Author: WaltD PM
Someone is killing the seers of Toronto. Follows "Slavery".Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Mystery - Words: 9,811 - Published: 08-12-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5294668
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Forever Knight – the Continuing Story.
The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star. The stories here are fan fiction, in which Nick and Natalie survive "Last Knight", the series finale. Also, Vachon survived Divia in "Ashes to Ashes". This story may be archived wherever by whomever.
Wade Everett is a good-looking, capable, smart-ass, and gay homicide detective who's sometimes full of himself. He's temporarily assigned to the 96th and Nick while Nick's partner, Tracy (who also survived LK) recuperates. He's found out what Nick is.
This story generally follows Slavery and generally occurs after Conversations.
EMANCIPATION -- Walt Doherty
- - - - -
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul
But it's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll
-- Do You Believe in Magic, Lovin' Spoonful
- - - - -
"Yes, really. What did you do at my loft to keep LaCroix out? Was it magic?" [See earlier story, Task Force.]
"Maybe. No, really, 'maybe'; I don't know. All I can tell you is that it worked. Maybe it's 'Clark's Law'. Say I used de-scented garlic essence to repel him. Would that satisfy your requirements?"
"I don't have any 'requirements' and it would have repelled me as well. And what's 'Clarke's Law'?"
" 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'." Wade continued, "Anyway, No, I have no idea why it worked really, nor do I care. It's something I got from a friend of mine and it works. I don't need to know anything else, do I?" He smiled at Nick.
"Well, I wouldn't count on magic to get our case load down."
"No, I agree. Reese would have a cow! 'How did you figure out Jones did it?' The Tarot Cards and the demon you called up told you? Oh, o.k., will you be able to call him up again for the court appearance?' He'd kill us."
Nick laughed, "That's for sure. And we don't need magic to prognosticate that."
[Arthur C Clarke, science fiction author, originated the idea of communication satellites in the late 1940s, among other things, like 'Clarke's Law'.]
- - - - -
We're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
--We're Off to See the Wizard, Harold Arlen
- - - - -
Inside an "occult" shop:
A tall, thin man was dressed as if he was straight out of Disney's Fantasia: long, dark robe, pointed hat and everything. The shop shelves looked as if they were straight out of Harry Potter: mortar and pestles, wands, Tarot, jars of strange plants. A section of shelves with "magic sets" and other boxed materials, rows and rows of books. There was an impressive row of computer screens open to various scenes: a Tarot solitaire, a star system charting the heavens – looked like Sagittarius was up – a bio-rhythm chart was generating pretty sine waves. It looked like the proprietor was trying to be all things to all people. It looked like he might be succeeding.
He faced outward, held up his arm in front of him, and shouted, "No, no!"
Everything went black for him. Permanently.
At the crime scene:
"This is the crime scene?"
"Yes, and this," Wade said pointing to the floor and gesturing in a large circle, "is an embedded metal ring. And the inscribed design is a pentagram."
"I thought that was a pentangle," replied Nick.
"The five pointed star is a 'pentagram'. A circle with the pentagram inscribed makes a 'pentangle'. "
"Yeah, it gets confusing."
[A pentagon is a regular five-sided figure;
i.e., each side is the same length.
A pentagram is five-pointed star NOT inside a circle.
A pentacle is a five pointed star that IS surrounded by a circle.
A pentangle is another name for the pentacle.]
"In any case . . . "
"Yeah. The guy's still dead."
With Natalie examining the body:
"No COD?" Wade said.
Natalie just looked at him; she said, "Of course, there's a COD, it's just not obvious. I'll find something when he's autopsied. In the meantime, look for a female companion."
Nick and Wade looked at her questioningly.
She continued, "Broken fingernails. Which," she offered a baggie to Nick, "would seem to indicate . . . . Did the constables find any references to female visitors?"
Nick replied, "Uh, they're still canvassing, but that would appropriate." he looked at Wade.
Wade said, "Oh sure, works for me, but let's not rule out anything until we have to."
"Any ideas about this 'conjure ring'?" Natalie asked.
"Is that what's it's called? No, other than the victim must have been seriously into the occult, after all the ring was imbedded in the floor," Nick said.
"That, or he was seriously off in his decorating ideas," Wade added.
Nick said, "Doesn't help, Wade."
""Ha, yeah, well," he said, "here's his appointment book. Apparently he was a 'Seer'."
"Seer?" Natalie volunteered.
"Fancy for 'fortuneteller'," Nick continued. "The days of Gypsies, incense, crystal balls are over and now we have computer screens, impressive graphs and graphics, and imbedded pentagrams."
"Pentangles," Wade corrected.
"An unhappy client you think?"
"Ha!" said Nick, "We should be so lucky."
Flashback – vaguely Late Middle Ages period.
A tallish man in long robes was standing in the center of a large room. These robes were for keeping warm not for his wizardly image. The large room was cold except for the pots being heated at the back of the room. Books, jars of ingredients, papers are strewn all about. He stood reading from one large text, picked up a bunch of sticks and dropped them into one of the several pots simmering in the back. He looked up at a noise.
"Nickolaus! How are you? Still a vampire I see. Have you come back for more treatment?" The two men embrace.
"Magnus! It's nice to see you. And, no, I've left LaCroix –"
Nick gave him a small, exasperated glare and continued, "—I'm just passing through and thought I'd stop in to see my favorite wizard."
""You're too kind," Magnus replied fussily. "But come, I've got a few new items that might interest you and some of them may actually work, plus I can use your nose."
"Here," he said, "is this truly Unicorn horn? What does it smell like to you? Come, come, we both know your nose is extraordinary."
After months, years!, of being constantly put down, Nick was a bit flattered to be asked an opinion, and asked respectfully; indeed, enthusiastically.
"Ah, Magnus," he held the ground powder to his nose, "it might be from a one-horned goat, but that's it." He laughed.
"I thought as much. For all the talk of Unicorns, there never seems to be one around when you need it."
"Supposedly you need to be a virgin to even approach one, you know," Nick said with a chuckle in his voice.
Magnus agreed, "I suppose that lets both of us out, doesn't it, Eh?"
"But come, I've got some old, old papyrus here," he opened a scroll onto one of the tables. "Something out of the Hindies. An old book of what I think are prophecies, or it's a cook book."
Nick looked at him in surprise. "Cook book?"
"Well, what else would have a formula to be chanted over a pot of boiling water as interesting ingredients are added? By the way, the pot on the left is a stew – fortunately for you, no garlic . . . yet!"
"It's the ancient Hindu letters. I've worked out some of them. The title seems to be the "Abarat". Unfortunately, that word doesn't seem to have any meaning.
"But what is of interest to you, my friend, an incantation, for lack of a better word, in the middle there. It has something to do with vampires. I am assuming that it might be some sort of cure – now, it wouldn't be something to turn you into one, now would it. On the other hand, it could be to ward off vampires. These Hindian letters are very difficult. Take a look at it, maybe you can clarify some of them.
"Anyway, I've figured out the different materials – these people apparently never heard of making a list of things. Fortunately there's nothing silly like 'eye of newt', or the tears of mermaid. Although some of them are tricky. One is some moss that grows at the very top of an oak tree. It seems to indicate that it should be gathered in the total darkness of a new moon! Ha! Oh, much better than at noon on the Summer solstice, no?"
"Magnus, you are very funny," Nick said kindly but impatiently.
"Well, even if you were to gather the moss for me – and, you know, you might as well, since you are here after all – that's only one of the items, and I haven't been able to figure out the directions, if that is indeed what they are. As I said, have at it, give it a try. Two minds are better than one, right?"
Magnus went on chattering as Nick looked over the oversized text. Could this indeed be a cure?
Nick said to Magnus, "Later, my friend. Let's catch up on what other things you are up to. And don't even think of making one of those awful blood substitute drinks of yours. Did you actually think I couldn't tell the main ingredient was frog?"
They walked over towards a large fireplace with equally large chairs. A servant laid more logs on the fire, and Magnus pulled his chair up closer to the warmth,
"Paolo! Make sure the pots are kept simmering. The pot on the left is the stew, take it for dinner for you and your wife, leave me a bowl of it for later."
Nick stood behind the other large chair, keeping it between him and the fire.
"Still wary of fire, Nickolaus? Well, I guess you have your reasons, don't you? Well, let me tell you what happened with the Bishop after you disappeared – you thoroughly scared him, you know . . . ." He chattered on. Nick turned the chair sideways to keep some of the fire off, sat, and listened to Magnus carry on. He thoroughly enjoyed hearing Magnus talk and talk and talk. For one thing, he wasn't really required to listen and there were no consequences if he didn't. Magnus would repeat anything necessary.
End of Flashback -- Return to the Present.
Natalie and Nick at the Morgue:
"Well, he wasn't killed by magic, was he?" Nick asked our favorite coroner.
"No, course not, but it almost looks like it. Very subtle; there's a very small needle mark in the back of his neck. A long sharp object was stuck in there and, well, it gets ugly after that. He was probably unconscious; there's some indication of his face being covered and he had breathing problems. Anyway, it was not a 'good death'." She shuddered slightly.
"Yuck," said Nick. "You knew what the 'conjure ring' was. Are you into any of this magic hoodoo?"
Natalie laughed, "No, please! A friend lives according to her horoscope, I think the Tarot cards are pretty, and that's it. I'm surprised with your long acquaintance with things of the night that you didn't know what the ring was."
Nick just smiled at her and shrugged.
Nick and Wade in the Caddy:
"No, I don't believe in magic, but I will allow that there are many things beyond my ken," Wade said.
Nick gave him a cross look at that.
"O.k., beyond my 'realm of knowledge'. Is that better? Do you believe in magic?"
Nick answered, "Ah, that's the question, isn't it?"
"No, not really," Wade said, it being his turn to be exasperated by his partner, "You've tried everything else from Frankenstein electrical treatments to ancient and secret Chinese herbs. Don't stand there and tell me that you haven't tried magic. What was it? Potions? Incantations? Arcane rituals? No, wait, wait, don't tell me: all of the above?"
Nick had the good grace to smile some. "Ah, yeah, at various times each of those things. You know, during my first couple of centuries, that sort of thing was current science."
"Yeah, it'd be nice if it worked. Consistently worked, that is. It seems to work just enough to peak one's interest."
Pentangled Up – Flashback cont.
The center of the room had been cleared, and Magnus was drawing a large circle inside of which he drew a pentagram. He was explaining to Nick:
"It's a pentangle, you stay outside the circle; we put these objects in the spaces between the star points, and the demon appears in the pentagon."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Hah! What do you care? Think of what we can learn if we really do call up a demon."
"This is supposed to be a 'vampire cure'. Maybe I should be inside it."
"Do you seriously want to be eaten by a demon? Suppose it does call up a demon and you're in there with it. Do you honestly think I'm going to break the circle to rescue you?"
"Um. There is that. O.k., what do we do?"
"Tell you what, just read the text aloud. See what happens."
"Magnus, you'd be dangerous if you ever got organized," Nick told him. "Hmmm. I may be good at picking up language but that's from people actually talking. This text leaves a lot to be filled in and I don't know what."
"Nickolaus," Magnus said seriously, "You have a much better chance of reading it than I."
"Fine. Let's see." He looked a little doubtful but nodded his head. He started sounding out the symbols on the page, and started to read. It sounded like a bad cross between German, Greek, and something vaguely oriental.
It got really quiet.
They listened intently.
Nothing . . . happened.
Magnus started to giggle. Nick looked over at him, and . . . That's when the room started to shake.
It wasn't a big earthquake, but it was enough. Magnus's crystal ball fell off its shelf, fortunately onto a heavy blanket, so it didn't break. Thank goodness, he thought, those things are expensive.
End of Flashback -- Back to Reality.
- - - - -
Perhaps Ill get a chance to look ahead and see
Soon as I find myself a crystal ball
--Crystal Ball, Styx
- - - - -
Another crime scene, a store front fortune-tellers place, "Lady Lidia's", it was somewhat deceptive because it looked like an overdone Gypsy tea room, but a careful look at it showed that this look was a carefully crafted one, one that met every cliché, but nevertheless, looked appropriate for all that: hanging shawls, incense, wrapped boxes of dried herbs, etc. There was also a wall of old books at the far end of the shop:
"What? No 'Pentabubble'?"
"Nick!" Wade said, exasperated, "Don't make fun. And, no, no 'Pentangle'. This one is fairly simple. Nice, young, Romany-looking woman, her skull's been crushed with that large crystal ball over there. And, you're right, it's not pretty."
"Sir?" Interrupted one of the junior constables.
"It's 'Nick'," Nick said looking over at the man's name tag, "Pietro."
"Ah, yes. Robbery could be a motive. The back room appears to have been trashed. The cash register is open and any bills that were in it are gone."
"You're welcome, sir, uh, Nick'," the constable was not apparently used to being treated as a normal being by detectives – or maybe he was just young and nervous. Nick thought he looked familiar.
Back at the Division, Wade and Nick are talking:
"Someone's killing the seers, prophets, occult dealers of Greater Toronto? That doesn't make sense," Reese said.
"I know, Captain," said Nick, "but at the moment that seems to be the direction things are going."
Sgt. Miller came over to the detectives with some reports. "The wizard's business partner said some books were missing and sent over an inventory." Wade took it and glanced at it, "Thanks, Sherri."
"Nick, maybe you might be familiar with some of these. They seem to be rather old and possibly unique." He handed the list to Nick who took it but put down on his desk without looking at it.
Again at the morgue:
"Well, yes. Straight forward. Last night, middle of the night. Anything I said other than the obvious would be speculation, but then the obvious it seems to be. No defensive wounds, so did she know her killer?"
"Thanks, Nat. Nat? Do you believe in magic?"
"Oh, Detective Knight! You've known me long enough to know the answer to that! I believe in the magic of 'ROMANCE' not speculative superstition."
"Wade, Natalie here is one of the original skeptics. I don't think she believes in anything she can't see or touch."
"Nick, you old sourpuss! I believe in the wind, rain on a Spring day, roses scenting the air around a quaint little bistro with fresh breadsticks . . . ."
Nick started, "Um, Mademoiselle? Voulez-vous –"
"Oooo. I get all chills and stuff when you talk like that, good sir."
Wade rolled his eyes, and interrupted, "Hey, you two kids go ahead and go out to the diner without me, just the two of you, alone, together. I've got to get back to the ranch and get the barn ready for the big dance. I wonder if Judy and Mickey are back from the drug store yet?" he said as he walked out of the morgue leaving those two to do whatever. He did smile at it though.
Later, the coroner confirmed that death was around 2 a.m., give or take and that, yes, the crystal did the damage. No prints on it; whoever used it either used gloves or wiped it. Nothing in particular was missing from the store, but it had been given a thorough going through.
Those damn middle ages again!
Nick noticed the globe on the blanket where it had rolled, "Into divination now, Magnus?"
"Oh, that, no, but it does help to focus the concentration. Did we cause that?"
"I doubt it, Magnus. If earthquakes could be caused by incantations, Italy would have fallen into the sea before Atlantis."
"Oh." said Magnus, "Oh! Maybe that's how –"
Nick interrupted with, "Magnus!"
"Well, it could have. Anyway, I like the hollow globe I've got over there on the floor. You can fill it with water and can add colors. Very pretty. They work like your voice, you know. Sort of put people into a semi-sleep, you can ask them their deepest, darkest secrets and make them forget they told you. Ha! The true secret of the court jester and court physician! They know where the bodies are buried! and this is how they found out."
"Were you planning on using it on me, Magnus," Nick mused while he helped Magnus clear some of the fallen and spilled things up.
He laughed, "Nickolaus. You don't bury the bodies, you just drain them, and then discard them. YOU don't know where the bodies have been buried.
"It wouldn't work on you anyway, would it, Nickolaus? Hm, you know, it might be worth trying that out to see. Nickolaus! Look into my eyes . . . ."
"Magnus, was this blood on the table before?"
"What blood, Nickolaus? No! Of course not, I keep this area scrupulously clean. Um, isn't that where the book was lying?"
Nick looked at the bottom of the text, but there was no blood on it. The spot on the table though was just about the size of the book.
End of Flashback & Back to the Present
Meanwhile back at the Division. N&W at their desks:
"We really don't have much to go on, Nick," said Wade.
"No kidding. Have you looked over the constable's reports?" Nick asked him.
"I'm reading them now. There doesn't seem to be any obvious connection but seeing as how they were both involved in the occult . . . ."
"It's possible that they knew each other. I'll check out the suppliers, see if they have anything in common there."
"And, there's an off-chance that they might have had a booking agent."
Nick looked askance to Wade.
"Well, they both had 'business' appointments. Maybe they gave 'demonstrations' too," he added hopefully. And, "Oh, oh, has there been a convention in town lately?"
- - - - -
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all.
Go ask Alice
--Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit
- - - - -
Reese came out of his office with a mean look on his face.
"Another one. We aren't looking too good at this. Here's the address. You've got nothing? Ah, well, get going."
"Natalie's not here?" asked Wade.
"She'll get here," Nick noted. "but look at this mess. I'd say there might have been a struggle here. This one apparently didn't know his attacker."
The crime scene was the parlor of a small house. It had been converted into an apothecary with room for séances and other 'consultations'. A large sign outside proclaimed, 'Shoppe Apothecaire'. Nick noticed another crystal ball on the shelves along with a few of what looked like reference books. There were a lot of pamphlets and 'true story' books for sale. There were spilled bottle contents all over the place and the victim had bled on many of them. A knife stood starkly straight up from his back.
"Hello. Well, there may be some hope for some clues here. I'll bag his hands and we can check for DNA under the fingernails later. Hopefully, there'll be some clues here for you to go on."
"Hi, Natalie," Wade said, he continued to the unit investigators, "We need pictures of the all the bottles exactly where they lie; it could be important."
"Hi, Nat," Nick said, "It's been so long since we've seen each other . . . ."
"Why, it must be at least a couple of hours, detective!" she smiled at him. "I'll pack this up, run the tests, and get the results to you ASAP, but I wouldn't hold my breath."
Nick nodded, "Yeah, I know what you mean."
Flashback: Meanwhile back in the Middle Ages:
Nick said, "Magnus, do you think this will really work?"
Magnus shrugged, "Nothing's lost if it doesn't, is it? And besides it can't even poison you."
Nick looked at the concoction disgustedly, "I think I'd rather have your frog and eye of newt mixture, at least that wasn't foaming."
"Well, here goes!" And Nick drank a large draught. You could count to three, and he turned and ran to a large tub and emptied from his stomach what he had so recently just put down in there.
"Nickolaus," Magnus said, "It won't work unless you keep it in for at least 30 seconds!"
Nick, leaning over the barrel, coughed, gagged, and sputtered, "Easy for you to say, old friend."
Magnus held up a vial of the liquid to the light, "Maybe it's a vampire repellant potion," he said.
"Now you think of that?" complained Nick. "Tell you what, you drink it, and I'll see if I can get close enough to you to bite your neck. Ugh! Magnus, that stuff was repulsive not repelling."
End of flashback.
We Can Work It Out
- - - - -
Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
--We Can Work It Out, Lennon & McCartney
- - - - -
At the Division:
A young policeman came into the bullpen; he spoke to the sergeant at the reception desk, nodded his thanks, and continued into the room.
"Detective Knight! Nick," he said clearly.
Wade and Nick looked over at him. It was the constable from the second crime scene.
"Pietro, how are you," Nick said.
"Fine, sir, ah, Nick. Um, I took the liberty of checking some things out and I think I've got something for you. All three victims were on the same delivery circuit and each had received package the day they were murdered."
Wade asked, "Do you think it was the delivery man?"
Pietro said, "I don't know, sir." Wade winced at being called 'sir'. "I thought you might want to interview him though. Here's his name, address, work number and so on."
"Good thinking, officer," Wade said.
"Thank you, sir," and he turned to leave.
"Pietro!" came a shout from across the room, "What are you doing here?" said an obviously pleased and happy voice.
"Angelo! Hi! I'm delivering some info to the detectives here."
"Aw, you couldn't have given it to me, little bro'?"
"It's their case, Ange."
Nick said, "Ah, that's it! I knew you looked familiar, Pietro, but I couldn't place you. So, you're Pirelli's little brother."
"I prefer his 'younger brother', sir, uh, Nick," as he glanced over at his brother, "seeing as I'm taller than he is." Pirelli came over and punched his brother in the ribs. Pietro looked up at the ceiling, but smiled nevertheless.
"Well, Wade, what say we go interview this delivery man?"
"Let's do it!" Wade said enthusiastically.
On the Road Again:
"Not a clue, guys. I just drop the stuff off; never even go inside. God forbid I should bump one of their precious little dollies. But, there is something. You say the Lady was killed, too? I didn't think much of this, but I saw the same bag lady at her place and at the apothecary. Just thought it was a little strange that a bag lady would be desperate to be a customer to one, let alone two, of these guys."
"Well, thank you, sir," said the detectives, "Could you come down to the station and work with one of our sketch artists?"
"Well, at least we have a suspect," Wade said, "and not a magic one."
"It would be nice if we had a clue as to who she is," Nick replied.
"I just may be able to help you there," Natalie said as she walked into the Division's situation room. "Believe it or not, there was DNA under the third victim's fingernails, and, on top of that, she was in the system. Don't know specifically if she's your killer, but she was definitely at the scene."
"That's great, Nat, thanks!"
"Any clue on motive?" Wade asked Nick.
"Not really, but whoever is doing this seems to be searching for something. The robbery part seems to be also an after-thought, Nick said.
Nick got a strange look on his face. "Where's that inventory Miller gave us?"
"You left it on your desk."
Nick started tearing things on his desk apart looking for the list. He mumbled to himself, where is it, where it is?
Flashback: Incantatula, Incanabula!
Magnus said to Nick, "All right, we know it's not a summoning spell – thank goodness – that earthquake was quite enough – now if the translation is right, this should probably make you mortal."
"Probably, Magnus? I thought you were more certain than that," Nick complained.
"Oh, not to worry, it seems to say literally that you will be able to walk in the sunlight. Now the way these things usually work out, it could mean just that literally; you'll just be a vampire who could walk in the sun, these are, unfortunately, always open to interpretation. But why would they do that? How many vampires do you know who just want to walk in the sunshine. No, it's got to be allegorical."
"Well, it's just that it's a big step."
Magnus laughed, "It's what you've been looking for for centuries; now you're getting nervous?"
"Anxious, rather, it'll be an awful disappointment if it doesn't work."
"We could try it out on, what did you call it, a carouche?"
"I don't think so, Magnus. Some of these letters are pretty specific, besides you don't happen to have one lying around, do you?"
"Damn! You would ask; I just used up my last one, two days ago."
"Magnus, be serious, please?"
"Why, Nickolaus? I can understand your master's concerns. But really, all right, you can go out during the day, but you'll grow old, you can be hurt and not heal. Why on earth do you want to be mortal again?"
"So I don't have to indiscriminately kill other people to live?"
"Small price to pay, Nickolaus. Human life is not held in much esteem. Some of the smaller tykes they'll give you if you'll only take them away. There's no concern for their welfare."
"What if I decided to eat you?"
"My soul would go on to the greater glory of god . . . oh, really, Nickolaus, do you think I'd sit here and let you bite me? I like you and consider you a friend, but I'm not going to bare my neck to you. Even I have my limits."
"Why do I still feel like you're laughing at me?"
"Because you're an angst-drive, existential twit, but then, that's part of your charm. Look, the sun is going to rise before we can complete this. Let's mark all the materials, set aside the perishables, and we can tackle this right after sunset, eh?"
"Yes. Waiting will drive me crazy, but that sounds best. Thank you, my friend."
End of Flashback – Return to Today
Round, Round, We Get Around
Nick spoke, more to himself than to anyone else, "I don't believe it; I simply do not be-lieve it!"
Wade looked at him, "Of course, there's no point in asking you what you're talking about because you aren't even in the same world as we are, are you? I recognize that look." He reached over and grabbed Nick's wrist and clamped his handcuffs on him and on his own wrist. "You're not going anywhere without me, man!"
"What? Oh, Wade, you can take those off."
"I have your attention?"
"Yes, C'mon let's get to the Caddy."
"What are we going for?"
"Wade call the Wizard place, ask his partner if the books are still there. Have him meet us there."
"Got it. Any book in particular?"
"Yes, but I have to see it."
"Sounds mysterious. Does it actually have anything to do with the case?"
"It might; it might"
They drove, or rather Nick drove, at a reckless pace to the first victim's store.
When they got there, Nick ran straight to the partner. "Is this book still here or is it one of the missing?" Nick said as he showed the man his own inventory list.
"Oh, my. Yes – ah, no, uh –"
"C'mon, man, take a deep breath and speak slowly. You can do it."
The man continued, "We sold the book to Madam Lidia just the other day. That's why it's still listed –"
"Wade. The Gypsy Tea Room. Now." Wade barely got into the car while Nick was pealing out of the parking lot. "Uh, you want to fly over, and I'll follow in the car? I mean I'd like to survive the trip!"
Nick pulled the car over to the curb in a screeching halt, jumped out of the car, and disappeared in the air. "I was kidding," Wade mumbled to himself, "Well, I guess he really was listening to me. Sheesh!" Wade moved over to the driver's seat and took off towards the second murder site.
He pulled into the driveway and Nick was waiting for him. "Just buckle up, let me drive. What's the Apothecary's address. Apparently Madam Lidia bought the book for Mr Potions; a birthday present. She thought it was classical recipes." Nick let out a bitter laugh.
Wade thought, what's wrong, Nick?
He must have thought it out loud because Nick responded, "I really need that book, Wade."
They reached the Apothecary's in record time. Nick ran into the rooms and started tearing through the books and pamphlets. Wade stayed back out of the way and just watched his partner with an air of concern.
In the back of the room under a piece of furniture, Nick found a very old book binding; the contents had been ripped out. He groaned. There was nothing left, the entire contents had obviously been removed. The only thing left was the name of the book which had been carved into the leather binding: Abarat.
Nick sat on the floor with his heard down, "No, no, no."
Wade had to pick him up and almost physically carry him to the car. He drove straight to the morgue.
Down and Out in Beverly Hills – Uh, I Mean Toronto
At the Morgue:
"Isn't there anything we can do for him?" Wade asked Natalie. "A sedative, get him drunk?"
"No, his system clears drugs out – oh, wait, curare. Yes, that'll do it?"
"Curare?" Wade asked her.
"It acts on Nick much like vodka does on us. Now, I know I've got some in the back somewhere . . . ." and she went to prepare Nick a 'drink'.
"Natalie? Do you have anything *we* could use?"
"Yeah," she muttered, "Uh, in my desk, right hand drawer, bottom. Twelve year old Scotch; it was only six years old when I got it, but it's been sitting in that damn drawer all this time. Might as well use it!" She placed a glass in Nick's hand and made him drink the contents. She told Wade that given his state of depression, Nick would probably go straight from depressed to unconscious.
"Now, what is this all about?"
"Oh, that explains it; I understand now, thank you. You can go now, I'll take care of our boy here."
"What? Oh. Sorry. But really, it was a book." Wade explained to Natalie how Nick found a reference to this old text, and how they madly traced the book only to find that the contents had been destroyed – or stolen anyway.
"What was the book," she asked with some trepidation.
"No idea, but it had this scratched on its cover: Abarat".
"Ooooh, noooo," she groaned.
Wade looked up at her expectantly.
"I don't really know what it is, except that Nick believes it has a chant – or *had* a chant – on how to convert a vampire back to being a human."
Enlightenment hit Wade's face. "Of course. Well, that explains our running around like banshees."
Natalie agreed, "Yes, it would. Look, he's going to be out of it for a while, you might just as well finish up with your work. I'll stretch him out on one of the gurneys and get him back to the loft after my shift is over."
"He'll be out that long? Well, thanks, Natalie. I'll talk to you later."
Meanwhile, Back in the Middle of Last Month, Last Century, Last . . . .
- - - - -
That old black magic has me in its spell,
that old black magic that you weave so well.
--That Old Black Magic
- - - - -
First flashback interlude:
Wade recalled a conversation he had had with LaCroix at the Raven a few months prior.
"I do not put any stock in cards, crystals, incantations, and such" LaCroix said.
"What, do you mean you don't believe in magic?" Wade said.
"Detective, I would not joke about this. I will accept and deal with various unexplained phenomena; this does not mean that I 'believe' they are magic, merely that events happen for which there are no explanations, or perhaps, no 'known' explanation."
" 'That's accurate' "
"You think it's nuts, too? I don't understand."
"I am mocking you, detective. Please pay close attention: I believe in UFOs; that is, I believe that there are objects, that they have been observed flying, and that they are unidentified. I have been one myself, I believe. However, do I believe in little green men? No."
"Well," the detective continued, "that's clear and concise."
"Thank you," he said dryly, "I do try. On the other hand, I understand that there are those who do believe such things. And while one can argue for days over some specific, at the end of that time, the question will still be undecided, and I will have made a tidy profit on both the real bloody mary's as well as the vodka ones. I accommodate these fantasies – it's good for business."
Second flashback interlude:
Another indeterminate time setting but probably sometime and place in the US during vaudeville.
Nick is on the stage in a magician's outfit helping his comely assistant into the box from which she is to disappear. She steps into it, the curtain is drawn, Nick waves his arms and taps the box with his wand.
To his surprise, the curtain draws back, and out steps a tall man in a tuxedo and top hat. He turns and extends his arm into the box, grasps, and pulls out a hand which is attached to the lovely assistant. She hangs on his arm as he turns and bows to the audience. Amidst the applause, LaCroix and the girl walk off the stage. Nick bows to acknowledge the applause.
Backstage. Nick, LaCroix, and the sweet young thing are in the dressing room.
"Where did you come from, LaCroix!" Nick exclaimed!
"How do you do to you as well, Nicholas. How nice to see you."
Sweet Young Thing looked back over her shoulder toward the 'gentlemen' as she changed out of her costume. Nick looked aghast at her neck where there was blood trailing down her shoulders.
"Why, through the trap-door, of course. Your delicious, little assistant was kind enough to show it to me earlier. I thought it might be nice to pop in and surprise you. Were you not surprised, Nicholas?"
Nick's shoulders sagged. He glanced at the young lady. Her eyes turned golden. He turned and left the room before her teeth could drop down.
LaCroix's nasty laughter sounded in the room. It faded only with his departure along with his taking the young lady with him.
Third flashback interlude:
"Nickolaus, wake up, wake up!"
Magnus was shaking Nick violently.
Nick sat straight up with a loud snarl and his eyes golden. He looked around; the room was a shambles. "What happened?"
"Yes, indeed, I would like to know myself!"
Magnus spotted his servant Paolo over in a corner, unconscious, apparently hurt, but still alive and breathing.
He gently woke the young man and helped him over to a couch.
The story slowly unfolded.
A tall, severe looking, older gentleman had approached Paolo which is the last thing Paolo clearly remembered, but events involved drugging both Magnus's and Nick's drinks. The man then proceeded to tear apart the conjure circle, took up all the enchantment items, and burned the old book they had been working on in the room's small fire-pit. Magnus reached in and stirred the cold ashes. Nothing was left but he could tell it had been his copy of the 'Abarat'.
Nick was distressed. He said to Magnus, "Let me help you clean things up here. You're sure you know of no other copy?"
"How did he know I was here?" He looked accusingly at Magnus.
Fourth flashback interlude:
Location: some vaguely northern European seaport. Two men are talking in a small, rustic room over a tavern; a window looks out onto the port.
- - - - -
From the North to the South, Ebudae into Khartoum,
From the deep sea of Clouds to the island of the moon,
Carry me on the waves to the lands I've never been,
Carry me on the waves to the lands I've never seen.
--Orinoco Flow, Enya
- - - - -
Nick said to Aristotle, "Thank you."
"Think nothing about it," Aristotle replied.
"You won't tell LaCroix?"
Aristotle looked pained, "Nicholas."
"Uh, yeah, right."
"But be aware, young man, your sire is not stupid. If he wants, he'll come looking for you, and mostly likely find you. A suggestion, leave him a note saying you need to go away for a while and ask his forbearance. Oh, don't look at me like that. You know that something like that will assuage his anger some so it might take a day or two longer for him to decide to go for you, and the more time you have, and so on and so on." He gave the young vampire a sympathetic smile.
"I won't tell him a thing of course, you know that, but he can figure it out himself."
"Ah, yeah, well, thanks, Aristotle; you know I appreciate your protecting my secrets."
"I protect everyone's my good, young man. Now be off with you."
"Cornelius!" he shouted – loud enough to be heard all over the estate.
"I told you not to approach him!"
Groveling, Cornelius said, "I didn't, Master, he came up to me. Please, sir; he said to give you this," and he handed LaCroix an envelope.
LaCroix read the note inside carefully. He struck out at Cornelius but missed since the servant had slowly retreated just outside the range of his long arms. [Cornelius had worked for LaCroix for a long time and he knew his master.] He crumpled the note, threw it down, and stormed out of the room saying, "Bah!"
"Yes, I gave him papers. Passport, letters of introduction, letter of credit. Enough for him to establish himself, adequately, if not terribly comfortably."
"YOU WILL TELL ME WHERE YOU SENT HIM!!!"
Aristotle laughed out loud. "Lukius!" he said, holding his waist with both hands. "Please, my sides. Drop the act, you KNOW that won't work with me. Getting the materials from me, as far as his 'escape' is concerned, he has my protection. Now, a couple of words of advice? You're a smart man, my friend, how many ships do you think have sailed this evening? Surely you can ask at the docks about a sandy-haired, young dandy who got on a ship at the last minute. Drop your anger and use the brains that've kept you alive all these years. And, don't bother trying to bully me," he laughed again, "You know how far that'll get you."
"How do I know you are telling me the truth?" LaCroix said with only a trace of nastiness in his voice.
"Well," replied Aristotle, "if you're going to be THAT way . . . . First, I haven't told you to do anything but use you're brains and not your anger and emotions. With your talents, you can find him fast enough if you really want to. Second, I have never, and you KNOW this, lied to you. I'm insulted that you would even suggest it; so, you know he's left, take a vacation yourself." He stood up with a great deal of dignity, turned his back on LaCroix, and left.
LaCroix was thoughtful. He knew that Aristotle would never give up Nick's location, but his advice was sound, how far could Nick have gotten anyway? Still, he resented the vampire's protecting his sources and resources from him.
Back to Magnus
"No, no, no, my friend. I love him no more than you do."
"Of course, Magnus. You're right, I'm sorry. It must have been my own folly. If I am to avoid him, I *must* work harder to disappear. I can help you put things back together here, Magnus, but then I must be on my way. Thank you for your hospitality, your help, and your humour," Nick said ruefully.
"You know if you ever want to be brought –"
"Ah, no, thank you, Nick, I know; but I appreciate the offer, my friend. Fare you well, and think kindly of me, if I don't see you again. If I do hear of another copy of that text, I'll find some why to get word to you."
"Thank you, Magnus, I will appreciate that. Look, tell me, how do you manage to stay so cheerful all the time?"
"Seriously? Just my generous and kind nature, I suppose" he grinned.
"You should change your name to Felix, Latin for 'happy'," Nick said.
"If I ever cross over, I will, but I'll spell it differently just for you, and to give it a special twist."
"If you must, my friend."
Magnus then walked up to Nick, embraced him, and kissed him on both cheeks, European style.
End of Flashback -- Back to the Present.
- - - - -
Back home again, I can't wait to get back home again.
--Home Again, Willy Nelson
- - - - -
Again, at the Division:
"How's Nick?" Reese asked.
"Severely under the weather. I've never seen him so sick," Wade said.
Sotto voce, Reese said, "Can he get sick?"
Sotto voce right back at him, "Well, yeah, apparently. Natalie's got him tied down in his loft. The man's not going any place for days from the look of him.
"Humph, who'd figure?"
"Do we know where to find this perp?" Reese asked.
"Got a last address, but you know how good those things are," said Wade, "But I'll go have a look. Maybe we'll get lucky."
"Well, oh, look there's young Pirelli, take him with you and go check it out."
"Hi, Pietro, can you help me with a little reconnaissance? C'mon, we'll take Nick's Caddy."
They did and didn't get lucky.
They found the woman implicated by the DNA. They found other materials, items, contraband, whatever, and all, in her apartment. They also found her. Dead. Like a doornail.
Pietro Pirelli directed Wade's attention to the woman's neck. There was a nasty cut there, plus it looked like she had lost a lot of blood.
"Well, it looks full circle. She obviously wanted something those people had and took them out in order to get it, then –"
"—someone took her out," said Pietro. "It seems a shame to waste the time going after the perp who did us a favor by taking this gal out."
"Pietro, everyone deserves to have their life valued even if they are wasting their own themselves. But, you're right, nobody's going to press this one.
"Besides," Wade said, more to himself than to Pietro, "I have the feeling this one's going to be gone in the wind." He sighed. Pietro looked at him. He shrugged.
"Hey, Pietro, how's your brother? He still mad 'cause I beat him in that 'Ab-Off' so bad?" He smiled. "Plus, he never told me he had a really cute, younger brother."
Pietro blushed. "Uh, sir, I'm not –"
Wade laughed, "Please! Pietro, it's 'Wade'. And I know, more's the pity, but I know. Give your brother my best."
At the loft:
Nick was stretched out on his couch, unconscious. Wade and Natalie were talking.
"He's alright," Natalie said, "he's actually just sleeping now. It'll do him good. So, what happened?"
"We got the perp, sort of."
"The DNA you found identified her, but she was dead at her place."
"Oh. Who killed *her* then?"
"Not a clue. I do have my suspicions, but there's nothing solid. Heck, there's nothing liquid."
"Wade," Natalie chuckled, "Can you give a straight answer?"
"Ah, well, yes. If anyone deserves a straight answer, it's you. Mind you, I have no proof at all, just a good guess –"
"—Oh, out with it man! You can seriously drag things, you know."
Wade grinned a little. He said, "LaCroix."
"No," she said.
"Yes," another voice piped up.
"Nick! You're O.k.!"
"Yes, but hung over like hell. How much curare did you use, Nat?" He gave her his best lop-sided grin.
"When I saw the binder of the book had the title 'Abarat' engraved, I knew it could only be him. He must have got wind of the book's existence, and, I suspect, hired our actual killer. If he'd contacted anyone like Mikloš, or any of the others, we'd have heard that he was in the country. I think he flew in just for the purpose of collecting the book. When he got it, he killed his operator. LaCroix's a bad one to do business with; he has a very unforgiving nature.
"Yeah, and so much being *emancipated* from him. Lordy, even from Rome he can interfere, manipulate, . . . .ah, damn."
The three of them looked at each other. Natalie and Wade both had had dealings with LaCroix; maybe not the centuries that Nick did, but enough to know what Nick meant.
Wade said, "He really does consider you his property, doesn't he? You know you aren't, don't you?"
"Uh, yeah, Wade, you, Natalie, Father Pierre have helped me understand that. But, I hope, with something like this, you understand my problem. Even with the psychic link broken, we're still attached. He's still my sire, whether I like it or not. Thanks to you and Natalie, I can ignore him a little better, but he's never ever going to be completely gone.".
Later that week, Nick received a postal express package. When he opened it, there was nothing but ash in it. Well, mostly ash, but there were a few scraps of barely burned papyrus – or was it vellum – enough to tell him that it was the remnants of the book whose contents had disappeared. He looked at the postal information: Italy, it was from Italy.
"That's cruel," he said to himself, "Even for you, old man; that's unnecessarily cruel." Nick just shook his head.
Then he thought to himself, I don't have to put up with this anymore. He resealed the envelope, took a magic marker, and wrote boldly on the front: REFUSED. Later on his way into work, he stopped at the local mail service office which he knew was opened all night, and handed the package to the clerk.
"If there are any charges, I'll gladly pay them," he told the young man behind the counter.
"No, sir," He replied, " 'S part of our service."
Nick said, "Thank you," and left.
Later, after he told Wade what had happened and what he had done, his partner told him, "Good for you; about time."
Later still, LaCroix picked up his package from the local postal office he could patronized. The clerk told him that yes, it had been delivered but that it had been refused and sent back. The clerk shrugged; it was no nevermind to him.
LaCroix however was somewhat puzzled. For all appearances it would seem that Nicholas didn't even bother to open the package. Was his son getting that blasé? He didn't believe it. He wondered if that busybody young detective currently working with Nick had anything to do with it? He liked Nick, would he protect him from the knowledge – no, if anything that man would trumpet it. What would Nick do? Why wouldn't he open the package. He wouldn't know for sure that it was from him. God, it couldn't be that Nick was moving beyond such taunts? LaCroix had been able to manipulate him this way forever – No, no. He (LaCroix) was just having an off day – it happens.
Nick was somewhat surprised at himself. He really didn't feel all that hurt, he certainly was not surprised, this was old news from LaCroix. No, he (Nick) was surprised that he wasn't all that bothered by it, a little disappointed at his (former) master, but that was par for the course, wasn't it. He dismissed it from his mind because he had more important things on his mind.
Wade and Natalie were both rather proud of him for moving beyond these truly petty irritations. LaCroix would have been afraid of how these things were going had anyone bothered to tell him. The really important thing was this: nobody cared anymore. As long as the old man didn't criminally intrude himself on any of them, he could do as he darned well pleased (in their opinion). He was becoming peripheral to their lives, and the poor schnook didn't even know it. Sic simper tryannus, baby!
Reese asked, "Then this one goes down as an unsolved." It was more a statement than a question.
Wade answered for both of them, "Yep."
Reese looked straight at Wade, " 'Yep', that's it, just 'yep?"
Wade smiled. "Well, the three Magicteers are solved. This 'un did 'em. But who did this 'un?" Nick looked back and forth from his partner to the captain, and just shrugged.
Other Destinations, Other Times
- - - - -
Hey, what's the time of day?
Seems like I've been away- . . . .
A destination's all I need-
--Take Off, Harlow
- - - - -
A while later, whether some weeks or months is uncertain:
When in Rome . . . .
A debonair and stylishly lean young (well, mostly still young) man sat in his chair at a small table outside the little bistro just off the charming, little square. The type the tourists would love to find but won't, because even if they did, they'd forget about it as soon as they left it.
He took his fedora off and set it on the table, and ran his fingers through his blond hair, he brushed his upper lip where he was trying out a little moustache. It wasn't working. He picked up his drink and sipped at it while enjoying the night and the weather.
He heard an involuntary gasp, and looked over to his right.
"Young man! I hardly expected to find you here of all people, of all places!"
"The gasp told me that, General."
"Well, I assume you have some business with me?"
"To the point. 'I do so like that' –"
"Do not be impertinent, young man. It does not become you, it is annoying, and I do not like it."
The young man laughed, "Oh, general, you certainly are consistent. How is Rome?"
"I have always enjoyed the 'Eternal City', even before it became 'eternal'. Did you know that Nero's 'Golden House' had a lake on the grounds? It's where the Coliseum is now. It was a lovely little lake; you could sail a little skiff across . . .." He sighed. "I hated to see it go, but then I was hardly in a position to object, was I?
"If that's how you'd like it: Leave—Him—Alone."
"Young man, I do not –"
"Stop. Don't be disingenuous. We both know who and what we are talking about. Sending him the ashes was unnecessarily cruel. I'm not sure I'm going to forgive you for that."
"I had nothing to do with those murders –"
"Oh, save it. For one thing, you're out of my jurisdiction, plus I've begun to care less and less about who you are and what you do. You've had more advantages than your charge and yet you have not changed at all. I wonder, have you given up entirely?
"Beside the point. Your actions have not gone unnoticed. You may have lived up to the letter of the law, but you have seriously stretched it. I am here to tell you that this will not be allowed. No more contact for at least ten years. Period. If there is a hint, I, personally, will find you and take you out. I believe you understand that that is a euphemism for 'kill you' not a dinner date. Want to taste my blood to test my sincerity? No, I thought not.
"So, you have lost this battle, General. Of course you haven't lost the war; that will go on longer than I will I suspect."
The General stood there next to the young man in stony silence, the sort of silence that only the undead can project.
"And you are smart enough to know that that isn't just personal, but that there are others who, even now, would love to sanction elimination. You know this. You have a gift for alienating people. You are much better at maneuvering masses of soldiers. You should hire yourself out to one of the Bangladeshi warlords – or is that Burmese?
"Please sit, mon général, I have a small gift for you," and he pulled out a bottle of Hungarian Bull's Blood wine. "I thought this would be amusing." He signaled the proprietor who brought over two small glasses. "I've added an ingredient that I think you'll find amusing."
LaCroix sat and examined the bottle. He removed the cork and smelled it. He laughed out loud. "Wade – or should I still refer to you as 'detective'?—"
" 'Wade' is fine, sir."
"Wade, you do have a certain irritating charm," he said as he poured a glass of the bloodied wine. Wade held his palm over his own glass to indicate he did not want any.
"Well, sir, I was sure you would not enjoy my bloody whine, but you might like my bloodied wine."
LaCroix grimaced and shook his head, "Are they still letting you get away with that sort of thing? My, my, my." He sighed, looked at his glass of wine, "Very nice. Detect—rather, Wade, would you like to come up to my flat? I have some really lovely medieval etchings you might like."
"Why, mon général, I thought you'd never ask."
They finished their drinks and got up to leave, but they took the Hungarian wine with them.
The older man reached his arm around his young companion and squeezed his shoulder. The young man shuddered just a bit.
The young man said, "Oh, I love the smell of Italian food cooking. Ummmm."