The Children of Arnborg: the Prophecy
by Rene Barry
part 2 of 2
Karen Woolsey jabbed at Counselor’s Raines’ brow. “Hey! Hey! Come on, wake up!”
Raines groaned and rolled over. “God!” he grunted in pain. “Wh... where am I?” His vision blurred. His head ached.
Woolsey slammed down a can of beer next to him. “Hey, feel special. You’ve got the Undead after you. Not a lot of people can say that.” She laughed. “Jesus! You look pathetic. You never stood a chance.”
“Hey, lady, what’s your problem!” Raines groaned. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Saving your life. You’re welcome, by the way.” She lit up a cigarette, looking at Raines with absolute and unmasked pity.
“Look Woolsey, I don’t know what’s your game, but...’ He looked around. “Where am I!” he asked incredulously.
“Warehouse, Seaport. We’re safe here for the time being, not that they couldn’t sniff us out if they wanted to. Frankly, you’re the only reason I’m not going to them. Listen counselor, I know this is weird, but I need you to trust me.”
“Weird? Weird! You friggin’ kidnapped me! What the hell did you put in my neck any...” Raines suddenly fell silent. He seemed to drift off somewhere.
“Hey, you all right?’ Woolsey asked, holding him as he blacked out momentarily.
“You felt that?” Raines murmured, looking disoriented, his eyes coming and going from reality as if in a strange euphoria.
“I have to go,” Raines whispered drowsily. “I have to go... I gotta go...” He got up half-struggling against Woolsey’s powerful hold. “I have to go...”
“Hey! Hey! We’re not going anywhere!”
“No, dammit! Don’t you understand? I have to go!” He pushed against the hunter, but he was still too weak to fight.
Woolsey knocked him back with a swift punch, realizing moments later that she had knocked him unconscious. “Well, counselor... nobody said I’d get the thanks I deserve for this job.”
She sat back, checking the holsters around her waist and shoulders out of habit. “You just sit tight.” She searched the floor for her cigarette, picked it up and drew on it. “And you’re still welcome.”
* * *
Joshua knelt over some heaped earth in the side garden of Raines’ house.
“Diana, Goddess of the Moon,” he had been chanting for several minutes, “Aid me. Show me what I need to know.”
Rebecca had watched him bury the photo of Raines in the earth. Now, he seemed to be losing himself in a trance.
“Joshua?” Rebecca called to him, growing anxious. She did not know if he had heard her. She peered around the neighborhood, feeling a growing — no, a mounting — confusion slowly growing into an insurmountable morass of chaotic images and feelings.
A few hours before she had been perfectly human. Now she was standing in a strange neighborhood in the dead of night with a being she probably should have never let into her life, and now, right before her eyes, the story was getting weirder. Her memory flashed back to the church, the man slung over Joshua’s shoulder, the moments before that image that she could not clearly recall.
She shivered, but it was not from the chill of the night. In this new alien body she was not even sure she felt the cold. It was from the fact that she would not awaken in her own bed in the morning. She would not walk into her bathroom for a quick shower, or wander sleepily into her kitchen to prepare herself breakfast. It was the cold fact, the hard truth, that she had made an irreversible mistake. In a world full of life and simple wonders that had danced around her, she had chosen death. And now, she was living death, and there was no going back...
Joshua’s chanting reverberated in the background, rippled toward her and pulled her back to the present.
“Diana, Goddess of the Moon,” he continued fervently, holding the athame to the sky, “aid me. Show me what I need to know!” Suddenly he stopped and plunged the blade into the earth, carving up the little grave as though he were possessed. Minutes later he revived and read what he had written. “Thank you, My Lady.” He smiled.
He turned to Rebecca who looked as though she did not know what to make of him. “Time to go.” He rose up.
“Where?” she asked innocently, nervously.
“To the harbor, my dear. Warehouse. Seaport!”
* * *
“Karen Woolsey is Arnborg’s descendent, isn’t she?” Stuart asked, though Emma did not reply. “Rebecca is Frouuina’s, and Tom... Thomas is Wolgast’s.” He stared out the window, his eyes filled with wonder. “God!’ he chuckled. “This is... this is incredible! I mean...” he shook his head in fascination.
“You’ve listened well,” Emma conceded.
“But then, where do I come in? Why am I here? And Matthew, what do you guys want with him?”
“How do you know we are after your counselor friend?”
Stuart stammered for a second. “Tom... he said something about you paying him a visit. We didn’t talk much about it, but Matthew’s name came up. I don’t know; there was just this look in his eyes, like we were all going to hell or something.”
Emma chuckled. “Indeed. I couldn’t put it better myself.” She sighed. “Wolgast’s line didn’t stop with Fridurih, as I told you. No. He had another son, Ascila, who carried on his line.
“During World War II, Ideslef Musolff, the daughter of Siboldus Wolgast, fled Germany — and her husband — with her lover, Guntmar Lohmeier. The two had a baby boy with them, Siboldus Lohmeier. They eventually made their way to America under the name of Grant. The boy of course turned out to be none other than—”
“Thomas Grant,” Stuart concluded.
Emma smiled. “As for Arnborg, she did indeed have children before she was turned, but not her own. They were her sister’s three sons whom she cared for as her own after her sister’s death while giving birth to the third. Woolsey is one of the last few survivors of a lineage long bereft of good fortune and plagued by the worst life has to offer.”
“Meaning?” Stuart frowned.
“Not only did a great number of Woolsey’s predecessors die during World War II, but even dating back to the time of the Black Death. It seems there is a rumor of a curse surrounding her now deceased family. Every couple hundred years or so they reach the edge of extinction. It seems our dear Karen drew the lucky straw. Good for her,” Emma quipped, snidely.
“Ah,” he sat back. “So that explains her parents and siblings and, coming to think of it, every relative of hers I can think of dying by unnatural causes...” he stared accusingly at Emma.
“Pretty much covers it,” Emma deadpanned. She sighed. “Look, Mr. Morrow, the vampires that attacked her family were not ours. The Coven, our coven, had nothing to do with that. These were rogues whose actions eventually made Woolsey a very big problem for us. A problem we’re trying to solve now,” she said cryptically.
“Meaning what?” Stuart eyebrows knitted in confusion. He waited, but Emma refused to answer. “So, where do I come in?” he inquired, exasperated.
She did not answer. Instead, the car turned off the freeway, but Stuart knew for sure now that they were nowhere near Bowdoin. For the next fifteen minutes, despite his protest and inquiries, Emma ignored him, turning onto a dirt road that seemed to go on forever under the starlit blanket of the night sky until a vague pattern of houses emerged in the distance.
A couple minutes later the dirt road gave way to smoother territory, and Emma pulled into a paved driveway. Stuart stiffened as she steered the car neatly into a small parking lot, killed the engine and sat back.
This was definitely not the courthouse. To his left were ornate columns and arches of blue marble forming a clean, wind-swept colonnade that stood quietly in the moonlight. At the end of the colonnade was a pair of blue-varnished doors sporting a large brass knocker, the doors leading to the interior of the house’s magnificent Gothic facade.
“What is this?” Stuart asked anxiously. “Where are we?”
“The courthouse,” Emma replied flippantly. She smiled at his confusion. “Oh no, Mr. Morrow. Not your courthouse. Ours!” Her eyes carried that disturbing flash again.
“Your courthouse?” Stuart’s voice quivered.
“Yes, Mr. Morrow. Our place of judgment for those who should be judged, not by your laws, but by ours.”
Stuart’s heart was racing, and he could feel the tremor in his hand. His eyes frenetically roamed the neighborhood. He was surrounded by modest works of art, everything from the symmetrically tempered luxury of Elizabethan houses to the flamboyancy of Gothic arches, but one thing was for sure: He did not know where he was and the marble porticoes and with their paneled doors whispered to him in cold, unheard voices, Keep away. Do not venture here.
He thought for a second, his mind flipping through one scenario after another: Make a run for it? Don’t panic? Run into the woods! Grab your cell phone! Call for help, dammit! He looked up to see Emma staring at him with an unnerving calmness.
“You need not fear me, Mr. Morrow,” her steely voice informed him, “nor should you fear this place. This is our home,” she said, her fingers sweeping the length and breadth of the neighborhood. “Our own getaway in the midst of the madness of your world. This is all we’ve ever asked for, to be left alone.”
She swallowed hard with a heavy sigh, her brows knitted in irritation. “Unfortunately, as we’ve come to learn, that will always be nearly impossible, wouldn’t it?” she said almost wistfully. She glanced at Stuart who was still nervously perusing the neighborhood. “The foreigner in the strange land,” she whispered measuring him. “Hmm, perhaps now we understand each other.” She reached out for him, but drew back her hand before she could touch him. She sighed and sat back again. “Why don’t we finish the story, Mr. Morrow,” she said attempting to placate him, but when he did not respond she fell silent momentarily.
Finally, she spoke. “I did not bring you here against your will, Mr. Morrow,” she whispered. “I asked you to come. I have never demanded anything of you. I have never threatened you. I would never harm you.” She seemed to be struggling against something inside her.
Stuart bit his tongue, feeling the sweat on his palms. He watched Emma out of the corner of his eye, uninterested in her rambling and still scoping the neighborhood for an escape route.
“I cried when Arnborg perished,” Emma went on. “I cried when Frouuina died. I know now, after all these centuries, that I had no intention of killing Wolgast in that church no matter how much I hated him, not after the way I had grieved him. Have you ever wondered why I... we, The Coven... did not just seek out Karen Woolsey and kill her?”
Stuart watched in amazement as Emma reached her hand across and gently took his. Her skin was cold to the touch, but her eyes held a buried warmth he had never seen before.
“Stuart, I cannot bring myself to kill a child of Arnborg. I cannot bring myself to kill my mother’s child. After all these years, I know now that there are some things I just cannot do.”
Stuart remained in silent shock. He had never heard Emma call him by his first name, and now this intimacy was beyond his imagining. “Emma, what do you want from me?”
She stiffened and drew back, her moment of vulnerability vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. “Thomas is not dead,” she said crisply. “Joshua is looking for Woolsey and your friend as we speak. They will be on their way here. He is under my strict instructions not to harm Woolsey or your friend, to do no more than keep them quiet under a spell.”
“Why is he bringing them here? What are you going to do?”
“I am going to set things right, Mr. Morrow. Finally, after all these years, I’m going to set things right.”
* * *
Matthew Raines came to for the second time. There was a crunching and screeching of iron, and through his blurred vision he saw that Woolsey was busy trying to bar the gate with anything she could find.
“Good! You’re up. Help me!” she yelled.
Raines struggled to his feet. “What’s going on!” he shouted.
The gate of the warehouse flew up, pitching Woolsey back onto the floor. She crashed next to Raines.
“Good question,” Joshua announced, flying into Woolsey’s face with amazing speed.
Woolsey sprang to her feet in a split second and kicked Joshua back into a pile of storage containers that came crashing down on him. She saw Raines hovering near her. “Get back!” she yelled at him. She spun around to see Rebecca advancing on her and knocked the vampire back with a punch to the jaw, lashing her in the temples with her gun.
As Rebecca staggered, Woolsey spun round and kicked her in the stomach, sending the fledgling crashing into the concrete floor, her 9-mm firing shot after shot at lighting speed at the already bleeding vampire.
Rebecca yelled out in pain and Woolsey saw that at least two of her bullets had landed in Rebecca’s shoulder.
Joshua climbed to his feet. “Damn, this bitch is good!” he muttered. “Sorry, darling,” he said, turning to Woolsey. “Usually, I’d bite you. Hell! I’d kill you, but my sister says no, so—”
Woolsey pulled another gun on him with her free hand and fired several shots in his direction, but he readily dodged them with his preternatural speed.
“Goddammit, woman! How many of those do you have!” Joshua exclaimed.
“Enough silver in here to put you down,” Woolsey answered, scoping out the room. “I’m not going to let you hurt this man!”
Joshua got to his feet for the second time in mere minutes, holding out his arms to show he meant no harm. He measured Woolsey who was guarding a cowering and terrified Raines, each of her guns trained on the two vampires. “Good. Then, we’re on the same page. By the way, these may be the last words you ever hear. So, I just wanted you to know, you’re a real turn-on,” he grinned.
She pulled the trigger. The gun fired. The bullet hit one of the storage containers. She turned around. The place was empty save for her and Raines. The wounded Rebecca was gone, her blood trailing the floor where she had been lying.
“What the hell just happened!” Raines screamed. “Who the hell was that? Where’d they go?”
“Shhh!” Woolsey silenced him. She listened. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Raines trembled.
“That. Someone whispering. Do you here it?”
Raines shook his head, “No...”
All went black for the both of them. They staggered, swooned and hit the floor of the warehouse in the next instant.
Joshua emerged. “You know, this is the first bitch that ever made me hide to do a spell,” he lamented. “Are you okay?” he asked Rebecca, inspecting the wounds in her shoulder.
“Yeah. You?” she grimaced, obviously weakened and in pain.
“Apart from my bruised ego...” he nodded. “Take Raines. I’ll take Woolsey.” He looked at Rebecca’s wounds. “I’ll see to that in the car,” he assured her. He reached for Woolsey’s body but hesitated for a minute, checking her over. Moments later he threw her over his shoulder and smiled at Rebecca, visibly embarrassed. “Just to be on the safe side. As I said, the bitch is good.”
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by Rene Barry