James’s Note: This week, we get to talk a little about the American revolution, which is particularly relevant to the events of this story. From founding fathers to vampire governance, we’re going to hit a lot of points here. Maybe someday I’ll tackle a story set during the revolution, since I’ve read a few and most of them were disappointing.
I extended my hand across the desk. “My name’s Daniel McAllister. I’ve been hired to investigate a recent death, and I’d like to ask you a few questions. I’m a Witcher man.”
I watched his eyes very closely as I said that. Unlike some people who have the true sight, I can’t actually tell if someone’s lying. But a lot of practice has made me pretty good at guessing the truth behind people’s reactions.
When I mentioned a death, he was both surprised and concerned. He could have just been a really good actor, but my money was on genuine. When I mentioned I was a Witcher man, the concern became the dominant flavor. Concern being a perfectly normal reaction in anyone talking to a Witcher man, I chalked that reading up as neutral.
His grip never faltered as he finished shaking and released my hand. “Well, my name is Israel and I run this misguided little organization we call the Brotherhood of Blood. If the elder vamps have hired you to pin some feeding gone wrong on one of my guys, I want you to know you’re getting played. Any actual members of the Brotherhood are part of a strict accountability society. We each voluntarily keep a log of all the humans we feed on that can be accessed by any other member of the society.”
I have to admit, this isn’t what I was expecting at all. The way the Brotherhood had been described, I was expecting a bunch of the vampiric version of basement-dwelling hotheads. Not only did this guy have his ducks in a row, they seemed to have been taught to goose-step.
I raised my hands placatingly. “I’m not trying to pin anything on anyone. Yes the elders hired me, but I’m an independent actor. I’m not going to report anything I don’t believe is true. If they don’t like my findings, they can shove them down their blood holes.”
Israel’s wince indicated that, for some reason he would have trouble articulating, blood hole was now on his list of unacceptable swear words. This only made me smile a little.
“However,” I continued, “this is a completely different kind of murder.”
I pulled out my phone, and showed him one of the pictures of the dead vampire, the words ”No More Kings” prominently displayed by the body. Israel’s expression went on a long and complicated journey that may have at some point crossed paths with two hobbits on their way to Mordor. It started with abject horror at the mutilated vampire corpse, moved to confusion as he appeared to recognize the vampire in question, finally ending up in what looked suspiciously like a migraine.
Israel deflated back into his chair. “Okay, okay, I know that looks bad, but you gotta understand, there are a variety of reasons that can’t be what it looks like.”
I nodded, because secretly I was in agreement with him but I wanted to hear his version. “Lay it on me then, Israel. What is going on in this suspiciously incriminating photograph.”
The exhausted vampire sighed heavily. “First of all, we don’t use that slogan anymore. Yes, I used it a few times in the early days, because I thought it would get people fired up. Besides, it took me back to my misspent youth as a son of Liberty.”
“Wait,” I interrupted in spite of myself, “ you were an honest-to-god Son of Liberty? Like you did hooligan shit with the founding fathers Son of Liberty?”
Israel smiled wistfully. “ Yep, and it always seems so strange to hear them called that. I mean, I didn’t hang out with all of them. Washington would never have hung out with common rabble like me, but I was good friends with Thomas Paine, who I would pit against any werewolf for sheer ferocity. I also swore that I would never, under any circumstances, attend any party thrown by Ben Franklin ever again. I never did find my clothes, and to this day, over a hundred years later, I’m grateful that I have no idea what happened in that pigsty.”
God, I had so many questions, but I had to focus. “Okay, back to the slogan. I’m guessing if you don’t use it, there’s someone who does?”