The Nick Of Time
(and other Abrasions)
Tombs Of The Blonde Dead
The Nine Sisters
Al Bruno III
The hallways of Gurlich manor were littered with dead servants and broken finery, Lorelei stepped gingerly around both. When she glanced behind her she could see the Garden of Duchesses was on fire, doubtlessly braziers had been toppled in the mass panic but while the fire was growing in strength, the sounds of panic were dwindling as the guests fell to the ravenous appetites of the Nine Sisters of Kashchei.
Stepping over a bloodied butler Lorelei made her way up the stairs, her senses telling her this was where the trouble had started. It was the story of her whole damn life, if there was something terrible to be found it was either near the roof or the lowest sub-basement- dark forces rarely dawdled in the lobby. Glass crunched underfoot and she noticed that particular attention had been paid to the mirrors- while bones and memorabilia had been smashed with an almost casual brutality the mirrors had been shattered and re-shattered again until all that remained was dust.
But that made sense didn't it? The Nine Sisters of Kashchei were as vain as they were hungry- they couldn't bear the sight of what they had become.
What a world, Lorelei thought, even the demons live in denial.
She paused at the third floor and let her senses reach out across the realms of dream and magic. What she wanted was two more floors up. Lorelei started running, things, were already out of hand, too many souls had been lost forever. The stairs were grimy with chips of glass and splashes of blood.
A figure came at her from the shadows swinging an ax handle, Lorelei turned slipped in a puddle of warm red and felt the weapon connect with her leg. Her knee gave way with a sickening pop that was half sensation and half sound. When her assailant swung again she blocked the blow with her forearm but the pain of it left her numb from fingertips to elbow.
But that gave her time to kick.
And they thought these boots were just a fashion statement!
Lorelei planted her heel right in her attacker's gut. The ax handle clattered down the stairs. She was about to kick again when she felt a warm tuneless humming in her ears.
Now that they were finished with the final guests of Gurlich manor the Nine Sisters had moved on to the house. They flowed in through the doorway, their feast had returned the flesh of their adopted bodies to its former glories. They were all supple curves, inviting smiles and of course, blond hair but there was something hateful about their beauty now, their eyes were dull and doll-like, their skin flawless to the point of looking airbrushed.
Her attacker forgot everything and ran to them. "Beautiful!" he shouted, "More beautiful than life!"
It wasn't much of a distraction but it was all Lorelei had, favoring her useless leg she hopped the rest of the way up to the fifth floor, cursing under her breath with each step she cleared.
Larry Gurlich's study that was in no better shape than the rest of his kingdom; the bookshelves were toppled, the mirrors smashed, a telescope, a globe and dozens of rare baseball cards were scattered across the floor.
On the top of the desk there was a mummified hand, a black candle guttering in the center of the palm.
It was a Persephone Claw- the hand of a virgin that had been tortured to death. Just the thing for a layman sorcerer that didn't find a Hand of Glory gruesome enough. Lorelei swept it off the table, the flame went out but it was going to take more than that to break this spell.
The sound reached her ears again, the song of the Nine Sisters grasping at her soul, a normal human would have been dead already but Lorelei just felt dizzy. What was it going to take to send these things back? Or worse yet, what if she couldn't send them back?
Adept of the Seventh Circle or not, if she let these things get to close to her all the training and incantations in the world wouldn't matter.
Moving as one the Nine Sisters entered the room.
Suddenly Lorelei saw just what she needed. She retreated until she could get her hand around the telescope.
The Nine Sisters were drawing closer, cooing seductions and taunting her with soul with promises of oblivion.
Lorelei cracked the telescope in half over her good knee and spent a terrifying moment blundering through the bits and pieces that tumbled free.
Where is it?
Where is it?
Every telescope has a small mirror in it, and a small mirror was all she needed. The Nine Sisters of Kashchei were of looming over her. Lorelei held the two inch circle of polished metal and glass at eye level.
The first of the Nine caught her reflection and her face twisted into a scowl of disgust, the others tried to look away but the Nine rose as one and the Nine fell as one.
First the color, then the very substance of their bodies bled away until all that wasleft on the floor was rags and tatters. It was as horrible a sight as any other Lorelei had seen, she leaned on the antique desk for support and tried to catch her breath, tried to feel safe.
Footsteps approached, she looked up to see Audra DiMico and Judy Bauer staggering into the room, their faces ashen.
Lorelei gave them a grim smile, "What took you so long?"