1

Aleithea had always loved spending time with Alex, her sister. It was never a question; her sister was her best friend. Someone she talked to every day. The only one in the orphanage center that she was close with, and related to. Her mother died when they were both at a young age; Alex eight and Aleithea six. Her father completely abandoned the two girls, leaving them to an orphanage.

They looked a lot alike; Aleithea and her sister. They both had wavy brown hair, down past their shoulders. They had their mother's nose. That's what Aleithea's father always said.

The question of why he left them still kept Aleithea awake at night. What had she and her sister done that was so wrong for him to abandon them? Let them suffer as prisoners in this torturous orphanage?

The conditions where brutal. The chef was inexperienced, often feeding the children raw meats and overcooked vegetables. It was lucky if they had a whole serving-full plate of food. There was one chef, Addeline, who was old and often reminded the kids of an elephant, with her dull gray outfit, and her silvery curly hair. There were at least two dozen kids in this home. The girls shared rooms with the guys, who often played jokes and tricks on them. They would drag out the younger ones' beds into the middle of the hallway, or steal their clothes when they were in the shower. Aleithea was always on alert with the boys; none were nice, and none were to be trusted.

Most of the days, Aleithea and Alex would hide out in the bathrooms, sitting in an empty bathtub and talking. Everyone else would enjoy the air outside for 'recess' which was never at all enjoyable. Not this time of year, when it was winter. The two girls talked about everything; a secret escape to this horrible orphanage. How they would leave New Hampshire, and travel west to New York. They would get jobs, and work as a family to make money and have a house of their own. "One day, Al." Alex would say as she would stroke back Aleithea's hair.

"When, Alex?" she would question, each day they'd talk about that.

"As soon as you're ready." She had always responded. But Aleithea never understood what she meant by that. Ready for what?

So here sat Aleithea, sitting in the tub, in her scrappy dull blue dress, that was inches short above her toes, from being worn out and grown out of. Her flats that were ragged and slightly falling apart would make the problem with the dress less noticeable, but it was still there. Since she and Alex slept in different bedrooms, they met in the same tub each day five minutes before noon. The house seemed unusually loud this morning. More screams from the boys, more yelling from the guardians. Aleithea brushed away the suspicion; the house was always loud, and maybe, for the first time today, it was snowing. It could be possible.

Aleithea waited and waited, watching the clock move each second at a time. Alex was nowhere to be found. Aleithea climbed out of the tub, and made her way across the room to the window. She pulled aside the torn curtain, and looked down upon the cloudy outside. The usual events were seen; young boys being chased by town guards for stealing a few apples. Girls in groups gossiping, gaping over the boys at the market. Nothing that seemed unusual. But Alex wouldn't disappear like this for nothing. She was educated enough to know when Aleithea would think something has gone wrong.

Aleithea turned away from the bathroom, only passing by the mirror to see her reflection. Her big round eyes were full of worry; her skin pale as ice. Her arms were skinny, mostly from not having enough to eat. But Aleithea had much more to worry about than a silly reflection in the mirror.

She walked down the stairs, down the creaky, scratched floors, and turned down to the dining room. Young boys and girls ran past her, bumping against her hips, setting her stumbling back. They were crying hysterically, and they took the stairs two at a time. Aleithea turned the corner and gasped in horror. One of the guardians, Elaine, she thought, was sprawled out on the floor, a pool of blood surrounding her. A few girls were crying, trying to call for the woman. Aleithea was sure they knew it was hopeless; Elaine was dead.

Aleithea rushed to the next room, passing boys who looked terrified, backing out of the room. Aleithea tried calling for her sister, yelling her name repeatedly. When she walked into the living room, two boys were dead, lying on the ground. They were twelve, Aleithea remembered, and sixteen, her age. Now Aleithea was desperate.

She ran up a rotting staircase, opening every bedroom door. She pushed through the last one, finally, hoping this one was filled with her sister, unlike the rest of them. Instead, the sight she saw made her stomach twist.

Standing before her was a girl, around Aleithea's age, who was calmly inspecting the body of another young girl. The girl was only seven, Aleithea knew, and her name was Carey. Standing by the girl was a boy who had light blonde hair that almost looked bleached. He held a device to his ear that was silver, with gems and holes poking out of it. He was saying something, but Aleithea could not understand what language. He looked about her age as well.

Aleithea, shivering all over, backed out of the room. The boy and girl didn't seem to notice her, and maybe if she could just sneak out, it would be okay.

She turned around and darted out of the room. She screamed out for Alex again; over and over. There was no answer, not the kind she was hoping for. She pushed through the doors of her own bedroom and looked out the window. Finally, she saw Alex's head poking out of a black sedan. The car was racing away though, far from the orphanage. Aleithea watched in horror as the car disappeared. Just like that, her sister was gone.

She was interrupted out of her fear of what to do when she heard a hiss from behind her, and she quickly spun around. Standing before her, was a big blue creature, with sharp talons on its hands and feet, and sharp teeth, layered in rows in its mouth. Aleithea couldn't help but scream. What was standing before her? What was this thing?

It started charging towards her, arms outstretched. Aleithea rolled to the side, tucking her neck down and then stood up and saw the monster was clawing at the wall. It turned to face her again, and this time, as she tried to run out of the door, it grabbed her by her throat. She tried to tear free of its grip, but the monster was too strong. This had to be a dream. She couldn't be actually seeing this thing. But the pain she felt as it ripped through the sleeve of her dress made her think otherwise. It cut through her arm, making blood drop down all the way to her forearm and to her hand. It dropped her, and as Aleithea began to stand up, it pushed her into the wall. Aleithea let out a scream as its claw tore through her cheek.

And then the door burst inward. It practically exploded off of its hinges. Aleithea looked up through the cloud of smoke that gathered in the dusty room, and saw the boy and girl whom she'd seen in the previous room. And then there was someone else. A boy, who had dirty blonde hair that ended at his ears. He had shimmering emerald eyes, filled with determination as he pulled out a dagger and stabbed the monster. The blonde, who she'd seen moments ago, rushed towards her, taking a handkerchief out of his pocket, and began to dab away the blood on her cheek.

"Who are you?" Aleithea asked.

"My name is Sebastian. Don't worry, we're here to help you." He responded. Aleithea still flinched away at the soft feeling of the cloth against her cheek. She peered around him at the girl and boy, who just finished killing the monster. The girl tucked the dagger she used back in her belt. They were all wearing the same thing. Well, all but the boy with the glowing green eyes. The other two were wearing blue leather jackets, with blue leather pants and boots. The other boy, who was wiping away blood on his cut arm, was wearing a white shirt that was smudged with dirt, and a pair of pants.

"That's what you get, Kol, for not wearing the gear." The girl told him as he cursed, wiping away his blood, which was a dark blue color.

"I wasn't planning on coming on such short notice." He protested. They both made their way over to Aleithea, who sat on the ground, confused.

"Who are they?" she asked softly to Sebastian.

"I'm Sarah." The girl said, removing her black gloves. "This is Kol." Kol just rolled his emerald eyes.

"What was that? Why do you carry knives with you?" Aleithea asked. She peered around the boy, Kol, to the where the monster was. Instead was just a pile of blue dust. "Where did that monster go?" Aleithea practically yelled.

"Let's take her to the manor." Sebastian suggested.

"I'm not going anywhere with you!"

"Look," Kol started. "We just saved your life. You should be just a little more grateful." Aleithea stared at him, and then at Sarah.

"Don't worry. We won't bite." She said with a smirk. "At least I won't."

"And what are you wearing?" Kol asked her, as Sebastian helped her up. "That dress is ripped everywhere."

"I could say the same about your shirt." Aleithea retorted, walking to the door.

"Yes, from a fight. Sarah, is it me, or are these gastrons getting bigger and tougher to defeat?" Kol asked, turning his head towards Sarah. She had beautiful black hair, Aleithea thought. It was brushed up in a smooth ponytail, showing her golden face and her pale blue eyes.

"Somewhat. I can't say I'm surprised." Sarah replied with a shrug. "You," she said, turning to Aleithea. "What's your name?"

"Aleithea." She responded. "My name is Aleithea Black."

"Aleithea." Kol echoed with a smile.

"That's a unique name." Sebastian said.

"My name is quite unique." Kol protested. "I've heard it means a sweet, hot guy."

"Only in your dreams, Kol." Sarah said, laughing.

"S-stop." Aleithea tried to say sternly. Instead, it came out in a stutter. She halted her spot, and the others turned to face her.

"What are you doing?" Sebastian asked. His brown eyes attached on to hers, but Aleithea couldn't help but stare at Kol as she spoke.

"What are you doing?" she spat, turning to look at Sebastian.

"We're not going to hurt you." Sarah reassured her again.

"I want to know what just happened back there." Aleithea said, eyeing all of them carefully. "That monster… That couldn't have been real. Tell me that wasn't real. It wasn't what I saw."

"Fine." Kol said with a shrug. "It wasn't what you saw. It wasn't real." The tightening fear Aleithea carried slightly softened. She sighed in relief.

"Really?"

"No." Kol said; an entertained smirk painted across his face. "Look, I'll explain everything when we get there. For now, you need to shut up, and come with us." Aleithea's mouth fell with the sudden sharpness. Yes, she dealt with impoliteness each day, but no one had ever told her to shut up. Not a boy, who should be acting like a gentleman!

"I have questions-" she protested.

"And they will be answered as soon as we get there." Kol said with annoyance in his tone. "So are you coming, or not?"