Monday, March 30, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Timely Intervention

Chapter 7: In Which Rival Factions Emerge and Converge

Marie LaVeau had followed Chip Hyland in spite of his not wanting “somebody’s grandma” to come with him into the swamp. She didn’t have trouble with the boat like he did, like he wouldn’t have had if she’d been with him. She had reached the small island in the bayou shortly after he did, and watched in admiration as he dispatched Marion. Marcus bowed out in true style, and Hyland had matters in hand, until the female, whom Marie had not seen before, attacked.

Marie reacted without thinking. The geas she threw around Hyland made the vampire fly back in terror, and sent magical emanations rippling back to Marie. Marie had remembered the way the woman had felt when she had seen her before. It was Pauline Raintree.

The woman hissed at Hyland and flew away. “Don’t let her go!” Marie yelled at Hyland. “That’s Aunt Polly!”

Chip was suitably distracted by his unexpected visitor, and Polly flew off into the bog. Marie came out of the shade, looking less ominous then she had when she was casting the spell. Chip blinked. Blue sparks coming off the old woman’s skin he credited to fatigue on his part. “Where’d you come from?”

“Out there.” Marie flung a thumb back in the direction of the swamp. “I told you I would be help to you.”

“You were. I don’t figure I was up to another monster today.” He looked up at the hug house. “Reckon they have Aunt Polly in there?”

“That was Aunt Polly.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I know these things.” Marie looked at the house, longing to be home. “We should leave. There’s nothing for us here.”

“Just the same,” Hyland said, “we should take a look inside.”

Suddenly Marie’s disguise fell away, surprising both Marie and Hyland. “She knows I’m here,” Marie whispered. “Come Chip, we must leave immediately.”

“What is going on here?” Hyland was perplexed.

“I’ll tell you on the way home,” said Marie, pulling on his arm.

“No one is leaving,” said Shalimar, suddenly in front of them, cool and composed even in the swamp. Chip rolled his eyes. Yet another creature of the undead to combat with.

Marie stepped away from Chip. “Your quarrel is with me, Shalimar. Leave this man alone.”

“No. He attacked my people. Marion is even now still face down in the mud. I’d be worried if he wasn’t dead already. Now, what kind of a leader would I be if I let this gentleman get away with beating up my minions?”

“You’ll have to get through my magic before you can touch him,” Marie said.

“That I’ve already done, Madame Legendre. Haven’t you noticed? You are no longer voodoo queen around here. That honor belongs to me.” Shalimar raised her hands above her head. “Prepare to meet your maker. Nothing personal,” she addressed Hyland, “but one does what one must.”

Marie’s lungs were suddenly crushed. None of her magic had worked to repel the attack. She saw Hyland gasping for air, struggling to step forward and apprehend the sorceress in front of them. He staggered, then fell to the ground. Marie felt that after all her careful preparations to gather the right tools to combat Shalimar, she had failed miserably in her first attempt at confronting her nemesis.

The light flashed from nowhere, and the voice that accompanied it rumbled the very earth. Shalimar fell gracelessly to the ground. Marie’s vision was interrupted by tiny spots, so that she couldn’t see what had happened clearly. Suddenly the pressure on her chest was gone and her strangled lungs gasped for air that burned her insides as she gulped it down. Then she felt Hyland’s strong hands scoop her up, and they were running.

“I don’t know what that was,” he said breathlessly, “but it sure knocked her for a loop.”

“I have a boat not far from here,” Marie said, trying to ignore the burning in her chest. “We both need a doctor, I think. Find Dr. Doyle. I know his hotel.”

She had just enough strength to say that before she faded into blackness.

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