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May 20, 2024

Strange Bedfellows 43

By Lydia Manx

Harry finished up his text messaging and said to Simon, "I see DB needs to clear up some things for us."

Yep, Harry nailed it. Simon nodded. My fledgling wasn't exactly going to jump up and head out without giving us information. It would be a race to get all the information from him before he died a true vampire death. The stakes pinning DB weren't fatal but the slow leaking of his blood was. Near as we could tell, Damson Barlow, my vampire, had been staked into the flooring of Harry's guesthouse for at least two full days and nights. Most vampires recover if given a large infusion of blood but whoever had left him for dead had also broken off his fangs. That made feeding of my nearly feral vampire almost impossible.

"Natasha, are you going to be able to handle questioning of him?" Simon asked me.

"Sire, I think you or Harry would be a better choice." Which was true, because I just wanted to pluck out one of the stakes and drive it straight through his barely beating heart. Simon had already said I could ask my fledgling the necessary questions to get to the bottom of why he was staked on the floor and who the hell did it, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep my temper in check.

Simon chuckled and said, "Let Harry question the fool. Harry, if you would be so kind."

He turned and gave Harry a regal nod. I stepped away from DB's body and let Harry take my place. It was odd to feel so detached from my own vampire but after DB had tried to kill me recently, honestly, I wasn't quite sure that I'd be able to remain so distant. It wouldn't take much to make me want to tear his head from his shoulders and spike it on the top of one of the many stakes keeping him frozen. The two wooden stakes that were pinning down his both of his palms were close to me and I'd already run that 'spontaneous' scenario through my mind more than once since we'd come across the display.

From the hallway, Harry picked up the three-wicked pedestal candle and moved it closer to better illuminate the wayward vamp for the upcoming inquisition. It wasn't the normal milieu for questioning disobedient vampires in the least. Then I saw that Harry took a minute to grab a black bag from a cupboard near where he picked up the candle. After carrying both over to my fledgling, he pulled out some items and he took the time to carefully show a few things to DB before setting the sharp and dangerous looking toys next to him. The juxtaposition of DB's black form staked and the leather and spiked metal implements on the hardwood floor was disturbing.

The items were various tools of torture familiar to most third world inquisitors, horrible despots and a few nasty homegrown creeps. The other bits and pieces brought out that weren't recognizable as torture tools intrigued me more. Harry wasn't telling DB anything about the devices or their intended uses. The silence was oddly full of unspoken promises.

Simon picked up a thin, long, steel rod -- the type usually skewering bits of meat and veggies over hot coals -- and touched the pointed tip to his finger. He shook his head with bemusement as a bead of blood formed immediately. Damson groaned and mumbled something in Spanish. I hadn't realized he even knew Spanish. Most of the time he swore in French. He then lapsed into a guttural curse in German. His mind was spinning. I made sure to push his thoughts free from mine. His bloodlust was scenting the room nearly as much as his fear and pain.

"Damson Barlow, your maker has decided to let me questions you about the past few days. If you decide to answer your death will be swift and relatively painless." Harry was using his formal voice and lacing the words with some sort of vampiric strength. I could feel the power in what he said and the promise of untold amounts of pain if Damson decided to be less than forthcoming. A fissure of excitement danced along my veins. I would finally be free of Damson through no fault of mine.

Damson sighed, "I hear your words, Old Man."

Funny he thought of Harry as old. I guess he was, but the lack of respect was going to cost him. Harry didn't say anything in reply to the jab but simply picked up a micro-grater and drew the sharp teeth across DB's fingertips. The vampire arched and screamed. His nerve endings were still intact despite his being charcoal. Vampires had been known to feel phantom pain on limbs after they'd been severed but I'd never thought burnt fingertips could still feel. I was wrong and DB was writhing up against the crest of nerve endings being abraded.

Harry didn't say anything. He didn't have to because Damson started talking. His voice wasn't loud but his words cut sharper than any of the utensils available.

"I never asked to be made into a vampire. But once I figured out the power and the strength, I savored my new life. Natasha wasn't a good Master." Here he shot me a look of pure hatred and I flipped him off and shrugged. I had turned a sociopath, so it wasn't like he was good with emotions. He cowered as it dawned on him that Harry might not care for me being insulted, but recovered quickly by rapidly talking.

"Simon, her Master, is far superior. He understands what it means to be a real vampire. He doesn't answer to anyone and holds thousands of humans in his territory. He can sip from any of them anytime he wants and he also has over a dozen or more vampires to do his bidding." The jealousy lacing his words wasn't missed by any of us. Nobody corrected him on the concept of how many humans actually were in Simon's territory or even how many vampires Simon had made, but silently we all marveled at his mistaken concepts. The idea that Simon didn't report to anyone was also amusing given the vampire council and the constant wars going on around us. The past week alone proved that, and I wasn't going to interject my opinion. But I so wanted to ask Harry to hurry him along, but bit my tongue and waited. Simon wasn't as pleased by the obvious sucking up my vampire was attempting. He cleared his throat softly and Harry picked up a thin, leather whip. It was obvious how that would be used.

"No, let me explain." DB whined, "So I started trying to find some vampires more like me than her."

It took all my personal willpower to resist snatching the whip from Harry's hand and smacking DB into another pain cycle. From his personal past I knew he liked to whip women and men when bored, so part of me thought that could fall more under 'reward' rather than 'punishment' category to him. Simon stroked a finger down my back again and I kept my impulses buried. Harry chuckled and fed Damson's ego.

"Of course, I understand. You wanted to rise above your beginnings and find your true path." Harry made it sound sincere. I would have gagged before speaking like that, so I thought that it was better that Harry was doing the questioning. I noticed DB was beginning to look a bit gray but I wasn't going to point it out. Time was speeding up incredibly and I didn't want to interrupt Harry's flow. DB bought the words and simpered to Harry.

"Exactly!" He again looked daggers at me -- which I ignored -- then continued, "When I was sent down here by Master Simon to find out what Kenyon was doing at Dark Whispers I found there were others trying to form stronger alliances." He didn't have a clue how many rules he'd broken by even thinking of stepping outside his territory and bonding with rogue vampires and we weren't going to point it out while he was still spewing information.

"Did Kenyon know that you were seeking some alliances?" Simon interrupted softly. DB didn't think and automatically answered with, "Yes."

That simple word easily slid a stake into Kenyon's reign of horrors. There was no way that Harry wouldn't report to the vampire council the transgressions and that wouldn't end well for any vampire associated with the mess. I felt a sliver of anger at my ignorance of how far my minion had strayed. Something inside me flipped and I tried to keep my features calm and relaxed. Not that it would matter in the end since both Simon and Harry could read me if they wished because of our blood ties. Hopefully I wouldn't be held accountable, but I wasn't sure. Harry wasn't my Master and he had alliances within the council and beyond. Even though DB had mentioned that Simon had sent him to down to Southern California to help in the investigation of Kenyon it all went back to the basic fact that I was still his Master.

It was odd seeing Damson charred and staked on Harry's guesthouse floor. His normally clean-shaven body -- from head to toe, I had been told over the years, but never checked for myself -- was black and thoroughly baked for all practical purposes. His eyes were still as dead as ever but without the white skin to accent his features it was like looking at a film negative. His emotions were never easily read, but the lack of contrast further made it rough. I wasn't inside his mind because it had grown so pain-filled and dark I wasn't going to bother.

DB hated me to his core and with his nearing death that hadn't abated in the least. The toxins flowing from him weren't easily dismissed, and besides that I wasn't going to give him any comfort. He'd made an alliance with Kenyon, even become his spokesperson for the vampires with the werewolves, I'd been told by Renee in private. He and Marcus were somehow linked in tormenting souls in the past few weeks.

I knew this because Renee and I had a chance to chat a bit during our various flights back and forth between Kentucky and she'd taken the time to fill me in on what she knew. Carlos and Marcus had shown up on her doorstep after Jessie, one of Simon's vampires, had been slain with her ex-boyfriend Buddy. Carlos was the alpha werewolf for a large area of the western United States territory and his getting engaged to a vampire hadn't been well received. When he and Marcus had landed on Renee's doorstep she'd found out that Marcus and DB had a bit of history. DB was well entrenched with Kenyon's crew by then. It all made me slightly sick.

If had I pushed into Damson's mind he easily could have found a taste of sanctuary since I was his Master. I knew how powerful that was, and since Simon didn't ask me to save my fledgling, I figured he deserved whatever hell on earth he was given. Time was quickly passing and Harry needed to find out what Damson knew before he bled out his final death. Simon softly pushed into my mind and tried to calm me, it didn't work.

"Damson, who staked you here?" Harry had picked up on how quickly time was passing. With the dark interior of the guesthouse I still could feel the sun pushing up on the horizon. The fog didn't dissipate the sunlight but simply buffered the noises from outside. The birds had stopped chirping but I could understand, because the air seemed tainted by DB's fading.

My fledgling looked around towards the shadows in the room and said, "Vampires."

I wanted to say, No shit.

Resisting, I let Harry ask, "Which vampires? And how did they get you?"

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-06-21
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