It has been an eventful week for me and my family. On Thursday, we welcomed our baby boy, Ronan George Garret Harris, into the world. Ronan surprised us by disguising his gender in the womb, making us all think that he was a baby girl named Athena. It only adds to my delight in having him that he surprised us so thoroughly. Obviously, I pushed back Thursday’s post, so here it is!
Bull was right: the Kaemoulian Absinthe burned spectacularly. Eerie green flames shot high into the twilight, making ghosts of old masts and broken sails.
Of the ten bottles we salvaged, I took two for the twins, and gave Bull the rest. The Scavenger made them disappear into the deep leather pockets and satchels that covered his kit.
“You will have to lay low for a while, my friend,” I said. “I expect that Cinder will be looking to lash out. I would prefer that I am his only target. Makes it simpler for me to find him. Do you have some place to go?”
“Makes sense,” said Bull. “I have a place. Don’t worry about me.”
I nodded. I liked Bull, and preferred that his pride remained intact. The truth was that I did not want Cinder to kill him or tear the Jetties apart to get to me. I still didn’t understand what the Vampire was doing. At first it appeared that he simply running gangs as a front for the illegal blood trade, but smuggling Kaemoulian Absinthe spoke of another dimension. The only common thread was money. I still had little information on Cinder.
“I appreciate your assistance Bull,” I said as we both stared at the green flames as the hull of the ancient ship began to sink.
“It was no trouble Ragnar,” said Bull. “Too many people have gone missing around this area lately. It was past time to see unwelcome guests gone.”
“That may be true,” I said. “But when time came to shed blood and risk life for your home, you had the courage to do so. I will not forget that, nor will your people I wager.”
Bull nodded, his chin a little higher. We watched til the fire burned low, wary of the growing shadows, then parted ways after a drink at The Broken Whale. I petitioned Helma to watch over Bull then made my way into the night. The Jetties were treacherous in the dark, but none dared attack me. If I were given to fancy, I might even say that the lesser predators parted ways for me, a dubious honour for blood shed to make the city safer.
As I strolled through the wrecks toward the darkened streets of the most dangerous city in the world, I considered my quarry. In the end I decided that it was time to consult an expert.
People of any creed or race is accepted in Myrrhn, so long as they can prove that they can keep the peace. That peace is extended to vampires. If it sounds foolish, then remember that the Assassin’s Guild and other powers are willing to solve their problems with extraordinary brutality when the need arises.
Older, wiser Vampires can amass extraordinary wealth. Still I always found it surprising that the elite of the city would willingly live beside a bloodsucker like Lazar Vintul. Then again, perhaps sharing the rarefied air of high society compensated for the fact that vampires viewed most mortals as prey.
I found it surprisingly easy to arrange a meeting with Lazar Vintul. His house was in one of the more crowded sections of old town, away from the spacious estates of the seven families. It was a tall, sombre building with spires and carvings that looked more like a small cathedral than a residence. As I arrived, late at night, I noticed a large number of guests partaking of the Vampire’s hospitality. Lily Gemarkand’s carriage was among those parked nearby. Rarefied air indeed.
I was met by one of Lazar’s footmen, a burly man with a predatory air about him. He led me silently to a private sitting room, far away from any guests, and bade me wait. We got along just fine.
There was a crystal decanter of amber-coloured liquor on a low table made of dark wood surrounded by elegant couches. The room was lit by expensive alchemical lights designed to look and smell like torches and candles.
There was a note sitting by the brandy. “Help Yourself,” it said. I did. It did occur to me that Lazar might be trying to drug or poison me, and might even have access to the type of stuff that could hurt a Twiceborn. It seemed unlikely, however, especially considering that he could simply ignore my request for an audience and never cross paths with me in the guarded confines of old town, or just use his wealth to hire an assassin skilled enough to end me.
The liquor was brandy, the finest that I had ever tasted, and after the first sip I lost any concern for poison. I was on my second glass when the door opened and Lazar Vintul slid into the room.
I raised my glass in greeting, drawing a fanged smile of appreciation. Without a word, Lazar walked over to the table and poured himself a small glass, sniffing it at letting out a long sigh as I watched him. After a moment our eyes met.
“You know what I miss most about being a mortal Twiceborn?” the vampire asked.