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Breathe Under Water, Shadows of the Night 1

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Hi!

Never enough time for writing and editing, but I thought what the heck, I will post anyway... Listen to this, the voice of the desperate! Anyway, here's the next chapter. Writing this chapter was damn hard so ... I really really hope you like it. As always criticism welcome.

Lara

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Chapter 5

 

My head felt nothing but blank. My breath kept coming and going in a slow, calm rhythm as I tasted the room’s stuffiness in regular and measured doses. The printed words on the faded, yellowish pages in front of me had long stopped making sense to me. Abandoned, the book lay there without me really seeing it.

I had worked through about a fifth of the heap of books stacked close to the right edge of the table. My mind had made the incorrect assumption that pushing them farther away from me would make them disappear.

Absent-mindedly, I glanced at my watch. I had about two hours left. I took a sneaky glance around, finding that not much had changed, status-quo-wise. I was still on the tenth floor of the Circle headquarters. The library was still undercrowded, and the professor I knew from a magical history course at the Circle’s academy was still snoring with shameless unconcern five desks over.

I had commenced my research by flipping through Brown’s file, which contained the information Alexander had been talking about. Though I wouldn’t call them essential, these were the details I would have to know to be able to act as a human servant. After going through them for about less than a quarter of an hour I had been more than bored, and disgusted.

So I decided to do some research on the amulet I had glimpsed the night Maria died. If I could find it somewhere in the records, it would bring me one giant step closer to the truth.

What little I had seen of the ornament’s design made me believe that it had to be of Italian origin. Moreover, it was likely to be one of a very ancient witch family, which didn’t really make any sense. I found only one family line of witches with a similar trait in their emblem, but it didn’t match the amulet’s symbol. Between drawing nonsensical doodles starring abstract outlines of fangs and having a good yawn, I had managed to create a rough draft of the thing. Still, I wasn’t pleased with it – something was missing. I was sure of that much.

I searched and looked into history books until the words morphed into crisscross patterns in front of my eyes. I checked every major history book about ancient Italian witch lines I could get a hold of. It took one and a half hours of reading before I realized my mistake.

While I had been working under the assumption that I was looking for an ancient witch lineage, it was possible that the emblem on the amulet belonged to vampires. Emblems and coats of arms were very rare in the vampiric society, but I couldn’t eliminate the possibility. Stripped bare of compassion and empathy over the ensuing first months, the newly undead tended to take on a new name and shake off the last sparks of humanity. It was very uncommon for a vampire to cling to titles or former ties.

I left the library without simple answers, or epiphanies for that matter, but I had come to three conclusions. One, given its style and the extraordinariness of the stone, the origin of the amulet had to be dating back to at least the fifteen hundreds. Two, judging from the way the half-moon or curve was designed and the frame it was set in – at least in the way I remembered it, – the coat of arms or emblem originated from Italy. If it really belonged to a vampire, that meant I would be looking for a hell of a powerful vampire with an Italian name. Three, I had to take a nap, badly.

* * *

Grudgingly, I made my way to the western part of the Crimson District. Rumor had it that Alexander regularly went to clubs there – whether for amusement or business, I hadn’t managed to figure out so far. Every source I had consulted was more than scared shitless of the vampire. I didn’t have much experience with bloodsuckers, and I had to know who I was dealing with. If I was to go into a vampire lair with the devil himself, I needed to know beforehand.

So I went to Joe’s Pub, a small bar that was open to all races: humans, witches, shape shifters, and vampires. ‘No discrimination’ – that was Joe’s business slogan. Although the bar was at the outskirts of the Crimson District, it was pretty full. Biker gangs, heavy metal fanatics, and those who pretended to be, were crammed in the darker corners of the bar, while the rest of the people were trying to move to the hard rock music on the dance floor. It was a kaleidoscope of colors, bodies, and faces that knew no end and no limits. I looked around. Two vampires in business suits chatting with a group of casually dressed men close to the entrance. Heavy-muscled shape shifters moving gracefully through the mass of bobbing heads. Business was good for Joe. Even all the billiard tables were occupied. Seemed like his slogan cut the mustard.

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