The vampire is lost in memory.
This is happening more and more often, she thinks.
No matter where she is, now matter how far away she is, she who is now called Bathory in this loud and fast time always knows where the Nile is. It’s over in the east and low in winter. No matter how fast time has started to run in the last few centuries, the Nile has remained slow and regular. It rises, it floods, it retreats. Year after year. Century after century. Millennia after millennia.
When she is successful and her empire of blood spreads over the world, she will return to Egypt. It has been so long.
So few of the old blood left there now, after all the invasions. The invasions were also regular. They flooded through The Land and then retreated. The Hyksos. The Sea People. The Persians.
And then it changed. It changed when the bright shining one appeared. One of those odd happenings of history that the loud barbarians of Greece could produce such a one as Alexander. She had spent the last few centuries living in a necropolis in the Valley of the Queen, with occasional visits to the Magi of Ahriman in Persia, but even hidden away there, she sensed his approach. Like she always senses the approach of the Sun Barge each morning.
And then he went to Oracle of Amun, out in the oasis of Silwa. And returned wearing the horned crown. Then she knew this Alexander was something different. That something new was happening. Something new in The Land where there was never anything new.
It had been a very long time since she had felt fear. She hated the feeling. The feeling was a goad. It drove her to shake off the lassitude of centuries and she began to rebuild in the darkness the old worship of Set. She moved again in the night, in the world of humans.
Alexander moved east, conquering all before him. Her agents moved with his armies. She took in the Persian refugee magi who spoke of the burning of Persepolis and learned their magic. Conversed with their demons.
And then the light went out. Alexander died. She felt the same relief as she felt every day when the Sun is eaten by the Serpent. Had he lived… There would have been so much Light and her life and the lives of her kind would have become very difficult.
And now she is involved in the world. She stays awake to watch how events unfold. Worshippers continue to attend her temples as the Greeks become the new rulers of The Land. But they are the same as the rest. They are awed by the weight of Time along the Nile and bow to its demands. They take on the role of Pharaoh.
She remembers the last of their line. The last daughter. And she smiles at how history remembers that daughter’s death. Oh, yes, it was a serpent at the bosom, but it was not death that the serpent delivered. And the serpent was not a serpent but rather she who is now called Bathory.
Oh, that daughter was a wonderful addition to her court. So ambitious, beautiful, intelligent. The vampire thinks for a minute and remembers her name: Cleopatra.
Behind the curtains, behind the tightly latched shutters, the sun pounds down onto the tower. Even in the winter, the North African sun is strong. But here, she’s safe.
Then she looks up from where she sits at the table with its strewn maps. Pulled from her fugue by a distant sensation. She smiles in pleasure at the taste of fear and pain. “ Soon, little priest, soon I will taste your blood.” She looks forward to the occasion. It will be good to destroy that priest with his walking statues. They have proven themselves to be tenacious and annoying. But twigs such as them cannot stand against the flood. The crimson flood that will soon cover the world.
Illana moves forward at Bathory’s words, attentive and ready to serve. “Mistress?”
“Nothing, I was merely talking to myself.” Bathory pushes aside the maps and the reports. These Germans, nothing is real to them until it is pinned down on paper. She pushes back the heavy chair and gets to her feet. “Come now. The day is advanced and I will sleep.” Then she pauses, realizes that she’s in the mood for something more than sleep. “But first… tell me, where is Sturmbannführer Von Regensberg?”
Camilla comes up behind and drapes Bathory’s long black coat over her shoulders. “He mentioned that he was going to visit Schefflen in the lab.”
“Find him and bring him to my room.” Bathory looks at her other handmaiden. “And, Illana, prepare one of the prisoners.”
The two lovely monsters answer in unison. “At once, mistress.”