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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 8

Someone out on the street corner broke out into a fast-paced version of "Summertime," the quick notes of his improvisation sharp and clear, piercing the thick August air like a hailstorm. Up above him, beyond the open French doors of the balcony of Remy LeBeau's room, Bella Donna hummed along as she placed a tray onto his bed, and then sat cross-legged next to him. From one of the dishes on it, she took three ice cubes- one which she plopped into her mouth, and the other two which she placed on either side of one of Remy's ear lobes. He squirmed and sighed unhappily, keeping his hands clasped together in front him.

"Hold still," she commanded. "Dis'll take a little while."

"How long?"

"Until it gets numb."

"It's already numb!"

She flicked it with a long nail, and he flinched. "Nope."

Outside, the musician's song had melted into something unrecognizable, and the two paused a few minutes to listen. "You know," Bella said to break the quiet, "You haven't told me yet what happened today."

"I went to Tante Mattie's," he said.


"And she made me... blow things up." He twirled his thumbs around each other, until she grabbed on to one of them with her free hand.

"What things?"

"Sticks an' rocks, mostly."

"What did she say?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, did she tell you anything you didn't know already?"

"About m'powers?"

"Yeah, about your powers!"

"Nope. Except that she wants me back in a couple days. Why?"

"Just curious."

"Too curious," he grumbled. She ignored it.

"I just imagine what it'll be like when I get my Powers," she told him wistfully. "You think mine'll be anythin' like yours?"

"I hope not. They're pretty useless."

"For a Thief, anyway," she said, but didn't go on about it. "I've gotta wait another seven years 'fore I get 'em."

"Why do you want 'em so bad?"

She blinked. "Well... same as all de Assassins do, I guess."

"Which is?"

"'Cause... it's de same as de Thieves and your Elixir o' Life," she said. "Don't you look forward to takin' it?"

He didn't answer. She took the ice cubes from his ear and put them back down- what was left of them in the heat, anyhow- before picking a long needle out of a small dish of rubbing alcohol. "Hold still," she told him again. "It'll be over real quick." She aimed it with a practiced eye towards the ear lobe, as he closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.


Outside, a shiny new sports car- stolen, with new paint and plates- pulled up to the curb and parked. Henri LeBeau climbed out, Bernard LeBranche behind him, and as soon as they did so Remy's yelp sounded across the street. The two jumped over the iron-wrought fence and into the house, and up the stairs where they crashed into the younger LeBeau's room.

Remy lay sprawled out on his bed, still clutching his ear with Bella behind him. Both looked up, surprised to see the intruders.

"Is everythin'... alright?" Henri asked, eyebrow raised disapprovingly. Bernard looked distrustfully at the Assassin.

"You're back?" Remy said, startled. "I thought you was still in Europe!"

"Obviously not. Does Poppa know we have a... guest?" Henri's disdainful glance was cast meaningfully to the girl, who raised her chin.

"Oui, he does. She comes here all the time. You've just been gone."

Henri shrugged, and then motioned for Bernard to follow him. "Let's say hello to Rosie." They left.

"Y'know, you're brother has the biggest stick up his..."

"He's my brother," he said, mildly. "An' 'sides, he probably heard dat. He didn't close de door."

"I don't care," she said. "How's the ear?"

"It still hurts," he grumbled, rubbing it.

"You can be such a baby! I'm gonna go home," she told him, and stood up.

"You're not mad, are you?"

"Not at you."

"And I'll see you again when?"

"Next time, you come to my house," she said, and stormed out.

Dinner at the LeBeau household had never been a particularly formal event. With Henri's absence in the past year, Jean Luc's never-ending business with the Guild, and the recent upheaval in Remy's life, it had been months since anything resembling a family gathering had been made.

Tonight, however, was different. Jean Luc sat at the head of the table with his hands folded before him as Rosie set out the food, and his two sons yelled at each other.

"She's my friend!" Remy growled.

"She's an Assassin. She shouldn't be your friend."

"She's been my friend since I was dis big!" He put a hand out flat as near to the floor as he could get over the arms of the chair.

"When you were dat big, all you played with was Lapin," Henri told him.

"Not true!"

"Remy," Jean said, "keep your voice down."

"Not true!" Remy repeated, quieter.

"It's true. An' no matter what, no Assassin should be in our home! Right, Pere?"

Jean looked from one angry face to the other, and sighed. Henri was right, of course, an Assassin shouldn't be allowed in a Thief's house, especially not the home of the Guild Leader. But Bella Donna was Remy's friend. "She's done no harm," he said.

"But Pere, de Guild talks of it."

"Let them. They talk about everything."

"Dis is our name at stake! Dis is our honor!"

"Honor is nothing made by other's words," Jean said, sternly.

Henri folded his arms over his chest and frowned deeply. Remy stabbed at his salad.

"No more talk of this," Jean Luc told them. "If the Guild has a problem, they will come to me."

Josette Leveau seldom came to the city of New Orleans. It was not that she didn't adore the city, or that she was driven from it. She was always welcome with open arms when she made her ventures into the Market once in a blue moon, and many would come running from their houses to see and consult with her. But her devotion to her livelihood as a mambo of Elizi Freda1 kept her outside and away, a recluse by choice.

Like her ancestor of nearly a century earlier, the renowned Marie Leveau, she was a kind woman, if given to fits of possession by her loa. She was called to jails, where she spoke with the convicts and brought them cakes and other things to eat; she had never turned anyone in need away from her door, but instead whipped up gris-gris for young lovers or those in need of better luck at a moment's notice. She was without a doubt the most powerful of the vodouines, and most certainly the oddest.

This was why she had attracted the attention of two young girls on Decatur Street, who whispered in the shadows as Josette picked her way through the barrels of peppers and chicory which flooded the French Market. "Do you think she would?" one of them whispered.

The other shook her head ardently, a hand placed on her companion's arm. "No, Belle! Y'know she wouldn't, and y'shouldn't!"

"Who says I shouldn't?" Josette was trying to pay for a sack of cayenne, but the merchant who sold them was shaking his head, telling her that he would never take her money- everything that was his was hers.

"De Guild wouldn't like it!"

"Oh, who cares? Isn't her family in the Guild?"

"Why do you even want to learn about voodoo, anyway?" Dominique complained.

"Because I do."

"Well... Wait, don't go over..." she drifted off at midsentence, as Bella Donna crossed over to where the swamp witch was still arguing over her payment.

Leveau was actually a very young woman, considering her precedence- she was middle aged, at most, but looked not much older than the girl who approached her. Her black hair was tied up in a tight bun, her features distinctly African; but the lightness of her skin and eyes suggested that she was mulatto or quadroon. She had finally convinced the merchant to take her crumpled dollars, by implying, but not truly saying, that she had cast some type of charm upon them, and as she turned away from him, he rubbed them over his forehead. Feeling nothing out of the ordinary, he placed them into his pocket.

"Mademoiselle Leveau!" Bella called out after her. She turned.


Bella offered her hand enthusiastically. "Mademoiselle, I'm Vincent's friend, Bella." Vincent was Josette's brother, a bit younger then her, and a young member of the Assassins' Guild. While he wasn't exactly Bella's friend, they often trained together.

Josette nodded. "Bella Donna," she said. "I've seen you before."

The girl smiled in pleasure. "I... uhm... well, see, I'm interested in what you do."

"Oh? How so?"

"In voodoo, in... spells an' things... I've heard sometimes you'll teach people how to make charms."

The older woman cocked her head to one side, as though considering. "You don't look like someone interested in jus' love charms, ma chere."

"Well, no."

"Do you know anythin' 'bout it? Anythin' 'bout those who use it?"

"I've always lived around people who use it."

"Don't mean anythin.'"

"I guess not. But I'm interested."

"So I see." She waved to someone passing by. "Lissen, and I tell you what I'll do. Do you know where my home is?"


"Come when you get free time, an' I'll show you a few things. Think 'bout it, though. Voodoo ain't nothin' that you know without spendin' lots o' time at it."

"I will! Merci!"

"Adeiu, and perhaps I will see you soon," she said, and turned away to a man calling for her from a window above the street.

Bella Donna looked back and flashed a grin at Dominique before running off towards her home.

In a dark chamber where no Assassin has ever been, three Council members of the Thieves Guilds made preparations for the coming of the Tithe Collector. Though the time of his coming was not for another month, no flaw in the ceremony or dirt on the stone floor could be permitted, and these three, Claude Maritine, Antoine Chenier, and Paul Talley, each heads of prominent Guild families, had taken it upon themselves to be sure everything was done correctly.

It was not only the occasion, however, which occupied their minds. The unfortunate Remy LeBeau had also fallen victim to their conversation, and he wasn't seen in a particularly bright light.

"The boy's been spoiled," Maritine informed them. "Jean Luc never thought he'd have another son, an' now he's gone and spoiled him. I'd whip my son good if he ever brought an Assassin girl in m'home."

"Dere's been some talk of treachery 'round de city," said Talley.

"I wouldn't go so far as dat. But de boy's been makin' a bad name f'r de Guild."

"And no word t'de council 'bout the boy's powers." Chenier added. "You'd have t'ought Jean'd have said somethin' at de meetin'."

"Oui," the other two agreed, nodding. Maritine went on, "Remy's his son. He shoulda brought de topic up himself. None've us would've been dat rude."

"Deese LeBeaus, I tell you, dey been nothin' but trouble since de start."

"Jean's a good man, a good t'ief, if a bit too enamoured of his son," Talley argued.

"But what can we do?"

"Dere's nothin' we can do. We woulda done it by now."

Chenier shrugged. "We will see, monsieurs, we will see."

1 ...mambo of Elizi Freda...: A Vodoun priestess of Elizi Freda, godess of love.


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