I flaked out on the sofa in the living room after I got up. I was glad to get home. Blue jumped up and settled in my lap and I began petting him. Ruefully I thought about all the homework I had to do, to catch up. Oh well, I had the weekend to do it and with Wil's help it shouldn't take too long, I might even be finished by next Saturday.
Mom came into the living room. She sat down beside me and pulling me against her shoulder she said, “We're all glad you're home. We were worried about all of you until you called yesterday to say that everything was all right.”
I began to tell her what had happened. By the time I was finished it was seven o'clock and Aaron and Barry were downstairs to have breakfast. It would be another half hour before Teddy would be getting up.
They wanted to know what had happened. I said that I'd tell everyone the whole story after school and they accepted that and went into the kitchen to eat.
Tet had grown a great deal in the last two weeks and he was ready to leave his mother. I told Sandy when she jumped up on the sofa with us and touched her nose to Blue's, that Uni and I had both slept on the plane. He might need a little more sleep but he should be over by noon ready to take Tet home.
She said, *Tet is eager to be with his bond all the time, though he's aware that on occasions when Uni goes out of the country, he normally would have to stay home. You will find that he will be able to help Uni much more quickly than you would expect. He already has the ability to begin skimming the excess power that Uni has on a day to day basis and in a month or so he'll gain the ability to give it back to him as the boy needs it. If Tet had been born of a real cat it would have taken years for him to gain those abilities.*
Mom sighed, telling me, “Well it's nice to cuddle now that you no longer mind it, but it's time to get Paul up and to get ready for work. It'll probably be a chore getting Teddy up. He's bad enough as it is, with you waking us up when you came in at three this morning it'll probably be almost impossible.”
I grinned, saying with amusement, “Now, don't complain, you know very well if Tal and I had come in and just gone to bed you would have been annoyed with us.”
She giggled and ruffled my hair, telling me, “Yeah, I know. But I'm a mother, I'm allowed to have contradictory feelings. By the way Edward called a couple of days ago. He said he had gotten a phone call from the Monsignor. Apparently it's not urgent but he'd like you to phone as soon as you can.” She looked worried, “I hope it won't take you away from home again.”
I shrugged, saying, “If it does, it does. We both serve. As a police officer you serve the public, my jurisdiction is much larger and covers the whole world and sometimes other worlds.” I paused and examined my mind, telling her, “But this won't take me away from home. I have that feeling that's seldom wrong that whatever I'll be doing I'll be able to do close to home.”
She sighed and said, “I hope you're right Robby. When you became an Elder I never expected you to become the most powerful were on our world. I'm proud of you but at the same time it's an double edged sword, since you never know what you'll be called upon to do. But I see your eyes and sometimes they're simply my son's eyes and at other times there's a wisdom in those big green eyes of yours that defies description.” She ruffled my hair again and sighing she got up and headed for the stairs to get Teddy up.
sorry for her but I was what I was. I was unique and it's always hard
to be one of a kind. Whether it's Elvis Presley, or Marilyn Monroe.
Their uniqueness had killed them and mine might do so as well, but I
didn't regret what I was. I could remember too many people I had helped
and how much evil no longer existed because of me. It was a comfort
to know that if I died today I had left a legacy that would be hard
I reached into the pocket of my shorts and pulled out my cell phone. I even managed to do it without disturbing Blue too much. I dialed the Monsignor's number.
First I heard something in Italian and I said with a little mischief, “Try English.”
“Certainly, how may I help you?” he said in slightly accented English.
“This is Robby Hansen, the Monsignor asked me to call.” I told him.
The voice warned up, “Yes, Robby, I will tell the Monsignor you are on the line. He is in the dining room just finishing his lunch. If you don't mind waiting a couple of minutes?'
I explained, “No, I just got back and I'm not going to school today so I've got all the time in the world. Or at least until Monday morning at nine, when I'm going back to school.” Suddenly I heard music on the line, to be exact the Beatles. I was a little surprised. When the Monsignor answered I said reproachfully, “Monsignor, elevator music?”
He laughed, saying, “We must keep up with the times, just be glad it's the Beatles. One of my aides suggested Gregorian chants.” I tried to smother a giggle and I was completely unsuccessful and the Cardinal laughed again.
Then he became serious, telling me, “We have a problem, Robby. We have a boy, who apparently is a vampire.” and the hairs at the nape of my neck bristled and I must have snarled over the phone.
He said with understanding, “Exactly. Most of my people reacted the same way. His name is Travis Comfort and he looks like a normal nine year old boy. Blond haired, dark blue eyes and slight almost fragile looking. He has some of the traits of a vampire, yet he also passes all the tests for humanity.” That baffled me. It should have been impossible.
The Cardinal said with humor, “Exactly. We're just as baffled. He says he was chasing another vampire and when he caught him the vampire somehow brought them out of his world into ours. The vampire he was chasing managed to get away, but Travis inadvertently came across two of my priests confronting a vampire and this one was definitely of our world. They were woefully overmatched. They knew their death was upon them when Travis swooped down on the vampire and the tables were completely reversed. The vampire was overmatched by Travis and he drained the vampire of all of his energy and he went to dust.”
The Monsignor said thoughtfully, “By all of our tests, Travis is both a vampire and a being whose goodness shines to those who have the eyes to see it. He tells me that he is a rarity on his world, most of the vampires are as bad as the ones on our world, but they are made much differently than they are made on our world. More like the way we are accustomed to seeing in movies and television, taking only a day or two. I know you can read minds, we would like to send Travis to you. If we can be sure that he is pure as he seems to be, then we will leave him alone unless he changes and he says that it's possible.”
I thought about it for a few minutes, then said, “I have no objections Monsignor, I might even be able to arrange a return to his own world.”
“Ah. You become more and more interesting every time I talk to you, Robby Hansen.” the Cardinal said. “Travis and the two priests are in Atlanta, I'll call them and have them fly to Prescott and then drive to Benson.”
“I hope their arms don't get tired, Monsignor.” I said, smothering a giggle.
“The teenagers have a saying, Robby. You're bad. Of course what they mean is quite the opposite of what I mean. I'll talk to you later Robby.” and I could hear a laugh as he hung up the phone.
I leaned back in the back seat of the convertible and let the sun warm my face. I asked, “Testing me a little more, Father Gabriel?”
He shook his head, saying, “Actually no, not in this case, Trav. I just like convertibles. From what we've learned recently if you were a Master Vampire you would have no problem with the sun anyway. But then again if you're telling the truth about your age and both Peter and I and the Monsignor think you are, then you're not old enough to be a Master Vampire. From what we've been told the last Master Vampire was created in the early sixteen hundreds, over a hundred years before you were born.”
Father Gabriel told me, “According to the Monsignor, the person you're going to see, is called Robby Hansen and he's thirteen and a half, though he looks younger. Though there are probably others of his people who know more about vampires, he has an advantage in that he can read minds.”
“You say his people. What exactly do you mean by that?” I asked.
He said serioudly, “Peter and I were somewhat astonished when the Monsignor told us about them. It's a very well kept secret. If not for you we would never have found out about it. Our world has vampires as does yours. However we also have weres, shapeshifters. There are several types but Robby represents the most numerous. He and his people are werewolves.” and I sat up straight at that.
“Real werewolves?” I said with excitement, “What are they like? Gee it'll be great to really see one.”
“You're a legend on your world and ours and you're so excited by werewolves.” Father Peter said and the two priests looked at each other with amusement.
I sighed and leaned back again, saying, “I can't help being what I am. Only death will cure that, at least as far as I know. But I'm still a kid in many ways. As far as I know our world doesn't have any werewolves nor any creatures that are magic. Magic doesn't seem to exist on our world. I don't know how vampires are created but on my world at least it doesn't seem to be a magical process. I've talked to a few people on the Internet in some of the vampire chat forums and they seem to think it's some type of virus. If you let the virus rule you then you cross the line and almost inevitably you become evil.”
saying, “I crossed it once, when I drained a man who had just hurt
a little boy, in a horrible way. I feel revulsion every time I think
of it. Not for the death, but for the way I killed him. I was teetering
on the edge then, I could have gone either way. Somehow I managed to
fall the right way and I've never been tempted again. Perhaps that death
was necessary. It continually reminds me how easy it would be to succumb
to the evil part of me, that all humans have in some measure.”
Robby Hansen met us at the door and just looking into his eyes I knew that he felt revulsion toward me, yet at the same time he was willing to listen. He was a child, yet I'd seen such wisdom in the eyes of only two other people, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. He didn't invite me in, I could see that he wanted to see if I could walk through the door without an invitation.
Well most of my kind couldn't but I could without any trouble. He nodded thoughtfully. Somehow I knew that he knew more about my kind of vampire than I expected, because some of the revulsion he was feeling disappeared. A third priest was waiting in the living room and he was different from the two whose lives I'd saved and who had escorted me here.
Instinctively I knew that the statement I had made in the car that all humans have some evil in them, was much less true about this black man than any other human I had ever met. Obviously he knew the other two since after he shook my hand and looked at me searchingly he nodded and then embraced the other two like old comrades.
Robby said thoughtfully, “This is Miles O'Hanlon. I stole him from the Monsignor's department a couple of months ago. I won't tell you why. First because at the moment I still don't trust you, but more important because you have no need to know.”
I nodded. I would have to earn his trust. I motioned to the priests who had come with me. I asked him, “They said that you can read minds. Why don't you just do that?”
He looked at me seriously, saying, “First I want to know about you before I do that. I have never come across anyone who could hide what they are, not as deeply in your mind as I can go. But I can't read vampires from my world at all, not even surface thoughts, though I can feel their emotions. Until I know how you think, I have no way of knowing if you can hide something in your mind beyond even my ability to find it.”
I nodded, that was logical, at least to me. He motioned for everyone to sit down and I sat down in an armchair. A lovely Siamese cat jumped up and settled in my lap and a much larger gray and black one did the same with Robby and he nodded.
I said musingly, “Well I guess the best thing to do is to start at the beginning. My name is Travis Richmond Comfort and I was born on January 1st, 1740 a little after midnight. Since the clock that we used to tell the time, quite often was somewhat fast, I might even have been born before midnight. I had seven brothers and four sisters and I was the youngest.” I smiled, “My parents were rather busy. I was born in a small town outside Boston, called Lexington which if your history is anything like ours you'll recognize the name.” and they all nodded.
I explained, “Both my father and mother were agnostics and that's the way they raised us. However, it was dangerous to be non-religious in those days so we pretended to be Catholics, the faith into which my parents were born.” I smiled at the priests, “Sorry about that Fathers', but that's the way it was.”
They simply nodded and Robby said, “I can tell you one thing at least, there is an afterlife. I'm a Werewolf Healer and we were once Shamen for our people and we still have those abilities, I have reached into the Inner Realms four times and called back a ghost, who wanted to be summoned.”
I nodded, saying, “Personally I have no doubt there is a God, but that's all I can be sure of. I'm basically a nine year old boy and I'm not really very interested in debating something that essentially I don't really feel that deeply about. But I was telling you about me. Well it was January 1st, 1749 and I was riding my pony home from a neighbor's. I was late and it was getting dark. Normally I would have been due a whipping for getting home so late, but I wasn't worried. We never got whipped on our birthdays. Not that it would have mattered if it had been earlier. Vampires on my world are afraid of sunlight not daylight. It was so overcast that no vampire would have worried about being out.”
I told them, “Suddenly something swooped down and jerked me off of my pony. I fought at first but I felt a bite on my neck and I began to get sleepy and it just got darker and darker. The next thing I knew I was waking up and though I didn't realize it at the beginning I could see in complete darkness. I could see that I was enclosed by four stone walls. It took me a while but suddenly I knew where I was. I was in a stone coffin in our crypt in the cemetery. Surprisingly I didn't panic. If it had been dark I probably would have.”
I explained, “I simply reached up and lifted the cover and pushed it down so I could get out. I knew then what I was. The slab that covered one of the stone coffins weighed close to four hundred pounds. That was to prevent desecration. While it didn't always work, usually it was kids who did it and would require three or four of them and some tools to lift the lids. I knew I was a vampire and I could never go home again. However I was only nine years old and I cried for over an hour.”
Father O'Hanlon asked, “I'm curious Travis. Do you have any idea why some people become vampires and others don't?”
I thought about that for a minute, before answering, “I have a theory, but I don't know how accurate it is. It only happens when a vampire has killed often enough that he has developed fangs. After a while they require blood as well as energy. I think that there are certain people who have a lot more energy than others. Simply too much to be drained by a vampire. When they attack those type of people taking blood they also inject the virus that creates a vampire. The draining causes our bodies defenses to be lowered and that allows the virus to attack our system. The virus then causes people like me to go into so deep a coma that we seem to be dead. Over two or three days the virus changes our bodies drastically, though probably it only changes us to a certain point and then continues to work after we wake up.”
I told them, “Getting back to my story. Looking back I realize that I should have at least tried to contact my family. Since they weren't religious they might have been able to accept me, despite the fact that I was now a vampire and as long as I didn't cross the line, I wasn't dangerous to them.”
Robby asked, “Cross the line?”
I said, “I'll get to that and in fact I did cross the line once and I only barely managed to recover. I covered my coffin again and I went out into the darkness, not exactly sure what I should do. About a mile away I found a boy of about my age. A second victim of the vampire I thought at first, but as thin as he was I realized that he must have died of hunger and probably illness, because he wasn't yet starved to the point of death. His clothes were fairly good. I looked carefully but I couldn't find anything to say who he was. I didn't recognize him and he didn't look like anyone I knew from the village.”
I explained softly, “He needed to be buried and I, well I needed a body to put in my coffin. I changed clothes with him and brought his body back to the graveyard and placed him in my coffin and said a brief burial service for him. It felt like I was doing the right thing. If he had been found by anyone else he would have ended up in a pauper's grave and as far as I know nobody ever looked for him. I looked over the posters on trees searching for runaways of different sorts. Indentured servants or an apprentice and children who had run away from home.”
I shook my head sadly, saying, “I think he could have been any of the three and he was running from a brutal master or a brutal relative, because he had many scars on his back, buttocks and legs, indicating that he had been beaten innumerable times. They had to have been savage beatings, to leave such scars. He wasn't black, so he wasn't a slave. If he was he had so little of your blood Father O'Hanlon that it wasn't visible. He looked pure Caucasian, though I know he could have only a fraction of your blood and still have been a slave.” I shook my head. “If there's anything I have ever hated as much as other vampires, it's slavery.”
I reflected for a couple of seconds before saying, “After a couple of weeks I began to get hungry and I headed for Boston. Instinctively I knew that I needed people. People to feed on. The more there were the less chance I would have of crossing the line. On my world there are legends that vampire are blood suckers, well that's partially true, but not for new vampires like me. We simply take energy from humans.”
I explained, “It's quite possible to absorb enough energy, by simply shaking hands or brushing against someone. The contact is so brief that we take so little energy from each human that all that happens to them is that they feel a little weak for a few minutes. Somewhat like running a mile or sprinting one hundred yards. However if we make prolonged contact with someone we can drain a human being completely. That's what vampires call crossing the line. Sometimes the first time we drain energy we cross the line. In other words we kill.”
I said seriously, “We know intuitively what will happen if we cross the line. Normally it's impossible to stop at just one kill, by the third time, we can never go back. The traits that are associated with vampires begin to appear, after the first kill. We begin to be affected by sunlight, a stake in the heart can kill us, we can be driven off by crucifixes, holy water if we drink it will kill us and it feels like acid if it's thrown on us. We must be invited into a house before we can enter. We can't stand the smell of garlic. We don't show up in mirrors or on photographs.”
I explained that, “After the first kill the sensations are mild and it's still possible to go back. I've never known a vampire who crossed the line twice who returned. After the third time they begin to develop fangs and they actually need to feed on blood as well as energy. However few vampires who have crossed the line, kill very often, in fact it's quite rare for them to do so. They have no compunction or remorse about killing it's just they are aware that killing too frequently is dangerous and unless they're in a feeding frenzy, their survival instincts will stop them.”
I shook my head, saying, “I couldn't stay in Boston. By 1751 I had to leave. I was simply too restless. I began heading west. By this time I had learned how to fly and how strong and fast I really was. Of course I needed people, I simply couldn't live without them. Only human energy can feed us. I would stop here and there and work in a little village or outpost and take a little energy at a time from each of the people. If I did it that way I didn't have to take a lot so nobody was ever in any danger that way. Most people found me somewhat strange, but I didn't have any traits of a vampire that they could detect. They could see me in the mirror. I could handle a bible or a crucifix and I could enter homes without being invited, so they just assumed that I was a homeless waif like many others.”
I grinned, telling them, “In fact I've found over the years, that if someone has a fever, by taking a bit more energy from them I can actually break the fever much more rapidly than would normally be the case. I even eat and drink normally. I need it as much as I need energy, though I could live longer without food than without energy.”
I said furiously, “In seventeen fifty-four the French and Indian war began and that's when I crossed the line for the first and only time. In that year I came across a man who had killed a man and a woman but he was taking his time with the boy. I don't know how long, but the boy was horribly mutilated, though still alive. I felt rage like I've never felt before or since. I attacked the man and he didn't have a chance, I lifted him over one hundred feet in the air, draining him of every bit of energy his body contained. There's a special excitement when you take the last bit of energy from a human. I don't know what it is but it's irresistible, or almost irresistible.”
I explained, “Even when you've drained all of the energy from a human it still takes them a while to die. He was aware when I dropped him and he screamed his fear. He was already dead, but I wanted him to know that last bit of fear. I looked down at him and I knew I had crossed the line and I didn't care, but I wasn't so far over the line that I had forgotten the boy. I landed beside him and as I said he wasn't quite dead. He woke up and he took my hand. I could have put him out of his misery then, since he was dead, like the man he simply hadn't become aware of it yet. But he wasn't in any pain, he was past pain and I held his hand for more than an hour as he died.”
I said with deep sorrow, “He was aware briefly just before his death and he said, 'Merci, mon ami.' and he died. I looked through their papers and there was enough to find out that they were Antoine and Marie Dugas and their son Pierre. I buried them and placed a large rock on top of their graves with their names on it and I just left the Englishman, at least I assumed it was an Englishman to rot.”
I sighed with thankfulness, saying, “Pierre saved my soul. Every time in the next five years that I was about to cross the line again, I remembered the man I had killed and the little boy who had died holding my hand and I couldn't do it. He helped me retain the humanity that I almost lost. I went back then and I thanked him. I try to go back every five years just to say thank you, because he's always watching over my shoulder keeping me in line. A ghost, a guardian angel, simply a memory so tangible that it seems real, he's why I've never crossed the line again.”
Father O'Hanlon said, “You said you regretted the way you killed him. I gather that he wasn't the only one you killed?”
I said soberly, “I've killed many times Father, both human and vampires. That five years after I killed that man was a very dangerous time for me. I didn't care about the reasons for the war. I just cared about how people reacted in it. I protected the lone families. I hunted for those who liked to torture people and I had no remorse in ending their lives. I didn't care which side they were on either. Those who liked to torture were either insane or evil. A grave was the best place for them. But each time I killed I was tempted to cross the line and Pierre's image stopped me. “
I said thoughtfully, “I always tried to examine each person in the context in which he was living. Sometimes terror was used as a tactic in the war by both sides. Those who carried out those terror attacks didn't necessarily like what they were doing, quite often those who ordered those types of attacks didn't like what they were doing either. I had a much harder time in that case deciding what I should do. I came up with a criteria that I used. If they went over a line I established, in other words if they began enjoying what they were doing, then if I could I'd kill them.”
Robby asked, “Did you come across vampires during that time.”
I nodded, telling him, “About a dozen times. Since I've been here I've been able to see several vampire movies. They're all the same as the ones on my world except for maybe a character here and there being different. According to them the older a vampire you are the more powerful you are. In fact that's not quite true. As a new vampire I was close to being as strong as a vampire two to three hundred years old and I had the advantage in that I could move around in full sunlight and handle objects that could harm or kill the other type of vampires.”
I explained seriously, “That's another problem about crossing the line permanently. You lose a lot of the strength that you first have and it takes many years to regain it. So since I basically except for one lapse have stayed on the right side of the line, then I've probably gained as much strength as the other type of vampire would in double the span. Speed seems basically to stay about the same.”
Robby looked at me with those large green eyes of his and said, “Well so far you've lied three times, do you want to tell me why?”
I grinned, saying, “Simply testing you. The lies, well almost the first thing you do is to learn how to fly. Once you realize that you're a vampire and you know that vampires can fly there's an irresistible urge to try. That very desire seems to help, because you're concentrating exclusively on that. You don't usually go very high the first time. Maybe a dozen feet. I think it must be what we call levitation, which is one of the abilities that those with extra sensory perception are supposed to be able to develop. I've never come across a human who had any of those abilities. Being a vampire seems to free them.”
I told him, “The second, well actually I did go to see my family and they were able to accept what I had become. Especially after I was able to pass the tests that pretty well mirror how the Fathers tested me. But I simply couldn't stay. Not long anyway, only about a year, then new vampires seem to develop a restlessness that is an itch we have to scratch. I can tell you saying goodbye to your family when you're as young as I was is a very hard thing to do. Even knowing I would see them again, I knew it wouldn't be often. I only saw them about once every two or three years, until the middle of the nineteenth century.”
I explained, “I moved back to the Boston area then, after I'd been out to the gold-fields in California. I seemed to be very good at finding gold and partnering with several people I made several fortunes. When I moved back to Boston, two of my nephews had set up an investment firm, Comfort and Comfort Investments. They weren't doing that well and after buying a house I invested the rest of what I had, which amounted to a little over a million dollars with them. That helped to get them really established and in less then five years they had increased that amount ten-fold.”
I said with amusement, “Not that they did it all entirely alone I must admit. I seem able to see trends developing and I was able to steer them away from problems. For instance I foresaw the 1929 crash and they pulled most of their clients money out of the stock market. At least the ones that would listen to them which was about seventy-five percent.”
I said, “By then my personal fortune was worth well over a hundred million dollars and I was able to increase that substantially three times during the twentieth century. Buying Xerox stock increased my fortune to about a billion dollars and investing in Apple and then Microsoft, I'm worth somewhat over five billion dollars. With my families help I established the Comfort Foundation in the thirties and I began to give away money. It was an ugly cycle.” and I grinned. “The more I gave away the more I seemed to make.”
Robby and the Fathers laughed. I continued, “Even with the Comfort Foundation which I try to keep at around a billion dollars, very few people are aware that I even exist. It was necessary to bury most of my money, so to speak, to hide exactly how old I was. I admit it's easier now than it used to be with the Internet around.”
I sighed and looking back I saw the people in the foodlines in the thirties in my mind, saying soberly, “Believe it or not even with the type of money I have, it's hard to give it away. In the thirties people needed jobs so though I was able to run food kitchens, it was better, as one of the more solvent members of society, to establish companies which could provide employment. To liquidate what I have could cost thousands of jobs. If I were to die, or,” and I thought about what had happened to me, “Or to disappear permanently, then arrangements have been made to keep my companies afloat without revealing where the money is coming from.”
I looked at Robby, telling him, “Like you I can read minds. I have an idea that your ability is much more advanced than mine. It takes me about an hour to get into a human mind, though vampires are easier. I choose those who run my companies very carefully and I keep my eye on them. Surface thoughts are easier to read and for those who are plotting to steal from me, it seems to be something that is always on the surface of their mind. I seldom fire dishonest people, I simply make them aware that I know what they plan to do or have done. Those with problems such as gambling or drug habits, well that's part of what the Comfort Foundation is for.”
I said with a grin, “One of my company CEO's managed to steal ten million dollars from me in the early nineties and he planned to steal much more. I sent him a bill for the exact amount, with a note attached detailing the list of bank accounts where he had stashed the money. I suggested he return the money and I charged him twenty percent interest, which I docked from his pay.”
The Fathers looked at each other and burst out laughing and I saw a smile playing around Robby's lips. I forgot them for a moment as I worried about how my companies would get along with me gone permanently. I had no mandatory retirement age, some people who worked for me were in their eighties, but others I insisted they retire in their fifties or even earlier because of ill health. That wasn't something I trusted to personnel managers, that was my responsibility.
I looked back up at Robby and he was looking at me thoughtfully. He said, “I can probably get you home. You said you lied about one other thing?”
I had to think back for a minute, then said, “Oh, yes. I told you I never found out the name of the boy who I put in my crypt. When I finally decided to leave home, I did in fact come across several notices, looking for a Noah Smith. He was ten years old, nephew of Ethan Smith, owner of the Blue Boar Inn in Boston. Ethan Smith almost became my first kill. But when I reached Boston I found him and I restrained myself. That's when I found out that I could read minds. Though it took me several hours to get into a mind at the beginning. Being who you are I imagine that you're familiar with the battered child syndrome.” They all nodded, with sober expressions on their face.
I said reflectively, “Well Ethan Smith was a classic example. I watched him long enough and got far enough into his mind to find that he had been brutalized by his father when he was a child. From what I saw in Ethan's mind his father had no redeeming features, whether true or not I don't really know. That was Ethan's perspective.”
I explained, “He had five children and most of the time he was a good man, but occasionally the brutal part of him would get loose and he would savagely beat his wife and children and servants. I decided to see what fright would do to him. One night when he was walking home, I swooped down on him and lifted him a couple of hundred feet into the air. I'll tell you he was one scared man. I reasoned with him gently. I told him I was a wizard and I took exception to the way he beat his family and those who worked for him. I told him the next time he did it, I'd take him for another little ride and I might drop him.”
I said seriously, “It took three trips into the air and the third time I actually dropped him. Only from about twenty feet however and it was into a snowdrift. I told him the next time it would be from the full height and he believed me that time, which was just as well, since I meant it. Just to make sure that he remembered I spent the next six months eating lunch or supper at his inn. As I said I left Boston in 1751, by that time he was a changed man and though I came back every two or three years, I never had to repeat his flight. Oh he still beat his children and sometimes his servants, but it was no longer brutal beatings it was simply punishments that were carried out coldly and with no anger and he never beat his wife again.”
I told them, “Ironically I found out that he wasn't the one who had beaten Noah, or at least he wasn't the one who had inflicted the brutal punishments that had left the scars. He had apprenticed the boy when he was eight to a silversmith. He wasn't in the class of Paul Revere but he was good. Unfortunately for Noah he was also a brutal man and unlike Ethan he wasn't salvageable. He was also a fence, buying stolen goods. I imagine Noah knew about it, possibly that was part of what caused him to run away. I don't know. But the man was also stupid, he bought a silver bowl from a thief. Ironically I think the bowl was from Lexington. So a couple of days after Noah finally had enough and ran away, the owner of the silver bowl happened to see it in the silversmith's shop window and the man was arrested and eventually hung.”
I said with regret, “Ethan wasn't the man to go to at that time and Noah probably was too scared to go back to his uncle, since he had been beaten by him several times before he was apprenticed. He wouldn't have protected his nephew and would have turned him back over to the silversmith and Noah knew it, so he ran away and made it as far as Lexington before he died.”
I felt sadness at that and said almost unconsciously, “It was unfortunate that he wasn't caught and brought up before my father, who was a Justice of the Peace. Father hated brutality and he was an influential man. Since Noah's original master was in jail, he could have arranged for Noah to be placed with another silversmith, of his choosing not of Ethan's choosing.”
I said with amusement, “By the way, would you please have your man, with the crossbow come out. He's very good and he's not fidgeting at all, but he is making me a little nervous. Besides, though I'm not immortal, a crossbow bolt even with poison wouldn't slow me down, even if I wasn't fast enough to catch it or dodge it.”
Robby grinned this time and said, “Come on out Tal.” and a man came into the room. He had blond hair and gray eyes and it was hard to tell how old he was but he moved like a panther I had once seen in a zoo. Smoothly and economically. This was a very dangerous man. I had once met Shiro Akada and though only a few people on my world had ever heard of him he was probably the greatest martial artist alive and he moved the same way.
He took the crossbow bolt off of the string and released the bowstring. He sat down beside Robby. I cocked my head, I knew instinctively that he was a bodyguard, yet he had some resemblance to Robby.
Robby said, “This is Tal Peters, he's my assistant and my bodyguard and yes he does look a little like me. He's half werewolf and we're descended from the same man. In werewolf society who you're descended from is more important than the degree of separation.”
Then Robby moved and I saw it and I started to react. I was able to block his right hand, though I don't know if I could have stopped it if he had used his full strength. He grinned at me and wriggled something in his left hand and looking down I saw he had a stake in his left hand touching my chest and I realized that his right hand had been a decoy. I looked at it calmly
Robby stepped back and said, “You don't seem to be too concerned about it. May I assume that a stake through the heart wouldn't kill you?”
I shook my head, saying, “No it wouldn't. With vital organs like my heart they regenerate in minutes. I once lost both eyes in a battle with another vampire and they regenerated in about four days. I was even shot once by a crossbow bolt which penetrated my eye and brain. I simply pulled it out and went on with what I was doing at the time, which was killing a couple of vampires. Again the eye regenerated, that time it only took a couple of days, probably because both eyes didn't need to regenerate at the same time. I'm much harder to kill than, hmm, I guess you would call the ones who crossed the line my cousins, the crossbow bolt in the eye and brain would have been enough to kill one of them. The stake through the heart turns them to dust, just like on this world.”
I said thoughtfully, “Despite what you see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires aren't usually communal. They're normally solitary and territorial. They quite often use crossbows to defend their territory. Some of them do take mates, though they don't have the ability to procreate.” I continued musingly, “On rare occasions, they will congregate. Halloween is one day and on the winter and summer solstices as well. That seems to be it. Normally the most vampires on my world that you would have to go against would be two.”
Robby resumed his seat on the sofa and the cat climbed back on his lap. I realized that I hadn't noticed the cat move before Robby had done so. I wondered about the two cats in the room and looking down at the one in my lap, I saw blue eyes looking at me intelligently and I knew these two weren't simply cats. They were much more.
Robby said, “Weres and there are several types on this world, are stronger and faster and sturdier in human form than other people. Elders and I'm an Elder are even stronger and faster. I'm also a Healer and again that increases my strength and speed. That extra strength must be called upon. Since I'm not mature I can maintain both for about a minute at most. Beyond that it would put stresses and strains on my body that I might not be able to recover from. How long I'll be able to sustain it when I'm an adult I have no idea. The speed however is different, that I can maintain as long as my stamina lasts. There are no other Elder-Healers on my world and as far as I've been able to determine from Werewolf Historians there has never been another werewolf Elder-Healer combination. We lost the Healing ability for about a century, but when Healers were available they would never have been made Elders, we don't know why but it was far more than forbidden it was taboo.”
Father O'Hanlon spoke then, “Probably because, no matter how well you choose your Elders, Robby, you still end up with rogues. Can you see a rogue with the type of power that you have, what damage he could do.”
Robby nodded, saying, “One of my thoughts, Miles. The only way to make sure that someone so powerful could be controlled you would need a Council made up of Elder-Healers. Healers were always rarer than Elders and today there's a grand total on our world of three Healers that we know of and neither Aaron nor Uni have the potential to be Elders. There's no way of knowing how many Healers had that potential.”
Robby turned back to me, telling me, “You would definitely be faster than a slave or a child vampire, but I don't know if you would be quite as fast as a Master Vampire.” There was a snarl on his face when he mentioned the Master Vampire. “Strength wise I have no idea. I killed one a couple of months ago and it took two Sasquatch weres at three-hundred and fifty pounds a Jaguar were in human form at two forty to divert him. I don't know if he could have seen me move or not. He was too distracted to notice and I staked him in the heart. Miles and Tal were spraying him down with holy water. Yet with all the distractions I barely held the stake for the forty seconds it required before he went to dust. I was wearing a protective outfit as well yet he still managed to break my arm with a flailing blow.”
I felt chilled at that, a vampire who needed to be staked for forty seconds before he went to dust. None I had ever staked had lasted more then a couple of seconds.
Robby still had the snarling look on his face when he continued and I noticed Tal did as well, “Master Vampires however are special. Someone developed a ritual, which required the death of two potential werewolf Healers or Elders and the death by torture of a prepubescent human child. Master Vampires are therefore evil from the start. As far as we know there were never more than about two hundred of them. We believe the last person who performed the ritual was in the early sixteen hundreds. Master Vampires make slave or child vampires but it takes two or three years. After a few attacks on humans to feed they became evil as well, it doesn't require a death to do it, the action of sucking blood is all that is required. In most cases vampires unless they've been forced to abstain for some reason, don't take enough blood to kill, because they don't need it. Some however always kill when they take blood.”
I said honestly, “Now that I know that you can return me to my world, I'm glad I came, but that's not why I came in the first place.” I looked at the priests and grinned, “Sorry about that Fathers but the only reason I came with you was because you were going in the right direction.”
Robby grinned as well, saying, “The vampire who brought you into this world, he's coming in this direction isn't he?”
I nodded continuing, “Despite the fact that they're solitary in most cases, they do meet, usually on neutral ground such as bars or movie theatres. They pass on the information and the gossip and they talk about those who threaten them. I'm a major threat and have been since the seventeen-fifties. They all know about me and how dangerous I am. Aside from maintaining my companies my major occupation is hunting vampires.”
I nodded, saying, “And yes, he came in this direction and like some of your vampires in the last year or so, he always kills or at least he has so far. He's killed five times that I know of and three of them were children. I was close enough on the last kill to pick up his psychic track. He's desperate now knowing that only a lot of distance can put me off the trail. Most of them simply make a straight line run not realizing that if I have a direction eventually I can find them. When he comes within two hundred miles of me I'll know it and in fact I do know it. He's in Prescott.”
I explained, “He might be starting to relax now. But still he's going to be spooked easily, so he's not going to kill which might give me another lead, which is good, since he'll simply try to mingle with crowds getting the energy that way. Eventually he'll need blood as well, but he can hold off four or five weeks on that.”
Robby said thoughtfully, “I doubt if he can obtain blood on this world that will sustain him. Everything in this world has magic in it and that includes blood. Since your vampire has no magic taking blood from one of the humans in this world, would kill the blood cells. Even if he had magic it wouldn't be compatible with the magic of our world, which means that the blood cells would still die.”
I thought about that, saying, “My cousins can live for about three or four months without blood, but towards the end of that period they become very dangerous and they go on a killing spree, trying desperately to find blood that will sustain them. Normally on my world that only happens to those who have just developed fangs and start to require blood and who have a rare type of blood which limits them to those of their own blood type. Taking blood from those whose blood is incompatible won't hurt them, but at the same time it won't sustain them either. They don't live very long, but as I say they are very dangerous towards the end.”
Miles asked, “What about your vampire is he a new one or an old one.”
I told him, “Not new Father. Thirty or forty years old. I had my people do some backtracking on him and the killing seems to be fairly new. He has killed in the past, but only on the odd occasion and never before has he killed children.”
I grinned at Robby, saying, “Something else I didn't tell you the complete truth about. I do have an organization which helps me deal with vampires. It's simply a research body and they develop weapons and track vampires. They establish a wanted list, rating vampires in order of how dangerous they are, so we know who to go after first. Like any criminal they establish an MO, which allows us to differentiate between them. While we would like to go after all of them, there are simply too many of them to do so. The occasional killers we're forced to ignore in most cases. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to keep track of new vampires and their kills. It's so often classed as heart attacks or strokes. Until they develop fangs and start taking blood, it's not very often that we can classify their kills as vampire.”
I said soberly, “We don't have field agents but we do work with vampire hunters.” I know my face went bleak then. “We teach them as much as we can, but still most of them don't live very long. But there are always those willing to take the place of those who die. The primary problem is that humans don't have shields on their minds and while it takes time to get into a mind, establishing temporary control can be done quickly and the vampire hunter is dead before he/she can kill the vampire. Even in teams or two or three usually one or two humans die for every vampire they kill.”
I explained gravely, “But don't get me wrong, vampire hunters are essential. While I can take out about thirty or forty of the most dangerous vampires a year, humans account for more than a thousand vampires in the same period.”
“All right,” Robby said in his soft voice, “I think I've got enough information now. I'll come into your mind and I'm going to do several things if you have no objections and I can do it. If you've managed to stay on the right side of what you call the line for two-hundred and fifty-five years, I think it's pretty safe to say that you'll stay on the right side in the future. Though you already have a shield I'm going to put another shield on your mind. The type I use.”
He explained, “Second I'm going to do some work on your mind to improve your ability to get into human minds. Even with me it still takes a few minutes but once I'm there I can do things that you can't. I think I can teach you how to put shields on your vampire hunters so they can no longer be controlled. If I can do that I can also give you the ability to put a prohibition on just created vampires so that they can no longer cross the line at all, except by accident.”
He told me, “In a sense you will be interfering with their free will, always something I'm reluctant to do. But this is a little different, you will be stopping them from becoming evil and I have no reluctance in that case. I would advise you against trying to do the same thing to vampires who need blood. You could stop them from taking blood, but I doubt the prohibition would hold. You would simply make them more dangerous sooner. I'm afraid the stake is the best solution for them.”
I said in agreement, “I have no objection to anything you mentioned.” continuing reflectively, “You may be signaling the end of the vampire on my world.”
I saw Miles shaking his head. He said, in a serious tone of voice, “I doubt it, Travis. Consider the fact that vampires had to develop in some way. I think you would find if you were able to research it that some of them occur naturally. Even if you wipe out all of the vampires on your world, you can't relax your vigilance because you don't know how many occur naturally and how many are made.”
It was something I had never thought of but it certainly made sense.
Robby closed his eyes and briefly I felt something in my mind and then it was gone. I realized that in effect Robby had knocked to tell me that he was there, otherwise I simply wouldn't have known it. I didn't feel any changes but when Robby opened his eyes and smiled and said, “Your mind is as easy to enter as one of my people, not something that I expected. It’s easily as powerful as mine was when I was simply an Elder and not an Elder-Healer.”
He told me, “I had a thought while I was reorganizing your mind. Is it possible that there are those who have the mental abilities and don't become vampires? I know you said earlier that you had never come across any humans who developed the mental abilities that vampires have. Perhaps your mind wasn't sensitive enough. You might come across some of them now that I've increased your sensitivity.”
He said seriously, “Perhaps as Miles was saying some vampires develop naturally and they're simply the extreme edge of what the humans on your world are starting to develop into. Your theory on why some people turn into vampires and others don't would be quite logical if you were already halfway there. That extra energy that you spoke of could be the energy that provides for the mental abilities, when you reach an age when the ability becomes active. Then again for those that don't become vampires it could be a latent ability that is never awakened.”
He shrugged and smiled again, saying, “It's a theory anyway. Now for your vampire. If he had gone anywhere else he probably could have contacted vampires from this world, but not Prescott. I won't tell you exactly why Miles is here, but we are protecting someone from vampires. Half the population of Benson and surrounding areas is made up of werewolves. When we started protecting that someone, we told the world through tabloid newspapers such as the National Enquirer exactly what Benson was. Most of the world shrugged it off as another crazy story, but in essence we were really talking to vampires.”
He explained, “They're not going to come anywhere near Benson and by anywhere near I mean they'll stay at least a couple hundred miles away from here, unless they're really dumb, which isn't impossible.”
Suddenly I heard in my mind, *You have an interesting mind Travis. It’s not as powerful as Robby’s, but then again your power is a power of your mind only, while his has come about through the magic of this world and what he is as a werewolf Elder and Healer.*
I looked down at the cat on my lap, my hand stilled. Just looking into her blue eyes I knew she had been the one who had just talked to me. Robby said with amusement in his soft voice, “Another somewhat interesting being that magic has produced on this world. Both Blue and Sandy are what would be referred to as witches’ familiars. They’re as intelligent as we are and when they bond to anyone they live as long as their bondmate does. Today the only ones they can bond to are werewolf Healers. Blue is my familiar, Sandy is my foster brother Aaron’s.”
“Their approval of you was a very definite plus when we were first introduced.” Robby mused, “Your mind is very much like mine. On the surface, our emotional maturity meshes very well with our apparent ages, you as a nine year old and me as a twelve year old. That's what we are most of the time, but our minds are much deeper and richer than other beings. Beneath the surface emotions they blend into something that is very different, a combination of childhood and agelessness. You because of your age and me because of thousands of years of evolution.”
He said seriously, “We're not adults and we don't see things as adults. Our vision is less than that of an adult and at the same time it's much more.” He smothered a laugh before adding, “It's clearer because we're too young for our bodies or our minds to be maturing sexually and sexuality tends to affect a teenager and an adult no matter what they do.” and he glanced sideways at Miles who caught the look and just laughed.
Miles said with a big grin, “I will admit that teenagers and adults, even a priest or a nun regard life from behind a curtain of their life experience and genetic heritage and a major portion of that is our sexuality. That's a part of our cultural baggage and we can't just throw millions of years of evolution away just because it's inconvenient. A celibate religious order especially must always be conscious that it's there and they must make their decisions based on the fact that though we may think we're not affected by sex, subconsciously we are so we must always take that into account. But don't tell me that children have no interest in sex, because I know that's not true.”
Robby nodded and grinned, saying with obvious amusement, “I didn't say that Miles. I get a great deal of pleasure playing with myself and so does Travis.” He winked at me and I felt myself go red from head to foot and his grin widened. “And so do most children. However neither Travis or I have reached the point where sex has become a driving part of our life and that's true of most prepubescents. With Travis it's permanent and he's long since made his peace with the fact that he will never grow up and have children. For me, it's the delay that werewolf children go through at my stage of life, though I entered it about a year later than most werewolf children so at thirteen and a half I won't reach puberty for another three to five years.”
“Will you grow up normally Robby?” Miles asked seriously.
Robby, his hand fondling Blue's head, thought about that for a few minutes, before answering, “Normally. No. I can't do that, because I'm not a normal child. I don't think I'm special, after all Nature created me, I had nothing to do with it. No I'm not special, but I am unique and I would have been unique even if I had never developed into a Healer. Will I grow up to be a well-balanced individual. I think so. Matt Conners is the personal physician to the Werewolf Council. A Junior Councilor became jealous of my becoming an Elder so young. It physically unbalanced him and Matt's duties now include watching the mental state of the Council and other high level werewolves.”
“While he has no professional credentials.” Robby grinned, saying, “He could hardly get them by being a specialist in the werewolf mind, Matt is accredited by the Council as our top expert. Matt and I spent almost a week a while back looking at my mind. He's an Elder and as an Elder you must have some access to your own mind as well as that of other werewolves. To be a Healer you must have complete access to your own mind, an ability that many telepaths have. Travis now has it as well.” nodding in my direction.
He said thoughtfully, “Matt feels that I'm the most stable and well-balanced individual werewolf that he has ever examined. I'm not the most intelligent, though my IQ is off the scale. I would never be the best in a field where pure thinking is essential for instance. My mind simply doesn't work that way. I have almost no obsessions, except for the protection of weres and the human race in general and in that area I am single-minded. I am compassionate where compassion is needed and I'm totally ruthless and remorseless when required. I have a sense of humor which at times can be downright wicked. I have almost no inhibitions physically or mentally and it's almost impossible to embarrass me; therefore I don't mind if the humor is directed at me. I can find that just as funny as I can when the humor is directed at someone else.”
He said, “That's me now. Matt feels that will be me ten years from now or a hundred years from now if I happen to live that long. That's as close as I can come in answering the question Miles. Does that satisfy you?”
Miles nodded, saying, “Yes, Robby, it does. In fact one of my degrees is in psychology and I agree with your Doctor Conners. I can't comment on the werewolf part of it, though I imagine I've met a lot more of them in the last couple months than I know about, but you are certainly one of the most stable and balanced individuals I've ever met.”
Robby accepted the compliment as matter-of-factly as he had made his comments about what his own life was and would become in the future.
Robby said to me, “I said that I could get you home. I think I can arrange it, I can't be positive until I ask those who would do the transporting.” He closed his eyes and with a new sensitivity I hadn't realized I had until that moment, I felt him reaching out with his mind. Yet at the same time, I knew somehow that he wasn't reaching out for anyone in this world.
I felt a power rising all around us and instinctively I slammed shut the shield that he had provided me with. I saw him open his eyes and he said, “For the moment I have provided you with instinctive reactions for the new abilities that you have gained. As I said to Miles you now have the ability to access all of your mind and when you get a chance you can learn how to control them yourself. I've put a guide in your mind which will lead you to the new memories that you need to access, so you don't have to do a lot of searching.”
I thought about that for a few seconds and then I lowered the shield. If they were going to transport me back to my own world and if they were anything like Robby they would have to know me and know that I wasn't a danger to my world.
I heard dryly in my mind, *You have strange companions at times little Elder. To trust a vampire, even one from a different world, must be very hard for a werewolf. Especially with the instinctive hatred that all werewolves have for vampires. Yet you were able to do so and not only do you trust him, but you trust him so completely that you have provided him with one of your shields and brought his psychic abilities to full bloom.”
Robby said objectively, “I do not trust easily, Morthren and there are those I trust to a certain point and no further, but those I think deserve it, I trust absolutely. For a human being Travis is incredibly old and my instinct from the very moment I met him was to trust him and looking into his mind only confirmed that instinct. He's not perfect and he has his dark side as does everyone, but that only makes him more trustworthy not less, since I am suspicious of apparent human perfection on general principles.”
Robby looked at me and then at the others, saying, “Our new companion is called Morthren. He is an Elf and one of the three Elven Council members. They once occupied this world with other creatures that we think of as mythical, including, Faerie, Pixies, Brownies, Halflings, Giants, Trolls, Unicorns and so on. About forty-five hundred years ago, the Elves of that time began to realize that the magic which they relied on was slowly changing. From external magic which Elves, Mages and Witches used, it was becoming internal magic which weres such as myself use.”
He explained, “They searched the other universes for a world which had abundant magic they could use. When they found it they began to move there. It wasn't a quick process. It took close to five hundred years before the last of the Elves left and the last of the Faerie and other creatures left about twenty-five hundred years ago. Also some weres also went with them, such as the Merfolk and a smattering of other weres including some werewolves.”
He grinned, saying, “If you think I'm being rude in not making any further introductions, I'm not. Introductions are not an Elven custom, in fact quite the opposite is true. Elves are all telepaths, they recognize each other by their mind feel and names really don't have much importance. I've known the other two Councilors a little longer than I have Morthren yet I still don't know their names and I may never know their names.”
Robby explained seriously, “Morthren is not your typical Elf. He has told me himself that he is far more human than any other Elf he has ever met. He is fascinated with human societies and it is from him that my knowledge of other worlds comes.” he said with a grin.
Morthren said with equal humor, *You flatter me, little one. Though most of my kind would consider themselves highly insulted. Obviously this isn't just for one of our enjoyable conversations.*
Robby said, “Travis is as you noted from another world, one without magic. He was chasing a vampire and caught him and the other vampire brought him into this world and I told him I could get him home. While I'm pretty sure it can be done I wanted to check with you before making a definite commitment.”
Morthren said seriously, *Yes, Robby. It is quite possible. Sometimes a natural splinter of magic is created which can reach through all barriers and many worlds even those world's that don't contain magic and there are those who are caught by it, occasionally Transported out of their own world. There are a couple of other ways that it can happen as well and having a psychic ability for Transporting between worlds is one of them. I'm about the only one interested in such events and if beings are Transported to one of the magical worlds or Transport themselves I can return them without any problem and have done so several times in the past.*
Robby said to me, “This world is in a series of twenty-four, however it is divided in half because in twelve of them the Allies won the Second World War and in the other twelve they lost it or it ended in a stalemate. We have to determine which of the worlds you come from.”
I answered, “On my world the Allies won the war.”
*That means you are from one of the worlds in Robby's part of the series.* Morthren said. *Now two of the defining events of the end of the war are the death of President Roosevelt before the end of the war and the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
I shook my head, “On my world President Roosevelt died in nineteen-forty-six after the end of the war and they only dropped one bomb, the one on Hiroshima. They intended to drop a bomb on Nagasaki but fortunately Japan surrendered on August 8th, the day before they planned to drop the second bomb.”
Morthren said, *That narrows it down to two worlds. Of the twelve worlds, only two of them meet your criteria. The next defining moment was the assassination of President Kennedy. On one of the two worlds Kennedy was killed instantly on the other he didn't die until some hours later.*
I remembered the event with sadness. I had actually met Kennedy once in passing and he was a vital and courageous man. I said and the sadness of my thought was in my voice, “They didn't say so at the time, but he was killed instantly.”
Morthren said with satisfaction, *That tells me that your world is the seventh world in the sequence.* He continued reflectively, *I think at one time all of the worlds had an equal amount of magic and over time it disappeared. While that event didn't happen in recorded history, it must have happened well after human evolution began. Whenever someone develops the ability to Transport between worlds even when the talent isn't a magical one those who develop it seem to be drawn automatically to the world in their series with the most magic, which in your series of twenty-four is Robby's world.*
Morthren explained, *I think that the vampire that brought you here must have panicked and he Transported unthinkingly. If he had conscious control of the ability he simply would have returned to your world. That can be a dangerous thing to do in some cases because while features on all of the worlds in the series are basically the same that doesn't mean that a geological or manmade event hasn't shaped features differently. Unless you have enormous power you can't Transport into a solid object. Can you fly, Travis?* he asked.
I told him, “Yes. Quite well, actually. However I've had two-hundred and fifty years of practice and to build up my power. I can move at about seventy-five miles an hour for up to forty-eight hours with brief bursts of speed of up to about one-hundred miles an hour. The vampire who brought me into this world, Aldo Murphy is only about thirty or forty years old. He might be able to manage forty miles an hour for twelve to fifteen hours. Then he will have to rest to recover, which for him would be about three to five hours while I only need to rest for that same length of time.”
I grinned, saying with amusement, “But I see what you mean. If you start from a certain point and Transport into another world, you have no way of knowing for instance that there might be a sinkhole or manmade lake in the other world. That wouldn't bother a vampire since we can fly but if you were human you could very well drown. Or you could end up above a quarry. Even a vampire needs a few seconds to will himself to fly. Before he has time to realize what's happened he could end up hitting the ground and a human would have no chance. Depending on how high he was a vampire could hit hard enough to kill him.”
Morthren said with humor, *Uni, Robby's young relative has the ability to Transport, but it's a magical ability. There is some external magic still available on this world and we've directed a tendril of magic to him, so he has the external magic he needs to Transport several times. Your Aldo Murphy may have a one of a kind talent to Transport or teleport between worlds, but it's more likely that it's an ability that all of your vampires have. Remember as you just stated you've had hundreds of years to build up your stamina. You should have enough energy to Transport several times as well. The vampire who brought you into this world probably doesn't.*
He said dryly, *Knowing Robby and looking at your mind I know that you intend to find and destroy Murphy before you go back to your own world. Whether the ability is conscious or sub-conscious Robby can block his ability to Transport and he can search Murphy's mind to find out how it's done. If it's an ability you all have he can give you conscious control of it. Be aware that the ability isn't limited to Transporting between worlds, you can also Transport or teleport between points on a world. Uni can Transport himself and things about twenty miles or a little more. He can only go somewhere he's been or somewhere that someone can show him a mind image of where he needs to go.*
He told me, *I don't know how much distance you will get, or whether you can develop the ability to see at a distance which in psychic terms is called clairvoyance or if you'll have Uni's limitation. Now that Robby has brought your mind to full bloom, you'll have to find out what you can do. If you need me to Transport you to your world I may see you again soon, young vampire. If not I bid you goodbye now.* Morthren said and his presence was gone.
I looked at the others. Robby and Tal were obviously used to it, but Miles O'Hanlon wasn't yet his dark face was calm and serene while the same certainly couldn't be said for the other two priests. I said to Robby, “He called me young vampire, how old is he?”
“A little over a thousand years old, which is barely early middle age for an Elf. Their life span is between twenty-five hundred and three thousand years.” Robby said, with a grin.
I looked at Robby, at those wise ageless green eyes. I said slowly and softly, “I could feel the wisdom in his mind, just as I can see it in your eyes. What's important isn't the length of a person's life, but the wisdom they accumulate during it. I've known people who are over a hundred years old and they've learned nothing worthwhile during their lifetime. On the other hand I've known children who are dying of various illnesses who remind me of the wisest humans I've ever met. So who has accomplished more the dying seven year old who won't see his eighth birthday or the one hundred and seven year old who seemingly has nothing to show for his long life.”
I stopped to let them think about that before I continued, “I think the child has accomplished more in a personal sense, but the old one as foolish as he may be may have accomplished more in a physical sense, because of the offspring he produced. Therefore in my estimation their lives are of equal value. We should take joy in the fact they both existed and honor them equally when their deaths arrive.”
Miles said, “I'm glad that you've used your long life wisely, Travis.”
I sighed, telling him ruefully, “I've tried Miles and it's even longer than you think. Humans spend one third of their lives sleeping; however while my cousins can go into a dormant state when they wish, vampires like me don't even have that relief because sleep is denied to us. We can lose consciousness, but usually when that happens death is close behind.”
Robby said in the van heading for Prescott, “Being daytime, Murphy must be hiding out somewhere. Despite it's small size Prescott is a wealthy little city and has few abandoned or unused buildings. It's unlikely that a vampire would choose an office building. There are usually too many windows for sunlight to shine through that can catch a vampire by surprise. That would be painful though probably not fatal. A house is a possibility but if he's still worried about you Travis, it's likely that he'd want some room to maneuver. If that's the case, he's probably chosen one of the unused warehouses in the south end.”
I told him, “The ability to Transport or teleport could be useful, but it's not essential, so I'm not really worried about acquiring it.”
Robby turned and looked at me with those enormous green eyes of his and said calmly but with deadly seriousness. “Oh but I am Travis. Elders have a view of life that has come to us over time. We don't like to look back and say if only we had this or had done that, maybe a tragedy could have been averted. It would be irresponsible of me to ignore the possibility of adding a weapon to your arsenal which someday might save your life or the life of someone you love. Besides I'm not being completely altruistic. While I can't go into your world, with the ability to Transport you can come back into mine and perhaps someday I might need your help.”
I had to agree with that and I had no objection to being called on for help if he ever needed it. I said with a little humor, “Perhaps I haven't used my time as wisely as Miles said.”
Robby grinned as well, saying, “Oh I wouldn't say that. We have Werewolf Historians and our racial memory through them goes back sporadically for almost twelve thousand years. Lessons learned are very carefully brought to the attention of Elders through them.”
He winked at me and then said, “Now to change the subject abruptly. I've never actually met anyone who had the opportunity and the ability to destroy someone so evil before. Why didn't you kill Hitler when you had the opportunity?” There was simple curiosity in his eyes no hint of censure, though Tal jerked his head around to look at me before returning his eyes to the road.
I sat back and collected my thoughts before I began. “I was blind to what Hitler was at the beginning, though I traveled extensively in Europe throughout the twenties and thirties. But I was concerned with my business and with tracking down vampires. The people I associated with were similar in their outlook. We were simply blind to the evil that was rising all around us that would end up making the evil of vampires pale by comparison.”
I explained, “It wasn't until nineteen-thirty-six when I attended the Olympics that I finally became aware of what Hitler really was and how much of a danger he was.” I raised my hands and shrugged my shoulders. “By then it was too late, the Nazi juggernaut had been launched. I realized that World War Two was inevitable at that time and I thought about killing Hitler. But as I said it was too late. Killing one man, even Hitler wouldn't have derailed the coming war. In fact it might have made it much worse for the Allies. I didn't know who would have ended up as the leader of the Nazi Party. Even a stable leader could have ended up making it much worse. If it was a military genius on the order of Alexander the Great or Napoleon then the death of Hitler could have been the worst thing that happened to the world.”
I said seriously, “I thought as a madman that his very nature, his irrationality and erratic behavior made Hitler the ideal leader of Germany at the time, therefore the best ally that the western world could have. As things developed during the war it turned out that I was right. Hitler's madness doomed the Third Reich as surely as the Allied soldiers on the battlefield.”
Robby nodded thoughtfully, then said, “If you've ever wondered if the choice you made was the right one. I know from Morthren that in the twelve worlds of this series where the West lost the war or it was stalemated, Hitler was assassinated in ten of them and a more competent leadership emerged. Hitler's death ill-served those worlds and led to exactly what you suspected might happen.”
a little knot in my mind which I had never suspected was there unwind
and then disappear. I realized that if I took nothing else back from
this world that one thing would make this worthwhile.
We looked at the warehouse where we figured Aldo was holed up. I asked Robby, “Other vampires feel when I get close using their mind to detect my mind, though my ability to locate a certain vampire at a distance seems to be somewhat different. I've got my new shields up. Do you think he can feel me?”
Robby shook his head, saying gravely, “I can barely feel you and I know you're there. My shields are invisible to everyone else I know including Elves. Even the Elven Council wouldn't be able to find me, except that werewolves have something that we call the public part of our mind which is the part of our mind which we use to communicate between us and I never close that portion though I could if necessary.”
I coughed and looked at Tal and Robby and the two priests feeling somewhat ashamed of my weakness. I told them, “I…, I well I can't just kill someone in cold blood. I know my cousins are evil and Murphy is worse than most because he preys on children. I have to give them the opportunity to fight back.”
They just nodded and Robby said, “Were Elders especially the more predatory ones such as werewolves and jaguar and leopardmen, well we tend to regard enemies as prey and have little remorse in killing them. Hot blood, cold blood it doesn't matter very much to us. Even ordinary weres tend not to feel as much remorse as humans do when they kill. But a person has to live with himself and what's right for one isn't necessarily right for another.”
“I've been probing Murphy's mind and right now even if he woke up
he wouldn't be able to move or even Transport if the talent in him is
touched off by panic. Once I've located it and found out whether it's
an ability that all vampires have or not then we'll move in. I'll release
him and you can take him on in single combat. Be wary of him Travis.
He's terrified of you and he's feeling very uneasy therefore he could
be very dangerous. He was planning to move further west tonight.”
He didn't look dangerous lying on the table in the warehouse. He even looked at peace with the world. As always when I looked down at one of my cousins in a dormant state, I felt wistful wishing I could sleep again, be able to dream again. Though what Murphy was in wasn't sleep my cousins did occasionally dream.
Robby had located the area in his brain which he used to Transport and looking at my brain he had found exactly the same thing in exactly the same spot. So now I could Transport and the ability was totally under my conscious control. I nodded at Robby and he allowed Aldo Murphy to come out of his dormant state. Instantly alert he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the table though Robby limited him to that for the moment.
Robby was right about how afraid he was. I could see it in his eyes and feel it on the surface of his mind and I could smell it on him. I was curious about one thing. I asked with curiousity, “I wonder about one thing Aldo, most of the vampire community is aware that I seldom go after occasional killers. Even though I might wish to my time is finite. Why did you suddenly begin killing on a regular basis?”
He shrugged, saying, “My master demanded it. He gets a vicarious thrill by taking out of my mind and the minds of the others the death that we deal out.”
My head snapped to look at Robby and his face was creased in a frown. After several minutes Robby said, “A telepath, Travis. In a sense he is like a Master Vampire in that he can create vampires slaves. He's not a vampire and clearly he's evil, since he enjoys the killing that the vampires do and in fact forces them to kill more than they would normally consider wise. He's aware of you but he feels only contempt for you.”
Robby explained, “Since he's not a vampire he doesn't have your lifespan or your ability to sustain injuries that would kill a human. Unfortunately that's all Murphy knows about him. He doesn't know what he looks like or where he lives, or even how old he is. There are scars where those memories should be. Their master has the ability to erase the memory of vampires who see him.”
He shook his head, saying, “Not like me and not like you. Not now that I've brought your mental abilities to full bloom. We can remove memories tracelessly. Whether he's more powerful than you are there's no way of telling. Whether he's the only one there's no way of knowing. What's behind those scars in Murphy's mind may hide one or a dozen telepaths.”
“You're going to need to find allies Travis. Whether newly created vampires who haven't yet crossed the line, or possible telepaths as I theorized earlier.” Robby said with regret, “I'm afraid that until your telepath is dealt with you need to change your method of operation. I'm afraid that fighting vampires is something that you can no longer afford to do.” and I wasn't surprised when I saw him blur into motion which ended with a stake in Aldo Murphy's heart and the vampire turned to dust.
Robby turned to look at me, telling me, “A possibility in the short term. I'll give you the number for the Monsignor. You have nothing to lose by trying it on your world. They investigate seeming miracles and they actively hunt vampires which is something that even werewolves don't do. Since there are vampires on your world perhaps the department that he heads on this world also exists on your world.”
I gave a nod, telling him, “There has always been a large number of Catholic priests coming to us. I wouldn't be surprised that such a department does indeed exist. If the number doesn't work I'll put the word out through my contacts that I want to get in touch with it if it does exist.”
I stood close to the floor to ceiling window looking out at the night view of the city of Boston from the twentieth and top floor of the Comfort Building. I heard Judi come into the room and I felt her arms go around me and her chin rested on the top of my head. She asked, “What are you thinking about, oh wise, very many times great-uncle.”
I said soberly, “New adversaries and new allies and new ways of operating. I can no longer risk my life going after vampires, not until we find that telepath or telepaths. Are you sure you want me to awaken the power I sense in your mind, Judi? Up till now you've simply been my pilot and chauffer. Awakening that power will bring you fully into the battle not just on the fringes.”
She told me gravely, “I love you very much Travis. Not only as my uncle, but as a very wise and courageous person. I've always wanted to go into battle with you, but I simply would have been in the way. If you can awaken the power you feel in my mind, I'll be proud to stand at your side, to rid the world of evil. I know you're worried about my getting hurt Travis, or killed, but you especially should know how fragile and fleeting all life is.”
I leaned back against her, content.