Heat (4/4)

Description and first chapter can be found here.

Their parting took place quietly, not a week later, just as their togetherness had often been characterized by a profound silence. Felix was right, Alissa was a serious opponent for him, and given the position of her house here, she had too many ways to get something on him after all. As grateful as Felix was to Lucas and Kanar for the protection they offered him – and he thanked them both sincerely before he left – the constant fear of her was not a condition he liked to endure any longer than necessary.

It made Lucas sad to let him go. But he could not and would not object. He himself was in the fortunate position of having no personal enemies among the remaining lines, and thanks to his age and the exalted position of his master, even in such a case he would have had to reckon with torture and oppression only if he had been guilty of any serious offense. Felix, on the other hand, was an outlaw, virtually without rights, and any encounter with a recognized member of the covenant could result in further public punishment for him for the slightest infraction of the rules. As much as Lucas regretted letting him go, he could not bring himself to ask him to stay. And so it was Kanar, his master, who stepped into the room as he sat by the fire in the parlor that night after they parted, and who at first watched him silently as he stared through the open flames into an unreachable distance.

„He’s on his way to Paris, if you’re interested,“ he remarked as Lucas bowed his head in greeting, but then looked back to the fireplace.

„The House of Geneviève has presided there for decades, and their relationship with the von Bruhn line has been neutral to the end. Moreover, he has allies among the remaining lineages, blood relatives of his acquaintances from the States. They will assist him in settling in.“

Motionless, Lucas continued to stare straight ahead.

„He should leave Europe,“ he said quietly. „Or go north, under the wing of the Iversen, if he’s determined to stay in Confederation territory. South of Berlin, there isn’t a major city where House Marcello couldn’t lay claim to a seat on the council.“

„Van Steelen is only one line among the Marcello, and by far the least. The main line holds no grudge against him. And Alissa is still years away from being nominated for such a seat. But you’re right on this point, of course: one day that will change, especially if she puts her mind to it. And yet – he will never be able to turn things in his favor while living thousands of miles away, always on the run from her. Van Steelen don’t only have friends, and some of their competitors might become allies for him. As far as I can see, his decision is the best one he can possibly undertake at this moment.“

„And, according to this, should I make the cautious assumption as to whom the idea came from in the first place?“, Lucas now replied, looking over at the other for the first time, unable to hide a slight annoyance. That this decision carried not only advantages, but also a considerable risk, Kanar had to know as well as he did.

His master simply stopped there, between the door and the fireplace, and shrugged.

„Obviously a subject he neglected to discuss with you. Given your familiarity, I should otherwise expect you to be better informed about his plans than I am.“

Still annoyed, Lucas shook his head and looked back over at the fire.

„Well,“ Kanar sighed, taking a few steps closer. „If it should interest you any further, Severin de Geneviève is the head of his house and thus chairman of the council in Paris, and he owes me by far more than one greater favor. And as for you, you are in the fortunate position of belonging to a lineage which would be entitled to almost as many seats in Europe as it has members, without a single one of them having yet been claimed. So if you could get used to spending your time a little more fruitfully in the future than watching mankind perish, and as an old Englishman might even be willing to learn how to put accents in French…“ He was silent and waited for several seconds, until Lucas finally rolled his eyes and looked over at him again. „…Then perhaps you should consider whether, after more than a century, a change of residence might begin to suit you.“

With that, he raised his hand in greeting, turned, and with those words probably would have really left Lucas. And the latter wavered, as he often did, whether to curse his master at that moment or to embrace him. Just as he was grasping the handle, he finally addressed him again.

„You are a good teacher,“ he said, and he too now waited until their eyes met again.

„Thank you,“ he added honestly.

Kanar smiled.

„I’ll hold you to your words when your semi-annual workout comes around,“ he replied, smirking. „Well, young man, the road is before you. What you choose to make of it, you must graciously decide for yourself. I would only advise you not to take too much time. Little Alissa won’t stay small forever.“

With that, he recommended himself and left him alone.

With a smile, Lucas looked over at the fire. Yes, find a new path, for sure he would.

But for now, there was a painting that he urgently needed to finish.

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