For all appearances Daren Medakus was a normal highschool senior. He stayed out of trouble as best he could and turned in about half of his work on time. He always kept his journal with him in a messenger bag. However, if anyone ever happened to look into his bag they would be surprised by what they saw. There was a small collection of strange materials in baggies. Some of the items that would stand out were a small bag of dead spiders, a plastic vial of a thick red liquid that almost looked like blood, and a bag with three strange copper coins. If you asked him about the contents of the bag he would probably just say he loves to collect things.
– – –
Daren was doing his normal morning ritual of getting ready for school. He got up early, did all of the required hygiene actions (as he called them), and slung his messenger bag into the back of his small ‘95 pickup. He got his license at sixteen and now in the last trimester of senior year he drove it to school every day…except today.
Daren turned the key, expecting to hear the familiar sound of the engine starting, instead he heard the sound of a dead battery attempting to turn an engine over. Daren wanted to get a ride from his mom, but the bus was going to be there in a few moments so he just grabbed his bag waited at the end of the driveway. While he was waiting he sent his mom a text so she would known why his pickup was still at home.
Before long the bus pulled to a stop in front of Daren and he climbed aboard.
“I usually see you driving out of here in your pickup don’t I?” The bus driver asked when Daren walked onto the bus.
“Battery’s dead so I guess it’s the bus today.” Daren answered with a smile. “At least I didn’t miss the bus, my mom’s cranky in the morning.”
Daren passed by the driver and said. “I should probably sit now, we don’t wanna be late.”
Daren settled down for the ride to school. He wasn’t expecting anymore stops since the house at the bottom of the hill had been empty since he could remember. Today, however the bus stopped at that house. Daren looked down the aisle between the seats toward the front of the bus to see three people he had never seen before get on the bus. The bus driver said something that he couldn’t quite make out and the three of them made their way onto the bus. The boy with brown, spiked hair and a short, neatly trimmed beard. Sat down next to Daren while the other two, a girl with crimson red dyed hair that went halfway down her back, and a boy with black, slicked hair sat down on another seat.
“I’m Daren Medakus,” said Daren. “I’m surprised to see new kids this far into the year. What’s your names?”
The boy sitting next to Daren looked like his nose was twitching of its own accord for a moment. “I’m John Ainsley. Those two over there are my siblings, Jayse and Sara. You smell different. I know that sounds weird, but i smell something different on you.”
“Yeah, sorry. Uh…so, what’s in the bag?” John tried to change the subject.
“Well, school stuff but I guess you mean what else is in the bag. Here, have a look.” Daren handed the messenger bag over to John. “Just put things back where you find them. It’s organized even if it doesn’t look like it.” Daren was used to people asking about the bag. It was twice as big as it needed to be if it was only for school, and it was mostly full. Those two things tended to raise suspicion.
“Wow, is this a phoenix feather?” John was holding a large fire-colored feather that was slightly crumpled from being in the bag. “I’ve never seen a full sized one.” The side of the bag that John was holding said phoenix on the side of it, but only if you knew how to read thaumatish.
“Nah, it’s just a rare peacock feather my dad found. It was already pretty damaged when he found it though.” Daren tried to play off the surprise of John recognizing the feather. “You play D&D or something?”
“What’s D&D? Oh, is it one of those pen and paper rpgs?” John asked with a smile on his lips. “I had a friend who had a bag like this before. He kept saying ‘iaceo interius veritas’ to people. They answered something back but I’ve always wondered why they didn’t just ask outright. Nobody would believe them anyways.”
“You’re strange.” Daren wanted to give the response to the phrase ‘iaceo interius veritas’ which was ‘veritas interius iaceo’ but something felt off about John.
“I’ll take that as a compliment, but I try to be strange.” John smiled as he pulled out the vial of red liquid and tossed it towards Jayse who caught it and looked at it for a moment.
“Hey, don’t throw stuff on the bus!” the driver yelled backwards. “If there’s a mess you’re cleaning it up!”
“For truth.” Jayse said as he uncorked the vial and drank the contents. “Iron, just what I needed.”
Daren’s eyes went wide and he stared at John. Then the bus stopped at the school.
– – –
After the all the students but the four of them, Daren and the new kids, they finally noticed they were at the school. The bus driver started to walk down the aisle towards them but Sara spoke up. “Don’t worry, we’ll only be a moment. Don’t eavesdrop please..” The bus driver turned back around and sat down in his seat and went rigid.
“So, we know what you are, and judging by that look on your face you know at least what I am,” Jayse said. “Now, we have two options here. We either get along or we’re enemies. I don’t want that, and I don’t think you should either. Getting along doesn’t mean you need to agree with us being here so much as just ignoring us.”
Daren began to reach for something in his messenger bag when John grabbed it in a flash and was a the back of the bus.
“Not so fast warlocke. We still have some things to talk about.”
“You’re a werewolf with a vampire? What’re you, an herbalist?” Daren directed the second question at Sara, but then his mind went slightly numb. “Wait, you’re a vampire too?”
“Let’s get off the bus before somebody from the school checks on the bus, shall we?” Sara started walking toward the front of the bus. “Oh, and John. You should give our friend back his bag. Don’t wanna keep him from his grimoire.”
John smiled and handed the bag to Daren as he walked by. “I can replace the blood for you. I have plenty of werewolf blood available and it’s more potent.”
– – –
Daren walked into his first period class and sat down on his stool. The seat next to him was empty because there was an odd number of students in this chemistry class and he didn’t have an assigned lab partner. He set his messenger bag down on the empty stool next to him when Sara walked into the room.
Daren sighed then motioned Sara over. “I’m the only one without a lab partner, so I guess you’ll probably be sitting here.” Daren took the bag off the stool and set it on the ground.
“Thanks.” Sara sat down and opened up her backpack. There was a thermos in it marked ‘Jayse emergency’ that caught Daren’s eye.
“That what I think it is?” Daren asked, motioning towards the thermos.
Sara looked where he was motioning, then smiled. “It’s actually ovaltine. It’s quite high in iron content. He has an iron deficiency you know.”
“Ah, that makes sense.” Daren looked around the room and noticed the other students staring at them. “Oh, looks like you made an impression already.”
The teacher walked into the room and did roll of all of the students in the room except for Sara. When he got to the bottom of the list he looked around searchingly. “Ah, there she is. Come up here please.” He motioned Sara to stand next to him. “I’d like you to introduce yourself to the class. The trimester only started last week so you shouldn’t have a problem catching up with the rest of the class.”
Sara walked to the front of the class and stood next to the teacher. “What’s your name sir? They just gave me a list of room numbers and times.”
“It’s Dr. Ryan Jones, but you can call me Mr. Jones.”
“Okay Mr. Jones.” Sara turned to face the class. “My name is Sara Ainsley and I moved here from Wisconsin with my two brothers Jayse and John. Any questions?”
One girl in the middle of the classroom spoke up. “Yeah, why did you take so long to get off of the bus after we got to the school?”
“Alright, that’s enough.” Mr. Hans didn’t want any trouble in the class, and that question sounded like it was going to head towards trouble. “Please take your seat Sara and we’ll start today’s lab work.”
– – –
Lunch finally rolled around and Daren was glad to be alone at his corner of the lunchroom. When he got into the lunchroom, however, the three Ainsley siblings were sitting around his table. It was obvious to him they were waiting there for him because the entire room went silent when he walked in.
“Wow, we should get new kids more often. It’s never this quiet in here.” Daren knew the statement wasn’t funny, but he was trying to lighten the mood a little. He heard one of the lunch ladies in the back chuckle and felt slightly empowered. He walked over to the table and sat down at the empty seat. “I guess this’s my seat. What’s up?”
As soon as Daren sat down and everything looked calm the lunchroom got loud again. Daren thought he could hear the exasperated sigh of the lunch lady that had laughed before, but figured he was imagining it.
“Well, you haven’t made any sort of fuss about us, and according to Sara you even were helpful in chemistry today.” Jayse paused for a moment, expecting Daren to say something.
“That’s not an answer, sound kinda like a question even.” Daren pulled the sack lunch from his bag and started pulling stuff out. When he pulled out a couple of pepperoni sticks he handed them to John. “You don’t have much of a lunch so here, it’s home grown.”
“We need a favor,” Sara began. “It has to do with John’s, uh, condition. He has a lunar problem if you catch my drift.”
Daren rolled his eyes then reached into the messenger bag and pulled out a battered old journal. “Here, I give you three permission to look. If you can read latin it’s on page fifty-two.”
“We know the materials required. Jayse says he can get’em too. We just need you to do what you do.” Sara smiled and pulled out the thermos and set it in front of Jayse. “Here, you forgot this at the house. Drink up.” She got up and stood in line for hot lunch.
“Saturday at four. My house up the gravel road behind it. There’ll be a small trail to the right halfway up.” Daren quickly ate his lunch and started to leave. “Oh, and watch out for the rottweiler. She’s great when she gets to know you, but she belongs to the people at the end of the gravel road.”