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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 124: Hastings 83
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With horror Lauren realized that Bethany was talking to the vampire, a female in her late twenties by the look. She had never wondered what happened to Bethany's mother; in this world, people died, and you didn't bring it up. Apparently Bethany's mother had been taken by the vampires at some point, and here she was.
Lauren was running out of hopes. Bethany was paralyzed by the recognition of the form of her mother; the guns were all out of reach, her mouth was filled with dirt, vampires were choking her and holding her down, her mind was still dazed from the shock of the force field breaking–it looked like it was over, and she couldn't even tell Bethany to run. She did not know how it could work out from here.
There was another voice, a familiar but long forgotten sound. A woman was shouting in the old high Celtic tongue that came before Camelot. The force of the words was pounding against her attackers; the male was weakening, fading, and finally he burst into a cloud of dust. The female released her. Nearly unconscious, choking and gagging still, she rolled to her knees and tried to get some air.
The voice changed from Celtic to English, but with a heavy accent with so much Welsh behind it Lauren was having trouble making out the words. She did get the main points, however.
"Lass, that is not your mother. You cannot let the demon trick you. It is a monster that has stolen the form of someone you love. You must recognize this; you must destroy it. Use your powers to protect yourself and your mistress, and do not let its lies be your death. The world is full of monsters which will use the faces of those we love to deceive us. Changelings and doppelgangers shift their forms; vampires steal them. Destroy the monster. It has stolen the body of your mother, and her memories, but is not your mother, and it will not hesitate to destroy you if you let it live."
Lauren turned in time to see and hear Bethany shout her slicing spell, digging a hole in the beast's chest. The girl then scooped up Lauren's dropped revolver, and fired the remaining bullets at it as it leapt for her. Almost on top of her, it fell to pieces and scattered on the ground.
Lauren picked herself up, still spitting dirt out of her mouth. "Are you all right?" she asked Bethany.
The girl nodded faintly. "You?" she asked, and Lauren returned the nod. But she was moving on to their benefactor.
"We met once, I think," she began.
"Aye, Spellsbreath. I heard you were dead."
"Death is not the end. I've been dead a few times, but my lot is to come back when I'm needed. Bethany, my student. Bethany, this is Morgana."
"Morgana la Fey?" Bethany seemed very impressed. "I'm very pleased to meet you."
"We owe you a debt," Lauren said. "Thank you."
"Well, I heard the explosions, and knew it had to be wizards in trouble, so the least I could do was check. When I realized it was one of my fellow students, it seemed only right to help."
"We never knew each other well. Merlin tended to keep his students apart, and teach us individually."
"Aye, he did. He had good reason. But you would not have liked me then, nor, I think, I you. Come, my place is not far, and you look like you could use some cleaning and mending." Without another word, Morgana turned toward Camelot, and Lauren and Bethany gathered their possessions quickly and followed her.
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 #122: Character Partings. 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: