"Finally," I murmured to Nas as several people left. The rest were obviously staying for the ritual.
"The others are on their way. It would seem that Riley is a bit drunk already. I'm sure the girls are rather looking forward to tonight."
A few people trickled in. Ava skipped in, full of enthusiasm as always, Zev, Zoe, Riley and the six girls from Nas's coven followed. Ava came over and sat in Violet's lap. Violet looped her arms around Ava's waist and rested her head on her back. Zoe sat in the empty chair next to me.
"Ace?" Zoe asked quietly.
"Yeah?" I said, focusing solely on her.
"My throat hurts."
"How? Is it a burning sensation, that feels as if it just keeps getting hotter and you can't stop it?"
"I had a drink of water earlier and it didn't make a difference," she confirmed.
I nodded slowly and sighed. "Water won't make it go away. There's only one thing that will: blood. You're becoming a full vampire."
I was about to reply, when a woman walked in. Her face was hidden by a hooded cloak, though her dress was visible. It was the darkest black and fell right to the floor, trailing behind her. I knew who it was. She walked straight over to us, grabbed my wrist and pulled me out of the hall. Nas must have realised who she was, as she stopped Zoe from running after me.
The woman stopped not far from the assembly hall but far enough away so that no one would hear.
"We have a problem," she whispered.
"A problem? What kind of problem? How do 'we' have a problem?"
I paused. "What about it?" I asked hesitantly.
"Because she wasn't Inducted, a problem has occured. The ritual happens for a reason, Ace - to protect you, to bind you, to give you your gifts. It's too late to do it now, it would take hours to ready and by then there may not be much time left. She's going to die if we don't do something about it."
"What can we do?"
"Do you remember the healing ritual I taught you? And you couldn't do it?"
"That's the only thing that will save her. We have to do it."
"Is there not somebody else who can perform it?"
"No. It has to be you. If someone else had changed her, it might have been possible for Alix to do it with me. But no, you're the only one."
I sighed, running my fingers through my hair, exasperated.
"Okay," I nodded. "Okay, I'll do it."
She walked back towards the hall, with me sticking close to her. Everybody stared as she strode towards Zoe, her hood still up.
"We meet again, Zoe," she said, "though not with such a cause for celebration, I must say."