It was the second evening in a row when the first thing I saw after waking up was Mark. He doesn’t waste any time, does he? He wanted to find Rhea and confront her about the letters. I decided to play along, since I didn’t want him to find out that I knew she had them. Well, not knew, per se, but strongly suspected. Albert joined us and we went to our old crypt, since it was the only location I could think of where she might’ve been. In a way, that’s very clever of her, although it does indicate a certain lack of trust in us. But again, should she trust us? Should anyone trust anyone? These doubts are getting more annoying than my lust for Felix.
Just when we started wondering where Rhea might be, suddenly, out of the blue, we heard a voice say “I was always here”. We turned around, and guess who it was? I don’t like to admit it, but she startled me. Maybe because I’ve been on edge lately, or maybe because I’m a coward. Nope, I’m definitely a coward. Mark didn’t waste any time here either, as he went straight to business. He wanted Rhea to admit having stolen the letters, and, to my surprise, she did. That was a bit unexpected. They started arguing about whose idea was more beneficial to the group and I must admit, in a way, I agreed with them both. Mark wanted to secure us a feeding spot, and Rhea wanted to give one of us a boost in the kiddie pool food chain. One thing I really didn’t want was to get involved in all this and that was exactly what they were trying to do. I was the “nominee” for the feeding grounds in the Spot as well as the main “candidate” for the signature – both features, although immensely flattering, I clearly did not deserve. And then they asked for my opinion. I didn’t know what to say, nor did I know whom to support, so I stuttered like a fool without actually contributing to the argument. Luckily, the conflict was soon resolved as Mark gave it up and went to Tina. Albert volunteered to join him, which was not that surprising. I knew something was up between Tina and him, and although I know it’s none of my business (I’m not usually so nosy), I guess I got really curious about the nature of their relationship. Maybe because romance is a thing we usually associate with humans and I’m trying desperately to cling to my humanity.
When they left, Rhea offered to teach me how to fight. I agreed, since I obviously needed guidance in the field. As far as fighting is concerned, I’m both a coward and a wimp. A lovely combination indeed. I guess rock climbing doesn’t prepare you for a fist fight. As we walked back to the crypt, we talked about the letters and I expressed my thoughts on the matter. Not that it mattered any more, since it was already decided. I admit, I did feel bad about Mark a little. If his intentions were what he said they were, his plan might’ve been highly beneficial in the long run. On the other hand, how long are we gonna stay here? Years? Decades? A signature, no, a chance for a signature is something really rare, on the other hand. So giving one up might not be a wise choice. At the same time, expecting that we’ll get enough signatures for the whole team isn’t wise either. It’s only a matter of time before we split up. We’ve got to make the most of our teamwork before that happens, I guess.
Turned out Rhea knew quite a few useful fighting moves, so I definitely had a lot to learn. We don’t spend much time together lately, so I wanted to enjoy the training session as much as I could, before Mark came and yelled at us (to get our attention, I assume). Now I know he’s a Nosferatu, but I’ve known him for some time now, and that was the first time he looked really scary. Great, scared twice in the same day… He brought a green letter, which he got from Donald. Luckily, it was the exact colour Rhea was missing. Mark told us that Daniel had also collected all the letters, so we had to act fast – only one vampire would get that signature.
Mark and Albert left once again and Rhea and I started planning. She led me to her current whereabouts, which was another crypt in the cemetery. I assume I was the first one to see. In fact, that was not the first big secret she’d shared with me only. I guess she trusts me and I value it deeply.
Now that she had the whole set, we were able to read all the messages. The instructions said we had to come to the Founders Bridge at the first rays of the sun and pick the third… The third what? Great, more mysteries. To make the matters worse, the last message was “I am God’s Holy Monster.” Hah… My mom would immediately ask “Which God’s?”. That wouldn’t solve the mystery though. We already knew where the Founders Bridge was, so we had the where covered. It was the when that posed a difficulty, since it was clear what “the first rays of the sun” implied… I suggested getting a car to the bridge; we could cover the windows with something thick, like a torn body bag. Rhea agreed and she went to investigate the bridge.
Later, she called me on the phone and informed about a change in plans. She decided to spend the day in the hotel and, as it later turned out, she even got as a room with a lock. When Albert and Mark returned, I told them about the plan and we went to the hotel to meet up with Rhea.
We stopped to feed on the way there. I thought it was the right moment to talk to Mark about the Ordo Dracul. Now I know I wasn’t too thrilled to join any of those sects at first, and frankly, I’m still not too happy about it, but I realise joining one might benefit me greatly. The Dragons do all sorts of research and this is exactly what I need right now – I need to understand my current condition from a scientific point of view. Or at least as scientific as it is possible. Mark told me many things about the dragons, and the importance of their studies was one of them. “A Dragon has no loyalties above his studies.” That sounds reasonable. The Dragons are also interested in using our condition to their advantage, to become better, stronger, more resilient. I remember I once talked to Gerardas about becoming human again. He’d told me that the Dragons were among those who’d come closest to achieving that goal. If that is true, joining Ordo Dracul is something I must seriously consider. On the other hand, Mark was rather vague about the joining conditions. He told me he’d give a recommendation on my behalf. How thoughtful of him. And this, once again, brings me to the topic, which would probably keep me awake during the day weren’t I a vampire (though if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have to think about these things in the first place). Do I trust him? Does he have an ulterior motive? The thing that put me off in the beginning was his eagerness to get me into Ordo. But maybe he just wanted to be helpful. I guess there’s only one way to find out. I’ve got to take the red pill. I wonder if it comes with a leather trenchcoat and insane acrobatics?
When we reached the hotel, we took Rhea and immediately went to the bridge. We only had half-an-hour before the sunset. So there was the bridge. And now what? We had to pick the third out of… something. Well, I picked a rock. This was pointless. Maybe we’d misinterpreted the message? Then we noticed some of the grass broken by the shore… It looked like spaces for boats. Four boats! Are we supposed to wait for boats? At this hour?
Suddenly, we heard voices. It was Daniel and his gang. Sure took them a while to come here, though. Rhea quickly obfuscated Albert and we all sat in the places where the boats were supposed to be. When the gang reached us, Daniel told us to get out, but neither of us replied. I, personally, didn’t know what to say. A conflict was imminent, or so I thought. Albert, however, turned out to be a quick thinker (I’m not surprised). When Daniel called out again, he dominated the poor schmuck and the rest of his team. Oh the irony. I can only imagine how mad he might be if he remembers the whole ordeal afterwards.
The sun was soon to rise, so Albert and Rhea took off with Daniel’s gang, leaving Mark and me to wait for… for something. I wanted to believe that the boats would show up at the last minute, but we could already see the first rays of the sun and they weren’t there. To say I panicked was an understatement. We’d gone so far, it couldn’t just end like this. And then…
Well, the next thing I remember was a sharp pain and Mark’s face when I opened my eyes. Then he disappeared. Then the pain again. The boats. The boats were there. I must’ve fallen asleep. When I was steady on my feet, we had to choose the third boat. But which one was the third? All four boats stood there in front of us. We decided to board two different boats – I chose the second on the left, and Mark went for the second on the right. The man on the boat asked for a password. Of course! That God nonsense! I uttered the last sentence from the letters and the man motioned towards a barrel. I crept in and as he closed the lid, we began moving. We sailed for a while, I wasn’t even sure how long, when the lid was lifted and the sun cut at my skin like a thousand knives. It’s a pity, really. I cannot express how much I missed the sun, and yet it was so deadly at the same time. What a poetic way to die, though. I’ll definitely consider it, if it comes to this.
The next moment my barrel was knocked over and I fell into the water. It took me a while to realise I picked the wrong boat. Did it mean that Mark picked the right one? I sure hoped so… Though I felt it was Rhea who was supposed to be there, yet I shouldn’t exclude Mark, either. If anything I was the least worthy to claim that victory. And so I ended up in a river, tired and wounded… I tried swimming against the current, since if I remembered correctly, it was the right direction towards Kiddie Pool. After a while I saw a cave. I felt like I should rest there, at least until the sunset.
When I woke up, the water was black. I swam to the shore and saw Felix, of all people, standing on the river bank looking angrily at me. Suddenly that cave being there made a lot of sense. Talk about invading privacy… That, in fact, was the matter he wanted to… discuss with me. He likes to look threatening, but he doesn’t look like an idiot, so frankly, most of his threats seem more like bluff. Or at least I am biased against people who throw threats left and right without a valid reason. Though, is there really a valid reason for threats? It wasn’t fear that made me talk, either. I just didn’t want him to think I went to his cave on purpose. I told him the whole story and I think he believed me, though he didn’t seem amused by the whole thing. Dammit, man, what do you find interesting? Don’t tell me you sleep 20 hours a day like a lion… A lion who lives underwater. Merfasa… Haha…
He turned around to leave and I remembered that I wanted to ask him about demons and will workers. As with the whole letter-hunting ordeal, he said he didn’t know anything about them. Will I become so disinterested with my surroundings when (if!) I get out of kiddie pool? He told me to live simple and not involve myself in anything of the sort, to which I said that I only got into it to help a friend. Well, a friend of a friend, to be more accurate, but still. His answer was the same.
We talked about friendship and again, what was it – the third time today? Indeed, the third time today I was reminded not to trust anyone. I tried to argue with him, yet deep down I agreed with most of what he said. No coterie ever stays together for long. I won’t argue with that, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t form coteries. Surviving on your own is nearly impossible, and although we aren’t human anymore, we still have the instinct to get into groups, I guess. Plus, even if the coterie brakes up, there could still be someone who you’d consider a friend.
But then he brought up backstabbing, which made me think – was he betrayed? Maybe he was so bitter about forming friendships because he was once badly burned? He said getting too attached to people is too big of a risk to take, but isn’t it worth it? Doesn’t what you gain from a friendship make it worth the risk? And there I remembered my younger self, when I was very skeptical of romantic relationships. Frankly, I still am – I hold friendship above romance, and the only way a romantic relationship can have any value at all is if it’s based on friendship. But it wasn’t a bad experience that formed my opinion, it was… Well, it was mistrust. I used to have a hard time letting people get too close to me, and love seemed like something incredibly irrational, and, worst of all, uncontrollable.
I don’t know what happened in Felix’s life, and I didn’t want to ask any unnecessary questions. However, our conversation got me thinking about things. He said there hadn’t been a single coterie that stuck together after getting out of the kiddie pool and that there was a reason why the elders didn’t form coteries. So is my attachment to my coterie a remnant of my denial? My inability to accept the inevitable, embrace my condition?
Live a simple life and don’t get into unnecessary trouble… Easier said and done. He didn’t continue the conversation too long and I didn’t have anything to say to him either. Frankly, I still can’t understand why I’m so attracted to Captain Grumpy. When he left, I decided to stay on the river bank for a while, in case… In case Mark showed up.