Chapter 1: The Gibbous Moon
I stood silently in a long dark hallway with seven others, our black robes flowed and billowed behind us moving like shadows dancing across the walls, whispering for the bones beneath. We stared up at the gibbous clock. Its icy fathomless face gazed back. I shivered and shut my eyes, to blot out the faceless stare, but it was still there inside my head, watching, waiting for the time. I felt violated. To Time nothing was hidden, I was open, every memory, thought, action was being violently torn out from my soul. With each second a capacious rip in my mind opened up. I screamed. Then it struck and illuminated us in a blinding aqua light. Overwhelming our senses snaring our minds. Trapped in a body that is no longer our own but Time's. I felt it cover me, enveloping my skin in a layer of white stone. I watched from inside my soul as time walked forward, extended my hand and grasped the blade, then flew away taking my shell with it. I felt naked stripped of my bones and blood, only a carcass. I lay on the floor dead. Six other souls circled me. They too were weeping for there lost body's although no sound came from them. In the almost silence of the moonlit hallway, only one sound penetrated our souls. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
As I walked through the tall, pale, marble halls on my way to first period I noticed something strange, a tall skinny boy with ivory skin and curly black hair was standing by the gibbous clock. He was gazing up, not noticing the strange looks and tuts he was receiving. Then he lifted up a thin elegant hand and slowly traced the hour dial with his index finger. The instant he touched it a sharp pain in my head began to throb, I could feel the boy's hands running over my face, as if he were touching my skin and not the solid glass of the clock. I suddenly felt very vulnerable, then a pain came rushing up through my bones. Suddenly it intensified, making my whole body cry out in agony. The pain was horrible, it felt like icy razor blades cutting ever part of my body. I stifled a scream. I had to stop it. With effort I pushed my way through the bustling dark robed crowd so I was standing beside him. He carried on, oblivious to my presence. I coughed. The boy slowly turned around and withdrew his hand from the clock, a strange sort of arrogance twisting his sallow face. The pain vanished.
“Your not supposed to do that you know,” I said looking up at his disdainful expression “Your not allowed to touch the clock,”
“Why not?,” The boy replied in an obnoxious tone, He raised one eyebrow and sneered, Then speaking louder he declared “I'm not going to be told what to do by some stupid little girl,” The whole corridor fell silent, gasping at his words. I just laughed
“Obviously your new here, since you don't know who I am, or what that clock is, I'll thank you in the future to not try and insult me, that's just a waste of time,” The people who had heard me laughed nervously and began to move again. I simply smiled and walked away leaving the boy standing next to the gibbous clock like a mouse next to a lion.
As I sat down In class I was surprised to see my teacher arguing with a pupil at the front of the class, she was obviously very agitated and I was intrigued to see who could get her in such as state. Carefully I moved in my chair to see who it was, and with a shock of reignition realized it was the boy I had confronted in the hallway. He saw me watching and glowered narrowing his olive eyes. I hastily looked away embarrassed and put my head on the table covering myself with my thick red hair, like a curtain over my face. I heard a movement beside me, presuming it was my friend Alastair I sat up eagerly. It wasn't Alistair it was the new boy. He stared back at me, eyes cold and obnoxious, I could see that to him I was nothing more than a stupid girl. At that thought anger boiled up inside me. I met his hateful stare for a moment then turned away looking toward the front. As the rest of the class drifted in the teacher Miss Paratie walked towards my desk.
“Lilly, where is Alistair today, I am surprised I thought this was his favourite lesson?” Concern andinterest spread over her usually jolly round face
“Last night was gibbous, so he may be resting, it gets more painful as you get older you see,” I replied, I knew I sounded worried and scared but I could not help it, Alistair often had issues reclaiming the bone. I feared one day that he might not.
“It's ok dear, he'll be fine, he's been doing it all his life,” I wanted to believe her, but there were traces of worry even in her voice.
“Excuse me,” I looked around to see the new boy had been listening in on our conversation and had now decided to open his egotistic mouth.
“Why is this Alistair boy aloud to skip class to relax?” He asked one eyebrow raised in a insolent stare. At his words Miss Paratie's face turned cold and guarded.
“That, is none of your concern Patrick, and anyway it is not my choice to make wether you know or not,” She sighed and turned to me smilied and left. Patrick scowled as Miss traipsed away and muttered as she went.
“So who's choice is it then if it's not her's,”He sneered
“Mine,” I said still facing the front so I didn't have to see his expression. Unfortunately his incredulous laughter reached my ears instead.
“Yours?” He had stopped laughing now, and I could see out of the corner of my eye his face was deadly serious. I didn't respond. I knew what would come next, the questions, the accusations, the ridiculous theories. I had heard it all before, a dozen times, from a hundred different mouths. I had given them all the same essential answer, no.
I sighed and began my work. Half way through the lesson Alistair walked in. I grinned with relief as a great weight in my chest disappeared. I smiled, and he waved as he walked to the back. As soon as the lesson had finished I hurried towards him.
“Hey,” He said grinning as I approached “How was last nights gibbous?”
“It was painfull, more than usual I mean,” As I said that worry flooded into my mind again. It must have shown on my face because Alistair put his arm round me
“Don't worry about it, it will be ok. Did you feel it this morning though, the pain, that was weird right?” He looked down at me, anxious
“Yeah, and I know what it was too, some new kid, his name's Patrick, he was touching the clock,” Alistair gasped, furrowed his eyebrows and clenched his teeth
“But I thought every one knew you don't touch the gibbous clock,” he replied looking around anxiously as if he were worried we were being listened too
“Apparently not,” I said looking strangely at Alistair and wondering why he was acting so oddly.
“Look I've got to get to next lesson, but I will see you later at break,” I walked away abruptly. The nagging feeling in my brain that I had forgotten something important had once again began to grow. I turned around a corner into the Art section of the castle. The Arts corridor was very grand and overwhelming . It never ceased to amaze me. Clear White marble coated the ceiling and slick onyx slate covered the vast floor, gigantic pillars encrusted in delicate gold filigree dominated the hallways, they stood as kings, stretching up seven floors. In the very centre stood the watch. The watch counted all the births and deaths that occurred in our world, every time someone was born the number on the watch increased and every time someone died it decreased, It was there to remind us of the importance of life and the sacrifice many of our people make every day. I stopped looking at the clock and quickly walked away. Something about it unnerved me, more than it would normally. Somehow it seemed important, to me in particular. I shivered as I thought this.
My next class was swordsmanship, every student was required to attend, it was an ancient tradition everybody knew how to fight with a blade and if you didn't it was considered shameful. Personally swordsmanship tired me. I saw no point in it, it is in-fact a pointless tradition, since our world has had a peace treaty for several thousand years. The rest of the class warmed in beside the huge looking glass at the front of the class me and Alistair sat at the back. On gibbous days we were not required to actually take part in the lesson, only to observe. Alistair looked at me I shifted under his gaze, whenever he looked at me like that I became uncomfortable, all of the Time children were expected to reproduce with humans to keep the line alive, There had never been a partnership between two children of Time it just wasn't done. But he still looked at me and every time he did I squirmed, flushed and looked away. I glanced toward the front of the class to see the instructor showing everyone how to disarm and then attack by spinning round. I sighed and put my head in my hands.
Just before the lesson was supposed to end a shrill ringing sound pierced my ears, I could tell what it meant, there was going to be an emergency gathering. Instantly all over the room curious whispers broke out, they all looked excited. For me however it was a different feeling, worry and foreboding filled me. The instructor began to form us into a line pushing us into our set places like little dolls. We left the classroom marching up a long winding staircase to the great hall. A buzz of conversation saturated the ginormous room, every face was curious, eager to find out what was happening. A hush fell over the hall like a blanket as the headmaster stepped onto the podium and cleared his throat. In his deep imposing voice he pronounced
“The reason you have all been summoned here is not a positive one, it will have grave consequences both in and out of the school. For many of you it will be a shock and a bad one, but I urge each and every one of you to keep calm and not panic,” He sighed heavily a solemn face set his features
“Five pupils in the day school have died, it seems they were murdered,”
I gasped and stared around to see a intake of breath and a expression of distress cover every face, except one. Patrick stared down into his lap, a faint satisfied smile played upon his lips . I frowned, outraged that he could not be upset by this shocking news, infact he seemed almost happy about it something unnerved me about the smile that still held his face. Everything had again become quiet
“Furthermore all five victims were bitten,” Another shiver of shock rippled across the hall at his words. “We are going to be questioning every vampyre pupil in this school until we find the culprit, until that moment comes I ask you all to be extremely vigilant, there will be strict increases in security and the curfew will be lowered to 9 O'clock,” There was a collective moan from every pupil. It was then clear that the assembly was dismissed and we all began to shuffle back to our dormitories. As I walked back with Alistair. He was constantly gabbling in my ear. I noticed the fear in everyones faces, they knew there was a killer among us and they were scared. I reached my dorm and heard frantic chattering coming from behind the door mixed with a firm comforting voice and soft sobbing. I walked into see Alice and Emma sitting next to a young girl I had never seen before who was crying softly, head in hands face red with tears. Stood on the other side of the room were Lisa and Samantha who were gossiping franticly, occasionally throwing concerned looks at the small girl. Everyone looked up as I entered.
“Oh Hi Lilly,” Alice said giving me a half hearted smile, I gave her a questioning look, motioning toward the girl next to her, she raised her eyebrows and sighed unhappily “Um this is Grace she's new ,” She looked over Grace's head at Emma who was carefully dabbing Grace's cheeks with a tissue. “She's a bit upset about the recent assembly,” Alice paused and frowned “She says she's scared,” At Alice's words Samantha looked up and grimaced
“Aren't we all ?” Samantha stated, as she spoke she began to nervously pace the room “Five people have just been murdered by vicious vampyres and they expect us to just keep calm,” She exclaimed, her voice getting louder and quicker as she spoke “We are living in a building that may contain a crazy human-killing vampyre and we're supposed to just sit here!” By now Samantha was shouting and roaming madly around the room. Grace had looked up, obviously shocked into silence at Samantha's outburst. She wasn't the only one, we all sat with our mouths open staring at her, astonished at her sudden anger.
“Sorry about that,” She sighed as she saw all of our expressions “I just, I'm worried,” Lisa walked toward her and put an arm around her shoulders and Sam leaned cautiously on her.
“Don't worry,” Lisa said “Its all gonna be ok,”
We all decided to get ready for bed. Grace, it turned out would sleep in the bed next to mine. As she unpacked I glimpsed various photo albums, books, a notebook and some paints. The last thing she brought out was a strange bronze ornament. I recognised it at once with its three eye shaped leafs and thin turquoise encrusted stems. It was the symbol of the Hahcry, the most powerful religion in the magical world. I frowned and turned on my side so I was facing the wall, that symbol brought back memories that would rather be forgotten.