Excerpt, Unholy Testament - The Beginnings, Book2 In The Blackstone Vampires Series
Promo May 30 - June 5
"The magic that was Egypt in those days was a thing truly to behold. This exotic jewel of the desert was kissed by many gods. Their god, Osiris, was the Nile and his wife, Isis, was Egypt. And when the river overflowed its banks, the land bore fruit for it was blessed. That blessing brought forth the first harvests.
I journeyed throughout the land, admiring the great pyramids that had begun to be erected. Do you know how beautiful it was to watch the sunset over those majestic structures; to see the sand turn to dark amber under a purple sky? Its beauty was beyond words. And because I was so drawn to that beauty, I decided to dwell in the desert for a time. I loved being there. I thought of the night sky and often dreamt under it, counting the stars and probably wishing upon them as well.
I came upon them one star filled night. I saw two figures crouched in the semi-darkness, feasting on some dumb animal they caught, a deer, I think. Suddenly they became aware of my presence. They sprang at me, first one and then the other—each in turn biting into my neck. I brushed them aside as I would a fly.
“No!” I cried. “I am made of stronger stuff! I am like you, though I am indestructible!”
I think the girl believed me but not the boy. He kept attacking me. I merely pushed him away. Suddenly the girl cried out and several vampires appeared. They growled and grimaced and tried to scare me off for they hadn’t yet decided how dangerous I was.
Most of them stood back, only one or two inched forward as if to test me, daring me to attack first. I knew they were measuring my response.
Suddenly, another being appeared; I say ‘being’ because these others were lowly next to her. I thought she was either a goddess or a priestess of some kind for her bearing was regal. There, in the light of the moon, I beheld her face. She was the most magnificent creature I had ever seen, perfect in form and—more alluring than any wench I had ever bedded. She was dressed simply in white linen with no adornments or I’d have thought her a princess.
I opened my mouth to speak but she put up a hand, stilling my tongue. Then she stepped closer to appraise me more carefully. I thought she’d attack me but she didn’t. Instead, she fell to her knees and then, with her arms stretched forward, she bowed in obedience for she knew she had met a greater being than herself.
At last she glanced up at me. “I am Ankata, your servant.”
*She was, I realized, the mistress of a coven, whatever she called herself. In reality, she was only the head of a coven of snarling, raggedy looking vampires.
She shooed them away and laughed. I had never heard such a pleasing sound. It was musical, like the song of a bird.
“They will be alright, they can be grumpy.” She motioned for me to follow her. “In here,” she said, pointing toward a cave. It seemed to stretch endlessly. She turned her head once or twice to smile at me. “Not much further…”
I remember thinking how safe it seemed, safe and deliberately so, hidden away from the world of the living.
At last we reached the living quarters. “Father and I live here.”
There were great clusters of candles and all manner of adornments—statues and vases. I think I gasped whereupon she smiled. “It is our home.”
“And magnificent it is, too.” I replied.
And it was, for it looked fit for royalty. It was remarkable, spacious and furnished with sofas and chairs. It was quite amazing. She began to speak but paused for her father had entered. Now, for the first time, I beheld a most spectacular being. He was tall and slender, his head shaven as if he were a priest. At first I thought he was, but then I took a good look at his apparel.
This was no ordinary man. He was dressed as an aristocrat. He wore the traditional kalarsiris robe belted over a loin skirt. He was most imposing, yet what was truly eye-catching was his collar which was actually a scarab of turquoise and gold, fashioned beautifully. As he came closer, I found I nearly backed away! It was his eyes. Not only were they large and dark, their expression was so intense, I nearly squirmed.
Suddenly Ankata asked: “Why do you come, Eco?”
I knew I had not told her my name—yet she knew it.
I nodded. “Yes,” I replied. “I am Eco.”
She was watching the fearful being that was her father. “My father, Imtep.”
He smiled then. His darkly piercing eyes seemed to soften a bit when he did. I think he was amused at my discomfiture. Then in one smooth motion, he sank to his knees. Ankata looked overcome. I was overwhelmed. “Please, I am not a god; I am a different sort of being…” I said.
“From the light world…”
He looked at me knowingly. “Yes, the slaves tell a story of beings from the light world and of their leader who was banished to where the dead are eaten…”
This was a reference to what they believed—a concept of Hell where the dead are consumed.
“There was a great battle in the light world and my father…”
Imtep nodded. “Was exiled for all eternity.”
“Yes. It is interesting. And you pay too for this indiscretion.”
“Yes, I am his son.”
“And a loyal child…” He stopped speaking and looked at his daughter. I saw tears in his eyes.
Ankata sighed. “Father is thinking of my death… I am a creature of the night…”
“I raised her up from death,” Imtep declared.
I was shocked, for I had never heard of such a thing. Not from a human’s action, I hadn’t. I stammered, for I wished to know more.
Imtep nodded. “I am a sorcerer, a conjurer-magician to Pharaoh.” He looked sad when he said this. “Pharaoh’s son murdered my daughter.”
He was to tell me that Pharaoh’s son raped Ankata and when she resisted, he killed her.
“And those creatures are her coven…?”
He nodded. “They serve her loyally and always shall.” He bade me sit. “Sit and sup on blood and wine. Just the right balance makes the body ripe for love.” Even then, Imtep knew my heart. “I approve of your desires, Eco. Ankata can please you.”
I had no doubt that she could.
And so she did. The night I coupled with her was the longest night of my existence thus far. We drank of each other’s blood and saw each other’s existences.
When I tasted hers, I saw her life and then her terrible suffering and death. I saw the face of the prince who had defiled her. I saw her brief sojourn through Hell—I saw, too, the demons and devils she would call the evil gods. She fed on my own blood for a long time, it seemed. And as she did I had fancies—desires of what I wished to do to her and with her.
The night and our passion went on. It only ended when we lay in each other’s arms and she asked me for my magic.
At first I didn’t understand, but then I did. She wished to become a being like myself; a true immortal. I told her it was impossible. “We are different,” I said.
She wept when I told her where our differences lay. You see, she thought my blood would make her magical in the way that I am, but it didn’t and when she realized that, she accepted it gracefully. “I am not as you and never shall be.”
“No, I cannot be destroyed whereas…”
“I and those like me can.”
We sat for hours contemplating all that had happened. And just before dawn I gave her the gift I give to all who need it, I gave her wolfbane. “This is for you and all like you, Ankata. Its magic is powerful, so enabling it is almost like being alive again.”
Now, for the first time, I was in love. I made devout declarations of that love. I swore I would never leave her and I meant it.
Please understand the passion in my heart, Rose. I was like one possessed. I was deeply and profoundly in love!
Because she had seen and felt my existence through my blood, she had many questions. I did my best to answer them. I told her of Heaven, which she knew as the light world. I told her of Father Satan and she smiled and said he was the father of all dark gods.
“I have dreamt of him. Sometimes a vision comes to me when my mind is troubled and I can think of nothing but revenge for he who harmed me.”
“Yes,” she said.
“But why has your father not brought him evil, a curse perhaps as punishment?”
She took a long while to answer and when she finally did she said: “There is magic protecting them, more powerful than he has ever seen.”
*Greater magic than his. I could not get the words out of my mind.
What could it be, I wondered? I had to find out so I decided to ask Imtep.
Ankata told me I would find him outside. “He ponders the skies to seek answers to the questions he has…”
I did indeed find him gazing at the stars. And let me say the skies over Egypt are wondrous, filled with countless stars. He saw me and nodded. “Yes, come,” he said. “Join me.”
I think I was rather in awe of him. Yes, I know what a thing that is for me to admit. Still, it is the truth. I was flattered to stand with him and gaze at the stars.
“I have always thought those are soul fragments up there.” He smiled and shrugged. “We all have our beliefs, is that not so?”
“Yes, of course…”
He knew at once I was troubled. “You may speak to me of anything. I am honored to know so great a being.”
I had to stop myself from laughing bitterly. No one else had ever felt that way or expressed a similar thought. I thanked him. “Imtep, what is the powerful magic that your daughter spoke of that stops your power?”
He nodded sadly. “Ah yes, magic from someone like myself, another magician who learned at the same time I did. Hotop was his name.”
He then proceeded to tell me of his youth in Memphis and his friendship with Pharaoh.
“I was there when his son was born. I drank with him, offered up holy sacrifices for the babe, little knowing he would murder my own daughter some day!”
He told me of Ankata’s pledge of chastity for she intended to serve in the great Cult of Isis.
“I found her broken body, defiled it was—ravished and torn. Odious with corruption—she who pledged to know no man! I carried her from the scene of her defilement, determined to raise her up!”
He told me how this was accomplished.
“It was the forbidden magic of the dark gods that I learned along with Hotop who was to become magician and advisor to Pharaoh after I left.
“And this strong magic, you feel prevents you from accomplishing…?”
“Yes, it prevents me from seeking revenge,” Imtep replied.
“Perhaps if I see your magic I will know what to do. I will understand more and be able to help you break through the impenetrable magic that protects your daughter’s murderer. Tell me, can you conjure monsters?”
“You mean demons?”
I thought a moment. “I don’t mean for you to summon demons; that’s complicated. I mean more for you to create demonic looking creatures, and besides,” I confessed, “I should like to study under you.”
He smiled and shook his head. “The creation of demons is for the gods…or for your Satan.”
“Yes, that’s right. These I speak of would be mere imitations. Demonic creatures that are magical and not actual beings.”
He began to grow very excited. “Yes, that is good. I have done this many years ago. I shall do it again!”
He stood and with a quick wave of his arms and some unintelligible incantation he cried: “Come to me, my children!”
Well, Rose, prepare yourself for you do not like these creatures, as of course you shouldn’t for they attacked and nearly killed you. But please understand, this is my confession and I must make a good accounting of myself and what I have lived through.
And so, he began his magic. And like all magic there was ritual. His incantations lasted quite long, so long in fact that I began to grow weary of waiting, but that’s when it happened. Suddenly, I heard the flapping of wings as droves of small sized bird-like creatures began to appear. Savage, ugly things they were, with sharp teeth and an overpowering stench.
But if they were ugly—and they were, hideously so—they were also compliant. Well, truthfully, his magic made them that way. “You see,” he cried. “They are as loving as real children! Come to me, your father!” he cried.
Rose, it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. These hideous looking creatures, seemingly vying with each other as if to court favor with their master! Their squawking became softer as they called to him, each in its own way wanting his attention!
Yes, those would be the very same creatures I was to conjure throughout my existence! I had never seen such a thing. “They seem to be actual creatures though monstrous. How can this be so?”
He shrugged and smiled. “They are magical, Eco, and if they can achieve the dark purpose I set for them, I shall be indebted to you forever.”
“Come!” I said. “I think I know what to do.”
In simple terms, our magic had to be more powerful than our enemy’s magic. How to do it was the question. I decided to imbue Imtep with greater powers than he had. I could enhance his magic by enhancing his capabilities.
Fallen angel spawn do not use curses as a rule. I think it goes back to our natural dislike of witches. Why this is I have no idea, but just as every creature known to man has a natural enemy, so it is with beings such as myself.
I therefore set about to curse the magic of his enemy as I strengthened Imtep’s own powers.
*I spoke to him that very day. He hung on every word. His great black eyes glowed with admiration. He knew I was intent on my purpose.
Initially, he had offered to take me to his altar where he intended to call upon the dark gods, but I refused.
“No, Imtep, I shall do this myself. I will do it with my mind.”
I thought of all the power I had, power given to angels at creation, power not lost though some of those angels fell as my father and Louis’ had.
Yes, I was thinking of my father. He had power—that I inherited. His was given to him from the kingdom of light and that power could not be revoked.
I spoke the words clearly and with great feeling:
“In the name of all that is powerful and holy, beyond and into all magical realms, I do invoke the strength of all purpose! The power of all that has existed or will exist! Grant this to me!”
Suddenly, the cave shook and I heard Ankata cry out. It was then that I knew Satan had come. The greatest demon of all, dark god of all dark gods had come to me; the very manifestation of the dark power!
Ankata and her father bowed before him, more in fear than homage, I think.
He was in his human form, that of a handsome young man. What an imposing picture he made. I bowed my head. “I did not wish to disturb you, great one.”
“You are like a son to me. I come when my son needs me, do not forget.”
I swore I wouldn’t.
He looked pleased and glad to see me. I think he was somewhat hurt that I did not invoke his name to begin with.
“What do you wish?”
I told him all of it; the murder, the raising up and the magical protection.
“Who is the magician? What is his name?”
“Hotop,” Imtep said. He said this without raising his head, for he was still bowing.
Satan began to transform himself then. His figure faded, merging into light and shadow but mainly shadow. This went on for quite some time. It ended when flames suddenly burst forth.
When they died, Satan’s voice proclaimed, “He is already dead. He is but carrion for the great, black birds of death. Go to Memphis and you shall see his corpse!”
*Imtep was grateful to Satan for his help. But with regard to the bloody revenge he sought against his daughter’s killer that was something else. That had to be witnessed.
“You understand, don’t you? I must see this happen or I will not rest!”
Of course I understood.
And so we travelled to Memphis, Imtep, Ankata and I. Satan had left us but not before carefully eyeing up the beautiful Ankata.
I think I knew at that moment that he would have her. And I think further, I knew it was going to be whenever he wished it.
Yes, Rose, Satan has had many mistresses throughout time; you’ll be hearing of a few in this journal of mine.
At last, we were in sight of the great commercial city of Memphis—a hub of workshops, factories, and warehouses. It was believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen. There was a great temple dedicated to this god—the largest and most important temple in Memphis.
I saw its majestic columns from the city gates. Imtep was too preoccupied to comment, so I said nothing.
It wasn’t until we actually approached a check point that I heard a commotion. Soldiers and a crowd milled about, some shouting and calling to one another.
Imtep asked what the problem was. He was told that an official had been found brutally murdered. The soldier glanced at us. His stare became fixed upon me. “Where do you travel from?”
Complicated question this. I nearly smiled but controlled myself and mentioned a dusty little town near to where my friends and I had journeyed from.
At last we were given leave to enter the city. Imtep had managed to push his way toward where the murdered man lay. One look at his face and I knew he had recognized the dead man as his enemy.
“Yes,” he said. “Hotop is as dead as his magic.”
*There was more to do in order for Imtep to have the revenge he wished.
We were soon bound for the palace. Imtep wasn’t sure whether Ankata should accompany us, but she wished it.
At last we saw it, the great palace of Memphis—a great and glittering structure of gleaming walls and towers. It looked impenetrable but Imtep motioned us. “We will approach from beneath. There are tunnels there, disused for a long time. It is from there that we will gain access!”
The tunnels were low ceilinged and we had to rush along hunched over. At last we paused at the foot of some stairs. “We must go up there. That is where the monster sleeps,” Imtep whispered.
I was incredulous. “But there are guards all around; you don’t wish to create a commotion, do you?”
Imtep smiled and told me of the oldest trick he knew. That which he called the dreamless sleep. “They will sleep and see nothing,” he whispered. “Watch.”
He muttered some incantation and there before my eyes each soldier slumped to the ground, unconscious.
Ankata began to tremble. Her father explained why.
“Her eyes behold the place of her shame and her heinous murder. Calm yourself my daughter—for it is under a different sort of wind you do now revisit the place.”
*She was with us when we did it, more pale than I thought possible, and tearful. I understood it for vampires are often in such an attitude when they re-examine their own death.
Imtep was excited and his hands trembled. “I am honored that a being such as yourself would aid me so, my lord. Come,” he said. “To Prince Memet’s chamber I will show you the way!”
The prince lay sleeping. Beside him were three concubines; beautiful girls but already marked with the savagery of Memet’s so-called love making.
It all happened quickly. The stench and the creatures appeared. The girls departed quickly, but when the prince tried to flee, the vampires brought him down. They ate of his flesh and drank of his blood so quickly and so efficiently that all that remained were his bones.
Imtep comforted Ankata for she cried. But they were tears of relief and nothing else.
“You are avenged, my child. The evil that had taken you from the living world is no more.” Then, turning to me, he added, “And the murderer’s passage to the next world is in doubt for there can be no funeral preparations, nothing to ease his passage.”
I agreed, but in order to make certain that nothing of his soul survived, I called upon the dark gods of Egypt to devour it. For some reason, Imtep wept. He would confide to me later that this was because the prince’s father had been his friend. “We were boys together. We shared our lives. Who would have expected such treachery?”
I had the distinct feeling that at one time, Imtep and Pharaoh might have been thinking of marrying their children to one another. We had already discussed Pharaoh’s reaction to the news of his son’s death. Imtep knew he’d mourn him, although I got the impression the father was ashamed of the son and that shame would affect everything.
“He’d not wish his son to be murdered, but were it to happen as it has, he will accept it for he knows truth.”
We left Memphis then; we left before the cock crowed, before the sleep magic would wear off.
As for the vampiric creatures, the tool of the revenge, they were sent back from whence they came, that other world of fantasy and magic that exists so close to our own. We did not rest until we reached the desert. There, in an oasis, Imtep drank water whilst Ankata and I shared the bounty of a bird.
“I sup as a demon does and I shall for as long as I exist.”
If I found the words hard to take, I saw Imtep found them more difficult. He wept as though his heart were broken, for Ankata was undead—and she was undead because his grief had been far too great to let her rest.
(end of chapter)