The conversation was difficult to hear. A power couple approached the count and asked something. But their question was difficult to make out. A lone man spoke on behalf of the count, who stood tall, dark, and silent, his eyes staring onward, beyond everything around him. But then, after the spokesman talked, the husband, an older man in a tuxedo with a grey mustache and blue eyes, raised his voice in a temper, and he was easier to hear.
"Ley lines and Freemason rituals. All very fascinating," said the indignant man. His face darkened into a red hue. "But we didn't come here for a history lesson. We've taken a risk bringing our friends out here like this. These are not ordinary people." As the man spoke, two of the count's security men tensed up, edged forward, and closed in just a little around the count. "We have properties all over this city. We own foundations. We have dual citizenship. You have a lot of powerful people here. Now, if you're just some eccentric millionaire, then our business is through, and you will pay for wasting our time tonight. But---"
"But if you're what we think you are," interrupted the tycoon's younger wife, "and you're the sorcerer we've all heard that you are, then it's time to build bridges and make alliances. So, tell me. Are you, by any chance Egyptian? Is that why you brought us out here to this obelisk?"
The speaker smiled diplomatically and extended his hand out, as the count continued to stand silent, cold, and taller than everyone standing in the circle that surrounded the monument. "My master has spent a great amount of time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, though also a lot of time spent throughout Europe as well."
"A citizen of the world," smiled the woman. "So, what can you tell us about Egypt that we couldn't read out of a book? Do you know something more than what's in that museum over there?" She pointed east, towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Her smile was the only one amid a grim collection of stony faces. The rest of the group of moguls and their wives crowded in around the woman, their pupils dilated and their eyes staring straight, as though they were no longer themselves. Together, in unison, the crowd chanted together, "Read it. Read the stone." And at this, her jaw dropped, her lower red lip quivering almost in fear, were it not for the thrilled look in her seductive young eyes.
"Read here, my lady," said the count's delegate. He bent over and pointed down to a plaque at the base of the obelisk. "Read this right here. Read loud enough for everyone to hear you."
She leaned over, and as she did, the eyes of the crowd returned to normal. They all leaned in, watching her, curious to hear what she would say. She read, a flirtatious smile returning to her lips: "The golden Horus, content with victory, who smiteth the rulers of the nations."
"That is who my master is," said the count's spokesman. "He 'smites the rulers of the nations,' as you can read here. Look, now." The count held in his hands the necromancer's wand and the magical cup from the play. No one saw how he got them. Perhaps the director gave them to him as a memento. Whatever the case, in that moment, it was as though he pulled those props straight out of the air. The count handed the glass over to his delegate, still saying not a single word, but now he looked down at the woman as his speaker continued: "My dear lady, 'you invert the covenants of Nature's trust, and harshly deal like an ill borrower with that you received on other terms! Refreshment after toil, ease after pain, that have been tired all day without repast, and timely rest have wanted! But, fair virgin, this will restore all soon!'"
He shuffled himself, there in the bushes. It was about to happen, and there was nothing he could do about it. If he jumped out to stop what happened next, either the guards of the tycoons, or the guards of the count would pin him to the ground, and they'd disappear him that night. No police presence in the city could protect him from these dangerous people.
The tycoon's wife smiled more, the freckle on her cheek making her look all-the-more younger and coy. Her eyes widened, and she played along: "T'will not restore the truth and honesty that thou hast banished from thy tongue with lies!" She turned her eyes from the delegate to the count himself, who looked down upon her with his amused ebony countenance. She continued: "What grim aspects are these? These ugly-headed monsters Mercy guard me! Hence, with thy brewed enchantments, foul deceiver, hast though betrayed my credulous innocence?"
She addressed the count, but again, it was his delegate who returned with his poetry. And as he did so, he held out the glass to the lady once more, offering it to her to drink. "List, Lady! Be not coy, and be not cozened! Beauty is nature's coin! It must not be hoarded, but must be current, and the good thereof consists in mutual and partaken bliss!"
She pushed the cup away from herself, her husband's eyes wide and his face flush as he watched the exchange with the count's spokesman. "I had not thought to have unlocked my lips in this unhallowed air, but that this Juggler would think to charm my judgement!"
Once more, though, the servant held out the glass to the lady, but this time the count extended his hand a little in the direction of the cup and the lady, gesturing for her to accept the gift. The spokesman said: "But this will cure all straight! One sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste!"
A bright smile grew across her face, and the rest of the small upper crust crowd leaned in to watch, as she accepted the cup with both of her hands, drawing it slowly to her lips, but never taking her eyes off of the count. Perhaps she's rewarding the count for acknowledging her, he wondered. "I drink this cup for the powers I serve." And then she drank.
Swiftly, her eyes flashed wide. She dropped the cup. Gasping, she clutched at her chest. Bending over, she went down, moaning, grabbing onto her head, swaying back and forth, until she finally went to the ground and she was on her knees. Turning black, her hair went into her head, but fur came all over her face and all parts of her. She couldn't speak---her mouth was changing its shape. Her feminine moans grew higher in their pitch until she no longer sounded like a woman. Then there was a black tail that came out of her dress, and her eyes turned yellow, until finally she looked like a humanoid cat, collapsed on the ground and dazed.