We’re back with a brand-new episode of our queer, Philly-based switchblade-and-sorcery web novel, The Dread Eclipse, with new updates published weekly on Thursdays!
In “Tea and Antipathy,” Caren and Nathaniel bond over gourmet cheesesteak and family traditions—and, together with Ash and Sicko Mode, track down their very first vampire.
Enjoy the preview below, along with a link to the full episode and a free downloadable EPUB and PDF of all episodes to date. ✨
“Tea and Antipathy”
story by Mabel Harper & Emrys Webb
written by Emrys Webb
“So what I’m getting from all this is,” said Caren, “if these motherfuckers decide we’re food not friends, we’re fucked.”
“Vampires are dangerous, to say the least. The older ones, anyway.” Ash closed his laptop, stored it in his satchel. Stifled a wracking yawn. “To the point that,” he went on mid-yawn, “even the Auctoritas Magicae are scared to make trouble with them. Which is why, as a Martial Magus, I’m not officially authorized to interfere with them unless they: one, attack me personally; two, attack another faction-affiliated mage; or, three, violate the Occultation Protocols—which in their case means failing to make their kills appear to have a mundane cause of death, or failing to keep their thralls mum. Basically, in the event one of them attacks one of you three but doesn’t bother me, I’ll end up in deep shit with the A.M. if I try to help you.”
“Lucky for us Greek fire isn’t one of the best known ways to take them down,” said Caren, sarcastically. “Fucking Auctoritas Magicae Old World bureaucrat heads-up-their-asses privileged fascist racist motherfucking pieces of shit—no offense.”
Ash waved his hand, None taken.
“And you said if they drink a mage’s blood, they can use the mage’s powers?” said Nathaniel.
“According to a couple of these sources”—Ash indicated his stack of old books—“yes, for as long as the mage’s blood remains in the vampire’s system. But only innate powers, not learned skills or powers that rely on the use of magical tools. For instance, if a vampire drank my blood, they wouldn’t be able to use my combat alchemy powers, because they wouldn’t have either my tattoos or the know-how to use them. If they drank Caren’s blood, they wouldn’t be able to use any powers related to her implanted amulets. But if they drank Vernon’s blood…well, that would probably be pretty bad news for all of us.”
Sicko Mode smiled beatifically.
“Also,” Ash went on through another bracing yawn, “if the vampire has learned any magic skills of their own, theoretically they could use any mage’s mana as fuel for any spells they happen to know. This combined with the lack of Auctoritas Magicae protection would ostensibly make any factionless mage a pretty tempting snack. Long story short, you three especially might want to be careful about letting the Leeches know you’re mages till we’ve assessed the situation and determined whether it’s worth the risk.”
“Well, it’s only the older vampires we really have to worry about, right?” said Nathaniel.
“The younger ones do sound a lot less scary,” agreed Ash. “They’re basically like superpowered humans who don’t age, so still vulnerable to all the same violent causes of death that humans are. And by all accounts they’re easy to outsmart, because they tend to be kind of not-all-there. The older ones, though…”
“…There’s seriously no documented way to kill them?” said Caren.
“Like I said before, the prevailing consensus seems to be: cut them into tiny pieces, put each piece in a sealed adamantine container, and bury them all miles apart. Even then, there are two separate accounts of this protocol being followed and the vampire somehow returning. Which is why most of the advice I’ve found concerning vampires is: Stay the fuck away from the old ones.”