Chapter Thirteen

He is breathing easier…

Again, the streets of Boston speed by as the van moves swiftly to what will be another court meeting with the Prince in dire circumstances, and this time it is not only Concord who is hurt but others due to some plot that is swirling under the surface of the court.

Numb to what is going on around him…

I wish I could feel numb about all this; it is only by sheer willpower I keep myself from falling apart and knowing that I had reached such a decision regarding the premeditated murder of some one at my mercy

I am nothing more than a monster

It was only a couple of months ago that things were looking up, with the dossier I had given to Konrad and then all our work on the mystery of Hardcastle’s high fall leading to more good news. On the collection of my artwork from Stevie’s gallery, I let Eleanor engage him in conversation regarding a piece of structure whilst I signed the visitor’s book and took a closer look. It was clean, unbelievably clean, and not only that but his desk had been tidied slightly, maybe if we hadn’t seen it before then it would have worked but it wasn’t as disorganised as before and the collection note wasn’t there but a DHL generic one. Someone had been along tidying after themselves, going back to Eleanor’s side I complimented her choice but then deliberately picked at Stevie’s mind, the dominate was similar to the lawyers,

A Ventrue had done this.

The voice said it was my blood that caused us all to be locked in there… my fault

Once we left the gallery we looked at whether we could get anything from the cameras of local businesses as I remember Connor watches ours so maybe but all cameras that may have caught someone were damaged. A dead end so we met with our missing fourth liege Malcolm to ask about Jeanette and her work as he signed her visitor’s art piece, now he is focused with the rebuilding of his theatre the chances are his work will be feted without Hardcastle working against him as critics seem to be roundly relooking at his back catalogue. However his association with the female artist was more carnal in nature, he pointed out the differences in signatures on the column, those near the top and slightly messy were those that Jeanette had slept with, as I recall a fair amount of Toreadors were on that list. Eleanor found a certain amount of amusement in this and we left as soon as Malcolm explained that Hardcastle rarely scouted talent himself, he used his assistants to find highly profitable work but he would be better if it was woodwork.

After we discussed the findings Eleanor pointed out we couldn’t really get any further in this as I mooted that Bartlesby had in the past been highly slighted by Hardcastle in the form of a painting, which was worth the money paid but it was a small painting and Bartlesby had cleared a substantial wall for it, Hardcastle let it known to the court about the fit that the eldest childe of Winthrop had. Eleanor and Imaad agreed it could be a factor but we decided then mutually that it would be best for me to see Konrad and see if it was a test, for me or Concord I was not sure. The cab journey to Moonshine was uncomfortable, how was I to phrase the question I wondered but that was for naught as Michael waylaid me as I walked in and politely asked for us to cease our investigations.

Chillingly polite under his softly spoken words, he indicated that he had already spoken to Konrad which explained the less mellow drumming I could hear and then calmly told me in exchange he would speak to Winthrop regarding his condition for consideration and that he would remove the objections to the mosque, he would allow me to take the credit for the last item, kindly. When I just watched him silently, he reminded me that he was politely asking, and he would hate to have to ask more firmly. I agreed to his terms, not that we could prove our thoughts to the court, but asked him if it was Bartlesby. “I am my brother’s keeper,” I hope that is not a hint to his future plans, Winthrop is still very religiously motivated and it appears to stretch to Michael as well. A compliment on my skill of auspex, one that says it is being filed for use later and that was all.

It was no good to Stevie in that room; it revealed nothing that would help us get more air into the box

I rearranged the offer to be more palatable to Eleanor and Imaad without the threat and they accepted… then the start of the fall, as Merisi decided to hold a gathering at the Cathedral, new to Boston and with his ending to the Hardcastle event he is now seen as important by the Toreador. We wandered around, I couldn’t help but remember the last visit here, when I was drawn away by music and I left the others briefly to join the dance floor to see if I could replace that memory but then Imaad found me to say Eleanor had been taken. He immediately threw me into Eleanor’scar and drove us though Boston following a trail only he could see as I phoned Tranter and asked him to meet us by the docks, was there that Imaad broke down swearing as he yelled that the spell he used would be affected if they put her in water, all tracks that both men found were no help, that was when I phoned Thomas and asked for his help. Fifteen minutes later as we drove at speed back to the Cathedral he phoned back, he could do nothing, it was like Boston was a dead magical area, who could do this?

Kindred magic, Thomas was adamant…

The Prince was furious that one of his lieges is missing and tasked all other lieges to find her. Merisi just as furious as we realised this must also be his haven and it has been violated as the security systems were damaged…ah like those at the gallery. Looking at the footage there was I headed to the area of the man that approached Eleanor and tried my hardest to use my skills to pick his aura up; it was harder than any training either James or Kingston put me though. The red tinged lust that clings, the hint of love in a corner, the happy colours of those enjoying the evening, and the colours moving like colourful scarves in the wind as other auras move though them, focusing past them I picked out the memories of the man, he was waiting for someone in a group that looked like ours, he waited in a web of willing blood dolls like a spider. Merisi looked even more furious at my words but then confirmed it.

Silas and Michael pored over a map of the city as Imaad traced the route we took and both swore as they pointed out the route was long but was a black route with no way of using technology to trace them, it was at this point I left, quietly saying Scott to Imaad who agreed with a nod as I got into a cab outside and mentally prepared a long route to Scott Kerr’s shop.

I don’t want to give my blood to him but what did they drug him with, he still hasn’t woken up, the streets just aren’t moving fast enough. The medical care should help but we are still minutes away

Another mage and it would have been another debit if it wasn’t for the cab driver ignoring my words….

…and a text saying to forget Kerr and go where the cab took me, the Italian Embassy, and to Gaveston who is alive and worried that if Eleanor isn’t found quickly Johannes will break his cover wreaking the trap they are setting. The Embassy is technically Vatican soil, nulling all magical attempts to find them according to Gaveston he tells me to look at Silas and Bartlesby and then…

….Another mage and it would have been another debit if I hadn’t remembered that Silas spoke after Michael maybe he got caught up with what Michael said and missed something in the rush to find Eleanor, a grumbling cab driver then took me to Silas’ bar. It is an odd visit, something keeps telling me to speak to the eldest childe of Winthrop and I wave goodbye to Silas as he tells me he will contact me with his findings later.

I leave in time to be staked by someone jumping out of a cab that nearly hits me; I can’t even manage to run from danger. It is my fault and only my own that I wake in a locked film safe and Eleanor looking at me with another woman there, jaded colours clings to her, slight panic setting in which turns to anger as I attempt to exercise control over her to calm but it is struggled off easily and I go for the truth, we don’t need to breathe, she does so it would be better for her to remain calm.

Stay away from me, you are monsters… and I agree with her but then I notice just as I turn her aura is wrong, it is like something is covering… protecting. It refused to answer my question on what was she, taunting me with the death of the guard instead.

It is right, I am a monster, and I have never denied that, I try to be better but it can’t change the base of what I am

Then the door opens to the malkivian that was playing Chess with Winthrop at the Cathedral and throws in Stevie, unconscious and beaten, he must have put up a fight. I try to keep him talking to allow more air into the room but he smirks and comments on the double doors, the other of course is locked behind him. His comments on a knight and bishop captured are trite but sting as the door slams shut, I examine Stevie, he is ok for now and I am not sure how long the drugs will last in his system.

The girl is right I am a monster but how does a girl I have never met know about that death which weighs against my heart?

With an apology to a very confused Eleanor I turn and charge with fangs out at the girl only to be thrown back, hitting the far wall with a heavy blow, the girl’s face is blank and that voice is not hers. All bargaining fail as it is only concerned the girl lives; it claims that neither it nor the girl can do anything, in the girls case because she is too young, seeing the jaded aura of the girl, she is already been kicked down too many times, life hasn’t been kind but it is still more a choice than ours. The voice to my final attempt that if it could help us save both of the humans coldly replies she will live and I feel the air shift around her.

So this was the point I made that decision, it was possible that others could find us in time but I knew from my past as a nurse that the likelihood was that Stevie was going to wake up as the air grew short and would have to suffer a painful death as the air finally ran out, it would be kinder…

No, I will not lie like that even to myself What I would have done would have been to suffocate him before he woke and that may have basis for being better than being awake and dying… Apart from I could just have embraced him Which is better out of the three options?

None of them

As a kindred he would lose his family, that beautiful feeling that he has attached to the pictures at his gallery.

What does he gain? Immortality though death, he loses everything that matters to him now.

I can’t even give him a choice, a choice made in this situation is no choice, and the desire to survive is strong in everything.

In each case I would be killing him

Even now I can’t put my feelings into thoughts, they become platitudes and that was not what happened.

Thankfully I didn’t have to do as I prepared a small cushion to put over his face, hell broke loose and the door swung open to reveal a bloody and battered Konrad.

The air rushed in and it was then as I spoke harshly to the girl’s protector and realised it had bluffed me, the air wasn’t settled around her, it had been pushing the air towards Stevie, and they disappeared before I could say anything. It let me make that decision, that awful decision and now I have to live with it

Chapter Thirteen

The Hollow Crown Archabyss