Chapter 12:

Predator and Prey

Adventures of Zeleon

A rustling came from the foliage as a person emerged. A woman with bright red hair down to her shoulders, her eyes a crystal ice blue. She wore a red skirt with black armor over her midsection, with knee high black leather boots with short heels that made her short, slender build look a bit taller. What was most eye-catching however, was the scythe she carried that looked more than 1 foot taller than she was with a blade that was roughly 3 feet long.

Leon recognized her as the source of this feeling that made his body shake, but he gripped his blade tightly in his hands.

She looked at him with a soft smirk as she walked past where he stood without a care, knowing he was no threat to her. "You must not know me, if you did you'd sheathe that blade knowing what trouble it could give you. But, since we don't know each other, I'll let that go this once. After all, I would do the same in your situation."

She turned towards the others but had her eyes keenly on Hanyu. "You were almost late today, and you brought along a complete stranger. Hanyu, when you're in my territory, you're under my jurisdiction. I could easily make you part of the weekly menu, so I suggest you fess up. I'll excuse the tardiness since you were targeted by that worthless faction of humans. But, explain why he's here." She pointed at Leon which made him sweat a bit.

Hanyu wasn't phased as he had nothing to hide. "He was the only sub-in I could get on short notice as the 6th on my crew bailed this morning. Queen Serena offered him up to me, and though he's a newbie he actually held his own."

The woman turned to Leon once more and smiled softer than he thought possible of someone so serious. "A newbie who trains with my daughter will be anything but normal."

Leon's face was overtaken with a bit of shock, and quickly made him lower his blade. "You didn't think I'd smell my daughter on you? You're still naive, though for a teenager it's not impossible."

Charlotte looked at Hanyu and the others and shooed them off. "Go finish the delivery. The young one and I need to have a little chat." Hanyu wasted no time in getting moving, as the large branch was moved by some of Charlotte's henchmen who were in hiding. Leon looked on, sheathing his blade as he turned his attention to the Vampire Queen.


Leon thought back to something that Courtney told him. "If you ever meet Charlotte, don't treat her with disrespect. I know we're going to fight with her in time, but until then, be civil. She's not a bad person at her core, it's just….things have happened to her to make her like this. Can you please do that for me?"

"Yeah, of course. I'm not that mean all the time towards people after all…"

"I just know how passionate you are. You let your feelings get the best of you at times. But, that doesn't mean I don't trust you Leon."

"Fair enough."


"So. What's got you so interested? Because your so-called daughter is, because Serena is?" Leon was direct despite her overwhelming presence, weirdly enough, his body was relaxed now.

"Both. More my daughter though. You could at least tell me who you are and why Serena is overseeing you."

Leon took a deep breath, as Charlotte began leading him back where the carriage went. "My name is Leon Atkins, and I'm a Guardian candidate chosen by Serena….from Earth." Charlotte was surprised as she looked at him and seemed like she investigated him with her blue crystals. "Earth?! Hmm, that's intriguing. You possess such a calm strength despite your youth. Even now, you stopped shaking." Charlotte laughed softly before continuing. "I bet Atticus is absolutely furious, I hope you win. That'll really dig at him so badly, especially since he wanted that position so desperately when he was young. Only to have an Earth human get it later on."

"Atticus wanted to be a Guardian?" Leon hadn't heard anything about this, though Atticus isn't one to admit failure or fault when it's about him.

"Of course he did. His father, Alexander Shoud, is considered the greatest and most beloved Guardian in history. Atticus wanted to keep it in his bloodline once he was old enough. But, his repulsive attitude was clear to even his father. Gwendolyn Marless and Alicia Zweil, the only two female Guardians in history took the helm for 25 years, while Atticus' youth was wasted away." Charlotte held back a soft giggle or two.

"I suppose he wanted his son in the position before his likely death." Leon assumed this, not necessarily knowing. But, with his son being named after his father, it was pretty apparent.

"Indeed. So you better be ready to have the most rigged luck, he will want you to be a nonfactor in whatever grand scheme he has in mind. Heh, listen to me. A predator hoping her prey will win for her own satisfaction." She laughed softly, but Leon didn't take too well to being referred to as 'prey.'

He stopped behind her, causing her to turn around towards him. "Something wrong Leon?"

"Yeah, actually. Calling me your prey is a bit forward isn't it?"

Charlotte's expression twisted, she bore her fangs at Leon, whilst licking her lips. "I don't believe so. I'm a vampire, you're a human. Don't take my hospitality for granted. Everything in me wants to drain the virgin blood from your neck. In this world you're either predator or prey." She pinned Leon to a tree in a singular moment with her vampiric speed, the force took the breath out of him a bit as she flexed her power on him, making him realize how powerless he was.

"Never forget that. I've been prey on numerous occasions before, and I refuse to allow myself to be on the wrong end one more time." Charlotte released Leon from her grip and marched out in front of him in a bit of a huff. He regained his own composure as he took a deep breath and jogged quickly to catch up to her.

"I'm sorry." He said the words with sincerity as Charlotte ignored him. "Things must've happened that gave you this mindset. I had no knowledge of this, so I apologize for my reaction. It's just….I refuse to be looked down upon like I'm insignificant, but I meant no offense."

As soon as Leon said insignificant, Charlotte came around and actually acknowledged him. "How idealistic. You don't want people to look down at you, so you lash back. Although, I admire your spirit. I could've killed you, but you said what you said anyways. Now I understand why Serena took interest in you. You have your own mind, you're fearless, and you throw caution to the wind, even if it's breathing down your neck."

"I'm not worthy of that kind of praise. I'm hardly capable of defending myself, let alone being a Guardian."

Charlotte looked into Leon's eyes, she was at least six inches shorter than him. "Second guessing is going to get you nowhere. Be resolute, if they fear you then they see you as a threat. Be that threat that they believe you are, then exceed that."

Leon only sighed at the Vampire Queen's words, as he's heard multiple pep talks in his life. None of them ever really stuck to change his outlook on the world around him or himself. As they neared the small vampire village, Leon still hadn't given Charlotte a response which irked her more than she showed. She moved out in front of him and turned to look at him face to face.

"Do you always leave uplifting words without a response? Or are you analyzing them and applying them to yourself? Being ignored is not something I appreciate."

Leon looks at her and speaks without hesitation.

"Pep talks don't move me. Belief can only get you so far before reality sweeps it away like a riptide. I understand what you're trying to say, but I need to keep my expectations realistic, think day by day until the big moment comes. Also, you forget fear is the biggest motivator amongst human emotion, we get desperate when we're afraid. Especially when we can't run."

Leon marched past the Vampire Queen boldly, his body twitched, showing a natural fearful reaction. But he marched, knowing war could be started if he didn't return safely.

While a bit scorned, Charlotte was only more impressed by Leon's resolve.

"My my, I can feel his very being burning passionately, he's taken a lot of criticism in his life. I hate being spoken to like that, but I'll make him my exception, he hasn't called me a creature, bloodsucker, a witch or even evil."

Leon stopped for a moment as he'd forgotten an incredibly important question, and looked back to Charlotte before entering the village. "Who were the morons in the red armor?"

She gasped as he'd thought he would've known already. "No one has told you about them?! Sheesh...they really kept you out of the loop. They are from the original human capital Xavera, they are followers of the first Guardian, the Crimson Knight."

"Crimson Knight? I have a bad feeling just saying that, especially since they have a very cultish vibe about them."

"They are a cult, and hated by every race, even amongst humankind. The Crimson Knight was a failure, the magical power imbued in that armor and blade overpowered it's user. The combined power of the forces of all races wasn't enough. The user eventually died from his own body giving out, but he took a rumored million souls with it, staining the armor a permanent bloody crimson from it's victims. The armor and blade were sealed away in pieces being too powerful to destroy."

Charlotte gritted her teeth while she shook from both fear and anger simultaneously.

"Thinking of it still makes me shake, and that pathetic cult wants another Knight all to reclaim glory for that former capital! Grrrrghhhh..!"

Leon wasn't sure what to do to console her, but the words flowed out of his mouth anyways. "I'll look into them. As a promise to you. My world has had many cult followings in it's past and none of them were healthy. These people are obviously insane, and no matter if we end up as enemies or not, I will hold my promise."

Charlotte smiled a gentle, sincere smile as she took Leon's hand into her own. "You're adorable! Making such a sincere promise with such confidence! But..I hold you to your word Leon Atkins, you'd do the world a favor in doing so. That doesn't change anything as far as my view on you mortals, but know this, if you continue your trajectory as you are, I'll spare you like I plan to spare Serena and some other smaller villages as well. Now come, let's join the others."

Charlotte dragged Leon by his hand making him stumble forward along with her.

"What does everyone see in me exactly? They treat me like I have some sort of mystical qualities. Even Charlotte sees something now, which I assume Serena planned on. I put more pressure on myself too...saying that promise that I did, it's so unlike me. I have no choice but to improve and fulfill all my promises, which means going through the woman dragging me along."

"Courtney, found a gem haven't you? This young one has no judgment towards different beings, only towards what said beings represent. If he can reach his maximum potential...I might just have to steal him for myself...humanity would be on their knees!"