Maksym & Poppi

Chapter One

Maksym was almost to his brothers mansion so he decided just to relax a bit. It was time to check on him again and make sure he wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t to anybody or to the land around him but he was tired and he wasn’t quite sure he was mentally ready yet to deal with whatever crap Lakopa was doing now. Lakopa was older by about twenty years and just like him, he looked a lot like their mother. However, he was more like their father in attitude. Maksym knew his parents never had much more than a sexual relationship but still, he wasn’t sure how his dad even ever got his mother in bed with him. He didn’t think on this too long, instead he just enjoyed how beautiful it was in this area.

It was only when the sun started threatening to go down that he forced himself to get up from his cozy spot underneath the gorgeous trees and continue on to his brothers mansion. When he arrived he walked right in, rolling his eyes when he smelled the incense in his house. Sure enough, his brother was up to something bad. “Lakopa!” Maksym called, patience already out the window. Lakopa was in front of him in mere seconds “welcome brother”

“don’t welcome brother me, I smell that”

“smell what” he punched Lakopa and Lakopa cursed “fuck, please just mind your own business”

“I wont and you know that. That’s for keeping someone knocked out so I’m especially not minding my business this time. What’re you doing and to who”

“Let me explain fully first”

“is the person wounded?”

“Not really”

“define not really”

“she’s fine”

“Just hurry and tell me” Maksym said with anger and disappointment “I’m lonely and I’m about as good as dad is at making people want to be around me even when I desperately want them to want to be around me well….I met this girl I really like and she hates me and well….I got tired of failing so….she’s upstairs” Maksym face palmed “I’m going to ask you a question and I will kick your ass even harder than I would if you just told me the truth so don’;t you dare lie”

“what?”

“did you force yourself on her?”

“even I’m not that asinine. I just sort of…well…kidnapped her and I’ve been keeping her asleep because she’s kind of feisty. If I don’t have a plan for when she wakes up one or both of us is going to get severely hurt.”

“Lakopa, are you insane? What if her family found out it was you and hired hunters? Do you think I want to find out you have been killed because of your stupidity.”

“Maksym…”

“Shut up and take me to her now.” Lakopa let out a sigh and started upstairs. “I wish I could say I’m surprised, but this is just like you.”

He nearly hit his brother again when he saw the unconscious young woman. If it wasn’t for the fact that she looked completely unharmed he might have given him a real beating. “Happy?”

“I’m still fucking furious actually.” He went over and checked the girl. “You will wake her and you will apologize. You know how stupid and selfish this is. Maybe if you grew up and showed some compassion and sensitivity then maybe women wouldn’t hate you.”

“Ive really tried with her…”

“but you’re just like dad, if you did make any progress you just ruined it, you ruined it the second you decided to just make her do what you want”

“I’m sorry”

“Truly be sorry by never doing something like this again. Now wake her up and apologize”

“she is pretty far from home. Maybe we should get her closer first?”

“It’s risky doing what you’re doing, especially since she’s a human woman. You need to wake her up and face her. If she hits you you better just take it”

“I’d never hurt her”

“I know you’re too selfish to realize it but you’ve already hurt her by doing this. You kidnapped her, you took away whatever security she may have felt. She might spend the rest of her life nervous someone might do it again” He could see how bad his brother felt but he needed to know Lakopa understood what he had done.

Lakopa sighed as he moved over to the girl and rested his hand on her forehead. “Wake up.” He stepped back as her eyes blinked open then quickly grabbed Maksym when she came furiously up off the bed at the sight of him.

“You.” she snapped, swaying a little as she picked up her pillow and threw it at him. She missed and reached for the vase on the bed side table.

Maksym moved across the room and grabbed the vase in one hand and her wrist gently in the other. “Easy.” He said.

“Let me go.” She released the vase and swung at him.

Maksym tossed the vase onto the bed and grabbed her hand. “That’s enough, you don’t want to hurt yourself. You may be feeling a little dizzy from that spell so please, calm down.”

“Screw you.”

“See, I told you.” Lakopa said.

“Oh shut up.” Maksym backed the woman over to the bed and made her sit. “Take a breath.” She glared at him, but seemed to calm a little so he let her go. “I am sorry for what my brother has done.” He snapped his fingers at Lakopa. “Beg for forgiveness, idiot.”

She glared over at Lakopa but through her anger she also saw a bit of hurt in her. Maksym wondered if he did actually have a shot with her before he became impatient and did this. Lakopa looked at the floor to the side of him as he said “I’m sorry…I just didn’t want to be alone any longer…my brother has reminded me that’s no cause for kidnapping though….if I can make it up to you…I really want to”

“Look at her damn it, face what you did. You’re still being a coward” Maksym reprimanded. Lakopa made himself look at her and felt even worse. He wasn’t sure how Maksym always brought him back to reality but he was glad he had him. He mostly thought of Maksym as a pain in the ass but he wished his brother had been there when he got this stupid idea. He really liked this girl, much more than any before and right now, he felt incredibly small and like a complete asshole.

“I’m truly sorry….it wont happen again…what can I do for you to apologize?” she let out an angry breath “first tell me how long I’ve been here”

“two days” Maksym sighed “she’s been here two days?”

“yes….” The girl spoke again “god damn it, I was doing something! My sisters been waiting for me to help her complete her journey!”

“You have a sister?”

“believe it or not I’ve told you that before asshole. Apologize by getting me back home then to her faster and then apologize by never coming anywhere near me or my family again”

Lakopa opened his mouth to protest, but Maksym shot him a glare and he shut his mouth and nodded. “Of course, as you wish.”

“I’ll come with the two of you.” Maksym said. “It would be better and safer.”

“I’m not going to do anything.” Lakopa murmured.

“If you want trust then you will show me you can be an adult, until then I will chaperone this little trip.”

“Fine, we should go then.” He turned and started out of the room and Maksym helped the woman to her feet.

“You will have to excuse him, he can be somewhat childish.”

“Yes, kidnapping is simply childish.”

“I don’t think I caught your name.”

“Theia.”

“Nice to meet you, I am Maksym.”

“Yes, this is my brother.” Lakopa said as he made sure he had his key. “He is the adult of the family.” He couldn’t look at Theia now. He knew it was cowardly and rude not to look her in the eye when he spoke, but he thought it was for the best if he kept his gaze from her. He was sure she would feel more comfortable that way. Maksym sighed, knowing this trip was going to be more than eventful.

She walked at a determined pace right out of his home, seeming to know where she was going. It prompted Maksym to ask “have you been here before?”

“yes but I don;t feel like reminiscing on how I met your brother” she lightly scoffed “I just…I’m so freaking angry at you Lakopa…angry and disappointed..” They walked out and Lakopa almost cautiously approached her “I’m carrying you?”

“I suppose” he picked her up, holding her tightly “I’ll follow you since I don’t know where she’s from” Lakopa took off, having no doubts his brother could keep his pace. Theia kept her arms tightly crossed, having no desire to touch Lakopa any more than she had to to help her sister on her journey. She couldn’t believe this horses ass had caused her sister to be stuck up on a mountain unable to finish her journey. Poppi should have long since made it to the final trial and completed it together with her. She hoped Poppi wasn’t angry, sitting up their stewing. She hoped her sister knew she realized how important all this was to her and that she hadn’t taken her position as her partner in the journey lightly.

Maksym and Lakopa got her home in no time and she quickly gathered a few things before allowing Lakopa to lift her again. “So, what is this journey your sister is doing?” Maksym asked.

“It’s a set of trials she must complete. She’s up on that mountain.” She pointed off into the distance. “I was supposed to meet her there, but someone decided to kidnap me.”

“I already said I’m sorry, I’ll keep saying it if you need me to.” Lakopa interjected.

She crossed her arms tighter over her chest. “Anyway, it’s important I get there as quickly as possible. She’s probably mad at me.”

“I’ll tell her it’s my fault and she can take it out on me.” Lakopa said. “I mean it’s the truth and you shouldn’t get in trouble because of me.”

Chapter Two

Theia looked up at him confused a moment. Lakopa caring if someone took the blame for him was surprising. The fact he even cared if she got yelled at was surprising. Just a few moments ago it was more obvious than ever he only thought of himself but now he sounded once again like he could be a better person. She still wanted to wash her hands of dealing with him after this though. Poppi had been telling her since the day she had started to develop feelings for Lakopa she was being an idiot and like always, her older sister was right. Even though it would explain everything she was almost embarrassed to add to the long list of things he had now kidnapped her too.

“I haven’t been this way in a long time.” Maksym said as they slowed. The woods they had to cross through had thick underbrush and drop offs into underground cavers. Even they knew when it was a good idea to be cautious. Being immortal didn’t mean you went carelessly through life, at least that is what he thought. You had to be careful and learn to move with the times.

“We used to play here as children.” Lakopa said as he stepped over a fallen tree.

“Both of you?” Theia asked. “I mean, I can see you coming here, but your brother seems so much more…mature.”

“It was a good way to develop our skills.” He replied.

“A stupid and dangerous way, but a good way nonetheless.” Maksym agreed.

“Tracking was the most fun. There are so many ways to lose someone in here.”

“Or to get lost.”

Lakopa looked embarrassed. “That only happened once.”

“You got lost?” Theia asked.

“Yes, I got turned around trying to hide from Maksym and before I knew it I was completely lost. When you’re a child, you don’t remember you have certain abilities like night vision so the woods seem even more terrifying. I could see perfectly, but my mind filled with worst case scenarios. Maksym found me of course.”

“Taking care of him even back then but believe it or not he can manage himself at times” Theia finally smiled “I’ve seen him be semi adultish at times” They continued talking about the things they had done together when they were children during those rare times they were with the same parent or their parents were together a few days. Once again Theia wondered if Lakopa would be any better as a person if he had been raised mostly by their mother like Maksym. He was just like their father and his side of the family but thats what he had grown up with. She told herself to not go down that road again, to not make excuses for him and allow herself to have romantic or sympathetic feelings. Kidnapping her had been the final straw, the wake up call that her sister was right and she hoped she could be strong enough to remember that he would be a terrible being to be with.

They heard a few twigs snap and the two vampires froze, Lakopa ready to set Theia down to fight. They couldn’t sense anything dangerous despite the fact for a few brief moments they felt an ominous presence. They went on even more careful for a time, slowly finding the confidence they had before. Lakopa felt sadness well back up inside him when he realized they were already halfway through these woods. It would be hard to never see Theia again. If he was being honest with himself it would be soul crushing because even when she said she wanted him to stay away forever he felt like his heart crumbled in his chest.

He wondered if this was love but then again he was still a selfish ass with her. It was an odd noise that caught Lakopas attention again. He had never heard such a thing before and he could tell his brother nor Theia had either “what the hell” she said and Lakopa shushed her. If there was anything she hated it was shushing but she knew it wasn’t the time to bite his head off. They felt something coming, could hear it snapping trees so Lakopa hastily set Theia down. Whatever it was wasn’t touching her, he owed her that much after her putting up with him all this time.

The being that came out almost made Theia scream. It was like something straight out of a nightmare. It seemed to float in the air, legs weren’t visible atall. It’s body length had to be at least nine feet and it’s teeth looked sharp enough to shred your skin with even a light graze. It had long horns and intensely bright white eyes. It looked out of it’s mind and any creature with long claws like it had you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near if it wasn’t being completely docile. It screeched this time, scaring Theia all over again.

“Stagger your attacks Lakopa.”

“Right.”

Maksym rushed in first, dodging the sharp claws and Lakopa came in right after, pushing off the ground and catching it under what he guessed was its chin. He jumped back as it came at him, only to take a blow from Maksym from behind. As Lakopa came in for another attack, the creature swung back, catching him across the chest and sending him flying back into a tree. Theia’s shocked yelp caught its attention and it turned on her. She was frozen and even as Maksym attacked it, it went for her, seeing her as the weakest target. Lakopa pushed himself up and grabbed her as it swung its claws. He felt the sting on his back, but he lifted her and bound out of the way.

“Lakopa, are you…”

“Get up that tree and don’t come down until it’s dead.”

“But…”

“Just go, you can yell at me later.”

Maksym’s adrenaline rose at the sight of his wounded brother and began fighting it even harder, still making sure to fight as smart as possible. This thing was powerful and didn’t seem to care all that much when they hurt it or at least felt like they were hurting it. Theia watched in horror, wishing with all that she was she still had her sword. It was probably gone to her forever now. She had it before she blacked out from whatever magic Lakopa had used but it was obvious he just left her sword there, out in the open where anybody could have stolen it. She could buy a new one but that wasn’t going to help her right at this moment. She kept looking at Lakopa’s back, the wound he had taken for her. Why on earth did he have to be so damn confusing.

Maksym and Lakopa took turns distracting and striking at the creature, both of them ignoring the blood that had soaked into Lakopa’s shirt. He would heal, they knew this and it wouldn’t do them any good to get hung up on it now. Maksym could see that his brother was even more pale than usual and would make sure he fed before they continued on their way. He was proud of his brother today, for how he was manning up and doing the right thing, even protecting Theia. Even if things ended completely between she and Lakopa, Maksym knew it would be an experience his brother would never forget. Maksym jumped on the things back and Lakopa went for it’s head, his feet planting firmly in the lower jaw while his hands gripped the top and wrenched back. The mouth was forced wider and wider and Maksym kept the things hands from reaching for his brother until there was a resounding pop and then crack as he dislocated its jaw and then broke its neck.

Maksym made sure it was dead before saying to his brother “you need blood to properly heal”

“You offering?”

“he’s already tired though and…well….it’s not as important I’m at my best…you can take it from me…” Lakopa was shocked as he turned to look at Theia “you don’t have to do that…I’ve put you through hell Theia, I know that…protecting you was the least you deserved” Maksym was surprised as well she was offering. He didn’t know how his brother had found this woman but he was damn lucky. Most would have rather let their kidnapper die even if they got wounded protecting them. She came down from the tree and walked over to him “it’s okay, go ahead”

He needed no more prompting, he had been desiring the taste of her blood for a long time anyway. Not only that but taking blood from another was an intimate act so there was no one on earth he had rather feed off of than her, his beautiful, much too good for him Theia. She gasped in an adorable way when his fangs first sank in and was embarrassed when she actually enjoyed the feel of him feeding. She knew he could probably tell and wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be a dick about it later.

Lakopa only took enough to bring his color back and get rid of the lightheadedness. He pulled back, healing the small wounds and turning his face away as he thanked her, not wanting to see the flush to his skin or the desire in his eyes. That would be to much for her to ignore. “Are you good now brother?” Maksym asked.

Lakopa cleared his throat. “Yes, I should much faster now.” He pulled his shirt off and frowned at it. “This was one of my favorites.”

“Well one of, is good, that means you have others.” Maksym replied.

“Yes I know.” He slipped it back on. “It’ll do for now.” He felt more in control now as he turned to Theia. “I should continue carrying you, it’s still dangerous.”

“Alright.” He lifted her, ignoring the slight burning still radiating in his back. It would fade soon. “I can’t believe you just ordered me around. Try not to make it a habit.” She wasn’t actually angry.

“I’ll try not too unless it’s to keep you safe. Stubborn woman, what did you think you were going to do?”

“Well if someone hadn’t gone and lost my sword.”

He sighed. “Shit, it’s in my house. I put it away and forgot about it. I’ll send it to you once I’m home.”

“I’m glad it’s not lost to me at least”

“I may have forgotten you have a sister but I did not forget how important that sword if to you…it’s why I put it up for you when I was panicking about what I had done”

“Panicking?”

“I didn’t think about your feelings before I took you but when I got you home what I had done sunk in…how you might feel about me after….I never intended to keep you out so long but I didn’t know what to do and I was scared….”

“You still could have taken me back home instead of keeping me”

“yes but…I was continuing to be selfish….I was scared if I took you home you’d run off or tell the other villagers…either way…there was no stopping the damage…I’ve lost you and I know it’s my fault” emotion tore at her heart, her heart getting the better of her brain. She didn’t know what to say and she certainly didn’t know what she wanted any longer.

They made it safely to the mountain and up it, now just heading in the direction her sister should be in. Poppi spotted them before her and jumped out angrily “I knew it had something to do with you Lakopa! God damn it you’re the worst thing to happen to her and this family. I’ve been up here having to worry about her you know and not only that, taking this long is going to look really bad for me!” Theia pushed out of Lakopas arms “sister please, lets just get this done”

“why are you so late?”

“I think we should talk about that after Lakopa leaves”

“what did he do?”

“Poppi…please” Poppi sighed “alright….sister….I just…I love you, you know that right?”

“I know Poppi”

“It’s my job as your big sister to lay into jerks who don’t deserve your company”

“poppi”

“alright alright, just get out of here you two” she said, now looking at Lakopa and Maksym. “something attacked us along the way. I think we should stay. We wont interfere, just watch over you two”

Chapter Three

“If you wish, just don’t cause trouble.” Poppi said. Her voice was irritated, but Maksym’s heart did a little flip anyway. There was something cute about her scowling face.

“We wouldn’t dream of it.” Maksym replied with a smile and her cheeks reddened. “Lead the way ladies.”

The women turned away and the men followed, keeping their senses open. Lakopa sighed and Maksym gave him a slight nudge. “Hmm?”

“Are you alright, brother?”

“No, but it’s my own fault. I should have been more patient and understanding, but I haven’t a tender bone in my body it seems. She hasn’t even said if she forgives me.”

“I disagree with you a bit. You put yourself between her and a monster, that’s a pretty big gesture.”

“I just reacted.”

Maksym lowered his voice even more. “Sounds like love.”

“I’ve been wondering the same thing…admitting I love her is frightening though…I am our fathers son and though he loves our mother, no matter how much he wanted to he could never get better. He could never act decent enough to keep her around” Maksym began to open his mouth but Lakopa lifted a silencing finger “I know you don’t believe our father loves our mother but I lived with him, you didn’t. You know…the only woman he sleeps with is mom…he’d kill me for telling you all this because you’ve always been moms little tattle tail which is why I never have but when mom makes him leave he always cries. He loves our mother more than anything but he and I seem to be broken”

“You two can change, you just have to man up and do it. His downfall is believing he can’t be different. If you love Theia be a man that deserves to be with her. Don’t excuse your bad behavior, change it. Dad only has himself to blame for things not working with mom. I often wonder how he ever gets her to be with him at all” Lakopa looked over at Theia then nodded, determined to change for her. He loved her and he vowed to himself that he wasn’t going to be their fathers mini me any longer. Even if she rejected him now, he’d change and hopefully if he did that, maybe later in life she’d forgive him.

“So what exactly are we doing?” Maksym asked as they trekked up the rocky path, cold air tugging at their clothes.

“There’s a stone I must retrieve.” Poppi answered.

“Magical?”

“Yes.”

“That means we will have to careful.” Lakopa said.

“Oh really?” Poppi said in a still irritated, sarcastic tone.

“Poppi, easy.” Theia jumped in. She understood her sister’s anger, but Lakopa hadn’t said that to be malicious.

“Don’t worry about it.” Lakopa interjected. “It’s well deserved.”

Poppi sighed. “How much do you two know about magic?”

“We know enough. It’s almost cliche that vampires tend to have large libraries. Both of our parents have one as do I and Lakopa. I think it’s habit to want to collect certain items when you can live forever.” He chuckled. “It’s a bit silly, but it’s worth it.”

“I have a lot of books, though my collection probably isn’t as impressive as yours.” Poppi replied, feeling heat rise in her cheeks.

“Then you’ll have to come by some time and go through my collection, you can even take a few if you wish. You can even have Theia accompany you if it makes you feel safer.”

“I’d love to come and I wont need my sister to accompany me. I’ve never met a creature I feared”

“That’s true, Poppi will stare down anything” Theia added. Maksyms heart danced with excitement that she might come to see him sometime. He was glad he went to check on his brother even though he hadn’t felt like doing it this time. Not only to help him make the right choices with Theia but so he could meet Theias sister. Poppi was beautiful with her long hair that tumbled down to her hips and those fierce brown eyes. It was something with the men in his family, they all seemed to fall for spirited women. He decided to ask about her lion “how long have you had him?”

“I found him as a cub” she scratched his mane “he’s an absolute sweetheart but has ripped a few throats out to protect me”

“If I’m not being annoying I’d like to ask another question”

“Unless I tell you to quite yourself you can ask whatever you want, you aren’t the one I’m mad at”

“why are you doing this? Is it some sort of tradition with your village?”

“among the priestess’s yes, my life was decided at birth. One of the elders saw something in my eyes even as a newborn and I’m glad they did. I just hope me taking this long hasn’t made them think less of me…though don’t worry Theia. What’s most important to me is that you made it and are safe”

“I’m still sorry”

“Theia if you apologize again I might have to punch Lakopa so please don’t” Theia nodded. Maksym and Lakopa followed closely, ready to protect them but no trouble truly stirred up as they completed the different tasks Poppi needed to do on the mountain. At first they didn’t understand why she needed her sister but the task came upon them “are you ready Theia?”

“Of course Poppi” Theia pulled something out of her pocket and handed it to her sister. Poppi broke it, sliding her part of the item on a gold chain which she put on her wrist then did the same for her sister. Lakopa and Maksym grew nervous since they didn’t seem like they were going to explain to them what was about to happen. The two women looked so serious so they knew this was a big part of what they were doing.

They kneeled in front of eachother then held eachothers hands as they began speaking in the language of her village. Neither Maksym or Lakopa could understand but Maksym was planning on having Poppi teach him if she was willing after all this was over. Colorful circles formed all around them, on the ground, on the mountain side and in the air. It surprised Lakopa the most since he hadn’t realize Theia could do anything like this. She only ever talked about being good with her sword and hand to hand combat. Both men wondered if this was actually some magic from the mountain itself that these women were channeling.

An opening formed in the mountain and when they approached it had a long staircase going down into pitch darkness “we’re going in there?” Maksym asked and Theia quickly answered “my sister hates pointless questions, yes we are” Poppi blushed, losing a bit of her edge when it came to this incredibly handsome and seemingly kind vampire. “could I walk first then?’ he asked, hoping that didn’t count as a stupid question “this is my task, I have to go down first but Theia, you don’t have to continue on with me if you don’t want to”

“are you kidding? Of course I’m coming” Poppi smiled, hugging her sister “alright, just stay close to me”

“I will”

“This place feels kind of off.” Maksym said as they traveled down.

“Like there’s something sinister waiting in the shadows.” Lakopa added.

“There’s no way it’s as easy as opening a door.”

“More magic?”

“You two want to share your theories?” Poppi asked from the front.

“Well it’s a test, so odds are there’s something down there that’s more dangerous than a stone.” Maksym answered.

“Perhaps the door was the test.”

“That’s too easy. Anyone can open a door if they have the right key. There’s something else down there besides what you’re looking for.”

“And it has no smell.” Lakopa added.

Theia tightened her grip on her sister’s hand. “What do you think it is then? What’s waiting for us?”

“You don’t have to worry, we have your back.” Lakopa reassured her. “I know your sister has to retrieve the stone herself, but if anything tries harming either of you, Maksym and I will fight it for you.”

Poppi may have resisted their help more since this was her own task but Theia was with her and she’d never put pride before her sisters well being. She decided this was also a chance to try and see some good in Lakopa since her little sister wouldn’t heed her warnings. Theia wasn’t an idiot so there had to be something to like besides his looks. There was no telling how deep they had gone into this mountain when eerie singing filled the air around them. Theia gasped and moved closer to her sister, hating once again she was without a sword. Poppi grabbed an arrow as her lion began to lightly growl. The boys seemed to decide what to do without even talking to eachother. Lakopa stayed behind the girls while Maksym got infront of them. Whatever was singing laughed then spoke in a feminine voice “It’s rare men are in here. Normally just women are sent…another priestess I presume” her last four words menacing.

“I am” Poppi spoke with complete confidence, not willing to be intimidated by anything, especially with two vampires and her lion on her side. The air became thinner suddenly, Poppi could only think it was the creatures doing. There was enough to breath still but it didn’t feel like quite enough to her body. She had been told this trip was dangerous but she hadn’t realized how dangerous this would be. This whole time she hadn’t understood why some never come back and why the ones that come back are so hailed in the community. In this moment, she finally knew. Poppi had previously thought there was only one but five came rushing at them, one jumping on Poppi before she could fire a shot. She bucked it off, grabbing an arrow and simply stabbing the creature with it instead of fireing.

Maksym’s fist connected with another that came for her and Lakopa kept close to Theia, moving around her to fight any of the creatures that came their way. “Keep moving.” Maksym ordered as he grabbed one of the humanoid creatures and threw it up the stairs. “Go, now.”

Poppi raced down the stairs with Maksym close behind and Lakopa scooped Theia into his arms, uncaring in that moment if it angered her. “You creatures are all the same.” That voice came again. “Pathetically fighting your way to the bottom and not realizing you will have to do the same back up.”

A glow showed as they neared bottom and the creatures attacked relentlessly, the leader speaking in that sing song voice, taunting and teasing them. Maksym readied himself to grab Poppi as soon as she had the stone. He could carry her out much faster than she herself could run. There was a large pool of water at the bottom of the steps and in the center, sitting on a pedestal was a blue stone, glowing softly. There was a stone slap inlaid in the ground and Poppi knelt to read it. “It says, two can go where one cannot.”

“Put me down, Lakopa.” Theia said and Lakopa lowered her feet to the ground even though he didn’t want to. Theia approached the water and could see a narrow stone beam and on either side deep water that dropped into darkness. “I have to help you across.”

“We’ll keep them off of you.” Maksym said. “No rush.” He winked at Poppi and she blushed.

Maksym smiled, happy to see he could get a reaction out of her. He would love to dwell on her beautiful, blushing face and the possibilities of the future but he snapped himself back into the fact he needed to keep these things away from Poppi and Theia. Lakopa gave his full concentration to the humanoid monsters as well, knowing everything around here was incredibly powerful. Two began attacking Maksym, their many red eyes swirling, making the creature all the more offsetting. Lakopa helped his brother though soon found a third on his back, how many of these damned things were in here? Fire sprang forth from their hands but it didn’t matter to Maksym nor Lakopa since the girls weren’t at their side. One good thing they inherited from their father was the fact not even direct flame could burn their skin.

Meanwhile the two women had crossed and were coming back, Poppi holding tightly to the stone she needed to return to their village. Maksym and Lakopa took down the creatures and scooped the two women up, running as fast as they could back out and into the bright light of day. They didn’t stop right away however, the two vampires didn’t rest for a second until they were off the mountain. “thank you” Theai said, actually hugging Lakopa. She was grateful the two of them had come, finding forgiveness in her heart for Lakopa kidnapping her.

He hadn’t hurt her nor done anything to her she could see and now he had made sure she and her sister made it out of that place alive. Lakopas heart trembled as he hugged her back “I’m so sorry Theia…” he whispered “I forgive you” Poppi no longer had a desire to ask what transpired. She figured their help today was repentance enough. Maksym checked Poppi for wounds, relieved to see she was unharmed. “why are you checking me when you were the one doing most the fighting?” she asked and Maksym answered “I just had to know you were okay. I’m already quite fond of you Poppi” she blushed again and he grinned “you’re adorable you know”

“Me? adorable?” a man had never called her adorable before. Once they were properly rested the vampires carried the girls home. Lakopa and Theai going to her house while Poppi and Maksym went to the priestess’s. “you’re alive!” one gasped, hugging her tightly “you guys could have warned me how dangerous that was”

“I’m sorry, we all wanted to but it’s not allowed. I don’t know why it’s tradition but you were meant to go into it blind” Poppi sighed, pulling out the stone to show her “You did it” the priestess said happily then finally asked “who is this vampire?”

“You know Lakopa right?”

“Oh yes” the woman sounded pained but it didnt surprise Maksym.”this is his brother but I assure you he’s much better company”

“well I’ve never been one to judge someone on the rest of their family” she offered her hand and Maksym shook it. When everything was done and Poppi was given her official place among them Maksym offered to walk her home. He wound up spending the night there with her and then many days after. Before they knew it the two of them were a couple and Maksym couldn’t be happier. For once in his life, he was incredibly grateful for his brothers mischief.

~ The End

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