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Chapter 4

Alona sat in the darkened theater, the stage before her the only place giving off illumination.
Five white robed men and women stood lining the stage as Blake left their ranks to stand at a dark podium.
She smiled as she remembered the day her brother had been brought into the rank of elder, making him the youngest in the history of the coven.
She snickered when he had tried to reason that he wasn't elder material but the council wouldn't hear it, saying that his skills in tactics and knowledge had rivaled some of the best and oldest hunters and he deserved the position.
She had sat through so many of his speeches and presentations to help him with his nervousness but after a while the only way to reduce his anxiety was for her to be present at all of his talks.
She waved at him as he took a deep breath and looked up at her.
"We gather this day to bring a new generation into our ranks. You have all worked hard and proven yourself in your training. As you go forth know that this road is rough and rocky and many of you may not make it but know that it is you who make this coven great. It is our given duty to watch over the mortals and protect them from that which would harm them. You all bring gifts to us to help us grow and learn and for this we thank you."
Alona sighed; she had heard this speech so much, she knew every word. Her thoughts instead turned to her band mates behind the curtain.
She had called Max that morning, smiling as he slurred his words from slumber.
"Yeah?"
"Hey Max it's me, sorry to wake you."
He rubbed his eyes, "You're fine 'Lona I've been up for a while," he lied, "I still have to wake the twins for school. What's up?"
She smiled at his husky words, "Oh ok. I was just calling to see if we had any plans for tonight."
He ran his right hand through his dark hair, "Nothing that I know of, why?"
"Well," she scratched the back of her head, "I got us a last minute gig."
"Oh yeah, where?"
"How would you guys like to perform at my graduation?"
He shot up in bed, "Are you serious?"
"Yeah, Blake asked me last night since we lost tonight's show. It's paid."
"Like that matters," he smiled. "We'll finally get to see where our Alona grew up."
She giggled, "Trust me; it isn't as grand as you think."
Max laughed, "What time you need us over?"
"Set up at five to go on by seven?"
"Alright, sounds good."
"Thanks Max. See you later."
+++
Alona smiled as she took her phone from her pocket to check on a text she received.
"I'll watch for you. I'll make sure to get a picture of you. Max."
She giggled as her name was called to the stage.
She made her way to the platform where Blake stood smiling.
He handed her a silver round, palm sized charm strung on a delicate silver chain. A star was etched into the silver with several other etchings of protection.
"Peace and protection to you by the great one," Blake smiled.
Alona bowed, holding the necklace close.
She left the stage and darted to the back of the curtain to find her band mates waiting.
Max followed a short time later, lifting Alona off of her feet and into a crushing hug, "Way to go Alona."
She burst into laughter as her hands grabbed for her dark colored wig, "Max."
Soon after Blake joined them, hugging his sister tightly, "You don't know how proud I am of you."
She returned the hug, "I have you to thank for believing in me."
"I too, am very proud of you," a female voice called.
They turned to find a dark skinned woman standing behind them.
Alona bowed, "Thank you Elder Sheera."
Sheera extended her hand to the young woman, "You have exceeded beyond anything we could have hoped for. You have been through so much and here you stand. I hope you continue to impress us."
"I will do my best to make you all proud," Alona replied, taking her hand.
Blake looked to Max, "You got them?"
The young man smiled, taking his phone from his pocket, "Sent them to you when she left the stage."
Alona blushed, "You two are horrible."
They all began to laugh when Sheera turned to Alona, "Dear why are you wearing a wig?"
Alona touched it, "I wear it to keep my cover and it allows me the freedom to be me."
Sheera smiled, "But it's not you; your hair doesn't make you. You are a fine student and I know you will make an excellent hunter. Be proud."
Mark chimed in as he twirled a drum stick between his fingers, "We've been telling her that for years."
Blake ripped the wig from her head, "No more hiding."
She glared at them but then smiled, "Fine, what's the worst that can happen; they hate me more?"
Sheera smiled, "Forget about them. You have an amazing cover and you know what it's truly like on the outside. You outrank everyone out in those seats, now, go knock them dead."
The band nodded as the curtain went up.
At first silence greeted them as they played, the students not believing that the most popular band was led by their less than desirable classmate.
"Is that Alona?"
"What's she doing?"
"Why is she singing?"
Alona's voice rang out as Max and the others followed, "I've stayed in your shadow. Listening to her silent cries; you've never loved her but the gods of the damned worship her breath..."
The night wore on leaving Alona and the others satisfied to an eruption of cheers.
The band gathered up their equipment and set out for home.
Alona helped unload and after many hugs and thanks, she set out for home.
It wasn't long until she found herself at the docks, the evening fog beginning to roll in over the street, making the shadows that grew over the buildings look like grasping hands in the light of the flickering street lamps.
She pulled in front of the warehouse that was taken from them and found it to be dark and lifeless.
After pulling along the side of the building, she swung her leg over the bike and removed her helmet and walked up to the side entrance to the building, pulling gently on the door.
After it didn't budge she walked further down the sidewalk, pushing gently against the windows until she found a broken one on an upper level.
After a quick scan of the area she took a running start and jumped against a neighboring building and bounced onto the ledge of the broken window.
She again scanned her surroundings as she reached through the shattered pane to unlock the frame.
She slipped through the opening, stepping onto the rotten wood floor.
After closing the window she turned to find the space darker than the outside though she didn't pay it much mind as her eyes quickly adjusted, making the room appear as though it was merely dusk instead of the middle of the night.
Alona had often wondered about this ability along with several others, like her speed and endurance, but her brother never seemed affected and simply told her it was a part of her.
She made her way through the space to the catwalk that overlooked the stage.
She took a moment, listening for any intruders, only hearing the scratch of rats through the far wall.
She judged the distance to the ground below and after a quick crawl under the railing; she jumped the ten feet below with a soft click of her boots.
She walked about the stage, feeling the night’s energy pulsating through her.
She could see where each person stood and the emotions they poured into the space.
She found herself standing front and center, her stomach giving a flutter as she saw the dark haired man flowing with an energy that was filled with passion and longing.
She shook her head before she was overwhelmed with these feelings.
"Do you break into places often," a voice called from the darkness.
She jumped, swearing at herself for being distracted.
She spun on her heels, bringing her arms up in front of her in defense.
The man stepped from a darker area of the stage, smiling, "You're awfully jumpy for someone so confident."
"What are you doing here?"
His smile grew as he walked closer, "I could ask you the same."
She took a step back, "I don't answer to you."
He stopped, his expression growing forlorn, "I wanted to apologize to you. I didn't know this area was yours. I didn't come here to cause trouble."
Alona dropped her hands but continued to stay on guard, "Forget it, Florence is as slimy as they come so it was bound to happen."
"I see that now."
He held out his right hand, "I also apologize for not properly introducing myself. My name is Tristan Dragos Balan."
She glared at him then turned to walk away.
He went after her, "Alona wait."
She stopped, turning on her heels, "How do you know that name?"
"It's what those humans called you."
She stormed up to him, "You stay away from them," she growled.
He smiled, gently taking a handful of silvery hair into his right hand and pressing it to his lips, inhaling its sweet scent, "You're quite amusing when you're angry though one as lovely as you would look much better smiling."
She smacked his hand away with her left hand, following up with a punch directed at his chest with her right.
He continued to smile as he dodged the attack, grabbing the slender wrist of her attacking arm, squeezing it gently.
She retaliated by spinning backwards, aiming the back of her fist for the side of his head.
Though her speed caught him off guard he grabbed that wrist as well, drawing her tightly against his chest as his arms encircled her.
He buried his nose into her right shoulder, kissing the soft skin.
"Now iubi, I come to you in peace and to apologize and you attack me, unprovoked. That isn't very polite."
His voice is husky purr, making her breath catch and her heart race.
She bit her lip, bringing herself out of his spell and brought her right foot up and landing it sharply on the toe of his right foot and as he cried out she brought her head forward then sharply back into his face, seeing stars for a moment as she quickly moved away from him.
His hands went to his face as the red fluid oozed from his damaged nose.
Alona was breathing heavily as her nerves continued to grow edgier from the adrenaline, "No one touches, not even the likes of you."
As she turned away, trying to will her heart to slow, she heard a snicker rise from him.
She turned back, glaring, "What's so funny?"
He stood to his full height, brushing blood from the top of his lip. "I've come across a few hunters in my life but I've never met anyone like you. You're the most exciting thing I've come across since coming back here."
Her glare grew more severe then she turned and walked away.
She heard him call after her, laughter on his husky voice, "I hope to see you again soon Miss Alona."
Her lips curled into a soft smile as her heart continued to race, finding her bike and making her way home.
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January 14
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