There was a strange thrumming vibration in the night. Evangeline often felt it when she was sitting quietly, or focusing her attention on the shifting tides of power in the City of Marble. The city itself was breathing along those lines of power—learning, growing, shifting. Sometimes it seemed to her that it was stretching, spreading wings of ebon and violet over the light-studded landscape below. How long would it be before it enfolded them all?
How many of them had already been snared?
She remembered the spider at the center of the web, bloated and fat on the vitae of other cainites. She shuddered convulsively as she thought of the lines...the tethers that connected them all to those nameless inhuman echoes of their past. Their origins.
“No...” she whispered, coming to a stop. Around her, the Georgetown foot traffic did not stop, and several people gave her dirty looks as they were forced to move around her. They continued on, but the black-clad woman did not. She reached up and put one slender hand on a light post, almost without realizing it. The coolness of the metal and stone made her gasp slightly. She could almost feel the flickers of impressions…of those who had come in contact with it before. Her own powers of perception were expanding, night by night.
She gazed skyward, toward the forever-twilight canopy of cloud cover. The city’s lights always blotted out the stars, and reflected off of the swollen bottoms of the clouds when it was overcast.
Unbidden, images rose in her mind. Memories of sharp pain, then ecstasy. The Kiss. She lowered her head, hair spilling down and covering her face as she lost herself briefly to memory. Around her, the world spiraled away until the noise and bustle were mere moths fluttering against her awareness. The pleasure began to give way to the gnawing, terrifying sensation of loss. Something dark and yawning stretched before her…a hopeless, endless oblivion that awakened primal fear.
No...you cannot have it! You cannot have my soul!
She thrust away from the post and took several steps before realizing that the palm of her left hand was wet. Sticky. She looked down and saw that her own fingernails had carved crescent marks in her palm. Blood welled in those cuts, and the sight of it made her both nauseous and lightheaded. This has to stop.
All week, she had been seeing him over and over again. Luke Dickerson. London Ventrue. Nominal standing, fairly attractive, easily charming. Visitor to the Marble Court.
She moved as fast as she could, wending her way through the throng of Christmas shoppers and holiday celebrants. They paid her little heed. She was just one more stranger in a land filled with impatient and determined pedestrians. If her face was pinched, they attributed it to stress. If she looked pale, it was likely the lights. If she staggered, well the stones were notoriously uneven.
They killed him. Those unknown vampires. They drank and drank until they felt his soul, fighting. Then, they consumed that, too. They took him from his future and imprisoned his spirit in a cage of lust and greed. How could it happen?
She put a hand to her neck, feeling the cool flesh of her fingers as they pried beneath her scarf. She had felt it as if they were doing it to her. She had warned as many people as she could that Dickerson’s life was in danger…even how he would die. She had Seen it. But still, he had managed to slip out of the gathering, and then he had died.
Just as she had Seen.
Why had she left the room? Why had she let him go?
She had no one else to blame, even as her predator’s spirit fought to pin the responsibility on others. Mariah. Jack. The Sheriff. Her deputy. They were supposed to watch him...
She turned abruptly and headed down an alleyway, into the darkness between two bars. She heard sounds of irritation as she nearly bowled over a couple coming out of a sports bar. Heedless, she ran until she found herself rounding a corner into a residential street. She found the first empty stoop and sat there, drawing her knees up to her chest.
”What do you want from me?” she whispered into the chill evening.
She looked up into the luminous clouds and almost imagined she could see those webs…those lines of interconnectedness. She felt a pressure in her own chest, and saw the faint echoes of that same inevitable red line leading away from her. Into the heights. Into that Web. “Leave me alone...just leave me be...”