Blogophilia 14.10 – Honeymoon Part 5
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog post. This week’s prompts are:
Sharon stayed in the basement for the rest of the evening. Verchiel returned with his bright orange sports car, restored after his previous adventures. Though Jorick hinted the redhead should go, he insisted on bedding down there. “Easier if we’re all together, isn’t it?”
Katelina changed into her nightgown and slid into bed next to Jorick. His body was stiff, and his eyes hard. She sighed and ran a soothing hand over his naked chest. “It’s not that bad, is it?”
He caught her hand and kissed it before he said, “Yes. It is. Katelina, is this how you want to spend eternity?”
She faltered. “What do you mean? With you? Of course.”
“No, not me.” He released her hand to roll toward her. “This.” He motioned to indicate the house and its occupants. “Surprise guests. Endless conflicts that have nothing to do with us.” He scowled. “That idiot always popping up to interfere.”
“You’re not going to get rid of Verchiel, easily.”
“I’ve noticed.” His voice turned to a low growl. “I thought marrying you would be enough claim to free us of him. I can see I was wrong.”
“Oh Jorick, don’t start that again.” She slipped her arms around him. “It’s not like that. Didn’t you hear what Sharon said? He considers you his friend.”
“In that case, he’s stupider than I thought. I humor him to suit you. But one day, Katelina, when he finally crosses the line…”
“He won’t,” she promised with a kiss. “Now I’m tired, and we have that meeting tomorrow.”
Jorick muttered a response that she ignored as she snuggled close to him. “Goodnight. I love you.”
He relented and tightened his hold on her. “I love you too, little one.”
Katelina woke the next evening and dressed. Maeko and the others were waking as she headed past their room and upstairs. She could feel the last of the sun disappearing outdoors, and hesitated at the basement door until it was gone. The last thing she needed was to get burned.
By the time she headed into the house, Maeko had joined her, lugging a doll dressed in an identical outfit to her own. As they waited for the men in the living room, the diminutive vampiress studied her, and finally said, “Kate-san is a good person.”
Katelina jolted. “What do you mean?”
“Kate-san does not wish to be involved, yet she is, and she convinces Jorick-ue to join as well, because she cannot stand by and refuse to offer help.” Maeko broke into a grin. “Just as Jorick-ue can never refrain, though he desires to. It is a good match.”
Before she could push any further, Verchiel joined them, dusting his coat off. “That guest coffin in the basement needs aired out. I see why no one else used it.”
“I wondered where you were going to sleep,” Katelina said without interest.
Jorick and Maeko’s boys were there a moment later, Sharon trailing behind, looking dejected. They headed out in a group, but split up to hunt. Verchiel clamped a hand on Sharon’s arm and said with too much cheer, “We’ll go together, shall we?”
As they headed off, Jorick murmured, “She was planning to run.”
“From who? From us?” Katelina asked. “I thought she wanted our help?”
“I believe Sharon-san’s idea of help was for one of us to murder her master,” Hikaru observed.
Maeko nodded. “Verchiel-san’s idea may be the better way, though death is an option if we need it. Come. I thirst.” She motioned to her men and headed off.
“The best way would have been to leave her in the citadel,” Jorick muttered, but the look in his eyes didn’t match his words.
Katelina wasn’t sure about that, but she followed along, through the trees and down the beach, until the small house came into view. A lumpy tarp in the driveway covered the motorcycle Micah had been working on. A squashed tin can rusted in a dead flowerbed, and a lump of fur on the air conditioner turned into a cranky cat that hissed and ran when Verchiel rattled the door.
“Micah and Loren still aren’t back?” Katelina asked with a frown. They’d last seen the pair at the citadel on the night of the wedding.
“Apparently not.” Verchiel gave a satisfied nod, and Jorick crooked an inquisitive eyebrow.
Ignoring them, Katelina pressed, “Where are they?”
Jorick shrugged. “I’m not Loren’s keeper. He can do what he wants.”
Katelina shoved her hands in her pockets. “Are we meeting them inside?”
“No, no,” Verchiel said. “I was just making sure no one was here. Never trust vampires not to hide back up somewhere.”
Like we’re doing with Maeko, she thought.
They followed Verchiel around to the beach side of the house. The redhead checked the time on his phone. “They should be here soon.”
Jorick sniffed the air. “I smell them already.”
Katelina tried to imitate him, but the cacophony of smells was almost too much. She concentrated, weeding out the ocean, the house, the cat, the dead plants, the fallen leaves, and a thousand and one other scents, until she came to some she didn’t recognize. She could sense the immortality in them. As she focused, she thought she could feel gender; three males and a female, but she couldn’t explain how she knew that.
“It’s just vampiric senses,” Verchiel said. “Don’t question it too much or you’ll end up like people who become aware of their tongues.”
“What?” Jorick demanded.
“You know. You can’t feel your tongue, heck, you don’t even notice it’s there most of the time, and then suddenly you think, ‘gee, if my tongue is so sensitive, why don’t I feel it all the time?’ and then you do. Feel it, I mean, and you’re suddenly aware of the fact that it barely fits in your mouth, and that it brushes against your teeth, and the whole thing becomes terribly uncomfortable until something distracts you from it.” He looked at their blank faces. “You’ve never done that before? It’s just me?”
Jorick rolled his eyes, and Sharon huddled in on herself. “Is this really necessary?”
Verchiel sighed. “You could run, but what’s the point? Anger as soon fed is dead. Let Eli have his moment, let him posture and shout, and get his fill. Starve him out, and he’ll only get madder and madder. He’ll come after you. Maybe you can to hide for a while, but eventually he’ll find you, and the longer it takes, the angrier he’ll be. Then what?”
Her voice shook with terror, “I could worry about that when the time comes.”
Verchiel turned to her, all trace of joviality gone. “When you’re alone, with no one to help you? Think about that for a minute.”
“But if I’m alone, maybe he won’t mind. That’s what caused the trouble this time. Maybe-”
“You’re planning to be alone forever?” Jorick scoffed. “A fine sentiment, but one that rarely works. You’ll get lonely, or you’ll meet someone and what then?”
The approaching vampires came into view and Sharon whimpered. As Katelina’s bizarre senses had told her, there were three men and a woman.
“The tall one with the dark hair and cold eyes is Eli,” Verchiel whispered. “He’s only about two hundred years old, give or take a decade. The shorter one with the blue coat is Robin. As for the other two…”
“The good looking guy must be Zeke,” Katelina said, squinting at his square jaw and perfect hair. “And the woman must be Dilana.”
Jorick made a low noise, and she realized what she’d said. “He’s not as good looking as you, of course.”
“No,” Verchiel agreed. “Your hair is much better.”
Jorick’s growl turned ominous, but Katelina ignored it to concentrate on the newcomers. As Verchiel said, Eli had dark hair and eyes like ice crystals. Tall with broad shoulders, he walked with the assured gate of someone who was rarely challenged. Robin’s blue coat hung to midcalf, and blonde hair fell in his narrow, pointed face. He pushed it back to reveal a sneer as chilly as Eli’s eyes.
Of the other two, Zeke’s model perfect face was unreadable, while Dilana’s annoyance was telegraphed in her short choppy movements, and the curl of her lip. Dark hair was pulled back in a French braid, and heavy makeup made her eyelids shimmer.
“Oh, God,” Sharon moaned and cowered behind Verchiel. “Please. Please let me just run.”
Verchiel squinted towards the vampires. “She’d only catch you. She’s a wind walker, isn’t she?”
“Yes,” Sharon sobbed. “And a tracker. Like Eli.”
“Then you don’t have a chance,” Jorick muttered.
The vampires came to a stop a few feet away. Katelina could almost feel their calculations as they sized them up. Eli and Dilana had open hostility on their faces, while Robin looked more smugly amused; a child who’d brought daddy to yell at the principal. Zeke, however, stood in the back, his eyes cast down. Dalina glanced back to him, snarled, and grabbed his shirt in a quick shake that was obviously meant as some kind of reminder.
If only I could read minds I’d know!
Eli stepped forward. “There you are Sharon. You’ve been a naughty girl.”
The woman whimpered and practically crouched behind Verchiel.
Eli held out his hand. “Come now, and we’ll go home.”
Verchiel squared his shoulders, though his tone was good natured. “I understood that you had released her.”
“And as I told you last night, I didn’t,” Eli snapped. “She still owes a blood debt.”
“Are you sure?” Jorick crossed his arms and bored his eyes into Eli’s skull, no doubt picking through his memories.
Eli snarled. “Dream stealer. Search my memories if you like. You won’t find what you’re looking for.”
“I could,” Jorick assured him. “However, I already have it from him.” He nodded to Zeke. “You released her. Whether you meant it or not is your problem.”
Katelina shot Jorick a questioning look, and he added, “He was being sarcastic, and she knew it. But he uttered the words, ‘Your blood debt is paid’. The intent is irrelevant.”
Eli stepped closer. “The intent is everything. You said yourself she knew it wasn’t real.”
Katelina frowned. That wasn’t quite the story Sharon had told them last night, was it? Though, the more she thought about it, the more she realized Sharon had barely explained anything.
Jorick shook his head, his focus on Eli. “As long as the words were spoken, she’s free. Now go, and don’t return.”
Jorick turned his back, as if to walk away. With a snarl, Dilana seemed to disappear, and reappeared behind Verchiel, grasping at the space Sharon had been a nanosecond earlier. Verchiel knocked the surprised vampiress aside, and looked to Sharon, who lay sprawled where he’d pushed her. “Sorry.”
Dilana swept to her feet, dusting sand from her clothing. “Stay out of this.”
“I’m afraid I can’t,” Verchiel said.
“Why? Are you her new lover?” Dilana sneered at Zeke. “See how quickly you’re replaced?”
The vampire looked up for a second, and then down again, so quickly that Katelina couldn’t catch what it was that flashed behind his eyes.
Jorick grabbed Dilana by the arm and flung her towards her friends. She hit the sand and rolled, pulling up to her feet with a roar.
“I told you once to go,” Jorick said. “Consider this your final warning.”
Eli motioned Dilana to wait and strolled towards them. “Or what? I know for a fact that Sharon is useless, which means there are three of you and four of us. And though you might be old,” he jabbed a finger at Jorick, then at Katelina. “She isn’t.”
Eli’s tone turned false friendly. “But come, do we need to fight? Is it worth it for one you have no attachments to?”
Verchiel helped Sharon to her feet. “It’s less about attachments and more about keeping my word.”
“Then you should have gotten the full story before you gave it,” Eli said.
“Oh, I have the full story.” Verchiel tugged his sword from inside his coat. “You turned her about thirty years ago, kept her as a slave, the same as Dilana has done with Zeke. But when Sharon and Zeke fell in love, Dilana got angry.”
The vampiress hissed. “Sharon lies.”
Verchiel studied his blade. “She didn’t tell me.” He met Zeke’s eyes for a moment before the handsome vampire looked away. “You punished Zeke. Sharon went to Eli, begged him to intervene. In the ensuing conversation he sarcastically told her that they were both released from their blood debts. Sharon grabbed it and decided to run. Zeke refused, because he knew this would happen and was afraid of more punishment – worse punishment. Sharon left without him, and fled to the citadel. After a few weeks there she started to relax, even made some friends, and why not? Eli doesn’t like The Guild. Since his disagreement with them a few years ago, he’d rather cut off his own foot than travel there. But Sharon didn’t take Robin into consideration.”
The vampire in the blue coat crossed his arms and looked ready to comment, but Verchiel went on.
“When Eli couldn’t find her, he guessed she was hiding at the citadel, so he sent his friend Robin – a friend who had no connection to the previous Guild unpleasantness. Robin found her, as they thought he would, and now we’re here. Have I left anything out?”
Katelina gave Sharon a sideways glance. It certainly wasn’t the story she’d implied to them last night. Or had she? Verchiel had done a lot of the talking. Had he known the truth before now? If so, why didn’t he mention it? Was he afraid they wouldn’t help if they knew she really was a runaway?
Dilana stepped forward. “You forgot to mention what a spoiled, ungrateful bitch she is.”
“You’re just jealous,” Verchiel said. “Eli doesn’t pretend to keep his fledgling as a true lover, only a body of convenience, but you like to pretend that Zeke is more. Pity he doesn’t really feel that way.”
A cloud of sand swirled. Dilana was suddenly in front of Verchiel, clutching him by the front of his shirt, the point of his sword pressed against her throat.
“I wonder which of us is faster,” Verchiel commented. “You’d better call her off, Eli. I’d hate to have to kill her.”
“As if you could.” Despite her words, Dilana let go and jumped back.
“No one needs to die.” Eli’s reasonable tone didn’t match the calculating cold of his eyes. “Come, Sharon. You’ve caused enough trouble. Do you want blood spilled over your childish tantrum?”
She looked from his face to his outstretched hand and shuddered. Katelina felt her revulsion, and the sticky sick feeling that settled in the pit of her stomach. Verchiel had said Eli used Sharon as a “body of convenience”. Katelina suddenly understood what that meant. It was no wonder Sharon was terrified to go back.
Three figures appeared behind Eli and his allies; one shorter than the other two. Katelina recognized Maeko, Takeshi, and Hikaru.
Robin and Dilana spun toward the newcomers. Eli stiffened, his eyes throbbing with icy anger. “I see.”
“You’re outnumbered,” Verchiel said. “And I should warn you, another Executioner id on his way as well. He might believe you’ve threatened to attack Jorick and his mate, or something like that, so there’s a chance he’s bringing back up of his own. He’s likely to attack first and ask questions later. Oddly, Jamie has a soft spot for his old commander.”
Jorick made a low, derisive noise, and Eli snarled. “I could go to The Guild.”
“You could,” Verchiel agreed. “But we both know you won’t.”
Eli jabbed a furious finger towards Sharon. “She belongs to me!”
“I must argue with that assessment,” Maeko said as she and the boys closed in behind them. Katelina noticed that Maeko had her pink handgun drawn, while Hikaru held a slender piece of wood like a bo staff. “Sharon-san is the fledgling of Eli-san, but not his property, and now he is going to release her officially.”
“Like hell!” Eli shouted.
Verchiel’s phone chimed a catchy synth-pop tune, and the redhead answered it. “We’re on the beach near Loren’s den. We have the guy and his accomplices cornered…What?…Hey, we can always use an army. Bring them on down.”
Verchiel hung up and broke into a grin. “That was Jamie. I was right, he brought a few friends. Now, where were we?”
Eli roared. “This isn’t the end of this. I will have her back!”
Jorick stepped forward. “Release her officially.” Eli snarled, and Maeko and the others closed in. Dilana tensed, ready to spring at the diminutive vampiress.
“You might fight them, you might even take us,” Verchiel said gleefully. “But you won’t be able to roll over Jamie and the others. Do you really want killed – or arrested – to bring back Eli’s slave? Aren’t you happier now that she’s gone and you have Zeke all to yourself?”
Dilana growled, but straightened and stepped away. “He’s right. Sharon isn’t worth fighting The Executioners.”
“She’s mine!” Eli bellowed. “You will fight them!” He grabbed Zeke and flung him towards Hikaru. “Kill him!” he screamed.
Dilana was suddenly there, between the startled vampires. “Zeke is mine to command, Eli! Not yours!”
“You’re all mine!” Eli roared.
Robin stepped away from the conflict, eyes narrowed. “I may be your friend, Eli, but I’m not in your coven. I came along for a little fun, not to face Executioners. She’s not worth that much effort.”
“This has nothing to do with her!” Eli shouted.
“No,” Jorick cut in. “It’s a matter of principle now. He can’t stand to lose, but either you walk away now or suffer the consequences.”
Dilana tugged Zeke away from Hikaru. “We’re leaving.”
Eli’s fury mottled his face red. One minute he was there, and the next he had Dilana around the throat. He lifted her while she clawed at his hand, kicking wildly.
“You will go where I tell you to go!” He flung her away hard enough that she bounded and rolled down the sloping shore, finally coming to a splashing stop in ocean.
Eli pulled a barbed dagger from his lunged at Zeke. Sharon screamed, but Verchiel held her back as Eli struck.
Zeke dropped to his knees, the blade buried in his back. Eli ripped it free and made to attack again when Dilana tackled him. They rolled, kicking and biting. Eli tried to grab her, but wet, her slick leather clothes slipped right out of his grasp.
Maeko knelt to tend to Zeke. She checked the wound over then nodded to Jorick, as if to say the vampire would recover.
Sharon sagged and Verchiel patted her. He checked the time on his phone. “It should be over any second.”
Katelina looked back and forth between the fight and the horizon, searching for Jamie and his army. No doubt Verchiel meant they’d be there any second. A cry rested her attention back to the combatants. Eli was sprawled in the sand, arms stretched out, head lolled to one side. Dilana rose from him, wiping wet hair from her eyes with one hand, and gripping the bloody dagger with the other.
Sharon covered her mouth, eyes wide. “Is he…”
Dilana spit on the prone body, then snarled, “This is your fault, Sharon. Don’t think I’m going to forget it.” She wiped the blade on her pants, and stuck the weapon in her belt. “Come, Zeke. Robin.” She broke off when she realized both were already gone. “What-”
Maeko was also missing, but Hikaru and Takeshi remained. Hikaru readied his staff. “Your friend has gone. As Jorick-ue said before, you had best do the same.”
She tugged the dagger free, but after running her eyes over the assemblage, she stuck it back and raised her hands. “Where is your wind walker?”
Katelina realized that Verchiel was also missing, though he’d left Sharon behind.
“Verchiel-san has gone to bring our allies,” Hikaru said.
Dilana swore and stepped away, hands still raised. “And I suppose Zeke is with Robin?” No one answered and she sneered. “I can guess your game. Eli released him, but he was never Eli’s to free. You can keep him for the time being. I’ll claim him later.”
And then she was gone, leaving her master’s dead body bleeding in the sand.
Jorick shook his head, then turned to Katelina. “Come, little one. Verchiel can clean up the mess.”
“But where is he?” she asked, her eyes on the dead body.
Jorick made an impatient sound. “He took Zeke somewhere. Probably our house. It isn’t as if it’s a private residence.”
Katelina felt a flutter of passive terror and looked to see Sharon pale and trembling. “Are you all right?”
“I- Eli, he’s…he’s dead?” Katelina nodded, and Sharon’s knees gave out. Jorick caught her with a grunt of annoyance and tried to set her on her feet, but her rubbery appendages refused to hold her.
Verchiel popped up in a cloud of sand. “I’ll carry her.” He scooped the woman up, then zipped away with her.
The rest of them trooped back up the beach, leaving the dead vampire lay. After they rounded Loren’s house, Katelina asked, “So where did Robin go?”
Jorick shrugged and Hikaru said, “Robin-san is not the kind to fight, but to throw threats and run away. We will not see him again.”
“Just her,” Katelina muttered.
“I doubt that,” Jorick said. “Sharon and Zeke may have to deal with her in the future, but she’s nothing to do with us.”
Neither is Sharon, Katelina thought. But we were just involved in that.
Maeko’s words came back to her, “Just as Jorick-ue can never refrain, though he desires to.”
Right. He can never stay out of anything.
Back at the house, Zeke was seated in the living room. Maeko stood to one side, her hands clasped, grinning, and Verchiel stood near the couple, typing on his phone.
Sharon knelt in front of Zeke. Her hand trembled as she lifted it to his face and brushed his cheek with her fingertips. When he caught her hand in his, she burst into tears and threw herself into his arms, burying her face in his chest.
“Why didn’t you come with me?” she wailed.
“I’m sorry.” He pulled her closer and nuzzled his face in her hair. “If I went, I knew Dilana would hunt us down. I thought if I stayed that she might refuse to help Eli bring you back.”
Verchiel patted her on the back. “There, there. It’s all right now. I don’t think you’ll have any more trouble with Dilana. I’ve got a warrant for her.”
“For what?” Jorick asked in surprise.
“Impeding an Executioner,” the redhead said gleefully. “Some days I love this job.”
Zeke looked over the top of Sharon’s head. “Unless they put her to death, I don’t see what difference that will make. Even if she’s imprisoned for a year, she’ll be back when she’s free.”
“Unless she trades you for her freedom in the first place, and so never goes to trial. I have a good feeling she will.” Verchiel winked. “No one wants to spend time in The Guild’s prison, I promise you that.” He stepped back and rubbed his hands together. “It seems my work here is done, kiddies. Unless you want me to stay?”
“No!” Jorick snapped. “And before you leave-”
“Yeah, yeah. Body on the beach. I know.”
“What about the other Executioners?’ Sharon sniffled back tears. “You said there was an army coming.”
Verchiel shrugged. “I lied. Jamie’s in Alabama.”
Zeke caught his breath. “You’re lucky Eli didn’t call your bluff.”
“Technically, you’re the one who’s lucky. And now…” He broke off to give a flowery bow. “I believe I must be gone.” He straightened and mussed Katelina’s hair. “Enjoy your honeymoon. It’ll be good practice for ours in a few years, after you’ve gotten tired of Gloomy Boots.”
Jorick snarled and lunged, but Verchiel was already gone.
Katelina caught Jorick’s fist and forced it loose. “He was just trying to irritate you.”
“Then he shouldn’t be surprised it worked.”
Maeko giggled and bobbed her head. “I regret to say that tomorrow we must also take our leave. If Sharon-san and Zeke-san wish, they may come with us. Should Verchiel-san’s plan not work, it is doubtful Dilana-san would track them to Japan.”
“And even if she did, Makoe has an in with the government,” Katelina added.
“Something like that,” Maeko agreed with a giggle.
Sharon nodded her thanks, and unwound herself from Zeke to sit next to him on the couch. She dabbed at her wet cheeks. “There’s one thing I still don’t understand. If he lied about the other Executioners, who was he talking to on the phone?”
“Ryuu-chan, of course,” Maeko answered. “It is fortunate that we were here to help.”
Katelina bit her lip to keep from saying she bet Jorick didn’t think so.
At bedtime, they dragged one of the air mattresses out into the basement for Sharon and Zeke to share. Katelina wondered which of Maeko’s vampires would end up on the floor, then decided she didn’t want to think about it. She might really be a mature woman stuck in that child-like body, but Katelina wasn’t ready to let go of appearances quite yet.
Maybe in a few years.
She changed into her nightgown and slid into bed next to Jorick. “At least everything worked out for the best.”
“Did it?” Jorick asked. “Eli is dead.”
“He deserved it,” Katelina said bitterly. “After what he did to Sharon.”
Jorick didn’t meet her eyes. “Many masters do that, or worse. Why do you think I was so concerned when Micah turned you? I told you at the time that he could do anything he wanted to you. Didn’t you grasp the implications?”
She sighed. “No, I guess I didn’t. Not really. I feel sorry for her, and for Zeke. They’ve had to face so many roadblocks, and all because they’re owned by someone. That doesn’t seem right.”
Jorick shrugged. “It is what it is.”
“And that passive attitude is precisely why it continues. If you were to stand up-”
He fixed her with a questioning stare. “Are you going to?”
“Are you going to stand up against the Laws? Picket, perhaps? Or protest? Or will you just storm The Guild the way Oren tried?”
She blinked. “Well, I…”
He relented and pulled her to him. “If history has taught us anything, it is that it will work itself out. Newer vampires join the ranks everyday, with newer ideals. The ancients die, and with them their way of doing things. Look at how the turning has already changed? There’s no longer any ritual to it, no careful planning. In a hundred, or two hundred years the term master will come to mean considerably less than it does now. It’s already lesser than it was when I was turned. Then it was a term that could fill a fledgling with fear. Now it more often than not just means the person who turned you and brings no terror with it.”
“You act like that’s a bad thing?”
“Not bad, just different. Those who cannot embrace change should never be immortal, Katelina. The branch that won’t bend with time will snap. But enough talk. I’m tired, and tomorrow we will finally get to be alone.” His tone turned teasing. “I’d like to be rested for that.”
She poked him in the ribs, but settled in and closed her eyes. She was almost asleep when his voice came, nearly inaudible, “Would you really have preferred to go somewhere exotic and romantic for our honeymoon?”
It took her a moment to place the worry. Right. Verchiel had said that, hadn’t he? But he was wrong.
“No. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve had enough traveling to last me a life time. This is the only place I want to be.”
And now I need to get that edited up and send it to Newsletter subscribers and Street Teamers. Fun times!
Have a finished story kinda day!
topic: Doris Emmet
bonus: Jeff Ledbetter, Michael Todd
picture: Jonathan Harvey
1 – Do you have any gray poupon? 2- Ask jeeves 3 – street art 4 -what a mustache 5 – mild Manners 6 – the butler did it 7 – the better to hear you with 8 – what big ears you have 9 – hercule poirot 10- I see you 11 – excuse me 12 – Stop and smell the flowers 13 – did you call? 14- yes, sir? 15 – you rang?