The Raven

Janette scanned the crowed at the Raven with a jaundiced eye. There seemed to be the same mix of vampires and mortals, nothing new or exciting. She sipped her blood and wine, bored with the music and press of people. "Toronto is so bourgeois" she thought to herself, grimacing at the test of cold blood. "Paris is so beautiful. How I wish Nicola and I were there again.." Suddenly a wave of fear poured over her. An old one, a vampire of extreme age had entered her establishment and had wanted her to know it. Looking up, she saw that both Alma and Miklos also had felt the presence. She scanned the crowd again, looking for a face that had not been there before. It wasn't long before she saw...Him.

He sat at a table in the farthest corner of the bar, engulfed in shadows. The table he had chosen was the only one in the club which would give its occupant a clear view of entrances to both the street and the back rooms. What little she could see of him didn't identify him to her. Not that she would know every ancient one of their kind. Not even LaCroix knew them all. But surely she would have been warned about one this old. Her master had taken positive delight in regaling both of his children with stories of fledglings who had spoken harshly to some seemingly helpless fellow vampire, only to discover themselves on the menu for some ancient creature's dinner. Miklos offered her a glass and a bottle of her best "house" brand, glancing at the unmoving figure warily. She took the bottle from her bartender with a grim smile and brought it to her guest herself. She knew she dare not trust Alma to service him, at least not right now. The younger vampire was so shaken by the waves of age and death that he had sent ahead of him that she might drop the bottle in his lap and get them all killed in the process.

"Bon Nuit, petite." the deep voice purred from the shadows greeted her approach with an amused air. "How is Lucien's little daughter?"

"I fear you have the advantage of me, sir. You know me yet I do not know you." she set the glass and bottle on the table in front of him and looked up into his face. Recognition almost caused her to leap away in fear.

The face opposite from her was lean, fine boned, almost skull like. A beard and mustache hid the thin lips and sharp teeth. Long, dark hair streaked with grey hung lankly around his face. The eyes were gray and fathomless. He was dressed for the road, in what might be described as "Biker" attire, with a long duster over jeans and a leather vest. Someone, probably an Enforcer with a background in the Old West, had described this being as looking as if he had been rode hard and put up wet. His eyes were cold and unblinking, like the eyes of a snake before it strikes. There was no mistaking this face. It was Siddig al Kahn, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of the vampire community. Kahn was legendary among the community. It was said his mother was a witch, and that her powers stayed with him even when he was brought across, though no one would ever dare to confirm that. Old enough he could call LaCroix "Child" and be accurate. He was a lone hunter and feared even among his kind. It was said that even the Enforcers were wary of dealing with him, even as they went to him with problems in the community. Some even said that he was Lord of the Enforcers, the only master the vampire community's watchdogs would obey.

"My Lord, you honor me with your prescence in my humble establishment" Janette frantically looked back at the entrance to the nightclub. Please she thought, Let this be the one night that Nichola does not come to speak to me. She clenched her hands behind her back as she watched the ancient one pour himself a drink. "Is there something I may do for you, my Lord? Are you here for business or pleasure?" She flashed him a strained smile and backed up a pace, hoping her fear wasn't as obvious to him as it was to her. She had a sick feeling it probably was.

"Don't be so nervous, petite. " Kahn replied, reading her thoughts as easily as if they had been words on page. "I'm not here to judge your pretty friend. Now what was his name? Oh, yes, Nicholas -the one with a humanity complex. Why should I care if he wants to be mortal. The Enforcers will see to it that he doesn't survive that state long. Let him try. It at least keeps him out of mischief. No, I'm here to meet a friend. A very special friend. A very lovely blond with silver eyes. She will be wearing my mark, the ankh. You will bring her to me when she arrives, won't you?" Janette sensed that the last statement was a command, not a question, and nodded, backing away towards the bar.

Kahn laughed to himself, enjoying the fear he caused in LaCroix's child. "Lucien, you have such a way with fledglings. You have the poor thing totally convinced I'm the Devil. Well, let her believe it, for as long as it suits my purposes." He tasted the blood Jannette had served him and grimaced. "Cold. I will never get use to drinking this cold." He looked across the club in time to see the one he was waiting for enter and approach Janette at the bar then move to his table. Kahn smiled warmly into Alice Morgan's gray eyes, which were filled with amusement.

"What did you do to the owner of the bar, old man? She almost jumped out of her skin when I asked if you were here." Alice removed her suit jacket before she slid into the seat next to the ancient vampire. He handed her his glass, daring her with his eyes to take a drink." Very funny. Now order me something that's not going to make me throw up all night." The bar rang with his rich laughter as he ordered his friend her drink.

Two scotch and sodas later, Alice was ready to talk about her new case. "It the same pattern here as it was in Seattle, New York and D.C. I think he's getting into the police files to find his potential victims. He's getting off on the publicity as well as the feeling of power. But how and why in so many different cities is driving me crazy. By the way, why are you here? You don't usually have much interest in my cases. It's not one of the community is it? I'm not sure I could hide the evidence in Toronto like I could if the case were still in the States."

"No child, I'm here because our mutual friend Alex is in town and is pinning to see you." Kahn saw the shadow pass over Alice's face before she could hide it. Alice and Alex, "the twins" as he thought of them, were as dear to him as if they were his own fledglings and to see them so hurt pained him. 'I know that Virginia is still between you, but he can not help still hearing her voice. She was his fledgling. She will always be a part of him."

"I know that, Kahn. The fact of Virginia's existence is not what separated us, it's that he chose to distance himself from all of us. It's hard not to be able to comfort someone you know is tearing themselves apart inside over something that wasn't their fault. I don't need this distraction now, Kahn. I really don't." . She could see his reluctance to keep them apart, but she knew that his concern for her safety on an assignment would win out over all.

"What a pretty picture, Kahn. Taking to playing with your food in your old age."

Kahn sighed in annoyance. "Hello Lucien, it's been much too long."