Xavier had called me in a panic stuttering things about Nikolas, and then begging me to come to Ridgevalley to help.
I’m still unsure of what happened, but if my son asked me to come, knowing I’m watching the girl, it must be important.
She’s gotten better at controlling herself now that we’ve discovered a temporary alternative. Thanks to it, she willingly goes outside on her own now.
Every day I have her take some energy from the plant life around my house. Particularly from the weeds sprouting up now that spring is here. It barely offers anything at all, but it seems to help for now. At times we head out into the hills where the bigger trees are.
That’s why I feel comfortable leaving her alone here. I stuck her on my biggest tree and told her to take from it, if she ever felt the urge coming. I shouldn’t be gone that long.
She wasn’t happy that I left. She called me stupid and a fool. Nothing different from her day to day talking.
“Come back quickly.”
She’s still angry that I haven’t killed her yet.
When I reached my son’s house, he didn’t waste any time. He dragged my grandson and I into the same room.
Along with the dog apparently. I forgot they’d gotten a dog.
“We have a situation.” Xavier said as his son, Nikolas, sighed. “A being is possessing him.”
“He calls himself Oscar.” My grandson clarified.
The dog sat stiffly beside Nikolas, staring straight ahead. Its brain was as impossible to decipher as any other animal I’ve encountered.
As if sensing my mind grazing his, the dog looked up at me suddenly, cocking its head to the side.
Xavier touched my arm. “It reminds me of Catarina’s situation. Can you do something? Can you sense anything?”
Well first off, I hadn’t sensed anything with any kind of ill intention when I came in. I had however, sensed an extra mind.
The boy definitely had something else in his brain. How he managed that, I have no idea. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel complete enough to be an actual other person. There’s no doubt that it’s there however, and that it’s active.
I tried to see if I could get a grasp on it as Nikolas narrowed his eyes at me.
“You’re digging through my mind?” He asked.
“You know about your grandfather Nikolas. He’s a specialist at this.” Xavier said.
“Well if you find anything incriminating, don’t tell my dad. He’s already pissed enough as it is.” My grandson laughed dryly.
I glanced at Xavier with an amused smirk. He didn’t look amused however.
“I advised him not to do something and he did it anyway. Which resulted in this mess.” Xav explained with an exasperated sigh.
“Mess? Nothing happened really.” Nikolas shrugged. “All Oscar did was run away from dad when he started yelling at him in pajamas.”
“I thought it was yo-” Xavier cut himself off mid phrase as his temper rose.
“Please take this seriously you two.” Xavier snapped, as he noticed both Nikolas and I were smirking. I hadn’t even realized I was smiling. The boy had worded it in an amusing way.
“I am taking this seriously. If it helps, I know he’s linked to the tattoo on my neck.” Nikolas said, turning around to give us a view.
“So? What’s your diagnostic?” Xavier asked.
I spread my arms out at my grandson who, after a few seconds, nodded. “Oh uh yeah, go ahead.” I concentrated on his mind again and grasped Oscar. It was like trying to catch a fish already hooked on another line.
“Can you get rid of it?” Xavier asked. Kill it, of course, is what he meant. I’m sure I could. Even if it’s link to the tattoo is a bit of an obstacle.
“Wait!” Nikolas exclaimed. “I mean, there has to be another solution right? We don’t need to go so drastic.”
“Do you enjoy having to share your mind?” Xavier asked.
“Obviously not, but…he means well.” The boy added. “Can’t we put him in something else? Or something?”
I glanced at my son. It’s what we had done for the Time Keeper. The spell needed here would be much more complex, but not impossible. The fact that this didn’t feel like a real person, however, bugged me.
Xavier shook his head and opened his mouth to speak, but Nikolas cut him off.
“Either way! That tattoo is supposed to fade and he’ll probably fade along with it right? So I just need a temporary solution.”
“How did this even happen Niko? Who put this tattoo on you?” Xavier demanded. There was a slight pause and I caught Xavier giving me a quick sideways glance.
Is he expecting me to help him pull answers from his boy? I crossed my arms. I’m not going to interfere in whatever’s going on between these two.
“I don’t think the tattoo’s the source here.” Nikolas said, his eyebrows coming together as he thought out loud. “Others have some too without the same problem I do. Actually I was thinking along the lines of something else. You see I met this lady-”
“Nikolas stop stalling.” Xavier snapped.
I gave my son a look, but he was busy sharing unhappy stares with his own son.
“We shouldn’t jump to hasty conclusions.” Nikolas replied calmly.
From what Xavier’s been telling me, his son is a hot head. I was expecting some more extreme reactions like Edmund used to show when they were kids. Instead Xavier seems to be losing his temper a lot quicker than the presumed hot head.
I’ve never really had a chance to know my grandchildren. The situation didn’t favor a lot of visits on my part.
I wish Xavier hadn’t cut his son off short, it sounded like he was going to say something useful.
“It’s to prevent anything bad from happening Nikolas. This family has suffered enough lately. Edmund doesn’t need more things to stress him out. If we can deal with this quickly and efficiently, it’s only beneficial.” Xavier looked at me. “Please?”
“No come on, this isn’t fair. He didn’t ask for this anymore than I did.” Nikolas pleaded. He frowned then, holding his temple. “No wait, shit, Oscar…” Then, in a split second, the boy’s whole attitude changed.
“Don’t kill me!” He exclaimed, backing up. “I have the right to live too! I knew I shouldn’t have come back, this was a bad idea!” He pointed angrily Xavier. “You’re just angry because I said I didn’t like you and now you’re going to have me executed?”
For someone who doesn’t feel completely real, this Oscar sure has a lot of spirit.
“James!” Xavier said in a worried voice, his hands already sparking with magic.
Pressing my mouth in a firm line, I focused on Nikolas and helped him regain control of his body.
“See!” Xavier exclaimed as he relaxed. “It takes him over whenever it feels like it.”
“Dad he just got scared because-” Nikolas began.
“It’s unpredictable and that makes it a threat Niko.” Xavier snapped.
‘Clearly not killing him is important to your son.’ I signed at Xavier. ‘With a spell you could reattach him to something else, like an object.’ The spell would essentially be the same as the one used for Catarina. Xavier would just have to tweak it for Nikolas’ situation.
I’m sure he could’ve come up with this on his own. The situation wasn’t particularly difficult to read with what Nikolas shared. Xavier had made it sound like a life or death emergency when he’d called me.
I can sense how stressed Xavier is. He’s still as tense as when he came to my house when he was causing Edmund’s health to deteriorate. It clearly affected him a lot more than he let on.
Xavier held his chin. “Yeah, yeah I guess so.”
Nikolas looked between the two of us. “Care to fill me in?”
“I’m going to cast a spell, and you’re going to help me.” Xavier explained.
“Ah good.” Nikolas relaxed. “I knew you had to have a spell for this- wait? Help you?”
Xavier’s phone rang. “I just need to take this I won’t be long.” He said, moving away into the kitchen, leaving me with my grandson.
Nikolas rubbed the back of his head. “Thank you for convincing dad, and for helping me. I’m not strong enough to win against Oscar. That’s making him sound bad- not that I approve of his actions. It’s not that I don’t want him out of my head, just killing seemed unnecessary. Sorry you had to come all the way over here. Dad always tells us about how busy you are.” The boy ranted off avoiding my eyes as he balanced on his heels. I could tell my presence was unsettling. It’s a reaction I usually get from everyone.
Busy though? I’m not that busy that I can’t come help my grandson if he needs it. I spend too much time doing nothing to be busy.
‘It’s fine’ I signed at him, slightly amused. I kept it simple and obvious. Xavier never taught his children sign language.
Nikolas smirked as he understood what I meant, but he tried to cover it up. He petted his dog as we waited for Xavier to finish his phone call.
I’m tempted to try and make small talk, get to know my grandson a little better, but having a full conversation by text on my phone is a bit of a hassle.
Still…I took out my phone, now relatively certain Xavier hadn’t given my phone number to his kids. I opened up a text document and typed in my phone number, along with a note letting Nikolas know he could call or text me whenever he needed my help.
“Oh! Thanks, I’ll just get a piece of paper…”
When my son came back from his phone call he was eager to kick me out. Not that he explicitly said so, but it was pretty clear with his sharp and clean thank yous and goodbyes that this visit hadn’t yielded the result he’d hoped for.
I could’ve headed straight home, but I felt a quick stop was in order. Kevil was still in Ridgevalley investigating. I’d honestly expected him to be done by now, it’s been months since I sent him off, but he apparently found something worth looking into. The information he gives me is sparse on the subject though. It’s like he forgets to keep me updated.
I found Kevil hiding from the sun in a local bar. It was still too early for it to really be busy. He’d wedged his sword inside his chair, and he was leaning on the table, deep in thought.
The sight of his sword, or of now two vampires in her bar, didn’t seem to make the bartender uncomfortable.
I walked over, and didn’t have to sit down as Kevil grabbed his sword and jumped to his feet. “James!? What are you doing here?”
I pulled out my phone. ‘Xavier needed my help. Checking up on you.’
“But what about her? Did you leave her alone in Stonebridge?! James she could-”
‘She’s fine. Don’t worry.’
Kevil shook his head. “You’re not taking this seriously enough.”
‘I am.’ I insisted. At that, he calmed down. ‘What did you find?’
“I’m looking into an organization called the Dragons. They’re referred to as neutral on a supernatural standpoint. It’s weird, a lot of things bring me back to them. Including the name Assaria. It would seem they’re kind of an investigative group? I hear they’ve stepped into several low key conflicts between supernaturals and naturals, without taking a side. It sounds like they know a lot. I’m trying to find a way in.” Kevil said.
‘Anything on tattoos? Magical tattoos?’ I found myself asking.
“Yeah a few. Mostly about kids randomly showing up with some. Nothing concrete, I can look into it.” Kevil said. Or I could look into it. I haven’t done a wide search like this in years and I don’t want to start butting in without clearly being asked to, but…
An incoming text snapped me out of my searching. Xavier had texted me, thanking me for coming over and trying again. Trying. Yes, killing it would’ve been a lot simpler, but it doesn’t mean it was the best one.
“I said I would look into it.” Kevil said as I went to continue my scan. “You have to head back to Stonebridge. Not just for her.”
“Sure it’s been a few decades, but nobody’s forgotten you. Ridgevalley’s on the fence right now with its supernatural standing. Your presence is going to tilt the scale if you’re here for longer than necessary.” Kevil said.
I shrugged. Alright then. ‘Text me.’
“I do.” Kevil said.
‘More.’ I insisted.
He sighed. “Ok, ok sorry.”
No one’s POV
In the hidden network of an underground self-proclaimed neutral organization, one of the heads had received an alert.
One of Skyla Verdante’s protégées had spotted a notable figure in town and had had the intelligence to capture evidence and send it to her.
The video wasn’t very long, naturally, any longer and the targeted vampire would’ve noticed something for sure. Its sole purpose was to serve as proof. His was one of the faces everyone in this organization knew well. James Whitelight. His presence inspired a lot of fear, even in people who didn’t know his entire background.
Skyla’s role in this organization was mostly centered on the grand scheme of things concerning supernaturals and naturals. It was her job to know in great detail every single war that had occurred or almost had. She was one of the more political of the group, dealing with authority problems and the town’s neutrality. The supernatural assaults were her expertise. After the school bombing, Skyla had managed to help tone things down. Nothing as drastic had occurred since. But a presence like James Whitelight was sure to agitate the anti-supernaturals. Her eyes on the street were keeping her updated on his movements and he seemed to be leaving town. Good.
Still if her people had spotted him, it was sure others had as well.
There wasn’t much to gain from the video. The vampire was having a conversation, but the words couldn’t be understood. The person he was having a conversation with, however, held an importance for someone else in the Dragons.
“Arahelel.” Skyla said, turning as one of Terrance’s disciples rounded the corner. She was one of the group’s newer recruits, but she was faring extremely well. Much to the despair of Skyla’s own daughter, who was being downright spoiled on the subject. “Can you please go and fetch Annie? I’ve got her man up on my screen.”
“Righteo.” The teen said, doubling back.
Annie’s specialization was much more focused on the abstract concept of White-eyeds. Because of this, she had less people working for her than the other three Dragons. Most of the recruits, if not all, had never even heard about white-eyeds.
Annie hadn’t joined the organization to have a grand following however. She needed the resources to find the last living white-eyed, the apparent last link to the supernaturals’ survival. Knowledge that was extremely uncommon. By some miracle he had shown up in Ridgevalley a few months ago.
She hadn’t been certain. There was only one time someone had spotted him with white-eyes. All the other times they were brown. Plus he was a vampire. From the little knowledge she found in articles and books, white-eyes were not supposed to be supernaturals. But he fit the description.
And now he was found speaking to James Whitelight.
“It’s him alright.” Annie grinned.
“It’s kind of hard to mistake with a sword like that.” Skyla smirked.
“Hey now, I saw him first.”
Skyla stuck her tongue out.
“Gossiping are we?” Assaria Clavez walked into the area, back from another of her ‘diplomatic’ missions. Though the four dragons were theoretically equals, being the founder of the group gave her unofficially the title of ‘Big Boss’. Her tasks usually centered around keeping the group up and active, getting sponsors and people on their side, while at the same time making sure they kept their presence relatively low.
“James Whitelight was spotted in town. Leaving Xavier Whitelight’s house.” Skyla explained. “Which, since you’re here, it would seem the boy you were following lives there. They think it was him. Whether he lives there or not is unclear, but he was there talking to James.”
“And now James went and talked to my possible white-eyed.” Annie added.
“It’s a triple crossover tonight.” Skyla snorted.
Assaria walked up to the screen slowly, gazing up at the repeated video. She’d never seen this James Whitelight, the one Skyla had put on their be careful list. The sight of him, however, sent an intense incomprehensible wave of fury pass through her. It gripped her mind tightly until all she could see was the blurry blue of his jeans and jacket.
“Where is this house?” Assaria asked, smoothing out her dress.
Annie exchanged a glance with Skyla. “You mean the house of the most powerful witch in this town, no in the world?” Annie clarified, trying to convey a warning.
“Son of a powerful witch. Grandson of a feared vampire. This boy gets more and more interesting.” Assaria bit her thumb. “Yes. That house.”
“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s a bad idea Assaria.” Annie said.
“As long as you come along we’ll be fine Annie.” Assaria sharply added.
“What are you planning to do?” Annie asked. If Assaria needed her to come along, it meant she knew things might go sideways.
“I need answers.” Assaria snapped, her head held up high.
“Get Terrance to lend us two of his boys. We’re leaving this evening.” Assaria said as she left to get changed.
“Skyla…” Annie muttered.
“I’m sure it’s nothing bad. She’s been wanting to talk to that kid about her past for months.” Skyla shrugged.
“She wants me to come along.” Annie added. “This can’t be good.”
“If it finally gets her to stop obsessing over this, it’s a good thing.” Skyla said.
She shut off the monitor.