First Sight (not to be confused with chapter one of Twilight)
Disclaimer: I do not own this book. I own my ideas, but the characters do not belong to me. So, yeah. Everything belongs to Darren Shan, the man behind it all.
I looked up at the sky, seeing the clouds forming overhead; it was going to rain. Of course, it did not take a genius to figure that one out. I made my way back to my room, yawning as I did so. I sighed, stretching my stiff muscles. I do not know why, but Seba was taking extreme measures in toughening me up. I think I have toughened up enough, seeing as I how I now speak in an elaborate manner. He does not know how hard it is just to give up contractions. Every time I so much as think of speaking in such an informal way, I slap myself, both mentally and physically. I ran my hands through my orange hair and adjust my red cloak, thinking of a female vampire I caught sight of in the Halls earlier today. She was pretty, but I paid no attention to it. My one priority is to become stronger and bring respect to Seba's good name, and to myself. I chuckled at my thought. Here I was, saying I want to become stronger, and getting angry that Seba is pushing me so hard. I guess I should not be so rude to my mentor. I sat on my coffin, feeling rather bored. It would be a few hours before dawn, so how was I to spend my time? I was not hungry, nor did I want to practice fighting anymore; my shoulders still hurt. Seba always kept a close watch on me, much to my dismay, but he was nowhere to be found. Why should I be forced to stay indoors? I could sneak out one of the tunnels and head towards the stream. The only problem was… I would have to ask Kurda Smahlt how to get out; he was the only one who knew the ways out of the mountain. I cleared my throat; I would just have to take the risk. If he threatened to tell Seba of my sneaking out, I would have to lie and say I decided to just stay in. Then, I would sneak out anyway, doing my best to find my out.
I found Kurda in the Halls. To my surprise and luck, Seba was not in there. When I approached Kurda and asked him where he was, he told me he was in the gaming halls with Vanez, the games master. I thanked all the gods in my mind.
"Did you need something?" He asked me, looking over a couple of maps he had just finished working on.
"Listen… I know you're really loyal to the council and everything, but…"
"But what?" He raised his eyebrows in a suspicious way.
"…I kind of want to sneak out," I whispered. "I just want to get out, and sit by the stream."
"Larten, the stream? You do know what they dump in that stream, don't you?"
"I do not want to be cooped up," I cut him off. "Come on, please? Help me out through the tunnels."
"Alright," he said. I grinned; I never expected him to agree. He rose from his seat and led me to the tunnels. He went in first, because if I went in myself with the maps, I would have no idea how to read it. "Well, come on!" He shouted. "Don't dawdle!"
"Sorry!" I called back, crawling faster in order to catch up with him. I grew tired rather quickly. There were so many twists and turns that my head was spinning. Every time I so much as took a small rest, Kurda would snap at me to hurry up, and I was forced to give up my break and follow even faster than before.
After what seemed like an eternity, we managed to make it out. The clouds completely blackened the sky, except for the moon, which shined through the clouds with an intense brightness. I squinted my eyes, and realized that my prediction came true. It was raining rather hard by the time we made it to the stream. Luckily, I had an umbrella on my person at all times, just in case.
"Thank you, Kurda," I said to him, as I rested my hands on my knees, and panted.
"You're welcome, Larten," he replied, with a slight smile. "Make sure Seba doesn't hear about this."
"Oh, I will never tell him. You will not tell him?" I asked, my eyes growing wide with worry.
"Of course not." He laughed. "I promise."
"Thank you," I said again.
"I'll wait for you here. I don't want you to going through the tunnels by yourself. You'll never make it out."
"Sure." I pulled out my umbrella and held it over my head. I kept my thoughts to myself as I walked over to the stream. However, they were interrupted when I saw familiar black hair. The black hair belonged to Arra Sails, the female vampire I saw today. She was sitting next to the stream, stroking her hair. I sat next to her, without saying anything.
"Hello," she said, keeping her eyes to the stream.
"Hello," I replied. "How are you?"
"Is the rain not bothering you?" She did not have an umbrella, so I figured I would ask.
"A little. I forgot my umbrella when I left the halls." Being the gentleman I clearly was, I put my umbrella over her head, instead of mine. She looked up at me with hatred. She growled, pushing it away. "Who do you think you are?"
"I think I am Larten Crepsley," I said, with a slight grin. She did not grin back, causing mine to fade from my lips.
"I never asked for you to offer me your umbrella. Do you think I'm weak because I'm female? Do you think I can't stand the rain as much as men can?" I did not think that at all, but I was too shocked to say anything. "Men are so sexist! I've done a lot to make myself equal to everyone else in here. If someone sees me accepting an umbrella from a man, I would be disgraced as a weakling!" Now, that would not happen. I do not know where she got that idea. "Forget it." She got up, and walked away from me. That was the first time I ever spoke to Arra Sails, and that is when I realized how much I hated her.
I followed Kurda back through the tunnels and into the halls to eat some dinner. I wondered where Arra went off to, but I did not care. I tried to do something nice, and she snapped at me. And then it happened. Seba was standing at the table, with his arms crossed, tapping his foot impatiently. Kurda whispered to me that I should talk to him; I did not want to, but I gritted my teeth, put my head downwards in order to avoid his eyes, and stepped forward.
"Hello, Seba," I said.
"Hello, Larten," he replied; I could hear the bitterness in his voice. "What were you doing outside?"
"I did not want to be cooped up in here any longer. I know that sounds like a stupid excuse, but it is true. I am sorry I snuck out."
"I saw Arra coming through the tunnels." He changed the subject, thank the gods. "Did you happen to exchange a word with her?"
"I did," I said, nervously balancing my weight on my right foot. "She is rather rude, is she not?"
"Oh," he chuckled. "Yes, she is a feminist, if you have not already noticed. She works very hard to prove herself to be equal, and she has been doing a good job of it."
"I just offered her my umbrella. It was pouring outside, and she did not have one."
"Well, a feminist, such as Arra, would think that accepting something from a man would be a sign of weakness."
"I noticed that," I said, chuckling slightly.
"You should go and apologize to her." Before I could open my mouth to retort to his foolish suggestion, he spoke again, "If you wish to become stronger, Larten, I would apologize to her. She is a good fighter, and your reflexes will increase if you practice with her; she will not even think of helping you if do not take guilt in your actions."
"But, I take no guilt," I said, jumping up impatiently.
"Just apologize anyway," he told me, patting my shoulder. He walked away, chuckling to himself at my childish ways. I groaned, stomping upstairs to my bedroom. I shut the door with a slam, and jumped in my coffin; dawn was a way off, but I had nothing better to do. I closed my eyes, and kept them closed for hours; I managed to sleep through the rest of the night, and the next day, thinking of what to say to Arra when I next saw her.
I found Arra in the gaming halls, where she was beating the living daylights (no pun intended) out of other vampires. Most were male, I noticed. I smiled in admiration when she threw off one of the stronger males in our clan.
"Ha!" She laughed triumphantly. "You really think you could've beaten me?"
"Ugh," the vampire groaned, as Vanez helped him to his feet.
"You met your match, Leon," he chuckled, as he brought to him to a bench to rest on. I cleared my throat, took a step forward, a step backward, then another step forward; maybe, this was not a good idea. She had a giant stick, and she was beating everyone; what if she snapped, and went after me? Better risk it, I suppose.
"Arra?" I asked. She turned sharply to look at me; she growled, threw away her stick, jumped off the bar, and began walking away. I grabbed her wrist, which really was not a great idea, but I did it anyway.
"What?" She growled, turning around to face me, fire burning in her eyes.
"I just wanted to apologize for my behavior last night." Who would have believed that a guy would be apologizing to a girl for being a gentleman? "Anyway, I believed that what I did was right, but you did not, and so, I must apologize."
"I….. apology accepted, I suppose," she said.
"Do you mind if I watch you fight? I would like to see what kind of moves you use."
"I have a better idea." She grinned a creepy grin which scared me. "Why don't you fight with me?"
"F-fight?" I choked on my words. She nodded. I decided to, though I know I would lose miserably. Vanez laughed with joy and patted me hard on the back. He helped me pick out a weapon. I am not going to lie, I was nervous facing her. When I turned back, she was already on the bars, with a smile. Vanez helped me up on the bars, and I was ready.
"Ready to fight, Larten?" How did she know my name? Wait, everyone knew my name.
"Ready," I replied, gripping my weapon hard. Vanez blew the whistle, and I sprung for action; a little too soon, I might add. I almost lost my footing, but managed to regain myself, and duck before Arra struck me. I heard her growl, which caused a grin on my face. My grin was not to last; she struck me, and I slipped. I caught onto the bars. "Don't give up already!" I heard her shout. I hoisted myself up and sprang after her. We both took minor blows to the head and sides. I swung the stick at her feet, causing her to lose her balance, but she was too quick for me; she caught herself, and brought herself back up. She did what she does best; she sprang at me again, and this time she knocked me down. She smiled, jumping down from the bars, and bowing slightly. She turned to him, the smile still on her face. "You alright there?"
"I think so," I replied. She held her hand out to me, and I heard a gasp coming from Vanez.
"She never takes anyone's hand," he said at my confused expression.
"I am not taking his hand in a respectful way," she spat at him. She grabbed me, and pulled me onto my feet. "I don't shake hands if I don't respect a person."
"Shake his hand!" A vampire said, referring to me. Arra scoffed. "Shake his hand!"
"NO!" She yelled.
"Aw, come now, Arra," Vanez said, patting her shoulder. "He fought you; he even apologized for being a gentleman." I blushed slightly. "Shake his hand. He respects you, why don't you respect him?" She glared at me, grabbed my hand, and shook it.
"There?" She said once I let go. "Happy? Nice fight, Larten."
"Thank you," I replied, feeling the skin on my palm tingle from our touch. She said nothing more, but left to her room, I suppose. And that is when I realized that was beginning to like this girl.
During the Council, there was always a ball. I was stuck at the ball, wearing my best red dress robes for the occasion. I scoffed at the stupidity of it, and popped a bat wing into my mouth; bat broth was gross, but the wings were not too bad. Kurda Smaht, along with my friend Gavner Purl, approached me.
"How's it going, Larten?" Gavner asked.
"Fine." I lied.
"I know when you're lying," Kurda told me with a smile, stroking his blonde hair.
"I do not understand why I am here. I never dance with anyone because there are no females here aside from the staff. I do not want to dance with the staff. If I were to mate, I would choose someone far more worthy. Someone who is not afraid to speak her mind, and fights hard when she needs to."
"Someone like Arra?" Gavner asked, with a wink. As soon as he said that, I felt my cheeks flushing red. He laughed at me. "You like her!"
"Shut up, Gavner," I told him. "If you did not know, I would blush at the thought of harboring feelings for any of these girls here. Not only Arra." That is what I kept telling myself; I did not like her in that way. Sure, she was pretty and tough, but there was just no way.
"I actually convinced her to come," Kurda admitted.
"You did?" I asked in shock. "Why would she come here?"
"I don't know." He shrugged.
Moments later, the ball started. Many vampires came in, including Seba, who was accompanying an elderly female vampire who was wearing red like he was. I chuckled at the thought of them two getting married. I looked around at the females filing in. No, no, no, no… I did not like any of these girls. Then, I spotted a girl, wearing a long red dress that went down to her ankles, with her black hair up in an elegant bun. Kurda caught my gaze, patted my shoulder, and whispered, "That's Arra."
"No way," I said. "That is not her. She is wearing a dress. Arra does not wear dresses."
"Believe it or not, Arra is a girl. She does have a feminine side. She just shows not to show it so often." My face flushed as I came to shocking realization that the woman in the red dress was indeed Arra. Kurda patted my shoulder again.
"You should ask her to dance," he told me. That made my blush deepen.
"A-are you crazy, Kurda?" I snapped. "I have no such feelings for Arra."
"I never said you did. Saying that is making me assume you do."
"Ah! I do not have feelings for her!"
"If you say so," he said with a smile, but I can tell he was not convinced. I began to press on the matter until he was convinced otherwise.
"I am telling you the truth. I do not have any feelings for Arra Sails."
"Alright, alright. I don't care anymore. But, just ask her. It means nothing."
"I…" I averted my gaze from him, and looked to the ground. "I would rather not, if that is fine by you."
"It is. Wow, your way of speaking has gotten a lot better. Don't you ever slip up?" He told me, thankfully changing the subject.
"Ever since Seba has been ripping hair out of my nose and ear, I have been trying a lot harder to speak like him," I admitted. "My speech has improved greatly, and he is proud of it." Kurda did not say anything, and just nodded. He smiled at me, and strode away to another part of the ball, where Seba was, and began chatting with him. He looked at me and talked to him, and I blushed; I had a feeling he was telling Seba about the feelings I did not have, but he assumed I had. Stupid Kurda…
I sat down at a table, grabbing a piece of bread from the plate, and ripping it to pieces; I was not hungry, just bored, I suppose. I watched Arra looked displeased as she walked onto the dance floor. A male vampire, the one named Leon, approached her, wearing his best robes.
"Hello, Arra," he said, bowing.
"Hey," she replied coldly.
"May I ask for a dance?" He held out his hand.
"No." His face fell, but his hand did not.
"Aw, come on. You don't have to take my hand in a respectful way. I just want a dance. You look really nice today."
"Thank you?" She was skeptical as whether it was a compliment or not. His hand still wavered. She sighed, and put her hand in his. "One dance, if it will make you shut up. And you better not spread rumors that I shook your hand because I didn't." She growled, and I was sure that was a serious threat. They danced, and I found myself watching them. As I did, a strange feeling rose up in my chest; was this jealousy? No, Larten, you are not jealous of Leon. I do not know what it means, but it is not envy; there is no way. However, my feeling soon subsided after she abruptly stopped their dance. He looked disappointed, but did not say anything. Ha, you stupid Leon; did you honestly think she would be into a guy like you? Okay, what was I thinking? Am I actually happy she stopped their dance? No, I could not care less! When I spotted Arra approaching me, I turned my head away, and kept my eyes on the torn pieces of my bread on my table. She sat next to me, and sighed.
"Hey, Larten," she said.
"Hey," I replied.
"What's going on?"
"Nothing much. You?"
"Nothing much here either." She sighed again. "These imbeciles; I can't believe these girls look forward to this thing."
"So, you do not like this event?" I asked a hint of disappointment in my voice.
"No. I hate them. It just shows how woman do nothing to make themselves seem stronger."
"So…" I blushed slightly. "I guess a dance would be out of the question?" Oh, god, what did I just ask? She turned to me, eyes widened.
"A dance?" She repeated.
"I know you just danced with Leon, but…" My voice trailed off, and I was getting ready for rejection. But, rejection did not come, much to my surprise, and relief.
"Yeah, I'll dance with you."
"R-really?" I could not believe my ears. She nodded. She grabbed my head and led me to the dance floor. I nervously put my hand on her waist, noticing how skinny and well-built she was, and put the other on hand. One of her hands went on my shoulder. I also noticed that her skin was soft, and I blushed again. I gulped, and when the music started again, I took the lead. I was nervous; the only time I danced was with my fiancé back in the day. We danced so elegantly, pretty much beating all the other dancers. I spotted Seba and Kurda smiling at me, and I felt myself smile back. The dance did not last too long, and I did not expect it to. But, it was the best moment of my life. Arra was smiling, much to my surprise.
"That was fun," she said.
"Yeah," I agreed. "Well… thank you, Miss Sails." I kissed her hand.
"You are welcome, Mr. Crepsley." She curtseyed to me with a wink. And that is when I realized I was falling for her.
When I came to the realization that I was indeed falling for Arra Sails, I tried to hide it as much as I could, but Seba knew; he always knows everything.
"It is only a crush," I told him. "There is nothing further in my feelings."
"If only that were the case, Larten," he said, smiling. "I think you may be in love with Miss Sails."
"Seba, that is not it!" I screamed. "I am young; I do not know what I'm feeling."
"Well, you keep telling yourself that," he said, chuckling. I hoped my feelings were only minor.
Running to Arra in the halls was something I did not like doing. She was friendly with me now because of my apology, our fight, and our dance; every time we talked, I found myself blushing, but she paid no attention to it. I tried to see if she was blushing, but she was not. Well, maybe she was, but she was not blushing as hard as I was. Who knows?
My feelings grew. I could not deny it, but I still hoped it was only a crush, and that it would pass. I had no time for petty things such as love; I had to focus on getting stronger and following Seba's orders unless they involved me coming to terms with my feelings. In that case, I would have to defy him.
A few nights later, I felt like sneaking out again. This time, I did not go to Kurda for the maps and the help, and instead, did something very stupid. I tried to find my own way out, but I failed. Miserably. I would always end up in a part of the mountain that never seen before. But, I did not give up. I kept going and going until I was finally out by the stream. And it was raining. AGAIN.
"Dumb rain," I muttered to myself, taking out my umbrella. I strode to the stream, ready to give my blessings to those who had fallen in the past. And again, I saw Arra there, dipping her fingers into the water. I sat next to her, but kept my umbrella over my head; I did not want her snapping at me.
"Hello," she said.
"Good evening," I replied, looking at the full moon in the sky above. I heard her scoff. I turned to her with a confused expression. "What?"
"You call yourself a gentleman?" She asked with a sneer.
"What?" I asked again.
"As you can see, I do not have an umbrella."
"Last time you got mad at me for doing that!" Did she have short term memory lost or something?
"I know, but I feel like using an umbrella now. And since I am the one telling you do it, I do not seem so weak. You are. Taking orders from a female! Ha!" I grumbled, putting the umbrella over head. Her hands grabbed my shoulder and pulled me close to her. Blushing, I asked what that was for. "Well, I don't want you getting sick."
"Thanks," I said, with a smile. We sat there for a while. My arm was around her shoulder, and hers was around my waist. We stared at the beautiful moon; not even remotely close to being as beautiful as her eyes, I must say. Then, without warning, she brought her face to mine, and kissed me. She blushed, pulling away.
"Was that bad?" She asked, feeling guilty. I smiled.
"Of course not." I caressed her lips with my own, and we kissed under the umbrella, under the moonlight, and soon under the rain, when she threw the umbrella away, and we wrapped our arms around each other.
Crepsley was brought out of his thoughts by Arra, who lay in his arms, blood dripping from her lips.
"Are you alright?" He asked her, stroking her hair lovingly.
"I've been better," she replied, with a slight smile.
"You are going to make it. I know you are. You are a fighter…"
"I hope so, Larten, but don't be making promises you can't keep." He wiped the blood away from her lips. "Now, how about that kiss?" He smiled, remembering his vow to her that there would be plenty of time for kissing later, and it seemed right now, was the right moment. He brought his lips to hers and they shared one last kiss. "I'm going to die, aren't I?"
"You cannot die." He told her, his eyes filling with tears. "You have to stay alive."
"Remember your promise. Don't let them kill Darren."
"I will never let them do that, but as I said before, you can tell the Princes yourself. You are strong, and you will beat this." He noticed her eyes get watery, and tears flow down her cheeks. He wiped them away with his thumb.
"Larten…" She said, weakly; she was fading away, he knew it.
"Do not speak." He put his finger on her lips to keep her from talking. "Arra…"
"Yes?" She was smiling.
"It has been a long time since we have last seen each other. I do regret many things. I want to say I never stopped lov…." She gasped; her body tensed up, and went stiff in his arms, her smile still etched on her face. "Arra? You…" He clutched at her body, tears flowing freely. He held onto her for twenty minutes until the paramedics arrived. "She's gone," he told them.
"It's finally happened," one of them said. She tried to take Arra's body from Crepsley, but he snapped at her.
"No! You cannot take her from me!"
"Larten," a familiar voice said. Seba walked forward to the bed. "You must let go."
"She… she cannot be dead. I just cannot believe it."
"Yet, she is."
"…. I cannot leave her," he said. "She's all I have."
"You have Darren. Do not forget that; and you cannot forget your promise made to Arra."
"I have to keep Darren alive, for her sake." He looked down at the lifeless body in his arms. He looked up at the paramedics, sighed, and let Arra go. They gave him their condolences, took the body, and pushed it out of the room. They came back in with a new vampire, one Crepsley did not care about. Seba helped him up, and he staggered out of the hospital wing, and headed to Darren's room.