Larten couldn't sleep that day, knowing that the night would bring more misery to his already distressed heart. He wanted to go out into the halls, like he always did when he was havingtrouble sleeping, and see her sitting by the walls, preoccupied in her thoughts. Every time he saw her, he would sit with her and let her think until she was ready to turn her attention to him. He would put his arm around her, and gently kiss her hair. He sighed, getting out of the hammock. Darren was asleep, while Harkat lay on the floor. Darren was so used to staying up all night with the vampires, so he slept during the day like they did. Larten smiled; he would make a great vampire one day, if the Princes allowed him to live.
"Of course they will," Larten told himself. "I would rather die than not keep my promise to Arra." He opened the door, being careful not to wake Darren or Harkat, and made his way to the place where the Guardians of Blood resided. The bodies, he was certain, were in there. He hoped he wasn't too late. He opened the doors, glancing around nervously. One or two of the people dressed in white stared at him when he came in. He stared back until finally speaking, "Where are the bodies?" They didn't say anything. "I wish you understood English." The two of them glanced at each other, and then looked back at Larten. "Never mind," Larten said, growling underneath his breath. He ignored them as he walked through the godforsaken place. He considered it to be the worst Hall in the mountain. It was even worst than the Hall of Death, though he was sure many wouldn't agree with him. Larten's eyes glanced in every direction, hoping for some sign that Arra's and Gavner's bodies were in there, unharmed. He saw a female Guardian of Blood, wielding a knife. There were no signs that Arra and Gavner were in there, and his heart fell like a rock.
"Are they okay?" He asked; he didn't know why, though.
"They are," she replied, shocking him.
"You understand English? And speak it?" He asked, completely bewildered.
"Yes. I choose not to speak it, however. But, right now, I don't think I have much of a choice. Your friends are okay, for now. We have not gotten to them, but you cannot see them. They are locked away until we are ready. We will be doing it soon."
"In a couple of hours, about an hour before the cremation ceremony."
"Oh…" He sighed.
"I am sorry for your loss, but it is tradition."
"I understand that; I just wanted to see them before their internal organs were devoured." The female nodded, showing she understood what he wanted, but she couldn't grant his wish. He nodded, thanking her for her time, and left the Hall, ignoring the stares from the others.
Larten made it back to the cell just as Darren and Harkat were waking up. Darren yawned loudly, rubbing his head. Larten couldn't help but chuckle when Darren gasped and felt his bald head, forgetting that it was burned off.
"Shut up," he said.
"Is that any way to speak to your mentor, Master Shan?" Larten asked, crossing his arms.
"It is when he laughs at you for being bald."
"Sorry. I needed a laugh."
"I hate…. This…." Harkat said, getting to his feet. "Usually…. It... is alive here… but ever since… the battle… it is… depressing."
"I know what you mean," Darren replied, pulling on his sweater. "I just can't believe it. Why don't you go to sleep, Mr. Crepsley? You look like you need it." Larten knew he needed it, but could he actually sleep with such horrible thoughts in his head? He rubbed his orange hair and nodded, trying to keep his feelings hidden. He sighed as he got into the hammock, and slowly and painfully, drifted to sleep.
About fifteen minutes before the cremation ceremony, Larten was shaken awake by his mentor, Seba Nile. He had a worried look as he caught sight of Larten's face.
"Charna's Guts, Larten," Seba said when Larten was fully awoken. "You look awful." He had bags underneath his red, puffy eyes.
"I feel awful," he replied, sitting up and rubbing his hair. He groaned; that brought back memories as well.
"Larten! You awake yet?" Arra asked, coming into his room; it was night, and she wanted to get on the bars, but she promised Larten she would wake him up before she went. He wasn't fully awake, and she could tell. His eyes were closed, but he was sitting upright in his coffin.
"Hello, Arra," he said, rubbing the scar that occupied the left side of his face.
"You're not awake," she laughed.
"Of course I am."
"Larten, Gavner kissed me today."
"What?" Larten screamed, waking up now. "Where is that idiot?"
"I'm just kidding!"
"Do not kid with me like that. You know I am the jealous type." He sheepishly looked away from her.
"Aw, and that's why I think you're so cute. And, you look absolutely adorable with bed-head." She rubbed his messy orange hair, laughing as a tint of pink crept upon his cheeks.
End of Flashback
"Are you ready?" Seba asked, handing Larten his cloak, which he squirmed out of while he was asleep.
"Ready as I will ever be." He put it down, not caring if it was not on properly; he always cared about how his appearance was, unlike many other vampires he knew, but right now it didn't seem to matter. "Where is Darren? He is attending, is he not?"
"Darren Shan and Harkat Mulds are waiting outside for you."
"Harkat is attending as well?"
"I… want… to pay my respects…" Harkat said, peeking into the room. "I hope that…. Is… not a…. problem." Larten smiled.
"Of course it is not," he replied, feeling grateful towards the Little Person. "It means a lot to me that you would want to do that, even if you did not know them that well."
"We better get going, Larten," Seba spoke up, heading towards the door. "The ceremony is about to start."
"Okay." Larten followed Harkat, Darren, and Seba outside of the room and to the Hall where the burnings were taking place. Darren stayed silent during the trip, feeling extremely guilty that he was the one who came up with the Arachnid plan. He believed himself to be the cause of the war, and Arra's death.
"Mr. Crepsley," Darren finally said, when they were all there. "I'm sorry; it's all my fault."
"How is it your fault?" Larten asked.
"Well, it was my plan that started the battle. Because of me, so many people died. I'm to blame for Arra's death." Tears began to drip out of his eyes. Larten patted Darren's shoulder.
"Do not blame yourself, Darren. The blame is on Kurda."
"Do not worry about it, and let us watch the ceremony." Many vampires were brought with stretchers and place on a mat. The Vampire Princes would set fire to it, and it looked as though their souls were emerging. Darren gasped when Gavner Purl was brought up. Arrow placed his body onto the mat. Darren ran to it, and placed his sword next to him.
"Thanks, Gavner," he said, starting to cry.
"Do you want to leave?" Larten asked.
"N-no. It's just hard, you know?"
Larten hugged Darren, and patted his back in a fatherly way. Again, more and more vampires were brought up. Darren wasn't close to them, but he honored them for their bravery. He became teary at each one. Then, Arra Sails was brought forth. Larten stiffened and stared after her longingly. Darren and Seba placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Be brave, Larten," Seba told him. "Arra would not emotional outbursts." Larten tried to smile, failed.
"I will conduct myself with all decorum," Larten replied with a slight haughtiness. "But…" His voice softened. "I miss her. With all my heart and soul, I miss her." Darren could tell that he was trying his hardest not to shed a tear. He kept his word, and was composed, even though his heart was aching with unbearable pain as he watched her body burst into flames.
"Goodbye, Arra. May you find Paradise. I will join you one day."
"It's alright, Mr. Crepsley," Darren said, hoping his words might be able to find some peace for the vampire, though he knew there was little chance of that. They stayed silent during the length of the cremation. Once it was over, Larten immediately got up and left the Hall, muttering something about needing to do something. Darren and Seba didn't dare to follow him."Poor Mr. Crepsley."
"He is devastated," Seba said. "He still loved her."
"No, not 'loved.' He still loves her." Seba smiled slightly.
"You are right, Master Shan. He does still love her, and I do not think that is ever going to change."
Larten locked himself in his own room, burying his face in his hands. He dug his nails into his coffin and began ripping through the wood.
"Why?" He asked himself. "How many losses must I endure?" He remembered saying those words to Seba during his first council, but then, he was referring to his losing many challenges during the Festival of the Undead. Now, it was much worse. He would rather lose battles, than to lose her. He wished Gavner or Arra was by his side comforting him during his time of turmoil. If he knew this was going to happen, he would never have brought Darren up here. Even though he was required to, he wouldn't have done if it meant sparing their lives. But… then he would be acting based on his own feelings, and not for the good of the clan. No matter what he did, Kurda would still be a traitor, and hundreds of Vampaneze would still be in the tunnels. No one would know anything, and they might have all been slaughtered. He sighed, taking his nails out of his coffin and studying the damage.
"Damn it; Seba is going to be angry with me," he chuckled, seeing the many scratches he had inflicted. He opened it, and lay inside. He wept loudly, and his cries echoed through the corridors and tunnels, far into the cold and lonely dawn.