Thursday, August 16, 200748: Chirac of the snow leopards
Choices of Nature Chapter 48
Chirac of the Snow Leopards
The day of Quinn’s phonecall about the snow leopards’ cure was one of the greatest in my life! My bro called me, I was in the shower then. I picked up the receiver.
“ Hello! Quinn here. How are you?”
“ I’m fine,” I replied, using my shoulder to clam the receiver, as I dried my hair.
“ My Leopard friends had kept some of it in a jar. They’re on the way with it. I’ve told Louis. Want to surprise Boss?”
I leapt into the air, exclaiming, “ Is it real? Am I hearing things?” Quinn reassured me I was not. “ FANTASTIC! Woohoo!” I squealed. I wanted to keep it a secret first.
When I hung up, I Sent Hi to Lestat. No response.
Three nights later, Louis said he had not seen Lestat since he went out two hours ago. I reached home late, about 8pm. Worrying and tantalizingly so… Lestat always left a note, this time he did not. Neither did he call me, or use mindspeak.
Quinn, can you find Stat? He’s uncontactable.------- I reached among the million signals and sought out the Blackwood vampire.
Yes I will. Got it, he’s coming back. Myself gonna touch down soon. Can I confirm your address again?
I confirmed it. I had barely spoken to the scholar to stay calm and collected, before Bratprince himself swept in. he smelled of the evening breeze, simply clad in a lace short sleeved top, a ribbon around his collar and dark pants. I kept my face straight, pounding excitement repressed, and held out my arms. The blond preter laughed, responding to my hug.
“ But you never initiate a hug, cherie.”
Louis stepped forward. “ We were worried about you. Couldn’t you at least call us when you’ll be late?” He clasped his master by the shoulder. Lestat said he would, sorry. He was in high spirits, the play was a huge resounding success! It had made him forget about his fatigue these weeks.
A group of signatures approached. Both of them sniffed the air. Louis smiled conspiratorially at me. I was not surprised, Quinn and Neferin, as well as four of the leopard people( her guards). Everyone had got here on a speed train. Acknowledging his little Bro was ok, but Stat switched to them, “ To whom do I owe this surprise visit? You saw me acting? That’s the only one ”
Everyone laughed. Lestat’s smile was mild and reserved.
Neferin, the leader of the group, and expert on Healing arts, came forward to greet him. Her skin was a light mocha, warm turquoise eyes. She was dressed in white priestess garb, gilded in golden ribbons. She shook Lestat’s hand. “ Good news awaits you.” Her voice was melodious and faintly Egyptian. Feet bare. Dark colored nails doubled as claws when their kind Changed.
Lestat colored and he gasped when the words hit him. “ Really? Mon dieu, I will recover! At last, I can get well!” We all got his purple colored messages of happiness. “ Thank you! Thank you!” this was repeated several times.
The exquisite white Chirac was like a small lily, the white very bright and pure. Some of it was to be boiled and drunk straight, some petals to be chewed. Stat ate some of the petals, which were awful, and drank a big mug of the concoction.
“Bianca, will you be my angel please?” he bade me, gradually sinking into sleep. I agreed to him yes. I did not realize when he had fallen asleep. His chest lifted up and down, cheeks suffused more. The hand in my grasp went cold. Quinn and Louis pried me away from him. My friend slept for a continuous succession throughout, day and night. I did not expect his recovery to be swift, for his condition had been serious. I put fresh flowers at the table when they wilted. To ensure my safety, the table was placed near the door.
Neferin said she was not sure when full recovery would commence. She only knew the patient would be lethargic after the dosage, but the length of time was unknown. The Chirac was very little-studied and the first time it had been tried in a vampire. If it worked, poison can be completely purged. So I did not expect any fast miracles.
While I replaced some flowers on the third, or fourth evening, Stat pretended to be still. I screamed when he moved. “ Artemis! What are you trying to do?” He looked disarmingly sly. His face had thinned, but other symptoms were gone.
I knelt on the bed and kissed his cheek. He chuckled. “See how I’ve healed. I don’t feel tired anymore!” Yep no more wounds and cuts on his chest.
Then I remembered the cautions of being so near a thirsting creature. His grey pupils reflected an animalistic desire for blood. I backed off quickly and shut the door. But not before I noticed that he was focused on the beautiful flowers.
Fifteen minutes later, Bratprince signaled with his vibrant purple that he was ready to bounce about. He looked warm and fully sated.
“ Old Boss is back,” the Blackwood witch greeted him. Full set of healthy white teeth.
Brat beamed back and hugged Quinn. I noted his thoughts on his shortness as compared to him. “ Son of a gun! Didn’t host ya proper that time, forgive me.”
“ It’s alright, come sit down. You shouldn’t overexert.”
Stat breezed he was okay, pushing away an errant strand. They talked a little while, catching up on other thigns. Neferin and her companion were a bit shy to talk to him, now that the cause was over. I told them to relax. They were opposite me.
The blond had come up behind me and bade them to sit down. “ How much? For the medicine?”
“ It’s already good that you’re well, Monsieur. We don’t need payment,” Neferin said.
Lestat overrode his annoyance at being declined and replied,” I’ll feel very bad if you don’t accept. I will always be grateful to your people. I won’t forget.” Sincerity rang in his rich voice, lowering the tone. Since they didn’t name a price, the vamp signed the cheque first.
“ Keep this. You’ll need the money for your people. It’s hard to forage in the mountains. You’ve many children, don’t you?” Stat said, holding it out. Neferin purred. Our bratprince wouldn’t allow them to leave without the fifteen million American dollars. Lestat reiterated that if the money could not be retrieved, they could just call him. The SnowLeopards still felt reticent in his charisma.
Some more of these mysterious people. They seldom leave the mountains, except for important festivals. They have Apollo’s gift, speed and the famous knowledge on which herbs for sickness or injuries. Apollo also grants them power of the sun, should they feel cold, they can request for sun. “ Quinn contacted them. He was resourceful,” Louis informed him.
“ It was cool. I made a few friends.”
His master nodded, siphoning these facts and storing them quickly in longterm memory. I was so happy for him. Now Lestat could perform and do whatever he wanted, hey, go shopping with us again! The horizon seemed bright once more. Around eleven, near my bedtime, I said I wanted to see the view from his balcony. “ Sure, why not?”
I swung myself up easily, back to the space. Lestat leaned so that his arm supported me from falling off.
“ Yea ok. Aren’t you tired? The Chirac makes the people feel drowsy.”
Touched by my concern.
“ Later, I will,” Lestat said, “So how are you? Gimme an update.” I showed a quick runthrough of my life, befriending two not very pretty girls who had become my good friends, I got second in volleyball and how I looked forward to my birthday.
“ Oh when is it? I keep forgetting your birthday.” He searched for a pen and notebook. Another one, haha. Must have lost the previous one.
“ Dec 12.”
He apologized for not remembering. “ I won’t this year. Let’s have a great time. You’re mon ange. Deserve better.” I had often been forgotten, so I did not mind much.
Wednesday, August 08, 200747: Lights on stage
On the 16th itself, 7.30pm sharp, our dearest friend came onstage. His first song was a solo act. Although it was long, he had to put all effort into not drawing breath. This had not been in his practice. Would it strain his chest? He’d a bad cough. I clasped Chelsea’s hand.
She understood how anxious I felt. ‘Don’t fret. He will be ok. His medicine works. See?’
I had brought 4 friends along, Quinn and Mona too. Quinn and Mona were sitting together, of course. They looked radiant, shades and gloves to reduce the charisma. Quinn had fed full, his cheeks were absent of pallidness, wore brown double-breasted jacket and khaki pants. Mona was fair, red hair hidden by a flower scarf, conservative black dress.
Did I imagine Lestat paling? Then other people appeared, dancing to some hot music. Could not see him among them. Next he was back, holding hands with someone. His mask was gold, a cat half –mask. His mouth and nose visible. He had a tail too. The clothing was all very simple--- blue, black or grey garb. The masks were the only colorful stuff, props were little. Guess Santino is not as elaborate as Armand. I leaned back to savor the story.
His partner twirled around him, flirting. Lestat beamed at us. I felt lulled by the singing, until the speaking dialogue kicked in. Lestat’s voice was deep and melodious.
“Come, let us go home, ma cherie. We have much to do.” Music tinkled along in the background. His partner replied with a few lines. In moved the large manor of Senon Hall. Some chairs were brought out. Quinn commented that it was good he could rest now. The master in the house was neither human nor vampire, elf I guessed. The actor’s ears were pointed. He called himself Gerald. Lestat stood for a while, silent, as Gerald spoke for a bit. Stat’s female partner displayed colorful feathers. She was some exotic bird. We were impressed by the originality of the story. The pets in this manor had magical powers and sensed that Gerald would be deceived by a group of strangers. They came up with plans to disrupt plans, which were funny and cute. Angelia, a green gourd thing, wobbled about dusting the furniture, uncovering secret documents.
20 minute curtain call. Lestat walked in with the others, wiping his upper lip. Then he turned as if to see us in the audience. I Sent that I had been on time and we would see him backstage later. No reply. Maybe there was a lot of interference from the folks around us. The final part finished at nine ten, scheduled to be nine, but spontaneity often gave a different outcome and might be longer than what had been planned.
Backstage. Pots of facepaint, powder, wigs, a few mirrors in a row. People all crammed in. The props manager speaking to a few people. So many artistes buzzing. It felt stuffy and hot. The gourd lady removed her costume. Chelsea laughed---- that’s my favorite woman! I wanna snap some photos. Wanna come?
I said I didn’t wish to. My mind was set only on the vampire in my life. Hearing this,
Quinn touched my shoulder. “Yo. Did you sleep?” he said lazily.
“No. I liked it. There’ll be fighting right? And you’re also a vamp in my life, ” I replied. The young man broke into a big grin, some black locks falling over his face. He was so perfect! Q is every woman and girl’s dream to own and fantasize. This is why I fantasize. Mona soon came over, hanging onto his arm.
I recalled what the announcement was about, fighting in tomorrow’s session. Armand came to greet us, thanked our appearance. Mona shook his hand profusely. Den, April and Zac mingled with the other crew. Where was sensei? Aha, seated one knee up, removing his mask and cleaning his powder off. His assistant was congratulating his success. He made modest replies, cheerful and lively. “… changes tomorrow night. How about I come in prancing?” did a live demonstration.
He let the man help him with his coat.
Bro and me approached him. “Hey guys. You came! Thanks so much.” His violet orbs iridescent in the dimness, dazzling white teeth, the fangs in the open. But the assistant didn’t notice. Mascara made his lashes elongated and bigger. I loved the feel of his arms about us in a big hug. After he removed the remnants of mascara and rogue, he accompanied us to talk to the rest.
“Boss how long will these performances be?” Mona queried. She kissed his cheek.
“Um an entire week. We’ll be making different changes for the effect of Live. Something worth anticipating,” the blond said merrily. He added, “I’ve missed you. Much to catch up on. How are you?” All their unhappiness had dissolved with this phrase.
She chattered about her life. Lestat listened, nodding at the right moments, but never forgot us. His hand would touch our shoulders. I adored him. Couldn’t wait till we could be face to face, alone. But now, Santino explained more to us too. Bratp had to give attention to the assistants, us and more people.
This went on for half an hour. I was itching to move.
Bro and Lestat conversed. “How is school and stuff? Sorry I didn’t ask before.”
“It’s stressful ( sympathetic sound from the other) I wish I can get off it. Could ya write an excuse letter for me? Need to study for another big one on Wednesday. Please!” Marcus begged.
“Sure. Remind me later. Let’s celebrate.” He beamed at me, thin wide lips impish.
My first question was, “Do you need to lie down? It’s ok if we don’t go out tonight.” He seemed annoyed, I’ve planned it. It’s tonight. I need to do other things tomorrow. But he patted me on the back when we were moving out of the crowded area.
Quinn finally got out. Den, Chels and Marcus still wanted to hang out with Daniel and their girlfriends, so it was just Lestat, Q., myself, April and Ron. Without the makeup to hide, Stat appeared frail and dwarfed by both my cousin and Quinn. He assured us he was gonna be okay. Reticent. I told him my day. But Lestat did not engage me.
When we came by the mall, a new one that just opened up, he said, “You just walk about. Maybe have a bite. I want to shop alone, later.” He entered a department store.
Ron made to follow but we stopped him. “We should tail him.”
Quinn advised him not to. “Nope, I can sense his strength. He won’t collapse now, just needs alone-time. Guys, let’s go and have some food.” Haha, although he cannot feast, he does not mind. Ron selected a dimsum restaurant. Surprisingly for a dimsum, which means little bites and snacks, the manager wanted to feed us more food. Quinn urged us to tuck in. Why ain’t he eating? He sick too? --- April queried.
The handsome youth raised his eyebrows.
No, he’s um, not human. Don’t ask, just eat—I replied. I stuffed another xiao long bao into my mouth. But she still peppered questions, where was his school, how long was vacation, did he do sports? Etc etc. the young man replied her in due stead.
I apologized for April’s incessant queries. Quinn gestured that he didn’t mind. Soon the others stopped encouraging him to try food, but I felt a little awkward. He’s treating us, but not consuming anything. I bade him to try a little. At least a small chicken? Ron clipped a prawn and laid it in front of him. The vamp’s nostrils flared, but he said, Awful smell. I’ll drink soon. After your friends go.
He nibbled at his prawn. Around 45 minutes later, close to eleven, Quinn called for the bill, placed his credit on the tray.
Later, Obelard filled me in on his findings. His friends, Snow Leopards, were good healers. He wanted to ask them if they could come over to see if they could help his Boss. “I had nightmares, when a few of them sat me down, they made something powerful healing me. I felt lots better and got no more nightmares.”
“Cool! Here he comes, wow, so many things.” Stat headed for us. Radiant, with bags of stuff. Quinn had already detected him, and caught him in a hug. Boss peeked into one bag, held it out. “This one is for you.”
“Take it please. You’ve been kind enough to come for my performance.” He sounded as if he would shout if we didn’t obey him.
Then he tickled me on the neck. I giggled. “Something for me?” I asked.
His beam drew me. He pushed back a bang from his face. “Of course, accessories for madame. Shall we continue our outing? The night’s early.” I clapped, singing a little. We walked on amiably, cracking jokes and Ron discussing his martial arts belt class. Woohoo! “Guys it’s cool to know ya. Stat, you really don’t seem old,” Ron remarked.
Lestat bowed. “I am aged.”
I asked Quinn if we should tell him about the snow leopards. Not yet, another time.
We bade Bratp sit down. The stone bench shelter was near the main road. Rich boy Quinn (bristled at my comment) whipped out his cell with his free hand to call his chauffeur. You know what I said? I thought ‘All rich boys have huge cars.’ Expected a limo any second.
Bratp protested that he was not tired. But he did, while I peeped at my present. A set of false beads for wearing, and a container set of clasps, hooks, string for me to make some more. It cost over a hundred dollars. Real precious gems. It was all in compartments of the big box. I looked up.
“I know you’d stop me, so you understand I had to go in myself? Rich brats we all are, our kind. Hey you like your stuff?”
Ron was almost speechless. His very own toolset to repair his bike. “How did ya know?”
Lestat laughed softly. He tapped his mind. Ron jumped up when Quinn’s car turned in. Nah not a limo, a Mercedes. I expressed my disappointment. The owner of the car scowled at me. Inside he was guffawing. Vamps just love showing off rank wealth if they can’t help it.
It is alrigh if they want to use their wealth to buy love. It’s sad without love and so many things. In the car, Lestat asked me how his acting was. I thought it nothing less than marvelous. He thought – I’ll burst from flattery. Thank you. I’m kind of sleepy. Sigh.
Then rest. I’ll call you when we reach. His eyes still open, but he was quiet. Even breathing. I dozed off too.
When we reached, Boss could not move. He must be so weakened. I recalled what Rowan had said about the side effects. The young preter lifted out his boss, one arm under his neck, and the hips. Paleness, cheekbones sharp in the light, zero movement. This Lestat was not the performer, he was critically ill. I was hurting inside---- I told you to come back. You’re like a child. Now we’re gonna feel sad.
Meanwhile, Louis had opened the front door. We walked in. The familiar Home living room. My Winnie cushions, stuffed pig were flopped on Stat’s armchair. I had taken them out and not put them back.
“Is he heavy?”Ron enquired helpfully. Quinn said it was alright.
“Boss is so light. Hello Louis. Ok ok. I’ll just hold him a while.” Louis returned with the coffin below the stairs, lid out. They put him in, slid the lid shut. L and Q stared at each other intensely, connecting for some time.
Quinn broke off first. He smiled faintly at us and confirmed, “I will contact the Leopards. Can I use the comp upstairs?”
“Yea sure. Up and right, the closed door. Bianca, Marc, Ron have you eaten?” Louis turned to us.
We said yea. Ron was puzzled at my request of wanting to talk to the preternatural in the coffin, had Read my mind. I pleaded with Lo.
“Bianca, he’s in death sleep. Right, Louis? We should leave him alone,” Ron said.
I was almost in tears and angry too. “I want to tell him something.”
Louis’ green orbs became softer, less impassive. His face had not shown anything but numb since we got home. Cheeks flushed. I caught a whiff of private protective love for his master. “Alright. But be quick, ok?”
The first time I had seen a vampire sleep in death. No movement, the gold tresses like stone too. Lestat was serious, arms folded like a mummy, open eyes. His blue grey was more prominent from this angle, shadow etched in. green veins snaked over his left wrist, forehead and neck. I said that Q had found the Chirac, probably a dried sample. Louis pushed me away, when Stat jerked. It was quite unnerving. Showed no recognition of any of us at all, menacing, fatalistic.
“Why does he go into that sleep so fast? It’s just midnight past.”
Good question. Louis explained that he was very weak, and had not fed full, so he went in early. I remembered, even when I stayed in bed with him till 3, his sleep was as brief as a human’s would be. This was nothing like that.
When Lestat awoke the night after, I told him about this. He was quite angry with the others for letting me see him at his most dangerous. Not bothered to yell, he just faced his back on everybody and said he wanted to rest. No matter how pitiful we pitched our voices, he did not respond.