Ian gave me a message that was written by group F. I rushed home and raced back into my room. I plopped myself down on my bed and cautiously opened the letter. I began to read every word slowly and carefully.
Dear Head Prince Julian of Aima,
It brings us great pleasure to inform you that we have located a girl matching your description. She claims to have run into Master David’s scout around five years ago. She was traveling in a group made out of five other humans, including three children. They started to attack us and in the middle of the battle, and we witnessed the girl’s abilities first hand.
She read a page out of what looked like an old diary and out of nowhere, a huge gust of wind carried them up into the sky. It was the most incredible thing we have ever seen. It carried them hundreds of feet in the sky towards the North. We have already started to track them but we fear we don’t know how long it will take.
We have also been able to gather more information on her identity. A young girl traveling with the EM called her Ella. She was extremely short, at first glance we thought she was around the age of thirteen or fourteen. Once we got a clearer view of her face we were able to tell she was around the age of sixteen.
The EM also had an injury on her left ankle. It seemed to be twisted or sprained but it was much too red and swollen to tell. We fear that if she continues to use it she could hurt herself beyond recovery.
We will do everything in our power to find the girl and bring her to you,
Once I finished the letter I experienced a mix of emotions ranging from the joy that she has been found, to angry that they have lost her, to dread that she was injured. If her ankle got any worse it may lead to serious complications, and that would severely damage her ability to fight in a battle.
I was joyful that the EM finally had a name, Ella. I said it out loud a few times in disbelief. All these years of searching and I was so close to bringing her home to the castle. If she was injured I needed to have a servant ready to tend to her wounds so she would be able to start training.
I could make those preparations right away, but I was finding myself unable to make myself stay here any longer. I left my room and made my way down the halls to look for Officer Ian. At first, I tried the training room but he was not there, then I tried the garden with no luck. Eventually, I came across the library and found him sitting at a table, reading a book about ancient battle strategies.
Once he saw me he got up and did a bow.
“Prince Julian, I assume you read the letter?” Officer Ian asked.
“I have,” I answered. “And I have a large task for you.”
“Anything, my prince.”
“I wish to go into Asylo Forest myself and join up with group F,” I said to Officer Ian. “I want to join the search for the EM.”
“And you wish for me to fill in for you?” Officer Ian said with an astonished expression. “Your majesty I would be honored, but if I may ask, why not Officer Louella? She is first in command of the army after all.”
“Ah, but that’s just it,” I said to Officer Ian. “She is the head of the army and we are currently fighting a battle at the Northern border. She is needed there more than I need her here.”
“I am honored that you chose me to fill in this position for you, your highness.” Officer Ian gave a small bow. “You will not be disappointed.”
“I have absolute faith that you will keep the kingdom running smoothly in my absence,” I said backing out of the library. “If not you will be punished accordingly.”
Once I left the library I went to my room to start packing for the trip. I planned to leave tomorrow night and expected to be at Asylo Forest before sunrise if everything went smoothly. I grabbed a black duffle bag and went into my closet. I packed mostly warm clothes, vampires were not affected as much by temperature by humans but we still could get cold. I also grabbed a few thermoses of blood, I guessed they would last me a few days but when I caught up to group F, I could always feed on the humans I sent in there party.
Once I was done packing my clothes I walked down to the infirmary. Vampires rarely use it, It is more for the human guards and servants whenever they get ill. There were a few servants in the beds when I walked in, I did my best to ignore them but one caught my eye. It was the servant girl I fed off in my office a few days ago. So this was where the guards had brought her.
I continue on to one of the shelves without giving the girl a second thought. This shelf was where the doctors kept first-aid kits. I picked up one of the larger ones and started to sift through it.
I was looking for things that might help Ella and her hurt ankle. It still felt weird using her name after so long of referring to her as The EM.
The first aid kit was full of bandaids, gauze, tourniquets, scissors, a few different types of creams, some pain killers, bottled water, and some energy bars. I didn’t know how bad Ella’s ankle was so I just decided to take the whole kit.
Now all I needed was a tent and I could get that from the guard’s storage room. It probably wouldn’t hurt to grab a weapon or two while I was there. The guard’s storage room was always well-stocked in case we had an emergency and needed to get someplace in a hurry.
I found the closet they store all of the camping supplies and grabbed a tent. I turned to the weapons rack and already knew what weapon I would pick. When I was younger I would train all day and night with a rapier. Once I picked it up the rapier its weight felt familiar in my hand. I gave it a test swing and it gave a satisfying swish as it cut through the air.
I remembered the first time I ever picked up a rapier. I was around eight when my father thought it was time for me to learn to fight. My father told me to choose a weapon that called to me and I settled on a rapier. There was something about the thin blade that was both deadly and beautiful.
Every day after that, my father and I would practice until I was covered in bruises and had a few broken bones. I always healed quickly due to my vampire nature and was always ready to try again the next day.
We did this every day until the night he was murdered. The guards told me it was most likely the same people who killed my elder brother. My brother was killed over seventy years ago and I never got to meet him. He was around sixty-eight when he was murdered, by human standards this might be seen as old but by vampire standers, this was still quite young.
I shielded the rapier in a holster on my hip. I grabbed the tent and the first aid kit and made my way back to my chambers.
I hardly got any sleep that day, I was far too anxious about my upcoming trip to Asylo Forest. By the time ten pm came around I had managed to get around five hours of rest. I got dressed and grabbed my bag and made my way down to the stables.
Once I approved the stables with my bag thrown over my shoulder the stable boy approached me. He was human and looked to be around fifteen-years-old.
“P-prince Julian.” The stable boy stumbled over his words and made an attempt at a bow. “W-where a-are you g-going?”
“That does not concern you,” I met his eyes with a level gaze. “All you need to know is I will be gone for a while and I need my horse. Now go run along and do your job.”
The stable boy walked quickly out of my view and into the horse’s pens. He returned a few moments later leading my midnight-black horse out of the stable with her saddle already on. I named her Luna because of her black coat.
“H-here she is y-your majesty” The stable boy stuttered then retreated back into the stables.
I attached my bag to her saddle then hopped on. I took the reins in my hands and started to leave the castle grounds.
I have been walking for over two days now and so far I have come across nothing. No edible plants, no fruit, and definitely no buildings. With every passing day, I felt my ankle get worse and worse. I was doing my best to stay off of it, I would take frequent breaks, try and avoid climbing, and definitely no running.
It was getting close to impossible to walk, every step shot a sharp pain throughout my whole body. I didn’t know how much longer I could continue on like this.
If I were to run across vampires there would be no way I could fight them off. My best bet would be to either hide or run.
I was very lucky to not run into any vampires with the blood coming from my leg. It wasn’t like it was gushing blood but it was still enough blood to attract any hungry vampires. It was bad enough I had to watch out for Class X vamps, but now that I had to look out for Class B as well was going to be difficult. I knew the signs to look for in Class X bloodsuckers but I have only ever encountered Class B twice in my life. Once when I was eleven and once just a few days ago.
I was still trying to learn the language of the journal I found that somehow can do all of those crazy things. Logan claimed the book looked blank to him but I think he was lying. If both Maya and I could see it there was no way I was going insane. Logan never really liked me anyway, so that was probably why lying.
I’m hoping once I figure out what language the journal is written in I will be able to learn why the book can do what it does. It had to be the book doing all of those weird things, right?
I have decided it was time to take another break and I found a fallen tree to rest on. I took out my water bottle and took some sparring sips. Water was easier to come across then food but it was still always better to be safe than sorry.
I stayed there for about ten minutes and was about to leave when I heard something rustle behind me. I slowly stood up and reached for one of my daggers. If this was a vampire my best chance would be to run, but if they already have seen me they would be able to catch me with no problem.
I started scanning the tree line for the source of the sound. I saw a shadow rush across the forest. I stepped closer and pulled out my dagger. The cause of the noise was a familiar young girl wearing a faded pink dress and worn black tights. She looked up at me and smiled.
It was Maya.
I couldn’t believe it, what was she doing out here? Where were the others? Before I could say anything she jumped up and wrapped her small arms around my waist.
“Ella!” The young girl shouted. “I’ve missed you so much!”
“Maya?” I said at a loss for words. “What are you doing here, what happened to the others?”
“It snuck away while no one was watching,” Maya said in a giggling voice. “I have been looking for you ever since you left!”
Left? I didn’t leave, did Logan and Micheal not tell her what really happened? I guess I shouldn’t put it past them. Although they must be freaking out right about now because they can’t find Maya.
I let out a sigh and turned back to the young girl. “You shouldn’t have followed me, Maya.”
“Why? I thought you would be happy to see me.” Maya looked like there were tears forming in her eyes.
“I am happy to see you, but you just vanished into the night without telling anyone. Your brother will be worried sick.”
“But he will be fine,” Maya said with a smile. “He might worry for a few days then he will get over.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this still the same Maya I left back in her group? It was like she didn’t care about her brother or any of the others. I just stood there in total disbelief when I finally noticed it.
Maya was supposed to have a small scar running across her chin. However, this little girl did not. Scars don’t just dissipate like that, this child might look like Maya but something was wrong.
“So Maya,” I said as naturally as I could. “What about your mother? I know she will be worried sick about her missing child.”
“She still has Zackary,” Maya said with a smile. “She will get over me.”
That’s when I drew my other dagger and pinned the imposter to a tree. Maya and Zackary’s mother were dead, Maya told me herself when we first met.
“I don’t know who you are,” I said with venom in my voice. “But I know you are not Maya. Now tell me, who are you?”
“Ella! It’s me! It’s Maya!” The imposter yelled again.
“No you’re not,” I said, tightening my grip on my dagger. “Maya has a scar and you don’t. Now, I will not ask you again, who are you?”
The young girl said nothing this time, instead, she just smiled. Not one of Mays’s innocent and happy smiles, but this was cold and wicked. She started to laugh, at first it was an innocent giggle but it slowly evolved into something deep and inhuman. I choked back a yell and staggered back a few steps when the skin seemed to melt off the thing impersonating Maya. Right in front of my eyes, the imposter went from looking like a normal child to looking like a monster.
Its skin was sagging off its small body, her eyes were solid black, and her clothes seemed to vanish into the folds of its melted skin. The thing had long black hair and it seemed to hunch forward. It let out an inhuman yell and lunged for me.