Never: Chapter Two Of “The Crystal Ship”

Doravenour stares at me from across the campfire. “Does this all surprise you? New York was going to fall at some point, Cherrie. The vampires needed it for financial reasons. Old Wall Street still holds a significance for them. They are, after all, the ones who spread the greed. Not the devil.” He smiles bitterly. “Until recently, they only held the kingdom of Maine with any success. They had Vermont and New Hampshire as well, but they are so small. The Vampire Nation has been eyeing New York for a long time.”

I look over at him. “So Hent’s betrayal did nothing?”

He looks back at me. “I didn’t say that. I only said that they had been eyeing New York. Of course Hent’s betrayal had an impact. He basically opened the gates to them. Or started the siege. One of the two.”

I look away. “And the east?”

“The eastern seaboard is a treasure trove. Ports of access. Rich history that the vampires really do not have in this country. Especially the original thirteen colonies. If they can control those, they have the most important thing in US history. Not that it matters anymore since the war began.” Damn his French accent. It still captivates me. He is right though.

I look at him. “Then what is the plan of action?”

He gives me a hard look. “Nothing. Yet. Except getting the refugees safely west. And if your hunch is right, we have another problem to deal with.”

I look up from the campfire. “The Crystal Ship.”

“Oui. The Crystal Ship.”

“Then I am on my way down river.” I get up to go.

He touches my arm. “Not yet. we wait for Grady and Thayrn.”

I look over at him. “Who is Thayrn?”

He smiles. “Thayrn Laird. One of Grady’s monks. He acts as a messenger from time to time. Especially when we need to let all the Grigori know where one of our own is headed. You really need to quit being so independent of the rest of us. One is enough. And she has almost always run into problems of her own. And, at the moment, she is missing in action. No one knows where Voodoo has gone.”

“Good.” I shoot him a cold look. “I don’t care if I ever see her.”

“You are going to have to get over your anger toward her.” He grows cold. “She has done nothing. When it is time, you will come to realize this. You will need her at that time and might not have her. She is a fellow Grigori. We must remain allies. And McCall would tell you the same if he was here right now. But he isn’t. But he is still here among the living. Live with that much knowledge.”

I sit back down to wait. Maybe in time I will forgive. But not right now. Right now I wait for Grady and Thayrn.

***

Grady and Thayrn have arrived. They were delayed by other matters beyond their control. But they are now here. Thayrn is a thin man, but nondescript. dressed as he is, he would pass easily for human or vampire. But not a monk.

He smiles at me. “You must be Cris. Grady talks about you a lot. Loves telling the story of his meeting you for the first time. Keeps the brothers in stitches of how you nearly shot him.”

I look over at him and smile. “I am glad that I am a subject of amusement.”

He suddenly looks worried. “Oh, no. That is not exactly what I mean. We are all honored to have you as one of our protectors. We are not using you as a source of amusement. Please do not misunderstand or be offended. He merely uses it as a teaching tool for the younger monks.”

I look away. “I am not offended. I am bored. I would rather be out there.”

He sits down. “It was easier before our war spilled out and involved man. We could travel among them without worry. Not so now. We have to be careful what cities we go into. Vampires like to skin werewolves and changelings. Before man became techno, and before there were as many men, vampires used to hunt us for sport. Like you would hunt a deer or a bear.”

I look at him. “Or like I hunt them.

He looks away. “Yes. I have heard that of you. You are the only hunter the vampires fear. Other than Doravenour. Even more so after you took Marlena De Leone. She was their best.”

I take out a piece of paper and write out my plans. Where I am going. What I am going to do. Why I am going. How long I expect to be gone. What to do if I disappear.

But I add that I never plan on being caught or captured. He smiles after I hand it to him. “You don’t plan on failure, do you?”

I look over at him. “Plan on failure, and you usually fail.”

He nods. “Good point.”

I look over at Doravenour. He nods at me as if to say that I can go. I look back at Thayrn. “Well, I am off. Got a ship to catch. People to find. Vampires to slay.” I smile a bit when I see Doravenour’s reaction. “I will let the three of you figure out a code to use on that message.”

Doravenour is the first to bid farewell. “Be careful, Cristina. Never let your guard down.”

I look over at him. “I won’t. Dor. If I need help, I will send some sort of SOS to you.”

Grady comes over. “I don’t think you will need help. You never have. You seem to have all the lives of a cat. and all the luck.”

I hand him my crossbow and empty quiver. “Maybe when I get back, you can have this thing filled with new bolts.” I indicate my empty quiver.

He laughs. “I think Truva can see to that…as long as you come to the missions to retrieve both. How are your bullets holding out?”

I pull the pistol out of its hiding place and slip the cylinder out to check. “Empty. See to this as well…please.” I hand the pistol to him as well.

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