[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Wrist & the Snake (Temp. Title)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

The air was extremely crisp and fresh and smelled of freshly fallen rain. Everywhere he looked, Wrist could see the glistening of rain that had just passed overhead giving all the greeny a dazzling glossy sheen that twinkled in the sunlight that was finally shining through after two days of heavy downpour. 

The dampness was of no matter to Wrist though – he still rushed towards the trees and wrapped himself around it, using his feet to work his way up to the branches of these tall, wide, and sturdy trees that were quite a bit aways from the village. He quickly reached the top of the tree tops, gazing up above. While he couldn’t see the village very from there, he could certainly see all the smoke floating up from the homes. 

His face darkened at the site of the two of them, despite the brightness of the sun that was just so close to setting, but still high up enough in the sky to keep it blue in color. 

“Ngh.” Wrist pushed himself onto his hands and knees from where he was sitting on the tree branch and worked himself down the large branch. Just before the branch got too thin for him, he stood on his feet and carefully balanced on the branch. He looked down at the ground far beneath him. While his stomach turned a bit, he couldn’t help but smile. What if I fell and died right here? Would anyone even find me? 

With that thought, he lept across onto the sturdy, large tree branch across from where he had been. 

“WRIST!” 

“WHA!” 

Wrist suddenly found himself tripping backwards and falling. Without a second thought, he grabbed onto the branch he had just fallen from, allowing it to bend and lower him only a short distance from the ground. He gasped for air as he let himself down, holding his chest. He supoorted himself with his other hand on his knees and glared at the young woman, only a few years older than him, who was glaring right back. 

The young woman who stood in front of him wore her dark crismon hair up in a tight bun and minus a few looks hairs raining down in the front of her face was all pulled back and tucked away. Her arms and legs were well-toned. Her body was wrapped in a tunic with a large belt with the village’s usual markings upon it. Her upper arms and lower legs were wrapped tightly with strips of fabric. Overlayed on the belt shaping the tunic was a thinner belt with numerous small bags, items, and sharp objects. Slung over her shoulders and hanging by her waist were weapons. Her lilac-colored eyes bore into Wrist’s scowling face. 

The young woman yanked out one of her throwing knives, pointing it right into Wrist’s face. “What do you think you’re doing again?” 

Wrist clicked his tongue. “You almost got me killed!” 

“You’re going to be killed if you don’t come back.” 

A sacrastic smile spread across Wrist’s face. “Are you saying you’ll kindly do that for me?” 

The woman twirled the throwing knife in her hand and slipped back into its designated pouch on her weapon’s belt. “Absolutely not.” 

Wrist and the young woman both continued to leer at each other. The young woman balled her hand and threw her thumb over her shoulder. “The rain’s cleared and the first thing you do is run away. You’re gonna make your mother cry.” 

“Lilac…” 

“Don’t you dare ‘Lilac’ me.” 

Wrist groaned and rolled his eyes, turning on his heel. He walked back to the tree he had just been on. He wrapped his arms around the tree, only to feel the back of his cloak being yanked on. “Seriously, Wrist, come on.” 

Wrist let go and turned to Lilac. “I’m not going back right now.” 

“I know you have jobs to do.” 

“I do, but not while Bulb and the others are around.” 

Lilac lifted up a fist, shaking it in front of Wrist’s face. “You just need to give them a good WHACK and they’ll stop bothering you.” 

Wrist pushed her out of the way, walking away from her. “That’s easy for you to say! You’re a warrior! I’m just a nobody.” 

“…”

Wrist squatted down to the ground, holding his head. He could feel the rain drops rolling off from the trees on the back of his neck. The cold water droplets felt calming to his nerves, but just couldn’t get rid of the deep sensataion that seemed to be boring a hole into his stomach.

“…what were they saying?” 

Wrist could feel his eyes gloss over. “The…the same as usual.” 

He could feel Lilac closer to him, but she wasn’t touching him at all. This wasn’t too surprising for her. In fact ,this conversation wasn’t too surprising. 

“They…were calling my mother a whore again and that…I hang out here…in the forests.” Wrist hugged his legs. “They were making jokes about me getting bit and dying by a snake.” 

Wrist stood up from the ground and moved over to the tree he had climbed earlier, leaning against it on his back. He covered his face with a hand, glancing over at Lilac. Lilac’s normally stern face appeared soft and her ears completely open to his words. 

“It’s pretty much messed up though that I want a snake to bite me just to me out of my misery.” Wrist hung his head and chuckled. It was a low chuckle just full of melancholy. “They don’t even know how much I want that.”

“That…isn’t why you always come to the woods is it?” 

Wrist sighed. “No.” He shook his head. “I come here to be alone. You know, the trees don’t judge me and it’s the only time I feel calm.” Wrist lifted himself off the tree he had been resting on, turning to place one hand upon its trunk. He raised his head, looking up at all the glistening branches. “I almost forget I’m even alive when I come here. It’s like I just melt in with everything.” 

Wrist looked at Lilac. He watched her lips twitch like they often did for literally everything – she was thinking. Finally she tapped her fist into her palm and she nodded. “Okay, Wrist. I shall let you stay out here…but please don’t get bit by a snake. They really are out here: dishonest, sneaky, and posionous.” Lilac then sighed. “The last thing I need to do is inform your mother died because of something that could have been easily prevented.” 

Wrist waves his hand at her. “Yeah, yeah, okay.”  

With that, he began to walk away from the trees and deeper into the woods. It didn’t take too long before Lilac was out of sight. The subconscious thought wondering if Lilac had left on her own or had he really wandered far enough away to no longer have her in view surfaced, but wasn’t fully formed. His shoulders shurgged and he found himself getting close to the trees surrounded by numerous shrubs. 

Wrist’s shoulders were heavy and he found himself no longer being able to stand up. His legs collapsed and he laid his back against the tree for support. He allowed his whole body to go limp, loosely gazing at the greenery all around him. 

“Why did she even have to have me?” 

He moved his hands into his legs and slumped forward. His whole body was heavy. He was completely enveloped in his own inner turmoil that swirled around like dark storm clouds that threatened to suffocate him. 

“I don’t mind her and it just being us and all…why is it so weird to be without a dad even? Not my fault he left and never came back. I think mom really love him though.” 

He sat back up, allowing the tree to support him behind him. “Would things be any different even if I had my dad around?” He paused for a moment, feeling the swirling turmoil within his body. Nothing cleared – instead, the turmoil thickened. 

Wrist winced. “No…I don’t think so. Gods, they’re jerks…calling my mom a whore!” He pouted and hugged his knees. “Well, maybe they wouldn’t call her that…where do they even get off calling her that…grrrr…” 

Wrist let his body fall onto the grass beside him. “I just want it to end already. I wish I could just kill myself, but that seems too hard.” He looked up to the sky, seeing the tree’s leaves shaking, almost as if they were mocking him. “No one care anyway, except maybe mom.” 

“Are you shhhhure about that?” 

Wrist jolted up from where he was laying with a gasped, head whipping towards the slightly deep, soft voice with a subtle hiss. 

Staring up at him was a grey-green snack with accents of yellow. Wrist watched as the snake, who had been peeking its head out from the bushes, slithered out from underneath and towards him. 

Wrist yelped and immeditately stood on his feet, stumbling away from the tree that had once been supporting him. 

All the tension and turmoil that he had been feeling had immeditately disipitated like salt into water. It was soon replaced absolute terror at the sight of such a snake so close to him.

There are actual snakes here?! 

The snake stopped several feet away from the absolutely petrified wrist. It’s eyes smiled at Wrist, only caused him further unease. Even the mouth of the snake seemed to curl up in an equally friendly smile. “I can ashuuuuure you, I am not poisonousssss…at leasht, not to large animalsss such as yourssself.” 

Wrist blinked HARD. And his mouth dropped. He unconsciously leaned forward, just staring into the face of the snake. It TALKS?! 

“I alsssssso have no interessst in biting you,” added the snake. 

Wrist couldn’t help but scream! “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!! A TALKING SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!” WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!

“My name is Ssserpensss and yesss, indeed, I can speak.” 

“You have a NAME?”

“Yesss. Don’t you?” 

Wrist leaned forward, compeltely wide-eyed, his face completely facing the snake. “Yeah, but I ain’t telling you it!” 

“It isss fine for now.” 

Wrist took a step back and turned around. He held his head, shaking it. “A snake…a TALKING snake…oh gods, this is worse than a poisonous snake! Why can something like that even talk anyway!” I’ve never even heard anything about that before. 

“I wass born with thiss ability.”

Wrist halfway turned his body to look at the snake. His mouth gapped open and his brow furrowed. “How…?” 

“Mussst you really ask such a question? Sssimilar to you, no doubt.” 

Wrist turned fully around, sighing. He covered half his face and shook his head. “I didn’t mean it like that.” He then put one finger into the air and continued. “I’m wondering how you even have the ability to talk in the first place. I’ve never even heard of snakes doing such a thing.” 

“It indeed isss not very common, even amongssst us snakesss.” 

“What kind of snake are you?” Wrist rasied an eyebrow. 

Serpens paused for a moment and cocked its head. “Hmm…I sssuppose I don’t really know. I have been alone for a very long time.” 

Wrist put his hands on his hips. “Alone? Just how old are you?” 

Serpens slithered forward. “I am sssstill fairly young, but I have no parentsss that I know of – therefore I cannot answer such a question.” 

Wrist pouted. “Hmm…” 

Wrist glanced over to the tree close by him, then walked over and sat down. It was then he realized that his facial muscles and his whole body had started to relax. Wow, he thought. 

He watched Serpens slither on over to him, now only about a foot away. Wrist crossed his legs, allowing the snake a bit more room to slither forward. Wrist himself leaned down, curiously looking into Serpens face. “So, you’re Serpens?” 

“Yeeesss, that is correct.” 

“If you have no parents, how’d you get that name?” 

“I sssimply named myself once I realized how helpful it is to have a thing to be called beyond ‘ssssnake’.” 

Wrist crossed his arms, closed his eyes, and began to nod. “Makes a lot of sense. There’s a lot of snakes out there.” 

“Yess, indeed there are many.” 

Wrist uncrossed his arms and leaned on his hands, using his knees like a tabletop to prop them up. “You are so strange. I’ve never heard anything about talking snakes before – just of being poisonous, dishonest, and overall bad.” 

Serpens seemed to smile. “Asssss I sstated earlier, I am poisonousss to ssmall animalss, but not large onesss such as yourself. I am aware that usss ssnakes have a poor reputation, but I can ashure you that for many of usss, it is sssimply not the case.” 

Wrist chuckled. “So the snake would say.” 

Serpens cackled back. “I sssee you have a ssense of humor!” 

Wrist’s eyebrows rose. No way, I’m boring. 

Serpens cocked its head. “Iss there something wrong?” 

Wrist turned his head slightly away, pouting. “Not really.” 

“Ah…isss it worry that I perhapss am truly bad?” 

Wrist gasped and shook his head. “No! Not at all! I’ve never believed in that crap anyway.” 

“Ooh, that is fasssscinating. The origin of such a reputation stemss from another planet, after all, and has entered popular thought in many placesss, from what I can understand/” 

A giant smile rose across Wrist’s face and he snapped his fingers. “HA! I knew it!” 

Wrist watched as Serpens snapped backwards for a brief moment. Wrist scratched the back of his head, laughing. “Ah…sorry about that. I just…I’m sick of hearing about how evil snakes are from my village. It’s getting tiring. I don’t even know why they say crap like that, but it’s annoying. I didn’t think that was true.” 

“Ah, ssso you are from the nearby village?”

Wrist nodded. “Yeah. I live there with my mother.” 

Serpens seemed to frown. “You mentioned that sshe would be the only one to misssss you if you had died.” 

Wrist suddenly felt the heaviness from other creep in over his shoulders and over his body. Wrist downcasted his gaze to the damp grass underneath him. He balled his pants into his heads. 

Serpens slithered closer to Wrist, his head hovering above Wrist’s knee. Wrist pulled back a little on pure reaction. He eased himself back into place after taking a deep breath. “May I ask what is trouble you?” 

“…” I can’t do that. 

Wrist stayed in his downcasted, balled fist position for what felt like forever. HIs hands became all sweaty and hot, contrasting with the cold he felt inside. Serpens also seemed to be frozen in place, on periodically blinking up at Wrist. 

“You sseem very troubled,” remarked Serpens, breaking through the silence. “May I offer my assssssistance?” 

Wrist shook his head. “I…can’t bother you with it.” 

“You are not a bother to me.” 

Wrist turned to Serpens, bitting his lower lip. His eyes widened. I can actually talk to him? Will he make fun of me? Wrist glanced over to the side, briefly pouting. No, I don’t think Serpens is like that at all. 

Wrist leaned forward, looking at Serpens. He opened his mouth, feeling the slightest smile on his face…and then froze. Fear hugged his lower waist. “I…I can’t do that.” 

“Do you know the reason you cannot?” 

Wrist frowned. “I don’t have any confidence in either one of us, so I don’t really want to talk about it.” 

Serpens tongue briefly lashed out of his mouth. “I ssseee.”

Serpens’s friendly smile seemed to reappear on his face. The snake lifted its body a bit higher, almost reaching Wrist’s eye level. “If you do not mind, could I perhapss learn your name now?” 

Wrist’s lips part. “Ah…yeah. I’m…Wrist.” 

“It is nice to meet you, Wrisssst.” 

A small smile made its way across Wrist’s lips. The tension that had hugged him earlier seemed to crack underneath the weight of such an earthshattering act against his inner turmoil. 

“You can tell me more when you are ready.” 

The smile on Wrist’s face grew. “Sure.” 

Wrist turned his gaze back to the sky, noticing that the blue sky was tinted orange. He looked back to Serpens, who appeared to have looked up in the same direction as him. 

“It mussst be time for you to be heading back to our home.” 

Wrist groaned. “I don’t wanna.” 

“Once night fallssss, finding your way back will be that much more difficult.” 

Wrist clicks his tongue. “I’ll be fine.” He held the back of his head. “No one’s gonna miss me anyway.” 

Suddenly, Serpens was in his face, hissing loudly. His large, sharp fang were beared and his tongue lashed. 

Wrist yelped and find himself crawling backwards. “SHEESH!” he gasped. “I got it! I got it! I’ll head back!” 

Wrist took one final look at Serpens – who suddenly appeared calm and smile one more, seemingly waving good-bye with his tail – and ran away, all the way back to the village.

“Ugh!” Dang that snake! He really gave me a scare…I don’t think he meant any harm. I don’t really want to go back, but I don’t really want to see what Serpens would do if I didn’t… 

***  

Wrist slipped in-between the darkened parts of the village’s roads, keeping his head down as to not be seen. It only took a few minutes, but he soon came to a door with a glowing light through the window and smoke curling up from the chimney. He opened the door quietly and slipped inside. 

“Wrist?!” exclaimed a voice, rather sing-songy. 

A forced smile popped onto his face in meer reaction to the voice. Peering out from behind an open doorframe was an older woman with rather youthful features. Her face was calm and cheerful, but there seemed to be an air of bubbling emptiness about her. 

“Hi mom.” 

The older woman placed a hand on her cheek. “Out playing in the woods again?” She chuckled. 

“Yeah…” 

“I’m glad you came back in time for dinner – it’s almost ready.” 

Wrist nodded and slipped into the kitchen just as his mother disappeared back into it. He watched her go back to the stove, adding a few last pinches of herbs to the stew that was boiling on the stove. 

Wrist walked over to a washbasin and poured out some water, rubbing his hands and face clean with the lukewarm water. He then dried them quickly with a towel hanging above it. He looked even further up, seeing an adorably framed photo with his mother that was signed with her name, Armella. How could dad ever even leave her? She’s beautiful even now. Is he stupid? 

Wrist let out a sigh. Not that it would probably matter. His eyes looked at his mother, who seemed completely oblivious to the way Wrist was pouting and mulling over everything. 

Wrist slipped into the dining room table, situated in the middle of the rather large kitchen. He sat back, just looking down at the placements as his thoughts wandered. His eyes traversed the intricate designs of the faded placemat and his eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to the snake hidden in the back corner of the illustration. 

clack 

His head shifted to see his mother placing down a cup of water beside him. “It should only be about a minute.” 

He could see the snake illustration reflected in the water.

“Hey, mom?” 

Armella stopped for a moment, her gentle smile like bubbles floating in the air. “Yes, Wrist?” 

Wrist tapped the snake on the placement with his fingers. “How did snakes get such a bad reputation anyway?” 

Wrist turned his gaze to his mother. His eyes slightly widened in surprise. His mother’s normally relaxed eyes squinted ever so slightly and her brow folded. Her smile shrunk into a loosely pursed pout. Has she made that before? 

“What…a strange thing to ask!” remarked Armella. Her usual smile returned back to her face and she turned around, going back to the stove. Wrist could see her shutting off the stove and ladeling out the stew into large bowls on top of a tray that also contained bread and a small salad. 

Wrist grabbed the back of his head, scratching the nap of his neck awkwardly, glancing down at the snake illustration. I think it’s just weird we’re all afraid of snakes for no reason. Is it really that strange? Wrist pouted. …Serpens is probably the strange one. Is it even worth mentioning it… “Nah…”

Wrist’s mother brought over both trays skillfully like a veteran waitress at a restaurant. “Did you say something?” she asked, placing the trays down on the table.

“Ah!” Wrist looked up at her and then to his food, then back at his mother who situated herself across from her. “Liliac. She mentioned there was snakes around when…she tried to get me to come back today. And I was wondering why everyone is so afraid of snakes.” Wrist ripped a piece of bread and dipped it within the stew. He could feel his stomach tighten. He stuffed the soaking bread into his mouth, attempting to relax his own nerves. 

“Oh!” Armella laughed. “So that’s what it is! Lilac, that girl!” Armella took a spoonful of stew and blowed on it. Wrist looked like she was on the verge of humming. 

Wrist hung his head. What is she thinking? 

“But we’re not talking about Lilac, are we? I think I know something about why the village doesn’t like snakes.” 

Wrist’s whole body perked up. Every single sound in the room seemed to amplify as if his ears had just popped and cleared. “You do?!” 

Armella laughed. “Yes. I think I do, anyway.” 

Wrist found himself leaning forward and his mother putting down her spoon, leaning forward herself. Both of them supported their heads with their hands and their elbows on the table. 

“There was this really common story growing up about a young girl who was tricked by a talking snake into stealing an apple that she wasn’t supposed to touch at all and ended up hurting not just herself, but everyone else.” 

Wrist felt himself flinch. ‘Talking snake…’

Armella suddenly burst out laughing. “I always thought that was such a silly story! A talking snake? How can such a thing even exist?” 

Wrist went pail. “Heh…y-yeah…” he mumbled, although inside, his mind couldn’t help but float back to Serpens and his friendly demenaor. Maybe…he was actually trying to hurt me. 

“I think it was to just help us young ones not get close to snakes. They’re poisonous, after all!” 

The lightness of Armella was almost blinding. 

The light bubbliness of Armella contrasted greatly with Wrist, who was drowning in a mess of confusion that knotted and twisted him in all sorts of ways he couldn’t even quite describe. 

“Ah!” gasped Armella. “I forgot!” She then giggled, lifting up her hand. “I also heard there was a really bad snake infestation when my parents were growing up. They got rid of all the snakes, but it was very bad – I heard a lot of people died and homes were lost in the process of trying to get rid of them all. I’m sure everyone is still scarred from that!” 

Wrist watched his mother pick up her spoon and start downing the stew quickly. He watched her smile spread from ear to ear as the whole tray started to be cleared. Every single thing about his mother was light and bubbly. 

I…who is this woman and how is she my mother. She’s so happy. 

“Wrist, eat your food before it turns cold.” 

“Yeah…” 

Wrist lifted up his fork for the salad and began to dig in. This can’t even turn cold. It’s already cold. 

***

Wrist tossed onto his side and grumbled. Could he really have been trying to trick me? His lips twitched in thought. And that guy seemed to friendly too…

Wrist stared at his wall, only illuminated by the moonlight shining through the blinds of his window. The slight cracks in the wall reminded Wrist a lot of the movements Serpens had made as he had silthered closer to him during the day. What would he want with me though? I’m just a depressed kid who wants to kill himself. No one, except maybe my mother, wants me around and honestly, I’m so tired of all of this. He said he wasn’t poisonous to me…but maybe he was lying…? 

Where’d that story of the girl and the talking snake come from anyway? What kind of fairytale was that? Well, I guess it showed a good moral…but does that apply to Serpens? 

Wrist’s eyes went wide. He pulled his blanket up to his chin, continuing to stare at the moonlit wall. Whoa! What if that guy’s a demon just pretending to be a snake? There was something off about him too…rightt? …

Wrist relaxed his body with a sigh. “Nah…” he whispered into the dark. Serpens is a lot kinder…than…most people…I…know…..

And with that last thought trailing off, Wrist dozed off into a deep sleep. 

Wrist hugged his bookbag close to his chest, walking through the wide-open space that lead directly to the school billing. His whole body was tight. Why couldn’t there just be another way to school? he whined to himself – something he did on an almost daily basis.

Unlike most buildings in the village, the school only had a single road leading directly to it. Wrist could have easily slipped past everyone anywhere else like he often did to get home without being seen, but the school building was just an open walkway with no alternate routes. He couldn’t help but wince. 

He let out a sharp gasp as two arms hit his shoulders. Wrist’s face went pale at the deep voice he could hear beside him. “Heeey, son of a whore, you still didn’t get bit yet?” Wrist didn’t even want to look up. He could already tell the guy speaking to him was smirking. The middle of Wrist’s abdomin prickled like needles. 

The other boy there cackled. “What are you waiting for?” His grip tightened on Wrist’s shoulder. “No one cares about you anyway.” 

Wrist’s legs still moved forward, but his eyes were frozen and glued to the ground in front of him. His vision was blurry as his eyes glossed over.

His book back was ripped from his arms. 

“HEY!” yelped Wrist, finally looking up at his bullies. Their faces were dark and their grins sharp. Wrist watched as his bookbag’s contents were poured out in the middle of the street. His lunch containers spilled open, its contents going all over the ground. 

The bullies cackled. 

“Oh no, the wittle son of a whore lost his lunch!” 

“Maybe he should go suck a dick like his mother does!” 

Wrist put up his hand, as if he was going to reach out, but completely stopped. Why do they always…

“YEOWCH!” 

Wrist gasped, looking at both bullies. Scowling at both of them was Lilac, who had single-handedly lifted them both up by the wrist. Her lips were slightly pursed and a single eyebrow was raised. “Bulb, Ginko, stop bothering him.” She tossed them to the ground, Bud and Ginko’s hands landing smack-dab in the middle of the soup that had spread itself across the ground. The partially disgusted look on their faces only lifted Wrist’s mood ever so slightly.

Lilac leaned forward, pointing a throwing knife into their faces. The two bullies flinched. “If Wrist really goes and gets bit by a snake, I’m blaming the both of you. Stop calling his mother a whore simply because he doesn’t have a father and stop suggesting he does things that hurt him.” 

A smile slowly appeared on Wrist’s face. Lilac actually showed up. 

His smile dropped the moment and saw Bulb and Ginko glancing back at him. Their once petrified faces twisted upward. 

“Wow, the son of the whore needs a glrl to defend him? What’d you do? Sleep with her too? You’re pathetic! Just go back to the brothels!” 

Lilac proceeded to kick both bullies into the head, their heads thumping the spilled books on the floor. 

I…I let Liliac defends me. I…what kind of person am I? Wrist held his head and glanced up Lilac, who eyed him back with a question in her eyes. 

Wrist turned around. I can’t burdern someone with something like this! And then he dashed away, in the opposite direction of the school.

He could hear the cackling yelps of the bullies behind him. “That’s right! Run away! Go back to your brothel! Or better yet, go back into the forest and don’t come back! Whore boy!” 

The faintest sound of Lilac’s feet hitting the two bullies resounded in the air, but Wrist dare not look back. 

Wrist ran and ran and ran, passing through the backstreets and making his way out of the village and into the wide-open forest who seemed to have its arms open wide for him. “Stop calling her a whore, stop calling me a whore, stop it, stop it, stop it,” huffed Wrist underneath his breath over and over again as he ran.

The trees seemed to thicken wherever he was. 

THUNK 

KA-THUMP 

Wrist tripped over a large tree root and fell face first into the dirt. His nose shot up in pain. 

It was just the thing to crack him.

Tears began to rain down his face. He yanked at the grass on the ground in front of him as if it were his own hair. His sobs reached the air and he drew his head back. “STOP. CALLING. MY. MOTHER. A. WHORE!” 

He allowed his head to drop back to the ground. His forehead kissed the dirt. His shoulders twitched with each haggard breath. “Stop telling me I’m too sensitive. Stop telling me to suck dick. Stop assuming I’m just like my mom and stop assuming she’s something she’s not. Stop making fun of me for not knowing my dad and stop…stop it. Stop it. STOP. IT!” 

Wrist drew his knees underneath his chest. “I get it, I get it. I’m not wanted, I’m not needed, and everyone would be better off without me and my stupid sensitives and existence around! I’m a terrible person who has to rely on others for help and I can’t even defend my own mother! I’m pathetic!” 

“I thought I heard a familiar voice.” 

Wrist’s tear-stained, dirt-caked face turned into the direction of the voice. Slithering up from behind the tree was the smiling snake, Serpens. Wrist sniffled, his bottom lip quivering. “W-what do you want?” he asked nasally…after all, his nose was stuffed from all his crying. 

“You ssseem upset. Why are you crying?” inquired Serpens. Wrist watch Serpens stop only a few inches away from his face. 

Serpens was smiling, but unlike the mocky smirk of the bullies, Serpens’s smile was gentle and caring. The snake’s eyes, although certainly worthy of the fright they had initially given Wrist, still seemed to be filled with kindness and light from the sun reflecting upon it. 

Wrist turned away. “I’m done.” 

“Done with what?” 

“Everything. I’m completely done with everything. I’m done being bullied. I’m done not having a dad. I’m done having to rely on Lilac to defend me and my mom having to help me with everything. I’m done being worthless and being alive. I don’t want it anymore. I’m better not being here at all.” 

“Oh, dear. This is the ssstate in which you are in?” 

Wrist shoved his hand at Serpens, hitting the snake’s scaly lips. “Just poison me already.” 

Serpens gently bumped Wrist’s hand away with its head. “I have already told you, my poison does not work on animalsss as large as you.” 

Wrist whimpered. “I remember.” 

“And even if I could, I have no such interest in poisoning you.” 

Wrist got to his knees and threw his head back. At the top of his lungs and into the surrounding forest, he screamed: “I WANT TO DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!”

Birds hidden within the trees burst out as if carrying the echo of Wrist’s words. Tears stung his eyes that seemed to draw up in their saltiness. The seeping hole within his core made everything around it heavier. His heart strained. Wrist slowly looked down at Serpens, who’s gaze only slightly soothed his aching heart. 

“Wrissst, may I ask what happened? You appear to be dissstraught.” 

Wrist glanced away from Serpens. His lips trembled. “…don’t wanna…” 

Wrist could feel the gaze of the snake piercing him. He could feel pressure building up in his throat of everything he was thinking and what he was feeling about what was there, deep inside of him. 

Wrist shot furrowed brows at Serpens. “…” 

The wind rustled the trees and Wrist’s hair, but that was all that seemed to move within the moment of silence. The air was thick and heavy. Wrist could clearly see Serpens’s concern written all over the snake’s face and Wrist could feel that he wanted to say something so desperately. 

What is this snake doing to me? 

“I can’t stand it anymore!” vomitted up Wrist. “I’m ALWAYS bullied, always having to be saved. They call my mom a ‘whore’ and tell me to go get bitten by a snake! I’m told to be like my mother and to go away. I’m made fun of for not knowing my father. My grades suck. I’m always getting in trouble even when it’s not my fault. No one cares about me, no one likes me, and all I want to do is die! Why did I have to be born in the first place? Death seems a lot more pleasant than this…why am I even here?!” 

Tears flowed even heavier from Wrist’s eyes than before. “I’m sorry I’m a burden to everyone. I can’t stand anyone, not even me! I’m the worst! No wonder I’m so hated. I don’t want to bother anyone anymore…I just want to die. At least then they’ll be free of me, the biggest burden of them all.” 

“Why do you conclude that you are a burden? I see that there are people whom love you,” replied Serpens. 

Wrist sniffled. “D-doesn’t m-matter. Even if they love me, I’m still burdening them by existing. Why did I even have to exist in the first place…” Wrist wiped his tears with his cloak. “The least I can do is die and go away forever.” 

“Do you truly want to die?” 

Wrist lifted his head, stared Serpens straight in the eye, and replied “Yes.” 

Serpens’s eyes narrowed slightly. Wrist felt himself flinch. The gaze felt as if Serpens himself was slithering all over Wrist. After a good moment of the uncomfortable leering from Serpens and Wrist’s sniffling, the snake cocked its head curiously. “Do you wish all of you to die or only a part of you?” 

Wrist wiped his eyes, followed by a sniffle. “What the heck does that mean?” 

Serpens slithered closer to Wrist, coming only a short distance away. The snake gazed right into Wrist’s face. Except, to Wrist, there was something absolutely terrifying about it in the sense of being absolutely exposed. Why…why do I feel like I’m naked everywhere? 

“Not all deathsss are physical,” replied Serpens. “Not all deathsss are entirely mental either.” 

Wrist buckled to his knees as his head began to pound. “I…I really don’t get it. Serpens, what are you even talking about.” 

Wrist looked between his fingers, seeing Serpens close to his face. 

“I can sshow you, but I will need your permisshon first.” 

Wrist’s body became heavier and he collapsed on the ground. His head seemed to be spliting. “Argh! I don’t know! Just kill me now!” This headache’s gonna be the death of me. 

He could hear the flickering of Serpens’s tongue. “I shall take that as permission to proceed.” 

Wrist could feel Serpens’s scaly head bump gently onto his left hand and the next think he knew, the headache was gone…along with everything else. Wrist was suddenly on his feet, surrounded completely by darkness, except for his own body which was illuminated with its own mysterious light that seemed to be radiating off from his skin. 

“What the…?” whispered Wrist. 

He looked down to his left arm and gasped, watching as Serpens quickly slid up the left side of his body and coiled around his left arm. Wrist winced at the constrition his arm was under, although much to his surprise, there was no actual pain, just pressure. 

Serpens then slid across his shoulders and around his face and his neck. He slid down the right arm and coiled it just the same as the left, causing Wrist to wince a bit more under the pressure. He then watched Serpens coil his body all the way down to his feet, dropping down into a circle. 

What is he doing? 

Wrist looked down at the side of Serpens face. 

All of a sudden, Serpens lept up, barring his fangs. Wrist let out a gasp and looked up to stump away, but instead found Serpens hitting underneath his chin. 

Wrist let out the most blood-curling scream he had ever set out in his life as Serpens seemed to shoot through him and out of from his head. And with him, everything that had threatened to kill him. 

His skin and his organs felt like they were on fire. As the heat cleared, from his feet to his head in small waves, every single ill feeling that had been consuming him for years had completely disappeared. 

Wrist’s eyes widened. I feel…light! 

A slight heaviness suddenly dropped onto his shoulders. Wrist looked down and over, seeing Serpens drapping himself like a necklace. “What are you—?!”

Serpens slipped down into Wrist’s back. Wrist could feel the snake enter in through hole in his back – something he knew just should not have been there – and trembled. What…what is even happening?! 

The light on illuminating Wrist’s body increased intensely, blindingly so. Wrist covered his eyes. 

When the light faded, Wrist found himself in front of a lake in the middle of the darkness, with his own naked reflection staring back up at him. Around his neck was now a snake pendant and snake motifs covered parts of his body like tattoos. One over his heart, one around his left arm, and one on his face. He slightly turned around, noticing that there was one linging on his back and on his right leg. 

Wrist gasped and blinked. When his opened, he was back in the forest, completely clothed. 

“Serpens?” he called, looking around. His hands went to his neck and pulled open the top of his shirt, peering down. Around his neck was the exact snake pendant he saw in the dream…or whatever the heck he had just experienced. His eyes located the snake tattoo over his heart as he peered a bit further down. 

Wrist looked at his left hand and the back of his right leg. Peeking out from underneath the fabric were the markings he had seen. “Serpens,” he whispered. “What the heck WAS that?” 

Wrist reached into his shirt and pulled out the pendant, taking a good look at it. 

Then, cutting through the atmosphere like a cold blade was a rather familiar voice of a young woman. 

“What did you just do?” 

Wrist slowly turned around, seeing Lilac’s face dark with absolute horror. Her face seemed to twist in anger. 

Wrist’s eyes narrowed curiously, noticing his body seemed to be completely absent of fear or annoyance he normally felt when Lilac approached him. Wrist took in a deep breath and smiled a small smile. “I asked to die.” 

“By making a deal with a SNAKE?!” 

Wrist shrugged. “I don’t think I made a deal with Serpens. I just agreed to let him show me what he meant.” 

Lilac took a step forward, with drawing her sword. “Do you understand that you’ve just forsaken not just yourself, but the entire village?! You were tricked by that dishonest snake! Everyone will be killed – not just you – for what you have done!” 

Lilac thrust the sword into Wrist’s face. 

Wrist didn’t even flinch. Instead, he looked at the shiny blade glistening in the sun, finding himself wondering what the peace he was feeling from within his body. I would’ve been scared even a few moments ago. Maybe even angry…no…I’d definitely have been angry. Wrist slightly tilted his head. Why am I so calm? 

A pressure came to his throat and went to go open his mouth to speak, but something in the back of his mind protested. ‘Don’t say a thing’ it said. ‘You did something wrong! You’re getting in trouble!’ Wrist pasued for a moment. Am I really wrong though? I don’t think so. I don’t think the village is in trouble. His gaze met Lilac’s murderous one. But I don’t really want to say anything…

Wrist, ssspeak your heart.” 

Serpens?! 

Yess, I am within you now. Sspeak the truthss in which you have uncovered.” 

Wrist found himself placing both hands over his heart. He met Lilac’s muderous gaze straight on and gently pushed her sword out of the way with his hand. “Serpens isn’t like that. He’s not going to kill the whole village. He didn’t even kill me. Just…” Wrist lips twitched in thought. He found his consciousness dive deep within his body, finding the right words. His throat seemed to be lit up again as what he needed to speak surfaced. “…just the parts of me that weren’t me and I no longer needed.” 

Lilac huffed. “You keep referring to this ‘serpens’. Who is this person and what do they have to do with any of this?!” 

“Serpens is the name of the snake.” 

Lilac’s jaw dropped, still looking absolutely filled with murderous intent. “The snake has a NAME now?!” 

Wrist lifted his head. “Serpens has always had a name. I don’t like how you are accusing him of things he’s not doing. He couldn’t even kill me, even when I asked him to. He’s actually really kind.” 

Lilac’s sword slowly lowered to the ground as Lilac held her head. “‘Kind’? What is next? You love him? How do you even know such things about a snake?” 

Wrist found himself smiling. “Simple,” he replied, on the verge of laughter. “Serpens can talk.” 

Wrist watched Lilac’s hand holding the sword tremble and her murderous gaze transform into one of pure horror. 

Lilac withdrew her sword and turned on her toes. At the top of her lungs, she began to shout “WRIST IS CURSED! WRIST HAS BEEN CURSED BY THE TALKING SNAKE!” 

Wrist couldn’t help but find himself chuckling. The back of his hand rubbed his eyes, noticing the smallest of tears were starting to dot his eyelids. “Serpens, what did you even do to me? I feel so light. It’s like you ripped everything out from me that had been causing me problems. I think my head is still getting used to it.”

Wrist heard Serpens chuckle himself from inside his head. “That isss indeed what hass happened. I have torn what was not yourss from your body. It may ssstill remain in your mind for a while longer, but that’sss ssomething time and experience shall heal.” 

Wrist found himself smiling, despite his tears. “Wow. That’s…that’s amazing. I’m not even angry that Lilac tried to murder me or that she thinks I’m cursed. I’m pretty sure everything is about to get a lot worse, but I’m so light and at peace, I don’t care.” 

“Is it that you do not care? Or is it something else?”

Wrist grasped his chin. “Hmmm…I think it’s something else. It’s more like…I know that there is something better for me.” 

And do you know what it is that you must do now?” 

Wrist found his consciousness drop back down into his body. 

His tears became strong as up from the depths of his being rose the answer. 

“I…need to leave the village.” 

Iss that ssomething you are okay with?” 

Wrist folded his hand’s over his heart. He found himself smiling despite his tears. “Yeah, it’s fine. I’ll miss my mother, but maybe I can visit her one day again. Even if I can’t, it’s okay. I just hope she will be okay without me.” 

Wrist scratched the back of his head. “I should really go get something’s though before I head on out, huh?” 

If that issss what you wisssh.”

“Yeah, it is.” 

***

Wrist swiftly made his way through the back roads, hearing Lilac’s screams and echos of many others at the announcement of his “deal” with Serpens. He stayed hidden within the shadows, only allowing himself to look like a flickering shadow in the dancing fire lanterns hanging in-between the roads as he passed through. 

He slipped through the side gap near his house and leaned against the wall, listening and peering in through the window, cautiously looking for any sign of upset. 

His soon-to-be-former home seemed innocent and untouched. He could see his mother cleaning the living room on the other side. She must not know yet. 

Wrist made his way over to the front door and slipped inside, immeditately going to his room, with the lightest footsteps he had ever used before. He drew a satchel off his door’s hanging rack and began to fill it with what he thought he would need for his trip. 

Don’t over think it,” said Serpens. “Allow yourssself to be guided by the truthsss deep within you.” 

Wrist nodded and allowed him to relax, all while placing what he could feel floating up from deep within him into the bag. After a few minutes and a full bag later, he pulled the drawstrings and buttons closed. I think I am good. 

“Wrist?” 

Wrist looked towards the door as he tossed the large satchel over his arm. He found himself pausing for a moment, seeing the questioning look inside of his mother’s warm eyes. 

Wrist smiled softly. “Hi, mom.”

“Where are you going?” 

Wrist found his feet walked right up to her, placing a hand on her shoulder. His smile grew, but it still remained soft. He watched as his mother’s eyes followed the snake marking on his face and her lips slightly part in quiet surprise. 

“I have to leave.” 

Armella’s hands folded over her heart. Wrist watched his mother briefly cast down her gaze before looking at him back in the eye. Her brow slightly furrowed. “When will you be back?” 

Wrist closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He dove down deep into the depths of his being once more. Within the endless darkness floated up a bubble with the answer all the way to his throat. It popped and out from his mouth came “Not for a long time.” 

Armella let out a quiet gasp. Her arms grabbed her son’s shoulders. Her eyes glazed over and she was looking at him up and down. 

Wrist leaned forward and gave her a huge hug. 

“Mom, I love you,” he whispered. “I’ll be back to see you again. Thank you for not giving up on me.” 

Wrist let go and walked past Armella, just as she gasped and covered her mouth, choking back tears. Wrist felt nothing but love radiating in his heart – not anything romantic, but love is the purest sense. The kind of divine love that most humans don’t even know how to express.  

Wrist slipped back out the door and into the night. 

***

A knock came at the door and Armella finished blotting the remainder of her tears from her face. She took a moment to look into the mirror, checking her face. Oh dear, I must look terrible. She placed a hand over her heart and sighed. I am grateful the lighting is the way it is…

She waltzed over to the door as if she hadn’t been crying just a few minutes ago. “Coming~~!” she sung, reaching the door. She opened it, seeing a group of people with numerous weapons and torches in hand. Armella’s heart thumped in her chest as she forced a smile on her face. 

“Hello, Salenor,” Armella greeted. She put a hand to her cheek and tilted her head, hoping her eyes were glittering in the brilliant way they normally did and not like she had been crying. “What ever brings you here?” 

“Have you seen Wrist?” 

Armella frowned, shaking her head. “Nooo, I haven’t seen him all day. I think he’s probably playing in the forest again, that silly son of mine!” She followed it with a giggle. 

But Salenor in front of her wasn’t laughing. 

“I need to speak to you,” said Salenor. 

“Um, okay. Did my son do something?” inquired Armella. Her voice slightly quivered, but an innocent smile still stayed plastered on her face. 

Salenor motioned to the group behind him, with two men stepping up behind him. Salenor and the two men entered into Armella’s home. Salenor gently tapped Armella’s shoulder and she followed them into her kitchen. 

“You will want to sit down,” said Salenor. 

Armella went over to her refridgerator. “Oh, but don’t you want something to drink?” 

Salenor shook his hand and head at her. “There is no time for that.” 

Armella cast her gaze down and nodded, walking to the table, sitting down. She folded her hands as she looked at Salenor. “Why are you looking for my son? What did he do?” 

Salenor’s face darkened. “I was informed by Lilac that your son made a deal with the snake from the legends.” 

Armella let out a scoff, followed by a chuckle. “Those stories? They’re not true.” 

“I am afraid they hold truth.”

Armella’s eyes met Salenor’s. 

Salenor appeared to be grim. “According to Lilac, he made a deal with a talking snake. I am sorry, Armella, but he must be killed for the sake of the village.” 

Armella gasped and covered her mouth. The tears that had just finished stinging her eyes drying up fell once more and she found her body tremble. Wrist, run! Run so far! Do not let them catch you! I don’t know why you would make a deal with the snake, but please, live! Please…

***

“Hah, did you hear them?” asked Wrist, completely shielded in the night. The forest seemed to grow thicker and no light from the village far behind them reached them. Wrist could no longer hear the village yelling, or at least, he was pretty sure. The sound in the air just sounded like wind and maybe, if he listened hard enough, a waterfall. He smirked. “They think I’m cursed.” 

Do you think you’re cursssed?” 

Wrist flicked underneath his nose. “No way.” He lifted his head up towards the starry sky peeking through the trees. “The curse isn’t me or what I did, but how the village thinks. I don’t know who placed the curse on them like that, but I hope I can undo it one day.” 

Oh, a dream?” 

“Yeah, I think so!” Wrist replied, followed by a chuckle. 

How will you undo the curssse that was placed on your village?” 

“Hmmm…” Wrist grasped his chin. “I’m not really sure yet, but I’m sure I’ll know when I get there.” 

What a wonderful anssswer/” 

“I have a lot you need to teach me before I get there, I bet.” 

Yess, indeed. And let me teach you another lesssson: humanss often cursse themselves.” 

Wrist nodded, his smile still high upon his face. “Hmm…I see…yeah…I can see that. We curse ourselves through our thoughts and the actions that follow them, yeah?” 

I believe you will learn and undo the curssse in very little time!” 

Wrist laughed. “That doesn’t answer my question>” 

Wrist could feel Serpens smile from within him. 

Wrist placed his hands behind his head, taking a deep breath. He listened to the soft sounds of his footsteps and the occassional crushing of leaves underneath his feet, making his way even deeper through the forest. His own movements seemed snake-like as he turned corners and just walked where he was guided, managing to avoid everything that could have caused him harm. 

When the wind seemed to quiet down, Wrist turned inward. “Serpens,” he called. “Why’d you show up to me on that first day?” 

I ssssimply wass near by. But it isss in my nature to help those who are like you.” 

“Like how? Depressed and ready to die?” 

No,” replied Serpens. “when someone is about to be reborn.”

Wrist’s relaxed smile changed into a large green. An unrestrained laugh belted out from his mouth and bounced off every tree in the forest, echoing back an otherworld whisper that signaled Wrist was being reborn. 

**END**

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Untitled Spark & Vainstrel Story 4

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

Vainstrel could feel is body shake with stage-fright, although he hadn’t had stage-fright since he was a young vampire child. The only thing that was causing this fear of failing was the beautiful, spunky witch excitedly looking over the cellphone case in her hands. Sparks were literally flying off and around Spark as she gushed.

“This is absolutely, absolutely stunning! Just look at all this gorgeous detail! Goodness, Vainstrel, I can’t believe you would drop more money on me like this again, all with a cellphone case of this quality. And look! It even lights up when I feed it electricty!” 

Vainstrel’s cheeks flushed a pleasant red, although his legs were fidgeting. What is wrong with my body and my heart? For I have not been as nervous since I first set foot on stage. This is the scenario in which I have practice over and over both within my mind and without…stage fright, you no longer need to have a hold on me!

Vainstrel glanced up at the waiter, who quietly put down their drinks – Vainstrel’s usual earl gray tea and Spark’s spicy hot chocolate. 

“Oh! Hot chocolate’s here!” Spark placed her new phone case onto the café table and took a quick sip of her hot chocolate. Vainstrel watched her tremble.

“Mmmmm!!! Just what’s needed on a nice cool day like this!”

Vainstrel nodded. “Indeed, it is, lady Spark.” He lifted up his own tea and took a sip himself. Unlike usual, he couldn’t taste anything. If there hadn’t been a cap on his drink, it probably would’ve spilled out everywhere. At least he could still feel the warmth on his hands. 

Vainstrel took a very brief look around the café area – they were seated at the side of their usual café, near the cobblestone streets. They were fenced off with beautiful iron lattrice fencing and grouped with a few scattered tables for outdoor dining. The day itself made it still considerably comfortable to sit outside, but there was just enough of a chill that made hot drinks like theirs welcome.

Vainstrel’s eyes darted back to the table, watching Spark place down her hot chocolate cup. She brought out her phone and started to push it into the brand new case Vainstrel had so kindly bought her – a yellow case with black, brown, and silver accents that perfectly complimented her clothes. Each piece was made with real sheets of metal as well, but it was specially coated so it wouldn’t interfer with her magic. It even had built in lights that dotted the border of the front of the case that, as Spark had earlier stated, worked with her magic. 

Vainstrel had saw it only a few days earlier as he had been out and about after the show he was starring in and just so happened to see it in a small shop not too far from the performance hall. He hadn’t even been thinking about getting a gift for Spark – he simply just saw it and found himself so excited, he went in and immeditately dropped the money for the case so perfect for her. After all, they hadn’t bought her a case (not that she needed it with all the magic reinforcements on her phone, but still). 

Vainstrel’s finger started to tap the side of his drink’s cap, glancing over at the empty tables beside them.

“Hey, are you okay?” 

“Huh?” Vainstrel looked back forward, seeing Spark poking her cheek curiously as she normally did. “Ah, yes, my dear Spark. Everything is fine.” 

“Okay, phew, good. You look like you’re nervous or something! Was there something else you wanted to talk about?” 

Vainstrel froze.

Spark took a sip of her hot chocolate. As she placed the cup back down onto the table, she gave him a smile that was just as warm. “Or did you just want to give me a phone case?” 

Vainstrel locked onto Spark’s eyes and held his breath.

Before he even knew what was happening, he had already grabbed her hands and leaned into her face. And out from his mouth, with the faintest quiver, asked: “will you form a blood contract with me?”

Pause. 

A long, pregnant pause. 

Cold sweat started to break out over Vainstrel’s face. 

He could see Spark’s beautiful brown eyes staring deep into his, unmoving…until she blinked.

“What’s that?” 

Spark’s question cut through the silence. Vainstrel’s shoulder’s dropped and his whole body shivered. If Vainstrel wasn’t as nervous as he was, he probably would have asked why Spark was raising an eyebrow at him. 

“I-it’s when a vampire and a non-vampire form a contract that prevents the vampire from drinking blood from anywhere else but that one non-vampire, until death truly do them apart.”

Spark’s stare seemed to choke him. 

Vainstrel continued to explain. “If we were to form such a contract, I would only be able to receive blood from you and no one else.” 

Vainstrel watched Spark’s stare shift into something that clearly looked like she was thinking. Still feeling stage-fright into the very depths of his being, Vainstrel leaned forward once more, grasping her hands tightly. “Of course, if we were to do such a thing, you can opt-out anytime!” 

He smiled, still completely nervous. 

If only he could see himself in the mirror (which he could…witch-hunting vampires can be seen in mirrors), he would be able to see just how crooked and awkward he looked. 

Vainstrel sat down in his seat once more, but still kept his hands holding onto Spark’s. He looked down at the table. “Truly, only if you desire to do such a thing, my dear lady Spark…” His voice trembled and trailed off. 

Vainstrel held his breath. Why can’t I look up? Goodness me, when have I, the great count Vainstrel, ever felt such a way as this? 

“Where…”

Vainstrel looked up a bit, his eyes widening at Spark’s face.

“…do I sign?!” asked Spark. 

Her usual smile was on her face, but flickering all around her was her usual sparks of electricty. 

And if Vainstrel knew what that meant by now, that meant her emotions were high. And based on the way they were dancing, flittering about her, she was…happy

“Y-you do not have to sign a thing, lady Spark,” replied Vainstrel. “It is simply an exchange of blood – a drop of mine, a drop of yours, preferiably form your dominate index finger.” 

Vainstrel’s whole body drained of nervous from the top of his head, all the way down to his toes. It was as if the earth beneath the cement was sucking it all out from him. His head raised and he could finally return a smile to her. Who is this goddess of lightning and how have a been blessed with such ease? 

Vainstrel found his mouth open once more, almost against his will, betraying the calmer deamoner that seemed to return. “Would you like to do the contract right now?” His smile disappeared. Myself, control yourself before you turn me into an utter bafoon! 

“Oh, yeah, sure! I’d love to!” Spark replied. Vainstrel soon found Spark’s dominate hand in front of him. 

Vainstrel gently took it in his, glancing up at Spark’s eyes. They glittered with excitment and anticipation..if they had been a mirror, he would have surely thought they were his own. His heart was beating loud, almost into his ears and his stomach twisted into knots at the pure excitement of doing what he had only dreamed of doing not so long ago. 

“Please stick out your tongue as well.” 

“You got it!” 

Vainstrel watched Spark close her eyes and stick out her tongue like a cat sensing its surroundings. 

Vainstrel opened his own mouth a little wider and allowed his fang teeth to lower to their full extent. He carefully nicked his own index finger on his right hand, watching a miniscule geyser of blood bead up on the surface of his skin. He then took Spark’s left hand and pricked her index finger with his fang tooth, watching the same phenomeon happen. 

Vainstrel brought his index finger to Spark’s tongue and Spark’s index finger to his. 

The single drop of blood from his finger dripped from his finger and Spark’s single drop of blood dripped from her’s into his mouth. 

Immeditately, a warm wave surged through his body, then bounced back up and almost out of him, leaving him feeling tightly hugged. 

“WHOA!”

Vainstrel had seen Spark jump up at the same exact moment. His own eyes looked at her. 

“Is there something wrong, my dear Spark?” 

Spark shook her head. “No, but WOW, that was a huge surge of magic!” Her body shivered. Vainstrel couldn’t help but think her scrunched face and bouncing side ponytail looked absolutely adorable. “It’s been a while since I’ve felt something like that!” 

Vainstrel chuckled. “That would be the contract being initiated.” 

“So amazing! I’ve never done something like that before.” 

Vainstrel watched curiously as Spark grabbed his tea and popped off the cap. 

“Not even with any familiars of sorts?” inquired Vainstrel, glancing up. 

“Nah, my family won’t let us do them. I guess it’s got something to do with the contracts we have with the elements or something,” replied Spark. 

plop plop plop 

Vainstrel looked down to his tea cup and couldn’t help but smile, watching Spark’s blood drip and merge with it. 

Vainstrel briefly licked his own prick on his finger and the wound quickly closed up. He reached out his hand to Spark. “May I? I would like to heal your wound.” 

“Sure!” Spark replied, replacing the cap onto Vainstrel’s tea. He watched her expertly swirl it around and place it back down in front of him. “And when you’re done with that and the tea, you can have even more of my blood, if you want to?” 

Vainstrel’s tongue clicked in delight. His eyes lit up to the point one could almost see hearts being reflected within them. “I would be more than happy to do such a thing, Lady Spark.” 

Spark put her hand forward. “You can message me whenever you want something too. I’d be more than happy to help you out.” 

Vainstrel brought her finger close to his mouth. “It would truly be my pleasure.” He stuck out his tongue and slowly, but gently, licked where he had nicked her moments earlier. He could feel Spark shivering. Or perhaps she was shuttering. 

He lifted up his head. “The wound has been healed. Are you alright, my dear Spark? Are you cold?” 

“No,” replied Spark. 

Vainstrel could her hear breath heavier than usual and her face seemed flushed. 

“Well, let me know my dear – I would be more than happy to treat you to another gift.” 

He watched Spark giggle, grab her hot chocolate, and sink into her seat in a way he couldn’t think of being anything else but some sort of embarassment. 

Is the dear alright? wondered Vainstrel, sipping his own tea. 

He shivered delightfully at the taste of blood and sparks of electricty that followed the tea down and into his stomach. A smile spread across his face as he relaxed into his chair. 

***

Vainstrel had tried to resist with all of his little vampire heart, but resistance had already flown out the window and over the hills. He found himself messaging Spark every moment of his freetime, just awaiting for a moment in their busy schedules for them to meet up. Which, much to his delight, had been available more often than not. 

Vainstrel couldn’t help but puncture her neck and her shoulders in all different places, enjoying watching Spark shutter in a way he could tell was absolutely delightful. Each sip of blood and flicker of electricty that hit his mouth ignited his body in ways he had never felt before…besides from Spark, of course. 

He always made sure her punctured skin was healed before they parted ways. The sillhouette of the bouncing witch always delighted Vainstrel. He had already been consumed by her in many ways and he couldn’t help but feel his vampire heart flutter. 

His eyes laid upon the dark circles underneath Spark’s eyes and the strange paleness to her otherwise perfectly permenant sun-kissed skin. The circles weren’t as dark as her natural birthmarks, but they were still dark enough to stand out. 

Vainstrel could feel his stomach twist into various knots. 

It had already been two weeks or so since they made the contract and Vainstrel hadn’t wanted to admit it, but the denial was draining out of him every single moment he had met with Spark. 

Vainstrel caressed Spark’s cheeks with both of his hands. “Spark, my dear, you do not look in the tippest of the most top shape.” 

“Huh?” Spark’s drowsy eyes looked up in Vainstrel’s only visible eye (as his other one was covered underneath his blonde hair). After a few slow blinks and her eyes darting around, she smiled. “Oh, I’m fine.” 

Vainstrel released Spark’s cheeks, watching her head droop and her eyes downcasting towards the ground. He reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling it close to his chest. “Lady Spark, I really must insist – you do not look well. Death of the vampire kind almost appears to be at your door. As a dear friend and a contract holder, I request you do not leave us quite yet!” 

Spark smiled slowly and stared at Vainstrel.

The vampire waited for a response from his witch friend, but he watched her do nothing but blink. 

“Spark?” 

“Huh? Yeah! Sorry!” Spark giggled. “I’m a bit sleepy.” 

“We did not have to meet up today if you must rest to restore your strength.” 

Again, Spark seemed to pause for a long while. Vainstrel’s hand tightened around her’s.

I am afraid that she is not well. 

“Aren’t you going to drink my blood?” finally said Spark. 

Vainstrel frowned. He wrapped an arm around Spark’s waist and used his other one to lift up her chin so he could look at her in the eyes. Her brown eyes has a glossy sheen that he was not too fond of – her usual glittering eyes seemed no where to be found. He could even feel the shallowness of her breath. “Truly, Spark, you need your rest.” 

Pause. Then out from Spark’s mouth was “I’m fiiiiiine.” 

“You are not!” 

Vainstrel suddenly found his mouth pressed up against Spark’s neck and her warm hand on the back of his head. “Drink!” Spark demanded. 

Vainstrel’s stomach knotted in the other direction. Obey thy mistress, so wandered up the thought from inside of Vainstrel. His heart pounded and cold sweat ran across his forehead. 

She is not well! Spark is not well! Must I truly do this? Yet the mistress of lightning has confirmed her own willingness. But is it truly okay if she loses her life? Will she do such a thing? Oh, how my heart worries for the Lady Spark, lightning queen! 

Vainstrel’s teeth extended and promptly sunk into her soft skin. 

He held her waist firmly, but gently, hoping to support her as he removed the blood from her system. 

Knots continued to form in his stomach and he couldn’t tell if what he was feeling on his face was just more cold sweat or rain from high above – after all, they were outside and in an alleyway. A lovely alleyway that was almost decorated like a long, narrow park with metal benches, a few bushes and flower beds, along with an iron arch at both ends of the path, but it was an alleyway nonetheless. 

Suddenly his grip tightened. His teeth was sliding out from Spark’s skin. 

Vainstrel snatched himself away from Spark’s skin, gazing down into the almost lifeless body of the young woman witch his heart was consumed by. Vainstrel’s skin, which had been almost peach in color for the past several days, paled. His teeth retracted and he found himself scooping up Spark into his arms.

“Spark! Spark!” he called. 

She wasn’t responding. 

A chill overcame Vainstrel. Did I…kill her? 

His eyes narrowed and scanned her whole body. The life force energy that radiated around her was fairly weak, but he could tell it was still potent enough for life. Her chest still expanded and contracted, albeit it with the slowness of sleep. 

He hugged her tightly. Vainstrel’s body started to tremble and he found himself on the verge of tears. What have I done? What, oh what, have I done? 

He looked down at Spark’s resting face. 

And he saw a single drop of water hit her cheek and roll down the side, dripping off and onto the ground. 

Vainstrel looked up. Had it started raining? 

No. 

The stinging in his eyes made him realize he was, in fact, crying

My greed took it’s toll upon your body. He gently caressed Spark’s cheek with one of his hands, while the other one held her tightly, ensuring her limp body would not fall to the ground. It was a grand responsiblity to take on as the contract initator and I have failed such one. What oh what will I do about you and this terrible accident of my own doing? 

Hugging her close to his body, Vainstrel pulled out his phone. He scrolled through his contacts and stopped on Spark’s name. He tapped it and pulled up her profile. His finger did one long swipe, bringing him immeditately to the very bottom of the entry. He let out a sigh. 

“I suppose the right thing to do is to bring you to your place of rest, is it not, my dear Spark?” Vainstrel asked, smiling gently at the sleeping witch. 

He placed his phone onto a nearby bench and pulled out a capsle. Within the capsle were two earbuds, in which he placed into both ears. Once he slipped the capsule back into his pocket, he grabbed his phone, tapped on the addressed, and followed the prompts to start the GPS. 

I shall only need to take this oh-so-far. I still should remember her home’s location, should I not? It was not oh-so-long ago.

Vainstrel lifted Spark up with both arms and princess carried her. 

***

Vainstrel approached the door, head held high. About partway to Spark’s home, he recongized the pathway. He had paused for a moment to rest his arms, remove his earbuds, and turn off his GPS. After all, he had not wanted to be rude when greeting Spark’s family! If that was even necessary. 

He reached the door of Spark’s family’s home. Staying partially on the stair steps, he supported Spark with one leg and one arm, while using the other one to knock. He then took Spark back into both of his arms and finished walking up the staircase. 

After a moment passed, the door finally opened and a man a few years older than Spark answered the door. Vainstrel watched as his eyes fell upon Spark’s body.

The man looked back up with a glare. “Who the hell are you and what happened to my sister?!” 

Before Vainstrel could respond back, the man gasped. “Wait a minute, you’re that man who dropped her off a few weeks ago.” His eyes narrowed. “What did you do to her?” 

Vainstrel bowed his head. “I am Vainstrel Balan of Balan Bloodworks and stage actor extradonaire!” Vainstrel turned back to the man and frowned. “I do apologize – my dear Lady Spark had fainted on the street and I, for lack of clarity and action, have decided to bring her back to her castle.” 

“‘Lack of clarity’? Girl, you crazy!” replied the man. Vainstrel watched as he lifted his nose in the air and lean forward to grab Spark. 

Reflextively, Vainstrel drew back. “No, no, I must insist – I shall carry her inside. I wish to stay beside her as she slumbers, so that I may greet her once she wakes.” 

“I really can’t let you do that,” replied the man. 

“Is there a reason as to why that is not possible?” inquired Vainstrel. 

Before the man could reply, the distinct voice of a child cut through. “Coal, who’s that?” 

“A nobody,” replied Coal, glaring behind him. “Mind your business.” 

The young girl peeked through the doorway. Her smiling face and sparkling eyes were similar to Spark’s, but rather than reflecting solar flares and lightning storms, it was the ocean on a bright sunny day. “Hi! I’m Aqua-Marie! Who’re you?” 

“Aqua!” snapped Coal. 

Vainstrel smiled down at the young girl. “Good day, Lady Aqua-Marie. I am Vainstrel Balan.” 

“Hi Vainstrel! Why do you have Spark?” 

“Aqua-marie, get your butt back in the door before mom and dad come back and drag it back in for you!” 

Aqua-Marie ignored her older brother who was clearly becoming aggitated. Vainstrel could see little flickers of flames in a similar manner to Spark’s sparks wisp off from all around Coal, like embers in a fire that is almost out, but still lit. He turned his attention back to the young child. “My dear Lady Spark has fainted and I simply wanted to bring her home to rest. I would like to stay by her side to ensure she is alright and apologize for my oversight.”

Aqua-marie paused for a moment, then her face lit up like the sparkling ocean once more. She grabbed a hold of Vainstrel’s hand that was closer to the ground. Vainstrel continued to hold onto Spark as the young girl’s surprising strength had him bursting through the door. 

“Come with me! Come with me! Lemme show you to Spark’s room!” 

“AQUA-MARIE!” snapped Coal. 

Vainstrel found himself making a sharp turn along with Aqua-Marie as Coal jumped in the midst of their path. Vainstrel pivoted his body as the clearly fiery Coal was starting to glow – from an ember orange to an eerie green all the way to a flurorscent blue. 

Then there was a distinct, loud SIZZLE

And Coal was dripping wet. 

Aqua-marie giggled as she continue to lead Vainstrel down the hallway almost at a maddening speed. 

“That damn brat, you’d think she’d had the curse too!” 

They turned the corner and Aqua-marie let go of Vainstrel’s hand. He watched the young girl run and nearly trip over herself, but managed to catch herself on the wall. She burst open a door and raised her hands, disappearing inside. “This way! This way!” 

Vainstrel slipped inside the room. He paused for the briefest moment, intaking the bright yellow walls and lightning motifs, before placing her down on the bed. He carefully rolled back the covers underneath her and covered her up. 

After scanning her with his eyes for one brief moment, Vainstrel sat down on his knees. He reached underneath the covers and fished out Spark’s hand. 

He held the sleeping lightning witch’s hand with both of his, giving it a kiss. He then placed his forehead upon it and closed his eyes. “Spark, I am sorry for failing you. For I was irresponsible as the contract initator and put your life in danger. That is not the purpose of such a contract. Next time, I shall be better than I was. For you too need rest to replenish the blood that coarses through your very veins.” 

Vainstrel kept his eyes shut and forehead closed for a good, long moment. He would have done it longer, but there was an odd constricting sensation he could not shake off. He turned his head and opened his eyes, seeing Aqua-marie staring at him with big, blue eyes that glittered like a rainbow seashell. 

“Is there something wrong, my dear lady Aqua-marie?” 

The smile on Aqua-marie’s face spread. “Are you Spark’s boooooooyfriend?” 

Vainstrel chuckled. “I am not, although I do love her dearly.” 

“Hnn…”

Vainstrel’s head whipped over to Spark, seeing her stir in her sleep. Her brow glistened with persperation that reflected the bright yellow walls of the room. He leaned in, gently touching her forehead. He glanced over beside him, seeing Aqua-Marie leaning in. 

“Is she waking up?” 

“No, but perhaps she has a bit of a fever.” 

Aqua-Marie gasped. “Water!” 

Vainstrel furrowed his brow. 

Aqua-Marie jumped up and turned around, running out the door. Vainstrel watched the door, still holding tightly onto Spark’s hand. 

After a moment, he watched Aqua-Marie walk back through the door with a medium-sized washcloth in which she was actively imbuing with water magic. As the young girl reached Vainstrel, she stopped the flow of her magic and held out the slightly dripping towel. “Water for Spark!” 

Vainstrel gasped. “What an amazing thought you have had! I thank you for your assistance, Lady Aqua-Marie.” He took the towel from Aqua-Marie and held it in both of his hands. He folded it neatly in half one way and then the other, placing it perfectly on Spark’s forehead. 

He watched Spark’s twisted sleeping expression slowly fade into a far more pleasant and relaxed one. Vainstrel found just watching her relax had him relax. How tense had I been? While still holding onto Spark’s hand, he used one of his own to touch his chest, feeling all the tension constantly leave. 

Aqua-Marie sat down on the edge of Spark’s bed, right beside Vainstrel. Vainstrel could see the little girl’s feet kicking in his perpheral vision.

Then a shadow appeared behind him and Aqua-Marie’s little feet were no longer kicking beside him from the bed, but were now on the ground. Vainstrel glanced beside himself, seeing the rather angry Coal barring his teeth.

“Don’t talk to the vampire,” hissed Coal quietly. 

Not quietly enough though – Vainstrel had heard him perfectly. Little needles began to prick his stomach. 

“Why?” asked Aqua-Marie. 

“Don’t matter – just don’t.” 

“But whhhyyyyyy?” 

“Shush, Aqua-Marie.” 

Vainstrel listened to Aqua-Marie whine as Coal lifted her up off the ground and carried her out. 

“Hey, vamp, you’re next!” warned Coal. 

Vainstrel tightened his grasp around Spark’s hand. I had only heard about what her family says and thinks, but I could truly only imagine the way someone such as I would be treated. No matter the hostility towards someone such as I, I shall stay here beside Lady Spark until she wakes from her slumber. Vainstrel lifted Spark’s hand to his mouth and kissed it. My dear Lady Spark, I do apologize and am deeply sorry for the irresponsibility from myself. I promise to do better. 

A single tear formed in Vainstrel’s eye and dribbled down his cheek. 

Vainstrel continued to sit on the floor and holding onto Spark’s hand as time went by, unmoving. All of his training for stage plays was coming in quite handy at this particular moment – there was no way in which he was going to move before he had a chance to speak to her, even if he had to be up for several days! 

“Hey, vamp!” called Coal. Vainstrel chose to ignore him, although his own senses were kept wide open – he wasn’t sure what kind of hostilities could be thrown towards him. 

He could feel Coal standing behind him. From the corner of his eyes, Vainstrel could see him standing there, clearly fuming. Embers were rising up off of him just like Spark’s bits of electricty. “Y’all gotta leave before someone else comes in here and kicks your ass.” 

“I shall not move until Lady Spark has reawakened,” replied Vainstrel. 

“You’r gettin’ off easy dealing with me, honey.” Coal sat down on the bed. “Get out of here, vamp.” 

Vainstrel turned his head up to Coal, seeing the embers flare up more around him. “As I said, I shall not leave until Lady Spark has reawakened and I have the chance to speak to her.”

The next thing Vainstrel knew, a ball of fire was thrust into his face. The intensity of the heat caused him to fall backwards, but he never let go of Spark’s hand. “Excuse me, Sir Coal, but I do ask you do not put a ball of fire up to my face!” 

“Coal, what are you even do…ing…” 

Vainstrel and Coal both turned to the door, seeing three people standing in the doorway. The one speaking was holding onto the doorframe above her head, looking as if she was about to step inside. 

“Who’s he?” asked a younger boy, standing in-between the two ladies in the doorway. 

“I told you you were about to get your ass kicked,” remarked Coal, turning to Vainstrel. 

Vainstrel rolled his eyes. His almost is reminding me of my wretched sister in many ways – including the disregard to the situation in front of us. 

Vainstrel turned to the three people in the door. He bowed in greeting. “How do you do? I am Vainstrel Balan of Balan Bloodworks and a stage actor. I am a dear friend of Lady Spark and I am awaiting her to reawakened, for I have many a thing to discuss with her.” 

“Balan Bloodworks? Isn’t that the vampire bloodbank?” remarked the other sister standing in the doorway. “I think one of my friends had gone there before.” 

“Ah! So you have a friend who has visited? It is not such a surprise, for Balan Bloodworks is simpliest the largest bloodbank in all of Ghopre – it would be a surprise if one had never had set foot inside and had called themself a vampire!” 

The air in the room suddenly tightened. Vainstrel could see the three people in the doorway all having those flickering traits that both Spark and Coal had shared. This time, the oldest looking girl in the door way suddenly had her hair start being tossed around by wind unseen. The young boy had little icicles forming around him and immeditately dropping to the ground. The other girl had flecks of dirt starting to come off from her, but they seemed to disappear before they even hit the ground. 

Vainstrel forced a smile upon his face. “And what are your names, if I may ask?” 

The young woman producing dirt exchanged looks with her siblings and took a step forward. “I’m Flower. And I don’t need to be rude, but what is the relationship you have with our sister?” 

“Ah!” gasped Vainstrel. “So, you are all Spark’s siblings, are you not? It is so kind to meet you all.” 

The siblings simply gave an “mmm” reply back to Vainstrel. 

“Y’all better not be Spark’s boyfriend,” snapped Coal.

Vainstrel could hear audible gasps from behind him. 

“No! Not at all,” quickly replied Vainstrel. “We simply do not have that sort of relationship. I simply was bringing her back to her castle, as she had fainted.” 

“Spark hasn’t been looking particularly well lately,” noted the oldest looking girl in the room. Her voice almost growled. Vainstrel watched as this woman approached him. He could feel strong winds surfacing around her. 

The young boy followed shortly behind. Vainstrel could see him creating solid ice balls in his hands and he didn’t look particularly happy seeing Vainstrel sitting there, still holding Spark’s hand. 

“Why are you holding my sister’s hand, huh?” inquired the young boy. 

Vainstrel turned to Spark’s sleeping face, who seemed to twist a bit as the room’s air become uncomfortably thick. “She is simply a dear friend of mine and I must speak to her at once once she has reawoke from her much needed slumber.” 

“I apologize, but you must leave,” said Flower. “We can’t be having a vampire in the house, let alone one holding our sister’s hand.” 

Vainstrel turned away from them all. “I cannot leave until Lady Spark has woken up from her slumber. I must request we all must put this to rest now, lest she awakens before her body is ready.” 

The wind-producing woman placed a hand on Vainstrel’s shoulder. “You really must leave. We’re saying this for your own good.” 

Just as Vainstrel was about to turn and attempt to give his reasoning once more, Spark suddenly grabbed a hold of him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders like a teddy bear. Vainstrel found himself being pulled into Spark’s chest – it was warm, soothing, and goodness, the sound of her heartbeat warmed him up. 

“I do apologize, but it seems Lady Spark, even in her sleep, would like me to stay with her.” 

The whole room seemed to turn icy cold, but not from the boy who had been producing the ice crystals. 

“Spark, you crazy sis, wake up and let go of the vamp’s ass,” said Coal. Vainstrel could feel Spark being shaked. 

“Mmmm,” mumbled Spark. “…no…” 

Vainstrel glanced up at Spark’s face. His beautiful partner was still fast asleep. 

“Hey, I think we should just leave him alone,” said Flower.

“Shush, Flower.” 

“No, I mean it – let mom and dad handle him.” 

The siblings seemed to pause. 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to fire up his ass?” 

“Yes, Coal, no need to do that. Let dad do that, if that’s really needed.” 

Vainstrel’s free hand tightened grasped at Spark’s bedsheets. What is with this family? Such a strange hostility. 

The air in the room started to clear with the footsteps that sounded like they were pouring out the door. Vainstrel could only hear the breathing of Spark and the annoyed grumble of Coal. 

“Girl, you lucky we didn’t whoop your tight ass to tomorrow, but you really should get out of here. Even if y’all say you ain’t Spark’s little boy-toy, I don’t think that’s how it is gonna look to our parents.” 

Spark’s grip on Vainstrel loosened and he found himself being able to lift his head up and turn to Coal. He looked into the ember boy’s face. He found a gentle smile was spreading across his own as he looked at the scowling Coal.

“I am flattered that you all think I am in such a relationship with your dear sister, Lady Spark. She is lovely and lives up to the name she was bestowed, I also thank you for the kind warnings you all have given to me, however, I must decline the invitation to leave – my dear Lady Spark and I must speak once she has awakened.” 

“…” Coal’s eyes narrowed. “…you’re weird.” 

“And so I have been told a many of times, but that is the true gift of an actor such as I!” 

Coal grumbled. “What is with you and the way you talk?”

“I simply love to speak in such a way that helps me to stay true to who I am at heart – a stage actor, always in a play. This play in which we have called ‘Life’!” 

“Girl, you need to calm your tits.” 

“And may ask you as to why you keep referring to me as ‘girl’?”

Coal flicked out his wrist and shook his head. “It’s just how I speak. I call everyone ‘girl’. I don’t care if you a man, a woman, or something else, y’all ‘girl’.” 

Vainstrel nodded and laughed. “What a fun thing to hear!” 

“I am serious though, girl, you are going to want to get out of here before our parents come back.” 

“Well, will they be murdering me?” 

“…no.” 

“Then there is no reason in which I shall leave until Lady Spark has reawakened.” 

Vainstrel paused for a second and turned to Coal, noticing the embers had completely gone. Instead, Coal seemed to be intently listening to him. “I suppose I must seem quite rude for declining to leave.” 

“You can say that again.” 

Coal stood up from the bed. “Don’t try anything funny.” 

Vainstrel gasped. “I would not dare!” he replied. “I am sure a family who is suspecious of people such as I would surely assume such a thing, but I can assure you that I truly only have the best of intentions for Lady Spark.” 

Coal kicked Vainstrel in the side, just hard enough to cause Vainstrel to wince. He spat out an ember towards the ground that disappeared just before it actually hit the floor and he walked on our. 

Vainstrel rubbed his side, feeling the pain throb where Coal had kicked him. His eyes then turned back to Spark and the pain seemed to melt away. He repositioned himself to sit on his legs and watched Spark’s sleeping face, completely unmoving. 

***

Vainstrel had been sitting for hours at this point. His face was relaxed with a smile and his gaze continued to stare lovingly onto Spark’s face. He couldn’t help but smile either – the dark circles and oddly pale skin on Spark had just about disappeared. His heart fluttered, just being able to look at her for hours. 

It was a curiousity that so many thought we might have been lovers, but as I sit here with my eyes agaze on the beauty that is Spark’s face, I am starting to understand why. Vainstrel sat up onto his knees and leaned over above Spark, gently carressing her face with his free hand. The other one was sweaty, but he refused to let go of Spark’s hand. 

Vainstrel could hear Coal’s voice in the hallway. Although he wasn’t listening intently – therefore unable to hear exactly what he was saying – he could tell that there was some level of expasperation within his voice. Vainstrel could feel his body knot up in all sorts of places and the air seemed to grow thicker by the second. Once again, he encountered a feeling of being suffocated. And he knew he had plenty of blood. 

“Hello.” 

A smile popped on Vainstrel’s face as he turned to the door. Peering in through the doorway was an older man and woman. Behind them stood Coal, sweating and emitting embers. His dark skin looked grayer than it had earlier. 

His eyes are screaming

Vainstrel directed his gaze to the two older adults, who’s lips were stretched across their face. “Hello, how do you do?” 

“Who are you?” asked the man.

Vainstrel bowed. “I am Vainstrel Balan of Balan Bloodworks and stage actor extradoniary! And who do I owe the pleasure of introducing myself to?” 

The man and the woman exchanged glances. 

The man took a step forward. “The vampire shop? Hm.” He folded his arms and lifted his head. “I am Hirom and I am Spark’s father.” 

“I am Sunny,” replied the woman. She simply shifted her position on the doorframe from the side of her body to her back. She folded her arms as well. “I am Spark’s mother.” 

Vainstrel could feel the heated gaze of Hirom on his hand that grasped Spark’s. 

“What are you doing with my daughter? I have heard you have refused to leave.” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Yes and I do apologize for my rudeness. Spark had a terrible fainting spell as we were out and about. The most I could do for her was return her to the very castle she comes back to every night.” 

“‘Castle’?” echoed the man. 

Vainstrel smiled. “Ah, yes. I suppose my own way of speaking can be a tadbit confusing, even for those around me. I simply use the word ‘castle’ for one’s home. I do apologize for any confusion.” 

Hirom clicked his tongue. Vainstrel felt himself flinch. 

“And what is your relationship with her?” interrogated Sunny. The woman’s voice tore through the air like knives and pierced Vainstrel’s skin. But still, Vainstrel did not move. He simply kept smiling.

“Spark is a dear friend to me and I am to stay here until she awakens from slumber. I simply have an important matter in which to discuss with Lady Spark that cannot wait for another day. I must ensure that she is well.” 

Both Hirom and Sunny entered the room. From behind them, Coal stared into the room. Vainstrel could see he was shaking. His eyes were wide much like a deer facing the light of an automobile. The ember-producing brother of Spark’s took a few steps back and soon turned around to disappear down the hallway. 

“You must leave immeditately,” said Hirom. 

Vainstrel stood up, still holding onto Spark’s hand. “I do understand I am being rude, but I must insist that I stay until I have a chance to speak to her once again.” 

“Your kind are not welcome here,” stated Sunny. “I don’t know what you are thinking, but we do not allow interspecies relationships.” 

Vainstrel’s chest tightened. “As I stated earlier, Lady Spark is simply a dear friend. If I am not mistaken, Lady Spark’s siblings have friends who are much like I, do they not?” 

Hirom laughed, but in such a way that was more like the claw of a tiger cutting into Vainstrel’s stream. “I don’t know who you are fooling, vamp. Our daughter’s brain might be a bit fried and you were able to trick her, but you aren’t fooling us.” 

Vainstrel sat down onto the edge of Spark’s bed. “There is no fooling – with all of my vampire heart, I simply wish to stay beside Lady Spark until she wakes from her deep sleep.” 

A bright flash of light suddenly covered the room. Vainstrel closed his eyes. After a few moments, the light faded once again and he reopened his eyes, seeing Sunny and Hirom staring at Vainstrel, completely stunned.

“It…didn’t work?” said Sunny. 

Vainstrel nodded his head. “Ah, yes, solar magic.” 

Vainstrel smiled at Sunny and Hirom. “I do apologize, but the species of vampire I am is not affected by such magic. If you wish to have me removed, you will have to either physically force me from this room or wait for Spark to reawaken and for me to have spoken to her.” 

“And what kind of vampire are you?” asked Hirom. His eyes narrowed as Sunny stepped in closer to him.

Vainstrel could help but give them a toothy smile.  His grip on Spark’s hand tightened. “A witch-hunting vampire.” 

Hirom and Sunny both gasped. 

Vainstrel turned back to Spark, looking down at her sleeping face. It was hard to believe that Spark was even from the same family as everyone else he encountered, save for the young Aqua-marie who didn’t seem to understand her family’s dynamics just yet. He gently carassed her warm skin and gazed so loving at her, no one could mistaken his expression for anything else but love. 

But was it love for his food or was it something else? 

“The curse…!” Sunny exclaimed. 

Vainstrel couldn’t see because he was too busy looking at Spark, but he was pretty sure Hirom punched a wall or the doorframe. This was followed by the remark. “Damn it all! Why did we have to have a cursed child?” 

“Get the supplies,” said Sunny.

“Once the vamp’s gone,” replied Hirom. 

Vainstrel heard their footsteps leave and the door slam behind him. 

HIs shoulders suddenly relaxed. Was I that tense? 

His heart was still pounding so very hard, he could hear it in his ears. 

Curse? Lady Spark, mistress of lightning, is cursed? There simply is no way! Vainstrel thought. He paused for a moment as a memory surfaced from many weeks ago. Oh…yes. Spark had mentioned such a curse before, had she not? But is that truly something that exists? There is no indication that she has such a thing within or around her. 

Vainstrel rubbed Spark’s finger gently with his thumb. I suppose it is something I could inquire about at a later time. 

***

Spark finally wakes up, pretty disoriented. Vainstrel hugs her and apologizes. Spark asks him why and he says that he could see that she was getting weaker and that he’s been too greedy sucking her blood – he was just so happy, but he did too much. Spark says it’s okay and Vainstrel says no, it’s NOT okay! They are partners and he wasn’t doing his part to take care of her. Spark pointed out that he got her the phone case and Vainstrel says not like that – he needs to take her needs into consideration. He tells her that he’s going to let her rest and he’s going to find out how to better take care of his partner. He doesn’t know a whole lot about vampire/non-vampire blood contracts, as they’re not all that common. 

Vainstrel held his breath, watching Spark’s eyes fluttering open. Her groans reach his ears like the sound of an orchestra warming up. The witch slowly sat up in her bed and rubbed her eyes. Vainstrel’s eyes soon met with Spark’s. Spark looked confused.

“What’s going on?” asked Spark, followed by a yawn. 

Vainstrel became overwhelmed by the urge to embrace Spark and followed it through – he lept up from off the ground and hugged her tightly. Even for himself, feeling tears streaming down his eyes naturally, without needing to force it for a play was new. But yet, they fell from his eyes as he buried his face in between her shoulder and her neck.

“Lady Spark, I do apologize for what I have careless put you through.” 

He could feel Spark’s warm palms pushing against his chest. “What are you talking about? Um…did I faint?” 

Vainstrel pulled back, holding Spark’s shoulders. “Indeed, you have fainted and I have brought you back to your castle. I have met your fellow family members and fought hard to stay with you until you have reawakened from your most restful slumber.” 

Spark’s eyes blinked a few times, before popping open wide. “Oh no! You’ve met them? Oh my goodness, I am so sorry!” Spark clasped her hands together. “If only I hadn’t fainted…oh goodness, they must have been so rude to you! Ugh…” 

Vainstrel gently carassed Spark’s cheek. “I suppose they had been rude, but I had been rude back. I ignored their requests for me to leave – I refused simply because I must speak with you at once, now that you are awake. But first I must ask the uptmost important question…” 

Spark’s lips lightly pursued as her head slightly tilted. The look was endearing. Vainstrel could feel his chest swell. His smile grew larger. 

“Spark, my dear, how are you feeling?” 

“Just a bit tired and a bit grumpy. I probably need some more sleep, but what did you want to talk to me about?”

Vainstrel lifted up a finger in the air. “Ah, yes, I first must apologize to you.” 

Spark lifted an eyebrow. “For what? You didn’t do anything wrong.” 

“But Lady Spark,” said Vainstrel as he tapped Spark’s nose. “I have done something quite wrong, you see.” He placed his hands back on her shoulders. “My carelessness caused you to faint.” 

Spark’s eyes widened. “But…how is that your fault? I told you that you could suck my blood.” 

Vainstrel clasped both of Spark’s hands in his. “But my dear lady Spark, it too is my reasonsibility. I have watched you grow weaker every day in which we have spoken and interacted with each other. I was full of glee that you so kindly have offered your blood up to me. I became full of such selfish greed, that I had not put a stop to my own selfish actions of sucking your blood, including when I no longer needed it for the moment.” 

“Um…but didn’t you try to stop me?” 

“I did not do enough.” 

Spark shifted her position. “I think you did enough though. I told you that you could suck my blood and it’s okay. I mean, yeah, I did faint, but, like, I was the one who insisted you drink it. You’re fine. It’s fine! It’s perfectly fine, Vainstrel.” 

Vainstrel squeezed her hands more. “But it is not fine, Lady Spark! It is not fine one bit!” He threaded his fingers in-between Spark’s, leaning into her. “We are partners, my dear, and I failed to do my part. I am meant to take care of you.” 

He watched Spark slightly flush. “B-but you have taken care of me…you buy me food and treated me to a new cellphone and phone case and stuff.” 

Vainstrel’s smile was soft. “Oh, dear Spark, those are a part of how I care for you as a whole, but those are not a piece of what I am referring to. We are in a blood contract together – just as it is your responsibility to provide me blood, it is my responsibility to ensure that you are safe, healthy, and alive. I have failed you once simply because you had not been safe, had not been healthy, and you could fallen into irreversable depths of Darkness, my lady. And I simply – no, we – simply cannot have such a thing.” 

Vainstrel bowed his head, feeling both his own and Spark’s fingers on his forehead. “For my lack of experience and the lack of responsibility and duty on my part, I deeply apologize to you for such a carelessness.” He lifted up his head, looking up into Spark’s eyes. He could see the reluctancy in Spark’s eyes. “I do apologize as well – this is the first time I have ever done a blood contract with anyone before. They are a rarity amongst vampires. I suppose I would have benefited from learning more prior to requesting a contract for you. I promise you, here and now, that I, Vainstrel Balan, shall ensure I receive the most correct information to be able to take care of your needs and mine!” 

Vainstrel placed hand on his chest, lifting his head up towards the sky. “I promise you, my Lady Spark, I shall truly take care of you from now on!” 

He watched Spark fall to the side. He still held onto her hands, but the witch was now resting on her side, looking up to him. “I’m sorry too, Vainstrel. I guess I should have listened to you, huh?”

“My dear Spark,” said Vainstrel. He caressed her cheek. “You do not to worry about such a thing. I could have simply refused.” 

Spark grabbed Vainstrel’s hands, holding his palm steady on her cheek. A smile arose upon her face. “I’m sleepy.” 

Vainstrel kissed her hand. “Sleep well then, my dear Lady Spark. I shall take my leave and return back once more to care for you properly.” 

Vainstrel slowly stood up and backed away, allowing his hand to just naturally part from Spark’s body. He couldn’t help but smile softly as he walked out of Spark’s bedroom door and exited the house. 

He could feel the sensation of needles hitting his back, but he shrugged it off. 

Nothing can keep me from my dear lightning queen. 

*** 

During this time, Spark’s parents ask her what she’s doing with a vampire. Spark says that he’s a friend. Spark’s parents say he isn’t someone she should be hanging out with – especially someone like him. He’s a witch-hunting vampire, which they can tell by his aura. He’ll want her for nothing but her blood. Spark says she doesn’t mind. Spark’s parents tell her that she’s forbidden from seeing him again and Spark says she can’t really do that…they’re partners. They ask her what does that mean and she explains that she has a blood contract with him, so he primarily gets blood from her – but don’t worry, she can opt-out any time! They call her stupid and never did they think that the cursed child of their family be cursed in such a way. Spark says she’s not cursed. They tell her of course she is – that’s the only thing the “family curse” is good for, which Spark mumbles that the “Great Uncle isn’t cursed”. Her parents demand that she undo the contract; 

Spark found herself shooting up from her bed at the sound of the door closing. Even though she knows she had been so sleepy prior to, well, waking up, it was as if none of that sleepiness existed at all. Her body was jolted awake and the only thing she could manage to gasp out of her mouth was Vainstrel’s name. 

When she looked over within the moment of speaking her vampire contract holder’s name, she looked over to see her parents scowling at her. Spark’s usually sparkling face grew dark like storm clouds overhead blocking out the sun and her brow slightly furrowed. She turned down her magic inside without much of a thought, hiding the fact she was ready to start squirming under her parents’ harsh gaze. Otherwise, her usual sparks of electricty would have given it away.

“What is your relationship with that vampire?” asked Sunny. Her voice was piercing as it often was when Spark would do something her mother did not like or approve of. 

Spark bit the inside of her lip and her hands balled the sheets underneath her. “…we’re friends.” 

Her father laughed. But in that sort of condemning way, where Spark knew that he didn’t believe that for a second. 

We are just friends, right? Spark cast her gaze to the side. 

“How ignorant do you think we are?” roared Hirom. He clapped a fist into one of his hands, his brow furrowed. “There is no way someone would refuse to leave just for a friend.” 

“You shouldn’t be hanging out with him – he’s a witch-hunting vampire,” explained Sunny. She clasped a fist into the air. “He will only want you for your blood.” 

Spark’s eyes narrowed. “…and how do you know he’s a witch-hunting vampire?” 

“The vamp said it himself!” replied Hirom.

If Spark’s parents weren’t there, she could have buried her face into her palms. Vainstreeeeeeeel, whyyyyyyyyy did you have to go and say that? 

“You know what they say, don’t you? They will suck a witch dry. They are the worst kind of vampire out there for us.” 

“You’re just going to get hurt, you know?” 

Spark’s fingers gently rested upon the spot where Vainstrel’s teeth had once punctured. Even though there was no trace whatsoever that he had pierced her skin, something about the memory of it made her skin warm and her cheeks flush. Her heartbeat raised and her gaze cast downward and too the side. She mumbled out from her mouth, “I don’t mind…” 

Her parents gasping snapped her back to the reality of the situation – she was getting in trouble for being in some sort of relationship with Vainstrel. 

“Do you hear what you’re saying, child?” 

“You’re not allowed to see him again.” 

Spark jumped up from the bed. “Wait, I can’t do that!” 

Both her parents glared at her. Spark flinched. 

“And why can’t you?” 

Spark met her parents’s glares head-on. “We’re partners.” 

Spark watched the color drain from her parents faces. 

“Dating a vamp–” Hirom started, but Spark quickly cut him off.

“Oh! We’re not dating!” replied Spark. She giggled. “I just have a blood contract with him so he can only take blood from me.” 

Spark couldn’t help but grin, even watching as her father collapsed into her mother’s arms, holding his forehead. 

“You can’t be –” 

“Oh! I am serious!” Spark’s lips curled. Even if her body was nervous, she couldn’t help but find the strength to be honest. “But don’t worry!” She clasped her hands together and tilted her head. “I can opt-out anytime.” 

“ARE YOU THAT STUPID?” Sunny screamed. 

Hirom covered his face with both his hands. “How did we end up with a cursed child?”

“To think the curse would lead to a child of ours being with a witch-hunting vampire.” 

As her parents groaned and complained, Spark couldn’t help but mumble, “I’m not cursed.” 

“OF COURSE you are cursed!” snapped Sunny. “Why else would you agree to such a thing?!” 

Spark frowned. I’m not even doing anything wrong. 

Hirom stood back up, shaking his head, his palm to his forehead. “Foolish, foolish child. The only thing the curse is good for is informing us of a cursed child – and that cursed child is you.” 

“Maybe if she hadn’t talked to him…” grumbled Sunny. 

Spark could feel her magic seeping out. The Grand Uncle isn’t cursed. Her brow furrowed at her parents. 

“Undo the contract! Maybe you’ll be spared from the worst of the curse that way,” Hirom demanded. “We don’t want it to affect us or the rest of the family.” 

Sunny simply clicked her tongue. 

And with that, both of Spark’s parents left the room. 

Spark collapsed onto her bed. She took a hold of her ponytail and began biting the very end in nervous thought. Do I have to stop with Vainstrel? I don’t want to…I don’t mind. I really don’t care if he takes my blood. It just…Spark fidgeted. …it feels really good. She buried her face into her knees. Oh man, I don’t think I could ever say that out loud though! I can only imagine what everyone would think if I ever even said that! 

Spark then sighed. She allowed her back to fall onto the bed, looking up at the white ceiling above her. What do I even do? “I guess if I had just listened to Vainstrel, none of this would have happened. But now we’re both in a pretty awkward position, huh?” 

Spark groaned and turned over onto her side. I don’t want to cancel the contraaaaaaact. 

***

Vainstrel found himself searching through stacks of books that had so much dust on them, it looked like a thin layer of snow. He found himself coughing as he moved each book out of the way, scanning the contents for exactly what he was looking for. No…this one does not tell me what I seek. No…this one does not either…what is with this dust and the neglect in which these books have suffered? Vainstrel sighed. I suppose I can hire help to clean up this library, so very unorganized and rarely ever used. 

Vainstrel restacked the books and moved onto the next pile. Before he began to move a thing, he couldn’t help but look around the library itself. Would there ever be a day I would have entered this library for research beyond that of the stage? ‘Tis not what I would have expected, and yet here I am, all for the mistress of lightning. 

Vainstrel then looked over to the grandfather clock and the swinging pendulum inside. Have I truly been search for so long? 

He felt nervousness creep its way up his back and into his arms. How long must I wait before I find what I seek? 

He glanced over all the books in the room once more before taking a leave and exiting down the hallway. Perhaps they know where…

Not too far from the library was the bloodbank entrance. He pushed open the double doors into the rows and rows of refridgerators and walked to the other side of that to another set of double doors to the main part of the shop. It was fairly quiet at the moment, but he did watch an older woman vampire and another vampire interact: the older vampire woman handed the vampire a small box of blood and the younger vampire person finished paying. He watched an older vampire man walk out from some doors near the older vampire woman right behind another person – this time a non-vampire who had a small bandage up on their arm. 

The moment the older vampires had stood next to each other – smiling – Vainstrel took a step forward. “Mother Dearest, Father Dearest,” he greeted, stepping into their line of sight.

“Vainstreeeeeeel!” greeted his mother. 

“Wow, what a treat to see you on the floor today – what brings you here?” inquired his father. 

Both of his parents looked Vainstrel up and down for a moment, before exchanging looks. 

Vainstrel’s mother smirked. “So it wasn’t a trick of the light.” 

“You’re looking better than we are, Vainstrel! How were you so lucky to get something so consistent?” Vainstrel’s father’s smile grew and he laughed. 

“Ah, yes, this is what I am here to speak with you about,” said Vainstrel. He lifted up a finger. “I am wondering if you are aware of the location of information regarding blood contracts?” 

Vainstrel’s parents eyes popped and the leaned forward eagerly. “Why?!” they exclaimed. Vainstrel was a bit taken aback by the glittering eyes that  were staring into his. 

“Erm…” Vainstrel cleared his throat. “I made have successfully initiated the blood contract…” A gentle smile grew on Vainstrel’s face. “…with a wonderful witch named Spark.” He then balled both of his fist, looking up into the air. “Lady Spark is a mistress of lightning – the electricity itself pulses through her very veins!” 

Vainstrel found himself placing his hands over his heart, his eyes dazzling with the thought of Spark lighting him just like her jolts of lightning when it entered his body. “Jolts so wonderous and magic so potent, she beckons me to come meerly at the thought of her. Paired with the a personality that matches the name she was graced with, I can no longer deny the beauty she has a whole!” 

Vainstrel clenched his hands on his shirt and winced. “It seems though I have been a bit too happy and have pushed my dear lady Spark beyond what she is truly capable of for days on end once our contract had been formed. I have caused her to faint – clearly a product of failure on my own part – and I have finally understood that I know nothing in how the contracts are meant to truly work.” He then lifted his hands at his parents, who were simply staring at him with huge smiles on their faces to the point…it was pretty uncomfortable. “I am simply here to inquire if you know the location of more information.” 

A moment of silence flooded the room that hadn’t been there before. No one but Vainstrel and his parents were in there before, but everything seemed pretty loud up until this moment.

Then, as if someone turned up the volume to max, both of Vainstrel’s parents let out an ear-shattering screen.

“OUR SON GOT A BLOOD CONTRACT!!”

“HE GOT ONE!!”

Vainstrel’s parents interlaced their fingers with each other, both kicking up a leg behind them and leaning into each other. “And it sounds like she’s a great catch too!!” 

The both opened their sparkling, curious eyes at Vainstrel, who found himself frowning. “How did you manage to snatch someone so powerful?” 

“…” Vainstrel clicked his tongue. “I do not appreciate you using terms such as ‘catch’ and ‘snatch’ for Lady Spark.” 

Vainstrel’s parents both frowned, their legs slowly lowering to the ground. However, their hands stayed together. 

Vainstrel down casted his gaze. His cheeks flushed pink and a small smile hinted itself on his face. “I am aware that I seeked a blood contract out from her primarily for sustenance, but truly, there is more to the Lady Spark of Lightning than I could have ever imagined…or perhaps I knew upon the first meeting in which I woke up and she called me out for messing with someone like her. Truly, everything about her is a wonderful dream made real.” Vainstrel turned his smile to his parents. “Perhaps best of all, she generally understands what I am saying when I speak. And how often does one hear that?” 

Vainstrel watched his own parents slightly blush and found himself chuckling. “I simply want to provide the best experience for my lightning mistress – she must be treated right. I do understand as the vampire in the blood contract relationship, I must be the one to ensure she is well-taken care of and kept alive. And for that…” He bowed his head. “I request that you help me with learning more about blood contracts.” 

Vainstrel’s parents both had covered their mouths, both looking teary-eyed and happy. They both had one hand over their mouths. 

“Vainstrel, you grew up!” squeaked his father. 

Vainstrel’s mother walked over to Vainstrel, rubbing his arm. “Our dear son, we are more than happy to help you find the information.” 

“Dear, you can go and help Vainstrel find the information,” said Vainstrel’s father, gently tapping Vainstrel’s mother’s lower back. 

She nodded. “Come this way, Vainstrel – where have you checked so far?” 

“The library.” 

“Which one?” 

“The one on the way in the bloodbank itself.” 

Vainstrel’s mother chuckled. “Oh dear, that place’s not gonna have it.” 

Vainstrel scrunched his forehead. “Then where would I find it?” 

“In the other library, silly!” 

“…we have another library?” 

Vainstrel’s mother burst out laughing, the laugh echoing down the hallway as she lead Vainstrel deeper down the corridor. 

*** 

Vainstrel sat in a better-kept library on the other side of the mansion. His initial shock of their being another library in his home and how well-kept it was had already faded. His mother had very quickly grabbed several books off the shelf and explained the relevance of to the blood contract each one was and Vainstrel could not help but sit down and start reading immeditately. There is no time to waste.

Vainstrel’s eye mostly skimmed through the content on each page, pulling out the most important bits of information as he went along. Blood contract between a vampire and non-vampire…yes, yes…I am well-aware of this matter…responsibilities of a vampire contract holder…“hmm….yes…yes…” 

Vainstrel sat back in his seat, a single-seater couch that was deliciously comfy, and looked up at the ceiling. The contract is similar to a marriage, is it not? 

Just then, he heard a familiar “SLAM” on the door to the library. He turned his head, seeing Ria with Vladimir in tow. Vainstrel found himself slumping in his seat, scowling at the presence of his sister. 

“What the heck, you background standee! You went and got a blood contract?” 

Vainstrel sat back up. “Yes. Indeed, I have.” 

Vainstrel watched Ria’s eyes dart between Vainstrel and…he assumed it was the book in his hands, but that’s not actually what Ria was looking at. Instead, she had been looking at his pocket. 

Ria pointed towards his pocket. “Don’t tell me that was who you were crying over a few weeks ago!” 

Vainstrel smiled, but his eyes remained just as annoyed. “Indeed, my dear sister, that is whom I was referring to.” 

Ria stuck out her tongue in disgust.

Vainstrel gasped, pretending to be offended by his older sister’s reaction. “My dear sister, how dare you react in such a way to my love of Lady Spark!” 

Vladimir peered over Ria’s shoulder. “‘Love’? Are you and your witch in more than just a blood contract?” As per usual, Vladimir’s smile was a calming force.

“Ah, yes,” replied Vainstrel. He slightly blushed.

Ria turned pale.

Vladimir’s smile spread across his face.

“Lady Spark and I are simply friends.” Vainstrel’s smile was gentle and his gaze was downcast. His vampire heart squeezed. Friends…yes…Something almost akin to jealousy shot across his chest at the thought of simply being friends. 

He could hear Ria loudly whisper to Vladimir, “don’t tell me he’s going to fall in love with his food!” 

Vladimir replied in an equally loud whisper, “it’d be cute!”

Then Ria whacked her husband on the back of the head and grabbed his hand. “Come, I’ve had enough of this cheap background standee and his love sickness!” Ria stuck out her tongue, dragging Vladimir behind her. “I’ve got accounting to study and curtains to finish making.” 

Vladimir simply laughed. 

Vainstrel watched the two of them pour out of the room and found himself sighing. 

After a moment of staring at the air, his eye returned back to the book sitting on his lap and he became re-engaged with it once more. 

***

Vainstrel approached Spark’s family home, both hands preoccupied with a medium-sized woven basket filled with a variety of goodies – cookies, breads, fruits, juices, and water. His face was slightly flushed, just simply at the thought of seeing Spark after a few days. However, his face was perfectly determined all the same – the past few days reading up on blood contracts truly opened his eyes to the importance of taking care of his own partner…and that’s exactly what he was doing, starting with replenishing her blood and showering her with gifts. 

Vainstrel approached the door and tucked the basket under one arm while he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He quickly messaged Spark of his arrival. Just as he hit the “send button”, his stomach jumped at the sudden click of the door in front of him.

Already?!

Vainstrel’s eyebrows lifted, only to be met face-to-face with Coal, who yelped at the sight of Vainstrel right in front of him. 

“What the hell?! Girl, what you doing here?” 

“I’m here bearing gifts for Lady Spark.” 

Coal’s brows furrowed. “You’re not allowed here, vampire. I suggest you move your ass before someone else sees you.” 

Vainstrel held the basket in both of his hands once more. “I must simply deliver these gifts to Lady Spark. She should be –” 

Coal tore the basket out from Vainstrel’s hands and immeditately turned the whole basket and its contents into ash. Vainstrel gasped, his face turning completely pail at the sight of the falling ash. Coal simply leered at Vainstrel. “Now you don’t. Leave.” 

Vainstrel’s mouth gaped open, staring dumbfounded into Coal’s face. For what reason other than the fact I am a vamprie in a relationship of sorts with the mistress of lightning has invited such hostility? I simply wanted to help my dear lady. 

“If you’re just gonna stand there and look dumb, move it!” A heated palm hit in between Vainstrel’s shoulder and chest, followed by the slamming of the door. “I got somewhere to be.” 

Vainstrel watched Coal trudge off into the distance and pull out his own phone. He could hear Spark’s older brother start screaming about Vainstrel into the phone. The last thing he heard from Coal was “‘calm down’? y’all think I can just calm down when someone’s in my way?” before his voice disappeared into the forest that surrounded the family home. 

Vainstrel pulled out his phone. His fingers quickly typed out exactly what had happened: Coal had gotten to the door before Spark and burned the gifts Vainstrel had hoped to have give his dear lady. He sent the message and simply held his phone, frowning. 

Such unpleasantness…so truly undeserved. Vainstrel glanced over to the side. Well, I suppose it is somewhat deserved. I did put Lady Spark’s life into jeaporady, after all, due to my carelessness…but no more! 

The door in front of him suddenly swung open and starting there was an exasperated Spark. She looked down at the ash piled on the doorstep and wimpered. She frowned at Vainstrel, placing both hands on her cheeks as she did so. “Vainstrel, I am SO sorry! If only I had seen your text earlier, you could have actually give me the gifts!” 

Vainstrel grabbed one of her hands, holding it with both of his. He gave her a gentle smile. “It is alright, my dear Lady Spark. So long as you are with me, I shall give you the greatest gifts of them all.” 

Spark’s frown rose into a smile. “Does that mean you?” 

Vainstrel laughed. “If I am a gift to you, then I will give you all of me.” 

Spark leapt down a few steps down to where Vainstrel was standing, linking her arm into his. 

The two of them exchanged smiles, only for Vainstrel to watch Spark’s gaze be casted down to the ground. 

“Lady Spark, something appears to be amiss, beyond the burning of the gifts. What ever could be troubling you, my dear?” 

Spark looked around, mostly behind her, and started dragging Vainstrel with her. “Hmm…let’s go talk somewhere with less of a chance of interference from my family.” 

Vainstrel rubbed one of the hands holding on his arms. “Yes, of course my dear. 

***

Spark’s family home had long since disappeared behind them and the only thing they were surrounded by was nature itself. The air all around was pure and crisp to the point the very presence of Spark and Vainstrel seemed to upset it. However, that was more than okay – it just meant it was easier to sense when others were around, after all. 

Spark finally released herself as they neared a small circle of large stones, all perfectly shaped for sitting. Vainstrel watched as the girl gave him the saddest smile he has ever seen on her beautiful face. His body flinched. Is she to cry? 

“My parents asked me to opt out of the blood contract with you,” said Spark. Her usually chipper demeanor was no where to be found. Instead, her shoulders hung down and everything about her seemed almost gray in comparison to how she normally was. 

Vainstrel felt himself tear up. He bit the inside of his lower lip and nodded. “Yes…I understand…of course. It is too much on your body and I was so careless.” Vainstrel opened up his mouth, allowing his fang teeth to grow longer. “I shall start the reversal process right away.” 

Spark suddenly threw her hands out in front of her. Vainstrel watched as her face briefly flushed red, only to return back to the gray dullness it had before. She almost seemed desperate. 

“Uh…um…” Spark’s gaze casted down to the leave-covered floor of the forest and her beautiful golden brown eyes seemed to gloss over like rain covering the ground. 

“My dear…what is wrong?” asked Vainstrel. 

Spark hugged herself. “I…uh…I don’t want to undo the contract though.” 

“You…do not?” 

Spark shook her head. Vainstrel watched her face becoming increasingly red and her body kind of squirm. 

“I…I don’t mind the blood contract at all. Actually…I like it.” 

Spark covered her face. “It tickles and…and feels good when you..b-bite me…” Spark’s voice trailed off, but Vainstrel heard her loud and clear.

Vainstrel’s own face flushed red. He retracted his teeth at the sight of Spark holding herself, standing so seemingly embarassed in the middle of the forest where no other humanoid seemed to be at the moment. He soon found himself inches away from her, grabbing both of Spark’s hands. 

“My dear Lady Spark, I am more than happy to continue with you!” Vainstrel’s eyes glinted. “Although I respect that your parents what is best for you, I truly know that you, Spark, are the only one that truly knows what is best for you. This is simply an agreement between you and me and no one else – there is no need for others to attempt to throt our partnership!” 

Spark’s eyes gazed into Vainstrel’s. The temptation to hold onto Spark’s waist and feel it with his fingers was high, but he refrained…such an intimate sort of relationship was not what they had…at least not yet. 

Vainstrel gasped, taking a step back. He bowed his head. “But first, my dear lady Spark, we must replenish your blood! For both your sake and mine!” 

Spark giggled. “And how do we do that?” she asked, almost in a whisper so seductive, Vainstrel felt a shiver run down his spine for the first time in a very long time. 

Vainstrel slightly turned his head away, almost uncertain if he could even look at his mistress of lightning straight in the eyes at the moment. “I suppose we could always return to my home together, gathering the extra goods that I had planned to bring to you in a few days time. In addition to regular rest, of course.” 

“Oh! I would love to do that.” Spark’s arms were now around Vainstrel’s shoulders and her smiling face and sparkling eyes were thrust into his. “When do we do that?” 

“I had been planning tomorrow.” 

The smile on Spark’s face spread even further. “How about today?” 

Vainstrel hesitantly wrapped one arm around Spark’s waist and placed another on her chin. “My dear Lady Spark, I would be more than honored to have you accompany to my home today.” 

Vainstrel’s lips curled. “Please do be aware that you will be meeting my parents and perhaps my wretched older sister and her far-too-kind of a husband.” 

Spark’s forehead bumped Vainstrel’s. “I can’t wait!” 

The little sparks of electricity floating around Spark tickled Vainstrel’s forehead, causing the vampire to laugh playfully at such an unexpected sensation. 

*** 

Vainstrel had a forced smile upon his face as both him and Spark sat in one of the studies inside of his family’s manner. In front of them both was Vainstrel’s parents, frantically and eagerly making tea in front of Spark. He glanced over Spark, feeling relieved to see her usual spunky demenaor was very much present. If anything, she seemed to be enjoying herself.

“An Alamental, huh? Goodness! Thank you for entering a contract with our precious son!” 

Vainstrel’s mother placed a cup in front of Spark. “Would you like some tea?” 

Spark waved her hand. “Oh, no thank you, Mrs. Balan! I’m not a huge fan of tea.” 

“That is more than fine. Would you like anything else? And oh, please don’t call me ‘Mrs. Balan’! Feel free to call me Lana.” 

Vainstrel’s father leaned in, holding out a basket of beautifully wrapped cookies. “You can just call me Rapoto – here, have some cookies! Freshly baked two days ago!” 

Spark giggled, taking a bag from the basket. “Thank you so much.” 

“Would you like something else with that?” inquired Lana. “We have so many more drinks available to you.” Vainstrel’s mother swung open a mini fridge and a cabinet, revealing numerous drinks.

“Hmm…I suppose I could go for water right now.” 

Lana delightfully gasped. “Yes, right away, dear Spark!” 

Both of Vainstrel’s parents giggled with glee in ways that even Vainstrel almost found annoying. 

Spark turned to Vainstrel. “I can totally tell they are your parents.” 

“Oh? How so?” 

“They’re just as eccentric as you are, tee hee!” 

Vainstrel blushed. Have I taken on the mantle of my parents by mistake? I…suppose it is okay. As long as I do not appear like my wretched sister, I am safe. 

Rapoto slipped a pillow underneath Spark’s feet, while Lana placed a cup of water beside Spark. 

“Oh, thank you!” said Spark, watching Rapoto fluff the pillow underneath her feet. She held both of her hands to her cheeks. 

Rapoto finished flushing. “It is truly my pleasure. Blood contracts are rare, especially amongst our kind.” 

Suddenly, Rapoto and Lana leaned into Spark’s personal space. Vainstrel went wide-eyed, leaning into Spark’s space, pushing his parents out of the way. “Please, dear mother, dear father, please give Lady Spark the space she needs to breath!” 

Rapoto and Lana pulled back. Lana went behind Spark, rubbing her shoulders. “I do apologize if our behaviour is a bit rude. We are simply delighted to have you here! And so unexpectedly too!” 

Rapoto clasped his hands together, leaning forward to meet Spark’s face. “It is such an honor to have you here with us. Please, do tell us – what had you decide on a blood contract with our dear son?” 

Vainstrel turned to Spark, watching her own gaze meet his. Spark slightly blushed and grabbed Vainstrel’s head. “It wasn’t really anything much. I love Vainstrel and I could just tell it was the right thing for me.” 

Rapoto and Lana (who was still massaging Spark’s shoulders) seem to melt. 

“Did you hear that, Lana dear? LOVE!” 

“Yes! Yes I did!” 

Vainstrel couldn’t help but cough. “She meant that as a friend.” 

Again, Vainstrel felt something like jealousy scratch itself across his chest. Friend. It was that word. Specifically, that word in relation to Spark. His eyes met with Spark’s. They seemed to dull a bit, reminding Vainstrel of his own feelings. His brow furrowed, questioning such a reaction from the lovely Spark beside him, holding his hand. 

Spark then giggled, Vasintrel watching her eyes light up. “I was already giving him blood anyway, so why not? Even if we hadn’t been in a blood contract, I would have offered it up anyway.” 

Rapoto suddenly pulled out a notebook. “Is it true that your blood carries a specific element within it?” 

“Yes, that’s right!” replied Spark. Her smile was absolutely dazzling and Vainstrel felt his vampire heart start to warm. He squeezed Spark’s hand tighter. “We’re elemental witches, after all. Our blood doesn’t just have regular magical energy, but also elemental energy. It’s pretty special, if you ask me! Tee hee.” 

“Special indeed, I do agree, Lady Spark,” said Vainstrel. “When I taste your blood upon my tongue, I am forever greeted with delightful sparks of electricty that dance all the way down and around my body. It is simply magnificent.” He took his other hand and placed it onto the one that was holding Spark’s hand. “I am truly honored that someone like you agreed to such a thing.” 

Spark leaned into Vainstrel, her long eyelashes fluttering. “Oh, you! Stop it.” 

“No, I truly mean it, Spark. You light me up in so many ways.” 

Spark tilted her head into her shoulder. A grin curled its way on her face. She simply giggled.

Rapoto and Lana couldn’t help but yelp and coo at the sight of Vainstrel and Spark. 

“Oh. My. GOSH!” squealed Rapoto and Lana. 

“Do you hear them?” asked Lana. 

“Loud and clear, so loud and clear!” replied Rapoto. 

Vainstrel glared at both his parents. “Please, mother, father, calm down! I do not know what you are referring to, but it is making me feel slightly uncomfortable.” 

Rapoto and Lana both ended up giggling in response. 

Spark and Vainstrel exchanged rather uncomfortable glances, only to end up bursting out laughing themselves at the sight of the far too giddy parents of Vainstrel. 

Vainstrel’s eyes caught movement in the dooway from the corner of his eye. 

“What is with you making all of that –––” Ria had started, but her voice quickly trailed off. Vainstrel could see the partial horror in his older sister’s face as her eyes laid upon the beautiful lightning witch sitting right beside Vainstrel, being catered to and pampered in all sorts of ways by their parents. 

Ria and Vladmir exchanged looks. 

For the first time in his life, Vainstrel watched his sister stiffly walk through the door and approach him and his partner closer. The smile on her face was so obviously forced, Vainstrel couldn’t help but frown.

“O-oh…you must be uh…my brother’s contract partner, yes?” inquired Ria.

Spark jumped up, smiling at Ria. “Yes, that’d be me! Nice to meet you – I’m Spark Alamental.” She put her thumbs and index fingers together, creaating a lightning bolt shape. “I’m a lightning or electricty elemental witch.” She then waved. “It’s nice to meet you! Are you Vainstrel’s sister?” 

Vainstrel couldn’t help but laugh a bit, watching his sister flinch. Yet, his sister kept on her forced smile.

“Y-yes, that would be me. I am this dun…erm, dear…younger brother’s older sister, Ria Balan. It is…a pleasure to meet you.” 

Vladimir waved from behind Ria. “I’m Vainstrel’s brother-in-law, Vladimir. It is a pleasure to meet you. We’ve heard quite a bit about you.” 

Spark put a hand to her cheek and giggled. Vainstrel looked up at her, seeing her smiling at him with many sparks flittering around her head. “Vainstrel, what exactly did you tell them?” 

“Nothing at all, nothing much at all. I simply was talking about you to myself when they had overheard everything I was crying out about.” 

Vainstrel looked back over, seeing Ria looking as if she was about to crack. She was poking the air in front of her and her brow was super furrowed. Her body trembled, but she still was smiling. 

Ria grabbed a hold of Vladimir’s shirt. “W-well, i-it was a pleasure to meet you, Spark. We m-must be going now. Good day!” Ria dragged Vladimir out of the room. Vladimir waved good-bye to everyone as he followed his wife. 

A moment after they left, a screamed came down the hallway that Vainstrel just knew was Ria.

Spark covered her mouth. “Is she alright?” 

Vainstrel snickered. “Had I not told you many times before? She is simply my wretched sister.” 

Spark giggled. 

***

Spark raised her hand. “Is there a bathroom around here?” 

Lana stood up, extending her hand up torwards the door. “Just out the door. Turn right and go down two doors. You will find one of our many bathrooms located there.” 

Spark curtesied. “Thank you so much!” 

Vainstrel, Lana, and Rapoto all watched Spark skip out the door. 

The moment she disappeared out from the doorframe. Vainstrel’s parents grabbed Vainstrel’s hands and leaned into his face.

“OH. MY. GOSH!” they both exclaimed. “She is PERFECT.” 

Vainstrel leaned back, attempting to get personal space from his parents. “That I must agree.” 

Both of his parents were wiping tears from their faces. 

“I truly thought you simply found a consistent food source,” said Rapoto.

Lana sniffeled. “But you brought someone with so much more substance than that.” 

Rapoto and Lana then clasped their own hands together and pushed their cheeks together, looking straight into Vainstrel’s face. “And she loves you.” They then fell backwards onto the floor, their free hands resting on their forehead. “And you so clearly love her.” 

“I do love Lady Spark, but she is simply just a friend.” 

Rapoto and Lana both scoffed. They immedeately jumped back up, furiously leaning into Vainstrel’s face. “And who are you kidding with such words? Do you not know the way that you look at her and the way she looks at you?” 

Vainstrel placed a hand over his heart. He closed his eyes. “I…do suppose I love her, but that is not our relationship at this moment.” 

Rapoto and Lana both snickered. Vainstrel frowned, seeing the smirks upon their faces. He then sighed. 

“I am simply happy that you have seen Spark for who she is and not just simply a food source for I.” 

Rapoto and Lana both nodded. “She. is. INCREDIBLE.”

Rapoto pulled out his notes, peering into it. “Do you not see how rare she is? Even amongst the Alamentals, her element is quite uncommon. And she is simply kind. And the way those sparks around her head when her emotions are being expressed is so very fascinating. And the jolt in which you get from her blood simply because it has electricty through it. And the ability to control the levels from within the body for the element’s flow? How fascinating, so very fascinating!” 

Vainstrel couldn’t help but smile. “I am simply glad that you both like Spark.” 

Rapoto and Lana gasped. “Like? We LOVE her!” 

Vainstrel’s eyes popped, watching the glittering in his parents eyes as they declared that they loved Spark. 

“Hi!” greeted Spark, bouncing through the door. “Wow, your bathroom was AMAZING! Are they all like that? It was so roomy and beautiful.” 

Rapoto smiled. “There are plenty more around here.” 

Spark’s eyes glittered. “Oooo. Vainstrel, you’ll have to show me all of them one day!” 

Vainstrel stood up, laughing as he did so. He reached out a hand to Spark. “Anything for you, my dear lady Spark. However, I suppose it is time I supply you with gifts once more.” 

Spark took his hand. “Sure!” 

Lana and Rapoto waved to the both of them. “Spark, please visit again!!” 

Spark waved back to them. “I definitely will!” 

Vainstrel lead Spark out of the room and down the halls, making the way to his room. 

***

Vainstrel turned the corridor. “I do apologize for my parents. They are sometimes a bit too overbearing.” 

Spark giggled. “It’s fine! I like them. They’re cute.” 

Vainstrel laughed. His mouth dropped open. “Cute? My parents? Such an absurd idea…!!” 

Spark rolled her eyes. “Is it really absurd though? You could just tell how much they love each other.” 

Vainstrel shurgged. “I suppose  that is true…”

Vainstrel stopped in front of his bedroom door and turned the knob, opening into his bedroom. He strolled in, listening to Spark whisper “whoa.” 

“Welcome to my room, lady Spark,” said Vainstrel, extending his free hand out to the rest of the room. It was large, spacious, and well-divided into different sections, all loosely paritioned off by furniture. 

The room has roughly 4 sections: the study, the lounge, the entrance way, and the bedroom. Each place had varying levels of messiness, the study being the most cluttered of them all. The entrance way stood in the middle of the room and extended from the doorway to about the lounge, which laid north of the door. The lounge itself was simply a fancy fireplace with a fancy coffee table and matching couch in front of it. The bedroom was a canopy bed, two night stands, a table with a few chairs, and a walk-in closet that was tucked into the corner of the room. The study contained many bookshelves, drawers, and a table. The bookshelves acted as the most obvious partion of them all, standing back to back, creating temporary walls. 

Up on the ceiling was a stained glass dome that easily reflected light onto the walls. Additionally, Vainstrel had two chandellers that hung above both his study and his bed area. 

“It’s…it’s so BIG,” exclaimed Spark. “And so beautiful!” She pointed up at the stained glass dome. “That’s so gorgeous!” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Thank you for your compliments, Lady Spark. Now…please accompany to my study so that I may present you with gifts.” 

“Sure, of course!” said Spark. “Lead the way!” 

Vainstrel guided Spark, who had her arm wrapped around his, and the two of them entered the study. In the corner, on one of the table, were two full completely gift baskets and several partway done. Vainstrel stopped right in front of them, extending his hand out to them.

“My dear lady Spark, this is what I have purchased for your enjoyment and replenishment. Feel free to take what you would like for now – I shall treat you to more.” 

Spark released herself from Vainstrel’s arm and leaned in, her hands on her cheek. “Oh my goodness, everything looks so cool!” 

Vainstrel thought Spark might start drooling any moment, but found instead she simply picked up one basket. 

Spark gave Vainstrel a big smile. “I’m more than happy to just take this one!! If it’s okay with you, could I eat some now? I’m feeling like I could use some of this juice and bread now.” The witch then giggled. 

Vainstrel took her hand. “Of course. Let us move to the table in my bedroom.” Vainstrel picked up one of the baskets and the two of them moved over to the table set up close to his bed. He placed it down a short distance from where Spark had helped herself to a chair. 

Vainstrel gently opened the basket’s cellophane wrapping. “Now, which items would you like?” 

Spark stood up and leaned over the basket, quickly pulling out a whole wheat sourdough half-loaf, some fruit jam, and some juice, along with a beautiful intricately-decorated glass cup that she poured the juice into. “Oh my goodness, every single thing looks delicious!” 

Vainstrel walked over to a small table against the wall that was decorated with utensils and condements. He took the knife from the utensil stand and placed it in front of Spark, as well as a plate form beside it. “Truly, anything for you, my dear Spark. If you have any more request, I am here to serve” 

Vainstrel watched Spark blush as she quickly spread jam on her torn pieces of bread. The way she stuffed her mouth with the bread was particularly endearing.

“MMMMMMM! This. is. SO GOOD!” 

Vainstrel smiled. “I am happy to here that, Lady Spark! I ordered it from the best bakery I am aware of, simply because you must have the best of it all.” 

Spark sighed. “This is so good. I’m so sad Coal burned the first one to a crisp. I bet Aqua-marie would’ve eaten this stuff with me.” 

Vainstrel sat down in a chair himself, leaning onto one hand. “I am aware of your family’s hostilities torwards me. I can imagine Aqua-marie would have been more than happy to share, however. She seemed like a pleasant girl.” 

Spark nodded. “Yeah. Aqua-marie’s too young to really understand the family curse and stuff.” 

“The one regarding your great uncle?” 

“You mean my Grand Uncle.” 

“Ah, yes. You have once mentioned it before.”

Spark sighed, taking another bite form her bread. Vainstrel watched her prop her own head up with one hand. “You know…when my parents found out that I made a blood contract with you, they called me ‘cursed’. Can you believe that?” 

Vainstrel’s eyes widened slightly larger than normal. “You know, I heard them refer to you as that as well when you were still slumbering. I was confused by such a thing – I do recall your family believes your Grand Uncle is cursed, but I am not sure what it has to do directly with you.” 

Spark grumbled, stuffing the remainder of the piece of bread spread with mixed fruit jam into her mouth. After chewing for a moment and taking a sip of juice, she leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. She folded her hands on the table. 

Vainstrel hadn’t seen such a solemn look on Spark’s face before. Normally she was smiling. Even when she wasn’t, her frowns and neutral faces still looked as if they were about to dance with sparks at any moment. But the thickening atmosphere and seriousness on her face indicated something else.

“I didn’t really feel comfortable telling you about this before because it’s pretty crazy, but I think since my family was super rude to you, I think you probably should know.” A small smile appeared on Spark’s face. “Plus, we’re blood contract partners now and I so totally think you’re entitled to the ridicliousness of my family.” 

Vainstrel took a moment to look at Spark in the eyes. What is she about to reveal to me? He then rested his hands on top of Spark’s. “Mmm,” he vocalized, nodding his head. 

Spark closed her eyes briefly, before opening them again, looking at Vainstrel. Her small smile faded as she opened her mouth. 

“So, my Grand Uncle supposedly has a curse that was given to him by the Great Mother, so his sister. According to this curse, if anyone in the family talks to him, they will be the black sheep of them family and be condemned to a lonely life.” Spark then chuckled, but her face looked pained. “I think it’s soooo stupid – the Grand Uncle isn’t a bad person at all. I don’t even know what he did to anger his sister like that.” Spark’s face scrunched. “He won’t even tell me and the Grand Mother just simply said they were having a stupid fight like siblings do.” 

Spark gasped, then lifted up her finger, removing a hand from underneath Vainstrel’s. “Oh! So, the Grand Mother is actually the Great Mother’s mother! Um, you see, I guess the Grand Mother had married an elemental king forever ago and the Great Mother was their child, which is why we are all born with elemental abilities. The Great Mother is why we all have it, since she was the combined presence and the first one with markings like mine.” Spark pointed to the markings on her face and arms. “Um…I guess the Grand Uncle is actually only the Great Mother’s half sister, from what I’ve been told. I guess he’s not an elemental at all, but just a pure witch.” 

Spark placed both of her elbows on the table, leaning into them and pouting. “I don’t even get why she’d do something as stupid as curse the Grand Uncle. I wish someone would tell me, but no one does. I wish the Great Mother was still around, but I guess she left for the elemental realm forever ago. I really want a clear answer!” Spark grumbled. 

Vainstrel’s brow slightly furrowed. How fascinating…but yet, something is rubbing me as very strange. 

Vainstrel raised his hand, keeping his elbow on the table. “Spark, my dear, may I inquire how far back your family line goes?” 

Spark tapped her cheek. “Hnnn….I think several hundred years.” 

Vainstrel’s eyes widened. “And you speak with the Grand Uncle and Grand Mother?” 

Spark laughed. “Yeah! Of course! They’re both alive and well!” 

“But they are only witches, yes?” 

Spark nodded. “Yeah, they are.” 

Vainstrel grasped his chin. I am aware that we all have such long life spans, but a witch to span over several hundred years…I do not believe I have heard of such a thing.

“Oh, uh, they’re the Naitmaric.” 

Vainstrel’s eyes slowly rose to meet Spark’s eyes. 

“…the Naitmaric?” 

“Yeah!” Spark smiled. Then she frowned, tapping her cheek. “Well, the Grand Mother always says they’re Naitmarian. Well, she’s Natimarian. And Grand Uncle isn’t, but is…and…” Spark held her head, her eyes spinning. “Aaaah, this all gets confusing! But basically, I guess the Grand Mother is from a place called Naitmaric, which makes her Naitmarian, like how we’re Ghoprean, since we’re from Ghopre.” 

Vainstrel’s lips stayed slightly parted, all while looking at Spark looking rather fried. Even her sparks of electricty around her upper body looked like they were zapping her rather than dancing about her. THE Naitmaric? Those hidden among us, said to have founded Ghopre? And she descends from such ancestory? AND they are available to be spoken to at one’s leisure? 

Vainstrel paused his thoughts for a moment. 

Just who IS this magnificent partner of mine? What else is hidden within the depths of herself and within her family? 

Vainstrel clasped the inside of his cape, looking down on the table. “Do…do you think the Grand Mother would accept me?” 

Spark giggled. “Yeah, sure, why not? I mean, she got together with an elemental king, after all! I can’t see why she wouldn’t. I bet if the Great Mother was around, she’d be open to it too!” Spark then hung her head. “Well, maybe not, if she actually cursed the Grand Uncle…” She immeditately sat back up, full determination on her face. “No! Of course not! There’s no curse on the Grand Uncle or me or anyone else in the family!” 

Vainstrel felt tension leave his body. “I am simply glad that there is most likely someone other than yourself and perhaps your dear younger sister, Lady Aqua-marie who will accept me.” 

“I’m glad too…oh, I hope Aqua-marie won’t turn out like the others…I’m disappointed in Coal too.” 

Vainstrel sighed. “I am very pleased that my parents have taken a liking to you.” 

Spark clasped her hands together. Vainstrel saw the zapping lightning bolts around Spark’s head change over to the happy, dancing flickers he was all too familiar with. The glitter in Spark’s eyes even returned. “I’m so happy too!” exclaimed Spark. She then placed a hand on her heart. “I was afraid they weren’t going to like me.” 

“I had no doubt that they would like you. My own concerns were the perspection they were carrying about you and my wretched sister’s behavior.”

“Ria seemed nice!” 

Vainstrel began to laugh, but it quickly turned into a groan. “I am truly surprised at how long my sister maintained a smile on her face – it was forced and clearly had been breaking her. But no matter. It simply is how Ria is. It is not my problem.” 

Vainstrel then smiled. “As long as my parents enjoy your presence in my life, we shall see no hardships from my end.” 

“I’m so happy about that too!” replied Spark. “What did they say about me?” 

Vainstrel’s face turned pink, recalling his parents insistence that he and Spark were in love. He pushed the thought from his mind, looking up at her. “They said that they love you.” 

Spark squealed. “Ooooh! I’m so happy to hear that!” She then frowned. “I wish my family could do the same with you.” 

Vainstrel laughed. “Perhaps, one day, they will come around.” 

Spark laid her head on the table. “Booooo…I hope so.” She scrunched her face. “At least let Aqua-marie grow up not judgemental from seeing us…I wish Coal would come around too.” 

Vainstrel cocked his head curiously. “You keep on mentioning Sir Coal. Are you close to him?” 

Spark lifted herself up off the table and nodded. “Yeah. We’re actually super close. He’s always trying to protect me and I appreciate it, but like…I know what’s best for me.” 

Vainstrel leaned back, nodding his head as he did. “I will admit, the way in which he carries himself was certainly different than the rest. Despite the rudeness he has repeatedly shown me and the burning of the gift, he seemed far more willing to hold a conversation with someone such as myself, even when he was about to burn me with his embers.” 

“Uuuugh, I am so sorry about that. I will have to talk to him about it…” 

“It is alright, my dear lady Spark. If it had not been for that, we may have waited a bit longer before you had a chance to greet my parents.” 

“Well then, maybe I should thank Coal for that then!” 

Vainstrel could feel himself melting under the brillance of Spark’s smile. 

***

Spark pat her stomach and yawned. “Heeeey, Vainstrel, can we take a nap?” 

Vainstrel stood up. “Yes, of course! Let me lead you to one of the guest rooms.” 

Spark waved her hand, standing up herself. “Nah, no need! Your bed should be just fine.” 

Vainstrel blushed. “What? Is such a thing even appropriate?” 

Spark chuckled. “What are you? A Tarheian? Who thinks like that?” 

Vainstrel watched Spark walk over to his bed. His heartbeat began to bound as he watched Spark remove her underbust corset from around her waist and grabbed the yellow part of her dress and began to lift it up. His face flushed and he slammed a hand down on the table, while extending out another one. “Lady Spark, may I ask what you are doing?” 

“Um, removing layers of my clothes so it will be easier to sleep.” 

Vainstrel’s mouth gapped open.

Spark’s mouth curled. “What? Did you think I was getting naked?” 

Vainstrel gulped.

Spark giggled. “I’m not going to do that silly!” 

Vainstrel watched as parts of the witch’s clothing dropped to the floor – first the corset and the yellow and brown parts of her dress, followed by numerous petticoats that had been hidden beneath her dress. Spark slipped out from her boots and for the first time, Vainstrel was able to see just how the birthmarks beautifully wrapped around her ankles and ran up her legs. 

A thought lingered in the back of his mind: I wonder where else on her body those marks lie? The thought got his heart pumping and face heated. What an inappropriate thought for the moment

“Hey, where can I put these?” asked Spark. 

Vainstrel looked over, breaking his thoughts, seeing Spark had folded her clothes while he was immersed in thoughts of how she must look underneath the remaining articles of clothing. She hugged them close to her body with one arm, while the other held her boots. 

Vainstrel jumped, pushing the basket of food aside. “You can simply lay them on this table.” 

Spark smiled. “You got it.” 

Vainstrel took a step aside, watching Spark place her boots on the ground near where she had once sat and the clothes up on the table. She then removed the small witches hat from her head and placed it on top.

Spark’s hands were then pulling at Vainstrel’s arm. “Come on, nap with me!” 

Vainstrel attempted to pull away. “But Lady Spark, I am simply not tired!” 

Spark, with such amazing strength that Vainstrel’s eyes popped, threw both herself and Vainstrel onto the bed. Holding onto him tightly, she smiled into his face. “Then just keep me company until I sleep.” 

Vainstrel was going to pull away, but the words he read from the blood contract books began to surface and he couldn’t help but remember as long as it is non-destructive to you or the contract partner, follow their request. And this request, no matter how he looked at it, could be considered “non-destructive.” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Yes, my dear lady Spark. I shall keep you company until you reawken from your slumber! But I do request we at least lay on the bed properly.” 

Spark giggled. “Yeah, sure! Of course.” 

Both Vainstrel and Spark crawled onto the bed properly, laying their heads on the pillows. 

Vainstrel laid on his side and Spark followed suit, her back to Vainstrel. Vainstrel watched as Spark backed into him. Vainstrel could feel his face heating up. 

Spark’s body was perfectly pressed against Vainstrel’s. One of her hands reached over and grabbed Vainstrel’s nervous hand that had been clenching his pants to around her waist. 

“M-my dear Lady Spark, is this comfortable for you?” 

Spark looked at him, nuzzling his face. “Yeah, it is.” 

Spark then rested her head on the pillow.

Vainstrel stared at her hay colored hair and the small flickers of light around her head. Is this truly okay? What are we even doing? Am I able to take her love for me…far more seriously than I had been before? 

Vainstrel took in a deep breath. The scent on Spark seemed notably stronger than it had been before. Vainstrel leaned his chin forward, his mouth touching the very back of her neck. “Spark, my dear, how are you feeling in terms of your blood?” 

“Hmmm…I think a lot better.” 

Vainstrel paused for a moment. “…if it is alright with you, may I simply check? It is only a quick puncture. Just enough blood will be drawn to determine how well restored you are.” 

Spark turned to him. “Of course you can! Tee hee. I trust you.” 

Vainstrel carrassed her cheeks, gazing into her eyes. He gave her a warm smile. “Anything for you, dear Spark.” 

He kept one hand on her cheek, allowing her head to turn and rest on it. His other hand followed the side of her neck down to the top of her shoulder. His body pressed partially against her’s and he leaned into her neck. His fangs grew out of his mouth and he opened it wide, punching her skin.

“A-ah.” 

Vainstrel slirped once and removed his fangs. He licked the puncture mark close. The blood he had only taken a small sample of proved to be more than enough to anaylze by the taste of it. 

Vainstrel looked into Spark’s flushed face. “My dear Lady Spark, you are on your way to a full recovery, but there is still yet more days to go.” 

“Uh…h-how long is a more days?” 

“Perhaps no more than a week.” 

Spark bit her lip. “Are you going to be okay?” 

“Yes, I shall be.” Vainstrel smiled gently at her. “I have had plenty of your blood already and even the bit now is more than restorative with all that you have already given me.” He grabbed her hand and kissed it. He could feel her heart pulsing underneath him. 

The next thing Vainstrel knew, he was being embraced with both arms of Spark’s. His face rested in the side of her neck. Her body was warm and the electricty around her tickled just a bit. 

Vainstrel paused for a brief moment. Do…I have permission? he wondered. He wrapped his arms around Spark himself, slightly pulling her away from the bed. Their noses met. 

“Thanks for taking me into consideration.” 

“It is truly a pleasure, Lady Spark. Anything for you.” 

Spark lightly knocked on Vainstrel’s forehead with her own. 

Spark then flipped back over and fell back into place with Vainstrel, still making sure Vainstrel’s arms were wrapped tightly around her. 

The last thing Vainstrel could remember as he was dozing off was the warmth of Spark’s body and her heartbeat. 

**END** 

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Shock Bite (Temp Title)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

The final clap of the day and the shout of “THAT IS A WRAP” broke through Vainstrel’s flow. It deflated faster than a balloon losing air. The emptiness he was left with, as per usual, was huge. He made his way back to his seat and collapsed into the chair. Surrounding him quickly were numerous assistants, stripping him of everything he was wearing – make-up, wigs, most of his clothes. 

“You def look like you need sleep,” remarked the make-up artist, a rather trendy looking cyclops who looked out of place in the plain “STAFF” t-shirt he was wearing. “You sure you don’t need some help?” 

Vainstrel, just as his regular shirt was slipped onto him, placed his hand on his chest. The kitsune – only partially transformed – glared at him, but Vainstrel paid no mind. He was about to speak! “Your kindness is appreciated, Ceallach. And it has reached my heart well.” He pointed his finger up in the air. “But though my role is done for today, I shall continue on playing the great hero!” 

He could hear a mixture of giggles and cheers from around him. Yes – I play the hero beyond the stage. 

“Vainstrel, put down your arms,” snapped Airi the kitsune. She took a hold of Vainstrel’s arms and shoved them down. “And stand up.” 

Vainstrel scoffed. “You dare interrupt my speech?” 

Airi’s lips twisted. “Who could say?” 

Vainstrel stared at the flickering playfulness within the fox-girl’s eyes, before giving in. He stood up. “For you, Airi, I shall stand and make your job easier than the water flowing in a stream.” 

“Mmhmm.” 

Airi finished dressing Vainstrel back up within seconds. Upon securing his cape, Vainstrel grasped the front edges, wrapped himself, and tossed it aside, allowing it to almost look like it was flowing in the wind. 

He extended his hand out in front of him. “Thank you all once again for another day to remember! I shall see you all again tomorrow!” 

With that, he dramatically turned on his heel and strutted out the door, simply giving everyone a wave he hoped was more than enough to make his thanks and gratitude a point. 

He strutted down the hallway, out the doors of the performance hall in which he had been rehearsing, and well down the walkways farther from the building, not once letting down his head. However…the second he could no longer see the hall in sight, his body began to fold. 

Sixteen hours full of love, of drama, and of action. There is nothing more I could ask for, other than some drops of blood to replenish me once more for the day so that I can make it home safe. Vainstrel dipped into his pockets, reaching for his vials of blood he carried with him. He fished them out in handfuls…noticing each and every one of them was empty

Vainstrel dropped down to a knee, looking down at all the empty vials in his hand. “What is THIS? Nothing more than specks of blood fill these vials?” He dug out more from his pocket and sure enough…nothing. “Surely, I must have planned properly…is there a mistake? Or had a made a grave error?” 

After digging out each vial and seeing that they were all, indeed empty, his already pale face turned green and he dropped to his other knee. I do not have anything to restore me! The vials poured through his fingers and onto the grass and cobblestone below him, making both a clinking and gentle crunching sound. 

How could I make such a miscalculation and risk putting myself at such a terrible fate? A single tear began to shed. I can only hope that one finds me soon enough, before the start of the show. Vainstrel hung his head. 

Vainstrel allowed his body to collapse onto the ground. He stared up at the trees, with their bare branches, and the light of the sun over the horizon. peeking through, although it was still dark enough to see the stars. He closed his eyes slowly, allowing his weakness to envelope his body even more rapidly than before. 

I thought I had been careful as I had all the other times…was this day particularly grueling? Why oh why must I lie here to shrivel? Why?

As his consciousness faded and he could feel himself drifting off into sleep, the faintest, sweet scent of herbs wafted his way. He sprung up immeditately, whipping his head into the direction of the alluring scent of magic. 

There, in the distance, not too far from where he had been ready to slumber, someone he could see was a witch

He stood up immeditately. What good fortune is this?! Have a been blessed? Most surely I have! 

He scooped his glass vials that had been laying on the ground back into his pocket. His eyes stayed locked on the witch in the distance. 

He had no idea what she looked like in the front, but from the back, he could see that she was wearing a yellow dress with puffy sleeves and a puffy skirt, accented with dark brown and black. Around her waist was most likely a black corset and she wore black boots that reached up to her thighs. Her permanently sun-kissed skin perfectly paired with her hay-colored, curly blond hair that was neatly placed to the left-side of her head in a high ponytail. Her steps seemed to have a bit of a skip in them, causing her ponytail to jump all over the place. 

Vainstrel jumped up to his feet upon finishing picking up his vials (minus a few he missed because he needed food. NOW.)

His feet were light to the point you couldn’t even hear them on the cobblestone. The most noise he made was a whoosh similar to the wind that gentle shook the tree branches. He source of sustances surely would not be able to detect him. 

He was close to the witch within a matter of seconds. His fang teeth, which usually stayed perfectly hidden within his mouth, grew large and his mouth watered. So much magic, so much blood, and so unguarded. I need enough to return home to safety and arrive to rehersals on time. ‘Tis all, ’tis all. 

He reached out his arms towards her shoulders. His teeth hovered near the exposed skin of between her shoulder and her neck. 

He grabbed her shoulders and sunk his teeth into her soft flesh. 

Then came the sudden pain of voltage surging through his teeth, gums, and entire body, along with a yelp he could only be partially sure wasn’t his. 

And then…darkness. 

***

Vainstrel’s eyes fluttered. What is this shade that shields my eyes from daybreak? 

His vision finally cleared, seeing the smirking face of a beautiful young woman stairing down at him with beautifully large brown eyes that seemed to be decorated by dramatic make-up. Her eyes seemed to glint with the light of a lightning storm. 

With one hand on her cheek, the young woman said, “that’s what you get for dealing with an elemental witch.” She laughed. 

Or rather, she giggled.

She giggled with the beauty of a chiming fairy bell. 

Vainstrel licked his teeth, which had mostly shrunk back into his mouth, feeling little bits of blood. But mostly, there was a lingering pain in his gums and his whole body. 

But the fatigue he had been feeling was gone. 

If anything, he felt better than ever before! 

My, what was that shock? Vainstrel placed both hands on his body, one on his chest and one on his stomach, staring up at the beautiful woman. Even now, it is as if the current is still corsing throughout my body. The pain itself bareable for such a jolt. 

His eyes opened wide and gasped. 

Vainstrel stood up. The young woman, startled, fell backwards onto her butt. Vainstrel turned around and got onto his knees, grabbing both of her hands. “LADY OF MAGIC! Never have I, in my life as a vamp, encountered such a life-giving jolt! The pain in which was given to me through the piercing of your flesh is nothing in comparison to the freedom and lightness I can feel throughout my entire being!” He lifted one hand up into the air. “What blessing has been bestowed up me, being hit by such a shock!” He returned his hand back to the young woman – the witch from earlier – grasping both of her hands once more. “Please, do tell, lady of magic, what is your dear name?” 

The witch stared at him with her big brown eyes. Her playful smile from earlier had faded, replaced by one of confusion. She was still smiling, but most certainly confused. Her fairy-chime giggle returned. “You’re funny.”

Vainstrel blushed.

“I’m Spark Alamental.” The witch grinned. “What’s your name?” 

“A name that suits you beyond compare.” Vainstrel cast back his cape and bowed his head. “Vainstral Balan, it is a pleasure, Lady Spark.” 

He lightly clasped one of her hands in his. “My dear lady Spark, I do apologize for the sudden intrusion and disruption to your day. The foolishness of hunger had settled in for me due to an unfortunate missight on the part of me.” 

“You’re hungry?” 

“Yes, that I quite am.” Vainstrel sighed. “The jolt in which you had given me through means unknown has shook me away, perhaps enough to be on my way, but yes, I am quite a hungry for blood as it is for a vampire such as I.” 

He watched Spark tap her cheek and glance off to the side. Something seemed playful about her actions. The witch leaned forward, smiling right into his face. “Hmm…well, Mr. Vainstrel, if you’re really that hungry, I don’t mind giving you some blood.” 

Vainstrel brought her hand close to his chest. “Are you certain? And please – you may just call me Vainstrel.” 

“Yeah, I’m sure about it. I just gotta tone down my electricity.” 

Vainstrel paused for a moment. Was that it? “Electricty, you say?” 

“Yeah,” replied Spark. “I told you – I’m an elemental witch.” 

Vainstrel nodded just enough for it to be seen easily by Spark. I see…I see. Lady Spark is an elemental witch…housing an element within the temple of her own body. “Lady Spark, I would love to be able to suck your blood and feel the current of electricity within my body once more.” 

“Okay, good!” Spark used her free hand to cover it to giggle once more. “I can’t turn off the electricty, but I can tone it down a lot. Just give me a moment. 

“That is more than okay, my lady.”

Vainstrel released Spark’s hand as the young woman turned around. 

Vainstrel could sniff the change in scent in Spark. The peppery tone that seemed to be prominent in her aura had been dramatically turned down.  I see…I see. A peppery-scent for her electrical current housed within her. A current she can control…my…my…my…how fascinating a person she. 

“You can suck now.” Vainstrel watched Spark’s fingers  gently caress the spot he had bitten into not too long ago. 

Vainstrel got to his knees. He carefully lowered his hands onto her warm shoulders. His vision seemed shaky. Am I…trembling? For what am I trembling for? 

His stomach bubbled up. If it wasn’t for the smile on his own face, he would have thought he was nervous. 

He opened his mouth wide, allowing his teeth to grow once more. He leaned forward into the spot that he had pieced before. This time, though, rather than crunching into her skin, he gently pierced it with his teeth. 

He could feel little jolts of electricty dancing around his teeth, but it was nothing like it had been before. Still though…his body seemed to warm just from the feeling of it going up his teeth. He could actually feel his toes! 

The taste of her blood was also perfect. Perfectly balanced, he could taste each mineral within it and the embued magic that was imbedded within her blood was deliciously herby and peppery. Nothing fresh nor stored has ever tasted as complex as this. 

Vainstrel lifted up his teeth licking the blood off from his fangs. He unrolled his tongue and gently licked the holes where he had punctured her skin. He could feel her flinch with each gentle lick of his tongue. She is of true perfection. 

With a final lick, he lifted his head and released her shoulders. He watched Spark to him with a flushed faced and bated breath. Her long fingers brushed against where he had punctured her. Vainstrel couldn’t help but feel elated seeing the absolute look of surprise upon the witch’s face.

“WHOA, they’re almost closed up!” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Yes, my lady. It is a specialty of ours to be able to heal the wounds that we inflict with our fangs.” 

Vainstrel could feel warmth throughout his entire body. Looking down at himself, he could see his skin had returned back to his normal pale white color, although perhaps with a slight bit more pigmentation than normal. Did I drink more than necessary? 

His eyes shifted over to Spark, who had suddenly appeared underneath him, looking straight up into his eyes. Vainstrel jumped. 

Spark giggled. “Are you okay now?” 

“Y-yes, my dear Spark, I feel restored to life once more, in great thanks to you.” 

“Tee hee, that’s wonderful!” Spark clasped her hands together.

Vainstrel gazed at her as if she were a bright super full moon, illuminating everything from within the darkness with her breathtaking glow. Her smile, her eyes, everything about her embodied the beauty of lightning itself. Vainstrel couldn’t really even put into words what he was feeling. And he always had words. Always. 

He watched Spark’s knees enter into his vision field. He looked up, seeing the witch waving at him. “Welp, I gotta get back to work now. See you later, Vainstrel!” 

Later…

Spark began to walk off. 

Vainstrel gasped and sprung up off the ground, quickly grabbing her hand. “W-wait! Please!” 

Spark turned to him, cocking her head. “Is there something wrong?” 

Vainstrel pulled her hand close to his chest. “What can I do to thank you for all that you have given me for today?” 

Spark’s mouth gapped. 

Vainstrel stared intensely into her eyes. “Please, allow me to return the kindness to you one day soon.” 

Spark’s cheeks turned a light pink. “Uh…I appreciate it, but it’s okay. There really is no need. There isn’t particularly anything I want at the moment.” 

“No, there must be something in which you desire!” 

Spark paused for a moment. Vainstrel watched her tap her cheek numerous times. 

What an adorable gesture in which she uses. 

“Hmmm…” 

Vainstrel tightened his hands around Spark’s. “Perhaps we could exchange our telephone addresses of the numerical value so we may discuss the future?”

“You mean my phone number?” 

“Yes, that would be correct.” 

Vainstrel released Spark’s hand as she gently pulled it away. He watched her reach into her skirt pocket and pull out a phone. “Yeah, sure!” replied Spark. “Let’s do that!” 

Vainstrel whipped out his own phone. He opened up the contact exchange application on his phone. The two of them tapped their phones together and with a confirmation BING, they both exchanged numbers, names, profile picture, and even email addresses. 

Then came a second DING DING DING from Spark’s phone.

“Oh no! I’m late!” Spark exclaimed. She clasped both of her cheeks. She put her phone back into her pocket. “I am sooooo sorry, Vainstrel! I REALLY have to go now!” 

“It is all right, my lady Spark. Please take your leave and I shall see you again another day.” Vainstrel lifted up her hand and gave her a gentle kiss.

“Yeah, see you,” replied Spark. He could see the pink on her cheeks get even more flushed as she turned on her heel and skipped off. 

The moment Vainstrel could no longer see Spark, he collapsed onto his knees. He held his phone in both of his hands, looking down at the address book page of Spark. His body was trembling, staring down at her photo. Her glinting eyes and playful green touched his cold heart in ways he had never known and only dreamed of. 

He was completely smitten. 

Perfect blood and electricity to boot. A glittering gaze and a smile to match the electricty of her body. A beauty that could rival the moon. He brought the phone even closer to his face.

I must make her mine! 

He turned his gaze up to where she had previously stood. 

I will get a blood contract from her. 

**END**

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Sadia Meets Clyde

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Ding Ding Ding, La la la, teddy bears are everywhere! 

Sadia finished putting the last stitch on her newest teddy bear – a small, bluish-grey coloured one with soft fur and coal grey eyes – just under her neck as her phone went off. The ringtone repeated the same song over and over as she snipped the thread and placed down the bear on the ground in front of her. She lifed herself up and off the giant teddy bear of different shades of bluish-grey, no fur, and just a few inches shorter than she was, and shuffled her way through her ocean of plushies to her phone. 

She lifted up her cellphone and slid her finger up on the screen. She tapped the speaker button and listened.

“Hello?” asked a young woman’s voice. 

“Hiiiii,” replied Sadia. 

“Is this Sadia?” 

“Of course!” Sadia giggled. 

“Great. Professor Shady and Professor Brat wanted me to invite you to the lab to greet the newest do–” 

Sadia let out an excited gasp, prompting the young woman on the other side of the phone to go silent. Her face lit up and she leapt up in glee. “He’s awake?!” 

“Yes,” replied the woman with a slight infliction of annoyance in her voice. 

Sadia yelped. “Does Flavio know?!” 

“…that’s the other thing. He hasn’t replied yet. Are you able to make sure he got the message?” 

“Yes!” replied Sadia. 

“Great, see you soon.” 

BEEP 

Sadia clapped her hands together, her cellphone still in one hand. She jumped up and down a few times, giggling as she did. Her sugary blue pigtails bounced with each motion she took. 

She slid her phone into her pocket hidden in the seam of her dress. She skipped out of her bedroom and into the living room, stopping in front of a three shelves of teddy bears with more colours than the rainbow.

Each bear on the shelf was no more than 6 inches tall. Each one was made from solid colour fabrics, with varying hues, tints, and shades. Each bear sat in a short, square bin the same colour as the bears  that was full of additional items, ranging from candy to tea. Each set was wrapped in cellophane and tied closed at the top with a ribbon matching the colour of the bear. 

Sadia placed her finger on her lip and stood on the tip of her toes. She leaned forward, scanning each teddy. She ended up settling on a pink and bluish-grey bear. 

Sadia walked to her front door, grabbed a small book bag, and slipped the bear inside. The grin on her face grew as she skipped out the door. 

***

Sadia stopped in front of a purple door with a yellow sign reading “FLAVIO” on it. The door pulsed with the musical beats coming from just beyond it. Sadia rocked on her heels, awaiting for a moment of silence in the music. 

Ah, and there it was, the moment of silene. 

Sadia began to furiously knock on the door. 

“Sadia, is that you?!” called a flamboyant young man’s voice from the other side. 

Sadia then burst through the door and into the entrance way of the apartment, which also acted as a living room. “Yep! It’s me!” 

“I didn’t say you could come in.” 

Sadia hopped over to Flavio and stood behind him. 

Flavio stood in front of a DJ’s turn table. His setup was designed to be both analogue and digital, so he could do whatever he wanted. His turn table lit up with neon lights of various colours. 

His living room was lit up my a black light, making everything that could glow in the purple light glow. Whites stood out, the neon paint splatter on the walls really stood out. Additional coloured lighting on the ceiling really transformed Flavio’s living room to a night club’s dancefloor. 

The only furniture he had in the living room was a couch and two side tables and a lamp that sat on the left-side side table. Above his couch were shelves filled mostly with vinyls, although books and CDs were scattered throughout. There also was a single teddy bear drooping at the end of the bottom shelf farthest to the right. 

“Did you get the phone call?” asked Sadia. 

“No, I’ve been practicing all morning,” replied Flavio. He turned around behind him and flicked a switch. The black light turned off and on came the regular lighting. He then reached over to the side table on the right-hand side beside him and lifted up his phone. 

“The other dolly woke up!” announced Sadia, leaning in over Flavio, who was scrolling through his messages. “We should get going before it gets any later.” 

Flavio raised an eyebrow. “It’s not even noon yet.” 

“But you know Dr. Gladier likes to do a lot of exams on us. If the new dolly JUST woke up, there will be even more exams for him to be doing.” 

“He didn’t call you right away when I woke up,” replied Flavio. He clicked his tongue as he continued to scroll through his list of messages. They were all from various people, although it did appear the woman who called from Dr. Gladier’s labortary spammed him more times than he would have preferred. 

“Oh, no, he didn’t, but we don’t know that! He’s gonna be the…the…” Sadia looked down at her fingers and counted. Under her breath, she listed both her and Flavio’s names. She then held up three fingers over Flavio’s shoulder. “Three! He’s gonna be the third one!” 

Flavio shooed her hand away and turned. “I suppose I could go.” He folded one arm, holding the other one with his cellphone up. “I do need a bit of a break.” 

Sadia gleefully giggled. She grabbed Flavio’s arm and yanked him. “Come! Let’s go meet him.” 

“I can walk myself, thank you very much!” 

***

Sadia giggled and tapped her fingertips together repeatedly. “What do you think he’s going to be like?” she asked, looking to Flavio a short distance behind her. 

Flavio made a shooing motion with his hand. “It doesn’t matter.” 

Sadia stopped in her tracks, turning to Flavio. She was puzzled. “You’re not excited about making a new friend?”

Flavio continued to walk past her down the long hallway. “Who said he’d be my friend.” 

Sadia trailed behind Flavio. “Huh? What else would he be?” 

If Flavio’s hair wasn’t shaped like a waxing cresent moon at the top of his head, he would have flipped his hair. Instead, he brushed his neck just underneath his ear. “Just another nusiance, like you.” 

Tears filled Sadia’s eyes as she shuttered in place. “I’m a…NUSIANCE?!” 

Flavio laughed. “I suppose you are not that bad.” 

Sadia’s face immeditately lit up again. “You think?” 

Flavio flashed her a smug smile. 

The two of them rounded the corner and went into the first door on the left. Inside was a recepitionist desk with a computer and several waiting chairs were scattered about. The strong scent of fresh-baked apple pie filled the air. 

A young woman with black hair in a ponytail walked out of an open-door room, carrying a slice of apple pie. Her apple hair pin glistened under the ceiling lights as she walked back to her seat. 

Sadia skipped over to the desk and raised her hand with a wavy. “Hiiii, Victorina!” 

The young woman forced a smile, her fang teeth showing more promintently. “Hi Sadia.” 

Flavio and Victorina exchanged looks. Flavio smirked and Victorina frowned. 

Victorina placed her apple pie down on the desk and walked around it. She motioned to the two of them to come with her and the walked with her to a door. They entered and walked down a short hallway, just before entering through two large double doors. 

Inside the double doors was a large warehouse lined with numerous electronic equipment, books, vials, and other sorts of things. If it hadn’t been for the electronic equipment, it would have been significantly colder. However, it was a pretty comfortable temperature – not warm enough to not wear a light jacket, but not cold enough to be unbearable. 

In the middle of the room was an operation table, a tray, and various supplies. A short distance away was a monitor on a rolling cart, as well as a stationary desk with two computer monitors and numerous binders, notebooks, papers, and a few pens. 

A young person who couldn’t be any older than 15 with blonde hair, styled to look like a conical beehive, clacked away at the computer. Standing behind the young person was an older gentleman with small glasses, slightly hunched back, and an oversized head faced a young man with blue skin and long, wavy pink hair. The older man and the younger one engaged in idle chatter. 

“Brat, Shady,” called Victorina, who stopped a short distance away. The young person at the computer, the older gentleman, and the younger one turned to her. “Sadia and Flavio are here.” 

Sadia immeditately skipped up to the young man with the pink hair. She scooped the teddy bear gift from her book bag and held it out to him. “Hi! I’m Sadia and I’m so happy to meet you. Let’s be best friends.” 

The young man looked at teddy bear for a moment, before reaching out his hands to grab it by the bin. “Why, thank you Sadia.” He held the gift in one arm and extended out his other. “I’m Clyde. Charmed to meet you.” 

Sadia grasped his hand with both of hers and ferciously shook it. “Oh! It’s so nice too meet you too Clyde! Wow! I’m so happy we have another dolly! It’s so great! Don’t you think? Where’d you get that name? What do you like? What do you ––” 

A smile rose on Clyde’s face as his one eye widened. 

Flavio placed a hand on his hip. “Sadia, can you not see the man does not like that?” 

Sadia gasped. She took her hands away and covered her mouth. “Oh, you don’t like that? I’m so sorry!” 

“It’s fine. I was not expecting such an enthusastic greeting,” replied Clyde. He placed the gift onto the bed behind him.

Clyde then turned his attention to Flavio. His one eye bore into Flavio’s two. “Who are you to try and speak for me?” 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” quipped Flavio. “Did I misread your face?” 

Sadia extended a hand out towards Flavio. “Clyde, this is Flavio! He’s a DJ.” She started making a rectangle with her hands. “He lives in this artsy apartment that’s one of the brightest in Ghopre and there’s a whole bunch of other artsy, music-loving people in it.” 

Clyde smiled. His smile soon twisted ever so slightly. “That sounds a bit obnoxious for my personal taste.” 

“And what blandness do you like?” Flavio spat back. 

“Something more…refined.” 

“Refiiiined?” Sadia thought for a moment. “What kind of music is refined?” 

Clyde turned to Sadia. The slightest hint of annoyance twitched in his face. “I am thinking something like classical music. Orchestrated. Something that you would hear when sipping a hot cup of tea.” 

Flavio snorted. “Orchastral? Tea?” 

Clyde’s brows furrowed. “I do not like your tone very much.” 

“What century are you from?” Flavio flipped his hand. “Coffee and synthized beats are much better.” 

Clyde pressed his fingers to his head with his right hand, turning slightly away from Flavio. He shut his eyes and reached out a hand towards him. “What a way to produce a headache. I understand the allure of coffee is it’s smell, but it lacks the refinement of tea. The synthized beats are computerized trash, devoid of soul.” 

Flavio puffed out his chest and took a step forward, leaning into Clyde’s personal space. “Are you sure you have a soul because your lack of taste seems to indicate as such.” 

Clyde’s one eye glared. 

Heated sparks seemed to start flying between Flavio and Clyde. The air in the room begun to felt like the humity that happens before a summer thunderstorm. Dr. Gladier and Victorina exchanged looks. Sadia’s lips pursed as looked back and forth between their faces. The young person at the computer desk hacking away at the keyboard stopped typing and turned around.

“Heh, heh,” said the young person. “Looks like the clash of personalities.” 

Clyde and Flavio both rolled their heads towards the young person. 

“Shut up,” said Flavio

“Quiet,” said Clyde.

And then they both said the young person’s name “Hadley!”.

Hadley flashed them a toothy vampire smile, once again laughing. Victorina walked over and bopped Hadley on the head with her palm. “Shut up, you old brat. They aren’t that much alike.” She then turned her attention back to Clyde and Flavio. “Ignore him. He’s only good for that brain of his.” 

Sadia skipped in between Clyde and Flavio, throwing her arms over her shoulder and huddling them close to her. Both of them glared up at Sadia, who didn’t seem to notice. Sadia flashed a huge smile. “Hadley’s helped a WHOLE lot, hasn’t he?” 

Victorina extended her palms towards Hadley. “Of course!” 

Flavio pulled himself away from Sadia. He glanced over at a giant clock at the wall. “I think my break is over.” 

Clyde gently removed Sadia’s arm from his shoulder and brushed it off. As he stood up stragiht, Flavio glared at him. “See you never, tasteless.” 

Clyde rolled his eyes as Flavio walked away. 

Sadia waved her hand. “See you later, Flavio!! I’ll come see you tonight!” 

Flavio gave her a non-chalant wave as he walked out the room. 

Victorina whipped out her phone and pulled up an app on it. Her eyes widened. “He’s playing tonight?!” 

Sadia turned to Victorina with a nod. “Oh, yes! I think it was a last minute gig though.” Sadia giggled. 

Victorina whipped to Hadley. “I’m leaving early, so don’t you even think about giving me extra work.” Hadley smiled and laughed as he always did. Victorina’s eyes narrowed. 

Clyde’s eyes darted between the two of them. He then relaxed. He raised his hand, “Victorina, are you able to make me a cup of tea? I think I would like some mint.” 

Victorina nodded. “Yes. Let me get it now.” She disappeared from the warehouse and back into the reception area. 

Sadia clapped her hands with delight. “I’m so happy I chose the right bear for you!” 

Clyde curiously lifted up the gift from the bed behind him. He first looked at the bear, then followed it all the way down into the inner bin. The bin itself was loaded with numerous packets of tea, along with sugar cubes and shelf-stable liquid sweetners. Clyde seemed a bit taken a back before a delighted smile cracked on his face. “Indeed you did. Were you informed for my love for tea?” 

Sadia fevernetly shook her head. Her pigtails whipped in her face. “No, not at all! I was looking at all my gift bears and out of all them, I just knew it was the perfect one to gift you, but I didn’t know why!” 

“You have many more like this?” 

“Yes! I do!” Sadia pulled up her phone and pulled up a picture of the gift shelf. She shoved it into Clyde’s face, who stumbled backwards. “This is the shelf! See all the bears? I made them myself.” 

Clyde lifted his head to slowly give her a single nod. “I…I see.” 

Sadia hopped next to Clyde and leaned in. She missed Clyde frowning at her as she began to rapidly scroll through her images. “That was just the living room. I have the least amount of bears there because I know not everyone likes them as much as I do and it’s the only place I really spend time with others. Oh! And this is my room. See all my bears?! Sometimes I trip over them, there are SOOOOOOO many, but that’s okay, beause I love them all! Here are all the bookshelves in my room with bears and all the floor, and oh, this is the bear I sleep on and –” 

Victorina returned and handed Clyde the mint tea as Sadia continued to babble on about her room and all her bears. 

“How wonderful,” flatly said Clyde. 

“Isn’t it?!” replied Sadia. She jumped up and leaned into Clyde. Startled, the tea cup clanked and a bit spilled out to the plate underneath. Clyde scowled. 

Just as Sadia looked at Clyde, confused why he suddenly seemed annoyed, Dr. Gladier took a step forward and placed his hand on Clyde’s back. “Now, Sadia, I think it is time I get back to my observations with Clyde. We will be heading to another room for an exam now, so you can head on home.” 

“Awww.” Sadia pouted and hung her arms. 

“But before that, please speak to Hadley. We have some instructions for you.” 

Sadia’s face lit up once more. 

Clyde nodded to Sadia as Dr. Gladier gestured at him to come along. The two of them began walking towards another door in the warehouse that was not leading to the reception area. Sadia waved good-bye after them, receiving a loose wave from Clyde just before he disappeared behind the door. 

“Heh heh, Sadia, Dr. Glaider and I have a prospoal for you,” said Hadley. He grabbed a sheet of paper from the print beside the computer monitor and handed it to her. 

Sadia skimmed through the paper. She turned back to Hadley with a huge smile. “Ooooh! You want me to do the same thing I did for Flavio, but with Clyde? I would love to!” 

“Heh, heh! I knew you’d be the best one for the job, heh heh!” 

Sadia bent over the computer desk, placing the piece of paper in front of her. She grabbed a pen and began to doodle. “I think I already know the kind of clothes I’m going to give Clyde…” She stopped for a moment and looked up at Hadley. “But what kind of place do you think he should live in?” 

“Heh, that’s what we are trying to figure out, heh heh. We do not know much about, heh, him yet. Other than his name is Clyde and, heh heh, he loves tea.” 

Sadia returned back to doodling. “I can come up with something! Let me know if you have any suggestions because I want to find the perfect home for Clyde and his teddy bear!” 

Sadia placed down the pen and held the paper in front of her, looking at her doodle. It appeared to be all the pieces of an outfit, plus how they all fit together. it looked like the layers included a black leotard of sorts, loose white under garments including a shirt that showed the midriff, black pants,  a long-sleeved jacket that also showed the middriff, and slip-on dress shoes with a decorative buckle. The sketch that showed everything all together appeared that the white undergarments were longer than the jacket and pants, making them appear like ruffles. 

“Heh, do you need his measurements?” 

Sadia shook her head. “Nope! I got them all up here!” She tapped her head with her index finger. 

“Heh, as expected.” 

Sadia tremebled with excitement. She hugged the paper to her chest. “I’m going to go get started!” 

“Heh, see you later then, heh heh. I’ll let Victorina know to message you, heh, any updates.” 

“Byyyyyyeeeee!” Sadia waved as she run back to the corridor. 

*** 

Sadia sprawled out the fabric across the table and with tailor’s chaulk, began to mark out exactly what she was going to cut. She hummed a nonsensical tune with each line she drew. 

In the corner of her room, her phone started buzzing. On the screen flashed a single message from Victorina: Clyde needs a home near the zombie graveyards. 

***END***

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Clyde Story 1)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


His consciousness seemed to press against his brow as he stirred awake. His muscles seemed to creak like rusty as he started to slowly move around his limbs, gettin a feel for them once again. Cool air brushed against his exposed skin. A symphony of whirring murmurs sung all around him. He wondered to himself how long he had been out, sitting up on the hard bed beneath his body. His face briefly scrunched just before he opened his eyes. 

The light that quickly filled his vision transformed into a large warehouse filled with numerous electronic machines along the walls. He shifted his body to let his legs dangle over the bed. Just as he turned, a voice said, “oh, he’s awake.” 

He narrowed his eyes at the two people in front of him – one an older gentleman with a slightly hunched back and a large head, the other a rather androgynous person who looked no more than 15 years old. The older man had turned to face him fully, while the younger person turned enough to see a bit more than what they would’ve just looking over their shoulder. 

He looked down at himself, a scowl on his face, as he ran his fingers over the large stiches down his chest and all the way to the bottom of his stomach. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint why, but something about his blue skin made him feel slightly uneasy. 

“What do you remember?” asked the older man. His voice was kind, almost like what you would expect from a loving grandfather. 

He looked up, glaring at the man. “What do you mean ‘what do you remember’?”

“Anything really,” said the older man, walking towards him. “Name, hobbies, what you last did or ate. Anything, really.” 

He leaned back, using his arms to support him. His musles ached pretty badly, but he chose to ignore it. He was awake, after all – they would have to stop being so tight at some point. He swung one leg over the other, gently pulling the small white towel that covered his crotch. “What kind of ridiclious question is that? My name is Clyde.” 

The older man and the young person exchanged looks. Smiles rose on their faces. The younger person turned to the computer in front of them and began to clack away at the keyboard. 

“What else?” 

“Before I answer that, who are you?” 

“I am Dr. Gladier,” said the older man. He then extended his arm out to the younger person. “And this is Dr. Hadley. He helps me here in this lab.” 

Clyde looked at both doctors back and forth. “What would I be doing in a labortory with two doctors?” 

Dr. Gladier’s smile extended further. “Well, why do you think?” 

Clyde opened his mouth to speak. He managed to say “ah”, before pausing. He closed his mouth and turned his head away from the doctors. He began to run through his memories…only to find out, he had none. He grabbed his head and looked down towards the concrete floor, shocked. 

“I…I do not remember anything!” 

“Nothing else?” inquired Dr. Gladier. He frowned for a brief moment before smiling. He turned to Dr. Hadley. “It’s amazing he remembered his name.” 

“Heh, heh, amazing indeed.” 

“Is remembering my name so funny?” snapped Clyde.

Dr. Gladier put up a reassuring hand. “Not at all. You are the first dolly to remember anything more than how to speak.” 

Clyde’s tongue started to roll around in his mouth and saliva started to coat it. Clyde swallowed before glaring at Dr. Gladier. “Dolly? What is that supposed to mean? And remembering? I…I must remember more…” 

“Do you remember anything else?” 

Clyde’s tongue squirmed. “Tea…”

“Tea?”

“Yes, I want tea.” 

“Do you like tea?” 

Clyde’s eye lit up as his preference came flooding back to him. “I love tea. I love all kinds of tea. It does not matter what kind of tea it is, for I love and drink them all. I could use some peppermint tea at the moment, however.” 

Dr. Glaider clapped and turned to Hadley. “Did you hear that! Tea!” 

“Heh, heh, yes! Let me tell Victorina to get, heh, him some peppermint tea then,  heh heh!” 

“Very good, very good.” 

Clyde rolled his head back to leer at Dr. Gladier. “Why did you call me a dolly?” 

“Ah yes, about that. You see, Clyde, you had been dead.” 

*** 

Clyde sipped his peppermint tea as Dr Gladier explained what the heck a dolly is and what he meant by that Clyde “had” been dead. 

“I’ve always been so saddened by the young people who have lost their lives to tragic deaths and have wanted to do something about it. I began running experiments back on my home planet, but alas, I became misunderstood and driven out from there and to here. I am quite foruntate that taking refuge in this place turned out to lead me to find my missing ingredients for a full revival.

I was able to build this lab and continue. It took many tries, but I finally had managed to give young person a second chance at life. However, I had not been prepared for the kind of second chance my experiment would lead me to – the first dolly could not even speak. She appeared to have the mind of an infant.

All hope had not been lost, as Dr. Hadley had been able to find a specialist to bring the young woman to where she needed to be in life in a small amount of time. I knew for my next dolly, however, I had not wanted to go through such a thing once more. After tweaking the revival formula, we proceeded once more and revived a young man. We were successful in bringing back his memory of acting his age, however, he could remember nothing else.” 

Clyde lowered the peppermint tea from his lips. “Which number dolly am I?” 

“You are number three. We tweaked the formula cautiously when deciding to revive you, hoping that you would retain more of your memory. It appears that we have been both successful and a bit too cautious. You only remembered two things about yourself from your previous lfe, after all.” 

Clyde gazed down into his tea, lookng at his reflection in the tinted water. His right eye was missing and instead, there was a giant hole. He had stitches on both sides of his mouth running all the way up to under his ears. His eyebrows were also made of stitches. His single dark blue eye turned to Dr. Gladier. 

“Why do you call us ‘dollys’? Are we not people?” 

Dr. Gladier laughed. “Of course you are people. I have called you ‘dollys’ because of the amount of stitching required for each and every one of you! I have chosen to focus on those who had a most unfornuate deaths. Many are mutilated in some form, including yourself.” 

Clyde could suddenly feel a pit in his stomach. He begun to feel cold as Dr. Gladier continued on. “The only stitches from cuts I made was your chest and stomach. As for the rest, your body came that way. I stitched it right back up – it is not right to leave someone in such a condition. I also fixed your eye socket that is missing an eye – it’s an inverted black half-sphere. I had not been sure if you would want a glass eye of some sort, so I left the option up to you.” 

“Well,” exsaperated Clyde. He looked up from his peppermint tea. “I am not quite sure what to make of all of this. I do not know if I should thank you for this second chance at life or condemn you for it.” 

Dr. Gladier’s smile twisted. “Whichever one you end up chosing is fine.” 

Clyde began to sip his tea again. 

I’m dead. Or rather, I was dead. I wasn’t just dead either – I had been mutilated in some way. What kind of life had I previously been living? A creeping tension began to work up his arms as he continued to gulp down the tea that didn’t seem to work very well on his nerves. I don’t think I want to know. 

“You must be cold,” said Dr. Gladier. 

Clyde lowered his tea. “No, I’m quite warm thanks to the tea.” 

Dr. Glaider chuckled. “You have been sitting naked for a long time.” He extended his hand towards Clyde. “That tea isn’t going to keep you warm forever, you know? Let’s get you into some clothes.” 

***

Victorina had brought in a set of black scrubs with two large, rectangular pockets towards the bottom of the top. Clyde slipped on the soft cotton fabric pretty quickly and stood on the cold, concrete floor with bare feet. The rest of him warmed up quickly. He patted the loose shirt lightly as Victorina, Dr. Hadley, and Dr. Glaldier looked on with delight. 

Victorina stuck up her nose. “I knew black would be perfect on you! It goes well with your pink hair and blue skin.” 

“Heh, heh, nice job, Victorina.” 

Victorina puffed out her chest and placed her right hand over it. “Of course!” 

Dr. Hadley flashed her a toothy smile. “Heh heh, I’m surprised it wasn’t, heh, more apple-themed!” 

Victorina glared at Hadley. “Shut up, ya old brat! I have good colour sense, you know! Who do you think planted all those luscious plants out in front of the building?” Victorina puffed her chest out once more. “Oh yes, that was me.” 

“Now, now, I don’t think Clyde wants to hear banter between the two of you,” said Dr. Gladier, putting his hand up to silence both of them.  

Dr. Hadley shot Victorina one more tooth grin and Victorina one more harsh glare before they both turned thier attention completely to Clyde. 

Clyde had a lot of questions, watching the interactions. Something seemed oddly casual between Victorina and Hadley, but he couldn’t tell why – they certainly looked nothing alike. He placed that question of to side as he redirected his attention to the comfy scrubs he was wearing. “I do like these myself. They are quite comfortable. Thank you for taking your time to pick them out for me, Victorina.” 

Victorina blushed and waved her hand. “Oh, you.” 

“Heh, heh, don’t say that to her! It’ll go to her head!” 

Victorina suddenly leapt at Hadley. “OH! THAT’S IT, YOU BRAT!” 

Dr. Hadley let out a giant laugh as he slid out the way in his rolling computer chair from Victorina’s leap. Victorina quickly caught her footing and begun to chase him around. Clyde’s eyes went wide and shifted, exchanging looks with Dr. Gladier. 

“You look like you are curious about their relationship.” 

“Quite.” 

“I’ll explain it on the way to the room you’ll be staying in.” 

Clyde’s ears perked up. “Oh? There is a room for me to sleep other than this one?” 

“Would you really want to sleep in here overnight?” 

“I suppose not.” 

“I thought so. Come.” 

Dr. Gladier motioned to Clyde. Clyde followed, leaving Victorina and Dr. Hadley behind. 

*** 

“You have just reawakened from Death’s cold embrace. To ensure that you are in good health, you must stay in this facility in the meantime so that I may monitor you for any complications,” explained Dr. Gladier as they walked down a short hallway. The finally stopped in front of a door on the left and wallked through. 

The room was decent-sized and appeared to be a cross between a hotel room and a hopsital. Numerous pieces of medical equipment were strategtically placed around the room to check vitals and repair minor issues at a moments notice. The rest of the room was rounded out with a well-made bed, couch, nightstand, and lamp. Mounted on the wall was a high-definition TV. Below the TV was a set of drawers and cabinet with a coffee brewing machine on top of it. In the left-hand corner of the room was a small bathroom with a stand-in shower, sink, and toilet. The bathroom was painted a pastel green, while the bedroom itself was a pastel indigo colour. 

“This is your sleeping quarters for the next month.” 

Clyde looked over the room. “Impressive for being a room to monitor my health. What will I be doing after a month?” 

Dr. Gladier clasped his hands together. “I will be working on getting you a permnant residency and occupation while you are here. Once a month has passed, you will move to your new home and start your new occupation.” 

“Sounds quite alright,” said Clyde, sitting down on the bed. He turned his attention back to Dr. Gladier. “And what would my occupation be?”

“During this month, we shall be running a series of test to determine what would be best for you.” 

Clyde cracked a smile. “I shall look forward to it.”

Clyde cast his gaze down to the floor. His smile slowly faded as he looked at the slightly worn tile. He listed to his mind for memories to come flooding back to him, but nothing other than longing curiousity surfaced. What had I been doing in my past life? 

After a moment, Dr. Gladier broke through the heavy silence. “Are you still curious about Dr. Hadley and Victorina’s relationship?” 

Clyde perked up. “Yes, I still am. Something appears off to me about them, but I cannot put my finger on it.” 

Dr. Gladier lifted up his finger. “Ah, the first thing you must understand is that looks can be decieving – especially when it comes to vampires. Dr. Hadley and Victorina have been a team for a very long time now. Dr. Hadley once told me he chose Victorina to be under his care simply because of her extensive knowledge of Vampires, Plant, and Fungi.” 

“Oh? How long?” 

“Several hundred years.” 

*** 

The machines in the room were nearly silent. The loudest machines looeked the clunkiest and oldest. Clyde laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling. No light was on in the room whatsoever, although light from the hallway peeked underneath the crack under the door. This did not bother Clyde one bit. In a way, it helped him to know that he was alive and that he could see. 

His mind was blank. Echoes of the conversations of the day floated in and out of his consciusness. He didn’t pay much mind to them whatsoever, as he knew his mind was just filtering them. He was more interested in seeing if anything from his previous life would resurface. 

My name is Clyde. And I like tea. 

And just like earlier in the day, that was all he could remember.

He flipped over to his left-hand side and dozed off in time to the quietly whirring machines.

***END*** 

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Record Deal with a Demon

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Violet behind the curtain of the stage, inspecting her violin one more time. Well-polished, well-tuned…everything was in place. And of course it was – this was Violet after all. The violin prodigy! If Foreligis had been more connected, she would be better know – but it was fine. At least her home, the large city-village of Aurum, had enough space for her…supposed. 

She turned to the mirror that stood beside her, posing with her violin. Her purple hair rained down her shoulders and she gently brushed it away to brush it off from one of her many precious violins. Excitement almost immeditately bubbled up through her stomach and into her heart. Soon it was circulating into her system, transforming from nervous-excitement to pure energy. She lowered her violin and her bow, smiling widely in the mirror in front of her – she was ready to perform. 

“…um’s prodigy, VIOLET BAUM!” 

Applause thundered so loudly, the whole stage shook underneath Violet’s feet. This served only to cause her steps to lighten even more as she placed her violin on her shoulder and began to play intensely for every person in Aurum, even if they weren’t attending. She stepped out in almost a skip, quickly silencing the outdoor concert hall. She swung her body in time to the music, dancing along with the sound she produced with just herself, the bow, and the violin. 

She stepped along the stage, allowing the flow of her dancing to energize her very core. The audience began to clap again, adding an additional layer behind her. She giggled to herself, remember the brief thought she used to have when she was just a young child – the very annoyance at the clapping before she was done and how distracting it once seemed that they would be clapping along with her music. But now they’re a part of my performance.

CREEEEAK

Violet’s gut pinched at the sound of creaking from around her. Tension hugged her upper arms, but she kept on playing anyway. It’s nothing, ignore it. She told herself, mentally pushing herself back into the music. She took a few steps towards the back of the stage, walking backwards to amp up a powerful, speedy performance. The crowd cheered, yelped, and clapped. She began to spin around and around, swinging her head.

CREEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

The stage and its surroundings moaned once more. Violet’s gut pinched and twisted again. Although her face was smiling, internally, she was starting to get really angry. Her ears moved from the music to the unharmonious creaks of the stage. How dare you! she spat in her head as she continued to smile and play on the outside, hoping underneath no one was going to notice her anger. You’re messing up my rhythm! 

CREEEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

Up from her stomach shot up a single word to her head: DANGER. 

CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

And what did she do? Attempt to push it down – she was at the best part in the song! 

CREEEEEEEEAK CREAK CREEEEEAK CREAK CREAK CREAAAAAK CREAK

She began to slam her foot to the ground to each note that she played, banging her head in the air as she did so. The audience clapped along. Her notes became hire and she turned around, looking up at the ceiling with her up body, leaning her head back. Normally, she’d look briefly at the audience, but that obnoxious creeeeeeaking caught her attention instead. 

Her eyes watched as the creaking metal above her swayed violently. 

Her gut shouted to her DANGER, DANGER, DANGER! 

Her eyes widened, watching everything become unhindged and then…

CRAAAAAAAAAAAAASH! 

Screams came from behind Violet, but she couldn’t see where – on top of her was metal and wood. And in her. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] The Princess and the Shark Boy

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Midnight Star sat on the rock bench, leaned back against the warm stone. All around her seaweed of numerous shades of green swayed in the gentle ocean current, almost hypnotizing her to relax with their rhythm. Some of the leaves gentle brushed her from behind, tickling her shoulders over the fabric of her crop-top. Although her gaze was softened and her body calm, she moved to touch a long piece of seaweed that was draped over her shoulder. She held it in her hands, her fingers running over the varied surface of the green plant. The texture was like a bunch of cracks, similar to the stone bench she sat on, but much more uniform. 

Each time she ran her fingers over the seaweed, feeling every single detail, she further relaxed. Her breathing slowed and her consciousness seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the depths of her being. And her eyes weren’t even closed! But oh, did they want to close. The silence of the seaweed garden, the ocean currents moving like underwater wind, and the beauty of the small details all around relaxed her deeper with each passing moment. A peaceful smile slowly spread across her face as her shoulders fell. She slipped down from her seat – just enough to still feel fully supported and comfortable. 

Time stopped as her eyes flickered closed. 

Then YANK! 

Midnight Star jolted awake and jumped up, whipping around, seeing a boy around her age snickering at her. Midnight Star snarled at the shark merman in front of her, “NEN!”

Nen laughed. “You better wake up, otherwise some fishermen is going to think he lost his rope!” 

Midnight Star slapped his hand away as Nen tried to reach for her hair once more. Her mouth spread across in a straight line and she closed her eyes. “Nen, do you think that is funny AGAIN?” She then turned a bit, folding her arms, pouting, “And I wasn’t sleeping.” 

Nen grabbed one of her pigtail braids. “Every time,” he replied. He laughed again. “It really IS like a rope – do you see how big and long this braid is?” 

Midnight Star snatched it back. “I really don’t like when you do that…” 

“What? Touch your hair or call it a rope?” 

“Both.” 

The blue-gray shark merman swam up from behind the bench and lowered himself down onto it. He leaned back, one arm resting across the backboard. His other hand was halfway in the air as he spoke. “But have you looked at it though?” 

“…” Midnight Star pursed her lips. “All I see is questionable genes.” 

“I know, I know,” Nen threw his head back. “You wear them in braids to hide the fact you’re the only one in your family with straight hair.” 

Midnight Star took one of her braids in her own hand, gently stroking it. From her heart to stomach seemed to be swirling with nausea, she couldn’t help it either – every single time she sees her hair, she questions it. Brown and straight – was she really a member of the royal family? She lightly tugged on the braid.

“Rope hair.” 

Anger rose up from her stomach and spat out of her mouth. “If I’m rope hair, then you’re a curve-boy!” 

Nen flinched. Midnight Star, cheeks flushed from her anger, watched him hug his body and eyes glaze over. Nen, indeed, did have curves. He curved higher up than the average male. Something about his overall physic was much more androgynous and feminine than anything else about him. 

Nen’s eyes shifted around for a moment. Midnight Star watched him carefully. He’s about to do som–

With a twist smile and mischievous furrowed brows, Nen sprung up from the stone bench and yanked the blue star hair clip from her hair. 

Midnight Star gasped as a few lose pieces of hair swayed in front of her like a miniature seaweed garden. “NEN!” she gasped. 

Nen stuck out his tongue. “Come and get it, if you want it so bad!” 

Midnight Star grumbled. She lunged forward to grab the clip, but Nen gracefully moved out of the way. “Give it back! Ugh! I hate when you do this!” 

Nen’s only response to was to laugh. 

Midnight Star and Nen kept going around in a circle, zigzagging each and every way. Midnight Star grabbed and grabbed and grabbed, but Nen always managed to get the clip out of her grasps. Her stomach turned and the tightness of panic overwhelmed her chest. “I don’t want you to break it!” 

“I’m not going to break it. If it breaks, it’s YOUR fault!” 

“No, it’s your fault because if you didn’t take it, it would have been safely holding my hair back!” 

Nen laughed, swiping it away from Midnight Star once more. 

Midnight Star stopped and looked up, watching Nen bump into a gorgeous woman with mystical air about her. The half-swordfish merwoman looked down at Nen, unamused. 

“There you are,” she said. 

“M-mom!” exclaimed Nen, startled. He quickly turned around and looked at her nervously. 

Nen’s mother’s eyes darted to the clip in Nen’s hand, promptly swiping it. She rubbed it with the cloth of her arm band, cleaning off any grim that had been stuck to it. She then swam over to Midnight Star and presented it with both hands. “Princess Midnight Star, I am sorry that my son keeps doing these things to you.” 

Midnight Star leaned slightly over, seeing Nen’s nervous wide-eyes. His bottom lip was quivering. “He called my hair a rope again,” said Midnight Star, flatly. 

Midnight Star bowed her head in thanks as she took the hair clip from Nen’s mother’s hands. “Thank you, Lady Medeba.” 

“The pleasure is mine, Princess Midnight Star,” Lady Medeba replied, curtesying. Her attentiveness was soon shifted to annoyance as she turned to Nen with a forced smile. 

Lady Medeba yanked Nen by his upper arm fin. 

“Ow! Mom…” 

Lady Medeba’s forced smile never faded. A vein clearly popped out from her forehead. “My son, please stop harassing the Princess. I fear the engagement will be called off otherwise.” 

“What? No way!” objected Nen. “She knows I’m just joking around!” 

Lady Medeba turned to Princess Midnight Star. “Do you know he’s just joking around?” 

Midnight Star frowned. It doesn’t feel like it. 

Lady Medeba whipped her head back forward. “I’m going to take that as a ‘no’.” 

Nen attempted to protest, but no words came out from his mouth. Lady Medeba pulled him towards the garden exit. “Come, I need you to help me with something.” 

Nen slapped his mother hand on his fin, repeatedly saying, “Mom, that hurts, let go!” 

Lady Medeba, unmoved, turned her head to Midnight Star. “Oh, yes! I almost forgot – Princess, the King and Queen are looking for you.” 

Midnight Star looked confused. “Thank you,” she said to Lady Medeba. 

“See you for lessons,” replied Lady Medeba, dragging Nen away – moving her hand from his fin to his wrist. 

Midnight Star giggled, watching Nen shake off his mother’s hand and the two of them laughing. She could barely make out Nen nagging her for yanking on his fin again. Their voices faded off and once again the seaweed garden was full of silence. 

Midnight Star began to lull off where she floated. A jolt ran through her and her eyes popped open. “My parents!” she gasped, scurrying off towards the castle. I wonder what’s wrong? Did I get in trouble for something? I don’t think I did anything wrong…

***

Midnight Star sighed with relief as she swam out of the courtroom. I’m not in trouble…good. She laughed to herself. Of course I’m not in trouble, I didn’t do anything wrong, right? I don’t think I ever did…

“You look like you’re overthinking again.” 

Midnight Star looked up fom the ground she had been looking at, seeing Nen smirking at her. He leaned against the door frame, his blue-gray hair swaying in the ocean currents that ran through the castle. Midnight Star blushed. “Yeah, I guess I am…” 

“Come on, let’s head to class.” 

Nen extended his hand to Midnight Star and she took it. The two swam together down the hallways to the other side of the castle, where the study was located. 

“What did your parents want anyway?” asked Nen. 

“Oh, um…I thought I was going to get in trouble, but it turned out to be about Glitter Light’s graduation.” 

Nen chuckled. “Why would you get in trouble?” 

Midnight Star shrugged. She placed a hand over her beating her. “I don’t know. Maybe I forgot about something? I don’t always have the best memory…” She slightly trembled. 

Nen’s hand tightened around her’s. “I think everyone knows you need reminders, so I don’t think that’s a problem.” 

Midnight Star felt a stab in her stomach. Oh, I suck. No one should have to remind me…what’s wrong with me? 

There was a moment of silence as Midnight Star ran through her head. I have straight, brown hair. I can barely remember things. I don’t really have any majour duties. I get to marry the Official Court Witch’s son. I mean, that’s definitely not the worst and I love Nen and all, but aaaaaaaah, do my parents have any confidence in me? I’m such a disappointment…

“Um…what was it about Glitter Light’s graduation?” 

Midnight Star jumped as her line of thought broke. “Oh! Um…it was…it was about food. They were asking me if I had any special request for dinner during the celebration. It’s a small celebration and it’s not for me, so I don’t know why they’re asking me.” 

Nen laughed. “They should be asking Glitter Light!” 

“Right?!” exclaimed Midnight Star. She laughed too. “I thought the same thing! Why ask me? It’s her celebration!” 

The two laughed for a moment more before Midnight Star changed the subject. “Lady Medeba wanted you too, right?” 

Nen nodded. “Uh-huh,” he grumbled. 

“Uh-oh, what did she make you do?” 

Nen suddenly stopped and turned to Midnight Star, grabbing both of her hands. Midnight Star’s eyes widened and she glanced around, seeing the servants in the castle pass-by with only the slightest of glances. Oh no, they’re all staring at us. Wait…that’s okay. That’s fine. We’re engaged, it’s normal. It’s normal. “Um…” What is he doing? Why did we stop? Wait, what’s he doing with my other hand?? Oh, he’s just taking it…but why? 

“Mom chewed me out for making fun of you again,” replied Nen. His eyes darted to the side and he slightly blushed. Midnight Star held her breath, unsure where he was going with his actions. Nen tightened his grip on Midnight Star’s hands. “She’s really worried that one day I’ll take it too far and the engagement will get called off.” 

“No!” yelped Midnight Star. Nen jumped. She took one of her hands back and covered her mouth. “Ah! Sorry! I didn’t mean to make you jump. I just, um, know that’s not going to happen. I don’t think you could even take it that far. And even if you did, I don’t think that would happen.” 

A warm smile spread across Nen’s face. His eyes gazed at her lovingly. “You don’t think it would?” 

“No.” I don’t think my parents love me all that much to call it off…NO, wait! I’m fine with this arrangement, right? Midnight Star shut her eyes really tight. Yes, I am. I think…AH! I DON’T KNOW.

“Mid-Star?” 

“Ah, sorry.” 

“You don’t need to apologize…are you okay?” 

“Yeah, sorry…I mean…ah sorry! Err, um….” Midnight Star let out a sigh. She gave Nen an awkward smile. “I think I relaxed too much today because my head is freaking out.” 

Midnight Star flinched as Nen took her on both sides of her head. “I wish my head was freaking out! My mom had me rearrange her ENTIRE bottle collection in 20 minutes by size, shape, coloured, and design.” 

Midnight Star’s face scrunch and she stuck out her tongue.  “Ew, that sounds AWFUL.” 

One of Nen’s hands fell to Midnight Star’s shoulder, while her put the other on his head. “I was so bored and all I want to do is sleep, but then I had to come pick you up. Mom knew I had class today and she’s teaching!” He balled the fist that had been on his head in the air. “It’s her fault if I can’t think because she gave me something so boring to do!” 

Midnight Star giggled. At the same time, she became increasingly nervous. “Nen, we should probably get going…lessons are going to start soon.” 

“Ah, yeah, we probably should.” 

Midnight Star began to swim once more, but was yanked back by Nen. “Um, Nen…”

“Sorry.” 

“…huh?” 

“Um, I’m sorry for earlier. And any time before that. I’m really just playing around, but you didn’t really take it that way, right? Your hair is like how I feel about my body.” 

Midnight Star held up both of her hands. She felt her upper back and chest tighten and her stomach flipped. “Oh no! Oh, no, no, no! You don’t need to apologize! You really don’t! I don’t need an apology…you don’t need to apologize!” 

“But I hurt you, right?” Nen looked into Midnight Star’s eyes.

Midnight Star swallowed, staring back at him. Her heart winced. No words came out of her mouth. Only in the depths of her being could she even admit that yes, he did. But her mind’s response quickly shut her down: you obviously deserve it. 

Midnight Star cast her gaze back down. THe only thing to bring it back up was Nen gently taking ahold of one of her braids. She trembled a slight bit, nervous about what he was doing. His gaze was still soft and loving, no different from when she had been touching the seaweed.

“Nen, what are you doing?” she asked, holding her breath.

“…” He continued to gentle stroke her hair. His cheeks slightly flushed. “I…wish you would wear your hair down. They really do look like giant ropes.” 

Midnight Star could feel the fire of anger start to rise up from her stomach. She yanked her braids back and took in the biggest gulp of water she could. “Just ignore them,” she snapped unwillingly. Wait, was I too mean? But he just apologized and he said that. He..he wasn’t serious, was he? She threw the pigtail behind her. “Let’s…let’s just get to class!” Her anger made its way up to her eyes and began to push out as tears. She went to swim off once more, but Nen stopped her once again. 

“Crap,” mumbled. Nen. “Ugh, I’m not good at this, am I?” 

Midnight Star avoided looking him in the eyes.

“How do I…hmm…” 

Midnight Star cautiously turned to Nen, looking at his face. His cheeks were slightly flushed. Her gut twisted with anticipation. 

“I really…like your hair. It’s different and unique.” 

Midnight Star flushed herself, looking at Nen slightly covering his face. She looked around in a panic, relieved to see no one in the hallway at the moment. “N-nen! We’re in the middle of the hallway!” 

“What, I can’t compliment you?” 

“You can, but…this is the hallway? What if someone hears us?” 

“Does that matter?” 

“Um…I just don’t like it.” 

Nen grabbed one of Midnight Star’s hands and held it, keeping his other hand on his face, partially covering his mouth. “I just wanted to tell you I want to see you wear your hair down because I like it.” 

Midnight Star shook. “T-thank you, b-but I’ll still be wearing my braids.” She looked down.

Nen nodded. “I figured as much…” 

Midnight Star tightened her grip around Nen’s hand, who appeared to be startled by the action. Midnight Star took in a gulp of water and nodded. “Nen, I don’t feel confident enough to wear my hair down.” She pulled him off to the side of the hallway and leaned into his ear. “I used to hear all the time people question if my dad is really my dad because of my hair. I’m the only one who looks different.” I don’t want to have to go through that all over again…

Nen frowned. He nodded. “I know.” He then gave her a soft smile. “Hopefully one day, that will change.” 

Midnight Star cast her gaze down to the ground. I doubt it. 

Nen gentle pulled her. “Hey, let’s get to class before mom comes and finds us!” 

Midnight Star nodded and let herself be guided down the halls by Nen. 

The hand being held by Nen’s felt calm, but the rest of her body was tense and tight. A fear stirred up in her core – I am no good. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story Part 2)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Brent  shot up from his bed. He felt as if he were buzzing. He slipped out and opened his curtians. The rising sun greeted him with its gentle, warm glow and the night sky seemed to wave good-bye. He opened up the windows and took in the fresh air. The last bit of grogginess he was experienced washed away with the breeze that brushed his face as it poured in through the window and flooded his room. 

Brent quickly got dressed and left, rushing down the corridor. He walked into the servants quarters and looked at the servants schedule one more time with nervous anticipation, only to be grinning up to his ears.

Listed on the schedule for the late afternoon was Brent assisting Angelica with her ball gown. I cannot believe it is still here. I cannot belive it did not change. 

Brent couldn’t fathom how he was fortunate to have been assigned such an important duty. It didn’t even bother him with the fact that he wasn’t going to be the only one – Bedelia and Natalia were both going to be there too. Okay, sure, he didn’t really like the idea of Bedelia being there, but just the fact he was even going to be within the vicintiy to assist with Angelica getting ready for the ball was more than enough. This was exactly why he needed to get the choker done today. He tapped his pocket, checking to make sure it was still in there.

Brent quickly skimmed over the rest of his schedule – he was to first help set up the ballroom with the final touches for tonight’s ball, then the kitchen for additional ballroom preparations. From there, he was to report to the dressing room and be on stand-by beside Princess Angelica’s newest dress that was to arrive later today. 

Brent began to tremble. He could not wait to get the day started. 

***

Brent stared up at the dress that had been wheeled in not too long ago. He could only imagine what Angelica would like wearing it, with its boned top and skirt made of layers upon layers of tulle. And what he could imagine, he knew she would be absolutely beautiful, even if she continued to look miserable at the ball. 

He pulled a small book out of his pocket and leaned against the wall. The book’s cover appeared to be well-loved with its rough edges and fading ink. The binding appeared to be curling, but the book held together surprisingly well. It was simply tilted “Air Magic Notes”. Brent had no idea if he had any genuine magic power – although in all honesty, he suspected he did – but the book was interesting to him. It was written by King Aerlden, before he was king – back when he was just a simple court mage. The notes were brief and to the point, but detailed enough for Brent to follow along. A part of him longed to try them for himself, but fear of him causing harm stopped him. 

I wonder how much of the ability described in here is a natural gift or due to hard work? Brent looked at his own hand. He wjggled his fingers, as if trying to warm them up somehow. A faint blue glow began to surround his hand. His stomach clenched, noticing the faint outline. 

“Brent, bring the dress, now!” 

Brent jumped, whipping his head towards the door. He stuffed the book back into his pocket and ran behind the dress. “Yes, ma’am!” he replied, watching Bedelia promptly turning her back to him. Brent’s heart pounded as he pushed the dress out the door. 

Brent stumbled forward as Bedelia swiped the dress from him and whealed it behind the partition. 

“Natalia, get back here!” yelled Bedelia. 

Natalia and Brent exchanged smiles before Natalia raised her hand. “Yes, Ms. Bedelia!” 

Just before Natalia slipped behind the curtain, she said, “The princess requested her baby pink folding fan with the dark pink sparkles. I need you to grab it!” She winked and disappeared behind the paritition. 

Brent mumbled “yes” under his breath as he turned his attention briefly to the curtain. Although he couldn’t see anything in detail, he could still see the outline of Angelica’s body. He watched the sihollhoute of her bathrobe drop to the floor and her standing with nothing on, surrounding by both Bedelia and Natalia on either side. He smirk spread across his face, which quickly softened as his heartbeat dropped. I can’t even see how she fully looks, but I can tell she is just so beautiful. He watched Bedelia and Natalia quickly dress Angelica just like a doll.

Brent suddenly felt jolted. He looked around, only to remember there was no clock in the room. Her fan! He ran out of the room, down the corridor, going one floor up to Angelica’s bedroom. He quickly, but quietly opened her door and slipped right in. He held his breath, feeling as if he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He walked over to her armoire and opened the double doors. He turned his head to his right, scanning the long row of folded fans hanging off from it on hooks. He spotted the requested fan, grabbed it, shut the armoire, and slipped back out of the room. 

Brent’s eyes met with Angelica’s as he entered back into the room. He couldn’t even breath a word. His face lit up as he watched her’s do the same. Angelica skipped up to him, exclaiming, “Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!” 

Brent presented the fan to Angelica. “Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fulfill your request,”

Brent shivered ever so slightly as Angelica brushed her fingers against his hand as she was taking the fan out of it. They looked at each other right in the eyes: Brent’s was just screaming about how beautiful Angelica looked. Angelica’s seemed to be asking him what he thought about her. 

Just as Angelica finished removing the fan from Brent’s hands, Bedelia stepped in between them. She leered at Brent, who returned it right back to her. Bedelia slightly turned her heads towards Princess Angelica, keeping her angered gaze on Brent. “Princess, there is no time!” 

“You keep saying that! It’ll take no time at all – just watch,” said Angelica. She yanked the tie that was in her hair, allowing her wet hair to settle on her back.

Brent silently snickered watching Bedelia become speechlessly flustered as Angelica walked passed her to the lit vanity. With swift movements, Angelica used her fan and air magic to quickly dry her hair and flair out her her bangs. His smirk grew as Angelica whipped her head back at Bedelia with smugness. “I told you it would not take me all that long.” 

Bedelia clicked her tongue.

Brent laughed internally. 

Brent’s attention briefly turned away from Angelica, who was putting on her tiara, by Natalia who let out a whispery gasp and ran out from behind the partition, holding a pair of heels from behind the partition. 

“I would say my outfit is complete.” 

“Oh, but princess! Your shoes!”

“Thank you, Natalia.” 

Brent watched Angelica lift up the bottom of her dress high enough to expose half her calves. Natalia knelt down and slipped on the princess’s heals. Bedelia walked away from Brent and moved closer to Angelica and Natalia. 

“You are lucky that we have such efficient staff. Now, put on your gloves. We best be going.” 

Angelica slipped on her gloves and turned to Bedelia with her fan. “You and Natalia are dismissed.” 

Natalia stood up and bowed. “Yes, Princess.” 

“Thank you for all your help.”

“You are too kind.” 

Natalia passed by Brent, gave him a smile and a wink, and exited out of the room. Brent couldn’t stop smiling. 

Brent moved closer towards Bedelia and Angelica, entering into their vision fields. 

Angelica raised her head. “I dimissed you as well.” She bore her stare into Bedelia’s eyes.

Bedelia turned her scowling face towards Brent. “You are to head to the kitchen next.” 

Brent’s smile disappeared, his face seeming blank of emotion. “Yes, ma’am.” 

Angelica moved beside Brent, immeditately causing him to relax his body. “Bedelia, I dismissed you, not Brent. I understand that you are head of all servants as appointed by my parents, but I am second to my parents in terms of final say. He is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

“Princess Angelica, the cooks need help preparing the feast for tonight.” 

“Brent is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment, leering at Angelica. Angelica and Brent both leered back.  “…as you wish. But please be aware, I shall bring this up to your parents.”  

Bedelia walked past them and out of the room.

Brent and Angelica stood there in complete silence, listening for the footsteps to completely disappear down the hall. 

“Is she gone?” 

Brent first started walking backwards, but soon pivoted and poked his head out the door. He looked both ways down the corridor, seeing no one in sight. The corridor was so empty, it was as if it was keeping a secret. He pulled himself back inside and flashed a smile at Angelica, still holding on the doorframe. “Yes. No other servants besides from myself in sight.” 

Brent watched the layers of Angelica’s dress bounce up and down as she scurried towards the door. She grabbed his hands and gently pulled him further inside, getting him out of the view of the door. “How do I look?” 

Brent’s gaze softened, looking at her pink multi-layered gown. It had been finished up only a few hours ago in a rush – from Brent’s understanding it was missing a few minor finishing touches, but there was no time left to out them out. The top of her gown appeared to be similar to a corset and pushed her bosoms up and together. Ruffles ran down the seams of the top. Her sleeves exposed her shoulders with longer pieces cascading down that flowed behind when she walked. Spilling out from the bottom was layers upon layers of sparkly tulle, making it hard to distguish one layer from the other. 

Brent grasped Angelica’s hands tighter, pulling them closer to his face. “You are the most beautful lady in all the land as always, Princess. Shame I couldn’t accompany you.” 

Angelica gave him a solemn smile. “Such a shame, indeed.” 

“I’m sure there will be many fine gentlemen to your liking.” 

Brent lowered his & Angelica’s hands. He began to take a step back, physically distancing himself from her. The scowl that appeared on Angelica’s face halted him from doing anymore. “Why are you distancing yourself from me now?” 

Brent forced a big smile on his face. “I’m just concerned about your future.” 

Angelica removed one hand from Brent and place it on her hip, slightly turning away from him. She lowered her head, gazing into his eyes with a succulent pout. “Do I even have to say it?” 

Brent’s toes curled looking back into her eyes and he bit his lip. 

The edges of Angelica’s mouth slightly turned upward. “There are no other gentleman but you.” 

Brent mirrored back Angelica’s smirk. He lifted her hand up to his mouth. “Good thing I’ll still be there when you get bored, ya?” 

Angelica giggled in return. “I might just have to bother you then.” 

Brent kissed her hand. “I welcome it.” 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Brent gasped as he came to, hearing his mother’s screams quickly died down. He slowly lowered his eyes to his hands. His entire body was engulfed in what resembled a deep, dark blue flame, nearly the colour of the midnight sky. The edges of it glowed a significantly brighter blue. The dark blue flames quickly died out as the blood all over Brent, from his face to his hands to his feet, disappeared. 

Brent turned to the mirror across from him looking at himself. It wasn’t just his hands engulfed in the flame-like energy – it was his entire being. His body tingled with varing sensations. Sometimes it felt prickly, while other times it felt no different than someone running their palms over his skin. He felt hot in parts and cold in others. 

He had no idea what was going on. 

His head turned back to his mother. 

As soon as the flame-like energy faded, reality hit Brent like a sledgehammer. He fell to his knees and tears poured from his eyes. He let out a scream of his own.

His mother was dead.

And he killed her. 

*** 

Brent was wrapped in a heavy, warm blanket, as two of the servants sat next to him. He cast his gaze down to the floor. He had been moved to another room while the royal phyisicans exammed his mothers body. He lifted his head only when he heard a soft click on the door. 

“Brent!” 

Brent felt the warmth of a hug around him before he could even blink. Princess Angelica, the daughter of the king & queen, his best friend, and (hopefully) future wife, wrapped her arms around him. He could feel from the dampness on her cheek that she had been crying. Brent hugged her back, while looking up. To his surprise, the king and queen had also showed up. They too walked up to him and gave him a hug. 

“Poor child,” said the queen.

“We are so sorry for what has happened.” The king stroked Brent’s head. Brent was on the verge of tears. 

“Your highness, neither one of you had to be here.” 

Everyone looked over. An older woman with a stern expression had entered through the door. 

“Bedelia, this child just lost his mother.” 

“We simply asked you to decide what to do with him in the morning.” 

Brent could barely breath with how tight Angelica was hugging him. Brent could feel warm tears falling down her cheeks again. The king stopped touching his head and the queen let go of him, instead placing a hand on his back. 

The king lifted his head. “We have already made a decision.”

“Oh?” 

“Brent shall stay in this castle. He shall continue his studies as is and will be assigned caretakers until he turns 16. From there, his duties as a servant will be increased, although he is free to continue his studies in his open hours.” 

Brent stared right into Bedelia’s face. What a fake smile

Bedelia pushed up her glasses. “Are you sure, your highness?” 

“Are you questioning me, Bedelia?” 

Brent held back the smirk that wanted to grow on his face. I’m supposed to be sad. Well, I suppose I am in fact sad…but her face. 

“Ah…I apologize, your highness. I spoke out of line.” 

“Please pick the best servants for the job.” 

“Yes, your highness. I shall assign him them in the morning.” 

Brent returned the leer Bedelia gave him. Angelica, who was still clinging to Brent, watched the silent exchange. 

The king walked into the next room, where the murder of Brent’s mother had taken place. It was full of numerous staff, each doing their part to access the murder scene and figure out the next moves after it – after all, her blood was splatter all over the floor and on the surrounding beds. Brent’s mother at this point, however, was placed underneath a sheet, hiding her terribly mutilated body underneath it. He stood tall as each person turned their attention to him and bowed. The king turned to two knights. “Sir Inwyn, Sir Scotrick, please house Brent in your quarters tonight. I suspect the boy will have dreadful nightmares and we will need to figure out his proper relocation tomorrow.” 

Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick knelt down in front the king. “Yes, your highness.” 

“Very well.” 

The king returned back to the room with anyone else. He extended his hand to the door, where Inwyn and Scotrick still knelt. “Brent, you will be sleeping in the knight quarters with Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick. It is of uptmost importance that you are safe.” 

“Thank you,” quietly replied Brent. 

He turned towards Angelica, who met him with a faint glint in her eye and the two of them rubbed their cheeks together. The softness of her skin raised his mood just enough for it to be pulled back down by the reality that he would never see his mother again. 

*** 

Brent had been relocated to a mixed servant sleeping quarters with his own bed in the corner of the room with a beautiful view of the sky. It wasn’t as nice as the room both he and his mother had been generously granted by the king and queen, but it was agreed that he shouldn’t be alone, especially with the trauma still fresh. Still, the room itself and the corner he was in was more than enough. It was a beautifully furnished room for the more high-ranking servants who had more responsibilties in comparison to the rest, but with that, a lot more freedom. 

Brent leaned against the light gray walls and looked up, seeing the waning cresent moon above. The stars above the castle glittered brightly, but that was to be expected considering that Astral Isles got its name for such a spectcale, afterall. Something about seeing it all made him begin to relax, forgetting his troubles.

Until he heard the whisperings near the crackling fireplace. Two of the woman servants had been looking over to him and Brent had noticed something was odd, but he couldn’t figure out what. His attention had faded and turned to the sky instead as they talked about how the day had gone. It seems they had watched his attention turn to outside because their idle chatter suddenly changed tone. 

“Bedelia said to keep an eye on him, but is it even safe to do so?” 

“Do you really think a child his age could kill his mother like that?” 

“What if he gets upset at us? I do not want to end up like her.” 

“To think he could even do such a thing…it doesn’t seem possible.” 

“It is not more strange that the child had no blood on him? You saw the room – it was everywhere.” 

“Could he have just entered?” 

Another servant in the room walked over to the couches around the fire place with the two woman servants were chattering. He leaned over in between the two of them. “I heard his father was involved with some evil magic.” 

One of the servant woman gasped. The other one clicked her tongue. 

“Where do you get your information from?” inquired the one who had clicked her tongue.

“I heard from Bedelia as they were sorting his mothers things, they found some letters. She said they were dreadful and burned them.” 

Brent grasped his pants tightly as the blood drained from his face. His mind thought back to the shoebox his mother always had on her desk and the letters she was always writing. The box itself had been packed with letters from his father. And now they were gone. 

Tears streamed down his cheeks. I wanted to read those one day. 

He slid down off the wall and laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. His body trembled and withered in pain. He opened his mouth to wail, but choked it back. I can’t…I cannot cry…mother…mother…MOTHER. He sniffled, pulled himself towards his pillow, and buried himself under the covers, hoping it would smother his sobs. 

*** 

Brent sat slumped in his chair. He let his arm and the book in his hand fall to his lap as he looked off in a daze. Once again, he withered in pain and agnoy. I killed my mom and people know, he thought. I killed her and I don’t know how I did it, but everyone knows I did it. He wanted to start screaming and crying again, but he wasn’t alone. He couldn’t do anything like that. Everywhere he turned, he felt like at any moment, someone was going to point out he killed her, no matter how little he knew about doing it. 

Princess Angelica, who had been grabbing a book off a nearby shelf, turned to him. The arm that held the book she just grabbed fell to her side and she held her fan to her heart. “Brent? Are you alright? Are the lessons boring? Or is the library too stuffy?” 

Brent sat up and turned to her, grabbing her hand with the fan. “I am okay, Princess Angelica. I’m just still sad about my mother.” 

Angelica’s eyes swelled up and she hugged him. “I’m sorry she’s gone. I hope they find whoever killed her.” Her embraced tightened around him and the agony within him increased. 

I killed her! I killed her! I killed her! 

Brent’s hands balled, grasping into Angelica’s dress as he hugged her back. Angelica simply hugged him tighter. 

After a good minute of embracing, Angelica stuck her fan into her pocket, placed her book on the ground, and knelt down beside Brent in the chair. She placed her own hand on his and looked up with a sparkling smile. Her indigo eyes seemed to reflect the stars that appeared at midnight in the sky, lighting up Brent’s heart. A smile spread across her face. “I love you.” 

Brent’s heart warmed. “I love you too.” 

Brent’s face blushed as he watched Angelica’s do the same. He lightly grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips, giving it a soft kiss. 

I can’t keep hurting like this. I’m going to end up hurting Angelica… 

Brent’s grab on Angelica’s hand tightened as he looked up at her red face that was partially blocked by Angelica’s free hand. I can’t let anyone know. No one. I need to do better! 

***

Brent could remember when he first met her. Him and his mother were newly arrived at the castle as the new servants to the king, queen, and their only daughter, Princess Angelica. He could still remember the golden-haired girl with indigo eyes giving him a smile that rivaled the brightest star in the sky. He may have only been 6 years old, but it seemed so obvious that Princess Angelica was to be his future wife. He announced it that day to the king, queen,  his mother, and the princess herself. Looking back, he was certain that was when the king and queen took a liking to him – how often is it that one child says to another they will take care of them for life? He also remembers his mother profusely apologizing to the king and queen for his “rude” behaviour, but the king and queen seemed not to mind at all. The most amazing thing to him was that Princess Angelica seemed to agree.

As far as Brent and Angelica were concerned, they could open admit their love to each other without consequence. As his 15th year has gone along, he more recently started to question more things, especially with the increased sophistication of the study material in front of him. Bedelia would be aflutter if she knew I was being taught more about how the kingdom is run. He couldn’t help but think he was in the running for Angelica’s husband. 

He let a romantic sigh. 

It was followed by a girlish giggle from across the room. Brent looked over at Princess Angelica who sat across from him, books sprawled out around her. Placed in front of her was a large journal and a smaller one. 

“What is so funny?” 

“Your sigh resembles the village girls sighing as Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick passby.” 

Brent laughed in return. It bounced off the walls of the library and right back to their ears. A single tear fell from his eye, he was laughing so hard. “I-I can see why you would say that.” 

“What was so dreamy that you were thinking about?”

“You.” 

Brent gently smiled at Angelica, watching her face flush. Angelica took out her fan and hid her face. “Do tell, what were you thinking about me?” 

Brent stood up and moved to the seat across from her, grabbing her free hand. “I was thinking back to the day we first met and I knew you were going to be my wife one day.” 

Angelica’s eyes slowly batted. “Go on.” 

“I have noticed that my studies have grown outside of what one would expect for a servant boy such as myself. It seems the king and queen have made it a priority that I learn about how the kingdom is run.” 

Princess Angelica put down her fan. Her eyes were wide. “They’re…they’re what?” 

“I am being taught how the kingdom is run. I suppose it could help me to be a better servant,  but the material is so detailed. I feel that I would be halfway to running the kingdom myself.” 

Angelica put her fan to her mouth as if she was covering it with a fan. “Thank the stars Bedelia doesn’t know that!” 

Brent laughed. “Quite right! She would be mortified if she knew. I can already hear her objections now.” 

Princess Angelica and Brent laughed for a moment. 

Angelica then lowered the fan from her face and looked at Brent with her indigo eyes. Brent’s breath was stolen from him and everything else seemed to fade away other than Angelica herself. He watched her lips brief purse before she spoke. “Brent, we are both coming up to our 16th year next year and I have been wondering about marriage between us. I love you as I know you do too.” 

Brent stood up and leaned over the table, getting closer to Angelica’s face. “There has not been one moment since I met you that I did not want to spend my life with you – not as your servant, but as your partner,” 

Angelica’s angelic smile lit up Brent’s heart.

“Angelica,” he said. “What if I discuss the possibility with your parents tonight?” 

Angelica’s eyebrows lifted. “How fast!” 

“Can it really be so fast if it has been since we met as children?” 

Angelica giggled. “I suppose not.” 

I must arrange to speak to the King and Queen right away when I have a moment to do so. Would it be best to find a private time? Brent’s face showed a hint of grimance. But if I do, would others be scared I would do what I did to my mother? 

Immeditately, he squashed that thought down. No, no, private or not private, I will respectuflly ask the king and queen for Angelica’s hand in marriage for next year. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] The Princess and the Servant Boy

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time.


Astral Isles – where the stars shine down from the sky both day and night. The stars glistening rays kiss the lusious land with its gently rolling hills, scattered forest, and hundreds of flower-covered meadows. The sand on the beach and its watery companion that surround the isle always are twinkling back to the stars with a silent giggle. 

Spread throughout the land were homes where hardworking people worked and played. You wouldn’t be able to tell from their medivial-style homes that they had many modern devices within. 

Right in the center of Astral Isles – where the North Star shined down – stood a grand castle. It’s light gray stone walls piled high, reaching towards the star above that so kindly graced their prescence. The castle itself seemed to glitter like the stars throughout the day, as the sun’s rays kissed its walls. 

Up on the second floor balcony of the castle (there were technically four floors, but some of the towers easily made it twelve), a young lady stood in a pool of water, completely naked, as the a waterfall poured onto her golden locks from the mouth of a lion statue. Soapy suds glided their way down her wheat-coloured skin and into the water below. As the soap finished washing out of her hair, she turned around and faced the waterfall. She slowly stepped underneath it, allowed it to gently wash over her face. She moved her hands of it, guiding the water to every part of her face. 

“Princess, you mustn’t stay under the water for long.” 

If her eyes had been opened, she would have rolled them. The young lady – a princess – whipped her head into the direction of the voice of the older woman. “I know, I know,” she said. She waved her hand towards the woman as if she was trying to shoo a fly. “My skin will prune if I do. I’ll be out in a second.” 

After one quick wash to the face, she stepped a few steps backwards towards another woman who stood by the steps. The woman held a pink towel out to the princess with both hands, slightly bowing to her as she did. The princess thanked the woman, grabbed the towel, and began to dry off her body. She turned to the woman, only a couple of years older than her, with a smile. The woman bowed her head in acknowledgement to the princess’s position. 

The older woman from earlier, with her graying blonde hair tied up high in a bun and high-collared dress, hissed to the princess. “Hurry, we do not have much time.” 

The Princess glanced to the woman with slight disdain. She walked behind a changing screen, opened her arms wide to allow the towel she had wrapped around her loosely to fall to her feet. Another woman – older than the first one by the tub, but younger than the naggy one – grabbed a white bathrobe and helped the princess get into it. Once it was all tied up and the princess and the servant nodded in acknowledgement to the process being done, she headed off to re-enter the castle . The nagging older woman followed shortly behind. 

“The guest will be arriving soon and you are not even close to being ready!” 

“Is that not what the dressing room will get us to do?” 

The older woman glared at the princess as they rounded the corner. “Your hair – ” 

“Will be fine,” assured the Princess. “Just get me me a folding fan.” 

Before the woman could say anything more, the princess burst through double doors. The room itself appeared to be long, but small – one side was set up with a large vanity, while the other side had a changing partition and a large mirror. However, in the middle of the wall directly across from the entrance way was the doors to the closet that house mannekins upon mannekins of royal wear specifically for the princess. 

The princess turned to the servant woman that stood a few feet away from the door. “Please get me one of my folding fans.” 

“Yes, right away, princess. Which colour would you like?” 

“Make it the baby pink one with the darker pink sparkle.” 

“As you wish.” 

The older woman huffed. “I cancel that order – I will need her assistance! Princess, you do not have tiime!” 

“Bedelia, do not raise your voice at me.” The princess spun around and held out a finger to the older woman. Bedelia paused for a moment. Her face paled for a brief moment before she groaned. 

“Just get behind the partition.” 

The princess did as she was told. Bedelia followed shortly behind. Before the princess could relax, Bedelia had pulled a hair tie from her apron and yanked the princess’s hair and twisted into a bun. 

“Ouch! Do not be so rough!” cried the princess. 

“Forgive me, Princess Angelica,” said Bedelia without an ounce of regret. “I do not want your sopping wet hair to ruin the dress.” 

“As I said, there is no problem.” 

“You cannot be so relient on magic. I understand that it’s a tradition that you are carrying on, but it has proven to be unreliable over the long run.” 

“Unreliable for who?” Princess Angelica asked, glancing over her shoulder. She could see Bedelia’s eye subtly twitch. 

Without saying a word, Bedelia finished with the princess’s hair and quickly opened the doors to the dressing room. “Brent, bring the dress, now!” she hissed. 

“Yes, ma’am!” responded Brent. The blonde-hair teenage boy with a short goatee grabbed the waste of a mannekin and begun to roll it out. His sunflower-yellow locks of perfectly curled hair bounced as he pushed it down the middle of the closet and into the main changing room. The moment it was out of the closet, Bedelia yanked it from him and pushed it behind the curtain. 

“Natalia, get back here!” Bedelia yelled. 

“Yes, Ms. Bedelia!” replied the servant from earlier who had been standing near the door. 

Natalia turned to Brent. “The princess requested her baby pink folding fan with the dark pink sparkles. I need you to grab it!” She rushed off. 

Brent smirked as he watched the middle sillhouette behind the changing screen go from clothed to unclothed. He let out a quiet sigh and his face relaxed as he watched the middle sillhouette turn around, allowing the other two to put on articles of clothing. Princess Angelica yelping from her corset being pulled too tight brought him back to the reality that he was staring too lovingly at her sillhouette for far too long. He took a deep breath and rushed out of the room and down the corridor. 

The moment Princess Angelica emerged from behind the screen, Brent reappeared back in the room with the requested fan. Princess Angelica’s face lit up as she saw his and the fan. She skipped up to him.

“Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!” 

“Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fulfill your request,” replied Brent, holding out the fan to her with both hands.

Princess Angelica took the fan out of his hands slowly, letting her own brush against his. The two of them stared into each other’s eyes. Their smiles may have been small and humble, but their eyes told a completely different story. 

Bedelia stepped in between them. She bore a spiteful gaze into Brent’s face as she spoke to Princess Angelica over her shoulder. “Princess, there is no time!” 

“You keep saying that,” complained Princess Angelica. “It’ll take no time at all – just watch.” 

The princess yanked the hair tie from her head and let her damp hair fall to her back. She rushed up to the vanity mirror and flicked open the fan. With a fell swoop on the left and on the right side of her body, heated air ran down from the top of her head to the ends. As the heated air was followed with a distinct sizzle, crackle, pop, and then utter silence. Her golden locks returned to their slightly wavy natural state. With a slight curved swoop on both sides of her bangs, they straighted and flared outward. It had taken her less than a minute to do all of this. 

Bedelia stuck up her nose as the princess turned around, A smug look spread across the princess’s face. “I told you it would not take me all that long.” 

Bedelia clicked her tongue. 

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