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Sime~Gen(tm) Inc.

Presents

Vampire Bound

Web Edition Forward

to

Two Previously Published Vampire Short Stories

"Vampire's Fast"
and
"True Death"

Presented As

Chapters One and Two of the novel Vampire Bound

Plus an Outline of the rest of the novel

An example of a market-ready novel proposal called a "Partial"

by

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The novel Vampire Bound is copyright 1990 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg all rights reserved.

STOP: don't read any further until you understand that this is not the complete text of the novel, and that this novel has never been completed. It exists as two chapters and an outline - that's all. It was submitted to several publishers just as the doors closed on Vampire novels - and it never sold, so it was never written.

However, what you can read here is two self-contained short stories constituting the first two chapters of the novel. These two short stories did sell and were published in Galaxy Magazine. Chapter One was serialized as "Vampire's Fast" in Galaxy One and Two in 1994 and won me a bonus check in the reader poll. Chapter Two was published only on the Web - on the Galaxy website which is currently unavailable as "True Death". I believe it was called Issue #9.

Therefore, I am reposting the two chapters here because a number of newcomers to the Sime~Gen(tm) List have asked about the missing Galaxy site, and the prior story now unavailable in the earlier issues of Galaxy. Also, I'm posting the outline for my writing workshop students to study.

If I ever do write this novel, it won't go exactly the way I have it in the outline I did some while ago. Writers grow and change - so what I would do with this material now is a little different from what I would have done then. I might even change things in the stories already published. Also markets change - so the material would be worked around to suit the current Vampire market. However, what I have posted after these two chapters is a usable outline that I could write the novel from in a jiffy - all the working parts are there. However, this is NOT A WORKING OUTLINE - it is a selling outline - quite a different thing indeed. It's designed to intrigue, interest and hook an editor - not to inform the writer. I would however be totally delighted if any of the workshop students ever presented me a story idea in this form! It would show professionalism.

Please note that if you sell a novel on an outline such as this - you really do have to write it pretty much as outlined (unless you discover a structural flaw you must fix). You can never tell why an editor got hooked - and if you leave out a particular item or let the characters walk away with the story, you might write a better book and anyhow have it rejected simply because it's not what they thought they bought. You must learn to write what you present in a selling outline. Misrepresent your material too often and nobody will buy an outline from you again. That's why I stomp on this point so hard in the workshop. It's a disciplined skill a commercial writer must master. Once mastered, you may dare to disregard it - but you must master it first.

I would very much like to have the chance to write Vampire Bound as the entire novel. This is my fantasy vampire universe - where magic works, and even ancient vampires have enemies from beyond the edges of reality. This particular vampire earns a remarkable reward eventually, and you can read about that in Andre Norton's Tales of the Witch World #2 - yes, this is the same Vampire I was allowed to introduce into the Witch World. So there are 3 stories about Mallory Avnel. Once I'd written that little fantasy for Andre - I kept worrying about what he could have done to earn such a wondrous reward as to walk in the sunlight at last. This series of stories - proto-novel - is about how he earned that reward.  

2003: 3 short stories in this series will be produced as audiobook and webcast.  

 


Ever since I wrote "Through The Moon Gate" for Andre Norton's Tales of the Witch World #2, I've wondered what Dorian St. James did to deserve falling through a gate into Andre Norton's Witch World. This tale explores his origins and nature long before that event.

Chapter One
(
Vampire's Fast)

The charred lump of flesh had been his daughter, or the closest thing to a daughter that his kind could know.

The vampire who, in San Francisco, called himself Malory Avnel, or sometimes Dorian St. James, stood over the remains, reading the area with all his senses. There were faint impressions in the lush rose carpet, mortal footprints. A melange of scents lingered in the apartment as did faint, indefinable and unnameable traces of psychic presence.

As he knelt to touch the blackened corpse, the events unrolled in his mind as if he were remembering them, though he'd been nowhere near at the time.

Rita had been sleeping the day away, as their kind must. Two large men had broken in. He could almost see them. Well groomed. Cologne. Hair spray. Freshly dry-cleaned wool suits. Real leather shoes. Guns. Garlic. Newly sawn ashe stakes. Perhaps even silver crosses.

If he ever encountered them, he'd know them by their body odor. Scrubbing and deodorant couldn't hide it. No two humans smelled alike. Most probably these two worked for Don Jose del Rio, the latest success in the drug import business.

It was Malory's habit to take the two kills a month he needed from among humans who killed other humans for profit. He considered drug dealers in that category since most modern addictions were deadly. Lately, he'd been preying on del Rio's middle-management, a singularly superstitious lot.

A few weeks ago, Malory had been surprised while feeding on a particularly satisfying kill, and had left the scene before disposing of the exsanguinated corpse.

Rita had also been feeding on del Rio's organization, and it was possible that she, too, had made an error, leading them to her. Or they might have found her through him.

The killers had left none of their paraphernalia behind. They hadn't needed to use it. Rita was so very young. Even when dragged from her sanctuary into the bright sun slanting in the window - it must have been about four p.m. from the angle - she hadn't been able to rouse herself enough to put up more than a token struggle.

Her sleeping robe was torn. There were broken bones in her left foot. And Malory hadn't been there to help.

Shaking with emotions he couldn't name, he knelt, gently placing his hands on the charred skull. It crumbled. "Rita, I swear by the gods of my fathers, the next blood I feast on will be that of your murderer - however long it takes."

His chin dropped to his chest, and he choked on the unutterable need to cry. But of course, he could not. He yanked himself away from the remains and went to the well concealed closet which was her sanctuary. He'd had workmen build it into the back wall of her kitchen, concealed to look like a shallow pantry. Then, he had erased their memories.

Now the shelf unit stood out from the wall next to the door. Inside, the bed was rumpled, a gold satin sheet spilling out onto the floor with a dirty shoe mark on it.

The whistling tea kettle had been knocked off the stove and lay on its side in a puddle.

He could almost hear her screams.

He shuddered, fighting the inward visions, the pain.

A long time later, careful to leave no trace of himself, he gathered the sheets, sealed the closet and snapped the pantry shelves in front of it, breaking the lock so the next tenant would not find it. He cleaned up the tea kettle.

Then he rolled the charred remnants in the sheets, carried the bundle to the basement and disposed of it in the incinerator. It was the new, non-polluting kind. Even as young as she'd been, there'd be no traces left of a body.

And now, he knew, he needed help - mortal help. With the negligence of millennia of practice, he took bat form.

By three a.m. he was outside a town house a few blocks from his own, high on a cliff overlooking the ocean beach - an area that was usually heavily fogged in. He still had a few hours until the sun would drive him to sanctuary.

Resolute, he turned to mist and sifted through the screen into the bedroom of David Silver.

The human was snoring. Malory watched him fondly for a few moments, then whispered, "Dave! Dave, wake up!"

The snoring arrested in mid-breath, and with a mumble and a start, David Silver sat up in bed. Then he relaxed. "Oh, it's just you. Wha'time'sit?"

Malory told him, and Silver swore. "Why do you do this to me? Don't you know I need to sleep at night?"

"Rita's been killed."

"Oh. Is she okay?"

"No! Mortals broke into her sanctuary and exposed her to the sun. She's gone."

"Oh, no!" This time it was a cry of grief. For a time, the two had been lovers. Then Rita had become involved with Malory and decided to accept immortality, leaving Silver with this house and a whopping mortgage. Malory had extended the same offer to Silver, but he'd refused emphatically.

Malory waited as Silver worked through the shock, the brief rage at Malory for making her a vampire, the reverse of blame to himself for letting her do it, and the realization that it had been her choice to make. And then there were wracking sobs that didn't pass quickly at all.

Malory sat on the bed and put an arm around Silver's shoulders. For the vampire, the human's tears were a necessary cleansing he needed to share. When it was over, he felt the release into calm acceptance that he could not have achieved on his own. He let his forehead rest on Silver's shoulder, against his neck, to enhance the contact.

Sniffing, Silver asked, "Are you hungry?"

Malory pulled away. "No. I fed well only last night. I have sworn the next blood I take will be her killer's."

Silver pushed his bedclothes aside and threw on a robe. "Come on," he said leading the way to the kitchen. "Tell me the whole story. I have to know it all."

As Silver drank black coffee, Malory recounted what he knew. "So, Dave, I'm sworn to get them - and their boss as well. But I'm going to need help. Mortal help."

Silver studied the dregs of his coffee. "I'm a tailor. I don't even have my own business. I work for a department store. I was never even in the army. I'm in terrible shape and I'm hopelessly clumsy. What can I do that you can't?"

"Stay awake in the daytime - as my foes do."

"Foes. How poetic."

"I'm sorry. I read a lot."

Silver gave him a cockeyed smile. "Foes. Okay. They killed her. They're my foes, too. What do I do?"

"Guard me in the daytime. Let me use you to enlarge my sphere of awareness so none can come upon us unwarned."

"Malory, I can't guard you all day. I have to work."

"Quit your job. I'll put you on my payroll at double your current salary. Afterwards, you'll get a bonus that will let you open your own shop. Deal?"

"I didn't know you were that rich."

"I've had a while to work at it."

"I suppose. You've never said how old you are."

"I don't exactly know." He shrugged. "Millennia. Aren't you going to ask me what you really want to ask?"

"You keep saying you can't read my mind."

"It's more empathy and knowledge of human nature than telepathy. I said I want to use you, and you haven't objected to that. Why?"

"I hate thinking about what you are."

"If you're going to help me, you must think about it. You'll be my spare hands and eyes. I'll ruthlessly compel your actions - and they won't be slow or clumsy. If it comes to a fight, I'll use your body regardless of the injury it might take. But Dave - you could die."

Silver was looking at him as if he'd never seen him before. "You could do all that?"

"It's not even difficult."

"But you've never - I mean, I've never felt you - "

Malory reached across the table and took the man's hands in his own. "I wouldn't ever without your permission. Oh, I do erase memories, for my own security. And I cast illusions about myself. And I take blood from unknowing donors who never miss it. And, Dave, you know I kill humans for my own needs. But I have my own code of honor. I give you my word I've never used you, and I won't without your permission."

Silver studied him warily. "I can't quite imagine what it would feel like, but the thought makes my skin crawl."

"I could make it so you felt nothing - or I could take the memory away and leave a hole in your time, or I could fill it with the illusion of a Hawaiian vacation."

Silver pulled away and went around the counter into the kitchen to get more coffee. He came back chewing on one nail and stared out the sliding door to the patio. "I don't want to lose the memory or remember something that didn't happen. I want to feel and remember whatever happens to me. For me, life is to be lived, every detail of it, right to the end. And it should end all in God's own good time."

"If you like, I'll show you what it's like to be used."

Back to the vampire, Silver whispered, "Okay. Do it."

Malory closed his eyes and mentally reached for Silver, infiltrated his mind and took over his body. He made him walk back to the table, turn three times in place without sloshing the coffee, sit down, sip his coffee, and set the mug down without even rippling the surface. Then he made him grin and say, "That's amazing!" Then Malory let go.

That was the mistake. At the sudden return to normal, Silver turned white, lips slightly green, and plunged into the kitchen where he stood gripping the sink and gasping as if expecting to heave up all the coffee he'd drunk.

Malory was beside him in a blink, knowing that if he suppressed the nausea, he'd turn the man against him forever. He'd had permission for one demonstration, not two. So he just held Silver close. "I'm sorry. It's my fault. Breathe deeply. Hang on and breathe. It'll pass in a moment."

And it did. Malory led him back to the table, explaining, "I let go too abruptly for you. Most people don't react so violently. It won't happen again."

"Mal, I don't think I can take that. Even before - everything came unstuck - it was awful. I wasn't me. I even heard myself speak in my own voice, and it wasn't me."

His tone was the first indication Malory had that Silver had made up his mind to accept. "I can make it so you won't feel a sense of being - invaded - out of control."

Silver shook his head. "I don't want - Malory, if I don't help you, what are you going to do?"

"I'm sworn. I will kill them - one way or another."

"That's another thing. I don't want to kill anyone. I just want to put them in jail."

"For murdering a dead woman? Whose remains don't exist?"

"Yeah." But he added, "Do you know how many times they jail the wrong person for murder, no matter how careful they are? How can we be sure we've got the right people?"

"I can identify the hitmen. I only have to find them and discover who they work for. Then I've a plan, but I won't tell you unless you're with me - or I'd have to erase your memory to be sure it couldn't be tortured out of you."

His gaze went to the graying light behind the windows. "Oh, Lord, they could be out there. They could have followed you. They could be coming after us right now."

"They didn't. They aren't." At Silver's look, he said, "Being a vampire has to be good for something. Still, you're right, they just might trace you through Rita, and me through you. In the past, I've been attacked in my sanctuary during the day. The prospect frightens me, so I'm asking you to let me use you."

"And you had to find her like that. It must have been hell on you." He scrubbed his face. "You mean, using me, you could be aware of things that are going on even in the daytime, when you're asleep?"

"Yes. I need that because these people know the weaknesses of my kind."

"God, I'm being such a coward. It's not any worse than being raped."

Malory couldn't keep his reaction to that off his face. He wanted to run out of the house and never bother Dave again. But that wasn't an option. He needed the man. So he sat stiffly waiting.

Dave reached across the table. "I didn't mean it that way. You're a friend. I could get used to being used by you, temporarily anyway." He forced a grin. "Hey, that was a neat trick with the coffee."

Malory found a smile and pasted it on. "Thought you might appreciate that."

"Okay, so tell me your plan. One way or another, we've got to do this, - for Rita - so I'm in. Whatever it takes."

"It's fairly simple. Once I locate the hitmen, I'll lure them and their boss into my home. They'll come in the daylight expecting to kill me easily. But you and I'll be ready - and they'll die instead."

"You mean, you're going to use yourself as bait?"

"Yes."

"That must be like - like facing your worst nightmare."

"Yes. That's why I need you. These days, I've no other mortal friends I could trust for this."

"I'm ashamed. I shouldn't have hesitated to agree. Mal, do what you have to do so I can stand it. Don't let my - squeamishness - get in the way."

Malory rose, and Silver got up with him, glancing at the paling of the window. "I guess you've got to go."

"I was planning to stay here today. Remember the sanctuary I had built in your attic for Rita?"

"She never used it. I'd forgotten about it."

"With your permission - ?"

"Well - sure. Are you afraid to go home?"

"It would be unwise. And - I wished to be near you. Through your awareness, I can be roused, even during the day, if needed. Tonight, I'll check my security arrangements."

Malory went to the window and examined the yard by the rising light. He had to admit it out loud. He owed the man that much. "And - Dave - I've been bereaved often in my time, but rarely so deeply. I just don't want to be alone."

"I kinda feel the same way. Everybody else I know thinks she's been dead for years."

"She has been, Dave, she has been."

#

It went easier than Malory had expected. By the time he'd settled into the attic sanctuary, he'd adjusted his touch on Silver's mind to leave Silver with the feel of his presence without the impression of being violated.

By noon, it had become comfortable for both of them. By sundown, they'd worked out signals that would let Silver ask for privacy, and let Malory ask for admission. The link was clear and pure, like holding a private mental conversation. It had been centuries since Malory had worked with such an easy link. He'd miss it desperately when this was over.

Silver spent the day on the phone arranging to take his three weeks vacation instead of giving three weeks notice. And he'd followed the detailed instructions Malory had left for ordering the construction work.

When Malory rose, Silver was packed to move to Malory's house. Things were already in progress there.

A decorator Malory'd used before had removed all the furniture from the living room and installed a large, carpeted pedestal in the center of the room, along with a grand piano in one corner, complete with silver candelabra.

The next day, workmen from a security contractor Malory relied on would rig the shutters on his living room windows - the huge bay windows overlooking the beach and Dave's house - to close when weight came onto the floor near the pedestal.

When Malory woke, he called the undertaker he'd had "bury" Rita years ago, and ordered an ostentatious coffin to be delivered - black with a red satin lining. It would fit perfectly on the pedestal.

Late that night, visiting the security contractor at his home in San Jose, Malory carefully planted instructions to have the coffin altered. When the lid was raised by outside handles, an anesthetic spray would saturate the area. He also had invisible spy cameras placed all about the living room, the monitors banked in the bedroom just above it.

The automatic devices installed in the living room could also be controlled from a console in that bedroom. The console could also flood the lower floor with CO2 foam. That would be Silver's station during the days of waiting.

It was a long, tedious job to implant the details of the instructions then erase the memory of who'd given the orders. The workmen, he'd take care of as they finished their jobs.

With that done, Malory rechecked every sanctuary he had installed around the Bay Area, every lookout he had planted at key locations near those sanctuaries, every point where any mortal might pick up a lead on his activities. But there was no hint that del Rio's people had found him.

Home about an hour before dawn, he went online to his brokerage house and opened an account for Silver, filing all the proper employee forms with the I.R.S.. Then he activated the alternate identity he'd use when this was over. As an afterthought, he created an identity for Silver, too.

The following night, with preparations at his house progressing under Silver's guidance, Malory planted several threads connecting him to Rita, then began stalking his prey. He checked all del Rio's locations, infiltrating offices as mist, rifling files for names, dates, places, interrogating employees under compulsion then erasing memories.

What he had expected to be a straight forward job turned into a tedious and unrewarding chore that dragged on and on. And as time passed, his hunger grew, his patience fled.

Three weeks after he'd found Rita charred, Malory slammed into the house and stalked into the living room. Dawn was graying the clear sky. Silver, disturbed by the sudden noise, came downstairs, tying his bathrobe. "Mal?"

Malory shouted, "Maybe it wasn't del Rio! Maybe I've been looking in the wrong place!"

Silver flinched.

Malory subsided. "I'm sorry. I've just become so used to feeding every night that this is getting on my nerves."

They both knew it was past the time when Malory would have killed and feasted fully.

"Maybe," said Silver relaxing, "del Rio did away with those men so they wouldn't talk? Or he might have paid them off so well they left the country." They'd kicked it around before to no avail. Silver added, "If he paid them off, they're probably broke by now and on their way back."

"If he paid them off, there should be a record. I've been through their every record and most of their minds!"

"Have you?" Silver leaned against the gleaming black coffin. "Did you question del Rio himself?" Malory was silent. He'd been staying away from the top echelon to keep a low profile. Silver added, "What of his number two men?"

"Women. Three of them, each running a division and reporting to del Rio. I questioned them. Nothing. They're not behind it. But del Rio . . . ."

"If the killers were working directly for him, there wouldn't be records on any lower level. He wouldn't want it known he believes in vampires, would he? He wouldn't want his people to believe they're being stalked by a vampire."

That was a new thought. "You're right, Dave. Tomorrow, I'll confront del Rio, and if I come up blank, I'll have to look at the other organizations around the Bay."

Malory's frustration subsided with that plan, and he looked around. The work had been completed and every bit of sawdust, every exposed wire, was gone. The bronze carpet was new, and so were the black drapes shielding the bay windows. All the new fabric had been fireproofed. The chemical stank.

Opening the windows, Malory said, "Get some deodorizer. The stage cobweb spray won't cover the odor of newness. When I do get them here, I don't want a false note to disrupt the illusion." He sat at the piano to play a bit of Chopin. The first chord he struck was sour. "And get the piano tuner in this afternoon. The number's on the rolodex in the kitchen. They'd never believe a vampire would have an untuned piano."

Swallowing his comment, Silver pulled his digital diary out of his robe pocket and made some entries.

Malory held out one hand. "Let me see that."

Silver folded the case open and handed it to him. It had a screen and numbers pad on one side, alphabet and function keys on the other. Silver said, "It's just the same old one I use to note measurements for my clients. You've seen me use it. It only has sixty-four K."

Malory folded it up, noted the port where it could connect to a desk-top, then looked from it to Silver's robe pocket. "Maybe I haven't seen all the records! People carry these things around with them. And they don't think about them much." Absently, he handed it back as he rose. "Wake me an hour before sunset. It's going to be a busy night."

Silver's mental call came to Malory in his sanctuary cut into the rock of the hill under his house. The chamber was roughly four feet high by fifteen feet square, ventillated by a twenty yard chimney not a half inch wide. It was his most secure location because there was no entry a mortal could use. He had to turn to mist and sift through cracks in the rock. It had been difficult lining it with his native earth, and it had its own dangers. A quake could seal him in. Or Holy Water could block the cracks so he couldn't use them.

He emerged into the windowless basement and dressed in the dark outfit Silver had laid out for him. Silver had tailored it to fit, making it of the flame retardant fabric that was all Silver would let him wear these days.

Using the mental link to learn if Silver had darkened the house, he emerged fighting grogginess, and went to his computer on the second floor. The shopping service yielded a comprehensive list of the pocket sized digital diaries currently available along with instructions for their use.

Malory was impressed. If he didn't have a perfect memory, he'd have ordered one for himself.

A little work with his maildrops, and he had del Rio's current location from his spies inside his organization, spies who would not remember dropping such notes.

Sternly putting aside his hunger, knowing it wasn't as bad as it felt, he headed for the living room intending to take bat form and exit through the chimney. He had just come through the archway, when Silver's pain lanced through him with paralyzing force - then subsided in an instant.

Malory forced his eyes open, berating himself for the lazy habit of maintaining the link with the mortal, and saw Silver bent double beside the window, holding his elbow and trying to breathe. In a flash, Malory was beside his friend.

Silver waved him off. "Nothing. I just hit my crazy bone. Be okay in a second."

But Malory saw the blood trickling through Silver's fingers. The blow had peeled off a flap of skin. He couldn't get his eyes off the ruby liquid. Then the smell took him.

Fighting it, moving in slow motion, he bent, hands coming out, tongue reaching, mouth opening. If he made contact, he'd be thrown into an unstoppable feeding frenzy.

Silver didn't understand. He'd gladly provided blood on occasion. He had no fear, and that was what ultimately saved him. As Malory sank into temptation, Silver shook Malory's shoulder. "Mal, your oath. Just wait a little longer."

Malory's eyes fixed on the mortal's and he got a fragile hold on himself, enough to stop but not to answer. Silver patted his shoulder, saying, "I'll put something on this."

Malory was left staring at his lack of reflection in the window, unable to remember what he'd looked like before. The hunger was worse than he'd thought. Tempted, he might take a kill now, breaking his vow - which could be fatal. The gods of his fathers were unforgiving. Besides, succumbing to frenzy among the drug dealers could spook them. Then he'd never get Rita's killers. Struggling with the knowledge of his weakness, Malory was startled when Silver returned.

"Mal. I thought you'd be gone by now."

The wound was tightly covered with a plastic spray bandage and now Silver wore long sleeves. "Thank you, Dave. I've never owed a mortal such a large debt."

The man came across the carpet. He stopped more than arm's length from Malory, out of politeness not fear, and offered, "We can call the debt square if you'd just answer - straight out - the questions you've always avoided."

"Questions?" Malory went to the window beside the bay window and finished opening it on the gathering fog aware of the thin smear of blood where Silver's elbow had impacted.

"I'm not a very good Jew, so if I don't think about it too much, I can see you as a bit foreign, or maybe an alien from outer space. But turning into a bat, wolf, mist - no reflection, and an aversion for holy objects and flowing water - Mal, that's magic, not alien. Black magic!"

That gave Malory pause. "Magic?" He moved closer to Silver. "No. Magic is constrained by the laws of reality, just like science. I thought you understood, Dave. I was mortal once, a native creature of this earth. Now, I'm a supernatural creature, forced to stand half within and half without the laws of reality. The laws that constrain me are complex, and I've only just begun to understand them myself."

"But how did it happen? Who forced? Who constrained? Why?" He gestured at casket. "I know you're just playing on human fears with this nonsense, but they say people become vampires by making a deal with the Devil."

"The Devil? No, not in my case." He'd never told any mortal before, but Silver had demanded payment. "A god cursed me, a legitimate god to whom I'd been promised as a sacrifice before I was born."

Silver gaped. He hardly had to say it. Malory could read his face. Pagan gods weren't real. They were made up by ignorant people. With incredible naivete, he said, "Human sacrifice is immoral. How could you be blamed for refusing?"

"I didn't refuse," Malory snapped, offended. "Dave, long before the Creator of the Universe came to Abram the son of Terah, He made me the same offer. But my father had promised me to our god at my birth - after all what else were third sons of a king good for? - and so I hesitated.

"Our god was angry that I'd think to abandon my destiny, and cursed me to consume only human blood and to perish in the light of the sun. The curse came on me that very night. The power of our god was real, and there was an army about to besiege our city. I was to be sacrificed to save us from sack and ruin. It was my duty. I told the Creator of the Universe, that I wouldn't go anywhere but to my sacrifice.

"My god wouldn't accept the sacrifice because after the ritual, I didn't stay dead. The Creator had denied my city the sacrifice needed to survive the war. But He gave me the powers I needed to survive my god's curse. He said I must witness the working out of His blessing on the one who would accept it. So far all I've seen is periodic slaughter of the descendents of Abram. I'm still devoted to the god of my fathers, so I have problems with holy things dedicated to the Creator. The Devil has absolutely nothing to do with it."

Silver's bushy black eyebrows rose to disappear under his cowlick. "You've spoken . . . with . . . God?"

It was the tone one used to a suspected nut case. "Maybe not," assured Malory. "Maybe that's how I remember it because someone tampered with my mind. It never happened again. I've been on my own for millennia, trying to fathom the laws of my existence. One thing I'm certain of - the best way for me to avoid personal disaster is to eliminate my daughter's killer." And to keep the vow to my god.

Silver digested all that silently, then nodded. "I think I understand better now." To Malory's astonishment, he actually seemed relieved. "Well, you'd better get going if you're going to confront del Rio tonight."

He watched as Malory took the turning step that twisted him through another dimension, leaving only a small bat form as his manifestation in reality. For the first time in millennia, the vampire was acutely conscious of a peaceful sort of pleasure in the shift, a sharp contrast to the effect of taking life's blood or exposure to sunlight. There was a very great difference between the two gods.

Still, the god of his fathers was not to be ignored.

This night, del Rio was working out of a new, well kept warehouse on the Embarcadero. Already the fog horns were blatting their warnings. It made fine cover for any noise.

Malory folded his bat form under the eaves over a well lit office window and extended his senses. A freighter was tied up at the wharf nearby, reeking of cocaine. Neither police dogs nor mechanical sniffers seemed able to detect the drugs the way the vampire could.

Six men in the office were closing a deal over the delivery, del Rio and two guards facing three strangers.

Malory listened for hours and learned nothing until the strangers left. Del Rio turned to a guard. "Get Dillon and Petrino back from Cancun. I've got a job for them."

"They might not come. You shouldn't pay 'em so well."

"I pay what a job's worth. That's why they'll come."

The guard left mumbling that nothing could be worth that kind of money. Malory's heart raced. Dillon and Petrino could be the ones who'd killed Rita.

With growing impatience, Malory waited for del Rio to be left alone. It was close to midnight before things settled down and del Rio put his feet up on his desk, popping the top on a beer can. He seemed to be waiting for something, but Malory decided to risk it. He'd only need a few minutes.

He launched himself into the air, twisted into a rope of fine mist, and glided through the hairline crack under the window. He took control of del Rio's mind as he formulated himself before the desk. He could never have entered del Rio's own home, but this was a public space, an office.

Shocked, del Rio jerked once, trying to drive his hand toward the signal button under his desk. Then he subsided in the grip of Malory's mind.

He was a short, stocky man with a touch of distinguished frosting at his temples. His skin was dusky, his hair black. His nose had been broken in two places, and there was a v shaped nick in the top of his right ear.

Gripping his mind lightly, Malory studied the man, waiting for him to recover from shock. He'd never laid eyes on him before, but he knew him intimately. He was quick, sharp and ruthless. In the last three years, he'd ordered more deaths in the Bay Area than any other importer.

At last, del Rio asked, "Who are you?"

"The father of the vampire you had killed."

Malory watched del Rio's mind grind through memories of terror as the mysterious deaths in his ranks spooked his finest operators. Then came the eyewitness account of a vampire leaving a warm corpse. That was himself, Malory realized. Del Rio's men had threatened to defect en masse if del Rio didn't stop the vampire.

Del Rio had set a trap, sacrificing an untrustworthy messenger. Rita had fallen into the trap. While video cameras had failed to record Rita's presence, the victim's gyrations and death were recorded. Meanwhile, a sketch artist had caught Rita's likeness perfectly.

With del Rio's connections, a portrait was all he needed to run down an individual as fast as the police could.

So Rita had paid for all her victims as well as for Malory's. If Malory had fallen into the trap, things might have gone differently. "I want the tape," said Malory.

Del Rio didn't hedge. He knew exactly what tape, and, shaking, he produced it from a desk drawer. As he bent, Malory saw the edge of a case in the man's impeccably tailored pocket. In a lightning swift move, Malory had it in his own hand. It was indeed a digital diary, a large one.

He took videotape and diary, saluted courteously, and then, just as a man ushered another into the room, Malory ostentatiously turned into a bat, twisting the tape and diary through into the other dimension because a bat could never lift the weight in reality and flew to the window, where he turned to mist and sifted out the way he'd come.

Before leaving, he paused to get a good impression of their reactions. Ghastly, white-face shock followed by sheer terror. Simultaneously, both del Rio and his guest realized that the organization's most private and sensitive records were now in the vampire's hands.

At last, the guest declared, "You'll retrieve or destroy that record and bring me proof, or no one will deal with you again." He stalked from the room, a picture of power and dignity despite the inner knowledge that he'd wet his pants.

Del Rio remained sitting at his desk with similar knowledge, and he didn't rise until the last of those he'd issued orders to had left.

Malory departed certain that del Rio would soon put Rita's killers and most probably himself into Malory's trap.

#

It was almost sunrise.

While he and Silver were spraying stage cobwebs in the kitchen, Silver asked, "What if del Rio brings an army?"

"He won't. It could prove too - embarrassing - if word got around that del Rio is crazy, possibly from using his own product. What else would anyone think who saw him pounding a stake through someone's heart? Besides, word would certainly get out that his private records had been stolen. No, he's got to retrieve that diary secretly. He'll use the only two hitmen he has who've been successful against a vampire, and they'll use that same successful technique."

"Unsuccessfully." He led the way into the living room.

Malory circled the casket. "Yes." He laid a hand on the ebony surface. "Dave, this is your last chance to back out. I'm going to feast on those men. It will be ugly, and I may not be able to prevent you from observing it all."

He shook his head decisively. "I've thought through what you told me last evening. I'm in."

"You could be killed."

"Rita was killed. I'm in. You can't deny my right."

"No. I can't." He eyed the graying fog. "Secure the house, then. I'll sleep in the casket today. But I think it will take them more than one day to find me."

"Probably. But if you'd told them any more than that you were associated with Rita, they'd have figured it was a trap. Now they'll have to work through reams of computer records and check out everyone she dealt with to find you. Shoot, they might end up at my house first!"

Malory raised the casket lid carefully not using the trick handles. "The cost of damage to your property would easily be covered by the funds I've put in your name."

"That sounds awfully final."

"I doubt my existence is threatened, but Malory Avnel must disappear after the confrontation, and this house will no doubt become useless to me." At Silver's stricken look, he assured, "It's a small loss. I've others." He closed the lid, settling down with only a thread of contact to Silver.

Three days passed, four, five, and nothing. The strict fast tightened around Malory's guts. He spent the days in restless vigilance, and the nights pacing, watching his clocks tick off the hours of his fast.

On the sixth night, he was tempted to return to del Rio and give him a clue. Surely, the man wasn't so incompetent.

But Silver talked him out of it, speculating that the hitmen might not have returned from Cancun so quickly, or that they were preparing weapons. "Be prepared for buckets of Holy Water, and dozens of consecrated crosses. They can buy priests down in South America - how about consecrated Host? What can we do to defend against anything like that?"

"Let them believe I'm more helpless than I am. Unless they bring a priest to administer these weapons, the effect will be mild. After all, consider the sins on their souls."

"I didn't know that made a difference."

"It does." But it set him to thinking, and later that night, when Silver had gone to sleep, Malory performed a ritual he hadn't thought about in millennia, consecrating the house itself to the service of his god, burying sacred symbols before the windows and doors, carving signs into the concrete. Now, the purest and most devout wielder of Jewish, Christian, or Moslem objects wouldn't be a real threat.

His efforts had an odd side-effect. For the next two nights, he didn't feel moment by moment that he was about to break his vow. In the day, he rested better, less tormented.

They came on the bright, sunny eighth morning.

Malory knew it even before Silver alerted him by knocking on his mind. "Mal, there's someone in the garden."

He fought his way to the edge of consciousness, the weight of day like lead on his chest. "It's them, the two who exposed Rita. I recognize their - well, minds." The psychic flavor, like the scent of a specific perfume worn by a specific person, was identical.

He could feel Silver swallowing hard. "Right. Then where's del Rio? You said he'd come personally."

"But taking the least risk. You mustn't do anything until del Rio is inside the house with the other two."

"I know the plan."

To Malory's consternation, he dozed off, waiting. Only Silver's frantic nudging brought him awake. "They're in the garage! Are they going to blow up the cars?"

Now that was a possibility they hadn't planned on. But Malory didn't think that was it. Too chancy.

There was another long wait and Malory faded in and out, Silver fretting ever more at how groggy the vampire was.

And then Malory sensed it, just a whiff filtered through the mortal's crude senses, but no mistaking the pungency. "Dave, it's garlic. They've flooded the heating system with garlic - the heat's on, isn't it?"

"Yes. It was cold when I got up."

"Well, turn it off!"

If Malory had been alone, this would have been ineffective. He never used heat on except to prevent mildew.

Very quickly, the scent turned to a thick miasma, a cloying solidity in the air. Silver's eyes began to water and he gagged once or twice. Malory had to shut down his link to the mortal for his own distress was growing.

Malory had seen to it that the casket wasn't air tight - so he could emerge as mist through a tiny hole in the side.

Now, he noticed the hole he'd made was on a line with the breeze from a heating vent. He shoved his elbow against the hole. In dormancy, he wasn't breathing much, but still the scent was paralyzing. He fought to regain contact with Silver and found the human frantically trying to get his attention. "They're on the roof!"

Seeking the killers, Malory realized they were doing something to his chimney. He'd never used the fireplace that occupied one wall of the living room, but he did often use the chimney in mist or bat form.

He had to look through Silver's squinting, watery eyes at one of the living room monitors to see what came down that shaft, but he recognized it before Silver. "Censer! Bigger than they'd use in a cathedral. Looks like a custom job."

Smoke billowed from the incense burner, pouring out through the holes around the cross-shaped carvings in the sides. Even from inside the casket, Malory could feel the thing vibrating with the peculiar tone of The Creator. And the smoke! The incense had been specially blessed. Silver's words echoed through his mind. They can buy priests.

Though Malory's consecrations were not wholly effective, they cut the impact of the sacred smoke by half, and it had already been vitiated by the impiety of the wielders. Still, Malory was still weakened and distracted from the garlic.

He'd never understood his antipathy to garlic, except that certain sacred herbs and woods did have massive effects on him. Right now, he wasn't interested in understanding. "Dave, go up to the third floor." There were three empty bedrooms up there. "On the wall by the thermostat, there's a switch like a lightswitch, but it's black with a plain black plate around it. It's an attic fan. Turn it on." It hadn't been cleaned or oiled since before he'd moved in. Nobody needed such a thing in a house overlooking the Pacific. "Hurry, Dave, they'll be up to something else soon."

The mortal was already on his way when Malory sensed a shift in the air-pressure. He had located the two invaders at the kitchen windows, overlooking the little enclosed garden. He deduced they'd just cut their way in through the window. They'd be climbing in over the sink now, probably using the ladder they'd taken from the garage. Obviously, they'd spent the last few days carefully casing the house.

Just then, the attic fan thundered to life. With only the chimney, the stove hood, and now the kitchen window open, the powerful fan must be drawing gustily. Malory sensed the invaders' surprise.

As Silver raced back down the stairs, his steps covered by the vibration of the fan, Malory told him, "They're in the kitchen. If they start a fire, cut that fan!"

"It's helping the garlic."

And the incense. But as the frightening effect of the smells abated, Malory found himself dozing again, too lethargic to care about the killers heading for the casket.

He was shocked out of it when a sound like a sluicing downpour engulfed him, and he abruptly felt cut off from the outside world, suffocating (though he was barely breathing.)

"Dave!"

"They're using something like fire extinguishers to spray something onto the coffin from way over by the doorway. They're really afraid of you. Look through my eyes."

It felt like the mortal was a million miles away. "I can't take your eyes. It's Holy Water." By the gallon, just as Dave had predicted.

A thin, shivering thought invaded Malory's mind. Could he trust the mortal after what he'd said about the God of Abraham? Had he made a deal with Rita's killers? Or was he just better at thinking like a modern man than Malory was?

"I'm going to flood the room in CO2 foam," said Silver.

"No!" commanded Malory. "They don't know about you. Let them get close to the casket and try to open it."

But the two men circled the room and went out the arch toward the front door, pausing every so often to nail up a silver cross. The house vibrated with queer discomfort.

In moments, the front door opened and del Rio himself, clad in what looked like a NASA isolation suit, entered carrying a doctor's bag. Standing in the living room entry, he examined the stage setting, face set in a wooden mask. But Malory could hear the man's heart skip and race.

Malory couldn't help but admire the mortal. His knuckles were white on the doctor's bag, but his step was firm as he circled the casket, checked out the piano by striking middle C, swiped at the cobweb festooning the candelabra, then yanked the black draperies away from the windows. Malory knew sunlight streamed into the room.

Everywhere del Rio stepped, everywhere he touched, the power of the Holy Water diminished a bit. His confidence built until he swaggered up to the coffin and his weight triggered the slam of the steel roll shutters.

Swallowing in a dry throat, del Rio ran his hand over the casket, admiring the quality. To Malory, it was as if he'd ripped a strip out of a cellophane wrap. The seal broken, the rest peeled away leaving Malory's senses free.

The vampire took his first free breath since the deluge and relaxed. "Dave, just sit tight."

"You're back! The curtains are open! But the shutters are closed. Let me flood the place."

Malory swathed Silver's mind in firm control, damping his panic. He watched through the monitors as del Rio set his bag on top of the casket, laid it open and extracted a thermal pot filled with clay or wax, soft enough to mold.

It was quite a large pot. Having never seen such a thing before, Malory couldn't imagine what it was. Then, through the tiny hole in the side of the casket, he caught the faintest whiff, beeswax - and suddenly he knew.

Alarm thrilled along his nerves, followed by black terror that paralyzed his thinking.

Dave, through the grip Malory had on his mind, was likewise frozen in shock. Not knowing why, he tried to reassure the vampire. "They're going to make a waxworks duplicate of your features! I've seen it done in Paris."

Yet even as Silver spoke, del Rio slapped lumps of the wax over the latch where the coffin would open and then in three places on the crack, saying, "He might not be in here. Soon as this is done, we'll search the rest of the place." From his bag, he produced a large stick with a disk on one end. He drove the disk against a blob of wax. A seal.

Malory screamed in agony, and del Rio chuckled.

Crosses, Malory could have dealt with, but this was a five pointed star, the lines woven counterclockwise. The symbol had been used by Jews and later by Christians and even Moslems, but it was in fact, much older than that.

As each seal slammed into place, Malory envisioned uncounted centuries imprisoned in this coffin. Panic took him, followed by rage. As del Rio struck the final blow, Malory remembered his exit hole, sealed only by Holy Water.

Twisting himself into mist, Malory forced his way through the hole, feeling the lingering resistance like a static field disrupting his nerves. As he formulated in the room, his knees were daytime weak. Light coming through the arches seared his eyes, and his skin crawled even under the factor twenty sunblock.

But he faced Rita's killers across the casket, and still managed to use Dave's hands to trigger the anesthetic gas. It couldn't touch del Rio in his isolation suit, but it would take out the two killers.

The instant they saw the billowing fog erupt from the base of the pedestal, they whipped gas masks off their belts and slipped them over their heads. There were crosses on the masks. One of them had a crossbow armed with a silver tipped bolt of rowan wood. The other retreated toward the kitchen, not with panic, but fading slowly back behind his covering partner, probably intent on bringing forth another weapon.

Behind the mask of the environment suit, del Rio's face was pale, but carved in wood again. Despite the airtight seals, Malory felt he could smell the man's fear. His voice, however, was steady as he said, "I came for my notepad. Give it to me, and I won't bother you again."

"You ordered my daughter killed."

"She was killing my men. Since she died, I haven't lost any more. As long as things stay that way, I won't bother you or your kind again. Just give me my notepad."

Upstairs, Silver's agitation was growing as he bent over the monitor showing the kitchen. The other killer was priming some sort of pump with a hose attached. More Holy Water? Malory ignored him. The crossbow was more dangerous.

Prepared to twist into mist if the archer fired, the vampire said, "Her death was extremely unpleasant. I won't make any effort to cushion yours."

As he spoke, he carefully withdrew control from Silver and wove his way into the archer's mind, taking control first of his speech centers, then his hands, and the rest.

Del Rio replied, "You do realize I've got you trapped? You can't escape from this house."

Malory shifted the bowman's weight and let him pivot slowly, hoping Del Rio wouldn't notice the movement.

"Listen, Avnel, or whatever you call yourself, just give me back my property, and I'll let you go."

Malory used his proxy hands to fire the crossbow right into del Rio's throat. Blood spurted. But Malory wasn't watching. With the preternatural swiftness of his kind, he leaped over the casket and launched himself at the archer. With one hand he wrenched the cross from around the man's neck. His sharp teeth ripped into the killer's throat. They hit the carpet, but Malory didn't feel it.

Blood gushed from the carotid artery into Malory's parched mouth, and ecstasy took him. He lost awareness of everything but sucking and swallowing. Warmth flowed into his belly, his limbs came alive, his skin began to feel. Surge after surge of pure power flowed into him, making him ache for more, holding and holding him to his prey.

He came out of it only when bright flame licked at his eyelids. In reflex, he rolled off his victim, and in one motion was on his feet.

A sheet of flame cut the room in half while a voice on the other side of the flame cried, "Mr. del Rio! This way!"

But del Rio was busy bleeding to death.

CO2 foam flooded down from the ceiling. Malory had felt Silver hit the control a moment before the automatics cut in. Silver would have reacted faster, the vampire realized, but for watching his professed friend in the throes of a feeding frenzy. And Malory was still hungry.

With the foam damping the flames, he advanced on the man with the flamethrower, his movements fueled by fresh blood, and the promise of more. As he closed, knocking the nozzle out of the way, the flames spurted again, engulfing the archer, sending up a stench of cooking meat. Malory wrenched the device away and tore his throat out.

The silver cross singed his skin, but he hardly felt it as fresh, rich blood glided down his throat. The sere rawness at the back of his nose was eased at last by the fumes of blood, fresh, warm, thick, living blood. And there was pure rapture in fulfilling his vow to his god, a relief that the danger of becoming foresworn was over.

The man was dead when Malory raised his head at last, hazily realizing the house was on fire. That last burst with the extinguisher had flamed the beams above the ceiling. Smoke filled the room despite the layer of foam on the floor, burying the white environment suit.

Malory bent, brushing foam aside. Del Rio was still alive. He ripped the suit fabric, surprised the tough synthetic parted so easily. No, he'd regained his strength! He shook the man to awareness to be sure he knew what was happening. Then he sucked the remaining life from him.

He hadn't needed it, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

Only then did his attention turn to Silver. He realized the mortal had gone to the third floor to turn off the attic fan after he'd triggered the CO2. Now he was trapped in a bedroom, stuffing the cracks under the door with rags and newspaper, unable to climb down from the third floor window.

"Mal!" his thought squealed when Malory made his presence felt. "Get out! Call the fire department!"

"No. The bodies have to burn completely." He pulled the crossbow bolt from del Rio's neck, took up the flame thrower and immolated the three corpses, taking care that the neck tissue charred. There would still be plenty of evidence for the police, but his nature would not be revealed.

The fire was rapidly sweeping upwards in the building, no doubt setting off smoke detectors in the adjacent houses. With the smoke too thick to see, Malory found a dark closet where, shielded from the sun, he turned to bat form. Keeping well above the flames, he flew up the smokey stairwell.

He had to get Silver out of the house. But he had no idea how to get him down the stairs. Has to be down the outside - in sunlight. I can do it. He couldn't face the prospect of losing his new friend now.

At the third floor, he found Silver's room, turned to mist and filtered through the rags stuffed under the door. Formulating, he squinted against the terrible sunlight.

Silver jumped. "Hhhuh! Oh. How did you get up here?"

"Flew."

For the first time, Silver shrank from Malory, and it hurt more than Malory wanted to think about when the mortal asked hesitantly, "You aren't still hungry, are you?"

"No, but it wouldn't matter if I were. You're safe from me, Dave. You helped me keep an oath I dared not break." He edged up to the window to get his bearings. Then he sensed it. On the outside of the windowsill, a blob of wax with a five pointed star - on top of the god-sign he'd etched there.

He leaned against the wall, one forearm over his head. He could wait out the fire in his stone sanctuary. When the ashes cooled, the seals that were no doubt on all the doors and windows, even the chimney, would no longer be effective. But he couldn't get out this window now. So he couldn't carry Silver out the window and down the wall.

Silver eyed the door. Smoke was seeping through the rags and around the top. He was still getting most of Malory's thoughts directly.

He looked at the windowsill and saw the wax seal. At once, he began to lift the window. Malory stopped him. "Draft will pull the fire into the room."

"But way before that, I'll have that seal off of there and you can get out and maybe get us both down." The window squealed up and Silver leaned out to scrape the wax off. His arm recoiled as if he'd touched a coal. "Ah! It's hot!"

Malory cut the link with Silver. "Try again."

Silver got a paint stick from a pile of trash in the corner and leaned out to scrape the wax. The stick flew from his hands, spinning down. "God! What is that thing?"

"Seal of Solomon. It's aimed at me, but you're so tightly involved with me now that it's got you, too. We can't erase it because we didn't set it."

"I'm going to die in here."

"No!" protested Malory.

"Promise me, Mal, promise you won't make me over. If this is death, I accept it. At least we got those bastards."

"You've had my word on that for years." He could hear the flames roaring and crackling in the central stairwell. Soon it would be too late for him to go down. Even his mist form couldn't penetrate open flame.

Silver began to cough on the smoke drawn into the room by the open window.

Malory slammed the window and took off his jacket to stuff it under the door, but it wouldn't fold. The digital diary was in the breast pocket. He took it out, weighing it in one hand while he kicked the jacket under the door. It weighed at least ten times what his bat form weighed. Yet he'd transported the thing across the city.

For all his millennia of sporadic scholarship, he'd never found a clue as to how he did what he did. It had been centuries since he'd discovered a new ability. But it had been centuries since he'd really needed a new skill.

He tossed the thing from hand to hand.

"That can't get us out of this. Go, Mal. Flame can kill you, permanently."

He looked at Silver, really looked. He couldn't remember ever having a friend quite like this one before. He didn't want to remember for millennia to come that he'd let him die out of sheer cowardice.

"I've got an idea, but it's dangerous. It might leave you certifiable; it might kill us both, but it might work."

"Let's hear it," Silver said, but Malory heard the reservation. He'd rather die than let Malory risk death to save him. Fire sirens wailed in the distance.

"Maybe I can carry you the way I carry my clothes - or small objects like this. I've never tried it with a person, before. I just assumed it wouldn't work. It might not."

"I don't understand. Exactly what would happen?"

"I don't know. I don't know how I do it." He paced, fretfully. The floor was getting warm. "There's another - place - where things wait while what's left of me here moves. When I get where I'm going, I just - turn everything out and reformulate myself. I might not be able to turn you into that place, or maybe I won't be able to move if I do, or maybe I won't be able to reformulate something equivalent to my own mass. Or I might even find I can't reformulate myself. I don't know how it works!"

"I don't like it." Malory knew he was about to reject the idea totally, to accept death, when a gout of flame shot up from the corner of the room closest to the living room.

Silver jumped, moving toward Malory, and the vampire stepped into and around the mortal, scooping him up in his arms and completing his turn into mist.

It seemed to take forever and ever. Very gradually, he became dimly conscious of his focal point in the mist, and the vast drag of Silver's panic somewhere else.

He hovered in the midst of the burning room, struggling with Silver's panic, groping for his mind. At last, he found the mortal consciousness and wrestled it down to darkness.

Then he could move. Laboriously, he slipped through the crack at the top of the door. The hall was aflame. He could, however, manage to ride the cool currents, for as the warmed air from the fire rose, the colder air from the top of the house literally poured down the stairs.

The trip was a nightmare, dodging, rising, falling out of control, being inexorably pushed this way and that. It was like staggering under a massive load.

Toward the end, Malory knew he had failed and was about to die a final death, his mist form evaporated by tongues of flame. On the ground floor, he barely avoided catastrophe for the fifth time, and raged inwardly. Here he was trying to save the mortal life of one of the best of Abram's descendents, and the Creator of the Universe couldn't spare a flicker of mercy for the guy. So I'm glad I didn't accept Your offer if this is how you'd have treated my descendents! And he swore in several extinct languages.

With one last spiteful effort, he filtered into his rocky sanctuary. Still mist, he rested, feeling scorched and weak enough to weep. What if I can't do it?

Listen, prayed the vampire in his mother tongue, I'm sorry for what I said. There are a whole lot more descendents of Abram now than there were total humans alive in his own time. You've made a good start on your promise. But don't you think maybe Dave here could help increase that number, with just a bit of your help now?

For a long time, the vampire rested, gathering strength for the turn that would restore Silver's body - if not maybe his mind. Then, with the last dregs of his strength, he heaved them both around that indescribable corner.

"Mal!" screamed Silver in terror at the pitch darkness.

Malory rolled over to drag one infinitely heavy arm across Silver's chest. "Relax, we're in my sanctuary. It's solid rock, remember? The fire can't get us here."

"It worked? It worked! My God!"

"Yes. Your God. Definitely the more powerful." I think. But once he knew Silver had survived physically and mentally, his thoughts unraveled under the powerful daytime lethargy. "I'll wake at sundown, then we'll leave. Sleep, Dave, you've earned it."

End Chapter One

Chapter Two
(True Death)

"Chelsea won that lawsuit!"

"What lawsuit?"

"The one to keep Saint Germain."

David Silver waved the hardcover book he was reading. "This is a new one!"

Malory Avnel had come to relish Silver's cryptic greetings in the months since the mob had destroyed his house in San Francisco. But dawn was approaching, and Malory's patience was thin. Gently, he closed the window he'd just flown through. Silver thoughtfully left the window open to save him the trouble of reformulating as mist. He flicked the air on, then strode across the apartment's neutral-toned Ethan Alan living room to the white and gold painted mantel that concealed his own door, replying absently, "I'm glad he won his lawsuit, but I thought church and state were separate."

"She. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Saint Germain is a fictional vampire based on the real historical Saint Germain. But he wasn't a saint. That's just his name."

Vampire caught Malory's attention. Silver was stretched out in his recliner. His book had a glossy indigo cover and red lettering. Better in the Dark.

Silver looked up, scrutinizing Malory. "Okay, so Saint Germain wasn't really a vampire and you could pick holes in the historical depictions because you were there, while she only researched it. That's not the point. I wanted to see what it feels like to live through so many millennia; how human behavior never changes, which makes boredom the biggest threat to the will to - what's wrong, Mal?"

"I've had a hard night. I came in thinking I could use some lackluster routine for a change. And I find you so excited about boredom that you've stayed up all night reading about it."

Silver looked at his book as if he'd never seen it before. "But it's a love sto- " Silver set the book on the lamp stand and pushed up out of the recliner. Coming toward Malory with one hand out, he said, "I just read this stuff for fun. If it bothers you - "

"I enjoy your fun; I enjoy your sharing your fun with me - even when it involves fictional vampires. I wish I had something equally pleasurable to share with you." He intercepted Silver's hand before it landed on his shoulder.

"Ah," said Silver. "You don't want to talk about what's bothering you." Silver's grip on Malory's hand conveyed acceptance of that reluctance.

"Tonight will be soon enough." Malory returned the grip and dropped the warm, human hand.

"Then there is something bothering you."

"Yes!" Malory snapped. "It's almost dawn." He triggered the hidden mechanism. As the panel swung inward, he sighed. "Sorry. I'll see you tonight."

Silver opened his mouth for another delaying comment, but the fax machine bleeped. "I'll get that. Sleep well."

Silver turned toward the bedroom they used for an office and Malory stepped into the anteroom of his chamber. "I will." He triggered the panel shut, leaving him in cool darkness. The inner door opened silently at a touch. Air conditioning kept it dry enough to prevent mold.

When they had arrived in Miami, they had moved into the manager's suite, the entire lower floor of an upscale apartment building owned and built by one of Malory's aliases. The suite had been constructed around the fire-proof retreat Malory required. Silver's rooms surrounded that protected core. For months now, Silver had managed both the building and Malory's daytime affairs with growing confidence.

Watching the little tailor blossom into a computer nerd and Mutual Fund Maven via GEnie and E-mail had restored Malory's zest for life. But the human's recent choice in reading matter was worrisome.

As the vampire disrobed and settled in his curtained bed, he regretted his promise to stay out of Silver's mind. The mortal had surely earned his privacy with his assistance against the killers of Malory's youngest "daughter," Rita. But it would have been reassuring to know what was going on in Silver's mind.

He surrendered to the rising sun, bemused by the collage of fragmented memories swirling through his thoughts. From San Francisco, they had driven across country in a van equipped for Malory's daytime requirements. A Silver recovered from the shock of his first encounter with magic and the supernatural, the mortal had begun to edit his world view. Many night drives were punctuated with whirlwind conversations about religion, magic, and the difference between magic and the supernatural creatures such as Malory.

When they'd moved into the apartment, Silver had surprised - and offended - Malory by affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost to his bedroom. Silver had never placed credence in the trappings of his religion until he'd seen the effectiveness of Malory's invocations while fighting the vampire hunters in San Francisco. Suddenly, the tailor had troubled to obtain a truly kosher mezuzah and affix it with due ceremony - including a recitation of the appropriate blessing - in stumbling but effective Hebrew.

Malory had wakened that evening with an eerie sensation - somewhere between a bad smell and insects crawling over his skin. Then he'd discovered he was unable to enter Silver's bedroom - even upon invitation. Silver was astonished at the effect on Malory, and Malory was astonished that Silver had been able to produce the effect.

"I could take it down," Silver had offered hesitantly. "I didn't mean to bar you - just - well . . .."

"No. That's all right. I'll get used to it. And if it makes you feel safer - well - no harm in it."

"It's your apartment, after all - "

"And it's your bedroom. Just - don't put up any more of them."

Silver hadn't put up any more, but it had taken months for Malory to adjust to that subliminal hum, discordant itch, or whatever it was. It wasn't inimical to his being, after all. The Potency that enabled the mezuzah was the very same Potency that had endowed him with virtual immortality so he could observe the fate of Abram's get.

The clashing vibration was caused by the objection of his own god, the god of his father's city, the god to whom he'd been sacrificed, the god who had cursed him with the need for blood and darkness. He had died but his city's god had rejected the sacrifice because - through no will of his own - Malory hadn't stayed dead.

Every so often, throughout the millennia, Malory found his simplest daily affairs tied into complex knots because he was the bone of contention between two such potencies.

The advent of David Silver and Rita may turn out to be the harbinger of truly monumental complications. But it wasn't their fault. He alone had invoked divine attention.

Around noon, Malory's awareness rippled with Silver's presence - the only presence able to enter his chamber without setting off alarms that could waken him even in daylight. The residual thread connecting their minds reassured Malory that Silver was busy, intent, but undisturbed, unalarmed, and certainly posing no threat to a lethargic vampire.

Malory sank back into his stupor, filled with renewed anxiety. The changes in the tailor's attitudes were especially alarming in view of recent developments.

I'll just have to explain to him and ask to access his mind again. If Silver denied him, they would part company. The mortal had served him well. He could not violate Silver's trust, nor allow himself to become a danger to the mortal. With that decision, peace came at last and he slept.

When Malory woke, he was already half-way onto his feet, intent on carrying out his decision as if not one instant had passed - yet now it was dusk, and his energies - the gift of the god of his fathers - waxed steadily with the night.

A single piece of yellow paper fluttered to the floor at his feet - a large Post-It note that had come unstuck from his nightshirt. He retrieved Silver's note and flicked on the dim night light he used in lieu of candles.

"The plumber fixed the toilets - they don't spew hot water anymore. I filed for damages. I bought two thousand more of VWINX because it's the best Vanguard Fund - CNBC says the bear will be a grizzly. I posted the gardener's job. And I paid the GEnie bill. Both my VCR's are taping. The one in the living room is free - your surveillance camera tape is on top. If you need me, I'll be at the Hyatt downtown, probably until midnight. I heard on GEnie that P. N. Elrod is reading at a convention there and I just couldn't resist. I know you needed to talk, so I'll be back around one."

It was a typical David-Silver-Post-It, but something about the handwriting made Malory uneasy. He worried at it as he dressed and went out to tour the apartment.

Silver was taping Highlander and Forever Knight, whatever they were. The empty red BASF boxes on top of the sets had old TV Guide clippings taped to them. Highlander was about an immortal and Forever Knight had something to do with a vampire cop. Research. Via fiction. This was becoming serious. Silver had rejected all offers of immortality for himself. What was he after? He might already be a victim.

Galvanized, Malory rushed into the office and powered up the desktop. As he waited, he noticed a disk in a wrapper with the title The Vampire's Crypt, edited by a Margaret Carter from someplace in Maryland. It offered interviews with female writers and extensive bibliographies.

Silver had left the referenced item from GEnie so it came right up on screen. Scanning the text, Malory learned two things. P. N. Elrod was another female writer - of vampire novels. A quick check of the source of the item revealed that her fans were legion - and many of them were articulate females. And she'd been interviewed in Vampire's Crypt, and reviewed in a thing called The Monthly Aspectarian. Astrology was definitely not a David Silver interest. Alarmed, Malory shut the machine down.

As he reformulated into bat-shape, he did consider that he could be misinterpreting Silver's interest. It had been almost a year since Rita had died, and maybe two since she had chosen immortality over marrying Silver. It was time for Silver to be interested in women again. Perhaps he was looking for one who wouldn't reject Malory's position in Silver's new life. No, he's not that naive.

Malory arrived at the Hyatt, riding the formidable evening gusts above the tallest spires rather than using his supernatural powers. If this was the demon's trap, he wouldn't advertise his approach. And what better bait for a vampire trap than Silver? What better bait for Silver than vampire lore? It was just the way his god would think. And his god had taken no vow to eschew influencing Silver's mind.

Add to that the peripheral glimpse of Xlrud, his god's favorite demon servant, that Malory had had last night, and Silver's danger became palpable.

So Malory landed in the darkest shadows behind an airport limo idling beside the valet parking sign, swirled into human form, and tucked in his Aeropostale polo shirt. Costumed in white Dockers and Reeboks, he lacked only the sun-scorched look of the early-retired executive so typical of Florida. Still, he'd blend in with the Hyatt guests.

He strode through the carriage entrance, ignored by the bellhops. A rush of voices filled the hollow towering space over the lobby. Scaffolds and spackled drop cloths denoted recent remodeling. The escalator was in pieces and deserted. Following the signs to the Registration desk, Malory found himself approaching a knot of grungily attired people - the source of the noise competing with the tall fountain.

They milled about the display showing daily events. He leaned against a fake Doric column where he would seem to belong to a loaded luggage cart and observed the crowd.

These people wore myriads of slogan buttons and carried totebags plastered with cryptic bumper stickers and/or airline tags. Alone any one of them would look tacky, but taken together, they seemed to be wearing the fraternal jewelry of a secret lodge.

As they churned around, emitting waves of outrage, indignation and mystification, Malory caught sight of the words St. Germain on one of the buttons. This had to be the group Dave had come to meet. One neat little female in tight faded Levis was worth the trip across town just to look at. But Silver was nowhere to be seen - though Malory's other senses indicated he was nearby and getting nearer.

As one in a business suit approached, Malory listened.

"Listen up folks. The guy at the desk said they've never heard of any convention! They've got no room listing for Elrod. People have been asking all day, so they made up this flyer." A blonde wearing a T-shirt with Einstein's equations blazoned on the front and in back it had a picture of the galaxy with a YOU ARE HERE arrow took the flyers and passed them around.

Meanwhile, the nearby elevator opened and more fraternal brothers and sisters poured out calling to the distressed group. One of the loudest voices was David Silver's.

"We've been had, guys, but it's okay. The Boca crowd decided to hold a con anyway. We've got a suite upstairs and a couple of local writers are coming. We've got a taper and a whole set of Forever Knight. Who needs crash space?"

The out-of-towners surged forward, and everyone was talking at once. A very tall, portly man carrying professional camera equipment, cut across the babble with a very, very loud voice. "When I find out who's responsible for this, I'm going to publish it in - "

"Chill out! We're making a fan legend here. This is better than SnowCon in New York back in the seventies!"

Just then the street doors opened wide and a crew of white-clad Red Cross workers jockeyed in two trollies stacked with equipment stenciled BLOOD MOBILE.

"You don't think - "

"I don't believe it - "

Someone started to laugh.

But Malory wasn't listening. A very familiar sensation was creeping over him. He scanned the vicinity for the source as the humid, rain-scented air swept through the air-conditioned lobby from the doors where the Red Cross crew wrestled with their equipment. Some posted signs.

Malory found the source of the sensation revealed by the mists of the fountain - the dim suggestion of a face, the outline of a presence. Xlrud. His oldest foe.

Malory snapped his attention back to Dave who was leading the crowd toward the Red Cross workers. Even with every sense focused, Malory couldn't detect a hint of Xlrud's taint on David Silver. He was in time. He began to move, but the demon acted faster.

In the crack between seconds of Time, the demon coalesced as a human, and blended with the group's sense of continuity so all the humans perceived him as always having been with the Red Cross crew. Malory checked his mad dash to Silver's side. What was Xlrud up to?

The demon wore a white linen suit with a silk shirt and tie, looking every inch the tropical gentleman. He approached the group and gave a theatrical bow as if they had all come specifically to see him. "I am Phineas Norton Elrod," he announced proudly. "And as advertised, I will give a free Tarot reading to each and every blood donor who volunteers tonight." He bowed again. "I am so very glad you could all come." As he rose, he glanced up and caught Malory's eyes, flashing a mocking smile.

The demon was barely five feet from Dave and had the human's full attention. But it only lasted the barest instant, and during that time, the demon's attention was on Malory. Dave's still safe.

The crowd broke, whirled, and engulfed the Blood Mobile crew, helping them with their equipment, carrying the whole mob toward the function room set aside for the Blood Drive.

As they came past Malory's position, he heard comments on how the on-line BBS's spread distorted rumors as well as real news faster than the blink of an eye. Phineas Norton Elrod was indeed a P. N. Elrod, but not The P. N. Elrod, and he was certainly giving readings, but not of a new Vampire Files novel. The laughter was rich and deep and equally as powerful as the outrage and indignation had been. These people were filled with the juice of life that Xlrud delighted in destroying. But his real prey was Dave.

Get Dave out of here and he'll leave those people alone.

Malory joined the churning mass of humanity, sensing the warm glow of vitality contrasting to the chill, silent hole around Xlrud. Moving with the current, he arrived at Dave's side just before they began to squeeze the equipment through the door. He touched Silver's elbow and murmured, "I have to talk to you."

Silver turned, started as he identified Malory, then glanced about with a frown. "Now? Can't it wait?"

"No. It can't. This is serious. Urgent."

Xlrud stood aside holding the door open for two Blood Mobile workers to dolly their equipment through, but he called to Dave, "I thought you were going to be first."

Silver looked from the demon to Malory and back, shrugged, and called to the crowd, "I'll be back in a while."

Taking Malory by the elbow, he wedged open a space and slid to the edge of the crowd. "Now, what's the problem?"

Xlrud's eyes bored cold shafts through Malory's back. "Not here. Outside."

As they moved away, the demon's silent laughter followed Malory. It was amazing what humans never noticed.

Rain washed air greeted them when the doors opened. Silver stopped under the portico, away from a group by the airport limo. "What's up?"

Malory edged closer and in a very private tone, said, "We've got big trouble. Very big." The chill of Xlrud's presence splashed through the plate glass and washed against Malory's senses. "Can we talk about it at home?"

Silver swept the now empty lobby with a glance, and replied in a similarly private tone, "Hey, I wasn't going to donate blood - in case you need it. I just tell them I have allergies - I'd probably get the free Tarot reading anyway. Then Jeanne Kalogridis was going to read outtakes from the last book in her Dracula trilogy before we watched - "

"You can give blood to the Red Cross anytime you like. Did you drive down?"

"No. I took the bus. Parking is ridiculous." He gestured at the rate sign.

The tailor couldn't get used to his new, more affluent, lifestyle. Malory reached out his arm to invite Dave into his personal fields. "Then let me take you - "

Silver dodged back. "Come on, Mal. I don't want to leave yet - not unless it's really important. Some of these people are - "

"One of those people is a supernatural creature - and an enemy of mine - of a sort." To be honest, Xlrud had done him a favor or two upon occasion - rare occasion. "Dave, I told you I'd never ask this of you again, but - I really need access to your mind. I have to be sure - "

"No!" But as he spoke, Silver took a step toward Malory, one hand out as if about to accept the mental intrusion. His voice rose an octave, and his lips snarled. Then he apologized. "It's not that I don't trust you - but - Mal, you don't really want to - I mean - you promised!"

The last two words were a muted wail of anguish.

Malory sorted out two strong emotions from the melange assaulting his senses. Fear. Despair.

Very well. That's the end of the matter. The best he could do for Silver was to lead the demon away from him.

"And I will keep that promise. The lawyers will contact you in the morning. I'll see that you've been well provided for. Don't try to trace me. Remember your promises to me, and I will honor mine to you." He turned, then paused to offer, "My advice is to leave this place now - while you can. There is nothing for you in there but disaster." He took two strides toward the deeper shadows, gathering his power.

"Mal! Don't go! Not without me. Please."

The vampire turned. "It's not by my choice."

"If it means that much to you - okay." He stepped closer. "I'll go home with you. We'll discuss it."

"Are you sure? This could become worse than it was in San Francisco. Much, much worse, especially from your point of view." They were very close now, and Malory spoke softly, letting the rain mask his voice. "There's a demon involved. His missions generally destroy whatever I've come to treasure." Tentatively, Malory held his arm out. "In this case, that could be you. And I've never yet thwarted him."

David Silver willingly stepped into his grasp. "Maybe you're not a match for him by yourself - but with you and me together - he's the one who's got a problem, not you."

Since that awful escape from his burning house, Malory had practiced transporting Silver until the human was no longer so overcome with fear that he literally rooted them to the spot. But the vampire did have to take a superficial grip on Silver's consciousness, dimming his perceptions of the transition to mist. The process had become so routine with them that neither expected what happened.

The moment Malory turned through the alter-dimension to reformulate as mist, simultaneously damping Silver's awareness and mentally impelling them toward home in one operation, something grabbed him.

A hole irised open deep inside the kaleidoscopic montage that represented Silver's normal waking consciousness. Images flew into a vortex and Malory's awareness tumbled into the whirlpool of human thought.

But it wasn't human - not entirely.

Xlrud. Everything was flavored dark and grimy like Xlrud's mind. But David Silver was there, too, sparkling with warmth and vitality.

And in the still center of the blurred whirlpool, was a tiny image, sharp like a laser-enhanced photo, an aerial view of an ethereal city, a white granite building with gold doors surrounded by nested walled court yards. Among plentiful greenery, pastel-pink buildings lay interspersed with needle-like spires. The whole gorgeous city blanketed rolling hills - sharp little hummocks carved into terraces or decapitated and crowned with buildings. Taken as a whole, the place was a work of art.

The view descended to reveal detail, traffic and people.

NO! cried Silver twisting in Malory's mental grasp.

The image shattered and the bits whirled away into fathomless blackness.

Dizzy, disoriented, operating on the sheer momentum of intent, Malory reformulated their solid bodies inside their apartment living room. The two of them tumbled into a heap of arms and legs, Malory fetching up against the sofa and Silver draped across the coffee table - heaps of magazines slithering under him, carrying him to the floor.

"No, Mal, no! Don't - "

Silver rolled to his side on the floor at Malory's feet, hands clutched to his head. "Stop! Don't! No!"

On his temples, Malory now saw angry red welts in the shape of a hand - tapered, clawed fingers delicately placed just so. The welts enlarged as if the demon hands were enveloping the human's skull even as he watched.

I was too late! He was already in his mind! And Xlrud had almost had Malory, too. But why? To what end?

Malory scrambled to his knees and pulled Silver into his lap. "Dave! Open your eyes! Look at me, Dave. Dave!"

The human eyes opened, but glittering with demon consciousness. "It's all right, Mal. Come into my mind!"

"Xlrud! Don't you - "

"Oh, Mal, help me! He's got me!"

That was Silver.

Malory reached for Silver's demon-scorched face, and the human twisted away. "No! He'll get you too!"

The demon laughed with Silver's vocal chords and turned back to Malory, smiling. Silver's hand shot up to encircle Malory's neck and pull him down.

Losing all physical awareness, Malory tumbled deep into Silver's mind. With that same dizzy, disoriented helplessness he'd had on arrival at the apartment, Malory fell into Xlrud's trap.

Had he never entered that mortal mind, never controlled that body, he would not have fallen. He had opened the gateway himself. Xlrud only yanked him through it.

But as he spun out of control, he finally understood Silver's initial resistance to Malory's request. He'd been protecting Malory from the demon lodged within him, without even understanding what was happening. Xlrud must have lured Silver to the hotel to plant that trap - but how? A demon had to be invited into a mind. Silver just wouldn't do that.

However it had happened, one thing was clear. He had to evict the demon without destroying Silver.

Abruptly, Malory landed hard in the demon's illusion.

He was seated in a movie theater with a giant wrap around screen hidden by gorgeous red velvet drapes with gold fringe several feet high. The sumptuous folds swept aside even as the images already danced upon them. Images leaped into bright, daylight - blinding, searing white daylight - real daylight!

Ahhggg! Malory tried to jackknife forward to hide behind the seat in front of him - but his torso was caught in restraining straps. He felt his skin sizzling, the pain very, very real.

Look upon the fate of Jerusalem and know what you see!

Malory's eyes popped wide open, pricked as if held open by demon claws. His head jerked around. Hot demon thoughts forced his eyeballs into focus on the bright lit city.

Then Silver's face filled the screen. Large nose, soft brown eyes, bushy black eyebrows, neatly trimmed black hair.

The familiar face grew larger than the screen, and came hurtling toward them like the image of a train coming along a track. Just when the train would have begun to pass overhead, Silver's living body impacted on Malory's chest.

NO! Silver's voice filled the theater. Malory's chair toppled over backwards, suddenly detached from its neighbors.

Then he was lying supine in the living room before the toppled sofa, hurting, moaning, squirming away from pain.

On the floor by the upended coffee table, Silver writhed in silent agony, the seared imprints of demon fingers now separated by tiny strips of normal skin.

Malory pulled himself up. His skin felt as if he'd been exposed to the noon sun - as if he'd actually made that climb down from his attic window in daylight carrying Silver out of his burning house. I'd forgotten what sun can do.

He forced his body to rise, glad the sigils placed by the vampire hunters had kept him from attempting the feat. The pain was incredible. When he was on his knees, he surveyed the scrabbling human form on the carpet before him.

Sluggishly, he recognized the random movements as crawling. Though Silver's body made no progress, clearly, he was trying to crawl to his bedroom. Malory's gaze fell on the bedroom door - the door he was unable to pass. Then his eye rose to the mezuzah.

He was in motion before he fully understood what he planned to do. And that, he realized, was what ultimately saved their lives. Even as his hand closed on the door jamb, Xlrud yanked him back to the theater, unaware his body moved.

Look upon the end of Time! commanded the demon.

It can't be real, protested Malory.

Oh, it is. Your little friend is a veritable gold mine of talent - prophecy being the least of them. It took nothing at all to open this window through time. Look, my old foe, look and be free.

Abruptly, Malory understood. If Silver was a genuine precog, with the demon's enhancement this could be real - and if it was real, then once Malory had glimpsed the end result of The One's pact with Abram, he would be free of The One's decree that he must live to see it. He would be able to die.

For the first time in all these millennia the possibility was real - the True Death he had often prayed for, begged for, could now be his through the auspices of David Silver, an insignificant son of Abram.

But Silver had become a tool of Xlrud. The God of Abram insisted on an exclusive contract. Silver would be left trapped between the two Potencies as Malory had been. Or worse. His soul would disperse. The True Death no mortal could ever face - naturally.

Outrage burgeoned into strength such as even a vampire could not normally tap. Dimly, without bodily awareness, Malory heard his own scream turn to a grunt of effort, followed by a splintering crack.

The sun's image beat down. He smelled his own flesh burning and knew Death stalked him with real hope this time.

Surrender was beautifully seductive. Xlrud had given him his heart's desire - a way out. "Why!" demanded Malory. "Xlrud! Why now?"

"He's ready to accept your sacrifice, stubborn one."

And it was suddenly clear. The god of his fathers, ignored by mortals, had lost strength over the millennia. Now he needed the vitality the sacrifice would bring him.

But David Silver was not a willing sacrifice, and the City was long since destroyed. Malory thrust himself and the massive burden forward, unable to see the splintered shaft of wood he carried. Nor could he discern Silver's form. But he felt the human warmth pulsing gently, and it drew him through the veil of his own throbbing pain.

The closer he came to the human, the less the scorching sun burned through the night, the less the massive burden weighed on him. He seemed to be going downhill. He heard his own rasping grunts turn to cries of immanent triumph.

Awareness growing, Malory tripped and sprawled over the warm lump of flesh that housed the human soul and spirit. In a hoarse whisper, all that was left of his voice after his raging screams, Malory pronounced the banishment, "Get thou gone, Oh, Southwind Spirit, and hound us no more!"

He couldn't bring himself to pronounce it in the name of That Which Is. If he had, perhaps that would have been the end of matters - forever. But he did ram the post with its fully enabled magical ward flat against Silver's chest. The feebly scrabbling hands clutched it with greedy hunger.

At the moment of contact, Silver shouted, "Schema Israel! Hear, Oh, Israel - "

The rest was lost in a searing white flash that burned hotter than the demon's glimpse of a future noon sun.

That was all Malory remembered.

He came to with Silver dragging him toward the hidden door which stood open in the mantle. The lethargy of dawn gripped him, though he was aware of the pervasive pain of solar exposure coupled to the throb of a deeper damage that only holy objects could inflict.

The human's face was reddened as if with sunburn, and he hissed and whimpered with pain as he pulled Malory's body along. "Mal! Come on, help me. You can do it. Just a little, and you'll be safe. Come on, man!"

With a mighty effort, Malory twitched a foot just enough for the heel to dig into the carpet and shove.

"That's it!" Grunted the human. "Come on now, once more. Over the threshold!"

Malory pushed with his other heel, and suddenly they were within his chamber entry. The smooth flooring let his body slide faster, and then Silver dropped him on the inner chamber's floor and fell over his body, stretching to trigger the door closing mechanism with one outflung hand, shutting out the pressure of light.

The next thing Malory knew he was waking into gathering twilight, the darkness of his chamber cut only by his dimmest lights. Malory lay on his bed, Silver slumped in his easy chair beside him. On the stand beside the chair, Silver had a cut-down kit - a doctor's field kit for inserting an I.V.

The moment Malory's breath wheezed into his lungs to protest the obvious intention, Silver jerked awake. He had already rolled up one sleeve. He placed the tourniquet with the ease of long practice. A moment later, he had the open end of a large syringe pushed against Malory's lips while with the other hand he set a timer.

When Malory jerked his head aside, Silver followed the motion, letting the blood flow. "You haven't healed visibly all night. You'll never make it out of here without help. Come on, Mal, you did this to yourself for me. Let me repay you. It's not like it's the first time."

And the blood was so sweet.

Soooo sweeettt.

It had never - ever - been like this. The balm flowed through him leaving warmth and curious relaxation in its wake.

He couldn't stop.

Not even when Silver placed a hand on his forehead and announced, "That's enough. Wake up, Mal," he couldn't stop. The human hand pushed gently, then more firmly. "Now. That's it. Stop now."

The hard tube slid from his lips, and reflexively Malory followed, lips parting in the vampire's snarl as he went for human flesh.

"No." It was a command - a simple, calm statement without a trace of fear in it.

With the luxurious blood flow broken, awareness swept through him, rapture abating. He stopped, muscles locked against muscles, body half-curved in mid-air and shaking with the effort of holding back that primal strike.

Silver had rejected Malory's offer of immortality. Malory had promised to respect that. And he would.

He threw himself away and to the far side of the bed, curling around the aching, miserable loss, commanding the need to abate. And to his intense surprise, it did.

It helped that Silver staunched the blood flow and wiped up every drop, neutralizing the scent with alcohol.

By the time Silver circled the bed to see if the thwarted vampire was still animate, Malory had almost recovered. "You shouldn't have done it. I told you not to."

"You look better already," commented the human. "But you've got to hunt tonight, even though it's early for you."

"I know." But I can't. After that - experience - nothing less will ever be acceptable.

Silver answered the unspoken thought, "It's not every night you defeat a demon from hell and nearly kill yourself using a mezuzah for a weapon - a weapon guaranteed to backfire in your face. You must be hurting in places you never knew you had. Things will normalize after you've - done what - you must. Pull yourself together now - the night's wasting."

He kept on like that, quiet, supportive, encouraging, and not letting any of the distaste - no, the revulsion - he felt show in his words. Malory knew that Silver still cringed from the knowledge that a human being would die tonight to feed a vampire. But he pushed Malory through the mechanics of showering and changing, forced him to practice a few reformulations until he regained a semblance of equilibrium, and then ushered him to the window, promising that everything would be all right - soon.

It wouldn't, and Malory knew that Silver knew that. Nothing would be the same between them again.

Opening the window, Malory paused, reluctant to leave the human unprotected. "Dave, I have to know something. It's important, or I wouldn't ask. How did Xlrud get into your mind?"

"Xlrud?"

"The demon - the creature that almost killed us both. It can't get into a human mind without invitation."

"I don't know, Mal. I'd never - the Ouija board! Naw - that couldn't - "

"What Ouija board? When did you get a Ouija board?"

"I didn't. At the hotel. Someone had one. We were playing. It seemed to work - I mean really work. Could the demon have been working it?"

"That wouldn't be enough."

"We used an invocation - a dungeonmaster thought it would be fun."

Dungeonmaster? "Invocation? What invocation?"

"Awaken north wind and come thou south. It's Biblical poetry - how could that - "

"Xlrud's appellation is South Wind. He tricked you through your friends - but he didn't care about you or them. He was after me."

"He used me to get at you. I didn't know the memory of sunlight could hurt you."

"Not ordinarily. I'll explain it to you sometime." With the mystery cleared up, he felt better. "Just don't call the winds by their directional names, and you'll be safe while I'm gone." He reformulated and went to do what he had to do. And he did - with clinical dispatch. At least he had already researched his next victim. He hadn't the patience for it now, nor the confidence in his judgement that would leave his conscience as clean as it could ever be.

When it was over and the body of the drug runner's hit man, a superbly talented individual who would never have been caught by the law, had been thoroughly disposed of, Malory found a glimmering of optimism returning. His body had accepted the sordid, bitter life even though his mind and memory found it inadequate by comparison.

His healing accelerated. By the time he returned to the apartment, his skin had stopped smarting and he could fly without wobbling.

But as he closed the window behind him and stood facing Silver who was kicked back in his recliner, Malory braced for the most devastating experience of his long existence. Silver's rejection. He knew it had to come. It just had to. San Francisco had been nothing; a little ceremonial magick against vampire-hunting criminals. But this had been a direct encounter with an entity which could not exist within Silver's technologically derived world view. And he'd started it all by answering a computer BBS posting, and playing a silly game with a mundane toy.

Silver's face was bruised, and he had plastered bandaids on his arms and hands. He wore an elastic support around his left ankle. The splinters had been vacuumed up, the furniture straightened. A bedspread covered the sofa indicating the upholstery had torn in the struggle.

Malory didn't remember much of that.

But the most remarkable difference in the apartment was the psychic silence. The mezuzah had evaporated. Perversely, Malory missed the noise. The place didn't feel like home without it. Only the furniture polish and after-shave marked it as Silver's residence - that and the packed suitcase sitting beside the front door.

Silver flicked his remote at the TV and the VCR display shifted to pause. He had been watching a tape, though he'd been staring at a series of commercials.

"Better?" asked Silver.

"Yes."

Silver got up to face Malory, and the vampire tensed. "I've been thinking, Mal."

"Good." Damn.

"Yeah. It took awhile for my mind to unglue. Maybe you can sort of take that kind of thing in stride, but I - shit! I just don't think I can live in this apartment anymore."

"I fully understand. I'll see to it that all of our financial agreements are termin- "

Silver paled. "Am I fired for what I did to you? I know you said not to give you blood, but - "

"I thought you just said you're leaving."

"Not your job - this apartment. Florida, too, if I can convince you to go."

"The Potencies can find us - anywhere."

"So, then, why not go? Believe me, Mal, I know myself. I'll never sleep another wink in this place - and I - I just want to get away. Someplace with no - weird - associations."

"Anywhere you want - anywhere but the north pole. Half the year, the sun never sets."

"I was thinking more - say, New York? New Jersey? Connecticut?"

"Sure. No problem. Any particular reason?"

"Well, I saw this commercial - how to become a stock broker. I'd like to try that. If I could get registered and everything - it could save you a bundle in brokerage fees."

"Bit of a departure for you."

"Yeah. But I think I can do it."

It would provide the human with a good independent living if - no when - they had to part company. It will happen. It will. Just maybe not too soon. "I think you can, too. I'll make you a gift of the course."

"You don't have to do that."

"I know." Malory moved to look at the television screen. "But I don't know why you're not leaving."

"Why would I do that?"

"Because you don't like the company I keep among supernatural entities?"

"Didn't seem to me that one was your good-buddy."

"No. That one wasn't."

Unspoken words hung in the air between them. You mean you're friends with some? But the mortal wasn't ready to frame that question aloud. "Come on, Mal, sit down and watch Forever Knight with me."

"I've been meaning to ask you about that." The vampire settled on the torn sofa. The ripped upholstery reeked of demon, but the smell faded from his consciousness when the actor on the screen snarled and his eyes turned green. Green?

The End


And for the Writing Workshop and Listfolk I'm adding the outline material - ending with some questions at the end.

Please remember, this is all copyrighted material and all rights are reserved. You may download one copy for your personal use. You may not use any of this material and call it your own. You may not copy it for other people without my permission.

Apparently, in running the html program to convert this old MSWord for DoS 5 file to WinWord7, the "hidden" text got unhidden. I've decided to leave some of it for you to mull over - the things that don't track correctly for a submission outline will be hidden notes from myself to me that editors aren't supposed to see. I've noticed in scanning this that much of the nonsense is where I'm thinking through the problem of writing this as a novel - and I'm asking myself questions. This could potentially be very valuable to a student willing to study it closely. On the other hand - very few minds work quite the way mine does and you might find studying my thinking process hazardous to your sanity. Good luck.

The very first part of this is a very old search for an opening for this story, and since we've discussed that in the workshop, I'll leave it for the students too. People who aren't students of writing are cordially invited to SKIP THAT NONSENSE and read the rest of the story in summation.

I'm also creating you a handy index out of the bookmarks that seem to have come along with the old formatted text. This will give you an idea of how I work. Bookmarking my text as I work lets me whip back and forth to conform parts of the ms as I write it. I can only hope this will work on the website. If it does, it will be of use only for students studying this for story-structure and how you achieve it using the handy features of a word processor. Note carefully what I've chosen to bookmark. Each item is there because it marks a section-break in the flow of the narrative - a mechanical part of the story - or is simply noted because I wrote something I knew I'd forget (like the description of someone's face). These bookmarks can be used to study scene structure and pacing. And you may notice that I tend to spell names in a variety of ways - such is life around a Lichtenberg.


Index:


THIS IS an old OPENING. Should be formatted "hidden."

"They've got him!"

The voice in the headphone only confirmed what Arnaud Lemieux's gut instinct had already told him. David Silver was a prisoner of the enemy. And David was only a mortal.

Arnaud hunkered down deeper into the shrubbery and wormed through at ground level to peer out at the long strip of motel room sliding doors facing the nearly empty parking lot on his side. Moonlight dimmed and brightened as a cloud scudded by, but that didn't affect Arnaud's vampire senses.

He subvocalized into the pickup at his throat, "There are eight of them on this side - at least. But no mortals among them. At least not live ones."

"The wantons have a good racket going here. Silver might have gone over to them, be one of them by now."

Arnaud's head came up, rattling the branches over him. "Not a chance!" The human and he had been through too much together to mistake that. Silver had been engaged to marry a woman who had instead chosen immortality with Arnaud. When she had been exposed to sunlight by superstitious drug runners, Silver had risked his mortal life to get them for it. And he'd refused immortality a dozen times since. "Silver's a prisoner, if he's still alive."

"You can't tell?"

"He may be unconscious. Or under control." He wouldn't put anything past the wantons, the vampires who would take any human, do anything they pleased to them, and kill far more of them than they had to. Arnaud's kind took only two kills a month, and chose those kills carefully from those who killed other humans for pay.


Selling Outline text starts here:

From San Francisco, Malory and Silver make their way to Miami. They have only a few months of peace there. Malory is very careful in his culling of the drug-runner's organizations, but disaster overtakes them from another direction. Because of Malory's use of the sigils and Name of the god of his fathers in San Francisco, that god is now aroused.

The god sends a Demon, an old operative of his, after Malory, ready after all these millennia to accept his sacrifice. If Malory should go to the True Death, the god would be vitalized and able to act in the world again.

Because Malory used Silver's mind and body in San Francisco, the tailor is now vulnerable to possession, and it is a simple matter for the Demon to seduce Silver and implant a trap in the human's mind.

Malory's immortality depends on Time - he will live until he sees what is to become of the children of Abram. Silver, unknown to him, has the innate psychic gift of precognition. Demon-actuated, this might turn into Prophecy, or a reasonable facsimile.

The Trap laid in David Silver's mind is a vision of the far future.

Seeing the familiar Demon lurking about Miami, Malory requests and recieves permission to enter Silver's mind again. The trap is sprung, and a psychic battle ensues between the three - vampire, Demon, and human.

Malory twists free and saves Silver's life and sanity by using a kosher mezuzah Silver has affixed to the doorpost of his bedroom. The cost to Malory of touching that Holy Object is enormous, but the Demon is vanquished, and Silver has just enough life left in him to protect Malory from the daylight so he can heal.

From Miami, Malory/Dorian/Arnaud and David flee to New Jersey where Dorian buys a motel (dry cleaner's and alterations? - vampires aren't susceptible to carcinogens) which David manages, setting aside his dream of a tailor shop because any drug cartel searchers would be looking for tailors. Malory uses the identity, Arnaud Lemieux, and creates Dave the identity of David Silberman complete with an old social security number and history to go with it.

They do well for three years or so, except that after the first year, Dorian (Arnaud) begins to catch glimpses of one of the men he used to see in San Francisco. This happens during the two times in the month when he needs to kill, and he has still pursued his habit of choosing to kill those who kill other humans for pay. He's stayed away from drug dealers during these months, but there's still prostitution and gambling operations that use hit men - and there's always international politics, even with the KGB out of the picture.

He's worried, though. The burning down of his house was not quiet and descreet. He'd thought he had erased all signs of his survival and all overt signs of his nature, but he'd lived too long to be too arrogant about such things.

Silberman see's him worried. He probes. Eventually, he pries the story of the familiar face out of Arnaud.

And one more suspicion: Arnaud has sensed magic afoot. Need some other foreshadowing to indicate that the threat might be of a ceremonial magical nature. Perhaps the magician is practicing, and fails a couple of times, making Arnaud ill - dizzy? Forcing a dematerialization? The following incidents should be written to be published as short story/ies?

While trying to track the scent of magic, Arnaud stumbles into a neopagan group that is doing a remarkably creditable job of reviving the religion he (Arnaud) grew up practicing (check that out), and he is stricken with intense nostalgia and his God is very, very near. Shortstory title "Nostalgia with a whole new Meaning." These are not the ones he's looking for, and he never introduces himself to them, but makes sure the people chasing him magically won't connect him with the neopagan group. But the sense of the nearness of his God does not diminish after he attends the ritual.

Dorian/Arnaud has passed through millenia as the stranger at the gates - sometimes able to pass as a native. He has seen and been the target of intense provincial xenophobia from societies that wall their cities and their minds. What a relief it was to come to a land where everyone but the Indians is a stranger. And modern ID practices, while dangerous and onerous, actually help because all you need is a plastic card and you are accepted. The racial prejudice that is tearing at the fabric of America is only the residual, last gasp of xenophobia. Or is it the turbulance as a new "us" is forged that will fear/hate the "them."

Then Davie Silver's hairbrush goes missing. Dorian had long since put a "return-to-me" spell on all their belongings and should thus be able to trace the brush and bring it back - but he can't. Eventually, the spell itself will bring it back, but the absense of the trace bothers him. (Or maybe he can trace it?)

Then Halloween evening, before Arnaud has fed, - though he's chosen the drug runner he intends to kill - Arnaud/Dorian finds himself involuntarily converting to mist and reassembling inside a pentagram complete with candles and mystic symbols.

The magician who has summoned him is the familiar face from San Francisco - connected to the drug cartel.

Gleefully triumphant, the magician lets slip enough for Dorian/Arnaud to deduce that the magician discovered that a vampire was attacking drug cartel overlords when he sensed the magic Dorian used to try to defend himself and his house.

The Magician Binds Dorian (using Dorian's original True Name from Mohenjo Daro where Dorian was born and first died - we will see how he acquires that secret).

Dorian doesn't believe this is happening to him, and rages about inside the pentagram. He's not a supernatural entity, not a djinn or a demon, who can be Bound this way. Yet the binding is stronger than the drug dealers almost succeeded in putting on his coffin in San Francisco.

He can't exit the pentagram, not by force, nor guile, nor magical skill. Not even prayer works.

Dorian believes he's been forsaken at last by To Be because he invoked his prior deity to deal with the drug overlord in San Francisco, and because his heart responded so to the neopagans. From Miami, he knows now that the god of his fathers wants to accept his sacrifice - only now, Dorian isn't so sure he's willing. And willingness is what makes a life-blood sacrifice potent. Without it, it's only murder.

When he hears what the Magician intends to do with him, he knows he's been forsaken. He's to be sicced on the Magician's opposition, so the Magician can take over the Eastern operations of another huge drug cartel - the one that hired the magician to go after Dorian. Dorian will be set to kill individuals who are pointed out to him, and he must perform as bodyguard to the Magician during exchanges of drugs and money.

Near dawn, the Magician dismisses him, but fails to charge him with guarding his own existence. He does, however, allow that Dorian may kill as he needs to feed, but never anyone connected to the Magician's operations unless specifically ordered. The Magician keeps a file of tokens from those he wishes to protect or eventually target and shows him this file, laying the injunction on him.

Dorian sees one of the names and recognizes it as a drug runner he's been watching and had intended to kill this very night. Another token in the file is the hairbrush that Dave Silberman lost recently.

The strain is showing on the Magician. He's sweating, drooping, sometimes stumbling over words and nearly losing the integrity of the pentagram. The fear-stench in the room overpowers the noxious incenses.

As soon as he is free of the pentagram, Dorian goes after the drug runner he'd decided would be his kill. He discovers to his dismay (but not surprise) that he can't kill that individual. This shouldn't be happening. But it is.

Rage, anguish, despair, fury, and defeat swirl around inside him. Seeing dawn approaching, he wings home, but settles out on the distant edge of the motel property watching dawn approach. He considers. He's been abandoned by To Be. Perhaps the little glimpse of The Future he'd taken through David's mind has satisfied the curse of the God of Abram.

It's over. But Dorian/Malory is not going to let his power be used - not by anyone for any reason. He won't be a tool, certainly not of Evil. And he can easily see how, backed by a vampire's power, the Magician could grab and hold control of the drug traffic of the eastern U.S. - maybe more than that.

Without the wars and competition between drug organizations, traffic would double in ten years. Before long, the Magician would force him to kill narcs who came after the new cartel. With the token from David, the Magician could threaten to order him to kill his best friend, his only human friend, the one person who really trusted him.

He decides to do what he's often contemplated, and greet the dawn as he had in his far away youth. He disrobes, folds his clothing neatly, leaves his wallet and a note for Dave about the financial arrangements made against such a contingency, and settles to wait. He figures he's so old, there will hardly be a trace of carbon left when it's all over.

He's pretty well scorched by the time David finds him. Dave has brought a tent groundcloth, one of those silvered on one side, and wraps Dorian up and carries him to the dark cellar hollowed out beneath the motel manager's room.

That night, when Dorian comes to, he's ravenous, he'd needed to kill the previous night. When Dave offers to feed him, he can't refuse. But he does manage to restrain himself. Dave has refused the offer of conversion and Dorian/Arnaud must respect that. The freely given sustenance staves off the urgency for the full feeding as stolen blood wouldn't.

Then Dave confronts him, and worms the whole story out of him. (he's found out by reading the note Arnaud left, that he's been designated Arnaud's sole heir. - multi-millions - and sole heir to several other personas as well - many more millions.)

Dave, essentially a mild-mannered tailor, is shaken by the mere idea of going up against another drug cartel. Having been through one narrow escape, and the attack by the Demon, he's still traumatized. He doesn't have the heroic attitude.

Dorian/Arnaud is trying to protect Dave from this side of his life. He knows what a fragile psychological condition Dave is still in from the house burning. He tries to get Dave to leave him. No go. There's time. The Magician was so exhausted from the Binding operation, he'll no doubt take a few nights to recover.

Eventually, Dave declares personal warfare on this Magician, refusing to believe that To Be has abandoned either Dorian or himself. This is the fruition of the change we saw coming over him in Miami when he first placed the mezuzah. Throughout the text to this point, we see a gradual acceptance of the reality of the Divine interest in human affairs.

Dave's crusade against their enemies energizes Arnaud away from his self-destructive mode and into problem solving mode. No way can he allow Dave to go into such a confrontation. The man's no Rambo.

Dorian/Arnaud thinks about it as a problem and explains that merely breaking free of the Magician's power won't solve anything. It will only show that the way to trap and control a vampire is to get even more power. Black Magicians increased their "power" by torture and murder, by destruction of property, bodies and souls.

To challenge a Black Magician to go get more power in order to win would be the same as committing those murders themselves. No. They had to make it plain that amounts of power were not an issue at all.

Considering the spy networks laced through the drug business, there's no telling how many other people know about the Magician's plan, though they might not know the Magician had succeeded in binding a vampire.

Defeating the Magician could not consist of merely shaking off the magical Bonds, nor could it be merely a matter of killing the Magician. No, defeat meant convincing the Magician to abandon black magic as counter productive, as impotent and useless in the face of white or even gray magic.

This means that Dave, a complete rank beginner at any sort of magic - really a skeptic of the first order whose grip on reality was shaken by the experience in Dorian's house in San Francisco and virtually destroyed by Xlrud in Florida - has to confront and defeat the Black Magician.

They must convince this Magician that the direct result of every destructive act was self-destruction. They must show the magician how Binding Dorian actually binds the magician's will.

Okay, well how does it Bind the Magician?

And how to show the man without letting him take over the Eastern drug business?

Well, in a long novel, you'd let him take over and then convince him, and have him disband the operation to heal himself.

I don't think this needs to be that long. It needs a nice, clear gutsy SHOW DON'T TELL, climactic confrontation scene.

I don't have one right now.

How do you show a spirit-binder that the bonds actually tighten about himself every time he uses his bound-spirit?

Most people can't see the connection between the dire deed and the rebound, and so believe they've gotten away with something, even though they're miserable.

This book (booklet? It should be 65,000 words) should now move to a climax composed of one or two incidents.

They make their plans, teaching Dave some of the basics of White Magic. They figure they have maybe two nights before the Magician is recovered enough to attempt a Summoning - or possibly as much as two weeks - to the new moon. Dave has to be ready to protect Dorian/Arnaud.

Dave says they should go into Manhattan and try to find some practicing magicians of their own to consult with. Surely for a fee -

Dorian laughs uproariously. Dave has forgotten all about the story of Dorian's making. Nobody alive in the world today knows as much about Magic - the real thing - as Dorian does. Dorian explains in a nutshell the relationship between Magick and Science. The better at science you are, the better magician you'll be. Well, Dave knows zilch about science. He's a tailor.

They begin Dave's education with the basics and proceed to the Qabalah which ought logically to be his best tool. This gigantic task is sketched in a few brief scenes - studying is not dramatic, but the results can be.

Dave is leery about the whole project. He's learned enough to know the extent of his own ignorance. He understands Dorian as a supernatural creature but to keep his sanity, he sort of partitions off that part of his mind. This is why he's psychologically still in post-trauma syndrom from the events in San Francisco.

In the process of teaching Dave, Dorian/Arnaud discovers a renewal of his own faith and comes to understand how he became enmeshed in the Magician's spell because he had abandoned God - not because God had abandoned him. Practicing elementary spells with Dave, he rediscovers his own Power and begins to loosen the threads of the Magician's Binding as he makes his peace with the god of his fathers and his willing sacrifice of his life to that god who had abandoned his city.

- Dave discovers the Qabalistic tradition in two easy lessons. They must have the full two weeks to work?

After nearly six weeks, but still all too soon for David, and before Dorian/Arnaud frees himself completely, the Magician summons Dorian again to use him to kill his major rival for power in the new drug cartel. We discover that the delay in Summoning was due to the Magician having to steal an appropriate token from the Rival before setting up the exchange.

He Binds Dorian to the Rival so that Dorian can't kill anyone else for blood. His next victim must be the Rival. Even Dave's freely offered blood is not acceptable. He suffers the Thirst until the Magician summons him to appear at the warehouse where the exchange is to occur. We're talking tons of product here, a big deal.

The narcs are of course onto this and planning a bust. The Magician doesn't know that. His IGNORANCE is how he's Bound himself, just as Dorian's blindness to his own turning away from his God had entangled him.

We see the Magician's various attempts to be certain that there will be no bust, and how his work to Bind the vampire prevents him from realizing there is a bust planned.

During the showdown in the warehouse, Dorian resists the compulsion to kill the Rival. He has partial success, which puzzles the Magician. The Magician uses the token that controls Dorian and the mesh of the Binding spell tightens. Dorian wavers visibly.

When it is clear that Dorian's plan to free himself isn't going to work, Dave hurls his own fledgling magical powers into the fray. When the vibrations fill the warehouse, Dave experiences his own personal revelation, a spiritual transcendence that changes his whole attitude toward the nature of reality. But at the time, it just sweeps him away with glory. (This illustrates how Magic rebounds onto the Magician - cast a Binding of another's Will and you will be Bound, fettered, lashed to the wheel of destiny. Cast Freedom, and you will be freed to see beyond the veil of illusion that encloses us in mundane reality.)

Meanwhile, Dorian uses the energy Dave raises and surmounts the Magician's wards, breaking free. When the wards break, the narcotics enforcers can break into the building.

Alarms go off, shooting erupts, an explosion, and a series of explosions as the destruct mechanisms planted in the tons of merchandise (insurance against being cheated with counterfeit money or gunned down in an attempt to steal the shipment) rip the night into chaos.

David sees Dorian/Arnaud feed, killing another human being. But it isn't the one he'd been commanded to kill. It is one of the guards who was in the process of mowing down police with an uzi. For Dave, this is another sort of spiritual revelation, a real shock after the ecstasy of transcendence.

Fortunately, Dorian/Arnaud recovers more quickly than Dave and spirits the human away. They make a clean escape under cover of confusion. After all, what drug taskforce has raiders trained to keep tendrils of mist from escaping the scene of the crime?

The book ends with Dave asking if Dorian intends to continue killing drug dealers. Dorian says yes, but that someday he now knows, someday, he will be free to walk in the sunlight again, free to feed without killing.

He doesn't know it at the time, but that is exactly what happens to him after he falls through the Moon Gate into the Witch World. Given that the neopagan group has re-energized the god of Dorian's fathers, that's the best The One can do for the vampire who must witness the end of time.

The End

How do you demonstrate the connection as a cause/effect connection through the astral plane?

What act of white magic can avert the consequences of the bust from Dorian and Dave? And make it clear that amount of power isn't as important as color of power?

 


 

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