The Ardtrean Chronicles: Morality

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One

As she knelt down she felt her muscles tense, with a hard take off the tension receded, and upon landing she could relax totally. The felt the process repeat from rooftop to rooftop, jumping and landing, different muscle groups reacting to different moves. She saw the pickup truck she was following stop at a red light out of her peripheral vision, and crouched low in the shadow of the roof. Not that anyone would be awake or able to see her, but she wouldn’t be so cocky as to think she couldn’t get caught. She watched the truck start, and read the back of the trucks flatbed one more time. “WOLFMAN” had been painted on long ago with metallic safety paint, shone back at her just enough through the rust littering the metal, to be a beacon. She laughed to herself in disbelief thinking, ’it couldn’t be this easy.’ And then a sinking feeling in her gut which she tried her best to repress.
If her parents knew she was out after she’d promised them she wasn’t going to go looking, they would definitely have her head. Seeing the truck in her school parking lot though had sparked more than just her imagination, the best place to hide is right in plain sight.
The truck turned off the main street and she cursed. Making sure no one was in the alley below; she dropped down the side of the building and bolted across the street. The truck was already a block away, and her attempt to catch up to the fading tail lights left her blood spiking and her head slightly woozy. It was going the opposite direction of the city and headed for out of town, with the way she was feeling she should just go home, but decided to ignore rationality and ran after it anyway. Instead of rooftops, trees became her new catwalk as she followed the bouncing tail lights through the forest.
The town lights were quickly fading, as it drove deeper into the forest than she thought people could live. It started to slow and turned around a large tree trunk to park in front of a small cottage, quaint, but strangely far from civilization. She took up perch on the branch of a red wood a couple feet from where the truck had parked, and watched someone rummaging inside, and finally turning off the engine. Her vision sharpened in the moonlight, and she took a deep inhale as the door opened, but the sight before her left her slightly disappointed.
A girl her age, with long red hair and green eyes, emerged from the truck holding a book in one arm and a grocery bag in the other. She had seen her at school, she knew her name was Detalia from one of the teachers talking to her in the hall one day, but that was all she knew. She did give off a weird vibe, but it was just assumed she was a loner and it was never worth investigating. It didn’t really strike it was that unusual anymore to have “WOLFMAN” slapped across the back of her daddy’s truck. She let out her sigh of disappointment and sat down on the tree, listening to it creak under the slight relaxation of her weight, and waited to hear some redneck yell out of the window.
Detalia froze with her back to the red wood, and turned her head slightly to the side, pushing her hair behind her ears. Vitania didn’t need to but she held her breath anyway, as she watched Detalia turn around slowly, her eyes scanning the forest. Vitania’s heart started to race and her blood rushed, with adrenaline, at the thought that this supposedly normal girl could have heard that practically silent branch creak. There was a shift in the atmosphere and a moment of disbelief when Detalia opened her mouth.
“I can smell you.”
Detalia’s voice wasn’t necessarily sweet in class when she heard her speak, but now it came out as low and throaty. Vitania tightened her coat and raised her hood, before taking the plunge and dropping to the base of the tree.
They stood there for quite some time, taking each other in without saying a word. Vitania noticed now what she had missed passing her in the hallways; the way her nose was a little too long and turned up at the end, how the top of her ear came up in a rounded triangle shape, the unnatural yellow tint to iris. Her vision sharpened so she could see the hidden detail in Detalia’s body; her pulse quickening when she moved her eyesight to the sharp teeth protruding from under her upper lip. Vitania broke the silence first.
“It’s clear that neither of us want to fight.”
“You don’t want to or know it’s better not to try.”
“Oh Detalia,” she flinched when she said her name, “I commend you for trying to sound threatening, but you just sound like a puppy trying to defend it’s toy” Detalia let out a low growl as Vitania pulled her hood back to reveal the sharp bone structure and black eyes that made it obvious what bloodline she hailed from. Pushing the hair behind her ears she remembered what her father always told her, ’Always be more intimidating then the person you’re trying to interrogate. Show no fear.’
“I don’t want to, I don’t believe you’re the one I’m looking for.”
Another growl was audible. “How do you know my name?”
Another lesson, ‘Never let the interrogee become the interrogator.’
“This isn’t about you, I’m interested in hee vehicle you’re driving.”
“My truck?”
She took a step forward and Detalia tensed. “Is it really your truck?” She squinted as a response.
“Why were you following the truck?”
This girl was as persistent as she was, and Vitania figured she wouldn’t get anywhere if she couldn’t make her trust her.
“I’m looking for someone-” she kept full eye contact with Detalia’s now entirely yellow eyes, “-like you, but not you. Actually, seeing you get out of the truck was quite the surprise.”
“Seeing you here is quite the surprise too. Never knew you were a vampire.”
“Half a vampire technically.”
She raised her eyebrow but never moved.
“Yes I have the perfect situation, all the pros and none of the cons.” She smiled and let one fang be completely visible. “And you’re a werewolf. Born or bit?”
“I really don’t see how that’s any of your business.”
“Oh come now,” Vitania started to walk in circles, the way a predator would with their prey, ‘never show fear.’ She inspected the truck from the other side, so that now she was a few feet away and could see all of Detalia clearly. The shimmer of the point of her claws was coming through the ends of her fingers, her whiskers were starting to protrude and her nose matched her ears twitching at every sound. Her whole body seemed on high alert, pretty high for just one vampire that wasn’t even starting a fight.
“You know I’m not her to fight you, yet you’re extremely tense. I can see how fast your pulse is from here you know, there’s no way I could be frightening you that much. Which means you’re afraid of something, or someone, else.”
Detalia said nothing, just continued to stare at Vitania, refusing to break eye contact. Clearly she had been taught well and Vitania commended her courage.
“Are you being held here against your will?”
“I was bit,” the response went just as quick as it came, “no it’s not against my will, but yes I’m nervous because you shouldn’t be anywhere near here, especially not like that.” Detalia sounded disgusted as she gestured towards Vitania’s attire.
Vitania let out a low hiss at the uncultured view of this baby-wolf, what she was wearing is standard hunting attire for female vampires. It was made out of special threads that stayed skin tight but allowed for the most breathable movement. Her knee high boots were made out of the skin from a creature in Ardtrea, felt similar to leather and just as warm and protective. Underneath her suit she wore a thin chain mail tank, and over top she always wore a plain black t-shirt. Over top of everything she wore a black hooded over coat, cut and tailored to her figure perfectly.
“It’s definitely clear you were bit or you would know this is standard hunting gear.”
“I know enough to know you’re not allowed to venture onto my territory, that’s against the Law.”
“Good to know you’ve read up on your history books but the Law doesn’t apply in this world, and that I know you know.”
Silence fell between only for a moment, before the sound of another engine filled their ears. Detalia ears perked up in the direction of town, and the air became thick with panic.
“Listen, I don’t know you and right now I don’t particularly like you but only because the territory you’re on isn’t actually mine and there’s no reason for you to get hurt. You need to leave, now.”
Vitania raised one eyebrow, sceptical at the fact that whoever, or whatever, it was that was coming their way could even lay a hand on her, she decided she would continue this conversation with her school mate at another time. In one leap she was back in the tree, and from there she made her way through the canopy back towards the orange glow that was her town.
The vehicle she heard was half way to Detalia, an old green mustang, and she gave a shudder as she jumped over it; the kind that gets into your gut. She pushed herself to go faster, and instantly felt better getting away from the forest and that mustang. Sooner than later she was back at her house, climbing up the side and through her open bedroom window.
She jumped through the space and landed silently, chuckling to herself. Removing her jacket she felt the prickle on the back of her neck of eyes bearing down on her. Turning around she watched as a figure flicked on the light looking down at her disapprovingly, her stomach dropping to the floor.
“Hello Vitania.”
“Shit.”


She sat at the kitchen table, slumped down and staring at her hands.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you Vitania.”
Reluctantly she raised her head just enough to look into her fathers’ eyes. He looked beyond livid, eyes fully black. This was not going to end well for her.
“We’ve already gone over this, time and time again!” He threw his hands in the air in frustration. “You are not allowed to go out Searching anymore! Not only is it dangerous but if you were to be seen by someone, or worse, if you were hurt by some... some... thing! Then we’d have to take you to the Honesteade and that would spark even more questions. You know why this is dangerous! What could have driven you to go behind our... my, back like this hmm?!”
He stood there with his hands on his hips, staring down at her. She could see both fangs poking out which means he was on the edge, she hardly saw them anymore. She sighed and straightened up.
“I saw a pickup truck walking home that had “WOLFMAN” slapped across the back and I thought maybe-”
“You really think someone would be that obvious? Really Vitania I can’t-”
“It led me to a Lycan!” She couldn’t decide if she immediately regretted saying that or not but knew she couldn’t take it back now and she felt the tension rise in the room. The tension was enough to taste, and it could really go one of two ways; really bad because she found one and was right, or really good because she found one and was right. She barely made out the words “you what” through her fathers’ gritted teeth, and she spoke as quickly as she could.
“She’s my age, a girl from my school actually. Nothing happened but she knows who I am, we have classes together. If I hadn’t been so careless in the Red Wood she wouldn’t have known I was there, but she heard, and she knew I was a Vamp before she knew who I was and I was thinking maybe-”
“She knows who you are?”
She could hear the anger rising in his voice, another novice mistake was what he was probably thinking, among other things.“We only know each other by name because we have classes together dad but she didn’t choose this life and she seems afraid of her Other so maybe I was thinking we could help her and ourselves because if her Other is the one who’s been performing all these attacks, she could have somewhat of a life and maybe it would do everyone some good.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, waiting for her father to freak out by the fact a Lycan knew who and what she was, but the blow up never came. She opened her eyes to see her father leaning against the counter rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Dad I know you’re not happy with me for disobeying orders but you always told me to trust my instincts and--.”
“That’s enough Vitania.”
The tone of his voice was enough for her to know the conversation was over. It also meant he was going to tell her mother, which meant tomorrow they would be having this conversation all over again and then she would be dealt her punishment.
She grabbed a bottle from her shelf in the fridge and went off to her room, where she proceeded to drink and pace for most of the night before finally falling asleep a couple hours before sunrise.

Detalia watched as Vitania scattered and when she knew she was out of sight, bent and picked up the bag she’d dropped. Locking the truck she proceeded inside to put away groceries and start dinner. She had the meat in the oven by the time she heard the door open and turned to see her boyfriend standing in the doorway. He smiled when he saw her which made her heart jump, and run over into his arms. Burying her face into his chest, his cologne filled her now super sensitive nostrils, and when she looked up, he put his hand behind her head and kissed her.
“Hi” with a smile, was all she could say looking into his blue eyes. “I’m just starting dinner.”
His eyebrows furrowed. “Just starting?”
“Is that a problem your highness?”
“No it’s just, you’ve usually eaten by now, is something wrong?”
She gave him a little punch on the shoulder and giggled, “Why does something have to be wrong for a girlfriend to want to make her boyfriend a dinner once and a while?” Technically she was telling the truth. She had decided to make him dinner long before Vitania showed up. Then he looked worried.
“Then what occasion am I forgetting?”
She winked, “No occasion really, but it is a full moon, so maybe I’m just feeling frisky.”
“A full... moon... Oh my god really?” He walked into the kitchen after her and pulled her against him. “And... you’re still happy with, with everything? You have no regrets?”
“None at all Todd so stop your worrying. Let me go or I’m going to burn dinner.” She turned around and gave a little flick of her tail, she felt the air tense up and her skin prickled.
“I see you’ve gotten a hold of it rather quickly.”
“I was always told I caught on fast, or maybe this was just second nature waiting to come out.”
Detalia knew he was watching her flit around the kitchen and she took in everything that was still new to her. The way her ears perked at every sound, how she knew where everything was without having to look at it, the way she could feel his eyes burning into her, and how she felt so seductive, something she had never felt before. The best part was that she could smell the lust, the animal instinct rising in her boyfriend, and if he didn’t pounce on her, literally, before dinner, it was sure to come after wards. She took out the huge roast and lifted the mixed vegetables and gravy from the stove top.
“Its buffet style so just grab a plate and fill ’er up.” She handed him a plate and smiled as she loaded it up with practically half of every dish on her plate. She turned to see Todd right behind her, one eyebrow raised and an amused smile on his face. “Hungry?”
“Yes well, I guess the appetite is the only thing I haven’t gotten used to yet.”
They didn’t eat in silence, they never did. She and Todd always had something to talk about, from work to her schooling, and more recently her change.
It usually started off with him asking if she was still okay, and at some point apologizing like he did something wrong. She would always tell him everything was fine, but she didn’t think he had quite gotten over all of it, the turning and everything. It’s not like he just told her what he was, her mortal want to surprise and be a good girlfriend, cause her accidental increase in knowledge.
The night she found out was stressful for the both of them to say the least, although she would never admit it. He knew she was there before she knew what was happening, but what could he have done to warn her or make her leave, any noise he made would have only cause for her alarm and to alert authorities, so he just let her come. The cabin wasn’t large to begin with, a normal size for one person that has lived alone for centuries. The dark that over took the cabin when she first opened the door was enough to make her uneasy, and for a moment she thought he might not actually be here. She stood for a moment looking deep into the darkness, and decided to venture in after she turned and noticed that yes his car was in fact here which mean he had to be somewhere. Starting silently, she crept over the old wood towards his bedroom thinking maybe he was sleeping and she would just slip in beside him. She never made it to his bedroom though, as she was passing a door she hadn’t bothered to notice before she heard a scuff. More confused than nervous, she reached for the handle and the click cause even more of a scuffle from inside. She jumped and the handle slipped, being more surprised than anything she didn’t have time to grab the door before it opened to reveal a show of metal bars and chains. The cage resembled the kinds of cages you see in old school circus shows, but inside was something you would never see at a circus. It was a wolf, or at least something that resembled a wolf, lean and standing over six feet tall. Todd wasn’t necessarily lanky but this creature was, and all over him was dark brown, scraggly hair. She didn’t need to look to know the odour was that of some dead animal, and when the door at clicked the creature turned and stared at her with blood stained jaws. At first the creature was angry when it had locked eyes with her, and then startled, but the longer she stared back the calmer it seemed to become until it lowered itself to all fours. Intense yellow eyes as bright as the sun seemed to look into her soul, she though she should run but she found her feet unable to move once the yellow started to change to that pure, shining, ice blue she first noticed in her law class. They were still for only a split second before the sun shone again and it jumped, lashing out at the bars, screeching and scratching at the metal, making the cage and Detalia jump. In a second she was outside the room leaning against the door listening to the creature inside wail, panting and clutching the door handle. She couldn’t move, she knew she probably ought to have left, to go home, to do anything but think about it but all she could do was sit down at the table and wait. She waited for hours, until the sun came up and the noises stopped. When it had been silent quite some time, she carefully opened the door just a crack and looked inside to reveal something like a scene from a horror-suspense film. The area around the cage was ransacked, holes in the wall where the edges of the cage had dug in from the creature freaking out, and sprayed around everywhere was the blood and bones of whatever animal it fed on. At the bottom of the cage lying in the back farthest from the door; was an exhausted, bruised, sleeping Todd. The next few hours were a blur to her memory, she didn’t know what possessed her to stay and clean up the mess around this unbelievable crime scene. By the time she heard the cage lock click and the cage door open, she had cleaned everything up and started to make a small breakfast. She turned around to find Todd, the remainder of whatever clothes he was wearing before draping off him in different areas, looking ashamed and worried when he saw Detalia in the kitchen.
“We don’t have to talk about anything right now” Was all she said to him and he just fell into her arms and they crumpled onto the floor. He never cried, he just lay there and she held his hand and ran her fingers through his hair. After he had explained everything to her, she had spent some time thinking about what she was going to do about it. To here there was only two options: break up with the best and only good thing going for her right now, or be like him. In the end she decided that he was the only thing she had in this town, and the only thing she’d ever had in her life worth fighting for, so she wanted to be like him. And it took her a lot of convincing but he eventually agreed to change her.
The process of changing was a very painful one which he had warned her of, but even the extra strength pain killers he had given her beforehand thinking it might help proved useless. When he bit her it was a mix of pleasure and pain as his canines sunk into the main vein in her neck. She could feel what he called Lycan Poison as it started to run through her, it was almost the feeling you get when you drink hot chocolate on a winter day, it warms your whole body. At first she thought it wasn’t so bad, almost a pleasant feeling, then in an instant it changed. She jerked away from Todd and fell on all fours screaming in pain. She clasped her hand to the wound in her neck and then both hands were clutching her sides. An intense pain had started in her abdomen, feeling like claws were ripping at her from the inside as everything began to tear and re-form. Her heart started beating so fast and hard she thought it was going to burst inside her chest. Gasping for breath, she rolled onto her back, writhing in pain as every bone in her body cracked, breaking and taking new shape. When she did open her eyes her vision was blurred from tears and sweat, but she could still make out Todds’ form beside her, sense his fear and something else. Her adrenaline and fear started to rise as her vision became darker and she knew she was about to black out. She reached out for Todd in the darkness to beg him to make it stop, to keep her there, but she felt fur, not skin, as his name came out in a growl and then blissful silence.
Today marked the third full moon since she’d been changed and to celebrate all the new found abilities she was making use of, she cooked a roast (which she had actually caught and killed herself) and the side dishes. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to eat raw meat while only half changed yet, the smell of dead, uncooked animal still made her stomach churn. Tonight she was hoping Todd would take her out on what he calls a Stalk, sort of a nightly run and prey but in wolf form, and hopefully she would remember it. They finished dinner and after running water over the dishes to let them soak, they walked hand in hand to the front porch.
When the moons’ rays touched her skin her hair prickled. She knew the change actually had nothing to do with the full moon, that that was just a myth that was put into play by Mortals needing something to blame murders on, but it still felt exciting running through the forest by moon light. She looked at Todd and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and a smile. He let go of her hand, and held out his open palm in front of her.



Vitania woke up a few hours after initially falling asleep and looked at her clock. The red digital numbers read six thirty back at her and she rolled over, putting her face in the pillow. Holding her breath for a couple seconds she could sense she was alone in the house, alone aside from her bearded dragon Spike on her dresser and her Betta fish Fury on her bedside table. She watched jealously as Spike just laid there in his fake sun, mouth wide open, fully enjoying the heat. She wished she could just lie out on her roof in the sun and tan, though she never could get much color. It’s not that she couldn’t tanned, she just never could keep the tan long enough, her skin always went right back to super pale, white as white as snow.
Making her way to the bathroom mirror she raised her lip in disgust at the mess staring back; hair completely tangled from tossing and turning, the makeup she’d forgotten to take off had smudged creating dark circles around her eyes. She staggered zombie-like to the shower where she pulled back the curtain and started the rain of very hot water. Standing in the shower she watched as the blood from biting her lip ran down the drain, just like all the events from the night before. She wondered what her punishment would be this time, after her mother was told she disobeyed orders again. She was probably the only college student anywhere who was still punished by her parents, but unfortunately for her, her circumstances were much different than anyone else in her school. Well except for one person. Eventually she got out, pulling her hair into a French braid, slapped on jeans and a t-shirt, and made her way to the kitchen to her prime target: the fridge.
“Ah breakfast, the most important meal of the day. We’ll take a bottle of this and some of these for my breakfast of champions.” She grabbed another red bottle and a handful of sugar cookies.
After brushing her teeth and fixing her makeup, she was out the door by seven thirty, messenger bag and sunglasses, to her little green hatchback. She patted the hood as she made her way to the driver side door. “Good morning Delilah.” Cranking the tunes she sped off on the all of fifteen minute drive to the college, to her usually parking space three rows from the front doors, and proceeded inside.
She probably didn’t need her sunglasses, and she didn’t know if it was the Vamp blood in her or if she had her mothers’ sensitive eyes but she needed them every day of every season. Today was cloudy and it had cooled down a little but not even the fall grey could shield her eyes. The days weren’t too far away when she would have to let poor Delilah heat up before going to school. Once inside her sunglasses took their regular place on top of her head holding her hair back, and she started to her first class which was on the other side of the building. If she hadn’t been Searching she would have just parked on the other side, but you never know in what forms a wolf comes in.
‘Speak of the fur ball’
She saw Detalia walking towards her, iPod in and bag slumped over one shoulder. She had her cell phone in her hand texting feverishly with a huge smile on her face. She must have a boy. ‘I wonder if they know.’ She kept her eyes on her and eventually Detalia felt the stare. Their eyes met for only a second, before they proceeded to stare down the crowded hall past each other, Detalias’ smile gone. Without really noticing, she found herself in her psych class, head in hand, staring blankly at her professor. He was telling them about how to read body language, and how you can predict what a person is feeling depending on the way he or she is standing, talking, right down to the twitch of an eyebrow. They were interesting topics; he just delivered them so blandly it made everything boring.
If it wasn’t for her sensitive ears she wouldn’t have heard the little munching sounds coming from underneath her desk. Her ears rang and her fingers tensed as she casually leaned back in her chair to steal a glance in the direction of her feet. Her eyes widened as she saw a small set of scaly wings sitting there munching on the back of her sandal. Sitting there in almost plain view, was a small fuzz ball of a creature that sat about half a foot tall, furry for the most part besides the small dragon-like wings that were folded neatly at its sides, and two curly horns sticking out of its head. It’s tail, both fuzzy and ringed like the tail of raccoons, was wrapped around it’s feet. It was harmless, just hungry, but she knew she would seem crazy if she just bent down and picked up “nothing” from under her desk seeing as she is the only one in the classroom able to see the little other wordly creature.. Leaning back casually she stuck her pencil under the desk and flicked it as if she was bored, which grabbed the creatures’ attention and she felt the pull as its’ teeth dug in and tried to take the pencil from her hands. She quickly snapped her hands back so that it was sitting on her lap and she grabbed a hold of it a little too tight and it let out a terrible wail and she cringed as the high pitch note rang and echoed off the walls of the classroom.
“Are you alright Vitania?” She looked up to see her professor and classmates staring at her. She knew they couldn’t have heard the wail but she did look to be under duress.
“You know what,” she clutched the Minks to her stomach, “I don’t feel well so I’m just gunna go, go to the washroom, I’ll be right back.”
He raised one eye brow as she hastily left the class and bolted down the hall to the girl’s washroom which once she knew was empty, locked it from the inside and put the fur ball on the sink. It sat there with huge eyes looking up at her. They were almost so ugly they were cute, or over-cute and ugly, she couldn’t decide.
“How did you get here?” It sat there, still staring, she knew it probably couldn’t understand her but talking to it made her feel better, it twitched its horns and just sat, looking around. “So did you just accidently end up under the desk of the only Vamp in the school? You know there’s a Lycan too, you could have gone to her.”
But at the word Lycan the Minks curled up into a little ball, resembling the defensive attack of an armadillo. She raised one eye brow.
“You’re afraid of the Lycan?” It poked its head and both horns out and looked genuinely terrified.
“Can you understand most of what I’m saying?” It unravelled and walked to the edge of the sink. Vitania walked closer to it and it jumped at her, causing her to step back but not avoiding it before it caught hold of her shirt with the claws on its bird-like feet, and buried it’s face into her, almost as if it was nuzzling her. She stood there surprised and figured it probably was scared and utterly lost being here, not knowing where it was. She sighed and put her hands under its arms, holding it off her at face level.
“If you can understand me, you have to stay in my bag until I get home.” She eyed it closer. “Do you understand me?” It licked her nose in response and she cringed at its bad breath. “Alright well, good then, I think.”
She returned to class with the Minks on her shoulder and when she sat back down she simultaneously grabbed her notebook from her bag and put the Minks there in its place. It walked around in circles a few times before laying down and almost right away falling asleep.

After the look from Vitania she hardly noticed her phone vibrating in her pocket. They both knew of the other one but she couldn’t feel any malicious vibes coming from her, there was no warning gut feeling that it was bad Vitania knew about her identity. Vitania was lucky to be comfortable in her own skin having been that way her whole life, Detalia was jealous of her for that since she had seen her in many classes in the last few years and never could have guess what she was. Although really she hadn’t had thought anything like her and Vitania could have even existed in real life until she found Todd.
Vitania slipped from momentarily from her mind and she found herself doing her new favourite thing when she was alone, which was taking in anything and everything with her now heightened senses. She could smell the perfume of the girls walking beside her, something strong and flowery but nothing compared to the smell of actual flowers, and what kind of shampoo they had used that morning. She knew she was coming up on the boys change room before she even got into the hallway by the way it smelled of sweat of shameful testosterone. Detalia also found it odd how much her vision had improved since the Change. It wasn’t as if she needed glasses before but now everything was ten times as crisp; every edge, every color, every creature or shadow that moved even slightly she could see in full detail. Her directional sense had changed to; now she could navigate her way home with her eyes closed if she wanted to.
Eventually she noticed a spot in her leg was starting to grow numb and she saw five missed messages from Todd, all concerned about where she had suddenly disappeared to without telling him. She sent him a quick message back simply saying, ’Sorry I got distracted there,’ and then another saying, ’I’m in class now. I will talk to you later, love you.’ Silencing the device she placed it in her pocket out of view. Once she checked it after sending the good-bye message she could never put it down and did absolutely nothing in class.

Vitania spent the rest of her day being extra careful with her bag and not paying much attention to her classes. When she arrived at her last class, the one with Detalia, she took her regular seat as did Detalia, on opposite sides of the room. Detalia kept sniffing though, slightly, Vitania could see her nose twitching and then saw her look apprehensively at her bag. At one point she raised an eyebrow in a “what’s in the bag?” sort of way, in which Vitania responded with a dismissive wave of her hand.
The last class took forever, and when it was done Vitania didn’t wait for Detalia but proceeded out the door, down the stairs, out to the student parking lot and to her car. Within seconds Detalia was beside her, she was definitely fast.
“So much for waiting.”
“I don’t remember saying I would wait.” She stared ahead as they walked, keys in hand.
“What’s in the bag? It’s not from here, is it?”
She turned to be face to face with the other girl, annoyed at her questions and ignorance. “How much do you know about where our kind come from Detalia?”
Detalia said nothing.
“Do you even know what it’s called?”
Again, she said nothing.
“I grew up learning the history and everything about it. It’s called Ardtrea. Father says you get to it by portals although I’ve never been through one or seen one. I’ve only been there a few times, but I was too young to really remember any details, besides the enormous walls separating species.”
She opened her bag to reveal the Minks, sleeping away among her notes. Detalias nose wrinkled and she shut the top. “This is a Minks, a normally nocturnal creature from Ardtrea.”
“How did it get here?”
“I have no idea, that’s why I need to go home to tell my Father because there must be a rift somewhere.”
She turned away and got in her car, before she could shut her door Detalia grabbed it and asked, “What’s a rift?”
She sighed, exasperated. She didn’t have time for a god damn history lesson. “It’s where someone is opening illegal portals and leaving them unguarded. And if that’s the case, then we’re lucky it was just a Minks that stumbled through.”
She drove away shaking her head, leaving Detalia standing in the parking lot. How is it that her Other didn’t teach her anything? Or was she simply changed because it was getting lonely, not for any real purpose but for company. When she got home and stepped out into her driveway she knew she was there.
“Detalia, why did you follow me?”
“Because if this rift is dangerous that means you’re not the only one in danger.”
“If my father finds you here, talking to me, it might not be pretty. You do know we’re not even supposed to be civilly talking right? We should be tearing at each other`s throats.”
“My animal instinct is telling me yes, that would be the right course of action but I just can’t. This is all new to me and I still have some human morals thankfully.”
“Ugh.” She was unsure what to do. If the Minks woke up near Detalia it would surely freak out, possibly run away. At least if they were in the house it wouldn’t have far to go. And if they were in the house when her father came home and he smelled Lycan blood, things could seriously go haywire. Detalia did prove a good point in saying they weren’t the only ones it affected, humans wouldn’t be able to fight off magical creatures or demons with their warfare weapons, although that probably wasn’t who she talking about.
“Alright fine, just let me put the Minks in my room because if it sees you it’s sure to freak out.” She unlocked her front door and Detalia followed her through the kitchen. “Just stay here.”
Detalia was left alone in between the threshold and the archway to the kitchen, taking it in. The house looked pretty normal for something that was the home of Vampires. The walls were painted all kinds of colors; the kitchen a soft yellow, the living room a darker green, and the hallway leading up to the second floor was a dark blue. There was nothing spectacular about any of the furniture, it was more modern than what she and Todd had, but nothing that would have spoken to the nature of those who sat upon them. Did they have family dinners, feasting on people or animals? Did they sit on the couch and play games or talk about activities of daily life? Were they interested in Vitanias’ schooling or did they just want to know if she had killed anyone lately.
Vitania hurriedly bunched up her comforter in what looked like a nest and set the Minks in it, along with the notes it was now chewing on, and closed the door. Bounding back down the stairs, she saw Detalia standing quite awkwardly in the door frame, and suddenly she felt very aware the she’d never had anyone over before and she wasn’t sure what to do.
“Do you want anything to drink?” She entered the kitchen almost nervously, went to the door of her fridge and opened a bottle.
Detalia sniffed the air and wrinkled her nose.
“What is that?” She pointed to the bottle that was now pressed against Vitanias’ lips. After she’d drank half the bottle and set it on the counter she looked at her guest.
“What do you think it is?” She chuckled as Detalias’ eyes widened. “Obviously it’s blood. It’s like Gatorade to athletes, a thirst quencher. I don’t need it to survive off of.” She finished the bottle. “Water is just too bland and I actually can’t have too much dairy. Do you want anything? Water? Milk? Blood?” She looked sickened and Vitania shrugged.
“Just a suggestion.”
“Water is fine thank you.”
Detalia took the glass and followed Vitania to her back porch.
They sat on a large patio set that was made up of a table, six chairs and an umbrella. Detalia was slightly surprised to see a barbecue on one side, and even more surprised to see the baskets of fruits and veggies hanging off the side of all the railings. Seven steps down and you were on the patio stones leading to the rest of the yard that was covered in extremely well kept grass and large beautiful trees. She hadn’t noticed much before since she was trying to keep up with Vitanias’ car, but now she saw they were in the one of the more well off neighbourhoods, all high fences and beautiful plants, her backyard being no exception to the stereotype. Placed strategically was a bird fountain, a garden shed, a grand gazebo, and a pool.
“What’s wrong?” She turned to see Vitania staring at her with furrowed eyes and she felt herself go a little pink.
“Sorry, you have a very nice backyard and home is all. You’ve seen where I live; it’s not exactly the Ritz.”
She shrugged. “It’s not all that great.”
They sat in silence for a little while they both nursed their respectable beverages. Detalia cleared her throat.
“So, how are you only half a Vampire?”
“My dad’s a Vamp, my mom is not.”
“That’s it?”
“Well, yeah.”
“So why don’t you live in, what’s it called?”
“Ardtrea? My parents said it was because they wanted me to live as normal a life as possible without all the conflict. They apparently have never been to a regular high school.”
“So you’ve lived here all your life?”
“Yep.”
The tone of her voice said there was something else, and she cocked her head to one side and gave Vitania a confused look. She either didn’t notice or ignored her.
“How long have you been a Lycan?”
“Couple months now.”
“And the one who bit you?”
Detalia giggled, “Bites me on a regular basis.”
“So you’re just a Vίtal?”
“A what?”
“Like a personal chew toy so they don’t have to go out and kill anything but they still feel satisfied.”
“Uh no, it’s not like that.”
“Are you sure? Where does it usually bite you?”
“I really don’t think I want to discuss those details with you.”
“I just want to make sure you’re sure if you haven’t been turned long--.”
Their conversation was thankfully cut short by the sliding patio door opening. She turned to see who could only be Vitania’s father, and then her stomach sank and she felt very much on edge.
A tall, slender man, towering six feet tall or more, dressed in a dark grey pinstriped suit with shiny black dress shoes, stared down his nose at the two girls. His bones jutted out, making his pale face seem sullen and created angles and dark circles around his eyes. His gracefully boney fingers were wrapped around an unopened red bottle, the shade much darker than the one Vitania had drank. He sniffed the air and glared at Detalia.
“Whose you’re friend Vitania.”
It was more of an I-already-know-but-I’m-hoping-I’m-wrong statement, something any child of any kind would know.
“Dad don’t be mad--.”
“Don’t be mad? How can I not be anything except livid at the fact that you brought this, this, creature, into our house? It knows where we live, it knows your name, it knows--.”
“It has a name”
Detalia, both surprised and regretful for opening her mouth at all, went from staring at him to staring at her shoes, shuffling nervously.
“Mr.Vitania’s father please, I don’t really know anything about well, anything. I’ve never hurt anything and hell raw meant still makes me gag.”
“Dad she’s only been a Lycan a couple months and I think she’s a Vital.”
“I already told you, it’s not like that.”
“If it’s the Other that bit her than we will know how to track it.”
“Vitania--.” her father started.
“It’s not like that--.” Detalia tried to intervene.
“We could finally put an end to all of the assumptions, we could--.”
“He’s my boyfriend!”
The two Vampires turned to look at Detalia, whose hands were over her mouth because her outburst had caused her to semi-growl.
“He’s your boyfriend?”
“Yes. And for your information I asked him to change me. I have no family and no friends; he’s the only thing I have so I wanted to be like him. It wasn’t in vengeance, it was in love. That’s why I don’t have anything against Vitania or Vampires or anything else you can think of, I am of no threat to you.”
Nobody said anything for a while until Vitania’s father had gone back into the kitchen to sit at the table, while the two of them stayed on the porch, both feeling like they were about to be grounded.
“You asked him to change you?”
Detalia was looking up at the sky, and saw the first star twinkle out, Todd would probably be wondering where she was. Her phone was in the bag she had set down at the front door, who knows how many times it had gone off. She nodded.
“Why?”
“I just explained that. I have no family; I moved out a long time ago and have been on my own for some time. I have no friends because I lived in shelters and was never really in the same place for very long. When I met him everything changed and I had the motivation to make something of myself, to try for something, anything. Then when I stumbled across what he was well, I had a decision to make. Turn and leave the one thing I’ve worked tirelessly at for the past two years, or accept him as he is and continue being happy.”
“So you chose to stay.”
“Of course I did. I loved him. I love him. No animal form would change that. After him explaining it to me over the course of a few months I made a decision and asked him to change me. At first he didn’t want to, but besides each other, we’re both sort of alone; him because of what he is, and me simply because of my choices. It was either be alone forever, or be together forever, and we’re both old enough to make an informed decision.”
She looked over at Vitania’s mixed expression of confusion and repulsion.
“Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It’s turned my whole world upside down in the best possible way. I wouldn’t want to go back to being boring, human, mortal. This is just, too much fun.”
Vitania looked horrified. “You think this life is fun? You have no idea what kind of life this is. You think you made a good decision, then you were greatly misinformed.”
“VITANIA!”
They both turned to see her father, with his back to them. Once they were in the kitchen, they saw the Minks on the kitchen counter cowering in between the fridge and the coffee maker, and her dad with his fangs out. Vitania ran over to it and picked it up, cradling it in her arms like a baby.
“Vitania. How did that, where did it--.”
“Dad stand down, you’re scaring it.”
“Why is it in the house?!”
“It found me at school, or rather it just happened to be under my desk.”
“That’s not possible.”
“I know that dad.”
She was cooing at the Minks and petting it down, trying to get it to stop shivering.
“It’s not going to hurt anything, it’s just a Minks.”
Her father straightened himself up. “I’m well aware what it is Vitania. First a Lycan and now a Minks”
He rubbed his temples and turned to Detalia who couldn’t help flinching when she saw his eyes had gone completely black.
“Do you have a name?”
“Detalia, sir.”
She added the sir as an afterthought, always having respect for her elders regardless of age, or species apparently. He ignored her courtesy and she returned to looking at the floor.
“Do you know what this is?” He pointed at the Minks in Vitania’s arms.
“No sir, this is the first, any kind of, well since I Changed I-”
“Alright don’t strain yourself. “ He ran his fingers through the dark brown hair on top of his head and rubbed his temples. “I’m going to need to take him to the Spire as soon as I can.”
“What? Why? He’s happy here can’t we keep him?”
“Are you serious Vitania? The bearded dragon and the fish are different, they are from here, but the Minks is not. It’s from Ardtrea which means it won’t be able to survive here. There is no winter there and it will be cold here soon, it wouldn’t be able to survive the climate change. And if I don’t bring the Minks with me they won’t believe I didn’t bring it here myself.”
Vitania opened her mouth to protest and then shut it again, scrunching up her face in displeasure.
“Good. Now, hand him over.”
“Can I just keep him for the night? You aren’t going right now are you?”
“No,” he drew out the “o” as if he was going to change his mind, “I’m not going tonight. Fine you can keep him, but just for the night.”
He turned to Detalia.
“Now what to do with you.”
He advanced on her in a simple way, but being an adult Vampire it was a little menacing nonetheless. She couldn’t help when her vision cleared, and her claws and own canines came out.
“Calm down Lycan--.” Vitania smacked his arm, “-Detalia, I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t really know how to control things yet--.”
“Yes, I heard the story about your boyfriend being your other, what’s his name?”
“I don’t see why that is of importance.”
“You are most likely an unregistered Lycan, which would mean he is unregistered as well. If he has stayed unregistered it would be for a reason, and that reason may cause for an unhappy situation.”
“Unregistered? What do you mean?”
“Every species in Ardtrea are all registered with The Spire. And if any one of those slips through their fingers, they aren’t very happy. It’s like how the government knows everyone who lives anywhere and when people cheat the system it comes down on their heads. It could have terrible consequences, depending on how long you and your boyfriend have been Lycans, you may just get off with a slap on the wrist and be registered, or you could be seriously punished.”
“What’s considered serious punishment?”
“It can range from having your claws pulled, tail clipped, eyes inverted, death, or worse.”
Her stomach kind of dropped, and although she didn’t want to, Detalia opened her mouth and asked anyway. “What could be worse than death?”
“They have the ability to take the Lycan out of you.” She didn’t think it was possible, but her stomach might as well have dropped through the floor. “The poison that runs through your veins to make you a wolf, and the half-blood that runs through us to make us vampires, it can all be retracted and replaced with normal blood. The process of doing it, the extraction and replacement takes weeks, and is very painful. I’ve watched various species lay on the table begging just to be killed, asking for death because it would be a blessing.”
Detalia took in a sharp breath and felt tears start in her eyes.
“How can someone be so cruel?”
“Those who perform the extraction have no souls, no hearts. They are a little bit of everything but they are not one of anyone. They are the brains and backbone of Ardtrea, the law, like the political figures here except killing and torture is completely okay in their government.”
“Can we just not go to them? I mean, what they don’t know can’t hurt them right? Or anyone else.”
Her voice was shaky and desperate, her head spinning with what she might have just done to her happiness. Did she just turn Todd and herself in out of her own curiosity?
“They will know I’ve interacted with a Lycan, your scent will be all over me when I arrive which means I will need something to tell them. If I cannot give them you, then I must give them your boyfriend.”
“Or,” Vitania started, “what about the other Lycan.”
Her father rolled his eyes and turned to his daughter.
“We found the Lycans Vitania there is nothing else.”
“Other Lycan?”
“My theory is that something has been killing off humans,” her voice started to get excited and she began to talk faster, “all those “car accidents” where the bodies were thrown from the vehicle and never found? Humans can’t see it but anyone like us would be able to see and smell another scent. It smelled like Lycan to me. Dad would never come with me so I can’t be sure.”
“Well I know it’s not Todd. He has chained himself up every time he Changed.”
“Why would he do that if he has the experience?” Vitanias’ dad was dangerously curious.
“He said when we started dating he had to hold a human form more often so when he Changed, it was more intense and sometimes he couldn’t keep control of it. To avoid hurting himself, me, or anyone else he started to chain himself up when he felt he couldn’t contain it anymore. Since he changed me we walk around in between forms most of the time, it focus’s both of us more, and when we fully Change we can control it.”
“If you guys have been together for over two years than it can’t be him,” she turned to her dad, “the attacks only started five or six months ago, which means there is another Lycan, or maybe a whole pack.” She was getting really excited now. Not only could Detalia sense it, but her fangs were starting to come out and her eyes were going black.
“I don’t know if it’s a Lycan.”
Vitania’s eyes continued to get black but her excitement vibe changed. “What do you mean?”
“Well.. Before I knew about Todd, whenever I would go over I always felt like someone was watching me, or something. It freaked me out and when I told Todd he said it was probably just an animal. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it but whenever I did tell him, I never got to stay the night, he would always take me home early. Maybe whatever you’re looking for lives out in the back woods where Todd does. He might know what it is? Although he might not be very happy with you two showing up, I know we’re not exactly supposed to be friends.”
“You’re not friends” Was Vitania’s fathers’ immediate response.
“I didn’t mean we we’re I was just saying--.”
“We need to go see him then.”
Detalia’s stomach dropped. She didn’t really know anything, what was she doing just giving her boyfriend up. Well, she wasn’t really giving him up, it might be a common goal and maybe she could get them to work together, which would be a good thing if they were the only ones with Ardtrean blood in this small town. She looked over at Vitania who was watching her, studying her maybe. She couldn’t see why her and Vitania couldn’t be friends. Well she could see her father getting in the way and maybe Todd, but it’s not like either of them had any grudge against the other that wasn’t for their species.
“Maybe you should call ahead first?”
“Yeah,” her voice started to drop in octaves, “he might be wondering where I am too.”
Detalia left the kitchen where they heard her grab her bag, and closed the front door so they wouldn’t be able to hear her conversation.
Vitania turned to her father who was staring her down.
“Dad I--.”
“I don’t really know what to say to you right now. You disobeyed me and let a Lycan in the house.”
“She’s harmless, the Feud hasn’t been bred into her. I don’t want to fight her, she doesn’t want to fight me and as a human she had always been nice to me.”
“I don’t like where this is going. You can’t be thinking of being friends with her are you?”
“I can’t see why we can’t be. I have no friends dad, I have no one to hang out with. I don’t live in Ardtrea, I can’t interact with other Vamps because there are no other Vamps besides you and sort of mom. I can’t have normal friends here really because they would never understand the fridge and I would never be able to tell them anyway. She’s nice and clearly afraid of you, she’s no threat. You and mom wanted me to live somewhere to have a normal life but no matter where I was living I would never have a normal life, how could I?”
“That doesn’t matter, that would be going against everything I believe and was brought up in.”
“So you’re telling me that the whole reason we’re here, my happiness and my “normal” life, now doesn’t matter?”
She could feel her heart beating fast, one of the downsides to being partly human was the emotions, and she was starting to get very emotional.
“The only Lycans you fought were in The Battle and it wasn’t even your feud, it was the High Masters of each clan that started that and recruited. Have you ever actually just talked to another Lycan? Do you seriously want to kill her where she’s standing?” They were silent for a while as Vitania stared at him. “Dad. We. Don’t. Live. In. Ardtrea. We aren’t bound by their rules, I thought that’s why you came here, to get away.”
“It wasn’t exactly like that.” He was back to rubbing his temples, massaging the head that never got headaches.
“Okay well it doesn’t matter, were here now aren’t we? What about ‘innocent until proven guilty?’ Right now she is afraid of you, she isn’t going to do anything. Until you’re given a reason that she is dangerous and a threat to you or me, please put your fangs away.”
He sighed and gave her a look she couldn’t quite understand.
“You are so much like your mother you know that.”
“I know. If I wasn’t we might argue more often.”
At that, the front door gave a click and Detalia came back in, looking slightly frustrated.
“Alright well, I explained as much as I could before he cut me off. He’s not happy but asking him to do it for me, kind of won the battle. Just,” she looked at Vitania’s dad, “please don’t be too menacing.”
He stared at her saying nothing for what felt like forever, but was probably only a few seconds, and then sort of chuckled which caused the tension to lessen in the room.
“I will try my best.”

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