Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chapter Ten: That Old Black Magic

When Anna submitted herself to Vance’s power to transform into mist, she inadvertently gave him an opportunity to turn their positions around.

For Anna, it was like floating on a cloud with no feeling, no sensation, just the barest form of consciousness. Her thoughts were so scattered she felt a sense of vertigo. But there was no body to feel nauseous, nor even any sense of up or down. She felt helpless and this brought despair.

“Don’t worry,” Vance’s voice reverberated around her. “You’re just too damn delicious for me to hurt you. I just want to know what the hell is going on, and you’ve conveniently made yourself an open book to me.” She wanted to tell him that none of the stories mentioned this, that she needed his help. She felt like she was going to die. But she was diffuse, hardly a being at all.

“I’ve got you, love.” He sounded more caring than snide now. “We’re almost there. Third floor, just like you said. But first, oh, that’s interesting.”

Anna saw through her own eyes again, but felt no sense of control. She was visiting Vance’s crypt. It was daylight and she’d had the key from the groundsman. It had cost her fifty bucks, but it was worth it for the first trip. She realized this was the first one, the first of three.

“I thought so,” said Vance. “I heard your heartbeat, you know? I thought it was just once before the night you came to wake me, but you’d been there twice.” He nodded, putting it together.

Anna thought she’d do anything for him to release her. She never meant to hurt him at all. She loved him. 

“I know, sweet thing,” he said and gave a chuckle. “And I love you, too.”

She felt relief. Her vertigo subsided. 

“But if you mean that,” he continued, “you’ll allow me to do the same to you. That’s how it usually works, at least between partners.” The last word was delivered with reproof rather than anger. 

Anna tried to convey assent, avid assent. In her terrified, disembodied state, it was not difficult to subdue her triumph. Drinking his blood from him willingly was always a part of her plan. 

“I do not trust people who do not fear me, Anna. Those who do not are either fools or threats. Which one are you, Anna?”

‘I’m a fool for you, Vance,’ she thought. ‘You are my midnights. My fire, my stars, my moonlight. In darkness, you are sight.’

The cold emptiness turned to warmth and life and she was again in Vance’s arms, though she lay on the floor, and he sat cradling her affectionately. 

“You are a hellion, do you know that?”

“One hundred percent!” she  whispered, still finding her voice after the terror of their misty journey into the library.

“I cannot compel you to do as you have agreed to, but I assure you—“

“No, no.” She protested. “I will do as you have asked. I want to.”

Vance bit his lip and gazed upon her. His teeth drew blood and he said, “It just takes a little bit. You’ll feel better.” Then he kissed her and she tasted the salty, coppery tang of blood on his lips and she kissed him a harder. Then she held him tight and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.

He helped her up. She found the pack of flashlights and other small utilities that she had stashed earlier in the day. She did feel better.

“So, you’ve literally given me some of your life force, making me more… mortal, and therefore able to survive the sun. Is that it?”

“More or less, yes.”

“But that’s different,” his brogue was coming through. Anna thought that meant he was feeling something very intensely. “That’s different from the ritual we’re searching for.”

“Completely. I can stave off decay or entropy, or I can speed it up. What we need is a way to break the curse.”

They reached the special collection and Anna picked the lock. “And I have reason to believe, it’s somewhere in…” she looked along the shelves.  

“Here,” said Vance, drawing a book from the shelf behind her. It was bound in black leather with gold fillagree and trimming. 

“That’s the Libro Noctegenus?” she asked. 

“Nope. Les Cultes des Ghoules. Very useful.” 

Anna nodded. “I don’t see it. Damn, where else would have it?”

“Not sure, but we’ll find it.”

“What makes you so sure?”

He held up the book. “This. This is awesome. And don’t worry. We have time. All the time in the world.”

“What’s in there?” She peered at the book, very eager to read anything that made Vance so excited.

“An army,” he said cryptically.

Anna put the book into her satchel and returned to Vance’s arms. This time the trip was not so bad.
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