"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


See Part Four here.

I sat in a garden of brambles and creepers, the sky above me a luminous void.  It was never really black any more.  To my new eyes, even the darkest, moonless night was a dim, steel blue, and the stars blazed so intensely I could now read comfortably by their light.  This was balanced, I suppose, by the day, when the sky overhead burned white hot from horizon to horizon, and direct sunlight felt like a million needles prickling my skin.  I didn't burst into flame, as my kind did in Hollywood movies, but it was uncomfortable and I couldn't function without sunglasses.

I had no idea where I was.  The garden was fenced in with stone and wrought iron, but everything inside its walls was decayed.  There were a few dead trees, a dried up fountain of cracked stone, a wooden gazebo half devoured by termites and rot.  It slowly came to me, as I rose to my feet, that it wasn't a garden at all.  Through the high, yellowed grass I could see shattered tombstones and a few crumbling vaults.  A lichen covered angel, her face eaten away by time, stared at me.  It was a cemetery, and one that had been ignored a century at least by the look of it.

There is such power in you now.

The voice was that of a man, deep and though speaking English, vaguely European in accent.  I turned slowly in a circle, looking for him.  Nothing escaped my sight; not the beetles scurrying in the dust nor the spiders in their webs, not the cracks in the stone walls nor the rust on the iron bars.  But the source of the voice was hidden to me.  He was near, but entirely invisible.

You have Athena to thank for that.  You have been Sired so close to the Source, far closer than I...

I narrowed my eyes.  "Harot?"

Ah... the voice purred.  You recognize my voice.

"How could I?"  I asked.  "I've never actually heard it."  I started walking slowly among the ruined graves, my gaze relentless, penetrating every nook and cranny.  He was right, of course.  My Sire was a First Generation and I a Second.  That placed me two steps away from the Patriarch of my Blood Line, and three from Lachiel himself.  As far as the Progeny went, the blood flowing in me was incredibly potent, ringing with the echoes of the magic which made my kind.  In the weeks I had spent with Athena and my Clan, I had been learning to harness this great Gift.  It seemed inconceivable that someone could be so close to me and yet still hide from my sharpened senses.

Have you not?  Have you not indeed?

An image burned in my brain so clearly, so intensely, and so suddenly I was certain it had just been placed there.  I saw a child in a crib.  I saw a tall, lanky shadow leaning over the infant.  I saw drops of blood fall on the baby's lips, the shadow encouraging it to suck...

"You?  You fed me your blood?  All those years ago?"  A spark of anger ignited in my belly and started shouldering there.  "Why?"

Why indeed.  There is only one way to know the answer, young Master Draegonne.  Come home to me.

My eyes snapped open, staring at the closed lid of the box I lay in.  There was not, for me, any line between waking and my 'slumber.'  Unlike my breathing days, there was no struggle to shake off sleep.  One moment I was, for all intents and purposes, a corpse.  The next I was fully alert.  And my repose was never troubled by dreams.  That made this vision, this telepathic conversation with Harot, all the more disturbing.  It had been happening with increasing strength and regularity the last week or so.  Harot was somehow reaching out to me, calling me to him.

I climbed from the box and went to the window, staring out at the sky.  The moon was nearly full, and even behind the thick clouds and pouring rain the night was luminous to me.  Each falling rain drop glittered like a diamond.  I drew in a breath; though I no longer needed to breathe, I could still do so for the purpose of scent.  Thousands of layered odors, from the rain and the earth and the garden below, mingled in my brain.

I knew I should go to Athena with this, or even Alexa or Decem.  I understood the bonds of blood that now held us, and I knew my Sire and clan would aid me.  I like to think that I would have confided in them, like a reasonable creature, if I hadn't first checked my phone.

Go ahead.  Check it.

Athena liked to pretend she didn't understand the modern world.  She had, on several occasions, made reference to the Internet as "that web thing."  As a being nine centuries old one might even be tempted to believe her.  But I was no fool.  Her ancient mind drank in information like blood, but she was wise enough to never show her full hand.  Besides, the clan's lair had full wi-fi, and excellent wi-fi at that.

I used it now, taking my smartphone from the drawer where I kept it.  My phone service had been terminated, but I could still use the wi-fi here and I still had my Google address.  I checked the mail now, rapidly, scanning until I saw something from attorneys I did not know.  I read the email a dozen times in the space of thirty seconds.  By the end of that minute, I had made up my mind.

I would leave tomorrow.

Tonight it was not possible.  Decem, by Brother in Blood, was transforming his own Get this evening.  The Tenebrati were gathering in the Chapel again to bear witness and welcome her, and this time I would be part of the ceremony rather than the recipient.  So I pushed Harot from my thoughts and dressed in a long black sherwani, the outfit that spoke the most to me from those in the wardrobe provided for me.  When the Familiar came to summon me, I was ready.  I noticed it was the boy I had attacked before.

He seemed fully recovered, but still I lowered my eyes in shame.  "I wanted to say...about the last time...I..."  I stammered like an idiot, trying to think of an apology sufficient for nearly killing him.  But the boy just looked at me, his eyes glinting in the candlelight.  Wordlessly, he started to unbutton his shirt.

"Wait!  What are you..." I was completely taken aback, as he let the shirt fall to the floor behind him, a smile on his lips.  He could not have been older than seventeen or eighteen, just wiry muscle and bone under smooth pale skin.  There was no hair on his chest, and only the barest wisps of it in a dark line below his navel.  He took a few steps towards me and turned his head, offering his throat.  He was breathing hard, but something told me it wasn't from fear.  Despite having nearly killed him, he was offering himself to me again, and I remembered his erection the last time I fed on him.  He gets off on this, I thought, feeling attracted and repulsed at the same moment.  He likes being used.

I put my hands on his bare shoulders, feeling the warmth in his skin.  At the same time I could feel his pulse, throbbing through his body.  My fangs unsheathed themselves, my grip on him tightening.  I tried to keep Athena's warning to me in the front of my mind, and lowered my lips to his exposed throat as gently as possible.  The skin was slightly fuzzy against my lips, and when the fangs broke it, it was like biting into a peach.

The boy moaned out loud and pressed himself against me.  His arms wrapped around my torso and clung to it.  I held him just as firmly, my lips closed in a tight seal over the wound I had made, my tongue flicking against it again and again to keep the blood flowing.  Just like before, the boy's thoughts opened to me.  He had volunteered for this duty...trading with the girl who had been assigned to me since I attacked him.  I like the handsome American, he had told her, it is my joy to serve him.  And though, since my Change, I had not myself felt any stirrings of sexual desire, I could feel his desire for me flowing in the blood.  I could feel him rocking his body gently against mine, grinding his pelvis against me hip as I sucked.  I could feel the heat building in him.  Suddenly, with a sharp cry, his fingers dug into my back and I felt the orgasm that rocked through him, felt it as if I myself had just come.  Releasing my grasp I pulled away, licking the wound again to close it.  The warmth and heat of the life I stole from him surged through me, I felt superhuman, like I could punch through concrete or leap skyscrapers.

The boy took my hand and pressed it against his own cheek, kissing the fingers before releasing it.  He hurried back into his shirt and composing himself, gestured towards the door.  In the close quarters of the room, and with my sharpened senses, I could smell the semen running down his leg, and saw the stain of it on his trousers.  Neither of us said anything.  I simply followed him out of the room.

I had been, by that time, to a handful of such gatherings.  Athena had brought me with her to one gala and introduced me to Lord Aurelius, the founder of the Raven's Claw.  At another she introduced me to her own Brother in Blood, where Aurelius was in attendance again.  On both occasions Athena's actions had raised questions in my mind.  Why had she accepted me?  Why had she taken it upon herself to Sire me?  She was a Clan Ruler, a First Generation, a creature nearly a millennium old.  What had caused her to transform a brash young American who had come begging to be saved from death?  The way in which she was so careful to present me to Aurelius, and her bloodkin, only deepened my suspicions.  Was she grooming me?  If so, for what?  I was bound to her now eternally by blood, my Mother in Darkness.  And yet, she was the Queen on a chessboard where I was just a meager pawn.  I had no idea what her endgame was.

No, not a pawn.  A voice in my head whispered.  I didn't know if it was Harot's or my own.  Chess ranks Pawns and Knights and Bishops as minor pieces.  It continued.  There are only two major pieces.  The Queen and the Rook.

And then, as if she heard what I was thinking, Athena looked up at me from clear across the room.

The Familiar led me into the Chapel, and for some reason I felt a stab of embarrassment.  I am sure everyone in the room could smell the fresh sex still wet on the boy.  So what?  You fed.  It is what you have been reborn to do.  Squaring my shoulders I glanced around and greeted the crowd.  Decem was there, and presented Isabel to me, the mortal he was about to change.  Summoning my Old World vampire charm, I took her hand and kissed it, much to Athena's amusement and the amusement of most the people in the room.  I recognized others as well.  Maximilian was there, as he had been at my turning.  There were some other familiar faces as well.

As the crowd continued to gather I wandered about, listening.  I was growing used to what I know considered "vampire speech," the eerie, ultra-frequency whispers the Progeny shared when they wished to be unheard.  As there had been at the last two gatherings, there were whispers all around of the Outcasts, and growing tensions with them.  The "white queen" I had met in the Progeny Castle, I now knew, was one of these clanless  Outcasts, and like the barbarians at the gates of Rome there were an steadily increasing threat.  Now, it seemed, I had missed an actual battle.  A skirmish had broken out between my Clan and the Outcasts the night before, and Athena herself had fought...much to the shock of many present.  I didn't fully understand vampire politics yet, but I knew chess.  You don't risk the Queen without good cause.

But she kept you out of this fight, the voice whispered again.  Is she protecting you?

There were other buzzings.  Some I had also heard.  There was gossip that Lachiel, the Fallen Angel who unleashed both the vampires and the shapeshifters on the world, was preparing to unleash Slayers...humans empowered to hunt and kill us.  No one seemed certain why, but Lachiel was inscrutable and capricious.  Perhaps he liked to sow conflict.  Perhaps he only wanted the strongest of his Progeny to survive.  None knew the answer, or if the rumor was even true...but many buzzed about it nevertheless.

We gathered finally around the altar, forming a circle.  The rest...I cannot speak of.  Isabel was changed as I had been, and to repay my debt to Decem I offered my own blood to assist the change.  It was important to me to repay that debt, because as the ceremony concluded I knew it was the last I would see of him for awhile.  America was calling me back, Harrow House was calling me.  I knew the pull would only grow stronger the more I tried to resist it.

The evening drew to a close and we welcomed Isabel to the fold, and as I said my goodbyes for the night I could feel Athena's eyes watching me.  If I had been wise, I would have confided in her.  Instead, I played right into Harot's trap.

Read Part 6 Here

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