Takes place sometime during Midnight Alley.

Claire walked down the steps to Myrnin's lab and found him bent over a microscope, the harsh glow of an incandescent bulb outlining his figure. Today he wore a black vest over a white button-up shirt and pinstriped dress pants. She froze on the bottom step of the staircase.

This wasn't right. He wasn't supposed to be out. He should have been in the—

"The cage is gone," Myrnin said bitterly, as if he could read her thoughts. "Since the creation of the new drugs, I seem to have proven to Amelie that I could control myself well enough without the encouragement of that useless iron container."

That made her sound cruel—as if Claire were some kind of heartless jailer. She didn't want him in that thing anymore than he did.

"I know you're getting better," she said. "But—"

Myrnin turned around on his heel and Claire stopped. His glare was full of cold anger.

"But what? What, girl? I have been confined nearly all my existence, be it in a cell or under the complete control of others. I think it is about time I stretch my legs, no?" He turned back around and flicked off the old microscope's illuminator. Myrnin pulled the slide off the stage and set it on the table.

"I'm—sorry. I didn't know." But somewhere deep in her brain, Claire had.

"Of course you did," he said with disdain. Claire's eyes widened. Could he read her mind? "You're a clever child, I'm sure you would have figured it out by now that no one likes me. Not even Amelie. Amelie only… puts up with me—if you could even call it that," he sneered.

It took him a moment for him to calm his temper while Claire remained silent. Soon, he said stiffly, "Very well, on with your lesson." When she didn't move, he snapped, "Get over here and learn so that I may no longer carry the burden of historian!"

And so they worked, two scientists, teacher and student. But it was not long until Myrnin began his ravings.

He was sitting in his armchair while Claire sat on the floor, looking up at him as he recalled his experiences prior to meeting Claire. He taught her the ingredients of chemicals invented by him that were nothing like anything else. Some included vampire blood and things only alchemical creations called for, like a child's tears and dried rose thorns.

But he got distracted a lot.

"Amelie told me this imaginary tale when we first met," Myrnin said, going off on yet another tangent. "She was very lovely in the beginning, you know. But time and hardship has frozen her heart and made her sad, as it would anyone—but no one more than Amelie." The past seemed to bring back memories Myrnin didn't want to entertain, because he snapped himself back into the present and started his story.

"There was good and there was bad," he began. "Two forces who had nothing to do but fight for control." Claire was taking notes, as he'd told her to do an hour or so ago, and was scribbling on her notepad furiously as he began talking faster. "Good was losing—as it always does—and became desperate. And so, in that desperation, it began cutting itself into parts and those parts became creatures. These creatures Amelie told me were angels that were sent to a place like earth to war. However, since I do not believe in such things, I suppose it would be appropriate to call them the Fulgens—or the Shining. Soon enough bad copied good and made its own minions that Amelie called Bestias, meaning Beasts.

"Eventually, the two had mingled for far too long together in the same realm of existence and, out of that togetherness, created what was then and still is now, hominem, which you would know means man. Humankind was half good, half bad—unlike the lamia, which came next.

"The lamia were vampires, forming because of the continued fraternization between the hominem and the Bestia. Thus, their core was filled with more dark than light. The lamia were…. The lamia…" he trailed off, sounding as if he had forgotten what came next.

Myrnin's long pause made Claire look up from her notes and see a faraway look in his eyes.

When the silence between them became extremely uncomfortable—for her at least—, Claire asked, "Myrnin?"

"Ita fessis, filiole. Deponere mihi caput erit benedictio." In his tone was a depressing note that reminded Claire of bittersweet chocolate—the same as the regular kind, but an entirely different flavor. He was like that now, as anyone else, but made bitter by memories from time that had bereaved him of his happiness and humanity.

She knew what was happening; she knew she should have called someone to help her with Myrnin right then—Sam, or someone who could help talk him out of it. But something so sad and so lonely in his voice caused her morale to falter.

"What?" she asked. "What did you say?"

"Nothing," he snapped, becoming the monster within. "Mind your own business."


He sighed. "Really, child? You wish to argue with me?" That momentary look of longing in the back of his eyes disappeared and they flashed red. "Do you think you stand a chance against me, the most capable of killing in this rotten town?"

"Rotten? You think so?" spoke a voice that was definitely not Claire's. It was prim and proper, yet weary and doleful, and something in it was undoubtedly menacing.

Claire scrambled up and turned her back to Myrnin which was not the smartest of ideas. The maniacal vampire grabbed Claire around her waist and pulled her onto his lap. He wrapped his other arm around her throat. Claire tried to lash out, but she couldn't move at all.