Best Friend For Hire, Entry 336

“James!” exclaimed Jarod before looking up to see how many of us were on the lift. “And more visitors!”

“Sorry to intrude, but we knew Dani would love to see your lab and needs her suit to keep up around here.” explained Alma. “Aurora works this late?”

“Occasionally, though not frequently. Don’t worry. Her parents are informed.” he explained.

“I wasn’t worried, just surprised.” she replied.

Aurora was piecing together the prototype vehicle… or just napping inside of it. I couldn’t really tell from this angle, since I couldn’t see her head.

“Aurora? Oh! I remember!” exclaimed Dani leaning precariously over the lift’s edge to try looking at her.

My little fairy friend flew down there and started circling the vehicle.

Smiling up at us, Jarod told her “I loved your painting earlier, Dani. Sorry that I didn’t stick around longer, but I wanted to get some more work done.”

“Where did Ai and Mai go?” inquired Dani, jumping off the lift before it reached the bottom, using a spell to slow her descent, and glancing around. “I thought they’d be with you.”

“They’re probably doing their own work. Alma likes to keep them busy.” he replied, shrugging.

“Mom? Why!?” asked Dani as she spun to look at Alma and jumped over to her as we touched down.

“Dani, you know that civilizations need workers to continue developing.” stated Alma as she brushed back some of Dani’s hair from her face.

“But they’re so happy around him!” exclaimed Dani, practically pouting.

“And I’m happy when I’m with them, but they don’t really enjoy watching me work and can be a bit distracting.” insisted Jarod.

“But… but…” started Dani before stepping closer to Emma, staring into her eyes. “What’s wrong? I know what you’re feeling… that you sense what I feel as well. Don’t you think they’re better when they’re together?”

Emma looked shocked, actually stepping back slightly and looking away.

Cosette stepped up between them and said, “What do you feel from me?”

“Amusement, among other things. You’re hiding something.” stated Dani, reaching up to place her hand on Cosette’s face. “Daddy! She’s cold!” exclaimed Dani as she glanced at me.

“Didn’t notice earlier?” I inquired.

“No, we never touched till now. She’s too fast.” complained Dani.

“What..!?” exclaimed Cosette, quickly stepping away from Dani.

“Dani, behave.” stated Alma.

“But… I was just…” she started, but then said, “Fiiine.”

“What were you doing to me?” questioned Cosette.

“Showing you what I feel.” pouted Dani.

“You can do that?” inquired Jarod. When she nodded, he asked “Mind showing me?”

Dani grinned and so did Jarod.

“What sort of range do you have for… whatever you call that?” he inquired.

Dani shrugged

“Several hundred feet at least. You should try hide-and-seek with her.” suggested Alma

“I wouldn’t stand a chance against either of you.” he admitted.

“Still could be fun to try. There’s nothing wrong with practicing stealth.” claimed Cosette as she eyed Dani curiously.

“Sure. I’d like a couple weeks to prepare first. I have a few things I’d like to test out.” replied Jarod.

“I don’t suppose we can add ‘no gizmos’ to the rules.” teased Emma, though she was still watching Dani as well.

I hoped she was doing as I asked, trying to observe my daughter before becoming attached. Her discomfort seemed to indicate she was.

Dani spun around and attempted to hug Aurora, who had wandered up behind her, but Aurora stepped out of the way too quickly, grabbing one of Dani’s arms and examining it. The little fairy had followed Aurora and started doing circles around both of them.

“Daddy, I need my suit!” complained Dani. Then she slowly reached over and touched Aurora’s golden brown hair, grinning when Aurora didn’t move this time.

“Yes, but you need to go over designs with your mom first.” I told her.

“Designs? Planning a modification without me?” inquired Jarod.

“No, you’re here.” I teased. “Alma and I have been talking about the possibility of reducing the suit’s bulk by decreasing the synthetic muscle mass. If I’ve successfully fine-tuned my spells for it, there shouldn’t be too much of a drop off compared with the enhancement currently provided.”

“I’ve honestly wondered if the suit’s even needed or if most of the work is done by your spells.” admitted Jarod.

“My spells enhance what’s there first and foremost. Unfortunately, flesh can’t hold the enchantment, or I’d be able to use this directly on people. I did add spell layers which should further enhance the muscles of the suit’s wearer as well as general durability of the wearer’s skin, muscles, and bones, but there still will be a net loss compared with what the enchantment would do on the current suit design until you come up with even more incredible fibers.” I explained, having already seen what the suits will eventually become.

“I would have thought the spells used to add the morphic quality on my suit could be used to reinforce muscles as used. The effect seems to be rapid enough.” suggested Cosette.

I smiled at her as several of the others stared.

“What?” she asked. “I study and pay attention.”

“I’m actually going to be using something of that nature on Dani’s suit.” I promised.

Cosette nodded, not seeming surprised.

“Dani, let’s start looking over possible designs.” stated Alma, pulling Dani away from Aurora, who had moved onto examining Dani’s hair.

I didn’t know what Alma conveyed to Aurora with her telepathic ability, but Aurora seemed to understand, meandering back toward the vehicle prototype.

“I still am not used to the idea of you being called ‘daddy’. Might take a few weeks.” suggested Jarod after stepping closer to us. “Do I get to tell my parents?”

“Of course. We’re not going to hide her, though we are going to disguise her in public.” I explained.

Smiling, he inquired, “Don’t think the pink skin will go over well?”

“She’d certainly draw attention.” I agreed.

“What’s on your belt?” he then inquired.

“Pardon?” I inquired, confused at first. Realizing what he meant, I said, “Oh. Well, Excalibur draws attention as well, so I started using an illusion over it.” I hardly even thought about carrying it anymore. “How did you notice?’

“I wasn’t even aware that you decided to take the sword on your honeymoon. The way you move gives away that something’s there. You turn or step around people now as if you’re keeping them from hitting something.” he explained.

“Ah. At least I no longer rest my hand on it. That was a bit awkward for a while.” I admitted. “Care to show me the designs for this new project of yours?”

He grinned again and said, “Sure thing! I was hoping you’d be willing to work out a spell to power it.”

“Happily, though you won’t be able to market them with a magical power source.” I stated, curious what his plan was.

“I know, but I still haven’t found a solid solution yet. Aaliyah keeps telling me to give myself time, but impatience has been winning out lately.” he explained.

“Why not take advantage of Maxine’s knowledge?” suggested Cosette.

Nodding and smiling, Emma said, “Portentia and Mila seem to be keeping her out of trouble.”

“Has she inquired about making a new optical device yet?” I questioned.

“No. I really don’t want to work with her on principle, but she’s brilliant. I know discussing designs with her could be nice if she was forthcoming about her achievements.” he told me.

“She’s probably planning on waiting us out still, but I can try to persuade her if you aren’t opposed to giving her a chance. I’d like to believe she can change.” I assured him, already knowing she would change eventually.

He nodded, so I made a mental note to talk with her again soon. In my travels, I saw part of this world’s future, a future without strife for those who stayed behind, and Maxine was one of those who remained here. Things would work out.

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Best Friend For Hire, Entry 335

“What’s up, man-slave?” inquired Emma as she stepped into my office, glancing around. “This looks incredible.”

My parents had left shortly after mother finished her painting. Surprisingly, they accepted a ride from Mila, who also drove father’s car back for him.

“Mila certainly knows how to choose interesting landscape.” I replied with a smile. Mila contained an incredible amount of information from my travels. “Please, take a seat.”

“Is something wrong?” inquired Emma, nervously poking what appeared to be a rock with a chair carved into it.

Nodding, I said, “Yes, Emma. Doom is upon us. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save this world. You must cross the inescapable labyrinth, attain the heart of the world, feed it to the nearest creature you find, and then do five jumping jacks while singing Never Gonna Give You Up.”

“Man-slave, you suck.” she replied, crossing her arms and plopping into the chair she had been poking.

I laughed and told her “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

“So do I have some incredibly awkward job coming?” she asked, lounging backward.

“Oh. No. I just wanted to give you a warning.” I replied with a shrug.

Sitting up in surprise, she inquired “Like a formal ‘don’t do it again’ job warning?”

“No. This isn’t precisely work related. I wanted to warn you not to get too attached to Dani.” I explained. Seeing her slump, I quickly told her “I’m not saying you can’t date her if you really want or anything of the sort. I’m concerned that she might hurt you on accident. Dani is from a very, very different culture, one that doesn’t practice monogamy… or the idea of personal space, for that matter. She’ll follow her emotions wherever they go if her good sense doesn’t catch her in time.”

Emma frowned, not looking particularly convinced as she watched the little fairy napping on my desk.

“I know this isn’t the easiest thing to hear, but please trust me enough to guard yourself for a while. Make observations and come to your own conclusions. I’ll be taking Dani into the forest soon, and I would very much like for you to join us if you’re willing.” I told her.

“Are you nervous?” she asked.

“Of course. I don’t want you to get hurt.” I told her.

“You don’t really seem nervous. Something’s changed about you.” she told me.

“Marriage can have strange effects on people” I replied with a smile.

She nodded and asked “What do you think will happen with Dani in the forest?”

“She’s going to be swept up in the emotions of the fey. You know how overwhelming they can be for people. Imagine getting a double dose of their emotions. Dani’s empathic abilities are an inborn magical trait that she cannot shut off. If she gets too caught up in what the fey are feeling, she might start projecting her own emotions on them as well. Things could get out of hand very, very quick.” I insisted.

“Can’t you do anything to stop it?” inquired Emma. “I know you’re way ahead of me in magical knowledge these days.”

I shrugged and said, “I’m capable of dampening what she feels or even cutting off her sense entirely with spells, but I promised not to do that to her again. She was quite clear that it’s far worse than being blinded or deafened to her.”

“Really?” asked Emma, seeming dubious.

“She connects with others through their emotions and is accustomed to that just being part of her.” I insisted.

“I mean, the idea makes sense. I can kinda empathize, given how I feel when communicating as the fey do, but I’ve never wanted that feeling all the time.” she replied.

“If you’ll join us, I’d suggest using that ability on Dani while we’re in the forest. You’ll see.” I assured her.

“Sure, man-slave. I’ll join you. First, I’ve gotta ask how Dani convinced Alma to let her wear that outfit.” she insisted.

“That’s modest by her people’s tastes, though I’m sure my parents will be asking me about it and others later. You can just ask Alma yourself.” I replied.

“Will your wifey be joining us?” inquired Emma with a grin.

I laughed, pointed to the doorway where Alma stood, and said, “Really, just ask.”

Emma jumped and looked.

Rolling her eyes, Alma told me “James, you’re terrible. Let’s be off. Dani is already out back.”

I shrugged and followed her with Emma in tow. When we arrived outside, Cosette and Dani were doing tricks on the zoomies that would make the average human feel alarmed.

“You’re not trying to lure my daughter away for a bite, are you?” I teased.

“What’s wrong with a bite in the moonlight?” inquired Cosette, grinning at me with elongated fangs.

“I would very much appreciate having Dani intact when she first meets the rest of the fey.” stated Alma.

“But I can have a bite afterward?” teased Cosette.

At the same time, Dani asked “Where’s my little friend?”

“She’ll be along soon, I’m sure. Are you joining us, Cosette?” I inquired.

“Of course. I’m intrigued.” she insisted.

I nodded and led the way with Dani and Cosette flying circles around us. We were nearly there before my little fairy friend caught up with us, complaining that I didn’t carry her with me.

“Let’s leave the zoomies out here.” I stated.

Dani sighed dramatically before saying, “Yes, daddy.”

“What happened with Kayla?” inquired Alma.

“Jemal came to get her. She apparently hadn’t finished her homework today.” explained Dani. “He’s really umm…” she started, moving her hands all over while wiggling her fingers.

“Fidgety?” suggested Alma.

“Yes! Fidgety. He seemed to like me though.” she replied, casually hugging Emma after stepping off the zoomie.

Emma grinned at first, but the grin faded as she looked at me. Cosette came around to Emma’s other side and draped her arm over Emma’s shoulders as she leaned into her.

Spotting some of the fey already lurking near the edge for the forest, I said, “Well, here we go.”

Stepping into the forest, I heard Dani gasp. Her planet was filled with residual energy, but not like this. They used far too much of it and produced far less per person.

“Emma, is that you!?” exclaimed Dani.

Emma nodded, smiling as Dani hugged her.

“That’s so cool! I knew mom could do it, but I didn’t realize you could too!” exclaimed Dani.

Dani’s grin widened as she stared around. Numerous fey were coming to greet us. Flying, tunneling, rolling, and skipping, they were eager as ever.

“What’s wrong?” asked Dani, practically bouncing as she watched Emma stiffen slightly.

“Nothing. I just need a moment. Wasn’t quite ready for all of them.” claimed Emma before glancing at me.

I hugged my wife as the fey surrounded us. Dani, however, was already engulfed in their glee, chasing after one who looked like a small, rolling stone. As the minutes ticked by, her energy only seemed to grow. I quickly retrieved her when one of the fey started kissing her hand.

“Daddy, why!?” exclaimed Dani when I set her down a ways out from the forest. “They’re so… so…”

“Passionate?” I inquired.

“Maybe!” exclaimed Dani, obviously not understanding the word.

Alma was quick to join us, and Dani started calming down.

“That was interesting.” commented Cosette as she came towards us with Emma. “I never expected to see anyone receive half as much attention from them as you, James.”

“Dani has a way with people.” I told her.

“Magical way?” she suggested.

“More chemical, though I suspect her magic plays a part.” replied Alma as she hugged our daughter.

“Chemical!?” inquired Emma.

“Potent pheromones.” I explained. “She exudes a large variety.”

Dani stuck her tongue at me. “I hate that explanation. Can’t I just be likable?”

I laughed and said, “Sorry, but many here have inquiring minds.”

Cosette, who was nodding, obviously did. I wondered if she actually felt any of the effects from my daughter. I would guess not, given her biology, but there was always a chance.

“Let’s go see if Jarod’s in his lab. We need to get Dani’s enhancement suit started, and my wife will surely want to help debate the style.” I announced.

I already knew he would be, since Mila had shown me a little of his latest experiment. Jarod, Mila, and Aurora were building a sort of flying vehicle. Mila had seen enough on other planets that she could easily give numerous pointers, but I doubted she would be too forthcoming with alien technology. Dani, however, might get a bit enthusiastic.

Best Friend For Hire, Entry 332

As Mila drove the limo down my driveway, Dani was practically bouncing in her seat, looking around at everything with obvious excitement. I hoped she was ready for this; I hoped I was ready for this. Explaining how Alma and I went on a honeymoon for two weeks and came back with a daughter who appeared to be near our age ― a girl with taffy-colored skin and cobalt blue hair tipped in black dye ― would be a bit of a shocking tale, even in my household. We all had agreed not to give a full account though. We couldn’t, at least not yet.

“Is that really the house? It’s huge!” exclaimed Dani after Alma gave her a nod.

“Your father and I will be occupying the second and third floor of the center part. We’re letting you have your way with my old wing in the West.” explained Alma, pointing toward the wing.

Grinning, Dani asked “And the first floor is for everyone, right?”

“Sure is.” I told her, smiling.

When I left here, I wasn’t that many years older than Dani. I couldn’t even guess my age now. Aaliyah offered to tell me, but I had told her not to make me feel old. As far as most people on this planet knew, I was still nineteen, and I needed to act the part as best as I could.

Dani led the way to the doors, practically running the moment the car stopped. Alma and I followed behind her, taking things slowly. We had spent the last two weeks on our island, attempting to finish acclimating Dani to the world, since Aaliyah didn’t want to “spoil our fun” with a more efficient course. Things would work out one way or another. Our lives were guaranteed to go well for many years.

“Z-, er… daddy, what’s with all these umm…” started Dani, spinning as she looked around.

“Engravings. They’re telling a story about a wonderful woman.” I explained, almost through the door.

“Who are you?” called Emma from down the hall as she jogged toward Dani.

I was about to reply when I felt someone tug my shirt from behind me.

“D-daddy?” asked Raine, staring up at me with wide eyes.

Adjusting to her speed again would take some time. She let me grab her shoulders, lift her, and deposit her inside next to my daughter.

“You must be Emma!” exclaimed Dani as she hugged Emma and gave her a kiss. “I’ve heard so much about you!”

Emma smiled and blushed as she inquired “Good things?”

“Emma, Raine… meet Dani.” I told them, releasing Raine from my grip.

Dani turned at Raine’s name, exclaiming “You’re the fluffy one!”

Raine was shaking slightly as Dani hugged her and kissed her forehead, but that was to be expected.

“Y-you… sm-smell good.” mumbled Raine.

“Guys, James and Alma are back, and they brought someone new!” exclaimed Brenna from the ballroom doorway.

“Sooo fluffy!” exclaimed Dani, still hugging Raine and playing with her hair.

Alma and I stepped out of the way as Mila brought our luggage inside. Portentia, Maxine, and Cosette were coming out of the ballroom behind Brenna. I spotted Jarod, Ai, and Mai coming down the hall, so Mila apparently notified them as well.

“Dani, don’t upset Raine.” cautioned Alma.

“Sorry, mom. I’m just excited!” she exclaimed as she released Raine from her embrace. “Raine’s hair is spectacular. Of course, so is yours, Emma!”

Dani couldn’t smile without it seeming flirtatious, and I would need to warn Emma before she got her hopes up too high. I didn’t care if the two had some sort of relationship eventually, but I wasn’t going to have Emma’s hopes crushed by Dani’s nature. Dani’s entire species was beautiful, empathic, capable of magic, and completely incapable of monogamy. The concept was far too alien for them to really believe. We knew quite well from our brief visits to their world and our attempts to get the idea through to Dani. Like the fey in my forest, they were a species of whim and strong emotions, though Dani’s species could show remarkable focus when passion drove them to a task.

I quickly grabbed Dani before she went around hugging every last one of them. Then I said, “Everyone, this is Dani Lyshaa Somerset. Alma and I adopted her while we were away.”

“Adopted!? Isn’t she around our age?” asked Jarod.

“Yes, but adopting her was the easiest way to get her into the country. Aaliyah assured me that all of the paperwork has been pushed through already, so she’s officially our child. Please help her as she acclimates to things around here and tell me if she gets into too much trouble.” I explained, doing my best not to smirk at the looks of shock.

If they knew how many years Alma and I spent raising Dani, they would really be in for a shock, but that was a story I would never share with everyone here, despite how much they might enjoy being regaled by our adventures.

“Can I be there when you tell your parents?” inquired Cosette with a smile.

“They’ll be here this evening, so any of you who aren’t working might be around.” I replied. “One last announcement that my parents will soon be privy to as well…”

Everyone looked at me expectantly, so I glanced at Alma to see if she wanted the honors.

“James, really… I thought we’d tell your parents first.” she stated, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. Then she sighed and said, “Fine. I suppose they might as well find out first. I’m pregnant.”

Following shouts of shock, several of them quickly congratulated us. Alma and I thanked everyone, happy to be home. The baby had certainly been a shock when Aaliyah informed us that the time was coming for us to return home. We declined letting her tell us the precise date of birth or gender, preferring the surprise, but we actually did know the month. Alma was already four months pregnant and starting to show slightly, but she had another eight and a half to go.

Dani was practically bouncing under my hand. She couldn’t be expected to contain her excitement when feeling the excitement of everyone around her. I let her go, knowing that I couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.

She hugged Brenna, kissing her cheek as Brenna turned her head. Then she looked over to Maxine for a moment before rushing her.

“Daddy, is this the criminal!?” exclaimed Dani as she hugged Maxine.

“Yes, so you should be careful around her.” warned Portentia, looking confused as Dani pulled her into the hug.

“And you’re Portentia. Your skin is sooo beautiful.” she insisted.

“Lady Pendreigh…” started Mai.

“Girls, just call me Alma. I’m married. Let’s drop titles and formalities while at home.” insisted Alma.

Ai and Mai stared at her in wide-eyed shock, glancing at one another in obvious bewilderment.

“A-Alma…” started Ai.

“Not to be rude, but…” continued Mai as she eyed Dani.

“What’s with my skin?” asked Dani, interrupting them.

“And hair.” stated the twins.

“All natural! Be jam.” replied Dani, releasing Portentia and Maxine to approach them.

“Jelly.” I corrected.

At the same time, Alma said, “Jealous.”

“Pleased to meet you all. Mom told me not to kiss you because you’re married.” explained Dani as she held out a hand to each of them while standing all too close to Jarod.

He took a step back between Ai and Mai, reaching a hand between them when Dani went to shake his hand.

Smirking, Alma said, “I actually warned you against kissing people at random, since many will find it confusing and even disturbing, married couples especially.”

“But they’re all so pretty…” complained Dani.

“Behave.” I chided. “Let’s get you set for playing that game I’ve been telling you about before my parents arrive.”

“Yes!” she exclaimed, hugging my arm as I showed her into the ballroom with several of my friends in tow.

I wasn’t certain how well she’d be able to sit still at the moment, but the others might calm down enough to help Dani calm down with a bit of gaming. Introducing my daughter to my parents was going to be interesting enough without her feeling rambunctious.

Best Friend For Hire, Entry 329

I should have expected that more vampires would be attending my wedding than just the brothers, Ariadne, and Cosette, but their presence worried me. I feared that the large number of vampires would encourage the Slayers and family to act out. Then again, Carl and Aaliyah could handle the lot if necessary without anyone getting hurt. The ability to manipulate time was an incredible advantage, which was surely being done for the arrangement with the Intergalactic House of Awesome Sauce to help Marco for the reception.

Introducing Jarod, Ai, and Mai to the assembled vampires was entertaining. Ai and Mai were on their best behavior, though they were obviously uncomfortable. They had strong opinions about the bride not being seen on her wedding day. Even with so many hours to go, they protested Alma’s presence and escorted her away. Jarod was equally quick to ask questions about the vampire’s lives as soon as the twins were gone. Not all of the vampires were forthcoming, but Vito, Papak, and Zachary seemed happy to sate his curiosity.

The moment Portentia approached us ― apparently home from her nightly patrol, Ariadne called to her. “Portentia! James mentioned that you’ll be tending to our needs if we find the sun too inhospitable after a time.”

Smiling and nodding, Portentia said, “Of course! If any of you would like to get your fill in preparation, a room has already been set aside for your needs. Mila will ensure our privacy.”

“Mila?” asked David.

“Yes?” replied Mila, her voice emanating from the speakers hidden throughout the walls in a loud whisper.

“Mila is the artificially constructed daughter of Aaliyah, my secretary.” I explained. “She has complete control of the house and four bodies now. Sorry that I didn’t introduce her sooner, but I was waiting till one of her bodies happened by.”

“Oh, master, you need only have called.” she cooed. “I’ll be there shortly.”

“No need, Mila. I’m sure you’re already engaged in something important.” I told her.

“Nothing’s more important than you, master.” she teased.

“And how is she supposed to ensure privacy?” asked David.

The wall opened behind him and a gun was deployed at his back. “I’m fully armed for minor inconveniences, and Raine is on call for anything major.” she explained.

“R-” started David, jumping back into the gun as Raine appeared in front of him.

Looking over to me, Raine, barely speaking above a whisper, asked “M-mila said I w-was… n-needed. Is… s-something wrong?”

“No. Sorry, Raine. Mila merely wanted a demonstration to assuage David here of his worries.” I assured her.

She nodded and ran off quicker than I could see. Papak started laughing, a deep rumbling sound filled with glee.

“I can also help with minor inconveniences.” announced Portentia, waving her hand as if to volunteer.

“As the brothers can assure you, I have a formidable staff, perfectly capable of helping my guests from disrupting one another.” I stated, hoping to enforce David’s feeling of security here.

“You forget, David. Death herself has sworn to claim anyone who would disrupt James and Alma’s wedding. There will be no problems here.” insisted Zachary.

I frowned. Aaliyah failed to mention that to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sent out contracts to everyone attending, having them swear their good will.

“Unlike you, I haven’t met her.” muttered David.

“What’s she like? James doesn’t like speaking of her.” commented Jarod.

Zachary shrugged.

“You really want to know?” asked Papak with a grin.

“Sure!” exclaimed Jarod.

Ariadne rolled her eyes while shaking her head.

Papak looked around, the grin diminishing on his face into a somber expression. Then he said, “Imagine feeling nearly invincible in a time when the wheel was rare, new tech for humanity. You’re exploring the world, drunk on your own power, when you come across an incredibly large monster that makes me seem beautiful in comparison. You, in your arrogance, try to fight the beast just to test your strength, certain that you can escape. To your horror, the creature not only proves faster and stronger than you, but its touch sucks the energy out of you, allowing you no means of escape. For the first time in years, you understand stark terror, realizing the futility of your situation. Your dying and there’s nothing you can do to survive. As you fail to scream due to lack of strength in mind and body, your entire body manages to seize up as you’re suddenly very aware that something far more terrifying exists. The nightmarish terror which easily vanquished you is brushed aside as insignificant dust in a summer’s breeze. Hours later, you might still be on the ground where you dropped, shaking uncontrollably while knowing in your heart that you certainly would have died of fear were you merely human. That is what Death is like, an absolute fear that strips you of all rationale with her presence while somehow instilling inside you the idea that your existence is very mortal.”

As he spoke, Papak had slowly crept toward Jarod till he was towering over him at the end, blocking out the light with his massive wings. He quickly backed off after he finished, grinning widely again.

Jarod nodded and smiled, though I could tell he looked nervous. “She must make a fortune at Halloween events.” he teased.

“Oh, yes. Screams to die for.” wryly replied Vito.

“Personally, I find she just needs a firm rebuke when she just goes too far.” claimed Ariadne.

“For you, that might work. In over thirteen thousand years, my arguments have ceased to change her mind.” insisted Vito.

“She listens to James just fine.” argued Ariadne.

Everyone listens to James.” teased Jarod.

I sighed and said, “They might listen, but not everyone agrees with me. I am rather young, after all, so there’s much to learn.”

Azizah, who had been quietly watching the exchange with the other vampires, spoke up, asking “What sort of magic are you using on us? I know why I’m here, the significance of your marriage, and next to nothing about you, but I am inordinately attracted to you.”

“Azizah, did I not say James was charming?” teased Zachary.

“Sorry, but my body emanates a magical field of sorts, compelling people to like me. I can’t stop it without completely depriving myself of energy.” I explained. “I can show you the spell Alma uses to help reduce the effect if you like.”

“Unfortunately, I lack any magical gifts outside what’s in my blood.” she replied. “That being said, I accept the brother’s judgement about you, affected as they may be.”

“Awesome.” mumbled Cosette, who had been watching the brothers with starry-eyed glee since their arrival.

“I think I’ll take you up on that snack if you truly don’t mind.” stated David to Portentia.

“Very, very small sips.” warned Ariadne. “Vito and I will accompany you, just in case. Her blood is… potent.”

Vito nodded and followed Portentia and David out with a couple of the other vampires in tow. The strange relationship between Vito and Ariadne still amused me, given their appearances and actual age difference, but the brothers were obviously quite fond of Ariadne.

“When do you expect Adelmar to be arriving?” inquired Zachary.

“Given the plane’s current velocity, Adelmar and Anwen will be landing in just over three hours.” stated Mila before I could admit my ignorance. “Numerous relatives of his will be arriving sooner, so the pre-wedding entertainment will begin around eleven if you wish to socialize.”

“Lovely. Let’s hope Adelmar does not wish to speak with us before the wedding. With only hours to spare, his grand speeches might delay the wedding if he does.” he teased, earning a few laughs from those assembled.

I smiled as well, not particularly fond of Adelmar’s speeches. Still, the current company was excellent, and this seemed like a fine start to my day.

Best Friend For Hire, Entry 328

“I was putting in place the enchantment to help you three and others blend in with my guests. Sorry if I startled you.” I replied to Papak.

“And what are you insinuating?” asked Alma as she stepped around me to glare at Papak.

He grinned.

“You can come out, Raine. They’re fine.” I called, having felt her presence in the bushes.

Papak moved to grab the tiny kitten from the bushes, but found himself clutching air. “Illusion?” he asked.

“No. Half-demon. She’s that fast.” I replied.

“Half-demon?” inquired Vito, finally joining us. “Yes. I remember Ariadne mentioning her.”

“My brother didn’t mean to startle you, Raine. Would you mind joining us?” asked Zachary.

I suddenly felt her pressed behind me, shaking slightly. The poor girl was all nerves about today.

“Raine, this is Vito, Papak, and Zachary, eldest of the vampires. Gentlemen, this is Raine.” I announced, gesturing to each in turn.

“We would never try to hurt a friend of James.” stated Papak as the giant man leaned to look around me.

“Raine, please don’t cling to my fiancée on our wedding day. Rumors will spread.” suggested Alma as she gently guided Raine out from behind me.

“You’re a pretty one, aren’t you.” cooed Vito, possibly admiring Raine’s dress.

Seeing Raine out from under her hoodie was quite rare. I hoped no one attempted to get too friendly with her during the reception. The poor girl might forget herself and run. She probably was trying to work up her courage by wearing it already.

As he spoke, Aaliyah appeared behind him with Ariadne, winking and vanishing a moment later.

“Vito, are you hitting on this child?” inquired Ariadne as she stepped up behind him.

“No. I was merely acknowledging that she is pretty. I expected a demon’s spawn to be more like Papak.” he replied, gesturing to his brother for emphasis.

“What are you trying to say?” asked Papak as he lifted his brother in one hand. Then he pointed at Raine and asked “Why’s she shaking?”

“S-sorry.” mumbled Raine in a whisper. Her position suddenly shifted.

“What!? I… I… I…” started Cosette, staring around wildly.

“Gentleman, this is Cosette Bourbon. She obviously knows who you three are.” I explained.

“Cosette! Lovely to make your acquaintance.” stated Zachary as he held out his hand in greeting.

I gently took Cosette’s arm and guided her into action. She continued without me.

“I’m… I’m sorry. Mila told me you were here, and I was attempting to figure out how to greet you. I’ve heard so much about you.” she explained, sounding and looking more confident as she spoke.

“Y-your win-window was… open.” mumbled Raine.

“Well, I’m glad I was dressed.” she teased as she turned. Then she guided Raine to stand next to her, denying the girl cover once more. “I love your dress, but why are you wearing it already?”

“I… W-well…” mumbled Raine as she fidgeted and stared at the ground. “P-practice.”

Papak barked a laugh and said, “I know the feeling! Takes me ages to find something I’m comfortable wearing.”

“And he literally means ages. The man is never in touch with the times.” remarked Vito with a smug smile, despite his position.

Papak blew a raspberry at Vito, but then he finally set his brother down. I felt Papak’s suit looked surprisingly fashionable considering the man’s odd proportions.

“Thank you. Ladies, meeting you all is a pleasure, even you, Lady Pendreigh.” stated Vito with a bow.

“I’m surprised you three could attend with how rarely you get out.” she replied.

“Rarely? Aren’t you told that we devour people by the hundreds each night?’ teased Vito.

“Hundreds?” asked Papak. “That hardly sounds dramatic. You’d find hundreds in a single block these days.”

“In a single building with some of the taller ones.” corrected Zachary.

“Fine, but Vito should have said thousands!” insisted Papak.

“Yes-yes, I see your point.” snapped Vito.

“You do get out then?” inquired Alma looking at them with her typical unreadable face.

“Well, I like to go jogging each morning, personally.” replied Papak with a grin.

I smirked, picturing him out for a jog and casually waving at people. Though he was typically squatting, Papak was probably twice my height when he fully stood.

Alma, however, rolled her eyes and said, “Jogging must be a great workout for you.”

“If James isn’t opposed, I wouldn’t mind letting you try giving me some pointers for exercise. I’ve heard you’re a pretty decent fighter.” suggested Papak.

“B-be nice.” stated Raine as she looked up at him.

Papak smile as he said, “I am! I was just offering. Care to try yourself? I must admit I’m curious how strong you are.”

“Please, Raine. That would be most entertaining.” insisted Alma.

“No. Please, don’t.” pleaded Cosette as she gently grabbed Raine’s arm.

“J-James?” asked Raine, looking up at me.

“I don’t want this place devastated, so I expect you to guard everything you throw him at if you choose to accept.” I replied.

“She’s that good, huh?” asked Papak, rubbing his chin.

“No. Her technique is still terrible, but her natural aptitude is far beyond me. I doubt even you saw her fetch Cosette.” admitted Alma with a smile.

“True. She’s easily faster than me.” he replied, looking even more uncertain.

“She could toss him straight up.” suggested Vito, a slight smile playing at his lips.

“Maybe the three of us together should try? We haven’t faced a demon for many years.” suggested Papak.

“I’m not inclined to try.” replied Zachary, holding his hands aloft as if to ward him from the thought.

“I must concur. Though I do remember the spells we’ve used in the past, she seems much stronger, judging by her speed.” mused Vito. “I still think you should try, dear brother, to keep your honor intact after issuing such a challenge.”

“Children, behave.” ordered Ariadne. “James, I would like your permission to enter the forest with these three before your other guests arrive. They’ve been itching to see my family ever since I told them of the survivors.”

“Sure. Let’s head there now then.” I replied. “Sorry, Raine. No tossing Papak yet.”

She nodded. I guided everyone into the forest and let the vampires see the fey once more. A couple thousand years apart meant nothing to the fey. Their feelings were as bright and vibrant as ever, greeting the brothers warmly, though they seemed more excited by Ariadne’s return. I hoped to share such joys many more times this day when my wedding truly began.

Best Friend For Hire, Entry 317

“Reporting for duty, sir!” exclaimed Cosette, snapping to attention after she marched into my office.  She was wearing some sort of science fiction type military outfit with glowing insignia.

 

“At ease.” I told her with a smirk.

 

“Yes, sir!” she exclaimed.  “Ready for the briefing?”

 

“Yes, please.  I would love to know from where this charade came.” I told her.

 

She laughed and said, “Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  Dejon and I were requested to fill in the ranks at a sort of LARP.  Our commander was desperate for replacements, since a couple members of his crew were out sick.”

 

“Sounds entertaining.  How did things go?” I asked.

 

“Dejon was stiff as ever, but I must say that actually worked for him.  He was a perfectly uptight soldier all night.  We each received a commendation for best kept uniforms, by the way, and our commander awarded me with a VIP medal.” she announced.  “You’ll be happy to hear that he wanted to make us official members of his crew, even offering immediate promotion if we were to join.”

 

“Oh?  The uniforms weren’t supplied?” I questioned.

 

Shaking her head, she said, “No.  They paid extra for us to bring our own, and Mila fabricated these instead of buying them in town.  They’re far more durable and tailored to fit.”

 

“Did Dejon cheat?” I asked, hoping he didn’t employ his abilities during a LARP.

 

“Not that I noticed, but I did.” admitted Cosette with a big grin.

 

“What!?” I asked, shocked that she’d use her abilities in public.

 

“Don’t worry.  No one caught me, even  the other vampire.  I only cheated because he did.  I noticed that he occasionally grew an extra finger to respond faster without moving faster, so I modified my palms to hit keys under them where people couldn’t see.” she explained.

 

Nodding, I told her “I’ll admit that seems fairly safe and relatively harmless, though I am having trouble picturing this game.”

 

“Each group acts as part of a fleet.  If you win the aerial maneuvers, then your team gets to attempt boarding maneuvers.  Dejon desperately needs to learn how to fight.  He was terrible at that part, but we did well enough.  The commander had me leading the charge by the end.  I’d wager the other vampire guessed at our shared nature at that point.  He should have if he didn’t.” she mused.

 

“You kept up with him fine then?” I questioned.

 

“Kept up with him?” she asked, looking insulted.  “I could mop the floor with ten of him.  He was obviously fairly young for my kind, and he lacked combat training.”

 

“Sorry, but you’re younger than me, and I’ve met vampires that are thousands of years old.  You’re still quite young for your kind.” I told her.

 

“You still have no idea how much that letter from Zachary Blood meant to me.  I can’t believe you met him!” she exclaimed, grinning at me.

 

“Don’t forget his brothers.  They’d be quite disappointed to be left out.” I teased.

 

“I know!  I’m so jealous that you’ve met them.” she insisted.

 

“Don’t worry.  You’ll have your chance.  I believe they’re attending my wedding.” I informed her.

 

“Are they really!?” she exclaimed, leaning on my desk as she grinned and stared intently at me.

 

“Aaliyah mentioned they were invited, so I imagine they’ll come.” I assured her.

 

“What am I going to wear!?” she exclaimed, turning and pacing.  Then she stopped and looked at me before saying, “James, thank you!  For me, this is like meeting a rockstar.  You have no idea how many stories my father told me about them.”

 

“True.” I told her, nodding.

 

She laughed and said, “Many.  A great many, and he hadn’t even met them personally.  I wish my parents could be alive for this.  My father would probably worry about me getting dragged into politics, of course, but I know he’d want to meet them as well.  The way he spoke about them was riveting.”

 

“I’m glad to have given you fair warning of their arrival then, but can you understand my confusion in regard to you and this other vampire you met?” I asked.

 

She looked at me, seeming perplexed herself for a moment, before saying, “Oh.  Yes.  Sorry.  Having been born instead of created, I’m significantly stronger than an average vampire my age.  Furthermore, I have Slayer blood.  Where Ai and Mai could easily outmatch a newly turned vampire, possibly even one approaching a hundred, I’m already physically their equal.”

 

“Considering that you always hold back in practice, I’d wager that you’re a little stronger than either of them separately and even better at fighting than I had first guessed.” I stated.

 

Smiling, she said, “Maybe.  A girl deserves her secrets.”

 

“True, but I would enjoy seeing Joyeuse eventually if you’re ever willing to give that secret up.” I told her as I returned her smile.

 

She laughed and said, “I slipped, didn’t I.”

 

“I believe you fooled the twins.  Your act was very convincing.” I assured her.

 

“Still, my father would be disappointed in my lapse.  He could be rather strict regarding secrets.” she stated.

 

“I believe you.  From what I’ve heard, Alma’s mother was incredibly strict with her regarding everything.” I shared.

 

“No doubt.  Father wasn’t that strict.  He simply wanted to help me perfect everything he knew, so he taught me constantly.  I think you would have liked him, honestly.” she told me wistfully.

 

Smiling again, I said, “Going by you, I’m sure I would have.  I hope he’d be happy with your new home.”

 

“He would.  He’d marvel at everything just as I do.  This place is amazing, James.  Only you could bring such different people together with such success.  I’m very grateful that you let me stay here.” she replied, smiling as well.

 

“You’re welcome as long as I live.  Considering that I don’t appear to be aging anymore, that could be a very long time.” I insisted.

 

She looked at me, seeming shocked.  “You’re not aging?  Are you certain?” she asked.

 

“Having taken one of your secrets, I felt I should give one of mine as well.  Don’t tell anyone.  They’ll notice in time.” I told her.

 

“Friends forever?” she replied with a grin as she held out her hand.

 

“Friends forever.” I confirmed, shaking her hand.

 

“In that case, I’ll show you Joyeuse right now if you have the time.” she offered.

 

“Certainly.  The more of these weapons I see, the more impressed I’ve been with them.  I have spent long periods just imagining the skill crafting such weapons would take.” I admitted.  Though I had no intention to ever make a weapon myself, I greatly admired the skill needed to craft the ones I’ve seen.

 

I followed Cosette to her rooms and was immediately taken by the distinct change in decor deeper into her suite.  Where her initial furniture was some of Emma’s handiwork, several of the rooms now contained much older furnishings, probably part of her inheritance.  Almost to the back, we stopped at a wall that slid open at our approach.

 

“Mila’s kind enough to watch over my things.” explained Cosette, though there was no need.

 

I nodded, but I was surprised by the blatant display of wealth.  This was a fairly large vault with gold coins covering a quarter of the floor.  The weight alone had to be immense, but the floor beneath was obviously designed to support the vault itself.  Numerous displays contained jewelry, documents, precious gems, and paintings.  Small statues and vases each had their own display.  One wall even hosted a large bookshelf filled with old volumes.  I smiled when I noticed the copy of Les Misérables that I had given her for Christmas.

 

“Please excuse the mess.  Aaliyah likes to play pirates.” she told me.  She then pulled open a large drawer to reveal Joyeuse next to its sheath.  As she grasped the handle, the blade illuminated in a crackling, azure light.  Noticing my gaze, she told me “Joyeuse produces different types of energy around the blade depending on the wielder’s mood.  I imagine the creator wanted the sword to be difficult to defend against beyond its obvious sharpness.”

 

I nodded my agreement, admiring the delicate details in the blade.  Most people would probably need a magnifying glass to notice them.  The golden hilt was equally elaborate.  Cosette certainly had a weapon worthy of a queen had she wanted the title.

Best Friend For Hire, Entry 316

Raine hissed as she entered the room, and Cosette’s arm sizzled as it passed the corner in front of her. I quickly sheathed Caladfwlch and put the sword on the table.

“Cosette, are you okay!?” I asked, moving toward the door.

Raine was frowning at me.

“What was that!?” she demanded, rubbing her arm as it healed.

“Excalibur.” I stated, feeling they wouldn’t recognize the name Caladfwlch.

“Ex-Excalibur!? The sw-sword in the st-stone!?” exclaimed Raine, grabbing my arm as she stared up at me with wide eyes.

“Yes. That one.” I assured her.

“We still don’t understand when you found the time to hop over to England.” mentioned Ai.

Nodding, Mai said, “Lady Pendreigh should’ve invited us for the trip.”

“Sorry. You should ask to see her engagement ring too when you complain to her. I decided she needed it after you two visited me.” I told them.

“We will!” they exclaimed.

“En-engagement… r-ring.” muttered Raine, dashing out of the hall.

“Uh… yes.” I stated, looking after her.

“I can’t believe Excalibur destroys vampires.” complained Cosette.

“Sorry.” I told her. “I didn’t realize the light from it would have that effect on you.”

Nodding, she said, “Father never mentioned that part when he told me the tale. Of course, the sword was already dormant long before his time.”

“How did you know the sword was dormant!?” exclaimed the twins.

“My father was the king of a rival nation. Do you really think he lacked spies? He knew of all the weapons the family possessed at that time.” she informed them.

The twins glanced at each other.

“Who were the spies?” asked Mai.

“Did he give you a name for any of them?” inquired Ai.

Cosette smirked and asked “Wanting to make sure the descendents aren’t still active?”

“No.” lied Ai.

“We are just curious.” insisted Mai.

“You’ll forgive me if I can’t quite seem to remember at the moment.” replied Cosette.

“Don’t you just hate when you conveniently forget information that could expose someone?” teased Jarod as he hugged Ai and Mai from behind.

They elbowed him, making him wince.

“Well, I don’t think it…” I started to say when I caught the door opening at the end of the hall.

“It’s gor-gorgeous! D-did you… really m-make it!?” asked Raine, having ran back to us.

“Thank you. I’m glad you approve. Getting the shape right took some time.” I replied with a smile.

“You made her ring?” inquired the twins.

“Yes. Then Alma and I made our wedding bands.” I admitted.

“C-can… I see?” asked Raine, practically bouncing on her feet. Suddenly, she moved again. “QUIET!” she yelled from the war room.

Everyone around me was covering their ears, but my jaw dropped. Muramasa listened to her. The whispering had stopped.

“S-sorry.” she muttered, timidly walking back out.

“I hope you didn’t break it.” stated Jarod as he uncovered his ears. “I didn’t know you could yell so loud.”

“N-no. S-sorry. I j-just sh-shook it. It’s m-mean.” she mumbled, staring at her feet.

I laughed and then told her “Yes, it’s not the kindest of weapons.”

“Hey now. Don’t make fun of my sword.” stated Jarod, crossing his arms.

Raine looked ready to apologize more, but quickly spun as Aurora reached toward her. She looked shocked when Aurora hugged her. “S-sorry. Aur-Aurora.” she told her.

Aurora kept hugging her.

“You grabbed it’s blade though! I saw you setting it down.” stated Mai, stepping up to Raine.

“S-so?” asked Raine.

“The sword kills anyone who touches the blade.” explained Ai as she took to Raine’s other side.

“It kn-knows b-better.” mumbled Raine. “W-we talked.”

“You talked, as in an actual conversation?” I asked.

Rained nodded. “You d-didn’t hear?” she questioned, looking up at me.

“No, not until you yelled.” I replied.

“It’s b-been talking to m-me. C-constantly… s-since it a-arrived.” she informed me.

“Really?” I asked. “Alma will want to hear about this.”

“I’ve been keeping her informed, master.” stated Mila.

“Oh. Thank you, Mila.” I told her.

“Thank you!?” demanded Ai.

“That’s spying!” insisted Mai. “What else do you tell her about us?”

“I assure you that I only inform her of conversations that I deem relevant to her and public. Given the number of people involved at this time as well as the nature of the conversation, I felt she would want to be informed.” explained Mila.

“We want a list!” exclaimed the twins.

“Show us every last thing you’ve relayed to her from our quarters.” demanded Ai.

“Or we’re going to disconnect you from here again.” insisted Mai.

“Ignore them, Mila. I’ll show them the log later.” stated Jarod.

“What!? You knew she was doing this?” asked Ai.

“Yes, dear. I talked to her about this before you reconnected her panels here, since I knew you two would take issue.” he assured them.

“Says the guy who was hiding this!” exclaimed Mai as she grabbed Aurora’s shoulders.

“If I was hiding her, why did I bring her with me here?” he asked.

Ai and Mai stared at each other from across Aurora’s shoulder.

“Fine, but you still could have told us when you got an assistant.” stated Ai.

“How does she assist without speaking?” asked Mai, turning Aurora’s head toward her.

“B-be nice.” stated Raine.

The twins all-too-casually stepped away from Aurora to cling to Jarod.

“Always, Raine.” claimed Mai.

“We’ll never forget how you stood up to our mother.” insisted Ai.

“Her expression was priceless!” they exclaimed.

Aurora reached up and started feeling their heads.

“What’s she doing?” asked Mai.

“She’s going to ruin my hair.” complained Ai.

“Checking for a loose screw?” suggested Cosette with a grin.

“Trying to figure out how you two work, I’d guess.” replied Jarod. “Don’t be surprised if she tries to corner you in the lab sometime. She’ll probably want to run tests.”

Mai sighed dramatically.

Ai then turned to Cosette and asked “Did you know that Joyeuse in France is a copy?”

“Oh really? I wonder how that happened.” replied Cosette.

She was lying, though her face seemed perfectly inquisitive.

“So your father never heard about that?” inquired Mai.

“I suppose not.” agreed Cosette. “I’d be more interested in hearing what happened to Durendal, personally. Imagine a sword said to be indestructible which was known to easily slice through stone and to be wielded by kings.”

“There are many of those.” stated Ai as she rolled her eyes.

“There are two in the room next to us, of course, but not all of them are suggested to be the ‘master of stone’ or a ‘sword of fire’.” insisted Cosette. “Though I suppose you could argue that sitting in a stone for years might make Excalibur its master.”

“We know what you’re implying. There’s no way that Excalibur could’ve been stolen after Arthur’s time. We’d have a record of the theft.” argued Mai.

“I’m sure you would. That’s an interesting idea though. Who would place Excalibur back there if the sword was stolen by an angel to give to Charlemagne? I do love the tales.” replied Cosette wistfully.

“M-me too!” agreed Raine, smiling excitedly.

“Are you quite finished?” snapped Ai to Aurora, who had started feeling down her back.

Jarod kissed her head and then said, “Be nice. If you’ll take a look at her work, I’m sure you will appreciate her talent.”

“Ai, your husband wants you to appreciate a girl’s… talent.” stated Mai.

“Whatever should we do with him, Mai?” inquired Ai.

“Behave in front of company!” exclaimed Cosette, grinning at them. Then she turned to the nearest mirror and asked “Mila, when is Portentia returning? I’m hungry.”

“No talking about drinking blood in our wing!” protested the twins.

“Then no searing me with fantastic weapons!” replied Cosette.

Mila’s avatar, which had appeared on the mirror, said, “Portentia still has over two hours on her current shift. Provided that she doesn’t get distracted, I estimate that she’ll return in roughly two hours and thirty-six minutes.”

Aurora moved over to the mirror and stared at Mila. I wondered if she had actually seen Mila like that much, considering that Mila was often assisting her in one of the bodies Jarod had built.

“James, would you mind holding Mai still, so I can have a snack?” asked Cosette.

Mai ducked away from Jarod and said, “What!? No. Sorry, but no. Not happening.”

Cosette pouted at her.

“I-I’ll help.” muttered Raine, holding up her hand.

Cosette jumped at Raine with elongating fangs, but she just hugged Raine without even pretending to bite her. “You’re so sweet! I’m not really that hungry. I just wanted to tease the twins. They can be so squeamish regarding my meals. I have a feeling I couldn’t even pierce your skin.”

“S-sorry.” mumbled Raine. “I c-could probably g-get some out.” she suggested.

I was surprised to see a single, long claw grow out from her index finger, stretching toward her hand. Even like that, there was a distortion around the claw, a wavering bit of space that shouldn’t be in our world.

“When did you learn to partially transform that well?” I asked.

“I-I’ve… practiced. Y-you said I sh-should.” she replied.

“I’m simply glad that you’re making progress.” I assured her even as I noticed Ai’s grip on Jarod tightening.

Jarod didn’t look too composed himself. Aurora actually ducked behind the twins to stare.

Looking slightly uneasy herself, Cosette gently pushed the clawed hand away from Raine’s other hand as she said, “I really appreciate that you’re willing, but I’m fine. No need to hurt yourself.”

“Since you’re all here, would you like to sit down, have a snack, and maybe watch something with us?” asked Mai, turning to face me.

I agreed along with the others. Well, Aurora was sort of dragged along. As I followed the twins to another room, I found myself wondering if exposure to Raine’s blood was even safe for any of us. When she took on a hybrid form, every part of her seemed exceptionally dangerous. Even Muramasa seemed scared of her. Considering possibilities of how her blood might interact with things, I was very, very thankful that she was such a sweet, wonderful person.