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Chapter One
Chapter One
     A few days after our melding (I can't think of what else to call it.) it occurred to me to ask Jean-Claude about Emily the old woman who had helped us after we had spread the ardeur across the city. I had to know how she had known how to help us. As we relaxed in my living room I turned to Jean-Claude and asked. “How do you know Emily?”

     He turned and smiled. “I wondered how long it would take you to ask. Emily is a very old friend and to explain how she understood our difficulties I have to tell you a story.”


     “When Juliana, Asher and I traveled together I would often take side trips to give them time alone.” He began getting a faraway look in his eyes. “We had traveled to London and I had decided to visit an acquaintance at Black heath. While I was crossing the moor highwaymen waylaid me. Now normally this would not have been a problem however there were too many for me to control and I was forced to flee after being shot twice.”

     I interrupted. “Why was that a problem? I have seen you take bullets, lead bullets, and barely flinch.”

     “Ma petite I am flattered that you believe me invulnerable, but I was a much younger vampire at the time and had not yet come into my full power.” He answered.

     “To continue, the moors were much wilder and much larger than they are now. I had not mastered flight and the dawn was near with no shelter at hand. I had almost given up hope when I heard a voice call out to me. I turned to find the source of the voice I had heard and spotted an old woman beckoning to me from a burrow dug in to the side of a small hill. I hurried to reach her as my bloodlust overwhelmed me and I drained the woman to the point of collapse and then collapsed myself in the burrow as the sun rose and forced me to sleep.”

     “I rose with the sunset expecting to have to deal with a corpse or an almost dead human and was very surprised to find that she was on her feet and moving around as if I had not laid a finger on her.”

     “The old woman spoke, `I see you are awake and wondering why I am alive.'”

     I replied. “To be sure I am puzzled as why I am not being staked or turned over to the church?” I questioned. I could now sense what I had not noticed the night before. Awesome power more than I had ever felt from any living being. And just as quickly I noticed it, it was gone like it never existed. I was truly frightened more than I have ever been before or since. I had only heard rumors or whispers about beings such as she were usually Sidhe or related.     

     She must have sensed my alarm or seen it on my face (I was less able to control my expression then). “Don't worry I have no intention of turning you over to the church or exacting any type of revenge on you. In fact I may thank you.”

     “Thank me? Why?” I questioned even more confused than ever.

     She sat back on her roughly made chair and stated flatly. “I'm cursed, I cannot die until I have repaid threefold all the evil, pain and suffering I caused. I ruled much of northern England long before it was ever called that. I was a very powerful mage and I stole the lives and youth of my people to extend my own. I made the mistake of doing the same to a child of the Sidhe I had captured. The Sidhe were still worshipped as gods then and I angered the lot of them. They cursed me to live, unable to use my magic for my own ends only to help others until I have return joy for pain, life for death for every single soul I harmed times three. Then and only then may I die.

     “Why would this be a bad thing?” I questioned. “You can walk in the sun and have no council to answer to.”

     “As you see, I am old and with that comes all the pain of old age. All of the youth I had stolen was torn away from me I have been tortured and burned by the church and felt every bit of it. I have had my eyes plucked out, my skin flayed from my back countless times and I cannot die. I have gone through the agony of death hundreds of times and still I live more decrepit every day. I have no friends, no family I can gather no wealth and am unable to live in any comfort due to the curse.”

     “Surely you should have satisfied the terms of the curse if you have lived as long as you say you have?” I asked.

     “Ah, but it is not that easy. The Sidhe wanted me to suffer a long, long time. Those needing help must come to me and their problems must be something that they truly cannot do themselves and must not harm anyone else. To top it off I am perceived as evil and so the good rarely seek me out. You are the first I have been able to help in almost a hundred years.” She finished in a slightly bitter tone.

     A thought occurred to me and I queried her, “You may not seek out those in need of help, but can they be sent to you?”

     Emily answered after a moment's thought. “I do not believe that that would violate the terms of the curse. Why?”

     “I dislike being in debt to anyone and I occasionally run across those who could use your help.” I returned.

     “Haven't you listened to me?” she stated harshly, coming to her feet. “There is no debt.”

     “I feel that I owe you and I have many sins of my own to atone for and I wish to do this. I will send them to you whether you like it or not.” I said carelessly making my way to entrance to her crude home.

     “I left and sent people to her and perhaps fifty years passed before she accepted that I would help her whether she wished it or not. I eventually convinced her to move to America and I have occasionally sent others to her as I can I also have let certain people know of her and send their own people to be helped by her. In fact during the slave days she helped hundreds escape, despite being hung and burned out dozens of times.” He finished.

     “So what you are telling me is that she is older than most of the council?” I questioned.

     “Now that Mr. Oliver is dead she is the oldest living creature on earth, excepting a few Sidhe perhaps.” Jean-Claude continued, “in fact the council fears her they took her captive once long, long before I met her and a new vampire asked for her aid in escaping and she decimated their ranks. They know that she cannot harm them unless someone asks her for help, so they leave her strictly alone and keep their distance.”

     “So why haven't you told me about her before this?” I asked, a little suspicious of his motives.

     “Ma petite we have not had a situation where we were unable to help ourselves. What we needed help with was something only an immensely powerful human mage or a member of the Sidhe royalty could manage. And there hasn't been a human mage born in a thousand years and the Sidhe would as soon kill us as look at us.”

     “Do you think she would be willing to help us understand further these bonds between us all?” I asked.

     “I really don't know. We can certainly ask however, it may be that she is unable to help us.” Jean-Claude replied, a rare look of uncertainty passing over his usually impassive face.

To be continued

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