“Don’t feel so bad, Jane” Rune comforted me, “I felt Reginal being returned to the demon realm, I’ll be able to summon him again in a few weeks.”
I wiped the tears that had formed on my face. It bothered me a little bit that Rune so casually used Reginal. I know the creature was on some kind of punishment period, but the way he used him just irritated me. It felt like the same way Ryan was used by everyone. Intelligent beings shouldn’t be used like toys. They were people… or hell bunnies, either way, they should be treated with respect.
“On the bright side,” Allan straightened his glasses, “Apparently, demonic bunnies score more points. It moved you to second place.”
“Why do they have criteria for demonic bunnies?” Andrew frowned.
“It’s a long story,” Katrina explained, “Back before our clan crossed the Atlantic Ocean we were settled in a place called Caerbannog. It’s kind of hard to explain.”
Andrew shrugged. “Well, either way, I’m sure Reginal will be glad he was able to help.”
I gave Andrew a reassuring smile, but I didn’t really feel any better. Reginal’s death would haunt me for the rest of my life, or until Reginal was summoned again in two weeks, whichever came first. Given the circumstances, I couldn’t be so certain.
“Has there been any progress towards exonerating Daniel?” I attempted to change the subject.
Stephan sighed, “The elder has been making it very difficult. When everyone is busy watching the obstacle course, I’m hoping to take the distraction to my advantage.”
“Perhaps then,” Allan interrupted, “That should be the next topic to discuss. Ryan and I have been putting something together to shift the event in your favor.”
“What do you have in mind?” I asked.
Allan glanced over at Ryan, who nodded and pulled a small box out and handed it to me. I opened the box and looked in. I raised an eyebrow, looking at the two boys.
Allan pushed his glasses back up on his nose, “Not exactly. They are computers. I got the idea after observing the architecture around Ryan’s synthetic optic nerve cortex.”
Ryan responded to my blank stare, “He scanned my eyes.”
“I was able to develop these. They create a signaling pathway in your retina, which allows for information to be translated and transferred into the brain more quickly and efficiently, discarding useless information and amplifying pertinent data.”
I turned back to Ryan, he leaned forward. “They make you see better.”
“Not just better,’ Allan scoffed, “Faster. You will be able to perceive visual data faster, and thus be able to respond to it quicker. It will increase your reaction time.”
“That’s all fine,” Andrew spoke up, “However, what good is being able to react faster if her body is still slow? No offense.”
I grimaced, but Andrew was right. There was no use being able to think faster if I couldn’t move faster.
“That’s where I come in,” Victor spoke up, “Allan was able to come up with a couple of drug delivery tips for my venom. Here is mark II.”
Victor handed me a familiar vile and I glanced down at it. It was more of his venom. In some ways, I felt better now that I had this in my hands. I felt more powerful. Maybe I was a drug addict just waiting to happen.
“It sacrifices potency for longevity.” Victor explained, “That is to say you won’t be as powerful or as fast as the previous stuff, but it lasts a lot longer. Maybe as long as ten minutes, although it’s never been tested before.”
I squeezed the bottle in my hand before slipping it into my pocket, “Thanks, guys, I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
“We’re not done helping you yet,” Mr. Xavier spoke up, “That puts you on the same level as the other werewolves. If we want you to have an edge, we’ll need a few more tricks.”
“What tricks?” I asked.
“In case you didn’t notice, I’m a ghost.”
“Not just a ghost, I’m a poltergeist.”
“So, maybe a few of your obstacles get pushed out the way by the wind. Maybe a few of your competitor’s trip at a few opportune times. Anything can happen in an obstacle race.”
I gave Mr. Xavier a smile, “You’re going to help me like that, for Daniel’s sake?”
“I’d do anything to keep you safe, don’t worry, I’ll be your personal guardian angel,” Xavier chuckled as Andrew rolled his eyes.
“That will be perfect, I’m so happy I could kiss you!”
Xavier put on a grin like a cat, “Well, there is nothing stopping you.”
I frowned turning to him, “That’s where you’re wrong. There are… like… so many things stopping me. I could honestly write a book entitled ‘Not going to happen’ on the subject, but I might be infringing on Samantha’s copyrights. Instead, I’m just going to head to the starting line.”
I stood up, heading for the exit of the tent. The boys in the tent laughed as Mr. Xavier’s expression turned a bit sour. They might be a bit relaxed, but I was incredibly terrified. I almost felt like hyperventilating. This was scarier than the time Samantha dragged me into the back of some strange guys van so we could eat hamburgers with him and his dog. I don’t know where they even got the meat from. The guy had mentioned he was a ghost hunter or something. I wondered what he’d make of Mr. Xavier.
Most of the werewolves were already lining up, and I almost felt sheepish being one of the last people at the line. I took one of the last available spaces to line up and grimaced when I realized it was right next to the cloaked person that had attacked me earlier. Probably the last person I’d want to be stuck next to.
“Getting third place was just luck,” The voice shot from the hood of the cloaked person, “Give up and you won’t be hurt.”
I glared back, “It was second, and I won’t give up on a friend.”
“Just a friend,” the voice in the hood almost whispered.
I had almost forgotten that I was still pretending to be Daniel’s mate, “No… a boyfriend.”
The voice tsk’d in annoyance before turning away, glazing over the obstacle course in front of us. My eyes followed the cloaked person’s and then bulged at the sight. The obstacle course was something you might see on some kind of ridiculous cartoon. Massive spiked bars swung dangerously in front of us. There were rope swings, water traps, rolling boulders, and pitfalls. Many of the jumps I knew I couldn’t possibly make as a human.
I brought the bottle of vampire venom out, holding it tightly in my hand and hoping it’d be enough. The final countdown started. Twenty seconds, I snapped open the top of the bottle. Ten seconds, I brought it up to my lips and drank the contents, tossing the bottle aside. Five seconds, energy began to flow into me. I felt a familiar strength. I really could do this.
The voice of the cloaked person next to me came crashing home. It wasn’t a man’s voice at all. It was Treena’s voice.