The situation was way
too complicated to explore just now, but there were just a few
pieces of information Julian wanted.
"Do you know where you've
been for the last couple of days?" he asked calmly as Lillie
entered the room silently behind Richie.
The Immortal shook his head,
everything was fuzzy.
"Paints," he said slowly,
"all I remember is, there were paints."
"How about who embraced
you?" Julian suspected that he was not going to get an answer,
but he tried anyway.
His subject just looked blank.
"It has to have been Alexae,"
the voice was Lillie's and she walked round to get a better look
at the man who had so recently wrecked part of her club. "I
should have realised earlier. He hasn't been around since this
one disappeared, I just assumed he was creating something, until
I was informed what had walked into the Haven this evening. Alexae
took an interest at the club the other night, I didn't think he'd
go this far."
Again a name caused a reaction
in Richie and the image of lying on a couch half naked while a
man painted him flashed through his mind. Then the memory turned
red and became unclear again.
"Didn't want to loose me,"
was what Richie found himself say, even though he had no idea
where the thought came from.
"Where is he now?"
Julian did not let up on the questions, there was no telling how
long the young man would remain rational.
There was real concentration
on the Immortal's face as he tried to remember at least a scrap
of information, but the mists in his muddled mind would not clear.
There were barriers in his mind that he did not understand and
could not get past.
"I don't know," he
said finally, "there are just these big blanks."
The Prince looked up at Cash
and the Gangrel disappeared, he knew where Alexae should be and
he was going to check. If the Toreador had gone to so much trouble
to create a childe it was unlikely he would have just let him
It seemed that there was little
information to be had out of Richie and in this state he seemed
very pliable. Julian exerted only a little of his own power and
the Immortal calmed visibly. His heart was beating in a slow rhythm,
and he looked more human than vampire.
"Why don't you wait in the
other room," the Prince suggested calmly, "we have some
business to deal with, and it looks like you could do with some
rest. There's a large couch in there and Daedalus will show you
the way. If there's anything you need, just ask."
The Immortal didn't even try
to protest, he just excepted the hospitality without even considering
the ulterior motives behind it.
As the Nosferatu walked back
into the conference room he found his compatriots sitting in their
respective seats, and Frank pacing around nervously.
"He found a pencil and paper
on the table," Daedalus observed calmly, "and appears
totally absorbed in drawing pictures of you."
He looked directly at Lillie,
but she said nothing.
"He did that at my place,"
the cop commented and tried to bring his feet under control. "He's
been with me all day, and take it from me, he has no problem with
"Why didn't you bring him
straight here, Frank?" Julian asked and managed to make it
sound almost like it wasn't an accusation.
The man looked unhappy by the
tone of the question, he didn't like his actions being questioned.
"I would have done, but
he didn't want to come," the cop shot back, "and if
you expected me to argue with him, you have to be mad. The guy
has hearing like a wolf, and was sleeping next to the phone, what
did you expect me to do?"
It was a sensible argument and
Julian decided that maybe Frank had had no choice. At least everything
seemed to be going their way for now.
"Okay," Luna said calmly,
"but what I want to know is what has Alexae created with
his meddling? There is power in our new associate that cannot
come from any source I know."
There were ways that Kindred
could increase their individual abilities other than just surviving,
but not to the extent that they could take on a Nosferatu after
just days. It was Daedalus to whom all eyes turned.
"I cannot explain the source
of his prowess," the white skinned man said evenly, "but
I will say that I believe it is fading. In the few moment for
which I was in contact with him, I believe I actually felt his
abilities diminish. It was only marginal but it was definitely
He looked at the other two Kindred
"I had thought the stories
I had heard of other eternal beings to be legend until proof of
their existence was shown to me," he continued calmly. "Since
they actually exist it is logical to assume that the tales are
not all fiction either. If so it would seem that to combine an
Immortal and a Kindred would be to try and pair direct opposites.
They are fundamentally alive, we are fundamentally
dead, I would hazard a guess that by his very nature, Mr Ryan
cannot be one of us. I would therefore go as far as saying, I
believe he is becoming human again. I cannot say how long it will
take, but I would suggest we keep him here until the truth of
the matter is revealed."
Daedalus never spoke unless he
meant it, so Julian just accepted what he said. He nodded and
glanced around calmly.
"That leaves the mystery
of how it is he feels like a Toreador of more than a few centuries,"
the Prince said slowly. "Even if this problem finds it's
own solution, I would still like to know how it came about. This
is something we do not want to happen again."
The others nodded in agreement,
even Frank could see the sense in that. Unfortunately for him,
his beeper chose just the wrong moment to go off.
"Damn," he said loudly
and then looked at Julian. "Can I use your phone, please?"
The Ventrue half smiled, but
nodded as well. It seemed like such a normal event amidst what
had been complete chaos. There was a lot of talking to be done,
and Julian expected trouble from Cameron's direction, thanks to
what Richie had done to the Brujah. As the cop disappeared through
the door, he called the meeting to order once more.
There were no signs of life at
Alexae's apartment as Cash and two of his most trusted clan mates
walked up the stairs to the penthouse. It was only as they came
through the last floor door, into what was almost a lobby that
anything untoward became apparent. Lillie's money paid for private
security and no nosy neighbours, but even so it was usually wise
to shut the front door. The three Gangrel headed for the inner
sanctum swiftly and silently.
They were met by an utter mess:
there was furniture every where, and spots of paint over just
about everything, almost as if someone had thought to create a
work of art. There was a strange order in the chaos and even as
they looked, the three Kindred found their eyes dragged to the
centre of the room where they immediately saw the major exhibit.
On a table in front of a very
large canvas, Alexae was lying, sprawled over the surface with
a paintbrush sticking out of his heart. If it hadn't been quite
so serious a matter it might actually have been funny. An Artiste,
paralysed by his own tools. Richie had not stopped there, however,
and if any of the recently arrived Kindred had been Toreador they
would have admired the workmanship. Alexae had had most of his
blood drained via a slit in the side of his neck, but his childe
had not used it to bolster his own power. Instead, in his rage
and madness, the young Toreador had used it to create, and on
the canvas was a tonal study of Lillie.
The blood painting was perfect,
down to the finest detail, but that really wasn't what was on
Cash' mind as he hurried to the side of the prone vampire. He
didn't even hesitate as he gripped and pulled out the wooden shaft,
releasing Alexae from paralysis. He expected a show of anger,
even though the Toreador would be weak from lack of blood, what
he did not think would happen was what did.
"My god, he's magnificent,"
were the first words out of the older Kindred's mouth.
The helpless creature had been
lying there all day, and his first sentence was in praise of the
Kindred who had done this to him.
"It was incredible,"
the Toreador insisted with all the strength he had left, "he
was so powerful. And this," he turned to the canvas and actually
smiled, "has so much style."
At that the Gangrel Primogen
decided he would never understand his Toreador cousins, and chose
to ignore the reaction. He had a feeling Alexae was lucky to be
alive, but he wasn't going to comment.
"The Prince would like to
see you," he said evenly, "we have a car downstairs."
The older vampire didn't seem
to really hear him, he appeared entranced by the painting, but
he had no strength to resist when he was politely herded towards
"Stay here and make sure
no-one disturbs anything," Cash told one of his companions,
"I think Mr Luna will want to see this."
Then he took his charge out of
the apartment, and left his associate with the somewhat disturbing
There had been no measure of
time as far as Richie was concerned as he sat by the window and
drew on the pad that he had found. He had no understanding of
his need to create, and before Alexae, would have claimed no ability
either. The pencil seemed to have a mind of it's own, and he was
actually quite content as he produced a miniature portrait of
the Primogen of his clan. It was only as he finished it that he
found his outlook had changed once again.
He smiled to himself, once more
in the grip of Kindred passions and gazed around with vampire
senses. No heart beat sounded in his chest, and the night filled
It was not the angry want of
power which drove him now, but it seemed to be a fusion of childlike
wonder and a taste for freedom. He really had little idea what
he was doing, but without hesitating he put the picture aside,
stood up and flexed his powers of shape-changing for the first
time. Nobody notice the eagle which soared out the window as if
it had been born to the sky.
They found him gone only a few
minutes later, and Julian was not very happy.
"He may become human again
soon," he said with a cool anger, "but for now he is
my problem. Get Duncan MacLeod over here, we need to know what
we are up against."
He turned and stalked into his
study, leaving the others to do his bidding.
The roof top was like hundreds
of others all over the city, but the bird swooped down as it saw
a shape which caught it's interest. Almost as soon as he touched
down, the Kindred morphed back into his own shape, and stood staring
at the back of the person who had attracted his attention. She
was pale against the night sky, dressed in a long white dress
with only a battered leather jacket against the chill of the air.
Her hair fell in long blond tresses around her shoulders and for
a long moment Richie just stood there looking at her.
She was staring down at the road
below the apartment building as if fascinated by the distance,
and her sorrow was almost tangible to the vampire behind her.
He was as silent as the moon, and she had no idea he was there,
not until he spoke.
"Are you going to jump?"
he asked in a voice that could have charmed the birds from the
Her back tensed slightly, but
she did not look round at him.
"What's it to you if I am?"
she asked in a cold, deriding tone.
"Oh nothing," Richie
replied calmly, "I was just wondering. Do you live here,
or did you just pick this building because it's high?"
She laughed at that, she hadn't
expected him to be quite so remote about the whole thing. The
question really did make him sound as if he was just curious.
"I live here," she
replied, eyes still intent on the drop below her, "not that
anyone cares. I'm going to fall past all those closed windows,
let them see me jump to my death. Then they'll know my name, then
they'll realise I exist. The mouse from number 46, finally done
something with her life to warrant notice."
She felt his closeness before
she actually looked up to find him standing on the edge right
next to her. He was watching her with wide open blue eyes, but
much to her surprise he was not reaching for her. There was a
slightly sad expression on his face, but his gaze told her that
he was not going to stop her if she chose to step into thin air.
"Maybe I can give you something
that is better than that," he said quite calmly and smiled.
It was the smile that made her
tremble inside, and the eyes which made her reach out her hand.
The phone call had not really
surprised MacLeod, he had been waiting for them to get round to
him. In the days he had spent nosing around he had come to the
conclusion that Richie was not dead, and that the peculiar community
around Lillie that was not quite the underworld, had something
to do with his disappearance. Julian Luna was a man with a past
which did not quite add up, and the Highlander recognised the
signs. The fact that he was now invited to the man's mansion was
not much of a shock.
He had been admitted by a young
looking man with a slightly wild look about him, and he was shown
into a room with a large table and several cold faced people.
Lillie and Julian he recognised, most of the others he had seen
around, but had no names for the faces. Only a stunning individual
with long brown hair and classically good looking features gave
him someone to look at he had not seen before.
of Part 6