Disclaimer: I do not make any money with this. It's a FANFIC, for cryin' out loud! I own nada. The good people at WhiteWolf and Troika do. Unfortunately, they didn't make any money with this either.

First things first: if you're reading this, you're awesome! Period.

If you see fit to drop me a line, your awesome beyond words.

This is the first piece of writing I did in a long, long, looong time. Since I'd like to get better at it, I would appreciate your collective advice very much. Same goes for advice on grammar and spelling. English is not my first language and I'd like to improve at that too.

Anyway, early drafts of this have been sitting in my document's folder since my first play-through of VTM:BL. I always wondered how you go about chaining up a powerful and paranoid Malkavian Primogen, who expects an attempt on his un-life!

Basically, this chapter is a teaser. At a rough estimation, Saving Graces will amount to three or four chapters, all in all. These will contain: lots of yaking, hardly any action but some gore and adult content later on. Consider yourself warned!

Thank you very, very much for reading!

Claqueur


Saving Graces

The Last Night

Standing on the tower-walk, his gaze reached as far as the sea. He could almost hear the gushing of its restless movement.

He could certainly hear the endless din of the city. It spread out before his feet, glittering like a vaudeville dancer's veil, cast to the ground, to reveal her cheap, fleshly charms.

What a blinking, rushing, screeching absurdity had this city become, over what? The last six, seven decades?

Resting his long, blue veined hands on the walk's banister, Alistair Grout lent heavily down on the carved stone. His narrow back was bowed in a perfect arch, like a willow tree under heavy, killing snow, bent almost to breaking point. Thick strands of stiff, iron gray hair fell over his brow and hid the abysmal sight of Los Angeles by night.

'Was it enough?'

He had done everything in his considerable power, both supernatural and mundane, to ensure his home had – indeed – been transformed into an impenetrable castle. These past nights, since he had become certain that the Prince sought his final death, had been filled with fever pitch activity. Old favors were called due at the downtown chantry, loose ends within the city gathered up and cauterized, supernatural alerts and defenses set all over his haven and finally: all contact to the Kindred world - cut.

And yet – was it - could it be – enough? With the last trap set, the last little mind game in motion, doubt had started to consume him. The moment when there had been nothing more he could do, the voices had subsided.

They never left him completely these days, though; he could still hear them, echoing softly through the corridors, nagging, drowned out to intelligibility by his subjects constant moaning and gibbering. Useless wretches.

'Was it enough?' A slow, rippling shudder racked his elegant, bony limbs.

When he had first met the Prince, he had spared the man little thought, truth be told. The vampiric equivalent of a ruthless social climber, a corporate Bonaparte, a Kindred conquistador – nothing Grout had not seen in countless guises, over the course of the last hundred and forty years of his adult live. Powerful? Yes, no doubt, but not someone to concern him much, their interests just too different.

What a fool he'd been.

The tunnel's entrance lies below the roots of a twisted old willow tree, half-dead with rot. Through its draping branches, still in the damp and motionless night air, stars can be seen, few and far between, weakened by a fine mist, high above the hills.

A house can be seen, too, on the crest of the foothill. It stands alone, beautiful and aged. Solitary windows light up with amber glow from time to time, only to fall dark once again. Sometimes, a shadow twitches past.

The tree's roots, covered in mold and lichen, droop over the tunnel's mouth, which borrows into the hillside, almost hiding it from view. That earth-clotted maw is pitch black and narrow. Its breath reeks of stale, damp earth and putrid things, like the grave.

A man, be his body emaciated but his mind strong enough - his soul past human fears like that of suffocating dark and throttling earth - might just be able to squirm, crawl on his stomach like a borrowing animal, down that tunnel and up, pushing past those moldy limbs.

Writhing out of the earth, as a worm from an apple, howling wordless, mindless pain at the havens.

Something might wriggle – maggot-like - into that mouth and slide along the crumbling tube, deep into the hill, up to that house.

Something does.