I lost the footprints about half a mile into our journey. I figured we should continue north unless we have reason to change direction. We managed to get about five miles away from the camp before nightfall. On my own, I could probably go miles more but not when I have a child in tow.
I found a decent spot to rest and pulled out the sleeping bag and blankets from my backpack. I handed them to Maya and told her to try and get some rest. I planned on staying awake to keep watch and I climbed a nearby tree to have a better vantage point. It was a cold night out tonight and I pulled up the hood on my dark green sweatshirt.
My dark black hair was blowing in the wind and I felt a chill run up my spine. I was never a very tall girl, I’m no more than 5’8. I’m really skinny due to the struggle for food, I weigh about 95 pounds. I have pale skin and emerald-green eyes. I have one pale scar running across the palm of my right hand from cutting myself on my dagger.
I pushed my hair out of my face and noticed something odd in the distance. If I squinted my eyes I noticed a small orange light off in the distance. It was at the bottom of the cliff we were camping on. It had a thin plume of smoke rising into the night sky and it looked like a campfire.
What idiots would start a campfire out in the open like that? Are they trying to get attacked by class X? I thought to myself.
I was looking at the fire and decided it seemed to be about ten miles away. I looked down at Maya and let out a sigh. I couldn’t just leave her here and go investigate. I looked back at the fire and made my decision.
I had to see who started this fire, it could have been Maya’s group for all I knew. It would take about three hours to get there if I ran and three hours to get back. That meant leaving Maya alone and unguarded for about six hours. We were in a pretty secluded spot and it was not easy to find unless you were looking for it. I had to take the risk, I needed to find out who the people were that started the fire.
I jumped down from the tree and landed on my feet with a small thud. I had my rapier in its holster on my hip and decided to leave my backpack with Maya so it wouldn’t slow me down.
I took one last look at the young girl balled up in blankets and set off in the direction of the campfire. I was running at a steady pace hoping not to tire myself out too quickly. I spent all my life traveling on foot like this so I built up quite an endurance. When I came across the side of the cliff separating me from the campfire I tried to find the easiest way down.
There was no way to walk down the cliff so I was going to have to climb down. It was about thirty to forty feet tall and I had no climbing gear. I found my first foothold and began to slowly pull myself down the cliff. I was about eleven feet from the bottom when I lost my balance and my feet slipped out from under me.
I fell to the ground and landed on my left leg. I felt a sharp pain coming from my left ankle when I stood up.
Must be twisted, I thought to myself. I hissed through clenched teeth and continued on in the direction of the campfire.
After about four hours I reached the camp. It took me an extra hour with my twisted ankle then it normally would have. I crouched down behind a large tree and peeked out at the camp. I saw one dark-blue two-person tent and two one-person tents. They were set up in a half-circle with a campfire in the center.
With the orange glow of the campfire, I was able to spot three males sitting with their backs to me. The oldest looked about one or two years older than me and had black hair extending to their ears. Next to them was another boy that looked about sixteen and had light brown hair. The youngest looked about Maya’s age and had the same blond hair extending to his ears.
“You have to eat something Zackary.” The brown hair boy said with a sigh. I noticed his right leg was wrapped in an excessive amount of cloth. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the black hair boy sitting away from the other two people. He had something shining in his hand but I couldn’t make out what it was.
“No!” The little boy snapped. “I don’t want to eat anything until I find Maya!”
Looks like I found Maya’s group. I thought to myself.
“We will find her Zack, but she needs you to keep your strength up until then.” The boy with brown hair said again.
I lessoned in on them for a few more moments trying to gather more information. I figured out that the boy with brown hair’s name is Michael and that means the boy with black hair is Logan. I also learned Michael hurt his leg during the attack on their camp and had to be carried away by Logan. Guess that explains the missing set of footprints. I thought.
I figured it was time I headed back to Maya. With my twisted ankle, it would take at least an extra hour to reach my camp and I don’t want her to wake up and think I left her.
I looked at the group one last time to make sure I remembered their faces and noticed Logan was missing. I thought he just went off into the forest for a bit until I tried to sit up and found the blade of a large knife with a silver handle pointed at my thought.
“Get up,” A male voice said. “Slowly.”
I let out a curse and did as I was told, wincing as I put weight on my injured ankle.
“Who are you, and why are you here?” I noticed the boy speaking to me was Logan. He somehow managed to sneak up on me when I was watching the others.
“Answer me!” Logan yelled, getting frustrated. “And let me see your face, pull down your hood.”
“Why would I do that? You didn’t even say please.” I said in a sarcastic tone.
Now that I got a better look at him I noticed he had a pistol inside his belt and probably more weapons under his long black coat. Under normal circumstances, I would be impressed. It doesn’t hurt that he is cute too. He has midnight black hair and deep brown eyes. He has a strong jawline and soft pink lips. His skin was light and he had a few scars on his arms and chest. He was taller than me by about six inches.
He let out a sarcastic smile flashing his perfectly white teeth. “Well, aren’t you just a smarta-”
“Logan!” Micheal called from the camp. “Where did you go?”
He turned towards the camp and let out a curse. When he turned back to me his facial expression was full of venom.
“Looks like you get off easy this time little girl.” He said with the corner of his mouth turning up in a half-smile. “If I ever find you spying on my group again I will not hesitate to kill you. Do you understand?”
I wanted to say something sarcastic in response but I was too exhausted to think of anything. Instead, I nodded once and he shoved me away from the tree I was hiding behind towards the woods. I landed on my injured ankle and a sharp pain shot up the left side of my body. I fell to the ground and let out a string of curses. When I hit the ground the side of my head landed on a rock.
The next thing I knew a strong hand grabbed me by the arm and yanked me to my feet. As my vision cleared I saw Logan smirking at me.
“Well, that was graceful,” Logan said sarcastically. His eyes went to the wound on my head and I think I saw him flinch.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have pushed me then,” I said matching his sarcastic tone.
“How was I supposed to know you twisted your ankle?” He said with anger rising up in his voice.
Blood started to drip from the top of my head and was streaming down the right side of my face. I let out a curse knowing now I was attracting all vampires in the area who could smell my blood. I noticed Logan was still holding my arm in a tight grip and I yanked my arm away.
“Whatever, just don’t touch me. I’ll leave.” I wanted to get back to Maya as fast as possible and this was not helping.
“Do you need something for that?” He said pointing at my head.
“I don’t want your help.” I snapped at him.
“Fine, then get out of here.” He snapped back at me and I turned to leave.
I felt his eyes on me until I disappeared into the trees. Every step was painful and I was trying not to limp. The blood from my head injury was dripping in my eyes and mouth. I knew I had to do something or I would attract not only class X vampires but any bloodsuckers that happened to be in this forest.
I took off my army-green sweatshirt and held it as hard as I could against the wound on my head. I was left in my stained white tee-shirt and that did little to block out the cold night air.
I didn’t slow down, Maya was still back at camp and I was out longer than I meant to be. I knew she had a weapon to defend herself with but I doubted her ability to use it.
It was about the late morning when I made it back. When I reached my camp I found Maya balled up at the base of a tree, covered in blankets and I thought I heard her crying. She had something in her lap and at first, I couldn’t make out what it was. As I got closer I recognized the idiom she was looking at. It was the journal I found five years ago when I first got separated from my parents.
“What are you doing with that!?” I yelled at her. I was already in a bad mood and finding someone going threw my personal things didn’t help.
“Ella!” The little girl jumped up and ran to me. “What happened to you?”
“Don’t worry about it,” I replied. The bleeding had stopped but I was still covered in blood and my ankle was still injured. “What are you doing going through my things!?”
“I- I thought you left m-me and I-I started looking for you. I found your things and n-noticed this book by your things. I-I was curious so I s-started looking through it. I-I don’t u-understand it though! It’s in a d-different language.”
“What if I told you that book looked blank to me, little pet. I think the reason you can see it is that you are unique.” I remembered a vampire saying those exact words to me five years ago. I looked at Maya and asked,
“That book...It doesn’t look blank to you?”
“Hmm? Why would it?” Maya asked, confused.
“Nothing, never mind.” I felt stupid for asking. “Come on we should get moving.”
I wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest but I needed to get this little girl back to her group before they left that spot again. I did my best to hide my limp from Maya. I don’t think she noticed and we continued on at a steady pace.
Eventually, we came across a river I didn’t notice in the dark. I took that chance to wash the blood off my body and clean my sweatshirt. Maya took the chance to take a bath and clean her clothes.
When we were about to start walking again Maya grabbed my hand. She fell in step beside me and we continued on in silence. We were about twenty minutes into our hike when Maya broke the comfortable silence.
“What was that book?” Maya asked, keeping her eyes on the path in front of us.
“It’s just some old journal I found a while ago,” I answered, not looking at her. “Why?”
“I was just curious. Do you know what language it was in.”
“Unfortunately no, but I want to find out someday.”
We fell back into silence and continued heading north. I was confident we would reach Maya’s group before dusk. I will admit I will be kinda sad to let her go, the last time I traveled with someone was when my parents were still alive. I’ve avoided most people since then because I didn’t want to get attached. In our world people die, there is no way around it and if you get too attached then it hurts when you have to let them go.