Emily and the Chronicler
Though The Importance of Being Emily is of course about Miss Emily Wright and her soul mate Michael Black, any story that involves them also involves Michael’s mentor, Simon St. Jerome. As I mentioned last week, Simon was the first character I created in my setting. It’s a fact he seldom lets me forget. Simon St. Jerome is the eldest in my cast of characters (with the exception of the faeries, who are older than dirt), and he demands respect. Unfortunately for him, in The Importance of Being Emily he is accused of murder, and he’s just not having a good night. When a woman shows up drained of her blood, the logical suspect is a blood drinker.
But it’s not that simple. While the heroine in Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, Catherine Baker, doesn’t discriminate between types of vampire–if it drinks blood and wears black, it’s a vampire–they aren’t all the same. Coming from a family of librarians, Emily is more educated in the subject. She is very aware of the difference between a chronicler and a master necromancer. Chroniclers are immortal librarians tasked with keeping magician history, who just happen to need to drink blood to survive. Master necromancers are selfish, power-hungry people who want to live forever, and drink the blood of living magicians to fuel their existence. As such, Emily is horrified to hear that anyone would accuse a chronicler of murder, and she certainly does not believe that Michael’s mentor would do such a thing. She trusts Michael, Michael trusts him, so he must be innocent.
To prove his innocence, she volunteers to help question him, and gets her first glimpse of Simon…
I stepped into the room and was instantly stifled by the negative energy, like a thick cloud of smoke that stole all the air and stung my eyes and nose. Blinking rapidly, I tried to shut it out as best I could as I looked around the room. It was a guest bedroom, decorated in an elaborate floral motif—perhaps that was the source of the energy, for the wallpaper was truly hideous.
Mr. Gryphon paced back and forth beside the bed, wearing a path into the carpet that glowed with malice. Dr. Bennett and Lord Willowbrook stood next to the fireplace, and the lord’s arms were folded across his chest as he frowned down at a man bound to a chair.
My brow rose at the sight of the ropes. “Is that really necessary?” I was certain that if Simon St. Jerome had a mind to leave the room, it would take much more than rope to stop him.
“Yes. I can assure you that he is a murderer,” Mr. Gryphon growled. The venom in his voice startled me, and I tightened my grip on Michael’s arm.
“That is what we are about to determine,” Lord Willowbrook pointed out.
I peered at the chronicler, curious, for I had never met him before. Michael had made numerous mentions of his mentor, but he always seemed to be off speaking to someone else on mysterious business at the gatherings. Mr. St. Jerome was pale, his face framed with long auburn hair that was neatly tied back, and his light blue eyes regarded me with cool interest. He wore all black, from his cravat to his boots. Though he sat still and calm, blood trickled from the side of his mouth.
“You struck him?” I asked, horrified.
“Mr. Gryphon lost his temper,” Mr. St. Jerome explained.
Frowning, I pulled my handkerchief from my purse and approached him. Mr. Gryphon moved to block me, and I nimbly dodged the hand he tried to place upon my arm.
“He is dangerous,” he warned.
“He is innocent,” I replied.
“You can’t be certain of that.”
“I am quite certain. He is not the man I saw in my vision. His hair is too red and not dark enough, and his clothing is different. And as I mentioned before, Miss Morgan called the man John, not Simon.” Stepping around him, I continued to the chronicler. “May I?” I nodded at the blood.
“Please,” he said.
The men watched me closely, as though they expected Mr. St. Jerome to snap his bonds and devour me like a sweet peach before anyone could intervene. Instead he continued to sit, serene and unaffected, as I dabbed at the sluggish trickle of blood. It looked wrong somehow, too dark, a reminder that he wasn’t quite normal. Unliving, as Michael would be in a few short months.
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