Daedalus lifted his face to the rain. It fell chilled against his skin in a night that hung dark and quiet. Above him, clouds rolled low and gray. Beside him, Jesse stood still, his hands at his side. Across from him, Garrett and Roman stood slump-shouldered, their eyes downcast. Below him, Julian finally lay at rest, near his beloved Evelyn.
The grave yawned open, grass fringing its edges with raindrops falling like tears into the earth. At its head, the gravestone spoke of a life never lived:
The grave had waited for over 100 years.
Close by, another headstone sweetly spoke a love so profound that its loss meant a dozen lifetimes of sorrow.
Died In Childbirth
Loved By Her Husband
More Than His Own Life
May She Rest In
Loss came hard and heavy in 1856. Julian Luna lost more than his wife. He lost his reason for life, and so he gave it up to Archon, taking on a future as Kindred, powerful, ageless, but not invincible and never free of the humanity that had once been his.
Julian Luna, Prince of the City. May He Finally Rest In Peace.
No one yet moved to cast the first clump of soggy soil upon the casket.
Himself a drenched figure in a brown cloak, Daedalus felt everyone around him.
Jesse Corrigan, Julian's driver, stood tall and still in his black mackintosh with the rain pressing his dark hair against his scalp, his long face gray and sodden with the night and the moment.
There was Roman Lochak, a man with emotional ties to the Luna family. His great-grandfather and namesake had tended the birth of Julian's son, had shared the moment when Evelyn died. Not long ago, Roman had found his way to San Francisco, a young physician without a hope against a disease that ravaged his body. His name made its way to Archon who presented him to Julian, at last bringing an enduring ache full-circle. And it was Archon who gave Roman a Kindred life in his human death. True to The Masquerade, working among the humans as if he were one, Roman continued his life-healing skills, grateful to practice an art that had drawn the names of Lochak and Luna together at one short point in history, and again, many lifetimes later. Daedalus knew it was proper that the man be here.
Slight in stature, slight in frame, and very blonde, much like his namesake, Dr. Roman Lochak shed tears that mixed with the rain, staining his cheeks a watery red.
Beside Roman, Garrett glanced from the headstone to the casket then up to Daedalus. Garrett was one of Julian's, the last childe of a prince. He had come to the Kindred through Lillie who had watched him jogging the neighborhood around The Haven night after night and had taken a typical Toreador interest in him -- lustful, irresistible, and fleeting. Although merely tolerant of Lillie's latest romantic indulgence, Julian eventually found the youth to be warm, yet lonely, and took it upon himself to Embrace him so his passions and talents would endure. For Garrett had both passion and talent in wild abundance. Daedalus enjoyed Garrett's company; it was Garrett's gift for painting that drew Daedalus to him and he to Daedalus. Both had uncanny talent for bringing their thoughts to life on canvas.
Daedalus glanced to the young man with the fine face and sturdy form that had attracted the attention of the Toreador Primogen and surely ensured his future as Kindred. But the dark olive skin and glossy black hair were drab. His full smiling lips were flat, without accent. His dark eyes were veiled behind his sorrow.
His own skin pale as parchment, Daedalus too lowered his eyes, feeling the rain run in tracks across his bare scalp, along the lines of his long ears. He felt the night's damp seep into his cloak, his clothing, his body. After a pause, he stepped to the shovel, grasped it, scooped the soil, and scattered earth into the grave. One by one, the others followed. Jesse, the personal attendant and driver. Roman, the friend brought out of history. Garrett, the artist and companion. Daedalus, the trusted confidant.
These were the creatures who brought Julian to his final rest.
Dreadfully missed were Sonny, Lillie, Cash, and Julian's precious Sasha.
As Garrett and Roman sealed the grave, Jesse drew Daedalus aside. "We can see to Sonny some other night, when it is not raining."
Daedalus shook his head. "No, it is fitting that we see to Sonny tonight. He and his Sire lost their lives on the same night. We set them to rest on the same night. I believe that nature is weeping with us."
Jesse nodded. "I'll bring the car around." With that, he disappeared into the curtain of rain.
It was on such a night that they laid Archon to rest, here in the same cemetery, in a grave close by. Daedalus stepped along the rows to find it, and when he did, he stooped, touching the sodden grass gently.
"He is here, Archon," Daedalus murmured. "We have brought Julian back to Evelyn and back to you." He paused, dropped his eyes, and held his rage, his sorrow. Either or both were at the edge of his restraint. "Sonny, too, was slain. Julian was always so proud of Sonny, trusting him so, but something went wrong, Archon. They argued, and I believe that their distress over the argument distracted them for the second it took to end their lives."
Daedalus thought about the night Sonny Toussaint and his Prince argued, how he heard their raised voices even in his chambers below the mansion, with Julian repeatedly telling Sonny "No" to some announcement, some question, some statement. Was the "No" an order? Was it an answer? Was it a pronouncement of denial? As a police detective, had Sonny discovered something, or as one of Julian's own, had he brazenly challenged his Sire on some matter? Daedalus wondered if anyone would ever learn what had fueled such disagreement.
"Lillie had to flee," he continued speaking to Archon in his grave. "It was Julian's wish that she take the human Frank Kohanek to safety. I have not heard from them, but I have heard that they are safe. As are Cash and Sasha. They, too, fled the city." Daedalus then sighed. "The city is not as it was when you were prince, Archon, and certainly not when Julian was prince. Cameron killed you as payment for your crime against his clan, but he killed both Sonny and Julian without provocation. He longs to be named prince, but -- " And Daedalus dared a dark laugh. " -- his night of slaughter left the city without Primogens to consolidate his power! Only I am left. Only the Nosferatu have their Primogen. Ah, I know what you're thinking, Archon, you're thinking that the Brujah also have their Primogen in Cameron. True, but although he wants to be prince, he hesitates to step down as the Brujah Primogen. He fears that the other clans will not support him as prince, and that he will have no position at all if he relinquishes his power as the Brujah leader. Even his own clan tires of his waffling. He is not in an enviable position. The other clans are taking their time choosing new leaders. The Toreador hope that Lillie will return as their Primogen. The Gangrels believe that Cash will return as theirs. Your Ventrue are also leaderless with the loss of Sonny."
Daedalus then felt a shadow fill him, a shadow of revenge. "We may have lost our Prince, but I still remain the Prince's Enforcer. Cameron will pay for his deeds, Archon. Not soon. But it will be done."
Daedalus turned to the voice. It was Garrett.
"Jesse sent me to fetch you."
"Thank you." Daedalus then stood and followed Garrett back to the car, back past the grave of Julian Luna. With one final glance to the muddy mound, he whispered, "It will be done."
The drive back to Highway 1 and the Pacific coast was fixed in silence, the kind of silence that ran rampant with words yet stalled in utter quiet. The dark of night held strong as they turned up the coast. This night could have lasted forever, stretching along the rocks, hovering over the ocean, stealing color everywhere.
When at last Jesse pulled the car to the side of the road, Daedalus reached to the cedar box between his feet. The sounds of wiper blades slapping across the windshield added a pulse to the steady rain. Then the engine fell quiet. The blades ceased their pacing. Only the rain continued until Jesse opened the driver door and the ignition key chime softly pinged. Stepping to the rear of the car, Jesse opened the door and helped Daedalus out. With the rush of the ocean rising from below, Daedalus felt a rush of life coursing through his veins. Life had crawled from the oceans. Sonny would now return.
It had been an easy task to retrieve Sonny's body from the morgue; Daedalus had his ways of moving about the city undetected, entering buildings, rooms, and private chambers almost at will. The hard part of the task was knowing that it came from his dying Prince. Julian's last concerns had been for others, for The Masquerade. Daedalus had retrieved Stevie Ray's body from the same morgue a few years before, but not without succumbing to the hunger. Daedalus fed so rarely. Although the coroner hadn't died, he had indeed been left traumatized and drained. The hunger had been strong that night, but on the night that he purloined Sonny away, Daedalus prepared for the hunger. There was nothing anyone would ever find that would lead to the person who snatched the police detective's body from the police themselves. Nothing would even hint that someone else had been there. All the evidence would say that Sonny Toussaint simply disappeared.
Daedalus carried him now.
Slowly, the four mourners stepped along the escarpment that dropped away into the thundering surf. They edged down the slope, and upon reaching the bluff, formed a semi-circle at the edge. There was a muffled sound of cloth on wood as Daedalus opened the box and removed a small silver urn. Garrett took the box from him. Jesse removed the urn lid. Roman stood silent as Daedalus paused a moment, holding the urn out to the sea. Then, he flung the ashes over the edge, and as if it had been waiting for this moment, a slight wind arose to scatter Sonny across the frothy ocean.
These were the creatures who saw Sonny to his final rest.
The newspaper reported that a local nightclub had been the target of organized crime, that the owner Lillie Langtry was missing, that the body of the police detective found murdered inside the club had disappeared from the morgue, and that witnesses gave various accounts of seeing a mortally wounded man driven away from the nightclub. There was no mention of Julian Luna. There was no mention of any crime syndicate that may be responsible. There was, however, every indication that the assault on the club was not as straightforward as it sounded.
Daedalus glanced to the byline: Caitlin Byrne.
Julian had been attracted to Caitlin. He had bought the newspaper so he could be close to her, but she was human; he was Kindred. The relationship would lead only to tragedy. It nearly cost Julian his life back in Manzanita Springs when he had been foolish enough to allow Caitlin to take him away on a "mystery" weekend. Of all places, she took him to Manzanita Springs, to the winery where, as Archon's Enforcer, Julian Luna had slaughtered the Brujah in the Sonoma County village. The remaining Brujah were there to take revenge.
Julian had indeed taken foolish risks to be near Caitlin. Archon knew it. Daedalus knew it. Cyrus knew it. Cameron knew it. Julian knew it, but only after Manzanita Springs did he accept it.
"Of course I'm not threatening you, Julian. I'm just letting you know that your dalliance with this human can have no happy ending." Cyrus then set his hands on the table in Julian's study and watched the San Francisco Prince.
Cyrus was the Prince of Los Angeles. He was Brujah. He had sired Eddie Fiori, the Brujah Primogen who had given Julian so much trouble, but Cyrus was no Eddie. He knew how to negotiate, and although he usually weighed his decisions in favor of his Brujah, he understood perfectly that the relationship of Julian and the human Caitlin would end in disaster and impact Kindred of all the clans.
"I agree with the Prince of Los Angeles," Daedalus said.
The three of them exchanged awkward glances. They had agreed to come together privately, without notifying the other clans. In fact, Julian had sent Cash and Jesse out on errands. Lillie was at her club The Haven. No one was about the mansion. Cyrus had asked to visit San Francisco so he could discuss the Brujah Primogen Cameron in confidence with Julian, but somehow, the conversation evolved into an argument on how Julian jeopardized his control on the Kindred in his city. Perhaps the two issues were very much related.
A long sigh broke the silence. It came from Julian. Leaning back in his chair, the prince passed a hand through his dark hair, letting it linger at the back of his neck, as if he dwelled on a problem that commanded all his concentration. When at last he set his hands before him, he gave his attention to Cyrus then Daedalus then dropped his gaze back to his hands. His dark eyes looked sad but resigned to the fact that both his companions were right.
"Cameron is Brujah, true," Cyrus continued, "but he has an agenda that he denies each time I ask why he is so focused on you, Julian. He can't let you go. And if he can't hurt you, he will hurt someone you love, and anyone you love will become of great interest to Cameron. By your relationship with this human, you direct attention to her. Miss Byrne is not Kindred. She would not be able to understand the approaching danger. She could never prepare and combat it, not as a Kindred could." Cyrus waited a moment to let his words soak in. "What are your plans? Do you marry her?" he asked as a challenge. "What do you explain about your true family? Do you Embrace her?"
Julian's eyes flew to Cyrus. "Caitlin must never be Embraced," he warned.
"That may be something you cannot prevent. She is ideal as a means to apply pressure on you." Cyrus paused. "And as painful as it may be to recall, there is the incident with Sasha, when the San Francisco Brujah Embraced her against will and without your consent."
Julian's eyes flashed silver for a racing heartbeat, then the color returned.
"See?" Cyrus pressed. "Even the mere mention of that tragedy can cause you to frenzy."
"Why do you have such concern?" Julian asked.
"Business." Cyrus shrugged. "I have some friends who have agencies in LA that are looking for talent. Lillie's clubs are a hotbed of talent. You have several companies that you probably forgot about. They are producing some very innovative architectural designs that I would like to adopt for some of my current real estate endeavors. If San Francisco is disrupted, my friends lose money." Cyrus then smiled.
Julian smiled back. "Friends?"
Cyrus shrugged. "I have my interests, too."
"I'm sure you do, and there's also Cameron," Julian stated flatly. "He could upset your plans if he uses a wedge named 'Caitlin Byrne'."
Cyrus tilted his head to one side. "It's for her own good, Julian."
"And yours," Julian added.
"Motive notwithstanding," Daedalus interrupted, "Cyrus is right that you give an advantage to Cameron by carrying on this relationship. He will discover a way to exploit your weakness."
"And by weakness, you mean Caitlin," Julian fired back.
Once again, the room settled into a prickly silence.
Julian finally spoke. "Daedalus, I trust you with everything I possess, even my life. You have been the truest counsel. Yet, you align against me with a Brujah Prince who admits to self-serving motives."
"Not against you," Daedalus said. "For you, in the truest sense. Even Archon advised you against the relationship, stressing that it endangered The Masquerade."
There fell another pause. "Very well," Julian uttered. "I will give up Caitlin."
Having finished reading Caitlin's article, Daedalus folded the newspaper and set it on a small table next to his chair. He had a strong desire for humans and cared about them, but he didn't like humanity's encroachment into the peace of his chambers. This article was only the beginning.
Under the low ceiling of the subterranean room, soft lamplight cast shadows deep into the recesses within the corners and behind the tables and cabinets that stood scattered about. He sat back into his chair, sinking into its tucks and folds and its deep feather cushioning. Setting his elbows on the great rounded arms, he tented his fingers before his face, staring into the nothing beyond the dark walls decorated with paintings of his own hand, some of them going back many lifetimes. One of them in particular was his favorite -- the portrait of a little boy. He looked to it now, wondering in what manner the young boy's life had unfolded.
Daedalus remembered how he had disobeyed his Prince -- not once, but twice -- and had given the little human boy shelter in his chambers. Julian had ordered him to return the boy to the hospital, even though the child would languish and die there, stating that the boy was the affair of the humans. But Daedalus knew that the humans had cast the boy aside, having given up on his short life. He could not bear to see the child be allowed to waste away. In the end, he obeyed Julian and returned the boy to the hospital, although not without using his alchemy arts to break the boy's fate.
Daedalus had made these chambers home long before Julian assumed ownership of the mansion that stood over them. The mansion had been Archon's. Before that, the house had been owned by an ancient Nosferatu named Davood who purchased it from the land baron who built it with his timber fortune, then lost everything overnight. History said that the chambers had always been there, had always known the Nosferatu. There was a tale that Davood had helped the human earn his fortune, then undermined it when the industrialist failed to honor a promise.
The chambers now belonged to Daedalus. He now owned the great mansion that had been Julian's home. Julian had given it to him through a blind of companies.
But the house had also been Lillie's home. Lillie was missing. The human police would want access to her rooms for evidence, for anything that might point them to finding her, to finding Julian. There was no Sonny to deflect such intrusion. Although a Ventrue judge had denied search warrant requests, Jesse expressed concern that the time might come when they would have to allow the San Francisco police onto the mansion grounds.
Daedalus was most uncomfortable when humans came onto the grounds, and when Julian began his relationship with Caitlin, humans were often on the grounds, inside the mansion, coming to Julian's home for meetings related to the newspaper Julian had purchased. At such times, Daedalus sequestered himself deep within his chambers, but after the night that Julian promised to give Caitlin up, Daedalus moved like a shadow within the mansion, a silent, unseen witness to those meetings. It was not an honorable thing to do, but he did it, nonetheless.
Julian stepped around the long conference table, his reflection gliding along the high gloss of its surface. He addressed each editors and each manager in turn, making clear his displeasure with the slant of some of the stories, especially the ones that played on the nature of the crimes they reported. He was particularly hard on Caitlin.
When he finally closed the meeting, he asked her to remain behind and silently watched everyone else file out..
When they were once again alone, Caitlin turned to him. "That was harsh, Julian."
"It had to be done."
"Have I displeased you?" She titled her head with her question, her flaxen hair catching the soft room light, spilling over her shoulders like a fall of gold. Her brown eyes followed him as he moved to the other side of the table, where he stopped behind a chair, making no move to sit down.
His hands were behind his back. His feet were planted apart. In his dark suit, he towered over the chair. He towered over the table. He towered over her question. "I thought I made my concerns very clear," he replied, his voice low and even.
"I'm talking about me, personally. You haven't phoned. We see each other only at the office or here. I asked you a month ago why you stopped coming around."
"And I said that I had matters to attend to."
"For a month?"
"Caitlin, I have many matters that do not concern you."
She turned her head and swallowed. "Very well, what is the matter that concerns me this evening, the one so important that you would ask me to remain?"
"I've moved the paper into a holding company for better management. I will no longer play a role in any day-to-day operations."
"You won't even be in the office?" Her brows furrowed. Distress swept over her face.
"For a while, during the transition. I have a CEO at the holding company who will take over for me." Julian then smiled warmly. "You two should get on well. You're both ambitious, with an eye for detail, driven, professional, precise, and hard-working. In fact, I've arranged a light dinner party for everyone here at the end of next week."
Caitlin then rose, collected her briefcase, and stood away from the table. "Is there something I should prepare?"
"I will let Michael make that decision."
"Michael Howard. Yes. He has some ideas, I am sure."
Caitlin nodded. "Very well. Will you see me out?"
At that moment, Jesse appeared and Julian gestured to him. "Jesse will see you out."
The break with Caitlin had been much easier than he had expected, at least that's what Julian told Daedalus shortly before the dinner party. Perhaps the ending of his affair with the human had been eased by Lillie. Perhaps Daedalus might have had something to do with that. He confided in Lillie that Julian was bout to terminate his affair with Caitlin, and he suggested that it was a good opportunity to establish herself with Julian once again, and so she did.
Sitting in his chair, alone in his chambers, Daedalus missed Lillie. He had heard she was safe. He had heard that the human Frank Kohanek performed well protecting her. Daedalus let go a low laugh. Protecting her. Julian might have found that an interesting turn of events: A human police detective investigates Julian Luna; Julian Luna makes a promise to protect the human detective from Kindred; Julian Luna orders his lover to protect the human; the human protects his Kindred lover.
Daedalus had no doubt that Lillie was letting it happen. He also wondered how long her interest in the human would last. She was not known for her longevity when it came to lovers. Julian himself had been in and out of her graces for nearly a century. With them, it had always been a mutual bout of take-and-take. In that way, Daedalus supposed that they shared. However, during their final interlude together, Lillie and Julian appeared to have moved closer to a contented union.
Julian had always been taken with Lillie. After all, she was Toreador, the clan of sensuality, pleasure, art, and charm. But she was also a classic in terms of beauty. Yes, Daedalus missed her, how she lent the mansion such elegance by living here, even when she and Julian were at odds with one another.
Daedalus recalled her tale of how she brought a vase of roses into a room where Julian and Caitlin were meeting on some newspaper matter. Lillie breezed in to Caitlin's surprise, and to the woman's question about her presence in Julian's mansion, Lillie simply replied, "I live here." For his own response, Julian had only a sheepish smile.
The incident was much like the dinner party.
From within his chambers, Daedalus heard the limousines arrive with Caitlin Byrne and Michael Howard. He was ready for them.
Garrett and he were working together on a painting for The Haven, a full size portrait of a young man singing to an unseen audience. It was a stylized painting with great swaths of colors -- dark blue, orange, purple -- giving the figure motion, even a trace of music unleashed by the vibrancy. The eyes were closed. The lips formed words that caressed the canvas. His hands cupped the microphone, leaning into it like a lover. Lillie would like it.
After one long look at the work, Daedalus turned to his colleague. "I shall be gone but for a short while. Can you continue?"
Garrett nodded. "Where are you going?"
With only an empty reply, the Nosferatu slipped up the plank stairs and out into the night. Crawling along the mansion walls, he shimmied along to the formal dining room. Settling onto the window ledge making himself dark against the night, he watched Lillie fuss around the table with two Gangrel maids Jesse had brought in for the occasion. Leaves had been removed from the table at the far end of the large room to give the setting some intimacy and take the edge off the business reason for the occasion. A white cloth draped it. A floral arrangement with a silver candelabra graced the center of the table. A fireplace with a sitting group filled the end near the door. Upon one long wall was a hand-painted mural, a pastoral scene in sepia, with horses, hunters, and the fox. A mirrored sideboard dominated the opposite wall. Beside it stood a large potted palm, and on the other side was the buffet.
The room was perfect. It was ready, and Julian would not be pleased that Daedalus had made himself a witness to its events this night. Closing out the world, Daedalus melted like a mist against the glass, latching onto every sound, every motion within the room.
"Thank you," Lillie said to the two maids. "Please see that each setting has fresh butter, then we should be ready."
Jesse entered looking darkly elegant in a suit that added height to his long lean lines. He motioned with a white-gloved hand, sending the two young girls back through the butler's pantry into the kitchen. "They've arrived," he announced.
Lillie dashed to the mirror behind the buffet and tested her beauty one last time, playing with her smile, pressing her dark red lips together, then spreading them with an inviting tease. Patting her upswept hair, she pressed a few dark strands back into place. She then adjusted the delicate straps on her black-beaded gown and cupped her ivory breasts under the fine fabric, giving her already exquisite shape a bit of confidence.
The gown was one of Julian's favorites, and Lillie's excitement at receiving it several weeks ago had made a lasting impression on Daedalus.. Julian had commissioned the gown especially for Lillie, based on a sketch he had given the haut couture designer Jae Chong, a Toreador who hid behind a professional name Daedalus could not remember. He didn't care. This so-called "fashion" was part of the human world. Jae Chong was part of the Kindred world. That was how he knew her, and that was all that mattered.
He watched Lillie now, admiring her for the classic beauty she was. When she finished her ministrations, there came a soft sound at the door. She glided toward the fireplace just as Jesse ushered Julian and his guests within.
Words did not matter. Daedalus heard volumes in Caitlin's eyes as they caught sight of Lillie, her elegance and grace, as they followed Julian who moved comfortably to Lillie's side. He touched her cheek lightly with his lips and his arm lingered at her waist before he stepped away and presented his guests.
Daedalus didn't need ears to understand the dialogue. Words were of no import. He learned much with each tip of the head, each casual wave of a hand in conversation, each smile, and each time a smile dropped away. Lillie acknowledged Caitlin as an old acquaintance. She beamed when Julian presented Michael Howard.
The man wasn't at all what Daedalus had expected. For one thing, Michael Howard was young for a CEO, very young, perhaps in his mid- thirties. And he was attractive in a sunny way that so many Californians had just by their nature. His skin glowed with a warm beige. His thick sandy hair dropped arrogantly over his forehead, to one side, with a delicate curl against his collar. Like Julian, he had dressed in a dark suit, but unlike Julian, he had not the breadth of shoulders, the commanding height. Although crisp and sharp, the suit was merely apparel on Michael Howard.
Engaged in a light conversation with the man, Julian shifted his posture to one side, but there was nothing casual about his demeanor. He commanded the room simply by being there.
Daedalus glanced to the fireplace where Lillie had led Caitlin and settled her onto the eagle-backed sofa off to one side of the hearth. Caitlin sat stiffly, lowering herself slowly, moving to the edge of the seat, as if she would bolt at any second. Although he was sure that Lillie read the discomfort perfectly, Daedalus watched her ease herself onto the sofa beside Caitlin and invite the woman to a tray of mints on the low table before them. Caitlin merely stared, attempted a smile then turned her attention to the empty fireplace.
At that point, Julian brought Michael to the chairs opposite the sofa and gestured to the sideboard where a decanter of sherry and several crystal cordials stood ready. Michael nodded. Julian poured two glasses, asked Lillie and Caitlin if they would care for some as well. Lillie smiled. Caitlin sank deeper into herself.
Throughout the evening, Daedalus played witness to the dynamics within the room, noticing how they changed, how Lillie had expertly maneuvered the dinner, the conversation, the after-dinner moments by the fireplace. He watched how she expertly entwined Julian back into her intimacies. He was especially impressed with how Lillie the hostess had incited an attraction between Caitlin Byrne and Michael Howard. By evening's end, the two were on the sofa drawing into one another, while Julian sat across from them, with Lillie perched delicately on the arm of his chair, her arm draped along the back. Lillie quietly closed the evening by excusing herself for upstairs. Her lips touched Julian's temple, lingering for a moment while she whispered something into his ear. Rising from the chair, she nodded farewell to her guests and let her hand dangle within Julian's. Slowly, she moved away, letting her hand linger in his until only their fingertips touched. When their flesh parted and his arm drifted back to the chair arm, his eyes lingered on her, a smile warming his face.
Julian was Lillie's once again.
Sitting now in the dull light of his chamber, Daedalus marked that evening as the moment when he let go his concerns for Julian's intrigue with the human woman. He understood the lure that humans often unknowingly placed on Kindred. His own heart was often burdened by the sorrows and distresses of individual humans who bore that look of isolation, of loneliness, of quiet loss of self.
There was a sound within his chambers. He was not alone.
"Camilla," he spoke as a shadow took form, moving closer to his chair, moving in on his private reflections.
The Nosferatu replied quietly, "You've been dwelling on the past again." She tilted her head to one side, its bare scalp catching the delicate lamplight. With warmth for her Primogen, she then smiled, letting her lips draw back from her teeth, baring the points ever so slightly.
"There is so much of it," he responded. "At what point is it vaster than the future?"
Moving closer, Camilla came full into the chamber, the hem of her dark dress rustling along the carpet. She sat across from him, drawing her skirt around her knees. There was a glow to her face that Daedalus recognized.
"You've been to see her again," he remarked.
Camilla beamed. "I have."
"How is Caitlin?"
"She has such reason."
"The boy is nearly two, is he not?"
"Twenty-two months, as the humans would say, being so detailed at such an age."
Daedalus then shifted in his chair, switching one leg over the other. "And Michael?"
"Still the doting father. I suspect there will be many siblings for this child!"
Daedalus lit the air with a light laugh. "And you godmother to them all."
"I think the child knows I am present," Camilla whispered.
She leaned forward, drawing herself closer to her Primogen. "I fly to the tree outside the nursery and he moves his eyes to the window. He knows. He knows. Caitlin can carry him away from the window, but his eyes linger on me in the night."
Daedalus laughed again. "Are you sure you did not touch that child in the womb?"
With a smile, Camilla pressed herself back into her chair where she gave only an answer of silence. The air hung quiet for the longest time as Daedalus allowed his attention to fall into his array of paintings.
Finally, he spoke, his gaze still intent on the canvases. "The Brujah Primogen demands a Conclave of the Primogens."
"There are no other Primogens."
"He applies pressure that they choose new leaders."
"It is time that they do. The city has been without a Prince for nearly two weeks. Save the Nosferatu, the clans have lost their leaders."
"I know," he sighed.
"Will the Gangrels choose Jesse?"
"I expect they will. Cameron will not be pleased with the choice."
Camilla snorted. "There is not much that pleases Cameron except Cameron."
"He has yet to learn patience."
"The Toreador will choose whom?"
Daedalus turned to his companion. "They expect Lillie to return, but that will not happen any time soon. And the Ventrue have given their support to Roman."
"I do not know him."
"He is connected to the Luna family by happenstance."
"But is he a leader?"
"I do not know. Julian spent time with him on occasion, but nothing to any great extent." Daedalus then turned to a mantel clock on a shelf along one wall. "Jesse will soon bring the morning newspaper to me."
Camilla smiled. "Newspaper? You have taken to reading about human events?"
"The events are Kindred events. The more I know what the humans know, the better my decision."
"I do not know yet."
Caitlin had written another story on the recent events around The Haven. The story headline read: "Industrialist Disappears. Another Jimmy Hoffa?"
The morning paper article read:
What do a nightclub owner and a powerful industrialist have in common? They were lovers. They both disappeared under mysterious circumstances right after the brutal attack on the nightclub. They were both associated with underworld elements."
Daedalus didn't read any further. The humans would be asking more questions about Julian's mansion and its staff.
"The words disturb you," Camilla remarked.
"I expect the humans will want access to Julian's study and house."
Daedalus slumped. "The issue will not go away."
"Conceal yourself. Come with the other Nosferatu and remain neutral."
"I may be Nosferatu but having known and understood Julian, I can never be neutral."
The door at the head of the stairs squeaked open. Footfall on the plank steps announced someone in a rush.
"Daedalus?" It was Jesse. "Cameron has called a Conclave."
"How can he? There are no Primogens."
Jesse moved between Daedalus and the single lamp lit against the dark of the chamber. The corona played around his tall silhouette. "He plans to appoint them."
"Where is this meeting and when?"
"At the warehouse. Eddie's old place along the docks. Tonight at 10:00 p.m."
"We should have burned that place when Lillie killed Eddie the night he tried to take the Princehood after he thought the Assamite he'd hire had killed Julian."
"Cameron is attempting the same."
"He will fail."
"Shall I drive you there?"
Daedalus rose. "Yes, but get the Gangrels together as soon as you can. Assemble them here shortly after sundown. They are going to appoint you Primogen."
Jesse pressed his fingers to his chest. His head ducked a little. The whites of his eyes widened. "Me? You want them to appoint me? You know that no one can dictate to the Gangrels."
"You are the best qualified. You have access to resources here. Cash trusts you."
"What about the Toreador?"
"Contact Jae. As for the Ventrue, contact Dr. Lochak. Ask them to assemble the strongest among their clans here by 8:00 p.m. I want the Gangrels to have appointed you Primogen by the time they assemble. With the Gangrels finally taking a step, the others will as well. We have stalled Cameron long enough. Now, please see to it."
Jesse nodded and stepped toward the stairs. Then, mid-stride, he paused. He turned back and smiled. "You sound like a Prince."
Scattered like toys, cars and motorcycles filled the mansion courtyard. Kindred milled about the gardens; they strolled along the bluff overlooking the bay. Within the mansion, the assembly had begun.
Daedalus stood behind a chair at the side of the Conclave table. Roman Lochak sat across from him with two other Ventrue sire by Archon. One was Arkady Ivanov, an importer trading in eastern European goods. Archon had mentioned him several times in connection with some special item Julian had wanted. Arkady was resourceful and wealthy with solid connections around the world. He was also dark, tall, and solid, like Julian, with a fine face that concealed thoughts well.
The other was Jonas Webster, a stout black man with rich mahogany skin that glowed in the room light, with thick black hair that hugged his scalp and flickered electric blue when he turned his head. His chocolate eyes studied each Kindred in the room. His full lips pressed tight as if holding back some word that might be left best unsaid. Jonas had long been Julian's eyes and ears in the courts. As a judge, he had been able to refuse various warrants that Frank Kohanek had tried to obtain. He now kept the police from searching the grounds. For a while, at least. One judge could not stem a tide that was destined to overtake all in its path. The judge had taken a great risk visiting the Luna mansion.
Daedalus saw that the Venture were represented well.
The Toreador were another matter. Only one appeared, and it was not Jae Chong. It was Dakota Cole. Daedalus did not know her. He watched her as she engaged Jesse and another Gangrel in conversation. Her sandy hair spilled around her head and onto her shoulders in an unruly cascade that flowed with every movement of her head back and forth between the two Gangrels on either side of her. Her lips glowed peach, gently tinted and glossy. Her eyes were green with an abundance of lashes that drew attention. Her thick deep laugh added more allure to her exotic appearance. As did the swell of her breasts under the gauzy white blouse that set off the dark blue of her suit. She toyed with a lapel now and then, confidence glowing all through her.
With one last glance around the table, Daedalus took stock of each Kindred present all along both sides of the table. No one sat at its head. At last, Daedalus motioned his hand. The room fell silent. Still standing, he said, "The Brujah Primogen has been eager to see that the city has a new Prince."
A low buzz ran around the table. In all the chaos, all clans but the Nosferatu and Brujah had stalled his efforts, some by holding on to their absent Primogens, some by refusing the pressure to chose, pressure that comes from a mere Primogen and not a Prince.
"But he acts like he's Prince," Jonas Webster remarked.
"He believes he will take the Princehood, yes." Daedalus then put his hands behind his back and started a slow walk around the table. "This night, the Gangrels have selected a new Primogen. Jesse Corrigan."
Eyes turned to Jesse.
"I continue to represent the Nosferatu. The Ventrue and Toreador must make their choices this very night, this very hour." He turned to Dakota Cole. "Have the Toreador chosen you as Primogen?"
She looked to the table then back to Daedalus. "No. I was told to be here and sit with the other Toreador to make the decision."
"Because there are no others, you may assume the position of Primogen for your clan."
She stood. "But I don't want it. It belongs to Lillie"
Daedalus then growled, impatience baring his teeth. "Tonight, it is yours. Lillie is not here. What you do with it tomorrow is up to you, Toreador." As Dakota lowered herself back into her chair, he turned to the Ventrue at the table. "Do you need more time to make your choice?"
Roman was the first to speak. "I support Jonas Webster as Primogen."
The judge immediately lifted his hand. "I have too high a profile for such responsibility. I support either Dr. Lochak or Mr. Ivanov."
Daedalus turned to the two Ventrue. "You have the hour to choose."
"I support Arkady," Roman quickly spoke up. "I am a healer, not a leader. Arkady has skill in negotiation."
"Arkady?" Daedalus asked.
"It is done, then."
Three cars moved down the dark street. At the street's end, the wharf stretched out with the bay a flat plain of glittering ripples. The buildings stood silent, like dark canyon walls. The street was dim with a broken lamp on the corner and only the city glow to light the night. One by one, the cars parked along the sidewalk outside the dock workers building. One by one, the doors opened with drivers running to the rear doors to open them. One by one the Primogens stepped from the cars and gathered at the tiny door to the building. They enclosed Daedalus.
The door opened, cutting the night with a spear of light. Led into a small hallway, the group climbed stairs to the second floor offices, where Cameron awaited them.
Cameron was impeccable in manner and dress. His brown hair was neatly trimmed. His face, clean-shaven. Medium in build, he filled out his dark gray suit well. The suit itself had that tailored look, with no creases and a polished sheen. But what struck people most about Cameron were his eyes. They had no distinct color, only character, and that character betrayed what went on behind them. Cameron's eyes possessed that sleepy look. Cameron was anything but. His smile, too, was deceptive. It lifted his cheeks, giving them a boyish roundness. Still, the lips were flat and expressionless.
He sat at his wide desk. Its glass top was surprisingly uncluttered, with only a vase of mixed flowers sitting at one corner. It was not a desk often used. He leaned into the desk, placing his folded hands in the center.
"So," he said, his voice smooth and low, clear with its mesmerizing softness, "the clans have decided upon their leaders. Good." He drew out the word, then gesturing to the seats at a conference table, he added, "Shall we begin?"
As his guests took their seats at the table, Cameron rose from his desk and walked around to the table, where he perched on its end, steadying himself with one foot on the floor. .
Daedalus sat between Jesse and Arkady. Dakota sat alone on the other side. Cameron leaned toward her.
"Our Toreador." He smiled. "And she is a match for our Lillie."
Damn Toreador, Daedalus mumbled mentally, wishing Lillie were present. She may have been vain and jealous, but she was clever and recognized an obsequious remark when she heard it.
Cameron passed his attention to the new Ventrue Primogen. "Mr. Ivanov. Perhaps we can do business soon. I have need for a complete redecoration on this office. It's far too Spartan, very much like Eddie. I was thinking of something with an Old World flair. Can you be of assistance in that regard?"
"I am sure I can, " Arkady replied.
Daedalus looked for a warble in Arkday's voice, a falter, anything that would suggest a weakness. There was none. In fact, there was an edge of confidence. The Ventrue had chosen well.
"When can you come by my office?" Cameron asked.
"It would be more suitable for you to come to mine. You can browse the inventory and give me some guidance so that I might contact my overseas representatives for the items you seek."
Good, Daedalus thought. Avoid Cameron's domain as much as possible.
The Brujah Primogen smiled with his deceptive charm. "And Jesse. Jesse Corrigan." Cameron strolled behind the new Gangrel Primogen. "What can I say? You're Julian's man to the bone, to the blood, even if you are…Gangrel." He sneered the final word. "Julian's dead." Cameron then inhaled and blurted a little oh. After a pause, he continued. "But you knew that didn't you? His newspaper doesn't know. The police don't know. I bet his other corporations don't know. They all think he's just missing" Cameron then leaned his chin over Jesse's shoulder.
Jesse made no move, not even a flinch that the Brujah dared to encroach and come so near.
"But you know," Cameron finally added.
Daedalus had had enough. "Cameron. You brought us here under a threat to choose Primogens for the clans that had lost theirs."
Cameron drew back and pressed one hand against his chest. "Did I?"
"It is very clear that you did, so please honor those who have come to meet you, and not belittle them."
"Very well, " the Brujah Primogen said, strolling to the head of the table. "The city needs a new Prince. We have already seen that the Ventrue from Archon to Julian weakened the Kindred. They consorted with humans. They endangered The Masquerade. Julian couldn't even control his Childe Alexandra Serres. She took a human lover -- this Frank Kohanek. She told him of Kindred, of The Masquerade, and Julian allowed the human to live with this knowledge."
Arkady interrupted. "These are old issues, Cameron."
"I would expect that from a Venture: defending the status quo, no matter how decadent, so matter how it endangered us."
"I agree with Arkady," Daedalus added.
Cameron turned to the Nosferatu. "And you were the Ventrue Prince's Enforcer. I would expect the same from you." He then turned on Jesse. "And you, Gangrel." His eyes swept the faces at the table. "Your all Julian's, all except -- " He flung his attention to Dakota. "-- except Ms Dakota Cole here. Are you your own woman, Ms Cole? Or do you see what is happening? Do you see the prejudice that the clans have built? They blindly align with the Venture even to the detriment of The Masquerade."
"Well, uh," Dakota stammered. "I never thought of it that way. We prospered under Julian, and .--"
Cameron slammed his hand on the table. "The Brujah did not prosper!" His breathing rasped. His nostrils flared.
Daedalus stood. "I, for one, will not sit here and be railed against." The instant he caught Jesse following his lead, he flung the Gangrel an expression that ordered him to remain seated and silent.
Cameron quickly quieted himself. He tilted his head to one side and raised one hand as if in apology. "I take note that I am being unfair."
"Then get on with the reasons why we should grant you the Princehood." Daedalus returned to his chair.
"Me?" Cameron let go a light laugh. "You think I seek the Princehood?"
"We are not stupid," Daedalus retorted. "Do not insult us any further. You seek the Princehood. I vote nay."
"As do I," Jesse added.
"And me," said Arkady.
There was a pause before Dakota responded. "I vote nay, too."
The air went solid. In fact, it tightened around everyone. No one breathed. No one moved, especially Cameron. A chair creaked as someone shifted weight.
"Very well," Cameron finally said. "I stated that the city needs a Prince. It does. Who shall it be?"
Daedalus answered. "Tonight is not a good night for making a decision of such import. I sense extreme unease and even animosity."
"Then when will be a good night?" Cameron sneered.
"Allow the new Primogens time with their clans. A fortnight."
Cameron rolled his eyes. "And how long is a fortnight?"
"Why don't we make it two weeks instead?" Dakota suggested.
Jesse awoke Daedalus with the morning newspaper. The story headline read:
"Police Lose Body From Morgue"
The story read:
"San Francisco police admit that the body of Sonny Toussaint, the SFPD detective found slain in a nightclub two weeks ago, has disappeared from the morgue. His partner Frank Kohanek has also disappeared and is wanted for questioning, although he is not a suspect in the theft.
"But even more interesting is the fact that the two detectives were investigating missing industrialist Julian Luna for connections to organized crime, and for his own possible role as a crime boss.
"Did detectives Kohanek and Toussaint find the evidence linking Julian Luna and the mob? Did Luna's enemies destroy every possible connection to him, including his lover Lillie Langtry, including the detectives who were investigating him? The bigger question may be: What did the detectives uncover that set off a firestorm of retaliation?
"This story has more twists than a Hitchcock movie."
Once again, Daedalus felt the police and investigators coming closer to the mansion grounds. Setting the paper on the table beside his bed, he turned to Jesse. "It is time we examine Julian's study. We must remove or destroy anything that endangers The Masquerade."
"I doubt that Julian kept anything suspicious," Jesse said. "I am more concerned for you."
"I can go to Camilla if need be." Daedalus then glanced around the chamber, to the low raftered ceiling, to his paintings, to his furniture that made a cozy spot within the subterranean room, to all the objects and mementoes he had collected over the long years. "Nosferatu have lived here since the settlers first came to this region. It was merely a cavern at one time, but it has been civilized over the decades. It has never known humans."
"There is no reason why you cannot return after the humans have left."
Daedalus nodded. "I know." He then rose from the bed and shook out his long white gown. "It's time we examined Julian's study."
Julian's study was a modest room where a man could think, contemplate, and enjoy long moments of quiet. Its white walls brightened it from one end to the other. A fireplace graced one end and two stuffed chairs sat opposite one another across the hearth. Tall book cases ran along one long wall; a sideboard with brandy and glasses stood centered on the other. Julian's desk sat in the middle of the room. It was a large desk, dark cherry with leather inlay and brass fittings. Two leather chairs faced it and Daedalus recalls many moments with Julian in this room, with Julian behind his desk, with Daedalus comfortable in one of the chairs facing him.
The room had not been entered since that night. The final words spoken here had been words of anger. It was here that Julian and Sonny had argued.
When Jesse opened the door, he asked, "Would you like time alone?"
Daedalus shook his head. "No. I may need your keen eye as we examine the room. You may detect something that I might think insignificant." He then glanced about. "The desk is quite a mess. Let's start there."
They walked straight to the desk then stopped. The room chilled. The Nosferatu and the Gangrel stared upon the desk. If anything would have drawn inquisitive eyes to Kindred -- if anything would have exposed The Masquerade, setting humans to hunt Kindred, it was what lay scattered across the desktop.
Dozens of black and white photographs spread out like a mosaic across the polished wood and the leather blotter.
Jesse snatched one and pressed a finger to it. "It's a picture of the Las Vegas Brujah Primogen." The photograph showed a man standing next to a taxi cab. There were suitcases near his feet.
Disbelief creased Daedalus' brow. "What? When was he here? Julian would have known. I would have been informed."
Jesse peered closer at the image. "It's not San Francisco," he said. "Look." He pointed to the cab. "It's Sky Cab. That's Los Angeles."
"Cyrus' city," Daedalus responded. He then flipped through the stack only to notice something written on the back of one photograph. It read: Boston Apr 27 #45. He looked at another, then another. Each had a city, date, and code written on the back. Drawing one of the photos closer, Daedalus growled again.
Jesse looked to him. "What is it?"
"It's the Brujah Primogen from Seattle," Daedalus explained. "I don't know the woman with him."
"What's written on the back?"
"LA, March 3, Number 23. Are they all from LA?"
Jesse snatched more photos and read the back of each. "No. This one says it was taken in New Orleans on April 28. Who is it?" He handed the photo to Daedalus.
"Jacques Dumont, the Brujah Primogen in New Orleans."
"And this? It says it was taken in Toronto on April 3 #52."
Daedalus studied the picture. "That's Jacques Dumont again, but I don't know either the man or the woman. I suspect that they are Brujah as well. All of these photographs seem to be of Brujah."
"Not all," Jesse mumbled staring at a photograph that had been torn nearly in half. He presented it to Daedalus. On the opposite sides of the tear were Cameron and Lillie. They were talking to one another, oblivious of the camera.
Daedalus took a moment to examine the picture, then he smiled. "This was taken last winter at The Haven. I remember the occasion. It was February 12. She was celebrating her death as noted by her biographers. She throws that party every year."
"Here's another of her. Alone. Dated April 8."
"Does it have a number on the back?"
Jesse flipped the photograph over. "Yes."
It was Daedalus' turn to mumble. "Then that photograph is part of the puzzle."
"What are these numbers? A sequence? A reference?"
Daedalus shrugged. "Excellent guesses. My question is: Why would Julian have all these photographs?" He panned the mess across the desk. "How did Julian get them?"
"Do you think he knew Brujah hostilities were about to break out?"
"No. He would have told me. He would have warned Cash. He would have called Cameron in and questioned him."
Jesse shuffled through the glossies. "Paris," he stated. "Stuttgart. Kansas City." He flipped his attention to Daedalus. "They're from all over the globe. And except for Lillie, they all appear to be Brujah, if you've identified most of what we've seen as Brujah."
Daedalus sank into the chair in front of Julian's great desk. "Why would Julian keep this from me?"
Jesse then went to the desk and opened the drawers. "He has to have some kind of notes on these. He couldn't possibly keep track or even make sense of it."
"Maybe he was waiting for something," Daedalus mumbled more to himself than to share a thought.
Meanwhile, Jesse rifled through the drawers, banging wood against wood, sifting through papers and pens and clips and other desk paraphernalia.
"Why would he share all this with Sonny and not with me?" Daedalus continued. "The two of them were in here together. Sonny must have seen what Julian had on his desk."
"Nothing," Jesse sighed, leaning back in Julian's chair. He then turned his attention to a large landscape on the wall over the sideboard. "Maybe there's something in the safe."
Daedalus walked to the painting and removed it from the wall. After opening the wall safe, he rummaged through the contents, finding only certificates, some cash, and a small silver box, flecked with tarnish and age. He held the box in one hand and sighed. A great wave of regret passed over him, maybe even shame.
Jesse peered over his shoulder. "What is it?"
"Evelyn's locket and a lock of her hair."
"Oh god, Daedalus," Jesse said. "We should have buried that with him."
Daedalus sighed, "Perhaps, but I forgot about this for a reason, I suppose. It belongs to Sasha now."
"Sasha doesn't have a sentimental bone in her body."
"She will…someday." Daedalus returned the box to the safe. "There's nothing in the safe either."
Jesse then examined the sideboard, pulling out drawers, opening the small cabinets on either end, finding only cloths, napkins, corkscrews, and other utensils.
Daedalus then saw it -- an upturned potted plant in the corner. Soil dotted the floor. The thick green leaves splayed out like a fan against the edge of the rug. Rushing to the corner, he knew he would find the one something that could help him make sense of what lay scattered over Julian's desk. And there it was -- a small black notebook thrown on the floor, its pages crumpled under its bent spine. Picking the notebook up, he immediately started flipping through the pages. "It's Sonny's," he whispered. Then he stared at Jesse. "This notebook is Sonny's." He threw his gaze to Julian's desk. "The photographs are Sonny's, not Julian's."
"Why would Julian ask Sonny to do all this?"
"Perhaps he didn't."
"Sonny did all this on his own?"
"It is not something that Julian would have undertaken without consulting me." Daedalus sank deeper into his thoughts, finally coming to some notion of why Sonny and Julian argued. He turned to Jesse. "It was not an honorable thing that Sonny did. It was something that would have angered Julian greatly that he was not consulted or advised. Look -- the scatter of photographs on the desk. The torn picture of Lillie. The notebook flung into a corner. Julian was angry."
"Where did Sonny get them?"
Daedalus ran his fingers over the hand-written notes inside the notebook. "We'll find our answers in here. Look --" He jabbed his finger to a page entry. "A reference number. See? I assume one of those photographs refers to the note here."
"I have an idea." Jesse dashed to Julian's desk and collected all the photographs. "These have to tie to that notebook. I'll put them in order by reference number. We'll see what they match in the notebook."
Daedalus flipped a few more pages then remarked, "No, put them in date order. We can follow the notebook. It is organized by date with multiple notes on some of the dates. It appears that Sonny entered the notes to explain some photograph taken on that date."
The stack of photos in hand, Jesse rushed to the other end of the room to the low table between the chairs in front of the fireplace. Daedalus then dragged another low table from the wall and added it to the other. Together, the two Primogens turned the photos face down and sorted them by date. When finally done, they went through them, matching Sonny's notes.
"The first one is of Cameron coming out of The Haven," Jesse said. "There's nothing remarkable about that. The date says January 4 in San Francisco. The number is 2," Jesse remarked. "What's in the notebook?"
"It says that Cameron left The Haven after closing."
The two exchanged a glance. "After closing," Daedalus repeated. "I'd say that was a little remarkable. I wonder what Julian would have had to say."
Jesse looked long and hard at the next photograph. Finally, he spoke, "It's Cyrus with Cameron." He flipped the photo over and read: "Santa Monica, Jan 13. #14." He snapped his attention to Daedalus. "Cameron left San Francisco and went to LA."
Daedalus scanned the notebook. "Sonny writes that Cameron and Cyrus met alone in Santa Monica. They did not go to Cyrus's house or offices in LA. He goes on to say that Cameron met Cyrus at an auction house and that Cliff said they argued."
"Who's Cliff?" Jesse asked.
"Must be someone Sonny asked to watch Cyrus in LA."
"Or maybe it was Cameron he had under surveillance."
Daedalus nodded. "Yes, that makes more sense. Cameron never hid the fact that he hated Sonny for Sonny's role in deceiving Eddie Fiori. Sonny's pretense gave Eddie the confidence to make grave errors in judgment, errors that cost him his life. I think Sonny knew Cameron had gone to LA and had him followed."
"Well, maybe that's what got Sonny started. He followed Cameron around. I bet he started tailing Cameron then found that Cameron was meeting with the Prince of LA. Then maybe his investigator in LA noticed that other Brujah Primogens started showing up and reported it to Sonny just in case Sonny might be interested."
"That is certainly plausible. Sonny might have been curious and cautious enough to ask that other Ventrue in various cities pay close attention to the local Brujah Primogens."
Jesse shoved another photograph over to Daedalus. "OK. Let's go through these. Here's the one from Paris. The date is March 8 and the number is 24. Is there an entry for it in the notebook?"
Daedalus flipped through the pages. "Here is what Sonny wrote: 'Brussels BP meets Paris BP in Paris. Hotel de Cote'. That's all. I assume that BP means Brujah Primogen. Another note says that the Geneva BP joins them later."
Jesse then turned over another photo, also marked as taken in LA. " Do you know the men waiting outside the cab?"
Daedalus leaned over and studied it. His brows creased. "The Brujah Primogen from New York with the Boston Primogen. Why would they come all the way to LA?"
"LA got very busy as far as Kindred were concerned. I wonder if Sonny had any real suspicions of something going down or was just fishing. I mean look -- Cameron goes to LA out of the blue, and argues with Cyrus, then all these other Brujah show up in LA, and within a month, Brujah are jamming together all over the world."
"Interesting that you should speculate," Daedalus remarked flipping through the notebook again. "It appears that Sonny back-dated his notes for January."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't think he started keeping notes until later. Look" Daedalus flipped ahead in the notebook. "The notes are much more detailed after February. The activity accelerates in March and April."
"What did Sonny know?"
"I think he was trying to figure out what he had." Daedalus raised his hand for silence and collected his thoughts. "We are racing from one speculation to another. Sonny may not have known anything. He did not have our hindsight. It's here. The answer is here somewhere."
Jesse looked to the stack of date-arranged photographs. "They start with a photo of Cameron in January and end in April in Hong Kong. We have a good picture of what happened. Brujah all over the world met at centralized locations. They worked out plans to assassinate Princes and take over cities."
"I wonder if they did," Daedalus murmured. "There have been no assassinations outside North America. None in Europe. None in Africa. None in Asia or anywhere else. Only North America."
"The element of surprise is gone. There will be no more assassinations. Julian was the first of only a few, and although there have been takeovers, the killings have ceased." Daedalus returned to Sonny's notebook, flipping the narrow pages, running his long nail down the entries. Still reading, he said, "What I find to be most interesting is not so much the contents of Sonny's notes, but what is missing."
"I don't understand."
Daedalus gestured toward the photos. "Please retrieve the photographs for January 28, March 3, and April 30." He waited until Jesse had complied then asked, "What do you have?"
Jesse replied, "Three photos of the Las Vegas Brujah Primogen in LA. Three of another man, probably a Brujah Primogen, and two of them both with yet another man. I don't know who they are. The reference number is 41. What did Sonny write in his notebook?"
Daedalus said, "That is not important right now. Just keep their faces in mind," and returned to the notebook. "Now retrieve photographs for January 26, March 10, and April 28. Tell me what they are."
"They're all of the same people. The exact same people that we just looked at."
Daedalus nodded. "In LA."
"Yes. Once again -- LA."
"Now grab all the photographs for April 18."
"All from Paris."
"All from Hong Kong. Daedalus, do you see a pattern?"
"No, I see panic."
Daedalus and Jesse then separated the photographs into these batches of meetings until eight photos remained unassigned. The two men stared at the face of the one man in all eight -- Cameron. There was Cameron in and stepping out of The Haven. There was Cameron meeting Cyrus in Santa Monica in January. There was Cameron surrounded by his Brujah. And there were several of Cameron with his arm around Lillie. There was an angry red circle marked around Lillie in all of them.
After a long pause, Jesse remarked, "Cameron didn't go to any of these meetings."
"I am beginning to suspect that the meetings were about Cameron."
"What's the last entry in Sonny's notebook?"
After a moment, Daedalus had the answer. "May 28."
"That's the day before…" Jesse faltered. "Before…"
"More importantly, though -- listen to what Sonny wrote: 'The Toreador witch has entwined Julian once again. There are no Eddies now. There are no Assamites, but there is Cameron.'"
Daedalus slammed the notebook shut. "Oh my!"
"Sonny's work goes back to something else -- to Lillie and Julian. Sonny -- he was watching Lillie! He never trusted her after Eddie and the Assamite. Sonny must have been thinking that Lillie could turn on Julian with Cameron just like she turned on him with Eddie. She was his initial target. Then came Cameron. But Sonny uncovered something he couldn't imagine possible. Sonny knew the Brujah were planning something. He told Julian, and he tried to tie in Lillie." Daedalus sank back in his chair. "The one night that Julian would not take the time to convince Sonny otherwise, to listen, to assess all this information -- that was the night Sonny presented all this information on him." He turned to Jesse. "It was very bad timing. Julian had purchased a new club for Lillie, one he wanted to own himself. It was a New Orleans jazz club. It was a surprise, and he was to present her with the news that night. He was so pleased with the acquisition."
"So he put Sonny off and they argued."
"I suspect so, and I imagine Julian thought he would have 'tomorrow' to go over what Sonny presented, after his anger subsided." Daedalus then turned his attention to the array of photographs splayed out over the two tables. "It is a good assumption that Sonny and Julian argued over the photographs and that Sonny tried to link Lillie to Cameron."
"But it all seems to really start with Cyrus. It seems that he called many meetings. Cameron met with him only once and only privately." Jesse looked hard at Daedalus. "They argued and never met again."
"Everywhere else, the Brujah congregated once, hardly long or organized enough to plot a wave of assassinations."
"What were they doing?"
"I don't know. I suspect it was not plotting death. I do suspect, however, that they started out planning to renegotiate various Princehoods. Cyrus is a negotiator; he can actually compromise, but he failed with Eddie, and he seems to have failed with Cameron as well. What are all the Brujah in all these meetings? I suspect that they are trying to avoid the hostilities that Cameron eventually unleashed."
"Something went wrong."
"Cameron went wrong. And Cyrus feared him."
"What do we do about it?"
"Wait? We need to confront Cameron with this?"
"With what? Photographs taken under questionable and dishonorable circumstances?" Daedalus paused. He lowered his head. After a moment, he spoke once again, his voice low and muted. "To mention these photographs would be to tarnish Julian's legacy. There will be a tendency to associate him with them. No one can know what Sonny has done. No one."
Jesse responded, his voice almost a hush. "I understand. But what do we do with them?"
A silence fell over the room, and Daedalus was grateful that Jesse didn't question him. The slightest objection would tempt him to preserve Sonny's work. "Take it all to the fireplace," he finally ordered. "Burn it until even the ash is ash."
The two men locked gazes. An understanding passed between them. Cameron was going to pay.
By the time the police arrived armed with a search warrant, Julian's home looked like the mansion of a missing wealthy industrialist. Daedalus found sanctuary in Camilla's haven, and he found himself enjoying his time with her.
Her underground chambers were very much like Daedalus' with the scent of everything ancient, with a low glow that gave comfort but very little light. Lighting a cigarette, he sank back into a large overstuffed chair. Camilla sat across from him in a plain wooden rocker. Her feet planted on the floor, her hands draped over the rocker arms, she moved back and forth in a slow lazy rhythm.
"They will be finished rummaging around soon," she remarked, "and eventually they will forget Julian Luna."
With a long jetted exhale of smoke, Daedalus responded, "Not if Caitlin Byrne keeps publishing those speculations of hers."
"Reading human newspapers is not something I would endeavor to do."
"Nor I, except that Jesse brings them to me of late."
Camilla smiled. "The baby walked last night."
Daedalus smiled back. "How quickly you can change the subject. You've grown very attached to this human child."
"Children come from Nature. It is up to all of Nature's beings to care for the young, even Kindred."
"Did he know you again?"
She beamed. "He did. He walked to his window, but is far too tiny to reach the sill. One day, he will know me as his imaginary friend."
"And what of Caitlin?"
"A sadness has come over her."
"It will pass."
"As it should." She then stopped rocking. "And what of you, Daedalus?"
"I have my thoughts to concern me."
"Is it true that Cameron is close to Princehood?"
"That depends on if you are Brujah."
"He must not be Prince."
"Since when do you take an interest?"
"Since Cameron seeks it."
Daedalus couldn't help another smile. "You have never shown such interest."
"Cameron is not worthy. He slew Julian. I had no argument with Julian even though he slew Goth. Goth had gone mad with his compulsion to bring back the barbarity and old ways. Julian had no choice but to take him into combat and kill him. But Julian's death at Cameron's hands was despicable. Cameron is insane with vengeance over some perceived wrong done him."
"I think he is quite sane."
"Cameron is loyal to his clan, and he is cold, he is calculating, he is cruel. He is not, however, insane, and you are right -- he should not be Prince."
"What are you to do?"
"I don't know."
"Can I help?"
"I don't know that either." Daedalus then lurched forward. "No. There is something you can do. In fact, only you can do it." He let her dwell on that comment before continuing. "When the time comes, Cameron will destroy anything that Julian has touched, including the human Caitlin."
Camilla nodded. "I will protect her."
"That is what you must do."
"Soon, I imagine. Cameron has already demonstrated he lacks patience and restraint."
When a long pause thickened the room, Camilla stated, "There is something else."
His voice grim, Daedalus replied. "He lacks honor."
"Then what's to do?"