Scout’s Honor, Part 18: Prodigal Daughter

The following short scene is a secret scene that occurred off-screen early during the events of 1/26/16 (round about the time that Georgia was eating Jawahar). Some of the dialogue is as-played between Jason and I but roughly half of it has been expanded and written-anew for character development. Content warnings definitely apply.

***

Scouts thoughts weigh heavy as Anstis guides their return to the Pyrami from the Shadowlands. She’s dimly aware of Rabenholz and Anstis discussing the missing Marcus and making other plans, but she excuses herself and slips out of the building to catch a car across the city.

She stares out the windows at the passing night. What is he planning? Cantor’s plots were often opaque, but after thirty years she at least could feel out their edges. Or so she had thought. If Cantor somehow had the ability to impersonate the Settite–enough to fool even his most trusted followers–then those edges, those ranges of possibilities, suddenly opened up and swallowed her whole.

The car pulls up outside St. Ignatius. She stares up at the looming facade, fingers fussing against the hem of her suit. He hadn’t summoned her yet, she could just go back to the Inn. She should.

But I have to know.

With a steadying breath, she climbs out and heads inside.

Cantor is kneeling in the knave behind the altar as she enters the church, facing the gilded fresco walls at the back. She treads lightly up the short marble steps and stops a few feet away, waiting. “You have come,” he says finally, without turning around. The subtle note of exhilaration under his words sends a chill through her.

“Settites attacked the Pyramid,” she says flatly.

“Did they.” Was that a flash of tension in his shoulders? “Were they slain?”

“Mostly, yes. One named Anektaken seems to have gotten away.”

Cantor’s head twitches, as if about to turn. “How do you know that was his name?”

“The pirate killed Nitocris but was able to interrogate her in the afterlife.”

“Did he. How resourceful of him.” Cantor climbs to his feet, still facing the frescoes. “Do you fancy this pirate, my child?”

She blinks. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Are you not?” He turns to her. “Does this pirate’s freedom fill you with yearning? Does his Gangrel soul call to yours?”

She stares. Is he…jealous? “Honestly he’s a fucking mess, just look at him.”

“And you find nothing to envy?”

Her chest catches suddenly in fear. …Or does he know about Anstis’s offer to trade knowledge? “No,” she states firmly, truthfully.

After a moment, Cantor’s stance relaxes. “That is wise. Very wise. Where does he go now?”

“He left with the Ventrue.”

Cantor lifts his chin. “The German. The lord. Have you made yourself…useful to him?”

She ignores the lascivious hint to his words. “I’ve tried. He’s asking for information and I’ve given what I feel he’s worthy of having.

“And what does he think?”

“He thinks the situation is calm for the moment.”

“And what does he suspect of you?”

She shrugs. “He thinks I’m Caitiff.”

She doesn’t see Cantor move. One moment he’s yards away by the painted walls, the next she’s flying backward through the air, smashing down the marble altar steps. Her spine catches on an edge and paralysis floods her lower body. Instinctively, she begins to heal, but before she can move again he’s on her, pinning her chest down with a knee, his knife out and hovering above her skin.

“Have I taught you so poorly?” he hisses. “Do you reflect your inadequacies upon me, my childe? My wayward childe?”

“W-what inadequac–” she begins, then cries out as his blade sinks into her flesh, sliding expertly between her ribs to stop just millimeters above her heart.

“What is the German lord?” he asks calmly, ignoring her struggles.

“…Ventrue,” she whispers, careful not to suck in too much air.

“Ventrue, who live lives of suspicion, and hate, and plot. And you come claiming Caitiff and he does not suspect? How came you by this miracle? Or do you speak…unwisely?”

She closes her eyes but can still feel his gaze on her. “He’s seen me do different things, things that don’t track with any one bloodline. He can assume what he wants but he’s no closer to the actual truth.”

“If he assumes what he will, he may assume what is. And then you have failed me. Do you wish to fail me?”

She shakes her head lightly.

“He must suspect something else. He must be made to suspect something else. They all must. Why else have I given you the gifts I have?”

His hand twitches on the knife, sending new bolts of fire racing across her chest. “Bell…assumes my illusions are a sign of Ravnos,” she gasps.

A silent moment hangs…then Cantor gently strokes her hair. “Good. Good. My beautiful childe.”

She opens her eyes. He’s staring off across the church, a sick smile smeared across his face. “An hour comes which has been fated. A bell tolls in the night. When the time comes, all your labors may be laid down….” He looks down at her again. “But until that time, stay close to them. Find what they suspect, and ensure that it is proper. Twist their thoughts in the manner that you have been taught. Let them not see what they truly are, or…” he strokes her chin, “…you shall not be at all.”

She can’t stop a grimace from flickering across her face. Cantor frowns, then leans down. “Does it frighten you, childe, to know that I may take back the blessings I give?” He twists the knife again. “Does it?”

She bites back a gasp. “…Yes.”

“Good. Because it is my right. Serve me and I shall be pleased. When I am pleased, so too shall you.” He eyes her appraisingly a moment, hand still braced on the knife. “But if I am not pleased, I shall retake the blood I have given.”

Horror rises in her chest like bile, remembering Fatima’s warnings. Consumed with pain, she can’t keep the fear off her face. Cantor sees this and smiles. He presses closer, cold breath washing across her neck. “And I shall do it slowly, childe. Slowly enough that you will accept it is right that I do so. Right that I take what is mine, as you feel the life squeezed from you.”

“…Like a snake,” she hears herself whispering in reply, then freezes as fear clutches her throat.

Cantor stops. He stares down at her a long moment, emotionless…

…Until, finally, he breaks out in a wide grin. “Yes. Very much like a snake.”

In that moment, staring into the weathered lines of his ashen face, certainty hits her with the strength of a blow: Cantor was Anektahken. Cantor lead the Settite attack on the Pyramid.

And he doesn’t know that I know.

“And what of your brother?” Cantor asks.

A new chill blooms across her. “He’s…in the Chantry, which is possessed by a different Tremere at the moment.”

“Tremere will scurry and plot. But your brother shall not remain there. When the time comes, what will you do with him? Will you cut him from his edifice and flee into the night in his company?” Cantor smiles. “Or should I claim him instead? I need but reach out my hand and he will be mine. Would you prefer this?”

Pain unrelated to the knife grips her chest. Cantor had no need for a weak-blooded Brujah, but she had no doubt he would follow-through on his words, either as a punishment for her, or one of his games. “I…would prefer he didn’t even know I was here,” she forces herself to say.

“Good. Then you shall have to see to it that he does not. For if he does, he will act unwisely. And you will be required to correct him. Do not fail.”

In an instant, the knife is torn from her chest and Cantor is gone. She lays still a long moment before gathering enough energy to finish healing her spine and the new gash in her chest. When she sits up, there’s no sign of him.

Leaked vitae plasters her torn blouse to her skin. She ignores it, staring off into the candlelit shadows of the church, thinking.

Cantor wants her to make herself useful with the vampire powers of the city, to prove a useful source of information. And all the powers of the city want to know about Cantor. Her bloodbond–and prudence–keeps her from admitting everything she knows about him.

But by god, if it trips him up for even a second, she’ll tell everyone anything she can.

In one movement, she pushes herself to her feet and moves rapidly down the aisle and out of the church.

 

END OF ADDENDUM

 

This entry was posted in Story. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s