Blogophila 47.10 – JamieVs2 Part 2
It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
And so Jamie vs 2 rolls on, much better than version 1. I might actually end it here, or I may fast forward to when he is released. Not sure which. I was hoping to get it finished to release it between Zuri and Griselda because they both take place in The Guild, so this would break it up.
I guess we’ll see.
on with the story:
Jamie looked up through teary eyes to see Rechert returned. His vision throbbed, and the scent of dinner rolled through the room; roast suckling, apples, pork pie, and a thousand other delights. His body moved on its own, knocking the servant to the wall, pinning him, despite his struggles, and then biting, sharp, quick. The feel of flesh between his teeth, the rush of blood, the relief as the thirst was quenched, as the fire dissipated.
But it does nothing for the pain.
Suddenly the fount was ripped away. Jamie landed on the bed, his head swirling. He blinked to see his sister, one hand over her nose and mouth, the other pushing Rechert out the door. Jamie struggled up to his feet, but Caitrin knocked him back again.
“Hold, brother. Yer meal will come to ya.”
Meal. As his heartbeat slowed, and his breathing evened, Jamie began to realize what had happened; what he’d done. He touched his lips and brought back fingers red with blood. Rechert’s blood. As if the discovery wasn’t gruesome enough, a second touch found something wrong with his own teeth. His canines were longer, sharper, like an animal’s.
“In the name of God, what-”
Caitrin took his shoulders. “Peace, Jamie. All things will be explained in time. Eagan will tell-”
Jamie jerked free, looking from his bloody hand to her. “Who is Eagan? I know not the name.”
She hesitated, then stepped back and clasped her hands. “He is our master.”
“Master? What do ya mean? Like a laird? Or do ya mean a master to a slave? What does father say to such things?”
Her fingers convulsed; tightening, loosening, tightening. “’Tis not quiet either of those. Ya should rest now. Yer’ve had some mighty revelations thrown at ya, an’ have only just recovered form a frightful state. Take the night ta mourn Margaret and tomorrow-”
Jamie swept to his feet, his voice heavy with the threat of storm. “No, lass. I won’t rest and mourn until ya have explained this ta me!” He waved the bloody hand. “I bit the man, Caitrin, I bit him and I drank his blood, like a demon!” At the word, a horrible idea began to form. “Is that it? Am I demon now? Is this hell? Is that how I was able to heal so quickly? Tell me!”
With each word he’d stepped forward, and Caitrin had retreated, until she was pressed against the wall. “Aye, aye, I’ll try ta explain it to ya, but know ye full well that ya’d be better to wait fer Eagan.”
Satisfied, Jamie gave her some room and waited as she tugged her gown straight. “Ta answer who Eagan is, be better to explain what ya are now – what I am now , and Androu, too. We are… we are like the baobhan sith but-”
“The baobhan sith? How can that be? They are women all, and fairy kind!”
“Yes, I said like, but not like. As they do, we drink blood, but we do not need to scratch and claw to get at it, instead we have our teeth to bite, as the pine marten do. And we are not only women, but men as well. Like them, though, we must avoid the sunlight, and we will remain young forever.”
Jamie’s head swam at such notions. “How could this come to pass? How could we be cursed into such creatures? And what of father? Has he been made one as well?”
“Nay, not father. As to how, ‘twas Eagan who did the deed. He came to us as one of them, already a creature of fae and darkness, and said that he could make us as he is. How can one refuse such offer, brother, in times such as these. Androu and I accepted. Then ya returned, sick with fever and little chance to survive the night. I marked how Eagan did it, he emptied us of our blood first, then gave us his, and so I did the same to ya. Now you are a creature of fae and darkness too.”
“And this Eagan? Where did he come from?”
“He came as a traveler in the night, seeking shelter. I don’a think he meant to make us as himself then, only meant ta stay and sleep in safety, but then his mind changed. Now he is our master, because he is the one who changed us, and he is yours as well, because I still belong ta him, so all I change belong ta him as well.”
Jamie cradled his head in his hand. It seemed fantastic, unreal even. That he believed in the fae and magic and the secret things that lived in the earth and the shadows was not in question, for he did. But to believe in them and believe in them was something different. This tale was something wild, some strange fancy. Or would be if not for the proof he saw before his own eyes. That his teeth had changed, that he had drank Rechert’s blood like wine, those were not to be disputed. That he was magically healed…
Healed. Had Eagan but been there before Margaret took ill. Had he shared such with her, saved her…If only.
“I will speak with this Eagan, and I would see father and hear what he thinks of these things.”
“Aye, but on the ‘morrow. “Tis nearly dawn, and sunlight will harm ya now.”
She went on, explaining that some windows had been bricked over, to protect them. His had not, only been covered in furs and the like, so he should sleep somewhere safer, where the sun could not touch him. Tomorrow they’d get block up the windows.
Block up the windows. Block out the air and the light all of the things that were healthy and bright in the world.
Though her words made sense he refused to go with her, refused to bed down on the floor of her chambers. When she realized she couldn’t shift him, she surrendered, leaving him with advice to stay as far from the windows as he could, lest some light leak in and burn him.
Alone, he dropped back on the bed and closed his eyes, hands on his head as if to force sanity back into it. Perhaps ‘twas all a dream, a horrible nightmare, and when he woke he’d find Margaret bending over him, a smile on her lips and her soft eyes shining with joy to see him home.
Yes, that must be it.
When Jamie woke to the twilight gloom of his room, the firat thing he was cognizant of was the emptiness; despite his hope, Margaret was not there, smiling or otherwise. He sat up, rubbing at his burning throat, and cast about he room. The previous night’s rubble lay everywhere; broken furniture, smashed possessions, even the shattered pitcher. It was ass as it had been in his nightmare.
He touched his teeth to find the same sharp points. What if it’s not a nightmare? What if this is truth?
It was too horrible to think about.
Still, he climbed from the bed and got dressed, glancing often at the heavily covered windows. No light leaked around them, no hint of sun or shine. When he was clothed, he approached them slowly, as though they were an enemy waiting to attack, and carefully lifted the corner of the coverings. He tensed, waiting for light to burn him as his sister had warned, but nothing happened. He lifted it further to find the cause: there was no sun. The world outside was cloaked in the soft mantle of late evening. Stars were already blinking against the dark velvet, and the horizon was deep purple. He had slept the entirety of the day.
He dropped the make-shift drapes and left his room in search of his father. In the corridor, the warm smell of dinner floating to him, and he followed it. His father had waited this long, what would a few minutes matter?
But it was not feast he found, rather his father’s Steward. The man looked upon him with alarm and jumped back, hands raised.
“And so they have done it to you as well, young laird.”
The smell of the man was overwhelming – no not the man, his blood – but Jamie struggled to pull back. “Done what?”
“Made you one of them. Don’a seem so surprised, as the steward of this place there is no secret hidden from me.”
“Then tell me where I may find…” though he meant to say many different things, the only word that his tongue would form was, “sustenance.”
“The kitchen, young laird. There are arrangements there for this peculiar diet.”
“Aye.” Jamie nodded his thanks and practically ran, before he did to the steward as he had to Rechert the night before.
Though the hearth fire was lit in the kitchen, it gave little comfort. Gone was the bustle and activity Jamie had always observed there, replaced with shadowy corners and a heavy emptiness. There was no sign of food, save three carafes of something crimson on the table, next to a trio of goblets.
Jamie recognized the smell immediately, and found himself not bothering with the goblet, but drinking straight from the pitcher in long, satisfying gulps. He stopped, only when it was empty, and stared at the drained carafe with disappointment.
“Uncle Jamie!” A pair of child voices cried from the doorway. Jamie spun, wiping at his mouth as quickly as he could, lest the bairns see the blood upon his lips.
Clouds of dark hair, pink cheeks, and bright eyes, the boys tumbled into the room. They flung themselves on him, chattering in excitement, one over the other, so he could scarce make out their tales. He could smell their blood, smell the life in them, and knew instinctively that they had not been changed as he and his sister.
“Enough!” Caitrin cried as she hurried inside. “Enough! Do not pester yer uncle so!” She dragged them back, squirming. “Go wash yer faces, and find yer father.”
They groaned, but she sent them scooting with gentle swats to their backsides. She watched them go, the pride of motherhood shining in her eyes. “Nay, yer right. They were left as they are, so that they can grow to manhood.”
Jamie shot her a questioning look and she explained, “I told yer last night, we do not age. Had they been made as us, they’d have stayed as babes for eternity. Such a thing is wrong.”
He didn’t want to think about the implications, the tender in and outs or tragedies of such an act, so he merely nodded and looked away.
Footsteps came, and then a bearded man walked into the room. Jamie felt at once the difference between him and the children. This stranger was as he was now, changed, inhuman.
Caitrin straightened and quickly introduced him to Eagan, the one who had forever changed them. At the sight of his facial hair, Jamie touched his own chin to find it clean shaven.
“’I shaved ya,” his sister said, as if she’d read his thoughts. “Eagan said ‘twas part of the ritual when Androu and I…When we were changed.”
“Aye, that they say it is, lass,” Eagan said good naturedly. “Though ‘twas not so in my day, as ya can see, lad. Now let me have a look at ya.” The man stood before Jamie, surveying him. “Aye, ya look ta be a strapping specimen. No doubt brave and fierce and all the like.”
Jamie narrowed his eyes. That this man was to be his master, in any capacity…”Aye. Fierce I be.”
“Good, good. A bit o’fierce is always good in this business.”
‘Why, the business of bein’ immortal, lad. Don’a want a soft pawed dandy, now do we? No doubt ya have questions fer me? Mark, I may not be able ta answer them all, but I will do what I can, so long as ye don’a mind it over me meal.” He gave a wink as he poured a goblet from one of the carafes.
Jamie’s questions came fast and furious, True to his word, Eagan answered as he could – or as he claimed he could. That he had been traveling he affirmed, and had simply asked for lodgings. The turmoil intrigued him, and so he stayed on, not telling the castle’s occupants his secret nature. Not until he decided to offer them the same, then and only then had he explained it. As to how he’d become such, another of his kind had given the same to him, and on and on back into the mists of memory.
While they spoke, Caitrin drained two goblets herself, nodding here and there, but never interjecting. When they’d finished, she said quietly, “Though I did not ask Master Eagen’s leave ta make ya, I hope he is not too disappointed.”
The older man sighed. “Nay lass, I cannae blame ya fer what ya done. I woulda done the same in your place. ‘Tis hard to watch the suffering of a loved one. I know already that ye are a strong lass. Yer bravery in the dark deeds of late have shown that.” He squeezed her shoulder affectionately. “Now where be that husband o’yours?”
“With the bairns, or that was my order to them.”
Eagan chuckled. “Good, good. But we must finish soon, so the mortals might come back and make the babe’s dinner, eh?” Jamie’s confusion must have been on his face, for he added, “To prevent…unfortunate accidents, all are ordered to avoid the kitchen an’ sleepin’ quarters ‘til we’ve fed. Fresh fledglings have weak control, as yer’ve no doubt noticed.”
Jamie muttered a semi-agreement under his breath, the memory of Rechert bright in his mind. Too bright, in fact. Each moment of the night before hung in crystal clarity, a stark contrast to the foggy memories of all that had come before.
“Aye, that be the difference between mortal memories and immortal,” Eagan said.
Jamie looked to him sharply, and Caitrin explained, “Master Eagan can see to yer thoughts.”
“See my thought?” Jamie demanded. “What do you-”
“Aye, she means I can hear them, when I choose, or when yer fiery passions make ‘em louder than usual. It’s a talent Caitrin and Androu are developing, as will you.” He chuckled. “Speak of the devil himself, here he is.”
Androu strolled through the door, his long hair neat and his face as cleanly shaved as Jamie’s. He nodded to his brother-in-law and poured himself a goblet.
Jamie was oddly grateful that Androu didn’t speak. He’d had too much information in too short a time and needed a break from it. “I think ya for this morning conversation, but I would see father if I can, and speak ta him. Things went ill at Dunbar, and I know not what plans may be laid, only that we must be vigilant.”
Caitrin choked, a hand to her throat. “Ya cannae think ya could fight anymore, Jamie? Not like this? Ya wouldn’t survive the day without shelter. Ya must remain home now.”
Jamie scoffed. “I will see what father has to say of such things.”
Eagan set aside his empty goblet, his eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Yer father, lad? Didn’a she tell ya? He’s dead.”
Jamie’s heart throbbed, and his breath was a tight knot of fury and sorrow. First his wife, now his father? What in the hell had happened while he was away? Had they both died of sickness, weeks, or even days before an immortal fae waltzed into their castle, one who could have saved them? Such ill luck seemed laughable, if he was able to laugh without crying.
Caitrin wrung her hands. “I didn’t, not yet. It seemed too cruel a stroke, after tellin’ him of Margaret’s passin’. I thought perhaps to give him some time.”
“Time?” Jamie cried. “How did it come to pass?”
“Was the English that hung him,” Eagan said.
“The English?” Jamie slammed his fist into the table hard enough to make the goblets jump. “What have those devils to do with it?”
“They knew he was a traitor, lad, or a rebel if ya prefer that word. He died well.”
Was it the English or someone else? Someone like a strange traveler, seeking shelter in the night, touched by the fae, with a thirst for blood?
Jamie’s burning eyes bored into Eagan’s face, a face lined with years; years Jamie would take away depending on the man’s answer. “And how does it come that he alone was killed? How is it that his daughter and her husband, that his household, a household of traitors, still lives? Did the English allow such a thing? ‘Tis not in their nature!”
“Aye, ‘tis true enough. But they did not find the rest of his household ta be traitors. Androu provided his testimony, and professed his loyalty to them. In reward, he was made laird in yer father’s place. They send their agents from time ta time ta check his loyalty. O’ course-”
With a roar, Jamie upended the table, sending the contents to the floor in a shattering crash. “You snake! Betrayer! Judas!” With another cry he bound over the mess and slammed Androu into the wall, one hand around the man’s throat. “With the fae touch comes new strength, I pray only ‘tis enough ta choke the life from ya!”
Caitrin shrieked and tried to rip him away, but fully fed and fed by fury, he shook her off. Androu kicked and fought, nearly breaking free before Jamie slammed a fist into his face. Blood sprayed from a broken nose, and Androu choked.
And then Jamie was torn away and left stumbling. He straightened, ready to knock Caitrin aside but it was Eagan who stood before him, eyes hard stones. “Aye, fierce ya may be lad, but fierceness knows it’s place. ‘Tis not now.”
“If not now, then when?” Jamie roared. “He is a black heart, a traitor, a-”
Caitrin stood at her husband’s side, trying to stem the flow of blood from his nose. “He did as he must, she barked. “Father knew-”
“Father knew he had a Judas for a son-in-law and little better for a daughter!” Jamie jerked his clothes straight. “I cannae stay under the same roof as snakes. For the sake of my sister I will go and leave you alive, Androu. You can keep the lands, and the titles, all the things you wanted enough to stain yourself with my family’s blood. But know that should I ever lay eyes on you again, my sister will be left to mourn while hell opens its gates to welcome you.”
Androu didn’t flinch, only looked back with cold, steely eyes. “Aye, do as you see fit, Jamie.”
“Brother-“ Caitrin started, but Jamie didn’t wait for her to finish. He stormed away, footsteps echoing over the cold stone floors towards his chambers. His bag was nearly packed when Caitlin appeared in the doorway, hands fluttering nervously.
“Jamie, you can’t mean ta leave us.”
“I can, and do.”
She stepped closer to lay her hand on his arm. “Truly? You are the only family I have left.”
He pulled away. “Whose fault is that? Speak to your husband, not me. I wasn’t the one who betrayed him to the cursed English, who watched him hang, who-” He broke off at the hurt in her eyes but did nothing to soften it. That she could remain Androu’s wife – nay even continue to love him – after what he’d done…what did that say of her?
“You will have to have our Master’s permission.”
He scoffed. “Nay. No man owns me.”
“Not man, lad, but something more.”
Jamie turned to see Eagan standing behind them. At his motion, Caitrin hurried out the door, leaving them alone.
“You should not be so hard on yer sister, lad. The heart can forgive much when there is love in it.”
Jamie turned his back on the man to close his traveling bag. “Then she should be able to forgive me for never seeing her again.”
“Aye, she would forgive ya, fer such is love, just as ya will forgive her, when the fire of fresh pain has cooled. Then ya will see ta reason. Androu had no choice. They knew ya were a rebel, lad. Had you not tried to put Charles on the throne…but ya did, and they knew it, lad. They came to the castle, lookin’ fer you, fer your allies. Had Androu not admitted yer father’s involvement, they would have killed him as well, taken the land and given it to an English Laird they could trust. Then what would ye have returned to? You know as well as I that I speak the truth, and that yer sister and her pretty babes would have died with ‘em.”
Though Jamie didn’t wish the bairns ill, maybe that would have been better. Had Caitrin died, she wouldn’t have been there to open the door to their guest, to be touched by the fae, to pass such things on to him.
“And what of Margaret? Did she not raise her voice in this?”
“Nay, she was dead by then, taken by fever.”
That at least was a blessing, that she hadn’t lived to see…hadn’t been made to go along. As a woman, what else could she have done? And had the English truly come seeking him, then what would they have done to his wife?
Eagan sighed. “I understand yer pain, but ya cannae leave.”
Jamie wadded the bag in his fist. “You cannae stop me.”
“Aye, but I can, and I will. Yer sister told ya that to be made what we are leaves ya owin’ a debt – a blood debt they call it. Since the blood comes from me, ya owe me that debt, and until it’s paid, ya cannae go but ya have my leave, and I do not give it.”
Jamie spun to face him, hands fists at his side. “And how will ya stop me, old man?”
Eagan chuckled. “Old man, ya say. Ah, I do be older than ya, but not so old I cannae teach ya a lesson. “ Jamie’s disbelief was obvious, and Eagan’s face lit with inspiration. “I’ll make a wager with ya, lad. If ye can beat me soundly, I’ll release ya from yer debt now, unheard of among our kind, an’ you’ll be free to come an’ go as ya please. But, should I best ya, ya will acknowledge me as yer master, remain here, and pay yer debt ‘til I release ya. On your honor.”
Jamie tried to bite back a chuckle. Eagan might be fae, but was he also daft? Such a contest would have only one outcome. “Aye, on my honor. What weapon do yer choose?”
“Oh, no weapon fer me, though yer may use those ya see fit.” Eagan smiled affably and shut the door. “Seems as good a place as any fer such a fight, donn’a ya think?”
Jamie tensed, eyes shifting as he sought the advantage. “Aye, ‘tis that.”
As the last word left his lips, he grabbed the dirk from his belt and charged. Eagan dodged with the practice moves of a warrior, landing a punch to Jamie’s back, and a kick to his calf as he darted around him. Jamie stumbled from the blow, but spun around, lunging and slashing. Eagan again avoided the blade, and again his hits connected. Jamie slid on a piece of torn cloth, and righted himself in time to take an uppercut from his opponent.
Jamie stumbled back, wiping blood from his lips. He charged again, and was again rebuffed, this time knocked into the remnants of the dressing table. With fury, he pulled himself free and leapt at his opponent, only to be knocked back again, and again. Though weaponless, Eagan’s well timed blows left Jamie bleeding, while the old man remained unharmed.
“Yer can quit when ya like, lad,” he joked.
“Aye, I’ll quit, when I’ve beaten ya and won my freedom.”
“As ya say.” Eagan shifted to the left, avoiding the thrust of Jamie’s dirk. He spun around him, this time liberating a leg from the broken table. He leveraged it like bat, and as Jamie snapped around ot face him, he swung.
Jamie fell back to the floor. His ears echoed with the crunch of his nose and jaw. Pain shot through him, and his hand went automatically to his face to find his nose broken, his jaw shattered.
“Enough now,” Eagan said. “You cannae fight like-”
With a gurgling snarl, Jamie pounced. The blade caught the edge of flesh, but not enough to bite. Eagan shook his head, chuckling. “Ya are a fierce one, ya weren’t a lyin’ about that.”
As Jamie went for him again, Eagan swung his club. The blow landed in his ribs, leaving him sprawled on the floor, coughing blood, his broken ribs screaming.
Eagan broke off as Jamie forced himself to his feet. Blood dripped in his eyes and ran down his face and over his chin in rivulets. He tried to speak, but his broken jaw made the words no more than grunts. ‘Tis for my freedom, Jamie told himself. Freedom from tyranny. Aye, no different than fighting the goddamned English, no different than Dunbar. But it was. There he’d fought for the sake of Margaret, for their future bairns, for his father, even for his sister and now… now who did he fight for but himself?
“A man who fights only for himself is weaker than he who fights for something more.”
Jamie looked up sharply, just in time to see the table keg smash into his face.
“Jamie? Jamie? Come ta bed my love. ‘Tis our wedding night, and ya would leave me alone on it?”
Jamie looked up from his cup to see his pretty wife standing before him, cheeks blushing and eyes shining, waiting for a consummation they’d already practiced many times before.
His father laughed and slapped the table. “Aye lad, get ye to it. Donna leave a woman waiting!”
Jamie hadn’t realized the late hour, time lost to mead and revelry, the celebration of their union. ‘Aye, I believe I’ve had enough o’you. To bed!”
A chorus of laughter followed him, the gruff sound of drunken friends and family. Margarete chuckled herself as she led him away and towards their chambers. In the bedroom he stumbled against the bed and felt remorse.
“I’m sorry, love. ‘Tis yer wedding night and here is your husband, too sopping drunk to make use of it. I lost meself to cup and company and-”
She caught him and laid a finger to his lips. “Hush, love. Drunk ye may be, but not too drunk to be of use still. Mark.” She reached low and touched him. “See now? Come, do not apologize for your reveling. ‘Tis a night to celebrate, to drink and be merry, to sing and dance like nobody’s watching. And now, to make love to yer wife.”
Jamie reached for her, reached for her mouth with his, but he found only darkness, emptiness.
With a groan he blinked, then opened his eyes. Through a red haze he saw the ruined room, saw Eagan standing over him.
“Yer awake. Good.”
Awake. As if he would ever be awake again. He’d left behind the dreams of heaven for the nightmare of hell. Neither were real now.
Regardless, he’d made a vow, sworn on his honor. Dream, or nightmare, his honor was all he had left in it. With a grunt, he struggled to pull himself up.
Eagan chuckled. “Surely ya’ve had enough, lad? Come now, ya cannae even stand.”
Jamie ignored him and pulled up to one knee, bowing before him as he’d told himself he would never do to any except Charles, who should be their king. Slowly, he raised his head, holding his broken jaw with one hand to mutter through the mess, “Aye, enough. I swore, on my honor, and on my honor I will remain, your servant, ‘til you release me from your debt of blood.”
And then, I’ll kill Androu.
And now for guesses:
- Black cat 2. familiar 3. witchy woman 4. black magic woman 5. coffee break 6. watercooler chat 7. leaning 8. balcony. 9. “If I spit from here do you think it would knock someone out?” 10. Can cats spit? 11. I dunno why but this just makes me think of witches. 12. black cat 13. is he crossing her path or just hanging out? 14. hanging out 15. coven couture 16. evil but fashionable 17. she’s no maleficent 18. bewitched 19. Season of the Witch 20. Best friends