Isolde: Blood-Rose Guardians (a supplementary novella)

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Their arrival surprised me, vampires like me, but different all the same. It was the magical community that told me of their ordeal in the forest. I had long been cultivating my relationships with those from the other realm here in this most magical place. Tristan’s decision to place me here had been unwise for him, the reality of the situation revealed to me once I started exploring the island. Here, like nowhere else on the planet, I felt a connection with the other realm – here I was more than an apothecary, here I am a witch, blessed with the power of Wicca. The magic of the natural forces is abundant here; primal connections with the elements build an electro-magnetic field that encompasses the entire island and some of the ocean beyond the land’s borders. The aurorae that dance across the sky are the solar ions interacting with this field; their beautiful beams glowing, bringing light to the darkness. When Guinevere told me, so long ago that I would return to the light, she had been absolutely correct and I believe it was my interaction with her that had given me a key to the magical door hidden to all other vampires but a few in a precious blood-line; a Guardian blood-line.

Three identical triplets stood before me asking questions about hair-care products and I knew they were special. I could smell the blood on their breath that suggested that they had fed in the past six hours, but that wasn’t what pulled me in to their world – it was the rose birthmarks on their exposed backs. I believe this is a message for me. The blood-rose was my creation, my attempt to rid the world of vampires, but it had also been my link to Guinevere and she was something special. I believe that she has sent me these three and their siblings, and I believe that she has painted them each with the rose so that I would find my connection to them and to the Light that they so fiercely protect. I looked from one sister to the next, each one a marvellous creation; a clone of the others. There were legends about three magical sisters, a perfect trinity of Light energy. There were legends about their entire family, carefully hidden legends in this realm, but in the other, very well known. The Guardians of the Blood-Rose were here to protect the world from a Darkness even more pervasive than the depression of my past lives; they were here to save the world and it is my job to help them. I am convinced this is the path Guinevere promised would lead to my salvation. Finally, after all of this time, through exile and exploration, I find them here in Tasmania.

Their minds are closed off to me, which is interesting and probably a good thing for them, but an unusual dilemma for me, for one of my developing skills since my arrival here has been my telepathy. Now, after centuries and a deep connection to this land, this is one of my most powerful skills. I can read minds and if needs be, project thoughts into them. I needed to make contact with these girls, let them know that I was here to help…that I was sent by one of their own, but how?

“Excuse me,” I said to the closest girl, I needed to duck out the back to extract a phial of blood.

“Sure,” she replied, “we are nowhere near making a decision.”

I disappeared out of view and collected a new sample jar on my way past the counter. The door has a combination lock and in the time it takes me to open the lock, the girls have all turned to look at me. I find myself suddenly nervous and wary of the vampires in my midst.

“I’ll be back in just a second,” I called out and pulled the door closed behind me.

I bit my wrist and collected the blood in the sample jar. I let it run until the jar was half full and then healed the wound with a lick of my tongue, then I sealed the jar and washed my hands. I put the jar in my pocket and returned to the girls in the shop front of the pharmacy.

“Now have you made a decision?” I asked.

“Yes,” said one of them, “we have decided that you are a vampire, but that you are different to normal vampires.”

“You tried to read our minds before,” a different one stated, “why?”

“I was trying to figure out if you were the Guardians I was sent to help,” I replied honestly.

“You were sent to help us? By whom?” Asked the third girl.

“Guinevere,” I replied.

“Oh…can you prove it?” She asked suspicious and with good reason I suspected.

“Um…I can show you the memory or you could take this,” I said handing over the specimen jar containing my blood.

“We’ll do both, if you don’t mind.”

“Okay – who will I show?” I asked.

“We’ll all see,” declared the first one, “hold out your hands”.

The girls formed a circle with me, each of us holding hands, it was strangely reminiscent of a Wiccan practice. We all closed our eyes and opened our minds. The steel doors of their minds came down and allowed me entry to the foyer of their mental mansions. I took a deep breath and recalled my interaction with Guinevere.

“Welcome, Isölde, friend of the Guardian Guinevere – we appreciate your help and friendship,” they all offered in unison.

“We’ll be in touch when we need your help.”

They dropped my hands, gave me a smile and left the store without any hair care products but with the phial of my blood secreted away in one of their handbags. I was a little taken aback – they needed my help now…how could they not know that? They were clearly young vampires, but experienced in battle and should have been wise enough to ask me what I knew – why I had bothered to introduce myself in the first place. As my salvation into the Light, waltzed out the door, I realised I might need to find a different Guardian – at least there were plenty to choose from! The greatest obstacle would be getting in contact with another one here in Tasmania because I am still not ready to leave these protected shores.

Weeks went by before the Guardian girls contacted me, but by then I had come across another Guardian. It coincided with the decision I had made to stop being a pharmacist for a while so that I could concentrate on the changing magics in the environment. Since meeting the triplets, I had noticed significant changes in the way Tasmania seemed to vibrate. Things felt as though they were out of tune. It was normal for me to escape the busy, people-filled world by hiking in the wilderness; it helped me to reconnect with my origins and I felt much better alone in the forest than trapped behind a counter in a shop. I was much better at isolation and the wild places than dealing with a populous so far removed from that which I had known as a young woman. The biggest complication, I think, is that I still look like I am a young woman, but I have no real desire to do any of the expected young woman things. I don’t like night clubs – though they are a great place to get a blood meal, but the music and flashing lights are an unnecessary onslaught to my senses. I’m not really into water sports, having been trapped on islands for most of my very long life. In all honesty, I don’t have a thing in common with modern youth. I am distracted by other things and find disgrace in the behaviours of my ‘peers’. I am also sick and tired of being treated as a young adult rather than the oldest amongst all who dwell on the island. The men, in particular, are condescending and treat me as though I am both naïve and inexperienced in the ways of the world! I may not yet have been on an aeroplane, but I have seen my fair share of flying machines, and it is true that the last large boat that I have been on was made of wood with sales, but that does not mean that I have not kept up with the technology of the world. My garage is full of devices long since surpassed by new and improved technological advances. It looks like a museum in there. I must admit, I do prefer the modern technologies – machines that do your dishes for you, wash and dry your clothes, televisions and DVD players that show movies at the click of a button. Devices, that enable instant communication across the world – of course, I have a far more ancient and private method of doing the same thing, and with my method – I didn’t need to worry about other people listening in!

Thomas was a fortunate find. He was already on the path of the evil in the depths of the Tasmanian wilderness and when I introduced myself to him, he seemed happy to have the help. He will be a fine ally in this cause. His mind was a complicated mess of memories, but it seemed he was working desperately to get a hold of them. I introduced myself as a guide into the wilderness, but I was also willing to guide his magical development and ensure he was prepared to fight whatever demons our excursions into the wild places would find. His fiancé startled me, and further the revelation that each of the Guardian Elizabeth’s nine children were in the process of, or already had formed, an alliance with a magical creature so pure in their magical essence that they could have only been direct descendants of the creator or all beings of Light: Isis. I could envisage a great connection between myself and the Guardians and I believed whole-heartedly that Guinevere had spoken the truth when she had stated that I would find my way back to the Light. Whether or not, this particular set of circumstances was what she had foreseen, was irrelevant as I knew from the core of my being that I was…finally…on the right path.

Thomas accidently shared many details with me and I was glad, for his sake, that his ally was making him work on closing his mind. He had, for example, revealed that it was his family who had freed me from the spells and bindings of Tristan when they had destroyed most of that most-wicked family in Paris. I also knew, that the demons Thomas and his family had faced were far more physical than the metaphorical ones I had spent my life facing. I no longer believe in coincidences, destiny had bought me here and had given me time to amply prepare for my journey toward the light, meeting the Guardians was decreed millennia ago and, finally, after all of the waiting, after all of the hardships, my time had come!

I quit my job and set to work converting one of the spare bedrooms in my house into a proper, traditional apothecary studio. There were potions and elixirs to make, new ingredients to source; maps to dust off and correct as urbanisation had impinged on the wild places. There was much to do to be ready to help the Guardians in their most honoured endeavour. I needed to review the old texts and seek out any information about the final battle; Armageddon was on the horizon and I needed to be prepared because this time – I would have a front-row seat!

Boxes, long since relegated to storage in my garage were dusted off and returned to the light. I had collected all that I could, given my circumstances in the past, but, being trapped in Iceland with its regular visitation from Irish monks, it turned out was quite enlightening and I was able to procure several books from their weary hands. It had been much harder here in Tasmania until the first benefactors of science and history turned up and then procurement took a steady leap forward. The museum and later the university, had offered up many goods and, by the final quarter of the last century, devices that could copy a page instantly, meant that I could collect much information without needing to procure an entire book. Then, the World Wide Web was invented and everything changed! Information was at my fingertips. I could collect it and save it and read it at my pleasure. Oh, how things had changed when that was shared with the world. The first computer I learned to use was the size of a bus – a large bus, and, by today’s standards, did little more than an abacus, but now my iPhone and laptop store more information than that first computer ever could. They, too, give me access to more information in one seating than I had in all the years between my birth and the arrival of the white colonists in Tasmania! The world is at my fingertips and I am able to explore much of it despite my lack of physical connection to anything outside of Tasmania. In hindsight, there is more that I could have learned about the wider world since my departure from it, but most of it had not been necessary to my life here at the bottom of the world. I could have sought out people significant to my past and perhaps my future through the social media networks now so prolific, but I hadn’t, instead I had lived my peaceful life here unencumbered by the debts of the past. When I had been so unceremoniously deposited here so long ago, there was no way but forward and so I had put one foot in front of the next and made it through a day at a time. Soon, however, those days became weeks and weeks transformed into years. Time started moving forward at an exponential rate once the Europeans colonised this place. I moved from a period where time mattered not, into one where there was so little time in each day to do all that was needed. Originally I had used the time at my disposal to survive – to hunt, find shelter and make the tools and furs I needed to stay alive, but now I can wander down to the local supermarket and collect a basket full of food – enough for several meals in a row; I can purchase clothes to keep me warm in a matter of minutes and I can drive my car from one side of the state to the other in a few hours and yet, with all of these time-saving abilities, I seem to have less time now than I ever did in the past!

The first time I saw Thomas, he was coming out of a meeting, briefcase in hand and a pained expression on his face. His suit was neat but not expensive, it was a navy blue – professional yet understated and completely appropriate for his position as a new lawyer in a firm. He had walked with purpose; clear intent registering in his persona as he walked to a nearby motel and then came out again moments later dressed casually and carrying a note book. I followed him, secretly, through Hobart itself and then up to the Domain and around its based until we entered the Botanic Gardens. He moved around the garden, map in hand crossing areas off as he went. Every so often, he would casually lean against an old tree, large in girth and wide of canopy…it was clear he was looking for something in particular, but I had no idea what that might be. Eventually, I approached him and introduced myself. I handed him the phial of my blood, just as I had with the triplets, Thomas, though, was far more responsive of my offer for help.

This first encounter was months ago now, and time moved faster and faster from that moment. Once he had revealed to me what he was looking for and how I might help him find it – our relationship quickly built and I moved from hired help toward friendship. His fiancé, Amelia, was most gracious in her inclusion of me into their world and I could immediately discern her wisdom, time-old knowledge and experience of one so ancient that she made me look like I was still an infant! In this friendship I found new purpose, and I think, my path back into the Light.

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