Home > Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(15)

Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(15)
Author: Anne Rice

Again, she broke off.

“You’re talking about magnetic imaging,” I said, “CAT scans, all of it.”

“Yes, exactly,” said Jesse.

“I should have known. And all these years, I’ve been afraid for Fareed, afraid that she’d done away with him, blasted him and his staff off the planet.”

“And how could she have done that with Seth protecting Fareed?” asked David. “When you met Fareed, surely you met Seth.”

“She might have made a considerable dent in operations,” I said. “She could have burned them both out. But you’re saying”—I looked at Jesse—“you’re saying, they’re all friends.”

“Allies,” said Jesse.

“Did Mekare submit to the tests?”

“Completely,” said Jesse. “Meekly. Mekare has never balked at anything that I was ever aware of. Nothing. And so they did the tests. There were these physician fledglings with them, and Seth was always working with Fareed. It was frightening to me to meet Seth. It was frightening to Khayman to meet him. Khayman had known Seth when Seth had been a human child. When Seth had been the Crown Prince of Kemet. Sometime after the Blood came into Akasha, she’d sent Seth away. Khayman had never had any knowledge of Seth being made into a blood drinker. He feared him, feared some old blood tie between mother and son that he said might be more powerful than our Blood. Khayman didn’t care for anything that was happening, for these scientists taking tissue samples and X-rays, and sitting around with Maharet until early morning, discussing all the properties of our bodies, the properties of the force that makes us what we are.”

“I’ve given up on scientific language,” I said. “I never thought I’d need it. And now I wish I had been there, and understood everything they’d said.” But this wasn’t entirely true. I’d left Fareed and Seth of my own accord years ago when I might have asked to remain indefinitely. I’d fled from the intensity of both of them and what they might discover about us.

“So what the Hell was the upshot of all of it?” I said suddenly, unable to contain myself. “What the Hell did they find out?”

“They said Mekare was mindless,” said Jesse. “They said the brain in her head was atrophied. They said there was so little indication of brain activity that she was like a human in a coma, kept alive by the brain stem alone. Apparently she’d been entombed so long, possibly in a cave, no one knew, that even her sight had been affected. The powerful Blood has actually hardened the atrophied tissue over time. I couldn’t fathom it. Of course they took some three nights to say this with incredible disclaimers, qualifiers, and tangents, but that was the gist.”

“And what about the other?” I asked.

“What other?” Jesse said.

I glanced at David and then back at her. They both appeared sublimely puzzled. This surprised me.

“What about the Sacred Core?” I asked.

Jesse didn’t respond.

“So what you’re asking is,” David interjected, “could these various diagnostic instruments detect the Sacred Core?”

“Well, of course that’s what I’m asking. Good grief. Fareed had the Mother in his clutches, didn’t he? You don’t think Fareed would be looking for evidence of a parasite inside her with some sort of cerebral activity of its own?”

They continued to stare at me as if I were mad.

“Fareed told me,” I went on, “that this thing, Amel, was a creature just as we are creatures, that it has cellular life, boundaries, is knowable. Fareed made all this clear to me. I simply couldn’t understand all his deductions, but he made it clear that he was obsessed with the physical properties of the Sacred Core.”

Oh, why hadn’t I listened more? Why had I been so pessimistic about the future of Fareed? Why did I have such a grim apocalyptic mind-set?

“Well, if he detected anything,” said Jesse, “I heard nothing of it.” She reflected for a long moment, and then asked: “What about you?”

“What about me when?”

“When you drank from Akasha,” she pushed gently. “When you held her in your arms. Did you hear anything, detect anything? You were in direct contact with the Sacred Core.”

I shook my head. “No, nothing that I could identify. She showed me things, visions, but they all came from her, always from her. As far as I know, from her.” But I had to admit, that was an interesting question.

“I’m no Fareed,” I muttered. “I had only the vaguest and most religious ideas, I confess, about the Sacred Core.”

My mind traveled back and back to my memories of Maharet describing the genesis of the vampires. Amel had gone into the Mother and then Amel was no more. Or so the spirits had told Maharet. This thing that was Amel, invisible yet huge, was now diffused amongst more blood drinkers than ever before in history. It was a root planted in the earth from which myriad plants have sprung so that the root has lost its shape, its boundaries, its “rootness.”

Even after all these years, I didn’t like to speak of that intimacy with Akasha, being the Queen’s lover, drinking her thick and viscid and magnificent blood. I didn’t like to think of her dark eyes, and shining white skin, her curling smile. What a face, what a picture of innocence in one who would conquer the human world, in one who wanted to be the Queen of Heaven.

“And Mekare,” I said. “Have you never drunk from her?” I asked.

Jesse regarded me again for a long moment as if I’d said something shocking and unpleasant and then she simply shook her head. “I’m not aware that anyone has ever approached her for her blood. I’ve never seen Maharet drink Mekare’s blood or offer her blood to Mekare. I’m not sure they’d ever do such a thing, or ever did—that is, after the very first encounter.”

“I have a deep suspicion that if anyone ever did try to drink her blood,” said David, “she’d regard it as vile and she’d destroy that person, perhaps in some crude way, as with her fist.”

Her fist. The six-thousand-year-old fist. Something to consider. A six-thousand-year-old immortal could destroy this hotel with her fist if she had a mind to do it, and the time.

Mekare had destroyed Akasha in a crude and simple way, that was certain, throwing her back against a plate-glass window with such force that she broke the glass. I saw that again, saw that great jagged sheet descending like the blade of a guillotine to sever her head. But I hadn’t seen everything. Perhaps nobody really had except Maharet. How had the skull of Akasha been broken? Ah, the mystery of it: the combination of vulnerability and overwhelming strength.

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