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July 04, 2022

Strange Bedfellows 58

By Lydia Manx

Jasmine continued to speak, entreat and beguile the unseen powers with her beautifully spoken Latin spell. All six of us saw that Cynthia was no longer conscious. The rivulets of blood coating -- hell crawling up -- Jasmine's arm from the wound I'd made in Cynthia's chest were slowing now. The red spattering droplets that didn't stay on Jasmine's skin fell and disappeared into the ground below as if the Earth herself was also getting a drink.

I'd never heard that a medium could call blood from a vampire. We vampires tended to keep the blood flowing in a singular direction -- down our fangs and into us. I was mostly ignoring the rather obvious implications of such a spell. We vampires didn't tend to play well with the various other supernatural creatures for a reason. Now it looked like that had been a damned smart move.

But Jasmine's magic was reaching out yet further. The gong had been rung and the vibrations continued to resonate outwards. Harry, Simon, Renee and myself were all in full-fanged vampire mode from something Jasmine had done. I could smell the carnage happening in the Park and zoo as the creatures were also responding to Jasmine's magic. From what I could sense it was along the lines of making each of us into the creature that was truly within our nature. Which was why we four vampires were sporting our fangs through no fault of our own.

Carlos and Marcus, just behind me, were in full werewolf shape and their primal howls I took to be a war cry hearing the passionate singing of unseen werewolves answering along with the distress cries from other local predators. The predators weren't used to the competition at least not the outright one being declared by the weres. My hearing also picked up the maniacal crunching and the wet sound of sinew being rapidly ripped from the corpses of the prey that had fallen to the wild life not currently caged. From the full-throated screams and shrieks in the zoo I gathered that more than a few of the cages and enclosures had proven to be fallible. Predators were getting loose and were more than a bit angry. The initial fears from the werewolves had passed as freedom gave the animals extreme opportunities. Blood was being shed.

"Natasha?" Renee interrupted my musings from behind me. She still stood where Jasmine had commanded -- next to Carlos and Marcus just behind Harry.

"Yes?" I was visually glued to the sight of the blood slowing running up Jasmine's arm.

Watching the blood was strangely hypnotic and mildly fascinating to me. I could almost taste the nasty, corrupted flavor of Cynthia's blood between my fangs. She'd killed her Master and drained many undeserving souls in her madcap quest for powers she'd not earned. Her arrogance had cost her. She'd already lost at least a half dozen minion I knew about, along with her cursed cadre of witches she'd used to bespell Harry and Simon. Jasmine was balancing all of that but I wasn't sure at what cost. Her spell casting had definitely a kick to it.

"When will all of this end?" Renee was sounding unnerved. I didn't blame her as all this was more than slightly outside my personal comfort zone, to say the least.

Jasmine slowed her chanting long enough to say, "Soon."

We both shut up. I wasn't willing to open up my mind to talk with the vampires given all the magic flowing through the Park. There was no telling what it'd do to me. Besides I didn't want to find out just how strong Jasmine was. Knowing that she was the mistress of an older vampire, Morgan, didn't make me all lovely dovey towards her. I probably wasn't grateful enough for her coming to help Harry and Simon, but then I was good at being a bitch. Bitches tended to outlive the meek and sweet sorts.

Harry began to softly chant in Latin -- he wasn't saying what Jasmine was but instead naming ancient vampire lines. Clans that were long gone from the face of the Earth. I heard names of the good, the bad and the damned uttered with vampiric power. My Master, Simon, began a counter balance of names -- only instead of speaking in Latin he was saying the names of living vampire lines in English. I could feel the haunting vibrations of sheer determination warring with utter annihilation -- the dead wanted to be reborn into this time and the living lines wanted all of the untapped powers from dead ones. I swore their words were like dragons fighting above us. Sky warriors in white and black -- a chiaroscuro of shades and drama playing out in the night -- spinning with talons and scales flitting and scrapping. A silent yet deadly war.

It didn't stop my focusing on Jasmine. She hadn't slowed her chanting and I could feel the surge of energy running from her out -- even a further distance than I could hear and sense. Somewhere in the Park I could swear I heard a bell tolling the hours. I didn't keep count since I knew it was hours until dawn. Simon was continuing the list of council recognized vampire clans while Harry had begun to go deeper back in our dead. Chills were running up and down my spine and it wasn't because of the evening breeze.

The gray night fog had begun to weave its cold, damp tendrils thickly through the tall eucalyptus trees. The non-native eucalyptus trees were all around Southern California due to a misguided thought that the wood was useful when the railroads were being constructed over a century ago. The fragrant trees were sticky, splintering messes and not in the least useful for railroad ties or any building related construction. Yet they held close the fog with an eerie familiarity along with tons of spiders and assorted insects. The wet fog beaded along the webs spun in the branches of the trees making a haunting canopy. The smoke from the local brush fires was carried on the winds along with soot and ashes adding another layer to the scents permeating the Park.

Balboa Park after dark wasn't safe on a normal evening. There was a large criminal element who used the ill-lit location to deal drugs, trade guns for cash and people for less. Rapists and common thugs added to the scenery along with the homeless and illegal workers who used the grounds as their makeshift campground. This night was no different for them, well, at least a few hours ago. I had sensed many humans wandering peripherally in the brush while we'd begun our little meet and greet. They hadn't come close enough to see us but nevertheless they were out there. From the animal sounds heading in our direction as well as the werewolves being summoned that would be taking a radical change in direction. The humans were just another part of the food chain and all the creatures coming were very hungry. A smile flitted across my lips and then my own fangs reminded me that I wasn't completely in control either.

Carlos and Marcus had stopped their howling; not that it mattered because I could hear plenty of the city's werewolves still outside and sounding the cry that continued drifting outwards from the Park to the Anza Borrego Desert and beyond. There was no way that humans could mistake the sounds for anything that they'd ever heard before unless it had been in a horror movie. But there'd be some explanation on the news and in the papers examining the sounds and calling them dismissively either an elaborate hoax or Hollywood induced prank. I'd seen it before when humans didn't want to acknowledge that there were really bad things that go bump in the night before they lopped off your head or limbs. Time and time again people saw glimpses of the supernatural creatures and found new and unique ways to casually discount whatever they'd seen, felt, tasted or genuinely experienced. I was fairly confident that the werewolves would be just as easily erased or reasoned away from their collective memories before the next nightfall. At least on a conscious level, because there were no promises about the humans' nightmares. Those would be a tasty treat for succubus, incubus and fear mongers of all shapes and sizes.

The blood from Cynthia was nearly gone. She weakly opened her eyes and sighed out, "Stop!"

To my amazement Jasmine did just that. She removed her fingers from the now gaping hole and let her hand fall to her side; the blood remaining on her arm simply ran off Jasmine's fingertips into the soil below her feet. I swore I heard the Earth sigh. Shaking my head, I looked down at Cynthia. She wasn't looking so hot. In fact I wagered she was cooling rapidly like any good corpse. Sadly, I didn't see any purpose in sending her ass back to Arizona. I doubted that there was anyone vampire or human who even gave a damn that she was gone. Still hungry, I kept my thoughts and fangs to myself. Jasmine stood and turned to face us fully without a glance back at the gasping Cynthia. She was drifting in and out of consciousness by sheer will alone since I doubted she had enough blood in her to keep a tick happy.

"Now it's done," Jasmine pronounced while clapping her hands together. Harry and Simon stopped listing vampire family names and fell bonelessly to the ground like their strings had been cut. Quickly I pounced on Simon trying to see if he was okay. I couldn't risk opening up my mind to him; the flooding of emotions and raw vampire lust that he'd been streaming to me for the past twenty minutes or so had abruptly fallen off when they both went down.

Touching his face was odd. To me he was always larger than life, vibrant, full of authority and power, not now. His skin was rougher than I remembered, a faint beard bristled his jaw line, his fangs were still peeking out from his lips and I brushed my finger across them automatically. A slight edge from a fang tore open my skin and my blood flowed into his mouth. His lips suckled my wet finger drawing both my finger and my blood inside.

It was an automatic reaction, like a sleeping baby nursing, with no real pull of blood but simply a mouthing of my bloody finger. I didn't feel him pulling anything from me. It struck me as peculiar. I knew how bloodlust worked and Simon wasn't conscious, so he should have tasted my blood and automatically taken it from me as his fledgling; it was his blood right and very much a part of my world.

Looking with wide eyes at Jasmine I asked, "What have you done?"

Arching an eyebrow she regally replied, "What was needed -- no more no less."

Seriously doubting her claims, I slowly pulled my finger from Simon's unresisting lips. A curious feeling of detachment at seeing him on the ground washed over me. I wasn't feeling my normal Fledgling to Master bond. It was like the string that had tied us -- hell, bound as it were -- had been cut. Utterly. I saw Simon was waking as was Harry, that and they both looked disconcerted at finding themselves on the ground. I got up and waited for a flooding of vampiric awareness to happen now that my Master was upright and awake.

Standing slowly Harry turned to Jasmine and politely said, "Thank you so much for coming so quickly."

"Of course, Harry, you know how much I owe you." She seemed embarrassed by his attention.

Harry looked back at us and sighed, "Jasmine?"

His voice was deeper and a slight frown chased across his face as he began to piece things together.

She blushed and I swear toed the dirt like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar, "Yes?"

Her eyes dropped and she wasn't meeting his gaze. The pit of my stomach dropped as I watched Jasmine's behavior. His tone was non-confrontational but firm as he pushed, "Jasmine, did you have trouble with your spell?"

Excuse me? I wanted to scream there was something that was being asked that I was missing. Harry thought Jasmine had 'trouble' and in medium-witch shenanigans what would that mean? Were my fangs permanent now? I found I still couldn't retract them. Simon was growing agitated I could tell from his demeanor but not sense. I noticed it with a distracted and uncaring air. It was meaningless to me ... which wasn't normal.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-10-11
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