdom outnumbers us by eight to one. We have only managed to hold on for five years because they have not taken much interest in us. However, these attacks on our borders have been becoming more and more frequent.”
“I am well aware of our situation, Officer Louella,” I answered her, keeping my eyes ahead of me. “However, I am asking you and the soldiers to hold on for a little longer. I do have a plan but it is taking much longer than I thought.”
I left her with that and walked ahead towards the village we left our horses. I would have normally allowed Officer Louella to escort me all the way to the village but I didn’t want her to notice the slight tremble in my hands or the small change in my breathing.
I was scared.
I was not the type of person to scare easily, but another kingdom threatening my citizens and all of them looking to me for answers, it was too much for one vampire to handle. My entire plan was riding on the EM and if we couldn’t find her, I didn’t even want to think about what would happen.
One thing was for certain, if and when I found the EM, I would have to get her to fight in the army. I would find some way to get her to agree to fight in Amia’s army.
Once I reached where Officer Ian and I tied up our horses and found him standing by his horse looking rather disheveled. When he saw me his face lit up.
“Sir!” Ian ran up to me. “I have received a message from group F. They believe they might have located the EM.”