The relationship between Vitania and her father had always been a battle. As a Vampling growing up in a mortal world, she was scolded a lot and created a lot of problems for her parents. They spent a lot of times in her early years moving and modifying memories of kids and faculty members when they’d see her fangs or because she had jumped to ceilings trying to catch flies. Eventually they had taught her self-control, and by the time she was in her teens she did what ay repressed teenager could do with an eternity’s long list of rules and predator instincts; she rebelled. In order to really get the attention of her father she followed in his footsteps, going off and hunting rogue other worldly beings in the mortal world. The way her father reacted to her nightly adventures, was enough to scare Lycans and mortals alike, but it never scared Vitania because she knew deep down he had grown soft. He wasn’t a commander anymore but a father and she knew he loved her, so he could never stopped her from doing it again and again.
Now that she was actually out here with him, Vitania was being driven by so much adrenaline and excitement that all she wanted was to prove herself to her father, show him what her instincts have taught her. Running with him through the red woods, being able to show off her skills and physical endurance was already blowing her mind, she was completely revelling in this moment shared with him. She didn’t care if this wasn’t considered hunting; she was out here following the instincts instilled in her through his lineage, alongside one of the most feared Vampires in Ardtrea, she wondered if this is how it felt when mortal girls met their favourite band or actor.
As much as her father hated her disobedience, he knew the blood that ran through her veins would never be tamed. In an effort to give her an outlet that would fill her need but keep everyone safe, he had invested in hunting gear specially made in Ardtrea. The outfits are fashioned from a material that was strong like chain mail, but breathed like Egyptian cotton, called Melia. Light weight and easy to move in, it was perfect for fighting, hunting, and easy to wear under normal clothes for extra protection at all times. She had two sets of gear; a black and dark red one for hunting to keep her almost invisible in the shadows, and green for every night wear. Her fathers’ was all black with gold trim, and was well worn from a history of hunting. It was only in the last couple years did he “retire” from hunting and hang up his gear. Vitania said he stopped because he had caught all the rogues that lived here, there was nothing else and he could live in peace. Which was why this was so exciting to her, because the adrenaline she knew was running through her was also had to be running through him.
She was sure her mother would murder them both if she knew what they were doing but lucky for them, she was gone on a work trip and would be for at least the next couple days, plenty of time for everything to blow over and be back to as normal as possible.
When the truck stopped, they too took up places in the red wood Vitania had originally been perched, and watched as Detalia got out and ran to the man that was standing on the porch. She practically fell into his arms and he hugged her back in a way Vitania had never seen except in movies. The hug, that even though they probably just saw each other that morning, gave off the feeling that not only had they missed each other in the hours between but he had been worried about her. They talked in low growls for a couple minues before Detalia turned around and waved in their direction.
Simultaneously they both dropped to the ground and immediately she could sense that Todd had tensed up. Worried, she looked at her father who dropped his hood, she followed suit which she could feel eased him a little. They walked over to the porch and stood in front of the couple, Todd and her father staring at each other in silence.
Detalia gave Vitania a worried look but Vitania knew what they were doing. It was somewhat of an old way of doing things, when you’re looking to make a deal or a pact with someone it’s custom to make eye contact and hold it. It was a way of letting each other know that you’re not afraid of the other one, you’re there for a reason and if you can’t look each other in the eye you don’t respect them or the pact you’re making. The only bad meaning to this was that Todd must have come from Ardtrea originally or his Maker had, to have known what he was doing, which made him quite a bit older than Detalia, something she probably didn’t know.
After some time her father stuck out his hand to Todd who, after a couple seconds, reached out as well and shook.
“Todd.” Without breaking eye contact he stated his name firmly, albeit a little lazy.
“Kynthelig.” Her fathers response came out just as strong, but questioning.
“Detalia tells me you’re looking for whatever is taking the victims of the accidents.” One raised eyebrow of curiousity was not enough to shake her father.
“Well, I believe it’s causing the accidents as well, to feed.” His response was matter of fact and stern.
“And you thought it was a Lycan.” His tone was less than impressed.
“My daughter thought it might be a Lycan.” His tone turn to agitation, which Vitania couldn’t tell if I was directed at Todd or herself for making him stand there with her.
He turned to face Vitania who stood her ground. He came to stand in front of her and she felt her father on edge beside her, but she stared right back at his yellow eyes, knowing it would be foolish to show fear. She did not come across like she was intimidating because even she knew this probably centuries old Lycan could take her out, if he had the chance before her father took him out.
“I didn’t have any previous smell to go on and as far as I knew it could have been anything.” It probably would have been better for Vitania not to say anything.
“But you assumed Lycan.”
“It’s the only thing I know.”
He opened his mouth to say something but stopped and instead eyed her.
“If we’re going to be working together I don’t want any assumptions.”
She nodded in accordance, knowing that deep down he was correct. She looked to Detalia who gave her a look of compassion, a look of ‘I’ve never seen him like this, I’m sorry,’ a look of empathy she had never received from anyone outside her family. He turned his attention back to her father.
“Does that mean this Pact is sealed?”
“I guess it does.”
He let out his Halfway to join Detalia who rubbed the back of his hand with hers.
“I guess you should come inside then.”
When they walked in Vitania crinkled her nose. It smelled like a combination of wet fur, raw meat, and a hint of stale iron. She saw Detalia watching her facial expression and just said “sensitive nostrils.” They all sat down around the cleaner table, Todd and her father at one corner and herself and Detalia at the other. She leaned over.
“Why did it take them so long to start talking? And what Pact? They didn’t even lay out any ground rules.”
“It’s an Ardtrean custom when it comes to respect. It goes a lot quicker when you’re making a deal with the same species, but for something like this between a Lycan and a Vampire, they could both be caught for treason or make history books. Especially when it comes to fighting an enemy you need to know that the other person will have your back and stand up for you, if you can’t look the other person in the eye then you don’t respect them and there’s a chance they might double cross you.”
“Which means that Todd comes from Ardtrea if he knows the custom, do you know how old he really is?”
“What do you mean?” Detalia sounded concerned, which Vitania didn’t blame her for.
“We live much longer than modern humanity; every race from Ardtrea does, so he might be a lot older than you think he is. Which is fine, there is nothing wrong with a twenty-something dating a two hundred something.”
“He could be two hundred?!” Whatever color in Detalia’s face and sort of her fur, started to drain at the thought of how old her might actually be.
“Could be, he could be more or less.”
“Well how old is your father?”
“He’s three hundred and thirty seven, in this world he just goes by the last two numbers.”
“How old is your mother?”
She mouthed a silent “ah” and they turned their attention to Todd and her father. Kynthelig was giving Todd the details they had gathered so far, which weren’t many.
“Well there is a rift, we know that much.”
“How do you know?” Todd sounded sceptical.
“A Minks ended up at my daughters school, and presently at my house.” The comment warranted the sideways look of disgust in Vitania’s direction from her father.
“How do I know you didn’t open it?”
“Because I wouldn’t let her bring in another pet, and not something as useless as a Minks.”
Todd seemed to ponder that for a moment and then agreed. “Fair enough. When did it show up?”
“This afternoon. The only portal I know of is the one I use to get back to The Spire.”
Todd’s whole body shifted with tension and his next question came out as a lower growl than they had heard so far.
“You go to The Spire?”
Kynthelig raised his eyebrow, a slight smirk on his face as he replied “every couple months to report.”
Todd stood up and stared at her father. “Are you part of the Viral?”
“What’s your full name.” Kynthelig didn’t need to stand in order to be intimidating, nor did he miss a beat with the question.
“I don’t need to disclose that information to you.”
Vitania could see her father working something out in his head, she hoped he wouldn’t go medieval, they needed Todd and Detalia to trust them right now. Detalia was already looking at her for reassurance that they weren’t about to tear each other apart, and Vitania let out a small sigh at her fathers’ response.
“I am retired from the Viral, a choice I made on my own might I add.”
“But you still report back to The Spire and you’ll have to go back there to take the Minks, which means they will know you’ve been near a Lycan and that puts me and Detalia in danger.”
“If we can catch whatever this is, you will have nothing to worry about. We are already going against The Spire by chasing after whatever it is, making a Pact and not killing each other on site for these two.” He gestured toward the two girls at the end of the table. “It’s not just your ass that’s on the line.”
Her father stared up, still sitting relatively calm in his seat compared to Todd, whose fur was standing on its edge and his claws were semi-out. He looked at Detalia and let out a sigh of defeat as a truth he probably never expected her to know was laid out on the table.
“It’s Taliesin. Taliesin Ferehar.”
Her fathers’ eyes darkened as he repeated the name with intense curiosity.
Todd, or Taliesin, sighed and scratched behind his ear.“Yes, Ferehar.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Why do you think? I don’t want to be part of that, part of any of it.” He narrowed his eyes at Kynthelig. “Why would any of us leave Ardtrea?”
Her father let out a hiss, and Taliesin growled.
“I’m not signed on. To everyone in Ardtrea, I don’t exist.”
Kynthelig let out a small chuckle, the kind that was slightly surprised and disrespectful and Vitania could sense both the Lycans tense up. Stop being a bloody Captain dad.
“They think you’re dead. Clever. No wonder your name was never on my list.”
“I wanted to get away, to live a better life. I figured that life would eventually catch up with me, I just didn’t think I’d be in league with a Dark Child when it did. I figured I’d be running from one.”
“Watch your tongue Lycan.”
Talesian gave a low bow, never taking his eyes off Kynthelig. When Vitania had decided the tension in the room could be cut with a knife, she opened her mouth.
“Are we going to be filled in at all here?”
They both looked over to the two girls who were staring at them, confused, on edge, and unimpressed at the two mens’ ramblings.
“Cause if we’re going to be part of this I think we--.”
“Who said you were going to be part of it?”
Kynthelig cut off his daughter which resulted in her glaring at him.
“What do you mean we’re not a part of it? I’m the only reason you have anything to chase after? Why can’t I be a part of it?”
“You have no training when it comes to fighting creatures. We don’t even know what it is Vitania, how can I prepare you for it. And let me remind you that you disobeyed my orders and that’s why we’re here.” Vitania huffed out her response.
“It’s not my fault I’m curious. When no bodies are found it seems a little suspicious. You should have caught on to that.”
“I’m too old to be going after hunches.”
“Yet here we are, after a hunch on my part, with two Lycans who by the way, are very nice, and Detalia and I are very confused as to why you know his name and why he would leave Ardtrea. If we’re not going with you then we should at least be able to know why you two seem to be at each others throats, especially Detalia.”
She was standing up by the end, hands on the table, glaring down at her father. Nails sharp and fangs out she waited for his response. “Besides the obvious fact that you’re both old and were bred in the Feud.”
“Sit down and put those back Vitania, you shouldn’t bear your fangs at your father.”
She sat back down and crossed her arms, her teeth disappearing as quickly as they had appeared.
“Detalia is really the only one who needs to know why Taliesin is here seeing as she is his partner.” Vitania looked from Taliesin to Detalia, who was now blushing, and back at her father. Taliesin let out another sigh and sat down, putting his head in his hands and trying to give the fastest history lesson.
“Alright fine. In Ardtrea, all the Lycans live in Saphyr; it’s one of the three major cities. It’s surrounded by walls and fences meant to ward off the Vamps and the Sealie Folk. You don’t have to live in Saphyr if you don’t want to, but if you don’t you need to find a pack. I was originally bitten in the mortal world, and was then brought to Ardtrea but dumped off in one of the forests that surround the Lycan city, as those bitten outside Ardtrea could be considered a liability to the pure blooded. I thought I was lucky to be picked up by a pack at all, but I wasn’t aware the kind of pack I was being involved in. I began to learn their customs and their way of life, it was the only thing I knew. They marked me as one of their own, a burn in the shape of a cracked crescent moon. The Ferehar pack did things way against the Lycan code; they openly attacked Vamps and Sealie Folk with no warning, killing or seriously injuring for sport and for food. Eventually the Lyvian found our pack and attacked on The Spires orders to get rid of the “rogue Lycans.” I was cornered by an officer and cowered in front of him, he didn’t spear me like he should have instead he noticed my mark was fresh, it hadn’t yet scarred over and by the look on my face, he knew I had no idea what was going on. He told me to follow him and to be quick, so I did. We ran as fast as we could North until we finally hit Mirror Lake. He told me to Change back, and that he would close the rift when I was through. He clubbed me in the head to bloody his weapon and I fell into the water. I woke up here, on the edge of your lake in this forest. I built a cabin of my own and started a new life, or perhaps reliving the life that had been taken away from me.”
He looked up mainly at Detalia who had he hands over her mouth. Immediately she got up and went over to sit on his lap, and give him a huge hug. Shocked for a second, he put his arms around her and smiled. She leaned up and planted a bunch of little kisses all over his face.
“I’m glad you came here, because I never would have found someone even close to how awesome you are.”
She rubbed his nose and he chuckled.
Vitania made a fake retching sound and Detalia spun around with a look of distaste but before she could make a witty come back, Vitania’s father immediately stood up and raised a hand for silence.
They listened intently, Taliesins’ ears perked up and he looked at Kynthelig, raising an eyebrow. Her father nodded and he moved Detalia off his lap swiftly and quietly, and made a hand motion for her to stay put. Her father didn’t have to say anything to Vitania he just had to look at her, she may have been high-strung but contrary to his belief she wasn’t a moron. Both of them walked around the table, if you weren’t looking at them you wouldn’t even have known they were there by how they could move. They stood by the East facing window, a heavy silence laying over the room when Detalia and Vitania looked at each other understand then why there was a sudden change of pace. A low hiss and what sounded like scales being scraped against tree bark was barely audible from the other side of the door. Beside her Detalia started to change; her nose got longer and her clothes began to tear as her muscles grew, her back arching and baring her teeth.
Vitania could hear the disturbance as well as feel it. The air started to get thick as if they were breathing in smoke, but instead of cutting off her air it made her skin crawl, and caused her to be greatly on edge without even thinking of it. She let her fangs protrude, her nails grow and her eye eyesight bringing everything into complete detail, when her eyes turned completely black.
Vitania and Detalia moved behind the table in a crouching attack position, listening. They heard nothing, the world had become silent but the air wasn’t clear, it was still outside whatever it was. Everyone got their answer as the front door was torn from the hinges it was built on.
Taliesin and Kynthelig immediately jumped in between Detalia and Vitania, but neither of them were large enough to block their view of the instense creature standing on the other side.
Vitania wasn’t sure if you could call it standing, because it didn’t have any legs. Its’ bottom half resembled that of a giant snake, its scales brown and black. Wherever the end of its’ tail was, was far out the door, with the opposite end of the body curled up to display the rest of the demons features, which looked like it was made out of something that could be mistaken for pudding. It was a gross browny-gray color, with no physical shape to what could have only been its’ upper body. The slimey, goo-like skin moved around it, re-circulating like one of those wall waterfalls you would see in a Chinese restaurant, with the ooze dripping off of what she could count was 4 or 6 limbs that protruded from its bulbous body. It probably towered over them by seven or eight feet, it could hardly make it into the cabin which Vitania had to admit, was a great relief. At the end of the two higher limbs was a set of six claws each, the bottom two not seeming to have any real use to the creature whatsoever. Its eyes were a deep green and on its head were two curled horns that shone like they were make of silver. It had a long mouth that resembled that of a dragon and horrendous long yellow fangs. It was one of the ugliest creature she had ever seen, out ranking any nasty demon she’d read about from the Ardtrean texts.
Vitania’s body did something it had never done before, and acted on its’ own accord. Suddenly she was yelling for everyone to duck as she threw the table into the creatures face. It stumbled back out through the door and Taliesin took no time in running at it, hitting the table that was now stuck to its oozing skin, and throwing it onto the truck outside. Vitania heard Detalia give a small wimper at the sound of metal creaking under the creatures weight.
Kynthelig was next outside standing beside Taliesin who was on all fours growling, waiting to see if the creature was going to recover from being on its’ back. Detalia and Vitania made their way to the door frame, but Kynthelig was quicker and whipped the sticky side of the table towards them, blocking the door and the most convenient exit. Vitania’s adrenaline spiked causing her to move quickly and kicking off a leg of the table in frustration.
“Oh screw this.”
“What are you doing?”
She looked at the Detalia wolf standing next to her, she didn’t differ that much from original Detalia; she was taller and more defined, and of course covered with fur. Her nose and ears were longer now and she had whiskers that wouldn’t stop twitching. It was strange being next to a full Changed Lycan and being able to carry on a conversation.
“I’m gunna go fight me a demon that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet an actual demon, let alone getting to see my dad fight one. Screw just standing here!”
“You heard what you’re father said.”
“Technically he didn’t say anything”
With that Vitania jumped up into the rafters, opened their skylight and jumped through, landing on the roof without a sound. A few moments later she heard the pads of Detalia’s paws settling beside her, her expression bearing concern.
“You can stay right here if you want and enjoy the spectacle, but I am definitely not missing this action.”
“Sounds like a perfect plan to me, I’m staying where it’s safe.”
They heard a yelp and watched Taliesin soar through the air head first towards a tree. With a quick turn he had done a one-eighty and landed on all fours, pushing off from the tree branch and flying back at the creature again.
“You might be okay with just standing and watch as the man you love gets beaten, but that’s my dad and if I can do something to help I’m going to try.”
She launched herself into the nearest tree and scanned the scene below, watching the attack attempts on the creature by two very different people, and neither of them having any effect. Clearly it was just the outer shell that was soft because the table would have gone through the thing if it was that consistency the whole way through. She felt her branch shake and looked over to see Detalia, claws out, gripping onto the branch with poor balance, fur raised and an unsure look on her face.
“Alright.” Her tone was skeptical with an under tone of wanting to impress.
“I think a surprise attack is the best, if it doesn’t know it’s coming it can’t counter attack it.” She looked around. “How sharp are your claws Detalia?”
Looking Vitania in the eye, no doubt to prove a point, she lifted her left hand and swung down, chopping off the rest of the branch.
“Perfect, let’s go.”
Kynthelig was running toward the demon from one end while Taliesin was coming from the other. Unfortunately it was Kynthelig that got the end of its tail right in the ribs. He doubled over and watched as Taliesin put a halt to its’ slithering and tackled it to the ground, biting hard into its side. It let out a loud screech that caused Kynthelig to cover his ears, while it and Taliesin were wrestling on the ground. Kynthelig took the chance and jumped on the end of its tail digging in his claws, bringing his arm back he watched as what he assumed was a stinger fall to the ground and roll away. Steaming green blood spilled everywhere but still its tail flailed around wild. It threw Taliesin off him to the left and flicked its tail so Kynthelig was thrown into the air on the right. Reaching up he grabbed the nearest branch and swung into the tree out of sight, it seemed to be smart enough to know to now keep the two attackers together.
He watched as it haphazardly attempted to get up but it wouldn’t regain its balance, it needed the end of its tail. Off in the distance he noticed something moving. He started running through the trees to the shapes but was too late, and saw Detalia and Vitania launch themselves from a high branch, right on top of the creature. He and Taliesin instantly ran over to the girls, who had the creature pinned in a net of tree branches.
“Dad!” Vitania was struggling with the tail end, trying to keep her side of the net close to the ground, was pointing away from her. “The stinger!”
He looked to see that Taliesin had already launched himself over the group and grabbed the stinger. Meeting each others gaze there was only a seconds-worth of pausing, before Taliesan threw it to Kynthelig who caught it without hesitation. With as much force as he could muster he plunged the stinger into the center of what seemed like the creatures’ forehead. It immediately started to convulse, having what looked like a seizure as Detalia and Vitania let go of the make shift netting and stepped back, watching it writhe and then seeing both its’ body and strange skin go rigid. Taliesin ran over to Detalia to make sure she was okay but Kynthelig was the first to speak.
“I thought I told you to stay in the house.”
“Actually, you just slammed a table on my face.”
“That was what I meant by that, to stay in the house.”
“Well I’m here and I’m still safe.”
“It could have gone wrong.”
“But it didn’t. Some positive reinforcement would be nice every once and a while you know.”
“And on top of that you brought your friend into the danger.”
“Actually she followed me voluntarily and did you just call her my friend?”
Her father turned to Taliesin completely ignoring Vitania’s question. “Good work Taliesin, hopefully the scent of the demon will be able to mask your own.”
“You can just call me Tal. Here’s hoping”
They reached out and shook each other’s hands, this time with less hesitation, but not entirely without tension.
“Now we just have to figure out how to get the demon back to Ardtrea. And uh, sorry about your truck Tal.”
“Don’t worry about it, I need a new one anyway.”
“How far is that lake that’s connected to Mirror Lake?” Vitania was standing beside her father with her arms crossed, Taliesin turned to her.
“Maybe a kilometer west, maybe more I’m not sure. I avoid going back there.”
“I’m not taking it through there Vitania.”
Tal straightened up.
“What do you mean?”
“I will be going through to Ardtrea with the dead demon via a portal I know well, not one that possibly doesn’t exist. Not that I don’t believe you Taliesin but I would hate to carry a demon there just to come back with it”
He used the netting to wrap the demon and began dragging it with what seemed like no effort, towards the far edge of their city. Vitania made to follow her father when he stopped her.
“You need to go home.”
“Because there is still a Minks there and if your mother calls and neither of us answers she’s going to be worried and you know she can’t know about this until it’s all sorted out.”
She knew her father was right so she turned and walked into the cabin to get her cloak, which was still draped over one of the still standing dining room chairs. When she had walked back out her father was gone and Tal and Detalia were standing on their porch.
“Well,” she held out her hand to Tal, “this has been quite the night.”
He raised an eyebrow but never took her hand.
“That it has.”
She looked to Detalia and wiped her empty hand on her pants.
“I guess I’ll see you around school probably.”
“Yeah and who knows, if your dad doesn’t freak out maybe we can chill just, hang out like normal people one night.”
“Yeah we’ll see if that happens.”
She gave a last salute before vaulting back up into the nearest tree.
It felt weird being able to walk through the front door in her full hunting gear and not have to worry about getting caught, it almost took the fun out of it. As the door closed the adrenaline that had been coursing through her veins rapidly vanished, she could feel just how exhausted she really was. The stairs loomed over her, mocking her fragile state, and proving to be the worst adversary she faced that night. She barely had the energy to get her gear off and change before falling into bed. Already half asleep, she felt the Minks crawl out from under her bed and cuddle up beside her in the nook of her stomach. She fell fully asleep petting the furry top of its’ head