1. The Vampire Variations: "Semi-Sisters
Let's be clear from the outset that Solace (Sorciere)
born Sunrise become Sundown (unofficially), Scylla (Fisherwoman)
born Nereid become Auranja (officially), and Barsine (Barstool)
Mandam are not sisters. Let's also be clear that Barsine is not Sorciere
or Fisherwoman's prisoner. She's tagging along because they've become
friends. As for how they get through the Tholos Tomb for Pygmies to
the Totem Pool or Wishing Hell, it involves Young Death, which means it's
both disgusting and almost identical to here.
I won't enlighten you as to what becomes of some of the others who
made it to Sedon's Head with our titular Semi-Sisters
Three.That's because there's a whole other
set of variations currently being serialized out here on
the Web featuring a few of them. Well, all right, not wanting
to be accused of speciism, if that's a word or how to spell it, I should
mention that Delphi,
Fish's psychopomp, came through Young Death too.
She then transports them up north to a Witch Shelter situated within
the Gypsium Wall or Curtain. Most of its inhabitants are Iraches, of
which more below. As for what they see, staked
out, once they get there ...
Lamiae were once women who died giving birth. They survived on soul-stuff for the most part. Which was why they hung
around battlefields and graveyards after death. Once a month,
on the Full Moon, they needed something more substantial. Like
their vampiric kin they needed blood. Only they fed on the blood
of children [newborns right up to the eve of their fifth birthdays,
give or take, depending the degree of their digestive desperation].
well as vampires, lamiae were somewhat akin to gorgons, the snake-haired,
gawk-eyed, toothsome terrors of ancient -- and not just Mediterranean
-- mythologies. Supposedly they couldn't stare-stone anyone. But
their mere appearance could be heart-stopping.
Although understandably, given the way they came about their
existential extension, all were women, they took a variety of
forms. Between-space they were comparable to the Hindu Nagas,
winged wyrms with cobra-cowled, horned, Medusa-like heads and scaly but otherwise
human torsos, complete with breasts.
As such their likenesses, often without the fully female aspects
of their upper bodies, had been depicted all over the antique
world, including decorations like this one found inside sarcophagi containing Egyptian pharoahs. Which
was no doubt the real reason why mummy became
the common term for such things.
Someone else they see, as well as see through,
is the Cheyenne Shaman Manitoulin (Shamanitoulin),
Solace Sunrise's likely father and a Wayfarer in the Wild Weird whom
we haven't come across since Manoeuvres.
of a century old or damn near, the sightless man was quite the sight.
Wiry rather than frail, he was also steel-grey rather than steel-eyed
due to the fact his eyes were blindfolded with a leather strap. His
lips were rouged; a blood-red third eye was outlined inside a black
triangle in the centre of his forehead; and black and white stripes
not unlike chevrons were drawn on his cheek.
He was dressed in white buckskin leggings and moccasins, a sleeveless
buffalo cloak or 'star blanket' with the fur turned outwards,
and a buffalo hat or 'issiwun' with the horns pointing up.
Although he wore a multi-layered, multi-coloured beaded necklace across
his chest, his perhaps surprisingly muscular arms were bare; had animalistic
or fetishistic symbols etched up and down them.
While he was not about to wrassle a bear or outrace a deer anymore,
he still looked capable of hiking his native Rocky Mountains, if not
exactly running up them as he did in his youth. He had a leather 'wampum
pouch' filled with not even Sorciere knew what strapped about
his waist and carried what he called a Speaking Stick. It was quite
grotesque, a spear with the severed head of a huge raven impaled atop
it and black feathers collaring underneath it.
What's the scoop? Glad you asked.
A Master Deva by the name of Krepusyl Evenstar (the Grey Lady of the
Grey Land of Twilight) has threatened to shut down access to and from
the Hidden Headworld. She could do it, too. Both Fish and Sorciere have
daughters on this side of the Dome. They've come inside in hopes of
bringing them outside. Their first stop is here, the Witch Shelter adjacent
to Free Iraxas on the Cattail Peninsula, where
Sorciere's daughter by John Sundown (Shahiyeda or Shah) was born and
is being raised.
Thinking Shah an incarnation of their devic goddess, Nergal Vetala,
Manitoulin and Sorciere's people, the Iraches, have been worshipping
her. They're wrong. Vetala has been incarnated inside of Barsine Mandam.
Her two friends know it. So does Barstool (sometimes aka Sunshine or
Sandbar), hence her volunteering to accompany Fish and Sorciere. Could
be a trade's in the wind. Except, well, Shah isn't there, is she? Her
grandmother's taken her to safety somewhere. A living child is there,
however. Her name's Thea.
Without going into too many details, the
staked-out and consequently dead-again lamia has a name. We've heard
of her before because she had highly significant son and died having
a pretty impressive Summoning Child who featured prominently in VamVar's
three predecessor serials: Manoeuvres, Helioddity and Curse. Sorciere's mom -- that'd be Shah's grandmother --
is also a lamia. According to Manitoulin, in her hoot owl form she's
taken Shah to refuge on the heart-shaped Island of Shenon in the Head's
Interior Ocean of Akadan, which is ruled by yet another lamia. She died
having this Thea.
Oh yes, again according to Manitoulin, Barsine
Mandam's mother of record wasn't her mother of reality. Her mother of
reality was the same person Etzel Sangati (Count Molech) believed throughout Manoeuvres was Virginia Mannering's mother of reality. (In
case you missed it in Kore-1,
we'll get confirmation of her identity a couple of chapters from now.)
As for Barsine's mother of record, well:
"Let's not forget why we came here," [Fish fin-finished.]
"To save our kids," recalled Sorciere conversationally.
"Those of us who have kids to save."
"Save the world more like it," countered Fish. "Let's
gather up Shah on Shenon then head over to Godbad and pick up my water
daughter from Achigan's court. If we can't stop Lady Mist we should
be able to spout out through my old buddy, Island Leviathan."
Lady Mist was one of the many names used by
Krepusyl of Crepuscule, the devic overlord, over-lady rather, of the
Land of Twilight on the other side of the Hidden Continent. Her fancy-filled
but by no means fanciful faeries used Island Leviathan as their link
way to the Outer Earth. Used as in, maybe, used to use by now.
"You've a buddy who's an Island?" Barsine gasped.
"A whale actually. It's a dugong-long story but I gather I was
born inside him. Born, not hatched. At least I think it's a him. You
"Guess I better. Don't know what else to do with myself."
"I do," ventured Battlescar
[who'd helped train both Fish and Sorciere in the War-Witch Sisterhood
of Mediterranean Athena] .
"Oh, do you?" scowled Barsine, showing her fangs again.
"And what, may I ask, might that be?"
"Since we're going to same place, how about I let the Aortic
tell you herself?"
The aging Athenan still had problems with daytime vamps. Then again
young Mandam wasn't a vampire. Certainly not yet and hopefully would
never become one. Skewering Sorciere with a moon-sickle might be forgivable,
though. Two birds with one stone was another rewarding thought, even
if one of them was a bat.
"Hey, why not? Not every daughter's a mom who's a soul leach."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Sunshine," Sorciere said anyhow.
"Seems there's at least two others right here, me and Thea."
Recall: This subsection of VamVar is entitled 'Blood Beast Moms'!
Vampire Variations: "Burial Plot Thickening"
For the future reference purposes of not just VamVar, it behoves
me to commence this synoptic spiel with a gold-mining box.
Iraches were related to the Pre-Columbian natives of North, Central and
South America. They called their Headworld homeland Iraxas. However,
by 5938 YD virtually everyone else living on Sedon's Head had
been calling it Hadd for hundreds of years. They did so primarily
because the Cloud of Hadd, an incredibly thick, ever-rainless,
sun-shielding, omnipresent and very much atmospheric cloud, had
been completely covering their realm for just as long.
What caused the unceasing cloud cover? Mother Nature, some said.
Mother Vetala, others said. Same difference, Iraches said.
Resolutely primitive, for the most part Hadd's Iraches of the
60th Century of the Dome remained hunter-gatherer throwbacks to
the Stone Age. Proud of it, they had never taken to devils; had,
at best, provided only lukewarm adherence to the Byronics who
ruled Iraxas before Nergal Vetala came along during the Expansion
of the Empire of Lathakra in the Dome's 48th Century.
They had never forgiven the Moloch Sedon for turning their once
sea-soaked land into his Headworld. Truth was the onetime, absolutely
immense archipelago of Pacifica, the Places of Peace as well as
Pieces, was their realm long before the Genesea; long before devils
came to the Whole Earth; and long before the hated scientists
of Old Eden turned it into their private laboratory, their zoo
and the consequential repository for their failed genetic experimentations.
Mother Earth was their lone god. She demanded irrigating blood.
Even though she was more than half a millennium away from becoming
a vampire at the time, so did Vetala. Call her cunning, call her
conniving, call her pandering, call her evil if you must. Call
her also bountiful, for that was once again what Iraxas became.
Until the Byronics decided to take back what was once theirs,
More than six and a half centuries after the Empire of Lathakra,
of which Vetala was a vassal, reached its peak circa Year of the
Dome 4825, they returned from Godbad. Returned en masse; with
their armies, their marines, their navies to block access to Akadan,
their modern metal armour, and most of all their guns. Iraches
had never used anything except sticks, stones, spears, atlatls,
bows and arrows. Were helpless in the face of this second invasion
of their by then 90% recovered land.
In response to the onslaught of the resurgent Byronics, one or
the other male Nergalid -- unless it was all three of them [the Planter, the Grower and
the Reaper], not
that Vetala's moon sickle was much use against stone -- dug tunnels
through the Diluvian Mountains such that the Iraches could flee
to the north.
Coming out Cheek-side of the mountains,
they were quickly engaged by Mithrants armed similarly to the
Byron Spawn. Some kept going. Some battled back home [to what
would thereafter become known as Hadd], where they stayed, or
else dispersed either to the east, onto the Cattail Peninsula
[Free Iraxas], or to the west, into the Subcontinent of Aka Godbad
The Year of the Dome was 5492. That made it the same year, on
the Outer Earth, that the Spaniards under Columbus 'discovered' the Americas. The result wasn't much different either. The Iraches
were conquered, enslaved or slaughtered, their resources plundered,
their religion suppressed, and their free-spirited lifestyle forever
Here's the queer, as a certain
little devil child who doesn't appear in VamVar tends to say:
Sorciere's sympathies lie with the put-upon Iraches of both Old Iraxas
(Hadd) and New Iraxas, now the sole petroleum-producing province of
Greater Godbad. The main problem with living Iraches is that they don't
just worship their ancestors. They have them over for tea and scones.
Yes, ambulatory Dead Things, as animated by Vetala's abundant azuras,
proliferate in both Hadd and New Iraxas.
Even worse, though, the real powers in both places are vampires. Their
overlord is Janna Fangfingers,
whose story was first told in PREGAME-Gambit. Athenan War Witches, the likes of Sorciere,
Fish and Battlescar, make a living wiping out vamps. As the latest incarnation
of Nergal Vetala, Barsine should be their natural enemy. She isn't,
hence the exchange that commences VamVar-2:
"Who's War Famous?" wondered Barstool. This after they
had reached Shenon via their stepping stones and Battlescar brought
the to-them shocking news that Sorciere's youngster, Shahiyeda, was
no longer, if she had been ever-recently, on the heart-shaped Island;
that this War Famous must therefore have felt her granddaughter's
safety was best attained elsewhere.
"My mother, obviously," said Sorciere. "I gather Louise
is Old French for War Famous."
"What's Old French for bait?" had to ask Fisherwoman. It
was another of her culinary cracks.
War Witches weren't fishing for her. Besides, that joke would have
been too obligatory to make. They were fishing for revenge, however.
[Revenge for the bat-attack that Manitoulin, Battlescar and her Athenans
repelled prior to our Semi-Sisters
Three arriving in the Witch Shelter within the Gypsium Curtain that
morning.] All Ants, even Aths, were sisters. Made lousy bait, though.
So did wyrms [as in lamiae].
"Barsine!" The joke may have been on her but, even though
she was the one to respond, young Mandam wasn't feeling gracious.
Was anything except laughing.
Nor were Battlescar, Sorciere or Fish. Laughter was not the aquatic's
aim. Irony was!
Thus Barsine Mandam acquires yet another sobriquet,
one to go with Barstool, Sandbar and Sunshine. It is, naturally, 'Bat-bait'.
She hopes it doesn't stick, especially in the form of a stake through
her heart (though, as previously noted,
thanks to who she has, unless it's the other way around, she's survived
something just as ordinarily fatal.)
And, in case you missed it earlier, the
one who really wants to apply the stake, because she now realizes Barsine
has Nergal Vetala, is Fish and Sorry's former 'sergeant',
the Athenan taskmaster they regard as their tormentor from youthful
training days. (Recall Fish and Sorry are still teenagers. Scar could
be all of thirty, if that.) She's the first one who speaks in this excerpt.
"If you'll let me finish," said Battlescar (who looks
"Finish freely, Scar," allowed Sorciere, then couldn't
resist adding: "Even if you are Chinese, doll."
"Samarandin, Metisse," all-but-spat the aging Athenan,
her train of thought completely lost.
"It's a an old joke, Scar," placated Fish, recognizing
the danger signals, which accounted for why she'd ceased fishifying.
"Finns are an Outer Earth race the same as the Chinese. Samarandins
look like Orientals just as Iraches look like Native Americans."
"First Nations People," corrected Sorciere.
"Have it your wave. Anyhow, Finnish is their language. Sorciere's
sense of humour is a little, um, obscure."
"Trust Fish," smiled Barsine, who was modestly more creative
than the others. "She knows about fins."
"And I know an insult when I hear one," countered Battlescar,
tensing unmistakeably. "China Dolls are notoriously fragile.
Just like three year olds."
"Enough, sister," spoke one of the
weirdest of all the Weird's many wraiths, as she manifested herself
out of the Weird itself. "Begone this instant."
"At once, Aortic."
It was a nick-of-time appearance. Gave Battlescar the opportunity
to stepping-stone-leave with her dignity intact rather than tacked
into a pine box along with the rest of her.
War Witches never attacked fellow Athenans. Just wasn't done. Sorciere
was on the verge of doing just that, though. Fish wasn't altogether
certain that wasn't Scar's plan from of the beginning. Her reference
being to Sorry's missing Shah, why else would the over-the-hill taskmaster
provoke Sorciere in such a blatant fashion?
Then again Fish had a suspicious mind. Could be quite intuitive.
Was, perhaps not surprisingly, prone to what she herself described
as oceans of notions. Was having at least a lake or two of them right
now. Unless it wasn't meant as a provocation. Was meant as a warning.
But, about whom?
Maybe this one: Barsine's step-mother!
As you might have figured out from its title, VamVar-2 is similar to Odd-5 and VolVar-4 in that it
positively reaks of subplots.
I summarized most of the 'burial plots' above when I made mention of a few of the unburied dead or undead beings subplot-populating VamVar. To close, here's a different plot thickening portent,
one that has to do with the altogether alive.
Wave was the nickname Fish used to refer to her otherwise personally
never-named four year old. King Achigan [Auranja], the Bandradin-descended
Summoning Child who nominally ruled Godbad, albeit via his older relatives
and their advisers, called her Winifred, which meant much the same
In terms of birthdays, Wave was born in late 5933, which was early
1934 on the Outer Earth. The Magdalene's Thea was born some months
earlier, on April 13, 1933 to be precise. As it happened this was
the same day, Good Friday out there, that Aranyani Nightingale and
Gloriella D'Angelo were born in Rome.
By contrast, Sorciere's Shahiyeda was born on what was the Autumnal
Equinox of '34 on both sides of the Dome. Fish had been there and
so had Morgianna Somata, Master Kyprian's great granddaughter and
Nereid's fellow student at the Mariamnic Sisterhood's Twilight Institute
in Tenebrife-Knockma. The former had left the infant Wave with her
dad in Godbad in order to go looking for Morg while the latter was
doing exactly the same thing Sorciere was doing at the time. Giving
So, have the Trigregos Sisters finally been
reborn? A better question might be: Did Aortic Magdalene have a reason,
other than it sounded nice, for calling her daughter Thea? I'm going
to answer 'yes' to the second question. I'm going to go further than that. I'm going
to say that, like yours and mine do or did, Thea's mom wants the best
for her daughter (or son).
And, if the best for her daughter is to be a Great Goddesss Incarnate,
might she not want to eliminate potential competitors such as little
girls from other verifiable threesomes? Could that be why 'War
Famous' (in life Louise nee Riel St Synne)
didn't bring Shah to Shenon? For fear its lamia of an Aortic might be feeling somewhat peckish?
That's why I keep writing, and you keep reading,
the PHANTACEA Mythos. Answers
may sometimes be slow in coming but come they do, eventually.
Vampire Variations: "Grave Gravy"
So why did I refer to Aortic Magdalene as one of the weirdest of all the Weird's many wraiths? Perhaps I should
properly identify her before I answer that.
In life she was Mary Magdalene born Ryne become Mandam (old Joe's wife).
As first detailed in Manoeuvres and as repeated, howsoever
suggestively and howsoever often, in its continuations (Helioddity and Curse), she died on April 13, 1933. That would be the same
day, Good Friday out there, and probably to the second, that Aranyani
Nightingale and Gloriella D'Angelo were born in Rome.
That the Magdalene died giving birth to Thea we've already determined.
She wouldn't be a lamia if she hadn't. That Thea's was a phantom pregnancy, and the Magdalene
had herself a phantom midwife (Granny Garuda), that was detailed
in VamVar-1 and will be
reconfirmed in VamVar-5. If a phantom pregnancy and a phantom midwife
don't qualify her as one of the world's weirdest wraiths, I'll eat my
weird-writer credentials -- with salt!
Mandam may have been her Summoning Child. So too might have been Virginia
Mannering. Even though she looked somewhat like her mother, Athena born Kinesis, Barsine Mandam probably wasn't her daughter. Beyond that
I don't care to comment at this time.
"Magdalene?" asked Solace born Sunrise.
"Mother Mary?" queried Barsine Mandam.
"Lady Lamia, Sandbar," Fish corrected young Mandam.
"I plead guilty to everything but the maudlin Mother Mary bit,"
said the ghostly newcomer. "Sorry, Sunshine. Sorry to you too,
Scylla. As for your mother, Solace, War Famous has taken your Shahiyeda
to what she considers safety."
"So Scar told us. Where?"
"To a devic protectorate. To your actual
mother I'm assuming, Barsine. To Moorset -- to Olympias nee Sangati
That confirms that then. Shouldn't need to remind
you what Olympias will
have become or why, at the top of the page, I've
scanned in Gericault's 'Le Radeau de la Meduse' from a postcard
I bought at the Louvre in Paris back in the late Spring of 2004. The
mouse-over does read: "Barsine's birthmother,
Olympias Sangati Kinesis, is a Lamia Medusa" after
So what else should I tell you? Well, for one thing, the Magdalene
would like the girl she brought up as her own, even though she looked
nothing like supposed brother Jesse, to stay with her on Shenon, where
she can look after her. Hmm ...
"What of it, Sunshine? Even if you go back outside, Fangs'll
track you down sooner or later."
[NOTE: Fangs, more correctly Second Fangs, is the aforementioned Janna Fangfingers, the Marutian-born, vampiric overlord of vamps in both Hadd and New Iraxas. The assumption the Magdalene's making is that Fangs isn't about to give up her overlordship voluntarily.]
"How'll she know I'm the one who has Vetala?"
"She'll know. Trust me on that too. Shenon's a fortress. As
much as it frustrates me I'm already bringing Aths [Athenan War Witches]
over from their Ventricle to reinforce my Ants [Antheans]. You'll
be safest here."
"You said I was the trap. I took that to mean you think I can
handle her. Why's that? I've no training."
"The Nergalid [Nergal Vetala] won't let Fangs take you. Sorry,
but it's as simple as that. The greater danger to you is ambush. As
much as she'd like to turn you, make Vetala her own selfmade-vamp,
Fangs'll have no qualms about hiring assassins to shoot you down in
cold blood, if you'll pardon the pun."
In part because Barsine's picking up what might be termed 'bad
vibes' from the Magdalene, she opts to stick with Fish and Sorry.
It's Fish that starts this exchange. She's questioning the eating habits
of lamiae. The Magdalene responds with a bit more humour. It helps to
keep lamiae human, she claims.
"You don't inhume whole souls, I hake-take it."
"Just a smidgen. We may be wyrms but we peck like pigeons. Wouldn't
want to take in whole souls anyhow. They don't grow on trees, you
know? Well, maybe you don't but take my word for it. Otherwise even
vegetarians would eventually starve to death." [As already established,
in life the Magdalene was a vegetarian. Members of the life-loving
Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea rarely eat meat.]
"There is that, I grant you," granted Fish. "Well,
thanks all the same for the hospitality, but I'm off. Got a Wave to
"So've I," said Sorciere. "As in a daughter to catch
"Sunshine?" asked the Magdalene.
"Sorry, mom. If you don't mind me still calling you that?"
"Not at all, darling."
"Good. Wonder what my real mom will call me once I meet her?"
"You're going looking for Olympias too?"
"We're going looking for Shahiyeda, as I comprehend it. Seems
Shah's with War Famous who's with ... what does Olympias mean?"
"Something to do with the mountain, I guess," ventured
Sorciere. "Unless it's the Games."
"Mountain Games doesn't have quite
the ring to it that War Famous does, but who am I to complain?"
"Go then. And with my blessings." allowed the Magdalene
magnanimously. "Truth told, I didn't relish the notion of having
a mini war between the Living and Dead right here in my own Aorta."
"No, I guess you wouldn't, mom. You might end up choosing the
So it is our Semi-Sisters Three
leave Shenon, via Delphi,
Fish's psychopomp, albeit not until the next day. (It's always better
to travel in daytime when you're trying to avoid vamps and possibly
untrustworthy lamiae.) They go to the Isle of the Undying One, aka Tympani,
in the midst of Sedon's Ear, where Fish is determined to leave Sorry
and Bat-Bait until she has time to go and gather up her Wave over in
If you're afraid you're going to miss her and her famous 'fishisms',
not to worry, she'll be back; if not here then in that whole other
set of variations currently being serialized out here on
the Web. In the meantime, while on the subject of humour and
by way of a howsoever temporary goodbye, what follows is a highly portentious
excerpt featuring Fish fishifying at its opening
more likely, though the shoal. Life-loving Ants fish-hooked up with
Haddazur Zombies and Barsine here is all the bat-bait the witches
needed to snag Fangs' cooperation. Machiavelli couldn't have come
scupper-up with anything better."
"You're trying real hard not to be convinced."
"If pigs could fry-fly ..."
"Yeah?" Sorciere interrupted. Couldn't resist saying: "Pigs
could fry-fly if they were bitten by a vamp."
"Porcine bats," groaned young
Mandam. "What a totally disgusting notion!"
"Shell-come to the Headworld, Barstool."
Who's the real villain in all of this so far? Don't be too sure it's
the Magdalene. Better to be a goose and have a gander at one of my mini-essays
then come back to me, via email,
and venture an opinion. Myself, I'll be reading ahead.
Vampire Variations: "Tympanic
Should state at the outset that the 'tympanic' in the title refers to Eardrum Island. It's in the midst of the Aural
Sea, Sedon's Ear on a map of the Hidden Headworld. As for the'memories' bit, that's because, among the many absent folks discussed herein, do
include Memory of
the Angels, whom
we last encountered in Kore-15 alongside a certain crow creature, also discussed.
Guess that means most of those discussed will be reappearing shortly.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Wouldn't want to speculate, would I?
Even though nothing much happens, I have to admit I rather enjoyed re-reading 'Tympanic Memories'. You
should too, if you haven't done so already. It's one of those heavy-on-the-humour,
treading-water while you catch-your-breath kind of chapters.
There's enough in it, though, that by its end
we should be licking our collective fangs (as in smacking our lips anticipatorily)
in the near-certain realization it'll soon be dogs-of-war
time. I know I was and I wrote it.
Treading water's an apt metaphor since VamVar-4 features Sorciere and Barstool waiting
for the ever-fishifying Fish to return to Tympani,
via Delphi, with
her small fry, Winifred aka Wave. As they do so, a minimum of ten days
They're sleeping " ...
in the makeshift, but splendidly sturdy seaside tepee the Neolithic
fashioned for them out of rounder and much thicker than necessary logs,
as well as vines seemingly strong enough to throttle a bull." Barsine reckons their dwelling serves a purpose other than keeping the
two of them out of the rain and cold of late winter on Tympani. She's
right about that (obligatory hint being in the
masthead) but she's wrong about Sorciere maybe having designs on her.
"If you're afraid you'll wake up with Vetala sleeping beside
you, forget it. I'm not that kind of girl."
"That's even more disgusting than porcine
"Sorry, Sorry. Wasn't meant as a suggestion. Just a joke."
If you're starting to think the whole chapter's full of suggestive
remarks re Barsine entering into sexual relations, you're not even close
to being a 100% wrong. Here's another one ...
"Mariamnics aren't quite so restrictive,
"Things are different in Twilight. Krepusyl Evenstar, the Queen
of Shades, is as fucking crazy, literally, as All-Eyes, Byron's Love
Goddess, is and the Mithradite, Lady Lust, was before your pal Chaos,
when he was altogether a devil and not a devic suicide, cathonitized
her. One of its cities is even called Venusberg."
"Shades, as in pull down the ..."
"And get cooking? Among other things. Not much else to do in
such a bleak place after you've squeezed out your supper. Besides,
it's full of fucking faeries and they're nothing if not fickle."
"Fickle, fuckle, I got you.
|NOTE: Mariamnics are witches schooled in fay ways over in Crepuscule, Sedon's Outer
Nose, which is where the first four chapters of 'The Volsung Variations'
took place. Sorciere has been telling Barsine that members of the
life-loving Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea,
especially under their longtime Inner Earth superior, Kyprian Somata, the Master of Weir,
tend to regard having sex for reasons besides procreation as an
unnecessary distraction to their real task, which is the preservation,
not the engendering, of life in all its diversity.
One more ...
"Unholy Abaddon likes
"Unholy's right; as you'd best be as well. I'd watch out for
him if I were you, Sunshine. I'm not much on devic history but I'm
pretty sure Chaos and Vetala have an, um, history. Of the amorous
variety. Which is precisely what you don't want to renew."
Plenty more where that came from in VamVar-4.
The point being Sorciere reckons the minute Barsine becomes sexually
active (as in un-wholly) Nergal Vetala will usurp control of their joint
After all, before she intentionally became a vampire circa 5500 YD,
devils addressed Vetala as 'Fecundity' didn't they? And well they might: Evidently wanting nothing to do with
the tedious progression of 9-month gestation periods, she did give birth,
to multitple azura spirit beings, every month on the night of the full moon for something
like 3500 years.
Not saying Sorry's reckoning is bang on but, hey, how often do you
get a whole chapter in a PHANTACEA novel that's
brimming over with not-very-subtle double entendres and blatant sexual
innuendo? Not often enough, you might answer, and you might be as bingo-bongo
about that as the Neolithic thinks she is about her co-tepee-dweller.
Perhaps that's why I enjoyed re-reading it so much.
Graphic as it sometimes
gets, it's all talk. So's this -- and, for about the only time
in VamVar-4, the dialogue's
not between our two identically aged, to the the day if not necessarily
the minute, Semi-Sisters Three.
Shouldn't need to tell you who it is between, or who they're speaking
about, should I?
"She's Sorciere's, eh?"
"Which makes her my granddaughter, Ophiomedea. So don't get
any bright ideas."
"At this time of night, Famous? Heaven forefend!"
So, as we accordingly discover pre-end-chapter, Ophiomedea (Medea born Tauri,
become Annulis, but
always Ararat), Sorciere's
avowed enemy since 6 weeks ago in Rome (on the 12th of January 1938,
to be absolutely precise), is in the same place as Sorry's Shah and
Sorry's ma, Lamia Lou.
That'd be the same snake-suckling
Medea Barsine was brought up to regard as her distant cousin (via her
father's long dead twin sister, Rhea Sangati) but, it turns out, is actually
her aunt? Yep. Furthermore, as she discusses at some length with Barsine
(by way of me cleverly sneaking in some pertinent back-story alongside
all their sex talk), that'd be the same, once lamia-whipping
Medea Sorciere once tried to shoot dead, in the head, before she got
back to the Head, wouldn't
it? It would be indeed.
And, just by the by, isn't Sorciere packing all sorts of weaponry,
guns and suchlike, between-space in her bottomless bag or kibisis; stuff
she's demonstrably useless at using but, because Mystery Might trained her
as a Hellion, which
was why Battlescar wanted to keep on training her, albeit as a vampire-abolishing
War Witch, Barsine
True enough, they [Barsine and her Malanthean Minoan relatives] were
anarchists; Etocretan Extremists according to even Granny Garuda.
Carried guns as easily as some people carried groceries, yes. Had
about as many qualms about using them, in the right place, as many
another person had about pissing outdoors, as the need hit, yes again.
But so what?
Have a click.
Have a second. Have
a third and a fourth.
... no other temporal triplets managed to pass the Totem Pool test
in years subsequent. Many tried, been tried, but none were confirmed.
Didn't mean that none would ever be, however.
Next batch of girl-children just had to wait until they were on the
cusp of turning seven, though. That was because the last batch of
potential Trigregos Identified had, as usual, failed the test something
like six months earlier.
One of these last three was Ophiomedea's youngest [Theope = Divine
Face]. Youngest in terms of those born, not in terms of those left.
Medea of the Ararats was as much a mother as Sorciere. And, if one
of Sorciere's had to be sacrificed for the betterment of one of hers,
so be it.
So be it even if it meant sacrificing her sister first!
Stop licking those fangs (I mean lips)
and keep on reading is my best
advice to you.
Vampire Variations: "Rafting Towards
Just to, semi-sort-of-as-usual,
confirm something hinted at earlier:
"You're welcome to wait for Fish if you want ... But, faerie-food-fed, aquiline ace-in-the-hole
or no, I'm heading across the pond come morning. Won't be using agates
either. Except to get away."
"How then?" [Barsine Mandam demanded of Solace nee Sunrise]
"Don't know much about tepees, do you?"
"Enough to know these logs are a lot thicker and heavier than
any ordinary tepee needs. Same goes for the vines. Shouldn't even
need them to keep it up. You've been thinking about this for awhile
now, haven't you? Gathering all the pieces you'll need."
"Right you are again. I'm rafting to Moorset."
"Regular raft of Medusa."
"You think Olympias could be a Medusa?"
"Raft of Medusa is a painting I saw
in the Louvre when I was bee-bopping around Europe on agates using
Ali Ars Markazi's bankroll. Don't ask me why it's called that but
it seemed appropriate. You're always calling Medea a fucking gorgon
and Olympias is her sister."
As per here,
I've had this problem before. As per here,
I've also been wrong before. In this pieced-together case, though, Sorciere's
only 'intuiting', to use her word:
"... Say for a second it wasn't the D'Angelos she [Ophiomedea]
was sicking her lamiae on; what's so special about any of the other
kids who were staying there, -- Aranyani Nightingale, the Dre'Aths'
"That presupposes [Aunt] Medea was sicking them on someone."
"So? Presuppose it ... How about, even if she was holding their
reins, the lamiae led her there, -- not the other way around?"
"So, now you're proposing that, independent of Medea, the lamiae
were on a mission of their own."
"Of murder, yes ..."
"Aran and Gloriel?"
"Could be Great Goddesses."
"Two out of three."
"Thea makes three ..."
"Maybe. We won't know for sure until they turn seven and, on
that day, are dipped in the Totem Pool. Except I'm, all right, 'thinking'
a dot-ditto about my Shah. She was born on the same day and at the
same second Morgianna's Tsishah was. Same place too."
"And Marcello's about the same age as them. But about isn't
good enough. Has to be precise, right? Besides, he's a boy."
"Unless he's a Marcia. There is such a thing as second skin
... [and] your Mother Mary knows it too. So did Hush and Granny; maybe
even Fish and Ophiomedea as well."
"Which, according to you anyhow, was why my [Aunt] Medea singled
out the D'Angelos' villa for her lamiae's full moon feast."
"Got to be three. Not either one nor two. Can't be just a solitary
As for all that lips-anticipating, dogs-of-war
action, here's a sample of it.
The Jaag chain of islets separating the Head's Interior Ocean of
Akadan from Sedon's Ear were supposedly surrounded by whirlpools,
crashing rocks, sea monsters that considered sharks snacks and whales
cattle, and airborne, predatory rocs, rokhs, or living gargoyles that
were only legendary in terms of their appetites.
There was no supposedly about the Aural Sea ...
"Hopefully that scared them off," said Barsine as she lowered
the sharpshooter's rifle. "What were they?"
"Rocs, I think."
"Rocks can't fly."
"Living gargoyles can. And your bullets certainly bounced off
them as if they were rocks."
"Got one in the eye I think. Must be a fleshy bit."
"Not as much as we are."
Sorciere tapped her on the shoulder, pointed to her ears, and said
something. Barsine was no dumb blonde. Wasn't even a dumb brunette.
She removed the cotton wads.
"It's a manatee."
"No need to shout."
"Had me fooled." Sorciere lowered her voice. "A manatee.
Order Sirenia. As in siren."
"Wait a minute. Manatees were what was singing?"
Barsine gets an arsenal, cotton ear-wads, gunfire, grenades, rocs,
sharks, manatees, sirens singing, big waves, on an inland sea prone
to overflowing with monstrous inhabitants, what else do you want? How about a quicksilver-quick devil looking for a pillow?