Into The Mists Forever
This short story is a prelude to the 'Forever' vampire series.
In 4th century, Britain, regimental surgeon Justin Corvus, encounters a local woman called Gwyltha and assumes she is the wife of some local chieftain When they meet again during an epidemic, he learns she is a local healer. What he does not learn is she is an ancient one - a vampire. After a heated and passionate encounter, she disappears and, despite his efforts, he learns little about her. He meets her later, as he's wounded in the field of battle, and then understands the true nature of his lover when she gives him eternity.
"You know how many cases there are, Surgeon Justin Corvus?" she asked, as they stood in the street in the misting rain.
"You have the advantage of me, madam," he replied. "You never gave me your name."
"I am Gwyltha," she replied.
"Gwyltha," he said, inclining his head, "we meet again."
"Without spears this time." If she was surprised or impressed he pronounced her name correctly, she hid it. Hadn't been hard. It was close to his dead mother's name. Only she'd been from the civilized lands in the far south a very different world from these barbaric northern wastes. Besides, no man would harbor for his mother the thoughts that sprung to mind standing close to Gwyltha. There was a strange and uncanny air about her. Arrogance, self assurance, a burning sensuality. Whatever it was, he wanted her. Naked for preference.
Short rations and damp weather were affecting his reason.
"You live in Eboracum?"
She shook her head. "No I come when asked to see the sick. Two died yesterday. I fear we will lose more. Of course the death of a Briton is hardly a matter of importance to a Roman."
He looked her in the eye. "My mother was a Briton, of the Dumnonii. Her death was of importance."
Gwyltha wanted to bite her careless tongue. Perhaps it was because of his British blood that he fascinated her. Hardly! No one else ever had in this way. "My apologies, Surgeon. And my condolences for your Mother's death."
"It was years back. I was a child," he replied. He seemed to hesitate, as if about to say more, but then asked. "The potion you gave that boy? What is it?"
"A herbal concoction. Helps with fevers and cools the blood. I have more with me. You are here to attend the sick in the town? Don't you have your own sick and wounded?"
"My legate told me to come and see how many are sick."
Indeed? Maybe the town should send a deputation to thank him for his concern."
Justin Corvus smiled and she couldn't help smiling back. Gods of her fathers protect her! This man had an aura about him enough to make her forget her vows and heritage. "I doubt he would appreciate the sentiment in which the deputation might be sent," he replied.
The quirk of his eyebrow and the solemn line of his wide mouth combined with the wicked twinkle in his dark eyes, almost undid her. "That would be a tragic misunderstanding," she replied. His deep peal of laughter almost completed her undoing. Time to concentrate on the sick and dying. "I thank you at least for coming. There are several ailing. Not all will die but it seems to hit worst the young and the old."
"Like so many diseases."
"What precisely was in the potion you gave the boy?" he asked, sounding hesitant. Afraid it was some deep held secret perhaps?
Why not tell him? "Fever bright and heartsease mixed with a soporific. It helps them rest and eases the fever. For the rash there's not much I can do. If they live it fades."
"Would you share what you do?"
She should refuse, tell him to go back to the camp and leave her in peace but his genuine interest swayed her. "Come with me. It's no secret. Watch me at the next stop and then you'll know what to do."
He already did, but watching her at each bedside was a pleasure, and gave him opportunities to touch her under pretext of handing her a package or helping her on and off with her cloak. Was this insanity?
Maybe. But on her part, she did not appear to be repulsed by his company. Maybe she would welcome more. They could hunt together perhaps. Now that was a thought...
"If we split up," Gwyltha said, as they stood in the narrow street outside the last house they'd visited, "we can work in half the time."
This was definitely not what he'd had in mind but she handed him four small vials and a bundle of herbs. Perhaps sensing his hesitation, (Very real it was too. Who knew if her potions killed or cured?) she smiled at him and he was ready to do her bidding in an instant. She led him around a couple of corners and indicated, across the street, a reasonably prosperous Roman style house. "The father there is stricken with the sickness," she said. "They are Romanised enough to trust you more than they'd trust me perhaps. Tell them I sent you."
"And I have to trust that your potions are safe?"
Giving him the oddest, searching look, without a trace of a smile, she replied. "In this, you can trust me, Surgeon Corvus I am not one who kills."
Copyright © 2006-2012 Rosemary Laurey