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Bleeding Misery [PUBLISHED PREVIEW]

Summary

This is the second novel in the Threatening Souls series.

A world of light overpowers a world of darkness.

The ICW—it stands for the International Clique Wars. It is being hosted by Jason Speirs this year, and Eternal Division has been accepted to participate.

Rebekah Jensen had returned to Marywood after just surviving the curse of Roseway along with Holly, her witchy best friend. Except for her and a few others, everyone else's memory of Roseway had been wiped, convincing her that she can now live a normal life. But Holly informs her that things are far from being over and that she will not only be hunted by Rebecca Johnson, the name of her supposed true soul, but by Henri Anderson as well.

Rebekah's situation worsens when the gruesome bodies of a few clique participants are found. To make matters worse, the deaths are happening the same way as the many deaths in Mandy's self-published novel, Bleeding Misery. With the threat of the Bewitched lurking within the ICW halls, Rebekah starts to fear that the events in Mandy's horror novel are becoming reality.

Prologue

Anger.

In many ways, that emotion was the easiest to feel, the easiest to experience. It is the one emotion that can easily make one lose their sense of self, which makes it particularly dangerous to the unnatural forces of immortality.

Henri Anderson was angry. The uncontrollable rage that traveled up his veins was nearly impossible to quell, shaking his immortal body to its core. He knew he needed to control it, knew that he needed to rid his body of it if he wished to be at his strongest.

For days, he locked himself in his chamber, allowing for no one to interrupt him as he battled with the anger he felt at the loss of Roseway. For days, he tried to destroy the feeling, but to no avail. He was at a loss for words, at a loss of how the mortals were finally able to defeat his control over the suburb.

But then, he gained knowledge of her. And just like that, the anger vanished.

The mortals had found a Foreseer, and they had used her to their advantage. Henri didn’t just know of her, but he knew what she looked like too, thanks to Melissa and her strong presence in Marywood. Thus, Henri began to devise a new plan, starting with the Foreseer. In his mind, he conjured up an image of her and began to recite a simple verse in both English and French:

 

“She can see the future, I know.

Now, her visions will not show.

She will not be surprised

Of Rebecca and her rise.

 

Elle peut voir l'avenir, je sais.

Maintenant ses visions ne montreront pas.

Elle ne sera pas surprise

De Rebecca et de son augmentation.”

 

The ICW was only mere weeks away, and for the first time since the mortals had taken Roseway from him, Henri felt victorious, ready. Thus, the war between mortals and immortals had officially begun.

Chapter One

Rebekah was drowning.

The walls of the house at the end of the street started to collapse as more blood seeped through the crevices. Swimming in the pools of the murky depths were decaying bodies of the past victims, eyes full of sorrow and mouths agape. Everywhere she swam, her hands brushed over the cold limbs of the bodies, making it impossible for her to stay afloat. Merciless waves of blood washed over her and forced her to sink downward.

Her burning lungs forced her to inhale, and she began to choke on the blood as gallons of the liquid rushed down her throat, seeming relentless. Yet, she found herself unable to mutter a single scream. Unconsciousness began to take over, and she slowly sunk deeper into a never-ending coma…

The sound of an alarm went off, pulling her out of her dream and back into reality. Quickly, she breathed a heavy sigh as another Roseway-induced nightmare had passed. Checking the date on her digital alarm clock, she realized that it was the fourth of November, and just last week, she was battling the suburb.

Due to the fact that her parents made the decision to move to Roseway, the house in Marywood that they had previously owned was lost. On such short notice, it was impossible to buy another house, so they had to settle on a shabby two-bedroom apartment, of which Rebekah and her two brothers took up the supposed master bedroom, and her parents settled on the smaller of the two bedrooms. This was simply because, since there were three of them, they needed more space.

Both of her brothers’ beds were empty, already up before her and eager to get started on their senior year of high school. She, on the other hand, was returning to her previous school for her eighth grade, and slowly, she left her bed, throwing a random outfit together—one that was purchased a couple of days ago, since all of her previous belongings in Roseway were unable to be retrieved.

After taking a quick shower, she threw on a pair of jeans and a plain black t-shirt and walked a couple of paces, where the small apartment merged into the living and dining area. Glancing around quickly, she saw no sign of any of her brothers; however, both of her parents were in the kitchen, quietly chatting before they had to go to work. She silently approached them, catching pieces of their conversation.

“I can’t believe that we were evicted,” her mother, Katie, said in a rather innocent tone—a different one than what she had in Roseway. “I was certain that we paid our taxes on time.”

“Perhaps we missed something,” came the abrupt voice of her father, Paul, “but it is quite odd how the bank decided to evict us without giving us prior warning.”

Rebekah listened carefully to her parents’ hushed conversation. She remembered the only retained memory she had of Roseway. The others had lost it when they became possessed, and in order to cover up the supernatural elements and the sudden memory loss, a fake memory was implanted for that time period, one that was created by Holly and Andre, the two witches who had helped destroy the curse. Even those in Marywood that weren’t directly involved in Roseway were wiped of the memory of the Jensens moving, something that was instated as extra precaution.

Creating a fake eviction was part of the false memories in order to explain why the Jensens were unable to live in their old Marywood house. Thus, they were stuck living in the shabby, two-bedroom apartment until they had enough money to afford another house.

Rebekah wandered into the kitchen, noticing the sudden silence that her parents created in regards to her presence. Forging around in the refrigerator, she found an apple, quickly rinsed it off, and bit into it, letting the juice flow down her throat.

“Rebekah, honey,” her mother called, approaching her, “would you like to carpool with us today to school?”

Rebekah shook her head. “Jamie said that she’d pick me up,” she said. Jamie Simpson was once the most popular girl at Marywood Middle School and the leader of Eternal Division, and to an extent, she still was all those things. Jamie was another person who had suffered from the memory loss in Roseway, and forgot that Holly, along with Andre, had saved her life. In her eyes, Holly was a toy that she could play with, someone whom she took pleasure in harassing.

Yet, Rebekah would be lying if she didn’t admit she had grown somewhat fond of Jamie while she was in Roseway. After all, it was Jamie who, despite her shallow appearance, had Rebekah’s interests in mind when she had supposedly told off Jake and Mandy for engaging in a lip lock at one of Teri’s parties sometime last December. Rebekah remembered reading an entry of Jamie’s journal that said just that shortly after she was possessed. Therefore, when Jamie had called her last night and offered to pick her up for school, she gleefully accepted Jamie’s invitation and even gave some serious thought to officially joining the clique. Holly will understand, Rebekah thought as justification for officially joining a clique that used fear to its advantage in order to gain power.

In essence, Rebekah was still rather angry at both Mandy and Jake for what they had done to her, but she knew she would have to pretend that nothing was wrong, since the false memories extended before that event.

“I guess that’s fine,” said Katie, quickly grabbing her car keys off the kitchen counter. She and Paul filed out of the apartment, and Rebekah followed shortly after, carrying her backpack on one shoulder.

In the cold, she watched her parents pull out of their parking spot and drive out onto the open road. Scanning the many cars that passed the apartment complex, Rebekah looked for a Jamie’s black limo. Within moments, she spotted the limo as it pulled into the parking lot, and Jamie opened the car door without getting out.

“Are you coming, or are you just going to stand there?” Jamie called, seeming impatient.

Rebekah made her way to the vehicle and piled into it alongside Jamie and the other three members of her clique, who had also received false memories.

“Now,” Jamie started to say once the limo began moving again, “do you all remember me telling you about applying for this year’s ICW?”

The rest nodded reluctantly, including Rebekah, since she knew that Jamie wouldn’t stop taking about it. The ICW, called by its full name the International Clique Wars and of which Rebekah hadn’t heard of until Jamie had brought it up in Roseway, was nothing short of a game show…for teenagers. From around the world, eight cliques were chosen to compete and represent their chosen countries. This year, the United States was chosen as well as France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Estonia.

“Well, I heard from them this morning, and,” Jamie paused as if to create suspense from her clique, “we got accepted.”

The other three members—Teri, Sabrina, and Sam—cheered their leader on, whereas Rebekah, though happy with Jamie’s accomplishment, was more silent.

Not noticing Rebekah’s behavior, Jamie continued, “Now, I haven’t read the letter yet, nor have I opened the package that they’ve sent me, which I was planning on doing today, if you all would be willing to go home with me.”

This time, a chorus of yesses chimed throughout the limo, of which Rebekah was a part of. After all, she had nowhere else to go after school.

“So, Rebekah, we’re all dying to know how your parents managed to get evicted,” said Teri, and all eyes turned towards Rebekah.

Rebekah glanced at them, wishing that no one had brought up that unfavorable subject topic. In no way was she ever as wealthy as the other four members of the clique; she had been to Jamie’s mansion, and Teri, Sabrina, and Sam apparently lived in the same part of town. In fact, she used to live in a rather petite lower-middle-class neighborhood that was closer to the trailer park than it was to where the rest of Eternal Division lived. Now that she lived in an apartment, that put her at the bottom of the Eternal Division standards, a clique that usually in the past had discriminated against poorer classes. Yet, Teri’s question seemed friendly enough, and the group hadn’t revoked Rebekah’s invitation to join yet, so she began her answer.

“My parents forgot to pay a set of their property taxes,” she began. “Now, the bank had confiscated their house.”

“Are you suggesting that you are now poor?” Teri fired the next question.

I never was wealthy like you, Rebekah thought in her head, knowing the dangers of Teri’s questioning. It was as if Teri was testing her worthiness as an Eternal Division member, but before she had a chance to rebut, Jamie spoke to Teri in a calm, but threatening, way.

“Teri, just because Rebekah doesn’t have as much money as us doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily poor. She’s just rich in other ways besides money,” Jamie said, soon turning towards Rebekah, “am I right?”

“Yeah,” was all Rebekah could reply. How else am I rich? For a while, she had dated Jake, one of the most popular guys in school, and in a way, she was still technically dating him because of the false memories, although, she was planning on officially ending that soon after having been practically avoiding him for the past few days.

The limo cruised into the school’s main parking lot, and the clique scooted out of their seats. Rebekah retrieved her crumpled-up schedule from her backpack, and together, the five of them walked through the school’s main doors and into the hallway.

Already, the school was buzzing with excitement. Those who were nearest to the front of the school turned their heads to stare at the new arrivals, and after word had spread, everyone began to clear the hallway and cling to their lockers. Eyes swept over the clique as they made their way to Jamie’s locker first.

 Jamie began to open her locker, shoving it inside her small backpack and grabbing only what she needed for her first block class. “Do you guys think that you will be able to come home with me? I realize that it’s kind of short notice.”

“Yeah,” said the others.

“Then, we’ll meet by this locker, and I’ll take you to my house,” Jamie concluded.

Suddenly, two girls approached Jamie’s locker, whom Rebekah had only seen a couple of times.

“Here’s your work from yesterday,” said the first one—a blonde. Quickly, she and her brunette companion handed out papers to Jamie, Teri, Sabrina, and Sam. Rebekah stared at Jamie oddly as she accepted the papers.

“Thank you,” said Jamie politely before turning towards Rebekah. “Oh, and this is Rebekah, the newest member of our clique.”

As soon as Jamie had said those words, Rebekah’s eyes had widened in surprise. After all, she had never officially accepted Jamie’s invitation to join Eternal Division, and it was as if Jamie took Rebekah’s acceptance to hang out with them as an answer. Either that or the false memories gave me Eternal Division membership status, she thought as a gulp ran down her throat. Then, Rebekah glanced at the two girls, still confused. Both of them greeted her, but she didn’t return it.

“Rebekah, this is Hannah Jones,” Jamie began, motioning towards the blonde, and after motioning towards the brunette, she added, “and this is Arianna Campbell.” After she was done with the introductions, she turned towards the two girls and ordered, “Here, you can help me carry my stuff to my first class.” The two girls nodded and when they finally had her materials in hand, they disappeared down the long hallway.

“Those two are, like, the biggest suck-ups,” Teri noted.

“To me,” said Jamie, “whatever I tell them to do, they do it.”

Rebekah barely paid any attention to Jamie’s talk of her “slaves” who seemed to worship her. Slowly, she became invisible to them as she slipped away in pursuit of her two friends who weren’t a part of Jamie’s coterie, one of which she hadn’t seen or spoken to for months and who she was still rather angry with.

The first person that she had run into was Holly, who was waiting patiently by her first hour class. With her orange hair barely resting below her shoulders, she had on a pair of jeans and a blue blouse—the first thing that Rebekah had noticed, since all Holly usually wore were polka-dot dresses that she made herself.

“Did you make that?” Rebekah wondered, glancing at the new attire.

Holly shook her head. “Mandy gave me some clothes after I returned from the battle in Roseway. She stated it was a token of remembrance after everything.”

Rebekah nodded slowly. Besides Holly and Rebekah, the only other one who attended Marywood and retained her memory the months of the Roseway incident was Mandy, a human who can catch a glimpse at the future in her dreams, hence why she was called a Foreseer.

“My parents still haven’t come home,” said Holly. “At this point, I’ll be lucky if they ever do. Andre’s been taking care of me, but she can’t gain legal custody of me until she turns eighteen.”

A few moments later, Mandy had joined their conversation, her long, blonde hair in a disheveled mess. At the sight of her, Rebekah felt her anger resurface, but she did her best to suppress it. After all, if Mandy also had retained her memories, she also would have remembered how she and Jake had betrayed Rebekah at Teri’s party. Instantly, she pulled Rebekah into an embrace, and Rebekah tensed up slightly at the embrace but did her best to somewhat return it. “I know everything,” she cooed, choking on her words. “Rebekah, I’m so sorry.”

Rebekah pulled away. “None of that matters anymore. It’s over.”

Holly shook her head. “Not even for you is it over. We mustn’t be separated again.”

Rebekah turned her heels towards Holly. “Holly, I’ve been dealing with this crap since December. It may not be over for you, but for me, I’m just…done.”

“Do you honestly believe that since Roseway is under Jason’s control that this is going to stop?” questioned Holly, her voice rising. She took a step closer, lowering her voice. “I know Henri’s character, and the fact that he still has my parents is proof of that. He’s planning something.”

“Holly, this is your war. Not mine, and not Mandy’s,” Rebekah scolded.

“This is your war as much as it is mine,” Holly growled.

Rebekah glanced between her two friends. “You’ll have to do this without me. Jamie’s clique was accepted to the ICW, and I’ll be attending it.”

Holly’s eyes never left Rebekah’s, but she didn’t seem shocked that Rebekah just admitted to formally joining Eternal Division. In a way, it was as if Holly knew something Rebekah did not. “Make us a part of that,” she ordered.

Shocked, Rebekah took a step back. Whatever had become of Holly, she didn’t want to be a part of. Slowly, she retreated back to where Jamie and the rest of her clique stood.

 

~~~

 

The first thing that the clique did after school that day was get passports. “The ICW this year is being held in Munich, Germany,” said Jamie proudly before arriving at the post office. “Therefore, we must get passports.”

In what was one of the most tedious hours of Rebekah’s life, the passport photos were taken and paid for, the clique members loaded themselves back into the limo, and off they traveled to Jamie’s house.

“I must show you guys the acceptance letter,” said Jamie once they arrived at her house. With her clique following, she dashed up the stairs and retrieved an unopened envelope that was on top of an unopened package. She tore it open, reluctant to read it aloud:

 

Dear Jamie Simpson,

We are pleased to inform you that your clique, Eternal Division, has been chosen to participate in this winter’s International Clique Wars for females. However, there is one problem that prevents your group from participating: you will need two more members in order to compete in a few of the activities, as I am sure you are aware of. As soon as you find two more people who can fill that position, Eternal Division will be eligible to represent the United States.

Sincerely,

Jason Speirs, host of this winter’s International Clique Wars.

 

“We need two more members,” Jamie whispered, obviously flabbergasted. “Who will we choose to be our temporary teammates?”

Teri shrugged obediently before picking up a list, which showed all of the participating cliques from the chosen countries. “Umm, Jamie, you might want to see this.”

Jamie turned her attention to the list of clique participants that Teri showed her. “Great! Les Fleurs Cramoisies is participating!”

“Who?” Rebekah wondered.

Les Fleurs Cramoisies, or, in English, The Crimson Flowers. It’s a clique from Paris, France,” Sam explained.

“And their leader is Julie Duvall,” Jamie added. “How her clique got in, I do not know.”

“Rebekah, can I see you for a minute?” Teri led Rebekah out of the room. “Please don’t ask about Julie Duvall when you’re around Jamie.”

“Why?”

“She’s kind of Jamie’s arch enemy. Jamie will kill me if she found out that I told you this, but she and Julie used to be very good friends, or pen pals. They had formally met online a couple of years ago, and until a little over a year ago, the two of them were inseparable,” Teri explained. “That is, until the two of them got into a fight about something. Jamie actually never really told us what the fight was about, but it must have been pretty serious for them to end their friendship over it.”

Rebekah pursed her lips together, somewhat speechless. As Teri told the story, she couldn’t help but suspect that there was more to the story than what she was told.

Soon, Jamie exited the room that she was currently in, interrupting Teri and Rebekah’s conversation. “Help me find two more people!” she demanded. “Name some people.”

“Rosalie Franklin and Kendra Laurent,” Teri suggested.

“Oh god no. Those best friends will only ruin Eternal Division’s reputation with their weird rituals and their Eternal Division wannabe attitudes!”

“Sarah Stevenson and Melissa Young,” Teri tried again.

Jamie shook her head making an icky face. “Those two have even weirder rituals than Rosalie and Kendra.”

“Okay how about Arianna Campbell and Hannah Jones?”

“Possibly,” Jamie considered. “But then again, those two are major suck-ups.”

With no more suggestions, Rebekah knew that she had to do something. Holly wanted so desperately for her and Mandy to stay with Rebekah, and she knew instantly who she was going to suggest. Her palms became drenched in sweat, and a lump formed in her throat. In a way, she was scared to see how Jamie would react to such a suggestion, but in that moment, she didn’t have much of a choice. “Holly White and Amanda Palmer,” Rebekah piped up, hoping that Jamie would not take the suggestion the wrong way.

Jamie looked at Rebekah funny. “Why them?”

“Because you’re desperate, and they don’t bother you as much nor do they have any weird rituals.”

“Fine! I’ll ask them! I mean, Mandy, I think, writes, and Holly…isn’t she, like, super nerdy or something? I mean, I guess she kind of has to study so much, since she practically has no life outside of school. That’s it! We can use them for the writing portion and the trivia portion respectively!”

Rebekah flinched slightly when Jamie started talking about Holly in that manner. Then, she took a deep breath, reminding herself that Jamie did have her moments of being a decent person with what she had written in that journal entry, and instantly, Rebekah’s doubts about joining the clique in the first place instantly went away.

The rest of the evening involved digging into the package of ICW materials.

Chapter Two

Melissa Ivory Young stood on the outskirts of Seattle with her hands inside her coat pockets, peering into the city that had served as her home for decades. Her hood was pulled over her head, forcing her black hair to spill over her chest, and her eyes displayed a hint of yellow outlining the pupil. Her slightly-grey, pale complexion defined her immortality, and her red-tinted lips were pursed together due to stress. Rain pummeled her from above, which she didn’t think much of. After having lived in the city for years, she grew used to the rain constantly being there so much that not having it felt foreign to her.

She sucked in a deep breath of air as she took a step forward. She knew that she was late for a meeting with the Night Cult, but that didn’t make her move any faster. Even the thought of Cameron Crum, the leader of the Night Cult, conducting the meeting didn’t do anything to make her move faster, someone whom she used to be romantically involved with. Yet, he ended things with her quite some time ago, and now, she knew that she would get no favors from him for being late. She knew that he would hold her to the same regard as everyone else in the group if not a little less, and in that sense, he would find a way to punish her for being late.

Instantly, Melissa shrugged off the horrid thought, knowing that it wouldn’t amount to anything besides a certain amount of humiliation within the meeting itself, something that she had grown hardened to over the years. Cameron Crum certainly didn’t scare her, even if he tried at times to do so through the use of the power and status he possessed within their shared group. In fact, ever since she had gained her immortality, nothing truly scared her except for failure and, more obviously, Henri Anderson.

As she walked quickly and silently towards the headquarters for the Night Cult, her eyes swept towards the ground. In a way, she was not looking forward to this meeting because she knew the topic would mainly be about Henri and the inevitable war between mortals and immortals. Ever since Cameron ended things with Melissa, he kept bringing up Henri around her whenever he had the opportunity to do so, and she knew he did that to instill fear within her, but recently, she just felt annoyed by it. In a way, he was secretly hinting at the fact that the immortal race of magic users must unite behind Henri in order to defeat the mortal threat in the war, which she didn’t much appreciate. She knew her place, just like everyone did, and if anything, Cameron constantly doing that to her made her wish to rebel against Henri even more now.

But she also didn’t want the mortals to win the war.

Within her coat pockets, Melissa balled her hands into fists as she walked at a faster pace. Anger flashed within her eyes, causing her yellow irises to glow, which always happened whenever an immortal magic user fought to experience something that was otherwise deemed as unnatural for them to experience. Immediately, Melissa took a deep breath in order to calm her nerves. Not only would she expose what she was to everyone who passed by her through her glowing eyes, but if she found herself experiencing too much of any emotion, including anger, she would be severely weakened and could also potentially lose her immortality and immediately die. None of those two options were favorable for Melissa, and therefore, she had to fight in order to remain as emotionless as possible.

Soon, she came across the front entrance of a tall, old, and worn-down building that served as the headquarters for the Night Cult. On the outside, the building gave that appearance so that no regular human would go near it. However, the interior looked rather new, complete with a room for each of the members of the group as well as a small basement, where the interns, or human slaves to the immortal magic users, were housed. Melissa did not deny that her group was a very old-fashioned group, for the use of interns was an outdated practice that the Night Cult only really used nowadays. The rest of the immortals stagnantly got rid of any sort of human trafficking throughout the nineteenth century.

Since this building was as much hers as everyone else’s in the group, Melissa pushed herself into the building and quickly shut the door behind her before any of the interns had a chance to escape or someone on the street happened to see her enter the building. Even though each intern wore a bracelet on their right wrists that prevented them from leaving the building lest they get electrocuted, Melissa still took every precaution necessary in order to make sure they all remained in that building.

As expected, no one, not even the interns, greeted her at the door. Instead, she heard loud talking in one of the rooms to the right of the front entrance, indicating that the meeting had already started. Cameron was the one who was talking in the other room, and as Melissa expected, she was late.

She gulped a huge breath of air as she slowly made her way towards the room where the meeting was taking place. In no way did she wish to make eye contact with Cameron, and in order to make sure she didn’t, her eyes stayed glued to the floor the entire time. Instantly, she stepped into the room, and Cameron immediately stopped talking. The room soon was enveloped in silence as all eyes fell on her, and in a way, it was as if time has stopped. Slowly, Melissa’s eyes left the floor and met the gazes of every single person in that room minus Cameron.

Parting his lips, Cameron let out, “You’re late.”

Those two words were enough to deliver an icy chill down her spine as she shuffled towards the back of the room in order to take a seat in between Rhiannon Hansen and Sarah Stevenson. Since Sarah was also enrolled in the same human school in Marywood as her, Melissa instantly felt more comfortable with her.

Yet, Cameron had other things in mind. With a flick of his gaze and with one simple incantation in Latin, he hoisted Melissa up into the air and pulled her towards him before slamming her hard against the wall nearest to him. His eyes never left her as he said his next command: “The rest of you, fill out the back!” A smirk swept across his lips. “This one will have a very special place next to me.”

Instantly, the rest of them scrambled to do what they were told, each moving one seat towards the back of long table that was in front of them. Melissa glanced at all of them in confusion. After all, she wasn’t the only one who has been late to meetings with the Night Cult in the past, and yet, this was the first time Cameron has done anything like this. Then, she felt him yank her away from the wall and slam her down onto the newly-opened seat that was directly to the right of him.

Melissa glared at Cameron as she barred her teeth. Her eyes flashed yellow once again, and it was evident she wasn’t amused by Cameron’s attempt at humiliation. “Thank you, Cameron,” she spat at him.

Cameron didn’t seem to acknowledge her words and instead turned towards the rest of the group in order to resume the meeting. “Like I was saying before,” he began, therefore silencing Melissa, “Henri has specifically asked for our group’s aid after the battle for Roseway was unsuccessful.” Then, he glanced at Melissa and smirked slightly at her. “Soon, he’s planning on hosting a meeting in Greenwich where not only are the Dark Rulers and the Dark Guard expected to attend, but us as well.”

“What exactly is he hoping that we’ll be able to help him with?” someone asked from the back, and it took Melissa a second to realize that the voice belonged to Sarah.

“He hasn’t particularly disclosed all the details yet, but he did tell me this.” Then, Cameron leaned forward, his hands resting on the table. “Jason Speirs is for sure hosting a human competition this year. One of the cliques that was accepted includes three of whom Jason has sworn to protect since the incident in Roseway. Therefore, what better way to further the war then to strike at the venue of the human competition?”

Melissa’s eyes widened at what Cameron had told the group. For the first time since she arrived at the meeting, she became hopeful. The fact that the Night Cult had been specifically invited by Henri to attend his next meeting, allowed her to ask him for a favor. She had a desire for him to transform someone into an immortal witch for her benefit, and she knew exactly who she had in mind for such a feat.

It was no secret that Melissa had a certain amount of animosity towards Henri, and for a while, she envisioned herself as the immortal ruler. Such a thought continuously appeared in the back of her mind to the point where she had a desire to stage a rebellion against him. However, she needed to gain support before she officially started the rebellion, and one of the supporters she wished to gain was the one whom she hoped Henri would make into an immortal witch.

The rest of the meeting was a blur, and once it concluded, Melissa wasted no time teleporting back to Marywood with a single thought in mind: her plot to lure the human she had in mind to Greenwich.

Chapter Three

Holly was the first to be asked by Jamie to the ICW. After hearing that Jason Speirs was going to be the host for it this winter, she suspected that there was more behind his motives than just a friendly gesture, especially since his son was still under the clutches of Henri Anderson. Mandy, however, was a little more skeptical about accepting Jamie’s offer, despite Holly’s pleas that, for the time being, they mustn’t be separated.

“I need to talk to you,” Mandy had said to Rebekah without Holly’s presence. Currently, it was lunchtime right after Jamie had presented her and Holly with the offer to travel to and participate in the ICW. There were just a few short minutes left. “Is there any way that you can get out of your next class and meet me in the bathroom?”

“What is this about?” Rebekah asked skeptically raising an eyebrow. “And why isn’t Holly included in this?”

“Just be there,” was all Mandy’s response.

And that was exactly what Rebekah did, despite her still-prominent anger towards Mandy. Since the next class she had was math with her mother, she held certain advantages that others in the class did not possess. Silently after attendance was taken, she stole out of the classroom without anyone noticing and trudged down the empty hallway with a hall pass in her hand. She knew exactly which bathroom to meet Mandy in: the one that was nearest to their two classes.

Upon entering the desolate bathroom, she noticed Mandy right away, who was staring at her reflection in one of the bathroom’s many mirrors.

“Now, can you tell me what this is about?” Rebekah tried again. “Why mustn’t Holly know about this?”

“I have a feeling that Holly is becoming too paranoid over the Roseway issue,” said Mandy truthfully. “Why else would she beg you to let us become participants in the ICW? She despises Jamie as much as I do.”

“For now until this blows over, I do believe that she has a valid point,” Rebekah said, nearly choking on her own words.

“I don’t want to accept Jamie’s offer, despite what Holly says. Obviously, we’re still alive, so the aftermath can’t be that bad, can it?”

“It’s only been five days.”

“I understand that, but—” Mandy stopped in mid-sentence, turning towards the mirror and resting her hands on the sink.

“Mandy?” Rebekah approached the other with concern. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m…fine,” Mandy said through gritted teeth. “I just got hit by a sudden wave of nausea, but it’s over now.”

“Maybe I should take you to the nurse’s office?” Rebekah suggested.

“No,” Mandy said a little too quickly. “I’m fine.”

“Just to make sure, I think I should—”

Just then, the lights flickered off in the bathroom, creating an eerie atmosphere. Screams were traveling down the hall, followed by the sound of a gunshot, and Mandy and Rebekah reluctantly rushed out of the bathroom. To their surprise, the lights in the hallway were also off, and from down the hallway, people piled out of a science classroom, crowding around the teacher, who pulled with him a limp body. A bloody gash rested on her forehead just above her eyes.

Mandy and Rebekah raced to the commotion, noticing right away that the body was of Kendra Laurent, someone they had known for the longest of time.

At the edge of the crowd, there was a girl, who sobbed violently as two others attempted to restrain her. Her name was Rosalie Franklin, the esteemed best friend of Kendra, and those who restrained her were Melissa Young and Sarah Stevenson.

“What happened?” Mandy ran up to the three of them, her question directed towards the hysterical one. Rebekah followed closely behind her.

Rosalie turned around slowly, her face stained with tears. “They couldn’t save her,” she mumbled, slurring her words. “The lights went out all too fast, and…and…the gun…”

“She brought a gun to school, and she shot herself,” finished Melissa, stepping in front of the hysterical Rosalie. “Why must you know?”

“We…we…” Mandy began to say, turning towards Rebekah for support.

But Rebekah paid no attention to Mandy’s pleas for help. Off in the distance, she noticed the greyed figure of Kendra Laurent, smiling directly at her. Rebekah didn’t return the smile but instead stared at Kendra with lustrous curiosity.

Then, the smile vanished from Kendra’s face as her eyes swept to the floor. “I know you can see me, Rebekah, and by the looks of things, I think you can hear me, too,” she began. “For now, I don’t want you to speak, so just listen to me.”

Rebekah nodded once, gulping slightly.

“It was my father’s gun that I had used. I don’t know what came over me. I just…I had the sudden urge to take it, and I…well, you know what happened…” Kendra met Rebekah’s gaze, and Rebekah could tell she felt regret. “Someone did this to me. Someone influenced me to end my life, and I…I need to know who it was. Can you do that for me?”

Rebekah nodded again right as Kendra vanished, and immediately, her thoughts centered on possession. In her mind, there was no other reason why Kendra would kill herself like she did, which made Rebekah think her true soul had something to do with it.

But why Kendra? Why not me?

“Rosalie doesn’t need you two,” Melissa said after a while. “She needs us, people who saw what had happened and therefore can identify with her.”

“I think I know who did this,” Rebekah mumbled to herself, gaining curious looks from Melissa, Sarah, and Mandy.

“You think someone made her shoot herself?” Melissa asked, a sly smile making its way on her face. “What gives you that idea?”

Startled, Rebekah jerked her head up and glanced at Melissa. “I meant figuratively,” she corrected in a heartbeat.

Melissa’s smile suddenly vanished and almost immediately, she and Sarah steered Rosalie away from the crowd.

By the time the crowd dispersed, Mandy and Rebekah returned to their classes, unable to get Kendra’s death out of their minds for the rest of the school day.

 

~~~

 

In town. Wanna hang out?

Rebekah glanced down at the latest text message that she had received from her cousin, Paige Gilbert, which startled her. After all, she didn’t recall ever telling Paige that she had moved back, but then, she remembered the false memories, and everything clicked. Paige did not remember the Jensens moving to Roseway in the first place.

Within the last few minutes of her last class for the day, and with nothing else to do, she quickly scanned the contents of the message. Paige, being originally from Las Vegas, had told Rebekah earlier in the year that her family was moving to Marywood in February. Yet, Rebekah never expected that her cousin would have already arrived in the city, especially since she wasn’t supposed to move there for another couple of months. Another minute was shaved off the clock, and she quickly texted back, Why are you here?

In her history class, she only half-listened to her teacher, who was rambling with no restraint about the sectional struggle between the North and the South in the years leading up to the Civil War, a war that she would always tie back to Roseway. Not caring much for it, she hid her phone cleverly underneath her desk until it vibrated with another message: Was pulled out of school. Vacationing and looking at houses. Boring as hell.

Rebekah struggled to contain her laughter. With only one minute remaining on the clock, she quickly replied with: See you soon. Meet me in front of school.

There was no questioning which school she meant, since only one middle school was built in all of Marywood. Quietly, she started packing her things, and when the final bell sounded, she was out the door.

Alone, she trudged through the crowded hallways towards the front of the school, pushing her way through various groups, who had stopped to chat about various topics. Flinging the front door to the school open, sunlight streamed in, temporarily blinding her. Outside, various students scampered about, some climbing into cars and busses and some choosing to walk. Rebekah stood alone as none paid any particular attention to her.

“Rebekah,” said a voice from behind. To her dismay, it was only Jamie. “I did it. I asked both of them, and do you know what they said?”

Rebekah shrugged, playing the ignorant card. She knew perfectly well what Jamie was talking about, and she had a guess as to what the answers were.

“They agreed to it,” said Jamie, obviously dumbfounded. “Honestly, I was expecting more of a challenge, but who knew that they were both secretly Eternal Division wannabes?”

You wish, thought Rebekah, knowing the real reason as to why both Holly and Mandy accepted Jamie’s invitation.

“However, I feel like it would be a good idea for someone or others to potentially sponsor our trip,” said Jamie. “I already asked some people regarding that, but since you found me two more temporary members, do you know of anyone else?”

Internally, Rebekah gulped before saying the first name that came to mind: “There’s my cousin, Paige.”

Jamie scoffed. “Does she live here?”

“Paige is only visiting,” said Rebekah. “I’m waiting for her right now, but I don’t know if she would accept.”

“Well, umm,” Jamie began, “just ask Paige for me, please.” Then, she sauntered off right as a car pulled up in front of Rebekah, and the front car window was rolled down.

Paige, with frizzy, dark-red curls that bounced with the slight breeze, leaned her head out of the window, calling to her cousin. Rebekah piled into the back, saying her hello as the car pulled out of the school parking lot.

Paige’s mother was in the driver’s seat, not saying much but instead concentrating on the mundane activity of driving.

“So, I was thinking about just wandering around downtown and looking around, if that is okay with you,” said Paige, turning around in her seat. “When was the last time we saw each other?”

Rebekah couldn’t recall exactly when, but she knew that it was a little over a year ago. The fact that Rebekah’s family had moved to Roseway had contributed largely to that fact.

“Is school all right?’ Paige asked.

“Yeah,” said Rebekah, not wishing to go into too much detail.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence, and within ten minutes, Paige and Rebekah were dropped off in the main downtown area, where they would be for the next few hours.

Rebekah watched the car speed away before turning to follow Paige.

“So, that girl that I saw you talking with earlier,” Paige pointed out. “Who is she?”

“A friend,” Rebekah replied, thinking back to her last conversation with Jamie. “She actually wanted me to ask you something.”

Paige suddenly stopped in front of a thrift shop. “What is it?”

“She wants to know if you would be willing to be one of the ones who sponsor her clique’s trip to this winter’s ICW,” Rebekah said, fearing that Paige would bug out on her.

But instead, Paige broke into hysterical, incessant laughter. “Rebekah, you know me,” she said. “I prefer to stay isolated from the world of prestigious cliques. Besides, I don’t really want to waste money on that!”

“I thought that you might agree to it if you knew that I am participating in it,” Rebekah said.

Paige continued to walk past the thrift shop. “You were wrong to assume that. Nothing in the world can make me get wrapped up in the clique world.”

Rebekah dropped the topic as she and Paige stumbled into a candle shop. Why they decided to go in there first, Rebekah did not know, but as soon as she entered it, an eerie feeling swept over her, which was quickly replaced by dread. Candles appeared everywhere she turned, and even though they required the assistance from a lighter in order to burn, Rebekah could not shake away the feeling that she was somehow still in Roseway, watching from afar the candles that lit themselves.

“It smells nice in here,” Paige commented.

“Yeah, it does,” answered Rebekah, suddenly noticing the lack-of people that had stumbled into the shop. “Why are we in here?”

Paige shrugged. “Candles calm me,” she replied as she gawked over a shelf of cinnamon-scented ones. “My parents never let me have candles. They say that candles are too dangerous to keep in the house.”

They aren’t wrong, thought Rebekah, thinking back to the candles in Roseway. However, not every candle in the store was lit, and those that were lit were secured in a way that they could never topple over and burn the store down.

Only one person was scheduled to run the store. Since it was a small shop, he sat behind the checkout desk, where he could survey the entire store. He was a man who appeared to be in his late fifties. A cigarette was placed between his two fingers, and he eyed the two cousins with a suspicious look on his face.

“We’re being watched,” noted Rebekah, her paranoia returning.

“He’s probably expecting us to buy something,” Paige said, noticing the man right away. “What I don’t understand is why he feels the need to smoke.”

But Rebekah couldn’t ignore the man’s constant stares. There was something peculiar about the way he brought his lit cigarette to his lips for a second before breathing out a huge puff of smoke, all while not taking his eyes off the two of them. Every chance she got, she glanced at him, and when he left the desk and walked over to where they stood, her pulse quickened.

“May I help you find what you’re looking for?” he asked in a rather decrepit tone, exhaling smoke while he talked.

Rebekah glanced around the entire store, noticing quickly how she and Paige were the only two customers in the store. Even though she had noticed this before, it hadn’t dawned on her until now how bizarre that was.

“No, we’re just browsing,” Paige said calmly, not looking away from the candles.

With his free hand, the man reached out and grabbed Paige’s arm, of which she looked up at him. “What are you looking for?” he asked as he began to twist her arm.

“I-I—” Paige looked at Rebekah for assistance before excruciating pain shot up her arm. She yelped slightly, falling into the shelf of unlit, cinnamon-scented candles.

Horrified, Rebekah ran towards the exit, screaming. A force was soon pressed against her legs, and she fell to the floor, staring at the man, whose features began to change. His hair darkened from a pale grey to a dark brown, and the wrinkles on his face tightened. His skin paled, and his eye color changed from blue to yellow. A glowing yellow.

Just like Melissa, thought Rebekah as the man, now appearing to be in his early teens, towered over her, throwing to the side his used cigarette. When Melissa was with Sarah and Rosalie during the scene of Kendra’s death, she remembered how unnaturally yellow Melissa’s eyes were, as were Sarah’s.

He bent over her and offered her his hand. “Come quietly, and I promise not to hurt you,” said he.

“Come where?” Rebekah wondered, waving off his hand.

He took his hand away, ignoring her question. “You’re famous among many people,” he said. “Come with me, and I will take you to your Master.”

Master? Rebekah questioned as she crawled away from him. In Roseway, she recalled there being only one person who was called the Master, and that was Henri Anderson.

As if due to a huge gust of wind, the door to the candle shop suddenly swung open, revealing yet another man Rebekah did not recognize, one that had blonde hair. Oh, great.

Yet, her surprise soon turned into amazement as the new arrival flung himself not at her but at the other, pinning him against the wall.

“Where are the others?” the blonde demanded of the brunette.

A sly smile swept across the brunette’s face. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Bastard!” the blonde spat, raising his voice. “You know exactly what I’m talking about!”

“Alan,” came a third voice—a female one, “he may have been given a solo assignment.”

Rebekah turned her attention to the new arrival, confused as to what was going on. Yet, her expression relaxed when she saw that it was Andre, Holly’s cousin.

The blonde—whose name was Alan—whipped his head around, still clutching the brunette tightly in his arms. “You don’t know that.”

“Listen to her,” the brunette insisted  to Alan before speaking directly to Andre. “It would be a shame for you to lock me up in a place where I could never see your beauty.”

“Cameron, nothing you say right now is going to help your case,” said Andre. “Alan, what should we do with him?”

“You’ve already done your part,” said Alan softly. “Now, Cameron, why are you here?”

Cameron started laughing uncontrollably. “How pathetic you are to think that I’ve been restrained. Very easily, I could break out of your grasp and kill you along with your whore.”

“Where’s Melissa?” demanded Alan.

Melissa? Rebekah questioned. The one that I know?

“I suppose that crazy bitch is already on her way to Greenwich,” said Cameron with an amused expression on his face. “But how should I know? I don’t keep tabs on her anymore.”

Frustrated, Alan released Cameron, who fell to the floor and was consumed by his black smoke.

“You let him go,” Andre noted.

“I feel that if I locked him up, that wouldn’t get us anywhere,” said Alan, moving towards Paige. He reached out his hand, kneeling down, to check for a pulse. When he felt one, he turned to the Innocent and asked, “Who is she?”

“Paige,” Rebekah retorted, barely finding her voice, “my cousin.” After a few minutes of silence, she added a question of her own: “What was that about?”

“Rebekah, Holly told me that there was a shooting at your school today,” said Andre quietly as Rebekah attempted to stand. “Who was killed by it?”

“A girl named Kendra,” Rebekah paused. “What does that have to do with anything? Why did you ask that man about Melissa?”

Alan turned towards Rebekah. “You know Melissa Young?”

Rebekah nodded slightly. “She was there along with a girl named Sarah and another named Rosalie, who was Kendra’s best friend.”

“Sarah Stevenson, I presume,” said Alan. “She and Melissa are the two people that we have been searching for.”

“But who was that guy?”

“Cameron Crum,” Alan said. “Used to be romantically involved with Melissa Young.”

“Then, he and Melissa are…immortal?”

Alan nodded slowly. “And so is Sarah.”

“How long have you known Melissa and Sarah for?” Andre wondered. “Haven’t you noticed anything…different about them?”

“They are known for having weird rituals, but I would have never been able to make that connection!” Rebekah said in defense. “Besides, the both of them have been enrolled at my school for as long as I’ve been there. Until now, they haven’t bothered me.”

“Andre, what are we going to do about the other?” asked Alan, referring to Paige’s unconscious body.

“I’ll take her to Holly’s place and try to revive her,” said Andre. “And Rebekah, you should visit the home of your Foreseer friend. Holly is there, and she wants to talk to you.”

Chapter Four

Alone, Rebekah made the long journey to the place of the Foreseer, leaving her cousin in the hands of the two mortal magic users. The sun shined brightly, its light illuminating the downtown area of Marywood, and the streets were lively with human busybodies that moved back and forth. Rebekah was among them, pushing past the crowd of people, none of which she knew.

After walking a few blocks towards the wealthy area of Marywood, the scent of tobacco smoke wafted through the air, and Rebekah gagged slightly.

Clouds started to form at the edges of Marywood, engulfing the blue sky. As she walked, the sun started to set behind the buildings, giving what was left of the blue sky an orange tint. One by one, streetlights began to turn on, and pretty soon, the entire block was lit up in neon lights.

In a matter of minutes, Rebekah passed through the downtown area and into the wealthier part of Marywood, where Jamie and her clique lived and, more importantly, where Mandy lived.

She turned onto Mandy’s block as the sky darkened, and her pace quickened slightly. Within moments, she reached the house that she was looking for, hesitating a little before walking towards the front door. She knocked slowly as a cool breeze sliced through her hair.

 

~~~

 

A cool washcloth was pressed to Mandy’s head in order to numb her pain. With Holly in the room with her, she stretched her limbs on her bed, breathing steadily.

“If you don’t feel well, perhaps we shouldn’t participate in the ICW,” Holly suggested.

“Try to get Rebekah to agree to that,” Mandy said, “and try to get yourself to let go of your ‘sticking together’ policy.”

A knock was barely heard from downstairs and Holly directed her attention towards it.

“Don’t answer it,” Mandy ordered, stopping her.

“But what if it’s Rebekah?” she asked. Or Andre? I told her that I was here.

“Then, answer it only if it’s her,” Mandy clarified. “The last thing I need is for some idiot to come by and try to sell us some useless crap.”

Holly barely heard Mandy’s last statement as she made her way down the stairs and towards the front door. Glancing at the windows, she noticed how grey the sky looked. I don’t recall the weather forecasters predicting rain.

She opened the door slowly so as not to attract attention to it in case it was an unwanted visitor. Relaxing a little after seeing who it was, she opened the door all the way. It was Rebekah.

“Where were you?” Holly demanded. “We’re supposed to stick together.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but I didn’t think that rule applied to after-school hours!” Rebekah snapped. “I was out with my cousin, Paige, whom I haven’t seen in a while!”

“Did Andre find you?” asked Holly. “I told her to find you and send you here.”

Rebekah stepped into the foyer area as the door was closed behind her. “Was it I who she was looking for,” she began, “or was it Cameron?”

“Cameron?” Holly questioned. “Who the heck is Cameron?”

“Like you don’t know,” replied Rebekah. “Cameron Crum, who apparently used to be romantically involved with Melissa Young.”

Holly nearly froze. “That Cameron? He was here?”

Rebekah nodded slowly. “He knocked Paige out,” she started to say, “and then, he turned to me and said something about taking me to my Master.”

“And it didn’t strike you as to who he might be talking about?” Holly inquired. “This is the reason why we have to stick together!”

“He was referring to Henri; I know that,” Rebekah said. “But why would he say that?”

Holly scoffed a little. “According to Cameron, Henri is still your Master, even after Roseway.”

“Why would he be?” Rebekah continued. “I only briefly saw him before I had passed out.”

“Henri’s still pursuing you.” Holly paused. “He knows more about you than you think.”

“That doesn’t even matter anymore because Cameron left!” Rebekah felt her voice rise. “Andre and her male friend, Alan, scared him off!”

“Alan,” Holly repeated. “Alan Tanner?”

“I don’t know his last name!”

“Where’s Paige now?”

“Andre took her back to your mobile home,” Rebekah responded. “Where’s Mandy?”

Instead of responding with words, Holly motioned for Rebekah to follow her. Upstairs, she walked, and before entering Mandy’s room, Holly suddenly stopped and said, “She’s sick, by the way.” Then, she pushed through the door, and there was Mandy.

“Mandy, how are you sick?” Rebekah demanded. “I should have taken you to the nurse when I had the chance.”

“That would have done nothing,” replied Mandy. “It’s my head, mostly. It won’t stop hurting.”

“I think she might be coming down with a cold or something,” said Holly, walking towards the open window. “Where did all those clouds come from?”

Rebekah shrugged, checking her phone. “Paige is conscious again,” she noted, reading a message that was on her phone. “She said that her male caretaker is still with her, but the female one left.” Rebekah glanced at Holly.

“She means Andre, doesn’t she?” Holly said mainly to herself before dashing down the stairs. She made a break towards the front door and flung it open, stepping out into the frigid air. In the cold, she walked a few paces, glancing around her.

“Why did you leave the house,” a voice said from behind her, “when you know that I can track you and appear wherever you are?”

Holly glanced behind her at the new arrival—Andre. “I figured I’d spare Mandy the fright, which she would have experienced if someone she did not know randomly appeared in her bedroom.”

Andre chuckled softly. “Is Rebekah with you?”

“She’s in the house,” said Holly, leading her cousin towards the house. “I heard about Cameron.”

“It wasn’t a surprise that he was here, actually,” Andre noted, following Holly into the warmth of the house and up the stairs. “After all, apparently Melissa and Sarah are here.”

“The difference is that they’ve been here a long time,” said Holly. “They’re enrolled in the human school.” Upon reaching Mandy’s bedroom, she stopped suddenly. “By the way, Mandy is sick, just to let you know,” she continued, “and I didn’t mention to her that you might be coming.” She pushed the door open to where Mandy was laying helplessly in bed.

Mandy turned towards the door, her hand resting on her forehead. “Holly, who is this?” she wondered, referring to the new arrival.

“This is Andre, my cousin,” Holly stated blandly before turning towards Andre, “and that’s Mandy, the Foreseer.”

“How is Paige?” Rebekah asked Andre.

“She’s fine,” Andre reassured her. “As it is, we—Alan and I—kind of told her she got mugged on the street. She did ask about you, but we told her that you weren’t there when we found her.”

Rebekah scoffed. “I guess I’ll have to explain the fake situation to her later, then.”

“Paige wants me to bring you to her. That’s the only reason I’m here, by the way.”

“Paige never mentioned…” Rebekah started to say, but she didn’t protest. Instead, she left rather hurriedly at the chance to visit her cousin.

 

~~~

 

“Paige didn’t really tell me to come get you,” Andre said after exiting the mansion. “We—Alan and I—need to talk to you.”

“What about Paige?” Rebekah wondered, glancing up at the sky, which was filled with dark-grey clouds.

“She’ll be fine alone in the mobile home for a while,” replied Andre. “It’s not like we won’t be nearby.”

And the meeting place was nearby, being sandwiched between the trailer park area and Downtown Marywood. That was where Alan appeared, patiently waiting for the arrival of the others.

Rebekah didn’t know how she felt about meeting with two magic users, even if they had saved her and her cousin at the candle shop. She had only recently gotten used to Andre, being forced to work with Holly’s cousin back in Roseway. Now that she was being forced to meet with a magic user who was completely unrelated to Holly, the fear that she used to experience with Andre started resurfacing.

Yet, Andre was oblivious to Rebekah’s fear and instead focused her attention on Alan. “I retrieved her,” she spoke in a professional manner. “Just like you wanted.”

Alan glanced at Rebekah, whose eyes swept to the ground. “Are you well?” he asked her.

Rebekah didn’t respond.

Sensing Rebekah’s sudden silence, Alan looked up at Andre. “She seemed much more…lively at the candle shop.”

“It took her a while to get used to me,” Andre admitted before turning towards Rebekah. “Rebekah, Alan is just going to ask you some questions, okay?”

Rebekah looked up at Alan, searching his eyes for any sign of deceitfulness. Satisfied with what she saw, she began to relax.

“How will she handle herself at the ICW if she can’t even handle herself around me?” Alan questioned Andre.

Before Andre had a chance to respond, Rebekah demanded, “Wait, how do you know about that?”

Alan’s eyes darted to Rebekah’s. “Andre said that Holly was also going to it,” he explained. “This year, Jason Speirs is hosting it for reasons that are unfathomable to me.”

“The ICW is widely watched among the humans, is it not?” said Andre. “Since it is being held around the same time as the hype about Roseway, it seems like an ideal competition for Henri to cause trouble at.”

Jason Speirs? Rebekah questioned, remembering the one who had signed the acceptance letter that Jamie had read to Eternal Division yesterday. She also remembered Andre mentioning that Henri had killed off the mortal royal family and that they had been replaced in August, and she instantly made the connection. Of course. Jason Speirs must be the new king of the mortal magic users.

“Wait, what do you mean when you say that you don’t know if I can handle myself?” Rebekah questioned.

“This year, Jason decided to do something a little…unorthodox for the competition. He talked to the producers of the ICW to allow for each clique to have two female chaperones,” Alan explained. “For protective reasons, the chaperones that will be there are witches.”

Surprised, Rebekah glanced at Andre. “Are you…one of them?”

“I specifically requested for Jason to allow me to be a chaperone for Eternal Division not just for you but for Holly as well,” said Andre.

“Eternal Division being chosen for the ICW was not so much luck as it was staged,” Alan continued. “Jason knows what you are, Rebekah, and he wants to keep you and Holly close.”

“How could Jason have known all of this?” Rebekah demanded. “Jamie—Eternal Division’s leader—had told me about the ICW last April.”

“The host wasn’t officially chosen until last month,” said Alan, “and Jason…may have had influence over the producers’ decision.”

“And Alan believes that the reason Henri incarcerated Jeffery was because Jason volunteered to be the ICW host,” Andre added.

“Who’s Jeffery?” Rebekah wondered.

“Jason and Annabelle’s son,” answered Alan. “He’s not much older than you, actually.”

At that comment, Rebekah began to feel light-headed. “What does Henri hope to gain by doing this?”

“Why did he also take Holly’s parents?” Andre inquired Rebekah. “He’s trying to eliminate the threat that the mortals had imposed on him and possibly take back Roseway. I can guarantee you that if Holly was home the night that her parents were taken, she would have been taken as well.”

“Cameron was going to take you to Henri, Rebekah,” Alan stated. “In Henri’s eyes, you are also a threat because of how you survived for so long in Roseway.”

“But I…had help,” Rebekah protested, thinking immediately of Ava.

“Doesn’t matter,” Alan continued. “Like I said before, there’s a reason why Eternal Division was selected to participate in this year’s ICW.”

Sighing in frustration, Rebekah said, “What are you going to ask me about? I already told you all that I know about the death of Kendra Laurent.”

“Roseway,” Alan replied. “What was happening before Holly and Andre got involved?”

“Too much to explain,” Rebekah admitted. “They—the ones that were possessed—were starving me and then decided to feed me arsenic. They all worshipped a being that was known as the Master, whom I figured out was Henri.”

“I guess what I’m trying to ask is, who was chosen to possess your body?”

“Someone by the name of Rebecca Johnson. She was supposed to be my true soul,” Rebekah replied. “Do you know her?”

“Of course it would be Henri’s pet,” Alan mused. “Yes, I am very familiar with her.”

“What are you getting at?” asked Rebekah.

But Alan’s attention was turned towards Andre. “Wouldn’t it make sense if Henri commanded Johnson to kill Kendra Laurent as the first act of war?”

Andre nodded slowly.

“You mentioned Kendra’s friend, Rosalie, was seen with Melissa and Sarah,” Alan said to Rebekah. “What are they planning to do with her?”

Rebekah shrugged. “How should I know?”

Up above, a flash of lightning struck the clouds, quickly followed by the sound of thunder. Rain began to pummel them, which made Rebekah think back to the acid rain that had occurred in Roseway.

“We should get inside someplace,” Andre noted.

Much to Rebekah’s dismay, they were closer to the trailer park than anywhere else. She followed them there to Holly’s trailer, and it was there where they had decided to take shelter from the rain.

Paige was asleep when Rebekah had laid eyes on her, which disappointed her. She was looking forward to conversing with her cousin after the incident with Cameron.

She took a seat near her cousin, sighing slightly, as she listened to the rain hit the trailer. Rarely did it rain in Marywood, and she couldn’t help but relate the weather back to Roseway.

For a while, no one said anything. Rebekah didn’t like the sudden silence, and all she wanted was to leave.

Andre went to sit by her. “Are you okay?” she questioned.

Rebekah heaved another sigh. “Yeah,” she said, staring at the floor. Not wanting to go back to the silence, she searched her mind for something to bring up. Yet, all that came to mind was a burning question that had yet to be answered. A question that, until now, she had forgotten that she didn’t know the answer to. She had only asked it once the night of New Year’s Eve, and she hadn’t gotten a full answer.

“Ava once told me back on New Year’s Eve,” Rebekah began, gaining the attention of not just Andre but Alan as well, “that the characteristic of the Innocent is not genetic.”

“That’s correct,” said Andre. “Why are you bringing this up?”

“I asked this question once, and I never really got an answer.” Rebekah took a deep breath. “What exactly makes…an Innocent? How is one, I guess you can say, created?” After she had asked her question, she watched as Andre’s expression became troubled.

“Holly never told you?” wondered Andre.

Rebekah shook her head.

Instead of answering Rebekah’s question, Andre turned towards Alan. “How do you want to answer this, Alan?”

“Considering how she acts around mortal magic users that she is unfamiliar with, I don’t think we should answer that,” said Alan.

Rebekah was confused. “What does this have to do with the magic users?”

“It has everything to do with the magic users,” explained Alan. “Especially immortal ones.”

Rebekah’s pulse quickened. “Immortal ones?” she reiterated.

“Especially the one that shares a birthday with you,” Andre added in a quiet voice.

“W-what?” said Rebekah, unable to comprehend what she just heard.

“You share a birthday with an immortal magic user,” Alan said a little louder.

“Who?” asked Rebekah with fear in her voice. “Henri? Is that how he knows what I am?”

Alan shook his head.

“Then—”

“Sierra Jensen, presumably from your father’s side,” said Alan. “Your Other Part’s name is Sierra Jensen.”

“O-other Part?” Rebekah repeated. “I don’t understand.”

“Your Other Part is the immortal magic user who is related to you and shares your birthday,” Andre explained. “All Innocents have one, and that’s what makes you able to see and communicate with spirits.”

“But why is she called my ‘Other Part’?”

Dodging away from the question, he asked, “On your birthday, have you felt any…differently?”

Rebekah thought about the question before answering. “I usually have some sort of a headache throughout the entire day,” she admitted.

“Sierra Jensen is called your Other Part because her mind is linked to yours,” Alan explained. “On your birthday, she is able to get inside your mind and see everything through your eyes, something that she has no control over.”

Rebekah suddenly felt like she had been hit with a ton of bricks. “Are you saying that those headaches mean that someone whom I’ve never met before has somehow invaded my mind?”

Alan nodded.

“She can’t hurt you that way, though,” Andre said reassuringly.

“She could, however, tell Henri what she saw through Rebekah’s eyes on that day,” Alan said suddenly to Andre.

Andre turned towards Alan. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that Henri could gather information about Rebekah on her birthday through Sierra Jensen,” Alan said. “I can’t believe that I hadn’t thought about this until now.”

Rebekah shivered. “Is there any way to…block her?”

The silence was what answered her question.

Rebekah felt tears of fear brimming in her eyes at the thought of someone being able to access her mind. All of a sudden, she couldn’t bear to be in that mobile home anymore.

She needed to go home, despite the fact that it was still raining.

“I need to go,” said Rebekah, getting up to leave.

“I’ll take you home,” Andre offered.

“No!” Rebekah bellowed, surprising even herself. “I need to go…alone.” Before she made it to the front door, Alan stopped her.

“You shouldn’t be alone,” Alan said. “Not after the incident with Cameron.”

Rebekah struggled to free herself from Alan’s grasp. “I don’t need protection,” she growled.

Andre got up suddenly. “I’m taking you home,” she declared. “Alan’s right; you shouldn’t be alone.”

“Fine!” said Rebekah as she yanked her arm free of Alan’s grasp. “I’ll let you escort me home.”

She followed Andre outside, and they began to walk in the direction of the apartment complex.

By that time, the rain had stopped.

 

~~~

 

Mandy couldn’t recall a time in her life where she had felt as sick as she did now. Every part of her body ached to the point where she could only move a minimal amount. Her hand never left the washcloth that was pressed on her forehead.

“Do you need water at all?” asked Holly, who was standing in the corner of her room.

Mandy vigorously shook her head. “I think I just need to sleep,” she said as she slowly rolled over on her left side. She closed her eyes, focusing on her steady breathing.

“I think that I should get you some anyway,” she heard Holly say, and then, Holly left the room.

Then, she fell asleep.

 

Mandy wandered through the deserted streets of Downtown Marywood aimlessly, alone. The city lights shined brightly, hiding the stars in the night sky.

A figure appeared in front of her, walking towards her at a steady pace. At first, she contemplated running, but she instead chose to stay in place and let this figure approach her. Upon closer examination, she realized that it was a man she did not know.

“Do not be alarmed,” the man called to her. “I do not wish to harm you.”

Mandy stared at the man with curiosity, feeling the steady rhythm of her heart.

“All I want to do is talk,” he said, forming a smile on his lips, “and possibly tell you about how the mortals are corrupting you.”

“What…are you talking about?” Mandy stammered, slowly backing away. “Who…are you?”

“Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” he said, seeming amused. “The mortals have done a great job depicting their interpretations of me, all of which are false.”

The curiosity that Mandy had experienced earlier was quickly replaced by fear. The man who stood in front of her, Mandy only heard Holly mention a few times, but those times had painted a pretty lively picture of him. Especially the time when this man had tried to kill Holly in her presence. “Henri Anderson,” she said softly. “But why would you waste your time visiting me?”

“Like I said, I want to clear some things up with you,” said Henri. “I know what you are, Mandy. I know all about you, and I know how unjustly the mortals have corrupted you.”

“No,” Mandy spat. “They have not done so. You’re evil! They said that you were!”

“Does immortality make a person evil?” Henri inquired. “I have done nothing to harm you, but they, I’m afraid, have already done so much.”

“What are you talking about?” Mandy demanded.

“You’re sick, aren’t you?” questioned Henri. “When was the last time you experienced a vision?”

Mandy thought about it, realizing that it had been a little over a month ago with Roseway. “But…that means nothing!”

“They blocked your visions, Mandy,” Henri said with no hesitation. “They stole the ability that you were born with.”

“They wouldn’t do that!” Mandy argued.

Henri outstretched his hand towards her. “I can help you gain your visions back,” he offered. “Everything that they had told you was a lie.”

Mandy looked at him skeptically, searching his face for any sign of deceitfulness. When she found none, she secured her hand in his.

“But,” Henri continued, “you will have to do something for me in return.”

Feeling herself relax, Mandy asked, “What do you want?”

“Now, I know that you are going to be present at this year’s ICW,” said Henri. “The task that I ask you to do is simple: get as close as you can to Holly and the Innocent and report to me with information, such as their whereabouts if they ever decide to leave the ICW facility and certain mental weaknesses.”

“You’re asking me to betray my friends,” noted Mandy. “I can’t—”

“You will do this for me if you want your visions back,” said Henri. “As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done you more harm than good.”

Mandy pondered the task for a moment. “I’ll do it,” she concluded, and soon, the dream faded around her.

 

“Mandy, Mandy, wake up,” came Holly’s voice.

Mandy felt someone shake her out of unconsciousness, and when her eyes finally flew open, she saw that Holly’s face was just mere inches from hers.

She let out a scream.

Surprised, Holly jumped back. “Mandy, what is it?” she questioned. “Did you have a nightmare or something while I was downstairs?”

Mandy didn’t answer Holly. Instead, her eyes swept to the glass of ice water that Holly had placed on her nightstand before she had woken up.

“Drink your water,” Holly said, motioning towards the glass. “You’ll feel better.”

“Y-you poisoned it, didn’t you?” Mandy suddenly said, surprised by the words that came out of her mouth. What’s wrong with me?

Holly seemed surprised by this as well. “Mandy, why would I poison you?” she questioned.

Instead, Mandy decided to ask another question. “Did you or one of the mortals block my visions?”

“What?” inquired Holly. “Is that why you’re sick? Your visions have been blocked?”

Mandy didn’t say anything.

The silence was all that Holly needed as an answer. “The mortals have no reason to block your visions, Mandy,” she said coldly.

“Are you lying?”

As a response, Holly approached Mandy’s bedside slowly and studied her eyes. “I need to go,” she said suddenly as if she saw something unusual. “I’ll see you later.”

Mandy eyed Holly go, and soon, she drifted off to sleep again.

 

~~~

 

Holly couldn’t remember a time where she exited anywhere as quickly as she left Mandy’s mansion. Without saying good-bye to anyone, she flew down the stairs and flung the front door open, breathing in the prominent scent of rain.

The ground was drenched, indicating that Holly had just missed a huge rainstorm. The sky was still covered with thick clouds.

She then broke out into a run, putting some distance between herself and the other houses, as she scanned the area for a safe and secure place to teleport.

When she finally found a place that was far enough from the other houses so that no one would be able to see her through their windows, she thought about her trailer. Soon, she was sucked into the void of nothingness as a plethora of sparks obscured her vision.

She appeared in the trailer, expecting to find it empty except for her cousin and possibly Rebekah. Yet, Rebekah was nowhere in sight, her cousin was there along with someone who she had never met before, and there was a human that was passed out on the couch. She raised her eyebrows in confusion.

“I thought that Rebekah would be here,” she said before the others could say anything else.

“I ended up taking her home,” Andre replied.

Cocking up an eyebrow, she asked, “Why?”

Andre and the male magic user briefly glanced at each other. “She asked us about what makes an Innocent, so we told her about Sierra Jensen. She didn’t really take the news that well.”

“What made you think that she would?” inquired Holly before motioning towards the human. “Who’s that?”

“Rebekah’s cousin,” replied Andre. “She has been out for most of the evening.”

Paige, thought Holly as she recalled Rebekah once telling her the name of her only cousin. Suspiciously, Holly eyed the other magic user, whom she had never met in person before. Yet, she remembered Rebekah mentioning a name that she recognized. “And you are Alan?” she questioned. “Tanner?”

The warlock nodded slowly.

Holly took a step closer to Paige, scrutinizing the human. “Will she awaken any time soon?” she asked. “If I say what’s currently on my mind, will she be able to hear it?”

“What’s on your mind, Holly?” asked Andre in a stern voice, ignoring the question.

“Mandy,” said Holly, turning around. Then, after realizing that Alan didn’t know who that was, she added, “The Foreseer.”

“What about her?”

“Well,” Holly began, “she has been terribly sick for, like, a day now, and today, I realized that it may have been because her visions have been blocked.”

“How do you know this?” asked Andre.

“Because she had originally accused the mortals, namely me, for blocking her visions,” said Holly.

“Henri,” Alan said suddenly.

Holly nodded in agreement. “I was thinking the same thing, but what I don’t understand was how Henri knows about her. I mean, she wasn’t directly involved in Roseway. She was only indirectly involved.”

“He has ways of finding stuff like this out,” said Alan. “After all, Andre told me that he has your parents. He could have gotten such information from them.”

“But why would he have any interest in her?” questioned Holly. “I mean, she’s not a direct threat to him.”

“No, she’s not,” Alan agreed.

“But she’s a Foreseer, Holly,” Andre said as if the answer was obvious. “If Henri is planning something for the ICW, I don’t think he wants a Foreseer to somehow catch a glimpse at those plans before he has a chance to act upon them.”

“Andre’s right,” Alan said. “After all, if Henri is planning to get revenge on the mortals, he would make sure that everything goes according to plan and that nothing gets leaked out somehow.”

“Eternal Division being chosen for the ICW wasn’t due to chance, was it?” said Holly. “But when Jamie brought up that the letter Jason had sent her told her she needed two more members, how did he know that she would ask Mandy and I to fill in those two roles?”

“He didn’t. He hoped that that’s what would happen, but he didn’t know for sure,” Alan explained.

“Most of the cliques were chosen based off chance,” Andre clarified, “but there are a couple that weren’t.”

Holly parked herself in front of the kitchen area. “Which one other than the United States was that?”

Silence was the reply.

“Well?” said Holly impatiently.

“We can’t say,” Alan said. “It’s classified.”

“And who am I going to tell?”

Alan and Andre glanced at each other briefly as if they were silently determining whether to answer Holly’s question or not.

It was Andre who finally gave a response: “The clique from Russia.”

 

~~~

 

Once she had fallen asleep, Mandy found herself in a small clearing that was surrounded by woods. She started to pace, keeping her head low, feeling more alive than she had in a long time.

“Mandy,” a voice said from behind her, “I am very glad to see you again.”

Mandy turned around only to see that it was Henri. “Holly denied it,” she said, “when I asked her if she had blocked my visions.”

“Of course she did,” said Henri, seeming amused. “Did you expect her to reveal her intentions to you?”

“I—” Mandy started to say but stopped.

“I’m surprised that she hasn’t attempted to heal you,” Henri continued, outstretching his hand towards her, “so that you are well enough to go to the ICW. I can do just that.”

Mandy accepted his offer, and he placed both hands over hers. She gazed into his eyes, and instantly, she began to feel rejuvenated—more than she had felt previously.

After a few seconds, Henri removed his hands from hers. He tilted her chin upwards so as to get a better look at her face. “I can see the mortal presence within your eyes,” said Henri. “It’s growing inside of you, attempting to consume you.”

“Can you make it go away?” Mandy asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Henri shook his head. “Tell me, have the mortals shared with you their plans?”

“I assumed they have none,” said Mandy a little too quickly.

“Jason is hosting the ICW,” Henri said. “You don’t consider that to be part of a plan? They’re waging war against me; I know they are.”

Mandy stared at him skeptically. “If they wanted to wage war, don’t you think that they would have done so by now?”

“Perhaps,” said Henri, “but it is still too early to shake off the possibility of war. Have the mortals told you anything?”

“No,” said Mandy. “I’m afraid they have not.”

Henri seemed displeased by this. “Why haven’t they?”

“I have no idea,” said Mandy. “And why would they reveal anything to me, anyway, if you claim that they were the ones responsible for blocking my visions?”

Henri ignored her last statement. “Sometime in December, I will visit you again, and when I do, you better have something to tell me.” Then, he disappeared, leaving her to feel more rejuvenated than she had all that week.

Chapter Five

Melissa was running late.

Almost twenty-four hours ago, she had received a message from Henri Anderson, telling her that the meeting was going to take place at noon in Greenwich. Which meant that the Night Cult had to leave Seattle close to four in the morning in order to accommodate the time zone difference.

It was currently three-forty-five, and she was waiting on Rosalie. The others were already ready, standing impatiently in the foyer of the old building.

“When the clock strikes four, leave without us,” Melissa said to the others. “Tell Henri that we will probably be a little late.” Then, she went back upstairs in order to check on Rosalie.

When Melissa stumbled upon Rosalie, she was sitting on the bed in the room that was provided for her, staring out the window.

“Rosalie!” called Melissa. “I thought that you were getting ready.”

Rosalie barely glanced in Melissa’s direction. Instead, she continued to stare out the window.

“Rosalie, we’re going to be late,” said Melissa. “We need to go.”

Rosalie sighed. “Do I have to go?”

Melissa took a seat next to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Rosalie paused as she searched for the right words, “you and Sarah have been especially kind to me since Kendra’s death, and I honestly can’t thank you enough. But do I seriously have to do this?”

“If you want to join the side that is fighting against the ones who had staged Kendra’s death, you will do this,” said Melissa. “The path of immortality offers great rewards.”

“But what if I don’t want…to become immortal?” questioned Rosalie. “What if I don’t want to become a witch?”

This time, Melissa heaved a sigh. “The process won’t hurt,” she said. “You’ll still be yourself even after you are immortal. You’ll just be…stronger.”

Rosalie turned to look at Melissa. “Are you sure?”

Melissa nodded. “Henri is delighted to welcome you into our family.”

The clock suddenly struck four-o’-clock.

“Come on,” said Melissa as she outstretched her hand towards Rosalie. “The others have already left, and the power of immortality awaits you.”

Reluctantly, Rosalie took Melissa’s hand.

After whispering a spell that would lock every aspect of the building from the outside in order to make sure that none of the interns escaped, Melissa envisioned the interior entrance of the Greenwich castle. Black smoke engulfed her as well as Rosalie, sending them spiraling into the black void.

By the time they had reached the castle, it was only five after twelve. Much to Melissa’s surprise, they weren’t terribly late.

The meeting hadn’t even started by the time they had taken their seats, even though everyone except for them were already seated. All three immortal groups.

Henri sat at the head of the table, staring at Melissa with a blank expression. In return, she stared at him as she made Rosalie sit beside her.

“I’m sorry that I’m late, Henri,” Melissa apologized. “I ran into some…problems with my guest.”

Henri didn’t seem amused by Melissa’s excuse. “Might I remind you, Melissa, that it was your idea to bring a guest to this meeting?”

Melissa sunk lower into her seat. There was always something about Henri Anderson that made her blood boil.

“I called this meeting today in order to discuss our plan for the ICW.” Henri began the meeting. “Kat.”

Melissa watched as one of the Dark Rulers—Kat Reid—turned her head to look at Henri, her wavy, brown hair flying out of her face. “What is it?” she asked.

“Have you succeeded in what I asked of you?” Henri questioned. “Are you a chaperone at this winter’s ICW?”

Smiling, Kat nodded her head. “I will be there.”

Seeming pleased, Henri then addressed the rest of the magic users. “Now, I have also taken the liberty of recruiting a couple of other people who can serve some use to us at the ICW,” he said. “One is Jeffery Speirs, and the other is a Foreseer, whom I have been communicating with in her dreams.”

“A Foreseer?” someone questioned, and Melissa couldn’t help but notice that it was Victoria Osborn, one of the Dark Guard.

Henri nodded. “Someone whom I know had aided the mortals with Roseway a little,” he explained. “I have blocked her visions and made her believe that the mortals are the true enemies. She is more than happy to spy on the mortals for me as well, and in return, I will give her her visions back.”

“What’s he talking about?” Rosalie whispered to Melissa.

Melissa didn’t answer her, for she didn’t feel like telling Rosalie that Mandy was the one who Henri was referring to. In order to make sure that Rosalie remained on their side, she needed to make sure that Rosalie didn’t know that a few of the people she had known for years were on the opposing side.

“Melissa,” Henri said suddenly, “would you mind introducing your human guest and your request?”

Melissa stood up, yanking Rosalie to her feet as well. “This is Rosalie Franklin,” she said, “and I was wondering if you, Henri, would be willing to transform her into an immortal witch.”

Henri pondered this for a moment. “What makes you think that I’d do this?”

“Well, she recently lost her best friend to the mortals, and she wants revenge on them,” Melissa said, feeling Rosalie’s arm shake in her grip.

Henri nodded slowly. “They did, didn’t they?” he said as a smile stretched across his lips. “Tell me, Rosalie, do you truly feel that way?”

Rosalie slowly nodded, and Melissa could tell that she was a little scared.

“Will you be able to do so?” questioned Melissa.

“Yes,” said Henri, “but I’m afraid that I don’t have a couple of the ingredients.”

“What do you need?” asked Melissa. “I can get them for you.”

“There is no need, for they are rather simple. The first ingredient I need is the magic from a mortal magic user, which can be found in their blood and extracted by killing them. One of the two adult captives will suffice, I believe.” Henri paused. “The second one will be a little trickier, but I know someone who would be able to obtain some. The second ingredient that I am lacking is human blood from another source.”

Melissa felt Rosalie tense slightly at the thought of human blood being one of the ingredients. “Who do you have in mind?”

Instead of answering her, Henri started mumbling in French in an attempt to summon a spirit. And Melissa knew exactly which one he was trying to summon.

Rebecca Johnson.

The lights in the meeting room all went out at once, and the temperature of the room began to drop rapidly. Even though Melissa was used to the sudden change in temperature, she knew that Rosalie was not, and therefore, she did her best to keep Rosalie as warm as possible with her magic.

White smoke that began to rotate counter-clockwise appeared, and when it finally dissipated, it left behind a girl. Melissa whispered a spell to Rosalie so that she could see the new arrival.

This made Rosalie tense again.

“Henri,” the new arrival—Rebecca—greeted. “What made you summon me?”

“I require your assistance,” said Henri, motioning towards Rosalie. “That human wishes to become an immortal witch, and I need you to get us some human blood for the transformation potion.”

Rebecca turned her attention towards the human. “You want to become immortal?” she questioned in amusement. “It’s a shame what happened to your friend.”

“Wait, how do you know—” Rosalie started to say, but a squeeze from Melissa made her shut up.

“Rebecca,” Henri warned. “Can you get us some blood?”

“Yeah, I can get you some blood,” said Rebecca. “Does it matter what type it is?”

Henri shook his head.

“Then, I know the perfect person who would be more than happy to give us blood,” Rebecca declared.

Just then, Rosalie began to say something else, and this time, Melissa made no effort to stop her. “You look just like…this one person whom I have known for years,” she said, not mentioning names.

Rebecca turned her attention to Rosalie. “Do I?” she questioned as if she had no idea who Rosalie was referring to. Yet, Melissa could see right through that façade.

Rosalie nodded, but much to Melissa’s amazement, she didn’t say any more on the subject.

Rebecca turned back to Henri. “It might take me a while in order to obtain it, but I will get the blood as soon as I can,” she said before she disappeared.

“Bruce and Dimitri,” Henri said after Rebecca’s departure, “will you go and fetch Jeffery Speirs? I wish to speak with him now.”

Melissa watched as Bruce Jones, one of the Dark Guard, and Dimitri Andreivich, one of the Night Cult, left their seats and went toward the dungeon. After they entered the dungeon, a few minutes passed before they had returned, each holding an arm of Jeffery.

Melissa knew that Jeffery had seen better days, especially the day when she had captured him. He looked rather weak and decrepit, and she couldn’t help but notice that he had lost some weight.

“Jeffery,” Henri greeted, approaching the mortal prince as Bruce and Dimitri took a couple of steps back. “How are you?”

Jeffery didn’t answer him but instead kept staring at the floor.

“You will return to your father soon just in time for the ICW,” said Henri, and with that sentence, he finally gained Jeffery’s attention. “Would you like that?”

“What,” Jeffery took a breath, “do you want me to do?”

Henri smiled. “You’re rather eager to receive your task, aren’t you?”

Jeffery didn’t respond.

“I already have two spies on the inside. You will be the third, and I believe that you will be able to get your father to reveal things about his plan that the other two cannot,” Henri explained. “Are you willing to do so?”

Melissa knew that Jeffery didn’t have a choice, and she saw him nod slightly, thereby accepting that task.

“Do not fail me,” Henri warned as Bruce and Dimitri one again grasped Jeffery’s arms. “By succeeding, you will keep your life.”

The last thing that Melissa saw was Jeffery being taken back to the dungeon, and with that, the meeting was adjourned.