Mr. Crepsley kept himself composed during the cremation ceremony, though every now and then, he looked like he wanted to leap out of his seat and clutch her body close to him. His hands were balled into fists, as he watched the flames lick Arra's body and set her body on fire. After her body was completely charred, Mr. Crepsley looked away from the remains, muttering only her name. He got up and began to leave. I grabbed his wrist, looking sorrowfully up at my mentor, who looked so torn up.
"Darren," he said. His eyes… they looked so empty.
"Mr. Crepsley," I replied. "I'm sorry." He smiled thinly. The thinness of his smile unsettled me.
"It is not your fault. Now, let us go to the halls; we have not had a decent meal in a while."
Once he said that, my stomach growled. He was right; it has been a while since we had a good dinner. I nodded and followed him; Seba Nile followed us. Mr. Crepsley ran a hand through his orange crop of hair as he sat down to a bowl of soup; at least I hoped it was soup. He paid no attention as he grabbed a spoon and began eating.
"Larten," Seba said, pointing to the bowl.
"That is bat broth." Bat broth? Mr. Crepsley told me his stomach didn't set well with bat broth; what was going to happen? He looked down at the bowl, shrugged, and continued eating despite his hatred for the stuff. "You are still going to eat it?"
"It does not matter," he replied. "My heart is too burden with sorrow to even care about what I am eating." My eyes cast downwards; he was really hurt by this. He brought the spoon to his mouth and stopped halfway through. He began to stare into space. His lip quivering, he dropped the spoon, grabbed a napkin, and dabbed his eyes, which were starting to water. Seba patted his arm. "I am alright. It is nothing…" It was nothing? No, this wasn't nothing. You are pain; why can't you admit it? Mr. Crepsley pushed the bowl away, and rose from his seat. "E-excuse me," he said, leaving the halls, his red cloak swishing behind him. I kept my eyes to the bowl of bat broth in front of me. Suddenly, I did not feel like eating.
"H-he's really torn up about this, isn't he?" I asked Seba.
"Yes," he told me. "It has been a long time since he has seen Arra, and her death… he must feel like he lost part of his life."
My stomach churned; she was a big part of his life… I said nothing else, but ran off to visit Mr. Crepsley. As I went to knock on his door, something horrible entered my ears. I never expected this from him of all people. He was crying; not like in the caverns, but he was weeping loudly. My heart felt heavy at the sounds of his tears. I knocked twice on his door. I heard his footsteps as he walked to the door. He opened it, wiping his eyes.
"Mr. Crepsley?" I asked.
"Hello, Darren," he said as casually as he could. "What brings you here?"
"May I come in?" He stepped aside, and I walked in, sitting on a chair in the corner. There was a big mahogany desk near the chair, and papers were all over it; they only had his name written on it because that was all he could write. Mr. Crepsley sat on his coffin, and I noticed he wasn't wearing his cloak. It was slung over another chair, lying there miserably just like he was.
"What do you need?" He asked; his voice sounded so desolate now. "I am a little busy, so if you do not mind…"
"You're not busy," I pointed out.
"Did you come in here to tell me that?" He asked, glaring at me. His glare softened as more tears filled them. Turning away, he wiped them with a red handkerchief.
"I just can't stand to see you this way," I admitted, kicking my feet slightly. "You seem so depressed and it's depressing me, to tell the truth."
"How do you expect me to act, Darren? I just lost the woman I…" He blushed; he never admitted to me his true feelings, but I had a feeling he was going to now. "…Care about."
"Just 'care?'" I asked, raising my eyebrows. Come on, Mr. Crepsley, there is more to that and you know it. Seba told me, but I need you to admit it yourself.
"What other feelings could I have for her?"
"Love," I said. His face reddened deeper.
"You are a nosy one, are you not?" He smiled. "But, yes, you have figured it out, though I suppose it would not be so hard to figure out. I just lost the woman I love. I feel like everything has been pulled out from under me. I was perfectly content with being away from her if I know she was safe. Using our telepathic skills, I knew where she was at all times, but now, she is nowhere. She is gone, and I never had a chance to readmit my feelings for her after all these years. True, I was sad about leaving, but I knew my love for her would remain. It is just so hard. To lose my best friend and her so close together." Pushing his hair back, he grabbed the cloth again; he was crying so much later. He smiled tenderly at the red fabric. "She gave this to me. A long time ago when we first started mating. I kept it on me all these years, as my only connection back to her. I never expected to come to the council, but I was required to because of my decision to blood you. I was glad I got to see her again, however. Our relationship was not reignited as I hoped it would be, but it was better than nothing, right?" I nodded; I couldn't speak. His sadness hindered my speech. I thought of Debbie and how I had to leave. But, my relationship with Debbie was nowhere has deep as Arra and Mr. Crepsley's. "I wish I could have had more time with her… I wish my nerves did not get in the way of what I truly wanted to say."
"Was there a part of you that didn't want to believe it?" I asked. "Her being dead, I mean."
"Well, of course," Mr. Crepsley said. "I tried to tell myself that she was not dead, and she was only sleeping." He sighed and smiled sheepishly. "I still tell myself that even after seeing the flames surrounding her body. And… it sickens me to think that the Guardians of Blood consumed her organs. That was the part that scared me the most… And her face… She looked so sullen unlike Gavner, whose expression still gives me amusement. I always assumed he would die smiling." He laughed; it was good to hear him laugh.
"It was a huge shock," I said. "Seeing Gavner being killed by Kurda. When I saw that, my heart just shattered. I couldn't believe that a man who was supposed to become a Prince could betray us like that. However, I do believe that Kurda had a good heart as he wanted us to merge back with the Vampaneze, but he went about it the wrong way." I laughed. "Do you know what Gavner told me before he died?" Mr. Crepsley shook his head. I smiled at the memory, and said, "He said '"Sorry if my snoring kept you awake.'"
"Did he really?" Mr. Crepsley chuckled when I nodded. "At least you heard his last words. I would give anything to hear them, and Arra's, for that matter. Her words were so soft." My eyes glanced over at his open coffin; I noticed a green velvet blanket inside it. That was confusing. I would expect Mr. Crepsley to have a red one seeing as how he was obsessed with the color.
"What's that?" I asked, walking over to the coffin and picking it up; I noticed it was very soft and warm. He blushed. "What?"
"I feel so foolish," he said, looking away from me. "I picked that up from Arra's room. Green was her favorite color, and that was her favorite blanket. Oh…" He sighed. "I remember during the cold winter nights on our trek up here one time; we cuddled together using both this blanket and my cloak for warmth." His smile was full of warmth and love as he recalled his precious memory of her. I handed him the blanket, and he took it into his arms, stroking the soft fabric with his fingertips. I could easily see the scars illuminated by the candle on the table. "Vampires do not usually immerse themselves in things such as this. But, I felt I had to keep something that was hers; I figured it would help me remember the days I spent with her, and help ease the pain."
"Is it working?"
"Somewhat. I still am deeply depressed, but it is easing ever so slowly."
"That's good. I mean, it's sad you are depressed, but your pain is slowly disappearing, then that is good."
"I suppose," he said. "However, I do not think I can ever truly be at peace knowing she is done from this world; I do not think I can ever get over her death." He looked at me seriously, putting the blanket over his cloak. "I want to thank you, Darren."
"F-for what?" I asked.
"You avenged her death. I know you killed Glalda before she actually died, but in my eyes, you avenged her." He squeezed my shoulder. "Thank you, Darren. If you had not done it, I would have."
"It's nothing. She didn't deserve death; he did. Come on; let's go to Arra's room."
"Well, maybe there is something else you want to keep before it all gets thrown away." He nodded.
"Sure," he said, coming with me out of his room.
We passed others on our way up there. Many vampires gave Mr. Crepsley their condolences, patting his arm. One female vampire, one of the ones who worked in the kitchens, embraced him as if he were her relative.
"I am sorry," she told him.
"It is not your fault, Marisa," he told her, embracing her back. He broke the hug, thumbing her tears away from her face. "Try not to cry. We must remember that she is Paradise now, along with Gavner." Marisa nodded, and went on her way. Mr. Crepsley was trembling when he came to the door leading to Arra's room. Her door had a sign with "KEEP OUT!" written in red marker. At least, I hoped it was marker and not blood. I put my hand on his shoulder and opened the door.
Arra's room was pretty plain, in my opinion. But Mr. Crepsley looked as though it was the most fascinating room he's ever been in. I smiled and searched around the room for anything he might want to keep. I noticed something glittering on the small nightstand. Picking it up, I realized it was a locket with a green stone lodged in it.
"What's this?" I asked, handing Mr. Crepsley the locket. He put it on his palm, eyes watering. For a moment or two, I expected him to just break down in sobs like he was earlier, but he just gave a tearful smile, and stroked the locket with his index finger.
"This," he said, "is the locket I gave Arra when we first became mates." He grabbed a locket from out of his cloak. It was almost identical save for the stone, which was red instead of green. "She gave me this one. Gavner helped us pick them out. Perhaps… I should keep it. What do you think, Darren?" He turned to me.
"I think you should," I replied, nodding. He nodded, pocketing them both. I went to a large desk that had a small journal with Arra's name written in neat cursive on the front. I picked it up, skimming through the pages; I never knew she could write! I sat down on the chair and read a couple of entries. They dated back so long ago! There was even a journal entry before she was blooded! "Mr. Crepsley," I said.
"Come here." He strode to my side, hovering over me to get a better look at the diary in my hands. "What is that? You I cannot read."
"This is Arra's diary. She's got entries from before she was blooded."
"That long ago?" I nodded. "Hmm…"
"I can read some to you, if you want." I didn't expect him to agree. I felt kind of guilty asking; hearing stuff that came from her mind might bring back the waterworks. I wasn't annoyed with his tears. They just saddened me deeply.
"Why not?" He sat on another chair. "Go ahead." I cleared my throat, starting from when we arrived at the mountain.
"'Today Larten came back. Though I didn't want to tell him, or anyone else for that matter, I was really happy to see him. I still harbor some anger towards the guy, but I'm sure he knows that. He brought some puny kid with him…" Puny?"
"Ha!" Mr. Crepsley laughed. "That is Arra, for you."
"Ha!" I laughed sarcastically. I continued reading, "'…that must have been the one he blooded. I hope everything goes well for the trial, but I never expected Larten to be so irresponsible! You never blood a child! Anyway, that kid, Darren, met with me formally when I was on the bars. He actually came up and fought me! Though he lost, like I knew he would, he still put a pretty decent fight! Damn Kurda tried to convince me not to fight him. But, he ended up gaining my respect, which is very hard to get. That kid is starting to grow on me."' I turned the page to another entry. '"I spent most of time in the gaming Halls, so I didn't see much of Larten until after Darren's trial. He had to go through the Trials of Death. I was scared for him because those trials are really dangerous. I saw Larten and we got kind of flirty…''" Mr. Crepsley blushed slightly. "'During the trials themselves, Darren proved to be a tough vampire. However, things took a turn for the worse when Darren failed one of his trials. I couldn't stomach the idea of him dying on the stakes."' Again, I turned the page. '"As if things couldn't get worse! That dumbass Darren ran away with Kurda! Now, the Princes are going to be angry. And we learned that Gavner was killed. The body was nowhere to be found. Larten, Kurda, a couple of Kurda's guards, and I went out looking for Darren, with no luck. Despite the fact we didn't find him, I was glad to spend a little more time with Larten. Darren actually came back! And he did the thing we least expected of him! He accused Kurda of murdering Gavner and housing tons of Vampaneze in the Mountains! What an accusation! Is it true?"' Turn again. '"It turned out to be true. The Princes and Seba found the Vampaneze hiding out. We couldn't believe it! And Kurda was almost a Prince! That traitor! We had to prepare for battle and Darren came up with a wickedly awesome idea of sending in spiders. Well, I'm off to battle! If I don't make it, I died honorably. One more thing… I left a lot of things unsaid, and I'm not sure if I will get the chance, but just to be safe… I love Larten with all my heart, and I hope he loves me just as much. Even in death, may I be triumphant."' That was the last one." Mr. Crepsley had tears in his eyes; he hastily wiped them away. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," he replied, and this time I knew it was the truth. "Arra, you do not have to hope anything. I do love you as much as you love me… maybe even more." With that, Mr. Crepsley grabbed the journal, her pillow, gently stroked the wood of her coffin, and we left the room. He was still depressed, I could tell, but he seemed to be getting better.