He had retreated to the high grassy slope, with the cold Pacific beyond it.
It was like a panorama now; death at a distance, lost in the lights, the vapor-thin wails of preternatural souls
interwoven with the darker, richer voices of the human city.
The fiends had pursued Lestat, forcing the Porsche over the edge of the freeway. Unhurt, Lestat had
emerged from the wreck, spoiling for battle; but the fire had struck again to scatter or destroy those who
Finally left alone with Louis and Gabrielle, he had agreed to retreat, uncertain of who or what had protected
And unbeknownst to the trio, the Queen pursued their enemies for them.
Over the roofs, her power moved, destroying those who had fled, those who had tried to hide, those who
had lingered near fallen companions in confusion and anguish.
The night stank of their burning, these wailing phantoms that left nothing on the empty pavement but their
ruined clothes. Below, under the arc lamps of the abandoned parking lots, the lawmen searched in vain for
bodies; the firefighters looked in vain for those to assist. The mortal youngsters cried pit-eously.
Small wounds were treated; the crazed were narcotized and taken away gently. So efficient the agencies of
this plentiful time. Giant hoses cleaned the lots. They washed away the scorched rags of the burnt ones.
Tiny beings down there argued and swore that they had witnessed these immolations. But no evidence
remained. She had destroyed completely her victims.
And now she moved on far away from the hall, to search the deepest recesses of the city. Her power turned
corners and entered windows and doorways. There would be a tiny burst of flame out there like the striking
of a sulphur match; then nothing.
The night grew quieter. Taverns and shops shut their doors, winking out in the thickening darkness. Traffic
thinned on the highways.
The ancient one she caught in the North Beach streets, the one who had wanted but to see her face; she
had burned him slowly as he crawled along the sidewalk. His bones turned to ash, the brain a mass of
glowing embers in its last moments. Another she struck down upon a high flat roof, so that he fell like a
shooting star out over the glimmering city. His empty clothes took flight like dark paper when it was finished.
And south Lestat went, to his refuge in
Gabrielle, he spoke of old times and new dreams, utterly oblivious to the final slaughter.
"Maharet, where are you?" Khayman whispered. The night gave no answer. If Mael was near, if Mael heard
the call, he gave no sign of it. Poor, desperate Mael, who had run out into the open after the attack upon
Jessica. Mael, who might have been slain now, too. Mael staring helplessly as the ambulance carried Jesse
away from him.
Khayman could not find him.
He combed the light-studded hills, the deep valleys in which the beat of souls was like a thunderous
whisper. "Why have I witnessed these things?" he asked. "Why have the dreams brought me here?"
He stood listening to the mortal world.
The radios chattered of devil worship, riots, random fires, mass hallucinations. They whined of vandalism
and crazed youth. But it was a big city for all its geographic smallness. The rational mind had already
encapsulated the experience and disregarded it. Thousands took no notice. Others slowly and painstakingly
revised in memory the impossible things they had seen. The Vampire Lestat was a human rock star and
nothing more, his concert the scene of predictable though uncontrollable hysteria.
Perhaps it was part of the Queen's design to so smoothly abort Lestat's dreams. To burn his enemies off the
earth before the frail blanket of human assumptions could be irreparably damaged.
If this was so, would she punish the creature himself finally?
No answer came to Khayman.
His eyes moved over the sleepy terrain. An ocean fog had swept in, settling in deep rosy layers beneath thetops
of the hills. The whole had a fairy-tale sweetness to it now in the first hour past .
Collecting his strongest power, he sought to leave the confines of his body, to send his vision out of himself
like the wandering ka of the Egyptian dead, to see those whom the Mother might have spared, to draw close
"Armand," he said aloud. And then the lights of the city went dim. He felt the warmth and illumination of
another place, and Armand was there before him.
He and his fledgling, Daniel, had come safely again to the mansion where they would sleep beneath the
cellar floor unmolested. Groggily the young one danced through the large and sumptuous rooms, his mind
full of Lestat's songs and rhythms. Armand stared out into the night, his youthful face as impassive as
before. He saw Khayman! He saw him standing motionless on the faraway hill, yet felt him near enough to
touch. Silently, invisibly, they studied one another.
It seemed Khayman's loneliness was more than he could bear; but the eyes of Armand held no emotion, no
trust, no welcome.
Khayman moved on, drawing on ever greater strength, rising higher and higher in his search, so far from his
body now that he could not for the moment even locate it. To the north he went, calling the names Santino,
In a blasted field of snow and ice he saw them, two black figures in the endless whiteness-Pandora's
garments shredded by the wind, her eyes full of blood tears as she searched for the dim outline of Marius's
compound. She was glad of Santino at her side, this unlikely explorer in his fine clothes of black velvet. The
long sleepless night through which Pandora had circled the world had left her aching in every limb and near
to collapsing. All creatures must sleep; must dream. If she did not lie down soon in some dark place, her
mind would be unable to fight the voices, the images, the madness. She did not want to take to the air again,
and this Santino could not do such things, and so she walked beside him.
Santino cleaved to her, feeling only her strength, his heart shrunken and bruised from the distant yet
inescapable cries of those whom the Queen had slaughtered. Feeling the soft brush of Khayman's gaze, he
pulled his black cloak tight around his face. Pandora took no notice whatsoever.
Khayman veered away. Softly, it hurt him to see them touch; it hurt him to see the two of them together.
In the mansion on the hill, Daniel slit the throat of a wriggling rat and let its blood flow into a crystal glass.
"Lestat's trick," he said studying it in the light. Armand sat still by the fire, watching the red jewel of blood in
the glass as Daniel lifted it to his lips lovingly.
Back into the night Khayman moved, wandering higher again, far from the city lights as if in a great orbit.
Mael, answer me. Let me know where you are. Had the Mother's cold fiery beam struck him, too? Or did he
mourn now so deeply for Jesse that he hearkened to nothing and no one? Poor Jesse, dazzled by miracles,
struck down by a fledgling in the blink of an eye before anyone could prevent it.
Maharet's child, my child!
Khayman was afraid of what he might see, afraid of what he dared not seek to alter. But maybe the Druid
was simply too strong for him now; the Druid concealed himself and his charge from all eyes and all minds.
Either that or the Queen had had her way and it was finished.
Dead quiet the peace of
so happy to be together. Lestat had rid himself of his soiled clothes and was resplendent again in shining
"vampire attire," even to the black velvet cloak thrown casually over one shoulder. And the others, how
animated they were, the woman Gabrielle unbraiding her yellow hair rather absently as she talked in an
easy, passionate manner. And Louis, the human one, silent, yet profoundly excited by the presence of the
other two, entranced, as it were, by their simplest gestures.
At any other time, how moved Khayman would have been by such happiness. He would have wanted to
touch their hands, look into their eyes, tell them who he was and what he had seen, he would have wanted
just to be with them.
But she was near. And the night was not finished.
The sky paled and the faintest warmth of the morning crept across the fields. Things stirred in the growing
light. The trees shifted, their leaves uncurling ever so slowly.
Khayman stood beneath the apple tree, watching the color of the shadows change; listening to the morning.
She was here, without question.
She concealed herself, willfully, and powerfully. But Khayman she could not deceive. He watched; he
waited, listening to the laughter and talk of the small coven.
At the doorway of the house, Lestat embraced his mother, as she took leave of him. Out into the gray
morning she came, with a sprightly step, in her dusty neglected khaki clothes, her thick blond hair brushed
back, the picture of a carefree wanderer. And the black-haired one, the pretty one, Louis, was beside her.
Khayman watched them cross the grass, the female moving on into the open field before the woods where
she meant to sleep within the earth itself, while the male entered the cool darkness of a small outbuilding.
Something so refined about that one, even as he slipped beneath the floorboards, something about the way
that he lay down as if in the grave; the way he composed his limbs, falling at once into utter darkness.
And the woman; with stunning violence, she made her deep and secret hiding place, the leaves settling as if
she had never been there. The earth held her outstretched arms, her bent head. Into the dreams of the twins
she plunged, into images of jungle and river she would never remember.
So far so good. Khayman did not want them to die, to burn up. Exhausted, he stood with his back to the
apple tree, the pungent green fragrance of the apples enveloping him.
Why was she here? And where was she hiding? When he opened himself to it, he felt the low radiant sound
of her presence, rather like an engine of the modern world, giving off some irrepressible whisper of itself and
its lethal power.
Finally Lestat emerged from the house and hurried towards the lair he had made for himself beneath the
acacia trees against the hillside. Through a trapdoor he descended, down earthen steps, and into a dank
So it was peace for them all, peace until tonight when he would be the bringer of bad tidings.
The sun rose closer to the horizon; the first deflected rays appeared, which always dulled Khayman's vision.
He focused upon the soft deepening colors of the orchard as all the rest of the world lost its distinct lines and
shapes. He closed his eyes for a moment, realizing that he must go into the house, that he must seek some
cool and shadowy place where mortals were unlikely to disturb him.
And when the sun set, he'd be waiting for them when they woke. He would tell them what he knew; he would
tell them about the others. With a sudden stab of pain he thought of Mael, and of Jesse, whom he could not
find, as if the earth had devoured them.
He thought of Maharet and he wanted to weep. But he made his way towards the house now. The sun was
warm on his back; his limbs were heavy. Tomorrow night, whatever else came to pass, he wouldn't be
alone. He would be with Lestat and his cohorts; and if they turned him away, he would seek out Armand. He
would go north to Marius.
He heard the sound first-a loud, crackling roar. He turned, shielding his eyes from the rising sun. A great
spray of earth shot up from the floor of the forest. The acacias swayed as if in a storm, limbs cracking, roots
heaved up from the soil, trunks falling helter-skelter.
In a dark streak of windblown garments the Queen rose with ferocious speed, the limp body of Lestat
dangling from her arms as she made for the western sky away from the sunrise.
Khayman gave a loud cry before he could stop himself. And his cry rang out over the stillness of the valley.
So she had taken her lover.
Oh, poor lover, oh, poor beautiful blond-haired prince . . .
But there was no time to think or to act or to know his own heart; he turned to the shelter of the house; the
sun had struck the clouds and the horizon had become an inferno.
Daniel stirred in the dark. The sleep seemed to lift like a blanket that had been about to crush him. He saw
the gleam of Armand's eye. He heard Armand's whisper: "She's taken him."
Jesse moaned aloud. Weightless, she drifted in the pearly gloom. She saw the two rising figures as if in a
dance-the Mother and the Son. Like saints ascending on the painted ceiling of a church. Her lips formed the
words "the Mother."
In their deep-dug grave beneath the ice, Pandora and Santino slept in each other's arms. Pandora heard the
sound. She heard Khayman's cry. She saw Lestat with his eyes closed and his head thrown back, rising in
Akasha's embrace. She saw Akasha's black eyes fixed upon his sleeping face. Pandora's heart stopped in
Marius closed his eyes. He could keep them open no longer. Above the wolves howled; the wind tore at the
steel roof of the compound. Through the blizzard the feeble rays of the sun came as if igniting the swirling
snow, and he could feel the dulling heat move down through layer upon layer of ice to numb him.
He saw the sleeping figure of Lestat in her arms; he saw her rising into the sky. "Beware of her, Lestat," he
whispered with his last conscious breath. "Danger."
On the cool carpeted floor, Khayman stretched out and buried his face in his arm. And a dream came at
once, a soft silky dream of a summer night in a lovely place, where the sky was big over the city lights, and
they were all together, these immortals whose names he knew and held to his heart now.