Why did so many teenagers fall for Stanley Horowitz's tricks?' 'These were impressionable teenagers, ' Nick explained. 'Many of them were devoted fans of romantic Vampyre stories. They over-romanticized what it means to be a Vampyre, and that gave Stanley a way to manipulate them.' 'I've read Twilight, ' Tamara said. 'My daughter is a huge fan. Is she in any danger?' 'The danger arises from wanting to belong to the in crowd so badly, you lose sight of what's real and what's fantasy.' 'Surely today's teenagers know that vampires are fantasy, ' Tamara said. 'Possibly. But remember, Vampyres are not romantic. Vampyres are dead. They are walking reminders of tragedy. Loving one is necrophilia. And wanting to be one is the first step on the road to catastrophe.
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Good, evil, these are human concepts, ways people have for understanding what it means to be alive, ' Nick said. 'Before people came along, this planet was teeming with life, fighting to survive, to live long enough to reproduce, completing the circle of life.' 'I'm with you so far, ' Elphaba said. 'The circle of life is an essential Wiccan principle, in spite of The Lion King.' Nick ignored Elphaba's bit of humor as his mood became more serious. 'Precisely so. And in this circle of life, you have predators and prey. The predators must kill to eat. If they don't, they starve. Are the predators evil?' 'No, of course not. They're simply acting on their nature.' 'What is human nature, then? Are we a species that builds societies of trust and cooperation, or are we a species that seeks power over our fellow man, even if that means fighting wars or otherwise killing him?' Elphaba frowned, carefully considering her answer. 'I'd like to think we are a species of trust and cooperation.' 'Our entire history is a story of war, of murder and mayhem, of blood running in the streets, ' Nick said quietly. 'Yes, yes it is.' Elphaba leaned back, grimacing. 'We are both, ' Nick said. 'A species of cooperation, and a species of strife. We fight wars, and we also establish the rule of law to mete out justice to the criminals in our midst. Humans are both good and evil.
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Elphaba's face darkened again. Then she asked, hesitantly, as if afraid of the answer, 'So, how do you get the evil life force?' 'From innocent people, Elphaba, ' Nick spoke so quietly he almost whispered. 'I must draw the life force from innocent people. The more innocent they are, the more evil the murder is.' Elphaba jerked as though a shock had struck her in the heart. 'Oh, that's terrible!' 'Yes, it is. Terrible. That word doesn't even do it justice, terrible. There is no Magick more terrible than Magick that cheats death. I have cheated death, and death extracts its price.' Elphaba silently looked at Nick, her expression of revulsion enough to communicate her feelings. 'You shouldn't act so surprised, malyutka, ' Nick said softly. 'It is who I am. And it's worked for me for centuries.' Elphaba sat for a moment, trying to calm herself. 'Yes, you're right. I knew that part of you was a monster. Sometimes it's easy to forget, since you seem to be such a decent guy.' 'Lyches are monsters.
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My legion!' Stanley said. 'I have achieved an even greater level of mastery! Behold!' He held up his beer mug and pointed the open end toward a nearby palm tree. 'Mulciber!' he yelled. Nothing happened. He shook the beer mug, and held it out once more. 'Mulciber!' Once again he intoned the word, but with a slightly different emphasis. Again nothing happened. 'Damn. Mulciber! Mulciber! Mulciber!' Suddenly a large ball of fire erupted from the end of the beer mug, nearly singed Stanley's eyebrows, and flew up into the sky in a large, fiery arc, eventually plunging with a sizzle into the lake.
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Immortal.' Melanie paused and stared into space for a moment, her mouth moving with nothing coming out. 'That is way cool, ' she said finally. 'That probably means you're old. How old are you?' 'Hmm, let's see. I never remember the answer to that question.' Nick calculated for a moment. '819 years old.' 'No way, Jose!' Melanie stopped and stared at him. 'That's even older than my parents!
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The two of them carefully stepped around the crime scene, picking up Nick's arms, legs and organs, and brought them back to his head. They placed his extremities into position, and then pieced in the gorier bits, assembling a gruesome jigsaw puzzle. In a few moments, most of Nick's body was in place. The healing process took about twenty minutes. Elphaba and John stood spellbound as they watched a bloody collection of body parts reintegrate into a human form. As Nick's sinews, nerves, and muscle knit back into place, the gaping wound in Esperto's body also closed, completing a few minutes before Nick's healing. The panther form quickly shrank back to housecat just as Nick sat up. Esperto jumped in his lap and licked the remnants of blood off his face. 'Thank you Esperto, ' Nick said. He looked at Elphaba and John. 'Well, that could have gone better.
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So, what if your entire body was, oh I don't know, dropped into molten metal?' Nick laughed. 'Like the end of Terminator 2? Good question. If there's even a single cell remaining, it can regrow my whole body. But even if there isn't a single cell left, then an ancient spell I put into place when I became a Lych kicks in and regenerates sufficient organic material for the regrowth process to begin.
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Charlie slowly crumpled to the floor, Allison soon joining him. 'Dinner is served!' Stanley trumpeted, as he reached into the steaming mass of offal and fished around for the teens' livers. 'Aha!' he crowed, as he lifted one liver in each hand over his head. Stanley brought his right hand down and took a large bite from the first liver, spreading blood and gore over his face. He chewed for a moment and swallowed, and then bit off a large hunk of the other one. 'All I need are some fava beans and a nice Chianti!' he said as he slurped.
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I didn't think-' Nick began. 'You didn't think! That's your problem, Nick, you just don't think!' Nick struggled to respond. 'You're invulnerable, ' Elphaba continued. 'You're immortal. You're ancient. Nothing fazes you. No situation is too dangerous for you. Chop off your hand, or your head, or pull your liver out and eat it with some fava beans, you don't care! In a few minutes you'll be right as rain.' Elphaba took a deep breath. 'But the rest of us aren't like that, Nick. I only have the one liver, and I need it, thank you very much.' Elphaba's diaphragm rapidly rose and fell.
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Elphaba concentrated on the first Oompa-Loompa on the left. 'Iskviesti Zaibo!' A bolt of lightning seemed to come from everywhere and zapped the poor Dymon, who popped like a kernel of popcorn and let out a squeal. 'Did I hurt it?' But she didn't need an answer, as it pulled itself up from the snow and brushed itself off.
Nick laughed and pet the Wangdoodle on the head. 'Esperto, you silly boy, ' he said to the Wangdoodle. 'Usually, Esperto only transforms when I'm in danger, ' Nick said to Elphaba. 'But whenever he's around Dymons, he loves to play along. Their transformations are to Esperto what a ball of yarn is to a kitten.' Esperto gave out a strange squeaking growl, which Elphaba figured was the Wangdoodle version of a purr. 'What the hell is a Wangdoodle?' Elphaba whispered. 'I haven't a clue, ' Nick laughed.
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Make no mistake, Elphaba, Goddess Magick was potent in the old days. During the Dark Ages the Catholic Church had their hands full fighting it. Unfortunately, in large measure the Church won that war, relegating Wicca, Druidism and the rest to the fringes of society. With vastly weakened power.' 'Except yours, Nick.' 'I've always been a special case, Elphaba, ' Nick explained. 'Even though I began my career as an alchemist, I soon turned away from that practice and forged my own path. I uncovered my own secrets and kept them secret. That's how I was able to maintain my power for so long.
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