Katie glanced around the long hallway, studying the many paintings that covered most of the wooden walls. She had been walking around for the better part of fifteen minutes and it slowly dawned on her that she would find neither her room nor Isobel, and she guessed the latter was intentional from her part. She probably even enjoyed the idea of Katie roaming the castle, completely lost.
Eventually Katie’s patience ran out and she kicked the wall, “Fuck this shit.” she muttered and pulled a hand through her hair, “I’ll never find my way anywhere.”
She slumped down on a rickety old chair, huffing in frustration. Why had they been so adamant about saving her sorry ass, if they only saw it as a problem with her being here? It wasn’t as if they risked her telling on them, because who would believe some crazy woman’s rantings about demons taking over the world? No, there were some other agenda behind it all, she just didn’t know what.
“Are you lost?”
The female voice nearly made Katie jump out of her skin, she hadn’t expected to run into anyone. She looked up and saw a woman approach her with light steps, her arms casually swaying by her sides. As the woman got closer Katie noticed the short and fiery red hair, which was a sharp constrast to her emerald green eyes. She was dressed in tight, black leather pants and boots, and a deep purple corset, her arms and chest covered in tattoos. Something about her was oddly familiar.
“I am.” Katie confessed with a wry smile, feeling slightly ashamed over the fact that she had no clue as to where she was.
“No worries.” The woman replied with a gentle smile, “It takes a while to become accustomed to the many corridors in this place.” She then extended a hand, “I’m Vanessa, by the way. And you must be the new girl, right?”
Katie nodded slowly and accepted her hand as she stood, “The new girl, right. I’m Katie.” She then looked around, “So the rumors have already begun spreading, huh?”
Vanessa chuckled quietly, “Everyone knew you had arrived the moment you sat foot inside the gate.” she explained and gestured to Katie to follow her, “We aren’t that many hunters that new ones escape our notice.”
“How many are you?” Katie wondered, “It doesn’t seem as if the castle is crowded.”
Sadness shadowed Vanessa’s face as she briefly looked away, “We are twenty hunters over all.” she said then, “Twenty-one if you count Alaric, but most of us are out hunting, either here or overseas.”
“You hunt overseas, as well?” Katie asked and looked at her in disbelief, “You can’t be covering the whole world, can you?”
A light chuckle danced over Vanessa’s lips, “No,” she said, “that’d be impossible. But there are demon hunters all over the world, and sometimes we exchange hunters to get new perspectives.”
Katie hesitated for a moment, “You make it sound as if it’s a punishment.”
Vanessa wet her lips and glanced at her, “Maybe.” then she straightened and the sadness disappeared, “You came from Alaric’s office, didn’t you?”
Katie cocked an eyebrow, “Yeah, I did.” she replied, “Am I that easy to read?”
Vanessa laughed heartily, “No,” she said, “but you’re not the first I’ve found in the practice wing when they’re looking for the dorm wing.”
“Well, Alaric didn’t give any specific directions.” Katie defended herself, “And I didn’t find Isobel either, so..”
Vanessa gave up a soft laughter and shook her head slowly, “I guess that’s why she was hiding in the training room.”
“She doesn’t really like me, does she?” Katie mumbled and locked her gaze at the floor.
“It has nothing to do with you personally.” Vanessa answered and glanced at her, “Izzy is a complicated person and she doesn’t warm up to anybody unless they’ve proven that she can trust them and that they put the Order first.”
“The Order means a lot to her, then?” Katie asked and studied Vanessa slightly.
“It means a lot to all of us.” she replied firmly, “The Order took us in when we thought we had no where else to go, it gave us a fresh beginning, it gave us a purpose and a meaning. It became a home to return to and a family to care for.” Vanessa suddenly stopped outside a wooden door and looked at her with a gaze that was so full of emotions that Katie felt forced to look away. “It may be different things that brought us here,” she said, “but everyone here would protect it with our lives.”
“I’m sorry.” Katie mumbled, “I didn’t mean to offend.”
“You didn’t.” Vanessa answered, “It’s just that we are a family and we look out for each other.”
Katie nodded slowly, “I understand.” she said and looked at Vanessa again, “Thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Vanessa replied with a smile and opened the door she had stopped in front of, “This is your room,” she said with a warm smile, “there should be everything you might have need of, and should there be anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Katie just stared at the door opening for a moment as she tried to comprehend what had just happened. “But..” she mumbled as Vanessa turned to leave, “how will I get to the dining room from here?”
A conspiratory smile nudged at the corner of Vanessa’s mouth as she put her hands in her pockets, “I’ll send someone for you.”
Katie nodded her appreciation before she turned back to the room, glancing inside before stepping in. The room was big and light, even though the wooden details were dark. She closed the door behind her and took in the atmosphere, the mixture of old age and mystery.
The room consisted of a large double bed with a canopy, a nightstand on either side of the bed with identical antique lamps on, a large, robust wooden desk, a wardrobe and an antique full-length mirror. As she looked at the furniture it felt as if she had been transported back hundred years in time.
Katie walked over to the wardrobe and opened the doors with a sigh, picking out the first piece she saw. It turned out to be a black lace dress with purple velvet details. She shrugged, whom ever it was that had filled her wardrobe, the person had good taste.
She turned to the bed and placed the dress on it. It felt strange, being welcomed to a home she knew nothing about, by people she didn’t know. They hadn’t even asked her if she wanted to join them, yet they behaved as if she already had.
Undressing she threw her clothes in a haphazardous pile on the floor before pulling on the dress with a sigh. It fitted her perfectly. Katie turned towards the mirror and studied her reflection, absent-mindedly running her hands along the fabric. She looked elegant.
A sudden knock on the door made her flinch. Even though Vanessa had said that she’d send someone hadn’t Katie expected it to be true. She took a deep breath as she walked over to the door, hesitantly grabbing the door handle as she slowly opened it.
Outside stood a woman. She was dressed in a emerald green dress with a corset bodice and tight skirt and her black, curly hair hanged loose around her shoulders. It took a moment for Katie to realize who it was that stood on the other side of the door, and she stumbled backwards when the realization hit her.
“Finding everything to you liking, Katie?” Melissa asked with an amused smile as she stepped inside, “Wow, your room is even nicer than Alaric’s.”
“Melissa..?” Katie stuttered when she found her ability to speak again, “What are -“
“What am I doing here?” the black woman asked and sat down on the bed, “I needed to check on my best friend, of course.”
“But you’re -” Katie didn’t know what to say. How did Melissa know where to find her, and why did she act as if this was the most natural thing in the world? Then it dawned on her what Melissa had said and she frowned in confusion, “Mr Black is the Alaric?”
Melissa chuckled heartily, “Why, yes of course.”
Katie had to sit down on a corner of her desk as her head began spinning. A bitter laugh escaped her as she slowly came to the realization that Melissa probably knew more about her than she herself did and somehow that hurt more than she thought it would.
“I guess my big reveal wouldn’t have been much of a newsflash for you.” she said quietly and looked up, meeting Melissa’s dark gaze, “You already knew, didn’t you?”
Melissa was quiet for a moment, then she nodded slowly. “I did.” she confessed softly, “I have known ever since we first met.”
Her stomach tightened as she slowly realized what it was her best friend just revealed without words. “Alaric.” she said quietly, “Alaric is the one who told you to offer me that job.”
“Yes.” Melissa confessed and Katie could hear a sadness in her voice, “But you must never believe that I don’t value your friendship!” she stated firmly, “You are my best friend and I love you dearly.”
“How can you say that?” Katie cried out as she jumped to her feet, “Our friendship is a lie! Everything you’ve told me is a lie!”
“No!” Melissa stated and she too got to her feet, “I have told you the truth all along, it is you who have adapted it to fit with the reality you thought you knew.”
Katie crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes, “So it’s my fault?” she hissed.
“I’ve never said that!” Melissa defended herself, “But think about it,” she begged then, “I told you that Alaric was a certified hunter, that his corporate opponents were real demons, that I have a lot of sisters and that my ancestors were witches.”
Katie was quiet as Melissa’s words sunk in. She was right. Katie had always believed that she meant that Alaric was a real hunter, that his opponents were cutthroat, that she came from a large family and that her ancestors were burned at the stake. She truly had adapted her words to fit a reality she thought she knew.
“I’m sorry..” she whispered, “It’s just -“
“I know.” Melissa smiled softly and walked up to her, gently wrapping her arms around her shoulders, “Coming to the realization that the world isn’t as we picture it can be frightening.”
“Then you’re a hunter as well?” Katie asked when they broke apart, but Melissa shook her head.
“No,” she said, “I’m an enchantress.”
“Enchantress?” Katie repeated in surprise, “Just like Lila?”
Melissa nodded, “Yes,” she said, “she’s one of our most talented sisters.”
“Sisters?” Katie walked over to the bed and sat down, “How many of you are there?”
“Thirteen,” Melissa replied and sat down next to her, “we are a sisterhood, we all have a specific name and unique talent.”
Katie arched an eyebrow, “And what’s your unique talent?”
“I’m a Shapeshifter.” Melissa answered with a shrug. “I am able to shift into an animal anytime I want, and in some rare cases, also other humans.”
Katie let her words sink in, trying to comprehend the fact that her best friend did not only know that she saw demons, but that her best friend was also a witch who could shapeshift.
“Okay..” she mumbled after a while, “and what’s your name?”
A wry smile formed on Melissa’s lips, “My sisters know me as Talia.”
“And the others then?” Katie asked quietly, “You said you were thirteen, what about them?”
Melissa hesitated for a moment, “Well, you’ve met Lila,” she said, “her ability is invisibility. Then you have Tia who uses telekinesis and Celestine who can manipulate elements, just to mention a few.”
Katie nodded slowly and was about to say something when her door flew open and Gabriel appeared in the doorway, his eyes a dangerous shade of red.
“The demons are attacking Inferno!” he called and placed his hand on the pistol on his hip, “Come on.”
“How many?” Melissa asked as she and Katie ran up to him, a metallic whip materializing in her right hand, “Does Adam stand a chance?”
Gabriel shrugged slightly, “It seems as if his brood appeared just in time and Lila has gathered your Sisterhood.”
Melissa nodded and grabbed Katie’s hand, “Time for some fun.” she said and dragged her with them as they hurried through the corridor and down the stairs to the entrance. The whole Order seemed to have gathered.
There were eight people gathered by the front door. Katie recognized Isobel, Zachary, Alaric and Vanessa, but she had no idea who the others were. Gabriel and Isobel had changed into their usual leather pants and coats, Zachary wore something that looked like a modernized leather armor and Vanessa wore the same clothes she had worn before.
A brown haired younger man stood beside Alaric, wearing a leather cloak and a sword was attached to his back. And by Vanessa’s side stood two blonde men, one was wearing a leather jacket and his shoulder long hair was tied in a low ponytail, while the other wore no jacket at all, only a black shirt and his hair was short and messy.
“Ah, Dante.” Alaric said as the three of them hurried down the stairs, “You found them, good.”
“How long ago is it?” Melissa asked when they finally reached them, “And how many are they?”
Alaric shook his head, “I have no idea, Talia.” he replied bitterly, “They came from nowhere.”
Melissa scoffed, “That’s impossible.” she said, “The watchers would have alerted if something were amiss.”
Vanessa cleared her throat, “They did their job.” she scolded the enchantress, “There were no signs of demons until they attacked the club.”
Alaric raised a hand as Melissa was about to bite back, “Arguing won’t fend them off.” he stated firmly and turned to Katie, “This isn’t how I wanted to introduce you to everyone,” he said, “but introductions will have to wait. Are you ready to officially join the Order?”
Katie took a deep breath, “Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice.” Alaric replied and smiled wryly, “But right now we need every ablebodied person. Are you prepared?”
Katie raised her right hand and showed him the leather jacket she had managed to snatch before Melissa had dragged her out of the room, “I’m armed.” she acknowledged.
“Good.” Alaric nodded and turned to the others, “Let’s go!”
The hunters left the castle in a hurry and Katie felt as if it all happened in slow motion. It wasn’t until she was seated in one of the cars that drove through the city that she realized that everything she had thought to be her own imagination was real and that her world had just been turned on its head. As they neared Inferno she made herself a promise; she would see this through, no matter where the road took her.