Early this morning, I woke up from the usual nightmare. My body was drenched in sweat which made me grab another shower. Although I’d taken one the night before to get the horrid smell of smoke from my body. I had a late night hanging out with Michael – the bus boy from dinner. Although I didn’t spend as much time with him as I had expected as Haley showed up with his supply of drugs. Gregory instead kept me company. It was new for both of us. We had fun.

I’d love to go on about last night but I don’t kiss and tell. This morning I was up, showered and dressed before the first of my three roommates were even roused.  I paced nervously in the same getup I wore last night. A midnight laundering session was so much fun.

We all then waited in different rooms waiting for our Ad Aetatam to come.  It went in alphabetical order by our last name, which meant I went before Aaron and after Ross, Jace went way before us. But we weren’t in the same area. I was Cesari but I was Minorem – lesser or minor Venatori. We had our own little waiting room and our own little bitty ceremony crap to endure. There were only three Minorem in my class. The other two were full human and older than I was as they were victims of the same rogue werewolf pack attack.  Both were hell bent on revenge. The wolves in question were already dead.  But that didn’t stop them from wanting to kill every werewolf out there – for better or worse.  I paced while they prattled on about how they were going to take down every wolf. They were that bad ass. Not even quite, I could wipe the floor with them.

The Ad Aetatem is a series of three rituals. The first requires a sacrifice – a rabbit or some other furry critter raised for the sole purpose of slaughtering it in the good name of the Venatori. Another atrocity to apply to the Venatori name – the slaughter of innocent creatures.  Both my father and mother were in attendance. It was a simple right of passage – one that shows a break in familial ties to become our own person to no longer be bound by their house rules.

It was symbolic for me in no shape or form – neither of my parents had guided me down the right path.  Dae’lin and Margo should have been the people that had been my parents in this. But they weren’t legally my kin.  It should be the last time I ever see my parents again and definitely the last time I see them together.  My mother flew immediately back to Colorado. My father I guess went to his apartment in the Apex Unlimited building where he lived in NYC.

The next part of the whole shebang was a vision quest, a non-lethal toxin administered to each participant. we hallucinate what the universe has in store for us. I am not impressed that the first time I have ever done drugs was in the form of a society-accepted ritual where I’m forced to do it.

I tripped just like every other kid of 18 in the Venatori. My visions were erratic.  I saw monsters of many varieties flashing around my mind in no particular order. I saw ropes tied to them, I saw crowns or wreathes of thorns or some such head piece types. Is saw a pair of deep blue eyes and the soft scent of apple pie floating through the air. Saw is the right word, I didn’t smell it but it’s that cartoon effect coming off apple pie.  I saw billions of little stars floating around me. And then I was retching my guts upon the floor. People were all around me offering me water – something had gone wrong for this many people to be around. But I was in no mood be comforted. The distant memories blunted my feelings.  The hallucinogen dulled my senses and I walked blindly to the next area.

Under the influence of alcohol I received one tattoo prior. Under the hallucinogen I would receive the second – a pair of cross swords at my right temple. It showed I was Venatori to any supernatural creature out there.  The ink was made with magic and the blood of the sacrifice from before.  It is unique to all Venatori, but the image is the same. But without the magic the world would see an entire community of supernatural beings living among them.  The tattoo was only visible to those who were supernatural with the rare exception of the humans who bore the mark.  The mark allowed them to see others like it.

I am terrified of needles. If I made even the smallest sound during this process I would be sent back to the ranks of the Academy for another year until I can pass without noise. I was grateful for the intolerance to whatever drug they had given me earlier I was out of it for most of the tattoo.

Between the raging fear inside and the bad reaction to the drugs I was hurling again after completion. I was now waiting for my final assignment. I was ushered out the door before the festivities of graduation could begin.  Our illustrious leader wanted me away from the politics of the breeding game.  Mark Green, the only other Cesari I know alive today, leads our pack of supernatural society. He knows all too well what the blood of a Cesari will be worth in the breeding game, even with my inferior genes of humanity mixed in.

So today I said good-bye to my home and my best friend and I have no idea when I’ll be back to see either.