My name is David Talbot.
Do any of you remember me as the Superior General of the Talamasca, the Order of psychic detectives whose motto was "We watch and we are always here"?
It has a charm, doesn't it, that motto?
The Talamasca has existed for over a thousand years.
I don't know how the Order began. I don't really know all the secrets of the Order. I do know however that I served it most of my mortal life.
It was in the Talamasca Motherhouse in England that the Vampire Lestat first made himself known to me. He came into my study one winter night and caught me quite unawares.
I learnt very quickly that it was one thing to read and write about the supernatural and quite another to see it with your own eyes.
But that was a long time ago.
I'm in another physical body now.
And that physical body has been transformed by Lestat's powerful vampiric blood.
I'm among the most dangerous of the vampires, and one of the most trusted. Even the wary vampire Armand revealed to me the story of his life. Perhaps you've read the biography of Armand which I released into the world.
When that story ended, Lestat had wakened from a long sleep in New Orleans to listen to some very beautiful and seductive music.
It was music that lulled him back again into unbroken silence as he retreated once more to a convent building to lie upon a dusty marble floor.
There were many vampires then in the city of New Orleans -- vagabonds, rogues, foolish young ones who had come to catch a glimpse of Lestat in his seeming helplessness. They menaced the mortal population. They annoyed the elders among us who wanted visibility and the right to hunt in peace.
All those invaders are gone now.
Some were destroyed, others merely frightened. And the elders who had come to offer some solace to the sleeping Lestat have gone their separate ways.
As this story begins, only three of us remain in New Orleans. And we three are the sleeping Lestat, and his two faithful fledglings -- Louis de Pointe du Lac, and I, David Talbot, the author of this tale.
"Why do you ask me to do this thing?"
She sat across the marble table from me, her back to the open doors of the cafe.
I struck her as a wonder. But my requests had distracted her. She no longer stared at me, so much as she looked into my eyes.
She was tall, and had kept her dark-brown hair loose and long all her life, save for a leather barrette such as she wore now, which held only her forelocks behind her head to flow down her back. She wore gold hoops dangling from her small earlobes, and her soft white summer clothes had a gypsy flare to them, perhaps because of the red scarf tied around the waist of her full cotton skirt.
"And to do such a thing for such a being?" she asked warmly, not angry with me, no, but so moved that she could not conceal it, even with her smooth compelling voice. "To bring up a spirit that may be filled with anger and a desire for vengeance, to do this, you ask me, -- for Louis de Pointe du Lac, one who is already beyond life himself?"
"Who else can I ask, Merrick?" I answered. "Who else can do such a thing?" I pronounced her name simply, in the American style, though years ago when we'd first met, she had spelled it Merrique and pronounced it with the slight touch of her old French.
There was a rough sound from the kitchen door, the creak of neglected hinges. A wraith of a waiter in a soiled apron appeared at our side, his feet scratching against the dusty flagstones of the floor.
"Rum," she said. "St. James. Bring a bottle of it."
He murmured something which even with my vampiric hearing I did not bother to catch. And away he shuffled, leaving us alone again in the dimly lighted room, with all its long doors thrown open to the Rue St. Anne.
Excerpted from Merrick by Anne Rice. Copyright© 2000 by Anne Rice. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher
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