Shedding Light
written by Kim Wylie


Rating: FRM
Spoilers: None indicated.
Summary: No summary available.
Thanks: Brenda, Ann, Mouse Lady, and Ebonbird.
Author's Notes: The prayer is from "The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace" by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, 1997.
Feedback Author: Kim Wylie



(Excerpt from Rupert Giles' personal journal, November 27, 1992)

This cafe is warm, blissfully so when one has been cold for ages. I can at last hold a pen and drink a cup of tea without spilling it.

I have a table by a window. The roadway is bright and busy. The snow on the rooftops is dazzling and the people here are of vigorous Nordic stock, the healthiest people I have ever seen. In a train carriage this morning, I sat opposite a hale, pleasant man who surprised me when he mentioned he was eighty-four, and startled me further when he pulled skis and poles from his overhead compartment when the train pulled into the station. Being in this town and around these people, one could almost believe there are no dark places.

Almost.

I have not written in this journal for three weeks. This last entry ...can it be mine? I could almost pass it off as a drunken illusion. I have been on the move forever, it feels. Sitting here in sunlight, smelling cinnamon from the kitchen and hearing lively voices around me, the events in Australia feel years away.

I must be careful not to indulge in this illusion of comfort for too long. I have a task, business to attend, and no time. No one here is safe because of what follows me. I am only a little ahead and, because I'm so far north, this autumn sunlight will not last long. The final ferry from Sandhornoy leaves at seven-thirty and will be his sole option, as the earlier boats depart while it is still light. I should prepare, but that requires going back out into that cold.

I have no connection, no sense of him, nothing on which to focus. My spells do not work and I am reduced to guessing his moves. I hunt him in the day, and he hunts me at night. Neither of us is remarkably successful.

The waitress has just been to my table to leave a fresh pot of tea. These Norwegians are used to tourists as there is a cruise ship which makes a stop here on its way to Kirkenes. I have been asked twice if it is my ship. I would dearly love to get on it, to leave all of this behind, to forget, to stand on a deck and see water and nothing more.

If old Merrick was here, he'd chastise me soundly for such a notion, though he would understand it.

A woman and two children have just hurried past the window. They are not being pursued, merely in a rush. I must always think the worst, for when they went by, I rose to see what was coming behind them. The answer was, of course, nothing. These people do not have demons here, but I am bringing them one.

* * * * *

(November 28, 1992)

I have a useless thermos. The chill penetrated the insulated metal inside and the tea is more than cold. These words scrawl across the page from my shivering.

I am on a cliff overlooking a fjord. The ocean steams, yet it is frigid, icy beyond endurance. Even the trees huddle down near the ground. One knows one has gone too far when pines, a northern tree if there ever was one, look as though they are having second thoughts.

This lack of ground cover was supposed to work in my favour. I had a plan, a spell the equivalent of a tiger pit, but spells have extinguished before in his presence. My back-up was to have the area exposed. There should not have been any place for him to hide. I had my circle drawn, with one arc left open for him, blood on my neck to draw him close, and a crossbow, but I couldn't get him far enough in. He must have sensed the magick. He came quickly enough, then slowed warily as he crossed the open part of the arc. I closed the circle. He was too quick and took off into the darkness at a run.

I was on his heels in a moment, however he has the edge when it comes to speed. After a few minutes, I was following him by sound, then there was nothing. I looked for him for over three hours last night, while wondering where in hell he could have gone to, giving in finally when my hands became too numb to hold the bow.

Aroused vampyre leave a scent, but I am unable to perceive it while under the cast of magick. I returned to the room I had taken at the Inn, and waited for the spell to burn off before returning to the circle. When I was able to pick up his trail, I followed it to here, to this bluff overlooking Saltfjorden. There's nothing more though, except a straight drop down into the water. There may be caves on the face of this cliff, but it is sheer. If he has climbed down, I must admire that he did so in the darkness and with me in pursuit.

If only I could believe he fell into the water, but the fates are never that kind to me.

My first thought was to wait on this bluff until nightfall, until hunger brought him out. Except I seem to recall something that one of my many talkative travelling companions of these last few weeks said about caverns in the area. If true, the apparently simple indentations in the cliff might be deeper or have more than one entrance. In which case, waiting here would be useless.

Perhaps the waitress at that cafe can help me, or tell me where to purchase a guidebook. I would dearly love to get out of this frozen air for a bit.

As I wrote that last, I could almost hear Merrick say, "Any excuse, Rupert." A Watcher who fails his Slayer takes on the responsibilities of both, I know. I have been well trained, but this cold is more than I have ever imagined, and I thought London winters harsh. As well, I am overdue in writing my sister. She is capable of calling out literal hounds of hell when worried. I will ask about caves, write her, then attempt to pick up his track again.

* * * * *

Lady Ursula Hofmann
Vanchavour Estate
Finch County, Suffolk, England
November 28, 1992

Dear Ursula,

Did my wire of November 5th arrive? I apologize for my terseness. I assume you have seen the official report by now, as business-like as it no doubt is. Don't ever tell me what it contains.

Glenna's death was quick, but that doesn't make it any the less horrid. More appalling to me is the lack of reaction by the Council. You warned me of this when I first set out on this destiny of mine; 'an endless war carried on by overfed accountants who never sully their hands', is how I believe you put it.

The Council paid for Glenna's cremation, internment, flowers, and the marker for the plot, and they paid well. I made sure of that. But there was no grief in it for them. I dealt with Muggins and Raversham.

Do you know them? They didn't want to know anything about her, or how many lives she protected while she was alive. They wished only the date and time of her death, then told me to wait for reassignment. Glenna was a fifteen year old girl, Ursula. Fifteen! Not even up to my shoulder. She used to make me sit when I spoke to her, said she didn't like me towering over her. If I didn't sit down, she'd cut my legs out from under me, then perch laughing on my stomach. 'Don't be so overbearing, Rupert,' she'd say before letting me up. She loved dogs and those terrible romance novels, and she wanted to go to the Sydney Opera House. Why did I never take her there? Such a little thing to want. Surely I could have found the time.

You will wonder at the postmark. I have tracked and been tracked along a queer route. Nothing is accidental, though I'm damned if I know why this place. I've hitchhiked most of the way. How does one hitchhike to an island? The short answer is, it isn't easy.

You know this one, Ursula, the one I am trying to kill. I would give you his name, but I am not easy with the post. You once told me about him, your version of a bed time story, I imagine. You told me years ago, when my mother and our father were still alive, and the house in Torkem Row still stood. Horrid stories of how he carved his victims' flesh with varied apparatus while slowly feeding off them, and the gruesome manner in which he would dump the bodies afterward.

He did a strange thing with Glenna. I wish I could ask you about it. Rather, it is what he didn't do. Glenna was only a Slayer-in-Training.

She tired quickly, but she was strong enough. Yet he didn't take her blood. The only mark upon her was the bruise where he snapped her neck. He did not break her skin, nor arrange her in that peculiar manner he favoured for his other victims. He left her crumpled by the window, and not for lack of time, for she was cold and undisturbed when I found her.

When he is in my grasp, I will have the confession from his own tongue, before I rip it out.

Love,
Rupert.


(November 29, 1992)

Damn! That he could get ahead for the simple purchase of a guidebook!

There are caves, hundreds of them throughout these isles, the result of glaciers. Though it is late in the season, a few guided tours of the caves are still in session. Add to this the lengthening nights as winter approaches, and this area becomes a paradise for vampyre.

I was out on a kicksled for over eleven hours last night, completely exposed for I left off the magick, and I was slow moving due to the temperature. Easy prey. I chose the trails close to the tourist routes, and entered the Svartigrotta caverns, not an easy thing in the black night and without a guide.

Damnit all to hell! Where IS he?

* * * * *

(December 1, 1992)

He came to me. Oh God, these words going all over this page….. why are my hands shaking?

My training wishes to kick in, the facts-only reporting favoured by the Council. No one will read this journal, though. It is my own, hidden in the bottom of my haversack, a way to order my thoughts. Writing here usually works, but isn't at this moment. What is this? Anger? Worry? That I can't stop seeing Glenna's body before my eyes? I can't settle nor meditate. I am failing her.

I was in the cafe yesterday as dusk fell. I was readying for another night walking and had just replaced the batteries in my torch when someone bumped my table. I looked up and my heart jumped as he sat in the chair across from mine.

"Hello, Watcher," he said, and smirked.

I flung the torch at him, an instinctive reaction. It hit his mouth and sheared off a strip of his lip. The smile didn't die. He simply held a napkin to his face and asked, "Do you want to get us arrested for public brawling, mate?"

Bastard, I thought. There were other people in the place and they were staring. The manager came over and inquired in a no-nonsense voice, "Any problems here?"

"Nope. My friend's just happy to see me. That's how we greet people where we come from," the demon said.

I unzipped my coat far enough for him to see the stake. Unfazed, he reached for a menu and said, "Do you have any of that dessert with the red  berries?" He pointed at something on the sheet. "This. What is this?"

"Tyttebaer," the manager replied, though his voice remained firm.

"That's it, isn't it? Could you bring me one with lots of those berries. And coffee. My friend will pay."

After the manager left, I asked, "What the fuck are you up to?"

"Do you want me to leave the tip?" he asked casually.

I withdrew the stake and laid it beside my tea cup. Steadying my voice, I said, "I demand your name so that I may record the manner and hour of your death."

That's when the smile faded. "We're not on the battlefield at the moment, Lancelot."

There is thin honour among demons. They don't respond to much of the old ways, but the order that they speak their own name has survived six thousand years. Refusing to answer is akin to admitting fear.

As I placed a vial of holy water beside the stake, his voice went hard. "William Gilchrist."

"William," I said, insulting him by using the Christian name.

"Spike," he corrected.

I shortened it. "Wil."

"Wanker."

It was then his dessert came. "Good colour," he said, referring to the mound of red fruit. The grin came back and it took all of my willpower not to slam the table up into his face.

As the waitress put his coffee down, he said nonchalantly, "Nice girl, our Glenna."

Aghast, I stared at him.

The waitress set the cutlery.

"Didn't she have a budgie?"

She had, and he well knew for he'd taken it out of its cage and left it dead beside her.

"Eat up," I told him. "We have an appointment to keep."

"I prefer to savor my treats."

When the waitress took my plate, the stake came into view. She stared at it, then at me, before hurrying to where the manager stood.

"You need discretion," he said.

"You need to shut up," I told him.

"You're a grim sort. I didn't realize you cared so much for our girl."

I didn't reply, for the oddness of the situation was starting to come over me. I have fought many vampyre, but never had to wait for them to finish eating bilberries first.

He took his time too. Afterwards, he knocked a fist against his chest and said, "That hit the spot. Right here." His hand moved left, over his heart.

"Are you ready?" I asked.

"I haven't finished me coffee yet." He put in about a dozen packets of sugar before taking a sip. "That's awful. It's almost as bad as their ruddy beer. Like drinking musty caramel, that is. No wonder they taste so bloody bad."

I fingered the tip of the stake. This was ridiculous, sitting and waiting while he had his coffee. I couldn't drag him outside. There were too many people in the shop who might interfere, that manager certainly.

Snow began to fall and some people went by the window. I glimpsed them out of the corner of my eye, for I didn't dare look away from him. The silence stretched on as he nursed his coffee and I waited.

"Tell me about her," he said quietly, without humour. The irony of that struck me as well. I'd dealt with the Council for three weeks, and not once had anyone asked about her.

However, I wasn't going to sully her memory by giving him any more of her than he'd already had. When I didn't reply, he said, "Will you get another girl? Wait, I suppose that's a moot point as I'm going to kill you and all."

I didn't answer, understanding now that my reticence unbalanced him.

"Casting another spell?" he scowled, and I saw a shade of his demonic visage appear. He damped it down quickly as the shadow of the waitress crossed by. Norwegians are a preternaturally healthy bunch, the Viking lineage quite apparent. This vampyre was strong, but he'd be trampled should the patrons of the cafe decide to come at him en masse.

The bill came. He picked it up and sighed. "How much should I leave?  I can't figure out this kroner crap."

The feeling of being in an alternate universe increased tenfold as he pulled out a wallet. "You're actually going to leave a tip?" I asked, my head almost buzzing from the surrealism.

"I'll filch it back from the waitress later. We have a date. She doesn't know about it. I'm planning to surprise her," he said. He looked up as she approached. "Hi, sweetheart."

She looked between us hesitantly. "Will there be anything else for this table, sirs?"

"No, thank you," I said. "Here is my half of the bill," I added, passing several kroner to the demon. He took the money without thinking, and dropped it furiously as the bills sizzled in his hand.  I'd dipped the bottom edges in the holy water.

He glared at me as he sucked on his burnt fingertips. The waitress, having heard the crackle and seen smoke, ran back to the manager.

I put enough money on the table to cover everything, including a generous tip. "Are you finally ready to go now?"

"We don't have much choice, do we?" he said, nodding to indicate the manager's imminent return. "I'm the demon, but you're the one who gets us kicked out."

He preceded me, so quickly and by so many steps that I thought he was planning to make a run for it. I dashed out after him, lifted the tail of his coat, and rammed the stake through his back.

And missed his heart.

"FUCK!" he yelled as he spun around. The stake fell and spattered the snow with his black blood.

With a pewter cross in my fist, I hit him, but not very well. He came under my defenses with a punch that nearly blacked me out. I hit the frozen sidewalk. When he came down for me, I kicked and caught him in the stomach. He took the blow, too easily, and landed a smack on me that almost blew out my eardrums.

Then he pulled me up by the front of my parka. "You stupid poof," he said. "She had twice your strength and failed. What chance do you think you have?"

I still had the cross. I pushed it against his neck.

He smacked me away, kicked the cross out of my hand, then grabbed my collar again and hit me until I started to bleed. "You're mental!  Completely bonkers! Just because you're pissed about your Slayer…"

"Pissed doesn't begin to describe it," I told him.

"Well, that's the way it works, Lancelot. Slayers die. Demons die.  That's the way of the world. Just because you didn't train her very well..."

And he waited, I think for me to hit him again. As I write this now, I still don't know why I didn't. I had been trained from the beginning not to listen to the vampyre, to focus on the work through to the end, to never stop the fight.

His cold grasp came to the side of my cheek. I saw the fangs extend as he tilted my head. "Slayers die. Demons die. Watchers die," he said.

I closed my eyes and waited.

After a moment, he said, "Well?"

When I remained silent, he dropped me. I opened my eyes to find him leaning against the stucco wall of the shop, the fangs retracted. "You really suck the fun out of this," he said. "Where's the begging for your life? The wailing, the weeping? You're just lying there like a washed-up walrus."

"For Godssakes, get it over with," I said.

"Do I look like the suicide help line?"

"What is your problem, William?"

"My problem?" he asked. "We've been at this now for a month, and I came here tonight with the best intentions. I thought we'd have dinner, some conversation, a decent fight, and then I'd kill you. Staking me was an added bonus. I thought it could only get better from there." He looked disgusted.

I sat up. He was between me and the stake. I thought about trying a spell, but, for some reason, couldn't think of one. A terrible weariness had set over me. I just wanted it all done.

A couple came out of the cafe and paused at the sight. They hesitated, perhaps thinking to go back inside. Instead they crossed the street behind me and walked off at a brisk pace.

He put a hand under his coat at the back, withdrew it to see if he was still bleeding, then pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "I've never had anyone chase me for so long before," he said. "With all the spells and shit, I figured I'd get a better fight at the end. Something like an MGM burning the plantation to the ground yelling screaming all out wide screen brawl."

"You're giving me a headache."

He laughed and held out the pack. "Smoke?"

When I didn't answer, he said, "Watcher, work out your problems. When you're feeling better, we'll have our knock-down and I'll kill you.  Ok?"

Not ok, I thought, because if he went off now, half-roused, someone would die. Suddenly a spell came to me, a binding spell. I could do this one for I had his blood on my hands, and he had mine on his. I reeled off the spell in my mind, focusing on a streetlight in absence of a candle. I heard him yell a curse as a spark arced between us. His cigarette dropped into the snow.

"What is this?" he demanded, the demonic ridges appearing on his face.

"We're bound," I said, discreetly opening another vial of holy water in my pocket.

"Break it."

"Kill me."

"Break it!"

I threw the holy water at him, catching one side of his face, and dove for the stake. He was on me in a moment, burning flesh and all. We rolled into the street, both of us struggling with each other and our bulky winter clothing. I was trying to get the stake under his parka while he was trying to get my hood out of the way in order to bite my neck. It was a serious fight that probably looked ludicrous, and it ended suddenly when we were joined by three dogs.

I heard barking a moment before three huskies got in between us. Two of the dogs grabbed him and deposited him into a snow bank before leaping on top. The third husky jumped on me and I saw his jaw open. I tried to duck, found I couldn't move, waited for the bite, but got licked instead - a long lick across my forehead, accompanied by dog breath.

Lifting my head, I saw William struggling with the other two dogs. They were alternatively spinning him around in the snow and barking.

"They think we're playing," I said.

"You think?" he retorted angrily. "Call them off!"

"They're not my dogs."

"Then do another spell!"

"A spell that does what?"

"Dog repellent."

"There is no such thing as a dog repellent spell."

"Then make one up!"

"For Godssakes." I managed to wiggle out from under the husky, sat up, and looked for the stake. The dog nudged me. When I didn't respond, he bounded off to join the other two.

I had just found my weapon when the dogs' owners appeared, two strapping men. I pocketed the stake as they said something to me in Norwegian that I didn't understand.

"I'm English," I said, hoping they'd simply call their pets and go.  Instead, they kept going on with what looked like massive apologies to the both of us. William had returned to his human visage, but he looked terrible with his bruised, burnt cheek. The men, appalled, obviously thought their dogs had done the damage and they laid hold of him.

"What are they doing, William?" I asked worriedly.

"They want to take me to a doctor," he said. "And the name's SPIKE!"

"You speak Norwegian?"

"Brilliant deduction, Lancelot."

"It's Rupert Giles."

He was no match for the two men and their dogs. They were taking him, gently but firmly, down the street. All I need do was come up behind him and, this time, I was determined not to miss. I grasped the stake in my pocket.

Unfortunately, the law arrived in the form of a constable and another dog. He and the two men began talking.

I caught William's glance over one of the men's shoulders. "Well?"

"It appears we might all get arrested," he said.

"Break free and we'll go," I said. He glanced at the Viking progeny and the huskies.

"Oh right," he said sarcastically.

When he returned his attention to the conversation, I came up behind him. I almost made it, but, at the last step, ice snapped under my feet.
 
He whirled, catching the men off guard. The dogs were quicker to react. In a second, they were all on top of him. In the next second, he and I were arrested.

In the small building that passed for a police station, a doctor was called. William, completely outgunned, ended up with a plaster on his face and a lecture from the physician. He and I were both lectured further by the constable before being let go. Thankfully, I didn't understand a word.

"I am going to kill you," he said, when we were back out in the snow.

I waited, but he walked off. I returned to the street outside the cafe. When it closed, the waitress emerged, accompanied by a man who it appeared was her husband. Protection for her. I returned to my room at the Inn, where I sit now.

The binding spell will, if invoked, become a beacon, leading one to the other. Unfortunately, that is all it will do. I've no doubt that someone has died by this time, that he has taken someone's life and fed. Another death I didn't prevent.

When the morning light comes, I will invoke the link between us, load the crossbow, and go.


(December 2, 1992)

He sleeps under the ice, within a cleft of this steep gray precipice on which I am waiting. The ocean below me is whipping itself, slammed by wind above and by whatever rocks violently in its bed. Several fishing boats have returned with empty nets, and I see another coming now, the captain guiding his rusted hull carefully around the crags.

I found the vampyre's residence this morning, but could not climb down. I went back to my room, to rest myself, before coming back to await sunset.

When I returned, I tried a rather simple meditation exercise. To my surprise, it worked, but it brought with it one of those delirious dreams where one knows one is asleep, yet cannot wake. Or else this actually happened, though the reality is no less unusual. A seagull flew up from the water  and landed near me. His companions called, but he remained, eyeing me inquisitively. I wanted to shoo him away, for if he touched the crossbow, he might snap the trigger, and the arrow in the draw is poisoned. I couldn't move. My arms were heavy with the pins and needles of sleep.

After some moments, he padded towards me, then completely around me, halting by my hands which were open in my lap. He jabbed his beak at my palm, as if testing me, then waddled forward against my legs and laid his head down.

He was warm, the milky feathers tickling between my fingers, and the head almost weightless in my hands. I could see one black eye, blinking rapidly up at me. He stayed until the calls from the other birds became too frantic. Then he raised up, spread his wings, and left.

This could have been a bird who'd been fed by tourists and had hoped for something from me, or he could have been something stirred up out of my own mind. At any rate, the encounter left a pleasant feeling behind.

A whaling ship has just entered the fjord, identifiable to me by the large harpoon gun at the front. The fleet is readying to leave for the season, and their departure apparently signals winter. Taken as a late tourist, I have been warned to go before the water freezes. There will come a point, I'm told, when even the immense factory boats will be unable to cross from the mainland. If I am on this side of the channel when the boats stop, this side is where I'll be until spring thaw.

Wait. I hear something.

* * * * *

(December 3, 1992)

I am in my room, waiting for those aspirin I took to dull the sting where I have stitched myself. Seventeen stitches, done with only inadequate ice cubes to numb the dig of the needle. I could not reach the laceration on my back. No doubt it should be seen to, as I can feel it oozing as I write.

I wonder what the maid will make of the blood on the towels, or the splatter on the carpet by the door. There are probably questions already about my nocturnal comings and goings, and the weaponry that my parka doesn't quite hide. The state I was in earlier, when I asked for my key, will likely be the final straw in deciding my eviction.

There is some comfort in the fact that I have done as much damage to the demon as he has done to me. But there is no consolation in the fact that I failed. Again.

William is more intelligent than I thought. Despite my sister's bedtime stories, I had not thought him possessed of any imagination, and his repetitious pattern of attack upon me these past three weeks bore out that theory. He would come at me, I would defend myself, and he would retreat. I devised traps. He simply chased.

However, on that cliff overlooking the fjord, the demon set a trap for me.

I heard him climbing the rocks, and prepared myself in silence, though there would be no surprise. We were both well aware of the other. I could only ready myself for his usual blunt attack.

He paused just before the top. I waited, hesitant to breathe, thinking that even the mist of my breath in the frozen air would create obscurity I could ill afford.

The only warning of what was to come was a slight grunt. A shape flew up from the cliff and landed with a thump in front of me.

I jerked backwards over the sharp ground, but the object didn't move.  It was too big anyway to be him, even in his winter gear. Though I have excellent night vision, and the white of the snow helped, I could not make out what this was. Crossbow raised before me, I fumbled for my torch, cautiously switched it on, and found the body of a man, bent almost completely backwards and in such a tension that I thought he would snap. I took a step and realized, horribly, that he was one of the men from the previous evening, the unfortunate owner of the dogs. Dead, I presumed, for I could see the wound clearly on his neck, bloodless and drained clean.

The snow cracked as I took a second step and, abruptly, his eyes flew open. They fastened on me, but they were filled with terror. He cried out some words in Norwegian, the action causing a thin trickle of blood to issue from the neck wound.

He was still alive. This poor man was William's bait, to draw me to the edge, and how could I not go? How could anyone not go to someone who is crying out for them?

I went, crossbow ready. William's burst over the top of the cliff was anti-climatic. I stood with one foot on either side of the man, the most protection I could give him, and inexplicably found myself confronting two demons. Another had come up behind William, a head taller, and broader  at each shoulder. By the torch's reflection off the snow, I recognized the other of the two men that had been with the dogs. William had turned this one, and he was in the frenzy of his first hunger.

He leapt straight for me. Fortunately, the frenzy makes vampyre almost blind, so single-minded are they in intent. Sidestepping would be easily done, but would have left the man at my feet exposed. Also, William was circling casually around me. He'd fed well, and could wait on the battle to give him an unconstrained opening.

William must have thought he had everything covered. Either I would die by his hand or by the newly-turned demon's. He made no attempt to hide the sound of his footfalls on the crisp snow behind me. Actually, he was so cocky, that he stepped in front of my fallen torch and created a taunting shadow beside me.

Just as the demon in front of me reached for my neck, I hurled myself down in front of his friend, grabbed the cross I was wearing around my neck, and thrust it upwards. It caught the demon on his groin. The momentum of his charge tumbled him over me. He grabbed his injured area, I snapped the arrow in the draw, and killed him.

I had no time to reload the bow. I hurled it at William who mistook it as a last-ditch effort on my part to defend myself. He took the time to laugh at me, as I'd known he would, and, in that pause, I spoke a small fire spell. Not that I could create fire in snow, for I cannot, but there was acid in the batteries of my torch, and William was still standing directly in front of its beam.

The acid came to a boil in a flash. The battery casings split, and metal shards and hot discharge vented up William's legs.

He howled. In the midst of that satisfying sound, I ran at him with a stake. He wasn't wearing any winter gear, for he didn't need to do so
except to blend in with the populace on this island. I had a clear target.

A swoop of white between us startled me. My dream seagull was real after all. It careened in front of me, squawking its harsh calls, and
took the force of the sharp stake in my hand.

It crashed in blood and feathers on the ground, choked, and stilled. I gazed at it, stunned. William took the opportunity and attacked me.

We both went down, striking at each other. William tore my parka apart to get at me, and I was returning the hits in my own fury. Glenna, the bird, the man, others that I didn't know about….. caused by my inability to deal with one demon. I rolled us towards the edge of the cliff, determined that we would die together.

We wobbled at the precipice. I heard the vicious water in the fjord. My legs flailed into nothingness. I hugged William fiercely to me and strained to pull us into the void.

We swung into the darkness, but my face hit the side of the cliff. William had climbed it enough to know it by instinct, and he'd grabbed a purchase. He thrashed back towards solid ground, and I went with him.

The impact broke us apart. He rolled away while I oriented myself and tried to catch my breath.

"Bugger!" he cursed at me.

I righted myself, expecting him to come back at me, but he was several yards away, dashing snow over the acid burns on his legs. While keeping him in sight, I crawled to the unfortunate man I'd tried to protect. He'd died, his eyes fixed in an expression of terror. I tried to close them, but the lids were frozen.

"Damn, stupid--" William started.

Wearily, I said, "Shut up."

Strangely, he did. He watched me as I debated what to do about the man who had just died. I didn't think William had decided to turn this one as well, but I dared not leave the risk open. All I had was the stake in the seagull. I tugged it out gently, stroked the bird's head once, then returned to the man's body and shoved the stake through his chest wall and into his heart.

Blood welled up in the wound, signifying to me that I hadn't had to do this after all. I glanced at William, but whatever he was thinking
about my actions didn't show on his face.

I spoke a prayer for the man's soul, one for his friend, and a third for the seagull. William waited for a few minutes afterwards before saying, "So now what, Lancelot?"

Truthfully, I didn't know. I couldn't leave the man's body here, however I didn't have the strength to lift it, much less carry it back to the village. Nor, likely, would I have the chance. William was not going to let me simply walk away.

"Well?" he prompted, but there was no sarcasm in his voice. He seemed as surprised as I was at how the evening had turned out.

I had no answer. I think, subconsciously, I'd decided to sit there until he came at me again.

In a sudden movement, William lunged forward. I tensed, but his intention had been the unfortunate's body. Before I had time to react, he picked it up and hurled it over the precipice.

"By the goddess!" I cried.

"You can't take it into town," he said with a shrug. "How are you going to explain it?"

"He must have family. They're going to worry!"

"Someone on a boat will find him. They'll think he drowned."

"No, not with those wounds on his neck."

"And the stake in his chest," William reminded me.

"He deserves a respectful burial!"

"Once he's found, he'll get one. What do you care?" He made another move, this time towards the fallen gull. Vehemently, I said, "Don't you dare!"

Angry, demonic ridges appeared on his brow. His fangs extended to what must have been their full length, sliding down over his bottom lip by several inches. He retracted them, then slowly repeated the process several more times. The performance was accompanied by a soppy, gurgling sound which turned my stomach. He was ready to feed again, I realized, and the blood on the bird's feathers was setting him off.

I edged back to where the bird lay and took it in my lap. It was light for its size. Its wings, which would have covered the span of three feet at each side, were broken and drawn in.

William stood, though not easily. His injuries were severe too.

I waited. I had no strength to do more than raise my head, but I did so, not breaking my gaze from his for an instant.

"Watcher," he said. "Go home."

He moved off, out of the range of my sight. I waited, trembling in the cold, but he didn't return. When I saw light begin to glimmer over the water, I stood, laid the gull in a place where I hoped his fellows would see him, and began the weary walk back to the Inn.


(December 3, 1992)

My second entry today. After the last one, I decided to try meditating again. It is a calming exercise for me, perhaps due to the rituals involved which require focusing on one single thought at a time. Though I cannot claim to be a diligent practitioner of my faith, by any means, the disciplines I have managed to keep through the years have served me in good stead. The particular meditation I engaged in today leaves me with clear, ordered thoughts. I desperately needed clarity if I was to find some way of dealing with the demon William Gilchrist.

I had no altar, so I made do with clearing some space at a wall away from the window and door. One of the kitchen staff, though puzzled at
my request, allowed me to borrow eight bowls. I stacked them and filled the top one with water before returning to my room. I am ashamed to say that if I am asked why eight bowls, I don't remember the answer. I think it was on the tongue of the cook to ask, but I am no doubt considered such an odd person by now that he refrained. The sight of fresh wounds on my face and hands likely stopped him as well.

Back in my room, I folded my hands in the prescribed way, leaving a small space between them, though the movement caused one of my stitches to pull. I ignored the sting as I touched my forehead, throat, and heart respectively. That action, so deeply ingrained in me, immediately slowed my heartbeat. I touched my forehead to the carpet, then sat back up and began the pouring of the water.

This must be done slowly. The first bowl is taken from the stack and most of the water is poured into the next bowl down. The first bowl is placed on the altar as an offering, then the action is repeated until all bowls are lined up. During this, one's thoughts must be only on the pouring of the water and the movement of the bowls. Nothing else.

Afterwards, I felt more centered. I spoke my confessional prayers, and they left me feeling composed enough to meditate. I let go of all
thoughts of Glenna and William, and the terrible events of the previous evening, and concentrated on that one moment on the cliff when I felt the warmth of the seagull's head in my palms. From that image, I was able to achieve the deeper, rhythmic levels of convergence.

I was disrupted just after noon by noise at my door. My first idea was the impending eviction. However, the sight I found was not that of the Inn's manager.

It was William.

There is a consequence to the binding spell. The demon no longer needs an invitation to enter in to any room where I am, nor I into his areas. I'd considered it before I'd done the spell, but had misjudged, thinking that daylight hours would keep him quiescent. A quick look out the window revealed light so pale, it seemed more like twilight. It does not impede William whatsoever.

I was rested. I was tranquil, yet prepared to face him. Ironic as that sentence is to write, it is accurate. The deeper visualizations leave me serene and lucid.

I waited. If he wanted me, he would need to cross the room. I wasn't going to stir myself on his behalf. Yet I knew, even before he was repelled, that he wouldn't have free rein. I don't need a physical altar to create a holy place. The empty space by the wall and the bowls of water were enough. He couldn't come near them.

His eyes narrowed as he felt the aversion. It was so strong that he retched, and backed several steps towards the door.

"Have you had a look outside?" he said at last.

"And what would I see outside?"

"The ruddy ocean's frozen. The boats have stopped. I was going to ditch you, but it seems I can't."

I quickly ran through a trail of thoughts. We were frozen in. I'd been warned about it, but thought I had more time. An icebreaker would clear the channel in March, but not before, unless there was an emergency.

They were too expensive.

This demon, who had just admitted that he'd tried to run, now couldn't. He'd finally wised up to the fact that I was willing to give my life in order to end his, not a comfortable position for him to be in. Since he was stuck here with me, he'd either come to my room to kill me or to attempt a truce.

The safety of the people on this island meant that I would not even consider the latter.

So I waited quietly. After a few minutes, William scowled, "Well?"

When I didn't answer, he persisted, "Did you hear me? We're stuck on this pathetic chunk of snowdrift."

"You interrupted me," I said. I turned my back to him and spoke a particular Bodhisattva prayer aloud which was, in effect, my reply.  "May I in all times become a protector for those who are without protection. May I become a guide for those who have lost their path. May I become a bridge for those who want to cross rivers. May I become an island for those who are troubled. May I become a lamp for those who need light. May I become a place of habituation for those who are looking for shelter. May I become a servant for those who need one."

He cursed throughout the prayer. I repeated it once more, then remained facing my altar. Though I could hear him moving across the carpet behind me, I ignored him.

I thought guiltily of Merrick who had pulled me from a pit of morbid magick I'd created, and who had been my most consistent caution about returning. He'd encountered innumerable magickal forces before I'd met him, but preferred to deal with them by wit and steadfastness. He'd once told me that he'd rather catch me reading comic books than even the most bleached of Wiccan spellbooks.

I sent an apology his way, for, in the space between the prayers, I'd decided to return to the old magicks.

Using physical means, I had no hope of beating William. My weaponry was fairly depleted. Even my reserve of holy water was depressingly small. The people on this island needed to be protected. That left only my last resource.

While deliberating on which of the old ways were still available to me, I heard the demon periodically pace and swear, though the last soon died off. It was late afternoon when I realized I hadn't heard him for quite some time. I turned to find the murderous bastard asleep in a corner by the door and using my haversack as his pillow. I was well disgusted of the sight of him by now, but while he was here, I'd know what he was up to. I could keep him bound to me. If only I could keep him bound to this room.

He stirred a few times while I was pondering him and the situation, his sleep akin to that of a panther's - tense, twitching, and ready to leap. A slight gust of wind against the window and faint voices from the rooms below provoked him. The jostle of a housekeeper's cart from the hallway woke him all the way. He opened one red eye and stared at me unblinking for nearly ten minutes. Unnerving, to say the least.

While under the scrutiny of that unmoving, soulless eye, I decided on a spell. In deference to my old teacher, I would stay within the realm of pagan magick, but the spell I chose, which I could accomplish from my current spot of sanctuary, required help from the higher powers.

My intent was to bind William to the place where he lay, and let him starve until he would be weak enough for me to kill. I traced a circle around me, bent my head, and called to the realm of the old goddesses.

"What the fuck are you doing, Watcher?" he spat.

I focused on the spell, saying it quickly in case he should decide to leave. He shouted and threw something that smashed the wall beside me.

The goddesses answered and drew me to them. Rising above, I saw the demon had thrown a lamp. Pieces of the shade lay on my legs. Then I
could see no more except the blinding white that is more brilliant than the sun on arctic snow.

Presences curled around me, like willow trees sweeping their long trails of leaves. The goddesses rarely answered, and I had never seen them. Could never see them, for my human eyes were unable to look into the places where they walked. But I felt them, hot and dazzling and dreadful. Some never spoke. Some spoke only to each other. Most of them used languages I could not understand, or they spoke too quickly for my ears.

There was no need for me to speak. They'd known my request before I'd made it. That they had allowed me within their realm meant they were
considering it.

I waited, and hoped the demon still did below.

Time passed that I was unable to measure. At last I heard a high, whispery voice ask, "Vengeance, human?"

"Justice," I replied.

"There is a purpose yet."

"Whose purpose?"

The goddesses were talking among themselves now, a blur of voices that hurt my eardrums. Wincing, I said, "He will bring more death."

The voice returned. "We will give him a gift. Obsession."

"With what? With who?"

"He will burn with hate. With love. Burn for one, until that one is replaced with another and another. Always there will be one to which he will fasten and answer."

I squinted through the whiteness. "What will that accomplish?"

The goddesses were finished with me. I returned to myself. When the dizziness passed, I opened my eyes and found William's fangs bared and my haversack shredded into strips.

I swore at him. He returned my look with a weird one I couldn't comprehend.

Someone rapped hard at my door. A man's voice called, "It's the manager. Is everything all right, Mr. Giles?"

I rose and went to the door, keeping one eye on the demon. Fortunately, he seemed disinclined to move. Perhaps the energy he'd expended on my belongings had tired him.

The manger was another of those hearty Nordic types, apologetic, but firm. He took one look at the mess in my room and pronounced an eviction notice, delivered under the guise of the hotel being fully booked and did I need help finding somewhere else to stay? William kept his mouth closed during the exchange, but his eyes never left me.

I was given a half hour to pack. After I shut the door, I said softly, "William, we have to leave. Did you hear?"

"I'm not leaving with you. We're not tied at the hips," he retorted, and I breathed out thankfully at his reply. The goddesses' 'gift' to him did not include me.

I held a cross in one hand as I packed quickly with the other. "If we are stuck here until the icebreakers return, you're going to have to find alternative food," I told him. "You can't kill any more of these people. They're smart and they're big. They'll recognize you, and a few of them together is more than you can handle." I tied my possessions into a parcel, using pieces of my haversack, and started for the door.

"What, are you leaving me? Giving up the chase? he asked sarcastically. "Are you admitting you've failed your precious little Slayer-in-waiting?"

I don't know where the anger came from. I thought I had purged it from my mind, however, he wasn't even finished speaking when I found myself out of control and pounding him in the face with the hand that held the cross. He took several hits before managing to buck me off of him.

"Damnit!" he said, wiping his bloodied cheek. I'd reopened a few of his wounds and added some others.

"I haven't given up," I said in a taut, furious voice. "Don't ever think that." I hoped the powers above were listening. They had decreed William was to live long enough to accomplish some purpose, and I would have to hold my hand, but it didn't mean I would sit passively throughout.

I went down to pay my bill.

* * * * *

(December 17, 1992)

I wrote a letter to my sister before remembering I couldn't mail it. I am a man of habit, and I never thought I would be.

This island is frozen and silent. I rented a cabin near water which no longer makes any sound. Winter has frozen the waves in mid-stride, and five feet of snow has fallen in the last two days. The pallid twilight which accompanies both noon and midnight make this a strange and alien place for me. I have to check my watch, which has a calendar feature, in order to know what day it is.

There is a village a half-hour from my cabin, located where several farms and two roads meet, and a general store/pub is in unlikely operation. The couple who own it, Andreas and Emilie Hanssen, are kind people who speak some English. During my first trip to the store after moving into the cabin, Andreas insisted on loading my kicksled with supplies I would need to get through the winter, and was generous with the amounts. Emilie insisted on giving me several casseroles, and told me how to cook them on my stove. I am always overwhelmed when people who don't know me go out of their way for me. It reduces me to stutters.

The casseroles make me apprehensive. Emilie said that two of them are dyrestek and hval kjott, which I see now, by my Norwegian-English dictionary, mean reindeer steak and whale meat respectively. I have eaten the ham entrees and the rommegrot, and left the others in a bin outside where they have frozen. Courtesy demands that I actually eat them before returning her dishes. I suppose I should try one tonight and if it is too strong, the dog can finish it off in the morning.

The owners of the store didn't ask why I had been caught by the winter, though I could see that other patrons there were curious about me. I told them I was a writer of travel books and had been commissioned to do a series of articles on Norway. This went over so well that I received several offers for drinks, and had to promise I would bring my notebook the next time I came in for supplies.

This cabin is small. I have a stove for heating and cooking, a table, desk, bed, some shelves and a tub, and also lamps, oil, matches, dried fruits, salted fish, goat cheese, flour, tea, powdered milk, potatoes, and barley. I filled the indoor water tank and have several casks of drinking water besides. The loo is a shack next to the back door. I also have a jug of aquavit, the local hard liquor. It's rancid stuff, but it does the trick. In fact I see by the jug that I should refill it the next time I go to the village.

There are two windows, front and back. The front door leads down a slope towards the water, a quarter mile's distance. On either side of the cabin, the land rises upwards into mist. Fences have been built at various intervals to keep back the snow. I'm told it is a very pretty spot in the summer, when the land becomes green and flowers bloom on the slopes, however, I have no desire to stay so long.

The fabled Northern Lights have not shown themselves as yet. Despite many blurbs in travel books, the Lights are a rare occurrence. I set the alarm on my watch to chime just before midnight and diligently look for them every night. In this cloudy atmosphere, it is difficult to see much of anything, including stars.

I have a few books and notepads, and some back issues of the Verdens Gang, a newspaper out of Oslo, so I should be all right until the icebreakers return. I have also acquired a part-time dog whom I should explain as I see I mentioned him above. He belongs to the couple who run the store, but he has adopted me for some reason. He comes to see me every morning, leaving just after the store opens, which puts him at my place by seven thirty. We go for a walk along the beach, then have tea together.

One morning he came, but I was feeling lazy and didn't go for my walk. When he returned to the store too early, Andreas came immediately down to check on me. Calling this beast a dog seems funny as he is one of the largest huskies I have ever seen. If it were possible, I'd think he was part reindeer. However, he's a sweet-tempered animal whom, I'm told, goes out in all weather. He's taken a liking to me and I enjoy our walks.

Talking to him is the only time I speak lately, and my voice is beginning to sound unusual to my ears. I should go to the bar to practice my muddled Norwegian and to listen to the radio. Reporting on sports and the royalty is as popular here as in England. The Norwegians are especially fond of their Queen Sonja, I imagine because they were solong without a queen before her.

I have not seen William since I left the Inn, and I fervently hope he has not been carrying on his usual habits. There are reindeer on this island, and he could survive on their blood until March. It worries me, though, that I cannot 'sense' him. Perhaps the higher powers have revoked the binding spell between us?

Seeing his name reminds me of the letter I just wrote to Ursula. The beginning is simply, "I failed.". William arrived at this island because he followed me, and he runs free here because I wasn't able to kill him. That the powers above have extended protection to him is meaningless to me. The goddesses' agenda does not always favour human beings.

The winter cold has shut down much of the activity here, and it will be harder for William to hunt. The whalers have left, and the families waiting for them socialize indoors and in groups. The Lapps, the shorter and darker native people, are polite, but they keep their distance, and that should keep them safe. Other than warning these people they have a vampyre on the island with them (as if they would believe me), I do not know what I can do.

(December 18, 1992)

I went to the general store earlier this evening, intending to return Emilie's casserole dishes and to listen to the radio over a beer. At the back of the store is an area which serves as a pub, and it was crowded tonight. Several farmers and their wives were there, some at the counter by the radio, others at tables, and a few men playing darts. I was invited to play a round, which I declined, and headed instead towards the radio. To my horror, a familiar voice said, "Rupert won't play. He's unable to hit a target…..with any sharp object."

I wheeled around and found William standing in the midst of the dart-players, smirking as his usual wont. I hadn't noticed his blonde head among the other light-haired ones, nor sensed his presence at all.

"What are you doing here?" I demanded.

He held up a dart. "I'm on the team, aren't I?"

Good Lord! If these people had only known what they'd done when they'd handed him such a weapon. A sickening chill went through me.

A heavy-set man looked between William and I. "You two came at the same time?" he asked in a mixture of English and Norwegian.

"We came from London on holiday," William said amusedly. "Rupert, this is my mate Olaug." He glanced at the farmer. "Rupert's quite the wanker when you get to know him."

"Wanker?" Olaug asked.

I offered my hand to the farmer. "God dag," I said. "Nice to meet you."

I hoped being friendly would offset any stunts William might be thinking of pulling. He'd somehow established himself here, and my heart was almost jumping out of my chest at the thought that he might be invited into any of their homes.

William sociably introduced every single person in the pub. I put a smile on my face as sweat ran down my back.

Another farmer, Fredrik, asked haltingly, "And will you play?" He held up some darts.

"All right. Takk." I gave in. As I lined up my first shot, William moved until he was beside me, his shoulder against mine. I shot him a dark look.

"Try here," he grinned and pointed at a spot on his chest.

My first shot hit the edge of the board. William jabbed with me his elbow as I threw the second. It hit the window sill.

"You're never going to make the team, mate," he said.

"…..fuck off….." I whispered. Before aiming the third dart, I deliberately stabbed my finger on the point. The sudden smell of blood caused him to lose his smile. When I held up my hand, blood dripping down to my knuckle, I heard his slitherly intake of breath.

I took my time lining the shot. William tried to move away from me, but I grabbed his arm. In a low tone, I asked, "Want it?"

He growled in the back of his throat. He couldn't struggle too much to free himself in front of all these people. Nor could he risk reacting to the blood the way it sounded that he desperately wanted to. While holding his arm in a manner that would have left bruises on a human, I took aim and sent the last dart flying into the centre of the board. Then I met his eyes as I sucked blood off my finger.

The last shot earned me a beer, which I drank on a stool near the radio. William slunk off to a table in a corner and picked up a drink, his gaze never quite leaving me.

The dog came in to be petted, brushing against me like a warm bear, and stayed with me until I left. I spent the time keeping watch on the demon who nursed his drink in the corner. The radio newscast was about salmon export figures and women's handball scores. Andreas asked me about skiing at one point. Other than that, I waited quietly on William.

He finally left by the back door. I was immediately on his heels.

"You have no right to be here," I said.

"Oh, that'll work, appealing to my sense of propriety," he said derisively. "I shall immediately go and burrow in a snow bank until spring. Never mind  that my mates are counting on me in a darts tournament day after tomorrow."

"There are too many people in that pub for you to handle on your own.  Once they perceive what you are….."

He interrupted me. "It's not like I introduced myself with my incisors out, is it? They have more questions about you. You're the antisocial one."

"Excuse me?"

"Hiding out in that cabin, licking your wounds. Though I could help you with that last bit." William grabbed my arm in a sudden, vehement grip, met my eyes, and raised the finger I'd poked to his mouth. I struggled in vain as the cold, wet tongue slid over my flesh.

His teeth nicked me and drew a longer draught. Afterwards, he murmured, "Not bad. A little dry, but that's to be expected from an Englishman."

I threw a right cross which hit hard enough to stagger him. He blinked, then chuckled, grabbed my other arm, and yanked me to him. His mouth hit mine and our teeth knocked together. I tasted my blood on his lips.

Afterwards, he let go of me and I'm ashamed to admit that I stood there, gaping at him.

"You kiss like a mackerel," he commented. "And it's not like you haven't done it before. You used to be all chummy with that whiner Rayne, and I fancy that I'm a much better looker than he is."

"Don't EVER---!"

William shrugged. "Why not? We're stuck on this rock. Might as well make the best of it."

I gathered what indignation I could. "Get the hell away from me and leave those people alone!"

I started down the trail towards my cabin, expecting to find him on my shoulders at any moment. However, he let me go, and I made it to my room, revolted and shaking.

It seems to me that William abhors loneliness, cannot take it, and craves company, even if it is human. There lies his weakness, though I don't see what use I can make of it. I have no desire to have him near me. I poured a drink of aquavit when I came in, to steady myself, and almost threw it up for I am sickened by our contact. His touch is that of a corpse's.

_How_ did he know about Ethan? Worse, how does he know that aspect of my past? I haven't seen Ethan for sixteen years, and my 'activities' in that area have stopped for about as long. Was the vampyre in London during that time?

While I admit only in the privacy of this journal that I have felt attractions to men in the last sixteen years, I have not indulged nor acted upon them, except for once. I have been the Watcher my father expected, and I have been committed to my duties. I have loved women, but they unfortunately have come second to my calling. I have done the 'right' thing.

Look where it has landed me.

I was disturbed after that last sentence by a glimpse of something moving in the dark outside my window. Holding a cross and a lantern, I went to the front door and opened it enough for the light. The snow glowed with a bluish tint, and the ever-present fog reflected the lantern back to me.

I swept the beam from side to side for several minutes. I thought it might be the dog, then remembered that he would have come right to the door. I was about to go in when the beam caught a flash of red. I swung the lantern back.

And found myself looking into two eyes.

Though my heart gave a terrible leap, I held my ground. Finally I discerned William's shadow. He stood motionless a few yards away, watching me.

I stepped back into my cabin and slammed the door. And I waited.

Nothing.

At last I came back to this table and my journal. I have not seen him come near the window again, but I feel him nearby. I hope this feeling is a last gasp of the binding spell between us, but I suspect it has to do with that which the goddesses placed upon the demon It seems I am to be part of it after all.

* * * * *

(December 19, 1992)

It must be seven-thirty as the dog is here.

(later)

I took the lantern when I went to open the door to the dog, and found the demon still outside in the same place as before.

I fell asleep last night, despite my best attempts not to, and was wakened by the dog growling outside. He does not like the demon, and is inside now, facing the closed door, hackles raised.

I could create an area of safety and remain within it, but I am weary of this game. Let it come to a head. Let the demon come, and it all be over.

* * * * *

(December 20, 1992)

I stayed inside yesterday until I had no choice but to make a trip to the outside facilities. The dog insisted on coming with me, very awkward as the loo is just a shack and there's little room inside.

As I finished, the dog's growling raised in pitch, and I thought the vampyre had come around to where I was. I opened the door with the expectation that I would find William upon me.

"What's with you?" I asked the dog, but he was visibly upset and tried to tug me away from the cabin. "Ahh," I said, trying to calm him, for I understood then. I opened the back door and saw the demon inside, sitting at my table and casually thumbing through my journal.

William glanced up. "I saw you writing through the window Not very flattering," he mused. "You couldn't make me more evil, I suppose?  Lots of gore and dripping blood?" The dog's snarling caused William to eye him. "Take him outside, Lancelot. Otherwise I'll have to kill him."

"Good luck trying," I said, and let go of the dog's collar. He was upon the demon in a second. In the melee, I withdrew a stake from my pocket, but couldn't get a clear opening. The dog is a massive beast and though I saw William take on his demonic visage, he was outgunned. The husky had several more sharp teeth than he did, and four sets of claws. When the dust settled, William was on his back on the floor and the dog was on top of him, shredding his skin through his clothing.

Then, as if reacting to a signal, the husky abruptly stopped. He stepped away from William, moved in front of me, and laid down.

William raised up onto his elbows. "You can't keep him with you forever," he managed, swallowing his own blood. The front of his shirt was soaked in it.

I saw down on my bed, not answering. It seemed that all the dog wished to do was assert his dominion, or else he had indeed answered to something I hadn't heard. Whether he would now stay or go was outside my control.

William struggled up and went to the sink to wash himself. "Why do you do that?" he asked.

"Do what?"

"Write in that book? What's it for? Does that Council of yours make you?"

"What the hell do you care?"

"Fair enough," he conceded, and tried to grin through a split lip. He winced and added, "We've certainly given each other enough knocks, haven't we? I'm all bruises again."

He edged back towards the table, wary of the dog, and it suddenly occurred to me the full extent of what I'd written. I leapt for the journal, but the dog was up at my movement, and in the way. William, gauging my intent, grabbed the book, leaving a bloody imprint on the cover which still feels sticky to me as I write now.

"Shall we have a story?" he asked.

I cursed to myself, though I was careful to keep a neutral expression on my face.

"Where should I start?" he asked, waiting for a reaction.

When I wouldn't give him one, he shrugged and opened the book to a random place. "Well," he said after a few minutes. "Lots about our Slayer-to-be. Poor little Glenna."

I nudged the dog with my foot, hoping to goad him into another attack, but he wouldn't budge.

William held the journal towards me. "What's this word?" he asked, pointing.

"Go screw yourself," I said.

"You could be more friendly," William said. "If this is any good, I know a publisher. Oops, no I don't. I ate him."

He turned the journal around and sounded out the word. As he did, I felt a flutter of hope. It didn't appear that he was much of a reader.

"Ursula," he said at last. "That's your sister, ain't it? She's a tough old bird. Got quite a few years on you."

"She is a maiden lady," I said.

"Maiden, my ass," William corrected. "Lancelot, I know her."

"Don't call me that."

"You want to be called Rupert?" he asked. "I wouldn't have thought it, considering it was the name your father bestowed on you. Rooopert Eric Nathaniel Giles, he used to call, in that snotty-nosed way of his. You should hate the sound of it." He smirked at the look I must have had on my face. "I knew him too, and that dried up wife of his. Getting her knocked up must have been like trying to ram a piece of fluff into a sack of old flour."

"Stop it," I said.

"I can't say your old man was good for much, but he did have a pair of working balls at any rate. After he gave up on that wife of his, he pounded four babies out of your mum. But she wasn't good enough for him to marry, was she? That's why you're a dockland boy, not a Hofmann, and that not-so-maidenly sister of yours got the estate and all the lolly."

The dog bumped gently against me and I leaned down to stroke his ears, using the action as an excuse to turn my face away.

"You're not like him. You're not like any of them, those brassed-up Watchers," William said. "Maybe you're not your dad's after all. Maybe your mum had a secret of her own."

The demon continued reading. At length, he said, "Our Glenna was sick, Rupert. Her liver, her stomach. She had more pus than blood in her veins. That's why I didn't eat her. She kept going on about that damn budgie so I put it beside her. They used to do that, you know, long ago, in the tombs."

My throat closed and my hand jerked in the dog's fur. To hear naked truth from the mouth of a demon is truly a torture, for the words are not tempered by any sort of compassion.

"Here, did you write anything about that strumpet in Oslo?" He flipped towards the front of the journal. "I thought you were going to do her in that park. I hope you remembered about safe sex, mate."

I got up, unable to sit still and listen to any more. The dog didn't bar my passage. I put the kettle on the stove and opened the container of tea.

"I like lots of sugar," William said, not looking up from my journal.

"I'm not making any for you."

"None of that powdered milk shit though. It sticks on my tongue."

He continued reading, opening pages randomly, an odd sight at the table, his head bent over the circle of lantern light. A cozy scene that wasn't cozy.

"Is this a shopping list?" William looked up at me. "You write about everything, don't you? Did they teach you that in Watcher school?"

"It's called being meticulous."

"It's called being dull." He closed the book and sent it sliding across the table towards me. "So, how are we going to kill time on this rock?"

"I thought you'd joined a darts team," I said dryly, picking up my journal.

"There are only two more games before bloody Christmas parties start, and I'm not going to any of those." He watched me pour out one cup of
tea. "You could be hospitable, Rupert."

"You broke into my home. You're not a guest."

I took a seat on my bed, which put the dog back between us.

"This shack isn't much, but it's better than the bush I've been living in. I wish I had a few posters to brighten it up." He stood and pulled off his pants.

"What on earth are you doing?" I demanded angrily as the trousers dropped to the floor and he ripped off the last tatters of his shirt.

"I'm settling in. Here's my half of the rent." He threw a small plastic bag onto the bed beside me. I jerked away from it, but when it didn't do anything, I picked it up and discovered it contained marijuana.

"That's high grade. None of that crap like you've been smoking. Got any papers?"

"No."

He laughed. "I think you do."

I threw the bag towards him, onto the table, and contemplated my options. Actually, I had only the one. Leave the cabin and find another, which would only suffice if he decided not to follow me.

After he finished undressing, he opened my cupboard. "What is this? A fish? You could get a fresh one if you took a pole and cut a hole in the ice."

"That ice is several feet thick."

"Then do a little magick and melt it," William said. He paused in his poking to scratch his arse.

"Damnit! Don't touch my food now!" I jumped up and shoved him over.

"That's not food. That's rations." He flopped back onto a chair and was quiet for a time.

I returned to the bed and was nearly finished my tea when he said, "Your heart has slowed. It's not as fast as when I came in. I'm growing on you already."

It occurred to me that spending the winter in this cabin with William was a more horrid prospect than spending the winter with him trying to kill me. Or, perhaps, both would be happening simultaneously.

"I get the left side of the bed, Rupert." A look of glee returned to his face. "Oops. There goes that heart speeding up again."

"There is no way in hell--"

"You'd make a guest sleep on the floor?"

"I should think the floor is a step up from a bush, and quite more than you deserve!"

"I'm going to need to borrow some clothes, thanks to that damned dog of yours," he said, as if he hadn't heard me. "And I'll be out late at the pub tonight, so don't wait up for me."

"You take a great risk going there."

"How so, Rupert?"

"You killed two men. Probably others. Someone is missing them and the body you threw into the fjord will turn up sooner or later."

"It did turn up, which you'd know if you hadn't spent so much time alone here, sulking," William said off-handedly as he dressed in my best shirt and trousers. "He still had your stake in his chest, the stake you had on your side of the table in that hole-in-the-wall restaurant." He finished lacing up his boots before continuing, "It's all the talk. First murder in sixty years. Police investigating. Strangers hiding out on the island. Could they be escaped murderers from England?"

He glanced at me and laughed at my shocked expression. "The bloke washed out to sea, Rupert. No one's found him."

"It's reprehensible," I said in a whisper.

"I can't figure out why you give a shit," William said. He left and I heard his footsteps trudging out on the darkened, snowy path.

The dog stayed with me for several hours, lying at my feet wherever I was. In truth, I was glad of him, but he must have eventually deemed it safe, for he went to the door to be let out.

He came again this morning for our usual walk. We travelled farther this time, on a path that winds up instead of down, and into air sweeter than I could have imagined. I could have stayed up there, but the dog grew restless, so much so that I thought the vampyre had returned. However, the cabin was empty when I came back.

His return is inevitable. I am starting at every sound while I write and the foul smell of his blood on the cover of this book permeates the cabin. Damn him.


(December 22, 1992)

I woke this morning, turned over sleepily, and jumped when I found William's face close to mine. He was sitting on the floor with his head by the top of the bed.

"You sleep like the dead," he said. "I wasn't sure you were still alive, at first, until I poked you a few times."

I sat up, but that was all I could do for a wave of weakness went over me. I touched my neck and said, "You bastard. You fed off me."

"Just a little."

"Why didn't you finish me off?"

William shrugged. "Rupert, what do you say to immortality? I think the two of us might get on all right, you with your magick and me with my looks. Want to give it a go?"

I met his eyes straight on. "Should you get hungry again, just damnwell finish it. In fact, why don't you get it over with now?" I exposed the wounds on my neck.

He sighed. "This is a game, Rupert. There has to be a chase and some crying and begging. Then, at the end, it's done slowly. You have to savour it, take your time."

"And how much time do you think you need?" I asked sarcastically.
 
"We're frozen in until Spring." He stood, stretched like a lazy cat, then went over to the stove. "Do you fancy some breakfast?"

I didn't answer. I'd reached to put on a lantern and another dizzy spell had come over me.

"I didn't drink that much off you. Iron's a bit off in your blood. I think you're run down."

Closing my eyes, I leaned against the wall. I heard him put a pot on the stove and rummage around in the silverware drawer. My stomach turned over at the sounds.

At last he came over to the bed and sat down beside me. I opened my eyes when I felt a tray being placed in my lap.

I stared at him. "This is unthinkable."

"What? It's just eggs and that porridge crap."

"If you think I'm going to eat just so that you can drain me halfway again--" I started, but William sighed.

"Do what you want," he said.

We were silent for some time, and it was all I could do not to eat for the food smell was tempting.

Suddenly, he asked, "Why do Slayers need Watchers? I've been around a couple of your types and I don't see your use really."

I had a vision of him asking this on the Council Floor, and the looks he would receive in return, and I smiled before I could stop myself.

"We do train for this job," I said, then gave in and began eating.

"Yeah, yeah, you sit in your stuffy little schoolrooms learning dead languages, and then you pick up some prepubescent girl and make her do  calisthenics in front of you until you get off. She's the one who comes out looking for me. Watchers don't." William glanced at me. "Except for you."

"You think the hunt is all there is?"

"The hunt _is_ all there is," William said. "What on earth do Watchers teach Slayers that keep them safe from me?"

"Her safety doesn't come into it. It's the people she's protecting--"

"Ah, so you screwed up."

"Excuse me?"

"You cared more for your Slayer than the people in her town," William said. "Otherwise you would have stayed in Australia rather than go on a trip with me. I wasn't the only vampire there."

I looked away, but he was still gloating. "I get it now, why you're not like the other ones. Your Council mustn't think too much of you, Rupert, because you gave a rat's ass about her."

He picked up a newspaper. "Look at everything that happened….." he paused to check the date, "five weeks ago." He snorted, but kept reading.

I eyed him while I ate. I wasn't bothered by what he'd said to me (I'd heard as much before), however I was surprised he'd picked up on it. He had more history with Slayers and Watchers than I cared to fathom, and the fact that he was still around, despite it, was an uneasy thought. I now believed the stories my sister had told me about him. I think she does not know the half of it.

And the goddesses wish to keep him on this earth. Dear Lord.

"My team won the tournament. We all got roaring drunk to celebrate, until the women came to get their men. We're invited to Christmas dinner at Jorgen Skjaeve's house."

"Your team?"

"No, Rupert. You and me."

Warily, I said, "I thought you didn't celebrate Christmas."

"Jorgen says his wife makes blood pudding."

I put the tray aside. "Why am I invited?"

"Us both being English and showing up at the same time got everyone curious. You told them you were doing a book, but that didn't explain me. Since we're sharing a cabin and all, I said we were a couple. You came to write and I came with you."

"William--"

"Call me honey."

"You arrogant prat!"

"If anyone asks, we've been together for six years and you adore Bing Crosby movies."

It was then the dog came to the cabin. Instead of his usual short bark of greeting, he launched into a fury of them at the door.

William's face darkened as I rose. "If you value your skin, Rupert, you won't let him in."

I gave him the finger and opened the door.

The dog launched himself. There's no better word. I saw a blur of fur and claws, William running out the back, and the dog-missile chasing him. I heard his steps pound around the cabin, then he appeared at the front, the husky at his heels.

The chase reminded me of that cartoon about the skunk who fancied himself in love with a cat who had inadvertently had a white stripe painted upon her. She ran like mad while the skunk ambled after her. William frantically rounded the cabin several times while the husky loped easily in pursuit. When William made it back into the cabin, he was whiter than his norm and had several teeth marks upon his arms.

"Your damn--!" he started, but I opened the back door, allowing the husky inside again.

Instead of going back out, William ran towards me.

And into the stake I held.

The husky bounded onto William's back. The stake penetrated the skin over William's heart, but skidded sideways due to the impact of the dog. The three of us tumbled to the floor with me on the bottom and William in the middle, his expression one of surprise as the bloodied stake went rolling across the floor.

Fortunately, the dog slid his rump onto the floor, or I would have been crushed. He must have thought his work was done, for he licked the side of my face in greeting, then sat there, tail wagging.

William raised up on his hands and gave me a long, careful look. "I thought we had a truce, Rupert."

"You fed off me," I retorted.

"That's how it works. That's why I have the fangs and you have the neck."

He bent his face towards mine. I tensed, and the dog barked and cuffed him.

"Ow! I ain't going to hurt him with you right here, am I?" he complained to the husky. "Look, no teeth!" He flashed his open mouth at the dog.

"Get off me," I said, pushing at William.

The amusement came back into William's eyes. "Hmm, is that a pulse throbbing in your temple there?" He bent his mouth to my face, but as he only sucked at the skin without breaking it, the husky merely growled and left it at that.

A blast of snow and wind hit us from the open back door. It didn't affect William, but the cold pained my skin. I pulled my arms between us.

William misinterpreted the action. "Trying to protect your virtue, Lancelot?" he asked with a laugh. "Have you become the family maiden?"

"You might look to your utter lack of technique as the reason I don't want you on top of me," I said, miserably chilled.

He got to his feet in one swift movement and went to the door. "Want out?" he asked the dog hopefully.

The husky, continuing his pattern of yesterday, seemed content now that he had shown himself the dominant male. He flopped full length on the floor and closed his eyes.

I raised to my elbows. William shut the door, got a blanket from the bed and threw it at me. Then he turned up the stove. I wrapped myself as I moved closer to the dog's warmth.

"Do Slayers know they don't need Watchers?" he asked suddenly.

"But they do need Watchers, for training and discipline."

"That's a lie, Rupert, and you know it. You call it training. I call it neutering." He studied me thoughtfully for a few minutes before retrieving the bloody stake. He knelt before me on the floor, handed me the stake, and raised his shirt. "I'll give you a clear shot, Watcher. Plunge it in."

I eyed the wound I'd given him, oozing yet already beginning to heal. "And the catch?"

"You already know," William said softly. "I know stuff your Council never told you. You've got a whole freighter load of magick in you.  We'll trade, and while we're doing so, neither one of us tries to kill the other. If you don't agree, kill me because I can't take being this bored all winter."

"Excuse me, but I didn't think demons were particularly trustworthy."

"It's nothing to do with trust, Rupert. It's feeding someone just enough that they never stop feeling hungry. You're safe as long as you've got the kettle." He closed his eyes, folded his hands behind his neck, and leaned forward until his exposed chest was mere inches away from the stake in my hand. "Have I finally found something with which to tempt you?" he murmured.

"It's an uneven trade. I suspect you're more pretension than substance."

"Now you're wounding me," he mocked and moved forward until he was actually resting against the tip of my weapon.

Dear goddess, it was so close.

Yet, I lowered the stake. I had no more illusions. The higher powers were actively protecting William, for how many opportunities had I had with this, and failed? My aim is not that bad.

After some time, William opened his eyes and gave me a strangely curious look. "You're accepting the terms?"

"There are no terms. Feed off me or anyone and I'll put a spell on you that will rip your guts inside out."

"Something to look forward to, Rupert."

I got up, a slow process as I was still feeling weak and out-of-sorts.

At my movement, the dog rose too and stayed by me while I performed my morning ablutions. I usually meditate in the mornings as well.  William's nearness paused me, but the ritual is something I'd rather not go without. I sat cross-legged on a piece of matting and closed my eyes.

"A spell, Rupert?" William asked, sounding worried, I thought. "This one better not be directed at me."

Tuning him out, I concentrated on my breathing. Correct breathing clears toxins out of the body, and I could feel residual poisons left from William's bite.

"Rupert?" William demanded. He sounded far away to my ears. The dog barked, also sounding as if he was at a distance.

I followed a flow of spinning molecules, a dance of carbon nuclei that whirled with my breath. In. Out.

I heard murmurs of voices as I balanced myself. I think these are echoes from other times, though I'm not sure. I once thought this was my own subconscious brain activity, but the voices vary according to the place I am. Perhaps these are emotional imprints left in air which has been here since the earliest upheavals of the earth. Sound waves which have nowhere to go.

Eventually they too muted, until at last I was in that place of crystalline quiet. The trip the dog and I had made on the upward path had taken me near to this. That spot above the mist, where air burns my lungs and not even birds can find enough buoyancy to fly. But I hardly need to breathe up there, and birds are content to be on the ground.

Afterwards, I felt composed and strong. Opening my eyes, I found William watching me distrustfully and the dog asleep with his head on my leg.

I stood, put on my parka and boots, and said, "I'm going to the store."

"I'm going with you," William said.

"No," I told him and went outside, the dog beside me.

He followed us, not close, but not too far away either. I went cross -country skiing that afternoon, at Andreas' suggestion, again with the demon shadowing me at the same distance. It is evening now as I write this. William is sitting on a stool in the corner, smoking one of his joints and periodically making comments to me, which I ignore.

I will take this journal to bed with me and cast a circle so that I will not wake tomorrow as I did this morning. I wonder what tomorrow will bring, or if it will be like today? Will today be the pattern for the rest of the winter?

Something tells me, no.

* * * * *

(December 23, 1992)

William was still asleep when I woke this morning. I invoked a pressure spell to thicken the air between us so that I could get up and move around without having to worry about the sound of it reaching him.

When the dog came, I had already eaten and was outside in my parka and insulated hiking boots, my skis on my back. "Let's go up again," I said to him, and he was eager for it.

We ascended in silence, for it feels wrong to disturb this atmosphere without just cause. We went up beyond the fence lines and spotted a structure that shone even in this dim light. I couldn't make out the building at first, for an odd projection stretched off the roof. Upon nearing it, I saw it was an old stave church. The projection turned out to be a carved dragon head, and the glow was due to shingles cut and stained to look like scales.

I risked only a few steps in, unsure of the floor. Some of these churches contain burial rooms, a holdover from Viking ships which had burial chambers on board.

Because of the darkness, I couldn't tell if there were rooms underneath the main floor. My lantern was sufficient to reveal the beauty inside, this still apparent despite years of disuse. The builders had taken time with this church. The jambs still fit snugly, the pews were aligned with precision in two rows to the altar, and there were carvings in the wood which must have taken months rather than days to etch. Looking around, I felt a stab of longing for England and for those old churches and libraries in which I passed my young years.

William had been correct in calling me a dockland boy, which I gather he can hear in my accent. I grew up in the grime of east end London, but churches and libraries are open to the poor. They were my places of refuge as a child, and again after my fateful tenth birthday when my destiny landed upon me like an hurricane.

The dog waited patiently for me at the entrance, not trusting the floor enough to enter in, I guessed. I stayed inside the church until I had seen everything I could from my vantage point, before returning outside where I'd left my skis.

I picked a random direction with which the dog seemed content, but we hadn't walked for an hour when he balked and whined softly.

"What is it?" I looked around but couldn't perceive any danger. That we were in the midst of trees indicated safe ground lay under the snow, rather than deceptive frozen water. Still, the dog was uneasy about something. When I continued on, he followed nervously.

A quarter of an hour later, I rounded a tree and started at finding a reindeer directly in my path. From a distance, they'd never looked to be larger than a cow. Up close was a different matter. The reindeer's head was on a level with mine.

I backed away, however the animal merely gave me a disinterested glance. When I was what I felt to be a sufficient distance, I turned only to find another reindeer a few feet away.

Peering around in the dim light, I perceived the shapes of several more. I'd wandered into a herd.

They hadn't spooked, nor did they seem inclined to. (Actually, I'm writing this now while only a yard or so away from one.) They appear not to care about the dog or me, and, in fact, one passed so close by me in his search for bark to eat, that his thick fur brushed my arm. I took off my mitten for a moment, to feel the rough hide, and was amazed at how warm the animal felt, even in this unforgivingly-cold air.

Their ears are tagged. They are owned. They are not their own beings. This place is an illusion of freedom, yet they are not trying to escape or remove the tags. They are moving through the trees with quiet grace, their breathing rhythmic and unhurried.

There seems little food for them, and they are not anxious about it. They must be used to feeling hungry during this season. This is the cycle, the way it has always been. To rail against it would be to bash their antlers futilely.

I'd told William to feed off these animals rather than humans, but it's a concept I have trouble defending. It's slippery, for the lesser of two evils argument still resolves itself with an evil. Yet, is taking one of these lives less of an evil? These animals might feel as strongly about life as humans do, and certainly they would not allow William to kill any of them without resistance. He is not part of the natural cycle of living and dying here. The intended victim would surely fight him or try to run.

Sitting here in the snow, I realize I have conceded these reindeers' lives to be as important as a human being's. Accepting this, taking the next progression in the argument, (and knowing that I'm not really qualified to make value judgements on worth), *any* life is then potentially as important as a human being's. Bird, fish, insect.

Do I keep going with this? An uncomfortable feeling inside tells me not to, to keep living with an unresolved schism, for to take this any further means I will feel guilt at eating another bit of hamburger.

Yet, subconsciously, I have been mulling over this argument since my tenth birthday, and the proof is that the resolved verdict suddenly appears laid out and completed in my mind.

It goes far beyond the reindeer. These clothes I wear, my shoes, my belongings - they've been made in factories that create industrial waste which spills into water and the earth. Those salted fish in my cabin were killed by fishermen and brought in by ships with smokestacks. One could end up in rags on a road in an attempt to cause no damage or harm. But where is the good in that? Is a life lived in such a manner of any true use?

The answer to that question is, generally, no. I'm no Buddha or Jesus. Their empty hands were actually not so, but filled with everything. My empty hands are simply empty.

Living in rags at the side of the road, or naked in a cave does not help, neither myself nor others. The lack of harm I would be doing does not outweigh the good I could be doing. As this conclusion has come so quickly, I've obviously worked it out beforehand, somewhere in my head.

Yet, in a sense, wandering at the side of the road is what I have been doing. The cabin is the cave, and I've been hiding. Unlike these reindeer, I've been bashing my head against the trees. I have been given clear direction by the higher powers as to what I'm to do, and I've been railing against it ever since.

Here is what I have not yet accepted:

One. The demon is here. Not only here at the moment, but frozen in, stranded. Whatever purpose he has, it is not yet time for it.

Two. I am here, stuck for the winter, stranded, muted, forced into inactivity.

Three. The demon is my responsibility. Solely. He is in my cabin, there under his own power or guided by the goddesses. The cause is irrelevant. He is there.

Four. William's 'gift' of obsession requires some response to keep it active. Those days we were apart, he felt no need to seek me. It was when we met in the bar that the 'gift' kicked back in. I was on the right track with the binding spell, though I didn't know that at the time. Keeping him near me keeps him away from other people, as much as possible. Their safety comes before mine.

I have to swallow this. It is time to put on my skis and return down this hill.

* * * * *

(December 25, 1992)

It is barely five a.m., and William has not yet wakened. He said something about wanting to sleep through this holy day, and I hope he does just that. I am heartened by the fact that I made tea and the noise of the kettle didn't wake him.

I returned to this cabin much too quickly after my last entry in my journal. I tried to go slowly, for the sake of the dog (I told myself), but my skis are a good pair. The dog found it easy-going anyway, as he followed in the tracks I left with much effort. He left me at the door without preamble, going off on his route home without a second look. My heart jumped at that, and I wondered if William had woken and left the cabin in my absence.

He was here, though. Awake and on his feet by the window, watching my return.

"Not bringing the beast in with you?" he asked as I came in and shook snow from myself.

I didn't answer. I took off my winter gear, drew a breath, and began removing the rest of my clothes.

"Are you going to take a bath, Lancelot? You don't have to do so for my sake. I've smelled a lot worse than you."

I got in the bed, shivering from a combination of cold and dread.

"You sick?" he asked finally.

"No, William," I said as I drew back the quilt on one side. "Do you want to come to bed?"

He started to laugh, but it didn't last when he saw my serious face.

"All right," he shrugged. He went to put out his joint, reconsidered, and brought it with him. I was glad of it, for being with him required rather more effort than I have ever had to take before in this area.

Later he told me a story about a Slayer, one which I doubt I would find in the Council's official records, but one which makes too much sense to be dismissed. Slayers are normally removed from their families and everything they have known so that they will bind to their Watchers. In centuries past, they were moved as far away as possible during their training, often to different countries (even if the passage was a dangerous one). William told me of a Slayer, Glwyden, whose Watcher was killed early in her training. She had been away from her village perhaps two weeks, no more. Alone, she returned to her people, and they bowed to her when they saw her, as one will bow to royalty, but no one would speak to her. She stepped directly in front of people she had known, addressing them by name, but they lowered their heads and walked around her as if they didn't see her. Some left food on their steps for her, but no one would open their doors or let her in. Glwyden's own mother would not even leave food. She locked her door so securely that Glwyden was unable to open it. Eventually, shamed and cast out, Glwyden returned to where her Watcher had died, remaining there alone until a demon found her. She would not raise a hand to defend herself, and the demon killed her without receiving a scratch in return. He carried her body to the village and taunted the people, asking them if they knew who she was and if any of them would give her a Christian burial. The people would not answer him either, and eventually he tired of the game and left the body beside a well where it stayed until wolves came from the forest and ripped it apart.

William said that the story used to be told to Slayers by their Watchers as a morality lesson. I'd never heard the story of Glwyden before, but I know that Slayers used to be told to protect their Watchers before anyone else. As time went on, Watchers became less involved with their Slayer's patrols, and eventually stopped going on them altogether, about the time King Charles came to the throne. Merrick was the first Watcher I knew to go out on patrol. I know of no others.

In return, I decided to answer his question about whether Slayers need Watchers.

The answer, historically, is no. And this I learned from Merrick.

Slayers existed long before Watchers. When humans beings began taking over this earth from demons, some of the demon race mixed their blood
with human women and created the hybrid Vampyre. This is common knowledge. Further to this legend is something I have only heard from my old teacher. When the Deity who created earth saw the Vampyre birth, He responded by sending down an Angel to impregnate a woman. The child that resulted comprised celestial strength and human compassion, and was the first Slayer.

(The legend veers off into a joke at this point. Where do babies come from? The stork. Where do Slayers come from? Angels with a little time on their hands.)

Before there were Watchers, Slayers burned so fiercely that a human could not touch them without pain. A Slayer's light could be seen in the night sky from miles away. During the time of the Roman expansion, a group of statesmen attempted, but failed to assassinate Emperor Claudius. Because these men were titled, they were punished by being stripped of their lands and sent to Gaul, rather than being put to death. While there, they saw a Slayer.

They were ambitious men seeking power, and they were drawn to taming this Slayer, as much as it is possible to tame one. Apparently these men worked through a few dozen Slayers, killing these poor young girls, before they found a process that worked. But, when they found the means, they held on tight, and have ever since. Since that time, the light of the Slayer has been failing and their life expectancies have become very short.

I have never seen a Slayer. Glenna was a potential Slayer, and perhaps would never have been activated. I taught her how to fight, and, as there were demons in her town in Australia, I went on patrol with her, for she did not have the power that comes with inheriting the Calling. Even if she had been Called, I could not have sent her out alone. She was so small.

William told me a few more tales yesterday, mundane ones that I had heard before. We got out of bed only to have dinner and get drunk on aquavit.

This morning I woke feeling pleasantly warm, the first time I have felt so since coming to this island. It was curious, seeing as I had the equivalent of a dead person lying under the quilt beside me. I expected to wake up and find he'd fed off me, but he didn't. That is curious too.

We are invited out to Christmas dinner tonight. Despite William's comment that he would sleep today through, I know he is intent on going. I shall have to go with him to keep an eye on him.

* * * * *

(December 26, 1992)

In the midst of one of the loveliest evenings I have ever had, came the inevitable.

I am undecided what to do. This bubble around me can be broken by the outside world, despite winter and the miles of ice surrounding this cabin. The circle of existence continues. Every action on the hub brings a response as the wheel turns, and there are no places free of the turning.

I shall start at the beginning, put it all in order, and see if there are any choices left.

William woke yesterday afternoon and asked me to return to bed (which I declined). So he rose and dressed for the dinner to which we had been invited. Perhaps if I had not refused, we might have stayed and thus prevented…..

No. It would only have delayed the consequences.

The walk to Jorgen Skjaeve's farm was wearisome. The wind was against us. It was piercingly cold. Only William's urging kept me going.

"Everyone will be out tonight," William said. "They don't mind the weather. Why should you?"

"I wasn't born here. This weather is not usual for me."

"Neither was I, and I'm not whining." He quieted. I was trudging behind him, following his imprints in the snow, when he stopped and turned. "I was born twice, each time in the midst of a killer heat wave."

Who cares, I thought miserably.

"My human mum died when she had me. She couldn't take it. The second time, my sire Angelus was there, waiting for me. The first words I heard was him saying, "Everyone's slow in the heat. Easy pickings." I had quite a feast."

"Are we staying in this spot for the night?" I asked sarcastically, pointing at the snow that was up over my knees. It had just fallen and wasn't yet frozen enough to bear our weight.

William grinned. "Patience, love, and in case you don't know, those were the first words you ever heard."

"Uh huh," I muttered, pushing him forward. He obliged, picking up the pace again, but what he said next froze me inside.

"I'd been following your mum down Carry street. It would be easy, I thought, 'cause she was all bloated with you in her. She stopped once to hang onto a pole and I thought that would be the time to get her. But your sister drove up in that fancy rich car, and she saw me. She got in the way, holding a ruddy cross, while your mum got in the car.  Your sister floored that Rolls, but I could still hear them arguing.  Your sister wanted your mum to go to a hospital. Your mum wouldn't go. She wanted to go home, and that's where you were born, in that bedroom at the front."

He must have heard my breathing catch, for he glanced back in amusement. "Your sister never told you this story?"

"The story you're making up right now?"

"You were born in that house in Torkem Row, weren't you? Your sister called your father, but he never showed, so your sister stayed at the front door, on lookout for me."

"I thought you just said you were out hunting, yet you stayed at a house where the people had already gone in."

"Yeah, well, I'd twigged that your sister was a Watcher. And the way she and your mum were going on, I figured out what everybody was to each other. Watchers come in families, and here was another one being born. Not good for me," William said. "I figured I'd hang about for a bit, see if there was any way I could get a look in."

"A look in to do what?"

"Kill you. Catch up, Rupert," William told me. "You came out screaming. Your mum said, "Patience, love.", and then your sister went in to have a peep at you. I went up the walk, thinking I'd have one too, see, and burned myself on a bush. Your sister had doused everything with that damn water."

William paused to light a cigarette. I looked away, across the dark horizon. Again, the demon had surprised me. I didn't want him to see it.

William flicked his match away. "After that, the battle was between me and your sister. I'd go back now and then, but she guarded everything too well…her, you, your mum. Shagging you, though, I figure I got the last word."

The wind picked up. I wrapped my muffler around my face.

"Are you still in there?" William asked with a laugh, peering at me.

"Let's just fucking go," I said.

"That's the Christmas spirit, Rupert. Cheery as always."

The trip took over an hour. The farm was down the road from the general store, and I could see it about twenty minutes before we got there. An oil lamp sat in every window, throwing long golden light from every side of the house.

Here is where the pleasant part of the evening starts. Jorgen and Liv Skjaeve are a friendly couple. Their land has been owned by the Skjaeve family for many generations, and old paintings and artifacts are on the walls and shelves inside the house. Jorgen is an older man who studied geology and engineering at the University of Oslo, but returned home after his father died. He speaks English and German, and we were able to converse quite well. His wife, Liv, speaks only Norwegian and some Swedish, as do most of the people on this island, and Jorgen needed to act as translator on my behalf.

The couple met William and I at the door and invited us into a house filled with warm food smells. There were potatoes, yams, biscuits, mosbromlefse (griddlecakes), gjetost (toasted goat cheese), two types of cream sauce, pies, tarts, custards and that blood pudding William had spoken of, and a main course of the largest salmon I have ever seen. Liv had a plate in my hand before my coat was hung up, and tea ready before I sat down.

The inside of the house was decorated with stockings, tinsel, and wreaths. There was no tree, but a manger scene extended nearly half a wall's length.

Andreas and Emilie Hanssen were already there, and an elderly farmer, Tobias Dagre. At the door, Jorgen whispered that William's and my relationship would not be explained to Tobias, as the latter wouldn't understand. This gave me a moment of confusion before I remembered what William had said we were. Then I blushed and my old stammer returned. Jorgen kept patting me on the shoulder and assuring me that it was fine as he led me into the living, room, but it wasn't fine, for here was something else the demon had managed to do. Not only had I failed to kill him, but he would now be explained as my 'better half'.

I see I used the word invited in one of the paragraphs above. Actually, Jorgen invited me in after William had already stepped across the threshold. William had been there before. The invitation had already been extended. And it worried me.

Throughout the evening, other neighbours dropped in and out, and all of them knew William already. Some were his darts teammates. As for the others, I don't know how he'd met them. He not only knew the lay of the land, but nearly everyone living on it, and this is not a demon trait.

Most vampyre do nothing more than hunt and move on. People are prey, not acquaintances. To hide their nature from human beings would not
occur to vampyre, unless it is part of a hunt.

Does William need people around him more than food? Or is this aspect of him something recent, part of the goddesses' work? Ursula claims
that William is a loner, sometimes hooking up with a female demon from Prague, but usually moving on his own. He is the ultimate in serial killers, and has a pattern which he indulges and enjoys. He likes to kill his victims at a leisurely pace, often within sight of their home. He uses all manner of devices - ropes, gags, surgical instruments, blindfolds, whips. He might extend the kill for hours, ending it only at the approach of day, at which time he bends the body backwards until the soles of the feet rest on the shoulder blades. In this position, the victim is tied (trussed like a turkey is how Ursula depicted it), their eyes are removed, and they are left propped up, facing their home. His victims are often found with burn marks or with words carved in their skin. Three of them, women, had their breasts hacked off.

This ran through my mind every time he greeted someone. It was mentioned by Liv and Emilie that I looked pale. It is no wonder, as the number of people who would invite William into their homes grew. How could the goddesses allow this abomination to walk free and unencumbered?

As I'm writing this, it occurs to me that perhaps William is not quite so free. He seems unable to let me out of his sight now, and I discovered the extent of that last night. If I went to the kitchen or bathroom without telling him, he would panic and look immediately for me. He needed to have me in view every second. (In fact, as I sit here at the table with this journal, William is 'sleeping' in that peculiar way of his - on his side, facing me, with his eyes open.)

And now I have gone off the point, for I meant to write the events of last evening as they progressed.

The dinner was excellent and the people congenial. Emilie played the piano after dinner, and the story of Christ's birth was read from the bible. Jorgen is someone whose company I would welcome, under other circumstances. He is an intelligent man with a keen knowledge of Norse history and the writings of that time. I wondered that such a man would not recognize William's streak. In a brief encounter, one might not notice anything, but in extended contact, William's mannerisms and choice of words are definitely off. He should repel people.

Reflecting upon this now, I believe the answer may lie in the strong religious adherence of these people. They are devout and so assured in their faith that they no longer see evil around every corner. God is complete and everywhere. They don't fear devils because God is always at hand.

Yet, that doesn't quite work. I do not give the compliment of intelligence freely. Jorgen is on a level with Merrick, and Merrick's brains are ahead of mine. As I sit here writing and thinking over last night, I remember that Jorgen never left his wife alone in the living room. If she was anywhere else, he let her be, but when she came in where William was, Jorgen was always between her and the demon. Andreas displayed the same behaviour too.

I have strayed off the topic again, I see. Or have I? Sometimes, seemingly non-purposeful rambling does lead to revelation.

Jorgen and I had our long chat after dinner. During it, a farmer named Ole Enoksen arrived. It was then the mood of the party changed.

Ole is the same generation as Tobias. The two men smoked their pipes and talked between themselves for some time, then Ole decided to tell the rest of us his news. He'd been listening to his radio just before leaving his house, and heard that the body of a man had been found at the base of the Skardal Fjord. The body was discovered on December twenty-second, however it was frozen in the ice. It took three days for the authorities to dig it out and find that this was not a death due to drowning.

As Ole spoke, Jorgen translated for me. It was at this part that he abruptly quieted, as did everyone in the room. It took Jorgen a few minutes to continue.

William understands Norwegian, and he knew what had been said before I did. When Jorgen resumed translating, my gaze went to William. The
demon favoured me with a smirk before composing his expression.

The man found was the one William had killed on the cliff. There was no mention of a stake, but the lack of blood in the body was remarked upon, as were the wounds on the man's neck and chest.

It was further reported that three other people were missing, another man and two women. The names were given, which I cannot recall because I was staring hard at William, so angry I was mute with it.

The women were known to Liv and Emilie. I think Liv started to cry, for she hadn't seen either woman for some time, but hadn't realized anything was wrong. Then Liv and Emilie went into the kitchen.

Andreas spoke first. He knew the man who was missing. He was a fisherman and a breeder of huskies. Jorgen asked if a search had been undertaken. Ole replied that the three had been missing for too long, and the searchers were ready to give up. Then Jorgen said he hoped the missing people were safe, merely stranded somewhere.

Ole and Tobias spoke together, rapidly, one off the other, as if they'd been waiting for this opportunity all evening. Why would the missing people be safe? Something bad had come to the island. They'd felt it. The native people had felt it too. They'd noticed it in their reindeer - the herds were spooked. The weather was wrong. It was too cold. There was too much mist. People were staying indoors. Children were not allowed out.

The men went on, their voices heavy and sober. The last of it came from Tobias. He fixed the date at four weeks ago, at a night, he said, when all the dogs on the island went mad and began to bark without stopping. Then he looked at me and asked, "When did you come here?"

This was the inevitable. This was what I had warned William of, that night on the cliff. And what was I to say? If anyone was to check, my name would be found on the ferry's passenger lists.

I replied, "I came on November twenty-seventh."

William cut in harshly. "Rupert and I came together. As odd as he is, I can vouch for him."

"Do you?" Ole asked. "Yet it is only Rupert who wears a cross."

"He wears it because he's afraid of the dark," William said. He put his arm around me, but I gave him such an angry look that he quickly removed it. "Me, I figure, if there's something bad out there, no little bit of metal is going to save me from it."

Jorgen spoke. "We have lost people before. Winter is treacherous. There are avalanches and terrible currents when the water begins to freeze. It is part of our life here."

Tobias and Ole quieted. The subject was not brought up again, and, when the women returned from the kitchen, they came with coffee and pie.

Later, after we left, William tried to fill the silence between us with comments about the evening, but I didn't answer him. Couldn't. I am not often so furious, when it would take only the slightest tap to send me over the edge. I wanted to be far out of hearing range, well past the farm and Andreas' store, because I was afraid that once I started, I wouldn't be able to stop.

We were thirty minutes from the cabin when William said, "They can't pin it on you, Rupert."

That was all it took. I removed my mitten and hit him so hard that I split his cheek from eye to chin.

"WHERE are the bodies? WHERE?" I screamed. (I know I was screaming as my throat is still raw now.)

William wiped blood off his face, but didn't reply. And that only made me angrier, until I was blind to everything but him.

"Two women!" I yelled. "Probably with children and husbands and people who love them!"

"What did you think I was doing every night? Jacking myself off like you?" William asked.

There was a bush between us. I don't know how, but I ripped it out of the snow and earth, and smashed it over and over in his face. He put up his arms to protect himself, but that was all he did. He stood there inert, until I couldn't raise my arms anymore and I was shaking and limp in my parka.

When he deemed it was over, he said, "Lancelot, why can't you bring some of that into bed with us?"

"Damn you," I said.

"You forget I'm evil."

"I don't forget. Where are the women's bodies?"

"In the ocean somewhere." William got to his feet. "Do you want to do that again? It's a turn-on, all right."

"I will kill you," I told him. "I will see the end of you. Someday."

"Lancelot, you do care after all," William said, and happily, which I don't comprehend.

"Feed off me," I said. "No one else."

"The problem with that is, you're not a lot of fun afterwards. Rupert, I've been doing those fucking reindeer like you wanted."

Which I doubt. There are too many people here.

Merrick used to say to me, "There will always be those you can't save."

But I need to hear him tell me. I can't convince myself. What I understand is, no matter what I do, it's not enough.

This is how it sits now. I am at this table, in a cabin not remote enough, with a demon who will not leave my side and people who are beginning to suspect. What do I do?

* * * * *

Rupert if you're out later get us more of that booze and some smokes

Spike

* * * * *

(December 31, 1992)

That bastard found my journal again, I see.

William and I have hiked up high in these hills. It is more correct to say that I went up and he followed me. I have found light, too much light for him. He is in a cave behind me, sleeping his vampyre sleep. I am in a comfortable depression of snow, it is two in the afternoon, and the air is so chill that breathing builds frost under my nose.

After my last note in my diary, I decided to send a message to Jorgen on the dog's collar. I would rather have gone to his farm, but the demon is always with me now.

The message was short, a request of Jorgen that he direct William and I along a route away from larger habitations, but periodically through areas in which I could purchase supplies. I hoped that he would understand what I didn't put in writing.

Andreas passed the message along, and sent the reply also on the dog's collar. I had not underestimated Jorgen. He sent a map on which a route was drawn, a compass, and a cross. This was on the twenty-eighth.

I loaded a pack with as much as I could carry and left the cabin. Three days travelling has brought us here, to the Gratta caves and above a glacier. From this height, I can see land on one side, and ocean on the other, both stretching into distant white.

Losar begins tomorrow. This is the first time in many years I will not be able to observe it. Last year, Glenna made dough Torma for our small shrine and we invited people to dinner. Other years I have celebrated either with Ursula or at the temple. This year I have come so far down that I will be in the company of my enemy.

What will nineteen ninety-three bring? Will I be alive by the end of it? And, if I am able to extricate myself from William, what will I do then? Report back to the Council? Return to the sort of life I had before? As I have disregarded Council directives, I doubt I will ever be called to serve another Slayer-in-waiting. Perhaps this is for the best. I have little to offer these poor girls.

Perhaps I might return to my old vocation. A dig started near Arcoordaby last summer and I know two of the men there. I would very much like to join them and see what progress they have made.

William woke just now and called for me. When I replied, "In a moment," he asked, "Writing again?" I am still too often startled by his perception. I have not held a pen in five days, and this frail light is still bright enough to render him blind. He is beginning to know me too well.

He was also perceptive enough not to ask why we were on the move. The only comment he made the first day was a query as to whether or not I
might attack him with another bush.

Last night after we made camp, he volunteered another story about Slayers, his version of an olive branch. It was a story I'd heard in brief from Merrick, and from the Council not at all. He also offered me half of his stash of cigarettes, so I allowed him into my tent.

By the map, we should be at Svirindaat by nightfall. Jorgen has written a warning about avalanches and twice while I have been sitting here, snow has trickled down from over the mouth of the cave. However, there is a mountain at Svirindaat, and why would one go to such a place if not to climb?

* * * * *

(January 3, 1993)

It is now confirmed that William feeds off the reindeer. I witnessed it yesterday. We found a herd and William targeted one of the smaller animals. I looked away, but the sounds were gruesome, and I went off to find a place to camp.

He arrived still in his frenzy and smeared with blood as if he had rolled in the animal's carcass after feeding. I had set up my small stove and was warming myself by it, and he came so near he singed his spattered arms, filling the tent with a vile odor. When I pushed him away, he tore off his clothes, lay down on my sleeping bag, messing it, and sucked his fangs in and out. The noise of that was almost as bad as the earlier one, and it put me off eating my dinner.

"Rupert," he said at last, "why do you read so damn much? Especially those type of books."

I had been reading a small copy of the New Testament. It frustrated him when I read books he was unable to touch without pain, and he complained that the feel of them lingered on my hands afterwards.

"These are all I have in my pack," I said. "It is not as though we are near a library."

"It doesn't look like we ever will be," he said. "If there is such a place as the back ass of the world, you're taking us to it. When the thaw comes, we should go to Spain. I have mates there."

"I'm sure I would enjoy that," I said cynically.

"Let me sire you and you won't have to worry. Being a Watcher doesn't suit you. You may as well try the other."

I ignored that. We'd had this conversation too many times already.

"What has it given you? You don't have to worry about coming to my side. It doesn't hurt."

"William, I've seen it. You can't tell me those are screams of joy."
 
"Hunger, and all you have to do to make it better is scratch your hungry spot." William crawled behind me. His teeth scraped along my shoulder. "Where are we going tomorrow?"

"You can see the map yourself," I replied, trying not to react to the stinging of his saliva in the cuts he was making in my skin.

"Another bloody fjord! Another bloody mountain! Are we on a quest for the Holy Grail, Rupert, because it's already been found."

He continued biting my neck through his rant. When he started sucking at my blood, I wondered if it was possible to actually sink any lower than this.

Blood is a significant element in William's sexual play. He requires the sight of it to achieve arousal. Do all vampyre engage in this particular bloodlust? They go mad when they feed, but there appears to be madness in nearly every aspect of William's existence. Is this true of all vampyre? If so, they are more complex than the Council ever told me.

As for myself, I have spent these last days moving between the rational and the irrational. Having nothing on which to fasten outside of William and my own thoughts, I feel I am changing. At times, (such as this moment now as I write), I can catalogue my observations scientifically and objectively. At other times, (which are more and more frequent), I feel half-mad myself. William is constant, wretched temptation. To take his offer, to leave all of this…

No. I have to keep in mind that he is a murderer. He is Glenna's murderer, and will likely be mine. He is horror and the stench of horror. He carries the smell of contamination and death.

Yet, all of his acts have fallen away from him. He carries no burdens. Sometimes it seems as though the only place free of grief is the place where he walks.

I came close last night, stopping when he offered his blood, and then just barely. William quite enjoyed my insanity. I am frightened to admit, I did too.

Enough.

We have circled the base of this mountain for too long. It is time to go up. There are no answers up above. This is just another mountain, but I cannot stay down here any longer.

* * * * *

(January 7, 1993)

I am not a mountain climber. My lungs can hardly grasp this scant air. These relentless dark clouds pound against my ears, and this sky presses on top of my head. My eyes are rimy, or is it this damn mist?

The dormant ocean flashes as though currents still agitate under the ice. This wall of rock which we have just climbed looks too steep, yet we have come up it somehow. For a while, my world reduced to small footholds and ledges.

The mountain continues rising above me, I believe. I can't see. We have come far enough, though. Here is what I have been looking for, in a heavy weight of snow around our camp.

As I sit here, William sleeps curled around my hips. He exhausts quickly, or I am becoming more efficient at weakening him. I know what it takes to incite him and keep him on the edge until he offers me anything for relief. He tried to do the same to me, but my crisis takes longer. The madness never fully engulfs me, though I feel my control slipping. At this moment, with the feel of him against me, I want to wake him up.

NO, Rupert.

I send him into sleep to find time away from it. But, dear goddess, he moves against me.

These shadows around us come nearer if I look away. I hear something.  A voice? Low, harsh, almost beyond my hearing. I can't make it out.

I have one chance left, one action left in my power. It won't take much to provoke that snow above us. I have to do it soon. I am becoming him.

Something I have just noticed. We are up so high that the blood on my hands froze before it had a chance to congeal. Press it to my face and it thaws enough to run.

The smell of it has stirred William.

* * * * *

(January 9, 1993)

I can't stop shaking. My Goddess. My God. I didn't die. Everything came down, I was in the wrong place, it went past me.

It took William, yet not me.

What do I do? Go down? Stay here?

I can't move.

I must start at the beginning. Where is the beginning? Glenna's death? No, it was before.

Dear Ursula, my sister, your demon has been buried under a mountain.  William is dead.

I tried to look back for the last words I wrote, but my fingers can't turn the pages. When did I write last? What did I write? I was half-mad.

I remember William waking. He smelled the blood on my hands and smiled. He opened a vein on his wrist and, Urusla, I drank. His blood gave ecstasy and pain.

Then he wanted to drink off me and I let him. "Now, Rupert, now," he kept saying, for he was going to turn me and he would not stop this time. I could see, at an angle over his head, the mountain, the snow, a thousand thousand tons of snow, balanced on a thread.

Splayed against him, dim with the taste of death in my mouth, I had to wait until he was blind with the frenzy. Then I spoke what I thought would be my last words, my final spell, short, quick, but with the drive of an axe behind it. A spell to snap the string.

I saw a dribble of snow, and then there was a moment when the mountain quivered. In the anticipation, even the wind stilled. William looked up, bewildered at the quiet, looked up higher, behind him, and saw the first movement which looked like a stream beginning.

"Rupert?" he asked.

The stream abruptly became a flood. He tried to run, but the snow was all at once up to his waist, and then up to his neck.

The mountain collapsed. That doesn't describe it. Thunder does not explode like this. A hurricane would have been bowled under like a piece of tinsel. It was as if the mountain broke apart.

I screamed and could not hear myself. A chunk of ice the size of a telephone booth sideswiped me, pushing me and the tent over a ledge, and then under it while a tidal wave vented overtop. Boulders and entire trees were carried like tinkertoys in a whirlpool. The earth erupted as if a hellmouth was being born. The furor went on and on.

My ears deafened and it took me some time to realize when it was over. I pushed up through the small gap I had left, and crawled out into the air.

A divot lay in the mountain like a boat canal when the water is out. At the bottom was a mound the size of a hill. What I first perceived to be bushes were actually the tops of trees.

I looked around carefully, but there was no sign of William. I couldn't believe it at first. After all this time. Goddess, he's dead at last!

But I'm sitting here in this ice and snow and debris, and I don't know what to do. I thought we would both die. For some reason, I am spared, but spared for what? And for how long? I can feel his blood in me, like a sickness creeping under my skin. Have I been spared death under the avalanche, only to die on top of it? Is there some kind of depraved quota for this island, that there must now be one demon on it, and I am to be it?

Right now I am doing the only thing I can do. I can hardly hold this pen. I have to keep switching hands. But at least I am doing something.

I had to stop just then, for the oddest event has just happened. The Northern Lights have begun to play across the sky. An avalanche and now these swirling colours, in the space of an hour. And they're beautiful.

I feel more settled now. At least, I have stopped shaking. I went through what pitched under the ledge with me, but the map was not there. If I remember it correctly, there is a village a little east of here. Hopefully, someone will have a short wave radio.

* * * * *

(January 17, 1993)

I am in a warm house. The smell of custard cooking on the stove surrounds me. It has been so long since I have felt truly warm. I can bend my fingers without pain, and sit here without shivering.

The owner of this house is able to rent me a cabin just down the way, and there I will stay until the icebreakers come. It seems I am to be granted a space of time completely to myself. I can't imagine anything more welcome right now.

I also need the time to figure out what on earth I am going to say to the prats on the Council, because William lives.

I discovered it when I was descending the mountain after the avalanche. I was moving over a patch of snow higher than the rest, and sensed his presence. He was buried, rather deeply for he'd been taken by the initial wave of snow and it looked as if half the mountain had followed it.

He sensed me as well, the knowledge exchanged by the bond of shared blood between us. I fell down onto my knees, appalled and furious, and found myself yelling at the sky, "What does it take? A goddamn mountain isn't enough?"

Then I rose and began jumping on the snow, a pathetic and farcical attempt to pack it down on him, stopping only when I sensed his amusement.

I kicked a clod off the top and told him, "Do the rest yourself!" Not that he could hear me, but likely he got the message.

Vampyre do not breathe. This is basic information. However my plan had not been to suffocate him. I'd hoped the force of the avalanche would kill him. Either that, or bury him so far down he would starve. It appears that won't happen. Vampyre can also hibernate. And this is another talent of theirs that no one bothered to mention when I was in training. Stupid prats.

William was buried once before, and whether he is under six feet of earth or six hundred feet of snow makes no difference to him. When the spring thaw comes and the ice melts off, he will make his way to the surface. Until then, he has decided to sleep.

I periodically walk back to check on him, and will continue to do so, and I intend to be there when he comes up. What will happen beyond
that, I have no idea.

END