Author: AgapaoPhileo PM
Lucien LaCroix returns to his old stomping grounds and must again choose to live or to die.Rated: Fiction T - English - Spiritual/Supernatural - Words: 7,001 - Published: 11-19-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6489138
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By Dory Blankenship
This work is dedicated to Dr. Mary E. Waldron, A very wonderful friend I am eternally grateful for. This work was written for and dedicated to her in 2005, to celebrate her birthday. In 2010, she passed away, and I then wanted to publish this for the first time to honour her life. I also dedicate this work to all of the makers of one of our shared favourite stories, the show "Forever Knight", in particular the actor Nigel Bennett.
It had been very nearly two millennia since that horrific day. Two millennia since he had made the decision "to live," rather than die with his townspeople in the shower of Vesuvius' ash. And two millennia since he had been in the city he once ruled and called home. In the opinion of Lucien "General Lucius" LaCroix, it was time for a return visit to his Pompeii.
After a flight in the warm July air, LaCroix phoned Aristotle, the wizard vampire assistant. By the end of the call, LaCroix had a villa in Pompeii superbly stocked, ready when he would be. All that remained in his itinerary was the invitation of his most beloved children.
"Bonsoir, Nicholas." LaCroix said after swooping through the skylight of his son's apartment.
"Good evening to you as well, LaCroix. Would you care for a drink?"
"Not at the moment," the elder said in admiration of Nicholas' newfound hospitality. This… new life of Nicholas had added so much to his personality, and made it far more peaceful to visit him. The golden haired child had become so full of the light that drew LaCroix to him in that pub eight centuries ago. Though LaCroix did not like that he was keeping so much mortal company, he liked these changes, and would maintain them by any means necessary.
"Let us sit and discuss for a while, shall we? You must have some issue to discuss for this visit." Nicholas motioned to the leather furniture near the fireplace.
"My dear child, you know I need no reason to visit you. But there is something I would like to ask of you."
"And that would be?"
"You learned of the circumstances that made me who I am today, and the location of my beginning, Pompeii. I have not revisited that place nor anywhere near it since. Now that it is restored, I have arranged a jubilee of sorts during the month of August. I request your company."
Nicholas thought on the offer for a few moments. It would be nice to travel with his father as they had in the past eight centuries. His new life required that he not live as he was accustomed to, and thus he had a dilemma. "LaCroix, I am honoured by your offer. I would very much like to go with you, carousing as we did before. However, my family has many important events that will be occurring during this time as well. Because of these obligations, I cannot go with you. Please try to understand."
To say the least, LaCroix was upset. Not that it showed on his physical form, but his mind was spinning. His protégé had just blatantly refused an invitation of his, and a kind one at that! Were it not for Nicholas' newfound respect, a new unnamed love for his father, LaCroix would have disciplined this insolence harshly. However, he did not want to disrupt this peace between them, and this thought reigned in his all-too-human thoughts. "Perhaps now that he has a taste of fatherhood, he knows the sacrifice one must make for one's children," LaCroix thought.
"LaCroix, I apologize. I would like to join you, I really would. Please enjoy your trip anyway. And since you will not be near, I will give you your 'birthday' gift now." Nicholas got up, went to the refrigerator, and pulled out a green glass bottle filled with a dark red liquid. "LaCroix, may we remain in good spirit forever." The black label read in silver handwritten script:
"Merci beaucoup pour les mémoires.
Ton fils, Nicholas."
LaCroix knew by scent alone that the bottle's contents were fresh, healthy, and his son's. Since Nicholas had begun his "new life" he hadn't allowed LaCroix even a little taste of his blood, but now he was presenting him with an entire bottle of it. "Merci, Nicholas. I will savour this."
"Bon voyage, mon père." Return safely.
Having nothing else to talk about, the two parted company and LaCroix flew out the skylight into the night, returning to his residence. Once there, he put the bottle into a locked refrigerator so he could enjoy it later.
Since the night was young, he drove over to ask his daughter the same question. She always enjoyed a ride in his immaculate sports cars, no matter the decade. And he loved to drive them, even found them better than the chariots of his day. He pulled up to the carport, parked the car, and Janette let him in as soon as he walked the steps up to it.
"And that it is, mon père. Care for a drink?"
"Non, Merci." LaCroix said in admiration of Janette's hospitality. He and Nicholas were the only men to ever receive such kindness from the raven-haired Janette, each time she showed it was a statement of trust to them. "Ma fille, how would you like to go out for a drive? The night is clear and calm."
"Oui, it would be a pleasure. Let's go." Indeed, Janette did enjoy driving with LaCroix. He kept his vintage black vehicles in excellent shape, with the motors purring and growling nicely. Unlike the case with Nichola's convertibles, she never had her hair out of place after a midnight drive. And LaCroix piloted the streets, really drove like the fiend he was. All this and more Janette liked about LaCroix.
True to his image, LaCroix drove like a maniac. The police had long since given up trying to stop the car. "Black Jag Man," or so he was called among the night shift cops, had never caused a single crash. No one understood it, but so long as the people were safe, the police did not worry.
"So, LaCroix," Janette interjected after an hour's worth of driving, "To what may I owe your visit? Surely you have not come just to give me a tour of a city I already know."
"My dear, you know that I have never had need of a 'reason' to do anything. I have come and gone as I please for over two thousand years. But I do come to ask you the same question as I did Nicholas just this night."
"And that would be?"
"You know that two millennia ago I chose 'to live' rather than die an all-to-mortal death. And live I have, in so many places. Yet in all my globetrotting, I have yet to return to Pompeii, my home, if those of our kind have homes. I will be doing so this next month. I request your company.
Janette took a few minutes to think on the offer as she enjoyed the ride. She had always loved Italy, not as much as Paris, but it was second in line. It had always produced very fabulous dresses and the world's best bloodwine. And she almost always savoured the trips LaCroix would take her on, and this would be even better, as it was his homeland.
"Is Nichola going? You mentioned him." Despite his aggravating new fascination with morality and mortality, Nichola had always been a very good traveling partner. If he would attend, she could definitely join them.
"He has decided his new family comes before ours." LaCroix said bluntly.
" That is a shame." She thought for a few more minutes on the offer. She was very compelled to go, but she knew that if Nichola turned the offer down, then he must be in an awful sort of position in life. He would need her presence, as he had so many times before. She had made up her mind.
"LaCroix, it would be fantastic to join you. There is no one I would rather vacation with than you, for your accommodations are always superb, fit for the king you are. But Nichola would benefit from my presence; if his situation is so grave that he turns down this offer, then perhaps he would need the aid of someone in the Community. Who else better than I to be here to be here for him?"
LaCroix was seething. He began to drive more recklessly than before, but otherwise remained outwardly calm. Janette and Nicholas- the only two for whom he would even entertain ending his own immortality, could not be bothered with a month of their own? He understood their excuses, as he did have to deny his own master's wishes for the sake of his progeny. But these were the only two who could tell Lucien LaCroix "No." But because Janette had given up this opportunity for his son, he calmed a bit. Still angry, he stopped in a parking lot and bid Janette goodnight. She could fly herself home. As for him, he drove back to his dwelling.
Once LaCroix had gotten in the door, he drank down a bottle in hunger. He had calmed completely by the time he had downed the bottle. His thoughts went to Nicholas and his gift. He retrieved it from the refrigerator and one crystal goblet, and sat down in a leather settee. He had wanted to savour Nicholas' blood for very near a century, and now it was in his hands. Why not enjoy it today?
He gently removed the cork and closed his eyes at the scent that escaped from the bottle. It belonged to his son, that smell of sunlight and stars, pewter and shining gold. He loved it the first time he had been close to the noble crusader, and loved it to this day. What delight it was to savour it, this lovely ruby liquid. It was his favourite of all; of this there was no doubt.
He poured some into the goblet and swirled it as he had done a million times. The scent was intoxicating, but the vampire had made his case with extended fangs and red-hazed eyes. "Enough! It is time to take a sip, Lucius. Now, drink," the vampire demanded. "Very well," the man responded with a chortle.
He brought the goblet to his lips and drank the luscious liquid. All of his senses seemed to sing a chorus, each one joining the familiar tune. This was what made this life worth living; this was heaven for the immortal. Nothing else compared.
But there was a trouble to this paradise. Among Nicholas' memories, and nothing else was in the blood but that of his son, there was a memory he knew Nicholas did not have access to. In the blood he saw and experienced through the point of view of Nicholas, in every memory. But this was one from far before Nicholas' time.
It had been a very dark and stormy day, in an ancient city. He could hear jeers from a crowd, in a language he scarcely knew. He wore the clothes of a Roman centurion, and he saw on his hands the ring of his father. These weren't even Nicholas' hands! In his hand he held a leather whip, with pieces of sharp bronze laced in the strips. Before him was a convict in broken and torn olive skin. The crowd's jeers became even louder, clearly upset that he had paused in his duties. Even the other centurions were jeering in the Latin he knew all to well, demanding he proceed. All this was too much for him, and he was snapped out of the vision by the four chimes of the grandfather clock Nicholas had given him years ago on the commencement of his fatherhood.
He replaced the cork and stored the bottle and put away the glass. Then, he decided to go to bed, as surely this insanity must be driven by exhaustion of the night's activities. After all the driving and the mind control that came along with it, he needed rest. He went to his bedroom, prepared himself for bed, and fell asleep as the sun rose. As he slept, he did something he hadn't done in a century: dream.
He had been on the way home from a long day's worth of government affairs and some time at the forum. On walking in the anteroom of his villa, he raised his eyebrows in surprise to see Selene and her, their, if truth be told, daughter Divia. They appeared to be awaiting him in the atrium, and Divia ran up to greet him.
"Good evening, ladies. What brings you here this day?"
"It has been a year since we have seen you last, and Divia longed to see you. Divia, tell him what you have been learning about in your classes."
Divia began to tell him historical facts of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the gods, and excitedly wrote his and her name in the air, among other things.
"And Lucius, see how tall she has grown? Why, in the last year she has grown half a cubit." Selene said in hope that he would visit more often.
"Yes, General, I may be as tall as you are!"
He was not about to answer to any woman's unspoken request, even Selene's. "Well, I must retire. Good night."
LaCroix awoke suddenly, with a clear red mist on his forehead. He heard the clock chime six times. Had he really been asleep less than two hours? He fell asleep again and thankfully slept soundly the rest of the "night".
When he awoke the next evening, he made a call to a fine Roman hotel and made plans to spend the last bit of July there. He would leave that night, as clearly this place had grown far too hectic for him. He packed his own bags with the essentials and made sure one of the Community's jets were ready for his use. With his speed, he was at the airport at the same time the jet was ready.
The jet landed a few hours later and parked. As it was morning in Italy, he could not leave the plane until after sundown. Not a problem, as LaCroix would entertain himself with a game of chess against the on-board computer and later sleep some. Once he finally got into his hotel room, he immediately took to the skies.
No matter how old he became, flying around a city like Rome would never bore LaCroix. Despite he had no young progeny to chase; he flew around in the same manner. He saw how nicely the Romans had melded the new with the old. He listened to Italian voices arguing ideas just as he and his father had in the forums. And he lavished in the familiar smell of the place. It wasn't quite home, but it was very close to it. In any case, LaCroix would never, even in twenty millennia, tire of this peninsula.
In his flying he spotted an all too familiar place. Though now in ruins and nowhere near its original glory, he could easily picture it as it was. He spotted that the centre of it was clear, and, in a move that he would allow no vampire younger than himself to attempt, he landed right in the middle of that most grand of arenas, the Coliseum.
"Well, well, well. Tell me, father, how long has it been?" He spoke in familiar sarcasm. "A bit over two thousand years I suppose. You sired me and promptly left, at the order of Caesar. You were sent to the eastern colony with your troops to do the ordinary tasks. But come to find out, that most unusual of criminals needed to be put down, and you were the right man for the job. It is said that when he breathed his last, I breathed my first. When you said 'Surely he was the Son of God' were you being sarcastic, as always? Your granddaughter surely inherited your spirit. When I grew older, you took me to see the games in this very arena. Oh, and how fun they were! I loved to see the animals as a boy and cheered the gladiators as a youth, as all red-blooded Romans did. But had you lived on just a little longer, you would have stayed for an entirely different reason.
You would have cheered the death of each of those followers of that criminal. Why, I can almost hear the cheers that would have caused my face to flush. You never understood why they still professed in Him, even though they knew he was dead. How much irony that they would claim you doomed to walk the earth until his return! All fair and good, as I, Lucius Dominius Pompius, bearer of your nomens, do bear this most excellent of burdens. 'I have seen death, and I have called his bluff.' So, father, what do you think of your son? I hope I haven't made a mockery of your legacy. Then again, it is more my legacy than yours. Nevertheless, I give you my most genuine gratitude for all you have done. When you raised me to be a harsh man, you have shown me love. And should the Gods arrange it, may we meet again. Give my regards to mother."
When he finished his monologue to the night, he sensed the impending sunrise. He returned to his hotel room, and after a bit of bloodwine, retired for the day.
The remaining nights he set out to learn the state and culture of this present-day Rome and her country, to see what had changed and what had not. He was comforted to see that little had actually changed. Men all ages no longer gathered in public squares to converse about everything under the sun. The conversations were taken inside to classrooms and taverns, and sometimes included a near equal amount of women. The people had a bit of a different look, their skin just a little lighter in shade. The games of the arenas were replaced by the far tamer soccer, a difference his friend, Flavius, would have despised. He could only assume food had the same flavour and sunsets still held the same beauty, but he would never miss such things.
However, one thing surprised even him. Interested in his contemporaries, he sought out most powerful and prestigious of Pompeii. He had expected to find the people of said group to be of the usual celebrity, of politics or athleticism or land ownership or entertainment.
He had certainly not expected his contemporaries to be first-generation toymakers. The "Twin Toy Tycoons," or so the English-language media called them, had invented the world's first hovering recreational toy. Children could use the Hoverboard to surf the skies. According to his sources, only the rays of the burning sun would power it. "No doubt a 'suggestion' from some local community elder," LaCroix mused.
But what had really drawn LaCroix to the very mortal Marius and Marilena Ciariano wasn't any of this. Every source reported the twins' bond to be paranormally strong. They needed no devices to maintain communication between them, as everything the one thought or felt could be shared with the other. The bond that had caused trouble for them in childhood was transformed to help the new family business in unimaginable ways. Not that it was at all new to him, as he and Nicholas and Janette had shared such a connection always. But the twins did not want to admit the source of the bond. They admitted it was not their parents or some odd childhood accident that created the tie. LaCroix was determined to test the strength of the bond and to find its source. If mortals could have it, then Nicholas and Janette could learn of it and apply it to have even greater ties of their own to each other and to him.
His stay in Rome ended quickly, and soon he was in the villa in Pompeii. He spent much of the time leisurely touring his fair town from the ground and air. He revisited the spots where he had performed his governmental duties. He saw the location where he and Selene met. And he walked the streets, grinning at the thought of Divia showing off to her friends on the Hoverboard. And there it was again, that thought of the twins. "Enough of this mental torture, Lucien! You are beginning to act like Nicholas! Now, go and learn of the tie that binds them."
He was quite aware that the Hoverboard headquarters was closed during the day, so he penned a letter to each of them. He then arranged to have it delivered in the daytime to their secretary.
To Marius Ciariano and Marilena Ciariano,
Regards and greetings for this good day. I write to you as fellow Pompeian and businessman. I once held my own affairs in this beautiful town, but have since moved on. I found myself intrigued by your story of entrepreneurship in my return here, and should like to meet you sometime. Allow me the pleasure of dining with you on any evening you choose, anywhere you choose. I will be here for the remainder of this month, so time is somewhat of the essence. But I have all the time in the world.
The next day at their office, Marilena got the mail to see this strange letter that had no postmarks of any kind. She opened it and read it aloud, as it was addressed to both of them.
"Well, what do you think, Marius? Shall we go and humour the old man? Or vice versa?"
"I don't know. If it is like last time, when that guy wanted to buy the business on account of our being too young to run it, I'm not interested."
"Let's go anyway. After all, there must be some reason this LaCroix person was put in our path. 'No incidences in life,' or have you changed your mind?"
"Yes, it is true there is a purpose for everything, I'd just like to avoid getting hurt when possible. But, since you want to go so badly, I guess we can. I would like to know why some eccentric guy wants to meet us."
"Thanks. Let's meet him at the ball on the 17th, ok? That way we won't be in too much of a private setting."
"Sounds good to me. I'll touch base with him later. Let me have the letter and envelope."
To Mr. Lucien LaCroix,
My sister and I are grateful for your proposition. It is certainly kind of you. We would like to meet you at the ball downtown this 17th. Surely you are aware of it. May you continue to enjoy your homecoming.
The next night, LaCroix read the letter before he left for a few activities. He was happy about the acceptance of his invitation, another lesson apparently lost on his children. "Perhaps I should like to spend more time with these two." He penned a letter to them accepting their choice of location and date.
At the office, Marius called a few of his professors from his business alma mater and asked if they had ever heard of a Lucien LaCroix from Pompeii. He had always played the protector role for himself and his sister, and later on, the business. He wanted to make sure no one hurt them, and he could relax a little if he knew Mr. LaCroix was in good standing. But his research only made him more suspicious, because the mystery man had no standing whatsoever. Not one of his professors could remember a Lucien LaCroix at all, and they were always more than willing for a conversation about the heyday of their ventures. Marius wanted to cancel the meeting, but only went on due to the thought of bringing it up with Marilena.
At sunset on the seventeenth, LaCroix heard a knock on the door. He quickly drank some of the red liquid as to not consume the mortal that woke him on the other side. He answered the door to see a deliveryman on the other side holding a couple of small packages and a note tied together. He asked the lad to place it on the table by the door, and he signed for it standing well within the foyer. The youth left not a second too late, and LaCroix read the note.
To Mr. Lucien LaCroix,
I again thank you for your kind invitation. I have included two gifts I would like you to wear tonight to the ball so that Marius and I will know who you are. I hope you find them to your liking. See you soon.
The first package included a tie made of fine silk, in a dark red that sparkled in the light. The second had a boutonniere of small roses of a stained white hue. This made him remember Fleur, but he quickly repressed that memory. Tonight was not to be depressing.
He dressed for the evening in an all-black designer suit that fit him perfectly. He saw to it that his platinum hair was not out of place. He then filled two silver flasks with some blood, and slipped these into the inner pockets of his suit jacket. Seeing that he was ready otherwise, he put the tie and boutonniere in the outside pockets, as he wanted to have some anonymity initially. He would humour the young lady, but he was to have the upper hand. He then set out to the ball.
Marius and Marilena prepared much in the same way after closing the offices. Most of the more famous and wealthy went to the ball, which was to begin the city's festivities of two thousand years after the eruption of Vesuvius. The Ciariano twins were to be no exception in attendance. This was to be an unforgettable night.
The twins entered the nicely decorated ballroom about ten minutes before LaCroix. The ballroom was a dedication to Pompeii's rich and lengthy history. The twenty-nine tables were decorated to the theme of one century, from the eighth century BC to the AD twenty-first. As luck would have it, Marius, Marilena, and their guest LaCroix were assigned to the first-century table. Marilena insisted upon sitting next to him, despite her brother's protests. Marius went to dance but Marilena waited to look for their guest.
LaCroix entered and gave his name to the maitre d' at the door, who gave him his table reservation. He went inside and was pleased with the tasteful decorations. He noted the portrait busts of historical figures, and was thankful his was not there. He wondered how the room full of mortals would react to the presence of someone who had been present at the most infamous event of the city's timeline. But they would never know. He saw Marilena sitting at the table and Marius dancing among the crowd. He waited until they were both at the table to put the tie and boutonniere on, out of sight of course. He then approached the table.
"Buona sera, Marilena. Buona sera, Marius." LaCroix said. He noted their appearances. Marius was six feet and three inches tall with a bit of a slender build. His eyes were as blue as Nicholas', almost the same size as well. He had brown hair with chestnut streaks, as did Marilena. He wore an evening suit with a tie to match his eye colour. Marilena stood at about five feet six inches high and had a slender but not malnourished stature. She had a pale olive tint to her skin; her brother's complexion was just a bit darker. Her dress was a dark emerald green and appeared tailor made for her. But her eyes struck LaCroix momentarily. They were carbon copies of Fleur's, in size, shape, and colour. Both siblings were even more beautiful in person than in the pictures he saw with the articles.
"Good evening to you too, Mr. LaCroix. It is our pleasure to meet you at last." Marius said. He noted with some inward suspicion LaCroix's apparent age. The "old man" was only in his forties.
"The pleasure is all mine. You may call me LaCroix. No title needed. May I call you Marius and Marilena?"
They both nodded in approval, as they preferred their first names in all situations. "In your letter you spoke about having a business here in Pompeii. What sort was it, if you do not mind my asking?" Marilena asked.
"I do not mind at all. When I wrote of my affairs, I was meaning my political offices. I had a few governmental duties in my younger days, small things no one would remember. I also helped in military work, again, nothing that anyone would know of. I have not been in Pompeii for a long time; it is good to be home."
"Oh, I see. I'll bet that you might know some people here, then. We know a lot of people in attendance tonight, through our little business, among other things."
LaCroix smiled at Marilena's comment. The only "people" he would know are the portrait busts lining the walls. "That I may, dear lady. So, tell me your story. How was it that you came up with this toy? Even in all my years I would not have imagined Pompeii's finest to be toymakers."
"We were inspired by our own childhood. It was a toy we wanted to have, but by the time we had a working prototype, we had two years to go until college. So we decided to go into business and sell our little product. It became so successful that we almost quit school. Now we are asked to speak at colleges all across Italy because we held to school even though we did not need it." Marilena told him factually.
"I am impressed. I have heard rumours of a special bond between you. Am I to assume they are true?"
"This is a difficult question you ask. Due to some… trials we have had, we have become much closer than a typical set of twins. It is a very mixed blessing. This is part of the reason we have not married. If you would like to know more about it, you will have to get to know us far better." Marius added, as to keep the stranger before them from prying any further.
"I see. I do not mean to meddle. I admire the two of you. I should be proud to call you my children."
After seeing that the matter would be okay to talk about through their shared link, Marilena informed him about it. "We find this issue a bit painful, I admit. Our parents raised us well. They were so attentive of us, and we were the only children of the family. They made sure we ate our vegetables and did our homework and washed up for dinner and prayed daily. They were the best parents anyone could ever hope for, you know? But on our last day of primary school, everything changed. We volunteered a lot at the school, so it was natural that we stayed after school to help get it ready for our graduation to secondary school. There we were, in our Sunday best and little cap and gown. They never showed up, and after we got our 'diplomas' we found out why. They had been killed in a car accident getting there. We had to rely on only each other, we were one of the few small families in all of Italy, and had no cousins or aunts or uncles or grandparents. The teachers liked us, and did all they could to support us. But Papa and Mama were irreplaceable. A couple of our teachers were married, but had no kids. They went through all the rigmarole of adopting us, but they could only afford to feed and clothe us. Anything else was up to us. We worked harder than ever on our device, and got it patented by our secondary school graduation. But our teachers taught us a lesson more valuable than anything we learned in school. They taught us about a parent that would always love us forever. We learned to put our faith in this God, that the blood of His Son would bring eternal life. When we did, we received this 'mixed blessing.' We can't be sure where it came from, but our guess is that when we finally gave up control of our lives and trusted God completely, He gave it to us."
Marilena blotted her eyes with her kerchief, and Marius, the more staid one, was visibly stirred as well. Even the cold and solid heart of the master vampire LaCroix and ex-General Lucius kept a steady but slow beat, much to his own astonishment. "I'm sorry. We normally don't tell that even to our closest friends. Our secretary doesn't even know it. I don't know why I just told you, virtually a stranger. But there must be some good reason." She said with a warm half-smile.
"It is I who must apologize. I am so sorry that you went through all of that." And for once in his two millennia, he actually meant what he said. The three had an awkward moment. LaCroix, in a very uncharacteristic move, asked if they would like anything to drink. They both did, and he went to get them their beverages. He gave them their choices and excused himself to the facilities. While there, he tried to calm his heart, which was still beating. It was only two to three beats per minute, but that was a racing pulse for him. In somewhat of a desperate move, he took out one flask and drank down all of it. But that only filled his stomach; it had no effect on his heart. "What is going on, Lucien! Now you are really starting to behave like Nicholas! 'Like father, like son' not the other way around!" He snapped at himself. He decided to go back to the ballroom.
A song with a medium pace was put on by the deejay. "Marilena, if you would like to dance, please let me know. But it is up to you."
"Sure, why not?"
They got on the dance floor and joined up to dance. She noticed his hands were a bit chilly, but chalked it up to a cold bathroom. He tried to not stare in her eyes too much, as to not upset her or her protective brother. They were pleased that the other knew how to dance quite well. Then, Marius cut in, and he and his sister danced as Nicholas and Janette had so many times. After they were done, LaCroix met them back at the table.
"Well, I am afraid I must leave now. I also have a special affliction, but to sunlight. It plays havoc on my flesh, I admit. Here are cards with my information, I hope to continue this conversation." After reading them, the twins shared a knowing smile. LaCroix raised an eyebrow.
"What a find! This was our original address." Marius confessed after a beat.
"Very nice. Marilena, thank you for sending the tie and boutonniere, it was very kind." She let her brother know why she sent it through their link.
He left the building and flew home. The next afternoon, he awoke to the doorbell ringing again. He must have gained some new type of fame. He tried to ignore it, as whoever was on the other side of the door could be ignored. But the doorbell rang even more. "Ah, persistence pays off." He put on a heavy robe and drank some of his supply, as to not kill his solicitor –no- solicitors.
The twins frantically ran in as soon as he opened the door. "Do you normally behave this way? Or just in your old stomping grounds?" he asked.
"No, sir. There have been terrible reports on the news. Vesuvius is going to erupt again, just like last time, and soon! Everyone is leaving town, if we leave right away we can make it! We found a way for you to escape and not be burned." They both simultaneously told him.
Thinking he was at the wrong end of a practical joke, he asked them to calm down and quit behaving like children. That is, until he saw the television on the wall. Reporters were talking in front of an all too familiar picture of Vesuvius, with ash all around. Then, LaCroix began to do something he hadn't in two millennia at all: panic. His life was about to be cut short again, by that same mount. As he was cursing the gods in the Latin he knew, Marius' voice cut in.
"LaCroix, believe me, no story figures will save you now. Only the Living God will help you, and He is doing so this moment through us. So hurry up, let's go!"
"You think that fable will help you now? People are not as they seem." He let his fangs descend and his eyes gain just a hint of amber, and allowed the twins to see his face. "My father, on the day I was born, scourged and crucified that criminal you worship. If he had lived, my father would have lost his life for not doing his job. I was present at the last eruption of that cursed mountain, and was made into this the last time. You are such foolish children to think he would help me, even if he existed! Vesuvius is reclaiming me, reclaiming this city with vigour. And let her have both."
"No! My brother is right! The same God that gave us life when we were going to give ourselves to the volcano in our despair, the same God that released your father from his sin, and your father did know the identity of Christ, the same God that released Paul from imprisonment by authorities and by sin can release you! You want to die after living more history than anyone I've ever met? Go ahead! But I will not let it happen without your hearing this: The same God Who pardoned all sin two thousand years ago can pardon you from this death and eternal death in Hell. Just put your faith in Him and take that last leap into His arms. But it's up to you to live or to die."
At that, LaCroix's eyes turned white. He could see nothing, and he felt this intense light close around him. He heard a voice, ten times more vivid than any memory etched in his brain or any blood tell him "Lucius, Lucius! What my servants tell you is true. Go with them now." His heart raced to a mortal pace, sixty, seventy beats per minute, and his head spun and reeled. His tight grasp of life, as he knew it, was loosening, and he finally let go. He yelled with all his lungs' might; "I want to live! I surrender to You, God!" and promptly passed out. The twins put him in the sun proof body bag, and then Marius put him in the back of their business' delivery van as Marilena grabbed some of the bottles, which she hoped contained blood, in the refrigerator. Marilena drove out of the city as Marius stayed in the back with him.
Once they got far enough inland, and out of the way of the volcano's eruption, they stopped by the side of the road. Marius made sure to not open the body bag to not burn LaCroix. Marilena put paper on the side and back windows and put the sun visor in the windshield. Then they opened the body bag to see that he was okay. Marius had a bottle open and waiting so the vampire would, hopefully, go to it instead of them. He awoke with full memory of what just occurred. He asked "Why all this trouble? Why do you care to save what should be killed? And where are we?
"Because, LaCroix, God has cared to save us. You think it was coincidence that you came back here and stayed in our house before meeting us? Not at all! God would not allow us to escape until we came after you. Moreover, it is even more exciting to witness someone coming to know Christ. We parked a little outside the perimeter of the eruption, on the road to Rome. It is still daylight, but sunset is in an hour. So, you now know that He Is Who He said He Is?
"Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour from sin, you mean? Yes, He Is all that and more."
And that without him, you are, we all are, doomed to Hell?
"Yes, I do believe that. At last, I am free, I have never felt so alive."
"Praise Him!" The twins exalted. "Would you feel comfortable getting baptized? There is a river nearby.
"Yes, yes I will. I need to contact Nicholas, my son, a Christian, and let him know of my transformation. I need to let him know that I have been surprised by Joy.