The explanation that followed was longer and more convoluted than Jack could follow resulting in multiple interruptions for questions, several side lines and a couple of serious misunderstandings that then had to be corrected. It took far longer than anyone would have liked but by the end Jack had a working knowledge of the matters and Crystal had had her own knowledge increased.
Creatures in slayer nomenclature were any supernatural monster that could not be explained with ‘normal’ science. Evidently there was some form of science that could explain such creatures but that was set aside for another discussion. Creatures were divided for classification purposes into two groups: Periods and Elements. Periods took their names from the period of the day that the group of creatures were most likely to be active or could only be active. There were four Periods: Day, Night, Dawn and Twilight. Day and Night had the bulk of creature types.
Each Period or Element had one or two ‘master/mistresses’ at any given time. Day and Night were unique in having two each, both a Master and a Mistress. The pair was never of the same gender or the same color, color being the means of describing the person’s basic orientation for Good or Evil. How that was accomplished, Jack had not dared to ask as yet.
So Crystal’s much beloved Mistress was correctly titled the True Born Mistress of the Night and represented the White or Good. The Huntmaster or Master, correctly titled the True Born Master of the Night and represented the Black or Evil. Jack was given to understand that meeting him would not be a good thing, not ever. Jack decided against opening the discussion of why that might be – he had enough to deal with as it was.
Having gotten down the basics of Creatures and Periods, the conversation moved on to specialties. Most slayers were simple slayers and their specialty would be by Period and usually by creature, so that a vampire slayer would be able to slay vampires with ease but would be more like a normal person when facing a werewolf. Worst of all would be facing a creature from a different Period – a vampire slayer wouldn’t even sense a Creature of the Day like a leprechaun.
True Slayers were in a different class. A True Slayer could sense and fight, although not as well, a creature from a different Period. A True Slayer could also sense and even fight, albeit poorly, a creature from an Element. A True Slayer’s greatest advantage was the ability to slay any creature within their Period or Element. As a result, specialty held a different meaning for True Slayers: almost all True Slayers had a special ability unique to them. Crystal’s specialty was Sword Singing, the ability to ‘talk’ to blades. Ethan’s specialty was Guidance: the ability to distinguish and mentor slayers. Jack’s was as yet unknown but Ethan expected it to become evident shortly.
Jack leaned back in his chair, taking everything in. It was a lot of information and he had little time to absorb it. He could see the need of learning about these things but none of it brought him closer to dealing with the problem at hand. He could accept Wolff’s promise that his presence would be a deterrent at least for now without fully understanding why but he needed a better strategy both for protecting his kin and for solving the problem.
Crystal chewed her lip thoughtfully, “Not to change the subject, but something’s been bothering me for a while now. That vampire I fought on the rooftops – its concealment was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before. It was concealing itself from me. How could it do that?”
Ethan exhaled, “Two possibilities. It simply has a stronger concealment power. It happens rarely but it can happen. More likely, however, is that it’s an older vampire.”
“It couldn’t have been an ancient – surely I’d have sensed that. I sensed Master Tresmayne the day we met…”
Wolff spoke, “I let you, Mistress Crystal. An ancient creature has greater control of their concealment than any other age. But it needn’t be ancient. You children are both too inexperienced to pierce the concealment of an old or even a middle aged vampire.”
Jack put his hand to his face, “Ages?” he asked wearily.
“Just means how old the creature is. It’s pretty simple – it’s the same as a normal human, you just multiply the age by ten, fifty, one hundred or one thousand depending on the type of creature. Vampires are one hundred factors so an ancient vampire is at least a thousand years old. Don’t sweat it, you only need to know that the older they are, the more powerful they are.” Crystal explained.
Jack nodded. “There’s a chart, isn’t there?” He smiled wryly at Crystal.
Crystal laughed pleasantly, “A whole book, actually. Several, in fact. You can borrow mine for now.”
Jack looked at her askance. Crystal nodded. Jack sighed. There would be homework with this new job.
“Basically, the vampire Crystal faced had to have been at least middle aged – five or six hundred years old.” Ethan explained.
“That’s probably bad for another reason. Older, more powerful probably wouldn’t normally be wasted on small fry like me, huh?” Jack surmised.
It was Ethan’s turn to look impressed, “That’s it exactly.”
“This just gets better and better.” Jack replied grimly, meaning the exact opposite.