Part 8

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When she next she opened her eyes, Clementine found herself looking up at a ceiling that was much different than that of the mansion, having suddenly realized with some relief that she was back in her hotel room.

Running-Deer appeared to gently place a cool damp cloth over her forehead before she left as quickly as she'd arrived.

When she tried to sit up, the room spun so badly that she collapsed back upon the pillow.

She was alive.

The thought that the spell might fail had haunted her while she cast the last bit of it.

The door opened and Poe entered the room, before he gently closed it behind him and moved to pull up a chair, which he reversed before he sat down next to her bed.

"Welcome back." He offered with a genuine smile of relief.

"What happened?" She asked as her eyes tried to focus as best they could, having remembered nothing after she'd completed the spell other than what she'd seen of the demon as they had collided.

"Actually, we are not entirely sure. There was a brilliant flash of lightning and a very loud clap of thunder that apparently blew out most every window in the mansion. When we got there not long afterward, we found you in the living room alone, untouched and covered in ash."

Clementine tried to sit up and failed once again as her equilibrium clearly appeared to be off kilter.

"I'd relax if I were you ..." he offered gently, "... it looks like you were successful, however little I may have ever completely understand as to what you appear to have done."

Her eyes finally began to cooperate and stay focused as she carefully turned and managed to finally sit up on the bed while Poe watched and waited to catch her if necessary.

Clearly, the result of the spell had overwhelmed her as completely as it had made dust of the demon.

"And the owner?" She finally managed to ask, as she turned to look at the sheriff.

Poe simply shook his head and frowned at the question.

"Found him upstairs in chains, beaten to a pulp and shot several times with the shotgun. Near as we can tell that's where his wife got the vampire before she managed to drag that woman out and lit her up as she apparently did."

Clementine blinked her eyes several times while looked down at her lap before she closed them.

"The good news ..." Poe continued, "... is that the folks who rode in with you apparently represent a company that often buys up and manages mines that may otherwise be available for purchase."

Clementine's eyes snapped open as she recalled the man and woman from her recent trip.

"Sheriff, you should know that both of those people are vampires and that sunlight has little or no affect upon that as you might otherwise expect."

Poe took his hat off and laid it on the floor next to his chair before he responded.

"About that ... little thing you appear to have there. We ... or probably myself more-so than anyone else, could use someone with your skill set around us on a more regular basis. I've taken the liberty of talking to the folks at the Long Branch and they've offered a position as hostess if you'd like to stay and take it."

Clementine sighed with clear hesitation.

She'd thought the goddess had simply brought her here to find her sister and take vengeance upon the demon that had killed her; while perhaps it had also been yet another sign that she should stay and care for her sister where Daniela had wanted desperately to get to only to fail as she had along the way.

"I'll have to consider that offer for a few days, Sheriff. My parents may wish me to return now that I've found Daniela."

"That brings up another point; the undertakers tell me they've found a spot that you may find that pleases for your sister to rest at, that is if she were to remain here as well."

When he rose to his feet, he retrieved his hat and put it back on.

"All I'm asking is that you take some time and think about it. Either way, we owe you much for what you did."

Clementine looked up to find that he'd offered his hand, which she shook before he left her alone.

Not entirely sure as to what would come next for either of them.


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