Vampire Boys Of Summer
74: Masters Revealed
As we ran across the top of the labyrinth, I couldn’t help but wonder what its purpose had been. Was it designed to test us? To imprison us in its maze forever? Or seeing how exhausted I was, perhaps it was just meant to tire us out and wear us down, so that when we reached the place where Angela was being held we wouldn’t be able to rescue anybody, even ourselves.
My vampire friends seemed tireless. Haru, Chi, and Luhan ran without much effort, but I slowed them all down. I was the weak link in this rescue operation. I should have stayed home and left this up to them. But I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing while my best friend, and indeed the entire town of Chelsea Valley, was in danger of being…well, I didn’t know what the Vampire Master of this labyrinth wanted. All I knew was I was wanted as a bride of some sort, and for what purpose I couldn’t discern. Why would a vampire leader want me? He could have anyone. Any girl out there was his for the taking. But Nora Williams was what he wanted. It didn’t make sense. I was a nobody. But maybe, and if the master was Ryo, it was all because Haru had me. Someone didn’t want Haru to be happy…ever. With that way of thinking, it had to be Ryo. But hadn’t Ryo been there when the vampire king called? Wait, the caller never said he was the vampire master. I asked him if he was, but he had answered that he would be my master. This doesn’t necessarily make him the Vampire master. So with that in mind, who could it be, and do I even know them? It was apparent my friends had suspicions of who it was, and they had been looking for him awhile when they came to Chelsea Valley, but what had Haru done that it warranted losing me, the whole town, or even his life?
Lost in my thought I didn’t realize when the roof stopped. Haru had to stop me from running right out onto open air. The structure of the labyrinth hadn’t come to an end though. It was just the roof that had stopped, as if the builders ran out of materials. There was no way across to the other side now, except back down into the labyrinth which was now deathly quiet. Where had the newly created vampire army gone?
We stood there a moment wondering what to do. We could see the way down into the labyrinth now, the twists and turns that the maze made on its way to an exit. But we couldn’t see the exit. If we dropped down there again we would be like lab rats in a researcher’s experiment, having to work our way through the passages in search of a way out.
Haru looked to Chi and Luhan for answers. “What do you want to do,” he asked.
“If we were all alphas…” Chi replied, but Luhan interrupted her.
“…We’re not,” he said, looking at Haru, who we all knew was a Beta. “No more if’s. We have to get to the end of this labyrinth. The hour is growing late, and deeper into the night it gets, the more powerful these western vampires will get.”
“Are you saying,” I asked, “ these guys get stronger than they are now?”
Haru looked at me. “Vampires of the western world were created differently than those of the Far East. We were created for a different purpose, and as such have different strengths and weaknesses. The Christian cross has no effect on us. We do not need to sleep in coffins or graves. Garlic is useless. The main common denominator is a stake through the heart, of course.”
“Enough prattle, “ Luhan said. “We can go into vampire history later. Let’s move.”
And with that he jumped down into the labyrinth. Chi looked at us, and with a shrug of her shoulders, followed him.
Haru looked at me, concern on his face. “I’m sorry. I should never have brought you here. I fear….”
I jumped down into the labyrinth.I hit the hard floor in a roll, in an attempt to break the harshness of my landing. It helped, and thankfully I didn’t break anything, but I felt my leg give a little. When I stood up and went to join the waiting Chi and Luhan, I did so with a new painful limp.
Haru was the last one down, and when he saw me limping, he frowned. “Baby, why did you do that? I can carry you.”
“I can’t expect you to baby me all the time, Haru. I’m tired of being the weakest link. I will earn my place.”
“You don’t need to earn anything, love. It is all freely given to…”
“This is no place, nor time for a lovebird squabble, “ Luhan said, examining the section of maze we were in. One section was closed off with a massive gate, so you could not go back the way we had originally came. The way ahead was open but we didn’t know how far. “Come on,” he added, heading that way.
There wasn’t much choice, so we all moved forward into the maze like Dorothy and her companions on the way to see Oz, the Great and Powerful. At first, the walk was uneventful. My ankle was killing me and I assumed I had sprained it on the jump. I could understand Haru being upset at me, but he hadn’t been mortal for almost a thousand years. He didn’t have to worry too much about human weakness. I felt like I needed to prove myself. If not to my vampire friends, then to myself.
We turned a corridor and were confronted with three separate branches of tunnels. I guess this was what Miss Thomas meant by puzzles to solve. We stood there at this crossroads for a moment. Then that moment grew longer as each of us offered our suggestions of the path to take. Luhan was the last to state his opinion and it surprised me.
“They are all the same. Each one leads to the exit. This is not a puzzle. It is a mere distraction. Holding us up and buying them more time to prepare for us.” He looked back the way we’d come, and then heavenward. There was no roof over the labyrinth now, but the cavern ceiling could be discerned high above us. He sighed. “This is a trap, after all.”
Luhan looked at me and nodded. A grim look was upon his face. Worry resided in his eyes. “Yes. Up until this moment, we have done exactly as they wanted us to. This has been meticulously planned. For what purpose I do not know. But it is a trap nonetheless. They have been testing our strengths and weaknesses. Lucky for us, we haven’t shown much strength to them, so we have that to our advantage.”
“But if it’s Ryo, he already knows that.”
“It’s not Ryo,” Haru replied.
This was both a relief and surprise to hear. My suspicions about him being the master were just the workings of my own confused human mind, trying to see the worst of everyone. I had had all these signs that I thought was evidence of his duplicity in evil. And still, his deviousness and bad boy attitude screamed out to me that there was more to him than met the eye. None of that mattered now however, he was gone.
“Then who is it?”
He hung his head and I could tell he didn’t want to say. He’d been avoiding telling me, not because he didn’t want me to know. He just didn’t want it to be true. The longer he kept his silence, the longer he could avoid the confrontation that was coming. He looked up at me, tears brimming in his eyes.
“I can’t do this. I never wanted this. I just couldn’t follow him. It wasn’t right what he wanted us to do.”
He turned away from me and looked at Luhan. My young friend had an equally anguished look on his face, but without the tears. He was trying to be strong for Haru.
Haru fell to his knees before Luhan, bowing his head so low it was nearly touching the cold cavern floor. “I am so sorry….Master.”
Master? What the hell? Luhan was the master of their clan? Is that why the fake cops tried to take him? To make the rest of my Asian friends powerless? My mind ran backwards in memory at all the little things that pointed to this as the truth. How Ryo had been in fear of his wrath that night in my room, how he had been the one to dispense orders and advice. How he always seemed to be just hanging back and watching.
“Get up, Haru,” Luhan said. “This is not your fault. He made his choice. One thing that was not taken from us when we were changed. Free will. He chose evil deeds over good intentions. After our eventual purpose was served, and we chose rest and contemplation, he chose to become his own God. Now get to your feet, we need you. I need you .” He looked at me. “She needs you.”
Haru looked up first at Luhan, then at me. “I never wanted this day to come,” he said.
I was confused. I had no idea what they were talking about. Some thing from the past, I guessed. Maybe I wasn’t ready for this either. It was a big enough revelation that little Luhan was the master of the Japanese vampire clan that had taken up residence next door. I’d at first thought it was Tomoko, Haru’s so called Uncle. And here lately I was thinking of Chi because of her take charge attitude, but Luhan? He looked like he was twelve and stuck in middle school forever. Nothing at all like I imagined a vampire master to be. And with that being the case, who was the master of the vampire army we were going up against?
Haru looked at me as if he had heard the question spoke aloud. “It’s my dad.”
To Be Continued…
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.