While it has been an effort to sort through what actually happened, I have finally managed to piece together another segment of what happened during that unaccounted for stretch of time I spent with The Guardian in his prison. As the memories come back to me and as I deal with the consequences of the experience as best I can, I will share the results with you, as I promised him I would. Thank you for being patient.
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Part 3 A Demon’s Tale
The Guardian sat silently for a time, long enough for me to be tempted to look over at him, or to try and prompt the conversation. But at last he took a deep breath – no doubt for my benefit and spoke. “I won’t start at the beginning. While I may have plenty of time, you certainly do not.” The rich warmth of his chuckle made me want to scoot my chair closer to his in hopes that he might touch me. That I craved his touch made me want to scream for Talia to pull me back to the safety of the waking world. If he were aware of my feelings, he didn’t show it, but continued. “My tale is a long and often tedious one, much of it spent bound or imprisoned by meddling shamans or priests or witches, who invariably mistook my nature for evil. Those in power, after all, have need of the threat of evil if they are to maintain control. I have, more than once, provided them with the necessary excuse for the disturbing and culturally unacceptable behavior of their subjects. Would that they had only understood me better rather than attempted to use me to promote their own agendas. But then that, I suppose, is the nature of human beings.”
“And yet you let your behavior prove them right.” Damn, I have a big mouth, but you see, I already knew a good deal of his story, after all, and I wasn’t about to let him white wash it.
He only shrugged. “Do you consider a lion evil for killing a gazelle, a hawk for taking a rabbit? I am, to the best of my knowledge, as much a part of the natural order as they are. That humans chose to interact with me to begin with is less so, I would postulate. That is, unless they were drawn to me from the beginning by the very nature of who I am.” He raised a negating hand as though batting away a fly. “We’re wasting time arguing my morality when it’s such a human term. I’ve not brought you here for that purpose.”
With a sudden chill, I realized, he had indeed brought me here as surely as if I had been one of the poor souls he had possessed. Susan had allowed it. I quickly reminded myself. Talia had made it possible. But they all owed him a life — several lives, in fact. Before I could contemplate my place in his plan, he continued.
“I cannot impart to you what it’s like to be bound for an age with only my own longings and urges for company. You’re far too finite to understand how maddening such imprisonment is for one who desires nothing so much as flesh and the pleasures and pains it brings. Oh yes, I would gladly take pain to the agony of languishing in uncontained eternity with nothing to hold me to myself and no way of touching the passing of everything around me.”
“But that’s not how it is for you now, surely. I know you interact with the world, at least with Susan and Michael and the other consortium members. Some of them anyway.”
For a moment he was silent, and then he sighed. “It’s true that Susan has become a gentle jailor, kind and considerate of my needs. And yet surely you must understand that never in my long existence have I been incarcerated in a prison so complete, so without any hope of escape.”
“Would you?” I asked, “escape if you could?”
This time the silence was so complete that I thought he had left me. I turned partially toward him startled by the fact that he truly had no face. He appeared much like an unfinished painting of a man overlaid on a starless night. And from that abyss of darkness was a sense of ravenous hunger and desire like nothing I had ever felt. I was taken completely aback that it was even possible for so much hunger and need to fit into one female vampire, no matter how powerful. How in the world could Susan contain him?
Suddenly there was a roar of wind across the fells and, in an instant that hunger was so close to me that I felt it had already devoured me. But even before I could do more than draw breath to cry out, the feeling vanished and he again sat next to me in profile. “I would ask you once more, please don’t look directly at me. I am … unfinished.”
I found myself gripping the chair arms as though I feared being tossed out. Honestly if the chair didn’t toss me out, I ran the risk of dumping myself out onto the ground, I was shaking so badly.
“I am sorry,” he said. “Susan tells me that my impulse control could use a little work.”
My relieved laughter had a hysterical edge to it, then I bit my lip to make myself shut up, and looked the other way.
“You asked me if I would escape if I could.” He continued as though nothing had happened. “In truth I don’t know. Every heart longs to be free… but then I don’t have a heart.” His words drifted away and somewhere deep in the garden an owl trilled, an owl who could no more have been there than the garden itself. “Perhaps residing this close to Susan’s heart, is the closest I shall ever be to having one of my own.” There was another brief pause, and in that instant, I
wondered if the sadness I heard in his voice was only me anthropomorphizing. He continued.
“However when I have been able, when I am free enough to do so, I plan, and I scheme, and I choose wisely. I shall tell you, at least in part, the culmination of such plans, the journey that has led me here to this new prison, so different than any that have ever contained me. Of course you know some of my story, in fact you’ve written it down. But you’ve told it through Susan’s eyes and, while I would never presume to discredit her human point of view, I do wish to give voice to how it was for me, how I experienced those events which led to my strange imprisonment.”