The Blood and the Cauldron (Part 1)

As the evenings draw in and Samhain approaches, things get spooky on this blog of mine. I wrote this story originally for Mari Wells, mistress of all the creatures that howl, bite, and go bump in the night. Now I bring it to you. So lock the doors, curl up with your favourite beverage (and some garlic, just in case), and read on – if you dare… 😉

**********

The heavy door swung inwards without a sound. That was good; he had half-expected it to creak. He stepped inside, hugging the wall and scanning the hallway for any movement. There was none. He left the door open, hoping that a little light would follow him. It was risky being here this late. The sun was almost down. Then they would rise, and he had no way of knowing how many there were. He had only ever seen the two, but he couldn’t save Cara if there were many more. He would be too outnumbered.

 

He had asked Mark to go with him, but his friend had refused.

‘It’s a trap,’ Mark had stated, ‘And we’re not going. They’ve been after you since they got your sister. Now you’ve given them bait.’

‘I can’t just leave Cara!’ Ewan had protested.

‘You know why we don’t get involved in relationships. Innocent people get hurt.’ At the expression on his friend’s face, Mark softened a little. ‘Look…why don’t you ask the Witch to help you?’

‘And be beholden to her? No thanks.’

 

So he found himself alone, back at the house where Cara had been dragged away. The memory of her cries made him shiver. She had wanted him to explore with her, saying it would be an adventure. In vain he had tried to tell her what lived there. She hadn’t believed him. Not being brought up in the town, she scoffed at the idea that there were any such things as – vampires.

There was an ornate staircase at the far end of the wide hallway, rising to the upper floor. The doors on either side opened onto reception rooms, except for one which led to the basement stairway. This much he knew from the plans. Would they be in the basement? Heavy drapes covered all the windows, so not necessarily. The undead would be safe from the light in any part of the house, except where he now stood in the fading dusk.

He had to start somewhere. He edged towards the basement door, leaving his refuge of light. He tested the doorknob. It wouldn’t budge. Crouching, he peered at the slim gap between the door and the frame. Locked! He could see right through the keyhole. He straightened, groping in his pocket for his lock pick.

A crawling sensation down his spine made him turn, and his worse imaginings were confirmed. Two vampires, the females who had dragged Cara off. They descended the stairs, arms outstretched to clasp him in a deathly embrace. He backed away, reaching inside his jacket for the holy water. If he distracted them with that, he might be able to stake both before they knew what was happening. No, wait – they would know where Cara was. If he killed one and captured the other… They were closer now, gliding down the last few steps. Their movements were noiseless, which was unsettling. God, but they were beautiful. He tried to watch them without meeting their eyes. He removed the stopper from the bottle with trembling hands.

‘Ewan,’ they whispered, reaching out to him with slender white arms. ‘Eeewannn…’ Distracted, he met the gaze of the nearest – and was hit with a wave of desire so strong he cried out. A rush of heat throbbed in his groin. He ached to step into that welcoming embrace. He slammed his hand against the wall, scraping his palm down the peeling paintwork. The pain broke the spell. He scrambled back towards the main door, realising too late that the sun had sunk below the horizon. There was no refuge that way.

‘Where’s Cara?’ He kept his voice steady. If he found her, there would be two of them against the vampires. Cara was feisty; she would fight alongside him. He refused to consider that she might already be dead, or so drained that she would be too weak to move.

Sibilant laughter was his answer.

They had come from the upper floor. He let his body sag as if in defeat, then, when they were mere inches away, he threw the holy water. He darted past the writhing, screaming vampires and mounted the stairs two at a time. Damn, which room to try first? Then he spotted the door ajar at the end of the landing. He raced towards it, knowing the two downstairs wouldn’t be distracted for long.

He took in his surroundings: a faded but ornate bedroom, with a canopied bed against the right hand wall. The drapes at the window would once have been the colour of fine wine, but were now like watery blood. They still blocked out the light; a single candle burning on the dresser threw a faint, eerie glow across the room.

There was a figure in the bed, covered by a gossamer sheet that accentuated womanly curves. He rushed over and threw the cover back – to reveal Cara, deathly white and asleep – or unconscious.

She wore a gown of some floaty fabric, not the jeans and shirt she had on earlier. He feared that they had fed on her – she was so pale – but there were no marks on her neck, or anywhere else, as far as he could see. He shook her shoulder, trying to be gentle so that if she were injured, he wouldn’t make things worse. No response. He knew she wasn’t dead, as her chest rose and fell. Maybe she was so drained, she wouldn’t wake? Could he carry her out of there – and deal with the vamps? A hiss from the doorway told him he was about to find out. Glancing from under his lashes so as not to meet their eyes, he saw the two females in the doorway.

They weren’t looking at him, but past him.

There was a gossamer movement of air behind him. Icy fingers brushed his neck, and he jumped from the bed. Cara sat up; baring her teeth in what was once a beautiful smile – except now her elongated canines were clearly visible. Ewan choked back a sob.

He didn’t care that the other two had moved to stand beside him – until they curtsied low to the figure on the bed.

‘Mistress.’ They spoke in unison.

Cara inclined her head, as though granting a boon.

All the air left Ewan’s body, as though he’d been punched in the stomach. The acolytes acknowledging Cara that way – that could only mean – how – how?

She was vampire. Not turned by them – she was their creator. She had been vampire all along. How had she fooled him?

‘Ewan.’

Her voice was honey. How could she sound so sweet when she was a monster? Revulsion warred with desire in his gut. He had been deceived – lured here – trapped.

‘Ewan, look at me.’

He was lost, anyway. Three of them, against him.

He gritted his teeth, and raised his head to meet her gaze.

 

To be continued…

Image courtesy of greatbritishtours.com

Image courtesy of greatbritishtours.com

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14 thoughts on “The Blood and the Cauldron (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The Blood and the Cauldron (Part 2) | Karen Soutar

  2. Pingback: The Blood and the Cauldron (Part 3) | Karen Soutar

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