The Blood Kings

by Joseph Anderson

This is a Xena/Forever Knight crossover, although there actually are no characters who have appeared in Xena. Prince Samuel and Angela belong to me but are originally derived from Xena:Warrior Princess fiction I wrote. Nick Knight, LaCroix, and Natalie Lambert don't belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction, which may not be sold and may be copied for personal use only.

I hope this story doesn't tick off Forever Knight fans since I sort of shanghaied Nick into my ongoing storyline. This story contains graphic violence and some rough language.

Northern France, 1601

The inn they were staying at was quiet. LaCroix had just gotten an amazed look and told Nicholas to come with him. He led him downstairs to where a man was standing in front of the blazing fireplace. Nicholas had never seen his master look this way. He seemed nervous, almost embarrassed. Then he bowed. The younger vampire couldn't undertand it since the man facing them was no danger. He wasn't one of them, had no vampire abilities, though there was something strange about him Nicholas could sense.

His master said, "Nicholas, you have a great honor. Let me introduce you to my old liege lord, his royal highness Prince Samuel. Show him the proper respect, Nicholas."

Nicholas looked at LaCroix curiously and bowed deeply to the man. As he rose he studied him, still not understanding what was so special about him, since aristocratic birth didn't mean anything to LaCroix. He appeared no older than 30 years. Richly dressed in long Flemish robes, he was tall and broad shouldered, with blue eyes and dark hair that nearly reached his waist.

"It's good to see you, Lucius. Are you still too merciful as you used to be?" the prince said pleasantly.

Nicholas stared.

LaCroix answered, "I hope not, your highness. I strive ever to emulate your fine example and the example of Captain Angela."

The prince said, "Still silver tongued Lucius, eh? Too bad Angela couldn't remain with me. That would've been something wouldn't it."

Nicholas sensed a shudder pass through LaCroix. But all he said was, "Your highness is right in this as in all things."

"Ahh, there they are!" the prince said. The hair stood up on Nicholas's hands as he felt danger and turned around to see three figures: beautiful young women, naked and barefoot under diaphanous gowns. He looked to LaCroix for guidance but he was smiling and approached them to kiss their hands.

"Fotena, Clealisthia, lovely as ever...and serving the prince as well as ever too, I'm sure."

They were vampires Nicholas knew, but somehow different. He didn't know how. They didn't speak but nodded to LaCroix. Nicholas sensed a connection they had with the prince. Again he couldn't explain it. Nicholas kissed their hands as his master had. As his lips brushed the last one's fingers, whom LaCroix had addressed as Elvira, he had a sudden look into her mind and nearly gasped at the violent images of huge armies crashing together, impaled bodies as far as the eye could see, oceans of blood, and always Prince Samuel...and a sensual pagan horned god. He caught her eyes and saw she was smiling slightly.

"That's enough, Elvira. You've had your fun," Prince Samuel said, and she retrieved her hand.

Nicholas looked at LaCroix who seemed amused. Nicholas felt like he was in over his head, that there was darkness LaCroix had been a party to he couldn't begin to imagine.

"I'll expect you and young Nicholas to dine tomorrow night. I'm staying in Gille de Rais's old castle...I know, Lucius, don't make that face. He certainly was a disappointment. At any rate, come see me with Nicholas."

Nicholas was astounded as before the prince turned to leave LaCroix kissed his hand. The prince smiled benignly and patted his shoulder and left, flanked by his three girls. He stumbled and one of the girls caught him and kept him from falling.

LaCroix looked at Nicholas. "Yes?"

"LaCroix, I am amazed. Who is this that you treat him that way?"

"The Prince of Blood, Nicholas. I suspect you will get to know him much better."


"He wants me to bring you. He may want you to enter his service for a time. If he does, it is an honor and opportunity you will not pass up."


"No buts, Nicholas." LaCroix smiled. "Besides, I saw the way Elvira looked at you. You have quite an interesting hundred or so years ahead of you, I expect."


Natalie came up to Nick in the bookstore. He seemed lost in a book he'd picked up.

"Hey, what's so interesting?"

The tall blonde detective looked over, brought out of his reverie, and looked at the book in his hand and the picture that had mesmerized him: a painting of a long-haired, beautifully dressed man from the 17th century.

"Oh, I found something." He took his purchase to the counter. The red haired woman looked curiously at it as the clerk wrote it up. The Blood Kings.

As they left the bookstore, she said, "Nick, the title of that book sounds awfully close to home for you."


"You gonna tell me about it?" she asked.

He glanced at her as they reached his caddy. "If you want, Nat. It's a little heavy, though."

"More than usual?" she said uneasily.


Back in his converted warehouse Nat was looking through the thick book. It was a coffetable history book full of illustrations of vases, coins, prints and paintings. "You know, I've heard some of this before." The pretty coroner opened the book to its first page and began studying. "Henry Sallwethy ..yeah. I had to read a monograph by him about Greek warlords in college. In a footnote, he mentioned this dynasty and said he intended to do more research on it." She looked up at Nick. "But it's not a dynasty, is it? It's one person."

Nick nodded. "I'm anxious to read this. The prince is older than LaCroix. I only know a fraction of his story."

Natalie was looking at a woodcut of a couple eating lunch outside. The picnickers were surrounded by men and women impaled on high stakes. She said, "Are you sure you want to know more than a fraction of it, Nick?"


"Should we bring anything, LaCroix?" Nicholas asked. They were preparing to leave for the prince's estate. Both wore their best finery. Nicholas was excited himself, having caught it from his master.

LaCroix smiled. "Of course, we will bring something, Nicholas. It is already waiting outside."

Nicholas followed the elegant ancient creature out to their horses and saw a third horse with a bound figure on it. He went up and looked in a pair of terrified eyes. "Who is this?"

"A criminal, a murderer, Nicholas. The prince is one of a kind, Nicholas. He drinks blood as we do but is not restricted to the night and also consumes human food. He does not have our abilities. Good Prince Samuel feeds only on his people's enemies or the guilty. If you ever kill an innocent while serving him, you will be punished. You will never do it again, I can assure you. I never did."

"He punished! And you act as if you love him. I don't understand, LaCroix."

The elder vampire mounted his horse. "If you serve him, you will understand, Nicholas."


Natalie looked at Nick. He was engrossed in the book, finally having gotten it away from Nat.

"Nick," she said.

He looked up.

"What about Bacchus?"

"What about him?"


"The prince knew my history. That I accepted our Lord and Savior, the Lamb of God, and I hoped the Blessed Virgin would intecede for me with her son."

Natalie almost jumped. She'd never heard Nick talk that way. It made sense though; look who he was ultimately--a 12th century French noble.

Nick continued, "The prince showed me his personal temple. He said Bacchus was his lord and had made him immortal. He swore Bacchus was not Satan, no matter what anyone said, and I was not endangering my immortal soul anymore than I already had. He gave me his word.

I thanked the prince and swore to serve him, but said I would never participate in rites to a pagan god and that the Son of Man was my salvation. And I hoped the prince would come to see that for himself and I intended to pray for him. Prince Samuel told me he loved me as an honest and good servant and would cherish me in his heart. Then he kissed me."

Nat was listening to this, amazed. "On the cheeks, right? This French thing?"

Nick smiled. "No. He wasn't French. He wanted me to understand he loved and accepted me so he planted one right on me."

Natalie was speechless for a moment. She could see how amused Nick was. She felt like a yokel. She decided to change the subject.

"Did you ever meet Captain Angela?'

"She was long dead, Nat."

"That's not what I asked."

Nick closed the book looking down then looked at Nat. "Don't let any other of my kind hear you talk like that. They'll kill you. Yeah, I met Captain Angela. Nat, you know I don't usually talk like this but that was one scary broad."

"Yeah," she said with interest.

Nick looked at her. Even Nat loved the dark. He related:

"I had been serving the prince for about 20 years. As LaCroix predicted, he wanted me to enter his service. It wasn't that odd, Nat, really. He was a great noble who had business to conduct. He used me mostly as a negotiater of treaties. I expected to be a killer and instead he told me to study my Latin. He told me to feed only on condemned prisoners. I said 'what if there are none, Prince?' and he looked at me and smiled. He is so merciful! He said, 'Nicholas, we have not spoken.'"

"What? I don't get it." Natalie said.

Nick answered. "I was bullshitting him, Nat! Him! I'm a vampire. There had to be someone who was condemned and I could grab. Maybe I'd have to travel a little is all. God, how could I think I could lie to him?"

Natalie said, "So where does Captain Angela fit in?"

"Well, as I said I had been serving him about 20 years. I still had no idea the extent of his holdings and influence. I was merely helping him in one small corner of it though I imagined I was indispensable. So one night when I needed to feed I found a tavern and took a girl, Nat. Even if he found out I imagined I was safe. I thought I was invaluable to him...and besides I wasn't afraid of his bacchae. Oh, that's what they were, by the way--a more ancient kind of vampire. They were no stronger than I was. I was so arrogant, Nat! I returned to his palace and he sent for me. As soon as I entered his presence I could see he knew; how I don't know. Elvira, Fotena and Clea wanted to rip me to pieces right there. They could have done it too. There were three of them after all--I hadn't even considered that until that moment. But the prince just held his hand up. 'I'm very disappointed in you, Nicholas.' Nat, I'd have given anything to not hear those words! You can't imagine what he was like. You knew it was an honor to serve him. But I was so full of myself I didn't fall to my knees and beg forgiveness. I just said I was sorry I had disappointed him. He said, 'Not as sorry as you're going to be.' Then he dismissed me.

Nothing more was said and I returned to my duties for him. Then one night when I was on a road a woman came riding up to me. I'd never seen anyone dressed like that. She wore ancient Greek fighting leathers. She was tall and redhaired and was grinning at me."

"Captain Angela," Nat said.

Nick said, "Right. She sneered at me, 'So you're Sam's new pet. Just like Lucius, an arrogant bastard who needs an asskicking.'"

Nat stared at him. "She said you needed an asskicking? You're paraphrasing right?"

"No. She was speaking English, modern American English, though I didn't know it at the time, "

"She say anything else, Nick?"

He looked uncomfortable. "Not really."

"Nick," Nat said knowingly.

"She called me a faggot and said male vampires were all a bunch of queers who hated women."

Natalie burst out in laughter. "Captain Angela really had you and LaCroix's number."

Nick looked pained. "It's not like that, Nat. Anyway, I told her to get out of my way or suffer the consequences."

Nat couldn't resist, "And what consequences did she suffer, Nick?...Nick?"

"She knocked me off my horse and rode right over me. Then she dismounted came over and kicked my teeth in."

Nat said, "What about your speed and strength."

"She was so much better than me it didn't matter. I was stronger but I couldn't ever get my hands on her. She laughed in my face and told me to draw my sword. When I did she disarmed me and started doing tricks with both swords. Then she said, 'tada' and cut my nuts off."

"Ouch" Nat said, and covered her mouth trying to keep from laughing.

"Yeah, very funny. She knew what I was, that I would heal no matter what she did, so she just kept doing stuff like that to me for something like two hours. I ended up lying in the dirt without any arms or legs. My guts were spread all over the road. I watched her cut 'em up into pieces. She threw my penis out in a field so I'd have to go find it. Then it got worse."

"How?" Nat asked.

"It turned out I had an audience. I heard her say, 'Well, if it's not the Lord High Fruitfly. You wanna piece of this, Lucius?'

I heard my master's voice, 'No, Captain. I believe I will pass on that particular invitation. Are you about finished? There does not seem to be much more you can do to Nicholas.'

'That's all you know, Lucy. There's plenty more I could do. He still has his skin, tongue and eyes for one thing. And I haven't even built a fire. Sam wouldn't want me to go overboard though, so I guess I'll call it quits.' She came to stand over my face and said, 'Don't ever disobey the prince again. You won't get off so easy.' She kicked me in the head one more time. Then she goosed LaCroix, got on her horse and rode back into whatever hell she came from."

Nick looked at Nat. She was biting on a pillow, trying to keep from laughing. "I'm glad you think it's so amusing. It didn't feel amusing at the time."

Her eyes were watering. Nat said, "I'm sorry, Nick. But you're okay. She didn't really hurt you."

"It hurt worse than you can imagine, Nat."

"Well, okay, but still, you healed up...except for your pride I bet."

Nick opened the book back up to the print of the couple picnicking among impaled bodies. He looked at the tall woman smiling beside Prince Samuel. He could almost hear her mocking laughter at the wriggling bodies. "Yeah, I was out of my league. LaCroix had warned me too, Nat. But I was so arrogant that I had to learn my lesson. There's darkness and there's darkness, Nat. The prince and Captain Angela represented something I'd never imagined could even exist."

"What happened then, Nick?" Natalie asked.

"Lacroix stayed with me until I had healed. I asked him what to do.

'Do, Nicholas? Why, return to your duties for the prince. He has not released you.'

So that's what I did. The prince never said anything. His girls smirked at me, but that was the only indication anything happened. "


Nicholas was studying the draft of a new proposed treaty. The war had been dragging on ten years and turned Europe into a charnel house, one more time. His master the prince was irritated by it in ways Nicholas did not quite understand until he realized many of the participants on both sides were subjects of the prince. That was unknown to many; certainly to the subjects of his vassals. Nicholas had seen any number of great lords, even kings, come in secret to Prince Samuel to beg his forgiveness for the war. There seemed no way to end it. No matter what anyone said they wanted, alliances, religion and pride prevented the slaughter from stopping.

Now a knock came on his door and Nick opened it. To his amazement it was Elvira. The beautiful dark haired creature caught his eye and he stepped back. "Please, come in." She entered. Instead of her usual transparent gown she was dressed as a noble lady. He realized how much she resembled Janette.

"Prepare yourself, Nicholas da Brabant," she said. He looked at her in surprise. She and her companions rarely spoke. "The prince has tired of these fools and is going to supervise other of his lands. He will let these dogs kill each other since they want it so much. You will accompany us."

"I am his to command in all things," Nicholas said. Something was up. Elvira was no messenger. She caught his eyes again and smiled. Nicholas knew that look. "Will the prince approve?" he murmured as she moved into his arms.

"The prince has more important things to worry about than what two of his servants do," she said huskily. Her teeth sank into his neck as Nicholas sighed.


Natalie had found another illustration in the book. This one was Chinese. There was a saturnine looking ruler. To one side of him were three women most people probably assumed were concubines. To the ruler's other side stood a counselor with oddly western features. Nick came over and looked over her shoulder. "Found it, huh? Does it do me justice, Nat?"

She smiled up at him. "You look good this way. The clothes fit you. Which one is Elvira?" Nick pointed to one of the women. He hadn't told her everything about his relationship with Elvira. Nat seemed to have deduced it somehow though.

"So, Nick. Is he still around somewhere?"

He frowned. "No. But I don't understand why. Something happened. LaCroix and I both felt it the same instant and knew he was gone. That was only about 20 years ago." He shook his head. "I can't imagine an enemy destroying him. The prince must have wanted it."

Nat looked at his face. "You really loved him, even after what he did to you?'

"I loved him more after what he did to me. I did it to myself, Nat. He just gave me a lesson in humility. He taught me a lot, Nat. The prince taught me about mercy and he also taught me about cruelty and ruthlessness. He had both in him in ways beyond anything I ever comprehended before."

The coroner turned a page and stopped. "So I gather."

He looked at the title of a chapter. The Impaler.


The counselor looked at his lord, feeling the rage in him.

"Sire..." Nicholas started to say but stopped as the prince held a hand up. His fingernails were long and sharpened and his long hair was worn in a braid down his back now. Fotena, Elvira and Clea, dressed as concubines, were positioned around the room among the other guards and courtiers. Before him in the throne room were four men, their heads touching the floor. They had delivered a message from their master the governor. He regretted to inform his greatness but he would no longer be sending him taxes as he did not consider the prince his master.

"Get up," Prince Samuel said. The ambassadors stood. They were prepared to die. "Your master the governor has his post because my father appointed his grandfather. Yet he feels I am not his lord." It didn't seem to require a response so the men remained respectfully silent.

"Your master, Pu Lin, has further been raiding his neighbors, also my subjects, who have sought to live in peace. The governor could only do this if the people of his province supported him."

The ambassadors feared a terrible death. Great lords often slew the bearer of bad news and they could feel the prince's anger.

"Return to your lord and give him my greetings. Tell him he is a disappointment to me."

The men again touched their foreheads to the ground and backed out on their hands and knees. They had survived delivering this message. They might not survive delivering the reply, however.

Samuel steepled his fingers and just looked at them. He said, "Nicholas, send for General Ling." The prince glanced at the windows. "Oh, and you better get to bed. You too," he said to his girls. The other guards and courtiers in the room remained expressionless, not understanding any of what was being said since it was in a foreign language.

"Yes, sire," Nick said.


Nick awoke and realized he was being transported. He looked around and saw Elvira, Clea and Fotena were also beginning to wake. They were all in a large, luxuriously appointed wagon, sealed against light. He stood and opened a flap to look out at the night. He saw the columns of soldiers extending into the distance. Fotena came up beside him and looked out, then smiled at him. The three girls, in their usual transparent gowns, disappeared out the flap and Nicholas knew they had gone to find the prince. He made sure he was appropriately attired and then followed.

The prince was with General Ling. The general glanced at Nicholas as he came in the prince's large personal war wagon. The man was barely five feet tall and he looked almost that wide. The general had a long thin mustache extending from the sides of his mouth and an equally long thin beard, much like the prince was wearing now. The general made Nicholas uneasy. There was something savage about him.

The prince said, "Ah, Nicholas. Excellent. You and my girls are going to be most useful. Clea will remain with me, but I want you, Elvira and Fotena to assist General Ling any way he sees fit. He knows your abilities so don't worry about that." Prince Samuel was speaking Chinese so as not to be rude to his commander.

The general said, "You will provide me with troop movements initially. When the fighting starts, in three days most likely, you will assist wherever you see our men in need. We will strike before sunrise so you should have plenty of opportunities."

Nicholas nodded. He was excited. He hadn't fought in a real war for centuries. This was no hunting of helpless prey. LaCroix should be here for this, he thought.

Prince Samuel said. "I have discovered part of why Pu Lin thinks he can defy me. He has one of your kind assisting him. They are both fools. Elvira and Fotena will seek him out but if you meet him...kill him, Nicholas."

Nicholas smiled. This was just getting better and better.


He had been providing General Ling with the intelligence he required. At least 40,000 troops were involved. The battle had been joined and now Nicholas was looking for men who needed help before he had to seek shelter from the day. Suddenly he felt danger and barely avoided the stake that nearly impaled him. Nicholas landed and his opponent landed not far away.

"The governor's toad," Nicholas spat. It was a tall cadaverous Chinese warrior wearing Pu Lin's colors. His hands and face were covered in blood. He was baring his teeth.

"I am Quan Ki, you babarian offal!"

The Chinese vampire came at him again with the stake. He wasn't playing games, that was for sure. Nick avoided it and drew his sword. When he charged again Nick slashed down, cutting the stake off near his hands. Then he drove the blade through the warrior's body. The sword was torn from his hands as his opponent leaped away. He pulled the sword from his body and tossed it aside. Nick spotted a tree and flew to it to tear a branch off. Now he was the one with a wooden stake. They met in mid air and Nick was blinded as he felt garlic crushed in his eyes and a hand at his throat, but he struck out with the stake and they plummeted to earth together. When Nick's eyes cleared he saw his enemy thrashing about, trying to pull the stake out. It wasn't a clean heart wound but he was badly wounded. Nick walked over to him. Quan Ki was frothing at the mouth as he helplessly watched Nick approach him.

Nick looked down at him. "This is what you deserve for following a traitor!" Nick yanked the stake out and struck again cleanly through the heart this time. The creature burst into flame. Nick sensed a presence and turned to see Fotena and Elvira had landed near him.

"You serve our master well, Nicholas da Brabant," Elvira said. "My sisters are angry with me for keeping you to myself. I have told them I will no longer be so selfish."

Nick looked at her then at Fotena who was staring at him with glowing eyes. "We are all one in our desire to serve Good Prince Samuel," he said. "It will be dawn soon. We must go."

Natalie looked at Nick and at the book again. There was a stylized ink painting of two fanged creatures fighting. She could tell there were things he was holding back in his story. In the background of the picture, two concubines seemed to be watching the fierce battle.


The next night when Nick awoke in their wagon he was almost overpowered by the smell. Clea, Fotena and Elvira were watching him, smiling. He felt drunk from the odor. Blood. It was the smell of blood. Fotena left the wagon followed by Elvira and Clea. Nick shook his head to clear it and followed. Then he stopped at what he saw. Thousands upon thousands of bodies impaled on spears planted in the ground. A forest of death. That was where the blood smell was coming from. Nick to his embarrassment discovered he was salivating. Many of the were still alive. They were no longer screaming though; they had been up for hours and were merely moaning. Nick only now finally understood the prince's emblem of a horizontal line with a vertical rising out of it. The vertical transfixed a curved line. In Europe it was more crudely realistic, here it was elegant and calligraphic. But both represented the same thing. It was the symbol of the Impaler. Clea caught his eye and he understood he should accompany them to the prince.

A pavilion was set up amid the impaled bodies. Some had been set alight to act as torches. As Nick and the girls approached he saw Prince Samuel draining a golden cup which left his lips crimson before he licked them. Next to him sat General Ling, a cruel smile on his wide face. A man was standing naked before them. Nick knew who it must be.

"Nicholas," Prince Samuel said when he saw him. Nick approached him and kissed his hand. He'd never done that before; it just felt natural.

"Well, Pu Lin, your creature was no match for my good Nicholas here. He followed you from greed but I am served for love." Prince Samuel's voice dripped with anger. Nick was filled with pride at the praise at the same time he felt a shiver at the Prince's tone. He never wanted to be on the receiving end of that.

The naked man, pot bellied and middle aged did not respond. He wasn't particularly brave. He just knew begging for mercy wouldn't accomplish anything. He had intended on killing himself rather than be captured but soldiers had burst in on him before he could carry it out.

The prince stared at him. "Nothing to say? Your grandfather was a fine man. It's too bad you disgraced his name. General Ling, in honor of your great victory, why don't you dispose of this dog."

The general stood up. "With pleasure, your royal highness." He took a spear from a soldier and said "hold him down."

Pu Lin finally broke and began screaming and struggling. The short fat general positioned the spear between his legs and with a grin rammed it in. "Not too far," he said to soldiers who grabbed the man's legs to pull him further down on the spear. "We don't want to kill him after all." They raised the spear with the wriggling screaming man up, planting the end in a prepared hole. Nick was watching this feeling strange, like he was out of his league again. He didn't approve or disapprove. He felt like he couldn't judge what the prince did. It was beyond him.


Nick knew something was up as soon as he came to the throne room. It had been 30 years since the great battle against the traitor, Pu Lin. A famous painting on silk of the victory covered one walll. The floor was inlaid with the prince's emblem, which also adorned a medallion Nick had begun wearing soon after the battle. Nicholas had just returned from negotiations with the new governor of that same province, the son of General Ling.

"Sire, the new treaty has been ratified by Governor Ling. He sends you his humble thanks for allowing him to serve you," Nicholas said.

His royal highness glanced over at him and stood up, his long nailed hands disappearing in his broacaded robes. You had to look at him to realize he wasn't Oriental, it all seemed so natural to him.

"Excellent. Excellent." He spoke to the three bacchae, "Let me have a few words alone with my good Nicholas," he said. The beautiful creatures left, but Nicholas felt their eyes on him before they disappeared.

"Sire," he said.

Prince Samuel stepped down from his ornate throne, stumbling slightly, and smiling thanks at Nick as he kept him from falling. He tripped so often Nick never even noticed it anymore, simply catching him as automatically as the prince's girls did.

"Thank you, Nicholas. You have been a fine servant."

Nick felt something odd, like he had found himself on a precipice without warning. "I hope I still am your fine servant, your highness," he said.

The prince looked him directly in the eyes, those blue eyes like no one else could ever have. He draped an arm around his shoulder and said, "It's time for you to leave my service, Nicholas. You have your own destiny to follow. You are not as Clealisthia, Elvira and Fotena, created as bacchae expressly to serve me. You must find your own way."

"Please, lord. Do not send me away! Have I displeased you, Prince?"

The prince smiled warmly. "No, no, Nicholas. You please me as you always have. But our fates are not entwined except for this brief moment. Return to your master and my old servant, Lucius. He and I had this same conversation a millenium ago."

"Prince..." Nick said pathetically.

The prince turned and reascended his throne, the long braid of hair in back nearly reaching his knees now. As he resumed his seat he said, "This discussion is over. Say your farewells to the bacchae and leave my realm this evening. Goodby, Nicholas."

Nick touched his forehead to the ground and left his lord's presence.


Natalie had dozed off. When she awoke she discovered Nick had put her coat over her and he was still deep in his book. He looked up as she stirred.

"Hey sleepyhead," he said.

"How long was I asleep?" Nat asked.

"Couple hours is all," Nick said. She got up and came over to him again. He had returned to the print of the picnickers surrounded by the prince's impaled squirming enemies.

"There's something more you havent' told me, isn't there, Nick? Something about Captain Angela?"

"Nat, I'd hate to see what you could do with vampire abilities. You're pretty amazing just like you are. Yeah, Nat...I met her again years later."

"Uh oh," Nat said, with a twinkle in her eyes.

He frowned at her. "It wasn't like that this time. And you could show me a little sympathy, I think. Until you actually do it, you can't imagine what it feels like to go looking for your penis in a dark field."

"I'll bet," the coroner answered.

"Anyway," he continued mollified, "I was in Chicago in the early 70s."

"Which 70s?" Nat asked.

"The 1970s. I heard about a wing opening up at the University and there was a special collection I wanted to see. The Pappas collection. LaCroix had wired me it might be of interest to me. I wasn't quite sure why since it was largely dedicated to ancient Greece, but I took his word for it and went to see it."

"And?" Nat asked.

"And when I stepped off the elevator they were both there."


"Captain Angela and Prince Samuel. Angela was behind the desk and the prince was there flirting with her. Only they were different, Nat, younger. Not appearing younger, feigning like I do. I mean really younger. They were around 19 or 20."

"What did you do once you got control of your bladder, Nick?" Natalie asked.

"We don't have problems like that, thank you very much. I approached the desk, not sure what I should do. He just glanced at me and stepped back to let me talk to Angela, since I had real business he must have thought. He was just a kid, Nat! He was kinda preppy looking and he was there with his books making puppy eyes at the librarian."

Natalie was fascinated. "What about her?"

"She looked at me and blushed and asked if she could help me with something. She and the prince kept exchanging these little looks like they were in high school or something and they'd both get red. I asked if there was anything there about Prince Samuel. I wasn't sure what else to do, and she smiled and led me over to a case full of coins. And there he was and she was on some of the coins impaling his enemies. And neither of 'em knew it, Nat! I heard a crash and looked over and the prince had dropped his books, then when he tried to pick them up he tripped and fell again. I had to force myself to not run over and pick him up. I wanted to beat his bacchae to it."

"Then I heard a voice, 'Ah, Nicholas. I thought I'd find you here.' It was LaCroix. I saw him smiling at both of them and they both were kinda shy around him. They probably thought he was a professor or something; he's got that kind of aura about him. I could see something in his eyes though, when he looked at them. He knew what was going on, apparently, but he also felt like I did. I saw how he looked at the fumbling young prince and the way he shuddered when he looked at this gangly freckled girl."

Natalie said, "Did he explain it to you?"

"No. I asked him to but he said I knew all I needed to and if I wanted to learn more to do my own digging."

"What a pompous pain in the ass," Nat said.

"Tell me about it," Nick agreed.

The End