The Ardtrean Chronicles: Morality

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They were in a clearing; herself, Detalia, Tal, Sycon and Spiros. They were just taking a quick break, to eat and rest before moving on to the Mountains. Her head still bandaged and pounding, she tried to push past the nauseous feeling and eat. Sycon had his arm around her and kept asking if she was okay. Spiros said nothing and sat in the corner away from a glaring Tal. Detalia was laughing and chasing a butterfly. Staggering Vitania stood up.
“Where are you going love?”
“Just going to find a tree.”
“Be careful.”
She walked off to the forest and started to look around. She found the tree she was looking for, the one with the blood stain. The back of her head started to hurt as she ran her fingers along the dried blood patch. Her heart started to ache and she could sense something was wrong. She started to run with a sudden amount of urgency, just to get back to the others and when she arrived the smell of death and decay stung her nostrils once more.
“No. No.”
She made it back to her group but it wasn’t her group anymore. Detalia and Tal were stuck together by a black spear through both their hearts. Spiros had his wings ripped from him where he laid with a hand outstretch to Detalia. Sycon sat crossed legged, his back to her not moving.
“Sycon! What happened are you--.”
She ran to hug him and just as she did she heard a ‘thunk’, and saw his eyes staring at her from his lap, his neck spurting blood.
“See what happens, when you cross a Goddess?”
She looked up to see the Demon standing on the other side of the massacre.
“I was trying to save someone you were trying to hurt! You didn’t need to harass them!”
“Dear child, I was merely trying to get information out of him.”
“I’ve read about you. The Demon of Death who thinks she’s a Goddess.”
“I was a Goddess, and still have Goddess-like powers on top of the dark powers I have been unknowingly blessed with.”
Vitania cringed as she sounded so pleased with herself.
“I, my dear, am Midian. You may bow in my presence.”
“I will never bow to such a disgusting excuse for a higher power.”
“You think we’re so different? That you’re so much better, more valiant? Besides the years of experience between us, we’re very similar you and I. You have a dark power growing inside you that you too, have been blessed with. You play the hero but you can’t even call the Faerie your friend.”
“He was such a jerk to us why would I want him as my friend.”
“He didn’t have the best behaviour, yet he spat in my face and refused to give up information about you. Why do you think he would do that? If he truly didn’t care he would have given up your neck to save his own.”
“You dragged two Lycans you hardly knew into a world and a war where the severity is unknown to any of you, to save
your mother. And you’ve attracted the heart of a boy so pure, who would do anything for you, but would you do the same for him?”
Vitania looked down at the eyes of Sycon, still shining that bright blue.
“You’re just as selfish as I am Vampress, and you don’t even know the half of it yet.”
“That’s not true! None of it is true!”
She felt her eyes sting as tears and anger welled up inside her.
“You’re lying! It’s in your nature to lie you evil bitch!”
Midian cackled and disappeared behind a wall of flame. The fire caught the bodies around her, engulfing them and then spreading to the forest. Soon she was encased in flame, screaming for help. She could hear her name somewhere in the distance. Someone was coming to help her.
“Vitania! Vitania!”
“Help me! Help me please!”
She looked up to see a huge black creature looming over her, claws outstretched calling her name in the sing song voice of a child. She closed her eyes and swung, begging it to go away.

When she opened her eyes again she saw Detalia and Sycon staring at her. She was sitting up, drenched in sweat. She could taste blood as she retracted her fangs and tongued the hole she had put through her own lip. Drenched in a cold sweat she just stared back. Detalia spoke first.
“Are you okay?”
Sycon gave her a jug which she downed, and he handed her a second one which she refused.
“It’s not water, drink it.”
She blushed slightly at the sternness of his voice and took the jug, letting the warm blood trickle down her throat. She made a disgusted face.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Her blood is all bottled and in a fridge. This is probably warm and gross to her.”
She shook her head but drank it anyway, the image of Midian burned in her mind.
“You must have been dreaming something fierce to have your fangs pop out.”
“Just a nightmare. How long was I asleep?”
“Just over a day.”
She reached up to feel the back of her head which was covered in dressings, as well as her ribs and both hands. They hit a bump in the road and she cringed at the way her head ached. The other downside to being half a Vampire was she didn’t heal as quickly, and she didn’t know what kind of healing powers Underwordlers had.
“Can we stop for a second?”
“Tal! She’s awake! Stop us for a moment please!”
They felt the wagon come to a halt and Detalia opened up the back curtain and helped Vitania out into the warmth of the afternoon sun. She looked back at Sycon.
“Sun’s still up so I’m going to have to stay here.”
Detalia dropped the curtain before she could respond.
They rounded the corner to see Tal hopping off and stretching his legs. They were on a wide stone path just up the Mountains a ways. Behind them she could still see the clearing in the distance. Everywhere else she saw Mountains and closer to the top she could see white peaks covered in what she assumed was snow. Vitania looked around confused.
“Where’s Spiros?”
Tal flicked his head upwards and Spiros leaned over from the top of the wagon.
“Can you come here for a moment?”
He floated down, head bowed as if he was about to be punished, and landed silently in front of Vitania. His eyes dodged from the bandages on her head to the one on her hand and he bowed low in front of her.
“I’m sorry.”
“I’m part Vamp, these will heal eventually it’s not a problem.”
“They will heal faster as I used my own magic on the deeper wounds. The kit would not have been enough and it was the least I could do for you saving my life.”
“Yeah about that, why was Midian after you and why were you in between us and the Mountains?”
Spiros and Tal cringed at when Vitania said the Demons name, but she ignored their expressions.
“I’ve never seen the Sealie Majistrates show such concern for someone who wasn’t our own race so obviously, I eaves dropped on your meeting. My curiosity got the best of me and when you left I was assigned to go to the entrance passageway and make sure you made it to the Mountains because then they could be sure you would be safe.”
“How are we safe here?”
Tal was unimpressed with the story, his background with the Sealie King seemingly unimportant now, but it didn’t seem to phase Spiros.
“Because the Mountains are the home to the Ancients and it is guarded under heavy white magic which creates a shield against evil things like Midian; the Demon who thinks she’s a goddess and a foul bitch.”
“Yeah. Unfortunately for me she found me before I could get through the arc that would have protected me. She must have seen your party and then myself, leave the Sealie Majestry and chose me to interrogate.”
“So why didn’t you give us up? You were less than hospitable last time we met.” Tal was growling the words.
“Tal please, my head can’t take your ego right now.”
He growled and Detalia punched his arm, shushing him.
“I was sent on a mission to make sure you got to the Mountains, I wasn’t to hand you over to a Demon. Not like it matters because it’s clear Vitania can take care of herself.” He turned to talk to her directly. “Those powers you have are incredible and dangerous. If you can harm a Demon there’s no telling what you could accomplish if you gained control of them.”
“Now you’re an expert on halflings hmm? I don’t want to use them, I want to suppress them. If I don’t use them no one will know and no one will harm me. Once I find my mother I’m going back to my life away from Ardtrea where no one can find me or my family.”
Her heart ached when she said the last part knowing that she could realistically never even have a chance of a normal family or a chance with Sycon, but that was the way it had to be.
“What if you’re meant to use them? Detalia you saw what she did.”
“Do not talk to her.”
“She can talk to whoever she wants Jaws.”
“How do you know what she can and can’t do?”
“Who made you the boss of me Talesian?”
Detalia’s voice came out offended and shrill, and it was the first time Vitania had ever heard Detalia get angry at Tal, or use his whole name.
“I can talk to whoever I want and you should be nicer to Spiros,” she walked over and held his arm in defiance, “he saved my life when Vitania did whatever she did and the trees around us fell. I was only repaying the debt when the tree was coming down on top of us.”
“Don’t. You can be all ego with everyone else, but don’t try and use it on me. I got along fine before you turned me and I can get along fine now.”
She nodded and turned back to Vitania, ignoring the fact that Spiros was completely awestruck and possibly blushing, his cheeks had turned a light purple. “What did you do anyway?”
“Honestly, I have no idea. I saw her hand coming down and knew I wouldn’t be able to move out of the way fast enough. Then I got this, almost nauseous feeling, all warm in your stomach before you’re about to throw up and my mind was telling me to jump, so I did. The warm feeling in my stomach spread through my entire body and almost burned it was so hot. Right when it was boiling and I thought I was going to burn up from the inside; the Wick collided with her, then a bright light and next thing I know I’m waking up against a tree with a bloody skull.”
She looked at the three of them hanging onto her every word.
“Speaking of which, where is my Wick?”
She walked around to the end of the wagon and looked in at an embarrassed Sycon.
“Sycon, where is my Wick?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You found me, wasn’t it with me?”
“It wasn’t, and I didn’t exactly want to waste time looking for it when you were bleeding out in front of me.”
“That’s my only weapon, without it I’m useless!”
“You’re not useless--.”
“This is no time to be complimentary Sycon! This is--.”
She trailed off when she noticed his shirt that was hanging up beside him, stained red with her blood, and just closed the flap to the wagon leaving him again alone in the darkness.
She felt bad being mean to him when he was the one that found her but now she didn’t have her Wick, was injured, pissed off and the stress was making her wounds ache.
“Let’s get going again. I’m riding up front this time and Spiros can drive. Tal you’re off duty.”
“I really don’t think--.”
“I don’t care what you think.”
She didn’t have to yell for Tal to hear the displeasure in her voice or see the blackness in her eyes rising. Detalia shrunk back and pulled Tal behind the wagon. Spiros was already holding the reins when Vitania haphazardly crawled onto the bench.
“Vitania, are you--.”
“Just go Spiros.”

“You couldn’t have given me any indications could you?”
Midians hands were wrapped tight around Kyntheligs throat, blood trickling from the lip she had cut. He stared at her both defiant and confused, as she sighed and dropped him onto the floor rubbing her temples. He coughed and spit out the blood that had pooled in his mouth, gasping as he tried to speak.
“I don’t know, what you’re talking about.”
“Making a deal with a Demon is stupid, but trying to trick one is a death sentence.”
He rubbed his throat and stood up, holding the table beside him.
“What is she Kynthelig?”
“She’s half a Vampire.”
“And half human.”
She advanced and slapped him across the face again, grabbed his wrists and chained him to the ceiling.
“Look what she did to me.”
She brought her wrist up to his face to show the scar where Vitania’s Wick had cut through. Kynthelig stared.
“That’s not possible.”
“You’re right. It’s not possible. Not unless you have schooled her in the dark arts.”
“Even if I did teach her, neither of us would be able to perform it. Vampires can’t perform any kind of magic.”
“Then she isn’t just of Vampiric nature then is she?”
She pushed the hanging Vampire and swung him into a cage. Kynthelig crashed against the back and felt a burning sensation run through his spine. He cringed slightly at the pain, staring at the Demon.
“The cage is made of a mixture of medals, including graded silver. Not enough to kill you, right away.”
“Wha-what are you going to do to her?”
Kynthelig held his ribs and felt his heart plummet as Midian looked back and smiled at him.
“I’m going to find out what she really is and what she is capable of.”
She saw him sink onto the bottom of the cage just before she shut the door.

Detalia could tell they must be getting higher up the Mountain, the temperature was starting to drop quicker and she found it a little harder to breathe. Tal had curled up into a ball and was resting his head on her lap, Detalia absent mindedly running her fingers through his hair. She didn’t know if was sleeping or being anti-social, but Sycon was laying with his back to her and had been since Vitania took up post at the front of the wagon. At one point in the early trip Vitania reached back and grabbed two blankets, but she avoided eye contact with Detalia. Every now and then she could hear mumbling but it never lasted long; it was clear Vitania didn’t want to talk to any of them.
When Detalia and Tal had first gotten into the back of the wagon Sycon was just standing there, his back to them and one hand on the side of the wagon. His shoulders had been shuddering when they first came in.
“Who does she think she is? Telling me what to do. I have never taken any instructions from a Vampire before and here she has made me her bitch.”
“Tal, stop it. She’s just confused right now and scared.”
“Don’t defend her Detalia you hardly even know her.”
“I know her more than you do--.”
“Whoop-de-doo you guys had a couple classes together. Well this is a lot different than a classroom if you haven’t noticed. And I don’t think I want you talking to that Faerie anymore.”
“What? Why--.”
“I don’t like how he looks at you.”
“Who cares how he looks at me? I don’t, and neither should you.” Detalia tried to keep her voice steady as she realised she might be lying to him.
“They’re different beings than us Detalia, the thoughts that are probably going through his mind are probably disgusting.”
“How would you know that’s anywhere close to what he was thinking? You haven’t even talked to him as a civilized person since he came to find us.”
“I don’t need to talk to him to know what he’s thinking--.”
“Stop it! Just stop it! You think just because you know this world better than I do that you’re in charge of me but you’re not! I’m still a person dammit and I can take care of myself, as I’ve proven time and time again! I can talk to whoever I want, I don’t need you treating me like a child and I definitely don’t need you acting like my father! I left all of that behind for a reason and right now you’re making it hard to think of a reason to say here!”
He sat there, completely taken aback by her outburst. She knew that anyone within a couple miles of them probably heard her and she knew Tal wanted to say something but she didn’t give him the chance before throwing a blanket at him.
“Rest.” Was all she said.
She had never gotten angry at him since they had been together, and this was twice in the span of hours that she had blown up at him, but what did he expect, she didn’t need another father figure telling her what to do. What was wrong with him? All the Sealie folk she saw had the same dreamy, bright eyes, and they all looked at each other with compassion it wasn’t just her; he was just being arrogant. She turned her attention from him to Sycon instead, changing her tone to hopefully be empathetic.
“Sycon are you alright?”
She reached out a hand to touch his shoulder which he shoved off.
“I’m fine.”
He laid down, his back to her, and that was the last she had heard from him. In the time between the boys falling asleep and now, Tal had made his way over to her lap and she found herself just allowing him, too tired to be angry anymore. Sycon hadn’t moved and the two at the front had been silent for a long while, when the wagon slowed down and came to a stop.
She felt it move slightly as Vitania jumped down and saw Spiros open the curtain huddling under his blanket, revealing a white back ground that reminded her painstakingly of home. She smiled weakly at him and his cheeks went slightly violet, probably from the cold.
The back flap of the wagon opened and Vitania motioned for her to follow her. Detalia shifted as best she could and Tal grunted as his head rolled off, slight whimpers escaping his lips. She jumped out of the wagon in one swift movement and saw Spiros’s wings flutter slightly from the corner of her eye. He hovered in front of her and dawned on her his blanket before reusmng his post at the front of the wagon. Detalia walked around the wagon to see Vitania bent over checking supplies and rummaging around.
“What’s up?” Detalia tried to sound as nonchalant as possible
“Spiros says were here.”
Vitania never faltered as she spoke, only motioning with her hands at the sight behind her. Detalia looked over her to see the Mountains of Is; multiple dark blue peaks looming over their party, white snow covering everything, and directly in front of them was built an immense stone arch.
Although it wasn’t anything overly spectacular, like the arches from her architectural text book, but it gave her a calm feeling since she could say she knew all about the structure. The sides of the mountain at the foot of the path, made up the abutment, giving them a clear span of about ten feet. The impost stones were probably a quarter of the size of the wagon, looking to be three feet in height and length, and about two feet in diameter, all the same color of blue stone as the mountain side. On the face of the key stone was a carving, a carving so almost worn away by the elements that Detalia could hardly make it out.
“What is that?”
She started to walk closer and squinted, gazing at the strange marking she heard the smooth voice of Spiros behind her, but it did not make her jump.
“It is the mark of The Ancients. It’s a definite sign that we are here.”
She looked back at all the curves and strange lines and a shiver went through her. It was a hauntingly, beautiful mark. It looked like two keys that were being tied together by some sort of noose. One key had a pentagon head, while the other had a four pointed star head. The noose they were being tied together with was a loose, thin line.
Vitania stood beside her and put her hand on her shoulder, probably feeling how anxious she was.
“Don’t worry so much, you have two guys looking out for you.”
She gave her a little wink, the most communication they had had all day, and she walked forward closer to the arch.
Vitania shivered a little looking up at the sides of the mountain that now loomed over her, suddenly feeling very small. She traced her fingers over the stone and felt the roughness against them, unprepared for the sensation that spread through them. The stone oddly, didn’t feel cold. It was emitting a pulsating heat, almost as if the Mountain had its own heartbeat. If the mountain was pulsating its own heat, it was going to make it easier for them to walk the path since the mountain was melting any snow. She could hear something in the distance, something that sounded like angry wind. Ignoring it, she walked to the other side of the path way, and watched the gold flecks in the stone sparkle as she moved. She was getting closer when a hand reached her shoulder and pulled.
She stood facing worried faces, Tal and Sycon now standing behind Detalia and Spiros, Spiros looking like someone had just dumped a bucket of water over his head.
“What are you all looking at me like that for? Aren’t you coming?”
“We can’t.”
“I know you’re nervous Detalia but I’m positive you can.”
“No, we literally can’t.”
Sycons’ face was flushed as he spoke
“You walked through the arch and disappeared Vitania, we couldn’t see you.”
“All of us tried to follow you, but we couldn’t get through. Spiros was the only one who could reach through and get you.”
Tears were staring to well at the corner of Detalia’s eyes.
“You’re kidding me. I walked through with no problem.”
Detalia walked past her, eyes on the archway. She reached out her hand to push through the air and was stopped. Vitania stood beside her and did the same thing, her hand passing through nothing, waving in thin air. But she could still see all of it.
“I don’t understand. I don’t feel anything and I can still see my hand. You guys can’t?”
“I can, but barely. The Majestry gave me a spell before I left and said I was going to need it to see The Ancients but they never told me how. I guess this is it.”
“Then why can I go through with no spell?”
She turned to Spiros and advanced on him, eyes turning black.
“Unless you’re sneaky Faerie over lords cast one on me while I was there, already knowing.”
Spiros backed up quick into Tal who held Spiros’ arms at his sides.
“If they did they didn’t tell me, nor would they! It’s also against protocol to cast a spell without permission! To do so would have extreme consequences and I know we’re a laid back culture but we’re not stupid!”
“That could be debated” Tal snorted.
Vitania backed down and looked at the arch.
“Fine, it looks like it’s me and wings here going to see these Ancients.”
Detalia gave them worried looks the whole time that her and Spiros were getting prepared, although she couldn’t tell if it was for her or for him. Not like she needed her on top of Sycon who was running around trying to get everything for her at the same time; asking her if she had everything a million times. Eventually she couldn’t take it anymore and had to tell him to leave her alone.
“You might need this jacket, we are in the mountains.”
“And you should take this canteen, I could give you some of my blood. Well not my blood but the blood stash I brought and--.”
He stopped to look at her.
“Please go join Tal and listen to the emergency plan if something goes wrong while we are in there.”
She rubbed her temples and closed her eyes so she didn’t have to see the hurt expression on his face. He was a pureblood Vampire, why was he so sensitive around her? It made it difficult to be angry at him. She heard him walk away and continued to pack on her own.
When she came around the wagon with her satchel she saw Sycon haphazardly leaning over listening to Tal, Spiros listening intently and Detalia watching all three of the boys.
Detalia saw her first, her worried expression unchanged. Sycon was next and looked from her face to the satchel at her side and frowned.
“That’s all you’re taking?”
“Yes dad.”
Sycon looked taken aback by her retort and sunk even farther behind Spiros.
“Is that really all you’re taking?” Tal seemed sceptical.
“I doubt they are going to attack us.”
“You don’t know that.”
“They are ancient and supposed to be entities that aid, I don’t want to go in there seeming hostile and giving off the wrong impression and possibly leading them to be hostile towards me.”
“I guess that makes sense.”
Although Tal still seemed uncomfortable with the idea, it was the first sign of any emotion she had seen regarding her safety and it didn’t really make her feel better.
She packed some of the vials that Sycon handed her anyway, to wipe the hurt look off his face that she had put there, and headed towards the arch.
“What if something goes wrong?” It was Detalia voicing her concern as she walked away.
“Not like it will matter because we can’t go in the arch anyway.” Sycon spoke next, his tone laced with bitter concern.
“There isn’t anything we can do?”
“We will just have to trust them that they can handle themselves.”
Tal was trying to keep everyone calm, and Vitania was getting a sinking feeling in her stomach looking at her companions. Detalia had tears starting in her eyes and she knew they were all thinking the same thing. This could be the last time I see you. She turned around and nodded to Spiros to get going, and without any drawn out goodbyes, she walked under the archway. She turned to see Sycon craning his neck to try to see where she had disappeared to, and her heart ached when she realized he wasn’t going to call her name and try to be romantic for the possible last time he would see her.
Spiros made his way through a couple moments later, slightly fuchsia in the face and looking soaked again.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am okay. Just took some effort.”
She lifted her eyebrow but he waved off her concern and passed her to lead the way. The mountain walls of the path became more and more intricate as the path progressed. Designs and etchings carved into the ever darkening stone, gold and silver traced the deep inner carvings of some of the designs. Some of the carvings were just intricate swirls, designs that guided their path along the mountain; some depicting history of iron clad soldiers wielding spheres of light at dark beings, children and animals floating randomly in the scenes and a being holding a ray dressed in white; shining light over the world. It was fascinating to see how smooth all the lines were, as if they had been made by lasers instead of chiselled out by hand. The farther along the path they got the more intricate the images and lines became; gold paint in almost every crevice, huge pieces of artwork that you could only see if you were moving fast. Soon the gold images became large, taking over almost the whole surface of the wall. She found herself running, her eyes taking in the history around her at light speed, hearing Spiros call her name to slow down but she didn’t care. Her heart was racing and she didn’t know where this feeling of urgency was coming from but it was like her body was moving on its own with the amount of adrenaline rushing through her. When she rounded the next corner she came to an immediate stop, panting, her breath slightly visible in the cooler air here.
In front of her was an immaculate door that covered the entire surface between the two walls and over took her height with no questions asked. The door looked like wood, not stone, and was only slightly decorated in the gold paint. She heard footsteps come and stop. Spiros doubled over beside over, panting.
“Why did you, run like that?”
He was surprisingly out of breath but she didn’t pay much attention to him, she was to entranced by the masterpiece in front of her.
“I don’t know. Why didn’t you fly to catch up with me.”
“I can’t fly in this place, the energy weighs down my own abilities.”
When he straightened up she looked at him and then the door.
“Should we knock?”
Spiros walked forward to knock as suggested and let out a yell in pain. When he pulled back his hand from the door his knuckles were bloody. It looked as if the door had burned him.
“Well,” he took a gulp and cradled his hand, “that takes care of that idea.”
Vitania looked at his hand and noticed that the marks weren’t red, but green; almost as if they were bruised, not burnt. She walked forward and looked at the door, taking in the markings. She wasn’t going to come all this way to be stopped by a beautiful, burning door. She looked over all the lines and images, knowing there had to be something here that depicted instructions. She stood back, trying to read between the lines on what the golden markings could be telling her, but nothing was coming to her. She looked at Spiros and he just shrugged his shoulder at her, still cradling his hand, unable to use his own magic to heal.
“It’s probably right in front of our faces.”
Vitania cocked her head to the side and her eyes widened.
“Or, it’s not.”
She walked forward and stared more intently at a section of the wood door, between two huge gold shapes. In this area was five small, cylindrical indents to which Vitania reached out and placed each of her fingertips.
The door was cool to the touch, much like the mountain walls that lead to it, and a little damp. Her fingers started to melt through the door, taking her hand and up to her wrist. He hand was cool, like it was being held in a bucket of cold water. She looked back at Spiros who was watching the probably ludicrous look that was on her face. Satisfied, she went to pull her hand out so that Spiros could try but found she couldn’t. She looked back to the door with concern as she felt her skin pull against the gel like when you pull of a band aid slowly. She didn’t have time to panic before the door started to pull her through forcefully.
He grabbed her opposite hand and pulled as hard as he could, both her shoulder joints starting to ache but the door was too strong. It pulled her whole body through until she was on the other side leaning against a smooth, cold surface.
She tried to get her eyes to adjust, but even her Vampire vision couldn’t completely cut through this blackness.
She could hear water dripping, and could smell the cold stone that made up the walls of wherever she was. She listened intently to the echo of the drip; it rang too far for this to be just one room. The walls were rough under her hands, and out of the corner of her eyes she could see movement of small creatures flitting about, seemingly un-phased by a stranger’s presence. The sound of claws scraping and water dripping slowly faded away as Vitania, not used to being mostly blind, made her way haphazardly through the strange cavern, when a sound that seemed delightfully out of place floated around her.
It was the sound of a harp, and she could hear children laughing, but that couldn’t be right. Why would a child be in a cavern? She closed her eyes and listened to the noises bouncing off the cavern, feeling her way through, the child; a little girl’s, voice was getting closer. Opening her eyes she could see a small sliver of light in front of her.
She was so focused on the voices, because now there was more than one, coming from the door, she wasn’t aware of the noises that were creeping up behind her. The door she had come to stand in front of looked like just a wooden plank rested against the opening, not nearly as intricate as the first door or even the arch they had encountered so far, just a piece of drift wood. She leaned forward and placed her hand on the rough wood when something landed on her back.
Startled she screamed and turned, stumbling, and tripping through where the door used to be, suddenly basked in an evanescent warm light. Blinded she flailed her arms spinning trying to get whatever it was off her, before completely falling onto her back. It was very un-Vampire like of her to be so clumsy and allow herself to be scared.
Her eyes were still closed when she heard giggling erupt and a soft voice say close to her,
“Are you alright Vitania?”
Vitania squinted and looked up to see the hand of the voice talking to her. Taking it she was helped up by an exquisitely beautiful woman. She had jet black hair that was so long it reached the floor, past the pure white gown that fit her form perfectly. Her skin was soft to the touch, and gave off an aroma of peaches. Her eyes though, were white; no iris, no colour, no capillaries, not even a milky colour where the iris should have been, they were pure white.
“Uhm, I think so”
“That is wonderful. We were quite sure you were about to seriously hurt yourself.”
“Oh well,” brushed herself off, “I’m a Vampire and we are supposed to be more graceful than that but--.”
“The powers of the Children of the Night are not valid in the halls of Is.”
It almost sounded like she was getting in trouble, but her voice was still so soft and pleasant that Vitania wouldn’t have minded if she told her she was going to be grounded for the rest of her life.
That was all she could say. She had never been called a Child of the Night like that before.
“Are you-, is this place--.”
She nodded instinctively.
“My name is Yerlexia. I am one of the eldest Ancients, and this is our home.”
She gave a smile and a slight bow and raised her hands to redirect Vitania’s attention.
If heaven existed, at least the heaven she had learned about in regular school, than this would have been the inspiration God had needed, but no gospel or textbook could ever truly capture the beauty splayed out in front of her.
There were no definite walls, just endless space and no ceiling. When she looked up it was as if she was standing in a wide open field; clear, blue sky, beautiful pure white clouds illuminated by the setting sun. In this place were more mountains, not as large as the original mountain they were located in, but large enough that out of the centre of the two tallest peaks, a water fall flowed, silent, falling into nothingness. Vitania watch as other Ancients of various ages went by their daily routine; running, skipping, jumping, flying, all throughout this great place. Yerlexia grazed her arm and promoted her to walk forward with her. The floor she realized now was not stone or even wood, but luscious green grass. Through out the grass was abundant wildlife, but not the regular wildlife you expect to see. The closest thing to her boot was a tiny creature that she had to admit was pretty ugly, and not even so ugly it’s cute it was just ugly. She was looking at what seemed to be just the skeleton of an over grown rat, that had two black feathered wings resting on each side. Its paws had large over grown talons that were ripping up the grass in order for it to eat it. It looked up at Vitania with the same pure white eyes, and fluttered to land on Yerlexia’s shoulder.
“What is that thing?”
“A grinko.”
“What is a grinko?”
Yerlexia was stroking underneath its chin and it was creating strange noise in response, she assumed out of happiness.
“Reincarnations of past magical folk.”
Vitania just stared at her.
“Elves that contracted a nasty disease that poisoned generations, maybe. We’re not exactly sure what they are, just that they are good magical beings that have lived in the mountains as long as we have, perhaps longer. See, we can’t exactly see details of a person or a creature, more the light that they possess or do not possess, as it sometimes happens.”
Yerlexia started to walk away and Vitania followed, confused and spell bound by the grinko sitting so harmoniously on her shoulder, looking very out of place next to her beauty.
She couldn’t understand what Yerlexia was telling her, as Ancient she thought they were supposed to hold the worlds secrets in their hands.
“Yes Vitania.”
“I did venture to the Mountains of Is for a specific reason--.”
“I know.”
“But you cannot learn what we need to teach you in one day. It will take some time.”
“I’m not sure how much time I have.”
“You have enough.”
“I’m not sure I want to learn anything.”
“Whether you want to or do not want to, you need to.”
She smiled that gentle smile and Vitania felt herself believing every word coming from her perfect mouth, feeling her fears melt away into the perfect abyss that she was surrounded by.
“You have a great power inside you Vitania, and it will take more than one day and more than one teacher for you to master it. It is wise for you now to return to your dear Faerie guide as he is worrying quite a lot about what your partner will do when he finds out you are somewhere that the Faerie cannot get to.”
She hadn’t notice that they and retraced their steps and were back at the wooden door again.
“This grinko returns to me when I call for it, so he will go with you back to your camp and when it is time for your lesson, he shall bring you back here.”
She smiled and Vitania opened her mouth to ask another question as to what she was supposed to tell everyone back at the wagon, but Yerlexia simply shut the door and left her in complete blackness with the grinko. She reached out to try to open the door again and found herself pushing on cold stone instead of warm wood.
The grinko let out a small grunting noise and started to nip and head butt her calves, a sign to get a move on. She let the small creature lead her back to the first door, where she walked through with more ease than before, to see Spiros charging at her.
She instinctively ducked and he hit the mountain door at full force, knocking him backwards onto the cold stone.
“Vitania!” He grunted and stood up. “Nice of you to finally re-join with your guide”
He rubbed his arms where he had attempted to break down the door.
“Has anyone told you how are ridiculous your ideas are?”
“You do it enough for everyone thank you.”
She started to walk away, the grinko perched what she assumed was happily, on her shoulder. Spiros jogged to catch up.
“So? What happened? Did you get your answers? And what the hell is that ugly thing on your shoulder?”
The grinko hissed at Spiros who continued to look at it with disgust. She felt a little different than she had before being in the Ancients home; her senses felt sharper and she wasn’t as bothered by the cold. She still found Spiros attitude annoying and at this point she wanted nothing more than to just lie down. When they emerged from the archway it became evident that they had been in the tunnel for longer than she thought. What she assumed had only been maybe an hour turned out to be much more, and the sun had already set causing their companions to have set up camp, including a roaring fire. Detalia was the first to notice their return and with a shriek she came running over to tackle Vitania a hug but stopped when she caught sight of the grinko.
“It’s okay, it won’t hurt you.”
She never did hug her, she just keep staring at the creature. Tal and Sycon came over next and starting badgering her with questions; what happened, why were they gone so long, what was the thing on her shoulder, did she get the information she needed, what were the Ancients like?
When they finally took a breath she just looked at them.
“I’m exhausted; can we talk about this tomorrow? Thanks.”
Without waiting for a response from her impatient comrades, she walked passed them all and crawled into an uninhabited tent beside the fire. Curled up in a ball sharing the pillow with the grinko, she thought of how the minks made a much better cuddle buddy. She then thought of her mom and tried to fight back tears, she refused to let anyone see, or hear, her cry. Eventually she fell asleep listening to the whispers of her companions

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