Deja Vu

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Chapter 8

He led me up to a door and it looked simple. But, he knocked and waited for a response. “Come in.” A female voice said. Jaise opened the door and motioned for me to go in and then closed it behind him. We entered a huge room with giant bookcases and at the end sitting on an expensive look rug, sat a marble desk with a middle-aged woman with a black streak in her graying red hair. She still looked beautiful, with only a few wrinkles and her smile almost seemed genuine, but I think it’s a little forced.

“Ah, Jaise, it’s good to see you,” She said and gave me a quick glance. “Headmistress Jaina, this Matt.” She stood up and I saw her clothes were expensive. A light silk gown that flowed with her movements. All thanks to my step sister, how I know something about fashion. The gown looked simple, but it looked like a dark night with stars and a bright full moon on the top left side. I saw then the bottom of the dress looked like a reflection and then realized that it was. A reflection on the surface of some lake.

“You like the dress?” She asked. “It’s really pretty, ma’am. I’m sorry. I just seem to have a habit of details.” I told her. She smiled at me, but I saw it didn’t touch her eyes. “Well, why don’t you tell me everything about what has happened,” She said turning to Jaise. “Well, I can’t tell you everything. There were some events that happened to Matt. So, he would have to fill you in.” She didn’t even look at me. “Why don’t you try to tell me everything?” She suggested. He sighed and started from the beginning. Mostly everything he was able to do.

But, when he got to the part where Ashlee and I were in the roller coaster car. He couldn’t fill her in as accurately as I could have. Just thinking about Ashlee made my chest hurt, though. “This is really something for him to tell you. I wasn’t there.” She gave him a look like she didn’t care. She only needed the basics. Then he moved on to the other events and everything that happened. I don’t know how long we sat there, but my legs were cramping up. I just didn’t think it was right to move. Why does she pretend now that I don’t exist? I wondered. “You’re human.” I turned to see Zolem standing there.

I gave him a fearful look. “Oh, don’t worry. They can’t see or hear me. If you talk to me, they won’t hear you either. They’ll just think you’re looking off into space. Which is normal for people to do.” He told me. “Why would is me be the human matter?” I asked and then turned back to them. Neither of them looked at me. “She knows about your destiny. And she doesn’t like it. She wonders how a mere human teenage boy with no royal blood can become one of the most powerful vampires in history. She doesn’t understand it. But, the truth of the matter is, vampires aren’t chosen based on blood.

Or history. They are chosen based on faith, personality, actions that they have done or plan to do. The love they share and show for the people around them.” He explained. “Is that why you’re choosing me? You think I have a lot to offer the world and the people around me?” I asked him. “Oh, I know you do. You may not see it yet. But, you have a lot to offer. But, it would be better if you start believing yourself.” He told me. “I can try. But, it’s not easy.” I said to him. “Oh, I know that. I watched everything shatter and break around me and you. I watched millions of people die. Powerful mages sacrificed and gave their lives for me and my family. You don’t know sacrifice like that. But, you will.”

I took in a deep breath. “I don’t have a family to sacrifice for.” I admitted to him and rested my head against my chest. “Yes, you do. You just don’t know it yet. Oh, and you don’t have to use a favor from Jacob if you don’t want to. I could tell you what you want to know.” I whipped my head towards him. “What?!” I asked loudly. “Ashlee did what she did because she knew something you didn’t. She did everything based on love for you.

Give her a chance. She’s going to be your closest ally and friend in the times to come. Of course, you’ll have your issues and fights. But, that doesn’t mean she won’t do everything she can to protect you and watch out for you. All you have to do is give her the chance. Don’t shut her out now. You’re going to need her before the end.” He said and started to fade away. “Wait,” I told him. He looked at me and smiled. “How am I going to know if she’ll forgive me?” I asked him. He grinned. “Thalia?” He called. A blond haired woman who looked to be in her early forties appeared with smooth skin.

She was on the heavy side. But, she carried herself very well and she radiated power. She only stared at me with a blank look. “Thalia, why don’t you tell him what you told me?” Zolem suggested. She rolled her eyes and said, “Ashlee is tearing herself up for what happened. Personally, I think you handled it poorly. But, I’m not going to judge you completely. She could have talked to you through telepathy or another way. But, she is beating herself up and she wants to do anything she can to make it up to you. Even if it’s some foolish suicide mission!” She said glaring at me.

“I don’t want her to do anything foolish or dangerous,” I told them. “Well, that’s the problem. Love makes you do some stupid things. If she dies, though. Grief-stricken is going to be the least of your worries. I will rain down a lightning storm so fierce that Zeus will cower in the heavens!” She warned and then vanished. “Zeus is real?” I asked. Zolem gave me a droll look. “Is that all you caught out of that conversation?” He demanded. “Oh, of course not. I guess sarcastic questions or answers is how I deal with the fear factor.” I explained.

“Oh, I see. Well, that makes sense. I guess. But, yes. They still exist or they actually do. They just don’t have the power they used to. But, go to her. Go to her and forgive her, because you’re never going to find someone so worthy of your love, time and trust.” He said and then vanished himself. “Matt, are you ready to leave?” Jaise asked me and I turned to him. “Uh, yeah. Is there anything we need here?” I asked. “Jaise, what about the battle with the witches? I heard that two are killed and the council is looking to figure out who to blame. They are thinking some strange human did it.” She said giving me a dark look.

“Oh, if they want someone to blame, they can blame me. I killed Lexx. Jason killed Analyze. But, no human killed them. I can assure you of that.” She grew shocked by the news. “You killed one of the most powerful earth warlocks?” She asked. “Yes, I don’t know how. I guess he wasn’t using his full power. But, yeah. I killed him.” Jaise admitted. “Oh, and I would do it again if I had to. I wouldn’t give a damn. So, maybe you should stop giving humans such a dark look. And have a little more respect for your own blood!” He hissed.

Jaina stood up. “Be careful how you talk to me!” She warned. “What are you going to do? Tell your brother in law?” He demanded. And grabbed my arm to pull me out of the room. I didn’t say anything until we cleared the room and walked over to the tree. “Jaise, you didn’t have to do that over me,” I told him. “After everything, how can you be so calm when people look down on you?” He asked. “I’m not. But, I also don’t see the point in letting them win. After what I’ve done out of no control. I see now that they are going to look down on me and or others.”

“Why should I or they care? Why should it matter if we don’t live up to their expectations? What matters is how we see ourselves. If we have the strength and courage to carry on, then everyone else can bite the dust. If we only care for others and what they have to offer. The people who actually give a damn about us. They are the only ones who should be allowed to judge and speak frankly with us listening. I don’t care about what she has to say. Whether she’s blood or not. I don’t care what that dick from before thinks of me.” I continued explaining all of this and how I was trying to see this cold world. But, no matter how much I explained, it was really hard to believe it. But, hey. I think it’s a psychological exercise. The more you say, eventually, you’ll start to believe it.

“I’ll prove them all wrong if given the chance. And I’ll make them regret their actions if the chance arises. But, I don’t need their approval. I only need yours. And those who mean a damn to me. So, don’t get upset if someone speaks down to me. Defend me if you must because we should stick up for others. But, let me find the strength to fight my own battles. That’s the only way I’m going to grow and become stronger.” I told him and he only looked at me in shock.

“But, I do have to say. I really owe you and appreciate everything you’ve done. It’s because of you, Liam, Julie, and Ashlee that I am where I’m at. You all have shown me a much greater kindness than I would have ever thought to receive in this life. So, thank you.” I said to him. He looked like he was going to cry and then he hugged me tightly. “Jaise, can’t breathe.” I choked. He relaxed his grip but kept hugging me. “You’re welcome Matt.” Jaise let go and turned to face Liam. I gave him a shocked look. “What are you doing here?”

Liam looked at his best friend and said, “I live here.” Julie appeared. “Look, I know what we did was wrong, but let us explain.” Jaise crossed his arms and stood in front of me. “Jaise, it’s okay. Let them talk.” I said and stepped up the front of him. Liam started to walk towards me and before he could reach me, a blast of scorching hot fire shot him across the courtyard. “Jaise!” Julie screamed in anger. “No, it’s alright,” Liam said. Liam stepped up next to Julie and then stopped.

“Look, I know what we did was wrong. Especially me. I didn’t know Ashlee was going to see right through me. But, I didn’t want things to go that way. I had to play the bad guy for a moment.” He said. “Why?” I asked. “It’s hard to explain,” He told me. “Try,” I ordered. He sighed. Julie stepped forward. Jaise tensed. She raised her hands up in surrender. “Okay. We won’t try to approach him. “Look, there’s someone here in this school, who would love to see Matt dead. Someone who doesn’t want him to gain whatever powers he’s going to get.” Jaise looked at me and then at them. “But, no one knows what kind of powers he will get. Even if he’ll get them at all!” Jaise said coldly.

“Oh, he’s going to get some powers. And they are going to be strong. Just not sure which ones they’ll be. But, I’m guessing he does.” Julie said staring at me. I looked at them all in turn. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “Oh?” Liam asked. “Don’t say anything. It isn’t their business. They still aren’t acting under their true intentions. Something else is guiding them. But, soon you will be able to trust them. Find Ashlee. She’ll be able to help you.” I heard Zolem say. “Look guys. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I don’t know what you think you know. But, I don’t know the powers, if any, I’m going to get. That’s impossible. I have to go.” I said.

Then started walking away. Liam appeared in front of me. “Where do you have to go?” He asked kindly, but with an edge to his voice. “That’s not your concern.” I snapped. “Oh, but we want to know what you know. I think it shouldn’t be kept a secret. If a human is getting outside aid from an ancient being. Why should that be secret?” Julie asked behind us. Liam sneered at me. “Ashlee, if you can hear me. Please, help! Jaise and I are outnumbered in the courtyard. Please, if you were serious about doing everything for my own sake, then come help. I’ll let you explain whatever you wish.”

I don’t know if she could hear me. I wasn’t going to wait around to find out. “If you guys are seriously sorry for what you did, then you’ll let us go,” I said kindly. “But, we just want to talk,” Liam said taking a step forward. Jaise tensed. He couldn’t take them both at the same time. One of them would get me. I felt something pop next to me and I saw Liam tense. “So, this isn’t fair. Two vampires versus one? I think it’s time to even the odds.” I heard Ashlee say. Oh, I wish I could give her a major kiss right now. “You are on our side?” Jaise asked quietly.

“Oh, of course. Matt over here called for me a moment ago.” She said. Liam glared at me. “So, this is who you wanted to go see.” He hissed. “Yes, but I didn’t necessarily have to go to her. She could come to me, you know? Like she did.” I told him. “Jaise, you want the friend or the friend’s girl?” Ashlee asked. “Oh, I’ll take him. I don’t know what’s happened here. But, I think he needs an ass kicking.” Jaise said vehemently. “You’ve never been able to physically beat me in a fight.” Liam snarled. “Why don’t we find out now?” He asked. They charged each other. Jaise blocked and countered. Jumped and spun. Fist to palm, foot to foot.

Each group was fighting far too fast for me to catch it all. The ninja moves were awesome, though. Jaise swung and Liam blocked and twisted. Jaise spun around and flipped Liam who anticipated the move and landed on his feet. But, Jaise grabbed hold of his arm tightly and yanked back hard. Liam hissed and tossed his opponent into the air. Jaise flipped around and landed and slid back a foot. One knee on the ground and one hand back for balance. He looked up at his former friend and glared. “I’m not going to let you win.” He warned and then in a blinding flash, was upon Liam again.

Both were blocking, punching, countering and parrying, dodging, and flipping around each other. Ashlee and Julie were much in the same boat. “Bitch, I’m going to rip that blond streak out of your hair. Lightning is supposed to be unpredictable. And you’re as predictable as a street walker.” Ashlee grabbed a hold of Julie’s wrist and snapped. She screamed in pain and brought down her elbow. Julie hit the ground hard. And Ashlee closed in on her. “There’s one thing you forgot about a holy user. We heal faster than most.”

Ashlee came in for the finishing move, but Julie grabbed her by the throat and slammed her into the tree. I saw other vampires walking around and some even watched. But, no one did anything to stop this. It was like they didn’t care. Were fights so common around here? I wondered. After a few more minutes, Jaise got the upper hand and pierced through Liam’s chest, grabbing his heart. I saw that Julie had a hold on Ashlee’s heart. No, no! NO! I wanted to scream. But, I couldn’t seem to find my voice.

Then this young looking man with a gray streak in his golden blond hair appeared next to me. “This has gone on long enough!” He shouted with power in his voice. He raised both hands and Jaise and Julie’s hands were pulled out of their potential victim’s chest, without their hearts. I saw them both struggling, but they couldn’t fight the power of this male vampire. “What is the meaning of this?” He demanded. He looked at all of us. “A human? What are you doing among us?” He demanded of me. “He’s here with me. He is going to take the ritual and see what kind of vampire he becomes.” Jaise explained.

He just gave me a blank look. “I don’t know what happened here, but this is insane. You two, I expected this from.” He said to the girls. “But, Liam? Jaise? You’ve been best friends for what? Ten years? How or why are you two fighting?” He asked. Jaise and Liam only glared at each other in the answer. It felt weird hearing how these twos have been friends that long. “It’s only been about twelve or so,” Liam said finally. The man rolled his eyes. “And why were you two fighting? What about being friends in three thousand years and teaching all the new vampires the ways of keeping a friendship so long?” The man asked. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” Jaise stated with an air of finality.

I saw a man across the courtyard taking a very clear interest into us. I could barely make out what he looked like, but given the fact that he was facing us and coming over, he looked like someone I wouldn’t be soon forgetting. And I could probably point him out. I turned to Jaise, but he wasn’t paying attention. “All of you, just go. Cool down and stay away from each other. We are going to settle this out later. As for you, kid. You’re coming with me.” He said and roughly grabbed my arm. “Hey!” Ashlee and Jaise shouted. The man pulled me along. Ashlee and Jaise tried to come for me, but he blasted them with a giant gust of wind.

He pulled me along and I could feel my wrist start to seriously ache. “You’re hurting me,” I told him. “Good, maybe that will teach you not to get vampires into a fighting frenzy?” He quipped. He pulled me down a long hallway with suits of armor of all kinds. Knights, wizards, demons, mythological creatures, and things I didn’t know about. He squeezed even tighter and turned me down a corridor when this woman with a black streak in her red hair stepped out of a room. “Chris, what’s going on?” He stopped and gripped a little tighter.

“Oh, we have a human among us. But, I was just bringing him for questions. That’s all.” He said. She looked at me. I saw that she was about the same age as the man. Slender, with a small frame and nice, but small curves. “He looks scared.” She noticed. “Oh, he’s nervous, but don’t worry. I got this under control. He squeezed and jolts of pain shot up through my arm. She focused on me and I forced myself not to cry out. “Why don’t I take it from here? You have a lot to do.” She offered. “No, I have this,” He said rudely. “Oh, I insist. I have nothing to do right now.” She insisted. “I said that I have this under control.” He hissed at her.

She didn’t seem concerned with his tone. “Oh, well. If you insist on playing hostile, then I guess I have no choice.” She snapped her fingers and we heard the screeching of metal on metal and the stomping and clanking of metal on the concrete floors. In just a few moments, the suits of armor and statues that we passed were turning the corner from all sides and surrounding us. “What’s the meaning of this?” Chris demanded.

“Oh, I think you know. Humans in our home are to be questioned by me. If you have a problem with it, talk to Jaina. I’m sure she’ll love to hear about how you’re nearly ripping his arm off!” Her tone remained calm, but she lost the politeness it held just moments ago. “You can’t do this,” He said to her. “Oh, I think I can actually. He raised his arm and a gust of wind shot out towards the woman, but the wizard statue jumped in front of her and twirled his staff around so fast that the wind was deflected. “I don’t think you want to fight all of us do you?” She asked with a laugh.

“Why don’t you fight me on your own?” He demanded. “I am. You used magic on me. I used magic in defense. This is just a form of my powers.” She said kindly. “You attacked me first.” He accused. “No, see I brought them out to play in case things got rough. You were the one who initiated the confrontation. Now, I think its best you let the boy go and be on your way.” She said in a tone that left no room for argument. I felt him tighten his hold, but the woman saw it too and grabbed him by the wrist. She squeezed and twisted and he let go gasping for breath.

Then she continued to squeeze and brought him to his knees. “You want me to fight on my own? I can do that. You’re still no match for me.” She said icily. “Kid, why don’t you go wait in my classroom?” She suggested to me and I rushed in holding my arm. The two knights, wizard and two manticore’s followed me in. They went to each corner of the room and stood as still as a statue. I paced the room and I saw another door that led out, so I went over to it. The knight jumped in front of the door.

“I think it would be best if you waited for Amanda,” He said politely. “Am I a prisoner?” I asked. “Not strictly, but we can’t let you leave. It’s the rule. You need to talk to Amanda. She’ll be along shortly.” The knight said in a deep hollow voice. “And you guys are my wardens?” The knight shook his metallic head. “Guardians. She doesn’t trust Chris to not retaliate while she’s gone, so she tasked us with protecting you while she’s making sure no one followed him.”

The manticore in the right corner let out a mighty roar and the wizard tossed it some slabs of meat from his pouch. “How is she able to bring you guys back to life?” I asked the knight. “I can answer that.” The wizard replied. I looked at him. “She has shadow magic. Our souls were trapped in these bodies after we died and a dark force brought us to life. But, Amanda freed our souls and asked if we wanted to remain and protect the school or be freed.”

“And you chose to remain forever?” I asked him. “Not forever. For a time. We are only here for as long as we wish. We can speak to her whenever we wish to be freed. Whether we are actively moving around or not. So, if we ever want to be free and to move on, all we have to do is speak to her.” He explained. “How long have you been here?” I asked. “The knight and I have been here the longest. A little over twenty-five hundred years?” He said unsure looking at the knight. “Sounds about right,” He replied.

“Those two,” the wizard said pointing at the manticore’s, “Have been here for merely a couple hundred years.” The one on the left let out a roar and then I heard, “But, we are her most fierce warriors. We know no fear and won’t back down until we are annihilated.” I smiled. “Well, it sounds like you two would be good to have watched someone’s back in a fight,” I told him. “Does the human mock us?” A female voice asked. “No, he doesn’t mock you. He was giving you a compliment. Stop trying to make humans out as bad people. Not all of them are deserving of death.”

Both mythological beasts gave out another mighty roar and then Amanda came back into the room. “So, he didn’t try to leave?” She asked. “Oh, I walked towards the door, but the knight stopped me,” I told her. She gave me a look of surprise. “Honesty. I like that in, well anyone.” She said. I was still gripping my arm and I forgot about it for a moment. But, then the pain flared up when I tried to move it. She took a step towards me and I stepped back.

“Kid, I’m not going to hurt you. Let me see.” She said. “How do I know you’re not going to hurt me?” I demanded. “Insolent maggot! Show respect!” The knight roared. So much for politeness. “It’s okay. He has the right to be suspicious. I doubt he’s met a lot of good vampires. Even among us. What Chris did was unacceptable. The problem is that Jaina doesn’t seem to give a damn. But, that’s her and she’s not me.” Amanda replied. “What is it you want with me?” I asked suspiciously. “Oh, just for you to answer a few questions. But, first. Let’s take a look at your arm.” I stepped away from her and said, “Not until I see Jaise and Ashlee.”

She raised one eyebrow at me. “You want them here for reassurance?” She asked shrugging. “I don’t have a problem with that,” She told me. She walked over to a crow sitting on a windowsill. Scribbled a quick note and handed it to the bird. The bird flew off and then she sat at her desk. “You really should let me check your arm. I think I heard something break when he was squeezing it.” She told me. I figured she was making small talk, but I wasn’t going to answer her questions until I saw someone I knew and trusted. A knock came on the door and then Ashlee stormed in.

“Well, that was fast,” Amanda said. Ashlee gave her a confused look. “I just sent a message to Jaise and told him to come get you,” She told Ashlee. “I’m here because Matt called for me, Professor Shaline,” Ashlee said. She gave me a strange look. “Interesting. I’ve never heard of a human bonding with a vampire with such a strong form before. You two can directly communicate with each other?” She asked. I looked at Ashlee and she nodded for me to answer the question.

“No, at least not that I’m aware of,” I said. “Oh, good. Finally, some answers.” I didn’t like her tone, even though she wasn’t being hostile or snotty. Ashlee walked over and stood next to me. “What happened to your arm?” She demanded me. “Ah, yes. Would you be willing to convince him to let me heal it?” Ashlee looked at me. “Who did that?” She asked. “Some teacher of air magic. The one who broke up the fight from earlier.”

Rage and lightning flashed in her eyes. “He’s supposed to be on the committee to bring the vampires and the humans together,” She said icily. Another knock came on the door and Jaise walked in. “Oh, good. Ashlee, you’re here. I’ve been trying to find you.” He said. Shaline walked over to a cupboard and pulled out a small vile. “What’s your name kid?” She asked me. “Matt, ma’am.” “Well, manners aren’t out of your reach, I see.”

“Ma’am, he’s one of the most respected humans or people I’ve ever met. He’s just had a trying day and he’s probably still a little shaken.” Ashlee explained. I didn’t say anything. Nothing would excuse my rudeness. “Well, I’m not holding it against him. He should be a little more trusting. I did save him.” She said. “I’m terribly sorry,” I mentioned. “It’s quite alright. Now, I’m going to give you a drop of this potion to put on your arm. It may sting and hurt for a minute. But, it will heal your arm.” She said. Then she walked over to me and placed a single drop on the fracture.

The drop of white liquid spread out and began to work wondrously. It seeped into my skin and mend the bones and put them back together. With a sharp intake of air, my arm was completely healed and I could move it without issues. “Thank you,” I said relieved. She smiled and nodded. “So, what is it you need to talk to him about?” Jaise asked. “Well, there’s a few things I need to know. But, the main one is, are you really destined for some strong powers?” I shrug. “I don’t know for sure. According to the rumors. Yes, and from what I’ve seen, yes. But, I don’t know one hundred percent.” I told her. It was the truth of sorts.

She focused on me for a moment and then nodded. “Very well. Now, why is it the headmaster is so keen on pretending you don’t exist?” She asked me. “Well, maybe she fears that I’m destined for these great powers and will threaten her authority in this school?” I suggested. Jaise and Ashlee gave a quick glance at one another. I caught it, though. “What?” I asked looking at them. “Nothing.” They both said together. “Okay, you’re hiding something from me. What is it?” I asked.

“Um, well…It’s not easy to explain since we don’t have all the answers and it’s not easy to express when we don’t know who’s listening.” Then Ashlee gave Shaline an odd look. She laughed and pointed at the wizard. He bowed and then twirled his iron oak staff above his head. A strange light emanated from the tip and covered the entire room. A translucent sea green light coated the walls, windows, and doors. It looked like it attached itself to them like and reminded me of honeycombs. “Now that the spell is in place. No one can eavesdrop on us.” She said.

“How do we know you’re trustworthy?” Jaise demanded. “She did save me,” I told him. She only stared without emotion at us all. “Jaise, we really don’t have any choice. We can’t think everyone is out to get us.” Ashlee told him. He just shook his head. “It seems like we think someone is good and they turn bad. How are we to know if the people who claim to be allies are indeed allies?” He asked. He had a good point.

I thought Liam and Julie would be on our side, but I was wrong. Something was off, though. Jaise wasn’t nearly as upset as he should have been or I would think him to be for losing his best friend. Or his brother. But, maybe he’s just good at hiding his emotions? Yeah, that has to be it. I thought. “Alright, Matt. You said you would listen to my explanation if I helped you?” She asked me. I nodded. “Well, here it goes. When Liam entered the room that day, I felt something dark within him. Normally only a holy user would be able to sense evil like that in someone. I used telepathy on Julie, but she gave me this snotty cold bitchy response.

“So, naturally I assumed something was wrong with them and when I left the bathroom, after seeing the clothes on the sink and Liam looked pissed and said that you were spying on me. I had to pretend to be pissed at you. I had to fight you, and I had to do what I did. I tried to cast all the protection spells I knew to keep him from listening in, but nothing seemed to be working. So, I waited for the drastic measures and I attacked you and pretended like I was going to kill you.

Only then did he walk away and that’s when I fed you my blood with a potion. Yeah, it’s painful as hell and it doesn’t always work like a white user. But, it mostly gets the job done. I didn’t have a choice. Matt, you have to believe me on that! I didn’t want it to get that far. I was wanting to tell you everything, but I didn’t know how or when. I didn’t have a clue as to how to tell you without the enemy finding out!” She said sobbing. I wanted to go to her, but I didn’t know what good that would do.

Jaise gave me a blank look. “Matt, I really didn’t mean for it to get that bad. But, there’s more to this than you know. I wasn’t ever going to seriously harm you. Had it come to that, I would have found another way to find whoever is behind this. But, I want you to know that your life was never in serious danger! Please, I need you to know!” And she choked on her tears and her breathing was raspy and I couldn’t hold back any longer. I went to her and through my arms around her and held her tightly. “Well, now that we have that cleared up.” Jaise said clearing his throat.

I sat next to her and held her tightly to my side. She rested her head on my chest, sniffling. “I sense that there’s more to it than you having relationship problems,” Shaline commented. “Yes,” Ashlee said steadying her voice and taking a deep breath. “We’ve recently come to learn that someone wants Matt to die. Literally, the two most powerful vampires in the world are out trying to keep him safe. But, there are only two of them and factions of vampires who are either being controlled or paid to end his life. And since he’s human, no offense Matt, he’s really a sitting target.” Jaise told her.

“You think whoever is wanting him dead is at this school?” Ashlee nodded. “Yeah, but we don’t even have a guess as to who it is.” Shaline looked at us all. “Well, I may be able to help you out. But, it won’t be easy. Jaina isn’t on the best of terms with me lately. It seems like she’s changed.” Jaise made a rude sound. “Trust me, I know. And she’s not the only one. You said Professor Grant hurt Matt? He used to be so relaxed and easy going.

But, lately, he’s changed as well. We have to get Matt through the ritual soon. The longer he stays human, the more his life is in danger. At least, as a vampire, he’ll be able to fight and heal if he’s hurt. But, he’s a sitting duck right now.” I couldn’t argue with that. “He may be, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Jaina has to sign off on it. She won’t though. Not currently. We have to figure out who the main threat is and eliminate him.” Shaline told us. “Or her.” Ashlee piped up. I smirked. “Yes, or her.” Jaise looked out the window. “But, how do you propose we do that? It isn’t like we have a map that will help us figure it out.”

“No, but we do have something that could help us,” I said. “What’s that?” Shaline asked. “Me.” They all just stared and gave me a blank look. “I don’t follow.” Jaise said. “Use me as bait. Leave me alone for a while. You all have a school gathering or something don’t you?” I asked. Ashlee’s eyes lit up as she caught on. “I don’t understand.” Jaise admitted. “He wants us to pretend a fight with him and have him wander alone through the castle. Whoever wants him dead is bound to approach him and either try to kill him right then. Or be friends with him and offer to show him around, until they can get him alone.” She explained.

“And you’re excited for this!? What if something happens? He could be dead in seconds and we wouldn’t be able to protect him!” Jaise shouted. Ashlee’s excitement fell. “Of course, the risks are high. And I don’t like it. But, I can’t think of anything else to try.” She said glumly. “They’re right Jaise. This may be the best option we have.” Shaline told him. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. On one hand, I knew they would do everything they could to protect me. But, on the other. It was a small group against thousands of vampires. Some stronger than they were and definitely outnumbered them. I wouldn’t be any help in this fight.

“No! You two may be willing to risk a human’s life and Matt may be willing to risk throwing his life away when there is so much more to live for. But, I don’t want to be a part of a suicide mission! Count me out if this is the plan you’re going to use.” He snapped and crossed his arms. “Jaise, we need you. I can’t do this without you. You’ve protected me all this time. I trust you. I wouldn’t have suggested this plan if I didn’t believe in you. Please, don’t back away now. Help us. Without you, I doubt we can find out who’s after me, so, please. Help?” I asked. He sighed. “I don’t like this Matt. You’ve almost died countless times on this road. And now that we are finally back and you should be safe. You’re still in fucking danger! When will they just leave you alone!?” He shouted and I could see tears building up. He turned away from us all.

I walked over to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Jaise, I don’t know. But, I do know if we don’t find out who’s behind this, then there’s going to be no place for me to be safe. You all can’t protect me all the time. I mean, there’s only what? Two or three of you now? How are you going to protect me against a school of thousands?” I asked. “By having, you join us. Humans aren’t valued as high here as vampires. If you’re one of us, they won’t attack you anymore.” He told me.

“That’s not true. If he becomes the vampire that everyone is afraid he’ll become. Then they will just try harder to end him. We have to stop it one way and for all. This may be the only sure way to get it done. But, he won’t be safe if you back out now.” Shaline told him. He just glared at us. “How can I back out when his life is in danger? I don’t like this. I’ve made that clear. But, this is the best way. I just freaked, because I didn’t like it. So, fine. How do you want to go about achieving this master plan?” He asked.

“Before we set this up. There’s one thing I have to know.” I stated. Ashlee and Jaise looked at me. “What is it?” She asked. “Is Liam and Julie really our enemies right now? Jaise, no offense, but you don’t seem as broken up about them not being here right now. So, I just have to know if they are really enemies at this moment in time, or if there’s some hidden plan you’re not filling me in on. Where they are pretending to fight with you and in reality, they are acting like spies or something?” I asked. Shaline stood up and went to the window.

He flicked his eyes towards her and he had a secret meaning behind them, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Ashlee fixed her fingers through mine and I felt a crumble of paper slip into my hands. I nodded and then she said, “We are fighting right now. I wish we weren’t. But, it can’t be helped. They chose their side. We have ours.” I studied his face for a moment and then I focused on hers. “Why are you looking at me like that?” She asked me. “There’s something you’re holding back,” I said with a quick wink. “I swear, I’m not holding back anything.” I just shook my head. “Alright, well. When should we put this into action?” I asked.

“How about tonight?” Shaline suggested. Ashlee and Jaise looked at each other and nodded. “Alright, you guys will go into the mess hall and sit down to eat like normal. But, I have a plan that I think will cause a fight.” Jaise was skeptical, but he let along with it. “We don’t want to fight for real,” He said. “You’re going to have to sell it. You know as well as I do that vampire are good at sensing lies.” Ashlee just steeled herself and asked, “What is it?” Shaline just looked at her.

“Oh, meet me in front of the mess hall doors right before dinner. I’ll fill you in then.” She said and nodded towards the wizard. He twirled his staff in the opposite direction as the first time and canceled the spell. “You all can leave now.” It wasn’t a suggestion. I followed next to Ashlee, holding the door open for her. “What was that about?” Jaise asked. “I don’t know, but I don’t think we are going to like it,” I said. “Well, we have nothing to do until tonight. Classes won’t resume for us until after we sit down with the professors and headmistress.” Ashlee told Jaise.

“That’s true. So, what are you or we going to do?” He asked. “Anything fun to do around here?” I asked. “Um, yes actually. We could go to the lounge area where students go when they have a free period. Usually, this time, a day it’s quiet. Right after lunch no one has a free period. Oh, damn! Matt, are you hungry?” I kind of gave a shrug. “Starving actually,” I said. “You would shrug and say something really calm as, ‘starving.’” He commented. I smiled.

“What can I say? I like things simple.” I stated. Ashlee laughed. I followed them to a large carpeted area. I looked at my clothes and asked, “Shouldn’t some of us, at least, take a shower? Maybe get a change of clothes?” I asked. Ashlee laughed and looked at Jaise and me. “He’s got a point,” She said. Jaise grinned. “Okay, well, we should go to the store.” I gave him a blank look. “Yes, Matt. We have a store here. Most of us work in the school to make money. Or earn stuff. No one does anything for free.” She explained. “But, I don’t have any money!” I said loudly. Jaise laughed. “You don’t have to worry about it. You’re not one of us yet. Come on. You’ll find some clothes that are your size.” He said.

“I’ll help him out,” Ashlee told me and grabbed my hand. We walked up two flights of stairs and we walked down this large hallway that was just hardwood floor. But, it looked recently polished. Huge paintings hung on the wall and I swear they were watching me. This wasn’t a Harry Potter moment. This was freaking creepy. We passed huge suits of armors and wizard statues. After the time in Shaline’s office, I was never going to look at them the same. We came to the end of the hall and we entered through this glass archway.

Inside was the largest store inside of another building that I’ve ever seen. It was like walking in a mall! “Matt, you look like you’ve never been to a mall or anything before.” I flushed. “Oh, good god,” Ashlee said. “How is that possible?” I just shook my head a little and said, “Hey, don’t blame me! Are we here to go shopping? Or criticize me?” I demanded. They smiled and Ashlee grabbed me by the arm. She pulled me over to a shirt rack. “I think you should try…this one and this one, and oh! Yes, this one as well.” By the time she was done, I had like twelve shirts in my hands. Some plain black, and some had designs or words on them.

She pushed me over to the fitting room and I walked in and closed the door. I set everything down and then reached into the pocket of the shirt I was wearing. I pulled out the note that Ashlee gave me earlier. I had forgotten about it! With my heart racing, I unfolded and it looked like the letter was etched from lightning and I began to read:

“Matt,

There is a lot you don’t know about this world. There’s a lot going on about me that you may not know. But, I want you to know that you mean the world to me. So, I’m going to fill you in on a little secret about this world. Vampires are everywhere. Which I’m assuming you’ve figured out? Well, the thing about some of the teachers is, we don’t know where their loyalties lie. Professor Shaline, would not be the first person I would expect to be on our side. I don’t know if we can trust her. But, I want you to be careful. Please? Please, be careful.

But, the one thing you don’t know about me is that…I have an illness. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s not contagious or anything. I just want that to be known. But, please don’t think less of me. And…Well…The vampires in this world are not what they appear. Those who wish you dead aren’t always necessarily the bad guys.

Sometimes they are just brainwashed and confused. Some are fearing what will happen if you take the path that they’ve been told and taught to fear. It doesn’t matter if you intend to stay on the good side. It doesn’t matter if you are a good person. They fear the unknown. Personally, I’m willing to try something new and to put belief and faith.

I know you’re a kind and good person. I know you’ll put others above yourself. You’ve done it before. I just don’t want anything to come between us. I want you to pretend to be angry with whatever Shaline is going to tell us. We need this to sell. We need this to work. But, I don’t want you angry with m. I don’t want us to be distant. I trust you and I love you. Oh, and about what I said earlier? The illness? It’s some strange vampire disease. Normally we can’t get diseases.

But, this is from ancient times and somehow I contracted it. It may be that I got it with the ancient being. It may be someone gave it to be by messing with shadow magic. I can’t fully say. But, I do know that it’s slowly going to kill me. Think of it like human cancer. Only ten times worse. I just hope we can have a fulfilling life as long as I’m with you.

I don’t want us to miss anything. Except I’m not going to rush you. If it never happens, I will be happy just being with you as long as I can. You’re the only guy who has ever made me feel special. You may not have done anything fancy. But, I have had the most fun with you, without the pressure or fear of you trying to get into my pants. So, yes. I would love to be with you forever.

But, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m a realist. I say things that people need to say whether they want to or not. But, I hope you’re the only one to read this letter. I don’t want people to find out. I figure Julie knows after healing me. I suspected she told you. But, I wanted to be the one to break it to you, just in case. Know that you mean the world to me.

But, I think I’ve gotten off topic long enough. This plan? I am afraid for you and all of us. If we can’t stop it or, at least, slow it down. You’re going to be in danger or worse. I don’t want to die knowing something is going to happen to you. I can’t live what’s left of my life knowing that you’re unsafe. I don’t care what happens to me. I’m going to do anything and everything in my power to make sure you’re safe.

So, please don’t make it harder than it has to be? I’m begging you. Please don’t let my death be meaningless. I want you to become a powerful vampire. I want you to find some nice girl to settle down with. Yes, vampires can have kids. So, promise me you’ll live a full life? Safe, well as safe as possible and you’ll find someone worthy of settling down with? Matt, be realistic.

It’s most likely not going to be with me. You need to find someone worthy of who you are. Don’t settle for just anyone. Don’t settle for second-rate. Find someone who is at your level. You are worth more than you know. So, promise you won’t settle for the third rate? Well, we can discuss more this later. I will fight until my last breath for you. I just want you to know that. I am not giving up on you. Not ever!

Ashlee.

P.s, there’s something that you also need to know about Liam and Julie. They are changed, but they chose it. They became spies for the enemy and have slightly been changed to be accepted. But, there’s one way to bring them back to our side and that’s for this plan to work. So, if you want Jaise to have his brother back. Then we can’t fail. He joined the enemy as a way to stop it. But, I think he’s in too deep. We have to save him and the only way to do that is to succeed.

I read the note two or three times. A knock came on the door. “Matt, are you okay?” Jaise asked. “Uh, yeah! Sorry. I’ll be out in a few. I quickly tried on the shirts. I really liked the one with the wolf on it with blood dripping from his mouth. And the two game of thrones shirts. It showed Ghost and Jon with Ygritte. And there was a couple with a game of thrones logo’s on them. I walked out and met up with Jaise. “Do I want to know?” He asked with a grin. I just gave him a confused look. “I was trying on a few shirts,” I told him. He gave me an odd look.

“You were in there for twenty minutes. It doesn’t take that long for a shirt.” He said. “Well, I wanted to make sure the shirts I was going to pick, was the ones I was going to be happy with. I’ll try to go faster next time.” I said. “Matt, is everything okay?” He asked, grabbing my arm. “Yeah, it’s fine. Sorry.” I told him. He nodded and then Ashlee walked up to us. “So, did you-.” I didn’t let her finish the question. I planted a deep kiss straight on the lips and took all her concentration away and I knew Jaise grew uncomfortable.

We broke apart and both of us were breathing heavily. “What was that for?” She asked sweetly. I slipped the note back into her hand and she gave me a shocked look. “You…?” I nodded. She just shook her head. “We need to find someplace to talk,” I told her quietly. “We will.” Jaise gave us a blank look. “Sorry, Jaise. Now is not the time for questions.”

He just raised his hands. “You’ll fill me in when the time comes. But, I can still be confused can’t I?” He asked. “Yes, of course,” I told him laughing. “Did you choose some shirts?” She asked. “Yeah. I handed her the shirts I wanted to keep. “Okay, now we need to have you try on some pants,” She said. I saw a middle-aged woman with a green streak in her hair approaching us and she looked pissed. “What’s the meaning of this?! Bringing some filthy human into my store!?” She screamed at us.

“I’m sorry ma’am. I just-.” I tried. “Oh, hell no! It’s not trying to speak to me! Gross. I want him out of my store!” She screamed. Vampires in the hallway stopped and turned to stare. Some were even coming in to shop. All were watching us. “He has every right to be here. He’s going to be joining us soon.” Jaise tried to explain politely. “Well, when he’s a vampire, have him come back then. But, I won’t be seen serving humans! It’s gross.” She hissed.

“You do know you were human once right?” We all turned to see a girl who couldn’t have been older than sixteen walks into the store. But, everyone cleared out of her way in a hurry. “Miss Joy. What may I do the honor?” The store owner asked politely. “Answer the question. You do know you were human once too, right?” The store owner gave her a shrill look. “Of course. But, that was a thousand years ago.” She replied with icy politeness.

“Ten thousand or two days. It makes no difference. You were human, we all were. He’s human. We stem from humans. We aren’t much different to them. We function just like them. Yes, sure. We are harder to kill and stronger, with magic. We live forever and need blood. But, we aren’t so different from them as to think of them as a different species.” She said. “But, we are. Otherwise, we would be considered cannibals.” A boy said in the back of the room. The girl sighed.

“I guess that’s one way to look at it. But, we are still not that much different from them. So, how are you to turn one way? His money is just as good as ours. Or whoever is buying his clothes.” She said looking at me. I noticed that she had a white streak in her hair. A white magic user. “We have rules, Miss Jolene.” The store owner tried telling her. “The only rule you have is to sell clothes. Being prejudiced against those who haven’t done us harm is tacky and immature.”

“I have rights to run a place the way I see it.” The owner hissed. “Yes, you do. Jaise, Ashlee. Bring your friend. If you want clothes. I have a store as well. And they won’t be nearly as pricey as these rags.” The store owner was seething as we left. “Jolene, I didn’t know you were for human equal rights and accepting vampires here.” Jaise said to her.

She looked back at him and smiled. “Oh, there’s a lot of things I don’t openly state. But, I figured this was one of those times where I better step up and say something. I could feel his embarrassment and pain. Do you know your friend is suffering more than he lets on?” She asked him. Jaise gave me an appraising look. “No, I didn’t. In what way?” He asked her. She smirked. “Oh, you know it doesn’t work that way. I can’t tell why someone is hurting. It’s just vibes I get from people. His are a lot stronger than normal, though.” She explained. “You want to talk about it?” He asked me. “Nope,” I said flatly. He sighed and shook his head. “Cousins.” Jaise mumbled. She glanced at us. “Oh, wow,” Jolene said.

“Something the matter?” Ashlee asked. “No, I didn’t think he was your cousin, though. It’s no wonder so many people think it’s unfair that he’s destined for something bigger.” She said. “I don’t get it.” Jaise said. “You wouldn’t since you don’t have a large family. They’re families among us who have some of the strongest physically and strongest magical vampires. Kind of like ancient times and their ruling houses. We all have our different icons and standings. But, we are all united under one roof. However, if you look at us all in turn, though. We each have our own groups. Our own houses. Some of us are stronger than others because there are so many people per family. But, Jaise, until recently. You were the only one in your family. Now, you have him.

So, can’t you see why people would not want him to become a vampire if it means gaining superior power?” She asked him. “You’re saying that they fear that even if it’s just the two of us, we will have more power than them and they fear what we’ll do?” He demanded. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” She agreed. “But, it’s not like I have any sway over council or school board!” He argued. “Not yet,” She said simply. He looked at me. “Hey, I didn’t choose this. I don’t want a perilous destiny!” I countered. Jolene laughed. “No one chooses the role they are going to play.” When I didn’t say anything, she turned to me. “You mean you actually got to choose?” She asked wide eyed. “More or less,” I stated.

“Amazing. Most people in this world don’t get to choose. Or if they do, they don’t remember.” She said. “Hey, it’s not a walk in the park. There were some creepy faces and voices telling me that I may not wake up if I take both trials.” I said in defense to her tone. She gave me a weird look but didn’t comment. I thought it was all for the best. We went back down the two flights of steps and out the main door. “Where are we going?” Ashlee asked.

“Oh, my store is in the other end of the castle. I know, it’s a long way off. But, you’ll recognize some of my selections when you see it.” She told us excitedly. “It’s not satanic or anything is it?” I asked. She gave me a droll look. “What? Are you religious?” She wondered. I burst out laughing. “No, I don’t believe in anything. Not even…Well, I guess ghosts I believe in now. As well as zombies. But, dang. I can’t say I don’t believe in gods. I’ve had three talks to me already in the past couple months!” Jaise smirked. “They weren’t the catholic god, so I think you’re still good,” Jolene commented. “No, but they are still gods.” Ashlee chuckled at that. We walked outside through the courtyard and across a smooth cement sidewalk.

Finally, we came to another set of glass doors and walked in. This side of the castle looked different than the first. The walls were darker here and the photos were gothic in nature. The carpets dark or black with darker colors. Browns, dark reds, dull oranges, and purples. But, it felt more inviting on this side than the other. “Why do I feel more at peace on this side than the other side?” I asked aloud. “It might be this is where you belong?

Or it might be that you know what it’s like to be insulted or put down and the people here are always outcasts because of their style and how they dress. So, you feel like you belong and you feel like you can relate.” Jolene said. “But, you’re wearing light colors.” I pointed out. She grinned and clapped her hands together. What I took for a pair of light slacks and blouse turned into a black leather mini skirt, with fishnets and combat boots. With a sleeveless skull tank top and a black leather jacket. Even her hair went from light brown to jet black.

“You were saying?” She asked. I just blinked and Jaise stared wide eyed. Ashlee rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. You don’t think Jolene was going to be wearing some light clothes do you?” Ashlee asked. “How was I to know how she dresses?” I asked defensively. Ashlee laughed. “You’re right. You are new here.” Then she slapped Jaise on the arm playfully. He grinned. “Well, I know it’s hard to imagine ‘little old me’ in this kind of clothes right?” She asked.

“Well, you look nice in anything.” I said and then wished I hadn’t. Ashlee gave me the biggest death glare. Jaise whistled and went on, pretending he didn’t hear anything. Jolene smiled and said, “Thanks. But, I think you should stay with your girlfriend.” Then she picked up the pace a bit. “Ashlee, I wasn’t hitting on her or anything. I was only…” She chuckled and through her arms around my neck. “I know you were only being polite,” she said kissing me. “But, remember to watch what you say. One of these days, I might actually kill you for a comment like that.” She warned me.

I nodded and smiled and gave her the biggest kiss yet. “Hey, kids! This isn’t ‘Make Out Hill,’ so, are you going to stand there like fools, or come look at the clothes?” Jaise asked. Laughing, we broke apart and entered the store. The clothing selection was huge! A lot bigger than the other store. “You seriously don’t mind who buys your clothes?” I asked. She gave me a blank look.

“Do you think I would have made that giant speech and not allow you to buy clothes? Please. The only thing I ask of you is that you take care of them and treat them nicely. I make these clothes all on my own and it isn’t easy to do.” I blinked at her. “You make all of these?” I asked in shock. “Oh, yeah. It took some time to get the ideas right. But, take a look. Try them on. We have a wide selection.” She told me.

I started browsing through the stuff. She has shirts that looked like they were made of silk and denim jeans that felt smooth. All kinds of different designs and logos were etched onto the clothes. I grabbed a few shirts with dark pictures on them. Bats, werewolves, zombies, spiders. All of the shirts seemed light and roomy. I then grabbed a pair of three different types of jeans. I walked towards the dressing room. I was a little nervous, but I closed the door and then looked through the shirts that caught my eye.

The one with the bat looked like an Egyptian fruit bat flying over a dark twisted forest in the moonlight. But, you could hardly feel the stitch work. The colors were almost life like. Then there was another bat shirt. I don’t know what type of bat it was, but it looked large and with black hairy wings and blood dripping from its mouth. It flew around an abandoned house with a moon shining down. The moon looked sinister and there was a couple walking towards the house, looking afraid.

The shirt I chose had a large looking rustic red furred wolf and he was prowling a dark forest. You couldn’t even see the sky. But, the trees reached out to him like they were going to pet him and he seemed to be searching for something. His eyes were glowing a bright blood red. Realistic zombies were walking a gravel road in the bright light of day, with smoke billowing up into the sky and another shirt had a group of zombies walking the streets of a giant city with the sun going down and corpses of victim’s lay torn apart behind them. The one spider shirt I picked was weird.

It seemed that the spider was just resting on the web in the middle of a high branch of a very tall tree. But, it seemed like the spider was looking at me. Like, it was actually real. But, it wasn’t a threatening stare. Just curious. I tried them all on and I liked them all. All fit perfectly. They clung to me, but they still allowed free movements. Then I went to try on the jeans. I took mine off and folded them up and set them down on the bench. I took off the spider shirt and placed it next to my jeans.

Yeah, I don’t know why I was just sitting in my muscle shirt and boxers. But, I couldn’t believe what was really happening to me and around me. This was a lot to take in. I felt like I have handled it pretty well so far. But, things were finally starting to catch up and I was feeling myself start to panic and freak out. A knock came on the door. “Matt, are you okay?” Ashlee asked. “Yeah, I just need a minute.” Dang, my voice was an octave higher than normal.

“Matt?” She asked me. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was finding it hard to breathe! Then she was next to me and holding me tightly. She sat me down on the bench and held me. “Matt, you’re having a panic attack!” She said. I couldn’t really hear her. I tried, but she seemed so far away. “Matt!?” She called and it felt like she was calling me through a tunnel. I took in jagged breaths. “Matt.” She said again and this time, I felt her and I heard her. She pressed her lips to mine and I felt everything. Everything came crashing back.

When she pulled away, I stopped breathing for a moment. “Are you okay now?” She asked in concern. “Y-yeah. I think so. I…Was I having a panic attack?” I asked. She smiled attentively. “Yeah. I think you were.” She told me. I sighed. “Don’t fret. You’ve been through so many near death experiences, and such. I’m surprised it wasn’t worse. You’ve held yourself together pretty well. If you need to freak out, do so. But, let me help if I can.” She told me. I smiled and kissed her.

“If I need someone to freak out in front of, you’ll be the first one I call,” I told her. She laughed lightly and then said, “I’ll let you get back to your clothes.” She said. “Yeah, but it isn’t like you’ve never seen me like this before and felt me up,” I said blushing. “Oh, don’t think I forgot. I have to say, though. But, what I got to feel was nice.” She grinned at me and I felt my heart racing. She vanished and then I went to try on the pants.

All of them fit snugly but left room for comfort. They clung to my waist and seemed to be made for my body type. I noticed that Jolene had other sizes as well. So, anybody could find clothes here. I put my old clothes back on and walked out holding the new clothes. “So, what do you think?” I nearly jumped when Jolene spoke to me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were so jumpy.” She said. She sounded sorry, but my heart was beating too fast for comfort.

Ashlee and Jaise were right next to me in a flash. “What happened?” He demanded. “I scared the crap out of him without meaning to,” Jolene admitted. Ashlee smirked at me. “Well, thankfully you didn’t truly scare the crap out of him.” Jaise laughed. I flushed. “So, do you like the clothes?” She asked. “Yeah. Actually, I like them a lot. I was thinking about getting all of these. But, I don’t have any money.” I said embarrassed. “Oh, don’t worry man. I got this.” Jaise told me. “I can’t let you do that,” I told him.

He rolled his eyes and said, “Sure you can. You’ll pay me back later.” I smiled and thanked him. “How much?” He asked. Jolene looked at the pile and asked, “Is there anything else you want?” I did a double take. “I don’t know,” I said honestly. “Why don’t you look around and when you’re done getting everything you want, come see me.” She said and walked away. “I don’t’ want to buy too much stuff,” I said to them. Ashlee grinned at me.

“You don’t have to worry about the price. Jaise will just have you do little odds and end favors. And well, I can think of some ways for you to pay it back to me.” Jaise coughed and gagged. “Okay, I don’t need to have images of my cousin’s sex life in my mind,” He told us. “We don’t have one,” Ashlee told him. He stared at me with wide eyes. “You aren’t…” He was so surprised that he just walked off. I felt my face heating up. “Matt, you really got to get over this blushing phase.” She told me. “I know, but I can’t help it. It just kind of comes over me.” I admitted.

“I mean, I think it’s cute and everything. But, some people are going to embarrass you if you don’t find a way to control it. I’m only looking out for you. I want you to be happy, and respected.” She said and held me close. “People are going to make fun of me for one thing or another. It shouldn’t matter what it is.” I told her. And I dragged her over to the other side of the store. I found a skull wallet. I don’t mean a wallet with a skull design on it. It really looked like a skull, but it was flat! And a long bone chain was attached to it.

“How did she do all this?” I asked. “I don’t know, but I want her talent,” Ashlee mumbled. I nodded in agreement and then I pulled out my flimsy tattered wallet. “I think it’s time to upgrade,” I said. She eyed my wallet and said, “Where did you get that one?” She asked. “It’s the one my mom gave me when I was a kid,” I explained. “You want to get rid of it?” I shook my head. “No, but I can’t keep using this one forever.”

She nodded and said, “I think it looks really cool. You could always keep the old one as a sentimental item.” I nodded and said, “I will. My mom told me that her father used it and his father before him. We’ve been keeping it restored, but I haven’t had the time to do that or the money.” I said sadly. She looked at it and told me, “Well, maybe you will have a chance soon? You would be helping out around here and money will be given to you in your own account that you can do with as you wish.” She told me. I just stared at her. “Seriously? They give all the students money?” She nodded.

“Teenagers have a limit that they can spend every day, though, at least at first. I have been going to this school for so long now, that I don’t have a limit. You would at first, but only so they can see how reliable you are.” She told me. “I see. Well, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t really buy anything. I don’t really want stuff.” I said. “Oh, trust me. You will. I came from a poor family. It’s nice to have money.” She told me. “I believe that. But, I’ve never worried about money. I’ll probably just use it to buy some minor things I want, and buy stuff for other people who matter to me, you know?”

She smiled and we kept on looking around. I did choose the wallet with the bone chain. I found a heavy onyx chain with a silver and purple bat around a bright full moon. I put it on the pile and walked around until I found Jaise and Jolene. “So, all set?” She asked. I nodded. She smiled and we followed her over to a counter with a cash register on it. I placed it on the counter and she scanned them all out. “I figured you would want a few more shirts and stuff,” She said to me. I just shrug. “Matt, if you would like a few more pairs of clothes, you can go get a few more.” Jaise told me.

“You sure?” He nodded. I jogged over to the clothing rack and grabbed a couple more shirts and then I walked behind a black velvet curtain and found some undershirts and even sealed plastic bags with underwear in them. Well, I did need them didn’t I? I grabbed a couple bags of boxers and some boxer briefs. The bag with undershirts had ten in them, so I didn’t think I needed more than that. At least not at this time. The only thing that seemed to be not made here was the shoes, but that was okay with me. I grabbed a pair of Nikes, a bag of hand knitted socks, and I brought them back to the counter and no one said anything about the other stuff I bought.

Jolene rang it all up and it came to barely one hundred dollars. “Are you serious?” Ashlee asked. “What’s the matter?” Jolene asked in shock. “All of this and it doesn’t even cost one hundred?” She looked at the order and smirked. “You do know that money isn’t really a big deal with me right?” She asked. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but do you make even with these prices?” I asked.

“Actually, yes I do. I buy all my supplies in bulk so I get a steep discount. And before you ask. I get enough business to make buying worth it and I do make a little on the side for my time. But, I love making all these things and I don’t want to start charging for it and then this becomes all about money. At the least, I break even. I have money from past investments that collect interest. So, you don’t have to worry about me.” She said. “I just don’t like buying something for so little when someone put so much time and money into a project,” I told her.

Ashlee beamed at me and Jolene said, “You’re a curious human aren’t you? Very well, you can spend more of your cousin’s money here if you’d like to give a tip” She said with a wink. “This is not normally what I charge people, but here. How about this price?” She suggested. She did something on the cash register and it came up to a little over one fifty. Huh, that still seemed weird. Everywhere I ever went to before, homemade stuff cost almost twice what regular clothes cost because they had to manually stitch everything and it was so time-consuming! I couldn’t believe she was actually charging us store prices instead of what they were worth. Regardless of if money was a concern or a contributing factor.

I smirked. “This is what a normal store would charge for what you’re buying,” She explained. “Well, I think it would still be a bit higher. But, I’ll accept this.” Jaise said. “I’m sorry,” I told him. He laughed at that and said, “This isn’t going to even dent my account. Don’t worry. I’ll collect at some point.” He warned me. I smiled and then thanked Jolene. She put everything in a giant bag and we walked out of the store. “So, you probably want to put them on don’t you?” Ashlee asked. “I do. But, I think a shower is necessary right now.” I stated.

“Yeah. I agree.” Jaise said looking at his own clothes. An older teenage boy with dark brown hair and a dull red streak came up to us. “Ashlee, Headmistress Jaina wants to talk to you.” She just gave him a blank look. “Why?” She asked. The boy glared at her. “I don’t ask questions. I just run messages. If you want to know, ask her.” He snapped. “Hey, watch your tone. It’s not nice to be a dick.” Where did the heck that comes from? I wanted to know.

“Who are you?” The teen snapped. “Someone you don’t need to know. Just back off!” I hissed back. “Look at this. A human? Telling me how to act. That’s funny shit.” I glared at him. He went to strike me, but then he stopped in mid swing and fear covered his face then. “Your eyes! They’re purple?!” He took some steps back and then rushed off. I blinked and then looked at Ashlee. “Sorry,” I mumbled. She laughed and then gave me a big kiss. “Very brave. Kind of stupid. But, that was brave.” She told me. I smirked.

“Yeah, I know it was dumb. But, I didn’t like his tone.” I told her. “She can handle herself.” Jaise told me. “She shouldn’t have to. I’m so tired of being the weak one. The one where the girl has to protect all the time.” She gave me a piercing look. “Do you think it’s your job to do all the protecting?” I shook my head. “No, not all the time. I think it should be equal. Just like both partners compliments each other. Brings strengths to the others weaknesses.”

“Good answer,” She told me. I shrug. “Well, it is how I feel,” I told her. “Jaise, I’m going to take him to my room so he can take a quick shower. Why don’t you meet him there?” She suggested to him. “Where is your room?” He asked. Ashlee cursed. “I forgot you’ve never been there. Only Julie has. Damn it. It’s in the third wing in the lightning tower, third-floor fifth room on the left.” She explained. He nodded. “Be careful, though. The warden in that district is strict on who she lets in. She’s not a fan of anyone without lighting magic. But, I’ll explain the situation. Just say you’re here to collect Matt.” She told him.

“Understood.” He said and he jogged off. “You guys can’t teleport here?” I asked. “No, there’s a spell on the place. It’s annoying sometimes. Especially when we are in a hurry. But, it helps keep vampires from entering the grounds without our permission. It’s one of the reasons why we have the tunnel.” She told me. We walked back the way we had come to the store. We crossed the large courtyard and entered the side of the castle. A part we haven’t entered before.

“So, you live here?” I asked. “Close to it. We are about to enter the Lightning Wing. It houses all the lightning users. Every element has its own wing. A housing for every element.” She explained. “So, what? The different elements don’t hang out with each other?” I wondered. “Oh, of course. And you’ve seen Liam with earth and Julie with holy dating. It is only that some vampires are natural enemies with each other.” I didn’t understand. She must have seen my confusion. “What element would you think fire would be naturally weak against?” She asked.

“I would assume water? Since fire is put out by…water?” I could tell I was wrong by the look she gave me. “No, ice. Ice and Fire are natural enemies. Jaise couldn’t be true friends with ice. Water is mine.” She said. “It’s sounding like a final fantasy moment,” I replied. “Basically, yes. But, unlike final fantasy with lightning and water being opposed. We have more challenges than that.” I thought about it. “So, I am getting fire and ice. Lightning and water. Earth and wind?” She smiled. “The two elements Holy and Shadow, are two of the most revered elements and two of the most unpredictable.”

“It seems like a lot to take in and learn,” I said. “You’ll get the hang of it,” She told me. Finally, we entered under an archway that has three bright golden lightning bolt zigzagging through a cloudy sky. The three lightning bolts were all different shapes. We entered through the doorway and their lights weren’t normal. Instead of lamps and overhead lights. On the wall along the stairs and halls were bright lightning bolts in what appeared to be candle holders.

We climbed up a set of stairs and then she had me entered through a gate off to the side and we climbed that circling set of stairs and I looked out the one window. I could see that we were in a tower now. As we climbed, I could make out the part of the castle we were in. We continued to climb higher and higher and then we stepped out onto a landing and a hallway stretched out before us. We followed it down to a third doorway that had a sign over it. It read, “ the Third Floor.”

“Here we are,” She said. “Does anyone live on this level?” I asked. “Oh, of course. This entire wing has halls with rooms in them. Each tower or hall and the floor have a warden I guess you could say. Someone to watch over since they all have thousands of users who live here. So, one person couldn’t watch out for them all. So, instead of having to worry about thousands, each one only has to watch out for a few hundred. It’s a handful. But, it’s doable. Besides, we pretty much follow the rules.” She told me.

“Well, you have a lot going here. I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Obviously, you’re going to have some issues. But, the only way to make a group work is to get along and follow the rules.” She nodded and we climbed the stairs a long way. “Is this tower separated?” I asked. “Yeah, each floor has only one way in and one way out.” Finally, we reached the top and a stern looking older lady with gray hair and obviously a yellow streak in her hair met us with a fierce look. “You know the rules.” The woman said in a deep voice. “I know, Gretchen. But, he needs a shower and I figured he would be safe is he takes a shower in my room while I go see the headmistress. His cousin, Jaise will be coming for him in a bit. Would you mind letting him in?”

“Jaise is it?” She looked me up and down. “Well, I have to admit. For a human, he’s cute and Jaise is a nice young man.” I blushed a little. She smiled at that. “Well, well. You’ve caught yourself some good blood.” Ashlee just gave her a polite smile. “Well, is it okay? He won’t cause problems and I’ll take full responsibility if he does.” She studied Ashlee for a moment. “You have never offered to take responsibility for anyone before,” Gretchen said. Ashlee smiled at her.

“Go ahead. I don’t think one human could cause some problems. But, he won’t be out and about will he?” She asked. “No, he’ll stay in the room.” She said and gave me a long look. I nodded. “Very well. I’ll see to it that no one goes in.” Gretchen told us. “Thank you,” Ashlee said sincerely. We went to a room on the left and entered. The room was a little messy, but nothing really bad. “So, yeah. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. But, the room isn’t dirty or anything.” She told me. “It’s perfect,” I said. She smirked at me. “Alright, the shower is through the back door. I think I may have some Ax body wash in there.”

I looked at her in confusion. “Um, the last boyfriend showered here every once in a while. He was a lightning user as well. But, we never got serious.” She explained and it started to feel awkward. “Well, I can’t be surprised. It’s hard to imagine you single.” I told her with a grin. She just looked at me and then nodded. “Well, I’ll be back as soon as I can,” She told me and then left, closing the door. I set the bag of clothes down onto the bed and walked into the bathroom.

I turned on the shower and stripped out of my clothes. The shower is attached to a tub and the thing is gigantic. Did every room have one? If so, then they must have used a lot of magic to get this place in functioning order. I looked into the mirror above the sink and couldn’t even believe that was me! I stepped into the water and the warm water felt good running down my shoulders and back. The shower head is detachable. So, I pulled it down and started soaking my hair. I didn’t even realize how dirty I was. I rinsed off my body and saw the dirty water running towards the drain.

She didn’t have any Ax body wash, but that didn’t matter. She had dial body wash. And the only shampoo is Pantene. It must be a new kind because it is a kiwi strawberry scent. Well, it was better than nothing. I used it all and I don’t know how much time passed, but by the time I stepped out, the entire bathroom was steamed up. I grabbed a towel off the shelf and dried myself fairly well. My hair dripped onto my shoulders, and I rubbed it thoroughly.

I started to get dressed and I found a stick of deodorant behind the mirror. The smell was not bad. Axe Harmony. I wrapped the towel around my waist and then I walked into the bedroom again to go through the clothes. I opened up the boxers and socks. I tossed the towel on the bed and pulled up the underwear. Then I opened up the undershirts and slipped a black one over my head. Then I pulled the spider shirt on and grabbed a pair of dark blue jeans. I removed the tags and pulled them up. They fit so well, that I didn’t even need to grab the belt, but I did just in case. I put on the socks and then went through my old wallet and put everything in the new wallet.

I hooked the chain to my belt loop and put everything I wasn’t using in the bag. “So, you think you could be a vampire and win Ashlee over do you?” I turned around to see a boy with a yellow streak standing in the doorway. “Who are you?” I asked. “Oh, I’m the ex. And I’m going to have to talk to her about her taste in men. I mean, look at you, a human?” He just shook his head. “I don’t want any trouble. But, how did you get in here?” I asked.

“Oh, you mean because of Gretchen? Well, she was removed from her seat and we know how to unlock the doors from her station. Every room has a magical lockdown button. This way they can control who leaves and who doesn’t. No one could enter as long as this room was under lockdown. So, we ‘removed’ Gretchen and unlocked it ourselves. Now, I’m going to rip out your liver and feed it to you.” He threatened. “I don’t even know you. Why would you do that?” I asked him. “Well, you’re right. You don’t know me. But, I’m not going to be okay with someone taking my girlfriend.” I glared at him. “Didn’t you say you broke up?”

He glared at me. “Well, because of you!” He hissed. “I am starting to see why she dumped you. You’re too clingy!” I really needed to learn how to control my tongue. He sent a small jolt of lightning out and it just knocked me back a few steps. “Oh, I’m going to have so much fun tormenting you. Ashlee won’t be back anytime soon. Oh, and your cousin is a little tied up. No one else gives a damn about you. You’re going to die. And it’s going to be a slow one.” The boy said. I just did the only thing I could. I just looked at him. I tried to reach for any of the others that used to help me.

But, nothing worked. I couldn’t feel Jacob’s presence and I couldn’t feel Zolem’s, Harkel’s, or Jason’s. I really didn’t get that. I’ve never been so cut off from them. I guess I was really going to die. He sent out another bolt of lightning and this one stung! It hit me and I fell to the floor and rolled onto my side coughing and gasping for breath. “Oh, this is fun!” He exclaimed. I climbed to my feet and he launched another bolt of lightning at me. It slammed into my chest and then he lifted me and slammed me into the wall.

“You’ve seen Star Wars I’m assuming? Well, I’m going to make that final scene a masterpiece.” He sneered. I screamed in pain and I could feel tears and I even tasted blood in the back of my mouth. If the lightning itself didn’t kill me, it surely was going to make my heart give out. I could feel it beating like a jackrabbit. “You aren’t going to die on me yet,” He said. I could barely get a breath. Then the lighting went away and I fell to the floor coughing and wheezing, clutching my side.

Through teary, blurry eyes, I saw someone walk over and stand in front of me. “You think this is going to work?” The voice sounded familiar, but my ears were popping too loud and ringing for me to know who it was. “Weren’t you trying to kill him earlier?” The boy snapped. “Yes, but who do you think gave you the orders? I want to be the one to kill him. You may go.” I soon got my vision back and I saw…a young looking man with spiked black hair and a bright diamond blue streak.

“Matt, you’ve been busy.” I choked out, “Who are you?” He laughed. “Oh, the last person you’re ever going to see.” He picked me up by the throat and slammed me against the wall. “I should have snapped your neck the second you walked into this school. Humans shouldn’t be allowed in!” He hissed in my face. He started squeezing and I clawed and kicked at him. But, I was in no way, going to be able to break his grip.

Everything got blurry and I felt my strength fading. I heard the bone connecting to my spine break and the cartilage in the front snap. I lost all the strength I had. I just was held there by the man and I heard a really pissed off scream, but after that, everything went black. I felt myself floating and I don’t know where I was going. I just knew I was at peace and nothing could hurt me here. I really thought I would end up in Zolem’s plane, but I guess that wasn’t happening right now. Maybe he was cut off from us? Or maybe something was blocking him? Either way, he wasn’t helping me.

Then I snapped back towards my body and I jerked up, gasping for breath. “Hey, are you okay?” My vision was a little blurry, but I recognized Liam’s voice. I jumped out of bed and stumbled over to the corner. “What are you doing here?” I gasped. Fear completely took me. “Hey, we aren’t going to hurt you.” He said and stood up to come closer to me. I just tried to huddle in the corner as best I could. “Matt, why are you acting like that? I’m not going to hurt you.” He said calmly. I just stayed as far away as I could and when he tried to approach me, I just closed in and he stopped. He gave me a confused and hurt look. “I really don’t know what’s wrong,” He said exasperatedly.

I just looked at him in fear and panic. What happened to me? It’s something I can’t remember. But, after knowing what he did, I just lost in and freaked out. “He’s scared of us and after what we did to him, I don’t blame him.” I heard Julie’s voice. That made me panic more. “What do you mean?” Liam asked. “We turned to the enemy. We joined him to find him and then almost killed Matt. Do you think he’s going to be okay with that? Especially since he didn’t know anything about this plan until the end?” She asked him.

He didn’t seem to know what she was talking about. “You seriously don’t remember do you, babe?” She asked. He shook his head. “Well, Ashlee asked us to join a group of human haters to bring out the bad guys. But, somehow we were corrupted and almost killed him and Jaise was going to kill you, and I was going to kill Ashlee. But, we were stopped and it got even worse than that. But, we were cured by Professor Shaline. Now, we are back to normal. But, I don’t think the others are going to be as appreciative of our dark side visit as you want them to be.”

Liam clearly looked confused. “Oh, come on. You seriously can’t be that clueless.” He just shook his head. Then her eyes grew wide. “It must be the elements we have. I remember because I’m supposed to be holy. Light magic and I went dark. But, earth magic can be good or evil.” I huddled tighter in the corner. I just didn’t want them anywhere near me. “Matt, please. I am not going to hurt you.” He said and he approached me. He almost got near me, when a blast of fire and lightning struck him in the chest and sent him flying across the room. Julie jumped in front of him protectively and then Ashlee and Jaise rushed into the room.

“Matt, are you okay?!” She asked, kneeling in front of me. “Yeah, I think so,” I mumbled quietly. “We aren’t hurting him. We actually saved his life!” Julie hissed. Jaise glared and fire danced all around him. “If this is some kind of joke?” He threatened. “No, Jaise! We aren’t with the bad guy.” Julie said pointing. My cousin and Ashlee followed her finger and gasped in shock. A young looking man stood pressed in a corner entrapped in a white glowing bubble, surrounded by thick vines. He looked to be screaming, but the spell around him blocked out any sound.

“That’s him?” Jaise asked suspiciously. “Yes. He’s the one who hired Brandon to track him down, which then he immediately contacted this man. But, I don’t know who he is. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t have magic. Or he never tried to use it on us.” Julie explained. Ashlee helped me to my feet. “Are you sure you’re okay?” She asked me. “Yeah, I guess they did save me. But, I don’t know why.” I said staring at them. Liam gave me a hurt look. “Dude, we are friends. Don’t you remember?” Liam asked.

“I remember we used to be. And then you tried to have me killed. You ended up working for the bad guy.” I told him and then I walked out of the room. “Jaise?” Ashlee asked. “I got this. You get him out of here.” Then he tossed her a bag and we left the room. “What’s he going to do?” I asked. “I don’t know. But, whatever it is, you don’t have to worry about it. You’re safe.” She told me. I really hoped she was right. I was tired of fighting for my life and always worried when my last breath was going to be and I was tired of everyone putting their lives on the line for me.

“Stop!” I froze and Ashlee turned around. Headmistress Jaina was approaching us. “Yes, ma’am?” Ashlee asked with icy kindness. “I am afraid that Matt has been seen stealing from us,” She said coldly. I just gave her a blank look. Was this even happening? I wondered. “That’s impossible. He was with us the entire time.” Ashlee said. “Oh? So, you didn’t leave him in your room for a bit?” She asked with a sneer on her face. “Oh, well yeah. But, he didn’t take anything from me.” Ashlee explained.

“No, but Marcy had some arm bracelets reported missing moments after you all left the shop. She said that he was eyeballing the jewelry.” Ashlee gave me a weird look. “Yeah. I don’t take him for an accessory kind of man.” She countered. “Yet, you don’t know him, do you?” She asked. “I know him well enough.” Jaina glared at me. “Well, it’s not up to you to prove his innocence or not. He’s to be taken to jail until we can sort this out! You know the rules. You bring a human into here and they can and will be tried like one of us.” Ashlee paled.

“You can’t do that. That rule was banned centuries ago!” Ashlee said, her voice shaking. I knew I wasn’t going to like this. Jaina laughed wickedly. “Please, you little wench. I run this school. So, I can make the rules!” Jaina whistled so shrill and loud that it hurt my ears. I put my hands to them and when I stood up straight, I found my hands were covered in a little blood. Two large vampires dressed in all black, with a long black leather trench coat and a black top hat appeared. “Take him to the cells. A human was caught stealing.” They both gave me a blank look. They didn’t care one way or the other what happened to me.

“You can’t do this!” Ashlee shouted. “Oh, but I can. I told you. I make the rules.” They grabbed me by the arm and pushed me forward. I tried to struggle, but they were far too strong, and obviously were used to dealing with vampires, so it didn’t take much to restrain me. The one on my right even started to grip my arm tightly and I felt the bones strain under the pressure. “Okay! I’ll move!” I cry out. “What the flying fuck!?” Jaise hissed behind me.

“He’s being arrested under our laws for stealing.” I heard Ashlee tell him before being pulled around a corner to where I couldn’t hear them anymore. “Where are we going exactly?” I asked. But, if they were paying attention or heard me, they didn’t acknowledge me. I guess talking to a human was beneath them. Or they just didn’t talk to prisoners. Either way, I wasn’t going to get anything out of them. They led me down a set of stairs and we continued down for a while and across a couple hallways, and down some more stairs until we made it back to the courtyard.

Then we crossed it until we made it to the center of the castle, and they led me in. The vampires all cleared out of the way. I couldn’t tell who was a student and who was a teacher. We walked into the building and straight ahead around the large staircase leading up to the second floor, we arrived at a rusty gate. The one on the left opened it with a key and we walked down into a dark musty cellar. We continued down three more flights of stairs. I started to shiver violently. But, my guards didn’t seem to know or care. We went down one more level and then down a very dark hallway.

I couldn’t see where we were going, but they didn’t have any problems. I felt ahead and I felt a wall, and then I heard the sound of a gate being opened. One of them pushed me in and I stumbled forward. I braced myself against the wall and turned around. I couldn’t see anything and then the gate slammed shut and I heard it lock. I heard footsteps receding and I guess this was it. I was left alone in the coldest level of this castle. They wouldn’t have to kill me. I would freeze to death. I wonder if the others know where I’m at. Or if anyone even will worry about me.

I don’t like the look Ashlee had about the laws. Does that mean I’m going to be tortured like a vampire? I wouldn’t be able to heal like them. I wouldn’t be able to fight or defend myself. So, whether this was an execution or a trial. The end result will be the same. I was going to die, and there was nothing anyone would be able to do about it.

But, I guess this is what they wanted all along. Maybe Liam and Julie didn’t get the bad guy after all? Maybe they were still working for them? I didn’t want to believe that. But, I don’t see any other option. I huddled in a corner, feeling goosebumps up and down my arm. My teeth chattering and I felt so cold. I don’t know how long I could last down here. I don’t know how vampires survived it. But, I couldn’t.

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