The skull dissipated into fine mist, shrouding everyone. It was a Necromancer trick, oldest in the book, for knowing where everyone was, and then, the dirt beneath their feet crumbled, and a familiar face loomed out of the ground. “Well, hello, li’l darlin’.” A familiar voice drawled, almost lazily. Sanguine, resplendently clad in a formal business suit. He dusted off the pebbles on his shoulder, and looked around the room in mock surprise. “Not to make a joke about a hole sudd’nly ‘pearing in the ground, but, well, well, well.” Sanguine smiled, evidently at the joke. “The Diablerie, an esteemed organisation has taken an interest in your son…” immediately, a gun, a sword, a fistful of fire, and a legion of shadows were pointed his way, not to mention the sigils on the outstretched palms faced directly at him. “Whoa, hold your horses, ladies and gents; I’m not your oppon’nt tonight. Your fighter is this man. Meet the terrifying, the astonishing, the skilful, Bristol… Jetstream!” Billy-Ray Sanguine backed away from the door, while a shrill ringtone version of Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’ rang from behind the door.
Bristol kicked in the door, and walked slowly into the room. He saw the various assortments of weapons facing him, and muttered “oh, hell.” Then Skulduggery’s gun roared, Tanith’s sword flashed and the shadows swiped the mist of black where Bristol had stood. Then, moving unnaturally fast, he grabbed Marcus, and put him through a table. “Cain…” he snarled, breathing fast and heavy. Marcus groaned, but he aimed his palms at Bristol. The searing blast sent Bristol flying upwards, trench coat billowing out behind him. He hit the ceiling with a meaty thud, and then fell to the ground, groaning, and shaking bits of plaster from his neatly done hair. Marcus didn’t give him a chance to recover and helped Bristol back up to his feet with a heavy punch to the chin. Bristol rubbed his chin ruefully, and unsheathed the broadsword on his back. Marcus danced back, the unnaturally fast swing of the blade missing his stomach by hairsbreadths. Jetstream was relentless, swinging the broadsword with unerring skill, and Marcus backed out of the kitchen, while the sword ripped a gash in the kitchen wall. He ran for the front door, and saw Jetstream pursuing him. Marcus was out of breath, tired and had various nicks and cuts from the fight. Then, miraculously, he stopped. Marcus recovered his breath and stood straight, looking at his opponent. Bristol seemed to have stopped in mid-step, frozen in place. Skulduggery held his hands open, solidifying the air around Jetstream. Marcus did not wait for a second hint. He stepped forward, low beneath Bristol’s guard, then pushed off the ground with his feet, while striking upwards with a semi-clenched fist. Bristol’s head rocked backwards, and his eyes rolled up in his head. Skulduggery let go, and Bristol collapsed in an unconscious heap.
“Where am I?” Bristol’s head lifted from where it had hung most of the night, his now-unkempt hair fringing his eyes. That’s when Valkyrie noticed the white of his skin, same as Caelan. “He’s a vampire!” she yelled, backing her son behind her. Marcus squirmed a little, and then darted out from behind his mother, tapping symbols as he went. His belt melded into the tattoos forming silver crucifix shaped daggers in both hands. He pressed one to Bristol’s throat. Bristol sneered defiantly, and said “Go ahead and kill me, if you want.” Marcus pressed the dagger to his neck a little harder. Then, there was a knock on the door. Valkyrie got the door. An attractive woman clad in crimson leather, in her late teens stood at the door. “I’m sorry, ma’am, my name is Olivia Storm, I’m a necromancer, and well, Ol’ Tenny wants a certain Bristol Jetstream back at the Temple.”
Valkyrie shot her wary look, then let her in. Marcus took one look, and his jaw hit the floor. “O… Olivia?” Valkyrie looked at her son for an explanation. “She’s my classmate for arithmetic.” Olivia undid Bristol’s ropes. He leapt up, scowling ferociously, and reaching for his sword.
“Now, now, none of that.” Olivia cajoled, twisting Jetstream’s arm backwards ferociously. He howled and dropped to the floor, where Olivia stomped on his fingers, hard. He howled, and Olivia pulled him to standing position again by his injured hand. Jetstream whimpered, and Olivia dragged him out of the door by his coat collar, leaving Marcus and his mother staring blankly at the door.
Tenebrae stared at the young vampire. He was truly a problematic child. “What do you have to say for yourself?” Tenebrae thundered. Bristol quaked nervously in his boots, looking as though he might faint. His sword swung casually in the hands of a girl in her late teens, but this time with black hair streaked with white and equally pale skin. “Butterflies?” Tenebrae asked. Blood Butterflies looked disdainfully at Bristol, and spoke.
Her voice was low, mellow and sweet, but the venom in her voice was unmistakeable. “I think, High Priest… I should be the one punishing him. He’s… earned it.” Her soothing tones did not serve to calm Bristol down, instead he was even more unnerved by the whole turn of events. How did his punishment get to be decided by the only vampire in the room that detested him more than their race?
“I will send him over tonight.” Said Tenebrae.
Butterflies’ cherub like countenance immediately brightened, and she skipped over to the High Priest, pecking him on the cheek and fairly floated away through one of the dark tunnels leading away from the central chamber.
Butterflies waited in her customary trench coat, and watched the shackled Bristol enter the room. “You do know why you’re here, don’t you?” Her voice was thick with Irish brogue, and her dark hair glinted like steel in the dim illumination cast by the natural luminescence of the ceiling. Bristol nodded, his own voice thick in his throat. “I took a hit job without Tenebrae’s approval.” She waited until he had ungainly plodded close, before whipping a trail of shadows into him. He yelled as he was thrown backwards, smacking solidly into the stone wall.
Bristol wiped the trickle of blood at the side of his mouth and stood unsteadily. Such was the life of the despised necromancy student. Such was the life of a necromantic vampire. It was going to be a long night.
Marcus waited outside the school gate. The bell had rung early, and he had waited for almost an hour now. Still no sign of Olivia Storm, and Marcus was beginning to get worried. She hadn’t even shown up for arithmetic and that was her favourite subject, from what he had gleaned from her friends. Then, like a rose out of a fog, Olivia stepped out of the grey school building. Her hair was a beautiful auburn today, and her eyes were brooding, and a haunting stormy grey. “Hey!” Marcus yelled loudly, causing her to look up in alarm. To Marcus surprise, her hair changed colour to burnished gold, and her eyes became a violent shade of purple. She saw Marcus and her wary look lessened a little. The gold in her hair turned darker and sparkled in the sunlight, and her eyes turned lilac. “What do you want?” she asked brusquely. Marcus winced at the hostility in her voice. “I just wanted to talk, he said, “we’re probably the only two teenage sorcerers around.” Olivia looked pointedly at him.
“I’m a Necromancer.” She said simply. Marcus just stared. “ What?” she asked, feeling a little self conscious. Nothing, thought Marcus to himself. I just thought that all Necromancers were hermits living directly underneath rocks, whereas I have a live Necromancer in front of me and she’s gorgeous. Marcus kept that thought to himself. “I just thought that most Necromancers were recluses.” He said out loud. Olivia looked at him sceptically again. “Anyway, what kind of Necromancer wears crimson leather when on a case?”
Olivia looked at herself. “The type that looks good in it.” She decided, and with that, left. Marcus hurried to catch up. “Why are you following me?” she asked,
“What are we playing now, twenty questions?” Marcus teased.
“You started it,” said Olivia, and continued “so answer my questions.”
“Fine.” Marcus gave in somewhat grumpily, and answered “ my parents are on my case, wondering why I didn’t explain why I knew a Necromancer earlier. They didn’t expect Tenebrae to be recruiting so soon.” Olivia nodded. “What else do you want to know?” He asked, irritable that his secret had been prised out of him so easily. Olivia shrugged her shoulders non-commitally, and continued walking. “Alright. My turn. How do you know Bristol Jetstream?
“He used to be my partner acolyte back at the temple.” Olivia said, her voice hard. “He sold his soul to Dusk, and made sure that my friend was infected as well.” Marcus was dazed. Necromancy bonded with vampirism? He was lucky that Bristol Jetstream was such an incompetent or else he would have been a gone case.
“I’m… Sorry for your loss on that one.” Said Marcus. He really meant it too. Olivia shrugged non-commitally and Marcus privately face-palmed. Necromancers were practically buddies with death and the death of a friend meant that while you could not speak, touch, or hold them ever again, the Necromancer in question would be undoubtedly a source of power to all the Necromancers living within the temple walls. A perfectly likeable and respectable religion, really, death worship. “So you subscribe to their religion?” Marcus asked.
Olivia’s glare was withering. “Mr. Cain, just because I practice death magic does not mean that I subscribe to death worship. So if you’ve gotten your order of ideas clear, then I don’t feel like talking anymore.” She mimed Tenebrae’s face and voice, and said in a surprising likeness, “Such is the Necromancer way.” Before grinning crazily at Marcus. Her smile was infectious. Marcus grinned right back.