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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 40: Hastings 57
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As Lauren finished her words, there was light. Like a follow spot, it came from some unseen height and shone directly on the vampire, moving with her as she tried to escape. The effect on Lauren was almost as dramatic; her eyesight, enhanced by her mental efforts, suddenly became extremely intense. She could count the dark pores on the skin of her adversary, as the color differences came into sharp relief. The greens of the leaves were amazing, the brown earth a tweed of many interlocking shades, the weave of the cloth and the imperfections in the yarn of the woman's clothes as clear as orange reflective vests on joggers in the gray mornings. She gasped involuntarily.
But Sagrimore did not see as she saw, and he did not pause or freeze. She saw him rush past, and his sword flashed into the brilliant beam, passing straight through the gut of the target. It was an impressive strike.
The vampire did not bleed, did not fall, did not even wince. With the back of her hand she struck his arm, knocking him backwards. Then she pounced, catlike, toward Lauren.
"For I am convinced," Lauren shouted, as she stepped behind a tree and pulled her kau sin ke, "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities," and at this moment the vampire was beside her, and she slashed at it with the weapon, setting up her defensive whirl while still speaking, "nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The vampire found an opening and sprang forward, but even as she struck Lauren's chest, she howled in pain and fell back. Lauren struck the creature's head with a side stroke which wrapped around its neck, but it yanked the chain from her grip. She continued the verbal assault.
"And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church," she shouted, and it howled again. Sagrimore had recovered, and slashed from behind. This stroke passed through the monster's neck, and as its head fell one direction its body collapsed in the other.
The light which still shone on it began to fade as the body withered and the skin drew tight over the skull.
"Is it dead?" Sagrimore asked.
"That's an excellent question. They have no heartbeats, draw no breaths, are always cold–how can you tell when they die?" She thought for a moment. Ghouls left bodies, or so she understood. This was a vampire. The vampires she had killed had turned to dust in seconds, but this one had only withered. On the other hand, the youngest vampire she had ever killed was at least fifty years dead, ample time for it to have decayed in the natural course of time. This one she had theorized had been dead only a couple of years, and would not have had time to deteriorate significantly. So perhaps this was what she should expect. "I would say this one is dead. Once they die, they deteriorate as much as they would have done were they in the grave. This was a young one."
"If this was a weak one," Sagrimore said, "how can we hope to defeat them?"
Lauren turned from the corpse and walked back toward the fire. "One at a time, Sagrimore, and with our faith and our hope firmly in the hands of God." She sat on a log. "Just the same, we should keep watch tonight in case there's another coming. It would be the height of cunning to make us feel we had beaten them for the night, only to kill us in our sleep. You rest; I'll take the first watch."
As Sagrimore slept, she called a bit of light to her fingers so she could read the pages of her Bible, reviewing what she knew and seeking to learn more. Sometime well after midnight, perhaps an hour or two before dawn, she woke the cavalier and lay down to take her rest.
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 #89: Novel Confrontations. 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: