St Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, LA
A contrasting mix of angelic statues, gargoyles and religious idols adorned row after row of the above ground tombs. It truly was a "city of the dead" with stone crypts that looked like rows of houses complete with their own surrounding fences. Many of the tombs now cracked and dilapidated after years of flooding and erosion. In the daylight, Elijah might have appreciated the odd mix of crypt architecture more but under the shadow of night, it just seemed incredibly lonely.
"Ahh, here we are." Klaus had stopped in front of a small Greek Revival structure. His hands resting on his hips as he stared at the old tomb.
How he managed to still sound smug, Elijah didn't know. Stoically, he read the markings on the grave, his lip turning upward in mild amusement.
"Marie Laveau? That's a little cliché even for you, don't you think?"
"Really?" Klaus cocked an eyebrow. "Because I always thought it was morbidly ironic…storing them in the tomb of the famous Voodoo queen…now that makes a statement." He boasted.
Elijah grimaced. "And what of Ms. Laveau? Does she still reside here as well?" He made a half hearted gesture towards the tomb suppressing the urge to cringe at the thought of disturbing the Creole Voodoo Priestess' eternal rest.
Klaus chuckled. "In a manner of speaking." He leaned back on his heels and cast his brother a sideways glance. "So, since you have no need of me…I'll just be on my way."
"Not so fast. " Elijah's hand snaked out immediately grasping Klaus by the wrist. "I'm not quite done with you yet."
"I showed you where they are." Klaus stated indignantly.
"You say it like you had a choice in the matter. Now, open it." Elijah ordered.
"You have no idea what you will be unleashing" Klaus seethed. "I don't want to be anywhere near here when you do." He wanted to be far, far away, especially when Elijah started removing daggers. He had plans and being his brothers and sisters first meal after centuries was not one of them.
"I know you, Klaus…too well, not to believe you may have trapped it in some way. So forgive me if I don't trust you. Now open it…then we will discuss your release."
"So after all this, you still intend to let me go?" Klaus asked, his tone filled with wry amusement. "One would beg the question, why? You cannot still feel brotherly towards me, not after all I've done to try to destroy you."
Elijah contemplated briefly the answer before turning a blazing eye at the one he had once called brother. "You are right. I don't feel anything towards you that even remotely resembles anything familial." He shrugged dispassionately. "You want to know why I won't kill you and the answer should be obvious. For your entire existence you were filled with nothing but contempt for a species you always considered inferior in every way. Now you are one of them...again. You will suffer all those human frailties…the illnesses…the limitations…the emotions you considered weak and so gleefully scorned. Consider it poetic justice and a fitting punishment. You are a human, Klaus and you can never be changed back."
Elijah took in Klaus's groused expression and lifted one brow as if to say "you asked".
Klaus in the meantime was digesting, assessing and deliberating. If what Elijah implied was true…he was well and truly fucked. But Klaus was not one to give up. If there was a way, he would find it. He would not be a prisoner to humanity. He would not allow it. Then he would take great delight in punishing all those responsible for his failure…and he knew where he would start.
"Perhaps I'd rather die." Klaus retorted.
Elijah gave a gallic shrug. "That is of course entirely up to you. Now, I do believe you are stalling."
His patience had reached his limit and Klaus knew that he had to do what Elijah asked. He had no desire to be compelled again. It was a disturbing feeling to be aware that you were doing things and saying things that were beyond your control…a puppet whose strings were being manipulated by the puppeteer.
"Let's get this over with then, shall we?" Klaus kneeled by the tomb and using a nearby sharp rock, he started digging around the stone. "A little assistance would be nice." He muttered under his breath, frowning at the dirt seeping under his nails.
"Fine." Elijah threw up his hands in exasperation and crouched down, swiftly removing large chunks of earth.
"That should do it." Klaus felt around on the side of the tomb they just unearthed until he found it. He looked up at Elijah. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Elijah growled low and menacing as an answer.
"Alrighty then. Here we go." His fingers reached in a pulled a hidden lever causing the bottom part of the vault to groan agonizingly before sliding upwards into itself to reveal a dark uneven gray stone staircase.
"An underground tunnel?" Elijah inquired as he peered through the opening.
"Catacombs actually." Klaus said conversationally. "Some do still exist as this one. Most, however, have long since flooded. " He added as he inhaled the damp musty air that wafted up through the dark.
"After you." Elijah ordered with a wave of his hand.
"In case you haven't noticed it's dark as pitch and my eyes aren't what they used to be."
Elijah emitted a frustrated groan and fished in his pocket for his phone. "Here." He shoved it onto Klaus' outstretched hand. "Use my cell."
Klaus thrust his hand in the opening, swiping at the thick blanket of cobwebs before taking his first step down. "God, it smells ripe, doesn't it?" His voice echoed up to Elijah after his head disappeared into the darkness.
He followed him down, indeed noticing the odor that made his lips curl in disgust. Wet rot and decay. He knew it well. Under the sound of Klaus' footfalls he heard another sound…squeaking and scattering. Rats and lots of them...fat bloated water rats.
When Elijah hit bottom, Klaus had already lit a torch and put it back into the holder on the wall. It cast the cavernous room in an eerie glow. His eyes immediately fell on the closed caskets strewn about in no particular order. He recognized the family crest on each one. four, there should have been five.
"Father…your father, I should say…well he didn't quite make the cut." Klaus grinned evilly.
Elijah felt an inexplicable rage encompass him but he tempered it down. Klaus knew he had gotten to him…hit a nerve as he intended. Oh, dear brother covered it quickly enough but he did see the murderous glint in his eye albeit only briefly.
"You may do the honors and open them." Elijah ordered.
Klaus gulped, his maniacal glee stamped out and now it was Elijah's turn to grin.
"Finn." Klaus began as he quickly opened the coffins, calling out each name one by one. "Rolf…Erik…I found them, united them and watched them turn against me…ungrateful whelps." He sneered.
Forcing casualness, Klaus stroked the last coffin in a caress. "Rebekah." He said looking at Elijah as he pried it open and looked at the gray, cracked body within, dressed elegantly like an elite flapper girl. "She stayed with me for many years." He said lovingly before he scowled. "Until her loyalties became blurred. Stupid, impetuous girl." He hissed at the corpse before looking at his brother once more. "That's it then. Resurrect at your own risk."
Elijah didn't stop his as Klaus began his ascent up the steps nor did he try to stop him when he heard him close the stone slab opening of the tomb. He just stared quietly around the room at the bodies of his dead siblings.
The quaint but campy pink tea cup signage that hung over the entrance of the small French Quarter shop had always made Klaus chuckle. Tourists flocked at both here ,Mystic Tea Leaves and Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo looking novelty "gris-gris" and other items of similar nature. It was all fake, of course. The Voodoo priestesses he knew would never put real power in the hands of a frivolous human visitor. The items that were sold to the public here were made of common household herbs found in any kitchen or garden. Even high priestesses had bills to pay.
But having walked through this door many times, he was no tourist. The bell over the door jingled annoyingly as he opened it. The smells of incense burning surrounded him as he entered the atmospheric dimly lit shop. A few female patrons eyed him speculatively and he raised his brow at them and made a motion as if tipping his hat, though he wasn't wearing one. "Ladies." He demurred with a slight bow of his head.
They giggled and continued to talk amongst themselves about love potions or some equally useless rot.
"I'll be right with you." Klaus heard Nathalie's smooth honey voice call out from the back. As he perused the shelves with in, his peripheral vision caught sight of her walking towards the girls with small, multicolored pouches in her hands. "I mixed these special just for you." She began handing out the bags to the naïve if not overly enthusiastic bunch before she actually laid eyes on him.
Eyes widening in brief alarm, she dispensed with the items in her hands with more speed. "No charge." She added briskly. "Now you must leave. I am closing."
"But…"One of the girls said.
"Please." Nathalie urged as she ushered them past him and outside. Locking the door behind him and putting the closed sign on the window, she turned to him, smoothing her skirts before looking him right in the eye. "Klaus."
"Nathalie." He let her eyes roam over her supine form, taking in the still youthful caramel colored face. "As beautiful as ever." He glided forward and kissed the back of her hand.
She pulled it back quickly and tucked it behind her back. "To what do I owe this displeasure?" She scowled at him.
"I need your assistance." He said smoothly.
"Ha! After what you did to my last employee, Chere'?" She said as she shouldered past him. "Do you know how hard it is to find help that can be discreet?"
"In my defense she was very delicious, if I recall. Rather hard to resist blood like that." He smacked his lips.
It wasn't until then that she really saw him. Nathalie's brows drew together in confusion and tapped her finger against her chin. "There is something different about you, cher"
"Can you not tell?" He inquired in amusement and turned in a circle with his arms held out from his sides until he faced her again. "I'm human." He said with an undisguised sneer.
Nathalie couldn't help it. She laughed…raucously until she saw the expression on his face. Then she stopped, her face turning disbelieving. Unable to help herself, she came before him and placed her hand against his heart and then to his carotid artery, feeling a gentle thrumming beneath her fingers. "You're serious."
"Quite." He said drily.
"As you can see, it's really not."
She nodded. "Let's go above stairs and you can explain."
This is where the real magic was, Klaus thought as they entered her home above the store. Unlike her shop downstairs where every surface inch was covered with everything mystical and magical, her apartment was plain and comfortable and as some would say, modern. He knew she hid the "real" stuff here, safely locked and sealed with hexes that were nearly impenetrable. He knew. He had tried once with very painful results.
Nathalie poured them both a glass of port and gestured for him to sit down. She chose to sit opposite him on her favorite chair. Even as a human, she didn't quite trust him. Kicking off her heels, she tucked her bare feet under her legs.
"So tell me, how did one of the most powerful vampires of my acquaintance finally manage to be rendered impotent?" She asked in a droll manner, her crimson painted lips tilted in amusement.
Klaus' lips curled in distaste at her vocabulary choice but knowing he had to rely on her help, he kept silent. He gave her a general overview of what happened. His voice was bitterly scathing as he mentioned the prophecy, the doppelganger and the girl whose blood cursed him with humanity. The more he spoke about it the angrier he became but Nathalie had no fear.
"The prophecy was true then?" Nathalie asked. "I admit, I thought it might be fiction… superstition…you pick."
"You knew about it?"
"Only the barest of details, I assure you." She dismissed the question with a wave of her hand. "What I don't know is what you want from me."
"Isn't it obvious? I want to be changed back. I don't want to be a cursed human."
Nathalie laughed bitterly. "A cursed human? You really do have things ass backward, don't you? Do you know how many nocturnes I know that would give anything and everything they have to be human again? To walk in sunlight, to not be a slave to blood, to not have to watch as the humans they come to love grow old and die while they stay stagnant and destined to be alone?"
"Blah, blah, blah" He mumbled. "Enough with the lecture. Can you do it?"
Nathalie placed her glass on the glass table beside her before leaning closer to Klaus, peering at him through the narrowed slits of her eyes. "No." She said before she sat back again. "What little I do know of the prophecy is that it cannot be reversed…ever."
"Aaagghh!" Klaus slammed his hand down on the black leather couch in frustration. "There must be something."
""I'm sorry." She said but the apology was insincere. "I can't help you."
"Can't or won't"
"Perhaps a bit of both."
In a fit of rage, Klaus got up and paced the room wanting nothing more than to strangle the dark haired woman. She was his last hope…his only hope. He needed leverage. Swiftly turning to face her once more, sneering at her smug countenance.
"My brother is in New Orleans." He told her.
"So." She shrugged. "Elijah has always been more honorable than you."
"That may be so. But do you know what he is doing at this moment?"
"No but I suppose you're going to tell me."
"He's going to revive the family." Klaus nodded at the horrified expression on her face; glad to finally have gotten through to her. "Oh yes. Could you imagine…four more like me…thoroughly starved…angry…bitter…right here in New Orleans? Do I have your attention now, my pet?"
Nathalie thought for a moment. "There may be a way to cheat it…a loop hole as it were."
"Ahh, you see. " He sighed in relief.
"But." She added, her tone issuing a warning. "As with all things magic, Cherie, it will exact a price."
"I'll pay anything."
Nathalie stood up and held her hand out to him. "Come then. "
She led him to an intricate wood carved door, one that didn't fit with the rest of her décor. With a few whispered words the door opened on it's own revealing a small room, more of an alcove really. Shelves were lined with herbs and various mystical ornaments hung from the ceiling.
Diligently, Nathalie took various herbs from their dispensers and crushed them together with her mortar and pestle before placing it into a tea infuser. She boiled distilled water on the small hotplate and poured it into a ceramic cup and placed the tea infuser inside letting it steep.
Klaus raised an elegant brow. "Tea leaves? Really?" He asked dubiously.
"Not just any tea leaves." When she was satisfied with the mixture, she handed him the cup. "Now drink and think of your greatest desire."
For Klaus, that was easy. His greatest desire had been forefront on his mind since he woke up in that dilapidated shack in Romania. His face soured as he smelled the harsh liquid and drank, hoping she hadn't just poisoned him.
"God, that tasted abominable." He complained as he handed her back the cup and wiped the corners of his lips.
Her expression was amused as she sat down, rotating the cup, peering into it, waiting for the vision to overtake her.
"You have revenge in your heart." She shot him an accusing look over the rim of the cup. "It is a poison that runs through your veins stronger than any blood. Sating this lust for vengeance is all you desire."
"Tell me something I don't know."
Nathalie scowled at him and looked at the placement of the leaves once more. "I see a woman…the color of alabaster and fire. She is like how you were…but not exactly. To be close to what you once were, you'd have to be like her." Nathalie's brows furrowed in confusion. "She is learning, gaining experience…plotting her ultimate revenge. Like you."
Sounds like the woman of my dreams, he thought silently waiting for the priestess to continue.
"She will need someone to help her achieve her goal." She looked up at Klaus. "That someone will be you."
Klaus leaned forward in his seat, rubbing his hands together in gleeful anticipation. "Where is she? Where can I find her?"
"I see long stretches of dirt plains and cactus…steers and tumbleweeds." She looked up at him and frowned. "Texas. She is in Texas."
"Why the long face, lovey?" Klaus asked her. "You've done beautifully."
Nathalie placed a warning hand on his arm. "I know of the group there. They are dangerous women. They may not even let you live after they first scent you. If you do, you must not cross them. Have a care, Klaus. This is a perilous game you play"
"How sweet." He gave her a leering grin. "You're worried about me." He went to cup her cheek but she grabbed his wrist before he could make contact.
"Don't" she hissed the warning before standing up regally. "I worry for the hell you will be helping to unleash. Now let's discuss payment."