Cordelia’s eyes lingered on the sprites as she listened to the gentle strokes of the paintbrush sweeping across the canvas. She wasn’t sure why she found watching Micah paint relaxing, but she did. After all, she even managed to fall asleep at the vampire manor when she watched him paint. But she didn’t want to think back on that time.
The sound of the brush stopped. She tore her eyes from the sprites to look at his painting. Looked like he was done.
Another tree. Ominous looking one this time – she much preferred the cherry tree he’d painted before that. This was the third tree to make it to his canvas. It didn’t seem like he’d painted anything else since moving in. Cordelia had plenty of time to examine his art back in his room in Forgotten Hollow, but she didn’t recall noticing any trees then. What was with this new obsession, she wondered?
He turned around, walking over to her. She drew her knees closer to her chest. It was one thing to watch the vampire from the distance, but she still got a bit nervous every time he got near her.
He glanced at the sprites, then looked down at her. “The floor can’t be comfortable.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.” She said quickly.
He turned to the stairs, probably about to head out. Cordelia didn’t want to think about where he was going – the options were either hunting for prey, or seeing Morgyn. Both of them made her stomach turn.
“Micah… can I ask you something?”
He stopped in his tracks, giving her a small nod.
“You paint this tree a lot. Or a tree, at least. Is it all the same one?”
The vampire sighed. “Yes. It’s been on my mind lately. One of those thoughts you can’t shake….” His eyes wandered around, as if he was looking for an excuse to change the subject. His gaze landed on the fae fluttering around them. “Maybe I should paint you instead. The sprite girl.”
The sprite girl. Cordelia’s hands instinctively shot to the scar on her face. It has been some time she heard those words.
She realised Micah sat down on the floor next to her. Why? Wasn’t he going out?
“What’s wrong?” He asked. His voice was soft. Kind, almost? But he couldn’t be kind, she knew that. Still, she had to give him some sort of answer to explain her odd behaviour. It wasn’t like he meant anything by those words.
“I… I’ve been called that in the past. The sprite girl. The crazy girl. Regular humans don’t see the sprites, you see. So people just thought…” Cordelia didn’t finish her sentence. She felt stupid. It wasn’t a big deal. “It’s silly. Kids are mean, but I know it’s nothing.”
Micah frowned. “Does this have anything to do with how you got that scar?”
Cordelia looked away. How did he know? “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.” He looked into her eyes.
Why was he being so nice to her? Guilt, maybe, Cordelia thought. Still, sitting on the floor with him like this, she could almost forget that he was a vampire. Almost. But he was. He went hunting every night. But he didn’t kill…
“Micah… You know what you said about feeding on people, but only a little bit, to make sure they survive?” She changed the subject.
“I’ve told you I’m not going out on murder sprees.” He said firmly. “Your friends in Glimmerbrook are safe, well, as safe as they can be with a vampire about.”
The odd thing was she actually believed him. He made her feel uneasy sometimes, well, most of the time, but maybe he really wasn’t dangerous, or at least, not deadly? Not to her, and not to those in Glimmerbrook. Not that they would be as easily convinced. She thought back on Grace’s worry, back when she visited her friend’s house.
“I know,” Micah suddenly seemed more distant. Bitter. Was her face so easy to read? “I wouldn’t trust me either. And you’re right not to.”
“It’s not that.” Cordelia interrupted him. “Well, it is. I just… Glimmerbrook is filled with spellcasters. If word gets around that there’s a vampire feeding on people… They might not understand that you’re trying to spare them.”
Micah tilted his head back, letting out a surprisingly hearty laugh. “Are you scolding me about leaving witnesses behind?”
She couldn’t help but giggle herself. It was all a bit ridiculous, of course.
“Well, no… obviously, I… I just thought you should be careful.”
He just seemed amused now. “Don’t worry about it. The people I drink from don’t remember. I use something called vampiric allure. At least when it comes to… people who aren’t exactly giving their blood willingly.”
Giving their blood willingly? What was that supposed to mean? Surely nobody would offer a vampire their blood. Cordelia couldn’t think of any scenario when that would ever happen, at least. But she didn’t ask. “Vampiric allure?” She queried the other unknown instead.
“It’s like this red cloud of mist I can summon.” Red mist? The only red thing she recalled that sounded like that was that glow that erupted from him when he came to her in the catacombs… But that was no mist. A feeling of dread filled her at the memory. She tried to focus on his words instead.
“Anyone who gets near the mist will get into a trance of sorts.” Micah carried on with his explanation. “They’ll not remember anything about me feeding on them when they get back to their senses.”
That would explain why she couldn’t remember anything about a red mist… Not that he’d fed on her. But then, there was no mist back in the park when the other vampire did. The child just pierced right into her throat…
“Are you sure they don’t remember? I remember when the little girl… Verena…” Cordelia couldn’t quite finish the sentence.
“You remember Verena feeding on you because Verena doesn’t use vampiric allure to daze people.” Micah explained. Something about his tone seemed unsettling, but she couldn’t put a finger on what it was.
The vampire hesitated for a moment before answering. “She doesn’t exactly need to worry about what her prey will or will not remember.”
She turned away from him as the realisation dawned on her. Apart from her, there likely weren’t many people who had an encounter with Verena and made it out alive…
Cordelia had heard enough. She could sit here and pretend they weren’t so different, the two of them, and even briefly forget he was undead, but at the end of the day, he was one of those monsters. She believed him that he wouldn’t harm her, or the Glimmerbrook residents, but they were nothing alike.
“I… I better get to bed.” She muttered.
He jumped up to his feet just as quickly as she did, but she flew straight through her bedroom door, closing it behind her before the sprites would follow. They’d find their way in soon enough, she knew, but at least she could try to get a minute of peace.
If she didn’t know better, she’d almost think Micah looked sad as she shut the door into his face.
Of course, sad in his annoyingly poised brooding elegant way, not the ungraceful way Cordelia knew she looked when she was upset. It wasn’t difficult for her to see why Morgyn picked him over her.
But thinking about Morgyn was no better than thinking about all of this vampire business, she thought bitterly. And thinking about Morgyn and Micah together was worse yet.
Micah was struggling to focus. His mind kept wondering all over the place. Not that Morgyn particularly seemed to be paying him much attention either, now that the exciting part of their night together was over.
“I’m thinking about taking a little trip.” The sage broke the silence.
“Oh?” Micah wasn’t sure where they were going with this.
“I made a promise to Cordelia. Promise that I would try to help with her little sprite issue.”
The spellcaster’s words didn’t seem to explain much. Obviously Micah was aware Cordelia was less than keen on those sprite things, as if his conversation with her earlier that night wasn’t still fresh in his mind. But what did that have to do with anything?
“I’m not sure I’m following. Are you taking a trip with Cordelia?” Micah joked. But his laughter died down as quickly as it started when he saw Morgyn’s expression.
“Wait, you’re serious?” The vampire frowned, looking into Morgyn’s eyes.
“Does that bother you?” Morgyn said with a slight smirk. “Do you think I shouldn’t help her with her sprites?”
Micah was in no mood for mind games. “You know that’s not what I said.” He scooted over to the side of the bed, scanning the floor for his clothes. “I’m gonna take off.”
Morgyn rolled over onto to their side, reaching out for him, but Micah avoided their touch. “Don’t be like that, Micah.”
“Like what?” Micah snapped. “What am I being like?”
“I could name a few things… But why don’t you tell me?” The sage attempted to extend an olive branch halfway through the sentence, but that just made Micah angrier.
“I guess I’m confused.” He gritted through his teeth. “Where did this come from? You’ve not mentioned the sprites up till now, why the sudden concern?”
“I have a lot on my mind. Why would I burden you with all of my concerns?” Morgyn asked. Micah couldn’t decide if the sage was being sincere or patronising. Probably the latter.
“I suppose it’s nice to know you’re helping someone.” He said sarcastically.
“I see. You’re jealous of me dedicating time to Cordelia’s issue, not me whisking her away per say.” Morgyn said slowly, propping themselves up to draw closer to Micah.
In truth, it was a bit of both, but Micah would be damned to let Morgyn know that. Especially now.
“Don’t flatter yourself.” He refused to look at the sage as he spoke. “All of these… extracurriculars are fun, but I think we’ve established from the start that I’m mainly interested in your knowledge. Not that you’ve enlightened me with much of that…”
“Mainly?” Morgyn grinned, but their smile fell at the sight of Micah’s irritation. “Micah, what makes you think this trip won’t benefit you both? I am quite capable of focusing on more than one thing.”
“The hell? Please don’t tell me you’re planning on having the three of us taking a field trip together?” Micah scoffed at the sage.
“No.” The sage replied, brushing against Micah’s hand gently. “I can’t take you with me into the Selvadoradian sun. You’d turn into a pile of ash before we reached the temple. But it would be imprudent to go on my own…”
“Wait. You’re going to that temple? The place of power?” Micah suddenly struggled to articulate what he was thinking.
“You need answers, Cordelia needs answers, and I could certainly use a bit more knowledge.” Morgyn confirmed. “An ancient place of power is certainly a good bet for all those things, don’t you think? And since our little bloody exchange at the duelling grounds reminded me that the place existed…”
A million thoughts about the temple flew through Micah’s mind all at once, but for some odd reason, the one that actually made its way out of his mouth was the most benign one. “You want to take Cordelia into some kind of an ancient temple? She’s not built for that…”
“Aww, is she growing on you?” Morgyn taunted, their lips curling into a grin.
“She can break easily.” Micah frowned, remembering carrying her out of the catacombs. She felt like a ragdoll in his arms.
“Surely that’s up to her to decide.” The sage shrugged. “Not to mention she’ll be with the sage of the untamed…”
Micah thought of his chat with Cordelia earlier in the evening. She didn’t mention anything about going away… of course she didn’t. “Damn it, Morgyn, does she even know about any of this yet? Or are you waiting till you’ve finalised your itinerary, maybe booked a tour or two?”
Morgyn ignored Micah’s sarcasm. “Oh, don’t worry about that. She will be thrilled.”