The wind whistled as it passed over the top of Dominion Towers, causing Leah’s eyes
to beg for moisture she would not give them. She cast her gaze out over the city,
only slightly affected by the sting of the cold gusts. She watched the headlights of
cars on the main avenue below. So tiny from this height – it looked as though
someone slowly pulled along a string of white
Christmas lights. She envied those
cars – or more accurately, their drivers. Ignorant. Ignorant of the world she lived
in. Ignorant of the danger, of the lure, of all of it.
Perhaps ignorance is truly bliss.
The thought made her laugh out loud. If only her sire could hear her now, a Tremere
who thought ignorance was bliss. He would have punished her for a week… if he were
She folded her arms across her against the chill wind that had settled on her city,
or perhaps in resignation. Her long, open-backed evening gown whipped in time with
the whistle that filled her ears.
At one time, the thought had been comforting; thrilling, even. Now it hung on her
like a yolk. She thought that if she still had breath, the weight of that thought
might crush it from her lungs.
I failed you, Xavier. But then, we have all failed, haven’t we?
In truth, her sire would have been proud
if he could see her, and the irony of a
Tremere as the Prince of Salem would amuse him for nights on end. Here, where so
many witches and warlocks had met their end at Bacon’s pyres, a practitioner of the
Blood Arts ruled the night. But then he had chosen her because she was ambitious and
Ambition expires. Cleverness accomplishes only so much.
She wondered what the rest of the directorate was doing now. Bickering, no doubt,
about who should have the seat on the Primogen’s council. They could bicker all they
wanted. By dawn it would be of no consequence.
She uncrossed her arms as she heard the glass door slide open, wiping the troubled
expression from her face as Uriah scurried to stand next to her on the precipice.
Better not to alarm him.
She smiled as he tried to offer her a cloak against the icy air but did not take it,
refraining with a small shake of her head. Why did she insist on
such petty self
Because that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Fates know I’ll need my
“But your skin is so cold, Mistress…” Uriah’s brow furrowed in honest concern.
“As it has been for two hundred years, Uri… and no garment can change that.” She
smiled at him, warmly and genuinely.
He almost frowned, but he knew she was right. The cold that bit in to his exposed
face would be little more than an annoyance to her. He folded the cloak over his
arm, and looked out over the city as well before speaking.
“They will siege the city tonight…” He paused, and when she made no sound, added,
“What will you do?”
Her answer was a long time coming – so long he began to wonder if she would answer
at all, or if he had offended her. But finally, her voice broke the sound of the
“I will let them have it.”
Her answer took him by
surprise, and he could find no words though every part of him
Poor Uri. You betrayed me – all of us – and you don’t even know it. And yet… you
have freed me.
She looked down the sixty stories to the garden house roof, watching the moon’s
reflection appear briefly from behind the clouds. She thought of the citizens of her
Court. Some had received a warning – short, simple, incomplete.
“Take that which is important to you, and be gone from my city by the stroke of
Would they listen? She could no longer concern herself. Ten, perhaps twenty had been
told to leave. The rest would meet their judgment tonight.
They will expect me to save them. As if anything really could.
Uriah finally found his voice, though it shook – perhaps out of fear, or confusion,
or perhaps it was only the chill. Leah tried not to think about it. “Where will we
her answer carefully. “I think I will go to Europe. I have never
seen it, but my grandmother was born in Bristol. Perhaps I shall go there for a
He only nodded and looked back out into the dark night. She let several moments
pass, then turned her head to him. “What do you serve, Uri?”
He cast a puzzled look to her. “I serve only you, my Mistress.”
She afforded him a smile. He spoke the truth. “And what do I serve, Uri?”
He puzzled further. “You serve the kindred of this city, and the Council of Seven in
Vienna.” He paused, worried.
She afforded another smile, full of forgiveness this time and accompanied by a slow
shake of her head. “No, I serve only myself. For two centuries, I have served only
myself and those like me.”
And in self-service lies the path to madness. Or worse.
He frowned and stepped to her, shaking his head. “Oh no, Mistress – you mustn’t say
He wanted to add more, but didn’t know what to say. He didn’t truly
understand what she meant, only that her self-chastizing tone saddened him.
She smiled softly, accepting his arm. “You would make me a saint, Uri, even when you
know I am a devil.”
He frowned. She tried not to.
They stood there for several moments, both lost in their own thoughts until the
grandfather clock in the parlor began to sound the arrival of midnight. She lifted
her head and watched the horizon for the first signs. Only minutes passed before she
saw it. On the far edge of the city, the Klarion building leapt alive in flames. She
turned to look at her ghoul’s face, become white as paste.
So you see your craftsmanship now, and still you do not know it is yours.
“They have begun attacking the city… shall I alert the elders?”
Faithful, steadfast Uri – You still think I have told them about the siege.
She smiled a
little sadly. “No.”
He looked to her, confusion etched into his features.
My poor Uriah – you don’t even know what they’ve done to you. They watch me through
your tear-filled eyes.
She smiled one last, sorrowful smile to him before she pushed him from the ledge.
When the shattered glass of the atrium settled, she watched the crimson teardrop
that fell to meet him.
Better to break your neck than your heart. I will miss you.
A moment later she leapt across to the next rooftop, slipping quickly down into the
parkade. The attendant met her with a smile. “Will you be requiring your car, Miss
She tried her best to smile. “Yes, please.”
She looked out the rose tinted glass as she waited. Would the rest of the chantry
house hear the shattering of the glass? Would they rush to see what had made the
sound? They would keep Uri alive with their blood and incantations to question
and not even give a thought to his agony.
I won’t let them, Uri. This much I promise. You will have the rest that should have
been yours long ago.
She closed her eyes, her lips whispering words whose origins were forgotten by most.
When she opened them again, Uri’s body began the fire that would consume the
building before the night was passed.
She turned her head as she heard the hum of an engine approaching, whispering her
last good-byes aloud. “May your soul find peace, my dearest friend.”
She smiled to the attendant as she slipped behind the wheel of her Lexus, it’s
darkened interior consoling her little.
As she drove out of the city, she stopped to look back at the fires that now took
several of the towering buildings.
They will blame it on the siege.
She frowned at herself.
And I will let them.
The young girl smiled as she produced the plane tickets, despite
the older woman’s
grim expression. “One way to London, ma’am, layovers as you requested. Are you sure
you want all these redeye flights?”
Leah nodded, looking over the itenerary. “Yes, thank you.”
The question made Leah smile.
Yes… about two hundred years worth.
“No, just a carry-on.”
The girl straightened and smiled again. “All checked in – you had better hurry,
ma’am – the 411 takes off in twenty minutes”
Leah quietly thanked her and quickly made her way to the gates, stopping to pick up
a newspaper on the way. When she finally settled into her seat, she was glad she’d
bought out the entire row. She opened the paper to view the headlines.
“Salem Burns Again”
She closed the paper and laid it on the seat next to her with a quiet sigh. As the
plane took off into the night sky, she closed her eyes and wondered at the state of
No, not my city anymore…
Maybe it never really was…