Originally written: Oct 2002
Revised: Jan 2004
Mille examined the mess around him. He bent down slowly and checked the nearest crumpled body beside him; good, they'd be down for at least an hour. That gave him more than enough time to get in, complete his mission and get out and it was definitely more time that he wanted to spend in this place. Besides, it would be morning in less than half an hour and that would solve half of his problems.
He rose from the ground, wiping the dirt from his clothes. Mille stood in front of the old mansion; the huge wooden doors remained closed in front of him. It reeked of them, this place; there were more inside. He slowly opened one of the two huge doors that divided this place from the outside world; it didn't make any sound as he did so. The hall in front of him was empty and way too quiet for his comfort. Mille stepped inside shutting the door behind him. He remembered this place…
"Why, Jezzabel?" a fifteen-year-old Mille asked. The girl in front of him snickered and leaned close, their eyes meeting.
"Why not?" Jezzabel retorted. "It makes me stronger, faster, and now I'm free to do as I please," she finished as she entwined her hands with his.
"That's not reason enough!" he yelled back angrily, swatting her hands away and taking a step backwards. He was losing it and he couldn't afford to lose control. Not here and not with her. Jezzabel took advantage of the moment to close the space between them once again, embracing him. She put her mouth over his ear and her arms around his neck, playing with his hair tauntingly.
"Join me, Mille," she whispered into his ear, "I can make it all go away." Mille shook his head fiercely, grabbing both of her shoulders and forcefully pushing her away from him.
The look in his eyes was both somber and intense and when he spoke, it was one simple word.
At first, the Haz Knight had felt reluctant about the mission, mostly because of the fact that he had to come to this particular mansion. It was bad enough that the Necronomicon had been stolen before the final seal could be placed. It was twice as bad that it had been traced back here, but the real question was why the book had been stolen in the first place.
"That…" Mille thought, "is the most important question."
He had expected more guards at the gate, tougher ones, too, but they had been defeated too easily for his comfort. Every single one of his senses screamed 'leave', but he couldn't leave without the Book of the Dead; it was his responsibility. He walked cautiously down the huge main hall; the eyes of the long dead residents followed him everywhere as he passed by their grave, discolored portraits. The only sounds in the mansion came from his own footsteps and from the bracelets jangling against his wrists. This mansion was a safe house for them, just in case the sunrise took them unaware. The book was down this way; it called to him. He finally reached another huge door by the end of the hall, but this time it creaked as he opened it.
"Why?" Jezzabel asked with a touch of despair.
Mille just looked at her with sad, defeated eyes.
"I will never betray Mama," he answered simply.
The room was much larger than Mille's recollection of it, decorated simply by spider webs in almost every corner. He looked up at the ceiling and towards the high, paned windows. The sun was rising but the room's high windows didn't allow enough sunlight to get inside, making the room very dark. The only illumination came from the lighted torches attached to the room's walls. It fit them perfectly, the darkness, the isolation, but now Mille just wanted the book and to get the hell out of here. The Haz Knight stopped in the center of the room, a chill swimming up his spine; something was very wrong, out of place here.
She materialized out of thin air; appearing out from the darkness, first her face and then the rest of her. Mille's eyes went wide with recognition; she looked just like he remembered her from when she'd died at seventeen, her auburn hair tied neatly into a delicate knot behind her head. Her once hazel eyes were now a dark blue green, a vampire's eyes. She smiled. The door creaked once again and Mille instantly glanced back to find the guards from the entrance, wide-awake and blocking his only way out. 'Surely I'd left them unconscious...'
Mille cursed under his breath, returning Jezzabel's gaze. He had been right; it had been too easy; all the guards had just been putting a show! A good one at that; they were following orders after all, and Mille had been too preoccupied with his own thoughts to see the signs. Of course, it wouldn't be that easy to get the Necronomicon back.
"Hello, Mille… Long time, no see."
"Hello, Jezzabel" Mille replied with forced amiability, trying to keep his senses open in case of an ambush. "Where's the book?" he asked quickly, straight to the point.
"Yes, the book" she answered with a grin. "Good bait, don't you think?"
"What?" Mille asked, surprised.
But then again…Of course! Why hadn't he seen it? He knew who and what dwelled in this place, after all... He also knew that the Necronomicon was of little or no use to their kind. And yet... He had left her out of the equation…She still wanted him. Even after so many years.
"Aren't you proud of me?" Jezzabel teased, clasping her hands together in a mocking manner.
"It's good to see you planning something for a change." Mille answered, reaching for one of his phoenix feathers, "but I feel you're wasting my time. I'll be leaving with the book now." he finished, exposing the feather.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Mille Feuille." Jezzabel said in a deadly serious tone, her eyes suddenly hardening. Mille looked at her; whatever word game they'd been playing before was over now.
Jezzabel glanced behind her, her red lips twisting into a caricature of a smile. She extended her hand out to the darkness without taking her eyes off of Mille.
"Come here, sweetie," she said softly, distinctly.
A small hand clasped hers and Jezzabel pulled a child from the shadows into the light. It was a little girl, certainly no older than eight. Her eyes were red and her cheeks stained with tears. How many hours that this poor child been crying alone with these... things? Her small body looked bruised and mistreated; the tiny rags that covered her body couldn't be doing a very good job of protecting her from the cold. But the most horrible thing was the wound on her neck: a bite mark, a fresh one, covered with blood.
"Isn't she pretty, Mille?" Jezzabel said, pulling the child close to her and resting her hand against the girl's back. "...and she tastes so good..."
The girl's eyes twitched at Jezzabel's words and she made a small, panicked movement to get away... but Jezzabel's hand clamped down on her shoulder, halting her flight.
Mille stood in the middle of the room, staring sightlessly off into space.
The very second he decided to come here.
Jezzabel lost her patience when Mille didn't react right away and in the blink of an eye, she grabbed the little girl by the back of her neck and lifted her from the floor.
At the little girl's cry of pain, Mille felt a blaze of anger within him unlike he'd ever felt before for this woman. This woman he'd once considered a close friend... and once a lover. Terrified eyes stared at him. The child knew; she knew Mille was her only way out of this nightmare.
'How long has she been here? What horrors has Jezzabel exposed her to?'
"What will you do, Haz Knight?" Jezzabel asked spitefully, spitting out his title as if it tasted badly on her tongue.
The vampiress squeezed the girl's throat, making her cry out again.
Mille sighed, acknowledging his defeat. She'd won; they both knew it... Mille met Jezzabel's eyes directly, slipping the feather back into its place.
There was only one answer.
"Let her go."
"Will you go out with me?" he yelled at the first girl that crossed his path, whose only response was to slap him across the face.
"Darling!" Chocolat squealed at the top of her lungs.
"Carrot, you idiot!" shrieked Tira, right behind her sister.
"Aaaaagh! Chocolat! Tira!" Carrot yelled back, his voice full of panic. "Don't kill me! I was only kidding!"
Carrot took off down the street, the Misu sisters hot on his heels. Marron and Gateau stood back, watching the spectacle with bemused expressions.
"Isn't this a little...repetitive?" Gateau asked the mage, scratching his head.
"Should it be?" Marron retorted with a smirk, his eyes following the chase ahead of them.
They both jumped as Daughter suddenly poofed into existence in front of them, a cloud of smoke floating in her wake.
"Hi, Daughter," Marron greeted the newcomer with a smile.
"Marron! Gateau!" Daughter cried out in a panicked voice, her face flushed. "Something awful has happened!"
"What's wrong, Daughter?" Marron asked quickly, his attitude shifting from amused to dead serious.
"I don't know all the details, but Mama wants you all back home right now!" she said in a rush, very obviously agitated about something.
Tira, Chocolat, and Carrot chose that moment to return, all three looking confused by the conversation they'd just walked in on.
"What's going on?" Tira asked, looking from her teammates to Daughter and back again.
"We have to leave now," Marron replied, his tone grave.
Big Mama had only four words to say when they returned.
"Mille has been kidnapped."