“I’m not going to hurt you, but I am going to have to move against your masters. Are you going to warn them? I need to know now.”
Josh looked confused. “I’ll…I’ll have to talk about it with the others,” he said. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was going to though. If he couldn’t break free from them to live his life then he wasn’t going to stop himself from warning them. I rose from the bench and tried to think of something else to say, but nothing seemed appropriate. I left him there, wondering if we would ever be able to breech the distance between us.
I raced home, knowing there was only limited time to catch the masters unaware before Josh warned them. He seemed so shocked I didn’t think he was going to get back to the academy quickly, and I moved as swiftly as I could. I thought about the night we had shared together and realized now that it must have been one of their masters who had interrupted us and forced them to tell me to flee. I couldn’t imagine the meeting then, them being scolded and told that being with me was forbidden. They had been held down for so long, shackled by their gratitude for their lives, and all I wanted to do was free them.
Arthur was with Julia. She had started to spend her nights with us to complete her training, and like me she had found it easy to sneak in and out of the academy at night. Arthur saw how panicked I was and I didn’t wait for either of them to speak before I told them the news.
“I know where the masters are. They’re at the academy. The heads,” I said, and relayed the names.
“No way!” Julia said.
“How did you learn this information?” Arthur asked, concern creeping into his voice.
“It doesn’t matter how I learned it. What matters is that they’re there, and they’re so close. We have to go and confront them now,” I said.
“You knew today, didn’t you? I wondered why you weren’t around,” Julia said.
Arthur pondered my words.
“No, we must be patient. You might be ready to face them, but Julia certainly isn’t. If there’s more than one this could be more trouble. I might have to get in touch with the council and get them to send some help. This would be a great coup though. You have done good work Elsa,” he said.
“No, you don’t understand. We have to go now because they know we’re coming,” I said. I hated having to tell them that Josh and the others are vampires, but I knew I shouldn’t keep it from them.
“How do they know? Did you speak with them?” Arthur asked.
“No I…there’s another vampire there. Some boys. They were turned, but they aren’t evil. They had cancer and they were offered a treatment to save their lives. They took it. One of them told me about it,” I said. Julia gave me a knowing smirk, because she knew exactly which boys I referred to.
Arthur narrowed his eyes at me.
“I’m surprised to hear you talk like that Elsa. You know as well as I do that when someone is turned into a vampire their souls are taken. They’re not the same people as they were before. Evil takes root in them and it spreads through them like thorns. We cannot allow evil to spread with such wild abandon. Any vampire is a master waiting to happen. If they have been turned fully then they are being groomed and they will spread the evil and take over their own area of the land. I wouldn’t be surprised if these vampires are trying to put people in positions of authority, to educate a select few when they’re young and elevate them into power. I will have to go through the records of this academy and see how long this has been going on, but it’s good that we found this out now. We can stop it before it goes any further. If what you say is true and time is of the essence then you must go, but please, be careful. Both of you,” he said.
I nodded and went up to my room to get ready, gathering all my Slayer equipment. When I returned downstairs Julia was ready to go with me and we left Arthur behind. He seemed fretful and went straight to his study, where he would presumably call the council and tell them of what I had learned.
“Julia, no matter what happens tonight I don’t want anything to happen to Josh, Adam, or Troy,” I said.
“And I thought you believed that every vampire was evil?” she taunted.
“Let’s just take care of the masters, okay?” I said tersely. I wasn’t in the mood for her teasing. I was just as worried for Josh as I was for myself. I didn’t think his masters would take the fact that he had revealed their truth to me lightly. We made our way to the academy. I looked for any sign of Josh, but he was nowhere to be seen. I motioned for Julia to be quiet. We crept past the fountain. Now that I knew this was the home of vampires it had an entirely different feeling. My skin prickled with tension and my eyes darted about, trying to sense any sign of activity.
“Where are they?” Julia whispered.
“Probably inside,” I said. We made our way to the door and slipped inside. The lights had been dimmed to a faint glow and a hush had settled over the place. I assumed they were in their rooms, so I signaled for Julia to head towards the stairs, but just as I did we heard footsteps. Mrs. Thorpe emerged from the office where I had been interviewed.
“We’ve been expecting you. Come this way,” she said, gesturing towards the office. Julia glanced at me. Thankfully she seemed to be willing to let me take the lead. I thought there was no choice but to follow her. We walked into the office and saw the three of them sitting at the desk, just as they had been when I had arrived for my interview. Julia and I remained standing. My hand hovered near my precious stake.
“It’s taken you quite a while to find us. I’m a little disappointed. I see the standard of Slayers is slipping,” Mr. Hanon said. Mr. Griff just stared at us.
“You mean you knew? All this time?” I asked.
Mr. Griff wore a thin smile. There was malevolence in his eyes. “Of course we did. Do you think anything here happens without us knowing? We have taken measures to protect us against your kind. We try to encourage a safe place for the bloodlines. You’ll find that a lot of girls here are potential Slayers. Why do you think we kept you around in spite of all your misdemeanors?” his gaze shifted to Julia, who looked dumbfounded and chastened. I had always been warned that master vampires were patient and cunning, but to see it for myself gave me chills.
“It’s so nice of you to come to us instead of us coming to you. We have been expecting a showdown for a while, and it’s been a while since we’ve encountered a Slayer,” Mr. Hanon said.
“Indeed. Two at once is a rarity. It’s quite the boon for us. We’re going to be able to brag about this for a while,” Mrs. Thorpe said.