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Fire on the Mountain
By Amanda Berendt
Copyright July 2004
Note: This story takes place the summer after the third season, and Last Knight did not happen.
August 24, 1996
Lacroix sat alone at the bar. The Raven had closed several hours ago, but still he sat. Today was no ordinary day. It would be exactly one thousand nine hundred and seventeen years since he had been brought across. Although he was not ashamed or hateful of what he was, the circumstances surrounding his conversion had always been a painful memory - a memory that, until recent events, had been his alone to bear. He had never shared the story of that particular day with anyone.
Moments after the sun had broken past the horizon, he felt another presence in the club. He turned to see Nicholas crossing the empty dance floor toward him. The older vampire raised his eyebrow, surprised at this unexpected visit from his son.
"Good morning, Nicholas." He said. "What brings you here? Official police business?"
Nick shook his head and smiled. "No, I was on my way home and noticed the date." He paused. "After what happened, I thought maybe you wouldn't want to spend today alone." Without waiting for an invitation, he sat on the barstool next to Lacroix.
The two men sat in silence for a moment, then Lacroix took a sip from his glass. Without moving his gaze from the dark liquid, he began to speak.
"I had just returned from a campaign in Gaul. After spending several years in the wild lands, I was looking forward to the comforts of the city. I settled my affairs with the army, then went to the home of a woman... Selene. I had known her from childhood and cared for her very deeply, but because of her class I could not take her as my wife. So with my family's money, I was able to establish her in a house and she began a very profitable business. We saw each other at every chance we could and eventually she had a daughter" Lacroix paused, expecting a comment from Nicholas. When none came, he took another sip from the glass and continued.
"The child was a light in our world. She gave me even more reason to visit the house. We taught her to read and write, and when she was old enough, her mother began to teach her how the business was run. I had actually begun to think about leaving the army to settle in the city and perhaps enter politics in order to stay close to them. I was to leave on one final campaign before making my decision.
"There was a celebration on the evening of our return. But instead of tales of the long campaign, the conversations centered around the recent strange happenings of the city - some local fisheries had reported their stock dying suddenly, surrounding towns were unable to receive water from the aqueduct, and now the city was considering possibly rationing the water to prevent any problems here. No one could explain what had happened.
"It was then that I heard of the child's illness. Selene told me she had been near death, but an ancient healer had come. He had asked to be alone with her for only a few moments. Divia had risen from her bed that very night. Although, she appeared healed, she no longer played in the sunlight. Since her illness, she had only walked about after dark. It was thought that she was still weak and Selene refused to speak of it any longer. Knowing better than to pursue the matter, I spent the rest of the evening with my fellow soldiers discussing both the strange events and the recent campaign.
That evening as I slept. Divia came to my chamber. She was different than I remembered her, no longer the little girl. She asked me about the army and what we did on the campaign. It was more than a young girl should want to know.
The following day started out like any other. The morning sun shined brightly and a steady breeze was blowing in from the sea. Divia was nowhere to be found. It was nearly midday when the first tremors were felt. Then the sky began to darken as the mountain erupted and ash filled the sky.
I stood firm as the citizens panicked around me. I was furious that this simple act of nature could destroy my villa and send the citizens of a great city into a childish panic. As I stood there cursing the mountain, Divia emerged into the day-turned-night. She was as calm as I was angry.
The ground began to shake causing be to fall to my knees. In the midst of the cries of the dying around me, I heard Divia's voice. 'Let go your mortal bonds, General. We must survive at any cost. Life cheats death. It will always find a way. Live or die? What is your decision?'"
"She was right." Nicholas, who had been silent all this time, spoke up.
"What do you mean?" the elder vampire asked, turning to face his son.
Nick continued to stare at the surface of the bar, as if reluctant to reveal his epiphany. "Life does find a way." He paused. "We have survived death to live as we are now."
His son's calm explanation of his condition surprised him. "And is that a 'good' thing?"
Nick took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. "I don't know. I'm still working on it." He smiled and turned to his master.
"Thank you for being here, Nicholas."
Nick's smile broadened as he put his hand on his master's shoulder. "My pleasure."