In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 32 - Talking fangs and magic



“Now, tell me everything you saw!” Said Le’Blanc.
John lifted his fear-struck eyes up at the old sheriff, his lips trembling.
“It’s li-like I said.” He sobbed. “She was ly-lying naked on our bed. Blo-blood everywhere!” John shook his head, back arching while his hands covered his crying face. The sheriff gave him a moment to try and recollect himself, patting his back.
“I understand. Did you notice anything else? Anything at all? I know how hard this is for you but try to tell me all the details you can remember.”
As soon as John heard the word ‘detail’ his body froze, eyes open with a mix of fear, worry and horror. In truth, he remembered one very specific detail. His gaze shot up to the sheriff, hands tightly grabbing the sheriff’s arms, which stared at John with surprise.
“It was him!”
“Him WHO?”
“The-the forest gho-ghost! He did this to my wife. He bit her!”
Le’Blanc removed John’s hands from himself, pushing the man to sit back in his chair. Only then, had John realized that he had half stood from the chair, looking back to where he was sitting but also checking his surroundings. The sheriff found his actions weird, to say the least, but again, he had just been traumatized by finding his wife in that state.
“Did you see the Forest Ghost?”
“N-no… YES!” Le’Blanc frowned.
“Yes or no?”
“Yes! I saw his face right before he fled through the window.”
“Ok… Do you remember anything else specifically?”
“Ye-yes!” John shifted in his chair, looking uncomfortable and scared. Le’Blanc had never seen this man scared in his life. “He had long teeth and red eyes.”
“Long teeth and red eyes?” Repeated the sheriff, furrowing an eyebrow.
“Yes. A-a… vam-vampire!”
The old sheriff sat back, letting his body relax while releasing a long sigh.
“There are no such things as vampires, John! You must have confused it somehow.” Before the sheriff was even done talking, John was already shaking his head vehemently.
“NO! I-I’m positive! It was the Forest Ghost and he is a VAMPIRE!!!” John stood with his last few words, gathering the attention of the onlookers and forcing the sheriff to grab him and forcefully make him sit back down.
“John! Don’t say those things out loud!”
“But you don’t believe me!”
“I believe you saw something but I don’t believe it’s exactly what you say it is but I will definitely check it out! Now, try to calm yourself down! I know your situation right now but getting rilled up won’t help your wife.” Finally, his speech got John to somewhat calm himself enough to relax a little. “Anything else you can remember?” John kept his eyes down to the floor, shaking his head ‘no’.
At this precise moment, a very agitated young man came running into the hospital.
“Daaad?” Once inside, he stopped, looking around until his eyes met his father’s.
John immediately stood but the sheriff held his arm to keep him from moving away.
“Son!” Thomas rushed to his father.
“What happened to mom? I came home from school and our house was completely closed off by the cops!” His eyes shifted to the sheriff, feeling very much lost. “All I could get from them was that you two were in the hospital.”
Le’Blanc let go of John’s arms and shifted his attention to the young Thomas.
“Did you speak with your mother today?” Thomas nodded. “Do you remember when you last spoke with her?”
“She woke me up for school so we could have breakfast together.” The sheriff nodded along, taking a few notes in his notepad.
“How was she? Did she look or sound distressed in any way?”
“Not really. She was excited about her date with dad later today but other than that, she was pretty much the same.”
“Alright! I will let you two in peace. Contact me if you remember any more details.”
Le’Blanc gave a pause, taking in the Cortney’s who just stared at him, John nodding lightly.
As soon as the sheriff walked away, Rosetta approached them again.
“Excuse me, Sir but you can go home and clean yourself if you want. The operation will take a few hours.”
“Operation? What happened to my mother?” Asked Thomas, exasperated until his father grabbed his shoulder.
“The Forest Ghost attacked her.” Thomas' eyes widened like saucers, understanding what was going on. His father turned to the nurse. “I’m gonna go home for a shower and grab some clothes for my wife. I’m sure she will want something nice and clean to use when she can leave this place.”
“Absolutely, Sir.”
They walked out of the hospital with John taking deep breaths to calm himself down. It wasn’t the time to panic. The nurses were right. There wasn’t anything he could do for his wife now, she was in good care. He needed to act right away.
“Dad, I can stay while you go home.”
“No!” John shook his head. “We need to talk. You’re driving!”
They got themselves inside the car, locking the doors but staying in the parking lot.
“Haaaaaa… we can’t go home. The cops are still there.” Said Thomas when he was about to drive off the parking lot.”
“That’s right.... Well, take us to the weapon store. I got some clothes there. Guess your mother will have to wait until the cops are done with the house before I can get her clothes.”
The drive to the weapon store was quiet. John kept looking out the window with saddened eyes. When they got to the store, John made sure the door was properly closed and locked before explaining everything that happened.
“My God! Then it was that vampire that attacked us before!”
“Yes, Thomas. It seems they aren’t very happy with our progress so far.”
“But… What are we gonna do? I’ve been asking everywhere about how to find this damn Forest Ghost. I only hear things we already know.”
“Yes, I know. That’s why I told the cops it was the Ghost that attacked your mother. That way, the cops will be tracking him down and we can follow their progress.”
“But dad, if they catch him before us…”
“Then, all we will have to do is tell the vamps where to find him. Being locked in one place might be advantageous to both us and the vampires.”
Father and son shared a knowing look with a slight smile before John turned and walked away, disappearing behind a door.

***
His hands hovered over the old leather-bound books on the shelves as he recited the title of each book.
“Ralion War, Creatures of the Underdark, Werewolf Biology, World’s Magic Conduit…” He suddenly stopped, closing his eyes for a moment.
‘Magic, pentagram, and gemstones… those are definitely connected but for what purpose? It sounds like forbidden magic. Then there…’
*Pewweeeeee pipipipipi, peweeee*
Erik turned around, following the cute little snore until he found Blue curled up on top of the recliner, by the window sill. The end of his lips raised just slightly.
“Wish I had time for a nap in the middle of the day!” He shook his head, smiling at the sight of his small familiar sleeping without a care in the world.
One specific book popped into his mind, and he quickly turned back to the bookshelf eyes searching. In the farther left up corner of the shelf, he found the book he was looking for. Stretching both his index and middle fingers together into a circular motion, he began levitating high enough so he could grab the said book. Once back on the ground, he walked to his desk and sat down, placing his feet up on a small stool.
His nimble fingers traced over the old runes engraved on the dusty leather-bound cover, a smile stretching across his handsome face. Almost in slow motion, he turned the hardcover, a sweet musky smell wafting into his nose. That familiar sensation of knowledge lingering in his nostrils, bringing old memories to mind. The once white pages had turned yellow and stained with time but its knowledge was still intact, ready to be read at any given moment.
He began turning the pages, gaze hovering over long forbidden spells of the old world. The time of his race, the Ralions. His fingers kept on turning the pages while his eyes devoured its information. Time itself seemed to have stopped. It always felt like that when he got absorbed into his studies.
*Knock Knock!*
Erik’s gaze shot towards the door but other than finding the door closed as he had left it, he found someone else leaning against the door.
“Gabriella!”
As he stood, Gabriella waved him to stay seated and approached him instead.
“Brother said you wanted to talk with me?” She asked, hands gliding over the books on the shelf. Gabriella was dressed in a long pure white dress that hugged her curves and trailed behind as she walked. Golden runes adorned its hems, giving it just the right amount of sparkles. Her hair was set up in a messy bun with some golden vines holding it together.
“Yes…” Erik sat back down, adjusting a bookmark where he had stopped reading before closing the book and placing it aside on his desk. He leaned back on his chair, hands interlaced as his thumbs moved around each other but never taking his vision off her. “He told me that you would look into a certain human girl. Have you found anything about her yet?”
Gabriella’s lips bent ever so slightly upwards as she glanced at Erik.
“Yeahh, I did but I couldn’t find much. She’s definitely human though.” She shrugged. “She’s very intriguing, really. It’s a given that certain races, like your own, may cast a shadow on Caio’s power since you’re technically immortal but as you said, she’s human.”
Erik nodded.
“Exactly! First, I thought that she could be a lost child of one of those very races but I’ve checked her parents and couldn’t find anything different about them.”
“Well, her grandmother is a witch although I’m pretty sure you’re aware of this.” He nodded again.
“Ye! Her grandmother is one strong witch but she’s still human, no immortal race. Like all witches, she doesn’t age quite as fast as other humans tend to.”
“I’ve asked everybody I could about her and the reason why it’s affecting him. I got nothing! There is only one thing that I can think about.”
“And that is?” He lifted an eyebrow.
“He’s so in love with her! Love itself is shielding her from his power.”
Looking a bit sideways, he lifted a hand up, caressing his few days old beard stubbs as he thought.
“Interesting theory!”
As they contemplated the reasons of what was affecting Caio’s power, Gabriella wandered the room. Erik’s sky blue eyes transfixed at no specific place, one of his hands laid over the desk, tapping on it while the other held his head in a sideways position. She stopped every now and then to look at something she thought to be curious. One such item was a series of elongated jars containing preserved creatures, others were small bottles with liquid of the most diverse colors swirling inside and a cauldron bubbling up with some gooey green liquid. Coming to a stop right in front of it, Gabriella tried to identify what was inside the cauldron but after a couple of seconds, she gave up and turned, coming face to face to a beautiful picture frame sitting on the corner of the large desk. It was decorated with tiny emeralds cut to fit, shining in different locations every time a picture changed. It was really one of the good doctor’s latest magical works. She watched the pictures change every few seconds, noticing how it was always the same woman in them and concluding it was someone dear to him. A smile curved her full pink lips up before she proceeded on her wandering.
“You know, it’s not really far-fetched. Your theory might just be right.” Said Erik, finally tearing his eyes from this invisible dot he found on the wall to look at her.
The beautiful blond woman had made her way to the recliner, where she caressed Blue in between his ears and cheeks. The little bunny no longer sleeping but tampering with one of his hind paws over the leather seat of the recliner in delight.
“I haven’t stopped checking on this theory of mine but I haven’t gotten any new leads either.” She said, tickling Blue’s belly.
“I didn’t think you had. In any case, I need to confirm a few more things first.”
“What are you thinking of?” Gabriella asked, still patting the bunny that had moved onto her lap.
“There is some magic emanating from that house. I need to confirm its source first.”
“You believe that Claire might be the source?”
Erik shook his head slightly.
“No. I’ve already checked her and she didn’t have any spark of magic. It’s someone else and it’s a very familiar magical signature. I just can’t quite put my finger on it.”
They exchanged a mutual nod before Gabriella stood and moved toward the door. Blue promptly flew to his master, landing over his shoulder.
“Sorry I didn’t have much information. It has been exceptionally difficult to find any information regarding that girl. Makes me wonder why. Will let you know if I find anything else.” She said, a hand gently poised over the door frame.
“That’s alright. I figured you would have come back earlier if you had any information. I will look into it more .”
Gabriella nodded and without adding anything else, she walked down the corridor and away from his study.


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