(A word from Jared.)
I had an uneasy feeling walking into the Grand Hall side by side with an angel. Who does that? Who walks into a den of blood demons, night cats, and vampires with an archangel and says “I’m fighting on his team” without a disaster and a fight immediately afterwards? Us apparently. He must have some sort of cloaking mechanism or something because no one seemed to notice that a angel who was not here to feed off of the blood or souls of the contestants was registering us at the Formidable Counter. The Formidable Counter is connected to a series of handlers who adjust the bets, arrange the matches, and puts the entertainment pieces of this whole ordeal together.
It’s kind of like watching a boxing match or something where your champion comes in with their entourage, music, taunts etc and steps onto the stage. We have to fight in 8 cage matches, 5 arenas near either lava or actual fire, and 9 territorial disputes. If we win the territories will be under Raphael’s protection and the blood demons will have lost their footing in Asia. Altogether, there are about 27 fights each contestant can be entered into and a double dog dare to survive even half of them.
I found a kind of comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. But, at the same time I kind of felt guilty for dragging Bryan into it. I mean, he is going way beyond the call of duty as a friend right now.
“Bro, I’m sorry I got you into this okay.” I told him under my breath.
“I was bored and a glutton for punishment.” He said sighing.
“No, for real though. You could be in England at a party and instead you’re here. You’re a good friend Bryan.” I continued.
“I know what you’re thinking. I’m not here for Lilli’s sake or out of some lingering affection for her. And I’m not here just for you either.” Bryan told me.
“I know. But, still.” I insisted. I may have just gotten him killed in the long run by asking for his help. Even after we finish here with the angel’s help we still have a hell of a long way to go before either one of us can think about going home. And then what? Go back to our normal lives after this? How can you just pick up where you left off unchanged?
“Good observation.” Raphael said and looked at me.
“You heard that?” I asked surprised.
“I hear it all.” He said smiling warmly.
“He reads thoughts Jared, so keep yours pure.” Bryan said almost snickering.
I was glad I hadn’t let my mind wander to Lilli and what she may possibly be wearing right now.
“The key to being a vampire is to remain unchanged. It is only when grow that you pose a threat to Primus’ empire. You were not meant for this life.” Raphael explained.
“What about me? Was I destined to be damned?” Bryan all but snarled.
“You were meant to live in the era you were born in and this one. But, no one was born to be undead Bryan. Whether or not you remain that way is up to you.” Raphael countered.
“So, it’s my own fault for not choosing to become human like Paul did is what you’re saying?” Bryan asked. He was angry, but you could tell he felt guilty and stupid at the same time.
“If you had, you would not have survived to live in this era. What I am simply calling to your attention, is that Paul will succeed and when he does it will be your choice to either regain your humanity in the blink of an eye at the moment of making that choice, or to stubbornly remain as you are.” Raphael clarified.
“So, once Paul makes it I can just decide that I want to be human again and then BOOM I’m human?” I asked. I was genuinely shocked that it would be that easy.
“Basically. An angel came to you to explain that you had been turned into a vampire and an angel will also appear to confirm that you are human again once it’s done.” He continued to explain.
I felt better. I felt like my chances were good and that I would not personally have to commit treason after all. Maybe I don’t need Amelia’s help as desperately as I thought I did. For a long time I thought I would have to do something to help Paul, but he’s doing just fine on his own. My greatest challenge will be to convince Lilli to join me in humanness once Paul has succeeded. Bryan too I hope. I’d like our little group to be eligible to get into heaven. I mean, if angels and blood demons are real…. What about the rest?
“You will still need Amelia’s help.” Raphael said as he signed off on our registration paperwork.
It was a dark, dank, place that reeked of the old world. A place long forgotten and yet just as commonplace to the vampires who live here as a shopping mall would be to a human. How have they lived in such preservation of old world history without at least wanting to break away and enjoy the industrial revolution humans went through? I doubt this place is earthquake-proof.
A beautiful girl, small frame, toned build, white hair, and probably no older than a teenage porcelain doll approached us. Raphael seemed to know her. A million questions about his motive and how he could possibly know anyone here flew through my mind before I could catch myself. He seemed amused.
“Hello Jared. My name is Amelia. I will be on the team Raphael has put together to bring blood demon territories under our protection. But, as I’m sure he’s mentioned, I do have a fee.” Amelia cheerfully greeted us.
I suddenly felt ashamed for doubting him.
“Good to meet you.” Bryan offered while visually sizing her up. I’m sure he came to the same conclusion I did. That could be his next girlfriend. “What fee exactly?”
She looked mischievously at Raphael knowing he had not said a word. He looked away not wanting to give away her secrets.
“You actually.” She told Bryan while twirling her hair.
Granted, being where we are I thought she may have meant for dinner. But, that would hardly do since an angel is traveling with us.
“Come again?” Bryan asked with his jaw ready to drop on the ground at how he could have suddenly turned into a commodity.
“Yeah. Now that I see the both of you together, you’re definitely the one I want to take as payment. No offense Jared.” She smiled flirtatiously.
“None taken.” As the idea of what she meant sunk in more and more.
“Wait a minute. Are you saying…” Bryan began.
“I’m not lifting a finger unless we’re married. I won’t even enter a fight. I have to take a husband once every 200 years and you are just perfect.” She bubbled over.
I wanted to laugh so badly.
“How old are you?” Bryan began, wanting to address her as a child.
“Older than you. I look good for my age. I was born over 1,100 years ago. I am part angel and as such am almost immortal. You will do quite nicely. Raphael will pronounce us man and wife once you have agreed to my terms. After that, I will help you here, and in Tibet with your mom and brother. Do we have a deal?” Amelia continued.
“Yeah Bryan. Do you have a deal?” I chimed in being a brat. Lilli would have laughed her ass off.