Chapter One Hundred and Thirty Six
The walls of the room seemed to dissolve and re-form into the walls of a castle. Flickering candle light illuminated a stone walled room, the hard stone softened by tapestries and huge swaths of thick velvet draperies hung over the small casement windows.
A blond woman turned and said something to someone outside her sphere of magical ectoplasmic reconstruction, then another smaller woman, dressed in a plain dress entered the scene and began helping the blond woman remove her robe.
The blond looked slightly like a Stackhouse. Same hair color, same blue eyes, same curvy figure. I could believe we were of the same bloodline somewhere way back. Her hair was much wavier than Linda's and mine, though that could have been the way she styled it.
I thought her eyes were more almond shaped and slanted and her brows were definitely different, higher and more arched. She did not have our lips at all. Her lips were full, ours were much thinner. Her chin was more pointed too, giving her a less friendly kind of face, in my opinion.
Her expression didn't help either. Her eyes glittered coldly, the corners of her mouth drawn down in chronic dissatisfaction. From being a waitress for years I had gotten good at reading faces. If she had been a customer I would have pegged her as hard to please, demanding and short tempered. I would have hoped she went to someone else's section. When she turned completely towards us, her invisible audience, I almost gasped.
The blond was the woman from the painting in Jure's castle. It was like seeing the ancient painting come to life. This must be Celandine, I thought. I glanced at Linda, She was mesmerized by this window into the past, a vision that seemed almost real, though I knew that if you tried to touch it your hand would pass right through the images, like a hologram.
The smaller plain woman, a maid, servant or slave, helped Celandine into a blue and silver brocade gown, struggling to fasten the many laces and buttons that closed the back. I bet they would have paid big bucks for a zipper. The dress, once finally fastened, was so tight through the bodice it pushed up Celandine's bosom almost to her chin.
They struggled with it, laughing and tugging it down, until her figure settled in to the normal place it should be. The huge skirt, held out by a wire frame, made her narrow waist look even smaller. She had an exaggerated hourglass figure in exchange for a dress a human woman wouldn't even be able to breath in.
Next came strand after strand of pearls and gems. The placement of each strand was adjusted before the next was added. They lay on her snow white bosom like gifts being offered to the eyes of her admirerers. Earrings and bracelets, rings and more rings. Then her hair was carefully arranged by the skillful maid into an elaborate style, held in place with more jeweled combs. A small pointed hat with a gauzy veil was offered but waved away.
The maid held up a large rounded piece of highly polished metal like a mirror and Celandine looked at herself approvingly. She applied some colored lip balm from a small glass pot, using her index finger.
Then she did what I have so often done since Turning, she opened her mouth and popped out her fangs to admire, and maybe to see if she had lip color smeared on them. The startled maid jumped back dropping the pot. From the way the color drained from the maid's face I knew she was human. Human, and frightened of Jure's Vampire Bride
Celandine instantaneously became enraged, pointing down at the floor, which we couldn't see. The maid began weeping and pleading, bending down to pick up the pot of lipstick. Celandine grabbed her by her hair, lifted her up in the air, and bent her back. She savagely bit the maid's throat, causing terrible damage, and drained her.
She threw down the lifeless woman with a snarl of contempt. She wiped her bloody mouth with the back of her hand, smearing blood over her sleeve and bracelets. Then she looked down with utter coldness and indifference at what she had just done.
Linda had her hand up over her mouth, perhaps to keep from crying out and breaking the spell. She had never seen a Vampire do something so savage and it shocked her to the core. I wished I could have protected her from this sight, from this knowledge. It was one thing to know that something could happen, it was another to actually see it happening in front of your eyes. This was a side to Vampires she would now have forever etched in her memory.
Celandine pulled a tasseled rope near a roaring fireplace and a manservant appeared. It was Ogneslav, the same servant that watched over the castle now. That meant that this was Jure's castle. He had lied when he said had never lived in the castle. If his wife was there, if his manservant was there, then Jure must be there too.
Ogneslav limped over to the dead maid and hoisted her up, cradling her like a child, her head hanging back revealing her torn throat. He carried her out of the room. Meanwhile Celandine wiped her face clean with a lace edged hanky and repaired her lip color with another pot from the many on her dresser.
She looked up suddenly, smiling in a welcoming way and saying something. The circle of magic grew bigger showing more of the room. That meant someone else included in the ectoplasmic reconstruction was entering the scene.
So fast I could hardly, follow even with my vampire vision, Jure entered the room in three big strides and grabbed the bloodstained Celandine. They struggled, his back to us. Her face showed first anger then fear, then went blank and limp. Smoke began rising from her and right before she combusted I saw the stake in her chest. Then Jure let her drop and moved back as Celandine ignited in one white hot second to her final death.
The draperies were on fire. While my eyes had been fixed on the flames Jure had exited. A moment later Ogneslav and several other men arrived with wooden buckets of water. They doused the flames and left, returning with more buckets and dousing the curtains again. Jure had not returned with them. The fire extinguished, the bucket brigade went out, leaving the room with the tatters of charred fabric hanging from the window and a haze of smoke hanging in the air.
Linda continued to stare at the room. A slight breeze moved the draperies. Moonlight glinted in from an angle. A log in the large fireplace shifted and fell off the back of the huge andiron to the bottom of the fireplace causing sparks to fly up the chimney. That was all. Nothing more happened.
Still Linda waited as if it might all somehow reverse and come out differently until Amelia said gently to her chanting witches, "We can conclude our spell, we can release the past now." She lifted her wand and waved it in a counterclockwise direction.
The chanting changed, slowed, dwindled and ended. The past slowly dissolved and we were returned to parlor. Linda turned to me and said, "He killed her! He killed his first wife!" Her eyes were brimming with tears and horror.
Then she ran from the room crying. I heard her enter the ground floor bathroom and shut the door. I heard her crying her eyes out. I think I might have even heard her heart break.
Poor poor Linda, now she knew the truth. Would it have been better to just let it alone? Amelia caught me gaze and the compassion in her eyes brought a lump to my throat.
The rest of the witches filed out of the room to give us a moment to ourselves. They were probably hungry and thirsty too because of the enormous expenditure of energy it took to do a reconstruction. Their job was over. Mine, as Linda's mother, was just beginning.
more to come ..... (Howdy Fanpires! Hope this weekend brings you all kinds of good things! Thank you for taking the time to share it with me. See you next Saturday. )