The Justicar stood just over six feet tall, his face obscured by an enamel mask, a mane of brown hair protruding from its back, and he strode wordlessly towards the prince, two attendants lumbering after him.
The first attendant was a man of over seven feet in height, breathing, and covered from shoulder to knee with bandoliers holding bladed weapons, more equipment than someone with mortal strength could carry. They clicked in a syncopated rhythm as he walked.
The second attendant was stranger still, a little shorter than the Justicar, with greyish skin and what at a distance could have been mistaken for a hunchback, but which in this context was clearly a pair of powerfully muscular fleshy wings from a hole in the back of his waistcoat, and a pair of coarse, bony horns protruded from his bare head.
Olivia might have wondered what kind of creature he was, had she not met a Gargoyle previously, on the night of Shen’s initiation into the Chantry.
There was a hush in the hall as the Justicar walked, and the Sheriff fingered the ornate silver cross he wore around his neck as the Justicar neared the Prince.
The Prince seemed to pull something from inside herself, her demeanor impassive as she stared down the masked man, the grey satin panels of her dress gleaming like metal.
The Justicar halted before her and began to speak, his voice a clear baritone even from behind the mask. “I, Justicar Alistair Nix, present myself before the Prince of this Domain of Grimouth,” he did not bow or incline his head, his expression concealed beneath the mask. “I must be about my work now,” he said. “There is much for me to do in this city tonight. I leave Jedivan here as my representative, should anyone here have need of me.”
With that, the Justicar turned on his heel and left, his weapon carrier with him. The gargoyle was left standing in the centre of the floor, blinking apologetically, and some of the tension left the air.
The Prince stepped down to greet Jedivan, and the Sheriff’s hand left the cross at his chest.
“You think he’s gone hunting Victor?” Shen looked worried.
Olivia shrugged. “Probably. I mean, he is maybe on the Red List now. Look on the bright side, at least Mr Justicar didn’t just behead you or something.”
“I guess.” Shen sighed. After what had happened with Luna, and his failure to acquire the curse, Victor had sent him a letter disowning him, and for all he professed to hate his sire, Olivia guessed that his feelings ran deeper than that.
The huddle of Tremere by the bar started passing money between themselves, and their resident Technomancer split from the group, his pockets stuffed with cash. Olivia tried to catch his eye, but he stared at his feet her as he headed for the door, where a group of malkavians crowded around Dante, petting the tiny puppy that sat in the basket he held.
“-nowhere to stay?” the Prince clicked her tongue, her smile concerned. “Jedivan, I’d like you to meet Shen and Olivia. Olivia has a domain of considerable size north of the river. Very secure, I understand.”
Olivia’s heart sank a little as she bowed. First the former Prince, then the kid, then this guy? What had she done to piss the Prince off? She glanced to Shen, who nodded. “I’d be pleased to offer the hospitality of my tower,” she said.
“Why, that is kind of you, Olivia,” said the Prince, clasping her hands. “Offering to look after our guest. I trust you’ll be a most attentive host.”
“Yes,” Jed’s eyes were calculating. “Ah, thank you for your generosity. I would be pleased to accept your offer.”
“Wonderful.” The Prince made her excuses and floated off in the direction of the ventrue primogen. Olivia sighed. One of these days she was going to have to open a hotel.
Jed took a seat next to them at the bar, his wings opening a little way as he climbed onto the stool. He smelled faintly of iron and seawater, and Olivia wrinkled her nose.
“You’re Shen, aren’t you? Victor’s childe.”
His eyes met the Tzimisce’s, and Shen’s shoulders tensed. “That’s right.”
With his almost alien physiognomy, the gargoyle’s face was hard to read, but his craggy expression seemed to soften. “It’s ok,” he said. “I’ve read your file. I know that he disowned you and I bear you no ill will.”
If his statement was intended to put Shen at ease, it was ill-judged.
Olivia cleared her throat. “So, what’s he like, this justicar?”
“Alistair?” Jed seemed taken off-guard. “I’ve not been working with him for very long, to be honest.”
Jed flipped his wings uncomfortably. “I mean, my last Justicar… worked together for quite a while.”
Olivia’s phone beeped quietly, and she pulled it out. Jack.
Blue guy at pub again.
“Shit. Uh… we’re going to have to leave now.” Olivia grabbed her bag from underneath the bar.
Jed blinked. “What- why?”
Shen was looking at the message on his own phone. “We’ll take my car.”
Olivia nodded, looking at the gargoyle. “Those files of yours, they mention Harvey?”
“Yes. The ghoul with the-” Jed’s eyes darted from side to side as he trailed off, forced to re-appraise the situation. Shen’s chair creaked as he left it, his apparent weight belying his small frame.
“Good. He’s dead.”
“You heard me. He’s dead, and we’re tracking down our only lead on his killer.”
Jed’s eyes widened, his fear almost palpable. “Oh. Oh.”
“Right. So we’ll see you down at the Quay in fifteen minutes if you want to help.”
The gargoyle nodded, left standing at the bar as Shen and Olivia made their exit.