A/N: Sorry I didn’t manage to post Last week’s Whisper installment after all. Since I have Haventon for this week and Whisper for next week I should be able to get back on top of it. Also Torvawk did you get my email?
It was midafternoon and Leisa was sleeping when the banging came on Michael’s door. Usually such a racket would have roused her immediately to full wakefulness but it was testament to how exhausted she was from the previous day’s efforts that she was struggling to pull herself to full consciousness. In spite of the grogginess she forced herself to sit up and reach for her dressing gown. She was safe here since she wasn’t alone and her allies would protect her if needed but it wouldn’t do to get into bad habits. Bad habits got a vampire killed.
So by the time the quiet tapping came at her door she had managed to shake off most of the grogginess and felt human. Which was a long way from feeling vampire but would do.
â€œAh! You’re awake!â€ Sarah said when she answered the door. â€œYour guest has arrived a bit early and Michael sent me to get you.â€
â€œGuest?â€ Leisa said then immediately felt stupid. â€œOh, Lucas’s child! What’s he doing out in the day? He’s from Moira’s line.â€
Sarah eyed her thoughtfully for a moment. â€œYou really did a number on yourself yesterday, didn’t you? I can tell him you’re sleeping if you want.â€
â€œNo, it’s fine,â€ Leisa said. â€œJust give me a few moments to get dressed.â€ After Sarah closed the door she snagged the bottle of bloodwine from the bedside table and downed a couple of glasses before pulling on her clothes and heading downstairs.
Michael frowned when he saw her. â€œYou still look terrible,â€ he said. â€œTell me you’re going to feed properly tonight.â€
â€œOf course I am,â€ she said. â€œAnd thanks for the vote of confidence. Now where is our guest.â€
â€œI had Sal put him in the old parlour, it’s north facing and has thick curtains which you both look like you could use.â€ He hesitated and looked towards the door to said parlour. â€œI know him, you know,â€ he said quietly.
â€œKnow…â€ Leisa’s mind leapt back to what Edwin had said about their guest and winced. â€œYou mean from…â€
â€œYes, exactly.â€ Michael sighed. â€œI’m not sure if he recognised me. Sal answered the door and he woud only have seen me for a moment when I looked out of the office but this is going to be awkward.â€
â€œIt was three hundred years ago, Michael,â€ she said. â€œAnd he has apparently changed his views since then. Which is apparently connected to what we’re here to talk about since Edwin says his change of heart dates to after he survived.â€
â€œReally?â€ he said. â€œNow I’m even more curious. Let’s go and talk to him.â€
Their visitor was pacing back and forth in front of the thick drapes that blocked the sunlight from the windows when they entered the parlour. He immediately stopped and inclined his head to them.
â€œLady Leisa, Lord Michael, first parents of your lines Lady Moira, first mother of my line, sends you greetings and bids me tell you I come in peace.â€ Heactually bowed. â€œI am Caleb Appleyard, come to speak with you as requested.â€
Leisa stared at him for a moment. No one had used those particular formalities with her in a century or three and she suspected Michael had never heard them. Which left it to her to reply first even though it was his house. It took her still sleeep-addled brain a second to pull the correct response from her memory. â€œWe thank Lady Moira for her greetings and send ours in return.â€ She paused long enough to seperate what she said next from the formalities before tiltiing her head at him. â€œMoira isn’t usually so formal. What gives? And you’re here so early, why? I know how sunlight effects Moira’s line.â€
â€œMoira’s suggestion.â€ Caleb was starring fixedly at the floor but at least he took a cue and became less formal. â€œWhen I called her and told her about your request she advised both coming in the day and the old formalities. I thought it was just because of your well known antipathy for our bloodline’s most notorious member but that’s not it is it? You’ve always got on well with those of us who aren’t Ragnar.â€ He glanced towards Michael before looking away guiltily.
â€œHow typical of Moira to know something no one else did,â€ Michael said dryly. â€œI was wondering if you’d recognised me. I certainly recognised you.â€
â€œYes, I imagine that you would,â€ Caleb said. â€œThis is really awkward. I don’t even know what to say. How do you apologise to someone for murdering them?â€
â€œThat depends,â€ Michael said. â€œAre you really sorry?â€
â€œYes!â€ Caleb gasped. â€œOh, God, yes! I was an idiot and I didn’t even understand it. My superior told me you and all the Spectral Branch were traitors to The Order and I just bought it. I was so stupid. If your will had been weaker…â€
â€œWere you a vampire then?â€ Michael asked.
Caleb shook his head. â€œThat was a few years later. Lucas had a thing for turning what he called ‘overly enthusiastic’ hunters to educate them. I was a particularly truculent case apparently. I just couldn’t give up my hatred of werewolves even after I calmed down about vampires and Mistwalkers. But he liked me so he stuck with it which brings us to what you want to know, and I’m afraid I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. I don’t remember anything about what happened. I remember this short brunette vampire then nothing until I woke up in Lucas’s house.â€
â€œAnd that was when you had your change of heart?â€ Leisa asked.
He shook his head. â€œThat was a little later. I’m getting to that. Lucas seemed to know who had done it because once he was sure I’d live he stormed off to confront her. I don’t know what she said to him but when he came back he spent several weeks rumaging around in my mind tearing out all trace of someone else and when he was done I was able to think straight about werewolves.â€
â€œThere it is again,â€ Leisa sighed. â€œIt looks like whoever she is she’s targetting people who are being mindcontrolled by someone.â€
â€œWell except for Laurel,â€ Michael said.
â€œI think Laurel is a special case,â€ Leisa agreed before looking back at Caleb. â€œBut Lucas never told you who did it?â€
â€œHe said it was safest I didn’t know,â€ Caleb said. â€œBut Moira knows I think. She said something odd when I called about your request. She said she trusts her sister to know what she’s doing.â€
â€œMoira has a sister?â€ she asked. â€œThat seems unlikely unless–â€ She felt her mouth drop open. â€œUnless she means Sabren. Those two are very close though I’m sure they aren’t bloodkin. She fits the profile and the description certainly could be Sab…â€ She trailed off at the look on Michael’s face. â€œDo you know about Sabren? I’m not sure I’ve ever told you about her.â€
â€œI know of a Sabren,â€ he said. â€œShe’s Maelin’s half-sister and a sometime ally of the oath keeper packs against her brother. I think she was a mistwalker but never heard more than rumours of her being a vampire, but it’s an unusual enough name I suspect they must be the same.â€
â€œWell the one I know of was certainly a mistwalker once,â€ Leisa said. â€œShe’s mother of her line as well, possibly the oldest line founder in the world. Though that might be Moira. They don’t talk about who was first.â€ She rubbed her temples. â€œI should have at least considered Sabren as a culprit given how well she fits with what we knew. Why didn’t I?â€
â€œShe must be good if she can divert you,â€ Michael said. â€œBut that makes it more likely she’s involved and the same one I know of given the werewolf connection. I bet Sal knows more about her. We’ll ask her this evening for now you go back to bed and finish your sleep.â€ He turned to Caleb. â€œAnd you are welcome to stay as well. One of Moira’s blood should not be out in the sun.â€
â€œThat’s kind of you,â€ Caleb said. â€œEspecially in the circumstances.â€
â€œIt was a war,â€ Michael said. â€œWe were on opposite sides. We’ll talk about it later. You can use the couch in here. I’ll get you a duvet.â€
â€œSabren?â€ Sarah raised an eyebrow. â€œYou mean Maelin’s half-sister? Yes, she’s a vampire from what I know. I don’t know much about her beyond that. She’s more folklore than reality to my people.â€
â€œSame here,â€ Tanya said. â€œI’ll bet Dad knows more. He’s bringing the rest of the pack over for back up in case we’re attacked. We’ll ask him when he arrives.â€
â€œAll the pack?â€ Sarah stiffened. â€œEven Abigail?â€
â€œYeah,â€ Tanya said. â€œHe thinks we should keep her close in the circumstances.â€
Sarah scowled but nodded. â€œI can see why but I don’t like it and we should warn everyone about her.â€
â€œThat sounds ominous,â€ Michael said.
â€œShe’s a spy,â€ Sarah said. â€œWe’re sure she’s a renegade spy.â€
â€œWhy?â€ Michael said.
â€œBecause she claims to have defected and people don’t do that and live,â€ Tanya said. â€œBut in four years she’s been nothing but helpful and she’s never put a foot wrong. Dad keeps her close both because she does provide good information and because he’s hoping she’ll slip up and we’ll be able to track her pack through her.â€
â€œI don’t think this is a good idea,â€ Sarah said. â€œIf he after Laurel then she might tell him where she is.â€
â€œIf it is Maelin I think the cat would have told him,â€ Michael said. â€œSo we’re in no worse a position for her being here and she may have some insight. We’ll just watch her closely.â€
â€œAnd I’m going to take David and introduce him to some of my friends,â€ Leisa said. â€œI need to feed and he needs to meet some potential donors her can trust.â€
â€œI’m not sure that’s wise,â€ Tanya said. â€œWe should all stick together while someone is trying to kill us. The family can see to Dave’s needs, at least for now, there’s enough of us. And as for you…â€ She rolled up her sleeve and pushed her arm towards Leisa. â€œHere.â€
â€œAre you sure?â€ Leisa asked.
Tanya just nodded and smiled.
â€œThank you.â€ Leisa took the offered wrist and bit down.
David watched in fascination even though there was very little to see. No glowing eyes. No leaking blood. Just the muscles in Leisa’s neck working as she swallowed. After a moment she raised her head, licked a little blood from her lips and smiled. Her skin looked much healthier after her drink.
â€œThank you,â€ she said again.
â€œYou’re welcome.â€ Tanya seemed none the worse for wear from her sacrifice. â€œAre you sure you took enough? Werewolves are tough. I can spare more.â€
â€œMore than enough,â€ Leisa said. â€œYour blood is heady and I need a clear head with everything that’s happening.â€
â€œHeady?â€ Tanya asked.
â€œStrong,â€ Leisa said. â€œProbably because you’re a werewolf.â€
â€œIs that so?â€ Sarah gave Michael a sly look. â€œHow many times did you bite me without noticing that?â€
Michael winced at that. â€œIt’s not like it tastes different. I just thought you had strong blood. Some people do. I did comment on that.â€
â€œI’m teasing, Michael,â€ Sarah said. â€œI know you commented on it and it’s not like Leisa noticed either.â€ He looked around to where Caleb was standing nervously in the door. â€œGood evening.â€
He looked at Sarah and Tanya. â€œI’m not dangerous. I don’t hunt werewolves any more.â€
â€œFair enough,â€ Sarah said dryly. â€œBut I do.â€ She pulled her hunting journal from her pocket and waved it at him.
â€œWhat? But…â€ He trailed off and stared at her.
â€œYes, I am a werewolf. I’ll tell you about it later if you want,â€ she said. â€œThe point is that no one here is going to judge you for having been a hunter. I think Michael’s still a little peeved about the whole murder thing but I’m sure he’ll get over it.â€
â€œI don’t blame him,â€ Caleb said. â€œI’d be more than peeved.â€
â€œWe’ll talk about it later,â€ Michael said. â€œOnce everyone gets here we’ll introduce them.â€
â€œMurder?â€ David asked.
â€œDuring the Order’s civil war Michael was actual one of the spectral councillors,â€ Tanya said. â€œCaleb was part of the team sent to assassinate him.â€
â€œOh,â€ David said.â€But someone turned you?â€
Michael shook his head. â€œI’m my bloodline’s father. I rose spontaneously because I was so determined not to die. Well there must be something more than determination involved or we’d be drowning in vampires, but it is a necessary component.â€
â€œOh, I never knew that happened,â€ David stared at him.
â€œIt’s quite uncommon, and just like ordinary vampires most line parents don’t last long enough to found a line.â€ He paused at the sound of a minibus door slamming. â€œAh I think some of the others are here.â€