“I would have offered you immortality.”
The familar voice rang through his loft, claiming the domain as his own for all Kenneth Irons was his master.
Not that any place could keep this one out. Irons smiled a bit at the folly of myths and legends concerning vampires being unable to enter certain place uninvited.
This restriction only applied to certain vampires.
He turned to see Lucien LaCroix, standing above him, looking down at Kenneth Irons amidst all his wealth and possessions. As always, the ancient vampire made everything seem just a little bit smaller.
Thus it had been when he first met this immortal being, a naive acolyte amidst the Society of the Thule, seeking objects of power.
Kenneth Irons had gotten more than he bargained for. Both with the Witchblade and Lucien LaCroix.
For a moment Lucien and Kenneth just stared at each other. Ken lifted his head, acutely aware he was no longer the pretty young man he’d once been. Youth was such a fleeting thing, paling next to other attributes, yet it continued to glitter and attract, making one all the more aware of it slipping away.
Lucien smiled with his habitual mockery, but something tender softened his cheek and eye.
The next moment, the vampire was standing next to him, touching his chin.
“Why turn down an offer of companionship when it brings everything you’ve ever desired?” LaCroix turned Kenneth’s face toward his own. “You would be an apt pupil, absorbing all with an eagerness the rest of my children lack.” The vampire leaned closer. “Only you insist on accepting these things from only one source.”
“The Witchblade.” Kenneth Irons voiced the longing he’d been unable to confide in anyone else, not even Ian. “It has to be the Witchblade, Lucien. Everything must come from the Witchblade.”
“You’ve made your entire life a shrine to that unappreciative hunk of mystical metal and rock.” Lucien ran his hand down Kenneth’s face.
“While you’ve wasted your own immortal existence upon an equally unappreciative crusader.” Kenneth laid his own hand on top of Lucien’s. “Isn’t that an even greater waste?”
Demonic green light flared up in Lucien LaCroix’s eyes. He pulled his arm away, nearly knocking Irons off his feet. “Don’t underestimate my son.”
“Don’t underestimate the Witchblade.” Kenneth Irons stumbled, but found his footing with his usual grace. “We are both love’s fools, General Lucius. Only while you choose to pine over a fair-haired crusader, I choose to pursue an artifact of true power.”
“Here I thought you Nazis venerated the fair-haired.” Lucien chuckled, but he backed away. “My offer stands, Ken. If you ever wish to abandon your hopeless hunt for an artifact you can never wield, I am willing to offer you true immortality.”
“It does soothe the soul to be wanted.” Kenneth Irons offered the former Roman general a half bow. “Alas, my soul was not meant to be soothed.”
“While I constantly try to enrich the lot of those who don’t want to be enriched.” Lucien offered Kenneth a self-deprecating smile in return. “Until we meet again, my dear.”
The next moment, the vampire was gone.
Kenneth Irons stood in his vast chamber, his personal shrine to the Witchblade.
It felt a little emptier than usual.