Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chapter 40: Elise Trusts Neither Hearing Nor Belief

Tues, November 17, 2074 11:24 pm: Pleasantview General Hospital- Tolsbury, Pleasantview


Some distant part of Elise's mind had heard the door close with a quiet snap, jarring her awake. She pushed herself up on quaking arms.

Without looking, she could feel Kvornan bearing down on her from across the room. To be near him in the real world was to feel the pressure of being drawn into a black hole. The heels of his boots echoed as they hit the linoleum tile. The nearer he came, the less substantial she felt. It was as though he were peeling away at her layer by layer, seeking her core. And she was afraid to look up.


He stopped just shy of the couch. The toes of their shoes were touching. The pressure had lifted. He was so close that Elise was no longer certain of where he ended and she began. He was large enough to obscure the whole world. Her gaze trailed upwards from the distressed denim of his pant legs to the hard, thin line of his pressed lips. His face was impassive but Elise could feel his nervousness as though it were her own. He had not meant to wake her. He was only here to check on Ermengarde. Elise smiled at him warmly, hoping that the small gesture would make him feel more at ease.

"I knew you would come," she said quietly. His eyes flickered between her and the space on the couch beside her. It was only then that she noticed the uncanny, almost incandescent glow of his irises. They were like tiny stars. Elise scooted over to make room for him on the couch. Silently, he sat down. He was so graceful and still that it made her flesh crawl. He smirked miserably and slouched in his seat.


"She cringes," he said absently. "You know, the first unaided steps you ever made were towards me. You struggled with your poor father until he let you go and you took off just like you had been born running. Now you only wish to run away."

"That's not true," Elise squeaked. Kvornan raised an eyebrow.

"Which part?" Elise rubbed her palms on her thighs, flattening her skirt.

"That last part. As it just so happens, I am very happy to see you."

"Well if you wish to continue seeing me, you'll have to resign yourself to whispering. It's after visiting hours and I would be hard pressed to explain my presence to an orderly," he said, crossing his legs at the ankles. Elise scooted a little closer to him on the couch, desperate to feel their shoes touching again. She noticed that the soles of his boots were caked with mud and she wondered why it was that someone like him would bother to tread the same ground that ordinary people did.


"What would you say if someone walked in here right now," she asked, daring to push the side of her foot against his.

"Me? I'd say that this was your idea."

"That wouldn't save you."

"No, probably not." Kvornan reached forward and touched the sheer fabric of her sleeve, thinking it to be neither weather nor age appropriate. Then he laid his head against the wall and exhaled. "How is Ermengarde," he asked. Elise bit her lower lip and glanced over at her sister.


Ermengarde's back was to them. Her breathing was slow and heavy, punctuated by an occasional tiny sigh that came and went like the lantern beam from a lighthouse. She was exactly the same as she had been hours before and Elise feared, exactly the same as she would be for hours to come. Elise bit her tongue and dug her fingernails into her palms, trying to push away the thought that this was exactly the way things had begun with her mother.


"It's not." Kvornan spoke loud enough to tear her away from her thoughts. She turned her head towards him, having momentarily forgotten that he was there.

"It's not what," she asked.

"It's not like what happened to your mother. I refuse to accept that."


Elise shook her head slowly, not quite certain of what she was disagreeing with. Evidently, he could hear her thoughts more clearly than she could hear his. And what was in some ways more puzzling, he had known her parents. Elise allowed her eyes to roam over him for a moment as though the answers to all of her questions were hidden somewhere on his person. He was staring at Ermengarde. The curiously straight posture that he had attempted to correct by slouching had gradually returned. She remembered suddenly that he had told her that he was old. But he still looked to be twenty-five, maybe thirty. He turned to her and frowned.


"I'm a vampire, Elise." Her mouth dropped open. She felt as though the wind had been knocked out of her.

"You're what?" She had heard him. She had believed him. But she trusted neither her hearing nor her sense of belief.

"I'm a vampire," he repeated patiently. "I will never grow old or get sick. I feed on other people to stay alive."


"There's no such thing as that."

"Just as there is no such thing as telekinesis or astral projection or the afterlife?" Elise covered her eyes with one hand. She was shivering though something told her that none of this information had fully sunk in.

"So you kill people." She whispered now less out of necessity and more from a desire to keep her voice from trembling.

"Well... I have killed people. But not as a general practice and not always intentionally."

"Can I see your..." Elise pointed to her mouth as her voice trailed off.


Kvornan opened wide. Elise jumped back as some primeval fear of monsters took hold. She grabbed the armrest with her right hand and the backrest with her left, ready to propel her entire body with her arms. He closed his mouth. Elise attempted to quiet the ringing in her ears by telling herself that this was only Kvornan. She let go of the sofa and slid back into the seat properly, feeling her distress ricochet between the two of them. Kvornan looked into his lap.


"I'm sorry," Elise murmured.

"Don't be. In fact, I should probably get going."

"Sheut?" Kvornan and Elise simultaneously froze. The tiny voice that wafted through the air had belonged to neither of them. Elise turned her eyes towards her sister.


Ermengarde appeared to still be asleep though her mouth was cracked just slightly.

"Varilim, Sheut." There was now no doubt that it had been Ermengarde. Kvornan squeezed Elise's hand in a gesture that Elise took to mean, "stay put". He then approached Ermengarde's bedside. Kneeling before her, he cleared his throat.


"Sirim," he whispered.

"Mai ur-bathil pelle dyne." Ermengarde's voice was high pitched and ethereal. It was not at all her own.

"What is she saying," Elise asked, fretfully pulling at the hem of her skirt. Kvornan raised a hand to silence her.

"Bieir ken-balthil," he said. Ermengarde's eyes cracked open. She pulled her head up from the pillow.


"Nasht mit ken-Ib h'il meyhora xenish." This last sentence came as something of a gurgle.

"Xenish," he choked. Ermengarde did not reply. Her eyelids closed and she settled back onto the bed. "Xenish?"He spoke louder but by that time, Ermengarde was fast asleep. Kvornan buried his face in the bed sheets. Elise was assaulted by a powerful sense of panic and relief, both of which she knew belonged to Kvornan. She stood and Kvornan followed suit. He gave her a watery smile.


"Well," he said. "I guess it's good news, in the end. Ermengarde will be awake by dawn. She's what we call 'ollorru'. It means, 'permeable'. She's going to need instruction on how to control it so she doesn't have another one of these episodes. But honestly, she's fine."

"Did she tell you that she would be awake soon?"

"No. That I know from experience." Kvornan crossed the room towards Elise. He took her hands in his and she felt something like a static shock. She breathed easily, an enormous weight having been delivered from her shoulders. Ermengarde was going to wake-up soon. Kvornan kissed her on the forehead.


"I'm leaving now. Be good for your brother. I love you. We'll see each other again soon," he said. Elise smiled.

"If you love me so much then why don't you stay?" Kvornan stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers. His face was despondent. Elise had hit a nerve.

"It is precisely because I love you that I don't stay," he said softly.


  1. You leave me with a big question mark there...
    I have no idea what Kvorna and Ermengarde is talking about and I'm wondering what kind of ability she possess and what is Kvornan not telling Elise? Sheesh I'm babbling nonsense here. Happy new year anyway.

  2. Don't worry, Kvornan will explain all of that very soon. He's still conflicted about how much he should let on with Elise. But there is someone that he confides everything to. And he will be making a visit to that person shortly.

    And Happy New Year, Karen!

  3. Okay, first I can't believe I missed this update! I turned off the computer at 3:05 this morning(yes, I know the exact time!!) WHY?!!!!

    Second, OMG, OMG!!!! This was an awesome update! Of course now I'm going to have to go scroll through some other chapters to try and answer some of the questions spinning through my head!

    I love that Ermengarde is going to wake up but...what was she saying?!!! I can't wait for the next update!

    Love the new banner btw!!

    Happy New Year!!

  4. lol, Phoenix! You JUST missed the update! I wasn't expecting anyone to be around when I posted this chapter, anyway.

    Kvornan has a lot of 'splain'n to do but right now, he's afraid of throwing too much, too fast in Elise's direction. He is going to mull this over with someone soon. Not in the next chapter but in the one after (42).

    And Ermengarde was of course speaking Ashkay, the language that the Fae speak (though it is also the language of all other supernatural beings and some regular smegular humans from Veronaville). Ashkay is Kvornan's first language and the language that he speaks with Tara. Tara's English is a wee bit sketchy by the way. She is a miserable student and doesn't typically interact with people who don't speak Ashkay. It's going to be fun writing dialogue for her when she finally meets the Mindelsohns.

    I'm glad you liked the update! I wasn't thrilled with this one but it had to happen for several reasons.

    Happy New Year, Phoenix!!!

  5. I love the Ashkay language! I went back to Kvornan and Ermengarde's conversation and tried saying it out loud... it sounds soooo cool!

    What happened to the Mindelsohns' mom? Or will that be revealed later?

    Oh God, it's 3:20 already! I promised myself I'd get my next post up before 2009! *panics*

    Oh, and Kvornan rocks that turtleneck. I'm sure that man rocks a lot of things :p

  6. Ha! I have a whole set of those turtlenecks. I think I'll stick Troy in one too. I love that outfit and I'm not quite sure why.

    Woohoo! Naroni update! I can has some Florian now.

    The only clue that we've had so far about Agatha Mindelsohn's death came from Chapter 8, when Vince said the following:

    "Well, none of the doctors could really tell us what was wrong with her. But it was a brain aneurysm that finally..."

    I think I also implied somewhere that she had been sick for some time.

    I've based the Ashkay grammar mainly on English and French (since those are the only languages I speak) and included a number of rules that I made up as I went along. Also, there are some words that come directly from Latin and ancient Egyptian. (Whether those words are Coptic or Demotic, don't ask me! I don't know if any of you are recreational Egyptologists.) My main goal as far as word sounds were concerned was for the language to sound old and literary.

  7. I liked this chapter, although I got distracted at a key moment by a large stuffed giraffe. I love that giraffe! Anyway. Good update. And interesting about the language. How much of it have you made up?

  8. hehe Yah know, I kept staring at that thing too. I wanted to go with that Maxis teddy bear but it wouldn't sit on my OMSP for some reason.

    I've only worked on the language as needed so far. Pronoun usage, conjunctions, present tense of certain basic irregular verbs (to have, to go, to be), also the future tense of "to be". Then there is a verb that we don't have in English-"to come here", "to be here". And then there are one or two $5 vocabulary words like "xenish".

  9. Well, that's actually quite a lot! Constructing your own language is no easy task!

  10. Oh most definitely. But if I were a student learning Ashkay, then I would be maybe at the level of someone who has been studying for a week or two.

    That reminds me, I need to do colors and numbers at some point.

    I might end up posting a verb chart on BBL for my own reference and for any of youze guys who might want to get an idea of how the language works.

  11. Count me in as one of thoze guys!

  12. Okie dokie. I think I'll get 'er done once I finish Chapter 41. I've been procrastinating hardcore on 41. But if you could only see the pictures for 42, you would know why I've been so distracted!

  13. Ooooooh... Chapter 42... now I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve!

  14. I'm shooting for tomorrow to unleash 41. Then you can at least see the preview for 42.

  15. Oh good! Then I can stop stalking this blog!!:P

    And I'd be one those people that would want to take a look at the language!

    Youze guys! LOL! That made me miss NYC!!

  16. Hmm I haven't been to NYC since *gulp* my 21st birthday. And I have friends up there that I've been threatening to visit for quite some time now.

    Hehehe Phoenix you're following this blog, you don't have to stalk it! Just check your Blogger dashboard and all will be revealed. *does that magical rainbow thing that Spongebob does with his hands*

  17. Yep, that's about the same time I've been! Maybe 22 then I moved! *sigh* I gotta get back there when I visit my sis in Jersey!

    Haha! I just saw that motion in my head and also hear: "Use your IMAGINATION." as he did the Spongebob hand motion thing! Awesome!

    Yeah, I know I follow it but sometimes my blogger acts stupid and doesn't update! Grrr!

  18. hehe Is it wrong that that show cracks me up?

    All hail the magic conch!