Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sample Sunday: Kissed by Darkness Chapter 3c

Stayed tuned later today for an interview with author Norah Wilson. In the meantime, please enjoy another chunk from my upcoming urban fantasy novel, Kissed by Darkness. If you've missed my previous Sample Sunday postings, you can find them here:

Majicks and Potions was on the northeast side of town, sandwiched in between a used car lot and a burger joint. It was a ramshackle building with a huge Third Eye painted dead in the middle of the wall above the entrance and arcane symbols in day-glo colors scattered around the rest of it. It looked like it had barely survived an attack by spray paint.

The bell above the door jangled merrily as I entered the shop. That, at least, was normal. Nothing else was. Row upon row of shelves lined the room, jammed with crystals, colored glass bottles, bowls of candles, and gods knew what else.

The place reeked of incense and the stereo system was playing something I was pretty sure was a pan flute and wind chimes. Maybe even a gong in there somewhere. Chinese/Andes fusion gone horribly wrong. I like fusion music, but I wasn’t sure you could call this music. I winced as a dulcimer was added to the mix.

The shop was otherwise empty. No customers and no Eddie. Not even a bell to ring for service, so I decided to wander. There was a second room toward the back. It, at least, looked somewhat normal. Books, mostly, and a few packs of tarot cards, some CDs, DVDs and other knick knacks. The books were all on various spiritual and magical topics. I picked one up. Sex Majick: Majickal Spells and Potions for a Fulfilling Sex Life.

Hmm. Now there was something that might come in handy, if I actually had someone to have a sex life with. I slid the book back onto the shelf.

Maybe there was something in here about Sunwalkers. Doubtful, but one never knew. I quickly scanned the shelves. There was an entire section on mythical creatures. Lots of stuff on vampires. Most of it utter rot. Nothing at all on Sunwalkers. Too bad.

There were two doors along the wall to my right. I turned the knob on the first and pushed the door open carefully. Toilet. Always good to know where the nearest toilets are.

The second door led to a store room. Instead of the antique wood shelves out front, back here they were cheap metal and filled with boxes of unpacked goods. There was a proper work desk stacked high with books and papers, nearly drowning a PC that looked at least 10 years out of date.

Still no Eddie. I was starting to get a little concerned. People don’t just open up their shops and then leave. So, either Eddie was bloody stupid, or something was wrong. Maybe he knew I was there and was hiding or something. Yeah, right. I’m so scary. I gave myself a mental head slap.

I cleared my throat, “Ah, Mr. Mulligan? Eddie Mulligan? Cordelia Nightwing sent me. Eddie, are you here?”

A head popped down from the ceiling. I nearly let out a yelp. Fortunately for my sense of self-respect as a bad-ass-vampire-hunter, I held it back.

“Oh, hey,” said the head, “Didn’t hear anyone come in. Cordy sent you, huh? Haven’t seen her in awhile. Crystal ball must be working a treat. Be right down.” The head disappeared before being replaced by a pair of feet, followed by legs, and then the rest of what I presumed was Eddie Mulligan.

He dropped to the floor and turned to face me, dusting his hands off on his trouser legs. He was short. A good five inches shorter than me, and I’m not exactly tall. A fringe of curly gray hair surrounded a cherubic face, set off with a burgundy bow tie at his throat, which unfortunately clashed with his mustard yellow vest and olive green pants. He was either color blind, or he liked to make an impression.

“Mr. Eddie Mulligan?”

“Yep, that’s me,” he said, holding out his hand.

I took it. His grip was firm, but not hard. The grip of a man secure in himself and at one with the world. Cordelia was right. I could sense the gift in him as surely as I’d sensed it in her.

Eddie Mulligan was no ordinary human. “So, how can I help you? If Cordy sent you, it must be important,” he said, leading me out to the front of the shop.

“It is,” I assured him. “I’m looking for… well, a Sunwalker.” I was embarrassed to even say it out loud.

He went utterly still for a moment, then let out a little laugh. “Good one. Sunwalkers are extinct.”

“So, they did exist then?” I was on the right track, from the sound of things.

“Oh, yes indeed. Once upon a time.” He waved me to the front counter before ducking behind it.

“Can you tell me about them?”

His gaze was sharp on me, measuring me, judging me. Then with a little nod, he led me to the counter. From behind the counter he lifted out a package, wrapped in silk. He carefully unwrapped it to reveal an ancient book complete with leather cover and brass fittings. It was kind of what I always imagined the Doomsday book would have looked like.

“All right,” he said with a gentle smile, opening the cover, “Let’s see what this little baby has to say about your Sunwalkers.”

He flipped through the pages, sending dust flying everywhere. I sneezed. “Oh, sorry,” he gave me an apologetic smile. “I don’t consult the book too often. Most people are more worried about your average, run of the mill vampires, werewolves, that sort of thing. Not much call for Sunwalker info.” I wondered just exactly what sort of clientele Eddie Mulligan catered to. It was very rare that I ran across a civilian who knew such creatures were real. One who wasn’t bat shit crazy, anyway.

“Okay,” he stopped at a page with a sketch of a handsome, muscular man. He looked human, but it was obvious he wasn’t. The fangs sort of gave it away.

“That’s a Sunwalker?” He looked suspiciously like the guy I’d dreamed about last night, the knight with the ocean eyes.

“Yes, indeed,” he grinned up at me. I noticed his eyes were a slight almond shape. Might explain the huge section of books on Chinese folklore and dragons. I really hoped I wouldn’t need his help with any dragons.

“What does it say?”

His fingers ran down the page. “All right, according to legend, the Sunwalker is essentially a vampire that is able to withstand daylight.”

Great. I knew that much.

He continued, “It also says they are descendants of an ancient race that was destroyed long ago.”

“Does it say who they were? The ancient race, I mean.”

He shook his head. “No, it says nothing about this ancient race. Very interesting. I wonder…in any case, it says the last of the Sunwalkers was killed during the 1300s when the King of France slaughtered the Knights Templar.”

I blinked. That was not something I’d expected. “Excuse me? Did you say Knights Templar?” I swallowed hard. Surely my dream about the knight was just a coincidence.

“Yes, apparently the Knights were in league with the Sunwalkers. Protected them, something like that. The gods only know. In any case, when the Templars were killed off, so were the Sunwalkers. Not a single one has been seen in over 700 years.” He shut the book with a thump, sending up another dust cloud.

I sneezed again. “But I thought some of the Knights survived the Purge?” They certainly never mentioned Sunwalkers when they were talking about the Knights Templar in history class.

He shrugged and wrapped the book back up in its silk covering. “That’s the rumor, but no one really knows. It was such a long time ago. Records have been lost, truths have been covered up.” He frowned as he stuffed the book back under the counter. “I would have thought, though, that this book would tell the truth. It usually does.” His face brightened, “Then again, it has a mind of its own, most days.”

Riiiiight. “Sure. But theoretically, if some of the Knights Templar survived, a Sunwalker could have survived, too, right?”

He gave me a rather shrewd look, “Theoretically, yes. If any Knights truly survived, it’s entirely possible a Sunwalker could have survived as well, though one would have thought that there would be rumors of such a thing.”

“You don’t think he would have gone underground for 700 years?”

He laughed. “I wouldn’t have thought so.” He grew thoughtful. “Then again, the bloodlust could have been disguised as a vampire attack, if Sunwalkers have such a thing as bloodlust. And if he’d been careful not to turn anyone, then it would be less noticeable. No one’s exactly sure how the Sunwalker ability was passed, or if it could be passed. Some think they were an entirely different species from vampire, though the book says otherwise.”

I sighed, “Right, so how do I find this guy, if he exists? Look up Sunwalkers in the yellow pages? Take out an ad in the Oregonian, better yet, the Willamette Week?” I named the two biggest newspapers in Portland.

He threw his head back and laughter spilled in waves. There was almost a magic to it. Certainly nicer on the ears that whatever he was playing on the stereo. “Now that would be interesting, but no, I don’t think it works that way.”

“What then?”

He stroked his lower lip, “Well, you obviously won’t be able to count on the usual vampire haunts, seeing as how, if he exists, he can walk around in daylight.” This guy really knew how to state the obvious. “Your idea might not be that bad after all.”

“What, taking an ad?”

He chuckled, “Maybe not that exactly, but something similar. Imagine you are an ancient, mythical creature that’s been able to hide out for centuries without detection. Then some nosy person comes along and starts blabbing all over about looking for you. You might get a little nervous that her investigation would be heard about in certain circles, putting your very existence in jeopardy. What would you do about it?”

“Shut her up.”

He grinned, “Exactly. “

Great. I was about to go out and seriously piss off a centuries old Sunwalker. Yay, me.

No comments:

Post a Comment