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Twenty-Three: Sunny Came Home

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Marcus left the group soon after, taking with him only his personal effects and one vampaneze, a young, spritely fellow by the name of Jecka. There were no goodbyes, no handshakes or wishes of good luck – Marcus just slung a bag over his back, whistled to Jecka as if he were a dog, and disappeared into the night, almost as mysteriously and easily as he had stepped into my world.

I never saw him again.

With the apparent needless deaths of twenty odd vampaneze at the hands of the vampires, the purple-skinned creatures of the night were able to declare open war on their estranged cousins. This, of course, was orchestrated by me, with the help of my growing entourage: Gannen Harst, my main protector; Toby, my small advisor; Izumi, Striker, and Ward, my three silent guardians; and my spy, Daegan – though he now liked to call himself 'Elwyn', believing that 'Daegan' was a failure. Or something along those lines.

With Elwyn's help, I was able to gather as much information on our enemies as possible. Their strategies were laid out before us, almost as if on a golden platter – making us always at least three steps ahead of them.

It was also through Elwyn that I was able to learn more about the two I hated most – Shan and Crepsley. It was through this gathered intelligence that I was able to formulate a plan.

Two years passed.

It was only after I met another man who had been wronged by Shan was I able to put my plan into action.

The man was R.V.

And my plan was one of Retribution.

- - -

The way I met R.V was really coincidental. We just ran into each other one day – quite literally.

It was one of those days that Toby took me out training – let me stress the word 'day' here, seeing as neither of us were full vampaneze, so were able to move around in daylight. Anyway, we were in a woody area of some sort, with Toby taking me through a drill with my sword. Despite his size, Toby was actually quite a formidable opponent when it came to fighting; his weapon was, like mine, a sword, only his was made out of what looked like gold. It wasn't of course – that would have been just plain stupid, seeing as gold was highly malleable, therefore a golden sword would blunt before you got the chance to carve your enemy's head off.

Anyway, as I was saying, he had been taking me through some pretty complicated drills when quite suddenly, a raving lunatic lurched out from the bushes towards us.

No, I'm being serious, here.

He did.

"Kill him!" He was yelling. "Kill him!"

…Needless to say, both Toby and I were quite startled.

The lunatic ran straight passed me, waving stumpy arms in the air madly. Instead, he headed straight for Toby – his eyes filled with hatred.

"You took my hands!" He screeched.

In that split second, Toby glanced at me, his expression comically bewildered. Then, dropping his sword, he stepped lightly to the side, gripped one of the man's stumps, stuck his leg out, and shifted his weight.

Down went the lunatic.

Toby, pulling the man's stump back hard behind his back, promptly sat down on the screeching, twisting man.

"Kill you! Kill you! You took my arms, Shan!"

Silence came crashing down onto the world, as it so often did when a strange random person mentioned the name of my hated one.

Toby turned slowly towards me, his little mouth a grim line, eyebrows shooting up into his curly hairline. I was glaring down at the crazed, hairy, dirty man. He was practically foaming at the mouth in his attempt to buck Toby off him – but a deranged madman is no match for a half-vampaneze, despite the large size difference. Toby stayed where he was, easily straddling the man.

"What did you say…?" I stage-whispered. The crazed man took no heed – he kept twisting and squirming.

"You took 'em! My hands! I hate you, Shan!"

And then he collapsed into a sobbing, pathetic heap, shaking uncontrollably. Toby remained where he was.

An idea formulated in my mind, as suddenly as they always did. Carefully, I stepped forward and squatted in front of the man.

"Did Darren Shan do this to you?" I asked him slowly. He lifted his head, his eyes barely visible under a mass of dark hair. I could just see them – two, wide, scared baubles.

Slowly, he nodded.

I smiled, feeling it creep to my face eerily.

"What would you say if I told you I had away for you to get your revenge…?"

- - -

It was not long before I had persuaded the vampaneze to blood R.V, which they did grudgingly, and it was not long after that, either, before another brilliant idea presented itself to me.

Vampaneze were traditional creatures, and prided themselves in this fact. They did not lie; they thought it dishonourable to fight someone when their back was turned; and they did not use projectile weapons.

With the arrival of R.V, however, I started thinking. The vampaneze and vampires were evenly matched, both bound by their traditional laws. However – if the vampaneze were able to get around those laws, it would give their side a much greater advantage.

And so I told them my idea:

Vampets.

Humans who, like myself, would learn the ways of the vampaneze for several years before being blooded.

Humans who were unbound by the traditional laws.

Humans who could use projectile weapons.

They didn't like my idea at first – but then a swift reminder of who I was and the powers I held quietly squashed any qualms they had, and they readily did as they were told.

Oh, how I loved this.

- - -

He came suddenly, quietly slipping into my makeshift quarters without me realising. I was leaning on an old desk, peering down at a world map that had many coloured pins stuck it in, when I felt his hand slip onto my shoulder.

"Hello, my Lord…" came his soft whisper, somewhere near my ear.

I jerked away.

Elwyn grinned that crazy grin of his.

"I have found out what you wanted to know," he said softly, slowly leaning on to the map. I couldn't help but glare at him, folding my arms.

"There were a lot of things I wanted to know," I growled. "What did you find for me?"

He didn't answer, instead turning towards the map and pulling out a pin. I glared as I watched him inspect the little red-topped thing, poking his finger with the sharp end. A drop of blood appeared, and he watched it in fascination.

"Well?" I asked impatiently.

"Crepsley," he said in a singsong voice, still watching the bead of blood. It began to creep down his upheld finger slowly, curling around it.

I paused.

"What about Crepsley?"

Elwyn turned his attention to me, still smiling.

"Creepy Crepsley was born…" He paused for a second, as if to think, then smiled, turned around, and stabbed the map with the pin. "Here!"

I blinked, then stepped forward and leaned over the map.

He had stuck the pin directly into a spot. The letters next to the spot told me the name of the city, one that I'd heard of vaguely once before. It was famous for its…

Something.

I smiled.

"Are you sure about this?"

Elwyn giggled, and strangely, skipped around the table once. I had no idea what the point of that was – he just did.

"Of course I'm sure, silly!" He sang, then suddenly stopped and wrapped his arms around my waist. I made no attempt to shrug away from him this time – I was too busy looking down at the map as my plans began to blossom and flourish within my mind.

"So… what are you going to do…?" He asked in a soft, husky whisper. I reached over and pulled out several more pins, then, with slow, deliberate movements, I slowly stuck them around the little dot Elwyn had marked out.

"We start moving troops there," I said, beginning to grin now. "I have plans."

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A.B Bleh, short and yucky chapter. I'm sorry. T.T That was so yucky…. Gaaaaaah… Oh well.

GUESS WHO APPEARS NEXT CHAPTER! XDDDDDDD!

Die Kikyo Die: Hmmm. The question is: what is it that you think I'm going to be doing with Toby:D

Shadow's Dark Angel: Thank you! And where do I get my ideas from? Hmmm… well… I'm not sure, really. I'm usually sitting on the toilet or in the shower when I just randomly get hit by inspiration. Honest to god. I got an idea for a LartenArra while on the toilet today… Hmmm… and maybe the cold showers get my muses to stop screwing each other and instead inspire me, or something like that…. Meh!

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Next Chapter:

Twenty-Four: Too Close To Hate

I stood away from the others, hidden behind the bulk of Gannen. From here, I could catch every bit of action happening – Lady Evanna was backing away, while some of my vampets had one of the vampires cornered.

"My Lord!" Toby had cried, his sword held in front of him, taking a step back. He had his robes on, concealing his face. "Go! Leave now!"

"No!" I snarled. "I must see –"

I stopped.

There he was.

A teenager.

Standing in the middle, blood splattered across his pale face, a short sword held in one hand. His right thumb was missing, completely hacked off by someone else's blade.

He was glaring at me.

His eyes were filled with hate.