Dr. Paine walked down the alley and around the block. If there was anyone spying on the building with Wade inside, they were well hidden. The Egyptian police officer stood on the walk in front of the office, apparently ignorant of the burglary and murders that had occurred inside behind him.
Lucy was waiting for him by the back gate. “The spell has faded. We should be able to enter safely.”
“Is Wade alright?”
“He’s still standing within the circle. The others are dead.”
“Are you certain it is safe to enter?”
“Not really,” she said. “Do you want me to go in first?”
“Yes,” he said.
“That is too bad because I can’t enter,” she said. “I have to be invited inside. You’ll have to go in first.”
“Perhaps we should wait for Wade to come out,” Dr. Paine said.
“Perhaps,” she said.
“Isn’t this a public building?” Dr. Paine said. “Why do you need an invitation?”
“It was used as private offices,” Lucy said. “The restriction on my entering it is the same as a private residence.”
“That doesn’t quite seem fair,” Dr. Paine said.
“If you wish to advocate for a change of such prohibitions against vampires, I am not certain who you would take your appeal to,” Lucy said.
“You could try to enter,” Dr. Paine said.
“No I’m quite certain I won’t be able until you go in first,” Lucy said.
The rear door opened. Wade walked out.
“Hello,” Dr. Paine said quickly. “We just arrived. Find anything interesting inside?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Wade said.
“I smell smoke,” Lucy said. “Did you set the place on fire?”
Wade nodded. He walked towards the alley without looking back.
“Why did you set the place on fire?” Lucy asked again.
“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” Wade said as he walked away.
Across Cairo, Nellie leaned forward as she listened to The Scarlet Lord. Her plate had been cleared and she held her wine glass casually in her left hand. She had worn her best dress, a low cut affair that showed off her curves well. She knew she was a beautiful woman, but she usually did her best to hide it. After receiving the vampire lord’s invitation to dinner, she opened up her seldom-used makeup case and pulled out her best dress. Though he had lived more than 6,000 years ago, he had been a man once and she focused on that.
“Fascinating,” she said when The Scarlet Lord came to the end of his tale of his arrival in Egypt. “Is that when you met Lilith?”
“Yes,” he said. “While she had a strong following in Sumeria, she had a few worshipers in the Nile valley as well, mostly tradesmen who had traveled the caravan routes. And even in those days, the ghouls resided under the cemeteries throughout Egypt. The ghouls have always been her most devoted children.”
“I was curious why you say Lucy is Lilith,” Nellie said. “Is it an honorific name bestowed up on her now since she replaced Lilith as the queen of the night?”
“We tread upon dangerous ground,” he said, looking warmly at Nellie.
“How so?” Nellie asked, pulling her shoulders back briefly to stretch and then resting her chin on the palm of her hand as she moved closer.
“Because we would be discussing religion and politics, always two topics fraught with peril,” The Scarlet Lord said.
“I promise to listen and not debate theology,” Nellie smiled warmly. “I wouldn’t want to question someone worshiped as a god.”
The Scarlet Lord smiled. “Since the dawn of time, Lilitu, or Lilith as you call her, was chief among the demons on earth and ruled over the children of the night,” The Scarlet Lord said. “She had her own followers among mortals, but always she was loved most by other demons and creatures. She was surpassed only by Lucifer in pure beauty. But Lilith was not satisfied to remain in the shadows. She sought the light of the divine. With the spread of humanity and the rise of new religions, Lilith began to question her own role in the world. She sought to restore the past and her quest to do that had led her to a way of achieving it. Not long ago, she summoned many of us to Britain to assist her. She planned to summon the old gods in order to perform a ritual to change the world more to her own desire.” (Editor’s note: see The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire for details)
“I’ve heard of that,” Nellie said. “Were you there?”
“Yes, I was there. Many vampires were slain trying to help her, but quite a few of us survived after the vampire Lucy bit into Lilith’s neck, drank her blood and destroyed her corporeal form. Lucy became our new queen through rite of combat. Would you like more wine?”
“Please,” Nellie said, holding her glass out to him. The vampire lord refilled her glass. Their fingers touched briefly and Nellie felt a charge surge through her body and her pulse race. She drank to mask her emotions then asked, “Weren’t Lilith’s children angry with Lucy for killing their queen?”
“Some were,” The Scarlet Lord said. “Others thought Lilith’s quest was foolhardy and would have destroyed us all. But most of us could sense something else. Lilith still lived inside of Lucy. As Lucy drank in Lilith’s blood, she also drank in Lilith’s essence. Lilith lived though she was trapped in Lucy’s form. But this very year, word spread among the creatures living in the shadows that Lilith was free and walked the earth again.”
“But Lilith died again,” Nellie said, thinking of the banishment spell she had performed at the ancient temple in Iraq.
“No, it is wondrous to behold to those of us who loved her, but Lilith has returned to us,” The Scarlet Lord said smiling broadly, his fangs gleaming in the candlelight. “She inhabits the body of the vampire, but it is Lilith. Trust me, I know Lilith well. It is our beloved queen returned to us.”
“She told us her name is Lucy,” Nellie asked. “Why does she use the vampire’s name?”
“That I do not understand,” he said. “She told me she shares the body with the vampire that had tried to kill her. I do not know how that could be. But she is Lilith.”
Nellie thought she knew how it could be. She had performed a ritual to free Lilith from within Lucy and then immediately had sought to banish her to keep her from walking the earth. Nellie’s banishment spell had failed. Nellie had even feared that Lilith still inhabited Lucy’s body when she had seen her in London. (Editor’s note: see The Howl of the Werewolf for details.) But she had never imagined that two of them could exist in one physical shell.
“Beau,” Nellie said under her breath.
“Are you alright?” The Scarlet Lord asked with concern.
“I’m fine,” she said.
“You grew quite pale,” he said.
“I was just taken aback by your news,” Nellie said.
“Why did you say, ‘Beau’?” The Scarlet Lord asked.
“He must have known this and never told us,” Nellie confessed.
“It is good that Lilith is here to help us at this time against Nyarlathotep,” The Scarlet Lord said.
“Yes,” Nellie said, trying to hide her true thoughts with a smile.
“Ironically it does seem as if Nyarlathotep’s plan is very similar to Lilith’s – though they have two very different goals,” The Scarlet Lord said.
Nellie nodded. “Dinner was wonderful and I enjoyed your company, but we do need to get back to work or your queen will be displeased with us,” she said.
The Scarlet Lord smiled again. Nellie noticed how sharp his fangs appeared to be. “I always enjoy sharing a table with a lovely woman,” he said. “Still and I hope you do not repeat this to anyone, but I cannot help wondering if Lilith wants to just stop Nyarlathotep or to subvert his plans by substituting her own.”
The Scarlet Lord walked her to the stairs. “Perhaps,” he said, taking her hand and kissing it, “we shall have the opportunity to dine together again.”
“I’d like that,” Nellie said.
“I have lived a very long time and you are not like other women I have known,” he said.
“I imagine not,” Nellie said.
Dr. Paine looked at Wade as the pilot took another drink from his flask. The car was parked about a block from the Shepheard Hotel. Wade had spoken little on the ride. Dr. Paine had driven them to the airport to see if Duncan had returned there, but he had not.
Dr. Paine had decided to take Wade to the hotel instead of the safe house for two reasons. In his present state with his nerves still in shock from whatever he had experienced earlier in the evening, Wade would not be of much assistance to the two younger investigators guarding the prisoners. The other reason was that if Duncan was captured and forced by von Listz to reveal the safe house’s location, Wade would not fall with the others. As he thought it, Dr. Paine realized the coldness of his decision, but he had made hard decisions before. He did not want to take Wade back to the temple for the same reason. If one of The Scarlet Lord’s people were captured, Wade and his people were unknown to the vampires and cultists there.
Wade’s quietness troubled Dr. Paine, though. He remembered others in the past that had experienced horrors that had shattered their minds and how they had ended up. The minutes ticked away with no one speaking. There was little traffic on the street despite the lateness of the hour. Lucy sat in the back seat, lost in her own thoughts as she stared out the window.
Wade slid the flask into the front pocket of his flying jacket and then said unexpectedly, “Thanks for the ride,” he said as he reached for the car door.
“Everything alright?” the Doctor asked.
“Fine,” Wade said in a surprisingly casual tone.
“Do you want to talk about why you set the building on fire?” Dr. Paine asked.
“No,” Wade said. “Pick me up at 9 o’clock? I want to be with the guys to escort the prisoners to the airport.”
“Right,” the Doctor said.
Wade stepped to the back and opened to boot to grab his bag and then walked towards the hotel entrance. Lucy leaned forward and rested her arms on the back of the front bench-seat.
The Doctor and Lucy returned to The Scarlet Lord’s lair.
The two of them entered the temple’s office just as Nellie walked in. Nellie had changed back into the khaki pants and shirt after her dinner with the vampire. Beau sat reading a newspaper and the succubus Grace stood near, keeping a watchful eye on him.
Lucy approached Grace and spoke softly to her. Nellie looked at her closely, but discretely as Dr. Paine walked up to her. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost – which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest spooky as this place is.”
Nellie ignored his question, deciding to wait until they were alone and far away from Lilith – she reminded herself to call her Lucy still – to relay to him what she had learned. “Where is Wade?” she asked.
“Dropped him off at a hotel,” he said.
Nellie crossed her arms. She had liked seeing Wade again and fighting by his side.
“What is there for us to do now?” Nellie asked.
“Lucy has The Scarlet Lord and his people out searching for information on Nyarlathotep, Duncan is on Otto von Listz’s tail and Wade burned up all the files he found at the headquarters of the German agents we killed,” Dr. Paine said. “I’m not sure what there is for us to do right now until either The Scarlet Lord or Duncan returns with information.”
“Did you say Wade burned up the papers?”
“Yes, they were in the building when he torched it,” Dr. Paine said.
“Why did he do that?” Nellie asked.
“He didn’t say,” the Doctor replied.
Nellie shook her head. “Is there more to this than you’re telling me?”
“I’m sure there is,” Dr. Paine said. “Good night, Nellie.”