So I made my way back into Harlem, I had already visited Armande once this week and inquired about the dragons in his area. He had mentioned one was taking up safe harbor in the building recalling he always smelled like burning things. Which was a dragon thing so nothing really to worry about. I had reassured him. But now maybe, not so sure if he was part of this bigger conspiracy by the Last Phoenix then maybe he wasn’t quite so safe.
The problem though, before Armande would let me take him in I’d have to prove I had a cause. That was the point of Safe Harbor. And I really didn’t want to be on Armande’s bad side. Our alliance was important and i wouldn’t destroy it for one single use. So right now I just wanted to talk to him. It was the middle of the day Armande would be asleep, or at the very least in a catatonic state. I’d have to talk to his humans. Loyal servants he called them. But they were bound by nothing more than their paychecks.
Cari was the only vampire I knew who kept her food close at hand – feeding from only the same people for as long as they wanted to reap the benefits of immortality. Her current crew didn’t look like it was going anywhere soon. They all thrived and were finding answers they sought.
And Armande wasn’t strong enough to command that sort of power. He was a weak vampire in comparison, but he had Del Figlio and Il Cane’s backing thus he was powerful. More powerful than Bernstein who ruled the Underworld. Which was to say that the tunnels and sewer systems under New York City were his domain. Under all the island was his turf. If it was dark it was Bernstein’s domain. Bernstein was a unique vampire. One my father was getting to know quite intimately. They had a sort of alliance thanks to me. Bernstein was the defacto leader of the cursed vampires having been curse himself thousands of years ago. Those that follow Bernstein or of his bloodline. Those he turned, and those that they turned, all followed him. They are the vampires that the stories are told about. The ones that humans make up stories. The curse can deform a bloodline, making nosferatu – the ugly horrid bat like creatures from the movies. Count Dracula was a cursed vampire. Vladimir the Impaler was cursed by a wicca to live forever in the darkness drinking the blood of his enemies. Such as the story goes.
Bernstein was a human vampire hunter – you know like Van Helsing, who was a real man. A real human hunter. They had both been taught by the Venatori to hunt monsters. But Bernstein tried to kill a witch too powerful for him. She cursed him to live as one of the things he hated most. Dad found a connection with him. And much of that he was using to find a connection with me. Dad wasn’t just killing vampires anymore. But he wasn’t saving them either. He had learned to work with Bernstein. They took care of the vampires making problems – together. Even Emilio Vega was taking a lesser role in those trips.
Not that Emilio was a bad person. But he didn’t need to temper my father then. So he let him be free. For once in their lives they were working separately. And it was doing their friendship a great deal of good. My father is a hard friend to have. Just like I am. We are so similar it’s not even a joke anymore.
My thoughts took me through the AU building, on to the subway and now I was standing in front of the Safe Harbor building wondering which building this number emeniated from. So the best thing to do was ask. Who, though that was the question. I could feel all sorts of powers inside – vampire, theiran, dragon, and even a few things I didn’t want to – demons and angels were not something to mess with.
I figured someone would find me. If not I’d ring the phone in the dragon pockets of magic. I was certain it was a dragon. But Val was working with dragons, maybe some of the other shady characters were too.
The front door was propped open with a rock. I kicked the rock out of the door jamb so it would shut behind me. The lobby wasn’t really a lobby like I was used to. It was just a large opening with a bunch of mail boxes and a door to the front office, which was closed. The large area opened into halls that led to stairs and elevators and other rooms. I closed my eyes then let my senses go and felt a sort of freedom I hadn’t before. Like all that bottled up pain was fleeing as my senses grew stronger. I felt all sorts of magical energies. I’d been taught to keep them to myself. But I found my senses to be useful. So I never listened. It was one reason why I was such a good fighter against the Venatori. Why they underestimated me despite my lack of speed and agility.
I wasn’t near dragon so I walked to the third floor. I was pretty sure that Armande had mentioned that. Or many it was the feeling of different. But that’s where I went. I didn’t really open my eyes to see where I was going. I could easily find my way with just the extra senses. It was an odd situation when I was in a building. Not something I’d do outside where I could run into the middle of the street or something, or underneath something that was about to fall. It was dangerous to do. But I was feeling too much, too many senses on top of my already raw emotions. I was surprised I was holding together.
A small voice inside said. ‘You have people who love you, that’s why’. My inner self was far more confident in that than I was. But the next moment it would be telling me I was a failure and that I didn’t deserve to live. The mind is a funny thing.
There was actually no people around as I slowly walked the third floor. Watching and waiting for the thing I was looking for. Which I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I’d find it eventually. I knew that much.
So when I stopped in front of plain brown door I knew something or someone was behind this door that was important. I felt dragon. I smelt sulfur and other things – dragon things.