The door burst open, causing Cordelia to cower. When she realised it was Micah, a strange sense of relief washed over her. She was aware of how ridiculous that was. He was still a vampire that could potentially kill her, and she was a prisoner in his room. And yet, it felt like the alternatives of possible people to open the door could have been so much worse.
“I brought cannoli.” The vampire said unenthusiastically, placing a small paper bag on the night stand.
“Cannoli?” Cordelia repeated, her voice numb.
“You don’t like cannoli?” He asked. “I used to like it back when… you know. Anyway, there wasn’t much of a selection in Alba’s bakery. The chef is… unavailable.” Micah finished his sentence after a hint of hesitation.”
“I like cannoli.” The girl said weakly.
“Great. Well, you eat. I’ve got a painting to finish.” Micah gave her a subtle nod, ending the conversation.
The whole thing was absurd. But Cordelia was ravenous, so she inhaled the pastry in a few bites.
Trouble was, hunger wasn’t her only problem.
“Uh, Micah?” She turned to her temporary roommate.
He sighed, turning around. “What now?”
“I… I really need to pee.” There was no distinguished way of putting it. But why would that matter? Her situation was far from distinguished.
He gave her a funny look. “Oh. Right. I kind of forgot about that.”
Forgot about that? How was that possible, Cordelia mused. “What do you mean? Don’t vampires need to… well… relieve the bladder?”
“No. We don’t really eat or drink, so we don’t exactly need to… Well, I suppose we do drink, but I’d imagine you don’t want me to go into detail on how we absorb life force directly from blood.”
Before Cordelia could answer, the vampire suddenly turned away. “Did you hear that?” he asked.
He seemed to be listening in for something. Cordelia couldn’t make out anything.
“Someone’s here.” Micah told her. “I gotta go.”
“Wait! But what about-“ She wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence. My bursting bladder? Me potentially peeing your bed?
“Sorry. That will have to wait.”
He disappeared through the door before she could even stand up. And of course, the door locked immediately after. Why couldn’t he just let her go?
Now that she stood by the door, Cordelia could make out voices downstairs. Some woman and… no, it couldn’t be.
The sprites fluttering in front of the door left little room for doubt about this being the correct house.
The untamed magic sage frowned. This meant any potential of the vampire bluffing had gone out of the window. Morgyn was unclear on how or why, but Cordelia was here, that much was certain.
Before the spellcaster could consider their next move, the door in front of them flung open, revealing a woman of an uncertain age smiling at them. She was pale, maybe even more than L Faba, and her delicate cheekbones were covered with cracks. The painting behind her looked oddly similar to her. It probably was made to her likeness, the sage realised.
“A house call? Oh how glorious!” She exclaimed with a grin.
Morgyn manufactured a smile of their own. “It was about time us spellcasters extended a greeting to the ancient vampires of Forgotten Hollow.”
“Spellcasters? Is that what you are?” She sounded curious.
Morgyn bowed, gently taking her hand into theirs, nearly touching her cold skin with their lips.
“Morgyn Ember, sage of untamed magic.” They introduced themselves without interrupting eye contact.
The woman ate it up.
“Untamed magic? Sounds wild!” She giggled.
“Oh it is, I assure you.” Morgyn purred. “I’m seeking the grand master vampire residing in this house. Or shall I say… mistress?”
“Oh, you came to see Verena?” The woman asked. “What a shame… just so you’re aware, while I may not be quite a grand master, my powers are not tremendously far from hers. The name is Delphine, by the way. Delphine Varoclier.”
What a waste of effort, Morgyn thought, but they didn’t make their irritation known. “Enchanted, Delphine. Now, would you be a treasure and bring me to the lady of the house? As much as it pains me not to be exclusively in your company…”
“Of course I can do that,” the woman batted her eyelashes at the sage. “If you just follow me through to the sunroom… I realise the paradox of a house filled with vampires having one of those. But it is still perfectly pleasant in the moonlight, I assure you…”
The spellcaster didn’t pay much attention to her babbling as they followed through the hallway.
Another pale woman was leaning on the glass window as they entered the room. Was this the grand master vampire, Morgyn wondered? She seemed oddly still.
“Just through here,” Delphine beckoned.
The sunroom was sparsely decorated, apart from a tall statue and an organ, all that was in the room was a table with a handful of chairs, a lounger and a strangely large number of venus flytraps.
“Verena, may I present Morgyn Ember, the sage of untamed magic. Morgyn, meet Verena Tuveri, last of her bloodline.” Delphine orchestrated the introductions.
Morgyn’s eyes followed in the direction of Delphine’s focus. A child. In appearance, at least. This was the grand master vampire Micah served?
“A sage? How moderately interesting.” The girl eyed him up and down. “To what do we owe this unexpected surprise?”
“I believe the real question we should be asking is why the realms of spellcasters and vampires have not intertwined up till now.” Morgyn replied smoothly. The grand master vampire was not what they expected, which was a nice surprise, but it was too early to get cocky.
“Yes, one may almost beg to question whether the so-called sages are rude, avoiding us so adamantly.” Verena said. She gestured towards the empty chair across from her. “Please, sit. We do observe common courtesy in this house.”
Morgyn ignored the insult. “Most hospitable.” They sage down at the table, glancing towards the glass.
A child with a wine glass was an odd sight, but naturally, if she was a grand master vampire, Verena had to be very old. Morgyn could sense the centuries looming in the room. Knowledge. And power. Different to their own, and perhaps not stronger, but not to be taken lightly.
“I’d be delighted to try some of the wine as well, if you’re offering.” The spellcaster said brightly, as the girl had not spoken.
Verena licked her lips slowly. “What makes you think it’s wine?”
Delphine chuckled from across the room. But it was the raven-haired woman leaning against the window that concerned Morgyn. She hadn’t moved at all since they entered the room, apart from her eyes. Her eyes were locked onto Morgyn. The venus fly traps behind her were surrounded with flies, the sage observed.
“I suppose I shall let you indulge on your own, then.” Morgyn attempted to recover.
“Enough with the pleasantries.” Verena cut to the chase. “You’d think as someone who’s centuries old I will have developed patience for nonsense like that, but the opposite is true. I have an infinite amount of time, but very little desire to spend it in idle chatter. So tell me, sage of untamed magic, why are you here?”
Through the corner of their eye, Morgyn noticed Micah enter the room at a rapid speed. The sage felt very aware of the fact they were outnumbered, regardless of whether the vampires’ strength matched their own or not.
“I have reasons to believe I may not be the only guest in your house.” Morgyn started cautiously. “I would dread to be considered unsociable, perhaps I could say hello to the rest of the company you’re keeping…”
“Guests?” Verena asked. “Those in present company are the only ones in the house. Unless of course you’re referring to yesterday’s dinner that I brought for darling Micah.”
She took a long sip from the glass in front of her. Morgyn did their best to hide their revulsion, but suspected they failed. Yesterday’s dinner… she couldn’t be dead, could she?
Micah was still in the room, but to the sage’s disappointment, he hadn’t let out a single sound.
For a moment, nobody spoke. The only sound was the appalling buzzing surrounding the venus flytraps in the corner of the room.
“It pains me to say that Micah is going through an unfortunate period of extended adolescence.” Verena finally broke the silence. “So being the ungrateful child he is, he hadn’t yet eaten his dinner. You’d think I’m trying to feed him brussels sprouts, not a beautiful young woman.”
She shot Micah a disapproving look, causing him to look down. Morgyn felt a brief surge of relief. Cordelia was alive, then.
“Now, from what I said, you may gather what this prey is to Micah – an act of defiance he’ll insist on, until he gets disciplined.” Verena continued. “And naturally, I know what she is to me, which is absolutely nothing. But what I’m curious about, sage of untamed magic, is what is she to you?”
Morgyn was painfully aware of the fact they were losing in this conversation. There was no point in beating around the bush.
“You’re asking what I’m willing to trade for her.” They said calmly. “But, while untamed magic has the potential to extend my life indefinitely, I have little insight into what may be of value to a being of your… life experience.”
Verena studied the sage’s face for a moment. “Untamed magic. Tell me about it.”
“The untamed magic school dedicates itself only to the most powerful and uncontrollable spells… by taking absolute control of the magical force.” Morgyn said, hoping to sound intimidating.
“Take control of the uncontrollable.” Verena finally appeared interested in what the sage had to say. “Please, do tell me more. What kinds of spells are you refering to?”
The sage hesitated. It seemed unwise to share the likes of Minionize, Necrocall or Duplicato with her. It was unlikely she’d somehow be able to get someone to perform them on her behalf, but telling a grand master vampire of a possible way to create an undead army seemed imprudent, even for Morgyn.
“For instance, spells that control the elements, spells that draw power from the beyond, or spells that defy aging. To name a few.” They decided to leave it at that.
“I see.” Verena took another sip of her revolting drink. “I could find a use for some of those, I’m sure.”
“What are you proposing?” Morgyn frowned. If she thought he was going to serve her, she was sorely mistaken.
“Teach me untamed magic. Give me the powers of a spellcaster.” She spoke plainly.
So she wanted the power for herself, not have someone carry spells out for her… even worse.
“Even if I wanted to do that, I couldn’t.” Morgyn told her. “You must gain favour from all three of the sages that rule the magic realm; the practical, the mischief, and the untamed. It is not in my power to grant you ascension alone.”
“I thought you said untamed magic was the most powerful of the schools, that you control the uncontrollable…” Verena pointed out.
Morgyn grew irritated. It was bad enough that they had to use the three sages card to decline her request, they didn’t need a reminder that certain matters simply couldn’t avoid the whole equilibrium of the three schools – as much as untamed magic was clearly the superior of them all.
“Even if I could hypothetically grant you ascension on my own, there is no way I would give that kind of power to a vampire.” They snapped.
“Then I’m afraid this visit has drawn to a close.” Verena said sharply, turning to that statue-like woman by the window. “Alba, will you escort our guest off the premises, please?”
“I’m quite comfortable showing myself out.” Morgyn interjected, standing up swiftly.
The sage could feel Verena’s gaze on them. They recognised the look all too well, it was the kind they’ve used plenty of times themselves. The undeniable gaze of someone who’s holding all the cards, and knows it’s only a matter of time until their opponent crawls back and gives them exactly what’s demanded of them…
But that wasn’t an option. Simeon and L Faba would never agree to it, and deep down, neither could Morgyn. Forget the magic realm being torn apart, a grand master vampire with untamed magic powers was exactly the kind of recipe for disaster that had the potential to blow up the entire world. Even as someone who had a penchant for defying the rules, Morgyn couldn’t deny that.
But what did that mean for Cordelia?
Between knowing that Morgyn was downstairs and her bladder being on the verge of bursting, it was simply impossible for Cordelia to sit still. Why was Morgyn here? Did they know she was here somehow? Or did they have other reasons to fraternise with vampires? As much as Cordelia wanted to imagine the sage was here to save her, it seemed hard to believe.
She heard the door opening. The delusional side of her hoped to see Morgyn in the doorway, whisking her away from here. But she didn’t dare succumb to that hope.
“Micah?” She called out.
“You, my dear, have just become far too important to be entrusted to the likes of Micah.”
It was the girl from the park. And the one she’d heard Micah talking to when she first woke up in this hell. The one the vampires called Verena.
“What- where is Micah?” Cordelia asked, dumbfounded.
“Have you not listened to a word I said?” Verena frowned. “This is precisely why I have no patience for mortals…”
From then on, everything was a blur.
Verena examined the girl’s unconscious body with a satisfied smile.
“Alba! Come here!” She called out. “I need you to help me move something!”
The other vampire materialised by her side swiftly. She looked at the body on the floor, and then at her maker.
“Where do you want me to take her, mistress?” Alba asked.
“Down to the catacombs.” Verena instructed her. “Lock her up, and keep guard at all times. And can I just stress that this one is strictly off limits.”
“Yes, mistress,” Alba nodded.
“Good. Do not disappoint me.” Verena said. “From now on, she is of the utmost value to me.”