You Light My Heart on Fire
Elijah blinked and tried to see his dreams clearly, but they were already fading. He could remember two bishops, one white, one black, each falling and the sound of concrete cracking. He remembered black shapes spreading from a hole in the ground in some discarded alley. Once again he dreamt of a woman with flaming her and red lips leaning toward him invitingly, and bodies falling from the sky. And finally he dreamed of Paul Luis Reyes tumbling from the ceiling on fire – a vaulted ceiling, with marble pillars. He shuffled toward his closet to ready himself for the evening Elysium, trying to decipher the puzzle of his mind.
Deep Throat stopped by the Green Candle on his way to Luchesi’s monthly Elysium. William Blake had texted him a request to visit for urgent news. He found the receiving room empty, without the usual attendant, and walked through the open office door. He found this room empty too. On further investigation he discovered the lampshade slightly crooked and the smallest stain of blood, from what looked like a violent cut or piercing. Through Spirit’s Touch he learned an attacker Obfuscated into the office and struck William Blake with a stake successfully, under surprise. Someone dared to strike the Loyalist baron to torpor in his own office…
Troubled, Deep Throat met the coterie at the March Elysium. Grishend, Luchesi’s surviving progeny greeted arrivals and escorted them to their changing rooms. The theme was the Ides of March, and all those attending knew to wear proper Roman garb. Inside, Luchesi’s small theatre had been transformed to a Roman gallery. The walls held disturbing artwork produced by the Marble House Painting Sister and a quartet played under the Child Heiress’s instructions. Marble columns broke the space up, and waiters moved between guests and the small bar in the back. Elijah left his dressing room and Obfuscated, breaking Elysium rules, and sliding to the through an open door to the backstage area. He recognized the room from his dreams and guessed that Paul hadn’t really fallen from the sky and he was hoping he would not see Paul fall from the ceiling on fire, but he didn’t see Paul anywhere.
E, Tu, Brute
Deep Throat learned that Isandro has been missing for months now. “Oh, oh, I’m sorry. I thought you knew,” Commissioner Marquise Matriarch Diane Welles apologized with false sympathy. “It must be terrible. You’re missing your coterie-mate, and now your mentor and baron. Really, with things so unstable since Gerald’s demise, this city has become garishly dangerous.”
While the others continued to circulate amongst the living dead and trade barbed witty responses, Elijah focused on his task. He snuck into the rafters where the sandbags and catwalks looked over the small stage. He was surprised to see Meir finishing tying Paul to the catwalk by a heavy chain and oiling him down. Meir struck a match and kicked Paul off the catwalk, lighting him into a ball of flame almost instantly. Without thinking Elijah mustered his supernatural speed, ripped off his toga, and leaped from the catwalk, then slid down the chain, and caught himself on it just before falling past Paul to the ground. Paul’s chain stopped about 10’ short of the wooden stage floor – chained, he could do nothing but burn and scream. Kindred dropped their glasses of blood in horror, hissed, gnashed their teeth, and raised their hands to shield their faces. Elijah, unflinching, mastered his fear and threw his toga over Paul, suffering minor burns. For a moment the flames licked out from around the toga, threatening to burn straight through it, but luckily, without oxygen the flames sputtered and died. Paul was charred, but alive, just barely. Coughing, Elijah raised a finger to the catwalk and called out in a raspy voice, “Meir! It’s Meir. Up there!”
The Black Dove coterie erupted into action. They tried to head him off at the base of the catwalk but dropped down beside Elijah and Deep Throat and ran past. Tyler and Rowana chased him into the backstage hallway, with Grant a few steps behind. Deep Throat tried to break through Meir’s mind to discover his plans, but could not. Elijah tried to bring on the sands of sleep, but that too didn’t work. Meir was too old and powerful. And fast. The coterie struggled to keep up with him. For a moment they thought they had him when he opened the back door. Tyler slashed at his back and just barely missed. Then Meir turned around a corner, evading Deep Throat’s gun, which he’d just trained on him. Outside they thought they’d lost him, but Elijah’s sharp senses noticed Meir’s obfuscated form, even when everyone else’s senses failed.
In the back alley, they saw Meir’s blurred form dash all the way down and turn onto a sidewalk of a major street. Without skipping a beat, they all pushed their kindred bodies to follow quickly, but they knew they were losing ground. Tyler transformed to the form of a bat and followed in a flurry of winged beats. They almost lost him again, but Deep Throat noticed him this time, between all the pedestrians, now almost a block ahead of them. They were going to lose him. They ran toward him, dodging pedestrians, following in the open trail he left.
Desperate Meir ran straight out into traffic, and a car clipped his waist, but he just spun and kept running. Deep Throat took a breadth and ran out into the street, using his blood for added speed and every ounce of will to dodging oncoming cars and make up some time. Elijah shook his head as he saw Rowana easily dodge the cars and catch up to Deep Throat. Grant was about to run straight across, but he slid to a halt beside Elijah, glanced quickly at him, and clapped him on the shoulder in encouragement. Together they gritted their teeth and ran across all four lanes. Somehow, they’d picked the exact moment to run across. In less than three second they were squinting down the block on Meir and the others.
Once again Meir turned a corner, but Tyler watched him Obfuscate from above and kept on his tail. The coterie almost caught up to him when he had to rip a warehouse door open, but he ran into the dim hallway inside. Without stopping, Tyler dove and glided in straight after Meir. Rather than catch Meir, though, Rowana decided to unleash his beast in anger. And it came out gnashing. Meir turned swiftly around with predatory eyes and teeth flashing, and he came at the coterie members he could see – at this time Deep Throat. Deep Throat stood in shock in a split second. He didn’t have time to think, but he felt how it was all over. In the very last fraction of a second, Rowana stepped in front of him and took Meir heavy hand, like an iron ball slamming into her chest. Her eyes widened from the impact, but she pulled back and slammed her claws deep into his belly. Deep Throat, shot with his pistol, and Tyler, who had already transformed back to his human form, raked Meir across the back and drove him down to the ground in a pile of ash.
They didn’t see the black magick spill from his ash onto the concrete, nor hear the cry of the streets as they twisted in blight, nor immediately feel the indelible curse spread across the alley. But they were starving, their brains and their eyes hurt from the strain of the multiple contests of wills. Luckily, almost no one had suffered any wounds, but it was clear that none of them could have held up the chase any longer at all. In disbelief they dragged themselves back to the Elysium. Tyler made sure to scrape up Meir’s remains.
Cloak and Dagger: More Betrayal
But before they got back, Sydney met them. She told Deep Throat, “It’s time.” Apparently they had some sort of deal and the time for something had arrived. Deep Throat seemed prepared and ordered Marco Ramos to pick them up in a limo and drive them back to Loyalist territory. Sydney told them that Ambroise was working on something worse than usual, and she wanted out. She’s made the mistake of choosing the Marble House, but she could see clearly now. It had seemed safer and logical, living in Invictus territory, and the Doves weren’t exactly reliable defense. Even the prince they’d backed had fallen. But now she had some information that might compromise Ambroise and buy her safety from Lindra. Apparently Ambroise brought Tricia Bottoms into the city to help him secure his network. Her club, the Last Drink, had papers in a safe somewhere. The Doves should find tonight a good night to get those. One of the dancers at the Elysium is a head dancer at her club. She’d donated use of the dancers for the night. The dancer would know a password that Deep Throat should get. Once they have that, they should be able to get in.
She was delivered to an apartment building owned by Lindra. A dapper Latino man greeted them and assured them he would take good care of Sydney. Back at the Elysium Jin Li was clearly shaken up. Elijah walked in, stark naked, nonchalantly. He went to the dressing room to find his unassuming professor’s jacket and slacks and button-up shirt. Tyler seized on the chance to drive this home to Jin, and dropped a tooth in Jin’s palm. Jin’s pack pulled him outside before he lost control, but not before he spat, “An eye for an eye then Doves. I will burn your heart out Deep Throat, and I will remember what I owe you Tyler. All of you. I promise.” He smiled cruelly and madly, “Two can play at killing mentors.” Tajana Brokov whispered to Tyler, pained, “What have you done? What are you doing?”
Meanwhile Deep Throat obtained the password from the dancer’s mind. No fuss, no muss. The coterie gathered outside, fully clothed now. Grant and Elijah would go to The Last Drink and get these incriminating papers. Deep Throat, Tyler, and Rowana would race Jin’s Foxes to the Bastion cathedral. With Jin’s slip-up, they knew who had Blake. Deep Throat wasn’t going to let them have their vengeance. While he didn’t like splitting up the party, he let Elijah go and Grant with him.