Across the city, in the High Lift district was a 19th century mansion called “Knighthouse.” The large 16-room residence stood out because it was made of black stone that absorbed all light so that even during the day it looked like a shadow or a phantom. The original owner, Demetrius Washington, had impeccable, and expensive, taste. The rooms were a study in fine, rich wallpaper, and various forms of hardwood, some of which had even been cut into shapes that reflected his interest in geometry. When he was murdered at the hands of his wife, his brother became owner.
Through the generations the home has been willed to the leading member of the Knighthood. When their existence in the city became a source of public discord, they moved to the cabin and left the house to the non-actives.
Now, it was mostly a community center. A knight community center. It did house some on the third floor, but mostly it was where knights came to feel safe and practice their craft. They were taught to summon and control demons, how to possess humans, and most importantly, how to defend themselves against cleaners. It also housed young knights as wards and some older knights who needed refuge from their families.
As always it was run by the strongest non-active knight. At present, that knight was Isadora Castor, a tall woman with the complexion of chai tea that showed none of her 25 years and pitch black hair that sat in light waves at her chest. Among those she shared residence with were the shorter, yet more muscular Kailey Haren, her second, and the taller and much paler Mitchell, her third, whose face wore the markings of an everlasting emo phase. Together they’d run Knighthouse for over five years with Izzy serving as a bridge between the Knighthood and the non-actives. It wasn’t often that the Knighthood had anything to say to Knighthouse, but when they did they told Izzy. Only if she weren’t available would they bother with the other two. For the rest, maybe the actives would spare a “Hi,” now and then… in passing… on the street… maybe.
A sliver of silver shone on the black rock. Izzy was up before the sun. She hadn’t slept well. The Knighthood’s death weighed on her, flooded her with mixed emotions. There was no love lost, but without them, the Guild City knights were more vulnerable than they’d ever been. Maybe that was the plan, keep the knights unprotected then wipe them out. Then again, anyone who could destroy the Knighthood in one blow, could wipe out the rest of the knights with no problem.
This whole thing reeked of Lillas Mehkinnan. Her nonchalance when they spoke, her complete and utter indifference made wonder if the little brat hadn’t killed them all herself. It wasn’t like murder was beneath her. She probably had the most extensive and diverse body count of anyone in town. Among the deceased were knights, magicians, empowereds, and scientists. That’s right. Scientists. The Guild City Center for Genetic Research and Development, also known as Gen Cen, may have been willing to cover-up that day, but Izzy knew. Vampires don’t whisper nearly as well as they think.
“If we’d done it, we’d say so.” Ooo!! Her hubris was a bottomless pit. No way she’d have the decency to lie to Izzy. Besides, Kratt would never allow it and she would never go against him. Regardless of how unfit he was to lead.
This morning’s venture took Izzy and her partners to the coroner’s. She had to see the bodies for herself. It wouldn’t be hard to tell if the cleaners were involved or not. The trio and two other of their associates, arrived bright and early. No one was there, yet, as the place had barely opened. At the front desk was a man she would describe as a tall Doughboy, right down to his cue ball head.
“Nine bodies were brought in early this morning. I’d like to see them.”
“Sure,” he said, eyeing her crew as if they bored him. First thing in the morning and he was already in a bad mood. Gotdamn. He handed Izzy a clipboard with a form and pen attached. “I just need you to fill out this visitor log.”
No. They don’t do that. They may not have much significance to cleaners like Lillas, Kratt, and Jet, but these weaklings, these slabs, they were going to learn respect. With the flick of her wrist, she conjured a demon the size of a man, then forced that demon to take possession of the powerless mono in front of her. Now, instead of trying to give them rules, he was a brainless puppet, waiting for instructions from his masters. Left on his own, he would wreak havoc and murder anyone in arm’s reach.
Good. Exactly what he was good for.
They walked past him like he didn’t exist.
In the room, were bodies on tables, waiting to be stored. They pulled the sheets back and frowned. They were all completely ice blue. Lillas didn’t have this power, at least not that anyone knew. Maybe she was telling the truth after all. Then again, why would she lie? As she’d said, it wasn’t like the knights could stop her. Whatever. Fuck her and them.
“Where’s Joe?” she asked. “Find him.” It took a few seconds, but there he was. Joe Griswold, the strongest of them. Just as dead and useless as the others. As the leader of the knighthood, and in fact all of the knights in Guild City, his addiction to power, and regressive ideas did nothing but hold them back. And he had the nerve to turn on another member of the knighthood? Boyd Boon wanted to empower his people so they could stand up against the cleaners. But Joe feared him, feared he’d take his position from him. He was such a small minded imp.
Now he was dead. After the way he turned on Boyd, he deserved nothing less.
“Should we contact Command?” Kailey asked.
“No, contact Boyd. Tell him to call me. I’ll contact Command. When I’m ready.” She stood over Joe’s body, wanting to celebrate, but couldn’t. “Something is wrong. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but something about this is not right.”
There was a loud crash and screaming from out front. More monos were coming in and being attacked. And that was Izzy’s cue to leave.