I watch the vampires trying to knock each other down with round ended staffs. There are six of them standing on overlapping narrow planks. None of them pay any attention to me as they play fight.
That's when Darren walks in with two older vampire men. “Hey,” he says to me.
“Hello,” I say.
“Umm Catarina, this is Kurda and that's Vanez. Guys this is Catarina Lombardi.”
“I heard rumors about a young female vampire being here,” Vanez says.
I nod. “Hello,” I shake his hand then Kurda's. We turn back to the vampires on the planks and see only one is left standing, the winner. A female....I have never seen a female vampire before. I can't help staring. She jumps down and walks over to us.
“Arra,” Kurda says.
“Kurda, Vanez, and you are Darren Shan,” she says then she turns to me. “You must be Catarina the young vampire girl we've all been hearing rumors about.”
I nod. “Hello....”
“Is there are a reason you are looking at me like that?”
“I apologize Arra,” I tell her. “It's just....I have never seen a female vampire before.”
“Why are there no female vampires?” Shan asks and then suddenly everyone is silent. Eventually Arra says “Women do not make good vampires. The entire clan is barren so the life does not appeal to many of us.”
“Barren?” he asks, once again reminding me that he does not have quite as mature of a vocabulary as I have obtained from reading so much.
“We can't have children.”
“What? None of you?”
“It's something to do with our blood,” Kurda explains. “No vampire can sire or bear a child. The only way we can add to our ranks is by blooding humans.”
“Does that rule apply to half vampires too?” he asks and I already know the answer to that.
“I'm afraid so. Larten didn't mention it?”
He shakes his head no.
“This is bad. This is very, very bad.”
“What do you mean?”
“Vampires are supposed to inform new recruits of such things before they blood them. It's one of the reasons we almost never blood children- we prefer new vampires to know what they're getting into and what they're giving up. To blood a boy your age was bad enough, but to do it without telling you all the facts....”
“Wait, did you know about this?” Shan asks me.
I nod. “Yes.”
“Jonathan told you?”
“I already had that knowledge. I told you already that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I was well aware of the facts.”
“You are young Catarina yet you seem so sure that this is the life you want,” Arra tells me.
I nod. “I am sure. I never desired to have children. I'm sorry.”
“There is no need to be sorry,” Kurda tells me.
“You're going to have to tell the Princes about this,” she tells him.
“Yes but maybe Larten meant to tell him soon. Let me speak to him first. It would be unfair to jump in before he has a chance to put his side of the story forward. Will you two keep this to yourselves?”
Both Vanez and Arra nod.
“Is Mr. Crepsley going to get in trouble for blooding me?” Shan questions.
“I do not know. I am sure he can explain it to the Princes in a way that will satisfy them.”
Vanez decides it's a good idea to let Darren fight Arra on the bars. She has not been defeated in eleven years. She is strong and I myself am worried for Darren. Vanez helps Darren with some tips on fighting and they begin. I watch carefully. At one point Darren has her hanging above the ground with only one hand on the bars. Vampires are crowded around to watch. He makes a mistake then she grabs the staff from him and jumps back up. She hits him right in the back of the head and then in his face and he goes sprawling on the ground. We all rush over to him. “Darren!” I shout with concern. He is unconscious. I kneel down beside him and pull him into my arms, cradling him carefully.
Minutes pass and I wait patiently, keeping my eyes on him. “Should we call for help?” someone asks.
“Wait a few more minutes,” Vanez tells them.
And much to my relief he does wake up but he seems disoriented. “What happened?”
“Arra knocked you out. You've been unconscious for five or six minutes now,” Kurda tells him. “We were about to call for help.”
“How far is it to vampire mountain?” he mumbles.
“The poor boy doesn't know whether he's coming or going.”
“He'll be fine,” Vanez says. “He just needs a good night's sleep.”
“Wait,” he stands up and stumbles over to Arra. She is standing by the bars rubbing cream on her bruised face. He extends his hand to her. “Shake.”
She does not shake anyone's hand who she does not respect including Kurda's. “What if I say no?”
“Then I will get back up here and fight you until you do.”
She nods. “Power to you Darren,” she says then shakes his hand.
“Power,” he agrees then he faints and she catches him, chuckling. I run over and so does Kurda. Vanez grabs Darren and pulls him away.
Arra looks at me and I bow to her quickly much to her amusement so she smiles before running off to Darren's room.
Kurda and Vanez talk to Mr. Crepsley before leaving. “You can go now Catarina,” Mr. C tells me.
“He was very brave. He did well,” I tell him.
He nods but says “He was foolish to do that.”
I shrug then hesitantly step towards the door. “Goodbye.” I hurry away.