Dr. Paine listened quietly while eating his breakfast in the Shepheard Hotel’s restaurant as Nellie relayed everything to him and Wade that The Scarlet Lord had told her the night before.
“You know, I was just really beginning to like Lucy,” Dr. Paine said. “She – well, never mind.”
“I never did trust her,” Nellie said.
“No, you didn’t,” the Doctor said. “But she did save your life from Cyrus Vance.”
“Probably because she wants the pleasure of killing me herself,” Nellie said.
“Do you think The Scarlet Lord is right?” Wade asked. “Is Lilith more interested in taking over what Nyarlathotep has started for her own purpose?”
“I hope not,” Dr. Paine asked. “I don’t want to sound as pessimistic as Beau, but what chance would we have of stopping him without her help.”
“What chance would we have of stopping her if she has her own nefarious plot?” Nellie asked.
“Beau trusts her,” Wade said. “He must not know she’s also Lilith.”
“How could he not?” Dr. Paine asked.
“Have you ever played him at cards?” Wade asked. “He’s easy to bluff. She could have fooled him.”
“But he’s terrible at bluffing,” Nellie said. “He’s the world’s worse liar. If we ask him, we’ll know if he’s lying to us.”
“That’s true,” Wade said.
“Speaking of the truth, why did you burn that building down last night?” Nellie asked.
“What building?” Wade asked.
“You should give Beau lessons in lying,” she said. “You’re an expert.”
“Did you find anything useful?” Dr. Paine asked.
“No,” Wade said. “Honestly we didn’t.”
“We?” Nellie asked.
“Which part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ did you not understand?” Wade asked.
“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” Nellie countered.
Dr. Paine ignored their banter and motioned for the waiter, who refilled his coffee cup. The tablecloth and fine china reminded Dr. Paine of another life he had lived where he lived quietly, saw his patients on his rounds and performed the occasionally surgery and the rare autopsy as Arkham’s medical examiner. In those days he hadn’t worried about the plots of gods and demons. He missed those days.
During a pause in the conversation between Nellie and Walkaway, Dr. Paine said, “Lucy is in there. She stopped Lilith’s plans before.”
“Nearly 50 years ago,” Nellie said. “A lot has changed since then.”
The Doctor shrugged. “Lucy wants to banish Nyarlathotep. I am certain that is important to her.”
“But she would want that even if she plans to use his magical power for her own purposes,” Nellie said. “The power he has accrued to bring in the Great Old Ones could also be used by her if she times it correctly. He would open the gateway that she had tried to open herself once before and then she could banish him to use that link to the old gods herself.”
Dr. Paine rubbed his chin as he thought about what Nellie said.
“Even if she isn’t planning anything else, just her very existence troubles me,” Nellie said. “Lucy the vampire has killed thousands. Lilith the demon has killed hundreds of thousands.”
“Lilith’s deeds were monstrous,” Dr. Paine agreed. “That is, if the legends about her are true.”
Miles away in his bedroom, Beau awoke with a similar question in his thoughts about his lover. His arm was wrapped around Lucy’s slender form.
“You’re awake at last,” she said.
“You’re not in your coffin,” he said as he caressed Lucy’s bare shoulder.
“I had a lot to think about,” she said. “I don’t really need to sleep any more. I just like to.”
Beau pulled her close and looked deeply into her eyes. “I want to know, are the myths about you true?”
“You’ve read my file,” she said.
“I read the file about Lucy,” he said. “I meant the legends about Lilith. I know Lucy. I don’t know Lilith.”
“You’ve been with me for months too,” she said. “You just didn’t know it. Does it really matter what I did centuries ago to how I am and what I am at present?”
Beau was silent a moment as he thought. “No,” he said. “Not to me.”
“What I was in the past does not have to guide my future,” she said.
At the airport lobby, Nellie sat on a long wooden bench by herself. The two German prisoners sat across from her quietly, still under the influence of Lucy’s hypnotic powers. Ian and John sat on either side of them and Dr. Paine stood across the airport lobby, looking like a bored traveler awaiting his flight, but she knew he was alert. The first indication of something being wrong was when Wade approached her, his face looking downfallen.
“A pilot radioed the tower that his flight was in trouble,” Wade said. “Seth’s plane is overdue.”
Nellie closed her eyes briefly. She’d known Seth Adams a long time.
“Any word from the pilot?” she asked.
“The tower lost radio contact with him almost immediately after he reported trouble,” Wade said. “The
British Navy was sending a ship to the last known position to look for possible survivors.”
Nellie deliberately kept her face a mask. There would be time later to grieve. Could Beau remember the banishment ritual well enough to cast it again from nearly 10-year-old memories? If not, where would be the closest copy of the Necronomicon? What happened to the edition in the Cairo Museum? Was the crash of Seth’s plane an accident or something more?
She tried to think of what they would have to do immediately because of the crash, but all she could think of was the loss of Seth. She wanted to signal Dr. Paine so that she could consult with him, but his role at the moment was to provide security for them. Nellie had to make a decision.
An Egyptian appeared across the lobby and waved for Wade. Wade excused himself and walked over to the man then returned to Nellie with the news.
“The tower reports a plane approaching from the north has radioed for permission to land,” Wade said.
Nellie held her breath. “Go,” she said. “See if it is our plane.”
Wade departed and Nellie sat back down on the bench and waited. The minutes crawled by at an agonizing slow pace. She pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a long drag off it. The two Brits across from her seemed as oblivious as the Germans. They were new to this and they had not heard her exchange with Wade, but even if they had it would have meant little to them. She stole a glance towards Dr. Paine. Their eyes met for the briefest moment and he raised a brow slightly. She answered with a small shrug and then their eyes passed as they scanned the lobby.
Then she saw Wade walking in with Seth and she jumped up and ran across the lobby to embrace him. She kissed his cheek and then pulled out his kerchief from his jacket pocket and wiped off the lipstick.
“I thought you were dead,” she said.
“I’m not,” Seth said. “It took us longer to refuel in Italy than expected. Our pilot estimates the other plane went down about the time we should have been there. We saw the wreckage floating on the water.”
“I don’t believe it is a coincidence,” Nellie said.
“Nor do I,” Seth said.
Wade spoke to his two comrades. “Ian, return to the safe house and await Duncan. John, you’ll be escorting the prisoners on the plane back to London.”
John led the hypnotized Germans out to the plane and Wade introduced Ian to Seth. Ian noticed that not once did Seth give any indication that he recognized Dr. Paine.
“The question is did Nyarlathotep know through his own powers or through a traitor?” Seth said.
“Let’s get somewhere cooler where we can talk about this,” Nellie said.
“No time,” Seth said. “We have to move fast.” He motioned to Dr. Paine at the doorway.
Dr. Paine took one last look around to see if they were being observed and hurried to Seth Adams.
“Seth, welcome to Egypt,” Dr. Paine said.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Seth said. “We need to get word to Beau that his life might be in danger.”
“What’s up?” Dr. Paine asked.
“There’s a good chance there is a traitor in your midst. I’m guessing whoever knew when my flight was to arrive also will know where Beau is. The only reason to down my plane was to keep him from getting the Necronomicon in time to stop Nyarlathotep’s plan. If the traitor learns the book has arrived, then he’ll move to eliminate Beau directly.”
“Or she,” Nellie said.
“I’ll call him immediately. He’ll be in the office,” Dr. Paine said.
As he entered a phone booth along the wall, Nellie quickly related to Seth and Wade what she had learned from The Scarlet Lord about Lucy and Lilith sharing the same body.
Seth looked at her, but Nellie could tell that he was deep in contemplation.
“But that makes no sense. Why would Lucy go the trouble of having a plane brought down to stop Beau from getting the book instead of just killing Beau?” Seth asked.
Nellie replied, “She might have her reasons – if it was her.”
“Who else knew of my arrival?” Seth asked.
“None of my people even knew of it and were not around when we discussed it,” Wade said.
“Grace and Lucy both knew as did Beau,” Nellie said.
“Who is Grace?” Seth asked.
“Grace is a succubus companion of Lucy’s,” Nellie said. “She’s…”
Seth interrupted her. “You are working with a vampire and a succubus? Things have changed since Arkham.”
“There are several vampires actually as well as a cult of vampire worshipers,” she said.
“I can’t imagine how anything could have gone wrong,” Seth said in exasperation. “Did any of these other vampires or the cult know?”
“No,” Nellie said. “I don’t think so.”
Dr. Paine hurried over, his face pale. “No one answered the phone.”
Continue to Chapter 21