Broof had driven himself and Lilith to within half a mile of the Wangshaft manor, and left his car parked on a completely normal-looking residential street. They could have driven right up to the gates, or at least around the corner for a quick getaway, but Broof thought it best that the pair approach the manor on foot.
Broof had opted for his darkest clothing, usually reserved for coven meets and human funerals, and was wearing a soft-soled pair of boots that barely made a whisper in the silence of the night. This was completely in contrast to his brightly-dressed journey mate. Lilith was humming to herself as she stomped boldly, and loudly, along the road beside him.
A bead of anxious sweat ran down Broof’s neck and he turned to face her, stopping her in her tracks. Gesturing to her feet he whispered, “Could you keep it down?”
She didn’t even glance down. “I’m only walking.”
“Must you do it so loudly.”
“Broof, get a grip. I’m simply a woman out for an evening stroll along a peaceful country road—”
“—to break into a mansion.”
Lilith folded her arms; her lips curled into what was more sneer than smile. “No one knows that. Besides, you are aware that you appear far more suspicious than I do, right? Dressed like that.”
Broof tugged at the rim of his hat haughtily. “It’s called ‘night camouflage’.”
“It’s called ‘looking like a pillock’.” Lilith snorted and continued walking, making an extra effort to ensure her steps echoed, it would seem.
“Please, Lilith.” Broof tucked his wayward curl back under the rim of his beanie with defiance. “I’m trying to avoid detection. I’ve got a lot riding on this, my reputation, my coven standing – it needs to go well.”
“It will be fine,” Lilith assured him, as the roof of the manor came into view over the crest of the hill and they were faced with an eight-foot-tall concrete wall.
The pair stared up at it for a while as somewhere in the distance an owl hooted.
“Do you need a leg up – oh shit!” Broof gasped as he turned to where Lilith had been standing only to be faced with a sightless demon.
“I can do it, thanks. I should be able to clear it in one jump, but only in this form.” She stepped towards the wall and flexed.
Lilith paused, turning her empty eye sockets towards him expectantly. Broof felt all the hairs stand up on his body. No matter how many times he saw her like that, he’d never get used to it.
He didn’t realise he’d been struck dumb with fear until she hissed, “What is it?”
Broof swallowed hard and tried to focus on the non-threatening fluffy yellow sweater she’d insisted on wearing to this stealth event and not her horrifying lack of face. “What about me?”
Lilith didn’t blink. Or maybe she couldn’t. “What about you?”
“How do I get over the wall.”
“You don’t. You wait there.”
“For the signal? Got it. What is the signal?”
Lilith licked her fangs, which seemed particularly menacing in her current form. “Signal?”
“The signal that tells me to come, or to go.”
“Oh for the love of… fine, I’ll, uh, text you.”
“That won’t work; I left my phone at the car. They can track them, you know, the police? When I was arrested over the whole Sandy affair they took all my gadgets. I spent a whole day having to account for every movement within the previous month—”
“We don’t need a signal.”
“Then how will I know if you run into trouble, or need help?”
Lilith made an annoyed little noise and clamoured back over the wall. “Broof, you are the last person I’d call if I needed help,” she sneered. “What would you do? Clean the Wangshafts to death?”
“You laugh, but hundreds of people die from inappropriate use of cleaning products each year.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I’m not. They’re deadly weapons in the right hands. Or should that be wrong hands?”
Lilith shook her head, a tiny smile teasing the corner of her lips which he’d have found quite enchanting, in different circumstances. He smiled back.
“Look, you’re bloody useless,” she began, and his face fell. “If this all goes wrong, it could go wrong spectacularly. Someone-might-die kind of wrong. So, unless you want it to be you, you’ll wait here.”
“But… what if someone comes?”
“Then you’ll casually stroll off and I’ll meet you back at the car.”
“At what time?”
“Bloody hell!” Lilith snarled. “How about four AM on Christmas morning?”
Broof flinched. Despite her fangs, general frostiness and the fact that she latched on to his neck daily, he often completely forgot that Lilith was a vampire. She didn’t switch forms often, a personal choice, she’d said. She had previously told him that the longer a vampire remained in their dark form, the less ‘human’ they became. And this ashen, seething creature before him was feeling less human by the second.
His heart pounded in his ears and sweat broke out all his body. He was genuinely quite terrified of his housemate, in that moment.
Lilith had her face turned towards his and he could feel the unrestrained poking she was doing around the crevices of his brain. He felt her linger in one spot – a bizarre, cold feeling that made him shudder – and watched her creep forwards, as if drawn to him…
A moment later she stopped abruptly.
“I didn’t mean to… scare you,” she whispered, taking a big step back. “You should stay here because….” she mumbled the rest and turned her face away.
“You don’t want me to get hurt?” he repeated. “Same. For you, I mean. Although it’s not that I think you can’t handle yourself…” he rambled.
Even though her face currently sported two empty sockets, Broof could’ve sworn he heard her eyes roll. She muttered something that this time he couldn’t make out and with the ease and grace of cat, she hopped up on to the wall. She paused at the top. Scanning, he thought, although he didn’t know which senses she might be using.
Dark magic ones, probably.
“Seems clear. You wait here,” she said, at a volume that was asking for trouble.
As if she was reading his thoughts – no, scratch that, he could feel her actually reading his thoughts, Lilith smiled down at him. “If you think I’m too loud,” would you prefer this?
Broof shuddered at this projection and the vampire laughed. When she spoke again, it was softer, quieter. “I won’t be long.”
Broof heard her land in the gardens, heard the tip-tap of her boots fade as she sprinted through the grounds towards the house. He wanted to follow her, but he was good with given orders and dutifully waited where he was told, with his thoughts for company.
She didn’t want him to get hurt. She cared about him.
Filled with joy, Broof rocked on his heels, surveying the empty road. Despite being deemed as useless and then almost crapping his trousers within the space of a few minutes, he’d never felt so full of purpose, so alive.
This was it. The adventure of his life began tonight.
This was the worst party Faith had ever been to, including April’s 18th, where she’d been strip searched, humiliated and booted from the premises. At least for that one she’d managed to steal a few bites of expensive food and slyly pinched Diego Lobo’s bum.
No such luck here.
The dorm was tired, as were most of its occupants. Faith had been under the illusion that the prestigious façade of the university was a cover for a hotbed of filth; full of young, virile men and long nights of drinking, partying and sleeping around. But this ‘raucous’ event she’d been promised was nothing but a few people drinking fruit punch and dancing a respectful distance apart to some bullshit music.
As with most places Faith went to lately, her allure was getting her plenty of attention. But these shy, awkward guys who blushed, and stammered and kept asking if she was ‘all right’ were as boring as all fuck. Even bolstered by the power of her pink fog, they didn’t dare do anything more risqué than ask if she preferred the cheese sandwiches or the ham ones.
The answer was ‘neither’. Both tasted of ash and made her want to puke.
Faith had never considered herself much of a food fanatic, but she really hated that nothing tasted like anything anymore.
Shit, what she’d give to be able to taste food, any food…
OK, maybe not any food.
Faith begrudgingly turned her attention from the buffet table back to Clifford, who’d probably never had a drink in life prior to this party, was swigging his glorified juice with gusto and was clearly shitfaced.
Faith swilled her own drink in her cup, not wanting to actually drink it because it also tasted like ash, while she half-listened to Clifford jabbering on about ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’, whatever-the-hell that was.
She’d just about reached the limit of her bored-o-meter and was considering cornering Clifford for a real drink, when a girl walked into the room.
The party was a nerdy dickfest, so the presence of another girl should’ve been instantly noticed, yet all the guys seemed to be going to great pains to ignore her, except for one.
“Hey Debbie, are you done?”
“Yes. Thanks again for letting me use your computer, little bro. I still can’t believe that mine died on the very day I needed to submit that report. I hope the client approves it; I have spent far too many nights labouring over that thing.”
“Maybe your dead laptop is a sign from the Watcher? She’s telling you to take a break,” he teased.
“Pfft. Grandpa Bill’s leg will break before I do.”
The pair laughed at what was clearly some private family joke.
“Here, let me get my jacket and I’ll walk you back.”
“No, don’t be daft! You’re hosting, it’d be rude. Besides, it’s only a fifteen-minute walk to the station; I’ll be fine.”
“Do you even know the way?”
“No, but Booble does,” she smiled while patting the phone in her pocket.
“Hm. We can’t be too careful now, not with the Butcher on the loose.”
The girl flicked her hair. “It’s obvious that he only likes teenaged students and I’m not a teenager or a student. Nothing will happen to me, Dirk. I walked over here OK, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but you should have called me!”
“I’ll call you when I get back home. You stay here and enjoy your party.”
“I don’t know,” Dirk said, clearly torn between his buddies and his sister. “I have a bad feeling…”
Debbie ruffled Dirk’s hair and grinned at him. “You’ve always got a bad feeling. I told you not to eat dairy.”
“I had one cheese sandwich.”
“Busted!” she grinned. “Honestly, I’ll be fine.”
“No… let me get my jacket, you can’t walk back alone—”
Faith did a quick scan of the girl from her head to her toes. Fair, young, sort of pretty, she supposed, if you were into that natural, boho vibe. But regardless, she had tits and blonde hair, so if there was a thirsty vampire man-child roaming the campus tonight, he’d definitely be interested in Debbie.
And if the butcher turned out be a regular old serial killer, Faith would be interested in him.
“Did I overhear that you’re heading to the train station?” Faith asked, to which Debbie nodded. “Hey, me too – shall we walk together?”
Debbie, who didn’t seem appalled by Faith’s appearance in the slightest, beamed. “Yes! There you go, Dirk; you don’t need to leave your party, and neither of us ‘fragile ladies’ need to walk alone, win-win.”
Dirk looked between the girls with a wary expression. “I… I guess so. You’ll call me? The second you get home?”
“The very second. I promise.” Debbie turned to Faith. “Thanks for doing this. Hi, I’m Debbie.”
“No way! What an awesome name! Violet. So much cooler than ‘Deborah’. I have never forgiven my mum for naming me so poorly. ‘Deborah, Deborah; it never suited ya’,” she sang. “Hey, are you sure you’re ready to go now? You and the guy in the vest seem to be mid-conversation.”
“…and that’s when they tried to prove it using semistable elliptic curves…”
“I’m ready,” she muttered.
Broof had been waiting at the wall, like a sentry, for about ten minutes. He had a good stare going with the knots in a nearby tree that somewhat resembled Sandy’s face. He was lost in a fantasy scenario that he’d grown some balls and stood up to her, imagined the bark of the tree forming an expression of extreme displeasure as he told her he was outing her to the press.
“You should have done it. You still could.”
“Lilith?! You nearly scared me to death. What’s wrong?! Are we aborting?” he asked in a frantic whisper as he jolted from his daydream.
She shook her head, reverting to her other form. “I’m done. Let’s get out of here.”
“What happened?” Broof asked, matching her pace as she strolled nonchalantly down the street.
“Was she not home? Could you not get in?”
“I got in and she was home.”
“Did she see you?” he asked, panic gripping him by throat as he poised to flee. “Should we run.”
“No, it was fine.”
“It was… fine?”
“Yes, I’ve done it. I’ve got the route.”
Lilith turned to face him, her patience clearly wearing thin. “It was fine. I did it. I read Beth’s mind and I’ve seen the route.”
She carried on walking and Broof stared after her, still wondering if he’d misheard.
“…You’ve only been gone ten minutes.”
“I was hardly going to hang around to polish the silver, was I?”
Lilith strolled on and Broof watched after her, still confused. “I don’t understand.”
Lilith let out an annoyed little noise and pivoted on her heel to face him. “What’s there to not understand?” she snapped.
“You… you’ve done it? Already?”
“Yes!” Lilith carried on walking, leaving Broof no choice but to follow. “It’s about two hundred miles east by south east from here. We can drive as far as Willow Creek, but we’ll need to travel on foot from there. The village is unwelcoming to strangers, so we’ll need to be prepared for traps and snares, possibly of the magical kind. I’m hoping that with my heightened senses and you being a learned witch – even a crap one – we should be able to navigate them. I could make it in two days, but we’ll call it three as you’ll need to sleep, I suppose.”
“Lilith. Wait a second.”
Lilith stopped again and turned back. Her voice was surprisingly gentle. “Look, Broof, you really don’t have to come with me.”
“Oh, no I want to! And I will. I’m just having a little trouble comprehending what has just happened, is all.”
“Give me strength…”
“You broke in to the manor and simply got the route?”
“…You got into a locked mansion, with no resistance…”
“The window was open.”
“…And you found the High Priestess…”
“Yes. She was passed out on the sofa, just inside.”
“You’re sure it was the High Priestess?”
“It was Beth. Unless there’s another curly-haired former swamp witch hanging around here.”
“And then you… scanned her head?”
“Broof, what part of this are you not getting?”
“The part where she stayed asleep,” he confessed. “Even now I can feel you lurking on the fringes of my mind, Lilith. I don’t understand how anyone could sleep through that.”
Lilith flicked her gaze away, awarding him some respite. “The woman has a full-time job and an infant. She babysits that old crone Wangshaft and she leads a coven full of, evident, morons. She’s exhausted.”
Broof couldn’t help but feel a wave of guilt at this explanation. He vowed that, once this was over, he’d offer to babysit for the High Priestess. If he wasn’t banished or dead by that point, of course.
“So… you’ve really done it? You’ve got the directions to the swamp?”
“Broof, you’re getting on my nerves…”
“Sorry, sorry. Only, I expected it to be little more… well, guard dogs if not some sort magical barrier, us fleeing for our lives, hearts pumping and, well… more exciting…”
“You’ve spent too much time in Movie Land,” Lilith scoffed. “Not everything has to be a huge drama. Now, stop dawdling. If we ride this luck we’ll be in the swamp by Sunday.”
“So, everything is fine? It’s actually fine?”
“Yes. Everything is fine.”
6 thoughts on “Chapter 4.06 – Night Camouflage”
I love seeing Broof and Lilith together. They are currently my favorite couple.
Well Broof is really annoying in Lilith’s eyes but still she has some kind of care for him… I mean she could make him passive as easy as snapping her finger.
I’m sure these are some very relevant questions that Broof is asking Lilith and he will be hopeless to save her, but his concern warms my heart.💕
Maybe there is some of the action I have forgotten. I’m with so far that Faith finds herself at a college in Britechester and she’s preoccupied with finding a killer, whose left traces give an association to Caleb.
I forgot the time interval. Did she just arrive or how did she survive until now?
There are all kinds of outcomes hidden in that walk home in the company of Debbie. Besides Caleb, up to several of the party’s participants seem quite suspicious. Agatha Christie go home 😏😅
NB: I forgot to write. “Everything is fine” is definitely the most suspicious phrase 😆
Only when I say it. 😉
He might be useless, now, but he wasn’t always that way so who knows? With the power he has left, he may be able to save her after all…
Oh, so Faith arrived in Britechester earlier this day. And yes, she’s bored already. 😆
“several of the party’s participants seem quite suspicious” especially that one in the beige shirt and glasses who was dancing through the wall. I’m sure time will tell who is lurking in those shadows.
Very bright and eye-catchy outfit indeed. Then again, if you can control people’s minds and maybe even take memories from them (can she? I can’t remem- hm. Well.), maybe it doesn’t matter too much what you’re wearing.
Poor Broof, being ditched at the doorstep. I want to say Lilith shouldn’t have brought him along, but I’m pretty sure that he insisted on taggling along himself. Aw, look at that smiley face over him deducing she cares about him. He really is a bit like a puppy. Adventure of his life, huh? Butlering for Sandy must have been quite boring if standing outside a burglary is the most adventurous he’s been in a while.
Heh. Ah yes, the Invisible Sister agreement between friends. I can imagine them all looking everywhere but at her when she enters 😆 Faith is pretty spot-on there; the girl has a chest and blonde hair and that’s all Caleb seems to care for, if it is Caleb that’s killing all of those girls. Heh, I wonder if Clifford even remembers her walking out on him mid-conversation tomorrow morning 😂
Hmm. That’s a whole lot that Lilith isn’t sharing there, unless Beth really was asleep or something and she can read sleeping people’s minds. But then again, we know that Beth is a witch as well as a mum with a toddler. Somehow I find it very unlikely that both sides of her wouldn’t have noticed Lilith.
Yes. Everything is fiiiiiiine.
Exactly; if you’re going to caught robbing a brain, may as well look good while you do it. Can she take memories? Good question. All the vampires work a little a differently in how they can do things like this, but she does have ways to obtain what she wants here, yes. Lilith has her reasons for ensuring that Broof comes along, don’t you worry. I’m sure he’ll have the time of his life. 😬
The Invisible Sister agreement has a name? I’m so glad someone understood what was happening there. ‘…if it is Caleb that’s killing all of those girls’ hey now, we have no evidence that any of them are dead. We have no evidence that they’re alive either, granted. I can assure you that Clifford was fine. He slept off his 2 cups of punch in a bush, and still tells everyone about his wild night with the mystery student to this very day.
Lilith? Hiding something? Sounds unlikely.