As far as first kisses go, this is the rare kind verging on perfect. Not a shabby way to welcome the year.
“Happy New Year, Cordelia.” I whisper when our lips part. She gets adorably flustered, which is quite rewarding on its own.
But what’s even more remarkable are the sprites circling around us, glowing a bright green colour. It would appear they’re enjoying themselves, perverted little things.
“Have you ever seen them do that?” I ask her.
She doesn’t answer straight away. “I’ve seen them happy before, but not to this level. It’s like they’re on a high.”
“I can’t say I blame them.” I tell her. She blushes, looking away.
Cordelia. It’s hard not to fall for that sweet charm of hers. L Faba said I’m only interested in the girl because she’s a riddle to be solved. Naturally L Faba would feel that way. Simeon has not offered his opinion, but I know what he thinks. Are the two of them right?
Have I been known to exaggerate my sentiments? Of course. Would she have piqued my interest without the curious sprite predicament? Unlikely. But does that mean there’s nothing of note to her beyond that? Not necessarily.
She is a riddle, but she’s a beautiful riddle. There’s a certain rawness to the way she approaches the world, a curious innocence. But it is precisely that same innocence that complicates matters. Best case scenario, I ruin that innocence, and Cordelia’s biggest appeal will be gone forever. Worst case scenario, it will all crash and burn, right in my face. I don’t know how I feel about that.
For now, though, it has been entertaining to watch her blossom, especially tonight, in that stunning gown – I’ve really outdone myself. And the effect the kiss had on the sprites… certainly rouses some intrigue. It always starts with intrigue…
Of course, the night has brought some unforeseen events too.
First, it was that… presence. Something unusual. I’m powerful, but tonight at the Von Haunt Estate, I’m not the only one. I’ve been here before. Seen the spirits who haunt these grounds. But they’re harmless. This is different. I can sense it. Something potent.
There was some kind of power within that strange couple we saw as we entered. I’m not sure what they are exactly, but it’s neither human, nor spellcaster. Their energy… I could tell even Cordelia could feel it. Naturally, she found it unnerving. I, on the other hand, thought it fascinating.
I excused myself at one point of the night to go investigate, but it was fruitless.
Not only could I not locate them, the presence disappearing as soon as I got close; all that attempt resulted in was me losing Cordelia until I tracked her down on that balcony.
Which leads me to the other incident. Cordelia sharing a piece of her past was… unexpected. She blames herself for the death of her mother. The irony is not lost on me.
A part of me wants her to learn that self-blame will not serve her. Of course, I could share a thing or two on the matter, but that would most certainly chip away at her innocence, and no less change that sweet way she looks at me. I think not.
Needless to say, a masquerade ball was clearly not the ideal choice of event to bring her along to. But if life didn’t throw a curveball every now and then, it would be dreadfully boring. Lesson learned for next time, I suppose.
To salvage the situation, I suggest that we explore the maze instead of heading back down to the ballroom. I may have an ulterior motive. That presence I sensed earlier seems to be looming over the gardens now. I still can’t quite determine what it is, but it is powerful.
Fortunately, powerful is my expertise. I will not fail twice in one night. If there’s power within the maze, I will find it. Like a moth to a flame, my old teacher had said. Except that moths get scorched by the fire. I do not. She should have known that. It doesn’t matter. She rots in hell now.
I let Cordelia go ahead and I turn off in the opposite direction, drawn to the presence. It didn’t take long to find it. I’m getting closer. Sensing danger, I get my wand at the ready. Not that I’m feeling particularly worried. Curiosity propels me closer…
It is one half of that couple. Except now I get to have a much closer look. The earie presence, the ash skin, and of course, the teeth… I wasn’t wrong. The two of them are not human. The being is studying me almost as intently as I am him. He did not expect me. But he was looking for someone. Something…
“You’re hunting.” I observed. His eyes stopped fixating on my wand, and looked directly into mine. Pleasant eyes. Unusual colour.
“And you’re not a willing victim.” His tone was more curious than menacing. “What are you?”
I do not lower my wand. “You first.”
He takes a step closer towards me. “I think you know.”
“You are dead.” I say the obvious out loud.
“Undead, actually.” He says, removing his mask. “But you… you are not, but you’re not exactly mortal, either. How does a human come to power that matches one of a grand master vampire?”
“I am a spellcaster. The sage of untamed magic,” I can’t help but add. Can’t let him think I am some sort of a commoner.
His face is very handsome. Symmetrical. He was young when the change happened. But he isn’t old now, either. Too direct to be ancient. “You are no master vampire, though.” I tell him.
“No. My maker is one.” He confirms my assumption. “But who knows. Maybe one day, I will become one.”
His manner of speaking lacks resolve. He does not believe his last statement, whether he knows it or not. He craves power, yes, but a different kind. A different purpose. Of course, we all want power for different reasons…
“I wouldn’t be so certain you have it in you.” I lower my wand. He will not attack me. He is just as intrigued as I am at this point, even though he tries to hide it. “It would take a lot of power to become a master vampire, I’d wager.”
“What do you know about vampires?” He is annoyed. I must have struck a chord.
“Not very much.” I admit. “But I know about power. It might be mutually beneficial for us to get to know each other a little better.”
He doesn’t reply immediately. Must mean he’s considering it, then.
“You have nothing I want.” He says finally. Lies.
“If you say so.” I treat him to one of my dazzling smiles.
I hear Cordelia looking for me. “Morgyn!” I don’t answer her call. I don’t want her to come here, not now. It wouldn’t be safe for her to come this close to a vampire, I tell myself. That’s all it is.
Her voice has distracted me. A mistake. The vampire notices. “Sounds like even the sage of untamed magic has a vice.” He smirks. He’s taunting me.
“Hardly as many as a vampire does.” I reassert my dominance. “Untamed magic draws power from three elements; lightning, ice and fire. Tell me, how do vampires fare with fire?”
He gives me a look I can’t quite decipher. “Perhaps you do have something I want after all.”
Cordelia is getting closer. We can both hear her footsteps in the grass.
“Forgotten Hollow.” He says quietly. “That’s where you can find me.”
Just as Cordelia emerges from behind the corner, he disappears, almost within an instant. That speed of travel should be unheard of outside of the magic realm.
“Where have you been?” She bursts out. Her unfiltered emotion is in direct contrast with her elegant outfit and hair. It’s quite precious.
“I found something in the maze. Someone.” I tell her truthfully. She doesn’t need to know the details. Or how captivating the vampire was… “We should return to Glimmerbrook. I’m not sure if you’re safe here.”
The irritation in her face is gone. She’s scared. She draws closer so that we can teleport.
She’s clinging on to me, wanting me to protect her, I’d imagine. I notice the sprites will not be joining us for the trip back. They’re gone again, it would appear.
The vampire’s words keep ringing in my head. Forgotten Hollow.
Intrigue. It always starts with intrigue.