Jed made a face as he bit into the bloodpack. Rat blood was definitely an acquired taste, he decided, and ugly as he might be, he was no nosferatu.
He flicked his phone open. No signal. How far below ground was he, anyway? Pocketing his phone with a sigh, he pushed open the door to his chamber.
The door made a resounding crash as it hit the outer wall, and a wave of scabrous rats, as wide as the tunnel and high as a man’s waist swept past, chittering. Jed swore as he stepped out. There was no sign of the nosferatu.
Closing his eyes, Jed extended his senses out into the stone. He felt the way out, how the warrens coiled and split like worms, and he walked it, up out into the cold night air, but either the stones were so loyal to the clan that they concealed them, or the vampires had evacuated entirely.
Jed called Alistair and headed for Goodwin tower.
“Hey now…” Olivia raised her hands, willing her voice to soothe the girl. “That’s right. Hush now, have some more blood.”
In a single day of rest, the oracle had consumed an adult man’s worth of blood and woken hungry. Now she stood by the bed with a mangled blood pack in her hands, sucking from a gash in the side as the blood dribbled down the front of her dress. Her Beast lurked behind her eyes, dangerously close to the surface.
“We should really get you a straw or something. Hush.” Olivia slid another bloodpack across the floor to her guest, who grabbed it and savaged it with her fangs, a groan of bestial pleasure escaping her lips. “Isn’t that better?”
“Mmmf,” the girl cradled the bag to her face, sitting back onto the bed, the light in her eyes slowly subsiding as the bliss of feeding spread through her. “Mmm. S’better.” She gulped down a little more blood, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Olivia sat down beside her, careful not to touch the bloodied sheets. “So what’s your name?”
The girl wiped her blood-matted hair from her eyes. “Alice.”
“You wished to speak to me?” The Justicar stared out onto Grimouth’s skyline, his foreboding figure looking out of place at the side of the covered swimming pool.
“I did.” Jed joined him at the railing. “Alistair, I spoke to Cain last night.”
“The nosferatu primogen?”
Jed nodded. “I found evidence that the city is harbouring a Redlister. Eyes, the Nagaraja. Cain listed himself and the malk primogen as contacts.”
The Justicar was silent a moment, his face unreadable behind his mask. “I see,” he said finally. “Are you sure of this?”
Jed nodded. “I am.”
“Then I must go,” said Alistair.
With that, he turned and was gone.
“Olivia,” John opened the door without knocking, looking warily at Alice before he stepped inside. He handed Olivia a tablet. “The gargoyle just met with the Justicar upstairs. I thought you might want to read this.”
A transcript. Olivia thumbed through it before passing it back, fear whelming through her. “Thank you John.” She turned to Alice, her voice strained. “I need to step outside a moment, please excuse me.”
Her frenzy was brief and brutal, like a punch to the gut, and it left her winded the same way. Olivia came to her senses with her head in John’s lap, his fingers in her hair, his other hand pinning her arms behind her back. She felt the familiar numbness of Passion wash over her, and for a moment it was as if her own body were a long way away. She closed her eyes, letting herself go limp, and felt John let go of her wrists.
“I didn’t hurt anyone?”
John stroked her head, his voice low. “No, everyone’s fine. I’m fine.”
“I need to make a phonecall.”
“You’re ok to make a phonecall?”
“I’m ok to make a phonecall.”
John helped her up, and into a chair, handing her a phone. Would he have been this concilliatory to anyone before the bloodbond, Olivia wondered. He was rarely anything that could be classified as affectionate, even as a thrall. Olivia sighed, inspecting her shirt for rips as she tapped in Dante’s number. John’s restraint had left a pair of matching bruises on her wrists, and she watched them fade as the phone on the other end rang.
“Olivia! To what do I owe the pleasure?” Dante sounded ebullient.
“The birdie just met with his boss up in the penthouse. He was talking about a redlister, something about your name as a contact on the file,” Olivia paused. “I think mr bossman might come after you.”
There was a pause. “I see,” said Dante. “Well, you should know that if I die tonight, I will leave behind a great many debts unfulfilled.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
Dante seemed to consider this. “It would be for the best if the birdie stayed in your tower for now.”
“Well, ok then. I’ll see what I can do. I’ll see you around, ok?”
Dante cut the line.