Chapter 8Mature

8

 

            Epimetheus might be considered as the stupid brother of Prometheus and it was true, he sometimes first acted and thought afterward, still he knew that the love of his life was a poisonous gift of the gods. A woman who was so pretty, so clever and courteous, it was all too good to be true. He had given her three daughters, Phrophasis, Metamelea, and Pyrrha. It was his way to bind Pandora to his house. The family relation would be strong in this way, he thought, to keep her away from other men.

            But Pandora made many men’s hearts beat faster. Still, she was loyal to her man until the day Epimetheus left home for a longer time. It was a warm night and there was a full moon. Pandora had dressed in only a silk transparent robe, more clothes she couldn’t stand because of the heat. She lay on her bed and had dozed off for a moment. Pandora came awake from a sound she couldn’t place at the first moment. When she heard it again she knew what it was. A wolf howling at the moon.

            She felt too warm and removed the silk robe. Under the roof of her house, she felt safe. That’s why didn’t last long before she fell asleep and dreamt. She knew it was a forbidden dream, thought her man Epimetheus wouldn’t approve. But in dreams everything is allowed. Her fantasy created a lover who suddenly stood before her bed and took her in his arms. They made love as animals, so wild. Afterward, when she asked what his name was, he answered with a smile on his face: ‘Lycaon’. With the taste of the last kiss still on her lips, she awoke and saw a black wolf that jumped out of the window.

            The name of this man in her dream kept on ringing in Pandora’s thoughts. She remembered only one person who carried this name. Her heart jumped into her throat with fear when she realized that Lycaon and the wolf were the same. Lycaon was punished by Zeus because he had offered Zeus’ child Arcos as a meal to him. Zeus had changed him into a wolf. How was it possible she had seen a man in her dreams and a wolf when she was awake? Was this just a coincidence or a product of her fantasy?

            Days and weeks went by and Pandora realized that her dream had been all but a dream. In the absence of her man, Epimetheus, Lycaon had made her pregnant. She could conceal her pregnancy for her immediate environment by wearing wide clothing. Nobody noticed she was pregnant with a child, her fourth. Luckily, her man was absent and she needed not to share the bed with him. After nine months, she gave birth to a healthy daughter she gave to a wet nurse to nurture her and bring her up. Shortly after that Epimetheus returned home and didn’t suspect a thing of what had happened.

            Pandora visited her fourth daughter as much as was possible, mostly at the time that her husband wasn’t home. In this manner, she could see her child grow up. When the girl was twelve, it happened, what Pandora had feared for so long. On the first night of the full moon, when her daughter had become twelve, she turned into a wolf. Despite the fact, Pandora was very sad by these events, she kept on loving her daughter. She would never ask the gods and Zeus in particular for a favor because her child was also the child of Lycaon. After a few days, an idea ripened in her mind, but she didn’t know if she would have the courage to implement it into reality.

            At the moment of their wedding, they had received from Zeus a kind of box, a wedding gift. Her husband still hadn’t opened the box. Maybe there was something in it that could help her daughter, something that would break the curse and would let her grow up as a normal woman. Her intellect said that there would be consequences to a gift from Zeus. If one of the consequences would mean that her daughter would be free, she would do anything.

            Pandora’s curiosity was too strong for her and one day after the last doubt, holding her breath, she opened the gift. With a loud howling like a hurricane and with all sorts of cries and whispering of tormented souls the content of the box escaped. Dozens of ailments escaped their chains and at that moment Pandora realized she had acted wrongly. She shook the box and heard there was still something in it. Not all the evils had escaped, but the damage had been done.

            During her next visit to her daughter, she told her everything. Her conception and birth, the curse and also about the box she had opened. The girl had reassured her mother and told her that after the last full moon she could manage her transformation. Pandora had looked surprised and had listened to her with open mouth. Would there still become something good about the fact she hadn’t controlled her curiosity?

            Her daughter witnessed there in her case there was certainly something changed. It was as if an unknown force penetrated me and filled me to the deepest of my soul. I knew of the Beginning of Times and how all live had evolved. I felt connected to the earth, the sun, and the moon. The next days I heard strange voices, but soon I recognized them. It was the wind, fire and water that talked to me and I understood them and could ask things from them. When I asked them if they knew me everyone responded with the same answer. They repeated my name again and again and I knew what I was. A new force was born inside of me, a force that was typical of what they called me… Witch!

            Pandora didn’t know if this was good or bad. She only knew her daughter could dictate her own metamorphosis when she wanted and for how long and that was far more than before. Only on the first night of the full moon she had no power upon her transformation. The moon on that day was too strong for her and that were the only days she didn’t have the power of her own destination. In her heart, Pandora found peace. She knew she couldn’t ask for more. That day, she had asked her child, her fourth daughter, under which name she would walk through her further life. The young girl had glanced away as if she was looking into the future and had whispered a strange sounding name to her mother. ‘Mercedes!’

……….

             Vladimir Sango, once Daniël Ainsworth in a former life, gazed through the window of his penthouse. In the distance, he saw the skyline of Horseville. Here on the 

Quay, he had a beautiful panorama over the water and the city. Luckily, one of his victims was the owner of different apartments including this penthouse. For the moment, he had made it his operating base.

            In his travels around the world, he had gathered some information he would like to put in practice. But for that matter, he needed more explanation. Leads he only could get from one person: The Oracle. His information told him it resided in Horseville, the pool of destruction that drew everything to his center. Also himself. He felt the power that pulled on him.

            The name Pitja had turned up in several documents as a predictor of disasters and other immemorial announcements. She was an old Greek woman and nobody knew how old she was. She lived in hiding in the suburbs of the city, in a slum somewhere in one of the dark alleys. Somebody would take him there for a lot of money. This man wasn’t aware who he was dealing with and that he had signed his own death sentence.

            Vladimir had to smile a little, but this smile didn’t reach his eyes. Pitja, it was too obvious. He had known someone else with this name, however, it was written differently. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, was world famous because of her cryptic predictions. Hopefully her nowadays successor was a bit clearer in her descriptions of the future.

            He knew of the second box, so much he had learned already. Zeus had owned two boxes. One he had given as a wedding present to Epimetheus and Pandora, with the result that all the evil was unleashed upon the world. The second, however, was also here somewhere on this vale of tears they called earth. That’s when Pitja came into the picture. She should say where he had to look.

            There was not a lot of info about this second box. Only a few initiated knew of the prophecy. The most of them, after he had heard them out for as far this was possible, he had killed. What was in the box, nobody knew for sure. One told it contained a whole new bunch of new plagues. Another one said it was a trap for evil with the capital letter E. With every explanation there was given, there had been assumed the box contained the force that would be the end for every creature of the night. Nightwalkers, witches, black wizards, demons, and devils, they all would disappear when the second box would be opened. How this would occur he didn’t know, but that didn’t matter. There was one sentence in the old prophecy he liked a lot. He or she, who opened the box would be spared, whoever he was.

            With the force he already possessed, the disappearance of all these old plagues which swept the world for centuries, he would be Lord and Master. Nobody would try to dare him. As long as these creatures of the Dark Side walked around it was necessary to change bodies from time to time. The prophecy told that the handler of this second box would receive all the powers of what he could trap into the box. He would be immortal, indestructible and as powerful as a god. Zeus had meant it this way and so it would be.

……….

             Julius and Diana have continued their nightly excursion in the bedroom. Both were so wired up by the hunt, their love game was fast and wild. Their hunger for each other was fed through the tension of the last days, but also through the blood they had drunk. Their muscles were extremely tensed and their movements were super-fast and rhythmical. The unloading was in proportion and afterward they lay panting, but satisfied in each other’s arms.

            ‘Diana,’ Jules broke the silence as the first, ‘if I would still agree if they propose to me to be the successor of Dragosj, would this change things between us?’

            ‘Why would things change? For me, you know, I don’t care about titles or decorations. If that’s your motive, it’s the fundament of misplaced arrogance. A bad virtue that could signify the end for you at any moment. We live a dangerous life, Julius, we don’t have to beat around the bush. What’s important to me, is to take responsibility and to make the best of it. If you keep that in mind, then there would be no changes in our relation.

            ‘But… if I understand you correctly, if I refuse the proposition, then… there would change something because then I don’t take my responsibility? Am I wrong?

            Diana turned on her side and looked thoughtfully at him with her dark eyes. ‘I don’t know you like that, Julius. You’re a man who takes responsibility. You’ve always done this, as long as I know you. So, there’s a reason why you refuse. That’s as clear as a day. But as long as you don’t tell it to me, I have to decide with the information I have. Then, indeed, there would change something between us.’

            Julius sighed. ‘Alright, Diana. It’s difficult for me to talk about. Maybe it’s because I attached much importance to that responsibility in my former life.’ He rubbed through his hair before continuing his explanation. ‘Maybe it’s better to talk about it, maybe it has become such a monster in my head that I can’t see clearly anymore.’

            Diana knew she had to keep silent now. Julius was about to tell her something very personal, an old secret he carried with him and it something about their lord and master Dragosj. She saw that one big wrinkle appearing on his forehead and that happened not a lot. The only time it happened to Julius, it meant something very bad had happened.

            ‘I know that we, nightwalkers, have cut all our relations with our former life. We also live longer than the average human, a lot longer. I also know that since the beginning of our existence, we can shut off these inferior feelings. A built-in protection that is typical for our species. I don't know how this works with someone else, but I had it very difficult in the beginning.’

            His female companion listened and nodded seriously at him. A sign he could go on. She only gave a little nod of confidence, a sign between two lovers, but she didn’t speak a word. Julius had to find his own way in this. She couldn’t lay words in his mouth.

            ‘At first when Dragosj had changed me, I was too busy with myself to think of something else. My body felt different, my senses and my perceptions I had to come used to. It took time, I guess that’s normal. It probably was for you this way and it was the same for me. Dragosj taught me how to survive. How I had to search my prey, how I had to hunt them or conquer them, how I could compel them with my eyes. Especially how I had to restrain myself, he was very stern and strict about this. Dragosj didn’t kill for his pleasure, only out of necessity. When he had satisfied his thirst, he didn’t drink more than was necessary. That also he taught me.’

            Diana didn’t understand exactly where this was leading, but she was patient. She knew what he was talking about, she had experienced it herself and knew the ecstasy of the blood could pull you over the edge. There wasn’t much difference between killing to feed yourself or the killing for the pleasure of the hunt. The pleasure could be there, but only functionally, otherwise you never knew when to stop killing and that Julius understood very well.

            ‘I only thought about it after a few weeks. I believe I was a bit ashamed, a feeling I hadn’t felt since my short and new existence. It was only after three weeks I wondered what… what had happened to my mother Martine? Would she miss me? Or had she expected this? I mean, would she have thought that I as a human good-for-nothing eventually would disappear out of her life? It was a seed I planted in my brain, but after a few days it grew like a weed that overshadowed everything. I liked to know what has become of her.

            Now it was quiet as a mouse in the room. Diana had put her legs under her and with her head in one of her hands she listened hypnotically to the confession from Julius. Because so it sounded. A confession of something that had tortured him for a long time.

            ‘One evening after dark, I went to my old house and saw no light. On that hour, my mother wouldn’t be asleep yet. I slipped into the house but didn’t find anything. My home was abandoned and neglected. No traces of my mother. I searched everywhere and eventually I found her… on the cemetery.’

            Diana had held her breath when he said this. This was a very strange concurrence of events when his mother would have died at the same moment he was turned into a nightwalker.

            ‘I cried and then I saw what I really had become. Red from the blood, my tears flowed along my face. Was I the reason of this? Was my disappearance too much for this old person? Had I pushed her into death? All these questions haunted my thoughts. I liked an answer to them and there was only one person I could go to. Dragosj.’

            It was a common use to turn to your maker when you had troubles. The bond between maker and his blood was strong and that’s why Diana wasn’t surprised Julius had reacted that way. She also knew his strong feelings about his deceased mother came because of the responsibility he felt about her. She now understood what he had insinuated about this feeling.

            ‘I told my master what had happened. He said I had to push away my humanity, I had to shut down my feelings. It would make me feel a lot better. But I couldn’t. How I was willing to do, I couldn’t. My mother was very special to me and I know I wasn’t the perfect son she wished. I also knew that every day I wasn’t up to par, but in my way I provided for her so that she should have something in her old day and now she was dead. I told all of this to Dragosj.’

            Diana spoke for the first time since he was talking and asked him with an awful premonition: ‘What did he say?’

            The wrinkle in his forehead became still a bit deeper. ‘He laughed at me and told me he had, the same night he had made me and out of love for me, killed her. She had felt nothing, he still added.’

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere

23/02/2015

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