[R]6.16 Slumber Party [Part 3]


Leon held his phone up and angled it towards the statue that Maric was posing in front of. He used a combination of a flash and the illumination from the street lights nearby to get it just right. “This looks like a man with a ton of misery, right? A weird thing for a scavenger hunt, but whatever.” 


If you’ve got a statue of yourself there’s no way you’re happy. Imagine what was given up for those achievements.” Maric frowned, looking over at Dionysus who had decided to order the trio warm beverages. “Speaking of…what do you make of our new teacher?”


“He’s a good friend of Graciela’s mom, and I’ve known her forever. Charlotte wouldn’t waste her time on someone she thought was evil and Dionysus seems nice enough so I’ll trust him for now.” 


“I think I trust him too,” Maric said with a slight nod. “He’s a funny guy.” 


Leon couldn’t help but grin. “This outing is kind of fun, isn’t it? When’s the last time we did something together, without arguing?”


“Yeah, about that…” Maric came over to Leon and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t have muddled with you and Graciela. I just wanted to get a rise out of you. You seem so hyper focused on her but you know that you can’t do that when we’re trying to save the world.”

Screenshot-4“I know,” Leon said. “But it’s not so easy for me to put my feelings to the side and look at the bigger picture. Being back home with my family and friends, even just for the weekend, I realized that even if we’re destined to do something dangerous and probably deadly, that I want to spend every moment I can with them and make memories. It can’t always just be the academy for the rest of our lives. I pretended that Gracie didn’t exist to make things easier but I only made them harder.”


“You’ve got to befriend her all over again,” Maric said with a shrug. “If that’s what you want to do. You two aren’t the same kids you were five years ago. You’ve got more to lose than any of us here, but she doesn’t know that.”


“She doesn’t. Not yet anyway.” Leon frowned. He  crossed his arms over his chest, but he couldn’t hide his uncertainty from Maric. “Are we doing the right thing? Going to the Underworld, I mean? Braylen’s father did and lost the love of his life.”


“Well, I don’t imagine confronting the darkness is going to come without its price. Sophina has done a lot of research but she’s never been down there herself, so I don’t think anything will go according to her plan. I think we still need to go down there anyway. It’s just this nagging feeling inside, calling me towards it. But you’re the seer, so you tell me.”


Leon placed his phone in his pocket as Dionysus approached the pair with three drinks. “Decaf for the kids, here ya go. What are we talking about?”


“The underworld,” Maric said with little hesitation, much to Leon’s surprise. “Did Ms.Sophina tell you that me and Leon are going down there when we graduate from the academy? Probably with Graciela if Leon’s visions have been right.”

Screenshot-5“She’s already told you that?” Dionysus asked with a grimace. “What does she want you to do?” He had an inkling it had to do with visiting Victus and asking him for help like Sophina had told him earlier. If that was what she wanted the kids to do, he wouldn’t help.  


“She hasn’t told us specifics.” Leon shook his head. “Just that we need to go down there and confront the darkness. What do you think about all of that?”


“Graciela is supposed to be a vessel for the darkness. I’m sure you know this from Lapis’ diary.” Dionysus looked to Leon. “I can’t make sense of anything else. I think Sophina has valuable information to teach you, but I also think that she doesn’t know what’s to come. I’ve been alive centuries longer and still don’t know the workings of the world. Nothing is ever certain.”


“So, it’s like I said.” Maric smirked at Leon. “Sophina can get us to the Underworld but we have to make our own path from there. If an outsider is saying as much, then it’s just reinforcing my ideas.”


“I think that the two of you, knowing part of your role in all of this, need to look out for each other. No matter what the plan is after graduation. That’s the most important…to have a team you can rely on. It’s the most valuable lesson I can teach you.” 

Screenshot-8Tommy placed a hand on his stomach. He still felt queasy from earlier, and running around with two teenage boys wasn’t helping. He tried to wrack his brain for what had happened, but the memories were fuzzy. He recalled fainting and then waking up in his bed. It was strange, but he wasn’t too worried about it. Tommy had been under a lot of stress lately, being in a new dimension, so perhaps it was that finally catching up to him. 


Ryland took a seat by the older man and tugged at a stray thread on his jean pants. “Mr.Bennett, sir? Can I ask you something?” 


Startled out of his trance, Tommy looked to his left and saw the disgruntled boy, no fairy companion in sight. “What’s up?”


“Do you think Ms.Sophina will let us do more things like this or will we get in trouble?” The normally energetic boy seemed distracted. 


“To be honest? I think Dionysus will get into trouble and probably me too for going along with it, but I surprisingly don’t regret it. I’m having a nice time. It’s good to leave that stuffy building every once and awhile.”


“I was just thinking that in the last five years I’ve probably been in town five times total. I didn’t even know where to look for some of these scavenger hunt items. It’s kind of embarrassing.” 

Screenshot-9“No it’s not,” Braylen said, coming into view with a paper towel in his hands. “Sorry, I was in the bathroom. Anyway, I don’t think it’s embarrassing that you feel this way. It’s not your fault that you haven’t left. Leon told me that you guys are inside studying a lot.”


“To save the world, or something. Don’t know if I’m convinced,” Ryland admitted. “But I’m here for the ride anyway. It’s been fun getting to know everyone.”


“You don’t think we’re really on a quest to save the world?” Tommy pondered. “It does seem like such a magnificent task. Why us…? I’ve been thinking a lot about that myself actually.” Noticing he was talking to the students of his concerns, he shook his head. “Nevermind.”


“If even you’re questioning it…why are we here?” Braylen thought aloud for a moment. “I think, at least in our group with Ms.Briella, that we can learn a lot about ancient arcane magic. More than I could learn in Fortitude. No one says we have to use it in the way that she wants if we don’t believe in it. It’s like regular school. You learn and then move on to what suits you best.”


“That’s true,” Tommy agreed. “At the end of the day, no one here can tell you how to live your life. My honest opinion? Learn what you can but don’t forget to have fun. You guys are young, this shouldn’t feel like some heavy job where the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Make sure you have time for outings like this.” 

Screenshot-11“Speaking of outings like this…” Ryland beamed at the two males in front of him. “I’ve been having so much fun. We should convince Ms.Sophina to set up a class trip or something so the girls can come along, and we can do more. I haven’t gotten to really meet Graciela yet.”


“Neither have I…” Tommy’s voice trailed off as he remembered the connection that Dionysus had made between the vampire and Tommy. “I think Dionysus and I could manage to convince Sophina to let us have another, more uh…structured outing. Some fresh air would do you all well.”


“Oh! Yes!! What should we do?” Ryland asked excitedly. Braylen shrugged, laughing at all of the boy’s outlandish ideas that he began spitting out. “Oh, and we should hold events too! I know there’s not many of us, but don’t schools have dances and stuff?”


“They do,” Braylen agreed. “But I think first we should finish the scavenger hunt.” He held up his phone. “Leon says they’re almost halfway done. You think that’s a bluff?”


“HALFWAY!?” Ryland shot up. “We are not doing any cleaning this weekend. Come on, men! We march towards victory!” 


Tommy groaned as he stood up to chase after the boy, and Braylen tried to suppress a laugh behind his hand. Ryland was definitely a breath of fresh air from the people he had met at home in Fortitude. He only wondered if Leon’s time with Maric was going as smoothly. 

Screenshot-13The girls bolted up when the door to the gym swung open. Standing at the door with her arms crossed over her chest was Sophina, an angry look on her face. “Hello girls, sorry for bothering you during your slumber party. Would any of you happen to know where Mr.Blaze, Mr.Bennett, and the rest of the boys are?” 


“Dionysus didn’t tell me he had any plans tonight,” Graciela muttered to herself. “I’m not sure where he’d be.”


The other girls expressed the same sentiment, Winter going as far to say that this was too late of a night for Tommy to even be out of bed, let alone out of the academy. “Yes, well it seems that the boys decided to leave the school ground without the headmaster’s approval. Dionysus is conveniently not answering my calls. So, Graciela, if you will…” Sophina held her hand out, asking for the teenager’s phone. “I’m sure he’ll answer your call.”


After the conversation the group had only twenty minutes earlier, Graciela looked to the girls for support. Winter nodded reassuringly and Graciela handed Sophina her outdated cellphone. The girls watched as within seconds, the phone was answered and Sophina, with words that we’re sickeningly sweet, entreated Dionysus and the boys to cut their trip short…or else. “A prize? Tell the boys that what you offered the winning team will be available to all of them because you and Tommy will be taking on the weekend chores as well as your lesson plans.”


When Sophina was done, she handed the phone back to Graciela who didn’t feel too good to be getting Dio into trouble, but she was sure he’d have told her to comply anyway. “Because Arc had this night planned ahead of time with my permission, you girls are free to continue. Try not to stay up too late. You’re still expected to study this weekend, and then of course your chores.” The girls politely said their goodbyes and then once their headmaster was out of earshot, shared a collective groan. 

[R]6.15 Slumber Party [Part 2]


Dionysus stood in front of the gaggle of sleepy boys, Tommy included. The older human rubbed his eyes before stretching his arms over his head with a yawn. “Why are we all here, Dionysus? It better be good because I was taking a nice nap.”

“A nap at Midnight, Mr.Bennett?” Roland asked, trying to stifle a yawn. “I was full out sleeping. I was dreaming about pancakes with EXTRA syrup and marshmallows on top…” His voice trailed off as he looked into the distance dreamily. “Please can I go back to bed?”

Dionysus chuckled. Leon, Braylen, and Maric (not surprisingly) looked wide awake, fully dressed as if they hadn’t even been in bed when Dionysus sent Tommy for their wakeup call. “Are you boys aware that the girls are having a sleepover party in the gym?” Dionysus asked, raising a brow. “Sounds like a real bonding experience.”

“Even Graciela?” Braylen asked. “I find that really hard to believe.”

“It’s true. She went with Winter willingly. Which means that we have the night to ourselves, no girls allowed. So, we’re going on our own bonding pilgrimage but with a twist.”

“It’s literally Midnight. Don’t use the word pilgrimage,” Tommy groaned, leaning back into the couch. “Why don’t we sleep and reconvene tomorrow?”

Screenshot-73“And ruin this scavenger hunt I just found on the internet and printed out ten minutes ago? Nonsense.” Dionysus shook his head and handed the fliers to each male in front of him. “I want you guys to go around town and find some of these things on the list I printed. It’s pretty general so shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. At 2:30am we’ll meet back at the school with picture proof of our findings. We’ll break up into teams. Me, Leon and Maric vs. Tommy, Ryland and Braylen.”

“There better be a prize if you’re teaming me up with Leon,” Maric finally decided to speak up. “Something worthwhile.”

“Oh yes, there most definitely is.” Dionysus smirked as he saw the boys’ eyes light up to carrying degrees. “Winning team is exempt from their weekend chores. The other team has to do all the work.”

“No weekend chores!?” Ryland bounced up from his seat with a newfound energy. “Ok, I’m in. Let’s do this.”

Tommy groaned but stood up, seeing no possible way out of this situation. It was madness to run around the town at night but he would be lying if he said that he didn’t agree it was a great way for the boys to bond. Especially Leon and Maric who seemed to be at each other’s throats as of late and for Braylen and Ryland to hopefully make new friends. “Alright, kiddos. Let’s read this list and see where we can go first.”

Screenshot-80Briella tossed a piece of popcorn at Sophina, earning a glare from the woman. “Do you ever let yourself have any fun anymore? You’re so serious all the time.”

“The world is crumbling around us. I’m sorry that I can’t be all smiles all the time.” Sophina let out a grumble and turned her attention back to the television screen. It was some kind of romantic comedy that her elven counterpart insisted on watching, yet there were no laughs being shared. 

“I think this is about Dio. For as long as we’ve traveled and studied together, I know a little heartbreak when I see it. After all these years, the two of you are acting like work colleagues not former lovers.”

“That’s what we are. What I felt for him all those years ago doesn’t matter anymore. He left, Briella. By choice. He didn’t want to stay with me and team up so now I’m going to get his help for our plan and close that chapter for good. We’ve got the Gray child, the Sikes boy, the agent of darkness, the key that will unlock the gates to the underworld…and the one who can call forth a god when we need him to.” Sophina turned her full attention to Briella who had long since muted the movie, leaning in intently. “You’re so close to seeing Indy again and I’m so close to having a normal life away from all of this supernatural nonsense. I can’t take it anymore.”

“So, no pining over Dionysus?” Briella asked. There was a slight smile dancing on her lips. To hear the conviction in Sophina’s voice was good. The two had finally been on the same page and any flicker of doubt that Sophina would turn away from the darkness was gone. “You really only care about our pact with Victus?” 

“We summoned Ellora to help us and all she did was curse us. Timothy died, Lavina was ousted from her home, we were exiled! Women were murdered and children were kidnapped. Briella, goddess or not, she is going to pay and I won’t stand by Dio’s side as he tries to convince me otherwise.”

Screenshot-81Graciela placed a hand over her mouth to hide her giggles. Tera looked across at her partner for the game and burst out laughing, not able to contain it in as well as Graciela. “You…you guys…no way you thought that answer would be on the board!” Tera laid her head flat on the floor and snuggled up with a pillow. “They asked 100 supernaturals and you thought that walking would be on the board!?” Graciela couldn’t help but feel like Tera’s energy was contagious. Throughout the game of “Supernatural Feud” a parody take on the traditional “Family Feud”, both teams (Arc and Winter versus Graciela and Tera) never failed to get at least one absurd answer that earned them a boisterous buzzing noise from the acting host, Adriana. 

“It’s actually up there,” Adriana said. “Granted, only 3 points.”

“Ha!” Winter stuck her tongue out and laughed. “Okay let’s take a break. I had enough ridiculous answers for one night.”

“You know a lot about supernaturals,” Arc commented, looking over at Graciela. “Does Fortitude have any humans?”

“Just my dad,” Graciela said. “Some people don’t accept us because of that but it’s whatever. He doesn’t care about it. Otherwise everyone is some kind of fancy purebred supernatural.”

“Like having no other occults in their bloodline? Humans or otherwise?” Adriana asked. 


“Yep. They consider my family lesser because my mother is a vampire but her father is a mage and before that one of my granddads was a human.” Graciela didn’t feel a judging gaze on her as she spoke which made her feel at ease. For years she felt like she was bullied for not only her abilities but because she wasn’t like everyone in Fortitude. Even years after their arrival, some people didn’t want her family there. “We used to live in Moonlight Falls but the ruler there is kind of…”

“I heard about that!” Tera said, nodding her head vigorously. “The leader is really unjust and the people are suffering for it. It’s really sad because I don’t know of very many other supernatural towns. I feel like the smaller towns tend to lay low.”

“It’s true,” Arc said. “My father tells me that of all the supernatural towns he’s visited, none are as well known as Moonlight Falls. Isn’t Fortitude like walled in or something? Look at us, at a school in the middle of nowhere. Humans don’t have to do that.”

“Dio told me that supernaturals and humans used to live together. I dunno, it sounds really nice. I’d like to live peacefully without some snobby supernatural saying I’m less than them for not being a pureblooded vampire. What’s the difference anyway?” Graciela asked. 

“Maric is a pureblood,” Winter said. “I believe he’s stronger than me because of it. We can do the same spells naturally but he’s better at them.”


“Gosh Maric is so cute but he’ll never date me,” Tera said. Graciela watched the girl curiously. She could admit that Maric was attractive but the thought of dating him hadn’t ever crossed her mind despite his incessantly flirty ways. “He thinks I’m in love with Leon.”

“What?” Adriana asked, nearly spitting out the hot coco she had just filled down. “Did you tell him you had a crush on Leon?”

“Yes! Because before Gracie and Braylen got here, I was trying to flirt with him but he didn’t get the hint and I told him I was practicing to ask Leon out! Now I like, steal glances at Leon every once and awhile so Maric doesn’t know I’m lying.” The girl buried her face in her hands and Graciela couldn’t help but wonder how easy her life would be if these were the kinds of things she was worried about.

Listening to the gossip and girl talk felt strange. She had never been a part of something like this, Camilla was very closed off about her feelings and there weren’t any boys that Graciela had been attracted to in her high school. “You should just ask Maric out.” Graciela found herself offering a solution that wasn’t asked for. “Seems to me like he’s the kind of person who’d get impatient with all the games.”

“True!” Winter agreed. “He’s a super straightforward person. He’d probably want to hear how you feel when you’re ready. But right now he’s so focused on studying that I don’t think he really sees himself dating someone.”

“Really?” Graciela asked, mouth open slightly. “He doesn’t stop with the teasing, I’d never have guessed.”

Screenshot-85“Oh, you didn’t know why he wasn’t moved from Sophina’s group?” Arc asked. “Maric is like the golden child in this whole operation. Ms. Sophina claims we’re a regular academy but just look around us. What school only has nine students? She’s training us for a journey and Maric is going to be a huge part of it.”

Graciela placed a hand on her heart. She had suddenly realized how quiet the voice had been. Ever since she had fainted earlier, she hadn’t heard the voice utter a single thing. She was having such a good time with her classmates, it was a nice change. Still, it worried her. She hadn’t been without a voice- menacing or otherwise- since she was young. It would have loved to hear about this plan of Sophina’s. “A journey to the underworld. It can’t be real. Oh my gosh. Is it real?”

“Apparently so. That’s the rumor anyway. Sophina hasn’t confirmed that to anyone but Maric and Leon. The rest of us don’t really have a part in that so I don’t know what she wants us to do.” Arc shrugged. “I’m not following anyone blindly though, and I suggest you guys don’t either. Sophina has a lot to teach us but until she gives me good reason, I’m not risking my life for her.”

“Yeah, that’s another reason we wanted to meet up,” Winter began. “To let you know that we have your back, Gracie. Tera heard Sophina talking to Briella about recruiting two new students before she even left the academy with Leon. It’s a little unsettling, like some of us are pieces on her chess board.” 

“We don’t have any solid proof of course,” Tera chimed in. “That Sophina is misleading us or anything. It’s just a gut feeling and the absurdity of this whole academy. Like, what could we really need specialized training for, you know? I think she tells us all different things because Leon and Maric were confused when they brought up the underworld to us and we had no idea what they were talking about.”

“Maybe you can ask Leon, Gracie. For your own peace of mind, at least. At the end of the day, unless I know the full story I’m not doing anything, especially not going to the underworld. That sounds hella dangerous.” Arc shook her head fiercely. “The nine of us have to stick together, us girls specifically, because I have a feeling some of the others might not be in it for the right reasons.” Graciela had already been distrustful of the situation and had been led to the academy to do her own digging. Hearing that the other students weren’t all on board for Sophina’s plan made her feel a bit more at ease. Not for the situation she found herself in, but that maybe for once she’d have people she could rely on that understood first hand what was going on.

[R]6.14 Slumber Party [Part 1]


Graciela looked at Dionysus across the dinner table. He seemed tired. While she was recovering from fainting, she wondered what the elven man was up to. Lesson planning? Flirting with Ms.Briella or Ms.Sophina? Dionysus picked up his fork and stabbed a piece of pork that lay on the fancy chinaware. “Why does Sophina insist we use these glass plates? Can’t we just use paper stuff? Now we have to wash dishes.”

“I can do the dishes,” Graciela said quietly. “It’s the least I can do for you being my acting guardian right now. Mom makes us take turns at home.”

“I’ll do it,” Dionysus said with a small smile. “I heard some of your friends brought over your missed notes. Do you need to copy them or something?”

“They’re not my friends, Dio. They’re just my classmates. And, I already did the assignment. Plus it’s the weekend. I don’t have to wake up early or anything. So, maybe we can do something?”

“What did you have in mind?” Dionysus asked. “Did you want to watch a movie or play a game?”

“Video games. If I win, you have to answer one of my questions. If you win, l’ll answer one of yours. Sound good?” She leaned over the table, a mischievous glint in her eyes. 


“Prepare your answers because I’m going to win.” Dionysus stood up and took their plates to the sink. Then he led her to the living room where a game console Pax had given the pair for their “new home” was set up. 

“Let’s play this racing game. I’ve only ever lost to Waverly, so I’m confident. I can-” Her thoughts were interrupted by a slow knock on the door. Graciela groaned, tossing herself onto the couch. “Don’t answer it.” If anyone was at the door, it meant trouble.

“Why not?” Dionysus asked, raising a brow. “You know who it’s going to be?”

“Winter. She texted me earlier about a sleepover her and the other girls are setting up in the gym. I don’t really like things like that. The last time I played truth or dare, I was locked in a closet and made fun of for being scared of the dark.”

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that.” Dionysus frowned. “But not everyone is going to do that to you. Maybe hear her out? Wasn’t Winter the one who brought you your notes? Sounds like she wants to be your friend if she came all the way here, twice.” Dionysus didn’t wait for the girl’s response and walked over to the front door of their small apartment. He pulled the front door open. “Why hello, Winter, what brings you here in your pajamas?” He stepped to the side and let the vampire girl in.

“I was hoping that Graciela would come to our sleepover party. It’s in the gym. All the girls will be there, so she can get to know us better.” Winter caught sight of Graciela sprawled across the couch and her smile grew bigger. “Oh, join us Gracie! Tera and Arc aren’t that bad and you haven’t met my cousin, Adriana, yet!”

Screenshot-45“I don’t really want to sleep in the gym,” Graciela replied, sitting up on the stiff couch. “Sounds really uncomfy.”

“You can come back here to sleep if you’re more comfortable. You don’t have to sleep in the gym but we’ve got tons of pillows, blankets, snacks, and Tera even brought down the rug from our dorm. It’s plush!” 

“That sounds like a lot of fun. Go and join them, Gracie.” Dionysus gave her a thumbs up and she rolled her eyes. She knew he had wanted her to be sociable and make friends, but he didn’t understand how people treated her when they found out she was a freak. “We can play games another night.”

“Fine.” Graciela stood up reluctantly. Not because she had wanted to go, but because she saw the look in Dio’s eyes that said she didn’t have a choice but to go and try to make some new friends. “But I’m not playing any truth or dare.”

“We’ll mostly be talking and maybe playing some card games or something. Arc’s father gets her a lot of things outside of the academy that the rest of us don’t really have access to. So when he does, we plan get togethers like this.”

“Yay. So much fun.” Graciela’s voice was monotone and her disdain for the night’s plan was evident on her face. “Can’t wait.”

Screenshot-33The walk to the gym was tense. Graciela hadn’t meant to be so hard on Winter. The girl was only trying to make her feel welcomed into the academy. Yet, the idea of making new friends scared Graciela, sometimes more than she could handle. When the pair had arrived at the door, Winter stopped and placed her hands on her hips. “I know this is really last minute but the girls and I really want to be your friend. We don’t get very many new people here and you seem so cool.”

“Cool?” Graciela asked with a frown. “You’ve got the wrong person. I’m a weirdo. A freak. The strange vampire who just showed up with an elf and a fairy out of nowhere.”

“Doesn’t matter how you got here,” Winter said, shrugging her shoulders slightly and reaching up to place a hand on her heart. “If that makes you weird, I’m weirder. I came here from another dimension by accident and no one can figure out how to return me, Tommy, or Adriana home so we’re here.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that. I’m sorry,” Graciela replied. “But Ms.Sophina says we’re all special and here for a reason. You might not know your purpose yet.”

“Exactly, but neither do you. You can’t say that whatever it is that you’re here for isn’t important. Whatever it is that you need to do could save the world. We’ll never really know until it happens. But when it does, it’s great to share the accomplishment with your friends. I hope one day that will be me.”

“Why?” Graciela asked, shaking her head. “I’ve got nothing to offer you.”

Screenshot-32“What do you mean?” Winter asked, giggling slightly. “You’re another female vampire who doesn’t let Maric get away with his nonsense. It’s great. Plus I can see you really care about your friendship with Braylen. I guess I wonder what it’d be like to have a friend like that. I think it’s pretty rad.”

“Pretty rad,” Graciela mumbled under her breath, testing how the words tasted on her tongue. 

“But enough of all that mushy stuff. Let’s go inside with the others and see what they have prepared. Tera went in town earlier this week and bought these coconut macaroon things and Adriana promised she’d make us all hot chocolate with JUMBO marshmallows!” There was no room for argument as Winter led Graciela into the gym. 

Upon first glance, Graciela was shocked. The girls really had created quite the setup. There were blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, books, paper, snacks… almost anything they could want to entertain them for the night. “Yay! You got Gracie here!” Tera said excitedly, waving the girls over. “I’ve been dying to meet you properly!”

“Uh…thanks for inviting me…” Graciela said sheepishly. As she approached the trio of girls with Winter by her side, the girl on the left who Winter had told her was Arc, motioned for Gracie to sit down. Graciela nodded hesitantly and dropped to the ground. 

Screenshot-49“Hey, us girls have to stick together. The boys can be so lame sometimes, especially Maric. Watcher, he’s so rude. And don’t get me started on Ryland. He’s so obnoxiously excited sometimes. Leon is okay, just he’s too much of a goodie two shoes,” Arc said. 

“But they’re all good people when they’re not being annoying. I’m sure that will be the case for Braylen as well.” The one on the far right, Adriana, spoke up. The other girls at this impromptu round table meeting all agreed. “Sometimes it’s just fun to gossip with the girls and talk about things like crushes. For example, Tera’s massive crush on Maric.”

The pink haired fairy’s face lit up a crimson red as she shook her head furiously. “Why would you tell Gracie that!? She’s IN HIS GROUP, ADY!” 

“Exactly, maybe she has some intel or can gather some for you. Be your wingwoman, duh!” Adriana let out a laugh at her friend’s exasperated expression. “So, Gracie…Do you have any intel for us on the stoic vampire?” 

“She just met the guy, lay off.” Winter rolled her eyes. “We should talk about something more interesting like what life is like back home. Any super cute guys or girls? Life shattering drama?” Winter sat up on her knees as she asked excitedly. Graciela had thought she was holed up in Fortitude but seeing how excited Winter was to get a glimpse of the outside world made her feel bad. “Literally anything interesting.”

“I only talked to Braylen, my cousin, Harmony, and my siblings back home. Oh, and I guess Leon when we were kids, but that was a long time ago,” Graciela said. “I never really showed up to school activities so I didn’t know the drama. I’m sure it was like, who was dating who or something? I don’t know what teen drama is like.” 

Screenshot-52“Are you kidding?” Arc asked. “You’re at the center of teenage drama! Star crossed childhood friends, meeting again. This time, will their love be rekindled?”

“Sounds like a lame book.” Winter reached over her cousin to grab a freshly iced cupcake and passed one to Graciela. “Do you mind if we ask you about your relationship with Leon, Gracie? I know you don’t like him romantically, but I guess we’re curious what he was like back at home.” 

Graciela tried her best to ignore Arc’s comment but she knew Leon’s past crush on her would be a topic of conversation. He hadn’t hid it. Apparently he was blabbing about it to whoever wanted to know. Instead, she looked to Winter, trying to find the right words. “Leon was the first person I met back in Fortitude. He thought my brother was being stupid. They argued all the time.” The memory brought a smile to her lips and Graciela stretched her legs out as she leaned back comfortably. “We became fast friends and he invited me to hang out everywhere with him. We had a lot of fun.”

“So what happened?” Tera asked. “He left and things changed? Because that’s what happened with my friends back home. They don’t understand what it’s like studying here. We’re not learning basic math and science. Sophina and Briella teach us magic spells, how to counteract them, how to enchant things, and all types of arcane stuff that take a lot of practice. Reaching out can be exhausting sometimes and I guess that can weaken a friendship.”

“I think that…” Graciela struggled to find the right words. Her thoughts drifted back to Leon who had sat by her bedside earlier. He had seemed really worried about her. That kind of reaction couldn’t be fake, but she’d be lying if she said she felt any closeness to him comparable to what she did when they were children. Leon was what kept the darkness at bay but now that the voice had been swapped, she didn’t feel like she needed a light to dispel the darkness. She felt she could remove the burden on her own. “Leon and I needed each other when we were kids but as we grew up, life happened and we both grew up. We’re not the same people anymore and that’s not the worst thing.” She shook her head at the bewildered faces of the girls in front of her. She stuffed the cupcake into her mouth and glanced over at Winter. Tonight would be a long night.   

[R] 6.13 Waging War


Enyo placed a well intentioned hand on her younger brother’s cheek. He looked on at her with indecisiveness in his eyes. On one hand it was lovely to see her again, though under these pretenses it was less than ideal. A reunion should have been filled with smiles and hugs. Now, Dionysus had more apprehension than ever before. 


“The human boy will be okay, do not worry about him. I simply removed his memory about our encounter. He’ll awaken in a few hours. But Dio please, do not threaten a man about his father in the future. It is simply not right.”


Dionysus let out a sigh and looked away from his sister’s reproachful gaze. “I know it wasn’t smart. I was feeling desperate but the boy’s father is one of my closest friends. I’ll reunite the two when I’m able.”


Satisfied with his response, Enyo nodded her head. “Wiping his memory only took a bit of my energy. I can’t return to the homeland just yet, but I can hide somewhere secluded while I recharge enough to make the journey back. I believe I’ve caused enough trouble here.”


“Will you promise to say goodbye before you leave?” Dionysus asked with a frown. “I don’t know when I’ll see you again. Now that I know about Victus, I can’t go and see Father. I have to protect Graciela, no matter what. If that means a war will be waged, I am willing to accept the consequences.”


“Being too involved with this dimension is what got you in trouble to begin with. Though I understand that the god of darkness inhabiting a young girl’s body, the young girl who you say is supposed to be the vessel meant to suck up the world’s darkness, is alarming. I will talk to Father about it.”


“I’m hesitant to involve him in this mess,” Dionysus replied. “But I suppose he’s the only one who has any jurisdiction over disputes between the gods. Surely this couldn’t have been part of Ellora’s plan all those years ago. Why allow Victus access to the girl meant to dispel the darkness he controls? Something doesn’t seem right.”


“Perhaps I’m not the one trying to wage war,” Enyo said carefully. “Would it be so outlandish to think Victus wants his domain back, without having to play by Ellora’s rules of balance? I dare say he must have some grand plan to oppose us, as Father would strike down any betrayal of his wishes without a second thought. Victus wouldn’t be so stupid as to overstep his boundary, would he?”


“A war between the darkness and the light wouldn’t bode well for the world given the already exposed holes in the dimension. It seems like there’s so many forces pulling on the threads of time, and soon the future we’re all trying to protect is going to crumble with the entirety of this dimension’s existence. A world controlled entirely by darkness could lead to other worlds suffering the same fate. This makes Sophina’s plan to train the kids to visit the underworld and implore Victus to help is the wrong course of action.”


“I know little about what happened on the soil of this planet that you first walked on centuries ago and I will not pretend to,” Enyo responded. “But I can say that of my knowledge of what you’ve told me and of my power as a deity, asking a god for help to undo anything that is fated will cause them to endure the wrath of a power they can’t oppose. Mortals have always been foolish. For now we don’t know what our dear uncle wants but if there is foul play involved, we best be careful. He knows that we’re aware of his hold on the young girl. It’s best if she or the headmaster don’t know of this. It is something best left to higher powers.”


“For once I agree with you,” Dionysus replied with a nod of his head. “Perhaps watching over Graciela as she interacts with Victus will afford me some more time before I return to face Father. Ask that much of him. Once Graciela is safe, I’ll repent for all that I did, I promise.” 


“I am on your side, Dio. I always was, even when you didn’t want to tell me what you were up to. I never blamed you for that folly. I still don’t think wanting a life of freedom is something worth punishing over, but I’m not the one in charge. I only hope that you do make the most of your time here, because when you return to our homeland, the opportunity to love a family of mortals is going to be ripped from you all over again.”


“I know,” Dio said with a sad smile and a nod of his head. “I’ve had centuries to think about it, but you’d be wrong in assuming I chose a life of freedom. I chose a life of change. It’s so easy to sit atop your pretty throne and go about your eternal life when there are people suffering below you. That is not nature’s cause. Not always.” 


“You’re the same hopelessly foolish boy you’ve always been. Once again I am looking away as you try and salvage what you can of this flickering world. But be prepared for what Father will propose and do not be upset when the light goes out and we have to close the pages of this long ill fated chapter book.” Enyo placed a tender kiss on Dionysus’ cheek, as if it would be the last one she’d give him for another few centuries. “Dearest brother, I will return to you when I have heard from Father.”


“Okay, Enyo. Please, remain safe.” Dionysus watched as the girl used her remaining power to dissolve away from the boarding school. He had a bad feeling about everything though he didn’t know what worried him more- what his uncle was planning or what his father would do about it.  


Everly let out a disgruntled sigh as Wells Orion preformed yet another test on her. She had been back from her almost catastrophic excursion to Angel’s base, and yet he was treating her like some kind of tainted being whose molecular structure was mutated. “Are we done here? You saw all that happened. I enchanted that girl’s prized possession and she let me free. She didn’t stick me with anything.”


“No, but that wretched fairy did. Remember when she zapped you and then threw you in the dungeon cell? Yes well, she implanted you with nanotechnology. I had to make sure there were no trackers on your body. If our lab was found because of you being careless, all of our years of work trying to save this damn dimension before it collapses would be for no reason at all.” The white haired male tapped a few things on his holographic computer screen and then let out a small chuckle. “It’s funny, that Angel girl thinks she’s discovering something revolutionary and oh so powerful but she knows nothing about nanotechnology. What she used on you was an elementary stunning technique. It seems that the guardians are just exploring the basics.”


“That’s good. If they got their hands on more powerful technology, they’d no doubt use it to cause even more havoc.” Everly stepped down from the podium she was standing on for the last hour and a half and stretched her arms over her head. “The girl I grew up with, the one who I shared my dreams with, is no longer there. She’s a shell of who she once was. I doubt she even believes in her own cause anymore. Angel wants power and now that she knows other dimensions are out there, she probably wants to conquer them all.”


“I don’t doubt it’d be extremely easy to infiltrate her base again and simply end the guardians once and for all. You don’t think now that we’ve found her that she’ll abandon her lair and jump to another one? No, perhaps she’ll just fortify this one with traps and try to eliminate you, Everly.”


“Me?” She asked, shaking her head with a frown. “I’m not going back in there, am I? Who knows how long I’d have been contained in that cage if not for Roxanna! Besides, they won’t let me leave another time.”


“We already see that there are weak links among her ranks. Roxana will be the easiest picked off, and then we can move to Zerg before he can continue any more advanced research into nanotechnology. After that, we remove Angel and the operation will almost all but crumble.”


“Almost?” Everly slid down on the floor against the wall of Orion’s lab. He was an incredibly intelligent engineer. Perhaps because of the cybernetics he had implanted into his own brain, eyes, and who knows where else in his body. While he wasn’t quite a robot, he was certainly less human than the others around him. But it was that detachment from his old ethereal feelings that allowed him to work so tirelessly for decades to stop the rifts that were forming in the dimension. 


“Yes. Take a look at my screen if you will.” He beckoned for Everly to approach him as he tugged on the virtual image. Laid out onto the screen were three discrepancies with large red X’s to show their mark. “These three entities gain their power from the guardians and without them will most likely revolt. They should not be taken lightly. Ridding Angel and her lackeys will be an almost mundane task, but then there’s the problem of the Resistance. These individuals have been working with the Guardians closely to overtake Moonlight Falls. Their leader, Declan Gage, is cunning and resourceful. His affections could connive strong allies into joining him.”


“I know of Declan. He’s a powerful mage with misguided intentions. I wasn’t aware he was running a whole operation but I suppose it makes sense. I really shouldn’t have left Moonlight Falls.” Everly wrapped her arms around herself. “Doing so just allowed more horrors to creep into the place that was my refuge for so long.”


“Staying wouldn’t have been better for the overall outcome of our world. The odds stack more in our favor now that your magic and my technology are able to combine. Anyhow,” Orion waved away the girl’s concerns and pointed at the screen once again. He truly seemed heartless though perhaps that was what was best in a situation like this. “The other problem is Emit Relevart. He must be removed as timekeeper. He has shown a corruption that has allowed Angel to warp and distort my present, and your future.”

“And the last are the council,” He continued. “Disbanding them will allow for dimensional reform that will not only strengthen future relations but allow for prosperity. There are roadblocks in the way of all of these challenges, yet if we stay true to our strengths and garner the right help, we will be able to remove the threats that continue to destroy our home.” 

[R] 6.12 Empty and Hollow


Tommy crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at the woman who sat on the couch in front of him. “If looks could kill someone such as me, I’d surely be dead,” Enyo said, a look of amusement in her eyes. “Are you sure this is the one who you wish to keep over me while I’m here?”


“It’s not my fault you wasted so much power trying to block dear old uncle,” Dionysus scoffed at his sister. “But I guess now we know what plagues Graciela. Anyway, yes. Tommy is going to deal with you because I have a class to teach.”


“So do I?” Tommy asked, raising a brow. “We share the class. I’ve been here longer.”


“Yes, but Sophina won’t let me shirk my duties so easily. She…” Dionysus shut his eyes tightly and exhaled loudly. “She and I have a past that you wouldn’t quite understand yet. I know I’m asking a lot of you, but if you do this for me I will take you to your father.”


“My dad?” Tommy asked, his breath catching in his throat. “That’s not a farse? You actually know him? What proof do you have?”


Rolling his eyes, Dionysus chucked his phone at the man. “Check my pictures. I was just at his house recently with Graciela. You could be a part of that if you just help me.”


Enyo watched curiously as Tommy’s frown deepened. He scrolled through the pictures, letting out an angry sigh. “That’s hardly fair, Dio. Don’t wager his family to babysit me.” She shook her head. “I know it has been centuries since I’ve seen you, but surely you can’t hold something so precious over this man’s head.” 


“Yeah she’s right,” Tommy scoffed. “You can’t prevent me from seeing my own father because I won’t help you. Hardly seems fair.”


Seeing both sets of eyes on him, disappointment in Enyo and anger in Tommy’s, Dionysus let out a sigh. “Hardly fair at all, especially for your father.  But, I need someone to watch over my sister so that Sophina and Briella don’t get suspicious. If they find her here, they’re going to ask questions.”


“And rightfully so!” Tommy cried defiantly. “You just got here a few days ago and you’re asking me to lie to the people who took me and my family in. I can’t do that.”


“Allow me to explain,” Enyo said cautiously,  crossing her legs over each other. “Graciela Gray, that young girl with the white and blue hair, has a very rare affliction that I must take care of. Things beyond supernatural elements are in play here. Telling you anymore could be dangerous right now.”


“So I just accept that then?” Tommy asked. “It sounds like a lame excuse. I’m going to tell Sophina about this and if what you say about Graciela is true, my superiors can help her. That’s why she’s here.”


“Okay,” Enyo said with a shrug. “That’s your decision to make, but they can’t do anything to keep me here once my strength is recharged and I won’t cooperate.”


“Them knowing is enough,” Tommy muttered. He glared at Dionysus. “I’ll also tell Sophina to keep you away from the kids, since you want to pull a stunt like this.”


Dionysus let out a grunt of annoyance. “I’m not the bad guy here. But if you want to be difficult, then I’ll have to oblige you.” 


Stirring, Graciela’s hand flew to her head. When she opened her eyes, she saw two concerned purple orbs looking down at her. “Oh good, you’re awake. Are you hurt?”


“I…” Graciela shut her eyes and then opened them again to make sure that what she was seeing was real. “Leon? What the hell happened?”


“You passed out,” The boy replied with a small frown. “Dionysus brought you to your room and I came to make sure you were alright. I didn’t leave your side. So, are you okay?” She could see the worry in his eyes, and for a moment she had forgotten about her hatred for him. “How are you feeling?” She struggled to sit up but with the boy’s help she was able to lean against the wall. She was indeed in her room, but what had happened before she had gotten here? Things were…fuzzy.


“My mouth is dry,” Graciela muttered. “My chest kind of hurts. It feels like something is…missing? I feel empty.” She placed her arms around herself. “Doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would. Being hollow, I mean.”


“That’s what you wanted?” Leon asked, leaning over to grab onto her hand. She didn’t fight him off. Instead, she watched him listlessly. “To be completely empty? Do you think that will make things better?”


“Why not?” She mumbled, leaning her head on the wall. “If there’s nothing inside, there’s nothing that can hurt me.”


“If there’s nothing inside, there’s nothing that can make you happy either,” Leon murmured. “Your friends, your family, your memories…all in your heart. We can’t let anyone take that from you, because then you’re no longer Graciela Gray and the world needs her.”


“For what, Leon?” Graciela asked. “What does the world need me for? To be the carrier of this stupid voice? What kind of difference does that make?” She clutched the bedsheets and let out a strangled cry. “Where are you now? You dumb voice! I know you’re there!” But, the voice didn’t respond, even as the tears fell from Graciela’s face. She didn’t know what was bringing on these emotions. Perhaps, the amplified feelings of the unknown. “I’m not happy, Leon.”


“I know,” He mumbled.  “And I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to make sure that you were.” He shook his head, letting his bangs slap his forehead. “I should have called more. I should have visited. I should have…”


“You should have told me the truth,” Graciela replied. “That I’m a burden you don’t want to deal with. That’s it, isn’t it? You were always saving me. Now, you’ve got your own life and it must feel great not to have my problems dumped on you.”


“Are you serious” Leon asked, incredulously. “You’re everything to me. Hanging out with you was never a burden. Me, I’m the burden. I’m the one with the stupid powers that will hurt you. I’m…” His voice trailed off as he heard knocking on the door. 


“Graciela?” The female voice called out. “It’s Winter and Maric. We heard what happened and we wanted to make sure that you’re doing okay! We brought food from the cafe and today’s notes from class.” 


The door slammed open, revealing a smirking Maric standing in the door frame. “Figured why bother knocking if you’re bedridden anyway?” His eyes settled onto Leon but he rolled his eyes. “Of course you’re here. You bothering her?”


“He is,” Graciela stated coldly, watching Leon’s face fall. She had wanted him to feel the painful rejection that she had felt when she heard that he was the one who had deliberately chosen to ignore her. “Please leave. I need my rest.”


“You heard the girl,” Maric replied smugly, crossing his arms over his chest. “She needs her rest.”


“I hardly see how she’ll get rest with the two of you here as well,” Leon mumbled, but he was already standing up. “We should all leave.”


“Great idea,” Winter said, cutting between the two boys who she knew were about to argue. “We’ll just leave the notes from class here. When you’ve copied them, you can return them to me. You know, Maric doesn’t take any notes. Any good notes at least.”


“But I can help in other ways. Just let me know if you need me to bring you anything. I’m just a phone call away.” Maric took one more glance at Leon before backing up towards the door. “Anything at all, Gray.”


“Thanks,” She mumbled, focusing her gaze on the neutral force in the room, Winter. “I just want to speak to Dio, that’s it. If someone can go find him, that would be the best right now.”


“I can,” Leon said quickly. Maybe rather too quickly. “He said he needed to do something but I’m sure he’s done by now and will be happy to see you up.”


“If you need me to stay Graciela, do let me know.” Winter bowed her head to the girl but could see she really wanted nothing more than to be alone. “Like Maric said, I’m just a phone call away. Any of us are.” Graciela nodded, and the girl took that to mean she was seeing them out. “Come on boys, lets let the lady rest.”


Once the door was closed and Leon was sure the trio was out of earshot, he glared at Maric. “What’s your problem, dude?”


“What problem?” Maric asked with a smirk. “I have no problem. Seems to me that you’re the one with the problem.”


“You didn’t have to come into the room like that. I was with Graciela since Dio brought her back. He told me to watch her.” Leon frowned. “It almost felt like we were making progress.”


“I spoke to her before all of this happened and it doesn’t seem like she’s interested in you, Leon. That’s just a pipe dream of yours. You may as well stick to Tera. She seems to likes you. Besides, your relationship with Graciela is weird. You’re obsessed.”


“Hey, chill.” Winter glared at her classmate and fellow vampire. “We don’t know the relationship that the two of them have. They were childhood friends.”


“Yeah well they’re not kids anymore,” Maric replied coldly. “He should get that hint and move on.”


“Why do you care so much?” Winter challenged. “You just met Graciela. You can’t really be interested in dating her.”


“Dating, no.” Maric shook his head. “But I am interested in her. She’s different. I like it.” He turned his pointed gaze to Leon. “She’s not pathetic, like you. Sitting here, fawning over someone who doesn’t want to be gawked at.”


“Okay that’s enough!” Winter cried out, grabbing the vampire’s arm. “Control yourself or Ms. Sophina is going to hear about it. Leon, go get Dio and we’ll go the complete opposite direction.”


“Right.” Leon nodded, cheeks red from embarrassment. “Thanks, Winter.”

[R] 6.11 An Unfair Trade

Screenshot-45Graciela sat at the lunch table, quietly eating her sandwich. Though she was assigned to Sophina’s group, all of the students still gathered together for lunch and free periods. A few days had passed and Graciela was still weary of the new kids she had just met, particularly Maric who had tried too hard to flirt with her. To what end, she had no idea, but she was sure it had something to do with humiliating her. She was waiting for the punch line that he could never think the girl who heard a voice in her head was actually pretty. That was something she had resolved to accepting a long time ago. She was average, perhaps she could wow another person, until they had heard about what plagued her and wrote her off as some crazy person. “This seat taken, Gray?” Speaking of the devil, Graciela looked up and locked eyes with Maric. Not waiting for her answer, the vampire took the seat across from Graciela. 


“Now you’re calling me by my last name?” Graciela asked, slowly taking a bite from her sandwich. “That seat is taken by the way.”


“Yes, I like your last name. Is that a problem? He leaned in slightly and winked. “So who is it that I’m fighting for this seat?”


“Who was the one you didn’t like again? Tera and Arc? Them. We’re best friends now, reveling in how much we dislike you.” 


“Ouch.” Maric crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back into his seat. “Can’t even pretend to like me a little? Not even to make Leon jealous?”


“Why would I want to do that?” Graciela asked. “I don’t care what Leon thinks. Let him be jealous, that’s his own fault. Besides, I see him never leaving that Tera girl’s side so…” Suddenly realzing what she was saying, Graciela lowered her eyes. “How do you know about Leon and I anyway?”


“Everyone knows about you,” Maric said. “Leon talked so much about you before you got here. He told us stories about the school you guys went to, the days you all slept over Braylen’s house, and the wedding ring thing. Go ahead and ask anyone here and they’ll tell you the same thing. Leon doesn’t shut up about you. Seems to me like you’re more important to him than he is to you. Or, you’re just stubborn as hell.”


“Leon talked about you. How cute. Why don’t we forgive him?”


Graciela refused to have this conversation with the voice because the decision was hers to make, not theirs. She was the one who was friends with Leon. This new voice hadn’t even known him when they were younger! Clutching her heart, she had to admit that being in this boarding school had afforded her a more pleasant time with the voice. Though she had still feared for the approaching darkness, the voice seemed excited and intrigued to learn more. That was probably not a good thing but so long as it was polite and allowed her to study than she could face the consequences later. 


“So what you meant to say was that this seat is taken by Leon,” Maric continued. “Right? I can get up and the two of you can have your conversation about whatever it is that makes you hate him. Or, and this one is my favorite option, you can just be my special friend.”


“That sounds gross,” She muttered, snapping her eyes to him. “I don’t want to be your special anything. I want to learn what I have t and move on. I don’t care to make friends with you or Leon, or anyone else but Braylen. I don’t care.” Graciela stood up, eyes glazed with anger. “Leave me alone, Maric. I’m serious.”


“Okay,” He replied. But he didn’t seem the least bit bothered by her reaction. In fact, he was smiling slightly, happy to have gotten a rise out of the girl.


Graciela ignored him and headed to the computer room to eat her lunch . There were couches there and it was close enough to her next class that she wouldn’t be late and far enough from the cafeteria that she didn’t have to be bothered by the other students. Upon entering, she was startled to see another person there. “Sorry,” she murmured and turned to leave. 


“Wait!” The woman cried, jumping up from her seat at the computer. Graciela was sure she had never seen the woman around before but wouldn’t Sophina have mentioned any extra staff members roaming about? As the woman towered above Graciela, she could only smile weakly. “Are you a student here at this academy?”


“Ohoho, this will be fun. A surprise visitor.”


The woman approached Graciela, a pained look on her face the closer she got. “Oh no. Tainted by the darkness. You poor child. Please, leave her at once, fiend.” The strange woman outstretched her hand towards Gracie’s heart, a warm golden light radiating from it. 




“Ah!” The woman let out a shrill cry and cradled her hand where the light had been coming from mere moments ago. Graciela fell to the floor as her heart began to rumble in her chest. “Oh, you poor child. Touched by him? Your ancestors must have done something very very bad.”


“They act as if this is truly a curse upon you. It is an honor to bear this burden. I have chosen you and no one else.”


Graciela fought to catch her breath. She looked up at the woman with hatred dancing in her eyes as her heart began to throb with a pain she had never felt before. “Stop it, right now!” Graciela wailed. “Stop the pain!”


“I have to prevent him from spying, at least for a while longer. We have matters to attend to and my uncle needs not hear it. Your heart will hurt only for a little while longer, and then the pain will simmer away as the wall is erected.”


“Graciela, fight this. You do not want me away! I am on your side. I haven’t hurt you yet, have I? Work with me and I will leave when your task is complete. ”


“You can leave?” Graciela demanded. “You told me we are one and you can’t be removed. You said…” Her voice faltered as hope sweltered in her healing heart. “There’s a way out of this.”


“The only way out is to do as you were assigned to do, my child. But if it’s for my uncle, I am afraid of what that would entail.” The woman shut her eyes tightly. “Uncle, she is just a young girl. Can you not feel the emotions warring within herself? Free her.”


But the voice had gone silent. Enyo’s spell had worked before Graciela even had time to contemplate the choice. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Graciela demanded as she stumbled to her feet. “How do you know about this voice? What were you doing with your hands? What the hell is going on?”


“Enyo,” She replied calmly. “My name is Enyo and I have come looking for my brother, Dionysus. I had no idea I would find a school or…” She frowned. “What you are harboring inside of yourself. Please, for everyone’s safety allow me to talk to Dionysus.” 


Graciela had begun to contemplate the woman’s words. Would she turn in Dionysus to this stranger? He could handle himself, surely, but was she really looking out for him? Could she be his sister? She had a feeling by the voice’s actions that Enyo was at least right about him. That made things more complicated but this woman knew the answers to her problems! “I…”


“I’m right here,” Dionysus replied from the doorframe, coldly. “I might not have my powers anymore but I can sense you anywhere, Enyo. What are you doing down from the kingdom?” As Dionysus asked this, he approached Graciela and enveloped her into a hug. She was grateful to have someone to lean on ash she clutched his shirt tightly. “You know better than to involve an innocent bystander in our messes.”


“I was trying to help her and rid the darkness from her body but it seems impossible.” Enyo frowned. “It isn’t darkness plaguing her at all. It’s Uncle Victus. I felt his presence within her and even heard his voice. He stopped me from dispelling him and placed a barrier around her heart.”


“Victus? Dionysus asked, lowering his eyes. “No. That makes no sense. The darkness is supposed to be inside of Graciela. That’s Lavinia’s curse…having her family continue to bear the darkness when it was time so that the world would be balanced yet again. He cannot defy Elora’s wishes like that.”


“That’s something you have to take up with him but I imagine now that I’ve caught him, he will not speak around me. The only way to obtain an audience with our dear uncle is to head to the underworld which you lack the power to do and I the permission. Besides, you are needed elsewhere. Back home. Father wishes to see you.”


“Really?” Dionysus scoffed. “You’d come down to fetch me, after Elora once again told me I was never to return home. Though I suppose she answers to father.” Dionysus tightened his grip around Graciela. “I can’t leave now. I made a promise to a friend that I will protect her daughter and I will not go back on that. Allow me to finish this task and I will return with you, no questions asked. I will accept father’s judgement and take the punishment he wishes for me.”


“I cannot allow that,” Enyo replied. “He would have my head for being a traitor as well.”


“Go back and tell him what you found Uncle Victus doing. Convince him to let you investigate further. Father is in no state to oppose his brother, if he’s still at the remaining power I’ve left him with at least. That will buy you some time at least. Please? I know I’ve done a lot of wrong in my life but it was never to hurt you. I only wanted out of my miserable life.”


“You’re asking for an uneven trade, Dio,” She whispered, placing a hand on her heart. “But for the girl’s sake, I will acquiesce. If Uncle has his talons in her, it means no good for the girl or her world. I will be back. But as for her…” Enyo snapped her finger as spores fell over Graciela’s head, collapsing her onto the floor. “No memory of this moment can be had. For her safety and to block out our dear uncle from this conversation.”

[R]6.10 Clear the Curse

Screenshot-21The two girls stood close by the well. A simple errand to fetch some water had turned into something much more. Something, only one of the two girls was eager to hear. “Please father.” The girl with wine colored hair placed her hands on her hips. “Surely there must be another way? We can’t go down to face Dionysus ourselves.”


“Why not?” The voice boomed. “He has escaped his penalty for thousands of years already. He can no longer keep hiding. He must pay his debt to our society.”


The girl, called Enyo, had known this to be the truth. Dionysus was the traitor who had turned his back on his people, even after Father had given him nothing short of handing the keys over of his castle. Still, she had once called him brother and that was a bond not easily forgotten, no matter how many thousands of years had passed.  “I think it’s a marvelous idea!” Eris, her older sister, had cried out defiantly. “It will teach him to never make a mockery of Father.”


“You just want there to be Chaos,” Enyo muttered, lowering her eyes to match her frown. “Sister, you chose a life up here away from the darkness. Surely going to attack is not the smartest idea. We cannot create more disorder than what we already have.”


“Then war,” Eris stated simply. “That is your strong suit, no? Wage war on him until he has no choice but to surrender. One man with no army can’t stand against you, Sister. Unless of course, I go down there myself and drag him back up by those pointy little ears of his. Father, please just assign this to me. Enyo will not betray him.”


“But she must,” The voice boomed. “Or she will pay a price even bigger than Dionysus. Is your eternity worth giving up for a man who had chosen a life of miscreance over his kin? The man you call brother doesn’t seem himself as such anymore, but you will see that yourself. Go, Enyo, down to where we have found him. Bring him back for a public trial where he will face his punishment.”


“Yes…Father.” Enyo bowed her head, her sister sneering next to her. “I hope it does not come to this but I will wage war if I have to. So long as he comes back to clear your name.”


Graciela’s eyes sparkled as she wandered around the new town. It was nothing like Fortitude! Fortitude was a small place where all of the faces were the same and none of the businesses seemed to change. There were stories of people’s great great grandfathers meeting their wives and blah blah blah. Thousands of years had passed, was there no new stories to tell? “So what do you think?” Winter asked, spinning around in the sunlight. “There are some cool places indoors that we can visit. You know, a little less taxing on the skin.”


“I like it,” Graciela mumbled. “I could stay in the sunlight all day if my skin didn’t burn. Does anybody have vampiric sunscreen?”


“Wasn’t really planning on going out,” Maric replied. “But there are some really sick indoor places. Winter, why don’t we show her the tavern? We can get a drink, I know the bar keep.”


“We’re not old enough to drink,” Graciela replied. “And I have no desire to anyway. I just want to see what’s in  town so I can write this stupid paper and go back to my room. You guys don’t have to be nice to me, you know. I’ll go around myself and you can go do whatever it is you want to.”


“We don’t have to be nice to you, but I want to,” Winter said. “Not often we get a new face around here, and another vampire no less. Arc is a bit of a downer and Tera follows her around relentlessly. Those two are annoying. Adriana is related to me so it’s a little different.”


“She’s right,” Maric agreed. “I don’t really care much for the others but no point in writing you off without getting to know you first. Besides, I think you’re cute.”


“Maric!” Winter cried, hitting his arm. “Don’t be weird. You’ll scare her away. Graciela, please ignore him and hang out with me instead.” Winter linked her arms with Gracie’s much to the girl’s dismay. “We can go to the tavern and have a bite to eat. We don’t need to drink, Maric can do that all on his own.”


“Woah, woah!” Maric cried. “You can’t leave me behind. Wait up, girls!” He chased after the two, waving his arms as he tried to catch up. 


“We should get to know each other,” Dionysus replied, crossing his arms over his chest and looking at the students in front of him. He didn’t know exactly what Sophina wanted him to teach them. “Tell me about your powers and your names I guess. I’ll start. I’m Dionysus Blaze and I don’t have any powers. I’m just here because I’m old and I know a lot of information your headmaster thinks could be useful.”


“What a coincidence,” Tommy said, patting Dionysus on the back. “I am also quite unremarkable. I’m from another dimension, but it didn’t afford me any special powers or knowledge. I guess my DNA is special? I don’t know. Oh, and my name is Tommy Bennett  but most of you know that already. You go next, Leon.”


“Oh, uh…okay.” The students were all sitting together on a couch across from Dionysus and Tommy. Leon, in the middle, leaned forward. “I’m Leon Sikes. I’m a seer, so I can see what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not very good at it yet, but one day…Ms.Sophina thinks I could be really good at it. I hope to use it to save my best friend.” He looked over at Tera and Arc. “It’s Graciela.”


“Yes we could tell with how hard you were defending her this morning,” Arc said, rolling her eyes and leaning back in her seat. “My name is Arc Black. I’m a werewolf. But not just any werewolf, my mother is also a mage so I have some cool powers along with my heightened senses. You know like fire and ice and stuff like that. Tera, you go.”


“My name is Tera,” The fairy spoke quietly. “My specialty is dispelling and removing charms placed on other people. It’s erm…useful when we’re up against people trying to use mind altering spells and stuff. Uhm…are we going to have to use our powers against actual bad people?”


“Most certainly,” Dionysus replied, running a hand through his orange ponytail. “I don’t imagine you’ve all been enrolled in a school like this without that thought present in your mind. I could sugarcoat it and tell you all that you’re an elite group of students that are being given an opportunity of a lifetime but I think it’s much more fair to tell you that you’re needed in paying off the debts of some rather foolish people who decided their happiness meant more than the world’s wellbeing. So on that note, today’s lesson is over.” 


“Wait…what?” Leon asked. “That’s it? You tell us something like that and then dismiss us?” 


“Yes,” Dionysus replied. “You can see the future, but not the past which is a shame. If you did, you’d understand why I’m saying what I am. Think about my words, reflect on them, come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about it. Including you, Tommy. Alright, class is adjourned. See you all tomorrow.”


Maric chuckled, sliding his phone towards the girls. “Look at what Briella is making her kids do. Tera sent me a picture as she walked by the door.” Graciela peered at the phone, seeing Braylen, Adriana, and Rylan on the ground completing a jigsaw puzzle with really tiny pieces. “Knowing Ms.Briella, she won’t let them leave until they finish. That’s got to be like 1000 pieces, right?”


“I thought you didn’t like this Tera girl,” Graciela replied curtly, dismissing the vampire’s words completely. “Yet you’re texting her.”


“Jealous?” Maric asked, raising a brow. “I can talk to whoever I want. Tera included. It’d be different if you were my girlfriend, but you’re not. Right?”


“I don’t very much like this boy. His energy is all wrong. Perhaps it’s time to go home.”


Graciela scoffed, at both Maric and the voice. They had some nerve speaking to her in that manner. Though she could agree that she wanted to go home, it wasn’t because of Maric’s energy. He was trying to make her flirt with him or something, but that didn’t mean he had negative energy. Nothing like the teens at home. “We have enough for our paper, yes?”


“You don’t want to stay out more?” Winter asked. “It’s just starting to get dark. That’s when all the fun happens.”


Graciela stood up, ignoring Winter’s pleas to stay and hang out more, and Maric’s sad attempt at trying to get her to stay by teasing her. She had enough social interaction for the day. It would be interesting being paired with these two, but she’d much prefer to go back to her room since it seemed as if her only true friend, Braylen, was tied up doing something. 

Screenshot-35Sophina threw the file of papers onto her desk, looking at both Briella and Dionysus with heated glares. “You told your students that they have to pay for our mistakes?” Sophina cried, directing her anger first at the orange elf. “Have you lost your mind?”


“Am I wrong?” Dionysus asked, raising a brow. “Besides I didn’t say it like that. I said because of the mistakes of people in the past. Listen, I don’t know what you want me to tell you. You gave me three kids and a man who isn’t experienced in any of the things you guys are teaching. I had no lesson plans, no time to prepare…I told them what I know and what will help them.”


“It seems to me like you’re butthurt for no reason,” Briella replied. “You did just spring this gig onto Dio without so much as an explanation. Did you want him to summon Ellora himself and beg for her forgiveness? That worked so well the first time.”


“No.” Sophina spat. “I want you to teach those kids what they need to do to get into the underworld to face Victus and beg HIM for help!” Seeing her colleagues, Dionysus with brows furrowed and Briella holding back a laugh, she seethed. “Go ahead, tell me you think that’s a bad idea. But before you do, think about it! The only one who can change a god’s favor, is another one. Victus is Ellora’s counterpart, he could do something.”


Dionysus let out a groan and shut his eyes tightly. “Victus contains the darkness in the underworld so that it doesn’t leak out into our world and take over. Ellora keeps her light from pestering the dark so there is no war between the two. I don’t see how asking Victus to overstep his boundary is going to do anything, especially to help these kids. I’ll pay my mistake and wander the world forever, but those kids aren’t going to have to do it as well.” 


“This time will be different,” Sophina replied. “I did my research, hundreds of years of it! If Victus can’t help us reset the curse, maybe he can point us the direction of someone who can!”


“That’s not how that works,” Dionysus replied. “You can’t just go into the underworld and ask the god of darkness to tell Ellora to reverse the plague she placed on the Grays and the Sikes. Those were always going to happen because they need to for the world to stay in balance. She is the darkness and he is the light.” Angry, Dionysus stood up. “What we can and will do is find out what this generation has to do to fulfil their curse and make it so that they’re best equipped to face it. I will have no part in your silly games summoning a god.”


Sophina was at a loss for words as the man she had once loved, stormed out of the room. She understood his apprehension but asking two teenagers to bear the balance of the world on their shoulders was unfair. It was unfair to ask Timmy to do it all those years ago too. There had to be some other way. 

[R]6.9 Group Assignments

Screenshot-3“Class settle down,” Sophina replied, slamming a ruler onto the whiteboard to silence the rowdy students. “Just because lessons haven’t started doesn’t mean that you’re not in my classroom.” 


“We should just start,” Tera, the usually soft spoken teen, voiced. She looked up from her notebook, where she had been scribbling little doodles in the margins. “Otherwise we’ll need to stay late again. That wouldn’t be ideal for us or Ms.Sophina.”


“Give her five more minutes,” Leon chirped up. “Please?” He could see Arc’s look of anger as he had said that but it didn’t matter to him. He was sure Graciela was taking this school seriously. Besides, Leon had never been fond of the Werewolf. She was strange in both personality and abilities. 


As if right on cue, the door to the classroom made a loud creaking noise as Graciela pushed her torso against it. All eyes landed on the vampire who shrunk back from their curious and angry gazes. “Ms.Gray, we were just talking about you. Care to share why you’re late?”


“I’m late?” Graciela asked, eyes widening. “Class doesn’t start at 8:30 am?” Graciela fished into her small leather black bookbag for a slip of paper that had her schedule listed on it.


Sophina read over it for a moment before letting out a sigh. “A typo. You’re off the hook this time. Class usually starts at 8am so from now on I expect to see you on time. Understood?”


“Uh…yes.” Graciela mumbled, wanting to shrink away from her teacher’s gaze. She took the available seat next to the black haired werewolf and placed her bookbag on the floor underneath the desk. 

Screenshot-4“Today is a special day which is why we couldn’t start class without you,” Sophina replied. She began to write on the white board, drawing a chart with two columns. On the top of one she wrote her name and the other she wrote Briella, who Graciela assumed was the other teacher. “We are going to be reassigning the classes. Some of you will stay under my tutorship, but others will move to Briella’s or a new teacher.”


There were collective groans, but no cheers. This wasn’t something they had wanted to do. Graciela lowered her eyes at the students sitting beside her. Were there others besides this group? She had remembered Leon said the class was small. “Enough. we are moving you all around based on your skillset, social compatibility and other factors. For the rest of the semester you will remain in your own groups for studies. If you have questions or concerns you will ask your teacher.”


The class watched silently as Sophina wrote a list of names on the board. Some Graciela recognized- mainly hers, Braylen’s and Leon’s. Others she hadn’t recognized and wondered if they belonged to the people sitting next to her. One by one she began to cross off names, assigning them a spot on the chart until there were only three names left unchecked. “Okay, in group one which will be my group…we have Maric, Graciela, and Winter. The three vampires. You will be staying here in my room Graciela and Maric, and Winter will join us when we swap officially.”


Graciela looked around, eyes settling on the only other vampire in the room. He looked very much unapproachable and unfriendly. She had wanted to be grouped with Braylen, but of course things would never work out in her favor. She clenched her hands together and waited patiently for the other groups to be announced. “In Briella’s group, we have Ryland, Bryalen, and Adriana.” The blue haired boy, Graciela was guessing Ryland, groaned as he slid down into his seat. “Is there a problem Mr.Conway?” The boy’s eyes widened as if finally noticing who he was talking to and shook his head wildly. 


“Lastly we have Leon, Tera, and Arc together with our newest instructor Dionysus.” Graciela’s eyes widened at that. She was there when Sophina asked him to teach a class, but this? Wasn’t it rather hasty? Besides…she wanted to learn under Dionysus not the woman in charge! “Dionysus is new so he will have help from another teacher you’ve seen working with Ms.Briella. That would be Mr.Bennett. While Dionysus is a new teacher, he knows more than even I do I assure you. His teachings will be very beneficial to the three of you. So, are there any questions or concerns? And I will not entertain the idea of switching groups in any capacity so do not suggest it.”


All the hands that were raised suddenly dropped. “Very well then. Ryland will you take Braylen with you to Ms.Briella’s room? As for Leon, Arc, and Tera…the three of you will be studying in the library until we find your group a room.” All of the students got up, except for Graciela and Maric. When Leon looked to her with a frown she shifted her gaze to the window. She was happy to not be in his group at least. 

Screenshot-86Dionysus eyed the male who sat lazily across the couch in the library. Well at least Dio thought this was the library. When coming to this academy he didn’t think he’d be a teacher, let alone a supervisor for three teens and a young male. But for Charlotte he’d do anything. She was the best friend he had over the years and he’d repay her by making sure her daughter remained safe. “You’re the new guy,” The male said, looking over at Dionysus. “Welcome. Name’s Tommy Bennett.”


Leaning closer towards the male, Dionysus’ eyes grew wide. He had resembled Jeffrey Bennett- it was almost as if they were twins. Dionysus rubbed his eyes. “Did you say Bennett?”


“Yes sir,” Tommy replied. “I’m the school’s own dimension traveler! Nothing exciting about me except I was sucked into this here dimension from another one and totally didn’t die. I have so much to teach these young minds.” Tommy rolled his eyes and threw his back slightly. “We’ll work well together.”


“There’s a Bennett here in this academy,” Dionysus said carefully. No use hiding it, Graciela would be sure to question the man’s resemblance to her father. “Daughter of a Jeffrey Bennett. Do you know him? I’m going to take a wild guess and say yes because the resemblance is uncanny.”


“Yes, that’s my dad.” Tommy suddenly sat up. “He’s been missing in my dimension for years. But…” He frowned, running his hand through his hair. “I’m aware the guy is probably another version of my father.”


“Maybe not?” Dionysus asked aloud. “He was taken from his dimension as well. If you’re here, maybe that’s the same guy. We can ask Graciela. You could have a step sister here. Which would be really good for her to have right now.” Dionysus shook his head as he saw three teens walk in, only one he recognized. “We can talk about it later though.”


“Welcome kiddies!” Tommy exclaimed, clapping his hands together and jumping from his seat. He caught the older male’s drift. This wasn’t something to involve the other students in but if his father was out there… well, he’d have to find him. Screenshot-6Maric slid into the chair next to Graciela, much to the girl’s dismay. When Winter entered the room, she sat  few desks away from the pair, shooting a glare in Maric’s direction. “She hates me,” Maric muttered under his breath to Graciela. “Just like everyone else here…except for Ryland and Tera.”


“Why? You a bad guy or something?” Graciela asked, raising a brow. But she was quickly silenced by Sophina who tapped on the white board with the dry erase marker. 


“Today’s assignment is going to be about getting to know your groupmates. I want the three of you to be close, because your bond is what will make you powerful. Graciela you’re new to not only the school, but the area as well. Winter and Maric show her around and have some fun.”


“Really?” Maric asked, grinning. “That’s it?”


“Yes and when you’re done you’ll each write a three page paper about what you did, due on my desk tomorrow morning before 8am.” Sophina patted her dress down. “What are you waiting for? Go.”


Winter stood up first and walked to the two other vampire teens. She extended her arm out to Graciela. “My name is Winter. If you’re smart, you’ll stay away from this idiot over here.” Graciela didn’t know what to say, not wanting to get caught up in between the two but Maric and Winter both smiled at each other which made her relieved. They didn’t actually really hate each other. 


“Don’t listen to her Graciela, I’m a great friend to have. Don’t worry, the three of us will get along great. Best of friends, most powerful group, easy.” As Maric said this, he led the girls out of the classroom and down the hall. Graciela didn’t know what to make of the pair. It was strange how easily they had accepted her. That certainly wasn’t the case at home. She had to wonder if it was all a joke.

Screenshot-12Briella sat poised, waiting for her trio to walk in. She hadn’t exactly been on board with this idea, or rather any of Sophina’s ideas but having the girl actually talking to her after centuries was a start. She had been aware that years ago she acted selfishly but she was resigned to the fact that she would do it all again, especially for her true love, Indie Draknar. “Adriana, Braylen, and Ryland.” She spoke their names as they each entered. “Welcome back Adriana, lovely having you with me again. As for you boys, welcome.” She stood up and walked over to Braylen to shake his hand. “My name is Briella Ragnarok, but the students just call me Ms.Briella.”


“My name is Braylen Crew, I’m from Fortitude.” Braylen shook her hand. He uttered his name out loud for Adriana to hear as well, having already met Ryland the day before. 


“So, I’ve heard. You’re a childhood friend of Leon’s.” Briella nodded. “He’s a good kid, so I imagine you’ll behave similarly. No shenanigans.” Briella clapped her hands together. “Now, I expect you all to follow directions so with that out of the way, our group is going to be the one that performs the best.


“Is it a competition?” Ryland asked, taking a seat at an empty desk. Adriana and Braylen followed suit. 


“No, not yet.” Briella winked. “But unofficially we will be the most cohesive unit. At the end of the day as Ms.Sophina will tell you…we are working together to save the world blah blah blah. You know the drill. My job is to make sure that you all feel equipped enough to do so. This semester we won’t be doing anything drastic, but rather honing the abilities you already have and learning to work as a team. When push comes to shove I want you to be able to rely on each other.”


“We can do that!” Ryland exclaimed, throwing his fist into the air. “We’re totally going to have a good year.” Braylen watched Ryland curiously. Wasn’t he the one who groaned when he found out he’d be in Briella’s group? Adriana seemed a lot more soft spoken and quiet. Braylen would have liked to be with Leon and Graciela. They were the perfect trio, but it wouldn’t hurt to get to know other people and learn things that could help his friends.

[R] 6.8 Boarding School Blues


Dionysus watched Sophina with a bit of curiosity as she maneuvered around the small apartment that she had offered up to him and Graciela. It was right above the academy and across from Sophina’s own dorm so, it seemed like the most convenient area for the two to stay for the time being. “Graciela, the students share a dorm. You’re more than welcome to bunk with one of the girls if you’re more comfortable with that.”


“She has her own room here,” Dionysus said, stretching his arms over his head with a loud yawn. “Don’t exactly think she wants to stay where she can’t leave the light on all night.”


“That doesn’t bother you, does it?” Graciela asked quietly, poking her head out from behind the male who had been acting as a shield between her and Sophina. 


“I can sleep through anything,” Dionysus replied with a simple shrug. “I want you to be comfortable.” 

Screenshot-25“Well, if that’s settled…” Sophina stopped fussing, arms crossed over her chest as she stared at Dionysus. He had been trying his hardest not to make a big deal out of it…but this was Sophina, the love he thought he had all but lost years ago. The love he had tried to replicate in many others, including Astra Gray, and couldn’t succeed. “I expect you to earn your keep here, Dionysus. I want you to teach the kids a class of some kind.”


“Hmm…really? Like what?” Dionysus genuinely pondered that for a moment, drawing a blank. 


“I don’t know yet,” Sophina said, letting her eyes flutter closed. “But something useful. Something that can bring an end to all the pain and suffering.”


“I can try my best,” Dionysus said calmly. “That’s all I can promise you. Nothing more or nothing less.”


“Right well…that’s all I can ask for after all these years, I suppose,” Sophina mumbled, drawing her hand towards her chest. She turned her attention towards Graciela with a forced smile. Graciela could sense the tension and shrunk away from the woman’s gaze. “Lavina would be rolling in her grave seeing you. A vampire.”


“I already heard this speech,” Graciela replied with a shrug. “The Grays were vampire hunters. That got mucked up along the way.”


“Well I suppose we can’t choose who we fall in love with,” Sophina replied, looking over at Dionysus now who had refused to react to her words. 


“That isn’t what happened,” Graciela said. “My grandpa Alistair was manipulated through time to have children with an evil vampire’s daughter. But I guess he wasn’t human either. He was a mage and I guess my great grandads were actually in love.”


“The Grays are no stranger to evil forces trying to take them down,” Dionysus responded to Sophina’s surprised face. “I can catch you up, but the family you once knew has changed and evolved over time, mostly for the better. There are a few bad apples but I suppose that can’t be helped.”


“Right, well. I’ll let you guys get settled in. Then, we’ll have your evaluation Gracie,” Sophina said. “Don’t worry too much about it. We just want to see where your abilities lie and how that will settle into our group of heroes. You’re all here for a reason.”


Graciela wasn’t too thrilled about that prospect but she’d do what she had to do until she had found an opening to do what she thought needed to be done. 


Braylen placed his bags onto the floor of the shared dorm room with a thud. Leon couldn’t help but chuckle as he approached his friend. “You brought your whole house, huh?”


Braylen pointed to one bag, a large green suitcase, with a grin. “My dad made me pack all that. Clothes and various other things he’d think would be useful.” Then, his gaze lingered to a much smaller blue carry on. “Alistair made me bring those. Potions and stuff for all different occasions. Just in case.”


“You guys are like a little family,” Leon said, propping himself up onto the bottom bunk of one of the beds. “That’s what you always wanted, right?”


“Yeah,” Braylen said with a nod. “It’s happy for now, but I heard my dad and Alistair talking about going to Moonlight Falls to help take down their leader. It sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? Something that could tear our family apart.”


“I don’t think so,” Leon said. “Callen has always been the toughest dude I’ve ever known and Alistair only makes him stronger. When you love someone, it helps you push further than you ever thought possible.” Leon placed a hand on his heart. “Even if she doesn’t feel the same way.”


“She does feel the same way dummy,” Braylen replied, leaning over to smack his friend upside the head. “That’s why she’s so angry. You didn’t talk to her for so long. How do you think she’s going to react after you were her security blanket for so long?”


“I…” Leon shut his eyes tightly and leaned back against the wall. “I didn’t want her to get her hopes up. I didn’t know if I’d ever be back and in one piece. The future for this academy is bleak. I thought it’d be better if Graciela didn’t have to worry about someone like me. She could move on and be happy with someone else, and live a normal life.”


“But that’s not your decision to make,” Braylen said. “Graciela always knew deep down that something was going to happen regarding her and that voice. She always fights it but I know that she was prepared for something like this happening. You can’t protect her. She doesn’t want a hero.”


“She wants a friend,” Leon said, with a nod. “I went and messed that up. But at least you’ll be there for her, right? You’ll make sure she’s okay even if she won’t talk to me?”


“I always have,” Braylen said. “She’s family now. But you have to step your game up because honestly, she’s not going to forgive you so easily. Gracie is mad.” Braylen’s voice trailed off as two more males entered the room. One, blue hair and the other a vampire with dark black hair. 


“Newbies!” The blue haired male cried. “Yessssssss! Finally!” He jumped onto the black haired male who grunted in annoyance. “God it was getting so lonely here just the three of us and those annoying girls.”


“Great, more noise,” The vampire muttered. “Just don’t hang on me like this nerd and we’ll be fine. My name is Maric, by the way.” Maric shoved the blue haired male off of him much to Leon’s delight.  “Braylen, the fairy Leon never ceases to talk about.” 


“My name is Ryland!” The blue haired boy exclaimed happily. “Sorry, I’m not normally this excited but only seeing the same people for years gets kinda repetitive. Not that Maric and Leon aren’t great but….yay! New people! There’s a girl too, right? Where is she?”


“Graciela,” Leon said. “She’s probably not staying in the student dormitory. Her uh…dad, is staying her now too. He’s this like really crazy talented guy. Maybe Sophina will get him to teach us or something!” He looked at Braylen roll his eyes. Yes, more lying but this time it was to make it easier on Graciela so the other kids didn’t make fun of her for acting like a child. They didn’t understand.


Graciela sat against the wall of her new home. It felt lonely and cold, despite how well decorated the place was. While Dionysus was a family friend, he hadn’t spent much time with Graciela once her family had left Moonlight Falls. She realized she hadn’t known much about the elf. That didn’t scare her, because her mother had trusted Dionysus with her life and that was enough for Gracie. What worried her was having to adjust to a new life, having only Dionysus and Braylen to lean on. 


Graciela lifted her phone to her ear with trembling hands. It would have been so simple for Leon to do just this, and phone home. But alas, being an important seer or whatever Sophina had said- changed him. The phone rang a few times before someone finally answered. “Hello my love,” Charlotte’s voice rang on the other side of the phone. “How are you doing? Adjusting well?”


“I just got here,” Graciela said. “The place looks really nice. Dionysus is taking good care of me but I haven’t gone down to meet the other students yet. I think I’ll wait until class starts.”


“Try to keep an open mind, honey,” Charlotte’s soothing voice said on the other line. “I trust your decision to study here with Braylen and Leon, but I also know you’re going to fight it every single step of the way. What nobody seems to understand, not Leon, not your father, not even your siblings is what it means to be the one to be the leader of the Gray family.”


“What do you mean?” Graciela asked. 


“Do you remember Dionysus’ story about our family? Someone was always elected as leader to make decisions that would affect the whole clan. It’s different now, times have changed, but there still seems to be eyes that fall onto the strongest of our family to take charge. In our family it’s me and it’s your grandfather, but we need to make room for you. You’re a special girl, Graciela. You are going to be the one to lead our family into the future generations however you see fit.”


“Mom, that’s not necessary is it?” Graciela asked. “You’re the strong matriarch. No one is looking to me for help on anything.” 


“Not yet,” Charlotte replied. “But one day you’re going to have to make a decision that cements the family’s position in the world. For me, that was marrying your father and moving to Fortitude. For you? It could be anything. I want you to do what you feel is right, no matter what.”




“Honey listen,” Charlotte replied. “I know it sounds like I’m spewing nonsense but I want you to know that I love you and I believe in you. No matter what you choose to do in life, I trust in your judgement and I love you.”


Graciela could feel the tears building in her eyes. Life was going to be hard without her mother’s strong presence by her side, supporting her and encouraging her. Graciela was the one on the life changing journey, so she understood what her mother meant. This was not something Pax or Waverly could do. She had to make decisions based on what she thought was right and hearing that her mother believed in her was enough to give her the strength to push forward. 


“Graciela, I love you. Please, try to make friends with your classmates and trust in Dionysus if you can’t reach out to me and your father,” Charlotte replied. 


“I’ll…try my best,” Graciela muttered, reaching up to wipe her tears. It was time for her to take charge and be the strong woman her family and friends believed her to be. 

[R]6.7 The Decision


Graciela slammed the front door to her house with enough force that Alistair was sure it’d crack the door frame. Bolting up from his seat, Dionysus rushed to the door. “Trouble in paradise?”

“You could say that,” Alistair replied with a nervous smile. “It’s good to see you again, Dionysus.”

“Likewise, sir.” Dionysus slightly bowed his head. “The boys are in the other room playing video games. Er, nothing violent of course. Just some puzzle games I convinces them they couldn’t beat my score in. I should go check on them, actually.”

“I can,” Alistair offered. “I think Graciela wants to talk to you.” He gave her a knowing look. She had told him the reason she needed to go home so badly was because she wanted to ask the elven man something about what Leon’s professor had told him. Alistair stalked off into the other room to check on Waverly and Gregg while Dionysus motioned for Graciela to take a seat beside him on the couch.

“How was the party?” Dionysus asked. “Not anything you expected?”

“No,” Graciela mumbled. “It was everything I had expected from Leon. I found out that he didn’t talk to me for 5 years on purpose while he was talking to my supposed best friend, Braylen, the whole time.”

“I’m sorry sweetie,” Dionysus said with a frown. “Perhaps there was a good reason?”


“I don’t care.” Graciela waved the man’s words away. Dionysus could tell that she most certainly did care, but this was something Graciela needed to sort out herself when she was ready. “I have other things to worry about right now. I met with someone today who teaches Leon at the boarding school. Her name is Sophina and she thinks she can help me.”

Dionysus’ words seem to hitch in his throat for a minute. “Sophina…what does she look like? Teal hair, beautiful coral eyes, soft hands?”

“I wasn’t paying attention to her hands, you weirdo.” Graciela lowered her eyes. “But yes, the hair and eyes seem to match the description. You said you were alive for many centuries, she claims to have been too and knew about Timothy Gray.”

“Well yes, Sophina and Timmy were good friends. Timothy was bed ridden for most of his life and Sophina was escaping her past. So naturally the two seemed to link up quite easily. She had stories to tell and he was welcoming when she needed a friend.” Despite the edge of sadness to his voice, Dionysus was smiling. “She was there when Elora passed her judgement on us. I haven’t seen her since that night, so I can’t speak to the validity of her claims of being able to help you but I’d like to believe she’s still the same girl looking for justice.”

“Centuries could change a person. I know 5 years did.” Graciela lightly kicked her feet up. “Sophina mentioned arcane history and that we could study it to see how to combat the world;s descent into pure darkness. Seems kind of cinematic and over the top if you ask me.”

“Well what does the voice say? I’m sure whoever or whatever it belongs to must have an opinion. There’s no way to commune in secret.”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea to see what that human thinks she can do and I’d like to see it up close. But be very mindful that the world can only be saved by the inevitable. You must do what you were chosen to do, little lamb.”


“The voice thinks it’s a good idea but it’s taunting me saying Sophina can’t stop the fate of the world,” Graciela said, shutting her eyes. “I don’t much trust this voice anyway. It’s not sneering at me like the last one, but I have no reason to trust it.”

“Do you have reason to mistrust it?” Dionysus asked. “When you were younger you were always afraid of the darkness, but that doesn’t seem to be as debilitating anymore. It could very well be that the voice who’s talking to you doesn’t belong to the darkness. It could be that the voice talking to Lapis Sikes didn’t either, because he was a seer being fed the future. Timmy was the vessel for the darkness…” Dionysus placed a hand on his chin. “Timothy didn’t tell me about any voices, the darkness hurt him in other ways.”

“The elven man is so smart, isn’t he? No, I’m not the darkness. That pest left you because it had found an opening in another dimension. While it was gone, I slid into the hole that resides in your heart. I can leave if I so choose, but you can’t force me.”

“The voice, it’s saying it’s not the darkness and you’re right!” Graciela cried, eyes widening. “They say that they can leave if they want to, but they don’t.”

“Well, what do you want from Graciela to free her from you then?” Dionysus asked, grabbing hold of the girl’s shoulders like it would make a huge difference. “Enough games, if you tell her she might just give it to you.”

“I want you to do what you’re supposed to do, Graciela. Reset the balance of light and darkness in your world. I don’t know how many more people need to tell you what you have to do.”

Graciela placed a hand on her heart. “It says I need to do my job. I have to follow my ancestor, Timothy Gray, and be the vessel that brings the darkness into the underworld. Is that right, voice?”


“Now you’re getting it.”

“You should just speak plainly!” Graciela cried, throwing her arms up into the air. “You always have to make this some kind of guessing game.”

“We’re dealing with higher powers here,” Dionysus muttered, shutting his eyes tightly and leaning back into the couch. “That’s why you’re never going to get a plain answer. If it’s similar to my situation though, you can present the voice with the answer yourself and they can confirm or deny it. Perhaps you should go to that Academy and see if there’s any information on how to venture into the underworld. That never was my area of expertise.”

“I’m sorry Dio but I can’t absorb any darkness into me and take it into the depths of hell! How does that even work?” Graciela cried. “Let me guess, I have to figure it out on my own! This is so dumb.”

“Graciela, if I may?” Alistair asked, walking  into the room. “You said the underworld, right? Callen might be able to help you. He once told me that fairies with white wings can activate the entrance to the underworld. He’s been there before but it was because he had a calling. I’m not sure how that works.”

“You’re entertaining this idea, grandpa?” Graciela asked. “Really?”

“It’s worth exploring,” Alistair said. “If only for the information. I don’t want you down there, trust me. Callen lost the love of his life in the underworld. Being a vessel doesn’t sound like it bodes well for you. But if we have information we can possibly stop it.”


“True,” Dionysus replied. “I can go with you to that boarding school if you’d like. Think of me as your chaperone. Your parents might not be able to leave Fortitude because of your siblings but I certainly can and I know a lot about what can hurt you and what can’t.”

“I’ll venture even farther,” Alistair said. “Braylen should also go. He has a connection to the whole thing as well. Everyone should learn how to make sense of things and how to protect themselves if push comes to shove.”

Dionysus clapped his hands together. “Think of it like an adventure with your cool uncle Dio. You have my word that I will not let you die under my watch. I promise, Graciela, and I never go back on my promises.”

“Okay,” Graciela said with a nod. “I’ll go to the academy, but I want to learn. That’s it.” She gulped and walked to the stairs. “I’m packing before I change my mind. Leon is only here for the night.”

“H-ey!” Dionysus called out after her, his face growing red. “I’m not going to tell your mother on my own. She’ll kill me.”

“You want me to change my mind, don’t you?” Graciela cried, turning back on her heels to glare at Dionysus.

“No…” He laughed nervously. “Go pack. Al here will call everyone and tell them the news.”


Thinking about anything but her purpose in life would make Graciela change her mind about her decision. Dionysus, Sophina and this voice told her she was destined to become a vessel for the darkness and frankly she thought it sounded ridiculous.

Though, she couldn’t deny the longer nights that had been coming around Fortitude recently and the sudden resurgence of her family’s ancestry. Things were strange, but when had they not been? Her family had been hunted by an evil vampire when they were in Moonlight Falls. They moved to a safe haven in a pocket dimension, and then found themselves in a supernatural town that hadn’t let newcomers enter in ages.

If anything, Graciela had only wanted to learn more about magic to take care of her family. A silly fight with Leon and the distance from her family wouldn’t stop her. She wanted to be strong like her mother and grandfather.

Because if something did happen, she wanted to be ready. This voice inside of her wasn’t going to go anywhere. If she wanted to make a change, it needed to be of her own accord.

Would it be scary? Hell yeah. Was she going to do it anyway? Hell yeah.