Cassandra's Curse Ch. 04bysimply_cyn©
Nigel seemed all sorts of excited as he entered the main room where he'd set Cass to eat after letting her sleep for a long time on his couch. He plopped a big giant thick book on the table in front of her. "Lerajie." He pointed to the page it was turned to.
Cass lifted her gaze questioningly, her fork frozen mid-air as he said the name. "Huh?' she said quizzically but then remembered ... he meant Raj. Lowering her fork and gaze simultaneously, she looked over the opened page curiously.
Nigel pointed at those "related" to Lerajie, each in turn, yabbering about this and that. It was a chronology of vampire lines. Then he stopped on Lerajie again. "Lerajie comes from a direct line from Lucifer himself. He's many, many generations along the line ... but he comes from it all the same. This isn't any normal vampire we're dealing with here."
Cassandra followed along with his finger as it pointed out things, glancing up at him as he spoke and then furrowed her eyebrows some at his proclamation. "What do you mean? None of them are normal."
Nigel chuckled and sat beside her, flipping back a few pages to scan the writings then he spoke again. "The Lucifer line is what is considered the 'pure' or 'untainted' line. In other words, those that come from that line may have direct contact with the power Lucifer beholds ... or something along that line."
Cassandra read along with him, stabbing her fork every once in a while at the food on her plate as she let her mind wander to Raj. Maybe that's what she had felt that was different about him. She just didn't know. "Okay, so is this particularly bad or what?"
"I don't know," he said. "You said you felt something about him. What exactly did you feel?"
Cass sighed gently, pushing at the food with her fork before glancing at Nigel. "I have no clue ... this is going to sound weird, I know it is. But I felt something ... good ... about him."
Nigel's brows arched curiously. "Good?" He blinked a bit then looked at the book. "I can't imagine one of Lucifer's line being 'good'."
She shrugged some, knowing how off the wall it sounded but she remembered back to the night they fought and the way that he had stood his ground and wanted to talk to her. "There's something there, Nigel ... I can't put my finger on it, despite his line, as you call it."
"You need to meet him again. Track him ... see what he's up to. You said there was another ... before Lerajie came around. Did you happen to catch a name?"
She thought for a long moment, clearly seeing him in her mind's eye. "I don't think so, no ... but he had this stark white hair pulled back in a braid. Raj said something about them going back some but not in a good way."
Nigel looked back at the book and frowned a bit. He couldn't do much without a name but he'd look into it. He had more than just this book. If they'd gone back, there was probably information about it. He had his work set out for him. "Did you get plenty of rest?"
Cassandra nodded, even though she was lying. She hadn't slept much. Her thoughts were pervaded with this vampire, Raj. "Yeah, it was good, why?"
"No reason," he responded with a smile. "Just looking after you is all. Have to have my slayer in tip top shape."
Cass smiled at him. He was thoughtful. She had to give him that. She was spending more and more time at his place and this library than she was at her own home though honestly, she missed it. She wanted a night to curl up in front of her fireplace again. "It's a lot more work than I originally thought," she admitted, looking at him with a smile
"Yes ... it gets that way. It's a way of life, not just a job." He flipped through a few more pages in the chronology. "I want you to meet Lerajie again somehow."
Cassandra stabbed her salad again, taking a bite before saying, "How am I supposed to do that? I don't even know where he is."
"Well, he has me interested. It could all just be a trap. Tread carefully ... but I want to see what he's all about. I'm not sure how you can meet him. Leave a note someplace maybe?" he grinned teasingly and glanced sideways at her.
Cassandra laughed and then her face suddenly froze. It suddenly came to her. She had seen him once before. That night ... outside of her apartment building; it was him.
It had been several weeks since Raj had seen the Slayer last. The rumor mills were all sorts of alive with things to say about the girl; she was evil, she was bad, she had to die. Raj had never paid much attention to the rumors. He just tried to keep track of where she prowled and what exactly she hunted but she seemed random. She'd killed one known as Talon ... a semi-important figure. That had sparked all kinds of rumors and stories. One could never tell the truth from the story. Raj had given up. That's why he kept to himself; no connections, nobody to worry about except himself.
He sat in a swing in the middle of a deserted park. Lights from the tennis courts flooded the small playground. The swing squeaked almost irritatingly as he swung back and forth absently, but it was rhythmic and rather soothing. It allowed him to just sit still awhile and not think about anything.
Cassandra had been staying busy in the dark world. She had never realized just how much evil there was out there and it just seemed to keep popping up along the way. Her training was going along at a more accelerated rate than she had ever imagined. Nigel had taught her how to tap into her supernatural type powers and it was overwhelming.
She was starting to develop a sixth sense when it came to slaying and who to go after first. But she knew the more she worked, the more good she did, the more her own life was in jeopardy. She couldn't let her guard down.
Maybe that's why she had not sought out Raj as Nigel had wanted her to do. She didn't want to let her guard down ... And something inside of her said that that was exactly what she tended to do around him. And she didn't understand why. It perplexed Nigel and part of it pissed him off as well ... she could just tell.
She took a deep breath, moving into the park. It was late or rather, early in the morning and she knew that this was the time of night that trouble was usually lurking. Sheesh, she was keeping some really strange hours ...
Raj's head was leaned back against one of the chains as the cool air caressed his face, swinging back and forth in the creaky swing. His eyes were closed and he was enjoying his alone time. This was when he could enjoy himself the most. He'd fed himself and now he could just be himself, letting himself go a little bit.
Cassandra had developed the habit of moving about almost unnoticed, as if she could just suddenly "appear" and as she moved into the park, she froze somewhat, hearing the tell-tale creak of the swings moving, her head swiveling over towards the sound as she moved into the shadows. Someone or something out this late could only mean one thing and she felt herself stiffen some as her eyes narrowed some as she moved along the tree line and in the shadows silently closer to the swings.
Raj was lost in his thoughts. He was back in his beloved homelands; the sun was up and he could hear the sounds of children playing in the courtyard. The abby dually served as a worship place and an orphanage. The war and famine had taken its toll on the people and children and women had been left behind.
He liked these memories. They were so entirely long ago but they seemed like yesterday, as did everything else in his head. The curse of the immortal ... not only cursed to walk the earth for eternity, but to remember every last thing that happens in that eternity.
The closer that Cassie got, she could make out the figure sitting on the swings and he was alone but his back was to her so she wasn't sure who it was. But she couldn't feel the foreboding that usually came along with those that she encountered. She stiffened for a moment, hoping it wasn't Raj. She really didn't want to confront him ... and she didn't want to let down her guard either.
Taking a deep breath, she moved out of the shadows of the trees quickly, almost like a blur until she was leaning against the playground equipment with a sort of self-confidant stance even as she saw that it was, indeed, Raj. "So ... we meet again," she said in a half drawl, seeing him startle to suddenly find her so close to him.
Raj seemed to jump out of his skin and he leapt to his feet, the swing flying out of control to smack him right in the thigh. His eyes snapped to Cassie and he glared irritatingly at her, his tone one of half anger, half dread, but it wasn't fearful. "What the hell are you doing here?"
She watched him, half amused that she found him so off guard, the other irritated that she had stumbled across him and she glared at him even as she continued to lean somewhat casually against the equipment even though she made a mental note as far as how far he was away and where her weapons were. "I was going to ask you the same question," she snapped back at him.
He rolled his eyes and reached to still the swing whose squeak was now annoying him. "Reminiscing, if that'll make you feel better," he snorted in irritation and sat back down in the swing, never taking his eyes off her
She could feel her eyebrows furrow at that statement. She hadn't expected that from him and suddenly found herself speechless for a moment as she watched him sit back down. Why didn't she have the same urge with him to drive a stake through his heart? And why didn't he come at her like all the rest of them did?
"Why would it make me feel better?" she snapped, feeling somewhat irritated that she felt so confused around him. And why in the hell did Nigel want her to meet up with him again?
"And here I was expecting some smart comeback from the all mighty slayer that seems to have struck fear into the heart of evil. Instead she asks why she should feel better."
He stopped for a moment, regarding her. "Here, let me help you a bit more." His eyes seemed to lighten a bit as he brought the good memories to life all over again, almost as if there was a person beneath all the dark. "I was remembering little orphan children I used to take care of. Many of them were my friends."
Cassie stiffened some at his words. They were so mocking and they angered her for a reason she couldn't explain. She pushed away from the playground equipment like she would attack him for toying with her but then was struck still by his following words, watching the way the emotions changed over his face as he spoke. It suddenly dawned on her. Maybe he knew why Nigel would want her to meet up with him.
"What's your story?" she suddenly blurted out. "You come from the darkest line of vampires yet you speak as if you have a heart. Why would my Watcher want me to meet up with you again instead of murder you for the villainous, blood-sucker you most obviously are?"
He grinned. "Nigel wanted you to track me down, huh? Maybe he's finally accepted it." he shrugged a bit and pushed at the ground with his feet to swing again slowly. He knew she was trying to insult him, but he'd long ago grown relatively numb to the adjectives used to describe him and his kind.
"I really have no story. I was sent to help a Slayer. In truth, I've helped many of your predecessors. I must say none were as old as you are. The Watcher's Council getting slack in their weeding?"
Cassandra stiffened some as his words sink in. "I'd say they are finally realizing that someone with more maturity can kick asses more efficiently," she practically spat out at him, telling herself to remain calm and not le t him get under her skin. She had to stay in control, especially around him.
She simply folded her arms in front of her, took a deep breath and addressed the other comment he had made. "What do you mean 'finally' accepted it'? And are you trying to say that you were sent to help ME?" She snorted softly. "I don't need any help especially from your sort. YOU are what I'm here to destroy."
Raj opened his arms in offer. "Kill me then, Slayer. Nothing's stopping you."
Seeing her not move immediately he put his hands back on the chains and continued to swing back and forth slowly. "Nigel and I go way back. He knows who I am although he probably knows me by a name other than the one in the little books he keeps. But ... he knows who I am."
He looked at her meaningfully. "I know this may be hard for you to understand. You might think I've lost it, which I've been accused of before. He ..." and pointing up toward the sky continued, "One of his little messengers sent me. As you've noticed, I don't exactly fit into the mold of what you'd expect of my kind. Look in my eyes and you'll see life."
She just stepped back a moment, shocked at his words. Nigel knew him?? She blinked for a moment and raised her fingers to her temples. Why hadn't he said anything and what did he mean by HE sent him ... it was all too confusing.
She just shook her head some and looked at him. "I ... I don't understand."
"No, you wouldn't understand ... which is alright. You don't have to."
Raj still kept a keen eye on every move she made. He wasn't at a point he could trust her. She could just as easily shove a stake through his heart as stand there and listen.
There was that part of her that felt betrayed. Nigel hadn't been completely honest with her and here she was risking death on a nightly basis to do what he had asked of her to do and she felt like she was losing a part of herself in this good vs. evil battle. There were times that she wasn't sure which one she was: good or evil.
She took a deep breath and moved to sit in one of the empty swings, even though she kept an eye on the vampire not just a few feet away from her. She didn't trust him at all. Hell, at this point, she didn't know who to trust. Instead, she dug the heels of her boots into the sand and just simply pushed.
'Good,' he thought. She hadn't decided to just launch herself at him and try to kill him. At least she had a head on her shoulders.
Quietly he spoke, almost like telling a story. "A long, long time ago, I was pinned beneath a Slayer's wrath. She was a millisecond away from removing me entirely from the earth never to be heard from again. My blood brother stopped her, nearly killed her ... something came over me and I yelled at him to stop."
Cass glanced over at him as he spoke, her mind a whirling tornado of confusion. None of it made any sense. Perhaps he could shed some light on it ...
"It was the first time I had ever spoken up against a kill. Time froze. I was approached by a wiccan or an angel or whoever she was and I was told my times would be different from henceforth. Well, they were ... I could no longer stand the taste of human blood. The smell of it makes me recoil."
Cassandra's eyebrows furrowed as she watched him, listening to his story. This was ridiculous but then again, this whole way of life seemed so surreal at times. "Your blood brother? Who?"
He shook his head "I can't tell you that. Not yet. You'll figure it out soon enough if you hang around. You're a smart girl." He pushed into the sand again to gain a bit of height with the swing. It really was rather refreshing to have the cool air caressing his face.
"It wasn't long before they figured out I was different. I no longer joined hunting escapades. I never went out with anybody else anymore. I was shunned and humiliated ... forced to walk the streets alone. I couldn't fit in with my own kind and I couldn't conform to human standards for very obvious reasons."
He shrugged a bit before continuing, "Lived off rats, mostly ... bigger creatures when I was starving and I could get my hands on them. I live the same today. "
Cassie's eyebrows furrowed at that. Damn him. She hated being kept in the dark and she felt very much in the dark just with the information he had given her already. She looked down at the sand in which her boot heels were sinking and instead of swinging on the equipment, she simply drew patterns in the sand as she listened to him. Part of it stuck with her ... part of it just kind of swirled around her as she tried to figure out what the hell it all was supposed to mean.
Raj smiled a bit at her and chuckled, kicking at the ground again "You look confused. Anything I can clear up?"
Cassandra glanced over at him with somewhat of a scowl on her face. "I think you've done enough, thanks," she retorted and then rose from where she was standing, having had enough of this. She needed to talk to Nigel and straighten some things out.
As she started to walk away, she suddenly remembered another piece of the puzzle that needed to be cleared up and turned to face Raj once more. "Who was the vampire that night who had attacked the girl in the graveyard? What's his name?"
Raj looked up and watched her start to walk away. She had a tendency to do that ... get into a conversation then just walk away. It was getting rather old but he had all the time in the world.
He arched a brow. "Um ..." he seemed to think back. "That would be Nisus. Watch out for him. He's a coot and he doesn't play fair."
She nodded, hearing his words, muttering some "Thanks" before heading away from him with a quickness to her step. She was determined to walk away from him instead of get sucked into whatever this was. Maybe Nigel was right ... maybe it was all a game. She didn't know. Right now she didn't know anything ... she just knew she needed some answers.
But as she continued on her way, she realized that what she really needed was a night back at her own apartment. It had been too long and instead of heading towards the library, she instead turned the opposite direction and headed towards the place that beckoned her home.
Raj watched her leave. She seemed to be having a hard time digesting what he'd told her. Of course she was; how often was it that a slayer met a "good" vampire? Never ... that's how often.
He glanced up at the sky. "Why the hell do You ask me to torment them like this?" When he got no answer he just shook his head. 'Course not ... he'd never gotten a straight answer from the One who'd given him the soul he bore now. It was always one of his messengers that explained things and that hadn't been for a very, very long time.
The fact was that Raj had lost all faith in the One called God the night that he was changed. That was over 1700 years ago. A very long time to be without the One he called Lord and Savior. But where had the Savior been the night he died?
Yes, he had died ... there was no existence and then he woke up again to be brought into the living hell of unending evil and murder. Then he was supposedly blessed with a soul by some wiccan that appeared to him that one surreal night a few hundred years ago. Everything had changed for him again. But instead of a murderous hell, it was a nonexistant hell.
He didn't belong anywhere except with himself. He was one and completely alone. No. There was no God ... not according to him. He had devoted his life to serving God and for what? Absolutely nothing except only to be abandoned.
After awhile Raj got up to wander a bit. He was careful when he wandered. He had to be. It was either be careful or be hunted. He'd made the mistake of being caught before ... by none other than Nisus, actually.
That was a long, long story. He never wanted to relive it ever again either. He shook his head. No, there definitely wasn't any God. What kind of God would allow one of his most faithful servants be cursed to walk the earth for eternity? What kind of God would let a soul be lost and damned to hell forever when it was promised to go to heaven? No ... there was no God. Raj had decided that long ago.
Pain tore at him. It had for as long as he existed. He had been cursed to be cold for eternity. He had been cursed to walk alone with nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to each night that passed. He had been cursed never to see the sun again, never to enjoy a beautiful warm sunny day in the garden tending the living things that grew there. No ... never again would he feel those things.