Chapter 8: Road to Rosewood – Part 1 

Grey’s life continued with the usual tasks dictated by servitude, the routine of his chores etched into his memory. His days were now filled with outdoor tasks, ranging from the grim duty of carrying the lifeless bodies of Christian’s discarded fodder to cleaning the fallen leaves in the Ward forest. In an unexpected turn, he was even tasked with constructing a new shack for the fodder. However, what weighed on him more than the physical demands of his labor was the subtle reminder of his altered existence.

No longer certain of his age due to the effects of resurrection, Grey grappled with clothes that no longer fit. His sleeves dangled awkwardly, emphasizing the elongation of his arms each time he reached for something. Selene, seemingly indifferent to his discomfort, made no attempt to mend or replace the ill-fitting garments. 

As Grey went about his daily duties, he stumbled upon Selene engrossed in the contents of a formal letter sealed with the Ward insignia. Instinctively, he assumed it held information about Joseph’s imminent return.

How long do I have?

Determined and resolute, Grey set a personal deadline for his quest to find an enchanted bracelet. He gave himself one more week and was prepared to depart without the magical safeguard if his search yielded no results. The harsh realities of slavery, undeniable and inescapable, weighed heavily on his shoulders. Despite having six lives left, Grey refused to surrender control of his existence to the whims of his oppressors ever again.

Grey continued to distance himself from Trinity, but she fought to remain upbeat. Internally, Grey joyously watched her days at school become more lively. Oliver and Lucian, each harboring feelings for her, added an unexpected layer to her social life. Their rivalry, however, did not prevent them from being great friends for Trinity. 

While Oliver’s approach was subtle and chivalrous, treating her with respect, Lucian’s directness often led to small disputes. Briana, with her inauthentic demeanor, frequently disrupted the group’s harmonious vibes. The silent competition between Oliver and Lucian intensified as they vied for Trinity’s attention, with Oliver displaying a more nuanced approach while Lucian remained straightforward about his objectives and feelings. 

“When will you accept my proposal?” Lucian asked Trinity.

Lucian’s bold question hung in the air as Trinity flashed a confident smile. She leaned over Lucian’s seat, effortlessly correcting his math worksheet. 

“Never,” she declared, her tone unwavering. 

“Maybe you’re nervous because we’re young, but I’m willing to take my time.”

“Nah. I’ll pass,” Trinity replied with a hint of amusement. 

Lucian, revealing a softer side, pouted, “Why not? Is it because you prefer someone like Oliver?” 

A subtle exchange of glances between Oliver and Trinity added a layer of complexity to the situation. They blushed before averting their eyes.

Briana, instigated the fight, declaring, “Neither of you will live up to her needs.” 

Lucian, intrigued, inquired, “What’s that?” 

“To steal her heart, you’d need to be better than Grey.”

“The slave?” Lucian exclaimed, his outburst startling the entire class. “You’re comparing us to a barbarian? A human?” 

Trinity’s narrowed eyes conveyed her displeasure, prompting Lucian to back down like a scolded puppy, offering a hasty apology to diffuse the tension.

The bell rang, dismissing the class, and Lucian stormed out of the room. This wasn’t solely due to his anger, but because he wanted to see Grey first, who was always at the front of the line of servants. 

Lucian squatted and stared into Grey’s eyes, openly displaying his aggression. Then, as though he had discovered the answer he was searching for, Lucian declared, “I need to be more handsome, talk less, and act cool under pressure.” He ruffled his hair while walking away, shouting, “This is going to be so hard.”


At home, Trinity resumed teaching Grey magic lessons, attempting to maintain an illusion of normalcy despite the growing distance Grey created. 

Trinity clasped Grey’s hand, intertwining her fingers with his. Then, raising one hand overhead, she unleashed a basic magic spell, chanting, “Dust devil.” This caused a miniature tornado to tear through the sky. As she released Grey’s hand, Trinity remarked, “Your mana is pretty crazy. While some of it courses through my body, most of it dances across my skin, just like the spirit magic book describes.”

Grey attempted to muster a smile, but the weight in his heart proved too burdensome.

“I’m serious,” she emphasized. “This is what a normal Dust Devil looks like.”

Trinity attempted the spell on her own, but it was only a fraction of the first one. While Grey’s spell managed to cover the entire field, Trinity’s Dust Devil wasn’t wide enough to encompass both her and Grey.

Grey rolled his eyes and aimed one hand at Trinity. He silently cast the spell, but it hardly moved her hair.

Trinity understood Grey’s frustrations. He wanted to cast the spell without her assistance. 

“Well, most humans need enchantment bracelets to cast spells,” she said. “You’re probably the only one that can enhance another person’s magic. Plus, my mom said we couldn’t use them anymore after you broke the second one. Your mana is too strong.”

Grey hung his head, acknowledging the critical mistake of breaking two bracelets. At that time, he hadn’t yet read the spirit magic book to learn how to control his mana output.

Grey and Trinity weren’t sure that he could control wind spirits, but it was a strong theory. He could only cast wind magic, his spells exceeded the capacity of his mana core, and his magic consumption appeared limitless. Not to mention, his spells always resulted in some physical damage. When he used the bracelets, the damage was transferred to the stone, causing it to crack. However, even the small breeze he created left his body considerably drained.

Grey, feeling the pressure of time, started drawing an enchantment circle on his arm, similar to the one he saw in the spirit magic book. Before he could cast it, Trinity tackled him to the ground.

Grey was furious, but his tensions eased as he felt Trinity’s tears fall on his face.

“It could blow off your arm or more!” she screamed. “It would kill you, Grey.”

Grey nodded and held Trinity’s face after wiping her tears. 

Once she sat back, Trinity fanned her heated cheeks and said, “It’s a cool enchantment, though. And you drew it so fast I didn’t even notice. But you don’t need the whole thing. Our bodies can conduct magic better than paper, so you’d just need a wind symbol like the tattoos that most vampires have.”

Grey formed his lips to say, “Oooh.” 

“But don’t ever do it!”

Grey folded his hands into a prayer to assure Trinity that he wouldn’t.”


In the silence of the pre-dawn hours, Grey opted to forgo his usual morning duties and searched for the enchanted bracelets instead. His week-long exploration had taken him through various corners of the plantation, from Selene’s room to the fodder shack, and even the challenging endeavor of rummaging through Isabella’s quarters.

Despite his relentless efforts, the bracelets seemed to elude him. Disheartened but resolved, Grey came to terms with the fact that he might have to venture into Rosewood without the assistance of the enchanted accessories.

Grey, well aware of the morning routine on the farm, knew that overseers typically left the premises unguarded due to the perceived danger of monsters emerging from Rosewood. Although he had heard about these creatures, he had never witnessed one himself.

With a final plan in mind, Grey stealthily infiltrated the servants’ sleeping quarters, where the other slaves, excluding Isabella, rested. In a carefully executed move, Grey extracted as much charm as possible from Marcus, squeezing his father’s hand as he slept soundly.

Having completed his operation, Grey feigned sleep in his own bed until noon. Then, he silently slipped out of the room, his destination set for Rosewood.

Grey hadn’t packed or prepared anything. In his mind, surviving the forest was an insurmountable challenge. Rumors spoke of creatures surpassing the size and speed of Earth’s animals, and many could use magic. Should he somehow endure the next week, the prospect of succumbing to starvation seemed a more palatable fate than facing the possibility of being eaten alive.

Rosewood’s entrance was just beyond the fodder field, but once Grey had stepped on the compressed stone, Trinity emerged from the woods wearing a smile. 

Linking arms with Grey, she suggested, “Let’s take a walk. I have the perfect place for a picnic.” Trinity adjusted her backpack and coughed before leading the way. 

Though shocked and disappointed, Grey wiped away several tears as Trinity rested her head on his shoulder. It was only then that Grey noticed how small Trinity was, and he wondered if her stature was a result of insufficient nutrition during her growth.

To Grey’s surprise, Trinity led him deeper into the Ward forest for their picnic. As they ventured beyond the farm, they reached an expansive field with an empty, muddy road, where nothing seemed to grow due to the apparent destruction that resembled a burned landscape.

Trinity’s steps grew slower, and Grey couldn’t discern if it was due to her sickness or the tears streaming down her face. While he had been repressing the sound of his cries, she wept without restraint.

“This area is called Scorched Earth,” Trinity stammered. “It stops Rosewood’s World Trees from spreading and taking over the city.”

Grey couldn’t comprehend the significance of Trinity’s actions, and he didn’t have enough time to try. Something was terribly wrong with her breathing. He tried to stop her from moving forward, but Trinity persisted in leading him toward a small hole in the ground that he would have otherwise overlooked. When Grey looked inside, he noticed a ladder that descended into the darkness.

While coughing and gasping, Trinity removed three enchanted bracelets from her backpack. She handed them to Grey.

“Avoid the forest, please,” she huffed. “This is a hidden tunnel that my father planned to use in a war with the northern states. You can use it instead of going into the forest. There’s a magical fruit that—”

A violent howl emerged from Rosewood, vibrating the air and sending shivers down Grey’s spine. The fear rattling in his chest made Grey second-guess his decision to confront whatever creature produced that deafening sound.

While he considered the path of freedom or his dream to see Rosewood creatures, Trinity’s strength gave way, her knees buckling beneath her. Grey caught her just before she collapsed completely. 

Suddenly, the decision was simple. Grey lifted Trinity into his arms and started sprinting back in the direction of the farm. The haunting howls of Rosewood faded into the distance.

“No,” Trinity cried. “My dad will be home soon—sometime today.”

Ignoring Trinity’s warning, Grey pressed forward, determined to ensure her safety. The first time he saved her had been a selfish act, but not this time. 

Grey found himself praising Isabella’s rigorous butler training. Forcing him to run with heavy materials with the other servants made Trinity surprisingly light in his arms. Within seconds, he swiftly crossed through the fodder field. Moments later, they approached the grape fields. 

Once the estate was in view, Grey’s breath began to labor, but he pressed on, urgency guiding his steps. However, a wave of fear washed over him as he noticed an unfamiliar carriage.

Grey knew no guest would ever bother Selene at this hour. Not to mention, the carriage was similar to the all-black vehicles that Selene owned. Only, this carriage was trimmed in gold, the wheels had sharp spikes, and both the side of the carriage and centaur were covered in dried blood. 

Grey knew that he would be killed immediately if the man inside of the carriage noticed him first.

Should I run to the hospital myself? 

No. Grey knew he was too tired to even make it to the neighboring house, and the doctor was a half-day’s trip by carriage.

Should I call Selene? Wouldn’t she be asleep by now?

Grey looked down at Trinity. He thought there was no way she would know about a tunnel built for war. Selene must have given him permission to escape. But was she close enough to save him and Trinity?

The games have to stop.

Summoning his strength, Grey fought against his stuttering tongue, and after several tries, he called out, “Selene!” The desperate plea cut through the air, capturing the attention of the occupants in the mysterious carriage.

Almost immediately, the carriage’s door creaked open and a figure emerged—an enigmatic young man named Smoke. His silver hair was sharp and spiky, matching his demeanor. Intricate tattoos adorned his neck, which complemented his sharply defined vampire fangs. A visible blue aura surrounded him, as did wisps of smoke trailing off his skin—evidence of his ability to endure sunlight, albeit with limitations.

Vampire elf in suit with tattoos looking away

Two weapons were visible on Smoke’s waist, a gun and a sword. Unsheathing the small sword with swift precision, Smoke lunged at Grey’s throat with predatory intent. But the vampire’s onslaught was met with unwavering determination from Grey, who continued his sprint despite Trinity’s desperate pleas for him to halt.

“Grey!” Trinity blared. “Get away from Smoke. Grey!”

Just as Smoke’s blade grazed Grey’s neck, a mysterious hooded figure materialized. With a weight that defied her seemingly delicate appearance, she effortlessly shattered the sword with her bare hand. Following this display of strength, the hooded figure rammed into Smoke with a force that sent him skidding backward, momentarily halting his aggressive advance.

Selene slightly pulled the hood of the magic cloak that shielded vampires from the sun, revealing her lips to Grey. “Why are you here?” she cried, her eyes widening as she took note of Trinity coughing in his arms.

With tears falling from her chin, Selene swiftly took Trinity from Grey’s grasp and handed her over to Smoke. Although Smoke appeared ready to resume hostilities, he found himself immobilized. 

Trinity, now coughing blood onto his shirt, required urgent attention. Though the nature of their relationship remained unclear to Grey, the fear reflected in Smoke’s eyes suggested a closeness. Snapping Smoke from his trance, Trinity applied a forceful push to his back, guiding Smoke toward the awaiting carriage.

As they boarded, Grey’s eyes caught a glimpse of another vampire. Joseph’s hair was long and silver, his face was mature and seemed hardened by war. Moments ago Joseph coldly ordered Smoke to behead Grey. But after seeing Trinity’s state, he looked like any loving father softened by their daughter’s vulnerability. The door closed, and the carriage began to move, leaving the farm behind. 

Vampire elf, Joseph with a cold stare

Why weren’t her pills working anymore?

In the midst of this chaotic scene, Christian rushed out of the house, clad in a similar magic cloak. His eyes chased the departing carriage, screaming for his father to notice him.

In that moment, Grey put all the pieces of the puzzle together—Trinity’s worsening conditions regardless of the pills she consumed, Christian’s smug grin, and Joseph’s return. The problem was obvious, Christian had done something with the real pills.

Fury ignited within Grey as he swiftly removed the bracelets from his pocket, snapping two onto his wrists and one around his ankle. The magical artifacts hummed as Grey restrained his rage. 

While Christian pursued the carriage, Grey ran into the estate, determination guiding his steps straight to Christian’s room.

Grey didn’t care how close Christian was, he would blast a hole in the floor if it meant finding what he was looking for. Grey flipped Christian’s bed, yanked loose flooring from the ground, and emptied every dresser.

Grey’s strength allowed him to tear through the room with a speed and precision that surprised even himself, possibly a result of his mana training. However, time was of the essence, and Grey knew he couldn’t afford to waste a single moment.

Grey’s search led him to a security safe tucked away in Christian’s closet. He reached for the heavy safe with one hand while holding a magazine he discovered in the other. Just as he lifted the secure box, the door swung open, and Christian stormed into the room.

Christian’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You stupid fodder!”

Grey’s anger spilled over. There were so many words he wanted to hurl at Christian, but he knew none would ever emerge. So Grey decided to mockingly raise the nude magazine he had found and threw it defiantly into Christian’s face. Then, Grey hurled the heavy safe out of the window, shattering the glass. He aimed his bracelets at both Christian and the airborne safe, invoking the power of the wind. 

A destructive wind spell emerged from his palms, sending Christian and images of naked vampires flying through the hallway, the library door, and out into the forest trees. 

With the other bracelet, Grey fired a Dust Devil, exploding Christian’s bedroom walls and the safe. 

Grey, determined to control his wind magic, closed his eyes and silently prayed to the wind spirit. 

Please help me land safely with your gentle hand.

Channeling his thoughts, he jumped from the window, activating the bracelet to harness the power of the wind. As Grey descended, the winds responded to his plea, cradling him with an unusual tenderness. It was as if the wind spirit itself had answered his prayer, guiding him safely to the ground.

Upon landing, Grey quickly assessed his surroundings. He noticed a few pills scattered on the ground and inside of the shattered safe. Grey swiftly collected them into his pocket. 

Without wasting a moment, Grey turned and ran down the road, his senses heightened and his mind racing. The wind that had aided his descent now aided his steps, pushing from his hands and propelling Grey forward. 

Grey knew what would happen when he caught up to the carriage, but he was ready for the encounter this time. 

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