I would have thought that after one painful experience with the daylight, he might have learned his lesson, yet he has never been one to gain knowledge from his past mistakes. Like Icarus when he flew too close to the sun, Lestat always has to push the limits to see what will happen.
I arrived at the hotel just before 2am, paying the driver more than was necessary to wait for me by the front doors no matter how long I might take. I located the room easily enough and after one final glance around the empty hallway, I pulled open the door and stepped inside. The suite was dark save for the moonlight that shone in through the open terrace doors. A sheer curtain waved in the cool breeze and just beside this I could make out a familiar figure leaning back in a leather office chair by the desk. He obviously had not moved from that place since he had agreed to let me come to his aid.
I stepped forward and my fingers found the chain on the desktop lamp. The moment the room was illuminated, he raised his arm to shield his eyes.
“God damn it, Louis!” He groaned in protest.
Only then did I realize the extent of the damages he had sustained when he foolishly attempted to outrun the sun as it rose between Paris and Dubai. Earlier that evening he had nonchalantly referred to it as “maintaining his tan” yet now, standing only a few feet away from him, it was clear to me that he had done much more than that. His once golden skin had deepened to an exotic shade of reddish-bronze and when I reached out to move his hand carefully away from his face, his eyes gleamed unnaturally in the lamp light. If Lestat stood out amongst a crowd of mortals before this, he would be absolutely impossible to miss now.
“Stop staring,” he mumbled and tried to swat my hand away. The pain induced by this sudden movement caused a hiss to escape his dry, cracked lips.
“Let me take you home,” was my only reply.
The drive back to the apartment was thankfully free of discussion and the profanities mumbled as we traveled down a few bumpy streets were kept to a minimum. Once inside, I left him standing in the darkened living room while I made my way down the hall to run a cool bath. Despite the sheer stupidity of his actions, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for all of this. It was because of me that he had returned to France in such haste.
I lit a single candle on the shelf by the mirror so the overhead lights would not hurt his still sensitive eyes and returned back down the hallway to retrieve him. He followed me without complaint and stood fairly still as I slipped the white silk shirt off his shoulders and carefully removed his remaining clothing as well.
A sharp intake of breath as I helped lower him into the tepid water was the only indication that he was still in a great deal of pain.
I scooped up water in my cupped hands, letting it trickle down the darkened skin of his face and neck. His head tipped back and his eyes closed. My hands moved gently over his body, remembering all too well how sensitive my own flesh had been after a day in the sun. I lost track of time as I sat on the side of the tub, listening to the steady sound of his breathing and the occasional ripple of water as he adjusted his position to prevent putting too much pressure on any one area of skin for long.
Eventually, he rose and stepped out the bath. I pulled a plush, royal blue towel from the rack and passed it to him, but he didn’t take it. Instead, he made a small whimper of pain until I finally understood and began to dry him off.
“Ahh!” He yelped, pulling his arm away suddenly as if I had somehow hurt him. His elbow hit the shelf behind him and dozens of bottles of scented oils and lotions that he had accumulated when he was here previously went crashing to the floor.
“That towel!” He looked at me as if I should already know. “It’s too rough.”
On any other night, I would have rolled my eyes and left him to it, but not this time. This was my fault and I would tend to him until the daytime slumber could heal his preternatural flesh completely.
“I’ll get another,” My tone was patient and calm.
I left him there and went to the bedroom to search for a softer towel. Surely he kept dozens of towels in every color and fabric known to man, but I didn’t have the slightest idea of where to look. I started at one end of an antique, mahogany dresser and began to work my way down, searching each drawer.
“Forget the damned towel.”
I looked up to find him standing in the doorway of the bedroom, naked as the day he was born. His golden hair was soaking wet and each drop of water was illuminated by the low light of the beside lamp as it traveled down the angles and contours of his body to join the growing puddle at his feet. The look in his eyes was one of anguish and an increasing frustration that his skin was not healing itself as quickly as he would like. Lestat cannot stand feeling any sort of weakness and craves control in all things, so this must have been pure torment for him.
“I don’t know how I can help you,” I sighed as he made his way into the room and sat on his side of the bed like he had never been away at all.
“I do,” he proclaimed confidently.
He slid open the drawer of the bedside table and produced a small dagger. I looked at him curiously. The weapon was curved with the handle and sheath decorated in a typical Indian style. It may have been an antique or perhaps something more recently forged. I did not know nearly as much about such things as he did, nor was I surprised to discover that he had it tucked away so close to the bed. It most likely was not the only one in that drawer. Lestat has always had a taste for razor sharp steel. He removed the sheath and the blade caught the lamp light immediately, reflecting glowing line across the ceiling. When he spoke again, I let out a breath I hadn’t even realized I was holding.
“Blood,” He looked at me. “Yours.”
“What?” I was dumbfounded.
He reminded me then of the incident that we rarely ever speak of - of my own encounter with the New Orleans sun and how David, Merrick and himself had spilled their blood on my blackened corpse to bring me back again. If it had worked for me, surely my blood could heal his skin as well. After all, his injuries were not nearly as dire. I couldn’t disagree with him, of course. None of us truly knew how these preternatural bodies of ours worked and if my blood could help to ease even a little of his suffering, I was certainly willing to try.
Lestat lay back against the mountains of pillows as I moved to sit carefully on the bed beside him. I thought I saw the corner of his lips curve into a smile as I rolled up my sleeve and rested my wrist on his waiting hand, but I may have been mistaken. I looked straight ahead when I felt the cold steel press into the crook of my arm and gasped as he dragged the blade all the way down to my wrist, opening up my cephalic vein completely. I had expected a smaller cut.
My first reaction was to grasp at the wound to prevent my blood from spilling onto the sheets, but before I could attempt to do so, he pulled me closer until I was leaning over him watching my own blood spatter against both his shoulder and the white satin pillows behind his head.
He was breathing heavily when I raised my bleeding arm and rubbed the wound across his one side of his face. I looked closely and was almost certain that I could see the slightest change in color on the skin around the edges of the blood. The fingers of my free hand trailed down his shoulder and chest, clearing some of the blood away to reveal the flesh beneath. Was the skin paler there or was I only seeing what I so desperately hoped for?
Absentmindedly, I brought my fingers to my lips and licked them clean.
That was when he grasped my upper arms hard and pushed me onto the bed beside him, rolling on top of me in a movement so fast that I didn’t have a moment to protest. Heat radiated from his sun-burned body as he pressed it against mine. One hand tore at the buttons of my shirt while the other slipped beneath my head, fingers tangling into my hair, pulling my head back until my neck was bare before his lips.
Without the slightest hesitation, he tore into my throat with his fangs. I moaned aloud as I began to feel the familiar pull on my heart. My hands found his back, fingers digging into his heated skin with hardly a thought of the pain I might cause him. I expected him to break free and chastise me for being so careless, but he didn’t react at all. This seemed odd, considering his fragile state. Curiosity got the better of me and I dug my nails into his flesh, raking one hand down his spine hard enough to draw blood.
He paused long enough to growl hungrily against my neck before dipping his head lower to tear a new wound.
That was when I realized that he had been greatly exaggerating the extent of his agony in order to gain exactly what he wanted. Certainly there had been pain, but it was nothing that such a powerful creature couldn’t have dealt with on his own.
“Bastard…” I whispered, but he was too far gone to hear it and I was fading too quickly to repeat it.
I had travelled as far as I could by conventional means, but I was still miles away from the compound and would have to make the rest of the journey on foot.
Lestat had been gone three weeks by the time I received his letter at our home in New Orleans. The envelope had no return address, of course, but his vivid descriptions of the icy landscape confirmed what I had already determined through other sources; Thorne and Mael had taken him to the Arctic.
I had to get to him. I needed to know that he was safe.
As I slowly made my way through drifts of snow higher than my waist, I understood completely why Maharet had chosen to make her home here. This place was utterly uninhabitable and devoid of all life. The nearest mortal village was hundreds of miles away and even the wild creatures of the tundra did not occupy the land this far north. There were vast fields of ice and snow as far as the eye could see, occasionally broken up by the cold gray edges of protruding rock. Not even trees could survive in such a harsh climate.
I had dressed for what I knew would be an unpredictable journey, but even the heaviest coat and fur-lined boots did very little to shield me from the elements. In temperatures such as these, human skin would be frostbitten within minutes.
I walked on and on with only the sound of the whistling wind to keep me company. The compass in my pocket told me that I was headed in the right direction, but I couldn’t be certain of how long it might take me to get there. At this particular time of year, in this part of the world, the sun never rises, but there are still brief periods of twilight during which small amount of light can be seen on the horizon. I couldn’t know what this light might do to me, but I didn’t care. I had to see him.
The cold doesn’t hurt me as it would a mortal man, but I do feel it. After what must have been hours of trudging through the deepening snow, I could tell that the skin of my face was frozen and it seemed as if my joints were stiffening as well. Every step I took required a little more effort than the last. It was as though this immortal body of mine was waging a war against my will to carry on.
Must keep moving.
Would she even allow me admittance to her compound? Ever since my refusal of her ancient blood so many years ago, she has barely spoken more than a word to me. I am nothing to her now. Perhaps this entire expedition would be in vain.
One foot in front of the other. Don’t stop.
I don’t know when I lost the battle against the impossible terrain, but at some point, my legs gave out and I crumpled to the ground. I lay on a bed of ice cursing my own weakness, watching helplessly as blowing snow began to cover my mouth, nose and eyes. I wondered if this what Marius felt when he had been entombed in the thick ice beneath his own home at the time of the old Queen’s awakening. My thoughts drifted.
Strong hands grasped my shoulders and pulled me from my icy grave. Before I could even realize what was happening, I had been flung over the shoulder of a vampire of great age and strength. I attempted to open my eyes, but found the lids frozen shut. I tried to speak, but the wind caught in my throat. I wanted to move my arms or legs, but knew that this too would be futile. I could do nothing but listen as powerful legs moved us effortlessly through the snow.
When my eyes finally opened again, I found myself stripped of the frozen outer layers of winter clothing and covered in a thick wool blanket. I was in some sort of reclining chair only a few feet away from a roaring fire. My hair was still damp and the skin of my face tingled as if it were slowly coming back to life.
“That was foolish, Louis,” came a feminine voice from my left.
Maharet sat, as unmoving as a portrait in a high-backed chair on the other side of the hearth. She wore a loose-fitting, simple dress of deep green and long crimson curls hung loosely over her shoulders. She looked at me with eyes that were both gentle and authoritative, despite the fact that they were not her own.
“Where is Lestat?” I questioned, my voice was hoarse and I could taste blood on the cracked skin of my lips. “Is he unharmed?”
“He is here and he is safe.”
I felt as if a fog was lifting from my mind. I knew that someone had brought me here, but the memories were unclear. It didn’t matter. I came for one reason alone.
“You must understand that he meant no harm,” I began. “He never does. He acts without thinking. You know this as well as I do.”
“And you know all too well how serious the repercussions of his actions can be.” She was gazing into the fire. I could see the flames reflected in her eyes.
“How long do you intend to keep him locked away this time?” It was a rhetorical question. Time meant nothing to one who had walked the earth well before the pyramids of Giza were built. “Solitude will eventually drive him mad. At least allow me to stay here with him for the duration of his punishment. That is all that I ask of you.”
“It is his fate alone,” her voice was utterly devoid of emotion. “You cannot share it with him.”
I fell silent. What could she possibly mean by his fate? Was there more to this punishment than keeping him here in this desolate place like some caged animal? I thought of the recent months that Lestat and I had spent in New Orleans. Had we ever been so content? There had been an honesty and openness between us unlike any that we had ever shared before. We were, for once, after centuries of turmoil and conflict, truly happy and while I fully understood and even shared many of Maharet’s concerns, I hated her for taking that away from me.
She could read my thoughts, of course, and she fell quiet, for a time, as well.
It was I who broke the silence.
“I want to see him now.” I had no intention of leaving until I did.
She rose from her chair and moved toward me with one arm outstretched and a small object in her hand. I reached out and she placed a silver key into my palm then gestured toward a long, dark corridor near the back of the room.
“Go to him.” Was that kindness I heard in her tone?
I got to my feet, wrapping the blanket around my shoulders and tucking the key into the pocket of my sweater. As I turned my back to her she spoke again, stopping me in mid step.
“Know one thing, Louis. This is his final chance. One more act of defiance, intentional or not, and I will be left with no other choice but to destroy him.”
There was nothing I could say to this. She was correct, of course, as she has always been and her rules were very clear. Endangering our kind and our secrets in any way will not be tolerated. I knew that if she felt that she needed to make an example of Lestat, she would not hesitate to do so. If his destruction meant that we would never again be in danger of discovery, she would burn him to ash at her feet in an instant. There was no protest to be made, so instead of struggling to form some sort of desperate response I simply nodded in understanding and made my way to his room.
As you must already know, Lestat, myself and some of the others have taken a hiatus from the online world. This has not ended yet and I cannot say when it will, but know that we think of you often and wish you all the very best.
It is never my intention to come off as completely unapproachable. As most of you are already aware, I do not do well with sudden intense emotion and my initial reaction posted a few nights back may easily be misconstrued. I had to take a step back and look at the situation form all points of view. My anger over this incident has long since diffused and I would like to believe that it is all behind us now.
If any of you should feel that there are things that still need to be said, please contact me and let us resolve any problems once and for all.
I've run an update on the forum and any security holes should be repaired as of now. The additional folder lock will prevent anyone from even seeing the forum, let alone logging in.
Back in February of 2015, before we closed SR, it was explained that as of March 1, 2015, you would no longer be able to log in. If you happened to try beyond that date and did gain access, I would have hoped that the glitch would be noticed and someone would have contacted us about it. God knows why anyone would have attempted it to begin with when our intentions were very clear. To even set foot inside of it was to trespass on private property.
If anything like this should happen again, I will delete the forum entirely. From that point on, it will exist only on my own personal computer.
For those who happened to see it, please accept my apologies for the profanities. It was not directed at anyone specific.
As for what has happened with the forum, it is the ultimate breach of trust and to say that I am angry does not even adequately convey what I am feeling at the moment.
I would advise you all to keep your distance. Do not contact me.
I am not insane.
I do not need to be under the care of Marius de Romanus.
I will not be setting fire to anything else. The rage that incited those actions burned out long ago.
I have not chosen Nicolas de Lenfent as my new companion in eternity and I am not blindly doing whatever he asks of me. I feel nothing for him. He is merely a means to an end.
I'm hunting enough to sustain myself and am no longer at risk of becoming a dried up husk of a creature who is no longer capable of self-preservation. I shall continue to do so provided that the conditions of our agreement are kept.
If there are any additional questions or concerns, please voice them here and now. I've read everything and the gossip and hearsay are both incorrect and unnecessary when asking me directly is something that could have taken place at any time. Just because I have not explained myself publicly does not mean that I haven't been here all along.
The smell of gasoline was overwhelming as I carried he heavy plastic containers from room to room, dousing carpets, curtains and furniture with the highly combustible liquid. I stood for a moment in the main lobby of the house, matchbook in hand, knowing what it would mean if I actually went through with this.
Anger burned within me as I gazed upon the home we had created one last time. I could see Lestat's jacket hanging over the arm of the chair as if he had only left a moment ago and would be back soon to claim it. The rage seemed to knot deep within the core of me as I looked at it. I focused this feeling on the abandoned garment and felt a tightening sensation in my head that was almost painful. Suddenly, it was pouring out of me. My fury was an almost tangible thing as it reached out and touched the fabric causing the jacket to burst into flames. Had I really done that with nothing more than a thought? What a terrifying and monstrous power to posses! The flames quickly engulfed the chair then danced across the carpet before igniting the stereo system with a giant electric crack and a spray of glowing sparks.
It was mesmerizing. I was so caught up in the almost sensual movements of the fire that it was difficult to pull myself away. Finally, when I could feel the heat on my skin, I turned and walked out of the house, closing the door behind me.