The Return – Part One

Prudence wasn’t too happy to be doing what she was doing. But, the boss had given her all the information necessary and assured her of the safety of the situation. She didn’t quite understand his fascination with the blood vampires, but as his student (Charity was more of a bodyguard), and servant she knew it was important. The boss truly believed that the Tremere were simply a different kind of kindred. So be it. “If he believes it, so do I”, she thought. In any case this action was to build trust. The boss likes Kian and his coterie, more so than he did their predecessors (save Veronica, but of course we wouldn’t be here without her).

She waited in Kelley’s, an Ardoyne pub that Kian frequented. At the door, she saw Kian enter. He noticed her and walked over. It was unlikely he knew what the meeting was about. “Kian,” she said (formalities in public spaces were to be avoided), “please have a seat.”

Kian smiled broadly. He was quite comfortable in this place. As it was within what was generally considered ‘his domain’ and very close to his well-known haven, he’d made it clear with nuance and suggestion that while kindred were welcome to visit or travel through the area, specifically vampiric activity was not to take place there. Hunting was not exactly discouraged, but rather if candidates were found, Kian merely ask that any distinctly kindred activity such as feeding be done outside the boundaries of his domain.

His strong and growing connections to organized crime combined with his presence was also making the human side of society more comfortable and safe, by inches. The effect was so slow most didn’t notice, but if one compared the current crime rate of the neighborhood with the rate eight months ago, they might see a slow, steady improvement that had become, over time, significant.

Kian sat down comfortably. On his way to the little booth, he’d stopped as he always did to purchase the obligatory beer and exchange a few warm words of greeting with the bartender and the young owner.

“Prudence. How surprising and pleasant to see you’ve found your way to Kelley’s. Any chance you’ll be frequenting our friendly little establishment?” Regulars always felt their favorite pub were as much their as as it was the owners and the other patrons formed a sort of extended family for them. Like any person proud of their favorite places, Kian was happy to share.

She had dressed casual for the meeting, though it was obvious to Kian that she was comfortable. Whatever her background was, being in a pub agreed with her (normally she was all too formal in the presence of her master, a little morbid and gothesque as well). “Should I find time, I certainly would stop in for a pint; however, time is something I rarely have. Our mutual friend has asked me to let you know that Kathleen will be coming back to town in a few days. He asked me to deliver some details and answer any questions you may have about her.”

“That’s quite neighborly of him!” he said. “Please do extend my thanks to him. And to you, too. I know that working for the likes of us can be trying at times.” He wore a small, knowing smile that echoed some sympathy — surprising for one of the Kindred.

“Something that’s really been weighing on my mind is whether our Miss Innisfree has been asking questions of a curious nature lately. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” he wondered.

“Through our contacts, we have learned that she has not asked either the Defense Ministry or the Home Office about the agent, i.e. you, that saved her from the cultists. She attended the funeral of the former ‘associate’ of Liam’s who was killed that day. Our mutual friend believes that this associate was a friend from childhood. They were not lovers. What he may have told her is unknown, though Liam’s many ‘associates’ all had a different level of ‘access’ to this ‘thing of ours.'”

“She did; however, confess to her psychologist about strange visions. She has dreams of you as a vampire, a hero, a murderer, a charitable man, a lover, an enemy, and as nothing but a shadow. This therapist was ‘advised’ to diagnose her situation as stress from the experience and from overwork. He advised her to take a position closer to home. So, she was promoted to preserve this thing of ours into a position of a strategic materials procurement negotiator for our mutual friend’s firm. It is an important position, but with less stress.”

“In inspecting her apartment in Paris, we noted that she had accumulated in a short time a large amount of information on kindred kind (most of it incorrect), magic, and the occult. She has remembered exactingly her experiences and has detailed it in several notebooks and sketch pads. She draws a notable likeness of you. She is a fabulous researcher and is exacting in every detail. We believe she is currently slowly moving toward expanding her experiences into a story or novel for publication. This could be a threat if it is too close to the truth, but our mutual friend does not want the powers-that-be to deal with her. It would be a waste as she is very useful to us. She could be useful to you in your position protecting this thing of ours. There will of course be rules that would be expected of such an arrangement.”

Kian looked very thoughtful. “Of course,” he murmured. “Of course.” He took a moment to complete his thoughts in view of the amazing news Prudence just gave him.

He focused his attention upon Prudence again. “I view this situation as a personal challenge, one I intend to conquer. As you know, the situation that resulted in my first meeting with Kathleen led me to save her life. I took some pains to keep her that way and I fully intend to continue to protect her as well as I can. You can assure your friend of that.”

Prudence nodded, “That is appreciated.”

He took a drink of the beer, just enough for a taste, but it was more to give himself more time to consider his next step. “She is at a very fragile moment in her life. Or I might say dangerous and that could be more accurate. The correct action taken can lead her to be even more valuable than she is now. A misstep will cause her to fall very hard. Like a beautiful porcelain figurine, she might shatter, and I would not like to treat art that way.”

“We would not necessarily consider her art; however, she is considerably talented,” Prudence replied. “For her to meet an untimely end simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time is simply a waste. It is good to see that our mutual friend and yourself agree on this.”

Kian put down his glass and looked directly at the young lady. “Prudence, I need to meet with her. As soon as possible.”

She answered slightly more businesslike than her previous statements, “Of course. Our mutual friend has asked the following terms. First, is that her work in the business world will not be unduly affected in the short-term. She has several contacts that might notice. She has few friends in Belfast as she is a career-oriented person who has had until now little time for a social life (at least that we know of). You know how her last social encounter ended up. Second, she cannot know of our mutual friend’s association with you; at least until (or if) she is an assured friend of ours. Third, she cannot deliver to you any information on her work with our mutual friend’s businesses, of any kind. She signed non-disclosure agreements, so I doubt she would under normal circumstances. But we are not normal. She can; however, use her contacts and skills outside of this very specific area to assist you.”

She continued, “Of course, what happens in the long term is up to you. Our mutual friend simply wishes to be advised should he need to terminate her employment or modify her status. Her current position is low-stress and only 37.5 hours per week. Should she request to go part-time, things will be arranged of course. Should you agree to this, we can proceed. If you have any reservations, I am authorized to discuss details.”

Kian thought about that briefly, then shook his head. “All your friend’s conditions are perfectly reasonable. I have no issue with any point. As of this moment forward, you have my word that my interest does not extend to anything related to your friend’s business. I also have no immediate plans to disrupt her professional life further than it already is.”

Prudence smiled, noting that this Kian was looking better every time she met him. Too bad most of her business was with Moira & Brenna. “We have an understanding then. That is wonderful. I think I may have that additional pint!” She waves to the waitress and orders pints for the table, “In any case your word is accepted. We have arranged a four bedroom place for 1600 quid per month in South Belfast off Malone Road. It is one of the best neighborhoods and far from any crime. She’s there in two nights. How you introduce yourself is of course up to you.

“Anything else?”

Kian shook his head. “You’ve been very helpful. Thank you.”

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