Micah’s new coffin snapped open as darkness descended on Glimmerbrook. He arose in this new room, where nothing was his, and yet it did belong to him, according to Morgyn. It looked very impersonal, so different from his former room back at Verena’s manor.
He scanned the room for a wardrobe, and searched the drawers for something to wear.
It was hard to believe that it had been less than 24 hours since his life had turned upside down. But the exact moment was still fresh in his mind. Morgyn leaving the conservatory, after their failed attempt to negotiate Cordelia’s freedom with Verena.
And the tiniest subtle nod the sage gave him as they exited the room.
Subtle enough to go unnoticed by Verena – she was too busy gloating about the manoeuvre she had pulled. But Micah caught it, and understood what it meant instantly. The sage was willing to comply with Micah’s terms.
Which sent him down a spiral of agonising over what to do. Everything he had learned about Morgyn up till then screamed to distrust them. Was this really worth risking everything for?
But the promise of their powerful blood was tempting. Knowledge that could perhaps even bring him back to the living… And perhaps a promise of something else, but that hardly mattered in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, Verena had her right hand lock Cordelia up in the catacombs before Micah could make up his mind. And then the commotion with the mischief sage ensued.
From there on out, Micah’s decision was simple. With Verena temporarily incapacitated, it was obvious there were going to be consequences as soon as she got back to her former self. And Micah would be the primary target of her revenge. There was no way he was sticking around for that.
Up until the last moment, Micah was not sure if Morgyn would hold up their end of the bargain, especially as the sage led him to the duelling grounds. But they did honour the unspoken promise, and the experience matched no other time Micah had known while feeding.
But what had he really learned? That the sage was powerful, perhaps too powerful for someone who wasn’t fully immortal. Micah sincerely hoped that Morgyn had learned to control their powers better since the events he’d seen in the spellcaster’s memories. But as for Micah’s deepest desire, the sage’s blood hadn’t shown him any answers.
But not everything was lost. He was clearly in Morgyn’s good graces, he had a roof over his head, and he’d saved an innocent mortal in the process of it all.
He wondered if Cordelia had come to the house while he slept through the day. Sure, Morgyn said they intended for her to share the house with Micah, but the vampire could not imagine any reason she’d want to. She’d likely want to get herself as far from this place as possible, and Micah couldn’t blame her.
The house did look beautiful though, Micah had to admit. It was smaller than what he’d grown accustomed to during his time with the coven, but much brighter and airier.
From how well put together everything was, it was obvious nobody had been in during the day. Even the sofa cushions were arranged in a perfect row. For the first time in years, Micah was on his own. It felt strangely freeing.
But was he really free? If he stayed in this house, he would be in Morgyn’s debt. Kind of like how Verena got Alba wrapped around her little finger. Alba. Micah shuddered at the thought of her. There was no way he’d become like her.
He exited onto the porch. The air smelled like the forest, and he could hear the tree leaves rustling in the wind. Thea area did seem lovely… but he couldn’t really stay, could he?
First things first, Micah needed to sort out dinner, he reminded himself. The thirst wasn’t very strong in him that night, he still felt fairly satiated from drinking the sage’s blood just before dawn. But going the night without feeding at all would be reckless. One person should do the trick, though, he figured.
He walked along the house, towards the shed at the back. There was a movement. Perhaps sourcing prey would be more straightforward than he’d thought.
It was that elf. The one who had come with the mischief sage and yelled at everybody. The one the mischief sage turned Verena into a gnome over. Definitely not a sensible source of blood, then, considering how close the mischief sage resided, Micah figured.
Not that the elf gave him much time. As soon as he spotted Micah, he turned around and headed straight back into the tree passage he had come from.
Micah wondered where it led to. But the elf clearly didn’t want to be pursued. So he shrugged it off, and carried on with his hunt instead.
The path was almost as deserted as Forgotten Hollow could often be, but he finally spotted a potential victim on a nearby bridge.
The young man hadn’t seen him coming. They never did. It was too easy…
His blood surprised him. He was arrogant, entitled, never really had to struggle to achieve anything. His view of the world was so narrow… but he was so in love. Micah could barely remember what that felt like. He wasn’t sure he wanted to remember. And yet, it wasn’t easy to pull himself away, away from that feeling he didn’t even know he’d missed…
He finally managed to draw his teeth out, letting go of the man, watching him fall to the ground. It was a good thing Morgyn’s blood from last night had been potent enough to curb his thirst tonight.
A flash of light appeared behind Micah. Speak of the devil, he thought, turning around to look. Sure enough, it was Morgyn that materialised before him.
The spellcaster’s gaze briefly went to the unconscious Darrel. Micah was about to say that the man was still breathing, and that he’d be just fine, but the sage didn’t seem all that concerned in the first place.
“Tell me, is Darrel any good?” Morgyn asked casually. “I’ve always wondered.”
“He’s… very single-minded.” Micah said. He wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of sharing the man’s private feelings with someone else. “Let’s get out of here before he wakes up.”
“Your wish is my command.” And with another flash, they appeared back by the house. It was so quick Micah barely had a chance to notice what was happening. But there they were, by the front entrance.
“I trust you’re settling in well?” Morgyn carried on as if their conversation hadn’t just been interrupted by the swift teleportation.
“It’s a nice house.” Micah said evasively. “Don’t know about settling.”
“Have you seen Cordelia?” The sage asked. Now this was different. The way the spellcaster said it was nonchalant, but Micah detected a hint of concern in their voice. Figures. The vampire assumed Morgyn would have known where she was.
“She hadn’t been to the house.” He informed them. “Told you she wouldn’t want a vampire roommate.”
For a split second, Morgyn’s face almost seemed troubled, but the expression vanished almost in an instant – a mortal probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all, but it was there.
“She might be with that elf.” Micah volunteered. “He’s her friend, I gather? The mischief sage’s servant?”
“No idea.” Micah shrugged. “The elf that was in your headquarters when I brought her here. Yells a lot.”
“Sounds like Dandelion,” Morgyn smirked. “Yes, that would make sense.”
“She’s probably down through that tree passage,” Micah speculated. “That’s where the elf went, anyway.”
“Tree passage?” Morgyn raised an eyebrow.
“Through the big tree at the back?”
“Ah. Sylvan Glade.” Morgyn said with a nod, as if that was supposed to mean something to Micah.
“I’m guessing you’re going to go check on her?” It wasn’t really a question. Presumably, that was why the sage was here in the first place.
“No.” Morgyn surprised him. “She needs time.”
“I doubt time will make her more eager to move in with me.” Micah snickered. “Doesn’t matter. I won’t be staying. She can have the house.”
Morgyn studied his face. “And where else will you go, exactly?” Their tone was dry, almost mocking.
“I’ll think of something.” Micah wasn’t deterred. “Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted by… everything you’re offering. But I wasn’t born yesterday. Everything comes with strings attached. If I stay in this house, you’ll practically own me.”
“And your vampire mistress in the coven didn’t own you?” Morgyn retorted. “What’s the difference?”
That was a simple question to answer. “The difference is that with Verena, I didn’t have a choice.”
His response didn’t seem to throw Morgyn off balance. “See? I’m giving you a choice. I’ve already surpassed your maker on that account.” The spellcaster grinned.
And they weren’t quite done with their pitch.
“I’m willing to give you a home, and share some of my knowledge that you’re so interested in, much like your mistress did.” The sage listed the benefits one by one. “But unlike her, I’ll not tell you what to do.”
Like Micah would believe that. “What’s the catch?”
“Why would there ever be a catch?” Morgyn said sweetly. “Tell you what, I’ll give you a taste of that mortal life you miss so much. Name one place from the past that you loved to go to before you became a vampire, and I’ll take you there. Anywhere in the world.”
Micah hesitated. “Anywhere?”
“Anywhere,” the sage confirmed. “Let’s call it a little date. Anywhere good you’d suggest?”
The vampire tried to refrain from thinking back on his time in San Myshuno too much. But drinking Darrel’s blood and seeing the man’s love for his fiancée brought up those long-lost human sentiments.
“The old botanical gardens in San Myshuno.” He told the sage.
“Perfect.” Morgyn’s smile grew wider. “It’s a date.”