I heard Haunter’s cursing while we rolled down. He protected me with his muscled body. When we stopped rolling, he helped me fast to my feet. I was still confused on what was going on, but when I looked up, I saw five ninjas.
“No way!” I said with round eyes.
But yeah, they were truly ninjas with their black outfit, mask, weapons, and all. It was like I was transported back in the past in the fourteenth or fifteenth century in Japan, with all these people present there. I ran when Haunter tugged at my hand. We dodged the star-shaped disks, knives, and darts that were thrown to us. It was like all those shuriken were raining down on us.
One star-shaped disk grazed Haunter’s arm but he didn’t even seem to notice it. The wound healed right away, anyway. My mind though was still trying to process why I didn’t notice those ninjas. I remembered that they mastered the art of hiding and disguising themselves. Those big stones were actually those ninjas! So, I just realized. Damn it!
I couldn’t believe we were caught off guard at a time like this. On the other hand, it could have been my fault for being so engrossed with my wolf lover. I hadn’t even smelled them because of the plants they used to adopt their surroundings and be concealed effectively.
More were coming from all sides. It was like they were merely lying and waiting there for us. We were surrounded, and we stopped in the middle of the trees. I looked up. If we were going to escape, maybe going up was possible. But I never tried to fly with someone in tow. And I couldn’t just leave Haunter here or he’d die! I couldn’t let it happen in any other way.
We moved forward in unison, which made us fight our way through. Three of them assailed Haunter at the same time. His agility awed me when he defeated all of them and another set of ninjas bombarded him. And the result was the same.
I was also attacked at the same time and was able to injure them, which made them back off and another set rushed toward me. The fight went on but they would not just stop. Wave after wave, we fought. They kept on coming pouncing, but I am lucky I am undead and strong, thanks to my centuries old age because I could go on like this for days.
“Saber? Where are you?” I heard Creep’s voice asking me through telepathy when he seemed to hear my distressed thoughts.
“Don’t worry, Creep. We don’t need help right now. I think we can get this through.”
“We’ll be fine, Creep. Just take care of Ji-Yun and Crina for now. Don’t let your guard down. It seems Dena’s minions are still tailing us wherever we go.”
“If you’re just going to tell me where you are…”
“I’m requesting you not to help me, Creep. Okay? Just stop for now. I’m trying to concentrate here.” Then I cut the communication between us. I knew that he would be pissed when we’d see each other again but I didn’t worry about it right now.
Haunter and I continued to fight. Later on, the ninjas swarmed us. We still fought them while trying to escape. Perhaps it was half an hour later when some kind of a whistle sounded in the air. Everyone ceased to fight, including me and Haunter. We looked around us. The ninjas whether injured or not backed off to give us space.
But Haunter and I did not move from our spot. We knew there was something or someone coming. Then there was a kind of fog that appeared dramatically. The air galvanized so forceful that my skin tingled. The atmosphere seemed to thicken even more in this part of the forest. The smell of the trees was mixed with blood and sweat.
Haunter and I moved with our backs facing each other, just in case.
“This is rather an awkward time and place to meet, don’t you think?” I heard a voice that seemed to come out from a cave. The fog miraculously disappeared. Yeah, talk about a dramatic entrance.
I looked at a middle-aged-looking man, well-built, muscled, and attractive with a corporeal-looking face and hair that was as dark as night. He wore a dramatic cape of black color, and his eyes were almost as black as night. If it weren’t for my eyes that could see at night like it was daytime, I wouldn’t be able to recognize him—as I have already heard about how he looked like.
“Orfeo,” I breathed.
There was no question about it. It was him. Contrary to typical tattoo artists, he was truly different in terms of physical appearance that didn’t match well with his hobby. If someone saw him, one would think that he was a demon—totally not an artist at all.
“Saber.” His cold voice seemed to seep through my bones. His smile was chilling but then I wasn’t afraid of him. His Medjay bodyguards were only a step behind him, while the ninjas still surrounded us. Some crouched, and some just stood there—ready to fight any time. Haunter, on the other hand, slowly turned to face this old vamp.
The elder looked at my boyfriend with a curious gaze before shifting his eyes to settle on my beautiful face.
“Quite rare,” he commented quietly. The surrounding was suddenly silent like nobody was breathing at all, even the forest itself.
“What is?” I asked him with a flat tone. I wasn’t sure what he wanted with us—or with me in particular because I was the one who went looking for him earlier today.
“Aside from you having a dog lover, your looking for me and wanting to talk to me is a big surprise. It is quite rare because there’s nothing surprising in my life lately. In fact, for a long time,” he said it in one breath and gave me a toothless smile.
It seemed that he dismissed Haunter’s presence now. I didn’t let my guard down though. After all, he was older than me—even older than my maker if my guess was right.
“I thought Ettore would call me to come to you,” I said, looking at him directly in the eyes.
He gave me that smile once again that could give anyone goosebumps but not me. “There’s no need for you to come when I can come to you whenever or wherever I wish,” he said with a slight movement of his hand.
I stepped back.
He laughed. “My bold Saber. You said you were going to tell me something very important that is only for my ears, correct?”
I took a deep breath. I glanced at Haunter and then my eyes roamed around us toward the Medjays. It seemed that he understood my meaning, so in just one gesture of his hand, the ninjas all disappeared from sight and the Medjays stepped farther away.
Haunter, however, did not make a move. So Orfeo raised an eyebrow in silent question but I shrugged.
“You can’t get him far away from me. He just wants to protect me, you understand,” I explained with a careless shrug.
He slightly tipped his head on one side while his eyes never left my face. “Alright, what do you want to tell me, daughter of Dena?”
I swallowed hard first. I knew that even though I am able to meet him now, it would be different if he’d hear what I had to say.
“I have separated from her, so you cannot call me her daughter anymore, alright?” I said it like I was offended.
He smiled coldly again. “Fine,” he paused. But I still didn’t speak. I was still weighing on how to tell him the news. “So? What is it that you want to tell me? You mentioned it’s a matter of life and death.”
I looked at his dark eyes that slowly turned into red in anticipation.
“I’m not quite sure if I can directly tell you this.”
“Tell me!” he commanded. His lips weren’t smiling now.
“Okay! Dena is planning to assassinate the Dark Empress!” Both Haunter and Orfeo stared at me. Haunter’s eyes were of surprise and confusion, while Orfeo’s were kind of excited.
I gulped again. Orfeo still didn’t speak. It was a few moments later that he laughed out loud that seemed to ring all over the silent place.
“This is fascinating!” He clapped his hands quietly.
‘Is he crazy?’ I thought depressingly. “Aren’t you going to do anything about it?” I asked him worriedly.
“Why do you think I ordered the ambush before I decided to talk to you, Saber?” he questioned me instead. He almost rolled his eyes.
“Because you’re such an old asshole?” Haunter chimed in before I could speak.
That made me laugh when Orfeo’s facial expression changed as he dangerously glared at Haunter. But he smiled chillingly afterward. Nevertheless, that didn’t change Haunter’s way of holding his ground. He still stood there confidently, glaring back at the old vampire. He didn’t care in spite of the knowledge that we were facing a dangerous elder.
“Well?” Orfeo shifted his glare at me.
I stopped laughing. “Well, I think the same,” I said honestly.
He laughed then. It was kind of unexpected, really. “I like you, two. You’re both brutally honest to me.” Then he stopped to seriously glare at us again. “Have you realized that what you’ve just told me about the assassination of the Dark Empress is a very serious crime? Even just by mentioning it?”
I took a deep breath. “I know. But it’s a crazy law, don’t you think?”
It was enforced as a way so that nobody could easily plot an assassination against the Dark Empress. It was a law that existed ever since the first assassination attempt of the preceding Dark Empress a thousand years ago. Yes, this was my second Dark Empress that I’ve seen ruling since I was turned into a vampire. The preceding one died because of a successful assassination, which put the current Dark Empress in place. There were some significant changes made then but never that law. Now, if I would think about it carefully, it was obvious who plotted the assassination.
“Well, what you and I think doesn’t matter here, Saber. If anyone knows or hears what you have just told me, you can be executed without a trial!” he stated with a low but urgent voice. It was like he was scolding me.
“You should know that I did gamble here just to pass on the word to the Dark Empress, so I can protect her from Dena. I know that she trusts my maker as one of those ancient ones that supported and put her on the throne. Right?” I told him clearly what was on my mind.
He smiled coldly. His eyes turned to red once again. “Saber, just so you know, I let those ninjas attack you in the first place just for my entertainment.”
I snorted. “And you think I’m afraid of your little unturned ninjas?”
He chuckled, his fangs stood out then. “I would hate to see you gone, Saber. You’re a very rare kind,” he asserted and started to retreat. “I will see you next time. I say good luck to your—let’s say—endeavors.” Then he gave out his chilling laugh.
The fog appeared again, which concealed his exit together with the Medjays. The ninjas were nowhere to be seen and never came back. I let out a sigh and Haunter held my hand tightly.
“That was quite an interestings way to spend my birthday with you,” he remarked.
I looked up at him with apologetic eyes. “I’m sorry, Haunter. I dragged you into this mess, which I am not sure I am able to get away from.” I shook my head and looked at my feet.
He held my chin and held my gaze. I felt like I was drowning in his eyes again. It was quite an intoxicating experience for me, which happened again and again, whenever he looked at me intensely.
“You don’t need to say sorry. It’s not your fault. And I will do everything in my power to get you out of this mess. I will protect you, Saber,” he gently and genuinely promised.
I was speechless for a few moments before I smiled up at him. I cupped his face and gave him a lingering kiss on the lips.
“I love you, wolf,” I told him and he took me into his arms tightly.
He kissed the crown of my head and said, “I love you, too, vamp. Very much! I’m not quite sure what to do if you’re not with me.”
I smiled and embraced him, too. His heart was pumping strong and steady when I leaned my face on his muscled chest.
“You were in danger and you didn’t let me help you!” Creep in his male form confronted me when I was back in our hotel room.
Haunter’s pack was in a nearby hotel to be less conspicuous, and he came with me to occupy the room next to ours. It was apparent that he wouldn’t want to be away from me, given the encounter that just happened earlier. In fact, he was with me when I entered the suite that I shared with Creep and the others.
“Let’s not talk about that anymore, okay? I was able to talk to Orfeo in person,” I informed him, which surprised him.
On the other hand, Crina and Ji-Yun were quiet in a corner, listening to us.
“And?” Creep asked, fishing out some more details.
So, I did tell him what happened. His expression changed every time. I knew that his mind was going somewhere to analyze the situation. Yes, my sigbin familiar was intelligent—more than other familiars around. He was even more intelligent compared to an average person—not to mention that he was also powerful. I couldn’t ask for more when it comes to Creep. He had been a perfect companion until now.
“This is dangerous,” he said at last. He rested one hand under his chin.
“What do you mean dangerous?” Ji-Yun asked, concerned. “Wouldn’t it be good that one of The Six Elders is already notified about the danger that the Dark Empress is about to face? She’d know, right? Then, she can protect herself.”
I smiled unenthusiastically at Ji-Yun. Then I shook my head. Of course, she didn’t know much about the politics in the Dark World. She was new to our world.
“Creep means that it would be dangerous for me, too—not only for the Dark Empress.” I explained to her about the law regarding the mere mention of assassinating the Dark Empress.
“That’s weird. It should be taken as a warning, not treason. If I were the Dark Empress, I would make that law void,” she commented but with conviction.
I smiled at her.
“There are other laws in the Dark World that even I don’t understand in my hundred years as a ghoul,” Crina chimed in. Her eyes were restless, just like her mind at the moment, trying to analyze the situation.
“The laws are naturally made for order. Without laws, everything would be in chaos, you understand?” I told the two girls.
“Yeah, but nonsense and unreasonable laws?” Ji-Yun pointed out.
“Well, it’s beyond our power. We can’t do anything about it. Only the Dark Empress can change the laws.” I shrugged and crossed my arms.
I took note of something weird passed on Haunter’s face but was gone fast. I didn’t know if it was just my imagination. But maybe it was. There was something about him that was also non-discernible.
“If there’s a change of Dark Empress, I think change is inevitable,” he said thoughtfully while looking at my face intently.
I raised an eyebrow. “There will be no new Dark Empress, alright? I’m going to protect her. But first, I have to convince her that she’s in danger and that Dena’s after her life and position. So, I need to be close to her to be able to protect her,” I uttered while thinking of ways on how to convince the Dark Empress and on how to protect her.
My reverie was disturbed when the phone rang and Ji-Yun picked it up immediately as she was the nearest one beside the nightstand table. After a short while, she put it down and looked at me.
“Someone’s looking for you, saying that she’s waiting in the lobby.”