A/N: So, here's the sequel to Complications of Love! I hope you enjoy this one just as much.~ Reading Complications of Love first is vital if you want to understand anything.
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Trials of Love: Chapter One
"Where is she?" Darren hissed, pacing impatiently outside the opening to a cave, Evanna's to be exact. "What if she went on vacation?" The half-vampire suddenly had a vision of Evanna sitting on a sunny beach somewhere, wearing a bikini and sipping a pina colada. He shuddered, waving the disturbing image away. But really, what if-
Feeling a calming hand on his shoulder, Darren turned to see Vancha looking at him with concerned eyes. "I know this must be hard for you, but you need to calm down," the other prince said softly, soothingly. "I'm sure she's not on vacation. You know Evanna, she runs by her own time and her time only. She probably already knows we're here and will be back soon."
Sighing, Darren nodded and leaned against the cave wall, sliding down until he was sitting with his knees drawn up to his chest. He knew Vancha was right, but that didn't stop the young prince from being impatient. It had been a day now since Mr. Tiny's visit to the vampaneze's manor, a day since he had sucked half of Steve's soul away. After a lot of discussing on what to do, Harkat finally suggested they go to see Evanna. The witch (God help you if you called her that), was one of the few people with excessive knowledge on Mr. Tiny and his magic. If there was any possible way out of this, she would know of it. Thus, here Darren was, along with Vancha, Harkat, and that vampaneze, Azar, who came along for some unknown reason. Gannen wished he could come, but thought it best to stay with Steve. The poor guard of the Vampaneze Lord was a wreck.
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"Are you sure these pillows are comfortable enough for our Lord?" Gannen asked, ringing his hands as he eyed the pillows behind Steve's head. The vampaneze who stood with him, Collin, sighed deeply and rubbed his temples. Gannen had been like this ever since what happened yesterday and it was driving everyone crazy.
"I'm sure," Collin replied tiredly, walking toward the door. "They're pillows after all, they're made to be comfortable."
Once Gannen was alone with Steve he sank to his knees beside the coffin, staring down at his Lord. Reaching out, he gently touched Steve's cheek. Cold, so cold and lifeless. If only he could have done something, anything to stop Mr. Tiny...
He slammed his fist hard into the floor. He was supposed to be Steve's protector and he failed! Even though the other vampaneze had tried to tell him it wasn't his fault, it hadn't done anything to convince him. If only... if only he could go back and relive that day again he swore he would have done something to stop that wretched man from harming his lord. If only he had another chance... Sighing heavily, the vampaneze closed his eyes. Everything would be alright again... it just had to be. He had nothing but hope to hold onto.
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"Hello, boys," came a familiar voice came from inside the cave which they all thought to be previously empty. Well, that was Evanna for you. The woman stepped to the front of the cave to greet them, and Darren let out a long sigh of relief upon seeing her. There was a serious, knowing look on her face, one that told them she already knew what happened. The young prince had learned to expect nothing less from her. "Come in." The woman turned, making her way back into the cave.
Silently the two vampires, vampaneze, and Little Person filed into the room, the atmosphere tense. Would she be able to find a way to bring Steve back? That was all Darren could think of as he walked, biting down nervously on his bottom lip.
Once they were all seated on a large, worn couch, Evanna sitting in a chair across from them, the woman sighed heavily. "I know what you're here to ask, but before I answer, someone should explain what happened to me in the greatest amount of detail they can. I wasn't there and only know the basics, so any other information could be very important."
It took a while for Darren to describe everything, and he was extremely glad when he got to the end, the whole thing being rather painful to repeat, even if it was just in words. After he was done, Evanna was silent for a few minutes. Darren watched her, desperately trying to read her face, to see if there was any hope. He couldn't imagine being without Steve again. There must be something that could be done...
"Darren Shan." The half-vampire immediately sprung to attention, eyes hopeful. "I need to know how strong your resolve is. Are you willing to do anything to get Steve back to normal?"
Evanna's eyes met Darren's, locking with them, and Darren found it impossible to look away. He gulped, rubbing his sweaty hands over his jeans in an attempt to dry them.
"Yes," he murmured, voice scratchy. He cleared his throat. "Yes," he repeated, more firmly this time. "I'll do anything because..." A light blush touched his cheeks. "He's my everything. Now that I found him, I don't think I could go back to living without him. And I couldn't bear to see him turn into this monster thing Mr. Tiny said he'll be. That's not Steve! It may be a part of him, but it's also not really him! Only when his soul is whole will it truly be him..." The vampire prince trailed off, aware that he was rambling. "Please," he whispered, staring at Evanna hard. "I'll do anything to save him." He looked down at the ground, holding his breath. He wanted to cross his fingers, but thought that to be too childish.
The witch let out a long sigh, then looked Darren in the eyes again. "Alright, there may be two ways to get Steve's soul back, but neither is easy and definitely not safe." She took a deep breath. "Father has put Steve's soul in an alternative future. Which, I don't know, there are quite a few. If you wish to choose this option, you must search them all until you find it."
Darren's mouth dropped open. He remembered the last future world he went to, how he almost hadn't gotten out of there alive.
"The second," Evanna continued, breaking Darren's train of thought, "Is to defeat Steve once he heals. Not kill him, just defeat him and break the remainder of his soul." The half-vampire's eyes went wide, but Evanna continued. "It's an extremely risky process that, if not done correctly, could result in both your deaths. After that is done, you have more time to return him to normal. Keep in mind that, if you choose the first option, you could run out of time. Time is the key. Time is everything. You don't have to decide this minute, you have a few hours. Besides, if you tried to do either of these things as you are, you would fail pathetically. To do it you need your full strength." Her eyes found Darren's. "You need to be a full vampire."
From next to Darren there was a sound of protest, and he turned to see Vancha frowning at Evanna. "But his time hasn't come yet! You know the consequences of trying to force someone to be a full vampire or vampaneze before they're time! It's-"
"Dangerous, I know," Evanna cut him off. "But Darren has said he's willing to do whatever it takes, and this is the only way. If he doesn't take this chance, he'll die trying to do the other things. It's this or nothing."
Vancha grumbled a bit but was silent, and Darren wondered how exactly becoming a full vampire now was supposed to work. To his relief, Evanna explained it quickly.
"To become a full vampire faster, you will have to speed up the rate in which your vampire cells multiply, all the while slowing down your human cells, eventually killing them and making them disappear all together. Of course, if the timing is just a bit off, all of your cells could perish, causing you to die with them. And even if it works and you become a full vampire, there's always a chance your body could suddenly reject the new vampire cells, as they've grown too fast. A lot of this will depend on you and how strong not just your body is, but your mind as well. To speed up and slow down your cells, I will inject a special liquid into you. How you react to it in the first hour is most important. After that you will have a lower risk of rejection, but it's still significant. That being said, it will be best to get this done as soon as possible. Like I told you before, time is everything. Are you ready, Darren Shan?"
Am I ready? All of this was happening so fast. To become a full vampire meant to completely leave behind the human world, something he had been dreading since Mr. Crepsley had first blooded him. He would never be able to go out in the sunlight again, like humans. He'd have to drink more blood and live strictly as a creature of the night. As a half-vampire, it seemed that he'd had the best of both worlds. Now all that was disappearing. He knew he'd have to become a full vampire someday, but this was so... sudden. Still, if it was the only way to save Steve...
Nodding silently, Evanna got to her feet and went to an unseen room in the back of the cave. This place was larger than Darren had originally thought.
"You're sure about this?" Vancha asked cautiously. He looked tired, worn, Darren observed, and he realized this whole thing must be taking its toll on the older prince as well. He'd already lost Paris and Mr. Crepsley, two of his dearest friends, and he didn't want to lose a third.
Nodding slowly, he reached out, touching Vancha's shoulder. "Yes. It's the only way." Vancha seemed to accept that and nodded as well, sinking back against the couch.
A few minutes later Evanna walked out, a vile in her hand. It was filled almost to the brim with a red liquid that looked a lot like blood. Standing slowly, Darren took a deep breath and walked to her. She rolled up the sleeve of his shirt and he couldn't help but squeeze his eyes closed, digging his nails into the palms of his hands. He'd never been good with needles. He remembered one time, as a child, he'd fainted after getting a flu shot at the doctor. He shivered, sincerely hoping to not repeat that episode.
The pinch of the needle wasn't that bad, but the liquid rapidly flowing into him made him feel as if his arm was on fire. Darren gritted his teeth, biting down on his bottom lip so hard it started to bleed. A few seconds later the vile was empty and the half-vampire had collapsed on the floor, clutching his arm. "Is it... supposed to feel this way?"
Evanna nodded. "Just wait until it gets to your chest. That's when your cells will start dying and increasing more rapidly, and also when the increased risk of rejection will begin." A shiver ran down Darren's spine and he closed his eyes, trying to relax. This was going to be a looooong few hours.
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A/N: I hope you enjoyed the first chapter, I'd love to hear what you think ^^ Next chapter we'll see more of the vampaneze... I do believe we left Clyde and Mika still in the basement...