Rune Tells His Side
I'm the hero of these books. Really. Kat is the one who steps in the cowpies, and I'm the one to haul her out, take care of the bad guys, and generally come out smelling like a rose. Not bad for a half-vampire warlock, eh?
In Bad Spelling, I'm the one who protects Kat when she decides to cross the Barents Sea ice to go to Siberia.
In Midnight Oil, I'm the one who rescues my girlfriend from the Nenets warriors AND, mind you, had a significant role in defeating Ajatar, the evil forest elemental who'd kidnapped Kat's boyfriend.
Everything was going along great until Kat goes to Scotland and I just had to follow her. Hey, she always needs my protection, right? Well, in Scotch Broom, I have to admit that Kat saves me instead of the other way around. Scotch Broom gave me a real wake-up call.
My vampire side was still vulnerable, even though I thought I was totally in control. Then a mean has-been winter goddess, Cailleach, managed to bring out the vampire and make me do something I'll always regret--killing another being. Yeah, Glaistig was a vampire too. But she was really cool, and I was happy to get to know her better. She might have been the "one" for me. But I screwed up and she died because of it.
I'm sorry. I'm kind of choking up here, so I'll just leave you with an excerpt from Scotch Broom about when I first met Glaistig. That's a happier scene than what happened in Cailleach's hovel later on.
Excerpt from Scotch Broom
As the sun eased down to hide behind a mountain range to the west, a movement to his left caught his attention. It looked like a tendril of smoke rising from the swamp. Since it was unlikely anything could burn in the bog, he watched the gray mist with interest. He notched up his vampire vision to watch. The smoky mist grew opaque then solid. A figure formed, but as if a statue made of granite, it was solid gray. Watching closely, Rune waited to see what this might be. He had studied all types of magical beings and couldn’t recall one like this.
Rune ventured a greeting. “Hello?” The woman didn’t speak, but she moved again, this time circling him. Rune turned to keep her in his sight.
“I am Glaistig.” Her voice was as soft as the smoke from which she formed.
Without his vampire hearing, Rune wouldn’t have been able to hear the whisper. “Ahem. I’m Rune. Nice to meet you.” Rune wondered whether to offer his hand to shake and decided not to risk it. He’d heard some magical beings poisoned those who touched them.
The pale woman looked him up and down and then nodded slightly. “You are vampyr?”
“Um. Is that a problem?”
“Not at all. I am also.”
“Oh. I should have guessed. Night. Smoke. Oh! I remember who you are!” Rune snapped his fingers. “Glaistig, the Gray Lady. But you’re not a true vampire, are you?”
“It depends upon my mood and how a person treats me. If I meet a man on the road, and he tries to grab me, I dance away and let him follow. I lure him to my lair. Then, I take his blood. But if a man tips his hat and wishes me a good evening, I leave him with a smile.”
“That’s a relief. My name is Rune, and I’m here looking for my si—” Rune stopped and considered that if Glaistig was a vampire and thought he was too, he shouldn’t mention he had a witch sister. “Uh, a female friend. Have you seen a girl with black hair?”
“I have not, but Cailleach may be able to help you.” Something darker than the blackest shadow lumbered out of the night. Glaistig glanced at the giant coming up behind her. “It’s all right, Bodach. This man is a vampire.”
The giant halted by her side and glared down at Rune, who swallowed hard and craned his neck to look up at the ugly face on top of the nine-foot tall body. The giant sniffed. “As you say, Glaistig. We take him to Cailleach?”
“Yes, we do.” Turning to Rune, the Gray Lady beckoned with her index finger. “Come, Rune. We shall visit the goddess.”
“Well, that’s okay. I’ll just look over there,” Rune replied, pointing in the opposite direction of where Glaistig appeared to be headed.
Bodach took two long strides and grabbed Rune’s arm before he could react.
“Uh, since you put it that way.” He pulled his arm away from the giant and followed Glaistig.
The Gray Lady smiled at him. “I’m so happy you agree. Bodach is Cailleach’s very faithful servant. I doubt he would take no for an answer.”
Rune nodded glumly. It looked like he was stuck for now. Still, it might be a good thing. This Cailleach might be able to help find Kat. But why would being a vampire all of a sudden be a good thing? He could sense that if he had not been a vampire, Bodach the giant, would now be crushing his skull between his two gigantic hands. And who was this goddess Cailleach? The name didn’t ring any bells.
Rune followed Glaistig, with Bodach close on his heels. Over the thumps of Bodach’s heavy footsteps, he heard the skittering sound of a small animal in the grass as they walked away.