She told me that I had the right to know something and that it was best that I did. I caught the undercurrent of her thoughts too: it was best that I did and from someone at the Talamasca or else there would be trouble, and that's trouble, or rather Trouble of the kind only I could cause. So entirely against the instructions of the Talamasca, she told me.
It concerned something I had forgotten all about: that angry and invisible entity that had been hounding Talamascans to their deaths and which I had briefly hunted before absconding from my post to devour another kind of demon entirely. It had first ignored me, then launched a powerful attack on me, and I had the strangest feeling that somehow it had known me.
Well, the Talamasca have been busy with those endless records of theirs and someone had clearly blown off the dust, read an obscure passage in some dead language and hey presto! They knew what it was.
"So what's with the secrecy?" I interrupted her, daring Ian to open his mouth.
"You're not going to like it," she said. And if someone says that to me, they're probably right.
The entity had struck again, carving out a path of destruction throughout the Middle East and finally, following a frightened band of scholars and clerics -
"Clerics?" I said. Lexia looked even more uncomfortable.
"Priests. Clerics means they are priests." I was going to toss Ian out on his ear in a moment.
"I know they're priests!" I snapped back. "What does it want with priests?"
"Exorcists," said Lexia. "We tried using exorcism, but we failed. It killed them all, following them into Europe and finally it found your priest."
"Go on," I said coldly.
"He's unharmed," said Ian. "He's alive and he's in our care now. You can forget Father Adam."
"Oh, can I?"
Lexia was quick to pick up the thread of the tale. "It's not Adam, Lestat, it's his mission. It's been destroyed, the whole operation has gone, the soup kitchens, the hostel, and this unidentified being has even killed several of the homeless people he was sheltering. We didn't know! We didn't expect it. We had no idea what was going on."
"And now you do," I said. "And you'd better spit it out."
"We found it in the de Nazitan scrolls which are very difficult to translate..."
"The what?" My tone suggested that he'd better not answer me.
"What Ian means is that we have traced references to this being going back centuries and we don't think it's a ghost at all--"
"Although it might be--"
"It's a spirit of some kind which has inhabited countless human bodies from which it's been cast out - this is why it attacks people! It's trying to possess them, not kill them!"
"It kills them too," Ian added doggedly. He really had to have the last word.
"Okay," I said, holding up my hands to silence them. "So it's a spirit. So what? Haven't there been dozens of them before? So exorcise it again. Isn't that what you do with spirits? Haven't your de Nazitans got anything especially obscure to say about that? What makes this spirit so special?"
"It's angry, really angry. It's angry at the organization who watch it and it's angry at the exorcists who have prevented it from taking possession of anyone else." I'd never seen Lexia look so passionate. "It's murdering everyone it can: priests, Talamascans and anyone who gets in the way. We can't stop it! The knowledge has been lost to us."
Adam. My poor blind Adam. I thought of that little charitable outpost he had created which I had secretly funded for so long. Adam who once thought that I was nothing more than a lost soul myself, capable of goodness and compassion. Adam, who now knew the truth of the demon I am and refused to see me. I got to my feet.
"So where is it now?"
"It went north. We're tracking it through Bulgaria."
"Lestat, you can't go after it," said Ian. I really don't like the word can't when it comes from him.
"Please, Lestat, listen!" Lexia now. "Will you sit down?"
I relented, throwing myself onto a black leather chair. "What I want to know is why does it know me? I mean, Adam, yes. I will pay it back for that. But what's the big deal here? Why the conspiracy?"
They exchanged a potent and secretive look. My blood was starting to boil. "Cut it out!"
Ian was the one to deliver the punchline. And as punchlines go, it was a whopper.
"We think it made you.'
Once Juliet had left, Lexia asked for a private word with me. She seemed uncharacteristically uncomfortable. As she began to speak, Ian appeared. He was flaming with anger and tried to silence her. Or he did until I assured him that there was now absolutely no way I wasn't going hear it, whatever it was, and he'd better shut the hell up. He threw up his hands in frustration and cursed first me then her, but Lexia is not easily deterred.