“This is Casper Wyoming’s house,” Vampire Lord gestured to a small hut. “We need to search it for clues.”
“Search it for clues?” Nireth asked. “Why?”
“He’s one of our lead suspects–he might be head Vesper!”
“Oh, my!” Nireth cried.
As they began searching Casper’s hut for clues, Vespers rushed in and captured them, locking them in a large cage.
“This never happened,” one of them hissed, shooting sleeping darts into Nireth and Vampire Lord.
When Nireth and Vapire Lord re-awoke, they were falling through the air. Nireth screamed and summoned her dragon, who caught them both. They looked around and realized that they had found the others; acid rain was falling heavily around everyone.
“Help!” Tridah called, waving her arms madly. The acid couldn’t harm her, but she still felt the pain.
“We have to get higher!” cried Raven Avelina. “Above the storm!”
Radiance squinted and concentrating her healing power on the others.
The sky grew darker, and the rain poured down harder.
Vampire Lord jumped off the back of Nireth’s dragon. “No!” she cried, watching him fall in fear.
“Wait!” cried Tridah. “Healing magic makes the storm worse! Stop the spell, Radiance!”
Radiance looked up, “What?” she asked.
Nireth sent her dragon into a dive, trying to save Vampire Lord. When she arrived at the ground, however, she could find no sign of him. She and her dragon crawled into a cave.
“What’s going on?” asked Madhatter, walking into the cave.
“It’s pouring down acid rain!” Radiance said, sailing into the cave. “Everyone, get in here!”
The others crowded into the cave–all except for Tridah and Vampire Lord. Tridah screamed out loud as her body began to glow, her true form coming out. There was soon another scream–the scream of a child. Ravenblood!
However, that cry was strangled and cut short. Tridah raised her arms into the air and the sky grew lighter.
Vampire Lord was also combating the storm with all he had. “I can’t hold it off much longer!” he cried.
Suddenly, the blue sky broke through the storm clouds. The rain stopped falling. Tridah and Vampire Lord fell to the ground.
“Tridah!” Nireth cried, running out to Tridah. “Here, here,” she assumed that, because of the screaming, Tridah was the worst off. “What’s wrong?”
Tridah was sitting sullenly, staring at her hands. She wasn’t burnt because she was immune to the rain’s acid, but she still felt the pain of burning.
“Ravenblood’s dead,” she said, her voice cracked and hoarse.
Vampire Lord groaned loudly. Radiance had joined Nireth with Tridah at this point, along with Raven Avelina and Fern Koa.
Nireth nodded to Radiance, who rolled her eyes and began tending to Tridah. Nireth approached Vampire Lord.
“No one’s thanked me yet,” he coughed. “Sure, ignore the guy who almost died for you. No problems there.”
“I’m sorry, Vampire Lord!” Nireth appologized. “Thank you so much! Now where does it hurt?”
“Everywhere,” Vampire Lord said, getting shakily to his feet and walking back to the cave.
Radiance and Raven Avelina were helping a slightly catatonic Tridah to the cave, as well.
“Well,” Raven Avelina said, “we’re alive.”
“Not Ravenblood,” Tridah said softly.
“Oh, Tridah!” Radiance cried and hugged Tridah.
Fern patted her on the back and stroked her hair, like a mother comforting her child.
“What about me?” cried Vampire Lord. “I almost died out there!”
Radiance snarled at him, “Ravenblood did die out there, Vampire Lord!”
“You’ve told me multiple times you don’t care,” he countered. “Why are you even with us?”
“I don’t care about you,” she clarified.
“Fine!” Vampire Lord threw his hands in the air. “I’m leaving! Good-bye. Since none of you care–at all!” With that, he stormed out of the cave.
“Vampire Lord, wait!” Nireth cried racing after him.
“Nireth, don’t!” Radiance pleaded.
Nireth tried to blink away tears, “I have to! He’s my friend! I’ll be back soon,” she promised.
She ran off into the woods.
Snoopy followed, as did Lucario, who happened to be traipsing about and saw Vampire Lord, Snoopy, and Nireth run by.
Meanwhile, back in the cave, Madhatter gave a shout of anguish. Tridah was still weeping, partly in sadness, partly in pain.
“The acid,” Raven Avelina said with a knowing look at Fern Koa and Radiance. “We have to get it off of them!”
Radiance nodded gravely and began trying to wipe the acid from Tridah’s skin.
Suddenly, Nireth’s dragon gave a rather awkward belch, then spewed water all over the group.
“That works, too,” Fern said, looking slightly amused.
Madhatter looked out of the cave and after Vampire Lord’s pursuers. “I think we should follow them,” he said.
Radiance sighed and crossed her arms.
Raven Avelina nodded solemnly, “He’s behaving strangely,” she commented. “It doesn’t sit well with me. Something’s wrong.”
The group set out, following the footprints the others had left in the mud.
Meanwhile, Nireth called out to Vampire Lord: “Come back! Please!” she wept.
“No!” he cried, screeching to a halt and turning to face her.
Nireth skidded to a stop in the mud and barely stopped herself from crashing into him. Snoopy slid into the back of her legs, and they both fell into the mud.
“Please,” she pleaded. “Radiance is nice! You just started off on the wrong foot–we can work this out–”
“No!” he shouted. “Did you not hear me? I’m never going back!”
Snoopy whimpered and Nireth shrunk away, her eyes wide with shock.
As Nireth got to her feet and began petting Snoopy, Vampire Lord turned back and shot poisoned darts and Lucario and Nireth.
“Lucario!” Nireth cried, trying to save him, but to no avail. They were both struck by poison darts.
At this point, the others had caught up with them.
“Here,” Lucario said weakly, administering the last of the antidote to Nireth.
“NO!” Nireth cried, but it was too late. “No, Lucario! You shouldn’t have!”
Fern crept up behind them, “Don’t worry,” she said soothingly, placing a healing flower on Lucario’s wound. The flower sucked the poison out and sealed the puncture mark.
“Thanks!” Lucario said, rubbing his hand.
“What’s up with him?” Radiance frowned.
“Hey,” said Madhatter, walking up to something gold and shiny on the ground. “What’s this?” he asked.
The others walked over to it. It was a small, gold coin with a cursive “V” on it.
“It must have fallen out of Vampire Lord’s pocket!” Nireth exclaimed, picking it up. “V,” she traced the letter with her finger. “I wonder what this means?”
“Vesper!” Radiance cried suddenly. “Nireth, put it down!”
Nireth dropped the coin, but it was too late. The coin was a method of Vesper mind control. A skull-throbbing headache suddenly struck Nireth, and she doubled over in pain.
“Get back!” she screamed, looking up at her friends, her eyes wide and wild. She was fighting the random urge to kill them all.
“Are you all right?” Lucario asked.
“Stand back!” Nireth cried, wraping her arms around a tree and clinging tightly.
Snoopy sniffed the coin, his nose accidentally brushing the cold metal. His head snapped up, and he snarled and began trying to attack Tridah.
Tridah brushed Snoopy aside and stepped forward to address Nireth.
“Don’t fight it so much,” Tridah said, her voice sounding foreign; not her own. “There’s good in everyting. You believe that. Use this to your advantage.”
Nireth nodded and let the images of her friends dying slow, painful deaths fill her mind. Instead of concentrating on how they would be killed, though, she concentrated on how sad she would be if they died. She felt the white-blue light grow in her heart, and suddenly remembered the cleanse that Radiance had taught her. She let the light explode through her body, and was thrown from the tree.
She blinked and rubbed her forehead–there was a gold dust coating it. “Control particles!” she exclaimed. “This must be them!” she looked to Tridah, “Thanks so much for helping me!”
Tridah nodded, “But now we must help Snoopy,” she said, gesturing to the poor dog.
Snoopy was going mad, and no matter what they tried, they could not contain him. Nireth was about to give him a hug when she was teleported to Italy.
“Hello?” she asked, looking around.
Vampire Lord was waiting for her, “There you are!” he said. “I have bad news. The Vespers have–”
Before he could finish his sentence, a giant tornado swept him away.
“No!” Nireth cried, chasing stupidly after the tornado.
The tornado dropped Vampire Lord, who fell to the ground limply, missing a leg. The destruction it had caused wrote out a “V”.
“Vespers!” Nireth’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, no! Vampire Lord!” she ran to his side. He was rapidly losing blood.
He coughed, “We have to get back to the others,” he said. With the last of his energy, he teleported them back to the forest.
“I’ll be right back,” Nireth said, her eyes wide. “Don’t die!” she ran off into the woods. “Help!” she cried at the top of her lugns. “Vampire Lord is dying–he got his leg ripped off in a tornado, and–oh, I don’t know what to do!”
“What?” Tridah asked, looking Nireth’s way.
As everyone was distracted, a sickle came out of nowhere and chopped off Percy’s legs.
“Percy!” Nireth cried. “Oh, no!”
Tridah held up her hands for silence, “I’m going to try and heal them,” she said.
She stretched her arms apart, and an orb of light grew. She condensed it into a spark–a spark of life–and sent it to Vampire Lord. Nothing happened.
“That’s odd,” Tridah wrinkled her nose, “this should be working.”
She tried again, this time making an orb of life light so huge it couldn’t be condensed. She smashed it into Vampire Lord, sending a shockwave through the ground. All around them, the trees grew new leaves and grass and wildflowers sprung up left and right. But there was still no response from Percy or Vampire Lord.
“Look there!” Lucario shouted suddenly, pointing at something behind Tridah’s shoulder. Everyone looked that way and saw Hades sneaking off with Percy and Vampire Lord’s souls.
“No, Hades!” Nireth cried, scrambling to her feet. “Come back! I want to make a deal with you!”
Hades turned and snorted, “Me? Make a deal with a little girl? I don’t think so.”
“Wait!” She cried. “Those souls belong to my friends! I’ll give you anything–whatever I have–for their souls back.”
“I want Zeus’ lightning bolt,” he said with a chuckle, “but there’s no way you’d be able to get it.”
“I’ll give you my soul!” Nireth pleaded. “You can have my soul, and my kransen,” she took the golden circlet from her head, “and my belt,” she took of her belt, the clasp of which was made of gold,” and my maps!” she emptied her pocket of maps, holding out the bundle to Hades. “Please, just give them their souls back!”
Hades made a face, “I’ll give you two souls for two souls. Anything else would be unfair to me.”
Nireth shook her head, “I can’t let you do that! I struck up this bargain, I won’t make anyone else lose their soul for it!” she held out the gold and the maps. “Please! Take my soul and this gold and these maps. You can torture my soul if you want, I’ll serve you diligently. Just please let go of my friends!” she had begun to weep.
“Nireth, look out!” Lucario cried, firing a blast at Hades.
“Lucario, NO!” Nireth screamed, lunging in front of the blast. It hit her full in the stomach. “Oof!” she cried, the wind knocked out of her. “We need to stay on his good side,” she coughed weakly.
Hades watched the spectacle, amused. “Well, this was interesting. I’ve changed my mind,” he took the gold and maps from Nireth’s hands. “I don’t want anyone’s soul. No one has made me wish to laugh so much for quite a long time.”
He dropped the souls and disappeared.
Percy’s soul drifted over to his body and ducked in. When it did, his legs grew back and he was healed. Same with Vampire Lord’s soul, except Vampire Lord didn’t wake up.
“Percy!” Tridah exclaimed. “You’re alive–finally!” she rolled her eyes. “Hades needs to learn to respect Elven healing rituals,” she said.
Lucario coughed, “Um, guys?” he said. “Vampire Lord isn’t–he’s not waking up.”
Nireth’s heart dropped, “Oh, no!” she whispered, beginning to weep.
“Don’t you think you should bury him?” Ian asked, stepping from the shadows of the forest. Tridah narrowed her eyes.
Nireth shook her head, “That would be like saying he’s–finalizing that he’s–” she couldn’t say it.
“I think you should,” Ian said sternly. “Pick him up,” he commanded Nireth.
Nireth somehow hauled Vampire Lord’s body off the ground, despite how weak she was.
“Nireth, put him down!” Tridah countered. “There’s something not right about this.
“Pick. Him. Up!” Ian cried. “Don’t you have respect for the dead?”
Nireth, who was very confused and sobbing profusely by this point, gently rolled Vampire Lord’s body into the hole Ian had dug.
She ran to Tridah and hugged her, crying on her shoulder.
“There, there,” Tridah said half-heartedly, still concentrating more on Ian. She didn’t trust him.
“Boo!” Vampire Lord cried, springing up out of the hole.
Nireth screamed and jumped.
Tridah rubbed her ears, “You were trying to bury him alive, Ian!” she accused.
“No,” Ian said, giving Vampire Lord a high-five before helping him climb out of the grave. “We were just punking Nireth!”
Nireth laughed and cried at the same time, “You’re alive?” she asked, hardly daring to believe it.
“Yep!” Vampire Lord said.
“Oh, thank the GODS!” Nireth heaved a sigh of relief.
Tridah cast a suspicious glance at Ian.
The adventure would go on!
“All right, gather round,” Vampire Lord said, motioning for the others to join him. He removed his backpack and opened it up. “The Vespers have captured most of our allies–Ian, Natalie, Nellie, Alistar, and Amy are all being held captive. They said that we need to steal this painting,” he held up a picture of a painting of Medusa’s head.
He snapped his fingers and instantly changed into a window washer’s uniform. The others went inside the museum and found the painting of the Medusa. They glanced back at the window and saw Vampire Lord outside. He motioned for Radiance to pull out the glass cutter.
Radiance stared at Vampire Lord and crossed her arms. Shadow kicked through the glass, wincing as shards lodged in her paws. Vampire Lord climbed through the window and grabbed the painting, replacing it with a fake. He poked his head out the window and yelled down to Nireth, who had stayed behind outside.
“Get the mini-trampoline out of my backpack!” he cried.
Nireth nodded and somehow forced a mini-trampoline out of the backpack. She set it down, and Vampire Lord dropped the painting.
It bounced off the trampoline and flew into the air.
“Catch it!” Vampire Lord urged, nervous.
Nireth barely caught the painting and set it gently down on the ground. “What now?” she called up.
“The larger trampoline!” Vampire Lord cried. “Get it out of my pack!”
Nireth yanked the larger trampoline out of the backpack and set it on the ground. Vampire Lord jumped, but missed, doing a faceplant into the concrete.
“Ouch!” he groaned.
The others exited the museum and came running into the parking lot. Vampire Lord picked up the trampolines and stuffed them into his backpack.
He grabbed the painting and teleported it to the Vespers. “There,” he said, wiping off his hands. “That should keep our friends alive for–”
His phone rang. He anxiously picked it up. A video of Natalie being shot filled the screen. Tridah went to eat the phone, but before she could the words: “She is still alive” appeared.
Vampire Lord looked down at the copies he had made of the paintings, then smacked himself in the forehead. “I sent a copy! Wait a moment,” he teleported the real painting to the Vespers, saving Natalie’s life.
“You really need to stop doing that,” Tridah said. “You’re just catering to the Vespers!”
“What?” Vampire Lord cried, whirling around. “No, I’m not! I’m saving lives!”
“You’re doing what they want!” Tridah said. “If you let them know that you don’t care what they do with the hostages, then they wouldn’t have any power over you.”
“But I do care!” Vampire Lord said.
Tridah shook her head, “You don’t have to stop caring,” she said softly. “You just have to make them think you don’t care. Your love for your friends is putting them in danger!”
“That’s not true!” Vampire Lord countered.
“It is!” Tridah cried. “You just can’t see it!”
“Tridah, if I ignored them they’d die! I’m not just being selfish–I’m trying to save people!”
“They wouldn’t NEED to be saved,” Tridah said, “if you would just listen to me and–”
“I can’t do that, Tridah,” Vampire Lord said, solemn-faced. “You just don’t care!”
“I do care!” Tridah said. “You just–”
“You don’t care!” Vampire Lord shouted. “You don’t care now, you won’t care later–you’ve never cared in the first place!”
“Now see here,” Tridah stepped forward, but Vampire Lord cut her off.
“I’m out of here,” he said, disappearing.
Tridah looked at the spot where he had been standing, shaking with fury.
Suddenly, he reappeared.
“I forgot something,” he said, throwing a knock-out gas grenade at them before teleporting away.
Tridah grabbed Nireth and teleported to Machine Lord’s camp, but the grenade followed them. Tridah was immune, but Nireth passed out. Tridah used her healing powers to heal Nireth, who woke up. “Wha–?” she groaned.
“Go to Machine Lord’s cabin,” Tridah ordered, frightened. “He’ll be angry, but you’ll be safe.”
“Safe?” asked Nireth. “From what?”
Tridah looked around; she feared a battle with Vampire Lord. Before she could answer, a picture fluttered down from the sky. Nireth caught it and gasped, “They got Vampire Lord!” she showed Tridah a picture of Vampire Lord in a cage with all the other captive Cahills suspended above a pit of alligators. “We have to rescue him!”
Tridah sighed, “Nireth, I won’t do what they want me to.”
Nireth nodded, a bit sad, “All right.”
Tridah patted her on the shoulder and walked off.
“Tridah!” Nireth called after a minute. “I just wanted to let you know–you’re my friend! Best of luck to you!”
Tridah stopped and nodded back. “Thanks,” she said. “You’re my friend, too.”
With that, she walked away.
Nireth was startled by a ringing noise. Vampire Lord’s phone! Somehow, it had been teleported to the camp with them. She picked it up, and saw a picture of the Cahills being dropped into the alligator pit. A few seconds later, she was sent a picture of bones and bloody water.
Nireth almost retched and began to cry.
Suddenly, a large car screeched to a halt in front of her. Vampire Lord popped the door open, “Get in!” he cried.
Nireth stared and clambered in through the door. “I thought you were dead!” she gaped.
Vampire Lord chuckled, “The picture Nellie sent was a picture of what happened to the alligators,” he clarified.
He was just about to floor it when Raven Avelina came running, “Wait!” she cried, “You must listen! These Vespers–your enemies–have a weapon far beyond any Mir has ever seen! They are charged with small pellets that can kill anything–anything!”
“Pallas Avelina!” Nireth cried, turning eagerly to face her friend. “Here, teleport into the car!” she waved.
Raven Avelina shook her head, “I must be off!” with a swoosh of her cape, she was gone.
“Before we get going,” Vampire Lord said, pulling out a water pistol, “I just wanted to show you what these can do–”
There was a crashing sound behind them, and Vampire Lord rocketed away.
“The Vespers are right on our tail!” he shouted. He stuck his arm out the window and shot at the windshield of the car behind them. The windshield cracked, and the car swerved out of control.
In return, however, a bullet whizzed through the windshield and hit Vampire Lord in the chest. He slumped down in his seat. Nireth grabbed the wheel, terrified, and realied that there was an entire line of Vesper cars waiting for them ahead. She made a sharp left turn and avoided a crash, but the steering wheel broke off in her hands.
Nireth hauled Vampire Lord’s body out of his seat and tossed him onto a bed of ferns as they passed before jumping out herself.
Vampire Lord sat up and stared at the wreckage, “My car!” he cried, distressed.
“Sorry!” Nireth winced. “The steering wheel broke off and–well, I didn’t quite know what to do.”
Meanwhile, Tridah was trying to get ahold of the Vespers on her phone. “Pick up!” she shouted. “Ugh!” the Vespers on the other line snickered; they were there, they just weren’t saying anything.
“Well,” Tridah said, trying to contain her anger, “if you’re not going to respond, I might as well tell you: I’M GOING TO DESTROY YOU ALL KTHNXBAI!”
The Vespers on the other side foolishly laughed.
Tridah sighed and called them once again, “Didn’t you hear me the first time?” she cried. “I’m going to TERMINATE you ALL! You will no longer exist! I will pound you into pulps! I will grind you into granules! I will–”
Tridah heard the voice of a phone operator: “You have reached Machine Lord’s phone. To leave a message, press one. To leave a callback number, press three. To send a page, press pound.”
“Forget I said that!” Tridah cried. “KTHNXBAI!”
Tridah’s nostrils flared, and she began angrily stabbing her phone. “Die!” she cried. “Diediediediediediedie!”
At the same time, Vampire Lord snapped his fingers. He and Nireth were on an airplane with parachutes. Vampire Lord jumped off the plane.
“What are we doing?” Nireth called. He couldn’t hear her, though, so she just jumped out after him.
They landed on Easter Island. Vampire Lord walked up to one of the giant heads and opened up a secret passageway.
Shadow-Rue reappeared. “Hi,” she said, jumping onto Nireth’s shoulder.
“Hi, Shadow!” Nireth said cheerfully, stepping into the secret passageway. “Whoa. Isn’t this neat?”
Shadow shrugged, “Sure.”
Vampire Lord pressed his eye to a scanner, opening up yet another door.
Suddenly, he gave an exclamation of glee, “I found the serum formula!” he cried, jumping happily up and down.
“Yay!” Nireth cheered.
“I thought we already made the serum,” Shadow pointed out. “What about the serum gum?”
“The serum gum was incomplete,” Vampire Lord shook his head. “The last clue isn’t an ingredient–it’s the recipe itself!”
Vampire Lord generated a chemistry lab from his backpack and began to mix ingredients together, “Lucian ingredients,” he said, adding the material, “Ekat ingredients, Tomas ingredients, Madrigal ingredients, and Janus ingrediunts,” he took out the recipe and placed it in the beaker, as well.
Tridah appeared out of nowhere, trying to stab her phone to death. “Diediediediediediedie!” she cried, clearly frustrated.
“Hi, Tridah!” Nireth exclaimed, startled by her friend’s sudden entrance.
“Those rotten Vespers!” Tridah said, throwing the phone in the air and kicking it across the room. “How I’d love to get my hands around their necks and–oh, whatcha making?” she asked, distracted by the lab equipment.
“Um, how do you have the Vespers’ cell phone number?” Vampire Lord asked.
“Long story,” Tridah said swiftly. “You never answered my question,” she frowned.
“We’re making the real Gideon’s serum–apparently, we were missing an ingredient!” Nireth said excitedly.
“And now,” Vampire Lord held up the vial proudly, “it is done!”
“Hey,” Radiance said, jumping down from her tree. “What’s this?” she plucked a locket from the grass.
Camile and Snoopy rushed over to see. “I can’t–mph!–get it open!” Radiance made a face and looked at the locket.
“Will you let me see?” Nireth asked. Radiance dropped the locket into Nireth’s palm. Nireth tried to pry it open, but that didn’t work. “What’s this?” she asked suddenly, noticing a tiny button on the side.
“What’s what?” asked Camile. Nireth gave her the locket. Camile saw the button and pressed it. The tiny, golden locket sprung open, and a small, white piece of paper fluttered to the ground.
Radiance bent down and picked it up. Before she could try and unfold it, however, Vampire Lord walked out of the woods.
“Hold this,” Radiance growled, handing Nireth the scrap of paper.
“Calm down! I just wanted to show you guys somehting,” Vampire Lord pulled a crown out of his backpack. “The engraving on the back says, ‘Lost Prince of Mir’. I’ve had it since the attack on the Dark Lands…” his voice trailed off.
“You’ve had that for a while!” Nireth marveled.
Camile held up the locket, “Maybe this is connected to the crown somehow!” she exclaimed.
“Turns out I’m from the future!” Vampire Lord said. “One of my inventions backfired and created a timewarp, sending me back here.
Snoopy trotted over to Camile and sat next to her. Frosty, Rue’s new identity, sat next to Nireth.
“The future?” Raven Avelina asked, her eyes sparkling. “There must be so many interesting contraptions–imagine all the knowledge I could gain!” she gazed dreamily off into space.
Vampire Lord said, “I may be able to even teach you about some of them some day. But first, we must see the king and queen!” he placed the crown atop his head.
Camile sighed and walked away.
“Wait, Camile!” Nireth ran after Camile. “Can you open this?” she asked, holding out the piece of paper. “My fingernails aren’t long enough to get it open.”
“Sure,” Camile shrugged, easily opening the paper and handing it back to Nireth.
Nireth read it once over and bit her lip. She looked up at Camile, “Do you have any idea what this could mean?”
“Not the foggiest,” Camile said, shaking her head.
“Look at this!” Nireth said, turning to the others. “It was in that locket–”
“Inside the locket?” asked Vampire Lord. He scrambled over and grabbed the piece of paper. His face grew ashen as he read. “Oh, no,” he whispered.
“What is it?” asked Camile.
“I can’t speak of it–it is too terrible,” he said, visibly shaken.
Radiance took the paper, “It’s just a sketch of a dragon!” she said. “Oh, wait, something’s written here–’Protect the Lost Ones?’”
“Let me see it!” Frosty said, going rigid.
“Words are the core of understanding, which leads to safety,” Raven Avelina said to Vampire Lord, trying to coax an answer out of him.
Vampire Lord opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again, “It’s the spell the ice dragon once used to freeze all of Mir,” he said.
“It’s about me, too!” Frosty hissed, ice forming about her paws.
“Ice Dragon?” Raven Avelina asked. “What Ice Dragon? I’ve never heard of an Ice Dragon–not in Mir!”
“I have a water dragon,” Nireth said meekly.
“In the future, the Ice Dragon will bring a gruesome death to you, Lady Avelina!” Vampire Lord warned gravely.
Raven Avelina stuck out her chin, “I’ll have you know that I only accept prophecies from Kalyypso. She is the best seer, and the only one I trust.”
Vampire Lord’s face remained grave, “But I have seen it with my own eyes. Snoopy, Frosty,” Vampire Lord turned to the dog and the cat, “you two will defeat the dragon, in the end.”
Frosty hissed, repulsed by the idea of working with Snoopy.
Snoopy barked, nudging Camile’s hand.
Nireth looked around awkwardly. “So–who are the Lost Ones?” Nireth asked. “Snoopy and Frosty?” she asked.
“That would make sense,” Radiance said, nodding. “We’d have to protect them to ensure they could fight for Mir against the dragon when the time comes.”
Percy walked in, “Hi!” he said with a wave.
“Hi!” Nireth waved back. “We’re trying to figure out what this paper means,” she handed him the paper. “Could you help?”
Snoopy ran to Percy to greet him.
Percy looked at the paper and grimaced. “I haven’t a clue,” he admitted.
“The lost ones are the Lost Princess of Mir and Poseidon,” Vampire Lord said. “Poseidon is dead, but the Princess is still alive.”
“The Lost Princess?” asked Frosty uncertainly. “Isn’t that Tridah?”
“Yes,” Vampire Lord nodded.
Radiance frowned, “I don’t know, she argued with you pretty strongly when you said she was.”
“We have to protect her!” Nireth said, puffing out her chest and trying to look braver than she felt.
“I’ll protect her!” Frosty said, unsheathing her icy claws.
Snoopy barked in agreement.
Vampire Lord’s phone rang. He picked it up and narrowed his eyes. “For now, fighting the Vespers comes before protecting the kingdom from some disaster in the future. Come on!” he motioned for the group to follow him to a plane that had landed nearby.
The group boarded the plane. Vampire Lord turned to Nireth, “Take the wheel! We’re almost to Cahill Island.”
Snoopy looked out the window.
Nireth stared in horror at the complicated control pannel, “I don’t know how to fly a plane!” she cried.
“Read the manual!” Vampire Lord suggested. He then grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.
Camile, Snoopy, and Raven Avelina followed suit; Frosty on the other hand, did not need a parachute; instead, she caught herself with ice she formed on her paws.
“Is everyone off the plane?” Nireth called back, pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to keep it in the air for much longer. When there was no answer, she, too, grabbed a parachute and jumped off the plane.
Once they had all landed, Snoopy walked up to Camile and nudged her hand.
“That wasn’t so bad!” Frosty said, stretching.
When Vampire Lord landed, he neatly tucked his parachute into its case and watched the plane crash into the sea. Nireth landed a few moments later, only much less gracefully.
Snoopy trotted over to Nireth.
“Hi, Snoopy!” she scratched him behind the ears. “That was fun!”
“Wasn’t it?” Vampire Lord asked, still hyper from the adrenaline rush. Suddenly, he looked up, “Kabra,” he said, his eyes narrowing. “Guys, find another way into the lab,” he said, “I’ll distract Vikram.”
The others nodded.
“Do you need any help?” Camile asked.
Vampire Lord suddenly fell to the ground–Vikram had shot him in the shoulder!
“Vampire Lord!” Nireth cried, running to his side. “Oh, no!”
Snoopy stopped staring at Frosty and turned to look at his fallen comrade.
Vampire Lord was bleeding to death, and his breath was growing shallow. Nireth went to wrap her belt around his wound, but remembered that she had given it to Hades. “Help!” she cried, trying to get the others’ attention.
Frosty quickly morphed into Rue and ran to aid Nireth. She began to try to heal Vampire Lord; her yellow aura surrounded him. Still, nothing happened.
“Try the Healing Incantation!” Rue suggested, making a face. “This should be working! I don’t understand.”
Nireth nodded, swallowing hard. “Flower, gleam and glow. Let your power shine. Make the clock reverse; bring back what once was mine,” she sang shakily. “Heal wat has been hurt, change the fates’ design; save what has been lost. Bring back what once was mine–what once was mine.”
And then my iTunes played The Healing Incantation. WHAT THE POOP!?
They watched anxiously, but still nothing happened. His pulse was still fading.
“Oh, no, it’s not working!” Nireth sobbed.
Phoenix swooped down. “What’s not working?” she asked, seeing the large crowd around Vampire Lord’s bloody body.
“The Healing Incantation,” Rue explained. “I’ve already tried using my magic–he won’t heal!”
“Don’t die, Vampire Lord!” Camile pleaded. “Please, don’t die!”
Vikram sent a knife sailing at Rue, but Rue dodged the knife. She snarled and morphed into Raider. Vikram’s jaw dropped and Vikram took off running.
Raider turned back into Rue and did another healing spell, closing Vampire Lord’s wound.
“He’s not going to die?” asked Camile, her face breaking into a small smile.
However, his pulse was still fading.
“Someone do mouth-to-mouth!” Rue cried,
“Wait, how can vampires die?” asked Phoenix. “I thought they were already kind of–well, you know–dead!”
“I am not doing mouth-to-mouth on Vampire Lord!” cried Camile.
The others remained silent.
“I will,” Nireth volunteered finally. “If no one else will.” She stopped herself, “But this had better work!” she said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up, then have them dashed again!”
“It’ll be fine, Nireth,” Phoenix said, trying to sound confident.
Nireth gave it a go, but still nothing happened. She began to cry hysterically again.
“Stand back,” Camile said gently. “I’ll try to bring him back to life with lightning!”
She struck him once with a small bolt, but nothing happened. So she hit him with the largest lightning bolt she knew a human could survive, crossing her fingers. Still, he would not be revived.
Nireth leaned her head on Raven Avelina’s shoulder and began sobbing.
“Oh,” Raven Avelina said, surprsied. “There, there,” she patted her on the head.
Camile looked up at the others and shook her head. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I did everything I could.”
Nireth ran to Vampire Lord’s side and began shaking his shoulder gently. “Wake up!” she pleaded. “Oh, please wake up!” she began to cry even harder–she hadn’t expected for one of her friends to die!
Raven Avelina heaved a sigh and zapped up the largest healing spell she could, sending it flying towards Vampire Lord. A shock went through his body, but he remained unresponsive.
“Confound it!” Raven Avelina cried. “Why aren’t these working?”
By now, not a single eye was dry. Even Phoenix, who didn’t usually cry, was weeping softly.
“What ever happened to him?” Phoenix asked, trying to hide her tears.
“He was shot in the shoulder,” Raven Avelina explained. Suddenly, at the same time, they were hit by an epiphany.
“Just shot in the shoulder? I–”
“Yes!” Phoenix nodded and walked to Vampire Lord. She tried to let one of her tears drop to his skin, but found that they were no longer flowing.
“Think of something sad,” Camile suggested.
“The saddest thing you can think of!” Rue added.
Phoenix stood there for a second, her face blank. Suddenly, a wave of memory crashed over her like a rough surf on a rocky coast. A single tear fell from her eye, shining like a diamond, and splashed on the bullet hole. The bullet pushed itself out of his wound, and his skin seamed itself back together.
Phoenix was absolutely exhaused, and she let herself collapse onto the sand.
Rue transfered some of her energy to Vampire Lord, hoping it would help boost Phoenix’s tear.
She, too; because she had given so much energy; fell to the sand, unconscious.
Snoopy also slumped to the ground.
“Snoopy! Phoenix! Rue!” cried Nireth, who was growing very distressed at this point.
“They’re still alive,” Camile pointed out. “They just passed out.”
Vampire Lord remained dead; nothing happened.
“If the tears didn’t heal it, it must be an emotional injury,” Phoenix observed, getting shakily to her feet.
“Nireth!” exclaimed Camile. “Sometimes, when he got hurt, you two sang, right?”
Nireth nodded and began to sing again; “All those days, watching from the windows; all those days, outside looking in. All that time, never even knowing just how blind I’d been–” she stopped short, her voice was weak and cracking. “I’m sorry!” she whispered. “I’ve never been much good at healing.”
Camile’s expression was lit by a flash of light–her fury was beginning to show. She was going to heal Vampire Lord–somehow!
“Maybe the emotional wound has to do with you and him, Nireth,” suggested Rue.
“But we’re all his friends,” Nireth insisted. “Maybe if we–”
“But… err… haven’t you noticed that Vampire Lord likes you more than us?”
“No!” Nireth said, looking around curiously.
“Awk-ward,” Phoenix sang under her breath, fighting the urge to laugh.
“Well, erm, what they’re trying to say is that he might have a bit of a crush on you,” Camile said.
Nireth bit her lip, then began to grin. She was laughing and crying at the same time.
The others exchanged glances, confused and concerned for their friend.
Nireth whispered in Vampire Lord’s ear: “I love you, too.”
A tear formed in the corner of Vampire Lord’s eye. Camile smiled.
Vampire Lord jolted bolt upright. “Aha!” he cried. “So you guys do care about me!”
“I think it was pretty obvious we all cared when we were weeping over your ‘dead’ body,” Camile sighed with a laugh.
Snoopy started to growl–he didn’t like being tricked!
“You’re alive!” Nireth cried happily, then she blushed furiously and looked away.
“Just, um,” Camile tried to hide a smile, “don’t kiss.” In every movie Camile had ever seen, the people had always kissed after they said they loved each other.
“Yeah,” Rue said, backing away with Camile.
Snoopy continued to growl, and Rue hissed at Snoopy.
“It’s O.K., Snoppy,” Camile said, petting him on the head. “Vampire Lord just wanted to make sure we cared enough.”
Nireth’s words echoed in Vampire Lord’s head. He thought, ‘What happens when she finds out what I’ve been keeping from her?’
“Can I talk with you in the woods for a minute?” he asked her.
“O.K.,” Nireth said, getting to her feet and following him, still shaking.
Camile felt relieved; this wasn’t going to be like the movies!
“How sweet!” Phoenix cooed, tilting her head.
Rue hopped onto Nireth’s shoulder. Nireth petted Rue absently.
Vampire Lord took a tiara out of his bag and placed it in Nireth’s hands. “Tridah isn’t the Lost Princess of Mir,” he confessed. “You are.”
Nireth gaped, “I am?”
“Try on the crown, Nireth!” Camile urged.
Nireth took the tiara and placed it on her head. It was a perfect fit.
“I had to keep it from you, even though I’ve known since we met,” he admitted. He stopped, “Is it really true, what you said back there?”
“Yes!” Nireth nodded. “Why would I lie?” she sounded hurt.
“Nireth would never lie!” Camile defended her friend.
“Thanks, Camile,” Nireth smiled warmly.
“Why did it have to wait until I was almost dead, then?” asked Vampire Lord.
“I–I didn’t really think about it much,” Nireth confessed. “I mean–I guess you just kind of have to re-evaluate everything when you–when you almost lose someone,” her voice trailed off, and she began to weep softly.
“Don’t cry,” Vampire Lord said, “it’s all right. I would’ve done the same thing.”
Suddenly, someone shot Vampire Lord and Nireth with sleep darts. They both fell unconscious.
When they woke up, they were in a cell with the other captive Cahill hostages.
“Oh!” Natalie cried, running and giving them a hug, “Please tell me you’re here to save us!” she sounded desperate.
“I think we were taken hostage,” Nireth admitted, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t still escape! Right, Vampire Lord?” she asked, uncertain.
Vampire Lord looked around; no windows, high vents out of reach, solid white walls all around. “I’d say no,” he said quietly.
“Oh,” Nireth hung her head.
Their next meal appeared–a small pitcher of water and a stale loaf of bread.
“You can have it,” Nireth said. “My stomach is tied in knots at the moment.”
Vampire Lord wolfed down the whole thing hungrily. “Man, being asleep really makes me hungry!” he exclaimed.
“I’m glad I didn’t have any, then,” Nireth said with a smile. “By the way,” she looked around, “what do the Vespers intend to do with us?”
“Remember the blackmail video they sent you of Nellie being ‘killed’?” Alistar asked.
“That’s going to be you two,” he nodded to Vampire Lord and Nireth. “As well as the rest of us, I’d imagine,” he added.
“This is not good!” Nireth said, biting her lip.
Vampire Lord reached for his phone only to find it missing. “They took my phone!” he exclaimed. “No phone… no watches… they don’t want us to know the time or date!” he turned to Alistar. “Is anything important coming up? Something–anything that could affect our cooperation?”
Alistar squinted, “Not that I know of,” he said slowly.
Vampire Lord’s face suddenly lit up. “Oh! I know!” he cried. He bent down and pressed a button on his shoe. A small lockpick sprung from a hidden compartment.
“Aha, a Cahill lockpick!” exclaimed Ian.
“I never go anywhere without it,” Vampire Lord said, busily picking at the lock on the door.
It soon sprung open.
They were free!
Nireth climbed into a tree and hung upside-down. “You guys look funny from this perspective,” she giggled.
Snoopy barked at her, and Camile followed her into the tree. Nireth waved at Snoopy and began to laugh harder, then fell out of the tree. “Oof!” she said, rubbing her arm. She stared up at Camile, “Wow, you climbed up high!” she marveled.
Camile climbed higher into the tree, then noticed that Vampire Lord was carving something into it. She climbed out into the branch above him and asked, “What’cha carving?”
“Nothing,” Vampire Lord said, leaning against the tree.
‘It’s got to be something,” Camile frowned.
Rue climbed high to the top of the tree. She spotted something in the distance and hissed–there was something watching them from the top of a burnt tree.
Vampire Lord shifted uncomfortably, revealing a “VL+”
Camile raised her eyebrows, curious. He moved again, revealing an “N”.
“Oh, for Nicki Minaj!” cried Camile. “The rapper!”
Suddenly, there was a monstrous thud. The thing shadow had seen sitting in the tree a while away had fallen out!
Vampire Lord jumped, and the full message read: “VL+N”. He blushed furiously.
“What was that?” asked Nireth, looking around. She saw the tree and flushed a deep crimson.
“That’s so sweet!” Nireth said, her face burning.
“I threw up in Paris Hilton’s closet!” sang Camile, trying to relieve the awkwardness.
Shadow changed the “+” to a “-” and snickered.
“Who’s Paris Hilton?” asked Nireth.
Snoopy trotted to Nireth and sat at her side. Nireth scratched him behind the ears. Rue hissed at Snoopy, but Snoopy just stared blankly back.
“She’s some kind of celebrity,” explained Camile.
Vampire Lord grabbed a picture of him and his mom, and a picture of Nireth. He cut out his mom and stuck the picture of him with the picture of Nireth in a picture frame.
“Um, there’s photoshop for that, you know,” Camile pointed out.
“I know!” Vampire Lord said. “That’s how I made this picture!” he handed Camile a picture of her kissing Paris Hilton’s closet.
Camile’s face blanched, “I must destroy this!” she whispered hoarsely.
“Too late!” laughed Vampire Lord. “I saved it to my computer, and now I’m sending out pictures to everyone in Mir!”
“You wouldn’t!” Camile cried, disbelieving.
“Hello,” Machine Lord said, walking up to the group. “I–” his Smartphone rang. He took it out and checked his e-mail. “What is this?” he cried, staring at the picture of Camile kissing Paris Hilton’s closet.
“E-mail?” asked Thunder Ninja with a laugh. “Whatever that is, I’m glad I don’t have it!” she made a face, “It sounds like a disease!”
“What is this?” Machine Lord echoed, looking around for answers.
“Ask him,” Camile tossed her head at Vampire Lord, crossing her arms and brooding.
Machine Lord shook his head, “This is a joke. I hate e-mail.” Machine Lord crushed his phone with a single hand.
Meanwhile, the thing that had fallen out of the tree sat on the ground, wondering what was going on. It was named Flambe, and had been watching the group for quite some time now. It figured it would have to get their attention somehow–they were too wrapped up in their strange little conversation to notice that it had fallen from a tree. Flambe shot a burst of flames at a tree nearby the group, setting it on fire.
Startled, Camile, Vampire Lord, Rue, Thunder Ninja, Machine Lord, and Nireth jumped.
Rue yowled as she cought on fire.
“Oh, no!” wailed Flambe, wandering into sight. “I’ve set another cat on fire!”
“Rue!” cried Thunder Ninja. “Are you all right?”
“Fine,” Rue said, putting out the flames by rolling around.
Suddenly, Vampire Lord’s rear end caught fire.
“Help!” he shouted, jumping up and down madly.
Thunder Ninja laughed, but decided to help him. She grabbed a bucket of water and threw it on him. The flames grew higher.
“There was gasoline in there!” he shouted. The fire burnt through his pants, revealing a pair of Pinkie-Pie underwear.
Machine Lord frowned, “Whatever respect I had for you has now been lost,” he said solemnly. “Get a MAN’S underwear.”
“Nice,” Camile said, trying not to laugh.
Nireth collapsed to the ground in a heap, laughing so hard she could barely breathe.”
“Get BOXERS!” Machine Lord commanded. “Be a MAN!”
“Vampire Lord–what!?” Thunder Ninja stared at the underwear, “I have those underwear–those same, exact… DID YOU RAID MY CLOSET?”
Flambe sat there, watching the spectacle. It was amused, but confused.
Vampire Lord’s Pinkie Pie underwear burned through, revealing Unicorn underwear underneath.
Machine Lord was obviously distressed, “You should try Hanes,” he recommended. “They’re insulated, so they wouldn’t burn like the flimsy, womanly stuff you have on now. Not to mention: they’re extremely manly.”
“We don’t care about underwear!” Thunder Ninja cried. “We’re trying to keep our friend from completely combusting!”
Machine Lord held up a campaign for Hanes underwear. The model is strangely familiar–he has silver skin, and is very shiny.
“Oh my GODS,” Camile said, her jaw dropping to the ground. “Machine Lord–that’s you!”
“They were trying to appeal to female robots,” he explained. “Their husband units needed SOMETHING comfortable to wear under their trousers.”
“URGH!” Flambe groaned. “I’m just going to turn into a cat and laze around.” It was slightly irritated by the fact that it was still being ignored, despite the fact that it had set a huge tree on fire.
Thunder Ninja shook her head. ”Please, Machine Lord!” she exclaimed. “What has this world come to? Robots in Hanes commercials!”
“And who else would be a better model?” asked Machine Lord, sounding slightly Lancelot-esque.
Vampire Lord’s Unicorn underwear had burnt to ash by this point; beneath it, he was wearing Nireth underwear.
Nireth went beet-red and covered her eyes modestly.
“For your information, I had these before I met you!” Vampire Lord said, flustered.
Thunder Ninja’s jaw dropped, “Oh my goodness!” she cried.
“I believe you,” Nireth said, still blushing madly, “I just–um–didn’t know they had underwear with me on them!”
Snoopy walked away, growing disinterested in the group’s antics. Flambe watched lazily.
“With my lean phisique, what other robot would look as good as I do on this poster?” Machine Lord continued to talk about his Hanes modeling picture.
Frosty began to laugh so hard she froze herself.
Flambe rolled around, content. It glared at various insects, but decided not to chase any of them. It was simply too lazy. There was only one thing disturbing Flambe: the noises the lousy humans made! “You’re all so loud!” it hissed.
“I smell fire,” Camile said. She looked at Vampire Lord, “Well, more fire than before.”
Machine Lord sniffed, “I’m on fire,” he said slowly. “I’m on fire!” he cried again, his head bursting into flame. “Too much laughter!” he shouted.
“I’m always on fire,” Flambe said, wandering over to Nireth and sitting in her lap.
“Oh, no!” Vampire Lord cried as his underwear burnt through again. He tried to hide his new underwear from Machine Lord.
“Do you have any Machine Lord underwear?” asked Machine Lord. “They’re insulated…” his voice trailed off. “Wait. You’re not on fire any more.” His eyes narrowed. “You’re wearing Machine Lord underwear!” he realized.
Vampire Lord sighed and hung his head. His “I Love Machine Lord” underwear were now visible.
Nireth screamed with laughter and rolled onto her back, hardly able to breathe.
“That pair was for fangirls,” said Machine Lord, “not… men…” he gave Vampire Lord a very strange look.
“Says you!” cried Vampire Lord.
By now, not a single eye was dry–everyone (except for Machine Lord and Vampire Lord, of course) was laughing so hard, they cried!
Suddenly, the group was in a simulator, watching how Vampire Lord got his “I Love Machine Lord” underpants. He was dressed as a girl, and he snuck to the front of the line, bought the last pair of underwear, and ran off with it. A horde of screaming fangirls chased after him.
Suddenly, one of the fangirls turned and seemed to see through the stimulation. “GET HIM!” she screamed, pointing at the present-day Vampire Lord. Vampire Lord’s face drained of color.
A mob of fangirls attacked, stealing his underwear. Underneath, he was wearing “Thunder Ninja is a Man” underwear.
“Where do you get this stuff?” asked Camile, laughing.
“Vampire Lord,” Machine Lord said slowly, “I think you have a problem.”
Suddenly, the fangirls turned on Machine Lord. They were cackling like mad witches.
“Ladies, please,” Machine Lord tried to calm them down, but they picked him up and carried him around on their shoulders.
Flambe made a terrible noise, which startled Snoopy. Snoopy walked over to Flambe, sniffing curiously.
Suddenly, Paris Hilton burst from the simulator. ”CAMILE!” she bellowed. “I am going to kill you!”
“I pretty much predicted that,” Vampire Lord said proudly.
“Go away!” shouted Thunder Ninja, throwing raw eggs at Paris.
Camile pulled out a role of duct tape, “This should take care of the fangirls,” she smiled grimly. “Look! It has Machine Lord on it!” she shouted, lifting the duct tape high into the air.
Machine Lord heaved a sigh, growing weary of the attention, “I really should cut off my underwear line,” he sighed.
“NOOOO!” the fangirls shrieked, horrified by the idea. They began to chase Machine Lord around. “NO!” he shouted.
Vampire Lord ripped off his underwear, displaying a new pair: these had Paris Hilton’s head screaming, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, CAMILE!” on them.
“I’ve got to get out of here!” Machine Lord panicked.
He flew away and went to his home, retiring to his bed. However, he awoke moments after falling asleep, finding himself surrounded by fangirls. “No!” he cried, but they held out duct-tape and rope and tied him up, then hauled him away to a warehouse.
“HELP!” Machine Lord bellowed, his voice so loud that the group could hear it from miles away.
“The fangirls!” Exclaimed Rue. “They must’ve gotten to him!” she smirked, “I know how to defeat Machine Lord now,” she said wryly.
The rest of the group ran to the source of Machine Lord’s voice. They waited outside the warehouse. “We love you SOO much, Machine Lord!” the fangirls cooed. “You’ll never leave us again.”
Machine Lord tried to escape, but to no avail. The fangirls were forcing him to sign autographs!
Flambe suddenly let out an ungodly screech.
“Look!” whispered Vampire Lord, “I found my other pair of Nireth underwear!”
Camile made a face, “You keep Nireth underwear?”
Nireth blushed, “That’s nice,” she said, her voice very small.
Flambe frowned and shouted, “I’M HUNGRY!”
Nireth picked up an apple, “Here, Flambe!” she offered it to the cat.
Flambe politely turned it down, “I can only eat things that aren’t edible–and blood,” it explained. “And sometimes meat, if I’m feeling emotional.”
Vampire Lord began to sing. “With my arms out wide, I open my eyes, and all I want to see is a sky full of lighters!”
“Here, eat this rock,” Camile gave Flambe a rock. Flambe turned away and began to eat.
Meanwhile, Vampire Lord had managed to tear the duct-tape off of his face. Unfortunately, the Fangirls noticed and put on a fresh piece.
Camile snuck in and cut the duct-tape off of Machine Lord’s mouth. Snoopy and Rue attacked the fangirls. Nireth chased off a few with her frying pan, and Camile and Thunder Ninja fought off a good percentage of them. Flambe, though, did most of the scaring; it chased the Fangirls around, pleading diplomatically, “Please! Just let me eat you. I’m sooo hungry!”
Some of the fangirls that had been chased off wandered to Vampire Lord, hearing his singing. They picked him up and carried him to a quicksand pit.
“Thank you!” Machine Lord said, getting to his feet. “Those Fangirls–they’re insane! If I had never done my underwear modeling campaign, they wouldn’t have been so radicalized!”
“You’re just lucky they haven’t written any fanfiction yet,” Camile said gravely.
“Can I eat some of your Fangirls?” asked Flambe.
“Don’t eat the fangirls!” Machine Lord commanded.
Flambe gobbled one up, anyway.
Surprisingly, Machine Lord began to cry.
“Don’t cry!” Nireth ran to hug Machine Lord. Rue pulled out a video camera and filmed Machine Lord crying.
Camile taped all the fangirls to a pole, “There,” she said. “That should hold them!”
“Can I please eat some more?” pleaded Flambe. “Just some of their blood–that’s all I need!”
“Let’s get out of here!” Machine Lord said, looking around nervously.
The others all agreed; they fled the building. All except for Flambe, who stayed behind and had a swift snack.
Machine Lord returned and stared, angry. “Flambe!” he bellowed. “I said no!”
“I’m sorry!” Flambe cried. “I’m just sooo hungry!”
Machine Lord threw Flambe into a buffet restaraunt.
“You cruel being,” Flambe hissed. “I can’t eat anything here!”
Machine Lord laughed, “It’s the worst torture!” he chuckled maliciously. “Pretty ingenious, no?”
Flambe snarled and set the restaraunt on fire. Machine Lord simply laughed, “It’s not my restaurant!” he said.
Snoopy, bloody from fighting with the Fangirls, fainted at Nireth’s feet.
“Snoopy!” Nireth cried, kneeling by the dog. “Are you all right?”
“Eat this,” Thunder Ninja said, feeding him some herbs.
Some Fangirls jumped out of a nearby bush.
“If you kill any of them, may I eat their bodies?” asked Flambe timidly.
Meanwhile, Vampire Lord was sitting lazily in the quicksand pit the fangirls had thrown him into.
Flambe reached out a hand to save Vampire Lord.
“It’s all right,” he said with a laugh, “I’m not sinking or anything.”
Suddenly, he started sinking. Flambe tried to haul him out, but he kept sinking, anyway.
Thunder Ninja fell asleep, but one of her feet was resting in the quicksand. It started sinking rapidly.
Rue tried to drag Thunder Ninja out of the quicksand. Camile joined Rue in her efforts, but only got herself stuck.
Rue ran to Vampire Lord to try to help him, and Nireth followed in Rue’s footsteps.
“I’m stuck!” Camile called, panicked. Nireth ran to help Camile, but found she had already sunk too far into the quagmire to move.
Everyone came to a startling realization–they were stuck!
Rue turned into Frosty and froze the quicksand around her. She wormed out and was about to help the others when she heard a whimper. Snoopy was still wounded, although Thunder Ninja’s herbs had healed the gravest of his wound. Frosty turned back into Rue and began to work her healing magic.
Machine Lord flew out of the quicksand and pulled Nireth out.
“I’m still hungry!” Flambe groaned. Machine Lord pushed it deeper into the quicksand.
“Thanks, Machine Lord!” Nireth said. She turned to help the others.
Vampire Lord jumped out and pushed the fangirls in.
Machine Lord grabbed Thunder Ninja’s head and grabbed her from the quicksand. Nireth held out a hand to Flambe, but it refused her help.
“I’ll only burn you,” it said. “Besides, I’m too tall to sink far enough into the quicksand to end up dead.”
Vampire Lord had somehow gotten his head stuck in the quicksand.
“Vampire Lord!” Nireth called, running to his aid. She grabbed his shoulders and tried to pull him out, but he wouldn’t budge.
Machine Lord pushed Flambe even deeper into the quicksand. Flambe stared at him blankly. “You’re serious?” it asked him.
Thunder Ninja ran to help Nireth. Still, Vampire Lord sunk slowly into the quicksand.
Flambe grabbed Vampire Lord and hauled him out. Meanwhile, Machine Lord was being overwhelmed by a crowd of crazy fangirls.
“Help!” he cried. “They’re suffocating me!”
Camile tossed him a roll of duct-tape, “Use this!” she exclaimed.
“I would,” Machine Lord sounded uncharictaristically distressed, “but I’m stuck in their braces!”
“Would you mind if I killed them so I could eat them?” asked Flambe.
“No!” Machine Lord exclaimed. “Oh, ow! Ow! Ow!”
“Please?” Flambe asked, making a puppy face.
“Absolutely no–AAUGH, stop pulling! I’m caught in your braces!”
Vampire Lord pulled out a very strong magnet from his backpack, drawing Machine Lord out of the crowd of squealing fangirls. However, he also pulled some of the ones with braces out, as well.
“Does anyone have a cell phone?” asked Machine Lord. “I seriously need to call a dentist. This is ridiculous.”
“Use mine,” Camile said. “But no using it for evil plots!”
“Aww,” sighed Machine Lord, disappointed. He called a dentist and explained his predicament. “Oh!” he said after a moment. “So I twist my head like this–” he came unstuck. “Hey, it worked! Thanks! I’ll make your death swift and painless,” he hung up.
A fangirl stepped on the cellphone and super-glued Machine Lord to her braces. “I own you, Machine Lord!” she screamed.
“Dang it!” Machine Lord cried.
“I would help you get it off,” said Flambe, “but you won’t let me eat. So… no.”
Another Fangirl glued her braces to Nireth’s back. Nireth cried aloud, “Please! Get off!” She stopped herself, “No offense, of course! It’s just hard to move around!”
Flambe ran to Nireth and ripped through the glue.
“Thanks, Flambe!” Nireth heaved a sigh of relief as the Fangirl ran away.
Flambe nodded and sniffled, “No problem!” Flambe then began to cry, “I’m so hungry!” it wailed. “WAAAH!”
Vampire Lord sprayed gasoline on all of the Fangirls, then set them on fire.
“NO!” Machine Lord cried, dousing the flames and bringing them back to life. “I’m leaving–and they’re coming with me! You’re all clearly crazy,” he looked around the group and vanished, along with all the fangirls.
Flambe began to cry even louder; the food had been so close! But then it had been revived…
“I have an idea for a sitcom!” Vampire Lord cried suddenly.
“Noooo!” Camile said. “No, no , no! I am NOT being on a sitcom!”
But it was too late. They were all in costumes.
Vampire Lord was sitting on a couch. Three men and Nireth entered.
“Hi, dads!” Vampire Lord said. “Oh, Nireth! Have you seen my fourth father?”
“No!” Nireth looked surprised. “How do you have four fathers?” she asked.
Suddenly, another man walked in. “Dad number four!” Vampire Lord exclaimed. “Hi!”
Suddenly, everything faded. Flambe had turned into a baby dragon. Nireth squealed with delight and ran over to pat Flambe.
“That’s what it would be like if we were in a sitcom,” Vampire Lord said.
Camile shuddered, “You see, there is a reason that I’m not on a sitcom,” she said ruefully.
Suddenly, they were in some sort of Anime universe. Nireth was in a racecar, and Flambe the dragon was sitting on her head.
“You cannot race in this race! You are too young! Aah ooh ah!” Vampire Lord shouted. The car shot off at top speed.
Nireth screamed, trying to avoid crashing into the walls.
R.C. and Camile cheered, “Go!”
Vampire Lord jumped into a car, “Vampire Lord will win this race!” he said, then laughed. “Ahahahahaha!”
As suddenly as it had begun, the fantasy ended.
“Never,” Vampire Lord said, breathing heavily, “speak of that again!”
Nireth shook her head and looked around. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “Where’s Snoopy?”
Once again, the scene changed. The group was tiny, and they were standing in a mousehole. A giant cat paw swiped at them, but when the beast lowered its face to the hole, it was–
“Isabel!” Vampire Lord exclaimed.
Suddenly, there was a loud barking and a cat’s wail could be heard. A giant dog nose appeared at the entrance to the mousehole.
“Snoopy!” Nireth cried. “So that’s where you got off to!”
Then, everyone started to grow. Their surroundings disappeared, and Vampire Lord turned into a train.
“What on Mir?” exclaimed Flambe. A train flew by, knocking it off its feet.
“Flambe!” Nireth cried, running to aid her friend. Before she could reach Flambe, however, a train rocketed past, cutting her off.
Flambe shook its head. Suddenly, it glanced down. “Oh my LORD!” it exclaimed. “I’m–I’m human!”
Once the train had finally passed by, Nireth ran to help Flambe. She saw a strange boy in a flame-yellow tunic, but no Flambe.
“Flambe?” she called.
The boy looked up. “Nireth?” he asked. “Is that you?”
“Yes!” Nireth nodded. “Are you–” she gasped, “you’re Flambe!”
Flambe nodded miserably, “I hate being human,” he groaned. “It’s so cold!”
“Here, take this,” Nireth randomly pulled out a blanket.
Flambe took it, “Much better,” he said, wrapping it around himself. “Where did you get this?” he asked.
Nireth was startled. “I actually don’t know!” she said with a nervous laugh.
Snoopy walked up to Nireth and stared at her blankly. Nireth bent down and scratched him behind the ears.
“Hiya, everyone!” Oswald called, jumping through the projector screen.
Vampire Lord was flipping through the channels. Suddenly, they were dressed as cavemen. Vampire Lord saw a stone car, jumped in, and began running.
“If these cars are powered by feet, should we just keep running?” he asked.
“I guess so,” Thunder Ninja shrugged, giving him a weird look.
Snoopy trotted up to Nireth, who scratched him behind the ears.
Vampire Lord passed by in the stone car again. “Wait, I just drove by here!” he sounded confused.
Vampire Lord drove the car into a TV.
The group found themselves in a large, dark, and empty space.
“Where are we?” asked Thunder Ninja.
An army of white figures came racing up at them. Something poked Nireth in the foot.
“Hey!” she cried, jumping off of the rapidly rising white lines. “What are these?” she asked, standing in a dark space to the side.
“Credits!” Vampire Lord exclaimed.
“Why are they going so fast?” asked Thunder Ninja.
“They must be animation credits,” Vampire Lord shrugged. “No one cares about the animators.”
MY SOUL WEPT AS I HEARD THOSE WORDS, BECAUSE I CARED!
He looked up, a glint in his eye. “If we can hold on to these credits, they’ll be our ticket out of here! We can’t be trapped in a TV show if it’s not on the air!”
He grabbed ahold of a “j”. Thunder Ninja, Snoopy, and Nireth followed his example, holding onto various letters.
Thunder Ninja began to have a seizure, and Vampire Lord’s rear end caught on fire again—he had been hit by a blast from the previous T.V. show!
“Why does this only happen to me?” he wailed.
“You are very unfortunate,” Nireth observed. She spotted her friend and jumped from her spot on the letters, “Thunder Ninja!” she cried, “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Tunder Ninja got to her feet. “What’s going on?”
“We need to grab a letter so we can escape the T.V. world!” Nireth explained quickly. She and Thunder Ninja grabbed letters and flew up with the credits.
Vampire Lord was waiting for them at the top, “Look!” he exclaimed, pointing at a small pinprick of light, “That must be the portal!”
“We’re finally getting out of here!” Thunder Ninja cheereed.
They ran through, but found themselves in yet another T.V.
”Aww,” Thunder Ninja kicked at the ground, “rats.”
Vampire Lord peered curiously through the T.V. screen at the boy watching the television. “Is that–”his eyes grew wide. “Look!” he pointed; whoever it was had Nellie, Natalie, Dan, and Amy stretched out on torture devices. The boy who wasn’t tied down had his back to the camera. “This guy must be the lead Vesper!”
The boy turned around, and Vampire Lord, Thunder Ninja, and Nireth gasped at the same time–it was Ian!
Ian was laughing as the others cried out in pain.
“Wasn’t that guy on our side?” asked Thunder Ninja.
As she spoke, Ian’s voice rang out: “My plan is falling into place! They thinke I’m a Cahill,” he chuckled to himself. He turned and noticed Thunder Ninja, Vampire Lord, Snoopy, and Nireth watching from the T.V. screen. He threw an axe at it, shutting it off.
The four of them were floating around in a dark space; Vampire Lord stared as they were surrounded by cartoon characters, all from cancelled shows.
“This must be where all the cartoon characters from cancelled shows go!” he said.
Camile materialized next to him out of thin air. “What’s going on?” she asked, looking around.
Nireth reached out to touch one of the cartoons, which shied away from her touch. “This is so sad!” she whimpered. “They’ve all been forgotten?”
“Exactly,” nodded Vampire Lord.
Thunder Ninja felt right at home; she immediately struck up a conversation with the ninja cartoon characters.
Camile looked around, “Hey,” she said, “I recognize some of these guys from when I was little!”
Vampire Lord trudged away, then disappeared. A few seconds later, he showed up again, “Guys, Pinkie Pie’s bakery is right outside!” he cried, excited. “I got her!” he hauled Pinkie Pie in after him. “She’s coming with us.”
“What’s with the–?” Thunder Ninja began, but Vampire Lord cut her off.
“Don’t ask questions!”
Pinkie Pie began to sing her cupcake song:
“All you do is take a cup of flour and add it to the mix. Now you pick out something sweet, not sour, a bit of salt–just a pinch! Baking these treats is such a chinch! Ad a teaspoon of vanilla! Add a little more, and you never get your fill of CUPCAKES! So sweet and tasty: CUPCAKES! Don’t be too hasty–cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes, CUPCAKES!”
Nireth tried to dance, but wasn’t very good at it.
“I like brownies!” Thunder Ninja shouted.
Nireth applauded as Pinkie Pie finished.
“Maybe the pony can make us cupcakes–you know, for our journey!”
Vampire Lord made a face, “Nevermind,” he said, “I don’t think I want to bring her with us any more.” He looked around. “Although some of these guys might be handy. Everyone, pick one cartoon character to bring with you.”
“Yay!” Nireth cheered. “I choose… hm,” she bit her lip. “You!” she cried, spotting a pointy-eared being. She thought it might be an elf, like Tridah, but it was actually Spock from the animated Star Trek series.
“Yes, little human?” Spock said, noticing Nireth’s pointing finger.
Nireth stared at Spock, “Oh!” she giggled. “You have funny eyebrows,” she laughed, seeing him from the front for the first time.
Spock frowned, “Your thought process is illogical.”
Vampire Lord slapped Spock, “Don’t talk about her that way!” he commanded.
“It’s all right!” Nireth said, defending Spock. “Don’t hurt him! That’s just his way.”
Vampire Lord was busy punching Spock in the face. “Sorry,” he said, but he didn’t stop his attack.
“Poor Spock!” Nireth said sadly.
Spock groaned and said, “This strange being has irrational anger. Could I perform a study and–”
“No, you jerk!” Vampire Lord shouted, kicking spock.
“Be careful!” cried Nireth. “Please don’t hurt him!”
Vampire Lord threw spock into a lake. Spock emerged unharmed. “He’s a cartoon character,” Vampire Lord said. “I couldn’t hurt him if I wanted to! Cartoon characters are practically indestructable.”
Suddenly, Vampire Lord was hit by a sleep dart.
“Vampire Lord!” Nireth cried, running to his side.
A knife whizzed through the air and stuck in the sand. Radiance appeared shortly afterwards and reached down to pick up her knife.
“Radiance!” Nireth exclaimed.
“Nireth!” Radiance ran to hug Nireth.
There was a small scratching noise, along with some scuttling.
Nireth turned to Radiance, “Did you hear that?” she asked fearfully.
Flambe ran out of the darkness, burning and dripping with blood.
“Flambe!” shouted Vampire Lord, snapping right out of his dart-induced sleep.
“Flambe? Is that you?” Nireth asked. “Oh, hello!” she waved.
“What… is that?” Radiance raised an eyebrow.
“Flambe is really quite nice,” Nireth said.
Flambe dropped to the ground unconscious and bleeding.
“Right,” Radiance said, “but I don’t thing Flambe’s being nice is saving him from bleeding to death.”
“Oh, no!” Nireth ran to Flambe’s side.
“Ice… beings… help!” Flambe said before lapsing back into unconsciousness.
“Ice beings!” Vampire Lord exclaimed. “This must have something to do with the message you found in that locket the other day!”
After Thunder Ninja had given Flambe some healing herbs, she had to leave on a mission. Vampire Lord transported them out of the T.V. world. When they emerged into the real world, they were at a campsite.
Vampire Lord opened up his phone after everyone was asleep and began to play the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Theme–8-bit version.
A park ranger banged on Vampire Lord’s tent, “STOP PLAYING POKEMON! You’re disturbing the other campers!”
Nireth startled at the noises and woke, “Dragon?” she asked, waking up in a panic.
Flambe woke up as well.
“It’s not Pokemon!” shouted Vampire Lord. “It’s Super Pony Brothers!” he turned to Nireth, “Man, I hate that guy,” he said, grimacing.
“I’m sorry!” Nireth said sympathetically. “He seems very mean.”
Vampire Lord turned around and shot a giant energy blast at the ranger. He blew up, and blood went everywhere. Flambe sat up, covered in blood.
“Wh-what did you do that for?” Nireth asked, shaking.
“I REALLY hate that guy,” Vampire Lord clarified. He went back to playing Super Pony Brothers.
“Ponies are nice,” Nireth said, hugging her Deadly Nadder pillow close.
Flambe shushed the others, “I smell something,” he said. “It seems to be nearby.”
“What does it smell like?” asked Nireth.
“It smells like mint!”
“Mint?” Nireth asked, standing up.
“Yes, mint,” Flambe nodded. “And… and a bit of my blood! What could it be?”
“Did you recently fight something that smelled of mint?” Nireth asked.
“No… wait, yes I did!” Flambe’s eyes grew wide. “The ice beings! They’ve found me! I’ve got to go!”
Snoopy heard twigs breaking outside, so he went out to investigate. At that moment, a trio of ice beings approached, looking around cautiously.
“Be careful!” Nireth whispered to Snoopy. She gasped when she saw the ice beings.
One of them held up a strange, light pink orb and began walking towards the tent Nireth and the others were staying in. Nireth stared, frozen with fear.
“Maybe it’s in there,” one of them said. “This thing is responding weakly, but it’s definitely a sign of something.” It knelt down and lifted the tent flap, peering into the tent.
“Ah,” it said, “a female human, I see.”
“Hi!” Nireth waved awkwardly, trying not to show how scared she felt.
“Hello, Madam,” it waved back. “Please don’t be scared–we won’t hurt you. We just want to ask a few questions.”
“All right,” Nireth said, still uneasy. “But I can’t promise I have any answers.”
Snoopy barked warningly at the ice beings.
“It’s all right, Snoopy,” Nireth said, stroking Snoopy’s head.
“First off, have you seen any crystaline shapeshifters lately?” the first ice being asked.
“No,” Nireth said honestly–she didn’t know that Flambe was actually a crystaline shapeshifter.
“Ah. O.K., did you see any fire beings pass by?”
“Fire beings?” Nireth asked. She knew Flambe could light things on fire, but she had other friends who had fire at their fingertips and weren’t fire beings. “No,” she shook her head. “Sorry!”
“Hm, all right,” the ice being said, looking concerned. “I only have one more question. Do you know anyone by the alias Flambe?”
“Yes!” Nireth said, then realized she may have spoken carelessly. “We saved him from quicksand the other day!”
“I see,” the ice being smirked. NOW it was getting somewhere! “Do you know where Flambe went?”
“No,” Nireth shook her head. Even if she had wanted to answer the question, she couldn’t have; Flambe had taken off so quickly, and she hadn’t even thought of watching after him.
“All right,” the ice being sighed. “Good day to you, Madam,” it said before walking off with the other ice beings.
There was a loud explosion, and chunks of ice rained down on the camp. A loud, “WOOOO!” came out of nowhere. Flambe ran back to the camp, holding a bunch of weapons, some crystals, and a pink orb from earlier.
“Flambe!” Nireth cried. “Are you all right? Those pesky ice beings were looking for you–”
“I’m fine,” Flambe laughed, “but them? Not so much! They had soooo many treasures, but I was more interseted in these crystals.” he held up three crystals.
“Shiny!” Nireth said, ensnared.
“These aren’t any ordinary crystals,” Flambe continued. “They’re life crystals! These are what give the ice beings their power.”
Nireth gasped, “If you took them, you’d have both fire and ice ready to use!”
Flambe nodded, “Exactly. But first we need to organize them and see what they do.” He set the crystals on the ground in order of size and slipped the pink orb into his pocket. “Hm, which one should I use?” asked Flambe. “The big one, the shiny one, or the durable one?”
“The shiny one is prettiest,” Nireth observed, “but the durable one would probably do best–the others might melt, since you can set things on fire and all.”
“Hm,” Flambe said, stepping back. “Perhaps you’re right! Durable it is, then.”
Flambe picked up the crystal and absorbed the powers of the Ice Beings.
Vampire Lord took out a picture and began to stare at it. Tears formed in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” asked Nireth, concerned.
Vampire Lord showed Nireth the picture of his brother, “He died saving me from the fire that killed my parents.”
“Oh, no!” Nireth gasped, “How awful–I’m sorry!” she patted him on the back.
Vampire Lord smiled weakly and turned away, “I need to be alone for a while.”
Nireth nodded, understanding. “I’ll be here,” she said, sitting down on a tree stump and twiddling her thumbs.
A note flew out of nowhere and hit Vampire Lord on the head. He read it and cheered wildly.
“What does it say?” asked Oswald.
Vampire Lord grabbed Nireth and hugged her, “He’s alive!” Vampire Lord’s voice was full of joy. “This note is from him–my brother!”
Nireth laughed, “Oh, how wonderful!” she returned his hug. “I’m so glad for you.”
“Yay!” Oswald said. “This is great news!”
Vampire Lord broke down crying, then suddenly stiffened. “Oh, remember that bullet from when Vikram Kabra shot me in the shoulder?”
“Yes?” Nireth asked, uncertain of what was coming next.
“It’s surgery time!” Vampire Lord said, holding up a scalpel, a sterile bandage, a tank of laughing gas and a mask, and a pair of tweezers. “Here,” he handed them to Nireth, “I trust you with these tools.”
Nireth stared. “But I don’t know–I can’t perform surgery!” she cried, distressed. “I don’t know the first thing about medicine. All I ever do when people get hurt is sing,” she said, ashamed.
“Fiske!” Vampire Lord called, “Guide NIreth through this surgery, please!”
Nireth sighed and nodded, glad she would have a guide, but was still very uncomfortable with the situation. “All right,” she said, “But–I don’t know, I don’t trust myself! My hands don’t hold steady,” she showed Vampire Lord her shaking hands.
Fiske smiled, “It’s all right,” he said, “it’ll get better as you go along. Now put him on the laughing gas before you do anything else.”
Nireth grabbed the mask and placed it over Vampire Lord’s nose and mouth, “Like that?” she asked.
“Exactly,” Fiske nodded. “Now turn the knob.”
Nireth turned the knob and heard the gas rush from the tank. Vampire Lord slid into unconsciousness, and Nireth tried not to freak out.
“Now just slice that piece of flesh open with the scalpel,” Fiske said, pointing to a small, white scar on Vampire Lord’s shoulder.
Oswald watched the whole thing, too scared to speak. Snoopy watched from the sidelines, as well.
“I–I don’t want to hurt him,” she whimpered. “What if he dies? It’ll be all my fault, and I won’t know what to do!”
“Just do it!” Fiske commanded.
Nireth jumped, startled. Her eyes wide, she moved the scalpel lightly over the scar, barely making an incision.
“All right,” Fiske said, “move the tweezers around inside the hole until you find the bullet.”
Machine Lord entered the room.
“Machine Lord!” Nireth cried, trying to keep from moving. She was afraid to put the tweezers into Vampire Lord’s wound.
Machine Lord took one glance at Vampire Lord, “You’re doing it wrong,” he said with a scowl.
“Please, tell me how I should be doing it!” Nireth said, frightened. “I don’t want to hurt him!”
“Well, first off, you can’t cut him there,” he looked at her incision and frowned. “You’re in danger of severing a nerve.”
“Oh, no!” Nireth whispered. “Well, it’s not very deep–is it bad?”
“Hm,” Machine Lord thought, “I can help.”
Before Machine Lord could step up, Fiske grabbed the tweezers and pulled out the pullet. “I’ve got it!” he cried, displaying the bullet for the others to see.
“No!’ cried Machine Lord. “Now you’ve done it! You’ve surely torn a nerve.”
Nireth stared at Vampire Lord’s new wound in horror, hoping it wouldn’t bleed as badly as his last one had.
Nireth wound his shoulder in bandages, and Vampire Lord began to wake up. “How did it go?” he asked with a yawn.
“Vampire Lord, Machine Lord says we severed a nerve in your arm!” Nireth’s voice was quavering.
“That’s nonsense!” scoffed Vampire Lord. “I don’t feel anything.”
“Wait,” Machine Lord said. “You don’t feel anything?”
Vampire Lord got up. “Yep! He said. Operation sucess–wait,” he frowned. “Why can’t I move my arm?”
“Oh, no!” Nireth cried. Tears began rolling down her cheeks. “This is all my fault!”
“I warned you,” Machine Lord said crossly, irritated that no one had listened.
“Nireth , it’s O.K.,” Vampire Lord said, “Get me that syringe over there.”
Nireth ran to the syringe and brought it back, whimpering all the while: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
Vampire Lord injected his arm and cried out in pain, but the feeling soon returned to his arm.
“I could have done that with ease,” Machine Lord waved dismissively.
“Did you get the bullet out?” Vampire Lord asked, ignoring Machine Lord.
“Fiske did,” Nireth nodded to Fiske. “I’m sorry–I got so flustered, I–” she buried her face in her hands. “I’m so sorry!”
“This is pathetic, Vampire Lord,” Machine Lord sighed.
“He’s not the pathetic one!” Nireth wiped her eyes on her sleeves. “I’m the pathetic one! I can’t even do a simple surgery!” She burst into tears. “I was so s-s-scared!”
“It’s O.K., Nireth,” Machine Lord said.
“Don’t cry!” Vampire Lord hugged her.
“He’s all right now,” Machine Lord patted her on the back.
Nireth smiled, cheered by her friends. “Thanks,” she said, hugging them back.
“Just take a bit of advice: leave the surgery to the experts!” recommended Machine Lord.
“I will!” Nireth laughed weakly. “Don’t you worry.”
With that, Machine Lord disappeared.
“I’m glad you’re all right,” Nireth smiled at Vampire Lord, “and thanks for your help!” she said to Fiske.
Suddenly, Vampire Lord’s legs fell off.
Nireth gasped, “Your legs!” she exclaimed, horrified. “What happened?” she asked, kneeling down at his side.
An announcer’s voice echoed in their ears: “Now it’s time for: Two and a Half Men!”
Nireth looked around, startled. “Who said that?” she got to her feet, insanely scared, “Poltergeists?”
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit covered his eyes, “I can’t watch!”
Vampire Lord started screaming, and so did Nireth and Oswald.
The announcer’s voice came back over again: “This has been Two and a Half Men.”
Suddenly, Vampire Lord was sitting on a couch with a bowl of popcorn, his legs fully intact.
“What did you guys think?” asked Vampire Lord. “Should I make that parody show?”
Nireth winced, “It’s–um–funny,” she said uncertainly, “but it seems painful!”
Vampire Lord shrugged, “There’s one thing that’s bothering me still,” he said. “My brother’s letter. I can’t figure out what this means. It reads, ‘If you want to find me, use the Code Sorter.”
“Code Sorter?” Nireth asekd. “Hm. What’s that?”
“I don’t know,” Vampire Lord shook his head. “It must mean that something is written in code–” he stopped short and stared at the paper. He began unscrambling the words, “Code Sorter”.
“Wait, look at this!” he showed the paper to Nireth, “‘If you want to find me, use the ‘Secret Door’!”
“Oh!” Nireth exclaimed. “That makes much more sense!”
Vampire Lord leaned on a bookshelf, “You know, if we were in a movie, I’d just pull out this book,” he pulled out a book from the bookshelf and turned away, “and a secret passageway would…” his voice trailed off as a loud grinding sound filled the room.
The bookshelf turned, revealing a dark, secret passage. “There’s a secret door behind me, isn’t there?” he asked Nireht.
Nireht nodded slowly.
Vampire Lord grinned and ran down the passageway. Before he had gotten far, he fell.
“Vampire Lord!” Nireth exclaimed, running to the edge of the passageway. She found herself standing at the edge of a cliff. “Are you all right?” she called.
“This is the same cliff from the Madrigal Stronghold–this MUST be a secret passageway leading there! Which means… my brother must be a Madrigal!”
Nireth grinned, “Oh, good, he’s not a Vesper–” she stopped short. “Right?”
Vampire Lord nodded, “Wait!” He replied. “I got a new text from Head Vesper! It reads: ‘What fun to visit the circus–especially if you sit in Section 5, Row W, Seat 7. All the world loves a clown! You are now out of time. Bring the Merchandise. Cotton Candy is optional.’”
“Merchandise?” Nireth asked fearfully.
“They’re talking about the Medusa painting and the Manuscript I stole from the Colloseum. The Medusa was a map, the Colloseum was a location, and the manuscript was the treasure!”
“I guess we should be going,” Nireth bit her lip. “I hope the others are all right.”
“Nellie and Fiske are DYING!” Vampire Lord exclaimed.
“Oh,” Nireth gasped, “then we’d better hurry!”
They ran into the Colloseum and Vampire Lord sat down in section 5, Row W, Seat 7. A Trapeze artist swung out of nowhere and grabbed the merchandise from Vampire Lord.
“Will you free our friends now?” Nireth asked.
In response, Vampire Lord’s phone rang. It had a picture of everyone still trapped in the holding cell.
“As you can see,” a message with it read, “your friends still accept our hospitality. This is because of your previous treachery: You will perform another task for us if you want to see your friends alive and well again.”
END OF BOOK TWO