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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 22: Hastings 51
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Merlin was chatting noisily with the locals; Lauren needed to talk to him, to let him know. Finally she got his attention.
"Remember I told you that I killed an ancient vampire mage named Horta? And that the effort killed me?"
"Of course, Laurelyn. Why?"
"That's him, that odd looking man near the door. I don't know whether he's already a vampire, or even if this is the same world, but that's definitely Horta."
"Really? That's fascinating. Yes, I know Horta. He's not that dangerous, as vampires go–perhaps two or three hundred years old, Roman I believe. He doesn't speak English well. I'd have killed him long ago, but he's only the lackey. I'm after his master."
"His master? There's someone worse around?"
"I think you're overreacting, Spellsbreath. He's really not that dangerous. His master, Tubrok, is the one we're after. Right now all I'm interested in is preventing him from interfering with the succession of kings on the isles; even I would hesitate to face an antediluvian in single combat."
"An antediluvian? There's a vampire who existed before the flood who still walks the earth today?"
"Several, actually, but most are extremely reclusive, protecting their unlife by withdrawing as far from the rest of the world as possible. Tubrok, however, seems to think that he can make a better world for vampires by manipulating law and governments. He wants to keep humans fighting with each other; that way he and his kind can prey on them without creating suspicion."
"That's actually fairly clever," Lauren said. "Almost as good as the vampire I killed who wanted to rob humanity of all faith in God."
"Yes, that was clever. But let's concentrate on the present. Tubrok is trying to arrange for the death of Uther Pendragon and the subsequent fragmenting of the clans. We need to outmaneuver him. The best strategy I see is to allow Uther to die, but arrange for everyone to rally around another king."
"The sword in the stone," Lauren said in a distracted way.
"Oh, never mind. It was a story I heard."
"But it gives me a good idea. It's a bit tricky, but I think I can make it work. A bit of pyrotechnics, a hold, some kind of conditional release–I dare say we can make it work, Spellsbreath. Let's get on it."
He looked at the vampire near the door. "Still, I suppose it would not do for Horta to be telling Tubrok we were here. Spellsbreath, I want you to watch my mind, and do what I do. We're going to tell everyone in here to ignore us."
Lauren focused her mind to his, watching how his thoughts, or more like his mind below his thoughts, were changing. It was not difficult to imitate with her own mind, and in a moment she had done it.
"If you're ready," Merlin said, "we'll go." With that, he stood up and walked out of the tavern; she followed, walking right in front of the vampire who had been in her past, and would be in his future, her mortal enemy.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #82: Novel Developments. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: