Crystal Down

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Inside Swift's Evergreen Forest

published on 2020-10-09, last updated on 2020-10-22 written by Thai “0xReki” Chung, checked with ProWritingAid, edited by jayfeather

I wake up in a tent. What happened? I can clearly recall collapsing due to severe pain after getting poisoned. But contrary to my expectation, my body feels surprisingly energetic.

Where am I? I have this calming feeling of familiarity with the area. I get up and leave the tent and look at my surroundings. It’s night. I’m surrounded by trees and fog. I think I’m in a forest. No, this isn’t any forest! This must be Swift’s Evergreen Forest!

Why am I here? For some reason, they have removed a tree in the centre of his plantation and let me rest there. I notice Sain sitting near the bath.

“Ah, you’ve come to,” he says as he notices me. He’s not looking me in the eyes.

“Wha… What happened?” I ask.

“You were…”, he starts and hesitates.

“I was poisoned, I know. I seem to have somehow survived that. But why are we in Swift’s Magic Space?”

“You… you better have a look at this,” he throws something to me. I catch it. It’s a hand mirror.

“A mirror? Why would you…” I stop and look into the mirror. Wait… I can’t see myself in the mirror! But that can only mean… I was turned into a vampire?!

“It wasn’t poison,” Sain confirms my fear, “there was some vampire blood in the cup.”

“So… why wasn’t I…” I swallow hard. Vampires are known to be under the influence of the one that turned them. It’s common sense to get rid of people that were turned. Or at least demote them to a meaningless position.

“Why weren’t you put down? One does not simply dispose of the second prince’s aid. Plus, according to Swift, you became an Ailuranthrope True Vampire. You aren’t under anyone’s command. I was able to confirm that with my Identifying Crystal. So you aren’t a liability in that regard. Swift is currently travelling to the Crystal Down as we speak. He’s looking for an Awakening Crystal for you.”

“An Awakening Crystal?”

“He said he has an idea of how to restore your functionality in society again. Until he comes back, you should stay in on that islet. Not that you can leave it — it’s surrounded by flowing water.”

He’s right; it’s flowing water.

“My senses do tell me not to cross it… So, I have really become a vampire…” I sigh.

“Well, on the plus side, I have to say your red eyes really suit you.”

“Really?” I look in the mirror again to check. Oh right, there’s that issue.

“So… what about Count Donnell?” I ask.

“He was taken into custody. Of course, he was adamant about not knowing anything at all. However, we were able to determine he is a Lesser Vampire. We don’t know who he answers to. His artificial colourful complexion is to stop him from evaporating under sunlight. It just lessens the sun’s power — he still feels pain when exposed to sunlight.”

“That explains his constant foul mood.”

“I agree. We also believe the plan was to turn prince Matt into a Lesser Vampire puppet. It’s a shame we can’t interrogate him anymore. The effects of his sun protection wore off when we were transporting him to a holding cell.

An investigation into Donnell’s faction has started. They an old influential family, but with this, even they can’t evade an investigation. It could also be a ploy of another faction. As to why you were turned into a True Vampire instead of a Lesser Vampire: we simply don’t know.

Some assume it’s because the cups in Prince Matthews’s room are made from silver. Others say it was divine intervention. Again others say it’s because you were an Ailuranthrope.”

“It still doesn’t feel like I’m a vampire,” I answer, “I mean I don’t seem to feel the thirst for blood as I imagine vampires have.”

“Actually, that’s another reason you’re here. Swift suggested vampires consuming blood is just a symptom of vampires coping with severe Mana Deficiency. This place is full of Mana, so you should be able to recover it without needing to feed on blood.

Swift also proposed using some Mana Potions on you. He says your transformation has weakened you enough to experience symptoms of Mana Deficiency. Since we don’t have any potions to spare right now, the others insisted on surrounding you with running water to keep you from attacking people. Or in this case: me.”

“So you’re my probation observer?”

“That’s basically it. With Swift’s help, I’m sure you can make it.”

“I fear it’s not so easy,” Swift says. He has a troubled look on his face.

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