A Crow at the King's Gate

Harbourside – Boston
Boston – January 2000

“Someone’s grouchy tonight.” Doyle flips over the CD in the Jeep.

“It’s probably his time of the month. He’s a moody old bird.” Johannes languid drawl would make it appear he was distracted. Kingston knows better, he’s waiting to ask

“It might just be the ‘music’, you seem to be getting into Johannes. Isn’t it a little late to have a teenage rebellion?” The truth is more simple, the night had not gone well, the dream was back again. Every single night for three months now, he sees himself calling down fire and watching the eyes of Lambe’s childe scream at him. He wonders how this will happen, will it finally give him the access to Lambe he needs?

Some pounding music starts to blare out of the CD, “We’ll find you if we’re wanting to” – “How Apt. Speaking of which – there goes our boy.” Joshua Crouch loops out of the treeline, sniffing the air. “Shall we start our intervention for Von Pettenkoffer’s poster childe over there” Kingston concludes with disdain.

A grin that would fit a fallen angel comes from the increasing shadows in the car. “Yes, lets. Megan, watch for civilians. Kingston – frighten him down the alley. I’ll capture him in the shadows.”

Mentally, Kingston prepares his ritual, repeating his sire’s name like a mantra to focus his rage and anger into the flames.

City Light’s Bookstore
San Francisco – California
July 1957

“This trembling, adored, tousled bird mad girl.” Robert Duncan finishes his poem by slamming down on the Bongos. An appreciative round of applause fills the room, taking a deep inhale on his cigarette, he drinks in the vibe of the room. Most of the listeners are new to the scene, drawn here by the publication of Howl last year, and the obscenity trial it spawned, most look to be overly straight. He doubts outside of Allen and Lawrence that any of them understood the other symbolisms in the poem.

He moves over towards the coffee bar, intending to acquire some of the more ‘special mix’ kept for regulars. A striking man, dressed like an upmarket lawyer comes over to him, he offers a hand out to him, its freezing to the touch, and for a second he has a flash of a blood soaked room, an old scent like incense and a room in New York from the last century. “A fascinating poem, I’m not sure whether I found the references to Whitman or Shamanism most interesting.”

“What are you.”

“Oh many things, but right now, horny. You?”

The Brick – Roadhouse Bar
Phoenix, Arizona
December 1985

“Don’t look don’t look”, from the shadows the Lord makes a subtle gesture, holding the Apprentice in place. “There will be time enough to redress the death of your regent, Robert.” this last promise is a tiny whisper placed in his head. Robert Duncan looks at the his regent, his sire, his mentor and his lover, unable to look away, unable to do anything. The centre of this hick bar is a large open grill, upon which the Tremere regent has been bound into. Around him piles

When the spectacle is complete, when he has drank in enough hatred, he looks around the room. Only one other kindred displays any emotion, the Prince’s Childe, her eyes red with welling blood is leaving the room. When the other kindred are gone, the Lord releases her control over him, he steps forward, scooping up some ash, he throws his poetry into the pit, and screams Hiscox’s name as he calls a fire-storm into the centre of the room before leaving.

Succubus Club –
Chicago, Illinois
January 1988

Hazel eyes, drink dulling what little intellect the man once had look at him. Nuzzling into his neck, he licks away the bite-mark, staring into his eyes “Sleep a while, you must be tired”. The wannabe goth slips forward, caught by the kindred. He’d fled north following the fire, forced to swear a blood oath to the clan that he would not take action against Lambe without permission. Unable to write, unable to focus on anything other than how long he would need to wait for vengence.

A tall man leans against a bar, a sardonic smile graces his lips, he claps as Duncan comes over. “Nicely done.” A quick sweep of the eyes confirms that his aura is pale, a fellow kindred. Its only when the other one has narrowed the difference, too late, does he realise the man has no reflection. “I am Johannes Van Den Berg, of Boston. Regent Nikolai has suggested I talk to you.” Intrigued, he takes the offered seat, “In what world would my Regent talk to one of your tribe?”

“Ah, I am friendly person, lots of people like to talk to me” he almost purrs, handsome profile falling back into the shadows. “And I know you spend every night hunting the same profile of man. I also know you threw yourself into the combat with the Garou last year, you traded your ability with fire in return for combat training. I suspect this is to do with the execution of your sire in Phoenix. For what it is worth, Hiscox was a good man, we got very drunk on show girls in the 1920’s when we were bootlegging out of Canada.”

“He was my lover, your resume is incomplete”, he looks down at the bar, “I can only assume your interest in my recent history is to some point? Otherwise, if you don’t mind.” he gestures towards the door.

“Well, I was going to mention I liked your poetry but you interrupted. Lets not talk of worlds that never were, but talk of ends. " he leans back, a whisper of smoke from his cigarette heading towards the roof, “Your clan is weakened in New England, they seek new recruits. Prestige is available, and I can offer opportunities to hone your martial talents.” he leaves unsaid, until you develop enough standing that the clan decides punishing Lambe and losing his research library is the price they need to pay for you.

“Providence is the next city, it will need a Regent in the chantry. She would also seek a councillor from the Tremere, to serve on her Primogen.” With such an offer, with such status in the clan, he could request the removal of the blood oath.

The Ink Rooms
Boston, MA
September 1990

Kingston, as he now styles himself, looks over to Johannes. His leader stares into the eyes of his beloved India. Kingston tries to paint a smile on his face as he goes over to them both. “Johannes, Dyer has asked for you. We need to discuss the reappearance of your sister.” Johannes steps up, exiting the elaborate booth. India smiles at him as they head towards the exit. Its then Kingston knows the truth.

Some hours later, Johannes looks at him, eyes bloody. “Don’t talk of Love, but do this thing for me. I won’t allow that bastard Wymer to desecrate her, or give her to the soul eater.”

Kingston nods, and screaming Hiscox’s name calls forth the fire to consume the decapitated body of his friend’s lover.

Boston, MA
January 2000

Staked, Crouch is left in the back of the Jeep. Kingston lies back against the seat, his head lolling to one side, watching the lights of the city flash by. It is then that Johannes finally ends his silence, “My childe is associating with a Venture outcast, I believe you know her sire. It would help me if you assisted with her development.”

The dream again, the same dream he has had every night since she was introduced to the court, goes through his head. “I will do this.” He thinks back to the ink-rooms, the point where he became certain of who she was. What she is.

Every night he burns, every night he waits to be reunited with his only friend.

A Crow at the King's Gate

The Hollow Crown Melanctonsmith