Monday, January 7, 2013

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 24 - Of Monsters & Masters

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Patrick admitted to more amusement than irritation, as he watched the minotaur pace the length of the library floor.  The great beast had healed most of the great many wounds he had received in what had—much to the vampire’s intrigue—turned from a banal bullying to a battle epic enough to be spoken of in quiet, hurried whispers in the shadows throughout the Other.

But the amusement soon gave way to anger.  “One vampire,” Patrick spoke, fingers tapping rhythmically against the wooden armrest.  “One 330 year old vampire…”

“And one mage,” the minotaur snorted.  One hoof dug a deep groove in the floor.

“Oh, yes, let’s not forget the human mage, who helped a whelp of a vampire best the mighty Tamus.”  He didn’t bother to make it a question, which allowed no room for argument.  “You are older than I am, have no human taint – 100% magickal creature – and you let two measly humans kick your sorry ass all the way back to the Other!  Do you see the problem I’m having with this?”

Patrick had risen unconsciously from his chair, his hands clenching the front of the arm rests until the wood creaked beneath them.  If his heart could beat, it would’ve raced with his rage over how poorly this had ended, and he stopped cold as the minotaur met his eyes.

“It would serve you well,” Tamus replied, his power riding his words as they fell from his muzzle in a deceptively even tone, “to remember that all of this,” he swept one arm out, “this mess, began with you.  You and your inability to control the progeny in your kiss.”

“Watch your tongue,” the vampire hissed, but the minotaur had clearly had enough.

“You didn’t control her at all, Patrick.  Nay, you neglected her, left her to her own devices, and she fled the dark court the first chance she got for the sun-soaked deserts of Arizona.  You don’t want her, but you’re miserable without her.  And if you are miserable, then she deserves no happiness either?

“I appreciate madness.  You know I do, but what do you hope to gain from this downward spiral?”

The vampire settled back into his chair with a frown, and regarded the creature with unmasked disdain.  “I want her to suffer.”

The minotaur shook his head with a loud guff.  “To what end, Patrick?  To what end do we continue to wage this war?  We cannot just let this go now, you realize.  Her allies rally, and our numbers clamor for blood and revenge for what has been wrought against me.  There will be no rest until the heads of your wayward beloved and her cast of humans ride spikes before the gates of your manor house.  Or there will be mutiny set to drag you from your self-made throne.  I will not be able to protect you.”

“If it’s blood they want,” the vampire growled, “then it’s blood they shall have.”

*************************************

It wasn’t that simple, of course.  Patrick was painfully aware of that fact, as he watched the minotaur leave the library.  Tamus was a good ally and an old friend, but there was no way to explain to him the nuances of his decision making, the very human aspect of it all.

Granted, that was a very big part of it, the ‘human taint’ as he had called it earlier, and addressing said issue required him to admit to some equally human flaws that he wasn’t ready to hear outside his own skull.  Anger was better.  If he could focus on those dark feelings of betrayal over her departure, he could get through this disaster, right?

He admitted he’d been surprised when she had actually left after years of veiled threats had fallen idle on his ears.  He must’ve stood in the threshold of her chambers for a good half hour before the sheer emptiness as far as the eye could see sank in.  But there had been no time to wallow, no time for denial.  Such human things were considered weakness among the courtiers, and he had to force those thoughts away until he was alone.

Patrick loved her once, he could admit that, when she was shiny and new to his world.  She had been brilliant, a bright light in his dark court, and while he had known she was broken—what vampire wasn’t—he had had no clue just how broken her Maker had left her all those years ago in Paris.  She had hidden it so well, until his interest began to wane, his eyes found other shiny baubles, and then the cracks began to appear in her cool, detached exterior.

He’d dismissed her needs, even given her permission to fulfill them with vampires outside their kiss, and for a while, it seemed to sate her.  But even that had been a lie, a fa├žade she’d put up in an attempt to stay at his side, no matter how hard he pushed her away.  She had withered away in the last quarter of a century, a shadow of her former self, left in the dust to pine for him and him alone.

Maybe he had thought she’d pine forever.  At least long enough, perhaps, that his interest in her would wax again.  And maybe, just maybe, he had considered her too weak to ever even consider making good on her threat.  It had never occurred to him that she might lose her interest in him by the time they had had their century anniversary.

Not that any of that mattered now, of course.  She was gone.  She had made it clear she didn’t want to be with him anymore.  Hell, she’d even moved on to a new lover after another quarter of a century to a human who wasn’t even a food source.  No, he had meant something to her, though Patrick found the mundane human beneath her, enough that she had roasted him like a human pyre in the middle of the desert.

The bonfire had caught Patrick’s attention after twenty-five years of relative quiet from the young vampire, and it had brought him more than a little pleasure to feel the rumbling turmoil pulsing along their blood tie.  And it didn’t hurt that her first real outing without him had crashed and, pardon the pun, burned to the ground.  No, that didn’t hurt at all.  He had half-expected her to show up at his doorstep, all haggard and teary-eyed, begging to come home, and he’d been more than a little disappointed when she had chosen instead to stay in Arizona.

Then she had met this new one…

Madeleine had been hesitant at first, so afraid, and Patrick thought he would just be another human, another mistake.  It had taken just one kiss, that one burst of supernatural magick, and the vampire had realized, as he sought to slough her happiness from his body like mud, his original assessment had been flawed.  She was happy, despite her reservations, a joy that sparked like fireworks so bright he could’ve seen them in the night sky between them.

And that had changed everything…

Continue: 25

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