Van Helsing held the vial tightly in his hand; it was going to be over soon. Soon this nightmare would be over and his daughter would be safe. Dracula and Nicola nodded happily, relief spreading through them. Carl smiled... before he looked at the setting sun. The feeling of happiness vanished.
"Van Helsing!" he cried, "we only have two days time! I don't know if we can make it back before sundown!"
"Yes, we can!" Van Helsing came back to life and stuck the vial in his pocket, nodding to the friar. He turned back to Dracula.
"Can you fly us back to Rome by jet?" he asked, hope in his voice for the fist time in a week. He prayed that this might work.
"Yes," Dracula nodded, "but it will take a few hours time to get there, even so, it's shorter than riding."
"Done!" Van Helsing said and they raced out of the room and back to Dracula's mansion.
Van Helsing could do nothing on the plane but finger the small vial. He had never looked at it before and marvelled that something so small could save a life. Carl came next to him and touched his shoulder.
"Are you all right?"
"What if we don't make it back on time?" Van Helsing asked him. Carl gave him a hug,
"We will... I just pray we get back before sundown tomorrow," he whispered. Van Helsing looked at him.
"If we don't?"
Carl looked the hunter in the eye. "We can't think like that."
Van Helsing, Carl, Nicola and Dracula raced through the doors of the Vatican and down to the underground armoury. It had taken some time to get back, but they had made good time. They reached the living quarters and found their way to Arene's room. They stopped short and Nicola touched Van Helsing's arm.
"Let me go first," she said, wanting to make sure he'd be okay.
Van Helsing nodded and watched at she walked up to the door and knocked softly. The Cardinal opened the door and hugged her at once.
"You made it back!" he cried. "Do you have the antidote?"
"Yes, Gabriel has it," she said. "How is she?"
The Cardinal sighed and gestured for all of them to enter. Nicola went first, followed by Van Helsing and the others. Arene lay sleeping on the bed, looking worse than ever. Her face and lips were completely pale, Sweat dripped down her face and she was shivering. She was thin and extremely weak. It was hard to believe the girl was still alive. The Cardinal touched her head gently.
"No one has been able to calm the fever and she's been having horrible nightmares," he whispered.
Gabriel, who could not stand the pain another second, came to his daughter's side. He reached out and stroked her cheek once before pulling the vial out of his pocket. He knelt beside her and opened the bottle. Very delicately, he poured it into her mouth and watched as she swallowed the contents... nothing happened.
Gabriel took his child's hand in his. "Arene..." he whispered, tears flowed down his face.
The Cardinal touched his shoulder. "Give the antidote tonight to work, my son. If she is not well by tomorrow... than..." He would not finish. Gabriel knew what he would have said. The Cardinal motioned for Carl, Dracula and Nicola to leave. Carl turned back and looked at his friend.
"Van Helsing... are you coming?"
He shook his head. "No... I'm going to stay with her tonight."
Carl nodded and he, Nicola and Dracula left. Nicola came back in after a moment, draped a blanket around his shoulder and kissed his cheek.
"Watch after her," she said and left. Leaving them both alone. Gabriel pulled a chair next to the bed where Arene slept and just sat there, watching her.
Gabriel became aware of a light movement in his hair. He groggily opened his eyes. Then shot bolt upright. He'd fallen asleep!!!! He looked round and saw his daughter smiling back at him, with an amused look. She was completely restores and looked as healthy as she ever had with a rosy glow in her cheeks.
"It's OK. You must be tired and you looked so peaceful sleeping," she said to relieve his guilt.
Van Helsing couldn't speak but with a cry of joy he enfolded her in his strong arms.
Just then there was a knock on the door and Carl, Nicola and Vladislaus crowded into the room. Seeing Arene sitting up and looking so well they all uttered exclamations of happiness as they moved round the bed.
Arene smiled at them all in turn then laughed.
"Thank you so much for helping me – all of you! But I expect to hear all your adventures before the morning is out!"
They stayed in the room for hours, telling of all that had happened and watching with joy as Arene's strength continued to return. The nightmare was over and the group of friends settled down in the hope that they'd have some peace for a while at least.