Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water: God's Messenger

Marie settled back into her chair and began. “I have lived for a very long time. I was here I New Orleans when this city was founded, believe it or not. I care a great deal for what happens in this city. Over the years I have spent here, I have made several acquaintances, good and bad. The same holds true for the rest of my life. One of my enemies has followed from place to place. Fifty years ago, I drove her out of the city, and she feels she must be avenged.”

Forte rubbed his chin. “If you've been around as long as you say you have, you hold your age pretty well. How do you do it? Lots of rouge?”


Father Stewart fidgeted in his chair, and Marie scolded him.

“Stop squirming, Andrew. I'm giving him the shortened version.” She re-focused on Forte. “The woman's name is Shalimar. Unlike myself, the only way she can keep her long life is to drink the blood of others. She associates with other blood drinkers.”

“So she's a vampire?”

“In purpose, yes. But she only needs one body every year. Most of her associates are the more common type of vampire. She has favorites to whom she has given her own blood. They are like her. They can stand the daylight. It's because they're closer to the source of the spell.”

“The spell?”

“Shalimar's long life comes from a blood sacrifice and a magical incantation. The spell for someone to bathe in the blood of fourteen virgins.”

“Sounds risque.”

Father Stewart kicked Forte for the comment.

Marie continued. “The caster recites the spell, and then has eternal life. Shalimar wanted to test the spell first, to make sure no harm would come to her.”

“That's where Marie came in,” commented Father Stewart. “She was the test sacrifice for Shalimar.”

Marie nodded. “I received the full effect of the spell, and she received partial effect. That's why she must have the blood of one human per year, to stay immortal. Of course, Shalimar seems to enjoy killing and its arts, so usually she drains as many victims as she thinks she can get away with.”

“Sounds serious.” Forte was leaning forward, listening intently.

“Only if you consider the city of New Orleans becoming a colony of vampires serious.”

“Hey! The army could stop that. All we do is stake the vampiric vermin in their coffins during the day.”

Father Stewart interrupted. “No, Forte. Remember, some of these vampires are day creatures. Shalimar certainly is. We are up against some very powerful undead.”

Forte thought for a moment. “Fine. I'm in. I think I can tinker with the ole blast 'em gun so it at least dents blood suckers. Who else is gonna help us do this?”

Marie LaVeau numbered the vampire hunters on her fingers as she listed them. “You, me the father, a consulting detective, his assistant, dear Aunt Polly, and hopefully Professor Broadstead. That makes seven.”

“Broadstead? Not that idiot!”

“Well,” Father Stewart said to Forte, “he's already shown he's effective in a fight.”

Forte frowned.

“Besides,” Father Stewart added, “I paid his way out of jail. He owes us a favor.”

Forte scowled and Father Stewart puffed on his pipe.


Father Stewart had managed to calm Forte down by suggesting that it was not yet definite that Broadstead would be working with them. This seemed to placate Forte. Marie LaVeau stepped back into the night, explaining to Father Stewart that she had other errands to run, and Andrew, after telling her to be careful, reluctantly let her go. Forte was shown the bedroom and was soon snoring off the late night.

The father went to chapel. When Marie had found him a place to stay, she had considered his needs, and a church was close by. In the evening gloom, Christ shined on his crucifix. Father Stewart lit one candle, knelt in front of it, crossed himself, and recited a Pater Noster. Then he began his personal request.

“Lord, I realize that you and I have been many places together that I would be afraid to go alone. This place where we go next frightens me more than any other. I know what you think of Marie, so I am not worried that you'll disapprove of my helping her. And I know that you'll give me enough power to see this affair through. But I worry because our opponents are so powerful. I am uncertain of the best path to take. I could use an idea or two.”

The doors to the church blew open in a dramatic windstorm. There had been no wind that night. The gust billowed the opera cape of the silver-haired gentleman that filled the archway. The man was immaculate in his theater clothes, his shirt and collar a pristine white. A top hat finished the stylish ensemble. He removed it and his hair was silver in the moonlight.

“Who are you?” Father Stewart gasped.

“I am your Lord's sign. Will you invite me in?”

“Yes,” the priest stammered.

The man entered, his cap swirling, as much the darkness as surrounded by the darkness. “We shall talk,” he said, looming over the father, “you and I.”

Father Stewart's scream rang out into the night, making Forte sit bolt upright, thinking the undead had come for him. But although Forte strained his ears to listen, he heard no more than the calm night, so he chalked it up to nerves and went back to sleep.

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