It has often been said that I am slow on the uptake, particularly when it comes to women. In respect of the latter, it particularly applies when failing to notice that somebody has developed feelings towards me. I must be learning, however, since I seem to have not failed in regard of Gwyn. However, on other matters, I seem to be falling short, even when it is something I should have been looking out for. Like, for example, when a friend is being possessed by another. I managed to work it out with Valene and the Crow, but totally failed this evening with Sophia. Maybe, in the latter case, the possessor is better at not totally changing the behaviour of the possessed.
I was trying to make sense of Paash’s accounting records when she came into the tavern. She greeted me cordially enough, asking how I was etc, and then asked for some red wine, being somewhat parched after having been exploring. Even when I was a drinker, I wouldn’t have thought red wine the first choice for a thirst and said so while I poured her a large goblet. She told me that it was not her first choice either, but it would suffice. She then told me about an unusual place she had found, with mist, dead trees, blood spatters and the remains of previous visitors.
“Of course, upon seeing such dreadful things,” she said. “I hurried back to the safety of the castle. Caine knows what beasts could have been lurking about there ready to devour me.” I nodded and told her how the fae were annoyed by the fire. I asked where the place was and she described a spot I had seen while flying a few days earlier, a cave mouth with some steps leading up to it at the end of the river. I said I had seen it from a height, while stretching my wings. She didn’t get the reference, so I demonstrated briefly. That seemed to surprise her, though I was sure she had seen me fly before, commenting that I had gotten clever.
“I try not to do it too often,” I explained. “It seems a most undignified means of travel, and since I don’t really know how it works, I’m afraid to do it too much in case it notices I don’t know what I am doing and stops working.” I paused for a moment. “Which could be very embarrassing, not to say painful, should that happen while I was a long way up.” She laughed and commented about pain.
“I am sure you are no stranger to pain. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t been in a pain – physically, spiritually or the worst pain of all, emotionally.” I told her I had had my share, although, aside from breaking a leg as a child and having my hand cut off, I had managed to avoid serious industries. Again, I had surprised her, as I clearly still had two hands. She seemed unaware of vampire healing abilities and asked if it was magic. I showed her the scar and explained how it had come to be cut off and how the faerie queen had healed me. She looked at her own hands, moving her fingers about, then said how it was a pity her mother had not known of this healing power, theorising that perhaps that was what she was trying to do all that time in the secret room, amd wondering if things might have been different if she had been able to play the piano again.
She was momentarily distracted by the appearance of Gwyn in unicorn shape at the door. She asked if she had seen a unicorn, which I was able to confirm, but Gwyn cantered off before I could even say hello. I returned to the theme of healing.
“I wish I could tell you more,” I told her. “But I have not seen Cristof in some days, so I have not had the opportunity to consult his library, if indeed he has one. I don’t know exactly how well we vampires can heal without help. If fire was involved, then maybe it is a lot harder to heal, if at all. I don’t really know for sure, being inexperienced in such matters.” She took another drink and suggested that maybe her mother might have possibly recovered, but she had other things on her mind. Thinking she meant getting revenge on McTaggart, I was reminded of Rachel and warned her about Rachel’s apparent desire to provoke vengeance, so to be wary of such thoughts in her vicinity. She finished her drink and wandered to the courtyard, apparently enjoying the sight and sounds, and possibly even the smells, though I doubted the latter. She told me she had no vengeance to take on anybody, and then complimented my hair, playing with a few strands of it. I explained about Valene stealing my hair-bands and eventually giving up on it. I commented how I was always amazed at the things women could do with their hair, tying it up, making buns, hiding great lengths of it and such like.
“Yes, well, Mother and Lucy taught me well. Whores aren’t accustomed to keeping their hair up, you know? She was a dreadful thing when we found her. It took a while before they thought I could even pass as any sort of lady.” She played with another strand of mine. “It’s habit now, I suppose…” That remark puzzled me, referring to herself in the third person.
“She was a dreadful thing? I think your inner mother is emerging.” I said, commenting on that. I briefly played with a loose lock of her hair, and then put my hand on her shoulder. “As for whores, that may have been what you were, but it is not what you are now. To me, you are a lady, and will remain so.” She thanked me, then said she needed to bathe in the pool, so would be taking her case and wash items down there. Before I could tell her, she said she would be careful. I advised her to mention my name, should she encounter the Raven Captain, in the hope that maybe the protection afforded me might transfer to her.
She never replied to my comment about the reference to herself in the third person. Looking back, I realised that there were a couple of times she had been uncertain about pronouns. I also realised I totally missed the comment about Caine, with her using it in the same way that most people might use God – as in God knows. The only Caine I could think of was from the Bible, but I recalled Cristof calling himself a Cainite. Does the vampire ‘curse’ extend all the way back to the brother-slayer? I would ask Cristof, but I have no idea where he might have gone, and now the castle is gone, I don’t know how to find him. If that is the case, then surely a human, even one who had been a ghoul, would not make such a comment. I fear that some of the time, at least, I was dealing with Tory, and did not realise it at the time. Would that I had. I could have asked her what she wanted with Sophia, or what other business she had.