I am finding it difficult to digest what Ms Pink just said. “What do you mean?”
But Ms Pink is not listening to me. She is already on her phone, calling Seo. “Send me a list of names of the oldest ancients related to the sun. Right now.”
“Does this have something to do with something?”
“I have a feeling my father left me a clue that I missed out.”
“In his log books?”
Ms Pink nods. “I have not found any new clues that make sense. ‘Person A’ is the only clue I have found thus far. There must be more.”
“What if that is all your father knew?”
Ms Pink shakes her head. “There is more. Come with me.” She takes my hand and we speed off to her study. “There must be a hidden name in one of these log books. The answer is in here somewhere.” Ms Pink’s phone alerts her to a new message and she reads it quickly.
“Let me have a look too,” I say.
Ms Pink shares her view of her phone with me and together, we scan the long list of names compiled from the entire history known to mankind. It is a long, long list, to say the least, but one in particular catches my attention.
“God of the sun and creator.”
“Pra, god of the sun and creator, also known as Re,” Ms Pink reads out loud. Our eyes meet and our minds click like clockwork finding the groove. “Mystical ancient super-vampire formed by the anti-power of the sun during a solar eclipse.”
“Kings of the 4th dynasty had the title ‘Son of Re’,” I read straight from the summary included below. “Oh my God. That’s almost all the letters in ‘Person A’.”
“All the letters.” Ms Pink holds my gaze with her flickering pink eyes. “So ne Pra.”
“What does it mean?”
“Young of the sun god.” Ms Pink’s eyes flicker pink again. “A king.”
“A king? Wasn’t your father a king?”
“Not a human king. Young of a god. A super king.”
“Now I am confused.”
“My father’s one clue connects all of them together. It makes sense now.”
“This is where the information from Madam Hyo comes into importance.”
Ms Pink inserts her phone into a jack built into her desk. She taps on it and a 3-D projection of a family tree complete with portraits appears before our eyes. My jaw drops. The technology Ms Pink commands at her finger tips is mind blowing even after all this time.
“Tatua and Malvico—vicis of Ttrowtos, vici of Pra. And this is—”
“That’s you,” I interrupt, finger pointing at Ms Pink’s piercing stare. “Right under Helene.”
“Olympias is listed as a vici of Pra as well. That is unexpected. And the triplets are her vicis.” Ms Pink falls silent for a moment before speaking again. “I have been investigating like a short-sighted human all this while.”
Looking at the family tree, I can see what Ms Pink means. The triplets’ names all begin with Pra. How glaring a clue. “But back then, you weren’t looking for this. You didn’t know about your caepicta yet so there was no reason for you to investigate any further.”
Ms Pink frowns. “Helene is a vici of Pra too. She has never told me about that.”
“Wouldn’t it be common knowledge?”
Ms Pink shakes her head. “Information about supers is hard to come by. Among the ancients, they keep many secrets. Even this record is not to be trusted entirely.”
“How are we ever going to find out the truth then?”
“It has taken me almost three hundred years and I am still looking. But nothing is going to stop me.”
Drawing to my full height, I pat my chest and smile at my beloved princess vampire. “I will help you.”
Ms Pink smiles. “Stupid human.”
“If Helene, Osiris, Olympias and Ttrowtos are all prime vicis of Pra, they are likely to be rivals too.”
I nod in agreement with Seo who has returned to Ms Pink’s castle after another nine hours to conduct more tests on me.
“What about the caepicta?” asks Ms Pink who has not stopped working on this mystery since nine hours ago. “Does Helene have the power to remove it?”
Seo nods. “It is said that prime vicis of Pra have essences strong enough to do and undo a caepicta.”
“Which means either Helene doesn’t know about your caepicta, or she’s the one who did it,” I deduce.
“Or she knows but chose to leave it alone,” Seo adds.
“If she knows about my caepicta, it may explain why she rescued me from Malvico and raised me all those years.”
“If that’s the case, Helene isn’t the one who did it,” Seo reasons.
“Then who else could’ve done it?” I ask out loud, not really expecting an answer.
“I will find out who put the caepicta on my back,” says Ms Pink. “And the bastard will pay.”
I put an arm around Ms Pink and give her one-arm hug immediately, knowing how her heart bleeds as she says that. It is the reason why she refused to rest in the last nine hours, no matter what I said or how I asked.
“The prime vicis of Pra are possible suspects,” I say, trying my best to be helpful.
Seo nods. “And their most powerful vicis.”
“Meaning the triplets and Tatua too,” I say. “Is there a way to tell when a caepicta was created?”
The look on Seo’s face says it all. “It is too hard. Supernatural magic is deceptive, unlike human artefacts.”
“How about motives? Why would any of them imprint the caepicta on her back?” I ask.
Seo rises and begins pacing across the study room. “Caepictas can be used to mark membership. If Helene did it, the purpose would be to mark Ms Pink as a vici of importance to her clan.”
“So we can rule Ttrowtos out since he disappeared for such a long time,” I conclude.
Seo strikes Ttrowtos out from the list. “It is unlikely for Tatua to have done it as well. He lacks the opportunity.”
Ms Pink makes an odd sound. “Tatua could have done it while Malvico was torturing me. I would not have known it was him.”
“Perhaps,” Seo replies.
“What if I had been marked as a child? What if my family was killed because I was marked by a vici of Pra?”
“Ms Pink . . .”
“What if everything Helene has been telling me is a lie?”
“Everything?” I look doubtful. “It would be hard to cover everything up if she were lying.” Looking at the family tree again, I realize there’s one more character that has been absent this entire time. “What about Osiris?” I ask, finger pointing at his section of the family tree.
“He vanished, like Ttrowtos.”
“Another mysterious disappearance?”
“According to folklore, Osiris is the son of Pra but he rebelled against Pra out of jealousy. He longed to rule like Pra and coveted the power within. As a result, he plotted and one day, managed to steal Pra’s essence. He turned the essence into a snake which bit Pra and poisoned him with its venom. Because the snake was formed by the essence of Pra himself, he was unable to counter it and was destroyed. Thus, Osiris became the new vampire king with the snake as his companion but not long after that he disappeared along with his snake.”
“This sounds like one of the Greek mythology stories,” I comment.
“Many of them have been painted as mythology, folklore, legends. What humans do not know is how close they are to reality,” Ms Pink adds grimly.
“But these stories are kind of twisted and . . . cruel.”
“Cruelty is human’s second nature.”
“If cruelty is second, what’s first?” I ask.
I roll my eyes. “Ms Pink.”
“You are no longer human.”
“Humans aren’t that bad,” I rebut, still feeling rather protective of the species I used to be, not so long ago.
“I know. I fell in love with one.”
A silly grin dominates my face for a long while after that.
“What’s on your mind?” I ask Ms Pink as we lie in bed together the next morning. I had finally managed to persuade Ms Pink to take a break after one whole night of theory-making and questioning and by this point, it was more for selfish reasons than simply concern for Ms Pink overworking herself.
This level of cheesiness is startling. “Me?” I ask, trying not to sound too surprised or pleased.
“What about me?”
“You have come a long way.”
“True . . . I literally came all the way into your world.”
“You cannot become human again. You are immortal.”
“Ms Pink, are you okay?”
Now this is a surprise I fail to hide. “Why are you thanking me?”
“Because you have given so much to me.”
“Ms Pink.” I smile into those simmering eyes of faded pink and black. Then I lean in to kiss her. But Ms Pink pushes me away before our lips can touch. “W-Wah?”
“No sex until Seo takes your EEL.”
“I was only going to kiss you.”
“Kisses lead to sex.”
“That’s not true.”
“I will not risk it.”
I snort, half amused, half exasperated. “Said like having sex with me is fatal.”
“Taeyeon, you are being ridiculous.”
I pout. “When will this EEL experiment end?”
Ms Pink frowns. “It is not an experiment. Understanding your EEL is important.”
“I know that. I didn’t really mean experiment when I said it.” Releasing a heavy sigh, I roll away from Ms Pink.
“Where are you going?”
“To the other end of the bed.”
“You are being silly.”
“I can’t believe you rejected my kiss.”
Arms slip around my waist from behind and a body presses up against mine. “I will give you the kiss you want after Seo reads your EEL.”
“And I’ll reject you.”
“Don’t hug me. You’re making this harder.”
“You are becoming more childish.”
“Yes, that’s right. I’m childish. I’m immature. You’re the one in control. You’re the smart one.”
“All this is true.”
“Argh!” I spring up from the bed and march to the bathroom.
Ms Pink is standing between me and the bathroom in the next instant. “I will not tolerate behaviour like this.”
“I may be immortal, but I’m pretty much still human in every other way. It’s not unreasonable for me to get upset.”
“Why would you be upset?”
“Wouldn’t you be upset if you get rejected in bed?”
“It is a legitimate reason. Why are you behaving like this?”
“Because I feel like it.”
Ms Pink takes two steps forward and stands an arm’s length from me. “Fight me.”
“Let it go.”
“Let what go?”
I’m still confused when a blast of heat smacks me in the face. At once, I push against it, forming a shield around myself. “What is this for?” I yell.
“Hit me back,” says Ms Pink.
“Then I will hit you.”
Flames burst through, taking me by surprise, but I push back with another energy shield and wrap myself in a bubble. “Stop it!”
“Are you still upset?”
The flames vanish and I drop my energy shields, panting a little from the sudden exertion of strength. On the other side, a beautiful princess vampire stands, staring hard at me. Our eyes meet and I fall even deeper in love with her.
A few hours later, I almost cheer when Seo finally arrives to measure my EEL. Impatience bubbles over and I’m glad to be allowed off the EEL reader that I am beginning to dislike more and more.
“How many more times do I have to do this?” I ask Seo.
“Six more readings will be sufficient to draw a conclusive equation.”
“Alright. Six more.” Turning to Ms Pink, I say with a smile. “You’ll have to fight me if you want me to step on the EEL reading machine after the remaining six times.”
Ms Pink’s eyes flare in phantom pink. “I will.”
Seo steps between us, green eyes flashing but her jaw drops when Ms Pink breaks into laughter. “Ms Pink?”
“There is no need for worry. Report your findings to me as soon as you can.”
“Yes, Ms Pink.”
With a nod, Ms Pink regains her business-like airs again and takes my hand. “Come.”
“Where are we going?”
“We have a trial to attend.”