Amber felt a bit awkward as she sat in the bedroom that she shared with Saphira at the medical centre. Sheela and Sarah had arrived an hour ago and were sitting on Amber’s bed, watching Xeann, who was nearly fully recovered from the Croft’s Raven’s attack and the two young werewolves who sat on Saphira’s bed, glowering at one another. Sheela hummed to herself as Sarah looked around curiously, whistling to break the awkward silence. Xeann had her arms crossed and seemed rather tired at the threatening glares that were coming from the young werewolves. Amber cleared her throat and leaned back.
‘So…if we’re all going to try and get to the tower,’ Amber said bringing all the attention to her ‘how about we get to know each other so we could get along better? It would be better to work as a team.’
‘I already know her so I don’t think we could get along much better if we hate each other’s guts,’ Vienna snarled, glaring in Xeann’s direction who retaliated the glare ‘I only work with wolves.’
‘Vienna, behave,’ Xeann said sternly with the wag of her finger and Vienna growled at her with bared yellow teeth ‘Now, I think Amber’s idea is a good suggestion to get to know each and everyone’s abilities and strengths. I wish you would stop giving everyone’s idea a negative light.’ Vienna sneered at her nastily, her blood red eyes flashing before getting an annoyed nudge from Saphira. Saphira stared at Amber with wary narrowed eyes and sat up away from the cracked wall behind her.
‘Saphira Lilian Juliet Kail,’ she recited her full name in a monotone ‘I am going to be twelve in a few days and I have two triplet sisters, Teresa and Victoria. My mother is a sorceress and my father is a werewolf. I have inherited my mother’s ice elemental powers but there’s a limit to how long I can use them for and I’ve also inherited my father’s wolf genes. My mother’s brother and my father’s sister married and had two children. Cody is one of them and his twin brother is called Mikhail. I got along really well with Cody so when he ran away to join the Queen’s forces, of course I ran after him to get him back home. We were all close and live together so we’re a large family altogether really.’ She turned to Xeann warily who had a content smile on her face.
‘I had a good friend named Juliet once,’ she reminisced with a sad sigh ‘It’s a pity I outlived her, she was a human. She was very nice, very caring and understanding… It was rather sad when she had to pass away.’
‘One of the disadvantages of being a vampire,’ Vienna folded her arms and began sulking ‘If any of your friends are humans then you outlive them pretty easily.’ Xeann sighed and rolled her eyes.
‘I’ve told you before, Vienna,’ she said while her granddaughter began glaring at her ‘You can turn your friends, providing you have their permission, when you’re eighteen. It’s part of the vampire law, you or your friends could get arrested for undergoing the turning ritual underage.’
‘Oh, you’re so boring, Nan,’ Vienna sneered ‘I swear you’ve broken the vampire law before.’
‘Yes and it wasn’t a pleasant experience that I got whipped with a silver laced whip for punishment from my parents,’ Xeann’s stare at Vienna softened when she whined at the mention of silver ‘I do not believe in that sort of punishment but it would be up to your parents to decide what punishment would suit you best. I took money out of my children’s accounts if they ever broke the law.’
‘Hey, Nan, how come you never turned your friends?’ Vienna asked with a sneer.
‘They didn’t want to turn,’ Xeann answered with a sad smile ‘They didn’t even recognize that I was a vampire because they were terrified of them. I did ask if the opportunity ever came if they would turn or not. They immediately said no.’ Silence fell upon them again until Sarah cleared her throat.
‘Heya!’ she chirruped with a bright smile and cheery wave ‘My name is Sarah Stefanie Whitney Miura and this is my older triplet sister, Sheela Britney Felicity Miura. We are both eighteen years old and we’ll be nineteen in a few months. We often host birthday parties too so we practically knew half the population of Nubis Metropolis before it fell into ruin because of the Nightmare Blanket. Our father is part pegasus part unicorn, so we can change into them whenever we want but not anymore because of the Queen’s new laws. The rest of him is from the Sorcery category. Our mother is part Enhanced part Sorcery so we all have a bit of Enhanced and Sorcery within us. We always got a choice to which path we wanted to take. I chose Enhanced and Sheela here chose Sorcery.’
‘We have many brothers and sisters,’ Sheela continued ‘Our father had a fertile gene within him. Our triplet brother is named Sebastian and I’m quite close to him. He never got along with Sarah. Our sisters that have been kidnapped are fifteen years old and they are called Cecilia and Iris. They have quadruplet brothers, Narcissus and Luke. Below them are the twelve year old triplets, Faith, Darren and Cecil. Then below them are the seven year old quadruplets, Katherine, Rachel, Madeline and Laura.’ Only Xeann seemed unaffected by the amount of siblings they had. Amber’s jaw was slack in awe.
‘In what kind of house do you live in?’ she asked. Sarah laughed as Sheela smiled softly.
‘Before our father was disowned from his family, he had an equitation business for a few years, including horses, unicorns and pegasi,’ Sheela explained ‘He was allowed to keep the money that he had made and it was quite a lot so he could afford a large house over in Nubis Metropolis with our mother and transfer his business over.’
‘When did he move over there?’ Xeann asked with a frown.
‘About twenty years ago,’ Sheela said after a small pause.
‘Oh?’ Xeann raised her eyebrows ‘So he just missed out on the economic depression that happened over there then. Lucky him.’ Sheela smiled widely.
‘I know, he always was that kind of person who had the perfect timing,’ Sheela sighed softly. Vienna cleared her throat harshly, standing up and folding her arms.
‘My full name is Vienna Susanna Sierra Murphy,’ she said ‘My mother decided to keep her maiden name and my father agreed to change his last name to Murphy too. He hasn’t told me his original surname which I don’t know why. As some of you know, I am half vampire, half wolf. My mother is the vampire side to me and my father is the wolf side to me. I have developed the elemental ability of earth from my vampire genes. I am an only child and I turned twelve two months ago. I have twenty six uncles and twenty five aunts but I do not know all of them because I haven’t met all of them. My father’s background is unknown to me because he refuses to talk about his family. All I know was that he ran away from them.’ Xeann’s eyes flashed at the mention of Vienna’s father.
‘Your mother doesn’t know much about his background either,’ she said ‘Not even why he ran away in the first place. Him being a werewolf wasn’t the only thing I was wary about, Vienna. I didn’t know who he was, where he was from and I couldn’t meet his parents.’
‘But why would you care about those minor details?’ Vienna whined ‘Why would you want to meet a family of werewolves?’
‘I needed to know if my daughter was dating a safe werewolf,’ Xeann replied calmly as she took a deep and impatient breath ‘No family and no background would sound suspicious to anyone. I was worried that he might have been a criminal.’ Vienna fell silent and hunched her shoulders, turning away from her moodily. Saphira eyed Xeann warily before leaning into Vienna.
‘Any parent would have been like that,’ she reassured Vienna ‘She’s just being a mother, Vienna.’ Vienna scowled and remained silent. Xeann sighed and leaned back.
‘Xeanna Susanna Sabrina Murphy,’ she recited her name ‘But I prefer my name to be shorted to ‘Xeann’. I never liked my full name. Too many A’s, nasty letters if you ask my opinion. My parents were of noble blood so I was raised as a lady with little freedom until I was sixteen. I developed earlier than normal vampire girls so had a test done to me. It was confirmed that I could be a Vampire Mother for the century so my parents immediately started training me to look after children. I had my first child when I was twenty and married my first husband when I was twenty three. My eighty-first birthday was yesterday…’
‘Happy Birthday,’ Amber and Sarah said immediately after her statement. Xeann forced a grin.
‘Thank you,’ she said. Vienna snorted.
‘Nan hates her birthdays,’ she said.
‘Well, when you have fifty children bouncing on your bed on your birthday, it is rather uncomfortable and awkward when both of your husbands wake up,’ Xeann muttered and cleared her throat ‘I have the elemental ability of shadow manipulation and transportation but I rarely use it now because the Nightmare Blanket once let me come out with half my left index finger cut off.’ She held it up to show the small scar that circled it. ‘I had it sown back on rather than having it grown back. It was quite nasty though, it gave my children quite the scare.’ She turned to Amber. ‘Well that’s enough about me. What about you, Amber?’ Amber swallowed and took a deep breath.
‘My full name is Amber Ruby Garnet Caelum,’ she said and leaned back to stare at the ceiling ‘The Nightmare Blanket took over the world just after my fourteenth birthday. I have always lived in that little village in the desert and before you ask, I don’t actually know the name of it. I’ve always called it the Nameless Village when I was little but stopped when I thought it was a bit ridiculous. My father thought so to but even he didn’t know the name of it so he just called it the village. My mother is a sorceress and my father is in the Enhanced category. I chose the path of the Enhanced category because I feel more comfortable in that category but I do have a little bit of elemental power which I can’t use too frequently because of the Nightmare Blanket.’
‘What is it?’ Sarah asked curiously. Amber smirked proudly.
‘I can detect people’s body heats if I’m hunting for them,’ she said ‘That’s one of the many reasons why I’m training to be an assassin.’ Xeann quirked an eyebrow and tilted her head to the side curiously.
‘That’s rather interesting,’ she commented ‘How did you discover it?’ Amber smiled softly.
‘I was playing hide and seek with my friends and found them quite easily when I felt their body heats,’ she smiled sheepishly ‘My father found out about it after I spent two years using it while playing hide and seek.’
‘You cheated in hide and seek?!’ Sarah exclaimed loudly while staring at her with wide eyes ‘That’s against the law of children! How could you do such a thing?!’ Amber raised an eyebrow as Sheela sighed and shook her head.
‘Sarah has always been a child at heart, please ignore her irrelevant and ridiculous comments,’ she said tiredly, causing Sarah to pout childishly at her statement. Xeann smiled softly and leaned back, folding her arms.
‘Continue, Amber,’ she said ‘I don’t believe you’re finished.’ Amber cleared her throat.
‘I have a younger brother called Jasper Emerald Moon-Stone Caelum who is still deciding which path he wants to go down,’ she continued ‘I love him so much, I never let him get hurt by any of the bullies in the village. I prefer hand-to-hand combat as opposed to using weapons against an enemy. I know how to use a whip and a sword but rarely carry one about. I’ve always found weapons fiddly and awkward to carry around.’ Silence fell upon them again when Amber finished and Xeann sighed.
‘It was good while it lasted,’ she murmured.
‘Hey, how about we talk about each other’s preferences?!’ Sarah suddenly suggested very loudly ‘That’s a good and easy way to get to know each other! Let’s start with colours first! Everyone knows colours and has a favourite one. My favourite colour is pink because it’s the colour of my hair and our mother’s hair and it’s very pretty and Sheela’s favourite colour is blue because it reminds her of the sky and of our father’s coat when he’s a pegasus cross unicorn…’
‘It’s teal and it’s hardly relevant to getting to know one another in the sense of understanding each other’s strengths and abilities,’ Sheela snapped rather moodily.
‘My favourite colour is orange,’ Amber said sheepishly with a bashful blush ‘My dad’s eyes are orange and even though he’s usually grumpy, his eyes show his emotions like love and signs to show that he cares even though he doesn’t look like he does.’
‘My favourite colour is green,’ Vienna mumbled shyly while folding her arms ‘My mum loves gardening so we have lots of plants around in our house and we had a big garden outside with different ferns, flowers, we had several varieties of grass and every tree that anyone could think of. Green also makes me think of the nice warm summer and the brilliant weather we had before the Nightmare Blanket came.’
‘My favourite colour is black,’ Xeann tossed her ebony hair with a wide smile ‘I don’t really know why apart from it’s my hair colour but perhaps it’s because I always wanted to sort of shrink back into the darkness when I felt out of place. I never was a fan of large crowds when I was young. I blame my isolated childhood that my parents pushed on me.’
‘White.’ Everyone turned to Saphira as she abruptly spoke. ‘I like white because I like snow and winter,’ she said while staring out of the cracked window ‘When it snows naturally, I can go out and make snow angels, make snow wolves, build snow houses and I can celebrate Uncle Erik’s birthday by making a snow birthday cake.’ Amber tilted her head in wonder as she briefly remembered the snow that Saphira had summoned when they were fighting the Croft’s Raven.
‘Snow sounds wonderful,’ she commented and Saphira turned to her.
‘When the Nightmare Blanket is gone, I can take you to our home when it’s winter,’ she said ‘We live in the Frigus Mountains, far north from here, and it snows often when it’s winter.’
‘I like to fly when it’s snowing!’ Sarah exclaimed cheerfully and clapped her hands happily. Sheela snorted.
‘You normally crashed into Mt Sky whenever you went out to fly in the snow,’ she commented ‘Father had to bandage you up every week.’ Sarah protested loudly with a childish whine and began shaking Sheela as Amber laughed lightly.
‘I hate winter,’ Vienna said with a small scowl ‘I don’t like the cold, it’s not nice.’
‘I agree, I’ve caught pneumonia once or twice from being out in the cold too much,’ Xeann nodded with a disapproving frown.
‘Getting cold is the best thing about winter,’ Saphira smiled and sighed wistfully ‘When I was nine years old, I ran out into the snow naked.’
‘No way!’ Sarah gasped ‘I must try that when the Nightmare Blanket is gone!’
‘No, Sarah!’ Sheela suddenly said, trying to discourage any thoughts that were developing in Sarah’s mind ‘She was nine back then and had elemental ice powers! You’re eighteen now!’
‘So?’ Sarah blinked obliviously. Sheela groaned and shook her head with a sigh, covering her face. Amber smiled warmly and hunched her shoulders.
‘I loved winter,’ she said ‘It was when the sun wasn’t too hot and you didn’t have to put on too much sun cream. But I preferred the summer a bit more because that was when the coconuts ripened and were ready to be freshly picked.’
‘Oh, my mother’s strawberries were top quality!’ Vienna sighed as she leaned back and gazed at the ceiling wistfully ‘Every five days I would have fresh strawberries with sugar and cream. I miss them now.’ Amber smiled softly at her dismayed sigh.
‘Yes, I miss picking coconuts too,’ she sighed mournfully ‘It was so fun because you got to tower over the people beneath you who are trying to catch them. It was a sort of sport I suppose, the only thing you had to be careful of was to not drop the coconuts on anyone’s head unless their skull is thick enough to take the impact. Those who had thick skulls could head-butt the coconuts to split them in half.’
She made eye contact with Xeann who smiled warmly at her. Amber smiled back and watched as everyone began conversing with one another. This was a slow but steady start, however, they could have a better chance to take down the tower if they got to know one another better.