Nevena is the fourth vampire featured in the Masters of the Night Anthology, written by Gareth Hanrahan, presenting six stories based on the game, one for each vampire of the Family. The three previous stories presented Laszlo, Imre, and Mila.

The otherwordly Nevena.

Nevena sank her teeth into the man’s throat, tasting the delicious moment of release as her fangs penetrate the jugular vein. She pressed her lips to the wound and drank deep of the man’s life, until his body went limp and light. She let him fall to the ground, quite dead. “Hey!” said his ghost.

She ignored him and wiped her lips with her glove.

“Hey!” he said again. “I say, you, ah… I mean, you can’t just do that.” He gestured to his own corpse, his ghostly hand fading in and out. “You just killed me.”

Nevena had business elsewhere. She turned her back on the ghost and slipped out of the alleyway, joined the teeming crowds of the city’s streets. She was careful not to touch anyone – physical contact triggered her psychometry, giving her brief psychic glimpses of the lives of those she touched, and mortal lives were of little interest to her anymore. To her, the Un-Dead were the only people who could really be said to live – the mortals around her were all ghosts, but some were a little warmer than others.

And some ghosts, it seems, were more persistent than others.

“Come back here!” shouted the ghost. Only she could see or hear the shade. “You can’t just go about biting people and then running off! I’ll… I’ll sue!”

“Go away, little ghost,” sighed Nevena, “go away and be eaten by the Kindly Ones.”


“They will come for you. You will see them as figures in grey, hooded and cloaked. Long ago, I bargained with their masters – the souls of those I kill are theirs to claim. In exchange, I am favored in the spirit realm. You, little ghost, are the coin of this realm. Now go away and wait.”

He didn’t go away. As Nevena made her way across the city, the ghost pursued her. At first, he harangued her, demanding she explain his murder. He shouted at her, pleaded with her, tried to grab her (his hands passed right through her). He prayed, he tried desperately to attract the attention of passers-by (succeeding only in making a few of them shiver, and sent dogs barking), he wept.

It was only when he hit on singing that it gave her pause. The ghost belted out tuneless renditions of hit songs by Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and vampires have inhumanly keen hearing.

“Little ghost,” said Nevena. “You annoy me.” Vampires are inhumanly fast, too – in an instant, she grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, and her pale hands were able to hold his ghostly form. She shook him. “What is your name?”

“Jeffrey Polder!”

“Jeffrey Polder,” she repeated, weighing each syllable with her tongue. The name sounded strange in her accent. “You annoy me, Jeffrey Polder.”

She dragged him through the crowd. A few people shot confused glances at the pale woman’s odd hand gestures as she grappled the wriggling ghost. Nevena ignored them; she scanned the streets of the city until she spotted a little churchyard, where a grey figure waited among the gravestones.

“This one is yours,” she said to the specter. “His blood is on my hands and on my lips. By the compact, he is yours, Kindly One.” “She killed me!” protested Jeffrey Polder.

The hooded figure nodded. “Yes. By the terms of the compact, you are forfeit to us. But I cannot yet claim him. He is too tightly bound to the mortal plane.”

Nevena hissed in irritation. “Then tell me, specter, where I might find a Weaver.”

The grey-clad specter extended an arm, pointing towards the train station.


“What was all that about?” demanded the ghost.

“It means you have unfinished business that keeps you bound here more strongly than other ghosts,” snapped Nevena. “Troublesome wretch!”

“Well, shoot, lady, I’m not too happy about being stuck following you around either. Maybe you shouldn’t have killed me!”

“I kill as I choose,” muttered Nevena. “Now, be silent. There are fates worse than death in this place.”

She led him into the cavernous concourse of the train station. There, squatting in the middle of the vast space was a… a thing for which Jeffrey Polder had no words. Part spider, maybe, part frog, part elephant, but everything about it was wrong. It seemed to boil away at the edges, rippling and condensing, eyes bubbling out of its ectoplasmic flesh. He tried to scream, but Nevena clamped her hand across his mouth.

Divination, Nevena's blood ability.

“Silence!” She hissed into his ear. “Do not offend it.”

“What is it?”

“A spirit. And I am favored among the spirits. Stay here, wait, and I will help you move onwards when I am done.”

She left Polder there, awkwardly haunting a newsstand. He hid behind the magazine rack as she crossed the concourse towards the monster. Fates worse than death, she said, and somehow Polder could believe that. He knew, on some instinctive level, that if the monster saw him, it would not merely devour him, it would assimilate him, make him part of it or bound to it, for all eternity.

Nevena stood in front of the monster. To a living witness, she appeared to be madwoman standing in the middle of the waiting hall, talking to empty air. Only the ghosts could see the truth.

“I demand an oracle,” she proclaimed. “Reveal where my enemies hide. Show me their faces. Tell me their names. Give me the taste of their blood.”

The spirit uncoiled, a limb – tendril? Tentacle? – unfurling and reaching out to touch the vampire. Nevena’s eyes blazed with hellish light for an instant. “I know them,” she whispered to herself.

A line of telephone booths waited at one side of the concourse. Nevena entered one of them. Curious, Polder followed her over. She closed the door in his face. He took a deep breath, then stepped through it.

“You don’t need to breathe, either,” said Nevena as she sorted through a pile of coins. “Stupid little ghost. The memory of lungs. The memory of a voice. Memory holding you here to annoy me. Which one of these coins is it?”

“Lady, I don’t want to hang around here with that… thing! Let’s get out of here!”

“Help me, and I shall lay you to rest. Now, which coin, little ghost?”

“That one. A call costs a nickel.”

“Nick-el,” she repeated. She dug out a scrap of paper from her purse, dialed a number. “Laszlo? Good brother, listen. I have names here. Inquisitors, hunters all. You will hunt them for us, yes? I shall meet you there. Leave some for me.” She recited a list of names and addresses, then hung up.

“You said you’d help me,” said Polder.

“Soon. Soon. You will guide me, first.”

Downtown. Polder guided her through the streets to the address she gave. He began to notice things he couldn’t see before – strange figures in the crowds, ghostly faces staring out of windows, smaller monsters like the thing from the train station, and they bowed down to Nevena as she passed. Once, through a gap in then skyscrapers, he glimpsed a bloody sigil blazing across the night sky, like a whole district of the city had been marked.

“What’s that?”

“My brother’s work,” said Nevena proudly.

“The same one we’re going to see?”

“No. Ishtvan. It will not harm you, little ghost. It is for the living, not the dead.”

“Where did you come from, lady? What did we ever do to you?”

She hissed in irritation. With blinding speed, she pressed her thumbs on the ghost’s eyes and pushed – And he saw. Inquisitors hunting the vampires with stakes and crosses, with burning torches. Then guns, cannons, the old castles blasted into rubble, thieves and brutes digging up the hidden crypts. Vampires screaming as the fires caught them, the sunlight scorched them. The few survivors fleeing, hiding, growing every more desperate. Vampires who had been queens and seers, kings and knights, now hiding in sewers, feeding on rats. The hunters getting closer and closer, the vampires ever fewer and fewer – “That is what you did to us,” said Nevena. “Now, we are here.”

A giant of a man emerged from a nearby doorway. He licked his hands, sucking the blood from between his knuckles. “Sister Nevena,” he growled. “I found them, just where you said I would. I left two alive for you.” He paused, then sniffed the air. “Something is here, yes?”

Clairvoyance: dark ability.

“A little ghost. Pay it no heed.”

Laszlo looked around, his massive head craning this way and that, but his gaze passed over Polder without seeing the ghost. “I have more work to do. Good hunting, sister.” He vanished in a blur of speed.

Nevena ascended the stairs, Polder tagging along after her like a neglected dog.

Inside was a scene of gore. Blood dripped from the ceiling where some unfortunate victim had been smashed against a doorframe. Other limbs lay scattered, torn from their sockets with tremendous force. Polder looked around in horror, but he couldn’t muster a really visceral disgust. Once, in the factory, he saw a man get his arm trapped in the machinery, and even the memory of that sight made him vomit when he still alive. Now, he felt cold and detached.

I really am dead, he thought. His phantasmal shoes left no mark on the bloody floor.

In an upstairs room, they found two alive. Barely alive – Laszlo had broken their legs, hung them up on hooks like carcasses in a slaughterhouse. One was unconscious, the other muttered a desperate prayer as Nevena entered. She killed them one by one, and for an instant Polder glimpsed a grey figure in the room with them, flashing in and out like frames in a movie.

“Those I kill are tribute to the spirits,” repeated Nevena.

“But they’re not hanging around like me.”

“No. Let us find out why you linger, little ghost.”

“I think I have a good idea.” Polder dug his hand into his pocket – dug the memory of his hand into the memory of his pocket – and pulled out the ring.

“I was going to propose, see. You killed me on the way to her.”

Polder let the vampire through the streets of the city, to Melinda’s house in the suburbs. The same path he’d planned to take, all those hours ago, when he was alive. He’d been nervous then, so nervous he hadn’t noticed the pale woman who followed him.

Now, he wasn’t nervous at all. Just very, very cold. He stood there on her little patch of lawn clutching the memory of the ring in his hand, and it felt heavier than the real thing. An anchor, holding him here.

“So, what – how do we do this? Do you… do you tell her I’m dead?”

“I cannot enter her house uninvited,” said Nevena. “But I have other gifts.”

The vampire exhaled a cloud of bluish mist that drifted across the lawn. When it touched Polder, it flowed into him, filling him as though he were a mould, or maybe a balloon, a vessel for the blue mist that now conformed to the remembered shape of his body. He was visible again, real again, for a moment.

“Melinda?” he called.

A light came on. A face in the window, and then she was running out the door, shouting, weeping. “I was so worried,” she said, “but –“ Nevena’s fangs flashed blue, and she leapt at Melinda, knocking her down.

Polder desperately tried to grab at the vampire, but he was only visible – he still had no physical form. His hands passed harmlessly through Nevena as the vampire feasted on Melinda’s life.

“Why? Why?” he cried.

“A kindness,” said Nevena, releasing the lifeless corpse, licking her bloody lips. “This city will belong to the Family, and all who live here shall be ours for eternity. Go, little ghosts. Slip out the door before we seal it shut forever.”

For an instant, grey figures flickered in the driveway. Once, twice, and then only Nevena remained.


In the next article, read the story featuring Ishtvan.

Tags: , , ,