This Mortal Coil – Chapter 9

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This Mortal Coil
Chapter 9
by Piper Sargasso

Rating: NC-17

Keywords: MSR, AU of sorts

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Recognizable characters within belong to 1013 productions. No infringement intended.

Summary: “What does this mean?”
“It’s exactly what it looks like, Scully. This is why I don’t want you to find me.”
“A vampire,” I whispered, stunned and disbelieving.

Chapter Nine

The fabled Grand Council of the Vampyres. Eight vampires, the
most powerful in the world, sat at a crescent-shaped table made
of marble. The room was bare of unnecessary furnishings,
holding nothing but the large table with chairs, the seat I was in
and wrought iron torches all along the walls.

I sat still as the dead in my chair positioned just outside the
center of the crescent, surprised that they hadn’t bound my
hands or tried to restrain me in any way. I supposed they had
no need to bind any of the unfortunate vampires that passed
through their doors — after what I’d already learned about them
in my short time among the undead, I doubted anyone would be
stupid enough to try and escape.

Sixteen ancient eyes bore into mine, some appraising, some
contemptuous. It was all I could do to keep from squirming.
What they were looking for in this uncomfortable, drawn out
silence, I couldn’t tell, but if Julian could be trusted at all, it was
possible they were digging into my mind . More than possible,
really, if I was going to be honest with myself. Hadn’t I used
that same trick on Skinner in the hospital just a few nights ago?

That thought *did* make me squirm.

I hoped Scully was okay. Claudius came into my holding cell
the night before, informing me that they’d taken her into
custody as well.

“She’s in the dungeons,” he’d said, “but she’ll be treated well as
long as she doesn’t try to put up any resistance.

Claudius seemed reassured by this, but it made me damn

Where was she now?

“She’ll be brought before us in time,” the woman I referred to in
my head as Dark Eyes answered my thought in a crisp, British

Not having a clue what their names were, I’d decided to make
up my own. From left to right, there was Beak Man. He had
black hair, an expression on his face like he’d eaten acid and
one of the biggest schnozzes I’d ever seen.

Then there was Rosalie. She looked like the vision of a classic
Italian beauty — shiny black hair, deep brown eyes.

Next to her sat Vigo the Carpathian. I smirked inwardly on that
one. He looked just like the character in Ghostbusters II. Next
came Jasmine, a woman of obvious Middle Eastern descent.
Breathtaking in an exotic, but cruel way. She looked ready to
take me out right then and there.

I did recognize the man in the middle; it was Reuben Malkov,
the same man I’d met at Claudius’s manor. Regardless of the
obvious contempt he had for Julian, I doubted he would grant
me any leniency. He looked just as peeved as before, sharp,
blue-green eyes narrowed at me.

Next came Tinkerbell, named for her pixie-ish appearance and
delicate bone structure. Of course, I held no false security there
— no doubt she could kill me with the tiniest flick of her wrist.
She sat next to Dark Eyes, the only one who’d spoken to me so
far. Dark Eyes was — intense looking. Her dark features against
such white skin made her seem even more unreal than the rest
of them. And like all of them, save for Beak Man, Vigo and the
elderly, sallow-skinned Reuben, she was unnaturally beautiful.

Last was Red, named for the color of his hair. I didn’t know
what to make of him just yet, but I took his kind expression to
be a good sign.

And it suddenly occurred to me that these creatures probably
heard every one of my names for them in my head. A raised
eyebrow from Jasmine confirmed this, much to my immense
embarrassment. The last thing I needed was to piss these
vampires off. Not that I’d *invited* them into my thoughts,

“You know why you are here,” Vigo began without preamble.
A Bulgarian vampire? Christ. It would be funny, if my life
wasn’t on the line.

I nodded. No sudden moves, Mulder boy. Don’t speak unless
you need to.

“What you have done is forbidden,” added Jasmine, disapproval
lacing her words with venom. “We are well within the ancient
Guidelines to burn you.”

“If I may.” Claudius interrupted from somewhere behind me.
“Mulder was thrust upon our world. He was Turned against his
will, and told nothing of our Guidelines by his Maker.”

Jasmine looked beyond me, unexpected warmth filling her eyes.
“Claudius, it cannot be helped. We have rules.”

Claudius moved to stand beside me. I speculated the gesture
was of symbolic importance when several members of the
Council narrowed their eyes at me as though sizing me up. I
could almost hear their thoughts: ‘Why is this fledgling so
important?’ It wasn’t the first time I felt I had a powerful ally in

“My dear Cassia,” he replied. Cassia, not Jasmine. “Is it fair to
sentence one so new to such a fate? Someone who is, for all
intents and purposes, a child? He is an innocent.”

“The fact remains that he has offended this Council!” Vigo shot
off in his thick accent. “What do I care if he is newly made?”

“You’re being unreasonable, Anson,” Red said to Vigo. “We
should hear what he has to say for himself.”

Sounds of agreement and nods from some of the others. Maybe
there was a chance of surviving this after all.

Vigo — Anson snorted in disgust. “Fledglings begetting
fledglings. It makes me sick! Will there be no end to our
leniency? I’ll say again, I have no desire to hear his account.”

“We are well aware of where our faults lie, Anson,” Rosalie
said dryly.

“The blatant disregard of Julian’s actions among them,” Rueben

Dark Eyes pinned me with an unblinking stare. “We are told he
has had a hand in this.”

“He’s my Maker.” How much did they already know about
Julian and I? I didn’t know if it was wise to expand on my
comment, so I kept quiet instead.

She snorted, turning to Beak Man. They looked at one another,
not saying anything aloud. I knew they were speaking anyway,
with the strange gift of mind reading we all share.

“We have a duty!” Anson boomed.

“Mulder felt he had a duty as well,” Claudius said quietly. “The
one he created stood the chance of becoming a Halfling.”

The Council gasped.

“Abomination,” Tinkerbell whispered.

“I’d like to know how this happened,” said Rosalie. “He
deserves a chance to explain; we clearly have not kept close
enough tabs on this…situation.”

“What is there to hear that we do not already know, Mirella? He
must pay for his deed!”

“Do hush, Anson. I tire of your bloodthirsty mentality,” Dark
Eyes said. Mumbles of agreement from some of the others. “Mr.
Mulder, you may speak on your own behalf. Please keep it to
the point — I don’t know how much longer we can hold Anson
at bay.” Several of the others chuckled at her wry comment.
Wasn’t so funny to me.

I mentally ran through their actual names; it wouldn’t do to slip
and call them by the names I’d given them, as precarious as my
situation was. Mirella, not Rosalie. Cassia, not Jasmine. Vigo
was Anson. I still had no indication of what Tinkerbell, Red,
Dark Eyes or Beak Man’s real names were.

The pixie-ish one laughed, bearing her fangs. “Tinkerbell?” Her
voice was musical and as sweet as her teeth were fatal. I felt the
blood rush to my neck and face. There *must* be some way to
block others from reading into your mind.

“There is,” she said. She didn’t elaborate, which I took as a bad
sign. She must’ve thought I wouldn’t survive long enough to
need that skill.

She laughed again. “Your thoughts amuse me, Young One, and
therefore I will spare your poor mind the vexation. I am

“I’m Emma,” Dark Eyes said.

“Gabriel,” Red offered.

I looked at Beak Man, the last mystery. He glared at me, arms
crossed. Emma was trying, and failing, to suppress a smile.
“Braulio,” he said gruffly, and like Emma, also in a refined
British accent.

Shit. Must be sensitive about the nose — so much for staying on
everyone’s good side.

Anson snorted. “Now that we’re all friendly, can we get this
travesty over with? I’d like to hunt before sunup.”

Emma, Gabriel and Gillian looked at him in disgust.

“The fact that you still hunt nightly is proof enough that your
judgment is somewhat skewed, Anson,” Braulio sneered.

They glared at one another in silence. The rest looked at me
expectantly. I cleared my throat and began to explain what
happened — all of it, from discovering the note in my apartment
from Julian inviting me to the Convenire, to the moment I was
forced to Turn Scully.

When I finished, they sat in silence, staring at me. It was

Anson, as expected, spoke first. “Enough of this nonsense!” He
banged a fist against the stone slab. “Did he not have a mentor
in Claudius? Was he not warned of the dangers before
completing Liliana’s task?”

“This situation is unique, Anson–” Gabriel began.

“We set these rules for a reason! Grant leniency now, and every
fledgling twit with a Lestat complex will begin to create more
of our kind.”

Claudius remained still at my side. “Anson brings up a valid
point,” he said. I looked sharply up at him. What the hell was he
*doing*? “However, the situation was indeed dire. The young
woman had already been the victim of one botched Turning,
and then another. There is no doubt in my mind that, had she
been allowed to progress with only a partial intake of The
Blood, she would have become a Halfling.”

“By his own admission, Mr. Mulder allowed her to feed from
him after Liliana’s first attempt,” Cassia said.

“To keep her alive,” I interjected, “not to Turn her!”

“Be that as it may, Turn her you did.” She screwed up her face.
“Had you left her to her fate, Liliana would have been brought
before us rather than you. She would have had *us* to answer
to for this unauthorized act.”

“Scully would have died!”

The woman gave me a cold sneer. “What do we care for
mortals? They are food, you foolish creature! If not for our high
regard for Claudius, I can promise you would already have been
secure in an execution tower to await the sun while we went
about our nightly amusements. We still may! Look where your
affection for a mortal has gotten you.”

“It would seem his interruption of the first Turning and the
Blood he gave the woman *would* have affected Liliana’s
second attempt,” Braulio added. “If anything, he is at least
partly responsible for the woman’s risk of becoming a Halfling.”

Great. The man says nothing but his name the whole time, and
now this?

“However, his last intervention stopped an abomination
occurring. For that reason, and in deference to Claudius, I
oppose a Burning.”

“No one has called for a vote!” Anson cried.

Braulio glowered at Anson. “You’ve made your position clear. I
am merely stating mine as well. A Burning would be unmerited
in this situation, when Julian and Liliana are the ones who
*should* be punished. Why we continue to dance around the
issue of that…demonic pair…is beyond my comprehension.”

“I quite agree,” Emma put in. “There is nothing to be gained by
executing these fledglings; they are as much *our* victims as
they are Liliana and Julian’s — ”

“Spare us, Emma,” said Cassia.

“She’s right,” Rueben said, the second sentence he’d uttered all
night. “If we had been vigilant in our duties, the Convenire
would never have become so reckless. As it is, these fledglings
are public figures in the mortal world… Julian does us all an ill-
fated turn and endangers our kind with his flippancy *yet

Gillian cleared her throat. “If we all agree there is nothing more
to be gained this evening, I propose we call a vote.”

Nods all around.

No, this wasn’t right! They wouldn’t sentence us without Scully
present, would they?

“What about Scully’s testimony?” I asked.

Cassia scowled. “This isn’t a mortal court of law. We’ve already
listened to you; we don’t need her version of events.”

If I was alive I would have had a lump the size of New York in
my throat in anticipation of my sentencing. I’d be sweating a
river and my pulse would be out of control. But I wasn’t alive
and instead, I felt hollow inside. I prayed that whatever the
outcome, Scully would be allowed to live. Even as I sat there, I
knew it was an impossibility; if I was condemned to death, she
would be, too.

Mirella stood and spoke in her clear Italian-accented voice. “By
sacred law and in keeping with the traditions of our ancient
Guidelines, the Council will cast its vote. Our decision is
irreversible. Let none hereafter oppose our greater wisdom.”

They all stood. I fought the urge to bolt — and it was a strong
urge. Eight of the most powerful and deadly Ancients locked
their gazes with mine as they decided my fate… I couldn’t
imagine anything more terrifying.

“All those in favor,” Mirella continued.

Each member produced something that looked like a fat stick
with runes carved into the smooth wood. Natural curiosity had
me leaning forward in my seat to get a closer look before
Claudius placed a hand on my shoulder. A slight shake of his
head told me that maybe staring wasn’t such a smart idea. Then
they held the sticks a foot or two above the slab table. I tried to
look calm, even as the hollowness inside of me grew into panic.
This was it.

Cassia and Anson placed their rune-inscribed sticks on the slab,
then stepped back. The others held theirs still above the marble,
in the same position as before. With a satisfied look on her face,
Mirella said, “The Council has spoken.”

“What is it?” I whispered to Claudius. I had no idea what the
significance of the sticks were, or what decision the Council had
come to.

But before he could answer, Anson snorted. “Hardly surprising.
Fools to a one!” He left quickly, Cassia on his heels. I took his
outburst as a good omen, considering his eagerness to roast us

The rest filed out in silence, save for Gillian. It was surreal.
“What happened? Can we leave? Where’s Scully?”

She smiled. “Anson and Cassia were outnumbered, you are both
safe. Your companion will be sent up shortly.”

Relief washed over me. Claudius laughed at my reaction, which
must have been pretty obvious since Gillian was grinning even
wider now.

She stopped at the door. “Oh, and Young One? See to it you
don’t give us cause to bring you back.”

No problem, I thought. Even the air in this place scared the shit
out of me.

Minutes later, a wiry vampire entered the room, his hand
gripped around Scully’s upper arm. As soon as she saw us, she
jerked away from her jailer’s grasp, tossing off a dirty look in
his direction for good measure. Claudius chuckled beside me.

“Come. Let’s go home.”


When we arrived at Claudius’ manor, we found the older
vampire had an unexpected visitor.

“Dear God, Demetrius! What’s happened?”

The vampire who always seemed so brooding and indifferent to
others before was nowhere to be seen. In his place was a
shaking, bloodied thing, leaning against the sandstone railing as
if the ground was shifting beneath him.

“It’s not mine,” he whispered, answering the question no one
had yet asked. “Not mine.”

The blood. If not his, then whose was it? Claudius looked
concerned, too, and Scully clutched my arm. Not in fear though,
never that. It was a protective gesture. I stepped away, putting
myself between her and Demetrius. I had yet to believe, as
Claudius did, that the other vampire could be trusted. Not that I
could’ve done much if he chose to attack; Demetrius had the
powerful advantage of age.

“You must see Maeve,” he told Claudius. “She needs you.”

We followed him into the house and up the stairs into a spare
bedroom. There, lying in a ball on the bed, was Maeve. Her
shoulders shook with the force of her sobs, blood colored the
fabric of her elegant dress. It dried on her arms and legs and
rubbed off her face and neck onto the bedcovers. Her hair was
matted with it.

Claudius carefully sat on the bed next to her. She sat up and
clutched him, her cries tearing hoarsely from her throat. Maeve
was the first person I’d met at the Convenire and, in her own
way, the only one to try and warn me of the dangers ahead. I
felt an odd and unexpected attachment to her. To see her like
this was unbearable.

“What happened to you, love? Darling, darling Maeve,”
Claudius cooed in a strained voice. “Shh… I’ve got you.”

I looked at Demetrius, hoping for some answer to her condition.
It was obvious from the larger amount of blood on her that he
wasn’t the source of the bleeding. But Maeve — was she

“What’s been done to her, Demetrius?” Claudius asked.

“Caleb’s gone…she was there when it happened. I had to pull
her away and carry her here as soon as he left.”

Maeve wailed, still clutching desperately to Claudius. “He
killed him! Julian killed my sweet boy! Oh, my Caleb…” she
dissolved into hysterical tears, each choked sob cutting straight
through us.

Scully, though she knew nothing of Maeve, moved to sit on the
opposite side of Claudius. Intrinsic compassion overrode
wariness as she wrapped her arms around the woman,
surrounding her with comfort. I knew this even without seeing
her face; hadn’t I witnessed her in action with countless victims
when we were mortal? I might have regretted her Making, but I
could never regret spending eternity with her.

Claudius looked over her shoulder to catch my eyes. “This must
end,” he said darkly.

I nodded.

Maeve began to calm down between Scully and Claudius, the
wracking sobs slipping into whimpers. Claudius looked at
Scully. “Will you stay with her?”

She nodded.

Claudius untangled himself from the three-way embrace and
motioned for Demetrius and I to follow him out into the hall.
We stood in uncomfortable silence before Claudius spoke.

“Caleb is definitely gone?”

“Yes, there is no doubt,” Demetrius replied with a meaningful
look. “I found her holding the remains in the conservatory. He
killed the boy right in front of her,” he bit out, “in order to ‘teach
her a lesson’ about coming to you. I cannot even guess how he
knew, but we dare not go back.”

“No, you must both stay here.” Claudius closed his eyes and
sighed. He looked like he wanted to cry himself, but was
forcing the emotion back. I wondered, how could Julian have
killed the boy when it was still dark out? Any why all the

Then I remembered one of the first conversations I had with

“‘Can anything kill you?’

‘Ah, now we’re getting to the meat of
things. Stakes through the heart are quite painful,
I assure you. But, once it is removed and enough
blood is consumed, the wound will start to heal
itself. If anything, it’s an annoyance to be staked.
Such a cliché.’

‘Folklore denotes driving a stake through the
heart, cutting off the head and stuffing the mouth
with garlic as the only way besides sunlight to
kill a vampire. You’re saying this is all a myth?’

‘Unfortunately, cutting off the head is fatal to any
creature, immortal or no. Sunlight is also devastating
to the oldest vampires, deadly to fledglings.'”

Exposure to sunlight is relatively clean; you burn to ashes, and
your ashes are carried off by the wind. From what I understood,
it’s a bloodless business. But beheading?

Even knowing what an animal Julian was, it was hard to come
to terms with this. That he had it in him to cut the head off a
boy in front of his ‘mother’…


Claudius opened his eyes and looked at me as if just
remembering my presence. Understanding flickered over his
face at that moment, like he knew I’d just grasped the severity
of the situation.

“It looks as if you’re going to get your revenge after all, Mulder.
For all of us.”