The Story So Far: Evan Walters is a Deep One, one of the curious denizens of the deep sea that worship Dagon and Hydra. After unsuccessfully attempting to summon his gods to the mortal realm, Evan found himself imprisoned in Ice Point Penitentiary, a prison for creatures with supernatural powers.
The mysterious Simeon keeps the prisoners under his thumb, and Evan schemes with Pete Black (a minor wizard and self-styled minister) to overthrow Simeon’s rule and breakout of the jail.
Meanwhile, August Rivers, an investigator of the supernatural, enjoys a date with Dr. Prabha Kholsa. Prabha has revealed that being a vessel for the gods is both a curse and a blessing: with the great power comes a shortened life, and she must make the most of the time she has.
Evan didn’t know what Simeon was, but he certainly wasn’t a man. Since Pete Black approached Evan to form an alliance, Evan had obsessed over Simeon. Evan knew what Simeon wasn’t, but he didn’t know what he could possibly be, and that made the self-styled Lord of Ice Point a dangerous enemy.
During meals, Simeon just sat in a corner, watching the men around him eat their trays full of what they called “Brown Delight.” It was some kind of thick stew with chunks of blood pudding floating in it and Simeon never ate a bite of it. During exercise periods, Simeon would lift weights or play basketball: Evan observed that he displayed superhuman strength and speed, but Simeon’s physical gifts were the least of Evan’s worries.
If there was a fight, the guards would look to Simeon before they moved in to break it up. Visitors seldom came to Ice Point, but when they did, they would always see Simeon before they were allowed to see anyone else. It truly appeared as though Simeon was the Lord of the prison. If Evan was to make a move on him, he would need more than Pete Black on his side. Gregory Polatkin would be a good ally.
Gregory was small but stocky with fair hair and cold grey eyes. His skin was ashen and thin, showing a network of blue-black veins. Evan neither hated or loved vampires, but he would be mistaken if he didn’t attempt to get Gregory on his side.
“We need to talk,” said Evan when he approached Gregory at supper.
“What is that smell? Is it a fish?” asked Gregory to the air as he looked up from the pouch he had been sucking on. “O Fish, your odor offends. You make blood taste foul when you’re near. What is it? And quickly.”
“Pete Black and me are looking for a few people. We’re forming ranks; it’s time for a war.”
“So the priests are looking for a congregation, eh? I’m not interested in gods, be they above or below the sea. I’m beyond that.”
The vampire’s words angered Evan, but he didn’t comment on them.
“We’re looking for soldiers, not followers.”
“And where will these soldiers fight?” asked Gregory with a sneer.
“Here. For freedom.”
Gregory laughed loudly, showing his fangs as he chortled.
“And I suppose you have Simeon’s permission?” asked Gregory.
“No. He is the enemy.”
Gregory leaned back in he chair and closed his eyes for a moment. Evan wondered what thoughts were running through the vampire’s mind; would Gregory turn him over to Simeon? Pete had suggested that Gregory was fruit ripe for the plucking, but maybe the priest’s instincts and information were wrong.
“Hmm. Interesting. And suppose I play along? What will I get?”
“Pete has plans for Simeon’s heart, but no claim on his blood. Who knows what powers it contains?” said Evan.
“Who knows what poisons it contains,” said Gregory. “And how will you pay to keep my silence? If Simeon knows about this, your war will be done before it starts.”
“One of your cellmates is from Pete’s congregation. If he had something, say a chair leg that has been sharpened, it could prove to be rather effective against a chatty bat.”
Gregory nodded, smirking.
“It seems like you and Pete have thought this out. Winter is coming soon, and with it the long darkness of the North. It would be wonderful to be out of here sooner than later. Frankly, this farm raised blood isn’t as good as free range. I’ll talk with the others after you tell me the full plan. If it proves realistic, I can pledge myself and the golems to your cause. The Otherkin are another story, as are the wizards.”
“First, we need to find out what Simeon is, then we can make a plan of attack. There are a few that are very close to Simeon, and a vampire or two could use their powers to pry out what secrets they can. A small effort, and the entire interrogation is wiped from the subject’s mind, right? That’s how it works, or so I’m told.”
“Getting that close to Simeon will bring its own risks. I will need a down-payment for my services. Get me some wizard’s blood and I’ll shake the trees and see what falls out.”
Evan was pleased. The plan was moving along, slowly but steadily. He Pete was speaking with Tristan, one of Ice Point’s weaker wizards. Tristan would be one step towards getting the other wizards involved, but if he was uncooperative, he could easily be served up to Gregory.
When Evan returned to his cell, he threw himself on the lower bunk and closed his eyes. He thought of the sea, where he had lived and worshiped Father Dagon and Mother Hydra. He had been a High Priest, well-regarded and powerful. He remembered Dagon’s death at the hands of a mortal man; Evan didn’t know the man’s face, but he knew that Perry would. Evan planned on visiting his son again when Ice Point stood in the past; next time, he wouldn’t let the boy live.
“How long have you been living in this city?” asked Prabha, walking arm-in-arm with August, who was surprised at how well their date had been. After eating, Prabha had suggested taking a walk around the quiet neighborhood and possibly visiting August’s office; she was curious about some esoteric tomes he had mentioned and asked if she could borrow one for her father.
August’s mindset had changed from what it had been earlier in the day. When he was getting dressed, he was prepared for the date to crash and burn, but now he was walking with Prabha. He started to think that a kiss goodnight was in his future; he wouldn’t dare go farther than that, but wondered if she would want more. She was attractive, he was attracted, she seemed attracted; it would only make sense if both of them wanted to go further than a kiss.
However, August resolved to be chivalrous; if it came to it, he would just tell her that he felt like they were moving too fast.
“I’ve been living here since 1999, so that makes it almost thirteen years. I didn’t think that I’d stay here that long, but now I can’t imagine leaving. It’s like we’re bound together, the city and me.”
“I wish I knew what that was like. We moved around quite a bit; my father’s theories occasionally got him ousted from the colleges he worked at, and he had only found his current seat after I was sent to boarding school.”
“I didn’t know you went to boarding school. That must have been an experience.” said August as they walked away from The Garden down a sidewalk that was made uneven by a tree’s roots that had caused it to buckle. The street was marked by occasional potholes that revealed the cobblestone which once were the road.
“It was and it wasn’t.” answered Prabha, her tone joyful. August could tell she was smiling just by listening to her.
“I liked that there were others like us, people with powers. In public school, it was like a mark, something to bear with shame even though there’s no shame in it. At Miss Hampton’s, I found that my power was something that was envied. I’m still not sure exactly what that says, socially. In college, it was a mix, but it mattered less and less to me. Either I grew-up, or I just didn’t have time to care as much. I was who I was, and that was that.”
As they turned onto Main Street, the trees gave way to crumbling brick buildings that were nearly two centuries old; one housed the local newspaper while another had been converted into a small indoor mall. August pointed at the building where his office and apartment were and Prabha took a moment to study its plain brick exterior. August had often thought that it was utilitarian, but not ugly; if it had been built in the modern era, it would have been a hideous, squat cement building with sharp corners, but since it was old, it possessed a beauty that it didn’t seem to deserve.
“I like it,” said Prabha. It’s kind of like you. A little unusual, with a very old soul.”
August laughed, unsure of how he should take the compliment. He wasn’t even sure if it was a compliment until he looked in Prabha’s eyes and saw there was adoration there. August stopped laughing, and started falling in love.