"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.