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We have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.



An Evening At Joe's

Part 2

Scene 7

Richie leaned over to Altea and questioned, "Do you understand what we're doing?"

"Yes. We are each telling tales of something scary..."

"Or strange, or odd," interrupted Richie.

"Is it my turn?" Altea asked quietly.

Since both Amanda and Richie were close enough to her to hear the question, both nodded.

Altea was silent. She didn't much like having attention focused on her, and being a member of this small group still didn't appeal to her. Her dark gaze shifted to the only one she really trusted, calling for help. Richie bent to her and whispered: "No one's gonna bite you, lady. Come on, tell your story." He smiled at her. Altea looked up at her audience and began to talk. Her voice was low and uncertain.

"There was a place..."

Scene 8

"...you must NOT go there! Remember, never dare to go to that place!"

The tall woman towered over the little girl, like a giant, her voice rude and imperious from the lifelong habit of giving orders. She was also accustomed to always being obeyed without further questions, thus her coldness and irritation.

Her eyes shone fiercely, then she turned and pushed aside the small crowd gathered around them. She shouted more, brief orders, following which a couple of women disappeared quickly, some others took their horses, and, with the sun shining and sparkling on the weapons they were carrying, the platoon rode away.

The warriors were gone.

The little girl, no more a child but not yet an adolescent, stood still. She watched after them, then sighed. One day she would be the one to give orders, she wished in her heart, but for now others had total power over her life, over the village, the slaves, over everything.

But not over that place.

It was a place that felt...ancient. A small space among trees, with a tiny spring rounded by scattered rocks. There was grass growing equally everywhere, making a nice, smooth carpet for naked toes. Soft shadows danced around, playing games with the sun's rays, thus creating a never ending pattern against the silver trunks of the trees.

The leaves whispered gently, moved by a tender breeze, the same breeze that caressed the spring's surface, and originated little waves that slowly died away against the small pebbles all around.

There was a green aura, and white light, and dark shadows all over, in the gentle sounds of the wood. Every shape lived in its own space, moving in synchrony with the others, breathing in the universal rhythm of life and nature.

It was a perfect place, untouched, calling irresistibly to tired souls and curious minds, a place in which you wanted to rest and laugh and play.

Yet, it was forbidden, and the orders were clear.

None was allowed to go there, ever, for any reason. It had always been so.

But the little girl had a different idea. She spoke with the other girls. They were restless, all of them, younger and older. With the warriors gone, the slaves couldn't very well cope with them. Not all wanted to go, of course. Some of them didn't want to risk the punishment that awaited those caught in flagrant disobedience. Others were too tired to even move out of the shelter they shared all together, as they shared the training, the long hours of endless rituals, the weight of weapons much too heavy for their still small hands.

So, at the end, only two of the biggest girls decided to go. The little girl followed them at distance, because she had the idea in the first place and didn't want to be left behind. But she didn't want to be beaten and sent back by them, either, so she kept quiet and moved through the bushes as they were taught.

They arrived in the opening a little before dusk, the two bigger girls still unaware of the third's presence. They stopped and surveyed the place with bright eyes, checking for every possible danger. There seemed to be none, so they prepared their camp for the night. They moved quickly and silently. Why was this place prohibited? It was not a sacred place, rituals were never held here, nor was there any legend, and it looked so peaceful...

The little girl found herself a comfortable niche in an old trunk nearby and cuddled up inside.

They all went to sleep.

Scene 9

During the night, a cry broke the silence, high and long, tearing the sleeping world apart. One single cry, only one sob...then no more sounds were heard.

The little girl didn't dare to come out of her secret hiding place in the trunk. She heard heavy footsteps passing by, smelled the scent of putrid fogs raising abruptly from the underground.

She felt safe in that small hole, though it was small and dark as a tomb.

"You!" A Voice thundered outside the trunk.

"You!", "You!", "You!", "You!" Other voices joined the first, each similar and each different from that one, echoing each other in endless roars. She pushed herself lower, hiding in the dark.

"You!" The Voice claimed her again. "Come out!"

Fear assaulted her, strangling her, coming from nowhere and surrounding her. Her hands and feet were so cold she couldn't feel them anymore, as if they were dead. Maybe she was dead, entombed already and forgotten, and she didn't know yet.

"Come out!" The Voice ordered again.

Her soul moved on its own, following the dark paths of ancestral memories, answering the eternal call. Her body didn't move.

Long rows of dark-clad figures stood tall, moving slowly in turns towards the spring. As they had no feet, they walked on their knees, leaving behind shreds of flesh and streaks of dark, dense blood leaking from their amputations. Their hands were tied around their necks, and their eyes were missing, empty eye-sockets staring at the darkness of the night and at the horizon they only could see.

The figures moved staggering right towards the spring and disappeared in the darkness that lay beyond the trees. They moved over the dead bodies of the two girls. The bodies were on the ground, bones smashed and disarticulated, mouths open, fingers like claws, soaked in their own blood, already dried.

The little girl floated in horror, feeling estranged from this world, from the scene that presented itself to her, from her own body crumpled in a heap inside the old, smelly trunk.

"All who must die, come here. The ritual has begun, the entrance is open."

She flew from the murmur that insinuated itself into her ears, she flew from the words, screaming and yelling and hitting herself wildly, throwing herself against the wood in which she was, felt entombed now, suffocated by the images still vivid in her mind.

The gods were punishing her for her disobedience. This wasn't a sacred place, but a haunted, obscure passage to other lands.

Her soul was caught in the bloody hands of the Voice...she was too little to understand the necessity of this task, she only felt all the emotions that went rushing through her, the pain, the suffering, the horror that lay ahead in that realm.

But as the awareness of this hatred filtered through, the impossible, loud sounds stopped abruptly, and she felt as if she were being dropped from an incalculable height.

"What-are-you?" The Voice sounded almost incredulous, as if the Fear itself could be unprepared, scared, outraged...the chorus of lamentation ended as well, and a silence, a dead silence, fell over the place.

There were no sounds or movements except for the ants at work, eating and carrying away their supplies from the bodies on the ground.

The little girl observed her hands, bleeding from what seemed a hundred scratches. She put a hand to her head, and there was blood there as well. The Voice erupted in her head again, inside her mind, making her ears bleed.

"You are not for us!" These few words stormed furiously inside and outside of her, shouted at her with such violence that she collapsed and fainted.

In the morning, she woke up. The woods were silent. She went back to her village, told her story, and drove back others to collect the bodies. There were none. Her story was dismissed, and she was punished, which meant being beaten and humiliated again and again. The Rules were to be obeyed. But, secretly, she asked herself why she wasn't dead, why she had been refused. She knew what she had seen.

Years later, the Priestess called for her presence. It was a rare event, to be summoned at this young age. When she was called inside the tent, she held her breath, and entered.

The old woman was sitting in front of a small fire, and gestured her to sit down.

"The warriors told me you are getting very good," she said. It was not appropriate to answer, even if it was true. So the girl stared at the fire, in silence.

"They also told me you went to the forbidden glade." After all this time, for a moment the girl foresaw more punishment coming her way.

"You had a Vision. It could happen again." She wasn't a liar anymore, at least.

"If you breathe the air in that place, it smells of power. Leaves, and grass, grow there like nowhere else."

An illusion born out of fumes and vapors? That was it? Or was that just a way to explain mysteries too horrible? The girl dared to ask: "What about my companions? They never returned."

The Priestess smiled, but the light in her eyes wasn't reassuring, quite menacing instead.

"Not all can stand a Vision. A true warrior, yes. A sacred soul that talk with gods, yes. They were just meat for dogs, and fled away..."

The girl didn't dare to enquire anymore under the gaze of those dark pools that were observing her so closely. Somehow it didn't feel safe. She was dismissed, the implication of her being worthy of becoming a warrior, and maybe even a priestess, hanging in the air. Before going out, though, she had to stop and asked in a murmur:

"The voices...-in my Vision-" she added hastily, "...refused me. Why?"

The Priestess looked at her. "There have been others, that have been refused. Very few, but still...they were monsters, creatures of evil blessed by the gods for unknown reasons. They didn't die. Time will tell," she answered....

Scene 1 0

...Altea paused. Her gaze dropped down immediately, and she was already biting her lips. This piece of her past has come out of her memory without notice. Her cheeks burned hot, and for a moment Altea seriously thought about running away. What if they asked for explanations? She had none. She just knew that Richie was watching her, and she turned her face to him. His blue gaze was so deep with untold emotions that she almost stood up and turned away for real. But the young man knew her well enough already. He took her hand and held it strongly, then said in a quiet tone: "Must have been...scary." Altea nodded. "All those scars you have...are from that day," Richie commented, stating it as a fact more than as a question.

The young woman nodded again. "Mostly," she added.

Richie wondered as to how many things they still did not to know about each other, but looking at how fragile she looked right now, he just couldn't help it; ignoring his friends' presence, he stood up and hugged her tenderly. "Now, I could use a Vision on how my new piece is going!" The red-headed Immortal exclaimed, obviously trying to cheer her up. "Do you think you can have one for tomorrow?"

"Oh, stop it, Ryan!" Altea disengaged from the embrace faking disgust, and went back to her seat. But her tension was gone, and Richie smiled back to her thankful gaze.

"I met a vampire once," Amanda said cheerfully and received dubious looks from all around. "Really," she promised....

Scene 1 1

...It was dark except for the light from the torches on the overhanging building, and Amanda knew she was in trouble. So maybe stealing the necklace hadn't been a good idea, but she was quite willing to give it back. The thing was the three men standing in the way of all available routes out of the alley didn't seem particularly interested in returning the piece to it's rightful owner. They were more interested in the thief and how much fun they could have with her. It wasn't as if it would be a new experience--you didn't live five hundred years without learning just how badly the male of the species could hurt his weaker counterpart, but she really didn't have time for this right now. If she hadn't thought it would get her into even more trouble Amanda might have produced her sword.

"Gentlemen," a loud voice suddenly said from behind the thugs, "this is no way to treat a lady."

Even in her present predicament Amanda took the time to be impressed. The stranger was tall, and had long graying hair tied back in a neat ponytail. He wore the clothes of a noble, but he was not a friend of the local lord and he had no aides so the law enforcement party seemed to decide to ignore him. All three henchmen had turned to assess the owner of the mellow tones, and the largest of them seemed to decide the man was not a threat. As they gauged the interruption so did the Immortal--she started at his feet and worked up, ticking off his assets as she went. He had very good taste in fashion, his body although well hidden under warm clothes was none the less shapely, and his strong sculptured features were very nice indeed. There would be definite advantages in swaying this gentlemen.

"That's no lady," the leader of the threesome announced, "that's a thief, and it's none of your business."

"Oh, sir, please help me," Amanda used her best helpless damsel imitation, "I think they mean to do harm to my person."

A small smile played at the edges of the stranger's lips and the Immortal found herself with the distinct impression that he knew exactly what she was up to. She was quite surprised when he didn't just turn and go.

"I could never abandon a lady as fair as yourself," he told her dashingly. "Now gentlemen, you have a choice: leave now or suffer my wrath."

>From Amanda's point of view this man was either insane or he had several hirelings hidden further up the alley. She was just hoping that she could escape in the mess that would follow shortly after the thugs overcame their shock at being challenged quite so brazenly.

"Are you mad?" the head strong arm seemed to share her opinion.

"Quite the opposite," the stranger replied and for the third time Amanda tried to ascertain from where his accent originated--it seemed to be somewhat mixed, "actually I'm rather bored and you seem to be the only entertainment out tonight."

Definitely short a few twigs from the bundle as far as the Immortal was concerned, and she prepared to run.

"Well are you just going to stand there?" the noble asked impatiently, inviting his own downfall.

That did it, the very broad, very thick set leader of the threesome decided to teach the upstart a lesson. Amanda could barely bring herself to watch--no matter how handsome the stranger was, he appeared to be virtually unarmed and he was no match for the man he was facing. The thug reached out and tried to pull his opponent towards him by the scruff of his cloak. Her chin almost hit the floor at what Amanda saw next. Try was the operative word when it came to the strong arm's attempt to start the fight--the stranger never moved. It was almost as if he was carved in stone, and eeriest of all, he was smiling broadly. Then, almost as if he'd had enough of someone mussing his clothes he casually reached out and picked the man up by his neck. He bared his teeth in a manic grin and threw the unfortunate individual against the wall. The hireling did not get up again. All he had to do was look at the other two and they ran.

Amanda just stood there, frozen to the spot as those open, all encompassing eyes pinned her down. She felt her knees trembling, and it wasn't exactly all fear. He walked up to her in two graceful strides.

"Jacob Falconey," he introduce himself brightly, "at your service, my beautiful thief.

"Amanda," the Immortal found herself whispering back breathlessly, and then she did something she just never did--she fainted.

Scene 1 2

It was warm, it was soft, Amanda's eyes flew open to find that she was lying on a bed. A bed that was covered with furs, and seemed to be positioned in front of a very large fire. There he was, standing with his back to her, silhouetted by the light of the burning wood. He turned slowly and as he looked at her his eyes caught the glow of the flames and they seemed almost bestial. Then Amanda did something else she never did--unless she had a very good reason--she screamed. It was not a theatrical, feminine scream, but a cry that started in her chest, rose up her throat and erupted to fill the room. Jacob for his part just stood there and let the sound fall over him as if he wasn't listening to her at all. Eventually the Immortal's voice just gave up and dissolved into nothingness.

"Have you quite finished?" he asked with an amused tone in his voice. "I'll admit that was an impressive show of breath control, but can you say it was absolutely necessary?"

Righteous indignation totally wiped away any fear Amanda might have had.

"I thought it was," she told him pointedly, and wound up again to show him just how necessary she thought it had been.

"Enough," her host said pointedly, and for all that the Immortal wanted to throw every piece of verbal abuse she knew at him, her voice would not come.

Jacob smiled at her in a most annoying manner.

"Let us be civilized about this," he said lightly, "I have a small meal prepared for us."

Amanda's eyes zeroed in on where he indicated, and they grew as she saw the size of dinner he considered small. The amount of food on the table would have fed a family for a week. As she saw the delicacies Amanda's stomach decided to be most unladylike and reminded her of why she had stolen the necklace in the first place.

"I think we can be friends now," Jacob decided cheerfully, and the Immortal suddenly had her voice back.

She looked at her host's smiling face and quickly came to a decision. Whatever he was and whatever he was doing to her, he wasn't likely to be able to kill her, and first things first--she was hungry.

"Yes," she replied, not quite sure whether she really agreed, but happy to play along for now.

"Shall we eat?" the debonair individual offered politely.

Scene 1 3

The food was very good, and Amanda put all her concentration into eating it until she had finally gathered up enough courage to ask her question.

"Are you a demon?" she enquired as she found she couldn't eat another thing.

Her host almost received an apple in the face when he chose to laugh at that comment. He was, however, the perfect gentleman and he stopped chuckling when he realized she was offended.

"No," he told her with only half a smile on his face, "I am a vampire."

The Immortal just looked across the table for a little while, not sure how to take the reply. She knew what a vampire was, she'd traveled most of Europe and the Germans seemed to like the superstition best. In England the beliefs weren't quite so prevalent, but at least she now knew where part of his accent came from. The slightly harder undertones in his voice were more difficult to pin down. With five hundred years of will power, Amanda decided not to be afraid.

"So are you a blood drinking, shroud eating or cattle chasing vampire?" she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

Her host grinned at that.

"Blood drinking," he responded as if they were talking about an everyday culinary habit.

"Well if you're looking for a young virgin you're out of luck," the Immortal was trying very hard to think about exactly what Jacob could have planned for her.

Now he laughed again.

"I know," he told her brightly, "you are a woman, shall we say, of particular charms which are never present in the innocent. An educated woman is far more interesting to me than a screaming girl."

Amanda glanced at the bed and then back at her companion. Well he was very good looking and it had been a while--the only thing was she wasn't too sure about sharing her experience with a vampire. Not that she hadn't ever tried a little biting before, but then she had been the one employing her teeth.

"What would you do if I tried to leave?" she asked--well it couldn't exactly hurt.

"Be very disappointed," Jacob returned and pouted beautifully.

He really had wonderful lips and Amanda found herself wondering exactly what they would feel like. She shook herself and fought to hold off his hypnotic eyes, but even five hundred years of will power couldn't fight lust.

"Maybe we could talk for a while," her host suggested as the conflict crossed her face. "I really have no intention of harming you in any permanent fashion. I was hoping to share the night with a beautiful woman."

He really was just too wonderful to look at--Amanda's mind was wandering again.

"How old are you?" she asked and dragged her mind back from it's downward spiral.

"Older than this castle," he told her with a gorgeous smile.

The Immortal would have been impressed except so was she. It then occurred to her that telling him the truth might give her a little control of the situation.

"I have a confession," she said with her best innocent batting of the eyelids. "I'm a little older than I look as well."

Jacob looked intrigued, he seemed to have realized she wasn't quite an average woman.

"What would you say if I told you that you couldn't really hurt me?" she asked and quickly came to the decision that she was going to enjoy this no matter what. "I'm a little over five hundred years old, and I can't die."

Her companion's eyes had lit up, but Amanda decided to prove her point anyway. She took a knife from the table and stabbed her index finger. Blood dribbled down the digit and she watched Jacob's eyes follow the drip like a spider follows a fly. He looked completely hypnotized and when the wound she had made closed as if it had never been the vampire appeared blissfully happy. He reached out and took her hand, drawing the finger to his lips.

"You, my dear, are a marvel," he said, his voice dripping with desire, and then enveloped the digit in his mouth.

Amanda trembled, the feeling that ran up her arm was incredible. Desire didn't quite cover the emotions she was experiencing and she didn't have to look twice to see them mirrored in her companion's eyes. She was beginning to find the idea of a vampire incredibly arousing and he appeared to have found equal stimulation in her. They both stood up at the same time and the Immortal was not in the mood to waste time. She reached up to the lace on the front of her dress, pulled it loose, shook her shoulders a couple of times, and much to Jacob's surprise the entire garment fell to the floor. Amanda was not wearing anything underneath. When he put aside his momentary shock, the vampire walked up to her and picked her up in one graceful move. The furs on the bed were even softer when there was no coarse fabric to get in the way ...

Scene 1 4

"...Okay, okay," Duncan stepped in as Amanda launched into her description, "we get the picture."

The woman pouted at him.

"But I'd just got to the good part," she complained.

"Damn straight," Richie muttered.

"So, what happened?" Altea wanted to know the ending of the story.

"Oh, we got a little carried away," Amanda told her with a smile, "and I died. When I woke up in the morning he was gone, and I never saw him again."

The two women looked at each other and shared a "so sad" moment.

The moment only lasted a few seconds, as Duncan requested Amanda's help with one of the wall decorations. The bar was quickly shaping up to look like what was supposed to be: a blues bar about to have a Halloween party.

Altea whispered something in Richie's ear, and the pair headed for the main door. "We'll be back in a few minutes," Richie said.

Once Richie and Altea were out the door, Duncan made the observation that he had thought Altea was handling the crowd well, and was really surprised she had lasted until now. Amanda had to agree.

"So, Connor," Joe began, "anything odd ever happen to you on Halloween."

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