Tuesday, August 6, 2013

THE IMPERIAL ROMAN VAMPIRE BODYGUARD, JANUS, sees another facet of his breed... 8/6/13

This is why I could not do it. This is why the leader of Clan Ramila still lives. I saw something there...something at once so innocent and terrible... and it scared me. Guess I haven't been a life-eater too long. 

They lived in a villa, a regular Roman style villa, square with an atrium in the middle. But it was big, all marble and tile. One way in through the front and another smaller, less ornate portal out back. Fortress mansions they are. Mortal guardsmen kept watch out front. Though a vampire knows how to beguile people. It's instinctive to us and I am no exception. So they stared off into the middle distance and let me pass. 

Inside all was silent. A small, votive flame dedicated to Vesta flickered on an altar near the entrance. I went into a reception chamber all done up in the simple, classic manner native to the Greeks. The Romila, being Calabrasi from deep down in the 'toe,' had strong ties to 'Old Hellas' and maintained many of the ancient traditions. Tiny oil lamps scattered about the interior provided dim illumination...'night lights' so to speak. Juvenile slaves charged with tending them were supposed to stay up all night. Most wealthy homes had perhaps two. An easy job usually given to the offspring of long-time family retainers. But in practice, kids will be kids... even slave kids. And these two were back in the kitchen filching olive paste and flat bread. They knew the routine. One or two passes a night was enough. Everyone else was asleep, holed up in tiny, windowless, bed chambers toward the back. Were there mice? Well, a few, but the cats took care of that. And all the other slaves were penned up for the night.

I did smell the vampire though... stale blood... not strong... very subtle... barely there. Some say vampires have no scent, but they are wrong. A lot of what they say about us is wrong. 

He was sitting in a chair outside a bedroom. Now please know that the light was exceedingly low. But vampire eyes can see even in pitch darkness. Like cats we are... Like sleek, hungry, feral cats. He sipped wine. Our kind can tolerate fermented nectars. And he slowly smiled at my approach. I'd rarely faced one of my own before. He seemed strong in a sly and clever way, while I relied on a more 'muscular' visceral type of life-eater strength. 

Then he spoke, barely audible to mortal ears and difficult even for me. He said - Come for revenge, have you?.... I nodded.... He chuckled and said - They've sent others before. Oh, we've lost people from time to time. Stolen away in the night... Poof, cold blue flame and all that... (and then his eyes bore through me) but not tonight... come with me. I've something to show you.... He got up and led me through dark passages, out through the loggia and across the roofless atrium, where he unlocked an old, rough door revealing a narrow stone stairway snaking down into the earth. I followed. At the bottom was another door. He fumbled for a key and opened it as well, uttering one word...'come.'

Inside was a room lit by candlelight. Not too bright, but brighter than above. The walls were fine, smooth plaster... old and veined with tiny cracks. They floor, smooth slates covered by many silken pillows and colorful, wooden toys. Mythological heroes stared out from the walls, old murals, carefully painted by long dead artists. And there in a corner, behind a disheveled child's bed sat a baby... a plump, little boy who went 'uh, oh' at my approach. For scattered 'round him were the almost dead, cold, gray carcasses of other babies, mortal babies. The Nesso Child had not died. He was here, right before me and he was a vampire, an innocent, lethal vampire, disturbed during dinner, yet curious just the same.....

(more next time)
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