Jume’s Journal Entries

We have a place to start. (Journal Entry #101)

We had photocopies of everything we wanted to take back with us. Riv had placed them in a Friends of the Library plastic bag for us, and cautioned me to be careful. I wanted to say that it was just one hundred yards, but I knew better than to jinx us now. Maybe I’m not exactly superstitious, but… why risk it?

I have had enough of risk lately.

We hadn’t taken the time to read what we’d found. We’d just photocopied everything we could find on Evalanedea and the girl goddess and shoved it into that bag. Riv came out of the backroom when we were just about finished. “I found this in the discard pile. It was supposed to go to the fundraiser. I put the money in the jar for it. I don’t know if it’ll have what you are looking for, but…”

“T-thanks, Riv. It’s just a side project Coty and I are w-w-working on. We appreciate this.” I hated lying to my sisters. Hated it. But…sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

We finished at the library, grabbed our books and papers, and shoved them into the bag. I hugged my sister. She is so clever, my Riv. I could feel a bit of her worry, though. It seemed like Riv was constantly worried lately. 

“Do you all have enough food?” I asked, quietly. I knew Coty is listening. But she would not judge. How could she? She and her sisters depend on charity now, as well. For those of us with a bit of pride, this…charity…was insulting.

“We will manage,” Riv said. “The Jareths…they convinced the suppliers to be a bit more fair, after all.”

“I know.”

“It shouldn’t have been because of warriors,” Riv said. “It shouldn’t have been that way. I am so tired of overbearing, chauvinistic warriors thinking they may decide for us simply because we are female.”

No kidding.

I hugged my sister again, trying to do what I could to soothe her a bit more. Something ate at her soul, too. I could just feel it.

 I mentioned my concerns to Coty as we hurried across the road to the resort. “A-a-and I fear what the future holds for her.”

Coty just looked at me, her own fears in her green eyes. She had sisters she loved, too.

“We…we will all be ok. We’re kick-ass women… well, vampires, for you. We will be ok. We’ll make sure of it.”

As the black hawk flew from the trees and circled overhead, I hoped she was right. I didn’t want to contemplate the opposite. I could not lose my sisters, I just couldn’t.

Coty squealed, and I jumped back when the black hawk dove at the two of us, practically running us behind the largest of the trees. Coty grabbed my arm and pulled me against the trunk as the bird continued to circle overhead. “Sshhh.”

We huddled there as a bunch of males I did not recognize rushed out of the back entrance. There was urgency in their movements.

One turned toward me. As if he sensed us, but Coty masked our presence somehow. I am almost sure of it. I did not recognize him, but I knew…

He was pale and fierce looking and strong.

And demon.

We stayed right where we were until the males were gone. 

And we snuck back into the hotel just the way we had left two hours earlier. 

Leaving our guards none the wiser.

Finding Trouble… (Journal Entry #100)

I did it! I made it to post 100! I find myself celebrating the small things now…

Anyway, back to what happened…

It took us two days to make it work. Mostly because Riv took some convincing. She had worked at the library for years, and had almost unfettered access to everything. But there were things in the library she wasn’t supposed to share. 

If someone found out what we were doing, it could mean trouble for my sister. I did not want that. Not even for a moment. 

Nor did I want to bring her into something dangerous.

Coty had pointed out where what we were doing might just be that.

But if someone was threatening the goddess of our people, I needed something more than just half a conversation to convince Theo to actually do something. 

I hadn’t realized how dismissive he could be until recently.

Or maybe he has always been like this, so sure that what he “sees” or decides is the only way the world can be? 

That is not fair to the rest of us non-prognosticators, I don’t think. 

We were going to have to shake my guard. They did not guard Coty at all. 

Which completely surprised me. I mean, there are guards on our floor at night, but other than my guards, they aren’t specific. Just to guard the sixth floor.

But Coty and her sisters were related to the Dhan and several other high-level equa. They should have been guarded better than they were.

I feel guilty about deceiving my guard, but he is not Tol. That matters.

That was another reason my plan had to be executed today. I would not hurt Tol or betray him. 

Now here we are, ready to defy the king and go a mere hundred yards from the hotel. 

I have lived for sixty-eight years. Have taken care of myself for most of that time. Yet, one hundred yards terrify me.

And someone else controls the permission I have. The right to make my own choices. 

Coty stood next to me. 

We have slipped away from my guard by simply taking the servant exit at the rear of Theo’s library. It was a simple setup.

A few hallways and a hidden door, and we were here. 

I have known the servants’ path through the hotel and every governmental office housed within it for decades. Today… today was so simple.

Almost too simple.

“You ready to face the big, bad… backyard?” Coty asked next to me. 

“N-n-no time like the present.” 

I led the way. 

Absolutely nothing happened. No one was out there to harass us, either. 

We got lucky.

I knew that.

We kept going. To the back entrance of the library. 

Riv slipped open the door just as we approached. “Hurry!”

We did.

I risked one more glance over my shoulder toward the hotel we had just left.

There was a black hawk sitting on a tree branch far too close to where we were.

I almost swore… he was watching us.

Which was just ridiculous. 

I think I may have been reading far too many of Alaun’s demon adventure romance novels lately. 

The Plan (Journal Entry #99)

“R-r-research. We need to find out all we can… about that… p-place.” I didn’t want to say Evalanedea aloud. That would be stupid.

I did not trust those around me any longer. 

And Coty… I don’t think she trusts people in general. 

“So, how do we do that? I’m fantastic at researching. Especially with a computer.”

I grinned. “Me, too. Not with a computer, though. I’ll tell you about me researching k-k-kissing a werewolf once.”

“Oh, do tell. I’ve always thought vampires were hotter than werewolves, but…” Coty deadpanned. “We beggars can’t be choosers, here. Now if the hot guy all in black would like to spend a few hours with me…”

She looked over at Equan Black’s table and sent him a sultry look.

I knew she was teasing. Just like I knew she wasn’t nearly as experienced with males as she was acting. 

Everything about her was an act. Inside… Coty was just as scared of the world as I was. We’d recognized each other on a soul-deep level, me and this girl young enough to be my daughter.

“He was super-hot. I-I-I will tell you sometime.”

“Personally, I would never want to be with a werewolf. Drew told me some things. Is it true that if you are their mate, you get stuck with twins four months after you meet? That’s totally barbaric. Not for me. Of course, I’m probably going to die here in this hotel someday. Eaten by vampires—present company excluded, of course—simply because of who my father is.” 

I could feel her hurt down to my soul, even though we rarely could read each other. I covered her hand with mine. “I-I-I won’t let that happen to you.”

She smiled at me. “You give me hope, Jume. That not all vampires are that bad. Or out to kill me.”

“That’s good. Most of us aren’t out to kill you. But a select few…” Why sugar-coat it? I had spent years seeing the darkness of my Kind, after all. I knew what some Dardaptoans would do to innocent young females such as this. Sometimes in the name of vengeance. “S-s-some of us… just aren’t good. You have to always remember that.”

I am old enough to be this girl’s mother. Sometimes I forget that. At other times, she seems so achingly young.

And terrified.

I have accepted… I will never have children of my body. I will have no mate. 

But as I sat there eating pizza and talking to Coty, I made a realization—I can still be there for the young and defenseless. The females who have no real family or a mother to love them. 

I would protect Coty just as much as I would with my Alleah and Julea. As a mother would. Something I know Coty had not had enough of. 

“So… where are we going to start this research?” she asked. 

I thought for a moment. I had permission to use the Dhar’s library, as well as Theo’s—they were connected, and I had used them both for years in my position as Theo’s clerk. But Riv… Riv had access to restricted books I could never hope to be allowed to see. The Dardaptoan library was right next door to the hotel. 

If we took the back path behind the rear exist… we would only be exposed for about one hundred feet. 

I looked behind me. My guard was right there. Watching. He was new. Not Wiac or Tol. 

“I-I-It might take some… planning. I want to go to the library. Not the ones here. The one where my sister works. But… it means leaving the hotel. Defying Theo and Cormac Jareth’s o-o-orders.”

“Oh, a real plan. I love the idea of sticking it to those assholes. Do tell,” Coty leaned in closer. I mimicked the movement, but I looked up first.

Right into the eyes of Equan Black. He smirked at me. Wagged a finger in my direction. Chidingly. 

I had met him before. Knew him long before he was injured. He had been arrogant and frightening even then. Intimidating.

I raised my chin, almost daring him to come say something. 

He was not a seer. Of that, I am certain. A part of me thought… Nalik Black had actually heard what we were saying.

And that was just beyond impossible.

No Dardaptoan could hear across the room like that. 

Even him, the most ancient Dardaptoan I have ever met…

Meeting Nalik Black… (Journal Entry #98)

Pizza first. Coty and I decided to be brave and hit the main pizza parlor for guests on the first level. Neither of us were dressed in Dardaptoan wear, though we both wore hashas. Coty despised the hashas. Said the labeling of her sisters as part of the Jareth family–Cormac had been the one to discover her sister Blaire, and assume control of them–was ridiculous.

She wanted a dark gray hasha that she could put a skull and cross bones on. 

Since Boltiers were supposed to be poison to the Dardaptoans, after all. Coty has a bit of a morbid sense of humor, I have discovered. 

There were warriors from the Black House in there. They were darker, scarier, bigger, far more dangerous even than the Adrastos. I shivered when my gaze landed on the Equan. He was a scary looking beast, with the scar on his face from his time…in Coty’s grandfather’s evil lab.

Not many Dardaptoans knew that, though. They didn’t know who or what had happened to Nalik Black. I made sure to keep myself between him and Coty. Just in case.

He was very, very, very angry right now.

My former position with Theo had exposed to a lot of details about our world I sometimes I wish I could forget.

He stopped by our table. Looked at Coty, a mocking expression on his face. He was probably the most beautiful male I have ever seen. Even the scar across his face could not disguise that. “Feeling bold, aren’t you, little Boltier?”

Coty was around five-one. She was quite small. As she smirked up at the male next to our table fearlessly, I wondered just how she did it. How she hid the fear.

Then again, she had told me before that her father would beat her and her sisters at the first sign of any weakness. Especially fear.

“Why not? Got to die someday, right? Can I help you with something, pal? If not…they put onions on our veggie pizza. I love onions. You are welcome to join us. If you promise not to bite.” Coty looked him up and down, a suggestive expression on her face. “Although…I can say…I would almost let you bite me. If you wanted.”

She sent him a killer smile.

Jume was close enough to see his lips twitch. “You…you are going to be trouble for the world someday, female. Best keep that in mind. Both of you.”

Then he went on his way.

Ordering his warriors around like the arrogant Equan he was.

I shivered.

The male was terrifying. In every way imaginable.

“That…is one of the most gorgeous creatures I have seen in this place yet,” Coty whispered. “But wow. Is he danger on two legs.”

“Yes. He is.” Our pizza finally arrived. We focused on that for a moment.

“So…stage two in our plan…”

As I looked into her green eyes I knew the truth. 

My little friend was a born trouble maker. And I…am going along for the ride.

Someone’s Dishonest…Big Surprise… (Journal Entry #97)

Theo just looked at us. Theo had an exasperated expression on his handsome face. “Why is it that whenever anything happens, it always seems to be you, Jumena?”

“Believe me, I am asking m-m-myself the same question.”

“Tell me again what you heard.”

“Two males. One was much older. I sensed youth from one. He is of the Black House. They were discussing a plot and Evalanedea. I do not know what they meant, but…I know the old myths. And with the goddess now here…I c-c-considered it my duty to inform you of what we overheard.”

“But you did not see their faces or hear their names?”

“No. We already told you that. Did the right thing, and all,” Coty wasn’t exactly cowed by Theo, either. No surprise. My new friend could be quite fierce. “Whatever you people do with the information is totally up to you.”

She looked at me. “Ready for lunch? I’m starving. I have six dollars left in the bank account this wonderful place has provided for me this month. Have to go cheap.”

Theo frowned at her. “That’s it? There are two weeks left.”

“What? You think the vampires care about us and–our ability to provide for ourselves? Not likely. Drew gets paid a little, Faith gets paid a little. Blaire, who knows what’s happening in the demon world with Blaire. The rest of us…we’re reduced to digging for pennies in the lobby couch. Had to split a granola bar between the twins this morning–thought they were going to resort to eating Grayce they were so hungry.”

“You were each issued an account for enough for three meals a day in the hotel employee dining room. With extra for incidentals.”

“Please…that just isn’t happening. Not at ten bucks a meal.”

“Ten? It should be a third that debited from your accounts.”

“Well, well. Looks like someone in your dining room is helping themselves. No surprise. I haven’t found many Dardaptoans that I respect. Jume and a handful of others. You know…her sisters. That’s about it.” She turned toward me. “Ready to roll?”

“In a heartbeat.” We’d told him what we’d heard. The rest was up to him and Aodhan. “A-A-Alaun paid me. Lunch is on me. We’ll celebrate her sales of hot werewolf novels this month over pizza?”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll pay next time. I’ll just go check the lost and found. Maybe some kid lost a tooth or something and I can put it under my pillow. Earn a few dollars that way. Or I’ll make a sign…will work for food and all that…”

We headed toward the door, ignoring the male behind us. 

“Coty, Jume–best keep this to yourselves. And Coty, I will find out what’s going on in the dining hall.”

“Sure you will.” Coty shot a look over her shoulder at him as she reached the door. “Why don’t you spend some time figuring out a plan for us to go home, instead? Find out who wants to kill us? So that we can leave this hell behind us forever? That would be a better use of your time, you know.”

Theo gave a sad smile at his female’s cousin. They had the same eyes, Theo’s Mickey and Coty. Similar features. Theo had to see that, feel the connection. “I am sorry, Coty. But…you and your sisters…you won’t be leaving this hotel to return to your lives as they once were. The…Fates…have far more in store for the seven of you than you can ever know.”

“Great. Just what I needed to hear.” She turned back to me. “Let’s get out of here. I want to go to the library. Starting to get a bit bored in my cell. You?”

“Same. I-i-if I didn’t have the internet I’d be bored out of my mind.”

Secrets… (Journal Entry #96)

 First, I should probably tell you that my mother warned us that the story wasn’t to be shared so freely. That many of our own Kind are so convinced that Evalanedea and the land of Edni were so mythical that to repeat these myths did more harm than good. That to speculate about the goddess just invited trouble one’s way.

Well, I think that is hogwash, as the humans would say.

I rushed Coty back upstairs–not that she dawdled!–and we almost ran to my suite. She sank into the tiny armchair in the seating area and stared at me. “Well?”

“Ok, f-f-first, not many Dardaptoans know of Evalanedea. Mostly the Woald. It’s been passed down in our family for generations.” I locked the door. Not that I thought the simple luan wood would ever keep out the monsters. But it made me feel better. “My mother told me to keep it a secret.”

“Well, I won’t say a word.”

One thing I knew for certain–I trusted this young female. A great deal. I nodded. 

“First, we…do not know where exactly our Goddess was created. At least not yet, anyway. I think some of the seers do, of course. Some, like Mickey’s male, can see in the past as well as the future. I’m sure some of them have this information. Theo’s sister did a beautiful mural–the one above the pool in the family pool–and it greatly resembles the goddess. I saw the goddess last week when she was walking around with the wolf god. But as for where she came from…no one truly knows. There has been speculation within the Woald that she came from Evalanedea. My great-great-I don’t know how many greats grandmother was said to be one of the first to come to this world. She passed down some history orally. But none of us have ever felt compelled to write it down. Yet.” Maybe I should? It would give me something to focus on eventually.

You know, stuck here in Hotel Dread-anos like I am…

“You think this goddess came from there?”

“I do. Yes. But it is shrouded in secrecy. My mother told me once that Evalanadean females used to have these curls, too. I was a little girl and being teased. But the goddess does not. Mama was always…pensive…when she spoke of Evalanedea. My mother was a Sebastos. She had a strong gift of sight.”

“So this goddess reappears, and these two guys are messing around the hotel. Talking about a two hundred year old plan? Strange coincidence, that.”

We just looked at each other. Neither of us were stupid. 

“Someone is plotting to do something to the goddess, aren’t they?” I asked. I needed to talk to Theo. If my cousin would even listen to me at all. He had been rather dismissive the last time our paths had crossed. I didn’t exactly want to see my cousin anytime soon, either.

But… “We should go to Theo. D-d-do you think Drew can get us in?”

“No time like the present to find out…”

What We Overhear… (Journal Entry #95)

We agreed to meet every day that we could for lunch. There is something in Coty that I recognize, and praise the goddess, I cannot read her. That means the world to me. I told her that, too, and was pleasantly surprised when she said the same in return. Coty possesses a similar gift to me. One that is mixed slightly with the ability to see the future. 

I cannot think of a worse mix–to be able to feel someone’s emotions and to see their future as well? That is a recipe for madness. 

Especially for someone who feels far more human to me than anything. I have made her a silent vow–I am going to do my best to be there for this new friend of mine. For as long as she needs me to be.

Everyone has a season, I believe. I was there for Jayi when she needed me most. And though we are still friends, she is busy with her healing duties and her new male. 

I am not needed now.

But Coty…I sense we need each other as we navigate this new normal we have found ourselves trapped within.

We were just walking back from the dining hall Tuesday afternoon a month after the goddess had been found–and her return to us finally formally announced a week before, when something didn’t feel right.

Coty was faster to react than I was. She pulled me behind a stone column shaped like the Adrastos family crest with the sword carved into the marble. “Shh. They can’t see us, or we’re dead.”

She meant it. She had told me she had always been able to feel when danger was near. I believed her. Completely.

We sat there, two females who had no way to really protect ourselves in this world of monsters and males far too big for us to defend against. While we listened.

There were two of them. Neither of us could see them, either.

“Evalanedea needs to fall.” A harsh male voice with an accent I couldn’t quite describe said. It was in the characteristic hiss of our people, so I am mostly convinced he was as Dardaptoan as I am. I could not tell from the voice how old, of course, but he was definitely male. He sounded large. Frightening.

Coty and I stayed right where we were. 

“Soon.” Another male voice said. I don’t know what made me open my senses to read him, but I sensed nothing but fervency. And youth. He was young, maybe even close to my own age. He was a warrior, as well. 

“Listen, Black, you just do what you are ordered. My people will handle the rest. Make sure you don’t get caught. Understand? Or it will be those sisters of yours that pay the price.”

The youth smirked. I could hear it where I huddled. “You stay away from my sisters or I’ll cut off your balls and feed them to my dogs.”

“Mess with me, with the ones in charge of this, and it’s a good way to get yourself killed. Remember that. We’ve been planning this for more than five hundred years. You won’t screw it up.”

“You’re getting worked up over a damned myth.”

“It’s not a myth. Evalanedea must fall. Remember that. No matter the cost.”

That was the last they said. Coty and I stayed exactly where we were.

As I tried to process what we had heard, what I had felt. 

“So…what is Evalanedea? And why must it fall?” Coty asked in a whisper.

I just shook my head. There was only one story I ever remember hearing about such a place. 

Told to me by my mother so many years ago…

Friendship Matters (Journal Entry #94)

NO. It is best if I just handle my problems myself. I am not even sharing what it is I hope to find with Kellis. She would only worry, and as the war with the rogue Lupoiux who refuse to follow their god’s edicts continues to pick up outside the city, Kellis is being worked harder than ever.

They are using her for a guard for some of the more timid Tanisses and Boltiers. I am worried; they took Blaire to the demon world weeks ago. No one has heard much from her since. Coty has been practically beside herself with fear.

More than any of the others, it is Coty that I fear for the most. I…can feel…that she knows something that she probably shouldn’t. It scares me. That I will not lie about. So many young females are coming to our world through pain and terror. How is that right? How can the goddess allow this?

Coty just wishes that her sisters remain safe. I wish the same for mine. That is all.

I want to go home. I want to go…normal again. Instead of this.

It is hard to fight the anger sometimes. Kellis suggested yesterday when she visited that I have every right to feel that anger. And that maybe it wasn’t the goddess who had done this to me, but the Fates?

I know nothing about the Fates. And I do not believe in such things. I believe in honor, and kindness, and working hard, and love. That is what I believe in.

And friendship.

It is friendship that had me leaving my little suite for the one down the hall that Coty shared with the eldest of her sisters. Their suite was barely bigger than mine but had two smaller double beds and a second dresser instead. You would think that as family with the new Dahn they would warrant better accommodations.

But no. Coty swears they have all been just forgotten about. Nothing much has changed in that regard, other than her second sister being taken back and forth to the demon world on a regular basis. 

I see Blaire sometimes. She’s usually trailing around after the new demon queen, an overwhelmed, intense expression on her face. I don’t mean to pry, but her fear is hard for me not to feel. And her determination. She wants to complete the task the queen has given her; I think she has somehow tied her entire sense of being up in that purpose.

It can’t be that healthy. I just know it isn’t.

Coty is worried, too. She has said as much.

Drew is in and out, with Mickey, Theo’s female. They are studying the laws of our people. Laws that the goddess said need to be updated, according to what Coty’s sister has told her.

I can agree there.

There is no reason for some of the ridiculously sexist rules that are still enforced in some of our tribes. I don’t need a male relative to speak for me in the courts. I did just fine on my own. 

I will continue to do just fine, as I am.

The Goddess (Journal Entry #93)

MY resolve lasted all of one day–that’s when the doubts set in. I am a champion at doubting myself, after all. Then I pulled my courage around me and sat down at my small desk that was wedged at the foot of my bed, and came up with a plan. I want out of this hotel. 

It has become my prison. 

No one looking at my situation can deny that. How could anyone? I am trapped here.

I have my notes. It is time I took the knowledge on demons I have collected and go the next step. Why is this such a difficult thing for me? I am so used to being invisible. Maybe it is me that wants it that way. Little Jume, no one. 

That is me. 

But…everyone says war is coming.

It has been only a scant handful of months since the Taniss Four were found. And the Lycurgus mate. Oh, she is so young. She is a beautiful mother, though. I have seen her. But she is just a few years younger than my Julea. Just a babe herself. It is unheard of to be mated so young. 

Why would the goddess be doing this?

If I had the courage…I would ask her.

She has been found. Just this week. The wolf Taniss, Jeirra’s male, found her in the woods near here.

Lupoiux had been attacking her. She had been rescued–by that evil creature, the wolf god. 

I wasn’t so certain that I believed the legends of them. But it is rather hard to deny that they are in the hotel.

I can feel her. She has been ill. Now…she is mated to that monster. Carries his babes. There is joy in her now. 

Yet because of her actions so long ago, so many of our people have been cursed. So many of our females lost and their babes…their poor, poor babes.

Yet she has found joy with the enemy of our people. While so many of our people suffered. 

It is hard for me to reconcile the female that has such hurt and pain for our people–I feel that too–with one who is happy to be in her male’s arms.

Her male. The very wolf god who leads those against who which we have fought for so long.

But that is just between us.

The goddess’s presence has not yet been announced. I just…felt her though the walls. That is all. 

It made me feel…restless. 

A part of me–the part that isn’t afraid of my own shadow–wants to march up to her suite and demand to know why she has done this to me. What I have done to deserve this.

But…she is the goddess. I am but one Dardaptoan female. I seriously doubt she has time for the likes of someone like me.

Besides. I have a different purpose now. 

Demons aren’t exactly of the Levian world like the goddess. No. They are from a different place.

Those who are after me aren’t from the goddess’s world. So how would she know what is going on?

The Resolution (Journal Entry #92).

Jierra has delivered. And thank the Goddess—if you believe!—she has come through the delivery safely. They still must watch for infection, but the demon healers were able to help her in ways that are miraculous.

They have banned her male from the hotel.

Rand Taniss.

He is not happy with that, of course. And I do not know the entire story.

But there is one.

I am sure of it.

But I have worries of my own.

My Julea.

She…someone is harassing her. I do not know why, but she was followed home from the grocery store where she works two nights ago. She was terrified.

Barely made it home, to Kellis.

And Navix, who waited on the porch, trying to convince my sister to kiss him.

Julea practically collapsed in Kellis’s arms, shaking in terror.

Navix took off after the stalker, but he was unable to catch him.

Why would someone target little Julea? All she does is work at the store as a clerk, and help Ambrea with mending when it is available.

I can’t help but fear that it is someone mistaking her for me. Except for these ridiculous curls on my head, we do resemble each other so greatly.

I will never sit back while my sisters are threatened because of me.

Never.

I have not given up my quest.

I will find out why the demons have targeted me. Even if I have to go over Theo’s head and find little Pin myself.

She is cousin to the king, after all. She told me that herself.

I…as soon as I am ready.

I am going to take that next step.