Archive for vampires

DJB: Letting the Fur Fly

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , on September 6, 2021 by vampirony

She was whispering to him again but the sound couldn’t be heard above the tinkling of the fountain.

“Do you have another message?” she asked excitedly.

He laughed heartily, “Just once, I would like to know that you look forward to seeing me and not just because I carry a message from the Sultan.”

He could only imagine the smile that crept across her face, hidden behind her veil.  She dropped her eyes and left him wondering at her thoughts. So much was still unspoken between them, out of caution, out of duty. She was a treasure to the Sultan, a truly learned man who hungered to find and possess knowledge. She spoke innumerable languages and could translate any with time including ones from far to the east in lands along other oceans. She authenticated manuscripts, could even repair them if the Sultan desired it. She advised him on promising acquisitions and had once been his most trusted appropriator, traveling throughout Europe, until that catastrophic event.

Just one more book, this one purportedly harboring the most prized secret of science and mysticism.  Behind enemy lines, a simple wagon, no observable guard to draw attention, disguised as a young lad.  She’d done it many times before, procuring Aeschylus’s seventh play discovered in Baliabadra before it fell back to the Venetians. Then there was the cache of astronomical writings from Ibn Al-Haytham uncovered in Cairo, right under the nose of the Mamluks.

But luck was not with her this last time and she had been uncovered, by an unnatural creature, in the service of the Moldavians. It had caught her scent and directed a general on loan from the Hungarian Black Army to pursue a prize worthy of ransom.  She couldn’t have known the great lengths men at war would go, the landscape transformed into Hell on Earth to prevent the Ottoman advance. With the Ottoman defeat, she had been trapped with no way out, save one very ardent wild man and his pack.  

The ramifications of that event had encircled them in this golden cage: she was safe and well cared for but within the embrace of the Harem. As such, she had to follow its rules or lose the Sultan’s protection. So started the ruse. She was ugly, as many of the other girls declared, guaranteeing the Sultan would never call her to his bed. Which also served her as accidents sometimes befell the beautiful of the harem. It was best not to stand out. Unlike most of the others, she never dropped her veil, perpetuating the myth.

She’d been burned…or carved up….(or was it branded?) by the general during her brief capture. Raped, made lame, had all her hair pulled out….he forgot how many tales had been spun about her, many of them through her own manipulations. Only one woman in the harem had ever seen her uncovered: the Kahiye-Kadin, the eldest lady of the harem. And for reasons that were the Kahiye-Kadin’s alone, she had kept the truth to herself.

For his part, he did what he had to stay near her, to be of value to the Sultan. Once the beast had been tamed from fever and word of his deformity had spread, he had enjoyed a small measure of goodwill for heroism and sacrifice saving the Sultan’s “treasure.” He earned the title “eunuch” and took up a role guarding the Sultan on outings, the lie of his Janissary status turning into truth. After a time, the Sultan found him pleasing to look at and assigned him to the Enderun, where he now couriered messages and work to her.

The legend of her rescue and his maiming meant he could drift carefully between worlds, but he feared that their time would run out before the length of her servitude. Seven years, two already spent since her father’s death had transferred her into the Sultan’s keeping. Desperate to find other ways to give favor to the Sultan, he had asked her to teach him letters, words, languages, so that perhaps he too could serve as translator, that the Sultan would once again let them pursue mythical texts and manuscripts. To break them out of the cage, where they could be together. Where he wouldn’t have to fear spilt tea and other dropped items and the reprisals that followed from disobedience.

Again, the sound of the fountain caught his attention.

“I wouldn’t want you to think that,” she softly spoke, barely audible as if she hadn’t meant to speak out loud at all. Her eyes lifted and held…my gaze…just as in the hotel, remember, let this caress speak, it is only the beginning…and felt whatever liquid ran through my body thud, my chest contracting, my heart glowing.  

I needed to keep her safe. And as I pulled my mind from distant memories to the current moment, I found myself sprawled out on some dank, cobbled floor, watering dripping along the subterranean wall somewhere nearby.  I realized it was the first time memories that I had left open to roam after first touching the Book had merged back with me. My own memories, my voice, my heart…when we had once existed in the same world, but she had not yet become my Helene.

“Gaat het goed met je?”

I raised my head at sound. A short, brown-skinned woman with what seemed to be brilliant multi-colored feathers for hair leaned over me, hand on my shoulder. Was I not in the Prague Redoubt? Had I misdialed? I tried to push myself up but as I tried to stand, I felt tethered. My head swam as I looked back towards my right leg to find the phone handset on the floor and my ankle disappearing into it.

A wave of nausea hit me as I realized I hadn’t come all the way through. No, I needed to protect her. This can’t be happening, not again. The woman spoke, but I collapsed to the cobbles, exhausted. I tried to think myself through, tried to envision my right ankle, connected to my right foot but the sensation of my body itself was fading. The room turned all the way to black just as I saw her reach for the handset and put it back in place.

“I think he’s coming around. Fetch Lord Valerian.”

I shook awake and tried to throw off the hands that held me against the bed.

“Damn it, hold him down!”

My eyes wouldn’t focus; I just saw shapes but felt pairs of hands bear down. I struggled and felt the panic of needing to be free burning in my belly. Not restrained again. Not so soon.

“Ay!”  Muffled sounds and thumps as the hands suddenly lifted as I continued to blink, a sudden whiff of burned fur.

“Jesper, calm down!”

The voice sounded so familiar that I stopped my thrashing. My eyes cleared gradually as I tried to control my breathing and soon revealed Aubry, holding his hands up with open palms. It was him but inexplicably furrier, his palms singed for some reason I struggled to grasp.

We stared at each other, as I realized I was in the Redoubt. I lay in a tall four poster bed, still naked. I felt feverish. Aubry stood to my left, his ears cocked strangely. A glance to my right showed the woman from before and one of the men from the South American tribe. Alejandro, maybe? He nodded and smiled uneasily as I looked at him.

They all held their hands up as if ready to restrain me again. That was when I felt my toes on my right foot wiggling. It was a relief to see me back in one piece.

“Sema, get some tea,“ Aubry commanded calmly, his shoulders relaxing.

“And maybe some ice, no?” Alejandro added, amused.

Aubry clenched and unclenched his fists while Sema, the woman, was suddenly there with a porcelain cup, holding it up to my mouth. I was quite thirsty and as I stared into her eyes, they held me in place and I smelled the jungle, felt the weight of humidity in the air, but tasted pine.

I flinched to sitting but only after I drank the whole cup. She stood back, a strange smile on her face. But as the liquid moved through me, I heard the roar of fire and I sprung up, looking for the pitcher. I bounded around Aubry who stopped Sema from following, from interfering, while I picked up the carafe and drank the whole thing down, rivulets of liquid escaping the corners of my mouth and traveling down my body.

As I put it down, Aubry folded his arms as if he’d seen this show but before I could ask him anything, my awareness breezed through cool pine tree forest, morning fog high on the mountain, running with the wolves at my side, solid dark soil beneath my feet. I pushed the sensation away; I need to be here in the present to protect her.

I looked back over to Aubry who’s notoriously implacable face was stunned, as if all the hairs stood up on his now very furry neck. I breathed a sigh of relief; the burning sensation had subsided. I had little time to unravel the effect of sunlight on me let alone Valerian’s pine needle tea. I needed to call for an assembly.

I stepped towards Aubry to do just that when a roar of another sort ripped through the door and I was thrown to the bed, Valerian’s hand clamped around my throat, his blood red eyes and fully fanged face just above mine.

“What the Hell are you doing here?!” he shouted, the whole room reverberating with his angry Vox. Sema and Alejandro were knocked to the floor, with Aubry gripping the bedpost to stay standing.

“You’re supposed to be protecting her!”

As his grip tightened, I felt the rush of a folded memory, of a time when Valerian and I had been adversaries. The memory wouldn’t unfurl but, for a moment, I saw all his emotions in his normally taciturn face. He’d loved and lost her too. He hated that he’d had to send me to save her. He wanted to claim her for his own.  Here. Now.  And I realized it was useless to fight against their past even as my gut twisted at wanting to know and tear out any history they had together.

“I’m here to bear witness, “ I choked out, my hands wrapped around his arm but only giving the slightest resistance.  “To Conclave. As her….” His grip steadily tightened as if he feared the words. Sema and Alejandro struggled to get to their feet, the force of Valerian’s will holding them in place.

I might be preternaturally long-lived and a broken neck might require months of recuperation. But a severed head or one otherwise forcibly separated from my neck, that was another matter. I shut my eyes, trying to calm myself, gathering my wiles to find a way to convince him.

The growl started low, hyphenated by the merest whine. But it built quickly, a series of warning yips that turned guttural, like an engine revving and the bed started to shake. Then the barks intermixed with an almost rabid growling that finally broke through Valerian’s awareness. I opened my eyes just as his grip slipped a millimeter as he turned, his right arm swinging to defend just as a maw full of glistening teeth clamped down.

I stared in disbelief as Aubry transformed from the slightly furry version of his dignified self into a full were form. No, not just were. Wiklas. As he tore at Valerian, Valerian turned to him in shock but centuries of training wouldn’t loosen his grip completely and I was yanked from the bed. I shielded my fall with my left hand and as Aubry continued to thrash his clench over Valerian’s arm, Valerian finally relented.

“Aubry!” Valerian shouted, still stunned as his oldest ally, his friend, some wondered if more, had a death grip over his forearm and was shredding it. Valerian froze, his stance turning to stone but his face barely registered the creature before him. As I finally stumbled to my feet, leaning heavily against the bed, his eyes clouded as if pulled back into memory, an emotion I had never ascribed to him: fear. But it was a flash and the betrayal and anger that replaced it heralded his powerful strike. In Wiklas form, Aubry had nearly doubled in size, towering over Valerian with all his limbs elongated and muscled, now more wolf shaped than man, having ripped through his exceptionally tailored ochre tweed suit with matching vest and purple pocket square.

Valerian flicked his wrist and while he must have broken a bone or two to do it, I heard a sharp crack as several of Aubry’s teeth that had locked into Valerian’s flesh snapped and he sailed across the room, ricocheting off the far stone wall.

I couldn’t help but let out a sigh but my relief was short-lived as Valerian turned back toward me. It was obvious Aubry’s attack was just a distraction; he was still bent on aggressive interrogation. He made only a step in my direction before the growling stopped him in his tracks.

He spun back to see Aubry’s Wiklas form crouching to make another attack. This time, he wasn’t emotionally prepared and the hurt bit into his brow. Aubrey’s wolf mouth foamed with blood but the growling grew more fevered.

“Aubry! What is this?”

Just as Aubry looked ready to strike again, I stepped up to Valerian, left arm around his back and right hand straight out toward Aubry.

“Enough, Vojtěch!” I shouted, in Vox.

The room was suddenly awash in light as if the shout I’d used against Sophie’s half-vampire goth girl had instead been broadcast throughout the room. As the light faded, I saw Aubry hunker down, his sanity returned and his wolfen face full of regret. He panted, obviously in pain, and he bounded out of the room as Alejandro sped to follow, with a singular glance back at us. Sema had backed against a wall; she clearly wanted no part of this.

“Sema? Please help Alejandro take care of Aubry,” still using Vox but much more subtle. I wasn’t sure how I was doing it nor whether it would be used against me later given the prohibition of using our powers against our own kind. But given the circumstances, I needed everyone out of the room as Valerian and I worked through this….whatever this was.

I turned to him, my jaw tightened with resolve to find him staring wide-eyed at me, lightly holding his right forearm together.

“Who are you, Scribe? What have you become?” Valerian insisted.

I gave his left shoulder an easy shake. “I was trying to say her advocate but you didn’t let me finish.”

His eyes tightened as he demanded, “What power do you newly possess to command my ever-faithful servant to first attack me and then be warned off like a pet?”

“You think I did this?” I commented, bemused, glancing down at his arm, as it already knitted back together. I dropped my arm and went to sit back on the bed, suddenly exhausted with my whole head hurting. As I raised my hand to my head, I noticed it shook.

“Your glowing eyes would seem to say so,” he accused. When he realized that maybe I couldn’t explain it, his mind whipped back to his earlier anger. “Whatever your abilities, you were meant to stay with her, to protect her, not run back here and leave her unguarded.”

“You’re wasting time. You must call Conclave to assemble. I must be allowed to report everything that has happened. Immediately!”

Valerian looked suddenly wary. “Why is that so important?”

“Because we killed a vampire and the Conclave must not perceive her as a threat or the area of Seattle will become a war zone.”

A vampire? Well, turns out you are woefully uninformed. Where have you been hiding the past week, under a rock?” He was still angry, his eyes still red, his fangs still extended, but my fervor seemed to be winning him over.

I noticed his emphasis on the “a” as in singular. “What are you talking about?”

Valerian, still holding his arm, walked over to the table with the empty carafe and peered in, then gave me a dubious look. He huffed and turned toward me. “What you killed was a revenant, borne from the Taint, the last unaccounted bottle of it. Who knew that one born like that would have the strength to reproduce?”

“There was another?” I replied, shocked.

Valerian’s arm must have finally felt on its way to healing as he pitched it on his hip.  “Yes, and was dealt with by your…associate through some formidable fighting that also bears some scrutiny.” He eyed me critically. “If I hadn’t known you for the last hundred years give or take a few decades, I would be concerned you might be reproducing.”

I bent my head. “You know I can’t, Valerian.” I tried to think. Morena must’ve broken the skin. But it would’ve been so little of my blood. It didn’t make any sense. But none of what I was becoming made any sense. “You say she fought another revenant?”

“She had some sort of help; it’s unclear the whole story.” Then he huffed, “I was expecting to hear it when you brought her to testify on her own behalf.”

“Bring her here? Are you insane?”

At that jibe, Valerian snorted,” That remains to be seen as I have a bookish vampire who seems intent on doing the exact opposite of what I need him to.” Then, with a tang of humility, “Well, except saving her.”

It wasn’t true, not really. She’d really saved herself. The Kukri, her wards, their strange band of irregulars that had boxed me up and taken me to the hotel. Valerian needed to not know about her vampire wards, or her assistant Nick, and I was already regretting that Morena was on his radar. It had been safer for all when he knew nothing about my life in Seattle or the company I kept. But it was obvious that I was not his sole surveillance in the area. And I had been trapped in rigor dormitus for too long to control the breaking of this story. But perhaps there was still a chance to color the commentary.

“Revenants, you say? Not other Carpathian spawn?”

“Definitively. We’d been tracking the male for some time.”

I nodded, “Then even more reason to call Conclave to assemble. I can stand witness to how she tried to diagnose him, tried to help him, not knowing it was futile.” I stood.

Valerian just stared at me skeptically. “That’s all I’m going to get from you? A proposal to stand up for her…when you’ve so obviously been….influenced by her?”

“What do you mean?”

He shook his head. “Can you actually say you are the same Jesper that I sent to contact her?”

He wasn’t wrong. In such a short period of time, the veil that I myself had pulled over the world to mute it from a history so painful I had tried to write it out of existence…it had been burned to cinders. And while I knew I myself could be the very evidence anyone in Conclave could need to show how she meant no harm, how she only sought to help, to heal, something deep within told me now was not the time for that.

“I will talk to Conclave, if I have to summon them myself.” I needed to make her safe, safe from the very interference that Valerian and I represented. She apparently could take care of the rest. She always had….except….

I strode past him, towards the open door, not able to stomach further delay. I’d obviously come across the line during the day but with Valerian up, it meant at least half a day had past. She might be sleeping now. I hoped she’d heard my message. Hoped she knew I was doing this for her.

“You might want to put on some clothes if you’re going to do that.”

I looked back at Valerian.

His eyes had faded back to brilliant blue but the line of his mouth was grim. He shrugged. “You may not feel up to sharing your own story, but it’s written all over your body. So unless you want to explain how you’ve suddenly become able to share boons with humans, turn men into werewolves, and summon light from your Vox, let me fetch you something to cover you up. You’re practically glowing.”

He moved towards an inner door, likely to his dressing room, and disappeared. He returned with a similar cloak to the one he wore to cover himself when he was back from a journey, a collar that could be turned up. I donned it quickly, but felt something just inside the pocket. I pulled out a pair of dark sunglasses.

“I’d recommend those too,” he said bluntly.

“What about Aubry?”

He sighed, his face a mask again hiding his feelings. And his recollections. Aubry’s actions had loosened something in Valerian and he was just as wiling to face it now as I was tying Aubry’s unexpected transformation to my past with the Wiklas.

“I’ll give him some time to settle.” He met my questioning gaze. “There may be more than one testimony to witness here tonight.”

Some keys open all doors

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2021 by vampirony

“Somehow you strayed and lost your way, and now there’ll be no time to play, no time for joy, no time for friends – not even time to make amends.”

— The Chesire Cat, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Roshni had thought she’d reached the very last key so many times now that she’d lost track of time. But every time she’d grabbed at it and tried it unsuccessfully, there seemed to appear yet another key on the key ring. Which was even more strange as she was the mistress of keys here, in this house, if maybe not so much on the grounds where lemon trees and tea parties had now taken root.

She had been in a rush to free her charge but now she had to pause a moment. Why was she doing this at all when clearly the force of the house itself did not want to raise awareness? She thought of the lemon tree, so fresh and new, but still small and delicate. It reminded her of the new tea plants on the farm back home. It would take almost 3 years and diligent care for them to grow to flower.

Something slammed into the door. “Salut, Rosie!” Hands came through to grab the bars and the figure started to swing from them. “Quand allez-vous me laisser sortir?”

“I’m working on it,” Roshni said but just stared at the last key. “You should practice your English so you’re ready when you get out.”

“Oh Renie is ready, mon amie. Hee hee!”

Roshni felt a pang and knew the trouble with the keys was her own doubt. She felt just as sure that this needed to happen, for the sake of the one they all followed, for the sake of the ones taking tea, for the sake of the lemon tree growing in the garden. For the tree to flourish, the past must be made right. The soul must be washed clean.

“Are you sure, Renie? Are you sure you are ready? What we discussed? Only what we discussed? You promise?”

“Yes yes,” the figure suddenly stopped swinging, and one hand released its grip on the bars. “Hand on heart.”

Roshni nodded. She didn’t always trust herself to know what was best and she trusted Renie even less to keep her word. But these keys, like this door, at the end of this hallway, on this floor had only revealed itself in this lifetime to her. She had heard this lost soul banging around for many many years, even before the Mad Hatter up there had poured her first cup. But it had only been this one’s lifetime that had given her the means to find Renie, speak to her, understand her.

And while it still seemed strange how the shadows moved and secrets still lurked in almost every corner of the house, this path, this moment here seemed destined. Hand on heart. If she had just one more moment with her heart, she would’ve let him know she’d forgiven him. After all, everyone deserved a chance at forgiveness. Especially the ones we cherish most.

And with that, the key ring in her hennaed hand turned into a single brass key.  She lifted her arm and fitted it perfectly into the lock of the asylum door. She turned the key, sprung the lock, and stepped back from the door.

The laugh started low, almost breathy, then grew in volume and pitch and force as the slight figure in a ruined gown and a half-buckled straitjacket pushed open the door.  

“Merci. Merci. Liberté, égalité…Justice.”

A Little Birdie in Your Back Pocket

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2011 by vampirony

Skovajsa crashed through several levels of temporary flooring and then through the ceiling of his just finished wine bar. He landed in the main room, crashed onto a table and chairs and busting them to pieces. He couldn’t see anything as his eyes had burned away but because no other skin burned and the windows of the bar were obstructed from the horizon by other buildings, he guessed that no sunlight could get him presently.

But he went immediately on alert. He smelled something, something wild and musty, like the woods. Then he heard it, the merest sounds of footfalls, of dust scrapping floor, flapping of wings. He leapt up, crouching for an attack, fangs bared.

Stay away from me!” He warned in full Vox.

As Skovajsa swiped at the air in front of him, Ritterreiter smiled and folded his arms. This was a much better way to end things than just defiling the creature’s resting place. Especially when the dumbass vampire had surrounded himself with enough oak furniture to build his own coffin, a lot of which had splintered around him during the fall.

“Crow, Fox, Dog,” he called. “Time to wrap this up.”

Three figures in all black tank tops and loose fitting khakis walked into the wine bar. One short man with bushy red hair, one taller woman with long braided black hair with a single feather meshed in, and one stockier woman with short pageboy white hair. They spread out in front of Skovajsa, taking positions.

He growled, “Do you know who I am? I am Vampire!”

Dog, the stocky woman, transformed into a massive Anatolian Shepherd, stepped out of her clothes, and began to growl on her own.

“Lucky for us,” said Crow. “We’re the Gypsy Twin Irregulars and we kill vampires.” She jumped up and back, transforming into a larger than average crow and flew circles around Skovajsa’s head, distracting him as he clawed the air in a panic.

Fox, keeping his human form, silently snuck behind Skovajsa, grabbing some wood from the floor. He cued Dog who lunged at Skovajsa, pushing him backwards, impaling him on the oak chair leg that Fox held. Skovajsa screamed but his whole body went immediately gray, the color of ash. Fox let the body crumple to the ground and Dog sat down on her haunches, panting slightly, smiling.

Crow dropped to the floor, transforming again, this time naked. She picked up another broken stake of oak and plunged it into his chest. Fox then produced a wide-bladed tomahawk from his side sheath and slashed at Skovajsa’s throat, decapitating him in one strong stroke. There was no blood, just ash filled the room as the entire body went Poof!

Dog woofed.

“You said it, Dog. Just a damn baby vamp,” Fox said.

Crow lifted her gaze up to Ritterreiter. “Really? You called us out of class for this?”

He shook his head with a polite smile. Kids these days. They weren’t even aware of just how much more training exercise this was than an actual threat. The hard work had been finding the lair. Then planning to disrupt and distract the vampire while they dismantled it. Then putting all the pieces in play in an order and timing to make it work as best as it could without putting anyone in harm’s one. The hardest part of that was the Vampire Psychologist herself, who they’d had to drug to keep out of the way.

But he was pleased nonetheless. Everyone had played their role perfectly without really knowing of the others existence. All except Mordecai who’d suddenly abandoned his post for some strange reason. He’d have to follow up on that. Maybe at the next game night, if he could get a private word. Miss Gypsy would want a full retelling, he was sure, but he suspected she would already know the result. She always did.

“Relax. You’ll get your chance again soon enough, Irregulars. Consider this just practice.”

The Price of Tea

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , on July 12, 2011 by vampirony

The smashed tea pot was Chinese, from Yixing, thousands of pots of tea brewed into the pot until the purple clay had so absorbed the flavors that one need only add water to get the flavor. It was a terrible waste. Not that either Valerian or I cared in that moment as his fingers brushed through my tousled hair.

The office was tucked into a far corner of the laboratory, a converted warehouse where our scientific and paranormal research could be conducted with no interruption from curious neighbors. The added benefit of the warehouse was that while it had been boarded up tight so no light could leak in, steam machines roared to produce the electricity that ran through the building, casting a wondrous orange glow around. Valerian often said it made me look like I wore a halo.

After another long embrace, our skin damp and clinging together, he laid back on the small cot, arm tightening around me. I nestled against him, head on his chest, hand in his, catching my breath. The pot on the floor seemed to catch both of our attention simultaneously. I heard him chuckle, the movement shaking his chest and me along with it.

"Well, another splendidly failed experiment. But admittedly, if all failed experiments ended like this, I will have to adjust my success criteria."

As much peace as I felt right now, I had worked very hard to try and synthesize the right dosage of juice and tea. His seizure was both unexpected and intense. I hadn’t know what else to do but push him onto the cot and try to hold him down, pushing a wooden dowel into his mouth to keep him from choking. The panic I’d felt was gone now but the memory of the failure was profound. I pushed myself up, looking down at him.

"Yes, but how do you feel, Val?" I caressed his face, the cuts around his lips already healed where he’d struggled against the dowel. My fingers traced his lips.

He raised one inky eyebrow at me. He could do that."You ask me that after what we’ve just done?"

My hand moved to his chest. I asked, exasperated, "You feel no relief at all? I was certain adding the lime juice in that concentration would have a calming effect. Lind’s work with scurvy in the Royal Navy seemed to be so promising."

He could tell I was disappointed. "I cannot tell if it’s the antiscorbutic….or if it’s you that effects the change."

I blushed before catching all he said. “So you do feel something!” I was excited. He had never before admitted that my silly experiments with what I had deemed sun-starvation had any impact on his vampire self. I was beaming with feminine pride when I leaned over him. "Hmm, perhaps if we didn’t work so hard at confounding the results of said experiments, we could isolate the change agent."

But there was a difference in his kissing after some tea, whether he admitted it or not. His lips were softer and while his mouth sought more, his arms more insistent, it was more to persuade, to intoxicate me into loosening my laces, sliding fabric gently aside so he might touch me more. So while it hadn’t really been my intention to make him into a more tender lover by curing his sun-starvation, I felt the full benefits of it.

With the slightest pressure of his hand cradling my head as we kissed, I felt him push my face gently up and away from him, his eyes boring into mine. I was pleased with myself. His eyes searched mine but still, I hadn’t unlocked that look although I’d begun to see it more and more lately.

Instead of the open emotions that had roamed his face more often, a mask of appraisal clouded his brow. "My darling girl, you need a man you don’t need to fix."

I rolled my eyes. Crossing my arms over his chest, I commented in a huff, "We all need fixing in some measure." My fingers played with the buttons of his undone shirt.

His large cold hand covered both of mine. Again, with the eyebrow. "You’re not ever going to cure me of vampirism, Darcie. It is what I am and where I belong."

I hated when we talked about this, his vampire world. He had worked hard to keep it so separate from me from the beginning. I knew he had a vampire family, what he called a horror. He told me he kept me away from them to protect me. They were unruly, his brood. "Whatever made you think I was trying to cure you of that?" Still not looking him in the eyes.

"I know you. And I know that as much as I treasure these fleeting moments with you, I will never satisfy you.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him. “I am not what you are searching for. And no matter your skills, you cannot fashion me into whatever it is you seek.”

It was just like him to completely misunderstand my efforts and to put a damper on my accomplishments. Whether there was any truth to his words was irrelevant. It was more a matter of the change in his demeanor that he seemed to be fixating on how I thought of him as vampire than it was my wish to change that about him. It was his very vampiric nature that made me feel I could help him, that I was uniquely qualified to find him some balance.

My lip must’ve been sticking out as I pouted because he lifted his head and used his tongue to caress that lip away from the other so he might enjoy another deep kiss. And when he did such things, I forgot all my cares and in some dark part of my heart, I began to fear the day when I couldn’t help him anymore. His fingers brushed my throat until his kisses lead there too and I felt a jolt flow through me remembering his teeth sinking in and the feeling of eternity clawing out of me. I wondered if his fangs would appear now as they often did when we engaged in our scandalous behavior. I waited for him to bite me.

But this was not that day as he sighed, completely satisfied, and sunk back against the cot. “Although, I confess I will miss it when you cease your efforts." His arms wrapped even tighter around me, his hand cradling my head as I relaxed against his chest. Listening to his relaxed breathing and feeling not the warmth exactly of another human being, but instead the strength and electricity that moved all through me wherever his body touched mine. And at this point, there wasn’t much in the way of clothing left between us.

I caressed his chest, my hand moving lower. I didn’t want him to be anything but his best self. But at what point this dark angel would find me lacking, keeping me separated from the world that was his, that he surely ruled, now that was another matter entirely.

"Then perhaps we should endeavor to not make these attempts so brief. Fleeting moments indeed. You’ve made me a ruined woman in appearances, Val. You might as well ruin me completely. Again."

And my heart hammered as we once again put anatomical pursuits ahead of scientific ones.


My heart beat like the sound of the hoof beats that approached the tent. At any moment we could be found out. The caravan, while it had been travelling for days and had orders to leave our cart and our tent allow under strict order of the Sultan, was now a long way away from Kostantiniyye. But the hooves stilled and so did any doubt that it was the horses and not the fingers stroking just there below my veil that caused my heart race.

“Jesper! Shhh!” I complained, trying very weakly to still his hands.

“Indeed, shhhh,” he murmured and caught at my mouth. I gave into him completely as there was nothing for it. Even if we were disturbed, his growing abilities to charm the intruder would have them leaving the tent wondering why they’d come, even as they saw us here, my sitting in Jesper’s lap on the rug and pillows with my veil unwound around us, my red hair tumbling down.

His charm wasn’t the only ability in which his cock sure attitude was apparent. He’d boasted just this morning that he’d spent the full afternoon under the scorching sun helping the captain of our expedition to find water. But I wasn’t currently concerned about his divining besides how his hands, one still wrapped in bandages, managed to remove my salvar trousers with little assistance from me.

I pulled my lips away, “Jesper.” There, I said it. Now I had no idea why, his hands moving to push my tunic over my head. When he’d swept into the tent after his nightly sojourn, it had been most of the day since I’d talked with him, and we both seemed particularly needy tonight. As the tunic came over my head, so was I over any hesitation, pushing him back against the rug. He hummed in appreciation for my newly found enthusiasm.

It wasn’t fair. He’d come in perfectly naked and yet I still had yards of fabric between us that I struggled with. I never hated our palace garb more than now. He seemed oblivious to my frustration, just enjoying how I was moving against him in trying to free myself.

“All day without you. All day without you in full sun and not able to share it with you until now.” He marveled, his mouth finding a particularly sensitive crease in my neck.

I couldn’t help but smile as he helped rid me of the last stitch of fabric. “Mmm, Kemal would not have appreciated it much if this was how we celebrated your first midday sun.”

Jesper’s warm amber eyes glowed as he looked up at me playfully. “No?”

“No,” I shook my hair out over him and he cupped one side of my face with his good hand. I put my hand over his and then pulled his other bandaged hand up to look at. The Sultan might indeed be benevolent in most cases to this strange visitor from the North, but there were limits to his patience. The dropping of the Valide Sultan’s favorite tea set, smashing it to bits by his reckless fit, had brought a severity that had surprised me.

“Oh, something else for you to see.”

I looked at him confused as he unwrapped his hand, showing four perfect fingers and one thumb, the skin tan and new. He turned his hand in front of me so I might fully appreciate it. Two days ago, back at the Palace, I had wrapped his hand myself after his smallest finger had been amputated to protect the rest of his charred fingers.

I touched his hand, grasping it in both of mine. I pressed it to my lips, smelling none of the decay from two days ago. I met his eyes, “It has regenerated? This is amazing.”

“You still believe I am no demon?” His eyes held a doubt. It was the old one, the one that he would not, could not let go of.

“My heart, you are no demon. You are one of the Djinn. Sacred,” I kissed his thumb. “Kind,” another kiss. “Noble, wise, immortal.” Each finger, I kissed in kind, until he cupped his hand behind my head and drew me down to him.

It wasn’t until much later, as I held him and watched him dozing, that I felt the fear growing. If the Sultan knew that his strange Northman who had wandered out of the forest to save him from a runaway horse was capable of such miracles, what would he do? Would he see him as the sacred Djinn and revere him? Or brand him an Ifrit, an evil demon, and cast him into some ritual sacrifice?

Or worse, would the Sultan, upon finding out that a guest at his palace, an emissary, was taking liberties with one of his wives, however married for political and intellectual convenience, seek greater retribution than a burned hand and a chopped off finger?

I clutched him, partially rousing him so that he wrapped his overly warm body around mine to stave off the evening chill. Hours spent under the fierce Persian sun now emanating from him like he was some smoldering star. I whispered it to him and the kisses that followed did much to reinforce my thought. I would have to write it in his book. He’d like that.


The suckiest part of waking up out of a dead faint is the disorientation and the general sense that nothing is right in the universe. And I didn’t want to wake up. I couldn’t remember if I’d dreamed or recollected but whatever it had been, my lips still tingled from it.

So imagine my disappointment when I finally sat up in bed, hand to my pounding head, to see Skovajsa sitting there at the edge of my bed with flowers and a bottle of wine.


His brow furrowed.

“I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

He didn’t bother to nod. Universe 2, Vampire Psychologist 0.

Time to Galvanize

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , on July 11, 2011 by vampirony

At around 4:30 AM, a light on Alex the night guard’s panel went red, drawing his attention. An elevator door alarm on the twelfth floor corridor had been triggered. He leaned forward, reaching towards the 2-way but instead picked up his cell phone sitting just beside it. He flipped it open and pressed a series of numbers.

As the call rang through, a haze seemed to be filling the camera view right in front of the elevator door but nothing else could be seen. The call picked up and he spoke, “It’s Sidewinder. Yeah, we got that alarm, just like you said. No fire alarm, just the elevator door. What would you like me to do, sir?”

“Nothing. Reset the alarm. If anything else happens, in the hall, of course proceed with protocol. But anything in the room, leave it. We’ll take it from here.”

Alex paused. They’d had to do a bit of jerry rigging to move guests from that particular wing, stating that there was a maintenance request and upgrading them to better rooms with restaurant comps. Cindy, one of the front managers, hadn’t wanted to do it but the footage of her getting horizontal with the new chef on top of a conference table after hours convinced her otherwise.

“Sidewinder, do you read? Leave the situation alone.”

“Yeah, ok.”

“Follow protocol on all other matters, except the room and guest in question.”

“Yeah, yeah, ok. I’ll monitor and will call if anything more happens.”

On the other side of the phone, just across the street, tucked into the shadows at the base of the construction site for the new condo complex, a short, nondescript man in a green fatigue jacket with German eagle crest on the sleeve lowered a pair of binoculars with a hint of a smile.

“That won’t be necessary, Sidewinder. We’ve just pressed Play. Ritterreiter out.”

The man known as Ritterreiter hung up his cell, lowering his binoculars and tucking them into his coat and pulling out a flashlight. Turning it on, he picked up crowbar that was leaning against the finished foundation wall and made his way away around the side of the structure. The first several floors of the structure had been completed, even to the point of having the beginnings of a wine bar almost ready for retail.

The top ten floors above were a different story, an organized mess of steel beams, rebar, plywood platforms, and concrete mixers wrapped in a bow of orange plastic safety fencing. A yellow industrial crane towered over it all, American flag flying proudly over the months of work yet to complete the new condo/retail space.

Out of the old was arising the new. Wide vistas of flat concrete space were being replaced by towers of glass and steel. The Bellevue skyline had been and would be permanently home to a nest of cranes as the city refactored itself from sleepy downtown host for local computer entrepreneurs to entertainment mecca for the jetsetter trophy families of the rich and digitally minded.

Ritterreiter came around the corner to a parking lot with a lone truck and checked the sky. The black sky of the Pacific Northwest sky was feeling its first twinges of dawn. Night was ending and monsters were in play. As he lowered his gaze, two hooded figures came out a side door of the construction site, dragging a jackhammer.

The two figures loaded the jackhammer into the back of the truck and threw him a wave. He smiled, taking his cell phone back out.

“My finger is on the button.” He dialed and put the phone to his ear.

The Problem with Technology

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , on July 11, 2011 by vampirony

Skovajsa, after a quick bite to eat to settle his nerves and improve his color, arrived at the Hyatt crisp and fresh from a quick toilet. He made his way calmly through the Wintergarden, perfectly tailored in a charcoal suit with maroon silk shirt and matching silk tie. He carried the bouquet of flowers under his arm and a very ancient looking wine bottle in the other, shifting the bottle under his arm as he pushed the elevator call button around four AM.

He stifled a smile as he shifted his weight. He was actually a little nervous, his feet tapping in anticipation as he balanced from side to side waiting. It had been a very long time since he’d been this close to such a boon and he’d never paid this much care to his approach. Sheer strength and ferocity usually got him exactly what he wanted. This wine and dining approach was all new to him.

He pushed the button again, tossing a casual, caustic glance at a maintenance man on a ladder just opposite him. Those beneath him didn’t deserve much more notice than that. He jumped slightly when moments later, the maintenance man as at his shoulder, his music blaring from his headphones.

“That one’s not working.”

Skovajsa recoiled, shifting the wine bottle away from the man. He wore just a non-descript gray one piece with a belt full of tools dragging him down into a stoop. His short cropped hair was mussed, and stood up on a side.

“That elevator?” The man pointed. He waited as if Skovajsa would address him. “Isn’t working.”

“Oh.” Skovajsa quickly moved around the little maintenance man to another set of elevators, pushing the button with haste.

“Um, don’t know if you want those either.” The man called to him.

“Why? It works, doesn’t it?” Skovajsa fired back, stepping inside quickly as the doors opened. The man waved as if to say more but it was lost to Skovajsa as the doors slide shut.

The maintenance man put hands on his hips, as his headphones blared R.E.M.’s “End of the World.” He looked at the elevator labels to read “15 – 21 Floors.” It wasn’t a music player connected to his headphones that he lifted up, but a cell phone. He punched a few keys.

“Yeah, he’s on his way up. Oh, it’ll take him a bit; I rigged it to go straight up to the top floor no matter what button he pushes. You still babysitting?”

On the other end of the line, a young man with silvered temples and wire framed glasses looked down the length of the bar at the blond man in the sunglasses who sat nervously waiting, listening intently to his ear bud although not having spoken a word into it. “Yeah, I’ll try to keep him distracted but he sure looks like he’s about ready to jump through that phone.”

“Whatever, Mordecai. Ritterreiter was clear. We leave that one alone.”

“Awrighty, Chain. I’ll do a smoke screen. Should confuse the other one to avoid any random encounters.” With that the bartender hung up the phone, pulled a box out from under the bar, and walked over to one of his regulars, sitting right next to the blond Viking. “Hey, Billy, have you tried these new White Star cigars?”

After which point, Billy took the proffered cigar and lit up, after being assured that he wouldn’t get in trouble for lighting up. The Blond man didn’t seem to notice anything around him, just gripped the phone he had sitting on the bar lightly. It was hard to tell with those sunglasses. After a few moments of smoking up the bar, the bartender wandered over to Sunglasses.

“You know, the bar officially closed a few hours ago. But I took pity on you; you looked like you had woman trouble.”

Jesper didn’t even turn his head to acknowledge the voice speaking to him. He wasn’t actually sitting there listening to the bartender, who decided to pour himself a tall glass of water and begin to spin some tale of marital woe.

Jesper’s consciousness was sitting in a chair across from Sophie’s bed, listening to her breathing, training his senses on anything nearby that felt or smelled or sounded Vampire. Which was why he smelled the twinge of bloody decay mixed with some musky cologne and the fragrance of lilies and roses before the elevator door alarm went off. He stood up walking towards the door to the hotel room.

Back at the bar, the bartender paused his story when he heard the cell phone in Sunglasses’ hand chirp.

“Hey, buddy, think your phone battery is going dead.”

His warning fell on deaf ears.



Jesper’s head swiveled to the bed. Sophie was still asleep, under the covers, but her sleep became troubled. She shifted, her arms stretching out, reaching around a pillow. He paused but the smell would not be denied. His sense of smell was the worst of all his sense when he projected which meant the Carpathian had to be close.

When the elevator alarm sounded, he sped to the door, but paused before going out. He turned back to the bed. He could take her, now, run. Get her to safety. Fly her away from here, to Morena. Why had he not enlisted help from Valerian? He felt the nerves knot together his stomach as he put his hand on the door knob.

Even without the smell and the elevator alarm, he could sense the Carpathian approaching. It was time.

Except, his hand suddenly wasn’t on the doorknob anymore; it was around his cell phone. He started.

“Hey, take it easy, fella. I tried to warn you.”

Jesper stood, feeling suddenly ill. The call had been disconnected and he had been snapped back into his skin. Without forethought, the transition produced ill effects that he termed Projection Sickness: dizziness, weakness, in some cases vomiting…fainting.

He reached a hand across the bar and grabbed the bartender in a panicked grip. “What happened?”

“Erk, I tried to tell you. Your phone died.”

Jesper swayed against the bar, the edges of his awareness blurring, fraying. “No,” he mouthed, hand still around the bartender’s neck but now slackening.

“Say, you wanna call her back, you can use my phone,” the bartender added. He dragged a desk phone over and dialed, without asking for the number. “I’m getting a busy signal.”

Jesper slid along the railing of the bar, and then toppled over, hitting the floor taking a stool with him. His face smacked hard into the wood but the pain helped him cling to awareness. No, he couldn’t abandon her to her fate again .

“Sophie,” he moaned.

The bartender came around the bar and looked down at the vampire at his feet. Then he used his own cell phone only to have it go directly to voice mail. “Come on, Greg, get off the phone!”

And All Sorts of Messes

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , on May 17, 2011 by vampirony

symbol_cleaver-colorWith a vampiric growl, the tea cup sailed across the velvet room like a missile, smashing into dust against the opposite stone wall.

“Something tells me this isn’t going as planned.”

Valerian now sat forward, robes askew, panting with the effort to keep from ripping the room apart. “If I had other choices, Aubry, I would use them.”

Aubry floated silently over to the wall and began to brush the dust into a pan that he pulled out from his robes. He always seemed to be cleaning up messes these days. “You could still send someone else. Or better yet, let me handle this.”

“No. I cannot afford to show more interest. And sending anyone else into that area would alert the Shapeshifters.” Valerian bowed his head, shaking it from side to side. “Jesper is all I have at the moment to work with. And what he lacks in actual vampiric ability, he makes up for in intelligence… and charm.” Valerian chewed over the last word as if it were moldy bread.

“He has altered from his time with her, has he not?” Aubry spoke, still bent about his task, his back to his master. But he did not need to see Lord Valerian’s face to feel the vampire’s displeasure nor wonder at its source.

“You saw his wounds?” Valerian asked softly.

Aubry stood, surprised. “No, I did not.”

“I only noticed because I’ve always felt he was made quite young, never having truly lived and experienced, showing no scars at all.” Valerian sighed heavily. “He’s sporting two recently healed round scars, square on his chest.” His fingers started tapping again.

“Stakes? Is that possible?”

Valerian nodded to himself, his eyes staring off into the distance.

“Perhaps Mr. Jesper is a better guardian than you thought.”

Valerian leveled his eyes upon his servant. “What good does it do me if he won’t obey later? If he wants her for himself?”

Aubry smiled cautiously, “Perhaps we should focus on the immediate need: keeping Sophie alive.”

“If it is the Taint, Aubry, she’ll need more than our bookish vampire to save her. There must be more we can tell her.”

“The last thing she asked about was the Book itself. She never answered back about the photo. She wanted to know about the book’s origins.”

Valerian stood, a glimmer of his weary mind showing in his slow movements. “Never mind about that. That damn book of hers is no longer important. I should have burned it a long time ago instead of allowing you to reunite her with it.”

Valerian made his way to the door while Aubry waited. He could see the wheels turning in the vampire lord’s mind. Hundreds of years of experience and this one human still vexed him sorely.

“No, Bruno has served his purpose for the moment. It would be best if he went dark. We could use him later to draw her back in, if all else fails.”

“And the tainted one, this Skovajsa?”

Valerian steeled an eye on Aubry. “Jesper had better hope his resources are enough to keep her safe. His life won’t be worth much to me if she dies. I can’t afford to wait another hundred and twenty-five years for a reunion.”

Valerian shuffled out of the room, leaving Aubry with nothing but doubt about this course of action and everything but hope about what the future held for his old friend from the Ghost Club.

DJB: Memoirs, Volume 3: Bad Beauty

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , on February 21, 2011 by vampirony

Folding memories can be taxing in the best of times, depending on the emotions embedded therein. And a split-second of an image, much like a single Chinese character, can hold a multitude of meanings when removed from context. One particular memory refused to be folded. It had always been such even though the memory was over two hundred years old. When I had been human, I had been exceptional only in my ability to be mediocre at everything I tried and in my first decades of being a vampire, I had been equally disappointing.

I hadn’t become a vampire by choice so it wasn’t something I had entered into hoping it would override the days of languishing in stupefying uselessness. However I once I had come to terms with it and learned where my peculiar vampire abilities lie, I had learned to enjoy the results. The more mastery over myself as vampire, the more confident I had become…and the more I wanted to bury the weaker times of my existence.

This memory was of one of those times as a young vampire. And the only way I seemed to be able to deal with it was to pen it back into my last volume of memoirs, in third person narrative. The years had given me perhaps a chance to find something new in my recollection, something that might be useful to the now…

When Dag Jesper Bretton, vampire, had stood upon the docks in Hong Kong, his clothes in tatters and soaked, his face smeared with ash and dirt, all he could think of as the first twinges of dawn began to taint the clouds was that he wanted to get to anywhere else but where he was now. Hong Kong had been a serious miscalculation from the start. His Danish looks made him stand out in any crowd, even at night, and even his maturing cloaking abilities did not shield him here.

The local Jiang-Shi, soul vampires as he had come to know, would never be willing to share their nighttime haunts with a foreign European devil. More than once, he’d been mistaken for German and attacked as the local vampires had a particular dislike for them. He looked nothing like a German but his fair looks still seemed to elicit their strongest ire.

It hadn’t helped things that his female traveling companion had vanished days after they’d arrived. He’d admittedly been a little glamoured by the French vampiress and running away to the Orient with her had seemed ever so romantic. She’d been petite, beautiful with marble for skin and by all accounts had been duly impressed with him being many decades her elder.

It had been a harsh reminder of how horrifyingly bad his love life had always been excepting one bright spot which he even now refused to let himself think on.

The little French vampiress had abandoned him, likely tired of him in favor of some rich, exotic opium dealer. She’d talked of little else on the trek over. But then again, travelling in the night, sometimes nailed into burlap-wrapped boxes, strapped to coaches, in trains, on ships, for hours with nothing to give them peace from each other except the dawn and its insistent comatose sleep, surely that was more time together than a casual affair could bear.

“God kveld!”

Jesper raised his head at the familiar sound. He never forgot a voice anymore. So intrinsic to his survival was it that he knew immediately that it was the big friendly if slightly myopic Norwegian he’d met earlier in a brothel while trying to find his vampiress. The place, more opium den than pleasure house, was trying to cheat the burly but affable sailor. Normally, Jesper stayed clear of entanglements but when thoroughly drunk and trying to make sense of his circumstances the big Norwegian started to curse in Danish as well as Norwegian, the sound of his mother tongue had compelled Jesper to help. It had been a small matter. The Norwegian had been settled with exactly the kind of company he’d wanted.

“God kveld, Gregers.”

A smile of all his crooked and missing teeth split the Norwegian’s face. He extended a hand and slapped Jesper on the shoulder. Had Jesper not his preternatural strength, the blow might’ve landed him in the bay.

While short on conversation, more mutters and grunts, Jesper had been able to surmise that his assistance had been timely: Gregers’ ship was about to sail to the Americas, San Francisco to be exact. Had Jesper believed he had any other luck besides this current string of bad, he might have felt that fortune was finally smiling upon him. Gregers had noted Jesper’s keen eye and they needed a night watch onboard. With very little prodding, Jesper soon found himself onboard, glamouring the captain into strict instructions on how he must never be disturbed during the day so that his sight would be sharply adjusted for the night.

Weeks of searching for his vampiress had netted more than a few scraps with the local Jiang-Shi warlord, Teng-Wen. He’d managed to escape each time but a whisper grew into a rumor of a night banshee that was high on drugged up missionaries.

Jesper had no proof that it was Bellecroix, the French temptress, with her doe like brown eyes. But the Jiang-Shi had started to call this night banshee the Dark Pearl and since Jesper had known her, Bellecroix had never removed the string of pearls from around her neck. Yes, it was time to leave before Teng-Wen and his horror made any connection between Jesper and this Dark Pearl.

Whatever evil she had fallen under (here, the author must remind himself that Vampirism might be considered the ultimate evil incarnate), Bellecroix was beyond his reach.

Within an hour, just as dawn was breaking through, Jesper was buried deep in the bowels of the ship, huddled under tarps, living in those last moments before dawn took all his consciousness. The fear was there again, yet another place to learn, new arrangements to try and make, all on his own again. But there were possibilities too. He’d always wondered about the new world, been curious to see it but like so many vampires, the voyage itself seemed ever so daunting and unbelievably perilous. But as night watch on a boat full of the proverbial drunken sailors, this had to be the golden goose, he’s very best chance of staking a place out for his own.

In some ways, Jesper didn’t really care. The dread he was under had repeated its refrain, over and over, until it drowned out all fear and doubt: Anywhere but here.

Vampire Practicum

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by vampirony

I’d like to be able to describe firsthand what a well-trained, well-motivated Carpathian half vampire looked like attacking a 500 plus year-old vampire of questionable origins and mysterious new issues but I didn’t actually see anything.  Best I can figure, Lucy attacked, Jesper stepped to while pushing me back out of the way, and the next thing I saw was Lucy flat on her back on the floor, missing her weapon.

I think I yelled, “Don’t hurt her!  She’s one of mine.”

I finally saw what manner of weapon it was when Jesper turned back towards me.  It was a gleaming silver short spear two feet of which were sticking out of Jesper’s chest.

“One of your what?” he asked, voice clearly elevated but strangely, much less strained than expected.  What with a silver spear sticking out of his chest and the vampire girl that attacked him doing a flip up from prone like I’d seen in many Jet Li films.

Depending on the vamp, wooden stakes may or may not do anything at all but huge holes in one’s chest, that normally slows a guy down, at least for a bit.  Jesper turned as if it were nothing; grabbed it with one hand, ripped it out, and swung it in front of him.  Not at the advancing Lucy, I might add, just in front of him to ward her off.  Then he threw it on the floor.

She kept moving, her face all fanged out, reached behind her back and tumbling for the spear, while Jesper moved to stay in between us.  The movements were just blurs to me most of the time, but time started to slow down, making their actions more distinct.

It wasn’t some special ability I’d been granted; it was the adrenaline pumping through my body, making everything run in slow motion.  Unfortunately, I was in slow motion too.  By the time I got to speak again, Lucy had resumed her attack with spear in right hand, a new strangely bent long bladed and very shiny shorter weapon in her left.  A kukri. 

The sense of profound dread settled over me like a oppressive cloud.  I couldn’t allow that weapon to touch Jesper.  Somehow, I just knew it.  Just at this point, maybe six seconds into things, Morena made her first move, reaching behind her back for her gun.  But I knew by the time she drew it, this might very well be over.  Class turns into Practicum just like that.  SNAP!  Nick, thankfully, had flipped over the back of the settee to hide this one out.  Good kid.  Smart too.  He knows better than to take up a profession without skills.  But he was throwing a look towards Morena, one I’d take no time deciphering later, and was clearly going to head her way.  Crap!

I needed to end this.  Now.

Jesper was, as he should be, one step ahead of me.  In Vox Compulsum, he commanded, “Stand down.”

Nick and Morena froze in that unnatural way when their bodies and minds have been disjointed from action.  They wouldn’t fall over, merely powerless to do anything.  For a moment, I had thought his plan had backfired as Lucy pushed through the Vox as if it were nothing.  Later I would get it: He meant it to be broadband, to catch everyone in the room, even me, especially in the event anyone else, namely human, thought they should get in the middle of two vamps fighting it out.  ‘Cause that would be stupid.  Sign me up.

But for some reason, Lucy was unaffected and I, well, Jesper hadn’t known the Vox didn’t work on me either.

I scrambled across the floor, trying to find my legs and then my feet, all of which was taking too long.  Strangely, Lucy and Jesper dodged and parried like matched sets, he could obviously overpower her at any moment but she was just capable enough to keep him from disarming or grappling her.

And it was frustrating him.  I had to help.

“Lucy!  Stop!  He’s a friend!”

I wasn’t exactly sure of the sentiment but at this moment, Friend might have way more weight than Patient.  Especially given my current client list.  Will all the crazed vampires in the Seattle metropolitan area please stand up and be counted?

Lucy ignored me as if she’d heard not a word.  She feinted and whirled a spin kick at Jesper’s chest, catching him off-guard because of his injury.  She must have seen him favoring just enough.  But I didn’t have time to be impressed.  The one good thing about how good a fight she put up was it forced Jesper back towards me, by which point I could stand.

I felt rather than saw Jesper sense this, this feeling of alarm coursing through him (was it flowing through me too?), dividing his attention just as the spear came in again.  He turned toward me, I think to again get me out of the way, felt the spear puncture his chest again, thought better of pushing me, and focused all his energy on Lucy, slamming her with both palms, keeping the spear from penetrating further.  He hadn’t had the time to pull his punch and Lucy went flying.

She crashed into the bookcase next to Nick’s leaning body, then disappeared in a poof of black smoke.  Jesper’s command would not let Nick get out of the way.  Two entire shelves of books went flying and hit him, dropping him in a heap to the floor. 

I finally was going to get my chance to break this up.  Jesper moved his head for an instant to me and I saw his eyes were glowing with that strange amber light again.  I hesitated.  Something tugged at a memory.  Distant sands, mosaic tiles, strong coffee, call to prayers.  I stepped toward him.

He hesitated too, too long to prepare a more subtle defense against the sudden reappearance of crows solidifying into a two handed swipe with the kukri.  I know what it looked like to see death through decapitation flying on glossy raven wings because I was standing right in front of it.


Behind me, I felt rather than saw light, a wave of it, carried almost like Vox Compulsum, crash into me flowing all around me and hitting Lucy wherever I didn’t give her cover.  The force of the strange light smacked me hard into her and instead of my normal fading black circle of consciousness, this time light seemed to burn me up from the outside in.  All the while my neck at the base of my throat was burning.

I closed my eyes with the impact and felt dark, cold sand between my fingers, underneath my nails as I dug.  Then everything went familiarly black.

Case #13 – Maurice: The Becoming Part Two (as told by sister Lucy)

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , on November 8, 2009 by vampirony

It was Annabel’s death that threw me off, hide the truth that was right before my eyes.  And the wall was there between us although us three traveling together, depending on each other seemed to drop most of the barriers between Maurice and myself.  Things had changed but I thought in many ways, we were stronger together.  The closeness between them I thought was that of a mother that had lost her children only to gain new ones.  For Maurice’s part, I still clung to the idea that he and Annabel had been first loves.  Well, I’m sure it might have been for her.  And for a time, I’m sure he was smitten with her.  But that’s not why he tried to save her.  She was a gift and a test.  And a trap all in one.

You mustn’t think poorly of Maurice.  He did none of that with malice in his heart, no true understanding of how his childish ambitions would play out.  i’m not even really sure that he consciousness knew how all of it fit together.  He was too close to it and reacted.  He wanted to keep her with him.  And as her child lay dying, in the way that our partly vampire minds think, he weighed so many variables.  As we’ve aged, I’ve watched many other vampires, seen how they think, felt it.  Perhaps it is another gift I have.  It’s not quite telepathy.  But I’ve been watching them for so long, I can feel their intent as it flows into their actions.  It’s kept us alive, in the most dire of times. 

But I suffered from nearsightedness, I was too close to it all to see it for far too long.  I was also inexperienced; we had been children made and the interactions between men and women, while I would see them, knew of them, my young vampire mind did not understand.  I had very much liked Lucas.  But I had not loved him.  I had not wanted him in that way.  Maurice and I had agreed to take turns surveying any new area during the night, Caroline would do so during the day while helping to get us situated.  But never for very long.  West.   She wanted us to move West.

The hints were small.  They would tense when I interrupted them.  Soon, I was taking most watches because I was better out sneaking around, becoming invisible.  It was true but something in his intention when he suggested it…well, like I said, it took me some time to question it.  Plus, I loved to go out into the night, watch how humans interacted, especially in the cities.  They lived on, danced, played, celebrated, never acting as if their fragility mattered when it was always there, just a hand’s breath away.  The actress, the courtesans always fascinated me.  How little power they had in that man’s world but how much control they could possess.  I watched it with fascination only to see it crumble so many times.  The tools of their trade:  makeup, perfume, clothes, manners, caresses, beguiling glances…I began to see it in her, began to see how she played him, how she whispered. 

For awhile, it didn’t bother me so much to know.  I love my brother.  I didn’t begrudge him any happiness she might’ve shared with him.  But as the years passed, I began to see her frozen in time.  At first, she seemed to become ageless.  And then, the fine lines began to disappear, the sagginess becoming taut and curved.  Her years of laboring were falling away from her and soon, the arguments started.  She was getting the sort of attention from all men that my brother must have lavished on her at night while I was away.  And she liked it.  They would have spats and he would take watch, unsettled, angry.  Sometimes, he would forget to bring us fresh blood.  Once, I was so starved I had to follow him to make sure he didn’t neglect us.

He had killed a deer.  But he had not drank.  After I took my turn, I held his hand and sat with him.  The wall had started to crumble.  He was afraid she would leave us.  He didn’t know what she wanted any more.  He was certain he’d never be able to give her enough.  But I knew what he did not.  Caroline had become addicted to the attention she received.  And while at the time I did not understand how she was able to do it, she was regaining her youth, maintaining it through Maurice.  I tread with care.  It had helped him to talk some; it quieted some of the brewing storm.  But the spats would happen, he would retreat, and I would comfort him.  Little by little, he admitted what they had done together.  The more contact with her he had, the more time seemed to turn backwards for her.

We had to stop the lie of her being our mother…she became our elder sister which made all of us uncomfortable.  But she quickly got over it.  So much easier was it to play the role of elder guardian than poor, widowed mother with two children.  She might be emancipated from us.  I was afraid it would break Maurice.  His powers were growing as were mine and his needs, they were growing too.  I knew I had to do something.  To keep my brother, I would need to break the bond between them.  I would have to find a way to make him choose.  His lover or his sister.

He choose Caroline and so I left him to her.  We were apart for a year and a day.  Our reunion was bittersweet.  He found me in Fort Shaw, Montana, where I was helping a blind priest named Nathaniel minister to the natives there.  It was 1887 and he wanted me to travel back East to St. Paul to clean up his mess, to undo what he had unleashed.  Caroline had changed into something neither of us could’ve predicted.  Maybe it was his fluids, his blood as he had begun to share that with her too.  Maybe it was that something was lacking as neither of us were quite mature yet.  It didn’t matter.  Enough had happened that he finally realized what she was and what, with my help, he needed to do.

We had to kill her, you see.  We had to kill Maurice’s first love.  She had become a succubus.