Monday, February 27, 2012

Unexpected Properties of the Surprise Gift

Hello, this is Marie-Grace again. As our returning readers may recall, I recently received a surprise gift in the mail. (Getting mail at all is actually rather a surprise for me, given my circumstances.) Although I still don't know who sent it, I do have a little more information now about why it was sent to me.

First of all, a helpful piece of advice: If you find yourself turned into a vampire, Northern Canada is a good choice of place to live. Although we have our sunny days from time to time, for most of the year they are few and far between. Snow, rain, fog, heavy wind, and general greyness are more common than bright days. Here, a vampire can lead a comparatively normal life, sometimes even venturing out in the morning or afternoon.

Today, however, was not one of those days. It was a bright, sunny, nearly cloudless day, with blue sky and only a light breeze blowing. Perfect for the humans, who were eager to run outside and enjoy the weather, and reluctant to spend such an unusually pleasant day stuck in a school classroom. Not so perfect, though, for vampires.

Those of us who were at home today - Cécile, Tabitha, Clare, Kaya, and I - had to be even more careful than usual to keep everything shut tight. Once the heavy drapes were over the window, though, we could spend time in the living room. Clare and Tabitha were working on their home school lessons, Kaya was posting on the forum for one of her online classes, and Cécile and I were doing our long-distance university coursework.

After a hundred and fifty years, the two of us are well past the high school level in our studies... but we can't exactly go get a job because we look so young. (We were turned into vampires when we were twelve, and since modern children are usually larger than children were during our time because of better nutrition, most people these days perceive Cécile and me as only about ten or so.) For a long time, this meant long and boring days, since we don't need to sleep much - but since we've met the Greens and Roses, we've started using the internet, and it has opened up a whole new world for us. For online courses, our age is less of a concern - and more difficult to verify - so we've found a lot of new avenues for learning.

Currently Cécile is doing coursework in botany, and I'm studying African literature. There's so much out there to learn, it'll be quite a long time before we run out of subjects to study!

Today was shaping up to be a fairly ordinary day of study. The five of us like to work in the same room, although we don't really talk because we don't want to distract each other, just for the sake of the company. (Kaya is only with us about half the time; the other days she goes to her co-op classes. Today, though, she was home doing her online coursework.) We were well into our work, and didn't really notice when the dog, April, came into the living room.

We did notice when she started playing with the edge of the drapes, but before anyone could stop her, she had pulled down the whole curtain rod.

Instinctively, the vampires ducked for cover. Kaya - the only one present who wouldn't be burned by the sunlight - tackled me to the floor to shield me, because unlike the others, I was directly in front of the picture window.

I drew in my breath, squeezed my eyes shut, and waited to be burnt to a crisp... but nothing happened.

Kaya helped me to my feet, and looked at me questioningly. I was right in front of the picture window, with sun shining brightly inside, but I wasn't on fire. In fact, I felt completely ordinary. I stood there in shock, albeit relieved shock, as Kaya put the drapes up again and scolded April.

I suggested, "Maybe the sun isn't bright enough to be a problem today," although this seemed pretty unlikely given how it was beaming on us.

Tabitha shook her head, and held up a section of her hair, the ends of which had gotten caught in the light and had been badly singed. Apparently some of the vampires were affected by the sunlight. Just not me.

Why not me?

It hasn't always been this way. About twenty years ago, Cécile and I took a trip to a southern beachfront village, where I got caught out in the sunlight one morning and burned my leg rather badly before I managed to scramble into shelter. It's not that I'm somehow a special vampire who is magically immune to daylight. Today was a change.

I was so startled that I barely noticed something else. Something significant. As the shock wore off, I realized that the necklace around my neck was starting to feel heavier, and although vampire skin isn't warm to the touch anyway, the chain felt downright cold even in comparison to me. I reflexively put my hand to the metal, and it was quite chilly against my fingers. At that point, I finally managed to put two and two together.

The necklace had protected me from the sun.

This still raises a lot of questions, of course. I don't know what property of it protected me, and whether the necklace was that way from the start, or whether something was done to it while it was lost. I still don't know who sent it.

I do know three things, now, that I didn't know before. 1.) We have a way for a vampire to go out in the sun without burning. 2.) Whoever sent it was almost certainly a friend, not an enemy. 3.) And if we can find a few more of them, it would change things a lot for Cécile, Clare, Tabitha, and me.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Glimpse into the Past

Hello, this is Cécile. Marie-Grace has written for the blog a couple of times, but I never have, so this will be my first entry. We promised to tell you a little bit about our past, how Marie-Grace and I came to be vampires, and what our lives have been like. We probably won't get through the whole story in one entry - more than a hundred and fifty years is a lot of ground to cover. This is just going to be the beginning of the story, the part where we were still just humans.

First, some pictures of Marie-Grace and me, so you'll know what we look like:

Now what you've seen our faces, I'll start telling you our story.

The first thing you should know is that, although we share our first names with two American Girl historical characters (different surnames, though,) we are different people. I don't know if that is just a coincidence, or if those characters were somehow based loosely on us, but either way those stories were not ours. 

My name is Cécile Thibodeaux. I was born in New Orleans in 1841. My parents were both gens de couleur libres - free people of colour, during a time when enslavement of black people was still legal in the United States. My paternal grandfather came from Haiti in the wake of the 1804 revolution, which established that nation in what had formerly been the French colony of Saint-Domingue. 

As far as I know my mother's family had been in New Orleans for several generations, but I know very little about her. She died of an illness when I was very young, and my father refused to talk about her, giving me only the smallest tidbits of information when I'd worn him down by continual pestering, only for him to fall silent again soon after.

Although sometimes a tragedy in the family brings people closer, for my father and I, it was the opposite. He spent most of his time shut away in his study, even taking his meals alone, while I was raised primarily by the parade of servants who would sign on to our employ for the good wages but would soon leave because of my father's arrogant ways and harsh words. There was very little continuity in my early life; in my memories of early childhood, my father is a shadowed, blurry figure in the background.

Things took a turn for the better for me when I made a new best friend. In those days, there were not the same regulations on child labour as there are now, and the year I turned twelve, my father hired a servant who was my same age, a Cajun girl named Marie-Grace Allain. She was an orphan without a family, and she took the job as a domestic to support herself as best she could.

Although we were from different social classes, Marie-Grace and I quickly bonded as friends. Perhaps it was partly the shared experience of losing a parent. Most of it was simply a pleasant meshing of personalities, though. We aren't exactly the same; Marie-Grace is shy, while I'm bolder, and she considers her actions more wisely while I tend to be impulsive. We complimented each other in character, though, with the strengths of one making up for the weaknesses of the other. We both enjoyed music, dance, and laughing together. I taught her from my lessons, both academics and the arts, and she taught me household tasks like cooking and sewing that had always been done for me before. Quickly, we were inseparable, friends forever.

I assumed my father wouldn't approve of our friendship, because of our class difference and racial difference. For several months, though, he didn't seem to notice. He was increasingly seldom home, and when he was around he was locked in his study. I probably could have run off to Paris without him realizing for days that I was gone. Without very attentive parenting, I could be friends with anyone I wished.

One evening, he emerged from his study, and I could see how different he was. His skin was ashen, and he stood unnaturally still, although there was a strange restlessness when he would finally make some movement. I wondered if he was ill. I noticed him looking speculatively at me, and at Marie-Grace... and I thought he intended to end the friendship or fire her and send her away.

Little did I know he had something else in mind - namely, that soon Marie-Grace and I would both be vampires. At the time, we were ordinary humans, and we had no idea that vampires were more than the stuff of stories. We could not have guessed from that brief glance of my father's that soon we would become vampires ourselves.

And that is the beginning of our story, with more to follow!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Surprise Gift

Hello, this is Marie-Grace. I had a surprise yesterday - something came for me in the mail! This was startling to me, because I don't know who would be sending me something. Most of the people I know live here. I did receive a package, though, wrapped in plain brown paper and with no return address, but with a New Orleans postmark.

Who do I know in New Orleans? Cécile and I are old enough that the people from "our time" have died, and many of those we've met along the way have also aged and died, or have moved on. I actually can't think of anyone back in our former home who might send me a gift.

I opened it, and I was even more puzzled. On the top was a hat. It's white felt, with a pink ribbon - I like it and it'll look nice with my pink dress - but why would someone mail me a hat?

I dug further into the box, and found two more things. One of them was a pretty white and pink floral fan that will match my dress and hat. Again, I like the fan (although I don't know how often I'll have a need to fan myself here in Northern Canada,) but I didn't understand why I'd received it. I started to think maybe it was just random. A lot of people have pink dresses, so maybe it was just a coincidence that it matched. Maybe I was selected by chance to receive a gift.

Then I found the final item in the box, and I realized it wasn't random at all. The last thing was a necklace... my necklace! I lost it back in New Orleans more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and I thought I'd never see it again. I'm happy to have it back.

I must admit, though, I'm a little taken aback, too. Who would send this to me? How do they know where I live now? Why did they send it? And... do they know why I'm still alive after all this time? It's nice to get a gift, but I admit I'm a little concerned where it will lead.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Showdown

"Walk a little further off the beaten path
And we'll drive on even if we get there last
Our backs against the wall
We will lunge and bite
And we'll rage, rage, rage
against the dying of the light..."
-Great Big Sea, "Here and Now"

Hi, this is Bree. Well... the day came. We had our big confrontation with The Elders. All our planning and worrying came to an end today, because the big bad vampires came for us... and I'm happy to report that we're still standing.

Today was dark, dismal, and pouring freezing rain. We didn't see the sun from morning to night. So of course, it was the perfect day for vampires to strike. Inna had told us that the Elders were back in town, and we had gotten a message with their "terms" for negotiation, which were completely insane. They were at least trying to make it seem like they were being reasonable, although we assumed we were going to end up having to battle it out. Sure enough, yesterday they left another message that they wanted to meet in person for "talks"... and we knew this was it.

The fair folk had promised to help us (although not for free,) so we wanted to make sure they were able to join us. That meant picking a place to meet up for these "talks" outside the city, because the traditional full-blooded fairies rarely venture into town. We chose a park about an hour away; no one uses it this time of year, so that would make sure no one else was caught in the crossfire. At first we considered leaving the younger kids at home so they would be safe... but in the end we decided against it. Home would mean unprotected, and it wouldn't be hard for some of the Elder group to slip back and attack them. We decided we'd have to do this together, or nothing.

Our family got there before they did. I think that was on purpose, so they could make an entrance. We didn't bother with an entrance because we're really not all that impressive-looking. We just waited in a picnic shelter to keep the freezing rain off, and tried not to shiver too visibly in our jackets. We didn't really have much in the way of weapons - just a few stakes we might not get the chance to use. Because of our powers, we are the weapons... and we hoped that our fairy allies would be even better ones.

We'd been waiting about two hours after the proposed arrival time when the Elders finally showed up. (Which Inna described as "typical.") What we hadn't expected was how many of them there would be. They aren't a huge group; our numbers should have been about even. They seemed to have picked up a bunch of hangers-on, though, other vampires who wanted territory or just wanted a good fight.

"That's a lot of vampires," Kirsten said calmly, but her eyes were kind of wide.

She wasn't wrong. Instead of being evenly matched, we were outnumbered three to one. We were all the more desperate for the help of our fairy friends... who were nowhere to be seen. Had they double-crossed us and left us in the lurch? Inna said fairy oaths always hold, but was what they told us really an oath? Was just a statement an actual promise? It was starting to look like no, because we were very, very alone.

The guy who was obviously their main leader was tall and old-looking, with white hair and unnaturally light skin, and of course black clothing, with a cape even. The stereotypical vampire. I mentally nicknamed him 'Dracula.' 

Dracula stepped forward, addressing Inna. "I assume you have considered our terms?"

Inna nodded. "Considered and rejected," she replied, not impolitely but without a hint of deference or fear. 

Drac didn't seem surprised. I guess he assumed that if we'd been that cooperative, we would have buckled with fear long before this. "And your counter-offer?"

"We let you leave," Inna said bravely.

The Dracula-looking guy laughed, like this must be a joke. "And? Your concessions will be...?" He gestured toward me. "This one, perhaps?" I did not like the sound of that, but I managed to stare back at him without averting my eyes. "Or these two?" This time he pointed at Cécile and Marie-Grace. "You scarcely know them, what loss are they to you?" Then a gesture at Clare and Tabitha. "Or these ones, violent offenders who are no better than animals?"

"No concessions," Inna replied firmly. "Our terms are: you can leave."

He paused for a moment, and said, "Or... maybe you, Inna? Would you sacrifice yourself to protect them?"

There was a moment of hesitation, and I realized that Inna was actually possibly going to say yes. She wouldn't give them one of us... but she might give up herself. Which would be totally, totally not okay. Utterly aside from the fact that they would probably kill us all anyway - we're a family. We don't split up. Not even to save ourselves.

I did something I never would have expected. Something even harder than using my powers to rescue Kiwi. I spoke up to one of the Elders. Me, Bree... the timid girl who has trouble even putting her hand up in class. I talked to him - and I told him no.

"We're not giving you Inna!" I told him. "It's like she said. You can go!"

Without taking my eyes off his face, I braced for impact.

An impact happened, but not with me. One of the vampires lunged at me on some imperceptible signal from him - and then suddenly Maia was in between us, taking him on. It was like I was watching in slow motion, unable to move.

After only a second the slow mo ended, and everything started happening really fast. The vampires poured toward us in a sea of dark-coloured clothing (these people do like their stereotypes) and powers started flying from our side. I could see fire and ice appearing... and the more incongruous sight of Felicity having a heartfelt conversation with the now-entranced female vampire who had been about to jump on her. A rock shattered, and the broken chunks clocked a couple of vampires; that was Kirsten's work. Our shapeshifters were in feline form, clawing and biting. Clare cried out as a trail of blood appeared on her shirt, and Evelyn quickly healed her.

At first, I didn't have much to do. I mean, I have super speed, but since I wasn't planning on running away, that wasn't really all that helpful. Then I saw a beefy vampire guy was about to behead Tabitha, and without really thinking it through, I ran across the open space, jumped on his back, and wrapped my arms around his neck. I don't think I hurt him any - I think I mostly just startled him - but he loosened his grip and Tabitha slithered out of his hands, giving me a grateful look.

For the moment, we were holding our own. We weren't winning, though. And it was just a matter of time.

That was when our allies finally showed up. We heard what sounded like a hunting horn, only low and unsettling and mournful. It sent a weird shiver down my spine, and several people actually shuddered. It was like the fight was frozen, abruptly motionless. Then a wave of the fair folk poured down the hill and out of the woods, joining the fight and taking our side.

It was over in just a few minutes, once they arrived. A few of the bad vampires slunk away - ones who had come along for the "fun" of it and had nothing resting on the outcome of the fight. No one followed them. Others ended up staked or beheaded. And I'm not sure how this happened, but a bunch more vampires just sort of... disappeared. I'm pretty sure the fair folk were responsible for it. They were way more effective fighters than we were, so we just backed off so we wouldn't be in the way. Before long, everything was quiet, and only our family and the fair folk remained.

"Do not forget that you owe us," the fairy woman we talked to before reminded me. Then they were gone, too.

Us girls were all kind of shell-shocked. It's not like we've never fought vampires before... but this was a real battle. We were relieved that we won, but we were more sad than gleeful. Hopefully we'll never have to do that again. We wouldn't have done it this time, if we'd had any choice.

Everyone was pretty quiet tonight. All of us were bruised and sore, and a few family members are nursing minor injuries. I think we're all going to have nightmares tonight.

At least we don't have to be afraid of the Elders anymore. We don't have to worry about them coming for us. We don't have to worry about them taking our sisters away. They didn't manage to separate us. We didn't give in, and we stood together. That's something to feel good about, even while hoping we never have to fight another battle like that again.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unreasonable Demands

Hi, this is Kirsten. :-) The past few days have been pretty normal for our family. We've been going to school, of course, and our various after school activities. We celebrated Valentine's Day with a movie night - comedies, not romances! Josefina and Blakeney had an argument because Josefina was wearing a skirt that was too short. You know... normal girl stuff.

We knew it was inevitable that the mean vampires would be back, though. The past few days have been sunny - not really ideal vampire weather, and unusual for February. Today was more normal, though. We woke to grey skies and heavy freezing rain. In a weird way, it seemed like an omen. As it turns out, it kind of was.

When we stumbled into our kitchen in our PJs for breakfast, Inna was there drinking tea, and she calmly told us that the ship that The Elders use had docked in the harbour during the night. 

All of us had expected they would be back. In a way, it's scary, because they'd love to get rid of us for good. In another way, it's a relief, because we don't need to wait for their next move. They've finally made that move. Now that we (in theory) have the fair folk on our side, things don't seem quite so dangerous. Bree and Inna finished up their negotiation just in time.

We found another note in our mailbox as we were leaving for school. This one wasn't from the fae; it was from the enemy vampires. It had a list of demands that would indicate our 'surrender' and prevent them from attacking us. The first demand was that our family clear out of town. (Guess we were right about the territory grab?) The other demand was that we turn over a list of people, reason unspecified but obvious. These are the people they want to eliminate, and giving them up would mean death for them. The list was: Inna, Clare, Tabitha, Bree, Marie-Grace, and Cécile. (We aren't totally sure why they included Bree; Inna thinks they probably found out about her fairy heritage.)

Obviously, this isn't going to happen. We aren't going to agree to that. We aren't going to negotiate any of our family members dying. And... we think they knew that. We think they gave us a list of terms they knew we couldn't agree to, so in the future when they're squabbling with other vampires, they can use us as any example, saying they attempted to be 'reasonable' with us and we wouldn't compromise.

I think this weekend is when this is going to finish once and for all. Hopefully we'll still be here by the end. As far as we know, the Elders know nothing about the involvement of the fairies. We hope it'll be enough to tip the scales in our favour.


Monday, February 13, 2012


"The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls." 
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hi everyone. This is Bree. Sorry it's been so long since we've updated.

It's all Blakeney's fault. She's been busy and blah, and as a result none of us have had much time to blog. ;-)

First of all, we wanted to thank our readers for nominating us in the AGPT Academy Awards Best Writing category! We are really honoured! Whether or not we win, we're grateful to be nominated. :-)

If you want to vote, click here. All the other nominees are excellent bloggers, so you can't go wrong no matter which one you choose.


Now, on to news!

Did I make contact with the fairies about helping us defend against the vampires who call themselves The Elders? And did I get eaten by the fair folk in the process?

The answers are yes and no respectively... although I guess the "not eaten" part is kind of assumed because I'm typing here.

It took us awhile to find them. The first time we met the fairies, it was by accident. Fiona and I stumbled upon a fairy circle and danced with them, and by the time we called the others, they'd disappeared. We didn't know how to find them on purpose. We tried walking through the woods to see if they showed up, and they didn't. (Evelyn wonders if it was too cold and they had gone underground; she may be right.) We tried leaving notes under rocks and tied to trees. The notes usually vanished, but there was no other sign the message had been received, so maybe they just disintegrated in the weather or blew away. Or maybe they did get what we were saying, because two days ago, we found another fairy circle while we were hiking in the woods.

Inna and I went to the centre of the circle and waited. Nothing happened for a long time, so we started telling jokes, and she taught me a fairy song. Hours passed. I thought no one was coming after all. The sun began to set, and in the half-darkness of dusk, the in-between time between day and night, suddenly there were people standing all around us. Some of them looked like regular people, just beautiful and... glowing somehow. Some had skin that was blue or green or purple. Others had horns or hooves or wings.

They looked at us for awhile, and then a woman stepped forward. "Why did you come?" she asked.

Inna explained the situation, and the fairies started to speak to each other in low voices. I could barely hear what they were saying. Then the fairy woman said, "This is none of our concern. Why would we be involved in the affairs of the bloodsuckers?"

Which I thought was a little unfair, since Inna had told me some fairies eat people too. I didn't say that, though. I said, "They're in your territory, and we think they're trying to take it over. They're trying to clear out the local vampires. Maybe it's just out of the goodness of their hearts to protect the humans, but..."

But no one really believed that. We knew better, and so did the fair folk.

"We will discuss the matter," the fairy woman said. "In two days time, we will tell you what, if anything, we will do."

I was going to say more to try to convince them, but Inna nodded and said, "Thank you." I guess this was one of those fair folk etiquette things she was telling me about before. I guess you don't outright argue with them if you want to have any hope of success.

Today, there was a leaf in our mailbox, a broad one from a maple. It was still fresh and green, like spring. On it was written, "We will do you a favour. You will owe us one in exchange." It wasn't signed. It didn't need to be.

Inna seemed grim, but not surprised. I think she expected there would be a cost. Now we're waiting again, to see what the fair folk do about the vampire problem... and what we'll have to do to pay them back.