ONE OF THE OTHER WAYS.
TRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND DAMNED
It was two a.m. before Harry fell asleep in her arms, but the night time was B.J.'s time and she didn't feel the need. She needed, oh yes, but not sleep. And as the time crept inexorably closer to the full of the moon, that need was ever more insistent. But she had long since learned to deny herself, so that Harry was never in any real danger. Especially Harry, who impressed her more and more as the Mysterious One, Radu's 'Man With Two Faces.'
Well, his ways weren't quite so mysterious now. One facet at least had revealed itself to her. And in his way, he had initiated it. Shy to begin with (scarcely a Don Juan!), his prowess had improved with experimentation. And, unlike most men the first time they are with a woman, Harry had felt driven to satisfy her; he'd quickly discovered her preference.
A moon child, with that of the wolf - a great deal of the wolf - in her, B.J. had 'submitted.' And with her breasts flattened to the soft blanket, and her face turned to the red glow of the fire, she'd felt the delicious thrusting, the hammering home of Harry's turgid flesh in the heart of her womanhood. Oh, he had gone without for ... a long time, that much was obvious. But so had she, and could take al that he could give. Yet despite the fact that she sucked on him desperately with her sex, still he had held back until he first felt her shuddering, and heard her moaning, before firing into her his long, hot bursts. And Bonnie Jean Mirlu had never felt so well satisfied. Not in that respect, anyway.
For him, their sex was a jammed floodgate finally opened. Pouring himself into her, the rest of his pain - his grief? -and all of his anxieties and frustrations were temporarily suspended. Time itself seemed suspended, in the oblivion of those briefly blazing seconds as B.J.'s sugar, the searing and singing of her flesh, saturated his psyche and melted in his mind. And the second time he came, such was B.J.'s pleasure that as they disengaged she turned him on his back and kept
his shaft moist and throbbing in the soft sleeve of her mouth ... until he was ready again.
But throughout she had been aware of the danger, and mindful of Radu's warning: 'Be sure - be absolutely sure - that if he gets into you, nothing of you, of us, gets into him!'
Of course not, for he wanted Harry for himself, to use ... however he would use him. He wanted him pure, human. At first, anyway. As for Radu's purpose with Harry:
B.J. knew of it (the dog-Lord had explained something of it, at least) but for the moment did not want to think about it. For the moment she wanted only to lie here, warm and drowsy, with Harry's arm draped over her and his sleeping, no longer intense but oddly innocent face resting against the resilience of her breasts, and her thigh between his legs where his rod, all flaccid now, twitched occasionally, perhaps from the 'memory' of its mounting. For while he had pleasured her with his body, it had not stopped there: he now pleasured her with his presence. Yes, she . . . liked being there with him! And it was also a curiously pleasant thought that he'd shot his seed into her - despite that she had been obliged to kil it.
Contraception? Pills and plastic and senses-stifling rubber? Unnecessary. Her body, her system, was its own protection. There was that in her blood - the same alien essence that defended her against Man's common ailments, time's deterioration, and even physical injuries - that would not allow of the invasion of his sperm. B.J. need only call on it, think it into being, and her system would, or had, responded to destroy all of Harry's myriad squirming tadpoles of generation.
It had taken but a thought, a command issued from B.J. 's mind to her own innermost organs and tissues, to the immature leech which she even felt growing within her despite that her Master had denied it:
Other than you, there is that in me which is alive. I do not wish it. Cleanse me of this infestation. So be it. And it was done.
Except the other way was much harder: to keep that alien essence to herself, and not transmit it, or allow it to transmit itself, into her partner. She wanted him enthralled in the one sense, but not as a true thrall in the other. B.J.
herself, she might have wanted him so, but the dog-Lord did not. No, for Radu wanted him for himself. Again, it seemed a contradiction:
That her Master would insist she was not Wamphyri, but at the same time worry about her passing on anything to Harry, to his Mysterious One. Herself a thrall (if that was all she was), B.J. 's bite would make him a moon child - aye, to be stricken by the moon at its ful, and held in awe of unnatural urges - but never a true wolfling. Only by transfusion of Radu's blood, his saliva, his sperm, his essence, could that be accomplished. Or by his leech or its vampire egg. But surely, during all the years that B.J. had served him, sufficient of her Master must have found its way into her? No, not so; Radu had it that the giving was a one-way thing; B.J. got nothing back ...
Oh, really? Then why was it that she always felt - what, an electric connection? An inner awareness, anyway - as Radu's funnel filed and he began to consume her life's blood? Bonnie Jean knew why, or supposed she knew. But she scarcely dared to admit it, not even to herself. For if she was wrong ...
How great his wrath, to discover that she had somehow imagined herself magically endowed - indeed Wamphyri -without that he had engineered it!
Well, he need not worry, for it was not her intention to make a vampire, a wolf, or any other creature out of Harry. It was her intention to obey her Master and eventually have him up out of his resin grave; for as much as Bonnie Jean had been the dog-Lord's champion, she sensed the day coming when he must be hers. The Drakuls and Ferenczys and their thralls were abroad in the world; as yet B.J. was more woman than composite creature; Radu must survive, at least until she had learned al she could from him, and with that knowledge became more capable of managing, of engineering ...her own ... dynasty?
And so it was out in the open at last, in the open of her consciousness, her self-understanding, at least. Not treachery, but survival! Her own survival. More proof - and possibly the best yet - that she was or would soon be what she'd suspected for the last forty years at least: Wamphyri! So for now, Radu would continue to be her Master, and his word law.
And until he was up again, and for as long as the Drakuls and Ferenczys were a threat, she would suppress it as best she could; and as he had used her she would now use others, and so prepare her own way in the world.
As for the dog-Lord's plans for Harry - his so-called Mysterious One, his 'Man With two Faces,' - B.J. could now look at those in a different light, from Radu's point of view. For what he would do now, she herself might yet be obliged to attempt in some far-distant future time ...
Radu had not gone down into the resin of his own volition. Not entirely. He had thought that he sickened; he had believed that the Black Death held him in thrall, and knew from experience that he could not beat it. With his own eyes he had seen his pups develop those hideous black pustules, and die. He had felt the disease inside him, and knew the struggle his essence put up against it, in vain. And he'd cursed his leech for its weakness, its idle inefficiency, that it could not combat the creep of this insidious thing.
But the 1340s was a decade not only of plague but of famine and unrest. Simple movement throughout Europe had been the most difficult thing in its own right. Even a rich Boyar's entourage, fleeing before the all-devouring scourge from the east, could scarcely expect to find it an easy passage. Radu had got into a fight, suffered a sword thrust in his side. Normally his vampire leech could easily handle, quickly heal a simple wound. But his parasite was already battling the plague within Radu's system; a fight it couldn't hope to win, not as long as he was up and about, engaging in other activities.
He had hated it, but there was no other solution. So that finally, in Scotland in 1350, the dog-Lord's long-laid contingency plan for continuity must be brought into being. The pack had built him a makeshift lair in unexplored mountain heights, and Radu had gone down into the resin.
A drastic solution, perhaps, but this was what he'd seen in precogni-tive dreams: that he must go down for long and long - six hundred years and more - and rise up in a future world, even in another body! Metempsychosis: the passing of his Being and Personality into the body of another. Moreover, he had long dreamed of this Mysterious One, who would be there at his awakening; and of himself as the avenger out of time, destroyer of his olden enemies, burning bright as a star in the final hour of his triumph!
With these things in mind it had been easier to submit to the sarcophagus of soft, suffocating resin. The wine of desert-bred wizards had helped; the coma it induced had been like unto death itself, but in fact was the dawn of a radically extended undeath. And immobile in his state of suspended animation in a gluey grave in the Cairngorms lair, he had commenced to dream.
And now that Radu was no longer active, consuming energy and making demands on his leech, his vampire could concentrate on its real battle, directing all of its efforts to combat the virus raging in the dog-Lord's heart. Just how that battle had gone ... who could say? Radu slept; and even when his mind was awake, still in a way it was detached from his body. He would not know he was a whole man again until the two came together, which would be on the day when B.J. melted away the resin and set him free.
And if he was not the whole man? If his parasite had lost its light and the fever rose up in him again, resurgent after all these years? That was where Harry Keogh came into the picture; it was the role that Radu saw him playing in that final scene. Metempsychosis, aye.
Because in the year preceding the dog-Lord's awakening, he would use his superior powers of beguilement - that hypnotism which was his art above all others - to transfer his detailed memories into Harry's mind. And if when he arose he discovered his body riddled with disease, about to succumb and suffer the true death, then he would cause his leech to flee his body into Harry's. Indeed, he would scarcely need to 'cause' it, for the natural tenacity of the parasite - its lust for life - would see to that. And if by chance the leech itself could not transfuse, if it should be obstructed, then it would issue its egg, swiftest and surest of al carriers of vampirism!
But in the moment of transfusion, by, whichever method, the dog-Lord would atempt his greatest wonder. Radu was an incredibly powerful mentalist, a telepath without peer. And with his own uniformly scarlet gaze, he would burn out Harry's mind and project himself through Harry's own honey-brown eyes into his mentality. He would be Harry Keogh.
Or more properly, Harry would become him. With Radu's egg, or leech, al of his memories and his mind entire ... he would be Radu. Why, eventualy, through metamorphism, he would even come to look like him, would wear the dog-Lord's face. The Man With two Faces, aye.
That was Lord Radu Lykan's plan.
But on the other hand - if he should rise up again a whole man or creature, free of the plague - then there would be other uses for the Mysterious One. And they were far less of a mystery. For one thing, there'd be a hungry warrior to see to ...
It was 2:30. Harry stirred and mumbled something in his sleep, and it was as good a time as any.
B.J. shushed him, checked that he was still deeply asleep, reached across him and toppled a smouldering block of firewood, oak, she thought, from the back of the deep old-fashioned fireplace into the glowing embers. Then she slid out from under the blanket that she'd drawn over them, crossed the room and turned on a reading-lamp at Harry's desk. And aiming it directly into Harry's face, his shut eyes, she at once blocked the beam with her naked body and quickly returned to him.
Then she lay beside him and propped herself on one elbow, turned and looked at the lamp. And narrowing her eyes to close out the rest of the room, she nodded and congratulated herself that the glowing sphere of light looked not unlike a ful moon, the principal image, the trigger, that was already implanted in his mind.
The rest of it was down to power of wil, the intensity of her own eyes and voice and mind, to which he'd already succumbed on previous occasions.
And she breathed, 'Harry, mah wee man. Are ye listening?' It was a deep, purring, penetrating Scotish brogue, which she breathed into his nostrils as wel as his ears. Her scent, her musk, infiltrated Harry's system, his dreams and subconscious, and for a moment his eyelids flutered, then were still, as he mumbled:
'Good,' she purred. And dropping the accent: 'Harry, you will listen to me, and you will obey me. Is that understood?'
And as quickly, as easily as that, she had taken command of his mind. It still seemed amazing to B.J. that control was so simple over a mind
she'd suspected of being so complex! And so far she'd used only the human side of her wil, while there was that in her which was much stronger and far and away superior to anything human. But now, because of the ultimately esoteric nature of what she must tell Harry -as a prelude to what Radu would eventualy instil into him - B.J. had need of that greater, alien strength of wil.
Again leaving their makeshift bed before the fire, she went to the patio windows and opened the curtains. High over the garden, a three-quarter-ful moon poured its silvery light on her, which pooled around her and turned her to an alabaster statue. She opened her arms wide, sighed, and reached up, letting the moonlight flood her psyche and drawing strength from it. And this time her metamorphosis was that much easier.
Colours flowed, flesh rippled, moved, rearranged. There sounded a crackle of static electricity as fur bristled, stood erect, and setled down on B.J. 's flanks. And drawing the curtains again, and faling to al fours, she went back to Harry.
And cradling him, and lusting after his flesh (but denying herself, because her lust was no longer sexual), she commanded that he open his eyes and gaze upon the glorious moon, and that he see only her eyes, in the moonlight flooding from his reading-lamp. Then, burning the message home with her furnace gaze, she told him what he must know if he was to go out into the world as the dog-Lord's spy, to seek out the Drakuls and the Ferenczys: knowledge he would retain in his innermost being without even realizing it was there. Likewise any information he might gather: no other would be privy to it - Harry himself would scarcely be aware of its existence - until B.J. or Radu Lykan drew it out of him.
And as her husky, she-wolfs voice coughed, rumbled and occasionaly whined through the long night hours, telling its truths, half-truths, and damned lies -mainly as she herself had heard the story from the dog-Lord Radu, and employing his mode of expression - so the Necroscope absorbed al that she told him, soaking it up as a bone-dry sponge soaks water ...
Haaaarry! Harry Keogh, listen to me. Listen, and remember all that I shall tell you. But these are secret things - this is secret knowledge - for you and you alone. Retain it, and use it when the time is right. But at other times forget it, lest it harm you irrepairably.
Harry, there is a world other than this world. A place, a space, other than ours. It has a name, SunsidelStarside, where there are men ... and other than men. There are barrier mountains, which keep the two races apart. Sunside of the mountains dwell men; Starside is home to the Wamphyri. The Wamphyri were men, but no longer. Now they are greater than men; they are the vampire Lords of a vampire world.
In the earliest times of the vampire world, Lord Shaitan of the Wamphyri was the greatest of the Starside Lords. The others rose up against him, and he defeated them. Many of them whom he took prisoner were executed in various ways; they were put into deep graves to stiffen to stones in the earth, or were banished into the bitter-cold Icelands. But others were thrown into the Starside Gate, which was thought to be the throat of a vampire hell. In fact it was a true Gate ... to this world, our world! Except having come here, they could not go back, for the Gate had closed behind them.
Among them who came through with their thralls were several of the vilest of men, creatures whose evil was quite beyond the imagining of mundane minds: the Drakul brothers, Karl and Egon, and Nonari the Gross Ferenczy. And these awesome Lords were destined to become the forebears of vampirism in this world, even as they had been among its first progenitors in Starside.
But there was one other who was banished with them, and He was honourable even among the Wamphyri, where true honour never existed. His name was Radu Lykan, a so-called - 'dog-Lord,' whose mistress was the moon, and whose shape and affinity were more like unto the noble wolf than the ill-omened bat. Oh, Radu was Wamphyri, but in his nature he was above them as men are above rats.
And for a thousand years Radu ran with the wolves and was one with the wild of this world . . . a creature of Nature, aye, and different from the vile and terrible Lords who came out of Starside with him. He desired only to go his own way, doing no harm to men but living alongside them, unseen in the woods and mountain heights. His prey were the wild things, and his drink was the clean, clear water of mountain streams.
But as for the Drakuls and Ferenczys: they were - they are - a monstrous scourge and the source of a legend as wide as a world.
The legend of the vampire! And Radu, because he is Wamphyri, has been tarred with their brush. In that ancient world where he came forth out of Starside, down all the years of his freedom in the wild, even unto these modern times, he is known by a terrible name and an undeserved reputation: werewolf! And despite that he was never guilty of Drakul and Ferenczy excesses and atrocities, he bears the selfsame taint and his memory is likewise cursed.
His memory, aye ...
Because he is no more, nothing in this world but an ancient creature in a cavern lair. Nothing but a bad dream, which was never given the opportunity to clear its name. Because he was driven into hiding, made to seek refuge and relinquish his life in the wild as a veritable Force of Nature, by his olden Starside enemies. Six hundred years ago, in a time of war and famine and pestilence, they sought him out, to pursue him and put him down. But he evaded them and theirs by hiding himself away in a mountainous redoubt.
Except it is a redoubt in name only. Untenanted,
unprotected, it is more a lair, a sanctuary - a place of refuge - than a fortress.
But even there the dog-Lord Radu is not safe. Even there, even now, he is 'dogged' by the sons of the sons of his olden Starside enemies. For while the descendants - the spawn - of vile Drakuls and Ferenczys are ignorant of Radu s whereabouts, still they know that he is not dead but undead, dreaming in a place of his own, and they cannot bear that he yet abides.
For when Lord Lykan's sleep of centuries is done, he will be up again and return to his woods and mountains. Except this time he will not suffer such as his enemies to live. This time he will seek them out, wherever they are disguised as men, and deal with them as they would deal with him.
But. . . it will not be easy. For even in those bygone days six hundred years ago, already the Wamphyri were adept at hiding themselves away among men! And the Ferenczys especially so. Let me tell you what I know of their history, Harry, as it was told to me by my Master, the dog-Lord Radu Lykan. But remember: as a family-tree of infamy, this history of the Wamphyri is incomplete; it ends where Radu retired to his mountain hideaway. And in all the time gone by since then ... ah, but who can say what is become of such creatures now, their place in the world today? Well, I can say. Something of them at least.
First the Drakuls:
As told, there were two of them came through the Gate with Radu: Karl and Egon. Black Karl, as he was known - not for the colour of his skin but that of his heart - met up with Radu in Ainjalut in 1260. Karl was with the Mongols (as was a certain Ferenczy, who ran off when he saw how all was lost; I will tell you about him later) and Radu with the Mamelukes, who were triumphant. Wherefore we needn't any longer concern ourselves with Karl! Thereafter, however, Egon Drakul was far more mindful of a Wamphyri maxim here in this world: that anonymity is synonymous with longevity! Perhaps it was because Radu was actively hunting the Drakuls down -perhaps Egon had simply had enough of the slaughter of the times? - whichever, he disappeared for a while, and for long and long Radu could discover nothing of his whereabouts ...
... But some ninety years later Radu's spies reported Egon's presence in Poland! Alas, Radu only learned of this when he was in France en-route for England, fleeing from the scourge of the Black Death, else he would have gone to Poland at once.
Too late ... He fell ill... Even as the Black Death began to burn itself out- in its initial manifestation at least-so the dog-Lord went into 'hibernation' in his secret mountain refuge. But he left certain tried and trusted thralls behind, to look after his interests down the centuries ...
Of the latter: there weren't many. Most of his 'pups' had been taken by the plague; others had died building his retreat; only the hardy descendants ofMirlus and Tirenis, recruited out ofSunside in the vampire world, when Radu was a Starside Lord, lived to survive him - and then only by virtue of their isolation, the inaccessible mountain heights in which they worked.
But when Radu was safely asleep in his great sarcophagus, then they went down into Scotland to settle the land around, or to wait out the last days of the plague before returning abroad to more familiar lands and territories. Ah, how could they know that the plague wasn't finished with them, that scarcely a decade would pass for the next four centuries without it returning again and again to scythe among them? For since they were moonchildren all, and ofRadu's blood, its contagion was deadly to them no less than leprosy to the vampire Lords ofStarside.
Well, if there were survivors, I do not know of them ...
But of that handful who remained local and loyal to Radu, a few did survive. Aye, and six hundred years ago, an ancestor of mine, a Mirlu, was one of them. We had to survive, else Radu himself could not. For who would there be to ... to tend him in his secret lair? To listen to him dreaming? To reassure him, if only by our presence, of the time of his return?
To ... to console him, in his long, lonely sleep?
My ancestor, aye. He, or more likely she, lived and died a moon child -but not without leaving an heir to her duties. And there would always be an heir down the centuries. For four hundred years, Harry - a Mirlu to care for Radu in his immemorial tomb! Until there was me ...
And surely that is the true miracle: that to know him and be faithful to him - indeed, to dedicate one's life to him - is to extend that life indefinitely! Longevity beyond the wildest dreams of the boldest men of science and medicine!
And yet Radu has it, Harry, and so do I. And so can you!
But I fancy I've strayed ... I was speaking of EgonDrakul... let me continue:
In Poland the Black Death had little impact. Why? Who can say? The plague was carried by rats of Asiatic origin; perhaps there were too many rivers to cross: the Danube, the Elbe, the Oder. Anyway, and despite that one third of the European population succumbed, Egon Drakul survived. OrifnotEgon himself, a blood- or egg-son, certainly.
Now, theDrakuls had been driven out of their foothold in Transylvania many hundreds of years earlier by successive waves of eastern invaders. Their influence in that mountainous region had been eroded; they'd been less than covert in their activities; the legend they originated was eradicated - almost.
But six hundred years ago, in the wake of plague, famine, war, and civil unrest in general - after the decimation of Europe - it was time to return to the source land, the mountains that Egon knew so well. Why, upon a time he'd even been a Lord there, no less than in Sturside in another world! So much I've gathered ... for in two hundred years I have been something of a far-traveller myself, when times have allowed. And on my Master's behalf I've done what you will do: sought evidence of his olden enemies; sought to locate them, so that when Radu returns he'll know their numbers and whereabouts.
And this much I have learned:
That indeed there was a Drakul in his Transylvanian castle until a time as recent as a hundred years ago! An 'aristocrat,' aye-a Count! The people around knew him, however, and eventually it was his time to move on again. But was it Egon Drakul?
Egon himself? Oh, I think so. And I have my reasons.
Radu had killed Egon's brother Karl, then 'gone to earth' in Scotland. Perhaps Egon sought revenge. Perhaps he would even seek out my Master! However it was, he had his thralls in England - 'sleepers,' if you will - and went there. Now down the years this Drakul's mentalist talent had grown; in order to inform his English thralls of his imminent arrival on their soil, he reached out to them with his mind ... and in so doing, likewise alerted Radu where he lay dreaming in his mountain refuge! And Radu alerted me ...
A hundred years ago, aye. Can you imagine how things have changed, Harry? There were no aeroplanes in those days; now men have walked on the surface of our mistress moon, and sent their messages out to the stars'. The sciences were stil young, while superstition was still rife. There were alchemists, and others who remembered and believed in the old legends. And there were some I feared, because of what they believed. But there was no other way and I must protect my Master.
There was a much-travelled man, a doctor, who knew - who believed -the legend of the Wampir. And before the Drakul was able to set up a colony in England, I made known to this doctor his presence here. It was easy ... a letter ... a warning. And it coincided with a spate of strange deaths and deteriorations. Also, Egon had come aboard a ship; well, how else? But a plague ship by the time it wrecked on the north-east coast! And so my doctor was convinced.
He put paid to Egon's plans, pursued him back to Transylvania, brought him up out of his coffin into sunlight. It was the end of one of the original Lords of the Wamphyri, brought about by my hand!... As instructed by my Master, of course.
But it was the way of it - the way of his true death - that convinced me it was Egon Drakul and none other, no matter what names he may have used. To surrender to the sunlight like that, and devolve into so much dust. Ah, but he had been Wamphyri for long and long ...
And what an opportunity, eh? I couldn't resist it: a trip to my Masters country, where first he entered this world.
And from there into the hinterland, where at least one ancient Drakul castle is standing to this day. My duties were such that I could afford ninety days, no more: barely sufficient time. But I went anyway - to the castle of the dead Drakul.
What, on a whim? Never! My Lord Radu Lykan sent me, and with specific instructions at that. For he knew that the Drakuls had been creatures of habit, by which I might know for certain it was Egon we had kiled. And in the dank and gloomy dungeons, in the spider-haunted vaults of that hated place on its gaunt promontory, I found the evidence I sought:
A bed of earth in the crumbling debris of an antique cofin. Earth out of Starside, in a vampire world. But a cofin? One cofin? Ah, wo ... there were two cofins!
The one, the old one, bore a motif in the shape of a riven man. And according to my Master Radu, it had been a Drakul punishment in Starside to tear enemies asunder and let their guts rain down onto the boulder plains beneath the great aeries. The other cofin was newer. Some two or three hundred years old, it carried no special sigil but only these initials: 'D.D.' Surely the second of the two must stand for Drakul?
There were Szgany around, Szekely. Apparently they were in thrall in one degree or another to the now absent Drakuls. They kept the castle, and sheltered within its structure through bad winters. Me they hated on sight, but I am what I am and was not concerned. They melted away into the country around, leaving me to my own devices. But before departing for England I... found a Szkeley youth who was ... not adverse to talking tome.
And the youth told me that indeed the great Boya/s 'son' had set out with his retainers and journeyed east, at the self-same time as his 'father' had ventured westwards. So then, Egon was dead, but his son - egg- or blood-son, I can't say - had fled east. But 'east is a big place and too far away in those days for me to visit. And it seems that this most recent Drakul had learned the lesson his forbears forgot or ignored: the maxim which has it that longevity is synonymous with anonymity. For in al the years since I've heard no more of these terrible Drakuls. Except from Radu, who assures me that at host one of them survives still. 'D.D.' of course.
Wel, so much for them, who were in any case the least of Radu's enemies. As for the worst of them: they were - they are - the Ferenczys!
Let me tell you what is known of them, but in order to do so I must go back a long, long way ...
Now in the vampire world, Radu and the Ferenczy clan had been enemies from the start. Theirs was a bloodfeud that began long before they were Lords, when they were Szgany in Sunside. Radu was a mere youth when the brutish Ferenczy brothers, Lagula and Rakhi, not only murdered his human father but raped to death his sister, the only creature he'd ever cared for in al Sunside. When she was dead ... then he cared for nothing much. Nothing but revenge.
No, not true: he was also fond of a she-wolf who wandered the Sunside hils with him during his days as a mountain man, a loner without a tribe, neither family nor friends, only the sun to warm him and the stars for guide at night. Radu and his she-wolf, aye. But she was infected with vampirism and had a leech; the parasite vacated her for Radu, who was a stronger, cleverer host. Thus he became Wamphyri.
But when Radu crossed into Starside, he found the Ferenczys already there, vampire Lords of their own great aeries. So their bloodfeud continued, becoming part of the greater Wamphyri bloodwars. Eventualy Radu conquered and kiled both of the Ferenczy brothers, but not before Lagula had sired Nonari 'the Gross Ferenczy, whose left hand was like a club, with al the fingers fused into one.
And so the bloodwars went on, year in year out, for decades, until Starside was drenched in blood! But in the end the only real victor was neither dog-Lord, Ferenczy, Drakul, nor any 'common' Lord. No. It was Shaitan the Unborn, first of them al, who had the wit to pick them of one by one when they were weakened by the fighting. Then, when it was over, Shaitan banished them through the Gate for their troubles. Thus Radu came into this world, and his most hated enemies with him - especialy Nonari the Gross.
They could have setled it then, but they were strangers in our world with troubles enough. So they went their own ways; Radu adventuring in the world, and Nonari ... doing whatever he did. But Nonari had sworn vengeance on Radu, his kith, kin, and spawn for al time to come, for the deaths of Lagula his father and Rakhi his uncle: the impassioned vow of a Lord of the Wamphyri, which might even outlast eternity! And down al the years and centuries Radu stayed alert, and kept an ear cocked at al times for word of Nonari Ferenczy.
He heard certain things. For instance:
How one 'Onarius Ferengus,' the Roman Governor of a smal province on the Black Sea, had died in the Year 445 of thereabouts, at the hands of unknown barbarians. That was when Radu had been a Vandal, before they turned on him and drove him out of Italy. But he had also heard how this Onarius had a son in the mountains north of Moldavia, in a place caled the Khorvaty. And this son's name was Belos Pheropzis.
Down the years, as time and his travels alowed, Radu made inquiry but learned little. A hundred years later, when he was a Voevod in the eastern Carpathians, he even tried to discover the whereabouts of this castle of Belos Pheropzis. Events intervened; his duties caled him away; the search must wait.
Centuries later he did come across the castle in the Khorvaty, but found it deserted and falling into ruin. Fortunately the people of the region kept records, and they remembered.
Belos Pheropzis had been a great and terrible Boyar, and his mountain retreat secret and near-inaccessible, as Radu had discovered. He, too, had a son, caled Waldemar Ferrenzig, and a daughter who never ventured out from the castle. It was rumoured that Belos slept with her, a not uncommon practice among the Wamphyri.
Belos had finally come to grief fending of a party ofBulgar raiders; his castle was saved but he lost his life; surviving Bulgars likewise expired, in an avalanche brought about by Waldemar. And thereafter Waldemar slept with his sister...
There were two sons (but one of them might have been Waldemar s egg-son, who knows? Wamphyri bloodlines are intricate as their histories are complex; even what I've told you so far is hearsay and unproven!) But at least one must have been a bloodson, by Waldemar, most likely out of his sister. Well, brother murdered brother in an argument, and the survivor inherited the castle from Waldemar. But as to what became of Waldemar himself... again I am at a loss.
The brother who inherited the Khorvaty castle was called Faethor, and he reverted to the original family name: Faethor Ferenczy ...
BJ. paused as Harry's body spasmed in an apparently involuntary (and inexplicable) jerk. It felt like the kick of a recumbent man in the moment before he falls asleep, which will often wake him up again. Except Harry's 'sleep' was a state of deep hypnosis, and his reaction outside of B.J.'s previous experience.
'Are you . . . cold?' (For now she felt a shiver, or even a shudder, running through him). Kneeling over him, B.J. stirred blackened cinders to life and placed kindling and a smal log where the embers were stil hot. By which time Harry had settled down again and she could continue:
Faethor was a strange one. He would stay at home in his castle for decades at a time, but always in the end the blood would draw him out, and of he'd go adventuring in a war-torn world. In the two hundred years preceding the Fourth Crusade he used a great many pseudonyms. He was, for instance, 'Stefan Ferrenzig,' then 'Peter,' 'Karl,' and 'Grigor,' He became his own son time and time again, for he knew that a man may not be seen to live too long among common men - and certainly not for centuries!
At various times he was a Crusader, an Uighur warrior, a warlord under Temujin; then a general under Genghis's grandson, Batu. As 'Fereng the Black,
"Son" of the Fereng,' under Hulegu he played apart in the extermination of the Assassins, and he was there at the fall of Baghdad in 1258. Why, the dog-Lord has even reasoned it out that it was this Faethor who fought on the side of the Mongols and Karl Drakul at the batle ofAin Jalut! Ah, but what a pity that Radu kiled Karl and missed him, this damned Ferenczy!
And so, yet again, we see how the histories of the Wamphyri are complex ...
But let me get on:
Faethor had two sons that Radu heard of in his time, though he never came up against them. They were Thibor, Faethor's egg-son - a fierce Watach who was a Voevod for the rulers of both Russian and his native land - and Janos, a bloodson out of Gypsy stock. The last my Master heard of Thibor was in the late 1340s, shortly before the plague drove him
to seek refuge in the resin. At that time Thibor was a Voevod in Romania. In the last two hundred years, however - certainly in the last hundred, excluding the war years - it has been easier to travel in Europe. On behalf of my Master, Radu, I've done some research abroad and believe I know something of Thibor.
As stated, Thibor was a Voevod for a long line of Walachian princes: the Mirceas, Vlad Tepes (whose evil reputation had a great deal to do with Thibor, I fear), Radu the Handsome - but no relation to my Radu, be sure - and finally Mircea the Monk, who seems to have been sore afraid of him ... too afraid to let him live, perhaps? At any rate, that is where Thibor's trail ends, as a warlord in the service of Mircea the Monk.
And then there was Janos Ferenczy, who first made himself known as a young man in the early part of the 13th Century. He was a thief, a pirate, a corsair on the broad bosom of the Mediterranean. During the Christian-Moslem conflicts of the Crusades, he was one of the pety princelings looting them who had looted others! He had a castle in the Zarundului heights (his father Faethor spent many years there, too), to which he would return periodicaly. And there is evidence to suggest he was a necromancer, for which there might be a simple explanation. As Faethor's bloodson, Janos could use this necromancy to enhance or supplement his meagre Wamphyri powers, which are frequently weaker in blood- than in egg-sons or -daughters. Not that it could have done him much good; he seems to have disappeared at the end of the 15th Century, about the same time as Thibor.
So, it's my conclusion that Faethor, Thibor, and Janos are al dead and gone. My Master... isn't so sure. He tells me the Wamphyri have a habit of turning up in the strangest places, at the most inconsiderate times. And he's certain that Ferenczys - more than one, and at least one Drakul: this 'D.D.', of course - survive to this day ...
But now there are more complications and we're obliged to go back, back, al the way bach to Waldemar Ferrenzig. Waldemar was a lusty one and fertile, and his sister wasn't the only one he slept with. There were records in a museum in olden Moldavia that I read al of sixty years ago. Alas, when I went back recently the museum was no more; what they'd missed in World War I they hit in World War II, and the museum was a bumed-out ruin. But I remember what I read originaly:
That before Svyatoslav, in Kiev, there was a Boyar like a prince who was banished out of the city west, 'to the farthest corners of the land,' who built a great house 'under the mountains on the border of Moldavia'... the Khorvaty! His name was 'Valdemar Fuhrenzig,' but I can only believe he was Waldemar. As to why he was sent out of Kiev ... wel, he was Wamphyri!
Those were Viking days, and the Varyagi were establishing their trade routes to the Greeks along Kievan Russia's eastern rivers. Wel, despite that Waldemar was banished from the land, he liked to go into the woods for days on end, hunting boar in the great forests that sprawled west of the River Bug. And one day he came across a Varyagi encampment.
Normally there would be no trouble; oh, they were fierce men, these Vikings, but they were traders, too. And the Ferenczy had a party of retainers, his thralls, along with him. But this time it was different. The Vikings were heading north for the Baltic and home, and they had a beautiful woman with them, stolen out of some port on the Black Sea. So far, she had suffered no harm; they would sell her back home, to be some Prince or King's raven-haired, dark-eyed wife.
She implored Waldemar"s help as a gentleman. Obviously he was a Boyar, for he had his men with him, his dogs, his hawks.
But the Ferenczy's men were thralls', his dogs were wolves, and his hawks as bloodthirsty as he himself!
Wel, there was no more of the story in the old Moldavian museum, but at least I was able to ascertain this lady's name. She was a Sicilian Princess, or at least of royal blood. Alas, she was also illegitimate, with no actual claim to the region from which she took her name: Constanza de Petralia. And Petralia is a village or town in Sicily's Le Madonie.
It was worth a trip to Sicily; I spoke to several historians; the code of silence is extensive! But finally I was able to consult certain records.
Constanza de' Petralia had returned to Sicily in 866. No sooner was she home than she gave birth to twin boys, one of which was hideously deformed and destroyed at birth. The surviving child was named - of all things - Angela! Far more important, on coming of age he changed his surname: to Ferenczini! His mother came into property, money. She was over-indulgent with her son, who was much-travelled: Corsica, Italy, Romania and Moldavia. But there the trail peters out, and to my knowledge there are no more Ferenczinis today. As for Ferenczy: its a common name in all regions throughout and bordering the Carpathians. But -
- The real Ferenczys are still out there somewhere ...
B.J. was finished with that part of it. Harry now knew (to the best of her knowledge,) as much as she knew. In fact the Necroscope knew a great deal more; so much more that he could easily have told B.J. what had become of Faethor and Thibor Ferenczy! Except it wouldn't be easy, couldn't even be dragged out of him if it also meant compromising his talents. But in any case she didn't ask, for that was something she would never have suspected in a million years.
Why should she?
B.J. was tired now; it had taken a massive effort of will to maintain her wolf-shape and the energy of her scarlet Wamphyri eyes. But she had needed to be sure that the knowledge she imparted would sink in, stay there and not get misrepresented. For he was a strange one, this Harry
Keogh, and B.J. couldn't afford any more episodes or mistakes like the telephone farce.
And on that subject, after she had relaxed a fraction and flowed back into human form:
'Harry, about your telephone. Why change the number? What was that all about?'
He stared unblinking into her eyes, feral now in the dark blot of her head, where it was silhouetted against the glowing halo of his reading-lamp across the room. 'I was scared of it,' he croaked from a bone-dry throat.
She said: 'Salivate, moisten your throat, feel well, and talk normally. But remain asleep, and hear and obey.'
'Of course,' he answered after a moment, when the knob of his throat had stopped bobbing.
'But why were you frightened of the 'phone?'
He shrugged (because hypnotized or not, he really didn't know). But he could guess. 'Bad dreams, maybe? I don't want to hear anything bad about Brenda and the baby ...'
B.J. could understand and accept that. But it couldn't be allowed to go on; she must have contact with him. 'Get an answering machine,' she said. 'If you start to hear something that you don't like, you can switch it off. Or you can monitor your calls, and simply cut them off as and when it suits you.'
'Good!' Harry nodded.
'But of course you won't switch off when it's me on the line, because our little rule still applies. You'll hear - '
' - Is that mah wee man?' Harry cut in, talking normally.
'And you'll see - '
' - The moon, your eyes - '
' - And a wolfs head in silhouette, yes.'
'Radu's head,' he nodded.
'Indeed.' B.J. was pleased. 'But now we really must talk about this search of yours - for Brenda and the baby, I mean.' But that wasn't what she meant at all; in fact she didn't even want him to find them. He needed a new direction, that was all, to which his
'search' would be peripheral. His conscious purpose would seem the same to him, but subconsciously ...?•
'Also, you're not as fit as you should be. We have to get you in shape.'
'I've been intending to,' Harry answered.
'And I have a sneaking suspicion that you've been having a hard time of it with alcohol?',
A frown at once etched itself deep into Harry's forehead. 'Alcohol? Well, not so much booze in general as that damned red wine of yours! It seemed to have ... something for me?'
'Something for you?' B.J. shook her head. 'Not any more, Harry. As MANSE AND MONASTERY: AERIES!
of now it's something you can do without. From this moment on you don't need it; indeed, the very thought of it is enough to make you feel sick! Is that understood?'
'Oh, yes!' Harry breathed his relief - but a moment later his face turned pale, his stomach lurched and he belched.
'It's okay now. Put it out of your mind and you'll be just fine.' She had to smile as he sighed and snuggled closer to her warmth, her 'safety'. 'And after we've talked over these other things - your search and what-all - then we'll be able to get some sleep.'
'Afterwards, yes,' said Harry, and she felt the need building in him, beginning to swel against her thigh.
She might have laughed - in surprise, delight, whatever - but knew it would only sap her concentration. And with him she needed all the concentration she could muster. With him, yes.
With this oh-so-mysterious Harry Keogh ...