The smell of pig slop, feces, and grass filled Katherine's nostrils. The last time she smelled anything quite like it, corsets were still fashionable. Elijah hid his amusement and rang the doorbell. She was making such a fuss that announcing their arrival seemed almost pointless.
"Do you mind?" he muttered, looking to woman stomping the mud from her heels.
Katherine softened her clamor with a tight smile. Seconds later, the door opened and a tall man with black spectacles appeared. He bore a striking resemblance to Jonas Martin, Elijah's former aide.
"Elijah –" he began, pausing to observe the beauty behind him.
"Good morning, Caleb," Elijah said warmly. "Please allow me to introduce my associate, Katherine Pierce. She missed her bus this morning so I asked her to join us. I assume that's alright?"
The warlock hesitated. He hadn't planned on entertaining two vampires, particularly a stranger, but Elijah was no ordinary supernatural. He was an Original and a trusted ally of his deceased cousin. It was probably best not to question him.
"Yes – of course, please come inside."
Elijah thanked Caleb with a generous smile and motioned Katherine ahead. Once inside, she glanced over the rugged living quarters and flickering hearth curiously. She wasn't overly fond of the backwoods motif, but at least it didn't smell.
"You have a lovely home," she said in the absence of something better.
Elijah resisted the urge to look up. He was sure she was lying, but the flawless way she did it warranted concern. She sounded so sincere.
"Thank you. It's not much, but it's mine and it's peaceful. Please have a seat. Would either of you like some coffee?"
"I'd love some!" said Katherine, sashaying to a chair close by the fire. "A splash of cream and three sugars, please."
"Sure … Elijah, would you –?"
Elijah shook his head, "No, thank you. I'm fine," and seated himself opposite of his companion.
Caleb disappeared into the next room leaving his guests to make themselves comfortable. Elijah soon turned his attention towards the vampire seated across. She was too busy picking strands of loose thread from her chair and sneering to notice him noticing her. This served to confirm his suspicion that her previous compliment had been less than sincere.
"This place could use a woman's touch," she mumbled, discarding something from her jacket. "On second thought, a match would do better!"
Elijah dearly hoped that Caleb wasn't in earshot range. Personally, he didn't mind the rustic look. Granted, his tastes ran a little smarter, but it reminded him of time when homes were for living and not for show. A time when beauty could found in the company one kept and a face, identical to the one seated in front of him, consumed his heart. Back then, Katerina would have never voiced her judgment about a man's possessions.
Too many lifetimes ago to matter … he thought, distantly recalling something Klaus said once.
Where was his Katerina hiding? Had she survived or did she finally suffocate under all those layers of eccentricity and glamour? If this Katherine façade was an act, it was a convincing one. He certainly respected Katherine's strengths; particularly her wit and aptitude for survival, but those strengths yellowed next to the grace of his Katerina. She was a different kind of strong. A type of strength he would not see again until Elena. The defining difference between Katherine and Elena was that immortality, more than circumstance, had reaped Katerina's innocence and much of her moral decency. Once upon a time, she too was a bright-eyed girl full of love.
Rumors of Katerina's metamorphous somehow found its way to Elijah over the centuries, haunting him for years after she fled. After all, it was he and not Trevor that introduced her to Klaus all those years ago. He should have insisted that Trevor take her away the moment he saw her face, Tatia's face, but he didn't. Instead, he escorted the lamb into the wolf's den. He let her become a pawn in Klaus's struggle for power. He justified his actions with devotion, then and even now, but in his heart, he knew. He had always known. The only question was – could Katerina still be saved?
"Thinking about little ole me?" a voice said, snapping the vampire from his thoughts.
Elijah disguised his discomfort with a pleasant glare.
"Hardly," he answered. "I was thinking about an old friend."
Smiling, Katherine clucked her tongue and cuffed her knee. She had him. He was far from synched, but she had him thinking and if there was one thing that Katherine Pierce understood was the art of interest. It didn't matter what he was thinking, only that he was interested and an interested man was a useful man.
Elijah did his best to overlook Katherine's smug response but it was hard to miss her purposely-averted glance. It was almost as if she was congratulating herself. Did she think she had reduced him to a puddle of lust? True, their little tryst was still running laps in his mind but he was distracted more by the memory of Katerina than her at that moment.
Sighing, the Original turned his attention towards the fire.
"Ms. Pierce," said Caleb, reappearing from the kitchen with a cup of coffee. "I hope you like almond roast."
"Thank you," she said, accepting the cup. "I do."
The warlock found a place on the couch and took a seat.
"I did some digging last night, Elijah. I even made a few phone calls this morning. The legend of Silas is an old one. I found a few scraps of literature here and there, mostly information on cults that worshiped him once, but few of us take the legend seriously nowadays. The lost burial of Silas is little more than a smoke chaser," he said.
"Smoke chaser," Katherine intoned.
"You know … pointless? Unless you're an immortal hoping to reverse your immortality or a witch searching for an old blood relic, the search is meaningless."
Elijah sat up. "So the cure is real," he said.
"Supposedly, but it's entombed with Silas, a very powerful immortal; the first immortal to be exact. He's been desiccating for 2,000 years."
It was now Elijah's turn to appear smug as the words 'first immortal' rolled off Caleb's tongue. A fact Katherine honed in on immediately.
"Now, don't be jealous," she teased, drawing a look of derision from the Original. "Besides, I explained all of this last night."
A small twitch escaped Elijah's cheek.
"Don't be ridiculous," he said. "As for your explanation, I couldn't be sure if that much of your account was accurate or part of some hand-me-down story. My family and I are the Originals! None existed before us. If this Silas person is truly a vampire, that would mean –"
"– that your mother didn't invent the wheel?" Katherine finished.
"Actually …" Caleb gently interrupted. "No one knows whether Silas is a vampire or not, only that he's an immortal. Of course, it's possible that you and your siblings are the first of your kind and that other immortals or prototypes existed once. According to the story, Silas needed an elixir to convert his beloved, Amara, into an immortal. He couldn't transform her using his blood so that's one red flag. However, dessication is definitely a hallmark of blood-deprived vampires. Not that it matters. It's all legend."
Elijah had no desire to mince words or definitions. He would adjust to the idea in time, if he had too, but for a thousand years, he and his siblings shared one connection above all others. They were the Originals, members of the Original Family always and forever. It seemed wrong not to defend that honor.
"Look, I don't know what you're planning but if you're on some kind of quest to find Silas's tomb, you should know what you're up against. Even if you manage to find it, you'll need a descendent of Qetsiyah to perform the Hunter's Spell since it was Qetsiyah that imprisoned Silas and inspired The Brotherhood of the Five. The legend says that Silas and Qetsiyah belonged to a group of sorcerers called the Travelers …"
Elijah listened as Caleb retold the story of Silas, Amara, and the Other Side. It was virtually the same story Katherine told him the night before, only with less flare, more detail, and a spiel on Hunters and their purpose. Oddly, he was both relieved and surprised to learn that Katherine had told him the truth.
"Legend has it that Silas retained some of his psychic abilities after his transition. If the legend is true and he refused the cure to spite Qetsiyah, he still has it. But that's not the disturbing part. If he's conscious, no matter how marginal, the solitude would have driven him mad ages ago."
"But let's not forget that he's completely desiccated," said Katherine in the way of a reminder. "That's a plus!"
"Still, if you're interested in finding his tomb, you should take care. There is no telling what a crazed immortal with special abilities can or will do after being locked away for so many centuries."
Elijah leaned back and offered the warlock a reassuring smile.
"We're just gathering information," he said. "But I appreciate your concern."
"Good, good. It's kind of a fool's errand anyway. Even if you manage to find his tomb and someone to open it, the power needed to do it isn't something readily available in nature. You'd probably need a major celestial event or a source of power not monitored by nature."
Both vampires shared the same look.
"It's called Expression," Caleb answered before Katherine could ask. "It's an extremely dark form of sorcery. Those that practice it draw on the residual power of death – both violent and ritualistic. However, it's uncontrollable. It consumes the user until there's nothing left. Still, a witch versed enough in the craft could do anything with it… theoretically. It manifests the desire of the user. Most don't even consider it magic. It's something else."
Elijah's optimism seemed to waiver a bit. Katherine made it all sound so easy; just a quick trip and swipe. Obviously, there was more to the venture than she either knew or cared about. Maybe Caleb was right. Maybe it was a fool's errand. Did the others have access to that much power? He couldn't see Bonnie Bennett conjuring it, but then he had learned long ago not to underestimate the determination of young witches. Still, something wasn't adding up. Why would the Bennett witch go to so much trouble? Why did Elena and her friends want the cure?
Right then, the phone rang drawing Caleb to the kitchen.
"I'm sorry. Please excuse me," Caleb said standing. "I'm expecting an important call. I'll be right back."
"Of course," Elijah replied.
Katherine watched and waited until he was gone before speaking.
"That's it! I didn't understand it before, but that's the connection," she whispered. "Bonnie Bennett is Qetsiyah's descendent! It makes sense now. My seer said she was the only one who could unlock the tomb!"
Elijah considered the idea for a moment. The Bennett bloodline was old, but he would have never guessed that it was that old.
"Don't you see? I only have to wait for Elena and her friend, Bonnie, to make their move," she said excitedly. "I'll bet you anything they have a hunter too! Maybe it's that Professor guy ... Shane. I haven't quite figured out why he's involved."
A question formed in the face the Original seated across, a question he should've asked before.
"Why does Elena Gilbert want the cure?"
Surprised, Katherine bought herself a moment with a curious scoff. She was afraid if she told Elijah about Elena's transformation and the events that led to it that he might pity the Gilbert brat and opt to help her instead, robbing her of her only chance to be free. He, like so many others, had a soft spot for her. It was too early in the game to risk an upset. She'd tell him eventually, but not now.
"Elena?" she said, deflecting the question with a bristle. "I imagine she wants it for Stefan. Disgusting as the thought may be, they're still an item."
"So the Bennett girl is willing to do this for him?"
"Elijah, you know how they are. They're thick as thieves! Bonnie would do anything for Elena. Besides, you heard Caleb. There could be something in it for her too. Whatever relic is down there was probably created by Qetsiyah. Honestly, I don't care why Elena wants the cure. I only know that I want to free of Klaus and if you could find in yourself to help me, I'd like you to broker the deal. It's a win-win! Your family will be safe and I'll finally be free!"
Katherine could see the suspicion growing smaller in Elijah's eyes as he adjusted to the idea. He was satisfied for now. Although she felt a pang of guilt for deceiving him, she wouldn't lose a wink of sleep over it. She needed the influential vampire on her side.
"Sorry about that," said Caleb, reentering the room. "Now, where were we?"
"I believe we've kept you long enough," said Elijah, rising from his seat. A surprised Katherine followed his lead. They were finished already? "We should be going now. I think we've covered everything, but I will call you if I think of anything else. Please accept our gratitude for your help and hospitality."
Caleb shook the vampire's hand. Jonas always said he was a courtesy gent and it seemed he was right.
"Anytime, Elijah," he smiled, glancing over. "It was nice to meet you, Katherine. Do drop by if you're ever this way again."
Katherine hid her disdain for the one-stop, farmer's dream with an overly perky smile.
"I will," she lied.
A/C: Sorry for the delay! Hopefully, the next chapter won't take so long :) Thanks for reading.