December 12 at 12:00 AM
Photo by HG
Lord Vangley intended to spend the entire evening waiting for Enura's skull to be unearthed, even if it meant camping out in the church across the way. Few remained from the evening's festivities, sifting through the ash with shovels and bare hands. A brief downpour ensued, washing the powdery dust into muddy pools.
"Still nothing?" he said to a couple slogging through the soupy paste for a second time.
They shook their heads and continued wading through the splintery debris.
Vissorouy would have to wait a while longer for its solace.
The elder crept over the foundation of the town's oldest structure, one of the few relics that outdated him. At times The Black Swan Inn doubled as the town hall and seaside shelter for ships passing through. At one point it had served as a prison, albeit during far more primitive times. From the moment he cast flames upon it, he knew that they would rebuild it larger and stronger, like Vissorouy.
"We are better because of this," he said aloud, as if he needed convincing.
As for Enura, Vangley did not need verification that she had perished. No creature could bathe herself in the flames as she did, and simply walk away. Confirmation was forthcoming, though he doubted the town would rest easier with her head in hand.
"What is taking so long?" he uttered. He skulked the docks, there and back again, and then circled Ether's Landing. Still no sign; they were going to check a third time. He paced in ever-expanding circles, until finally he exited the town altogether.
Down a sinuous path he snaked, the forest on one side and the sea on the other. Surely the town would find something to argue about. Already he could hear their angry voices echoing through his mind. "The blood of Elexia Hunt is on your hands," they said. "She would be with us if you had acted sooner." But if he had pursued the course they were seeking, many more would have been slaughtered; triggering a firestorm far greater than what engulfed The Black Swan.
The well-worn trail reminded him of darker days, not long ago. Those of murder and self-indulgence that illuminated a new perspective on life. The bloody haze of the past was about the harvest and the feast. It only seemed fitting that the savage Vangleys of yesterday mixed blood into their vintage.
After a few more steps he strayed from the winding path, and ambled through the abandoned fields now swallowed up by the forest. His vision was exceptional, especially at this time of night, and could just make out the outline of his old quarters in the distance. For all its cruel yields, he was surprised it still stood.
Deeper into the forest he prowled, until he came upon a statue sunken into the earth. The stone sculpture of two lions poked out, each trying to devour the other; a symbol of the Vangley's cruel past.
He chuckled as he ran his hand over one of its manes. "Primitive times, indeed."
Abruptly the lion snapped at him. The old vampire fell backwards, unsure what had just happened. The two statues yanked themselves free and leapt forward, stalking their prey. They loomed over him, and then abruptly retreated into the forest, sensing something they did not like.
As Lord Vangley got to his feet, a light flickered ahead. "Impossible," he said, and took a step.