Hildreth closed his eyes and he began his dance.
He didn’t think about the different steps.
He didn’t worry about looking like an idiot.
He danced a dance for one.
But, in his mind, Elsie was there, dancing alongside him, matching his steps. Their hands almost touching. Their moves a blend of grace and death.
All of his anger and anxiety left him and he felt peace.
Master Shinowa entered the training room and saw Hildreth dancing.
He smiled and whispered, “Thank you, old friend.” He cleared his throat.
Hildreth ended his dance. “Master.”
“Test me again. I can do it. I know I can.”
“Are you so certain?”
“Very well, then. Go to your room. I will summon you when I am ready.”
As he waited in his room, Hildreth’s thoughts turned back in time to Master Initskay. He didn’t fight it. He let the thoughts come.
The memories that hurt.
The memories that made him feel proud.
Master Shinowa’s daughter returned and led him to the training room.
Hildreth slid the door open, entered the room, and shut the door.
The reality-altering gas fwoofed him in the face, causing him to hack like a chain smoker.
Ambrose laughed and laughed. “What’s the matter? Got something caught in your throat, loser?”
“Really? Loser? That’s the best you could come up with?”
“No. I can come up with so much better. You just aren’t worth the effort.”
Hildreth smiled. “We’ll see.” He ran at the vampire.
Ambrose ducked and dodged his attacks. “I see you’re still unarmed. I will win. You know I will win. You can’t win. You can only lose. Lose to me over and over and over. And trust me, hunter. You will lose everything to me. Your life. Your sanity. Your Elsie. I will steal it all away.”
Hildreth could feel his anger bubble upwards. “No.” He pushed his anger down and focused on his moves. Focused on hitting harder and faster and ignoring the heck out of Ambrose’s words.
He focused solely on the dance.
Until at last, he threw Ambrose across the room.
Ambrose started to get up.
Hildreth ran to him and punched his fist right above the vampire’s heart.
Ambrose winked at him and disappeared.
“I did it.” He threw his head back and laughed. “I did it! Ohmygosh! I did it.”
Master Shinowa stopped in front of him. He didn’t say a word. He simply bowed.
And that one move said it all.