After setting the little girl’s spirit free at St. Augustine’s Chapel, we head back to Israel’s. We get out of the cab around the corner, next to the all night diner. I wonder at the night sky and start looking for those that may be watching us. Israel is dancing around puddles, Jed is making a slow, determined path towards the plantation ground.
I notice a crow is on phone wires above, entangled by a pair of sneakers thrown up… usually a sign of gang murder… but with a messenger from death attached? This is odd. Without a word, I slip into the shadows and climb a pole to get closer. muscle memory of climbing trees in the rainforest come easily, and I am twenty foot high in moments. The crow is still looking at me.This is not normal behaviour for crows. It is calm, or at least, not trying to get away.
I have still not decided whether to hunt it or let it free. I leap to catch it on my way down. I manage to have it in my clutches as I descend to the ground. The crow is in my hands, free from the wire. We travel towards the ground… we pass the soil. Down and down we go. A moment’s panic- I consider letting go, but for some reason, I do not. The crow turns into a baby girl, she thanks me for freeing her, the girl turns into a baby, and the body decomposes as we descend further into the earth. The bone crumble to dust as I land, a little gracelessly on a tremendous pile of bones, skidding down this macabre slope.
In the distance, I notice a strange mixture of streets from New Orleans. Some I recognise, some I don’t. It is clear that the rules here do not apply to those of above. About twentyfoot away a figure with commanding presence is before me. Alabaster for one side of the face, obsidian for the other. Baron Samedi.I am shocked to be in his presence. I shouldn’t be here.
The Baron turns his head, obviously Lord of his dominion. He looks at me for a moment and echoes my thought: “You shouldn’t be here”. A flick of his hand. I catch the card reflexively. Suddenly I am on the street, light rain on my face and clothes. I look at the card. Jack of Diamonds. Jed and Israel are nowhere to be seen. I have no idea how much time has passed, but I am thankful to be returned at night.
So. We are being watched by someone who can control or possess death’s messengers. And I am regaining my own connection to the Spirits and the Spirit World. My impulse to see Mama Belle, quickens. How will she respond to us, I wonder.
I climb the gate of Israel’s plantation ground with practised ease. I walk in through the front door, following Jed, who I manage to see a glimpse of from the grounds. I seems I have only been away for about ten or so minutes. They do not question my disappearance. I do not explain where I have been. Who I have seen.
Israel goes to feed his retainer, and I grab a random book from a shelf. I sit on a table, as Jed takes his gun apart and puts it back together. The smell of the oil, and the distance away from Israel’s room deaden the smell and noise of blood and sex. I find I am not interested in this David Copperfield.
I hear the excited footsteps of Israel jogging up to the attic. he often goes up to his lab after feeding his… Wife…
Jed and I talk about Mama Belle.Good. We have the same idea. Talk. find out what her position is with us. This is about survival. At the most cursory of looking at a business directory, we find a “Mama Belle’s” in the French quarter. Fortune telling. It’s worth a try.
After a time, Israel is dressed and clean again. His discussion with Jed disturbs me more than I let them realise… Israel mentions off-handedly that it is interesting that eyes can be regenerated with the application of our blood, but that eyes do not grow a new body. Jed pauses a moment and his outrage is clear, although his voice is quite soft: “You are a monster”. Another pause. Israel’s companionable response is simple: “Yes, and so are you”. Jed does not defend himself. He seems to agree based on the slight twitch of his head.
I see these companions with new eyes.
We get a taxi from the diner, and go to the French quarter. It is busy, and has no sign of the devastation of the flood. People are spilling out of bars and clubs, drunk and careless. I notice how they are afraid of us, particularly Jed. The REALLY drunk ones confront Jed in extremely brave ways. I am NOT comfortable here, I look up on building tops for Garou. That Werewolf is probably hunting me right now.
The back streets. Mama Belle’s. Obviously a tourist trap, and Israel is buying the obvious tourist tarot reading scam. I decide not to talk about beautiful lies, as he seems to genuinely believe the rubbish he is being told. The reader suddenly realises that we may not be human, and I call Jed from outside, as we have an audience with Mama Belle.
We go up the confined staircase, and are asked to wait in a room with coaches and pinned dead butterflies in display cases around the walls. I peer through the bead curtain and although her face is obscured by the beads and the light from her glowing book, I can see that she is beautiful. But what strikes me is the affection and gentleness she has with her retainer. Such a small thing, a kiss on the cheek. But it says so much.
I turn away, uncomfortable, confused. She greets us and her full unobscured, beauty strikes me. I cannot sit on the seating offered- I awkwardly try to explain this- I do not want to cause offence. I kneel, as I am at a Council meeting, alert, ready for any action, but respectful of Domain.
Israel and the Queen talk politics. She is respectful of him, and his… ways…but what rings true is the phrase: “I want my city back”. Now that is honest. No diffused political verbal mist. She wants her city back. She is bringing in the Archons (I assume these are some sort of powerful group that can deal with broken Camarilla cities). We can leave before they get here, or we can join her and help with the rebuilding of her city.
I say “we”. Israel is the one being talked to here. I see that this council is for those with money. He is the elder here, and I see that Jed and I are intrinsically considered part of whatever deal they make.
The meeting is over. I do not know the etiquette, but I am compelled to say something to the Queen.
“I like you”
She tilts her head with an almost coy moment of thanks. I am not fooled, but it’s a graceful act on several levels.
I would rather make myself part of this tribe than the slippery snake Flannery. At least this Queen speaks plainly about her desire for power and how she intends to get it back. She has tolerated us because she had no means to police us. Soon she will have her police. Time to decide where we sit in his city.
I wonder what Israel and Jed think… I should tell them about the crow that was watching us… More importantly that such a method is possible…