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The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 6) - Page 53

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Dominic Dumare showed up wearing a pair of black dress slacks and a black leather jacket unzipped over a grey silk T-shirt. He looked more relaxed without Sabin looking on, like an employee on his day off. Even the neatly trimmed Vandyke beard and mustache seemed less formal.

Dominic walked around the three vampires I'd raised. We'd moved back out into the rubble-strewn main area, so he could see the zombies and the vampires all at once. He paced around the vampires, touching them here and there. He grinned at me, teeth flashing in his dark beard. "This is marvelous, truly marvelous."

I fought the urge to frown at him. "Forgive me if I don't share your enthusiasm. Can you help me put them back the way they were?"

"Theoretically, yes."

"When people start using the word theoretically, it means they don't know how to do something. You can't help me, can you?"

"Now, now," Dominic said. He knelt by Willie, staring up at him, studying him like a bug under a bioscope. "I didn't say I couldn't help. It's true that I've never seen this done. And you say you've done this before." He stood up, brushing off the knees of his pants.

"Once."

"That time was without the triumvirate?" Dominic asked.

I'd had to tell him. I understood enough about ritual magic to know that if we withheld how we'd gotten this much power, anything Dominic helped us come up with wouldn't work. It would be like telling the police it was a burglary when it was really a murder. They'd be trying to solve the wrong crime.

"Yeah, the first time was just me."

"But both times in daylight hours?" he asked.

I nodded.

"That makes sense. We can only raise zombies after the souls have flown. It would make sense that vampires can only be raised during the day. When darkness falls, their souls return."

I wasn't even going to try and argue about whether or not vampires had souls. I wasn't as sure of the answer as I used to be.

"I can't raise zombies during daylight hours. Let alone vampires," I said.

Dominic motioned at all the waiting dead of both kinds. "But you did it."

I shook my head. "That's not the point. I'm not supposed to be able to do it."

"Have you ever tried to raise normal zombies during daylight hours?"

"Well, no. The man who trained me said it wasn't possible."

"So you never tried," Dominic said.

I hesitated before answering.

"You have tried," he said.

"I can't do it. I can't even call the power under the light of the sun."

"Only because you believe you can't," Dominic said.

"Run that by me again."

"Belief is one of the most important aspects of magic."

"You mean, if I don't believe I can raise zombies during the day, I can't."

"Exactly."

"That doesn't make sense," Richard said. He leaned against one of the intact walls. He'd been very quiet while I talked magic with Dominic. Jason, still in wolf form, lay at his feet. Stephen had cleared some of the broken stones and sat beside the wolf.

"Actually," I said, "it does. I've seen people with a lot of raw talent that couldn't raise anything. One guy was convinced it was a mortal sin so he just blocked it out. But he shone with power whether he wanted to accept it or not."

"A shapeshifter can deny his power all he wants, but that doesn't keep him from changing," Richard said.

"I believe that is why lycanthropy is referred to as a curse," Dominic said.

Richard looked at me. The expression on his face was eloquent. "A curse."

"You'll have to forgive Dominic," Jean-Claude said. "A hundred years ago, it never occurred to anyone that lycanthropy could be a disease."

"Concern for Richard's feelings?" I asked.

"His happiness is your happiness, ma petite."

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Jean-Claude's new gentlemanly behavior was beginning to bug me. I didn't trust his change of heart.

Cassandra said, "If Anita didn't believe she could raise the dead during daylight hours, then how did she do it?" She had joined in the metaphysical discussion like it was a graduate class in magical theory. I'd met people like her in college. Theorists who had no real magic of their own. But they could sit around for hours debating whether a theoretical spell would work. They treated magic like higher physics, a pure science without any true way of testing. Heaven forbid the ivory tower magicians should actually try out their theories in a real spell. Dominic would have fit in well with them, except he had his own magic.

"Both occasions were extreme situations," Dominic said. "It works on the same principle that allows a grandmother to lift a truck off her grandchild. In times of great need, we often touch abilities beyond the everyday."

"But the grandmother can't lift a car at will, just because she did it once," I said.

"Hmm," Dominic said, "perhaps the analogy is not perfect, but you understand what I am saying. If you say you do not, you are merely being difficult."

That almost made me smile. "So you're saying that I could raise the dead in daylight if I believed I could."

"I believe so."

I shook my head. "I've never heard of any animator being able to do that."

"But you are not merely an animator, Anita," Dominic said. "You are a necromancer."

"I have never heard of a necromancer that could raise the dead in broad daylight," Jean-Claude said.

Dominic shrugged gracefully. It reminded me of Jean-Claude. It takes a couple hundred years to make a shrug pretty. "I don't know about broad daylight, but just as some vampires can walk around during the day, as long as they are sufficiently sheltered, I believe the same principle would apply to necromancers."

"So you don't believe Anita could raise the dead at high noon out of doors, either?" Cassandra said.

Dominic shrugged again. Then he laughed. "You have caught me, my studious beauty. It may well be possible for Anita to do exactly that, but even I have never heard of such a thing."

I shook my head. "Look, we can explore the magical implications later. Right now, can you help me figure a way to put the vampires back without screwing them up?"

"Define screwing them up," Dominic said.

"Do not joke, Dominic," Jean-Claude said. "You know precisely what she means."

"I want to hear it from her lips."

Jean-Claude looked at me and gave a barely perceptible shrug.

"When darkness falls, I want them to rise as vampires. I'm afraid if I do this wrong, they'll just be dead, permanently."

"You surprise me, Anita. Perhaps your reputation as the scourge of the local vampire populace is exaggerated."

I stared at him. Before I could say something that sounded like bragging, Jean-Claude spoke. "I would think what she has done today is proof enough of how very much she deserves her reputation."

Dominic and the vampire stared at each other. Something seemed to pass between them. A challenge, a knowledge, something. "She would make an amazing human servant if only some vampire could tame her," Dominic said.

Jean-Claude laughed. The sound filled the room with echoes that shivered and danced across the skin. The laughter swept through my body, and for the briefest moment, I could feel something touch me deep inside where no hand belonged. In another context Jean-Claude might have made it sexual; now it was simply disturbing.

"Don't ever do that again," Richard said. He rubbed his bare arms as if he were cold or trying to erase the memory of that invasive laughter.

Jason trotted over to Jean-Claude, to butt his head against the vampire's hand. He'd liked it.

Dominic gave a little bow. "My apologies, Jean-Claude, you have made your point. If you wished to, you could cause the damage that my master caused by accident at your office."

"My office," I said. Personally, I didn't think that Jean-Claude could cause damage with just his voice. I'd been in situations where if he could have done it, he would have. No sense telling Dominic that, though.

Dominic gave an even lower bow in my direction. "Your office, of course."

"Can we cut the grandstanding?" I said. "Can you help us?"

"I am more than willing to try."

I walked up to him, picking my way over the broken stones. When I was standing as close as was polite and maybe an inch or so more, I said, "These three vampires are not an experiment. This is not some graduate study in magical metaphysics. You offered to teach me necromancy, Dominic. I think you're not up to the job. How can you teach me when I can do things you can't? Unless, of course, you can raise vampires from their coffins?"

I stared into his dark eyes the entire time I spoke, watching the anger narrow his eyes, tighten his lips. His ego was as big as I'd hoped. I knew he wouldn't disappoint me. Dominic would do his best for us now. His pride was at stake.

"Tell me exactly how you called the power, Anita, and I will build you a spell that should work--if you have the control to make it work."

I smiled at him, and I made sure it was just this side of condescending. "You come up with it, I can pull it off."

He smiled. "Arrogance is not a becoming trait in a woman."

"I find it a very becoming trait," Jean-Claude said. "If it's deserved. If you had just raised three vampires from their daytime rest, wouldn't you be arrogant, Dominic?"

His smile widened. "Yes, I would be."

Truth was, I didn't feel arrogant. I was scared. Scared that I'd screwed Willie up and he would never rise again. I felt bad too, about Liv and Damian. It wasn't a matter of liking them or not; I didn't mean to do it. You shouldn't extinguish someone's life force by accident. If I felt half as secure as my words to Dominic, why did my stomach hurt?

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