"Suffer not a witch to live." Mercy snarled at Helena in the Widows' dining hall as she stepped around a fallen table. Chains to hold blood feast victims tinkled softly from the ceiling. Sunrise was half an hour away.
Helena looked up from the metal disk in her hands and sighed. Mercy could tell the lovely one was weak and tired.
Eager and filled with righteous anger, Mercy ran at the infernally beautiful vampire, sword raised for the perfect strike. Helena's figure blurred and then she was three feet to the left. Mercy's swing missed. As Mercy pivoted on her heel she watched blood leave her body, stolen through the air to fly into Helena's open mouth like a fluttering red ribbon. Weakened, Mercy screamed in rage and her sword tip arced around at waist height to slice Helena in two.
Helena blurred again and Mercy found herself face to face with her adversary. The back of Helena's hand struck the side of Mercy's face with a crack. Mercy flew back against a stained glass window. It showered her in a rain of beautiful colored shards as she collapsed in a heap, her mouth open, a trickle of blood slithering out from her nose. The inquisitor's head was propped up at an odd angle by a toppled wooden chest painted in bright swirling colors.
That voice. She was too weak. She whirled to face him.
Menele's body was covered in cuts and bruises. He hadn't expended any blood to heal himself. Either he was deliberately leaving it that way to fool her, or he was very low on vitae himself. Helena's lips parted in a sensual smile. This was it. The end. Finally. She could see the hunger in his eyes too. Who had more blood? Really, that was the question. She'd taken a small bit from Mercy. He looked ragged. The two predators circled each other, wary.
Helena opened her right hand and a trickle of blood slipped from Menele to her fingertips. The most beautiful woman in the world smiled and then frowned as she noticed her own blood sliding into the fingers of Menele's right hand.
Menele tilted his head sideways and smiled.
Both figures blurred and found themselves face to face. Every slight movement by one was countered by the other. Three thousand years of attack and counter attack left each with intimate knowledge of the other. Shifting, darting, they danced.
Helena's eyes narrowed and she struck, her teeth sinking in to Menele's throat. He bent slightly at her strike, and sunk his own into her left breast. Clinging to each other in this embrace, they sunk to their knees and the true battle began.
Eyes closed, minds open, each tried to drink the soul of the other. Memories flickered through both minds simultaneously, the screams of the dying as Carthage burned, the wailing of mothers for their ash-coated children at Pompeii, the Mayans and the Conquistadors, all the murdered childer, all the lies, the betrayal, all cycled through each vampire's mind as they tried to consume the other. Their blood shifted, as it was pulled away by one, it was sucked by the other. Helena's nails sunk into Menele's shoulders. His arms crushed her waist.
Finally they pulled away from each other's flesh with a mutual cry of frustration. Wild-eyed, Helena laced her fingers through Menele's hair.
"Why won't you die." she pleaded through bloody lips.
Menele, his own mouth slick with vitae parted his lips to give an answer, and then covered her mouth with his own. Teeth tried to snap at tongues through the kiss. Their bodies twined together in the shattered glass on the floor.
Menele found himself sliding closer to Helena with every movement. She slipped her legs around his and he pulled her hair to keep her mouth crushed against his own. Their minds opened, linked through blood and telepathy, each sought to permeate the other and take over. They moved deeper and deeper into the other's mind, disregarding defense and diving straight through to the core. The truth they found there stunned them both.
Their lips parted and they regarded each other in shock.
"That's. not. possible."
Quivering they held each other, staring straight through from soul to soul, both desperately trying to deny what they saw there.
Menele's lips moved to speak but said nothing. A tiny cry slipped from Helena's throat. They leaned in to each other and rested, cheek to cheek.
"I hate you so much." she whispered.
Their lips met again in the most tender of kisses. And then again, and again.
"Two thousand years. Millions dead."
"I sold my soul to destroy you."
"I know." Menele's face twisted to avoid tears and he lifted a strand of Helena's hair and tucked it behind her ear.
He kissed her neck. She tilted her head to rest it against his and buried her face in his hair, shaking in disbelief.
Both screamed as the first rays of sunrise touched them through the broken window. They rolled away from each other into the shadows.
Sunbeams stabbed through the room like yellow fingers, illuminating torn tapestries, destroyed furniture, and causing the occasional kindred body to smoke.
"Helena" Menele called from beside the sunbeam. A corpse burst into flame beside him.
Helena reached out and snatched the metal disk she'd been holding when he found her from the sunbeam. Menele flinched internally as he watched her beautiful white hand turn black.
"I'll help you."
"You can't." Her voice came from the shadows.
He heard dragging and the sound of a door shutting. Another corpse flared up in the sun. Menele sighed and slipped away into the gloom.
"Pale Wolf, what brings you to the circle of elders this night?"
"I seek guidance, wise fathers." Menele replied to the old men sitting cross-legged around the fire pit in the center of the lodge.
"You have helped us much. We will tell you what we know."
"The first people have fought long against the defilers, and you know your enemy well. If one has given their soul to the defilers in exchange for power. How can that pact be broken?"
An eagle feather passed from one shriveled hand to another.
"The pact can not be broken." said a white-haired man wreathed in smoke "save by one more powerful than the defilers."
"Who is more powerful than a defiler?"
"If we knew that," a kindly face smiled "We'd have sought their help already."
The feather passed to another hand.
"Who is it that has done this vile thing? Why help such a one?"
"Because" Menele looked up with tired eyes. "After all this time, and all this horror, I still love her."
"You may be a great spirit, Pale Wolf, but in your speech, I hear the words of a fool."
"People who attain new wisdom often seem as fools, Grandfather."
"You speak truth."
"All this time I thought I could not rest and join the great spirit until I destroyed her. Now I know. I have to save her."
"I see dark times ahead in this path you choose, Pale Wolf. I do not know that you will find the peace you seek."
"I know, Grandfather, but I have to try."
Helena wrinkled her nose. The eye in the door regarded her placidly as she waited on the steps. It blinked twice and then the door opened in silence. A purple thing with too many arms and too many eyes bowed to her on the other side.
"Pleassssssss enter, honored guessssst." Helena shivered slightly as she stepped on to a floor carpeted in living tongues. Traveling through two hallways and several rooms, the purple creature took her to a courtyard garden in the center of the living mansion. There, Sascha Vykos stood facing away from her, semi-translucent in the moonlight, it's many mouths gently singing a Gregorian chant in six part harmony.
Helena sat down on a stone chair by a pool of moonlit water and waited until the song was over.
"Welcome, most beautiful one." The mouths all over the Tsmisce's body spoke in chorus.
Helena inclined her head politely.
"What brings you to us?"
"I am told you read Enochian."
Vykos tilted its head and raised one hand. An eye grew out of it on a stalk to look at her.
"Yes." the mouths fluttered.
"I want to know if you will translate something for me."
Vykos turned to face her. Helena shivered at the alien beauty. It repulsed her to her core, yet she could not take her eyes off of the Tsmisce. "Why come to us when the one you serve could do this for you?"
Helena swallowed. "I was given the service of a tongueless D'habi ghoul."
"Aahhh." Vykos' mouths smiled, "you are here to determine the accuracy of the translation you have already received."
"You are here because you want to know the precise wording regarding the Dark Mother."
Helena's eyes widened.
"It happens often that one who sells their soul for knowledge decides they want it back. But how does one defeat a demon? That is not known, but if anyone could do so, it would be the lover of Lucifer himself."
"Will you help me?"
It paused. Wind whipped down into the stone courtyard carrying dead leaves and bits of frost to swirl around them, making Helena think of the inside of a snow globe.
"Yes. Like you, I would like to compare contents I obtained from elsewhere."
Helena placed the metal disk in its outstretched clawed hand.
Half an hour later, Helena stood on the doorstep of the mansion. The eye behind her was closed. Sascha Vykos' words still rang in her head.
"Ahi hay Lilitu" Helena whispered before disappearing into the night.
"Look at this city! Packmates slaughtered! Knowledge stolen! The Widows' Heart, ruined!"
Shouts from all around came to add their voices to Ezekiel's accusations. They had called it an assembly, an inquiry. It was a lynch mob. Benezri's angry eyes glared at the vampires of Montreal.
"Lextalionis! You have failed to protect your pack from the enemies of the Sabbat!"
"Silence Serpent! You go to far!"
"Is it not true that you allowed the infernalist Helena to enter and remain in this city?"
"We do not know that she is infernal. Mercy is invest-"
"Mercy is gone! She fell defending our city from your Toreador mistress!"
Alfred Benezri's knuckles clenched. "We don't know that."
"I have a witness."
The room hushed.
"Bring forth the witness!" Ezekiel called.
The assembly bayed their response like a pack of dogs.
"Bring forth the witness!"
"Bring the witness!"
Two Malkavian antitribu brought forth a large, brightly colored chest.
Benezri raised his eyebrows. "You can not be serious."
Ezekiel raised the lid and the quadriplegic monstrosity inside screamed.
"That is not a witness. That is a paperweight."
Ezekiel frowned as the mob laughed. They quickly hushed.
"Toy. Tell us what you heard."
The Samedi writhed in its bindings. Blackened skin oozed vitae from a keyhole-shaped brand across his face and chest. "Heard it! Heard it! Burning!"
"What did you hear Toy?"
"Pretty pretty hurts the nasty stuck up bitch."
There were chuckles in the assembly at Mercy's unofficial title.
"How did you hear this Toy?"
"Heard it! Heard it in the box. Burning! Burning!" It repeated "burning" several more times while screaming.
The Samedi became silent.
"What exactly did you hear?"
"I sold my soul to destroy you." Toy recreated Helena's inflection precisely.
The crowd shrieked with rage.
"Death to the infernalist!"
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" one of the Malks chimed in from the back.
"Hunt her down"
"Boil her in oil!"
Ezekiel waved his hands to calm the crowd. The screams dimmed to snarling.
"You are either an infernalist sympathizer, or you are incompetent, Benezri. Which one is it?"
The archbishop snarled. "That sounded like an accusation. The false accuser shall suffer the punishment of the accused, Ezekiel. The inquisition does not take kindly to lies for personal gain. Are you accusing me Ezekiel? Yes or no?"
Ezekiel's fists clenched and a hush ran through the crowd. Benezri had been accused before. The inquisition had given him ad mutelam, incontrovertible declaration of his innocence. In Mercy's absence, questions about Benezri's infernalism would require a new inquisitor, most likely far worse than the last. No one wanted that.
"All Sabbat shall serve their leaders!" Benezri shouted into the silence, capitalizing on the failure of Ezekiel's momentum.
"All Hail the Sabbat!" The crowd yelled the ritual response.
"Only as long as said leaders serve the will of the Regent and the Sabbat!" Ezekiel shouted back. "You are unfit Benezri! I challenge you for the leadership of this city."
The mob howled.
"Trial by combat!"
"Fight! Fight! Fight!"
Flexing his fingers, the archbishop smiled.
To: Mr. M
The demon raised an eyebrow at the deformed little vampire sitting on top of the over sized package. "How did this get here?"
"It was delivered via FedEx, my lord." Midget answered.
"Interesting. Open it."
The tiny vampire made quick work of the packaging, revealing a large wooden chest. The lid creaked on its hinges.
"Oh Helena," Metathiax chuckled, "You shouldn't have."
Inside was the torporized body of Mercy, Knight Inquisitor. Stuck to her lifeless forehead was a shiny red bow. A letter was wedged in her bound hands.
"Read it." Metathiax pointed.
The undead circus freak unfolded the paper and read out loud in an almost childish voice: "Sorry I won't be by later. I got what I wanted myself. Please accept this gift as a token of my continued friendship."
Metathiax frowned. "Really Helena, you shouldn't have."
He reached down and twisted a lock of Mercy's hair in his fingertips.
"I do not like being teased."
fiction by Daria Patrie