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June 27, 2022

Strange Bedfellows 55

By Lydia Manx

The steel of my blade sunk into her chest stopped Cynthia, pinning her to the ground, and she definitely wasn't happy. She let off trying to push into my mind to control me and instead hissed at me. It was all I could do to not laugh aloud at her attitude. She hadn't fed from strong enough humans or vampires to sustain much more than her minion and her own black soul. She wasn't old enough to master mind control without draining others. Both Simon and Harry could easily push into minds as could Renee and I, but it wasn't an immediate vampire gift despite all the tall tales told.

Renee said, "Don't worry, Natasha, we've got it."

She was talking about the approaching witch. I was hoping it was the Jasmine creature, not some new screw up we'd have to deal with like Cynthia. I so wanted to shove my sword to the right and cut out her heart then mail her damnable ass back to Arizona with a note to the true Council-recognized Master of that territory. Something pithy like, "Is this yours?" was running in my mind.

I guess it sucked to be new in town without a full retinue of minion to drain in order to play mind games. I smiled down at Cynthia and said, "Knock that shit off or I'll think that you don't like me."

She snarled, "You are less than nothing. You and your vampires are all useless and old. You will soon feel my wrath and I'll make you regret your resistance."

I wanted to ask her if she was 'borg' and if all the other Star Trek fans knew she'd escaped the desert without them. Yeah, either way she was sure overconfident. I couldn't feel any other vampires in the vicinity but the ones with me, so I wasn't stressing over that taunt and toothless threat.

"Gee, that's pretty mean. And here I'd figured that you'd come all the way out to California to make some new friends." I was killing time while we were all waiting to find out who the approaching creature was. The odd emptiness and disturbance of the animals at the San Diego Zoo which was within the Park led us all to conclude it was a witch. Cynthia was very much mistaken in thinking it was Trevor. He was the witch she'd sent out after Simon and Harry that I'd killed. Stakes worked on witches just as fatally as vampires, I'd found out.

But she'd claimed the person coming was her 'pet' and if that truly was the case and the creature was part of Cynthia's retinue it had better not be Jasmine, Harry's friend. Or Cynthia had better be seriously in error as to the creature's loyalties. I couldn't handle another betrayal in Harry's group anymore than Harry could. From everything I saw Harry was at his wits' end with all the deadly conflicts in his ranks.

Furious, Cynthia wiggled a bit on the end of my sword then she spit out, "Your fate is sealed. I will have you as my personal lap dog. I'll muzzle you and prance you around on a leash." She focused on my face and flashed her fangs to accentuate the meaning behind her words -- like I didn't already know what she meant.

Nice to hear that she was under the delusion that she'd survive the night. As far as her nasty ideas concerning me, that would never even happen. I'd sooner walk into a bonfire at dawn before I'd be her bitch. Keeping that thought buried, I said, "See, you really do like me! Wanting to play bondage games and we haven't even been properly introduced." I sneered while moving my sword a tad closer to her heart. She dropped her gaze from mine and looked past me.

A shadow was finally immerging from the darkness. The shape was decidedly female and then a stray moonbeam hit the woman's hair. Auburn-red locks and a scent of death confirmed her identity to me -- it was Jasmine. Hell, she was even more stunning than Harry's memory. Living with a vampire obviously hadn't harmed the medium in any way. Both Harry and Simon sighed slightly. Jasmine had already begun to speak the moment that she could see all of us. Her words tumbled and twisted into the air falling from her lips like small pebbles in a pond. The energy waves rippling the surface of the air grew larger as they struck out. Tossing rocks into a pond with her words was the best image I could come up with as the power radiated towards us nearly touchable in the strength and intention. There was a force behind her words that ran over me.

A chill raced down my back and it wasn't from the wind blowing through the night. This definitely was a powerful creature with some serious magical strength behind her. I felt the touch of her vampire mate holding her steady as she strolled to us, still muttering incantations and spells. I didn't see the vampire anywhere or feel him hiding in the bushes waiting to pounce so most likely their tie was mental. I wondered how it was that neither of them were mad from the connection. Thinking that, I saw that both Simon and Harry were swaying in time to the poetry in her words. Her voice was a weapon in its own right. Cynthia looked puzzled and I watched her try to move away from the steel of the blade I had piercing her chest. She hadn't been expecting Jasmine so the fear of another betrayal was temporarily pushed back for me. My concerns were simple -- how did I get my two vampires free from the spell and afterwards what to do with Cynthia?

Jasmine continued her mumbling and walking to our little group without any hesitation. I guess knowing Trevor was dead made it easier for her to come into Balboa Park without worry about treading on another's territory. I wasn't clear on how witches carved up the scenery, but from our earlier conversation it was apparent that there were some sort of regional areas controlled by certain witches. Yet another hole in my education about other supernatural creatures, I was starting to think I'd lived my whole vampiric life in a bubble.

"Jasmine?" Cynthia looked perplexed and I was shocked. She knew the name of Harry's 'medium/witch'! Trevor had either been a talkative sort or there was some history between the Arizona intruder and the gal supposedly playing for our team.

"Silence!" Jasmine's voice boomed out loudly and she continued to wave her hands with a graceful series of gestures and words. She was a good ten feet from us when I noticed that her eyes were glowing oddly blue-green. The voice wasn't what I'd expected either. I had talked with her and she hadn't sound so harsh and masculine. Slowly it dawned on me that she probably had channeled some dead person. After all she had been described to me as a 'dead speaker' and that seemed like a logical leap.

Trembling on the ground, Cynthia's eyes grew huge and she asked, "Master?"

Okay, that sure sounded like the dead who was speaking through Jasmine was a Master vampire. It gave me pause and another thing to stress about after all. There had to be a crossover of some sort of supernatural boundaries and arrangements that wasn't good with a medium being able to channel a dead vampire. I was glad that I wasn't planning on asking anyone anything, because Cynthia began wiggling harder. Instead of trying to get away from the sword's edge, she seemed to be trying now to slice her own damned heart out. That wouldn't do if we needed her alive to complete whatever ritual was needed to completely free Simon and Harry.

"Hey, hey, hey! That's my job," I hissed softly, seeing how she really was determined to kill herself.

It didn't help that I wasn't sure what I needed to do. Just then Jasmine came to our little tableau and reached for Cynthia. I involuntarily jerked back away from her and with my abrupt movement, the Civil War sword, which was still firmly in my hand, made a rather disgusting sucking sound and popped completely out of the vamp's chest. Cynthia was free but scrabbling backwards on all fours like an upside-down spider. She butted head first up against a trashcan. I found it mildly appropriate in view of the fact that I considered her little more than vampire garbage.

I took the time to launch myself out of touch range from the witch. I wasn't loving the strength they seemed to have over us vampires, and wondered at my lack of education under Simon's tutelage. It didn't matter because I definitely wasn't Jasmine's focal point. She completely disregarded us to focus all her energy and attention on Cynthia.

But even while getting myself clear of the danger zone, I did take a second to see that both Harry and Simon seemed to be livelier and more aware of their surroundings. Whatever Jasmine had been saying seemed to make a dent in Trevor's curse. They still looked far too interested in Jasmine, but at least they'd lost the lovelorn looks they'd been nearly wearing when looking at Cynthia. Jasmine had stopped chanting and was kneeling next to the still prone vampire.

Her hands were no longer gracefully arcing and weaving in the air but now they trembled and somehow looked thicker and stronger. She reached towards Cynthia's lips and with trembling white fingertips slowly traced her mouth. A flutter of sensuality rose like a fog from the gesture. My stomach felt a warmth and excitement of sexual lust for the two. It dawned on me that Jasmine was literally allowing Cynthia's Master to touch her. Cynthia licked her lips and the proffered fingertips that had been tracing her lips, but once tasting them she exclaimed, horrified, "But it can't be. You're dead!"

She kept blinking and trying to maneuver away from the woman. Jasmine's hand dropped to her side.

Jasmine laughed and it was a deep, bellowing sound. I knew that the Master had been a large man when human. His laughter was disturbing and haunting. The big cats in the distance at the Zoo called out with an equally disturbing roaring answer.

"Master, I am sorry." She actually looked afraid rather than sorry.

"Cynthia, I made you in love and you killed me. You didn't stay around long enough to learn what I had to teach you. You made abominations and called them your fledglings. They are against all that is Vampire." His voice was growing stronger through Jasmine's lips. I could nearly see the vampire underneath her skin. Shifting and shaping her lips to make his words understood made it eerie to watch Jasmine talk.

"But, Master, how else could I survive?" She was clueless -- the Master's anger was now vibrating from Jasmine, thoroughly washing away any feelings of lust much less love. His vampiric scent was sagebrush mixed with the desert winds -- and once I thought about him it dawned on me that there was little more than dust and spiders to keep his corpse company now wherever Cynthia had dumped his body, but I wasn't going to point that out. She doubtlessly stuck him in an airtight and lightproof container -- and given how he felt to me as I watched Jasmine's demeanor, I doubted Cynthia had done anything properly to keep her Master completely dead and gone. There were steps that had to be done to assure finality.

All these images were flooding my senses. I felt and saw how Cynthia had risen up from his embrace, laughing, naked and covered with blood. Her vampiric birth had been a wave of sensual pleasures with humans slashed and drained while their blood literally was used to bathe her into a vampiric existence. I felt how the Master had just finished allowing her to feed from his neck when things got out of control. Naturally she'd insisted on the most intimate of vampire embraces saying if he truly loved her that was what he must do. Most fledgling vampires fed from the wrists or inner thighs because it was easier to control the mindless blood sucking creation.

From what I watched and sensed, Cynthia had intended from the beginning of her change to be the strongest fledgling alive. Well, wrong word but basically she wanted immediate gratification as a Master Vampire without earning any of the title. She rapidly cut corners for an up and coming vampire. That was part of what made her a rogue. That and how she went about her transformation from Goth club girl in the middle of a dry desert Arizona town to claiming she was a Master vampire when she met with Kenyon to negotiate for territory. I'd been a vampire for many decades while she'd put in less than time than it took for a tree to reach maturity. That alone pissed me off.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-09-20
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