Category: Saturday Scenes

  • Salt the Earth – Part III

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    “I’ve been told that you made quite an impression when you burst in with Edith on your shoulder,” the Reverend Mother said.

    “Oh,” Clara said, sounding distant.

    Truth be told, Clara had not been looking to make a grand entrance nor a scene. She was also unable to think of an effective way to deflect that statement without appearing to be insubordinate or appearing to be a braggart.

    “Sometimes it’s a no win scenario,” Clara thought.

    “They had been domesticated,” the Reverend Mother said when she decided to get to the point.

    “What do you mean Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

    “Same as a dog I suppose,” the Reverend Mother said. “Taught them how to hunt and hide within a heavily populated area,” she added.

    “Was that why their place was so clean,” Clara asked. “Except fo—,” she added but faltered.

    It was difficult to remember what she had witnessed. The gore, the stench and the flies were all elements drawn together from a poorly written horror story. Even if the minutiae of the scenes was impossible to recollect, the images still haunted her.

    Surely Jack’s room had been just as gory. A dismembered head with gouged out eyes should have evoked a similar response. Still there was something about this particular scene that made her mind run through what she witnessed over and over.

    “Precisely,” Augustine said. “They had a fully stocked kitchen and one of the little ones was found in the icebox dead,” she added.

    Clara noted that even the Reverend Mother seemed troubled by this development. She had always assumed that the head of her order was impervious to such news. Surely bad news came often enough to blunt her emotions.

    The sight of the Reverend Mother showing a sliver of emotion was enough to endear Clara. The matriarch of the Tower being human gave her hope that she would not turn into some mindless killing machine. Somehow that notion warmed her heart.

    “Was the young one a ginger Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

    “No child,” Augustine said. “Why do you ask,” she said.

    Clara had not reported the apparition since ghosts and spirits went against all they were taught. To talk about such things might lead them to question her sanity. For now it was best to keep such knowledge close to her heart.

    “What about the cigarette holder and hair Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

    “Your instincts had been correct that the item had been used recently child,” Augustine started with. “They also found a series of broken vases, frames and knick-knacks swept into a closet,” she added.

    So the altercation had been far ranging, which meant that Edith must have put up one hell of a fight. Clara expected nothing less, but it was reassuring to have her suspicions confirmed.

    That also meant they must have been waiting for her to die. Clara shuddered to think about such a death; left there to succumb to the infection. All to add flavour to the meat so that these creatures could feast on her friend.

    A nearby door opened, and soon after a nun peeked out. Clara tried to read the emotions from the nun’s deep blue eyes but drew a blank.

    “Reverend Mother,” the sister said. “The child is awake,” she added.

    “Oh good Sister,” Augustine said while looking at Clara. “Shall we go in,” she asked.

    “Of course Reverend Mother,” Clara said with a twinkle in her eyes.

  • Salt the Earth – Part II

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Carrots led the way while Clara followed, until the girl provided her with a proper name the nickname would have to do . The young girl was certainly a straight shooter, even the hustle and bustle of a major city did not sway her.

    When Clara had been that young, she could never have resisted the temptation to explore. Even now that desire was just below the surface of her conscious mind, begging to be freed.

    While the word incident had been used, the severity had been misreported. An incident would not require her to report back. Was it a death? It was not every day that someone from her order died.

    Well not daily although a few times a year was accurate. Hunters were not normally recalled for a death, frequent use of the Terminus risked exposure. So what was important enough to have her recalled?

    Clara kept these thoughts concealed along with the emotions that inevitably followed. It took a great deal of willpower to keep cool when one’s head was swirling, but Clara would not let an acolyte see anything more than cold professionalism. That much was expected from older students.

    “Almost there Miss Grey,” Carrots said.

    Clara nodded, she knew where the gate was currently located.

    “Love your dress,” Carrots said just before walking into a restaurant.

    Clara waited until the kitchen staff were out of earshot before replying, “Thank you.”

    “Must take a while to put on,” Carrots said.

    Clara momentarily looked down at the row of a hundred or so buttons that led from her collar to the very bottom. It did take time, but so did many aspects of being a lady.

    “The price of fashion,” Clara said.

    “I wouldn’t know,” Carrots replied.

    “You will,” Clara countered, certain that in time Carrots would grow up to be a beautiful woman.

    “We don’t all make it past our first day of freedom,” Carrots said bluntly.

    That statement really caught Clara off guard. In that moment she realised that this exchange had been an elaborate distraction.

    “Why,” Clara wondered.

    They came to a door at the end of the kitchen’s storage area. On the other side there would be a small courtyard leading to three other buildings. The abandoned one on her left led directly to the Terminus.

    Clara eyed Carrots and realised how the girl was deathly pale, even for a fair skinned redhead. Clara remembered a lecture that covered many of these details. It had been memorable because these details had been used as proof to deny the existence of these events.

    “How did you find me,” Clara asked.

    At first Carrots was quiet as though she were not expecting any questions.
    “She wanted me to find you,” Carrots said.

    “Who,” Clara asked.

    While waiting for an answer Clara pulled a few pins from her hair that were used to anchor her hat. Her derringer dropped out from under and landed into her waiting hands; it was light and entirely familiar to the touch.

    Instead of replacing her hat Clara kept it in hand. Meanwhile Carrots’ corporeal presence lost cohesion; so much so that Clara saw right through her.

    “Rest now young one,” Clara said and for a moment Carrots appeared to smile.

    Clara moved her attention to the door, hovering over the door she listened intently. For now it was silent as a tomb, which did little to reassure her.

    At the moment she had the advantage of daylight to cover her advance. Vampires would not attempt an attack in broad daylight, even when under the cover of shade. The risk was simply too great.

    Her instincts told her something was wrong. After all, that spirit were not roused from the grave for idle chatter.

    “Well no sense in delaying the inevitable,” Clara thought.

    With one swift kick the door flew open. The light of day strained her eyes, but she made out a lanky figure standing at the edge of the building’s shadow.

    At first she hesitated until Clara caught that orange glow in its eyes. Without a second though she threw her hat at the figure, brought her derringer to bear and squeezed both triggers.

    Even loaded with half-power charges, the weapon roared and obstructed her vision in smoke. Clara did not wait for the smoke to clear, instead she reached for her crucifix and charged.

    Clara took three steps before the creature fell to its knees and collapsed. Only then did she see that a portion of its skull was missing. Clara watched as black ichor pooled on the ground.

    “Ghoul,” Clara said.

    Without a moment’s notice one of the adjoining doors blew open. A new figure was barreling down on her, the squeal it made would have filled her with dread if her training had not taught her to ignore such stimuli.

    “Another,” Clara asked.

    Clara stood her ground even as the seven-foot tall creature barreling towards her. Clara averted its gaze waiting and once it was nearly within arms reach she kneeled. Her positioning tripped the creature and sent it soaring overtop. A moment later Clara heard its body impact against the wall.

    Once she dropped her arm, Clara noticed how it was stained with black ichor. Her blade had caught a piece of that thing during their brief interaction.

    “That’s never going to come out of the fabric,” Clara said.

    She approached the second attacker and without hesitation cut a deep gash through its throat. A spurt of ichor splattered against the wall, but the tide soon subsided once the creature’s lungs filled with fluid.

    Clara was confused, Ghouls followed death. It was unheard of for their kind to seek out the living for their meal or for that matter hunt in packs.

    “She wanted me to find you,” Carrots said.

    Clara’s thoughts were disrupted when the cooks appeared at the doorway. One nearly dropped his butcher knife when the Ghoul’s stench reached them.

    Clara expected to talk her way out of this situation, but they all seemed clueless. The human mind often chose to cast aside things that were deemed an impossibility. That’s the reason why Ghouls were able to survive without being discovered.

    “Is everything alright mademoiselle,” a moustached man asked.

    Clara concealed her crucifix and blackened sleeve. Her smile was warm and genuine, even while she looked over the courtyard to find an excuse.

    “Mais oui,” Clara said. “I tripped on a crate and ran into the wall,” she added.

    At first they seemed sceptical and the smell certainly kept them from getting closer. Fortunately that smell also provided her with an excuse.

    “Must have been an old crate filled with rotten eggs,” Clara said. “Oh dear, looks like I broke a nail,” she whined.

    “Pierre,” a man in the back row exclaimed just before he slapped the armed cook. “You idiot,” he added.

    The cooks’ civility devolved until they retreated from sight. Fortunately men tended to keep their quarrels concealed from the fairer sex. Although there would surely be a black eye or two after the dust had settled. At least she had the opportunity to deal with this mess.

    “I was called here,” Clara thought.

    To give her a moment to think, Clara picked up her derringer and hat. The smell was really overpowering and her eyes nearly teared up. Still there was something amiss, so on a hunch Clara held her breath and closed her eyes.
    “Nothing,” Clara thought. “Wait,” she said.

    Clara heard a swarm of flies nearby, but there was nothing in sight to attract them. The ghouls bodies were too fresh to attract a swarm. That meant there was carrion nearby.

    She walked from door to door until she neared the one nearly torn from its hinges. The sound through that door was more pronounced, but as a precaution she reloaded her derringer using full-powder charges.

    The first thing she noticed was just how clean the Ghoul’s home was. These things tended to live in crypts or in caves, so this was highly out of the norm for their kind.

    “Other than a few stray claw marks this place looks ready to live in,” Clara thought.

    Clara came across a pearl encrusted cigarette holder with lipstick smudges at the base. Someone had left this behind recently and could not have been the ghouls. Difficult to say the least since they did not have a set of lips.

    Immediately besides the cigarette holder there was a stray blond hair. Clara thought about it at length, but thought better of it, after all blondes were not exactly uncommon.

    Clara followed the sound of the swarm and moved deeper into the building until she found a locked door. There were claw marks around the lock, which meant that whatever was inside had been locked in.

    “Why would a Ghoul lock something in? Or why were they locked out,” Clara asked.

    With the help of hair pins Clara unlocked the door with a skill that would make a locksmith envious. With her derringer in hand, she cracked open the door.

    Signs of a brutal attack were immediately apparent, blood spatter covered the walls and there were blood streaks that led both deep inside and out of the room. Clara saw that this was a library, on a different day she might have been excited to make this discovery.

    Instead she followed the blood until she found a shoe, followed by another and a bare leg with a deep gangrenous gouge. Clara gasped, even through a thick cloud of flies she could make out the pale and delirious Edith.

    “My angel has come to save the day,” Edith murmured.

  • Salt the Earth – Part I

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Clara sat down at her favourite bistro and let out a contented sigh. People flowed all around her, busy with their own affairs. Alas that also included the waiter who was busy flirting with two young ladies at another table.

    She did not mind per se, although she had hoped that someone would notice her dress. It was a long red number which hugged her body and had a long row of buttons running down the front. It certainly managed to turn a few heads back at the Tower, but Parisians tended to be more accustomed to cute girls and their dresses.

    God she enjoyed the the ability to wear trendy clothing! Her ability to blend in demanded that she tap into current trends and fashions. That was one of the perks of being a senior student and Clara intended to enjoy every moment of it.

    Below the brim of her hat, Clara saw the clear blue sky. She scanned the many shops, bars and restaurants that brought back a flood of memories. For the most part this neighbourhood had not changed since her first visit. The buildings were immutable, a testament to the builders who made this neighbourhood possible over a century ago.

    All except for a cabaret that was absent from the scene, that site was was still empty, relegated to open storage for the neighbouring businesses. The adjacent buildings still showed signs of fire damage on their sides. Odd how everyone who passed by her were oblivious, although the fire was bound to be considered ancient history now.

    Clara sighed, this annual pilgrimage of hers invariably led her to linger on her memories of Jack. She often thought on what might have happened if he were a normal boy out to get her virtues.

    Her thoughts moved to his last words and how the poison he spouted had salted the earth. Nothing else would grow on that field now, ironic that his actions would help her become a formidable hunter.

    It was fortunate that the impact of this anniversary lessened with every passing year. This year she was mostly blasé about it and hoped that the cute waiter would strike out. Clara would make sure to get some mileage out of him.

    “Miss Grey,” a young girl said.

    Clara turned and found a little girl with red pigtails and freckles. The sight of her left Clara momentarily confused; it was not everyday that a character walked out from the pages of a book. Of course, the acolyte’s uniform did much to kill the fantasy, but Clara chose to play this one out.

    “How can I help you Miss Shirley,” Clara said on a lark but got nothing more than a vacant stare.

    “You’ve been ordered to report back,” the acolyte said.

    Her imagination had distracted her, Clara should have been wondering why anyone from the Tower was in Paris. Especially for an acolyte so young, they rarely went anywhere without an escort.

    “Oh,” Clara said while her eyes narrowed.

    “Yes Miss. There’s been an incident,” the girl said.

    “Oh,” Clara said faintly.

  • Chemical Romance

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Joining les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc marked a significant change in Clara’s life. While she had the freedom to leave the Tower, that privilege was rarely used. While exploring the world had its charm, there was something to be said about advanced weapons training in high heels.

    Many of the other girls from the group had made the same choices, so Clara did not feel like she was neglecting other aspects in her life. The courses she took were markedly more challenging; combat training became a daily event as were courses reserved for students of the finest European finishing schools. Clara could not help but feel that there was a certain dichotomy to her training.

    Clara and Edith grew closer as the weeks together turned into months. She rather enjoyed having an ally who did not feel threatened by her youth. No price could be set on being friends with someone who had her back, no matter how dangerous the situation got. Of course the feeling was mutual, and that did much to strengthen their bond.

    Edith had grown into a beautiful woman, calm under fire and tough as nails. Clara found herself looking up to her, hoping to meet or exceed the standards Edith set. Many of the other girls felt the same way, so Edith served as the group’s unofficial leader.

    Despite Clara’s brief brush with fame, she was not the focal point of the group. This enabled her to lurk in the shadows and enjoyed the ability to move about unnoticed. What better way to avoid getting caught? Mischief after all needed a certain amount of discretion.

    She was not the only one who used their skills to hide in plain sight. Some instructors were adept at remaining unnoticed even when teaching their lessons.

    “God they were so boring,” Clara thought.

    Clara soon learned that some in society were unseen not by choice, but by convention. If humanity was good for anything it was ostracising one’s fellow man.

    Sister Beatrice however was a different creature altogether. She arrived at the Tower a month or so after Clara had joined the group. At first glance, she was a young woman who had adopted the habit, one who could sail through crowds without raising a brow. Such a talent was a skill that Clara wished to master.

    The day the Sister walked into class left Clara puzzled since she could not remember having seen her before. A trait they later found out had saved her countless times.

    “Sex,” Sister Beatrice exclaimed while on her way to the podium.

    The class was silent went as a tomb. It was not an everyday occurrence (if ever) to have a nun utter that word. Or at least without the accompanying sting of a leather strap.

    Even though most of the classes looked as though they had witnessed a train wreck, Sister Beatrice took things a step further when she pulled a few pins from her habit and let her veil drop to the floor. Layers like her crown band, underveil, and coif followed suit. As though by magic, her long locks of auburn hair flowed down to her shoulders.

    Clara grinned, there was a lesson to be learned here. Many of the girls were busy wondering how many taboos had been broken so far.

    Her tunic was the last item left to to drop and showcased her a stunning hourglass figure. Gone was the mousey woman who could hide in a crowd. This version of Sister Beatrice could bring about serious neck injury to any male student.

    This had been a vixen in sheep’s clothing, with the veil removed Clara saw how Sister Beatrice’s ample breasts were barely contained by her little black dress. Clara could tell that a few of the girls were somewhat uncomfortable, but doubted their bruised sensibilities were the cause.

    “Sex or even the idea of sex can have great sway over people,” Sister Beatrice said. “Can anyone name a few themes people associate with sex,” she asked.

    From the back row of the class came, “It sells.”

    “Correct,” Sister Beatrice said. “Advertising often portray beautiful portraits of men and women to appeal to persons baser instincts,” she added.

    “It evokes trust,” Clara thought.

    “Art,” the word came from the corner of the room.

    “Sex and sensuality has led people to create beautiful works that have been cherished for generations,” Sister Beatrice said. “Does anyone believe that the Mona Lisa would have been painted if she were a shrill hag? Ever wonder why she was smiling,” she asked.

    The girls giggled, that meant the atmosphere in the class was beginning to thaw. They were beginning to get over the provocative nature of the entrance.

    Had that been her intent all along? A nun in a habit would have led to a muted discussion.

    “Murder and war,” Clara said.

    Several of the girls stopped giggling as soon as those words reached their ears. For a moment Clara felt as though the class’ collective gaze were focused on her.

    “Not many students mention that aspect,” Sister Beatrice said.

    For a moment she observed Clara but quickly shifted her attention. Apparently this had been the opening needed to continue on with the lecture.

    “There are stories of wars fought over the love of a woman. Duels, murder and deceit can often be attributed to interactions with the fairer sex,” Sister Beatrice said.

    “Women are not guiltless in this matter,” Sister Beatrice said. “Women have killed to keep a man in their lives or prevent competition,” she added.

    By this time the girls were murmuring, questioning the course material and how this all tied together. Clara had an idea on where this was going and looked forward to watching it develop.

    “Now… Now… Girls,” Sister Beatrice said. “Sex is also a weapon,” she added just as the girls were starting to simmer down.

    “How,” an older student asked.

    Clara could fathom a few scenarios that fit the bill; heck, she had survived an example case. Alas that meant she could never truly forget what had happened. Henceforth Jack would always be there in the back of her mind.

    “It disarms your target,” Clara whispered.

    Clara noticed that Edith was staring right at her. Was she concerned about her tone of voice? She was normally assertive, not milquetoast. Clara could feel all those eyes on her now, burning a hole into her skull. This moment been a long overdue, and it was that time it came out in the open.

    “Correct,” Sister Beatrice said. “The process of flirting, foreplay and ultimately barneymugging can be used for or against you.”

    A few girls giggled at the word barneymugging. Clara remained silent, hoping someone else would take up the relay.

    “How,” Edith said as though reading her mind.

    “Good question,” Sister Beatrice asked. “Can anyone take a stab at it,” she asked.

    Once again the room went quiet, it was obvious that most of the girls were unwilling to delve further into this topic. Some wanted to avoid ending up in Clara’s place whereas others were just waiting for Clara to speak up so they could hear more.

    “Between a rock and a hard place,” Clara thought.

    Clara gulped and steadied her nerves because there was no backing away now. She needed to get through this, so she might as well do it on her terms.

    “Their kind have a way of praying on our base instincts,” Edith said. “All you can think about is your burning desires that only they can satiate,” she added.

    Clara cocked her head to get a better look at Edith. The answer was eerily like the one she planned on, including in the depth of emotion. Had her friend experienced a similar event?

    “You are incapable of coherent thought, your instincts scream out for you to do something, but they are drowned out by your needs,” Clara added.

    “That,” Sister Beatrice said. “That is how they often control their prey. They have used this skill to hunt for millennia,” she added.

    Students were beginning to whisper amongst themselves. The little hens had just been handed a treasure trove of rumours to spread.

    “How do we defend ourselves,” a student asked.

    Clara smiled at Edith and said, “Faith, luck, willpower or a partner concealed nearby.”

    Sister Beatrice looked at Edith and Clara before she went on. Had this been planned as a therapeutic session? Had this another thinly veiled test? To what end?

    “Willpower,” Sister Beatrice said. “Is rarely effective against their kind. The older they get, the more powerful their abilities to manipulate us become.”

    The chatter between the girls was growing in intensity. There was static in the air that was intangible and difficult to explain. In the end, all it took was a single look from Sister Beatrice to kill it.

    “As for luck,” Sister Beatrice said. “Luck is always a factor but not something that no one should count on,” she added.

    “It takes an incredibly brave person to head into danger while knowing they might never return,” Sister Beatrice said.

    “Or foolhardy,” Clara said in a defeatist tone. “Sister,” she added belatedly.

    “The difference of which is how successful the fool was on that particular endeavour,” Beatrice said before she smirked.

    “As for a partner,” Sister Beatrice said. “Hunters often do so in pairs,” she said.

    “Boy and girl Sister,” a student asked with a hint of excitement riding on every word.

    While the question had been asked to see if they would be interacting more with their male counterparts it remained valid. Clara however guessed there were other elements at play, one that only a few students present were able to comprehend.

    “Generally not child,” Sister Beatrice said.

    The formal pattern of speech had been used to dissuade students from overtly showing their disappointment. This was a serious topic for discussion and thinking about boys did little to help.

    “Women are typically paired together. There is no better way to hide then posing as sisters or later on spinsters,” Sister Beatrice said.

    Clara found it odd that the sapphic nature of some of these girls had not been mentioned. Admittedly someone with such inclinations were still considered taboo by the church. There was an obvious advantage to a hunter who was immune to the conventional fare. Clara had an idea on how to explore that aspect without being too obvious.

    “So they cannot affect more than one subject at a time Sister,” Clara asked.

    There was a brief hesitation in the Sister’s voice while she said, “They can, but we ensure the effect of a threat is mitigated ahead of time.”

    Sometimes a non-answer was enough to confirm a hypothesis. Clara would take on the male vampires while her partner would go after the women. It made sense, seeing as they would need a viable subject to be bait. What better way for their partner to strike then when their prey was otherwise occupied?

    It also explained Sister Beatrice’s attempt at selling same sex teams. Posing as husband and wife could lead to additional complications that would make them vulnerable. One could not afford that kind of attachment to their partner when on the hunt.

    Besides how else could Clara manipulate men for information? It would be difficult to seduce a man if she posed as a married woman or appeared to be spoken for… Well at least for some of the men.

    Edith was smiling as though trapped in a pleasant daydream. Was Edith looking right at her? Did she know something that Clara did not?

    Clara was not certain of much right now. This was a new situation which brought about a new set of challenges. However, she had a hunch that this particular series of lectures would not only prove to be useful but would also be memorable.

    Sure the old wounds left by Jack might resurface, but that would only harden her soul. In the end, this was a necessary step to take. In the future she would be sure that the tables were turned on them.

    Besides, she had also found a kindred spirit in Edith. That meant Clara only needed to persevere, toughen up and face the world waiting to strike her down. After all, there were a few years left of schooling before she had to face the world.

  • Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part IV

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Clara followed Edith while they made their way through the depths of the Tower, past the restricted section of the main library. Once they reached the North wall, Edith stopped dead in her tracks and turned to face Clara.

    “Ever heard of Georgian’s,” Edith asked.

    Clara suppressed her surprise before she replied, “Rumours, innuendos and whispers carried by the wind.”

    “Good to know that we still have some secrets left,” Edith said. “We don’t know much about them , other than the fact that they have abilities and technology that outstrips our own,” she added.

    Edith glided over the spines of the books until she found the right one, with a singular touch the book began to glow. Without any hesitation she walked right through the bookshelf.

    When Clara attempted to do the same her head bounced off the books and landed straight on her rump. Another surprise for this week, but this time she suspected a key piece of information had been withheld. The theory was confirmed once Edith’s head popped out from the books and she giggled.

    “You’ll need to touch On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres by Nicolaus Copernicus to pass through,” Edith said before she vanished.

    This time Clara did as instructed and watched the book glow. She then pushed through the shelves easily as though they were an illusion, one that had stopped her cold in her tracks a moment ago.

    Once she made it through Clara found herself in a high vaulted chamber. It reached out further than the eye could see although that might have had something to do with the poor lighting.

    “Some believe the Georgians are mages, others see them as a secret order of scientists. A new theory circulating amongst the younger staff describe them as a species alien to this planet,” Edith said.

    While they pushed deeper into the chamber Clara noted the series of alcoves built into the walls. Some were chock-full of weapons, while others contained armour, clothing and jewellery. Everything that a liberated femme fatale needed to wage war on the enemy.

    Within the chamber, there were mats and targets spread throughout and intermixed with fashionable furniture. It seemed like a lounge dedicated to comfort, fashion and combat. Clara’s eyes glowed with excitement, there was so much fun to be had here.

    “They are the reason why the Tower still exists. Without their direct involvement we would have been overrun by our enemies long ago,” Edith said.

    Clara listened to every word, even when she came across a series of small pistols on a table. She ran her hand over the cool steel of the weapons, curious on the carnage she could unleash with these.

    “What’s the catch,” Clara asked when she picked up a double barrelled derringer.

    “Smart girl,” Edith said. “Payment varies based on the request. Sometimes they exchange intelligence and knowledge,” she added.

    “Raw materials, precious gems and money,” Clara asked.

    She pointed the derringer towards a target. There was no rear sight so that meant this was a close-in weapon.

    “Sometimes,” Edith said without expanding on that.

    What was left unsaid told Clara much. It was probably safe to assume that students disappeared from time to time so the Tower could make good on its payments. Sure it seemed cold, but they were at war.

    Clara squeezed the first trigger until the hammer struck the primer. There was a great puff of smoke followed by a gaping hole in the target.

    “What the—,” Clara exclaimed.

    “Should have warned you,” Edith said. “Although it’s more entertaining to learn that lesson first hand,” she added.

    Right before her eyes the target began to repair itself. Clara observed the gaping hole disappear then heard a slight thud when the projectile hit the floor.

    “Georgian,” Clara asked.

    Edith nodded and grabbed a big heavy metallic ball from another table. It was made of thick steel with pre-fragmented segments. At the top there was a brass fitting followed by a loop.

    “German Kugelhandgranate,” Edith said.

    The elder then attached the loop to a hook and tossed it at Clara’s feet. It smoked for a few seconds until it erupted into a ball of flame sending metal and burnt black powder in every direction.

    Clara opened her eyes and saw that she was no worse for wear. However the furniture and targets within a couple of yards were shredded. At least initially and within moments everything was back to normal.

    “Anti-personnel grenade, while heavy they are deadly when properly deployed,” Edith said.

    “So we can play without consequence,” Clara asked.

    “Correct,” Edith said. “Any questions,” she asked.

    “Where are the other girls,” Clara asked.

    “Most are training or in their quarters, although some are in this room as we speak,” Edith said. “This room can provide privacy when needed. Just like you and I are enjoying right now,” she added.

    “Where can a girl get her hands on a machine gun,” Clara asked with a grin.

    “Right over there,” Edith said, unfazed by the question.

    They both smirked before heading towards the goodies. Was this the beginning of a great friendship?

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Copyright © 2018 by Evelyn Chartres (Nom de Plume)
    All rights reserved.

  • Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part III

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    The next day Clara returned to her classes. There was a renewed fire within her heart, especially when it came to matters of faith. Clara was very keen to ensure that creatures like Jack would have a natural aversion to her. If all it took was a little faith, then she would make sure to have plenty on hand. All she needed was to change her perspective, such as dismissing the will of God as blind luck; that in itself was starting to seem unlikely that luck was the only factor. After all this was her second encounter with one of them where she got away.

    Once the sun had set, Edith came down the stairs and went straight for Clara. It was rare for Clara to come across the older students since they were often out on advanced training. Edith was especially difficult to keeps tabs on for reasons that she never knew.

    “Clara,” Edith said to get her attention. “You’re being transferred,” she added.

    “Where to,” Clara asked.

    “Les Filles de Jeanne d’Arc,” Edith said.

    Clara’s eyes brightened, but did not let any more than that betray her composure. She had heard of this group named after Joan of Arc. The only woman in history to have lead a nation’s armies into battle.

    It was said that these were an elite group of girls who advanced quickly through the ranks. Their training was rigorous and secretive, in fact even publicly admitting to being a part of that group meant dismissal.

    Clara often wondered just what could be learned as part of that group. Up until now she had no particular affiliation, even though she had progressed at a faster pace than her peers. Her youth was seen as a serious hindrance to joining such a group. That is until now.

    “When,” Clara asked.

    “Immediately,” Edith said with a smile.

    This was an opportunity of a lifetime and Clara silently hoped to avoid the fate of their namesake. Tied to a stake and burned as a heretic for her faith, Clara could not think think of an outcome that was less desirable.

    “Very well,” Clara said. “I suppose,” she added with a wink.

    Fortunately her attempt at humour had been well received. Since Edith was directly involved with this group, it paid to have a friend within their ranks.

  • Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part II

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    “Why has Clara returned late from her sabbatical,” the Reverend Mother asked.

    Clara was about to speak, to explain her situation but Edith jumped in instead. At least this time Clara did not need to talk her way out of trouble

    “She was attacked by one of them Reverend Mother,” Edith said in a formal tone. “She claims that a former student who was known as Jonathan Carmichael was responsible,” she added.

    This was the first time that Clara had seen a change in the Reverend Mother’s stoic mask. This time her eyes went wide with surprise; of all the times to wish for a camera!

    “Is this true child,” Augustine asked.

    “Yes Reverend Mother,” Clara replied.

    “Clara also discovered that Jonathan had been responsible for the disappearance of at least six other girls over the past two years,” Edith said.

    The Reverend Mother cocked her brow. That sort of information was hard to come by and easily appeared to be far fetched. This was precisely the scenario that Clara had wished to avoid.

    “Sometimes truth was stranger than fiction,” Clara thought.

    “How child,” Augustine asked.

    “I got lucky Reverend Mother,” Clara replied.

    “Surely there is more to the story than mere luck,” the Reverend Mother asked.

    Clara took a deep breath and began to recite her sordid tale. She went over the details on how Jack set a trap, how she gained the upper hand and cleared up the evidence. The Reverend Mother hung on every word in awe on how calm Clara appeared to be, or at least on the outside.

    She then went on to describe the artwork and focused on the portrait she brought with her. Evidence that provided a vital link to the Father Michael’s death, recent whereabouts of the one responsible and hinted at the scope of their intelligence network. To be honest, it left them with more questions than it answered.

    Clara doubted she would be involved in any effort to tie all of this information together. Although she was certain that Tower was marginally safer, at least for now.

    “Please leave us please child,” the Reverend Mother said.

    Clara nodded and left without saying a word. All the while she wondered why Edith would remain.

    On her way down the stairs, she saw several members of the staff hurry on by. It seemed that Clara had created a bit of a stir; a rare occasion where this type of response did not land her in hot water.

  • Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part I

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Clara had no idea what to expect once she got back to the Tower. Full-fledged hunters with years of experience often disappeared without a trace, so for an acolyte to return where so many had failed? Now that was bound to get some attention.

    Clara knew that her credibility would be questioned. Others had claimed kills that were not their own to progress through the ranks. Such a lie would be far more plausible than returning as the victor after walking into a trap.

    Clara took a deep breath while focusing on the door leading into the Tower. While this area had no defences beyond obfuscation, Clara was certain that something would happen once she opened that door. The question was what?

    Clara closed her eyes, let out her breath and recited a prayer. With one push of her hand the door gave way and she crossed the threshold.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Blinding white light greeted her on the other side, Clara struggled in vain to keep her eyes open. Even during that brief attempt her vision was marred with deep purple streaks.

    So that particular door led to other destinations? Clara had suspected that direct and unfettered access to the Tower would pose a security risk. In a way, it was reassuring to learn that the Tower had a few more secrets left, especially those which favoured self-preservation.

    Clara did not move, because she felt the sharp edge of a blade touch her skin. A thin rivulet of blood ran down her neck but she was not worried. This had been a warning, if they wanted her dead, Clara would have never known what hit her.

    “There are very few ways to trigger the Tower’s defences,” Edith said.
    Clara said nothing, since speaking would only worsen the bleeding. If Edith was interested in an answer, she would have to permit it.

    “Traitors are not welcome here,” Edith said. “So why are you still alive,” she asked.

    The blade remained firmly in place. Chances were that Edith had expected Clara to be a smouldering heap of ash right now.

    “I wonder if that would the best time to cook a marshmallow,” Clara thought.

    At this moment Clara was in Limbo, caught in a state between life and death. Clara needed to convince Edith that she was not here to betray them.

    Clara reached into her pocket in a slow and deliberate manner. She then found her prize and dropped them onto the floor. The two bloodied fangs made no more sound than a pin drop. Wherever they were it had to be spacious to dampen the sound to this extent.

    “Where did you get those,” Edith asked while she sheathed her blade.

    Clara turned around and felt something being dropped into her hands. Her fingers probed the metallic, glass and leather device. Without a second thought she slipped them over her head to protect her eyes. Now she had the opportunity to take a look at where she was.

    Edith stood before her while sporting spectacles fitted with onyx coloured lenses. They looked a bit like welders glasses and assumed she had been given an identical pair.

    “Jack surrendered them,” Clara said.

    “Jack,” Edith asked with a hint of confusion.

    Clara nodded before she said, “Must have been turned a couple of years back.”

    “Jack? We had no intelligence on this,” Edith said.

    Clara pulled out the folded canvas portrait which contained the list of girls killed. The portrait had the same effect on Edith as it had for Clara.

    “He was careful on who to ambush and when,” Clara said. “He even painted a tableau mort for every one of those poor girls,” she added.

    “You got the better on him,” Edith asked.

    “I got lucky,” Clara said. “So what now,” she asked.

    Edith focused intently on Clara’s facial features. In that moment her fate was being decided based on very little evidence. Clara hoped that this glimpse at the truth was enough.

    “Follow me,” Edith said.

    They walked away from the blinding light until the levels dropped to a manageable level. Both Edith and Clara removed their glasses and hung them against a whitewashed wall. It took a moment, but Edith found a hidden latch which enabled her to push away a portion of the wall.

    Clara had visited many fortifications as part of her training. She saw arrow slits in the rock and larger openings that would permit a small cannon loaded with grapeshot to fire salvos. Simply put, this was a killing field designed to prevent entry.

    At the end of the tunnel there were heavy steel doors reinforced with massive rivets. Clara had never seen those doors before. Once they walked through, Clara found herself safely within the confines of the Terminus.

    “A pocket of reality to keep undesirables away,” Edith said.

    That was a detail that Jack would have wanted to get his hands on, so Clara would have died for nothing. Another reason why Clara should have been thankful that her strategy had worked out after all.

    A moment later they were back in the Main Hall. No one seemed to be paying her any particular attention so no alarms had been raised. Edith moved at a frightening pace, so Clara did her best to keep up even while they made their way up to the Reverend Mother’s office.

    Clara had been to see her before, to clear up some misunderstandings. Old habits did die hard after all, but this time there would be a lot of explaining to do.

  • Two Ships Passing in the Night – Part V

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Clara sat at a table by her favourite café. She observed the morning crowd flow while they made their way to work or school. There was a certain sense of satisfaction for not being bound by the clock.

    Busy sipping on a latté, Clara closed her eyes and relaxed. While she was not bound by time, she knew someone whose time was about to come at an abrupt end.

    The first break in flow started with a few hushed voices. With every passing second, the crowd grew larger until people began to panic.

    “Fire! Fire,” a man exclaimed marking it as the first coherent statement yet.

    Hurried footsteps passed by, close enough that clara felt the rush of air pass by. Within five minutes she heard sirens approaching in the distance.

    Clara opened her eyes and saw a mob surrounding the bistro. She feigned curiosity but knew exactly that was going on.

    “Sir,” Clara asked in an alarmed voice. “What is going on,” she asked.

    “The Cabaret down the street is on fire,” the man replied without taking his eyes off the carnage.

    “A shame,” Clara thought, seeing how that would delay breakfast.
    “Is anyone hurt,” Clara asked, but was ignored.

    For the next several hours the crowd grew and contracted like the tide. Men fought hard to save the building but the fire ultimately claimed its prize. Eventually the stone structure was reduced to a smouldering heap of broken brick and stone.

    “That should take care of all evidence nicely,” Clara thought.

    She got up from the table, paid her tab with a generous tip and melted into the crowd. Today was a new day and seeing that traitorous bastard burn made things right as rain.

    She thought back over one of Professor Stephen’s lectures. Many of the students had chosen to ignore his wisdom, discounting it as a work of fantasy.

    Clara had known better and paid close attention to the lecture on the effects of daylight for these creatures. Direct light could sear flesh or during longer exposures cause the body to erupt in a fiery inferno. In that moment, she knew that their bodies could easily be disposed of.

    All she needed was a clear head and a little forethought. That knowledge had certainly done the trick this morning.

  • Two Ships Passing in the Night – Part IV

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Clara remember little after he took her hand. A distant voice in the back of her mind tried to protest her leaving before the show, but it had been drowned by her desires. In that moment she would have gladly held the weight of the world, all Jack had to do was ask.

    She did not remember shedding her clothes when they entered his room. Clara had followed his lead and hurried their way towards the inviting bed. She even went so far as to hop on one foot to shed her stockings.

    When he directed her to get on the bed and Clara did so without saying a word. Naked and vulnerable, her heart was racing and she and desperately sought to feel every inch of him.

    Jack watched from a distance before he joined her. He glided over the bed, moving between her inviting legs then hovered over her. It felt like a cool breeze was running over her skin and covered her in gooseflesh. Everything he did made her want him more, so much so that her nipples were hard and her body ached.

    When his lips were no more than an inch from hers, he gripped her wrists with monstrous strength. That earlier voice spoke up again in the hopes of raising the call to arms, but she was hopelessly at his mercy.

    Her lack of response made him smile. This was precisely where he wanted her to be.

    “So typical,” Jack said. “Hungry for a bit of freedom from that wretched place. You all claim to be ladies; above that base desire for sex, but I know better. In the end you all end up on this bed desperate to be defiled,” Jack added with disdain.

    There was no one home, Clara did nothing more than stare into his eyes. Jack could have rhymed off the box scores of a baseball game and Clara would have yearned for him all the same.

    “All the other girls died in agony because they did not tell me what I wanted to know,” Jack said.

    He moved in closer and closer until his lips almost brushed against hers.

    “You’re stronger than they were aren’t you Clara,” Jack said. “You going to tell me everything I want to know after this kiss,” he added.

    Jack pushed his lips against hers, forcing her lips open with his tongue. For a moment time slowed down as her mind struggled to break through all defences.

    Still, he was in complete control of her body, there was little she could do to counteract that raw strength. That is until his eyes opened wide, jerked away then released his grip.

    “You bitch” he exclaimed.

    With the fog lifted from Clara’s mind, the part of her cognizant of his intent asserted itself with a vengeance. She used forearm to push against his neck to force him off.

    Without a thought her hands glided over the features of his face until they found two soft mounds. Clara pressed in with her thumbs, pushing into the soft flesh until she felt the base of his eye sockets.

    He screamed in pain, creating a sound inhuman in origin. To prevent any unwanted guests, Clara pulled away the crucifix and exposed the blade.
    Jack flailed in pain was flailing around like a fish on the water, while covering his eyes as though there was something left to protect. With Clara’s faculties fully her own, she danced around the bed until she faced his back.

    Her attacks were vicious and bloody. Her first strike was aimed at his spine and severed his nerves. Jack went limp but her she never stopped, stabbing him over and over.

    Blood splattered throughout and the room was soon covered in gore. Nothing could dissuade her, not until she had landed a killing blow, accomplished only once his head dropped onto the floor.

    Clara stopped cold, her breathing heavy and jagged. On the verge of exhaustion, her hands trembled so much she was barely able hold onto her weapon. Her vision was blurred but a quick wipe against her forearm permitted her to see clearly again.

    “That bastard,” Clara exclaimed while tears streamed down her bloody cheeks.

    She should have trusted her instincts and reached out for some reinforcements. Perhaps they could have captured him and found out how many girls he killed?

    “Pull yourself together,” Clara said to harden herself.

    Her eyes scanned the room and found it to be nondescript. At least until she looked closer the bed and the imagery of a slaughterhouse it conjured.

    There was a steamer trunk in the corner when she got up from the bed just as the viscous blood began to bead and flow down her body. Clara did her best to ignore the discomfort.

    The trunk was not locked, and soon discovered that it contained art supplies. This was a part of Jack that Clara had never previously observed. Never had this man shown any interest in the arts, let alone charcoals or paints.

    “Stop it,” Clara said.

    She needed to stop thinking about that headless corpse as anything more than a monster. One who would have killed her without hesitation. Still it was difficult to separate the two entities.

    Clara bit the inside of her cheek until she tasted blood. In that moment the pain focused her thoughts long enough to push away all emotion. She still had things to do, and they would not wait idly by until she got her act together.

    She rummaged through the artwork and found a series of disturbing charcoaled drawings. Each work featured a different model in all their macabre detail. The first had been drawn and quartered, but Clara recognised Blanche’s soft features despite the ample viscera.

    “Nettie, Ruth, Alma, Della, Lizzie, Sadie, Sallie,” Clara said once she recognised the victims from the portraits.

    Had Clara not been suspicious of his actions she would have ended up in another one of his tableaus. Another notch on his bed and potentially he would have gotten that information he needed to exact his revenge.

    As she flipped through his works, she came across a painting. She momentarily stopped breathing while her mind processed the image.

    Before her was the face of a woman that Clara had seen both in life and in her nightmares. To think that she once believed that angels would look like her, a beauty beyond compare. Too bad these sensual and feminine features concealed a brutality that would make Jack the Ripper or Elizabeth Báthory cringe.

    “That bitch,” Clara said.

    So that thing had recruited Jack and used him to do her dirty work? It explained how he found those like Clara when they were away unsupervised. The older and more powerful ones of their kind had spies and agents to do their dirty work. Jack was able to borrow this intelligence to strike at when they were most vulnerable.

    Now Clara was mad. She moved back towards the bed to have a better look at the severed head. There were signs that his eyes had begun to heal, one of the eyes had reinflated although the iris remained cloudy.

    There was a testament to their healing powers and served as a powerful reminder on how quickly the tables could have turned. Clara would have made it less than a hundred feet before he caught up to her had she run away.

    At least the holy water had proven to be effective, his lips looked as though they had been burned by fire. Clara would have to remember that trick in the future.

    She would also need to redouble her efforts to strengthen her faith. Jack should have found it difficult to approach her. At least if she were half as faithful as she believed.

    Truth be told she enjoyed the freedom because it allowed her to get some distance away from her faith. It was a big sacrifice for young women to give their lives for a cause, to give up on ever having a normal life.

    A couple of hours ago Jack could have realistically drawn her away from that world. The temptation to fall into his arms and have a regular life was powerful.

    For most of their lives, they had been two ships passing in the night. For years they had flown the same flags and paid their respects. This time he had flown under the flag of truce with all his cannons run out. His crime was unforgivable and she would make sure that he was erased from the history books.

    The voice of reason and logic whispered in the back of her mind. Clara would need to prove what had happened today, otherwise agents of the Tower may blame her all that had happened.

    Since her hands had steadied themselves, Clara picked up her crucifix and returned to Jack’s severed head. She then began the unpleasant task of cutting into its flesh until she pulled his fangs loose.

    Their fangs were able to retract, but they were longer and sharper than hers. She looked them over for a moment, since these were her first set, even if Clara had no interest in starting up a collection.

    Done with her grisly task, Clara found a nearby mirror to get a better look. Despite the gore there was something different about her. That twinkle in her eyes had been replaced by a burning flame and would remain aflame until she could calm down.

    “I wonder if that’s what they call a smoldering looks,” Clara asked with a grin.

    Her round cheeks and baby fat had gone, given way to a sharp chin and jaw and prominent cheekbones. It seemed that the elfin look that had been commented on years ago had come to fruition. It have her a distinguished yet feminine look which would be sure to pay dividends later in life.

    Her body had hollowed out in some areas and expanded in others. Clara had yet to notice how drastic the change had been, since her arrival at the Tower. Sometimes change was good.

    Clara had the body and grace of a dancer, although her chest was a bit more defined than the average prima ballerina. It was a fair compromise, she had the ability to turn heads but was still nimble enough to handle a sword.

    “That mime would so have talked,” Clara thought.
    Clara wiped off any blood using a clean set of Jack’s clothes. She noticed that it made the scene look more gruesome, but that would matter little in a moment.

    After a last check in the mirror she got dressed and gave the room one last run through. Clara considered taking the paintings back to the Tower, many would want some closure, but no one should be remembered for how they died.

    Instead, she took the portrait of that vampire and wrote the names of her victims clearly on the back. After a brief pause Clara added Jack’s name as well.

    Before leaving, Clara slid open the thick curtains which allowed the moonlight inside. She then pushed the chest against the door even as music filtered through from below.

    Next she opened the window then slid down a water spout. Fortunately, the ancient fixture creaked but held up to her weight.

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

    Copyright © 2018 by Evelyn Chartres (Nom de Plume)
    All rights reserved.