I sat by the fire. I’m glad I insisted Cadmar build a small warm center like this in his home. While, grandeur was enjoyable it was small and quaint places like this that were comfortable. I could feel myself humming.
Cadmar entered the room. He was always annoyed about something. “Mother, Diego is in town. Should I call him home?” My young child was such a worry wart. “Are you that worried?” He plumped down into the leather chair besides me. Cadmar pouring himself an eager sum of whiskey. “Why are you not worried?”
I smiled softly. Cadmar could not feel what I could. “Because the air is humming again.” He refilled my own glass. “Don’t lose yourself in sentimentality.” Our glasses clinked. “You are always my most serious child.” Cadmar downed his drink. “And the only one concerned for your sanity.”
My son who admired me so. There was little I did to deserve his devotion but it always made me feel warm. I turned away from him to look at the fire. My humming returning, “Lavender blue, dilly dilly. Lavender green. If I were a king, dilly-dilly, I’d need a queen. Who told me so?, dilly-dilly. Who told me so? I told myself, dilly-dilly. I told me so.”
Cadmar turned to look at me. He looked anxious. “That song again?” I stopped humming and smiled at my son. “That song again.” He poured us another round of whiskey. The habit of drinking never left him even though it no longer did anything to him. Yet, he said I was the sentimental one. “I’m calling Diego.”
A soft and calming voice joining our fireside chat. “It’s always nice to see the grandchildren.” We both turned to look at Fernando. Cadmar smiling and waving him over. “Fernando. Come drink.” He poured him a glass of whiskey. Even if it wasn’t his taste Fernando always was polite and kind, drinking it anyways.
He turned to me. “I heard a familiar tune. Humming again, Asnat?” I simply smiled at my old friend. “Well, you know I have never been much of a singer.” Fernando raised his glass up at me. He was adorable and cute that way. Always such a kind soul. “Will you not tell me the real reason?”
Cadmar shook his head no. “So you can go tell your new Sieur?” I watched Fernando smile. He always took things in strides. A skill not many possessed. “Upset at me Cadmar, really?” My son nodded his head. “It would show me my friend is gone.” Fernando looked at him sad for a moment.
It was time for me to interrupt. “Cadmar, you need to learn to not be so childish. If Hugh was here we would all be swinging from the chandelier with drinks in our hands and laughter on our lips. Even you would not be able to bring down such a man with your negativity.” Fernando looked at me for a moment. It was true Cadmar had never met Hugh but he was always talked about. Fernando would always be with Hugh and so he must always be mentioned here with the joy he brought. This was a sacred responsibility we held. “That would be a dearly missed sight.”
Cadmar looked away embarrassed. “Sentimentality, all of you old folks.” Fernando cracked up laughing. “Come now, Cadmar. We know you are full of it as well.” The two raising their glasses at each other. I couldn’t help but rejoice. I raised my own glass. “Come let us rejoice, with heart and with voice, her triumphs let loyalty show, sir, while bumpers go round and re-echo sound, Huzza for the king and Prevost, sir.”
Fernando sighed. “And here you said you weren’t a singer.” But he smiled and got up as well. His glass in the air. “With warlike parade and his Irish brigade, his ships and his spruce Gallic host, sir, as proud as Calf, D’Estaring came himself, and landed on Georgia’s coast, sir.” He turned to look at Cadmar.
My son sheepishly standing up as well. “There joining a band, under Lincoln’s command, of rebels and traitors and whigs, sir, ‘Gainst the town of Savannah, he planted his bones, and then he felt wondrous big, sir.” He looked at us begging to stop so we all sat down and laughed. That was now an endearing memory.
We turned when we heard a knock at the door. Diana was standing there with Gallowglass looking curious. “What’s that?” Fernando smiled at her. “An old war song.” I looked at my son proud. “Cadmar’s first battle was the Siege of Savannah. He was so cute back then.” Gallowglass cracked up laughing. “This man doesn’t look like he’s ever been cute.”
I stood up and walked behind my son. My hands pressing down on his shoulders so he could not escape. “On the contrary, our Gaelic friend, my son has been very cute over the years.” Gallowglass moved to take my seat while Diana only took a few more steps into the room. Cadmar began to struggle to stand up.
It was no use. As I turned to Fernado with a devilish smile and nod I began to recount his young years, “When Cadmar first turned I brought him a hare. He named it Tandey after a friend he had in the fields.” Fernando covered his mouth to stop his laughter and Gallowglass let his out. “The boy named it.” I nodded my head. “Starved himself for three days as a newborn to make sure no one touched him. Tandey ended up living with us as a pet his entire life span.”
The two boys cracking up laughing. Diana, however, asked the question. “So what did he end up eating?” I shook my head slowly. “Not an animal. He went straight for the main course.” A content smile appeared on my son’s face. “I ate the master of my plantation, Emory Greene.”
Diana seemed more curious. She did not really seem to consider vampire etiquette. It was hard to tell if it was her bravery or her instinct as a historian. “You were a slave?” I looked at my son, curious to what he would reveal.
Cadmar nodded his head. “I was. This plantation was the last one I was at before I became a vampire.” She entered the room to find her own seat. It was the historian in her. “Where were you before?” Fernando looked at her anxious. Gallowglass as well. My own grip tightening on Cadmar’s shoulders just in case.
He simply sighed. “I was born probably somewhere in West Africa. My earliest memories are being on the slaver’s boat. From there I was in the Carolinas until I was bought for a new plantation project in Alabama. When I got older I was sold to the Greene’s to help repay their debt.” Cadmar’s eyes settled on Diana’s. “Does that settle your curiosity?”
She shook her head no. “I have one last question.” He nodded his head in approval. “How did you meet Asnat?” Cadmar smiled. “That is the best question you’ve asked.” He turned to look up at me. “Mother was visiting Georgia to buy property for daemons and witches. One of the properties neighbored the Greene’s so she came to see if it would be safe for the others.”
I let go of my son and poured myself a glass of whiskey. It was uncomfortable how much he idolized me. How many years would it take for those times to not affect a person? It seemed it was something un-erasable. Always a part of the souls from generation to generation. “Do try to tell the next part as it was and not as a fantastical story.”
Cadmar ignored me. “At the time, mother, was known as Maya De Mendoza. A wealthy Spanish noble investing in ‘new land’ opportunities.” Diana turned to look at me. I shrugged it off. “The Mendoza’s were a small and poor house. A sum of money allowed me to borrow the name of their deceased daughter.” He ignored my explanation and continued. “She was having dinner with the Greenes that night when my friend’s wife, Ceceilia, was attacked by their middle son, Charles.”
He waited for me to soak in the information before continuing. “You see she was light skinned. Therefor more attractive to our owners. Ceceilia was allowed to live better and work in the house. However, she loved my friend, Manor, who was as dark as we come. That didn’t sit well with either side.” Cadmar took a moment to look away. His eyes focused on the fire. ” Ceceilia and Manor survived all manner of abuses. However, they said it was love that kept them going. Going through all of that horror.”
Cadmar turned back to look at her. His expression serious and reminiscent of a time when he was not human but property. I looked at my son sadly. My son was brave and kind. He fought back and took what he had to to help those around him. He survived. Diana looking straight at him. “What happened?” He took a drink of his whiskey. “Manor died trying to protect Ceceilia and I was strung up on a pole watching her slowly die inside.”
I watched him finish his glass of whiskey and pour himself some more. “The Greene’s thought this would be entertainment for their noble guest. It was their arrogance and stupidity that lead to their deaths.” Cadmar turned to me. I smiled sadly. “The Greene’s were all killed and their white servants as well.” Diana looked at me shocked. Cadmar looked at me with a sad but proud smile. Truly, I never did anything to deserve it. “The ‘slaves’ became my property. I separated them into groups and homes where they could live as close to a free life as possible at the time even if they were still called slaves by the outsiders.”
Diana turned to Cadmar. “And you didn’t go with them?” Cadmar shook his head no. “No, I asked for the power to help my people for as long as they needed it.” He turned to me. “And I have never regretted my choice.” Trying to lighten the mood and stop the inquiry into my son’s painful past I chucked a bit. “Yes, but your insistence for activism has made us regret it sometimes.”
Gallowglass and Diana looked at me shocked. I turned to Fernando. “Do you remember how heated he got over plastic in the ocean?” Catching the hidden message, he nodded his head and smiled. “That plastic ‘art’ sculpture he brought us was ridiculous.” I laughed. “And the piles of foxes, weasels and raccoons he left in the house when the turtles were having problems?” Fernando nodded his head. “Didn’t you get a complaint about over hunting?”
I turned to Cadmar. “I did get a complaint. You nearly destroyed an ecosystem.” He looked away from us. “It was fine. The turtles were in a worse state.” I nodded my head. “Yes, they were then.” Gallowglass looked at Cadmar. “You do have a cute side underneath all of that doom and gloom.”
I stood up and refilled everyone’s glasses. “Oh, my children are all absolutely adorable. I am blessed as a mother to see them grow.” My attention turning to Diana. “Just as you are blessed to see your own children grow. Those two will certainly shock you with their talents.”
She looked at me surprised. Beau entered the room. “Ma’am, Sir Barrentine is on the phone for you.” I nodded my head and stood up. “Excuse me, it seems I am needed elsewhere.” Diana stood up. “I have more questions.” I smiled at her. “And I have more answers. But right now I must talk with someone else.”
Fernando turned to look at me. “I’m telling her all the old stories.” I nodded my head. “Go on. I’m sure Diana would love to hear about our fun times. About Hugh.” He smiled at me and I left the room.
The Barrentine’s were a wealthy and nosy old family of daemons. Their ancestor was such an amazing woman. Why did her current family members have to be so annoying?
I arrived at one of the random phones in the hall. That gruffy voice appearing. “Asnat?” I nodded my head even if it was only for my own self satisfaction. “This is she.” A sound of irritation screeched through the phone. I had to hold it away from me. “Why did you not tell me you had De Clermonts visiting!” This man. “Because it has nothing to do with you?”
His scoff so loud on the phone. “How does a member of the Congregation appearing here have nothing to do with me? We hold a community of daemons over here. Do you not recall?” This man. I took a deep breath. “I do recall, Sir Barrentine, as I was the one who helped set it up and keep it in existence. This arrival of the De Clermonts has nothing to do with you and if you insist on getting involved then you will bring danger to the very group you are in charge of.”
His anger was emanating through the phone. “Get rid of them! I want them out of Georgia.” I couldn’t help but snarl. “Now George, I have been kind with my handling of you but that will end now. You are but an ant trying to crawl from the ground and get closer to the sky. You are insignificant and weak. powerless and swollen by your avarice. AND YOU BY ANY MEANS NEVER ORDER ME AROUND.”
I could hear the silence on the other end. My anger, however, had yet to become silent. “Expect the arrival of Waylon tonight. He will be there to gather and ensure the safety of the daemons. And you will be gracious as you step down from your position.” There was still no response. “Do you understand me?” After a few moments he finally spoke again. “Yes.”
An evil smile spread on my face. “Yes, what?” I could hear the man choking in anger. “I’m waiting.” A few moments later he finally responded. “Yes, My Lady.”