Tuatha's Children  

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2011 

 

 

Chapter 13

"Will it still be dark when we land?" Willow asked.  Jeff seemed to be
sleeping fitfully in the next seat.  And there was a persistent burnt sugar
smell that worried his lover.

"Yes, it will for a little while, but dawn will come soon," Craig answered
quietly.

"Something's wrong," Willow whispered back.  "He doesn't seem to be
recovering from his time in the daylight.  We kept him hidden from the
sunlight, and even now that it's night, he seems to be suffering and not
getting his strength back."

"I think it was the daylight from the sun in the higher altitude that hurt
him," Craig whispered.  "I think the only thing that will help is fresh
blood.  The bottled stuff has been stored for a time and it just isn't as
good as fresh.  And of course, human would be the best."

"You are telling us the night walker needs to feed?"  Craig looked up to
see Robin standing nearby.

Craig nodded, briefly.  "Yes, I think so."

"If we catch the man who stole my son, I will make sure the night walker
has his food."  Robin turned and sat down, glancing over at his lover
sleeping in his seat.

"You know, you don't have to talk about me like I'm not here," Jeff replied
softly.

"I thought you were asleep," Willow said as he looked back at his lover.

"I was.  I admit I don't feel quite right.  In fact I haven't felt this bad
since...well, I don't know since when.  But don't worry, I'll be fine as
soon as we're back on the ground and I get a chance to rest through the
day."

"We'll get a hotel room in London for you," Craig said.  "While the big
fairy is out rescuing his son you can rest up.  I've already contacted our
office back in New York.  They are trying to track down a supplier for you
so we'll get you some fresh food as quickly as possible."

"I hope so," Jeff whispered.  "For some reason, the bottled stuff doesn't
seem to be working very well.  My throat is really burning.  And despite
what the big fairy said, I don't intend to start draining people again.
That wouldn't help any of us."

"Except you.  Just relax," Craig said, patting his friend's leg.  "We
should be on our final approach for Heathrow soon.  I'll go visit with
Roger and see if he can get me a radio link so I can talk to someone and
see what we need to do as far as getting through customs and then finding
Father Stephen and the boy."

Craig got up and walked to the front of the plane while Jeff smiled at
Willow.  They hugged each other and Jeff closed his eyes, relaxing back in
his seat.

A few minutes later Craig came back into the cabin and spoke with Robin and
Scott.  "What is it?  Where is he going now?" Jeff asked, sitting up.

Craig turned back to the vampire and his lover, sitting further back in the
cabin.  "I just heard from an associated office in London.  They are
tracking Father Stephen for us.  They said he appears to have changed
planes and is now headed for Italy."

"Italy?  What's in Italy?" Willow asked.

"Rome...the Vatican," Jeff said quickly.

"Yes, I thought of that as well."  Craig explained as Scott and Robin came
back to join them.  "You see, the Van Helsings were originally real
Catholic monks back in the Middle Ages.  At that time they answered to the
Vatican.  I think perhaps Father Stephen is heading back there to present
his 'find' to the Pope."

"You've got to be kidding," Scott said.

"What is this Pope?" Robin asked.

"He's the head, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.  I'm guessing
maybe Father Stephen thinks he can bring his organization back under the
approval and protection of the Church if he provides some modern day
demonstration of what their mission is."

"But surely the Pope won't..."

"Who knows what he will or won't do?  But the Pope isn't that easy to get
to see.  Meanwhile Father Stephen is going to have to present Roon to a
number of officials, and try to show a reason why it is important for the
Pope to see him.  I don't know what that will entail, but it won't be easy
on Roon, that's for sure."

"If we can just get close enough to touch him," Scott said urgently.

"Touch who, Father Stephen?"

"No, Roon.  We have a homing crystal.  It will take us home and the problem
will be solved."

"Well, we'll give it our best shot," Craig said.  "Meanwhile, I think we
better drop you off in London," he told Jeff.

"No way.  I've come this far.  Besides, I shot a picture many years ago in
northern Italy.  Maybe my familiarity with the area will come in handy."

"We aren't going to be in northern Italy.  We're going to be in Rome."

* * *

The jet touched down in England, refueled, filed a new flight plan and was
off again as quickly as possible.  In another few hours they were finally
coming down in Italy.  It was afternoon and Willow was very concerning
about Jeff, but they managed to get him into a taxi and were off to a hotel
in no time.

"Where do we go from here?" Scott asked.

"Let me make some inquiries," Craig responded.

"I am past inquiries," Robin argued.  "I want my son and I want him now.
Where would this human go?  What is the Vatican you spoke of?  Let us go
there and speak to this Pope person you mentioned."

"It isn't that easy." Craig answered them.  "No one just gets in to speak
with the Pope.  I imagine Father Stephen is just as stymied as we are.
He'll by trying to arrange an audience or something.  If we can find out
where he is, we can get the boy back.  Let me make some call and talk to
our European counterparts.  I'm sure there are some agents for the European
vampires in the city.  I just have to find them."

"I might be able to help with that," Jeff added.  "As soon as it is dark,
let's head for the Coliseum."

"The Coliseum?  Why the Coliseum?" Craig asked in surprise.

"Because that's where the Italian vampires hang out.  Everyone knows that."
Jeff gave him a look of exasperation as if it was common knowledge.

At dusk they all took a cab to the Coliseum.  The ancient structure was
well lit at night.  They began walking down the surrounding sidewalk.  "Now
let me do the talking," Jeff told the group.  "After all I speak their
language."

"I didn't know you spoke Italian," Willow said in surprise.

"No I mean the language of vampires."

Scott stared in amazement.  "You have your own language?"

Jeff rolled his eyes and sighed.  "I mean I understand them culturally.  I
will be able to connect with them better than you."

In a short time they came across a darkened corner where the building had a
sheltered entrance.  "Buon giorno," a lady said from the shadows.

"Ciao," Jeff answered back and stepped closer.  "We are looking for
someone," he continued in English.

The lady stepped out into the light and scrutinized the small group.  She
was dressed in what looked to be a garish attempt at a cocktail dress
covered in red sequins.  She wore a matching beaded purse slung over one
shoulder and her hair was dyed a matching red.  Willow thought briefly of
the old lady who lived next door to his grandmother in St. Louis.  "Well, I
would guess you have found someone," the girl said in a heavy accent.  "You
want me to get some of my girlfriends as well?"

"No, we are looking for a vampire...vampiro?"  The girl's eyes widened in
shock and she quickly crossed herself.

"Vampiro?" she repeated, then shook her head.  "No, no!"

"Please," Jeff said, pulling out some Euros from his pocket.  The girl's
eyes quickly darted to the money, then back to the assembled group.  Her
hand flashed out quicker than a striking snake and she snatched the bills.
She crossed herself again and pointed to a dark alley across the wide
street circling the Coliseum.  "Andre," she said and then just as quickly
melted into the dark shadows from which she had emerged.

Dodging the streaming traffic the group made a run for the alleyway.  As
soon as they entered the dark confines of the little roadway, they felt as
though they were being watched.  The bricked street was dark with tall
buildings on either side, many of which had darkened windows, most of them
covered by wooden shutters.  There was one open window showing a beam of
light further down the alley.  The men quickly walked toward it.  They had
traversed about half of the distance to the light when it disappeared and
the alleyway was plunged into total darkness.  The minute the light went
out several tall men stepped out from doorways in the surrounding buildings
to completely encircle the small group.  Of course Robin, Willow and Jeff
had no difficulty seeing the newcomers.  Scott and Craig were unaware.  But
they could tell something was up by the way the others stopped so abruptly.
"We are looking for Andre," Jeff said glancing around at the men
surrounding them.  They stepped aside as a tall thin man in a white suite
stepped out from behind some of the men.  He had a pale complexion and his
eyes glowed a bright blue in the dark.  His face was framed in long dark
curls.

"Why are you seeking me?" he said with an Italian accent, then stopped,
frozen in space.  "An American vampiro," the man remarked in surprised.
"What is your business with me and who are these strangers you accompany?"

"These are my friends and traveling companions," Jeff replied, gesturing to
his friends.  "Two humans, Scott Quartermain and Craig Langston, and two
fairies, Willow Granger and Robin."

"Fairies?"the stranger's eyes widened.  "And humans, such strange
companions for one such as you."

"I suppose it does seem a bit odd to you," Jeff remarked.  "Nevertheless,
they are my friends."

"And why did you seek me out?" Andre asked.

"I am seeking information and I was hoping you might be able to assist me."

"Do you see the word 'Library' tattooed to my forehead?"

"I thought one such as you would certainly know a bit of information about
the comings and goings of strangers in your city," Jeff continued with a
velvet voice.

Andre's face broke into a tight smile.  Andre stepped close to Jeff and
took his arm, leading him a bit further from the assembled group.  The
others remained encircled by Andre's guards.  "And what information do you
seek my flattering young friend?"

"My two friends here," he said indicating Scott and Robin, "have a son, a
child about ten years of age.  The boy was abducted by a man in America and
brought here."

"So you think I may know something of this fairy's son?" Andre asked.  "The
truth is I know nothing...yet.  Why would this abductor bring the boy here
from America?"

"The man is the American head of an organization known as the Van
Helsings."

Andre's whole demeanor changed immediately and he let out a hiss. "Yes, we
have heard of this organization.  They have fingers even here in Rome.
They are very bad.  But why would they take this boy if he is not vampiro?"

"When they got hold of the boy, they discovered that he wasn't human.  I
think this Father Stephen wants to use him to win some sort of legitimacy
with the Vatican.  He thinks the child is a demon or something just because
he can tell the boy isn't normal."

Andre nodded.  "I can understand completely.  Yes, proving that non-humans
exist would indeed help to advance their cause.  And there are certain
members within the Church hierarchy who would no doubt sympathize.  It
would be in our best interests to ally ourselves with you and prevent
this."

"That's what I was hoping you'd say," Jeff sighed with relief.

"Normally we think of humans as food, but in this instance I suppose we can
work with the ones you have brought along.  Are they pets or just slaves?"

A worried look crossed Jeff's face as he glanced back at his friends still
patiently waiting, surrounded by Andre's men.  "They are neither.  The
brown headed one is the partner of the tall fairy and thinks of the boy as
his son as well.  The older human is in my employment.  But I count them
both as friends."

"Friends?"  Again Andre's eyes widened in surprise.  "You Americans never
cease to amaze me.  But tell me how you became entangled with the fairies."

"Willow, the shorter fairy is actually only half fairy.  He is also part
human, and he is my lover."

With that Andre burst into laughter, clapping his hand on Jeff's back.
"You are indeed a rare vampire, one who takes a lover who is half food,
half poison.  Next you will tell me you like to sunbathe on the Riviera.
Come, let us go back to your 'friends' before my compatriots grow too
curious or hungry.  We have much to discover in a short time."  He gave
Jefferson a curious look.  "And it appears you should feed.  I would guess
it has been much too long by the look of your color.  You will all be my
guests.  I have a succulent volunteer who will see to your dining needs,
and I will even provide human food for your 'friends.'

* * *

"You have a whole network of humans who work with you to protect your
master?" Andre asked as he sat gazing at Craig in his small sitting room.

"He's not exactly my master.  He's my employer and yes we have a very
extensive company with financial holdings.  Surely you must have some sort
of similar financial arrangement here.  How else would you be able to
afford this villa?"  Andre had insisted the small American group stay at
his villa just outside of Rome while his people made inquiries into the
location of Father Stephen and the boy.  Not wanting to offend him and
insisting they needed his help, Craig and Jeff persuaded the others to
leave their hotel and stay with the European vampire.  Andre assured them
of their safety, however they remained vigilant in the company of so many
vampires who were not as domesticated as Jefferson.

Andre smiled indulgently at Craig's question.  "Yes, I do have a similar
arrangement.  However you describe humans working freely for your
'employer' and being paid for their work.  Here most of the work is done by
my kind.  The dealings we have with the banks are done on our terms and in
our time frame.  The few necessities we have that must be done in the
daylight are handled by a small group of humans who are more of what you
might call indentured servants.  They are not paid workers, but old,
established families who belong to me as surely as does the land and the
house."

"I see," Craig said tightly.  He kept his thoughts to himself, but decided
that the humans working for Andre must be little more than slaves.

Their discussion was interrupted by a servant, a human, who came in with a
message for Andre.  He whispered quietly to his master and then withdrew.
Andre sat up and seemed quite excited.  "It seems we are in luck," he said.
"Go fetch your people.  We have an audience with Cardinal Compelli.  He has
information about your Father Stephen."

In a short time, the five humans were assembled and waiting in the large
foyer of the villa.  It looked more like a hotel lobby to Scott than a
private residence.  The inlaid parquet floors gleamed and the walls were
covered with painted frescoes.  The furniture was heavy but upholstered in
rich brocades.  As Andre walked into the room, the Americans stood.  "Come,
my friends.  We have car waiting below."  He led them to a passageway that
was slightly hidden behind some large potted ferns.  They descended a
narrow set of stairs that opened into a large garage beneath the villa.  A
driver stood waiting beside a long white limousine.  The six easily climbed
into the roomy back of the car and once settled, the garage door opened and
they drove out into the morning.  "Special glass to protect us from the
nasty sun," Andre said, tapping the window.

The car quickly moved into traffic and entered the city.  A short time
later it was pulling into another underground garage next to what looked
like an old church in the heart of Rome.  "Cardinal Compelli has his
offices here," Andre said as they climbed back out of the limousine.  They
were met by a young priest who nodded to Andre and spoke to him briefly in
Italian.  The group then followed the priest to an elevator.  The seven all
crammed into the tiny cage and the priest pushed a button.  It slowly
ascended up into the building with a metallic groan and finally came to a
creaking stop on the fourth floor of what looked like an office building.
The priest led the group out of the elevator and down a hall to a
nondescript door.  He knocked gently and heard a voice from within say,
"Ave."  The priest opened the door and ushered the group inside.

The room was a large office, the walls painted a deep burgundy, the floor
covered with a rich carpet and huge windows framed in dark, red velvet
drapes taking up one entire wall, giving a magnificent view of the city
beyond.  On the wall behind an ornate mahogany desk hung a portrait of Pope
Benedict.  A man dressed in the red robes of a Catholic cardinal stood in
front of the desk and greeted the group. "Andre, buon giorno.  Buon giorno
a tutti."

Andre quickly knelt and kissed the man's ring and then stood.  "Your grace,
let me introduce you to my friends," he said in English.  "This is my
friend Jefferson Smythe, one of our kind and his partner, Willow Granger, a
human-fairy hybrid.  Here we have Craig Langston, a human in the employ of
Mr. Smythe.  This is Robin, a fairy and his partner, Scott Quartermain,
another human.  My friends, may I present Cardinal Giovanni Compelli."

The cardinal nodded and smiled.  "Please sit, sit my children," he said,
indicating a number of chairs that had been place in front of the desk.  He
then stepped behind it and sat in a large leather chair.  The group all
took seats, Jeff taking the one furthest from the windows as he eyed them
nervously.  "Oh, Mr. Smythe, do not fear the windows.  They are of a
special glass to keep out the harmful rays of the sun.  How else would I be
able to work in this office?"

"You...you mean to say you are..."

The cardinal nodded with a wide smile.  "Yes, I too am vampiro."

 

 

 

 

 

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