No one will believe me, I know, but I hadn’t said a word nor moved a muscle when Momma turned to me and said, “None of that, Jackie Boy. Nothing wrong with a boy’s mother knowing a thing or two, is there?”
I shook my head dutifully. Seriously, how the heck does she do that? It’s like she reads minds or something…
Momma motioned for me to join her so I got to my feet and did so. She pointed at the book. At first, the page was blank then writing slowly appeared. For a moment it was gibberish but then I could just read it. The words were a strange combination of letters and pictographs unlike anything I’d ever seen before, but after a moment I could read it as well as any English book I’d ever picked up. Weirdness beyond the normal weirdness I was beginning to grudgingly get used to.
The first bit was a story about a slayer named Allegro in the 1500’s. He’d discovered a pack of werewolves underneath a Benedictine monastery. Hilarity ensued as the poor guy tried to exterminate the werewolves while one of the monks tried to convert him to Catholicism from Protestantism. It ended with the monk following him into the lair and inadvertently exorcising the whole pack.
Allegro dutifully converted – sort of – since the monk had won their bet – accidentally. One of the exorcised werewolves attached himself to the monastery and another attached himself to Allegro. At that point, things got interesting. Both werewolves spoke of a slayer they called ‘Leader’ who had commanded the pack to house themselves under the monastery. Both insisted it wasn’t the Master of the Night (the one that stayed with the monastery swore he’d met the Master on one occasion – one being one too many for him) but that he had been in complete command.
Allegro didn’t think it was possible. But the reason was that he’d met a command type slayer himself and knew that they could only command other slayers, not creatures. To settle the matter, Allegro and his new best friend the ex-werewolf set off to Milan to meet up with that slayer. They didn’t get far before they met Tresmayne and a slayer named Wilhelmina, also going to Milan and also looking for that one slayer. Wilhelmina was herself a command type, but she could command creatures. Evidently, there were two kinds of command type slayers.
The story started to tell itself from Allegro’s point of view. “In the wee hours of the new morning, I started to sense a new presence. I woke M’nor (the ex-werewolf) with my foot. He, seeing my intent, woke the lady. She spoke not a word, but silently nodded to me, once her wits were about her. She too, sensed our new companion. T’was no friendly sensation, I will say. The moon had set and light was dim but such as we needed no light. I gave a low whistle so that Tresmayne might be alerted but of course, ancient as he was, he already knew. He’d not transformed yet, with no Mistress there, he could not, but came into our camp in his fiendish state.
I cannot but tell what happened next for I faint would not believe myself, had I not the experience to teach me. Never before had wolves crept upon me without my knowledge but in a flash, there they were. Five of the fiends and every one would the lady’s blood partake. M’nor, still possessed of the fiendish strength if not the wolf, struck first, a killing blow to the passing head. I struck another. Tresmayne tore two more with tooth and claw. The lady ran the fifth through herself.
We scarce had time to breathe before three more fell upon us. And so it continued until the sun rose and Tresmayne passed back into his humanity. Fifteen were the number of corpses we buried. Greatly troubled, we continued for Milan.”
Allegro continued his tale. It was very similar to my own, with multiple attacks from nowhere and no enemy presenting himself. They reached Milan but things got worse. Two assassination attempts, one which left Wilhelmina badly wounded and a plague caused by some really nasty vampires. They finally managed to corner and capture a vampire that actually knew something. They went to the location the vampire had given them and got a shock. They found a third command type slayer. He couldn’t command Tresmayne (who was under the Mistress’ command) but could command creatures. At a critical moment, he managed to command Allegro.
That was when Wilhelmina also commanded Allegro, preventing him from carrying out the other slayer’s command. Tresmayne was sent for reinforcements while Allegro and company slaughtered a pack of werewolves and a council of vampires (the term for a group of powerful vampires. Who knew?). Wilhelmina managed to catch the slayer but touching him burned her hand and his arm where she grabbed him. He gloated that he was stronger than she was, since she was still recovering from her wounds, so he would live when the sun rose (yeah, all slayer battles are at night – big surprise, huh?) and she would die.
I’ll let Allegro tell the rest. “I scoffed at the villain. ‘Knave’ said I, ‘how shall you pass we three, for M’nor and Ceasar were with us, to reach her?’ He laughed, ‘Know you not, witling, that two such as we cannot tread the Earth together more than seven year? She herself signed her death warrant when e’re she emerged. For the stronger shall live and the weaker die, so says the Great Book. This is the beginning of the day of her emergence, lo these seven years ago. She is the weaker for the loss of so much blood. Tis enough, her weakness from exsanguination is greater than mine of age’. Indeed, he was great with age and long had it been since color had graced his head.
T’was not enough time to cry alas e’re the dawn came. But the old man had been wrong for it was he, not milady Wilhelmina, that fell dead at the touch of the first rays of the sun. In wonder, we departed.”
It went on to say that the three slayers decided to hold their peace until they saw the Mistress, and that Allegro and Wilhelmina had five sons and two daughters. I stopped reading and looked at Momma.
She nodded, “You’re not a command type – you’re a commander type. It doesn’t happen but once every five or six centuries and usually, only one at a time. There must be another one.”