John held her hand as they stumbled up the dark, tree-lined hill. He couldn’t help but laugh. “I guess I should have grabbed my flashlight out of the trunk. I just wasn’t expecting it to be quite this dark.”
She squeezed his hand. “It’s fine. It makes this so much more romantic.”
“Until one of us trips over a rogue tree root and cracks a hip.”
“Hm. That is possible, given our usual round of date luck. We haven’t had disaster hit yet. So…”
They reached the top of the hill.
Clarice exhaled a soft, “Oh.”
The hill overlooked a calm lake. The stars shined bright and reflected in the water.
John sat and patted the ground next to him. “Have a seat.”
She sat beside him. “Is this a place you used to go with her?”
He shook his head. “I never got a chance. By the time I found it, she was…” He swallowed hard. “…declining.”
She hugged his arm and leaned her head against it.
A group of immature dragons swooped down towards the water in reckless acrobatics. A couple of shy wood nymphs crept out of the trees and crouched near the lake’s edge to lap up water. They quickly skittered away as the dragons air-tumbled towards them.
“I’m glad I’m here with you.” John said.
“So am I.”
Antioch jolted back to reality with Raven’s laughter still ringing in his ears. He bared his fangs at LM and growled, “Again.”
LM frowned. “Sir. I don’t think—”
Antioch roared at him. “I SAID, AGAIN!”
“Sir! I’m concerned about—”
Antioch scrambled out of the bed. “Darn you, you rotten half—-Ahh!” A sudden headache gripped him. He pressed his hands against the sides of his head. The headache worsened and threw him off balance.
LM pushed him down on the bed. “I told you. I told you so.”
Antioch groaned. “Again. Try again, darn you!”
“Again! AGAIN! I will defeat him this time. I will. You’ll see. I’ll break my lord’s hold on me. I’ll break it. I’ll smash it. I’ll demolish—-”
LM whispered into his hands and pushed his magic at the vampire.
Antioch fell asleep.
I warned him.
What will happen next time we try?
He sat on the bed and looked down at his hands.
What if I try again and it breaks him?
Capernaum, my dear friend. I wish you were here. You’d talk sense into him.
I miss you.
I miss you, my dear and only true friend.
LM raised his head.
What if I leave him? I have no scent. He can’t track me. I could leave town. I no longer have any ties keeping me here. No friends. No family.
Is that what Capernaum would want me to do? Would that honor his memory?
If I keep going on with this, I will destroy Antioch. I know it. Would Capernaum really want me to do that?
What am I supposed to do?
LM closed his eyes and he saw lines.
So many lines.
He opened his eyes again.
It makes sense.
LM stood and pushed aside the lace and silk bed curtains.
I need to leave him.
It is the right thing to do.
It makes sense.
Staying here does not make any sense at all.
He looked down at Antioch. “I am sorry, but I must go. It’s for your own good, but I am sorry. Strange, isn’t it? I’m not sure if it makes sense.” He laid his hands above the vampire’s heart. “Good-bye, Antioch Friend Of My Friend Capernaum. I bid thee well in all things.”
LM backed away from him, turned, and left the room.