Qs: so last chapter we had a bit of bonding, as well as finally clearing some things up for, hopefully, both you and our paranormal friends. (If you still have questions, even if you don't have an account, please ask) Vlad and Sam are on the hunt, we'll get to check in with them soon, so don't freak out; I will answer those awesome questions directed at them. But what you're really after is the cliffy where crazy, Vampeneze Murlough shows up, huh?

A/N: I'm sorry for the delay in updates; I've been a combination of sick and lazy lately. So sorry! But I also didn't want to saddle you with a pitiful a terribly short chapter that no one should be satisfied. Alas, I'm still sick so I'm not sure how good this chapter is.

CW: so without further ado, I give thee

Both: chapter 24!

Chapter 24:

"Murlough." Larten acknowledged, the smile on his face now wiped completely from his face, leaving an expression Danny couldn't read, and bit because the sun had begun to set and leech away the daylight from the earth. Actually, the hybrid could see quite well considering.

Judging only by Larten's tone and visage, Danny could tell the two weren't friends, but they weren't complete enemies either. It seemed almost as if they respected one another, if only grudgingly.

The boy turned his gaze to the edge of the clearing to study the newcomer, shocked by what he saw. There, a man in a long dark trench coat stood with a girl in an equally dark trench coat. The man's skin, of what little there was visible, was a dark shade of purple, highlighting the whites of his eyes and further accentuated the blood red of his eyes, nails, and even his long hair. He looked as if he had been bathing in blood for months!

The girl was only slightly better, but not by much. She appeared to be in her late teens, early twenties at the most. Her long hair and narrowed eyes were a perplexing mix of brown and red that didn't clash together. Somehow, they seemed to complement her soft face, as if this was what she had been born to look like, and the more red she would gain, the truer her form would be. Her slight frame looked buried in the trench coat, but just by the way she swayed back and forth, you could see she held hidden power in her thin limbs.

"Um…Mr. Crepsley?" Danny whispered, but the vampire ignored him.

"What brings you here, Murlough?" Larten questioned, unease now playing faintly in his voice.

"Murlough can't visit?" The man asked, feigning hurt, "Not nice, not nice at all. Especially when we both have new friends. My friend wants to play with him; you wouldn't deny her that would you?"

Larten tensed, the wording may have been juvenile, but it did not take a genius to recognize when a challenge was being served. And once a challenge was issued, you could not refuse. Not without a consequence very well worse than death. Larten shuddered at the thought of his options. 1-He could allow his freshly blooded half-vampire to accept the challenge, or 2- abandon him to his own luck in the world of the humans. To some, the second option would seem preferable, and even harmless, but to release a new-blood would mean causing unneeded deaths. The boy wouldn't be able to control his thirst, and would therefore kill recklessly. On his own, he would be hunted down and surely executed. And yet... Crepsley was unsure if the boy could survive a duel. He had held his own against those two ghosts, but only by a spider thread. As resilient as Danny seemed to be, it was unlikely he would survive an encounter with a half-vampeneze, as the girl clearly was (1).

"What's he talking about?" Danny asked, "And why is he talking in third person?"

"She wants to challenge you." Larten responded, never letting his eyes stray from the two killers at the edge of the clearing. "Usually, they are only extended to full vampires and full vampeneze, but it is not uncommon for half-vampires and half-vampires to duel as well."

"A duel?" Danny questioned, "Like, a spar or something?"

"No," The older man looked gravely down at his charge. "A fight, a duel, to the death."

"What?" Danny took a step back in disbelief. "She's just a kid! I'm just a kid! I may have done some bad things in my life, but I'm no killer."

"Murlough's sorry, little one," Murlough snickered, "But if you don't, Zaria will kill you dead."

Danny's eyes were as wide as dinner plates. He couldn't kill anyone, and he certainly wouldn't fight a girl! But…if she was going to kill him…He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply, and when he opened them again, his eyes blazed bright green. Something about the expression on Larten's face told him it would not be wise to decline the challenge, as if he had personally done so or, more likely since he was alive and well now, had witnessed what would happen if he didn't comply. If it was enough to give the man that expression, he didn't want to know what it was.

He stopped in the middle of the clearing, shoulders squared, head raised in defiance. "I accept your challenge." He looked strong, green eyes glowing so bright that they cut through the approaching darkness. Looking at him, Larten couldn't help but feel a twinge of pride in the young boy he had barely come to know. He hadn't even told the boy all the details yet, and he already could sense the severity of the situation and was stepping up to the plate to do something about it.

The girl, Zaria, stepped away from her master to meet Danny in the center of the clearing. "Before I kill you," The girls voice, soft and lilting, was as if she were talking about going to the store, "Can you tell me your name?"

"Danny," The white haired boy extended a hand, still polite even when facing an opponent.

Zaria looked at the hand, took it in a firm handshake, and then smirked. "You are a strange one, Danny." With a mighty yell from out of the blue, the small girl tightened her grip on the boy's hand and swung him over her shoulder so that he was now on his back on the ground.

"But very naïve," She giggled like an innocent school girl, hand covering her mouth, and jumped away slightly, just out of range.

Danny groaned as he lifted himself from the floor, glaring at the girl. His eyes flicked over to Larten off to the side, and was annoyed to see the amused look that crinkled the scar on his smug face. But behind that, he caught something else. He couldn't say exactly how he knew, but something about the way his head shook slightly, an act that could be interpreted to be with his amusement, said 'don't reveal yourself. Keep your cards close to your vest.'

He got the message loud and clear, but that didn't mean Danny liked it. If he couldn't use his powers, how was he supposed to win this fight? "You don't play around, do you?" He squinted his eyes as he gazed up at the girls upside down, to him, form.

"Now why would I do that?" Zaria asked innocently. "Are you going to begin fighting soon? I can tell you're holding back, and it won't be half as fun to kill you if you don't stop that."

Danny scooted away from the girl, and then thrust himself into a standing position. He raised his hands in a complacent manner. "Can't we just have a friendly match? We barely know each other; shouldn't we have a date before we try to kill one another?"

"You talk too much." Zaria growled out in annoyance, clearly her patience was wearing thin. She let out a howl along with a flurry of punches and kicks at super human speeds; it was all Danny could do just to block the maelstrom of limbs.

From that point on, Danny decided that talking wasn't going to get him out of this situation, and quickly abandoned it. Zaria was right; he did tend to talk too much, mostly to himself. As he was doing now.

He was flung backwards into a tree trunk, payment for his split attention no doubt. He groaned, feeling every one of his nearly completely healed injuries from the train ache as they jostled or, in the case of his poor abused ribs, broke again. He had to step up his game if he didn't want to be killed. But that would be difficult; already just from trying to get back onto his feet, he could feel his broken ribs poking into his lungs and threatening to puncture. Not good. He lifted his gaze up to see the Vampeneze girl scoffing at him, as if he weren't even worth the grass under her feet.

"I expected more from an assistant of the great Larten Crepsley, new blood or not. Disgraceful really."

Danny bristled at her words, but not at the insult. It was what she had called him. An assistant. Even within his own mind, the word hissed out like water over hot coals. To him, the word was no different than slave, which he certainly was not, and never would be again. Ignoring the pain in his chest, he squared his shoulders and got ready for another round, eyes blazing green. A daring smirk tugged at his lips, and tauntingly, he curled his fingers in and out, the universal sign for 'come and get me'.

Zaria took the challenge with a smirk of her own. "And so, the real fight begins."

(Line break)

Sam slipped her thin arms through the straps of her backpack. It was a large one, not her usual fuzzy spider as she usually wore, but this was a time that she needed the extra space. Within the bag, she had some clothes, water, and a few dozen granola bars and other assorted nonperishable items. She was ready to embark on her journey, and her goal would be reached. With her mouth set into a determined line, she left the extravagant room within the Masters mansion and crept into the hallway.

She hadn't told the owner of the mansion of her plans to leave, and she wanted to keep him in the dark of her departure for as long as she could. Knowing him, he would either talk her into staying, or try and come with her, both routes she didn't want. It was bad enough that she had to lie to Jazz and Tucker, but Vlad was impossible to fool. Despite how she had once felt about the man, they had become close in a friendly sense, and he would no doubt sense her lies from a mile away. No, the only way to avoid such a situation was to leave in silence and hope that she was not eventually followed.

"And where do you think you are going at this hour?" Vlad said in a smug voice, arms crossed as he blocked her from progressing down the hallway any further. He was dressed in different attire than usual, more comfortable and somehow looked more durable.

Sam nearly groaned, it looked like he was planning on coming with her after all. "I have to find Danny; it's been too long already. I have a new lead, and I'm going to follow it." She shouldered her pack and prepared to push past the man if he didn't budge, but she was only greeted with a chuckle, a very annoying chuckle. "You don't think I can do this on my own? Well I can, and I will!"

"No, you won't." He turned around, aggravating the girl even further. He walked calmly over to a column similar to those found in ancient Rome and reached behind it, pulling out a pack of his own. "I am coming with you, whether you like it or not."

Sam grumbled, but there was no way she was going to convince the man to let her go alone. At least he had taught her that much in her time here. She sighed, "Fine! But you better not slow me down old man."

Vlad watched as she shouldered past him, not even bothering to check if he was coming after her or not. "Wouldn't dream of it, Samantha." He whispered.

A/N: 1)I don't know if there really are such things as half-vampeneze, but it would make sense wouldn't it?

Well that took forever for me to finish! I hope that was a good enough chapter for yall, cuz I seriously worked my butt off for it! I'm going to go sleep for a week now…

By the way, I've started getting into the fullmetal alchemist fandom, anyone interested in work from me for that?

Thanks to: Phantom Trainer, NedFynTanon (X2), snakeofdreams, harrypottercankissmyarse, Phyllis Joy Wolfe, Kaybay1158, The Dp Fangurl, cocoa85715, book phan44, ChopSuzi, Kay Hau, Paris Phantom, xxToushirou, Dreams2Paper11, shugokage, jeanette9a, seantriana!

Lalala: his fast healing made it better, remember?

Atp: Oh no! He's missing! Nah, he's just not in the picture yet. He might come in, but I'm not sure, ok? I hope it's not a 'stop reading' reason

Midnight: sorry for the lateness! WB is killer

Wow… 20+ reviews for one chapter! That's amazing! Come on guys, I'm almost to three hundred reviews! Who knew? Omg, you are all awesome!

And I can't remember if I said this before, but xxtouchirou won for the 250th review, but she didn't want anything so you should give her something for me! Like reading or reviewing or something…yeah, that sounds good!