“So… what’s with this Evalanedea?” she asked after we set the room service cart and our empty dishes out in the hallway, where a server would retrieve it and any others used by the sixth floor ‘guests’.
I closed and locked the door, ensuring the latch was secured.
Something just told me it was needed.
“My mother told me that my great-grandmother was one of the original Dardaptoans to come to this world. She served the two goddesses, and when… war… came to the goddesses world. They killed all in their families and they were alone. The druid goddess… she lost eleven sisters. But the Dardaptoan goddess… no one knows how many she lost that day.”
We looked at each other for a long moment. We each had six sisters. Six sisters we would die for in an instant.
To lose Kellis or the rest to a war…
“Go on, Jume. We need to figure out why the dudes said Evalanedea needs to fall. So… does it really exist?”
“My mother said it did. Said she had some… family heirlooms… that were from Evalanedea. But others… the learned of our Kind. Scholars… they say that it doesn’t. I asked Theo once… and he told me there were some things I am not to know… until it will be time for me to know.”
“Well, that’s helpful. What did your mother say?”
“She said… well, they were mostly stories…”
“The goddess, she took the souls of some of her lost sisters—the ones she could gather as they fled, the Woald right at her side to witness it all—and hid them. Within the different worlds, where they could be safe. And… she sent a Woald sister with each soul. To hide it. Until the s-s-souls could be retrieved, and set free once and for all.”
“So, how could they be retrieved?”
“No one knows. That was a secret that died with the Woald sisters tasked with each soul. No one will know… until it happens. But since so many of our Kind discount the Woald… the legends are held within the Woald now.”
“Why do the vampires not like the Woald?”
“Not that we are unliked. We are just… some myths say the monster who brought the war cursed us. We are hard-workers, and many appreciate that, though. But we are one of the smallest Houses in the city. We are definitely one of the poorest. Each House, each family within that House… we pay five percent of our income in tribute to our Equan and Equa, who use four percent of that to govern our House appropriately. Or to provide for those who need it occasionally. Another two percent of our income goes to the Dhar and his family.”
“This is on top of regular taxes? I mean, y’all hide among the humans, right?”
I shook my head. “Somehow… we are masked, as long as we stay in this city. We aren’t issued social security numbers in our hospitals. Our births are never recorded. We are isolated and protected here.”
“I’m surprised you don’t have concrete walls surrounding this city. A big ‘Keep Out, Vampires Within!’ posted every five feet or something.”
“We used to. Back when it was first built, and the humans came closer, but now… We have guards out, at all times.”
“Welcome to Dardanos, the gilded land of the vampires.”
“Yes, that’s exactly what it is.”
“So… if most of the vampires don’t even believe in this place, who is this guy who wants to see this entire world fall? Why would he want that?”
I just shook my head. “I don’t know. But Theo says… most of those with dark souls want a handful of things: power, money, sex, recognition, or vengeance.”
“And all of those things can make a man—vampire, whatever—willing to kill to get them,” Coty said. “Let’s hit the books. See if we can even find written proof this place even exists. We can start there.”
I grabbed the first brown leather book and a notebook.
No time like the present.
Evalanedea existed. Now I just had to prove it.