If you've read Book IV, you've read the excerpt we included at the end. Here's a brand-spankin' new one, in which Lady Bathory and Nathan DePriest are up to their usual mischief.
|3_love of Elizabeth Bathory, by b-lackdante|
Excerpt from Necropolis
Millie had done what Lady Bathory had asked of her—she’d dropped what she was doing and hastened to get the candidates from Earth brought over. (With the General’s permission, of course, though he had told Millie that she was not beholden to Bathory’s unreasonable timeframe.) Millie had only just done it the night before for the General—six associates from Earth had been summoned to meet with him. So Lady Bathory’s request should be a piece of cake. Transdimensional communiques had to be sent out. Usually, technicians were dispatched to open the gate, but with new security measures, only Esfir Taghvaei, one of the Matriarch’s high priestesses, was allowed to do so.
To Millie’s satisfaction, it all went off without a hitch. The gate to Earth was in a field outside the city of Omoroca, its boundaries marked by granite standing stones. Millie almost always went to the gate to greet the arrivals, and soldiers always escorted her. She assumed this was a ceremonial duty demanded by the General.
The eight people Bathory had requested began arriving at 1:30, four men and four women. By 2:30, they had loaded their luggage into the vehicle and were speeding back to Evangelium. As they drove, the candidates inquired about the position, about Lady Bathory, and about Cerulean itself. Millie pointed out landmarks as they rolled past and their visitors were suitably impressed. It should have been a pleasant enough journey, but a few times, Millie caught the people from Earth looking at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. Even the soldiers seated on either side of her, usually so impassive, seemed more alert than usual. Millie arranged such travel for people who served the Matriarch several times a year, at least, and while some of them were a bit distant, or even cold, she couldn’t remember a group that had made her so distinctly nervous.
By 4:00, Millie escorted the group to Lady Bathory’s door. As always, Mr. DePriest let them in.
After Millie introduced the guests individually to Lady Bathory, the Countess gave her an appreciative nod. “Thank you very much, Miss Kincaid,” she said. “Would you be so good as to wait downstairs while Nathan and I conduct the interviews?”
“Of course, Lady Bathory.” To the visitors, Millie smiled and said, “Good luck.”
Millie had brought her tablet and mobile with her. She checked in with the General to make sure his meeting had gone well (it had), and to see if he needed her for anything else today (he didn’t), then settled down in the lobby to get some projects knocked out.
An hour went by. Then two.
Late again? Donald sent.
He sent her an image of Phoebe and Daisy at the dinner table, making extravagantly silly faces over steaming bowls of chicken and dumplings. Millie’s favorite meal. Millie sighed. He’d gotten a bit short with her last week when she’d forgotten to pick the girls up from school. Apparently, all was forgiven.
She decided to take a walk—first just around the block. Then down to the park and back. She browsed some nearby shops. Throughout, Donald sent her more photos of the girls: bent over their homework, playing outside, getting ready for bed.
They had reached the four-hour mark. Perhaps Lady Bathory had forgotten she was here?
She tried calling Lady Bathory’s mobile, but there was no answer. At last, Millie returned to the apartment building.
With a soft ding and a swish of doors, the elevator delivered her to the top floor. Immediately, Millie felt the skin along her scalp begin to prickle and her heart sped up. Something was wrong here. What was it?
Stepping into the hallway, the first thing she noticed was that the air smelled funny, like something had burned, mixed with another, fainter smell, almost metallic. There was a wet streak along the marble floor, too thick to be water or tea. Could it be blood? But how? What could have possibly happened? Structurally, the building looked fine, though there were long gouges and burn marks in the walls. The door to Lady Bathory’s flat hung askew, partially torn from its hinges. Its wooden surface was also marred by scorched-looking holes. Voices came from within. Millie couldn’t make them out, but the metallic smell was stronger here, damp and rank. At her feet was a larger streak of blood that ran the length of the foyer and rounded the corner into the living room. Carefully, quietly, Millie followed it, the voices growing louder. And there was another sound now, a sound like something scraping and tearing…
In the living room, Millie froze.
The flat, previously so serene and tidy with its creams and beiges, was now almost entirely coated in a lurid red. It dripped thickly from the walls and the windows. The floor was coated in it. Standing pools made a swamp of the furnishings and the throw rugs, darkened clots squelching in the fibers. It seemed no surface had been spared, everything soaked and smeared and spattered...
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