I think I have said in a previous entry, I write these notes now in retrospect, and as will become apparent from a new persepctive, hindsight is so often used to judge our actions, to damn us after the fact, but foresight, oh what pain we could be spared but for foresight.
Nareth, had led me, rescued me perhaps from the bar, from my self-loathing and now we stood in the streets by the canal-side. Often one says that they “feel” that they are being watched, I however knew that she had her eyes fixed upon me, I could see it through the clamour of emotions in my mind, clouded and dulled by the liquor that flowed through it. We passed the journey in near silence, which was for the best, it allowed me a brief respite, concentrating on the mundane task of walking. We eventually came to my house and I invited Nareth inside. We climbed the marble stairs from the entry lobby and I slumped upon the couch, my head in my hands.
"Do you need water? Anything?", Nareth looked down at me almost seeming concerned. Her hard features softened by an edge of worry.
"Water would be good, thank you", She returned shortly with a cup of water. I sat, feet up upon the sofa, the cup in both hands, sipping gently until I became aware of the long silence and Nareth staring at me.
"Nareth?", I prompted drawing her out of her trance.
"You look ill.", she said, as if to explain her stare.
"Do you mean to subvert the bargain?", I asked, her actions in the bar, her boldness in the face of Rip's fury had made me wonder at this.
"I do not. I could not. However...", She paused, turning towards the windows, squinting at the sun.
"Rip, he would have killed me, I have wronged them both"
"Because you touched his woman? No one will harm you, Mistress. I cannot permit it."
"but that would break the bargain"
"No. There are many avenues open to me, physical harm is not necessary.", she turned back towards me.
"I see, thank you Nareth", I returned my attention to the water. Nareth looked down at me, standing, hands on her hips in the centre of the room. "I am naive, you knew that, my trust of the professor has made me misjudge you and now I am caught".
"You have many questions. Are you sober enough to listen?", she moved to one of the chairs nearby, sitting sideways to look at me. I sipped more water and nodded in answer to the question. "Yes, you were naive. My Lady had banked on that, but I have not lied; excepting by omission and I *will* not harm those two."
I sighed, reaching down and removing my boots and relaxing a little, and rubbing my feet. Nareth sniffed the air, flaring her nostrils slightly.
"I told them never to trust you, and then fell into it myself, but the choice, the choice I made", I paused, Nareth blinked, but made no reply. "Accepting destruction or facing it, is it still true?"
"Then I must shed this self interest, this pitiful mess you have witnessed today it serves no purpose but to extend the misery and hurt, you were right again"
"Might I offer a very small bit of advice, Mistress?", I turned to face Nareth. "Do not make deals lightly, not with the likes of me. Mind the language of all such arrangements, even in the smallest of ways. What is done is done but...there will likely be other offers. Any demonologist would have told you....". Her voice trailed off, "...had you but asked."
"What are you? what have you become?"
"You wish to hear the truth of it? Plainly spoken?", I rubbed my temples.
"the plainer the better I think"
"As you wish....I am not precisely Nareth Nishi. But then, I'm not sure she ever was, either. She fell in love with an English woman named Mina Murray. Together, and with the help of Elenore Darwin, they fought...the one who made me. They believed that they had killed him...but...", Nareth paused and staring at the floor. "That which is deathlesss cannot die.", she halted, looking back up. "We are bound now, you and I. That is why I can walk in the sun. In a sense, you have freed me. This would be easier...if you asked specific questions. Very specific."
"Generalities can be fatal. Or worse."
"Is Mina gone?"
"I'm sorry", I would never have been so careless with my questions had I been sober, but right then I could see no other route to the question. Nareth looked down at her feet. "It was her choice."
"and Nareth she is within you but you are not her?"
"I have all that she ever was... But I am, precisely, her. I am the Messenger. "
"The thing that was destroyed, was not destroyed perhaps."
"The one who made you, you spoke of him and you and Mina"
"Vlad Tepes. That is how he was known to men.". I swallowed at this name, it was the name I had not known, the bone... "Nyarlathotep, the black pharaoh"
"it was his bone"
"he binds us"
"And the soil of my grave. We are bound...", Nareth cleared her throat. "There are things, Mistress, that predate this universe. This reality. Relics from the Dark Times. A time, Mistress, when the universe, this cosmos, was very much smaller than it now is. A time of Chaos, when my Lady ruled. I am trying to speak plainly."
"Would you have that time return? Would she?"
"She desires this, yes. I have come to prepare the way. The dice are rolling.". I closed my eyes, the clash of voices in my head and ears disorienting and fierce, the alcohol now wearing off, "I am sorry Nareth, my mind is laboured, I hear your answers before you speak them, your voice an echo, in my current state it takes a moment to assimilate the facts.”
"Because, Mistress, we are bound. I have gifted you with my...will."
"May I.. try something?"
"As you wish.", I closed my eyes so as to better focus and imagined a message to Nareth, spoke without a voice.
“Can you hear me?”
“Yes, which is as it should be.”
"There is never any distance between our minds.", Nareth looked on, her face unmoved.
“It might take some getting used to"
"to speak without voice so unnatural"
"There are very many voices in my head...but you hear only mine."
I sipped once more at the water, before placing it on the floor and removing my coat and boa.
"That word...", Nareth's took on a look of distaste, "Unnatural. You would do best to lose it. It only brings you harm and you mean unfamiliar, not unnatural, in this instance."
"I have a lot to learn", I said apologetically, Nareth nodded, watching me. After a few seconds, I spoke again, another question, "When will she arrive?"
"Labyrinth may only arrive when the way has been prepared. The time is not predetermined. Many things must happen first or ..only a few. The dice are still rolling."
" This is your role, your part to play out?"
"Yes, Mistress. I am the Messenger. I am the wind before the storm. I accepted the role. Mina..did not."
"Who was Lucy?"
"Lucy Westenra.. A close friend of Mina's. She died...in England, before we chased Tepes to Transylvania."
"You mentioned her last night. Like Lucy and Mina you said"
"They were...close. I took Lucy's place when she died."
"Did you kill Lucy?"
"No, Mistress. The Black Pharaoh took her. The Impaler and then, when she was undead, Van Helsing finished her."
"I see, I am sorry, my questions are so unkind"
"I would not know, Mistress. It is no matter I serve you."
"Then whose body do you wear?"
"She was a woman from the Orient, a mystic seeking the Messenger. I killed her.
" She found what she sought then", I picked up my glass from the floor, returning it to my lips.
"Indeed. She died in joy."
"Yes. It is joyous, the face of my lady. I would show you...but...", Nareth trails off.
"but? But what Nareth?”
"Your mind is not that strong, Mistress. Later, when you are ready. Much must happen before then or only very little. The dice are still rolling."
"How much does Elenore know of you?"
"More than I would like. She suspects I am no longer Nareth Nishi. She was there...when the Impaler fell. She is..not who you think."
"Will you tell me who she is then? You spoke a Gallifrey, I think it was, it means little to me."
"It was a planet. Elenore was born there. Long, long ago. Nareth Nishi was created to allow her to travel, and to protect her, in the event of certain crises situations."
"Is she the one we feared? The one who sought the navigator?", I thought back to last year, a time that seemed so far removed from now.
"It is complicated. Nareth Nishi was a machine, in essence. A living machine.She malfunctioned. She denied her own protocol. She wanted to be a living woman. But...she carried Elenore's DNA, that the Gallifreyan could be reborn when it was safe. The daughter is, in fact, the one who made Elenore, that Nareth could one day be her mother. Elenore is, in a sense, her own mother.". The circular concepts, the overlayed echoes of mind and sound, the stirring of old memories, my mind swam. "Nareth is, in a sense, her daughter. Elenore hopes to stop what is coming. That is why we went to England. To 1897. But...she failed.". Nareth stopped, then watching me carefully, stood up slowly, moving carefully, making no threatening moves. I barely noticed, focused on my water and keeping my mind steady.
“Can she travel alone, without Nareth, is she stranded here?”
“She can travel, yes. She has built a new machine". Nareth gazed towards the streets.
"Are you OK Nareth?"
"Should I call you that? Nareth I mean"
"If you wish."
"What would you wish? What would you have me call you?", Nareth turned to face me, her face unreadable.
"The woman who wore this skin before me was named Sang Li.But...that name would raise further suspicions.". I finished my water and dropping the cup to the ground I attempted to stand, still a little unsure of my balance, Nareth watched, a look something near concern upon her face. "There are things I must teach you. Many things."
"I am sorry Nareth, last night, I made mistake, and I will pay for that. But I have myself to blame for that not you."
"There is no blame, Mistress.This is one of the lessons.". Nareth reached up and removing her goggles, squinting at the daylight.
"The cost weighs on me, but I understand, you have shown me that the choice remains the same. If I was willing to risk all to save...to change things, then I cannot expect any less".
"That is correct, Mistress.", I stood looking for a while into the sad beauty of the face of Sang Li, She flinched, perhaps under my gaze, perhaps as she suggested, simply the light. "The light is still difficult. So very much of it."
"I feel it, the burning"
"But...that will end. Oh...yes.. You will feel the sun now...more and more each day. It may become uncomfortable. We are so bound. When my Lady comes, the sun will die. All stars will die. I...she..has devoured worlds". Nareth paused for a moment, "May I ask a question of you?"
"Do you now feel my hunger..desire..passion...?", a pause, she knew the answer, where was this going? "Yes...?", she prompted again, I swallowed.
"yes" I murmured, Nareth smiled.
"Do not fear it, but also, you must not let it consume you, not yet.". It was only then, for the first time that I saw, revealed, the fangs in her mouth, she saw me step back and laughed softly. "I may not teach you anything you do not desire to learn. There are rules."
My mind raced as the desires and hungers formed as images and sensations in my mind, my heart pounded in my chest.
"I would not si...would not wish to be more or less than I am Nareth, I would not live like you, on gutter vermin.". Nareth looked up at me, a smile briefly alighting on her lips as I struggled to pick more pleasing phraseology.
"It is not my desire to eat rats, Mistress.", Nareth took a step nearer to me, hesitating, I took a further half step backwards
"Regardless of the mistakes you have made...I do feel your appetite, Beq Janus and I offer you the means by which to satiate it. I belong to you, in a sense. I may not refuse.".
"Yes. Your hungers. What you would have taken yesterday from Miss McMillan", her lips curled into a smile, "for example".
"hunger and desire are one"
"If you would have it so."
"But Nareth, there is more than just hunger"
"I hunger for Orchid, for her love indeed but that cannot be sated by another."
"I felt that yesterday. There are very few limitations on what I am capable of doing, Mistress. The dice are rolling."
I blinked, Orchid was stood in front of me, where moments before Nareth had been, and dressed just as she had been the night before.
"Yes, Beq?", She reached out a hand toward me.
"You have come back?"
"I have. I was wrong, Beq.". I reached out taking Orchid's proffered hand
The illusion faded, and Orchid's appearance melted away, Nareth/ Sang Li back where Orchid had been.
"So, you see. Anything you wish."
"no! Orchid!", I had been tricked the illusion so perfectly formed. Nareth laughed and turned away.
I sighed, accepting the lesson.
"Accept what is, Beq Janus. Accept what you have. What you may yet have. Do not cling to these old notions. They will drag you down.", Nareth turned back to face me once more. I stared into the black wells of her eyes. Looking for some hint, a clue to suggest that this was more than simple mockery of a foolish girl.
"Your eyes are so dark, so deep Nareth.”
“My eyes were given me by my Lady. They are a splinter if her being. They are not deep...They have no bottom."
"I am so lost now, Nareth, my hunger for Orchid is defied by illusion but love..", I thought upon the ease at which Ihad been fooled could human emotions be so frail as to fall for the illusion. Could love be tricked?
"You must learn new ways of perceiving. Take what you want, what you *need*. This hunger and love need not limit you.". Still staring, I raised my hand to Nareth's face, to touch the skin, Sang Li's skin. Nareth cocked her head to one side, smiling, inviting me forward.
"I can show you other eyes, if these do not please you."
"You are warm. I I did not expect that".
"Yes..you gave me warmth again. Your warmth. It will help deflect suspicion. I may even breath if necessary", I stepped back.
I .. cannot, that thought alone, the feeding, it lives i my mind", Nareth looked confused.
"It should live in your mind."
"Try as I might it ...it... disgusts me, I am sorry, I sought a better word but had none"
"You are part of this now.",Nareth's nostrils flared slightly. A wound on Nareth's throat suddenly opened. She touched the wound with an index finger, dabbing it with blood."It is only blood, Mistress. And blood is only life. You eat blood, when it has been cooked.", I looked at the blood, as it glistened, a deep ruby claret on the skin of Nareth's neck, "but...fresh...it is so much sweeter. Living and warm. The blood is the life.". My mind had became a maelstrom once again, Nareth's voice mixed with my own, both voices echoing across a raging sea of visions, images from Nareth's past, temptations, lust, a kiss, the warmth of embrace."It is only a very small wound. A kiss.". With these words, feelings and images rose in my mind, two lovers entwined, their passions...". I licked my lips, swallowed nervously. "It is yours, if you so wish...". Nareth held the index finger out to Beq, the blood glistening. "A small kiss...".
My mind surged, the waves of images parted and reformed, I saw myself, I saw Orchid, naked laid out before me, as I was drinking, kissing, sucking blood from her throat. A vivid image but somehow not repellent, overlaid with the pull of sexual tension, lust, satisfaction. An angry cry rose inside me. I shook the image from my mind. Nareth shuddered slightly.
"No, Nareth. I...you don't want this"
"You are not weak, Mistress. That is good but...you *do* want...". Nareth looks at her bloody fingertip."We pursued him to his castle in the Borgo Pass. We thought we had won. We were so...arrogant."
"but I .. if, If I do, the sun, we must both live in darkness", Nareth blinked, coming back to here and now.
"No, Mistress. It is no longer that simple, you have created the Talisman. True, in sunlight, I am weaker...and all my abilities may not manifest, but I do not burn, and I have a reflection...The same would be true of you."
"Not that I have offered to give you *that* gift. It would take far more than a taste. A kiss. Far more.", I found myself captivated by my companion, she seemed almost delicate. I stroked Nareth's hair avoiding the wound, and she closed her eyes a moment, smiling. "I have almost forgotten....touch..", Nareth opened her eyes again, regarding me with a curious air.
"What of the kiss? What becomes of me?"
"You know what I am, in a way that sight and smell and shared thought cannot teach you. Some of the weight falls away."
"the weight...", as if to support this my mind filled with the heaviness of heart.
"I know it is so very, very heavy. Like the weight at the bottom of the sea. I have felt it."
"It is my burden"
"It need not be.", Nareth looked at me, at my face my body, my breasts. I felt the urge to let my hand rise to touch her again, but held it, holding back the emotions. "Burden...is not necessary. Be free.". The image of Orchid still stood fresh in my mind, the sensation, and something new, the guilt
"Take what you may. Do not deny yourself because you cannot have all you wish. Yet.", The cascade and swirl of image and emotion whipped to a frenzy once more, my breathing became shallow and fast. "It is a lie...all this talk of burden...It is a lie...and I may only speak the truth to you". Nareth spoke passionately, almost angrily. My head snapped up meeting Nareth's gaze, the moment lost, the tide turned. "Do not live in the lies men tell, because they are afraid of the night.". I looked at the darkness outside. "Let me show you a fraction.". Nareth looks at her hands and the wound in her throat begins, slowly, to close.
The images in my mind collapsed and faded in utter darkness for a moment, and then spiralling galaxies, and then Nareth's eyes again. I stumbled, a feeling of vertigo overtaking me.
"There is so much I can show you...So much". The wound was closed, I stared at the skin where the wound had been. Nareth turned and marched to the balcony doors, flinging them open and stepping out into the night air. I followed her. Nareth's feet began to rise from the balcony, and in a moment she was hovering a few inches above the floor. I watched in astonishment as Nareth took flight and within a few moments there was no sign of her.
"Good night, mistress"
4 years ago