“Either you can fight me, or you can die.” hissed Sebottendorff angrily. He tossed his broken Luger to the floor and clenched his fists tightly. His cold eyes locked with Claude’s; he saw the same eyes looking back at him. They were the dead eyes of a vampire, eyes that were only expressive when the vampire made a conscious effort. Sebottendorff’s lips parted, exposing his fearsome maw.
“Do you remember Lucia at all?” asked Claude, referring to the vampiress that had changed both him and Sebottendorff. Sebottendorff ignored Claude’s verbal feint and lashed out at him with his claws. Each deadly talon flew far from their mark as Claude hopped backwards. He raised his arms to deflect another of Sebottendorff’s swings. The savage claws scraped across Claude’s ivory skin, leaving a trace of red in their wake.
Adrian, pulling another vial from his belt, began a new chant. He seemed to speak with two voices; one was low and droning, while the other was sweet and lilting. The soul contained within the vial began to vibrate, trying to tear itself from Adrian’s clenched fist. Sebottendorff didn’t recognize the spell being cast, and didn’t dare take his eyes off of Claude for a moment. He resolved to wait for the spell and rely on his natural abilities to escape its effect.
“Lucia taught me a lesson more valuable than any of the tricks that you showed me,” said Claude, oblivious to the wounds on his arms. “She taught me about freedom, and a world of possibilities. If I killed you, I would undo any good that you may do in the future.” Sebottendorff snickered, dismissing Claude’s words as naive. “You can change, Claus. You can find happiness in peace.” Sebottendorff guffawed dramatically.
“The funny part is that you actually believe that.” said Sebottendorff breathlessly. “We are predators, and the world is a buffet. It’s ours to dominate. We are the stronger race, and it is in our hands to mold this world into perfection.”
“Do you think you can really control the spirit of mankind? This can never be; it is too strong. In part, it is that same spirit that animates us. That inner strength cannot be cowed or whipped into submission. Such a task would be akin to whipping the ocean in order to make it behave.”
“I guess that giving up is all that’s left to do…” said Sebottendorff as he wheeled about and lunged towards Adrian. Sebottendorff glided gracefully through the air, hitting the ground and tumbling towards Adrian with the fluidity of mercury. Finding his footing, the vampire reached for Adrian’s outstretched hands.
“I’ll have no more tricks from you.” said Sebottendorff, trying to crush Adrian’s hands.
“No more. Just this one.” said Adrian, falling silent as a cocoon of green light enveloped Sebottendorff. Sebottendorff cursed and moaned as the light burned through the hand that grasped Adrian. Adrian began his chant anew; with each passing minute, the aura of light closed in around the shouting vampire.
“Don’t kill him!” pleaded Claude. Adrian glanced at Claude. Twisted in anger, Adrian’s face no longer appeared to be human, appearing more akin to a snarling devil.
“He is beyond saving.” said Adrian as his features became more grotesque.
“Shit! Tobias, be okay, please, please be okay.” August was cradling the half-human form of Tobias as the elevator ascended. He had used simple cantrips to confound the vampire spawn that flooded the hospital‘s halls, allowing him to bring Tobias to the safety of a utility closet. Tobias gasped for air; one of his lungs collapsed from the gun shot, and fragments of silver were tearing through his veins. “You can’t die. We can’t keep this show going without our muscle.” said August.
“I’m not going to die in a broom closet.” resolved Tobias, speaking slowly while struggling for air. “Go help Minnie. She needs you more than me.”
“I can’t leave you here.” argued August.
“I all ready told you. I’m not dying in a broom closet. Now go, before I make you go.” Tobias said with a growl. Hesitantly, August left his friend in the closet, hoping that the vampire spawn would overlook it. He recited the words for an illusion and hid the door as best he could, disguising it as a vending machine. Quietly, he made his way to the stairs that lead up to the Intensive Care Unit.
Minerva shielded her eyes from the fire that blazed before her. The shape of a radiant woman gleamed in wheels of fire that seared the flesh of the vampire spawn. She had been as furtive as she could be; she used her senses to find the safest path through the horde of vampire spawn. Despite her best efforts, she found herself surrounded. She started to draw a magical circle on the floor when the fiery form appeared, ascending through the floor. As Minerva’s eyes adjusted, she could make out faint details of the figure; she was instantly reminded of Shiva as Nataraja. The radiant woman glided on the air, singeing the vampire spawn that retreated before her.
“Who is that?” asked August as he exited the stairwell, finding himself next to Minerva and awed by the spectacle of the burning woman. He looked closely, and recognized her dark, round eyes. “Dr. Kholsa!” he exclaimed, answering his own question. The woman turned, smiling at him serenely.
“Come! Antoni Zelinski is down that hall. Follow me.” said Prabha Kholsa.
Contessa felt her magical shield failing. She felt like she was suffocating under the pile of writhing bodies. Unceasingly, they tried to penetrate her shield, but she was able to exert herself. She heard some gun shots over the din of the vampire spawn, but she knew that there would be no rescue for her. As she felt the last of her energy drain away, she felt tears rolling down her cheeks. She encouraged herself to be brave.
“Death is just another step in life. It is when we discover what is beyond the veil. The spirit is free to roam.” Contessa closed her eyes as her shield shattered with a loud crack. Luckily, the shield had survived long enough. The sound she heard was not the choir of the celestial spheres, but the demands of Dr. Kholsa.
“Once you have your strength back, go down to Utility closet 2B. You will find a werewolf in need of care. Until you can get there, get on the phone and call in any healers you might know. We’re going to need a lot of hands.” ordered Prabha. August and Minerva were standing beside Mr. Zelinski’s bed. Unfortunately, he had not fared as well as Contessa. He had been horrifically mauled by the vampire spawn, who had started to eat his body during their frenzy. Tears welled up in August’s eyes; he had failed and was all ready starting to berate himself for his failure.
Minerva somberly placed a bed sheet over the remains, and noticed a shattered gold chain on the floor. A strange charm hung from one of its links; she had seen it before, she was sure of it.
“It’s from the Vampire Folio. There was a small sigil illustrated on the frontispiece.” she said, to herself more than to anybody else.
Dr. Kholsa, still glowing with a golden aureole, covered herself with a lab coat and tried to comfort August.
“We’re not done yet.” said August grimly. “I shouldn’t have left Claude and Adrian alone with Sebottendorff.” Pushing away Prabha, August raced out of the room. Fueled by anger and fear, he rushed down the stairs. He started to push his energy into his palms; he knew what spell he would cast; he would erase Sebottendorff from reality. He knew that casting the spell would cut down on his lifespan, but he needed to be certain that Sebottendorff was gone forever.
His body tingled with electricity as he strode into the lobby; he felt the weight of all those that Sebottendorff had slain pushing him along. They were calling for blood, and August would satiate them.
When Minerva and Prabha arrived in the lobby, they found Adrian pinned to the ground, with August standing above him menacingly.
“You had him! Why didn’t you kill him!” shouted August, a ball of energy growing in his hands.
“That damn hippie vampire broke my concentration. The two of them overcame me, then ran. I was just regaining my bearings when you showed up.” said Adrian, his words swift and begging for acceptance.
“You are a liar!” accused August.
“Stop it!” yelled Minerva, her voice splitting the air like a thunderclap. August looked at his hands, then at Adrian. Then, he looked at Minerva. Dismissing the spell, he dropped to the floor, weeping.
“How could he do that!?” raged August. “How could he stab us in the back like that?!”
“He’s a vampire, August,” said Minerva, “he knows how people behave. He didn’t want us to kill Sebottendorff.”
“But why?” pleaded August.
“Because he has hope.” answered Adrian. “He thinks he can save Sebottendorff from himself. If he can, then the world will be better for it. If not, well, it ends the same way it would have ended here.”
Prabha approached August and rested her hand on his shoulder.
“Let’s not worry about what we cannot do. There are those that need help now. Let us tend to them.” said the doctor, helping August to his feet. Reluctantly, he followed Prabha as she led them back into the hospital. He wondered where Sebottendorff would go and how he managed to escape the police that surrounded the hospital. He shook the thoughts from his head; he couldn’t do anything now, except for help bind wounds and say last rights to the dying.
It pains me to finish this story arc of August and Minerva. I was terribly uncertain of how I wanted things to end. I wanted Sebottendorff to survive; I love that evil bastard too much to kill him. Originally, I had Claude yanking out his heart, then Adrian would use a spell to destroy it. But then, I was left wondering how I would bring back Sebottendorff? I decided at the last minute that it would end this way, and I feel that it makes more sense. Despite the anticlimax, I feel that the story ends in a satisfying way.
August is shown to have weaknesses, while Minerva continues to suffer with her vow against using magic. Adrian, who comes from my “The Room” series, shows himself to be what August could become. Meanwhile, August has a potential love interest, and Tobias is injured but bad assily fine. I skipped the usual post-case ice cream, mostly because of A&M’s failure to get the job done. No dead/vanquished monster = no ice cream.
The next story arc will be set in Paris, where August and Minerva are attending a conference and discover that August, much like myself, is a gypsy magnet. Excitement?