Dragosj had summoned Julius and Diana after the arrival of Mercedes. He had explained to Pandora’s daughter that they were the two most reliable persons he knew. They had to be part of it when she explained why she had contacted the leader of the nightwalkers.
Diana, still under the impression of Julius’ dramatic story, had it difficult to look into the eyes of Dragosj. After Julius had told her about the meaningless murder by Dragosj on his mother, she found it hard to find her disturbed balance again. Nonetheless doubts came floating into her head about Dragosj’s his leadership capacities, she was vigilant.
She looked at this strange woman, from a safe distance. Her sixth sense told her she could underestimate this beautiful woman with her sumptuously chestnut colored hair. She just looked through the apparent nonchalance and numbness with which Mercedes was eating an apple. It was an attitude, a good piece of acting. She felt hostile vibrations that radiated from her person.
Julius, on the contrary, saw nothing of this. He considered her as a mortal who tried to get a favor in exchange of some dubious information. He obviously was annoyed with the situation and had already looked three times at his watch during the last five minutes. It all took too much time and after telling his story to Diana, he didn’t feel happy to face Dragosj.
The door to the reception room was opened and Dragosj strode inside. This time, he didn’t have his walking cane with him. Both Julius and Diana had noticed this. His flashing eyes in his weathered face witnessed of a certain agitation. Something they hadn’t seen in a long time. The information this woman had, who obviously enjoyed her apple, couldn’t be very good.
‘Diana, Julius, let me introduce you to Mercedes, daughter of a very old friend of mine. I don’t know if you ever have met someone of her kind, but she’s a wolf-witch. From the first bloodline, strong and experienced. She could be a dreaded enemy, but…’ Here the Count stopped while he looked at Mercedes with a frown on his forehead. ‘Today she has come in peace. Please, treat her that way. Because of my former friendship with her mother, but also because of the things she came to tell us. Mercedes?’
It was obvious he gave the floor to the woman who now stood up. She wiped her fingers and mouth with a stylish handkerchief she got out of her coat. ‘So, Diana and Julius, Count Dragosj. I’ve got no choice than to knock on your door. Be sure I normally wouldn’t do this. Vampires aren’t my buddies.’
Because of this statement, Diana hissed softly through her teeth. There wasn’t a nightwalker who liked this title and it looked like Mercedes deliberately had used this name. For the sake of Dragosj’s his words, Diana decided not to kill her, yet. Julius squeezed his eyes and was aware of the sparkles shot between the two women, figuratively speaking, of course.
‘Indeed, I’m a wolf-witch and I’m proud of it. I’m not a night creature that feeds himself with human blood to survive.’
This was a bridge too far for Diana. ‘You’ll have to restrain yourself, little witch, if you don’t want to be carried outside in a dozen pieces and be fed to the dogs.’ Her eyes were lightening and her words weren’t a bluff.
Mercedes growled, showed her teeth and shook her head. Her forehead became more pronounced and her nose and mouth changed with a sinister creaking in the muzzle of a chestnut red wolf. Her transformation lasted only half a minute, but she made her point. ‘Usually I eat you for breakfast, but I always get gastric acid from it, so do me a favor and show some respect for what I am and also for those doggies. They are my former family from long ago. Count?’ She looked with a questioning look at Dragosj, who understood the hint and intervened.
‘Keep calm. I suspect we can handle her, but not with the three of us. Let’s hear what she has to say, without risking someone of us can’t repeat it afterward.’
Both of them had seen her fast transformation into a bloodthirsty wolf, with sharp teeth, which glimmered in the saliva that was dripping off them. This wasn’t a common woman and certainly not an ordinary wolf. The magic that floated around her was almost tangible.
‘An old Evil has appeared again. Old because it’s by now for a long time an immemorial part of this world. However, it’s much stronger than before. As far as my information is correct, he is after your kind of creatures.’ Mercedes wanted to say vampires but decided to smooth bad feelings and not to go to the limit of their tolerance. If she would make a pact with these bloodsuckers, she had to be diplomatic, how much an effort it cost.
‘We are informed about the cowardly murders of this being. He’s indeed after us.’ Julius had barged into the conversation. He didn’t like dogs or wolves for that matter. Once upon a time in his youth he was bitten by a dog he played with and didn’t trust none of these four-footers. Witches, however, were interesting. She had something dangerous, something mysterious that glittered in her eyes and that was appealing to him.
Diana wasn’t blind to her boyfriend’s glances towards Mercedes. She knew him through and through and saw that his interest wasn’t merely professional if you could formulate it this way. ‘Julius, keep your tongue in your mouth or soon it will hang on your shoes.’
She said it with a snarl, but the magic was gone. Julius looked at her for a moment without saying a thing. He swallowed and tried to reply, but he changed his mind. He always would get the short end of the deal. When Diana was jealous, you better think twice.
‘I guess you all have heard of the box of Pandora?’ Mercedes looked at her audience. She noticed everybody nodding. ‘This isn’t a fairy-tale as most creatures think. I know this because… I’m a daughter of Pandora.’
Both Julius and Diana turned to Dragosj who looked very serious and shook his head to acknowledge. Surprised by this, they continued listening to what this woman had to tell.
‘The next things aren’t common knowledge. My mother possessed two boxes. The one she, unfortunately, had opened, with all the unhappy consequences. A second one she scrupulously kept closed, knowing that the donor eventually didn’t mean to do well with these gifts. It’s a secret my mother has confided to me and that I, unfortunately, have to reveal now. When this box ever will be opened, then the bearer or the one who possesses this box, will own all the powers and the plagues that were locked in the first box. Not only possess them, but he’ll be able to use them. Weapons in the wrong hands that could mean the end of any existence on earth.’
Meanwhile, Dragosj had taken a seat and looked worried. Diana’s fierce glances had disappeared and there were wrinkles of worry on her forehead. Julius, who expected where this would lead, clenched his fists, so hard that his knuckles turned white.
‘I’ve got these dreams lately. In the past people called them visions. I can assure you that what I see in these visions, mostly happens in one or another way. The man who is responsible for your victims, and yes, it’s certainly a man, is looking for this box. I’ve seen visions of the future which make any atrocity disappear into thin air the way this man will act. He won’t stop with the night creatures, he wants to eliminate all the magical beings and become the ruler of mankind. One day he will come for me and I will not be able to stop him. He would snap me like a match. We have to join forces and for once work together to stop this Evil.’
Julius normally didn’t show much color on his face, but now he was even paler than he used to be. ‘Then we hide the box in the deepest dungeon we can find and pour ten trucks of concrete on it or something like that. There have to be ways to deny the access to the box, even if he is stronger than us.’
‘That’s not the problem, Julius.’ Mercedes held her breath for a moment, fearing what she had to say now.
‘What’s the problem, then, please explain, we’ll find a solution, whatever it’ll be.’ Diana acted agitated and didn’t understand what Mercedes’ problem eventually was.
‘Indeed, we could find a solution to it. I mean to protect the box. But the one and the only problem is that I don’t know where the box is!’
Nonetheless the directions of his unfortunate informant, it had taken Vladimir hours to find the way in the small streets of the slums of Horseville. He had even walked back a few times from where he had begun to start all over again because he thought he had made a mistake. Eventually, his steps led him to a blind alley where a little stairway down showed the way to a cellar. When he had descended the stair, he stood before a ruinous door which he couldn’t open. He saw a corroded intercom at a man’s height on his left side on which he pushed the button.
‘Yes?’ It sounded short and sharp. Obviously the Oracle wasn’t very talkative today. ‘I wanted some information about a lost object. I’m paying good and in cash, Madam Pitja.’
The door unlocked with a short click and after Vladimir Sango had pushed it open, he saw a long corridor which meandered further in a dark depth. The cave of the Oracle. It smelled musty and there was fungus on the walls. When he had walked a dozen paces, he heard the door locking. Sorcery! The oracle had his own magic power that was strong and old. He would have to be vicious and careful to reach his goal.
The corridor went on and began to descend. He couldn’t see where the light came from, but it was just enough to see where he had to put his feet and to go the next meter. Eventually, he arrived in a bigger space where at the end of it a big curtain hung in front of a light source. Through this curtain, he saw shadows and strange forms. One moment it was a shadow of a woman, the other moment he saw a creature with different heads. There was a thin air where he stood and it smelled of frankincense and a touch of brimstone.
‘Speak and ask your question, mortal. We’ll answer you with the words that serve us and to the truth of the images we see.’
Without being aware, he frowned sarcastically. The Oracle’s language wasn’t easy and he’ll have to read between the lines. He already knew he wouldn’t get a name on a plate. No exact location where he would find the object, it would be too easy. That wasn’t the way the Oracle worked.
‘I’m looking for the second box of Pandora, Madam Pitja. I’ve lost it and I would be a lucky man if I could find it again.’ He didn’t like to say too much. Nobody could know of his plans. It would lead to problems and create the possibility to put a spoke in his wheel.
‘The first box of Pandora is spread everywhere in the world, wherever we go we see it in operation. Never will it be found again.’
He sighed. ‘Indeed, that wisdom, Oracle, is widely known. However, there’s a second box. This object is very important to me. Do you know where this box is?’
Vladimir didn’t know how he had to put it more clearly, but he patiently waited for an answer from behind the curtain. The colors which at first were light yellow began to turn into red with now and then some black shades. He heard a melancholy singing that seemed to come right out of the earth. There was Old magic working here.
‘The box you can see and take and still it will impossible. The one who tries it will be struck by a storm of sounds and will be locked in. She’s buried under a pyramid and opens in a strange saying. There you will find the box that you searching for.’
Vladimir had got his answer and the light was normal again and slowly extinguished behind the curtain. With a fast pull, he yanked the curtain aside and was ready to strike. No loose ends or witnesses. The Oracle couldn’t tell his truth to anybody.
He was very surprised when he discovered that nobody was behind the curtain. There was no trace of a woman or any creature that had answered him. He couldn’t kill what wasn’t there and he felt beaten for the first time in his long life. A feeling he hardly could accept. Somebody had to pay for it and he knew already who would be his victims.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere