It's hard to pinpoint exactly when this all began. The running. For myself, I had been running almost a year now, but there was something that told me it had started long ago.

Alone, I had been running since my sixteenth birthday. Since I had come home, beholding the sight of my parents, glassy eyed on the living room floor, crimson halos around their heads. The same crimson spelt out a promise. A promise to return for me.

Which is why, today, I find myself sitting in the back of a caravan, waiting for the circus I now called home to pull into the next town. As soon as I had collected my thoughts that day, I had shoved everything I could think of into a large duffel bag, and headed down to the waterfront where the circus had been set up. It was the perfect solution – they took me in with nearly no questions asked, and we were constantly on the move. It would be difficult for anyone to track me down.

"Hey, Emma," Dana, the driver, and also my roommate called back to me. "We're about to pull in. You right to feed the animals?" That was my job – feeding and caring for the animals, and an easy one at that. I loved it.
"Yeah, no problems."
I jumped out of the van as soon as we stopped, knowing that the sooner the animals were content, the sooner I could rest. Dana didn't like me sleeping when she was driving for long periods of time – she said she needed me to keep her awake, and I didn't mind. She was more or less the closest thing I had to family nowadays anyway.

I headed down the line to the last three trucks, which housed the animals. We didn't have many, compared to other circuses – a lioness, a lion, a tiger, a few zebras, two alpacas, two horses and a peacock, but it was enough.

"Hey Bill," I greeted the man driving the big cats' truck. "Rest time."

He grinned. "Don't have to tell me twice," he said, jumping out of the truck. "I'll be back in an hour. Be careful, I think Charlie's crabby."

I laughed. "I'm always careful, Bill, and besides, Charlie's a sweetie."

"If you say so," he chuckled over his shoulder as he headed off.

Charlie was our lion, and my favourite. Strange as it sounds, sometimes I felt we understood each other.

I opened up the back of the truck, and stopped dead in my tracks. Standing there next to Charlie's cage, his back facing me, was a man. I didn't recognise anything about him.

"Hey!" I called out hesitantly. "Who are you?"

He turned, a wicked smile on his face. His eyes, from what I could see, were dead black. When he spoke, his voice grated against my ears. He laughed cruelly. "You don't know me?" he asked. "I'm offended. But then again, if not me, I'm sure you remember my handiwork...?" My parents, their bodies bloody and limp on the floor, flashed in my mind. I gasped.

"You?" I asked breathlessly.

He grinned. "I knew you'd remember."

"How did you find me?" I couldn't move, even as he came closer. His tongue flickered in and out, and from where I stood, it looked forked. I shuddered.

"That doesn't matter, does it Emma?" he said, as he jumped down off the truck, landing square in front of me. His hand reached out to stroke my face. I recoiled. His eyes glinted. "What matters is that I'm here now... and, now that I've found you, you're not escaping me again. Especially not so close to your Maturity," he murmured, so softly I could barely make out the words.

I tried to run. My legs wouldn't, couldn't move. I tried the next best thing – I screamed. Or, rather, attempted to. His hand was over my mouth before any sound escaped. "Don't worry," he whispered, "This won't hurt...for too long." The feel of his lips against my ear, the cold breath on my neck. I shivered.

"Let her go," a male voice instructed from behind me. I. My initial thought was that Bill had come back to the truck, but realised it was the voice of a stranger.

My attacker rolled his eyes. "Finders keepers," he sang. "She's all mine."

The man behind me growled. "That's not true, and you know it. She's ours."

The two were fighting over me like I was... lost property, or a piece of meat, or something. I felt like I should have been annoyed, but, as it was saving me from death, I kept the protests to myself.

"She's unprotected, and in the human world. She's fair game, Lightworlder, and you know it."
Lightworlder? I thought to myself. Great. I've gone and got myself in the middle of some sci-fi thing. Fantastic.

I could have sworn the guy behind me laughed. "Point is," he replied, "she's one of us, and we're claiming her as such. The only reason she's out here unprotected is because you broke the treaty, and murdered her Keepers."

My attacker chuckled mockingly. "Rules are there to be broken, Lightworlder, or don't they teach you that in school?"

'Lightworlder' laughed harshly. "You have no idea what goes on in our schools, Darkworlder. I can assure you, it's nothing like those little holes you have in your world, barely passable as education institutions." His hand wrapped around my wrist, and the Darkworlder hissed.

"She's mine," he argued. "I found her. She was fair game, and you can't contest otherwise."

Lightworlder scoffed, and leaned forward. I caught a glimpse of jet black hair and fair skin. "Yeah? Well why don't you fight for her?" he challenged menacingly.

Darkworlder narrowed his eyes. His composure was visibly shaken by the challenge. "What's the issue, bloodsucker? Not enough of your own people to protect? Got your dancing shoes on now?"

There was a growl. "That's none of your business," he said shortly. "I was assigned to this, and I have a no fail record. Now, are you going to fight or what?"

There was what seemed like a lifetime of silence, before the Darkworlder finally rolled his eyes and released his grip on my throat. "I don't have time for this," he muttered, before turning, and literally disappearing into a cloud of black smoke.

I turned to face the guy still holding my wrist, rubbing my throat. It was burning a little. I observed my saviour. He had short black hair, spiked at the back, and with a long fringe falling over one eye. The eye I could see properly was a striking violet, rimmed with gold around the outside of the iris. He was dressed in a tight white t-shirt, black jeans, with a black trench coat over top.

He cleared his throat. I jumped.

"Are you okay?" he asked. I resisted the urge to scream. As his mouth had opened, I had caught a glimpse of razor sharp fangs. He must have seen the fear somewhere on my face, because they were immediately retracted. "Shoot," he muttered. "Just what I was hoping to avoid."

I wrenched my wrist out of his grip, and moved away, gaping.

"Oh, no, no, please, don't be afraid, I'm here to help you, I promise," he pleaded, moving closer, his hands held out in some awkward peace gesture.

"But...But, you're a...a..."

"Vampire, yes," he confirmed for me, somewhat impatiently. "But I swear I'm not here to hurt you. I'm here to keep you safe, you have to trust me. I mean, if I wanted to kill you, why would I have saved you from that devil?"

I eyed him warily. He had a point. "How do I know that this wasn't all a set up?" I asked, still suspicious.

He sighed. "You don't," he admitted. "But please, Emma, you need to trust me. I'm here to help you. I'm going to take you somewhere you'll be safe."

He looked sincere, but I still wasn't sure. I mean, I watch horror movies, okay? A good looking stranger comes along, saves the girl, takes her off to some place she thinks she'll be safe... then BAM. Hacks up her body and hides the pieces in the desert where nobody would ever find them. And how did he know my name, anyway?

"Please," he said. "I told you, I just want to help. I'll explain, or...someone will explain to you what's happening, once we get to the Academy. Right now, we just need to get out of here, before he comes back with all his friends."

I found myself believing the look in his strange coloured eyes, and accepted his offer of help.
"Alright," I told him. "Just let me get my stuff together, and say goodbye."
"Don't worry about goodbyes," he told me. "Just grab your stuff. We'll take care of the rest later." He shoved me in the direction of my van. "Go," he said. "I'll wait here."
I packed all my things back into the bags I had been living out of, and hurried back to him.

"Okay, we need to rush," he said urgently, taking the bags I was struggling with and carrying them easily in one hand. He took my hand in his empty one. "I can feel something coming, and Alexander will be worrying. He worries far too much, that boy," he said, "but I suppose that comes with being a - " he cut himself off. "Whoops. Nearly let it slip," he grinned.
"Wait, a what?" I asked, curiosity piqued.

He winked. "I'll have to let you show him yourself," he said mysteriously. "And look, we're here. You didn't even have to wait long." He waved at the boy standing at the top of the hill I hadn't even realised we'd been climbing.

"Took you long enough," the boy called. He, like my rescuer, whose name I realised I didn't know, had jet black hair, though his was shoulder length, and tied back in a ponytail. It was hard to determine what colour his eyes were, as they seemed to change constantly. I told myself it was impossible, before reminding myself that I was holding hands with a vampire. I didn't know what to think.

Vampire Boy laughed, and looked at me. "I told you he would be worrying."

"Of course I was worrying, Viktor, you cause trouble everywhere you go. Why would this be any different?" Ah. He had a name.

Viktor laughed again. "Such little faith, such little faith..." His expression changed quickly. "We have to go," he told Alexander hurriedly. "They're getting close."

Alexander nodded. "Good thing I work fast." He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. What happened next was nothing short of incredible. I watched as brilliant ribbons of colour – reds, and golds, and greens, and blues, flowed from his fingertips, and manifested themselves into some kind of doorway, right in front of me.

Viktor was watching my reaction, amused. "What?" he asked teasingly. "Never seen a portal created from nothing before?"

Alexander opened his eyes before I could think of a witty retort. "Come on, we have to go," he told us. "Emma," he said, "I'm sorry, I haven't had a chance to introduce myself, my name is-"
"She knows who you are, Alex, proper introductions can wait, come on. They're here." Viktor said, pulling me with him towards the door. He must have sensed my hesitation. "Don't worry," he said softly. "We'll keep you safe Princess, I promise."

I had no time to question the new nickname, as he pulled me after him into the portal.


Author's Note -
Well hello there. I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack ! :D
Seeing as I was just reminded juuust how long it's been since I posted anything, and I've been working on this story for a while, I thought I should post something.
Aaaaanyway, as I really have no idea what to say here, and I'm quite tired, I shall just leave it at I hope you enjoyed zis chapter, I have the next three fully completed, and a very stimulated muse that won't let me rest until I have at least a few more done, and yes. Review, and what not lovely children, puhleaase.
Loveyouguys -
Ash. :D :D