A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 2b: OF VAMPYRES AND GENIES
“Declino,” Melissa called out, thrusting her palm out in front of her. Her spell deflected the flung frying pan off to the left. This knocked it into one of the nearby upright lamps, nearly making it topple over.
“Watch out for my lights,” Charlie shouted at her, baring his teeth in anger. Which was Melissa’s first real clue as to his nature, what with two of his teeth being pointed fangs.
“Oh, perfect,” Melissa said sarcastically. (For the record, I seem to have taught Melissa sarcasm to the point where she now does it without me there. Is that good?)
Opting for avoidance, my former roommate faked left, then moved right, throwing open the doors of one of the other closed rooms. It was the bedroom, and again, pretty much what you’d expect to see there, albeit in this case including the existence of more lamps. Also, a couple of printouts of Amy in different wigs tacked up on the wall.
Nothing seemed to be glowing. So either the item controlling the Somnalibus in Amy’s dreams was in the last room, or it had been quickly hidden away somewhere.
Charlie was fast, though. Melissa has since remarked that it’s the fast reflexes and healing properties of his breed of vampyres that make them formidable opponents, rather than their physical strength. She barely had time to turn before she was being forced to back up, right into that bedroom.
While there existed the option to flee through the window (it was only the second story, plus there was a chance of grabbing at the nearby balcony – albeit equally a chance of getting tangled in the large black curtain), Melissa didn’t like her odds of getting back into the residence afterwards.
She grabbed a lamp instead, brandishing it in the a dim light entering from the main living area.
“I’ll smash this into the dresser,” she warned.
“I’ll stop you in time,” Charlie countered, poised to spring. “And then you’ll regret it.”
“You can’t be a hundred percent sure, or you would have jumped by now,” Melissa countered. “Perhaps we could talk about this.”
“You broke into my place, there’s nothing to discuss,” he shot back.
“How about the fact that you’re being possessed by a vampyre spirit of the Culicinae realm, who’s been gaining power over you by having a Somnalibus demon respond to your commands.”
Charlie stared. “How did you work THAT out?” he said, rather taken aback.
I was rather impressed myself (after the fact), given how Trixie had needed a few minutes of web searching to come to the same conclusion.
(“It was a bit of a reach,” Melissa told me later. “But along with his fast reactions and pointed teeth, there was the comfort of blackness in his place, the playing up of an obsession implying a compulsive personality, and finally a faint buzzing noise when he spoke. Trixie can research all she likes, it’s no substitute for being out in the field, James.”)
“Irrelevant,” is how Melissa responded at the time. “The point is, unless you actually WANT to become a being that requires blood for sustenance, Charlie, you need my help.”
A few emotions ran over Charlie’s face at that point. Melissa wasn’t able to describe them to me, at the time she simply held her ground, figuring any sudden moves would only help the vampyre spirit reassert itself.
After what the brunette estimated to be about five minutes, but which no doubt felt even longer, Charlie spoke again. “I… I just want it to be over,” he said.
Melissa almost relaxed.
Charlie bared his fangs. “And if were to drink the blood of a true spell caster, like yourself, my transformation would finally be complete.”
Melissa pursed her lips. “Right, well, that’s not going to happen,” she sighed. “So, better decision, we excise the vampyre, so that it can be destroyed, freeing you to make more sensible choices.”
The dark haired man stared, and then bared his teeth again. “You are no match for us. For ME. Surrender now, and I promise not to drain you completely dry, witch.”
“Several minutes to think, and yet you still make the wrong decision,” Melissa said with another sigh. She raised her free hand into the air to snap her fingers, whilst muttering under her breath, “Illusio, Culincinae!”
Immediately, her form changed. Bumps appeared on her forehead, as two of her teeth lengthened into fangs. She drew herself to her full height, and then a bit more, before glaring, her green eyes momentarily flickering red.
“What about now?” Melissa challenged. “Same strength and speed as you, plus magical control. I suggest YOU surrender.”
Charlie took a half step back – only to reassert his pose and look smug. “I’m not stupid,” he declared. “A transformation like that is impossible to maintain. And your type cannot weild magick with the intent to cause harm, even against – I’d even say particularly against – your own self. So you cannot change your body chemistry to be vampyric on a whim, any more than I could change into a bat at any time of my choosing.”
Melissa stared. “No?”
“No. Otherwise, your human body would rebel, the same way humans need compatible blood when receiving donations. No, young witch, I have seen through you. You are out of your league here.”
Melissa’s eyes narrowed. “You seem to know an awful lot, considering you’re from another realm, Culicinae.”
Charlie – or really the vampyre, as Charlie had almost completely given up control by now – shrugged. “The more the balance on your Earth is thrown off, the more the barriers are breaking down. Faster and faster, of late. Perhaps it would be a mercy for you to die now, before it gets really bad? I can help you there.”
Melissa snapped her fingers in the air again, dispelling the illusion she’d crafted about herself. It had obviously not had the desired effect, and took at least marginal effort for her to maintain, effort she preferred to put elsewhere. Though she remained standing as tall as she could.
“Thing is, I’m going to keep it from getting really bad,” she stated coldly. “Starting with you.”
That brought the vampyre up short even more than Melissa’s vampire image had. There’s a certain tone she brings out on occasion, one that brooks no argument, and when accompanied by a look, Mel can have people obeying her almost before they know it.
Then, as if sensing he was on the verge of losing the advantage (or possibly losing control back to Charlie), the vampyre sprang.
Melissa threw the lamp at Charlie’s head.
With the reflexes of a cat, he caught it in midair with one hand, as his other moved to deliver an uppercut.
But Melissa wasn’t there any more.
She had edged to the side, then jumped over onto the bed. After one jump to turn her body back around – as well as test the springs – she coiled her body up, then sprang for the ceiling.
Accomplishing a flip around in midair, Melissa landed back in the bedroom doorway, and then strode quickly out of harm’s way. Or that had been the plan, at least.
The vampyre was a little bit faster than her.
Charlie had swiftly set the lamp aside, then headed back for the door, rather than aiming another blow for Melissa in the air. As such, he managed to grab a handful of my witch friend’s long hair as she fled through the doorframe, then used his hold to yank her back inside.
This had the added bonus of pulling her off balance.
He then twisted the hair around his hand, pulling Melissa’s head off to the side and baring his fangs. She could feel his breath on her skin as he moved to sink his teeth into the unobstructed view of her neck.
“Saeta!” Melissa gasped out.
With that, Melissa’s hair came alive. At least, it did so in that it attempted to twist away from Charlie’s grasp, while at the same time frizzing up and getting in his face, blocking the easy path to her skin.
“Pffth!” the vampyre said, now having to try and spit out a mouthful of her elegantly shampooed hair in order to again go for the jugular. Facing away from him, her next move involved lifting her foot and kicking back towards his legs.
Melissa was successful with one blow, which was immediately followed by the vampyre shoving her into the wall. Hard, and headfirst.
Melissa was unable to brace herself, or prevent her body from collapsing onto the floor, but she at least managed to turn so that the two of them were facing each another once again. She then raised one hand, preparing to deflect the next attack, her hair still attempting to defy gravity as it waved in the air.
In Melissa’s later account, she told me that it was only at this point that she really considered going on the offensive. However, I will say that she has some difficulty with that sort of mindset, plus she wanted to avoid too much collateral damage to the apartment complex. In particular, fire, her best bet against a vampyre, was liable to spread, particularly given the abundance of curtains and other flammable material.
Even as she considered her options, the vampyre grabbed the bedspread and threw it at where she sat on the floor, following it up by leaping at her himself. He was probably reasoning that she’d be preoccupied with removing the sheet, leaving herself exposed to attack.
Except Melissa simply let the spread fall upon her, which made it even more difficult for the vampire to find an opening. Granted, it also served to restrict Melissa’s movements even more.
Ultimately, the vampyre found itself trying to yank the sheet away again.
Which is where he got a bit of a break, in that one of Melissa’s arms had become tangled in the folds. So, by tossing the sheet back behind himself, she was pulled back towards him, and the fabric fell away, giving him another clear chance at a bite.
Her palm went to his chin, to keep him from biting. But at this point, there was no way she could keep him off her indefinitely, not without causing collateral damage.
This is when I arrived.
Trixie’s skeleton key having been successful at granting me access to the building, I burst through the still unlocked apartment door, quickly taking stock of the situation.
Namely, nothing happening, a flickering lamp providing the only light. But it sounded like there was a scuffle in the bedroom.
“Melissa?” I called out, risking drawing attention to myself as I hurried towards the doorway.
The vampyre froze. “Melissa… not Melissa Virga?” the possessed Charlie said, his eyes growing larger as he looked down at the brunette witch.
“Behind you,” Melissa said, throwing her voice to a position near his right ear. (Have I mentioned Melissa picked up ventriloquism in her youth?)
The vampyre jerked his head that way, allowing Melissa to smack his face, spinning him off balance for a change, the diminutive brunette then scurrying out of his clutches and off towards me, though never taking her gaze away from him.
“How can you know me?” she demanded.
Because he had, in fact, used her full, true name, not the pseudonyms I’m using as I publish Melissa’s cases here.
He simply stared at her again. Then the grin came back, and it made my blood run cold.
“I can be the one to ensure that you never restore the balance,” the Culicinae vampyre declared, his eyes taking on a hint of the crazy. As if it no longer mattered what happened to him. “I can be a hero to my realm.”
And with that, the vampyre launched himself at her once more.