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Epilogue - Part VI: Auberon Xerices

November 11, 2007

You and Lynn have to fly into Rome; You don't have any true friends you know of in the city... not yet. The tickets are expectedly pricey, and you have to somewhat artlessly Dominate-badge your way past customs (being an illegal immigrant and all), but it's of little consequence to a man on the run.

Lynn is uncharacteristically silent during the plane ride. She does not ask why you both are fleeing. She does not ask what has happened. For the duration of the flight, she simply and silently grips your hand and stares out at the sea of black clouds as they churn below you, smiling quietly to herself in some sort of soft reverie. When you ask if there's anything wrong, she shakes her head.

"I'm happy. Trust me."

It's not a lie as far as you can tell, although you strongly suspect she's drugged.

You arrive in Rome jet-lagged and feeling a little surreal. You Dominate-badge your way through customs again and end up in a nice little hostel owned by a aged man named Gaspare who doesn't speak any English. Lynn comments dreamily on the view of the city from your room as you start making phone calls to the Regent. His name is Pietro something or other and he says that your presence is naturally a bit abrupt and he'll have to make a few calls. It should be okay though - just make sure to make an appearance at next Elysium and bring a good present for the Harpy. Conjure her some jewelry or something. She'll think you're cute.

You buy two liters of cheap red wine and flavor yourself like a stromboli before you and Lynn retire for the day.

Unlife seems uncharacteristically relaxing at long last.

The next evening, however, you awaken to find Lynn beside you - cold, unmoving, and looking paler than you have ever seen her before. You try to shake her into wakefulness from whatever trance she's in and she starts to yelp furtively, like a small child who's been beaten. It takes her several minutes of coaxing, worry, sweet-talk, and cuddling to get her even vaguely coherent, and when you finally get her to talking, her voice sounds detached and frightened.

"I'm going to die."

You interrogate her desperately as to why she thinks this, shaking her with both hands as she begins to lapse into a fit of crying.

"I'm.. they're... I'm just going to die! Fuck! If I'm here any longer, I'm going to die!"

You open your phone, uncertain as to whom to call and see that you have one unread text message. It's from McCoy.

ax they r after u. *we* r after u. the tremere. dont trust the tremere. dont trust anybody. keep running. dont call me back.

Lynn groggily pulls a robe around here and runs off to huddle in the bathroom as you read this, and after a few moments shock you unsteadily point your wand at her.

"Apella nomen mortis."

You wrap your arms around your wife, clutching her roughly, as the tiny little voice whispers through your head.

"This one has until the sunrise if she still lives in sight of the seven - seven hills and seven lords and seven hours until the dawn. If she escapes the second and first by the third her fate is undone."

You half-riddle your way through the imp's words, silently cursing the Scions' inability to get a more articulate demon as Lynn shakes beneath you. You can't be certain of what all of it means, but you quickly decide that Rome might not be the place to settle down after all.

With sudden determination at this revelation, you rush to the other room and start to repack you briefcase. You bark orders for Lynn to do the same, and in dramatic silver screen fashion, slap her once across the cheek when she continues to be hysterical before you kiss her forcefully.

Hours later, you're both on a train to Grosseto, with what scant color there was gradually beginning to return to Lynn's face.

...and hours after that... you can't quite remember...

There was a stop over in Santa Something-or-other, somebody got on and somebody said something and somebody held your arm and somebody asked you to get off... and you did and then... and then...

You vaguely piece together why you might have complied with the order as the reality of your situation hits you.

You find yourself in a white room without windows, your arms and forehead strapped tightly with brown leather to the sides and back of a wooden chair. The lighting is bright and omnipresent and helps to emphasize show empty the room feels. Aside from you and your chair, there is nothing but a small table on which rests a device you can't quite make out with your peripheral vision.

Understanding sinks in as your brain itches to remember what you know somebody must have erased. You desperately want to know where Lynn is. You desperately want to know where you are. You shout briefly in the hopes somebody will hear you.

There's no reply from the outside world and your realize that you're mired in silence. A perfect enveloping silence such as that even with your utmost supernatural senses, you cannot hear so much as a pin dropping. It's maddening, and you shout - half hoping somebody will hear you - half trying to drown out the silence.

You're not sure how much time passes in the chamber before the silence finally breaks. Time seems oddly fluid here and you aren't in any shape to gauge its march accurately. You hope what you hear isn't a hallucination when you can finally hear something. It's a distant sound even to your heightened hearing.

It's the sound of somebody singing.

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Der Vater hüt't die Schaf.
Die Mutter schüttelt's Bäumelein,
Da fällt herab ein Träumelein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

Your thoughts race as you try to place the song, because somewhere in the back of your mind that isn't fully functional right now, you know that this should mean something.

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Am Himmel ziehn die Schaf.
Die Sternlein sind die Lämmerlein,
Der Mond, der ist das Schäferlein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

It's a lullaby.. something to do with sheep... something you do with stars. You think that for the first time in over eighty years, you've developed a headache. Probably something to do with German - You never could stomach the language, even when it was all that came out of your mouth.

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
So schenk' ich dir ein Schaf...

It hits you when you can hear Lynn crying somewhere beneath the singer's voice.

You remember you wanted to sing this song once and that you never got the chance to. You remember flirtatious conversations locked in an office and you remember dancing and pomegranate-flavored blood and biting your tongue whenever Evans came into the room and listening to goddamn 'Serbo-Croatian for Beginners on DVD' and then you remember precisely what you had offered.

You offered to set her free of the blood bond.

And in those hidden fantasies of that offer, locked somewhere in the back of your mind, you remember that you once wanted to sing her German lullabies and ask her about her childhood as you flayed away her white skin... and piece by piece by piece.... you figure out precisely what's going on yet again, as you realize concretely that you're expected to listen to this.

You frenzy when they come for you. The interrogation, the questions, the torture and the confessions slide into a blur.

You barely notice when they tell you that Kaya and McCoy are dead.

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