September 29, 2009

Even LATER that night... Mona

I had another loss of time. More reading of books that I wouldn't be reading. I was standing against one wall of the sitting room when I "woke up". It was like I had been zoned out and just came back to myself. I felt something wet on my forehead and touched my fingers to it. They came away bloody. I had a streak of drying blood on my forehead. Smelled more like vitae. There was a chair tipped over, and I seemed to remember Maury being there and offering us a place to stay in his sanctuary underground. I don't remember when he got there, or when he left. I also had an urgent sense that the shop was no longer safe..

I voiced this, and everyone else agreed. Nadi seemed preoccupied, and muttered something about research and left for the library. She left before Becca could even offer to come. Becca looked a bit wounded.. I wasn't sure how I felt about Becca's attachment to Nadi.. I didn't want to command all aspects of Becca's life.. but the love interest could end up causing complications that I wasn't happy with. I decided not to mention anything at the moment..and just see how it progressed. Becca was blood bound to me, so I wasn't really sure how that would conflict with an honest to god emotional attachment.

Gio was going on about how his wards were fucked up. Something about the pandoran going out through the window apparently tore them to pieces. He was understandably upset. Those wards were put there by one of the oldest people on the planet, and we had no fucking clue how to put them back up. He mentioned going to talk to Leland tomorrow. Maybe the wards being fucked was lending to feeling to relocate.. but I hadn't been able to sense wards in the past. I felt edgy.

I removed myself from the group slightly, leaning against a wall in a shadowed part of the shop. I had always been one to seclude myself before, but since I died I found a huge amount of comfort in shadows specifically. It was a Mehket thing apparently. I really wanted to go meditate. I had so much shit to think about and it was driving me nuts. I needed to go actually focus on it if I was going to get anything figured out. I decided to focus on something else until I had time to sift through forgotten memories.

I stepped outside and called Sundown. The issue of the Glass Armonium was still on my mind. It rang twice before his deep honeyed voice answered.

"And what can I do for you this evening Miss O'Shea?"
"I was wondering if you knew anything about an instrument called the glass armonium?" Right to business.
"Ah. An interesting instrument, never gained very much popularity I'm afraid. What makes you think I would have the information you are looking for?"
"There is a specific one we are looking for.. it was purchased in Chicago by Honore."
"I fail to see your connection.."
"Giovanni overheard someone refer to you by that name before.."

Sundown fell silent for a moment. He seemed annoyed.
"I see. It seems some of my associates need to learn the meaning of discretion. I no longer have the instrument. I purchased it for a very interesting young Ventrue."

Ventrue? Something about that seemed significant.. maybe something about that coffin full of crazy Maxwell had been so hot to get his hands on..

"Miss O'Shea, are you familiar with the theory concerning the relationship between blood and memory?"
He definitely had my attention. He continued.
"There are those who believe it is possible to transmit memories by blood. Vitae, to be more exact. A memory that one must drink, in order to receive. Could you imagine such a thing? Such wild stories people tell."
This game was always entertaining. I never really understood the point, but I knew how to play.
"That certainly is an interesting story. Does the story involve any instruments?"

I could hear him smiling. "Well, I imagine that one could assume that there may be some effect in mixing this vitae with glass making sand, but I couldn't really say. It's a rather outrageous fairy tale."

I affected a tone of mild indifference. "But interesting nonetheless, if only for it's entertainment value. Do you know of anyone who can tell me more of these fables?"

"I think one of your Order brethren here in New Orleans knows a few tales. I can't recall his name though. Though I believe he is from Texas."
I smiled. Carter.
"I appreciate your help, and I will be sure to maintain more discretion than your other associates."
"It is most appreciated, Miss O'Shea. Have a pleasant evening."

Well damn. Tonight was proving to be interesting. Memories in blood? That had some interesting implications. I walked back into the alley next to the shop and dialed Carter's number. There was another voice in the background when he picked up.

"Carter? It's Harper O'Shea," the voice muttered something in the background, "am I interrupting anything?"
"No! Not at all! I wasn't doing anything important. What can I do for you?"
I could practically see him smiling at whomever was with him. Apparently I was going to be the one to help him piss of his current company tonight.
"I've been hearing some rumors, concerning memories and blood. I was wondering if you could spread a little light on that."
"What sort of rumors?" He asked, southern drawl thick enough to spread on toast.
"Encoding vitae with blood, making glass with said vitae.. things of that nature."

He laughed. "Rumors indeed! Complete fiction darlin'. Don't you go worrying yourself over that. Just bedtime stories."
I could hear the other person talking in the background, but he seemed to be ignoring them. I had an idea..
"I see. Well.. I have an interest in these stories, purely academic. If you hear anything else about it, would you mind letting me know? It's a hobby."
"Sure thing Sweetheart. Where you hidin' out these days?"
I smiled and tried not to think about what Carter would think of my new teaching career.
"Ah, well, if you or your sire are ever back in town, gimme a call, we can go get a beer." and he hung up.

What? Goddamn it.

I put the phone back in my pocket and hurried back inside the shop. If Giuseppe wasn't in New Orleans, where the fuck was he? His man of mystery thing could get annoying as fuck sometimes..


When I heard Mona come in the shop my relief was downright palpable. She walked in dressed in her new steam punk style, wearing a gas mask over her face. (She dressed like that partly to make herself seem like a younger vampire. Giuseppe had only embraced her a few weeks ago, but she had been a ghoul for decades before that..) Her ghoul, Thomas, walked in behind her.. with his jaw wired shut? What the hell? He was different than the last time I had seem him. It had only been about a week. He seemed tougher. More self assured. More like Giuseppe. That made me smile. I was getting some idea what Giuseppe had been like when he was younger..

I pushed off the wall and walked over as Mona pulled off the gas mask. I stopped cold. Half of her face was missing, eaten away by what looked like acid burns. I managed to not flip shit, but it was a challenge. My initial reaction was revulsion, then panic, then rage. Rage at whoever did that to her, to my family. Images of what I wanted to do to them flowed behind my eyes, like a gruesome movie only I could see.

I think I've already pretty well established that I have violent tendencies. I wonder if Nobody and Gio would be so quick to encourage callous and violent behavior in me if they really knew the things I kept myself from doing. There was a reason I feared the beast.

I managed to keep all of these from showing on my face, except the rage. Mona watched me closely and seemed satisfied at my reaction. I think she was silently urging me not to show her pity or revulsion. Neither were useful, and certainly didn't make her feel any better. Nobody, Becca and Gio all voiced one version or another of "Holy shit what happened?!"

"Hunters." She said, her voice slurred and difficult to understand with only half a working mouth.

My voice was quiet and full of potential violence. "Are they dead?" Mona gave a shadow of her wicked grin and I visibly calmed. I had no reason to contemplate tortures of dead (truly dead) men.

She told us that she and Thomas had been leaving the home of a new contact when they had been attacked by a group of three men.

"They came at us.. and yelled..something..I can't remember what. If I focus on the words, it gets fuzzy. One of them did something with a vial of blood and I couldn't move. It was like my feet were glued to the ground. Thomas took out one." She seemed smugly proud of him, and Thomas straightened and smirked as best he could.

I gave him a small smile. "Don't worry killer. It'll heal." His muffled response sounded as close to "I hope so." as someone with a wired jaw can get.

"Thomas had the wits to tackle me. Once my feet left the ground, I could move again. They were armed with sulfuric acid and some other nasty surprises. One of them took a club to Thomas' jaw. They knew what they were doing, and what they were up against."

I crossed my arms. "Sounds like some kind of blood magic. Odd that hunter's would use it though.. have you found anything about the Mallas Mallificarum yet?"

"Some. I've made a good number of contacts over the last few days, but no Mallas. I need to meet with the Bishop."

Gio nodded. "I'll call uncle and set it up for you. Should I do it tomorrow?"

"No. Give me a couple days to heal up. I'm not exactly presentable."

"I'll go with you." I said suddenly. She regarded me a moment then nodded. It wasn't very long ago that that would have been a question, not a statement.

I decided to change the subject. "Did you ever figure out how the haven was compromised?"
The serial killer had somehow managed to get his hands on the ethereal rounds that O'Donnell gave me. He had left the magazine in Maury's tunnels after the firebombing. We had to move havens after the incident for safety's sake. I was holed up in a room in the basement of Gio's shop until she could set something else up, but now I felt the need to move again. Underground. (why there, I don't know..)

She looked troubled. And pissed. "That's the weird thing. I can't figure it out. I could never find any sign of intrusion. I have a feeling this is one of those things that we aren't equipped to investigate."

I had figured as much. Spirits probably. As diverse as our group was, spirits were our weak point...that had been Tommy's job.

I shifted uneasily. "Either way, I'm moving again. Underground. The wards here are fucked now, and I don't feel like its safe anymore."

"Probably a good idea." Mona muttered.

I stepped closer and lowered my voice, thankfully I was the only one with enhanced hearing in the room.. "Rowan was here earlier. She's working with us to find the serial killer."
Mona raised one eyebrow and waited for my point. "She offered to teach me cruac.. in exchange for coils.."
I think she would have whistled if she had more than half a mouth. "So what are you going to do?"
I smirked. "I am my sire's childe."
She mirrored my expression a moment, then looked serious. "Be careful."

I nodded and they turned to leave. Mona's reaction had banished any residual doubts I may have had. Giuseppe had brought me on to ask the questions that neither of them would think to ask.. and that's what I was doing.

Thomas walked out a few paces behind Mona, and when he passed me, he paused and muttered something in my ear. "Who is Cain."

It took me a moment to realize he was repeating the question that the hunter's had screamed.. the one Mona couldn't seem to recall. He gave me a look that was trying to say more that I couldn't discern. I nearly jumped into his head to find out, but I was worried of causing more shock to his already abused system. He left a small crumpled piece of paper fall to the floor as he followed Mona out.

When I retrieved it, all I had was an unfamiliar symbol drawn in pencil. I don't know why he wouldn't speak in front of Mona. Or what the symbol was.. More mysterious..

I was walking into my room when my cell went off. It was a text from a number I didn't recognize. I started reading and grinned like a damn fool. Carter. The text message was details about how to code memories into vitae.. well.. not too many details.. but a starting place.

I definitely owed that man a beer. The ability to code a memory into vitae.. it could be drank by a mortal then the next kindred to feed on that mortal would receive the memory. I continue to be amazed at the things vampires can come up with. I was eager to try it, from what I could tell it was a combination of concentration and the spirits touch..

I left the others to do whatever it is they do in their free time, and went back to my room. I was about to start my meditation when I saw the empty vial on the dresser. The werewolf blood. I realized that I wasn't nearly as hungry as I had been when I punched Nobody. I had drank it.. but I didn't remember doing it. I didn't remember why I didn't just go out and hunt.. I usually kept the vials for emergencies..My good mood was suddenly spoiled.

I sat down on the bed, phone in hand. I could feel the night slipping away and I had just found a million more questions and no answers. I flipped to my phone history, checking times and calls.. and found probably the most disturbing detail I didn't remember. About 45 minutes after the pandoran escaped.. I called Prince Maxwell's personal number. The call lasted roughly 2 minutes. I started to call it again, but hesitated. I didn't want Maxwell knowing about my memory loss. I didn't want anyone knowing about it.

I had to figure out what was going on.. but the sun was coming up.. and the questions would still be there come nightfall...

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