March 8 at 10:00 PM
Photo courtesy of Fernando Weberich
White and crimson petals danced in the wind as the hunter ambled through the courtyard. Loose roses tumbled by, inviting him to step around or crush the virgin bulbs.
Olivia's mark still fresh, he circled the stables, noting the sweet scent of olives. He stepped inside, noticing a woman in a silk dress stroking Taurus' mane with her glove. The lady turned, her ivory hair falling out of her white tricorn hat. "Good afternoon, Lawson," she said.
The hunter gasped. "Enura."
"I am pleased you found your way to me." Her pale eyes pierced him.
"My lady." He bowed slightly. "I was not expecting you here."
She continued petting the horse. "Brief is my sojourn; let us indulge while there is still light."
"First, I must locate a suitable steed."
"This one will do." Enura turned the horse's face to its master.
"I am afraid he is old and cantankerous, much like his old man." Lawson stepped forward, and scratched Taurus behind the ears. "I would not want him to do anything foolish." He showed off the horse's fangs.
"A Vanklass. It has been years since I have seen one of these." Enura's own fangs flashed for an instant. "Do you love him?" She stripped off a glove.
"As much as a man can love a beast." Lawson's heart raced.
"Good." Enura traced her bare hand over the horse's coat. "In love, there is safety."
Taurus did not flinch, nor fall to the ground. He cuddled closer, and neighed gently.
"How is it that he is unscathed while others fall?"
"We have much to learn about each other." Enura slid on her glove. "Shall we?"
Lawson and Enura walked side by side atop ash and caramel steeds.
"He is perfection. You must tell me where you found him." The witch eyed Taurus.
"A few years back, vampires wiped out a village near Mayenne. Fearing infection, the locals slaughtered the remaining livestock. I was in need of a horse that day, and managed to have Taurus spared, not realizing what he was. When I discovered his secret, I was confounded."
As they strolled through the courtyard, servants caught sight of them, dropping baskets and buckets of milk as they gaped.
"Are you a student of history, Lawson?" Enura peeked from under her flowered cap. "Perhaps you would like to know more about your steed?"
"Depends what it will cost me," Lawson quipped.
"Indeed," she smiled. "The vampire armies of the north spent centuries perfecting the Vanklass. At first, they tried turning the horses, but only the most corruptible creatures can be transformed into vampires. They experimented with Arabians, Palominos, and even Caspians, until they crafted a breed receptive to their bite. Strength and endurance were inferred, as well as the thirst, which I am sure you are aware."
Enura stopped by the fountain, and stared.
"What is it, my lady?" He turned.
"Is it not obvious, Lawson? You are sitting atop my horse."