merytankh (merytankh) wrote in khaymanvittorio,
merytankh
merytankh
khaymanvittorio

 

 

Khayman watched from the archway as the Vampire Lestat's car entered the gates of the parking lot. Almost

invisible Khayman was, even in the stylish denim coat and pants he'd stolen earlier from a shop manikin. He

didn't need the silver glasses that covered his eyes. His glowing skin didn't matter. Not when everywhere he

looked he saw masks and paint, glitter and gauze and sequined costumes.

He moved closer to Lestat, as if swimming through the wriggling bodies of the youngsters who mobbed the

car. At last he glimpsed the creature's blond hair, and then his violet blue eyes as he smiled and blew kisses

to his adorers. Such charm the devil had. He drove the car himself, gunning the motor and forcing the

bumper against these tender little humans even as he flirted, winked, seduced, as if he and his foot on the

gas pedal weren't connected to each other.

Exhilaration. Triumph. That's what Lestat felt and knew at this moment. And even his reticent companion,

Louis, the dark-haired one in the car beside him, staring timidly at the screaming children as if they were

birds of paradise, didn't understand what was truly happening.

Neither knew that the Queen had waked. Neither knew the dreams of the twins. Their ignorance was

astonishing. And their young minds were so easy to scan. Apparently the Vampire Lestat, who had hidden

himself quite well until this night, was now prepared to do battle with everyone. He wore his thoughts and

intentions like a badge of honor.

"Hunt us down!" That's what he said aloud to his fans, though they didn't hear. "Kill us. We're evil. We're

bad. It's perfectly fine to cheer and sing with us now. But when you catch on, well, then the serious business

will begin. And you'll remember that I never lied to you."

For one instant his eyes and Khayman's eyes met. I want to be good! I would die for that! But there was no

recognition of who or what received this message.

Louis, the watcher, the patient one, was there on account of love pure and simple. The two had found each

other only last night, and theirs had been an extraordinary reunion. Louis would go where Lestat led him.

Louis would perish if Lestat perished. But their fears and hopes for this night were heartbreakingly human.

They did not even guess that the Queen's wrath was close at hand, that she'd burnt the San Francisco

coven house within the hour. Or that the infamous vampire tavern on Castro Street was burning now, as the

Queen hunted down those fleeing from it.

But then the many blood drinkers scattered throughout this crowd did not know these simple facts either.

They were too young to hear the warnings of the old, to hear the screams of the doomed as they perished.

The dreams of the twins had only confused them. From various points, they glared at Lestat, overcome with

hatred or religious fervor. They would destroy him or make of him a god. They did not guess at the danger

that awaited them.

But what of the twins themselves? What was the meaning of the dreams?

Khayman watched the car move on, forcing its way towards the back of the auditorium. He looked up at the

stars overhead, the tiny pinpricks of light behind the mist that hung over the city. He thought he could feel

the closeness of his old sovereign.

He turned back towards the auditorium and made his way carefully through the press. To forget his strength

in such a crowd as this would have been disaster. He would bruise flesh and break bones without even

feeling it.

He took one last look at the sky, and then he went inside, easily befuddling the ticket taker as he went

through the little turnstile and towards the nearest stairway.

The auditorium was almost filled. He looked about himself thoughtfully, savoring the moment somewhat as

he savored everything. The hall itself was nothing, a shell of a place to hold light and sound-utterly modern

and unredeemably ugly.

But the mortals, how pretty they were, glistering with health, their pockets full of gold, sound bodies

everywhere, in which no organ had been eaten by the worms of disease, no bone ever broken.

In fact the sanitized well-being of this entire city rather amazed Khayman. True, he'd seen wealth in Europe

such as he could never have imagined, but nothing equaled the flawless surface of this small and

overpopulated place, even to the San Francisco peasantry, whose tiny stucco cottages were choked with

luxuries of every description. Driveways here were jammed with handsome automobiles. Paupers drew their

money from bank machines with magic plastic cards. No slums anywhere. Great towers the city had, and

fabulous hostelries; mansions in profusion; yet girded as it was by sea and mountains and the glittering

waters of the Bay, it seemed not so much a capital as a resort, an escape from the world's greater pain and

ugliness.

No wonder Lestat had chosen this place to throw down the gauntlet, in the main, these pampered children

were good. Deprivation had never wounded or weakened them. They might prove perfect combatants for

real evil. That is, when they came to realize that the symbol and the thing were one and the same. Wake up

and smell the blood, young ones.

But would there be time for that now?

Lestat's great scheme, whatever it truly was, might be stillborn; for surely the Queen had a scheme of her

own, and Lestat knew nothing of it.

Khayman made his way now to the top of the hall. To the very last row of wooden seats where he had been

earlier. He settled comfortably in the same spot, pushing aside the two "vampire books," which still lay on

the floor, unnoticed.

Earlier, he had devoured the texts-Louis's testament: "Behold, the void." And Lestat's history: "And this and

this and this, and it means nothing." They had clarified for him many things. And what Khayman had divined

of Lestat's intentions had been confirmed completely. But of the mystery of the twins, of course, the book

told nothing.

And as for the Queen's true intent, that continued to baffle him.

She had slain hundreds of blood drinkers the world over, yet left others unharmed-Even now, Marius lived.

In destroying her shrine, she had punished him but not killed him, which would have been simple. He called

to the older ones from his prison of ice, warning, begging for assistance. And effortlessly, Khayman sensed

two immortals moving to answer Marius's call, though one, Marius's own child, could not even hear it.

Pandora was that one's name; she was a lone one, a strong one. The other, called Santino, did not have her

power, but he could hear Marius's voice, as he struggled to keep pace with her.

Without doubt the Queen could have struck them down had she chosen to do it. Yet on and on they moved,

clearly visible, clearly audible, yet unmolested.

How did the Queen make such choices? Surely there were those in this very hall whom she had spared for

some purpose. . . .

 

Maharet's child. Jessica. The thought caught Khayman off guard. Protect Maharet's child. Somehow escape

from here.

He roused himself, senses sharpened. He'd been listening to Marius again, Marius trying to reach the young

untuned ears of the Vampire Lestat, who preened backstage, before a broken mirror. What could this mean,

Maharet's child, Jessica, and when the thoughts pertained, without doubt, to a mortal woman?

It came again, the unexpected communication of some strong yet unveiled mind: Take care of Jesse.

Somehow stop the Mother .... But there were no words really-it was no more than a shining glimpse into

another's soul, a sparkling overflow.

Khayman's eyes moved slowly over the balconies opposite, over the swarming main floor. Far away in some

remote corner of the city, an old one wandered, full of fear of the Queen yet longing to look upon her face.

He had come here to die, but to know her face in the final instant.

Khayman closed his eyes to shut this out.

Then he heard it again suddenly. Jessica, my Jessica. And behind the soulful call, the knowledge of

Maharet! The sudden vision of Maharet, enshrined in love, and ancient and white as he himself was. It was

a moment of stunning pain. He slumped back in the wooden seat and bowed his head just a little. Then he

looked out again over the steel rafters, the ugly tangles of black wire and rusted cylindrical lights. Where are

you?

There, far away against the opposite wall, he saw the figure from whom the thoughts were coming. Ah, the

oldest he had seen so far. A giant Nordic blood drinker, seasoned and cunning, dressed in coarse brown

rawhide garments, with flowing straw-colored hair, his heavy brows and small deep-set eyes giving him a

brooding expression.

The being was tracking a small mortal woman who fought her way through the crowds of the main floor.

Jesse, Maharet's mortal daughter.

Maddened, disbelieving, Khayman focused tightly on the small woman. He felt his eyes mist with tears as he

saw the astonishing resemblance. Here was Maharet's long coppery red hair, curling, thick, and the same

tall birdlike frame, the same clever and curious green eyes, sweeping the scene as the female let herself be

turned around and around by those who pushed against her.

Maharet's profile. Maharet's skin, which had been so pale and almost luminous in life, so like the inner lining

of a seashell.

In a sudden vivid memory, he saw Maharet's skin through the mesh of his own dark fingers. As he had

pushed her face to the side during the rape, his fingertips had touched the delicate folds of flesh over her

eyes. Not till a year later had they plucked out her eyes and he had been there remembering the moment,

the feel of the flesh. That is before he had picked up the eyes themselves and ....

He shuddered. He felt a sharp pain in his lungs. His memory wasn't going to fail him. He would not slip away

from this moment, the happy clown remembering nothing.

Maharet's child, all right. But how? Through how many generations had these characteristics survived to

flower again in this small female who appeared to be fighting her way towards the stage at the end of the

hall?

It was not impossible, of course. He quickly realized it. Perhaps three hundred ancestors stood between this

twentieth-century woman and the long ago afternoon when he had put on the King's medallion and stepped

down from the dais to commit the King's rape. Maybe even less than that. A mere fraction of this crowd, to

put it more neatly in perspective.

But more astonishing than this, that Maharet knew her own descendants. And know this woman Maharet

did. The tall blood drinker's mind yielded that fact immediately.

He scanned the tall Nordic one. Maharet, alive. Maharet, the guardian of her mortal family. Maharet, the

embodiment of illimitable strength and will. Maharet who had given him, this blond servant, no explanation of

the dreams of the twins, but had sent him here instead to do her bidding: save Jessica.

Ah, but she lives, Khayman thought. She lives, and if she lives then in a real way, they both live, the redhaired

sisters!

Khayman studied the creature even more intently, probing even deeper. But all he caught now was the

fierce protectiveness.

Rescue Jesse, not merely from the danger of the Mother but from this place altogether, where Jesse's eyes

would see what no one could ever explain away.

And how he loathed the Mother, this tall, fair being with the posture of a warrior and a priest in one. He

loathed that the Mother had disrupted the serenity of his timeless and melancholy existence; loathed that his

sad, sweet love for this woman, Jessica, exacerbated the alarm he felt for himself. He knew the extent of the

destruction too, that every blood drinker from one end of this continent to the other had been destroyed,

save for a precious few, most of whom were under this roof, never dreaming of the fate that threatened

them.

He knew as well of the dreams of the twins, but he did not understand them. After all, two redheaded sisters

he had never known; only one red-haired beauty ruled his life. And once again Khayman saw Maharet's

face, a vagrant image of softened weary human eyes peering from a porcelain mask: Mael, do not ask me

anything more. But do as I tell you.

Silence. The blood drinker was aware of the surveillance suddenly. With a little jerk of his head he looked

around the hall, trying to spot the intruder.

The name had done it, as names so often do. The creature had felt himself known, recognized. And

Khayman had recognized the name at once, connecting it with the Mael of Lestat's pages. Undoubtedly they

were one and the same-this was the Druid priest who had lured Marius into the sacred grove where the

blood god had made him one of its own, and sent him off to Egypt to find the Mother and the Father.

Yes, this was the same Mael. And the creature felt himself recognized and hated it.

After the initial spasm of rage, all thought and emotion vanished. A rather dizzying display of strength,

Khayman conceded. He relaxed in the chair. But the creature couldn't find him. Two dozen other white faces

he picked out of the crowd, but not Khayman.

Intrepid Jessica had meantime reached her destination. Ducking low, she'd slipped through the heavymuscled

motorcycle riders who claimed, the space before the stage as their own, and had risen to take hold

of the lip of the wooden platform.

Flash of her silver bracelet in the light. And that might as well have been a tiny dagger to the mental shield of

Mael, because his love and his thoughts were wholly visible again for one fluid instant.

This one is going to die, too, if he doesn't become wise, Khayman thought. He'd been schooled by Maharet,

no doubt, and perhaps nourished by her powerful blood; yet his heart was undisciplined, and his temper

beyond his control, it was obvious.

Then some feet behind Jesse, in the swirling color and noise, Khayman spied another intriguing figure,

much younger, yet almost as powerful in his own fashion as the Gaul, Mael.

Khayman sought for the name, but the creature's mind was a perfect blank; not so much as a glimmer of

personality escaped from it. A boy he'd been when he died, with straight dark auburn hair, and eyes a little

too big for his face. But it was easy, suddenly, to filch the being's name from Daniel, his newborn fledgling

who stood beside him. Armand. And the fledgling, Daniel, was scarcely dead. All the tiny molecules of his

body were dancing with the demon's invisible chemistry.

Armand immediately attracted Khayman. Surely he was the same Armand of whom Louis and Lestat had

both written-the immortal with the form of a youth. And this meant that he was no more than five hundred

years old, yet he veiled himself completely. Shrewd, cold he seemed, yet without flair-a stance that required

no room in which to display itself. And now, sensing infallibly that he was watched, he turned his large soft

brown eyes upward and fixed instantly upon the remote figure of Khayman.

"No harm meant to you or your young one," Khayman whispered, so that his lips might shape and control

the thoughts. "No friend to the Mother,"

Armand heard but gave no answer. Whatever terror he felt at the sight of one so old, he masked completely.

One would have thought he was looking at the wall behind Khayman's head, at the steady stream of

laughing and shouting children who poured down the steps from the topmost doorways.

And, quite inevitably, this oddly beguiling little five-hundred-year-old being fixed his eyes upon Mael as the

gaunt one felt another irresistible surge of concern for his fragile Jesse.

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