Chapter 5: Secrets
Seven days had passed since Jayde’s escape from the three assassins. She spied on Cameron Sangre’s house on the edge of town. Her years living on the street had honed her skills blending in and observing from afar. Despite this, both doctor Sangre and his nurse Marie periodically looked out and waved at her.
Jayde had noticed the faint blue nimbus that had surrounded Dr. Sangre when he healed the fat man one week prior. She had seen such a glow before and knew it meant magic. After a week of surveillance, even after hearing the new rumors about a vampire in town, Jayde snuck onto the roof of Dr. Sangre’s clinic and waited.
Surviving on the streets of Haynis required a decent level of cunning, theft, and ingenuity. There was a time when Jayde wanted nothing else but to become the best thief in town, swiping extra coins from rich merchants. Her goals changed four years ago, on Jayde’s tenth birthday.
Jayde woke early that day four years ago, and hid in brush alongside the main road. Some merchants had stopped in Haynis on their way north. She had patiently shadowed them, waiting to snatch any valuable item if the opportunity arose. Unfortunately, all had remained vigilant. Then she saw a small silver statue fall from a saddlebag. There were three horses, all of which continued to slowly walk away. It practically was not even stealing, it would be the easiest job she had ever done, but she saw more horses coming up the road so Jayde had to act quickly.
Jayde sprung from the bush and sprinted to the statue. The motion caught the eyes of one of the horses which spun around. Jayde heard shouting, but by now she was committed.
She grabbed the statue and ran. After a dozen steps pain blazed through her legs as she collapsed to the ground. Jayde looked up and found herself surrounded by three horses and three angry, smirking men. One of the men had used a whip to snare her legs.
“We killed the last whelp that tried to steal from us,” said the man.
Another man took out a whip which he snapped down, circling her wrist and wrenched her arm. He sneered at Jayde, lifting her next to his horse.
“I don’t know, I’m feeling merciful. What say we just take back what’s ours and just cut off the loose ends and call it even,” he said, pulling out a wicked foot-long blade.
“Enough!” came a voice from a nearby inn. An ancient man dressed in a simple gray robe ambled over.
“This doesn’t concern you, traveler,” said one horseman.
“Accosting children is always my concern. Release her,” he said.
The man holding the whip paused for a second, then swung his blade toward Jayde’s arm. She braced for the inevitable.
Jayde opened her eyes and saw that all three men had a blue light surrounding them, and all three remained perfectly motionless. Their eyes were open, they were awake, but motionless.
The gray-robed man slowly walked to Jayde’s side and unwrapped the leather whip. He permeated the same bluish light that bound the men.
“You were lucky today, child. You have potential, quite a bit actually. Perhaps you should pursue something other than petty thievery, eh?” said the man.
“If I could do magic like that, maybe I would,” Jayde said.
“Child, with your potential, you could do much more. Now get out of here before the spell wears off and I have to save you a second time.”
Jayde ran. From that time on, Jayde took every opportunity to learn whatever she could about magic. Haynis offered little opportunity for magical education. Jayde stole the only book that she could find on the topic, but she craved more.
Months later, a trained fool came and spent a week at the local inn doing magic tricks for coppers. His flowing, multi-colored robes dazzled in the torch light. Jayde attached herself to his side, trying to glean information, but he only had sleight of hand and no true magic.
When a witch came into Haynis to sell magical potions and spells, Jayde tailed her relentlessly, until the witch tired of her incessant questioning. Her weathered face suddenly turned to Jayde, her eyes gleaming with crafty intelligence, “Bother me again, and you’ll spend the rest of the day as a hermit crab.”
Jayde nodded, her eyes wide, searching for words. She managed to clear her throat, and even with her trepidation, asked, “Just out of curiosity, how would you do that?”
Thus, four years later, when Haynis’ doctor magically healed a man, she could have screamed. Cameron Sangre had amazing power, though obviously he wanted to keep it hidden, otherwise Jayde was sure she would have found out years ago. Her only concern was the rumors that had been circulating around town, but she was about to find out about those right now.
She waited on the roof.
An hour later, Cameron Sangre climbed out the trapdoor, looking over the darkness of the city before it transformed into the mayhem of a bustling town. He took a slow, deep breath.
“Hello, Jayde. What can I do for you?” he asked, never even looking in her direction.
“You’re a vampire,” she said.
Cameron remained silent.
“And you can do magic. And you saved my life, didn’t you?”
“Yes. And?” he took a drag from his flask.
“That’s blood, isn’t it?”
Jayde walked around the edge of the rooftop. “I remember you drinking from that flask. You were sitting right where you are now and you watched everything. But what I can’t figure out is why.”
“Why did you do it? What was the point? Why save me? Why did you even care what happened to me? You had nothing to gain. You had no idea who I was or why I was being chased,” she said.
“Didn’t I?” he answered.
“No! No answering questions with questions. Just answer me: Why did you do it?” she asked.”
Cameron drank again from his flask. “Jayde, you think you came to my clinic out of sheer luck and desperation, but I’ve been following you much longer than you’ve been following me. I know you grew up on the street after living in the orphanage for the first seven years of your life. You steal on occasion, but you have impeccable morals considering your upbringing. You don’t know anything about your parents and that bothers you, yet you have an uncanny knack for making friends with the right people.”
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“Jayde, people don’t tend to stick around too long when they find out I’m a vampire. The only real friend I have in Tenland is my nurse, Marie. Usually when people find out the truth, they disappear.”
“Why? I knew you were a good guy after meeting you,” said Jayde.
“Well, I did just save your hide. And not everyone can tell that much about someone after a first meeting. Most people judge after discovering my little secret.”
“But, but, but you’re a vampire! Couldn’t you just, you know.” She made a hissing noise, pulling her fake cape around herself.
“What do you know about vampires, Jayde?”
“Not much, I guess.”
“And yet you came, alone, to the rooftop to confront one? One that you knew could possibly make you disappear? You came in the middle of the night, all alone, to confront a creature you knew little about? And what, exactly, did you hope to accomplish?”
“All I wanted to know is why you saved me in the first place, and maybe to learn a little about magic!” she shouted.
Cameron looked over the fog in the city, but he did not answer.
“Jayde, you are either very brave, or very stupid.”
“I’m curious and a thief, that’s all.”
“Marie believes those three men could have been after you instead of me. Six years ago, an injured Seer came into the clinic. Instead of paying for her treatment with money, she offered to give us insight into the future”.
Jayde looked at Cameron suspiciously.
“Most Seers are sham artists that just tell you what you want to hear and expect a silver for the effort. This Seer, however, was authentic. She told us to stay here. She told me about a girl that would come who would have potential. Marie thinks that is you.”
“Potential for what?” Jayde asked.
“Potential to be somebody different. Someone who could make a difference. Someone who could maybe stop the Dark—”
“And possibly have magic?” Jayde interrupted.
“Well, in the past nearly all of them had magic. Powerful magic in fact,” Cameron said.
“Who? Who did?” And what did the Seer say would happen after that?”
“I asked the Seer the same question. She never told us what to do, just to be aware. The Seer said this person could change the world. That happened almost five years ago. So Marie and I have been watching, but we wondered the same thing: What now? When I saw you running toward me on the rooftop being chased by three men, I intervened. Was this the event the Seer spoke about? Who knows? Now I have a question for you. You knew I was a vampire before you came up here. How did you know?”
“The whole town knows,” she said matter of fact.
“What? How?” Cameron asked with a hint of anger.
“Ever since that royal fat guy came to town two weeks ago, people started talking. I don’t know how these things get started. People were saying there was a vampire in the town. Then I started thinking sometimes these things have a hint of truth to them. I starting thinking, and watching, and then guessed just maybe it was you. I told a few friends about it, but nobody believed me.”
“I suppose it’s time Marie and I packed for our move,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Jayde, I’ve been through this before. It always ends the same. A mob with pitchforks and torches comes and demands I leave town. I’m just a scary monster that they want to get rid of before I can corrupt them with my presence. It’s really too bad. I liked this town. I liked most of my neighbors. How long ago did you tell those friends about me?” he asked.
“Yesterday morning,” Jayde said.
“Hmm, I would have expected them to be here by now.”
“The angry mob,” he said. “Well, nice chatting with you, and I apologize for being rude, but I do want to try to salvage the majority of my medical supplies, so I really have to start packing before they get here. Maybe saving your life was what the Seer wanted Marie and I to do. Maybe you’re destined to be a Seer one day, who knows.
“Thank you for the roundabout warning, and best of luck with whatever it is you decide to do with your life. For what it’s worth, you have a brilliant mind if you would just apply it to something other than stealing, I’m sure you would go quite far. Oh, and feel free to use the trap door to get down, but I would try not to be seen with me. Who knows what people might think?”
“I don’t care what people might think!” Jayde yelled. The passion in her voice halted Cameron as he pulled open the trap door. “It’s not fair if you have to leave! You’re the first person, or, vampire, or whatever that has ever taken the time to talk to me. Then you tell me I might actually amount to something, or be special. And then you say you’re going to just go?”
“Life’s not fair. I don’t make the rules. Why does everyone automatically hate vampires? I don’t know, but it seems to be a fact. You want some advice? Try not to think like everyone else and judge from your experience, not rumors. Can you do that?” he asked.
Jayde sniffed. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Cameron disappeared through the opening and woke up Marie. As Jayde came down the ladder and back into the clinic, she heard quite a racket. Marie was running around packing vials like a madwoman.
“You have to leave before anyone sees you here. Best of luck to you, I’m sorry we couldn’t get to know you better. Here, take this, it brought a smile to your face, and you need more smiles in your life.” Marie handed over the large canister of hot chocolate. Jayde did not know what it was worth, but she would never sell it. No one gave her anything without expecting something in return. Actually, now that she thought about it, this was the second time Marie had done that.
Jayde looked at her blankly. “Thanks.”
“You really need to go now, Jayde, before anyone sees you here. People will come, maybe not tonight, but soon, and you can’t be associated with us,” she said.
“I don’t care what other people think.”
“Sorry about this,” said Marie.
“Sorry about what?”
In response Marie lightly pushed both hands against Jayde’s chest. Jayde felt a coldness flow into her. For some reason, she felt terrified. She had to get out of their clinic right away.
Jayde ran down the empty street in the predawn darkness. The cold feeling diminished slowly and she again felt normal. After a few blocks, she realized Marie had used magic on her. They both could do magic! And, for some reason, they were kind to her. Who were these people?