“The ghost I’m following was the villain that had tried to kill Mum and Dad,” Quill deadpanned. “What exactly did she do?”
“She routinely stole blood from others,” Doyle said, running a hand through his hair. “Having an endless supply of blood enabled her to live beyond her fair share of years.”
“She was a blood mage?”
“No.” Doyle shook his head. “But he was… The man whose corpse you found in the waterfall’s cave. He helped her steal blood so she could continue living.”
“How does that work?” Quill asked.
“Blood is the plasma of life,” Doyle said. “It’s one of the most important components to live. Without blood, you die.
“A blood mage can direct the flow of blood,” the older man continued, “no matter whether it is inside a body or not. Aidan and I call it a blood transfusion. If someone is injured and losing blood, as a blood mage I, for example, am able to direct some blood from another and direct it into the injured person to help him live. Take too much blood, though…”
“The other person will die,” Quill finished, and Doyle nodded. “Was she really hurt?”
“She was years ago,” Doyle said. “She had been poisoned and it had continued to multiply and spread throughout her bloodstream. The man wasn’t prepared to lose her.”
“No, her advisor,” Doyle said, “but everyone knew that he had deeper feelings for her, herself included. She used it to her advantage.
“She had heard tales of mages who controlled blood and ordered him to find one that could rid her blood of the poison,” Doyle continued. “He did, but… the blood mage could only do so much with the way the poison operated. The blood mage taught the advisor how to use blood magic to give her a few more years of life.
“It worked, but…” Doyle took a deep breath. “They did it often, too often. Eventually her blood was free of the poison.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Quill asked.
Doyle paused. “It depends on your point of view,” he said. “On one hand, she was healed. On the other… her daughter was dead.”
Quill blanched. “They used the daughter’s blood?”
“Over the years, the daughter had volunteered to give her mother clean blood,” Doyle said, “but instead of the advisor just taking a bit of blood, he was switching the plasma streams entirely between the two women. Eventually, the daughter had all the poison running through her veins. And she died.”
“She really was a villain,” Quill said, turning his glare to the gravestone in front of them.
“If she was aware as to what her advisor was doing,” Doyle interjected. He shrugged when Quill raised an eyebrow.
“If that was the case,” Quill said, “then the advisor was the villain–”
“For trying to rescue the woman he loved?” Doyle waited a couple of heartbeats before he added, “Perhaps the advisor hadn’t realized that he was killing the daughter in the process. It could very well have been the fault of the blood mage that had taught him blood magic for not properly explaining the process.”
“That would have been an accident–”
“Or negligence,” Doyle cut in. “Can you really say who is the villain, Quill? The woman who was just trying to stay alive? The man who, accidentally or not, killed to save her? Or was it the mage that had taught the magic in the first place?”
Quill took a few moments to think until he said, “I suppose it was the mage who had started this whole thing, huh?”
He glanced up at Doyle and saw the sad smile on the man’s face.
“Quill,” the blood mage said, “I didn’t mean to be a villain…”