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Fighting a Losing Battle
by Hannurdock
Rating: R

Summary: After being threatened by the Talamasca, Louis is caught and put on trial for murder. Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

Disclaimers: The characters from the Chronicles belong to Anne Rice. These stories are purely for pleasure and 'What if's'.  Nothing is meant to infringe upon the author's rights. I am doing this for fun and I love sharing my stories with others.

Spoilers: Merrick. Lestat's POV





Part 1 : The Trial
 
"We find Louis de Pointe du Lac guilty as charged. That he will be sentenced to the chair as soon as possible".

Louis glanced at me, his emerald eyes haunting me in their sorrow and fear. I groaned, and my head fell into my hands.

"He will remain in custody until the sentence is carried out"

I groaned again and fought the urge to jump onto the platform there and then, take my shivering green-eyed beauty and disappear forever into the night with him. Marius lay an understanding and restraining arm on my shoulder.

"No, Lestat. This must carry its course. To use such a blatant display of your preternatural power would be to confirm our existence".

"Damn the Talamasca" I swore aggressively. "I promised you David. Promised I would not harm them until they raised the stakes. But this? Sending evidence to the mortal courts and having my green eyed one arrested for murder? Too much".

David, sitting to my right with Merrick pressed in his arms shuddered at my tone, a tone which suggested mortals would be dead before sunset. "Lestat, please do not kill them".

"Why not?" I challenged. "I will either do that or jump up there right now and take Louis away for good!"

"No" Marius said softly. "That is EXACTLY what the Talamasca want you to do! They know you think with your heart and will not allow harm to Louis. They know you are the very one to display your powers without regard to the consequences. It will not happen, Lestat!"

I swore as I saw Louis pleading eyes turn and lock themselves to my own. He was afraid, his hand was trembling as he tried to reach out to me, all in vain. His eyes were brimming with blood tears, his expression fathomless to me in its pain and anguish. Someone was going to pay dearly for this.

"When will they execute him?" Merrick asked.

Marius' eyes narrowed as he moved into the Judge's mind, and then to the jury. "Tomorrow at four".

I jumped up furiously. "That's before sundown! He'll burn again".

"Lestat sit down" Marius ordered. "They will not do this, I will not allow it".

I huffed, my eyes roaming the room wildly. "I will not allow Louis to suffer up there alone! I am sorry Marius" I jumped to my feet and moved to the stand where my Louis was shivering.

Marius shot up and dragged me back into my seat. "I will answer for it!"

"Not when it is Louis' life at stake!" I shot back, viciously.

"Whatever you are going to do Marius, do it soon" Merrick advised. "Sunrise is only an hour away".

My gaze shot to Louis, who was being led away. He was already beginning to drift into the death sleep, and I knew Marius would curse me for this later but I had no choice. Leaping away from Marius, I wrestled the guards and took my beautiful one from their harsh and uncaring hands and crashing through the window I flew with him into the night.

I heard Marius voice behind me, cursing me. "Another mistake, Lestat. The biggest mistake yet, and I will be powerless to protect you this time".

I did not give a damn. Louis was asleep by the time I touched down, and entered one of my most secured lairs. I lay down with him beside me and kissed his forehead tenderly. "Never will they ever take you away from me" I vowed before my eyes closed in turn.





Part 2 : An impulsive soul

I awoke early the next evening with Louis bundled safely in my arms. I sighed as I breathed in the scent from his ebony hair, the scent of blood tears still lingering on his pale cheeks, although the lines of blood were dried now. So vulnerable, so lost.

I sat up and glanced around myself. I had but one mission tonight. To destroy the mortals who had done this, to destroy the elders of the Talamasca once and for all.

Louis shifted in my arms and murmured something inaudible. I leant down and gently kissed the revered forehead, licked away the dried blood tears and waited patiently for my beloved to awaken.

It seemed like forever waiting for those green eyes to open. Finally, they did. I gazed at my beloved with such love I felt like I was going to explode. Eternity had nourished my love for Louis, strengthened it. Every time I saw Louis it was like seeing him for the first time, and my heart almost exploded with the force of that love.

"Good evening" I said softly, gently. I kissed his forehead again. Then kissed his tender fledgling cheeks, and his soft and pale mouth. "Come Louis, we have a lot to do this evening".

Louis nodded, as if resigning himself to any plan I had devised whilst he was still sleeping, and lay against my chest, his eyes closed, his grip tight.

"I thought I would never see your face again" Louis whispered "It was heartbreaking to see you out there, and be separated from you. Unable to touch you, unable to breathe your scent. I was so afraid".

"Yes, and its over now" I finished, winding my arms around Louis' waist. "Over and done. No one will ever separate us again, I promise".

I rose with Louis pressed securely in my arms. I walked out of my humble resting place and into the night, moving too fast for mortals to see.

Feeding Louis was the first plan of action, and I chose my victim out of the killers and the dredges of human society. I pressed the throat against Louis' mouth and heard the skin tear and great greedy gulps come from him. I almost laughed, the moment was so tender.

I sealed the wounds with my own blood, depositing the body in a dumpster. Then I took to the air, intent on finding Marius, David and Merrick.

I searched all night. No luck in finding them anywhere.

I was more than a little concerned, after my impulsive actions the night before. Finally, I stopped at my townhouse, and walked irritably through the front door. I stopped in my tracks as I saw the letter on the fireplace, along with a newspaper.

Walking over to the couch, I put Louis down on it, kissing his flushed face lovingly before moving over to the fireplace and opening the letter. I knew it was Marius' hand, and I dreaded what I would read. But I had no choice. I needed to know exactly what had happened the night before.

"Dear Lestat. By the time you read this letter, D., M. and myself will no longer be in New Orleans. We have had to leave, following the events of last night. Be assured that your beloved ones will come to no harm while in my care. I will protect them as if they were my own. I will answer for their safety. However, once you read the newspaper you will understand why it is important for you to leave with L. immediately, and disappear somewhere where the modern world cannot track you, some nameless jungle. My love is with you. M."

I glared at the letter, and it immediately caught fire and turned into ash. I was angry, but my anger was nothing compared to the emotion that swept across my entire body when I saw the headline news on the front page of a national newspaper. I snatched it up, growling in anger and prepared to leave with Louis to find the mortals responsible for this.

"DON'T BELIEVE IN VAMPIRES? THE EVIDENCE AT LAST .... VAMPIRES DO EXIST!"





Part 3 : Headline News

It was utterly ridiculous.

Splashed across newspapers.

The Talamasca was definitely going to pay for this.

However, for the moment I could only follow Marius' advice. I took Louis into my arms and flew to Africa, where we would stay until the mess I had created cleared.

We had fun in these jungles. Hunting nature's cruellest predators in the heat of the savage garden, as real as any savagery I had ever known. Why, we would kill the mighty lion moments after it killed the zebra. We would stalk down even the fastest of mortal creatures, and although their blood could hardly be compared to human blood, it was an engaging and dramatic time for us both.

During this time also, I became very familiar with my most beloved fledgling. So much love and intimacy we shared, that I did not wish our moments in Africa to ever end.

Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end.

Marius tracked me down four years after the incident, and told me it was time to come home.

Taking Louis in my arms, I flew back to the United States, eager to rejoin society. How society had changed since I had left with Louis.

They were no longer disbelievers.

In fact, they knew what I was before I mesmerised them.

They 'knew'!!

"A lot of things have been happening since you left with Louis" Marius explained as he led us through the darkened alleyways of Los Angeles. "We are now hiding underground, all of us. We are forced to crawl blindly in the dark for fear of being destroyed during the daylight hours. The Talamasca has become the most terrifying threat to us. They have made the mortal world believe in us! All of that will be explained to you later".

I was guiding Louis through the dark streets, my hand wrapped around his. "Where is mine and Louis' fledgling, Marius?"

"Safe" Marius explained. He seemed a little sheepish, but he was as gentle as I had always known and loved. I trusted him entirely "As is the others. We are all safe, living underground together. There is safety in numbers, after all".

"Why is that? During the daylight hours, mortals could set a torch to just about anywhere". I demanded.

"Depends where it is" Marius said. "Our sanctuary is located far beneath the earth's surface. It has four heavy metal doors that some of the weaker fledglings cannot even open. Ten mortal men couldn't heave the doors even an inch open. We have catacombs beneath the city streets where we keep our live victims".

I felt sick. It was like reverting back to the Children of Darkness' age.

"The Talamasca, how safe are we from them". I asked.

Marius stopped. He looked at me in the eye. "I'm not exactly sure what we are dealing with. The Talamasca consists of people of all ages with special abilities. Abilities which set them aside from ordinary human beings. Whether it be intelligence or psychic abilities, they are merely human. However, I'm not sure whether the elders are human".

"Interesting" I said.

"We are here" Marius informed me, arriving at a house which looked like it needed some serious redecorating.

I followed him into the basement, and he pulled open a trapdoor and gestured for me to follow him down into the catacombs below.

"I once used this as a shrine" Marius said to us "To keep 'Those who must be kept' out of harm's way. Now, this is a sanctuary to our kind. Only one way in and one way out. This way".

He reached the first of the metal doors, and I could see how much effort it took for him to lift the thing, which seemed more like a massive stone than a door. Further down came the next one, heavy and monstrous. The next had a strange carving on its surface.

"What's that?" I asked Marius.

"A pentagon" Marius explained. "Some of the ancients believed in God and the Devil, they styled themselves on being children of the devil. They engraved this pentagon as a warning to mortals to stay clear".

"Ah I see" I mumbled.

Louis slipped on the staircase and I steadied him as we continued further down. He smiled at me, a gentle smile from my green eyed one as he held me tightly. I smiled back, my love and devotion to him as complete as I had ever felt before.

The last door opened into what looked like a reception area with security videos of the tattered house above. Santino was manning these, looking extremely bored and fed up. His finger was rolling a ball of blue tak absent-mindedly as he sighed and huffed and viewed the screen's in utter boredom.

"Good evening" I greeted him.

Santino waved, and then turned back, concentrating on the flickering screens before him of the house above. He had never been a social being. Even so, his judgement was trusted by all, even by Marius, whom he had once hurt beyond forgiveness. However, the time was not available for old feuds and Santino and Marius seemed to have let the past drop for a short time.

We walked into the main room beneath the city streets which housed televisions and entertainment units which made things seem more like a modern mansion than a catacomb.

"The younger ones prefer it this way" Marius explained, reading my thoughts.

"I do to" I admitted, sitting next to Marius on the couch.

"Now! Marius said, sitting in front of us. "Let me explain what has been happening in your absence and the greatest threat to us that we have ever faced yet".





Part 4: Marius' Tale

"The greatest threat?" I scoffed, squeezing Louis' hand tightly.

"Yes" Marius said seriously, "I think you need to be quiet now and listen to everything I have to say".

I nodded, and smiled. No happiness in that smile, more of a grimace.

Marius sighed and smiled briefly at Louis. "A lot of events have happened since you disappeared with Louis. The elders at the Talamasca have revealed themselves. My God! I thought you waking Akasha with your dreadful music was bad enough, but this! Lestat, you must think before you act in future! The whole world has turned against us, Lestat. They have such evidence against us that we shall never be able to slip quietly into the night again. We have been revealed, we have been caught".

This was beginning to sound like a scolding session. "Marius, what does that have to do with me? Do you suggest I should have left Louis to the mercy of mortal policemen during the daylight hours".

Marius shook his head "No, Lestat. But I received this communication once you had left for the jungles".

Marius drew a small piece of paper from his pocket and gave this to me to read.

It said;

'It is with deep regret you have not agreed to our more than reasonable terms. To reiterate our promise of action it with deep sorrow that we have decided to involve ourselves fully in finding your kind and exterminating them. At whatever cost. This is not the Talamasca as a whole, merely its elders. We must warn you that you have brought a wrath you will forever regret. We elders have never involved ourselves with other supernatural creatures for safety reasons. We will not however stand idly by and watch you take our members from us. We will send no more communications. The time for threats is now over. Action is the only recourse'.

Marius sighed and watched my expression change subtly. I immediately felt anger, then a slight fear. Finally, Louis was trying to read the message over my shoulder so I folded it up quickly and handed the communication back to Marius. Louis had spent two hundred years losing his regret and remorse. I would not give him an excuse to go back into that self destructive frame of mind. No doubt he would blame himself for this error.

"What do you think, Lestat?" Marius said.

Louis looked from one of us to the other, completely out of the loop.

"It looks serious" I mused. "Surely this isn't the only event though? You said there was a threat. A threat is something physical, something material. This constitutes more of a warning. There seems to be no real physical malevolence behind these threats. For all we know, fifteen year old's could be writing these messages in jest".

"You are right" Marius sighed.

"So there is further proof these communications are from a threatening physical being or beings?" I asked.

Marius looked uncomfortable and shifted uneasily in his seat.

"Marius, what is it?" I asked softly. "Where is my fledgling? Why isn't he here to greet me? Why isn't Merrick here to greet Louis?"

Marius looked at me sincerely, eyes full of regret. I suddenly had a terrible feeling come over me.

"What is it?" I whispered fearfully.

"I lied" Marius said softly.

"You what?" I said stupidly. I had never, ever expected such words to come from Marius' truthful lips. Marius detested lies in any shape or form. He was painfully truthful. For him to lie, well, let's just say there was a damned good reason for it.

Rising from my seat, I knelt beside him. He was desperately upset. Tears hovered in his eyes, small desperate whines escaping his lips. I sought out one of his trembling hands and held it to my heart. "Marius, whatever has happened I will not blame you. If you have truly lied to me then there must have been a good reason for it. Tell me now".

Marius seemed on the verge of breaking down. "I lied when you asked me where your fledgling was".

Stab of fear in my heart.

"David? He is not here, then?"

Marius shook his head. "I feel so awful, Lestat. After all, I promised you their safety was ensured".

"Merrick is missing as well?" I asked, my eyes large and disbelieving.

"Not exactly missing" Marius said, his hands trembling violently.

Santino chose that exact moment to join us in the room. "Khayman has taken over the monitors whilst I sit here beside Marius and offer emotional support".

I almost scoffed at that. Santino? Emotional support? Not a chance. Yet, his large hand settled comfortably over Marius' soft hand and he drew him slightly into an embrace. An embrace of comfort.

"Marius has all the emotional support he needs from me" I said angrily. "Tell me everything, Marius. Then do not feel any more pain and anguish. I will handle everything from this moment on".

Marius inhaled a deep breath. "That night when you left with Louis, the elders of the Talamasca came to visit me. There were four of them, dressed in black and looking like regular middle-aged men. They stood before me and demanded I release Merrick and David both to their care. Of course, I refused. I was speechless with horror as two of the four men lay hands on David and Merrick and dragged them both away with them. This was no small feat. Remember, Merrick had recently partaken in blood sharing with you to increase her strength to levels unmatched and David had always been strong and powerful. To see two such vampires literally dragged away was hideous".

Marius stopped and drew in a deep breath. His eyes were wet with blood tears. I leaned forward and embraced him. He returned the warmth and allowed me to sit him on my lap and wrap my arms around him.

"Continue" I begged shamelessly.

"I approached the two remaining elders and pleaded with them to release David and Merrick. They started to laugh. In fact, I had never seen such calm self assurance in anyone. They laughed at me and told me they would never release the ex-members of the Talamasca. They were so rude to me! Then they bundled Merrick and David away, and I watched them as I prepared to attack the Talamasca. It was at this point that David and Merrick shook their heads in fear and begged me to leave the Talamasca alone, that they would deal with this threat and come back when it was finished. However, they have not returned" Marius stopped, almost too shaken to go on.

I was powerfully confused. What were these Elders? To have bundled away two vampires so quickly and easily, surely they must not be human? However, Merrick and David had obviously been afraid for these people and had allowed themselves to be taken. It was also painfully obvious how shaken Marius was over this entire incident. He had been shielding all of this from me until now. I was horrified.

"Santino came for me" Marius smiled. Santino nodded, accepting the thanks with barely a lift of his eyebrows. "I was too sick to move for months, and the feeling of failure was overwhelming. I had not fulfilled my obligation to you"

"Not an obligation, Marius. None of this is your fault" I hastened to add.

"A year ago, Maharet came to me looking very distressed. The same Talamascan's had kidnapped Jesse. She resolved we must all get together, all of us, and face this evil together. So we set to bringing all of the vampires together, even Gabrielle. She's here, safe in this sanctuary".

I nodded. "Good, so what's the plan?"

"Plan?" Marius looked up at me with tearful eyes.

"We have to get them back" I said softly.

"I know. Khayman and Maharet have been discussing how to get them back, and for that we needed you here".

I nodded. "Count me in. Whatever you need me to do, I will help to get everyone back".

"I'm so sorry" Marius said, his eyes overflowing again "You trusted me! I have let you down".

"Marius," I said gently "I love you".

Marius' eyes opened as wide as saucers. "What?"

"I love you. The only wrong you have done is trying to protect me from this. I am stronger than you. I will not have you alone and in need of me, and too afraid to come to me".

Marius bowed his head, and Santino looked at me in awe. He had expected anger and ferocity, and I only responded with love.

"We have to understand what evil is facing us" I said, smiling towards Louis. "We need to know how to fight our enemies and get our children back".

Marius nodded and allowed Santino to lead him to his room. He was exhausted, emotionally and physically.

I sat stewing. Repressed anger. They had taken both Louis' fledgling and my own! Both Merrick and David! As if to add insult to injury, they had also kidnapped Jesse.

Well, no-one does that to The Vampire Lestat! Or to those I love!

The more I thought about Marius' humiliation and defeat, the angrier I became.

They would definitely pay for their ill thought out plans of capture. I would get all three missing fledglings back safely. I would make them beg for Marius' forgiveness before ripping their throats out and tearing the spines from their bodies.

Of course, it didn't cross my mind once that the Talamascan's who did this might be stronger than myself. Or, that by waging a war, I would put those around me in danger.

All I saw before me was a river of rage that needed to be appeased.





Part 5: River of Rage

A river of rage.

However, appeasing a feeling so engulfing would not prove a simple task.

Firstly, I had to know exactly what I was dealing with.

Who and what.

Have no mistake, I knew the elders could not be human. They had expressed strength greater than Marius. They had forcibly taken two fledglings of strength unknown to most of the vampire society in general.

I also noted that the only members of our select company that had been taken were the three ex-Talamascans'. For what purpose, I had no idea.

I only knew I had to find all three. Fast.

The Coven split into several small groups to search for the missing young ones.  Maharet and Mekare searched Asia with Khayman, Gabrielle and Pandora. Marius searched Europe with Daniel, Armand, Sybil and Benji. Santino and Eric searched Africa. I searched the America's with my Louis. Louis. My tender and beloved fledgling who cried without shame for his loss and for mine. Louis, who blamed himself nightly for this incident. Even though it were not his fault.

Louis was by my side for each night I spent searching in vain for my fledgling and the others. He was soft and gentle and easy to manipulate. He was being tender with me, but his loss burned in his emerald eyes. Merrick's disappearance had stolen away a piece of his soul.

I resolved to make Louis forget about Merrick, at least for the moment. I loved him. Made love to him. Lay my naked body next to his and felt him all over. He appreciated the gesture, and responded with affection and love.

Running my hands up and down his naked flesh, I kissed his small mouth. I licked at his lips with my tongue, and moved more intimately into the deep and desirable mouth. When he called Merrick as his hands clutched the bed sheets, I did not complain, I only heightened our lovemaking as never before. I snarled as I sunk my teeth into his neck and felt him arch back in pleasure. A small gasp leaving his lips as he clutched the bed sheets. We drank from each other. We sealed our love night after night.

Early in the evenings, we searched for our missing companions.

We searched every mind, every dark place. We saw nothing of them, nothing at all.

It was as if the elders had left the planet with them, had left all realms physical.

Yet I would not give up.

David was amongst the missing, and no matter what I felt when I lay with Louis, when we made the most intimate of bonds, I could not dismiss the missing as if they had never existed.

I loved David, as I loved Louis. As Louis loved Merrick.

We would find them, I vowed this to Louis.

Yet, hopes of finding them were draining as quickly as they had filled our mind's with longings. I loved David, Louis loved Merrick, we all loved Jesse.

Where had our beautiful companions been taken?

Would we ever find them again?

Whilst the search filled Louis with a desire for Merrick, an obsession of which I had never beheld, I felt the longing for David return with full force.

It had been four full months before one of the elders approached me.

With an offer, no less.

But what an offer!

I could hardly agree to its terms, even if it meant the return of all three vampires.

They told me I could have all the missing vampires back under one condition.

That I make no more vampires from the members of the Talamasca.

Yet, how could I truly accept and mean that I would never touch the order with my fatal embrace again? Not when I had fell fatally in love with David, what if there were others who were destined to be caught in my lethal embrace and become my lover for eternity?

So I did the only thing I possibly could under the circumstance.

I captured the messenger ....





Part 6: Captive

"Would you like a cup of tea?" Louis asked Ray a week later.

"No thank you. When can I get out of here?" Ray asked weakly.

I had kept him locked in a smallish cell for a long time (deep in one of my endless cellars), and he refused to eat.  He was becoming quite gaunt in appearance. His soft hair was becoming like straw and I hated to see him suffer. For he was extremely handsome. His longish blonde hair fell casually around his shoulders. He was no more than twenty-five. Older than me when I had been brought into the darkness, but hundreds of years my junior in vampiric years.

The cell I had him locked safely within was more like a modern bedroom, complete with four poster bed, desk and draw's. Many a mortal I had kept here. Talked to them, loved looking at them, loving them.

Ray's eyes were the colour of Daniel's. They sparkled with a violet colouring I had rarely seen in mortals and vampires alike.

I unlocked the cell and walked into the room. Ray started as I sat beside him, and I pulled him onto my lap and rocked him gently. "There, there. The elders will release our fledglings for you, then I promise you will be free".

"You truly promise?" Ray looked up into my eyes and I saw the dark blue circles which indicated lack of sleep. For a moment I could not believe he were an elder for he looked so young, so out of place. No, he could not be an Elder. Yet he was. The whole situation confused me somewhat. Were the Elders younger than I suspected? Were they simply children dishing out threats because they were young and foolish?

"of course" I lied. Truth was I'd kill him if the elders did not comply with my request. "Now, you must do me a big favour. I want you to try and eat something and then rest easy".

"Easy?" Ray gave a bitter laugh. "Rest would be an achievement, although I can guarantee I won't be having sweet dreams tonight".

I laughed. Ray had a real sense of humour that appealed to me. I liked him a lot. "Then I can help you to sleep easily" I promised, laying him down upon the bed and lying by his side.

I mesmerised him gently and quickly, and watched him with satisfaction as he fell to sleep under my initiative.

I embraced him a little, I kissed his forehead and then walked out of the cell and locked the door. Louis was scowling at me, hands folded. His emerald eyes were glowing embers.

"You're growing a little too fond of him, Lestat" Louis observed. "Maybe I should tend to the mortal from now on".

"Ray" I corrected softly, my anger beginning to escape me. "Not 'the mortal'. Ray. Make him sound like a damned robot".

"He is beneath us, and is a tool for finding our missing ones" Louis reminded me.

"I know, I know" I was afraid suddenly. Maybe I was falling for Ray.

The telephone began to ring in the lounge area. I quickly walked to the second phone in my bedroom and picked up the line.

A Talamascan voice assaulted me promptly. I knew it belonged to an Elder. A woman. "Mr de Lioncourt, I must advise you to let Ray Gallant leave upon his own accord".

"Will you release my fledgling, Jesse and David?" I asked immediately.

"No. Never"

"You do realise I am going to kill Ray if you refuse ....?"

"The Talamasca will never release those fledglings. They belong to us, and so does Ray".

I suddenly lost my temper "They aren't pet's or possessions, we are talking souls here! People! You're even treating your own Ray as an appetiser!"

"Ray ... getting quite fond of him are we, Lestat? I must warn you ... if your actions result in another fledgling born of Talamasca blood, then we will destroy not only your missing ones but your Louis as well".

"Try it" I said dangerously, in a low voice.

Suddenly, the line went dead.

Louis shivered beside me. I pulled him close and kissed his beautiful white face. I kissed his eyelids and I pulled him close against my beating heart. "They will never take you from me" I whispered to him.

A scream from the cellar alerted me to something very wrong. I wasn't quite sure what was happening, but I could smell death coming from that cellar and I raced to his locked room to discover the door wide open and Ray on his hands and knee's, blood gushing from his mouth and ears.

Immediately I knelt beside him, sinking my fangs into his neck and stilling him with a swift mind trick. I watched the blood pour forth as Louis appeared by my side and gasped in horror. I felt a sudden wave of energy, as if someone were trying to force my inner organs from my body and I quickly struck this force with my own psychic mind trick.

"What's happening, Lestat?" Louis asked in a quiet terror. The force stopped, Ray was still in my arms, pale and gasping for breath.

I bit into my wrist and sealed the bleeding wound against Ray's lips. "He's dying Louis. It's the Talamasca's doing. He's the only one who can lead us to our missing ones. I cannot let him die!"





Part 7: Knowledge without Reason

In truth, I wanted a reason for turning Ray into a vampire.

Ever since I had lost my beloved Roger, I was reluctant to let a mortal whom I might become lovers with, die and leave me. I twisted my bleeding wrist along his mouth, and he vomited a thick stream of wasted mortal food.

He turned away.

"Ray!" I screamed urgently, pushing the wrist against his mouth again. I could hear the crunching of teeth cracking as the pressure of my wrist broke his teeth. I cried out in horror as Ray's heart slowed to a terribly slow pace.

"Drink from me, Ray. Please" I begged shamelessly as Ray watched me wide-eyed. His eyes never broke contact until his heart ceased to beat, and he lay a lifeless shell upon my cellar floor.

I broke into tears and Louis watched me intently from his position, unmoving. "He wouldn't drink, Louis. He wouldn't take it. Why? Why? Louis, why aren't you saying much?"

Louis sighed and moved away from me. "He didn't want this life, existence, whatever we call it. He knew it was his time, and he had no wish for the transformation".

"Stop all this melancholy nonsense" I reprimanded "I thought you were past all this!"

"Oh I am" Louis sighed. "Your blood has made the choice for me. I am strong. I am powerful. I am beautiful. Just like you".

I nodded, wiping the blood tears from my face and moving away from the dead body on the floor. I felt the dreaded tears come once more, and this time Louis held me close to his heart as I wept, and wept, and wept.

"So, now our spy-bird is dead, how on earth do we find our missing ones?" Louis asked gravely.

I stood up and straightened bravely. How had Ray died? It were as if someone had crushed his internal organs with their mind. I did not believe a mortal would know how to do something so vicious, so final. Mortals with special abilities would often find it hard to open and close a door with their mind, let alone do something like this.

I had had enough.

Now was the time for action.

I turned and kissed Louis on the mouth suddenly, drawing all his passion with my sudden action and then disappeared into the night. I barely heard his cries as I drifted into the darkness determined to find the elders who would pay for their mistakes.

****

I found them of course. Ray had in his wallet a small address car and a note from the Elders who had taken my own kind. A little mental razzle-dazzle, and I found them talking together about moi. They didn't hear my mental intrusion and I realised as soon as I dropped into their little group through my mind gift I had over-estimated their power.

For they weren't immortal, powerful beings I had suspected. They were mortal. They had powers of course, such powers that mortals envy. They could read minds, and even manipulate minds to their control. They could move things at will. Even destroy Ray in a united effort.

But, they couldn't control me. Or destroy me. Or destroy those I had created and fashioned from my own vampiric blood.

I knew that, they knew that. For a moment, I was deeply disappointed. I had been expecting a battle, some sort of mental or physical war before I saved my loved ones from their clutches.

They were all gathered near to my lair. In a smallish house, not too suspicious from the outside. I at once sensed my loved ones beneath the house. Perhaps in a cellar, where I had kept Ray. They were deliberately keeping quiet.

Quiet!!!!

Dear Lord, here I had been worried out of my mind at their disappearance, and they had been shielding to prevent me picking up on their thoughts.

I listened to their voices now. Not scanning Merrick and Jesse's mind, however strong the temptation was to do that. I just listened to the sounds of their welcome voices. I heard David's voice and I almost died with pleasure. They were healthy. They were fine.

"You must let us out of here before Lestat and Maharet find you" David beseeched. "We all need to talk about this. Let us not engage in a war you know you would lose. Please, listen to me. You are not strong enough to defeat any of us".

"We are keeping you here, aren't we?" I heard the new voice whisper. Mortal voice. A young man's. An Elder. Weak and mortal.

It suddenly became clear to me why David, Merrick and Jesse had shielded themselves from other vampires.

The reason was so simple and so overwhelming it literally took my breath away.

Dear Lord, I had been suspecting adversaries of equal strength, if not stronger. Not the weak and confused beings I saw here. And I knew the reason for the silence initiated by my beloved ones. I knew immediately. They had been trying to protect the Talamasca, knowing how weak they really were. They could have escaped at any time. They could have freed themselves and left.

They had allowed themselves to be captured.

Why?

I was shortly to find out.





Part 8: Not Exactly as it Seems

I listened to the steady thrum of their voices. Three vampire, one human.

Then I picked up the scent of an immortal in the room with them.

He was not a vampire. He was immortal, but his immortality was not defined by blood.

I knew immediately he had been with the Elders the night David and Merrick had been taken from Marius. It was obvious that maybe Marius had been too shocked to retaliate. I knew now, from Jesse's mind, that the vampires had allowed themselves to be taken away.

Allowed. It almost made me laugh.

They still felt such devotion to this group of highly educated scholars.

"You must release us eventually" Jesse argued. "We could have left at any time, but we chose to stay with you. To try and work things out. This is silly. All of it. You can't threaten such a race of higher beings. Not without terrible repercussions. True, you did annoy us when you brought our existence before the world. We could have destroyed you then, but we did not. Please listen to me".

"No" The man answered. I easily delved into his mind to pick out his name. Michael.

Leaping above the house, I entered by a bedroom window, and stealthily made my way to the ground floor where most of the Elder's were accumulated watching television. Television! A small giggle escaped my lips as I snuck into the basement and watched the mortal closely as he continued to argue with Jesse.

Suddenly, the immortal picked up my presence and he turned to face me. I felt a sudden wave of energy, the same I had felt when Ray had been murdered and again I fought the energy with seemingly little effort. I drove the immortal into the wall, and watched with sick fascination as his head hit the wall and blood splattered everywhere.

I heard Jesse scream, David gasp and Merrick let out a short moan.

The man who had been arguing with Jesse froze and turned to face me. His face looked overwhelmingly sad and beautiful. "Lestat ...?"

"Yes" I confirmed, moving over to the cell where Jesse, David and Merrick were being held. I unlocked the door to the smallish cell with my mind, and watched as the three once captive vampires emerged into the cellar.

I kissed all three in turn, lingering on my beloved David.

"You cannot take them" Michael said to me.

I watched the immortal on the floor. He was dead. Far less powerful than vampires and I felt with sudden sadness that he would have lived forever if I had not destroyed him. He couldn't have harmed us, yet I had snubbed out his existence as easily as I snubbed out candle flames. I was lost suddenly, and I felt so horrified by what had happened.

I wished Marius were here to advise me.

I pushed Michael against the wall and sunk my fangs into his throat. Merrick was clawing at me, demanding that I let him go. David was hitting me with his fists, but I would not stop until he had become limp. Then I let him drop onto the floor.

"He isn't dead" I confirmed, looking at the three frightened vampires.

"Lestat, what are you doing here?" David asked me. "We could have handled this ourselves!"

"Of course" I nodded. I had known that they could handle it the moment I had seen the 'threat' of the Talamasca with my own eyes. "But I think its time they really see our power. So they never bother us again".

To my astonishment, David nodded. Merrick just looked downcast, bitter. Jesse smiled.

Then, the four of us made our way to the ground floor.

For our grand finale.

And, just as I had predicted, the Talamasca would never bother us again.





Part 9: Final Conflict

A final conflict, you could say. Or maybe not. A conflict indicates a battle. This 'battle' was far from being even. They never really stood a chance against us.

The Talamasca were in the main room, watching television. None of them had sensed the disturbance that had occurred in the cellar. It became clear to me that Michael had been attempting to communicate with the vampires, to talk with them.

I felt so sad suddenly that I could barely form words.

We ran into the main room, our arms raised high, and we howled at the frightened Elders who cowered in their seats, terrified.

I pulled one Elder to me and sank my teeth into his unwilling flesh whilst the others watched in horror and deliberately broke his arm to show them my power. I had barely lifted a finger in doing this and they flinched and moved away and cowered before me in fright.

I told them of what I would do to them if they would ever take a member of my coven were to be taken from me again. I told them of the pain I would ensure they suffered and all the horrific things I would do if they so much as hurt any of my intended fledglings.

Then I made them a promise.

I told them that I would no longer seek fledglings from their organisation.

The fledgling would come to me for the transformation, if that was what they wanted.

The elders nodded and agreed. What else could they do?

And, in their helplessness, I had taken pity on them. I had agreed upon a compromise with those who had nothing to bargain with.

I had given them a gift. Something I would have never believed I could have done.

Merrick, David and Jesse watched me approvingly.

Then we left within a second, leaving the confused and frightened elders of the Talamasca to ponder what they had witnessed.

They didn't bother us with threats again, but other events took place afterwards. Other very exciting events that led more fledglings into our little coven.





Part 10: Epilogue

Watching Maharet reunited with Jesse took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. Marius was beside them, embracing the happy couple with a slight smile playing upon his lips as he gazed at me.

Relaxing in my Louis' embrace, I watched as David and Merrick looked into each other's eyes with a tender longing. I was familiar with that particular glance. They had fallen deeply in love with each other during the adventure with the Talamasca.

I tightened my arm around Louis. He looked vulnerable, his eyes moist with blood red tears as he recognised the look of sincere love within his fledgling and David's eyes. He was cast aside, used.

But not to me.

I pulled him toward me and fell onto the couch with him, straddling him as I did so. He smiled at me, forgetting even Merrick as he swooned whilst simply staring at me with such tender and unfulfilled desire.

I would rectify that immediately. I pulled Louis to his feet and told David and Merrick that Louis and I were retiring to the bedroom.

However, hardly one step towards our loving had been taken before the doorbell sounded. I looked alarmed at the others. None of our coven would ring a doorbell before entering, and I was filled with a slight alarm.

Leaving Louis momentarily, I walked to the door and flung it open. Whomever dared disturb the sanctuary of my townhouse would be very sorry they did so.

A young man smiled at me. A notebook was stuffed hastily into his shirt pocket.

Talamasca.

"Can I help you?" I asked with a small smile. A grimace was more adequate to describe the expression.

"Are you Lestat?" He asked me.

I read his mind. No bad intentions. He was here for another reason. His name ...... Brent Sopher.

"Yes"  

"I came here to find you ...." Brent stopped and I looked curiously at him. The reason for his visit was obvious. Another mortal seeking the dark gift. Laughing to myself, I invited him into the townhouse, ignoring Marius' cold stare as I sat him down in the main room and listened to his story.


Did he become one of us?

No, not that night.


Did I love him?

I fall in love so very easily.


Am I going to tell you what happened that night?

No.


Why?

Because that is another story!


.... Lestat


THE END

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