The Endless War Rages On
A warm sensation filled Aaron’s cupped hands as he tipped the handful of water down his face. The boy gazed at himself in the mirror. He looked the same as before, his reflection had not changed, yet, he felt different. Everything about his new body clashed with his old self, from the way he sensed the world, to the new compulsion that constantly invaded his thoughts. Nothing felt the same. Aaron could hear every hushed whisper that passed through the halls. He could see everything, even in complete darkness. He could smell things no human could. The flowers in the courtyard through the closed window, the gagging scent of toilet cleaner that flooded the bathroom, and the sickly sweet aroma of blood that Aaron could never quite get away from. His senses had grown stronger since yesterday, and, with it, came the agonizing soreness that never left his throat. Aaron sighed as he again washed lukewarm water over his skin. The sun had long ago stretched over the horizon, transferring the sky to the waxing moon. It was almost time to meet up with Natsumi and...Tarje. The raven-haired boy tried his best to prepare. He had no idea what to expect from a class full of vampires, but he hoped to god they weren’t all like the blonde.
Aaron stood there in the silence for quite some time, before he heard a group of male voices radiate from the wall he was facing. The door squeaked open and three students walked into the bathroom. They all had white jackets. Using logic, it was pretty obvious that they were juniors. The boy in front had short, spiky red hair and golden eyes. To the left of him was a slightly shorter, thinner boy with long lavender hair and blue orbs. The other boy had a head full of messy brown hair and silver spheres. The boys were conversing with each other, quite loudly. However, they quickly hushed themselves when they realized they weren’t alone. The spiky-haired kid glared at Aaron. “Dude, what are you doing here?” The man’s tone was uneven, as if he was trying to maintain his anger and was failing miserably. The raven looked back at them, his azure eyes contained his confusion. “Um, washing my face.” The boys caught on to his genuine ignorance and looked at each other. “Are you a freshman?” Asked the violet. Aaron glanced at his navy blazer. “Couldn’t you tell?” A menacing smile passed down the line of juniors. “In that case, I’m Zak.” The redhead responded. He gestured to indigo-haired boy, then to his brown-haired counterpart. “That’s Eric and Cole.” The freshman sensed something sinister behind their smiles. “Aaron.” “Well, Aaron.” The red-haired Zak wrapped his arm around the British boy’s shoulders. The hostile intentions that radiated from the boy became stronger as he approached. “Since you’re new, I’ll explain the rules to you.” “Rules?” “Yeah, you see, the my family spent a lot of money on this dorm for the school, which means only people who I deem fit can just do whatever they want.” Zak’s strong aura dispersed slightly as he felt a sharp glare from Aaron. “I don’t think you know what donations are. You don’t own this place just because your parents gave the school some money.” With an annoyed sigh, he untangled the junior’s arm from him. “I don’t care what you guys do in your free time, but I got someone to meet. So, if you excuse me-” The raven-haired boy ducked under the junior’s arm and turned to leave. However, before he got anywhere near the door, his body was pressed forcefully against the cold, concrete wall. Pain flared in his temples as his head connected with the glass mirror.
Red hot rage exploded in the boy’s eyes as he looked up to see the redhead that pinned him to the wall. Behind Zak was his brown-haired and lavender-haired accomplices. “What the hell are you doing?” Anger darkened Aaron’s tone. The junior seemed amused by the boy’s temper as a playfully ominous smile stretched across his face. “You clearly don’t understand. You have no power here. We can’t just let freshmen walk around like they own the place. That’ll break the system. You have to earn that right.” Zak looked for any recognition in the boy’s eyes. However, he got nothing as Aaron hid his bluish orbs under his long, tangled bangs. An alarmed expression infected the sly stance of the juniors as a mocking laugh escaped the form of their suspected inferior. Despite being only humans, they could sense the shift in Aaron’s personality as the aura around him thickened. They felt hostile intentions from the boy. ”Power, huh? That’s funny...” The boy’s heart was beating so fast and loud that he could hear it pounding against his eardrums. The edges of his vision narrowed until he could only focus on the boys in front of him. The scent of blood overwhelmed his senses. It was all he could think about. Confusion churned in the eyes that stared back at him. “What is?” A malevolent grin appeared on Aaron’s face. “That you think that you’re the one with power here.”
Shock froze the boys as a sudden intense force rocketed them against the stall door at the other side of the bathroom. The screeching of broken glass and the sound of flesh careening with metal, as well as cries of pain rung throughout the dorm. Zak, Cole, and Eric opened their collective eyes, their vision hazy with blood. They hit the door so hard that the metal surface was dented. Trauma pounded their temples. Pure fear darkened the junior’s eyes as they looked up to Aaron. His azure orbs were infected with an inhuman, glowing hatred. The mirror, and even the concrete wall, behind him was cracked and shattered. As the raven-haired boy looked over the bloodied bodies at his feet, his mind became poisoned with the same, repeating phrase. ′Human blood...I need it...′ Aaron took a step closer. ‘Just a taste...and it’ll all be over...’ The boy looked down at his hands as borders of his vision faded to a dark red. As the freshman stood there, adrenaline flooded Zak’s body. He stood as fight flight took over his every move. He grabbed the arms of Cole and Eric, dragging them off the ground, as he quickly ran out the door.
It took Aaron several seconds to regain a normal state of consciousness as he rubbed the red out of his eyes. He looked from his hands to the dented metal stall to the broken mirror, and back to his hands. Confusion returned to his azure orbs as he tried to piece together what exactly happened. “Why did I do that?...” He wrapped his arms around his torso. A shiver went down his spine as his mind replayed the events of the last few minutes. He remember everything, but felt like he was seeing it from an unfamiliar perspective. The boy he saw in his memory, the one that shared his face...he didn’t him recognize at all. “Why did I say that?” Another uncomfortable shiver as he thought of that conversation. “It didn’t sound like me at all...” A sigh escaped his mouth as he check his watch. It was 10:42 in the evening. “Of course, I’m already late.” With one last look at the damage he’d caused, Aaron opened the door and left the scene of the crime.
The raven-haired boy gasped as the sudden frigid wind nipped at his skin. Aaron pulled his blue blazer closer to his chest as he made the brisk walk through the courtyard towards the Locus Lunae Dorm building. Strolling through the entrance, he halted in his tracks. The extravagant lobby, which was previously empty, was now crowded with coats of contrasting colors. Aaron tried his best to get through the hallway without having to clash with anyone else. He climbed the staircase in the center of the lobby and made his way down the passageway, until he stopped at the dorm labeled 104.
As Aaron opened the door, he was surprised how quiet it was. The living room was dark, except for a singular floor lamp. The solace beam of warm light softly reflected the long, blue strands of hair that flowed down the back of the couch. “Where’s Alex and Tarje?” Natsumi turned to the freshman as he closed the door. She stood to meet him by the entrance. Curiously, her hair was free from her flowery pigtails. “Tarje’s already in class. He didn’t want to wait for you, for obvious reasons. Alex, however...” Natsumi held a distant frown as her eyes drifted to the ground. A very unusual expression for her. “I haven’t seen him in hours.” “Is that normal for him?” As soon as Aaron asked, he knew the answer. The girl shook her head, her long locks of mint-tinted hair swayed as she did so. “No, it’s not.” They both stood in silence for several seconds. Aaron, eventually, raised his azure eyes to meet hers. “Are we gonna look for him?” Natsumi again shook her head and waved away his concern. “It’s a bad idea to get in his way. He’ll call if there’s trouble.” She turned to grab a black blazer with white trimming and a red tie from the back of the sofa. The girl spun around and offered the clothes to him. “Before we go, do me a favor and put these on.” Natsumi’s eyes locked with the boy’s confused gaze. “Why?” She sighed. “Your association with us has already made you a target. This field trip would be easier for me to handle if the entire student body didn’t know that you were an ignorant first year.” The raven-haired British boy ignored the subtle insult and received his new uniform.
After slipping on the ebony blazer and replacing his blue tie for a red one, Aaron followed Natsumi through the lobby. They passed the condensed mass of students, and into the spring night. They walked down the path parallel to the Night Dorm. A peaceful silence laid between them until they finally reached the entrance to an even bigger building. The construction of this lecture hall was much different from the other sites strewn about the campus. Instead of a colonial style, like many of the Locus Solis buildings, this was very much made with an Asian style in mind. The hall in front of them was a massive 15.24 meter (50 foot) high Japanese temple with a sloped tiled roof. The walls were made with thin painted wood, which were so old the color was worn and chipped. The doors consisted of two large wooden panels, several feet taller than them. The pagoda was such a spectacle that Aaron stopped in his tracks. The boy looked around the grounds in pure awe. To the right of the entrance, was a small boxy shrine that sat at the edge of a coy pond.
The raven-haired boy was pulled from the picturesque scene as a loud scraping, sound echoed into the distant twilight. Natsumi, holding the door open for him, gestured her head inside. Aaron nodded and stepped passed her. As soon as his eyes fully grasped what he was seeing, surprise halted his pace. Unlike his lecture hall, which was a long hallway with an endless number of rooms, this place was one, giant hall. There was abundance of large, wooden pillars that towered over the temple. The first floor was littered in comfy-looking wooden chairs. Some of which held students. Though, most of them were empty. A long, narrow rug sat on floor and stretched from the entrance all the way to the back. At the other end of the hall was an enormous vertical silk tapestry, which hung from the balcony. Painted on it was a beautiful replica of Mount Fuji with unidentifiable Japanese symbols. As the boy’s cobalt eyes scanned the terrace, he noticed something very unusual. Every person on that wooden platform, silently stared back at him with the same blue eyes, with not a single exception. The balcony students wore unique shades of hair and jackets, but shared that one trait. It was eerie, to say the least.
As the door screeched closed, the conversations were hushed. The clusters of students happily conversing in the middle aisle all turned to the raven-haired boy and the blue-haired girl in the entryway. Without words, the group dispersed. Aaron scanned the crowd with confusion in his eyes. He couldn’t read them at all. Were they happy to see them? Angry? In different? The boy couldn’t tell. Aaron was taken out of his thoughts again as he felt a hand curl around his arm. He turned to Natsumi. Her face was stern as she pulled him through the aisle way. The girl’s momentum didn’t stop until they got to the front. In the third seat to the left of the aisle was their favorite blonde, ill-tempered vampire. His crystal glare raised to the fledgling. “Of course you’re here.” He muttered. Natsumi sighed and sat next to him. “Quit with the pettiness. You know why I brought him.” Aaron hesitated before sitting next to the girl. He looked passed Natsumi to Tarje, who simply scowled back at him. The aura around him was suffocating. The raven-haired boy leaned back in his chair. He was thankful Natsumi was the moderator between them.
The three sat there for several minutes, not saying a word to each or even making eye contact. Aaron rested his head on the back of his wooden chair. He saw movement in his peripheral vision and he turned to find the source. The boy saw a soft, rosy smile reflected back at him. Sitting next to Tarje was a very small girl with short, layered silver hair and pale pink eyes. When her eyes locked with his, her smile widened. For whatever reason, he had a feeling that she knew him, at least based on the look she gave him.
“Hey, Natsumi.” Natsumi and Aaron turned to Tarje as he broke the sacred silence. “What’s up?” The blonde flipped his phone screen to face her. Aaron read the notification over her shoulder. It was from Alex. ′Come quickly. It’s urgent.′ The exemplars stood in unison. “Where are you guys going?” The raven-haired boy asked the partners as they passed him. Natsumi smiled down at him. “It seems Alex got himself in trouble, not unlike you. Just stay here. We’ll be back soon.” “After we’re done snapping the neck of the dumbass who attacked him.” The blonde-haired boy mumbled under a veil of anger. “I really hope you’re joking.” Aaron said. Sensing the blanket of hatred that hung around the boy, he could tell he wasn’t. Tarje didn’t respond. Nat giggled and patted the freshman on the back. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep him on a leash.” Blue hair swayed in the wind as Natsumi walked out the door, followed by the angered blonde.
Azure eyes turned from the closing entrance to the silver-haired girl that was now sitting beside him. She smiled at him. He returned the grin, as not to be rude. “Um, hi?” “Hello. I haven’t seen you before, so you must be new.” Aaron took a minute to decipher her intentions. Was she just being nice or did she have something more sinister in mind? He didn’t know how to respond. The boy felt so vulnerable without Natsumi and Tarje. “Yeah, I’m...a transfer student.” Her smile widened as she held her hand out for him. “My name’s Ella. I saw you talking to my uncle. From the way your conversation went, I’d say you don’t know him very well.” The boy neglected to shake her hand for he was taken aback by her words. “Uncle?” A second later and he figured out who she was referring to. “Are you talking about Tarje?” Ella nodded. “How is he your uncle? He looks sixteen.” Aaron lowered his voice for the next sentence, talking more to himself. “Though, he did say he was thousands of years old.” The girl giggled. “Yeah, Uncle Tarje definitely looks the youngest of the purebloods. My dad looks much older, despite being several centuries younger than him.” “Pureblood?” Her sterling bangs fell to one side of her face as she tilted her head in confusion. “You don’t know about them?” “Let’s pretend I was turned a couple nights ago and assume I don’t know anything.” Ella smiled yet again. “Purebloods are the last of the original vampire factions. They’re the ones who survived the Endless War.” Aaron gestured to her to explain further. The girl sighed. “The Endless War is the thousand-year battle between the vampire race, which resulted in our one-world faction. Ruled by the paragons, which hold the blood of Tepes. Is that enough explanation?” The raven-haired boy nodded. “Yeah, thanks.” He paused to process what she was saying. “Wait, why is it called the Endless War if it took place a thousand years ago?” Ella peered her ruby eyes around the room in suspicion before answering. She came closer to him and whispered in his ear. “Because some people think the war is still going on between the unified families, even to this day.”
“That’s ridiculous, Ella. Why would you say such a thing?” Both Ella and Aaron jumped by the sudden voice. They looked at the student staring down at them. The boy had a tall, fit form, with neat, cobalt hair and lilac eyes. Aaron could sense the same level of malicious intent as the juniors he met in Sun Dorm. As the boy wandered towards them, he immediately became suspicious. He wasn’t the only one that caught on to his mischievous nature as Ella directed a pinkish glare to him. “I’m only telling the truth, Lucius.” Lucius? That was a name he’d never heard before. Perhaps, it was one of the names of the other sixteen clans Natsumi told him about. “Nonsense, all you’re doing is spreading rumors.” He panned his gaze from her to the boy she was with. The Lucius boy gave Aaron a respectful bow. With azure eyes flooded with confusion, he took a step closer to Ella. When Lucius returned to his full height, an inch taller than the raven-haired freshman, he gave him a polite grin. The sight sent shivers down his spine. “I apologize if this child is bothering you.” “I don’t think I ever asked you to interfere...” Aaron gestured to the boy to introduce himself. He bowed once again, and again the British boy was uncomfortable by such a formal greeting. The blue-haired boy was treating him as if he was someone important and he didn’t understand why. “I’m sorry, my name is Dorian Lucius of Rome.” “Well Dorian, I-” Aaron was cut off as the silver-haired Ella chimed in. “For the record, we were having a lovely conversation before you came over here.” Dorian gave the girl a murderous glare that could rival Tarje. “How dare you interrupt him with your meaningless comments.” His violet eyes began to glow and he took a step towards Ella. Aaron stood between them in defensive manner. “Woah, dude. Calm down. It’s fine.” The raven leaned closer to the silver girl. “What the hell is wrong with this guy? Why is he treating me like some sort of royalty?” Ella glared at the boy like he was making light of the situation. “Because he’s talking to you, duh. The Lucians have always been close to the crown.” “What does that have to do with me?” The girl’s ruby orbs deepened their glare. “You’re kidding, right?” “It’s not a good idea to get too close to her. She’s a Nystrom Child. With the exception of Tarje, the majority of the faction are traitors and revolutionaries.” Ella’s glare turned to Dorian as those orbs lit up with frustration. “Let’s get something straight, I’m not a traitor.” She switched places with Aaron. As she came closer to the blue-haired Roman, pain pounded against his skull. He held his head in his hands. It felt like drums reverberating against his temples. Was this her power? Dorian looked up to her and his eyes turned the same shade of crimson. A glowing blue vignette appeared around the boy’s body. A shard of sapphire electricity formed next to him. Aaron’s instincts flared with the sense of imminent danger. The raven-haired boy stepped out in front of Ella as the blue fragment careened towards them.
The light chatter of the student body froze as an explosion erupted into the lecture hall. All eyes turned to the front as a blast of charged particles wrapped around the freshmen. Before the lightning storm consumed the bodies in the center of the cyclone, Aaron’s azure eyes ignited with a scarlet hue. The electric gale dispersed as an invisible force rocketed the neatly placed wooden chairs across the room in every direction. The smooth, wooden floor splintered and tapestry swayed violently in the unnatural breeze. As the chaos died down, all Dorian could see was the fledgling’s hostile glare. His foreboding, smokey aura added to sensed of danger he felt. Aaron took a step forward, causing Dorian to take several strides backwards. He turned and grabbed Ella’s hand. “Come on.” The boy looked to the Roman vampire, who stared back at him with timid indigo eyes. “Let’s go.” The silver-haired girl nodded and walked side by side with him, her rosy orbs gazed at the silently frightened crowd.
The two remained quiet until the door slid closed behind them. Aaron sighed and gave Ella her arm back. “Wow, that guy was a psycho.” “You’re new to all of this, aren’t you?” His cobalt eyes raised to his fellow freshman. “Is it that obvious?” Ella smiled. “You’re luckily that you’re so close with Alexandru Tepes. Most people wouldn’t dare go against you, for fear of him...” The silver girl paused, thinking back at his impressive and terrifying display of power. “And you, now that I think about it. You shouldn’t worry about your image...or fitting in. That’s never gonna happen because of who you are.” The raven-haired boy sat on the cold, concrete steps of the Locus Lunae Lecture Hall. His half-glazed glare stared out into the forest adjacent to the building. It was so dark, that it was hard to tell if it was actually there, or if he was just imagining it. “Why do I feel like you’re hinting at something?” He asked as he rested his head on his open palm. The silver-haired girl glared down at him as she crossed her arms. “Are you intentionally trying to live in denial, or are you really this dense?” The boy returned the glare and opened his mouth to respond. However, his thoughts were wiped clean as a scream echoed into the night. Whatever the voice said was jumbled and impossible to decipher.
Aaron stood quickly and they both stared silently into the misty, darkened woods that stretched around the back of the campus. The freshmen looked at each other. Their eyes shared their concern and confusion as they waited. Now that they were listening closely, they realized how empty the forest felt. It was eerily quiet. Not a single sound could be heard. That was, until they heard the scream again. “Alex!” This time was voice was crisp and it was clear it was female. The pitch was very familiar. Based on that and the context, they knew exactly who it was. “That’s-” “Natsumi...” Aaron finished Ella’s thought. Just as they spoke, greenish-blue smoke erupted from the tree line. Followed closely by a ribbon of water. The rosy red eyes of Ella widened as shock darkened the hue. “That’s Tarje!” The raven-haired boy glanced back at her. “You sure?” She nodded. “He’s the only one with that ability on campus.” Her eyes locked with her fellow freshman. “It looks like they’re in trouble. You should go. I’ll call security in case things get bad.” The silver-haired girl took his hand and lead him to the entrance to the forest. As she looked at him, she saw confusion staring back at her. “Why? What can I do to help them?” Ella’s face was stern. “Just go.” Picking up on the serious shift in her tone, he nodded. Aaron stepped over the grassy boundary into the wooded wasteland. He took one last passing glance to Ella, before turning on his heels. His momentum started as a light stroll, but he soon picked up the pace to a large stride and eventually ended in a panicked run. Aaron had not idea where he was going, but he knew he had to get there as soon as possible.
After several minutes of aimless wandering and various cuts and bruises from running completely blind in the dead of night, Aaron finally got close to where he saw the light show earlier. He heard an assortment of disembodied voices, a handful of which he recognized. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” From the aggressive tone and the hard-to-place accent, that must have been Tarje. Aaron slowed to a crawl as he approached a rather large clearing, that sloped downwards into a round pond. He stopped as he stumbled onto the scene. What he saw shook him to his very core. So much so that he was convinced that his heart had stopped all together. Nevertheless, he still continued to absorb everything that was happening. There were several bodies laying in the clearing. He couldn’t tell who was breathing and who was...Tarje stood above them, his arms crossed. He seemed more frustrated that he was forced into this situation than in anyway concern about the puddles of blood in which he loomed over. When Aaron’s eyes locked to the amount of red that was being absorbed into the damp dirt, he wondered how it was possible that he didn’t notice it before. His throat dried whenever he even got close to a human body, and yet all of his senses except sight had failed him. The freshman shook his raven head, clearing his thoughts. He focused back on the scene. To Tarje’s side was Natsumi, both of her hands ended in sharp, blueish points. Her long, blue hair was matted with dirt, twigs, and blood. She was winded, like she had been at this for awhile. In fact, both exemplars seemed to have reached their limit. Alex, who was positioned in front of them, stood with a strong, calm stance. However, Aaron’s instincts picked up on something very concerning. He smelled the aroma of rusted iron in the air, but it didn’t at all resemble human blood. His azure sight soon caught up with his nose when he saw a drop of blood fall from Alex’s battered arm. He looked up to see his uniform had been torn forcefully open and a large gash shown through the rip. The dark-haired Romanian held his upper arm, in order to stop the bleeding. However, the blood kept coming. Why was he bleeding? Why wouldn’t it heal? Perhaps it had something to do with the seven figures that stood across from them.
Aaron looked at them closely. He hadn’t noticed the students before, as if he was unintentionally blocking the group from his perception. The seven teenagers were all around the boy’s age, maybe slightly order. Their hair color and height all varied. From left to right was a girl with short, hot pink hair and two identical twin boys, both with neatly cut ebony bangs. By far the oldest of the group was a woman, maybe 19 or 20, with long, straight charcoal hair. This girl, unlike the kids behind her with various colored uniforms, was definitely not a student. She stood in front of all of them. From her posture, it was safe to say she was the one in charge. To the right of her was three more students. A girl with curly emerald locks, a short boy with a mop snow-white hair, and a boy with very long magenta hair that was tied in a loose ponytail. Despite the very diverse hairstyles, every single one of them had blue eyes. Shock flooded through Aaron’s body. Their orbs were the same as his, down to every shade and highlight. How was that even possible? Even Tarje’s eyes were a slightly darker tone.
The black-haired woman took a step forward and crossed her arms. “This is our last offer. Give us the fledgling and we’ll be on our way.” Natsumi gave her such a potent glare that Aaron could feel her hatred from where he was. “You still want to negotiate after what you’ve done?” She motioned to Alex and his injury. Alexandru Tepes kept his amber eyes locked with their guests. “What I don’t understand is what you want with him? What could the seraphs possibly do with a vampire fledgling?” His voice was soft and the pitch was steady. However, Aaron could sense how uneasy he was. Tarje walked up to the Romanian’s side. “I think it’s pretty obvious they don’t want the Tepes family to become too powerful. Aaron is a loose cannon, which makes them nervous. That’s also why they attacked you as soon as they got here. A weaker opponent is more open to negotiations.” “Pretty presumptuous of them to think they could weaken you to that point.” Natsumi joined the two.
As the three conversed in a hushed manner, Aaron watched the seven seraphs stand silently. However, as he surveyed the scene from behind an evergreen trunk, his teal blue vision crossed paths with one of students, the olive-haired girl to the right of the leader. When she realized he was staring at her, her rosy lips stretched into a menacing grin. Aaron felt a horrible aura around her and an anxious shiver ran down his back. “Looks like the fledgling paragon finally decided to join us.” She said as she took several steps closer. That anxiety Aaron felt turned to a wave of dread. “Wait, is she talking about me?” The raven-haired boy whispered to himself. Natsumi and Tarje looked back to where she was staring, both gave Aaron the same murderous glare. However, all became distracted as the girl with the sea-foam green hair held out her hand. In her outstretched palm, appeared a tall, elongated spear made of pure silver. She twirled the hilt in her hand. However, that was not what caused the color to drain from the freshman’s face. That feeling was reserved for the few moments after when something erupted from the girl’s back. The event was so unexpected that Aaron didn’t register what it was at first. When his brain caught up to what his eyes were seeing, his body froze in place. A pair of pristine wings, with a spread of approximately 4 meters (12 feet) emerged from the bottom of her blouse. The faint light of the moon glistened off the porcelain white feathers, which puffed up and fanned out, like a bird trying to intimidate its prey. Aaron watched as her feet lifted off the ground. That’s when the realization hit him like a bag of bricks. “They’re angels...” The girl with the emerald locks flew towards him with increasing momentum, spear leading the way. Despite all his instincts screaming at him to move, he just stood there. The same cobalt hue reflected back at her as the weapon connected with its target.