“If the Germans weren’t about to kill us,” Nellie said, “I’d kill you myself, Beau.”
The long motorcar raced down the street towards them. Nellie wanted to wait until the last possible moment to dive away so that the driver would not have time to swerve into her. Then the car screeched in a sharply executed bootleggers turn so that the driver had reversed the direction it had traveled.
Lucy looked out the open window from behind the steering wheel and said, “Don’t stand there with your mouth agape, Nellie.”
Dr. Paine moved towards the trunk with his luggage.
“You’ll have to put your bags on the seat with you, I’m afraid,” Lucy said. “The boot is filled with bodies.”
Nellie slid into the back seat with Dr. Paine. Beau climbed into the front seat next to Lucy with a broad smile on his face.
“I knew you’d be here,” he said.
Lucy leaned over and kissed him.
“Nellie is correct, though, that you put too much faith in me. However, I have a present for you, darling,” she said, handing him a Luger pistol. She handed two back to Dr. Paine and Nellie as well.
Nellie took the offered gun, checked to make sure the magazine was fully loaded, and then leaned back into the seat before scooting forward.
“This seat is wet,” Nellie exclaimed. She put her hand on the seat and sniffed her fingers. “Blood!”
“Oh dear,” Lucy said looking at Nellie through the rear view mirror. “I forgot to warn you it got a bit messy back there. I hope you didn’t get any on you.”
Nellie could not see Lucy’s face reflected in the mirror, but could tell from the tilt of her head and the direction of her eyes that Lucy was watching her.
“Where are you taking us?” Beau asked.
“Somewhere safe,” Lucy said, as she took the big motorcar expertly around a sharp corner at a high rate of speed. “No, that’s not quite true. Somewhere safe from the Germans is more accurate.”
Lucy reached out and took Beau’s left hand with her right. From the brief glimpses of the architecture of the buildings lining the streets, Beau recognized she had brought them to an ancient neighborhood of the city. As a lover of antiquities, he longed to ask her to stop just so he could gaze at the buildings and walk in them. Then she pulled up in front of a three-story building made of stone blocks.
As she parked, figures emerged from the shadows of doorways and stood expectantly just outside of the flickering light of an oil-burning lamp burning on a post next to the entrance. Dr. Paine felt a cold chill run up his spine and his hand grasped the Luger tightly. There was something not quite right, yet oddly familiar about the figures. He could tell their numbers grew though all of them stayed outside of the light.
Lucy turned in her seat to face Dr. Paine and Nellie. “I need the three of you to follow my instructions exactly. When Lord Godalming asked me to accompany you, I had intended to follow your lead and to assist you in any way I could. But the situation has changed. Now I need you to assist me.”
“What has changed?” Beau asked.
“Besides the Germans hunting you?” Lucy asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“I’ve learned that the man we were sent to investigate is not a man at all, but a god in the guise of a man,” Lucy said.
“Yes, we know,” Beau said with a shudder. “Nyarlathotep. Our contact told me just before he was murdered.”
“Then you know this Nyarlathotep is not only a threat to humanity, but to my subjects as well,” she said.
“Then you will want to deal with him for reasons of your own,” Nellie said. “We’ll stay out of your way.”
Lucy shook her head. “No, I’ll need you,” she said. “The undead cannot perform the rituals necessary to dismiss such entities. I can say the words, but they do not have the essential spark because I do not live. Even with his power, he and the other gods require the worship and service from mortals because neither they nor the undead are connected to the universe in the same way as the living. If I even knew how to perform the ritual of banishment, I could not because I would simply be producing meaningless sounds.”
Nellie and Dr. Paine nodded. Both knew enough occult knowledge to grasp the truth of her words. But Beau’s face was crestfallen.
“I’m sorry, Beau,” she said. “I need you here with me.”
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard before nodding slightly, almost imperceptibly.
“Couldn’t you simply kill this Nyarlathotep?” Dr. Paine asked.
“He is too powerful,” Lucy said. “I’m not sure he can be destroyed.”
“But he can be banished,” Nellie said. “Beau has done that before.”
“Yes,” Beau said. “And three men with me died horribl. I’ll need access to the proper books to re-familiarize myself with the ritual.”
“My people and I will do our best to keep you alive until then,” Lucy said.
Nellie looked at her suspiciously.
“And after that, too, of course,” Lucy said. “After all we’ve been through together, Nellie, you should trust me by now.”
“You told Beau he puts too much faith in you,” Nellie said drily.
“Yes,” Lucy said with a trace of a smile. “But you have too little.”
“The roof,” Beau said, snapping his fingers. “You were on the roof of our hotel this afternoon after we returned from the police station.”
“Yes. How did you know?” Lucy asked.
“I’ll explain later,” he said. “But where did you go this morning? Where are we now? Are we going to sit in the car all night – not that I mind.”
“Say what you will about the Germans, they do make fine automobiles,” Lucy said. “As you know since you’ve read Arthur’s – Lord Godalming’s – file on me, I am queen of the vampires as well as ghouls and the other creatures of the night.”
“From rite of combat in destroying Lilith,” Beau said.
“As their queen, I have certain duties when my travels take me to the territories of other vampires. Right now we are outside the principle residence of one of the oldest of vampires. He was a vampire before the pyramids were built. Protocol – diplomacy if you prefer – required my granting him a visit upon my arrival. It was he who told me of Nyarlathotep being in Cairo. There is little that occurs in Cairo that he does not know.”
“Why hasn’t he dealt with him?” Beau asked.
“As powerful as my old friend is, even he would prove no match for a god,” Lucy said.
“What is this crowd gathering outside the car?” Nellie asked, peering out the window at shadowy forms.
Continue to Chapter 7
Before Lucy could answer, Dr. Paine said in a low growl, “Ghouls.”