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Authors: Barbara Hambly

The Kindred of Darkness

BOOK: The Kindred of Darkness
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Table of Contents

Cover

A Selection of Recent Titles from Barbara Hambly

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

A Selection of Recent Titles from Barbara Hambly

The James Asher Vampire Novels

 

THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT

TRAVELING WITH THE DEAD

BLOOD MAIDENS
*

THE MAGISTRATES OF HELL
*

THE KINDRED OF DARKNESS
*

 

The Benjamin January Series

 

A FREE MAN OF COLOR

FEVER SEASON

GRAVEYARD DUST

SOLD DOWN THE RIVER

DIE UPON A KISS

WET GRAVE

DAYS OF THE DEAD

DEAD WATER

DEAD AND BURIED
*

THE SHIRT ON HIS BACK
*

RAN AWAY
*

GOOD MAN FRIDAY
*

 

*
available from Severn House

THE KINDRED OF DARKNESS
A James Asher vampire novel
Barbara Hambly

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 

First published in Great Britain 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

First published in the USA 2014 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of
110 East 59
th
Street, New York, N.Y. 10022

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2013 by Barbara Hambly.

The right of Barbara Hambly to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

Hambly, Barbara author.

The Kindred of Darkness – (The

James Asher vampire novels; 5)

1. Asher, James (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Vampires–Fiction. 3. Kidnapping–Fiction. 4. Horror tales

I. Title II. Series

813.6-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8342-1 (cased)

ISBN-13 978-1-84751-497-4 (trade paper)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-483-6 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

For Lucinda

Seldom do the Undead entrust the living with the knowledge of who and what they truly are, lest their revulsion at working for the dead, or their honor as men, or their care for their own souls, at length overcome them and turn them against their evil masters; and seldom do the dead employ a living servant for more than five years, before killing him and all members of his family, to protect their secret.

The Book of the Kindred of Darkness

ONE

‘V
ampires exist.' Dr Osric Millward swept his auditors with a dark gaze almost hungry in its brooding desperation that they should believe. ‘I have seen them. In this city – in these streets – in this modern and progressive year of 1913. Is that so difficult to believe?' He pushed back the silver-shot raven forelock that fell on his high brow, stretched long fingers stained with ink and silver nitrate. ‘Every civilization back to the beginning of time has spoken of them: men and women who prolong their existence after death by drinking the blood of the living. For centuries they've walked the streets of London, in the dark hours when law and reason sleep.'

‘Yes, but if that's the case,' argued Lady Savenake, slipping her Pekinese a fragment of cracker liberally smeared with paté de Strasbourg, ‘why don't we hear about more bled-dry corpses turning up in alleyways?'

Lydia Asher could have answered the question, but didn't. Completely aside from the fact that the vampires of the London nest knew who she was and where she could be found, Dr Millward – whose powerful baritone could stop every other conversation in a drawing room dead in its tracks – had prefaced his remarks on vampires with fifteen minutes on the subject of how the ‘emanations' of the female reproductive system made it impossible for women's brains to grasp either the principles of logic or the ‘masculine intuition' necessary for such disciplines as medicine or the law. She merely dropped another lump of sugar into her tea, and glanced across the drawing room at her cousin Emily, shyly accepting a plate of biscuits from Terence Winterson.

Since Lydia's Aunt Isobel had commanded Lydia to chaperone Emily to Lady Brightwell's tea in order to bring about precisely that encounter – Winterson's father was a baronet worth ten thousand a year – Lydia reflected that it was probably too early to flee.

‘The vampire is a natural phenomenon,' Dr Millward insisted. ‘Centuries of records prove this, to those with minds open to understand—'

‘Couldn't the same be said of ghost stories?' protested Lady Ottmoor, turning her attention from the spring toilettes on display along Park Lane below the drawing-room windows. ‘You're not going to tell us that Anne Boleyn really perambulates the Tower of London with her head tucked under her arm, are you?'

‘But I've seen a ghost!' Young Lady Kentacre nearly bounced on her striped satin chair. ‘Madame Rowena summoned the spirit of Marie Antoinette only last week! I saw her with my own eyes!'

Millward drew back as if her young Ladyship had spilled a slop bucket on his feet. ‘Rubbish!' he boomed. ‘This isn't some silly women's nonsense, of crystal balls and mysterious white figures playing the accordion! These are creatures that do murder in the dark—'

‘And create others of their own kind from their victims,' added Edward Seabury, Dr Millward's (unpaid) secretary and young Lord Colwich's particular friend. His dark eyes were troubled and sad.

‘There are more things in Heaven and Earth,' agreed Lord Colwich, ‘than are dreamt of in your philosophy, and all that.' He nodded wisely – as if ruminating upon the originality of the remark – and went back to contemplating the platter of cucumber sandwiches, seed cakes and caviar being held before him by the footman. Aunt Isobel had hoped to bring Cousin Emily to the attention of this tall, powerfully built young aesthete (his father was the Earl of Crossford), before Lord Colwich's proposal, the previous week, to the daughter of an American millionaire. Aunt Lavinnia had observed that his lordship was in any case far more interested in Ned Seabury than in any of the maidens embarking, like Emily, on their ‘season' that spring. (‘As if Lord Crossford would have considered Emily anyway for his son,' Lavinnia had sniffed. ‘Richard –' Lavinnia's brother, Isobel's husband, Emily's father and Lydia's sole maternal uncle – ‘hasn't a penny over six thousand a year …')

On the second of May, Lydia had received a letter from her aunt, informing her of these developments and of Isobel's subsequent attack of sciatica, and demanding Lydia's attendance in London to chaperone Emily in a revised assault upon the marriage market.
With your husband out of the country you must be in quest of occupation
…

None of Lydia's aunts ever referred to James Asher by name, maintaining the fiction, after twelve years, that if they ignored so lowly a person as a lecturer in folklore and linguistics at New College, Oxford, he would eventually go away.

‘I
do
apologize,' said Lady Brightwell, when Lydia and Cousin Emily took their leave. Her Ladyship glanced back into the drawing room, where Dr Millward was declaiming about the courage and dedication one needed in order to hunt the Undead, to the exclusion of every other attempt at conversation in the room. ‘Noel brought him …'

Lydia followed her nod, but to her myopic vision Noel Wredemere, Lord Colwich, was only a tall, stout blur in a gaudy green-and-yellow waistcoat, now deep in conversation with the graceful shape that could only be Ned Seabury. With Emily's departure, Dr Millward had seized upon the only other male in the room – the hapless Mr Winterson – and was regaling him with accounts of how to manufacture silver bullets in one's rented chambers.

‘Honestly, one tries to oblige, but between that
tedious
professor of his and poor Ned Seabury tagging along … How
can
he still wear his Eton tie, just as if he wasn't a clerk in some law firm or other!'

Thus Lydia's thoughts on the train back to Oxford that night – Dr Millward's assertions notwithstanding – were far more taken up with how she was going to finish her article on the possible medical uses for the newly discovered element ‘radium' for the
British Journal of Medicine
in between taking Emily to fittings for her Court presentation gown, than she was with whatever undead entities might be stalking the streets of London in the dark hours when law and reason sleep.

She'd turned down her aunt's command to accompany Uncle Richard – Viscount Halfdene – and his family to the opera, and since it was Lydia who was paying for Emily's presentation gown there wasn't much Aunt Isobel could say. But there seemed to be no way of getting out of the masquerade ball at Wycliffe House on Saturday night – the eligible Mr Winterson would be there, after all. Aunt Lavinnia – with a daughter of her own to bring out this season – could not be relied upon. (Aunt Harriet, comfortably ensconced with a barrister husband in Maida Vale, was ‘out of the question'.) Lydia only hoped that Aunt Isobel's sciatica would resolve itself quickly, though as Aunt Lavinnia had pointed out after dinner, it never had before. (‘Mark my words, dearest, she'll have it the rest of the season: so if Emily “takes” she can claim credit for having planned her campaign, and if she ends up come August without being engaged it will be your fault.')

Lydia closed her eyes and leaned back against the tufted plush of her first-class compartment – blessedly empty – as the lights of Didcot flashed by in the magical twilight of a spring evening. Tea with her aunts generally gave her a splitting headache. Lydia had fled their world at the age of seventeen to enroll at Oxford – to her wealthy father's disinheriting fury – and a few years previously would have simply torn up Aunt Isobel's note and abandoned Emily to her fate.

But in January of 1912 – seventeen months ago now – Lydia had herself become a mother. And while she hoped she wouldn't become one of those doting parents who found their child's first steps more interesting than an analysis of pituitary secretions, she did find herself understanding her aunt in a way that she never had before.

BOOK: The Kindred of Darkness
6.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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