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Thursday, March 11, 2010


To rule the darkness. That is what all of us must do. The darkness within.

But some are foolish enough to desire to rule the darkness without and the creatures who live within it. To accomplish that mystics all through history have searched for mythical objects of power : the helmet of Hades, the girdle of Aphrodite, and the ring of King Solomon, said to bring the wearer command over demons.

Too powerful to fall into the wrong hands, it was hidden in the lost mines of King Solomon in the legendary Ophir. But even the location of the fabled Ophir has become lost. Until stumbled upon by the one man who could care less about power or wealth, the haunted Texas Ranger, Captain Samuel McCord.

So as irony would have it, McCord ended up with the fabled ring of King Solomon and promptly refused to use it. But let him tell you of it from the incident in his cabin aboard the cursed DEMTER where he is getting dressed { from RITES OF PASSAGE }:

I looked out at the eye of night peeking at me through the curtained, round window. A part of me wanted to curl up in a little ball and try to find some peace in sleep. But I had promises to keep.

Time to go to that Count's celebration.

I got dressed, feeling the absence of my hip holster and its Colt. Maybe because of that I reached into my saddlebags until my fingers found what the Captain had been so interested in. The fabled ring of King Solomon.

I pulled it out and put it on the ring finger of my left gloved hand. I knew better than to look on it straight on. I had tried often enough in the past. But my eyes kept slipping off, never getting a clear look. It was as if the eyes of Man weren't meant to see the design. Only creatures of darkness.

Every so often, I would try to see it. As long as I couldn't, it meant I was still human deep down inside myself. Not being able to stop myself, I tried again. A weight seemed to lift off my chest as my eyes slid painfully off of it. Still human.

{Later on in the evening, McCord is escorting the mysterious woman, Meilori Shinseen, to a grand ball. She, her best friend, Lady Inari, and McCord are halted by the approach of the undead wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ellen Tucker. And once again, McCord is tempted by the power of King Solomon's ring.}

A breath from the grave seemed to breathe out from my left. I turned to face it and found it was a her. Odd. Death always seemed to wear a woman’s face in my life.

Except for Rachel. She’d had no face at all.

Just a little shorter than Meilori, this woman had the wild, wanton look of a repressed minister's daughter gone bad. Her brown hair a tumbled waterfall cascading down her shoulders, it barely hid a plunging neckline of ivory flesh that somehow looked clammy. Her smile was cruel, but less so than her brown eyes.

And of course, since this was me we were talking about, she didn't have one ember of life flickering around her body. Worse, somehow she seemed familiar. Yet, she ignored me completely. She smiled like a shark at Meilori and spoke in a haughty whine.

As she spoke, the hidden world behind her glittering eyes seemed to be changing and darkening. "I knew one day you would get yours, Meilori."

"That is Lady Meilori to you, Tucker."

"Tucker? Is your memory fading like your beauty, Meilori? It is Emerson."

Meilori smiled colder than her eyes. "You forget, leech. Til death do you part. And you have died and so have parted."

The undead woman called Tucker spoke low. "Soon, very soon, my betrothed and I will be re-united."

Inari covered a false yawn with a lazy hand. "Tucker, did you have something to say, or were you merely wasting our time as usual?"

Miss Tucker started to speak when it occurred to me why she seemed so familiar. "I've seen you before."

Her thin lips curled. "That line was old when you were young."

I shook my head. "Not actually seen you in person really. But I saw your tiny portrait in the pocketwatch of Henry."

She frowned, "Henry? There are a million boring Henry's in this world."

"But only one I nearly threw overboard into the Atlantic."

She sneered, "And that should mean something to me?"

"It should. Seems even though you were married to another man, poor Henry couldn't get you out of his heart."

She yawned, "How utterly boring."

I felt my face go tight. "He was a good man. He deserved a better woman to lose his heart to."

"Remind me to care next century."

She turned to Meilori. "And, as for you, bitch, Lord Hasatan has ordered you to come to him. Now."

Her smile seemed skull-like as she murmured, "You are finally going to get yours."

Meilori turned sick pale, as did Lady Inari. Whoever this Lord Hasatan was, he had to be wicked, indeed, for an Animal Person to fear him. I shook my head again.

"No, she's not."

Tucker's eyes became slits. "Stupid human, who are you to tell the Gray Man anything?"

The Gray Man? I smiled like the happy wolf I felt. Finally, I was going to lock horns with that one.

"You tell The Gray Man that if he has a grievance with Lady Meilori to take it up with me first. She's under my protection. He gets her only through me -- that is if he has the grit to take on a man for a change."

Meilori became bleach white. "Samuel, do not! You have no idea what Lord Hasatan can do."

Tucker hissed, "Take your own message! Who do you think you are to order me?"

I slowly raised my left hand, the chandelier's light striking fire from King Solomon's ring. The ghoul flinched as if stabbed, her eyes never leaving the ring on my gloved hand. Her shoulders started to bow, though I could tell she was fighting the lowering of her body. The back of my scalp started to prickle. This felt wrong.

No. I never owned slaves or cottoned to those who did. Each person was entitled to the freedom to choose. And I wouldn't take that right away from even such a thing as the undead creature that was facing me. I lowered my hand.

"Let me re-phrase that. Please, if you would, tell Lord Hasatan that I request he take up with me his grievance with Lady Meilori before he talks with her."

Tucker raised her eyes, though she kept her head lowered, giving her hot eyes a wolfish look. "Why request when you could command?"

"Because there has to be a difference between me and those I fight, else what's the point?"

"You are a fool!"

I smiled, "I don't think you'll get an argument from anyone I know about that."

Her eyes drank in Solomon's ring. "I will gladly tell Lord Hasatan about your stupidity, so I can watch him tear that ring off your bloody corpse."

"It's been tried before. I'm still here. Those that tried aren't."

But Tucker hadn't heard. She had already spun away, moving away towards the opposite end of the saloon. I tried to see who might The Gray Man be from the direction she took. But she was soon lost in the tangle of bodies. I felt Meilori tug on my arm. She was furious.

"I did not ask you for help."

"It wasn't necessary. No lady I escort gets threatened without me standing up for her."

She slapped me. The fact of it stung more than the blow. "When I need defending, I will let you know. Now, I will deal with The Gray Man myself."

And with that, she was off in a huff. Lady Irani hurriedly followed her. She looked back at me over her shoulder. "Do you have any idea what kind of fool you are?"

"Is there more than one kind?"

She didn't answer. She was too busy catching up to Meilori. Soon, they were lost in the crowd as well. But from the mirror beside me, Elu answered for Irani.

"Yes, there are, Dyami, and you are all of them mixed up in one. Why did you mention King Solomon to that oaf of a captain in the first place, much less wear that ring? Now, all on board know you have it. You have become a walking target for every would-be tyrant."

"It seemed the thing to do at the moment."

His bear eyes rolled. "I would tell you to shoot yourself in the foot, but you have already done that."

I turned to tell him what he could do with his wisdom-in-hindsight. But he was gone. It seemed no one wanted any part of my company - even me.

I studied the saloon around me. Rubies and diamonds sparkled on ivory throats and wrists like drippings from the sea. The low rumble of the engines was muffled by the rise and fall of conversation and music, the ebb and tide of desire upon destiny. The people milling through the chamber seemed to be talking against the darkness that pressed in on them or pushed out to escape from within them. Or maybe it was only my own darkness I felt pressing hungry against the window of my soul.

And with all this talk of rings of power, why not watch a music video from one of my favorite movies?

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