She woke up to the mixed smell of blood and coffee coming from downstairs, and to the Minks sleeping beside her head on the pillow. She lifted herself up groggily, her demon stained clothes still in a heap on the floor, grabbed her slippers, and watched as the fuzzy little thing stretched out on her pillow, still fast asleep. ‘It could so live here’ As she was walking downstairs she heard her fathers’ voice, and unfortunately her mothers’ which meant she was home early, but stopped at the bottom of the stairs when she noticed neither of them were speaking English. As she crept closer there was another voice, and another, then nothing. They were silent. Vitania, quite embarrassingly to herself, almost jumped out of her skin when her father came around the corner from the kitchen to look at her.
“How long have you been there?”
She grunted in response, putting on the façade of being too tired to speak.
“Some of my old Viral buddies are here, and one of their sons whose currently enrolled, if you want them to see you like this,” he stared her pyjamas and bed head up and down, “then by all means go in.”
She shrugged her shoulders, rubbed her fingers through her hair and walked into the kitchen.
She immediately knew one of the retired officers, Tev, he used to come around a lot and visit her father when she was little. He was dressed casually, jeans and a t-shirt, with a leather jacket slumped over his chair. Right now his eyes were green and she couldn’t see his fangs, but she knew they were tinted yellow from the amount of Ardtrean herbals he smoked. When he saw her, he stood up and put out his arms. When she hugged him she buried her face like she did when she was a child and smelled the familiar scent of Phen and leather, it wasn’t necessarily a great smell but it had great memories of him bringing her blood delicacies and old books. She hadn’t notice how long it had been since she’d seen him.
“Vitania! I haven’t seen you since you were this big!” He lowered his hand to just above his knee. “And now I hear you’re off fighting demons!” He elbowed her in the side and winked.
“Yeah well,” she gave him a punch in the arm that knocked him back into his chair, “just a few, gotta keep ’em in their place yah know.” She winked back and he laughed, rubbing the spot where her fist connected.
Her father shook his head at her.
“Oh lighten up Kynthelig! It’s not like she got hurt.”
“But she could have.”
“Any spawn of yours could fight a demon with their hands tied behind their back!”
“Finally some positive reinforcement!” Vitania scoffed, “that’s very hard to come by around here yah know.”
Tev laughed whole heartedly and slapped the table, making her mom jump slightly. He looked at Vitania and pointed to the other gentleman sitting across from him.
“This was my other colleague in my division, the only one we didn’t trust at the time, Daurin Falkrie and his son, Sycon.”
She could tell why you wouldn’t want to trust Daurin, or run into him in the back ally. Most Vamps were thin; they didn’t have a lot of blood in them to begin with so it was just part of their genetic makeup that their body type couldn’t fill out the muscle, but Daurin actually had a fair bit on his body making him twice the size of a normal Vamp and twice as intimidating. He had a faded scar the was drawn down the right side of his face, she assumed from battle, and his hands looked unnaturally worn out with many callusous’s as if they had spent years crafting weapons. On top of that his eyes normally were such a dark shade of brown, almost black, which made him look ready to strike at any moment. She gave him a silent nod which he returned.
His son on the other hand, she momentarily raised an eye brow at, then trying to silently gain facial composure. He was tall, average height for a Vamp she would think, around six feet, with the same muscular build as his father just not as defined. He was dressed in the Viral’s regulatory uniform; a dark blue suit made entirely out of Melia, laced with a gold trim. The black boots he was wearing defined him as a front line, one that is specially good at attacks. She noticed spikes on the sole of the boot, which brought to her attention that he was one for surprise attacks, the spikes being able to help him latch onto things he might not be able to normally. The cloak he had been wearing was hanging behind him, the same shade of blue and gold, with the Virals’ crest placed over the heart. Inside the upside down triangle, was a blood stained fang, with two circles that could resemble the rings on Jupiter floating around it.
Besides the fact that she had a weakness for any man in uniform, she couldn’t take her eyes off his face. Even for a Vampire his hair was a lighter brown instead of the normal jet black. His jaw was strong and set, she could see every shadow and chisel of his lower jaw. His cheek bones were pronounced and gave the impression his eyes were so much larger than they actually were, and his eyes were blue, but not just blue, they were blue. The most intense shade of blue she’d ever seen in a Vamp, as the brightest color she ever though Vamp eyes could get was a steel gray. She didn’t think she’d been staring that long but she felt the burn of her fathers’ eyes on the back of her head so she extended her hand to him.
“Nice to meet you.”
He took her hand and turned it over, kissing it lightly.
“Pleasure is all mine, Miss Masters.”
She couldn’t help but whisper under her breath and blush a little, she hadn’t ever been called Miss or had any boy of any species, act so gentlemanly around her before.
“Hmm yes well,” she turned to face the rest of the table, “I’m just going to get some coffee and then leave you all to your business.”
She turned towards the counter and the coffee maker and cursed her human cheeks for still feeling hot, stupid soldier with stupid good looks and stupid beautiful blue eyes.
She looked down to see her cup almost about to overflow. Letting slip a few curse words she put the pot back and bent over to sip the top so she was still able to put sugar in it. She felt eyes watching her and immediately straightened her back, grabbed her cup and made to leave the kitchen.
“It was nice meeting you Mr. Falkrie and Sycon, and it was great to see you again Tev, but if you’ll excuse me I need to do homework.”
She left before anyone could say anything else, but not without stealing one more look at Sycon who, to her surprise, was watching her too. He seemed confused and she wondered while walking up the stairs, if they had to do homework in Ardtrea or if was called something else. Her face flushed again at the thought of him watching her and mumbled to herself about spoiled pure blood Vampires the whole way back to her room.
She dropped a few crickets in Spike’s tank, a few pellets in for Fury, and looked at The Minks that was still asleep, content as can be in this so called unnatural habitat. She snickered in disbelief which caused a strand of hair to drop and stick to her forehead, demon blood still coating it. The sticky mess smelled like tar mixed with mould, and if her gear hadn’t reeked all night she probably would have gagged when it slapped onto her forehead. Once clean she tossed her hair in a loose bun, and walked downstairs and to the last door on the left of the hall, which opened into the library.
Her father originally built the house back when most of this place was forested land, before he had met her mother but after he became The Peace Keeper. She learned as a child that beings from Ardtrea since the dawn of their time, were always trying to find other worlds to inhabit through the various rifts that they created, those portals through time and space. There were many old pictures of a grand house that stood here, looking very medieval with a gated fence so as to keep the first people to inhabit this area, out of her dads way. Since then it had been remodeled depending on the era the modern world was in and eventually when he met her mother, they changed it to something more modern and family oriented. Due to this, they definitely had one of the bigger houses on the block, but still not the biggest since the mortal world has grown greedy and decided that bigger is better and means more. The library was part of the house that never changed since her dad loved knowledge, expanding his own and then when Vitania came along, teaching her everything he could. She closed the door behind her and the soft thud echoed slightly through the round room, and took in a deep breath. She really loved the library, everything about it. It was like a space that connected her to her homeland, three large arm chairs, a fire place, and no less than a thousand books. On the East wall was a large window that had deep red velvet curtains covering it, and underneath was a simple brown mahogany desk where her father used to go through papers while she would read back when he was still The Peace Keeper. It was carpeted through and through except for around the fire place on the North wall. There was a small semicircle of hard wood where the big arm chairs sat and a round, flat table in the middle of it.
It was cozy to say the least. She found the right shelf on the second floor and the book titled “Ardtrean Creatures,” in their home language. Flipping to “M” she found the Minks section and started to read.
The Minks is an animal of adaptability. Its fur can become more or less dense depending on the climate. Although Ardtrea is famous for its warm temperatures all year long, it has been known to become very cold to the point the Minks’ fur has doubled, keeping its body temperature at a stable level and allowing it to survive. The main diet for a Minks is mostly small Drea Berries and Calutes, but it has been known to survive off of a less desirable diet of leaves, twigs and fish.
“Pfft can’t survive here my ass.”
Copying down notes she put the book back and left the library. Taking her empty coffee cup into the kitchen she saw her mom at the table, typing away on her laptop, steaming cup of regular coffee on one side and a cigarette on the other. She sat down on the opposite side of the table.
“So,” her mother started, not looking up, “Sycon is pretty cute.”
Immediately Vitania started blushing.
“It wouldn’t be bad for you to get a boyfriend dear.”
“Oh mom not this again, please. I don’t have time for a boyfriend and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend either.”
Her mother just stared at her with one eyebrow raised.
“What?” Vitania drew out the “a” in an exasperated tone and went to get more coffee. She opened the fridge and fiddled with her note paper, seeing out of the corner of her eye her mother turning to watch her.
“So does your father know you’re keeping it?”
“I think he’s forgotten it’s here and it seems to be comfortable. It’s not like I have to hide it from anyone, we’re the only ones who can see it.” She smiled in a way that said ’pleeeeeeease mommy can I keep it?’
Her mother sighed and rolled her eyes, returning back to her laptop saying nothing, which was normally a sign of defeat on her part.
Smirking, Vitania grabbed her list and her keys and headed for the door but stopped when she heard a whimper. She turned to see the Minks sitting at the top of the stairs, horns down and wings drooped, looking at Vitania as if it was about to be abandoned.
“You don’t want to come with me, do you?”
Immediately it perked up and flew down to her, and perched itself on her shoulder. She cringed only slightly at the initial landing as its talon clung into her skin.
“Alright, but you have to stay right here,” the words came out gritty and she pointed at her shoulder, “the whole time, don’t make me get you a leash.” It folded its wings down and sat there just looking around.
When she got in her car it sat on the dashboard with its fuzzy face pressed to the glass, sort of reminding her of a pug, except much cuter and with better balance. It swayed slightly with each turn or bump, but never lost its balance, and when they got to the mini market she reached forward to lift it in which it responded with a hiss and then hopped up onto of its own accord. Instead of flying off and investigating like she thought it would, the Minks walked closer to her face and ducked under chin, squishing itself as close to her as possible.
“It’s okay; none of these people can see you.” She whispered, and reached up to stroke its belly and it let out a strange noise, something like an old lawn mower trying to start in what she figured was the equivalent to a cats’ purr.
They walked over to the fruit stands and stealthily picked up stray berries, trying to look nonchalant as she fed it to the nothingness on her shoulder
She ended up buying two tubs of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, a cluster of grapes, a bag full of peaches, two pineapples and a bunch of bananas. Ignoring the weird looks from the cashiers she paid for her fruit and got in the car. For the ride home the Minks sat in the front seat, its face full of peach. By the time she was in the driveway the Minks had barely gotten through half of it and passed out.
“Well I’m glad you don’t eat a lot, I have enough fruit to last you a year here.”
She threw the peach pit into the garden, grabbed her bags and the slumbering fuzzball, and walked in the front door. Her mother was still sitting at the table and had to do a double take at her full arms.
“Well I figure if it doesn’t eat it we will. One peach and it was out. Dad really didn’t want me to keep this, he told me it can’t survive here.”
“Well Ardtrea doesn’t have winter.”
“I know, but the book said it can adapt, and it’s not like I’m going to be taking it outside in the snow. I could always make it a scarf or a sweater.”
Her mother shook her head and helped put away all the fruit. Taking the Minks back upstairs she set it on her pillow and began to think of another place she might be able to make up for it to sleep.
Unfortunately she didn’t have much time to mull it over before she heard a crash downstairs of splintering wood and a bang. She threw herself against the wall and opened her door just enough to be able to see through the banister. Although she wanted to, she didn’t dare gasp or make a sound, as she slunk out of her door, down the hall, and into the corner where she could see but not be seen.
Standing in the now broken door frame, stood three hooded figures. There were a couple things that gave them away as not being Vampires; one being they stood the same height as a normal human being, the other was that their cloaks were a maroon almost brown color and from the looks of it, it was a heavy fabric as if they were dressed for the worst winter. The center hooded figure stepped forward towards her mother who stood quite still, her thin frame coming off as calm and strong.
What came out could have been a man’s’ voice, but it could also have been anything’s voice. It was low, throaty, came out jagged, each syllable sounded as if there was something lodged in its wind pipe. When it talked it sent Vitania’s body into strange contractures, and the way it knew her mother’s name put her on edge.
“You aren’t supposed to be here.”
Her tone was sharp, the way it usually was when Vitania was getting in trouble, and annoyed.
“The situation has gotten out of hand.”
“That is not my problem. Coming here is breaking the Constitu-”
The one she was addressing reached out and grabbed her wrist, Vitania’s anger rose, but her mother just stood there staring into the back hole that was speaking to her.
“Just because you made the Constitution does not mean it cannot be used against you. There was no time to send a summons, we need you now.”
She continued to face the gaping hole and the tension in the room shifted slightly until it let go of her arm and looked around. Vitania quickly moved out of sight, unsure if it had already seen her, not knowing what it could see.
“You are alone here.”
The air everywhere became thicker, like it was moving closer to her.
“I detect another presence.”
“My daughter has three pets.”
“I detect something else. Something not from this place.”
As if cued, the Minks hopped out from Vitania’s room to the top of the stairs. It looked down upon the scene and flicked its wings, Vitania moved just enough to see the figure.
He made to move towards the bottom of the stairs and the Minks went into a rage. It bared all its teeth, which was actually three rows worth, its claws grew to three or four inches each, and it let out a sinister hissing noise and a growl that emminated strong enough to shake the nearest banister to it. The hooded figure stopped and watched the fuzzy little ball of fury.
“Never has a Minks acted in such a way, it is protecting something.”
“It has become fond of my daughter and made a home in her room.”
“We should return it to its home land.”
It turned to her.
“If it’s gone both my husband and my daughter will be very confused.”
“That is none of our concern--.”
“My concern is the sanity of my family, and if I am your concern, than what concerns me should concern you. The Minks stays.”
Vitania’s heart dropped. Why was she lying to these things that were trying to take her? Who, or what, were these people and why were they here?
The thing nodded and she watched her mother gather her things and her coat. She knew she couldn’t say anything because if whoever they were found out her mother was lying it would probably be bad for everyone, so she sat in the shadow and watched as the three figures took her mother out the door and away.
The sound of her heart against her rib cage, beat in time with each of her paws on the forest floor. Detalia’s stole a glance to see Tal running beside her. He growled in alarm warning her to look forward, and when she did she had to maneuver herself to quickly jump up and launch herself from a nearby tree trunk coming back to land beside him after avoiding the rather large pile of rocks now growing smaller behind her.
She had never felt so alive as she did when she was running, never thought she would ever experience life in such a way. Everything in her vision was crystal clear, pristine like she was looking at a picture that had every detail enhanced. To clarify the lines of the bark on the trees so she could see which groves were best for scratching against, to make the shadows of the forest even darker in some places but not at all sinister, to bring out any and every color in shades she had never imagined possible. She had never seen greens, purples, blues, whites, or even blacks, as vivid as she did when she looked through Lycan eyes.
And the smells, the scents she never even knew existed, everything had its own identity. Even when she wasn’t fully changed her nose was sensitive but right now it was exceptional, very time her paws hit the ground she could smell the fresh Earth she was kicking up, smell the way the moisture left the ground and floated around her. Every leaf smelled delicious, like a spring salad, and the flowers we so intoxicating like a fine wine. When it rained, every rain drop that fell smelled clean, like if she stood out in it, it would just wash away whatever problems she could possibly have left which were very few and far between.
While she was taking in her surroundings she had slowed to a sauntering pace finding the stream they loved to drink from, her and Tal walking side by side, their tails touching slightly here and there. She liked the way it felt being with him like this, being able to sense what he’s feeling, being able to sense he’s even there without having to look, it was security she had never had in a normal relationship.
Tal made a cooing noise and started to lick her face which caused her to kind of shake her head, she had to admit the whole tongue kisses was something she wasn’t entirely used to yet. He nudged her a little bit with the edge of his shoulder and she found her body being playfully pinned against the rock. She gave a low growl and stood on her hind legs. Tal followed suit but he was much stronger than she was and she ended up pinned to the dirt, his fierce yellow eyes blocking out any of her surroundings, which she was perfectly okay with.
Vitania waited for what seemed like forever to make sure she was alone, the sticky tension in the room lessening and the silence was her confirmation that allowed her to disintegrate into onto the floor. The Minks hopped over to her and onto her lap, mindlessly she started to pet his head and the Minks started to make that sound again that was its purr. What was she going to tell her father? How was she going to explain this? Would be believe her? Probably not, it would just be something else she had thought up, a hunch that wasn’t accurate because his beloved would never lie to him. And just because she was right about Detalia and the fact there was something, a demon at that, was not going to validate the tens of times she had been wrong before. She had a decision to make, and unfortunately for her and her father, it really wasn’t hard one to make.
She wasn’t going to say anything, to her father anyway. How could she, he was nowhere near her right now and she had never had to contact him when he was in Ardtrea so she had no idea how. He was going to be pissed but she was not waiting for him to return, there was only one way she knew how to get a hold of him, and he wasn’t going to like what she was about to do.
She went to her room searching for her hunting gear, she found it still showing some demon blood stains, even though her mother had washed it with a solution made specifically for this kind of filth. Her stomach twisted in a way she hadn’t felt before when she thought about her mother, and what might be happening to her. She forced the Vampire training that had been bred into her by her father to swallow emotions in order to gain clarity, shook her head and headed to her closet, throwing open the door and looking down on the weapon she was never supposed to use.
Inside was a weapon she had forged herself from the history books she read in the library. Usually it is forged out of a special material specific to Vampires in order to assist in their battles, but she had just willed a teacher at her college to let her use the melding room to make her weapon. Using the history book she forged a weapon and concealed it from her father, because it was a weapon that even he hadn’t used in forever. It was a staff that was as tall as she was, thin, and on the top sat four different blades. Two curved blades came out of two sides of the rod, and on the opposite side was two shorter spikes that emerged so when you looked at the rod from the top the blades made an x formation. She had followed specific instructions in order to make sure she could conceal it on hunts the way the Vitian officers did, and from her family. She stared at her home made weapon, moving the smooth metal of the Wick between her hands, and sighed in relief, for once it was going to come in handy.
She was already in the trees when she heard the beating of wings beside her, the Minks hovering beside her ear.
“Are you sure you want to come with me?”
In response it bared its fangs and let out a low growl.
“Well alright then.”
She dropped down in the clearing where the truck would have sat, walked up to the porch and began to bang rapidly on the front door. After about a minute Detalia opened the door and looked at the bow and arrows on her back and then at Vitania with a smile.
“You’re not here to hunt us are you?”
“We need to talk. All three of us”
The smile faded and she moved to the side so Vitania could walk into the cabin. Tal looked up from the kitchen table where he was eating and flicked his ear. Vitania could smell something in the air, something she felt ashamed for walking in on the after effect and tried to not let it show on her face.
“You guys did a good job of putting your place back together.”
“Why did you come here Vampire?”
“Tal!” Detalia blushed immediately at his brashness.
“I need to get to Ardtrea.”
He raised his eye brow and started advancing towards her, like her father she kept her emotions calm, she could out run him if she needed to. He asked, “Why?”
“Long confusing story short; some things in cloaks show, my mother apparently knows them, they said they needed her, she didn’t put up a fight but she was unhappy they were in the house, grabbed her shit and left. They are from Ardtrea, they could identify the Minks, but I don’t know what they are. They were too short to be Vampires, didn’t smell or sound like Lycans, they might have been Sealie but I think they were still too short. She lied about me being there so they won’t be expecting anyone to come looking for them, but I can’t go alone.”
Tal let out a disbelieving chuckle and waved his hands.
“What, so you want us to come with you?”
“I think it would be safer yes, if you don’t want to that’s fine, I can always go to Drean or the Viral.”
“Why don’t you just do that.”
“Because, I’d rather go with creatures I trust. Or at least the only creatures I’ve fought beside, ever.”
Detalia’s ears perked up at the positive reinforcement and looked at Tal, and expression like a pleading puppy.
“We aren’t doing anything are we?”
“Detalia, you’ve never been to Ardtrea.”
“Neither have I,” they turned to Vitania, “at least not that I count. I have not been back there since I was too small to remember anything. But you know at least some of the territory.”
“So you don’t just want me there, you need me.”
“More or less.”
“A Vamp asking for help from a Lycan, how odd is this.”
“I call it the start of something new.” Vitania tried to sound more hopeful than she was annoyed at Tal’s attitude of being needed by someone he considered a lesser being. They stood looking at each other for a few moments.
“So, are you going to come with me or not? Because I could really use your help,” she paused only for a moment and then added for good measure, “or you can wait until I go there, possibly end up dead and have my father come looking to the only other Ardtrean creatures in the mortal world and find my scent everywhere.” She didn’t really need the threat but the look of annoyance in Tals’ expression was enough to get the point across.
Detalia looked at Tal, Tal rolled his eyes and disappeared into a room that was directly behind him. When he came back out he was in what looked like a kind of protective gear and threw some at Detalia.
“Suit up babe, looks like we’re going.”
She did a little scream like she found out they were going on vacation to a five star resort, and went to change, leaving Tal and Vitania in the room alone. He walked up to her so they were face to face and his eyes went yellow.
“If I find out you’re setting us up Vampire, or Detalia gets hurt, it will be your ass on the line. The second it seems too dangerous or like we’re going to get caught by anyone from the Honesteade, we are finding the first direct route home.”
Detalia came out and Tal moved away from Vitania, Detalia looking at them strangely.
“Just securing our safety.”
“I feel perfectly safe with Vitania, Tal. I don’t think we need to worry.” She smiled reassuringly at him and at Vitania.
“Thank you, now all we need to do is find the rift or portal.”
“How do you suppose we go about finding the rift?”
“I think I might have an idea.” Vitania lifted up a side of the cloak she was wearing to reveal one slightly on edge Minks, eyes wide and apprehensively watching Detalia and Tal.
“Good luck, I would eat those for breakfast.”
“That’s why you both need to come over and make friends with it.”
“Okay!” Detalia came over and started to stroke its fur like a kitten, to which it responded with the tiny growling purr.
“You want me to make friends with my food?”
“When was the last time you had one of these?”
“It’s been quite a while, it would be nice to get a taste.”
“He got here somehow and he’s going to lead us to the rift, if, we are nice to him so, make-friends.”
“Come on Tal, it’s so adorable.”
He rolled his eyes and outstretched his hands to pet the purpleish fur. Slowly the Minks started to uncurl and take in the three of them petting it, “purring,” up a storm and rolling around in Vitania’s arms.
Detalia being the closest one to its face, got the first lick of the Minks showing it can be friends. It just looked at Tal and flicked its wings.
“Now, Minks, how did you get here?” It looked at Vitania and ruffled its fur. “Do you remember at all?”
It looked around the cabin, seeming to ignore her.
“This is useless,” Tal growled, “let’s just eat him.”
“Will you stop that?”
Vitania reached in her pocket and grabbed some of the loose berries from the market and opened her palm. The Minks sucked back a few berries and looked at the party in front of it, cocking its head to one side. Eventually it spread its wings and left the cabin. Tals sign of annoyance came out in a low growl, laced with a distaste Vitania couldn’t decipher.
Vitania and Detalia were the first to leave the cabin, following the Minks who rounded the corner and flew off in a South-West direction, Tal following closely behind Detalia.
Her feet barely touching the ground, Vitania chased after the small set of wings beating in front of her, darting in and out of the trees. If she wasn’t equipped with Vampire sight, or Vampire hearing, following the Minks in the now approaching dusk would have proven very difficult.
The three creatures were silent save for eight paws pounding the Earth, heavy breathing and the gently swishing of Vitanias’ cloak. It was probably hours later when the Minks finally came to a sudden stop to float in mid-air momentarily, before dropping to the ground and looking around, sniffing the air and the ground letting out a sort of whimper.
“Great,” Tals’ voice was no less than displeased, “it probably didn’t even know what the rift was and was just following the scent similar to the berries you fed it earlier. It’s a good thing we’re all great trackers or we’d never find our way home after being led out into the middle of no where.”
Tal was immediately silence and watched as Detalia moved her head to look around Vitania and pointed to something in the background.