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"'Vampire Legends'? Really? That's so cliche."

"Come on, Rena. We're getting into the spirit of the season!" Griffin sat back, opening the book and holding it high. "We will be discussing one of the fiercest supernatural creatures this evening!"

Rena groaned. "Seriously?"

"We might as well get comfortable," Mali said. "Maybe you'll find it interesting."

CD nodded. "Read away, Griffs."

Griffin cleared his throat. "Alright. 'Vampires have been the source of fascination and stories for almost as long as humanity has existed. Legends of blood drinkers date all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, and have continued to persist over the years.'"

"Wow, that's a long time," Mali commented.

"'Many cultures across the world have shockingly similar descriptions of human-like creatures of the night that feed off of blood. It leads to the question: what has caused them to come up with them? Coincidence? Or something more?' Ooh, spooky!"

Rena rolled her eyes. "Or maybe it's because humans as a species see drinking blood as a creepy thing."

Griffin made a face. "Spoilsport. Alright, listen to this: 'The general agreed traits of a vampire are of course their signature pointed fangs and, interestingly enough, pointed ears. Beyond that, other common traits described are pale skin, red eyes, and fearsome claws. While the variations between described traits can easily be attributed to different cultures, a few have suggested it wouldn't be out of place for them to be variance among a species.'"

"...Really? Species variance?" Rena scoffed. "Ridiculous."

"That's actually a pretty interesting idea," CD said. "I mean, it would makes sense. Like, a vampire from Africa probably wouldn't have pale skin because people in Africa don't have pale skin."

"See? CD gets it. And check this out! 'Regardless of differences in appearance, the almost universally accepted aspect is their diet. They feed off of blood, using sharp fangs to puncture the skin to get to their meal.'"

"Well, duh."

"Do you think modern vampires drink blood packets like Capri Suns?"

Mali turned to look at CD. "I'm sorry, what?"

"CD asking the real questions." Griffin pointed at him. "I like the way you think."

"I'm just saying! Wouldn't blood packets be super convenient though? Storage, easy transportation."

"You are putting way too much thought into fictional creatures." Rena said. "And seriously, do you really think a 'monster of the night' would enjoy drinking out of a packet?"


 

"Can I just say I love the recent existence of these little bags?" Warrior waved the packet in his hand. "Convenient storage. Transportable. Plus they're labeled with flavors!"

Legend made a face. "Well, I for one would prefer not having to rely on these. I'm telling you they taste stale ."

"And I'm telling you you're being picky."

"Says the guys going on about 'flavors'!"

Time rolled his eyes. "Regardless of freshness, you know why we have to stick to these for the time being, Legend."

"Easy for you to say. You drink 'em willingly."

Time fixated him with a glare. "Twilight also prefers fresh, and he isn't complaining."

"Twilight also feeds off of freaking deer, I'm sure his taste buds are dead."

"It's either drink the packet or risk getting caught by a local hunter. Do you really want to risk going out hunting before we've properly scouted the area?"

Warrior made a coughing noise that sounded rather like 'Gothenburg incident'. Legend shot him a look, then sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Just give me a damn packet."

Time handed him one. "You could always do what Sky does."

"What, sleep until everything's sorted out and I can go hunting? No thanks. I don't even like sleep, much less for that long."

"What? Someone say my name?" Sky was at the foot of the stairs, yawning as though he'd just gotten up. Which was almost certainly the case.

"Speak of the devil. You done hibernating for the winter?"

Sky gave Legend a sleepy scowl. "I don't sleep that much these days."

"Whatever you say."

Time looked to Sky. "Hungry?" he asked, holding out a blood packet.

Sky stared at it. "What is that?"

"A blood packet."

"Blood comes in packets now?"

Warrior stifled a laugh. "The greatest development of the 20th century. You know, recent history."

Sky blinked blearily. "Oh. Right. I forgot. A medical advancement, I remember now." He accepted the packet.

Rifling through his bag, Time took inventory of the packets. "Alright, we should have enough to get through a week as long as we ration it correctly. That should be plenty of time to scout out the area for potential threats."

"It's not that big a town. It doesn't warrant protection that much." Warrior shrugged.

"True," Legend said, "but you're forgetting small towns are perfect for weirdos to hang out. I mean, we're here, aren't we?"

"Good point."

Sky yawned. "How's everyone liking the location?"

"Haven't seen much of it, but it seems alright. Not terribly big, but it's not so small that I think I'll go stir crazy," Warrior said, sipping from his packet.

"Excellent. I think it's a lovely place from what I have seen. Not to mention the weather up here is known for being cloudy and rainy."

"Oh yeah. Isn't Seattle famous for being pretty rainy?" Legend asked.

"Yes. Speaking of which, how far are we from Seattle?" Warrior asked, perking up in interest.

"Not too far. A couple hour's drive."

"Sweet. I love big cities."

Legend groaned. "We know you do. You constantly complained when we lived on the moor."

"That was awful. Nothing nearby."

"Hyrule loved it."

Warrior snorted. "Of course he did. It was practically his hometown."

Time shook his head. "You all continue that conversation. I'm going to make sure everyone else is fed." He shouldered his bag, and headed to the stairs.

It wasn't hard to find three of them. Wind's yelling drew him to them immediately. "That's a load of crock!" The childish cry echoed down the halls. Smiling, Time entered the room to find the scene he was expecting: a board game spread out, Wind looking angry, Four looking smug, and Hyrule watching amiably.

"What's going on here?"

Four grinned up at him. "Hey, Time. Just beating Wind at a classic game of chess."

Wind's complaints devolved into his native tongue. His language wasn't one Time fully knew the ins and outs of, and he decided that was probably for the best considering what he could understand. No one could swear quite like a pirate.

Hyrule perked up as his eyes settled on Time's bag. "Food?"

"Indeed." Time opened up the bag, tossing the three of them each a packet.

While the other two carefully opened theirs, Wind bit down directly into the packet. Blood spurted out from it, dripping onto his shirt and joining several other stains. Four snorted as he watched the other tear into his packet. "You know Warrior is going to flip out about those stains."

Wind hissed through his full mouth. "Dn' care. S'not like th' shird isn' ready stain'd."

Time only chuckled at the grumpy pirate. "Do any of you know where Twilight is?"

"Twi?" Hyrule asked. "Not sure. You'd probably know better than any of us."

Time nodded. "Thank you. I'll leave you all to what you were doing." He left to the sounds of a resumed argument and colorful language.

Hyrule was right about him likely having the best idea of where Twilight was. He tended to keep things to himself. Not to say he was antisocial; in fact, it was quite the opposite. But when things were weighing on his mind, he often retreated to a place of solitude. Time suspected that was the case now. Moving locations always stressed him out. However, this particular source of stress meant Twilight was likely not too hidden away, so he wouldn't be too difficult to track down.

As he had predicted, Time found Twilight sitting in an upstairs parlor. He was leaning against a chair, staring at a large painting on the wall without seeing it. He seemed deep in thought. Ears twitching, he looked up as Time entered the room.

"Mealtime already?" He asked.

Time nodded. "Sounds like you haven't been watching the clock, unlike some people."

Twilight snorted. "Warrior and his schedules. He's been so staunch about them lately."

"I believe his attentiveness is sourced from the same thing your introspective brooding is," Time replied, handing the other a packet and taking a seat across from him.

"Probably." Twilight sighed. "I know I shouldn't get so worked up over these things. It's not like we have to pack boxes or anything, so not much is changing, but…"

Time hummed in response. "It's a normal thing to get stressed out over. Even a little change can be daunting for us creatures of habit," he said, smiling.

Twilight chuckled. "I guess that's what happens when you get into a daily routine that lasts decades." He paused, frowning. "I just can't help but wonder what all is in the nearby area. I mean, it's a fairly average town, but you never know."

"Well, that's why we're meeting later to discuss things. I assume you want to be one of the scouts?"

"Of course."

"Then let that put you a little more at ease. You'll be able to go out there before the others and find whatever dangers may be lurking around while the others are here, safe."

Twilight nodded. He didn't seem exactly at ease, but some of the tension slipped from his shoulders. That was likely as close to calm as he was going to get for now. "Thanks, old man."

"Of course." Time stood up. "Well, I'm going to go put the rest of these away for the day. I'll see you and the others in a few hours."

"Alright." As Time walked away, Twilight resumed his previous thoughts, staring into the distance.