Chapter LVI: Blood and stoneWalking through the mazelike Tremere chantry, I came into Strauss' lair, the regent as ever staring into the fire. He seemed almost bound to it, the effect on him hypnotic.
'Max, I've got some questions if you're free.'
'I need to know about gargoyles.' Maximillian's usual confident veneer faltered, his mouth opening wordlessly. At once he straightened, the calm air once again shielding the regent.
'Seem's one has taken up residence in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and I've been asked to end his tenancy.' Maximillian looked surprised again. Whether at the presence of the gargoyle, or at how casually I was talking about dealing with one, I was unsure.
'The Tremere created the gargoyles? Why?'
'Complicated Max? Sounds to me like there's something you're not telling me.'
A suspicion began to grow.
'This gargoyle is yours, isn't it.'
Strauss' face fell again, the sunglasses slipping down his nose. The man looked at me, vulnerable for the first time, for the first time his eyes making direct contact with mine.
As ever, I was told only what I needed to know, the words of others being used to manipulate me, force my hand. Well, I could do some manipulating of my own.
'Isaac wants me to get rid of it.'
'This will stay between us, I assure you.' For a price.
Relief flooded the regent's voice. The rest of his words dimmed out though, as I internally reeled at Strauss' perhaps unthinking admission.
Your anarch sire...LaCroix, you lying bastard...
Wordlessly, I left the room, feeling slightly dizzy, already plotting revenge. I navigated the hallways mindlessly, wondering what else had been concealed, what else had been bereft of meaning by the lies of the Camarilla...
Your anarch sire...
I took the taxi back to Hollywood, walked back to the Chinese Theatre, my blood boiling, my mind clouded by anger.
The building lurked malevolently in darkness, the heavy wrought-iron gate creaking loudly, rusty hinges squeaking in protest as I forced it open, stepping into the ornamental gardens. The lock turned easily however, the door opening silently. Just as silently I stepped through it, closing the door behind me, walking into a large empty hall.
Or not so empty. As I looked up, a monstrous form roared, the sound echoing throughout the expanse, glass shattering overhead.
The creature jumped from the roof, hurtling through the skylight, to land with a small shockwave in the centre of the room. It straightened, looking in barely contained rage at me, large rock hands flexing threateningly.
'Woah, hold on big guy, I just want to talk!' I spread my hand, raising them up, showing I was unarmed.
He's not stupid... The sentiment struck too close to home. I was tired of the intrigue, of the lies. Feeling constantly manipulated, made to walk, dangle on the strings held by the infinite puppeteers, wrenching me one way then another.
'You're right!', I yelled, though whether to the gargoyle or myself, I wasn't sure. 'The Kindred are manipulators! But some seem different. I bring an offer from one of the different ones, from Isaac Ambrams!'
'Isaac doesn't want slaves. He wants an ally.'
An idea struck me.
'Like I said, he wants an ally, not a slave! An ally in his fight against your old masters, the Camarilla!'
'The Camarilla are the monster Kindred, the ones who enslave, who lie and make others do their dirty work. Isaac is one of the ones that fights the Camarilla.'
'He does, against the Camarilla and the one you used to call master.'
For once showing my intelligence, I kept silent.
I left the building, the gargoyle talking to himself. It appeared he had made his choice. I had a strange feeling I had come close to making mine. Just like the gargoyle, I was tired of the feeling of being trapped, of my life being permitted so long as LaCroix found it convenient...I crossed the road, trotting down the alley to Isaac's office.
'The gargoyle is yours, Isaac, he'll keep the Camarilla out of Hollywood so long as you keep out of the Theatre.'
'Can say that again. I was expecting it and it still gave me a shock. I'm off for now, let me know if you need anything else done.'
'I don't know who I work for anymore Isaac...but it's not LaCroix.'
Your anarch sire...