"All right, all right, settle down!" Desmond shouted over the noise of his first afternoon class talking amongst each other. "It's time to begin class. Now, today we will be discussing -"
"Professor Serrano?" A student had his hand up in the back of the room. It was a short boy, with brown hair that hung down to his shoulders. "Is it true that you're a vampire?"
Desmond went white immediately. That was his most closely-guarded secret - if not the most closely-guarded secret in the entire college. How did this boy know that? Who else knew something they shouldn't?
"Is it true? You're a bloodsucking freak?" The other students began taunting.
Desmond silenced the class with one hard, fiery gaze at the student who had first spoken. "Despite what you may have heard," Desmond began slowly, "I am not a vampire. Nor am I a werewolf, nor a shapeshifter of any kind, nor a ghost. These rumors have been going around ever since I began teaching here. Every semester, it's a new and even more exotic creature. Now, it appears, I'm a vampire - a beast that lurks around old castles and sleeps in coffins at night, draining the blood from its victims before they, themselves, rise again to join my kind. No. This is not true. I would advise you to inform all of your peers of this." Desmond paused at the last sentence. "Now then, on with today's subject: potions for healing any number of illnesses, wounds, injuries, or infections."
Desmond tore into the deer's throat, drinking in all of the blood and reveling in the relief that instantly flooded him. It felt so good. He had feared he might go into a rage soon, if he didn't find food. But then, a perfect opportunity happened along: a deer that had already been wounded by some predator's attack, and was now limping away to the nearby pond. Desmond had followed it, and finished it off with one quick strike from the dagger that he always carried on his belt before feeding, taking enough blood to sustain him for several days to come. The feeling was wonderful. He rinsed the blood off of his face in the pond, and then began walking back to the college.
As he wandered back to the college grounds, Desmond began to look back on class earlier that day. How did that boy know what he was? Nobody at the college, surely no one, would spread such secrets? It could mean the end of his career. The students' parents would demand that he surrender his post and leave the college, and then he would have to wander again. He would have to speak with the other professors about this. Of course, though, none of the students understood the full truth, no matter what they knew.
The truth, Desmond thought, is so much bigger than anyone could imagine. The truth is much more complicated.
When Desmond returned to his quarters, he found a note sitting on the small table in his room.
I would like your help on a special project of mine. I believe it may fall into your area of expertise. I have been putting together a group of other professors to aid me in my research, but your help would be most appreciated. This is a somewhat delicate matter, so please show the utmost discretion when dealing with others in the college. If you would like to help, then please stop by my quarters tomorrow morning. The earlier the better; I get up quite early anyway, myself.
Well, that was a first. Castien wanted his help with something? And why would the utmost discretion be required? He would never tell a student what was going on, of course, but why not tell anyone about it? Desmond decided he would simply have to go and see the man and find out. It was already early morning anyway, so he went at once to Castien's room without any sleep.
When he arrived, Castien was already speaking to another man, Professor Angelus, and a woman who Desmond had never seen around the college before.