DJB: Memoirs, Volume 3: It’s in the way you use it

It had a been a few days after Morena’s phone call, after I knew that another vampire had attacked her and Sophie, that I called a special meeting of Conclave. It was the first time I had done such a thing, taken such an active role in anything to do with Conclave besides seeking members out to clarify comments or opinions voiced.

I explained recent events, showing them the police interest in recent disappearances of a corpse from the morgue and a businessman. I even used Sophie…I mean, the Vampire Psychologist’s UVA scale to impress upon Conclave how serious things were getting.

While the other vampire elders seemed agitated by events, wondering how things had so quickly changed, Valerian was strangely silent during their escalating debate. Should they send in the sanitation team? Or simply a spider team to collect information? Teng-Wen voiced the opinion that the region, which had always been under populated with our kind, was due a surge and a curate should be assigned immediately.

The dark, round room fell into quiet at the suggestion. Valerian, dressed in velvet black ceremonial robes, took a long, measured sip of his tea before setting the cup and saucer aside. He waved his servant Aubry forward, whispered a few words, and Aubry went to fetch more tea. He then cleared his throat for effect before speaking.

“Whenever, wherever she goes, vampires seem to congregate. It is nothing to be alarmed about.”

Teng-Wen, our only Jiang-Shi in Conclave, a calculating and dangerous member, pursed his lips to contain a retort. Aubry returned with more tea and while Valerian busied himself with the newly refreshed cup, Teng-Wen spoke a careful crafted reply: “If this is so, perhaps it is time again to rid us of her unnatural influence. Only this time, we should seek ways to make it permanent.”

Valerian shot a dark and glittery gaze at the other elder. “You presume to know of such a way? You have passed through death and know its secrets?”

Teng-Wen fell silent, knowing he had been outmaneuvered. But Valerian was not done with him.

“You do not know the deaths she has endured and yet, she rises again, like the Phoenix, the same and yet different, her memories somehow intact.” He let out a single meek laugh. “More a cockroach, an irritant. Forgive me for overstating her importance. We have not seen her threat, even lifetime after lifetime. She is merely to be observed and who better than Jesper to do so.”

Galscythe, one of the oldest, her age reaching almost into ancient, stepped forward. She seldom spoke, some thought because her mind was becoming to frail but no one would dare, in her presence, allow that thought breath. “It would be prudent to be sure this time. We’ve seen how a lone orphan can create a tide of blood.”

Valerian sighed deeply. He didn’t like to disagree with the others, didn’t like agitation among the ranks. But he hadn’t garnered as much respect within Conclave without a clear series of successes in navigating our kind through the modern age.

“I will not send any more of our kind into a were stronghold without knowing our proper action.” He then raised his eyes to me. “I trust with guidance, Jesper can identify the problem and we can then discuss what proper action is required.”

Galscythe stepped back lightly. Teng-Wen bowed in humbling agreement. The debate was over.

But there was no specific guidance I received from Valerian. When Conclave ended, he remained until the others left and then he too departed, with no further word to me on what he expected me to do.

So I put a call into Aubry, his servant. There was a question I needed answering before I proceeded. Generally, it is considered a break of manners to use one’s vampire abilities against other Conclave vampires except in sanctioned combat. And by extension, servants and companions were due the same courtesy.

“Hello?”

When Aubry answered the phone, I appeared standing there in the room just behind him. He heard me like a whisper in his mind, just below the creaks and moans of this ancient house on Na Příkopě. “Hello, Aubry. What is the tea that your master takes?”

Dazed, he let his arm drop the phone from his ear.  He pirouetted towards my presence. “Pine needle tea.”

“Curious. Why does he take it?”

“It’s a curative. To keep the balance.”

As quickly as I had affected him, I released him, retracting my presence back through the phone line and spoke simply. “Valerian had no particular orders for me, eh, Aubry?”

“Oh, Mr. Jesper. No, he left no instructions for you except to say he appreciates the call, you are to report once you’ve made proper contact.” He paused, as if trying to remember his instructions. My doing. He was still shaking off the cobwebs of my affecting him. “You haven’t contacted her yet, have you?”

I thought of every manner of response, remembering his master’s words at Conclave. And then I lied. “No, Aubry. Not yet.”

“Well, then. I will tell my master so. Do you have any other message?”

“Thank you, Aubry, no. That’s all.”

I hung up. Pine needle tea contained high concentrations of Vitamin C. More than six regular lemons. Something told me there was again much more to my Vampire Psychologist than previously thought. I did not know the natural of her acquaintance with Valerian, the most powerful and influential member of our government, but she had made an impact. One worth risking the penalties of bad manners to uncover.

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Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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