Changes, upheaval, and a terrifying escape from former friend turned foe.
Mary Murray has changed a great deal since she first encountered the shadow of the tomb, and now she finds herself a creature of terror and disgust by her former friends and professor. Her only hope lies in the handsome creature who made her as they hurry across the countryside in a bid for new fortunes and a new life.
Time passed, I don’t know how many hours, or even days, it was. I knew only the darkness that encompassed me, that wrapped me in its soft, cool arms and held me tight. It never wanted to let me go, but I slowly awakened to something else in this strange dark world. There was a far off sound. Someone was calling me.
I knew that voice. I loved that voice. It beckoned me away from the darkness.
I tore myself from those gentle arms and rushed forward. There was nothing around, but I stumbled through the dark following the voice. It would lead the way, and as I raced onward I noticed a shimmering orb of light ahead. It was beautiful and painful to behold. The voice came from there, so I sped on. The orb grew until it stretched to the size of a door. I reached out for the door. The voice kept calling me, urging me onward. The brightness burned me, but I didn’t care.
I gasped and sat up.
There was darkness so deep I thought I was blind. I flailed my arms searching for something to grasp and another pair of arms caught mine and wrapped around me. “Be calm. Be still,” a voice whispered. It was the voice, the one from my dream. Dmitri’s voice.
I blinked, and slowly the shadows faded and my vision returned. I beheld the treasure chamber in its rubbled state. When I tried to breathe I found there was little air left to take in, and I also realized I didn’t need it. My lungs no longer worked, and my heart no longer beat.
“How are you feeling?” Dmitri asked me.
I shivered and closed my eyes. “Cold,” I whispered.
He pulled me closer to him. There was a little warmth to his body. I noticed my clothes were back on me. “That can be remedied, but for now relax. Your change has shocked your body and it still needs time to acclimate,” he told me.
“So I’m. . .I’m really dead?” I wondered.
“Undead. A creature of shadows,” he corrected me.
I glanced around the dark room and my eyes grew accustomed to the shadows. Details became clear and I was no longer afraid. “So what now?” I asked him.
“Now we wait for your powers to surface, and then we make our escape,” he replied.
“And then?” The future was more uncertain than it had ever been in my life. My plans of a steady job and career were gone. Even my ability to stand in the sun was gone. I whimpered and pressed closer to him.
“We will travel far from here, but first we must retrieve my other treasure,” he told me.
I frowned and glanced over my shoulder at him. “Other treasure?”
He chuckled. “Do you believe I would have gone to all this trouble with this tomb and had all my treasures buried here?” he returned.
“I guess not,” I replied.
“I didn’t trust the sorcerer who gave me this life to let all of my treasures remain with me, so I had a large part deposited in a secret chest a few miles past the village,” he explained.
I tilted my head back to look at the ceiling. “What about the professor and the others?” I asked him.
“What of them?” he wondered.
I frowned and bit my lip. My long teeth bit into my skin and a thin line of blood slipped down my chin. “He betrayed me. He left me here to die because he got scared.”
There was a pause from Dmitri, and when he spoke his voice was calm, quiet. “You wish revenge on him?” he guessed.
“I. . .I don’t know what I wish. I just know I’m mad at him and-well, and hungry,” I admitted. There was an incessant gnawing at my stomach that enough vampire movies had told me was my craving for blood.
“It would better if we attacked no one in the area. If we did then they would know we survived the ceiling collapse,” he pointed out.
I cringed. The hunger inside of me protested with a loud growl. “Not even a bit of a snack?”
He chuckled. “No, not even a single bite,” he insisted.
I hung my head. “This is going to be a long night,” I muttered. A thought hit me and I furrowed my brow. “What night is this, anyway? How long was I asleep?”
“You slept for a day. The sun set ten minutes ago,” he told me.
“And now we’re supposed to escape here as some sort of shadow?” I guessed.
“Yes. The shadows are our protection and our disguise. We are able to step into them and remain there until we choose to reveal ourselves,” he replied.
“So I can do that right now?” I asked him.
“Perhaps. There is one way to find out,” he answered. He stood and helped me to my fight. I swayed, but he held me steady.
“I don’t know if I can turn in a circle, much less turn into a shadow,” I mused.
He smiled, set me against his sarcophagus, and stepped away. “It will come naturally. Merely focus on the spot you wish to step into, and do it,” he encouraged me.
Dmitri walked over to the wall opposite the coffin. His feet stepped into the darkest shadows created by the treasures and disappeared as though they were swallowed by the presence of those same shadows. He reached the wall and slipped into the dark cracked beneath the stones. It was like his body was covered in a dark blanket, and then thinned and twisted into the crevices. In a moment he stepped out, but only partially. He offered me his hand.
“Are you ready?” he asked me.
I glanced around the stuffy, dark room and eagerly pushed off from the coffin. “I thought you’d never ask,” I teased.
I grasped his hand and he pulled me toward the shadows behind him. As the hard stone came closer my human instincts told me this was going to hurt, and I shut my eyes against the pain. There was nothing but a slight chill and then silence. It was as though every noise in the world was shut out. I cracked open an eye and saw before me the deep darkness of my dreams, but this time Dmitri stood at my side. Behind us was the treasure room and there was a distinct line between the dark world in which I stood and the floor of the tomb. I turned around and reached out my hand. It slipped through the barrier between worlds with that distinct coolness. I wiggled my fingers in the tomb, and pulled my hand back into darkness.
Then I gave my expert analysis on this amazing phenomenon. “That is so weird,” I commented.
Dmitri chuckled. “Yes, it is strange, but wonderful in its beauty,” he added.
“Yeah, I guess, but how do we get out of here? Do we just go back the way we came in?” I wondered.
“We look for the cracks of light,” he told me. I watched as he reached up and brushed his hands over us. It was as though he brushed aside dirt that didn’t fall because his fingers revealed small cracks of light in the darkness. “These cracks are in the ceiling of the tomb. They will lead us outside,” he explained.
“So we do what? Climb into the ceiling?” I guessed.
He turned so we faced each other and grasped my hands in his own. I gasped when I felt my feet leave the solid, albeit shadowed, ground and we flew up to the cracks. They broadened and opened to allow us through, and as they did the world above the tomb was revealed to us. There was the dig site and the trees, and the hills that surrounded the valley. We slipped from the ground like, well, shadows, and hovered over the earth for a moment before we slowly lowered to the dirt.
I glanced down at the ground in awe as Dmitri released my hands. My feet tapped the ground searching for the invisible cracks which had allowed us up here, but they were gone from my sight. “How’d you do that?” I asked him.
“We merely slipped through the shadows of the earth. Never forget that even in the darkest and deepest dungeon escape can be found in the earth,” he instructed me.
“And we can fly any time we want?” I inquired.
“Only to travel through the shadows. In clear skies such as these we are trapped on the ground as any human,” he replied.
“Not even as bats?” I wondered.
He raised an eyebrow. “Bats? No, we cannot change our form into bats. That is mere fiction written by an author with a wild imagination,” he told me.
“Damn. . .” I mumbled.
“Don’t dwell on the disappointments. Enjoy the beauty of the night,” he advised. Dmitri glanced up at the sky and held his hand upward into the air above him. “Is this not a beautiful night? Can you not feel the cool breeze on your skin and hear the wolves as they howl to one another?”
I paused and listened for the howls. Far off I did hear the din of the nocturnal creatures as they hunted in their packs. “Can we talk to them?” I wondered.
“In a lower sense, yes. They will understand our commands, but we can only understand the tone of their growls,” Dmitri explained.
The childish possibility of a companion wolf slipped into my mind, but I shook it out. There would be safer times to ponder future pets. “You said your other treasures were on the far side of the village? How do we get there?”
“We will go around your former campsite and go through the wooded paths up the hills to the village,” he replied. “Come, follow me,” he instructed, and led me in the direction of the camp.