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It always watching [animation] by Hekkoto
by Hekkoto

Wow. This is freaking creepy. Have you posted this on Creepypasta yet? If not, you should. I love the staticy style of the picture. It ...

Kurumi NightMare BloodyRain TurnBack Time by Bloody-Prison-Rose

I can't confess to knowing much about this character. But the skill with which you drew her is impressive. I'm especially impressed by ...

Provocative Elsa by Nippy13
by Nippy13

First of all, let me say that this is unbelievably hot. I love the black and white for everything except the eyes. And the fact that yo...

Elsa's curiosity (Anime version) by NamyGaga

In retrospect you have a point, but I believe that Elsa's body is consistently releasing cryokinetic power, so her dress would not just...

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It always watching [animation] by Hekkoto
Wow. This is freaking creepy. Have you posted this on Creepypasta yet? If not, you should. I love the staticy style of the picture. It makes it look like the painting itself is cursed somehow. And the title, It's Always Watching. Just perfect, really.

And the painting itself is extremely creepy with the black and white mask. It could really be a demon or a cursed human or something. I am not even quite sure what to call it. Either way, superb job on the picture. Whoever is being watched by it is surely doomed, o, frightening and demonic painter of evil. May you continue to haunt many a dream with your terrifying artwork.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Fourteen

“Hey, Lillian! We were worried you wouldn’t make it! The lights are already flickering to signal the start of the show! So, you decided to bring Nikolaas after all.  That’s great!” Dubhglas said cheerfully.
“Big Brother…  I’d like you to meet Nikolaas…  I apologize, Nikolaas, but what was your last name again?” Lillian asked politely, smiling at Erich and Saki.
“Van Schorel, Miss Vesperin…  Ah…  Lillian…”
“Good evening, Mr. Van Schorel…  I gather from Dubhglas that you are quite the musician…  You are a student at Julliard for piano?”
“Y-yes, sir…  You’re her elder brother? I-it’s a pleasure to meet you.  I have heard about you from Lillian.  She spoke well of you in her interviews…”
“I am gratified to hear that.  It is good to meet you as well…  May I speak to Lillian for a moment? Please go in ahead of us.  You as well, Saki-chan…”
“O-of course, Erich…  We’ll see you inside…”

“Lillian…”
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was going to bring a date…  I thought…”
“Do not apologize.  I am glad to see that you are making an honest and concerted effort to expand your romantic horizons beyond your attraction to me.  Do you like him? He seems an intelligent, polite and talented boy.  He is slightly young for you.  However, that is not anything uncommon for the Zann Family.”
“He was nice company.  I don’t know if I feel anything as serious as romantic attraction to him.  B-but I would like to get to know him a bit better…  I-I just don’t want to lose you, Big Brother…  Please promise you won’t leave me if I begin to become attracted to someone else…”
“Lillian…” Erich said kindly, kneeling down to look Lillian directly in the eyes with his startlingly deep violet ones.  “I would never leave you, no matter what happens.  I am happy that you are spending time with other people, and I encourage it fully.  Now, let us go in to the opera.” Erich said, kissing Lillian gently on the cheek, his lips ice cold against her cheek.  Lillian blushed slightly and followed him into the opera house.  They walked into the upper balcony where they sat with Dubhglas and the others just as the opera began.  Nikolaas sat enthralled by the amazing singing.  He had never actually seen an opera before, though he had certainly always wanted to.  Now that he was at one, he was feeling a little bit intimidated by the sheer excellence of the talent that had gone into putting it together.  And on that note, he still wasn’t quite sure how he had managed to get a date with one of the greatest and most famous pianists in hundreds of years.  And beyond that, he was now sitting next to her in a balcony seat at the Metropolitan Opera House.  He found himself worrying that he wasn’t interesting enough.  After all, he had come from a small town in Northern Holland, a cold little place where everyone knew everyone else and there was no such thing as a stranger.  Everyone in his town was neighbors with everyone else, and visitors to town were so rare that they were met with shock and skepticism rather than actual suspicion.  Usually any visitors were actually just family members of a townsperson come to visit.  There was one store, one gas station, one doctor.  
It was amazing really that Nikolaas’s town remained so small for so many hundreds of years when the rest of the world was expanding as it was.  But his part of Holland preferred to remain quiet and relatively isolated.  With his talent, he was only too happy to leave for America.  He had, ever since he was very young and first started learning to play the piano harbored the desire to eventually meet his inspiration.  And now that he finally was, he was having trouble even concentrating on the opera.  The music was beautiful, but Lillian was even more so.

Once intermission came, Nikolaas stood and went down to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water before heading back to the balcony box where the rest of the group was sitting, waiting patiently for the opera to start again.  Nikolaas wondered how they could all be so content to just sit still like that for hours on end.  He was enjoying the opera, but the intermission was there for a reason.  It just had to happen, though.  Erich had felt it when he first came to the Metropolitan Opera House.  This was just too easy.  They had encountered no resistance thus far from the Inconnu.  They had to know that Erich and his allies were in New York.  There was no reason for them not to.  Frankly, Erich had been worried all evening.  Of course, intermission had to be where it went wrong.
Suddenly, Erich heard the most obnoxious voice in the world speaking to someone…  Not to them, but he could hear it getting closer.  Well, he had always felt it was.  In truth, Carmilla had a very nice voice and was a good singer.  But Erich hated everything about her, and her voice was no exception.
“Good evening Carmilla.  How are you doing this evening?” Erich asked coldly, not turning around to face Carmilla.  “Are you enjoying the opera?”
“I can’t say that I am, Erich…  I’ve never had much of a liking for operas…  They’re so boring.” Carmilla said, yawning widely.  Lillian and Nikolaas turned to look at her distastefully.
“Then why have you come? Have you merely come to bother us? Or have you got a substantial reason for being here?” Erich asked icily.  Carmilla pouted.
“Can’t I just come to see my own big brother?”
“Which sister is this, Lillian?” Nikolaas whispered.  Carmilla heard him, though, and turned to him, looking him over.
“Hm…  Well…  I must say, I kinda hoped you at least would have better taste in men, Lillian, sweetie…  Come on…  You’re a world famous pianist.  You’re drop dead gorgeous.  You have impeccable fashion sense and you’re one of the most talented women I know.  On top of that, you can still fight better than the best trained members of my organization, and you waste your time with this nobody? What, is he a first year student at some second-rate piano school?” Carmilla asked disdainfully, her mention of Lillian’s relative charms in comparison to Nikolaas’s inexperience only making him feel more out of place.”
“Carmilla…  First of all, I don’t see how it’s your business who I spend my time with.  Second of all, he’s a student and Julliard, which means he is inherently more talented than you…” Lillian replied mockingly.  “And third, he’s a very nice person who…”
“Who probably told you he’s your biggest fan, blah, blah, blah…  He loves your music; blah, blah, blah…  Am I on the right track here?”
“I-I am a fan of hers, Ms. Zann…  I-it’s nice to meet you.  You’re Mr. Zann’s sister?”
“Well…  Half-sister…  We have the same father, but different mothers.  At least you’re polite to your superiors…”
Hearing this, Lillian laughed disdainfully.
“I hope you aren’t referring to yourself, Carmilla! The day I call you my superior is the day I cut out my own tongue and eat it…”
“Shut up, you stupid little bitch…  Have you told your little boyfriend yet how long you chased after your own cousin in a pathetic and hopeless attempt to get him to love you? Erich only ever felt sorry for you.  He felt guilty that he didn’t act sooner and pitied how completely pathetic you were…  You mistook that for love, and deluded yourself into thinking that he cared about you…  That’s what a fool does! And you’re still a fool! Even now you lie to yourself, telling yourself that he loves you when inside you know he doesn’t! Any chance, miniscule though it was of him ever loving you died when Saki came along!”
Carmilla saw that her words had had their effect on Lillian, who was almost in tears, now, struggling not to break down.
Sh-she’s lying…  Big Brother does love me! He told me so himself…  He told me that he isn’t in love with me, but that I’ve always been important to him…  But…  W-what if he was lying? Maybe I really was only ever there to keep him from feeling alone in life…  Now that he has such great friends…  How long will he still need me?
Lillian fretted over this for a moment until Saki put a hand on Lillian’s shoulder and used telepathy to reassure her.
Lillian…  Do you really have so little faith in Erich? If you really love him like you say you do, trust him.  Trust that he loves you, that he won’t abandon you.
But…
Carmilla seems to have a way of playing on people’s innate fears.  She’s playing on baseless fears of yours right now.  Don’t let her see your weaknesses.  You know Erich better than anyone.  You should understand better even than I that he would never do something as disrespectful as feel pity for you, nor would he ever see you as pathetic.  Talk to him later.
I… I will.  Th-thank you Saki-chan.
“Carmilla.  Is there a reason you came here? If not, I really must ask you to leave.  Lillian is actually having a good time and she has finally found someone that she can relate to.”
“Leave? Why would I leave? It’s so much fun tormenting you…  But you’re right.  It’s not nearly as tasteful as I pictured it in my head.  I was sort of hoping that I could convince Lillian to commit suicide.  But I can’t leave.  I have tickets to the opera as well.  It’s a well deserved break from business.  Just enjoy the opera.  I’m in the balcony box right next to yours actually…  I’m surprised you didn’t notice me.  Well, the lights are flashing…  Later…” Carmilla said carelessly, flouncing off with the same overly dramatic flair that she usually had.
“Calm down, Brother.  You will do naught but give yourself migraines by letting yourself be so angered by her.” Elain said coolly.  Erich sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before nodding.
“You know, for one who’s lived so long and learned so much, you really ought to take your own advice sometimes…” Abigail said, walking back into the balcony seat and sitting down.
“Yes.  It would not be a bad idea.  However, over the years I have found that she is one of the few people who can truly make me angry.  It must mean that I care about her somehow.”
“Sorry? I don’t see how you could go from hating someone’s very being to caring about them.” Abigail said, lowering her voice as the opera began again.  Dubhglas nodded in agreement.  Erich closed his eyes and connected telepathically to everyone in the group.  All of them seemed slightly confused except for Elain who either understood or didn’t care.
“You see, to be able to feel such an intense emotion as ‘hatred’ for someone, you must have a certain level of closeness to that person.  That closeness usually manifests itself as caring about the person in some way.  It does not mean that you must love them or even like them.  But you must care about their opinion, or care that they are somehow connected to you.  In my case, I believe that I am embarrassed that such a detestable person could be related to me, though I do not consider myself better as a person than she is.  It is merely that I do not like the feeling of knowing that someone so cruel and psychotic is a member of my immediate family.”
Even Elain had to admit that she was impressed by the deeply philosophical nature of what Erich had said.  She had known he was intelligent, but she hadn’t known that he was such an academic, though what she was expecting she wasn’t really sure.  She only knew that he was extremely strong as well and that he had trained in multiple martial arts styles.

The rest of the opera went well, and after it was over, they left quickly so they wouldn’t be caught up in the mad rush at the end.  Then Dubhglas used his teleportation to bring everyone back to the apartment.  He then grabbed Lillian’s arm and Nikolaas’s arm and pulled them tightly to him and teleported them back to Julliard.
“I’ll be over here.  Whenever you’re done, just come find me.” Dubhglas said to Lillian.  Lillian nodded and looked at Nikolaas, who seemed happy, but distressed at the same time that their date was already over.
“Y-you know…  I was never very popular back in my hometown.  I had a few friends, but I was always shy and withdrawn…  I didn’t have an easy time talking to others.  So it was nice to spend time with you today…  I never guessed you would be such an…  Ordinary person…”
“How did you imagine me, then?” Lillian asked.  It wasn’t a challenge.  Simply a question.
“Well…  I don’t know…  First of all, I suppose I pictured you much older, so when…”
“I told you, I am much older.  I’m 168 years old.  I only look fifteen.” Lillian said.  Nikolaas nodded.
“Right…  Erm…  Thank you for spending this time with me today…  A-are you going to be in the city for long?”
“Well…  I’m not really sure…  It’s just that my Big Brother, Saki, and the others are travelling a lot, and so we’re never in one place for very long.”
“O-oh…  Well…  Do you think I could see you once more before you leave the city?”
“Yeah…  This is my current address…  Make sure you don’t lose this paper.  It would be bad if it fell into the wrong hands…”
“Huh? Why?” Nikolaas asked, taking the slip of paper and putting it in his pocket.  Lillian sighed.
“It’s a long story.  Maybe one day I can tell you, but for now you wouldn’t understand…  I’ll hope to see you again…” Lillian said, kissing Nikolaas and walking back to Dubhglas, who drew her close and teleported away.

“Welcome back.” Annabelle said, bowing politely as the group walked in.  As usual, she was dressed in an elegant but very austere dress.  It was black and seemed to be made of a very light material and had no sleeves and a low back.  It was only now that Erich really realized just how very long Annabelle’s hair was.  At the moment, her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and if fell to her lower back.  Her breath was still fogging as she breathed, though she seemed to breathe much less often than a normal person.
“B…  Erich…  Can I talk to you? Alone?” Lillian asked.  Erich nodded and requested a room where they could be alone.  Dubhglas nodded and led them to a room where they could sit and be comfortable.  Erich sat down next to Lillian, pulling her close.  Though his skin was cold, he had become much more open and sentimental since he awoke.  Lillian was glad to see that Erich was coming out of his shell.
“Now, what is wrong?”
“I…  You know what’s wrong!” Lillian shouted, turning slightly pink.  Erich nodded.
“I do know.  I only wish to hear you say it.  Saying something out loud often helps to make it more real to you.”
“W-why did you take me in over a century ago? Carmilla said that you just felt sorry for me and felt guilty about not helping sooner.”
“Do you believe Carmilla? Do you think that is why I took you in? What is your opinion on the matter? What are your observations?”
“Well, you always said…”
“Forget what I have said.  People say many things.  That does not mean that they are true.  My behavior is what defines how I see you.”
“Well…  I-I don’t know…  I’ve never had to worry about it before…” Lillian muttered, feeling extremely nervous and self conscious.  She was really being put on the spot.
“That is true.  Nobody has ever forced you to reconsider our relationship.  Nobody has ever challenged whether I truly love you because they see my superficial behaviors and how I speak to you and assume that is all there is to it.”
“A-are you saying that you don’t love me?” Lillian gasped, looking like she was ready to be sick.
“I am saying no such thing.  I am merely telling you that you cannot form opinions based only on what someone has told you.  You must form your own opinion based on observations you have made.  You have observed my aura on many occasions.  How has that seemed to you?”
“Well…  I-I guess I always knew that you felt no romantic feelings for me…  I-I just didn’t want to believe it.  And your aura always seemed  brighter when you were around me.  I never really dug any deeper than that.”
“Very well.  What observations have you made on my behavior around me?” Erich asked, showing all the patience of an immortal being.
“Well, even after you fell in love with Saki-chan, you were always kind to me.  You always seemed to enjoy my company.  In the past, you were the one that taught me to play piano…  I became world famous because of that.  You’ve taken care of me for a good portion of my life.  Even when I couldn’t walk, you never backed down from caring for me…  I-I know you love me…”
“I am glad to hear you say that.  When this is over, I promise you that Saki-chan and I will involve you in our new life.”
“Thank you, Big Brother…  I look forward to it.”
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Thirteen

“Okay…  Raise your hands if you’ve been to the Big Apple before!” Dubhglas said cheerfully.  Jessica and Allen both raised their hands, but none of the others did.
“When was the last time you were in New York, Allen and Jessie?”
“Do not call me ‘Jessie’! But I haven’t actually been to New York City in at least thirty or forty years.  I lived in New York for about forty years between the 1970s and about 2010.  But then I… Pursued other opportunities.  Long story.”
“And you, Allen?”
“’Bout fifty or sixty years ago.  I was in America training Special Ops forces in the military and CIA.  It was alright…”
“Lillian? Elain? Neither of you have been to New York before?”
“Elain has never been to New York City?” Dubhglas asked suspiciously.  He was sure that of the group, those two at least would have been to New York at least once.
“You know I have, Dubhglas…  I went to Julliard years ago.  I did become pretty famous for a while…” Lillian said, blushing slightly.
“Oh, that’s right…  You play the keyboard…”
“Piano…  I play the piano.  A keyboard is what someone in a rock band plays.  I play real music, thank you very much…”
“Of course.  Do you still wanna come out for the day with us? We’re gonna go see the sights, and I have plans to end the day at The Metropolitan Opera.  They’re featuring Der Vampyr…  It is a German opera…”
“Elain knows of the opera, Der Vampyr.  She has memorized several of the songs from it.  Brother would like the opera.  He always enjoyed the book ‘The Vampyr’, or so Father said.  It is a shame that he is not going to be there.”
“Oh, I have a suspicion that Erich will get there somehow.  Let’s go.  Rael, sweetie…  Have you ever been to New York?” Dubhglas said with a mischievous wink.
“I-I can’t say that I have…  P-please don’t call me ‘sweetie’…  I-it ma…”
“Please do not concern yourself overly much with my husband’s tendency to flirt with every girl he meets.  He means no harm by it…” Annabelle said, drifting into the room, seeming even paler than the previous night, her blue eyes seeming even colder and paler than before.  Furthermore, she had no apparent gait, seeming rather to float into the room, or glide across the thin sheen of ice that was doubtless on the kitchen floor.
“O-okay, Mrs. Mac Naoimhín…”
“Please call me Annabelle.  You are our guests.  I will unfortunately not be joining you for the opera.  I do love operas, and I am particularly fond of Heinrich Marschner.  However, it is far too warm outside, and without proper insulation, I would likely melt.  Besides, I have seen plenty of videos of the opera…”
“It must be hard, Annabelle.  Not being able to pursue the life you want because of your curse…” Rael said sadly.  Annabelle grabbed Rael’s arm, lowering her entire body’s temperature to the point that Rael’s skin began to pale and she began shivering violently, even with her coat on, and her lips began to turn blue.  Annabelle noted with grim satisfaction that Rael was suffering.
“I do not want your pity.  Do not pity those who do not want it or you will find yourself alienated from those you once called friends.  Now go upstairs or you will find yourself suffering unnecessarily.” Annabelle said apathetically.
“S-s-sorry…”
“Apology accepted…  You are not in any condition right now to go out right now.  Go upstairs and wrap up.  You may join us later for the opera.  You had a question for me, though.” Annabelle said, looking expectantly at Rael.
“Oh…  Y-you never seem to take a single step do you float? Or maybe you can glide…”
“Neither of those is true.  I cannot float or glide.  I have no levitation or telekinetic ability.  Rather, consider this home my domain.  I have connected myself to the very ‘soul’ of this house, and that allows me certain liberties when I am inside.  You see… inside this house, my ability to control cold and ice is increased, and as I move across the floor, the molecular composition of the floor alters itself slightly to more resemble ice, allowing me to essentially ‘skate’.  I could of course also just teleport wherever I like in the house.  However, that would be more dangerous.  You see, if I were to teleport into a wall, I would undoubtedly be stuck forever as my powers would subconsciously begin to merge with the wall, turning it into an unbelievably dense form of ice that would resist even the most powerful instruments.  I doubt that even Erich would be able to break me out.  And if he was able, he would likely not only break his hand, but also several parts of my own body.”
Annabelle looked around and saw that only Rael looked like she understood what she had just said.  There was no point in simplifying the impossibly complicated.  So she refrained from attempting to simplify it and simply wished them a good day.
“Now…  Doctor Meiyer…  You will go upstairs and receive treatment for hypothermia.  Dubhglas may not look it.  But he is an accomplished doctor.  His powers allow him to accelerate the body’s own heat generation.  Thus, his power is the perfect counter to my own.  I could freeze him.  But he would just heat up his body and melt the ice with perfect efficiency.  Think of his power like that of a microwave without the electromagnetic radiation.  Rather, I suppose it is fair to say that he superexcites the blood and cells in the body so that the body heats up.”
“Couldn’t that be dangerous in the extreme?”
“Anything can be dangerous if done in excess.  Too much broccoli… Too much asparagus…  Too many Aspirin pills.  All of these can be dangerous, nay deadly in excess.  Our relationship has lasted for a long time because we are no threat to each other.  Now, Dubhglas will take you out.  Doctor Meiyer will go upstairs and rest…  Actually, Doctor Meiyer, you should go out as well.  Stay close to Dubhglas.  He can heal you as long as his body is in contact with yours.

Dubhglas smiled and breathed deeply the city air.  The city was certainly much less crowded than Lillian remembered.  It was true that the world population was by necessity dropping slightly.  It was down to about five billion, and still going down.  He gently took Rael’s arm and activated his power, causing Rael to gasp as heat flooded her body.  She sighed in relief as over the next minute or two, her body heat rose back to its normal temperature and Dubhglas let go of her.
“Well…  Where would you like to go first? I’ve seen everything in New York, but…”
“I’d sort of like to see Julliard again.” Lillian said.  Dubhglas shrugged and nodded, turning left and taking them to the famous musical academy.

“Hm…  Well…  It looks the same as it did twenty years ago.” Lillian said, walking in with her friends.  They were stopped at the front gate by a tall and menacing looking guard.
“Do you have student ID’s? We don’t let people who don’t attend here in.” The guard said, using rather poor English.
“I’m an alumnus, Gerard.  Don’t you remember me? You were much younger then, but you were still a guard here.”
“Hmm…  Wait…  Miss Vesperina? Why…  You don’t look more than a year older than I remember you…  It’s been over 40 years…  What’s up with that?”
“It’s a long story.  I just came with my friends to show them around.”
“Of course…  Go on in…” Gerard said politely, watching as Lillian walked past with her friends.  She led them into the school showing them the different rooms.  It was a big group, and finally, they got to a room with a grand piano.  Minerva jumped at this, and ran over to it, sitting down and stretching her fingers out.
“Um, Minerva…  Maybe you shouldn’t do that…”
“No, it’s alright…  She can’t hurt it…” Lillian said, quelling Gareth’s nervousness.  Minerva sighed and began playing a beautiful melody that only Lillian recognized.  It was Chopin’s Fantasy on Polish Air in A-Major.  Lillian was duly impressed with Minerva’s playing, and it seemed that everyone else was as well, because before long, she had a much larger audience than just her small group of friends and family.  Over thirty people, students and staff alike were standing there, enthralled by her playing.  As soon as Minerva stopped, she turned around, shocked to find that she had been playing for such a large audience.
“Um…  Sorry…  I-I love the piano, and I haven’t played in a while, so…”
“Did you play that piece by memory, young lady?” A teacher asked.  He was tall and had long spidery fingers.  His hair was long and turning gray.  His glasses were slipping down his face, and he seemed to be completely disheveled.
“Um…  Y-yes, sir…  I learned Chopin’s Fantasy on Polish Air in A-Major for my eighth grade talent show.  Like I said, I haven’t played it in at least two years, so it may not be as good as it should be…”
“You played it almost perfectly…  Have you ever considered taking up a career in music?” The teacher asked.  She was certainly good enough to get a scholarship to Julliard.
“I’m only fifteen.  I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my life.  I-I never meant to perform in front of all of you.  I apologize for disturbing you.” Minerva muttered, slightly embarrassed that so many people had been watching her.  She had certainly performed in public in the past.  However, somehow now it felt different.  Now, she was being watched by some of the greatest musicians in the world, and that made her terribly nervous.
“Well…  It’s never too early to consider formal training in music.  Have you received any formal lessons before?”
“I have had some formal lessons.  Mostly I just practice on my own…  It’s easier, and my mom taught me a bit of piano…”
“I’m amazed…  So who are your friends? I don’t…  Wait…  Miss Vesperina?”
“Please just call me Lillian…  It’s a pleasure to see you again, professor.” Lillian said politely, bowing to the teacher.”
“You still don’t look a day over fifteen…  I knew you seemed to age slowly, but…”
“It’s a long story, professor.  Please don’t mind me…”
“You always were very demure… Lillian.  Enjoy your stay in New York…  Alright, kids…  Get back to class…”
“Wait…” One boy said, walking over to Lillian and waiting for her to acknowledge him.
“Yes? Is something wrong?”
“No…  It’s just; well I remember admiring your music during my childhood.  You’re the reason I decided to take up piano.  I was lucky enough to be accepted to Julliard…  I…  It’s an honor to meet you…”
“Thank you…  I apologize, but I have to go.  We’re on a schedule today…”
“O-of course…  C-could you sign this for me? My friends won’t believe I actually met Lillian Vesperina…”
“I-I didn’t realize I was that famous anymore…  I did stop playing over thirty years ago…  I think…”
“Your music still circulates amongst classical music lovers…  Thank you so much.  Bye…”
“I think that boy had an eye for you.  You could’ve invited him to join us for the day.  We wouldn’t have minded…” Dubhglas said with a mild laugh.
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to.  It’s flattering having fans like this, but I want to keep my professional life and my personal life separate…  Besides, I learned long ago that Big Brother is the only one for me…”
“That’s sweet, Lillian…” Minerva said, looking down at the girl who, despite appearing about the same age, was much shorter, still barely breaking five feet.  “But have you ever really given anyone else a chance to get close to you like Mr. Zann…?”
“Of course.  I dated a few people in high school, and I went on a date with Alois just a few months ago.” Lillian said dismissively.  Minerva sighed.
“Yeah, but did you really give them a chance to have you see them as more than just a temporary date? I’ve dated boys that I only had a passing interest in as well.  They asked me out and I said yes.   That doesn’t mean that I wanted to be close to them or had any interest in loving them.  From what Daddy has told me, you’ve only had eyes for Mr. Zann for over a hundred years, and he’s never once reciprocated your feelings.  Am I wrong in believing that?”
“Well…  N-no, b-but…”
“But nothing…  Mr. Zann isn’t in love with you.  He’s in love with Yoshino-sensei.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with him not feeling the same way about you.  But seriously, you’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re talented.  You could get any number of boys to fall for you.  You should at least give someone else a chance instead of tormenting yourself pining for something that’s never going to happen.”
“That’s not fair! Big Brother…” Lillian began…  But suddenly her entire argument deflated.  She felt completely defeated.  She had known it all along, just as Minerva had picked up on it so quickly.  Erich wasn’t in love with her.  He never had been and he never would be.  She knew that he loved her, but as the sister that he didn’t have in either of his half-sisters.  Carmilla was a psychotic, psychopathic monster and Elain was…  She defied absolute description.  She was just so emotionless that you couldn’t possibly feel close to her.  Lillian knew her place in Erich’s world, and slowly, she realized, she was coming to accept it.  Perhaps she should consider putting herself out there as they said.
“Y-you’re right…  I-I guess I knew that our relationship wasn’t like that…” Lillian said, feeling defeated and miserable and suddenly exhausted.  A moment later, Lillian felt tears stinging her eyes.  She tried not to cry.  She didn’t feel that crying was productive.  It was good for nothing other than gaining the misplaced pity of others.
“M-Miss Vesperina? A-are you alright?” The boy from before asked, approaching Lillian again.  Minerva cut him off, though.
“Not now! Just…  Go back to class or something!”
“Today is Saturday.”
“N-no…  It’s alright…  What is your name?” Lillian asked, wiping her eyes and steeling herself again, looking at the boy with her large amber eyes.  She watched the boy fidget nervously.
“Nikolaas Van Schorel…” Nikolaas blurted out a little too loudly.
“Okay, Nikolaas…  I thought your accent sounded Dutch.  Let’s see…  I haven’t spoken Dutch Esperanto in ages…”
“N-no need! I’m fluent in English…” Nikolaas said quickly.
“Okay.  Would you like to join us today? We’re just walking around the city, but you’re welcome to come along…”
“R-really? I-I can…  Yes…  I’d be glad to…  Th-thank you…” Nikolaas said, hurrying after the group.  

It was a warm, beautiful day.  Lillian wanted to go to Central Park and go people watching.  It was certainly the perfect day for that.  In late spring, with summer just around the bend people were out in droves to enjoy the outdoors.  Although Lillian voiced this desire, the group as a whole didn’t have the time to go people watching all day and still get to Der Vampyr by 8:30.  So they told Lillian that she was free to go off on her own as long as she was at the Metropolitan Opera House by 8:00 when the group was going to show up.  Lillian promised that she would be, and she went off to the park with Nikolaas.  Minerva for one was happy that Lillian was at least trying to make contact with other people.  She had certainly spent long enough chasing after a dream that would never come true.

“M-Miss Vesperina?” Nikolaas asked nervously, still biting his thumbnail.  By now, he had bitten down to the skin, and was drawing blood.
“Nikolaas, please stop biting your nails.  The sound of your blood is driving my senses wild.”
“S-sorry? You mean the smell of my blood?” He asked, confused.
“Both.  Your blood has a sound to me.”
“But…  Oh! You mean you have Synesthesia…  That’s kind of cool…  But Miss Vesperina…”
“Call me Lillian.  Being called ‘Miss’ makes me uncomfortable…” Lillian said flatly, her confidence coming back to her.  She had been fairly humbled by Minerva’s piano playing.  Minerva had learned in fifteen years of life what Lillian had been practicing and perfecting for over a century.  It was true that Minerva would soon stop aging, and would become all but immortal.  However, Lillian was slightly envious of how quickly Minerva had learned the piano.
“O-of course, Lillian…  I-is it okay if I ask a personal question?”
“Of course.  What would you like to know.”
“I-is it true that you used to be confined to a wheelchair?” Lillian looked at him in surprise.
“Where did you hear that I was?” She asked, slightly suspicious, now.
“Well…  In an interview you gave once, you talked about when you lived with someone named Erich Zann III…  I assumed the name was false, too.”
“Well…  I was once essentially confined to a wheelchair.  I could walk short distances, but I was physically frail and infirm.  But why would you assume that the name I gave for him was false?”
“Well…  Erich Zann was…”
“A character in an HP Lovecraft short story.  I know.  The Erich Zann you’re referring to was Big Brother’s grandfather.”
“So, he would be your grandfather, too?”
“I suppose he would be my grandfather…  Let’s just say that the story is just a load of malarkey.  Erich Zann Sr. was only ever a madman.  My family knew Lovecraft back when he was a writer, and they told him legends that they had heard of strange demon creatures.  Big Brother is Erich Zann Sr.’s grandson.  I know I call him Big Brother, but he’s actually my cousin.  He took me in after my father died…”
“Oh, I’m so sorry…  But how did you end up in a wheelchair?”
“That’s a bit private…”
“O-oh! S-sorry! I didn’t mean to offend you!”
“No.  You didn’t offend me.  So tell me, what part of the Netherlands do you come from?” Lillian asked, smiling politely.  Nikolaas gasped.  He hadn’t expected to have to talk about himself.  He had been planning to ask about Lillian and learn more about her.  He couldn’t admit it, but he had a fairly significant infatuation with her when he was younger and now, seeing her in person, he realized why.  She was everything he would expect from a musical prodigy.  She was beautiful, smart, confident, and talented, but also showed a seemly humility at the same time.  She wasn’t stuck up and full of herself like certain people he could mention just in Julliard alone.
“Well…  I-I came from a small town in Northern Holland.  It was a backwater little town where everyone knew everyone else and the concept of a stranger was foreign to the citizens…  P-people refer to the whole of the Netherlands as Holland, but actually, Holland is only one of the provinces in the Netherlands.  But what about you? Where did you come from?”
“Well, I was born in Cottbus, but I lived a good portion of my life in Amesbury, England with Big Brother.  He liked the proximity to Stonehenge.  Then I moved to Dublin for a while…”
“You’ve moved around a lot in your life…  Where did you go to school?”
“Well…  I attended four years of high school in a small town in Ireland…” Lillian said politely.
“I-I hate to sound rude, b-but how old are you? You don’t look any older than I am, but you’ve done so much and been so many places.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you my real age, so let’s just say I’m seventeen.” Lillian said flatly.
“Impossible.  I admired your music ten years ago when I first started learning piano, and you looked the same as you do now.”
“Okay.  I’m 165.”
“Ahaha! That’s funny!”
“I told you that you wouldn’t believe me.” Lillian said offhandedly, seeming indifferent to Nikolaas’ scorn.  Nikolaas blushed slightly and muttered an apology.
“I-I didn’t mean to offend you, Miss Vesperina…” Nikolaas sputtered worriedly, not wanting her to cut their date off so soon.  He was enjoying every moment with her.  He had actually never been on a serious date before.  He had gone on a date with a friend of the family back in his hometown, but that only led to a short relationship that ended after three dates.  They were still friends, and he wrote home often to tell her and his parents about his life in America.
“Don’t call me ‘Miss Vesperina’.  Please just call me Lillian.” She said politely, sitting down for a moment in the park.  It was such a beautiful day, and though the trees were no longer in bloom, they were still beautiful, the Weeping Willow trees wafting in the breeze and the Japanese Maple trees casting lacy shadows on the ground.  The smell of the city was less powerful in the park, and Lillian appreciated this.  Like Erich, her sense of smell was greater than that of an ordinary human, and so, she generally could detect minute scents that the average person would not smell.  This meant that all her senses could feasibly go wild in the city.  In Northern Europe, where she had just recently been, there had been a layer of snow still on the ground, which blunted the smells of Stockholm fairly well.  However, she was still overcome from time to time, not that she would ever let it show.  It seemed that Nikolaas was highly observant, though.
“Miss Ves…  Er, Lillian…  You taste uncomfortable…  Are you sure you’re alright?” Nikolaas asked.  To a normal person, that would be a slightly creepy and disconcerting question, or at least a strange way of posing an otherwise normal and kind question.  Lillian understood, though.
“You have Synesthesia!?” Lillian asked excitedly.  It was rare to find people with such a neurological disorder.
“You know of Synesthesia!? That’s incredible.  Nobody ever understands what I’m talking about when I tell them that they taste frightened, or that they smell uncomfortable.  I-I don’t have many friends…  My odd way of speaking disturbs people…”
“Well…  For the longest time, I spoke in terms of what my Synesthesia perceived.  So I understand having trouble describing things normally.  For instance, your voice is pale blue and smells like fresh cotton.  Your emotions right now are slightly out of tune violins, and…”
“Alright, enough.  I-I get it…  I-I mean, sorry…  Please continue…” He said shyly.
“Not if you don’t want me to.  My Synesthesia is a little bit odd as it incorporates all of my senses and applies to most things you can think of.”
“Thoughts?” Nikolaas asked.  Lillian thought for a moment.
“To a minimal degree.  I can’t actually read minds, but my Synesthesia grants me a sort of pseudo-empathic ability to comprehend how someone is feeling.  For instance, you smell confused and taste hesitant.  You’re questioning what you thought you knew.”
“Th-that’s surprisingly accurate for not being able to read my mind…” Nikolaas said suspiciously.
“Suspicious? Well, after 165 years, I’ve come to be fairly adept at using my Synesthesia to my benefit.  Unfortunately, it also drives my senses wild when I’m in a city of any great size.
“Wow…  That’s a bummer.  Does your cousin also suffer from that?”
“Yes.  He’s older than I am, though, so he’s mastered it to a greater extent than I.”
“How old is he?” Nikolaas asked genuinely.
“216.” Lillian replied succinctly.
“Okay…  What is your cousin like?” Nikolaas asked curiously.
“Oh, he’s the most wonderful person in the world.  He’s so kind and generous.  He took me in when I had nobody else, and cared for me for over thirty years when I was almost completely crippled.  He’s as talented at the violin as I am at the piano if not more so.  He’s strong and unbreakable but despite the bad things in his life, he’s never lost his conscience…”
“You taste like you have a bit of a brother complex…  No, don’t be embarrassed.  It’s fine.  If he’s really as amazing as you say, he must be quite a man.  I’d love to meet him.”
“He was the one who taught me to play the piano…  Most of what I learned, I taught myself, but he helped me get started.  He felt it was a good instrument for one who could barely walk to play.  Now, his help has helped make me one of the most famous pianists in the world.  I still think that Bach, Beethoven, Pachelbel, Mahler and others like them were better than I’ll ever be.  However, I’ve made my mark on the world…”
“No! None of their works are as dynamic as yours.  None of them break the mold and test the limits of piano like you do…  You play with such zest, such joie de vivre that few if any can compare!” Nikolaas said as if hoping to convince Saki that she was heaven on earth.
“I don’t know about all that.  However, I not only have about 400 years on them, I also have the benefit of having lived 165 years to perfect my talent and develop new ways to play.”
“New ways to play? I don’t understand.  You are certainly innovative in your music, but how many ways can one play?”
“Would you like to find out? I will allow you to listen to me play in my own… Special way if you promise to keep silent about it.  If anyone found out, I’m sure I’d not be half so popular.”
“You have the most unusual way of speaking, Lillian…  I never really picked it up from your interviews, but…”
“It may just be my accent…” Lillian said, blushing slightly.
“N-no! I didn’t mean to put you off…  It’s just…  It’s not your accent…  You just speak in such an old fashioned manner…”
“Well, I am 165 years old…  I spoke relatively normally back in 2012…” Lillian said blankly as though it should be obvious.
“Hey, you were alive in 2001, right?”
“Of course.  I was…  Hold on, it was a while ago…  I was 54 years old back then…  I wasn’t that old by my family’s standards…  I hadn’t even come of age yet.  I was but an infant by their standards.  Why do you ask?”
“Do you remember the September 11th attacks? I-it’s just, I was doing a paper on them in school once and I couldn’t find as much information as I wanted on them.”
“Sure.  Everyone remembers the September 11th attacks.  It was committed by Muslim extremists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden.  They believed that America was evil by its very nature and they attacked the World Trade Center to send a message and to cause chaos in America.  The ironic thing is that the attacks caused America to become closer and more unified rather than divided.  Bin Laden believed that by striking such terror into the hearts of Americans, they would naturally fall apart and America would begin to work against itself.  Bin Laden failed to take into account the ability of people to come together under good leadership in stressful and frightening situations.  Bin Laden claims that he was inspired to destroy the Trade Center after watching the destruction of the towers in Lebanon in 1982.  Given his felonious past, though, this claim is debatable.”
“Wow…  You’ve really seen a lot, haven’t you?”
“More than you know.  I was born in 1947 in Germany…  That was shortly after World War II, and Germany was still recovering from the war and from the damage that the Nazis had done to their own country and to the world around them.”
“Do you actually speak German, or do you only speak Esperanto?”
“Of course I speak German! Esperanto wasn’t the national language of Germany back then! Hardly anyone even knew Esperanto…  It was actually Big Brother who taught me Esperanto.  He taught me a number of languages…  There wasn’t much else for me to do for thirty years.  I was essentially confined to a chair.”
“H-how many languages do you know, Miss…  Er…  Lillian…?”
“Well…  Let’s see…  I’m a little rusty in some of them…  I speak a few dialects of Esperanto including Gaelic Esperanto, Classic Esperanto, German Esperanto and French Esperanto.  I speak French, Japanese, English, German and Spanish, Latin, and Italian, though I’m not actually fluent in Italian…”
“Wow…  That beats what I know.  I do know Latin, Italian Esperanto, Dutch Esperanto, and English.  I’m not actually fluent in any of the older languages of Europe besides Latin.”
“That’s pretty good, though.  It’s important to know a number of languages, especially in today’s global economy.  Oh crap…  What time is it?”
“Time? I think it’s around 5:00, why?”
“Oh, I need to get to the Metropolitan Opera House by 2030h…  Er… 8:30 pm.  I’m going to see Der Vampyr with family and friends…”
“That’s really neat…” Nikolaas said, feeling slightly envious.  Lillian could smell and feel it.  He also wanted to be able to go.”
“Excuse me a moment…  I need to make a call…”
“Of course.  Take your time…” Nikolaas said politely.  Lillian stepped away from Nikolaas, making sure she was out of his hearing range, going further really than she needed to.  She was always sensitive, given the fact that her hearing was much stronger than a normal person’s, and allowed her to hear much further than normal people.
“Yes? Dubhglas here…”
“Uncle Dubhglas…  It’s…”
“Lillian, sweetie! How is your date going? Is he treating you well? He’s not forcing you to do anything you don’t want to do, is he? He hasn’t forced himself on you, right?”
“Dio ... Vi sonas kiel Granda Frato! Mi fartas bone. Nikolaas estas estante perfekta sinjoro ...  Mi nur havas favoron demandi.” (God…  You sound just like Big Brother.  I’m fine.  Nikolaas is being a perfect gentleman.  But I just have a favor to ask.)
“Of course…  Anything I can do to help.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have an extra ticket to Der Vampyr, would you?” Lillian asked, knowing that she was asking a lot.  She didn’t want to disappoint Nikolaas, though.  She was finding herself distinctly at ease with him.  He was unlike most of the other boys she had met in the world, and she had met plenty.  He was far from the first boy with whom she had gone on a date.  She had even started seeing one or two boys, but to date, none of the boys made her feel quite the way that Erich did.  This boy was no exception.  He didn’t have quite the same aura about him as Erich did, and she didn’t find herself feeling quite the same way around Nikolaas.  He was nice, though, and she found that she felt she could spend more time with him and not feel strange about it.”
“Actually, you’re in luck.  We do have one spare ticket for your boyfriend.  That boy really didn’t waste any time making his move, did he? I’m not surprised.  You are extraordinarily beautiful, Lillian…”
“W-wha!? H-he isn’t my boyfriend, and he hasn’t made his move…  A-and don’t talk about things like this in front of my friends!” Lillian demanded.
“Why? You’re an adult now.  There’s no shame in spending time with boys.  It’s good that you’re trying to spend time with people other than Erich.  He would probably want that as well…  Anyway, we’re at the World Trade Center, so I’ll have to hang up for now.  Have fun, sweetie.”
“A-alright.  Goodbye…” Lillian said, having turned a deep shade of pink…  She was happy in one way, though.  Nikolaas would get to come with them to the opera.  She went back to him and explained the situation.  He seemed elated that he would spend the evening with her as well.
“L-Lillian…  P-please don’t feel like you have to spend time with someone as ordinary as me…  S-someone as beautiful as you could probably find a date with just about any man in New York…  I just…”
“Shh…  Don’t worry about it…  I wouldn’t be spending time with you if I didn’t want to.  Here…  This is where I was planning on going…” Lillian said gently, putting a finger up to Nikolaas’s lips.
“The Lincoln Center? Why are we here?” Nikolaas asked in his strong Dutch accent.  Lillian smiled and shrugged.
“Come with me.  You’ll find out.  Remember, you promised you wouldn’t tell anyone about this.” She said sternly, looking at him in a way that made him feel as though she were searching his very soul for a lie.
“O-of course not…  I-I would never betray you…” Nikolaas said honestly.  Lillian smiled and took his hand, pulling him closer to her with a strength that was at distinct odds with her small frame and slender build.
“I-I don’t think we can go in this door…”
“Oh, we should be able to…  Most of the people here would know me if I mentioned who I am.  Hold on a second…  Hey, excuse me…  My…” She blushed slightly, not wanting to have to resort to this.  “My boyfriend and I want to get into one of the theater rooms in the Lincoln Center…  Could you give us directions?”
“Of course…  You didn’t have to break in, though…  The Lincoln Center is open to the public…  Anyway, go left, then right…  Three doors down the hall is a door that should be unlocked.  It leads backstage.  You just wanted to see one of the theaters, right?”
“No.  I wanted to play the piano here a little bit.  I haven’t played piano at the Lincoln Center in at least fifteen years.”
“Wait…  You…  Lillian Artemis Vesperina? It’s been a long time!”
“Yes…  It certainly has…  It’s good to see you again.  I have to go, though.  Thank you for the directions…” Lillian said, grabbing Nikolaas’s hand and running off.
“D-did you know him?” Nikolaas asked.  She hadn’t seemed like she knew that man.
“Probably.  I played at the Lincoln Center a few times.  If he is one of the head people here, I may have gone through him to set up a concert.  Here we are…  I never get tired of looking at these pianos…  They’re unbelievably beautiful…” Lillian said wistfully.  Nikolaas nodded.  He had never actually been in the Lincoln Center.
“Watch, now…  I’m going to play Cwympiadau Tywyllwch in E minor…  It’s one of my older pieces, but I remember it well.” Lillian said, breathing in, and closing her eyes, folding her hands in her lap and using her telekinesis to begin playing.  Nikolaas gasped as the keys seemed to hit themselves, and played a beautifully complex and intricate melody of darkness, sadness, but also of hope.  Soon, Lillian began playing with her hands as well, and the tempo and speed rose until Nikolaas could barely see her hands moving.  It was a beautiful but slightly sad piece that seemed to speak to all five of his senses and after two minutes of this, it slowed, then ended.  After Nikolaas was sure that it was over, he stood there dazed for a moment or two, then clapped.  He had never heard such an amazing and unusual performance.
“Thank you.  You’re very kind.  My telekinesis is useful for playing piano, but…”
“What I don’t understand… Is why you don’t use your powers for battle…?  I mean, I know you’re a relatively…  Er…  petit person, but…”
“My powers are generally passive abilities, not ones that are useful in battle.  I have tried to use my telekinesis in battle, though never to great effect.  Besides, with whom would I do battle in peaceful modern day Europe?” Lillian asked.  She was frankly lying through her teeth.  Although her telekinesis was far from powerful, and it exhausted her to use it in battle, it was more powerful than she let on, and there was every reason to use it in the modern day.  But she couldn’t tell Nikolaas that.  He wouldn’t believe her, and there was no point in explaining something that he wouldn’t understand or believe.
“S-sorry…  I-I didn’t…”
“Don’t apologize…  There’s no need to say sorry.  I just…  Never learned to use my powers very well in combat.  I do have two cousins who are highly adept at using their powers for combat.  However, one of them is nothing short of purest evil, and the other one doesn’t like to use his powers even though he can.”
“You have an unusual family, Lillian…  Oh, it’s almost 8:00…  We should be moving soon.” Nikolaas said, checking his watch.  Lillian jumped and scrambled to her feet, grabbing Nikolaas’ hand and dragging him behind her.  After a moment, she turned around and glared at him.
“Either run faster, or climb on my back! Either one is fine!”
“What!? I’m not going to climb on your back! I’ll crush you!”
“Don’t flatter yourself.  You are not that big.  You’re probably 165 cm and you can’t weigh more than 63.5 kg! I could carry you bridal style were I so inclined.” Lillian snapped, grabbing him and slinging him over her shoulder and jetting out of the Lincoln Center at breakneck speeds, using the same power that Gareth used, though to lesser effect.  Gareth had taught her over the years how to harness the power of her brain in different ways from psychic powers.  This was purely physiological.  Because her brain could potentially run at 80% capacity, her spinal cord and her brain produced a great deal more electricity than that of a normal person, allowing her to move at speeds far exceeding those of a normal human.   Regardless, though, she was not as good at this as Gareth due mostly to the fact that she was not born with this ability, but had to learn it, and much of her brain’s excess capacity was taken up by her psychic powers.  Lillian checked her pocket watch and gasped, speeding up once more and turning the corner a bit too rapidly, knocking another couple by the wayside, leaving them to wonder what exactly had happened.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Twelve

Erich woke as the plane took off.  He was still in his coffin with Saki pressed up against him, finding that he was harder than he had been in over 120 years…  In fact, the last time he had felt like this was when he was with Anelie for the last time.  He knew that he tended to idealize that night in his life and make it out to be more than it really was.  It was true that he had proposed to Anelie that night and even gotten her father’s blessing.  He was sure that he was going to fail on that front.  But now none of that seemed like anything more than a happy but inconsequential memory in a sea of memories that seemed to blur together after a certain point.  The memories that seemed most important now were those that he was making with Saki.  Whether they were good memories or bad ones, he wouldn’t trade them for anything.  The pain he had felt when he lost her and the joy he felt, the joy that he had been sure he had lost the ability to feel when he got her back were pushing up against the front of his mind, vying for prominence.  Erich kissed Saki gently on the lips, not wanting to upset her by being too forward with her, especially when he wasn’t sure just how much of her memories she had managed to retrieve by that time.
“Erich…  You don’t need to hold yourself back like that…” Saki said gently, leaning forward and kissing Erich warmly on the lips, surprising him and slipping her tongue into his mouth.
Finally, after what seemed like blissful hours of kissing, they broke away and Saki spoke gently to Erich.
“I want you to know that I dream of you every day.  Every day, my memories become more complete, and I write them down every night so that I never forget them again.  I don’t ever want to see that broken look on your face again.”
“Thank you, Saki-chan…  I am glad that you are so happy to be back…  I am sorry that I failed to protect you when…” Before he could finish, though, Saki bolted out of the coffin and punched Erich as hard as she could.  Erich was sure that he heard a bone crack.
“I am not…  I repeat not some damsel in distress that you need to rescue! That part of my life, of my existence is over! I don’t want to be your ward.  I don’t want to be your delicate princess.  I’m your equal and I have more than enough strength and power to take care of myself.” Saki said firmly and confidently.  Erich sighed and nodded.
“You are right, of course.  But I still wish I could have been awake to keep you from being kidnapped…  Not knowing if you were okay, or if you even still existed anymore was more terrifying than anything I have felt in over a century.”
“I’m flattered…  You’ve told me about two of your past loves.  One was Rachael.  The other was Anelie…  I was sure that you told me of a third besides me.  But…  That time was a little fuzzy in my head…”
“Perhaps you are thinking of Rhiannon Aelwen Ó Fionnagáin? It is not a pretty story, and it is likely one of my less intelligent moves.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“Well…  It was 1923 in the Isle of Man.  I was 25 at the time and the girl who caught my affections so completely was named Rhiannon…  Such a beautiful name, I told myself.  She was already engaged, set to be married at the age of sixteen to a man more than fifteen years her senior.  She had been promised to the man since birth.  I did not understand her family’s arrangement with the man.  Rhiannon explained on one or two occasions that her family was indebted to his family for a favor that they did for her parents.  In exchange, his parents asked for them to promise their first daughter’s hand in marriage to their son.  I could not tell you what the favor was, but Rhiannon was unhappy with the arrangement.  I do not know what exactly she saw in me…  Perhaps it was simply because I was not the repugnant man that would surely become her husband.  We were close, but she had a problem where each week, she lost her personal memories of the previous week.  This does not mean that a book she read would leave her memory.  Rather that people that she met would never stick.  However, I was in love with her and each week, I reintroduced myself and wooed her again.  After a time, feeling fairly comfortable with her, I suggested that she keep a diary where she could record our meetings so that she could read it before we met and the meeting would not be the ‘first time’.
“Her parents did not exactly approve of our relationship.  However, there was little they could do.  She had always been a highly independent girl and they knew that if they openly objected that she would become only more adamant.  Again, whether she truly loved me or whether she only wanted to defy her parents I do not know, and at the time I did not care the reason.
“Eventually, she became weary of having to meet me for the first time every week.  So she asked me to use my hypnosis to recover her memories.  I loved her and so, I agreed.  It was foolish to do so, because as soon as the memories flooded her mind, she fainted with shock and when she awoke, her memories became so confused that she had to be admitted to an asylum.  As I said, it is not a pretty story.  Love can make a person do foolish things.  I may have been alive for longer than most.  However, I am no less subject to human desires, human fallacies, human weakness…  I was sure after I lost Anelie that I would never fall in love again…  I locked myself away from the world.  Do you see what I am saying? You brought me to life again…  In a way.  Thank you, Saki-chan…  You did more for me than you can imagine…”
“I-I don’t fully remember everything.  My memories are still slightly confused…  But I remember meeting you.  And I remember that you brought me out of my shell…  I remember at the time I was considering suicide.  I would never admit it, even to myself.  My mother was a Catholic and my father was an Atheist.  They were both strict, though, and they would have been deeply ashamed if I had killed myself.  I remember back then, even though I was sure they would never love me as parents should, I still wanted somehow to please them.  But misery was encroaching and overriding my logical side.  I would have been dead if you hadn’t come, Erich…  Y-you saved my life in more ways than you know.”
“I would not dare to believe that I did anything so heroic or noble.  I was merely the catalyst for your own change.  You saved your own life.  You grew and changed and achieved everything you wanted to do and more.” Erich said modestly.
“Then…  My Embrace…  That sticks out in my memory…  It was like waking up to a whole new world.  I could smell things I never could before.  Your aura smelled like pine needles and mountain air…  I felt like I was suddenly in Hokkaido at the 2038 Winter Olympics in Hokkaido…  It tasted like…  N-never mind!”
“You have seen the Olympics in person? That is a notable achievement.  They are not cheap tickets.”
“I-I felt that I needed to see the Olympics at least once in my life, and I had really gotten into figure skating…  I-I haven’t skated in a year or two.  But when I did skate, I was fairly talented…”
“Don’t sell yourself short…” Abigail said, sitting up in her own coffin, causing Erich to look over at her and Saki to jump.  “You always do that, sweetheart…  You remain charmingly understated in your talent.  As adorable as it is, it doesn’t do you justice…”
“O-oh…  Well…  I-I’ve just had a lot of time to practice.  I’ve been figure skating since 2018…”
“No, no.  Don’t mind me.  I’ll go back to sleep as long as you need.  Feel free to be as long as you like in making love.  You are married already, after all.”
“We were not making love.  Please do not mistake our conversation for foreplay.”
“Shut the coffin and I’ll lock it…” Saki said suspiciously, standing up and watching as Abigail closed herself back in the coffin.  Saki then went over and bolted it shut.  After ten minutes, when Saki was sure that Abigail was asleep, as she could feel the mild sensation of her dreams, she continued, whispering to Erich.
“I was actually hoping to make love to you…  We’ve both been through a terrible time, not just from being at war again, but because I was kidnapped and brainwashed.  I can’t imagine how terrible it must have felt for you to believe that you had lost your love yet again.  It seems as though you haven’t been lucky in love in the past.  I want to make sure that your luck turns around…  I’ll never leave your side.  I’ll never abandon you…”
“Do not make promises you cannot keep, Saki-chan.” Erich said pessimistically.  “I do not doubt that you believe that and that you will stay loyal to me as long as you can.  However, life has proven to me that things sometimes are out of our control.  So whether it is your doing or not…”
“No! Never! I will never leave you! I will always be by your side!” Saki yelled, pushing Erich down on a soft mat that happened to be in the belly and kissing him passionately, her hand moving to the buttons of his shirt and slowly undoing them.
“I am not certain that this is a good idea.  The Inconnu told me that my childer and I will all be fertile…  That we will be able to reproduce as humans do.  Do not think that I do not appreciate this, or that I do not want to make love to you.  However, the middle of a war would be a poor time for you to get pregnant.” Erich said sternly.  Saki sighed.  She had been so happy that she had finally gotten all of her memories back, and she wanted to celebrate somehow with Erich.  Suddenly, though, Erich went silent, and he looked away from her.  However, the plane also rumbled, and Erich heard the announcement that they were now descending, and would land in John F. Kennedy Airport shortly.  Erich sighed.  He had been enjoying talking to Saki.  But he also had plans in New York City…  Plans beyond just continuing the war against the Inconnu.  He knew that there were several Zann families in New York City.  Amelia and Gerald Zann with their five children; Annabelle and Dubhglas Mac Naoimhín and four other families that Erich didn’t remember.  It was Annabelle and Dubhglas that would be meeting them at JFK.  
Erich could feel the plane descending, so he told Saki to get into the coffin and he quickly followed her, shutting the lid.

“The finest of mornings to all of you!” Came Dubhglas’s gregarious voice, greeting the group as they came off the plane.  The man had a heavy Cornish accent, and he grinned widely at the group, showing that his teeth were razor sharp.  Dubhglas had actually been a Zann even before he had married Annabelle Zann.  In fact, the reason that his last name wasn’t ‘Zann’ was because it was his mother that was the Zann.  She married his father, a human, and they had him and Dubhglas’s two brothers and three sisters along with four half-brothers and six half-sisters from his mother’s two other marriages.  Annabelle Zann’s father was actually Dubhglas’s mother’s second cousin twice removed, so they were related in a sense.  But that didn’t stop them from loving each other.
Dubhglas had shocking red curly hair that seemed to fall in coils around his face and the back of his head and bright blue eyes.  His skin was fair and covered in freckles.  He was handsome, but also seemed to have a very unrefined nature.  He seemed like the type who’d rather go to a bar and have a beer than drink fancy wines.  Though he was wearing a polo shirt, he seemed distinctly out of place with it on, especially since he was wearing jeans with it.
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintances…” Annabelle said decorously, bowing politely and giving them a perfunctory smile.  She had been brought up to be an extremely proper lady, and to always show manners and proper ‘feminine’ behavior.  She was seen by her neighbors as extraordinarily old fashioned for such a young woman (though she was actually over a hundred years old).
Annabelle was the exact opposite of Dubhglas.  Unlike Dubhglas who was average height and stocky, Annabelle was tall and slender, standing maybe 5’5” and looked like she would bruise in a stiff wind.  Unlike Dubhgas, who had a light and easygoing appearance, Annabelle was stiff and austere down to the last inch.  She stood with her back completely straight, not an ounce of emotion on her ghostly pale face.  Her skin was at direct odds with her jet black hair which was held up in a tight bun at the back of her head.  Even her lips and nails were painted black and she had on tastefully applied eyeliner around her icy blue eyes that seemed to freeze everything they looked at.  Her dress was long and went down to her ankles though it was made of a light material, perhaps silk and had no sleeves and a low back.
“Please come with us.  We have some cars out front for the group.  I must admit that I didn’t expect it to be such a large group.  I only knew of six people.  Now, there are twelve people and two coffins.  I hate to seem rude, but I’m not sure we can fit all of you.” Dubhglas said uncertainly.  Annabelle merely smiled and stepped forward.
“I am certain that we will figure something out.  Let me see if I can name all of you…  You are Miss Jessica Arinson? Yes? You are likely what the Inconnu would call a Posthuman, as is Mr. Allen Magnus? I thought so.  Lillian…  It has been so long since I last saw you.  Elain, I take it you are doing well?” Annabelle asked.  Elain nodded coolly, saying nothing.
“You must be Mr. Gareth Rotschreck…  I was told by Dubhglas that there was a Werewolf in the group.  I am afraid that I do not recognize the rest of you…  I do apologize most sincerely.” The young looking woman said politely.  She was just so polite that they couldn’t be annoyed at her.
“It’s nice to meet you, um…  I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name.” Maylene said.
“My name is Annabelle Mac Naoimhín”
“Okay…  My name is Maylene Rotschreck.  These are my children; Minerva, Junas, Selene and Cyrus.”
“And I’m Johann Faust.”  It is very nice to meet you.  It seems the Zann family has grown extremely large.”
“Well…  If I am not mistaken, at least fifty Zanns have died recently, whether by being hunted by the Inconnu or in skirmishes with Inconnu agents.  And who is this lovely young lady by your side?”
“Oh! Um…  M-my name is Rael Meiyer…  I-it’s very nice to meet you, Mrs. Mac Naoimhín…” Rael muttered.  “I-if it’s not too forward of me…  How are you related to Mr. Zann…?” Rael asked, reaching out to shake Annabelle’s hand, but jumping in shock when she felt just how cold Annabelle’s skin was.  It was like ice.
“Oh…  Well…  I am not sure…  Lillian, dear…  Do you know how we are related?”
“I’m afraid I’m not sure either.  My father is Big Brother’s uncle.  Let’s see…  This is tough.  Uncle Erich has three brothers and one sister.  His youngest brother, Sebastiaan Zann is your great-great grandfather.  Sebastiaan married three times.  His third wife had your great grandfather, Eoin Zann.  Eoin Zann married only twice and had three girls with his first wife and two boys with his second wife.  The youngest boy, Maitiú Zann married twice thus far and had your grandfather with his first wife.  Your grandfather was Pryderi Zann.  He married three times.  His third wife gave him two girls and one boy.  The boy, Ladislav had your father with his second wife.  Your father, Elspeth Zann, which is admittedly a feminine name, had you.  So…  I guess you would be Big Brother’s second cousin once removed, and mine as well.”
“Hm…  I did not understand any of that…” Annabelle said confusedly, seeming distinctly less ladylike.  However, she smiled after that and nodded.
“I see.  So I am yours and Erich’s second cousin once removed.  That makes sense, I suppose.  Well…  Let us get to the house.  We are not getting any younger…” She said quickly, leading the way out of the airport into the congested, bright city airport.  Lillian squinted and shielded her eyes from the lights.
“I guess I’ll have to get used to American cities…”
“Well…  Most cities aren’t this congested, sweetie…” Dubhglas said cheerfully in his heavy Cornish accent.
“New York City has been like this for ages…  If I recall correctly, Jessica’s been to New York before…  Is that right?”
“Yes…  I hid here from the Inconnu for maybe two or three decades.  Is there room in the house for the coffins? There would have been three of them.  But due to…  Unforeseen circumstances, there are only two.”
“Oh, no! Did one of your group die?” Dubhglas asked, sounding honestly distressed.
“Well…  Three of our group has died.  However, that isn’t what I meant.  See, Saki-chan was kidnapped by the Inconnu and was only recently rescued.  However, the Inconnu still has her coffin.  I will admit that coffins are a bloody pain to carry around.  But Erich seems to like them.  Perhaps this is his idea of a joke…  Or maybe he’s just being theatrical.  Vampires stereotypically sleep in coffins after all…” Jessica replied irritatedly.
“That’s  alright.  I’ll go ahead with the coffins.  Wait for me.  I’ll be right back.” Dubhglas said, taking hold of the coffins with each hand and teleporting away.
After a moment, Dubhglas came back, and took hold of Maylene in one hand and Minerva in the other.
“Hold onto each other tightly.  Tell me…  Have you ever read the Harry Potter series?” Dubhglas asked.  Only Minerva replied in the affirmative.
“Then you no doubt know what splinching is.  It is poorly explained in Harry Potter due to the fact that Rowling wasn’t well versed in the theory behind teleportation.  I will spare you the details of the rules of teleportation as none of you would understand it.  However, you do not want anything to go wrong in the middle, as part or all of you could be lost in a fourth dimensional space.  Hold on tight both to me and to each other.  Mrs. Rotschreck…  Hold your twins more tightly.  Junas…  Grab your mother’s arm as tightly as you can and hold yourself as close as possible to her leg.  Minerva…  You must hug your mother tightly.  I will then teleport with the group.”
The group of six huddled as close and as tightly as they could and grabbed each other, making sure that they couldn’t fall apart.  Then, they felt a sense of vertigo before disappearing and reappearing at a lovely home down by the Hudson River.
“Go inside and wait there for the rest of the group.” Dubhglas said politely.  The family of five went into the house only to be shocked by how cold it was inside.  It wasn’t just cold, though, there was a definite layer of frost on most of the surfaces in the house.  Shortly, though, another part of the group joined them and then the last part of the group joined.  Then Dubhglas disappeared one last time and came back with all of the luggage, walking into the house.  Maylene and Minerva were both shocked that she could be dressed in a strapless, backless pale blue silk evening gown in such a frigid house.
“I see that you have noticed that the house is kept at sub zero conditions.  In fact, the house is approximately -25oC.  It must be kept like this due to Annabelle’s Zann curse.  If she’s exposed to temperatures of above 1oC, she begins to melt, per se.  It may seem amusing to you.  However, I can assure you that it is far from funny.  Did you not wonder why Annabelle is so slender and pale? It isn’t because of my diet and lack of sun.  It’s because she hasn’t been exposed to high temperatures very often in the past and the fact that, she rarely goes under the sun.  She prefers being out at night.”
“Why do you keep the house at -25, then…  Why not just 0oC, then?” Lillian asked.
“That is because temperatures of between -5oC and -40oC are more comfortable for her.”
“What would happen if someone cut her?” Rael asked in polite interest.
“She would bleed…  She isn’t invulnerable.  However, she bleeds Mercury.  She is a human thermometer, for lack of a better term.”
“Does that mean that if she melted, several liters of Mercury would spill everywhere?” Rael asked, fascinated by Annabelle.
“I suppose so.  That would be quite an environmental disaster, would it not? However, she has what you would call a ‘toxic touch’.  If she wished, she could load several pints of Mercury gas into your bloodstream just by touching you with her left hand.  That is her main power.  However, she is also capable of drastically lowering the temperature of an object with her right hand.  It is mostly useful for making things brittle due to sudden cooling.”
“Her powers are admittedly unusual…” Erich said, sitting up in his coffin and stretching slightly.  Dubhglas gave a start and stumbled slightly.
“Oh…  Erich…  I don’t think that I have met you.  Lillian tells me that we are second cousins once removed.”
“I see…  Dubhglas…  I would like to introduce Saki-chan to you.  If it is true what you say about your wife’s need to remain in cold conditions, she was probably not there in Scotland in December?”
“Actually…  Both Annabelle and I were there.  It was sufficiently cold that even if she began to melt, she would melt slowly.”
“What would drip as she was melting? Would it…”
“Just liquid skin and eventually bone.  She is not made of ice, nor is she made of Mercury.  Her blood is Mercury.  However, her body is just human.  She can be hurt just as anyone else can.  Now please tell me if there is anything that I can do to make you more comfortable.”
“Are there any rooms that aren’t freezing cold?” Gareth asked rather rudely, earning him a punch from Maylene.
“Yes, actually.  We do occasionally have guests, so the top floor of our home is kept at room temperature.  There are several rooms on that floor…  Let me see…  We have six guest rooms on the top floor.  Some of you, I’m afraid will have to share.”
“That’s fine, Mr. Mac Naoimhín.  Gareth and I sleep together, anyhow, and Selene and Cyrus usually sleep in the same room as us.  Then there are still five rooms for Elain, Jessica, Allen, Lillian, Rael and Faust…  Actually…  That’s one room too few…”
“That’s alright…  I don’t sleep.” Faust said.  I must add that Bia…  Rael still needs to eat more than normal.  She just woke up from a Mors Vivificantem induced sleep.”
“You can call me Bianca if you prefer, Doctor Faust…” Rael said shyly.
“Am I supposed to know what Mors Vivificantem is?” Dubhglas asked skeptically.
“I know what it is.” Annabelle said smoothly, walking into the room.  “Mors Vivificantem is a potion made by alchemists that can put someone in a revitalizing deathlike coma that lasts anywhere from one to six weeks depending on the strength of the Mors Vivificantem and the gravity of the injuries…  So tell me…  What happened to you that you would need to be put to sleep, so to speak?”
“I overextended my powers, you see, and my heart and lungs were rapidly failing.  I suspect that I would have died without Doctor Faust’s assistance.”
“Nonsense.  You have a strong will.  That can get you through most problems.  It wasn’t quite enough this time, but your strong will kept you alive for a while, didn’t it?”
“Y-yes…  I-I lasted longer than I thought I would…  See, I’m a modified human, but I had a weak heart and lungs to begin with.  They modified me at the Inconnu so I could override my natural limiter that would normally stop me before I did irreversible damage to myself.  I overrode my limiter twice in one night, and fired three railguns in one day.  I-it’s really a long story…  We were in Japan and…”
“Never mind, Rael…  You must be tired.  Dubhglas…  Take them upstairs and show them their rooms.  I will bring these three down to the basement.  Are you and the Jap sleeping in the same coffin?” Annabelle asked bluntly, not bothering to be politically correct.
“Annabelle…  I would appreciate it if you would not use racial slurs.”
“What are you talking about? Jap is just the word people use…”
“Um…  Mrs. Mac Naoimhín…  W-what year were you born?” Saki asked nervously.
“Well…  I suppose I was born in 1937.  One of my first memories is the war ending in Japan after the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  What year were you born?”
“Oh… 1994…  I’m afraid my history isn’t quite as colorful as yours is, but…”
“Wait…  What did you say your name was?” Annabelle asked.  Saki stopped briefly.
“Yoshino Saki…”
“No…  That can’t be right…  I recognize you…  You are Kyoko Matsuhita…  But you are also Asami Yamabushi, Siobhan Kamakitsu, and Arisa Honda…  Your features look slightly different as each of the authors, but they are the same person.”
“Oh, my…  I’m flattered that you’re so fond of my writing…  It’s true.  As Kyoko Matsuhita, I wrote the Sebastian DiRaziel series.  I’ve written other books and series by that name, but the Sebastian DiRaziel series is the best known…  Let’s see…  Asami Yamabushi? What books did I write under that name…? I’ve written so many.
“Asami wrote a number of books.  She wrote the entire Xstndbr Mthra series.”
“Oh! About the planet devouring deep space entity.  Of course.  And my other pennames wrote many other books…”
“I know…  I have read all of them.  Please hold on a moment.  Daybreak is coming quickly.  It is the middle of May, now, and it is 5:30…  We should get you downstairs before you burn up in the sun.” Annabelle said quickly, putting her hands on each of the coffins and teleporting them downstairs.  She then came back up and showed Erich and Saki down the stairs to their coffin.
“When night falls, we can get Saki her own coffin.  It cannot be comfortable for both of you to sleep in the same coffin.  Have a good day.” Annabelle said, leaving the three in the basement together.  Erich wouldn’t have chosen this situation.  However, he had set up a few fail safes.  His coffin could be locked from the inside, and Saki’s could be as well.  However, it was gone.  Erich wasn’t at all sure that they could get another coffin as nice as the one Saki had before.
“Y-your manner of speech reminds me of Erich’s, Annabelle…” Saki said offhandedly as she climbed into the coffin with Erich.
“Oh…  Thank you.  I was taught to speak very formally because my parents were involved in politics, and it would have been terribly rude to speak coarsely to the highest ranked members in the world.”
“So you’ve been to other countries…” Saki said in interest.
“Oh yes.  I was born in Cornwall actually, so my background is more English than Gaelic.  But I have been to most countries in the world.  I did go to China once…  It really is a lovely place.  You are lucky to live there…”
“I’m Japanese…” Saki said distraughtly.  She hadn’t thought that anyone would still mistake the Chinese with the Japanese.  Or at least, she was sure that her name would not be mistaken for Chinese.”
“What is the difference? You both look the same to me.  You both sound…”
“Our culture! Chinese and Japanese people may both be Asian, but our cultures are extremely different! How can you possibly be so ignorant!?” Saki flared, suddenly feeling enraged by Annabelle’s flagrantly racist comments.
“Yes, yes…  Difference in culture.  I must go back upstairs.  I cannot stay in climates this warm.  Sleep well…” Annabelle said apathetically.  As she left, Saki screamed behind gritted teeth.  She couldn’t remember ever being quite so offended.  She had been called a lot of things in the past, insulted before and dismissed rather egregiously by her own parents.  But for the first time, she truly felt angered by someone’s flagrant disregard for her.

“How is it that you’re related to her again, Erich!?” Saki demanded, seething at this perceived slight.
“If I am not mistaken, she is my second cousin once removed.  I was not aware that she had such grievous misconceptions about other races.  Had I known, I would have chosen a different place to stay in the City.  We can move on if you would prefer.”
“No, no…  I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she got to me…” Saki muttered irately.
“If it helps, I still love you, Saki-chan…” Erich said tenderly, kissing Saki gently on the cheek.  Saki gasped.  Erich hardly ever said that to her.  She knew that he did love her.  But hearing him say it was kind of nice.  She found that she had tears in her eyes, now.  As usual, they were the tears of blood she was used to, but she knew that he had moved her to tears.
Back when she first met him, he was the most unemotional person she had ever met.  He made no attempt to become closer to her, to encourage her or to make her feel more comfortable with the situation.  He told her very candidly the dangers of the mission and what she would have to do…  That she would have to kill on this journey.  But he never attempted at first to make her feel any more comfortable with the whole idea.  But she fell in love with him anyway and perhaps because of his distant and awkward personality, she found him terribly loveable, even if most people didn’t quite understand what she saw in him.
“Thank you, Erich…  That means a lot…  We should go to sleep.  It’s almost seven AM.” Saki said gently, kissing Erich once more and climbing into the coffin where she closed the lid and fell instantly to sleep for the day.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore, strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Eleven

As soon as Erich was sure that Maylene and the children were out, he called the rest of the group down, and ordered Rael to follow Maylene, giving her the same telepathic instructions he had given Maylene.  Though Rael complained, she lost the argument and shuffled unhappily out of the house, heading to the church.

“Good.  Now, we are able to fight without being interrupted.” Erich said stiffly, annoyed that his house was going to be destroyed.  The elders smirked, though Hyde’s smirk looked more like a maniacal leering grin, given his lopsided face.
“It’sssss true that we can fight freely, now…  But it ssssseemssss unfair…  We are outnumbered by you significantly.  Two againssssst Sssix…  Three to one ssseemsss very unfair…  We must even the odds…” Hyde said, whistling with a shrieking whistle that called two more modified humans to their side.
“Good evening, honored targets of the Inconnu…” Said one ot the modified humans.  “My name is Phineas Flynn Sharpe.” He said.  Erich took a look at him, assessing the man.  He could see that Phineas was tall, slender and seemed lithe and quick on his feet.  Given the fact that he only had in his possession handguns and knives, Erich assumed that he wasn’t overly strong.  He was probably more skilled in feats of dexterity, intellect, and accuracy than he was in feats of strength.
On the other hand, the other man was tall as well, but extremely muscular and looked as though he could crush rocks with his fists with ease.
“My name is Ivan…  I was created through genetic testing when the blood of your former friend…”
“Shut your mouth, Ivan!” Phineas snapped.  “You should learn when not to explain your abilities.”
“I believe I understand…  Regardless, perhaps we should simply begin.  I have not got Blood to spare.” Erich said, moving in a flash and using his telekinesis to take his katana in hand and slash Ivan’s arm.  Erich found, though that his swing wasn’t hard enough to sever it.  Ivan seemed to have a sort of natural armor that prevented Erich’s sword from cutting through his flesh all the way.  It made a decent cut, but did not even cut the bone.  Erich pulled out rapidly and moved back, taking his wakizashi in his other hand, preparing for a true battle.  This was going to be harder than he could have expected.
Saki nodded, seeing that Erich’s weapon didn’t work.  She was fairly certain that she knew what to do.  She had found over the years a sword that was only one molecule thick and thus would allow her to cut through even the strongest and thickest things like a hot knife through butter.  It had cost her more than her home to buy, but now she saw that it was worth it.  She took it out and flicked it, moving and cutting right through Ivan’s arm.  Ivan roared in agony and rage and grabbed Saki’s arm, breaking it rather severely before lifting her in the air and slamming her into the ground on her back.  He then took her molecular cutter and looked at it.
“How did you get this? The Inconnu has not released any of these to the public yet…” He growled.
“If you would remove your hand from my…  Chest…  Perhaps I could tell you…  Thank you.  I have a few private contacts through Jessica.  They have proven very useful.  This sword cost more than my cousin’s house…  But it was completely worth it.” Saki said, surprising Ivan with her telekinesis, using it to draw the sword back to her, slicing through his leg as she did so, causing him to fall to the ground.
“As you can see, Elders…  This will not be an easy battle for you.  Saki-chan has no doubt already healed her wounds.  Please leave and do not drag this out.” Erich said quietly and calmly.  He was far from in the mood for a fight.
“You’re right.  This won’t be an easy battle for us.  That’s why we decided to bring assistance.  Miss Zann…  Please join us…”  Julius said calmly.  Slowly, Erich saw a shadow getting longer as it approached the front door, and after a few minutes, his half-sister walked in.  Erich cursed under his breath as Carmilla grinned cheerfully but sinisterly at him.
“Hi…  My sweet brother…  I’m so happy to see you again!” Carmilla said, surprising Erich with how friendly she was being.  Suddenly, she moved across the room in a flash and embraced Erich tightly, kissing him on the lips, shocking Saki and Erich both to the core.
“Carmilla…  Please do not kiss me…” Erich said irritably.  “I do not like you.  I never have and I never will.  I do not know how much clearer I can possibly be…”
“Oh, I don’t like you either, Big Bro…” Carmilla said casually.  “I just wondered if you would notice…”
“You wondered if I would notice what?” Erich asked, becoming more and more irate by the moment with the woman who not only had no sense of personal boundaries, but also seemed intent on causing trouble for him.
“I’m disappointed in you, Big Bro…  Didn’t you notice how cold my lips were against yours? Yours, on the other hand were pretty warm.  You should avoid using your Blood to mimic life unless it’s vital to your survival…  Shortly after the Inconnu turned me into a modified human, they had one of their older Vampire members that they recently modified as well Embrace me…  It was a pretty amazing sensation…  Just being bitten was like Heaven…  But then she cut herself and gave me some of her own Blood…  Ecstasy in its purest form…  I felt like I was in Nirvana…” Carmilla gasped.  “But then…  The pain…  I couldn’t believe it…  I couldn’t believe that you would let yourself be put in that much pain…  And you, Saki-chan…  I had no idea you were such a raving masochist…  You sexual deviant…” Carmilla cooed, smirking in that infuriating way she had about her.
Erich didn’t wait for Carmilla to finish, though.  He took out his modified Smith & Wesson Model 500 and shot Carmilla right in the head.  Carmilla gasped and fell over, her brains and fragments of her skull splattered all over the floor and walls.  After a moment, though, Carmilla smirked and stood up, laughing at Erich’s futile attempt to kill her.
“Big Bro…  I’m disappointed…  Really.  Did you think that a bullet to the head would kill a modified Zann Vampire.  Really…  So naïve…”
“No.  I was just distracting you…”
In the next moment, Carmilla gasped in pain and rage as a stake erupted from her back and through her chest, directly where her heart was.  Allen smirked at the look on Carmilla’s face.
“You’re beautiful, sweetheart…  But I can’t allow you to mess up our plans to leave.  We need to trash your organization and destroy you.” Allen said.  For a moment, Carmilla tried weakly to pull the stake out of her heart.  However, she soon lost her strength and fell to the ground.  In the moment that the stake hit the ground, it whirred and exploded outward, spraying metal shards all through Carmilla’s body.
“Damn! We were ordered to be cautious with Carmilla’s body.  She’s just been modified recently…”
“It isssn’t our fault…  Ssshhe… Rushed in and got staked.” Hyde said.  “We ssshhould not hang around.  Goodbye, so called heroes…  You survived Ssssamael…  We sssshall see if you ssssurvive usss…” Hyde hissed, taking something out of his pocket and throwing it at them.  As soon as it hit the ground, it exploded violently.  Erich put up a telekinetic shield around as many of them as he could, making sure that each shield was limited to the person’s personal space so that the bomb was not caught in any of them.  
Regardless, though, most of them took a fair amount of damage, and by the time the dust settled and they could see again, the Inconnu was gone, having taken Carmilla with them.  Erich cursed.  He was hurt, and had numerous lacerations, and his left eye was gone, perhaps due to the fact that he had not used an equal amount of force in the entire shield.  He also noticed that his right arm was hanging limply by his side, bones exposed in several places.
“Damn.  I am terribly thirsty, and I would imagine that Saki-chan is as well.  However, it will not be easy to hunt for either of us.” Erich said calmly, finding that several of his teeth were broken.  He healed himself as best he could with the limited amount of blood he had in his system, but found that he could not heal his eye.  Maybe it was an effect of the bomb?
“You’re no doubt wondering why you can’t heal your eye, right?” Allen asked.  Erich nodded.
“The Inconnu has created several substances that can hamper Vampiric powers.  In this case, N4Br8Bh2Ra22, when heated to 3000oK and held in a vacuum sealed shell will explode with great force, not only causing massive damage to everything in the area, but also has a limited ability to bypass telekinetic shields and hamper Vampiric healing and other powers.  Unlike the mixture in the bullet, though, it does not force the Vampire to expend Blood wastefully, and it will pass through the Vampire’s system in about twenty-four hours and become inert.  However, I wouldn’t count on being able to fix that eye, Erich…  One of the side effects of the gas is that damage to parts of the body that are merely avatars for the brain so to speak cannot regrow, even with all the Blood in the world.  I’d find a nice eye patch.”
“Thank you.  Well, my arm is not as strong as it was.  However, I must go out and find some blood.  No, I will not drink from any of you.  Saki-chan…  Doctor Anderson, please join me.  I do not doubt that you also crave blood.”
“Y-yeah…  H-how did you know, Erich…?”
“I am psychic, remember?” Erich lied.  The truth was that he simply had gotten a good feeling for these things.  So he took Saki’s hand gently and led her out into the streets, Abigail following quickly behind.
“Perhaps we should meet with the others first.  They will no doubt be wondering what happened to us.”

Erich led the way into the church and found the small group that included Maylene, Minerva, Junas, Selene and Cyrus (the twins), Rael, and Lillian sitting in a pew.  Minerva had woken up a short while ago, and was still fuming over not being allowed to stay and fight.  Maylene was explaining that allowing a Werewolf to fight was dangerous not only because of their strength, but because they transformed and could draw undue attention in that way.
“Hello, Mr…  Erich.  I’m pleased to see that you are doing alright, though you seem rather worse for the wear.” Maylene said, turning around and seeing the wounds on the three Vampires and the fact that Erich was missing an eye.
“Big Brother!! Y-your left eye!! What happened!?” Lillian yelled, jumping over the back of the pew and running over to Erich, hugging him rather more tightly than was needed.
“It is not serious.  I was able to heal the worst of my injuries.  However, my left eye, it seems is gone forever.  Do not fret.  It is not the end of the world.  You wore an eye patch for a long time.  I am sure that I can as well.  Besides, from what I have learned, eye patches have something of a vogue in Japan.” Erich said with a light sense of humor.
“Big Brother! You need to drink from me! Please! Just drink and heal yourself!” Lillian pleaded.  Erich shook his head.
“You should know that I will not drink from you save in the most dire of circumstances.  It is simply not safe.  Your blood has the most divine taste.  But I cannot risk harming you.”
“Big Brother…” Lillian groaned.  “Please…  I-I don’t want you to suffer…”
“It can only be called suffering if one allows it to be.  Suffering is defined by how a person experiences it.  Pain is always pain as the word ‘pain’ simply implies a physically or emotionally unpleasant sensation.  ‘Suffering’ implies that the pain causes extended distress and that the person allows the pain to control them and their actions.” Erich said.  The group looked at him oddly.
“That sort of seems like splitting hairs, Erich…” Rael said.  Erich shrugged at this.  Philosophy had always been a strong point for him, and so he always tried to look at things from a philosophical standpoint.  Minerva, unlike Rael seemed impressed by Erich’s distinction between pain and suffering.
“I think that’s really deep, Erich…” Minerva said cheerfully, standing up, apparently over her moping.
“I take it the fight has ended, Erich?” Maylene asked.  Erich and Saki both nodded.
“May I ask why you haven’t healed up yet?” Maylene asked, looking slightly worried.
“There is not a need yet.  I will do so once I have had some blood to drink.  I would not ask Doctor Anderson to use her own Blood to heal me when I could simply do it for myself.”
“I see.  You can drink from me…  If you think it will help…” Maylene said politely.  Erich sighed.  All of his friends were so kind to him, and he never felt like he did enough for them.  He only seemed to get his friends into more danger.  Already in the five months that he had been awake he had gotten them into another war.
“You needn’t worry about hurting me, Erich.  My blood is potent because I’m a natural lycanthrope.  All lycanthropes have potent blood, but the natural lycanthropes are known to have blood that far exceeds the potency of infected ones.  It’s one of the things that my family often uses as evidence that natural lycanthropes are inherently superior to infected lycanthropes.  Please don’t hesitate…”
“Actually, Mr. Zann…  I wouldn’t if I were you…” Rael said nervously, finally speaking up.  Erich had already bitten Maylene’s neck, though, and started drinking blood.  It wasn’t to last long, though.  As soon as the blood went into his stomach, Erich retched and pulled away from Maylene, vomiting violently, bloody ashes coming from his stomach and out his mouth.  Fortunately, there were no clergy in the church that late at night.  After a minute, Erich stopped his vomiting and stood up straight, gasping.
“I told you it wasn’t a good idea, Mr. Zann…  I suspect that by now your Selective Digestion has set in.  That is, there are certain types of blood that you can drink and certain types that you cannot.  It may have set in well before this, but you just didn’t notice…”
“Well…  How am I expected to know what types of blood I am able to drink and what types I am unable to drink? And by type, do you mean Blood Type?”
“Well…  It could feasibly be as simple as blood type.  However, it is more likely that you possess a taste for a certain ‘type’ of person…  Such as the blood of an Irish person, or that of a Japanese person.”
“That is a little bit racist…” Erich said, more to himself than to Rael.
“It is merely a failsafe that the Inconnu implanted in you to ensure that if you did escape that you would be lost without them.  They didn’t mention it to you for good reason.”
“I see…  And what would my preferred blood type be?”
“Well…  I-I don’t know…  Either nobody other than you could find out or they just never told me.  Though I would advise you to think back to the blood of the first person from whom you ever drank.  That is likely a good place for you to start.”
Erich thought for a moment and then it hit him.  The first person he ever drank from was Saki.
“I drank from Saki-chan first.  That was the very night I was Embraced.  I was in the Czech Republic and I was wandering the streets when I was accosted by Stella Magnus Fleir and she Embraced me.  I went back to the hotel and Saki noticed that I was not looking well.  One thing led to another and she hit her head, drawing blood.  I drank from her and then vomited the blood up.  But she was the first person from whom I ever drank.
“What kind of blood does Miss Yoshino have?”
“Um…”
“I’m AB-…  Blood donation companies called me somewhat often because of the rarity of my blood type…”
“I don’t think that blood type is the exact thing you seek in a person’s blood, though…  Mr. Zann…  What is Miss Yoshino’s racial background?”
“Well…  I-I’m actually mixed…  My mother was Irish and my father was Japanese.  My father’s side of the family was pretty homogenous…  I could draw out a family tree, if you really like…  But it might take a few minutes…”
“Don’t waste your time, Miss Yoshino…  Just tell us what your background is…”
“Well…  It’s probably safest to just say that my family is Irish and Japanese…  I-it’s actually a pretty funny story…”
“I see…  So Miss Yoshino is Irish/Japanese.  That would mean that Erich would find his blood type in Irish or Japanese people…  But that seems a pretty wide selection of people…  If you don’t take into account people of mixed race, that’s at least 20 million people on whom Erich could feed.  
“A-actually…  Rael-san…  M-my mother was only 2/3 Irish.  She was 1/3 Welsh.” Saki said nervously.  Rael nodded.
“I see.  Then perhaps Erich could drink Welsh blood.  There’s not really a guarantee, though.  1/3 isn’t really much.  That would mean that your mother’s grandmother was Welsh, or that your grandmother was half-Welsh.  Miss Vesperina, please join us for a moment?” Rael asked politely.  Lillian scampered up to Erich and Rael.
“Y-yes? I-I’ll do whatever I can to help…”
“I just need you first to tell me what your background is racially…”
“Well…  My mother was Welsh/Irish and my father was German, may his soul burn in Xoria forever.”
“Okay…  Mr. Zann…  Take a sip of Miss Vesperina’s blood…  Don’t worry…  I’ll be here to stop you if you get carried away…”
Erich looked around nervously and knelt over Lillian, who was much shorter than him still, barely standing 5’1”.  He slowly plunged his fangs into her neck, taking a sip of her blood, forcing himself to stop as soon as he swallowed a little bit.  This blood he didn’t regurgitate.  That meant that at least Irish, German and Welsh blood was good for him.
“Now that you know this, you should attempt to determine from a look what kind of blood a person has.  I suspect that the Inconnu didn’t take into account your aura detection and your synesthesia, as they probably weren’t aware of it.  If you focus, you may be able to determine their blood through their aura…  I would advise you to begin practicing while for the moment you feed on known safe donors.” Rael said, speaking very rationally about the issue.
Erich nodded, and turned to Rael, using his Aura reading to the greatest of his abilities…  He looked at her aura.  It smelled like…  Wet grass…  It tasted like…  Type AO blood…  He was sure he felt the gritty feeling of a modified human on her.  But he couldn’t tell the race or nationality.  He focused, though, and moved onto Minerva, as he already knew Rael’s background.
Minerva’s aura was spiked, heavy and slightly intimidating, just as Gareth’s was.  She was definitely her father’s daughter, and had the same fierce personality.  It was colored like a flickering green flame and smelled like the woods in fall.  It tasted like…  Sweden? He wasn’t sure how he knew what Sweden tasted like.  There was also Canadian in her aura.  Probably Maylene was Swedish and obviously, Gareth was Canadian.  He couldn’t tell any further back than Minerva’s parents.  He would have to work harder on refining his aura detection, though he could tell that her blood was type B-.  Just like Saki, she was a rare blood type.  Erich had no doubt that the Red Cross or whatever Blood Donation organization existed in 2113 called her often, or would in the future.
“Well, Miss Rotschreck…  Your blood type is B-…  I am fairly sure you knew that already, though…”
“Actually, Mr. Zann…  I didn’t know.  How did you know?”
“Your aura told me.  I am trying to train myself to detect people’s nationality in their auras.  For example, you are Swedish/Canadian, and Rael is Welsh/Irish.  Of course, I could have told you both that even if I had not read your auras, as Rael has told me her parents’ nationalities and I met Gareth in Canada.”
“But my mother? How did you determine that she was Swedish?”
“If Gareth was Canadian, what else could she be?” Erich asked, surprised at how obtuse Minerva was being.
“Well…  One of my grandparents could have been Swedish…”
“No.  The presence of Swedish could not have been more than one generation removed from your own.  My ability to determine nationality is not yet refined enough to determine two or more generations removed.”
“I-I guess that makes sense…  But you could’ve looked at Mommy and determined what she is.”
“I certainly could have.  However, I was simply testing a number of people to determine those on whom I would be able to feed while I determine the limits of my feeding restriction.”
“Your feeding restriction?” Minerva asked, surprised and slightly disgusted at the idea.  “What the hell? You never had any restrictions before! Daddy told me about what happened with you a hundred years ago…  That you fed on most of the group at least once if not more times, and fed on strangers…  Men, women of all births…”
“It is difficult to explain if you are not open to seemingly improbable situations.  For example, a century ago before I met Miss Arinson, I would have believed that human modification was impossible.  I would have believed that a person with no supernatural powers, per se aged at such a slow rate.  I was proven wrong.  If you can believe in Werewolves, Vampires and Liches, why should you not believe in what I am explaining?” Erich asked sternly.  Minerva huffed, irritated and crossed her arms in an exaggerated display of annoyance and offense.
“Fine…  I’ll listen to what you’re saying.”
“Rael explained to me, and I have no reason to disbelieve her that the Inconnu most likely imbued me with a number of exaggerated weaknesses that would help to keep me compliant with the Inconnu, even if I did not want to be.  For example, on the night after I reawoke, I acted as though I had gone into a Blood Rage and assaulted the scientists that were running experiments on the results of the modification process.  The head scientist pressed a button on his watch, activating a node in my body that shocked me rather severely.  It stopped my attack.  The fallacy behind that was that the watch could be destroyed, and it was.  Another weakness they ‘programmed’ into me was my Aurakinesis, which is both a strength and a weakness.  While I can theoretically go out in the sun if I am using my Aurakinesis, it also drains Blood at an exorbitant rate due to the fact that I must continue to expend Blood as long as I am in the light or begin to burn.
“The third major weakness that they employed in me was my feeding restriction.  I suspect that the main reason that I have not noticed it up until now is that I have not only naturally been feeding on those to whom I am drawn, but also because after I awoke from my hundred year long Eclipse, I needed time to recover.  While the noticeable effects of an Eclipse generally disappear after a month at most, the intensified thirst usually lasts longer.”
“Well…  Where did you go before England?” Minerva asked politely.
“Japan.  We went to warn Saki’s most immediate family of the danger that they were in.  They have fled Japan and gone to another country.  I do not know where.”
“Did you drink blood in Japan?”
“Of course I did…  I could not refrain from doing so.  I would weaken if I did.”
“Did you drink both from men and women, just women or just men?”
“Only women…  I find that it is easier to convince a woman that I am interested in spending time with her.  Then I use my psychic hypnotic suggestion and draw her into an alley, drink her blood and wipe her memories.  She wakes up with no more than the feeling that she had a good dream.”
“So your feeding restriction is probably Eire and Japanese women.”
“Do you have any Eire in you, Miss Rotschreck?” Erich asked suspiciously.  Minerva shook her head.
“I think one of my grandmothers on my mother’s side married a Manx Werewolf who had been the ruler of the Isle for as long as anyone there could remember…  Actually…  I may have even met him once…  And if I’m not entirely mistaken, Daddy…”
“Yes…  Gareth’s mother was Welsh.” Maylene said politely.
“That makes some sense, then.  That means that of the group, I could drink from Minerva, Maylene, Lillian, or Miss Arinson, though I do not doubt that Gareth would be displeased if I drank from his daughter or his wife.”
“Why should you be able to drink from Jessica? She’s not Japanese or Irish…  Or is she?”
“Well…  According to Jessica, her mother’s name was Tomoe Gozen, and she was a Samurai.  I do not know anything of her father’s heritage.  However, I at least know that she is female and has Japanese ancestry.”
“You forgot about Elain, Mr. Zann…” Minerva said quietly.
“I did? I forgot about her for what?”
“I believe that Miss Rotschreck means that Brother forgot that he could feed from Elain…” Elain said, standing up quietly, startling Erich with her presence.
“Elain is slightly hurt that nobody ever seems to notice her.  She admits that she is quiet, but that is not a reason to forget she exists.”
“My apologies, Elain.  However, even though I could technically feed from you, I would not.  I would not wish to harm you.”
“Elain sees.  We had better hurry and get back home.  Elain does not wish to miss the plane tomorrow.”
With not a further word, the group left the church and went back to Erich’s completely ruined house and began to pack up what supplies they could find.  Erich knew that he would have to pay for the extensive damage to his relative’s house…  How were they related again? First cousin once removed? Yeah, that was it.  His aunt’s great granddaughter and her husband’s house.  What was their name? Victoria and Klaus Nylund.  They didn’t have the last name ‘Zann’ because his direct relative was a woman and thus, her last name changed when she married Klaus.
“I am tired of paying to repair people’s houses.  I suppose collateral damage is one of the side effects of war, though…” Erich said to himself as they walked through the streets and finally got to the house.
Chapter Eleven

As soon as Erich was sure that Maylene and the children were out, he called the rest of the group down, and ordered Rael to follow Maylene, giving her the same telepathic instructions he had given Maylene.  Though Rael complained, she lost the argument and shuffled unhappily out of the house, heading to the church.

“Good.  Now, we are able to fight without being interrupted.” Erich said stiffly, annoyed that his house was going to be destroyed.  The elders smirked, though Hyde’s smirk looked more like a maniacal leering grin, given his lopsided face.
“It’sssss true that we can fight freely, now…  But it ssssseemssss unfair…  We are outnumbered by you significantly.  Two againssssst Sssix…  Three to one ssseemsss very unfair…  We must even the odds…” Hyde said, whistling with a shrieking whistle that called two more modified humans to their side.
“Good evening, honored targets of the Inconnu…” Said one ot the modified humans.  “My name is Phineas Flynn Sharpe.” He said.  Erich took a look at him, assessing the man.  He could see that Phineas was tall, slender and seemed lithe and quick on his feet.  Given the fact that he only had in his possession handguns and knives, Erich assumed that he wasn’t overly strong.  He was probably more skilled in feats of dexterity, intellect, and accuracy than he was in feats of strength.
On the other hand, the other man was tall as well, but extremely muscular and looked as though he could crush rocks with his fists with ease.
“My name is Ivan…  I was created through genetic testing when the blood of your former friend…”
“Shut your mouth, Ivan!” Phineas snapped.  “You should learn when not to explain your abilities.”
“I believe I understand…  Regardless, perhaps we should simply begin.  I have not got Blood to spare.” Erich said, moving in a flash and using his telekinesis to take his katana in hand and slash Ivan’s arm.  Erich found, though that his swing wasn’t hard enough to sever it.  Ivan seemed to have a sort of natural armor that prevented Erich’s sword from cutting through his flesh all the way.  It made a decent cut, but did not even cut the bone.  Erich pulled out rapidly and moved back, taking his wakizashi in his other hand, preparing for a true battle.  This was going to be harder than he could have expected.
Saki nodded, seeing that Erich’s weapon didn’t work.  She was fairly certain that she knew what to do.  She had found over the years a sword that was only one molecule thick and thus would allow her to cut through even the strongest and thickest things like a hot knife through butter.  It had cost her more than her home to buy, but now she saw that it was worth it.  She took it out and flicked it, moving and cutting right through Ivan’s arm.  Ivan roared in agony and rage and grabbed Saki’s arm, breaking it rather severely before lifting her in the air and slamming her into the ground on her back.  He then took her molecular cutter and looked at it.
“How did you get this? The Inconnu has not released any of these to the public yet…” He growled.
“If you would remove your hand from my…  Chest…  Perhaps I could tell you…  Thank you.  I have a few private contacts through Jessica.  They have proven very useful.  This sword cost more than my cousin’s house…  But it was completely worth it.” Saki said, surprising Ivan with her telekinesis, using it to draw the sword back to her, slicing through his leg as she did so, causing him to fall to the ground.
“As you can see, Elders…  This will not be an easy battle for you.  Saki-chan has no doubt already healed her wounds.  Please leave and do not drag this out.” Erich said quietly and calmly.  He was far from in the mood for a fight.
“You’re right.  This won’t be an easy battle for us.  That’s why we decided to bring assistance.  Miss Zann…  Please join us…”  Julius said calmly.  Slowly, Erich saw a shadow getting longer as it approached the front door, and after a few minutes, his half-sister walked in.  Erich cursed under his breath as Carmilla grinned cheerfully but sinisterly at him.
“Hi…  My sweet brother…  I’m so happy to see you again!” Carmilla said, surprising Erich with how friendly she was being.  Suddenly, she moved across the room in a flash and embraced Erich tightly, kissing him on the lips, shocking Saki and Erich both to the core.
“Carmilla…  Please do not kiss me…” Erich said irritably.  “I do not like you.  I never have and I never will.  I do not know how much clearer I can possibly be…”
“Oh, I don’t like you either, Big Bro…” Carmilla said casually.  “I just wondered if you would notice…”
“You wondered if I would notice what?” Erich asked, becoming more and more irate by the moment with the woman who not only had no sense of personal boundaries, but also seemed intent on causing trouble for him.
“I’m disappointed in you, Big Bro…  Didn’t you notice how cold my lips were against yours? Yours, on the other hand were pretty warm.  You should avoid using your Blood to mimic life unless it’s vital to your survival…  Shortly after the Inconnu turned me into a modified human, they had one of their older Vampire members that they recently modified as well Embrace me…  It was a pretty amazing sensation…  Just being bitten was like Heaven…  But then she cut herself and gave me some of her own Blood…  Ecstasy in its purest form…  I felt like I was in Nirvana…” Carmilla gasped.  “But then…  The pain…  I couldn’t believe it…  I couldn’t believe that you would let yourself be put in that much pain…  And you, Saki-chan…  I had no idea you were such a raving masochist…  You sexual deviant…” Carmilla cooed, smirking in that infuriating way she had about her.
Erich didn’t wait for Carmilla to finish, though.  He took out his modified Smith & Wesson Model 500 and shot Carmilla right in the head.  Carmilla gasped and fell over, her brains and fragments of her skull splattered all over the floor and walls.  After a moment, though, Carmilla smirked and stood up, laughing at Erich’s futile attempt to kill her.
“Big Bro…  I’m disappointed…  Really.  Did you think that a bullet to the head would kill a modified Zann Vampire.  Really…  So naïve…”
“No.  I was just distracting you…”
In the next moment, Carmilla gasped in pain and rage as a stake erupted from her back and through her chest, directly where her heart was.  Allen smirked at the look on Carmilla’s face.
“You’re beautiful, sweetheart…  But I can’t allow you to mess up our plans to leave.  We need to trash your organization and destroy you.” Allen said.  For a moment, Carmilla tried weakly to pull the stake out of her heart.  However, she soon lost her strength and fell to the ground.  In the moment that the stake hit the ground, it whirred and exploded outward, spraying metal shards all through Carmilla’s body.
“Damn! We were ordered to be cautious with Carmilla’s body.  She’s just been modified recently…”
“It isssn’t our fault…  Ssshhe… Rushed in and got staked.” Hyde said.  “We ssshhould not hang around.  Goodbye, so called heroes…  You survived Ssssamael…  We sssshall see if you ssssurvive usss…” Hyde hissed, taking something out of his pocket and throwing it at them.  As soon as it hit the ground, it exploded violently.  Erich put up a telekinetic shield around as many of them as he could, making sure that each shield was limited to the person’s personal space so that the bomb was not caught in any of them.  
Regardless, though, most of them took a fair amount of damage, and by the time the dust settled and they could see again, the Inconnu was gone, having taken Carmilla with them.  Erich cursed.  He was hurt, and had numerous lacerations, and his left eye was gone, perhaps due to the fact that he had not used an equal amount of force in the entire shield.  He also noticed that his right arm was hanging limply by his side, bones exposed in several places.
“Damn.  I am terribly thirsty, and I would imagine that Saki-chan is as well.  However, it will not be easy to hunt for either of us.” Erich said calmly, finding that several of his teeth were broken.  He healed himself as best he could with the limited amount of blood he had in his system, but found that he could not heal his eye.  Maybe it was an effect of the bomb?
“You’re no doubt wondering why you can’t heal your eye, right?” Allen asked.  Erich nodded.
“The Inconnu has created several substances that can hamper Vampiric powers.  In this case, N4Br8Bh2Ra22, when heated to 3000oK and held in a vacuum sealed shell will explode with great force, not only causing massive damage to everything in the area, but also has a limited ability to bypass telekinetic shields and hamper Vampiric healing and other powers.  Unlike the mixture in the bullet, though, it does not force the Vampire to expend Blood wastefully, and it will pass through the Vampire’s system in about twenty-four hours and become inert.  However, I wouldn’t count on being able to fix that eye, Erich…  One of the side effects of the gas is that damage to parts of the body that are merely avatars for the brain so to speak cannot regrow, even with all the Blood in the world.  I’d find a nice eye patch.”
“Thank you.  Well, my arm is not as strong as it was.  However, I must go out and find some blood.  No, I will not drink from any of you.  Saki-chan…  Doctor Anderson, please join me.  I do not doubt that you also crave blood.”
“Y-yeah…  H-how did you know, Erich…?”
“I am psychic, remember?” Erich lied.  The truth was that he simply had gotten a good feeling for these things.  So he took Saki’s hand gently and led her out into the streets, Abigail following quickly behind.
“Perhaps we should meet with the others first.  They will no doubt be wondering what happened to us.”

Erich led the way into the church and found the small group that included Maylene, Minerva, Junas, Selene and Cyrus (the twins), Rael, and Lillian sitting in a pew.  Minerva had woken up a short while ago, and was still fuming over not being allowed to stay and fight.  Maylene was explaining that allowing a Werewolf to fight was dangerous not only because of their strength, but because they transformed and could draw undue attention in that way.
“Hello, Mr…  Erich.  I’m pleased to see that you are doing alright, though you seem rather worse for the wear.” Maylene said, turning around and seeing the wounds on the three Vampires and the fact that Erich was missing an eye.
“Big Brother!! Y-your left eye!! What happened!?” Lillian yelled, jumping over the back of the pew and running over to Erich, hugging him rather more tightly than was needed.
“It is not serious.  I was able to heal the worst of my injuries.  However, my left eye, it seems is gone forever.  Do not fret.  It is not the end of the world.  You wore an eye patch for a long time.  I am sure that I can as well.  Besides, from what I have learned, eye patches have something of a vogue in Japan.” Erich said with a light sense of humor.
“Big Brother! You need to drink from me! Please! Just drink and heal yourself!” Lillian pleaded.  Erich shook his head.
“You should know that I will not drink from you save in the most dire of circumstances.  It is simply not safe.  Your blood has the most divine taste.  But I cannot risk harming you.”
“Big Brother…” Lillian groaned.  “Please…  I-I don’t want you to suffer…”
“It can only be called suffering if one allows it to be.  Suffering is defined by how a person experiences it.  Pain is always pain as the word ‘pain’ simply implies a physically or emotionally unpleasant sensation.  ‘Suffering’ implies that the pain causes extended distress and that the person allows the pain to control them and their actions.” Erich said.  The group looked at him oddly.
“That sort of seems like splitting hairs, Erich…” Rael said.  Erich shrugged at this.  Philosophy had always been a strong point for him, and so he always tried to look at things from a philosophical standpoint.  Minerva, unlike Rael seemed impressed by Erich’s distinction between pain and suffering.
“I think that’s really deep, Erich…” Minerva said cheerfully, standing up, apparently over her moping.
“I take it the fight has ended, Erich?” Maylene asked.  Erich and Saki both nodded.
“May I ask why you haven’t healed up yet?” Maylene asked, looking slightly worried.
“There is not a need yet.  I will do so once I have had some blood to drink.  I would not ask Doctor Anderson to use her own Blood to heal me when I could simply do it for myself.”
“I see.  You can drink from me…  If you think it will help…” Maylene said politely.  Erich sighed.  All of his friends were so kind to him, and he never felt like he did enough for them.  He only seemed to get his friends into more danger.  Already in the five months that he had been awake he had gotten them into another war.
“You needn’t worry about hurting me, Erich.  My blood is potent because I’m a natural lycanthrope.  All lycanthropes have potent blood, but the natural lycanthropes are known to have blood that far exceeds the potency of infected ones.  It’s one of the things that my family often uses as evidence that natural lycanthropes are inherently superior to infected lycanthropes.  Please don’t hesitate…”
“Actually, Mr. Zann…  I wouldn’t if I were you…” Rael said nervously, finally speaking up.  Erich had already bitten Maylene’s neck, though, and started drinking blood.  It wasn’t to last long, though.  As soon as the blood went into his stomach, Erich retched and pulled away from Maylene, vomiting violently, bloody ashes coming from his stomach and out his mouth.  Fortunately, there were no clergy in the church that late at night.  After a minute, Erich stopped his vomiting and stood up straight, gasping.
“I told you it wasn’t a good idea, Mr. Zann…  I suspect that by now your Selective Digestion has set in.  That is, there are certain types of blood that you can drink and certain types that you cannot.  It may have set in well before this, but you just didn’t notice…”
“Well…  How am I expected to know what types of blood I am able to drink and what types I am unable to drink? And by type, do you mean Blood Type?”
“Well…  It could feasibly be as simple as blood type.  However, it is more likely that you possess a taste for a certain ‘type’ of person…  Such as the blood of an Irish person, or that of a Japanese person.”
“That is a little bit racist…” Erich said, more to himself than to Rael.
“It is merely a failsafe that the Inconnu implanted in you to ensure that if you did escape that you would be lost without them.  They didn’t mention it to you for good reason.”
“I see…  And what would my preferred blood type be?”
“Well…  I-I don’t know…  Either nobody other than you could find out or they just never told me.  Though I would advise you to think back to the blood of the first person from whom you ever drank.  That is likely a good place for you to start.”
Erich thought for a moment and then it hit him.  The first person he ever drank from was Saki.
“I drank from Saki-chan first.  That was the very night I was Embraced.  I was in the Czech Republic and I was wandering the streets when I was accosted by Stella Magnus Fleir and she Embraced me.  I went back to the hotel and Saki noticed that I was not looking well.  One thing led to another and she hit her head, drawing blood.  I drank from her and then vomited the blood up.  But she was the first person from whom I ever drank.
“What kind of blood does Miss Yoshino have?”
“Um…”
“I’m AB-…  Blood donation companies called me somewhat often because of the rarity of my blood type…”
“I don’t think that blood type is the exact thing you seek in a person’s blood, though…  Mr. Zann…  What is Miss Yoshino’s racial background?”
“Well…  I-I’m actually mixed…  My mother was Irish and my father was Japanese.  My father’s side of the family was pretty homogenous…  I could draw out a family tree, if you really like…  But it might take a few minutes…”
“Don’t waste your time, Miss Yoshino…  Just tell us what your background is…”
“Well…  It’s probably safest to just say that my family is Irish and Japanese…  I-it’s actually a pretty funny story…”
“I see…  So Miss Yoshino is Irish/Japanese.  That would mean that Erich would find his blood type in Irish or Japanese people…  But that seems a pretty wide selection of people…  If you don’t take into account people of mixed race, that’s at least 20 million people on whom Erich could feed.  
“A-actually…  Rael-san…  M-my mother was only 2/3 Irish.  She was 1/3 Welsh.” Saki said nervously.  Rael nodded.
“I see.  Then perhaps Erich could drink Welsh blood.  There’s not really a guarantee, though.  1/3 isn’t really much.  That would mean that your mother’s grandmother was Welsh, or that your grandmother was half-Welsh.  Miss Vesperina, please join us for a moment?” Rael asked politely.  Lillian scampered up to Erich and Rael.
“Y-yes? I-I’ll do whatever I can to help…”
“I just need you first to tell me what your background is racially…”
“Well…  My mother was Welsh/Irish and my father was German, may his soul burn in Xoria forever.”
“Okay…  Mr. Zann…  Take a sip of Miss Vesperina’s blood…  Don’t worry…  I’ll be here to stop you if you get carried away…”
Erich looked around nervously and knelt over Lillian, who was much shorter than him still, barely standing 5’1”.  He slowly plunged his fangs into her neck, taking a sip of her blood, forcing himself to stop as soon as he swallowed a little bit.  This blood he didn’t regurgitate.  That meant that at least Irish, German and Welsh blood was good for him.
“Now that you know this, you should attempt to determine from a look what kind of blood a person has.  I suspect that the Inconnu didn’t take into account your aura detection and your synesthesia, as they probably weren’t aware of it.  If you focus, you may be able to determine their blood through their aura…  I would advise you to begin practicing while for the moment you feed on known safe donors.” Rael said, speaking very rationally about the issue.
Erich nodded, and turned to Rael, using his Aura reading to the greatest of his abilities…  He looked at her aura.  It smelled like…  Wet grass…  It tasted like…  Type AO blood…  He was sure he felt the gritty feeling of a modified human on her.  But he couldn’t tell the race or nationality.  He focused, though, and moved onto Minerva, as he already knew Rael’s background.
Minerva’s aura was spiked, heavy and slightly intimidating, just as Gareth’s was.  She was definitely her father’s daughter, and had the same fierce personality.  It was colored like a flickering green flame and smelled like the woods in fall.  It tasted like…  Sweden? He wasn’t sure how he knew what Sweden tasted like.  There was also Canadian in her aura.  Probably Maylene was Swedish and obviously, Gareth was Canadian.  He couldn’t tell any further back than Minerva’s parents.  He would have to work harder on refining his aura detection, though he could tell that her blood was type B-.  Just like Saki, she was a rare blood type.  Erich had no doubt that the Red Cross or whatever Blood Donation organization existed in 2113 called her often, or would in the future.
“Well, Miss Rotschreck…  Your blood type is B-…  I am fairly sure you knew that already, though…”
“Actually, Mr. Zann…  I didn’t know.  How did you know?”
“Your aura told me.  I am trying to train myself to detect people’s nationality in their auras.  For example, you are Swedish/Canadian, and Rael is Welsh/Irish.  Of course, I could have told you both that even if I had not read your auras, as Rael has told me her parents’ nationalities and I met Gareth in Canada.”
“But my mother? How did you determine that she was Swedish?”
“If Gareth was Canadian, what else could she be?” Erich asked, surprised at how obtuse Minerva was being.
“Well…  One of my grandparents could have been Swedish…”
“No.  The presence of Swedish could not have been more than one generation removed from your own.  My ability to determine nationality is not yet refined enough to determine two or more generations removed.”
“I-I guess that makes sense…  But you could’ve looked at Mommy and determined what she is.”
“I certainly could have.  However, I was simply testing a number of people to determine those on whom I would be able to feed while I determine the limits of my feeding restriction.”
“Your feeding restriction?” Minerva asked, surprised and slightly disgusted at the idea.  “What the hell? You never had any restrictions before! Daddy told me about what happened with you a hundred years ago…  That you fed on most of the group at least once if not more times, and fed on strangers…  Men, women of all births…”
“It is difficult to explain if you are not open to seemingly improbable situations.  For example, a century ago before I met Miss Arinson, I would have believed that human modification was impossible.  I would have believed that a person with no supernatural powers, per se aged at such a slow rate.  I was proven wrong.  If you can believe in Werewolves, Vampires and Liches, why should you not believe in what I am explaining?” Erich asked sternly.  Minerva huffed, irritated and crossed her arms in an exaggerated display of annoyance and offense.
“Fine…  I’ll listen to what you’re saying.”
“Rael explained to me, and I have no reason to disbelieve her that the Inconnu most likely imbued me with a number of exaggerated weaknesses that would help to keep me compliant with the Inconnu, even if I did not want to be.  For example, on the night after I reawoke, I acted as though I had gone into a Blood Rage and assaulted the scientists that were running experiments on the results of the modification process.  The head scientist pressed a button on his watch, activating a node in my body that shocked me rather severely.  It stopped my attack.  The fallacy behind that was that the watch could be destroyed, and it was.  Another weakness they ‘programmed’ into me was my Aurakinesis, which is both a strength and a weakness.  While I can theoretically go out in the sun if I am using my Aurakinesis, it also drains Blood at an exorbitant rate due to the fact that I must continue to expend Blood as long as I am in the light or begin to burn.
“The third major weakness that they employed in me was my feeding restriction.  I suspect that the main reason that I have not noticed it up until now is that I have not only naturally been feeding on those to whom I am drawn, but also because after I awoke from my hundred year long Eclipse, I needed time to recover.  While the noticeable effects of an Eclipse generally disappear after a month at most, the intensified thirst usually lasts longer.”
“Well…  Where did you go before England?” Minerva asked politely.
“Japan.  We went to warn Saki’s most immediate family of the danger that they were in.  They have fled Japan and gone to another country.  I do not know where.”
“Did you drink blood in Japan?”
“Of course I did…  I could not refrain from doing so.  I would weaken if I did.”
“Did you drink both from men and women, just women or just men?”
“Only women…  I find that it is easier to convince a woman that I am interested in spending time with her.  Then I use my psychic hypnotic suggestion and draw her into an alley, drink her blood and wipe her memories.  She wakes up with no more than the feeling that she had a good dream.”
“So your feeding restriction is probably Eire and Japanese women.”
“Do you have any Eire in you, Miss Rotschreck?” Erich asked suspiciously.  Minerva shook her head.
“I think one of my grandmothers on my mother’s side married a Manx Werewolf who had been the ruler of the Isle for as long as anyone there could remember…  Actually…  I may have even met him once…  And if I’m not entirely mistaken, Daddy…”
“Yes…  Gareth’s mother was Welsh.” Maylene said politely.
“That makes some sense, then.  That means that of the group, I could drink from Minerva, Maylene, Lillian, or Miss Arinson, though I do not doubt that Gareth would be displeased if I drank from his daughter or his wife.”
“Why should you be able to drink from Jessica? She’s not Japanese or Irish…  Or is she?”
“Well…  According to Jessica, her mother’s name was Tomoe Gozen, and she was a Samurai.  I do not know anything of her father’s heritage.  However, I at least know that she is female and has Japanese ancestry.”
“You forgot about Elain, Mr. Zann…” Minerva said quietly.
“I did? I forgot about her for what?”
“I believe that Miss Rotschreck means that Brother forgot that he could feed from Elain…” Elain said, standing up quietly, startling Erich with her presence.
“Elain is slightly hurt that nobody ever seems to notice her.  She admits that she is quiet, but that is not a reason to forget she exists.”
“My apologies, Elain.  However, even though I could technically feed from you, I would not.  I would not wish to harm you.”
“Elain sees.  We had better hurry and get back home.  Elain does not wish to miss the plane tomorrow.”
With not a further word, the group left the church and went back to Erich’s completely ruined house and began to pack up what supplies they could find.  Erich knew that he would have to pay for the extensive damage to his relative’s house…  How were they related again? First cousin once removed? Yeah, that was it.  His aunt’s great granddaughter and her husband’s house.  What was their name? Victoria and Klaus Nylund.  They didn’t have the last name ‘Zann’ because his direct relative was a woman and thus, her last name changed when she married Klaus.
“I am tired of paying to repair people’s houses.  I suppose collateral damage is one of the side effects of war, though…” Erich said to himself as they walked through the streets and finally got to the house.

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Artemis1987
William
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Okay... I'm 26 years old, and am deeply interested in fanfiction, vampires, werewolves and zombies (not weird ass sparkly shit Vampire wannabes), writing, Dungeons and Dragons. Ladies, I'm single, as if any more needs to be said. I also like taking pictures, although I'm not that great at it, my photos are passable.
I like people who are polite and respectful, and although rude people annoy me, I can handle them. It's stupid people and arrogant people who treat others like they're stupid that really piss me off. I'm not aggressive or confrontational (for the most part) and I generally expect others to be the same way towards me. If not, I don't have time for you. I get enough jerks at my job. I don't need them on my free time as well.
www.mindistortion.tv/iwantyour…
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:iconhekkoto:
Hekkoto Featured By Owner 5 hours ago
thx for fav ^^
if you like it look on my gallery, I have many arts in this type :D (Big Grin)
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:iconsissadds:
sissadDS Featured By Owner 15 hours ago  Student Traditional Artist
hello!! i came here to thank u for faving my sissadds.deviantart.com/art/YA… !! im so so glad u liked it :3 :3 and also to tell you that i have the video about how i drew it, its in my youtube channel here! youtu.be/c4iXN_3bTP0 !! when ill get 200 subs ill start making tutorials, but its another story xDDD 

oh and also invite you to visit my galery and stay atent of the manga ill start uploading on january :3 there will be things like MURDERERS, MURDER (obveously if there are murderers, there is a murder lol) massacres, mutilations, and everything that will make it so so so gore! : i luuuv it.. im already working on it and ill start uploading it here www.sissadds.wix.com/jonahxjag… :3 ill be writing some creepy stories on that website too :3 you can sign up very easily so i can bring u only the most important news... only if u want of course.. (and if u wanna stay alive (?)

well, its longer than i thought.. anyway, hello from Chile! i wish u the very best with ur art ....and gore for you, gore for me , gore for everyone cuz its amazing... (and hentai too but dont tell anyone xDD)! xDDD AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
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:iconvalannaria:
valannaria Featured By Owner 15 hours ago
Thx for the :+fav :heart:
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:iconblackforestpeakmaho:
blackforestpeakmaho Featured By Owner 2 days ago
thanks for the fave 
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:iconarwenpanther:
arwenpanther Featured By Owner 3 days ago  New member Student Filmographer
Thanks for the :+fav: !! ;)
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:iconblackforestpeakmaho:
blackforestpeakmaho Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Thanks for the fave
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:iconpokechan13:
Pokechan13 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the +2 faves. ^u^
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:icongump65:
gump65 Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Student Filmographer
Hey man I'm so excited for chapter 7 man 
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:iconartemis1987:
Artemis1987 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, so far, everything I've come up with has been fail and AIDS.  So it may be a little while.
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:icongump65:
gump65 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Student Filmographer
Well what did you have before you decided to shit fan it 
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