ROSE AND HER LITTLE BROTHER GRIM

PROLOGUE

I. The Plains of Bostome

II. The Boy Knight

III. The Trouble with Vamps

IV. Making Camp and Making Friends…Sort Of

V. Breakfast

VI. A Slight Side Trip

VII. Another Long Walk

VIII. Fellwood Forest

IX. Signs of Life

X. Rose to the Rescue

XI. Out of the Frying Pan...

XII. ...and Into the Fire

XIII. Lillian Allgood

XIV. Bedtime Stories

XV. Revealed

XVI. Escape

XVII. Good vs. Evil

XVIII. The Light at the End of the Tunnel

EPILOGUE

It's been hard since Mom and Dad left us.

Rose stood on the edge of the plateau looking at the valley before her. The same valley she and her brother had to travel across alone. Her long black hair blew in the light warm breeze. She closed her eyes and relished the feeling of bittersweet relaxation that breeze brought. Bittersweet for she knew that real relaxation wouldn't come to her for a long, long time.

Ever since their parents had been killed it had been Rose and Grim's job to finish the business of delivering a box to a royal contact in the town of Bermshire. What was in the box Rose didn't know; all she knew was that her mother and father died protecting it so whatever was in the box Rose would make sure the box made it to its destination.

Rose looked over her shoulder at her brother. He looked so peaceful sleeping against a boulder, but they had to be on their way. "Grim," she said. "Wake up. We have to go."

Grim's strangely pale eyes blinked open and he stretched with a long lazy yawn. He stood up, the sleeves of the oversized shirts he wore (his father's blue thermal shirt and white tee shirt over that) falling and completely engulfing his hands, and swiped his hair, the same black as Rose's, out of his eyes. "Where are we going?" he asked as he took a place at her side.

Rose looked out over the valley. "Across there."

Grim frowned and slouched over. "I don't wanna go."

I. The Plains of Bostome

Rose and Grim found a path leading down from the plateau and began their trek across the Plains of Bostome, a wide stretch of grasslands that connected the Western Kingdom with the Eastern Kingdom. "How much farther?" Grim asked halfway down.

"Don't start now, Grim," Rose replied.

"But we've already walked so far."

"And we're going to walk even farther. We have a mission to complete."

"But I'm tired."

"You just slept up there," Rose pointed back up to the top of the plateau.

"Against a rock! I couldn't sleep."

"Grim, I'm not going to put up with this whining. We have to take that box to Bermshire. We have to do it for Mom and Dad." Grim grumbled something under his breath. "What was that?" Rose demanded.

"Nothing…" Grim mumbled.

"You're right nothing," Rose said. Their parents' deaths had been especially hard for Rose. She was forced to grow from a thirteen-year-old child into a responsible adult in only a moment. She tried her best to take care of Grim, but he pushed her patience quite often and quite often she reacted to him as any thirteen-year-old would. It was these moments she had to step back and remind herself that she was the adult now and must act as one. "Look, we'll rest for awhile when we reach the bottom, okay?"

"Fine," Grim mumbled again. "Where is the box anyway?"

"In my backpack," Rose poked a thumb at the pouch on her back hanging below her father's broadsword.

"Can I carry it sometime?"

"It's safer with me."

"Come on, Rose." There was that whining tone again. "You never let me do anything. You won't let me carry the box or Dad's sword or nothing."

"That's because Dad's sword is too heavy for you and he never taught you how to use it like he did me. So I keep the sword and because of that I also keep the box because it's safer with me."

"Why don't you teach me then?"

Rose felt a pang of...what? She couldn't put her finger on what it was, but Grim's request made Rose want to cry. She shook it off though. She had to be strong for her brother. "I told you, it's too heavy."

"So. I can get stronger." It sometimes seemed like Grim's favorite past time was arguing. "I'll never be able to carry it if you won't let me try." Then it hit her why what Grim said had touched her so. It was the proverbial nail-in-the-coffin. It was the end of their childhood and marked that their Dad was really gone. It marked Grim putting away his toys and his life as a nine-year-old boy and taking up the sword and the life of a knight. The life of his father who would never be able to teach his only son how to live a life as such. A tear welled up in Rose's eye. She turned away before Grim saw.

"Maybe later," she said. "We have to keep going now though."

And so they walked on finally reaching the bottom of the hill where they rested. They ate a small snack, Grim whined about the box, and soon they were on their way again. "How much farther?" Grim whined.

"A lot," Rose replied. "And if you ask one more time I swear I'll wring your neck."

"Why couldn't we get a cycle or something back in Howland?"

"We didn't have time or money. Just be quiet and keep walking."

And so they walked on, took another break in an hour, and walked some more. It had been about another hour when Rose noticed something. "Look," she said, pointing at the ground a few yards ahead of them.

"What is it?" Grim grumbled. At the moment he wasn't interested in anything Rose saw. Until he saw that Rose was pointing at what appeared to be tracks. A ride! he thought. They rushed forward and knelt down. "Tracks!" Sure enough, cutting through the grassy valley was a pair of tire tracks. "Maybe we should follow them."

"I don't know." Rose examined the tracks for several seconds. "They do look fresh, but…"

"But? Do you think they're goblin tracks?" Their father had told them that goblins did roam the Plains of Bostome and they sometimes traveled in moto-carts. It was a rare occasion, but it happened nonetheless.

"I don't think they are," Rose said. "I think it would be a waste of time to follow them though. Bermshire is just across these plains and we want to get as far as we can before it gets too late into the night."

Neither child noticed a small patch of ground behind them open up on hidden hinges and the pair of glowing yellow eyes watching them from the trap door.

"But whoever made these track may be close and they could give us a ride to Bermshire," Grim said. Rose had just opened her mouth to argue with him when the trap door behind them flung open and a vamp burst out and grabbed Grim. "AAAA!!! HELP ME! LET ME GO!" Grim shouted and kicked. The vamp held tight and laughed devilishly. The devilish laugh matched the vamp's devilish appearance with their gray skin, yellow eyes, large bat-like ears and fangs, and their sharp claws.

Rose didn't panic. "Let him go," Rose said lowly as she drew the sword from her back. Her father would have been proud of her at that moment. Instead of panicking and freaking out like the child she was she kept a calm and cool composure.

"That's an awful big sword for such an awful little girl," the vamp growled.

"All the better to cut you with my pretty," Rose taunted. Vamp's hated being taunted. The creature tossed Grim aside and lunged at Rose with a cry of fury. Rose lunged back and with a quick swipe cut the vamp's right arm off just above the elbow. The vamp crumpled to its knees and stared at its stub of an arm. It took a couple seconds for its shock to wear off and that's when the vamp let out a horrible, painful howl. "If you want to keep your other limbs I would advise running," Rose said.

"You'll pay for this child!" the vamp threatened before hightailing it out of there.

"Are you okay?" Rose asked her brother as she replaced the sword to her back.

"I could've handled him." Grim wiped dirt off his sleeves.

"Sure you could've." Rose looked around at the surrounding landscape. Flat and grassy as far as the eye could see. She sighed. "Vamps tend to travel in packs. Maybe it would be wise to follow these tracks for awhile. It might be safer to be with other people."

"Okay." Rose was amazed, Grim didn't appear to be at all shaken up by his encounter. "So which way do we go?"

"That way." Rose pointed out to their right. "We'll follow them east. We might not find the vehicle that left these tracks, but we'll at least have some more daylight."