TRAVIS STINNETT

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Text copyright © 2013 by Travis Stinnett All rights reserve ! Except as per"itte #n er $!S! %opyright Act o& 1'()* no part o& this p#blication "ay be repro #ce * istrib#te * or trans"itte in any &or" or by any "eans* or store in a atabase or retrieve syste"* +itho#t the prior +ritten per"ission o& the p#blisher! Travis Stinnett Visit "y +ebsite , http-..eeriealliance!blogspot!co" /irst 0aperbac1 E ition /ebr#ary 2013 by Travis Stinnett! The characters an events portraye in this boo1 are &ictitio#s! Any si"ilarity to real persons* living or ea * is coinci ental an not inten e by the a#thor! Stinnett* Travis* 1'(23 The Silent Sol iers . by Travis Stinnett!442n e ! S#""ary- 5#1e is an or inary yo#ng boy* or so he thin1s* living +ith his #ncle an co#sin a&ter the eath o& his parents shortly a&ter his birth! 5ittle oes 5#1e 1no+* he is abo#t to e"bar1 on a li&e changing 6o#rney to his gran &athers7 ho#se &or the s#""er! /ille +ith e"ons* &aeries* va"pires* +ere+olves an "ore* this novel +ill p#t 5#1e thro#gh a ga#ntlet o& tro#ble an t#r"oil* lea ing #p to a &inal cli"atic battle! IS8N '(23192232'3(1 :1! Va"pires;/iction! 2! <o#ng A #lt;/iction! 3! S#pernat#ral;/iction! = I! Title! II! Series- Stinnett* Travis! The Silent Sol iers > b1! 1! ASIN- 8008?R?RV2 ISBN-10: 1482389371 ISBN-13: 978-1482389371

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For my family. Thank you to my !autiful "if! an# thr!! ama$in% ki#& for &ti'kin% y m! throu%h thi& #auntin% (ro'!&&. I lo)! you %uy&**

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+'kno"l!#%m!nt&
I would like to thank my writing coach Timothy Stavetieg. Also, my wife Crystal for encouraging me through this entire writing and u!lishing rocess. Cliff "ennington with "ennington #ra hics Solutions for all the ama$ing gra hics work es ecially the s ectacular !ook covers for the entire novel series.

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,on-t mi&& Book T"o in T@E SI5ENT SA5BIERS SERIES8A%C TA S%@AA5

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INTRODUCTION
'It is almost time (aster. The child will come of age in less than two weeks. )ow soon will you !e a!le to return to the earth realm*+ asked a woman,s voice. 'It has !een nearly fourteen years since the child was !orn, and I was !anished. I am waiting for the recise moment in which I can make my return,+ said a man wearing a long !lack cloak. A hood com letely covered the figures head. The only art of the man,s !ody, that was visi!le !eneath the dark colored garment he was wearing, was his glowing red eyes. The man was standing in the middle of a cave !arely lit !y the fire of a single torch hanging on one wall. Suddenly the man,s image started to fade and I reali$ed he wasn,t in the cave at all. The man had ro-ected his image from some unknown location. 'I have com leted the final arrangements for your arrival. .e are ready to assist you in ca turing the child, (aster. The woman,s voice came from the shadows of the cave -ust out of reach of the light from the torch. The outline of her !ody was visi!le, !ut it was im ossi!le to see any of her features. ')ave you located the child* (y lans can !e carried out much more smoothly if we can take him !efore he learns a!out our world. '/o, (aster, I have not. .e have done everything in our ower to locate and ca ture him. )is arents went to great

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lengths to ensure that no one would find him. .e have a lead that he could ossi!ly !e hiding in the 1allas area. .e are searching the area day and night I assure you. '2ou have done well my child. According to the ro hetess the child will !e returning to the mansion soon,+ the man said looking toward the old lady crouched against one wall of the cave. The old lady against the wall was !ound with small silver chains wra ed around her !ody. She whim ered softly. Suddenly a long silver whi flashed out from the woman in the shadows. It struck the old lady in the !ack causing her to scream out in ain. '2ou will kee 3uiet in the resence of our (aster,+ says the woman fiercely. The chained old lady !ecame instantly silent !efore the man !egan to s eak again. '.e must o!tain the child. )e is a key element in my lans to rule this horrid lanet the humans call earth. If he unites with good he will forever !e my enemy.+ 'That will not ha en, (aster. 2our lans will not fail. I have worked very hard in your a!sence to guarantee your success.+ the woman says roudly. '.e shall see, my child.+ The woman !owed to the cloaked figure. )e nodded slightly !efore he com letely faded from the dark cave. The woman walked out into the light of the torch and it !ecame a arent that she too was com letely concealed !y a

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dark colored cloak. She walked gracefully over to the chained woman. She kneeled down on one knee ne5t to the old lady. '(aster will !e returning soon. I know you have !een withholding information a!out the visions you are having you old hag. .hen /hados is in our realm once again you will have no choice !ut to tell him what you know. )e has ways you could never even imagine to force you into telling him what he needs to know,+ she s at the words out at the chained lady. The old lady !egan to cry softly again. She knew the cloaked woman was telling the truth. She had indeed !een under /hados, ower in the ast. .hen /hados ca tured her many years ago she suffered his wrath for a short time. She !egan to so! loudly dreading the coming torture from the terrifying dark wi$ard. An evil laugh came softly from the cloaked woman. )er laugh !ecame louder and more evil as she stood to her feet. The woman kicked the old lady in the ri!s swiftly causing her to scream out in ain once again.

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7ach morning for the ast week, I awake from the same dream. I,m walking in a !eautiful valley somewhere, not sure where e5actly. The !ree$e is !lowing the !ack of my neck making the hair stand u a little. Suddenly, it turns to night with the moon full over my head, and unusually large. I look around the valley at the wood line and see airs of glowing yellow eyes surrounding me. I free$e with fear as I try to search through the darkness to find out what is surrounding me. Slowly the airs of eyes start moving closer to me and my fear grows more intense araly$ing me. I des erately search every direction trying to find a way to esca e, !ut I am com letely surrounded. I am sweating, yet my flesh is chilled and my muscles clenched as I !egin to hear a very low rum!ling growl coming from every direction. The growls slowly get louder and more threatening, and I can feel fear growing stronger. All of a sudden I hear a single wolf howl. I wake u screaming, and drenched in sweat. I have thought day and night a!out what this dream might mean !ut I,m too em!arrassed to ask my uncle what he thinks. It is em!arrassing having to tell your uncle you,re dreaming of the !ig !ad wolf. 8uke had grown u living with his 9ncle Charles and his cousin (att since !irth. They were a!out the same age, (att having !een !orn only five days !efore 8uke. In many ways,

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!eing so close in age made them like twins. They had always !een very close. They were ractically inse ara!le. I have asked a!out my arents many times !ut I can never get any information from my 9ncle. .hen I ask him what ha ened to them all he can tell me is there was an accident, and I had to come live with them. I feel like there is more to it than -ust an accident. I only want to know what ha ened to them, and what they were like. I guess it,s too hard for him to talk a!out losing his only sister. (ay!e someday I will meet other family mem!ers that might !e a!le to tell me a!out my arents. I do know my grandfather, my mom,s dad, is still around. Samuel Carrington, my grandfather, is a arently a very wealthy man and does some kind of real estate !usiness in every art of the world. This is what 9ncle Charles has told me a!out him. I have only seen him a cou le times in my life, usually around holidays. )e never stays more than an hour or two at the most so I never have time to get him alone to talk a!out my arents. I have never met any of my dad,s family. I feel like there are lots of secrets regarding me and my family. 9ncle Charles seems to !e hiding things from me !ut I can,t find any roof. (ay!e when I get older I can do some searching and see what I can come u with. '8uke, we,re going to !e late;+ yelled (att from the hallway outside 8uke,s !edroom. '.hat time is it*+ 8uke mum!led.

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'It,s seven o,clock, man. #et your !utt out of the !ed or we are going to miss our last day of school.+ '.hy are you so e5cited a!out getting to school* 2ou haven,t cared whether you went to school or not all year, and now you,re ready to go all of a sudden*+ '2eah man, the 3uicker we get there, the 3uicker we will !e out for summer and the 3uicker we can go on vacation.+ 8uke was kind of e5cited a!out going on vacation. They were lanning to s end a cou le weeks at his grandfather,s house in Arkansas. )e wasn,t sure if his #rand a would actually !e there very much since he is away on !usiness a lot. )e ho ed his grandfather would find time to talk to him a little a!out his arents. Samuel lived in 7erie, a few miles outside of 8ittle =ock, the state ca itol. )is 9ncle told him 7erie was a very small town, !ut that 8ittle =ock was much !igger. Charles also said there were lots of things to kee him and (att entertained while they were there. They had no idea -ust how entertained and !usy their life would !ecome once they arrived at their grandfather,s house. 8uke, Charles, and (att lived in 1allas, Te5as. There were always things to do there. )is uncle said 8ittle =ock was not nearly as !ig as 1allas, so he ho ed they had a good time and were not com letely !ored for the ne5t few weeks. 'The !us will !e here in five minutes,+ said (att as he knocked on 8uke,s !edroom door and ushed his way in. 'I,m ready (att, let,s get going.+

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8uke and his cousin were in the seventh grade. (att was a!out a foot shorter and weighed several ounds less than 8uke, !ut so did everyone else in his grade. (att had dark skin, short !rown hair and !rown eyes. All of the girls were cra$y a!out him, and he knew it. 8uke, on the other hand, had very ale skin. /o matter how much time he tried to s end in the sun he couldn,t seem to get any darker. It definitely was not fun growing u as the ale giant of your class. 8uke was !ig, ale, had shoulder length !londe hair, and !lue eyes. )is uncle told him he had his father,s com le5ion and his mother,s hair and eyes. 8uke didn,t know e5actly where his si$e came from though. So, here they were on their last day of the seventh grade. It seemed like any other day, !ut (att was su er stoked a!out it for some reason. 8uke was trying his !est to !e in high s irits for (att,s sake. )e couldn,t hel !ut feel as though something weird was a!out to ha en. The memories of his dreams continued to haunt his su!conscious mind. 7very time 8uke let his mind wander, the thought of the dreams would surface again. The first half of the day went !y really fast for him. )e made it through 7nglish, (ath, >iology, and S anish class with flying colors. /e5t came lunch. )e and (att didn,t have any classes together, unfortunately, !ut they had always sat together at lunch. 8uke had never !een a real eo le erson like (att, so he never made many friends in school. (att was always surrounded

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!y lots of friends. )is friends retty much acce ted 8uke !ecause he was art of (att,s family. 8uke had s ent most all of his free time learning and erfecting his interest in martial arts. )e had !een in ?arate and Tae ?won 1o classes for as long as he could remem!er. )e currently held a !lack !elt in Tae ?won 1o. 7veryone was e5cited a!out the things they were lanning to do on vacation. 8uke retty much stayed to himself, as usual, thinking. The time he s ent now, thinking, led his thoughts !ack to the recurring dream a!out the glowing yellow eyes and the howling wolf. )e continued to wonder what the meaning !ehind the animals in his dream was. )e had never in his life even seen a real wolf. 8uke couldn,t hel !ut think that the wolves felt almost as though they were familiar to him for some reason. )e grew more u$$led the more he thought a!out them. The end of the day finally rolled around, and (at met him at his locker. )e gra!!ed the rest of his stuff and left it em ty for whoever was to have it the ne5t year. )e slammed the locker shut !efore they headed for the !us to take them home. .hen they got home his 9ncle,s truck was already in the driveway. 8uke reali$ed instantly that something was going on. It was very unusual for Charles to !e home so early. )e normally worked until five or later every evening. 'I wonder why dad is home so early,+ (att said. 'I don,t know. 8ets find out.+ They walked in the front door and found that their luggage had already !een acked and now

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waited for them in the living room. 8uke thought this was kind of odd since his uncle told them they needed to ack as soon as they got home from school. )e told them they were leaving first thing the following morning for #rand a,s. '1ad*+ yelled (att as they walked through the living room to look for Charles. They found him on the hone in the kitchen. 'That,s right. I need two flights to 8ittle =ock as soon as ossi!le,+ said Charles into the hone. '.hat,s going on, (att*+ 8uke asked curiously. 'I don,t know man. I thought we were driving u to #rand a,s in the morning.+ A!out that time Charles hung u the hone. '#et everything loaded in the truck,+ said Charles. '.hat,s going on, 1ad*+ asked (att. '.e have to go to #rand a,s tonight. .e can,t wait until morning to leave.+ '.hat,s going on*+ 8uke asked curiously. '.hy only two flights*+ 'I,m sending you and (att on tonight. I have some im ortant !usiness to take care of in the morning and I,ll drive u tomorrow evening.+ 8uke found it kind of eculiar that his uncle would fly them to 8ittle =ock tonight instead of waiting for all of them to leave tomorrow. 8uke decided to kee this thought to himself. Charles seemed to do things lately that made 8uke wonder if he was hiding something, !ut he never asked

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3uestions. )e knew it was not olite to 3uestion grown@u s a!out their !usiness. (att didn,t seem to think anything was out of the ordinary. At least he didn,t let on that he did. (att was -ust e5cited a!out the thought of getting to fly. /either of the two !oys had ever !een on a lane. 8uke finally admitted to himself he was a little !it e5cited too. Charles failed to tell his son and ne hew the true reason he was sending them early. )e didn,t have time to e5 lain all of the things they would soon find out. )e needed to get them out of the state. .hen 8uke was !orn he was laced in the care of his uncle. Charles, after the recent death of his wife, had to move from his home in 7erie. )e moved to 1allas to hide his new!orn ne hew from the dark and evil forces that were hunting him. Charles feared that after all these years their location had !een com romised. That was the real reason he was sending them to their grandfather immediately. They 3uickly loaded their things into the !ack of Charles, truck. It definitely seemed like a lot of !ags for a cou le weeks, !ut 8uke again decided not to ask any 3uestions. 8uke ran u to check his room one last time to make sure everything he wanted to take had !een acked. They were out the door in 3uite a hurry. ')ow are we getting to #rand a,s once we get to 8ittle =ock*+ (att asked his dad. '#rand a is going to send a car. It will !e waiting on you as soon as you land.+ Charles e5 lained.

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'And you are coming tomorrow, right*+ I asked. 'That is the lan. As soon as I finish what I have to do, I will head that way.+ Charles looked funny to 8uke. )e almost looked as though he was terrified of something. 8uke couldn,t imagine what had his uncle so scared. )e ho ed everything worked out the way Charles wanted. 'The shifter has !een s otted leaving the house,+ said one of the two men standing in the dark cave. The men knelt !efore the cloaked woman as if she was their 3ueen. They dared not look the woman in the eyes. It was a woman. 'Then what are you waiting for*+ screamed the woman, '.hy are you here with me when this could !e the erfect o ortunity to ca ture the !oy*+ she added hissing the words at the men. The two men !egan to slowly cree !ackwards away from the woman. It was im ossi!le for a human to move their !ody arts the way these men did. '2es, (adame,+ said one of the cree ing men. 'They are !eing trailed as we s eak. .e will go to them immediately,+ said the second man. 'If you value the air you !reathe, you will not let the !oy get away. The master is due to arrive at any time. )e will not !e leased if the !oy is allowed to esca e,+ s at the woman. The two men !owed their heads to the woman and instantly !urst into flames. .hen the flames went out the two men no longer knelt arent the men feared this

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!efore her. They had magically tele orted !ack to wherever they came from. 8uke, (att, and Charles arrived at the air ort in 1allas. 9ncle Charles said his good@!yes !efore unloading their luggage onto a rolling cart. The air ort was huge. 8uke couldn,t imagine how they would ever find where they were going on their own. 'I have to go, !ut (r. Coleman here is a friend of your #rand a,s. )e will hel you check in and get to your assigned terminal.+ Charles told them. (r. Coleman, to their sur rise, was a giant man with dark tanned skin and a !u$$ed haircut. )e wore a !lack suit with dark sunglasses. Charles took the man aside and s oke to him for a second. 8uke watched as the giant man nodded his head in agreement. 8uke had !een watching his uncle closely since they left the house. )e watched as Charles drove unusually fast as he weaved through the heavy afternoon traffic. 8uke knew they were in a hurry to get to the air ort. )e couldn,t understand why his uncle had watched his rearview mirror so closely. 8uke had started to get nervous as he watched his uncle drive. As Charles talked to (r. Coleman he scanned the cars that were coming and going at the front entrance of the air ort. The nervousness 8uke felt on the drive suddenly turned to fear as his uncle, and then (r. Coleman !egan to look frantically around at the other eo le walking in and out of the air ort. ')e,s kind of scary looking, huh*+ (att asked.

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'2eah man he is freaking me out a little !it,+ 8uke agreed. 8uke wondered if (att had even noticed the strange way his father had !een acting since they got home from school. '2ou are in good hands with (r. Coleman. )e will make sure you guys get on your lane safely.+ Charles e5 lained. 'I love you !oys. I will see you !oth soon at #rand a,s. The !oys waved !ye to Charles as he ractically ran !ack to his truck and took off in 3uite a hurry. They followed (r. Coleman into the air ort. 8uke wondered why Charles was in such a hurry now that they were safely to the air ort. They checked their !aggage 3uickly !efore they rushed off to the terminal. 8uke thought they would never get where they were going. The air ort a eared to go on for miles. )e thought they walked at least a hundred of those miles !efore they finally arrived at the right terminal. 8uke and (att were ractically running through the air ort as they tried des erately to kee u with (r. Coleman. 8uke watched (r. Coleman as they ran. )e couldn,t see the man,s face as his head turned !ack and forth scanning the crowds as they rushed toward their destination. The flight attendant was -ust a!out to close the door to the gate. '.AIT;+ yelled (r. Coleman. The attendant was more than a little shocked at the out!urst, !ut she smiled gently at them. '2ou almost missed your de arture,+ she said as she made her way over to greet us at the check in counter.

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8uke was out of !reath when they made it to the check in counter at the terminal. )e looked around at all the eo le in the air ort as he tried to catch his !reath. Suddenly 8uke s otted a figure standing across the air ort through the crowd. )e knew instantly something was different a!out this erson he was looking at. )e wondered why no!ody else seemed to notice someone wearing a heavy cloak that com letely concealed every art of their !ody. )e couldn,t tell if it was a man or a woman. Aust as he was a!out to reach out and touch (att to get his attention a large grou of eo le walked !etween him and the cloaked figure. 8uke craned his head trying to get a !etter look at the erson. .hen the grou assed the cloaked erson was gone. They !oarded the lane 3uickly after the attendant got them checked in. (r. Coleman went his own way since his -o! with the !oys was com lete. 8uke really wanted the chance to talk to (att on the lane, !ut getting tickets at the last minute caused their seats to !e too far a art. )e wanted to talk to him a!out what he saw at the terminal. 8uke !egan to think may!e he hadn,t even seen the erson at all. )e ushed it out of his mind as he settled into his seat for the tri . The flight was !oring to 8uke after the thrill of the initial take off. )e decided to take a na . )e was not really tired, !ut he wanted to !e well rested to talk to #rand a. )e had ho ed his #rand a would !e home that night, and he would get the chance to talk to him alone. 8uke fell aslee 3uickly after he closed his eyes.

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The familiar dream started all over again. >eautiful valley, turning to night, glowing yellow eyes, and the howling wolf. This time was different though. 8uke hadn,t woke u when the wolf howled. )e had never dreamed ast the howling !efore. )e didn,t know what to e5 ect after that. )e looked around at the glowing eyes surrounding him. )e tried to antici ate what would ha en ne5t. 8uke caught a glim se of something out of the corner of his eye. .hen he turned to look, there was a huge cat running toward him at full s eed. The cat was solid !lack with glowing red eyes and the shar est teeth he had ever seen. 8uke guessed it was some sort of anther or something of that nature. Aust as 8uke turned to run, he felt something ri through the flesh of his !ack. 8uke woke u -um ing from his seat on the lane screaming at the to of his lungs. )e looked around and reali$ed everyone on the lane was starring at him. )e immediately remem!ered where he was and turned red with em!arrassment as he sank !ack into his seat. 'Are you ok*+ The flight attendant asked as she made her way over to check on him. 'I -ust had a !ad dream,+ 8uke re lied. The dream had a eared as though it was getting weirder. 8uke was more confused as to what it meant. )e tried to shake the lingering feeling of fear as the ca tain instructed the flight attendants to re are for the arrival into 8ittle =ock.

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'.e failed you, (aster,+ said the woman,s voice as she kneeled !efore him. The men she sent to the air ort to retrieve the !oy had failed her. She unished them severely for their failure. /ow, even though she knew her master wasn,t actually standing !efore her, she must answer to him. She would take whatever unishment he felt she needed.+ 'I was at the air ort myself. There was no way for the child to !e taken without causing a scene in front of all those athetic humans,+ said the already fading cloaked figure. The woman suddenly reali$ed she had dealt unishment to innocent !eings. She wasn,t the least !it sorry a!out it. She wanted to im ress her master !y ca turing the !oy !efore he returned to the 7arth realm. She now knew she missed her last chance for that to ha en. 'I am sorry, (aster. I should have gone and finished the -o! myself,+ said the woman sarcastically. 'And ruin your lace within the ack* That would !e even more stu id than causing a scene in front of the humans;+ The man yelled down at her. The woman flinched at the tone of the man,s angry voice as though he could cause her harm. The man had again ro-ected himself into the cave from whatever far away dimension he had !een !anished to. '2ou must !e smart. .e need you to hide within the ack to inform me of their

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actions, and to kee a close eye on the !oy. The time is coming for me to return and !ring the !oy to stand at my side. .e must !e as re ared as ossi!le. That res onsi!ility lies with you alone,+ The man told her. )is voiced calmed steadily as he again e5 lained her im ortance. 'I understand, (aster. I must go and re are myself for his arrival at the mansion.+ As soon as her last word was out, the man 3uickly faded from the dark cave. She slowly stood and walked out of the cave. She had a !ig -o! ahead of her. She couldn,t fail her master a second time for fear that he would end her life for good. The lane seemed to move in slow motion as I an5iously awaited its arrival at our gate. I could see (att a few rows in front of me as he stared out the little window ne5t to his seat. )e was lucky enough to get a window seat. I couldn,t see anything as the lane made its way to the gate. .e got our carry on !ags out of the overhead com artments and were on our way to the e5it door. As we made our way down the hall into the terminal I s otted a man holding a sign that read DR! STA55IN?S ANB DR! %ARRIN?TAN! 2ou could hardly call the erson holding the sign a man. )e was a!out 3 feet tall with long gray hair and !eard. )e reminded me of one of Santa,s elves to !e erfectly honest. )e was dressed retty much the same way as (r. Coleman !ack in 1allas, minus the dark sunglasses. I let out a

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little giggle at the sight of him and (att caught on to what I was looking at. 'I guess that would !e us,+ I told (att. '#uess so,+ he re lied. .e slowly made our way thru the crowd toward the tiny little man. .hen he finally reali$ed we were headed his way you could see the e5citement light u his tiny little features. The little man hurried over to us. '2ou must !e 8uke;+ the little man e5claimed as if he had known me my entire life. 2ou could feel the e5citement ouring from the little man as he shook my hand enthusiastically. 'It is such an honor to finally meet you,+ said the little man. '/ice to meet you too sir,+ I said in a very confused sort of way. '"lease forgive me. (y name is Aackson =ath!urn. I work for your grandfather, (r. Carrington,+ he e5 lained. 'It,s very nice to meet you (r. =ath!urn,+ I said. 'Bh no, no, no, you must call me Aack,+ he said with a huge smile. 'Bk, Aack. This is my cousin (att,+ I said. 'Bh, lease forgive me (att. It is definitely a leasure meeting you as well,+ he said as he !lushed with em!arrassment. 'Same here,+ said (att with a very annoyed look on his face.

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'I will !e escorting you to the mansion to meet with your grandfather.+ I couldn,t hel !ut feel nervous and e5cited at the thought of my grandfather !eing home, and a!out the ossi!ility of getting some alone time with him. I had so many 3uestions o ing into my head as we followed the little man named Aack thru the air ort in 8ittle =ock. The air ort wasn,t nearly as !ig as the one in 1allas, !ut it still took us some time to get outside to the car. .e followed Aack out the front doors of the air ort and I s otted a huge limousine with another of the !lack suited men waiting to load our luggage into the trunk. '8ooks like we,re riding in style (att,+ I said. '.ow; #rand a must !e loaded sending a limo to ick us u ,+ said (att. (att and I had never known e5actly what our grandfather did for a living. .e knew he was in real estate. .e were !eginning to reali$e he must have loads of money. /either (att nor I had ever !een to #rand a,s house. .e really didn,t know what to e5 ect with 'the mansion,+ as Aack ut it, !ut we were !oth overflowing with e5citement a!out our first lane ride and our first ride in a limousine. This was almost more e5citement than either of us could handle in one day. The man that loaded our luggage now o ened the door at the !ack of the limo. The three of us clim!ed into the !ack seat. .e heard the front door o en and close, the engine started, and the car !egan to move. .e couldn,t see the driver with the window to the front seat !eing com letely !lacked out. Aack didn,t seem to !e !othered !y it. .e watched out the windows in antici ation as

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the car made its way onto the freeway headed to 7erie, the town where our grandfathers, mansion was located. '.ould you care for something to drink*+ Aack asked (att and me. 'Sure, what do you have*+ (att asked. 'See for yourself,+ Aack said as he o ened the limos mini fridge. It was acked with every sort of soft drink you could imagine. .e !oth settled for our choice of canned drink, and Aack closed the fridge. .e si interstate. 'So, how long have you worked for #rand a*+ I asked Aack. 'I have !een with your grandfather for many years, he e5 lained, '8ong !efore either of you were even !orn.+ 'That,s cool.+ .e rode in silence as we continued down the narrow two lane road leading into 7erie. I noticed that we were driving through nothing !ut woods on !oth sides of the road. I couldn,t remem!er if we had assed a house at all in the ast cou le miles. Soon after that we assed a cou le of small houses. .e assed a sign that said 7erie, o ulation 31%, and that let me know -ust how small this town really was. /e5t we assed a little convenience store and were running arallel to railroad tracks on the o osite side. .e slowed down to make a right hand turn that took us over the tracks. .e assed a cou le larger houses and were again surrounded !y woods. .e drove a few more ed our sodas as we e5ited the

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miles when the car !egan to slow down to make another turn. The driveway o ened u to a little guard shack with a huge !lack metal gate hung !etween a massive !lock wall. The wall must have !een at least 12 feet tall. I noticed cameras ointed in different directions down the to of the wall. I wondered why #rand a needed so much security. The limo sto ed at the gate. I noticed the two guards looked and dressed much the same as the driver and (r. Coleman. The guards a roached the driver. After a !rief conversation one of the guards went !ack to the guard shack. The other made a circle around the car. After the guard com leted his search of the car he went !ack to the guard shack. .e watched as the huge !lack gate started to slowly o en. The guard motioned for us to go in. The car ulled slowly forward through the gate. (att and I !oth stared out our windows as we made our way down the drive and through more woods that surrounded us. At one oint we crossed a small covered !ridge that crossed a creek connecting two very large onds on either side of the road. .e continued down the driveway as the woods !egan to thin out and o en u to fields all around us. Aust as we started over the to of a hill we caught our first glim se of our grandfather,s, mansion. Bur mouths dro ed o en in awe as we took in the view. .e could see the house across a valley from where we were coming down the drive. I could hardly ut into words how !ig this lace was. It could !arely !e called a house at all. It was

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more along the lines of a castle than anything. )uge gray stones made u the ma-ority of the e5terior surfaces. (assive columns held u the roof that covered the entryway to what I assumed would !e the front door. At either end of the massive central art of the house, which was at least three stories tall, were two towers. These towers were like something you would see in a fairy tale story. They were round and e5tended a!ove the main level of the house. I had never seen a house as !ig as this one in all my life, even in the 1allas area. I couldn,t wait to get inside and start e5 loring the lace with (att. I glanced over at (att as the car veered to the right around the circle driveway in front of the mansion. I hadn,t noticed !efore, !ut (att was looking rather ale and was sweating 3uite a !it even with the rather cool tem erature in the limo. 'Are you feeling ok (att*+ I asked. '/ot really. I think I,m -ust tired from all of the e5citement we,ve had today,+ he said. '2ou,re ro!a!ly right. I,m a little tired and worn out myself.+ It was !eginning to get dark !y the time we arrived at the house. I looked at the huge s otlights that illuminated the area around the mansion. The !ack door of the car o ened and another !lack suited giant motioned for us to get out. Two younger guys, dressed also in !lack suits, a roached the rear of the car and o ened the trunk. I was !eginning to get the idea that these !lack suits were uniforms for my grandfather,s em loyees.

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The younger guys unloaded our luggage and !egan hauling it into the house. As we walked u the ste s and a roached the huge front doors, Aack said, '(att, why don,t you come with me and I,ll show you to your room so you can lie down. 2ou aren,t looking very well and ro!a!ly need a little rest from all the e5citement.+ 'That sounds like a great idea, (att said, I,m really not feeling well at all.+ '8uke, why don,t you go into the great room straight through those doors,+ Aack said ointing to a set of dou!le doors as we entered into what would !e the foyer of the mansion. '2our grandfather will meet you there shortly.+ 'Bk, sounds good to me.+ '.ill you !e ok, (att*+ I asked. 'Sure man I -ust need to lie down for a minute,+ he re lied. A massive staircase on either side of the dou!le doors leading to the great room led to the second story. I watched as Aack led (att u the stairs. I watched until they were out of sight !efore I entered into the ne5t room as Aack had instructed. The room I entered was indeed a '#reat+ room. It was !igger than our entire house in 1allas, which made it a !it overwhelming. The walls were covered in a dark colored stone from floor to ceiling with dark hardwood floors. There was nothing down the center of the room e5ce t for a thick rug. Bn the left side of the room was a very large fire lace surrounded !y

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an over si$ed !rown leather couch and matching chairs. The other side of the room had a huge ta!le that could seat at least two do$en eo le comforta!ly, with chairs all around. The rooms, ceiling was at the level of what had to !e the same height as the second floor ceiling. Statues, lants, and trees of different si$es decorated the room. A huge chandelier lowered down from the ceiling to what should !e the first floors ceiling in the center of the room. I walked around the room looking at all of the aintings hanging on the walls. I made my way !ack around to the sitting area in front of the fire lace. A!out the time I sat down on one of the large chairs, I heard the door at the other end of the room close. I looked u to see #rand a, with a !ig smile on his face, walking toward me. I stood and he came u to give me a !ig hug. 'I am so very ha y you are here, 8uke. I have waited so long for the day that you would -oin me here at the mansion.+ 'I,m so glad to see you #rand a. Is (att ok*+ ')e will !e -ust fine, son, don,t you worry a!out him. 2ou are !oth in very good hands now that you have arrived at the mansion.+ 'I have so many 3uestions for you #rand a. I have !een waiting for years to ask them.+ '.ell, let,s sit down and talk for a while. I know you have lots of 3uestions for me. I have lots of things to reveal to you as well.+ .e !oth sat down with #rand a in one of the !ig chairs, and me on the end of the couch closest to him.

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'I,m -ust going to come out and ask you this, #rand a. I ho e that I don,t u set or anger you for asking.+ 'I want you to know you can ask me anything and I will never get u set or angry with you, 8uke.+ 'Bk. I want to know what ha ened to my arents. I have asked 9ncle Charles several times over the years and all he ever tells me is that there was some sort of accident. I want to know what ha ened to them e5actly.+ '8uke, Charles was correct a!out the accident. After your arents laced you in his care they took my rivate -et to flee from /hados. They decided to return to 7ngland, to your fathers, home country. 2our father !elieved that with you in hiding, and them in the rotection of his eo le you all would !e safe from /hados. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean the lane went down. The lane crashed into a small island and e5 loded on im act. I sent a team to look for any survivors, !ut none were found,+ e5 lained #rand a. 'I have something else to tell you that you ro!a!ly are not going to understand. The world and the things in it are not what they a ear to !e. There are many things that you have never seen or e5 erienced. Some of the creatures that you have e5 erienced only in movies live right along side us in everyday life. The su ernatural world e5ists in great secrecy from the human race. I,ll e5 lain what I,m talking a!out later. Some of it is -ust too much for you to com rehend all at one time. 2our

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mother and father were very owerful, very im ortant, su ernatural !eings.+ '.hat e5actly do you mean !y !eings #rand a*+ '8uke, I need for you to -ust listen to everything I tell you and !elieve that I am telling you the truth.+ 'Bk, #rand a, I trust you.+ 'Cifteen years ago your mother and father met and fell in love instantly. This love was strictly for!idden in the Su ernatural community !ecause they are of different races. I don,t mean the color of their skin. 2our mother was a shifter and your father was a vam ire.+

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3
'2ou,re kidding, right* Dam ires are -ust characters someone made u for the movies, #rand a. And, what e5actly is a shifter*+ I asked. 'Dam ires very much do e5ist, 8uke. "lease allow me to finish. A shifter is someone that transforms into an animal during the full moon. Cull !looded shifters can change anytime they choose. 2our mother was a shifter. She was of the race that changes into wolf form, !etter known as werewolves. 'So, my dad was a vam ire, and my mom was a werewolf*+ I laughed at #rand a as I thought a!out my arents laying the art of these make !elieve characters in the movies (att and I watched growing u . I let my laughter fade away when I noticed the very serious look he was giving me. I was finding it very hard to !elieve what he was telling me. '2es. That is correct. (any years ago your arents met and fell in love. 8ove !etween different races of su ernatural creatures was strictly for!idden. 2our arents ke t their relationshi a secret for 3uite some time. After a while they decided they wanted to have a child together. This normally would !e im ossi!le since vam ires can,t re roduce. They aid a very owerful witch to create and cast a s ell on your father to allow your mother the o ortunity to conceive his child.+ 'And they had me*+ 'That is correct 8uke. /ine months later they had you. Bnce word got out a!out a child !orn from two different races,

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!oth families !egan fighting over which race should raise you, and who would have control over you. This u set your arents very much. They didn,t want anyone having control over their child. They wanted you to grow u like all other su ernatural children. They decided to tell !oth of their families that you died at !irth. They decided to leave the country and return to your fathers, homeland in 7ngland. I only found out you were still alive after your arents accident.+ 'They had the witch to cast a s ell !inding all of your owers. They felt this was the only way you could grow u as a normal human until which time your owers could !e revealed. They told only your 9ncle Charles a!out their lans. The asked him to raise you with his own son, (att. >efore you turned fourteen he was asked to !ring you here to the mansion.+ 'So what e5actly does that make me*+ '8uke, you are the rarest of su ernatural !eings. As far as we know, you are the only successful attem t at mi5ing the races. .e don,t know e5actly what to e5 ect when the s ell is removed, and you come of age.+ 'So why didn,t my arents take me with them when they left* Couldn,t I have grown u normal with them*+ '2our mom and dad knew the su ernatural community would !e watching them. If they were ever seen with a child, evil would not sto until you were ca tured. They would know who you were even without your owers. They had no choice !ut to hide you until you were owerful enough to defend yourself. .e

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have many re arations to make, and much training to com lete, !efore you can !e introduced into the su ernatural community.+ I sat there and stared at #rand a. I didn,t know e5actly how to res ond to what he was telling me. I felt waves of different emotions that were nearly too much to !ear. I was angry at my arents for leaving me. I was angry with 9ncle Charles for hiding this from me all these years. I also felt a great sadness for what he must have went through raising two !oys on his own after losing his only sister. I felt anger toward my grandfather for not !eing around, and also for not telling me all of this sooner. All of these emotions were flooding me at once. All I could manage to do was sit there and stare at #rand a as tears !egan to roll down my face. 'I know you are u set 8uke. I understand what you must !e going through.+ I didn,t know how it was ossi!le for him to understand what I was going through. (y whole life had !een changed in a matter of minutes. I no longer knew who or what I was. I also didn,t know what my future held. )e had -ust told me of a whole other world that I never could have dreamed even e5isted. I was somehow caught u right in the middle of it. '/ow that you know a!out your arents, you need to know more a!out what is in store for you in the days and weeks to come. I told you your father was a vam ire. Dam ires have a wide array of owers and weaknesses that you must learn and understand.+

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'I have seen vam ire movies #rand a. I know all a!out garlic, holy water, crosses, and wooden stakes. I also know they can,t go out in the daytime.+ 'Dam ires also have a reaction to silver, and they must feed on human !lood to survive,+ 'So let me get this straight. I can never go out in the sun again, and I have to drink !lood*+ I asked com letely disgusted !y the thought of this. '.ell we don,t 3uite know a!out you yet. 2ou are a com letely different !eing all together. 2ou are only art Dam ire. .e don,t know if you will react and !ehave the same way as a normal vam ire would.+ 'I also told you a!out your mother !eing a shifter. 2our mother was a descendent of a ure race of shifters that take the form of a wolf. As much as we do not know a!out your vam ire side, we know even less a!out your shifter side. 'So if mom is from a ure race does that mean that you are a shifter as well*+ '2es. I am a shifter, and so is your 9ncle Charles,+ #rand a e5 lained. '.hat a!out (att*+ I asked in a shaky tone. I couldn,t imagine (att turning into anything, let alone a wolf. '2es. .e are all of the wolf clan of shifters. Shifters are like any other normal child until they reach the age of fourteen. After a shifter reaches this age they will shift on the first full

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moon. After the initial change to their animal form, they have the a!ility to shift at will. '(att turned fourteen two days ago #rand a.+ '2es he did, and you turn fourteen in a few days yourself.+ 'Is (att going to shift at the ne5t full moon* .hen is that e5actly*+ 'The ne5t full moon is on your !irthday. Two days from today. Charles has !een informing us of (att,s rogress over the ast few days. I felt it was im erative that (att !e here tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow. It looks as though he made it here -ust in time.+ '.hat do you mean* I thought you said the first change was on the full moon. And how could 9ncle Charles tell (att was getting close to the change*+ 'Bn rare occasions shifters of the urest of !lood lines will change early. It doesn,t ha en often, !ut when it does it usually means the shifter will have great ower of some kind. And as for Charles knowing (att was getting close to changing* Cathers have a si5th sense a!out when their child is getting close to the first change. Charles nearly missed the signs. .e are very glad that (att arrived here when he did. It looks as though (att is close to his first shift.+ 'Can I see him* I !et he is terrified !eing alone. )e doesn,t know what the heck is going on,+ I yelled.

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'I,m afraid you will have to wait until morning to see (att. I wanted to s eak to you first, to let you know what was ha ening. I lan to go to (att and e5 lain his situation as well. .e will of course !e running together tonight once he has com leted the first change.+ '=unning together*+ I asked with a very confused look on my face. '.olves run in acks as you may or may not know. Any child that !elongs to our ack comes to the mansion for their safety as well as the safety of any humans they may otherwise cross aths with during their first change. The stone wall and gate runs around the entire erimeter of my ro erty. /othing can get in or out without our knowing a!out it. 9sually when a child changes for the first time their father has the honor of running with them. Charles had to stay !ehind to take care of some im ortant !usiness in 1allas. I have the honor of taking his lace with (att. There are many wonderful and s ectacular things for you to learn a!out our family and the su ernatural world, my son.+ '.hat is going to ha en to me, #rand a*+ en to you, 8uke. I !elieve you '/othing is going to ha o

have learned 3uite enough for one night. There will !e lenty of ortunities for us to talk, and for you to ask your 3uestions. I know you have thousands of them. I want you to know you are safe here, and nothing can harm you as long as you are inside the mansion. .hat I need you to do is get settled into your room and

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get some rest. 2our luggage has already !een taken to your room and one of my eo le will show you the way. I must go and !e with (att on his most -oyful occasion. I love you very much, 8uke, and I am so very ha mansion.+ #rand a gave me a !ig hug and said good !ye for the evening. A!out that time the door he entered from o ened, and a !eautiful young woman entered. She was several years older than me. She smiled as she a roached us and I wondered if she too was some sort of su ernatural creature that I -ust learned even e5isted. I also wondered how she knew -ust the right moment to enter the room. I didn,t think it was im ortant enough to mention. That and my mind was stuck on the fact that #rand a had -ust changed my life forever. I no longer felt certain what the future held for me. I was utterly terrified at the thought of what creatures might e5ist outside the mansion, or inside for that matter. I couldn,t hel !ut wonder how the whole e5istence of su ernatural creatures was hidden so well for thousands of years from the human race. (ost im ortantly I could not yet understand why my arents left me even though #rand a tried to e5 lain their reasoning. 'If you will follow me, 8uke, I will show you to your room,+ the !eautiful lady said as she motioned for the door leading !ack to the foyer. I was 3uite ama$ed at the mansion thus far, and couldn,t wait to have time in the future for (att and me to do some ma-or y that you are finally here at the

36

e5 lorations on the rest. .e e5ited the great room and headed u the stairs to the second floor. .e headed down a long hallway, which was the same way that I saw (att !eing led when we arrived. .e assed several doors on either side of the hall and I wondered which of the rooms (att was in. .hen we got nearly to the end of the hall the lady sto ed and turned to face me. 'This would !e you, my dear,+ she said with a smile, 'There is a refrigerator with sodas and snacks. 2ou also have your own !athroom for your convenience. 2ou should !e retty well set until morning. Someone will let you know when !reakfast is ready, and show you where the dinning hall is. #et a good nights, slee . 2ou have a !ig day ahead of you tomorrow,+ she e5 lained. I thanked her for showing me the way and entered the room that would !e mine during my stay at the mansion. It was the !iggest !edroom I had ever seen in my entire life. There was a gigantic king si$ed cano y !ed in the center of one wall. The wall o osite the !ed contained a fire lace and a little sitting area with a cou le leather chairs, a couch, and some end ta!les with lam s. The area farthest from me across the room housed a small kitchen area with a refrigerator, sink, stove, and microwave. It was surrounded with ca!inets and a little !ar that se arated it from the rest of the room. To the left of the kitchen was a door that I assumed led to the !athroom the lady mentioned. I crossed the room and went through the door into an e3ually e5travagant !athroom area. This room had retty much

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the same dark !urgundy color scheme as the !edroom. There was a huge shower, and a !athtu! !ig enough for several eo le. There was also, of course, a toilet and sink as well as a closet the si$e of my !edroom !ack home. I wondered why anyone would need a closet that !ig. The only thing I didn,t notice was windows. There was not a single window in either of the two rooms. It was 3uite de ressing considering how I loved to look outside, es ecially when the sun was u . #uess I would have to get used to the no sun thing if I was to !e a vam ire like #rand a told me. I found my luggage iled in the corner of the !edroom, and !egan to !usy myself !y utting them away in the chest@of@ drawers that was in the room. I ut what I could in the drawers. The rest I hung in the closet. I decided to take a 3uick shower to hel me rela5, and ho efully fall aslee . I found the food in the kitchen and had a snack !efore I clim!ed into !ed for the evening. Aust as I got settled into !ed, I heard a !one chilling howl, much like the one from my dream, coming from outside the mansion. 'The old lady was correct, (aster. The child has arrived at the mansion. The ack leader has informed him a!out our world.+ The woman said inside the dark cave. 'I need you to watch them closely. The !oy will !e mine in two days time,+ re lied the man. Suddenly the glowing red eyes under the man,s hood grew !righter. The woman !acked u

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3uickly against the wall of the cave as he !urst into flames. The flames instantly died down and went out com letely. The woman fell to her knees !efore the man. )er master had finally returned to the 7arth realm after so many long years.

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I woke u the ne5t morning feeling rested and ready for whatever the day had in store for me. I ho ed it was a little less eventful than the revious day, !ut some how I dou!ted it. #rand a had dum ed a load of very distur!ing information on me the day !efore. I was having a hard time rocessing it all. I almost felt as though I had dreamed most of it. Bn to of everything #rand a had told me, I was really worried a!out (att. I wondered if he took the news #rand a had for him any !etter than I had. I also wanted every detail a!out how his first change went. I was ossi!ly going to e5 erience the change myself in a day or two. I wanted to re are myself for it. I checked my cell hone for the time. It was seven a.m. I wasn,t sur rised a!out how early it was since I went to !ed so early the night !efore. I had no idea where anything or any!ody was in the mansion. I decided to do a little e5 loring !efore anyone came to whisk me away for !reakfast. I threw on some sweat ants and my favorite 1allas Cow!oys sweat shirt !efore sli ing on my shoes. I o ened the door slowly and stuck my head out the door to see who might !e wandering around in the hall. I didn,t see or hear anyone so I started walking !ack down the way I came. (y room was at the end of the hall, so it was the only way I could go. I walked slowly from door to door listening trying to hear if anyone else was stirring. I reached the third set of doors,

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and -ust as I ut my ear to the door, it o ened suddenly. I -um ed in fear at the sudden movement of the door. .hen my nerves settled a s lit second later I reali$ed there was a young girl a!out my age standing there starring at me. ')ello, I,m Ava. 2ou must !e 8uke.+ '2yyyes.+ I re lied !arely a!le to s eak, artly from !eing rattled from the sudden a earance of her, and artly !ecause she was a!solutely !eautiful. Ava was nearly as tall as me with the most ama$ing, curly, flaming red hair. 8arge red curls framed her face erfectly. I stared at her in awe of her !eauty. '.ere you looking for some!ody*+ She asked with a smile. '9h, uh yeah I was looking forrr, I was looking for (att. )e,s my cousin.+ '.ell, last I heard he was going to !e in the room right across the hall from you,+ 'Th@thank you,+ I stuttered from com lete em!arrassment. I couldn,t remem!er a time in my life when I wasn,t a!le to s eak, or think, clearly. I !acked u a little as Ava came out the door and ulled it closed !ehind her. 'I,ll see you around, 8uke. It was nice to finally meet you. I have heard so much a!out you,+ she said as she headed down the hall toward the stairs.

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'It was nice meeting you too, Ava,+ I said, wondering what she had heard a!out me, and if she had any idea what my grandfather claimed I was. I also wondered if she might !e some kind of su ernatural !eing herself. I turned around and headed !ack toward the room Ava told me was (att,s. I knocked on the door and waited for him to answer. /o one came to the door so I slowly ushed it o en calling (att,s name 3uietly. It was com letely dark in the room. The curtains were made of very thick fa!ric, and !locked out the sun entirely. The only light entering the room was from the hallway now that the door was o en. I could -ust make out (att,s face in the !ed. I called his name again with no re ly. I looked for a light switch on the wall, !ut couldn,t find one in the dark. I o ened the door a little farther to shed more light as I ti toed toward (att. I reached his !ed and turned on the lam on the !edside ta!le. (att stirred a little when the light came on. )e sat u and looked around a little confused. '.hat time is it*+ 'It,s a little after seven. Are you feeling alright*+ I asked him in a whis ered voice. 'I have only !een aslee for a cou le hours dude. .hy are you waking me u so early*+ 'I was worried a!out you. 2ou looked like you were going to throw u the last time I saw you. Aack had to hel you

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u stairs rather 3uickly. #rand a told me what was ha you last night. I didn,t hear anything else after that.+

ening to

'8uke, I had a really long night. I would love to tell you all a!out it, !ut I am e5hausted and need to get some more slee .+ 'I understand. .hen you wake u I want all the details for sure.+ As I was talking to (att I took the time to glance around his room. I noticed it was almost identical to mine. (att,s luggage was iled in the corner of the room untouched. I didn,t figure he had time to mess with it with everything that went on last night. I sat down on the edge of his !ed. I could see that he had !ags under his eyes. )is hair was a com lete mess. 'Are you sure you,re alright (att*+ '2es; I am erfectly fine. I romise to tell you all a!out last night as soon as I wake u . "lease let me go !ack to slee now,+ (att said in an irritated tone. 'Bk, (att, I will leave you alone so you can rest. Come find me when you wake u so we can talk,+ I said as I stood u and walked over to turn off the lam . '9m hum,+ he mum!led as he rolled over facing the other side of the !ed. I walked !ack to the door and turned to look !ack at (att. I was dying to know what ha ened to him ed out the night !efore, !ut I knew he needed some slee . I ste

of the room and closed the door silently !ehind me. Aust as I ulled the door closed I heard someone walking down the hall. I turned to see who it was.

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'#ood morning 8uke,+ the lady from the revious night said as she came u the hall toward me. '#ood morning, uhE I didn,t catch your name last night,+ I said. '(y name is Adriana. I am your grandfathers, secretary. I see you found your cousin,s room,+ she said gesturing toward (att,s door. '2es ma,am. Ava told me where to find him. I -ust went in to check on him,+ I e5 lained. '2our grandfather is waiting in the dinning hall. )e re3uests you -oin him for !reakfast. "lease follow me,+ she said as she turned to walk !ack down the hall toward the stairs. I nodded my head in agreement, !ut she didn,t see it !ecause she was already walking away from me. I followed Adriana down the hall and down the stairs. .hen we got to the !ottom she turned and went thru a set of dou!le doors like the ones that entered into the #reat =oom. These doors had !een closed when we arrived at the mansion. /ow I could see that this was a hallway lined with windows looking out over the front lawn of the mansion. .e continued down the hall and entered the dinning room through an archway made of stone. The stones were the same as the ones that covered the e5terior of the mansion. As I entered the dinning hall I sto ed immediately to take in the gigantic room. The room had three massive dinning ta!les running down the center. The ta!les were made of a dark

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stained wood, and were a!solutely !eautiful. I could see my reflection in the shine of the ta!les. )uge crystal chandeliers hung in erfectly s aced intervals down the length of each ta!le. )igh !acked chairs with !lue velvet covered cushions surrounded all three ta!les. I couldn,t hel !ut wonder how many eo le lived with grand a in the mansion with seating for this many. I noticed #rand a sitting at a fourth ta!le ositioned at the head of the other ta!les. This ta!le was a!out half the si$e of the others. Chairs ran down one side of it facing the other three ta!les. The lace where grand a sat could hardly !e called a 'chair.+ This seat that held my grandfather could only !e descri!ed as a throne. It looked like something you see a king sitting in, in a castle with knights and dragons and all that stuff. .ow; I thought. #rand a must me retty im ortant to !e sitting in something like that. #rand a motioned for me to -oin him at the head ta!le. )e ointed to the chair ne5t to him indicating I should sit down. '1id you slee well, 8uke*+ #rand a asked. '>etter than ever, #rand a. That !ed is so comforta!le. It,s like slee ing on air. 'Bnly the !est for my ama$ing grandson,+ he said with a grin. I hadn,t really noticed last night, !ut now I reali$ed how much -oy and ha iness #rand a showed in his eyes when he s oke to me. I never saw #rand a this ha y when he visited us

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on the very few occasions in 1allas. I couldn,t hel !ut feel com letely welcome in his home. '.e have much to do today, 8uke. Think you,re ready for your life to !e changed forever*+ )e asked. 'As ready as I,ll ever !e,+ I said with a little hesitation. I had no clue what e5actly this could mean, !ut I com letely trusted #rand a not to let anything !ad ha en to me. 'Today you will meet =achel. She is the witch that made it ossi!le to !ring you into this world. .e are going to tour the training facility after !reakfast. Then it will !e time to discover what a!ilities you ossess.+ #rand a wasn,t going to waste any time finding out what my half@!reed status was in the su ernatural world. I suddenly !ecame 3uite nauseous as I thought a!out this. =achel, the witch, was going to remove the s ell she had cast nearly fourteen years ago. =emoving the s ell would unleash whatever vam ire a!ilities, or weaknesses, that I ossessed. I guess #rand a noticed the worried e5 ression on my face !ecause he told me not to worry. '.e are going to take this very slow. I romise we will not ut on you any more than you can handle. All you have to do is say the word and we will try a different route to accom lish the tasks we face,+ he said with warmth and reassurance in his voice. A!out that time I caught a glim se of two men out of the corner of my eye. They were coming thru the door to our right.

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7ach one carried a tray with a silver dome covering it. The two men were dressed in !lack ants and white long sleeve shirts with !lack vests and ties. I guessed they worked for #rand a here at the mansion. They !rought the trays over and sat one down in front of each of us !efore removing the covers. I could not !elieve the amount of food that was iled onto each tray. 7very ty e of !reakfast food you could imagine was there. There had to !e enough food for at least five eo le on each tray. There was no way I could eat all of this in one sitting. #rand a looked at me and smiled when he noticed the shock that registered on my face. I wasn,t the least !it shy as I !egan to dig right into the mass of food in front of me. I ate, and ate, and ate, and when I didn,t think I could eat another !ite I ate a little more. #rand a didn,t waste any time utting away his food. )e cleaned his entire tray in no time at all. I couldn,t imagine where he was utting all of itF he really isn,t that !ig of a man if you ask me. '1id you get enough, 8uke*+ )e asked as he wi ed his mouth with a cloth na kin, and laid it across his late. 'Bh, man did I ever. I don,t !elieve I could eat another !ite if I wanted to,+ I said with a !ig sigh. =ight on cue, as if #rand a had called them, the same two guys came out to carry away the trays. (an, these eo le were really on to of it. #rand a never had to say a word !efore some!ody showed u to take care of his every want and need.

%:

')ow a!out a little tour of the mansion*+ #rand a asked. 'That sounds great.+ 'Bk. 2ou have seen the great room, the dinning hall, and the !edroom suites u stairs. The kitchen is straight through those doors. The ones those two men -ust came in and out of. 2ou are welcome to go to the kitchen any time you lease if you are hungry. There will always !e someone on duty should you feel the need. 2ou are a growing !oy, and you must kee u your strength. If you will follow me, I,ll show you my office. .e left the dinning room and headed !ack down the long hall with the windows. .e assed thru the foyer in front of the #reat =oom. .e came to a single metal door in the wall o osite the dinning hall entrance. This door seemed out of lace !eing metal instead of the !eautiful wood I noticed in every other art of the house. There was no doorkno! on the door. I wondered how we were going to get in. /e5t to the door, hanging on the wall, was a small screen that looked much like a small com uter screen. #rand a ut his hand, with his alm facing forward, onto the screen. The screen immediately came to life. The screen lit u . A single !lue line started at the to and 3uickly went all the way to the !ottom. .hen the line got to the !ottom #rand a removed his hand. I saw I17/TIT2 CB/CI=(71 flash on the screen. /e5t the screen went !lank again. I could hear what sounded like gears turning, and the metal door slowly o ened.

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'8uke, I must tell you, very few eo le in this world have ever crossed through this door. Bne day you will !e a!le to enter this office all on your own,+ #rand a told me. '.hat is this, #rand a* And why is it locked down like this*+ I asked very confused. '8et me show you.+ .e walked through the door. The room we walked into looked like an office a C7B or a resident of a !ig com any might occu y. There was the usual, very e5 ensive looking, filing ca!inets and other office furniture. The only difference, I thought, was the numerous com uter screens sitting on the desk. I wondered why #rand a needed so many screens. .e walked through the office and entered a long, very ela!orate, hallway. The hallway had decorative car et, and !eautiful stained wood trim. )uge statues of knights with olished silver armor ran down the length of the hallway on the left. 1own the right side were life si$ed ortraits of men. I had no idea who the men could !e, !ut they all seemed to resem!le #rand a. )e !egan to e5 lain as though he knew what I was thinking. 'These ortraits are of revious ancestors who served here at this mansion, 8uke. The armor o osite each ortrait !elonged to the leader de icted in the aintings. .e call this 'The #reat Al ha )all.+ I didn,t know what all of this meant. I was too fascinated !y the suits of armor to ask any 3uestions. I looked at the ortraits as we slowly made our way down the hall. I felt as though #rand a had taken me to a museum.

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A!out half way down, on the right side of the hall, was a set of wooden doors. #rand a e5 lained as we assed that this was his suite. /o!ody in the mansion was allowed in unless they had his ermission. I didn,t ress this issue any further as we continued down the hall and through another door. .hen we entered this door I immediately could tell where we were in the mansion. The room was circular with no windows. I knew this was one of the towers I had seen from the outside. This room was !are e5ce t for an elevator in the middle of the floor. >eside the door to the elevator was another scan ad like the one #rand a used earlier. #rand a,s hand was scanned !y the !lue line. After his identity was confirmed the doors to the elevator o ened. '.here does this go, #rand a*+ I asked curiously. I hadn,t the slightest idea what my grandfather meant !y what he said ne5t. '8uke, this is the entrance to the Silent Soldiers, head3uarters.

&2

5
'The Silent Soldiers* .hat e5actly does that mean*+ .e walked into the elevator as #rand a !egan to e5 lain to me what the Silent Soldiers were a!out. 'The Silent Soldiers are an organi$ation of very gifted su ernatural !eings that we are utting together to fight evil. They will rotect the secret of the su ernatural community, and hide it from the human world.+ 'So you,re like the leader of an army, #rand a*+ 'I am only the leader of the 8ittle =ock ack. .e kee guard over these head3uarters. I am not the leader of the Silent Soldiers. That has yet to !e decided 8uke.+ .e were on the elevator for several seconds when it finally came to a sto . The doors !egan to o en slowly. I wasn,t sure what to e5 ect when they o ened. /othing could have re ared me for what I saw. .e entered into a room that had to have !een at least the si$e of the mansion. There was an area containing do$ens of television screens on one wall. A huge man in a !lack suit watched them from a desk with lots of other e3ui ment on it. I noticed the guard shack at the front gate on one of the screens. I came to the conclusion that these screens were for the surveillance cameras around the ro erty. The man stood and !owed toward #rand a when he noticed us coming off the elevator. #rand a nodded to him and the man resumed his task.

&3

I also noticed a num!er of different vehicles lining one wall of the room. There were motorcycles, cars, and many other ty es of vehicles. They were all solid !lack with the letters SS ainted on them. I assumed this was the Silent Soldiers logo. All of the vehicles looked as though they were com letely !rand new. The !lack aint shined !rightly under the fluorescent lights in the room. As we continued down the length of the room I noticed doors on either side. .e made our way to the end of the room and entered the last door. As we walked through the doorway I noticed lots of e3ui ment. I couldn,t imagine what it was or what ur ose it served. There was also a !ed in the middle of the floor that looked like a doctors office e5am ta!le. Sitting in the far corner of the room I saw Ava, the girl I had met earlier that morning. She was still as !eautiful as ever. I also noticed an older lady in the room. She was nearly as !eautiful as Ava. This lady had the same curly red hair as Ava, !ut hers was much longer. >oth of the girls were dressed retty much the same in !lack skirts and knee high !lack !oots. The only difference was the style and color of the shirts they were wearing. I immediately noticed their similarity. I came to my own conclusion that this must !e Avas, mother. 'This is =achel )adison, and her daughter Ava. =achel is the witch I was telling you a!out last night. She is the one that created the s ell for you to !e !orn.+ #rand a e5 lained. '2es, sir, and the one that su ressed my owers,+ I said with a little resentment. I ro!a!ly shouldn,t have said it the way

&%

I did. After all, it wasn,t her fault. =achel was only doing what my arents asked of her. 'It is a leasure to finally meet you, 8uke,+ said =achel with a sort of shy little smile, 'I am so very ha y you have finally come to -oin us. 2ou are a s itting image of your father.+ This was the first time anyone had referred to either of my arents as living. I really didn,t know how to res ond to what she said. 'So, !oth of you are witches*+ I asked not !eing a!le to think of anything else to say. '2es. I am a witch. Ava is a witch in training. She is turning out to ossi!ly !e even more owerful than me,+ =achel said very roudly. The room fell silent for a few seconds. .e all turned to #rand a to see what would come ne5t. '8uke, =achel is going to remove the s ell !inding your owers today. .e lan to run some tests to see what you are ca a!le of, and what vam ire weaknesses you may have. I don,t want you to worry. .e are only going to test the !are essentials. Dam ires have so many owers that it would !e 3uite im ossi!le for us to test them all. .e lan to do a little at a time, as much as you can handle, and re lace the s ell once were done. .e have to !e sure you can control your owers !efore you get to kee them ermanently,+ #rand a e5 lained, '1o you think you,re u for that*+

&&

'9h, I guess,+ I re lied. I was definitely more than a little nervous with all of this ha ening so fast. I was also nervous a!out Ava !eing here watching me if I screwed u . 'Bk, 8uke, are you familiar with any of the owers that vam ires ossess*+ =achel asked. 'A little !it. #rand a e5 lained some of it to me last night.+ 'Cirst, let,s get you to lie down on the ta!le. .e are going to a ly these restraints, mainly for our rotection, -ust in ing me in lace. As Ava case you can,t control yourself,+ =achel said. I clim!ed u on the ta!le. =achel and Ava !egan stra to my ear and whis ered. '7verything will !e fine, 8uke. Aust rela5 and let us take care of you. There is no reason to !e nervous. (y mother is very owerful. She will not let anything ha hel ed me rela5 a little. 'I,m ready.+ Cor the first time I noticed a huge entagram drawn around the !ed in the middle of the floor. The !ed I was lying on was located directly in the middle of it. I watched as Ava went to one of the little closets and !egan taking out a variety of different candles. She !egan lacing them around the entagram. I had only ever read stories a!out witches. .hat was ha ening in the room seemed to go along with some of those stories. /e5t Ava ulled out a very old leather !ound !ook en.+ )er soothing words finished the last stra around one of my wrists she leaned close

&0

and laid it on a odium that =achel !rought to the edge of the entagram. Ava turned the old !rittle ages very carefully looking for something that I assumed was the s ell they would use. =achel !egan to chant softly. All of a sudden the lights in the room went out. The candles !egan to light one !y one all !y them selves. This was a little weird for me witnessing magic right !efore my very eyes. I never knew it even e5isted u until the night !efore. /ow that all the candles were lit I saw =achel walk over to the !ook on the odium as #rand a and Ava moved into the corner of the room. It seemed to me as if they were ready to run out the door at the first sign of trou!le. =achel !egan reading from the !ook. )er chanting slowly increased in volume and intensity as she read. The flames of the candles grew much larger. I started to feel my !ody rela5ing. A feeling of warmth started in my feet and moved slowly u the length of my !ody. I had never e5 erienced anything close to the feeling I now encountered. I closed my eyes and en-oyed the e5hilarating feeling of warmth throughout every inch of my !ody. I suddenly heard everyone gas . This immediately !rought me !ack to reality. I o ened my eyes to notice that the candles had gone out, and the lights were !ack on. I looked around at everyone starring at me. '1id it work*+ I asked.

&4

'.ell, see for yourself, 8uke,+ #rand a said as he slowly walked over to my side with a small mirror. I looked in the mirror and could !arely !elieve what I was seeing. (y face seemed to !e aler than normal. (y skin was silky smooth, and com letely free of any !lemishes what so ever. I also noticed that my canine teeth had somewhat elongated coming to a shar oint. It was nothing like the movies, with the long fangs that were shar as needles. >ut, it was definitely very noticea!le that I had fangs. I a!solutely could not !elieve it. I had fangs; ')ow do you feel*+ #rand a asked. 'I feel fine. I really don,t feel any different than !efore.+ 'So, you don,t feel the urge to -um u and !ite one of us do you*+ Ava asked as a nervous giggle esca ed from her throat. 'Bf course not. .hy would I want to !ite any!ody*+ '.ell, we were afraid when the s ell was removed, and your vam ire instincts kicked in, you would have the uncontrolla!le urge to feed,+ =achel e5 lained. '(an, I ate so much for !reakfast I don,t think I could eat again for weeks,+ I said laughing. 'That is a very good sign,+ #rand a said with a smile. '.e are going to remove the restraints now, 8uke,+ =achel said with some hesitation. '2ou,re sure you feel alright*+ Ava asked. 'I feel fine, guys. I told you I don,t feel any different than !efore.+ =achel and Ava !egan to remove the stra s while

&6

they watched for some sort of reaction out of me. I started to yell !oo !ut I thought !etter of it with a owerful witch that could do who knows what to me in a s lit second if she thought there was to !e danger. After they removed the stra s they hel ed me u off of the ta!le. '.ell, that went well,+ I said, '.hat,s ne5t, #rand a*+ '.e need to test your strength and s eed, 8uke.+ '8et,s do it;+ I e5claimed. I had to admit. I did feel !etter than ever. I wasn,t nervous or scared anymore, and I was a little e5cited a!out what I could do. I didn,t feel any stronger or faster than I had when I woke u that morning, !ut we would see. I followed them out of the little room !ack into the main area of 'head3uarters,+ as #rand a called it. .e walked out to the middle of the floor and looked to the far end of the room. 'I want you to run down as fast as you can. Sto when you get to that wall at the end,+ #rand a e5 lained. 'Sure,+ I said. I got down into osition, as though I was a track star a!out to run the hundred meter dash, and re ared to take off. '#o;+ #rand a yelled. >efore I knew what ha reali$ing that in the !link of an eye I was on the o ened I was standing face first against a wall. I turned around slowly osite end of the room from where I started. I was s eechless and e5hilarated all at the same time. I took off again and an instant later I was standing in front of #rand a !ack at the other end of the room.

&:

'.B.;+ #rand a said with great e5citement, 'I have never in all my years seen anyone or anything move as fast as you, 8uke.+ '=eally* Is that good or !ad*+ 'That,s ama$ing, son. =eady to move on*+ #rand a asked. 'A!solutely; I can,t wait to see what else I can do after that,+ I followed them again into another door across the room from the little s ell room. This room was 3uite a !it !igger with a much taller ceiling. It was stocked full of every different iece of e5ercise e3ui ment you could think of. .e walked into the center of the room ne5t to a set of weights that were lying on the floor. I noticed immediately that it was full of hundred ound weightsF five of them were arranged on each end of the !ar. '2ou do reali$e that,s a thousand ounds right* There is no way humanly ossi!le for me to lift that,+ I said. '2ou,re ro!a!ly right, 8uke. >ut you have to remem!er we aren,t really dealing with the human ossi!ility,+ =achel said with a little laugh. 'Bh, right,+ I said kind of em!arrassed. I walked over to stand in front of the !ar and motioned for everyone to !ack u in case something went wrong. And something definitely was a!out to go wrong. I !ent over and laced my hands around the !ar. I ositioned myself to lift the weights like the rofessional lifters I watched in weightlifting com etitions. I !raced myself and lifted

0<

with all my strength. That was when the trou!le started. I lifted the weights so fast that when it reached the end of my arms length it sli ed out of my hands and went flying u in the air. It crashed through the ceiling a!ove me. I immediately ducked for cover. 2ou know what goes u must come down. That,s -ust what the thousand ounds of weight did. It crashed into the floor with such force that it cracked the concrete floor on im act. 'A!solutely incredi!le,+ #rand a said in shocked dis!elief. '2ou are stronger and faster than we ever could have imagined,+ said =achel. 'Sorry a!out the floorEand the ceiling,+ I told #rand a. '1on,t worry a!out it, 8uke, it can !e re aired,+ he said with a smile. 'Shall we move on*+ Ava asked. 'Bnly if 8uke is u to it,+ said =achel. '>ring it on;+ I said. /e5t we headed !ack to the s ell room. =achel asked me to clim! !ack u on the !ed. I watched as she went to the closet and took out several small !o5es and !rought them over. She sat them down on a small work ta!le close to the !ed. '.e need to test your weaknesses now, 8uke. I have to tell you that some of this might not !e very comforta!le. Some of it might in fact !e ainful,+ =achel e5 lained. '.e don,t know if your !ody will react to these things the same way as a normal vam ire,+ #rand a said.

01

'I,m ready. This has to !e done so we might as well get it over with,+ =achel o ened the first !o5 and ulled out a little vial that contained an off white, milky looking su!stance. 'This is garlic, 8uke. As you may or may not know vam ires are allergic to garlic. It will in fact !urn their skin,+ she e5 lained. She roceeded to o en the vial and di a long swa! into the fluid. She !rought the swa! close to the !ack of my hand very slowly. Seeing that I wasn,t having any strange reaction she ru!!ed a small a!out of it on my hand. To everyone,s ama$ement, nothing ha ened. '9n!elieva!le,+ she said. /e5t she tried holy water and silver. (uch to our a!solute astonishment and dis!elief, I had a!solutely no reaction to any of it. 'This is outstanding;+ #rand a e5claimed. 'I can,t !elieve he doesn,t have any allergies to any of the things normal vam ires react to,+ said Ava. ')e is definitely, !y far, not a normal vam ire !y any means. 7ven testing all of these things want tell us what his weaknesses could !e. And, when he comes into his shifting owers, those weaknesses could change all together,+ said #rand a. 'That is very true. .e are only testing the things we know vam ires have reactions to. .ith 8uke,s genetic make u he could very well react to something that doesn,t effect other vam ires. )is strengths are much the same way. Dam ires have many other owers than the ones we are testing for. 8uke could

02

also have owers that normal vam ires don,t. Cor now, that leaves one test to !e erformed,+ e5 lained =achel. 'And what e5actly would that !e*+ I asked nervously. 'Sunlight,+ they all said in unison. The day had !een very roductive so far. The s ell !inding my owers had !een removed. I had su er s eed and strength, even com ared to other vam ires, and I had no reaction to any of the things that normally effect other vam ires. The only other thing I had to worry a!out was whether or not I would !e a!le to go out into the sun. 'Are you ready for the final test, 8uke*+ #rand a asked. 'A!solutely. 8et,s get this show on the road.+ I got u from the e5am ta!le and followed them yet again out into the main room. This time instead of going into one of the other doors, we went !ack to the elevator. #rand a scanned us in, and we all got in together. #rand a took a chain from around his neck containing a key. )e ut the key into the slot on the elevator,s control anel and turned it. The elevator !egan going down again. A second later the doors o ened and we ste ed out into another smaller room. This room was com letely em ty in the floor area. I noticed !arred doors along two of the walls that looked much like rison cells. The other wall contained regular solid doors. '.hat is this lace*+ I asked. 'This is the holding area. Sometimes we must detain su ernatural creatures until they can have a fair trial !efore the

03

elders,+ #rand a e5 lained. I followed them to one of the solid doors. =achel o ened it for us to go in. This room was em ty e5ce t for huge light !ul!s covering the walls. Another e5am ta!le was located in the center of the room. There was a door into what a door. 'These !ul!s are used to simulate the sun. .e can turn them on and off from the control room. This will let us know if you are effected !y sunlight,+ #rand a e5 lained. They told me to lie down on the !ed, as they roceeded to go into the control room. 'Aust rela5, 8uke,+ I heard #rand a say thru a little s eaker. '.e want let anything ha en to you. There is going to !e a flash of very !right light. It will only !e a flash. "rolonged e5 osure to this light could cause you to !urst into flames if you are not a!le to withstand the sun. .e definitely don,t want you to !urn,+ =achel e5 lained. 'I,m ready,+ I said. In the ne5t second I reali$ed two things. /um!er oneF there was a huge !linding flash of light. /um!er twoF I had the most im ortant vam ire a!ilities, and none of their weaknesses; eared to !e an office. This area contained a control anel that I could see thru the o!servation window !eside the

0%

6
After the sunlight test we went !ack into the main room of head3uarters. #rand a told us we should sit down and discuss a few things a!out what we had learned that day. .e followed him into another of the rooms that was located around the main room. This room turned out to !e a large conference room with a huge ta!le. #rand a motioned for us to sit down while he !egan to ace nervously !ack and forth thinking a!out what he should say to us. '.hat we have learned today, a!out 8uke, is this. 8uke o!viously has the su er a!ilities of the vam ire, while at the same time seems to have none of their weaknesses that we know of. This is very interesting. .e haven,t heard of a single !eing ever having the ower that 8uke ossesses. .e can definitely see now why they would want to ca ture him and !ring him over to evil,+ #rand a said. '.hat do you mean*+ I asked very confused. '8uke, this is the reason your arents ut you in your uncles care all these years, and why they themselves went into hiding. The ower you ossess could greatly !e used for evil, and your arents didn,t want that for you,+ =achel e5 lained. /ow I !egan to reali$e a little more a!out why my arents did what they had when I was !orn. A arently they knew at my !irth, somehow, that I would !e very owerful. ')ow e5actly would they or anyone else know what I would !ecome when I was -ust a !a!y*+ I asked. #rand a and

0&

=achel looked at each other for a minute like they really wanted to tell me something, !ut weren,t sure if they should. After a eriod of silence and 3uestioning stares =achel !egan to e5 lain what they were talking a!out. '8uke, long !efore you were !orn there was a owerful shifter with the gift of ro hecy. This shifter foretold of a child that would !e !orn of two races. She said this child would grow into great ower that could save all races from the evil that has lagued the world for centuries. .e didn,t find out a!out this ro hecy until after your !irth. .hen word !egan to s read throughout the vam ire and shifter communities of you !eing !orn of !oth races this ro hesying shifter came to your arents and told them a!out the ro hecy. /ot long after, there were a series of attacks against your arents in attem ts to kidna you and take you to the underworld to !e raised for evil. The !eings that came against your arents were sent !y a very dark wi$ard that had control over the underworld. )is name was /hados.+ '2ou say was. Is heEdead now*+ I asked. '.e don,t know for sure if he is dead, 8uke. 2our arents and =achel fought a great !attle against /hados. =achel cast a very owerful s ell that !anished him from the earth realm. /o one has seen any sign of him since that dreadful night,+ #rand a e5 lained. '.e !elieve the s ell has in fact ke t /hados at !ay this long. .e do not know if it will hold him forever. .e do know however that /hados has many followers to do his !idding. .e

00

!elieve he will send them for you if he ever finds out where you are. .e also !elieve he has !een attem ting to track you for the ast thirteen years,+ =achel said. I suddenly reali$ed that my arents really did send me away to rotect me. I had lots of anger inside for what they did, !ut I did understand the reasoning !ehind it. I longed to !e the normal kid I thought I was !ack in 1allas with my uncle and cousin. I knew that was all a thing of the ast, and there was no turning !ack now. '.e have one other issue at hand, 8uke,+ #rand a said. 'And what would that !e, #rand a*+ I asked. 'Tomorrow you turn fourteen, and it is the full moon. .e don,t yet know a!out the shifter half of your genetics. .e think we have learned most of your vam ire half. /ow we must overcome your shifter side as well. .e are going to rea ly the s ell that !inds your owers until after you change the first time. .e do not know what to e5 ect with the change, much like we didn,t know a!out your vam ire owers. .e need to learn more a!out all of your owers !efore you can have them ermanently. .e still do not know a!out your vam ire hunger and whether or not you must feed on !lood, or if you can eat normal human food.+ '.ell I can tell you I really could go for a cheese!urger and fries right now. I have really worked u an a said with a little laugh. etite today,+ I

04

'So, you are actually craving human food instead of wanting !lood*+ Ava asked. '.ell, yeah, I don,t want !lood. The thought of drinking it definitely makes me 8BBS7 my a etite. #=BSS;+ I said. 'That is wonderful news, 8uke,+ #rand a said very ha ily, 'It will !e great to find out you can survive on normal '.e must not let anyone outside the four of us know a!out our findings here today. If word of 8uke,s ower reaches the outside world he could !e in great danger,+ #rand a said. 'Bk, so we all agree on this. /o!ody can find out a!out me. 9nless we are down here alone, we need to have the s ell in lace. I can live with that if it will ossi!ly save my life,+ I said. =achel rea lied the s ell to su ress my owers and we decided to kee all of this to ourselves. I couldn,t wait to talk to (att a!out all of this. There was no way I was going to kee this from him. #rand a said after the change we would remove the s ell for testing and training for a while until we had more time to figure everything out. .e headed for the elevator, and more im ortantly the dinning hall. I was starving; >ack in the foyer I arted ways with #rand a and =achel. Ava decided to tag along and gra! a !ite to eat with me in the dinning hall. #rand a told me he would see me again later, and that Ava would ro!a!ly have lots to tell me a!out what went on around the mansion. Ava and I reached the dinning hall and I grew very e5cited to see (att at one of the ta!les. )e was food and not !lood.+

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shoveling in a monster si$ed amount of food, like I had that morning, like it might run away from him. (att and I had always had good a etites, !ut I don,t think I had ever seen him ut away food like he was now. ')ey, (att, glad you decided to -oin the land of the living man,+ I said as we a roached the ta!le where he was sitting !y himself. )e was the only one eating in the dinning hall and I wondered why they needed all of these ta!les if no!ody ever used them. '.ho,s your friend, 8uke*+ (att asked. 'She,s hot;+ he e5claimed as I took the seat ne5t to him. 'I,m sorry, (att, this is Ava, Ava, this is (att,+ I said. Ava and her mother are witches. They live here at the mansion,+ I said. '2eah, my mom and I live here. She works and I go to school here,+ she e5 lained. 'They have a school here*+ (att and I asked at the same time. '2eah it,s not like a regular schoolF it,s for all the su ernatural kids whose arents work here. .e learn to use our owers a little, and learn all a!out the different su ernatural creatures that e5ist. .e also do normal education stuff too, !ut mostly it,s su ernatural.+ Ava went on to e5 lain that everyone who worked at the mansion lived here, and that all of their children attended classes. She said there were a!out fifteen kids all together.

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'(ost every!ody goes away for the summer, !ut with the full moon !eing tomorrow night a lot of the shifters will !e !ack some time tomorrow.+ ')ow long have you lived here*+ I asked. 'I have lived here all my life. (y mom moved here after your arents went into hiding. She knew she was regnant with me, and didn,t want anything to ha ever since,+ she said. 'That,s cool,+ I said not really knowing what else to say a!out it. Ava asked what I wanted to eat and left for the kitchen to lace our order. I took the o second. '1ude you will never !elieve what ha said. '(an, after what ha ened to me last night, I would ro!a!ly !elieve -ust a!out anything,+ (att said. 'I wonder when your dad will get here. )ave you heard from him*+ 'I haven,t heard anything yet, !ut we should talk to #rand a and see if he knows. I can,t wait until he gets here and we can run together,+ (att told me looking and sounding totally e5cited. '.hat do you think a!out Ava*+ I asked kind of shyly. (att let out a little laugh and said, ened today,+ I ortunity to talk to (att for a en to us if someone found out she had created the s ell for your arents. .e have !een here

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'I told you she was hot. 2ou like her don,t you*+ (att asked. 'I -ust met her today while I was looking for your room. She told me where you were. (an, we have so much to catch u on. 8et,s go u to my room after we eat and talk. I,m sure Ava can tell us a little more a!out what the heck is going on here,+ I said -ust as we noticed Ava coming out of the kitchen. Bur lunch arrived shortly after Ava came !ack to the ta!le, and we ate retty much in silence. .e all had a lot on our minds, and I couldn,t wait to get u stairs and talk a!out things with my cousin and my new friend. '8et,s go !ack to my room,+ I said. 'Bk,+ (att and Ava said together. .e got !ack to my room and the first thing I noticed was that my !ed had !een made erfectly, and all of my dirty clothes and towels had !een carried away. Someone had left a small stack of !ooks lying on my !edside ta!le. I motioned that they should have a seat around the fire lace. It was way too hot for a fire to !e going !eing that it was summer and all. I walked over to the !edside ta!le and icked u the !ooks. I noticed they were the si$e of regular te5t !ooks we used in school. The !ook covers readF Dam ires 1<1, Sha e Shifters 1<1, and .itchcraft 1<1. The more I looked at them the more I reali$ed that,s e5actly what these were. I carried the !ooks !ack over to my friends and sat in one of the em ty arm chairs.

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'.hat are these, Ava* And what do you think they are for*+ 'Bh, man, looks like they have you signed u for summer school -ust like me.+ Ava told me. 'Are you freaking kidding me*+ I asked '1ude, I ho e they don,t have me in summer school,+ (att said with a little nervous giggle. '.hy don,t you run to your room and see if they left you any !ooks. Then you will know for sure.+ .e waited for (att to run to his room to check. .hile he was gone I looked through the Dam ire 1<1 !ook. A cou le minutes later (att !urst through the door with a look of utter shock lastered on his face and the same three !ooks under his arm. '8ooks like we will all !e in the same classes for the summer,+ Ava said very e5cited. '(an this sucks. I thought we were only going to !e here for a cou le weeks for vacation. I didn,t think we were staying the whole summer to go to school;+ (att e5claimed a little hysterically. 'Calm down a little !it !ro. I,m sure there is a logical e5 lanation for all of this,+ I said. (att took his seat and I was ready to get down to !usiness. 'Bk, let,s catch u on everything that has ha everything that ha ened since we arrived at the (ansion,+ I said. I started telling (att ened yesterday evening after we arrived, u

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to the oint of hearing the wolf howl and falling aslee . /e5t it was his turn. '.ell, I wasn,t feeling very good so I went to my room and crawled in !ed for a few minutes. It wasn,t long !efore #rand a came in and e5 lained what was ha ening. )e told me I was a!out to change into a wolf. Can you !elieve it* .ell I couldn,t !elieve it either and laughed at him. )e was serious, man. )e told me to watch as he changed into a wolf right there ne5t to my !ed. I didn,t know whether to scream for hel or run like hell. Anyway, he immediately changed !ack to his normal self and told me I needed to come with him. >y this time it felt as though my !ones were turning to li3uid or something. .e !arely made it out to the !ack garden !efore I started to change, and oh my, it was e5hilarating,+ (att e5 lained. '.hat ha ened ne5t*+ I asked e5citedly. '.ell, I don,t remem!er a whole lot after that other than running su er fast alongside two other wolves. Bne I recogni$ed as #rand a from his change in my room. The other was a much smaller wolf with a light !rown coat. 'That must have !een Adriana. She is your #rand as, secretary, and second in command until your dad gets !ack, (att,+ Ava said. '.hat do you mean until my dad gets !ack*+ (att asked. I could see the confusion on his face, !ut it all !egan to make com lete sense to me. I !egan to tell (att what I was thinking.

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'#rand a is the leader of the ack here in 7erie.+ 'Actually, he is the leader of the whole 8ittle =ock ack,+ Ava cut in. I continued. I told them that (att,s father, who was #rand as, oldest child, was second in command under #rand a. '=emem!er all of those times over the years that your dad left for long '!usiness tri s*+ I asked. '2eah, he left us in the care of that hot !a!ysitter, >ecca,+ (att said starting to understand what I was getting at. 'That,s right, and I !et if we looked u all the dates that he was gone, most of them would !e during full moons,+ I said. '(an, that e5 lains so much,+ (att said. '2ou guys never knew any of this*+ Ava asked. '.e had no idea. 9ncle Charles never told us anything,+ I said. '(att, your dad has !een at the mansion for every ack meeting that I know of. I have seen him for most of the full moon runs as well,+ Ava roclaimed. /e5t it was my turn to talk. I started telling (att all a!out the underground head3uarters. I told him a!out the locked down entrance, and all the cool stuff that was down there. I started to tell him what all had ha to me that day when Ava suddenly sto ed me. ened

'8uke, your #rand a told us not to tell any!ody what went on down there today,+ Ava reminded me. 'I have to tell (att. )e is my cousin, and my !est friend. .e never kee secrets from each other,+ I told her.

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'Bk. >ut I,m not getting in trou!le for running my mouth, so, you,re on your own with this one. So, I continued with my story. I told him all a!out me !eing art vam ire and art shifter. I also told him a!out the s ell that had !een laced to su ress my owers all these years. I went on to e5 lain every detail a!out what I went through with the s ell !eing removed, and all the tests. Then I told him a!out having the s ell rea lied, and #rand a telling us not to tell anyone and why. (att stared at me the whole time with shock and dis!elief lastered on his face. 'They think I fill some kind of ro hecy of a savior that will aide in ridding the lanet of evil,+ I said laughing. (att !egan laughing with me and we were !oth laughing so hard we fell out of our chairs rolling on the floor. '2ou shouldn,t !e taking this lightly,+ Ava said with great authority in her voice, '2ou are destined to !e the great leader of the Silent Soldiers. 2ou are the whole reason the Silent Soldiers was esta!lished in the first lace.+ (att and I !oth sto ed laughing while Ava talked, and now we sat on the floor staring at her in shock.

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'.hat are you talking a!out*+ I asked Ava. '2our #rand a didn,t tell you the whole story a!out the ro hecy and the Silent Soldiers. I ro!a!ly shouldn,t even !e telling you myself, !ut I think it,s im ortant that you know what you,re getting into. 2our arents told your #rand a a!out the ro hecy and what they were told. After you went into hiding with your uncle, and your arents fled to 7uro e, he !egan re arations here at the mansion for your return. I was too young to remem!er the construction that took lace here at the mansion, !ut my mother has told me stories for as long as I can remem!er. She told me stories a!out what the mansion looked like !efore. And, she told me all a!out the creation of the Silent Soldiers head3uarters. She has also told me for years and years a!out you, and that one day you would return here to lead the soldiers against evil.+ 'So, you,re saying all of this is for me* It can,t !e, I,m -ust a kid,+ I said. '2ou may !e -ust a kid, !ut you could grow into the most owerful !eing any of us has ever seen.+ '(an, that is su er cool, 8uke,+ said (att. I sat there staring at the em ty fire lace, not a!le to s eak, with a million thoughts ouring through my head. All of this information was flooding me so fast over the ast cou le days that I wasn,t sure I could take anymore. (y family turned out to !e su ernatural creatures. I, myself, was a mi5ture of these creatures with

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unheard of a!ilities, and I was destined to lead a grou of soldiers that my #rand a created into !attle against evil. .as I leaving anything out* Bh, yeah, I had to go to school all summer. I asked that (att and Ava let me have some time alone to think a!out all of this. They agreed, and headed for the door. I looked over at the stack of !ooks on the floor !eside me and suddenly reali$ed how e5hausted I was from everything that was going on. As the door closed !ehind my two visitors I stood and walked over to the !ed and clim!ed in. I fell aslee with tears streaming down my face. Aust as I do$ed off, the dream started again. The dream was retty much the same as !efore, only this time I noticed much more detail a!out my surroundings. Cor one, I noticed in the distance through the woods I could -ust make out the mansion with all of its security lights. Another thing I noticed was the great rock wall that surrounded #rand as, ro erty. I suddenly reali$ed that I had in fact !een dreaming a!out !eing on this ro erty !efore I even knew it e5isted. /e5t came the glowing yellow eyes. I couldn,t e5 lain it !ut somehow, now that I had learned so much, I sort of knew that the eyes surrounding me were there for my rotection. I felt com letely comforta!le even hearing the sudden, !one chilling, wolf howl so close to me. That,s when the ne5t difference came into effect. Instead of the huge !lack cat running after me I heard a voice that saidG

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'Come to me, my son, and take your lace at my side where you !elong,+ the voice s oke with a very heavy accent that I couldn,t 3uite ut my finger on. I looked to the to of the wall in the direction of the voice and immediately !ecame fro$en in lace. Towering over me was a huge figure of a man dressed in a !lack hooded cloak. The cloak covered his entire !ody, arms and hands included. The only thing I could see was his glowing red eyes. The same cat like eyes I had seen in my last dream. '.ho are you*+ I asked, !arely a!le to s eak. 'I !elieve you know who I am, my son,+ said the cloaked figure. I really did feel that this was the guy #rand a told me a!out. .hat was his name again* /hados, I thought silently to myself. 'Come to me,+ the voice re eated. 'I will never come to you, /hados. I will never stand at your side. I will never !e evil,+ I said with as much confidence as I could ossi!ly generate. 'It will !e such a waste to have to kill a young !eing with so much ower,+ the voice !oomed. 'Aust try it, and see what ha ens, /hados,+ I yelled, not com letely reali$ing what I was saying until it was out of my mouth. I could tell that the cloaked figure !ecame furious !y the sudden flare of his glowing red eyes. In one swift movement /hados lea t into the air. Bn his way to the ground, he transformed into the terrifying !lack cat. This was the same

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!lack cat that had attacked me in my last dream. This time I didn,t turn to run. I, instead, stared straight into the cats, eyes. I could see in my eri heral vision that wolves all around me were getting closer as they !egan to circle around the cat and I. There was a sudden flash of ur le light. I closed my eyes instantly from the !linding ower of it. Aust as I got them closed I heard the chilling sound of the cat as it !egan to scream. I couldn,t tell from the sound if it was from anger or ain. I ho ed that it was ain as I shot u out of my !ed wide awake. 'Bk, that was -ust freaky,+ I said out loud. /o!ody was there to hear me. I checked my hone and reali$ed it was late in the afternoon. It was a little after five. I thought that may!e 9ncle Charles would !e here !y now. I slowly walked out of my room and across the hall to (att,s door. I knocked a cou le times with no answer. I headed down the hall to Ava,s room. /o!ody came to the door at her room either so I decided to go downstairs to look for them. As I reached the !ottom of the stairs, Adriana came out of the great room. She told me, 'Aust the man I was coming to see. 2our #rand a will see you in here.+ She o ened the door and motioned for me to go in. She smiled at me sort of strangely as I assed her into the room. )er look and smile frightened me a little. It wasn,t the kind, warming, smile she had given me the night !efore. I couldn,t e5 lain it !ut she gave me the feeling she knew something she wasn,t a!out to tell me. I !rushed it off and went on into the room.

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'#lad you could -oin us,+ #rand a said. I looked immediately toward his voice and noticed that he wasn,t alone like I had ho ed. Ava and her mom sat on the couch ne5t to (att. I had made u my mind to tell #rand a a!out my dream in ho es that he could shed some light on what it might mean. I wasn,t a!out to talk in front of any!ody else. ')ello 8uke. #rand a says we are moving here to the mansion ermanently,+ (att said a little more e5citedly than I would have e5 ected with this news. I thought (att would !e a little sad a!out having to leave all of his friends !ack home, !ut a ha arently he was ha y a!out this idea. I, on the other hand, felt y at the thought of not returning to 1allas. The only real ier I was in fact. (y !est

friend I had !ack home was (att, and he would !e here with me. The more I thought a!out it the ha friend was here with me, and I got to !e with #rand a full time. I was definitely ok with living at the mansion. 'That is correct, 8uke. 2ou, (att, and Charles will !e living here at the mansion while you are in training,+ #rand a e5 lained. /ow that I had learned more a!out what was going on here I was 3uite an5ious to !egin this 'training.+ 'That sounds great,+ I said. '"lease -oin us,+ #rand a said motioning for me to come take a seat. I reali$ed (att had caught me off guard. I was still standing across the room from them. I made my way across the

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e5 anse of the 'great+ room. I took a seat in the other em ty chair. 'I hear you went against my wishes, 8uke. I have to admit it angers me a little that you diso!eyed me. I do, however, understand you needed someone you knew to talk to a!out what you are going through,+ #rand a said with much sym athy in his voice. '(att will !e a great com anion for you as you take on this im ortant task of learning to control your owers,+ said #rand a. 'So what have y,all !een talking a!out*+ I asked curiously. '.e were going to !ring (att u to s eed on everything we learned today, !ut as it turns out he already knew the whole story and then some,+ #rand a said as he looked over toward Ava. '2es, sir, I told him all a!out it. Ava also told us more a!out the Silent Soldiers,+ I said e5 ecting #rand a might !ecome angry with her. 'She has told me a!out your little chat. I can,t say that I !lame her for filling you in on more of the story. )ow do you feel a!out all that you have learned*+ #rand a asked. '.ell, to tell you the truth, it sort of scares me a little. >ut, at the same time I feel a lot of e5citement a!out the things to come. I can,t wait to learn more a!out my owers, and I,m curious to learn more a!out the su ernatural world,+ I e5 lained.

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'I take it you found the te5ts that I left in your rooms*+ #rand a asked as he looked from me to (att. '2es, we got them,+ (att said !efore I could answer myself. #rand a went on to e5 lain that (att and I were starting late in our education, and that was the reason for summer school. )e also told us that Ava was lanning to retake the courses with us so she could hel !ring us u to s eed over the ne5t few months. I was starting to like Ava even more the more we got to know each other. She could !e en-oying her summer, !ut she chose to hel us instead. I was gaining a lot of res ect for this girl I had -ust met. 'Tomorrow is Sunday. It is also the full moon. .e will see what the day !rings us. (onday, you will !egin your classes, and your training,+ #rand a told us. The room fell silent after that and I assumed this little meeting was over. I asked #rand a, 'Can I s eak to you alone*+ 'Bf course, 8uke,+ #rand a said as everyone immediately !egan to stand. .hen everyone was nearly out of the room (att sto ed and looked !ack at me and said, 'Come find me when you,re done here, man.+ 'Bk, sure,+ I re lied. #rand a motioned for me to sit on the end of the couch closest to him. I didn,t know e5actly where to !egin or how to e5 lain my dreams to #rand a, so I -ust dove right in. '.hat,s on your mind, 8uke*+ #rand a asked.

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'.ell, #rand a, I,ve !een having these dreams for several weeks. They have !een retty much the same the whole time, that is, until today.+ '"lease, tell me all a!out them,+ he said. I !egan !y telling him a!out the first dreams with -ust the valley and the wolves. /e5t, I told him a!out the addition of the !lack cat in the dream I had yesterday on the lane. I could see my grandfather had !ecome 3uite nervous !y this time. )e !egan to change ositions in his chair and lean in a little closer toward me. 8ast, I told him every detail and every word a!out this last dream that I had today. I even told him a!out the change in the feelings I had toward the wolves. )e gave a little nod as if he understood. After I finished telling him all a!out the dreams we sat in silence for a few minutes. I could tell #rand a was dee in thought. I gave him a cou le more minutes to think a!out what I had told him. .hen I couldn,t wait any longer I asked him, 'The dreams are a!out /hados, aren,t they*+ 'I !elieve so, 8uke, !ut I am 3uite confused. I can,t 3uite understand why /hados himself would risk coming to the mansion. I told you !efore that nothing could hurt you here, and that is the truth. There are many !arriers that =achel has set u around the erimeter of this ro erty. /othing that I know of can !reak through those !arriers. The only ossi!le way that the !arriers could !e !roken is if someone informed /hados a!out the e5act s ells and charms that were in lace,+ #rand a e5 lained.

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'That would mean someone working or living inside the mansion would !e informing him directly, right*+ I asked. 'That is correct. >ut I find it very hard to !elieve that someone would risk their life in this way. >etraying the ack is unisha!le only !y death,+ said #rand a, with anger rising u in his voice. '(ay!e this isn,t true, #rand a. (ay!e there is some other e5 lanation that we are overlooking., '(ay!e I,m -ust cra$y and all of these dreams are from the stress I have !een through.+ '2ou may !e right, 8uke, or may!e there is a much !etter e5 lanation. I think you may !e gaining a ower that we didn,t antici ate. I am !eginning to think you could ossi!ly have inherited your grandmothers, gift of ro hecy,+ he said with much des air in his voice. I felt a chill run down my !ack as the ieces all !egan to fit together. I had never once heard anyone s eak of my grandmother. I guess it never occurred to me to ask a!out my grandfathers, wife. Suddenly, I reali$ed that she must have !een the one that fore told my !irth and my rise to ower over evil. '8uke, I must ask that you tell me the details of the dreams that you have from now on. .e must not overlook the ossi!ility of this !eing visions, and we have to discuss what they could mean,+ #rand a said. '(y grandmother*+ I asked, still hung u on the idea of her.

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'2es, your grandmother was a very gifted woman. She was, of course, a shifter. >ut, she was also so much more. 2our grandmother, 7leanor, also ossessed the gift of ro hecy. She is the one that fore told of your !irth, and then came to your arents after you were !orn. 2our grandma was an e5traordinary woman, and I miss her greatly. '.here is she* .hat ha ened to her*+ I asked. '7leanor couldn,t live under the laws of the ack. She didn,t understand the reasoning !ehind some of the rules we live !y. I want go into detail a!out these rules and laws, !ut know that she was easily ersuaded !y /hados to -oin him. She left us to !e at his side and use her owers for evil instead of good. 'I don,t know what to say, #rand a.+ 'There,s not really anything to say a!out it. She made her choice, no matter how devastating it was for us, and left us forever. The only time she has !een seen since was when she came to your arents after your !irth. She told them you had great ower, and that you would in fact grow to defeat evil. The only thing I never understood was why she came to them with this news instead of doing /hados, !idding, and try to take you to him. That definitely has ulled at my mind all these long years,+ #rand a said. I could tell that talking a!out her caused him much ain. I decided not to ask any more 3uestions a!out her for now.

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.e sat in silence for 3uite some time. >oth of us had a lot to think a!out with this new revelation. I didn,t really think it could !e true, !ut #rand a was determined that I had a new ower no!ody ever imagined I would have. I didn,t know what to think a!out ro hecy. I never !elieved in fortune telling, !ut then again, I never !elieved in vam ires and werewolves either and look where we were now. I couldn,t hel !ut think there was more to my grandmothers, de arture from her hus!ands, side. I didn,t want to !elieve that she had in fact a!andoned him and my arents. I also wondered if she was still alive, and whether or not I would ever find out what really ha ened. I stored this information in the vault that is my head. The vault, that seemed to !e filling u more 3uickly than I felt comforta!le with. A!out that time Adriana entered the room and informed us with a little hostility in her tone that, '(r. .illiamson has arrived.+ I could see the ha iness re lace the des air on #rand as, face as he rose to his feet. 'Tell Charles to -oin us lease, Adriana,+ #rand a said. '2es sir,+ she said with much less enthusiasm than should have !een used when talking to her leader. I thought for a second a!out what could !e her ro!lem, !ut again, added it to the vault to onder over later as 9ncle Charles entered the great room with a huge smile on his face. 9ncle Charles made 3uickly the distance across the room and hugged #rand a. /e5t he came over to me and ulled

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me to my feet and gave me the same sort of e5hilarating hug that he had -ust given his dad. I knew for sure that my uncle was over-oyed a!out finally !eing a!le to 'come home.+ I couldn,t !egin to imagine what it would feel like if I could have the o ortunity to reunite with my own dad. '.here,s (att*+ (y uncle asked right away. ')e is ro!a!ly in the dinning hall feeding his face again if I know my cousin at all,+ I said laughing. 'That,s my !oy,+ 9ncle Charles said with a !ig grin. Suddenly I reali$ed that I was retty hungry myself and suggested that we go find him and let him know his dad was here. .e all stood, and made our way to the dinning hall. #rand a and 9ncle Charles walked ahead of me a little ways dee in conversation. I followed them trying to arrange all of the thoughts that seemed to !e filling my head very ra idly. .e arrived in the dinning hall and I immediately noticed that (att and Ava were in fact having dinner. It was getting closer to dark, and I wondered if (att had to change again tonight or if it could wait until the full moon. I was sur rised I hadn,t thought to ask him that earlier. '1ad;+ (att yelled. ')ey son. I heard you had 3uite a night,+ said (att,s dad. '2ou could say that,+ said (att. 'I am so glad you are finally here, 1ad.+ 'It,s great to !e home, (att,+ said my uncle. '8ooking forward to another e5citing night*+ #rand a asked.

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.ell, I guess I had my answer to the changing 3uestion. I was a little disa ointed that I was to !e left alone again y for (att. )e would have the time tonight, !ut I was also ha

of his life tonight !eing a!le to change and run with his father. I did feel a little de ressed that I couldn,t change and run with them, !ut may!e I would have my chance soon. All of a sudden a very eculiar feeling came over me. I felt like I might even faint. Suddenly my sight went !lack and the all too familiar dream came into focus. This dream started e5actly the same as the one !efore, only this time, instead of closing my eyes with the flash of ur le light I was a!le to see what e5actly was going on around me. I reali$ed that the ur le light was actually a glowing ur le s here that circled me and a tiny little erson standing right !eside me. The closer I looked at the little man I !egan to reali$e I had seen him !efore. .ait, this was the little man that had met (att and me at the air ort. '.hat are you doing here (r. =ath!urn*+ I asked. '/ot now, 8uke, there will !e lenty of time for e5 lanations later. =ight now I have to rotect you,+ he e5 lained. I suddenly remem!ered where we were and the sha e we were in. .e were surrounded !y wolves that continued to circle closer and closer. The huge cat was standing -ust outside the ur le s here that (r. =ath!urn was roducing from one of his tiny hands he had raised in the air. I wasn,t 3uite sure what he was or what he was doing, !ut I soon reali$ed that he was saving me from the cat. The cat !egan to scream the dreaded sound

66

from the revious dream. )e also e5tended his claws and reared on his !ack feet and !egan to slash at the s here trying to !reak through. /hados 3uickly reali$ed he wasn,t going to accom lish his desired task. .ith one final scream, and a very swift movement he lea t !ack into the air, transforming !ack into the cloaked figure, and flew out of sight over the stone wall. After this I suddenly came to, and reali$ed I was !ack in the dinning hall. I was lying on the floor looking u at everyone staring down at me. '.hat -ust ha ened*+ I asked. '1id you have another dream, 8uke*+ #rand a asked. 'As a matter of fact I did. )ow on earth could I have a dream while I was wide awake*+ I asked. '.ell, I think you have -ust confirmed that you have in fact inherited your grandmothers, gift of ro hecy,+ #rand a e5 lained. 7veryone looked around at each other not knowing what to say or what to think a!out what they had -ust witnessed. '2ou must tell me what you saw straight away,+ #rand a said rather an5iously. '.ell it was e5actly the same as !efore, e5ce t for one thing. Instead of the ur le light !linding me, I could see what was ha ening this time. Aackson =ath!urn, the little man that icked us u at the air ort yesterday, was there. )e was generating some sort of shield around us that ke t the cat from getting to us. The cat slashed and screamed !ut could not get in. The cat gave u and -um ed

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!ack over the wall. That,s when I woke u ,+ I descri!ed in as much detail as I could. 'Is he talking a!out who I think he is*+ 9ncle Charles asked. 'I !elieve so,+ said #rand a. I could see the look of fear cover the faces of the three adults. Curiosity took over Ava and (att. '9h, a little hel would !e nice,+ I said and stuck my hands u in the air. (att came to the rescue and ulled me u to my feet. I sat down at one of the huge ta!les to try and collect my thoughts a!out what -ust ha ened. This was all getting weirder !y the minute. (att and Ava made sure I was ok while the three adults were in a heated discussion. I guessed #rand a was telling them a little !it a!out my new 'gift.+ '2ou must not go outside the mansion alone, 8uke,+ #rand a told me with enough authority to scare me a little. 'If it is true that you have the gift of ro hecy, you must not leave the mansion under any circumstances. If your visions are correct, it can only mean that /hados has in fact returned to the earth realm. It also means that he has found a way around the rotection !arriers that =achel has in lace,+ 9ncle Charles e5 lained. 'That,s not ossi!le,+ said =achel. '.ell, the only way it could ha en is if there is in fact a traitor among us. 8uke and I discussed this earlier. Someone living or working inside the mansion must !e res onsi!le. .e will find out who is giving /hados information,+ #rand a said with a vicious growl esca ing from dee in his chest. 'I can not wait to get my hands

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on whoever it is that is !etraying the ack. I will find great leasure in ri ing them to ieces,+ said my uncle with the same sort of growl that grand a had -ust dis layed. 'So, what do we do now*+ I asked. '.e must carry on normally. /o!ody can know a!out your visions, 8uke. .e must kee this !etween the si5 of us in this room if we are to ca ture the traitor !efore they esca e. .e must all kee our eyes eeled for anything sus icious going on here for the ne5t few days. I !elieve that sooner or later the traitor will !ecome known to us,+ #rand a said. .e all agreed to kee 3uiet, and kee a watch out for the traitor. #rand a said he had urgent !usiness to attend and headed out of the dinning hall. 9ncle Charles told us he and (att had to go. They had im ortant things to see to. I knew they were chom ing at the !it to get outside, now that it was dark, so they could go off on their run. I hollered at (att to come to my room as soon as he woke u in the morning as they ran out of the dinning room. I heard him shout, 'ok,+ as they ran down the hall together. That left =achel and Ava there with me. .e sat in silence for a few minutes not really knowing what to say to each other. I e5cused myself and headed to the kitchen where I asked the staff to fi5 me a little something to eat. I didn,t care what it was as long as it was food. They agreed and told me they would !ring it to me as soon as it was ready. I asked that they !ring it to my room instead and they nodded their acce tance. I gra!!ed

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a cou le of sodas to take with me and added a mental note to check the fridge in my room to see if there was anything in it. I headed !ack through the dinning hall and said good night to =achel and Ava. =achel returned the good night and left for the hall leading out of the dinning hall. Ava asked a little shyly if I was interested in having a little com any for the rest of the evening. I told her that would !e great as we headed for the e5it doors. .e walked in silence !ack u to my room. I told Ava I was going to take a 3uick shower while I waited on my food to arrive. She nodded and headed to the sitting area. I gra!!ed a change of clothes and headed for the !athroom. I took as 3uick a shower as my !ody would allow so I wouldn,t leave Ava waiting alone for very long. She was osted u on the couch with one of the te5ts #rand a had left for me when I e5ited the !athroom. '.hat are you reading*+ I asked as I made my way over to where she was sitting. 'Aust reading a little a!out Dam ires,+ she said as her face !lushed a little. 'Are you sure you want to waste your summer trying to tutor a !unch of losers like (att and me*+ I asked with a smile. '2ou are definitely not a loser,+ she said as she got u and walked over to stand in front of me. I could feel the heat !egin to rise in my face as I noticed her slowly inching her way toward me. I had never !een this close to a girl, and had no idea what I was doing in that de artment. I decided to go for gold. I started leaning closer to her and slid my hands around her waist to ull her to me. Aust as

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our li s were a!out to touch there was a knock at the door. Talk a!out !ad timing. .e !oth -um ed and moved away from each other very 3uickly. I regained some of my com osure and headed to the door as someone knocked again. I o ened the door and the kitchen worker !rought in a tray and laced it on the little !ar in the kitchen area. Ava and I !oth said 'thank you+ at the same time a little em!arrassed. )e gave a little !ow and headed out of the room closing the door !ehind him. I offered Ava one of the sodas and we !oth sat down at the !ar. .e didn,t talk a lot while I ate, and we definitely didn,t talk a!out what -ust ha ened. After we ate Ava thanked me for letting her -oin me, and much to my sur rise !ent over and gave me a 3uick kiss on the cheek. That was the closest I had ever !een to actually !eing kissed !y a girl. It sent a chill down my entire !ody. Ava said a 3uick good night and left the room -ust as 3uickly. I ho ed really soon we might have the o ortunity to finish what we started !efore we were interru ted. I covered the tray and clim!ed in !ed. Cor once, in the ast two days, I didn,t have a million thoughts running through my head. I only thought of one thing as I drifted off to slee , and that was all a!out the !eautiful Ava.

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9
I woke u the ne5t morning reali$ing I didn,t have a single dream all night, which was a good thing. I remem!ered I wanted to check the fridge to see if there was anything in it. (uch to my sur rise, it was full of sodas. There were also some of the essentials like milk, lunch meat, cheese, and stuff for sandwiches. I decided to e5 lore the ca!inets and found cereal, !read, and tons of snacks. I thought to myself I had died and gone to heaven. This was every teenage !oys dream to have a room full of sodas and snacks. I found dishes in some of the other ca!inets and fi5ed myself a !owl of cereal. .hen I finished my !reakfast I !rushed my teeth and got dressed for the day. I decided to read through some of the te5t !ooks I would !e using for summer school. I still had not warmed u to the idea of having to go to school all summer. At least I wouldn,t !e taking the !oring stuff like math and science. It made me feel a lot !etter a!out the whole idea. I settled on Dam ires 1<1. I made myself comforta!le in the !ig armchair ne5t to the fire lace. I o ened the !ook to cha ter one, titled, vam ires in history. This cha ter told all a!out the origin of vam ires, and a!out some of the most famous ones throughout history. It even told 3uite a !it a!out '1racula.+ I thought 1racula was a fictional character in movies. I scanned through the rest of the !ook and noticed cha ters on different Dam ire a!ilities. There

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were also some on weaknesses as well. I was sur rised when I reali$e I already knew some of the things in the !ook. Bne cha ter in articular that caught my interest was the cha ter on 'Turning.+ This cha ter I studied a little more closely. It didn,t go into a lot of detail a!out how to turn someone into a vam ire. It more or less told the details a!out turning them in general. I laid the !ook aside and icked u the Sha e Shifter te5t and !egan looking through it. I learned that true, full !looded shifters could change at will, !ut they normally only changed into one form. The form they were a!le to change into de ended on the genetics of their arents. /ormally whatever the arents, shifter form is determines what the child would change into. As I was scanning the rest of the !ook there was a knock at the door. I got u to answer it. It turned out to !e (att. ')ey (att, you finally decide to get u *+ I asked with a laugh. '(an these long nights are killing me,+ he said with a grin. '#ra! a soda from the fridge and come have a seat. I have -ust !een looking through the te5t !ooks #rand a left us. Turns out the classes might actually !e retty interesting. '(an I am starving. 2ou want to go down to the dinning hall*+ (att asked. '/ah, I ate some cereal a little while ago. .hy don,t you order something u from the kitchen*+ I asked.

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'/o way; 2ou can do that*+ (att asked. '2eah man, Ava and I had dinner u here last night after you and your dad left,+ I said !efore I thought a!out what I was saying. 'Awww, 8uke,s got a girlfriend,+ (att said in his most teasing of voices. '/o, 8uke does not have a girl friend,+ I re lied with a smile. I could feel the heat rise in my face and knew I was !lushing. '1on,t !e em!arrassed a!out having a little date with Ava !ecause she is fine, man, with a ca ital C.+. 'Shut u , (att, she is not the reason I asked you to come to my room this morning,+ I said wanting to change the su!-ect. There was no way I was going to talk to (att a!out us almost kissing. I would never hear the end of it. 'S eaking of hot girls, have you !een down stairs this morning*+ (att asked as he wagged his eye!rows u and down. '/o, haven,t left my room since I got u ,+ I said. '1ude, there is a !londe down there that is a!solutely to die for.+ 'So I take it everyone is already starting to arrive for the full moon run tonight. That,s art of the reason I wanted to talk to you. I,m really nervous a!out tonight. 2ou know I,m art shifter myself. #rand a seems to think that I will change tonight. '(an, I am so sorry, I forgot to tell you )a >irthday;+ y

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'Thanks,+ I re lied, 'So, I don,t really know what to e5 ect. I mean you told me all a!out your change, !ut I,m worried a!out changing myself !ecause of my 'other+ condition,+ I said. 'I really don,t think there is anything to worry a!out, 8uke. I mean the change itself is ama$ing. And there will !e lots of other shifters here to take care of you if something should go wrong, right*+ '2ou,re ro!a!ly right. (ay!e I,m -ust getting worked u over nothing. I -ust can,t sto thinking a!out this dream, or vision, or whatever it is that I kee having. The vision always ha ens at night, and I,m always surrounded !y wolves. .hat if the vision comes true tonight while every!ody is here*+ I asked nervously. 'I know you,re really worried a!out this, 8uke, !ut wouldn,t it !e !etter for everyone to !e here to hel * Br would you rather it ha en when you,re com letely alone*+ 'I guess you,re right a!out that. I would much rather !e surrounded !y eo le that could hel me. I hate to admit it, !ut it scares me a little,+ I confessed. 'I can,t say that I !lame you there, 8uke. I would !e terrified to know something was out there waiting on the chance to ounce on me. Aust know that I am here for you all the way, man,+

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'Thanks. That means a lot, (att.+ Aust then someone knocked at the door and (att !olted for it. I heard (att o en it and let out a sigh. '8uke, it,s -ust your girlfriend,+ (att yelled. 'Shut u , man, I told you I don,t have a girlfriend. I turned red with em!arrassment as Ava walked in the door. '.hy is he looking at me like he wants to eat me*+ Ava asked as she sort of sli ed farther away from (att with a worried look on her face. ')e thought you were his !reakfast,+ I laughed. 'Bh,+ she said. I asked Ava if she would like something to drink and got a cou le sodas from the fridge. She said she already had !reakfast. (att,s !reakfast came and he was in the rocess of shoveling it down like he was in a race. (att sat at the !ar eating while Ava and I sat around the fire lace. 'So what do you guys have lanned for the day*+ Ava asked. '/othing in articular that I know of, unless #rand a has something lanned for us,+ I said. '(om has the day off today, so I really don,t think you will do any training today,+ Ava e5 lained. 'So what is there to do around here*+ I asked. '.ell, we could go for a swim if y,all are u to it,+ she said. 'That sounds like fun,+ I said.

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'2eah that sounds great;+ (att yelled from the !ar, his mouth overflowing with food. 'I guess it,s settled then, let,s do it,+ Ava said e5citedly. '.ait, I haven,t seen a ool anywhere,+ I said. '8uke, there are so many things you haven,t seen. Aust !ecause you haven,t seen it, definitely does not mean it,s not here,+ she said with a little giggle and a smile. 'Bk, as soon as (att gets done inhaling his food we will get ready. .hy don,t you ut on your swim suit and meet us !ack here when you,re done*+ I suggested. 'Sounds great. It,s ten o,clock now. .e have to meet in the great room at three, so that gives us enough time to swim and gra! a late lunch !efore we have to !e there,+ Ava said. '.ho are we meeting in the great room*+ I asked. 'Bh, I forgot to tell you. 2our #rand a said to find you and let you know we all needed to meet him at three to go over the schedule for tomorrow. I guess he is going to let us know what our class schedule will !e like so we will not !e late in the morning. 'Bh, I see,+ I said. At that Ava left the room to get ready. I told (att to hurry u . /ot that he wasn,t already shoveling the food in as fast as he could. I left (att to finish his food and gra!!ed my swimming trunks and a t@shirt from one of my drawers. I headed to the !athroom to change. I heard (att yell that he was going to change and would !e !ack in a second. I heard the door o en and close as he left. I went into the closet

::

and ut on a air of fli flo s. As I finished and got !ack out into the !edroom there was a knock at the door. I yelled for them to come in. It was Ava. Ava had on a white !athro!e and fli flo s and carried a little !each !ag at her side. I was ro!a!ly -ust imagining it, !ut I was thinking that Ava got rettier every time I saw her. The white ro!e really made her curly red hair stand out. I couldn,t hel !ut stare at her. She noticed I was staring and !efore I knew it she had thrown her !ag down and was walking my way. She walked right u to me, and as I !ent down to kiss her, someone knocked on the door. '.ho is it*+ I yelled very agitated. This was the second time someone interru ted us. .ould we ever get to actually kiss* I thought to myself. 'It,s (att, duh,+ he called through the door. '.e,re coming,+ I said as we walked toward the door together. I o ened the door and Ava walked out. I started out after her and -ust as the door closed I remem!ered, 'I don,t have a towel, hang on a second,+ I said. '1on,t worry, 8uke, they have towels at the ool,+ Ava said. 'Bk, cool,+ I re lied. Ava led the way, and we !oth followed her. She headed down the stairs and into the great room. In the great room she went straight across and through the dou!le doors at the o osite end of the room. .hen we were through the doors I reali$ed we were in a huge room with a glass

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wall down the entire length of it. The glass wall overlooked a !eautiful flower garden. In the center of this room was a swimming ool like none I had ever seen. It was huge. It had diving !oards at different levels on one end. It also had an awesome water slide that I could not wait to try out. Ava showed us the linen closet and the changing rooms and we were ready to swim. (att took off and -um ed into the ool s lashing water everywhere. Ava headed to the diving !oards, and I headed to the slide. As I reached the to of the slide I looked over to watch Ava. She was on the tallest diving !oard. She !ounced a cou le times and -um ed. She turned several fli s on the way down and hit the water in a erfect dive. She !arely distur!ed the water as she cut through it like a hot knife through !utter. I stared wide eyed in shock a!out what I had -ust witnessed. I slid down the slide and swam over to where she was !y the ladder closest to the glass wall. '.ow, that was a!solutely ama$ing, Ava,+ I said. '2ou think so*+ She asked a little shyly, 'I have !een racticing for years here at the mansion. I love to dive, !ut I have never thought I was really any good at it,+ she said. '2ou are definitely good at it. I have never seen anyone dive like that,+ I said. Aust then I ha ened to look out into the garden, and there stood Adriana. She was talking on her cell hone with a look of ure terror on her face. She didn,t talk very much, !ut I could see fear written all over her face.

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'Something is definitely weird a!out that woman. I can,t ut my finger on it, !ut something seems off a!out her. I wish one of us could turn into a !unny, or a !ird, so we could listen to what she is saying,+ I said. .hile we were talking and looking out at Adriana in the garden, (att swam over ne5t to us. '1ude, I romise you definitely do not want to !e a !unny with all these wolves running around. 2ou would for sure end u !eing a !ite si$e snack,+ (att said laughing. '2ou know she teaches the Sha e Shifter class right*+ Ava asked. '/o, I didn,t know that,+ I re lied. '2eah, and she was second in command until your dad returned, (att,+ Ava said. 'She came to announce his arrival last night to #rand a while we were talking. She seemed retty angry that 9ncle Charles was here,+ I told them. 'I figure she is not too ha said. 'I don,t trust her,+ I said. '(e either. She gives me the cree s,+ (att added. .e dro ed the su!-ect of Adriana and went !ack to our swim. (att wanted to race me across the ool, so I agreed. Ava counted to three and told us to go and the race was on. Bf course (att was already finished !y the time I got half way across the ool. '/o fair,+ I said as I reached the other side ne5t to him. y a!out !eing demoted like this, !ut she has known all along that she was -ust a fill in,+ Ava

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')ow do you figure*+ he asked with a !ig smile. '2ou -ust wait until I get to use my owers. I,ll !e across this ool !efore you even get kicked off the starting line, (r. wolf strength,+ I said and laughed. 'Bh, yeah, I forgot a!out that,+ he said knowing I was right. .e swam for a while. A few other eo le came and went. Ava suggested we go !ack u to our rooms and call u some lunch. (att and I agreed with her. .e all went to our se arate rooms to change into dry clothes for the meeting with #rand a. They !oth came to my room after they were finished and we had lunch together. >y the time we all finished eatingF it was time to head to the great room. .e took a seat at the large ta!le in the great room and waited. A few minutes later a girl a!out our age came into the room. I saw (att,s -aw dro when she came in the door. This girl had really short !londe hair. She wore a short !lack skirt with a green frilly !louse and !lack high heeled !oots. She definitely looked ama$ing. I reached over and ushed (att,s mouth closed as she walked over to the ta!le to -oin us. (att gave me a shar look when he saw that I noticed his reaction. ')i, I,m Aenna,+ she said as she e5tended a hand to (att. (att shook her hand very enthusiastically, !ut -ust stared at her, una!le to s eak. 'This is (att, and 8uke,+ Ava introduced us, 'and I,m Ava,+ she said.

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'It,s very nice to meet you,+ she directed toward the three of us. 'I haven,t seen you around here !efore,+ said Ava. 'I -ust moved here from (ichigan, to live with my dad,+ she e5 lained. '(y dad is 1ante, 1ante Sanderson.+ 'Bh, that,s right, he told me a!out you. I didn,t know you were moving here. )e didn,t tell me that,+ Ava said. '.ell, it was sort of a last minute decision. I lived in (ichigan with my mom. She was recently killed in a ack war !ack home. I had no other choice !ut to come live with my dad. )e is my only other living relative,+ she e5 lained as if it was common to lose a arent this way. I could tell Aenna was on the verge of crying as she told us a!out her mom. She hung her head looking very sad. '.ell, you are lucky to have a dad as great as 1ante,+ Ava re lied trying to change the su!-ect. 'So are you guys waiting on the class meeting*+ Asked Aenna. '2es, #rand a should !e here any minute,+ I said. 'So, you must !e the 8uke I have heard so much a!out,+ said Aenna. 'That would !e me,+ I said sort of em!arrassed. .e all turned as the doors suddenly o ened and in walked Adriana. She never even acknowledged we were in the room. She walked over to the end of the ta!le and laid a stack of a ers down that she

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had !een carrying. She turned and walked toward the o end of the room. She turned at the last minute and said,

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'Bh, (r. Carrington says y,all should -oin him in the dinning hall when you,re done here,+ she said as she turned around and walked out. '(an, what is her freaking ro!lem*+ Aenna asked. '75actly what I want to find out,+ I said. 'I think you,re right, 8uke, something is definitely u with her,+ said Ava, She is acting totally strange since, well, since you arrived as a matter of fact, 8uke,+ she added. 'Bh, great, I wonder what I could have done to iss her off. .e haven,t even started class yet, and the teacher is already mad at me a!out something.+ 'This is our schedules for the summer,+ said Aenna. She had walked over and icked u the a ers Adriana left on the ta!le. She handed one to each of us. '8et,s go see what #rand a wants,+ I said. .e all looked over the schedules and noticed we had Dam ires 1<1 starting at noon the ne5t day. '.ow, school doesn,t start until noon*+ I asked shocked. '2eah, they can,t start early !ecause all the shifters are out running most of the night, es ecially during certain arts of the month,+ Ava e5 lained. Bh, man, I so loved the idea of this school so much !etter than the one !ack home. .e don,t have to

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get u early, and on to of that, the classes seemed like they might !e interesting. .e made our way out of the great room and down the hall toward the dinning room. I noticed as we got a!out half way down the hall that the dinning hall doors were closed. Ava o ened the doors and everyone followed her in. I was the last one through the doors. .hen I ste ed through the doors I noticed the dinning hall was fairly crowded with eo le. 7veryone yelled 'S9="=IS7+ all at the same time. I was s eechless. I had never had a sur rise arty !efore. (y !irthday arties always consisted of (att, 9ncle Charles, and a few of (att,s friends from school. I was in com lete shock as I looked around and saw all the decorations and the huge !irthday cake with everyone smiling at me. I didn,t think I much liked !eing the center of attention. That,s when it ha ened. I felt the familiar fainting feeling coming on and my sight went !lack. I woke u with eo le staring down at me. I was lying on the floor on my !ack again. I noticed one of the faces looking at me was #rand a and all I could say to him was, ')e,s coming;+

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'7veryone lease !ack u and give him some room,+ I heard #rand a say as he moved around to hel me off the floor. #rand a sat me down in the closest chair so I could some what gain my com osure !efore he asked me what I saw. I didn,t know e5actly how to tell him a!out my vision. 'It was the same vision as !efore, !ut this time as he -um ed over the wall he yelled, 'I,m coming for you,+ I said. '2ou,re safe here at the mansion, 8uke, I ho e you can !elieve that,+ said #rand a. '>ut, what if someone is working on the inside like we talked a!out !efore* .hat if someone is feeding him information that could allow him to !reak through the !arriers to get me*+ The crowd in the dinning hall !egan e5changing worried looks, and everyone !egan whis ering to each other. I saw that many of them !egan to get angry e5 ressions as the news of a ossi!le traitor amongst them !egan to make its way around the room. 'I,m scared, #rand a,+ I whis ered so only he could hear me. I didn,t want everyone in the room to think I was weak, !ut I truly was terrified at the thought of /hados taking me away. 'I know your afraid of him, son, !ut don,t let him use your fear against you. 2ou have to stay strong and !elieve in your owers. 2ou have to !elieve that everyone around you will

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fight to the death, if that,s what it takes, to rotect you,+ #rand a told me. It,s really hard to !elieve in my owers since the ones I know a!out are !locked !y a s ell, and some of them haven,t yet surfaced. I noticed that I had !egun to sweat 3uite a !it, and felt very di$$y. I told #rand a that I wasn,t feeling well and asked if I may !e e5cused to go to my room and lay down. )e asked 9ncle Charles and (att to hel me to my room as he !egan to calm the crowd in the dinning hall. As (att and his dad each took one of my arms and hel ed me toward the hall I heard #rand a tell everyone else in the room, 'It,s nearly his time.+ I couldn,t imagine what he meant !y that. I was really too di$$y and sick at my stomach to ay close attention to it. The noise from the dinning hall was drowned away as we headed u the stairs to my room. 9ncle Charles hel ed me into my !ed. I asked him, '.ould you lease stay here with me*+ 'Bf course, 8uke, I,m not going anywhere. '.hat did grand a mean when he said it,s nearly his time*+ I asked once I was a!le to clear my head a little from the di$$iness. '.ell, 8uke, he means that you are going to change soon,+ he re lied. ')ow does he know that*+ I asked. '2our closest relatives can feel the change coming. 2ou are also dis laying all the warning signs that it will ha en

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soon,+ he e5 lained. (att had made his way around the !ed and sat down. I could see a very e5cited e5 ression on his face as he took in what his dad was saying to me. 'That,s great news. 2ou will get to run with us tonight,+ (att said. '2ou are ro!a!ly right, (att,+ 9ncle Charles said, '2ou should try and get a little rest. It,s still a cou le hours !efore the moon will rise,+ he continued. I watched as he motioned for (att to follow and they !oth went to sit around the fire lace to give me a little rivacy. I didn,t think with everything going on that I would !e a!le to slee , !ut it didn,t take long for me to drift off. I woke u startled !ecause 9ncle Charles was shaking me. '.hat are you doing* .hat,s wrong*+ I asked in an irritated voice. '8uke, you howled in your slee and I think we need to get outside !efore you change,+ my uncle told me. >ut it was too late. (y !ody suddenly !egan to shake uncontrolla!ly, and I felt my !ones !egin to move and change sha e. In a matter of seconds I reali$ed I was standing on four legs on the floor looking u at 9ncle Charles and (att. Their eyes were !oth !igger than I thought was ossi!le. Their ga$e was fi5ed on me. Bk, I thought. .hy were they staring at me like I had three heads or something* I know (att is new to this, !ut had they not witnessed someone change into a wolf !efore*

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Suddenly my !ody !egan to shake again and I was standing u right again. '.hat -ust ha to wra around it all. '2ou changed;+ (att yelled. '.ell I figured that much genius,+ I said a little irritated at (att for stating the o!vious. 'I know I changed, !ut why were you two looking at me like I had e5tra heads or something*+ I asked them. '.ell, you didn,t have any e5tra heads,+ 9ncle Charles said like he was afraid to tell me the rest of what he was thinking. 'So, what was it*+ I asked wishing they would -ust s it it out. '.ell, to !e erfectly honest with you, we have never seen a white wolf !efore,+ 9ncle Charles said. 'A what*+ I asked. '1ude, you changed into a wolf, !ut you were solid white,+ said (att. '.hat does that mean* Are all wolves the same color*+ I asked. '/o, wolves are different shades of !lack, !rown, and gray, usually,+ 9ncle Charles said, 'I have never seen one that was white,+ he continued. ened*+ I asked as I tried to get my !rain

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'.e have to go tell #rand a,+ said (att. Aust then I could feel the heat start to rise and my !ody !egan to shake. I was again in wolf form looking u at them. '.e can,t go down there like that,+ (att said giggling. The ne5t minute I changed !ack to normal, and 9ncle Charles said, '8et,s go.+ .e were out the door running down the hall in no time. .e were down the stairs and running toward the dinning hall. Aust as we !urst through the doors, and everyone was staring at us trying to figure out what was ha ening, I changed again right in front of every!ody. I heard the gas s, and saw the shocked e5 ressions go around the room as I looked u at them in wolf form. '.e should have ke t him in the hall and !rought #rand a out, huh*+ (att whis ered to his dad. 'I guess so,+ said 9ncle Charles. A few seconds later as everyone continued to stare and whis er to each other a!out me, I changed !ack to my normal self. 'If everyone would lease go out and re are for our full moon run, we will -oin you in a few minutes,+ #rand a addressed the crowd. Slowly everyone !egan to move toward the hall as we ste assed me. ed aside. 7veryone continued to stare at me as they went !y, like I would change and !ite their leg off as they

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.hen everyone had made their way out of the dinning hall, #rand a turned around with a huge smile on his face and looked at me. )e said, '8uke, I want you to know that you have -ust confirmed the ro hecy that your grandmother fore told 1% years ago.+ I had changed !ack to human form while #rand a was talking. ')ow e5actly did I do that*+ I asked not knowing what he was talking a!out. The only thing I did was change into a wolf, and we already figured that would ha en anyway. '2our grandmother told not only of the warrior !orn of two su ernatural races. She also told that the form this warrior would take was, in fact, a magnificent white wolf,+ #rand a said with much e5citement and ha iness in his voice. 'Bh,+ I said. It was kind of dum! for me to -ust say, oh, !ut that is all I could really make come out of my mouth. 9ntil that moment I guess I didn,t really !elieve the ro hecy was talking a!out me at all. I didn,t know what to say. '2ou are truly a magnificent !oy, 8uke, and everyone here tonight has witnessed the ro hecy come to ass,+ #rand a said. '.hy do I kee s ontaneously changing !ack and forth*+ I asked. 'Same thing ha ened to me,+ (att said. 'It,s erfectly normal,+ #rand a said, HThis s oradic changing will soon ass.+ I !egan to hear howls coming from outside the mansion.

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'.e need to go outside and re are for the run,+ said #rand a. 'This is going to !e so awesome,+ (att whis ered so only I could hear him. #rand a turned and headed out of the dinning room. .e then went into the great room and out the doors on the other side into the ool room. A few eo le were lingering here, !ut most of the crowd had e5ited out into the garden area that we saw through the glass wall earlier that evening. .e continued to follow #rand a out into the garden and wondered where we were headed. .e headed out of the garden and across the lawn. I noticed we !egan to head u a hill that stood out in the light of the moon. Aust as we reached closer to the to #rand a sto ed and motioned for me to continue on to the to of the hill. I slowly walked u the rest of the way alone and into the !rilliant light of the full moon. I suddenly felt the change coming again. In seconds I was standing in full wolf form. As if I had no control over myself I lifted my head and let out an ama$ing howl at the moon. “Luke, my son.” I heard my grandfather say and looked around for him, 'I am right here in front of you, Luke.” I heard #rand a again and reali$ed he was the wolf standing in front of me. )ow in the heck is he talking to me* I thought to my self. I ke t trying to talk !ack to him !ut all that would come out were little yi s and !arks.

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'Don’t try to use your voice, Luke, use your thoughts.” I heard (att say. 'Matt, what in the heck is going on?” I thought. “We can’t speak in wo f form. We communicate with our min!s,” said (att. “"ea y?” I asked. “#es, Luke, this is how we communicate. $re you getting the hang of it now?” #rand a asked. “I think so,” I re lied, “It soun!s %ust ike you guys are ta king to me &ut it’s insi!e my hea!.” I reali$ed there were wolves all around me farther down the hill. They were all down on their stomachs with their heads lying on their front aws. “What are they !oing?” I asked nervously. “'hey know you are the one, Luke, the one that fi s the prophecy. 'hey are &owing to you,” #rand a e5 lained. “(ut I’m !efinite y no ea!er,” I said. “#ou are to them, Luke, we have &een waiting for you for many years,” said #rand a. I felt my head rise again as I let out another magnificent howl. 7veryone around me -oined in with their own howls. I could get used to this, I thought. In wolf form I felt im ortant, and strong, and owerful. I had never !efore felt any of those things. I looked at #rand a and wondered what was ne5t. #rand a must have known what I was thinking !ecause he let out a series of yi s toward the rest of the wolves and they all !olted in different directions to !egin their full moon run.

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I noticed for the first time that while #rand a, 9ncle Charles, and (att were all very dark colored wolves, #rand a in articular was a dark gray color. 9ncle Charles, on the other hand was dark gray, !ut nearly to the oint of !eing more !lack than he was gray. (att was com letely !lack, and was nearly half the si$e of his dad. “$re you rea!y for your first run as a mem&er of the pack, Luke?” I heard grand a ask. “)eck yeah* I mean, #es sir,” I corrected my self very e5citedly. I saw (att -um into the air. )e landed on my !ack causing us to roll across the ground a few feet in a !all of fur. “Let’s go, man*” (att said with a laugh. (att took off running. I was close !ehind very easily kee ing u with him. .e were running at full s eed into the darkness of the woods. As we ran I could hear (att say, “Let’s go hunting. I &et we cou ! catch something if we work together. 'he a!u ts say it takes a ot of patience an! practice, &ut I think we can !o it,” (att said with great enthusiasm. “+oun!s goo! to me, what !o you want to hunt?” I asked. (att suddenly sto the !ack of him. I sto ed running and I nearly lowed into ed myself -ust in time.

“,ut your nose to the groun! an! try to pick up the scent of an anima . -nce we fin! the scent we can start tracking it,” (att said. I saw (att ut his nose close to the ground and start moving around. I did what (att was doing and started

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walking around smelling of the ground. It only took a second to ick u the smell of something, !ut I couldn,t ever remem!er smelling anything like it !efore. “)ey, Matt, I think I got something over here.” I said. (att trotted u !eside me and started sniffing around at what I smelled. “What is that?” I asked. “I !on’t know, &ut it sme s weir!,” (att said, “Let’s see if we can fin! out.” (att and I followed the scent we had icked u a little farther. .e soon came into a small clearing. .e followed the scent out into the middle of it, not aying any attention to where we were going. I looked u , suddenly, and my heart sank. I 3uickly reali$ed where we were. The urge to get the heck out of there washed over my whole !ody. “We have to get out of here, Matt, an! we nee! to !o it now*” I screamed toward him with all the force that I could. .e !oth turned to run without any further conversation and sto ed dead in our tracks. Three dark figures were walking out of the woods from the direction we had -ust come. (att let out a shar whine and then howled. I ho ed that he was calling for hel !ecause I definitely could feel trou!le. /ow that the figures were under the moon I could tell they were not human, they were Dam ires; “)ow !i! a &unch of .amps get over the wa onto /ran!pa’s property?” I asked.

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“Let’s stay ca m, Luke, I ca e! for he p. /ran!pa an! !a! shou ! &e here soon, &ut et’s not provoke these things unti they get here.” The three vam ires !egan to s read out and surround us. (att and I started !acking u slowly. I took a 3uick glance !ehind me and reali$ed we couldn,t go any farther or we would !ack right into the wall. “We can’t go &ack anymore, Matt, the wa is right there,” I said. Suddenly the vam ires !egan to circle around us. I feared they were re aring for an attack. “Look*” (att said. I looked ast the vam ires and could see the familiar glowing yellow eyes surrounding us -ust inside the line of the woods. Aust then I heard the familiar howl from my dreams, and the flash of ur le light. Aust as the light flashed, the three vam ires !olted for us. I looked around and noticed they were clawing and hissing at us through the ur le s here that was surrounding us. (r. =ath!urn was standing !etween (att and me somehow generating the ur le s here. “What are you !oing here?” I asked, and reali$ed I wasn,t saying anything that he could actually understand. I noticed that #rand a and 9ncle Charles were coming out of the wood line in front of us. As they cre t closer the other wolves surrounding us came into focus. The vam ires were so focused on !reaking through the shieldF they didn,t even notice the other wolves. As the wolves got closer and closer I heard #rand a yell,

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“Don’t ki a of these foo s. We nee! to take one a ive to fin! out what they are !oing here*” In an instant the wolves were in motion. It was hard to take in what was ha ening all around us at the same time. #rand a lea t into the air with his huge mouth o en and sna ed down on the first vam ires, neck sna ing his head off. )e crum led to the ground in a hea as his head rolled a short distance across the ground. The second vam ire to our left was attacked !y four other wolves. They !egan to ri the vam ire to shreds as we watched in horror. 9ncle Charles hit the third vam ire at the same time as the other two. )e hit the vam ire directly in the chest and it went over !ackward with the force of the !low. The vam ire landed on his !ack with 9ncle Charles, teeth clam ed around his neck ready to sna at any second. The vam ire lay in silence, o!viously afraid to move in fear of meeting the fate of his two !uddies. (r. =ath!urn let down his hands and the ur le s here instantly disa eared. I didn,t know e5actly how to make myself change, !ut I started to concentrate on changing !ack to my human form. I closed my eyes and focused. .ithin a few seconds I could feel the change ha =ath!urn. '.e owe you our lives, (r. =ath!urn,+ I said. 'Call me Aack,+ he re lied, 'And you don,t owe me anything. It,s my -o! to rotect you, 8uke.+ ening. I o ened my eyes and reali$ed I was human again. I looked down at the tiny (r.

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'.hat do you mean it,s your -o!*+ I asked Aack. '.e will talk very soon, 8uke, and I will tell you everything,+ said Aack. I noticed that #rand a had also changed !ack to human form. )e was making his way over to where 9ncle Charles held the Dam ire ca tive. The rest of the ack circled in closer kee ing their eyes glued to what was ha with the vam ire. '.hy are you here*+ #rand a snarled at the vam ire. 'I want tell you anything. I,m dead already, regardless of whether I coo erate. 2ou may as well get it over and finish me off,+ hissed the vam ire. At that instant a num!er of things ha ened at onceG A flash of red light streaked down from the to of the wall causing 9ncle Charles to fly into the air and land several feet away. The ur le s here was surrounding us again, and #rand a changed !ack to his wolf form. The vam ire !urst into flames and turned to ash as we watched in shock. All eyes turned u to the to of the wall where the commotion had started. I was horrified as I reali$ed what, or should I say who, was u there. Standing there, wearing the familiar !lack cloak was /hados. /hados lea t from the to of the wall to the ground. The circle of wolves !acked u and changed their focus to him. /hados !egan to circle around the three of us rotected !y the ur le s here. #rand a silently changed !ack to human form !ehind /hados as he continued to circle us. ening

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')ow did you get in here*+ #rand a roared at /hados. /hados didn,t even act as though #rand a had said anything at all. )e continued to glare at us as he made his way around the s here. '2ou reali$e this is only the !eginning,+ /hados hissed, 'Bne day soon, I will return to take you to the underworld to stand at my side,+ )e said as he ointed at me with an unusually long finger. A sudden chill ran down my s ine as I caught a glim se of what the hideous creature must look like under the cloak. In a flash /hados -um ed into the sky and flew over the wall out of sight. .ith the sudden movement of /hados I instinctively returned to wolf form. .hen Aack was sure the threat was gone, he let down the ur le s here again. '#et !ack to the mansion;+ #rand a ordered (att and I, 'I want everyone else to go with me and watch the erimeter for the remainder of the night;+ #rand a yelled at the rest of the ack. 'Charles, you are to escort 8uke and (att !ack to the mansion and guard them until morning,+ #rand a added. I looked around to ask Aack if he could -oin us at the mansion, !ut he was gone. (att and I took off for the mansion with 9ncle Charles leading the way. .hen we got !ack to the garden we all changed !ack to our human forms and headed !ack into the ool room. .e didn,t sto until we were safely in my !edroom. 9ncle Charles told us we were all staying in here

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tonight. )e told us to try and get some rest, and that he would stay outside the door and guard us for the rest of the night. I changed into my a-amas and threw (att a air as well. I knew they would !e !ig on him, !ut they would have to do. I went to the fridge to gra! a cou le sodas while (att changed clothes. I threw one to him as we made our way to sit down around the em ty fire lace. '(an, that was wild,+ (att said. '2ou got that right,+ I re lied. 'I,m glad Aack was there to save us from those things,+ (att added. '2eah, I can,t hel !ut kee thinking a!out what he said, that it was his -o! to rotect me,+ I said, 'I wonder how he knew we would !e there, and that we would need hel ,+ (att said. 'I was thinking the same thing,+ I said. .e !oth sat there in silence as we finished our sodas. .ithout saying another word I got u and clim!ed into !ed. I was com letely e5hausted from the events of the day. The last thought I remem!ered was ho ing the rest of the ack would !e safe until morning. '2ou failed to inform me the !oy was !eing rotected !y the elf;+ /hados yelled at the old lady chained on the floor. >right !lue !olts of electricity flowed from his hands striking the old lady. She screamed in ain as /hados continued to electrocute her.

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'I never saw that in my visions,+ the woman cried from the nearly un!eara!le torture /hados was utting her through. /hados sto ed torturing the woman and turned to face the cloaked woman standing on the other side of the cave they were in. /hados, eyes were !la$ing red as if they were fire !urning from their sockets. The woman fell to her knees in front of her master. '2ou told me the !oy was alone;+ /hados yelled down at the cloaked woman. 'I assure you I had no idea the elf was with him, (aster,+ the woman cried. She knew /hados was angry enough to kill her now that his lans had !een ruined. ')ow much time do we have !efore the ne5t art of the ro hecy is revealed to the !oy*+ /hados hissed down at the woman. '(aster, I do not know when they will tell him. I do know we have several months !efore the deadline. Surely we can come u with a way to ca ture the !oy !efore then.+ '2ou !etter ho e you are right. .e must not fail a second time. If the !oy unites with good, he will have to !e eliminated ermanently,+ /hados told her. 'I understand, (aster. I will do everything in my ower to make sure that doesn,t ha en,+ said the woman. /hados suddenly !urst into flames. .hen the flames went out /hados was no longer standing in the cave.

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.hen I finally woke u the ne5t morning I was shocked to reali$e I didn,t have any nightmares like I sus ected I would. (att was still snoring away on the other side of the !ed. I got u 3uietly so I wouldn,t distur! him and went into the !athroom to take a hot shower. .hen I finished taking a shower I gra!!ed a !owl of cereal and sat down at the !ar to look over the schedule for our classes. I noticed that our first class was the Sha e Shifter class taught !y Adriana. I dreaded the thought of having to !e around her for a whole hour. I didn,t know who taught the other classes, !ut I thought they couldn,t !e any worse than her. I finished my !reakfast and sli ed out into the hall. I had noticed it was only nine a.m. so I still had three hours !efore class started. I wondered if after last night we would even have class today. I walked down and knocked on Ava,s door. She answered and invited me in. ')ey, 8uke, I heard a!out last night,+ she said. '2eah, we survived,+ I re lied. '.ell that,s definitely a good thing,+ she said smiling. 'I -ust wanted to make sure we were still going to have class today.+ '9nfortunately we are. (om said to make sure I showed y,all where to go and everything.+ '1id you get all of your resents last night*+ Ava asked. '"resents* .hat resents*+ I asked.

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'2our !irthday resents, silly. There was a ta!le full of resents at your arty last night,+ Ava said. 'I didn,t notice them. As soon as I came in the door I had the vision and everything was chaotic after that,+ I e5 lained as Ava walked over to her !edside ta!le and o ened the to drawer. 'I wanted to give this to you in erson. After you o en this we can run down to the dinning room and see if your other resents are still there,+ Ava said. 'Thank you so much, Ava, you didn,t have to give me anything,+ I said as she handed me a small gift wra ed !o5. 'It,s not much, !ut I wanted to give you something. I really like you a lot, 8uke, and I,m glad you are here,+ she said as I took the !o5 and unwra ed it. I slowly o ened the lid of the !o5 not knowing what to e5 ect. Inside was a small !lue velvet !ag with little !lack drawstrings. I laid the !o5 on the !ed and o ened the little !ag. I dum ed the contents into the alm of my hand. Connected to a !eautiful silver chain was a silver tooth. As I looked a little closer I noticed a small !lue s here em!edded inside the silver tooth. I e5amined the s here even more and noticed that the !lue was actually smoke swirling around inside the s here. The !lue color of it reminded me of the color of the sky on a cloudless, !eautiful, sunny day. 'Ava, I don,t know what to say. It,s !eautiful;+

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'I,m glad you like it. It,s a mold of a real wolves tooth. )o efully it will !ring you luck, and kee you safe,+ she e5 lained. 'I love it;+ I e5claimed as I ut it on around my neck. '8et,s go down to the dinning hall and see a!out your other gifts,+ Ava said. She headed for the door and I followed her down to the dinning hall. The dinning room was em ty e5ce t for the huge iles of resents wra ed in different colored a er. I had never in my life seen so many gifts at a !irthday arty, es ecially a arty for me. 'B en them,+ Ava said as she took a seat and waited for me to !egin. I started with the smaller ones and found 1D1s, !ooks, and a few video games. I also had several sets of clothes and a !ack ack full of su lies I would need for class. There was a 1D1 layer and a game system that would definitely come in handy with the 1D1s and games I had gotten. The ne5t to the last resent I o ened was a la to . I totally didn,t e5 ect that, I had never owned a com uter !efore, so I was very e5cited a!out this gift. The last resent, and of course the !iggest one of all, was the !iggest flat screen TD I thought I had ever seen in my entire life. I couldn,t !elieve all the things I had gotten. As Ava and I shared the e5citement of the things I o ened, #rand a came into the dinning hall. 'I see you found your gifts,+ he said with a smile.

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'Ava told me I had gifts down here left from the arty, !ut I never e5 ected all of this,+ I said, '.ho are all of these from*+ I asked. '.ell, the TD and the la to are from me, 8uke, and the game system is from Charles and (att. The others are from the rest of the ack,+ #rand a e5 lained with a huge smile on his face. 'I ho e you like them,+ he added. 'I love them, #rand a; Thank you so much;+ I e5claimed as I ran over and hugged him. 'I,m glad,+ he said as he hugged me !ack, I,ll have the staff !ring everything u to your room while you,re in class,+ #rand a said. 'That would !e great;+ I said as I gra!!ed the !ack ack and the la to to take with me. '8et,s go u to my room and see if (att,s u yet so I can tell him what I got,+ I told Ava. 'I will see you later this afternoon, 8uke, after your last class. I want to test your owers a little more, and discuss a few things with you and Ava if you don,t mind,+ #rand a said as we headed out of the dinning room. 'Bk, #rand a, we,ll see ya later,+ I called out. .e ran all the way to my room. I was so e5cited a!out the resents I had received for my !irthday. I o ened the door and noticed (att sitting at the !ar with a huge tray of food. )e o!viously had already ordered u some !reakfast.

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'.hy don,t we order a i$$a from the kitchen for lunch*+ asked Ava. 'That sounds good,+ I said. '2eah that sounds great;+ (att re lied with a mouth full of food. '2ou,re going to eat all of that and i$$a* .here the heck do you ut it all*+ I asked. 'I can,t hel it, dude, I,m a growing !oy,+ (att said with a laugh. '?ee eating like that and all you,re going to do is grow out instead of u ,+ I said as Ava and I laughed together. '(an, you will never !elieve all the resents I got for my !irthday. I got movies, a 1D1 layer, and I even got a freaking !ig screen TD. Thank you and your dad for the "laystation, man, it,s awesome. Bh, and I got this,+ I said and held u the !o5 with the !rand new la to in it. '2ou got a "laystation and all that stuff too*+ (att asked with a shocked look. '2eah, #rand a said you and your dad got the "laystation for me,+ I said. '.ell hell, we got you one, and I don,t even have one myself,+ (att said with a sigh. '.ell you,re welcome to -oin me in laying mine on the new !ig screen,+ I told him. (att finished his !reakfast and headed for his room to shower and get dressed for the day. Ava hel ed me un ack my la to and get it all set u so I could use it. I was somewhat familiar with com uters using them at school,

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and what little I did on the one 9ncle Charles had. I was su er e5cited a!out having my own now. 'There is .i@Ci everywhere in the mansion,+ Ava said. 'That,s awesome,+ I re lied as she !egan to show me how to connect to the mansion,s network. The i$$a had arrived !y that time, and (att returned to my room as if the smell of it had lured him !ack. I gra!!ed everyone a soda and we dug in to the i$$a. I noticed the Silent Soldiers logo as an icon on the deskto screen of my la to and clicked it. The rogram o ened and asked for a user id and a assword. '8ook at this,+ I said as Ava and (att looked over at the screen to see what I was talking a!out. '.hat,s that*+ (att asked. 'I don,t know, !ut it,s definitely something to do with the Silent Soldiers,+ said Ava. 'I wish we could get in and see what it is,+ I said. ')ey, I know some!ody we could talk to a!out it. .e need to ask Aenna if she knows how to get in,+ said Ava. '.ho,s Aenna*+ I asked. '2ou know, 1ante Sanderson,s, daughter. The one we met yesterday while we were waiting on our schedules. The !londe that (att was ractically drooling over,+ Ava e5 lained with a little giggle. 'I was not,+ (att yelled and immediately turned !right red with em!arrassment.

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'Anyway, 1ante is the tech guy for the whole mansion. )e works on all of the video and com uter stuff. She may very well have icked u some of her fathers skills. She might !e a!le to hel us hack into the system,+ Ava e5citedly told us. 'It,s definitely worth a try,+ I re lied. .e finished our lunch !y that time, and I looked at my hone to check the time. It was a!out a 3uarter to twelve so I threw my !ooks and my la to in my !ag and we headed for class. (att and Ava gra!!ed their !ooks from their room on the way. Ava led the way as we headed through the great room and into the room where the ool was. .e took a right and went through a !ig wooden door. The door o ened into a long hallway with doors on either side. I noticed the rooms were num!ered as we continued down the hall. .e made it to the end of the hall and turned left down another hall. This hall was much like the first only shorter. .e came nearly to the end of this hall and entered one of the last doors. .e followed Ava into the room. To my sur rise it looked -ust like the classrooms !ack home. Chalk!oards covered the wall in the front of the class. =ows of desks faced the chalk!oard -ust like any other classroom you have ever seen. The only difference in this and a normal classroom were the osters and aintings that decorated the other three walls. These were definitely not anything I had seen !efore. They contained ictures of different forms that Sha eShifters took when they changed. There was also a icture that showed the different

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hases of the moon. .e all took a seat on the front row. I ulled my Sha eShifter 1<1 !ook out of my !ag along with a note!ook and en. A few seconds later Aenna !ounced into the room as if she thought she was going to !e late. ')i;+ (att said a little louder than necessary. )e immediately dro ed his head and !lushed with em!arrassment. ')ey, (att, is it*+ Aenna asked. 'That,s right,+ (att said a little sur rised she remem!ered his name. As Aenna took the seat ne5t to (att, Adriana came swiftly into the room and slammed her !ooks down on the ta!le. Adriana !ent over and ut her hands down on either side of the desk as she glared at us. She looked as though she was ready to ounce on us at any second as she told us, '2ou will address me as (s. #rayson. I did not choose to !e here any more than you did. .e will not meet every day of the week like some of your other classes,+ she said. I thought that was ro!a!ly the !est thing I had heard in 3uite some time as she continued, '2our first assignment will !e a five age essay on the history of the Sha eShifter. It will !e ty ed, single s ace, using a 12 oint font. Anything other than those s ecifications will not !e acce ted. A si5th age will !e a cover sheet with the title, as well as your name and the date it is due. .e will meet again on Criday and you will turn in your a ers. There will !e no e5cuses for not having it finished and lying on

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my desk !y this time Criday. She scoo ed u the things she had !rought with her and marched !ack out of the room. '.hat the hell is wrong with her*+ Aenna asked. '.ell, we haven,t 3uite figured that out yet,+ said Ava. 'At least we don,t have to look at her everyday,+ I said. 'Amen to that,+ re lied (att. 'So, guess that means we,re free until our ne5t class starts,+ I said ha ily. '8et,s go out and sit in the garden until our ne5t class,+ said Ava. Ava stood and headed toward the door and the rest of us followed her lead. .e followed her out to the garden and took a seat at a icnic ta!le under a huge old Bak tree. 'This gives us the erfect o a!out something, Aenna,+ Ava said. '.hat,s u *+ she asked. '.ell, we wanted to ask if you had learned any of your fathers, com uter skills,+ Ava told her. 'I,ve icked u a little. .hy do you ask*+ Aenna re lied. I had my la to out and !ooted u !y this time, and I ushed it over in front of Aenna so she could see it. '.e are trying to log into this rogram,+ I said as I clicked on the Silent Soldiers icon. 'That,s easy, I only need to get online and download a rogram that cracks asswords,+ she said as she !egan to click and ty e her way through a num!er of different screens. A few minutes later, to our ama$ement, she was done. She scri!!led ortunity to talk to you

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some num!ers and letters onto a iece of a er and handed it to me. 'This id and assword will sign you in until some!ody reali$es that the system has !een hacked,+ she e5 lained, 'Then I can -ust go in and do it again,+ she added with a smile. She turned the la to !ack to face me. I !egan to ty e in the letters and num!ers she gave me. I hit the login !utton and Access #ranted showed on the screen. /e5t a different screen o ed u . The ne5t screen had a num!er of !uttons to choose from. Bne !utton in articular that immediately caught my interest read (7(>7=S. I clicked on it. The ne5t screen was the same e5ce t for what was on the !uttons. 7ach of the five !uttons had a name on it. .e were all shocked to see that four of the names in the list were our own. I clicked on (att,s name first. )is icture o ed u at the to of the screen. As I scrolled down it told everything a!out him, his name, height, weight, eye color, his shifter form, and under the s ecial owers title it said 'undetermined.+ '2ou have a s ecial ower*+ Aenna asked (att. '#rand a said that since I changed early I would ro!a!ly manifest a s ecial ower. )e didn,t say what it was or when it would show u ,+ he said a little confused. '.e knew you were to !e the leader of this grou , 8uke, !ut I didn,t know they lanned on us !eing a art of it too,+ Ava said.

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'.ho is this 1akota #a$ini that is the other name on the list*+ Aenna asked. 'I have never heard that name here at the mansion,+ Ava said. (att and I !oth shook our heads to let her know we didn,t know either. Aust then we heard someone clear their throat. .e all four -erked our heads toward the sound, as I 3uickly closed my la to . ')i, mom,+ Ava said. '1id you all lan on sitting out here all afternoon, or were you lanning on coming to class soon*+ =achel asked in a rather stern voice. /one of us reali$ed it was already time for class to start. .e had !een glued to the com uter for nearly an hour. .e all gathered our things and followed =achel to the .itchcraft 1<1 class. 'I am =achel )adison for those of you that don,t already know me,+ she said in a very cheerful voice. 'I will !e teaching you the introductory class on .itchcraft. 7veryone that attends school here at the mansion must take this class, !ut only those destined to !ecome witches will roceed to more advanced witchcraft classes. Ava has already com leted this class and will act as my assistant. She will also !e availa!le to tutor any of you that feel you need the e5tra hel ,+ =achel e5 lained. I took the time while =achel was talking to take a glance around the classroom. There were a variety of osters around the room that contained what I figured

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to !e witch related things. There were also a cou le ta!les in the !ack covered with what a eared to !e chemistry sets with test tu!es and !urners and things. Today I will !e discussing a !rief history of the craft. After I go through some of the history, we will !egin learning a!out things that are actually im ortant in the craft like s ells, and charms, and more ractical things. .here we came from as witches is not nearly im ortant to me as where we are going, so we are not going to dwell on the ast. =achel then told us to get out our note!ooks so we could take notes, and she !egan her lesson. I found the information she was giving us to !e very interesting. >efore I knew it she was dismissing us for the day. She had a homework assignment written on the !oard to finish reading cha ter one and also read cha ters two and three. .e gathered our things and went across the hall to our ne5t and final class of the day, Dam ires 1<1. I was really looking forward to this class. I had read through some of the te5t, and I was an5ious to find out what arts of it ertained to me. To my great sur rise, Aack =ath!urn was standing on a little raised latform at the front of the class. 'Aack;+ I said as we entered the room. ')ello, 8uke, how are you today*+ he asked. 'I,m doing great. I didn,t e5 ect to see you teaching this class,+ I told him.

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'2es, well, I,m not the ermanent Dam ire instructor, !ut (r. Carrington asked me to fill in for the summer,+ he e5 lained. 'I normally teach the class on 7lves,+ he added. .ell, that definitely e5 lained why he reminded me of one of Santa,s elves, he actually was an elf. A giggle esca ed my throat as I made my way to one of the desks at the front of the class. 'This class is normally after dark. The vam ire that teaches it is only availa!le after the sun goes down,+ Ava whis ered as we took our seats. I guess that made sense I thought to my self. I ho ed Aack had as much knowledge as an actual vam ire !ecause I knew I would have lots of 3uestions for him. Aack !egan the lesson for the day. I listened as attentively as ossi!le as he also went through history. .hen class was over Aack asked Ava and I to stick around. (att told us he would catch u later and headed out the door with Aenna. Aack allowed them time to leave !efore turning to us. (r. Carrington asked that I !ring the two of you downstairs for 8uke,s further testing. Ava and I !oth e5 ressed our understanding and followed Aack out of the room. .e followed Aack out of the classroom and down the hall. )e led us into another classroom that must have !een his actual classroom !y the looks of the osters on the walls. .e followed him through the classroom and into a small office. .hen we were inside he closed the door !ehind us. )e went

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around to his desk and ulled out a small white crystal. )e told us to !oth take hold of his shoulders as he raised his hand holding the crystal into the air. The crystal !egan to glow, and the light instantly got so !right that we couldn,t see anything. .hen the light !egan to fade, we reali$ed we were no longer in his office at all. .e had trans orted into the Silent Soldiers head3uarters. '.hoa,+ was all I could think to say as I stared shockingly at Ava. Aack looked at us with a little grin and in an instant he was gone. Bne second he was there looking at us and the ne5t he was gone. )e disa eared right in front of our eyes. 'Bk, that was strange,+ Ava said. 'Cor real,+ I re lied. .e heard footste s walking across the floor heading our way, and we !oth turned to see who it was. #rand a was coming over to us looking ha always does. 'Come with me,+ he said as he a roached us. .e followed him into the room that =achel removed and a lied the s ell on me last time I was down here. I noticed the e5am ta!le had !een removed from the room. '.here do you want me*+ I asked. 'I have something to show you, 8uke,+ =achel said. 'I hel ed mom come u with something a little different than the whole drawn out s ell and all,+ said Ava very ha looked down to see what it was. ily. =achel icked something u from her desk and handed it to me. I y to see me as he

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'An inhaler*+ I asked. I don,t have any !reathing ro!lems; I rotested. 'It,s not -ust an inhaler, 8uke,+ Ava said. 'Ava,s right, it may look and work like an inhaler, !ut it is so much more. Try it out,+ said =achel. I nervously ut the inhaler into my mouth. I s3uee$ed and inhaled -ust like someone would that was e5 eriencing an asthma attack. I instantly felt the warm sensation run u my !ody starting at my feet. 'Cool,+ I said. 'Ava and I have !een working on creating s ells in gas form that can !e contained in different o!-ects, like this inhaler, and used as we wish. /ow, instead of casting s ells, we can use whatever o!-ect we have chosen. It eliminates the need to carry around candles and ingredients. It also allows a witch to instantly cast a s ell that would normally take several minutes,+ e5 lained =achel. 'That is ama$ing;+ said #rand a. =achel took the inhaler !ack and stuck it in her ocket. .e went through the whole testing routine that we had erformed last time. .e went through it again to make sure everything was the same as it had !een !efore I changed to wolf form. /one of my owers had changed, and I continued to have no reaction to any of the items. The ne5t ste , #rand a said, was for me to attem t to change into my wolf form while I still ossessed my vam ire owers. .e went out into the main room and everyone turned to watch me as I concentrated on changing. I closed my eyes and

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focused on what it felt like the night !efore when I felt my !ody changing sha e. I had the familiar feeling come almost instantly and o ened my eyes to reali$e I was looking u at the others. I watched as #rand a changed as well. “We !one, Luke,” I heard grand a say in my head. “With a itt e practice you wi &e a& e to change as 0uick y as I can,” he added. “I fee great. I wish I was outsi!e so I cou ! run,” I told him. “Let’s try something. I want you to run !own to that wa at the en! of the room ike you !i! yester!ay,” #rand a said. I moved out to the o en area that ran down the center of the room and got into osition and took off. In the !link of an eye I was at the other end of the room. “#ou sti have your vampire spee!, I see. Let’s see if you have your strength as we . /o over to one of the &igger vehic es an! see if you can pu it across the room,” #rand a told me. I walked over to the !iggest S9D in the room and gra!!ed hold of the middle of the !um er with my teeth. I slowly started to walk !ackward ulling the vehicle. To our sur rise it started to move. I ulled 3uite easily as it slowly followed me across the floor. I could hear the wheels s3ueaking their resistance on the metal floor, !ut the vehicle never slowed down. I knew the vehicle weighed thousands of ounds, !ut to

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me, it was light as a feather. .e all came to reali$e I had my vam ire owers in human form, as well as wolf form.

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The ne5t few months went !y fairly 3uickly. The summer was drawing to an end, and fall was 3uickly a roaching. The trees around the mansion were changing into the !eautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red that we were all familiar with. The tem erature outside was no longer un!eara!ly hot. It was actually getting 3uite cool at night. Soon, the leaves would !egin to fall and winter would take hold of South Arkansas. Bver the course of the summer I learned a great deal a!out .itches, Dam ires, and Sha e Shifters in my classes. .e had final e5ams much like in a normal school, and we all assed them with flying colors. Adriana was a ain in the !utt, !ut at least we didn,t have to see her !ut once or twice a week. Bn to of my class work, I had s ecial training down at head3uarters everyday. I racticed changing to wolf form 3uite a !it, and had gotten really good at it. I also went through a series of com!at training. (y Tae ?won 1o classes !ack home came in handy with these. I eventually had to do the com!at training after dark when "rofessor Dance could teach me. #rand a decided I was never going to learn much unless someone as fast as me could take over my training. /one of the wolves around the mansion came close to matching my s eed. It was also great having another vam ire around to ask 3uestions. I learned a lot more

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a!out my owers and the weaknesses of other vam ires from "rofessor Dance. I continued to use the inhaler to su ress my vam ire owers while I wasn,t training. #rand a said we still had some testing to do !efore I could kee them all the time. Toward the end of the summer we learned that while the s ell was removed, and I had the vam ire owers, I still ate human food instead of !lood. This was wonderful news to me. I really didn,t want to go around with the urge to !ite eo le. I was very roud of the things I learned over the summer. #rand a continued to tell me how leased he was with my rogress. After the summer classes were over, he told me he had a sur rise for me. I couldn,t imagine what the sur rise could !e. )e told me to meet him in the great room after dinner one evening. 'I can,t imagine what #rand a wants,+ I said to the gang. The gang included of course Ava, (att, and Aenna. .e had grown very close over the ast few months, and were s ending retty much every waking minute together. 'I !et it,s going to !e something awesome,+ (att said. 'I guess we will find out soon,+ I re lied. As soon as we finished eating I e5cused myself from the ta!le, and told them I would see them a little later. They decided to wait in Ava,s room for me to get finished with my little meeting with #rand a. ')i, #rand a,+ I said as I entered the great room and walked over to where he was sitting. Something seemed very

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different a!out him. 9sually when I saw #rand a he was very ha y. )e normally had a huge welcoming smile lastered on his face. I always felt com letely welcome in his resence. This time when I entered the room a nervous feeling flooded over me at the very serious look #rand a had. .hen he noticed me he attem ted to change his com osure and ut on a smile, !ut I knew he was trying to hide something from me. '.hat,s wrong, #rand a*+ I asked. '.e have something very im ortant to discuss, 8uke. I told you I had a sur rise for you, so let,s talk a!out that first. I am very roud of your rogress, and I have decided to remove the s ell ermanently. I feel that you have rogressed enough in your training for you to !e a!le to handle the res onsi!ility of your full owers,+ #rand a e5 lained. I immediately felt some of the nervousness change to e5citement. 'That,s great,+ I said, 'I have waited all summer for this.+ 'There is another reason for this, 8uke,+ he said. I need for you to !e com letely comforta!le with your owers. Soon you and the Silent Soldiers will face your first mission,+ #rand a said. (y heart !eat dou!le time at this news. I had !een antici ating when this moment would come, !ut I never thought it would !e so soon. '>efore your grandmother left the mansion she told not only of your !irth. She also gave several other very s ecific ro hecies a!out you. The first one was your shifting form

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confirming your identity. That was fulfilled with your changing into the white wolf. The second one told of your initial training that would take lace at the mansion. This ro hecy has also !een fulfilled with your training throughout the summer. The third ro hecy, and the one that we are concerned with now, is the !asis for your first mission as the !orn leader of the Silent Soldiers.+ 'The third ro hecy is thisG >efore the mark of the autumnal e3uino5 after the white warrior comes of age, he must collect the ?oichi sword to ermanently unite himself to the light. '.hat e5actly does that mean*+ I asked in com lete confusion. 'I,ll e5 lain. >efore the mark of the autumnal e3uino5 is somewhere around the end of Se tem!er. That gives us a ro5imately three weeks from now for you to com lete this mission. The mission is to collect the ?oichi sword. If you can o!tain this sword !efore the mark of the autumnal e3uino5 you will unite your self to the light. '.hat is the light, #rand a*+ 'The light is the o or so it is said.+ '8et me get this straight. In less than three weeks, I have to collect this sword. If I don,t succeed I could otentially !e evil*+ I asked as I shuffled these thoughts around in my head. osite of darkness, 8uke. 8ight means the side of goodness. 8ight is good, and darkness is evil,

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'That is correct,+ said #rand a. 'Bk. That sounds easy enough. Aust tell me where it is and I will go and get it,+ '8uke, it,s not that sim le. .e !elieve that /hados has !een at work since his attack here at the mansion. .e think he has taken u guard over the sword. The sword is in the underworld. If it is in fact !eing guarded !y /hados, it could !e nearly im ossi!le for you to get it,+ #rand a e5 lained. '.e can,t -ust sit around. .e have no choice !ut to get it. I don,t want to !e evil, #rand a. 8et,s go get it. '.e can,t rush in un re ared, 8uke. .e must !ring in the final mem!er of the team, and we must re are for a great !attle,+ said #rand a. #rand a handed me the inhaler he was holding. I had !een so caught u in all the !ad news that I com letely forgot a!out the good news. I took the inhaler and inhaled, removing the s ell that had su away in his ocket. '1akota #a$ini will !e arriving tonight. )e is the fifth and final mem!er of the Silent Soldiers. )e is coming to live with us here at the mansion. I want to meet with you all after he arrives so I can introduce everyone to him,+ #rand a said. 'Bk,+ 'I must e5cuse myself 8uke. I have to make final arrangements for 1akota,s arrival.+ #rand a left the room while I continued to sit there thinking a!out all that he had told me. I ressed my owers for so many years. I handed it !ack to #rand a and he tucked it

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decided I should go and talk to my friends and tell them what we were u against. .e also needed to see if we could find out anything else. I was standing to leave when I suddenly heard a voice coming from the ool room outside of the dou!le doors of the great room. I thought it was odd that I could hear someone talking in another room. I remem!ered then that I learned a!out su er hearing in my vam ire class. That must !e the reason I could hear this far away. I focused on the voice as closely as I could and found out that it was Adriana talking to someone. I couldn,t hear another voice so I figured she must !e talking to some!ody on the hone. I snuck 3uietly over to the door so I could hear what they were saying !etter. ')e has informed the !oy a!out the sword. I think they will try to take it soon,+ I heard her say, 'I understand, !ut he has !een training e5tensively all summer, and the final mem!er is scheduled to arrive tonight,+ she added. I couldn,t imagine who she would !e telling this im ortant information to, !ut I felt that it was wrong for her to !e sharing my #rand a,s secrets. I listened again, and heard her say, 'I will let you know if I find out anything further, master.+ I heard the !ee of the hone and footste s headed for the door I was listening at. I had to get out of here. Adriana was seconds away from walking through this door, and I definitely didn,t want her to find me eavesdro ing on her conversation. In

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a flash I ran across the room and was out the door into the foyer. I closed the door !ehind me as 3uietly as ossi!le as I heard the door o en on the other side of the room. This su er hearing could definitely come in handy, I thought to myself. I raced u the stairs and into Ava,s room without even knocking first. '?nock much*+ Ava asked. 'I,m sorry Ava, !ut I will e5 lain everything in a second,+ I said. I eeked out the door to make sure no!ody was following me. .hen I was satisfied we were in fact alone I closed the door and walked over to sit down with my friends. '.hat,s u , 8uke, you look like you,ve seen a ghost,+ (att laughed. 'I think Adriana is !etraying the ack. I think she is the one that hel ed /hados enter the ro erty over the wall the first night I changed,+ I !lurted. 'Are you sure*+ Ava asked. '8et me start from when I left y,all in the dinning hall, and I,ll tell you the whole story. I started with meeting #rand a in the great room and told them every detail of the conversation we had. I told them a!out the new mem!er arriving soon. I told them a!out the mission we were facing. I told them everything I knew so far. I also told them a!out hearing Adriana on the hone and what she said. I also told them how I heard that far away with my su er hearing, now that I had my vam ire owers

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ermanently. 7veryone stared at me in shock as I gave every detail I could remem!er. '.e have to do some research and find out where this sword is, and how we might !e a!le to get it. .e are a!out to !e united as the Silent Soldiers, and I think we need to !e as re ared as ossi!le. .e know a!out my owers. I think we need to discuss the owers that you guys have as well. .e need to know what were working with,+ I told them. '.ell, according to my mother, I am a 3uite owerful witch. She says I,m even more owerful than she was at her age. She said if I could summon the ower of Callan, I could ossi!ly reach my full ower retty 3uickly. It is an e5tremely difficult ritual, and we would need a fifth erson to erform it,+ Ava e5 lained. '1o you think your mom would hel with it*+ I asked. 'She might hel us. She knows I have !een researching it. This ritual di s into a !it of dark magic, and I think she would rather !e there with me than for me to try it on my own. I,ll find out,+ she said. 'Bk, (att, have you figured out anything a!out any s ecial owers you might have*+ I asked. 'I read in one of the more advanced Sha eShifter !ooks that my mom has, that some shifters can shift into other things. (ay!e you can change into something other than a wolf, (att,+ said Ava.

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'I,ve !een working with my dad for several weeks now trying to figure out what my ower is. .e haven,t found anything out yet,+ said (att. 'There is something we could try,+ said Ava. '.hat,s that*+ Aenna asked. 'It,s sort of a long shot, !ut it might -ust work. .e could try a revealing s ell,+ said Ava. '.hat e5actly is a revealing s ell*+ I asked. '.ell, we use revealing s ells sometimes when we are trying to find the answer to something. .e could try to cast it on (att and see what ha ens,+ said Ava. 'Is there any chance it could hurt him*+ Aenna asked truly concerned a!out (att. 'The worst that can ha en is he will start rattling off secrets he has ke t over the years. I think if he focuses on what he wants revealed, and I cast the s ell, it -ust might show us what we want to know. The only thing is it has to !e erformed outside under the moon,+ said Ava. 'Bk, I don,t think it will !e hard for us to sneak out long enough to cast the s ell. I know were not su osed to go out after dark with the whole /hados thing, !ut I think it will !e worth it if we -ust go out into the garden for a short time,+ I said. 'That takes care of the three of us, !ut what a!out Aenna*+ Ava asked. '.ell, I don,t know how much hel it will !e to the team, !ut I have found that I can harness the ower of electricity.

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.ell, not e5actly harness it, !ut I can sort of send my mind into it,+ said Aenna. '.hat do you mean*+ I asked. '8et me show you,+ she re lied. Aenna walked over to the !ar where my la to sat. She laced her hand on the lug leading from the charger into the com uter. Almost instantly we !egan to see the screen change. A faint image of Aenna,s face a eared on the screen. .e all looked at the screen with wide eared. eyes as she smiled !ack at us. .e were com letely ama$ed. She let go of the lug and the image disa 'See what I mean* I can go inside the com uter through the electricity. I can actually work through the rograms like that. I can also go into other things. Cor instance, I can enter the security cameras and see everything the cameras see.+ 'That is ama$ing;+ I e5claimed with great e5citement. '1oes any!ody else know a!out this*+ Ava asked. '(y dad does, !ut he wanted me to kee it a secret until I figured out for sure what I was doing,+ said Aenna. 'Bk, tonight after grand a introduces us to 1akota, we will sneak out into the garden for the revealing s ell on 8uke. Then, if your mom is willing, we will erform the ritual you told us a!out, Ava. That should have us all u to s eed on the owers issue,+ I said. 'I,m going to go talk to my mom and get all of the su lies together that we will need for the s ell and the ritual. I,ll meet you in the great room as soon as it gets dark,+ said Ava.

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'Sounds like a lan,+ (att added. Ava left the room at that time. I asked Aenna to go into the com uter and look for anything dealing with the ?oichi sword. She agreed and went to work on the com uter. (att and I watched in awe as the screen !egan to change very ra idly. The screen sto ed on a icture of a !eautiful sword that reminded me of the ones used !y nin-as in movies I had seen. The sword was silver with intricate designs carved into the !lade. The handle and sheath were the same ure white color. 'It says the sword is of Aa anese origin. A owerful Aa anese sorcerer hand crafted it and carved the s ell that harnesses its ower into the !lade. I,m guessing that,s what those designs are. It goes on to say that a dark wi$ard killed the sorcerer and took the sword to the underworld to kee it out of the hands of good,+ Aenna read. 'I,ll give you one guess who that wi$ard was,+ I said rather sarcastically. Aenna went on to read that, 'The entrance to its location has !een hidden for several centuries.+ 'That all it says*+ I asked. '2e , and that is the only we!site I found that even talked a!out the sword,+ said Aenna. 'Bk, I wonder if there is anything in the Silent Soldiers data!ase a!out it. (ay!e they have researched and located the entrance. They have to know where it is and how to get it,+ I said as Aenna gra!!ed the lug again. The screen switched to the

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Silent Soldiers login age and then again switched to a age with ?oichi Sword as the title. The same icture of the sword was under the title. 'This says the entrance to its location is located right here in 7erie;+ Aenna told us e5citedly. 'It says the entrance has !een located in The 1evil,s 1en. There is a ma to its location right here,+ Aenna said as she ointed to the ma at the !ottom of the screen. '.e know where the entrance is now. (ay!e #rand a will tell us how to get in and what we will face once we get there. I,m sure the entrance itself is rotected. The sword will !e guarded with everything in /hados, ower for sure,+ I said. 'It,s getting dark now, Aenna. .hy don,t you check the security cameras and see if 1akota has arrived yet,+ I said. Aenna touched the charger to my la to again and told us there was a moving van ulling u to the front entrance. I acked my la to into my !ack ack and suggested we walk down to the stairs to watch as he entered the mansion. .e walked down to stand !etween the two sets of stairs leading u to the second floor so we could watch from a!ove. #rand a came in the door followed !y a !oy that looked to !e my age. It was hard to tell the actual age of a vam ire !ecause once a erson is turned they don,t age. I wondered if I would continue to age now that I was art vam ire full time. I made mental note to in3uire a!out that.

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The !oy following #rand a was of African@American descent. )is head was com letely !ald and covered in tattoos. )e wore all !lack leather, from his !oots all the way u to his sleeveless vest. #rand a led the !oy through the foyer and into the great room. The !oy glanced u at us as he walked into the door to the great room and gave us a little smile that revealed his fangs a little. '8et,s go down and -oin them,+ I said as I turned and headed down the stairs. .e entered the great room and noticed Ava was already there waiting on us. The three of us -oined them at the large ta!le. #rand a introduced each one of us to 1akota and we in turn shook his hand. I noticed immediately how cold his skin was. #rand a continued once the introductions were done, 'This is 1akota #a$ini. 1akota has transferred here from a coven located in /igeria. )e is one of the !est archers the su ernatural world has ever seen.+ '(y master turned me after he found out I was so good at what I do. (y skills have only gotten !etter since I was turned,+ 1akota said with a grin. '1akota has agreed to live here with us at the mansion, and to -oin the Silent Soldiers. .e have !een in negotiations with his coven for several months now. I know you will all get along great. )ow old are you now, 1akota*+ #rand a asked.

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'I was fifteen when I was turned. I have !een a vam ire for 2< years now. That would make me thirty@five,+ 1akota said as he added u the years. 'Starting tomorrow at sunset the five of you will !egin training as a grou . 2ou will !e entered into the security system for head3uarters in which you will !e a!le to come and go as you lease. 1akota can only train and work at night as you all know. I will meet you all here tomorrow night recisely at sunset. .e have a lot to go over so lease do not !e late,+ #rand a said, 'Ava, if you will lease show 1akota to his room. )e will !e staying ne5t door to you and your mother.+ #rand a !id his good!yes to the grou and left us alone in the great room to get ac3uainted with 1akota. Bnce I gave grand a lenty of time to !e out of hearing distance I set in to tell 1akota everything we knew so far. I told him a!out each of our owers, and what we were lanning to do to figure out a!out Ava and (atts,. I told him what we knew a!out our first mission and the location of the ?oichi Sword, and the location of the entrance to where it was !eing held. As soon as we had 1akota u to s eed I asked Ava, '1id you talk to your mom*+ 'I did. She has agreed to hel . I was right that she would rather !e there to hel than for me to do it on my own,+ she said. '8et,s get started, shall we*+ I asked. '(om is going to meet us out in the garden. She is ro!a!ly there waiting on us now. She is !ringing the su lies

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we need,+ said Ava. .e walked out to the garden. =achel was there -ust as Ava had redicted. =achel had candles laced around in a circle and was in the rocess of sitting out other things in different locations around the circle. .hen she noticed we were there she told (att to move into the center of the circle. She told us to s read out around the outside edge of the circle, and we s aced out e3ual distances a art. She walked into the circle to stand ne5t to (att. 'Ava has told me you don,t know what your s ecial ower is, and has re3uested we try a revealing s ell. I want you to close your eyes and focus on what it is that you want the s ell to reveal. Cocus only on that thought. I will cast the s ell and ho efully it will reveal your ower to us,+ =achel e5 lained to (att. I watched as (att closed his eyes, and =achel !egan chanting. =achel moved around the circle as she chanted and s oke in a language I had never heard. As she walked to each of the candles and chanted they each lit in turn. .hen all of the candles were lit she turned toward (att and said a short series of words directed toward him. The air around (att !egan to fill with smoke. In a second he was com letely concealed !y the thickness of it. =achel !acked u to the edge of the circle !ecause the smoke surrounding (att !egan to get !igger. A few seconds later the smoke !lew away as if a gust of wind had come through that e5act area and (att was gone. A huge dragon was standing right where (att had -ust !een.

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I immediately changed to my wolf form having an idea of what had ha ened to (att. “M$''*” I screamed. “What the he is going on?” I heard (att say in my head. “Man, I !on’t rea y know how to e1p ain this, &ut you change! into a !ragon,” I said as (att !egan to turn around in circles trying to look at himself. 7veryone in the circle had to dro to the ground as (att,s long dragon tail !egan to whi around in circles over their head. “2a m !own, Matt, &efore you take some&o!y’s hea! off with that tai of yours,” I said with a laugh. (att calmed down and looked down at every!ody as he towered a!ove them. I stood and watched him as he s read out an enormous air of wings. In a flash he shot into the sky. I heard him yell “Woo )oo*” as he went out of sight into the night a!ove our heads. .e all watched in shocked dis!elief.

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“Matt* Where are you going?” I yelled after him. “Man you’re going to have to give me a few minutes to test this thing out,” he said. “We !on’t &e ong we have other &usiness to take care of,” I told him. I looked u to find that everyone had shifted their focus on me since (att had flown out of sight. I 3uickly changed !ack to my human form and !egan to e5 lain that (att had indeed changed into the dragon. I told them as I started to laugh a!out what he told me a!out trying it out. They all started laughing with me. A few minutes later I heard the !eating of wings over head and turned to look toward the sound. 7veryone looked !ack u to the sky as (att let out a huge !all of fire from his mouth that lit u the whole sky. (att made his descent slowly !ack to the ground and landed a few feet outside of the garden. .e watched in ama$ement as he changed !ack to his normal self. 'That was awesome;+ )e yelled after he changed. 'The 3uestion is, (att, can you still change to your wolf form, and can you change into the dragon again*+ =achel asked with great concern. .e watched as (att changed to wolf form and !ack to human form. /e5t he changed to dragon form and again !ack to human. To our ama$ement he even changed to wolf form and then immediately changed to dragon and !ack to human.

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'I think I,ve got it under control,+ he said as we stared with our mouths hanging o en. '/ow that we have that taken care of, let,s move on to our second order of !usiness,+ I said, '8et,s see if we can summon this Callan, or whatever it is Ava called it. 'This ritual to summon the ower of Callan is definitely no easy task. It will take the concentration and focus of every erson here in order to make this work. This is a very difficult and dangerous ritual. This will re3uire a certain touch of dark magic to work, and I don,t generally deal with dark magic,+ =achel e5 lained. =achel told us to reform the circle. This time Ava was in the center and (att was art of the circle. =achel handed each of the four of us a candle to hold. She e5 lained what each candle re resented. She started at the first candle and said a few words and the candle lit. /e5t she moved counter@clockwise around the circle. 7ach time she came to a candle she said something in a language unknown to any of us and the candles lit. Bnce the last candle was lit, I !egan to feel a warm tingling feeling all over my !ody. She e5 lained that the circle was now cast, and that we should remain in the circle regardless of what ha then on. /e5t =achel told us to concentrate on Ava. She told us to com letely clear our mind and focus only on her. Ava !egan chanting at this oint and the feeling we had slowly !egan to strengthen. As Ava got louder with the words she was s eaking, ened from

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the tingling grew stronger until it almost felt as though our !odies were vi!rating. .e continued to watch and focus as Ava,s head dro she stood. 7veryone stared at Ava in antici ation e5ce t for me. I was too !usy looking at the wolf,s tooth necklace hanging around my neck. I stared in awe as it glowed with a !rilliant !lue light radiating from the center of the !lue s here. Slowly Ava !egan to rise u into the air as if she was !eing ulled u !y invisi!le ro es. She rose until her feet were several inches off the ground. Seconds later there was a flash of !lue light. The light was so !right that all we could see was the light itself. .hen the light disa eared we noticed Ava was lying on the ground in the center of the circle. (y first instinct was to run to her, !ut =achel antici ated this and yelled for us not to move. I looked !ack down and noticed the !lue glow to my necklace had went out and was its normal sky !lue smoke swirling around. =achel started with the first candle and said something and !lew it out. She continued around the same way she had lit them in the !eginning until they were all out. She e5 lained to us that the circle was now closed, and the ritual was com lete. I dro ed my candle and ran to Ava,s side. =achel -oined me ne5t to her daughter. As Ava !egan to wake u we hel ed her sit u , and then hel ed her to her feet. 'The !ack of my neck and my !ack are !urning like cra$y,+ She said as she !egan to ru! her neck. =achel moved ed forward as if she had fallen aslee where

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around to Ava,s !ack and lifted her shirt a little. .e all gas ed as we noticed Ava,s !ack. Thin !lack lines !egan to make swirling atterns u the middle of her !ack. I looked a little closer and reali$ed it was a tattoo of vines with tiny little thorns all over. >eautiful little ur le roses were forming along the vines that ran all the way from the !ottom of her !ack u to the !ase of her skull. 'The ritual was a success,+ said =achel roudly. It was getting rather late !y this time, and we were all retty tired from all of the e5citement. That is everyone e5ce t for 1akota. The only time vam ires are tired is when the sun !egins to rise. .e all walked in silence !ack into the mansion and u the stairs toward our rooms. I told everyone they were welcome to -oin me in my room if they liked. The only one that took me u on the offer was 1akota. I showed 1akota his room, and then we headed down to mine. I offered 1akota a soda, !ut he reminded me that vam ires can only ingest !lood. This led to the su!-ect of why e5actly he had followed me to my room. '.hat are you e5actly*+ 1akota asked with a confused look on his face. 'I,m art vam ire and art shifter,+ I said with a smile. 'I couldn,t figure you out, man, I knew I sensed vam ire in you. Then you threw me for a loo when you changed into that wolf,+ he said with a laugh. Aust then there was a knock at my door.

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'Come in,+ I called, figuring (att had decided to -oin us after all. To my sur rise it was "rofessor Dance. 'I came to invite 1akota to have dinner with me,+ he said. 'I was wondering if someone was going to show me where the snacks were !efore I had to go and munch on one of my friends, 1akota said with a smile. 'The first thing you will learn around here, 1akota, is that we never feed from anyone that lives at the mansion unless they are willing,+ said "rofessor Dance. 'So we have to go off cam us to feed*+ 1akota asked a little disa ointed. ly down in the kitchen. .hen '/ot e5actly,+ said the rofessor, '(r. Carrington owns a !lood !ank. )e kee s a nice su you get moved into your room they will set you u with a refrigerator and a microwave for your ersonal use,+ "rofessor Dance e5 lained. 'Bh, cool. TD dinners,+ said 1akota. .e all three started to laugh at that. "rofessor Dance and 1akota left the room in search of their dinner which left me alone. I !egan to think a!out the events of the day, and the conversation I overheard Adriana having earlier with the mysterious erson on the other end of the hone. The more I thought a!out it the more I reali$ed I needed to find out what she was u to. I decided to test out my vam ire senses and a!ilities to s y on Adriana to see what I could find out. I eeked out of my

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room to see if anyone was in the hall !efore I snuck down ast the stairs to Adriana,s room. I ut my ear to the door listening closely for any movement or voices coming from inside. After I had !een listening for several minutes I decided no!ody was in the room and decided to search the mansion. I 3uietly searched the entire mansion with no luck. I decided she must !e outside. I thought for several minutes !efore I made u my mind to continue my search outdoors. I didn,t want to u set #rand a !y going outside alone, es ecially in the middle of the night. I went out through the ool room into the garden making sure I sto ed fre3uently to listen for voices and footste s. I definitely didn,t want to !e caught out here. I also focused on staying in the shadows so I wouldn,t get caught !y the security lights and cameras. I made my way slowly around the erimeter of the mansion as I continued to listen all around. I reached the end of the !uilding and listened for any sounds coming from around the corner !efore I risked taking a look. I noticed that this end of the mansion was 3uite dark com ared to the !ack. I didn,t hear anything so I moved -ust enough to see with one eye around the corner. I searched the yard for any sign of movement. I wondered to myself why the security lights would !e turned off as I !egan to sense that something was wrong. This end of the mansion was com letely dark. I couldn,t understand why security hadn,t already investigated the situation. I could see erfectly well with the vam vision and reali$ed my vision was even stronger than my

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hearing. I caught a glim se of movement along the edge of the woods and focused on that area. I fro$e in lace when I noticed what had caught my attention. A medium si$ed !rown colored wolf was cree ing along the wood line concealed !y the shadows of the trees. I instantly recogni$ed the wolf to !e Adriana from the ack runs we had over the ast few months. I made myself move and ducked !ack around the corner. I 3uickly fished my cell hone out of my ocket and sent a 3uick te5t to Aenna asking her to tell her dad to check the security lights. I checked to make sure my hone was on silent so Adriana wouldn,t hear it go off. Aenna re lied asking what,s u . I sent !ack that I wasn,t sure yet !ut something was u with the lights !eing off. I stuffed the hone !ack in my ocket and eeked around the corner again -ust as the wolf turned and headed dee er into the woods. I watched it go out of sight !efore I shot across the yard so fast there would !e no way the cameras could have showed anything. I sto ed -ust inside the cover of the woods. I listened and searched through the darkness. I ke t my distance from the wolf as I followed her a little dee er into the woods. I continued to watch the wolf as it cre t slowly. Suddenly the wolf sto ed dead in its tracks and 3uickly sna ed its head !ack to look in my direction. (y heart !egan to !eat so fast that I could hear it ounding in my ears as I -erked my head !ack !ehind the tree that was concealing the rest of my !ody. I stood there with my !ack ressed against it as I tried to calm

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myself. I nearly let out a startled scream when a hand came around the tree and clam ed down on my throat so fast and hard cutting off my air. I was fro$en with fear as I was lifted into the air and turned around to face my attacker. I looked down into the fiercely dangerous eyes of Adriana. '.hy in the hell are you following me*+ She asked with a growl. I couldn,t answer her. Cor one I didn,t really know what to tell her the reason was, and two she still had my air cut off with her hand clam ed on my throat. I -ust hung there in the air staring down at her. '2ou are not su osed to !e out here alone at night. I should march you straight to your grandfather, !ut !eing out here alone couldn,t !e more erfect. (y master will !e so leased with me when he finds out I have ca tured you for him,+ she hissed, '/ow you will get what is coming to you.+ (y vision !egan to get fu$$y from the lack of o5ygen to my !rain. I knew I had to act 3uickly !efore she did what she was threatening !y turning me over to /hados. She didn,t have to tell me who her master was. I slashed my nails across her face as I closed my eyes and focused on changing. I landed on the ground on my side and immediately -um ed u and looked u at Adriana with a growl. I noticed she had !lood dri ing down her face and reali$ed there were four slashes running diagonally from her hairline down to her chin on the o osite side. I ed from the watched as she too 3uickly changed into the !rown wolf I had !een following. I could smell the !lood as it dri

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wolf,s chin onto the leaves !elow. That let me know that I had really gotten her attention. She would think twice !efore she gra!!ed me again. .e !oth looked 3uickly as we heard a howl coming from !ack at the mansion. I knew immediately it was #rand a,s howl. Aenna must have talked to her dad, who in turn contacted my grandfather to let him know something was going on. .hen I looked !ack toward the wolf, Adriana had disa eared. “2hicken,” I thought as I heard the wolves running through the woods !ehind me. I half e5 ected her to say something !ack in my head as several of the ack mem!ers, led !y #rand a, a roached me suddenly. “Luke, what are you !oing out here?” #rand a asked. I could tell he was very angry and wanted to yell at me, !ut he stayed calm and waited on my re ly. “I wou ! rather us go &ack to the mansion so I can ta k to you a one, /ran!pa,” I said in what I ho ed was a firm voice. “#ou nee! to ook for $!riana an! &ring her in so she can te you why she attacke! me out here,” I told him. 7veryone in the ack could hear what I was saying !ut they waited for #rand a to give the order. #rand a let out a series of !arks and yi s and the rest of the ack set off in different directions with their noses to the ground looking for her scent. I turned and headed !ack toward the mansion and #rand a followed. .hen I got !ack to the mansion I changed !ack to my human form and went in through the door in the garden. I didn,t

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sto until I sat down in one of the chairs in the great room. I heard #rand a close the door !ehind him as he came in. Instead of coming in and taking a seat he walked over and glared down from his osition in front of me. 'I want to know why you diso!eyed me and went outside alone,+ he said in the same angry voice from !efore. 'I know I should not have gone out alone, !ut that is not the ro!lem at hand here. I do a ologi$e for diso!eying you, #rand a.+ #rand a walked over to the chair across from me and sat down on the edge with his el!ows on his knees. )e sat there for a minute staring at me. )e seemed to calm down a !it !efore he s oke. 'Tell me what,s going on,+ he said in a softer and much calmer tone. I started !y telling him a!out the conversation I overheard yesterday !etween Adriana and the mystery erson on the other end of the hone. I told him that after everyone else went to !ed tonight I decided to do a little s ying on her to see if I could find out anything else. I continued to tell grand a a!out looking for Adriana, and a!out following her in wolf form into the woods. As I told him the details of Adriana,s attack, I could see the anger rising !ack into his face. After I com leted the entire story #rand a sat there in silence as he thought a!out everything I told him. It took several minutes !efore he finally s oke again. 'I,m not ha y with your actions tonight, 8uke,+ he started, '>ut I am very roud of your work. 2ou have single

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handedly caught the erson that has !een !etraying the ack. I can assure you that Adriana .I88 !e unished.+ Aust then 1ante, Aenna,s dad, entered the room. 'She left the ro erty !efore we could find her, sir,+ he said as he !owed to my grandfather. 'I want guards around the clock searching the ro erty in case she returns,+ #rand a told 1ante. '2es, sir,+ 1ante re lied. '8et the front gate know that they are to notify me immediately if she returns,+ #rand a added. 'As you wish,+ 1ante said. 'I can hel search for her tonight if you need me,+ I told #rand a. '/o;+ he shouted, 'I want you to go to your room and get some rest,+ he added in a calmer voice. I could tell it was taking much effort on my grandfather,s art in order for him to try to remain calm with me. '1o you reali$e she could have !een leading you into a tra *+ I hadn,t thought a!out that !efore. I shuddered at the thought of !eing ca tured !y /hados. I reali$ed how close I had come to !eing under his control. I knew where grand a was coming from in looking out for my safety. >ut I knew dee down that I was stronger and faster than any werewolf. 'I,m sorry, #rand a,+ I said as I dro to my chest. ed my chin down

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'"lease, go to !ed and get some rest. 2ou have a long day ahead of you,+ he said. I silently rose from my seat, my ride a little hurt, and walked toward the door to the foyer. 'I love you, 8uke,+ #rand a called out after me. I sto would a!solutely die if anything ever ha added. 'I love you too, #rand a,+ I said and turned my head !ack around and walked out slowly making my way u the stairs !ack to my room. .ithout any further thinking I took off my clothes, threw them on the floor, and crawled into !ed. The last thought I had !efore I drifted off to slee was the evil stare Adriana had as I stared down from the iron gri she had on my neck. I secretly ho ed she would remem!er what I did to her every time she looked in the mirror. ed and looked !ack at ened to you,+ #rand a him over my shoulder as a tear !egan to roll down my face. 'I

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I woke u the ne5t morning with someone ounding on my door. I got u groggily and ut on my clothes to answer it. I stared out the door at a smiling Ava. '=ough night*+ she asked. '2ou could say that,+ I said a little grum ily as I walked toward the kitchen to get a soda. I heard her close the door !ehind me as I headed to the fridge. '.hat the hell ha ened last night* The mansion is in a fren$y this morning. I heard someone say you were attacked last night in the woods out !ack,+ said Ava. Ava went to the fridge and gra!!ed a soda of her own and we walked over to sit !y the fire lace. I told Ava the story of the revious night,s events, and knew it wouldn,t !e the last time I had to re eat it. I had ho ed to !e a!le to tell the whole grou at once !ut it seemed that wasn,t going to ha Ava. 'I,ve already !een scolded for going out alone,+ I said sarcastically. I couldn,t !elieve that Ava was giving me a hard time a!out it too after what I had !een through. 'I,m sorry, 8uke, it was wrong of me to lecture you. As your friend I should !e more su ortive,+ said Ava. 'It,s okF I know I shouldn,t have done it. I wasn,t thinking a!out what I was doing.+ Ava gave me a little shy en. 'I can,t !elieve you went out there all !y yourself,+ said

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smile. There was another knock at the door. This time Ava rose 3uickly to answer it. Aenna and (att !oth followed Ava !ack over to sit down with us. They wanted to know what ha finished I reali$ed I was really getting sick of the story. 'I wonder what she was doing out there at that time of night,+ said Ava. 'I thought she was ro!a!ly doing something she shouldn,t !e out there. That,s why I followed her,+ I re lied. 'She was in charge of watching the cameras last night. (y dad had the night off. .hen I asked him a!out the lights he called down to the desk and no!ody answered. )e immediately went to inform your grandfather that there was a ro!lem. She turned out the security lights so the cameras wouldn,t ick u her going into the woods,+ Aenna e5 lained. 'She has mentioned her 'master+ twice now. Bnce during the hone conversation I overheard. And she mentioned it again last night while she was threatening me. I think we can assume she is more than likely talking a!out /hados,+ I said. '2ou,re ro!a!ly right a!out that. .hat I don,t understand is why she would !etray the ack. It,s a crime unisha!le !y death in the shifter community,+ Aenna said. 'I wonder if she will come !ack to the mansion,+ said Ava. 'She would have to !e a com lete idiot to show her face here again,+ I said. ened, so I launched into the story of my attack again. >y the time I

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'Bk, enough a!out Adriana. Tell me what you guys found out yesterday a!out the sword,+ said Ava, conveniently changing the su!-ect. I told her everything we had learned a!out the ?oichi sword. I also told her we knew where the location to the entrance was as well. The only thing we don,t know is what we will face, not only at the entrance, !ut also what will !e waiting for us once we enter the under world. '2ou know /hados will !e guarding that thing with all the ower he can get his hands on,+ said (att. '8et,s think a!out every ty e of creature we can come u with so we can do a little research a!out how to kill them,+ I suggested. .e started with the most o!vious onesG vam ires, shifters, and witches. 'I think I can take care of any of the witches that come our way. 1emons come in all sha es and forms. I think the ones that don,t die !y hysical force will have to !e killed !y magic. I have !een studying demonology for the ast cou le years. It has sort of !ecome a ho!!y of mine. I think there are a cou le s ells I can create, es ecially now that I am more owerful, that will knock out any of the magical ones,+ Ava said. 'That leaves us retty much down to one, and that is /hados himself,+ said (att. '.hat e5actly do we know a!out /hados and his owers*+ I asked. '/hados is a shifter. )e takes the form of a !lack anther,+ Aenna started. I noticed she had icked u my la to

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and was reading from the Silent Soldiers network. Aenna continued, '/hados is also a very owerful wi$ard. So owerful that he has !een a!le to kee himself alive for over a hundred and fifty years according to this. )e has !een in control of some very dark magic for over a hundred years. Several grou s have attem ted to assassinate /hados, !ut he always seems to esca e somehow. )e has a twin !rother that is also a wi$ard. It says here that his !rother, Thados, is an ally to the Silent Soldiers,+ Aenna read. 'That,s it;+ Ava e5claimed. '.hat,s it*+ I asked. 'Thados is the key to defeating him,+ Ava said as if it were com letely o!vious to everyone. 'And how e5actly is that*+ Asked (att. '/ot Thados himself, !ut his !lood. >inding s ells made of !eings own !lood is more owerful than any other s ell. If we can create a s ell using Thados, !lood, we can !ind /hados, owers and attack. >eing twins will give their !lood the same genetic makeu ,+ Ava e5 lained. '2ou know what* That -ust might work,+ I said, '8ook and see if it tells where to find Thados, Aenna.+ '2ou,re not going to !elieve this !ut there is actually an address listed,+ Aenna said with a giggle. 'Aenna, you write down the address while I find #rand a and tell him we need a car. (eet us in the foyer when you,re

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done. Ava, you and (att gather any su

lies you might need for

a s ell -ust in case we run into trou!le,+ I told them. '8ook at you (r. fearless leader,+ Ava said with a smile. I smiled !ack at her !efore I turned and walked to the door to leave the room. I called !ack to Aenna to ack u my com uter and !ring it with her as I walked out the door. She seemed to !e the one that used it most often so it might !e handy for her to hold onto it. I found #rand a sitting in the great room reading a !ook. I was very nervous, !ut I was determined to !e the leader he ho ed I would !e. I walked to him with great confidence as I told him, 'I need a car to take us into 8ittle =ock as soon as ossi!le.+ '.hat do you need in 8ittle =ock* I,ll have anything you need delivered to the mansion, 8uke, you know that,+ he re lied. 'I need !lood from Thados,+ I !lurted out not thinking twice a!out it. That definitely got his attention. )e stood u and walked over to me to listen to what I had to say. '2ou have my attention, 8uke.+ '.e have less than two weeks to get this sword. In order to get it I have to defeat who knows what down in the its of who knows where. I have a great team to hel me with this, and we have !een doing some research.+ '#o on.+

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'.e know where the entrance to the sword,s location is, and we know how to defeat /hados. The only thing we need is !lood from Thados in order to do that,+ I said as I watched his eyes get !igger with sur rise as what I was telling him sank in. '2ou have definitely !een doing your homework I see. 2ou seem to have learned as much in a few months as I have in the ast 1% years, 8uke. I have to admit I am very im ressed indeed.+ 'I will arrange for a car under one condition. 2ou must allow me to escort you there and !ack. >efore you o!-ect let me tell you why. I romise not to interfere in any way. I want to make sure you are safe !eing away from the mansion. I also think u will have greater success with Thados if I am there. )e owes the ack a favor,+ #rand a e5 lained. )e didn,t go into detail a!out why Thados owed the ack. I didn,t care as long as we could get what we needed from him. 'Thank you, #rand a.+ #rand a called the car around on his cell as we headed for the foyer. Aenna was already there. .ithin a cou le minutes (att and Ava hurried down the stairs to -oin us. .e iled in the huge !lack limo and headed for the front gate. .e drove through little rock and headed out of town. Bnce we headed out of town I noticed that we were entering more mountainous terrain. .e drove another half hour or so down very narrow and curvy roads !efore the car slowed down and made a turn onto a gravel road.

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As soon as we made the turn onto the gravel I got a very odd feeling all of a sudden. I remem!ered that same feeling once !efore in the garden with Ava,s mom. It was the same vi!rating feeling I had when we did the ritual for Ava to o!tain her ower. '1oes anyone else feel a little weird*+ I asked. '.e crossed through some very owerful magic -ust now,+ Ava said. She answered knowing e5actly what 'feeling+ I was referring to. /ow that we had turned off the main road we were winding our way u into the mountains. The road got narrower and the forest seemed to close in around us as we clim!ed higher. #rand a e5 lained to us that Thados, much like his !rother, had ta ed into dark magic in order to stay alive for so long. )e told us that while /hados chose to use the dark magic for evil, Thados only used dark magic to survive. )e said /hados had !een trying for many years to talk Thados into -oining him. (any years ago /hados declared war against Thados and his coven. There was a great !attle !etween the !rothers, and with the hel of our ack, Thados drove his !rother away. Thados swore his allegiance to the ack at that time. As #rand a continued to e5 lain to us a!out Thados, we crossed through an iron gate into a little clearing in the forest. The car sto ed and we got out. The house we were now standing in front of was s ooky to say the least. It looked like one of those old haunted estates you see in so many horror movies. The hair on my neck ricked u as I thought a!out all

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the cra$y eo le in scary movies. The eo le you try to yell at through the TD to 'don,t go in there,+ !ut they never listen. The house was so old and run down looking that I couldn,t imagine a owerful wi$ard would ever want to live here. The yard was grown u and seemed as though no!ody had touched it in years. 'Are you sure someone lives here*+ (att asked as we stared at the old house. '1on,t let the outside deceive you,+ #rand a said. #rand a walked u the old ste s onto the front orch and we all slowly followed !ehind him. I noticed a single security camera over the door following us as we made our way u . #rand a reached the front door and ushed the door!ell and we waited for someone to answer. Aust as grand a started to ush the !ell again we heard the door click and slowly creaked o en. A young !oy that couldn,t have !een much younger than me stood in the doorway looking out at us. The !oy wore a long flowing dark !lue hooded cloak that touched the floor all around him. The hood was down and I could see that he had !londe hair. )e had a very serious look on his face !ut my attention was focused on his iercing !lue eyes that reflected the color of the cloak he was wearing as he asked us, 'Can I hel you*+ '.e are here to see your master,+ #rand a said to the !oy. '(aster is not e5 ecting any visitors today,+ the !oy re lied.

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'Tell him Samuel Carrington is here on very im ortant !usiness. .e must see him immediately,+ #rand a e5 lained. The door slammed in front of us and we looked at #rand a very confused. 'I never understood why Thados would choose trolls to serve him,+ #rand a said with a smile. 'Trolls*+ we asked curiously together. #rand a -ust nodded his head as he continued to smile and turned !ack toward the door. .e waited there for several minutes !efore the door o ened again very slowly. The !oy had returned and now motioned for us to enter. .e followed #rand a into the old house. .e looked around in awe at the room surrounding us. I now reali$ed what #rand a meant a!out the outside deceiving us. The inside of the house was immaculate. .e all turned in circles as we took in the room around us. 'If you will follow me, (aster will see you now,+ the !oy s at out at us. I couldn,t !elieve how rude he was !eing. I noticed someone coming down the stairs as we started to follow the !oy. I did a dou!le take as I reali$ed the erson coming down the stairs looked identical to the one that let us in the front door. .e followed the !oy into the ne5t room. )e told us to sit down. .e all did as he asked. '(aster will -oin you shortly,+ he said as he walked over to a door on the other side of the room. )e stood ne5t to the door

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with his hands clas ed together !ehind him as if he were standing guard over it. The room we were now sitting in a eared to !e the living room. It looked like any other normal living room. There were several doors that led out of this room. The one we came in and the one the !oy stood !eside. There was also a third door, and we all turned as it o ened. .e watched in ama$ement as three more of the little !londe !oys walked in. 'Bk, this is really weird,+ said Aenna. 'I second that,+ said Ava. '/ot everything is as it a ears. They are trolls, and they have an a earance s ell on them to hide their true nature. Trolls are 3uite odd looking. Thados changes their a earance for the comfort of his guests,+ #rand a e5 lained. The three new trolls took u osts around the room as they entered. After a few more minutes of waiting the first one o ened the door and in walked a much older man. )e was wearing a dark !lue suit and tie that was the same color as the cloaks the trolls were wearing. #rand a stood u as he entered and the man walked straight u to him with a warm smile. )e reached out to shake #rand as, hand. 'To what do I owe the honor of your visit*+ asked Thados as he and #rand a !oth took a seat. 'I hate to say it, !ut I !elieve the time has come,+ re lied #rand a. I watched as Thados, smile faded and was instantly re laced with fear.

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'These must !e the soldiers that you told me a!out, Samuel,+ Thados said, 'And you must !e 8ucas,+ he added as he motioned toward me. I wondered silently how Thados knew my name. It didn,t occur to me that he ro!a!ly knew more a!out the ro hecies than I did. 'That is correct. These are the Silent Soldiers minus one that was not a!le to -oin us today. I have to admit that they are greatly e5ceeding our e5 ectations. They have learned as much on their own in the ast few months as my team and I have learned over the ast 1% years. They also have devised a lan to defeat your !rother, which leads us to the reason for our visit. I romised 8uke I would not interfere, and so I will turn the rest over to him. I -ust want you to know he has my full su ga$e toward me. '(r. Thados, sir, we !elieve we know how to sto /hados,+ I !egan. 'I am guessing you need my assistance with something. That is the reason you are here I do !elieve. Tell me what I can do to hel . I will tell you now that I will not stand against my !rother again. I have defeated him once with the hel of your grandfather. I am much too old now. )e is far more owerful than I will ever !e,+ Thados re lied. '.e don,t re3uire you to fight with us. .e !elieve we have devised a lan to !ind his owers in order to defeat him. ort. Thados acknowledged my grandfather and turned his worried

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.e only need you to hel us with the s ell that we will use to accom lish this,+ I e5 lained. 'A !inding s ell, very interesting,+ said Thados. 'It will take great magic to roduce a s ell strong enough to !ind the owers of my !rother (r. Stallings.+ Thados added. I noted his addressing me as though I was his e3ual. I suddenly had great res ect for him. I couldn,t imagine going against my own !rother, if I had one that is. '2es, that is what we have come u with. .e only re3uire that you allow us to use some of your !lood to roduce the s ell. There is o!viously no way we could o!tain !lood directly from your !rother. .e !elieve that since you !oth share the same !lood, !eing twins, that it should work -ust the same,+ I said. '2our grandson is definitely a very intelligent !oy,+ Thados said to #rand a. 'Actually, Ava is the one that came u with the idea,+ I told him. Thados turned his attention to Ava. )e looked at her for several minutes !efore he s oke. 'I sense great ower within you, child,+ Thados said to Ava, 'I only have one 3uestion for you. )ow do you lan to erform such an intricate s ell against someone as owerful as my !rother*+ 'Ava, in fact, has devised a way to harness s ells into o!-ects. She will harness the !inding s ell into a small glass or!. >y doing this, anyone can use the ower of the s ell against

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/hados. I lan to !e the one that will get close enough to him to cast the s ell and !ring him down once and for all,+ I confidently told Thados. Aust then another of Thados, 'troll !oys+ rushed into the room une5 ectedly. .e all noticed the very startled e5 ression as he s ed to his master,s side. '(aster, we have a situation that must !e addressed immediately. Someone has crossed the rotection !arrier onto the ro erty from the /orth side of the house. 'Someone followed you here,+ the !oy snarled at #rand a. 'Silence;+ Thados shouted at the !oy. '#ather your !rothers and re are yourselves to interce t this one that chooses to tres ass onto my ro erty,+ Thados ordered. It could not have come at a worse time, !ut as the trolls left the room my sight went !lack and a new vision came into focus. I couldn,t tell e5actly where I was other than the fact that I was in cave. I could hear a woman screaming in the distance. I immediately !egan making my way toward the sound. The screams !ecame louder and more agoni$ing as I grew closer. I also !egan hearing a sna !efore each scream. I took great care in eeking around the corner to see where the screams were originating. I was horrified !y the scene !efore me. There was a gray haired woman facing the rock surface of the cave. )er arms and legs were stretched out and secured to the walls with chains. The familiar !lack cloaked figure stood several feet !ehind her with a long silver whi in his hand.

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'2ou will tell me what I want to know woman,+ )e snarled at her !efore he struck her again across an already !loody !ack. The woman screamed again in terri!le ain as smoke rose from her !ack with each strike. '2ou will have to kill me. I refuse to !etray them,+ the woman cried. '.e shall see a!out that,+ he said as he struck the woman with the whi once again. I awoke with a start as the woman cried out in ain. '8uke, are you ok*+ Ava asked as she looked down at me. 'I,m fine. I had another vision,+ I said. 'Thados and your grandfather had to go after the erson in the woods. Aenna and (att went with them. I stayed here to take care of you while they were gone.+ Aust then the door to the foyer !urst o en with a !ang. .e watched nervously as an une5 ected Adriana walked through the o en door. 'Ah; .hat a sur rise,+ Adriana said with a sneer. '8ooks like I get to kill two !irds with one stone. I came to kill a trou!le making wi$ard, and as a !onus I get to !ring my master what he desires the most,+ Adriana continued. I glared at her trying to let her know I was re ared to do more damage like the side of her face. I could tell it was healing !ut it a would leave a nasty scar. '2ou will not lay your hands on 8uke again. /ot if I have anything to do with it,+ Ava said. eared it

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'Shut u witch;+ Adriana shouted, 'I will en-oy choking the life out of you in the rocess.+ 'I see the damage I caused to your face is sticking around for a while,+ I told Adriana. '2ou want !e as lucky a second time I can assure you,+ Adriana said -ust !efore she shifted to her wolf form. I immediately shifted myself and we !oth growled at each other. 7verything else ha ened almost too fast to understand. Adriana -um ed into the air to clear the couch that stood !etween her and us. I was too focused on the wolf to see what Ava was doing !eside me, !ut there was a uff of ur le smoke all around the wolf as it flew toward us threw the air. The smoke com letely engulfed the wolf. .e heard a thud on the floor. As the smoke !egan to clear we looked down at a hel less Adriana. There was a very thin, nearly invisi!le, silver net tightly wra around Adriana in her human form. Adriana wiggled and screamed !ut it was no use. There was no way she could esca e. I looked at Adriana with wide eyes and immediately turned to Ava. Ava was standing there smiling with her hands on her hi s. I could tell she was very roud of herself for what she had -ust accom lished. 'I tried to tell you that you would not lay another hand on him, !ut you didn,t listen,+ she told Adriana with the huge smile still lastered on her face. ')ow did you do that*+ I asked after I changed !ack to my human form. ed

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'A little ca ture s ell I created,+ Ava said very roudly. 'That is ama$ing, Ava,+ I said. '8ooks like the Callan ritual is really aying off.+ .e !oth turned our ga$e !ack to Adriana. She laid motionless glaring !ack at us. '8et me go immediately,+ she s at at us. 'I really don,t think you are in any osition to !e giving orders,+ I said. '2our little trickery will never stand against my master, witch,+ Adriana said with a snarl. ')e is more owerful than you can ever dream of !eing;+ She shrieked. '.e will -ust have to see a!out that,+ Ava said. Aust then #rand a ran into the living room with a very concerned e5 ression. '.hat ha ened*+ #rand a asked. Ava and I !oth ointed down at Adriana. #rand a circled around the couch to see what we were ointing at. '2B9;+ #rand a said as a growl rose u in his chest. Adriana could think of nothing to say as she stared u at him.

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.e watched in ama$ement as #rand a gra!!ed Adriana,s feet and !egan dragging her out of the room. '.hat are you going to do with her*+ I asked. 'She will return with us to the mansion to !e -udged !y the ack,+ #rand a said as he dragged her out of the room. A few minutes later Aenna and (att came !ack into the room followed closely !y Thados, and a few of his trolls. .e all sat down again. #rand a returned and sat down with us. '/ow, where were we !efore we were rudely interru ted*+ Thados asked. 'The !inding s ell,+ Ava said. 'Ah, yes, I remem!er now,+ Thados re lied, 'I will !e more than ha y to assist you in any way I can. 7s ecially if there is a chance you can sto my !rother. )e has com letely crossed over to evil. I don,t think there is ever a chance of !ringing him !ack. 1o you have the things you need to erform this s ell that you s eak of*+ Thados asked. '2es, we do,+ Ava said. 'Dery well, we will go out into the garden and re are. "lease, follow me,+ said Thados. .e followed Thados through the house and out the !ack into a !eautiful garden. .e watched as Ava set u the circle to cast the s ell. Thados stood -ust outside the circle waiting atiently to give his donation to the rocess. Ava lit the candles as she chanted in a language I didn,t recogni$e. .hen the candles were lit she walked over to the

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ta!le that was set u in the center of the circle and gra!!ed a long ointed knife. She also got a small !owl from the ta!le as well. She walked over to Thados and he thrust out his hand toward Ava. She said a few more words and lifted the knife u to the sky. She !rought the knife down 3uickly and in one swift movement sliced a thin line across Thados, wrist. She held the !owl under his wrist as the !lood slowly ran into it. She took the !owl !ack over to the ta!le as she continued to s eak in the strange language. Ava added a few ingredients into the !owl and stirred it around with the knife. Smoke !egan to rise from the !owl and swirl around u to the sky. Ava icked u a glass !all and held it in the smoke -ust as the smoke changed colors from white to red. .e watched as the !all filled with the red smoke. The glass !all sucked the smoke right out of the air. Ava walked over and handed me the smoke filled !all. The s ell was com lete. I held the ower to !ind /hados in the alm of my hand. Thados suggested we make a few e5tra s ells -ust in case we didn,t make it with the first. I thought that was a great idea to have !ack u s, !ut also distressed that Thados didn,t !elieve in the ower of the soldiers. Ava acked u her things while we thanked Thados for his assistance. .e headed !ack through the house to the front door. '(y de!t to you has !een settled,+ I heard Thados tell #rand a.

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'I greatly a reciate your hel with this. I know you still have love for your !rother, !ut he must !e sto re lied. 'I know. If I didn,t think he needed to !e sto ed I would not have hel ed you,+ said Thados. .e said our good!yes and e5ited the house !ack into the cree y front yard. .e clim!ed !ack into the car silently. '.here is Adriana*+ I asked. '2ou didn,t think I would allow her the comfort of riding u here with us did you* I ut her in the trunk.+ #rand a said with a smile. /o !ody said much on the way !ack to the mansion. .e sat in silence thinking a!out the events of the day. .e arrived !ack at the mansion -ust as it was getting dark out. 1akota was standing on the ste s u to the house. )e greeted us as we e5ited the car. Aenna and (att walked with him !ack into the mansion !ringing him u to s eed on today,s e5citement. Two men came from inside and walked around to the trunk. They ulled Adriana out and removed the silver net from around her legs so she could walk. They led her in the front door as we followed. .e entered the elevator together to ride down to head3uarters. After #rand a removed the little key from around his neck and stuck it in the slot I knew e5actly where we were headed. The elevator !egan its descent. .hen the doors o ened we were indeed in the holding area. The men led Adriana over to one of the cells and laced her on the !ed. Bne of the men took a ed,+ #rand a

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syringe out of his ocket and gave the rotesting Adriana a shot of the clear li3uid. Adriana immediately fell silent and went to slee . I didn,t know e5actly what would ha didn,t care what ha en to Adriana, !ut at this oint she had attem ted to ca ture me twice. I really ened to her. I !elieved she deserved everything she had coming to her. I watched as they removed the silver net com letely and walked out of the cell locking it !ehind them. .e headed !ack to the elevator leaving the unconscious Adriana in the cell. .hen the doors o ened I reali$ed we were on the main floor of head3uarters. .e followed #rand a off the elevator over to 1ante, Aenna,s dad, who was osted u in front of the security camera screens. The two men that had locked u Adriana stayed on the elevator to go !ack to the main level of the mansion. ')i, dad,+ Aenna said as we a roached 1ante. ')i, !a!y girl,+ 1ante res onded. I saw Aenna !lush a little at her fathers res onse. '1ante, I need you to enter the soldiers into the com uter so they will have access to head3uarters,+ #rand a told him. 'A!solutely, (r. Carrington,+ 1ante said. .e followed 1ante over to another of the many doors located off this main floor. This room was 3uite small, and contained several ieces of com uter e3ui ment. 1ante started with me and asked me to lace my hand on what a eared to !e the same ty e of scanner

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that was on the wall of the elevator. 1ante unched the !uttons on the key!oard and I watched as the light scanned my hand. '2ou,re good to go, 8uke,+ 1ante said. 1ante continued with each of us until we were all entered into the network. 'I know you all have !een in the network already thanks to Aenna and her ama$ing talent, !ut now you can access it on your own. Aust use your full name and your tem orary assword is your !irth date. 2ou can change them !oth once you sign on. /ow if you all will head !ack u stairs to dinner, 8uke and I have a cou le things to discuss,+ said #rand a. I told them I would find them a little later and watched as they headed out the door. .hen they were gone #rand a walked over to what a eared to !e a safe. It had a key ad and he roceeded to unch in num!ers. 'I am giving you a key that will give you access to the cells. I trust that you will only use it when com letely necessary. I know you will ro!a!ly want to 3uestion Adriana. I com letely understand. I -ust ask that you take the rest of your team down there when you decide to do it. .e will not do anything with her for a few days. This should give you lenty of time to uncover the things you need to know for your coming !attle. I,m ositive with the hel of your team you will get her to talk. Ceel free to use whatever means necessary for that to ha me. I couldn,t !elieve the authority, res onsi!ility, and trust that #rand a was instilling in the soldiers. I felt much ride in en,+ #rand a told

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my heart and gained much res ect for #rand a in that very instance. #rand a dismissed me from the room to s eak to 1ante. I headed !ack u stairs to -oin my friends for dinner. I thought to myself as I headed u the elevator that no!ody had even asked a!out my vision this afternoon. There had !een so much e5citement that I hadn,t even thought a!out it myself until now. .ho could the woman have !een that /hados was torturing* It was getting retty late in the evening !y the time I reached the dinning hall, and my friends were the only ones there. ')ey, 8uke, are you ok*+ Ava asked. '2eah, I,m fine. .hy do you ask*+ I asked Ava. '2ou look as if something might !e trou!ling you,+ she re lied. 'I was -ust thinking a!out the vision I had !ack at Thados, house. I forgot to tell #rand a a!out it. It was 3uite distur!ing,+ I said. 'Tell us a!out it,+ said Aenna. 7veryone focused their attention on me as I !egan to tell them the details that I remem!ered from the vision. '.ho do you think it was that /hados was torturing like that*+ (att asked. 'I don,t have any idea,+ I re lied. 'I would think it has to !e someone significant or you ro!a!ly wouldn,t !e having a vision a!out it right*+ Ava asked.

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'2ou,re ro!a!ly right, !ut I really don,t have any idea who it could ossi!ly !e. I,ll -ust have to wait and see if I have another vision a!out it,+ I said. '#rand a ke t me down there after you guys left to give me this,+ I said as I ulled out the key he had given me. '.hat is that*+ (att asked. 'It,s the key to the elevator. It unlocks the holding area. )e suggested I take you guys down there and see what we can find out from Adriana. )e said we had a few days !efore they would decide what to do with her,+ I e5 lained. '2ou actually think she is going to tell us anything*+ Aenna asked. '#rand a said he thinks we could ro!a!ly come u with something to make her talk,+ I said. 'I,m retty good at ersuading eo le to talk,+ 1akota said with an evil grin. '.hat a!out a truth s ell*+ Ava asked. 'That would work as long as we ask her the right 3uestions,+ said (att. 'I have an idea. I don,t know for sure if it will work, !ut it,s worth a try,+ said Aenna. '8et,s hear it,+ I said. '.ell, you know that I can enter stuff through electricity right* .hat if we were to hook her u to like an 7?# machine and see if I can search her head* There is a small amount of electrical current in the !rain. (ay!e I can go in and see what

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she is thinking. I know it sounds like a long shot !ut it,s worth a try,+ Aenna e5 lained. 'That -ust might work. It is definitely worth a shot. I,ll re are a truth s ell -ust in case,+ said Ava. 'Bk, you get the s ell ready and meet us at head3uarters. 1o you think we have some ty e of e3ui ment we can use down there*+ I asked Ava. 'As a matter of fact there is a room down there that they use for eo le who have !een in-ured. There are tons of first aide su said. '8et,s do it. .e will meet you down there,+ I told Ava. .e all headed to the foyer, and Ava se arated and headed u the stairs to her room. I scanned us in at the door in the foyer and we headed for the elevator. .hen we reached the main floor of head3uarters 1ante ointed us to the medical room and we searched for something we could use. .e located the 7?# machine in the corner of the room, and searched the drawers for some of the little sticky ads that connect the electrodes to the skin. .e took the e3ui ment !ack to the elevator. .hen the doors o ened, Ava was standing inside. .e all iled in the elevator with Ava and headed down to the holding area. .e got off the elevator and reali$ed that Adriana was still unconscious. This was to our advantage for sure. I was afraid we would have to wrestle with her to get her secured for the rocedure we were a!out to erform. I went into the room lies, and I !elieve there is some e3ui ment as well,+ Ava

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that they used to test out my sunlight sensitivity and rolled the e5am ta!le out into the main room. 1akota hel ed us load Adriana onto the ta!le and get her stra ed down in case she woke u . .e hooked u all the little electrodes according to the diagram on the machine and turned it on. Aenna walked over to the machine and laid !oth hands on to of it. .e all watched as Aenna did her thing inside Adriana,s head. Several minutes assed !efore Aenna s oke. 'I,m not getting a lot of clear thoughts. It,s as though I,m looking through her eyes, !ut I,m really not getting com lete ictures,+ Aenna said. '?ee trying,+ I told her. Suddenly Adriana !egan to move a little and o ened her eyes slowly. As soon as she saw us standing around her she started to struggle. 'Bh, wow, things are a lot clearer now,+ said Aenna. '.hat the hell is she doing*+ Adriana yelled as she stared at Aenna. 'Shut u ;+ I yelled !ack at her, '.e are going to find out e5actly what you know.+ '/o; #et her out of my head. I can feel her in there,+ Adriana screamed as she made every effort to get off the ta!le. Adriana let out a fierce growl and I knew e5actly what she was a!out to do. 'She is going to change;+ I yelled. >ut Ava was already on to of it. There was suddenly a uff of smoke around Adriana. .hen the smoke cleared we noticed that the thin silver

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net was again !inding her in lace. I smiled over at Ava as Adriana !egan to scream with frustration at !eing outsmarted again. 'I am going to en-oy killing each and every one of you when I get out of here,+ hissed Adriana. 'And what e5actly makes you think you are ever getting out of here*+ I asked. '2ou really don,t think the ack will let you go after you !etrayed them do you*+ Ava asked. 'They will surely take off your head !efore they allow you to !e a mem!er of this ack any longer,+ said 1akota as he walked into one of the rooms off the main room we were in. .e waited for him to return. .hen he did he was carrying a !ig roll of duct ta e and held it u with a smile so we could all see it. )e tore off a stri of it as he re-oined the grou and fastened it securely over Adriana,s mouth. 'That should shut her u ,+ 1akota said. '8et,s continue,+ said Aenna. 'As I was saying, I can see much more clearly now that she is awake. I see a cave. Adriana is going into the cave. She is walking along a tunnel. She walks for 3uite a ways !efore she comes to what a ears to !e a dead end. She uts her hands against the wall. The wall seems to start ri ling like when you throw a stone in water. /ow she is walking through the wall. 7verything goes !lack for a second and then o ens u into a !eautiful forest. I have never seen trees and flowers like these anywhere.

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She must have entered another dimension. She is looking all around. There are creatures all around her. They are looking out at her from where they are hiding. She must have shifted !ecause she is much closer to the ground, and she is running through this forest. There is a stream on her right, and she a ears to !e following it. She is still running following the roaches the cave. She is curves of the stream. I can see another cave in the distance. She shifts !ack to human form as she a going in.+ Adriana !egan to thrash around again trying to free herself. .hen she reali$ed it was no use she !ecame still again. I could see fear and anger in her eyes as Aenna continued with a lay !y lay of her Adrianna,s actions Aenna was ulling from her head. 'She walks through the cave for 3uite some time. There are many tunnels leading off in different directions !ut she kee s straight. She comes to a stone wall with a door !locking her way any further into the tunnel. There are vam ires guarding the door. They !ow to her as she o ens the door and walks in. She enters a room that is com letely em ty e5ce t for someone standing in the middle of it. It,s a tall figure standing there. It is wearing a !lack cloak with a hood ulled u over its head. She is walking around to stand in front of the erson. .ait, the room is not em ty. There is a small stone edestal in the center of the room holding u E It,s the sword;+ Aenna e5claimed. Aenna let go of the machine and looked around at us.

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'I think we -ust found out how to get to the sword,+ Aenna said, 'The figure in the room was standing over the sword moving his hands around it slowly. 7very time he got too close to it !lue s arks would fly and he would -erk his hands !ack very 3uickly,+ Aenna e5 lained. 'I,m guessing he can,t take it for himself,+ Ava said. '.hat else did you see*+ (att asked. '1id you see what we might !e u against*+ 1akota asked. 'The only creatures I saw were the ones after she walked through the wall and the two vam ires at the door into the room with the sword,+ she said. 'Surely he has more than a few demons and a cou le vam ires rotecting the sword,+ I said. 'That,s all I saw,+ said Aenna. I walked over to the head of the e5am ta!le that Adriana was securely fastened to. I reached down and took hold of the corner of the ta e over her mouth and gave it a swift ull yanking it off of her face. Adriana let out a scream. 'I want you to tell us what /hados has rotecting the sword,+ I told Adriana. 'I,m not telling you anything,+ she re lied. '2ou can either tell us, or we can go !ack in your head. Bne way or another we will find out,+ I said.

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'The least you can do after !etraying the ack is to tell us what we need to know,+ said (att. I watched as Adriana closed her eyes. A few seconds later she o ened them. 'Bnly /hados himself knows the rotection he has u around that sword,+ she !egan in a much softer voice. If I hadn,t already !een through so much cra with her I might have felt a little sorry for her. '2ou will never defeat /hados. )e is more owerful than you could ever imagine,+ She said. '.e have a few tricks u our sleeve,+ said Ava. I could tell Adriana truly !elieved that there was no way we would ever over ower /hados. 'I know I am as good as dead now, !ut I honestly can,t tell you what I don,t know. /hados kee s everything secret. )e doesn,t trust any!ody, not even me,+ Adriana said as a tear ran out the corner of her eye. I don,t know why, !ut I actually !elieved her. .e untied Adriana and ut her !ack in her cell while Ava stood ready to throw another ca ture s ell at her if she got out of line. She went 3uietly !ack in and we ut away the e3ui ment we had !een using. .e were headed !ack to the elevator when another vision hit me. This was the same vision as !efore. I followed the sound of the woman screaming to find /hados torturing her with the whi again. )e continued to whi her, and she continued to scream. This time, -ust !efore the vision ended, the woman

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raised her face toward the to of the cave and screamed with all of her might, '8uke, lease hel me;+ I woke u with my friends starring down at me again. 'She knows me;+ I e5claimed.

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16
'.ho knows you*+ asked Ava. 'She called out to me. She said my name. She was !egging me to hel her,+ I e5 lained. '2ou can,t tell who the woman is*+ 1akota asked. '/o, I can only see her from !ehind. I haven,t seen her face, !ut from the !ack she doesn,t look like anyone I know.+ (att hel ed me off the floor. .e went !ack to the main floor of the mansion. .e came to #rand a,s room and I sto ed to knock on the door. /o!ody answered so we continued on into the foyer. I went into the great room and no!ody was there either. I really wanted to talk to #rand a a!out what we had found out from Adriana. I also wanted to tell him a!out my vision. #uess it would have to wait until morning. .e all headed u stairs and went to our own rooms in silence. I decided to take a shower !efore I clim!ed into !ed for the night. I called the kitchen and asked them to !ring me u something to eat !efore I got in. .hen I got out of the shower my dinner was waiting for me on the !ar. I signed into the Silent Soldiers network while I ate. I wasn,t looking for anything in articular, !ut I wanted to check it out anyway. I !rowsed through the files on each of us. I noticed they had u dated Ava, (att, and Aenna,s owers. I finished eating and ut my la to away. I didn,t see anything on the network that I didn,t already know. I turned out all the lights and clim!ed into !ed. I didn,t reali$e how tired I was. I fell aslee

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instantly. I woke u the ne5t morning feeling rested. I couldn,t !elieve I actually woke u on my own. 9sually some!ody was knocking on my door at the crack of dawn. I looked at the clock on my hone and noticed it was getting close to noon. I gra!!ed my com uter and sli dinning hall. I noticed that more and more eo le were starting to !e in the dinning hall for meals. I knew it was getting close to time for school to start !ack and every!ody was finishing u their vacations. I went in and re3uested a sandwich and chi s and waited while they got it together. I took my lunch and gra!!ed a soda out of the fridge and headed for the li!rary. As I headed through the great room to get to the classrooms and li!rary I noticed #rand a sitting ne5t to the fire lace. I decided now was as good a time as any to tell him a!out the visions. I walked over to where he was sitting. ')i #rand a, how are you today*+ I asked. '.ell, hello 8uke, I,m doing 3uite well. )ow are you*+ he asked. 'I wanted to tell you a!out the visions I had yesterday if that,s ok.+ 'Bf course you can, 8uke, have a seat,+ said #rand a. I !egan telling him a!out the visions, and the difference !etween the first and second one. 'The woman calls out to me for hel , #rand a,+ I told him. ed out of my room heading for the

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'Can you tell who the woman is*+ )e asked. '/o, I only ever see her from the !ack,+ I said. 'I feel like I,m !eing ulled to hel this woman, !ut I have no idea where to even !egin to find her,+ I said. 'I,m sure in time it will !ecome clear what you are su osed to do, 8uke,+ #rand a said. 'I,m sure you,re right,+ I re lied. 'I think we need to go after the sword soon,+ I said. 'I was lanning to talk to you all this evening once 1akota has risen, !ut yes I agree we should go soon,+ he re lied. '8et,s meet downstairs this evening so we can discuss the mission,+ I said. 'I will meet you all -ust after dark,+ #rand a re lied. I told #rand a I was going to do a little studying in the li!rary and that we would definitely see him this evening. I sent out a te5t message to everyone letting them know the lans. I told them I would !e in the li!rary, and that they should all come to head3uarters -ust after dark. I had never !een to the li!rary !efore. I had seen the sign on the door in the hallway that held all of the classrooms. .hen I entered the hall I noticed it was com letely dark e5ce t for light coming from one o en classroom a!out halfway down. I searched the walls for a light switch with no luck. I walked slowly down the hall listening for any sound of movement or voices. As I a roached the o en doorway I !egan to hear voices

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in the room. I sto

ed and listened to see if I could tell who was

in the room !efore I assed the doorway. There were a num!er of different voices that I could hear. I knew there were several eo le in the room. The only voice I recogni$ed was that of the elf, Aack, which rotected me from the attack !y /hados. I listened closely to what was !eing said. 'Iueen 7$elah has in fact !een a devoted ally to this ack for many years. They have fought at her side through many !attles,+ I heard Aack say. 'And the Iueen greatly a reciates all the ack has done for the faerie world,+ a female voice said. 'I -ust don,t know what we faeries can do to assist the ack against such great ower,+ another female added. I had inched my way as close to the doorway as ossi!le without anyone inside the room !eing a!le to see me in the hall. I couldn,t resist sneaking a eek into the room once I was close enough. I wanted to see who Aack was talking to, so I moved my head close enough to see into the room with one eye. I heard someone say, 'Some!ody,s out there,+ and instantly heard several little o s, like the sound of a cork shooting out of a !ottle. Aack was standing on the little latform at the head of his class as though he were teaching. .hen I looked around the class there was no!ody there. I could see a shimmering dust on to of

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several of the desks along the front row. It looked as though someone had s rinkled glitter on them. '8uke, what are you doing here*+ Asked Aack in a confused voice. 'I was headed to the li!rary when I heard voices coming from your class. I was -ust going to sto in and say hi,+ I said, not telling him the whole truth, '.ho were you talking to*+ I asked looking around the room once again. 'It,s safe, guys,+ Aack said. Again I heard the little o s and my eyes grew large as I reali$ed what was making the noises. '.hat are they*+ I asked as I inched my way closer to Aack. I tri ed over the latform where Aack stood and nearly fell flat on my face !efore I caught myself. 'T)72, are faeries,+ Bne of the tiny little creatures said from the to of the desk where they all stood. 'Are you for real*+ I asked giggling, '2ou,ve got to !e kidding me.+ I watched in shock as one of the little creatures darted off the desk and gra!!ed the front of my shirt with its tiny little hand and lifted me off the floor. '/7D7= 3uestion our e5istence,+ I recogni$ed as the male voice I heard from the hall. '"ut him down, =alah,+ said Aack. 'I,m sorry. I didn,t mean to offend you,+ I said as I stared at the tiny little man. )e slowly lowered me !ack to the floor and took his lace ne5t to the other tiny faeries standing on

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the desk. They all were a!out three inches tall with trans arent little wings coming out of their !acks. They seemed to shimmer much like the dust that littered the desks I saw when I entered the room. 'This is 8uke, (r. Carrington,s grandson,+ said Aack. ')ello,+ I said shyly. 'It is definitely an honor to meet you,+ said one of the female faeries. I gave her a little nod and a smile as I noticed the faerie Aack called =alah scowling at her. 'I am very sorry I interru ted your meeting,+ I said. 'It,s ok, 8uke,+ said Aack. '.e will deliver your message to Iueen 7$elah, and will return with her answer to your re3uest soon,+ said =alah. 'Dery well,+ said Aack, I ho e to hear from you soon.+ .ith that the faeries !egan to o and disa ear as I stared at them in dis!elief. As each one vanished I could see the shimmering, glitter like dust float slowly down to the to of the desk. =alah disa eared lastly and I turned to look at Aack. 'It,s great to see you again, 8uke,+ he said adding that faeries were so messy leaving their dust everywhere they went. '2ou too, Aack,+ I res onded. 'I guess you are wondering what they were doing here,+ said Aack. '.hat*+ I asked. (y mind was still occu ied with the thought of the faeries that were now gone.

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'The faeries,+ Aack said, HI was trying to convince them to fight with us against /hados. Caeries are very reluctant to go into !attle, !ut we can use all the hel we can get.+ 'Bh,+ I re lied. 'I sent word to the Iueen that we would a hel when we face /hados,+ said Aack. '.e*+ I asked, 'I thought the Silent Soldiers were going alone.+ 'I will not allow you to go to !attle alone;+ Aack e5claimed. 'I see,+ I said, !ut really didn,t know what he meant !y it. 'I must !e off. I have much to do !efore the !attle,+ said Aack. '.ait;+ I said !ut it was too late. Aack had already vanished !efore I could finish what I was going to say. I left his classroom very confused a!out what -ust ha ened. I didn,t understand what he meant a!out having a lot to do !efore !attle. I assumed my friends and I were going to get the sword on our own. #rand a never mentioned anyone going with us. I shook away the thoughts that were running through my head as I headed for the li!rary. I ushed o en the door to the li!rary and let out a '.B.;+ as I entered the magnificent room. The room contained two levels. Along the first level, on all four walls, were shelves full of !ooks. The shelves were so tall that a ladder was attached reciate their

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to rollers running the length of each wall. A set of stairs led u to a walkway that ran along the erimeter of the room on the second level. It mirrored the first level with the shelves full of !ooks and the ladders. In the center of the ceiling hung a magnificent chandelier that shed a dull light around the entire room. The light was not very !right, !ut it was more than enough light to see the shelves of !ooks. The center of the room was filled with rectangle sha ed ta!les with chairs at each one. 7ach ta!le contained a lam that lit them u with !righter light for reading. The ta!les were arranged in two rows. At the end of the row of ta!les was a desk with a com uter on it. I walked over to the com uter and moved the mouse and the screen came to life. A screen came on that identified the com uter as the card catalog. I had learned how to use the card catalog in school so I decided to get to work. I originally came to the li!rary -ust to see what ty e of !ooks were here, !ut now I had something to research. I ty ed in Caeries into the !o5 on the screen and clicked the search !utton. I -otted down the num!ers it gave me and !egan searching the shelves of !ooks. I had to go to the second level !efore I found the section that contained the !ook I was looking for. I found it retty easily and ulled it from the shelf to carry !ack to a ta!le on the first level. I took a second and looked at some of the other titles. There were !ooks on vam ires, and werewolves, and all kinds of other creatures I had no idea even e5isted. I gra!!ed one titled 1emonology. I also ulled another one titled Su ernatural

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>eings 75 lained. I headed down the stairs to look at what I had found. I o ened the !ook a!out Caeries first and !egan scanning the ages. I learned that faeries not only had great strength, which I witnessed first hand only a few minutes earlier. They also were !eings that could 3uickly and easily travel !etween different dimensions. I learned several other interesting facts a!out faeries as I continued to scan the !ook. As I closed the !ook and ut it to the side I heard the door o en !ehind me. I turned to see who it was as Ava closed the door and walked toward me. ')i,+ I said as she took a seat across the ta!le from me. ')i 8uke, what are you reading*+ She asked. '.ell, I was looking through this !ook a!out faeries,+ I said. '.hy are you reading a!out faeries*+ She asked giggling. 'I had a strange encounter with some a few minutes ago. I found Aack talking to several in his classroom on my way here,+ I e5 lained, 'I -ust wanted to find out a little more a!out them. '=eally*+ Ava asked. I told her what all ha way to the li!rary as she listened intently. '.ow;+ she e5claimed, 'I thought it would -ust !e us going after the sword.+ ened on my

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'2eah me too. #rand a never said anything to us a!out having hel ,+ I said. 'Aack must !e organi$ing hel for us on his own,+ said Ava, '>ut why would he do that*+ 'I don,t really know, !ut he made it very clear that he would not allow us to go to !attle alone,+ I didn,t tell her he said he wouldn,t allow 'me+ to go alone. 'Something seems weird a!out this,+ Ava said. '.hat do you mean*+ 'Cirst, Aack shows u at -ust the right time to rotect you from those vam ires and /hados. And second, he seems to !e taking it u on himself to organi$e hel for our mission,+ she e5 lained, '1oes that not seem a little weird to you*+ 'I guess,+ I said a little confused a!out what she was getting at. Suddenly there was a o , and =alah stood in the middle of the ta!le staring u at me. Ava and I -um ed at the noise. .e !oth stared !ack at him shocked with his sudden a earance. 'Iueen 7$elah re3uests your resence,+ =alah said with a hint of disgust in his voice. I guessed he still had hard feelings toward me a!out interru ting them earlier. '.ho*+ Ava asked. =alah turned his head around shar ly to glare at Ava and I saw her move !ack away from him slightly. '7$elah is the Iueen of the faeries,+ I e5 lained to Ava.

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'The Iueen sent me. She asked that I !ring you to our world to s eak with her,+ said =alah. 'I will only go if Ava can come with me,+ I told =alah confidently. 'Cine, !ut we must leave this instant. There is not much time if we are to successfully o!tain the ?oichi sword,+ he e5 lained. '.hat*+ Ava and I !oth asked as he threw the familiar shimmering dust toward !oth of us. The dust flew at our faces at the same time. I heard the o sound faeries make when they a ear and disa ear. I couldn,t see anything. I !egan to scream as I felt myself falling through the air.

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17
It seemed like several minutes that I had !een falling, !ut it couldn,t have !een more than a few seconds. I felt myself slow down and suddenly made contact with something solid and reali$ed I was lying on my !ack. I o ened my eyes and was starring u at a !eautiful !lue sky. I had never seen a sky as !lue as the one I was looking at now. I stood u 3uickly and found Ava. I hel ed her to her feet and we !oth turned in circles taking in our surroundings. .e were standing in the middle of a forest. There were trees all around us reaching u to the sky. The lants and flowers located around the floor of the forest were unlike any I had ever seen. They were all sha es and si$es from the tiniest little !loom to some that were nearly as !ig as we were. The colors were so !right they a eared as though someone had ainted them. Ava and I were !oth s eechless. 'Collow me,+ I heard =alah say in the distance. Ava and I !oth turned toward his voice and stared in ama$ement. I wasn,t sure if he had grown or if we had shrunk, !ut he was now the si$e of a normal human. '.here are we*+ I asked. 'I have !rought you to the faerie world to see the Iueen. 2ou two look as though you have seen a ghost,+ =alah laughed. '2ou,re so !ig;+ Ava e5claimed. '/o, I am my normal si$e. It is you two that are so tiny. The faerie world is 3uite small, and we can,t have some !ig

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giants walking around crushing our world under their huge feet,+ =alah e5 lained. .e had !een shrunk down to =alah,s si$e. 'This way,+ =alah said as he turned and !egan walking away from us. Ava and I started following him and continued looking around at the !eautiful forest that surrounded us. .e walked for several minutes !efore a tree, much larger than any others we saw in this forest, came into view in the distance. =alah told us we were nearly there as we continued to follow him. The tree seemed as large as the mansion. As we got closer I noticed several o enings !ig enough for us to walk through u and down its trunk. =alah sto ed -ust !efore we reached the !ase of the tree. .e nearly ran into the !ack of him as we stared u at the huge tree !efore us. )e e5 lained that he would have to carry us u to the Iueen,s level. )e gra!!ed the !ack of our shirts with each of his hands and we were suddenly flying u toward the to of the tree. .e made it nearly to the to !efore he swoo ed into an o ening in the tree and dro ed us to the floor. .e were standing in a room inside the tree now. 7verything was made of wood, leaves, and other things found in the forest. There was furniture in the room all fashioned from forest materials. Ava and I !oth caught sight of the over si$ed chair at the same time. A !eautiful faerie sat in this chair. She had long !eautiful curly !londe hair. She had a!solutely the !rightest !lue eyes ever. She wore a very long flowing dress that nearly matched the color of

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her eyes. She also wore a crown of flowers on her head. I knew immediately that this must !e Iueen 7$elah. '"lease, come,+ she said in a soft mesmeri$ing voice. .e walked toward her as I continued to take in her !eauty. .e walked over to stand in front of her and watched as she motioned to one of the other faeries in the room. This faerie was a !oy a!out our age. )is clothes were made of leaves and things found in the forest. )e had a very muscular !uild and was nearly as !eautiful as the Iueen herself. )e gra!!ed two chairs and !rought them over for us to sit in. 'Thank you, son,+ said 7$elah. '(other,+ he said with a little !ow to the Iueen. 'I understand you are ready to lead the Silent Soldiers to ac3uire the ?oichi sword,+ she !egan. '2es ma,am,+ I re lied. The Iueen wasted no time getting to the oint. 'I !elieve we can make it a very sim le task for you, 8uke. That is if you are willing to acce t the hel of the faeries. .e owe your grandfather and the ack tremendously. I have decided to hel him with this task. Aack asked us to -oin in !attle, !ut I don,t !elieve there needs to !e any sort of !attle to o!tain the sword. (ekah, my son, has scouted the area and finds it to !e lightly guarded at the resent time. 'I !elieve that =alah can take you into the underworld and get the sword very 3uickly,+ said 7$elah.

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'I really don,t think it,s safe for 8uke to go down there alone,+ said Ava. 7$elah !egan to e5 lain how =alah could take me in to the sword undetected and get me !ack out !efore anyone knew the sword was gone. 'So you have !een scouting the sword for a while now* )ow is that ossi!le when Aack only s oke with =alah a!out it less than an hour ago*+ I asked 3uite confused. '(y dear !oy, a few minutes in the human dimension is the e3uivalent to several hours in the faerie world. In the s an of an hour since =alah s oke with Aack we have had days to scout around where the sword is located,+ 7$elah e5 lained. 'Bh,+ I re lied. 'So he is going to take you directly into the cave, gra! the sword, and !ring you straight !ack out -ust like that*+ Ava asked. '(ore or less, you are correct,+ said 7$elah. 'I don,t like this idea one little !it; .e have !een training and lanning for 3uite some time now for this mission. /ow the two of you are -ust going to dance your way in there and !ring the sword out alone* I want allow you to go alone;+ Ava yelled. 'This is not your decision child. 8uke is the only one that can o!tain the sword. It must !e him that decides to go through with this lan,+ 7$elah told Ava. (y mind was racing as I thought of what the Iueen said a!out getting the sword so easily. It would !e awesome to -ust go

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in and gra! it and get out without having to fight /hados or any of his minions. I was sna ed !ack to reality at the sound of Ava and the Iueen !ickering !ack and forth a!out my safety. 'I,m going with him or he doesn,t go at all,+ I heard Ava say as she and the Iueen glared at each others stu!!ornness. 'I agree that Ava should go with me if we are going to do this,+ I said, 'I really would rather the whole team go, !ut if they can,t at least I will have Ava. 'Dery well, if she must go then I must send another faerie with you. (y son, (ekah, will accom any Ava and =alah will take you,+ The Iueen told us. I could sense the Iueen was not leased at all !y this turn of events, !ut she agreed none the less. '.e must leave at once, my 3ueen,+ =alah said. Ava and I turned toward his voice and noticed he and (ekah were now standing right !ehind us. Iueen 7$elah motioned for us to stand. (ekah walked around the chair to stand !eside Ava while =alah did the same taking his lace !eside me. '.e will arrive in the underworld -ust outside the cave entrance where the sword is located. .e all will !e invisi!le, and the two of you will continue to !e our si$e. .e will carry you straight into the cham!er where the sword is !eing held. .e will have to make 8uke his normal si$e in order for him to actually take the sword. Bnce he has it we will shrink him again and come !ack here,+ =alah e5 lained, '.e should !e !ack here in a matter of minutes.+

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'I ho e y,all know what you,re talking a!out,+ Ava said sarcastically. /o!ody res onded to Ava,s sarcasm. The Iueen only glared down at her. '8et,s do this,+ I said. The two faeries standing !eside us threw the dust in our faces again and we o ed into the darkness as we had !efore. The only difference this time was we didn,t seem to !e falling. I could feel =alah,s gri on the neck of my shirt. I seemed to !e hanging in lace. The ne5t second we were standing in another forest looking u at a massive hole in the side of a mountain. I immediately reali$ed this must !e the cave entrance that =alah e5 lained to us. =alah told Ava and I to stay there while he and (ekah searched the area. I looked around and noticed that we a eared to !e in some sort of tunnel. The inside was fairly dark and there was light shinning at !oth ends. I walked over to the entrance of the tunnel where I reali$ed it wasn,t a tunnel at all. .e were actually standing in a hollow log. '8uke, I don,t trust them one !it,+ Ava said. I turned to face her. '.hat do you mean*+ I asked. 'Caeries are not to !e trusted. They are very clever and cunning creatures. They are not always what they a studied their culture,+ Ava said. 'So you think this all might !e a tra or something*+ I asked confused. ear to !e. I have always !een fascinated with the faerie race, so I have

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'I don,t think it,s a tra as much as I think there is a reason they are hel ing us. Caeries only do things that will !enefit themselves in the long run. .e -ust need to !e very careful and kee our eyes on those two,+ Ava ointed as I turned to see =alah and (ekah coming !ack to the log. 'Its all clear,+ (ekah said as they a roached us and gra!!ed the collar of our shirts. =alah lifted me into the air and we were instantly flying into the cave. .e flew through the cave for a while and noticed several tunnels leading in different directions from the main corridor in which we were traveling. I remem!ered Aenna,s e5 lanation of the cave as she searched through Adriana,s mind. I noticed in the distance a door in the wall of the cave as we came to the end of the corridor. I was shocked that we hadn,t noticed a single guard since we arrived here. .here could they ossi!ly !e* .hy would /hados risk leaving the sword unguarded* I had the !i$arre feeling that something !ad was going to ha en. .e all watched as =alah flew u to the door handle and turned it. The door slowly !egan to o en. .e walked through the door and into an em ty room. This room was com letely dark e5ce t for the dull torch light that shone from the corridor outside. I watched as Ava raised her hands toward one wall of the room and a flame shot out from her fingerti s and a torch hanging there !urst into flames lighting the room. =alah lifted his hand toward me and threw dust causing me to grow instantly to my normal si$e.

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I looked at the stone edestal in the center of the room and the !eautiful sword mounted on to of it. I could not !elieve we were this close to the sword and not a single dro of !lood had !een shed. I walked over to the sword and stared at it com letely mesmeri$ed !y its !eauty. I slowly reached out and took hold of the handle. As soon as my hand gras ed the handle a !rilliant white light filled the room. I can,t descri!e in words the feeling I got with the sword now in my hand. I can only say that an overwhelming ower flowed through my !ody and the light !ecame !righter and !righter causing me to close my eyes. (y !ody slowly !egan to calm after the surge of ower. I slowly o ened my eyes. The light was now gone as I looked around the room. Ava stood -ust !ehind me and to my left. She was also !ack to her normal si$e. She stood there staring at me with her eyes wide. '.hat*+ I asked confused. .hy was she looking at me like that* She didn,t say anything as she !egan to search in her urse for something. She walked over to me and handed me her com act. 'I don,t think I need any makeu right now,+ I said with a giggle. '9se the mirror goofy,+ she re lied. I o ened the com act with the sword still gras ed firmly in my hand and looked at my reflection in the mirror. I couldn,t !elieve what I was seeing. (y hair was no longer the !londe shade that it had !een all my life. Instead it was now as white as snow, and my

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eyes were as !lue as the ocean. Then I noticed my arm holding the com act and -um ed a little in sur rise as I noticed my clothes were different as well. I was now wearing a solid white leather -acket. I s un around looking down at what I was wearing. I reali$ed my ants and shoes were white as well. '.hat the hell ha ened to me*+ I asked as I looked !ack u at Ava. She was still staring at me as though I had turned into a ghost. I wasn,t com letely sure I hadn,t the way I was dressed in all white with white hair. 'I@I@I@I don,t know,+ she stuttered. 'Ava, sna out of it. It,s -ust me,+ I told her. 'It o!viously was something to do with the sword,+ she said. '.here are the faeries* And how did you get !ack to your regular si$e like me*+ I asked. '.hen I o ened my eyes, after the flash of light, I was like this. I have no idea where the faeries went. )ow in the cra are we going to get out of here now*+ She asked with a touch of anic in her voice. 'I don,t know, !ut we definitely need to go /B.;+ I e5claimed. '2eah I don,t want to !e anywhere near this lace when /hados returns. I really can,t understand why he isn,t here,+ she said. '(e either, !ut we need to get moving. Aenna descri!ed the way to the cave from the entrance. (ay!e we can find our

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way out,+ I said as I gra!!ed the swords sheath and ut the sword inside it. I attached the sword to my !ack and headed for the door. Ava and I ran down the corridor toward the cave entrance. .hen we reached the first tunnel that !ranched off I sto ed dead in my tracks. '1id you hear that*+ I asked. ')ear what*+ asked Ava. I suddenly reali$ed that the sound I heard must !e too far away for Ava to have icked it u . I motioned for her to !e 3uiet as I listened with all my might. ')78";+ I heard a voice yell from the tunnel. 'Someone is down there,+ I told Ava. '1ude, I still don,t hear anything,+ she said. 'It,s too far for you to hear, !ut someone is yelling for hel down there. .e have to go see a!out them,+ I said. '/o way; .e are getting out of here right now;+ Ava e5claimed. 'It will only take a second. (ay!e it,s the woman from my vision. I can,t leave her here if it is,+ I said as I darted down the tunnel. I heard Ava sigh as she saidF '.ait for me.+ .e ran down the tunnel as 3uickly as Ava could move. I listened closely as we made our way toward the voice. I could hear the woman,s lea for hel as we made our way closer. The tunnel was -ust light enough for us to find our way through. .e could see light ahead of us and I knew we must !e getting close.

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')78";+ the woman yelled again. .e slowed down nearly to a sto as we reali$ed how close we were to the voice. The tunnel made a shar turn. I slowly took a eek around the corner. I was looking at the end of the tunnel we were in. There were torches lighting the area. I immediately caught sight of the woman from my visions. She was chained facing the wall with her hands raised toward the ceiling -ust like in my vision. I was very ha whi y to learn that she was alone down here and not !eing I gra!!ed Ava !y the hand and we darted into the area where the woman was. ')ello*+ I said to the woman. '.ho,s there*+ The woman asked, horrified to find out she was no longer alone. She slowly turned her head to look at us. The woman was truly horrified as she antici ated who she would find. I could see that her cheeks were stained with tears. The dress covering her !ack was now torn !loody threads. '.ho are you*+ the woman asked in a shaky voice. 'I,m 8uke, and this is Ava,+ I told her. I heard the woman inhale suddenly. 'I knew you would come,+ said the woman, 'I have !een calling out to you for days. I sensed you could hear me.+ '2ou know who we are*+ asked Ava. ed !y /hados.

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'.ell, !y looking at you I can see much resem!lance to =achel. I am guessing you must !e her daughter. And I definitely know 8ucas,+ the woman told Ava. '.ho are you, and how do you know my mother*+ asked Ava. 'I am 7li$a!eth Carrington. I am your grandmother, 8ucas,+ the woman said. I immediately drew the sword with my right hand as I gra!!ed Ava,s hand and ulled her !ack away from the woman chained to the wall. '8et,s go,+ I said as the woman stared at us in horror at the thought of us leaving her there. '8uke, we can,t leave your grandmother here,+ Ava said with nearly the same horrified look as my grandmother held. 'She is a traitor,+ I said with disgust. Ava and I looked u at the chained woman as she !egan to so! with tears running down her cheeks. 'Bh, 8ucas, that is so very far from the truth. I could never !etray my family or my ack. I have !een a risoner here since you were !orn. /hados ca tured me shortly after I told your mother a!out all the visions I had of you. I have wondered all these years why your grandfather never came to rescue me,+ The woman e5 lained. ')ow can we know you are telling the truth*+ I asked. '8ucas, you have to !elieve what I am telling you. "lease don,t leave me down here to !e tortured any longer,+ my grandmother said as she !egan to cry again.

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I let go of Ava,s wrist and in one swift movement I moved close and sliced through the chains with the sword. I gra!!ed !oth of the chains and wra ed them around my hand and turned the woman around toward me. 'I am taking you !ack to #rand a so he can deal with you,+ I told her. '.e have to find a way to get !ack to the mansion,+ I told Ava. I ulled the woman with me as I walked !ack over to Ava and returned the sword to my !ack. '.e must hurry !ack to the mansion. I overheard /hados talking. )e said they were going to attack tonight. I can show you the way,+ said my grandmother as she followed us down the tunnel. 'That e5 lains why no!ody was guarding the sword. .e have to hurry. Bur family and friends could !e in great danger if she is telling us the truth,+ I said. .e !roke into a run and in no time we were at the cave entrance looking out into the very strange looking forest. '.e must follow that stream !ack to the entrance,+ #randma said. .e ran through the forest following the stream for a while !efore #randma told us to sto . Ava and I turned around to look at her. '>etween those two huge trees that are close together is the entrance to our dimension. All we have to do is walk through those trees and we will return to The 1evil,s 1en in the 7arth realm,+ my grandmother e5 lained.

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'8et,s go,+ I said. .e ran over to the trees and slowed to a walk as we went !etween them. 7verything went dark like Aenna had descri!ed and then we were in another cave. .e walked down the tunnel and out into the cris night air. '.e are not too far from the mansion. I want you to stay here with her, Ava. I,m going to run home and !ring a car !ack to ick you u . It shouldn,t take more than a cou le minutes to get !ack here with my s eed and all,+ I told them. '.e can,t stay here. .hat if they come !ack while we are waiting for you*+ asked Ava. '#ood oint. I hadn,t thought a!out that. 8et,s do this then. .alk along this highway !ut stay -ust out of sight in the woods. .e don,t want any assers!y seeing you ulling her along !y chains. And we definitely don,t want /hados or any of his men finding you. I will te5t you when I get here with the car,+ I e5 lained. 'That sounds a lot !etter,+ said Ava. I took off toward the mansion running as fast as my su er s eed would take me. It felt ama$ing running so fast. It was the first time I had used my s eed out in the o en. I made it !ack to the mansion in no time. I didn,t !other going through the gate I cut through the woods and -um ed over the fence. .hen I got to the house there were eo le everywhere outside. I noticed (att standing !y the front door and I sto ed running only inches from his side. (att earing out of nowhere so -um ed at the sight of someone a

close to him. )e calmed a little when he reali$ed it was me.

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'8uke, where have you !een* And what ha you*+ asked (att as he looked me u and down.

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'It,s a very long story that I really don,t have time to tell you right now. .hat ha ened here*+ I asked. '/hados, army attacked us while you were gone. And on to of that Adriana is gone,+ said (att. 'Sounds like we !oth have long stories to tell. I need you to do me a favor while I go and talk to #rand a. Take a car and go to The 1evil,s 1en and ick u Ava. .hen you get close te5t her, and she will come out to the road to meet you. She is walking in the woods following the road !ack here,+ I e5 lained to (att, '.e can talk a!out everything later. 1o you know where #rand a is*+ '8ast time I saw him he was in the great room,+ re lied (att. I left (att telling him to lease hurry to ick u Ava as I walked in the front door of the mansion. I s rinted through the foyer and into the great room. I found #rand a sitting in a chair with his head in his hands. )e looked u as I a roached him. I saw relief s read across his face as he -um ed u from his seat to hug me. '8uke, you have no idea how worried I have !een. I have half the ack out looking for you. I see you have ut yourself in great danger for the second time !y going to the underworld alone,+ he said as his relief turned to anger. '#rand a, I will tell you everything. =ight now I have something very im ortant to tell you. (att is going to ick u

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Ava right now, and she has a risoner with her. .e must re are for their return,+ I told him. '"risoner* .ho have you taken risoner, 8uke*+ #rand a asked. '2ou will never !elieve this, !ut we have !rought your wife 7li$a!eth !ack from the underworld. She claims she has !een a risoner all these years,+ I said as I watched #rand a,s face fill with anguish at the thought of his traitor of a wife coming !ack to the mansion.

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I told #rand a a!out finding #randma chained to the wall in retty !ad sha e. I also told him everything she told us a!out never !etraying him or the ack. #rand a was s eechless as he stared down at me. '.hy did you go to the underworld !y yourself, 8uke* It was very irres onsi!le of you to take the risk,+ said #rand a. I started !y telling him a!out the meeting I interru ted !etween Aack and the faeries. I then told him all a!out Ava and I !eing taken to the faerie world to meet with the Iueen. #rand a listened intently as I e5 lained the events of the day. .hen I finished telling him everything he was 3uiet for a few seconds. .hen he s oke again all he could say was, 'faeries;+ I waited for him to say something else, and when he didn,t I asked, '.hat,s wrong #rand a*+ '8uke, you must never trust the faeries. They may seem wonderful in the !eginning, !ut their good deeds only !enefit themselves in the end. 7ven if it causes harm to the ones they are hel ing.+ 'That,s the same thing Ava said, !ut we were already in the underworld when she decided to share the information.+ '8uke, I understand that the faeries tricked you into doing this. And I am greatly relieved that you were a!le to o!tain the ?oichi sword unharmed, !ut you still have much to learn.

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2ou sim ly can not go off on your own. 2ou have to rely on your team to hel you.+ 'I know #rand a,+ was all I could say as I hung my head in shame. I was saved from the uncomforta!le situation as (att !urst through the doors into the great room. '8uke, Ava has taken her straight to the holding area. I think we should go down and make sure everything is in order,+ (att said. I stood and headed toward the door. I sto standing there staring at me. '#rand a, you have to come with us. 2ou know Aenna can find out if she is telling the truth,+ I told him. #rand a closed his eyes for a few seconds. .hen he finally o ened them he slowly made his way over to us. '(att, we need Aenna and 1akota to meet us down there,+ I said. '.ay ahead of you, dude. I te5t them to meet us there on our way !ack to the mansion,+ said (att. '2ou,re awesome, (att;+ I e5claimed. 'I know, man, I !een trying to tell you that for years,+ (att laughed. '.hat e5actly ha we waited for the elevator. '.ell, we don,t really know at this oint. .e thought we were !eing attacked. Dam ires -um ed the fence all over the ro erty at once and started slowly toward the mansion. Security ened while I was gone*+ I asked as ed -ust !efore going out and turned !ack toward #rand a. )e was -ust

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informed me of the situation and I gathered everyone to hold them off. .e shifted and !egan chasing the vam ires all over the ro erty, !ut they never engaged us in !attle. .e continued to chase them until they eventually gave u and -um ed !ack over the fence. .e thought they were -ust messing around with us, or testing our forces. .hen we reviewed the security ta es from the mansion we reali$ed the vam ires were -ust a distraction. .e watched as /hados entered the mansion. )e used magic to gain access to the holding area. )e actually came to rescue Adriana. I am com letely u$$led as to why he would take on the ack to rescue her,+ #rand a e5 lained. .hile #rand a was !ringing me u to s eed on what ha ened we entered the elevator and !egan the descent. The doors now o ened to the holding area. The rest of the gang stood there looking into the cell where they had my grandmother. They had removed the chains from her wrists !efore locking her in the cell. '7li$a!eth, why have you returned after all these years*+ #rand a asked. 'Sam, I know you don,t !elieve me, !ut it was never my choice to leave you,+ my grandmother said as tears started falling down her cheeks. '.e will see a!out that,+ I said !efore I -um ed into action. (oving faster than any of the others could see I o ened the cell door and gra!!ed my grandmother u . I stra the e5am ta!le we used for Adriana. ed her to

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'1o your thing, Aenna,+ I said as we watched (att and 1akota hook her u to the machine that would allow Aenna to access her mind. Aenna acted as a olygra h machine to let us know if my grandmother was telling the truth to the 3uestions we asked her. I e5 lained to her what we were going to do !efore we !egan with the 3uestioning. '.hat would cause you to !etray us, your family*+ #rand a asked first. 'Samuel I would never !etray you or the ack. /hados ca tured me and took me to the underworld. )e tortured me into telling him a!out the ro hesies. I have always loved you, Sam, and I always will,+ #randma told him as she !egan to so!. 'She is telling the truth,+ said Aenna. '>ut I watched you run into the forest the night you disa eared. /hados was nowhere around,+ #rand a said as tears of his own esca ed and made their way down his face. I watched as #randma closed her eyes holding !ack more tears as she !egan to e5 lain. '2ou didn,t see me running away. /hados is more owerful than you can imagine. )e has found a way to com!ine his wi$ard owers with his shifting owers. >y com!ining these owers he can shift into anyone or anything he chooses. 2ou saw what /hados wanted you to see that night. 2ou thought you saw me running away, !ut what you really saw was /hados shifted to my form running into the woods. )e wanted you to think I

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a!andoned you and the ack to -oin him. It seems as though he succeeded. I have longed for you to rescue me all these years, Sam.+ '.hy did /hados leave you and the sword unguarded to rescue Adriana*+ I asked. I watched as #randma !egan to smile. '.ell, /hados knew that I had a vision. )e whi ed me until I could hardly !ear the ain. The vision was of you and Ava coming to get the sword with the faeries. I knew I couldn,t tell /hados a!out my real vision, or he would have ca tured you !oth with ease. Instead I convinced him the vision was of Adriana ca turing you and !ringing you to him. I e5 lained to him that Adriana was the key to !ringing you over to evil. It worked out !etter than I thought when he took every availa!le guard and headed for the mansion. I knew when you would come, 8uke. I started yelling for hel in ho es that you would hear me and come to my rescue,+ #randma e5 lained. .e all looked to Aenna. '7verything she says is true,+ said Aenna. .e all watched as #rand a removed the stra s holding #randma to the ta!le and took her into his arms. They hugged each other and !egan to let out heavy so!s together. I motioned for everyone to follow me so we could give them some rivacy. I knew they had lots to catch u on, and would want to !e alone. .e all headed !ack u the elevator together. '(an, what ha ened to you*+ 1akota asked. I ointed to the sword attached to my !ack as if no!ody had noticed it.

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'I can,t !elieve you went after the sword without us,+ said (att. 'It wasn,t our fault. The faeries war ed us to their world and had it all lanned out. I don,t know e5actly what they had u their sleeve !y hel ing us get it, !ut once 8uke gra!!ed it the faeries -ust disa eared,+ e5 lained Ava. .e got off the elevator and went into the conference room. I told them the whole story of the day with the faeries and our tri to the underworld. After that, (att told us what ha learned what ha ened at the mansion while we were gone. It was mainly for Ava,s !enefit !ecause I had already ened from #rand a. 'I,ve !een thinking since we got !ack to the mansion a!out something and it is really getting to me,+ I said. '.hat,s u *+ Aenna asked. '.ell, /hados walt$ed in here and rescued Adriana from the holding area com letely undetected. All he had to do was throw out some vam ire interference and the mansion was left wide o en. .e have to find a way to kee him away from the mansion or none of us will ever !e safe. 1on,t you think he is going to !e su er issed to find out that not only did I get the sword, !ut that his sychic has also !een taken*+ I asked. 'That,s a very good oint,+ said Aenna. 'I haven,t thought a!out that,+ said 1akota. 'I can,t understand how /hados kee s getting assed my mother,s rotection s ells,+ said Ava.

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')as she ut u any new ones since we found out a!out Adriana !eing a traitor* If not, that is how he is getting in,+ said (att. 'Ava, you and your mother need to get together to work out some new s ells to ut u to kee /hados and his army from getting !ack in here,+ I said. '"ro!a!ly wouldn,t !e a !ad idea to do it tonight if ossi!le,+ said 1akota. '2eah, I wouldn,t ut it ast /hados to attack anytime after he finds out there is no chance of !ringing me to his side now. Ava, talk to your mom and let us know if there is anything we can do to hel . Aenna, you should hel your dad with security duty tonight until they can get the new s ells u . It would !e great if you could go into the camera system to kee a closer watch than what the cameras themselves ick u . .e definitely don,t want /hados in the mansion again or anywhere else on the ro erty. 1akota, (att, and I will atrol the erimeter. I will talk to #rand a a!out hel ing out with atrolling,+ I e5 lained. I looked at Ava as she reached into her !ag to ull out five of the s ell or!s she had created. '.hat are those*+ Aenna asked. '.ell, I distri!uted the !inding s ell I made from Thados, !lood into five smaller ones. 7ach one of these should !e more than owerful enough to !ind /hados, owers. I made one for each of us. I think we should kee them with us at all times,+ said Ava as she distri!uted the or!s to each of us.

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'That is definitely a great idea, es ecially until the rotection s ells are u ,+ I said. Ava dismissed herself from the grou to find her mother. I told her to te5t us as soon as she found something out. 'It,s going to !e a long night,+ said (att. 'I,m used to it,+ 1akota said with a laugh as we all stood to go a!out the duties I had assigned. Aenna went to the security center with her dad while the rest of us headed for the elevator. #rand a walked out as the doors o ened. 'I was -ust coming to look for you,+ I told him. I gave #rand a a 3uick rundown of our conversation and lans for the evening. )e agreed that it was a great lan and ulled out his cell hone and made a call. '7very availa!le mem!er of the ack will !e on atrol tonight. As soon as Ava and =achel are done with the rotection s ells we can atrol in shifts,+ #rand a said after he was done with his hone call. '.e will !e on the first shift since 1akota will have to retire at dawn. Then we will go and get some rest to re are for the ne5t one,+ I told #rand a. 'I,m going to take the ne5t shift. 2our grandmother and I have much to discuss so we will !e in my suite if you need us,+ said #rand a as we headed for the elevator. Bnce we were outside (att took to the sky in his dragon form. )e could scan the fence line much !etter from the air. 1akota and I decided to atrol the erimeter. I shifted to my wolf form so I could utili$e

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my sense of smell. 1akota didn,t say much as we walked around the ro erty. This was mainly due to the fact that I couldn,t talk !ack to him while in wolf form. I could only talk to other shifters. .e atrolled for several hours !efore 1akota received a te5t from Ava and he relayed the message to me. 'Ava says they have the s ells in lace.+ 'Awesome. I am e5hausted,+ I said after shifting !ack to human form. 1akota said he would continue to atrol until dawn. I told him I would see him tonight after he rose. I shifted !ack to wolf form so I could tell (att he was clear to go to !ed for the evening. I also told 9ncle Charles that the first shift could retire for the evening. .hen I finally made it to my room all I wanted to do was crash. I reali$ed I hadn,t eaten all day so I ordered u some food and decided to take a shower while I waited for it to arrive. .hen I got out of the shower I was shocked to find #randma sitting !y the fire lace waiting for me. '.hat,s wrong*+ I asked as I made my way over to sit in the chair across from her. '8uke, I need to tell you something very im ortant,+ she said. I really didn,t want to learn anymore news tonight whether it was good or !ad, !ut I could see the concerned look on my grandmother,s face and knew it must !e very im ortant. '.hat is it #randma* 2ou know you can tell me anything,+ I told her.

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'.ell, I am sure your #rand a has told you I have visions, right*+ she asked. '2es, he has. In fact, I inherited your gift of sight myself,+ I said. #randma,s facial e5 ression showed much confusion and e5citement all rolled together. 'Are you serious* That is a!solutely wonderful;+ she e5claimed. 'Is that what you came here to tell me at this time of night*+ I asked a little too !itterly. 'Bf course not, 8uke, I am -ust so leased and shocked !y this news,+ she told me. '.hat I came here to share with you are the details of my latest vision,+ #randma said as I watched her !egin to get very nervous a!out what she was going to tell me. )er hands fidgeted with a !ook I -ust now noticed she was holding. She couldn,t sit still in her seat. 'Tell me, #randma,+ I said. '8uke, the vision I had, only hours ago, was a!out your arents. In my vision you were reunited with them,+ she said. ')ow is that ossi!le when they !oth died in the lane crash*+ I asked after the !utterflies in my stomach settled. .as there really a ossi!ility that my arents were alive* '(y theory is that they could ossi!ly have staged their deaths to throw off /hados,+ '>ut how can that !e* Their !odies were found at the site of the crash,+ I said.

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'The !odies they found in the wreckage were not a!le to !e identified. The num!er of !odies found corres onded with the num!er that left on that flight, !ut that doesn,t mean that your arents were ever even on that flight,+ said #randma. I was com letely una!le to wra my mind around the ossi!ility of my arents !eing alive in my current state of e5haustion. I ate most of my food while #randma talked. /ow I could !arely hold my eyes o en as I tried to com rehend what grandma was telling me. '#randma, can we lease talk a!out this again in the morning* It has !een a heck of a long day. I am very tired. I need to get some rest now,+ I told her. 'Bf course we can 8uke. I will talk to you again in the morning. #ood night,+ she said as she stood and made her way out of my room. I went to !ed as soon as she was out of the room. (y mind was com letely shutting down as I drifted off to slee . .hen I woke u and looked at my hone to check the time I reali$ed I had sle t for nearly fourteen hours straight. It was almost eight m. I made a sandwich with stuff from the fridge and gra!!ed a soda. I hadn,t noticed the stack of !ooks on the floor !eside my door !efore I went to slee . I didn,t know if they were already there or if someone dro ha ed them off while I was aslee . I couldn,t !elieve they !rought them with everything that ened yesterday. I !rought the !ooks over to the !ar to look

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through while I ate my sandwich. There were si5 !ooks, and most of them were normal classes. There was a !ook for 7nglish, >iology, (ath, and )istory. The only two !ooks out of the ordinary was a 1emonology !ook, and the si5th one was titled 'Su ernaturals and the )uman =ace,+ !y some name I couldn,t even !egin to ronounce. The 1emonology !ook was the same one I looked at in the li!rary. I o ened the Su ernaturals !ook to the ta!le of contents and started scanning the cha ter titles. (ost of the titles indicated they had to do with the laws that governed the different su ernatural races. /ot necessarily the race themselves, !ut their interaction and secrecy from the humans. I wondered how the su ernatural community had !een ke t secret from humans for so many centuries. (ay!e this class would shed some light on that mystery. I ushed the !ooks aside and finished my sandwich -ust as a knock came at the door. #randma stood in the doorway looking a hundred ercent !etter than she had when I found her in the cave yesterday. It,s a wonder what a shower and a change of clothes will do for someone. '(ay I come in*+ she asked with a warm smile. 'Sure,+ I re lied. I ste sitting area and I followed her. ')ave you thought anymore a!out what I told you last night*+ #randma asked. ed out of the way for her to come in and closed the door !ehind her. She headed for the

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'A little !it,+ I lied. It really hadn,t crossed my mind since I woke u . 'If it,s true that they could still !e alive, where would they have gone*+ I asked. '.ell, I,m not really sure,+ she said. '1o you think they could have still gone to 7ngland*+ I asked. 'It is ossi!le that they ke t with their lans to go to your fathers, home country, !ut I think they figured too many eo le knew where they were headed. I think they decided to go somewhere else,+ she said. ')ow would we ever find them*+ I asked. '.ell, I am going to contact your father,s family in 7ngland to see if anyone has heard from them over the years. It,s got to !e the !est lace we can start looking,+ she said. '8uke; .hat,s wrong* Are you ok*+ I heard #randma saying as everything went !lack. .hen the vision came into focus I had no idea where I was. >y the looks of my surroundings I definitely was not in the South. I could tell instantly I was somewhere in the mountains. A light snow was falling all around me. I was running through the forest in wolf form. It felt great running free. “Luke*” I heard a woman,s voice say. I sto ed dead in my tracks and turned around looking for the source of the voice. “Luke, I have waite! so very ong for this moment,” I heard the voice again.

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“Who’s there?” I asked as I continued to search the woods around me. Suddenly a wolf came into view in the distance. The wolf was more !eautiful than any I had seen !efore with its light !londe colored coat, and !rilliant !lue eyes. The wolf sto ed and stared into my eyes. “2ome to me my son,” the woman,s voice said. Can it really !e* I asked myself. “Mom?” I say as I continued to stare at the wolf.

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The ne5t thing I know I am staring u at #randma. ')oney, are you ok*+ She asked. 'I,m fine,+ I res onded. 'Tell me a!out your vision.+ She hel ed me u and !ack to my chair as I !egan to tell her what I saw. '2our mother is -ust as !eautiful in her wolf form as she is in human form,+ #randma said when I finished telling her a!out it. '.e have to find her. Seeing her in the mountains narrows the search somewhat, !ut there are still do$ens and do$ens of laces she could !e,+ I said. 'I,m going now to try to reach your father,s family. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything.+ I walked her to the door, and she turned around and gave me a hug !efore walking out. I was still in my a-amas at this oint so I changed clothes and ut on my shoes so I could go and see a!out atrolling. (att was coming out of his room as I headed down the hall to the stairs. ')ey (att, did you slee well*+ I asked. 'I sle t retty good, !ut not nearly as good as you,+ he said with a laugh, 'I have !een u for hours.+ '2eah well I was retty tired I guess.+ 'The good news is we don,t have to atrol tonight. #rand a has everything covered in that de artment. The

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rotection s ells seem to !e holding u . The security cameras icked u several vam ires trying to get over the fence not long after we went to !ed this morning. /one of them were a!le to get close to the wall though,+ said (att. 'That is definitely a good thing. I see they left our new !ooks for school.+ '2eah I dro ed those off for you earlier. #rand a gave them to me, and asked me to give you yours. )e gave me our schedules too. The four of us seem to have all the same classes,+ e5 lained (att. 'That,s cool. .hat a!out 1akota*+ I asked. 'I don,t know, !ut I figure he will go to class at night.+ 'So, what do you have lanned for the evening*+ I asked him trying to get off the su!-ect of school. 'The girls want to watch a movie down in the theatre.+ '.e have a theatre*+ I asked sur rised. '2eah,+ he said with a laugh. 'That sounds fun. I think I could use a !it of normal after all the mess I have !een through lately,+ I said with a smile. '8et,s go there now. They are ro!a!ly down there waiting.+ I followed (att down the hall not having any idea where the theatre was. I didn,t even know the mansion had a theatre. .e walked down the stairs and headed through the great room into the room where the ool was. .e turned left and headed into the area of the mansion I had never !een. .e walked down a long hallway with several doors off to our right. .e

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were nearly to the end of the hall !efore we turned right into a set of dou!le doors. The room was -ust light enough to see. This theatre had reclining seats in rows leading down at an angle like other movie theatres I had !een to. The seats were arranged in a half circle around an enormous screen mounted on the wall. I s otted the girls sitting a!out half way down in the middle of the room. ')i 8uke,+ said Ava as I sat down !eside her. ')ey, how are you*+ I re lied. 'I,m ok.+ 'I,m great,+ I told her. I didn,t want to ruin the mood !y telling them a!out my vision. I was looking forward to s ending time with my friends instead of worrying a!out staying alive. >esides, I didn,t even know for sure if my vision was real. I mean, what if the vision was s arked !y #randma telling me she thought my arents were alive* I definitely didn,t want to get e5cited !y the ossi!ility only to !e torn to ieces if I found out they were really dead. I ut on my ha y little smile and settled in ne5t to Ava to watch the movie. I didn,t know what movie we were going to watch, and to tell you the truth I really didn,t care. A!out an hour or so into the movie I was so comforta!le in the chair I was sitting in that I do$ed off. I started to dream as soon as I fell aslee .

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I was in the mountains again. I guessed these were the same ones from the vision !ecause I instantly heard the woman,s voice again. “Luke,” calls the woman,s voice. “Mom, is it rea y you?” I asked. “#es, son, it is me. I am g a! that you fina y foun! me, Luke,” she said as I watched the !eautiful !londe wolf emerge from the woods in front of me. “Why !i! you eave me, a one, for a this time?” I asked as I inched my way closer to her. “Luke, there wi &e p enty of time for me to e1p ain everything soon. "ight now, though, I nee! your he p,” she said. “What is it, Mom? I’ !o anything I can.” “I fear there is great !anger coming my way, son.” “What !anger? What can I !o?” I asked des erately. The ne5t instant I watch in horror as a large !lack shadow flies through the air from one of the near!y trees a!ove my mother,s head. The shadow lands directly on her !ack knocking her to the ground. I !egin to scream, “M-M*” As I -um from my seat awake and !ack in the theatre in the mansion. I look down to see everyone staring u at me in confusion. Ava -um s to her feet and gra!s my hand to try and comfort me as she asks, '8uke, what,s the matter*+ '(om is in trou!le; I have to find #randma;+ I e5claimed.

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'8uke, it was -ust a dream man,+ said (att. 'I thought your arents were dE+ starts Aenna !ut trails off !efore she finishes the last word. 'I wasn,t going to !other you guys with more news tonight. I wanted to have a normal evening together with my friends. I have to tell you something,+ I said as Ava turned off the movie. '2ou can tell us anything, 8uke. 2ou know that,+ said Ava. '#randma and I have had visions of my mother. #randma had them first, !ut now I,m having them too. #randma thinks my arents could still !e alive,+ I told them. They stare at me in shock at this !it of information. 'That,s awesome, 8uke,+ said (att. '2eah, 8uke, that is great news,+ said Ava as she took my other hand in hers. 'If this is real, I think she is in trou!le,+ I said as I !egan to tell them of the vision and the recent dream. 'I have to tell #randma what I have seen,+ I added. I !olted from the room leaving them staring at each other in confusion. I had to find #randma !efore it was too late. I raced around the mansion in search of my grandmother, !ut couldn,t find her anywhere. I decided she must have already gone to !ed and headed for their !edroom. I knocked on their door des erately, and waited for someone to answer. #rand a answered the door and I could tell he was angry

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a!out !eing distur!ed. )e instantly changed his e5 ression to concern when he reali$ed it was me. '.hat,s wrong, 8uke*+ #rand a asked. 'I need to talk to #randma, now,+ I said. 'She,s already aslee . Can,t this wait until morning*+ '/o; It is very im ortant that I talk to her.+ 'Come on in, 8uke,+ said #randma from inside the room. #rand a ste enter. '#randma, have you talked to #rand a a!out my mom*+ I asked as I turned to see my grandfather,s res onse. I could see confusion register as he looked to #randma to e5 lain. '/o. I wanted to !e sure !efore I trou!led him with the information,+ she re lied. '.hat,s going on here*+ #rand a asked. 'Sam, I had a vision a!out Sandra. 8uke had a vision as well,+ she e5 lained. '(ake that two visions,+ I added. 'Tell me a!out it, 8uke,+ she said. I started with the first vision to !ring #rand a u to s eed, and then went straight into the newest one. I heard #randma gas as I finished with the attack on my mother. ')ave you heard anything from my fathers, family*+ I asked. I s oke with someone a little while ago. They refused to tell me anything over the hone. They refer to tell me what they know in erson. ed out of the way and motioned for me to

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'So, when do we leave for 7ngland*+ I asked. '.e are not going anywhere,+ said #randma to my sur rise. '.e have to find her; (om is in danger. I refuse to stand around and risk losing her for good;+ I yelled. 'Calm down, 8uke,+ said #rand a. '8uke, it is too dangerous for you to go trai sing around 7ngland. Bne of the main reasons your mother ut you into hiding is so your fathers, eo le couldn,t lay claim to you. I will not risk having you kidna e5 lained. 'I will leave first thing in the morning for 7ngland to see what I can find out a!out your arents. In the meantime I want you to tell me a!out any vision you may have. I romise we will do everything in our ower to find her, 8uke,+ said #randma as she walked over and took me in her arms. 'I,m worried a!out her,+ I said. 'I know you are, honey. I,m worried a!out her too, !ut we have to !e rational a!out all of this,+ she said. '.e must !e careful. /hados would like nothing more than to find out your mother is still alive. )e would use her to lure you to him. )e knows he can,t win you over now that you have the sword, !ut he will continue to !e a threat until he is defeated. )e will sto at nothing to kill you, 8uke,+ said #rand a. ed !y a !unch of vam ires,+ she

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'8uke, you need to get some rest. I will let you know as soon as I find out anything,+ said #randma. I hugged them !oth !efore leaving the room. Aenna and (att were finishing the movie when I got !ack to the theatre. I decided not to distur! them. Instead I made my way u to Ava,s room. She answered the door 3uickly. She looked -ust as confused and concerned as she had when I left her. 'Can we talk*+ I asked. 'Bf course,+ she res onded. She closed the door and took my hand leading me toward the stairs. '8et,s go for a walk.+ I couldn,t e5 lain the feelings I had for Ava. I had never felt the way I did for her. I loved -ust !eing around her. She made me feel im ortant and s ecial like no one ever had. /ot im ortant !ecause of who or what I was, !ut im ortant as a erson. She made me feel like I actually meant something to her. I was nervous !eyond com rehension when I was alone with Ava. I could only ho e that she felt the same way a!out me. .e walked in silence for a while, en-oying each others com any. I got the feeling that she didn,t really know what to say a!out what ha ened earlier so I started the conversation. '#randma is leaving for 7ngland in the morning,+ I said. '=eally*+ She asked. 'She talked to my father,s family on the hone earlier and they told her they would only s eak in erson. I,m guessing they are taking every recaution to kee my arentsJ wherea!outs a secret.

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'#rand a says if /hados were to find out they were still alive he would use them to get to me. I guess it makes sense,+ I told her. '2es it does. I,m very ha y for you, 8uke. I never met my father, !ut there is nothing like having your mom around.' 'So, I have to sit around and wait to hear from #randma with any news,+ I said, changing the su!-ect a little. It was a little too uncomforta!le talking a!out my (om that way. 'I -ust want you to know that I am here for you anytime you need me.+ 'Thanks, Ava. That means a lot,+ I said as we made it out into the garden and sat down on the !ench. It was a cloudless night and stars filled the sky. Ava and I looked at each other for a few seconds !efore I decided to make my move. I ut my hand gently to her cheek, and slowly moved it down to rest in the !end of her neck. I let my fingers wra around touching the !ack of her neck as I ulled her close to me. .e stared into each others eyes as our li s met. I had never kissed a girl, !ut I caught on retty 3uickly. I could feel her mouth o en slightly, and I followed her lead as our tongues found each other and moved slowly together. I could have kissed her forever, !ut of course we were interru ted !y the sound of someone clearing their throat. .e !oth sna in the direction of the sound. '#et a room;+ (att e5claimed. Aenna let out a little giggle at what (att said. I had never !een more em!arrassed in ed a art and looked

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my life than I was at that moment. I guess we should have gone somewhere a little more rivate. '.hat are you guys u to*+ I asked trying to change the focus off of me a little !it. '.ell, we were ho ing to !e alone out here -ust like you,+ said (att with a grin. 'It,s definitely a !eautiful night,+ said Ava. I could tell she was -ust as em!arrassed as I was a!out !eing caught. 'It definitely is,+ said Aenna. I decided to change the su!-ect com letely, so I told (att and Aenna a!out my discussion with my grand arents. '.hat can we do to hel *+ (att asked. 'I guess we have to wait and see what we hear. There really is no way to find her on our own. She could !e anywhere,+ I said. It was getting retty late !y this time, so we all decided to go to !ed and talk a!out it the ne5t day. Ava and I walked hand in hand following (att and Aenna who were doing the same. I walked Ava to her door and she gave me a eck on the li s !efore hurrying into her room. I stood there looking at her door for a few seconds thinking a!out the ama$ing kiss from earlier. I wondered what this meant !etween us. .ere we a cou le now* I assumed she had feelings for me since she had kissed me !ack. I sna ed out of the day dream world I was in and headed for my room. I kicked off my shoes and was -ust a!out to clim! into !ed when I heard a voice that com letely startled me. >efore I

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knew it my instincts kicked in. I had the sword out from under my !ed where I hid it and out of its sheath in the !link of an eye. I stared at the very wide eyed Aack who was sitting in a chair !eside the fire lace. 'I,m sorry, 8uke. I didn,t mean to startle you,+ he said as I ut the sword away. '2ou scared the cra out of me;+ I e5claimed. '"lease forgive me.+ '.hat are you doing here in my room*+ I asked suddenly very confused !y his resence. 'I needed to talk to you,+ he said. I walked over and sat in the chair across from him. 'I,m listening.+ 'Cirst, I wanted to a ologi$e for the faeries actions yesterday. I had no idea they would ut you into such danger. )ad I known they would take you to the underworld, I would have !een there with you.+ 'I am -ust glad that we made it out of there in one iece. 1id you know that they -ust left us down there alone*+ I asked !ecoming irritated at remem!ering what they had done. 'I can assure you they didn,t leave you on ur ose,+ he said. '.hat do you mean*+ I asked, suddenly very confused. '.ell, one of the rotection s ells on the sword caused anyone wishing to o!tain the sword from its rightful owner to flee from its resence. .henever you took ossession of it the

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faeries were cast com letely out of the underworld,+ )e e5 lained. 'So, if I understand you correctly, the faeries were not hel ing me get the sword. They wanted it for themselves*+ 'That is correct.+ 'Bh,+ I re lied. 'If it means anything at all, the Iueen asked that I send you her a ologies. She didn,t know that =alah and her son were cons iring together to get the sword. She was only attem ting to re ay some of the de!t that she owes the ack. She asked that I let you know they will definitely !e unished.+ 'I do have one other thing to tell you,+ Aack started again. '.hat,s that*+ 'I hear you have learned your mother is still alive*+ '.ell, we don,t really know for sure, !ut #randma and I are having visions a!out her.+ '"lease, tell me a!out them,+ he leaded. I started with #randma,s vision and finished with the dream I had that night. Agony washed over Aack,s e5 ression as I told him of the attack. 'This is definitely not good;+ he e5claimed, 'I should not have left her side.+ I was com letely s eechless at what I had -ust heard. '.hat*+ I finally managed to ask. I watched as Aack looked down at his tiny little feet trying to find the right words.

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'8uke, I have worked for your mother since long !efore you were even !orn. She saved me from a mem!er of a ack that was visiting from another city. >efore that night I was nothing more than a etty thief. I stole a gold chain from this shifter and he found out I did it. )e caught me, and was -ust a!out to take my life for it. 2our mother, !eing the ack leaders, daughter, forced him to turn me over to her. She changed my life that night. I have !een in her service ever since,+ Aack e5 lained. '2ou know where my mother is;+ I e5claimed. '/o, 8uke, I did know where she was, !ut I was ulled !ack here when you disa faeries. '.hat do you mean*+ I asked confused. '.hen you were !orn, 8uke, your mother asked that I watch over you. She asked that I kee you safe no matter what. I have !een with you since the night you were !orn. 2ou couldn,t always see me, !ut I was there. It has definitely !een an honor watching you grow into a fine young man,+ I stared at Aack not knowing what to say to him. Suddenly I remem!ered something. '2ou said you did know where she was*+ I asked. '.hen I returned to her location, after I was ulled !ack to you, she was gone. I haven,t !een a!le to locate her since.+ '.hy would she have left where she was*+ I asked. 'I don,t know. The only thing I can imagine is that someone found her and she is hiding. I have s ent every second ossi!le looking for her, and I will continue to do so,+ said Aack. eared to the underworld with the

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'Then what are you doing here* Shouldn,t you !e out looking for my mother*+ 'I wanted to tell you the truth a!out me,+ he re lied. 'Cind my mother; "lease;+ I yelled. I watched as -ack magically ulled a iece of a er out of mid air and handed it to me. .ritten on the a er was a hone num!er. '.hat is this*+ That is my cell hone num!er. Ceel free to call me anytime, 8uke.+ '7lves have cell hones*+ I asked as an uncontrolla!le giggle esca ed at the thought. 'Bf course we do. .hy wouldn,t we*+ I !lushed with em!arrassment. )e looked at me as though it was the cra$iest thing he had ever heard. I looked down again at the hone num!er written on the a er, and when I looked !ack u at him he was gone. I had so many other 3uestions to ask him, !ut they would have to wait. I stored his num!er in my cell and clim!ed into !ed. I didn,t think I would ever !e a!le to slee , !ut !efore I knew it I was doing -ust that.

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/ot a single dream interru ted my slee that night. I woke u the ne5t morning, which was Sunday, feeling com letely rested. #randma left for 7ngland !efore I woke u . I waited atiently for any word from her or Aack a!out my mother. #rand a told me it may !e a few days !efore we got word from #randma. (y fathers, family lived in a very remote area of 7ngland, he e5 lained, and it took several days of treacherous travel to get there. This was not what I wanted to hear. I had no choice !ut to deal with it. Classes started the ne5t morning. I found out that the Silent Soldiers, minus 1akota of course, were taking our classes se arately from the other students. .e were told that the reasoning !ehind this was to kee the other students from getting -ealous when we got to miss classes for soldier !usiness. It made sense, !ut I ho ed we wouldn,t have to miss much class. If we did it meant we were ro!a!ly going to !e risking our lives in some way. I would much rather !e in class than out fighting !ad guys. I looked for Aack in his classroom !etween classes, !ut his room was never o en. I didn,t know if he -ust didn,t have a class today, or if he was out searching for my mother. Toward the end of the day I decided to te5t him and see what was going on. )e didn,t res ond to my te5t. I wondered if he even knew how to te5t at all. That evening when classes were done for the

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day I called him. The hone didn,t ring and went straight to voicemail. I didn,t leave a message. It was driving me cra$y not !eing a!le to talk to some!ody. >oth Aack and my grandmother told me they would contact me when they found something out. I decided to try to !e more atient and wait for them to contact me. '8et,s run tonight after dark,+ I told (att and Aenna as we sat in the dinning hall having dinner. 'Bk, that sounds great to me;+ (att e5claimed. ')eck yeah, sounds good to me too,+ said Aenna. I saw disa ointment flash on Ava,s face, !ut she immediately ut on 'I -ust need to take my mind off waiting around to hear something,+ I said trying to make Ava feel a little !etter. I definitely didn,t want her to think we were ditching her. 'I understand,+ said Ava, 'I -ust wish I could run with you guys,+ she said. '(ay!e you can,+ Aenna said as we all turned to look at her curiously. Aenna !lushed as she continued, 'I have !een doing some searching through the com uter system, and I found a !unch of s ells your mom had stored in a secret file on the Silent Soldiers, data!ase.+ '.hat kind of s ells*+ Ava asked. '.ell, one in articular is a Transformation s ell. It,s a s ell using a creatures, !lood that allows you to tem orarily transform into that creature,+ said Aenna. a nervous little smile.

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'Show me;, Ava e5claimed as she gra!!ed Aenna !y the hand and ractically dragged her out of the dinning hall. '.ell, ok,+ (att said. 'So, what,s u with you and Aenna*+ I asked (att. 'I think were going out,+ (att said shyly, '.hat a!out you and Ava*+ 'I,m not really sure. .e kissed the other night, !ut we haven,t really talked a!out it,+ I said. '2eah, it looked like y,all were getting all hot and steamy out in the garden,+ (att said laughing. I looked down smiling as I felt the !lood rush into my face. Aust then my hone rang and I -erked it out of my ocket to answer. ')ello*+ I said. '8uke, its #randma. I found out where she is staying, and I,m headed there now,+ said my #randma,s voice on the other end of the line. 'Tell me where she is so I can come,+ I said ecstatically. '/B; I will call you again when I find something out. I don,t want to talk too much over the hone in case someone might !e interce ting the call. 2ou need to stay where you are until we know something for sure. '>utE+ I started, !ut the hone went dead as #randma hung u . I couldn,t !elieve she had cut me off. /ow I would !e waiting even longer to find something out. I so am not a very

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atient erson. #randma and Aack were killing me with all this waiting. '.ho was that*+ (att asked. '#randma thinks she found out where (om is. She is headed there now. It will take her a day or so to get there, so I,m waiting again,+ (att,s hone chir ed with an incoming te5t message -ust then. )e ulled it out to look. 'It,s Aenna. She says to meet them in the garden in half an hour.+ 'Cool,+ I re lied. (att and I made small talk a!out our classes and stuff while we waited for the girls to meet us in the garden. .e sat on the !ench and waited atiently for them to arrive. The sun was setting !y the time they got there. Ava had a huge smile on her face. I wondered curiously what they had come u with. '8et,s do this,+ she said e5citedly. '1o what*+ I asked. Ava ulled out a little vial of red li3uid that looked a lot like !lood. She ulled out the cork and ut the vial to her li s. '>ottoms u ,+ she said as she turned it u and drank down its contents. The vial hit the ground as Ava,s !ody !egan to change its sha e. .e all stared at her as she dro ed down onto her hands and knees. In a matter of seconds we all gas ed as Ava,s transformation was com lete. Ava stood !efore us com letely transformed into an ama$ing red colored wolf. ')oly cra ;+ (att e5claimed.

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'2ou got that right,+ I re lied. I immediately transformed into wolf form and watched as (att and Aenna did the same. “'his is so freaking coo *+ I heard Ava yell in my head. “)a ha ha,” I heard (att and Aenna laugh. Ava turned u her head to the sky and let out a long echoing howl and took off like a -et toward the woods. I followed right !ehind her. “)ey, wait for us,” I heard Aenna say. Ava -ust laughed and ke t on running. It wasn,t that long ago that I had my first run, so I knew e5actly what Ava was feeling. 'So, how long does this last*+ I asked. 'The s ell said it lasts for an hour, !ut I only took half of it. I figure I have a good thirty minutes or so. I didn,t want to !e stuck in some weird form for very long until I tried it out. I have the rest in my ocket if I need to stay longer,+ Ava said. .e ran and ran through the woods. I always felt com letely free in wolf form. I felt as if nothing could touch me. All my worries went out the window as I ran with my friends. .e had !een running for a!out twenty minutes when Ava suddenly sto ed and ut her nose in the air sniffing. 'Man, I can sme a kin!s of stuff,+ she said. '#eah, super sme is awesome,+ said (att. ')ow far are we from the house?+ Ava asked. '3ot too far. We are straight &ack &ehin! it right now. Why !o you ask*+ I asked curiously.

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'1oes it make sense that I can smell 1akota way out here*+ Ava asked. I sniffed the air myself and the hair along my !ack stood straight u as I crouched down and let out a soft growl. I could definitely smell 1akota. The only ro!lem was his scent was mi5ed with the smell of fresh !lood. I took off with my vam ire s eed leaving the others standing where they were. /othing could have re ared me for what I found a few seconds later. As soon as I located the source of 1akota,s scent I shifted !ack to human form. 1akota lay on the ground in front of me very close to the erimeter wall. I feared he was dead at first sight. 1akota was wra ed in a very thin silver chain. The chain was !urned into his flesh everywhere that it made contact with his skin. Bn to of the chain !urning his skin, he had at least a half do$en wooden arrows sticking out of different arts of his !ody. I !ent down and laced my hand on his chest as I heard Ava, (att, and Aenna coming through the woods !ehind me. I heard Aenna scream and Ava whine as I turned around to see that (att and Aenna were also in their human form now. Ava,s transformation s ell had not yet worn off. I looked !ack down at 1akota as his eyes fluttered o en. )e stared u at me as he tried to s eak. '2ou have to take the chain off,+ he whis ered, !arely a!le to s eak at all.

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'(att, hel me with this;+ I said as I !egan to remove the chain. I worked very slowly trying to cause as little ain as ossi!le as I took the chain off. 'I can,t touch it;+ (att said as he -erked his smoking hand away from the chain. '"ull out these arrows,+ I told him. I could hear Aenna and Ava crying directly !ehind me, and knew that Ava must also !e !ack to her human form. As 3uickly as I could I removed the chain -ust as (att ulled out the last arrow. .e watched in ama$ement as the wounds covering 1akota,s !ody !egan to heal slowly. 'I need to feed,+ 1akota said a little stronger than !efore. '.e need to get !ack to the mansion for that,+ I said. 'I,m too weak to make it !ack,+ he re lied. 'I,m going to carry him. (att you shift and get #rand a to the kitchen as soon as ossi!le. Aenna, walk with Ava !ack to the mansion.+ I told them. I didn,t wait for a res onse !efore I scoo ed u 1akota, as if he were light as a feather, and took off toward the mansion. .ithin seconds I !urst into the kitchen and lay 1akota on the floor near the refrigerator. The kitchen staff gas ed with shock at my sudden a earance in their s ace. I gra!!ed two !ags of !lood from the refrigerator !efore they knew what was ha o ening. I tore one o en and handed it to 1akota !efore I ed the other one in the microwave. 1akota sucked down the

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first one and had sat u against the wall as one of the staff !rought over the second one. #rand a and (att !urst into the kitchen as he finished the second !ag. A third !ag was already in the microwave heating u . '.hat,s going on*+ #rand a asked. 'I was attacked,+ 1akota said nearly !ack to his normal self. I could see that the wounds were com letely healed now. '.here*+ #rand a shouted. 'I always scale the fence to hunt the woods surrounding the ro erty when I rise every evening. I have !een hunting animals there for a few weeks now. Someone must have !een waiting for me out there. As soon as I -um ed the fence I caught an unfamiliar scent. I started to follow the scent, and as soon as I caught sight of the animal I felt the silver wra ing around my !ody,+ 1akota e5 lained. '.hat a!out the arrows*+ I asked. 'I !lacked out for a short while, and when I came to I was looking u at you, 8uke,+ said 1akota. '.hat was the animal that you found*+ #rand a demanded. 'It was a huge !lack cat,+ said 1akota in nearly a whis er. '/hados,+ #rand a and I said at the same time. '/hados must have his eo le surrounding the ro erty. )e ro!a!ly found out you have !een hunting on the other side of the fence. )e set u a tra for you, !ut why did he kee you alive*+ #rand a asked.

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'I think he -ust wanted to send us a message. )e is -ust letting us know he is there,+ I said as I continued to stare down at 1akota. Aenna and Ava had made it !ack !y then, and stood a short distance away. '8ooks like the rotection s ells are still holding. I think if they weren,t he would have attacked already,+ Ava said. 'I think you are right, Ava,+ said #rand a. '.e need to increase security -ust in case,+ I told #rand a. 'I,ll get right on it,+ he re lied. 'Can you stand u *+ I asked 1akota. 'I think so,+ he re lied as I !ent down to hel him u . '(an, I am so glad you,re alright,+ (att said. '(e too,+ the girls said at the same time. '2ou saved my life, 8uke,+ 1akota said, 'I am forever in your de!t.+ '2ou would have done the same for us. I,m -ust glad we decided to go out for a run tonight,+ I told him. 'I think I need to sit down again. I,m still really weak and di$$y,+ said 1akota. '8et,s go u to my room and you can lie down for a while,+ I told him as (att and I got into osition to hel him u stairs. .e slowly made it to my room and hel ed him into !ed. Ava and Aenna took off 1akota,s shoes and hel ed him get a little more comforta!le.

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'2ou can slee here for the day if you like. I,ll stay with you so I can kee an eye on you,+ I told 1akota. 'Thanks for everything, 8uke,+ he re lied. '.hy can,t this dude find something !etter to do than ick on a !unch of kids*+ (att asked. '#rand a says he want sto until he kills me now. )e knows I want come to him now that I have the sword,+ I said. '.ell, cra ,+ said (att -ust as I !lacked out. The vision that came into focus this time was com letely different from the others. I was no longer in the woods in the mountains. I was standing in a city on a sidewalk. I look around at the !uildings towering a!ove me. I look u at the !uilding in front of me and noticed the sign said "ea!ody )otel. I wondered to myself what city I could !e in. '89?7;+ I heard my mother,s voice call out. '(om; .here are you*+ I asked. 'I,m here, son, lease hurry,+ said my mother. 'I don,t even know where you are;+ I yelled !ack. I woke u at this oint and -um ed to my feet. I raced across the room and yelled for Aenna, '2ou have to look for the "ea!ody )otel,+ I told her. '8uke, there is a "ea!ody in 8ittle =ock;+ Ava e5claimed e5citedly. Aenna -um ed into action and ulled u the "ea!ody )otel we!site for us to look at. A icture o 'That,s it;+ I yelled. '.hat,s it*+ (att asked. ed onto the screen and I immediately recogni$ed it from my vision.

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'That,s where my (om is,+ I re lied. 'I raced to the !ed and gra!!ed the sword which instantly transformed me into the white uniform from my first encounter with it. I thought it was 3uite odd that it hadn,t done anything to me when I ulled it out the other day with Aack. 'That is way cool,+ (att said. '8et,s go,+ I said as I headed for the door. 1akota must have !een feeling much !etter !ecause he -um ed off the !ed and followed us down the hall. I sent a te5t message for #rand a to meet us at head3uarters as we raced down the stairs. #rand a was standing at the security ta!le as we came off the elevator. )e was more than a little shocked when he saw me come off with the sword attached to my !ack. The other four ran to the dressing room to change as I told #rand a a!out my vision. 'She is at the "ea!ody )otel in 8ittle =ock,+ I said. 'Are you sure*+ #rand a asked. '2es. .e need you to drive us there to ick her u ,+ I told him. Aust then everyone else -oined us at the security station dressed in !lack uniforms. I immediately noticed the SS Silent Soldiers logo on them. .e followed #rand a over to the large !lack hummer arked against the far wall. I -um ed in the front seat as everyone else clim!ed in the !ack. #rand a got in the drivers seat and started u the engine. #rand a drove to the far end of the room as a giant garage door o ened to what a eared to !e a huge elevator. )e drove right into the elevator and unched some !uttons on a little

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console where the stereo should !e inside the dash of the hummer. The garage door closed !ehind us and we started moving u . A few seconds later the door in front of us o ened and we were looking at the outside. #rand a drove out of the elevator and I glanced around reali$ing that we were driving out of the tower located on the left side of the mansion. #rand a !arreled down the driveway toward the gate. I saw as we got closer that it was already starting to o en. #rand a never slowed down. )e s ed out of the driveway and onto the !lackto heading !ack the way we came from the air ort months ago. .e icked u s eed after we hit the freeway heading into little rock. I had never !een to this art of the city, so I had no idea where we were going. #rand a must have known e5actly where the hotel was !ecause he e5ited the freeway and headed into downtown. A cou le minutes later we were ulling into the front of the hotel. ')ow do we know where she is*+ I asked. 'I will see if I can track her,+ said #rand a. .e entered the front of the hotel and #rand a immediately went to work trying to ick u my mother,s scent. 'This way,+ #rand a said as he o ened the door to the stairwell. .e raced u two flights of stairs !efore we followed #rand a out into a hallway. )e slowly walked down the hall continuing to follow my mother,s scent. #rand a sto ed in front of a door and knocked shar ly. /o!ody answered so he turned the kno!. Sur risingly the door o ened with ease.

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'Sandra* Are you here*+ #rand a asked. I heard a soft moan coming from inside the room as I turned on the light switch !eside the door. 8ight flooded over the gruesome scene in the middle of the !ed. (y instincts took over as I snatched the sword from my !ack and lea ed through the air toward the monster attached to my mother,s neck. The sword melted through the vam ires, neck causing his head to fly across the room. I landed on the floor and turned !ack to watch as the !ody on to of my mother crum led into a layer of dust covering her !ody. 'Dam ires;+ 1akota snarled and whi ed an arrow into his !ow as he turned around to look down the hall. I !olted for the door and we watched at least a do$en vam ires come out of rooms on each end of the hall. '1akota, you and I will take the ones on the left, and the rest of you, take the ones on the right,+ I said as the vam ires started to move slowly our way. I reali$ed I still had the sword in my hand as I got ready for the attack. '/o!ody is going to take my mother from me again,+ I snarled through my teeth toward the grou of vam ires. A com lete rage washed over my !ody as I felt my fangs e5tend for the first time. 7verything around me suddenly !ecame much clearer. 1akota let the first arrow fly and it hit one of the vam ires directly in the chest causing him to turn to dust. I charged into the others with my sword flying. .ith every strike of the sword I cut off a iece of vam ire causing them to

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crum!le to the floor in a ile of dust. In a matter of seconds all the vam ires on our end were dust iles on the floor. I looked u to check on the rest of the team and noticed they too had a do$en or more dust iles on their end of the hall. (att and Aenna !oth had swords. Ava, I noticed, was standing with her hands at her sides. An orange red flame engulfed each of them. .ow; I thought to myself as 1akota and I walked !ack to the hotel door. #rand a was standing in the doorway holding my mother in his arms. '.e have to get her !ack to the mansion 3uickly,+ he said as he headed for the stairs. '.hat,s wrong with her* .hat did they do to her*+ I asked as I followed him down the stairs. 'A vam ire has nearly drained all of her !lood. If we don,t get her a transfusion soon she want make it,+ he re lied. #rand a ut her into the !ack of the hummer and I crawled in with her. 7veryone else clim!ed in and we were rocketing toward the mansion. I heard #rand a shouting orders into his hone as we raced down the freeway. 'I need 1r. >levins to meet me at head3uarters in fifteen minutes, and I need a cleanu crew to the second floor of the "ea!ody )otel stat,+ he said. I looked at my mother for the first time and felt greatly trou!led !y her a earance. /early every inch of her skin was !ruised, es ecially the face and neck areas. I noticed the fang marks on the right side of her neck. )er face was so !adly

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swollen and !ruised that I couldn,t even make out her facial features. .e slowed down as we ulled into the elevator and rode down to head3uarters. #rand a screeched to a halt outside of the make shift emergency room and I scoo ed u my mother from the floor of the hummer. I -um ed out and raced into the room as #rand a o ened the !ack door. 1r. >levins was already waiting with an ID and a !ag of !lood. She went to work on my mother as I layed her on one of the hos ital !eds. 'Is she going to !e alright*+ I ask the doctor as a tear ran down my cheek. I felt Ava ut her arm around my waist as 1r. >levins said, 'I will do everything in my ower to make sure that she is.+ I started to cry as Ava turned me toward the door and walked me out into the main room of head3uarters. 'I can,t lose her. I -ust got her !ack,+ I said. '1r. >levins is ama$ing, 8uke. I know she will take good care of your mom,+ said Ava. #rand a walked u to us then and told us we should go and try to get some rest. I didn,t know how I would ever !e a!le to slee with my mom laying down in the hos ital ward !arely alive. All I wanted was to stay !y her side until she was !etter. I didn,t want her out of my sight. I allowed Ava to walk me to my room, mainly so I could change into something more comforta!le. She !rushed my li s with hers !efore turning to go to her room. I changed clothes and gave everyone time to get in !ed !efore I sli ed out and headed !ack to !e with my mother. 1r.

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>levins was gone when I made it !ack to the hos ital ward. All of the lights were off e5ce t for a lam on the ta!le !eside the !ed my mother was in. I made it nearly to her !edside !efore a voice across the room startled me asking, 'Can I hel you*+ 'I came to sit with my mother,+ I re lied. 'She isn,t su osed to have any visitors tonight. (r. Carrington ordered me to ensure she gets lenty of rest,+ said the woman,s voice. I was staying regardless to what my grandfather ordered. I didn,t intend to !other her, !ut I wanted to !e at her side. 'I -ust want to !e with her,+ I told the woman I would not distur! her. I told her I -ust wanted to sit with her. I leaded with her !ut I knew I was staying regardless of what she or my grandfather wanted. She finally agreed. I ulled u a chair at the side of her !ed, and stared over at her !adly !attered u er !ody. I watched the little dro s of !lood dri through the clear tu!e running to a vein in her arm. I knew /hados had ordered the vam ires to attack her, and they had already !een dealt with. I a!solutely couldn,t wait to get my hands on /hados. I,m not a violent erson, !ut I would en-oy !eing a!le to choke the life out of him with my !are hands. '8uke,+ came my mothers voice in such a whis er that a normal erson may not have even heard her s eak at all. '(om, you need your rest. 1on,t try to talk tonight. .e will have lenty of time for that when you are !etter,+ I told her.

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'8uke, I need to tell you a!out your father,+ she said. I could hear the ain in her voice as she s oke. '(om, I am sure it can wait at least until tomorrow. .e have !een through more than enough trauma for one night. I am going to go to !ed so you can get some rest. I -ust wanted to come down and check on you,+ I said. '8uke, lease don,t go, at least until I fall aslee ,+ she leaded. 'Bf course, (om, if that,s what you want,+ I said. 'Stay with me, and I romise I want talk a!out anything tonight. I -ust want you close to me,+ she said. I scooted the chair close to her !ed and took her hand in mine. I tried to !e as careful as ossi!le !ecause every inch of her !ody seemed to !e !ruised. I definitely didn,t want to cause her anymore ain. She smiled at me and slowly closed her eyes. I feared the worst a!out my father, !ut I was not going to let her go through the ain of telling me a!out him in her current state. I continued to watch as she drifted off to slee . It wasn,t long !efore I too was aslee as I continued to hold her hand.

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'The !oy has turned out to !e stronger than we ever could have imagined. .e have com letely failed at every attem t we made at ca turing him. )e has the sword, he rescued the athetic ro hetess, and now he even has his mother !ack;+ /hados yelled from the dark cave. Adriana !owed to /hados on her knees in front of him. /hados and Adriana were no longer in the familiar dark cave. Their location was definitely unknown. It was safe to say they definitely were not in the 7arth realm. The night sky a!ove them had a dark violet tint to it. Two !eautiful full moons hung low in the sky in the !ackground. The two !eings a standing on to of some ty e of castle. Adriana knew she had failed her master time after time. )er !iggest mistake had !een !lowing her cover when she attacked 8uke outside the mansion. She had !een in the woods heading to a meeting with /hados. )e told her she should have a!andoned the meeting to kee the shifters from finding out a!out her. She had definitely underestimated the intelligence and ower the !oy ossessed. 'Stand to your feet, child,+ said /hados with a growl. Adriana slowly stood to her feet and you could see tears running down her cheeks. '"lease forgive me, (aster,+ she said as a so! esca ed from her throat. eared to !e

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'2ou have failed and diso!eyed me time after time, Adriana,+ /hados hissed at her. )is hands were !ehind his !ack as he s oke to her. A long silver dagger magically materiali$ed in one of his claw like hands. 'I know we can make this right if you can -ust give me another chance,+ said Adriana. /hados remained silent. )is glowing red eyes flared !right as he ste ed closer to her. She didn,t see the change in his eyes with her head !owed to him. She didn,t dare look at his face knowing he was infuriated. /hados ste ed close to her utting one arm around her shoulders as if to ull her into a hug. Adriana !egan to cry softly thinking /hados had found favor with her. )er eyes grew wide as /hados !rought the dagger from !ehind his !ack and lunged it dee into her chest. A single gurgling moan esca ed Adriana,s chest as /hados shoved the !lade all the way to the hilt. >lood trickled from the corner of her mouth as the last s arkle of life drained from her eyes. /hados ulled the dagger from her chest as he allowed her dead !ody to slum to the ground. )e had decided Adriana would fail him no more. /hados turned around and walked away from Adriana,s !ody. /hados now faced at least a do$en small figures all cloaked in dark colored hooded ro!es. They all stood at attention in front of their master. '"hase one will !egin soon. I ho e, for your sakes, that you do not fail me as this wretched shifter has. If you cannot

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succeed in eliminating the !oy, you will ay with your lives,+ /hados roared at the cloaked figures. I lea ed from the chair I was in when I felt someone ut their hand on my shoulder. I wheeled around to find out it was #rand a. I think I scared him as much or more than he scared me. '2ou stayed here all night didn,t you*+ he asked with a warm understanding smile. '2es, sir,+ I re lied a little em!arrassed. 'I figured you would,+ he said still smiling. 'I guess I should go u and get ready for school,+ I said. I definitely didn,t want to go, !ut it,s kind of hard to cut class when you live with all your classmates and teachers. 'I have e5cused you from your classes for the day,+ '=eally* That,s great;+ I e5claimed. I looked down at (om and was sur rised that she was staring u at me with a smile on her face. I thought it must !e some sort of miracle, !ut most of the !ruises that covered her face and neck the night !efore were nearly gone. ')owE+ I started, !ut #rand a cut off the rest of my sentence. '.e heal rather 3uickly with a little rest,+ he said with a giggle. '.e*+ I asked confused.

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'Shifters,+ he re lied, '.e heal at a much faster rate than humans. /ot nearly as fast as vam ires, !ut much faster than humans,+ #rand a e5 lained. I had witnessed first hand how fast Dam ires heal after I carried the nearly dead 1akota !ack to the mansion after finding him in the woods. ')ow do you feel*+ I asked (om. 'I,m still rather sore, !ut other than that I feel fine,+ she said as she continued to smile u at me. I couldn,t !elieve how much !etter she looked. 'I could definitely go for some !reakfast right now,+ she said. 'I,ll go get you something,+ I said as I started to turn for the door. '.hy don,t we go together*+ (om asked sto ing me dead in my tracks. 'Are you well enough to get out of !ed this soon*+ I asked. I then noticed for the first time that the ID that was infusing the !lood was no longer attached to her arm. I also reali$ed that the lady who took care of her the night !efore was gone as well. 'Bf course, 8uke,+ she said, 'I am fine.+ 'I !rought you some clothes of your mother,s to ut on for now, Sandra,+ said #rand a, 'I will send someone into the city today to ick you u some new ones.+ 'Thanks, 1ad,+ she re lied. #rand a !ent down and kissed mom on the forehead and said,

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'I am so very ha

y you are home.+ #rand a and I

ste ed out of the room so (om could get dressed. I waited at the door, and #rand a e5cused himself to other !usiness. (om looked a!solutely !eautiful as she gracefully assed out of the doorway of the hos ital ward. She took my hand, and we headed for the dinning hall. .e retty much walked in silence all the way to the dinning hall. It was im ossi!le to ut into words the feeling I had walking hand in hand with my mother for the first time. I was so caught u with my feelings that I couldn,t think of a single thing to say. The dinning hall was em ty !y this time. 7veryone was either in class or at work. .e went straight to the kitchen to order food. .e took a seat at one of the huge ta!les and waited for them to !ring it out. '8uke, when you are ready I must tell you a!out your father,+ said (om. She insisted on !ringing u the su!-ect of my father. I knew I needed to listen to what she had to say, and get it over with. ')e,s dead isn,t he*+ I asked and waited for her to answer. '8uke, I want you to know that your father and I were trying so very hard to make it !ack here together. .e couldn,t wait to see you, and !e together again as a family. )e died rotecting me,+ She said as tears !egan to stream down her face. I looked down at the ta!le not wanting to see her tears. I was

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trying hard to fight !ack my own. I had the feeling he was dead, !ut I didn,t want to acce t it. 'I don,t know what to say. Tell me what ha ened.+ '2our father and I had !een hiding out in the mountains of (ontana since we laced you in the care of your uncle. .e staged the lane crash so everyone, including our families, would think we were dead. Somehow /hados found us and sent his men to ca ture us. Dam ires came at us from every direction, !ut your father wasn,t going down without a fight. )e told me he would hold them off so I would have time to esca e. .e were to meet at the air ort and catch a lane to 8ittle =ock yesterday. I waited for him for several hours, !ut he never showed u . That,s when I got a flight to 8ittle =ock and went to the )otel where you found me. I must have !een followed !ecause not long after I checked in the vam ires attacked me. 2ou already know the rest of the story. 2ou guys got there -ust in time. A few more seconds and I would have surely died. I sat there una!le to s eak. I had never met my father, and now I never would. /o longer a!le to hold !ack the tears they !egan to flow silently down my face. (om reached over and slowly ru!!ed the middle of my !ack trying to comfort me. /either of us s oke for several minutes. I continued to cry, una!le to hold !ack the tears any longer, and (om continued to do her !est in comforting me. She softly wi ed the tears from my face as they continued to fall. I finally sto ed crying !efore our

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!reakfast arrived, !ut I no longer had an a etite. I remained dee in thought as my mother ate her food. 'Bh no;+ I e5claimed. '.hat,s wrong+ (om asked. '#randma is still out looking for you,+ I said as I dug my hone out of my ocket. I sent #randma a 3uick te5t message letting her know mom was here at the mansion now, and that she could come home. I sent Aack the same message. I knew he received the te5t !ecause a few seconds after I sent it he a eared in the room right ne5t to us. (om roceeded to tell him the same story she had -ust told me of her esca e from their mountain hide away. I was relieved to have my mother alive and here with me, !ut I was very much saddened !y the loss of my father. I sat there staring at my mother as she continued !ringing Aack u to s eed. I -um ed to my feet as #randma came into the dinning hall at that time. ')ow did you get here so fast*+ I asked her as she ractically ran to the ta!le where we had !een sitting. (om stood u and #randma nearly tackled her into a dee em!race. They hugged and cried together for what seemed like several minutes with neither of them saying a word. Cinally they sto long enough for #randma to tell me that #rand a already informed her first thing this morning a!out mom. She said they got here as 3uickly as they could. ed

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I wanted to s end time with mom, !ut I really wanted to !e alone for a while to clear my head. I also knew that (om and #randma had a lot of catching u to do. I ro!a!ly could have gotten away with !eing selfish and kee ing her all to myself, !ut instead I e5cused myself and headed for my room. I told mom I was going to freshen u a little, and that she could come u to my room when she finished with #randma. I was a little disa ointed when I to ed the stairs and turned down the hall headed to my room. (att, Ava, and Aenna were standing in front of Ava,s door talking. I knew immediately that alone time was retty much out of the 3uestion, so I invited them to my room. .e took our laces around the fire lace as Ava went to the fridge and got us some sodas. 'Are you ok, man* 2ou seem a little sad to have -ust gotten your mom !ack,+ said (att. '(y dad,s dead,+ I said as I told them every detail I could remem!er from my mom,s story. I didn,t reali$e until after I finished telling them that tears had again started rolling down my cheeks. Ava moved closer to me on the couch and ut her arms around me. I had so wanted to !e alone, !ut I was glad Ava was there to comfort me. '8uke, I am sorry a!out your dad,+ said Aenna. 'So am I. And we are very ha the couch. '.e have to do something a!out /hados,+ said (att. y for you that you have your mom now,+ said Ava as she continued to hold me there on

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'2eah, I think we should do something !efore he attacks us again,+ added Aenna. '/o,+ I said a little more loudly than necessary as I sat u straight and moved away from Ava a little !it. 'I really think they are right,+ said Ava. 'I think for now we need to -ust stay here at the mansion where it is safe. I know /hados will ro!a!ly attack eventually, !ut he has to !reak through the rotection !arriers first. I think that we should s end some time re aring for the day that he does come instead of running into another !attle. I definitely don,t want to lose anyone else to /hados,+ I e5 lained. I lost my father, and I refuse to lose another family mem!er,+ I said looking at each one of them directly for a few seconds. I wanted them to know I care for all of them as though they were family. 'That definitely makes sense,+ said (att. 'That would ro!a!ly !e a very smart thing to do,+ added Aenna. 'I think we need more training !efore we rush into !attle with this murderer. I also think that even though we are technically still kids, we need to grow u and start thinking more like adults. .e can,t get all hot headed and rush into things that could otentially cost one of us our lives,+ I tried to e5 lain to the grou . '2ou,re right. I couldn,t take it if one of us were to die,+ said Ava.

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'I know we are headed toward a great !attle against /hados. I have already acce ted that. I will avenge my father,s death if it is the last thing I do. I also know that if I were to go to !attle now, my emotions would take over and I wouldn,t !e a!le to focus on the !attle through my anger. I want him dead more than anything right now, !ut I don,t want any of us to die in the rocess,+ I told them. ')ey; .hy are you guys not in class*+ I asked changing the su!-ect com letely. 'Aack didn,t show u for class,+ said Ava. '2eah, so we had a free eriod,+ said (att. 'Bh,+ I e5claimed. 'It,s time for us to !e getting !ack though,+ said Aenna. The rest of the gang e5cused themselves from the room to head !ack to class. .hen everyone was out I closed the door and headed for my !ed. I decided to lie down for a while. I was still retty worn out from slee ing in the chair ne5t to mom,s !ed all night. As soon as my head hit the illow I !lacked out and a new vision came into focus. I was standing in a room looking down at someone in a hos ital !ed. I didn,t think I was in a hos ital, !ut the man was definitely in a hos ital !ed. The man had all sorts of hoses and tu!es coming out of his !ody in every direction. I walked closer to the !ed to see who it might !e. I felt com letely terrified to find out who it was. As I reached the side of the man,s !ed I noticed that his face was !adly in-ured. )is

24:

face was cut and !ruised to the oint that he was com letely unrecogni$a!le. I came to looking u at the ceiling in my !edroom. I couldn,t remem!er ever !eing in a room like the one from my vision. I wondered if the room could !e somewhere in the mansion. I came to suddenly. Thoughts flooded me from every direction a!out the vision I had -ust e5 erienced. .as this someone I knew* .as it someone I had already met, or someone I would meet in the future* (y train of thought caused my stomach to do a fli flo as the ne5t thought rushed into my head. I decided immediately to kee this vision to myself until I figured some things out. The more I thought of the vision the more I came to reali$e it might actually !e true. I knew the man in the !ed was a vam ire. I could see his fangs e5tended with his mouth hanging slightly o en. .ho could this man !e* The thought was in my head !ut I didn,t know if I could say it out loud. .as the man from my vision my father*

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%o"e 6oin Travis to learn "ore abo#t The Silent Sol iers series an other +riting pro6ects in +hich he is c#rrently +or1ing on!

85A?http-..eeriealliance!blogspot!co" /A%E8AAC +++!&aceboo1!co".trvsstinnett TEITTER ,@STBesigns

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