Larten quietly and sadly, after minutes of persuasion, left the hospital wing and Arra behind. His heart pounded as he made his way to Darren's cell. He opened the door, not caring if Darren would be angry that he didn't knock, and slumped himself onto Harkat's hammock. The Little Person was sitting on the floor, staring at the stone walls with an unreadable expression. Darren shut his diary when Larten came in, and turned to face his mentor.
"Hi," Larten said lamely.
"Hi," Darren replied. "I'm sorry."
"So, you heard the news?" Darren nodded.
"Are you okay?" He asked, feeling stupid that he asked such a dumb question, but he couldn't think of anything to say.
"It is just too hard," Larten replied, rubbing his eyes in order to hide the tears. "I understand the pain your parents went through when you 'died.'"
Darren stayed silent for a few minutes, and then opened his mouth, "You still loved her, didn't you?" He was surprised when his mentor did not flush, as he usually did when he asked these personal questions. Larten merely nodded.
"However, you said 'loved,' assuming that my love for her is in the past. I do still love her, present tense, Darren. I highly doubt that my affection for Arra will ever subside. Now, let us go on to other business, if you do not mind." Darren shook his head, knowing the pain he was giving Larten through his thoughtless questions. "Kurda is going to have an execution, right after the questioning. Now, I plan to attend both. I need to know about you."
"I will attend the questioning, but I would rather skip the execution."
"I would not attend either," Harkat spoke up for the first time. Larten was beginning to think that he was asleep; Harkat didn't have eyelids, so he slept with his eyes open. "I don't think it…. is… my place…" Larten turn his eyes away from Harkat, being reminded too much of how Arra spoke as she was dying.
"Why do you want to attend the execution, Mr. Crepsley?" Darren asked. "I thought that's the reason you left Vampire Mountain; because you always attended them, and hated seeing it happen."
"Well, you are bound to discover why sooner or later," he replied. "I feel awful for admitting it, but I do not think I should feel awful. I desire in seeing Kurda fall against the stakes. I want to watch him die. I want to hear him scream and beg for mercy." Darren, trembling, watched Larten with worried eyes.
"I never thought you could think like that," he told him, feeling frightened.
"I never thought I could either," Larten admitted. "But, Arra and Gavner's death… he is to blame for it. He is the reason for all my melancholy. I must sound completely selfish to be basing it all on my own feelings, but he killed the two people I admire most."
"You don't admire me?" Darren asked, teasing him with a sad face. He laughed, patting his bald head.
"Of course I do. But, you understand, do you not?"
"Yeah, I do." There was a knock at the door, and Larten swiftly opened it. Seba Nile was standing before him, wearing his best red robes. Darren's stomach churned; he acted as though the questioning and executions were some sort of formal event that everyone had to be dressed up for.
"The questioning is about to start," Seba said. Larten nodded. Darren said bye to Harkat and followed them. However, Larten headed to the hospital wing instead of the Hall of Princes. Arra's bed was now empty, and his red cloak lay on the chair next to it. He grabbed it, avoiding glancing at the place where she breathed her last breath. He said nothing to either of them as they made their way to the Hall of Princes. Every vampire in the mountain must have been inside, all looking around for the traitors to make themselves visible. Larten, Seba, and Darren sat in the front with Vanez Blane. Darren wished Arra and Gavner were there to sit next to them. Maybe, then, Larten wouldn't feel so horrible.
"How is the eye?" Seba asked Vanez, who chuckled.
"Blind as bat now," he replied. "It kind of sucks."
"Where in the world did you hear that kind of language?" Larten exclaimed.
"Darren." He pointed at Darren, though he was really pointing at thin air.
"Over here," Darren said; Vanez pointed in Darren's direction. "Yeah… I used that phrase once or twice, describing the trek up here."
"If I was not in such a horrible state," Larten said, "I would throw you down the mountain for using disrespectable language."
"Yeah, right, old geezer," Darren laughed. Normally he would have gotten in trouble for his lack of respect, but Larten merely chuckled, letting it go; he had to make him feel better somehow.
"I heard what happened to Arra," Vanez said, causing the laughter to die away, and Darren mentally cursed him for undoing all his work. "Larten, I'm truly sorry."
"It is not your fault, Vanez," Larten replied, clutching the fabric of his pants. "But, if you do not mind, I would rather not talk about it."
"Everyone, silence!" Paris Skyle yelled as he sat on his throne next to Mika Ver Leth and Arrow. Darren noticed Mika looked a little sad, but he knew why; Seba had explained that he was Arra's mentor and that he had some sort of crush on her. If things weren't so serious, Darren would have laughed, but he knew better than that. "We are here to question Kurda Smhalt and his company." He nodded at the guards, who opened the door. Kurda was escorted in, hands chained, looking worse than he did in the hospital wing. His guards came in as well. Many vampires hissed and booed as he came in until Paris silenced them once again. Darren couldn't help but feel sorry for him. "Kurda Smahlt, you are accused of being a traitor to the vampire clan. Do you deny it?"
"No," Kurda replied.
"Who were you working under?" Arrow asked.
"Liar!" He spat. "Tell me, whose work were following?"
"Mine," Kurda said again. Before Arrow could say anything, he said, "I am telling the truth, Sires. Everything was my idea. I had the desire to bring our clans together again. I was the one who housed them in the tunnels. I am to blame since I was the cause of so many deaths, namely Gavner Purl and Arra Sails." Larten growled when he mentioned their names; he would have attacked Kurda if Seba did not place his hand on his shoulder. "I do not deny anything. Many vampires here call me a traitor. Would I snap and say that I wasn't? No. I am a traitor." He looked down sadly at his chains.
"Since you are a traitor to our clan," Mika Ver Leth said, "you are sentenced to death for your actions. As well as your company." He pointed at the vampires who were standing behind him. "Do you agree, Sire?" He turned to Paris, who was staring at the blonde-haired vampire.
"I do," he said solemnly. "Kurda Smahlt, you and your guards are herby sentenced to death. You shall be executed." Darren felt sick as many around him were cheering loudly and calling Kurda horrible names, some of which he hoped never to recall. He glanced over at Larten, who had no change of expression, though he knew in his mind, he was cheering as well. He thanked him mentally for keeping it inside. Kurda said nothing as he was being escorted out along with his guards, who looked as though they wanted to kill everyone in the Hall. Darren watched as tears fell from Kurda's blue eyes and onto the stone floor.
The execution was coming up. Larten led Darren back to his cell, where Harkat was waiting for him. He was sitting on his hammock, kicking his feet.
"Well, I will not be long," Larten said to Darren. "I will try to come back after it is over, but do not count on it. I might need some time alone."
"I understand," Darren said, lying down.
"Right… Well, goodbye."
Before Darren could say 'bye,' Larten was already gone.
Larten waited with Seba outside of the Hall of Death. He shifted uncomfortably.
"Larten, are you excited about this?" Seba asked.
"To be truthful, I am," he admitted. "I told him I would enjoy every minute of it."
"Try not to be too excited. Those who get worked up about executions usually have a craving for murder."
"Do not worry about me, Seba. This is the first time I have ever really wanted to see death happen right in front of me. If I had my way, I would be the one to dig a stake through his worthless heart."
"Larten, I know you are in pain, but do not speak like that. Arra would not have wanted that. Even though she hated Kurda, she would not like you acting like this."
"Please, stop talking about her as if she were dead," Larten murmured.
"But, she is dead," Seba reminded him.
"I still do not want to believe it."
The doors opened and many vampires ran in, eager to see Kurda's death. Larten sat himself in front; no one denied him as he walked through. Everyone knew he wanted to see this more than anyone else. The Princes were standing next to the pit, each looking gravely into it. Kurda was standing on the top with a vampire General next to him, ready to push him off into the pit of stakes. Along with him were his comrades. He was trembling, but he took a deep breath. Larten watched him intently, ignoring those who were screaming at him.
"Be quiet!" He hissed, causing them to quiet down. "Kurda!" He yelled. Kurda looked down at him. "Remember what I told you? I am going to enjoy this. Every second of it! You are the cause of everything… and…" Larten grabbed his sleeves, forcing himself to hold his tears in. "Princes, please, just get on with it." Paris nodded.
"We are here today to witness the deaths of these traitors," he said loudly. Paris nodded at the General, who nodded back. He began the execution by pushing the first one in. He screamed as he fell and was impaled by the stakes. It killed him in one shot. The next one took two. After all of his guards were dead, it was Kurda's turn.
"Allow me to say one thing," he said. The General glanced over at the Princes, who gestured that he had their permission. "Again, I am sorry this has happened. I believed my idea to be flawless, but alas, it was not. And I know this apology does nothing, but I feel that I need to say it. The person I want to apologize to the most is Larten Crepsley." Larten kept his eyes on him, expression unchanging. "I know I have hurt him the most through my actions. I know his pain is unbearable because of the death of Gavner and Arra."
"Stop talking," Larten growled. "Your apology does nothing for me. They are dead, and there is nothing you can say to fix it. Stop talking unless you really want me to kill you. Because I will do it." Kurda fell silent. The General sensed that he was done with his apologies, and sighed as he pushed him into the pit of stakes. It took three times to finally kill him. He fell; Kurda Smahlt, the traitor, the General, the would be Prince. The vampires inside the Hall cheered and clapped loudly. Some even went to the pit and spat in it, being very careful not to fall in.
"Larten, you are not celebrating?" Seba asked his pupil, who was staring at the pit.
"No. In my heart, I am extremely thrilled. But, I know cheering and celebrating with ale and food will not bring them back to me. The best thing for me to do is to grieve." He brought his fingers to his lips, gently touching them. When Seba raised his eyebrows, he explained, "I am just reflecting on my last kiss with her. I wish I could do it again, but that is impossible." Larten rose from his seat and left the Halls, passing screaming vampires who were downing buckets of ale. He did tell Darren he needed time alone, but he wasn't sure if that was best thing anymore. He went back to Darren's cell, where the half-vampire was absentmindedly doodling in his notebook.
"Mr. Crepsley," he said when he came in. "What are you doing here?"
"I am just here," he replied, taking off his cloak. He stared at the red fabric, feeling it underneath the palm of his hand. "I think I should burn this."
"It reminds me too much of her. She always loved this cloak, and always said I looked absolutely dashing in it. I wish I could hear her say it again."
"Mr. Crepsley, please, don't do that. I understand you're in pain, but please…" Larten put the cloak on the hammock. "Vanez came by. He left earlier than you did after the execution. He didn't tell me anything about it, but he did tell me the cremation ceremony is tomorrow night." Larten's eyes darted to the ground. "What happened with the execution."
"That dumbass Kurda tried to apologize for the anguish he has put me through," he said sarcastically. "Needless to say, I threatened to kill him. It took three times to kill him. It was rather riveting. But, I do not have the need to burden your heart with my sick thoughts. Where is Harkat?"
"He went off with Vanez for some reason," Darren replied, going back to doodling.
"Do you think he would mind if I slept in his hammock?" Darren shook his head. Larten sighed, lying down, thinking of everything that had happened in the course of only a couple of days.
"Hey, Larten," Arra said, walking into his cell as he was changing. "Looks like I came in a little too late." She pointed to him, now being fully dressed, aside from his cloak.
Blushing, he pulled it on, muttering, "Do not be so perverted, Arra."
"I'm just kidding! Wow, Larten!"
"W-what?" He looked around the room not sure what she talking about.
"You look absolutely dashing with that cloak." He turned a little redder, adjusting the clasp on it.
"I have always worn this cloak. Why is this so different?" He asked.
"Well, I never really paid that much attention to it, but now that I had a good look, I can see it. You look handsome." She stepped toward him with a slight smirk. She cornered him against a wall. Her emerald eyes twinkled as she gently brushed his shoulder with her hand. She got on her tiptoes and kissed him. He kissed her back, snaking one arm around her waist and one behind her back, tangling his fingers into her black hair.
END OF FLASHBACK
He wished he could do that again. He cuddled with his cloak, allowing his mind to drift away.