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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 11

He'd forgotten what it was like to walk down a crowded city street. The air reeked of alcohol and burnt meat, the very stones beneath his feet rang with the hectic chorus of three brass bands vying for the bigger audience, and the people who pushed by him were dirty and altogether human.

Pathetic, every last one of you, he told them, silently. Unfit, unworthy, feckless one and all. Be glad it is I, and not the one who made me, who walks among you today.

New Orleans was no longer the center of the south, as it had been long ago when he had last come to save his son. Still, any kind of people could be found there: the descendants of Indians and free people of color, immigrants from nearly any corner of Europe, and occasionally tourists from the north. Everything was still color, and everything was still different.

He approached the LeBeau house and stopped at its iron gate, considering the people milling about beyond it with a cold stare. Thieves and neighbors, all of them near bursting with a tragic sort of excitement. He frowned.

"If'n you're here fo' somethin'," someone said to him, "then you'd best go in through de back door. Rosie's 'bout barricaded the front. She don't want anyone but family an' doctors t'disturb Jean. You are a doctor, non?" Nathaniel could have passed for a foreign dignitary in his black suit and leather suitcase. That, and the low hat which covered his face.

"I am both family and a doctor," Essex returned, and then shoved the man aside with his arm as he passed him, sliding into the front door without notice of the lock.

The foul stench of humanity was worse within the home of men. He'd grown accustomed to his sterile laboratory, graced with the occasional scent of a mutations experiment gone right. There, among his test tubes and other such paraphernalia, everything was set, ordered, and unblemished. Everything was truly perfect.

Here, the house was a pigsty of cluttered books and papers. And it smelled distinctively like chicory.

A woman appeared from around a corner, her face dotted with sweat. "I thought I told you all not t'come inside! We don' got any... Who?"

"My name," he told her, "Is Doctor Armand St. Just. If you will go and bring a small pot of water to a boil for me, I will be able to attend to Jean Luc LeBeau's wounds."

"We never called for no 'St. Just...'"

"If you don't do this for me," he said, "LeBeau will die, and because of the inconvenience you will have caused me, I'll see that you meet a similar fate." He doffed his hat and tucked it under one arm, allowing her full view of his steely face.

"Ah... ah... ah..."

"Rosie," he warned.

"I'll get you de water." She crept back into the kitchen, shaking violently.

He proceeded up the stairs and toward Jean Luc's bedroom, opening the doors quietly, and looking in with appraising eyes before entering.

There was no one there except the dying man and his son- their son, Essex thought, with dull amusement- who was curled up at Jean's side. The doctor had gone, as had the healer, but both had left behind bottles of pills, herbs and tiny charms. He swept them all to the floor, and set his suitcase on the nightstand. The sound awoke the boy with a start, who sprang up to a sitting position. The two of them looked at each other for quite some time, before Essex turned back to pulling instruments and vials from the case.

"Who're you?" Remy asked, half-dazed.

"As of yet, no one you should concern yourself with. I've come to help your father."

"Are you," he whispered, "are you a mutant?"

Essex chuckled as he poured liquid from one flask to another, and watched the mixture fizzle from a red coloring to blue. "No," he said. "Not really."

"But you look different."

"As do you."

"No I don't..."

The doctor took another look at Remy, who had clasped one of Jean's hands in his own. "How long has it been since you last looked in a mirror, child?"

"What do you mean?"

"It was before all this business with your father, I'd wager. Here. Look now." He waved toward a great chiffonier, over which hung a mirror.

Remy got up, reluctantly releasing his grip on his father, and moved to look at himself in the glass.

And then he screamed, or really, he wailed.

"No! What? Why!?"

"What do you see?" Nathaniel asked.

"My eyes...!" He looked as though he was going to hit the mirror.

"Indeed. They will forever mark you for what you are, Remy." Essex watched the boy thoughtfully for a moment, and then turned back to Jean Luc.

"Henri, dis man here says he may be able t'identify de Assassins who attacked your pere." Bernard gently pushed forward another man, who looked as though he was about to vomit.

"I don't much speak t'your kind," he explained.

"I assure you, anyone who'd give any clue as t'who did this t'my father will be rewarded. Dere's no need to be afraid," Henri told him, and then gestured toward a seat. "Sit, and make yourself comf'rtable."

The man didn't do as he was told. "I'm... I'm Eric. Eric McDurey." He sniffed and coughed, and then adjusted his raggedy coat. "I was there when Mister LeBeau got hurt."

"An' what did you see, M'sieu McDurey?"

"He was walkin' by, lookin' sad, and then he stopped and gave me some money. And then, when he turned around, all the sudden these men jumped off the roof and started beating on him..."

"You recognize any of them?"

"Yes sir, I might have... see, as I say I don't much talk to no Guild members. I've heard enough about trouble with you since I got to this city, and I know better than to ignore tales. But when these bunch got done beatin' on Mr. LeBeau- and he did a real fine job fightin', mind you, woulda made the army proud- one of 'em had his mask fall off. Your daddy'd made a few slashes to the neck, I'd bet. So there I was, watchin' from where I was bleedin'- they attacked me, too, you see- and I think I recognize the man. So I call out, "Hey there, you, Petie DuLac! Don't you remember ol' Eric?" I'd met him before many times at a bar, you see.

"He turns around real slow and says, "McDurey, you shut your mouth, or I'll cut it off," and then he leaves, just like that."

"Petie DuLac, you said?"

"Right, Petie, guess that's for 'Peter'."

Henri looked to Bernard. "Is there a DuLac family in de Assassin's Guild?"

Bernard nodded. "They married in wit' de Beaudreux cousins."



Henri scratched his chin. "This is getting more complicated."

"I don't know what kind o' games you idiots thought you were playin', but if de Guilds break out in war, den it's all on your back. Every death o' your own kin, every innocent life taken away- on your back."

The two younger Assassins bowed their heads. "We didn't know it was LeBeau," one of them said, softly.

"If you don't know Jean Luc by sight by now, den you deserve no part of dis Guild," Marius Beaudreux spat. "I should have you killed for dis. The peace which we've only just come to's been shattered. Do you know how hard we worked for it?"

They didn't answer.

"But you won't be executed f'r dis. You'll be expected to leave New Orleans an' your families of your own will before I have t'banish you. Except Peter."

The two looked to each other, and whether it was fear or something else which they shared with that glance, the Assassins Leader didn't know. He didn't much care, either.

"Where is he?" Marius asked.

"We don' know. He took off dat night after we... attacked."

"Do you have any ideas where he's gone to?"

"None, sir."

"Would anyone else know?"

"I don' t'ink so,." one said. The other shook his head.

"Den we'll hunt him down the old fashioned way. You're excused. Leave de city within twenty-four hours."

They bowed slightly, and were escorted from Marius' office by two heavily built man with long swords strapped to their backs. When they had closed the door, the Guild Master produced from a drawer a pen and paper, with which he began to write.

Jean Luc LeBeau, and Family...

I cannot express the embarrassment I feel over this fiasco...

"The internal damage is mended. It wasn't really much of a problem to begin with, but his other doctors were fools. All which remains are broken bones, and those I will allow to heal over time." Jean Luc groaned, head tossing to the side. "As you can see, he is already near to returning to 'the land of the living'."

Essex smiled to himself as he informed the boy of what he had done. It wasn't all entirely true; he left out the bits and pieces which he had put Remy to sleep during. The boy had been cuddled under his adopted father's arm as his real parent cut the man open from throat to abdomen, inserted various tools and removed damaged flesh. The Thieves' Elixir, he'd noted, did wonders for the body, revitalizing and rebuilding where age and sickness tore through. He might look into the substance someday.

Remy sat with his knees to his chin nearby, his still-darkening eyes made all the redder by tears.

"T'ank you, Mister," he said.

"You'll need to take care of him for quite some time. He won't be fit for... 'work'... for quite some time."

"But he won' die? You're sure?" Remy said after him, loudly.

"Hush," he said, putting a finger to his lips in a most human way. "You'll wake your father." He shut the door behind him.

There was a loud knock at Julian Beaudreux's window, startling the young Assassin out of bed.

"Who's dat?" He asked.

"It's Petie... jus' open de window, will ya? Be no good to get seen out here."

Julian slid open the window and helped his friend inside, noting DuLac's ripped colours and several cuts and bruises on his face. "What you do t'yourself?!" he asked.

Peter helped himself to a glass of water which had been standing on Beaudreux's desk before answering. "Y'daddy be plenty mad wit' me, Jul. You heard 'bout what went down wit' LeBeau?"

"I heard..."

"Well, I be one o' de three who attacked 'im." He flashed a dirty grin.

"You?! Does my pere know about dis?"

"'Course he does. He caught de other two who were dere an' dey ratted me out. Dey get to be banished; I'm dead meat."

Julian's eyes narrowed. "My father's still tryin' t'keep de peace."

"You bet he is."

"Lissen, you get yourself outta town. Lay low for a while, an' when you get yourself a good place to hide, y'tell me how t'contact you. I'll keep y'informed o' our progress."

DuLac's grin widened. "Death t'de weak, brother," he said.

They clasped hands. "Death t'de weak," Julian affirmed.


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