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"DIFFERENCES (final draft)"


Prologue
Prologue (final draft)

By dmt1967

DIFFERENCE
PROLOGUE
SOMEWHERE IN ESSEX
DECEMBER 2005
Jake perched like an eagle on the branch of a big sturdy oak tree and waited. He lifted his head, cocked it to one side, and sniffed the air. The boy leaned forward and listened. Thump, thump, beat his heart. He pricked up his pointed, hairy ears: silence. 

The young Killer closed his eyes and tried to compose himself. This is not your first fight; Boy and it won’t be your last.
The tree swayed in the breeze and Jake cast his eye over the wasteland they called Essex. A light sheet of snow covered the ground and the rooftops of canal boats anchored on the river, which ran parallel to a small beach. It looks like home. My home before I found out ... He shook himself, stay focused. Anyway, no use harking back to the past.

His heartbeat quickened as he flicked his long, black hair away from his eyes. His sharp, sensitive ears twitched at the sound of a woodpecker on the branch below. Jake’s honey-coloured skin quivered in the cold air, and he bent his long, lean body over the branch.

He peered out into the night and spotted the silhouette of a man in the distance. The shadow moved closer with every step. Jake held his breath and waited. His hands trembled as the figure came closer and the young werepire slithered, on his belly, to the end of the branch. He shivered.

A stale odour wafted in his direction, and Jake wriggled his nose in distaste. I will never get used to the smell of the undead. They smell worse than werewolves, and that’s saying something. A slow smile formed on his lips.

His victim stopped and sniffed the air. Can he smell me?

The older vampire shook his head and smiled. “I know you’re there, so you might as well show yourself.”

Jake jumped onto the frost-covered mud.

The older vampire gazed into Jake’s eyes and snarled. “They sent a boy!”

Jake growled and started to circle his adversary. “I am Jake, but you can call me, The Assassin.”

The older vampire nodded. “I have heard of you, son of Eva but I never realised you were so young.”

Jake bent his knees. “If you have heard of me you know that my experience outweighs my age.”

The older vampire bowed. “It will be an honour to kill you master Wolfhound and a great trophy on my wall.”   
 
           Jake smiled and pounced on his target. He sunk his teeth into the vampire’s neck. God, you taste like old leather. He spat on the floor. The older vampire smiled and twisted. Jake’s eyes opened wide as his opponent broke free and threw him onto the wet mud. He jumped onto Jake’s back. Jake could hear the elder’s uneven heartbeat and felt his opponents hot, death breath on his skin. He bucked the older vampire off, turned, and rolled away.

The older vampire scrambled to his feet and clawed at the boy’s face. A trickle of blood ran down Jake’s cheek. He growled and ran his palm over the wound.

The older vampire smiled. “I see they haven’t taught you to defend.”

“I can defend well enough,” Jake snarled.

The vampire shook his head. “If you could do that you would not have been injured and you would have not got that. He pointed to a long-jagged scar on Jake’s otherwise flawless complexion.

“You talk too much.” Jake saw a gap in the older vampire’s defences and threw a punch. The older vampire topped backwards and landed, with a thud, on the hard ground.

The old vampire laughed. “Is that your human side. They were wrong about you. They said you were a force of nature. I expected a storm, not a rain cloud.”

Jake’s otherwise sky-blue eyes turned red and started to glow. “I’ll show you what this rain cloud can do.” He jumped on the older vampire and grabbed his hands.

The older vampire kicked out, but Jake pushed him hard against the ground and, with his free hand, jerked his head over to one side. He clamped his mouth around a thick bit of skin and shut his mouth. His teeth penetrated the skin and thick red blood mixed with green goo oozed out of the wound. Jake let go, rolled off the body, and pressed a purple spot on his white all-in-one suit. A white mask covered his nose and mouth, as if by magic. He laid on his back for a minute. After a few minutes, he stood and looked down at his victim.
         
  The older creature became still. Jake placed him on the ground and wiped the thick, red blood, on his lip, with his palm. He pulled out a Dimond crusted sword with a wooden point from a studded scabbard on his back and cut off the creature’s head. His nose twitched as the smell of the toxic green goo filled the air, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that part whatever Callore says. He grinned at the image of his girl. This will be our first Christmas together.  
He glanced around. A man with a long-haired dog walked past, in the distance, too far away to see anything. Good, no one saw me. Jake spotted a shrub and walked over to it, pulled it out of the ground, and threw it to one side. He knelt on the ground, and with his long sharp fingernails, started to dig. Once he dug a big enough hole to fit a body into, Jake jogged back to the corpse and picked it up. He placed it into the hole and buried it. He replaced the shrub and stood back to admire his work. From a distance, everything would seem normal. The young assassin knew his crime would be uncovered, but he wanted at least a few hours to get clear of the crime scene. He picked up the head and crushed it between his rock-hard palm. The head turned to dust and trickled between his fingertips.

A young man with hunched shoulders and a hat pulled down to hide his creature-like facial features hurried out of the park gates. He glanced at his watch, hell, I’m going to be late again, and the General won’t like that. He sighed and started to jog.
 
 


Chapter 1
Chapter one (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER ONE
WARREN, NEW JERSEY
OCTOBER 2004    

The thing jumped on his back and bit into his neck. Jake tried to shake it off but couldn’t. He screamed as his hands grew hair and his teeth started to grow. He turned and saw Derek, the school bully by his side. “See, I told you, you were weird, Ape Boy,” he sneered.

Jake awoke and shuddered. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. These nightmares are getting worse. He turned his head towards his bedroom door and the picture of Guns and Roses lead guitarist, Axel Rose caught his eye, that’ll be me someday. He smiled at the thought, sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and switched on his radio to the rock channel. Jake looked at himself in the tall mirror opposite his bed. His course, thick hair hung down his back and covered his arms, and legs. He opened his mouth and felt the sharpness of his canines. Are they supposed to be this sharp? His ears, long and pointed twitched at the noise’s downstairs, can other boys hear this well? He flexed his muscles, Wow, they are big. Do other teenagers develop at this rate? Maybe Mum’s right, I’m just going through puberty early. Jake walked to his window and drew the curtains. He looked out at the driveway and noticed the Pickup parked there; Dad must be waiting to say happy birthday before he goes to work. The yards, decorated for Halloween, looked spooky with their ghost statues and pumpkins on everyone’s front porch.  He gazed up at the sky and grinned, the Gods must be giving me a break on my birthday, not a cloud in sight. Jake laughed, showered, got dressed, and made his way downstairs. 
     
      “Mum, Dad, where are you?” Jake jumped the last two steps and landed with a thud in the hallway.

He heard voices in the kitchen and burst through the door. The smell of bacon reached his nostrils and he sighed. The American larder fridge hummed in the corner and the yellow painted walls with the cracked tiled border made Jake grin. I think this Summer Dad and I will be busy decorating.

His dad, a tall, muscular man with a buzz cut hairstyle cracked an egg, with his big; rough; nail bitten hands, into the same pan as the bacon and began to whistle. His mum, a pale-faced, brown-haired, petite woman who wore a permanent frown, sipped a cup of tea. The smoke rose into the air and disappeared.   

Jake took a deep intake of breath and sighed as the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans hit his nostrils. He sighed. Dad must have taken the day off work. Probably why Mum was cooking his favourite meal. The coffee machine gurgled, and the solid beans turned into lava hot liquid.
 
“Hi, Jake. How’s the birthday boy?”

Jake spun around and saw Jason, his best friend, perched on a kitchen stool beside the pine breakfast table. He sat astride a breakfast stool with his back against the wall and a cup of coffee in his hand.

Jake poured himself one and took a sip. “What are you doing here?” 

“You don’t need to sound so, well so, angry about it.”

“I meant, what are you doing here so early?”
  
         “I mean it’s not every day my frère de race turns eighteen. I thought we could spend the day together.” He glanced at the big round clock on the wall. “Or what’s left of it. I thought you’d never wake up. Do you know it’s three in the afternoon?”

Jake forced a grin. “Sorry, sure… eh, I’d like that.” Damn, my talk with Mum and Dad will have to wait.

Jason stood. “Well, if you are sure. I mean, I don’t want you to feel forced or—"

“I said sorry, didn’t I?

Jake’s dad frowned. He rubbed his broad chin with the palm of his hand. “Eh, who wants a drink?”

Jake’s mum scowled. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early for that, Tom?”

“Now, Vera, we probably won’t see these boys until later.” He winked. “I bet young Jason has all sorts of things planned for our boy today.” Tom Sullivan reached into a cupboard; retrieved a bottle of champagne and four glasses and poured the drinks. He glanced at the teapot clock on the wall and shook his head. “Well, the rest of the day.” He rolled his eyes. “You could sleep for England, you could.”

Jason reached for a glass; the others followed suit. “It has been a four-year roller-coaster ride, but I hope never to get off. To my best friend, Jake.”
Was it only four years? It seemed like an eternity…

“Jake you’re late for school, again” his mother roared.

He ran down the stairs, grabbed a bit of toast and sprinted out of the door.  

Mr Macbeth waved as Jake walked past him. “Are you trying out for the Warren New Jersey little league this year, Jake?” he called out.

Jake shook his head and hid a grin. “Now you know I’m way too old for that, Mr Macbeth.”

Mr Macbeth frowned. “Sorry son, my memory isn’t what it used to be.”

Jake sighed, turned, and retraced his steps. “It’s ok, Sir.” He patted the old man on the back.

Mr Macbeth looked up and nodded. “Well, you better get to school.” He bent down to wash his car, again.

Jake glanced at his watch. He was indeed late. Should he go through the field? Maybe the bullies would be in school. He changed direction and started to cross the field at the end of his block.

He got halfway across when he heard those dreaded words. “Hey, Ape Boy.”

Jake sighed and turned. “Leave me alone, Derek. Can’t you see I’m late.”

Derek, a small, plump boy with brown hair, black eyes and Jakes’ high school nemesis smirked. “We don’t want that do we boys. I mean, Ape

Boy might not get his banana.” He snickered at his joke, and his cronies, Doug and Craig, chortled.


Jake shrugged and started to walk away.

“Hey, Monkey dick,” he heard a female voice yell.

“Jake groaned. “That’s all I need, Jenny, as well. Can this day get any worse?

Jenny, a sixteen-year-old teenager with dyed red hair, green cat-like eyes and Derek’s older sister slandered over with her two best friends, Debs and Dolly.  

Jake’s eyes darted from left to right. Could he make a run for it? His whole body trembled, and he shut his eyes. His pulse raced and his heart beat faster in unison with the pain in his lungs and chest.  

The six bullies blocked every escape root as they formed a circle around him and began to chant, “Ape boy, Ape boy, Ape—"

“Leave him alone,” an unfamiliar voice boomed as two pairs of hands wrenched the circle apart.

Jake glanced in the direction of the voice. A blond-haired, blue-eyed teenage boy in the same school colours…

Jason nudged Jake’s arm. “Wake up, your father is talking.”

Jake shook his head and smiled.     

 “To Jake, may the rest of your youth be happy” Jake’s father raised his glass.

Jake frowned. What an unusual thing to say.

His mother opened her mouth to say something, but his father shook his head.

Why did Dad say it like that? Why did Dad shut Mum up? Why did she let him? No one shuts Vera Sullivan up if they want to live. 
Clink.

Jake felt a shiver creep down his spine, which he couldn’t understand. He glanced at his Dad for reassurance and got a major shock. His Dad, usually a happy and full of life person, slumped over the kitchen table: his eyes sunken and his pale skin colour made him look more like a corpse than the good-natured, lovable teddy bear his son loved and admired throughout his young life. Jake took one look at him before he  turned to his Mum, had she upset him again! She met his gaze for a moment; she turned away with an expression on her face Jake couldn’t fathom.

“If you don’t want me to go out, I can stay.”

His Dad glanced up from his coffee cup and looked at Jake for the first time. He seemed to give himself a mental shake before he got up and turned towards his son.
    
       “That’s ok, son. You go and have a good time and we will talk when you get back.”
Jake’s heart sank but he nodded.
        
   “Come on, Cinderella, time is a-wasting, and I promised your folks I’d have you home by midnight.” Jason took Jake’s arm and steered him towards the door.

Jake allowed Jason to push him out onto the porch and to his car, a ford mustang coupe, still unsure of his parent’s strange behaviour. What’s wrong with them?

Jason patted the bonnet of his car and opened the driver’s door. “God, I love this car.”

Jake slid into the passenger’s seat and grinned. “I know. The amount of time you and your dad spent fiddling around with this piece of junk, and the money; let’s not forget about the money.” He rolled his eyes.

Jason laughed. “But it was worth it. The good old days, before—"

Jake looked out of the window. “The accident.”

Jason started the engine. “Yes, the accident, oh blow this, let’s get out of here and have some fun!” He glanced in his off-side mirror and indicated right.

“So, I thought food, bowling alley, then home.”

Jake grinned. “If you wanted something to eat, we could have had it at my house.”

Jason wiggled his nose. “No offence, Man but your mum can’t cook and as for your dad.” He rolled his eyes.

“What’s wrong with my dad?”

Jason laughed. “Well, maybe it’s a British thing, but who cooks bacon and eggs for breakfast and a pudding with hotpot?”

Jake tilted his head to one side. “Good point. bout we head off to O’Malley’s Bowling Alley. They serve food all day and if we mention to O’Malley it’s my birthday, well, you never know; we might get an extra portion of chips or something.”

Jason turned right and drove to the bowling alley. They pulled up outside a big building with a glass front and two automatic doors. A big neon sign on top of the building flickered. They got out of the car and were just about to enter when Jake heard a familiar voice.

“Hello, freak.”

Jake turned around and spotted Derek on a brick wall near the bowling alley. Jake screwed up his face, the boy looked drunk.

“Hello, Derek,” the two boys muttered in unison.

Jake’s hands shook as memories and old wounds surfaced once more. Jason put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and Jake relaxed, he wasn’t alone anymore. Jake took a step towards Derek, but Jason pulled him back

“Leave it, pal. It’s not worth it.”

“Don’t you turn your back on me, freak.” Derek jumped off the wall and staggered. He regained his balance and approached the two boys.

Jake gave Derek a scornful glance. “Buzz off, moron and leave us be.”

“Don’t you talk to me like that, I am a real man and better than you’ll ever be,” Derek slurred.

God, you stink.

Derek hiccupped and the smell of stale beer and puke hit Jake’s nostrils. He wrinkled his nose and gazed at the bully’s clothes, he looks like he hasn’t changed his t-shirt in weeks and his pants have seen better days. An old beer stain covered his top, it looks like he poured the bottle over himself instead of drinking it, and the hole in his pants looked like a map of Australia. All the memories of the bully and his mates flooded back into the boy’s thoughts.

The humiliation day after day, and the terror and strain he’d endured all through school. Something in Jake snapped and he shrugged Jason’s hand off and flew at Derek with clenched fists. The bully turned white and tried to duck under Jake’s outstretched arms but wasn’t quick enough. Jake picked him up by his throat and slammed him into a nearby wall as Derek gasped for breath.

Jason turned white and ran to Jake’s side. His hands shook as he tried to pull Jake off. “Take it, easy buddy.”

Derek’s arm reached up and tried to pull Jake’s hand away from his throat but to no avail. The vice-like grip grew stronger and as the long fingernails dug into the Bully’s soft flesh the boy screamed in pain. Finally, Derek went still, and his arms fell to his sides. 
         
   “You’re killing him,” Jason pleaded. “Please, Jake let him go.”

Jake heard his name and looked around. Where am I? Who’s speaking to me? He spotted Jason. Why is Jason trembling? Why is he staring at me with wide-open eyes and a trembling bottom lip? What possible reason could cause Jason to fear me? He couldn’t understand it until he spotted his reflection in a car mirror. A red-eyed, hairy monster stared back with drool droplets at both corners of his mouth. Is that me?

Jake shook his head and dropped Derek onto the ground.       

 “What happened?” Jake stammered.

Derek stood up. His legs wobbled, and if Jason hadn’t put his arm out to support the boy, he would have fallen once more onto the hard-concrete ground.

Derek pushed his arm away. “Stay away from me. You and your mate are crazy!”

Jason eyed the school bully and laughed. “You asked for it. If you hadn’t—" Jason gazed at the front of Derek’s trousers, where a wet patch appeared.

His eyes opened wide as he stared in horror at the boy. “Have you wet yourself, man?”

“No,” Derek faltered as the wet patch grew, and droplets started to drip down his trouser leg.

Jake’s eyes wandered to the wet patch. He shook himself out of his trance and gazed at Derek, a look of pity in his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Man.”

Jake reached out his arm as an apology, but Derek flinched and pulled away.

“Leave me alone,” he shouted, near to tears. “You both are freaks, and I hate the pair of you.”

The bully stumbled away down the street. Jason turned towards Jake.

“Do you still want to go bowling?”

“No, I need a drink. What happened?”

“I don’t know, man. You just went berserk. One minute you were standing near me, the next you were holding Derek by the throat.”

Jake examined his hands and saw they were covered in hairs. What have I turned into? The boy glanced at Jason; he never wanted to see the fear in his best friend’s eyes ever again. Although if he looked as bad as his reflection, he understood the reason behind the look’

“I don’t really feel like going out anymore. Do you fancy coming back to my place?”

Jason gave a hollow laugh. “Ok, anything you want, as long as you don’t go all Rambo like again”

The boys got back in the car and drove to Jake’s house. Neither of them spoke on the journey, both trying to make sense of what happened.

As they entered the house, Jake heard his father call.
       
   “Jake, will you come into the kitchen please?”         

What now?  He couldn’t take much more tonight.

He shuffled into the kitchen, followed by Jason.

“Look, Dad, I’m really tired. Jason’s just come back to chill for a while. Then he’s off home.”

“This can’t wait, Jason will have to go.”

Jake opened his mouth to argue, saw his dad’s expression, and closed it again. He turned towards his friend. “Sorry, buddy but you have to go.”

Jason patted Jake’s shoulder as he walked towards the door. “No problem, call me tomorrow.”

Jake sighed. “Sure—” he frowned and glanced in the direction of his parents—"if I can.

He closed the door behind Jason and followed his parents into the kitchen. The yellow-walled room, which made him feel cosy inside, seemed less inviting today. What the hell, it’s the same room as its always been, you dumb ass. His mum sat on a chair with her elbows on the table, and his Dad stood by the window with his hands in his trouser pockets. Jake re-entered and his dad beckoned for him to sit down opposite his mother.
“Look, son, we need to tell you something.”  
 


Chapter 2
Chapter two (final draft

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWO
What the hell is wrong with them. First, they chuck out my friend and now they’re looking like I’m about to die or something. Maybe that’s it. One of them is dying. Or maybe both! Am I going to start my adult life as an orphan?

His dad’s face, drained and sunken, pulled up a chair and sat next to his wife. He placed his hand over hers and squeezed it.

“We should have told you earlier, but…”

Here it comes.

“It was my fault, don’t blame your dad,” Jake’s mum blurted.

Jake’s dad released his wife’s hand and ran his fingers through his army-style haircut. “Will you let me tell the boy, Vera?”

His father’s square jaw slackened, he pulled at the top button of his shirt; rubbed his hands down his pant leg and hunched his broad shoulders. Tom Sullivan’s chestnut coloured eyes glistened, and he gulped. Dad, on the verge of crying. Things are bad.  “We were both to blame. We were scared you’d blame us, and we feared losing you.” His father’s voice cracked. “It was wrong of us to keep it from you, I know.”

Jake’s whole body tensed, and his nostrils flared... God, its Dad. It must be. Captain Thomas, John Sullivan of the thirty-third squadron never cried, his training wouldn’t let him. He patted his father’s arm. “Come on Dad, you can tell me”

Jake’s mum stood up and pushed her chair so hard; it fell backwards. “For crying out loud, John, tell the boy.”

Jake’s dad shook his head, and clenched his fists. “I can’t, Vera!”

Vera huffed. “Like always it’s left down to me to sort out your mess.” Vera turned to Jake. “The truth of the matter is you’re adopted,” she blurted out.

At first, Jake thought he hadn’t heard correctly, adopted? Was this joke? If it was, it wasn’t very funny. “This is a joke, right?”

Both parents shook their head.

Anger started to build up inside Jake. It started to boil in his stomach, but before long it reached, his throat and he wanted to scream. How dare they destroy. my world. The ramifications of what he heard began to sink in if I’m not who I think I am, who am I?  He glared at his dad. Why are you looking so downtrodden? It’s my life in shatters, not yours. His father dropped his gaze and stared at the floor. Jake sighed. Okay, so I’m adopted. They have been good parents and what is that saying, an adopted child is a chosen child. He swallowed the bile in his mouth and gritted his teeth. “It’s ok, Dad. It’s not the end of the world,” he muttered.

Jake’s dad sighed, “That’s not the worst part.”

There’s more!

“I will make some tea. This is going to be a long night,” Jake’s mother mumbled.

Jake’s father pushed back his chair and stood up. “Let’s go into the parlour, we will be more comfortable there.”

Jake didn’t move and after a minute his father sat back down and sighed. “It looks like the boy wants his tea in this room, Mum.”
 
          This isn’t happening.                                                                                            


His father waited for the tea. Jake’s mother placed the hot liquid in front of him and sat on a chair near the door. Jake’s dad took a sip of the hot substance. 

Tea, yuck. A very English thing. I wonder if they chose me before or after they immigrated?      

“It was a wet November night when we heard a knock on the back door,” his father began.

What is this? A bedtime story.

 “Your Mum opened the door, and on the doorstep, stood this woman with long, black hair. In her hands, she held a basket. At first, I thought she wanted to call a tow truck, but she took a couple of steps into the house, placed the basket on the floor and, without a word disappeared.

Jake frowned. “Disappeared! What do you mean disappeared?”

“What I said.”

“You mean she walked out of the door and into the night.”

“No, I mean she was there; then she wasn’t.”

“But, how? People don’t just disappear.”

His father shrugged. “Anyway, we both stared at each other, and then the basket made a noise. I bent down, pulled back a beautifully embroidered blanket and discovered you.” You looked a few months old and so small in stature. Your mum wanted to call the authorities but as she picked up the receiver, your small little hands reached out and grabbed my finger. Mum put the phone down and we decided to keep you. After all, the woman might come back and it is so hard to get a child out of the system once they have been processed. You looked cold and hungry. We fell in love with you straight away. Your mum picked you up and held you against her chest, “We will call him Jake,” she whispered.”
Mum getting sentimental, that was a first!

“I examined you to make sure you were okay and made a few remarkable discoveries. although you only looked a few days old, you had a full set of teeth, hair all over your body, and long fingernails.”

Jake’s eyes opened wide in astonishment.

“I must have been small for my age. If I had all that, I must have been older.”

His Mum shook her head and bit her bottom lip.

“While your father was examining you, I inspected the basket. It looked very old and well used. A baby pillow was placed in it, and I noticed something under it. Your Dad placed you on the table so he could look at you better. I took out the pillow and discovered there was a letter underneath.”

Why do I feel this story is rehearsed? This is too perfectly told. Mum interrupting Dad at the right moment.  

Jake’s Mum hesitated and glanced at her husband.

“Go on, Vera; tell the boy what it said.”

“I opened the letter and read it aloud. To the person who has taken my son, I thank you. I can’t tell you why I had to give him up, just, it’s too dangerous for him to stay here with me. We are on the verge of war and are on the run from our enemies. If they find him, they will kill him. I implore you to look after my little boy and keep him safe. There is a letter enclosed, and I would request you give him this letter on his sixteenth birthday. It will explain everything. He can decide whether or not to share the information with you.” 

“We were going to give you the letter as instructed, but we were scared we might lose you and we couldn’t bear the thought of you leaving us,” his dad muttered.

That part sounded true, at least.

Jake gazed down at his hands. “So, why now? I mean, two years after the letter instructed. Why give it to me at all?”

His parents exchanged glances.

Something was not right. They have never lied to me in my life, but this seems prearranged. Like they are only telling me the story they want me to hear.

Jake’s mum stood and, without a word, walked to the big cabinet where she kept all her best plates. She opened one of the drawers, took out an envelope, walked towards her son, and handed it to him. “Your changing.”

Jake took the letter. Changing, what does she mean, changing? Changing into what?  His hands trembled but he tore it open and started to read.

“If you want to read it in private, we will understand, son.”

Jake looked from one parent to the other. These people took him in and kept him safe; they knew it would be dangerous, but they did it all the same. Who would do that? Whatever the letter said, these were his parents, and nothing would change that. Even though they had been instructed to give him this letter two years ago and most of the story felt like a lie. But, why would they lie? What would be the point?

Jake’s dad cleared his throat. 

Jake shook his head. “No, you guys have as much right as I do to know what this says.”

 “My darling son, if you are reading this it means they never found you. This is going to be as hard for you to read as it was for me to write. I haven’t got much time, so I’d better get started. This might come as a shock to you, but you are not human, you are a Werepire. We are in hiding, but if you want to join us, just follow the map enclosed in this letter, and it will lead you directly to the colony. I know this is a lot to take in, and if you don’t want to join the fight, I’ll understand. We love you, son. And always will. Love Mum.”

Jake slumped in his chair and gasped. His heartbeat quickened as he stared at the sentence, you are not human... What did they mean he wasn’t human? A Werepire! What the hell is a werepire?

His Mum and Dad’s mouth fell open in unison as they stared at each other. His dad gripped the table, his knuckles drained of blood, and his Mum’s face drained of all colour.

Why do I feel like in a play? Jake gave his parents a sideways look. Their emotions seem genuine enough so why does it feel so staged?
   
         “So now we know.” She muttered.

“So, what are you going to do?” his father spoke through pursed lips.

What are you going to do? His parents had just found out their son wasn’t human, or had they? Jake wanted to scream. These creatures had told him he was one of them. They wanted him to go and fight some war because some other people were going to kill him. They wanted him to leave this place he called home, and fight for what? Freedom, a dream. What about his dreams? What about the band? Didn’t they care? Jake shook his head. Of course, they didn’t care. If they cared they wouldn’t have abandoned him like this. He turned towards his parents; this was entirely their fault. They should have given him this letter as instructed, or not at all. Maybe that’s why I’m getting the feeling they are lying to me. 

His dad groaned and covered his head with his hands, He hunched his shoulders, and avoided eye contact with his son. Jake’s mum turned away and sniffed.

The room began to spin, and Jake squeezed his eyes shut. His throat felt like sandpaper and he found it difficult to speak. He opened his mouth, but no words came out, I need time to think. The boy cleared his throat a few times and, with great difficulty, pulled himself together.
      
     “I’m going to bed.”

Jake left the room and climbed the stairs. He opened his bedroom door and locked it behind him. He drew his curtains and reached under his bed. I need to destress. He pulled out a locked suitcase and unclipped a pendant from around his neck. He opened the case and grinned. Destressing here I come. He pulled out a blouse, panties and a skirt and put them on. Tomorrow I will start my search for my biological parents and get some answers, but not tonight. He shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep. Maybe this is the reason I want to be a woman.     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 3
Chapter three (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THREE

“Jake stared at a spot on the ceiling for hours. He closed his eyes...  

He is standing in a room full of people. They are all asleep, he can hear them snoring. A bell rings in the distance, they open their eyes, look directly at him and smile. They are not humans, but vampires. He can see blood drip off their fangs onto the floor. Jake turns and comes face to face with a pack of dogs. The dogs stand up and howl. Jake can see bits of human bone and skin between their teeth. He screams as something touches his arm…

Jake woke with a start. He moaned, rolled over, and turned on the light. What a nightmare! The muscles in his stomach tensed and he clutched the side of his bed. He took a few gulps of air and blinked. Where am I? Jake gazed around the room and spotted his reflection in the tall mirror at the foot end. The pointed ears and red eyes should have told him something, given him a hint, maybe. He patted his beard and hair, I mean, what eighteen-year-old has hair growing out of their ears and a mane for Christ sake. His eyes moved to the family portrait on the wall, I look so different, I should have realised sooner. He shook his head, sighed, swung his legs over the side of the bed, got dressed, and placed his woman garments back into the box. Jake made his way downstairs and entered the kitchen. What I need is a cup of coffee with something in it to steady my nerves. He filled the kettle and switched it on. Jake went to the larder and took a bottle of whiskey off the shelf. His hand shook as he poured the spirit into his cup.

“Good morning, Son,” a voice said behind him, “Couldn’t you sleep either?”

Jake dropped the cup and spun around.

“Oh, it’s you, Dad. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Too busy in your dream world to notice?”

Jake shrugged and frowned.

“Well, I thought vampires and werewolves had great hearing.”

Jake scowled at the joke. Why do parent’s do that? Joke about sensitive stuff like that. “I guess that part hasn’t materialized yet.” How does he know I’m a cross? “Your pretty certain that’s what werepire stands for. Yesterday you seemed as shocked as me, today—"

His dad avoided eye contact and gave a sheepish laugh. “Sorry.” He nodded towards the broken cup on the floor. “I thought it would be like those designer dogs. Take both names and mesh them together. Lucky guess.” He turned towards the sink. “We had better clear that up before your mother gets up. You know how she gets about her kitchen.”

Jake smiled. “I guess.”

His dad grinned. “Remember last year when I dropped that bag of peanuts on the kitchen floor?”

Jake laughed. “yeah, she made you sleep in the garage.”

“Without a blanket. In the middle of winter.” His dad shuddered.

“Yeah, I had to sneak you a blanket and some food.”

The two men rolled their eyes in unison. The father and son team back together, the night before forgotten for a moment.

Jake’s Dad walked over to the sink and reached for the mop, while Jake retrieved the dustpan and brush from under the stairs

By the time Jake entered the kitchen again, only a few splinters of ceramic on the floor remained, which Jake swept up and placed in the bin.

His father switched the kettle back on, took out two cups from a cupboard, and poured a generous measure of alcohol in both.

“We won’t tell your mother.”

Jake gazed at his Dad. He wanted to give him the biggest bear hug he could. The urge to tell his Dad that things would be alright, that he didn’t care, that he wouldn’t leave, and things could go back the way they were.

“So, when are you leaving?”

His illusion, shattered.

The coffee made, Jake’s dad sat on one of the chairs next to the table, and Jake followed suit.

Jake shrugged his shoulders and sipped the drink. The hot liquid slid down his throat as he swallowed. He closed his eyes and sniffed the air. There is nothing like the smell of fresh coffee in the mornings. 

His dad coughed. “So, when are you leaving?”

“How do you know I’m going? I might not, you know.”

His Dad gave him a sad sideways look.

“You have to, you know that. If you don’t it will destroy you. You will start to resent me and your mum. You might even start to hate us, and neither of us could take that.”

Does he want me to go? Is this all part of the act? Or is he really understanding? Why do I doubt them so? What is happening?

“What about Mum?”

His Dad shuddered.

“She won’t be happy, and more than likely she’ll blame me, but that can’t be helped. You need to do this son. She never wanted me to tell you, but I had to. You were changing, you see. Everyone could see it, and it wouldn’t have been long before the neighbours would have noticed as well.”

Jake smiled to himself. Changing, you don’t know how right you are old man.  

“Will she give you a hard time?”

He knew how mad his mum got at times. His dad tried to get her committed once, but she wouldn’t have any of it, and eventually, he gave up. Her turns always got worse when she didn’t get her way. His dad called it stress, but Jake thought it more spoilt than stress.

“We will tell her together, son.”

“Tell me what?”

Both men turned towards the door. Jake’s mum stood in the doorway, hands-on-hips, and glared at them.

“Tell me what? I won’t ask again,” she scowled.

Jake gazed at his dad for encouragement.

“We have talked it out love and, eh, Jake here has decided to go find his real mum and dad.”

Maybe not the right words to use.

“Real Mum and Dad!” Jake’s mum whispered through clenched teeth.

She stormed past her husband and stood directly in front of Jake, hands-on-hips.

“Real Mum and Dad,” she bellowed. “And who are we. I mean we’ve only brought you up for the past eighteen years, doesn’t that count. We looked after you, kept you safe; out of the hands of...”

Jake’s heartbeat raced as he glanced down at her.  “Hands of who?”

She glared at him and scowled.

Her husband towered over her at 6 feet 2 inches, but at 5 feet 4 inches, Vera Sullivan could still hold her ground and win any fight she wanted.  

“Now Vera, the boy has to do what he sees fit.” Tom Sullivan scowled at his wife.

Vera turned around and her cold eyes rested on Jake’s dad.

“What do you know,” she spat. “You who knows best. I never wanted to take him in, but oh no the great Tom Sullivan knew best.”    

Didn’t Dad say, she wanted to keep him? She glared at him. Maybe now is not the right time to correct her.

His father sighed.

“Look, Mum, I know this is hard, but I need to do this. You and Dad are my parents; I know that. I love you guys, but you need to let me go.”

“Let you go! Do we have a choice? Are you asking for our permission?”

“Well no,” Jake stammered.

“No, I didn’t think so. Love, you don’t know what love is. Love is being stuck with a stupid man in a god-forsaken country due to his job. Love is taking on a freak of a son because your father wanted to keep you. We should have called child protection, and had you taken away.”

Jake saw the hurt in his dad’s eyes. He frowned, what did she mean by they had to move because of his job?

Jake’s eyes narrowed, why are you two together?

“I…,” she faltered.

 “Why don’t we go back to bed? It’s not yet daybreak. We can talk some more in the morning,” Jake’s dad pleaded.

His wife turned and, without a word, stormed upstairs. Jake looked at his Dad and shrugged.

“Well, you’d better rest, son. You will need all your energy for the journey.”

Jake hesitated, he wasn’t sleepy, and his curiosity was peaked.

“Dad, are you tired?”

His Dad glanced in the direction of the bedroom he shared with his wife and shuddered.

I bet; he didn’t relish the thought of being in the same county let alone in the same room with her any time soon.

“Not really,” he laughed. “Why, what did you have in mind?”

“Well. You could tell me the story of why you immigrated to this country and what Mum meant?” Jake dropped his gaze.

Jake’s dad shuffled his feet. He yawned. “Nothing to tell really.” He stared at the floor. “Difference of opinion got into some hot water, and they transferred me. For the best, really. Mum just resents me deciding without her.” He stretched. “I am a bit tired after all. Think I will go to bed, goodnight.” He turned towards the kitchen door and looked over his shoulder. “Do me a favour, don’t leave until I come home. It’s half day tomorrow so should be home around noon, okay.”  

What happened? One minute they were talking, next minute Dad is faking a yawn. Something just isn’t right. Jake returned to his bedroom and started to pack. He had a lot to think about. Jake hadn’t even told his parents his secret, and now he might not get the chance. He wondered if he should mention it before he left but decided against it. Dad has enough to cope with without being told his son wanted to be a woman. Maybe Mum is right, maybe I am a freak.

He pulled out the box filled with Woman garments and paused, should I take them? Jake shrugged, pulled out a skirt, knickers and a blouse and stuffed them into his backpack. Suddenly he stopped as alarm bells rang in his head. If he waited until Dad came back, he might run into Mum again. A cold chill went down Jake’s back at that prospect. A promise is a promise, though. Jake gritted his teeth at the thought of having to deal with his mum’s temper without his dad there to back him up.  


Chapter 4
Chapter four (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER FOUR
Jake felt his mum’s eyes bore into the back of his neck as he placed the last item into his suitcase.

“You’re really going then?”

Jake sighed. What are you going to try now to persuade me to stay? “Yes Mum, I am.”

“You know this will break your dad’s heart.”

So, she’s going to use the guilt card against me. Well it won’t work this time.

Dad understands and supports me in this.”  

“What about me? Don’t I count? You were always Daddy’s little man. The things we sacrificed for you. Don’t you love us anymore?” She whined.

Jake took a deep breath. “Yes Mum, I will always love you. This hasn’t changed how I feel about you and Dad. I will always be grateful for everything you’ve done.”

Jake’s mum threw her hands in the air. “Save it. You were always ungrateful. “

Jake’s face turned red and his hands shook. He glanced down at the floor and his lip trembled. I know I promised Dad, but enough is enough.

“I’m leaving now.” Jake grabbed his bag and pushed past her. “Tell dad I’ll phone him as soon as I can.”

Vera followed him downstairs and out the door. “Good riddance, you were always bad news.”

Jake shook his head in dismay. When did Mum get so bitter and twisted?

He got into the car and turned the key, the four-door dodge diplomat started straight away. He grinned; everyone hid their surprise at his choice of car. He could hear them now, but Jake, it’s a family car. Are you sure? Don’t you want one like Jason? He patted the dashboard, well, you haven’t let me down yet, have you girl? He called her Dolly after the country singer, due to Jason’s comments about her headlights and the way they stuck out like woman’s breasts. Jake glanced up and spotted his dad turn into their driveway and pull up beside him.

A tremor ran through his dad’s jaw.“I thought you were going to leave this evening. I just had this feeling, which is why I left early.” Jake’s father bit his bottom lip and his eyes darted between his wife and Jake. He got out of the car and walked towards his son, took one look at his face, and turned to his wife. “Vera, what have you said to the boy, now?”

Jake’s mum glared at his father. “Nothing! It’s him.

Tom glared back at his wife. After a while, Vera dropped her gaze. “I’ve finished with the ungrateful boy. Anyway, I’ve got to put dinner on so if you’re going to say your goodbyes make it quick as dinner won’t be long.”

Tom jumped out of the pickup and ran after her. “You knew this day would come.”

“Vera nodded and gazed at the floor. ‘But he’s so young and he doesn’t know the dangers.” She pulled away from her husband and ran into the house.

Jake watched the exchange and frowned. What was that all about? Did his parents know more about the letter than they told him?

Tom forced a smile and turned to his son. “This is it, then.” It was a statement, not a question, and Jake nodded.

What do I say?

Jake smiled and shuffled his feet. He rubbed the back of his neck and cleared his throat. “I guess.”

His dad put a hand in the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out an envelope. “It’s not much.” He handed the package to Jake.

Jake opened it and pulled out a handful of one hundred-dollar bills. “I can’t, Dad,” Jake stammered. “There must be five thousand in here.”

“Take it, son. Call it a birthday present if it makes you feel better.”

Jake took the envelope. “Thanks Dad,” he mumbled as he put the car into drive.

“Take care, Son, and good luck. I hope you find your biological parents.”

Jake drove away. His dad waved, turned, and followed his wife into the house.

Jake knew before he hit the open road and met his destiny, he needed to make one more stop before he left town: Jason’s house. How would his friend react? Well he wouldn’t have long to find out. He looked over his shoulder, turned left and pulled up outside Jason’s three-bedroom semi-detached.
He pushed the rickety gate open and it creaked. He smiled, Jason’s mum moaned about the state of the gate and the garden with its overgrown weeds and thistles. What did she say, something about it looking like Sleeping Beauty’s castle instead of a suburb garden decent people can admire? He stopped at the door and stood in front of it for several minutes. His heartbeat quickened, what am I going to say? Should I explain everything? Will it be too much? He heard raised voices inside as his finger poised over the button.  Jake stepped back.
         
   “You can keep your…” Jason yelled over his shoulder and stormed out of the house. He stopped in midsentence when he saw his friend. “Jake, what are you doing here?” 

“If this is a bad time.”

“Is anything the matter. You look like shit, buddy.”

“I’m leaving,” Jake blurted out.

Jason took a step backwards in surprise. “You mean a holiday or something?”

Jake shook his head as he fought back the tears.

“When will you be back?”

“I don’t know, maybe never.”  Jake shuffled his feet and dropped his gaze.

Jason frowned and moved aside. “Well you’d better come in and tell me the whole story before you disappear.”

Jake didn’t move

“It’s ok, my dad’s gone to bed, drunk again.” Jason shrugged.

Jake followed Jason into the kitchen and watched him put some bread in the toaster. Jason’s mum used to love this kitchen with its yellow paint and fitted pine units. How she would hate it now with the dirty grease covered walls and the broken floorboards. The doors on her pride and joy units in a heap in one corner and a heap of beer and whiskey bottles in another. He sniffed the air and the stale beer smell wafted into his nostrils. How can he live like this?

Jason ran the cold tap, filled up the coffee maker and turned it on. The coffee and water gurgled, and Jake watched the two components mixed.

Jake drummed his fingertips on the kitchen counter. “How are things now, you know, with your dad?”

Jason shrugged. “The same. It’s his fault Mum died.” He gulped.

“It wasn’t his fault.”

Jason clench his hands and turned red. “Yes, I know. He’s sick. Well, it was his idea to go out that night. His idea to drink. His idea to drive. His idea, not anyone else’s, his!”

Jake looked away. “Sorry, man.”

Jason took a deep breath and exhaled. He unclenched his fists and gave a weak grin. “Anyway, what’s up, Buddy?” He took the finished golden toast out of the toaster and buttered it. “Sorry, do you want a slice and a drink?”

Jake shook his head and concentrated on a grease spot over the oven, how am I going to tell him all this?

“Come on, Jake. It can’t be that bad.”

Jake gave a hollow laugh, can’t be that bad! If only he knew.

Jason took a bite of his toast. The melted butter ran down his chin and he wiped it away with his hand. “Mm, nice. Come on, Jake, your scaring me now.

Are you ill? Is it your dad?”

Jake shook his head on both counts.

“Come on, buddy, tell me. Don’t keep me in suspenders.”

Jake shook his head and smiled at Jason’s feeble joke, always the joker. His jokes and impersonations of teacher’s and accents made school bearable.

But right now, he needed his friend to be serious

Jake stared at him and his bottom lip trembled. “I’m adopted.”

Jason froze, his coffee cup in his hand and stared at Jake. “Your, what?”

“Adopted.”

Jason rubbed his chin. “Are you sure, I mean did your parents tell you or is this one of your; I’m so different, Jason. I think I must be—"

Jake scowled. “I do not sound like that, and, this is for real.”

Jason grinned. “Oh, yes you do. When you go on about; who is me—"

“What, I sound like a whinny little girl, do I?”

Jason cocked his head to one side. “Well—"

“Never mind about that. I just tell you I’m adopted and all you can do is poke fun at me.” 

Jason hung his head down and shuffled his feet. He put his hands behind his back. “ Sorry bud, but it’s not the end of the world. I mean, lots of people are adopted, it don’t mean nothing. Why do you have to go away?”

“Because I’m not human,” There I’ve said it.

“Why, because your adopted?” Jason looked puzzled.

“No, because I’m a werepire,”

Jason stared at Jake for a moment and laughed. “Good one, Jake. You had me going there.”

“It’s not a joke, I wish it were.”

Jason stared at his friend and sighed. “Ok, what is a Werepire?”

“I’m half were wolf and half vampire, according to Dad.”

Jason frowned “How does he know?”

Jake shrugged.

“Ok I’ll bite.” Jason grinned at his joke. “Say I believed you, wouldn’t you be showing signs like drinking blood and stuff?”

Jake starred at his friend in disbelief. “What do you call the hair, the pointed ears, and the super strength.”

“I thought it was puberty. Ok it’s a bit different, but hey, we all change and become men our own ways.”

Jake was astounded. “The glowing eyes and the sharp teeth.”

“Ok ok, don’t go on. I don’t know, I put it down to your origin, being British and all.”

“Well you were right, it has to do with where I came from, just not where you thought I came from.”

Jason glanced sideways at his friend but remained silent.

“Well say something then.”

“When do we leave?”

Jake nearly fell off his chair, well I didn.t see that coming. Jason saw the taken aback look on Jakes face, and grinned. “Well you didn’t think I was going to let you go on your own, did you?”

“You believe me, then,” Jake sounded dubious. How can he believe me when I don’t believe myself?

“Listen bud, I don’t know what to believe, but if you think I’m going to sit here while you go off god knows where to find god knows what, well it’s you that need your head examined. Besides I need to get away for a while as things at home ain’t so hot now.”

Jake gave a weak smile. “Your dad.”

Jason shrugged. “We’ve all got our own parent problems, yours might not be human and mine is a violent drunk, go figure.” Jason looked at Jake and grinned. “So, as I said before, when are we leaving?”

“I want to leave right away, if possible.”

“Let me chuck some things in a bag and I will be with you in a minute.”

Jason ran upstairs. Jake shook his head and gazed around the room. Maybe Jason needs this as much as me. He heard Jason move around upstairs. To live with a man who you think is responsible for your mother’s death.  Jason bounded into the kitchen with an envelope addressed to his father.

“Let’s go,” he shouted over his shoulder as he headed for the front door.

Two cars stood side by side in the driveway.

Jason paused. “What car you want to take?’

Jake gazed at his Dodge and sighed. He loved that car but Jason’s Twin Engine V8 told of happier times for his friend. He took one last look at his beloved Dolly. “Yours, I think.”

Jason sighed and climbed into the driver’s seat. He leaned over and opened the passenger’s door and Jake got in. The two boys looked at each other and grinned, before Jason turned the key and started the engine. He pulled out of the drive and eased into the evening traffic. Both boys became lost in their own thoughts of what the future might hold on a journey that would change the boy’s outlook on life forever. 
 
 


Chapter 5
Chapter five (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER FIVE
The two young men said nothing for a long while, too engrossed in their thoughts to hold a conversation. Should I tell him my other secret? How will he react to that one? Oh, by the way not only am I not human but I also want to be a woman. Jake glanced at Jason and found him doing the same. Their eyes locked until a car beeped and broke the spell.

“I have something else to tell you.”

“Don’t tell me you’re an alien as well!” Jason chuckled.

“No, at least I don’t think so.”

I’m going to tell him; he has a right to know what a freak I am before we travel too far.

“You might change your mind when I tell you.”

Jason pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. “That serious is it?” He bit his bottom lip.

Jake glowed inside and gave his friend a weak smile, this is it. He looks very feminine today. What am I saying? He’s going to freak. Oh, God; what am I doing? Jake, my boy; you need to just tell him. It’s like pulling a plaster, the thought hurts more than the action.

“I think I was born in the wrong body,” Jake blurted out. He closed one eye and hid his face behind his hands.

“What like a transsexual?”

Jake did a double take. How did Jason guess? No one knew about these things unless they were involved in the scene.

Jake’s jaw dropped. “You are full of surprises today.”

Jason blushed and looked out of the car window. “Well, you see the reason I know about this is that I am a transvestite.”

Jake’s eyes bore into Jason’s head, What! Why didn’t he tell me? A tranny! Who knew? “So, you’re like me?”

Jason shook his head. “No, I like wearing woman’s clothes but am happy with my male gender, while you are a woman inside and need to be a woman outside. A bit like a piece of a puzzle that doesn’t fit.”

“Eh, okay. Why didn’t you tell me?” That’s a stupid question. He didn’t tell me for the same reason I didn’t tell him.  
Jason opened his mouth, but before he could speak, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a familiar face with a backpack slung over his shoulder in the car door mirror. “What’s Derek doing so far out of town, I wonder?”

Jake shuddered. A bead of perspiration appeared on his forehead.

Derek, the school bully, poked his head in the open car window and sneered, “Hi, what are you girls doing?”

“What’s it to you?” Jake growled as he felt his hairs stand on edge.

Derek raised his hands. “Easy, ape boy, I only asked.”

“If you must know, we’re leaving town for a while.”

“Cool, I don’t suppose I could join you, Jake? I need to get out of town for a while myself.”

Jake stared at Derek and scratched his head, why was the boy being so nice? “No.”

Derek shuffled his feet and lowered his head. “Arr, come on guys. We can be like the three musketeers or something.”

Jake shook his head. “You hate us. You’ve always hated us and now you want to be friends. What gives?”

Derek reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “I got money.” He shoved the notes into Jake’s hand, through the half-open car window.

Jake caught the bundle and took off the elastic band. “There must be a thousand dollars here!”

Jason shrugged. “The money will come in handy. I mean we might have to spend months looking for your folks. It’s up to you, man.”

Jake sighed, opened the door and moved over. 

Derek threw his backpack onto the seat beside him and struggled to get the seatbelt around his amble body.

He clicked it into place, shuffled his bottom into a comfortable position and leaned back as the seat contoured to his shape.

 “Come on, girls,” he shouted as he kicked the driver’s seat. “Let’s get going.”

“We can always throw you out again,” barked Jason over his shoulder.

“Sorry,” Derek stopped in his tracks and looked sheepish, “it won’t happen again. Don’t throw me out, I really need a ride,”

The two boys exchanged glances and shrugged. “Okay, you can come, but you’d better watch it, bud, otherwise Jake here might go all Rambo on you again like he did in the Bowling Alley carpark.”

The colour drained from Derek’s otherwise rosy red cheeks and he gave a curt nod. Jason started the engine and once again joined the flow of traffic.

 I wonder why he’s in such a hurry to get out of town.

Fields soon replaced the houses, and, after a few minutes, Jake closed his eyes.

The boys drove for another hour until Jason yawned “We need to stop guys.”

“The sign back there said there was a motel about half a mile up this road.” Jake peered out of the window. “ There it is, I think I can see it. Take the next left, the sign says it’s down here.”

The boys followed the signs and Jake pulled into the car park.

“Ok, you and Derek wait here while I go in and register.”

Jake walked into a dusty motel lobby with a red, shabby stained carpet and brown faded painted walls. and up to the registration desk. A pretty, young girl looked up from her magazine and smiled. “Can I help you, sir?”

Jake gasped and lifted one eyebrow, I thought only fat men with bad body odour worked in places like this. The girl must have seen the expression on the young boy’s face and read his mind as she grinned at him. “My father’s trying to make this place into a hotel, but he hasn’t a hope.” The girl winked.

“Single rooms are $10 a night, but if you want a twin one that’s $5 extra. An extra cot is another $5.

“I’d like a twin please and an extra cot. There are three of us.”

“We run a respectable establishment here.”

“No, I mean there are no girls, only boys.”

The girl chuckled. “Whatever you’re into is alright by me as long as we get no complaints. That will be $20, please.”

“W-we a-are friends on h-holiday,” His face turned a bright shade of red and sighed with relieved when the young woman handed him the keys.

“Number 12 on the left.”

Jake grabbed the keys and made a hasty retreat to the boys.

Derek spotted him first. “You got any food? I’m starving.”

“No, but I saw a shop a few miles back. You go settle in,” he threw the room key to Derek who caught it one-handed. “Jason and I will go get dinner and stuff.”

Derek poked out his tongue and headed towards the room. Jake and Jason climbed into the car and drove to the shop. The sign read grocery with a missing c and looked more like a shack than a shop. A table with some apples stood outside.

Jake screwed his face up. “What a dump.”

Jason shrugged. “As long as it has sandwiches and junk food, I’m happy.”

The boys climbed out of the car and entered the shop. The bell jingled.

Jake took the money his dad gave him, picked up a shopping basket and started shopping for essentials while Jason bought some chewing gum and a magazine with a half-naked woman and a red Ferrari on the front.

He spotted Jake shake his head and grinned “Hey, I told you. I might dress up like a woman but I’m all man.”

“So, you like woman still?”

Jason shrugged and dropped his gaze. “Well, I used to.”

What a strange thing to say.

They paid, walked out of the establishment and got into the car.

Jason leaned back in the seat and placed his hands on the wheel. “So, this is it.”

Jake stared out of the window. “I guess.”

“Three instead of two.”

“Yeah.”

“Going on a crusade.”

Silence.

“Not knowing if we will return men or creatures.”

Silence.

Jason frowned. “Look, if you don’t want Derek to come with us, well we can ditch him tomorrow.”

Jake laughed. “I don’t have a problem, not really.”

Jason clenched his fist. “I guess I’m not so forgiving as you. I keep thinking if I hadn’t come across you guys in the field.”

Jake frowned. “Well, you did. How much do you think we should tell him?”

 “Don’t get you.”

 “Well, do we tell him about me? I mean the whole story. Do we tell him everything? Or do we just tell him half-truths?”

“Do you want to tell him about you?” Jason looked dubious, “I mean, about your biological parents and the woman thing. I don’t really care about my secret, the whole world can know as far as I’m concerned, but you.” He shrugged.

Jake cleared his throat and rubbed his forearm. “I don’t care. What can he do? We’re not at school now and if he gets funny, we can always leave him here. The thing is, I don’t know what we’re going to find. I mean, will my folks be happy to see me? A lot of parents aren’t after giving up their kid.” He placed his hands into his jean pockets and kicked the earth with his Nike trainers.

Jason whistled. “Calm down, boy. Only time will tell, and they were the ones that sent you a letter.”

“They didn’t send me anything. They left a note with my human family, my human family. How weird was that? Things change. That seemed like a lifetime ago.”

Jason grinned. “Tell you what, if things start getting hairy, we’ll throw Derek to the wolves and run.”
Jake’s eyes twinkled. “Deal.”

The two boys laughed and drove back to the motel. They parked in the car park, jumped out of the car and opened the back-seat door. Jason picked up the grocery bags in either hand and Jake shut the door and locked it. They walked to their room. Jake knocked on the door and they walked in.
The room looked clean but small. A table and three raggedy chairs stood at the far end of the room. A small round window near the ceiling let in a bit of moonlight and showed off the pealed, green wallpaper. Along one wall stood three beds.  Derek sat on one with his legs slung over the side. The boys’ backpacks were placed on the other two.

Jake turned to Jason. “Which bed do you want?”

Jason shrugged. “I don’t care. I’m so tired, I could sleep on the floor.”

Jake grinned and threw his rucksack on the bed nearest to the window.

“About time too,” Derek grumbled, “I thought you’d left me here to starve.”

The two boys stared at the ample build of Derek and grinned. For Derek to starve, he needs more than a few hours without food, a few decades would be more accurate.

Jake opened a cheese salad sandwich and bit into it. The bread, limp and crusty tasted like its shelf life expired last year. The lettuce felt like leather, and after two mouthfuls he chucked it in the bin and opened a bag of chips. “I think it’s time you know the whole truth, Derek. About why we are on this journey, where we are going, and what we might find there.”

Derek’s eyes darted between the two boys. “Go on then,” he sneered.

Jake took a deep breath and began...

“So, you know it all, now. We don’t even know what to expect when we get there.” He collapsed on the bed and closed his eyes.

Derek grinned. “Your joking.”

Jake shook his head.

Derek scratched his jaw. “But vampires and stuff. It’s not real.”

Jake and Jason exchanged glances.

Derek turned away and walked to the window. “Look, I don’t really care what you believe because I am still coming with you.”

Jason raised an eyebrow. “But why? I mean, if you don’t believe us.”

“I think I should come clean myself. The reason my dad kicked me out of the house was that last night for the first time I was honest with him and told him I was gay.”

Jake growled. “Look, if you don’t believe me, that’s one thing, but to make fun.”

Derek put his hands above his head. “No, really. My dad found out and went into one. He called me a faggot and literally threw me out of the house. Even

Jenny won’t speak to me. She blames me like it’s my fault I’m gay. Like I did it on purpose to wind her up.” He turned away and crawled into bed. “I-I d-don’t want to talk about it anymore.” He turned over and shut his eyes. Jason and Jake starred at each other, open-mouthed. They stared at the boy’s back.

Jake shrugged. “Wow, I never saw that coming.”

Jason shook his head and rubbed his chin with his fingertips. “That probably is why he is a bully. You know, his dad bullied him at home so, he takes it out on his school peers.”

Jake laughed. “Okay, what have you done with my goofball of a friend?”

Jason smiled and poked out his tongue. “I was always this smart. It’s just you never saw it.”

Jason slipped his shoes off and climbed into bed. “Night night and if you need to go to the toilet, there’s a lamppost outside,” he chuckled.

“Haha, very funny.” Jake snuggled under the covers and closed his eyes, only Jason would make a lame joke like that.

 Sleep didn’t come easy for the two boys as their minds mulled over the day’s events and the unbelievable revelation of tonight. Eventually Jake fell into an uneasy sleep as he wondered what the morning would bring and if it would be anything like today, he hoped not.
 
 


Chapter 6
Chapter six (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER SIX
The sun shone through the small window of the room and woke Jake. He yawned, stretched, and turned over. Derek snorted, still asleep on the camp bed in the corner; boy did he give us a shock last night. He turned towards Jason but found the boy, not in bed. Jake blinked and glanced at his watch. I wonder where he’s gone this early. Jake swung his legs out of bed and pulled his T-shirt over his head and tucked it into his blue Demin jeans. The carpet felt rough on the soles of his bare feet as he investigated the boxes of food. He sighed, not one crumb left. His eyes wandered over to Derek still asleep. I bet he ate all the food. If we don’t stop eating like this our money will soon run out.

Derek stirred and opened one eye. He yawned and stretched. “What time is it?”

Jake sat on his bunk and put his shoes and socks on. “You eat all the food?”

“I got hungry, sorry.”

Jake huffed. “You don’t look sorry.”

Derek grinned and patted his stomach under the tartan blanket. “What can I say. When you feel hungry, you got to eat.”

“Well, you do.”

Derek glanced around the room. “Where’s Jason?”

A car door slammed. Footsteps crunched across the gravel. The door opened and Jason entered with a box of groceries. His guns and roses t-shirt hung loosely around his tight leather trousers and belt.

“I see you’re up then,” Jason grinned. “I thought I’d go to the shop and get breakfast. We have a long journey ahead of us and I hate looking for a mystical land on an empty stomach. Besides greedy guts over there—" he waved a hand in Derek’s direction—" ate all the food I brought for this morning.”

Jake grinned. Derek turned crimson and stumble off to the bathroom, towel slung over his shoulder.

Jason started to unpack the food.

Jake sighed. “Is that all you brought, pancakes and cereal?”

Jason frowned. “I got maple syrup as well.”                                

“Where’s the eggs, bacon, sausages?”

Jason grinned and retrieved three paper plates from the box of groceries. “You been spending too much time with your English parents, Man.” He ripped open a packet, stacked the pancakes, one on top of the other, and squeezed the gooey substance all over them. “This is how we Americans eat breakfast.”

Derek emerged from the bathroom. Cool, pancakes.” He took a plate and helped himself to a stack. He covered it with maple syrup and shovelled it into his mouth.

Jake watched him; he looks like a digger picking up mud. It is quite mesmerising. In, out, in... 

“So, does anyone know where we are going?” Food spat out of Derek’s mouth.

Jason looked at Jake. “Our disgusting friend has a point, Man.”

“Derek stopped eating and dropped his gaze. “What do you mean, disgusting?”

Jason wiped bits of pancake off his leather jacket. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to talk with your mouth open?”

Derek glared at him. “At least I don’t look like an old-time rocker without a motorbike.”

Jason stood and took a step towards Derek.

“Come on guys, quit it.” Jake walked to his jacket on the bed and pulled out a map. He stacked the plates up to one side of the table and spread the map out on the space he’d created. The boys studied it in silence, with a new blue line on it.

Jake stabbed it with his first finger. “That must be the trail.

A red pin appeared at one end of the line and a green one appeared at the end.

“That’s magic,” Derek giggled, “A GPS for vampires.”

The two boys rolled their eyes but said nothing. They’d spotted their destination. In big black ink written across the green pin appeared one word: DARTMOOR.

Derek took another mouthful. “And where is that?”

Jason got his phone out of his pocket. “England, I think. Let me check. Yes, it’s Southern England.”

“Then I don’t mean to ask a silly question, but how the hell do we get there?”

Jake took the money his dad had given him out of his coat pocket and counted it. “I’ve got enough for two flights, I think.”

Jason and Derek emptied their pockets as well.

“We have enough between us for a third ticket,” Jason mumbled.

“What about food and a place to stay? Plus, we need money to get to an airport that flies to England.” Derek wailed.

Jason ran his fingers through his hair. “Was there anything else in the envelope with the letter your mum sent you?”

Jake shook his head. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the envelope. “No, but I’ll have another…” He felt something and pulled out a key wrapped in a note. “That wasn’t there before I’m sure of it.”

“Never mind that,” Derek ran his fingers through his spiky hair. “Open it and see what it says.”   

Jake took great care not to tear the note as he unattached it from the key. He opened it and read it aloud.

‘Dear son, if you are reading this note it means you have embraced your destiny, I am so glad. This key opens a trunk in Penne station. In locker 33 there is a holdall which will help you on your journey.  Take care my son and I hope to meet you and your friends soon, love Mum.

Jake’s hand shook as he placed the letter minus the key back in his pocket. What was in the box? What was in the locker? How does she know about my friends?

“Well, that was creepy.” Derek shuddered as he looked around the room, “I hope if she’s watching us, she didn’t see me naked.”

“I think his mum would have better things to look at than your body.” Jason scoffed.

Derek swallowed, hard. “Now that’s not nice. I…” He turned away.

Jason sidled over to Derek as Jake started to repack their backpacks. “What’s the matter, now,” he whispered.

Derek shuffled his feet. “I was thinking, well the mum, you know she can maybe see us.”

Jason rolled his eyes. “So?”

Derek rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, if she saw us as kids.”

Jason smirked. “You scared she might have seen the misery you put her son through?”

Derek nodded and his bottom lip trembled.

A glint appeared at the corner of Jason’s eye. “Well, they are vamps. Maybe they will take pity on you and only suck the blood from parts of your body you never use.” Jason lowered his eyes.

“Sod off,” Derek growled. “I use it,” he whined.

Jason hid a smile. “You going to wet yourself again. God, your no better than a dog!”

“Go to hell.” Derek’s mouth curled and he ground his teeth.

Jake sighed and glanced at his watch. “The train station is only a few miles from here. If we leave now, we should be there by noon.”

The boys cleaned the room, packed up the rest of the food and headed for the car. Jake dropped the room key off at the reception and the boys were soon on the road again.

Jason spotted a card in Jake’s hand. “What’s that?”  

Jake blushed. “The receptionist gave me her number. She said if I was ever in the neighbourhood to look her up. Hairy men are sexy.”

Jason looked at his friend. “You interested?”

Jake shook his head. “Not really. I mean, she is nice and all, but...” He turned his gaze away.

“We don’t know where we’re going or for how long.”

Jake nodded. “Exactly. It was just nice that’s all. After school and everything.”

Jason smirked. What about Katy, she liked you.”

“She only liked me because she thought I was a Goth like her. You know into death and black.”

“Well, you are. Aren’t vampires supposed to be dead or something? If you knew then what you know now, you and Katy could have been prom queen and king, sitting on the throne, ruling high school.” He pouted and fluttered his eyelashes.

The two boys roared with laughter.

“She would have made you undead if you said that to her. She hated school and made sure everyone knew it.” Jake giggled. “The famous rock chick a queen, Ha Ha.”

Derek leaned forward to hear the conversation. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.” Jason chuckled. “Go back to sleep and we’ll wake you up when we get there.”

Derek shrugged, snuggled back into his seat and immediately fell asleep.

Jake and Jason drove in silence; both boys had only one thing on their mind, what the next chapter in their journey would bring? Derek snored in the back as the boy’s thoughts drifted towards their next step. Jake gazed out of the window; his mind full of questions.  What would they find at the train station? Would it answer at least some of his questions? Would it raise more questions I don’t know the answer to?  
 


Chapter 7
Chapter seven (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER SEVEN

Jason parked in a bay outside the station. “We’re here.”

Jake nodded but didn’t reach for the door handle.

“Well, what now?”

Jake jerked his head at Derek, asleep in the back. “We’d better wake him.”

Derek stirred in the back seat and opened his eyes. “Why’d we stopped?”

“We’ve arrived at the station,” Jason said in a flat voice.

Derek scratched his head. “Then why are we sitting here? Let’s go.”

The companions climbed out of the car and leaned on the hood.

“Will it be okay here,” Jason frowned.

Jake shrugged. “I don’t think it matters. After all, I don’t think we’ll ever be back here, not for a while at least.”

Derek rubbed his chin. “We might. I mean, we barely have enough money for the plane fares.”

Jake shrugged. “The note said, the holdall will help us out.”

Derek scowled. “I know what the note said but the box might contain clothes, guns, Christ, it might even contain drugs for all we know.”

“You think my parents would get us to smuggle drugs,” Jake snarled.

Derek raised his hands above his head. “No, but my point is. You don’t know what we’ll find.”

Jake sighed. He turned to Jason. “I hate to admit it, but Derek may be right.”

Jason groaned. “Well, it was bound to happen someday.” He patted the bonnet of his car. “Goodbye, old girl, for now.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Do you to want a minute?”

Jason glared at him, turned, and marched towards the station.

A group of mothers with babies in prams stood next to the boys. The screams of the babies and the mothers chat made Jake close his eyes and let out a slow breath. He sniffed and wriggled his nose as stale body odour wafted towards him. Jake shut the world out as he opened his eyes and glanced around the super clean station with its marble floor and glass windows. He could hear the announcements over the telecom and commuters all around him, it’s like they’re in my head. Jake put his hands over his ears as his head spun.

“Are you alright, man?” Jake heard Jason’s concerned voice in his ear.

Jake nodded and exhaled. Calm down. Breath, nice and slow. Count to ten. That’s it.

The boy’s eyes darted left to right as he took in the muffled music, kids, and the smell of takeaway food in his nostrils.

“I’ve spotted the lockers,” Jason cried as he shouldered his way through the crowd. “Which number is it? Jake panted and ran after his friend with Derek hot on his heels.

Jake ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s number thirty-three, but I can’t see it anywhere.”   

“They only go up to thirty,” Derek wailed.

Just as the boys were about to give up, they heard someone clear their throat behind them. The boys turned around and came face to face with a small man with short hair. He wore a suit with a bow tie and a monocle. He smiled at the boys, but his eyes were cold and hard. “Excuse me,” the man coughed. “Are you boys looking for locker thirty-three?”

The three boys stared at the funny little man who metallized before their eyes.

“Eh, yes,” Jake stammered. “Do you know where it is?

The man grinned and his expression changed. Laughter lines appeared at each corner of his mouth and his eyes twinkled in the artificial light of the station. “Sorry about that but one cannot be too careful when one cannot really show one’s self to mortals. There are rules.”

The boys exchanged glances. “Is there?

“Oh yes. It is hard being a messenger for mystical creatures as you must know, Assassin.”

Jake scratched his head. “Assassin?”

“Yes indeed. Your father is the leader of the....” He shook himself. “But that’s not for me to discuss. See, I got a whiff of humans and thought... Well, I knew you had friends with you but... Although, if you want to mix with humans...”

Jake’s lips parted. “Who are you?”

“Sorry, Ass, Eh, Ado...”

“My name is Jake.”

“Right, Assassin Jake...”

“No, just Jake.”

The little man bowed. “As you wish.”

“I do. Now, who are you?”

“I am Locker Thirty-Three.” 

The boy’s mouths fell open. They never considered the number to be a name!

Jake glanced down at the floor. “We were told to find you. I think you have a bag and a box for us.”  

“Well, I certainly have a bag for you.” Locky opened his mouth and put his hand into it. He pulled out a big, leather shoulder bag and handed it to Jake. He chuckled. “Now you know why they call me Locker thirty-three. I am a storage dwarf.”

Derek raised his eyebrows. “Why thirty-three?”

“Because I am the thirty-third child by Madam highlight.”

Derek chewed his lip. “Was she your mother?”

“Mother, no. She was the person who sired me. A group of elves called the delivery colony taught me to use my mouth.”

“Derek rolled his eyes. “Oh boy, and they say my childhood was tough.”

Locker Thirty-Three turned his attention back to Jake. “Have you got the key?”

Jake nodded. He took the bag with two fingers, it felt slimy to touch and smelt, and wriggled his nose. He took the key and started to unlock the bag; the little man placed a hand on his arm. “Not here, open it outside somewhere quiet and secluded.”

Jake mouth slackened as he stared at the man, what was it? The boy nodded and picked up the bag. “What about the box?”

The storage dwarf grinned. “That my young friend you collect from lost property.”

The weird, little man started to walk away. “Oh, by the way, I’d not go on my own, it is rather heavy.” He turned and disappeared.

Jake rubbed his eyes and glanced over at his companions. “Did you see that?”

Jason shook himself and turned to Jake. “So, you want to open the bag first or go collect the box? Jake looked at the sky as if someone up there would give him the answer, but the air remained silent. “I think open the bag first. Then if the thing is heavy or awkward to carry, we can leave it in the car.”

Derek smirked. “So, I was right to say...”

Jake shook his head. “Yes, you were right, happy?”

Jason grinned. “I am.”

The boys carried the bag outside and looked around for a safe place to open it. “I see an alleyway over there,” Jason, pointed with his finger. “It will be deserted this time of day.”

They walked towards the entrance of the split between the two shops. Their eyes darted left and right until they reached the gap between two buildings. Garbage bins and rubbish littered both sides and a rat scurried from one bin to another. The smell of rotten food hung in the air and light filtered in through the small gap at the entrance.  Derek stood guard while Jake put the bag on the floor, unlocked and opened it. The boys froze as they peered inside and saw the contents. There is enough money to fly us to England and back ten times first class with some leftover. Jake spotted a piece of paper on top of all the money. He took it out and read the note.

‘My son, if you are reading this, you have taken on your journey with destiny. I am so pleased that we will meet soon, and I can tell you the whole story. I hope you have also picked up the package. The money is to help you and your friends get here a little easier. Love mum.’

Jake slung the bag over his shoulder and marched back to the station. The other boys ran to keep up with him. They reached the lost property just as the officer shut the doors.

“Make it quick, guys,” he yawned. “I want to go home.”

“I think you have a box for me?”

“The only box I got is for an Adoifro.”

“It’s Adoifo, and that’s me.”

The man peered at Jake. “You don’t look foreign.”

“ I’m not. It’s a family name.”

The man narrowed his eyes. “It’s in the back, but it's heavy so it might take two of you.”

Jake handed the bag with the money over to Jason. He and Derek walked into the back and in a few moments, they emerged with a trunk. Jake thanked the clerk and carried the box out of the office. Derek turned bright red as he huffed and puffed with the weight of the box. A slight breeze wafted past his ear as they exited the station and made their way back to the alleyway. The place looked deserted, apart from a few stray dogs on the lookout for some leftover takeaway food. The two boys placed the box on the cobbled street and stared at it.

“Well open it then,” Derek whispered.

Jake undid the buckles and threw the lid open. What looked like a life-sized porcelain doll lay on a silk sheet.

Jason touched the cold, soft skin of the white face with no colour.

“It’s a boy,” cried Jason.


Chapter 8
Chapter eight (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER EIGHT        
The boy opened his round, slate-grey eyes, raised his faint eyebrows, sat up and blinked his long eye lashes. He turned his head and stared at the open-mouthed trio. “Hello, you got here then.”
        
  Jake opened his mouth to speak but didn’t know what to say. He’s so smooth his skin looks like porcelain. He glanced at his companions and frowned. What the hell is the matter with Derek? Why does he have that stupid lopsided grin plasters all over his podgy face?
         
Derek extended his arm and helped the stranger out of the box. “Who are you?”
       
   God, he’s tiny. He must only be five feet to five feet two inches tall.
Jake ran his eyes up and down the boys torso. Although, he has got a very athletic looking body even if his hands are delicate and girl-like.
       
    The doll-like boy turned towards Jake and smiled. “Hi cousin.” He grinned. “My name is Hassorev.” He waited. “You must be Jake.”  
      
    Jake stood there, his mouth wide open. I can see right through him. “M-my cousin?” Jake stammered.
    
      “Yes, your mum and my mum were sisters.” Hassorev sighed. “You’re not seeing things,” he laughed. “I am half ghost.” He smirked and screwed up his face. “Better?”

          Jake nodded as the boy came into focus. He looks rather pretty with his dainty nose, glossy, jet-black hair, and rosebud lips ... 
          Before anyone could say another word, Jason glanced around. “I’m sure everyone has a lot of questions, but I think we need to find somewhere else to tell our stories. We are getting quite a bit of attention here.”
        
  Sure enough, the street wasn’t as deserted as it before.
       
    Derek put his hand out for Hassorev to take “There’s a burger bar across from the station, we can talk there. We can get something to eat as well and decide what to do next.” He fluttered his eyes at Hassorev. “I’m sure you must be hungry and thirsty after being in that box for so long.”
     
     Jake scowled at Derek, what was wrong with the boy? Hassorev wasn’t his type, well out of his league. He glanced at his cousin just as the boy looked up and their eyes locked. Jake felt his heart flutter and he couldn’t breathe, what is wrong with me!
       
   Jake turned his gaze to Jason and, to his surprise, saw his friend glare at Hassorev with cold, hard eyes, now what’s wrong with him? The moment passed and the four boys walked to the burger bar together.
   
        Jake held the heavy door of the café open while his companions strolled through the doorway. Jake smelt the aroma of burgers and heard the sizzle as they hit the hot fat in the frying pan. His stomach grumbled, boy, am I hungry. Jason spotted a booth near the window, walked over to it, and sat down.

The other boys followed suite.
     
     A waitress came over with a menu. “Hi, you guys ready to order?” She wiped her hands on her stained uniform and tapped her foot on the hard floor. She chewed her gum, took a pad and pen out of her overall pocket and stared at them.
   
       Jason glanced at the menu. “We’ll have four big doodle meals, please.”
   
       The waitress wrote their order down. “What drinks do you want?”
   
       “Root beers all round. Is that all right with you guys?”
      
     His companions nodded. 
       
    The waitress gathered up the menus and sauntered away.
     
     Jake waited until she disappeared into the kitchen. “So, you’re my cousin,” He stared at Hassorev. “Then why not tell me sooner and why the hell were you in a luggage box? How are you alive? That box was solid, no air holes.
     
     Hassorev put his hands up and laughed. “Wait a minute, one question at a time. How about I start with a bit of history about our people. It will help you understand, not only your story a little bit better, but mine as well. And I am half ghost; I don’t need air.”
   
       Jake nodded his head and Hassorev began to tell a tale of intrigue, betrayal and prejudice. “A long time ago vampires and werewolves were buddies. Together they fought against a common enemy, man. One day the great werewolf leader, and the vampire leader   were captured. The vamp made a deal with the humans to give up the great werewolf leader, your father’s father. The humans betrayed him and tried to capture both, but they fled to England where they settled down. Our vamp grandfather married soon afterwards and had three daughters, Eva, Khans and Semele. Our wolf Grandfather never forgave him for the betrayal and started the war. The battle went on for years and was passed down from generation to generation. There were many casualties on both sides until finally our grandfather saw how futile it all was and called for an uneasy truce. The deal is we don’t venture on their land and they don’t trespass on ours.” Hassorev cupped his hands around the hot tea and took a sip.
     
     Jake creased his forehead and frowned. “But that still doesn’t tell me about, where we came from? What this affair has to do with us? Why did our parents abandon us?”
 
         Hassorev sighed and put his cup down. “I’m coming to that,” he rolled his eyes. “Well that was fine until your mother met your father, ran off with him and got pregnant with you. Grandfather hit the roof and banished his eldest daughter from his land. I must admit from then on I’m not sure what happened with your story, but where your story ends, mine begins.”
    
      All three boys sat at the edge of their seats. Jake wiped his hands on his jacket and held his breath.
    
      “My mother decided to leave home. She ran away and met this human. It was love at first sight. He owned a castle and was a lord or something. I am talking a century ago now, and yes, we don’t age like humans do. He got ill and went into comma, but before that happened, he’d hired the greatest minds alive to make him a machine that would keep him alive. He specified in his will to be bricked up in a cave on his land and for no one apart from my mother to know where it is.”
      
    “Jake scratched his head. “What about the people who bricked him up, they would know.”
  
        Hassorev looked down at his hands. “He told my mum to kill them after the job was completed and throw their bodies into the sea. He became a ghost and married my mother. A year later they had me.”
   
       “So, you’re a…” Jake rubbed the back of his neck.
   
       “I’m a ghopire,” Hassorev whispered.
  
        “So, what happened next,” Derek hissed.
  
        “Well, when grandfather heard about this, he was even more angry. I mean it’s one thing to marry a werewolf, but a human, that was too much. Therefore, when I was barely two, he came to our house with some of the clan and took me away to live with him. He told me years later, he’d killed my parents, but I’m not so sure he was telling the truth.”
        
  Derek’s eyes opened even wider. “How do you know?” 
        
  “What you mean because your dad’s a ghost?” Jason muttered.
       
    “No, you can kill my dad. All you need to do is find his body and destroy it. I got a letter on my fourteenth birthday. I was hunting with grandfather, when

I felt something in my pocket. I waited until I was alone and took it out. It was a note with one sentence, ‘you are not alone.’ After that, every so often I’d get another one. It ranges from I love you to we will all be together soon.
  
        “Jason tapped his watch. “This is all very well, but if you don’t start telling us why you were in the box soon, we will have to book a hotel and catch the plane in the morning.”
   
       Hassorev bowed his head. “I am sorry, my friend you are right of course.”
    
      Jason scowled. “I am not your friend,” he muttered under his breath.
  
        Jake heard him and stole a glance in his friend’s direction. What is the matter with you?

          Hassorev glared at Jason. “Well, I turned sixteen and my grandfather took me on an overnight hunt. We camped out under the stars and while I gazed up at them, another letter appeared in my pocket. I made an excuse and went into the forest to read it on my own. This message wasn’t a note, but a letter with instructions telling me to run away tonight and buy myself a trunk. The letter instructed me to lock myself in the box and wait for my cousin and his friends to collect me. A man called Locky met me at the edge of my grandfather’s land and gave me a wad of money and a drink. After that I don’t remember much until you opened the box.”
     
     Oh my god, he must have heard Jason.
Jake slapped his head with the palm of his hands and turned crimson. Of course, he did. If he is part vampire his hearing must be as good as mine.
    
      Jason gave his friend a sideways look and frowned. ”If we’re going to catch a plane tonight, we’d better hurry. Jake and I’ll go get the car while you boys can pay the bill.

          Derek grinned and put his arm around the boy. Jake scowled but followed Jason out of the door and to the car. The two boys were already outside the burger joint when Jake and Jason pulled up. They slid into the back seat and Jason put his foot down. The car squealed in protest, but Jason kept it under control. Jake wriggled his bottom in the front seat and got comfortable. He closed his eyes as the car ate up the miles to the airport and smiled, next stop England and answers to some questions, he hoped.  

As the car headed in the direction of John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hassorev seemed a little uneasy. He fidgeted in the back seat and avoided eye contact whenever possible. Was Hassorev hiding something?

Hassorev seemed to have made up his mind. He sat up straight and cleared his throat. There’s something I forgot to mention in the burger place.”

“What now?” Jason growled.

Jake turned bright red. Why is Jason being so rude?
“Well I think it should only be Jake and me who, eh.” He rubbed the palm of his hand on the back of his neck and stared straight ahead. “The thing is,

Werewolves and vampires hate humans. It might be dangerous for humans to venture into these lands,” he trailed off.

Jason turned around and nearly drove off the road. “No way, man.” 

Hassorev leaned forward. “Well the thing is we’re at war and…”

“War! What you mean war.? I thought you said there was a truce?” Jake spluttered.

“Well there is between the werewolves and vampires, but we are ‘pires and both clans have declared war on us. They think us abominations on their race and want to terminate our very existence. They hate us, but they despise humans.”

Jason turned his head. “We’re going!” he barked.

“Jason, look out!” the boys yelled as Jake yanked the wheel to the left. “You nearly ran the car into a ditch.”

Jason gripped the steering wheel and frowned as he stared at the road ahead.  “At least I am,” he muttered.

“So am I,” Derek snapped.

“Ok, ok just thought I’d warn you. We don’t know what we’ll be walking into and with Jake’s mother being captured as well.” Hassorev sat back in his seat and crossed his arms across his chest.

“What do you mean, my mum is captured?” Jake yelled and twisted in his seat.

“Eh, didn’t I mention that? Yes, Grandfather took her hostage and your dad is waiting for us before he attempts to rescue her. I thought these humans might get in the way, that’s all.”

“How the hell do you know that?” Jake cried.

“It was in the letter. Didn’t I mention it?” 

“No, you didn’t.”

Jake turned towards the window and gazed out, what else was this boy not telling them? “Is that it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

What’s the real reason you don’t want my friends to come? Are you really concerned about them or is there another reason?

“Oh, look we’re at the airport,” Jason piped up.

The boys left the car in the car park and entered the airport. It looked enormous and very clean. A image of the Statue of Liberty stared down at them from one of the walls and wooden tables with leather chairs filled up the balcony’s. Jake looked around and spotted an airline office. “Right, stay here while I go buy us some tickets.”

Jake walked in the direction of the flight centre and disappeared through the sliding doors.  He soon appeared again and, in his hand, he held four tickets.

He gave the other boys their boarding passes. “The only flights I could get are on Air America which leaves at noon. It’ll mean we won’t get to London before dark. Also, I couldn’t get us seats together. Jason and I are row A, you two are behind us in row B. The good news is, it’s a straight flight; no stop overs. If we get separated, we can meet on the plane.”

Jason glanced at his ticket and saw they had a couple of hours to spare. “Anyone wants some coffee and something to eat.”

The rest of the boys nodded. It must have been hours after their last meal. Jason and Hassorev went to get refreshments, while the rest of the boys found a seat in the airport. Jason soon returned laden down with chocolate, sandwiches and coffee. The boys took one plastic cup each and sat on the chairs provided. They munched in silence as they waited for their flight to be called. The sun beat against the windowpanes and made the airport feel like a furnace. The boy’s eyes began to close...

... Jake, Jake wake up,” a soft and tender voice whispered in his ear. “Come on, Son. You’re going to miss your flight.”

Jake opened his eyes and looked at his watch. Jesus, twenty minutes to get to their terminal. He shook his companions awake, gathered their belongings, and hurried to the boarding gate. They made it with seconds to spare.

Jason looked over at Jake and smiled. “That was lucky, you waking up like that.”

Jake grinned and nodded. He glanced upwards and smiled, thanks mum, I owe you one.
 
 


Chapter 9
Chapter nine (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER NINE
            A woman in a blue uniform stopped them at her desk. “Please empty your pockets and place the items in the trays provided.”

The boys complied.

“Now, place your bags on the conveyer belt, please.”

Jake placed the bag full of money on to the belt and it travelled through the scanner. “We only have one,”

The woman glanced at the bag’s x-ray. “Are you trying to be funny?”

The boy’s frowned.

“This bag is empty.” The woman reached for her walkie talkie.

Hassorev stepped forward and stared at the woman. “We are celebrities and the bag are filled with clothes. You are to radio through that we are not to be stopped.”

The woman gave a slow nod and pressed a button on her radio. “I have three boys here who are very important. They are to go through without delay.”

“Okay, Jill. Send them through,” a male voice replied.

She handed the bag back to Jake. “I hope you have a nice trip, Sir.”

Hassorev grinned. “Thank you, Jill. We will.”

The boys walked through the departure gates.

Jake caught hold of Hassorev’s arm. “What the hell was that?”

Hassorev smiled. “That, dear cousin, was the mind manipulation lesson. All vampires are taught it when they are old enough to hunt by themselves. You would have known how if you hadn’t been bought up by Tom, eh, humans.”

Jake pressed his lips together. Was that a slip of the tongue or did the people who brought him up,  know more about this world than they let on? Did Hassorev?

Jason coughed. “If we don’t get a move on, we’ll miss take off.”

The boys ran through the gate a minute before the terminal closed and boarded the aeroplane. The flight attendant showed them to their seats and the plane took off.

Jake glanced around and spotted a gingered haired, pale-skinned, bright electric blue eye, button nosed boy with long hair in the seat opposite. The boy stared at him and Jake smiled. The black-haired, pointy-nosed, blemished skin, big-boned woman beside him gave the boy a nudge. 

“Mummy, why has that boy got long ears and hair all over his body?”

“Shh, don’t talk about people like that and don’t stare, it’s rude.”

“Is he a werewolf?”

The woman glanced up and smiled at Jake. He shuddered at her icy blue eyes. “Don’t be silly, boy. There are no such things as werewolves and monsters.”

Even though Jake’s face turned bright red, he couldn’t help but smile. Derek kicked his chair from behind. “If only they knew.”

Jake turned in his seat and grinned at his enemy turned friend. “Better he doesn’t, I think.”

The group laughed and turned away from the child as they gazed out of the window. Soon the land turned into blue water and the people disappeared as the plane rose higher and higher into the sky. Jake felt his eyelids droop and he snuggled in his seat and fell asleep.

He saw a woman in the distance. She carried something. He couldn’t see what it was, so he ran closer. The woman turned. She bared her pointed teeth at him and pointed in the direction he’d come from. He froze as he caught a glimpse of what she was holding. It was a human head- his human head. He heard a voice in the distance; it was calling for him…

“Jake, Jake, wake up, we’re about to land. Come on, the seat belt sign went up a few minutes ago,”  

Jake opened his eyes and saw Jason shake his shoulder. He pushed himself upright, pulled his seatbelt around him and clicked the two pieces together.
Rain hit the tiny windows and Jake heard the wind whistle and his stomach lurched with every air pocket the big flying craft hit on its decent. The pilot landed the plane, the passengers departed, and Jake turned to his companions. “So, do you want to get a map and drive to Dartmoor now?”

Jason glanced at his watch and yawned. “It’s really late and I am worn out. I think we should find a hotel and start tomorrow, refreshed.”

Derek shivered. “I think the first thing in the morning one of us should go clothes shopping and buy some warmer clothes. Is it always this cold in England?”

Jason grinned and turned to Jake. “What was it your dad said. Go to England and the only souvenir you’ll bring back is a cold.” He turned to Derek. “It’s Winter, what do you expect?”

“Well its winter in America as well, but I don’t remember it ever being like this in early November,” Derek grumbled. He blew on his hands and rubbed them together.

“First things first, we need to hire a car, find a hotel and get a good night’s sleep.”

Jason spotted the boy and his mother from the plane and walked up to them. “Excuse me, but do you know if there is a good hotel around here?”

The woman took a step back and peered at him. “You’re the boys from the plane, I remember you.” She lowered her voice, “I hope your friend wasn’t offended by my boy. Tommy has far too much imagination. I blame his dad, you know.”

Jason shook his head, “Don’t fret. My friend is cool. Do you know of a good hotel, Ma’am?”

The woman nodded. “Well, there’s Sheraton Heathrow Hotel. That’s quite good, but a bit expensive.”

“That’s ok. Our parents will pay.” Jake blurted out. The woman raised her eyebrows. “I mean, it’s a gap year for us and our parents are treating us to a holiday of a lifetime.”

“You boys are very lucky to have parents like that.” The woman put her hand out and a black car stopped. The sign said TAXI. She helped her son in and sat him on a seat. She turned to Jason. “In fact, we’re going there now. My husband is on leave and we’re meeting him there.”

“My daddy’s a filmmaker and he’s shooting some people there and he says we can stay at the hotel and do stuff together,” the boy gushed.

The woman pushed the boy back into his seat. “Will you behave and your dads not shooting people, he’s filming a scene for his new movie there.” She shook her head. “Why don’t we share a taxi as we’re going to the same place?”

Jason waved to the boys to join him, thanked the woman, and they all bundled into the car.

Jake gazed around the spacious car, this sure isn’t like the cabs back home.

“So, do you boys have any plans on where you’re going to visit while you’re here?”
        
    Jason rubbed his hands on his shorts. “We need to get to Dartmoor.”

The woman raised her eyebrows and a smile began to form on her lips. “If you don’t mind me saying so, t-shirts and blazers are not the right attire for that part of England.”

Jason shrugged and lowered his eyes. “It’s a family emergency. We weren’t planning to come here.”

The woman laughed. “I’ve had a few of them myself. My name is Mrs Thomas and this little horror is Tommy.”

“I’m Jason and this is Jake, Derek and Hassorev.”

“Hassorev, that’s an unusual name.”

Hassorev smiled at Mrs Thomas and nodded. “Russian, I think.”

“Oh, are you from Russia, then?”

Hassorev glanced at Jason with wide-open eyes. Jason took the lead once more. “Yes, his fathers were born there.”

Mrs Thomas opened her mouth to ask another question, but the taxi driver interrupted her. “This place, Miss?”

She nodded, paid the driver and nudged little Tommy in the side. “It’s time to wake up, Hun.”

Tommy stirred and rubbed his side. “That hurt.”

His mother glared at him. “Well, you shouldn’t have gone to sleep. You know it’s not far from the hotel.”

“That’s a bit harsh,” Jason whispered to Jake.

Jake shrugged. “Maybe she is his step-mum or she’s tired or something.

Jason nodded. “Maybe, but still.”

The party entered the hotel. Jake’s jaw dropped as he gazed around the luxurious foyer with its red, gold-edged staircase carpets, and its immaculate dressed staff in their red uniforms, as they scurried around like rats. A hotel porter ran up and took the woman’s bag from her hand. “Well, here we are boys. The receptionist is an old friend of mine. Mention my name and you should be alright.”

Jason thanked her, waved goodbye to Tommy and headed towards the receptionist area. They heard someone behind them. Tommy ran up to Jake and grinned. “Mum says, do you want to have breakfast with us? Please say yes. You can meet me, dad.”

Jake glanced at the rest of the foursome, who nodded. He ruffled the boy’s hair. “Tell your mum we’d love to. What time?”

Tommy hugged Jake and showed his small baby teeth with a grin. “We normally wake up about seven-thirty. So, mum thought we’d meet you in the restaurant at about eight.”   

Tommy ran back to his mother to tell her the good news. Mrs Thomas waved one last time at the boy’s before she turned and followed the porter up the stairs.

Jason signed them in, and the receptionist clicked her fingers. Another man in a red uniform and cap appeared. “Take these gentlemen to room 501 please.”

The porter scratched his head. “Where’s their luggage?”

The receptionist shrugged. “They don’t have any, but their friends of Mrs Thomas.”

The man nodded and took the group up to their room in the lift. Jason only booked one four-person room. The man opened the door and the boy’s stepped in. Jason spotted the bed closest to the door and dived on it. “This one’s mine boys.”

Jake sighed. Would his friend ever grow up? It was summer camp all over again!

Jake took the bed nearest the window and left the other two to fight over the bunk beds in the corner of the room. He kicked off his shoes and threw himself, backwards, onto the bed. The boy closed his eyes and drifted off into a world of monsters.   

The woman held his head in her long-fingered hand and pointed in the direction he’d come. He turned and saw a group of monsters behind him. He turned back to the woman, but she’d disappeared. Meet your mother; he heard a voice in the distance say. He looked up, only to find the woman who had his head hover above him with blood-stained teeth…

Jake woke with a start. The sun shone through the gap in the curtain and he turned on his side away from the light. I wonder if this is an affliction, I’m going to have to be a vampire. He sat up and looked at the clock, 7:45, we’re late.

He jumped out of bed and put on his shoes. “Come on guys. We’re late.

Jason moaned and covered his head with the pillow.

“Jake ran over to him and pulled the covers off. “Come on, we’re meeting Mrs Thomas for breakfast, remember.”

Jason sighed and got out of bed. “You wake the others while I have a quick shower,” he grumbled.

“Wake up you two,” Jake yelled at the top of his voice.

Derek rolled out of bed and landed on the hard floor. “What the hell?” he growled.

Hassorev climbed out of the bottom bunk and put out a hand to help him up. Derek grabbed the boy’s hand and glared at Jake. “What’re you yelling about?”

“Breakfast and we’re late.”

Jason appeared from the bathroom with a bathrobe. He ran to his case, pulled out a t-shirt and jeans and threw them on.  “Come on guys,” he grabbed the keys from the small table beside his bed. “Let’s go.”

“Hey, don’t we get to shower,” Derek grumbled.

“You two can shower when we come back.” Jake chucked a t-shirt at Derek’s head. “Now come on, we’ll be late.”

Derek and Hassorev pulled on some clothes and the four boys left the room.

Mrs Thomas sat with her back to the door with Tommy and a middle-aged, weak chinned, crooked nosed spiky sandy blonde-haired man with glasses and facial stubble sat in the chair adjacent to her. Tommy spotted his friends first and ran up to them. He caught hold of Jake's arm and dragged him across the room. “This is my friend, Daddy. This is my daddy, Jake.”

Mr Thomas rose and clasped Jake’s hand with his.

God, he’s got a strong grip.

The older man-made eye contact and smiled. His white teeth gleamed as his steel-blue eyes darted from boy to boy.

I wonder if he knows he looks like a vampire. Jake stifled a giggle.

“So, you are the boys my Tommy can’t stop talking about,” he boomed.

Jake blushed.

“Well, sit down and I’ll order breakfast.” Mr Thomas waved his hand in the air and a waiter hurried over.

He glanced at the menu on the table. “I think it will be the full house for five, one kid platter, an orange juice, and two teas and...”

“Coffee, please,” the three boys’ muttered in unison.

“... and three coffees. 

The waiter nodded and hurried into the kitchen.

The food and drinks came, and the boys devoured every morsel. He sat and sipped his drink. “I hear you boys are heading to Dartmoor today.”

“          Yes, Sir,” Jake answered.

“Do you know how to get there?”

“No, Sir. We’re going shopping after breakfast. We need a map and some warm clothes.”

“Plus, some provisions,” Jason added.

Mr Thomas pushed back his chair and got up. He walked to another table and spoke to a person with a clipboard before he returned and sat down again.

“I’ve told my gofer to go get you all the stuff you need.”

Derek shivered. “What about a coat or something.”  

Mr Thomas grinned. “Yes, I told him to get you some jumpers and a coat each and put it on my account.”

“How do you know our sizes?” Derek stammered.

Mr Thomas eyed Derek up. “I would say the rest of the boys are medium except you. You’re large?”

Derek turned a bright shade of red. “How do you know?”

“I am a low budget film director, and as such have to do most things on my movies. You get an eye for sizes in my line of work.”

Jake chewed his bottom lip and gave Mr Thomas a sideways glance if he’s so low paid, how come he’s got an errand boy? Mr Thomas caught Jake’s eye and winked; the man seems to know what I’m thinking.

The man with the clipboard returned and whispered in Mr Thomas ear. Tommy’s dad turned to Jake, “My man bought all the provisions and clothes you boys will need. They are all in a box in a car he hired for you and the map is on top.”

Jake put his hand in his pocket and pulled out some notes.

Mr Thomas shook his head. “No need for that. Call it a welcome to England present.”

“We can’t except that.” Jake held out a hundred-pound note.

Mr Thomas brushed his hand away. “Won’t hear of it, lad. Now take the gift and enough said.”

Jake got up and went to shake his host’s hand. “Well thank you for breakfast and stuff, but we really must be off.”  

“We’ll see you out if you don’t mind?”

Jake didn’t have much choice. The party walked towards the hotel doors before Jake stopped and hit his head with the palm of his hand. “I need to pay the bill.”

“Don’t worry. It’s taken care of.”

Jake stared at his host. “I can’t let you pay for that as well!”

“Don’t worry about it, Adoloifo,” Mr Thomas assured.

Jake froze. “What did you call me?

“I said, don’t worry about it, Jake.”  

Jake shook his head, maybe I misheard, but the gleam in the man’s eyes told him he hadn’t.

The party strode outside and Mr Thomas pressed a car automatic door key. Jake heard a click of a car unlock and saw a red station wagon with a box in the back of the car. The boys walked up to the vehicle and got in. Jason got into the driver’s seat and asked Derek, in the back, to pass him the map.

Mr Thomas walked to the passenger side to say goodbye to Jake. The boy thanked the man and his family for their hospitality. “I hope we meet again,
Sir.” He wound the window up as Jason started the car. As the motor vehicle moved away, he was sure the strange man muttered, “You can count on it, Adoloifo,” before he and his family turned and walked back into the hotel.       
 
 


Chapter 10
Chapter ten (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TEN
Jason merged on to the M25. Jake looked out of the window and saw the reflection of the two boys at the back. He scowled and wished it were, him, in the rear seat with Hassorev instead of Derek. The car rumbled along the motorway. Soon they were on the M3. The trees and fields became a blur and the big blue destination signs merged into one.

Jake sighed, stretched, and stared out of the window. He spotted a sign which read services and showed an icon of a bed, a knife and fork, and a giant P.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Anyone wants to stretch their legs and grab a coffee.”
        
    Jason nodded. “Me. Its hard work driving in England.” He pulled on to a slip road and drove into the service station car park. The boys piled out and gazed up at the complex.

“Wow,” Jason muttered. “This is different from America pit stops.”

Jake nodded. The place towered above him. He walked towards the doors and they opened. The boys walked in. Jake glanced to his left and saw a W H
Smiths and a McDonalds. Straight ahead a sign read toilets and to his right a Costa and a shop which seemed to sell everything. Outside the shop, two massage chairs stood. A booth became available outside the burger bar and the boy’s grabbed it. He glanced at his wristwatch, noon; must be lunchtime.

The group sat and Derek clicked his fingers.

“What are you doing?” Hassorev hissed.

“Em, getting a waitress,” Derek stammered.

“Not like that! We wait in England.”

Derek turned crimson.

Jason scowled. “Hey, there’s no need to get your knickers in a twist, as you English say. He wasn’t to know.”

What the hell is wrong with Jason? Now he’s sticking up for Derek.

“How much longer until we get there?” Derek wailed.
  
          “You sound like a kid,” Jason snapped.

Now, he’s picking on Derek. Jake shook his head and tried to catch Jason’s eye, but his friend stared at the plastic tabletop and avoided eye contact.

            Derek stuck his tongue out and watched a group of teenagers walk by. Hassorev touched Jake’s arm. Jason turned red and his hand shook as he picked up his coffee cup. He took a sip and slammed it down so hard on the table, both boys jumped.

Jake scowled at his friend’s reaction to their intimacy and got up. “We need to go,” he growled.
 
          The rest of the group drained their cups and followed him out of the service station. They got into the car and joined the motorway once more.
 
          No one spoke until Jake spotted the signs for Dartmoor.
 
          “What does your map say this place is?” Jason asked as he turned off the M3.
 
          Jake put his hand in the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out the map his parents sent him. “Dartmoor National Park.”
        
  A horse galloped into view and Jason pulled the wheel to the right to avoid it. “That was close.”

          Jake spotted a bird in the tree and two rabbits disappear down a hole. “I think this is a wildlife park or something.”

          Derek glanced to his left and shivered. “You mean lions, tigers and stuff?”

          Hassorev shook his head. “No, only woodland animals like deer and ponies.”
       
   Jason scowled. “And how do you know. You been here before?”
      
    Hassorev shook his head and looked away. “No, read it in the letter. Didn’t I say?”
   
      What other bits of information did the letter say that my dear cousin has conveniently forgotten to tell us, I wonder?

 
          Jason spotted a signpost for the park and followed it. They drove through two big iron gates and Jason pulled over to the side of the road. “Do they say which part? This place is enormous. We’d be looking for weeks, and never find it!”
     
    A family on bicycles peddled by, each wore a helmet and pads on their knees and elbows. Jake waved and the boy tried to wave back. He wobbled and the father rode next to him, grabbed his handlebars and scowled at Jake.
 
          Jake turned bright red, muttered sorry and studied the map. “It looks like there’s a cave we’ve got to go through.”
 
          “Then I think we had better look in the forest over there. That’s where caves usually are,” Hassorev piped up from the back seat.
 
          The boys got out and left the car at the side of the road. Jason scratched his head. “This forest must be new; it’s not shown on the road map.”
 
          The companions entered the forest and looked around. They searched for a cave but couldn’t find one. As they pondered on how to proceed, someone tapped Jake on the shoulder. “You must be, Adoloifo and friends.” 
       
  A wiry, long white-haired, white-bearded, bushy eyebrowed, hawk-nosed, thick-lipped man stood before them. He wore a purple three-piece suit and carried a stick. 
 
          Jake jumped back. “Where did you come from?”
 
          “The cave over there.” The strange man pointed towards a cave hidden by a few bushes.
 
          The group stared in the direction the man pointed and spotted an opening in a bush they’d already searched.
 
          “But that wasn’t there before,” Derek stammered.
 
          The man turned to Derek and eyed the boy up and down. He cleared his throat. “If everyone could see the entrance to our land, it wouldn’t be safe for long, would it?”
 
          Flushed faced, Derek bowed his head. “No, I guess not,” he mumbled.
 
          The man turned back to Jake. “My name is Adrian. Now we must hurry. He grabbed Jake’s arm with his delicate hand while his eyes darted around the forest. “It’s very dangerous to keep still for so long. Both clans can smell us, and they know when humans are in their woods.”
 
          “Are you human, like us?” Jason asked.
 
          “Yes, and I’ve lived a long life which will be extinguished with yours if we don’t get going soon.” He pushed the group towards the cave.  
 
 
          Adrian propelled the group through the opening. Every so often, he looked over his shoulder to make sure they were not followed. The shadows gave it an eerie feel and the light from the fire torches dug into the walls didn’t help. Jason stumbled a few times on the uneven surface. Derek fell over a rock and yelled as he twisted his ankle. The party stopped.
 
           “Can you walk?” Adrian glanced at his watch. “Jake’s grandfather expected us over an hour ago.”
 
           Derek, with the help of Hassorev, stood up and put his foot on the floor, he cried out,  “No, it hurts too much.”
 
           Jake turned to Adrian. “How much further?”
 
           “Around the next corner.”
 
           Jake put Derek’s arm around him, and his cousin shouldered the weight on the other side. “Hassorev and I will carry him.”  
 
           The party rounded the corner and saw the end of the tunnel. They walked towards it and out into the opening. Jake gasped as he saw a valley with green tree, fields and a river. He saw wooden huts on one side of the river in a row and, on the other side, big tents and a brick building. Soldiers in red uniform wore a studded belt around their waist. A pistol hung in a holster on the left hand of the creature and, on the right, a solid silver dagger with a wooden point hung in a sheath clipped to the belt. On its back, a magnificent wooden sword with a silver pointed blade hung in an open-ended scabbard. Each soldier wore a baseball cap on their heads, and, on their tunics, Jake saw different numbers and wolf coloured badges embossed on the sleeve. The view took his breath away. A cold wind blew from the east over mountain terrain. At the foot of the mountains stood a forest and Jake’s sensitive nose picked up the scent of poppy’s in their first bloom. He spied men in red lined black coats with guns in holsters slung over their shoulder move around the area. The warm from the south hit his cheek as he turned his head in the direction of the heat. The zest of oranges and lemons hit the back of his throat and the scent tickled his nose, he sneezed. Trees and hedges met his gaze as he stared at the orchard to the side of him. A huge castle in the distance caught his eye. Hairy men in grey blazers and double back scabbards marched on the grassy landscape  He dropped Derek and stared at his heritage.
 
           Derek cried out as his foot hit the ground hard, but no one paid him any attention except Hassorev. “We need to get Derek medical attention.”
Jake gasped at the beauty of ‘Pire valley. A massive winding ravine ran between different coloured rock walls. Wild grass grew on the banks and shadows danced as the rocks blocked out the sun. Jake heard the wind whistle of the wind and the water rush over the pebbles in the water. He gasped as he looked down at transparent humans like Hassorev, muscular men like him with hair and pointed ears and humans like Derek and Jason. “Do humans live here as well. I thought creatures don’t like humans.”

Adrian grinned a wore a faraway look. “If the general gets his wish everyone will live together. He wants a utopia where humans and creatures can coexist. That’s why winning this war is so important to us. Those humans are willing donors who give the vampire population the blood they need. I myself are a donor to Eva, your mother. But, unlike these humans, I’ve been adopted into the clan. Your dad took me in when I was a teenager. I had no family and, although he took me in for my blood, we became close. He bought me up as his own and I gladly gave my blood to him. The trouble was, I was human, and I aged. Your dad got me to drink some of his blood as this reversal role stopped the ageing process. I have been with your family for a century. Like your father, although I get a year older every year,   
 
          A soldier approached. He wore a brown cap and blazer. Embossed on the front Jake saw a white wolf and, in his hand, he held a dagger. He pointed a pistol in Jake’s face. “Who goes there?”
 
          Adrian marched up to him and pushed the gun away. “This is Adoloifo, you fool.”
 
          The man lowered his weapon and saluted. “I’m so sorry, Assassin. I didn’t recognise you.” The officer turned to Adrian. “How was I supposed to know? No one’s seen him since he was a baby.” He turned back to Jake. “Your grandfather is expecting you.” The man glanced at his watch. “What happened, Adrian? It’s not like you to be late.”   
 
          Adrian jerked his head at the group. “The humans held us up, and one of them is injured.”
 
          The soldier glanced at Derek and nodded. “I will take him to the medic; you take the others to General Filtiarn.”
 
The group marched towards a big brick building and stopped in front of it. Adrian knocked on the door and a voice barked, “Enter.”
     
    Adrian opened the wooden door, walked in and the boys followed. Jake felt a soft carpet underfoot in this big room with stairs at the end of it. A sofa and chairs stood in one corner and bookshelves stood floor to ceiling. A man sat behind a desk with papers and maps all around him. His hairy face furrowed, and his bushy eyebrows knitted together. He looked up, my what big teeth you’ve got and what a hairy face, long claws...
      
    He smiled and pushed his chair back. “Hassorev, I haven’t seen you since your grandfather kidnapped you and took you away. Your parents will be so glad to see you.” He strode towards the half-ghost boy and hugged him.
   
      He hasn’t seen me since never and the first thing he does is greet my cousin.

 
          “M-my parents a-are alive? Grandfather said he killed them,”
 
          Jake’s father pursed his moist lips and blinked his heavy-lidded, moss green eyes. “That man has a lot to answer for. Why don’t you go and see them?” He turned to Adrian. “I am sure the humans are hungry and need to freshen up. Why don’t you take them to their tent and drop young Hassorev off at his parents’ quarters on your way? That will give me time to catch up with my son.” He turned to Jake. “I have put your group in one tent, I hope you don’t mind. I was going to split you up but decided against it. Humans are not really welcomed here, that is one of the things we do have in common with our ancestors.”
    
      Jake stared at the creature behind the desk. This brown hair covered wolf is my dad! This wolf wore a black blazer with the same picture on his cap. The different uniform must do with rank. The general walked around the table, he isn’t wearing shoes. He stared at the creature’s long, curved claws and gasped.
         
 Adrian saluted, bowed and ushered the group out. The general hugged Jake. He held him away at arm’s length with his hairy, smooth palm hands. “Look at you, how big you’ve gotten. Your mum will be proud.”
     
     Jake’s hands shook, Yeah, right. She was so proud she gave me away.
    
     The general bowed his head. “I’m sorry. All I meant was she will be glad you arrived safely and proud of your accomplishments.”
   
      How the hell does she know?
Jake frowned.
  
        “All your questions will be answered shortly, but to answer your first one. I thought you might be embarrassed if I hugged you in front of your friends.”
     
     Jake’s stared at the creature behind the desk, is he a mind reader, or what?
   
      The general smiled and leaned back in his chair.   
 
          “Em, Hassorev said she’d been, taken?”
 
          The general frowned. “Yes, by your grandfather. I’ve been waiting for you and Hassorev to arrive before we rescued her.”
 
          “What! Why didn’t you tell me sooner? We must leave at once. I will get my friends and…”
 
          The general shook his head.” No, it will be you, me, Hassorev and Callore. The humans will slow us down.”
 
          Jake raised one eyebrow. “But will they be safe?”
 
          The general nodded. “Adrian will look after them. No one will lay a hand on them if he’s with them.”
 
          “So, who is this Callore and when are we going?
 
          The general laughed. “Not until tomorrow. Eva will be all right until then. She is my right-hand and second in command. Callore is my left-hand and third in the rank. She is also my Assassin trainer.” The general grinned. “You two will be spending a lot of time together.”
 
          “Assassin?”
 
          “All in good time. First things first, I bet you would like me to fill you in on your history and why we left you all those years ago?”
 
          Jake’s throat dried up and he couldn’t speak. The general sauntered to a cupboard and pulled out a bottle with some red liquid in it. He poured himself a glass and saw the look on his son’s face.
 
          “This is blood, but I ordered you some coffee.”
 
          Someone knocked on the door and Adrian walked in followed by kitchen staff laden down with coffee, sandwiches and fruit. They laid it on the table and left. “Help yourself to whatever you want.” Adrian made to leave as well, but Jake’s dad called him back. “Are the humans settled?
 
          “Yes General, I saw to them myself. They are perfectly safe.”
 
          “And Hassorev, how did that go?”
 
          Adrian sniffed. “His mother fell on him and his dad, well, I’ve never seen him look so happy.”
 
          The general waved his hand and Adrian bowed before he left the room.
 
          Jake stared at all the goodies in astonishment. “How did they know, I mean you never called…”
 
          The general grinned and winked at him. “I sent a telepathic message to the kitchen staff.”
Jake’s jaw dropped. “A what?”

The general grinned and put his hands in the air. “That explanation is for another time.”
     
     Jake looked down at his hands. “So, what do I call you?”    
 
           “Well, I’d like you to call me Dad one day, but I realise it’s much too early for you to see me and your mum as parents.”
 
           Jake’s eyes turned cold. “I’ve got a dad. He bought me up and was there for me.”
 
           The General averted his gaze and put his hands in the air. “I know, Son and I’ll not come between that. Those people kept you safe and for that, your mum and I will be indebted to them forever. You can call me general.”
     
      Is it me, or did this creature look guilty when I said that? What is he not telling me?
Jake sighed. “So, why did you leave me with humans if you despise them so much?”
 
           “Well, it’s a long story. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, help yourself to some food, get comfortable and I will begin.   
 
 


Chapter 11
Chapter eleven (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER ELEVEN
“First of all, for you to understand the feud today, I need to go back a couple of centuries ago to where it all began. The vampires were friends and allies against the humans who made up stories and hunted us for sport. That was until the vampire king, your grandfather was captured. He sold the werewolves out for his life. The humans raided our camp and killed a lot of the pack. My father managed to escape with my mother and a handful of our kinfolk. He vowed to get even with your grandfather and declared war on the vampires. The humans didn’t keep their word and hunted and killed quite a few vampires as well, but that didn’t stop your grandfathers from a bitter and twisted war. The war raged for a couple of decades and there were casualties on both sides. Eventually, an uneasy truce was formed. A treaty was signed, and we once again lived in peace. The one speculation was that we never mixed with the vampires and kept off their land.” The general sipped his drink. He studied the boy’s face.

That’s a bit different to Hassorev’s story. Maybe he made a mistake, or his grandad told him the tale. Jake nodded his head and scratched his ear. “So, if there was peace, why are we at war now?”

The general shook his head, and his hand shook as he picked up his glass. A few drops of blood fell on the table. He swore, took a napkin off a tray and cleaned the mess. He curled his lip and ground his teeth together. “Maybe we should finish the story tomorrow. You must be tired after your long journey.”
Jake shook his head. “I’d rather hear it now if you don’t mind, sir. I’ve always thought I was different in, more ways than one, and at school, I had a hard time because of it. I think I’ve waited long enough for my questions to be answered.”

The general sighed, walked to the cabinet and poured himself another drink. He returned to his seat and put a hand on his son’s shoulder. “The next part of the story is a harrowing one. I ask one thing, don’t judge me or your mum too harshly, we always had your best interests at heart.”

Jake looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “When I found out I was adopted, I hated you guys. I even contemplated not coming, but my dad, my real dad talked me around. He said I will regret it if I don’t. I have the best dad ever because of you. But you gave me away and that hurts. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. You were my parents and the war were no excuse for sending me away. I can’t think any worse of you than I already do.”

The general swallowed hard and looked away. “I deserve that I suppose,” he said in a gruff voice. “A few years after the war ended your vampire grandfather met and married your grandmother. It bought two powerful families together. Your great grandfather died a year after this reunion and your grandfather became king of the nightcrawlers. Your grandmother got pregnant and later that year gave birth to three daughters, Eva, Khans and Semele. The girls grew up and fell in love. Unfortunately, two didn’t fall in love with vampires. Semele fell for her cousin and as far as I know, still lives with your grandparents. Khans fell for and married a lost soul, and they had one child, Hassorev. Eva left the fold, met me and we married shortly afterwards. Your grandfather was livid and banished his two daughters from the clan and land. When he heard about his grandchildren, he vowed to take them away from his daughters and raise them as vampires. About a year later, your mother was pregnant with you. We received a telepathic message from Khans. She said she needed our help, as their father had made good on his promise. He’d found out where they lived in England and broken in one night and stole little Hassorev. We tried to get him back but failed. We took you to America and scoured the land for a family to take you. We left you there and came back to England only to discover we weren’t the only mixed breed families. Quite a few vampires were married to werewolves, ghosts, zombies and humans.”  “ Both the vampires and werewolf clans decided to eradicate every ‘Pire living and declared war on our kind. We scouted around until we found land, we could call home, sent out a beacon to all our children and set up camp. You have a brother who is still out there, and your mother received a distress signal from him last week. I was on patrol so, she went to meet him, and your grandfather captured her. We don’t know if he’s got your brother as well, or if the message was a trap.”

Jake’s jaw dropped. I have a brother!

The general nodded as if he read Jake’s mind. “Yes, a twin. His name is Filtiarn junior. We call him FJ for short.”
Jake stood up. “So, when are we going to rescue them, Sir?”

The general opened his mouth to answer, but before he could, they heard a knock. The general turned his head towards the disturbance. “That will be Callore to escort you to your hut, enter,”

The door opened and a young girl with a rosy complexion, a scar on her otherwise flawless face, lush lips and a snub nose about Jake’s age stood in the doorway. She wore a red blazer and cap with the same embossed white wolf on the front as the soldier who met them at the cave and the general. “You wanted to see me general.”

Wow, she is gorgeous. Jake turned crimson and dropped his gaze, but well out of my league so, don’t even think about it.
          
  “Yes, Callore. This is Adoloifo, my son. Would you take him to his quarters, please?”

The girl bowed. “As you wish, Sir.”

The general turned to his son and shook his hand. “We leave first light, so I suggest you get some rest.”

Jake frowned. “Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed. I mean, fighting is something—"

The general shook his head. “As my son, the pack will expect you to help rescue your mother. Don’t worry, fighting comes naturally to us werepires.”

Jake walked through the door and the general made to shut it, but the boy stopped him. “I prefer if everyone called me Jake, sir.”

The general sighed and waved his hand in a circle. “As you wish, my boy. Make it known around campus, Left-hand.”

Callore bowed once more. “As you wish, sir.” She turned her back on the general and marched off in the direction of a group of smaller huts.

I wonder why he called her Left-hand.

Jake ran to catch up and walked beside her. He gave her a sideways look, and a hot rash appeared at the bottom of his neck and started to spread upwards. Her shoulder-length red hair bounced on the back of her neck as she walked towards his living quarters. Jake spotted a few soldiers’ look her way, but they didn’t approach or talk to her. They must be ignoring her because of me.

“I’m sorry,” he stammered.

Callore stopped in her tracks, gazed up at him, and crinkled her forehead. “Why are you apologizing?”

God, those bedroom emerald eyes.

Callore coughed.

“Well, your friends… they, you know… are not talking to you and … if it’s because I’m the general’s son and…” he trailed off as she stared at him. “Well,

I’m sorry.”

She looked him up and down for a minute, then gave a bitter laugh. “It’s got nothing to do with you. They always treat me like I’ve got aids or two heads.”

Well, I wouldn’t mind catching it if I was them.

Callore grinned. “And in answer to your question, The General calls me Left-hand because I am third in command. Your Mother is his Right-hand and would take over if he fell in battle and, if she fell, I’d take over from her. This privilege would have gone to his eldest daughter, but he doesn’t have one. I am the closest thing he has.” Her eyes misted over. “He is the closest thing to a father I have.” She shook her head and picked up her pace.

He caught up with her once more. “So, what am I? And, if you were my comrade, I’d never stop talking to you.” He blushed and hung his head.
The beautiful girl laughed. “You are his Assassin, young A eh Jake and, it’s because I’m a humpire. I’m half-human and half-vampire. There are not a lot of us around as we are known as the untouchable vermin.”

That explains the no facial hair. Assassin!  

Callore sighed. “Yes. As his son, you take the role as his personal killer. It would have been Filtiam Junior’s role, but he chose to stay with your grandfather. So, the privilege is yours, now.

“B-but I’m no killer.”

“You will be, once we train you. Well, once I train you.” She lowered her head and rubbed the back of her neck.

Jake beamed. If it means I’ll be spending time with my goddess I will kill the whole vampire army.

She looked up and frowned.

Oh, shit, she read my mind. “Anyway, why are the other soldiers treating you like the enemy? I thought you were third in command and we were the good guys?”
           
“You are, but humans are not to be trusted. My grandfather captured your vampire grandfather all those years ago and started the war and some ‘Pires and werewolves don’t like the idea of taking orders from a human and a vampire. I am both.”

“But that was a long time ago. You’re one of us now and my dad speaks very highly of you.”

“That’s because I saved your dad’s life,” Callore whispered. “My dad betrayed your dad and trapped him in a tower. He held a knife to your dad’s throat and would have cut his head off if I hadn’t shot him. My dad died in my mum’s arms and she went for your father’s throat. If she had her fangs into his neck, she would’ve ripped it apart, but I never gave her the chance. I shot her and cut off her head. Your dad brought me here, much to the disgust of the clan, but I was under your parents' protection, so what could they do?”

Jake stared at Callore with his mouth open wide. “So, they ignore you, but you saved their leaders' life.”

“They still don’t trust me and think I’m going to turn out like my parents and betray them.”

They approached a group of huts. They looked like tool sheds rather than the big oak log cabin the general resided in. The roof slanted and the sign on the door read DOGHOUSE.   

Callore stopped and Jake could hear some familiar voices. “Well we’re here, young Jake,” the humpire teased. “Get some rest, we leave at dawn.” She turned and walked away. Jake stood there until she disappeared around the bend. He sighed, pushed the door open and walked in.

Jake blinked as his eyes adjusted to the dim night light. The room seemed bare apart from four small cots in a row at the far end of the room. His companions left him the bed closest to the door. As he walked in Jason looked up. “ How was your talk?”

Jake climbed into bed and lay on his back. “It was fine.” He turned to Hassorev. “We leave first thing to rescue his wife.”

Hassorev raised his eyebrows. “Is it just us three?

Jake tried to sound casual. “No, this kid called Callore is going as well.”   

Hassorev sat bolt upright. “I’ve heard about it,” he spat. “Half human and half vampire, not to be trusted.”

Jake sighed. “She’s okay. I’ve met her.”

“Well cousin, you can trust untouchable vermin if you want to. As for me, I’m going to keep my weapon very close to me at all times.” Hassorev turned his back to Jake and fell asleep.

Jake tilted his head and glared at his cousin’s back. To think I thought I loved you.

Derek yawned, closed his eyes and fell asleep in minutes as well.

Jason sat up on his elbows. “So, when do we leave?”

Jake shook his head. “Not you, Jason, not this time. This mission is too dangerous for a mere human. Adrian will look after you and Derek.” God, did I just say that?

The darkness hid the look of pain, which appeared on Jason’s face at that remark. “Well hurry back and be careful. I don’t want to lose you.”

Jake glanced at his friend and saw the love in his eyes. He knew exactly what those words meant. He gave a nervous laugh, “You won’t.”

“Jake,” Jason whispered in the dark.

“Yes,” Jake answered as a cold shiver ran up his spine.

“If you ever feel different, tell me. Don’t let me overhear it or learn about it another way.”

Jake closed his eyes. I should tell him now. Tell him about Callore. Even if she’s out of my league. If I feel like this about her.

“I love you; you know.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jake mumbled. After the rescue, I will tell him I can only love him as a friend. That my heart is entwined with a hazel-eyed humpire who captured my soul the moment I met her. Tomorrow I will have more time to make him understand I could never love him the way he loves me.
 


Chapter 12
Chapter twelve (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWELVE
Jake yawned and turned his head towards the bed in the corner of the room where Jason slept. He looks so angelic, but do I feel the same way about him that he feels about me. I love him as a brother but ... He shrugged; swung his legs onto the floor and walked to the door. Jake glanced once more in Jason’s direction and sighed. Well, I haven’t got time to worry about that now, I’ve got help Callore save Eva. Callore, Jake hugged himself and a shiver crept up his back. He cleared his throat and glanced at Jason. How can I feel this way about someone I only met a few hours ago? I feel giddy and, every time I think of her. Am I falling in love? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Does she feel the same? When did Jason start having these feelings for me? Was it when he met me, or later? Maybe that’s why he saved me that day? I will have to tell him I don’t feel that way about him. Will this affect our friendship? But, if I love Callore, what about this woman thing? Will, that make me a lesbian? If I want to be a woman, shouldn’t I feel this way about Jason? Jake sighed and closed the door.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder. “I’ve been up for hours. We thought we’d have to leave without you,” Hassorev muttered through clenched teeth.

Jake turned at the sound of footsteps. “Are we ready?” Callore whispered.

Hassorev bottom lip curled as he looked straight past her. “Yes, General.” He saluted.

Jake scowled. I don’t trust you; cousin and you ever treat my intended wife like that again. Wife, did I say wife? Where did that come from? The general winked. Oh god, did he read my mind? Oh god, can she? He caught her eye, but she just gave him a normal smile and began to walk towards the border. 

The group passed rocks, tree stumps and some animal bones as they ran through the valley. The wind whipped at Jakes's face and whistled over the stones. They soon reached the ravine which acted as the border between lands. They crossed the river at the bottom and Jake froze the other side. The landscape changed. His feet crunched on the ice and snow which covered the plains, and, in the distance, Jake saw a mountain terrain ahead of them.

Where did the green grass go? He could see nothing but snow and ice.

Callore grinned. “Welcome to Snow Mountain.” She sniffed the air. “I think this is a perfect place to camp. It is far away from the vamp camp so they will not be able to detect our presence. We can finish the rest of the journey in the morning.”

Jake nodded. “Where are the others? I thought they were directly behind us.”

Callore shook her head and her fringe covered her left eye. She brushed it to one side and started to collect twigs. She piled them up and set it alight with a click of her fingers.

“Can I help?”

Callore nodded. “You can find more twigs for the fire if you like. I need to hunt for some food. The general will be hungry when he gets here.”

“Will they belong?”

“It depends on Hassorev. Being a ghopire, it will take him longer to run than the rest of us. I told the general not to bring him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Jake grinned. He wanted to know more about this peculiar girl before the others arrived. “So, what do you like?”

She cocked her head to one side. “What do you mean?”

Jake shuffled his feet. “Well, what music do you like? What do you do for fun? What do you want to do with your life?”

“Win the war.”

“After the war.”

Callore shrugged. “Haven’t thought. As for the rest of your questions, not relative.” Callore disappeared into the forest.

Jake groaned. Great going, bud. Now she thinks you are a nosy loser. He grinned to himself, so Callore had a worse opinion of Hassorev than he did of her, that’s interesting. He gathered twigs and started a fire. Jake heard a noise and swung round.

Callore stood in front of him, a male deer slung over her shoulder. “I’m glad to see your senses aren’t dulled by soft living.”

She laid the buck on the ground, took a long knife from her belt and started to carve the animal into portions.

Jake glanced around the wooded area. “It’s nice here. Well, apart from the ice and snow. Is it always this cold?”

Callore looked up and smiled. “No. It’s only like this in November. You should see it in Spring and Summer when the land is alive with small animals and the flowers bloom.” She bowed her head. “It wasn’t always vampire territory—” her eyes misted over—“it belonged to the wizards a long time ago.” She wiped a tear away with the back of her hand. “Before the vampire king—” she spat—“decided to invade and claim it as his own.” She shook her head.

“You can take some of the fat and start cooking it. The general should be here soon.” She got up, pulled out a frying pan from her backpack, and handed it to him.

Jake reached over and took it from her outstretched hand. Their fingers touched and Jake felt a bolt of electricity course through his body. Callore must have felt it as well because she pulled her hand back and backed away a little.

“Did you feel that?” Jake whispered.

Callore nodded and she stared at him, eyes open wide.

“Do you know what it means?”

The girl shook her head and stared at her hand. “It can’t be. I mean, you’re, The General’s son!”

An invisible hand gripped Jake’s heart and squeezed. “Can’t be, what?” 

“Well, it’s how the clan determine who belongs to whom. When you come of age, your parents put you in this big room with all your peers and you touch their hand until there’s a spark. When the spark happens, it means you have found your soul mate. But you know the children in the pack. You grow up together.”

Jake’s heart leapt. “But you don’t really belong to the pack. I mean, you’re like me:  an outsider”

Callore nodded. “Maybe that’s it. Maybe that spark was a fluke and it had something to do with the outsider thing. Did you notice what colour it was?”

Jake’s heart thumped against his chest. “No, you want to touch hands again?”

Callore frowned. “Okay. If it sparks orange, we are in the clear, but if it turns purple.”

Jake extended his arm in unison and a tremble crept down his spine. He smiled. “Here we go.”

Callore covered her eyes and grabbed at it. “Damn.” She jumped up and down. “Damn, DAMN, DAMN. It’s purple.” 

“D-does that mean…”

Callore nodded. “But it can’t be, you’re the general’s son and I’m a humpire! What will the clan say?”

Jake tried to frown but couldn’t manage it. “Well, em, they will have to get used to it. I mean, the colour is purple and all. I mean—” he shuffled his feet and stared at the back of his hand—” Fate and all that.”

Callore grinned. “I guess it could be worse. I might have bonded with Hassorev.”

Jake reached for her hand and she let him take it. A purple spark ignited and grew until it covered both hands. They heard the crunch of footsteps on the ice and pulled apart.  

The general coughed. “Hassorev will be here soon. I smell raw deer.”

Callore turned crimson and turned away. “You hungry, Sir. Let me get you something to eat. She pulled a big hunter’s knife out of her belt and cut into the deer’s leg. She severed it from the hip and handed it to him.

The general bit into the flesh and blood trickled down his chin.
I wonder how much he saw. Jake shuffled his feet and glanced at the general, God, that’s disgusting. A bit of meat stuck between the general’s canines and hung there. Jake wrinkled his nose. “Don’t you want that cooked?”

The big man stared at his son for a second, put his head back and roared with laughter. “I’m a werewolf, boy.”

Jake’s eyes opened wide and his mouth flew open. The general saw the look of horror on the boy’s face. “I don’t expect you to eat raw meat. Callore will cook it for you.” He nudged Jake in the ribs. “She will make a fine wife or husband one day. To the right ‘Pire of course.” He winked at Jake.

Jake rubbed his ribs and grinned. Dad saw and approves. Dad, he is my father. I feel like ... Did he say husband! It was probably a slip of the tongue; it must have been.

Jake opened his mouth to thank him and question the slip but didn’t get the chance as Hassorev burst out of the bushes.

The general walked up to the boy and slapped him on the back. “Glad you could make it. Now let’s eat.”

After dinner, Callore went to the nearby river and washed the plates. By the time she arrived back, the rescue party were ready for bed. Jake lay on his back and, for the first time in his life, felt complete. He glanced over at his soul mate and smiled. He heard his other companion’s gentle snores and climbed out of his sleeping bag, crept over to Callore and kissed her on the cheek. She stirred and opened her eyes.

“What are you doing here?” she hissed.

“Relax,” he lay down beside her and tickled her ear with his tongue. “Everybody’s asleep.”

Callore giggled. “You are naughty. What would the general say if he saw his son behaving like this?”

“He’d say, like father like son. Anyway, he knows.”

“You told him?”

“No, he guessed.”

What did he say!”

“Said you’d make a great wife.”

What else did he say? A great husband. Now, why did he say that? Does he know about me? Was it a slip of the tongue? Or does he know something I don’t?

Callore sighed. “The clan won’t like this. We can’t tell anyone until the general has talked to your mum and the clan, but especially your mum.”

Jake’s eyes crinkled. “Why is Eva so important to you?”

“When your dad bought me back to the clan, they wanted to kill me. Your mum stood in front of me and told them they’d have to go through her. She raised me as her own and looked after me. I owe her everything and I won’t have her upset.” Callore clenched her fist and hit the ground.

Hassorev grunted and Jake glanced at him, but the boy didn’t wake up. “Shh, if you don’t want anyone to know, quit making so much noise.”

Callore punched him on the arm. “Go on, get some sleep before you get us both in trouble.”

Jake rubbed his arm. “Not before you tell me you love me and give me a kiss.”

He sat on the ground and pouted. She giggled and blew him a kiss. “Now will you go back to bed,” she pleaded.

“You haven’t told me you love me yet.”

“I can’t! Not before we tell Eva.”

Jake stuck out his bottom lip. “Then I will stay here all night.”

Callore’s eyes widened. “Please, Jake. If anyone sees us...”

“Then say it.”

Callore sighed and shook her head “Okay, I love you. Now, will you go to bed.”        

He nodded. “I will be a good boy, but first…” he bent down and brushed his lips with hers. “Until tomorrow, my love.” He bowed and walked away.
Jake climbed into his sleeping bag once more and waved to Callore, He lay on his back, shut his eyes and drifted off into a restful sleep.
 
 


Chapter 13
Chapter thirteen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Jake groaned and opened his eyes. He turned his head and looked to his right.

“Come on, Jaky boy.” Hassorev kicked the soul of his foot. “We’re leaving in a few minutes.”

Jake crawled out of bed and joined the group. Callore ran ahead, as usual, and Jake trotted along beside her. Their feet picked up speed, as they ascended the mountain, with every step they took. The scenery disappeared the faster they ran. Jake couldn’t help but glance at Callore every so often, but she ignored him. Did he force her to say she loved him? Maybe she only said it to shut him up? Maybe she didn’t really mean it? Maybe ... Callore caught his eye, smiled and winked.

Jake heard noises in the distance and stopped. Callore held her hand up and gestured for him to stay still. He froze and she disappeared.

When she returned, the general and Hassorev were there as well.

“Is it the vampire’s camp?” the general barked.

“Yes, sir. I saw where they are keeping Eva. Your father-in-law was there as well. She’s in a bad way, sir. We need to be careful as we don’t know what they have planned.”

The general glanced at the sky. “It will soon be morning. Can we wait until tonight?”

“No, sir. I heard one of the guards say they were moving her to her father’s castle tonight. Besides, they will be full-on when the sun sets, and we will have no chance against an army of vamps with full power.”

The general sighed and took off his rucksack. He opened it and pulled out a black suit with a mask.

“What’s that?” the rest of the group said in unison.

“This,” the general laid on the grass, “is a coffin suit. It will prevent most of the harmful sun rays from penetrating her skin, keep her protected until we can get her safe and out of the sunlight. Once in the forest, the trees will protect her until we can get back to our campsite, rest and make the remainder of the journey back to ‘Pire Valley by moonlight. The mask will stop any green goo gases from escaping.”

Green goo?

Callore pointed. “There’s two guards, General but we’re in luck; they’re trainees so their ability to hear us will be limited. One is patrolling and the other is by the door. If I take the one by the door out, you can take the one doing the rounds. Your father-in-law has gone to rest before he comes back with the rest of the clan tonight. By the time they notice we’ve gone, we should have a decent head start.”

Jake and Hassorev waited in the trees while the other two carried out their tasks. Why did they bring me if I wasn’t going to be part of the raid? Jake saw his father creep up behind the guard and pounce on him. The general beckoned them to follow him. Jake spotted blood on his chin and stared at his dad in a trance. The general smiled. “Sorry,” he wiped the blood away, “I haven’t eaten since last night. And you two are here for experience only. Neither of you is trained in werepire warfare but the clan expected you, as my assassin in training and my son to be part of the rescue party. If I had left, you at home ... Well, you will have a hard time gaining their respect, not to take you along would have made it a lot harder.”

“What about me,” Hassorev whispered.

The general shrugged. “I thought you might like it. After all, your grandfather brought you up.”

Jake and Hassorev stepped over the creature on the floor as they followed the general. The two boys tried not to look at the monster’s face and lack of throat as they passed.

Jake frowned. “I would have thought security would be better.”

The general glanced over his shoulder. “Why? They weren’t expecting a raid until tonight. They expected me to plan the rescue and use experienced soldiers, not inexperienced schoolboys. They also probably expected me to use vamps as they are more vicious. The one thing about your grandfather, he thinks everyone thinks like him and that will be his downfall.”

Callore waited by the door. The other vampire seemed to have disappeared. Jake envisioned Callore with a knife and fork as she knarred on the creature’s leg. He shook his head, but the image wouldn’t go away.

“She’s in here,” Callore hissed.

Callore pushed the door and it swung open. A vine made of garlic balls hit her in the face. She laughed and brushed them away.

Jake frowned. “Doesn’t garlic hurt us?”

Callore grinned. “Not humpires.”

She stepped into the room and one of the floorboards slid open to reveal wooden stakes buried in a sandpit below. “You’re right, Sir. They must have thought you’d get vampires.”

Inside the room, a woman with black hair sat tied to a chair, a cross tied around her neck.

The general ran up to her, gripped the cross and pulled. The string broke and he threw it away. He pressed a green button at the side of his black cap and a full-face mask slid over his mouth and nose. He pulled on some gloves, tilted her face up and kissed her lips. “Eva, what has that monster done to you?” the general cried as he touched the bruises on her face and the scorched skin around her neck.

Eva smiled through swollen lips and glanced around the room. Her jewel-like, leaf green eyes rested on Jake.

“We need to go general and now! “Callore called from the door.

The general bit through the ropes and helped his wife into the protective suit. He lifted Eva onto his shoulders and followed the rest of the group back to the forest. Once the trees hid them, they started to run. Trees became a blur as they picked up speed. Jake stumbled a few times but each time Callore appeared to steady him. The quartet didn’t stop until they were at the campsite. The general came to a stop first. “You think it’s safe to camp here, again?”

Callore nodded. “Eva can’t travel anymore.” She glanced at the sky. “The sun’s bright and she needs to rest. Even with the suit, she is suffering. Besides, we’ll move better and faster once she can run herself. Also, we are near home. If they do find us it will be easy to call for backup.”

The general laid his wife on the floor and disappeared for a moment. He came back with an armful of branches and built a shelter on top of her. Callore left the group to hunt for food and returned with a few rabbits and a fox. She skinned them, cooked a rabbit, and handed the raw ones to the general.

“Eva needs to eat.”

Hassorev stared at the girl for a moment. He turned to the general, “Why is the untouchable vermin giving you orders?”

The general glared at the boy. His blood vessel pumped in his neck and he shook with anger. “You ever call her that again and we’ll be roasting you over the spit,” he growled.

Hassorev body shook. “I-I’m sorry Uncle.”

Callore touched the general’s shoulder. “He didn’t mean it, Filtiam. I’m not offended.” She handed him a plate of raw meat. “Now take this to Eva, she needs to be fit for the journey tonight.”

The general gave Callore a peck on the cheek. “You are a good girl Callore and will make an excellent addition to the family.”

Hassorev slunk off to the river and Jake followed. Jake found his cousin by the riverbank. The reeds swayed in the wind and dragonflies flew around the wet mud on the bank. Hassorev picked up a stone and threw it into the water. The stone made a ripple effect. “You, all right?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know why uncle got mad. It’s not like she’s one of us, although I’m sure if you had your way, she soon would be.”

Jake to a step back, surprised at the venom behind his words. “What do you mean?”

“I saw you and her last night. You thought I was asleep, but I saw you.”

Jake shrugged. “So, it’s got nothing to do with you or anyone else who I have relations with.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. As heir to the clan, you must marry someone the whole clan approves of,” Hassorev sneered.

“Tough, I love Callore and she’s my mate. We had the spark and that meant we’re made for each other.”

Hassorev took a step back and his face turned red. “You and her sparked. The clan isn’t going to like this.”

“What have you and everyone got against her?”

“Well, she’s human, for one. Humans can’t be trusted.”

“She’s half-human,” Jake, corrected him. “And the clan aren’t going to hear about it until the general tells them, alright.”

“My father was right about you. He said living with humans would soften you and you’re not fit to be in the clan let alone lead us,” Hassorev spat.

Jake put his hands around Hassorev’s throat and lifted him off the ground. His cousin’s eyes bulged, and he whimpered.  “If any rumours are flying around about Callore and me, I’ll know where they’ve come from and I’ll…”

“Food is ready, come and get it, boys,” a voice called from the campsite.

Jake dropped Hassorev on the ground, turned and ran back to the group.

Hassorev glared after him. He rubbed his throat and got up. “This isn’t over Jake. I will get you back for this.” He followed at a slower pace and joined the others as they were about to eat.
 
 


Chapter 14
Chapter fourteen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
The creature is behind him. He can feel its hot breath on his neck and smell the decay. He tries to run faster but his legs feel like concrete. Hassorev’s face appears before him. “See, that’s what you get for falling in love with a half-human,” his cousin whispers in his ear.

“Jake, wake up.”

He opened one eye, saw Callore and smiled.

“You were yelling in your sleep. You alright?”

“I think I was having a nightmare about zombies.”

Callore patted his arm. “Come on breakfast is ready.”

“Breakfast, but its night.”

Callore rolled her eyes. “A perfect time for breakfast if you’re a vampire, werewolf, or ‘Pire.”

“Okay, okay, my bad.”

Callore wagged her finger, turned and walked away.    

Jake stretched and gazed up at the sky. Apart from a few stars and the moon, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen anywhere. He sniffed the air and smelt the sweet dew of the flowers. Jason always wanted to go camping. Jake crawled out of his sleeping bag, rolled it up, stuffed it into his rucksack and strolled over to join his companions.

“You want some,” Hassorev growled as he spat raw meat at Jake.

Jake shook his head and screwed up his face. The stench of the carcass burned his nostrils and he swallowed some bile. He averted his eyes at the sight of Hassorev’s mouth covered in blood and bits of matter.

His cousin shrugged. “Your loss.”

The general glanced at his watch. “We better bury the bones and get ready to run if we want to reach home by dawn.”

“Right, Hassorev, you and Jake bury the bones and hide our tracks. The general and I will get Eva ready for travel,” Callore barked.

“I don’t take orders from an unt…” Hassorev snarl.

The general glared at the boy, and Hassorev turned and walked away. Jake followed him at a distance, I don’t like or trust you, cousin.

Hassorev stopped a little further upstream. “This will do,” he growled.

Jake sighed, got on his knees and started to dig. The soil felt warm and gritty in his hands and smelt of fresh peat. He smiled; Jason loved the garden. He used to say he felt closer to his mum. A lump formed in his throat and he tried to swallow it. How am I going to tell him I don’t feel the same? I love him but am not in love with him. I hope he doesn’t regret his decision to come here. What if he wants to go home? How will I survive without him?

Hassorev glanced at him. “What’s up with you? Pining for the untouchable, are we?”

Jake scowled. “No, I was thinking of Jason.”

Hassorev narrowed his eyes. “Another human. What is it with you and humans? I don’t really blame you. I mean, you were bought up with them and that must have been awful, but, even so.”

Jake stood and faced his cousin. His fist clenched and unclenched several times. “You can talk about me, you can say stuff about Jason and even

Callore, but you ever cuss my parents, it will be the last thing you ever do.”

“Jake, Hassorev, have you finished. We’re leaving.”

Jake patted the earth on last time, turned, and walked back to the campsite. The smell of rotten flesh faded with each step he took.

The general looked up as he approached. “Where’s Hassorev?”

“Coming,” Jake growled.

The general frowned and opened his mouth but thought better of it.

“Where’s Eva?”

The general nodded in the direction of the trees. “She had to take a tinkle.” 

Eva walked out of the trees and they rustled in the breeze. She swayed and the general ran up to her. “Are you all right, my dear?” He held her smooth hand and bent down to kiss her lush lips with the mask in place.

She gave him a weak smile and nodded. “When are we leaving?”

The general spotted Hassorev and nodded in their direction. “Is everything done as requested?” he growled.

The boy nodded but kept his gaze glued to the ground. Eva caught Jake’s eye and a question popped in his head, what has Hassorev done to provoke such displeasure in his uncle? Jake smiled; he knew his mother used telecommunications to get into his mind. When he didn’t respond, she shrugged.

“Yes sir,” Jake saluted. “Everything is buried, and we are ready to go.”

The general held out his arm. “You hold onto me, my love. I will help you until you get some strength back.”

His wife gazed in Jake’s direction.

“Oh, I think Callore will help Jake,” her husband chuckled.

Eva gazed at her son and the girl who she thought of as a daughter and smiled. “Young love, but I don’t know what the pack will say.”

The general shrugged. “What’s the point of fighting so our race can live free if we follow the same rules as the creatures we’re fighting against?”

Eva nodded. “They will get used to it.”

They know, and they don’t mind.

Callore smiled and reached out for Jake’s hand.  

The team sped away. Their feet ran faster and faster until everything around them disappeared.

Jake crossed the little river and climbed up the bank first. The change in temperature made him sneeze.  Callore skidded to a halt beside him. “We will wait for the others. They aren’t that far behind us.” The girl flopped onto the grass and patted the ground beside her. “Come and sit beside me.”

Jake plopped down beside her. “So, what music do you like?”

Callore frowned. “Why do you keep asking me that?”

Jake shrugged. “It’s what you do when you go out with a girl.”

Callore shook her head from side to side. “Do you? We just go into a room and mingle.”

“We do that as well. Well not with lots of people, unless you are speed dating.”

“Then the spark happens.”

“Yes, that happens to us as well. We call it love.”

“And then we are sparked and that’s that. We are tied, and we make mad sex and, if we don’t kill each other in the process, we have babies and live together for eternity.” She took a deep breath.

“Killed?”

Callore turned crimson. “Well, we are a bit savage with our biting and clawing. Sometimes we, eh, bite the jugular vein by mistake.”

What a way to go.

Jake lay on his back and grinned at his mate. “When we get back, I will tell everyone you’re mine.”

Callore’s face fell. “We promised we’d let the general and Eva break the news.”

Jake sat up and clenched his fist. “That might not be possible.”

“I know it’s hard waiting, but—" Callore caught Jake’s eye and he gave her a sheepish grin. “Jake. What have you done!”

Jake studied his hands and turned them over a few times. Callore caught his fingers and forced him to look at her. “Jake?”

“Well, Hassorev knows. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t tell him. He caught us kissing and I think he’s going to make trouble and I need to tell Jason before he hears it from someone else.”

“Well, his father has wanted to be leader of the pack for a long time. This could be just what he needs to split the clan, and Jason should hear it from you.”

“I thought the people loved Eva and our fearless leader?”

“Most do, but some think your dad’s soft. They want to attack the humans, vampires and werewolves. They want to bring the war to its brink, and they don’t care who they kill.”

“Doesn’t the general want the same thing?”

Callore shook her head. “No. the general wants peace. He wants all creatures to live as one. He even wants us to get along with humans.” She wrinkled her nose. “He has brought some land, cloaked it and has started to build his first town. He is calling it Tranquillity. He wants humans and creatures to live side by side without animosity. Eventually, he wants towns like this all over the world. He has started negotiations in America and Australia already.”

A gleam appeared in Jake’s left eye and he raised his chin. “That’s a great legacy to leave. I’m glad I am a part of it.”

Callore hugged him. “I’m glad too.”

Jake’s coughed. “Oh look, the others have caught up.”
  
           The general scooped his wife up into his arms and gazed down at her. “Let’s go home my love,” he cooed.
   
         The huts stood in a row and laughter wafted towards the group. The wooden huts looked like a Christmas village, all lit up and music could be heard all over the camp. Everyone came out of his or her barracks to welcome the rescue team home. The sun peeked over the horizon, and the general carried Eva through the crowd and to the sleeping quarters they shared. “We will feast tonight, but for now your Number Two needs her rest.” He closed the wooden door behind him.

Jake pulled Callore to one side. “I need to find Jason and tell him about us.”

“Go, I need some sleep anyway.”

Jake kissed Callore and set off in search of Jason. He searched for the boy all day, but Jason couldn’t be found.

The sun began to set, and the camp began to rise. He spotted a few soldiers on the far side of the camp and walked over to them. They stood to attention and he waved his hand. “Have you seen the humans I arrived at camp with?

They shook their heads. “No, sir. Are you coming to the feast?”

“Yes, I’ll be there in a little while. I need to go and change first.”

The soldiers grinned and walked away. Jake scratched his head, where is that boy? He decided to look for Jason after the feast. He’s probably at the feast now, stuffing his face with food, knowing Jason. Jake turned, shook his head and made his way towards the hut he shared with the boys. I need to change. I must smell like a football team after a heavy match.

He pushed open the door, walked in and started to undress. He sensed another presence in the room and felt the soft touch of a woman as she stroked his back. He swung around and came face to face with Callore. “I couldn’t wait. Did you find the Jason?”

Jake groaned and cut her top in half with his sharp fingernails. He cupped his hand over her breasts and caressed them. She nuzzled her head into his chest hairs and stood on tiptoes to nibble his ears. Jake moaned, picked her up and threw her on the bed.

“What the hell?” The couple turned towards the voice and saw Jason in the doorway. 

“Jason, I can explain.” Jake scrambled off the bed and pulled on his t-shirt. “It’s not how it looks.”

Jason gave his friend a cold stare. “I can see that. I’m not a fool Jake. When Hassorev told me, I didn’t believe it. Not after we talked about it and you promised to tell me. I told him you wouldn’t do that. If you found somebody you would tell me. When he said, the affair started before the rescue mission, on the night you went away in fact. I called him a liar. I told him; you would have said something to me when I told you how much I cared for you. When I told you, I loved you and you said you loved me too.” Jason turned, bent double and ran from the room.

Jake stood there for a moment. “Callore—” he turned towards her— “I need to go.”

“Go. No guessing what he’ll do in this state.”

Jake darted into the night, but he couldn’t see Jason anywhere. He hunted for him all over the campsite and even scoured the cave where they met

Adrian when they first arrived, but the boy seemed to have vanished. He searched everywhere, but to no avail. Eventually, he gave up and came back to camp. His tired body ached. He spotted Hassorev and his whole body shook with rage. It was his fault, the whole sorry affair. If he’d kept his mouth shut.

He marched over to the ghopire.

Hassorev smiled as Jake approached. “Hi cousin, you’re up early.”

Jake growled and flew at Hassorev. He grabbed the boy by the scruff of his neck and squeezed hard.

“What’s up cousin?” the boy asked with an expression of mock innocence on his face.

“Jason, you told him.” Jake couldn’t go on. The rage inside grew and he shook his cousin like a dirty rag.

Hassorev smirked. “Well you could waste your time here with me or you could try and get to Jason before it’s too late.”

Jake dropped the ghopire and starred at him. “Too late?”

“Your friend was very upset and decided to go home. He crossed over about an hour ago. The one thing grandfather hates more than ‘Pires are humans.

Especially humans on his land." Hassorev cackled. “I think you got a few hours till the vamps go hunting.”

Jake took a step back. “He wouldn’t do that. He knows how dangerous it is and he wouldn’t do that.”

Hassorev shrugged. “Said something about friends and how you can’t trust anybody.” He waved his hands in the air.  

Jake turned and ran towards the ravine. He crossed the border and headed into enemy country once more.  I hope I’m not too late. Please, god, let me reach him in time.   
 


Chapter 15
Chapter fifteen

By dmt1967

CHAPTER FIFTHTEEN
Jake crossed over into vampire territory in the early hours of the morning. The snow, now a mushy puddle under his feet, hid a hard ground covered in Pine needles. He stopped and gazed around. How can climate change like this? The whole place was covered in snow a day ago, but now, the only snow left is on the mountains.  Boulders dotted the landscape and Jake spotted the river he and his party camped next to yesterday. This is as good a place, as any, to rest awhile. He sat under the tall oak tree in the forest, at the foot of the mountain terrain with his head in his hands and contemplated what to do next. What am I going to eat? I haven’t the skills to hunt or survive on my own.  When I catch up with Jason, what am I going to say? If I meet any vampires, how am I going to fight if they attack me?
   
         Jake heard a noise behind him and turned his head. He saw a blur out of the corner of his eye and jumped up, what was that? He tensed and his whole body trembled, was its Jason or someone more sinister?

Something pounced on his back and he yelped. He froze as a cold, hard, sharp knife blade touched his Adam's apple. “If I were the enemy, you’d be dead by now,” a familiar voice whispered in his ear.

Callore jumped off his back and landed beside him.

Jake scowled. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Callore threw herself on the grass and lay on her back. “ The general heard how Hassorev tricked Jason into leaving the camp. He’s called a meeting and aims to put him on trial. He sent me to keep you safe. He would have come himself, but Eva is still weak, and he wanted to stay by her side. Hassorev is a mean-minded indie and needs to be stopped. He hates humans, werewolves, ghosts ... everyone; really. No one trusts him, least of all the general.”

Jake raised a thick eyebrow. “Indie?”

Callore grinned. “Yeah. I think you call them Bigots. You know, people who even hate their kind.”

Jake rubbed his neck. “Why is he part of the pack if no one can trust him?”

Callore shrugged. “He’s family, I guess.”

“And, couldn’t you have warned me or something? I nearly became a ghost myself, the fright you gave me,” Jake grumbled.

Callore giggled. “Now where’s the fun in that. I’m hungry, what’s for breakfast?”

Jake looked at the floor and shuffled his feet. “I don’t know. I was in such a hurry; I didn’t think to bring any and I haven’t got any weapon to kill anything with.”  

Callore shook her head. “You’re a ‘Pire, my sweet.” She pointed to her enlarged canines and giggled. “Which means you don’t need tools only teeth.”

Jake rubbed his chin and Callore smiled. “You don’t know, how do you?”

“Well until a month ago I didn’t even know I was half-vampire,” he growled.

“You should be a good hunter with your werewolf and vampire instincts. Better than most, I reckon.” Callore jumped up and caught hold of Jake’s hand.

She pulled him into the forest. “Come on I’ll teach you.”

They strolled through the trees until Callore stopped and put her fingers to her mouth. She sniffed the air and pointed to the north. “Smell that?” she whispered.

Jake shook his head.

“Deer. You go around it and head it in my direction.”

“How do I do that?”

“Wave your arms about, but you probably won’t need to. I reckon it will sense and smell your presence.”

Jake rolled his eyes but followed her lead. He circled the deer and moved towards it. The animal munched on the grass, it looked up and tweaked its ear.

The deer stood motionless, wrinkled its nose and bolted in the general direction of Callore.
It twisted this way and that through the trees until it headed in the direct path of the girl. Callore stood still until she could see the whites of its eyes. Jake closed his and waited for the almighty thud as their bodies crashed into each other. When he didn’t hear anything, he opened one eye to see why. Jake’s jaw dropped and he stared at his beloved, eyes wide open. Callore must have jumped on the deer’s back as her legs were either side of the animal. The creature tried to throw her off, but each time failed. Callore snarled and bared her teeth, as she got ready to strike. She reared her head like a snake and glanced up at the sky before she bit into the animals' flesh. Callore let go of the scared animal and jumped off its back. The deer looked surprised but relieved as it fled to the safety of the trees and reviled at their lucky escape.

Jake ran up to Callore. “What’s up?”

Callore pointed upwards and Jake saw a flock of birds. “What are they?”

“Vultures and they’re flying in a circle which can only mean one thing- there’s a dead body somewhere near.”

“I-It m-might be an a-animal,” A cold hand gripped Jake’s heart.

Callore started to run in the general direction of the birds. “It might be, but we better go and investigate.”
Jake followed her. Please God, let it be a defenceless animal and not a dead human. Please god, don’t let it be Jason.   
                                                 ***
 
Callore stopped as she got closer to the Vultures and studied the area around them. Jake caught up with her. “What’s that?” he pointed at what looked like a clump of leaves on the ground. They’re clothes! The pair walked up to it and Callore kicked the mound. A snake crawled out and some bugs scurried away. A closer inspection, they looked old and dirty. The girl sniffed and wrinkled her nose. Jake gulped air and gagged on the taste of rotten flesh in his nostrils. He turned away while Callore examined the body.

“Well, is it human? Is it a man or a woman? Is it Jason?”

Callore scratched her head. “I don’t know. It smells like a man, but I think it’s wearing frilly knickers.”

Something clicked in Jake’s brain, a secret he’d been told. What was it? He steeled himself to look at the body and saw something sparkle in the sunlight. He bent down and picked it up. His heart sank as he realised, he held Jason’s lucky cent.  Jake turned away as hot, wet tears fell down his cheek. He remembered the secret; Jason was a transvestite.

Jake felt Callore’s hand on his arm and turned to face her. He pulled her close and held her tight for a moment, before he pushed her away, wiped his face with the back of his hand and walked back to the body.

Jake blinked back the tears. “Can’t you revive him like they do on the movies?”

Callore shook her head. “Not in pieces like this. And even if he was a whole body, he’s cold. To retrieve him he needs blood and...”

Jake gave a strangled sob and bent his head. He stared at his friend and his body sagged. Callore caught him before he collapsed. I will find out who’s done this my friend and make them sorry. He marched towards the trees.

Callore ran after him. “Where are you going?”

“To get justice. I don’t expect you to come. I know the general will want you back.”

Callore stepped in front of him and put her hand out. “Stop! Firstly, what are you going to do when you catch up with him and you need to bury him.” She waved a hand in Jason’s direction.

Jake faced her and clenched his fist. “This is all Hassorev’s fault. When I get my hands on him.” He fell to his knees and bowed his head.

Callore knelt beside him, put her arm around his shoulder and pulled him towards her. He nestled his head into the crook of her armpit.

“I-I n-need t-to—” he covered his face with his hands. “It’s all my fault, you know. He came to protect me like always. If I hadn’t gone to say goodbye—” he laid his head on her shoulder. “If I had just said no,” he sobbed. “None of this would have happened.”

“Yes, I know, and you can’t blame yourself. Jason was a big boy. He knew the danger, but he loved you.” She stroked his hair with her free hand. “We will bury him and then we will revenge him.” She clenched her teeth. “This I promise you.”

Jake sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “I didn’t bring a shovel.”

Callore smiled despite the situation. “You are still thinking like a human. You are a werepire, you don’t need tools.”

Jake shook his head. “I don’t know how.”

Callore took his big, hairy hands in her smooth, small ones and held them up. “Like a dog, baby. You dig with these.”

Jake nodded, pushed himself to his feet, walked to a nearby tree and fell on all fours. He began to dig. Mud and dirt flew in every direction.

“I think that’s deep enough, darling.”

Jake stopped and stared through Callore. “What? Sorry, I forgot you were there.”

She nodded and reached for the remains.

“No, I’ll do it.”

Jake walked over and picked up his high school friend and soul brother. “Goodbye buddy and I am so sorry.” He placed Jason in the grave and swayed.

“Steady, Jake.” Callore put her hand out and caught him before he fell into the hole after Jason.

He nodded, filled in the burial place, patted the earth flat and turned. Something struck a chord. “You said. Do you know who did this?”

“What?”

“A while ago, when we found the body. You asked me what I will do when I catch him. Do you know who did this?

Callore sighed. “Well, I know what clan and I can guess who by the way it was done.”

“Who?”

“You’re not going to like it.”

“Just tell me!

“The clan is called Bloodiest and I’m afraid the leader is your grandfather.”

“Did he…”

“No, this was a young vampire. Someone who wanted to make a name for himself. My guess is your cousin, Gregorio.”

Jake nodded and headed into the forest once more. Callore ran after him and put her hand on his shoulder. He spun around. “What!”

“If you let me finish. Secondly, Gregorio doesn’t travel alone and thirdly, even if he was on his own, you don’t know how to fight a vampire. You also don’t know where to look”

Jake opened his mouth to argue but shut it again and his shoulders drooped. “Okay, so what do I do? I can’t let him get away with this,” he gulped as he gazed at her, his eyes open wide.

Callore nodded and patted his arm. “I will teach you. The general wanted me to train you anyhow.”

“I need to track Jason’s killer now while his trail is fresh.”

“All I need to teach you is how to get close enough to kill him. Everything else should come naturally and if it doesn’t, I will be there to make sure justice is served.”

“I can’t let you—."

Callore held up her hand. “The general gave me orders to help you carry out the execution and that’s what I intend to do.”

Jake smiled. “Okay boss, when do we start?”

“How about now.” Callore pounced and drew her knife from her belt. She held it to his throat. “You are supposed to stop me.”

“I wasn’t ready,” he scowled. “Besides, I thought you said we don’t need knife’s as we have teeth.”

“We can only use our teeth in close combat. Your cousin is a warrior which means I will have difficulty getting the drop on him and as for you.” She shook her head.

“I don’t have a knife,” Jake wailed. “How am I supposed to kill him?”

“Yes, you do,” Callore smiled. She slid her hand into her deep trench coat pockets and pulled out a long-handled diamond incrusted dagger with a wooden pointed-tip blade, and a white wolf surrounded by a shield with a small blade in his hands. “Your father wanted me to give you this. It has been in your family for years. The white wolf is your ancestor and that insignia is your coat of arms.” She handed the handle to Jake and knelt before him. “I present thee with thy arms, sire. The rest of your weapons are back home, but this should be all you need. Your cousin is a full-blooded vampire, and this is the weapon that kills vampires.” She sniffed. “Eva gave me a similar knife when she adopted me into the clan.”

Jake pushed her, and she fell onto the soft grass. “Get away with you. As we know each other you can call me your majesty.”

“Well, your majesty, are you ready, now?”

She circled him as he tossed the knife from one hand to the next and stood his ground. Suddenly she ran at him, put her hands on his thighs and slid between his legs. She jumped on his back with her knife out. He tried to throw her off, but she held on tight.    

Jake fell to the ground in exhaustion. “Okay, I concede.”

Callore leapt off and sat on the ground beside him. “Maybe we should rest and continue training tonight.”

Jake shook his head. “No, I need to know this stuff now. We have to track him down tonight or it will be too late.”

Callore scrambled up and sighed. “Well, we better get started then. I have a funny feeling it will take all day”
 
 


Chapter 16
Chapter sixteen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
The sunset and the moon rose high in the sky. Callore nodded with approval. “You are a quick learner, my sweet. At least now, when we track him down, I will be confident in your fighting abilities.”

She disappeared between two trees and Jake followed. He emerged on a bank of a river and spotted Callore soak a piece of cloth into the water and dab her wounds. Jake glanced down at his reflection and took a step back. if I didn’t know that was me, I’d wouldn’t have recognised myself. One eye looked half-closed and coloured purple, and his hands were cut to ribbons. He washed most of the blood off and turned to Callore. “Okay, let’s go.”

She smiled, took a cloth and dabbed his lip. “You sure you don’t want to rest first? Being a werepire you can heal yourself, but I am not sure how. That is something The Trainer needs to train you in.”

He jerked his head to one side. “No, I want to find the bloodsucker who killed my friend and make sure he takes his last breath.” Jake caught Callore’s eye and smiled. “I’m alright, really.” Jake frowned. “Who’s the Trainer?” 

Callore raised her eyebrows but remained silent. She looked at her watch and started to jog.

Jake sprinted and caught her up. “You know where he is?”

“Well, I think I do. If he’s like most young vampires, he will want to brag about his kill and there’s only one place he’ll be able to do that at this time of night in safety; Red’s Tavern.”

“Red’s Tavern, what’s that?”

“Red is an old vampire who decided to open a bar, so young vampires had a safe place to go.”

“Isn’t he worried a human might walk in one night?”

“The only way humans can see Red’s place is if they are looking for it. Like the mountains, orchards and valley it is invisible to the naked eye.”   

The pair ran side by side for a while in silence. They reached a small mountain and started the twenty degrees ascend. The tall grass swayed in the wind and a startled deer fled through the cluster of trees. Brambles crunched underfoot and berry bushes rustled. Callore reached the top first, stopped and pointed. “There it is.”

She started to descend the other side. Jake peered into the distance and saw a shack with a broken sign hung on a post. As he got closer, he noticed the sign read, RED’S TAVERN. Wooden blocks and hay bales were placed around the edge of the shed and the smell of stale blood and human remains lingered in the air. A human head with an orange in its mouth sat behind the bar on a shelf and groups of vampires sipped blood out of wine glasses around the room.

Callore pushed the door open and walked in with Jake close behind. A man with wrinkled skin and crooked teeth opened the flap of the bar and walked through it. “Can I help you?”

“Jake sensed the tension in the room, and he put his hand on his knife.

Callore tensed her body ready to strike but smiled at the bat tender. “Hello, Red, remember me. I don’t blame you if you don’t.”

The creature peered at her. “Why its little Callore. Haven’t seen you since… I can’t remember when. What are you doing in these parts?”

The monsters in the room eyed the girl with contempt but stayed in their seats.

Callore’s eyes searched the room for her prey. “We came for Gregorio. So, hand him over and we will leave.”

A young man stood up and approached the trio. “I am Gregorio. What does an untouchable want with me?” he spat.

“Hello, cousin. It’s me that wants you, not her,” Jake whispered.

Gregorio swung around and snarled. “Who the hell are you?”

“Don’t you recognise me. I’m Jake.”

“Look, friend, I don’t know you and…”

“Well, that’s my human name, but you will probably be more familiar with the name my father calls me.”

Gregorio clicked his tongue. “Well, come on, I haven’t got all night.”

“Adoloifo.”

Gregorio gave an evil smile. “Well, hello cousin. It’s been a long time. Hassorev did warn me you were looking for me. I must admit, I am a little surprised you came after me with an untouchable though.”

Jake growled. “You want me to kill you here or outside.”

Gregorio shrugged. “Outside, I think. More room to attack.”

He walked to the door and held it open. Jake walked through, but as he got level with his cousin, the boy pulled out his knife and lunged at him. Jake managed to avoid the knife and rolled out of the door. He jumped to his feet. Gregorio lunged at him and Jake felt a sharp pain above his left cheekbone.

A drop of blood fell on the mud and Jake ducked as his cousin swiped at his face again. The boys circled one another, and Gregorio took a step forward and grinned. He’s taunting me. He thinks I’m not quick enough. Gregorio held his arms open and turned his head towards his fellow vampires in the doorway of The Tavern. Jake saw his cousins neck exposed and stepped forward. He drove his knife into the flesh below Adam’s apple and Gregorio fell to his knees and toppled over. His cousin’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. Gregorio grabbed the knife and tried to pull it out. He twisted and turned, his body jerked once and became still.

Jake sank to his knees. He shivered and a bead of sweat formed on his brow.        

Callore strolled up to Jake and looked down at the still body of the young vampire. “Jake, mask.” She scolded. “It’s a good job he was drunk, otherwise you’d have no hope.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

She turned her palms upwards and shrugged her shoulders. “It is what it is. You need to cut his head off.”

Jake bit his lip. “Why?”

“Because if you don’t, your grandfather will be able to bring your cousin back to life and he will never rest until he has hunted you down and destroyed you.”

Jake raised his eyebrows and sighed. He bent down over the body, pulled the knife out of the creature’s neck, and lifted it above his head. With one swipe; he cut off Gregorio’s head. It rolled away from the body and landed in a ditch.

Callore Glanced up at the sky and saw the sunrise. She tugged on Jake’s sleeve. “We’d better go. News will travel fast to your grandfather about
Gregorio’s demise and I don’t want to be around when that happens.”

Jake nodded, wiped his knife on the bloodstained grass and put it back in his belt.

“That will leave a mark.” Callore touched his open wound.

Jake yawned and stuck his hands in his jean pockets.

Callore smiled. “At least let me bandage it. In time you will be able to heal yourself to a certain extent but for now, it will have to be the woman’s touch and human remedies.” She tore her shirt and wrapped it around his eye. She took a step back and nodded. “There, good as new.” She closed her eyes and stood still. She opened them, turned to Jake and smiled. “I just told the general everything.”

“What did he say?”

“He said, he was glad, but he couldn’t talk for long as he was in a meeting with the council members and Hassorev to decide what part he played in this.”

Jake shuffled his feet and stared at his hands. “I don’t suppose you can hear what they’re saying. I mean at the meeting.”

Callore’s jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide. “You mean, eavesdrop on the elders? No, it is a closed court, and even if I could, I wouldn’t.”

Jake pursed his lips. “I hope they punish him good.”

“So, do I, but I have a feeling he’ll get away with it. If he’d taken arms against anyone else, he’d be banished, but a human.” She stared at the ground.

“I don’t care, let’s go home,” Jake begged.

Callore smiled, grabbed his hand and started to run.                  
 
 


Chapter 17
Chapter seventeen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
Adrian stroked his long white beard and watched the seven committee members entered the square room with oval windows. The magic and power in the room sparked and he turned on the lights. Candlelight flooded the room. The general’s confident led the group to an oak triangle table with six highbacked chairs tucked under it. Each member pulled one out and, as they sat, the chairs contoured to their body as if made to order. 

Three men sat on the left of the general and three women sat on his right. The men, all small with ginger beards and wore white coats, except one, the vampire. His fanged teeth and red eyes made him stand out from the rest. His black and red cape swayed around his body. The group whispered among themselves, while the women, tall and elegant, with pointed ears and hairy faces; wore cold vacant stares. The tallest woman stood and waved her hand. She wore a gold gown covered in stars and moons. She nodded at the general.

“Bring in the prisoner,” the general boomed.

Hassorev sat opposite the elders and gazed around the room in contempt. The council members, what a joke. A bunch of old creatures that have nothing in common except their hatred of all humans. He smirked at his uncle, well, except you, old man. You love all things human, even if it means turning your back on your kind.

“How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?” the general barked.

Someone tapped Hassorev on his shoulder and whispered, “The general asked you a question.”

“What: oh, not guilty.”

“Do you deny tricking the human, Jason into leaving the safety of this camp and venture into vampire territory?”

Hassorev shook his head. “No, I plead not guilty of doing anything wrong.”

The council members took a sharp intake of breath and raised their eyebrows. Hassorev laughed to himself, the general must be mad if he thought the council would condemn him for tricking a human!

One of the manlike creatures stood and pointed his finger at Hassorev. “You are a disgrace to ‘Pires everywhere.”

“Well, it was only a human,” someone whispered.

The woman in the gold robe shook her head. “That doesn’t matter. He was a guest of the assassin and as such, under our protection.”

“We can’t really call him that, can we?” A voice piped up. “He hasn’t been sworn in or had any training.”

The gold gowned women raised her hand. “That does not matter. He is one of us and as such will be treated with respect. He is our leader’s son and one day will lead this pack while his son will become the assassin. That is the way of the world and that is our way. His friends, human or not, deserve our respect because of this.  

The general sighed and turned towards the remainder councillors. “Let’s hear from his parents.”

A small transparent man stood. He shuffled his feet and gazed around the room. His eyes fell on the general. “Please, Filtiarn. He’s a good boy. His grandfather put him up to it. Be lenient.”

Hassorev glanced at each member in turn. His eyes rested on his mum and dad, look at them, trying to fit in with these losers. His grandfather was right about them, they were weak, especially his mum. He remembered his grandfather tell the story of the day he rescued him from his parents. They didn’t even fight for me, grandfather said. They just let him take me. Best thing he ever did, though. The story he told Jake wasn’t altogether true. The parts where he’d found the letter were, but instead of keeping them from his grandfather, he’d shown the leader of the clan them.

“What do you want me to do, grandfather?”

“Go, meet up with Jake. Go back to your parents and learn what you can. Report back to me and, if you can, convert Jake as well” Hassorev complied with his grandfather’s wishes, and the plan worked quite well until now.

The general rubbed his temples with his fingertips. “So, what do you think?”

Gold gown shrugged. "We could banish him, I suppose."

A small man with a long silver beard shook his head. “Maybe we can give him a warning this time. If we do anything else, well, it will kill his parents and, they are right, he was a good boy, once. Maybe he can be one again.”

The general slammed his fist on the table and everyone jumped. “He killed my boy’s friend.”

“Well, he didn’t really kill him.”

“He as good as killed him.”

“He’s a good boy. The boy was a human and he has been taught to hate humans.” Silver beard shrugged.

“Madam Chairman.”

Gold gown nodded. “We have decided to let you off with a warning due to your parent’s position in the community. You do anything like this again and we will have no other alternative but to banish you from this clan forever.”

The general growled, rose from his seat, and stormed out of the room. The door slammed behind him.

Hassorev nodded and looked at the floor. They won’t trust me, and the old man will have me watched from now on.  I think it’s time to retreat to the safety and protection of Grandfather.

Hassorev started to walk in the direction of the hut he shared with the boys.

“Hassorev, Hassorev, wait for me.”

The young ‘Pire turned and saw Derek run towards him. What does he want! If it wasn’t for him and that other human boy, I’d still be able to spy for Grandfather.

He stopped and let the boy catch up. “What do you want?” he snarled.

Derek took an involuntary step back. “I was wondering, how it went?”

Hassorev eyed the boy up and down. “I got let off with a warning if you must know.”

Derek chewed his lip. “Why are you being so mean?” he wailed. “I thought we were friends, even more than friends, maybe.”

Hassorev gave a hollow laugh. “Me and you, friends! Don’t be silly, you’re a human, a mere mortal and me a ‘Pire! We could never be friends or anything else for that matter.”

Hassorev started to walk away, but Derek put a hand on his arm. “But I think I love you. I thought you felt the same way. The holding of my hand and the touch of my cheek, I thought they were signs you felt the same way.”

The ‘pire shook Derek’s handoff and turned on him. His eyes bloodshot. “ You think I could ever love you? You’re pathetic, you know that. You’re a freak of nature. A gay bully who is too stupid to realize someone is playing with you. It amused me for a while, but now I’ve bigger and better things than you to worry about. If it weren’t for you and your friend, I’d be integrated into the family, but now I’ve got to leave virtually empty-handed.”

With every word, Derek shrunk, as Hassorev grew taller and bigger. Derek felt a cold shiver run down his spine and turned bright red. He fell to the ground, and Hassorev spat at him, turned and walked away.

Hassorev reached his hut and grabbed his stuff. He walked to the door and stopped, Grandfather, is trying to communicate with me. He shut his eyes and opened his mind to the message.

Gregorio is dead. Jake killed him. He is on his way back. Leave now.

Hassorev opened his eyes and stared into space, my brother and friend. A tear trickled down his face and he wiped it away with the back of his hand, sniffed, picked up his bag and glanced around the hut. We will meet again Jake, then I will avenge my blood brother and not your untouchable girlfriend or your father will be able to stop me.  
                                                     *  *  *
 
Derek heard Hassorev’s laughter ring in his ears. He put his hands to his ears, but nothing could stop the hurt and humiliation he felt inside. This must be how I made my victims feel at school. For the first time in his life, Derek felt compassion for his victims.

He ran the opposite way to Hassorev and crossed the border into werewolf territory. The wind howled, and the trees rustled as he ran away from his tormenter. The trees seemed bigger in this part of the orchid. Twigs and fallen fruit crunched under his feet. He heard a bird tweet in a tree branch and the scent of flower blooms hit his nostrils.  Derek glanced up at the sky and saw the sunset. I must find somewhere to rest soon I am exhausted. He stumbled and fell onto the hard mud. Ow, that hurt. He rubbed his side and looked around. A tree root stuck out of the ground. Where there’s a tree root, he spotted a big oak tree. There must be a tree. Derek shuffled to the tree and sank onto the green moss under it. The branches acted as shelter from the wind and he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.  

Derek opened his eyes. Am I dreaming? No, that is a voice I can hear. Another joined it and another. Derek opened his mouth but thought better of it. What if they aren’t friendly. What if their vampires, werewolves or Jake? The voices approached the tree. Better to play dead or asleep. He closed his eyes and a bead of perspiration formed on his forehead.

“So, I said to him, who–“

The voices stopped.

“What the hell is that?”

“It looks like a boy.”

“Is he dead?”

“Don’t think so,”

“I think he’s human,”

“Well, what the hell is he doing here?”

Someone nudged Derek with his foot and the boy yelped. He opened his eyes and saw two hairy men in grey blazers with a wolf and a human insignia on their left sleeve. They all carried pistols. Their eyes glowed as they stared at him. He gulped and sat up. 

A burly brute laughed. “He sounds like a dog. What’s your name, Boy?”

Derek’s bottom lip trembled and his whole body shook.

A smaller creature poked him with a stick. “Maybe he’s dumb?”

Derek rubbed his arm. “Ow.”

The burly brute grinned. “Well, he’s not dumb.”

A girl with black hair and a stubby nose pushed herself forward. She wore a badge with three stripes embossed on her shoulder. She looked at Derek and sighed. “We better take him with us. Convel, tie him onto that stick you are holding and carry him.”    

“General Wolfhound won’t like this!” The smaller creature murmured.

“And Felon, you can help him,” the she-creature barked.

“Why can’t we carry him on our backs, Sarge” the one called Felan whined.

The girl with the stripes shook her head. “Well, if you want him to pee on you, you go right ahead.”

Felan muttered under his breath but helped Convel tie Derek’s arms and legs to the stick.

The girl frowned. “I wonder if he’s a friend of his grandchild. My source said he’d be travelling with a human or two,”  

Felan scowled. “Apparently he loves humans as much as general Wolfhounds son does.”

Derek felt two hands at each end of the branches as they lifted him on his feet. The boy opened his eyes and his jaw dropped. He stood there and started to shake as he stared at the werewolves before him.

“Boy, what’s your name?” the voice he recognised now as Convel barked.

“Derek,” he stammered.

“What you doing here?”

“I ran away from the ‘Pire’s.”

“Why?”

Derek opened his mouth to answer and shut it again. How could he answer that? Well, I fell in love with a ghopire who rejected me. I needed to get away, so I ran, until I was exhausted, fell asleep under a tree and found by you.

“I didn’t like it there. I hate the ‘pires and what they stand for. I hate humans as well and want to kill everyone.”

He glanced up at the pack, did they believe him?  “I’m not lying, I do hate ‘Pires and as for humans: well, if it means I’ve saved my life, I hate them too. If it’s my life or humanity—” he shrugged.

Convel and Felan looked at the female werewolf.

She nodded her head and eyed Derek up and down. “The general would like a human working for us, I think. A human that can bring food to us and mingle with our enemies might be the added strategy we need to win the war.”

She jerked his head at the other creatures. “Bring him along.”

Derek sighed with relief and allowed the pack to drag him to Randall, the leader of the werewolves and Jake’s other grandfather. I will make you all pay; you wait and see.   
 


Chapter 18
Chapter eighteen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
“I can see them,” Adrian shouted as he pointed to the mouth of the cave.

Jake came through, followed by Callore. The clan circled the pair Callore raised her eyebrows and glanced at Jake. She shrugged her shoulders and let the unusual praise of her adopted clan wash over her.

Jake heard the crunch of snow behind him and turned to see Adrian push his way through the circle. “The general wants you two to report to him right away.”

Jake rubbed his hand over his face, “Can't this wait? We have been on the road for days and I can hear my bed calling me.”

Adrian shook his head. “Sorry, but this is urgent.”

Callore frowned. “The General wouldn’t summon us if it wasn’t urgent, Jake.”

Adrian turned and walked in the direction of the general’s hut. Jake and Callore locked eyes, sighed, and followed him.

They arrived at the hut, Adrian knocked and walked in. The general sat at his desk, bent over a load of scattered papers. “It’s good to see you both,” he boomed as he pushed his chair back, walked around the desk and gave each of them, in turn, a wolf hug. He marched to the drink’s cabinet, poured himself a shot of whiskey. He glanced in their direction, studied their faces and took out two more glasses. He gestured for them to sit and handed them each a drink before he sat in between them and sipped his.

“Well, a lot happened here since you left. Hassorev got let off with a warning and has disappeared into thin air and so has your friend, Derek.”

Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Derek wasn’t my friend, sir, just someone I knew who decided to travel with us. As for. Hassorev; well, maybe it’s for the best.”

“Yes, I’m not going to lose any sleep over those two, but those two leaving isn’t the only incident that happened while you two were away.”

Both Callore and Jake leaned forward in their chairs.

“A traveller wandered into our camp. He claimed to be a ‘Pire who fell into the clutches of your grandfather and escaped. We fed him and gave him shelter for the night, but he was gone when Adrian woke up and with him some important papers and a map with the exact location of every ‘Pire in this area.”

Jake scratched his head. “Why is that so important? Can’t we just move them?

The general shook his head. “Some of these ‘pires are important to the cause. They live and work alongside humans. They have important jobs and cannot be moved. very territorial.”

Callore stood up and saluted. “What do you want us to do, sir?”

The general smiled up at her. “I want you to hunt him down, get the papers back and kill him. Take Jake with you. It will be good training.”

Callore grinned. “Yes, sir. We will leave at once.”

“But we only just got home,” Jake protested.

Callore smiled as she pulled Jake out of the chair and exited the hut. Jake waited for her while she raided the kitchen for provisions before they set off once again into the forest and danger.

They walked for most of the day until Jake collapsed onto his knees from exhaustion. Callore glanced down at him and sniffed the air. “I think he’s near, just another mile or two.”

Jake shook his head. “Have a heart. I haven’t slept for a couple of days.” He gazed at her. “How come you haven’t collapsed?” He scrutinised her smooth. “Not even a bead of sweat.”

Callore hid a smile behind her delicate hands. “Because young Jake I have been brought up and trained by the elite. You, on the other hand, have not had the training and conditioning that ’Pires get.”   

“Whatever. Still bushed.”  

Callore sighed. “Okay, you stay here and set up camp, while I scout on ahead.” She lay her rucksack, with the provisions, on the ground.

Before Jake could nod in agreement, she darted off in the direction of the trees and soon they swallowed her up.

Jake reached into the rucksack and pulled a deer leg out. He put it on the spit and turned it.

“Well I can see the first lesson I got to teach you is alertness,” Callore growled as she emerged out of the forest. She sniffed the food and grinned.

“Although that sure smells good.”

Jake jumped. “God, you trying to scare me to death?”

Callore grinned. “Can’t kill us that way. Only way you can kill us – “

“—Is with a silver stake through the heart. Yes, I know.”

Smoke rose, and flames licked at the deer leg as it turned. The aroma of fresh venison filled the air.

Jake looked around him.

“You’re jumpy.” Callore sat beside him.

“I was thinking. The vampire. They can smell.”

Callore shook her head. “He won’t know we’re hunting him.”

“But the smell.”

Callore sighed. “He is an old Vamp. When you get a certain age your sense of smell isn’t homed in like a younger Vamp. If you aren’t on the hunt or know you’re being hunted and are on the alert; your sense of smell can’t detect things this far away. The same can be said about their hearing.”
So, vampires are not so good while they are trainee’s and not so hot when they get old, interesting.

He took a leg off the fire and handed it to her. She ravished it and some juice ran down her cheek. She wiped it away with the back of her hand and took another bite. “I was right. The guy is almost a mile away, but it will soon be daylight, so the man has set up camp.” She glanced around and nodded her head. “Good, we have made camp downwind. You can be taught.” She studied the area and grinned. “Perfect we can sleep there.”

Jake scratched his head. “I have a question?”

Callore’s eyes twinkled. “Only one.”

Jake stuck out his tongue. “Why can’t we attack him now. I mean, now I’m rested and eaten I feel fine. We could kill him now and get back home before tomorrow night.”

“Because, even though he’s old, he is still a warrior with experience and stronger at night. We need all the advantages we can get when dealing with a trained veteran like this one.”

Jake got up and started to make a bed under the trees. Callore stared at him. “What are you doing?”

He stopped with a handful of dry leaves in his hand. “Doing as you asked.”

“I didn’t ask you to make a bed there.”

“Well, it’s where you pointed.”

Callore strode over to him, took his hand and pointed to the ground. “Not there—” she guided his hand, so he pointed to the highest branches of the tree they stood under. “— there.”

Jake stared at her with his mouth open wide. “I can’t climb that!”

Callore winked and laughed. “Who said anything about climbing?”

Jake scratched his head. “Then how are we going to get up there?”

“Jump.”

JUMP.”

“Yeah, jump,”

Callore walked away from the tree, turned around and ran at it. Just before she reached the oak, she bent her knees and leapt at its magnificent trunk. She hit the first branch, it bowed as she landed on it and as the branch swung back, it catapulted her into the air. She landed on one of the higher branches with ease. “Now you try it.”

Jake raised his eyebrows and sighed. He walked a bit further away from the tree than Callore, turned and ran at the tree as fast as he could. He bent his knees and leapt for the trunk. Splat the went as he collided with the trunk and crash when he peeled off the bark and fell on the ground.

Callore roared with laughter.

He picked himself up and dusted himself off. “Very funny,” he scowled.

Callore dried her eyes and giggled. “Bend your knees more and when I say now; jump.”

Jake ran at the oak tree again. as he got near the tree, he heard Callore yelled ”now.” Jake jumped and landed on the first branch with such force, the backlash overshot him, and he landed on the next branch up, sprawled out as he hung on for dear life, otherwise, he would’ve fallen off.

Callore climbed up the trunk and reached him just in time. She pulled him to his feet, and he sank against the trunk and slid down onto the branch. She lay in-between his legs and snuggled him until she could hear him snore. She closed her eyes but didn’t fall asleep. She knew how quickly the tables could be turned and the hunter could become the hunted.
 
                                                                      *  *  *
 
The tree chased him through the woods. He turned and found it wasn’t trees chasing him after all, but people with fangs and pitchforks. He jumped for the nearest tree, slipped and fell.

 Jake’s eyes flew open. “What happened?”

“You fell out of bed and we overslept.” Callore scowled. “Now we need to kill him before he wakes up and its almost dusk.”

“I mean, I’m not dead!”

She walked over to him and ruffled his hair. “Silly Jaky, you’re a vampire, you can fly.”

He studied her face, is she mocking me?

She caught his expression out of the corner of her eye and giggled. “Silly boy, we don’t turn into bats and fly. That’s another tale human tell children are told.” She scowled, “Now we need to go, otherwise we’ll miss our window of opportunity to slaughter him while he sleeps.”

Callore spotted the tent coffin first and put two fingers up to her mouth. Dead carcasses littered the forest. Jake heard an owl hoot in the distance. She signalled for Jake to act as a scout.

Callore stood at the flap of the creature’s tent.

Jake approached her and nodded. “There’s no one around,” he whispered.

She nodded, took her knife out of her belt and handed it to Jake. “Remember you need to cut off his head. And, don’t forget the mask.”

“You want me to do it,” he squealed.

“Yes, this is what the general wants.”

Jake scowled. “You know, after we get back, we need to talk about what I want if we’re going to be dating.” He hesitated. “Can I ask you something?”

“What, now?”

“Yes.”

Callore looked at the open tent flap and sighed. “Go on then.”

“Why do we have to wear masks?”

“And you want the answer now?”

Jake nodded.

“It can’t wait until we’re safe?”

Jake folded his arms and shook his head.

“Purebred vampires have toxic green blood. It keeps them alive. The antibodies work to stop the green acid getting to their vital organs. Therefore, they need human red blood cells to insulate their organs from the acid in the green slime. When they die, the blood and goo escape their bodies and, if we breath or touch it can kill us. Satisfied?”

“I thought they drank it because they liked it.”

Callore shrugged. “That helps as well.” She grinned.

Jake smiled and opened the flap once more, took the knife and entered the tent followed by Callore.

He crawled up to the vampire and knelt beside him. The creature tutted in his sleep but didn’t open his eyes.  Easy does it. He pressed the button and the mask fell over his face. He took the knife, held it to the vampire’s throat and cut through the first layer of skin. The creature opened his eyes and screamed as the blade hit a bone and blood poured onto the silk sheets and pillowcase. The creature put his hands out as if to grab Jake’s throat. The young ‘Pire gulped and cut through the bone as he parted the head from the body. The head rolled off the bed and hit the ground. It lay there and stared up at Jake. He staggered out of the tent and collapsed on the grass. “God, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Callore put a hand on his shoulder. “Is it done?”   

He nodded, managed to press another button on his cap which made the mask disappear and threw up.

She patted his back. “Believe it or not, this feeling will go away. It’s a good job he was older though. If he was a young buck; well, the fight could have been a bit fairer.”

He rose and turned towards her. It’s alright for you. You could probably server ahead before you could walk. “Mission accomplished, now please can we go home. At least the general will be pleased. Other sons make their fathers proud by winning trophies and medals, but my dad wants kills and heads. The things we do to make our parents proud.”
 
 
 


Chapter 19
Chapter nineteen (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER NINETEEN
Sweat ran down Jake's face and into his eyes but, although they stung, he couldn't wipe them away as he saw a shadow in his peripheral view. He crouched on the gravel path, ready to spring. A raindrop fell on his head, why is it always raining in England. The scent of lilies tickled the hairs in his sensitive nose, and he sneezed. Something jumped on his back. Concentrate.  Jake threw the creature over his shoulder and it hit a tree trunk with a loud splat.  The fist hit him in the stomach, full force. He bent double and fell on his back. Jake felt rather than saw the sword blade aim for his head. He rolled over, with the sword in hand;    the diamond incrusted sword handle felt rough against his skin and fought off the attack. Sword hit sword, the two 'Pires circled one another. Jake forgot about the werewolf on the ground until he felt the half-animal half-human on his back and a sharp-pointed object at his throat.

A short, pointed ears man with a white beard and a Tefal suit jumped down from a tree nearby. "No, no, no," he boomed. "How many more times. You've got an acute sense of awareness, so use it. Never take your eyes off either of your opponents unless you are sure one of them is dead." The little man shook his head. "It's not your fault. You should have learnt this at a young age but that won't be any consolation for the general when you're dead and who do you think will get the blame, eh—" he poked Jake in the chest—"me, that's who. Not the humans that bought you up, oh no, but Mr Goat; that's who. Your trainer. The dwarf who trained you. They will say I didn't do my job. That I got you late won't come into it."

"I'm trying, Sir but it's hard and why do we have to learn on gravel. They—" he waved his arms in the vicinity of his components—"can hear me when I attack."

Mr goat scowled. "So, when in battle, you are going to ask your opponents to fight on grass so as they can't hear you?" He threw his arms in the air. "You think they'll comply?" He lifted his stick and tapped Jake on the head.

Jake sighed and gazed around the forty acres of woodland and grass space the 'Pires used as their training ground. He could hear the swoosh of the ravine as the water ran over the pebbles in the distance. His gaze wandered to the left of him and the wooden huts where the soldiers slept. The huts looked like kennels bar two, the one in the middle which looked more like a mansion with its big oak door and curtains drawn and the big white tent which acted as the canteen and recreation area. Jake turned his head and spotted two capless soldiers' approach. They wore brown jackets and trousers, a grey wolf badge embossed on the sleeve.  Must be vampire killers otherwise, they would be wearing a brown wolf.

Mr Goat hit Jake in the shoulder with his stick. "Are you listening to me, young Adoifo?"
Jake rubbed his shoulder. "Yes, Sir." Where did he get the stick? I'm sure he didn't have it before. I wonder where Callore is. Fool that I am. I thought after killing the old general and everything the general might give me time with her but, no. He wanted me to train straight away. Besides, what does this little man expect? I've only been training a week, even he said others like me have trained all their life.

Someone touched Jake's arm. "Have you finished training today?"

Mr Goat scowled and turned. "No, he has—" he stopped and smiled. "Why, if it isn't my favourite and best pupil. How is life treating you, Callore?"

 Callore grinned. "Fine, Sir." She jerked her head in Jake's direction. "How about him? Any good."

The dwarf shrugged. "Not bad but he will drop his guard and he fight and thinks like a human."

Callore threw her head back and laughed.

"I'm still here, you know," Jake muttered.

The two ignored him.

"Can I take him? I need to teach him to hunt."

Mr Goat waved his left hand. "Go ahead. We've finished for the day anyway." He nodded in Jake's direction. "See you tomorrow, Adoifo."

Callore linked arms with Jake and dragged him away.

"Why does he call me that? He knows I don't like it. Even the general call me Jake."

"Because he doesn't respect you, yet, but he will."

Jake frowned.

Callore screwed up her face and put on Mr Goat's thick harsh voice. "Become the best assassin you can be, boy, and I will call you whatever you want me to call you."

Jake chuckled. "You do him very well, but don't let him catch you, otherwise he might hit you with his stick."

The pair giggled.

Jake stopped first. "Isn't that Adrian? I wonder where he's going in such a hurry.

  "There you are. The general wants to see you at once," Adrian called as he approached the couple. He glared at Callore, "I would have thought Number

Two  would have informed you of that fact straight away."

"What's up?" Jake muttered. "Are we under attack or something?"

Adrian avoided eye contact and gazed at the ground "I think the General will have to tell you that. Hurry up please, he's waiting." With a furrowed brow and a squared jawline, Adrian turned and marched towards The General's barracks.

Why does the general want to see me so urgently? Jake glanced at Callore, clicked his heels together in a comic fashion and followed Adrian as the manservant marched across the field.

The manservant stopped at the general's brick hut and knocked on his big oak door.

"Enter," The General shouted.

Adrian moved to one side to allow them access.

Jake sighed and pushed the door, it spun open. It always amazed him, his father's quarters, with its big double bed made from straw and shaped like a coffin one side of the room and a big comfy chair with a table situated in the middle. A big oak desk with a massive swivel chair stood to the left of the door. 

The general glanced up from his desk. "Jake, my boy, come in."

 The young 'pire smiled, gave The General a curt nod, and entered his father's quarters. He spotted his mother out of the corner of his eye as she glided towards him.

"Hello, mother," he whispered as she touched his face with her hand. Mother, odd, it feels so natural. The rescue seemed like yesterday where Hassorev,

The General and Jake ventured into Vampire territory and saved her from her fathers, the vampire kings, wrath.

"My boy," she cried; tears streamed down her cheeks.

He wiped them away. "Don't cry, Mum. Are you feeling better?"

She nodded and flung her arms around him. "I thought I'd never see you again. I never wanted to give you to them, you know, but…"

Jake smiled. "I know, Dad explained."

The general cleared his throat. "I hate to break up this happy reunion, my sweet, but we have important things to discuss."

Jakes mother turned towards her husband and nodded. She gave Jake a final squeeze and turned away. A fresh set of tears ran down her face as she perched on the edge of a chair.

Jake frowned, why's mum looked worried and scared.

The general sat on a chair by his desk and indicated that Jake do the same. "We have received disturbing news."

Jake leaned forward in his chair, his body tensed, and his hands shook as he leaned over the desk in anticipation.

"Hassorev has disappeared," his mum blurted out.

The general sighed. "Please, Eva, let me explain."

Eva nodded and sat back in her chair. She stared at her hands and turned them over every so often.

"Hassorev has indeed disappeared, but that's not the startling news. I found out yesterday from an informant he is back with his grandfather."

"But doesn't he despise his grandfather. I mean he was locked up and kept from his parents."

The general put his hands in the air. "So, everyone thought, but it turns out, he was only acting. He was, in fact, a spy for the general, sent to infiltrate our army and find out as much as he could by befriending you. Your grandfather wanted him to recruit you and other 'Pires to his cause."

Jake scratched his head. "But I thought he hated hybrids?"

The general glanced at his wife and she nodded.

"He does, but your grandfather is a monster. He's developed a drug to cure you, as he puts it, of your infliction. This drug is dangerous and painful, but if it works, my informant said, it could kill off the non-vampire genes and make you a full-bred vampire."

 Jake stared at his father- open-mouthed.  "But who would… I mean, why…"

The older man shrugged. "Who knows, but some do, your cousin being one."

Jake jumped out of his chair and marched to the door. "We must stop him."

"Yes yes, all in good time, but we have more important things to think of at the moment."

Jake paused, his hand on the door handle. "Like what?"

"Like stopping your cousin from reaching your grandfather with important information."

"What information?"

The General lowered his head. "It is my fault, but I trusted him." He wrung his hands. "He has plans for our safe house."

Jake raised his eyebrows. "Safehouse?"

The General nodded. "When T—" he stopped and turned his headway. "I mean, err, when we find a 'Pire in another country we keep them in a kind of halfway house until we can ship them here. The place is top secret, but I talked about the location in front of Hassorev last week as we had an influx and they needed picking up." 

Jake turned towards his father, a cold shiver ran down his back and his heartbeat faster. All those innocent creatures. If the vampire king gets to them first... I must stop him.

"Your next mission is to stop Hassorev completing his."

Jake frowned. "What if I fail. All those lives in my hand. Am I ready?"

 "Mr Goat agrees, but he has consented to give his seal of approval as long as Callore accompanies you on this mission. I don't usually disagree with him but, in this case, with Callore by your side the experience will do you good."

"What's it got to do with him," Jake growled.

The General smiled. "Mr Goat is your trainer and well respected in our community. I follow his advice when it comes to training and my men, usually."
Jake pouted "Do you want us to assassinate him?"

The general shrugged. "I leave that up to you, but whether you do or don't, he mustn't reach the vampires with the information at all costs."

Jake stood up straight, looked his father in the eye and saluted. "Yes sir, I understand." He stopped; his hand poised on the doorknob. "What will happen if he does?"

The General turned away and walked to the window by his desk with his hands behind his back. "We will have to move the safehouse. It will be hard but not impossible."

"This will kill his parents!" Jake heard his mum cry as he left the room and went in search of Callore.
 


Chapter 20
Chapter twenty (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY
As Jake exited the general's hut, he scanned the area around him for any signs of Callore. He watched a group of soldiers play guess the bite and bet on how many they can guess in time. It looked very like the children's game, Guess Who but instead of people its teeth on the flappers. He glanced towards the combat zone and spotted Mr Goat as he terrorised a group of young pups, but Callore seemed to have disappeared. A warrior in a brown uniform with a wolf embossed badge turned the corner and almost collided with him but swerved at the last moment.

"Sorry, Noble wolf." He grinned. "Didn't see you there."

Jake rolled his eyes. I hate this traditional crap. 'They need to respect you before they can call you anything but your given names meaning,' he heard

Callore's voice in his head. 'Then they will use your given title, The Assassin and welcome you into the pack.'

Jake sighed. Yeah, I know. Be patient. Jake looked left and right. Where are you?

In the mess tent.

The soldier cleared his throat, but Jake ignored him. He shrugged and walked off.

Uncouth pup, Jake heard him think, thinks he's better than everyone else. Let them think bad of me if they want. At least, if they're badmouthing me, they're leaving Callore alone.

Jake headed off in the direction of the mess tent. Situated in the centre of the compound. As he got nearer the smell of hot pot hit his nostrils and his stomach grumbled. His mouth watered at the anticipation of food. As he approached, he heard Callore voice, she sounds agitated. He opened the flap and soon discovered why.

A big burly lout shouted in Callore's face. "You think you're too good for us now, untouchable?"

"Leave me alone Boaz," Callore sighed as she pushed him away and sat down at a table.

"You think just because you are his number two and sleeping with the boss's son, you can order me around!"

Callore stood and turned to face the bully. "I am your superior officer, that and that alone gives me the right."

"Yeah," he grabbed her wrist, "Well how about you give me some sugar, sweetheart, or are you just the wannabee's prostitute?"

Jake saw Callore clench her fist and pulled it back. She punched Boaz in his stomach. The half-man doubled over and fell to the floor. The other soldiers roared with laughter.

"Why you little…" Boaz scrambled to his feet and advanced on Callore. She got ready to pounce.

"That's enough," Jake barked as he entered the tent.

Boaz glared at him and opened his mouth, but another soldier called Josiah, put a hand on his shoulder. "Leave it, "he whispered. "This isn't the time or the place." He turned to Jake and clicked he heals. "Sorry, sir, Boaz didn't mean anything by it." He tapped the bully on the head and put his hand up to cover his mouth.  "He is a good solider but has nothing up top if you see what I mean." He pushed his friend towards Callore. "Say sorry to the human."

Boaz scowled at Josiah. "Sorry," he snarled.

Josiah took the man by the arm and led him out of the mess. Jake wasn't sure, but he thought he heard Josiah whisper; "We will get our revenge, my friend."

Jake and Callore followed the two hounds out of the tent and walked towards Jake's living quarters.

"So, what did the general want?" Callore asked.

Jake shook his head. "Not here."

They reached his hut, he opened the door and ushered her in.

She sat on the bed nearest the wall. "Well?"

"He wants us to hunt down Hassorev and kill him," Jake whispered.

Callore stopped and turned towards him. "Both of us?"

Jake shrugged and hung his head. "He doesn't trust me on my own. Mr Goat reckons I'm not good enough."

Callore smiled.

"I don't think it’s anything to laugh about. He doesn't think I'm good enough, the soldiers think I'm a joke and Father thinks I'm still a liability." He flopped down on the bed next to him and pouted.

Callore sighed, stood and sat down beside him. "Did he say that?"

Jake gave a curt shake of the head.

"As for Mr Goat... He thinks everyone is not ready. He said that about me on my first mission."

"Really?"

"Really." She put her hand around his shoulder, and he leaned into her. And as for the other guys in the platoon—" she shrugged— "join the club. The General, he, eh."

Jake lifted his head and looked at her; their eyes locked. "You think he thinks I'm not good enough."

Callore shook her head. "No, my love. I think he realises killing a ghospire is going to be difficult for a first mission."

Jake frowned. "How? All you do is cut off their heads and bury it far away from the body. I have killed 'Pires before you know."

"It's a bit more complicated. If he was a vampire, we could kill him in the day. They are weaker as you know, but he's a 'pire so he will be weaker at night."

"So, what's the problem?"

"When he is weak the vampires will be strong and vice versa. Intelligence informs us, there are a lot more 'Pires joining their full-bred clan into battle.

Since we've been away, quite a few 'Pires have deserted and joined the vampires and werewolves."

Jake's shoulders slumped. "Why?"

"Every community has haters, Jake." Her chin trembled. “There are some in creature world that think the general is asking for trouble with his town and vision. It’s a nice thought, everyone living in harmony but practical, some think not. He’s a big man with an almost impossible plan but if anyone can, the general can. She gave a watery smile. And some are like Hassorev, traitors. They only joined the clan to spy on it and now their job is done, have returned."

Jake turned white and stared at Callore with his eyes open wide. He shook his head. "Why?"

Callore touched the back of his hands with her fingertips. "Who knows, but we don't dwell, we act." She lowered her eyes to the floor. "There are also a little more to it, but we won't go into that now."

Jake eyebrows furrowed but, at the sight of her square jawline, he didn't push.

Jake peered at Callore through the slots in his fingers. "You know I blame myself for Jason's death as well" 

Callore nodded.

"If I hadn't kissed you that night… he wouldn't have seen us… he would have understood… I could have explained it… and I know he would've understood."

Jake slumped over and Callore caught him just in time. "Enough of that," she scolded. "If I… I should have… if only, doesn't help. We can't turn back time, but we can find justice and we will. Now we have a job to do."

Jake stood up straight and nodded. "You are right. We need to stay focused." He forced a smile.

Callore grinned. "Of course, I'm right, I'm always right. That's why you love me so much."

Jake laughed and tapped her on the bottom, but she dodged, and he hit the air. He shook his head, and smirked, the girl is quick.

Callore glanced at her watch, "Okay, let me collect some provisions and other and we can catch a few hours' sleep before we head out. As it doesn't matter when we kill Hassorev, I think we will travel by night and sleep by day. We will meet by the ravine at dusk."

Jake nodded, bent over and kissed Callore on the lips before she exited to give him some well-deserved rest.
                                            *  *  *
Jake paced up and down the path, where was she? He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around.

"You're late," he growled.

"Sorry, the general wanted to talk to me," she panted.

"What about?"

"Nothing much," she looked away. "On the bright side, I've bought the half-eaten deer and Eva cooked you some beef, so we won't go hungry."

"I thought we would hunt so we didn't have to carry much."

Callore shook her head. "Too risky. The vampires will be asleep in the day, but the 'Pires won't and vice versa."

Jake threw his hands up in the air. "If the vampires are up at night and the 'pires are up to during the day, it's going to be pretty hard to reach Hassorev and kill him undetected."

Callore dropped her gaze. "You have no idea.

Jake's forehead creases. "What do you mean?"

Callore shook herself, looked up and smiled. "We better get on before it gets dark. The good thing about the 'Pires who have joined your grandfather are they're all trainee's. The vampire king won't let them hunt on their own or venture out of the camp."

What secret is she keeping from me now, I wonder?

She picked up the rucksack, slung it over her shoulder, and ran across the river which acted as a border into vampire mountain.

Pebbles protruded through the water and Jake slipped once or twice on them. He steadied himself and crossed the river at a slower pace. He climbed up the bank at the other side and stopped. He tilted his head to one side and smiled at the bird choir's song. His nose twitched at the smell of fresh grass and the flowers in a row on this side of the bank. Jake gazed around the vast forest with a tall mountain covered with snow in the distance. "Wow is this all Grandfathers?"

Callore nodded. "The forest used to belong to the wizards and witches, but the vampires raided their village one night. Killed over three hundred warriors and took the forest for themselves."

Jake shook his head. "Nice guy, my grandfather."

Callore growled. "You don't know the half of it. When he found out about Eva and the general; he put a hit out on her. His daughter. The kindest, generous, good-natured—"

Jake laughed and raised his hands. "Okay, we all know you're Eva's number one fan."

Callore turned a bright red. "I owe her and your Dad a lot. They took me in, even though it might have cost them a civil war. They treated me as kin, even though I was an untouchable. They're the only family I know have ever known, really" She lowered her head.

Jake touched Callore's arm and the young Humpires body shook. "We must get on. It'll be light soon." Callore disappeared into the trees and became a blur.

"Hey, wait up or I'll lose you." Jake stumbled.

He fell forward and closed his eyes. Gentle hands reached out and steadied him.

"You're a real human, you know that?" he heard her tease. "You are a werewolf; you can see in the dark. Just close your eyes, picture me, and start running. Our connection will guide you and your mind. As long as you can see me in that; you will never lose me." She let him go, turned around, and sped off in the direction of the vampire camp.

Jake sighed and started to run.

The pair sprinted in silence for a long time before Callore came to a sudden halt.

Jake almost collided with her but managed to swerve at the last minute. He stumbled over his own feet, fell forward and bumped his head on a tree trunk.  "What's up?" he growled as he rubbed his lump.

She put her forefinger up to her lips. "Shh." She crouched down, put her hand on his arm, crawled into a bush and pulled him with her.

Two vampires in white and green tunics with flat caps perched between their pointed ears appeared from behind a clump of trees. "Did you hear that?" 

The taller one asked. His long black and red cloak opened to reveal a double gun slinger's embroidered belt and two 45 Magnums.

The other one munched on what looked like a human leg grunted. "You are hearing things, Cirino."

Cirino sniffed the air. "I think I can smell something as well, Dario."

Dario shook his head and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "That is your stench. You smell like rotten humans and what's that you're eating?"

"It's the last of the man we killed last night." He held it out to his friend, "You want some?"

Dario pushed Cirino's hand away. "I tell you what I want. I want to start heading home before it gets light, that's what I want."

"But I heard something! This way."

The two vampires stood inches away from the bush where Jake and Callore hid. Callore reached into her belt and pulled out a sharp, wooden knife in the shape of a stake. 

"There is no one there," Dario moaned. "I'm going home. Look." he pointed to the sky. "It is almost light. I don't want to be burnt and blistered!"

The two hidden 'Pires held their breath. Callore held her knife to her chest and crouched; ready to attack.

"Okay, I'm coming," Cirino grumbled.

Jake exhaled as he heard the vampires walk away. Callore climbed out of the bush and brushed herself down. "That was close." She glanced around and spotted a nice tall oak tree. "I think we'll camp here for the night." She bent her knees, and as she jumped, grabbed onto the next branch and swung herself up until she landed on a high branch invisible to the ground. Callore poked her head through the leaves and grinned. "Are you coming up or not?"
Jake threw his head back and laughed. I'll show her, although, that wasn't my finest hour. His face turned crimson. After that complete failure, every spare moment he'd practise his jumps until he could make it to the highest branch in the highest tree in the compound. He gazed up at the tree in front of him and sighed. This tree is far taller than anything I've tried, though. I hope I can make it.

"What's taking you so long?" Callore yelled down to him. "Can't you make it?" She teased.

Jake walked away from the tree. He turned and ran towards it, jumped and landed next to Callore with a bow.

Callore punched his arm. "Show-off," she giggled.   

Jake grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him. He lifted her head and kissed Callore on her lips. She pulled away from a little and gazed into his sky-blue eyes. The young Humpire smiled and he bent down to kiss her again, but she pushed him away. "We'd better get some sleep. We've got to reach the camp by tomorrow night."

Jake turned away and sat on the branch with his back towards Callore. "Why?"

Callore sat next to him and took his hand. "I love you, but we haven't told your parents and we need to kill your cousin, and after Jason—" She put her head on his shoulder.

"When we get back to camp, I am going to announce it to the world," Jake growled.

"Are you sure. Some 'Pires and full breeds won't take kindly to this union."

Jake jumped up and pulled Callore to her feet. He pulled her to him and put his lips on hers. He opened her mouth with his tongue and forced it in before she could object. She responded in kind and the two kissed. This kiss wasn't tender, like the first, but hard, passionate, brutal and full of promise.

Eventually, Callore came up for breath and pushed him away. "We need some sleep if we're to get there by nightfall and kill Hassorev."

Jake let her go and stepped back. "Why?"

"Your grandfather sent me a mind message before we got here. It said he's being informed that most of the vampire army is going on a provision hunt in a nearby village and the camp will be deserted except for Hassorev and two 'Pires. If we hit them then, chances are we can get in and out without too much fuss. By the time they find the bodies we'll be home again."

Jake slid down with his back against the trunk and Callore sat in between his legs. She leaned her head back until it rested on his chest. He put his arms around her and closed his eyes. The pair drifted off into a restless sleep with Callore ever alert for danger.
 
 


Chapter 21
Chapter twenty-one (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
"Jake, wake up."

He jumped up and scanned the area, "What's up? Are we being attacked?" 

"No, we got to leave now if we want to get there by nightfall." Callore thrust a cooked rabbit and a coffee in his direction. "You eat and drink while I clear up the campsite."

Jake munched on the small animal and sighed. I'm not much of a werewolf or a vampire if I must eat cooked food all the time and I don't like the taste of blood. He gazed around the makeshift campsite. How did she make a fire, and cook my food, and not wake me up? I know I slept on the highest branch, but still. Wouldn't I have smelt the wood, rabbit? Or heard the sizzle of the fire? He finished his breakfast and licked his fingers one by one, Jake jumped down from the tree and landed beside Callore just as she doused the fire.

"Ready?" She asked.

He nodded and the pair headed into the forest. As Jake picked up speed, he glanced down at his feet. This part of the process always intrigued him. His feet were a blur and he could feel himself being lifted off the floor as his speed increased. I feel like I'm flying. Jake looked up just in time to see a tree and swerved to avoid it. Note to self, when running fast, always look where you are going. They were almost on top of the vampire's campsite, so he slowed down and skidded to a stop by Callore.

Callore put her forefinger to her lips and pointed to a hut at the far side of the compound. "He's in there. As far as I can see there are only two guards, both 'pires."

Jake nodded and followed Callore as she ran to the first building and crouched behind it. They ran from building to building until they reached the hut where Hassorev slept. Jake edged around the building, but before he could enter, Callore pulled him back.

"What's up?" He whispered.

"Shh, listen. Can't you hear that?"

Jake's wolf-like ears twitched. "It sounds like laughter."

The pair peered around the hut and to their horror saw a group of vampires emerge from the trees.

"Damn, there're stragglers and they look to have been drinking." Callore hissed.

Jake scratched his head. "What are stragglers?"

Callore sighed and rolled her eyes. "Stragglers are the losers of the vampire world. They are the ones your grandfather sends into battle first. The expendable ones. The ones he would never take on an important mission like hunting for food, as they would probably mess it up. They are easy to kill, except when they are drunk. They are vicious drunks and troublemakers."

She peered around the building again and sighed with relief. "Good, they are all entering the hut furthest away from us. Hopefully, they will drink until they fall asleep. Once that happens, nothing will wake them."

"So, what do we do? Just wait?"

Callore shook her head, "No, we don't know how long that will take and the others might be back at any moment."

Jake sighed and crept to the door of the hut. He heard a noise behind him and turned. One of the 'Pires guards stood there.

"Hey, who are you?"

Jake saw Callore creep up behind him, just as the 'pire realised who Jake was. "Hey, your Eve's son." He turned. "Help, guys—"

Callore put one arm around his neck and with the other hand, plunged her dagger into his heart. The half-breed fell against her and she lowered him to the floor.

"You call, Nerio?" A gruff voice yelled from the vicinity of the hut.

"No," Callore yelled back in a low gruff vampire soldier way. "Just saw a Shadow."

The 'pire laughed. "Nerio suits you. The wet one. He chortled and closed the hut's door. 

Callore glared at Jake. "Don't you ever look before you attack? Next time I'm the lead."

Jake grinned, a sheepish grin, and walked over to her. "We need to hide the body."

Callore took out a sword made of silver, held it with both hands and lifted it above her head. She swung it down and cut off the 'Pires head. It rolled towards Jake and he stopped it with his foot. He picked it up and threw it into an overgrown bush nearby. Callore bent down, and with Jake's help, managed to drag the dead guard away from the hut and into the cover of some trees nearby.

Callore rubbed her hands together. "Hopefully by the time they find him, we'll be a long way away."

The pair crept back to the tent. Their eyes darted from left to right and their ears pricked for any sign of danger. Jake took a quick look around before he opened the door and tiptoed in. Callore followed him and closed the door gently behind her.

They spotted a bed on the far side of the room and crept up to it. Hassorev laid there, his eyes closed and a smile on his face. Jake gazed down at his cousin and his hand shook as he pulled his dagger out of his belt. He bent over and raised his knife, but before he could plunge it into the traitorous 'Pires heart, he felt a hand on his arm.

"That won't kill him."

Jake froze. "What do you mean, it won't kill him?"

"He's a ghospire, so stabbing him through the heart and cutting off his head isn't enough."

Jake lowered his weapon. "So, we've come all this way for nothing!"

Callore put her hand into her jacket pocket and pulled out a vial. "We have to give him this."

Jake opened his mouth to speak but shut it again. He glared at her and his face turned dark red. "And you choose to tell me now!"

Callore dropped her gaze and shuffled her feet. "The general thought—"

"What? That I'd not want the mission! Does he think me a coward as well?"

"Shh, you're going to wake him."

"And how pray tell, do we give him this liquid?"

"He has to drink it."

"So, we have to wake him anyway, don't we?"

Callore nodded and wrung her hands.

Hassorev opened his eyes and smiled. "Hello cousin, how nice to see you again and I see you've bought that untouchable whore you call a girlfriend."

Callore pulled her dagger out and held it to Hassorev's throat. "Try anything traitor and it will be your last act on this earth."

Hassorev sat up and pushed the young warrior's hand away. "Now you of all people vermin should know a dagger won't hurt me."

Jake stared at his cousin for a moment. "She knows. You need to drink this." He waved the green liquid around in the vial. "But before you meet, you're whoever, I want to know, why?"

Hassorev glared at Jake. "They lied to you; you know. Our so-called parents who said it was grandfathers’ fault. It wasn't. He gave them a choice."

"Yeah, some choice, become a full breed, or be extinguished from the earth," Jake scoffed.

Hassorev swung his legs off the bed and stood up. He turned to face Jake. "How was it living with humans? Did you fit in? Did they except you and your differences? All grandfather wanted was a world without humans. A world we can be free and walk where we like. Be who we like."

Jake shook his head. "Yet he wants his grandchildren and the 'pire clan to drink a potion that will change them into full breed vampires. Yeah, he wants us to walk free."

Callore glanced at the door. "I hate to interrupt this lovely reunion, but if we don't leave soon, we will be caught. It's nearly sunrise and the hunting party will be returning soon."

Hassorev wrinkled his nose and pursed his lips. "You will be the first to go. You and your kind. I would kill all vampires who go with humans, but grandfather is more forgiving than I."

"Thank you," Callore mocked.

Hassorev's white face turned red. "When we win the war, I will see to you personally. If you are lucky, I might make you my pet. I think I would like to tame you." He licked his lips and smiled.

"In your dreams," Callore spat.

Jake's whole body shook, and he nearly dropped the tube. He lifted his cousin above his head and threw him against the wall. The ghospire grunted, but before he could defend himself, Jake leapt upon his chest and knelt on it. Callore held Hassorev’s chin and his nose. The young 'pire couldn't help but open his mouth. Jake, with his teeth, opened the container and poured the liquid down his throat. Hassorev tried to fight with his free hands, but it was useless against the two of them. Once he'd swallowed the substance, Jake rolled off him and stood up. The 'pire's body jerked once before he lay still.  

Jake kicked him with his shoe. "Is he dead?"     

Callore shook her head. "I shouldn't think so. The potion doesn't kill, just makes the ghost part of him human.

Jake gazed down at Hassorev's still body. Hassorev's face got pinker. He lost his shiny, white complexion and skin started to grow on his arms, hands and face.

"Can we kill him yet?" Jake whispered.

The changes seemed to have stopped. Callore stepped forward and put her wooden stake knife next to his heart. She swung it above her head.

"Can I do it?"

Callore stopped in mid-swing. "Okay, but be quick, before he wakes up."

Jake strode over to the lifeless body of his cousin and took the weapon from Callore. He bent over him and gripped the knife tighter. "Goodbye, cousin.
See you on the other side of hell," He whispered. He raised his hands.

Hassorev eyes sprung open and he kicked out. Jake grunted, rolled off him and clutched his groin. Hassorev sprang to his feet and advanced on Jake.

The young assassin struggled to his feet and backed away.

Callore took a step forward.

Jake put his hand up. "No," he growled. "let me handle it."

Callore nodded, opened the door ajar and peered out of the crack. "Be quick. The hunting party will be back at any moment." 

The two cousins circled each other.

"Well, cousin. Let's see if all that training has paid off," Hassorev hissed as he lunched towards Jake.

Jake jumped back and swung his leg round. He contacted Hassorev's shin and grinned when Hassorev grunted. The Ghopire dropped to the ground, rolled over, and jumped up. The two cousins faced each other once more.

"Come on, finish it," Callore whispered. "Otherwise we will have to fight a few hundred vamps and I don't relish our chances." 

Hassorev grinned, tilted his head from side to side, and charged. Jake felt his cousins' full weight and the two pires rolled on the floor; interlinked. Jake managed to pin Hassorev down. The ghopire shook a hand free and clawed at Jake's face but Jake swatted it away like a fly. He pulled his wooden pointed sword clear of his scabbard onehanded, the sword seemed smaller, like a dagger. And plunged it into Hassorev's heart. Blood spurted from the wound, Hassorev gave a moan and then nothing. Jake closed his eyes and swung the sword down, which seemed to have grown, once more.

"Right, let's go." Before Jake could answer, Callore threw the door open. "Run," she barked.

Jake ran so fast he arrived at the tree in minutes, He stopped and looked around, but couldn't spot Callore. He tried to listen, but the noise of the wildlife distracted him. He sighed, jumped up onto a high branch and waited for her to appear.

"Jake, are you here," a soft voice called his name.

He jumped down and landed lightly beside her. "Can we go home now?" he pleaded.

She shook her head. "Sorry my love, but the general has just sent me a message. He needs us to carry out another mission before we can head home."

Jake threw his hands in the air. "Who does he want us to kill, now!"  
 
 


Chapter 22
Chapter twenty-two (final draft)

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
Callore wouldn't meet Jake's eye. "It's your friend, Derek."

Jake pursed his lips. "What's he done, now!"

Callore shuffled her feet and wrung her hands. "He's run away."

Jake shrugged. "Is that all. I am not his friend, you know. He met us on the road and wanted to join us, so we let him. If he gets himself killed—" he shrugged.

Callore screwed up her face. "Well, that's the thing, you see; we can't have him talking to anyone."

Jake scratched his head. "And who is he going to talk to?"

"The werewolves. They are peaceful, usually, and never wanted the war. It was your grandfather's full-bred vampire potion that got them riled up in the first place. They have nothing against 'Pires or humans, it's vampires they can't stand."

Jake shook his head. "I still don't understand."

"Well, although they have nothing against us, they can't let the vampires win either and we are half vampires. So, Derek could be an asset to them."

"Does he know anything?"

"Well he might, the general doesn't know, but he'd rather not take the chance. You know; in case."

Jake ran his hand through his hair. "What does he want us to do?"

Callore cleared her throat. "Well, he wants us to venture into werewolf orchard and take him out."

"What! Kill him."

Callore nodded.

"But, he's human!"

Callore frowned. "So?"

Jake raised an eyebrow. "Well, it's not exactly a fair fight."

Callore shrugged. "It's him or us and I choose us. But if you feel uncomfortable doing this—" she turned away.

Jake sighed and lowered his head. "No, I'll do it."

"There's a problem, though." Callore sighed. "We have only fought vampires up to this point. As I said, the werewolves have been on the side-lines. They are not our enemy, whatever you've been told. They are loyal and true and—"

Jake held up his hands. "Hold on a minute, whose side are you on!"

Callore pursed her lips. "The plan is to get in, kidnap Derek- if we have to- and get out as fast as possible. We do not attack any of the pack unless we have no option and if we do, we do not kill them unless we have to."

Jake glared at Callore but gave a curt nod.

Callore walked towards the tall trees. They whistled as the wind blew through the gaps in the leaves. He sniffed and the smell of dew on the airstreams tickled his nostrils. The smell of fruit lingered in the air and caught in the back of Jake's throat.  "We have a long way to go, so we better get started."

Jake gazed around the vast landscape.  "It's beautiful."

Callore scowled. "Yes, and it used to be far greater than the three hundred acres it is now. Werewolves owned most of the land around here. They used to donate it to the other creatures who wanted to live in a safe environment."

Jake stared at the oak trees situated around the orchard. "What happened?" 

Callore clenched and unclenched her fist. "The vampire king. He wanted the land. More land, more power. He cheated, swindled, and stole the land from the creatures who dwelled there. Snow Mountain belonged to the wizards but, Orfeo Bloodlust, the great and powerful Vampire King ran them out and took the land for himself." Callore put her left leg in front of her right and bent her body forward a little. "Maybe, if we win, your father's dream of an
Ethiopian will be born, and everyone will get their land back and we can all live in harmony: even humans." She spat the last words out and wrinkled her nose as if it were a bad smell. Callore turned, smiled, and disappeared through the trees.

Jake took one last look at the green grass, the wildflowers scattered around the field and followed suit.

Callore didn't stop until they reached a tall clump of trees. She threw her bag on the floor and searched through it. Callore pulled out the last of the cooked deer out of the bag and passed him a chunk. As she munched her share, she gazed up at the tallest tree. "You hide up there while I go hunt."

Jake sighed. "Why can't I come with you?"

Callore grinned, their fight forgotten. "Because, my love; you might be the general's son, but you are still an assassin in training." She jumped up, kissed him on the cheek, and disappeared between two trees. Jake got up, jumped into the tree and waited for her return.
    
        "Jake are you up there?" he heard a soft voice call.

Jake opened one eye and sniffed the air. The smell of cooked venison filled his nose and his mouth watered in anticipation. He opened both eyes and jumped from the tree. Jake landed by the fire and Callore looked up and smiled. "I hope you're hungry."

He sat beside her and rubbed his hands together. "That smells nice. What time is it?"

She gazed up at the sky, licked her finger and held it up in the air. "About six in the morning."

He gave her a ruthful grin. "How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"That time thing? Will you teach me?"

She rolled her eyes. "Maybe someday, but you need to learn more important skills before I teach you trivia things like that."

Jake scratched his head and frowned. "Like what?"

"Like hunting, swimming, surviving, fighting and above all chameleoning."

"Chameleon! what's that?"

Callore turned her face away. She twisted and squirmed for a minute and turned back. Jake's eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. Her features changed; she didn't look like Callore anymore. She looked like a full-bred vampire.

"That's amazing." Jake stammered.

"Yes, depending on our heritage, we can turn into full-bred whatever's and blend into our clans if we want to. We can turn into other creatures as well, but that takes a little time and more training."

Jake rubbed his chin. "So, I can look like a full-fledged werewolf and vampire, but not a ghost."

Callore shook her head and smiled. "You can be trained to look like a ghost if you want to, but that'll take years of training. Now, we need you to look like a human. as we must pass through a little town called Forest Town.

Jake scowled. "Hey, I might not be able to look like anything else, but human, I can pull off. I thought I was one since birth."

Callore cocked her head to one side. "That doesn't count, and besides have you looked in the mirror lately?"

He shook his head. She jumped up and reached out for his hand. "Come on, let me show you."

She led him through the trees and to the lake. "Look she whispered in his ear."

Jake walked to the edge of the lake and looked down. He stared at his reflection. This isn't me! Where is the lanky, awkward boy? Where is the innocent child? Where have I gone? He flexed his muscles and ran his hand down his back. Hair everywhere. When did I get so hairy? His pale skin, now a honey colour, seemed to glow and glisten. Jake touched his long scar on his cheek, and he blinked his sky blue thick lashed eyes at the transformation. She's right, no way will people think I'm human. He frowned as something she said before niggled him, now, what was it; "I thought the general bought the town and the humans know about us?" 

Callore came up behind Jake and put her hands around his waist. "You have turned into a handsome, sure-footed, muscular man before my eyes, my love, and wrong town. Your father built a town on the other side of the valley but, yet, no one lives there."

"Why?"  

"Too dangerous. He hopes, after the war, to fill the houses with every creature and a few humans. The houses are made to fulfil specific needs." She grinned as she saw Jake scratch his head. "Well, vampires have to live in coffins so, one street is called Coffin Avenue and on the dark side of the town. Werewolves live in kennels with litter boxes and like their doggy ancestor's love to dig so, another street is named Sandpit Alley. Each kennel has a sandpit instead of a garden outside their house. And of course, human's, wizards and ghosts live in normal houses."

Jake turned. "And—" he kissed her on the lip—" what—" his tongue forced its way into her mouth—" he drew her to him— "are they called."
 
          She moaned. "Oh, eh, Human's corner." She leaned into him.

His mouth moved to her ear and he nibbled it. "Why?"

She put her arms around his neck. "Because wizards and ghosts are classed as humans." She caressed the back of his neck.

He nuzzled her ear and, one-handed, undid her top button.

She sighed and pulled away. "We need to leave soon. We will probably be staying the night at the hotel there, so we need you to pass well." She turned and walked back to the campsite and Jake followed her. She wants me as well; I can feel it. Why does she fight it?

Callore sat by the fire and turned the deer on the spit. She dissected it into portions, gave him one, took one herself and put the rest into her bag for the journey to come.

He munched on the meat and watched her put out the fire and clear away. She slung the backpack on her shoulder and turned to him. "Right, you ready, then?"

He licked the last of the juice off his fingers and nodded.

She turned towards the trees and started to run. He sprinted after her and soon they both were nothing more than a blur to anyone who might be out and see them.
 
 


Chapter 23
Chapter twenty-three

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
Callore stopped and Jake skidded to a stop beside her. She pointed down and Jake saw a town in the valley. The people scurried in and out of shops like rats and a yellow bus trundled up the road to what looked like a school of some sort. Over to the left stood a huge building, that must be a shopping centre, stood. He gasped at the view. “I didn’t know we were so high up.”

“Well we are in a part of the forest humans can’t see. Why do you think humans think we are myths and legends? We travel around, but we have our own land. These towns are our borderline into werewolf territory.” She put her bag on the floor and rummaged through it. She pulled out a jacket and a cap.

“Here. Put this on. I haven’t got time to teach you the blend in method.”

Jake raised an eyebrow. “The blend in method?”

Callore gave him a gentle punch on the shoulder. “You know what I did this morning, change my appearance, well, that is called the blend in method. We can make ourselves look like anything, especially you.”

Jake scratched his head. “Why, especially me?”

Callore rolled her eyes. “You are The Assassin. The Chameleon. You need to blend into any environs.”

He put the coat and hat on and stood to be inspected. The coat, a brown trench coat, hid his arms and the hair on his neck. His white all in one changed colour so, to any passer-by, it looked like the lining of the coat. His trilby hat hid his unhuman eyes and pointed ears.
 She walked up to him. stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek before pulling his cap down and his collar up. “There, that’s better. Don’t speak unless you have to.”

He nodded and started to climb down the mountain. She looks beautiful. Even now, with her face screwed up looking like a young human, she looks great. His claws helped him to hold on and soon they both reached the bottom. The pair walked into town hand in hand.

A man walked by and Callore tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, sir, but can you tell me where the nearest hotel is please? 

The man smiled. “Sure. It’s just up here on the left.”

She thanked him and the couple started to walk up the street.

A group of young men sat on a nearby wall and, as the pair drew level, a young blond, blue eyed youth put his hand on Callore’s arm.

“How about a kiss, honey,” he slurred as he tried to grab her.
She wriggled out of his grasp. “We do not want any trouble.”

The young man jumped off the wall and staggered towards her. He stopped and turned towards his fellow drunks. “They don’t want any trouble.” He turned back towards Callore. “What’s the matter? You think you’re too good for us? You prefer wimps like him.” He pushed Jake, stumbled and, if Jake hadn’t steadied him, would have fallen flat on his face.

“Steady on, mate.”

The hob stood, back straight. “I am not your mate and your girlfriend are too frigid for me anyway. You must be desperate to go out with a...”  

Jake lifted him off his feet and pulled him closer. His canines glittered in the sunlight. “You apologize to the lady or I’ll tear you limb from limb and feed you to the crocodiles.”

The hooligan went as white as a polar bear. “Sorry,” he muttered.

Jake threw him towards some black rubbish bags and smiled at the crash when he hit an old-fashioned rubbish bin instead. The young mans’ friends scurried to his aid, picked their friend up and half dragged, half carried him away.

Callore grinned and kissed Jake on the cheek.

“You do know we don’t really have crocodiles in this part of the country, don’t you?”

Jake smiled. “Yes, my love but I don’t think he does.”

Callore giggled as they continued their journey up the hill.

It wasn’t long before they reached it and Jake opened the door for Callore to walk through. The marble floor under foot made a clip-clip nose as they walked across it to the man behind a great big pine and oak reception desk. A black leather sofa stood in the middle of the lobby with some magazine and bookshelves situated near the right-side window.

Jake’s eyes opened wide. “Can we afford this place?”

Callore nodded. “As a nation, we are quite well off.”           

The receptionist, a man in his early forty’s, smiled. His white teeth shone in the artificial light. He wore a blue jacket with gold plated buttons and buttonholes. His black hair receded a little and his brown eyes looked as warm as his put-on smile.

“Can I help you?” He shuffled some papers around his desk.

Callore smiled her sweetest smile. “Yes, we would like to book a room, please.”

“Certainly madam. If you  can sign the book.” He turned around and unhooked a key from the box situated on the wall. He handed them to Jake. “It’s up these flights of stairs and the first door on the right. Shall I call the porter?”

Jake shook his head. “No, we have only hand luggage. We can manage, but thanks anyway.” Before the man could quiz him further, the pair ran up the stairs.

Callore ran past him and took the keys out of his hand. She put the key into the lock, turned it and threw the door open. He reached the room just as she flung herself onto the big double bed. “This is bliss. It will be nice sleeping in a proper bed for a change. The genera tries to accommodate but things like this; he sees no point in. ‘Hay and straw are pure and good enough for my ancestor’s,’ is his answer.” She jumped off the bed and sauntered to a smaller door in the corner. She opened it and hugged herself. “Look, there’s even a shower.” She walked into the bedroom, striped and entered the bathroom. She closed the door and Jake heard her squeal with excitement as she stepped under the water. 

“Don’t tell me, the general doesn’t see the point in Showers either,” Jake yelled through the door.

“No, came the muffled reply. “The stream was good enough for my ancestors’—"

He sighed and lay on the bed. The noise of the water sounded so peaceful; it wasn’t long before he fell asleep.

He heard a door open and woke up with a start. He looked towards the bathroom and his jaw dropped. Callore stood there with only a loose fitted bath towel wrapped around her bottom half. She took it off and started to dry her hair.

He moaned as she sat on the bed. “Oh, you’re awake then.”

Jake reached out and pulled her back. She laughed and tried to get up, but he held her. “I want you. Now!” he growled.

“We can’t Jake, the general might call,” she pleaded.

Jake threw the towel across the room and pulled her close. He cupped her breasts and began to kiss her neck.

 “No, you don’t understand.”

“I understand you love me. I understand I love you. What else is there to understand!”

“We don’t use telephones to communicate. We use our minds. If we are in the middle of,” she faltered. “Well, if I don’t answer, he will want to know why, and he can;” she lowered her head. “He’s powerful enough to see through my eyes and…” Her face turned red.

“Oh, OH I see. Now I understand, but I don’t care.”

“Oh, Jake, please—"Callore’s eyes glazed over and she started to mumble.

Jake sat up and moved closer. “Is it the general?”

Callore nodded.

Great timing, Dad.

Callore frowned. “He wants to talk to you.”

Jake gulped. Oh, god. Did her hear me. “Eh, can we do that?”

Callore screwed up her eyes. “I’m not sure. I haven’t taught you the art yet, but they are your parents and that makes you as powerful as them…

Concentrate on them. Cut out all other noises and just imagine your parents faces.”

Jake shut his eyes and conjured up images of his parents. He heard a loud hiss and a voice.

“Dad, is that you?”

“Jake, my boy. So, you learnt the art of communicating?”

“Yes dad. Is there something wrong?”

“No son, why do you ask?”

“Your phone call.”

“Oh, I just wanted a status report and a tactical discussion on the Derek situation.”

“Eh couldn’t that wait until the morning. We’re a bit tired and want to get some rest, among other things.”

“What other things? Look son I know you two have been on the road a long time, but…”

“Hush now, Filtiam, and let the boy alone,” another softer voice spoke.

“Mum, is that you?”

“Yes son. I hope you are behaving yourself,” the voice chuckled. “And are looking after Callore. She means a lot to me and your father.”

Jake heard his father snort. “Look after Callore! She is one of my finest warriors, my sweet.”

“Yes dear, but she’s also a woman.”

A woman!”

Yes dear, a woman. A woman is…”

“I know what a woman is.”

“Well when a handsome man like our son gets to spend a lot of time with a beautiful woman like Callore, things are bound to happen.”

“Things, what things?”

Jake heard his mother sigh. “Tell Callore to contact us in the morning darling and have fun.”

Jake heard a hiss and then nothing.

Jake lay back on the bed and smirked. “Now they have gone, what say you, we have a bit of fun.”

Callore lay on the bed beside him and turned on her side. She kissed him on the lips. “I’d like that,” She whispered. “I’d like that a lot.”  
                                                              *  *  *
 
Jake rolled out of bed and yawned. He grabbed a towel from the cupboard, at the foot of his bed and went to take a shower. As the water washed over him his thoughts regressed to last night. I should have told her. Why didn’t I tell her? I’m a coward, that’s why. I say it’s for her happiness but really, it’s me who wouldn’t be able to take her love eyes turning to hate. He gazed at his chest and wondered what it would be like to have breasts. A smell of fresh roasted meat wafted under the door and Jake sighed, reached for a towel and exited the bathroom.

 Callore stood by the small kitchen sink in jeans and a t-shirt. She glanced in his direction, smiled, and carried the cups and two plates filled with fried steaks over to the bed.

“Come on, lover, we need to leave if we’re going to make the camp by nightfall.”

Jake took the cup from her outstretched hand and sipped the hot coffee, boy did that feel good.  He grabbed for his all in one, white suit and put it on. “I thought veteran ‘pires, like yourself only ate raw meat.” He perched on one of the hard back, rickety wooden chairs by a wobbly table on the far side of the room and placed his plate on the tabletop.

She sat opposite, picked up a chunk of meat and tore it with her teeth. Clear meat juice ran down her chin and she brushed it off with the back of her hand. “Most do but I’m half human and can take it both ways.”

Jake whipped bits of food off his face. “Didn’t anyone tell you to close your mouth when you eat?”

Callore shrugged. “How can I talk if my mouth is closed.” She winked. “If you were better at the mind telegraph, then it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Jake scowled. “You’ve had all your life to master the telepathy thing.”

Callore smirked and a twinkle appeared in the corner of her eye. “Yes, I know. Poor Jake bought up by humans. They should have taught you, though.”

Jake frowned. “How could they? They only found out I was human a year ago.”

“Of Couse they did—” she took the last bite of her steak— “silly me. Have you finished? We need to go.” 

Jake nodded.  Is that her secret? She knows my human family.

Callore cleared the plates and washed them. She put them to away and turned towards Jake.

“What time is it anyway? Jake rubbed his face with the palm of his hands.

She patted him on the head. “It’s nearly six o’clock.”

“What, in the morning!” No wonder I’m still knackered.

She laughed and walked towards the door. “I’ll go give the keys back to the receptionist and meet you out front.” Callore placed her cup on a table near the door and glanced at Jake with a twinkle in her eye. “After all, you need to get up and get ready and we know how shy you are.”

She skipped out of the door and slammed it after her before he could think of a retort.

He sighed and jogged after her. He spotted her by the flowerpots in the communal garden. “Excuse me, miss. Could you tell me where I might find a cheeky little ‘pire who needs to be taught some manners?”

She turned and smirked. “You took your time. Come on little wolf boy we need to get going. I have spoken to the general and filled him in. He said, if we can bring Derek back alive, that would be preferable as he might be able to tell us something useful. Also, he isn’t in the habit of killing humans. It was your cousins’ fault he ran off. Leading him on like that, letting Derek fall in love with him, and then rejecting him the way he did.”

Jake threw his hands in the air and shook his head. “Great, and how does our fearless leader expect us to do that?”

Callore shrugged. “Maybe he’s heard how persuasive you can be.” She giggled, turned and started to power walk. Over her shoulder she yelled, “come on, lover, and try to keep up if you can.”

Jake opened his mouth to reply, but she disappeared behind some trees. He sighed and sprinted to catch her up.
 
 


Chapter 24
Chapter twenty-four

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
Callore stopped, near an oak tree, and gazed up at the sky. A moonbeam caught two rabbits in its soft glare as nightfall descended on the forest. Jake came alone side her and skidded to a stop inches away from a deep mud filled ditch.

“We’re almost there. The camp site should be around this bend, according to your father.”

The pair, on hands and knees crawled to the edge of the ridge. It’s a good job these clothes are indestructible, otherwise we would be too busy healing ourselves let alone finishing the mission. They peered over. Twenty soldiers with furry faces and pointed ears surrounded the castle, each wore a grey blazer. The pair saw five big heavy bolts on the big steel ark shaped door and two creatures with swords slung over their back in black leather, diamond studded double back scabbards.

“How are we going to get in there. It’s guarded like fort Knox’s,” Jake hissed.

Callore motioned for him to retreat. “Let me think.”

Jake pricked up his ears. “Can you hear that?”

Callore cocked her head to one side and listened. Callore grinned. “I know how we’re going to get into their camp,” she muttered.

Jake didn’t like the tone of her voice. “How?”

“We give ourselves up.”

“We do what!”

We give ourselves up, locate Derek and escape.”

“And how, pray tell do you suppose we do that?”

Callore rolled her eyes. “I can’t think of everything, Jake.”

Jake shook his head. “I’m not sure giving up is an option. What if the soldier’s kill us? Or torture us, or—”

“—They won’t. Kill their leader’s grandchild: never.

Jake raised an eyebrow. “How can you be sure?”

Callore grinned. “Because, my love, I know how noble most of the werewolves are.

“Suppose we get the non-noble ones,” he muttered.

“Stop worrying. We’ll be fine.”

Before Jake could answer, the patrol came into view.

Callore turned. “Hey, were you born ugly, or did your mother have an ugly coupon?”

Great, don’t just give yourself up, but insult them, why don’t you. Jake looked up at the sky and walked out of the bush.

The three wolf men stopped.

“Are you stupid by birth or does it take practice,” Callore yelled as she walked up to one and punched him in the belly. 

The brute grunted and bent over.

The rest of the platoon starred at the girl and scratched their heads. They peered at her through slanted eyes and muttered to each other.

“So, what they say about you lot are right, you are as stupid as you look.”

The tallest werewolf picked Callore up by the scruff of her neck and shook her. “You’re not a werewolf.”

Callore turned to Jake. “I think he’s got it. Maybe these flesh eaters aren’t as dumb as they look.”

A big werewolf with stripes on his uniform and pointed, hairy ears stepped up to Jake and lifted him up by his collar. “This one looks a lot like the chief’s son.”

Jake eyes opened and closed in quick succession as he spotted a double back scabbard with a wooden pointed sword slung over the creatures back and a white wolf and what looked like a human hand in a handshake motif embossed onto a silver shield which he held in his left paw. Jake could just make out the writing around the embalm, PROTECOR OF JUSTICE.    

“It can’t be, I left him back at camp,” a smaller one piped up.

“Maybe he’s the other one, Loup.”

Loup ran his fingers through his hair. “Whoever he is, we need to take them both back to camp. The chief will want to see them, Caleb.”

Caleb took some rope out of a saddlebag and tied Jakes hands together. He took the other end of the rope, slung it over his shoulder and pulled it tight.

Jake fell over and the soldiers laughed.

What about her, Faolan?” Loup growled.

Faolan rubbed his stomach, took Callore from his companion and threw her over his shoulder.

“Hey, she’s mine,” Caleb growled. He plucked her from his comrades’ shoulder.

Faolan scowled. “I thought we were a team.” He pushed Caleb who lost his balance and fell backwards.

“We might be a team—” Caleb hissed— “but I’m your superior officer and—”

While they’re arguing I wonder, He inched a little nearer to Callore, caught her eye, and jerked his head in the direction of the nearest bush.

She shook her head and didn’t move.

She can’t still want to carry out her plan, can she?

“Hey, where do you think you’re going.”

Jake felt himself be lifted off the ground. He tried to kick his captor, but they kept him at arm’s length. He turned his head and saw big teeth and the hairy face of Loup stare back at him.

“Enough.” He picked Callore up and threw her over one shoulder and Jake over the other. “End of discussion.”

Faolan and Caleb glared at Loup but remained silent.

“Who made him boss,” Caleb whispered.

“Leader Filtiam, when he made him team leader of our group.” Faolan sighed. “Which was not the right call at all.”

Jake watched the trees and bushes turn into clear open fields. He smelt the fresh ripe fruit of the orchard and felt the rough ground with every bump they walked over. He groaned and tried to catch Callore’s eye but the young humpires eyes remained shut. Is she alright? If that brute has hurt her, I’ll, I’ll, what would I do? What could I do? Jake felt Loup stop. He tried to look around but couldn’t turn his head that far. He heard one of the creatures knock.

The gate creaked and the three werewolves marched through it and into a muddy compound.

“What have you got there?” A thick set voice asked.

Faolan gave a belly laugh. “A present for The Leader.”

They marched through the compound, their feet crunched on the twigs and leaves on the on the damp wet grass, and didn’t stop until they’d reached a wooden building with dense tree walls on either side and a big wooden door with a cast iron ring door handle. Loup tugged the door and it swung open.

Caleb grabbed Jakes belt, pulled him off his shoulder and threw him against the far wall. Jake fell in a heap on the mud, grass floor. Faolan dangled
Callore by the leg for a moment before he tossed her in the room as well. The door closed, the lock turned, and darkness fell.

Callore crawled over to Jake and felt for a pulse. “Jake are you okay?”

Jake groaned. “Now what?”

Callore shrugged. “We wait.”

“For what? Them to kill us, or worse.”

Callore remained silent.

“Anyway, I thought you said werewolves weren’t violent unless pushed.”

“Well I did call them stupid and ugly.”

Jake shook his head. “Was that really necessary?”

“Well I wanted to get them mad.”

“I think that part of the plan went exceedingly well, don’t you?”

Callore reached out and touched Jake’s arm. “I’ve said I’m…”


They heard the key unlock the door and a bright light flooded into the room. Two new werewolves entered the room followed by Loup, Faolan and Caleb.

The two creatures in front stood taller and, to Jake they looked like they were in charge. A big hairy hand pulled Jake to his feet. He glared at the trio and roared, “Why is my grandson covered in blood and tied up.” He turned to a smaller version of himself and smiled. “Filtiam, come and meet your brother.

“A tall, bulky, muscular creature appeared in the doorway with brandy coloured eyes. His face covered with the five o’clock shadow. His teeth gleamed as he smiled at Jake with a slight overbite. Filtiam tossed his long coffee brown hair from side to side and gazed down at his brother.

Jake leaned on the wall for support. His brother stepped towards him and held out his arm. Jake hit it away. “I don’t want your help,” he hissed. “How can you join him!” He jerked his head towards his grandfather. “Your nothing but a traitor! How can you treat your family that way?”

Filtiam shook his head. “These are my clan.”

“What about the general and Eva- our parents. You left them to be with him!”

Jake’s brother pursed his lips. “The general is our father, but Eva is not my mother, Charnn is.”

Jake frowned and scratched his head. “Who’s Charnn?”

Jake’s grandfather smiled. “My daughter. So, you see, Filtiam junior isn’t the traitor, but your father, Filtiam senior...”

Jake swallowed and starred at the older werewolf. “What, father’s sister?”

The two wolf men looked at each other, grinned and nodded.

“But that’s disgusting!” Jake spat.

Jake’s grandfather shrugged. “It’s not the same for us. We have different rules and morals than other creatures. All our clan are family literally. We are all blood related, like this trio,” he waved his hand at the trio stood near the door. “Meet your cousins.”

They nodded and waved in Jake and Callore’s direction.

“This is really nice and all little brother, but why are you here. I am sure it’s not to meet your family or have you come to your senses and come to join us?”

“We want the human called Derek,” Callore spoke for the first time.

Jake’s grandfather turned and bowed. “Miss Callore please to meet you. I have heard so much about you. I’ve often said to my grandson, if his father sends anyone to kill me, I hope he sends you. You are a soldier of honour and the one thing werewolves know about is honour.”

Callore saluted. “Thank you chief, all—" 

“Randall, please.”

“Thank you, Randall, all we want is the human and we will be on our way.”

Randall frowned and shook his head. “I am sorry mam, but I can’t grant you that request. We promised the human our protection if he joined us and I am a creature of my word. Also, you have seen the camp, so unless you join us, I will have to kill both of you.” He glanced at Jake, “Which would hurt me as you are my own flesh and blood, Adoloifo, but the rest of the clan will expect it.”

Callore shook her head. “But everyone knows where your castle is?”

Filtiam junior smiled and shook his head. They used to but my father recued this witch about a month ago and she moved the castle and gave us a cloaking device. No one can see it but, as it cannot be moved again and you two now know its new location.” He shrugged his shoulders. Well, you see Grandfathers predicament.”

“I will never join you, so shoot me now,” Jake growled.

Randall raised his eyes. “You remind me of your dad. Always the hothead. I will give you a little time to cool down and speak to the humpires about my offer. Maybe she can talk some sense into you. I have to leave camp for a few days, but when I come back, we will talk some more.” He bowed. “It was a pleasure meeting you grandson, mam.” He clicked his heels and left the room followed by the rest of the clan. The key turned in the lock once more.

“We need to get out of here,” Callore whispered as she crept to the door. She peered around the room and spotted a small peep window. She tried the door, “Damn, it’s locked. I heard the key turn but hoped… Oh well we need to come up with a plan.” She gazed around the room and spotted a small, high window with bars on it. “Quick give me a boost up. Maybe the bars are rotten, and we can fit.” Jake cupped his hands together and as she put her foot into them, he threw her upwards. She caught the edge of the windowsill and pulled herself up. The ledge jutted out enough so she could crouch on it.

“The windows too small and the bars are solid.” She jumped down and landed next to Jake. She slumped to the floor and put her head in her hands. “This is hopeless, my love. What are we going to do?”

Jake sighed and put his arm around Callore. “We will think of something.”

They heard footsteps outside the door. The key grinded as something unlocked the big solid door and opened it.
 
 


Chapter 25
Chapter twenty-five

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
Callore scurried behind the door.

Jake’s legs trembled and his hands shook. What is she planning? She can’t fight these monsters. What if there’s more than one? They’ll kill—

Filtiam stuck his head into the room. “Come on you two. Grandfather’s left with most of the clan. We have to move, now.”

The two ‘pires hesitated for a moment. What if it’s a trap? Jake glanced at Callore. Even if it is, we can’t stay here to die. Far better, we die at least trying to escape. He grabbed Callore’s hand and pulled her out of the room.

They followed Filtiam down a corridor and into a big study. The Wolman walked up to the head of a wolf mounted on the wall and pulled one of its fangs. The bookshelf at the other end of the room sprung open and revealed a passage. Filtiam pointed towards the corridor. “You need to go. Follow the passage to the end. There you will find a cavern. Swim through another passage and that will take you to a lake on the out skirts of Wolf Orchid.”

Jake clasped his brother’s hand. “Why are you doing this?”

Filtiam shrugged. “You’re my brother.”

“Won’t you get in trouble, brother?”

“There will be an inquiry and they will suspect, but they won’t do anything about it. After all I am the chief’s son.” 

“Come with us. Father will be happy to see you and you can join us in our fight.”

Filtiam bowed his head and his mouth turned upside down. “These are my clan. I need to fight by their side.”

Jake nodded and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Until we meet again, my friend and brother.” He stepped through the gap. “Come on, my sweet, we need to go.”

Callore stood still and shook her head. “Our mission is to either kill Derek or capture him. We can’t go until we’ve completed the mission.”

Filtiam glanced at the door and frowned. “He’s not here. He’s gone to a town called Forest Town to buy some food. One of the clan accompanied him as far as the town. We can’t go into town as we haven’t got your chameleon abilities He won’t be back for days. Now will you please go.”

Callore followed Jake into the passage and Filtiam slammed the secret door shut.

Jake and Callore used the wall as a guide and made their way through the passage. They found the cavern and dived into the clear blue water. Although

Jake hadn’t been trained for this before, he found it easy to hold his breath until they were out the other side. The couple saw a light and swam towards it.

They emerged and climbed out of the lake. Callore put her hand on Jake’s arm and cocked her head to one side, but she couldn’t hear anything. 

She grabbed Jake’s hand and led him away from the castle. Once satisfied they were far enough away from Werewolf Orchid, she sat under a tree. “We need to go back.”

Jake’s draw dropped. “Go back, why?

“We need to complete our mission.”

Jake sighed, reached out his hand and pulled Callore to her feet. “Okay okay, but if I get killed, I will haunt you forever.”

Callore grinned and started to walk back to the lake.

They reached the water and Jake gazed around. “Now what?”

Callore spotted a few trees the other side of the bank pointed with her index finger. “We hide behind them. They are directly in the path of the castle and

Derek must pass them to get back. We either capture him or kill him and he won’t be able to see us. This is a perfect plan, come on.”

“Yeah, like your plan to get us captured,” Jake muttered under his breath.

Callore took Jake by the shoulders and propelled him to the clump of trees. The pair crouched behind them and waited.

“What if he’s already past?” Jake whispered as he gazed up at the sky. “It’s hours since we escaped and I’m hungry.”

Callore shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. Your brother said he left yesterday. He isn’t a creature of the night or wolf like, so he can’t sprint. He will be along soon. I think, get food yesterday, sleep last night and travel back today. Yes, any minute now.”

“But, what if…”

“Shh, I think I hear something.”

Jake stood still. He heard the faint sound of footsteps in the distance. The steps got closer and closer. The wind picked up and the leaves around them flew into the air. A feather flew into Jakes nose. “Atisho.”

The sound stopped and silence reigned. Jake rubbed his nose and sniffed. “Where did he go?”

“You go left, while I go right,” Callore whispered. “He can’t have gone far. After all he’s only human.”

Jake nodded and moved from tree to tree through the orchid. Callore jumped into the trees and disappeared. He peered around a trunk but saw nothing.

Before he could move, to his next point, he heard a noise behind him. He turned and saw Derek behind him. In his hand, he held a stake sword with a silver edge.

“Hello, Jake, I was wondering if we would ever see each other again.”

Jake stared at the sword, he looked up and locked eyes with Derek. “Why did you run away? I treated you like a friend, even after the way you treated me at school, and still you go and betray me.”

Derek Laughed. “Don’t feel too bad. It wasn’t your fault. I told Hassorev how I felt about him, and he rejected me. Made me feel like my dad made me feel when I told him I was gay. My sister even shunned me, imagine that!” The sword tip dropped as Derek stared through Jake. “You know that day you met Jason, was the best and worst day of my life. I fancied you rotten, but you never gave me the time of day. When I pulled your trousers down and touched your penis, I felt great. When my sister made you come though, I nearly came myself. Your humiliation was a drug to me, and, like all addictions, I couldn’t get enough. Then he came along and spoilt my fun. I hated him for that and am glad he’s dead.”

Jake shook as he remembered and moved closer to Derek. Derek snapped out of his trance and lifted the sword up. Jake circled the boy but couldn’t find a weak spot as Derek moved around and never let his guard down once.

“I never knew you could fight,” Jake spat.

Derek shrugged but kept his eyes glued to Jake’s eyes. “The werewolves taught me well. I think the chief took me under his paw.” Derek’s lips curved up into a cold smile. “I think he thought of me as the second grandchild he never had.”

Derek lunged at Jake with his sword and the ‘pire jumped back just in time. The two boys circled each other once more. He’s only human. I can take him.

The sword swayed in Derek’s hands and Jake saw his chance. He jumped towards the boy.  Derek took a step back and tripped. Jake took advantage and jumped on Derek. The boy went down and swung his sword in Jake’s general direction. Jake felt a sharp pain in his arm. He looked down and noticed blood pour from the open wound. Damn, I underestimated his ability.

Derek scrambled up, sword in hand. “Goodbye Jake,” he whispered as he lifted the sword above his head.

“Jake, Jake, where are you?” a voice called.

“Damn,” Derek lowered the sword. He glanced in the direction of the voice and spotted Callore. “Until next time, Jake,” he whispered. He turned and ran over the border and into the camouflage of the trees.

Callore ran up to Jake. “Lover, your hurt!” She knelt beside him.

“Go after him. He’s getting away,” Jake croaked.

Callore looked up and shook her head. “We will get him, but not today. We need to get you back to our camp before you die of silver poisoning.” She picked him up and cradled him in her hands. Jake closed his eyes. “Jake can you hear me?” she cried. Jake moaned and a spot of blood dropped onto the ground from the corner of his left eye. “Don’t worry my love, you are not going to die on my watch.” She held him close to her torso as she turned and sprinted back to the safe lands and the ‘pire sanctuary. “Please let me be in time.” 
 
 


Chapter 26
Chapter twenty-six

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

Callore stopped by the big oak tree. She knew it wasn't safe. They were a long way from home, Jake's looked paler from blood loss, his usual dark skin looked white and ashen among the greenery of the orchard. She gazed down at the young 'pire and a tear fell from her duct onto his face. He stirred, opened his eyes and groan. A drop of blood fell on a clump of moss as he stared up at her.

"Where are we?" he whispered in a hoarse voice. "I'm so thirsty, what happened?"

She placed him on the floor and smiled. "It's okay, my love. You've been injured slightly by Derek. I will get us home and then when you're better we will hunt him down and make him pay for this." She took a towel out of her bag and disappeared through the trees to the lake. Her eyes darted from left to right and her pointed ears stood to attention as they listened for any sound. She knelt beside the water's edge where a gaggle of swans perched, they stared at her with their blue, beady eyes but she ignored them and soaked a material in the clear blue liquid. She refilled her flask and made her way back to Jake. Callore placed the soaked piece of cloth on his head and put her flask to his lips. He gulped down the cold drink and choked. She put the vessel on the ground and wiped away the drizzle from the corner of his mouth with her hand. She gazed at him, he looked so pale and she placed her hand on his cheek. She caressed it and found the hair on his face came away with her hand. This is not good. Callore pulled the sleeve of his shirt up a little and wrinkled her brow as she saw the puffiness' and orange colour around his wound. Damn, I will have to suck out the poison otherwise; he won't even make it back home. Derek did a number on you. The werewolves taught him well. Why did you have to bring him? If you didn't bring him, collected Hassorev from that box, and invited Jason on this trip, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Jake moaned and his eyelids fluttered. "Stay with me darling," she whispered in his ear.

She stood up, collected some wood and lit the fire. She placed her knife into the flames for a few minutes before taking it out. She knelt on the ground and held his wrist on the grass. "This is going to hurt, Jake. I'm so sorry." Callore made a slice into his wound and Jake howled.

Callore clamped her mouth over his open wound and sucked. Every few minutes she spat the silvery poison onto the ground beside her. Jake howled and tried to pull his arm away, but she held on tight until she only spat out his dark red blood. She released him and scrambled to her feet. All the silver is out now, but if I don't get you home soon, it might have been all for nothing. She sighed, picked him up and started to sprint.
***************************************************************************
Callore didn't stop until she spotted the mountains and the stream border to 'Pire Valley. The smell of wildflowers filled the air and the chitter-chatter of bird song could be heard all around. She spied a deer in the trees to her left and licked her lips. If it wasn't for Jake, that would be dinner tonight. She placed Jake on the ground and called the general, why are you thinking about food at a time like this. Her stomach grumbled as is to answer because I'm hungry. She shook her head and pictured the leader of the 'Pires in her mind's eye. in her mind and heard his voice.

"Good, I am glad you're back as I have bad news for Jake about his… Where is Jake?"

"He's been injured by the human."

"The human!

"Yes, he got the drop on him."

"How bad?" Eva whispered.

"I've sucked the poison out, but—" She turned her head away.

"Let me see him." The general growled.

Callore turned and looked at Jake. The general saw everything the humpire saw.

Eva placed her hand over her mouth. "My poor baby."

The general rubbed the back of his neck. "How far away from camp are you?"

Callore's brow ceased and she gazed around. "I am not far from the border now."

            "Right, I will send Adrian and a couple of 'Pires to meet you."

"Okay." She bit the bottom of her lip. "What is the news you wanted to tell me?"

Callore saw the general shake his head and thought she saw Eva in the corner of the hut with wet cheeks.

"It's nothing that can't wait."

Callore disconnected their minds, picked up Jake once more and jogged to the ravine which acted as a border for all creature world.

As she approached the water, she spotted a group of creatures and recognised Adrian. The group hurried to her side and two burly 'Pires took Jake from her.

"Be gentle, can't you," she cried. "He's lost a lot of blood."

They let him go and he slid to the ground.

Jake groaned.

"If you hurt him..." Callore bent down and wiped his brow with the cloth Adrian gave her.

One of the soldiers with white hair and a scar on his left cheek stepped forward. He bent down and scooped Jake into his muscular arms. "Don't worry,

Second in Command of the Wolfhound clan, I will take good care of him."

Callore smiled and nodded.

 He turned and, with the other soldiers, sprinted off in the direction of the camp.

Callore started to follow them, but Adrian put a hand on her shoulder. " Now Jake is taken care of, we need to talk, Honey."

Callore studied his face and raised her eyebrows.

"The general received some disturbing news yesterday. His son, Filtiam junior was out on patrol and ran into some vampires. Ella killed him and told the other wolf to tell the chief that was for her brother. The one his other grandchild killed."

The world spun and Callore gasped. "So, what is the general going to do?"

Adrian shook his head. "Well, the funeral is next week. The chief sent a message stating if Jake and the general want to attend, they are welcome, and no harm will fall on them for a set period. The General was waiting for you two to get back. He was going to leave tomorrow and hunt Ella down before going to the funeral, but now…" Adrian shrugged, "who knows. What with Jake being injured and everything else on his mind..."

Callore frowned. "What other things?"

Adrian shook his head. "Nothing for you to worry about. Let's concentrate on getting Jake well first."

Callore stared at Adrian and jerked her head in the direction of the camp. "Do you think you can fix him; quick?"

Adrian rubbed his chin. "Well, if the poison is all out, I guess I could try my new potion on him, but it is only in the experimental stages, so don't get your hopes up."

Callore bent down and kissed Adrian on the cheek. The elderly human went bright red and hid his face behind his hand.

"What would we do without our wizard?"

Adrian grinned. "Shh, don't tell the world. No one knows that except you. Not even the general and Eva know my secret. If they knew I wasn't a human and been banished from my kind…"

Callore pursed her lips. "Well, they won't hear it from me. As long as you keep my secret that is."

"Have you told Jake?"

Callore hung her head. "No, like you no one knows. I was sort of hoping I wouldn't have to tell them. I sort of hope, well the potion would be ready."

Adrian put his arm around Callore and hugged her. Ever since he'd first met her in the forest and she'd saved him from the council, He'd seen her as a daughter. If it weren't for her, he'd be in prison or worse by now. She'd bought him here, introduced him as a human and the general made him his wife's donor. "It needs testing and even then—"

Callore's bottom lip trembled. "Maybe the spark was a fluke, and this is all academic."

Adrian cocked his head to one side. "Maybe, but doubtful. Let us see if we can get your young 'pire fit for tomorrow and the journey ahead. Then we will deal with our other problem."

Callore rolled her eyes. "Okay. Jump on my back and let's go. It will take too long going at a human's pace unless we teleport." Her eyes twinkled.

Adrian smiled. "You bad girl. You know I can't do that here in case someone sees." He climbed onto her back. "Now, hurry up and let's see what we can do for your young friend."

Callore started to sprint and soon she became a blur in the distance.
 


Chapter 27
Chapter twenty-seven

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
The pair arrived at the campsite and made their way to the medical tent. A canvas hut in the right-hand corner of the 200-acre campsite with a picture of a creature with his head bandaged hung above the door on a big wooden sigh. Adrian pushed the flap and walked in followed by Callore. Jake lay on the bed and Callore walked up and bent over. He felt cold and clammy as she kissed his forehead. He opened his eyes, stared right through her and moaned.

"He's burning up. We need to give him the stuff, now!"  Callore whispered. "Have you got it with you?" She mopped his brow with a wet cloth. A drop of water trickled down his cheek.  "You're going to be ok, my love. Adrian will make you better, I promise."  She bit her bottom lip and a tear rolled down her face. "Can't you?"

In his mind's eye, he saw his beloved distressed. He tried to reach his hand up to her face to touch it, tell her things will be fine but he couldn't move, why can't I move. What is wrong with me? He felt his heart begin to race, smelt her sweet natural odour and tasted the dryness of his mouth. He could hear the weariness in her voice, but he couldn't feel her, touch her, hug her.

Adrian glanced at the door. "I don't know about this. It hasn't been tested yet and might do more harm than good." He stared at the vial in his hand and frowned. Adrian cleared his throat. "What if we kill him? What if we make him worse? How are we going to explain a wizard's potion away without telling them about me?" He took a deep breath. "Maybe we could wait, see if he gets better. He has healing powers. They might kick in, and –" 

Jake coughed and blood shot out of his mouth.

Callore grabbed the vial out of Adrian's hand. "We don't have a choice." She sat on the bed, put her elbow on his chest and grabbed his chin with her thumb and forefinger. She pulled down his chin, forced the vial into his mouth and with the other hand rubbed his throat.

Adrian paced up and down the room. "This might kill him. If I kill him, the General will kill me. How am I going to tell them I killed their son? They will ask what I gave him. How will I explain to them it's a potion I concocted? They will find out I'm a wizard—"

Callore stood up and put the bottle into her pocket. "He was going to die anyway. At least this way, he has a chance."

Jake twitched. He jumped around in the bed.

Callore giggled and Adrian glared at her.

"It's not funny," he whispered.

"Sorry, he just looks comical." She gulped and stared lowered her gaze.

            Jake sat up and fell backwards. His head hit the pillow and his tongue popped out and flopped to one side of his face.

Callore dropped to her knees by the bed and flung herself on top Jake's lifeless body. "My darling, what have I done," she cried.

"Have we killed him?" Adrian stammered.

Jake twitched and opened his eyes. He groaned. "What happened? Why can't I move? Am I paralysed?"

Callore smiled and wiped her tears. She released him and stood.

"Arr, that's better." He flexed his arms and, with his hands, pushed himself into a seated position. He glanced at Callore. "Why are you crying?"

"I thought... We thought..." Callore threw her hands around his neck and kissed him on the lips. "You were at death's door and I gave you this potion.

Adrian told me it might kill you but I..."

Jake's jaw dropped. "You gave me the potion anyway.

Callore crossed her arms. "Well, it was a long shot, but you would have died without it."

"I thought you sucked out all the poison. I vaguely remember you bending down and sucking my wound."

Callore shrugged and her a crease appeared on her forehead. "Thought I did but some must have got in your bloodstream."

Jake sighed. "Well, I suppose you did what you thought was best." He smiled.

Adrian cleared his throat. "I will inform the general of your recovery." He turned as the general and Eva entered the facility.

"How the hell!" The general's jaw dropped.

"Never mind, how," Eva ran to her son and hugged him. "He's alive. My boy is alive." She kissed his cheek repeatedly.

Jake turned red and tried to push her away. "Ah, mum. Please." He jerked his head towards Callore. "You're embarrassing me!"

Her husband frowned and scratched his head until he spotted the bottle behind Adrian's back and the sheepish grin on his face. "It's a miracle he gasped.

His hands covered his mouth to hind his grin.

Callore and Jake locked eyes.

I don't know why Adrian doesn't tell him he's a wizard. The general knows anyway.

Because Jaky boy he thinks the general will kick him out of the clan.

But this is absurd. He's Eva's donor, not to mention the general thinks of him as another son and confident. Maybe we should tell them each other knows?

Don't you dare? Adrian will never trust me again.

The general cleared his throat. "I am happy you are still with us, son, but we now have to discuss other more pressing matters."

"They killed Filtiam; that lousy blood-sucking, night crawling cowards killed your brother." Eva cried as a tear tricked down her cheek.

Jake pursed his lips and frowned. "Why?"

Eva covered her face with her hands. "They used the eye for an eye rule. You killed Ella's brother, so she kills yours."

Jake opened his mouth and his stomach lunged. He tasted bile in his mouth and swallowed. "It's all my fault."

The general shook his head. "No son. They wanted to kill him, and you were their excuse."

Jake scratched his head. "But, why? He was a good wolf and never wanted this war. It was the vampire king who—" he hung his head and lifted his eyes.

"Sorry mum, I forgot he's your dad and all.

Eva put her arm around his shoulders and gave him a squeeze. "I know what he's like. I want him dead for what he's done to this family as much as you do."

"He wants to show the werewolf chief that 'Pires and all those associated with them are the cause of this war. If he can get the werewolves on his side, his army will grow and we won't stand a chance of winning this war, "Adrian piped up.

The general nodded. "Yes, that's been his agenda all along. If we are fighting everyone, he thinks we will be torn and weak. Also, if he can get my father on his side maybe he's thinking the injection could wipe out the werewolf as well as turn all 'Pires into full blooded vampires.

Jake set his jaw and gazed at his father. "So, what do we do?"

"We need to try to get him in our corner or failing that to stay neutral. Randall has guaranteed our passage to and from the funeral, which is taking place in a week. I thought, if we leave tomorrow, we could hunt down Ella and kill her. If we can do that, it will show my dad we take care of the clan."

Jake frowned. "I thought he hated us. He threatened to kill us if we didn't join last time. Maybe this is a trap."

The general shook his head. "No, he hates vampires and Missimo. It was he who killed your mother and fed her to his clan. It's the injection that he is fighting against. He has no problem with us but more vampires... We must protect humans. That is our job. Even if they betray us. We are here to serve them. Vampires are like vermin. They need to kill humans. More vampires mean the extinction of humans and Randall can't let that happen."

"What about the death threat?" Jake raised an eyebrow. "I still think it could be a trap."

"He had to act tough in front of his pack. Ant sign of weakness and the young pups will try and overthrow him. Most of his pack love him but some think the world would be a better place without humans like some 'Pires think Missimo is right and I am an old fool thinking everyone can live in the same town."

Jake nodded. "And after; well, I never completed my mission."

Callore grinned. "When do we leave?"

The general sighed. "This time it will be best if just I and Jake go."

"But," Eva protested,

The general put his hands in the air. "I know. However, I think it might be safer. My dad has promised my boy safe passage and me he never mentioned you. Besides, you know my grandmother will blame you for this. I am surprised she agreed about us. No, I think it's better if you stay here."

"Why can't I go?" Callore cried. "Your clan treat me better than my peers."

The general hid his smile. "I think the two wolves you insulted might still be sore and I don't want them taking their revenge out on you. We will have enough on our hands without that as well."

Callore and Eva exchanged glances but didn't argue.

Adrian shuffled to Jake's side. "Well, if you two want to leave tomorrow night. I suggest you leave Jake to get some rest as he's a long journey ahead of him and needs some sleep."

Callore kissed Jake on his lips and left the room. Eva and the general walked out together.

Adrian walked towards the exit to decide for the journey into wolf territory and Filtiam, Jake's brother’s funeral.
 
 


Chapter 28
Twenty-eight

By dmt1967

CHAPTER  TWENTY-EIGHT
Jake woke and turned his head to the left. He spotted the general by his bedside, sat up, and groaned. "What time is it?"

The general frowned and licked his lips. "It's time to leave, but I don't think you should come." He wrinkled his thin eyebrows and Jake saw circles around his heavy-lidded moss-green eyes.

"I'm alright." He looked around the tent for signs of Adrian. "I don't know what he put in that potion, but it has cured me of most of the silver poisoning," he whispered.

The general nodded. "He is a great wizard."

"You do realise you two need to talk. All these secrets that everyone knows crap has got to stop."

The general tilted his head to one side. "I know, but it is his move to tell me and not mine to ask." He frowned. "Nice change of subject, though."

Jake gave a ruthful grin. "Did it work?"

"No. I still think you should sit this one out."

Jake swung his legs out of bed and stood. He swayed a little and held onto the older werewolf's arm. "I'm coming. Where's my clothes?"

The general shook his head. "You're not strong enough. Look at you, you can't even stand!"

The young 'pire shook his head and staggered to the big oak chest at the foot of his bunk. He opened it and shuddered at the sight of Jason's Guns and

Roses t-shirt. You had so much more to give, my friend. "I-I will meet you by the divided river in an hour."

The general threw his hands in the air and muttered under his breath, "well I tried," He stormed out of the hut.

Jake pulled his t-shirt over his head. The smell of Jason hit him like a hammer and the vision of his blond-haired, blue-eyed friend popped into his head.

He sniffed and fought back the tears that welled in his eyes. I don't have time for this. He grabbed his chameleon jumpsuit and put it on over the t-shirt and exited the tent.

The wind whistled over the stones in the ravine and the blades of grass on the riverbed swayed to and fro. A bear cub ventured out of a cave to Jake's right and gazed at him. His silhouette appeared on the limestone walls.  A roar came from the cave and the cub turned and scampered away. Jake sneezed at the dust.

He spotted the General in his black uniform with gold buttons on his blazer and medals, in a line, across his chest. On his left-hand shoulder an embossed badge with the words, PROTECTOR OF JUSTICE, around the edge. He jogged up to him "Ready to go, sir."

"I still think we should come with you," said a familiar voice.

Jake spun around and saw Callore and Eva as they approached. His heart beat faster and he sighed. Will it always be this intense? Therefore, I'm here, fighting, so the family I have now and the family I'm going to have can live in peace.

Callore's cheeks flushed, and emerald eyes glued on Jake, smiled and waved.

The general smiled and hugged his wife. "Don't worry, my love. I will take good care of him."

"I have packed enough food and milk for the journey. I have also packed your sword, just encase of trouble." Eva handed the two rucksacks to her husband. She bit her red lips and clung to him.
    
        He held and kissed her pale-skinned forehead. "There won't be any trouble. Father has given his word."

Eva's jaw set. "I don't care. I'm sure Jake has his all-in-one sword and gun encases as well."

Jake gave a curt nod.

Eva smiled. "See."

The general smiled. "Alright, if it will please you."  

Callore threw herself into Jake's arms and held him. He cupped his hand, lifted her chin, and kissed her on the lips. "When I get back, I want to ask you something."

She lifted her head and frowned. "What is it, my love? You can ask me anything."

Jake glanced over at his parents and shook his head. "No, it can wait till I get back."

"What if you don't come back?" She hung her head.

"What." He cupped one hand, lifted her head and stared into her eyes. "Fate wouldn't be that cruel."

She threw her arms around his neck and held on. "Oh, Jake. I love you so much. Be careful, please."

The movement took Jake by surprise and he took a sharp intake of breath. His parents glanced at him concerned. "Are you alright, Son? "Eva asked.

Jake nodded; his cheeks flushed. Callore laughed with a twinkle in her eyes.

The general slung his bag over his shoulder. "Come on, we'd better get going otherwise we'll never reach Wolf Orchid."  He jumped into the warm water and started to wade over to the opposite bank.

Jake glanced over his shoulder, smiled, and followed. He looked down and saw a different colour pebbles underfoot and smiled. The waters are sure to clear around here. Every river, lake or puddle I have come across looks so pure. A school of tiny fish swam between his toes and Jake tittered.

The general turned and frowned. "Are you alright?"

Jake cleared his throat. "Fine. Eh, will we go past home on our way back to Wolf Orchard?"

The general shook his head. "Not if we go over the mountain and cut through the forest. It's more dangerous, but quicker."

Jake nodded his head and the two clambered out of the river and set off in the direction of the general's old clan.
                                                *  *  *
They walked side by side, across the desert which acted as Creature World's borders. The golden sand felt firm underfoot and Jake cringed at the sight of animal bones scattered across the vast wilderness. A coyote howled in the distance and a buzzard flew over his head. The air, hot and dusty, caught in his throat and he coughed. Jake's eyes spotted a hare pop it's head out of a sand dune and sighed. He still couldn't fathom how the scenery could change so fast. We went from a nice green environment with life around every corner to this nothingness by just crossing the river.

The general gave his son a sideways glance. "Am I going too fast? Do you want to rest?"

Jake shook his head. "No, I'm okay."

His dad grinned. "You thinking about Callore? Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be fine until you get back."

Jake felt his face heat up and dropped his gaze. "How did this part of Creature World get its name?"

The general smiled at his son's hasty change of topic. "When the treaty still held the creatures decided to dedicate a piece of land as a safe place. No hunting, killing, fighting; Well, you get the picture. When the vampires started to invade and conquer other creatures' territory, for some reason, they kept to this agreement. I want a community like this. Every state in America and every county in Britain will have a town where humans and creatures can live side by side." He shrugged. "Well, that's the dream and why it's so important we win this war." 

Jake took one more step and heard the crunch of pebbles and stones underfoot. He looked around at the trees and bushes of Vampire forest. He sniffed the air and sweetpeas filled his nostrils instead of sand. He heard a cuckoo in the distance and the scurry of tiny feet as a squirrel scampered up a tree.

 The general stopped and looked at the sky. "It will be light soon. Do you want to rest here until dusk and decide which way we go in the morning? The vampire camp is through the trees and the werewolf camp is the opposite way."

Jake scratched his head. "I thought we were going to find Ella and make her pay?"

"We might have to do that afterwards. It took us longer than expected to get this far and I don't want to miss your brother’s funeral."

"Well, we could—"

The general placed a hand on his shoulder. "Shh, can you hear that?"

Jake listened. "No, I… wait is that whistling?"

The general pulled him behind a tree and peered around the trunk. He gasped and turned to Jake. "You'll never guess who's coming along the path."

Jake frowned. "Who?"

"Ella and she's alone."

A tall creature with a pointed nose and weak chin came into view. She wore a leather one-piece suit and carried a big sword in her long-fingered hands.

Jake stared and curled his lip. He gazed upward and saw a glimmer of sunshine poke through the clouds. "But it's light. Won't she burn or blister or whatever they do?"

The general grinned. "Did I ever tell you the twins were smart? They are drunken thugs. Even their own kind don't like them."

Jake cocked his head to one side. "So, what do you want to do?"

"Well, if the spirits are looking favourably on us who am I to argue," he whispered before he stepped out from behind the tree. "Hello Ella," he growled.

Ella spun around and peered at the general. "Who are you?"

"Don't you recognize me?"

Ella stood still. She felt a tremor go through her body. "Sure, Eva's husband." She turned to flee, but Jake blocked her way.

"We've never met, but I knew your brother," Jake's hands shook.

"Look, I avenged my brother. I acted in the law. The law clearly states that if someone kills your kin you have the right to kill theirs," she hissed.

Jake smiled, but his eyes were as cold and as hard as iron. "So that means I can kill you."

Ella started to shake. "Look, there are two of you and the sun is coming up. This is hardly a fair fight."

The general took to strides towards her and lifted her up by her shirtfront. He pulled her to him and snarled. "Like you gave my son. I hear there were ten of you and you pulled him to pieces,"

Jake put his hand on his dad's arm. "But we will be fairer than your lot. I will fight you. If you win, you are free to go, but –"

The general threw Ella against a tree and turned to his son. "Are you sure? I will fight her, you're not strong enough," he whispered.

Jake shook his head. "No, dad. It is my fault Filtiam is dead. I killed her brother. It should have been me they tore apart, me in the coffin, me me me." He clenched his hands into fists and his face contorted.

The general nodded. He turned to Ella, "Okay, Jake will use his stake sword and I take it you've got your own weapon?"

Ella nodded, dropped her sword, and pulled out a wooden dagger with silver tipped ends.

The general beckoned both opponents to him. Each stood either side of him. He picked up a few boulders and placed them in a square. "Right, you will fight in this square. The first creature to step out of the space or be killed is the loser," He stepped away from the pair. "BEGIN."

Jake stabbed at Ella, but the vampire blocked him and snapped at his leg. He rolled away from her just in time. They both jumped up and circled one another. The two spared for a while until Jake let his guard down and Ella saw her opportunity to finish him and took it. She dived on him, held her knife above her head and thrust it in a downward motion into his heart. Jake pushed her off and scrambled into an upright position. Ella fell against one of the boulders and lay there. Jake approached her to finish the job; He bent over her just as she grabbed a handful of gravel and threw it in his face. Jake sputtered and staggered back. Ella jumped to her feet and tried to plunge her dagger into his shoulder. He blocked her and stabbed at the air. Still blinded by the gravel, he threw his sword in her general direction and heard a grunt then nothing. He rubbed his eyes and saw Ella on the ground a pool of blood around her lifeless body.
  
          I am not falling for that again. He crept closer and kicked her body, but still nothing.

He turned towards the general.

How did I do that?

The general walked over, pulled his son's sword out of her belt and cut off her head. "Poetic justice," he spat. Instinct. You sensed her presence, anticipated her next move and compensated where she would be when you threw the sword. You are truly The Assassin. 

Jake sat on the gravel path and put his head in his hands.

The general patted him on the shoulder. "Are you alright, son?"

Jake shook his head. But she blinded me, I couldn't see.

The General shrugged. You used your other senses. Like a blind or deaf human, when one sense is made redundant, the others heighten. He smiled. Unlike humans, we have seven senses and our senses are far more advanced than humans. Not only can we see for miles, our hearing, but touch and taste buds are also far greater than anything living on this planet. We also have perception and instinct.

Jake pressed his lips together. But to kill her blind by throwing the sword... Hitting an arm, leg... but a killer shot..."

The general walked over to Jake and patted his shoulder. It is what it is.

Jake gazed up at his dad and sighed. "We better get going otherwise we're going to be late for the funeral.

Jake turned. He didn't see his father spit on Ella's body or take his dagger from behind his back and place it back into his shoulder belt sheath before he buried her head under a bush, or notice the small stab wound between her kidneys which penetrated her heart. 
 


Chapter 29
Chapter twenty-nine

By dmt1967

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

The pair crossed over into Wolf Orchard. Jake's nose twitched at the smell of ripened oranges and lemons. His sharp eyes caught a glimpse of cricket as it hopped from one blade of grass to another. The ground felt softer underfoot and Jake's sensitive ears picked up the sound of a bird in flight, and something else. What is that sound?  Jake stopped and his hair stood on end, footsteps.

The bushes parted and a pack of dogs came through. They formed a circle around the father and son team and growled. Jake stood with his feet apart, ready to fight.

The animals raised their front paws as if to beg, their fur disappeared from around their faces and they looked almost human, apart from the pointed ears and sharp teeth. They all wore grey blazers with one, two, or three stripes on the front of their uniform. Embossed on the shoulder, under their rank, Jake saw a badge of a human and white wolf in an unreadable written border within a shield. The circle parted and a familiar face came forward. "Hello, son.

So glad you could make it."

The general shook his father's hand. "Nice reception."

The older werewolf shrugged. "We had to make sure it wasn't vampires. Deceitful creatures are not obeying the treaty rules and hunting here and the human town." He shrugged. "Especially, Ella."

The general gripped his father's hand tighter. "You won't see her ever again, Pappy."

Randall let go of his son's hand and nodded his head. "You?"

The general shook his head. "Jake."

Randall walked over to his grandson and put his hands on his shoulders. "You have done well my young pup."

He turned and started to walk back through the bushes. His pack formed a line and followed him. "Come," he called over his shoulder, "you must want to freshen up before the funeral, say hello to your grandmother and pay your respects to your fallen brother."

The group marched through the forest with its tall trees and the smell of citrus fruit in the air until Jake spotted a golden glow in the distance. The trees parted, and Jake whistled. Wooden huts which resembled dog kennels with the same written message above every door formed a big square around a fire with a spit with a big deer across it. "I thought werewolves only ate raw stuff," Jake whispered out of the corner of his mouth to his father.

The general lowered his eyes. "They do except for death. We cook the meat to honour the dead and tell stories around a campfire. It is tradition past down from generation to generation since we became the protectors of humanity. The clan believes we share the stars with humans, and they don't eat raw meat."

Jake jerked his head towards one of the huts. "What does that say?"

"Altor Aequitas."

Jake frowned.

The general sighed. "It's Latin. It is the wolfhound's pack motto. It means, protector of justice. Didn't they teach you anything in that human school of yours?"

"Not Latin."

"Latin is a traditional language. Cubs learn it as soon as they can howl—"

"— at the moon."

The general grinned and shook his head. "No. Why would we get them to howl at the moon? The howl is a war cry. It is a beacon to other members of the same clan to send help. It is our equivalent of the humans S.O.S. Why would we ask the moon for help? It can't fly down and come to our aid," he whispered.  

Before Jake could reply the pack of wolves peeled off and the trio carried on into the campsite. Randall led them to a black hut and pushed the door open. The group walked in and Jake saw an empty room except for a box made of fur in a corner of it. A woman with a light-brown stubble all over her body and a wild honey-coloured mane glared at Jake with deep-set brown eyes and raised her arched eyebrows. She wriggled her snub nose and pursed her narrow lips together and sat on a stool next to it, her hand clamped onto the side. She whimpered and Jake saw her cheeks were wet.

"Hello, Grandma," the general whispered.

The woman's slender body shifted in her chair and she snarled. "What the hell are you doing here?"

The general shuffled his feet. "I've come to bury my son."

She rose from her seat and faced her son. "Why? You didn't want to know him when he was alive. You chose that creature over him, over us. I would think you would have better sense, especially after what happened to your mother." She spotted Jake. "And you bought your half-baked son with you."

She pointed a finger at Jake. "This is your fault. You and your kind shouldn't be alive. You left, Filtiam, what makes you think you can come back?"

She swayed and Randall, the general's father, ran to his mother's aid. He lifted her up and carried her back to her seat by the coffin. "It's his son, Accalia. I invited him and Jake to see him buried. He would have wanted it that way."

Accalia waved her hand towards the coffin. "Go pay your respects, then," she spat the last word out.

The general bowed and walked towards the coffin; Jake followed.

"What happened to Grandma?" Jake whispered.

The general jutted out his chin. "The vampire king caught her hunting one night." He clenched his hands into fists. "They raped and killed her." He stared ahead and his usually warm eyes turned ice blue. "But, not content with that, they devoured her and dropped her at the borderline of Wolf Orchard. Two patrol cubs found her." He stopped and turned to face Jake with unfocused eyes. "These cubs, not much older than you; it scarred them for life, her half-eaten corpse. My father eh, he—" The general turned away and walked towards the coffin.  
  
          They both looked at the body. Filtiam face shone and he looked asleep. His hair shaved and his nails cut, he looked like any young man cut down in the prime of his life.

"I thought they tore him to pieces," Jake whispered.

Randall overheard his grandson. "They did, but we hunted for his parts and our surgeon stitched him back together again." 

Jake heard a noise behind him and turned. "Hi there, Jake. I thought you were dead," a voice said from the doorway.
                                                   *  *  *
Derek entered the room and made his way towards the coffin. The general scowled and moved towards him, but Accalia flew off her seat and stood between the two. "Don't you touch him? He's been there for us through all this. He is part of the clan now and I forbid you to hurt him."

"He nearly killed Jake," the general snarled.

Accalia glanced over her shoulder and shrugged. "So, be doing the world a favour if he succeeded."

Randall took a step back. "Accalia, you don't mean that. He turned to Jake. "She didn't mean that. She's upset and we all say things when we're upset."

Accalia waved her hand in the air. "Whatever. Now if you don't mind Derek and I have to get him ready for burial."

Jake and his father bowed and walked out. Randall followed them. The trio stood outside the room in silence. Four wolfmen approached in grey blazers with a black band around their upper arm bowed and entered the hut. They emerged moments later with the box on their shoulders, Derek, and Accalia in tow. The trio fell into line behind them. As they shuffled around camp, the rest of the clan joined them. The procession made their way out of camp and into the woods. They walked until they came to a clearing with a hole dug in the middle. The clan formed a circle around the hole and turned their backs to it. The two who carried the coffin placed it into the ground and the men around the hole got on all fours and started to kick the dirt back in with their hind legs.

The wolves stopped after a while and Accalia walked forward. With her talon fingernails, dug a small hole in the centre of the grave. She placed a rose bush in it and patted the earth around it. She stood, bowed her head, and turned away. The rest of the clan formed a line and one by one walked up to the grave and urinated on it. They turned towards Randall and the others, bowed and formed a line either side of them. Every wolf threw back their heads and howled.

Randall pushed Jake forward. "Go on it's your turn."

Jake shuffled forward and stood by the grave, he turned bright red as he unzipped his jeans and pissed on the grave. He looked up and saw Derek grin at him. He's thinking of the time he humiliated me in front of his friends. Jake stuffed his privates back into his trousers and walked away.

The general ran after him. "You alright?"

Jake nodded. "Just remembering something from my past." He changed the subject. "You showed your respects?"

His father nodded. "Yes, the chief has said we can stay the night and leave first thing in the morning. I agreed, but I think we will wait until everyone is asleep and sneak out."

Jake scratched his head. "Why? You think grandfather might go back on his word about the safe passage?"

The general shook his head. "No, a wolfhound word is sacred, but they will not let us take Derek with us. He is part of the clan and if we try to take him by force, we will have to fight the whole army. However, if we leave when all are asleep and take him, by the time they find out we will be back in the valley with our prize. Moreover, once there, we can discuss whether he lives or dies.
 


Chapter 30
Chapter thirty

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THIRTY
He took Callore in his arms and bent down. Their lips touched as he caressed her breast and moaned as her hand slid down his shorts. She stares at him; her eyes open wide. "Why have you got a slit-like me and not a penis?" She backs away and he can hear Derek's voice in the background, "Ape boy is a freak."  

"Jake wake up, it's time to go." The general whispered.

"What," he stammered as he opened one eye.

The general crept to the door, opened it a jar and peered out. "It's all clear. Derek's sleeping quarters are at the other end of the compound. I asked one of the pack. He sleeps alone."

Jake nodded and followed his dad out of the door. The moonbeam gave the pair enough light to make out a building at the far end of the compound and the two of them used the rest of the huts as cover while they made their way towards their target. The castle loomed in the distance, its tower silhouette in the moons light stream. The trees around the campsite where the funeral took place whooshed in the breeze and an owl hooted.

The general slid around the back of the hut and studied the area. He motioned to Jake to enter the hut. Jake pushed the door and slid inside, followed by the general. He took one last look outside before he closed the door and joined Jake beside Derek's bed.

"Derek stirred and turned on his side. Jake froze and the general moved to the other side of the bed. He stuck three fingers in the air and folded them one by one. When the final finger folded, he grabbed Derek's arm while Jake covered his mouth.         

The boy's eyes shot open and he stared at Jake. He tried to scream but couldn't. He tried to struggle, but the pair held him too tight. Derek gave up after a few minutes and lay still. His eyes darted from one to the other of his captives.

"Now, if you're a good boy, my son here will take his hand away from your mouth and we can all walk out of here, but if you're not…" he left the threat unsaid.

Derek nodded and Jake began to remove his hand. The boy opened his mouth to scream, but the general spotted this just in time, clenched his fist and pull his arm back. He hit Derek as the boy sat up and knocked him out.

Jake glanced at his father. "Well, I did warn him. Anyway, we don't have time for games. We need to go, and we need to go now!"

The general marched to the door and opened it a fraction. "The coast is clear, pick the boy up and let's go."

The young 'pire nodded and threw off the covers. He gasped and the general glanced over his shoulder. "What's up?"

"He's naked," Jake whispered as he hunted around for some clothes,

The general sighed. "We haven't got time for that. Come on." He slipped outside and held the door open for Jake.

Jake gazed down at Derek and sighed. He picked the boy up; well it's your own fault. If you'd behaved; and followed the older werewolf out of the hut and into the cool night air.

The pair ran for the trees and soon disappeared. They ran until they hit the border between wolf territory and Vampire country. I wonder what we look like.

Does the human eye only see a shimmer or feel a breeze. I must ask Callore when we get back.

The general slowed down and came to a stop beside a very tall tree. They don't see or feel anything. To anybody who is not magical or creature-like, we disappear. To everyone else, we are moving at normal speed.

Jake skidded to a stop beside him and dropped Derek on the ground.

The boy stirred and sat up, he rubbed his jaw, and "What hit me?" he stammered.

 The general bent over the boy "That would be me." 

Derek shuffled back and felt something prick him. He looked at his naked body and winched. "Couldn't you let me get dressed first?"

Jake raised his eyebrows. "Well, if you were a good boy we would have, but no, you had to go and try and scream. I tried to find your clothes but couldn't and we didn't have time to hunt for them."

The general gazed up at the orange sunrise on the horizon. "It should be daybreak in about an hour or so. We should be safe enough here. The clan won't cross the border and the vampires will soon be asleep. We can camp here for a while. Will you be alright with him while I hunt for some food?"

Jake nodded.

"Keep your eyes peeled for vampires. I know most will be asleep but still better to be safe than sorry." The general turned and sprinted into the forest.

Jake heard a rustle and jumped up. He braced himself, ready to fight or flee. Derek opened his mouth to speak.

Jake put his index finger to his lips. "Shh, I heard something."

The noise got nearer. The bushes to their left parted and a fox scurried across their path.

Both boys let out a long sigh.

Jake pricked up his ears at the sound of a river nearby and the smell of clean fresh air tickled his sensitive nose.

Derek shivered. "Have a heart, Jake. You must have a blanket or something just so I can cover up my; you know."

Jake looked the boy up and down. He laughed. "What don't tell me you're embarrassed, humiliated, even."

Derek glared at his enemy. "So, it's come to this. This had nothing to do with not having the time, but more to do with payback."

Jake shook his head. "Actually, I did look for your clothes. I'm not like you and if this was payback… Well, Callore would be here jerking you off and a few of my friends would be holding you down."

Derek looked away. "You don't need anyone to hold me down. You're as strong as a hundred men and more. I only picked on you because; well I fancied you and I couldn't admit it. My dad would have killed me if he found out I was gay."

Jake walked closer to Derek and grabbed his throat. He picked him up and held him against the tree. "So, you made my life hell because you fancied me," he yelled in the boy's face.

Derek kicked out but never made contact. The boy trembled and Jake smelt a bad odour in the air. He looked down and saw a yellow liquid run down the boy's leg.

Jake heard a noise behind him, dropped Derek and turned around.

"It will have to be rabbit I'm afraid," The general said as he emerged from behind a tree. He sniffed the air and wriggled his nose. "What's that horrible smell?"  

Jake jerked his head in Derek's direction. "It's him."

The general shook his head. "I can't eat with a smell like that under my nose." He dropped the dead animals, strode over to Derek and picked him up by his hands as if he would a deer. "Will you deal with dinner while I deal with this stinky child?"

Jake nodded and laughed as he saw a hot flush appear on Derek's cheeks. Maybe I am no better than Derek is, but I sure wish all the kids he ever bullied could see him now.

Jake made a fire, found two long sticks and, with ahis diamond-encrusted dagger, carved each end into a point. He skinned threaded the rabbits on to it.

Jake studied the ground and found two fork-shaped sticks and stuck each one into the ground, either side of the fire. He placed the threaded rabbits on to it and turned them every so often. 

"That was good timing," He said as the general and a very wet Derek appeared in the clearing. "I see you've given him a blanket."

The general nodded. "Well I didn't want his naked body spoiling my dinner," he laughed.

Derek sat down and Jake handed him some food. He devoured it and wiped his mouth with his hand.

"W-what are y-you going t-to do w-with me?" Derek pulled the blanket tightly around himself.

"The general looked up from the rabbit and frowned. "I know what I'd like to do to you, running off like that."

Jake raised an eyebrow.

"We have two options; we can either kill you or send you back to where you came from. If you leave the creature kingdom, you will never find it again.

The only people who can locate us are a few human beings in forest town and they won't help you as they are our friends."

Derek lowered his head. "You can't send me back. I don't have anything back there. Take me back with you. I won't run away again. I promise."

The general stood. "Not possible. You betrayed us and tried to kill Jake. My family will not accept you again. Some humans can't be trusted, you can't be trusted." He turned to Jake. "We need to rest awhile. We will sleep here for the rest of the night and start our journey again in the morning when the nightcrawlers are asleep."

Jake moved towards Derek to lift him into the tree, but the general shook his head. "Leave him on the ground and save your energy for the journey ahead."

Jake's jaw dropped. "What if he escapes?"

The general shrugged. "Where can he go? The boy has no clothes or shoes. Besides, if he does runoff, we are in vampire country. The vampires will take great delight in torturing him before they kill him and suck out his blood. But you never know, they might keep him alive for a few months while they play with him." The general noticed the blood drain from the boy's face and a twinkle appeared in his eyes. He pinched Derek's cheeks, "So my suggestion is don't run off, otherwise we will leave you to their mercy and vampires ain't got none of that believes me.
 


Chapter 31
Chapter thirty-one

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE
Jake felt the sun on his face and opened one eye. He yawned and jumped down from the tree. He looked around for Derek but couldn't see him. He spotted the blanket on the floor and cursed. He called up to the general who joined Jake on the ground.

"What's up?"

"Derek's escaped."

The general cursed. "Is that boy stupid or something! I warned him."

Jake shrugged. "Maybe he's done us a favour. I mean if they kill him, well we don't have to."

The general sighed. "I guess so, but—"

The pair froze as they heard laughter not far from where they stood. The laughter turned to jeers and the general sighed once more and ran towards the noise with Jake not far behind.

They came upon a campsite in the middle of the forest. The noise came from a big dome tent in the middle. They studied the woods for signs of life but saw nothing. The pair lowered their heads and ran to the tent. They crept around it, spotted a plastic window and peered in. Jake gawped as he saw

Derek tied to a chair and a group of young vampires with sticks around him. Three embroidered double gunslinger belts hung on pegs clipped to the roof

"What do we do? Fight them? Rescue him? What?" He hissed.

The general shrugged. "There's nothing we can do. We can't fight them all. They will rip us apart."

"But we can't just leave him there!" Jake cried.

"Shh, they'll hear us." He peeked in at the window again, but the vampires were too busy to hear anything other than their laughter. 

"So, what shall we do with this fine specimen of a human male, ladies?" A young male buck in frilly shirt and black trousers jeered. Jake spotted three black coats with red lining slung over a wooden chair.

One of the women, a scare on her otherwise perfect face, stared at Derek up and down. "I want to examine that, Charlie, but he keeps trying to hide It," she whined.

Charlie whispered in Derek's hear and the pair outside heard him cry. He removed his hands from his lower parts and the girl took it in her hands and pulled. Derek yelped in pain.

Charlie grinned and scolded the girl. "Now Mary, he is human. They need delicate care. Hassorev explained this before they killed him. This human was his, I think. He said he'd had fun with a human at camp."

"Why can't we use our real names?" another girl whined.

"Because he won't be able to pronounce them when he begs us to spare his life."

The vampire is known as Mary scoffed. "He will welcome death if the vampire king gets his hands on him."

Charlie smiled. "Yes, uncle will make him talk, but we won't be able to play with him if uncle gets him."

Mary shook her head. "What are we going to do with him?"

Charlie shrugged. "Kill him, eat him, and suck his blood."

Mary bent down and took hold of Derek's face. He shrunk in the chair as she lifted it up. "You know for a human, he's really cute, it's a pity we have to kill him. Hassorev had a lot of fun with this one."

Charlie yawned. "I'm tired. Mary. As you like him so much, do you want to do the honours?"

Mary smiled and bent down. "I will make this as painless as possible," she whispered in his ear before she sunk her fangs in his throat and tore it out.

Jake gagged and turned away. The air filled with the smell of fresh blood as it sprayed from the open wound in his neck. Jake could feel the bile rise from his stomach to his own throat and he swallowed and forced the thick nasty liquid back down. The small hairs on the back of his neck tingled and a cold hand gripped his heart. No, no, no.

"You can't do anything for him now, Jake."

Jake turned and stared at his father. "We can't just leave him!" He stood and took a step towards the tent.

The general caught his arm and pulled him down just as the vampire called Molly turned her head. "Getting caught and killed ourselves doesn't help anybody. There is nothing we can do except escape." He pulled Jake into the safety of the dense forest and away from the carnage.

 Jake's legs picked up speed. He felt the air whizz past his cheeks, the mud, and stones under his feet and the wind whistle in his ears. The image of

Derek's lifeless body began to fade as he ran faster and faster. A new picture formed: Callore.
                                                            *  *  *
 
Callore pushed open the door of Adrian's shack and walked in. A bed stood in the right-hand corner of the room with a chair and table in the middle and an armchair situated at the back. To the left stood two electric sliding doors which she walked through. She looked around his lab with his three lab tables, countless tubes, and vials with different coloured liquid and the countless Bunsen burners scattered around the room. She spotted a foot behind his lab table and cleared her throat.

Adrian jumped up and hit his head. He pulled his white cloak around him. "No, it's not ready yet," he grumbled as he rubbed the back of his head with his palm. "I told you I will call if it was."

Callore, in her red uniform, wrung her hands and paced up and down the room. "What am I going to do? I'll have to tell him if I can't stop it happening."    

Adrian sighed, walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "I think, even if I can find a cure, you'll have to tell him.  He saw her face drop and tears run down her cheeks. Adrian pulled her to him and gave her a hug. "It won't be as bad as all that. He will understand, I am sure of it. You are third in command and the generals left-hand. It's about time you acted like it."

Callore raised her head from his shoulder and sniffed. "You really think so?"

Adrian nodded. "Yes, and now—" He heard a noise. "Well, you will get your chance as I do believe that is the bell saying the Warriors are home."

Callore smiled and ran out of the door.

Adrian turned back towards his desk, I hope he understands, or maybe she'll be lucky, and he won't be the one.
                                        *  *  *
Jake stopped and peered at 'Pire Valley in the distance. It hasn't changed. The tall blades of green grass swayed in the breeze as creatures of all description in their brown tunics and combat pants swarmed the area surrounded by mountains. Jake cocked his head to one side as the pleasant sound of the stream at the far end of the dog kennel huts situated each side of a muddy pathway with a row of trees behind each hut.

His father came to a halt beside him.

The general scratched his head. "Why have you stopped? We are nearly there."

Jake gazed at his father and sighed. "Dad, can we talk?"

The general took a step back. "Yes, son. Is this about what happened to Derek? That wasn't your fault you know. You—"

"Derek; no dad, this is personal."

The general turned towards Jake and nodded. "Go on son, what is it?"

Jake took a deep breath. "I want to ask Callore to marry me, but—"

The general grinned. "That's wonderful. Your mother will be pleased. She thinks a lot about that young—"

Jake threw his hands in the air. "That's not what I wanted to talk to you about. I have a secret and—"

"Well, a lot of our kind have this problem. I wouldn't worry about that."

Jake frowned. "Are what?"

"Bisexual."

Jake screwed up his face. "Dad: no: why would you think that?"

The general dropped his gaze. "Well you and Jason were pretty close, and I could see he loved you." He shrugged. I just thought—"

Jake ran his fingers through his hair. "No Dad. I'm not bi, I'm transsexual. That means I want to be—"

"-- female, yes I know."

Jake braced himself for the onslaught of abuse, but none came. He glanced at his father and saw a smile appear.

The general threw his head back and roared with laughter. "Is that all. Most 'Werepires go through this in puberty. Because of your mixed race, you are born unisex. Most of your peers decide their sex due to the traits they discover during their early teenage years. It's the wolf in you. Not all 'Pires have that choice.

Jake's jaw dropped. "So is Callore the same?"

The general shook his head. "She is half human and they are very different." He saw Jake's head drop. "But I'm sure she will understand."

"So, I can change sex, then?"

Again, the general shook his head. "No, you are too old now, but maybe Adrian will be able to come up with a potion."

Jake rubbed his chin. "Adrian?"

The general winked and a smirked appeared on his hairy face. "Yes, he's a wizard. Silly man thinks I don't know." He rolled his eyes. "We knew ever since Callore found him half-starved in the forest. He thinks if we found out, we'd banish him. Maybe we would have, in the earlier days, but not now. He has shown this family more love and devotion than our own family has. Whatever he was then, he's one of us now."

Jake smiled and put his hand on his father's shoulder. "We are almost home. Race you to—" The general started to sprint. "Hey, cheat," Jake called after his dad, as he ran to keep up.
 


Chapter 32
Chapter thirty-two

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
Callore launched herself at Jake. He lifted her in the air and spun her around. "How is my girl?"

Callore glanced at the general as he scooped Eva up in his arms. Their eyes met and he nodded.

"Mission complete?" She asked.

Jake nodded and took her hand. "Can we go somewhere and talk? I need to ask you something."

Callore's heart fluttered. She grabbed his hand and led him to her private barracks. She opened the door and they both walked in. The door slammed behind them as she pushed him towards the bed.

"We need to talk," Jake pleaded.

She nodded as she ripped open his shirt and threw him on the bed.

"Please, I need to ask you…"

She grasped his zip with her teeth and tore his jeans in half before she spat the material in her mouth on the floor.

"I need to…"

She reached into his boxers and caressed his penis. She ran her tongue up and down the length of it,

"Look, please I need to…"

She clamped her mouth over the head of the penis and bit it. Blood trickled out of the bite and she cleaned the wound with her tongue. Jake moaned, rolled over and straggled her. He pinned her wrists with his hands and lowered his head until he crushed her lips with his. He entered her and pumped her until she begged him to stop. He kissed her once more before he rolled off her and lay on his back.

She turned her head and smiled. "That was—" She clutched her stomach, scrambled out of bed and dived into the toilet.

Jake's eyes nearly popped out of his head as he noticed the trail of blood, which followed her. He jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom door. He knocked. "Are you alright, my sweet? What a stupid question to ask.

Callore opened the door and fell into his arms. He helped her back to bed and she smiled at him. "You're the one."

Jake frowned. "I'm what?"

Callore stood and hugged him. "You're the one, my soulmate. I'm pregnant."

Jake's bottom jaw wobbled. He grinned and held her tight. "That's wonderful news…"

Callore gave him a sad smile. "It might not when I tell you—"

Jake shook his hand in the air. "Will you marry me?" he blurted out.

She jumped in his arms and they both fell on the bed.

He grinned. "I take that as a yes. Now, what was it you wanted to tell me?"

She found his lips with hers and kissed him. "That can wait my love. Now, how about round two…"
                                                     *  *  *
The general stood by the window and stared out of his big bay window. The pink curtains swayed in the breeze, his wife's touch. The door opened with a creak and his son entered.

The general turned. "I need you to go to Essex." His hairs bristled and his eyes glowed red.

Jake frowned, why is he so angry? Have I done something wrong?

The general forced a smile and shook his head. "No, Jake. It is not you." He walked to his swivel chair and slid into the seat. "We have been betrayed, or rather—" he lowered his eyes—" or rather your mother, Eva has."

Jake's jaw dropped and he ran around the desk and placed an arm on his dads' shoulder. "How? Why? When?"

The general gazed up at his son and patted the back of his hand. "When we ran away, we weren't alone. The vampire king's brother came with us." He hit the big wooden table in front of him and the room vibrated.

"I have a great uncle!" Jake 's eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped.

The general nodded. "He was like a father to Eva and basically bought her up."

"Where is he? Why haven't I met him?"

The general ran his long fingernails through his deep, wavy, brown mane. "There was a raid. We were out hunting, and a group of vampires jumped us.

They took him. We thought they killed him—"

"But—"

"We found out he betrayed us." The general spat on the floor and Jake felt his hand clench into a fist. He pulled his hand away and slammed it onto his solid wooden desk.  "He wasn't on our side. He was sent to spy on us by The Vampire King." The general's body shook, and his hands formed fists. "Her own father sent his brother; even though he knew how much that man meant to her; even though he knew the impact his betrayal would have on her—"

I've never seen him like this. He is usually so composed and calm. Jake shuffled his feet and gave a little cough.

The general took a deep breath. "I am sorry, Son." He unclenched his hands, took another deep breath and, blinked. He turned his head and locked eyes with Jake. "I want you to go to Essex and kill him. But be careful. He might be old, but he taught Eva everything she knows."

Jake's hand poised over the gold brass doorknob, "I'll go and collect Callore—"

"Not this time, Son. Callore is needed here. You are on your own for this one."

Jake opened the door. "Yes, Sir," he barked over his shoulder as he left the room.

The general stood and walked back to the window. "And be careful. I don't want to tell two women I sent you on a dangerous mission by yourself and you got hurt or worse." A shudder ran down his spine at the very thought.  

END OF PART ONE
 


Chapter 33
Part 2 of differences

By dmt1967

PART 2
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
Jake gasped as he doubled up and fell on the hard 20 Arce stone chipped ground where his advanced assassin training took place once again. He felt every pebble on the gravel ground. He groaned as he gazed around the overused barren compact arena, “Why can’t we use the combat ground over there?” He jerked his head to the right. “The grass would break my fall.”

Callore stood over him, her hands on her hips, and grinned. “I told you to watch my eyes,” she scolded. “You must learn to keep your stomach tense.”
She held out her hand and he grabbed it. She pulled him to his feet.

Jake dusted off his now stone-coloured one-piece chameleon suit. “I thought pregnant woman were supposed to take it easy,” he grumbled. “And why can’t we use the first field I trained on?” 

Callore, in her red blazer and combat pants, stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. “You’re thinking of human women, my love.” She rolled her eyes. “As for your second question, this is the advanced stages of your training and this is the advanced field.”

Jake scowled. “And why are you training me and not Mr Goat?”

Callore covered her mouth to hide her smile. “Because he teaches the basic skills to the assassin and I teach the more advanced blending into the environment, hunting and advanced weapon training.” A frown appeared on her brow. “Which reminds me, how are you getting on with the new weapon Adrian, eh, made?” 

“Eh, okay.” He shuffled his feet and lowered his eyes.

Callore shot him a glance. “Have you been practising? Adrian has worked really hard on it. He is a good scientist.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Of course, he is.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, he’s good at everything. Is there anything he isn’t good at?”

Callore lowered his eyes.”

Jake sighed. Adrian’s a wizard, and the gun is made from magic dust, is all she needed to say. But how can I chastise her for keeping secrets when I can’t tell her mine? I want to be a woman. 

 “Show me.”

“What?” She broke his train of thought.

“Show me how good you are with the gun.”

Jake reached into his suit and pulled out a tiny gold-plated gun shaped weapon. He pointed it at a tree trunk and whispered “wolf”. The gun grew till it fitted in his hand. He took aim and pulled the trigger. A silver bullet shot out of the barrel and embedded itself in the tree. He whispered “vampire.” The guns bullet chamber changed compositions and turned wooden. He turned to his left and fired a pointed wooden stake bullet at a barrel situated at the far end of the area. He swirled to his right and whispered ‘pire.” The gun disappeared to be placed with a crossbow and what looked like a silver arrow with a pointed wooden arrowhead. He fired at a target board straight in front of him: bullseye. Jake whispered “Original.” It returned to its original shape. He fumbled and it fell on the ground.

“Jake!” Callore bent over and picked it up. She handed it back to him. “You need to get the hang of the changeover. What is the point of the camouflage suit, the stealth weapon and all this under the radar training if you wake up the whole creature community when you change the weapon back to its original size?

Jake turned a bright shade of red and his facial hair itched. “It’s just hard to get used to. The thing going from small to big is no problem but the other way—.” He shook his head.

 Callore placed her hands on her hips. “Well, if you don’t get it right, these cubs—” she patted her bloated stomach—" will grow up without a father.”

“Sorry.” Jake shrugged and stared at the ground. 

Callore gave him a gentle push. “You’ll get it. Have you learned what kills what creature yet?”

Jake nodded. “The silver bullet kills werewolves, the wooden pointed bullet kills vamps, and the silver arrow with the pointed wooden arrowhead kills ‘pires.”

Callore clapped her hands together. “Good cub. We’ll make an assassin out of you yet.”

He put his arm out to catch her, but she dodged and ran behind one of the trees which surrounded the battle training ground.

He laughed and shook his head “Don’t you think I have had enough training?” He pursed his lips and put his hands behind his back.

Callore peered out from behind the tree and winked. “Why? Am I too much woman for you, Adoloifo and you can never have enough training?”

“Don’t call me that. You know I don’t like it.”

She skipped out from behind the tree. “It’s your given name, Adoloifo, Adoloifo, Adol…”

He grabbed her and pressed his lips against hers. God woman, why do I love you so much? If I can express my urges, it will be for her. 

Callore pushed him away and laughed. “Be careful, you might hurt the litter,” she mock scolded.

He pulled her to the ground and fell on top of her. “I’ll give you litter,” he growled as he crushed her body under his.
“Ahem.”

Jake glanced up, saw Adrian, his mother’s donor, and close family friend strode across the compound, his long doctors coat flapped in the wind. “Now, what? Can’t this damn war let us have a minute?”

Adrian stared straight ahead with a slight smile. “The General would like to see you, Master Jake.”

Jake sighed and jumped up. “I will come at once” – like the good little assassin I am. When Daddy calls, I come running.

Callore hid a smile and Adrian averted his eyes.

Oh, god. Don’t tell me Adrian can read minds also. Of course, he can; being a wizard.

The donor turned and started to retreat his footsteps and Jake followed.

Callore scrambled to her feet and ran to catch up. “Do you know what’s it’s about?”

Adrian shrugged. “All I know is, the general got this message meant for Jake. One of the rescues brought it.  He read it and became agitated. He asked me to find you and bring you to him.”

The general set up a group to save anyone who didn’t want to live under the vampire king’s regime. Mostly ‘pires and humans who either ended up as donors or went to the village the general also set up. They called themselves rescues.

Jake turned his head slightly. “And you don’t know what the letter said?”

Adrian sighed. “I can’t be certain, but I think it’s from Captain Tom Sullivan, but you can ask the general yourself.”

My human father, what does he want? Jake felt a hot flush spread up his neck. I should have written but I’ve been so busy with training and everything...   

Jake’s feet crunched on the pebbled path as the group marched towards the general’s hut. A few soldiers sat on barrels with cards in their hands to his left. Jake spotted a human enter a hut and a soldier’s in brown with an instructor run past him.

The trio stopped outside an enormous hut and knocked on the tall, wooden door.

“Enter,” a voice boomed.

Jake pushed the door and walked into the room, followed by his companions. He glanced around and smiled. The walls shone and glittered like stars in a murky fluorescent golden sky with a three-seater black leather sofa and a comfortable recliner armchair in one corner, a big oak table with a map of Vampire Snow Mountain and Forest spread across it. Little soldier figures were scattered around, and six elegant red cushioned high-backed chairs in a line next to it, in the middle of the spacious living quarters of the general and Eva.  They’ve decorated again.  This place was more like a palace now.

The general sat behind his big wooden desk, his black cap hung on a hook with his black blazer, with a furrowed brow and stared at a bit of paper in his hand. The frills on the cuff of his long shirt fluttered in the breeze. As soon as he saw Jake, he waved for him to take a seat. Jake pulled up a chair and sat down. Adrian and Callore followed suit.

Jake placed his hands behind his back. “I believe you have a message for me.” 

The general gave a curt nod and handed it over.

Jake noticed the handwriting at once. He turned it over in his hands a few times. “It’s from Dad,” he whispered. Jake skimmed the letter. His lips and chin trembled as the tendons stood out from his neck. “Someone has kidnapped my mother and will kill her if he doesn’t hand over what they want by—" he turned the paper over— "the 24th of May.” He frowned and gazed into Callore’s eyes. “ I need to go but how can I leave you?”

Callore stuck her chest out. “I’m coming with you.”

Both the general and Jake shook their heads.

The general placed a hand on her shoulder. “No, you are to near your delivery date to travel. Besides, what if you go cocoon mode on him. He will be so worried about you—”

Jake jumped out of his chair. “The mission. What about the war. I can’t just up and leave—"

The general pushed his chair back and rose, strolled to the big double-paned window and stared out. “You must help Tom save Vera.”

Jake frowned. Why did he call him Tom? That was a bit familiar. Maybe he felt he knew him due to them looking after his son. That must be it.

Callore’s jaw dropped. That’s next week!”

Jake shook his head. “It took me a whole month to get here. I’ll never make it back in time.”

Jake heard the door open behind him and turned around.

Eva stood in the doorway in a one-piece red, skin-tight boiler suit with a number two embossed on one sleeve, near the shoulder. “You would if you could fly.”
 
 


Chapter 34
Thirty-four

By dmt1967

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR
The general thumbed his ear. “It takes weeks to learn to fly. We only have a couple of hours.”  He tilted his head to one side and glanced at Jake. “You will need someone to accompany you.”

Adrian rose. “I could go.”

The rest of the group turned and stared at him.

Adrian shuffled his feet and stared at the floor. “I mean, I could deal with the humans and stuff.”

The general stroked his chin. “It’s down to you, Eva. He is your donor and you are the one it affects the most if he goes.”

Adrian glanced from the general to Eva and back again. “I have a refrigerated blood supply for emergencies. That will last you for a few days and we should be back by then.”

Eva put her hand out and touched Adrian’s arm. “We will manage my friend. I give my permission,” She bowed her head and turned to Jake. “The only problem is, how will you carry him?”

The general pushed back his chair and marched to the door. He opened it. “The first thing we need to do is teach Jake how to fly. The other problem we can figure out later.”

Adrian hurried through the door. “I need to go get supplies for the journey and pack a few essentials.”

The general nodded. “Meet us here at dusk. We should have taught Jake all he will need to know by then.”

Adrian saluted, turned, and hurried across the field towards his hut.

Eva glanced up at a tall tree and jumped on the lowest branch. “This is as good a place as any.”

Jake jumped up and landed beside her. The branch bowed a little with the pressure.

Eva turned her head. “Now my boy, I’ll teach you to soar like an Eagle. Her eyes darted up and down his torso, and a twinkle appeared at the corner of her eye. “Or at the very least, like a pigeon.”

Jake tapped his foot. “Now what,” he scowled. “Do I have to flap my arms or something.”

Eva grinned. “Now you stand up straight, raise your hands into the air like Superman, and…”

Eva shot up into the sky before she landed on the ground beside the general. She cupped her hand over her eyes and gazed up at Jake. “Now you try it.”

Jake sighed. He copied his mother’s instructions, stepped off the branch, and thud.   Jake landed face down in the dirt. He picked himself up, dusted himself down and glared at his instructor.

The general hid a smile behind his hand as he approached the boy. “What were you doing up there with your hands?”

Jake picked a leaf out of his hair. “I put them over my head like superman.”

The general shook his head and chuckled. “Why?”

Jake bent down and brushed the mud off his pants. “Eva told me I had to.”

The general rolled his eyes. “Your mother was playing a joke on you.” He shook his head.

Eva smirked. “That was the first lesson. Never believe everything people tell you. You will be dealing with humans, and they lie. Never trust them.”

“Eva, watch your tongue,” the general growled as his eyes darted to Callore’s face.

Eva turned red. “I’m sorry my child, I never meant to hurt your feelings.”

Callore waved her hand. “You didn’t. I agree with you.”

Jake scowled. “Why can’t I run again?”

Eva smirked. “As I said, it would take too long. We can sprint like the wind around creature land due to the energy and magic all around but, on the outside, our supply is limited. Another reason is, we are underworld creatures and not gods. We cannot walk on water.”

The general turned to Jake. “To fly son all you have to do is concentrate and imagine you’re a feather floating in the air.”
Jake shut his eyes. I am as light as a feather. I am floating in the air. I am soaring with the birds. He opened one eye and glanced at his feet. The ground and his parents looked so small. I have done it. I am flying… oh help. I am falling.

“Keep concentrating,” he heard someone say beside him.

He turned his head and saw Eva and the general either side of him. He shut his eyes and soon took control of his body.

“Now, when you want to turn left move your left hand through the air. The same if you want to turn right. When flying near humans think, chameleon and you will blend in with your surroundings.” Eva instructed.

Jake followed her commands and zoomed around the sky like a firefly.

He practised his turns and invisibility until the sun went down. They landed on the ground near where Callore sat.

Callore jumped up. “How was it?”

Eva clapped her hands together. “He’s a natural.”

“That’s good as it’s time we left,” a voice said.

Everyone turned and saw Adrian’s approach with two bags slung over his shoulder. He handed one to Jake. “We need to get going if we want to get there, rescue Vera and journey back in a few days.”

Now, he’s doing it. I am missing something; but what?

Jake hooked his hand around Adrian and started to rise. 

Adrian turned white. “Hey, we don’t have to fly from here.”

Jake frowned. “You want to run instead?”

Adrian gulped. “No, not really. I mean we could walk to the border and say goodbye properly.”

The general nodded. “That’s a good idea. We will accompany you to the edge of our territory and see you off.”

Jake and Callore walked together until they were near the cave, which separated the humans from the creatures. His parents walked behind, in deep mind conversation. Jake tried not to listen in on what seemed like a private conversation, but...

 “We need to tell him.”

“It is not our place, Filtiam. It is Tom’s”

“But Eva; he has the right to know.”

“And Tom will tell him when he is ready. Now, shh my love; we have arrived.”

Jake turned and stared at the couple. So, they do know Dad, but how? Why? They smiled, and Eva hugged him and Adrian while the general shook their hands.

Eva wiped a tear from her eye and laughed. “See what you do to me, Boy. And me a hardened soldier.” She turned towards Adrian. “Keep him safe and come back in one piece.” She pulled her long-time friend close and whispered in his ear, “both of you.”

The general smiled but his eyes seemed shrunken and deep-set. He opened his mouth but closed it again. He lifted his eyes and stared at Jake with an unfathomed expression on his haggard face. “Bring Tom and Vera back safely,” he whispered in the boy’s ear. “Please.”

Jake gave a curt nod as the general linked hands with Eva and walked away. Why did he say that? That wasn’t a man scared on behalf of his son for the lives of two people who brought him up, but a man scared for a friend. A close friend. An image of Jason’s face with his blonde ponytail and blue eyes sprang into Jake’s minds-eye, I miss you so much, mate. He swallowed a lump in his throat and gazed down at Callore. Adrian waited at the mouth of the cave with his head turned away from the couple.

Jake pulled Callore to him and brushed his lips against hers. “You keep yourself safe and no going on foolhardy missions while I’m gone,” he whispered in a hoarse voice.

Callore hugged him. “Be safe, Jake.” She let him go, turned and ran after the general and Eva.

Jake sighed and turned towards Adrian. “Now, how do you want to travel? By air or by running.”

Adrian grinned. He took something out of his pocket. “How about by magic,” he chuckled as he waved his wand in the air and made himself and Jake disappear.
.
 
 


Chapter 35
Chapter thirty-five

By dmt1967

Jake shut his eyes as the world spun before his sky-blue eyes. He felt the bile rise from the pit of his stomach to his throat. He tried to swallow but found the air thin and, instead, gasped. I’m going to be sick. Please, don’t let me choke on my vomit. He could see the headlines in the local paper, strange-looking boy found dead.

“Jake, you can open your eyes now. We’re here.” He heard a voice in the distance.

A bird chirped nearby, and the wind whistled through a clump of trees at the far side of a grassy area.

Jake opened one eye. “I’m blind. I can’t see anything.” He grabbed Adrian’s arm.
       
     A family of four walked past, a child screamed in a pushchair to his left and a dog barked at a cat up a tree to the right.

“Have we landed in a park? Why can’t I see?”

Adrian frowned. “Don’t think so. I think it’s a hotel forecourt near an airport by the sound of it, and it’s the dark then light of teleportation that gives you the blindness. You’ll focus in a minute.”

Jake heard voices and recognised them as flight calls on the tannoy system. “I think this is Heathrow airport.”  
He opened his other eye and swayed as a 747 flew overheard. “Ooo, don’t feel well.” His eyes misted over, and he grabbed Adrian’s arm. “I feel sick.”          
Adrian led him to a nearby bench and lowered him onto it. “Everyone gets a bit dizzy their first time at teleporting,” he shouted over the roar of the airplane engines. “It’s a bit like traveling through a long tunnel and then, at the end, seeing the bright sun. It can make you feel disorientated for a few hours, but you will get used to that eventually, in time.”  

Jake coughed, and bile shot out of his mouth. He shook his head and took a step forward.

Adrian caught him before he toppled forward. “Steady there, Master Jake.” He shuffled his feet and stared at his hands. “I guess you’re wondering why a human can do that. The thing is I’m a wizard,” He blurted out. “Don’t tell the general though, please. The only thing werewolves hate more than humans and vampires are wizards.”

Jake blinked and pulled himself up. “Your secrets safe with me.” 

Adrian grinned. “Thank you. The only other person who knows my secret is Callore and now you. I don’t know what the general might do if he found out.”

Jake smiled. He remembered what the general told him on their last mission together. I’ve known a long time that Adrian is a wizard, but don’t tell him I know. When he’s ready, he will tell us himself. Jake sighed. There were far too many secrets flying around already. He frowned as another memory flashed into his head. At Werepire Valley I was sure he read my mind but here he seems ignorant to my thoughts.  

Adrian saw his friend’s demeanour change. “Are you alright?”

Jake nodded. “I was wondering if you could read minds,” Jake blurted out.

Adrian grinned. “No, that is strictly a ‘pire thing.”

“But you seemed to know what I was thinking at the campsite.”

“That was because of Callore.”

Jake scratched his head.

 Adrian sighed. “As a wizard, I can tune into one creature of each species.”

“B-but wouldn’t it be better to tune into Eva or the general?”

“I am. Remember, they are different.”

“I still don’t understand, why Callore?”  

“Because—" Adrian stopped and rubbed the back of his neck, took his wand out of his coat pocket, and shook it. “Damn, my fairy dust battery is flat. It will take hours for it to refill enough to transport us to America.”

Jake rubbed his chin. “Is that why we can’t fly all the way?”

Adrian nodded. “In the real world, where magic isn’t around us the whole time, we cannot travel far. My wand is like a mobile phone, every so often I need to charge it from the magic battery.”

Jake gazed at Adrian. “So, where is it? In the backpack.”

Adrian grinned, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the tiniest battery in existence. 

Jake frowned. “What kind of power would you get from that!”

“Remember, this is a magic battery. It is the most powerful battery in Creature Kingdom. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s not powerful.”

Jake gave Adrian a sideways glance. “We could always fly.”

Adrian shook his head. “You’re in no state to fly! Look, let’s find a hotel for the night and in the morning if my wand hasn’t recharged, we will fly the rest of the way.”

Jake pressed his lips together but agreed. “Okay, I need to phone Dad and tell him we are on our way, and where does he want us to meet him.”

Adrian grinned. “Good. Let’s see if we can get a room here. It seems a nice hotel and, judging by the cars, it seems empty.”

Jake gazed up at the lit-up sign on the front of the building. “The Novel. Sounds good.” The hotel stood three storeys high with tinted windows and two stone pillar columns either side of an automatic slide door. 

The two men walked into the hotel. Jake glanced from left to right as he took in the marble floor and beige walls of the establishment. He spotted the oak reception desk and walked towards it. 

A group of boys sat with a woman on two chairs and a black sofa in one corner of the big lobby. They snickered as he passed them. They’re mother glared at them and smiled at Jake. “Sorry,” she mouthed.  

The last sunbeam of the day shone through the glass panel window and bounced off a mirror behind the receptionist.

Adrian walked up to her and smiled. “We would like a double room with twin beds please.” 

The receptionist, a middle-aged woman with glasses, peered at the odd pair and wriggled her nose. “Have you got identification?”

Adrian pulled his wallet out of his back-jean pocket, pulled out his passport and handed it to her.

She studied it and him for about a minute. She sighed and handed it back to him. “Room 212 is free. Do you need a hand with your luggage?”

Adrian clenched his teeth. “No, that’s alright. We can manage.”

The woman reached into a cupboard on the wall and unhooked a key. She handed it to Adrian and turned away.

“Could my friend use the phone please?”

The receptionist looked down her nose at Jake and waved him to one of the phones hung on the opposite wall in the lobby. “All guests have to use those.”

A young woman in a pink tracks suit and white pumps walked past and eyed Jake up and down. “They also got a gym if you want to work out, though you don’t need to.” Her eyes gleamed and she giggled. “You must work out every day to get your muscles that big.” She reached out and touched them. “And they are so firm...” She shivered, laughed, and walked away. “See how they’re trying to break out of your shirt,” she cooed over her shoulder.

Adrian grinned at Jake’s bright red face. “Maybe I should tell Callore to do something about your—" he fluttered his eyelashes— “nice, big muscles. You hunk, you.”   

Jake cleared his throat and turned to the receptionist. “Eh, t-thank you.”

She glared at him and nodded.

He pulled the letter out of his inside jacket pocket, picked up the receiver and dialled the number on the letter. 

Hi Dad... Yes, it’s me… we will be with you by tomorrow afternoon… okay Dad, love you.” He put the receiver down and turned to Adrian. “The meet has been rescheduled for tomorrow night at a rundown ranch called the Blue Bull in Arizona.”

Adrian yawned. “I am bushed. Do you want to eat first or go up to our rooms and eat later?”

Jake rubbed his eyes. “I think bed first. We can eat when we wake up.”

The two friends climbed the stairs, walked down the corridor to their room and opened the door. Jake fell on the bed, shut his eyes, and fell asleep at once.
 
 


Chapter 36
Chapter thirty-six

By dmt1967

The sun shone through the curtains and lit up the room with its 12-inch television, two single beds, and a rather shabby green lounge chair in the centre.

Jake opened one eye and heard the shower in the bathroom. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. The shower stopped and Adrian walked in with a bath towel around his waist.

“Come on sleepyhead, I’ve been up for hours. The water is lovely and hot. As soon as you’ve showered, we can go downstairs and have breakfast.”

Jake climbed out of bed and into the shower. The water covered his body and he stuck his head under it and watched the grime disappear down the plughole.

He emerged and threw on a t-shirt and a pair of Demin jeans. Adrian in his long white cloak opened the door and Jake exited the room. They ran downstairs and into a big rectangle room with plastic chairs and tables in a row. The duo sat at a table and the server came over. 

“This is an all you can eat buffet, sir,” she muttered.

Both men turned crimson.

Jake and Adrian pushed back their chairs and walked to the counter. They piled their plates up with sausages, bacon, and eggs. They poured themselves a coffee, and carried it all back to their seats before they tucked in.

“How is the wand today?” Jake whispered with a mouth full of food. 

Adrian sighed. “Not nearly charged enough. I think we’ll have to fly the rest of the way. Did you bring your assassin uniform?”

Jake stuffed a mouthful of food into his mouth and chewed. The bacon, eggs and sausage tasted so good and he savoured the smoothness of the yoke, the crispiness of the rind and the juices of the frankfurter slide down his throat. “Why? We will be dealing with humans.”

Adrian picked up his tea and took a sip. He lowered his eyelids. “Well, the white wolf fur that weaves the tunic will withstand most things.”

Jake tilted his head to one side. “As it happens, I have bought it. The general insisted, but we are dealing with humans, aren’t we?”  

Adrian avoided eye contact. “Eat your food. We still have a long way to go.”

Jake picked up his coffee cup and cradled it in his hands. Why was Adrian being so evasive? What wasn’t he being told? Why did the general advise him to take his jumpsuit? Why all this cloak and dagger stuff? The image of the general and Eva sprang into his mind. What we’re you two discussing before we left? How well do you know my foster parents? He drained the now cold cup of coffee and placed the cup on the table. He gazed out of a nearby window.

Adrian gazed at the boy. “You think about your human father?”

Jake nodded. “And about Mum. They took me in, nurtured me. I wasn’t even human, and they knew it but that never seemed to bother them. Ok, Mum had funny turns and could be a bit of a handful but still, she gave up her life for Dad. He worked for a company or something and saw something he shouldn’t. The feds put him into the witness program and Mum had to give up everything. He sighed. “We have to rescue them—” he clenched his hands together—” we just have to. Jake turned towards Adrian. “So, what’s the plan?”

Adrian shook his head. “I’m not sure. Depends what we are dealing with. I think the best bet is we fight, and the captain recues Vera.”

“What do you mean, who we are dealing with?” Jake shouted as he pushed his chair away and stood.

Adrian grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. He met a mother’s gaze and she turned away quickly. “Shh, people are looking at us.”

“Well, what did you mean?” Jake whispered.

Adrian shrugged. “Nothing. Have you finished?”

Jake stuck out his bottom lip. “Yes.” What isn’t the wizard telling me? 

Adrian strolled to the counter, paid, and joined Jake outside the hotel. 

Jake looked Adrian up and down. “Will we be able to reach Arizona on time with me carrying you?”

Adrian winked. “You would if I were the size of an ant.” Adrian took a tube out of yet another pocket in his long coat and pulled the cork off with his teeth.

The wizard gulped down the green liquid and disappeared.

“Where are you, now?” 

“I’m down here,” he heard a small voice say.

Jake peered at the ground but couldn’t see anything.

“Look with your heart, not your eyes.”

Jake bent down and scrutinised the pavement. There’s something there. A spot moved, and Jake knelt on the pavement and put his hand in front of it.

The spot climbed onto his palm, and Jake held it up to his eye. 

“Put me in your breast pocket,” Adrian squeaked.

Jake placed the shrunken man into his shirt front pocket. He glanced up and down the street. Good, no one’s about. He shut his eyes. I’m a feather. I’m as light as air. He rose into the sky like a helicopter. Jake opened his eyes, looked up and rose higher. He lifted his left hand and headed out to sea. America, here we come.

Jake glanced at the cloud’s overhead. “I think there’s a storm brewing.”

“Can we rise above it?” 

“I can try, hold on.”

Jake rose higher and higher until the people looked like insects and the town looked like miniature buildings. They heard the wind below and the waves lash against the wooden and metal boats still out at sea. It’s a pity we don’t have time to help them, but... He heard a groan.

“We can’t help them, young Jake. For one, we haven’t got time, and, for another, we cannot swoop down from the sky and pluck them out of the sea. Not our job; we leave that to the mermaids. Ever since the first goop showed herself, it’s been their job to keep sailor’s safe.”

“Goop?”

“Yea, baby mermaid. Well, she was one hundred and three, a teenager really, but she saw a young sailor in the water and, instead of leaving him there like she ought to, she dragged him to the beach. No one knew about them before but now...”

Jake’s screwed up his eyes. “How did you know I was thinking about helping?”

He heard Adrian chuckle. “That wasn’t reading your mind, Master Jake, that was knowing the ‘pire you are. Of course, nice caring young ‘pire, like yourself, would want to help these unfortunate humans.”

“Oh.”

The pair flew without a word to America. Adrian broke the silence first. “Look, I can see the Statue of Liberty.”

Jake saluted as they passed. “Haven’t you seen it before?”

“No.” Adrian clambered up towards the opening in the pocket and Jake hovered in front of the lady with the spiked crown and torch. “She looks awesome.”

Jake gulped down a lump in his throat. “She is. She stands for the right to be heard.” He stared down at the sea. “Well, she does for me.”

“A bit like our White Wolf, then.”

“White wolf?”

“Yes, legend has it, she saved our ancestors from slavery. The vampires were winning the first war of creatures. They captured the werewolf’s homes and made us do their bidding. One day a white wolf descended, killed all our captors, and liberated us. We won the war and peace reined.”

“Which is why I wear the white jumpsuit—"

“—with the white wolf motif, yes.”  

“Didn’t you travel when you lived in the wizard community?”

“No.”

“You don’t have to talk about it if you’d rather not?”

Adrian sighed. “I was a criminal in my village. They locked me up and put me on death row. I escaped, they hunted me, I found myself in vampire territory and Callore saved me. She found me in the forest, half-starved and naked. She took me to the valley and the general took me in.”

Jake took one last look at the lady, turned, and glided towards land. “So, what did you do?”

“I spoke out about the way we treat certain wizard beliefs.”

“Like what?”

Adrian didn’t answer.

“Do you know the way? Jake scratched his head.

Jake felt his pocket jerk. “Yes, the general showed me a way which I memorised. We turn left here and then straight on. As the crow flies.” 

The towns became fields and meadows which turned to desert the further they flew. 

Jake went back to the previous conversation. “Does Callore know?”

Jake felt Adrian pace up and down in his pocket.

“Know, what?”

“About you, your past?”

Adrian paused. “Yes.”

“Oh.”

Jake heard Adrian sigh. “Look, it’s no biggy. I’m just embarrassed, that’s all.”

“Okay.” 

Adrian sighed. “I spoke out about the way trainee wizards were treated and they banished me from Wizard Forest before the vampires invaded, killed the wizards or made them slaves, and stole our land, that’s all.”
         
   Jake swallowed a few times and scoured the ground for a distraction. He couldn’t see anything but sand.

“Do you think we’re there yet?” Adrian whispered.

“I think so. It looks like a desert and I think the signpost said Arizona.”    

Adrian spotted a movement on the earth below. “Look down there, is that it?”  

Jake turned his head and nodded. “I can see people and cars and what looks like a ranch, I think.”

Jake landed beside a cracked wooden sign with a faded blue bull painted on it. He lifted Adrian out of his pocket and turned towards a rundown ranch-style house with a broken porch. A car pulled up and Captain Tom Sullivan got out. He carried a briefcase in his left hand. Jake walked up to the ruin and stopped.

“Did you come alone, son?” The captain whispered out of the corner of his mouth.
“No, I—"

Two women and a man opened the door and stepped out of the derelict building with broken windows. All three were familiar to Jake, but the younger of the two women sent a chill down Jake’s back.

“Well, if it isn’t little ape boy. Long-time no see, freak,” Jenny smirked. “What a small world we live in.”         
 


Chapter 37
Chapter thirty-seven

By dmt1967

A cold chill ran down Jake’s spine. He stared at the tall girl with shoulder-length black hair and frowned, why do you look so familiar? Jenny’s hips swayed as she walked towards him and he took a step back. She stamped her leather boots on the ground and grinned at his obvious confusion. Even though the hot sun beat down on her, she wore a sheepskin coat which she pulled around her. 

“Hello, Ape boy?”

Jake froze. “W-what are you doing here?” 

She laughed, rolled her black, dull eyes, and took a step forward. “Well the thing is, ape boy, or should I call you, vamp boy? I’m sort of in charge of the king’s absence.”  

She looked different, somehow. She wore her clothes like a soldier and her muscles rippled through her coat. She seemed calmer, surer of herself, but the biggest change; her eyes. 

She looks like someone stole her soul. 

Jake frowned. “King, what king?”

Jenny shook her jet-black hair and smirked. “The vampire king, of course.” She took another step towards him and clicked her fingers in his face.

Jake took a step back. “The vampire kings! I don’t understand, do you work for the vampire king?” He ran his fingers through his hair and his chest tightened. It can’t be true!

Jenny gave an ugly laugh. She let go of her coat and it fell open to reveal the vampire’s coat of arms, a vampire holding a human head in his hand, plastered on her t-shirt. “Yes, like your daddy—" she jerked her head towards Tom Sullivan – “works for the general and has done since the war began.” 
Jake turned towards his father. “Why didn’t you tell me? I knew there was something. Who else knows? Eva, Hassorev—" he gripped his stomach and screwed up his face— “Callore?” 

Tom Sullivan sighed and nodded. “I wanted to tell you—” he curled his hands into tight fists— “but the time just never seemed right.” He shrugged his shoulders. “The general, he thought it might be safer to wait.” 

The wooden sign on the post to the left of them rattled as the wind howled and blew particles of dust into the air. 

Jake’s body shook and he felt the warm glow, in the pit of his stomach, heat up and grow. “So, everything was a lie. And Vera, did she know?”

Again, his human father gave a curt nod. “She knew and was willing until we had to move to a new country. The vamp king was looking for you, you see.

We needed to get you to safety until you were ready to join the fight.” 

“So, at least that bit was true. Someone was after you and Mum resented you for that.”

Tom Sullivan shuffled his feet and stared at the golden sand. 

Jake’s jaw dropped. “You mean, that’s not true as well!”

Tom sighed. “Well, partly. We did have to move, and she did resent me, but—” he ran his wrinkled rough hands through his silver buzzcut hair— “most of the resent stemmed from when to tell you.” He locked eyes with Jake. “You see that part was true. She fell in love and wanted to keep you safe. But it was time. I’d already put off telling you for two years, I couldn’t keep putting the general off.”

“So, the letter. The information that Eva had. It wasn’t a seeing eye, it was you.”

The corners of his father’s mouth turned down as he nodded. 

Jenny cleared her throat. “I hate to break up this happy reunion, but we have things to do, people to kill, so can we get on with it. The list.”

Jake fell silent and glared at his human father.

Captain Sullivan raised his hands. “Fine.” He turned his back on his son.

Mr Terry Thomas, a tall man with a crooked nose appeared to on Jenny’s right. “Do you know him, Boss?” He jutted his weak chin out and smiled. His white crooked teeth gleamed as he folded his stocky arms with dirty nail bit fingernails behind his back. 

Jenny gazed at the back of her hand “We went to school together. Ape boy, sorry, vamp boy and I had lots of fun together, didn’t we dinky?”

Terry grinned. “Hello, Jake. It’s nice to see you again.”

Mrs Helen Thomas, a big-boned woman with a pointed chin appeared on Jenny’s left. She pursed her narrow lips together and stuck out her turned-up nose. She eyed Jake up and down with her ice-blue eyes. Her blemished face looked more like a pincushion than a human face.  

Jake’s jaw dropped. “What are you and your wife doing here?” 

The man shook his head. “You’re not very smart, boy. We were sent to find your father that day we met at the hotel. We knew he had a son, and when we found you and your friends, we thought you’d lead us to him. We followed you from the hotel, but lost you before the motorway.”

 “He wasn’t always this solid. I and my brother used to play with him a lot until his friend ruined our fun. Which reminds me, where is Jason?”

Jake dropped his gaze and stared at the ground. “Dead,” he muttered. He glanced over at his father, but Tom Sullivan never took his eyes off the trio before him. 

Tom Sullivan bit his lip. “I’m so sorry, Jake.”

Jake glared at him. “I’m surprised you weren’t told. Have you fallen out with our fierce leader or something?”

Tom blinked. “No, he mumbled. “Been busy, haven’t had the time to talk to anyone.” 

Jenny groaned “Best place for him, and can we get on.”

Jake clanged his teeth and his muscles tightened. “What do you get out of this? Or are you doing this out of—"

Jenny locked eyes with him. “Money and immortality.” 

Jake stared into two pools of black coloured eyes.

“As you can see, I’m on the turn.”

Black eyes to match your black heart. 

Jenny winked at him. She turned to her gang members. “Do you know I remember one time when my brother and his friends strung him up and pulled down his trousers. I came along and—"

A flush crept across Jake’s cheeks and he cleared his throat. “We need to get on.”

Jenny waved her hand in his face. “We will, Assassin. Once I’ve finished my st—"

Is there nothing she doesn’t know?

“I even know about you and the untouchable.”

Jake’s jaw dropped.

“Yes, I can do mind thoughts as well. The vampire king is training me as he would his daughter.”

Callore said something about daughters. Now, what was it?

The corners of Jenny’s mouth turned upwards into a cold smile. “Yes, I am his number 2.”

Jake lifted his left eyebrow and he took a deep intake of breath but before he could utter a word, the door of the farmhouse creaked open and a boy of about ten with bright eyes and unkempt ginger hair emerged. He sniffed and wiped his button nose with the back of his grubby little hand. He saw Jake and ran towards him. “Jake, what are you doing here? Is Jason with you? Are you staying long? Is—"

Jake wrinkled his nose at the stench and gazed at the ragamuffin before him in his shirt, two sizes too big, and his worn frayed pants.

Mr Thomas caught his son by the arm and picked him up. “What’s this brat doing here?”

Mrs Thomas shrugged. “I told him to stay inside.”

Little Tommy screamed as his father dropped him and slapped him across the face. “Didn’t your mum tell you to stay out of the way.” He turned to his wife. “You should have had an abortion when you had the chance.”

Mrs Thomas sniffed. “He’s been useful. I mean no one expects a couple of parents to be cold-blooded killers.”

Her husband kicked the boy. “Go back into the house or you’ll get my belt across your backside.”

Little Tommy scrambled up and ran towards the farmhouse. He stood by the door, wiped the back of his grubby hand over his eyes and sniffed. 

Captain Tom took a step forward, but Jake put a hand on his arm and shook his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Adrian behind a nearby stable. The wizard pointed his wand at the gangsters and gave Jake a curt nod.

“Are we going to do this? I’ve got the list,” the captain snarled.

He held out the briefcase and Jenny took it. She handed it to Mr Thomas. 

Jake glanced at the captain. “List?”

Jenny scowled. “Yes. The Captain has been a bad boy and compiled a list of names of humans and vampires loyal to the king. He is also the keeper of the register of ‘pires.” 

Mr Thomas put the case on top of the car bonnet and opened it. He nodded. “They’re all there, boss. Without these, C.U.S don’t have a case.” He grinned at his pun.

Jenny smiled, put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a silver-handled gun. She reached into her pocket and retrieved some wooden; silver-tipped bullets and inserted them into the barrel. “The thing is boys; we can’t let you go. He –“ she pointed the gun at the captain – “knows too much.”

Jake froze. He glanced over at Adrian who put one finger in the air. Stall her, he heard a voice in his head say.

“B—before you kill us, I need to tell you something. Your brother’s dead.”

Jenny lowered her gun a little. “Did you kill him?”

Jake shook his head. “No.”

Jenny shrugged and raised the gun again. “It didn’t matter if you did. The boy was a—” She clenched her jaw and ground her teeth—"as you Brits say, a faggot. My dad chucked him out, you know. Good riddance, I mean, who wants a pervert in the family?”

Mr and Mrs Thomas pulled their guns out and pointed them at Jake.

Jenny smiled but her eyes remained cold. “Now. I’m afraid we have to say goodbye, captain.” She pulled the trigger.

Silence fell over the desert. Not a bird flew in the sky or an animal stirred in the desert. It felt like all around them time froze. 

The bullet broke the silence, shot out of the gun and sped towards the captain. Jake pushed the captain to his left and jumped right. He felt the bullet brush his ear. His upper lip curled. “Is that the best you can do?”

The other gang members aimed their weapons at Jake, but as they pulled the trigger. Their guns flew out of their hands and spun around in mid-air.

Jenny’s nostrils flared, as she stood in front of Jake speechless. He smiled, I wonder if Grandfather taught you how to fight yet, tilted his head to one side and pounced.

Jenny tried to dodge but Jake landed on top of her before she could move. He clamped his teeth on her neck and pulled. Skin and tissue sprayed everywhere. The brown mud turned red as blood poured out of the girl’s throat. Jake shook his head from side to side and spat bone and matter out of his mouth. He glanced down at the girl and kicked the body, maybe defence would have been a better lesson to teach than mind reading. 

He looked around and saw Adrian. The wizard stood over a motionless body. As Jake approached, he recognized the lifeless body of Mrs Thomas.

Adrian looked across at Jenny. “We don’t have to cut off her head as she wasn’t a vampire.”

Jake rubbed his chin and prodded her with his toe. “You sure?”

Adrian nodded. “Missimo, the vampire king, wouldn’t give any human the gift of mortality.”

“But the black eyes and...”

Adrian waved his left hand in the air. “Parlour tricks. If she had turned or had been given proper training.” He shrugged and spread his arms apart. “Well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been so easy to kill and it could have been you lying on the floor with your throat torn out.”

“But the mind-reading...”

Adrian laughed. “A third hat party trick. Any wizard worth anything is taught that one at an early age and, according to rumours, Missimo has captured a powerful sorcerer.”   

Jake’s eyes darted from left to right. “Where’s Mr Thomas and the captain?”

Adrian pointed to the run-down stables at the far side of the farm. “The man took the boy in there and your father followed him with—“ He jerked his head in the direction of Mrs Thomas – “her gun.”

The two comrades ran to the entrance of the stable. As they approached, a single shot rang out. Adrian’s wand in his hand and Jake on all fours sped into the building, ready for anything.

Mr Thomas lay on the floor, a hole in his head. Blood trickled down his face, eyes wide open as he stared into space. Jake bent down beside the body and felt his pulse. “He’s dead.”

The two men heard a noise behind them and spun around. The captain stood by the doorway with one arm around his wife and the other around a tear-stained boy.

Jake ran up to his mum and hugged her. His hands trembled as he held her tight. “Mum, you’re all right.”

She laughed and kissed her son on the cheek. “Yes, thanks to this young man and my brave and wonderful family.”

The captain put Tommy on the ground. The boy ran up to his dad and spat in his face.

Jake raised his eyebrows. “Did you kill him?” he whispered.

The captain shook his head. “No, the boy did. He was going to shoot your mother. The boy ran in here and I followed. He must have hidden a gun in here or something because when I got here, the boy was standing over him holding one.”

Jake’s mother looked over at the boy. “What will happen to him?”

Adrian frowned. “I suppose we could take him back to the valley and bring him up in the pack.”

Jake’s parents exchanged a glance.

 Jake’s mum beamed at Adrian. “Or we can have him. Raise him as our own.”      

Adrian nodded. “ That could work too.”

Jake grinned. “So, what are you going to do now? Go back home?”

The captain glanced at his wife and she nodded. “Your mum and I were thinking. We have nothing here anymore, and your mum misses England. She was never genuinely happy here and neither was I. We have decided to travel back to England with you and set up home as near to you as possible.” He gave Jake a sideways gaze. “If it is alright with you, that is?”

Jake stood in front of his parents, open-mouthed. “I’m not sure how I feel.”

Vera untangled herself from her husband, walked over to Jake and placed a hand on his arm. “Tom told me he told you. The general and Eva only wanted to keep you save and Tom wanted to tell you at the right time. It was me who fell in love with this cute baby who grabbed my finger and smiled at me the first time I held him. As for Callore, she was under strict orders not to tell you the truth.”

“But she’s soon to be my wife,” Jake cried. “How can I marry her if I can’t trust her?”

Vera punched his left arm. “That woman is with child, with your child. She loves you and it was tough on her. But orders are orders and, although she loves you, the general is her leader. She owes him her life, we all do.” 

Jake’s eyes darted from his father to his mother, and back again. He sighed, the past is the past, He grabbed his mum’s waist and lifted her off the ground.  

Jake’s mum laughed. “Put me down, before you drop me.”

Jake placed his mum on the ground and bowed his head. “You can stay with us until you find a place. I’m sure the general won’t mind.” He frowned. “But I need to know the truth and why you lied.”

Vera patted her son’s arm and glanced at the captain. “No more secrets, Tom. The boy has a right to know.”

Tom gave a curt nod and sat on a bale of hay. The rest of the group followed suit.

“It all began a long time ago. When I joined the army. I was stationed in Belfast. They were bloody times, what with the IRA and such like. I saw quite a few dead bodies but some of them seemed to have bite marks near their neck and their throats seemed to be severed from their body. While investigating one of these deaths a man, or what I thought was a man approached me and offered me a job. He seemed to know this was my last tour. He told me vampires killed these soldiers and he was part of an organization to stop these kills. I joined the human sector and our friendship grew.”

Jake scratched his head. “The human sector?”

The captain coughed. “Well, werewolves are distinctive, and vampires don’t care. Randal, the general’s father, wanted a human sector to go into human towns and detect vampire activity. Then, in the dead of night, the werewolf assassins would hunt and kill the vampires.”

Jake tilted his head to one side. “That still doesn’t explain why Eva left me with you.”

The captain smiled. “Well, when your... the general met Eva I was already married to Ve... your mother. The vamp king was furious and shunned Eva and the general, but the real problems started when you were born.”

Jake sighed. “Because I’m not a full breed.”

The captain nodded. “We learned of other mixed marriages and Randall, leader of the wolfhound pack and your grandfather gave the general The Valley so they and others like him could live in peace.”

Jake’s jaw dropped. “The werewolves were on our side. So, what happened?”

The captain hung his head. “Missimo, superiority happened. He raided a village and kidnapped a sorcerer. He commanded him to conjure up a potion that would turn ‘Pires into pure vampires. He gave the mixed families an order; make the children pure or have them killed. Hence, the war.”

“And the werewolves?”

“Randall never had a problem with mixed marriage’s just more vampires. He couldn’t have the vampire king turn them. Werewolves are the protectors of the earth. They protect and serve both the human community and the creature one. They make sure the laws of the land are kept by both parties. More vampires mean more anarchy and Randall couldn’t have that.”

“And me?”

“Missimo put a contract out on you because, in his eyes, you were the instigator. He wanted to bring Eva and the general to their knees. He took one out on me because of the list. I needed to get the hell out of the country and decided on America where I could still carry on compiling the list and the general asked me if I would take you and bring you up as my own until the time came for you to join the fight.”

“I still don’t understand why it took so long.”

Vera stood. “That was my fault. I fell in love. I didn’t mean to. You were only there... You weren’t mine... I couldn’t help it.” She put her fist in her mouth and turned away.

The captain rose and put a hand on her shoulder. “We both did. Sending you back became harder and harder with each passing year. Eventually, we knew we had to and, even though it broke our hearts, we did.” 

Adrian cleared his throat. “But we have a problem.” He paced up and down the stable. “How are we all going to get there. I can’t transport everyone, and you can’t carry us all.”

The captain turned, smiled, took a phone out of his pocket and dialled a number. “Hello, this is Red Eagle requesting some wings.” He smiled as he replaced the phone. “There is a private air force airport about half a mile up the road. There is also a small plane fuelled and ready to go.”  

Jake touched the base of his neck. “I guess when you belong to a secret organization...”

Vera took Tommy’s hand and steered him towards the open air. “Let’s get you into the sun.” 

A rumble of a small biplane could be heard in the distance.

Captain Tom Sullivan stood and walked towards the doorway with his son in close pursuit. They reached the entrance and saw a twin-engine passenger plane in the field next to the farmhouse. The group ran across the field and boarded the plane.
                 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 38
Chapter thirty-eight

By dmt1967

Two men in black suits and shades stood either side of the plane hatch. They saluted, slammed, and locked the door once the general and his son entered.

“We’re ready for take-off, Commander,” the taller of the two shouted above the noise of the engines. 

Jake raised his eyebrow. “Commander?”

Tom sighed and turned crimson. “In the army, I left with the rank of captain but you—” he jerked his head towards Jake –“the—” he waved his left hand in the air –"Filtiam promoted me and put me in charge of the human lesion.” 

Jake smiled and shook his head. “So, even that was a lie.” He sank into a cream leather seat and gazed out of the window.

Tom reached out and touched Jake’s arm. “Look, Son...”

“Save it, D... C... What do you want me to call you?”

Tom Sullivan gave a sheepish grin. “Well, you can still call me Dad. Nothing has changed and I—"

Jake stared at him. “You can’t believe that! Everything has changed.” His hands shook as he raised his voice. “I find out my dad’s not my dad. I discover

I’m not human. I am deceived, betrayed and, oh save it.” Jake turned his face away and stared out of the window.

“Ahem.” The two security men glanced at each other and frowned. “We are about to take off, Sir. We need you to strap in.” 

Tom sighed. “We can talk about this when we land.”

“Talk about what! The fact that you lied to me not only about my origin but about you and your secret life. You know I forgave you for not telling me about my adoption and about the real me. I thought he couldn’t. Thought you were trying to save my feelings. I thought you were the good guys for taking me in; giving me a roof over my head; a stranger’s son, but now.” Jake covered his face with his hands. “How can I ever trust you again, or him. The general’s not only my father but my boss!”

Tom grimaced. “We were trying to protect you. We thought—"

“Thought, thought what? That I couldn’t take it? That you might mess with my head?”

Tom lowered his head and stared at the floor. “Yes. We thought one shock was enough. We—"

“Oh, save it.” Jake sat down and put his seat belt on he caught Vera’s eye and she smiled at him. He gave her a curt smile and turned back to the window.

Tom sat next to his wife.

Jake’s ears pricked as he saw her open her mouth to speak.

Vera leaned towards him. “He’s not taking this well.”

Tom nodded.

“I thought he forgave us back there.”

“Maybe you, but not me. I was his hero, his knight, but now; I’m his villain. Maybe he’ll never trust me again?” Tom leaned back and closed his eyes. 

The desert turned from sand to water as the plane flew over the sea. Jake stared out of the window with unseen eyes. God, to see Callore again. But what about my problem. Should I tell her about my desire to be a woman? Would she flip? It was not nice being lied to. But did I lie? I didn’t deceive her as my two so-called fathers did to me. But she lied to me as well. She knew about Tom and the general’s relationship and she never told me. Do I really want to be in a relationship like that? A voice broke Jake’s line of thought.

“We’re here,” Adrian shouted.

Jake touched his parted lips. “How do you know?”

Adrian yawned and stretched. “I can see Vampire Mountain.”

A snowy terrain appeared on the horizon. The plane dropped and began its descent.

“A group will meet us there. The general wants to see us at once to discuss the plan,” Adrian whispered.

Tom raised an eyebrow. “How does he know that?” he mouthed.

Jake shrugged. “By brain waves. They work the same as mobiles, but the receiver is the mind and not a phone. I thought you would know that.”

Tom shrugged. “I know werepires, vamps and wolves have the ability, but I always thought Adrian was a human.” He frowned and scratched his head.

“Isn’t he?”

“I would have thought the general would have shared Adrian’s situation with his great friend,” Jake spat through clenched teeth.

Captain Tom Sullivan opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, and shut it again. 

The plane touched down with a bump and came to a stop. Adrian nudged Vera and Tommy. 

Tommy yawned. “Are we there yet?”

Adrian nodded, opened the door, and climbed out of the plane onto the tarmac.

Jake bit his lip. “I didn’t know we had an airstrip.”

Adrian grinned and touched his nose with his index finger. “Now, if we showed you everything in your first go, life would get boring, don’t you think Master Wolfhound?” 

Jake gazed around at his now-familiar home with its row of huts on one side and its column of trees on the other. This is my home, or I thought it was, but now...

“Jake, I’ve missed you so much.” Callore threw her arms around him and tried to kiss him.

He took both her hands and held her at arm’s length.

 She frowned. “What’s the matter?”

Jake’s nostrils flared. “You knew.”

Callore starched her head. “Knew what?” She spotted the commander and waved. “Oh, I get you. Yes, I knew.”

“You don’t even sound sorry,” Jack sputtered.

Callore shook her head, pulled her captured wrists out of his grasp, and sighed. “Tell you what? This is war, young wolfhound, and in war, even your closest to you will keep certain things hidden if it means keeping you safe.” She tried to place her hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off. “Oh, grow up. I couldn’t tell even if I wanted to. It wasn’t my place. I—,” she frowned— “I hope you haven’t been given him a hard time.”

Jake snorted. “A hard time! He lied, you lied, everyone lied. Is that why some soldiers are laughing at me because they knew, and I didn’t?”

Callore swallowed a laugh and hid her wide grin behind her hand. “No, my sweet. They’re laughing because of your inexperience and some, quite frankly don’t believe you should be next in line to lead due to you growing up with humans. Also, the elders think you are too immature.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m beginning to see why.”

Jake clenched and unclenched his fists. “Don’t laugh at me! Why do you think this is funny! This is not funny!”

Callore narrowed her eyes. “No, it’s not. Did you upset him?”

Jake shuffled his feet. “Who?”

“The commander.”

“Maybe.”

“Oh, Jake.” Callore threw her hands in the air. “Do you know what he and his wife gave up for you? Do you know the sacrifices the general and Eva made to keep you safe? Do you think it was easy for her to give up her only son? How easy do you think two humans had it looking after the next wolfhound leader? It was hell for both parties. Tom and Vera gave up everything, their home, their lives, their safety to care for you. The general and Eva sacrificed their son, sent him away to be cared for by others for his safety.” She shook her head. “At least your parents loved you, both pairs. All mine ever wanted to do was kill or change me into a full-bred vampire.” She turned away and a tear trickled down her cheek.
Jake turned red. “I’m s-sorry. I hate being lied to and, I didn’t know. I—"

Adrian tapped Jake on the shoulder. “The general wants to see us pronto.”

Callore tilted her head to one side and outstretched her arm. “So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to act like our next leader or like a schoolboy the elders think you are?”

Jake took her and sighed. “Well, put like that, do I have a choice?”

Callore grinned and shook her head. “No, not really.” 

Jake tried to pull his hand away.

Callore rolled her eyes. “Now, what?”

Might as well get everything out there. She kept this from me, I kept this from her, guess we’re even. He screwed up his face. “There’s more.”

“Can’t it wait. The general—"

Jake shook his head. “No, this concerns our future, that’s if we have a future after you hear what I have to say.” 
 
 
 


Chapter 39
Chapter thirty-nine

By dmt1967

Jake strode towards the barrages and Callore ran after him. She slid her hand into the crook of his arm and matched his pace until they stopped outside the hut. Jake opened the door. He gazed around the sparse, dimly lit room and sighed. Three wooden camp beds with a tartan blanket on each stood at the far side of his quarters. 

Callore squeezed Jake’s hand. “Whatever it is, my love, we will fix it.”

Jake stared into space and a vacant expression plastered on his face. “I was thinking about Jason.”

Callore screwed her face up. “Jason, Jason.” She clicked her fingers. “Jason, your human friend. The one that wandered off and got killed by the vampires. If I remember rightly, we killed his killers, didn’t we?”

Jake set his jaw. “Yes, but the hurt and guilt are still there.”

Callore scratched her head. “Why guilt? We never told him to run away.”

“But it was because of us he did,” Jake growled. “Because I was too much of a coward to tell him about us.”

“But you looked for him and your intentions were good, it’s just your cousin, Hassorev got to him first.” Callore placed her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. “It wasn’t your fault, my love.

Jake shrugged her hand away and turned his back on her. “But it was my fault he came here, my fault, no one else’s. If I hadn’t been so selfish and wanted to say goodbye to him...” He turned towards her and jerked his finger in her direction. “If I had told him he couldn’t come.” He took another step towards her. “If I had been a better friend and been honest with him from the start... Told him I didn’t love him, not the way he loved me...” He stuffed his fist in his mouth and his shoulders slumped.

Callore reached out, pulled Jake into her arms, and ran her fingers through his jet-black hair. “I’m sorry, my love. I keep forgetting you grew up with humans. We ‘Pires take after our vampire ancestors in that respect. We revenge our loved ones and move on. Honesty is not a word we use. A situation like this would not exist in our world as we keep secrets from our loved ones to keep them safe and they know it. Honesty is a human word and you are human. Maybe not biologically, but you were brought up by them. I should have been more understanding. Honesty is important to you.”    

Jake gulped back a tear and shuddered. Pull yourself together, Boy. He took a deep breath, shut his eyes, and gave himself a mental shake. He opened them again and gazed down at Callore. “Please don’t.”

Callore frowned. “Don’t what?”

“Be so nice.” He got up from the bed and walked to the window. “After my outburst, I don’t deserve; nice.”

“Please, Jake, tell me. You’re scaring me now.”

Jake turned towards her and hung his head. “The fact is—." He gulped. We’ve been through so much. Will this be the one that breaks us? “The fact is I’ve been lying to you too.”

Callore put her hand to her mouth. “Y-you don’t love me?”

Jake’s jaw dropped. “Of course, I love you. You are my world. It’s tearing me apart, the thought I might lose you.”

Callore jumped up and ran to Jake. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. “That’s all that matters. Anything else we can work out. Diversity is what we do.”

Jake smiled. “You don’t know my secret yet.”

Callore released him and sighed. “We all have secrets, Jake. I told you, honesty is a human thing but, I guess, if we are to share a life, I will have to tell you mine.” She took a deep breath and let it out, slowly. “When I have this child, I am going to morph into a man,” she blurted out.

Jake stared at her open-mouthed.

“See,” she cried. “So, unless you are gay or if you don’t mind, you will be married to a man.” She buried her face in her hands and started to sob.

Jake laughed and hugged her. “That’s wonderful.”

She gazed into her eyes. “I’m glad you think so,” she huffed.

He wiped away her tears with the palm of his hand. “My love, I want to be a woman.”

Callore tilted her head to one side. “Really?” her body stiffened. “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better,” she sniffed.

Jake picked her up, swung her around, and kissed her full on the lips. “Really. I have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you.”

The corners of Callore’s mouth started to lift. “Adrian has been trying to make a potion to stop the transformation taking place, but—" She stopped and dropped her gaze. “I should tell you; he’s a wizard.”

“I know.”

Callore grinned. “He told you. He must like you to have told you his darkest secret, but don’t tell the General or Eva.”

“They know.”

“You’re joking!”

Jake shook his head. “Everyone knows, and they are cool with it.”

Callore put her head to one side. “You know I think there have been too many secrets floating around. We are fighting for the right to be different, yet we are just as bad as the creatures we are fighting against.” She pressed her lips together. “But I wouldn’t tell the troops just yet.”

Jake rubbed the back of his neck. “Why?”

Callore shrugged. “They might not understand.”

 “I thought every ‘Pire could choose what sex they want to be?”

Callore lowered her eyes. “They can, but they usually choose when they turn five. We mature quicker than other species and we know our minds then. Most of us make our first kill at three.”

Jake threw his arms in the air. “I thought we were fighting against this narrow mindedness. I thought the General wanted a utopia, where we can live hand in paw with humans and other creatures in peace. Where our children can choose who they want to be and not live by ancient rules?” 

Callore kissed her forefinger and put it to Jake’s lips. “We are my love. But that takes time. There are some ‘Pires that think creatures and humans should never mix. They are not happy about their next leader having human tendencies. They are waiting until the unrest is settled before they act. You cannot show weakness or emotion in front of them.”

Jake gritted his teeth. “What about Adrian’s potion? When you change so must I. I cannot wait for their acceptance.”

Callore smiled. “Once I become a man and you a woman, we will have won the war and the General would have built the first utopia town. Everyone will see his plan come alive and it is working. They won’t be afraid or mistrust the idea anymore.” 

Jake grabbed Callore’s arm. “Let’s get married now.”

Callore grinned. “You’ve already proposed you dope. We are after the war and—"

Jake shook his head, let go of her arm, and marched to the door. “No, I mean tonight.” Jake opened the door. “Oh, wait. We can’t.”

“Why can’t we?”

“We haven’t got a priest or anything.”

“Adrian’s a Wiseman, which is the creature’s equivalent.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Of course, he is.”

Callore giggled, ran out of the door, and pulled Jake after her. “Come on, let’s tell the others. We can have a mixed marriage and please all your parents.”

Callore jogged through the compound towards the general’s quarters. Donors came out of huts as they passed while others entered to start their blood giving shift. To the left of the couple Mr Goat, the combat trainer bellowed out orders and took the recruits through their drills. ‘Pire soldiers marched past in their brown uniforms each with a pistol strapped to their belt. Jake sighed and followed; his stomach churned at the thought of what that might entail. They reached the Generals quarters and Callore knocked on the door.

“Enter,” they heard a voice bark.

The pair pushed the door open and walked in.

The general sat at his desk. “I’m so glad you two could make it,” he growled. “We have important work to do. The plan will bring about the end of this war.”

Eva raised her hand. “Now, Filtiam. These young pups have a life outside work and the war.” She closed one eye. “I think they have an announcement to make.”

Jake cleared his throat and glanced around the room. “We want to get married now.”

The general tutted and rolled his eyes. “We know that, already.” He tapped his fingertips on his desk and turned back to the group. “Now, as I was saying if we—"

Eva jumped out of her seat. “That’s not what he’s saying. He means right now.”

Jake nodded and turned to Adrian. “Would you marry us?”

The general stood. “Why the hurry? Peace is nearly here. Why don’t you wait till then?”

Jake rubbed the back of his neck. “We can’t wait. The babies will be here by then and Callore might morph.”

Eva pursed her lips. “Yes, I forgot that side of childbirth for Humpires.”

Vera and the captain exchanged glances and shrugged.

Eva sighed. “Callore is a Humpire. When these types of ‘Pires give birth, their body builds a cocoon around themselves, rather like a butterfly, and they transform into the opposite sex. In Callore’s case, a man.”

Little Tommy scratched his head. “But if she turns into him, will Jake turn into a woman?”  

Jake walked over to the boy and ruffled his hair. “I hope so. I’ve always wanted to be a woman. Ever since I was your age.”

Jake waited for the insults, the catcalls, and the laughter, but none came. His eyes darted around the room for a sign of a smirk, but he saw none. Everyone in the room gazed at him with tenderness and care.

“I’d love to help. Jake,” Adrian whispered. “But I can’t. To marry you, I’d have to be a Wiseman, and only wizards and elders are—” he shrugged and stared at his curled-up toe shoes.

Callore gave Adrian a wide grin. “Everyone knows you’re a wizard darling. That bolt is off the wall and in the toolbox.”

Adrian gazed around the room. “You know,” he whispered to the general.

The general walked over to Adrian and slapped him on the back. “I’ve known since you arrived, my friend.” He grinned. “For one thing, humans might keep vampires young, but the glow every time Eva sucks your neck is something else.” 

Adrian took a step back. “Why didn’t you say anything?” He turned towards Eva, “why didn’t you?”

The general shrugged. “It wasn’t my place. I knew when you were ready, you’d tell us.”

Adrian beamed. He turned to Jake and Callore. “In that case, we’d better get ready if we want to be married in a few hours. I have ordained over marriages before, but they have only been Wizards marrying wizards. This is a first for me and, I must say, I’m kind of excited. What type of wedding would you like?”

Callore glanced at Jake, and he nodded. “We’d like a mixed one, with a few human, vampire and werewolf traditions thrown in.”

Jake walked up to commander Tom Sullivan and placed a hand on the shoulder. “I want you to be my best man, Dad.”

Tom beamed and hugged Jake. A tear rolled down his cheek. “Are you sure, Son?”

Jake gave a curt nod. “Callore told me everything, thanks, Dad, for keeping me safe.”

Callore turned towards the general. “And I would love for you to give me away. You have been like a father to me, and I just...” She sniffed and swallowed the lump in her throat. “I would be honoured if you carried my collar.” She turned towards Eva and Vera. “And I would be grateful if you two carried my lead.”  

“It would be our pleasure,” both women cried in unison.              


Chapter 40
Chapter fourty

By dmt1967

Jake stared at his reflection in the mirror. His slanted sky-blue eyes scanned his reflection. He touched his scar on his cheek with his fingertips and thought back to his first battle. I’ve come a long way since then. What’s happened to the puny kid? The bully’s dream. He flexed his muscular arms, and a grin appeared on his hairy wolfish face. I’m a bully’s nightmare. His ears pricked as he heard the creak of the door.

Tom Sullivan, his human foster father, poked his head around the door. He cleared his throat. “You okay?”

Jake nodded and frowned. “Yes, thanks.” He scratched his chin and waited. 

His human father shuffled his feet and stared at his feet.

“You okay?”

Tom looked up. “I just wanted to say, eh, what I mean is... The thing is...” He smiled. “I’m proud of you, son and if you need to know stuff all you got to do is ask.”

Jake touched the base of his neck with his palm. “Like, what?”

Tom stuffed both hands into his dark suit trouser pockets. “You know.”

Jake poked his tongue into his left cheek and gave Tom a hard stare. “No, not really.”

“Afterwards,” Tom whispered.

“After what?” 

Tom lowered his eyes and shuffled his feet. “After you are married. We never talked, and—”

Jake shook his head. “Talk, what talk?” What is he on about? The most important day of my life and he is on about the talk. What the hell. A light switch turned on in Jake’s brain. He hid his grin behind his hand. “Em, no need, Dad. I sort of get the whole after marriage bit.”

Tom gave a great big sigh. “Good good. Just as well. Probably nothing I can advise you on anyway. Callore and you probably are more aggressive in that department, being half-vampire and all. Me and your mum, well, she likes it tender and gentle.”

Jake screwed up his face. “Grouse. Too much information.”

Tom turned crimson. “Well, better get off and let you get on.” He turned and exited the room.

Jake straightened his dog collar and gazed at himself, once more in the mirror. He heard someone knock on the door.

The general poked his head into the room. “You ready yet, Son? Everybody’s waiting.”

  Jake nodded. “How do I look?”
   
          The general entered, walked up to Jake, and straightened his white lead clipped to the pocket of his black suit. “You look great,” he sniffed.
 
 Jake took a step back. “You’re not crying, are you?”

 The general turned and shielded his face from view with his hand. “No,” he growled. “Blasted hay fever has started my nose off again. We wolves have exceptional smell and flowers affect us.” He put his hands behind his back and blushed. “Eh, maybe we should talk about after the wedding. Humans do that sort of thing, don’t they? Vamps and Wolves just do the deed. We tend not to talk about it. Once we exchange dog leads, we carry our mates to the hut and ravage them, but...”

Jake rolled his eyes. The downside of having two sets of parents. Double the embarrassment. “That’s okay, General. Dad’s already spoken to me.”

If the General felt disappointed by being referred to as general and Tom Sullivan being called Dad, he did not show it. He turned, clicked his heels, and marched out of the room 

Jake grinned and followed the general out of the room and to the field.
        
     My God, the path’s covered with rose petals, and so is the field. Is that Callore? She looks beautiful. God, I love her. Adrian looks great too, in his cloak and hat. He has done us proud, getting all this ready at a moment’s notice.
       
     Jake walked up to Callore and stopped. He took her hand and gazed into her eyes. She looks great in her black, white, and red wedding dress with her red lead clipped to it. I wish we were already married, as all I want is to take her in my arms.

 “Have you got the collars and leads?” Adrian whispered to little Tommy.
          
  Tommy nodded and handed a red lead, and a black Dimond studded collar to the general and a red lead and a Dimond embossed collar to the commander. He turned and sat on the seat on the left side of the alter. The two men stood on either side of Adrian with the collars held in front of them.

Jake took the red one, while Callore reached for the black one.

Adrian took the leads and held them outstretched in his hands. “Say your vows.”
          
  Jake placed the red collar around Callore’s neck and took her hand. “I place this collar around your neck.”

Jake shivered as Callore put the black collar around his neck and repeated the words.

Adrian handed Callore a black lead and Jake the red one. “Now clip these onto the collar.
          
  Jake’s hands shook as he complied with the command. “I will love you always. Where you shall lead, I will follow. May my leash to the pack and my lead to you never get tangled.”  
         
   Callore smiled and winked at Jake as she clipped the lead in her hands on his collar and repeated the words.

Adrian produced a long, sharp blade, and the two young ‘Pires put their hands on the altar, palms up. The wizard cut both of their palms and stepped back. He took some twine out of his pocket and tied the two injured hands together. Their blood met and droplets dripped on the otherwise white table.

            Adrian handed them a smaller knife each and joined the general who sat on the field with the rest of Jake’s family, cross-legged.

Jake took the knife and cut one of the pieces of twine. “We are of the same blood.”

Callore cut the second bind. “We are one for eternity.”

They both cut the third and last tie. “We are one in battle and also in death,” they both chanted in unison.

            Jake took Callore’s hand and licked her wound. The cut in her hand vanished. Callore copied his action.

Adrian rose and walked towards the couple. He stopped a few paces to the right of them and grinned. “You are now connected, never to be pulled apart. You may bite your mate”

Jake stepped backwards. “We may what?”

Adrian sighed. It is customary.”

Jake shook his head. “I thought we could just kiss. I thought we were going to have a mixed ceremony with human traditions as well.”

Callore leaned forward. “We are.”

Jake’s jaw dropped. “Where? The whole ceremony has been wolf and vamp. Human’s don’t exchange dog collars or cut each other. Where is the human bit?”

Callore stood on tiptoes and pulled his ear to her mouth. “You are taking me back to the cabin. When vamps and wolves intertwine, they never consummate their marriage under a roof.”

Jake’s eyes opened wide. “You don’t mean...”

Callore nodded.

“What, in front of everyone?”

Callore nodded, again.

“uck. Wolves and vamps are disgusting.”

Callore grinned and held out her hand.

Jake sighed. He took her hand and bit it. He held his hand out for her to bite.

She shook her head.

“Now, what?”

“It’s a one-way thing. It’s showing the pack I trust you to lead me.” 

Jake curled his bottom lip. “That’s a bit chauvinistic.”

Callore shrugged. “Not really. It’s a trust thing. I trust you to lead and you trust me to be your right-hand. If anything happens to the General and Eva the clan knows we will step up to the plate, as you humans say.” She turned towards the crowd and held up her hand. A drop of blood trickled to the floor. 

The clan rose and howled at the moon. 

Callore grasped Jake’s hand. She kissed him on the cheek. “Now, we can go back to the Cabin and have some fun. We need to be quick, though. Not sure how much time we’ll have before, oh.” She held her stomach and fell to the ground.
 


Chapter 41
Chapter forty-one

By dmt1967

Jake stared at his reflection in the mirror. His slanted sky-blue eyes scanned his reflection. He touched his scar on his cheek with his fingertips and thought back to his first battle. I’ve come a long way since then. What’s happened to the puny kid? The bully’s dream. He flexed his muscular arms, and a grin appeared on his hairy wolfish face. I’m a bully’s nightmare. His ears pricked as he heard the creak of the door.

Tom Sullivan, his human foster father, poked his head around the door. He cleared his throat. “You okay?”

Jake nodded and frowned. “Yes, thanks.” He scratched his chin and waited. 

His human father shuffled his feet and stared at his feet.

“You okay?”

Tom looked up. “I just wanted to say, eh, what I mean is... The thing is...” He smiled. “I’m proud of you, son and if you need to know stuff all you got to do is ask.”

Jake touched the base of his neck with his palm. “Like, what?”

Tom stuffed both hands into his dark suit trouser pockets. “You know.”

Jake poked his tongue into his left cheek and gave Tom a hard stare. “No, not really.”

“Afterwards,” Tom whispered.

“After what?” 

Tom lowered his eyes and shuffled his feet. “After you are married. We never talked, and—”

Jake shook his head. “Talk, what talk?” What is he on about? The most important day of my life and he is on about the talk. What the hell. A light switch turned on in Jake’s brain. He hid his grin behind his hand. “Em, no need, Dad. I sort of get the whole after marriage bit.”

Tom gave a great big sigh. “Good good. Just as well. Probably nothing I can advise you on anyway. Callore and you probably are more aggressive in that department, being half-vampire and all. Me and your mum, well, she likes it tender and gentle.”

Jake screwed up his face. “Grouse. Too much information.”

Tom turned crimson. “Well, better get off and let you get on.” He turned and exited the room.

Jake straightened his dog collar and gazed at himself, once more in the mirror. He heard someone knock on the door.

The general poked his head into the room. “You ready yet, Son? Everybody’s waiting.”

Jake nodded. “How do I look?”

The general entered, walked up to Jake, and straightened his white lead clipped to the pocket of his black suit. “You look great,” he sniffed.

Jake took a step back. “You’re not crying, are you?”

The general turned and shielded his face from view with his hand. “No,” he growled. “Blasted hay fever has started my nose off again. We wolves have exceptional smell and flowers affect us.” He put his hands behind his back and blushed. “Eh, maybe we should talk about after the wedding. Humans do that sort of thing, don’t they? Vamps and Wolves just do the deed. We tend not to talk about it. Once we exchange dog leads, we carry our mates to the hut and ravage them, but...”

Jake rolled his eyes. The downside of having two sets of parents. Double the embarrassment. “That’s okay, General. Dad’s already spoken to me.”

If the General felt disappointed by being referred to as general and Tom Sullivan being called Dad, he did not show it. He turned, clicked his heels, and marched out of the room 

Jake grinned and followed the general out of the room and to the field.

My God, the path’s covered with rose petals, and so is the field. Is that Callore? She looks beautiful. God, I love her. Adrian looks great too, in his cloak and hat. He has done us proud, getting all this ready at a moment’s notice.

Jake walked up to Callore and stopped. He took her hand and gazed into her eyes. She looks great in her black, white, and red wedding dress with her red lead clipped to it. I wish we were already married, as all I want is to take her in my arms.

“Have you got the collars and leads?” Adrian whispered to little Tommy.

Tommy nodded and handed a red lead, and a black Dimond studded collar to the general and a red lead and a Dimond embossed collar to the commander. He turned and sat on the seat on the left side of the alter. The two men stood on either side of Adrian with the collars held in front of them.

Jake took the red one, while Callore reached for the black one.

Adrian took the leads and held them outstretched in his hands. “Say your vows.”

            Jake placed the red collar around Callore’s neck and took her hand. “I place this collar around your neck.”

            Jake shivered as Callore put the black collar around his neck and repeated the words.

            Adrian handed Callore a black lead and Jake the red one. “Now clip these onto the collar.
 Jake’s hands shook as he complied with the command. “I will love you always. Where you shall lead, I will follow. May my leash to the pack and my lead to you never get tangled.”  
        
    Callore smiled and winked at Jake as she clipped the lead in her hands on his collar and repeated the words.
  
          Adrian produced a long, sharp blade, and the two young ‘Pires put their hands on the altar, palms up. The wizard cut both of their palms and stepped back. He took some twine out of his pocket and tied the two injured hands together. Their blood met and droplets dripped on the otherwise white table.
          
  Adrian handed them a smaller knife each and joined the general who sat on the field with the rest of Jake’s family, cross-legged.
 
           Jake took the knife and cut one of the pieces of twine. “We are of the same blood.”

            Callore cut the second bind. “We are one for eternity.”

            They both cut the third and last tie. “We are one in battle and also in death,” they both chanted in unison.
  
          Jake took Callore’s hand and licked her wound. The cut in her hand vanished. Callore copied his action.

Adrian rose and walked towards the couple. He stopped a few paces to the right of them and grinned. “You are now connected, never to be pulled apart. You may bite your mate”

Jake stepped backwards. “We may what?”

Adrian sighed. It is customary.”

Jake shook his head. “I thought we could just kiss. I thought we were going to have a mixed ceremony with human traditions as well.”

Callore leaned forward. “We are.”

Jake’s jaw dropped. “Where? The whole ceremony has been wolf and vamp. Human’s don’t exchange dog collars or cut each other. Where is the human bit?”

Callore stood on tiptoes and pulled his ear to her mouth. “You are taking me back to the cabin. When vamps and wolves intertwine, they never consummate their marriage under a roof.”

Jake’s eyes opened wide. “You don’t mean...”

Callore nodded.

“What, in front of everyone?”

Callore nodded, again.

“uck. Wolves and vamps are disgusting.”

Callore grinned and held out her hand.

Jake sighed. He took her hand and bit it. He held his hand out for her to bite.

She shook her head.

“Now, what?”

“It’s a one-way thing. It’s showing the pack I trust you to lead me.” 

Jake curled his bottom lip. “That’s a bit chauvinistic.”

Callore shrugged. “Not really. It’s a trust thing. I trust you to lead and you trust me to be your right-hand. If anything happens to the General and Eva the clan knows we will step up to the plate, as you humans say.” She turned towards the crowd and held up her hand. A drop of blood trickled to the floor. 

The clan rose and howled at the moon. 

Callore grasped Jake’s hand. She kissed him on the cheek. “Now, we can go back to the Cabin and have some fun. We need to be quick, though. Not sure how much time we’ll have before, oh.” She held her stomach and fell to the ground.
 
 


Chapter 42
Chapter forty-two

By dmt1967

Jake caught her before she hit the ground. “What’s the matter, my love?”

Callore groaned. “The cubs,” she gasped. “Get Adrian.”
    
        Jake frowned as the rest of the group hurried to Callore’s side. “Adrian! Why Adrian?”
      
      Callore screamed. “Because he’s the equivalent of a mid-wife.”

raised his eyebrows. “Of course, he is,” he muttered before Adrian pushed him out of the way.
         
   “Okay, my darling, open your legs wide and let me see,” Adrian ordered before he disappeared under her dress. “Yes, I can see the ears. Right, sweetheart, just one more push, and oh…”

“Oh, what do you mean, oh?” Jake cried.

Adrian lifted his head. “Well, I think you’re having twins; no, I am wrong, its triplets. Now stand back.” Adrian got onto his knees and shuffled back a few meters. “Ready, steady, go.”

The first cub shot out of Callore like a rocket, Adrian caught it by the leg and passed it to the general. “That’s a boy.” The second baby bounced on the ground before Adrian caught it in mid-air. He handed it to Eva. “That’s a girl.” The last little one flew straight at Adrian. He caught it and gave it to Jake.

"Another boy.” Adrian rose and brushed the dirt off his trousers. “That’s it. How are you feeling my dear?”

Callore gasped and tried to sit up. “I think I’m all right.” She reached out for her babies and Adrian gave her the two boys while Jake cradled the girl.

“Is it normal for them to have so much hair and big goofy teeth?” Jake cuddled his cub daughter to his chest.

Callore scowled. “They have not got goofy teeth. They are perfect.” She yawned. “Quick, let’s name them before—” she closed her eyes.

Jake shook her shoulder with his free hand. “Callore, are you still with us?”

She opened her eyes and gave him a weak smile. “Yes, my love. But we must be quick. I can feel it.” 

The general cleared his throat. “Well, the traditional thing would be to call him after you.”

Jake grinned. “What, Jake?”

The general glared at his son. “No, your proper name, Adoifo. It means noble wolf and—”

Jake caught Callore’s eye, and she nodded.

“The first boy will be called Jason,” Jake whispered.

“Jason,” the general bellowed. “You can’t call him, JASON. What are you going to call the rest, Pete and Debbie?”

Eva folded her hands across her chest and tapped her foot. “You just calm down.” She bent down near Callore and smiled. “What are you going to call the others, Honey?”

Callore’s breath became shallow, so Jake spoke for her. “We thought we would honour both of you by calling the boy, Cuan, and the girl, Clemente.”

Eva and the general nodded.

“Cuan means little wolf and is a time-honoured name among my pack.”

“Clemente is an insult to the vampire king as it means gentle and merciful.” Eva grinned, and her canines shone in the moonlight. “And I love it. Also, if our plan to end the war works, it’ll be a very fitting name.”

Callore moaned, and Jake mopped her face with a wet cloth, handed Clemente to Vera and Cuan to Eva. He reached out and held her hand. “Now what?”

Callore shrugged and turned her gaze on Adrian. “How long have I got?”

Adrian rubbed the palm of his hands down his pants. “Not sure. It could take a few days, or…oh.”

Callore tried to rise. “What do you mean, oh?”

Adrian stared at her feet. “Look!”

Everyone gazed at Callore’s feet, green slime oozed out of her pores and covered her legs. It started to move up her body. Jake let go of her hand.

Callore lay back down on the floor and pursed her lips. They turned red, and her limbs became stiff as the green slime covered her whole body and became a frozen solid block of ice.

Jake bowed his head, and a tear trickled down his cheek. “Sleep well, my darling.”

The general and the captain picked Callore up and walked towards her hut. Jake and the others followed behind. I miss her so much. I wonder how long her transformation will be. I need to stay strong. I must be mum and dad to my little cubette’s.

The procession stopped, and Jake pushed the door open to the hut they would have shared. The two men placed Callore on the bed.

Adrian stood in the doorway and gazed upon the girl he always thought of as his daughter. “I need to work on the potion to turn you into a woman, so when Callore transforms, you two can live up to your vows,” he sniffed.

Jake nodded. “You do that.” He turned towards the general. “And we have got to implement this plan of yours. I want peace when Callore returns. I want us to start a life and not fight a war together. I want my children to grow up in the community you want to build where everyone is equal, and differences don’t matter. Where we can all live as one, humans and creatures alike.”

The general nodded. “The plan is simple. We make your grandfathers sign a treaty saying they will let the ‘pires live among them and, if not except our differences, at least respect them.”

Jake’s took a step back and his jaw dropped. “And how in hell are you going to do that?”

The general rubbed his hands together. “By kidnapping them and not letting them go until they sign.”

Jake shook his head. “Are you mad? We’ll have the vampires and the werewolves after us. They won’t take too kindly to us, locking up their leaders.”

The general smirked, walked to the door, and turned. “It’s a win-win situation. Either they sign the agreement, or we have all our enemies under one roof, so to speak, and we can kill them off.” The general started to whistle as he strolled out of the room.

Jake took one last look at Callore, sighed, and followed the General out of the room. The soldiers stood to attention as they passed by. The General snapped his fingers and pointed at two of them in line. “You two come with me.” Tom Sullivan blocked his way. “I’m coming too.”

The general frowned and shook his head. “No. This is too dangerous for a human.” He stuck out his chest. “We will be dealing with vamps and whoever else he has sucked into his idealism. I can’t have a human getting in my way. You will be no match for the likes of them and I will be too busy dealing with god knows what to worry about you.” 

Tom’s face turned bright red and he stuck out his jaw. “I can look after myself. Have done for as long as I can remember. Looked after your son as well.
Me being human never mattered then.”

“We need another body. Without Callore and Eva, we are one short. This is a five-man mission, really,” Jake panted as he caught up with the General and heard the tail end of the conversation.

“I never said that. When did I say that?” General growled.

“Well, it should be. The Captain can take over the operation if we get killed.”

Some of the soldiers snickered.

The General turned to face his men. “If anything happens to me and my son the Captain is to take over the operation and you are to follow his orders. Do I make myself clear?”

The creatures stood up straight and saluted. “Yes, Sir,” they barked in unison.

The General started to jog towards the border and the soldiers followed.

Jake cleared his throat. “I, err, better carry you on my shoulders. We don’t want to give the General an opportunity to say you can’t come, do we?”

The Captain gave a little laugh and jumped onto Jake’s back.

Jake began to sprint after the rest of the troop. He could feel the Captains arms around his neck tighten the faster he went and tried to keep his movement as smooth as he could. The green grass turned to red mud as he crossed the combat training ground and skidded to a halt before he reached the ravine border which separated ‘Pire Valley from the rest of Creature County. He spotted the others on the other side. “This might be a bit rough so, hold on.” 

“I’ll be okay,” the Captain whispered.

Jake took a step into the water. The stones dug into his bare feet and the water felt cool as it lapped at his ankles. It did not take him long to join the others in Vampire forest.

“We need to be on stealth mode from here,” The General muttered. 

The group crept towards the campsite. Their eyes darted from side to side and their ears pricked up as they listened for any sign of danger. 

A bird chirped in a tree nearby. Jake stopped and put up his hand as the bushes rustled to his left. The others froze, ready to attack. A deer scampered through the bush followed by a fawn. She stopped and sniffed the air, turned away from the troop, and galloped towards the heavy greenery, her baby in tow. 

Jake exhaled. A bead of sweat appeared on his forehead and a small tremor shot up his back. He tilted his head to one side at the sound of music and laughter through the undergrowth. 

“We must be near the campsite.” The General nose twitched. “I can smell something. It’s not Vamps, though.” He inhaled. “Missimo is here. I can smell him.” He turned to Jake. “You climb that tree—” he pointed at a tall oak tree a few meters to their right— “and see what you can see.”

Jake nodded and sprang up the trunk like a cougar, one hand after another. He crouched on the edge of the branch and gazed into the vampire’s campsite. This plan is suicidal. Even if we live through this, how are we going to convince my respective grandparents to sign the treaty and comply with it? The idea of a town in every country of the world where people and creatures alike can live in harmony is somewhere, I would want to live, but is it something I want to die for? His mind wandered back to his cocooned wife and his triplet cubs. Will I ever see them again? His eyes darted left and right. Men like creatures walked around in white and green tunics with flat caps perched on their heads. Each creature wore a double embodied gunslinger holster curled around their broad shoulders and muscular midsections. A row of coffins stood to attention in the middle of the compound like little soldiers with a flag mounted on the roof with a picture of a vampire and, in his fist, a bloody human head. Well, if I don’t stay focused, it will be a defined possibility they’ll grow up in a one-parent household. He heard a rustle of leaves behind him and spun around.

The general grinned. “It's only me, relax.”

Jake sighed. “Don't creep up on me like that.” 

The general shrugged and sat by the tree trunk. He looked up at the sky. “It's almost dawn. We will attack then. Hopefully, the vamps will be at their weakest. We will sneak into the enemy’s campsite, grab the vampire king and out before anyone will realize what is happening.”
Jake ran his fingers through his hair. “I hope so. It will be hard to explain to the cubs that their father is a cold hard killer.”

“So is their mother.”

“You're not helping, you know.”

The general put his hand on his son's shoulder. “Sorry…” he let his arm fall. “… know it's hard.” He turned away and stared at the ground. “Things will get better.”

They heard a noise in a bush to the left of the tree. The captain poked his head out and waved.

The general shook his head. “Speaking of fathers, I wish he wasn't here. He deals with human-vampire soldiers, not proper vampires.”

smiled. “He's been there for me all of my life and if you think he was going to sit on the side-lines during a battle as important and dangerous as this one is, you don’t know him as well as you think you do. Besides, he is a good man in a fight, and Eva trusted him with me.”

“I had hoped... He is a good man, but he is human and... Well... He is human!”

Jake’s eyes glowed red as he locked eyes with the general. “I'd rather have twenty humans like him than one creature any day of the week,” he growled.

The general raised his arms above his head, changed the subject. and peered into the campsite once more. “How were the children and Callore last night?”  

Jake curled his arms over his head. “The same. A solid green block, but even when she wakes, our problems won’t be over. Adrian is no nearer to a solution than he was last month. She will wake soon and be transformed into a man, and as for me.” He shrugged.

The general put his hand around Jake's shoulder. “Adrian will come through, you'll see.”

Jake sighed and stared into space. “I hope so. At least the cubs are too small to understand, and they are being looked after by Vera and Eva until

Callore has woken up.”

“Will Vera be able to take care of the little ones while the plan is in motion? Most of the army will be at the cabin by now with Eva and her coffin.”

“What, because she's a human?” Jake scowled.

The general rolled his eyes. “No! Because taking care of one child is hard enough, but three 'Pires, will be murder.”

Jake dropped his gaze and shuffled his feet. “She'll have Tommy and Adrian to help her.”

The general nodded and raised his arms. “I think it's about time.” He jumped down from the tree and landed near the captain.

Jake ran across the branch and somersaulted into the air. He landed a few feet away and started to creep forward. The campsite looked deserted as the group approached the door of a big fancy coffin with gold plated handles and a big steel door with carved Patten woodwork, and stopped by the wall at the back of it.

The captain peered inside the unlit room. “I take it that's him in the coffin.”

Jake nodded and looked around before he pushed the heavy door open and walked in. “I would have thought he would at least lock his door.”

“Why? They aren’t expecting an attack like this; in broad daylight.” The general marched up to the box and opened the lid. An elderly man with sharp canine teeth lay on the purple silk linen with a silk pillow under his head. He groaned but didn't open his eyes.

The general closed the coffin and turned to the two soldiers in the doorway. “Right, you two, pick him up, but be careful.”

The two soldiers hoisted the coffin onto their shoulders and turned towards the door.

Jake frowned. This too easy. Grandfather is too important not to have a guard or two. Even if they weren't vamps, he'd have creature, a dragon, or a...

The captain turned the handle and eased the door open.

“Where’re you going with our king, human?” an Ogre spat.

Jake peered over the shoulder of the soldiers, and his eyes opened wide as he saw three young Ogres with swords in their hands. 
 
 


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