Chapter 14

A thousand years ago, in the Scottish Highlands, I was faced with a situation similar to the one that now confronts me. At the time I had a royal lover, the Thane of Welson, my Harold. We lived in a moderate-size castle on the northwestern coast of Scotland, where the biting winter winds blew off the foaming ocean water like ice daggers carved by frigid mer?maids. They were enough to make me dream of Hawaiian vacations, even though Hawaii had yet to be discovered. I liked Harold. More than any other mortal I had met, he reminded me of Cleo, my old Greek friend. They had a similar sense of humor and they were both leches. I like horny men; I feel they are true to their inner natures.

Harold was not a doctor, however, like Cleo, but an artist, and a great one at that He painted me in a number of poses, many times nude. One of these paintings now hangs in the Louvre in Paris, and is attributed to an artist who never even existed. Once I visited the museum and found a skilled art student painting a copy of the work. Coming up at his side, I just stood there for the longest time, and he kept glancing at me and getting more curious. Indeed, looking a little closer he even acted kind of scared. He wanted to say something to me but didn't know what. Before leaving I just smiled at him and nodded. Harold had caught my likeness perfectly.

At that time in Scotland there was an arrogant authority figure in the area, a certain Lord Tensley, who had a much bigger castle and ego than my Harold, but not the great object of his desire, which just happened to be me. Lord Tensley wanted me in the worst way and did everything in his power to woo me away from Harold. He sent me flowers and horses and carriages and jewels-the usual Middle Ages fluff. But I will take a sense of humor over power and money any day. Besides, Lord Tensley was cruel, and even though I have been known to bite a few necks in my day-and crush a few skulls-I have never thought of myself as one who enjoys pain at another's expense. One story had it that Lord Tensley had beheaded his first wife when she refused to smother their slightly handicapped female firstborn. All of Lord Tensley's subsequent lovers had stiff necks from checking their backs constantly.

While I was with Harold, I was going through one of my reckless periods. Usually I go to great lengths to keep my true identity secret, and it wasn't as if I romped around the Scottish Highlands biting the neck of every MacFarland and Scottie Boy who walked by in the dark. But during that time, perhaps because I was lazy and tired of arguing with people, I used the power of my eyes and voice to quickly get what I wanted. Naturally, after a time, I developed the reputation of being a witch. This did not bother Harold, as it had not bothered Cleo before him. Both were progressive thinkers. But unlike Cleo, Harold actually knew that I was a vampire, and that I often drank human blood. It really turned him on to have such a girlfriend. When he painted me, I often had blood on my face. Harold occasionally asked me to make him a vampire so that he wouldn't have to grow old and die, but be knew of Krishna and the vow I'd made to him and so he didn't press me. Once Harold painted a picture of Krishna for me from my descrip?tion, and that was a work I treasured above all others, until it was destroyed in England in a German bomb?ing raid during World War II.

Because I had shunned Lord Tensley, and had developed the reputation of being a witch, the good man of God felt it was his duty to have me tried and burned at the stake, a practice that was later to come into vogue during the Inquisition. In a sense Lord Tensley was a man ahead of his time. He dispatched a dozen armed men to bring me in, and because Harold's entire security force consisted of maids, butlers, and mule boys, I met the contingent myself before they reached our castle and sent their heads back to Lord Tensley with a note attached: The answer is still no. I thought that would scare him off, at least for a while, but Lord Tensley was more determined than I realized. A week later he kidnapped my Harold and sent a note to me stating that unless I surrendered myself promptly, he would be sending me Harold's head. Storming Lord Tensley's heavily fortified castle would have been a difficult proposition, even for a creature such as I, and besides, I thought a little feigned cooperation would bring Harold back to me all the sooner. I sent another note back: The answer is yes, but you have to come get me. Bring Harold.

Lord Tensley brought Harold and twenty of his best knights. Hearing them approach, I sent my people off. None were fighters and I didn't want them to get killed. Alone, I stood atop my castle gate that cold dark night with a bow and arrow in hand as the witch-squad rode up on their horses. The nervous exhalations of the men and animals shone like drag?on's breath in the orange glow of the flickering torches. Lord Tensley carried Harold before him on his own horse, a jagged knife held tight at my lover's throat. He called up to me to surrender or he would kill my boyfriend before my eyes. The interesting thing about Lord Tensley was that he didn't underesti?mate me in the slightest. Naturally, one would expect the ten heads I sent back to him to make him cautious. But the way he maintained his distance, keeping Harold directly in front of him, and even the manner in which he avoided looking in my direction made me think he honestly believed I was a witch.

That was a problem. Generally in the past, before the advent of modern weapons, I could extricate myself from most situations by sheer speed and strength. An arrow or spear shot in my direction-I could just duck aside or catch it in midair. There was never a chance someone could defeat me in a sword fight, even when I didn't have a sword. It wasn't until guns were developed that I had to move more careful?ly and use my head first before my feet or hands.

For a long moment I licked the tip of the arrow in my hand and considered taking my best shot at Lord Tensley. The chances were excellent that I would be able to kill him without harming Harold. The prob?lem was I would not be able to stop the other men from quickly chopping up my lover.

"I will surrender," I called down. "But first you must let him go."

Lord Tensley laughed. He was an intensely hand?some man, but his face somehow reminded me of a fox that dreamed of being a wolf. What I mean is he was sly and proud at the same time, and didn't care if he got his snout bloody, as long as it was at mealtime. Harold, on the other hand, was as ugly as a man could be and still have all his basic features in the right places. He had broken his nose on three occasions, each time while drunk, and the sad thing was that each shattered cartilage actually improved his appear?ance. But he could make me laugh and he could make love all night and what did the rest of it matter? I would do my best to save him, I knew, even at the risk of my own life. Cowards I have always despised above all else.

"You surrender first," Lord Tensley called back. "And then we will let him go."

"I am all alone here," I said. "A frail woman. Why don't your knights come get me?"

"We will not debate with you, witch," Lord Tensley replied. And with that he stabbed his knife through Harold's upper right arm, a serious injury to receive in those days without modern surgical techniques and drugs. Even in the cold wind, I could smell the amount of blood pouring out of Harold. By bartering, I had made a mistake. I had to get to him soon.

"I will come down now," I called, setting aside my bow and arrow.

Yet I hung behind the castle gate even as I peered my head out at the wicked gang. Knowing they were coming, I had placed a fresh horse and supplies just beyond a nearby bluff. If Harold could get to the animal, I knew he would ride to a cave two miles distant that only the two of us knew about. There he could hide until his girlfriend extraordinaire figured out a way to wipe out the enemy. Harold had the utmost confidence in me. Even at that moment, bound and bleeding as he was, he smiled at me as if to say, give 'em hell. I was not worried about that part. It was keeping him alive at the same time that concerned me. But to that end I sought to focus my gaze on Lord Tensley as I looked out from behind the gate. He continued to avoid my eyes, however.

"Let him go," I called, pitching my voice as power?fully as I could, knowing, if given the chance, that eye contact would magnify my subtle influence tenfold.

"Come out now, witch, or I stab his other arm," Lord Tensley called back. "Then your heathen lover will be doing no more of those corrupt paintings of your filthy body."

Harold was in fact left-handed. I had to restrain myself from replying that if I was burned at the stake, then Harold wouldn't be doing any more paintings of me in either case. And as far as my filthy body was concerned-he hadn't minded the look and smell of it until I had told him to take a hike. Another phrase, by the way, that I think I invented. There is a place for sarcasm and this was not one of them. I stepped into the open and spoke steadily.

"Now you keep your word and release him," I said.

Lord Tensley did as requested, but it was a feint. I knew the moment he had me bound and gagged he would chase after Harold and either cut him down or recapture him to be tried as a witch alongside me. Still, Lord Tensley could not know about the horse I had waiting nearby, and for that reason I exchanged a long stare with Harold as they untied him and let him climb to the ground. Harold and I had a deep telepath?ic bond; it was another special element in our relation?ship. Even with the pain of his wound and the pressure of the situation, he was able to sense my mind. Common sense also came to his aid; he knew I would want him to get to the cave. He nodded slightly before turning and fleeing into the night. Sadly, he left behind a trail of blood that I could smell only too clearly.

When he was out of sight, I turned my attention to Lord Tensley's son, who had no reservations about looking at me. The young man was barely sixteen but large as an ox. He had one of those cheerful blank expressions that made me think that if his karma remained constant, then in his next life he would be a lineman for a professional football team and make two million dollars a year. Never mind that at that time there was no football, or even dollars for that matter. Some faces and things I just have a feeling for. It was my intention to send him on to his great destiny as quickly as possible, but I knew subtle suggestion would not work on his primitive brain. Stepping forward and focusing my eyes deep into his head, I said in a calm clear voice:

"Your father is the witch. Kill him while you still can."

The boy spun and shoved his sword into his father's gut. A look of immense surprise shone on Lord Tensley's face. He turned to me just before he fell off his horse. Of course I was smiling.

"I know you've kept one of Harold's paintings of me in your closet," I said. "I look pretty good for a witch, dont I?"

e tried to answer, but a glob of blood came out of his mouth instead of words. Toppling forward, Lord Tensley was dead before he hit the ground. Half the knights fled right then, including the, athletic son, the other half stayed to fight. I dealt with them quickly, without mercy, largely because I was in a hurry to get to Harold.

But I was too late. I found him lying on his back beside the horse I had left for him. The wound in the arm had punctured an artery, and he had bled to death. My Harold-I was to miss him for a long time. To this day I have never returned to Scotland.

What was the moral of the story? It was painfully simple. One cannot argue with evil men. They are too unpredictable. Waiting for Eddie, with his mother firmly in hand, I know he will do something weird.

Still, I do not know what the moral of Krishna's story is.

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