Renly puts me in a beautiful royal blue dress that looks like it was fashioned from stars. And, being that I'm a bit taller than most people here, it's a little short. A few inches above my knees. I can't help but feel self-conscious. Renly laughs at the blush in my cheeks.

"Are you sure I have to wear this?"

"It's appropriate attire for meals if that's what you mean. You look beautiful Tristan."

"I feel so…overdressed." She shakes her head, and has me sit back down in front of the vanity mirror.

"I remember when Mina told me she was expecting. Who knew two vampires could reproduce! But she was so happy. Asked me to be your nanny, so to speak." She combs my hair as she speaks, and it's so soothing I find myself getting sleepy.

"Why didn't they just tell me?"

"I believe it was to protect you. In the town you grew up in, who would've believed that your parents were undead members of a League that silently protects the earth?"

"No one." I scoff.

"But you would still tell people, end up in a mental home, and not know why. So, they decided to wait until you could handle it, and then tell you. But fate had other plans and now here you are."

"Just as confused as Harry Potter was going to Hogwarts." I mutter. She gives me a look that says she has no idea the reference I'm using. "Just really confused."

"Ah." A bell rings in the distance, and she smiles. "That's the dinner ring. You look lovely my dear. You'll simply stun Malco." I want to ask who Malco is, but I have a feeling I'll find out soon enough. And I also get this weird feeling he's the palm reading ruler of Ver Isgar that Renly mentioned. She finishes combing my hair and escorts me out of my room. The ground inside the palace is a lush dense green grass, so I'm not wearing shoes. And with my hair long and flowing, plus the stunning yet wild dress, I feel a bit like a faeri. The kind my mum used to read about when she gave me a bedtime story.

The palace is absolutely stunning. The walls are pure gold, with silver inlay. There are silver roses and silver cherubs. I could spend hours just walking around this castle, but Renly is rushing me towards the dining room. When we arrive, she pats my hand and opens the door. Mom and dad are already seated, but dad gets up when I walk in. everyone in the league is already here, but Alex and Craig are still standing. Dad escorts me to my seat, between mom and Nemo. My attention is drawn to a richly dressed man who sits at the head of the table. Unlike his subjects, this obvious ruler is very tall, and abnormally handsome.

"Miss Tristan, king Malco." Nemo introduces.

"But you may call me Mal." The king says with a wink.

"Mal and I have been friends for a very long time. He's a brilliant scientist and has aided our exploits many times." Nemo continues.

"You're making me blush captain." Mal says sarcastically.

"Aren't you young to be a king?" the question tumbles out of me before I can process whether it's appropriate or not. Mom looks at me in shock, but Mal laughs.

"Well I like a girl who speaks what she thinks. In truth, I'm over nine centuries old. But, like your friend Marie, haven't aged in a very long time."


"It is simply the way of my blood. My parents were twenty for a very long time, almost a century each. And then we die."

"That is really weird." I sigh. He smiles again.

"I imagine it must be strange to one who's never been in contact with such things. But you'll get used to strange things soon enough. Especially if you run with this crew." He nods towards the members of the league, all spread out along the table.

"Not for a while she's not running with us. Once Dorian is back in his portrait, only then will she be really safe. Until then you're under house arrest." Dad frowns.

"House arrest?" I ask with raised eyebrows.

"We're leaving you in Mal care while we travel to the monks at Dephni. Hopefully they can give use a way to get rid of Dorian quickly." Mom says to rescue him. "You'll be fine Tristan. You have Anya and Alex to keep you company. And I think Alyss, Craig, Roe, and Vict are staying too. Though they'll probably be busy." I'm really glad no one mentions the blush in my cheeks when mom says Alex. He's staying here with me?

"And we tend to have some pretty interesting moment here on Ver Isgar. I'm sure you'll pick up a few good fighting classes and history lessons." Mal explains.

"I need them." I murmur.

"Well last time I checked, Dorian is still using swords." Dad frowns.

"Fencing it is." Mal jokes. Mom rolls her eyes and takes my hand.

"You know we would not leave you alone if it wasn't for the best Tristan. But this is really the best place for you. So many really powerful and important things are hidden here." She explains.

"I know and I'm sure it's for the best and all that…but I'm still uncomfortable about the whole you guys putting your lives on the line for me just so Dorian doesn't get laid with another member of this family." Everyone at the table falls silent and looks at me. A blush blooms in my cheeks as I try to think why in the world I said that. Suddenly Mal starts laughing. He's joined by Vict and Roe makes a sign that he's laughing too. Soon everyone is laughing, yet I'm still blushing with embarrassment. Poor mom. I know she doesn't want to be reminded of her and Dorian.

"Oh yes, you're one unique girl." Mal smiles. "If you will all excuse me, I have matters to attend to. I hope to see the League members off in the morning but if I don't, good luck friends." He nods to Nemo and the door opens for him as he leaves.

"You're leaving tomorrow morning? So soon?"

"The sooner the better Tristan. If we are going to get rid of Dorian we have to do it while he's still vulnerable to his portrait. No doubt he has it wrapped up in his hide out under lock and key. But once he finds a way to seal it he will and then we won't know how to put the bastard down." Dad sighs.

"I just…well I was starting to feel like maybe you wouldn't have to go. That maybe Dorian's already moved on. After all, the Nautilus was never attacked and everyone's still in one piece so…"

"But who knows how long it will last. Our goal in this mission is to stop him before he stops the lives of others." Nemo says sternly.

"We won't be gone long. If we cannot find the answer at Dephni than we will return here to strategize with Mal." Mom assures me.

"I'm going to go to sleep." I sigh at length.

"I'll walk you to your room." Alex volunteers. As he holds the door for me, I can hardly feel the butterflies in my stomach. I'm too busy wondering about Dorian and my mom and dad. What if something bad happens to them at Dephni or they can't stop Dorian. What will happen?