Chapter Twenty: Inanna

     Depravity. It was in her blood, in the dark crimson blood of Lynoria.
     She glided on wisps of wind . . . invisible; effortless; ghost like; a wraith, but much more more powerful and cruel.  Dangerous, she was.  And now her prey hung like a slain animal . . . acid burned his heart, from a flask procured . . . tears from her enemies, and victims.  A vial of elixir.
     This vile stench of burnt flesh . . . Inanna craved it.  Her prey did not or could not struggle, as in a web.  He seemed captive to her bonds now.
     I can show you much more, she silently told him, through her mind’s thoughts.  A flash of light revealed the revelation.  Past sorrows; past amusements; all drowned in blood, in tears; and bewitching Inanna.  A queen of darkness and legendary sorceress of pain.
     She looked like Lynoria in many ways, only she glowed bone-white, and her hair was glistening white-silver.  So white and pale she was daemonic, and this showed, in her eyes.  They pulsated a red hue, red bat’s eyes in the dark, a true blood letter.  Lover of pain, misery, discord, and strife; bearer of all evils and unhallowed things – the sorceress Inanna.  Bow to the greatness of she.
     This man, meanwhile by now weakened by hunger and thirst, and drained by the physical tortures of her touch, could not see much save for the hint of a face of much sinister intent, whiter than white, and red glowing orbs for eyes.  The red was blood . . . yes, the colour of blood . . . he could no longer think; pain and suffering had reduced him to a mere puppet, hung by strings . . . the vile pestilence that ate his heart would kill him . . . the evil planted there by Lynoria, long ago.
     Meet my sweet sister, said she, Lynoria.  And now the vile sister Inanna blinded him with a great display of dark powers, a show of strength it was, but no mere showman was she . . .
     In the depths of his heart, Lynoria haunted him.  Confusion over a love turned to such hate, and the supernatural world that now terrified him.  She had shown him; he was lost and his soul was forever stained.  The terror of the heart is what Lynoria showed him; now the terror of the flesh is what Inanna was wont to do, for she weaved a web so skillfully that all save the dead could not resist, and, even that was no promise.
     It was so with these sisters and it would be for years to come.  The acquisition of more death would be procured in the attainment of their soon-to-be third sister, Elvira.
     She was the one they aspired to make their third charm.  Three sisters of sorrow, but not their own, for they would relish in the sufferings of others, and strengthen their powers by the witch-led blood moon’s invocations – a triple Goddess of fear and pain, a trio of vampires, legendary, profligate.
     Inanna, she found a place with Lynoria, ages of time to find a suitable evil to match her own, and now they would add the third soon; together they would be more grave, more cruel, than even the dark Goddesses of the reknown east – those black and sinister echoes of aberrations best left unspoken of.  Three Vampire Sisters, united by darkness. Only the strongest, the bravest, the purest, could defeat them, and even then, there would be a price to pay.
     In the world of shadows, the man was already dead.  But he wrote everything he knew, etched in the stones of the walls of a dungeon, he wrote, with only a crude athame that he had found fashioned out of rough quartz left behind by another captive, most likely a witch or warlock themselves – and he left behind what we know of the prophecies of Inanna and what was and what will come when the joining is complete.  Then Balaaton will come, the vampire Prince of shadows, will come to his minions and complete the task of annihilation . . .

(From the Book of Balaaton; Maleficar Prophecies, Chapter VI. Read by Leon on the night of the reckoning.)

* * *

     In the world of shadows, Stephane was already a wraith himself, but a thing left to torture.  Lynoria, gliding on evil winds, knew she could have more.  He was only the beginning of her perverse adventures of pleasure.  And Thomas?  Poor Thomas’ life was like his art.  Short-lived.  Her first to take.
     Unbeknownst to us, Lynoria called on the primeval sister Inanna, to bring forth darkness upon the land.  The earth grew colder, and everywhere that Inanna walked, death followed.  Birds fells from trees; the lakes became foul; skies receded into black which once were blue and beautiful, like the hues of heaven.
     The two unholy sisters smiled on this.  So dark and foggy was the surrounding area permeating the mansion grounds that we feared to tread too closely.
     To remedy such obscure and tenebrous confusion, we each carried a torchierre, and no one was to separate, for we knew Lynoria was our most formidable foe.  A dark queen of pestilence, no princess, no mistress of the night, but a veritable lure of evil.
     I said a quiet prayer.  On Raven’s forehead I anointed a drip of blessed waters from my fingertip, and as I did so he caught my hand in his and instinctively I brought my lips to his forehead, unthinkingly.  He backed away a bit – but I did not stir.  It is true I was becoming more fond of him with each passing day, and wasn’t it he who held my hand the night we had spent in the field full of flowers?  I sighed, as if the remembrance of their fragrance wafted on the air, and he looked at me with a deep look, a look of deep and thoughtful appreciation.
     He still held onto my hand and did not look away, then let me go, left me standing there looking at him, with a strange silence I had not known before, a silence that whispered an emotion that once stirred long ago, and now was back again.  A strange kind of love, a haunting desire.  I looked at him and knew.  Then I looked away and realised this was no game.  This was really happening.  No simple matter.  Not a crush from afar.  And Raven, because his race was not allowed to mingle with ours, traditionally as it were, could not ever speak of it, but here we were now, with this new knowledge, and I would have to try to fight it, knowing I would not be able to.
     Things had progressed to this point now, and I knew that my life had changed forever.  I loved his very soul, as alien as it was to mine, we were now conjoined by that touch, that small show of affection. It had changed everything.
     And Leon, by now, had joined us.  He too felt a conviction tonight, in our unity.  His brother who had such promise, a long life ahead of him, now was gone.  Leon drew up his crossbow and vowed revenge, both for his brother and his ancestor Thomas, who had been the harbinger of this all, who had been the first to fall.  He would destroy the evil that had cut both short in their prime, before they came for him too.
     The night sky was dangerous to observe, thunder shook the hills now.  Lightning illuminated dark clouds like unhallowed orbs of Lynoria’s eyes.  Raven looked to me, remarking on the keen similarity of my ancestor.
     “It is a horrid thing to ponder,” I said, “that our countenance can be so much entwined.”
     But Raven only shrugged.  He assured me that despite this, I was nothing like her, but that he only remarked on the distinct beauty of our features, the unique colouring of skin and eyes and lips, our hair, long and wisp like, like soft silk.  He meant no harm by it.  He looked at me and his look broke my heart – it was the look of a man who was alien to intense love, as he lived a solitary life and had never known many women.  He looked at me and I felt only anguish for him, and anguish that we were born to different races. It would not be an easy route, ours.  He had meant nothing harmful by what he said, he had only wanted to bespeak of my beauty, but was not too sure how to go about such things.  He had the heart of a poet, this one, despite that he was a hunter by race.  He said nothing more.
     Leon, meanwhile, following us both to the mansion, did not hesitate at all in his sure steps, with no seeming vigilance.  The flask of brandy wine was kept handy, but he was not drunk.  He could do no such thing.  Ready was he, now, and not about to lose the fight.
     I pointed to a window on the third floor of the mansion, a shapeless illusion of white.
     “Can that there be Lynoria?”
     Both men looked up and at that moment, a cruel pair of inhuman red eyes glowered at us.  Unfeeling.  Unsightly.  Those eyes seemed to draw us in and provoke us, dared us to come forth.  The entrance to the mansion was shut, barred by some invisible force, but from behind it a thousand cries were heard, as if in great sorrow.
     “She is not alone,” said Raven.
     I remembered the prophecies read earlier to us, and I cringed.  No, she was not alone, the other one was there with her, and they were waiting, for me.

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