DISCLAIMER: You know the drill. I only own Dewey, Runner, Father Romanik, River, Malakai, Jeshua, Micah, Ahdi, and all the other people who don't belong to crazy NJL/NML chicks or that loony bin called Disney. And the lyrics featured in this chapter are from the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack.

A.N: HOLY MOTHER OF PEARLS! There's going to be over 25 characters appearing in this chapter! Fasten those seat belts!!! Oh gosh, do you know I actually took out the time to draw out a web and see how all the characters were linked and junk? It took like...over an hour, lol, of skimming through each chapter and referring back to the cast list to see who was with whom. Though surprising, there's a pretty tight web going on between the characters. .

And even more tightness with the hot and wicked new Slayer Society. Woot woot! Oh yea, for those of you who aren't on my mailing list for whatever reasons, Eternal Avenger won a fanfic contest for best portrayal of the word "Innocence". Muahaha. You guys rock! Anyway, 23 reviews not including the newcomers who reviewed every chapter! SCORE! I love you all so much; thank you thank you thank you.

Shot: Hey! Thanks so much for your awesome reviews. . Yes, the last chapter should have been longer but it wasn't for any number of reasons, lol. Namely me probably being too lazy or something of the like. Grins. But don't worry, the chapters will be nice and long from here on out.

Apollonia: Hey there! Yea I know...Darien and Spot want to kill me, lol. What's up with that! Sniffle Hopefully the suspense isn't killing you, though. Besides, you still have to update more of your own story! Hehe.

Aura: Where have all the elves gone indeed. They should be taking care of hobbits as you suggested, but I highly doubt that'll happen, lol. These elves want nothing to do with no one. Then again, if vampires were hot on your trail, you wouldn't blame them, ay. Grins Thanks for the review, and I hope you like this chapter!

Cerri: Your nickname always makes me want to start speaking in French for some reason. Hmm, I'll have to think about that sometime, lol. I'm glad you liked the last chapter. I wasn't quite sure what tests to put Runner through so I basically made them up as I went along. Haha. Hopefully they were as wicked as I was hoping they'd be. .

Tooey: Well now you can come out of your withdrawal state, m'dear! Nice to hear you enjoyed the detail of the last chapter. You know I'm crazy with description and stuff, lol. I probably could write a whole chapter describing a drop of pee on a toilet seat. Ahem...yea...anyway, before I lose you as my reader, haha, let me thank you for being such a faithful reviewer! And yes, Runner is sexalicious in fangs.

Raven: No hyperventilating allowed, doll! Smiles Don't worry, all in time all in time. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen with Darien and Spot wanting to kill me, actually, lol. You know how it is, just make it up as you go along. That's the best formula for writing I can give you. Hehe. Thanks for reading, and enjoy this new chapter!

Lyf: Yay, you make an appearance in this chapter. It's about time too. I've been meaning to get the confounded elves back into the storyline, lol. Anyway, hopefully your addiction to the story isn't like...drastic or something. I don't want you to have to attend EA Anonymous classes or something, haha.

Dreamer: Yes, Spot was devilish indeed when he retold the story of Runner's tests to Darien. Didn't it make him ten times more sexy? Haha, sorry. I have a thing for nonchalant villains. And Spot is definitely no exception; no m'am. Haha. Enjoy this next chapter, and thanks for reviewing!

Matches: You know, you are like crazy about this story. You're going to have to join EA Anonymous classes with Lyf and Sita because all three of you are addicted like flies to poop. Okay, bad simile, lol. Sorry, my muses are fried out. But yea...I do appreciate your enthusiasm extremely. It makes me happy to know my updated chapters make people so happy, and thus to make you even more happier, here's another chapter!

Brink: Hey Brinky, it seems like I haven't talked to you in forever! How have you been? . Good, I hope. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing my little story here, hehe. I'm glad you're liking it and I hope you have a nice read with this next chapter!

Chipper: Hey hey hey there. I'm happy the last chapter cleared up Spot and Runner's relationship. It was one of the things I was aiming for because I wanted to make sure the animosity between them was evident. But yea, it was a bit short. No worries, though, from here on out all chapters are scheduled to be longer! Smiles

Sapphy: Sapph-bomb! Hahaha, I just thought of that...I think I'll have to use it from now on. It's so fun to say. Grins Anyway...yaaaay, you're finally in my story, deary! You are one of my most faithful readers and you have no idea how long I've been wanting to reward you by finally writing in your character! And voila, you are now Slayer Society hit-chick numero uno! I hope you like this chapter!

Geometrygal: woot woot! I'm supremely glad you liked the tests. I wasn't quite sure if they were daunting enough, but I received such positive feedback regarding them that I suppose they were. Yay! Thanks for the reviews and I hope you enjoy reading this next chapter!

Fantasy: Thanks for the last review, Fants. Don't try to deny it, though. I know the last chapter was terribly short. Sniffles and sobs It won't happen again, I promise! lol. Here's another chapter coming right at ya! Enjoy it, m'dear!

Goldstranger: Yes yes, our dear little Runner is indeed a strong cookie. I probably would've passed out if I saw a ghost in the lake, lol. And Spot probably didn't see what Darien saw about killing Dewey because he's an idiot, lol. Nah...who knows. Perhaps he was too busy trying to destroy Runner in every other way that it never dawned on him to destroy him with his love. Smiles Ooo, that was deep...must use in story, lol. Thanks for the review!

Rumor: Thanks for the consistent reviews, Rumor. I was going to ask you...are you in this story? I've been accounting how many times you've been reviewing just in case you were (those who review the most maintain the lead roles) but since people sometimes use different names when reviewing, I wasn't sure if such was the case with you. So yea...are you? Lol, and if not, would you like to be?

Onyx: Hey O, lol. Sorry, your full name was too long to type out for me at this point. Grins I'm glad you're loving the story, m'dear. I can't wait to start adding your character more into the plot. . Thanks for the reviews, and enjoy this chapter!

Sita: Glomps YaaaaY! It's Sita-darling-sweetness-lovey-poo, lol. How's it going, darling? . I saw you updated Angelsight...I need to start reading that baby again because I did like it muchly. But did dear little EA really manipulate your emotions so last chapter? You're much too kind, lol. Either that or emotionally unstable. Smirks Hehehe, love!! I'm thrilled you enjoy reading my ruckus so much, sita-beans! I hope you enjoy this next chapter!

The Good Girl: Hey, don't worry about reviewing every chapter all at once. I'm actually glad you did and I was happy to receive your feedback for each installment. It's always great to see new readers, especially since this story is so huge, lol. I'm glad you weren't daunted by the size of it. Since you're new and all, and since you like the story so much so far, would you like to perhaps have a cameo in it? Smiles Let me know!

Magpie: Oh my, reading the story while you're in keyboarding class? Tsk tsk! Lol, my story has become too much of an addiction for you. I hope you didn't get in trouble or anything. That would've majorly sucked. But anyway, here's more EA for you! Enjoy!

Sparrow: Yay, she thought the chapter was disturbing! Score! Lol, it's what we strive for, m'dear. I'm glad you're liking this baby so far. Keep on reviewing; I love feedback!

FalconWolf3: Hey, you said I evoke emotions in my writing. That's like one of the best compliments I could receive as a writer. Thanks so much for reading my massive story...all seven chapters in a few sittings, wow! Not even I can do that and it's my own story! . But it's good to hear new readers are still jumping on the bandwagon. I hope you enjoy this new chapter!

Lorein: Hahaha, perhaps I should write more prologues for you. Smiles But look, the elves are returning in this chapter, so you get to be excited again! Hehe. . Thanks for the reviews!


Chapter Seven: The Crimson Society

New York; 1900

When the cold of winter comes, starless night will cover day. In the veiling of the sun, we will walk in bitter rain. But in dreams, I still hear your voice. And in dreams, we will meet again. When the seas and mountains fall, and we come to end of days...in the dark I hear a call...calling me there, I will go there, and back again...

He (Runner) sighed again, a chill running down his spine at her words. The test. So simple it was to let the words roll of one's tongue, but to actually live through it...to vehemently declare to the very face of the dragon that you would no longer be its puppet... "I'm going to reestablish the Immortal Confederacy. I plan to gather the half-bloods together once and for all; wherever Bumlets has led them I must go, encourage them to join my cause. And Kitten, with her spell-casters and half-blood slaves, I'll be needing them as well. The pirates who drank of the fountain of youth will be very much resourceful to me. But we'll need more.

"Dewey, you must get back in touch with the other elementals, and it's of the utmost necessity that we gather the Seekers of the Zion Sect, as we will be traveling to the New World recently established out west to start life anew. There's revolutionaries out there seeking change, and we shall give it to them. Aside from this, the Healers of old must be contacted; I'm in dire need of their assistance..."

They continued down the street discussing these imperative matters. The dawn of a New Age was breaking.

Darien gaped at him. "A lover? You didn't tell me our precious nemesis was happily fallen into love." When the other shrugged, he only laughed victoriously, clapped his hands together as if the war had already turned in his favor, and closed the distance between them in effortless strides. "You're quite the idiot, Conlon!" When Spot opened his mouth to protest, Darien covered his lips with a hand and grinned. "That's how we get him to switch sides, Spot! Kill the girl!"

The carriage rolled along the cobblestone pathways on rickety wheels through the vociferous cacophony erupting across Manhattan this particular morning, but the carriage's four occupants exchanged banter within their mini haven as if the greatest care in the world held no more magnitude than deciding upon an outfit for the debutante ball being held later in the evening. David Jacobs and Kathryn Marie Rinehart sat upon the velvet-upholstery of the coach's interior and laughed like snobs about their upcoming wedding, the pleasures of their current engagement, and the caviar-bloated dollars Daddy Rinehart was spending on dresses, main courses, and ballroom rentals.

With blue eyes sparkling and chin jutting out like a grammatical schoolmaster, David went on to explain the journey of their engagement. "Kat, here, desired gowns for her bridesmaids which were lavender in overall nature, but with just the right tint of pink within the actual fabric. We searched shops upon shops, even going so far as to fly to France to see about their lines of fashion, and in the end we landed just the right apparel."

Kat clapped her hands excitedly. She was tall and slim, not a hair out of place as she took great pride in her appearance. "Indeed! Daddy fortunately covered the check, and we've only few steps now until David and I say our –I do's-." They ogled at each other like lovesick Romantics and then kissed lightly on the lips, interlocking their fingers and giggling with sickening adoration.

Lute McDonaghey watched this all with a snort. True, she was Kat's maid of honor, but it certainly didn't mean she had to be in the slightest joyous about the forthcoming marriage. Why should she be? The Rinehart's were pompous side dishes of conceit supported only by their high rankings and endless flow of wealth. Lute despised the girl terribly, but that could've very well had something to do with her being too haughty for anyone in the first place. After all, the McDonaghey's were at the top of the socialites party as far as she was concerned, and the others in the carriage with her no more than the flies encircling cow dung.

Lute took a sip of her white whine and scrunched up her nose at its bitterness. She had short brown hair cut off at her chin, and cheeks as rosy as those of a doll. A gorgeous tan and arresting smile, she always sat incredibly straight, flaunting off her qualities in the hopes of securing a marriage (simply because her mother would throw a fit were there not a potential man in the girl's life). "You jesters will have no idea what trouble I went through this morning trying to acquire a cup of bloody tea."

Kathryn wrenched herself reluctantly from David and sat forward, interested. "Oh?"

"We have this confounded new servant to tend to me, since the last five were unbearably hardheaded. His rightful name is..." She averted her eyes in thought. "Well anyway, what does it matter. He strives to be called Snitch. I, of course, won't pleasure him as so. Snitch!" She scoffed and took another sip of her wine. "The minute I catch him snitching from my jewelry box, he'll have his blasted hands cut off!" Her hazel eyes were narrowed with sincere gravity.

"The nerves of the boy to wish upon himself a nickname!"

"All of the lower class are as so," continued Lute, glancing out the small window of the carriage to observe the revolting masses without. "Look at them, the stupid barbarians. Shaking their fists and yelling at the top of their lungs as if money will suddenly rain from the sky."

"And who are you to sit upon your sky-scraping glory and judge them?" Dante DeFelice Jr. gave her a harsh look, stepping out of his usual quietness to shut the brats up. So high and mighty did they think they were, but as soon as daddy was laid off from his political carnival, they'd join the penniless crowds, shaking their fists and yelling at the top of their lungs as well.

The revolutionaries weren't as rowdy as Lute has deemed them to be, however. In fact, the lower class ruffians were acting in as civilized a manner as possible, especially since they were led by a young woman. Her full name was Sapphire Eyes, but those who knew her well and found themselves in her good favor shortened it to Sapphy. She was a short blonde, somewhat curvaceous with fair skin and faded freckles, but packed within her small stature a personality that could move worlds. She was energetic, loud, boisterous, wise, and a smartass tomboy with street savoir faire when times called for it.

Today, though, she was a bit crestfallen from the failures of her revolt. She'd come to the Victorian street where the richies lived in hopes of being understood by the aristocrats in some rare show of humanity, but when the authority forces had come to break up the crowds, it was obvious victory would not be won today. She tied back her short strawberry blonde hair with a tattered piece of cloth and heaved a sigh as she retreated back to her companions.

"Well, we tried, right?" she offered, dealing a small smile, hoping they didn't hate her for the setback.

Pie Eater, Jake, Crutchy, and Aura were use to failure. They obviously weren't going to despise their very leader simply because fate had spoken differently once more. After all, she was the only thing they had, the only thing for which they woke up in the morning.

"There's other days," piped up Crutchy, flashing his ever present smile as he leaned against a crutch to support himself. "We'll get 'em yet, Sapphy!" He smiled at his girlfriend Aura, and the two retreated back to Duane Street where was situated their lodging house. Pie Eater and Jake lingered around for only a few moments more, comforting the girl and saying their farewell's before they followed after the couple.

Sapphy placed her face in her hands and groaned. Great, just great. Her closest friends were beginning to doubt her mission now, she saw it in the sadness of their eyes. Soon, the whole revolution would crumble upon itself. "What more can I do!" she yelled to the emptying streets, watching as four well-off youth exited from their coach and ascended the staircase leading to the mansion she knew belonged to one of them. She envied them. How they took for granted God's blessings! How they laughed in their expensive homes and paid no mind to those who suffered in the back alleys of the destitute streets.

"God help me!" She threw her hands up in the air, ready to just give it all up. Ready to renounce her title as revolutionary leader at that moment. But from the corner of her eye, she caught three figures stalking toward her and spun around instantly on instinct. A young woman around her height with raven-dark curly hair and midnight eyes approached her, a man at either side of her, maintaining the look of pirates.

"You're the mother of the revolution," the woman stated matter-of-factly. She seemed to be the intellectual observant type, and the scar across her arm rose speculations about her ability to fight as well. "We can offer you the help you desire."

Sapphy looked at her as if she were daft.

One of the men spoke up; he was blatantly Italian with a wry half smile that gave away a hidden sense of humor. "She's not kiddin' either, kid."

"Who you callin' kid?"

He held up his hands in defense. "The name's Racetrack, doll. It's a pleasure to meet ya, but please be kind, I've spent the better part a' me immortality rockin' away with wenches and the last thing I need is another spitfire on me hands."

His companion, bearing an eye patch nodded. "There was another among us, ay. He got in a blasted fight at some bar and got the lights knocked out a' 'im, that he did." He bowed his head in momentary respect. "Ay, Spades, God rest ye soul, brother pirate."

"Am I missing something here?" Sapphy put her hands on her hips and stared at the three, convinced they had just escaped from an unknown insane asylum.

The young woman spoke again. "Call me Tiger. I've journeyed afar in search of you. You've awakened a dragon, dear Sapphy. You've awaken demons, dear slayer."

Sapphy's eyes snapped open. How could they have possibly known?

It wasn't every night the brothel on Lafayette Street sponsored a 'pay what you will' bonanza for the sex-hungry impoverished males of the God-forsaken city, but lady luck just happened to smile sardonically upon the full-moon midnight during which Spot, Jack, and Darien languidly congregated at a splintered round table at the main room's center. Under the breaking floor boards of the second story above them, they listened halfheartedly to the vocalized compliments the brothel's prostitutes garnered from their customers. A dim light engulfed them, casting interesting shadows about their faces, making them look the part of ghouls and wraiths and haunting apparitions from a child's nightmares.

"Why is it we always find need to meet in a blasted whorehouse?" inquired Darien, taking a long swig of a cigarette before returning it to Spot. "Is it so impossible to book accommodations at a country retreat, or a mansion of sorts, or bloody hell I'd even settle for the very white house!" His serpentine green eyes were lighter than usually, his blonde hair grown long and unkempt.

"You know, you do nothing but bloody complain all the time, and I've come to terms with my conclusion of such. You, Darien Bailey, are an infested wad of excrement bleeding stench from all pores." The words malicious indeed, but the voice uttering them was melodic in all its dark-toned quality. A figure drew close from the shadows and entered into the circle of light, revealing itself to be a young woman of incredible stature. Her midnight locks of hair wavy and glowing with an unworldly sheen, and her eyes darker than a closed tomb's obscurity, she pursed her brandy-colored lips at the vampires and challenged them to speak otherwise.

Jack smirked at this, beckoning her to come toward him. "Raven speaks the truth I'd venture to say. Were I at the top of the food chain, maybe I'd easily deem myself superior, but you do so anyhow despite the internal anarchy of your brood."

Raven Beaufont grinned wickedly at the affirmation of her claims and rewarded Jack by reclining wantonly onto his lap, moving slowly against him as she brought his lips to her own in a heated embrace. When finished with him, she turned back toward Darien. "Your whore, Onyx DeFelice, has many a time spat in your face, milord. And you tolerate it!" She scoffed and tossed a fallen strand of hair over her shoulder. "Were I you, I'd see to it the girl was murdered."

"Murdered! Are you daft? Sure, the wench has spirit, but it isn't anything to worry your half-brain over, milady."

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you've gone soft for the damsel." She didn't wait for a reply. She wrenched Jack's hands –which had in the meanwhile navigated to her inner thighs- from her clothing and came to her feet in one swift cat-like motion. "The last thing our empire needs is your confounded weakness."

Spot smothered his cigarette into the palm of his hand, smirking at the feel of semi-intense fire scorching his age-old flesh. "The vampiress raises an excellent point, ally." He, too, arose, closing the distance between himself and Raven in less than six effortless strides. When behind her, he snaked his arms across her lower abdomen, closing his eyes halfway as he took pleasure in simply smelling her aura. Raven sneered self-righteously, telling the elder telepathically just what she intended on making him scream across the rooftops later that night.

All in time, love, he replied to her with a soft growl.

Not so long as the bastard isn't taking care of his business. She snarled in reply, lashing out at his mental guards, trying to find any barricade not fully fortified. If she could just, for the slightest moment, seduce him by any means, then she had him wrapped around her finger. Don't think your bed will be warmed tonight should you allow this madness to ensue.

You'll be on my bed, milady, whether it's your will or not. Finally catching on to her would-be inconspicuous mind-meddling, he spun her around in his arms and bared his fangs at her in a volatile hiss. "Don't play nothing but the whore, Raven. It's all you're good for." He kissed her hard, biting her bottom lip with dangerous accuracy, drawing the few drops of blood he wished to suck before shoving her away into the opposite wall where the plaster caved in from the impact. He passed a hand through his blonde locks, glowered at her as if daring her to move, and then turned back to face Darien.

"Our losing influence among even our own kind is what I've been trying to reiterate to you cold blooded idiots for the past centuries!" He snatched the chair upon which he'd earlier been sitting on and flung it across the room to emphasize his supreme rage. "I don't care if you have to bloody stab your fledglings every time they get out of line. Should you falter," he paused to look at both Jack and Darien for a second dead in the eyes, "I'll simply slaughter the brats myself. Are we understood?"

Darien crossed his arms, terribly indignant. "I'd find your avowals more convincing if you mirrored the same actions with your very own cousin, who continues to defy you on a daily basis."

The room fell to a shuddering silence as the four vampires experienced the wave of fury erupting between them at that moment. It was evident Spot had every intention to rip Darien apart organ by organ, lib by limb. It was evident he had every intention to unleash a long-suppressed wrath upon them all and bathe in their blood by dawn. But something unexpected happened. Two mortals from the forgotten outside world suddenly stumbled into the brothel.

The first one was tall with long legs, a petite freckled blonde donning a grey hat and the most hideous street-rat attire the vampires had ever beheld. Her companion's apparel was just as tattered, complimented with trousers and unused suspenders hanging at their sides. She, too, bore a hat upon her chocolate locks of hair and chirped away happily about the number of newspapers she had successfully sold without deceiving her buyers. She stopped mid sentence, however, upon espying the four individuals in the room before them.

"Uh, Fantasy, looks like we got company..." She nudged her taller comrade and nodded toward the other exotic-looking, mysterious quartet.

The blonde one, called Fantasy, looked up and nearly gasped at the sight. "You sure we in the right place, Chipper?" She was already terribly coy around those with whom she wasn't acquainted, and these four looked ready to slay someone!

Chipper took half a step forward, as if summing up the situation. She was more adventurous than other girls her age, and wasn't about to back down for anyone. After all, following the dealings she and Spritzer had shared with halfbloods back in 1692 Massachusetts, she had a knack for ripping apart the facade of the undead. She, of course, had since taken upon herself the guise of a newsgirl, and so tried to keep her aura low-key as to not be found out. "Do any of ya know where our pal Tez might be?"

"Who in bloody hell is Tez?" Darien snapped, infuriated by the audacity of mortals to storm into the brothel and interrupt an altercation.

Fantasy bit her bottom lip shyly and opened her mouth to reply. She couldn't deny the fact that this painstakingly emulated a scene straight from the fiction she was always reading. What was it about those four that woke in her such a dread? And what was it about Chipper suddenly that made her seem the role of a warrior princess? "She's a close friend of ours; went dallyin' across Brooky with 'er boyfriend, Jake. They usually come by this way..."

Raven, not able to stand the reek of worn guttersnipe clothing any longer, climbed to her feet and surveyed the girls with the utmost ridicule. "Why is it you two dress as so? Why are you clothed in those disgusting breeches and shirts?" She reached out a hand to take Fantasy's sleeve between her fingers, and then gnarled her face in disgust. "It's as if I've touched dirt."

"We're newsies," Chipper said defensively, the words sliding through clenched teeth. She knew it, then. She could tell by their pale complexions and netherworld demeanors that they were different, that they simply didn't belong in this city. But she couldn't place names, or species for that matter. "We sell papes, ya know? It's why our hands are dirty?" She rose up her palms to expose the ink-smeared fingers. "It's how we make a livin'. We live in a lodgin' house with our leader, and then..."

"With your leader?" Spot arched an eyebrow at this. He was officially interested in the words the girl spoke. "Tell me about this leader. Does he hold great sway over your actions? Do you obey him fiercely? Is he something of a god?"

Fantasy and Chipper looked at each other, somewhat confused. The former decided to take up the response. "Well I don't know 'bout seeing 'im as a god, but we do respect 'im. He makes the rules of the lodgin' house and everyone has to follow basically. Our current leaders are Flame in Manhattan, and Scapegoat in Brooky. We don't get new leaders 'less they's renounce their throne or if someone overthrows them."

Spot smirked at this, his cyan eyes already calculating the possibilities. Before the girls caught up with his deliberation, he seized them by the arms, informed them he knew nothing of this Tez or her Jake, and shoved them out of the brothel before slamming the door closed in their faces. Then, he turned to confront his allies and grinned like a devil with a sinister prospect.

"Tomorrow morning we will murder the leaders of the newsies, and will assume their roles afterward. Then we will tell the flea-infested masses how to act, what to think, and why their lives depend on doing our every bidding." The words were final.

Donning a gown and cloak of exquisite make, Lyf whistled three soft notes to her white stallion and urged him into a delicate trot, each hoof beat hammering sorrow into her heart. Her people were leaving Naphthalene in wake of recent events, never to return to the vampire-infested streets of the world. The Roman Catacombs would serve as their haven until the ships from the west came to bear them away horizon-bound, where tears never fell and hearts never broke. But Lyf suspected she'd shed many drops of crystalline salty water nonetheless, for behind her was her home, her pride, and her love.

The other elves journeyed on with not a single trouble in the world. Solemn and unceremoniously did they amble forth, reminding themselves by the minute of the paradise awaiting them and forsaking all the chivalric codes of their elven forbearers. The codes of protecting the helpless and defending the Immortal Confederacy were washed away by the sands of apathy now, and the beautiful superior race sought nothing more than to save their own hide and flesh from darkness.

Lookout and Les riding side by side couldn't even find pleasure in their usual mischief. The days had grown too morose, and the nights too horrific for their liking. Their talk no longer was colored by the array of faeries and nymphs, but by the bitter red of vampire folklore and old wives' tales. They didn't discuss dodge ball and chess; they talked of slaying methods and the effects of drinking a pureblood's scarlet drops. Little by little did their innocence escape them, and harder and harder did it become to reclaim it.

"I wish I was a vampire," declared Les most prestigiously. "I would gallivant from town to town and scare the life source from my victims!"

Lookout laughed from atop her horse and shook her head. "Nay, that's hardly half of what I'd do to mine! I'd lock the women and children up in a cold cell, and torture them with words of how I'd slowly see their deaths!" She giggled with him but then stopped short when from in front of them, their elder sister Lorein whirled her horse around and glowered.

"How dare you speak such blasphemy!" She was aghast by their role play, disbelieving that her own siblings of pure elven blood could aspire to become vampires! "Do you not understand the havoc vampires wreak? Do you not understand their brutal temperaments and merciless personalities? They wish to kill you, brethren. They wish to suck the very marrow from your fragile bones and then crush your skulls between their fingertips." She was livid now, implying diction she wouldn't dare use before her father.

Les stammered. "L-Lorein, we were only speaking in jest. Truly."

"Jest or no, I won't tolerate such mindless conversation throughout our odyssey." With one last elderly look, she slackened her horse's reins and let him continue walking.

Atop an edifice just yards away from the parade of elves waited three stone-like sentinels, eyes piercing the darkness with the phosphorescent glow of a jungle cat's irises. For the most part, they remained motionless effortlessly, conveying the facade of being one with the mortar of the building, but of a sudden, one spoke.

"Which is the elf whose heart we must strike?"

The one on her left snarled in annoyance. "Is your bloody head made from lead, for God's sake! Lyf! The one we must aim for is Lyf, the heiress of the confounded throne!" The short-tempered comrade –called Magpie- was tall and slender, with the experienced body of her day-job: prostitution. She was also assertive, her dark eyes never once leaving the line of elves.

"My apologies," the other replied, cowering away slightly. Her name was Tooey. She hadn't been a vampiress for too terribly long and even when she was initiated into the coven of blood-drinkers, it hadn't necessarily been her notion of amusement. She'd done it simply to draw closer to her companions, and not a day went by when she didn't regret her entrance into the dark world. She looked about her warily, running her cold hands across her equally cold arms as if she was afraid some god would send lightning her way. She wouldn't blame the deity should he choose to undertake such a task; after all, she had betrayed Twitch...

She sighed, not wanting to relive the memories, her honey-shaded eyes growing sad. What had he expected? They were two different people. She a pureblood and he a mongrel. Could love really be established between them? Nay. It had been idiotic to seduce him into villainy only to fall madly in love with the creature. Now he'd joined up with Runner Conlon, and there was no stopping the halfbloods in slaughtering their superior counterparts. She shuddered at the idea. Would Twitch truly hold a stake to her heart and end her? Would he?

"Where's your mind, Tooey!" called out another authoritative voice.

Tooey sighed and turned to face Matches. For a persistent loudmouth, the latter sure was short! In fact, she was the most virtually challenged of the trio, standing at an amazing height of five foot two inches. Her aggression made up for her shortcomings, however. She was a spitfire hell raiser straight from the Underworld it seemed sometimes, and would burn down a building before ever muttering she was sorry. She, too, was in love with a halfblood, one called Common...but she'd decapitate herself before confessing the clandestine relationship to her sire, Jack Kelly.

"Just wondering," said Tooey, "what are we in this for? I know we're minions to Spot, Jack, and Darien...but what reward do we reap from such? When I was with Twitch, I felt safe and secure and, and loved. But now I feel like the marionette in some bloody conspiracy and I can't help but contemplate my intentions!"

Matches listened to her intently, intertwining her finger with one of her blonde-highlighted locks of natural brown hair. Love. It was something she had forsaken when leaving Common for the walk of a vampire. She'd left behind his passion, humor, optimism, and his ability to see the good in everyone...she'd left it all for a hell bound hayride with devil incarnates. "I know, Too, but this is the choice we made, and we don't have time anymore for regrets."

Magpie nearly hurled at the words. "Give me a lousy break. You both are the sappiest vampires I've ever known. On the verge of an assassination and all you can chirp about is past relationships!"

"I'm sure if Falcon came tottering to your lair with a stake, you'd be might heartbroken as well!" Matches snapped, her green eyes ablaze.

"Falcon would never betray me; he loves me more than he loves himself."

"We shall see about that, Magpie."

The prostitute glared at the duet and then turned back toward the elves, readying herself to pull the trigger of the crossbow, which would thus launch a poisoned-tip arrow toward the elven maid called Lyf. "Any minute now," she whispered, grinning with delight as her victim came just within range. "There's no better way to make it a night than to murder elves." She was about to fulfill the duties given her by their sires when something unforeseen occurred. Enraged by the indifferent comments of her companions, Tooey brought back her booted foot and kicked hard at the crossbow just as Magpie sent the arrow to launch.

Gasping in horror, the prostitute gaped as the arrow soared downward toward the elves but instead simply tore the fabric off a horse-drawn carriage. She turned toward the others. "You horrid beasts! Don't think Jack won't hear of this!"

Tooey spat onto the concrete at the other's feet and glared. "Tell Jack he's short one vampiress, because I rid myself tonight of this damned guise!"

But Matches gripped her arm tightly and pulled her close. "Tooey, this is all we've got. You've nowhere to go, love. Twitch won't take you back after the pain you've caused him; you know that. We're in this together now. All for one, and one for all." The other relented reluctantly, and was led away by Matches as they followed an incredibly livid Magpie.

Down below in the streets, the elves went hysterical, screaming and crying from the speedy attack. King Raeb galloped toward his retinue of manservant's and guards and inquired as to what had passed. "Are my children safe!" he demanded. "Where are they? From whence did the arrow come? I want answers, and I want them now!"

His most trusted guard, an elf from the Oriental lands called Swifty, immediately came to the king's side and bowed lowly with the utmost respect. "Your highness, your children are quite safe." Locks of the lightest brown hair fell past his forehead and when he finally stood upright, he towered over the king, tall and well-built. His face was disciplined, with high cheek bones and eyes ever alert. "That, milord, was an assassination attempt against your eldest daughter. The halfbloods are apparently disturbed by our departure."

Lyf dismounted her horse and marched over to her father. "He speaks lies, father!" she said, her voice passionate and heartfelt. "The halfbloods would never attempt such a thing! You know that!"

"Perhaps her divineness wishes to believe it as such so long as her love is consumed by a very halfblood."

King Raeb was astounded. "Lyf!"

But the elven maid only glowered in return. "Even if that very halfblood were to severe my emotional attachments to him in the foulest of manners, I would yet stand here before you and proclaim that the halfbloods wish us no ill."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures, milady."

"And desperate measures call for lack of heart." She gave him a long, hard look, and then gazed upon her father. "And if there's one thing I can assure you of, milord, it's that the halfbloods have more heart in them than the most patriotic of souls. I would swear such words on my own mother's grave."

"Lyf, I demand you to silence!" The king was flushed with anger. Anger for his outspoken daughter, and the allegations Swifty placed upon the halfblood race. He would hear nothing of this now, out in the open where the assassin could very well attempt another slay. "We will discuss this in the comfort of the catacombs."

"I refuse it!" Lyf's face was set firmly, her brown eyes like coals in the fire. "I refuse to take refuge with cowardly elves who point fingers of accusation at everyone but themselves. No more will I hear rubbish of halfbloods trying to take our lives. I bid you farewell, father. Adieu." She turned on her heels, jumped atop her horse in one high leap, and rode off in the opposite direction, her horse kicking up dust as if to hide their trail.

Lookout and Lorein didn't even have to think before they, just as well, followed after their elder sibling. True, she often led them on the wildest of misadventures, but being caged with age-old elders wasn't exactly their idea of a good time. Les remained behind, simply because he'd already dismounted his own steed, and by the time he tried to start forward to flee, his father had clamped a hand on his shoulders. The king looked at his three daughters with much sorrow, his heart like a piece of lead in his chest. "Follow them, Swifty. And make sure no harm comes unto them. I will lead my people to safer lands, and expect my daughters' return by dawn."

Swifty bowed obediently and then whistled for his own stallion, a glint in his eyes. This was why he abhorred vampires and their hybrid allies. He'd see to their end most definitely. He'd see to their end no matter what.

Dewey delivered a performance on the four strings of her violin like never before, awakening a rhapsodic fury that would've made the musicians in Beethoven's symphony jealous, but in the end she only garnered the unenthused applause of three individuals amongst the mass gathered in Rumpelstiltskin's Pub, and in the end her perfectionist approach to her music once more went unrewarded. She didn't understand why Father Romanik insisted she remain in the slums of New York when she could very well voyage back to Ireland, and fellowship with touring opuses bound for fame, but she argued not with the man, for the last thing the aging man needed was another nerve gone haywire.

She packed up the violin, rosin, and cotton cloth back into their case and descended the stage with a careless two-foot jump toward the nearest table of the audience, where sat a young boy of six years grinning up at her. "It was extraordinary, Dewey!" he uttered in his diction, which surprisingly enough was not slurred by the learning tongue of a small boy. His words were well enunciated and pronounced, half the time fooling others into thinking they were exchanging dialogue with a prince who'd seen thirty summers!

"Apparently not extraordinary enough." She looked upon Neeko with a sad smile. It had taken ages (because he had not yet been born) but the last elemental to complete the traditional quartet had finally been found in him. Just a boy, she thought to herself, and yet he maintained the most destructive force of them all: fire, to compliment the young woman's mothering of the water element.

"Do the people of this country not appreciate music?"

"The people of this country don't appreciate anything but their decaying carcasses." Dewey was, of course, being harsh toward the mortal race, for in the numerous decades during which she and Runner had established a home in New York after 1792, she'd known nothing from humanity but hell. They were merciless cannibals who slew their own kind and spat in the face of all things true and holy. They enslaved one another, waged war with their fellow brothers, and conducted themselves like stray circus animals brainwashed by drugs.

They aren't worth saving! She had argued with Runner, time and time again. Why do we bother? Why not join the elves to their lands and live in peace for once? Why battle the vampires for –this-?

He would only look at her solemnly and reply, "because a threat to justice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


The water nymph snapped out of her thoughts and looked upon the boy. Seeing his young serene face brought a smile to her face. Upon locating the last of the elemental lineage in New Zealand whilst in the middle of a summoning, she'd taken Neeko back to her current residence in the United States. He wasn't high-maintenance fortunately, and expected less from her than the average six-year old. He'd had no family prior to the move, only a cricket named Moonshine and a haystack roofing over the 4 foot by 4 foot area he called home.

"Can we go home now?" he asked with a sweet cherubic face angels would've envied. He folded his arms on the table and grinned up at her, wondering if she'd make him a grilled cheese sandwich once they reached their apartment. "Will Runner be home tonight?"

Her heart sunk at the mention of her lover. They'd seen each other so little these past few weeks. She was beginning to wonder if the halfblood even remembered her, if he even indulged his mind with thoughts of the girl he'd courted centuries ago in a gothic cathedral. "I don't know when he'll be home, Neeko. He's gone to seek healers down south. And we can't quite go home yet, young master, for we've a meeting to attend and one of which I've been reminding you again and again this month." She strung her violin case over her shoulder, took the little boy's hand, and led him to the dark stairway at the other end of the pub.

"Must we go to the meeting, Dewey? Why can't we simply let them do as they wish? Aren't the vampires our enemies? Doesn't it make sense to you maintaining a fellowship especially devoted to those who seek their demise?"

"Their being our enemies doesn't define the legalities in our wanting to slay them, Neeko!" They began to ascend the rickety stairs step by step, dreading each inch that drew them closer to the murderous fanatics beyond. "What does it solve, if not more blood? What does it reconcile, if not more hatred?"

He pouted. "They murdered my parents as if they were cattle. I'd be confounded to hell if I didn't for one moment entertain a thought of vengeance."

She looked at him, astonished by his word choice. For a six year old to speak of murder! She didn't have time to chastise him, though, for before she could oblige her wishes and simply run home without dealings with the ones upon whom she now called, she was within the very doorway of their darkened room. An oblong table took up the middle grounds, standing bare under the semi-dim illumination of the above antique chandelier. Eight individuals sat around this table, some with arms folded before them, others tapping fingertips impatiently across the hardwood surface. All had the look of fiery ambition in their irises; all creased their lips in a single straight line that spoke of a want which could only be fulfilled through murder.

"Took you long enough," a pristine voice snapped from the shadows.

Dewey hustled toward the table with Neeko at her side and plopped down upon one of the chairs about the table, pulling the young boy onto her lap. "My fondest apologies, Sapphy. Those of us not of the revolutionary class like to make a living from day to day."

Sapphy turned to face the water nymph, her motionless demeanor even more daunting that any other she could've taken upon herself. "What's that suppose to mean? Tell me, love, do I offend you?" Her conveyed tone made it apparent she had no desire to make amends should an altercation arise between the two. There was a tension between the two young women thicker than the oceanic borders between Australia and southern Europe.

"Indeed you do. Your sanguinary, bloodthirsty pursuits appall me. I want nothing more than to vomit each time I hear of a vampire being slain at your crimson-smeared hands. You and your mindless lackeys deserve a future far horrifying than the one for which Spot is bound, for whereas he lashes out with demonic revulsion, your only retaliation is not peace but a damned genocide which will spill blood upon this entire country!"

"Silence, Immortal!" She stormed to her feet and slammed a fist upon the table. "You and your confounded eternal race are among the most indecisive of species in the Confederacy. I am tired of this incessant rubbish, of your carping and complaints, and of those who will simply wallow in their fear while the vampires terrorize our communities!"

"Fool," the other hissed. "You're the only mortal in your little congregation here. You've just slandered the names of all your followers." She smirked sardonically, and then took Neeko in her arms as she arose and marched from the accursed haven.

Sapphy growled and pounded her other fist onto the table. "Curses! Curses unto us all should we fail to bite the vampires back where it hurts most." She shut her eyes tightly as if to muse upon some foreign concept for a moment, and then heaved a massive exhale of breath to calm herself. "Alright, moving along, for I haven't the time nor the heart to open up discussion and deal with each individual's emotions one by bloody one."

She turned around with hands clasped behind her back and strutted to a table upon which was draped a heavy velvet blue cloth. She grabbed one of its ends and tore it from the piece of furniture to reveal a wide display of swords, daggers, maces, and crossbows. Blades glistening like dust from the stars and polished wood glowing like newly crafted hardware, the weapons were something to be gasped at, something which demanded extreme awe from those who beheld them.

"Our repertoire," she announced proudly, grinning viciously at her would-be protégés. She ran a finger across one of the blades, imagining the divine dream of seeing it pierce a vampire's heart. "You each will be assigned one of these beauties to master. It will be your responsibility to guard it well, to never let a pureblood seize it from you. Swear death before it's taken from your possession!"

She faced them, then, and looked upon each potential slayer of the Crimson Society. There were the pirates Race and Blink, the elf Swifty, the prostitute Streak, the aristocrat Dante, the halfblood Stutter, and the mysterious immortal who called himself Falcon. Her heart swelled anxiously and with thorough satisfaction; this was going to be quite successful.

Falcon's limbs burned with treachery. He, himself, was among the vampires Dewey had earlier affronted and yet here he was acquiring membership for a society that pledged to rid the world of vampires. He wasn't a spy, nor was he a Trojan horse ushered forth by his sires. He came because his heart was burdened with remorse. He came because it made him grieve whenever he saw the terror his brethren awoke. He didn't want to be a vampire anymore; quite frankly, he didn't want to be anymore. And he surely wished nothing more than to destroy the Conlon dynasty and its heirs. Magpie was going to slay him if she found out first...

Dante DeFelice Jr. meanwhile fought his own demons. His Italian family had a rich history of meddling with the undead. His forefathers had been slayers, and their ancestors before them. But not all inter-species relations had been victorious on the DeFelice side. One particular ancestor, one Gemma DeFelice, had fallen prey to the sinister intents of the vampiric lords. So pure and radiant had she been, but they had enslaved her and had taken her away to expose of her as they pleased. "I shan't rest until I avenge my elder's murder." His eyes burned with sincerity.

Sapphy cared nothing for their reasoning. She cared nothing for the pasts that had led them to join the Crimson Society or the losses throughout those lives. All she knew was one thing: she now had the foundation upon which she could slaughter every last damned vampire.