"Wait a minute," Amelia said waving her hands around like she was trying to translate what she just heard, "Did you say 'Romania'? The vampire dude?"
"Hai," Kibu nodded.
"He's not a vampire," Francis said. Amelia raised an eyebrow.
"He's not? How do you explain that he has to make it rain wherever he goes? His skin still sizzles in the sunlight."
"Alright, so he has some genetics of a vampire. But he's still a normal guy like the rest of us."
"I think we have a more troubling situation to worry about," Nancy said.
"She's right. ME! Romania's coming after me! Shouldn't we be worried about that, and not the fact that he's a vampire?!" Elizabeth said. She was beginning to panic and she gripped her hair.
"If he wants you," Roma said, standing tall, "He'll have to go through me first." Elizabeth smiled, but raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, really? Then he'll have to kill you first and then I won't have anyone to protect me," she crossed her arms. Roma looked a bit worried. Ita nodded.
"She has a point, Roma. If you want to protect her, then you'll have to be prepared to lay down your life for her."
"Hey, she's cute. But she's still British," Roma said as he began to step away. Elizabeth gasped as if she has just be insulted.
"Excuse me, but maybe I can't help that?!"
"Why do you need our protection anyway? You can just use magic, can't you?"
"I wasn't-I don't have that ability, and you know it! Basically, I'm useless right now."
"Have you ever tried?" Ita asked nicely. Elizabeth looked away and rubbed her arm.
"Well, yes. But every time I tried, it never worked. I'm starting to think that I don't have the potential to do it." She looked a bit saddened and Ita put a hand on her shoulder.
"Maybe we could find you a teacher?"
"Believe me, I've tried asking my father but he always said no."
"I'm thinking that he protecting you, da?" Ivan said.
"From what? Haven't any of you had that feeling inside of you that you could do something, but then you find out that you can't?"
"I think we've all felt that," May said, a sadness reflecting in her eyes, "I have."
"Perhaps it would be best to tell each other our stories of how ve came into this world?" Nancy suggested, "To get to know each other more?"
"I guess that would be okay," May said. "Who wants to go first?" Nobody answered. May shrugged. "I guess we have to start somewhere. Well, you all know that in my country a boy is more respected than a girl. If your first and only child is a boy, then the sire name can be carried on. But if you're a girl, you are to marry someone that your father chooses or you could be sold to someone. So when my father wanted a child, he wanted a boy so his name could be carried on. He was disappointed when I was born. He claims that he's been cursed, but I believe he loves me. He's changed since Yao came into our lives."
"What about your mother?" Amelia asked.
"She died shortly after my birth," May said.
"Oh, sounds like me."
"Sounds like most of us, I guess?" Nancy said.
"What about you, Nancy?" Ita asked. Nancy blushed.
"Do you really want to know?" No one seemed to object. Nancy looked a bit uncomfortable and she twitted with her fingers.
"Well, my motherr vas a nurse. I was born on the battlefield. She was treating the injured, even in pregnancy she didn't leave anyone. Then one day I made the crazy idea to come into the world. She too died shortly after my birth, but that vas because of the enemy." She noticed that everyone was staring at her, eyes wide as plates.
"What? I know, it's crazy. But I'm here," she said, with a shrug and chuckle.
"Wow, sounds scary!" Ita said.
"I know, it's strange. Anyway, what about you and Roma?"
"Easy; Mother fell in love with both our fathers, so here we are," Roma said. Ivan frowned.
"That not telling much."
"Ever heard of 'personal life'?"
"Roma, perhaps I should tell them?" Ita suggested.
"None of their business, but if you want." Roma shrugged.
"Well, when my father married our mother she was pregnant with Roma. My father didn't know of this until after their marriage, but he wanted to be there for him like Uncle Romano would be. But their marriage did not set well with my Uncle, so after Roma was born he took him away to live with him. Then our mother had me and everything's been bad with our families thereafter." Ita said.
"Sounds a bit sad," Kibu said. Ita nodded.
"Yeah, a little."
"Kibu tell story now," May said. Kibu looked thoughtful, but unsure.
"Well, not much can be said. My father meet my mother and it just worked for them. But my mother die of sickness when I was young. I do not remember her much. But the more I watch my father become stronger, it makes me want to protect the country with him more."
"And some day you will, Kibu!" Ita said. Kibu smiled.
"Hai, thank you." he looked over at Francis.
"Who? Moi?" he asked.
"Go ahead, Francis," Elizabeth nodded.
"Youngest of seven children. Three wives, all are alive but all great chefs. Even the older six, I'm the oddball. I'm trying to find a different talent."
"But with a little more practice, I know you can do it!" Elizabeth said, taking her hands into his. She blushed after a few seconds and turned away.
"None of you saw anything!" Everyone was silent for that awkward moment, until Ivan spoke.
"Oookay, well my mother died of sickness too. I was two years of age, and I do not remember her much either. She loved my father and he loved her too. Not once has my father hurt me or my mother."
"Wow, that sounds a bit unexpected," Amelia said, "I didn't think that your father had...feelings."
"Yes, he hides it most of the time. But it's there," Ivan nodded. Amelia looked at Elizabeth.
"You or me, dudet?"
"You go first," Elizabeth said.
"Okay, but you guys have to promise not to laugh," Amelia blushed.
"Why would we laugh about you?" Nancy asked. Amelia looked at each of her friends.
"My mom was...Amelia Earhart."
"What?! But that would mean that you're older than any of us!" Elizabeth said.
"Yeah, I know. After she gave birth to me, she planned to cross the ocean. Of course, you all know what happened to her. No one knows what happened. Not even my dad. It's kind of sad, but I'm alright."
"I'm so sorry," Ita said.
"But I thought that she was just his hero. I never thought that it was like that," Nancy said.
"I know. No one expected it," Amelia nodded.
"I never could have guessed," Elizabeth said.
"Elizabeth turn now," Ivan said.
"My father told me that my mother died. He doesn't like to talk about it. I can't help but feel as if he's hiding something from me, but he won't tell me."
"Maybe he's protecting you from something?" May said.
"But what? I don't understand it."
"Maybe you should ask him?" Amelia suggested, "It's okay to ask things. I doubt your dad would be angry."
"Maybe," Elizabeth said, but she didn't look confident, "We should get some sleep." No one objected. Elizabeth lied down, but she didn't fall asleep unlike the rest of the group. She keep thinking about what Amelia suggested. She did have a point, she'll never know until she asks. She sighed, but nodded. She'll ask her father.
It wasn't until later that night when the children were rudely awoken by the sound of roaring thunder and droplets of rain began to fall to their faces.
"Everybody, take cover under the trees!" May shouted. Everyone jumped to their feet and ran to the shelter of the trees. Everyone but Elizabeth, who stood in the rain with her tongue out; catching raindrops and sighing happily. Amelia stared at her with her mouth agape.
"What's wrong with you?! You're going to get soaked. It won't be my fault if you catch a cold!"
"Come on, Amelia," Elizabeth chuckled as she turned to her friends, "We all could use a shower. We stink and haven't had a bath in a good, long while."
"It's your skin. If you want to end up smelling like fish for the rest of the night," Amelia said, shaking her head, "I think I'll stick to smelling like sweat."
Ivan stuck his hand out and let the rain patter on his palm. He smiled.
"It does feeling good. I think it being good idea to enjoy rain." Amelia shrugged.
"Your body, man," she said shrugging in hopelessness. But what really irked her was that EVERYONE else decided to walk out in the rain too! She could only stare in shock as her friends joined Elizabeth. Has the whole team gone mad?
"You crazy Europeans and Asians! The lot of you!" She said, crossing her arms. Kibu smiled as he stepped out into the rain.
"Come on, Amelia. It's relaxing, and I think you would enjoy it." Amelia stared out to her friends, who were laughing and had their arms out as the rain fell upon them. By then, the rain was really pouring and the smell of the ocean was in the air. Amelia reluctantly followed Kibu out and, at first, stood still and cringed. She didn't like getting wet, only in showers. Even though she wouldn't admit it at first, it did feel nice and she began to loosen up. She finally relaxed her shoulders and looked up into the pouring sky with a smile. Soon, she was laughing along with her friends. Everything seemed perfect for a moment, until a disturbing growl erupted from the darkness of the jungle. Amelia screamed and her friends looked just as frightened as her.
"What was that?" Ita and Roma said, hiding behind Nancy.
"Something out there," Ivan said.
"You think?" Francis said. They heard the bushes rustling and in the light of lightning, they moved. Amelia began to walk backward.
"Something's defiantly out there!" The growling also sounded like...breathing. Then...chuckling? Someone or something was chuckling like it was pleasurable seeing children look frightened. When lightning flashed again, they were sure they saw two red eyes staring at them, but was quickly gone as quickly as they appeared. Elizabeth gasped and stepped back.
"Romania!" She screamed, "It's Romania!"
"So he decided to show his face, huh?" Amelia grinned as she cracked her knuckles, "I've been waiting for this!"
"Someone should protect Elizabeth," May said. Francis smiled and stepped forward.
"I'll gladly risk my life for her," he said solemnly. Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, right. Like I need a Frenchman to protect me," she said, crossing her arms. May shrugged.
"Unless you want one of the Italians to look after you?"
"I'll stick with Francis," Elizabeth quickly spoke up. She turned a glare at Francis, "Just don't try anything, Playboy!"
"Would I do that?" Francis said with a smile.
"Yes, you would!"
"Come on, Romania!" Amelia called out to the jungle, "Get your butt out here!"
"Maybe not encouraging?" Ivan suggested. May then had an Idea and she smirked.
"Hey, Romania! Your mother smell like spoiled onions!" Everyone stared at her in shock. Amelia smiled.
"I no joke! I want him to come out."
"I see! So we can get him, right?" Ita asked.
"Part of reason. Notice how it has stopped raining?" She looked up at the sky. It has stopped raining.
"Okay, so?" Francis said.
"Moon come out!" May exclaimed. She was hoping that her friends would follow her idea, but they still looked clueless.
"Moonlight comes from sun." Elizabeth looked up at the moon and soon she smiled.
"Ah, I see your point! Good thinking, May!" Everyone but Amelia seemed to catch on.
"What? What?! What's got everyone excited about?!"
"The moon cannot shine without rays of light from sun. When the sun set, moon takes light from sun to shine bright at night. If we can get Romania into the light of moon, it might give us advantage," May explained. Amelia began to smile.
"That's actually pretty smart! That must be why you're taunting him! I've got a great one! Watch this!" She stepped towards the jungle and grinned.
"Hey, Romania!" She turned her back to the jungle and began to shake her butt, "Nah, nah, nah,nah,nah,nah!" Francis, May, Ivan, Nancy, and the Italian brothers tried to stifle their laugh. Kibu looked a bit shocked by Amelia's behavior.
"Must be a Westerner thing," he concluded to himself. Elizabeth covered her mouth as if trying not to laugh herself, but then she grew serious.
"That's not very lady-like," she said, crossing her arms.
"Duh, that's the point of taunting!" Amelia said. Her plan must have worked because Romania gave an angry shout and ran out of the safety of the jungle. But as he stepped into the light of the moon, nothing happened.
"And...Sizzle!" Amelia said, as if giving the moon some kind of cue. "Sizzle!" Romania still had an angry look and continued in Amelia's direction. Everyone was shocked!
"Must not being enough sunlight," Ivan said.
"No!" May said, "I was sure that would work!"
"Hey, man, look. I was just joking! I didn't really mean to make you angry! If you were enjoying the jungle, I didn't mean to make you leave your happy place! If you're happy in the jungle, that's just fine!" Amelia said, baking away and sweat falling from her face.
"Out of my way," he glared, "It's not you I want."
"Uh, yeah, I've realized that. If it was, you've would have killed me already." Romania looked at each of the children as if scanning them. He smiled as his eyes meet Elizabeth.
"Hello, darling!" he smiled as he turned to her direction. Francis stood in front of Elizabeth and glared at Romania. Romania frowned.
"Out of my way, boy!" he warned. Francis swallowed, but didn't move.
"You have to kill me first!" he said. Then he grew a bit worried, "Well, maybe not kill me, but you know what I mean!"
Romania smirked and took a step towards them. Kibu thought fast and stood beside Francis, blade drawn.
"Hai, I as well."
"Kibu," Francis seemed a bit moved.
"Heads up!" cried Amelia. By the time everyone could see what she was warning them about, a torch struck Romania on the arm and he hissed and screamed out in pain. He gave each a glare and ran back into the jungle and disappeared...for the moment anyway.
"Tell Yao we send our love!" Amelia called after him.
"How did you light that torch?" May asked.
"Thank Nancy. It was her idea. While he was distracted by Kibu, Francis, and Elizabeth, me and Nancy found some sticks at our feet and rubbed them together to make fire." The she looked up at the sky and started to say in some powerful voice, "We have made FIRE!"
"You get that from American movie, aru!" May said, but she still smiled.
"At least we're all still safe," Kibu nodded.
"Yeah, but that won't keep Romania at bay for long. He'll come back once he gets his wits together," Nancy said.
"Yeah, you're probably right. It may have not been sunlight, but it still did the trick. For now anyway."
"Francis, Kibu?" Elizabeth said, blushing slightly. "Thank you."
"You are welcome, Elizabeth, "Kibu nodded, "You are our friend. It what friends do."
"Kiss of gratitude?" Francis asked. That ruined the Elizabeth's good mood.
"No! I don't kiss toads!" she stomped away. Francis sighed and shook his head.
"It was still a good dream while it lasted."
When the excitement began to die down some, May decided that one of them should take turns keeping an eye out for Romania while the rest of the party slept. Amelia decided to take the first watch. It was quiet until Elizabeth sat up, eyes wide with sock. Amelia walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you okay? Did you have a bad dream or something?" Elizabeth seemed to have ignored her.
"Father? Father, is that you?!" she asked.
"'Father'? No, it's me. Amelia. Your friend. Best buddy. Your pal."
"Father!" she shouted, looking out to the jungle. Again, ignoring Amelia it seemed. Amelia raised an eyebrow. This was weird. She was standing right in front of her and Elizabeth was acting like she wasn't there. It didn't even seem like she heard her either. Everyone began to wake up from Elizabeth's outburst.
Elizabeth stood up and started walking towards the jungle. Amelia stood in front of her.
"Stop! Wait a minute! Romania's still out there! You go in there alone, you'll end up getting killed!"
"Father!" She pushed by Amelia and tried running into the jungle, but Amelia pulled her down.
"Your Dad's not here! It's not him! Romania's playing with your mind!" Elizabeth kicked and struggled and tried getting away from Amelia.
"Elizabeth, get a hold of yourself!" May told her.
"We can't let her go out there alone!" Nancy said, standing up. As she tried to aid Amelia, Elizabeth bit Amelia's hand and broke free.
"I have to go to him! He's in trouble! He needs my help!" She ran into the forest.
"Elizabeth!" Everyone screamed and ran after her into the jungle.
Elizabeth dash through the jungle in search for her father. His voice rang in her ears and she looked all around, hoping to find any trace of him.
"Elizabeth! Help me, please! Romania's here! I'm trapped! Help!" her father's voice pleaded.
"Father! I'm coming! Where are you?!" she screamed. She heard him cry out in pain. It sounded like the pain of being stabbed in the shoulder. She ran blindly deeper into the jungle.
"Father! No! I'm coming! Please, hold on!" She was too involved in looking for her father that she didn't watch where she was going. She tripped over a tree root and stumbled to the ground, gasping as the wind was knocked out of her. She struggled to get up but she couldn't stand. Elizabeth realized she had twisted her ankle some because it hurt to move it.
"Elizabeth?" came her father's voice. Elizabeth looked up and her hands flew to her mouth in horror.
Her father was sitting beside the tree, covered in blood and a sword sticking out of his left shoulder.
"Father!" she crawled over to her father. She lifted his head to her shoulder. She began to tear up.
"Please stay with me! Don't you leave me!" She buried her face to his chest and began to cry. Then she heard a chuckle. She lifted her head.
"You are such a gullible fool, Elizabeth," he said. Elizabeth was confused.
"What? What are you talking about? You wanted me to come!"
"Didn't think that this was a trick, did you? You'd do anything to help your father; Even come to me without a second thought," he lifted his eyes to hers and she screamed and quickly dragged herself away. Her father's eyes were glowing bright red.
"What do you think, Elizabeth? I have his voice memorized pretty well, don't you think?" He said as he stood up. He took out the sword from his shoulder, "Led you right to me. Like a dog follows its master."
"You dastard! What have you done to my father?!" She demanded, clinching her fists.
"Save your anger, sweetheart," Romania said, now in his regular voice, "I'm not the one you want. You have to take that up with Yao. I merely just stopped by to give you a message." Elizabeth could only glare, but she held her ankle. Romania smirked.
"I see that you've twisted your ankle. This should be easier then. I won't have to worry about you running away while we have our little talk."
"Elizabeth!" May called. She shook her head, "Aiya! She being stubborn this time!"
"I wonder what possessed her to just run off like that?" Francis said.
"I was probably Romania. He probably possessed her somehow," Nancy said.
"Yeah, she was acting all funny and stuff," Amelia said, "That was not her."
"Turn away. Now, before you get hurt!" Amelia stopped.
"Did you guys say something?" she asked.
"No?" Ita said, confused.
"What wrong?" Ivan asked.
"I thought I heard a voice? I guess it was my imagination," Amelia said, shrugging it off.
"Your friend's in danger! You must help her!" Again, Amelia stopped.
"Ya'll sure you don't hear that? It sounds like Romania."
"What does he want? He almost killed us!" Roma said.
"I don't know. He says that 'our friend's in danger and we should go rescue her'. I guess he's talking about Elizabeth."
"Must be trap!" May said. Again, Amelia was quiet.
"No, he says something like 'I'm not the one hurting you. Yao has taken control over me'? Whatever that means."
"He's not trying to hurt us? Yao took control? So that means that Romania isn't Romania," Kibu concluded.
"How you knowing?" Ivan asked.
"I don't know. But if it's the real Romania that's speaking to us, we should listen and hurry to Elizabeth." Everyone agreed.
As they trenched deeper into the jungle, they saw Elizabeth and Romania. Elizabeth was holding her ankle and she looked as if she was crying. Romania said something to her with a smirk and noticed the group.
"Elizabeth! Are you okay?!" Amelia said as she began to run towards them. Romania turned to Elizabeth.
"Looks like your friends are here. I suggest you put some ice on that ankle before you go running home to your precious father." As he turned and began to leave, Elizabeth could hear a voice in her head.
"I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. Forgive me," and then he left, leaving her confused. Amelia rushed to her side.
"Are you okay?"
"Y-Yeah. I guess so," She said. Then she stood up on her unsteady feet, "I must go to my father! He needs me!"
"I don't think you should go anywhere," May said, "Not until your ankle heals."
"No, Elizabeth," Francis said, "She's right. You should rest."
"My father's dying! I must go to him!" Elizabeth insisted.
"Dying? How?" Kibu asked.
"Yao attacked him! I have to go back! I have to say goodbye!" She said. May stared at her for a long moment. She didn't want to turn back now that they were so close to China. But she smiled and nodded."Alright. We'll all go back.