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Falling Towards Apotheosis

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I.

"And in his inhuman form?" Vanessa asked. Catriona Hartdegen leaned forward, and Vanessa was struck again by the way the fire lights danced on her skin. Joan the Cutwife would have loved this woman.

"No one has ever lived to tell the tale," Catriona replied, and proceeded to discuss the way to kill Dracula in his human shape, to discover his identity. It reminded Vanessa of the careful, careful way she used to restore the dead creatures Sir Malcolm sent home to an appearance that betrayed nothing of death; of how she gave them eyes that shone, mirroring life. Taking apart, putting together, creating; and then Catriona said "house of the night creatures", and the puzzle was complete.

It cut through her, sharper than any blade.

No grief, she thought. Not now. You may not grieve before you killed, and kill you must.

Yet the enormity of the betrayal was still shaking her, and she had to borrow Shelley's words when forcing into sounds what truth she'd figured out. Then she was done with poetry.

"He will let you close enough to kill," Catriona said. "Think of this, and this only."

"It will not be enough."

"You are strong, my dear, and..."

"You misunderstand," Vanessa interrupted, welcoming the rage that started to dispel the numbness of shock, loss and disappointment. "It will not be enough to kill him once, to kill him in his human form. Don't you see? He will return. You told me as much. He always will come back. I have to kill him in all his forms. I have to take what is immortal and destroy it so completely that he's gone forever."

Catriona frowned. "But if he truly is a fallen angel, then the core of him, that what is still divine and immortal, why, that..."

"....Is in the realm from which no traveller returns," Vanessa finished, wearily. "I know. To kill him there as well, I'll have to die."