Nadya has recovered. I came across her standing outside the tavern, looking a little puzzled. She had no memory of what had happened between going to the tavern and waking up in her wagon. I gave her a very short-form explanation: She frenzied, she tried to attack an eight-foot high insect, Cris restrained her while I stopped the insect from eating her, she got torpored. It seems so simple when you write it like that. She thanked me, but looked a little uncomfortable. I said I was sure she would do the same for me, which didn’t lessen the discomfort. Maybe I’d be a little uncomfortable if I owed somebody my life, I don’t know. Maybe it is more important to one of her clan or even to kindred in general. There are so many things I don’t know.
I said she could buy me a drink, which she did, but then got distracted when Bunny and Padishar turned up. The ladies were very keen to show Padishar something in the woods, some surprise they had for him. Personally, I’m not sure I’d want to go off for a surprise in the woods with a demon and a vampire, but then, I don’t know what Padishar is, so maybe it’s all good. They had a quick drink and disappeared off.
I carried on with my drink and perusing bits of my journal until Sophia came wandering. She looked distracted and went and stood by the fire, just staring at it. I asked if she was ok and her reply was monosyllabic, just the single word, “fine”.
Now, I am no expert when it comes to women, but even I know that “fine” almost never actually means that. Whenever Alex used that word, I knew I was in trouble, so I asked if there was something I had done wrong. It wasn’t me, she told me. She just had not been getting enough sleep, because every time she closed her eyes, all she could see were flames. I agreed that could be disturbing, wondering what her mother had done to her and asked if she wanted to talk about it. She did not know if Tory had done anything to her, but then, she did not know everything that she got up to. She spoke of a locked room that she did not go into, but would sometimes hear strange music, humming or possible chanting coming from it. She asked if I knew of anything like that.
I had to admit I did not know. I told her that I had little knowledge of any kindred magic, let alone Sabbat methods, other than knowing that they involved blood and death. I mentioned that McTaggart had tried something on me once, only I temporarily forgot his name and ended up calling him McTwat. She knew who I meant. I said that Isabella might know something, although her expertise was presumably fae in nature, mentioning that she had clearly recognised something about whatever it was that Sophia had about her person the previous evening. I occurred to me that she might not remember much of that, so I told her that she had sounded more like Tory than herself, and speculated on the possibility of kindred being able to become ghosts. It occurs to me, as I write, that of all the various mythical beings I have encountered in my travels, I had yet to meet with an actual ghost. On evidence of all the other beings, I have to assume that they exist too.
Sophia told me that Tory had often spoken of the rituals. She had to admit that ghosts were a possibility. Tory had been raised in the Spiritualist Church, she told me. She allowed that Tory might well return, but questioned why she would kill herself only to return.
I opined that it was possible that the return was not intended. I explained what little I had heard of ghosts; that they sometimes return because they have unfinished business. I added that even if there had been no ritual, Sophia and Tory were bonded by blood, so her spirit might be similarly bonded. The idea that there might be unfinished business had not occurred to her. She told me that Tory had seemed so sure about wanting to go into final death, going carefully through everything, destroying everything, so could not imagine what unfinished business there might be. I speculated that she might have some as yet unfulfilled revenge planned on McDickhead, or some of his other minions. It couldn’t be the message to me because that had been fulfilled.
We finished our drinks and retired to my dwelling, so that we could talk in more privacy. She showed me the amulet, which is what Isabella had found, and another item, a ring, that she hadn’t seen. The amulet was a black stone with an inverted ankh symbol engraved in red. This I knew to be a Sabbat symbol. The ring, she told me, had been Tory’s symbol of her rank as Cardinal. A gold ring with the ankh engraved on a red stone. Both items, Tory had considered sacred. This was all in accord with what little I knew of the Sabbat. It occurred to me to try using some of my magical training from Paash, reckoning that although Paash’s magic was likely very different, they were both associated with undead. I concentrated on each item in turn, going to the same place I used when casting the light spell on the crystal. For all that I tried; I could get nothing from the amulet. I was not particularly surprised; I am a mere amateur at these things. From the ring, I got an impression of blood, burned flesh and pain. I asked if Tory had been wearing them at the time of her immolation, but this was not so. The only other thing I could think of was that perhaps Tory had been wearing them when she attacked McTugboat. Sophia agreed this was possible, since Tory was rarely without them other than at the time of her final death. They had been made by one of McToenail’s lieutenants (I had remembered McTaggart’s name by now, but I was having fun making up silly versions, and it seemed to be cheering Sophia up), the Priscus, which was a title I remembered having heard about, but did not know what it meant. Sophia said that Lucy might know, but she had not seen her since London. I was at a loss as to what else to do. I will maybe ask Isabella when I see her, and perhaps some discreet enquiries of Cristof. I promised I would do what I could to investigate further. She left me then, hoping she might find some peace sleeping in the church.
I wish there was more I could do. I cannot do anything about the six years I spent having virtually no contact with other kindred before I arrived in London, but I should have spent more time with Brigitte and the others while I had the chance. I feel so helpless in knowing so little of the powers we apparently have, and the magic that can be wrought. Even access to the library we had at the Elysium would have helped, but here, I have very little. Just Cristof and Nadya, and I do not feel up to trusting the latter. I feel I may have misjudged Cristof while we knew each other in Jasper Cove. Here, he is showing himself as an honourable man, and what little memories I still have of those last few months in London, I seem to recall him attempting to help. Perhaps I should speak with him soon.
* I didn’t know what music to choose, so I searched, and in among the various clips from Doctor Who, I found a band called the Unquiet Dead, with a track called Holy One