Home > Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(9)

Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(9)
Author: Anne Rice

A dark chill ran through me. For a long time I couldn’t speak, couldn’t think.

“Her son?” I finally whispered.

“I do not hate them,” he said. “I never wanted even in those times to fight them, really. I was a healer. I did not ask for the Blood. Indeed I begged my mother to spare me, but you know what she was. You know how she would be obeyed. You know as well as anyone from those times knows those things. And she brought me into the Blood. And as I said, I do not fear those who fought against her. I am as strong as they are.”

I remained in awe. I could see in him now a resemblance to her, see it in the symmetry of his features, the special curve of his lips. But I couldn’t sense her in him at all.

“As a healer, I traveled the world in my human life,” he said, responding to me, to my thoughts. His eyes were gentle. “I sought to learn all I could in the cities of the two rivers; I went far into the northern forests. I wanted to learn, to understand, to know, to bring back with me great healers to Egypt. My mother had no use for such things. She was convinced of her own divinity and blind to the miracles of the natural world.”

How well I understood.

It was time for me to be taking my leave. How long he could withstand the coming dawn, I didn’t know. But I was about spent, and it was time to seek shelter.

“I thank you for welcoming me here,” I said.

“You come to us anytime that you wish,” he said. He gave me his hand. I stared into his eyes, and I felt strongly again that I did see his resemblance to Akasha, though she had been far more delicate, far more conventionally beautiful. He had a fierce and cold light in his eyes.

He smiled.

“I wish I had something to give you,” I said. “I wish I had something to offer you in return.”

“Oh, but you gave us much.”

“What? Those samples?” I scoffed. “I meant hospitality, warmth, something. I am passing through. I’ve been passing through for the longest time.”

“You did give us both something else,” he said. “Though you do not know it.”


“From your mind we learned that what you wrote of the Queen of the Damned was true. We had to know if you described truthfully what you saw when my mother died. You see, we could not entirely fathom it. It is not so easy to decapitate one so powerful. We are so strong. Surely you know this.”

“Well, yes, but even the oldest flesh can be pierced, sliced.” I stopped. I swallowed. I couldn’t speak of this in such a crude and unfeeling way. I couldn’t think of that spectacle again—her severed head, and the body, the body struggling to get to the head, arms reaching.

“And now you do know,” I said. I took a deep breath and banished all that from my mind. “I described it precisely.”

He nodded. A dark shadow passed over his face. “We can always be dispatched in that way,” he said. He narrowed his eyes as if reflecting. “Decapitation. Surer than immolation when we’re speaking of the ancient ones, of the most ancient.…”

A silence fell between us.

“I loved her, you know,” I said. “I loved her.”

“Yes, I do know,” he said, “and, you see, I did not. And so this doesn’t matter to me very much. What matters much more is that I love you.”

I was deeply moved. But I couldn’t find words to say what I wanted so much to say. I put my arms around him, and kissed him.

“We’ll see each other again,” I said.

“Yes, that’s my devout wish,” he whispered.

Years later, when I came searching for them again, hungering for them, desperate to know if they were all right, I couldn’t find them. In fact, I never actually found them again.

I didn’t dare to send out a telepathic call for them. I had always kept my knowledge of them tightly locked in my heart, out of fear for them.

And for a long time I lived in terror that Maharet and Mekare had destroyed them.

Sometime later, a few years into the new century, I did something that was rather unusual for me. I’d been brooding over how Akasha died, thinking about the mystery of how we could so easily be destroyed by decapitation. I went into the shop of a specialist in antique armor and weaponry and hired him to make a weapon for me. This was in Paris.

I’d designed the weapon myself. It looked on paper like a medieval horseman’s ax, with a narrow two-foot handle and a half-moon blade with a length of maybe twelve inches. I wanted the handle to be weighted, as heavy as the craftsman could make it. And that blade, it had to be weighted too but deadly sharp. I wanted the sharpest metal on earth, whatever it was. There was to be a hook and a leather thong on the end of the handle, just like in medieval times, so I could wear that thong around my wrist, or carry the ax blade down beneath one of my long frock coats.

The craftsman produced a beauty. He warned me it was too heavy for a man to comfortably swing. I wasn’t going to like it. I laughed. It was perfect. The gleaming crescent-shaped blade could slice a piece of ripe fruit in half or a silk scarf blowing in the breeze. And it was heavy enough to destroy a tender tree in the forest with one powerful swing.

After that, I kept my little battle-ax near at hand, and often wore it, hung from a button inside my coat, when I went out roaming. Its weight was nothing to me.

I knew I wouldn’t have too much of a chance against the Fire Gift from an immortal like Seth or Maharet or Mekare. But I could use the Cloud Gift to escape. And in a face-to-face confrontation with other immortals, with this ax I’d have a terrific advantage. If used with the element of surprise it could probably take down anyone. But then how do you surprise the very ancient ones? Well, I had to try to protect myself, didn’t I?

I don’t like being at the mercy of others. I don’t like being at the mercy of God. I polished and sharpened the ax now and then.

I worried a lot about Seth and Fareed.

I heard tell of them once in New York, and another time in New Mexico. But I couldn’t find them. At least they were alive. At least the twins hadn’t destroyed them. Well, maybe then the twins would not.

And as the years passed, there were more and more indications that Maharet and Mekare thought little or not at all about the world of the Undead, which leads me now into my meeting with Jesse and David two years ago.


Trouble in the Talamasca and in the Great Family

BENJI HAD BEEN broadcasting for quite a long while by the time I finally met Jesse Reeves and David Talbot in Paris.

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