I haven't looked at my vampire novels in a very long time. This particular one... I don't remember the last time I was confronted by Adele and Bartelomé. I can say this: My vampires scare me. It's a reason I've taken a break from them, to deal with the less vindictive and murderous world of the Nuls (shapeshifters.) I do miss them though, no matter how insane they drove me each night, with their betrayals and espionage. I miss them. And some day, they seduce me back into their world, and once more Ranant will take control of my thoughts, and Emara will be my mistress in the night, as she relates her unfortunate life for all to read.

For now, I'll let in another chapter of that sad life. It's not very edited, but I know you don't mind.

Unitl,

Ollie

5

Midnight rang through the cultivated gardens of the cathedral. I was in that garden, waiting where Ferdinand had told me to as he dressed properly to train me. Sitting on a carved stone seat, all alone, I knew that I was anxious and also terrified. My worst fear was that he would attack and humiliate me.

"So, the young lady is ready is she?"

Ferdinand stood in the entranceway of the garden. His training robes were long and flowing, decadent yet official, almost religiously so. He moved to me. There was a questioning look to his richly colored face.

He spoke sadly. "No, I do not think that you are prepared for this. But you will be taught either way, little niña."

I watched him without speaking a word. Could I speak with him? Was it permissible? Or was I to stand there, a mute follower, in awe of his majesty?

"Speak. Yes, speak! You have questions. Perhaps I have the answers." He moved along the walkway coming towards me. "And then again, perhaps I might not. Perhaps I don't know anymore than you, even after all these years."

I straightened up. "Certainly you have wisdom I do not."

He smiled, his lips thinly pressed together. "Very well. Yes. I have that wisdom but I have come to think that it was in me all along." Ferdinand brushed his hand over the blades of grass in a potted plant. "This is why I must teach you: To establish my theory and make you more of a vampire. You will become untouchable if you can see to using what I show you correctly, and you will be a symbol of my accomplishment. If you keep what I teach you always at a close distance so that it is readily yours, you will become painless. Above all reasons I will do this; it is to prove to the other Elders that they are wrong. Dead wrong."

"About?"

Ferdinand glared. "Something you would not comprehend if I had taught you already."

A hundred possibilities spun through the wheels of my mind. I was wondered if he was a rebel Elder, out to end the pack but before my thoughts could voyage further, Ferdinand had exposed a stick from behind one of the garden trees.

"The body of a vampire must be as sound as the mind within it," he explained, twirling the unpainted rod a moment. He paused. "Although the mind is sometimes not as perfect as many like to believe."

An insult, a mere glimpse of what was about to come.

"Your mind will clear up as your body does." He continued, "As I was saying. For the body to become perfect, it must obey you. You must not obey your body; you must control it and be its master."

Ferdinand placed the stick upright on the path and began to place his weight on it as he spoke.

"When the body responds rather than requests..." He halted his words. A struggling noise escaped his lips, but then fading as he brought himself horizontal to the ground.

He was off the ground, clear off the ground, demonstrating the powers and abilities he had consummated through his vampiric discoveries. All I could manage was to gape in wonder.

"You see?" he questioned as he lowered himself with the speed that is common for vampires. "But that is only a small parlor trick. An exorcise, if you will."

I rose from the stone seat, mesmerized. "And you are telling me that I can...I can do that?"

"In time, niña, in due time. It is best to start at the beginning, as God did with creation. Come here."

He extended the rod to me.

"Take it."

Cautiously I removed the rod from his hands and held it with an unknowing expression.

"Go ahead," he said, taking a step back. "Hit me."

"Hit you?" My eyes widened with the thought.

"Was I not clear enough for you?" his tone became suddenly harsher. "Take the stick, raise it in the air, and hit me!"

I was terrified and did as he told me, bringing down the stick with as much intensity as I could muster. The next thing that I saw was the ground coming at me with a rapid acceleration. I groaned. The stick was stick locked in my arms and twisting my body into a very painful position.

"Is that pain you are feeling, niña?" Ferdinand's feet loomed before my eyes. "That is the enemy which you must face. Forget the Creator we saved you from. He is no longer your enemy but your companion on the quest for peace."

I went to speak against his words, to deny ever taking sides with Ranant for any purpose no matter how great and good, but the intensity of his eyes silenced me.

Ferdinand explained, "He is your fear now, not your enemy."

I rose, nodded. I was beginning to understand a bit of what Ferdinand was telling me.

"You've barely touched the surface of understanding. Only the surface." Ferdinand chuckled and headed to the archway, motioning for me to follow.

He walked slowly and I stayed a few feet behind him, listening to his words.

"If you fear pain, I cannot save you. Therefore, we must rid you of this highly impractical concern."

"But m'sieur, how can you do this?" I was hesitant to ask him anything so practical or mundane as that, but I was no understanding his cryptic messages. He was wise and clever but I could tell from his demeaning attitude towards me that he was quick to judge.

Or maybe he wasn't quick to judge. Maybe he was the best judge of character the world was to know and I truly was a half-wit in the ways of his world.

Ferdinand turned to me as he exited the archway that connected the garden with the main chamber of the cathedral. His hand gripped the large, ornate door and he smiled softly.

The dark-skinned vampire announced in a soft, foreboding tone, "Niña, your training begins."

He slammed the door shut.

I looked around a moment. Was this some kind of joke the pack liked to play? I laughed softly to make myself feel better, to convince myself that he was going to open the door or that the door wasn't even locked.

To further prove my point, I grabbed the knocker. When I pulled, the door didn't budge.

"Ferdinand?" I knocked gently, still smiling. "Ferdinand, I think that training works better when you're actually training me."

I looked around the archway of the door a moment more and then heard the sound of a bar being slid and a latch being propped into place.

He was locking me in the garden!

I ran back to the center of the walkway, searched frantically for any other way out. There! Another lavishly decorated door! As I leaped over the hedge, that same sliding metallic groan thundered through to my ears. I sank to my knees on a soft patch of grass. He had trapped me in the garden. Why? What purpose did it serve?

"Enjoy your first session, niña," Ferdinand called from a gaping window a floor above.

"Ferdinand, I don't understand what you're trying to show me!" I shouted up to him and as I did, he shut over the window.

"In time," was all he had to offer me.

*Well, this is just dandy.* I plopped back down on the stone chair and began to hum idly, thinking of Bartelomé and wishing to talk with him about my predicament.

Hours went by and no voice called to me. Each moment I was quiet and alone I could feel a sort of spell being cast on me. I began to think, and when I thought too much, I turned to those I loved. Adele and her strange fascination was all I could think about suddenly. I picked at the petals of a withering flower.

True enough that she was obviously not all together.

But it seemed that she held a deep devotion to her own existence, especially with the ensemble approach this Sinverguenze de Oscuridad pack took towards everything.

And still, I couldn't help but remember her laughing and feeding in her almost juvenile manner, making me feel uncomfortable and intruding.

She wanted something from me. Terrifying to think of.

What was Ferdinand trying to prove?

"Let me out, please!" I held my arms out and stared down each window for someone to look out at the crazy vampire in the patch. My eyes were met by no others.

How exasperating.

Once more I settled myself with lying on the stone chair, picking at the flowers, only this time I was not thinking about Adele. I wasn't thinking at all. I wouldn't let my mind be influenced by whatever manifestations the garden enjoyed inflicting.

I stayed that way, thinking of nothing, doing nothing, waiting for Ferdinand's test to be over, wondering if I was passing or failing miserably. Most likely the latter. I was inclined to fail at everything that happened to me. I laughed at the fact. My luck never seemed to change and I doubted it ever would.

Eternity was all I had left with my life. I still had portions of information misplaced throughout my head. It was bothersome, to say the least. I wasn't looking forward to being chased by Ranant any longer, and if it was to be a recurring theme in life I might want to return my subscription to immortality.

More hours were swept out from under me.

It was getting warm. A film of red sweat was forming gently on my brow. I wiped it free, didn't bother to examine my hand for the blood. I knew it would be there, the blood. It was always there. Every time I was overly excited by something I started to become feverish. And the blood was something that was natural about my life now, perhaps one of the only natural things left in it.

But the garden was becoming increasingly warmer and I began to notice that my skin was beginning to crawl from the heat. I must be sick, I reasoned.

My efforts to hail Ferdinand failed again and I sprawled across the cool, flat rock-chair in hopes for a bit of the sweet cold to seep from the inert stone into my own lifeless body.

Still it came, the burning, crawling...sensation! Yes, that was the word for it. It started to ripple through my veins, to make quick flashes up and down my body. I was no longer aware of myself and when I came back into my own consciousness, my jaw was slack and my eyes were half-lidded.

I took in long, sweet mouthfuls of the air, letting it drip down my throat. But the cool air was scorching once it hit my lungs and I expelled it the moment I could feel it.

I rose in delirium.

Tripping to the door, I let my hands slam flat upon the wood. "Ferdinand?" I shouted. Though it wasn't a shout, it was more of a dull squawk. I called again, "Ferdinand? Let me in. I'm not well."

My legs buckled and I sank to the walkway.

I continued to call. "Let me in, please? What is it you have done to me?"

More fiercely the burning ripped through my veins, telling me again of the heat though I needed no reminder. It was almost as if I was burning within my own skin, cooking alive.

My eyes rolled upwards.

It was in looking towards the night sky that I saw the menace that was boiling in me. The night sky was no more. In its place, a red gush had been swept across the top of the world.

Dawn.

But I was outside!

I stood swiftly, the fiery burning of my own blood threatening to make me collapse. And collapse I did. I toppled to the ground, my fingers jabbing into the earth. Yet there was no earth to dig into! The stone of the walkway was so tightly packed that I could not get a firm grip at the edges to remove the slates!

"Ferdinand! Ferdinand, please, let me in!" I saw the brilliant glowing of the sun peeking over the ridge of the cathedral's turrets. Its frightening flame was like a singular eye of a Cyclops, wearing me down with its gaze.

From the bell tower, the church bell began to crack its solemn chant through the air. "The sun is coming! The sun is coming!" shouted the voice of the bell-ringing vampire.

"The sun is coming, Ferdinand! Can't you hear the bell? Can't you hear me?" I shrunk into the dark corner of the doorframe and cried, "Please, God. Please, God save me!"

It was too much; I had lived through too much, hadn't I? I knew I had. Even without all my memories, I knew I had lived through too much.

"Not like this..." I wined to myself, "I can't die like this! In a cold garden, alone? Not like this! Never like this!"

Ranant's children didn't die like this!

My eyes were drawn to the Behemoth fireball and for a single instant I saw the light of day! The hideous and contorted face of a spring-time day was all that I could see, all its fury and rage. Not at all like the dark coolness of an autumn night, or crisp blue-lit winter twilight. Day was a disfigured and pitiless brute!

A low clang echoed through the garden and a strong hand pulled me inside, slamming shut the ornate door and locking out the Day Beast.

Ferdinand stalked closer towards me. He bent down and took my chin in his hand.

"Do you like the cold, Emara?" he asked without inflection.

I shivered, the ice that surrounded me on all sides having numbed away any sense of awareness that I had left.

I had been in Ferdinand's torture chamber for a week. It might have been longer, perhaps less, I couldn't tell time in either case when there was no change in day or night. Now and then I would hear the rumbling voice of the bell ringer when the sun was coming up, but I was unconscious so long I might have slept through a few warnings.

Ferdinand had set up an elaborate system of torment. Some torture that, he made a point to tell me frequently, were being tested for the first time. He was obsessed with the vampiric body, discovering what it could and could not handle, and how long before it would break down. His most favorite thing to do was to stand before me as I was being punished for I knew not what. Standing there, dressed in his Elder robes, he would stare at me, deliberately thinking thoughts of evil. He showed me his thoughts at times. It started by a vampire draining me to exhaustion. A masked executioner would drag me to the execution block. There, my clothes would be ripped from my body and my bare skin would be flogged with sharp and brittle sticks until the red blood was seeping from every inch of my body and I was a pitiful, screaming mound of red-raw flesh.

It was then, locked in his torment, that I remembered Zermina and Desperation. I remembered the torture of her lips against mine, the nails driven into my hands and feet. It was then that I remembered my Master, and Cristobal, and- I tried to forget such old trespasses.

After the episode with the sun, Ferdinand had brought me to the Chamber of Horrors. He had lashed me to a bed with a strong rope. Then he left me there. It was the first time that I lost count of the days.

I assumed that it was three days later that he returned and brought with him a long-eared rabbit. I saw the little creature, sitting in his arms, so soft and so sweet. But so pumping and full of the blood that I needed. That I wanted!

I had begged and pleaded for the rabbit.

Ferdinand had not budged.

I tried screaming at him, hissing, cursing, tossing my body to and fro on the bed.

Still, he remained stroking the ears of the rabbit.

I offered him my life, my body, my complete submission to him.

Nothing would move him.

And when I told him that I did not care any longer for the rabbit, that I would rather die than beg him any longer, that was when he slit the throat and the creature convulsed miserably and my lips drew from it its life.

The next time Ferdinand returned, he had with him two masked vampires. Each carried velvet-lined boxes. Each box carried dozens of sharp-ended needles that glistened in the torchlight.

The three vampires removed parts of my clothing and stuck the needles into me until I looked and felt like a giant vampiric pincushion, ready to hold the thread for any large sewing project.

I had screamed for the first five minutes of the Needle Torture. Then I only winced with each tiny pinprick.

When I had stared mutely into space for twenty consecutive needles, that was when Ferdinand ordered the removal of the needles.

He told me he would unlash me if I would not try to attack him. He then advised against even sitting up.

I promised him I wouldn't attack him. And he was right about trying to sit up. I couldn't do it. My body was physically incapable of that type of exertion.

He left me in solitary.

One day passed.

Two.

Three.

Four days had gone by and not a word had passed through the slit in the door. I had called for the guard who Ferdinand had placed outside, but he was no longer there.

"Is anyone out there?" was all I found myself saying for those four days.

Then it struck me: The Sinverguenze had left! A raid had been performed by the villagers and Ferdinand had forgotten his captive!

I sank to my knees and wept. Alone. I was so alone.

Ferdinand had entered when I broke down. He placed his hand on my shoulder and smiled at me, his fangs protruding only slightly. But it had been the first time I had seen his fangs.

I was moved to what Ferdinand referred to as The Bog. The room was carved out of the earth and was moist, wet. It smelled of rotted leaves and putrefied flesh of the insects that had died in the walls. In the center of the room was a large, muddy puddle.

"It is day now," Ferdinand explained as his two masked companions lowered me into the puddle, my feet and wrists bound together. "When the sun sets, the earth shall harden and this puddle shall freeze, encasing you in ice. Have a goodnight."

And he had returned to me when the ice had crushed itself against me. From my shoulders down, I was under ice and frigid water, my body shivering only slightly.

"Do you wish to get out, niña?" he picked at the ice.

I allowed my head to roll from one side to the next. I didn't speak. Nor did I care if I ever left the icy coffin.

He grinned.

The masked vampires entered the room and immediately began to chop away the ice in large blocks. Ferdinand lifted me from the shattered bits and brought me to his chamber.

In Ferdinand's chamber once more, I was still half frozen. He placed me on the large bed, and had the two vampires close the heavy doors behind us. They stood sentry at the exit.

"The first part of your integration into vampirism has come to its ideal close." He slowly removed his long robe, placing it on the chair he was clutching as he watched me. "Emara, niña, do you understand yet?"

His dark eyes frightened me. They could have frightened anyone. Such a piercing, hawk-like gaze that made me answer quickly, "No!"

"No, niña?" he repeated sadly. "No, she says. Very well then, I'll move on." He sat in the chair, the green fabric of his pants wrinkling against the wooden legs. "You gave up, didn't you? When I asked you, you gave in?"

"Yes," I admitted weakly.

"You no longer cared that I was harming you?"

"I didn't."

There he smiled and was on the verge of laughter. "So it was not a waste, all my work! You are coming around, niña. Slowly, but you are coming around. For what I have been doing is numbing any sense of reality out of your body. Both physically and subconsciously."

The ice-numb feeling was slowly wearing away in the heated room.

He continued. "You are ready. It's something in your eyes. You're not as weak as you think you are."

Ferdinand stood, his night-black hair swaying just over his shoulders with each step he took. He barked, "Walk!"

"No!" I shrieked back at him. "You cannot make me do anything any longer. I'd rather you toss me to the wolves."

Another strange grin was injected onto his face as he whispered, "We are the wolves."

I could feel a glowing at the back of my eyes and a low, inaudible growl was formed at the back of my throat. I swung one long leg off the edge of the plush bed, then the other. I stood and I rushed at him, teeth bared.

"Good!" He laughed, clutching my wrists easily. "Very good!" He shoved me back to the ground. "It's tough-love, niña, but it works well as you can see."

I glared at him from the floor, "What is it you want of me?"

"Ask yourself what it is that you want of me. That is the only question with an answer."

"Riddles, I hate riddles."

"It is no riddle. You are the one who have been performing the asking. You asked yourself if you really feel the pain. There is no such thing as pain. And I only want to help you unlearn feeling."

"If I am to unlearn feeling, why have you kept me in bondage these past days?" I slowly began to rise, adjusting the thin gown that had been placed on me before I was brought to the chamber.

Ferdinand chuckled, saying, "It was a test. To see if you are convicted in your quest."

"I have no quest," I sneered.

"Perhaps you have not let yourself in on that secret, niña." He snickered, "You have given it to yourself without realizing it."

To stop the pain? Could he be earnest?

Yes. It must be true. Why, all my life I had been a victim to my own weaknesses. I was confronted with a way out! An absolution from emotion!

"Yes! Yes, please, Ferdinand, please, teach me!" I fell to his feet, clutching his pant leg.

No change in his voice occurred. "We will continue the training. But no more mental challenges," he promised.

I changed ever so greatly in those next few weeks at the cathedral. I accepted my compassion for the fledgling vampiress. I accepted Ferdinand's assistance.

We sparred in the garden from the moment the sun set until the instant before it rose, all the while with a gathering watching the progress. I often saw Bartelomé at the corner of my eye as the large former-slave vampire and I were locked in battle. He seemed very intent on not missing a single event.

Other times, Adele would sit on a stone bench and smile and cheer. She liked to hiss at Ferdinand when he caused me a blow. If Ferdinand caused me a direct hit, I was out for a few hours and not in particularly good spirits when we started over again.

I went to sleep at dawn with my limbs aching and quite a few bruises covering my body, which Adele promptly insisted on tending despite my own arguments that I didn't need her attention. At times, her lack of sight into my vampiric age grew tiresome.

Despite the countless injuries I sustained at Ferdinand's hand, I did not grow to hate him in any way, or even to resent complying to let him teach me. In truth, I was starting to love him as I might a very strict father. He was my teacher and I started to refer to him as such.

There was much failure and disappointment, but soon, I was exceeding Ferdinand's highest hopes.

I had been meditating for nearly three and a half hours without moving one night when he interrupted me. Usually he insisted that I remain in perfect, motionless silence for at least five hours, thinking of my true purpose and exploring my own mind, but that night he cleared his throat.

I looked to him. "Teacher?"

"Niña, have you noticed anything about our sparring?"

I thought a moment. Then replied, "Nothing, teacher."

He took a cleansing breath and stood, suggesting with a motion that I do so also.

I obeyed.

A slight bow at his waist, one from me, and the combat began.

All the training had been worth it. He jabbed, I blocked. His leg kicked towards mine. I grabbed it, flipped him over. His hands landed on the ground and his body went rigid as he focused his energy into his legs, flipping me backwards. I propelled off the flip into a back spring and land, poised.

Ferdinand was instantly on his feet. But I had caught on to his attack method. I was doing so well by that point I could even anticipate the moves, having studied him for so long. He leapt into the air, and his foot lunged forward. I dropped to the ground as his body sped by me. He laughed, "Excellent, niña! You are making such progress!"

An ominous voice bellowed through the garden, "Yes, quite a learner, this one."

Ferdinand and I both turned to the garden entrance, our faces holding the expression of confusion for we hadn't thought anyone was watching that night. But, there, decked out in his regal robes stood Junípero. He clapped softly and then walked towards us. Ferdinand stood, flustered. He had thought that none of the Elders ever took notice of his training me. By the contortions of his face, I could see that he was greatly dissatisfied in knowing that he was wrong.

Junípero spoke. "I see she has made great strides in just one month under our sanctuary. She pleases the Elders with her growth."

I remained quiet.

He then turned away from my Teacher, continuing to speak with him. "I can expect you at the dinner tonight, Brother?"

Ferdinand's eyes widened in horror a moment. "The Banquet! Juan, I had forgotten, what with her training and all."

"Then you will have to be excused by the others..." Junípero sounded heartbroken.

"I will be there, do not worry. But I will be delayed." Then he added, "She is nearly complete."

Was I some sort of creation, still? Was I a toy and Ferdinand the woodworker? Still, my heart lifted at that moment and I forgot to stand up for myself and beg Junípero to direct his remarks to me for I was nearly complete. I smiled inside. Complete. That meant I was whole, a true vampire. The thoughts swirled in my mind like great dancing butterflies in a springtime field.

Junípero left without saying a direct word to me.

Ferdinand took to walking. I again followed like a faithful lapdog.

He said, "Junípero greatly criticizes you becoming as strong as you are. Did you know that?"

"No," I admitted, casting my gaze downward. "I did not."

"It is true. You have in you a power that you would not be able to handle if it had manifested years ago."

For a few minutes nothing was said.

Then, his voice hushed and peaceful, Ferdinand broke the calm. "Might I ask of you a question?"

"Of course, Teacher."

"About your Reviver?"

I stopped walking for a beat, my throat closing and my body trembling. Had he known I tried to kill my Creator? He couldn't know that.

Could he?

"Anything you wish, Teacher." I caught up to his side and walked along with him.

"Were you his first?"

I smiled, would have blushed, and replied, "I cannot know that."

His face softened with a smile as well and he restated, "What I meant was were you the first one he brought to the night?"

"No. I was not."

"How many others before you?"

I found myself stumbling over my words, trying to rack my memories for the information he sought. "I... I cannot be certain. I only know of one brother who told me that there were others before us. But as for a number? No, I do not have that knowledge."

Ferdinand nodded. "How long had it been since he Revived that brother, before he Revived you?"

I'd be damned if I knew.

Sighing, I replied, "My mind wanders, Ferdinand. I cannot remember ever knowing that question's answer."

He made a noise of understanding. "You are tired. Why don't you go back to your room? It would be best. After all, I have an appointment to attend with the Elders."

"Yes, Teacher. Good eve." I bowed and headed back to my room.

She was waiting for me when I returned from my lesson. Each day I found her waiting for me, and each day I felt her spell trying harder than the day before to make me desire her. It was strange, for when I was away from her, I knew that I could resist and that I did not need or want her in any way. I thought that perhaps the next time would be different and that I would find a way to ignore her and just go to sleep without getting too involved in her day, in her stories, in her charm.

But I was a fool to think in such ways.

She brought a peculiar fascination to my relatively quiet life at the cathedral. Most particularly, her paintings and sculptures intrigued me.

Some times I found it frightening to think that such a strange young vampire could make me loose sight of my own needs for the while that her charms worked their magic. Each time I shrugged the spell off, it seemed heavier. I knew that much longer and I would be in her thrall whenever she would demand it.

I wished that I were never led to her chamber, to be her own private audience. I couldn't stay much longer and so made plans in my head every night to escape the cathedral just before dusk and bury myself in the graveyard to rest. I thought, *If I could just get away from her, it'll stop. If I can just bring myself to look away next time, I won't be drawn into her strange games./

Yet each time I saw her, I forgot the plethora of warnings Bartelomé issued to me. I forgot his stories of other travelers who were struck by her beauty and who came to terrible ends because they could not be with her. Bartelomé was unwise to think I could remember anything when I was in the same room as her powerful curse.

I wanted him to stop me, physically, from going back to Adele's room. Her ways were like a drug at times and I found myself shivering with fright when I thought about her talking with me again. She was so pathetic and needy. With those large brown eyes, staring up with their masked innocence, trying to draw me into her spider's web of despair. But to what end was she playing with me? Where did I fit in her plans? Did she even have a plan or was she just there playing to play?

There only seemed to be one reason I could find as to why I didn't cut her down when I was presented with the chance every evening: she spoke to me. She loved to speak to and with me. She loved to speak to me.

For even though Bartelomé meant well, he was still something of a stranger to me. While Ferdinand taught me with such great passion, he still held the possibilities of danger with the thought that he was the teacher and I a mere learner. The Elders were all terrifying. I had never spoken with Bartelomé's creator, Vicente. Nor had I even seen his brother, the elusive Valeriano. Junípero, while the leader of the pack and previously very kind to me, had since stopped his contact. He barely acknowledged my presence or greeted me in the hall. He spoke to Ferdinand as if I were a thousand miles away.

If only Adele would think I were a thousand miles away and never bother to recognize my presence.

I leaned in the doorway, watching her toil away at a pottery and sculpting wheel, her foot rapidly moving the pedal to make the wheel spin. Her hands rode the moist, red clay like birds on the wind, moving with the currents and dipping in to create. Her thin and elegant fingers played with the shape, molding it from one form to the next with all the ease of the greatest sculptures of the Renaissance. Her eyes were intense and focused, planning her next move before she even knew what she wanted to do.

Slowly, the wheel came to a stop and the red clay had been transformed into a stylishly tall and thin vase. She sighed happily and took one of her pottery knifes to the vase. She began to cut at the pieces she did not want, to sculpt designs and pictures.

I watched her for longer than I should have. Bartelomé cleared his throat behind me and whispered, "Sight seeing, Emara?"

"Oh!" Adele's focus on her pottery was lost. She squealed with delight. "Emara, you're back so early."

She leapt from her chair and flung her arms around my neck, hugging tight enough to choke me.

"Ah..." Bartelomé smiled. "I see you two are getting along quite well."

I glared over the mass of blonde hair to the dark-haired vampire.

"I'm getting along better with her than anyone else in this stuffy old place." She smiled viciously and brought her arms down around my waist. She looked to me, saying softly, "I don't know what I'd do without you sometimes."

I laughed, nervously.

"You'd get along fine, I'm sure." I slipped out of her grip and went to take rest on a chair.

Adele frowned with a fierce look and a fire in her brown eyes. She went back to her vase and Bartelomé moved to view her work.

He spoke to me, *You need to be careful, Emara.*

*No need to tell me twice. What is wrong with her?* I shut my eyes, focusing more on my friend.

Bartelomé sat down on the bed next to me, facing away. She needs to control things. All things. *She feels helpless if she doesn't. She wants to control you, and you mustn't let that happen.*

I sat up. *Will you help me if it does?*

He looked back to me. For a moment, he said nothing, just staring at me as if he had nothing to say. But finally I heard his voice. *I can only try. I make no further promises. But if I fail... She's capable of destroying lives.*

Bartelomé fell silent.

Bartelomé watched Adele while she worked. *Emara, you need to be careful. The Elders have their ways of knowing everything. You may feel that we can prevent Adele from harming you, but we cannot hurt her. Keep some distance when in the halls. If they suspect anything is happening where Adele might be slipping...*

He didn't finish his sentence but I knew what he meant. There would be reprimands, even though it wasn't truly my fault to begin with. They'd find a way to pin it on me. She was, after all, one of the flock. She was one of them, and they had to protect her in every way possible. I wouldn't be torn from the protection the cathedral and Bartelomé brought me against Ranant.

-
Well... that's it for now. I have little recollection of writing most of this chapter... How odd.

Until,

Ollie