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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 2

The doctor fumbled with the ancient watch in his vest pocket and straightened his jacket, trying to keep his eyes off of the new widower. Essex stood in front of a window, his back to the physician and his head hanging low, but showing no other sign of emotion. The doctor coughed, scratched his head, and spoke again. "I offer my deepest sympathy, sir. I did the best I could-"

"I thank you," Essex broke in. His voice was steady, though soft. "Now, please, I would like to be alone."

The doctor didn't move. He was unsure of what to say; in all of his long career, he had never met a man so devoted to his wife as Nathaniel Essex was to Elise St. Just, and it broke his heart to have to share news of her passing on with him. And even worse was what he must also tell the tall young scientist before him.


The man turned, the light hitting him to show the doctor exactly how much depression had altered Essex's handsome face. His eyes were red, blood-shot and wet from the eternal spring of tears falling from them, made all the more horrible by the ashen paleness of his skin. His customary calm, pretentious expression was gone, replaced by something unutterably cold, and even feral.

"What?" He growled, his voice husky.

"Sir... I cannot tell you how much it pains me to say this, after all that has happened... but, I am not a rich man, and I have a family to support-"

"I understand, Doctor Ffalkes. I will send the money to you as soon as I can. You will have it by the end of this week."

The doctor nodded nervously. "Sir, I have known your family for quite some time, and I as well as anyone else who has ever heard of your house all know that you are an honest people. But sir," he paused, collecting himself, "I also know that you have had some...well... many difficulties in present times, with Mrs. Essex's illness, and the child, and your father's business going, ah, badly. And it is not to say that I do not trust you-"

"Curse you," Essex hissed at him, his eyes suddenly filling with rage. "I told you that I would have the money for you-"

"Mr. Essex, I know, but please listen to me-"

He buried his wearied face in his hands, collapsing into a chair, and sobbing loudly. "Please, sir," Ffalkes pleaded, putting a hand on his shoulder, "I didn't want to upset you any more, I swear."

Essex nodded, but didn't look up. It was silent a few moments, until he finally spoke. "What makes this all so horrible, Dr. Ffalkes, is that I had been working on a cure for Elise's illness. I gave her every medicine I could, and I studied her condition- every symptom, every complaint she so much as whispered in her sleep- as closely and intensely as is possible. And I found it. I found the cure- but when I did, it was too late. She was too sick, already wasting away, and nearly dead. There was nothing I could do for her. If I had found the cure only a month before, two weeks, perhaps, she would have lived. But I didn't. And because of me, she died."

The doctor's eyes widened, and his grip tightened on Essex's shoulder. "A cure?"

The younger man nodded again, balling his hands up together and resting his forehead on them. "One month, Dr. Ffalkes. One month, and she would still be here with me."

"You cannot blame yourself, sir. You must think of it like this: her legacy to us is the cure to a disease which may plague many others, and will let them live. Mrs. Essex would have liked that."

"I don't care. I only want her back."

"It was God's will that she should die, but leave behind something which would save many more."

"Then God is cruel," Essex snarled, standing up and roughly pushing the doctor's hand away from him. "With Elise gone, I have nothing to live for. What do I care if hundreds die of some disease? I have no interest in the welfare of others. I do not care for anyone else. I have no concern for my own life."

"Sir, you are acting irrationally! You have much to live for, Mr. Essex, more than many a man. You have discovered something which will bring you fame and fortune, and you are an intelligent young man who has time to learn to love another. And if these do not matter to you, which I see they might not, then you have one thing more which gives meaning to your life: your son. You must live for him. He has no mother now. He needs you."

Essex quieted, putting one hand to his forehead as though checking for a fever. "I wish to be alone," he said.

The doctor sighed. "I hate to-"

"You will have your money, Mr. Ffalkes. I promise you will have it by the end of this week, if I must sell my soul in order to do it."

Ffalkes hesitated, and then surrendered. "Sir, I know I will have that money by then. You have never broken any promise, as long as I have known you."

"I cannot tell you how much I thank you. For everything." Essex sat again, pouring himself some whiskey from a small glass flask on the table next to him.

"Of course, sir. I will hear from you soon, then." The doctor placed his hat on his head, grabbed his bag, and walked out with a slight nod and mumbled "Good evening," which Essex didn't hear.

Once he had gotten onto the street, which was deserted at this, the witching hour, he turned back to look up at the window Essex had not long ago been staring out of, when his beloved died. The cry of a baby abruptly ended the chilling silence of the city, and he saw a shadow pass across the window, in the direction of the nursery.

Would Essex take care of his child? Certainly, the baby would have nothing but the best, and be spoiled rotten by a father who would think of him only as a living remnant of Elise St. Just. But would Nathaniel want to look every day upon something which reminded him so clearly of his dead wife? Ffolkes didn't think so, and he had known the young scientist for many years. After what the man had told him, he would not put suicide beyond him.

He turned his steps toward home. When he got there, he decided, he would get on his knees. He would pray for this man Essex, and his infant son.

He held the child in his arms, rocking his son back thoughtfully. He had spent more time with the child since he had been born than Elise, trying to get away from the terrible knowledge that she was going to die soon. And now she had.

She had looked so sickly, so pale when she first held little Remy, that both Nathaniel and the doctor had worried she would suddenly faint and drop the child. But she had smiled warmly, and stoked back the baby's dark hair, cooing and laughing softly. Neither of them had the heart to take her son away. It had made her happy to hold Remy, and so hold him she did.

And now he held the baby, feeling only the slightest bit less lonely. The child was sleeping now, one tiny hand curled around one of Essex's fingers, and the other across his belly. He was beautiful, Nathaniel decided, as gorgeous as his mother, but dark, like his father. He held him for a few more minutes, rocking him, until he lifted the baby up to kiss his smooth forehead, and then lay him in his little cradle.

"I love you," he whispered into Remy's ear, and then covered him with a blanket and left him to dream in peace.

He walked downstairs, toward a room he had made into his office, and pulled out ink, pen and paper from a desk. He dabbed the pen in the ink and wrote, in graceful letters:

To whomever that finds this note:

By the time you have found this, I will have died, and I have no real concern for he who finds my corpse. I will be buried by Elise, if indeed my body is found. I grant custody of my son to Elise's brother, Armand St. Just, and all of my money which is not spent in the payment of debt shall go toward giving him the best of educations and whatever else he may require. The New Orleans property will be sold to the highest bidder in an auction, and the money, all of it, shall go to Dr. Terrance Ffalkes, no matter how much this sum exceeds his bill. Please do not mourn me, because I do not mourn my own passing. If there is any mercy which makes up the nature of God, I will see Elise again.

He stopped, reading what he had written so far, and then signed it, deciding it was as good as he would be able to make it.

Nathaniel Essex

The water below was cold. He could feel it somehow, even as far above it as he was, looking down at it from the bridge. It was strange, for New Orleans. He had always thought of the place as horridly hot, but now the icy wind stung his face, and he pulled his jacket close around him.

He stood up on the stone ledge, glaring down at the water of the river. Elise had loved this river. It would be his grave.

He jumped.

The water seemed almost to rise up and meet him, and he felt as though he had landed on hard ice when he finally hit the river. It knocked the wind out of him, and he almost didn't notice the pain lancing through his body. How was it that the water was so cold? The thought passed his mind only briefly, and then he took a great breath, filling his lungs with water.

The sensation was petrifying. His instincts were taking over, compelling him to swim for the surface. He did, for a moment, but was rapidly loosing his strength. He moved his arms aimlessly around himself, his eyes opening to reveal nothing but a dark blackness, which reminded him of his purpose. He crossed his arms, almost embracing himself, and let himself be carried by the water in any direction it chose. His lungs were on fire. His body was aching, bones probably smashed and broken. But in his mind, all he saw was Elise.

Elise, standing in the light, smiling, her hand outstretched toward his. She was saying things to him he couldn't hear, and he called out to her. She laughed, and he grabbed her hand, and she pulled him toward-

The surface?

He looked about him frantically and realized that somehow he was on dry land. And though he was wet, and he was gasping for air, he realized that the water had been pumped out of his lungs somehow.

There was a man standing above him suddenly, one he was sure had not been there the moment before. He couldn't see the man's face, but he seemed tall, even taller than Essex- a giant.

"Who are you?" he sputtered, trying to get up but finding himself too weak to do it.

"Someone who has everything to do with your destiny," the man said to him, but his voice was inhuman, so cold and strong and metallic that he knew immediately whatever spoke to him was no man.

"No," the creature said, "I am no man. I am far above men."

It had read his thoughts! He had only heard of that in the strange tales Elise had told him of the Voodoo mambos who lived in the darker corners of New Orleans. "What are you?" he dared.

"No Vodoun god or spirit, I assure you, Nathaniel Essex. I have many names, one for each age I have lived across. You, however, may call me Master. For from this day forward, the life you have attempted to throw away is mine. I will transform you into something greater, something superior to what you are now. And in return you will serve me for the rest of your existence- which will be a very long time, I assure you."

Essex backed away in fear as a hand- a huge hand, which seemed to be made of metal- melted out of the shadows and grabbed onto his arm. And then, for a reason he did not understand nor wish to understand, he surrendered.

It was his last human memory.


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