// THE MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC //
I drove to the Marscapone House late that evening. I did not like to use the telephone and so, I did not. I realize that such formalities as announcing one’s arrival are commonplace and even expected but among our kind, at least among my friends, ways of making oneself less of a burden on houseguests were different, even with Vincent’s wife being who and what she was. She happened to be only a little more affectionate of the device than I was myself. Regardless, I found the device tinny; a poor reproduction of voice, with the added complication that it was impossible to know who might be listening in on the other side.
When I arrived, I had just held my hand aloft to lay knock upon the lower entrance when the door falls open.
It is Vincent Marscapone.
STRAUD. IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU.
IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU TOO.
He lets me into the house.
The Marscapone House has multiple entrances on a reasonably-trafficked street. The building is flanked by similar, albeit smaller, townhomes. Underneath the main entrance located on the corner of Church Street, is a drab door that leads directly into the basement.
This basement is where one may, for better or for worse, find the Vampire Vincent Marscapone.
He used the lower entrance for his personal affairs and private entertaining. Though we were old acquaintances, I had little specific knowledge on what kind of company he kept.
I did know he did not often welcome guests, especially since the beginning of the School’s tenure mid-century. Instead of engaging in the usual food chain game, he could usually be found abed, reserving his stores of energy for familial engagement. He was old enough to have put the frenzy far behind him.
It has been over a week since their young son had been abducted. We had no firm knowledge about where the boy could be found.
THAT’S WHY I’M GLAD YOU’VE COME.
I SOUGHT THE FAVOR OF THE WOLVES.
THAT IS GOOD NEWS.
IT WAS A TRYING VOYAGE.
I ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT.
BUT YOU HAVE.
AND YOU RETURNED.
THEY’RE GOING TO SEARCH THE PLANES THEY HAVE ACCESS TO.
AND WHAT –
THE HOPE THAT WE’LL RIDE AGAIN.
I’m stunned. If the bond between Vincent and the wolves was this strong, why hadn’t he called upon them before?
THAT IS WONDERFUL, FRIEND.
HAS YOUR WIFE FOUND ANYTHING ELSE?
SHE SPOKE TO ME EARLIER THIS EVENING.
WHEREVER THE BOY IS, HE’S WATCHING TELEVISION.
THEN AT MOST HE’S NOT TOO FAR FROM THE PRIME MATERIAL PLANE.
EVER MORE EVIDENCE THAT TRELAINE HAS HIM LOCKED IN ONE OF HIS MORTAL-FACING FACILITIES.
I’M SURE HE SEES THE BOX AS A NECESSARY ALLOWANCE.
HE HAS MORE PITY FOR THE MORTALS THAN I EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE.
MY SON IS NO MORTAL.
NOR DID I ATTEMPT TO ASCRIBE TO HIM THAT STATUS.
BUT IN HIS YOUTH, I AM SURE A SET OF IRON BARS IS ENOUGH TO KEEP HIM CAGED.
EXACTLY WHY I NEED YOUR HELP.
Help is exactly what I was offering by showing myself at his home. If he is so bold as to ask me outright, then I know he’s been doing some thinking. Dangerous thinking.
I PLAN TO USE SOME OF MY OLD TRICKS.
The act of shapeshifting is highly disturbing to the mind and consciousness. It is difficult to overstate how much of one’s awareness of oneself is connected to the form and feeling of a particular expression. It can drive the most stolid of vampires temporarily insane to lose use of the hands and feet, and that’s not yet treading upon phantom limbs or silhouette dysphoria. And yet animal shapes were simple compared to the complete dissolution that could be attained in proximity to the shadows.
Learning to shapeshift was one of the most forbidding hurdles a young vampire could encounter. It was an all-or-nothing experience wherein one needed to blink to the secondary form and accept its limitations. And before the fear of loss-of-self took over, blink again and hold; hold the form against all doubt and uncertainty. It was an experience few vampires could get through. The most accomplished became well-known for their mastery of self-change.
Vincent was one such individual.
DO YOU THINK HE’S USING BIOMETRICS TO GUARD HIS FACILITY?
IT’S HIGHLY LIKELY.
I DON’T THINK I’LL HAVE ANY TROUBLE WITH THAT.
IT’S ONCE I’M INSIDE THAT I’M CONCERNED WITH MY ACTING SKILL.
LET ALONE KNOWING THE LAYOUT OF THE PLACE.
THAT IS WHY I WANTED TO ASK FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE.
I’D LIKE TO TAKE SOME MORTAL WEAPONRY WITH ME.
The Mortals produced weaponry that could be transported easily throughout the Prime Material Plane. What was made in a place could easily stay in a place. It was trying to take matter away from its native plane that became difficult.
Difficult; never impossible.
I WANT SOMETHING EXPLOSIVE. IT’S THE ONLY WAY I CAN CREATE ENOUGH OF A DISTRACTION TO FIND HIM IF I GET IN TROUBLE.
And here I’d hoped he’d only wanted a firearm.
I’LL FIND A FACE…THERE MUST BE SOMEONE.
I’LL NAVIGATE TOWARD HIM FROM THE ENTRANCE.
IF I GET LOST –
THERE ARE A GREAT DEAL OF VARIABLES.
YOU DON’T KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT WHERE HE’S BEING KEPT.
COME WITH ME.
I CAN’T. I CAN’T SET FOOT ON HIS PLANE. EVEN IF YOUR FRIENDS ARE ABLE TO FIND A DIRECT PATH…I AM SURE HE’S FORBIDDEN ME ENTRANCE.
We continue to iterate over possibilities when I hear the sound of Myrtle coming down the stairs into the landing.
She bows her head in deference. It’s a formal gesture, and I try to accept it as delicately as I am able.
She turns her head to address her husband.
VINCENT. I SAW SOMETHING YOU’LL WANT TO SEE.
She has been sinking herself into scrying rituals – and sink she had. Darkness seems to tug underneath her eyes and her usually neat hair is askew, as if she’d been laying down and re-risen several times.
The pair join hands and their faces go slack as their eyes glow with a dim yellow light. They’re sharing a vision.
There is nothing for me to do but wait until they’ve communed.
Vincent’s eyes are beginning to fade when he begins to speak. They’re just still sharing sight.
WHO IS THAT?
I DON’T KNOW HER NAME.
BUT THIS IS THE SECOND TIME I’VE SEEN HER.
IT’S AS GOOD A PLACE TO START AS ANY.
THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE.
They finally blink and the tie is severed, leaving both of their sights to themselves.
I THINK THEY’VE DONE SOMETHING TO HIS MOUTH.