Book I: Fires both sacred and profane - Chapter one (Rewrite)

Rating: PG-13 atm
Pairing: Gabriel Knight/Baron Friedrich von Glower
Time Frame: GK2, the final chase....and beyond
Characters: Canon for the most part
None of GK's original characters or stories belong to me, all hail Jane Jensen!

Fires both sacred and profane

Chapter one ~ “Subtle he must be, who could seduce Angels”

“Capricious, wanton, bold, and brutal lust Is meanly selfish; when resisted, cruel; And, like the blast of pestilential winds, Taints the sweet bloom of nature's fairest forms”
(John Milton

Years later Grace Nakimura would find it almost impossible to recall what exactly went wrong that night at the opera. It had been a good plan, born out of sheer despair maybe, yet she'd never allow it to be questioned. All she could remember was utter chaos and surges of panic after Baron Friedrich von Glower had thwarted not only her plan but Richard Wagner's carefully laid out instructions to destroy him so many years ago. Who would have considered the determination of a despairing werewolf on the verge of capture anyhow? Yet the moment the unthinkable happened, she wanted to slap herself for believing that a lock and a key would hold so magnificent a foe.

Even before she had had to aknowledge his brilliance she'd already been caught by his fire, something she had very much in common with his surroundings. His date, a blonde beauty with a dazzling smile, was looking at him rather than at the stage, and even the stuffy Kommissar Leber shot him a looking that spoke both of envy and admiration. 

Of course she had known that the plan was flawed, being originally intended for a different theatre, a different person and a different time. Hope provided what confidence and knowledge could not and would not, however it was the Baron's determination to stay alive that rendered it futile. Defying both logic and nature he had leapt over the balustrade of the Mittelloge, growling and hissing like a cornered predator. To see his demeanor change from suave, elegant and almost endearingly delightful was no easy feat, much as she hated to admit it. He was a predator preying on innocent lives, a man who had killed and doubtlessly would kill again, yet none of these facts seemed to matter as much as his effortless, even arrogant power over the man she loved. - He loves him too, in a twisted way, maybe, but he does! - her conscience chimed up; she stomped it out. This was no time for sentimental musings, this was a death trap, and once again she was caught in the middle. Malia Gedde she had disliked immensely, yet this was nothing compared to what she felt for the man who had tainted Gabriel's soul and who seemed to arouse anything but indifference in whoever crossed his path.

That a romantic like Ludwig II would fall for such a creature she could see, But Gabriel? Gabriel, who flirted with every woman under eighty and who had, as far as she knew, never shown any interest in anything but gorgeous women. As she was running down the stairs her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest, ready to burst. Catching her breath she asked Paul about the path her foe had taken and she wasn't surprised to find out that that he had made it outside into the darkness safely. Torn between the reckless impulse of running after him and finding Gabriel she finally chose the latter. She found him, mercifully in human form, huddled up against the back wall of the little office they had occupied for what seemed a lifetime. He was shivering and breathing hard, his face an ashen mask of disbelief and confusion. She approached him carefully, the memory of his latest outburst still fresh on her mind.

"Gabriel?" she asked softly before kneeling down to meet his eyes. There was no anger in in his mesmerizingly green eyes, no reproach, he was looking at her as if he had never met her before.

"Gabe, it's me, Gracie..." she began again and broke off, not knowing how to offer any comfort or relief. At last, some recognition lit up in his eyes and a slight, typically flirtatious smile curved his lips.

"I'm a werewolf, darlin', not blind...." he drawled, making it sound like some ridiculous joke.

"You really are incorrigible!" she huffed indignantly.

"That something he'd say, it's really startlin' how much ya guys got in common...."

"Why, thank you for the compliment!" The comparison both stung and flattered her. "I will let you know when my next killing spree is scheduled. Care to join me?" Join me! Yours....yours.....join me.....JOIN ME!

"Stop it!" he hissed angrily, and before she could even blink he was back on his feet. "Stop it for once in your life, will ya? I've had enough of this t' last for a lifetime!" It all came crashing down with those few words, their meaning weighing him down like iron. He felt trapped, betrayed and alone. Von Glower's offer had never been more tempting, the urge to go to him and let those broad shoulders carry his burden was like a siren's song. Now he knew what he had meant by "I think you shall want me then!", for nothing came closer to the truth than those simple words. Whatever strength he had had to resist, the Change was sucking out of him. The physical pain, and it was formidable, was nothing compared to the emotional torment he was going through. Suddenly he knew there'd be no salvation, no rebirth in green (Whatever the hell that meant!), that he was forever tainted by his Maker's bloody kiss. He had to find him, and soon. Avoiding that confrontation had done more harm than good, he knew that now. And, maybe due to his instincts being sharpened by what von Glower had called the Gift, he knew just where to find him.

A bond more intense than any he had ever known tied him to the Baron, and if it was to be severed, he somehow knew, he'd bleed and suffer. All that to be human again, it is worth it, he told himself. Grace had stood up as well, he could almost see the wheels in her heard turning, trying desperately to come up with a plan B. 

"I'm goin' after him!" he said in a tone that brooked no opposition. "This is personal, Gracie, I gotta fight my own battles!".

"You must have lost your mind! I can't let you..." He'd never know the end of that sentence, for he cut in brutally, eyes ablaze.

"Let me? Let me?" he barked, shaking with fury. "Guess what, darlin', you're not my Mom and therefore in no position to give me orders! You tried and you fucked up. Not just a little but big time. So you stay out of this, got that? " She offered no reply, merely contented herself with looking pissed, which he chose to ignore. As he was about to walk out the door, she called him back.

" careful, alright?" She meant it, he knew, and he could not leave her in such a state.

"Always am, no?" he joked before pulling her into a long, warm hug. She smelled of jasmine and fear, but relaxed somewhat into his embrace. "Never knew ya were interested, love...." he drawled into her hair.

"Oh, you.....!" she reared back indignantly.

"Haven't changed that much, eh?" he winked before leaving the office.

No, and I pray it'll stay that way, she thought before going back to settle things in the theatre.


It was a quiet night, nothing seemed to be able to disturb its peace. One advantage of living near the outskirts of Munich was that calm, almost unnatural quietness, tonight however it seemed eerie rather than calming. The beautiful Villa near the Perlacher Forst clearly outshone its companions both in elegance and refinement. Someone had once told Gabriel that a man's castle, no matter how humble, reflected his true nature and in this case it was both shockingly true and false. Only the best is good enough for him, be it his impeccable wardrobe, the soberly elegant villa or the date he was just sending on her way with a languid and, Gabriel somehow knew, more stirring than calming kiss.

Jealousy reared its ugly head at the gesture, a feeling he could neither comprehend nor stomp out completely. As he watched the two lovers, he recoiled inwardly at the word, a feeling of utter loneliness was sweeping through him, tearing at his defenses, leaving him wretched, lost and tempted beyond all earthly things. Would that girl never leave? From the looks of it she had something else in mind. Her arms were wrapped around von Glower's neck, her lips devoured his hungrily, she looked like she'd found her own personal nirvana. A subtle change of demeanor, a deep intake of breath....and the embrace was broken. Whispering a few words Gabriel could not hear, the Baron said Goodbye as a taxi halted in the driveway to pick the girl up. She pouted, cast a longing gaze at the main entrance leading into the villa and finally got into the cab. The Baron followed the taxi with his eyes until it was safely out of sight and then turned around slowly to cast an intense gaze in Gabriel's direction. No gesture or word betrayed his knowledge of his Chosen One's presence behind that large, blooming rose bush until he smiled that bewitching smile that had disarmed Gabriel the minute they had met. One more deep intake of breath, as if to reassure himself of his good fortune.

"Come to me, there is no need to hide from me." he said so very softly that only one of his kind would be able to hear it. Utter silence was the response which provoked a slight chuckle.

"If you're fearing punishment, there will be none....for now..." the Baron teased, only half serious. Still no reply, save for a barely audible hiss of anger.

How had he managed to go from near-capture-frenzy to his poised, elegant self in so little time? Gabriel clenched his teeth and made a step towards the driveway. So many emotions were flitting through his mind, buzzing and tearing until the pain and need overpowered him. He approached the source of all his turmoil and confusion as calmly as he possibly could and finally they were eye to eye again for the first time in months. The fact that he had to look up to meet the Baron's sapphire like gaze irked him more than it used to.

"I have waited for this moment for a long time...." von Glower said, his eyes glowing as affectionately as ever.

Caught by the man's fire, Gabriel felt his defenses crumbling, his anger boiling, his heart breaking.

"Damn you!" he hissed, aiming a punch at von Glower's face which, of course, he missed. Couldn't even stay still to endure a long due beating, hateful man! Rage overcame him as he dealt countless blows, most of which missed their target. Gasping and close to exhaustion he finally stood still, meeting the Baron's eyes once more.

"" He was shaking now, overcome by the sheer presence of his Sire, unwilling to let go of his -just!- rebellion. He couldn't possibly have known that it was exactly this fire that had come to intrigue the Baron above all things. Untamed, wild, his will unbroken, yet shaking with the need of what only he, von Glower, could give.

"How much you must hate me...." von Glower said, a shadow of bitterness in his dark eyes. "And yet, I would not have you otherwise..." 

"I can't....I won't.....Ya can't make me...." Beads of sweat were running down Gabriel's face and neck, causing his skin to tingle.

"I would never dream of forcing you to come to me. The choice is yours and no one else's. If you need me, I am here. Why have you come to me?" 

Taunting, merciless, exquisitely cruel, he had laid down the facts presenting Gabriel with a choice where there was none. Blackmail dressed up in fancy words, and he knew it only too well, for he had perfected the art a long time ago. Only this time he did not enjoy watching his prey writhe and suffer, took no delight in seeing him on the verge of surrender. Why was that? He had been attracted to former companions too, the memory of Garr's fierce passion for the hunt and loveplay was not a distant memory. And Ludwig of course, always him. The Bavarian king had loved him unconditionally, and he, forced to seem unattainable at first, had slowly fallen for the young monarch's innocence.

Pulled back into the present by an unnerving sound somewhere between a wail and a growl he felt something like pity for the young, oh so young!, troubled man standing before him. Immortality came at such a high price, would its demands crush this insufferably handsome blood child of his? He stretched out his hands and caught Gabriel's in a firm grip. His thumbs were drawing lazy circles over the sensitive, pulsing skin of Gabriel's wrists, a movement that did calm him somewhat.

"Why have you come to me?" he whispered once more, broadening the radius of the caress. Gabriel's skin was singing at the gentle touch, the shivering ceased, his eyes glazed over like those of a cat being groomed.

"Had to.....Gawd....stop....STOP!"


Damn the man. He could hardly say It feels too good, too damn good. He pulled back, using the last shreds of self-control he still possessed. Why did it have to be so hard? This was his mortal enemy, making Malia appear like a harmless little girl. And yet, he couldn't bring himself what exactly? Strangle the man who not only had several inches on him but also the reflexes of a cat? Stab him with his Schattenjaeger dagger? The idea was ludicrous all of a sudden. And if his soul's salvation depended on it, he'd never harm him. - It does, silly, it DOES! - an impertinent voice chimed up.

Von Glower had made no further move but his ever intent eyes were fixed upon Gabriel, his darkest desires duly concealed. Up came those mesmerizingly green eyes to meet his, amazed, outraged, furious even now. Time suspended, he stared at him so intently, and he, von Glower, was forced to see, breath caught, the difference between Gabriel and all the others before him. Fury melted into something else he dared not consider and, overcome himself, he let those feelings in, relishing them.

"Tell me why you have come to me. That you cannot kill me in such a state is clear, so if that is your intention, I must advise against it." The was no humorous lilt in those words, they were a very well concealed threat and perceived as such.

"Make it go's too much.....I can't....No!...." Gabriel staggered and would have fallen, were it not for the Baron's reflexes. He caught him elegantly, yet did not let him go. His arms tightly wrapped around Gabriel's waist, he steadied him, felt the feverish head leaning into his shoulder. Consumed by both unwanted pity and the desire to do more than crush him against his chest, he regained control by looking at his future companion, a heartbreaking sight indeed.

"Can it really be so hard to do what you are bound to do?" von Glower husked into his ear, and had Gabriel not been in a state where he needed his Alpha's strength and guidance so desperately, he'd have punched him to a pulp.

"Be at peace...." that silken voice whispered. "You are safe. Trust me as you did once before."

Darkness and the privilege of having to say or do nothing but float in so safe an embrace finally took its toll. Gabriel was not awake to sense that he was half carried, half guided inside, and when he hit the mattress he was already sound asleep.

"Rest well, my tormented friend, for you shall need it." the Baron said quietly before shutting the door.


(no subject)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this a while ago and since I'm finally back at LJ, I had to post this here.^^
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Gabriel Knight/Baron Friedrich von Glower
Time Frame: GK2, after Gabriel has been attacked by von Zell
Characters: Canon (I'm TRYING here!)
None of GK's original characters or stories belong to me, all hail Jane Jensen!

Phoenix Triumphant

My soul is full of whispered song;
My blindness is my sight;
The shadows that I feared so long
Are all alive with light.

(Alice Cary, Dying Hymn)

I can feel your sorrow
You won't forgive me,
but I know you'll be all right
It tears me apart that you will never know but I have to let go

Tell me I'm frozen but what can I do?
Can't tell the reasons I did it for you
When lies turn into truth I sacrificed for you
You say that I'm frozen but what can I do?

Everything will slip way
Shattered pieces will remain
When memories fade into emptiness
Only time will tell its tale
If it all has been in vain

(Sharon van den Adel)

It wasn't easy. But it had never promised to be, had it? Baron Friedrich von Glower cursed both his luck and former lover as he found himself half carrying, half dragging his future companion away from the ravine. Mercifully shock had dulled a fair amount of the pain but he could still feel Gabriel wincing occasionally, causing him to tighten his half embrace around his tense form. Damn it all to hell, he cussed inwardly. He wasn't prone to swearing, barely blinked at situations that unhinged men who deemed themselves his equals. He tolerated no interference when it came to siring his companions, sweet revenge indeed, for Garr had known all too well that receiving the Gift unprepared heightened the already prominent chances of madness and, ultimately more dangerous, death. Not this time, he swore fiercely, not again! A moan from Gabriel rang through the eerie silence of the chilly night, causing the Baron to loosen his grip ever so slightly.

"Almost there now, hold on to me!" Friedrich husked into his suffering friend's ear, noticing his mistake a split second too late. Getting too close now was not an option. Increasing his stride he finally reached the lodge, somehow managed to drag Gabriel up the two steps and opened the unlocked door. The fire had almost died down, yet the embers still emanated enough warmth for his purpose. As soon as they had reached the winged chair Gabriel crumpled into it, bathed in sweat. The Baron knelt down to stoke the fire, forcing himself to ignore the desolate state of his Chosen One. Once the fire was burning again he raised his head and met Gabriel's eyes evenly. There was a haunted look in those green pools, but he could see nothing that may indicate suspicion or reproach. He grasped Gabriel's hands, not at all surprised by their feverish heat. Only then did he allow himself to examine the gaping injury. Blood was seeping from a deep, jagged gash in Gabriel's thigh and when Friedrich made an attempt to rid it of the remains of fabric and soil Gabriel pushed his hands away feebly.

"Don't......" A shuddering intake of breath, accompanied by a fearful gaze. "Hurts...." he moaned, yet offered no more resistance as the Baron resumed his work with as much tenderness as possible, given the circumstances. The bleeding had to be stopped, infection was an impossible risk to ignore and painful as it may be, the wound required immediate treatment. "Shhhhhh," he soothed as he rose to his feet to fetch scissors, disinfectant, clean towels and a warm blanket. Gabriel regarded him through eyes glazed over with pain and something else Friedrich dared not consider further and when he made a move towards the kitchen Gabriel snatched his sleeve with more strength than his condition warranted. A feeble a tug, a gaze more telling than a thousand words. "I will be back momentarily, I promise." Such vulnerability, it still tugged at his heart. Overcome by his own need he brushed a stray lock of Gabriel's hair behind his ear, a gesture of supreme affection. "Hush, mein Herz, you will feel better soon." Words one may use to calm down an ailing child. He made haste to retrieve what he needed and returned to a sight that made his heart overflow with affection both paternal and passionate. Gabriel's eyes were closed, yet he wasn't asleep. Not much remained of the rugged, self confident American he had come to desire so intensely.

"Gabriel, I shall try to do this quickly but it will hurt, I am afraid." Gabriel's eyes snapped open at that, regarding the scissors and disinfectant warily. "I shall cut away the fabric surrounding the wound, clean it with water and disinfectant and bandage it using these." He pointed at the thus far spotless white towels. When Gabriel gave no response the Baron knelt down once more and met his friend's questioning gaze evenly. "Trust me, please...." he half begged, half commanded. And only when Gabriel hinted the slightest nod of consent did he begin to treat the wound. It was deeper than he had expected, having torn through the muscle, thankfully no artery had been damaged. He washed away the sand and gravel as carefully as possible, each of Gabriel's anguished groans went through his heart like a dagger. When the wound was free of dirt, dried up blood and torn fabric he applied the disinfectant, cut the towels into fitting bandages and...swallowed hard at what he had to do next. The torn trousers were both useless and covered in soil and blood, they had to come off.

"These will have to come off if you want this to heal properly," he whispered silkily. Gabriel's eyes widened, yet he offered no resistance. Offering him his shoulders for support the Baron carefully peeled his friend out of the ruined pants and immediately wrapped up his wounded thigh with the bandages. Shock was followed by tremors, whether it was the attack of the still rather chilly air upon naked skin or fear he did not care to find out and ended the painful ordeal by spreading a blanket over Gabriel's lap and legs. "There now, gather some strength, I shall help you upstairs once you have rested a little."

"Friedrich...." Gabriel rasped, barely audible.

"Yes?" He knew what his companion would ask, there was no need to delude himself. He drew the other chair closer and fell into it with a sigh. It had been an exhausting night.

"Will I be ok?"

If you make the right choice, you will. But that wasn't an answer to satisfy the still obvious fear in Gabriel's voice. The Baron could both smell and sense his mate's insecurity and had no wish to add to it. There was a time and a place for the truth and this definitely was not it. Later he'd often wonder if things might have turned out differently had he spoken plainly that night. But we always know better the next day and he was no exception to that rule. Would he ever get a minute of peace, he wondered, knowing the futility of such a childish question. He was not ready to embrace another blood child so soon and hadn't Garr known it, basked in the feeling of spoiling his Sire's carefully laid out plans. The Baron had imagined him to offer a fight, maybe even taking the hint and stay in his human form for the remainder of the trip. His lust for human flesh and blood had proven too powerful however and thus made him an easy target. Or so Friedrich had thought. The idea of having been foiled gnawed at him, made him dangerously angry. But there were more important things to consider than his injured pride and violation of Alpha rights. He was stuck with a child resisting his fate, a child asking him of all people whether or not he'd be alright. The sadist in him felt a cruel urge to destroy that innocent confidence in him with a few well chosen words. Oh, he could wound with words, more so than with his fangs! He restrained himself however and patted Gabriel's arm reassuringly.

"Have no fear, you will be alright. As long as I have a say in the matter no harm shall come upon you." Well, at least half of it was true, he reassured himself.

"I'm sorry....I fucked up...." Gabriel mumbled tiredly. Generous of him to shoulder all the blame, heroic even, Friedrich thought, not without a hint of disdain and exasperation.

"Let me help you upstairs!" the Baron said briskly, craving some rest himself. Gabriel merely nodded and accepted Friedrich's arm. "Hold on to me!" he instructed. The choice of his own bedroom came naturally and Friedrich did not question his instincts. The stairs posed much difficulty and the Baron, unwilling to waste any more time, lifted Gabriel's shivering form into his arms and carried him upstairs, ignoring his smarting back. Kicking the door open he approached the bed and gently laid him down upon the soft mattress. Half asleep Gabriel might have been but he couldn't help chuckling at the irony of it all. "Sleep, mein Engel, I'll be here." he whispered gently after tucking him in.

"Bed's big enough for two," Gabriel reasoned, unaware of the torrent of desires he was releasing with those few words. So that is what a siren's song sounds like, the Baron joked bitterly. "Don't be silly, I won't bite ya...." Gabriel added with a wink that could only be interpreted as flirtatious. He wanted nothing more than slip under those covers and make him pay for being such an insufferable tease but the time simply wasn't right.

"I'll sleep in my own bed once I know you're resting," Friedrich said, not a hint of conviction in his voice.

"This is your bed." Damn! "Stop bein' silly and lie down. Won't rob ya of your virtue, alright?" Damn you to the hottest pits of hell for saying this! And damn me even further for provoking you!

"There can be no question of that. I merely want you to be comfortable." Control was slipping away from him inch by inch, a feeling he did not cherish. Not tonight! his conscience raged, Why not? Never been hesitant to accept such an offer before. It'll teach him to be as tempting as sin itself, won't it? his darker side chimed in and finally subdued whatever was left of his conscience.

"Ya weren't that prudish last night.." Gabriel purred, clearly delirious.


"That does it. I've just about had enough of you acting like a hearthrob in a situation demanding at least one person thinking with the right head!" Oh, well done, that secured you an unscathed victory indeed! Gabriel cocked an eyebrow at him and made a move for Friedrich's hand which, quick as a cat, he avoided by pulling back in time. Was it the fever talking? Delirious men said many things they'd regret the next day but somehow the Baron knew Gabriel not to be among those pitiful fools. "Please," he said, more weakly than he had hoped. "Please, just rest." Gabriel pouted, much like a child watching its father locking away its favorite toy. The temptation of that simple gesture proved too much to resist. He stretched out a trembling hand and traced the curve of those luscious lips he so longed to kiss until they were raw and swollen with the heat of desire. Gabriel did not flinch but he didn't make a move either. Heartless tease! Or was it the surprise of being touched so intimately? Before he could contemplate this dilemma further he heard himself gasping with surprise, tingles running through him like a teenager after his first kiss. Languid like a satisfied cat Gabriel had brushed a kiss against the Baron's index finger, darting out the tip of his tongue ever so slightly.

"If you want to spend this night unperturbed, stop this!" he moaned, desire rippling through him like raindrops down a windowpane.

"Fuck unperturbed, how are ya always comin' up with such big words anyway?" Gabriel withdrew his mouth, a feverish gleam in his eyes.

"Stop....or else...." He couldn't finish this chopped sentence for Gabriel had returned his attention to his hand, dusting butterfly kisses on each finger languidly.

"Else!" Gabriel challenged, clearly out of his mind. Or was he?

With an inhuman groan of desire and defeat the Baron felt his defenses crumbling into ashes. Lowering his head ever so slowly he brushed his lips against Gabriel's, relishing their silken feel. He was accepted hungrily, eagerly even. Gabriel wrapped an arm around the Baron's neck and pulled him closer to deepen the kiss. How amazingly right this felt.... The Baron tasted of musk and red wine, a scent of virility and cologne was assaulting his nostrils, giving birth to desires he had never known, yet so very familiar. "I want you so...." Friedrich husked into his lover's ear silkily. "Always have, always will!"

"Stop talkin', love!"

Love? Lust, rather. Was there really so little humanity left within him that he'd take advantage of a delirious man? I did not start this! he reasoned with himself, only to realize that this was a child's logic. Would he ever have a moment of bliss untainted by deceit and manipulation? Somehow he knew he wouldn't. Borrowed time then, whom was he hurting? His prey would not remember this in the morning, he somehow knew. The knowledge cut and he felt like he was bleeding somewhere. Gabriel was a grown man and, though suffering from a fever, clearly had not lost his senses. Actually his senses seemed to be acutely intact. Ravishing his lover's glistening lips hungrily he brushed away the nagging feeling of guilt. Gabriel's responses were those of a lover eager for more. So why the hesitation? Because he is different from the others! an obnoxious voice chimed up within him. Let go! it now shrieked reproachfully. Just as he was considering how to end this innuendo with as little damage as possible he felt eager hands toying with the buttons of his jacket.

"Oh hell....." There was something so very painfully endearing about this gesture... So defenselessly at his mercy, he was beyond delicious. "Gabriel, listen to me....." he rasped, catching Gabriel's hands in his own, interlacing their fingers as lovers have done since the beginning of time. "I will stay with you, I promise. I'll be here. But this will have to wait. You aren't yourself....." Oh, don't look at me like that! Whatever it was he had wanted to say, it was extinguished by a kiss.

"But ya said...." Gabriel drawled intensely, hardly disappointed at being spared a speech.

"Forget what I said!" Friedrich commanded. Tomorrow! They'd have time to talk things over tomorrow. Let tonight be about desire and tomorrow be about duty. Losing himself in the honeyed presence of him he'd never be able to hold or tame he forgot that fate didn't deal kindly with those running from their duties. Tomorrow...never...came.


Mein Herz = My heart
Mein Engel = My angel

Book II: Libera Me - Chapter Fourteen & Epilogue

Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Gabriel Knight/Baron Friedrich von Glower
Time Frame: GK2, the final chase....and beyond
Characters: Canon for the most part
None of GK's  or Phantasmagoria's original characters or stories belong to me, all hail Jane Jensen and Roberta Williams!

Author's NOTE: Well, I'm FINALLY updating again. I hope that you're still reading this! ;-) Please do leave comments! :-)

Libera Me - Chapter fourteen and Epilogue of Book II

Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving:
O, but with mine compare thou thine own state,
And thou shalt find it merits not reproving;
Or, if it do, not from those lips of thine,
That have profaned their scarlet ornaments
And seal'd false bonds of love as oft as mine,
Robb'd others' beds' revenues of their rents.
Be it lawful I love thee, as thou lovest those
Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee:
Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.
If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,
By self-example mayst thou be denied!

(Sonnet CXLII
by William Shakespeare)

Sunlight was illuminating the room when Friedrich awoke, stretching against the sheets like a lazy cat until he noticed something unusual. They were cold, there was no warmth next to him, no jovial "Mornin' , my darlin'!", no Gabriel. He had slept in for the first time in decades, oh, how much Gabriel would enjoy this! He'd always been an early riser, a fact that had caused quite a bit of humorous tension between him and his sleepyhead of a lover, and this only made this morning more unusual. Gabriel's side of the bed was neatly made, his bags were unpacked and his "hair products" were arranged neatly next the vanity mirror. Hair products indeed, Friedrich chuckled, for Gabriel had a bigger selection of colognes and aftershaves than most women's entire shoe collection, add to that an obscene amount of actual hair products that he used every day and you may imagine how crammed the poor vanity table looked. Stretching once more he allowed himself to enjoy their bed's warmth lazily, a feeling he had not had since.....he didn't know since when. Just as he was about to close his eyes again the door flew open to reveal a disheveled Gabriel, dressed only in a robe, holding a tray filled with steaming food.

"Mornin', darlin', did ya sleep well?" Gabriel chuckled before putting down the tray holders to secure the tray above Friedrich's lap.

"Tolerably so," Friedrich purred while eying the food like a famished...well, a famished wolf. "Do you plan on hogging that food until it dries up?" he smiled, a glitter in his eyes.

"I might be persuaded t' share it with ya, especially since I kinda made it for ya." Gabriel retorted jovially, an equally wicked sparkle in his eyes.

"Let me get this straight, you got up before me, you unpacked your bags and you made me breakfast? Who are you and what have you done to Gabriel Knight?" Friedrich joked while digging in. He was ravenous indeed and breakfast just happened to be his favorite meal.

"And there is more......." Gabriel grinned and produced a little parcel from his robe's pocket. "Now is as good a time as any to give this to ya, m' love." The truth was that he didn't know if there could ever be a time good enough to deliver this particular present. He had never been particularly thoughtful when it came to getting gifts for his lady friends, there wasn't an anniversary, birthday or even Christmas present he had not forgotten in the past. Malia, for her he'd have given up such lazy habits, yet they only had had a few days together and, as it occured to him at this very moment, he had never asked her about her birthday. Personal questions were alien to him, be it as the recipient or the one asking the questions. How strange that was, given his profession and natural curiosity. He loved to unravel secrets, good or bad, and he had never shied away from the horrific side of things. Why then did personal questions tend to get under his skin so much? He wasn't a woman, questions about his age shouldn't bother him, or was it just vanity raising its ugly head? And why did this present scare the living daylights out of him? Because it could remind its recipient of the father he had grown to despise, because it would revive memories he could not have known about? As he watched Friedrich tearing away the wrapping all his instincts pointed at one thing, take it back and leave!

"A jewel box?!" Friedrich eyed him suggestively. Opening the little box the secret came undone. A golden signet ring with an imposing seal, lovingly restored and polished, was lying there. A wave of blood colored the Baron's cheeks for an instant before his features hardened to form an icy mask of indifference. He put the jewel box on the nightstand, removed the tray and got up. Gabriel's eyes followed him as he got dressed quickly and sat down in front of the vanity, a haggard, strained face met his glance in the mirror. Gabriel followed him but dared not to touch him or say anything, this was a reaction he had not anticipated. Indifference wasn't something he was used to and it irked him. Being a creature of impulse he hardly thought before he acted and he had no patience with those who thought otherwise. Kneeling down he grasped one of the Baron's hands and held it quietly as if to reassure him. But no matter how lovingly he held on to him and how hard he was trying to swallow his disappointment, the reaction that came at last did not reward either effort.

"Why? Why are you giving me this?" Friedrich said quietly, his eyes fixed on his own face in the mirror. His shoulders were shaking with barely held back emotion, he knew not whether it was anger or despair at this point, perhaps both. He comes again, like some relentless apparition, to haunt me; he felt cornered and betrayed by those whom he loved best. He could smell and sense Gabriel's angst and anticipation, his companion was still incapable of controlling his emotions, and for a moment he both hated and loved him for this endearing naivete. Shall I never meet a soul of my own flesh, of my own nature, it was a thought that was both unjust and unwelcome.

"I felt I owed it to ya. Grace found it among the church records. And I kinda hoped that you'd be happy to have it back...." If biting off his tongue could have taken back the last sentence, he would have done it immediately.

"Happy? HAPPY?" the Baron hissed as he jumped to his feet. Tearing away his hand from Gabriel's grasp he began to pace up and down, his face haunted by a pain Gabriel couldn't even begin to imagine, let alone comprehend. Looking up at him he felt like there were worlds separating them rather than inches, a deep loneliness was taking hold of him as he watched his tormented lover pacing up and down their bedroom. It wasn't what he had said that scared him, it was what the Baron would not say that made him feel like an outsider. "Happy?" Friedrich repeated incredulously, his jaw tight with blistering rage. Leaning against the wall he made a fist and hammered it against the closest target, some tacky Chinese vase, it shattered into thousands of pieces. Gabriel jumped up to stop him but as he advanced his instincts sensed danger, as you might when approaching a wounded lioness. How could he tear through this mantle of insane anger and despair, how break the circle of hatred and wounded pride? Stretching out his arms he watched Friedrich shrinking from his touch, his dark eyes ablaze with fury. Having never seen him lose control or his temper only made things worse and, truth be told, he felt that Friedrich still knew perfectly what he was doing. At this very moment, obviously alerted by the sound of the vase shattering, Adrienne ran into the room, her face haunted by fear and worry.

"Gabriel, Friedrich, what on earth is going on?" she asked, dreading the answer. But one look at each man told her that questioning them was beside the point at this moment. Shoving Gabriel towards the door she told him to leave. "Go, give him some space. No matter what has caused this, if you get too close this time you may unleash something terrible. For God's sake, get out!" With that she slammed the door shut and turned the key to lock it. Ignoring both Gabriel's swearing and her own fear she sat down on the bed, trying her best not to seem as if she was cornering him. Her fear soon proved to be overly cautious, for as soon as she had turned the key to lock Gabriel out, the red mist of insanity began to be swallowed up by reason and soon disappeared altogether.

"How well you know me, Adrienne!" the Baron said quietly while rubbing his aching temples.

"Experience, that's all." Adrienne shrugged off the sincerely meant compliment.

"I am sorry, mein Kleines, I am sure you have had enough of dealing with men who are tormented by, shall we say, unreasonable anger."

"That's in poor taste and beneath you!" she lashed out at him. "My fate isn't the issue here, but I'd really like to know how you could lose your temper like that?" she questioned him, her hands on her hips.

"Again, I am sorry that you had to see this." He turned towards the door and realised how the room had gone quiet, Gabriel had obviously given up. "Adrienne, please have a seat. I want to tell you something." His hand pointed at the chair in front of the vanity table. She obeyed and as soon as she was sitting he himself sat down on the bed. "I do not know how much you have heard, but know this: Gabriel gave me something I thought I'd never have to look upon again. Something that gave me nightmares as a child and still does occasionally." He picked up the abandoned jewel box. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" he asked bitterly.

"Very beautiful. But how can a ring scare someone like you? I don't understand...." Both curiosity and worry were written on her face, her concern touched him deeply.

"This ring was always on my father's hand when he made me pay for whatever may have aroused his anger. It was the first thing I saw when it collided with my face and the last thing to taunt me before I disappeared into a universe of my own creation to escape the pain of his fatherly correction. You see, I was a passionate child, always ready to do mischief and I loved pranks. But being my father's son such simple pleasures were regarded to be no less than sinful. Incorrigible they called me and of course it hurt them more than it hurt me to bully and strike my faults out of my body." Here he paused, overcome by the memories he was trying to share with her. "I usually strike people as in control, poised and whatever other attributes you may come up with ranging from in control to cold. the cold. It makes it easier to live in a world that praises only what is normal and discards whatever may disprove their theory of a civilised society." Adrienne had left her chair to kneel down by his side like Gabriel had before, she too grasped the Baron's hands to support him but she also pulled him down to hold him closer. He offered no resistance and slid down the bed into her lap where he allowed his aching head to rest for a few precious moments. Feeling her tender fingers in his hair, he sighed, causing her movement to stop for an instant.

"I am not the one who should hear these things and you know it. Why do you tell me and keep the one you love out of your innermost self?" she asked the question she'd been dying to ask ever since entering the room.

"You want the truth? I don't know. I know he can cope with almost anything, given how much he has endured in his short life. Losing his parents, a family curse, losing the woman he loved......and having to kill me to regain....his true nature. Not literally, of course, you know what I mean." he fibbed convincingly. "When I see him all I want to do is protect him, is that so wrong? I have never had anyone to protect me, be it against the world or against myself. Adrienne, have you ever looked upon something so beautiful that it made you want to protect it at all costs for fear it might break and never be the same?"


"And?" he probed against his better knowledge.

"It broke anyway."


The "Haus Daus" was beautifully situated, in the middle of the Karrstrasse, right in the ancient center of Wittlich. First mentioned in the twelfth century the mansion lived and breathed history. Just like in the sixteenth century it was now a Gasthof where old and young met to have drinks or a meal in the house's special atmosphere. The historian in Grace Nakimura did recognise the treasure in front of her but she had not come here to study the house's history. Both Gerde and Don had come along and it seemed that they were getting along just fine. Don had introduced himself as an old friend of Grace's, a white lie Grace did not mind one bit, the true story was way too complicated anyway. Christine Karner had told them to meet her there and Grace had never been one to reject a free meal. A student's mentality, she told herself, but it was paying off. Christine was the daughter of Norbert Karner, the most recent victim of the "killer wolves". Forty-Nine years of age, popular in the entire town and the owner of Wittlich's oldest brewery he had been one of Wittlich's most celebrated cititzens. Christine was his only child and heir, a fact that seemed to play no part in the murder of her father. They found Christine at her usual table, near the window in the left corner of the main "Schankraum", her appearance was exactly like she had described herself. Of average height and built, the most stunning part of her appearance was her red hair, thick red curls cascading down her back like a waterfall to rest against her waist. Her eyes were green as grass, her complexion freckled beyond repair.

"You must be Grace Nakimura," she said without the slightest trace of an accent.

"That's right, Miss Karner. This is Gerde Poschner and this is Donald Gordon, they're both friends of the Schattenjaeger and may be trusted." Grace introduced herself and her friends before sitting down to face Christine.

"I am certain you have many questions, without doubt even my English will strike you as unusual. But let me say some things straight ahead. My English is the result of an Irish boarding school my father insisted on sending me to. My mother, Mary, was Irish, you see. And he thought that his rebellious daughter may turn out like her saintly mother more if he sent her to the land of her ancestors. My mother died when I was four, I have no memories of her." Here she took a sip of her beer. "Oh, how rude of me. I didn't order you anything. Annie! Annie!" she called for the waitress and let them order drinks and other refreshments. "Now where was I? Right, my mother. After my mother died my father played the mourning husband and father, he never even remarried and sold it off as a big tragedy while he was screwing everything that was willing behind everyone's back. I only graduated about three months ago when my father called me back home to tell me something huge. He'd remarry. And like every fat bastard in a midlife crisis, he picked a girl of my age. Dear, sweet Marie Zechner, his best friend's daughter. Her family had no qualms whatsoever when it came to selling off their daughter to that old goat." Here she made a face, obviously disgusted at the whole thing.

"So there was no love lost between you and your father?" Grace probed, not half as shocked as both Gerde and Don.

"None whatsoever!" Christine huffed before gulping down more of her drink. "I never bought his good guy act. And that is why I'm neither wearing black nor doing any of the other things a good daughter should. I see no good in hypocrisy."

"It must be quite convenient then to be relieved of that......burden?" Grace inquired, clearly curious.

"I suppose I should tell you to go to hell for that. But I won't. It's true. I have no intention of staying in this Kaff and bore myself to death. I'll sell the brewery and move to Munich. But I'm sure you have more important questions to ask than this. Out with them, I don't have all day." Christine emptied her cup and ordered another cold one. She sure is a character, Grace thought, clearly bewildered by Christine's lack of discretion. She'd be a hard nut to crack, despite her show of holding nothing back.

"When was the last time you saw your father alive?"

"Four days ago, at a party where he and Marie made it public that they were an item. We didn't talk. Mike and I just went and said our piece and went away again. As you can imagine, it wasn't exactly my kind of thing." She lit a cigarette and inhaled lazily.

"Who is Mike?" Grace asked. "And would you mind not to smoke around me? I am pregnant."

"Why, now that's interesting!" Christine cried jubilantly as she crushed her cigarette. She loved to gossip and this promised to be juicy. "Didn't know you two were an item!" Her knowing gaze went from Grace to Don and back again.

"No, he isn't the father!" Grace answered for Don which earned her an angry glare. "Please answer my question!" She wanted to get away as soon as possible. It truly was convenient to leave this sort of stuff to Gabriel. He excelled at questioning people, hell, he'd charm the pants off a nun if necessary.

"Mike is my boyfriend. He came along from Ireland. And before you ask me where to find him, don't try. He went back to Limerick." Grace's disappointed grimace confirmed Christine's suspicion clearly.

"Did your father have any enemies?" Grace felt like the police detective out of a cheap thriller.

"That slimy snail? Hardly!" Christine replied, clearly disgusted.

"Were there any witnesses to the attack?"

"None with less than four legs." Christine laughed, a laugh that chilled Grace to the core.

"Who found your father the next morning?"

"His cleaning lady, Frau Nimsgern. I'm sure the old nutcase would love to chat your ears off. You can usually find her here later, she has too much affection for brandy, that one. Do you have any more questions? I need to be somewhere soon!" Christine kept staring at her watch, obviously antsy.

"Just one, where can we find the Zechner family?"

"At the Kurfuerstenstrasse 14, third floor. Good luck, I have to be off. If you need anything else, give me a ring!" With that she jumped up and ran out of the Gasthof but not without finding Annie and paying first.

"Talking to that girl is like rolling around in barbed wire, you never know where she'll pierce you next, what a charming girl!" Grace said as soon as she was gone. Strangely enough neither Don nor Gerde disagreed, they were too shocked and disgusted at Christine themselves. All of them agreed that she had a motive, yet the killing had clearly been committed by an animal. How did she fit into all this? Given that Grace was tired and nauseous again they decided to return to the hotel to talk strategy there. It was of utmost importance to talk to Frau Nimsgern, the Zechners and this elusive Mike. Grace wouldn't mind going to Ireland, given the fact that Gabriel had just left for America, what was here to keep her? Georg Emmerding who kept asking her out with those puppy dog eyes of his? Certainly not, she decided, and came to the conclusion that a trip to Ireland would help them all. Gerde would see some of the world, Don would get some quality time that didn't involve thinking about his shattered marriage and she herself would get away from everything that reminded her of Gabriel. Well, almost everything, she thought while stroking her abdomen. You're not the only one who can find solace elsewhere, Mr. Knight!



The Baron found Gabriel in the garden where they had made out before. Lost in his thoughts his lover was bent over a table, writing frantically. For the first time in days Friedrich looked at his friend from his human perspective and the sight wasn't a pretty one. He was unusually pale, a bitter strain distorting his handsome features and, if he wasn't seeing things, his eyes were puffy and reddish. The Baron's chest tightened as he kept observing his lover intently, every fiber of his body was crying to advance and crush him against his chest, to whisper reassurances into that silken hair, to kiss those pained lips...... Just as he was thinking this Gabriel raised his head to sniff the air more carefully. His back stiffened, he dropped his pen and got up. Turning in Friedrich's direction he smiled, but it was a smile without warmth. Biting his upper lip he was obviously torn between going back to work and addressing his mentor and finally decided for the latter.

"One good thing 'bout your gift is that I can sense when you're around, Friedrich. So c'mon and talk if that's what ya want. I do need some inspiration for my antagonist!" he added the last sentence with more than a drop of venom and Friedrich knew that he had deserved that and more.

"I didn't mean to interrupt you, you seemed to be working hard and I......" He didn't get to say more because Gabriel jumped to his feet and brought a fist to the table with a dull thud. His green eyes were shooting arrows that did not stop when he met his lover's penitent gaze.

"Look, I never meant to hurt ya, all I wanted was to do the right thing for a change. Be a good guy, ya know? But since you're too high and mighty to share what's pissin' you off I keep stumblin' into those awesome situations where one of us usually ends up hurtin', smartin' or royally pissed. Or, if we're very lucky, all of these things. You know what? I've had it up to here with this shit, all of it. Everybody keeps droppin' bombs on me and acts like a bitchy prima donna when I dare t' show that I'm not everybody's hero all the time. Grace with her kid, you with your "Gift" and your demands, Rittersberg and its's too fuckin' much! I'm only human, maybe too much so, but you'll either suck it up and deal with it or get lost!" Here he swallowed hard, amazed at his own choice of words. He watched intently as the Baron sat down by his side without touching him, obviously willing to listen on, it encouraged him strangely to rebel further. "This is my life, Friedrich, and I'll be damned first rather than lettin' ya or Grace or take advantage of me any longer. What do I have to fear? I've been livin' in the clutches of a curse ever since I can remember, ya think it matters whether it's a family curse or your Gift? The truth is this; I need a breather! I am sick of bein' treated like a kid by you and of bein' bitched at by Grace."

"We have all been asking too much of you, haven't we?" Friedrich asked, still processing what he had heard.

"Hell, I don't mind ya havin' high expectations, it shows that ya all have faith in me. But all this is like an iron ring around my throat, makin' it damn hard to breathe." He turned towards his mentor and grasped his hands with both of his own. "You've taught me so much and I'm thankful for that. But if you're thinkin' that treatin' me like a fragile object is the way to go, you're sadly mistaken. Ya know what my original attraction to ya was in the first place? Here's a guy who's addressin' me as an equal, a great guy to boot, wise and pragmatic, yet with a sense of humor very similar to my own. I felt safe in your presence almost ever since knowin' ya. I trusted ya with my most personal secrets, secrets that I wouldn't tell anyone, not even my Grandma or Grace. I knew you'd not judge me and I still know that my trust wasn't misplaced. I was hopin' that you'd meet me on the same level. Yet ever since comin' back to ya I keep findin' out that your life hasn't been what I thought it must have been and I'm not finding it out the good way either!"

"The spoiled and pampered son of a noble who dares to promote a philosophy taught by Mother nature, you mean?" the Baron inquired, deeply moved. How he had misjudged the man who had given him a new reason to live. By attempting to protect him from more harm he had only caused him more pain and offended his dignity.

"Pretty much, yeah. Hey, I know that you're more than that." Gabriel was quick to reassure him, raising his chin so his eyes could meet those of the Baron. Blue fires were burning in them, such passion lurking beneath those dark pools, it made Gabriel shiver. "You understand me better than anyone ever did. You read me like an open book and I won't say that that ain't unnerving occasionally. Yet I wouldn't want it any other way. But....." His courage deserted him for an instant. "But rather than clinging to Gabriel, like the angel, maybe you could see that I'm as far from an angel as a man can be?"

"You have no idea....." Friedrich rasped before pressing his lips on Gabriel's in a passionate kiss. When they parted their eyes met and Friedrich remembered an old fairy tale his mother had told him many times.
A long time ago there was an old king who lived with his son in an enchanted castle. And because the king was old and in pain, the walls were high and thick and the doors were always locked. He often told his Prince that this was the best way to live, yet a desire to see the world was tugging at the Prince's heart. "I must leave!" he said to his father who advised him to stay where he wouldn't be hurt. But somewhere, far away, gold is falling from the stars.....and you can only find it if you leave the nest! The king's love was great, yet the Prince's despair was greater. To live, to love and to learn you must be free and face dangers alone. To love means to let go, to tell your beloved to do what he must, to sacrifice all for your beloved's tell him to find the gold of the stars and return as a hero.......*

"Dich zu lieben heißt dich gehen zu lassen......" Friedrich whispered into Gabriel's tousled hair after pulling him close.

"What?" Gabriel's voice was muffled by Friedrich's shirt.

"To love you means to let you go free...." Friedrich translated while brushing a lock of hair behind Gabriel's ear.

"Gimme your hand and I'll try to walk on water. But do not cage me like a bird who'll never learn how to fly." Gabriel corrected him with a cheeky grin.

"I have been treating you like a nestling, haven't I? You'd think that after all these years I should have known better." Friedrich's gaze dropped to the floor, his shoulders were shaking.

"Tell me about him!" Gabriel urged. Once again he raised Friedrich's chin to look into his eyes. They were brimming with emotion and......something else. They both knew that Gabriel wasn't referring to Friedrich's father but to King Ludwig II of Bavaria and, maybe, Christian Ritter.

"So be it," Friedrich declared, swallowing back his tears. Linking fingers with Gabriel he began his tale.

Bavaria had high hopes in 1864. We weren't only blessed with a young and handsome king, but said king promised to be one of the greatest rulers our country ever had. Living in Prussia at the time I had no desire to see the country of my ancestors blossom so and chose to enter Bismarck's service. Clever man, that Bismarck fellow, he not only had the vision of a united German Empire but he also had the diplomatic skills to make this vision a reality. My link to Ludwig II was your ancestor, Christian Ritter, whom I had met in 1861 during a hunt in France. Christian had never hidden his obviously different desires and we soon began a rather torrid love affair. Even though we both were incapable of being true to each other we did share a bond of being of the same stock. Shameless both, driven by our desires, yet never controlled by them and, of course, the ability to mask our nature when it mattered. When Christian brought me to the Bavarian court I did not expect its impact, but it wasn't unwelcome either. Wagner reigned supreme at Ludwig's court, whoever dared to voice doubts regarding the Maestro's talents had a hard life. Wagner and I weren't enemies, he knew that I'd not endanger his cash flow but rather further it to have Ludwig cornered into a defensive position when it came to justifying his spending habits. But things underwent so radical a change after my first private interview with the king. Determined as ever to succeed I thought I was prepared for everything that could come my way. everything but Ludwig, that is. I entered his chambers in a cold night, he always preferred to see his guests at night, when Wagner was out of town. I remember it as if it had been yesterday...I came in and saw a pianoforte surrounded by lilies and the king, lost in thought, was playing a melancholic melody.

"Your Majesty!" I greeted him and bowed, waiting to be addressed. The music did not stop for a while until it ended in a slow pianissimo.

"We welcome you at Our court, Mr. Gowden, and We hope that you shall delight Us often with your company." the king said quietly, his eyes still on the music he had just played.

"It would be my pleasure, Your Majesty." I replied, tongue-tied all of a sudden. "I sincerely hope that my humble presence will delight the courtly We and the Royal We just the same."

"You are bold, Sir. Do not attempt to storm the citadel so quickly. A siege may be most lucrative to you....and yours." the King retorted with a knowing smile and then he turned and looked at me for the first time. Eyes as blue as cornflowers were glowing right into mine, a face so hauntingly beautiful was smiling at me, I was bewitched before I knew it had begun.

"My wish is only to serve Your Majesty as best as I may." Even as I said it I knew it sounded like something any courtier might say, yet Ludwig did not seem to mind one bit. He came towards me, arms outstretched and grasped my hands to look at me intensely. His haunting eyes sent cold shivers down my back, I do not know how I managed not to avert my eyes from his gaze.

"All these years I have longed for a brother, a friend, my second self." Ludwig said quietly while squeezing my hands passionately. "I am surrounded by courtiers, family and my people, yet never once did I meet a soul of my own nature, a heart to entrust myself to. Has God finally granted my fondest desire?" You may imagine how I felt and how I acted. Never before had I been welcomed so innocently, yet knowingly, and never before had I beheld such beauty in a human face. My first thought was how powerful and beautiful he'd be in the Change, it was the same feeling I had when seeing you for the first time, yet in another universe. How the warmth of his gentle hands seemed to flow through my body, to take possession of my innermost self, I was lost, abandoned, so madly in love as ever a man has been before or after. How could he see so much good in me, me who had been sent to him to enthrall him to his doom, you might wonder? I don't know the answer either.

"Anything I can do for you, most noble king, I shall do gladly and without hesitation." I vowed and meant it.

"Hush, do not speak to me in so reverent a tone, speak to me as thou would address a friend." Ludwig demanded, but without sharpness. He led me to the pianoforte where he began to play again, a melody by Chopin this time. How he filled this music with life and charm I cannot even come close to describing, it was as if he had studied with Chopin himself. As the music began to flow between us I felt my resolve crumbling away until it existed no more. What I had only read about in books like "Le Morte d'Arthur" was reality to me now, I felt for my sovereign what Arthur's knights had felt for their king. That one day out of thousands proved to be the only day where we both met as equals and loved as innocents.

"Beautiful, Your...forgive me, Ludwig," I complimented him. Had I given him the moon and stars and he couldn't have reacted more thankfully.

"Paul, have you heard of Richard Wagner?" he asked, as if to test me.

"I had the pleasure to see the Maestro's "Lohengrin" several months ago, I was enthralled." I admitted truthfully. To this day Wagner's "Lohengrin" is my favorite opera, maybe because of that memory. We immediately began to discuss the casts we had seen, the conductors we admired and sets we had loved or disliked on stage. Time is flying when you are supremely happy and that night proved to be just like that.

"The day is to reign over the night once more," Ludwig mused as he saw the lights of dawn appear. "Paul, will you forget these hours once I give you leave to retire?"

"If I were to live for another one hundred years, I could never forget this night." I stood behind him as he was playing a Wagner piece on the pianoforte. Following an impulse I put one hand on his shoulder, causing him to stop his movement for an instant. Breathing in deeply he closed his eyes and covered my hand with his as if to reassure himself of my presence.

"I am a young king, Paul, and certainly not the wisest who has ever been elected to this office by the Almighty, but God must have had his reasons. My youth may delude those around me as innocence and ignorance of pain. I have suffered loneliness long before my father's crown was placed on my head. They say I give my trust too freely........but I feel that God is with me this time. Will you accept my friendship and my trust, will you be my adviser, my friend, my second self?" Coming from anyone else these words might have sounded ridiculous, I have never been a lover of impassioned speech and done my best to avoid it... With him such romantic foolishness became reality, or what we'd like to be reality in our deepest dreams, our darkest nights and our hearts. Listen to me, I condemn romantic speech and use it in the same breath, I'm sure you find that to be confusing. If you knew Ludwig as I do, even you would have begun to sound like a third class poet, mein Alles.
Here the Baron interrupted his tale to recover his strength and to give Gabriel an opportunity to ask questions.

"Sounds like one hell of a situation to be in. How do ya do that anyway, always endin' up in the middle of somethin' huge, I mean?" It had a bitter undertone that Friedrich did not miss but he chose not to pick it up.

"A natural talent?" Friedrich suggested with a bitter smile.

"That's like somethin' Gracie would say, ya know? You guys are similar in more ways than one, it's kinda unnervin', I admit it." Gabriel drawled incredulously, his hands still intertwined with Friedrich's.

"Now there's a topic to arouse my curiosity, Gabriel." Friedrich laughed, the darkness of melancholy gone from his eyes.

"We have so many things to discuss, sometimes I feel kinda lost. Your past is so overwhelmin'....there's your Dad, your marriage, the Gift, Prussia and Ludwig II, the Ritters, your life without Ludwig and your most recent's tough to keep track." Gabriel made a face, causing Friedrich to laugh again, a sound, as Gabriel suddenly noticed, he had not heard a lot in the past.

"If you still want me, we have forever together." the Baron reminded him, his hands playing with a lock of Gabriel's hair.

"Are ya turnin' mushy on me or somethin'?" Gabriel teased with a wicked grin.

"And that from the man who cannot watch "Bambi" without reaching for a bag of tissues?" Friedrich retorted, equally wicked.

"How in heaven or hell do ya know about that? You're not a mind reader, are ya?" Gabriel sounded disgruntled, but it was only an act and Friedrich noticed it immediately.

"The next time you buy a Disney VHS at the airport, buy the tissues later!" Friedrich suggested, a gleam sparkling in his eyes as he leaned down to plant a kiss on Gabriel's pouting lips. "Don't should know by now what that gesture is doing to me......" he rasped before kissing him again.

"When I am kissin' ya I tend to forget that there's a world movin' on around me." Gabriel admitted, unusually romantic. "Ya know, it's strange, that power you have over me?"

"How can I not know that?" Another kiss, deeper even, as they were clinging to each other passionately.
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Still almost fully dressed they ended up in a passionate embrace in the grass.

"If forever can be like this, I think I'm gonna like this immortality deal!" Gabriel chuckled as he snuggled up to his lover's chest.

"Let us not forget what we came here for. United forces fight better than scattered generals." Friedrich reasoned with his passion. "I appreciate both your enthusiasm and your fire. But the world won't stop here." Gazing down at him Friedrich brushed his fingers through Gabriel's hair. "I do love you, more than I'll ever be able to express. We complete each other in a way that is rarely seen, truth be told I believe that we are unique in that regard." Gabriel agreed, yet he worried what would come next. It seemed like Friedrich had only bared the tip of the iceberg and that that berg ran deeper than he had ever imagined. Their future together, if they were to have one, had only just begun. A thorny path lied ahead, a path little traveled, and yet, despite the prospect of getting torn into bits by a demon, he was looking forward to this new case. It promised to be exciting at the very least!

Finis - Book II

To be continued in Book III: Shadow In The Sun

*This fairy tale is based on Michael Kunze's song "Gold von den Sternen" (Gold of the Stars)

German translation:

Kaff = Little town of no consequence
Großer Gott, was tust du? = Great God, what are you doing?
  • Current Music
    "He was a fool to let you go"
  • llwyden

Untitled Christmas story

(crossposted to [info]gkslash)

doesn't have one
Author: llwyden  
Rating: Probably about PG. There's mention of blood and some kissing (not together)
Warnings: Slash (GK/FvG)
Summary: Gabe and Friedrich on Christmas Eve
A/N: This happens in a universe of my own canon; eventually, I'll finish and post the longer story. For this one, all you should need to know is that Chapter 6 never happened, and Gabriel ran off with Friedrich. He's come back to try and make it all work with being Schattenjäger, too.
ETA: My betas! I forgot to thank my betas! Thank you so much, niki_chidon! And also mabiana for German-customs help and abydosangel for general read-through and NO-native check!)

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  • Current Music
    Mediaeval Baebes, "Lo Here My Heart"
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  • llwyden

In search of a beta

Just under the wire (I hope; in this time zone, at least!), I'm finishing up a short Christmas story. It's Gabriel/Von Glower, probably about PG rated (I'm lousy at figuring ratings, but there's no graphic sex, though it is slash).

Anybody want to beta? My grammar and spelling are probably fine (though I don't mind corrections); I more need to know a) if it makes sense to someone who isn't familiar with my own personal canon about these two, b) if there are story glitches or problems, and c) if there's anything in it that I've totally missed with regards to German holiday traditions; I haven't mentioned much, but for all I know there's something I should have mentioned and didn't.

Help, please?

(Crossposted to gkslash)
  • Current Music
    Midge Ure, "You Move Me"

Book II: Libera Me - Chapter thirteen

Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Gabriel Knight/Baron Friedrich von Glower
Time Frame: GK2, the final chase....and beyond
Characters: Canon for the most part
None of GK's  or Phantasmagoria's original characters or stories belong to me, all hail Jane Jensen and Roberta Williams!

Author's NOTE: Well, I'm FINALLY updating again. I hope that you're still reading this! ;-) Please do leave comments! :-)

Libera Me - Chapter thirteen

Child of the wilderness
Born into emptiness
Learn to be lonely
Learn to find your way in darkness

Who will be there for you
Comfort and care for you
Learn to be lonely
Learn to be your one companion

Never dream out in the world
There are arms to hold you
You’ve always known
Your heart was on its own

So laugh in your loneliness
Child of the wilderness
Learn to Be lonely
Learn how to love life that is lived alone

Learn to be lonely
Life can be lived life can be loved alone
The Phantom of the Opera)

"We're what?" Gabriel asked incredulously. Astonishment was soon absorbed by anger and being ignored didn't help either. The Baron kept walking ahead, steadily focused and determined as ever. He wasn't one to abandon a course once taken, Gabriel knew that, yet if he didn't break free this circle of dependency would spiral into a nightmare of being treated like a minor forever. He wouldn't tolerate this, Alpha or not, if things continued this way he'd soon find himself asking Friedrich for his permission to wear his beloved leather coat in the middle of July. Strangely enough Friedrich neither liked Gabriel's brown leather jacket nor the black coat and made it very clear that there was nothing "cool" about wearing leather in the heat of a merciless summer. -A waste of precious fluids and energy better used elsewhere- he had said and meant it of course. But he'd be damned first, -however poignant that thought may seem to a cynic-, if he let this continue any further.

"Didn't I make myself perfectly clear just now?" Short, precise, unwilling to stomach any resistance, his dark blue eyes piercing into the dark green pools of Gabriel's, melting into them without force, yet as alluringly calculated as the song of a siren, enthralling, untamed, yet perfectly smooth and in control. He lingered there for a tactical pause and then continued unperturbed by Gabriel's refusal to bow to his will. "It will be your very first hunt." Spoken with a hint of melancholy those words soared into Gabriel's ears tantalizingly, stirring the longings and desires of the beast within him. His human side was still fighting those urges, he couldn't know that it was much blood, sweat and tears wasted on an already lost battle. He gripped Friedrich by the shoulder to stop him forcefully, yet he couldn't shake off the feeling that he wasn't anywhere near the Baron's equal physically. Of course he had shaken off von Zell in wolf form and that brown wolf had weighed around seventy kilograms, yet the comparison with the tall, broad-shouldered Baron was like comparing a kitten to a mighty panther. There was an inhuman amount of strength dwelling in that exquisitely shaped body, he'd felt it more than once in Friedrich's love-play. He felt him tensing in his grasp and pulled back, momentarily stunned by the fierce expression on the Baron's face.

"My first hunt, eh? And demon hide's gonna be our trophy or what?" He spat out those words with contempt, a desperate attempt to struggle down the thrill pulsing through every pore of his body at the thought of running free, basking in the darkness of the night, chasing the despairing prey.... His life poisoned beyond redemption he felt a wave of white hot hatred taking over, hatred for what he knew not, all he did know was gnawing at his nerves, pushing him into action. His eyes narrowed to slits he could see that Friedrich was talking to him, holding him steadily at the same time. Preaching again, no doubt, he thought before the furies ran wild and something in his head snapped like the breaking of a bone, the noise even was similarly nasty, making him cringe inwardly. Rubbing his aching temples he tensed, fought the Baron's steely grip and broke free at last. Sucking in the air around him with zest he charged to claw the source of his anger to scar him as he had scarred him. The Baron caught him by the wrists in a sweeping, almost elegant retreat, forcing him down on the living room floor.

Torso against torso both men fought a passionate struggle for supremacy, hissing, clawing, baring teeth. until the Baron put his full weight into it and ended their fight with a determined snarl before sinking his teeth into the skin below Gabriel's throat to force him into submission. A gash appeared where he had marked him, but no blood was spilled. He felt Gabriel's body slump back on the floor, as if all the fight had been sucked out of him, yet he knew this tactic and remained as alert as ever.

"Get off, damn you!" Gabriel growled under his breath. The Baron had pinned his hands to the floor, their faces being inches apart only. How he loved his chosen one's temperament, his hot blood and determination to resist! Mine, he thought, this passionate, wild and untamed creature is mine and no one will take him from me again! With the Change being imminent he knew the torment Gabriel was going through, but he felt more for him than an Alpha protecting a young one. His pain is mine, he mused quietly while holding down his tormented lover. Twisting and shifting beneath him Gabriel fought like a tiger, his anger mounting with every futile attempt to escape his mentor's hold. He'd get his lips bitten into a bloody pulp, he knew it and didn't care as he placed a possessive kiss on Gabriel's twisted lips. Blood-soaked like a vampire's embrace their connection deepened as the Baron's torn lips slid down to the gash just beneath Gabriel's throat. Licking around the shallow wound he thrust his hips forward wantonly, causing Gabriel's angry hisses to change into lustful moans.

"That's more like it!" Friedrich chuckled lightly, for he knew that carnal satisfaction would ease his beloved's pain during the Change. Why that was so he didn't know, yet it was true. He loosened his grip and allowed his lover to force him on his shoulders in a playful manner. As long as the Change was under control he could afford to let his mate play a little. Once again they kissed, tenderly this time, thus halting the progress of the Change and banishing the red mist of insanity, a threat that was only to easy to succumb to in such pain.

"We're stayin' here," Gabriel smiled alluringly.

Dear child, you do not know how close you were to a never ending night from whence nobody ever returned alive! Never let him know how oblivion nearly destroyed what I love about him the most, that spirited, valiant soul, untarnished by earthly evil. Kiss upon kiss he let himself be carried away into a realm of bliss. Their lovemaking wasn't gentle that night, they both had to quench a thirst much greater than that of desire, it was the stinging need to reassure that the other was truly there and unharmed. Once the mating was over they met as equals, neither trying to rule the other. Stroking Gabriel's damp hair tenderly he ended their passionate encounter with melting, lingering little kisses.

"Are you alright now, mein einziger Engel?" he asked, his blue eyes shimmering lovingly.

"Baby, if ya want something to fuss over, get yourself a cat or a...girlfriend." Gabriel chuckled before getting up to get dressed. Friedrich remained on the floor, staring into the fireplace. To die by fire, his father had ended on the pyre and he had avoided that horrific end more than once. It was only thanks to his cunning and cold calculation that these grinning flames would never get the better of him. But he remembered....the roasting of skin and human fat, hair ablaze in a cloud of fire, shrieks after burning for half an hour....a baby being born in the flames only to be flung back into the fire by the executioner........ He shuddered, his eyes were stinging at the memory of those pitiful little wails dying away as the fire stifled them...


He jumped. Dragged back into reality he stared into the worried eyes of the one who had chased away those demons and who had given him peace. Feeding on a stranger's life, borrowing another's paradise, wasn't that a sin he was used to?

"I'm sorry, mein Schatz. What did you say?" Friedrich said, his eyes mirroring what he had seen in his memories.

"Come here!" Little must be said if you love truly. It was hard for him to entrust himself to anyone, it wasn't just that Alphas just didn't do that, it was also that he valued whatever amount of life he had left. Yet the moment he had set eyes on Gabriel all that had stopped to matter. Puzzled at first he had accepted it and trusted the young, brash American whose show of being a tough heartbreaker both amused and touched him. He'd trusted him enough to write what was pretty much a confession to his real nature and for a painful moment it had looked like his instincts may have led him astray that time. He had seen the long years without Gabriel's warm presence stretching ahead and he had felt no happiness whatsoever at the prospect of having to destroy him to remain alive.

"Tell me more about your life, if ya don't mind. We have time now, don't we? Plus I'd love to know about...well, your Dad's inheritance as you called it. How 'bout it?"

"I most certainly don't mind. And yes, it is high time you learned about the gift."


Being my father's only son and therefore his heir much was invested in my upbringing, I was taught by the best tutors available and their curriculum was from the old days when children were taught Latin after their fourth birthday. Latin, Greek and French as well as mathematics, astronomy, music, architecture, literature, history, drawing as well as fencing, riding, shooting, hunting, dancing and etiquette were important parts of my younger days and some of these have become big passions that have endured to this day. I rarely saw my sisters, the eldest three were married off when I was still an infant and the younger ones were kept from me as not to distract me from my schooling. Yet my youngest sister, Marie Elisabeth, somehow managed to get closer to me than even my mother. Maman, we always addressed her as such, was a woman of great beauty and breeding, a real lady as you'd say these days. She had much love to give but the little echo her affection received soon made it fade and I cannot remember even one time where she took me in her arms or kissed me good night.

I rarely, if at all, saw my father during the day, so Marie Elisa, as I called her, and I became inseparable friends and companions. She was seven years older than I and she was the mother I felt I never had had as a child. I was only eight years of age when she was betrothed to an Earl's younger son, a connection my father had made at the Embassy of Denmark. The Dane chosen to be my sister's husband was thrice her age and had grown up children from a previous marriage. It struck me as a profound injustice to have the only person I could love without being punished torn away from me by a man who already had such a large family to love. Father was enthusiastic to settle the marriage contract and my mother agreed with my father for her own sake. He wasn't a man to infuriate without paying for the offense and I; being a passionate and love-starved child, usually bore the brunt of his anger. I began to enjoy his ever increasing absences from our Munich home where we spent the winters while he visited our various hunting lodges scattered all around Bavaria.

With Marie Elisabeth, of whom I'll tell you more later, gone from me my life became a bleak routine of tutoring and sleeping. Not exactly a happy upbringing for a child but I'd not call that my greatest misfortune. When you ancestor captured my father, God bless him for the deed, my mother and I became outcasts and fled Bavaria. First to Denmark where my sister gave us a refuge for several weeks and finally to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I spent eight bitter years watching my mother wasting away from tuberculosis. Her first love for my father slowly faded out his later violence towards her and I didn't have the heart to shatter her illusions, especially since I'd have welcomed my father's guidance myself in those years when his inheritance to me was sinking in slowly. I shall not bore you with my first experience of the Change since you know it as well as I by now. It was for that reason that I wanted you to come to me as soon as you could because I know how much pain it entails. I asked myself time and time again whether I could poison your life like this and I feared that you'd come to hate me in the end as I've grown to despise my father.

My father, may his soul burn in the everlasting fires of hell, not only continued his bloodline by siring me, he also squandered the Gift's riches by doing evil, disrespecting the laws of nature and justice and killing for sport and bloodlust. Such is the danger of the tainted blood that only the strongest evade the temptation of insanity and addiction to the kill. With nobody there to guide me my own fate was sealed at the young age of twenty, a hunt, a young prey, a kill, bliss......then eternal damnation and a tortured conscience. Yes, when a healthy beast kills it it does so with respect, but we do not hunt our own species in normal circumstances, there is no excuse for such a lapse.

The year 1764 brought more material a change in the form of Dona Isabella d'Osorio, the woman chosen to be my bride and the first choice of my heart as well. Isabella was the daughter of my mother's cousin once removed, a beautiful, dark-haired girl with the finest pair of eyes I have ever beheld. Black as onyx, shimmering with love whenever she met my gaze those eyes bewitched me so that I married her within seven weeks. Some Latin author once wrote something like "Marriages brought about by carnal lust always end in despair". Ours did not, quite the contrary, every day I found something else to love about my Isabella, my bella Isabella, as I called her with pride. The shadow of my father's curse was fading steadily until the day when Isabella burst into my study and told me that she was with child.


"You were married? After you brushin' off my question 'bout your status I never would've thought...." Gabriel was stunned by what he had heard but not quite stunned enough to keep quiet about it.

"I'm not proud of it and once you know all the details you shall see why I'd rather forget about her," the Baron sighed.

"But ya loved her!" Gabriel accused hotly, clearly unaware of the wounds he was opening by doing so.

"What call does a young man of twenty-five know other than that of a beautiful woman? In those days we did not know whom we were going to marry, happiness in marriage was entirely a matter of chance. For women moreso than men of course, yet I counted myself blessed when a beautiful and gentle girl like Isabella was to be the one I'd share my life with. Until the day I heard the joyful news, then my brain began to connect the dots and a net of dangers emerged, all of which pointing to the same conclusion: My idea of a normal life had been a sham, my marriage had been a lie and the child would have to bear my father's curse and it would hate me for the same reasons."

"Is that why ya turned to lovin' men because they can't hand down the curse to an innocent child?" Gabriel asked, not sure whether or not he wanted to hear the answer.

"Partly. But we'll get to that soon enough. Right now I'm tired and would like to rest. Will you join me upstairs or do you prefer a separate bedroom for tonight?" Friedrich asked, seemingly calm. -Please come with me so I can bear my memories!- his heart added quietly, a call Gabriel picked up on immediately.

"Ya gotta ask? C'mon, m' darlin', you should know me better!" he smiled while finishing getting dressed. Once that was done he turned around and saw that the Baron was standing at the fireplace, his back turned on him, he was staring into the flames again. He sighed a gentle sigh at Friedrich's bravado and embraced him from behind. Feeling the Baron's head falling back to rest against his shoulder he chuckled lightly.

"I thought we were over pretendin' that everything is fine when it isn't." He breathed in his lover's scent slowly. "Don't try to protect me or to keep the tough stuff from me. I'm not a kid, I've had my share of misery, ya know? And while you've got a pair of shoulders broad enough to carry the whole world," he began to massage them, "...sharin' the burden eases the pain. I should know, I was taught by the best." A gentle kiss, chaste almost as it was a sign of affection, not of desire. "Let me carry the world for a while."

To be continued
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Another GK/FvG music video I made

First of all, I'm really sorry for not updating more regularly but I got very ill on July 31st and I'm still recovering from that. However, I do have several chapters almost ready and something to sweeten the wait:  A new GK/FvG music video. Please watch, rate, comment and ENJOY! :)

  • Current Music
    Liszt - Liebestraum

Shadow Of Eden ~ A Gabriel Knight ficlet (One shot)

Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Gabriel Knight/Baron Friedrich von Glower
Time Frame: GK2, after Friedrich's death
Characters: Canon (I'm TRYING here!)
None of GK's  original characters or stories belong to me, all hail Jane Jensen!
SUMMARY: After the traumatic events at the opera Gabriel finds himself deeply tormented by Friedrich's death. Help comes from where he least expected it....

Shadow Of Eden

Farewell, my fallen idol
And false friend!
We had such hopes
And now those hopes
Are shattered!
The Phantom Of The Opera)

Oh my soul is dying, it's crying
I'm trying to understand
Please help me

How could an angel break my heart
Why didn't he catch my falling star
I wish I didn't wish so hard
Maybe I wished our love apart
How could an angel break my heart
Toni Braxton)

The night just wouldn't end and no matter how exhausted he was, sleep just wouldn't come tonight. It was a moonless night, the stars were swallowed up by dark clouds and the steadily falling snow. Snowy fingers were drawing ghostly images on the windows, it was an eerie night alright. He had learned to fear those endless nights, those long silences and the nightmares with their violating grip that never seemed to loosen up to offer him a moment's rest. A name was flitting through his mind, whose name could it be? He had no one in his life to dream about and those whom he had loved enough to dream about were gone, both consumed by fire, how ironic was that? And the similarities didn't end there either. Both died at his hands, one simply letting go of his grip and the other by being pushed right into the mouth of hell by none other than himself. It had been a reflex, a last minute attempt to save his last drop of humanity and even though his blood had frozen at the thought of betraying him, he knew that he had no choice. Back then he had seen an opportunity to run and so he did, if only to escape the anguished cries and other sounds coming out of the furnace to tear open his heart.

"Friedrich....." he spoke his name, to him his name became a melody of sadness, of potential unfulfilled. It was bitterness itself and yet he felt closer to his departing spirit after saying his name. - Where are you now? - his mind asked, waiting for a reply that would never come, a salvation that would never happen and a love that would never be returned. A gentle knock at the door spooked him, his eyes flew to the alarm clock. Only 9 p.m., why then am I feeling so tired? Swinging his feet off the bed he snatched up his robe and put it on and then bid her enter, for the presence at the door was female, that much his senses knew. It was the irony of the whole story that Friedrich's gift had remained in part, for his senses were acutely sharp, an effect that had not died with the Baron. The door was opened and someone he had not expected to see again so soon stood there, his beloved Gran.

"Gran......" he cried, like the child he still was around her, and then he fell into her warm arms, basking in her gentle presence.

"Gabriel, my darling!" she cooed, her smile glowing with love. Her eyes wandered over the messy room in mock horror. "Ah, be a good boy and let your poor old Gran sit down!" Her smile told him that she was jesting, already her presence had helped him immensely. He pulled out a chair for her and after making sure that she had everything she needed he sat down on the messy bed.

"Gran, oh Gawd, what brings ya here of all places?" Gabriel asked while attempting to smile bravely.

"I had a feeling that my boy needs me and so I asked Grace if it could be arranged for me to come here and be with you," Here she paused to stroke his arm reassuringly, "And obviously I was right. Tell your Gran everything," she smiled kindly. She wasn't fooled by his bravado, that much he could see. Later he'd often wonder why it had been so easy to talk to her about the Baron. Throughout his life he had always tried his best to protect those he loved from pain, his Gran most of all. Now she was his rock and comfort, her gentle eyes shining with love and understanding, her soft voice mellowing the pain away, there was a reason after all why he preferred soft-voiced people to Grace's jarring nagging. Malia's voice had been like dark caramel, luscious, warm and fluid, the Baron's voice had been like the gentle song of rain falling onto the surface of a quiet lake. There had been a baritonal, velvety sound to his way of speaking, maybe the Slavic accent? And his Gran's voice, like honeyed sugar, it never failed to make him feel better. Feeling his burden being lifted from his shoulders he told her everything from start to finish, leaving out nothing except the sight of von Zell chewing on human flesh.

"Gabriel, look at me!" she ordered gently, her hands in his. When he looked into the dark pools of her eyes he found nothing except understanding and love. Once again he hugged her, this time longer than the first time until he continued his tale.

"Sometimes, ya know, I feel him so near....and think that all I have to do is turn around and there he'll" His voice faded away into silence.

"You're going to have to find a way to live on, my darling, and you will. You can stare at that door till you're old and gray, but he will never walk through it." Had the air just grown colder?

"Oh, Gran, that was harsh!" Gabriel sighed.

"I went through this when my Harrison died.... You have to push yourself, find a new reason to live for and leave the past behind." she suggested.

"The truth is, knowing that all he did was using me to do his dirty work for him is what makes it even worse...." Gabriel admitted, his eyes brimming with sorrow.

"Gabriel...." Something in her voice made him whirl around, as if knowing that she had evidence to the contrary. "Grace sent me this to keep.... I think it's high time that you read it, for your peace of mind's sake." She pulled out a stack of paper and handed it to him. Bewildered he looked at the expensive paper and his eyes widened. He'd know this handwriting out of a million, it was Friedrich's elegant style without doubt. The letter was opened and he already knew who was responsible, it wasn't all that hard to figure out. Reading the letter he could almost hear the Baron's gentle voice forming the words, if only he could speak to him just one more time........


I know you are very ill right now. The change is always painful. I went through it myself when I was only twelve, and I did not even know what was happening to me. I'm sorry I am not there to help you, but I have a pretty clear sense that you would not welcome my presence. You are safe in Rittersberg. For now that is enough. Let me speak, then, of the future.
You hate me now. I know this. But I have some hope that by the pass of the second moon, when the sickness wanes and the blood has inflamed the greater part of you, you will see things differently. You will need me then and, I think, you will want me then.

It is for hope of this that I did not have you destroyed the night you were bitten by von Zell. I could have done so. You were passed out for hours at the lodge. It would have been a simple thing to wake the men, show them von Zell's corpse, and make up a story that would enrage them enough to kill you. I did not. Let that be proof of my true desire for friendship with you.

I have desired companionship for more years than you have lived. I have even, very rarely, taken the risk and Changed others. But the Blood was always too much for the brain, and my Chosen One ended up dead. Or mad.

This is why I started the hunt club. It was my idea that if I could first indoctrinate men's minds to the religion of tooth and claw, they then might be prepared for the Change. As you have seen, it did not work. Von Zell was the best of the lot. If he had turned out well, I would have taken the others. But there's no point in even trying with them now.

You are different. You're a Ritter. Your blood is already supernatural. Yes, I know of your family. It was a Ritter that captured my own father, Claus von Ralick. I never blamed you, even though I myself would have been killed had not my mother had the foresight to flee. No, it was not your ancestor but my father that I hated for years, until I learned to appreciate his legacy.

You see, I have studied much over these centuries. When you and I met, I felt instinctively that you would not be destroyed by the Change. You have an enormous streak of the beast in you, and you are innately strong in the Occult. You will be powerful and beautiful in the Change, I am sure of it. I did not intend for it to happen so soon and in such a way, but perhaps fate has its own reason.

But how confused you must be. You may feel I used you to dispose of von Zell. I did. He had to be taken care of, and you obligingly showed up. What was I to do? I am too old not to have learned at least this much about the light—you cannot shut it out. Better to let it in and let it simply dim to adjust to the relative brightness inside. But the warmth between us, this was genuine, I assure you.

Think well on these things as your body adjusts. Think about meeting me in Munich in two months' time. We can leave Germany if you wish and go anywhere you like. I will teach you how to hunt, how to live safe and well. You can feel the night wind on your face, exalt in running free, taste the heartbeat of the kill beneath your jaws. It is glorious—much more so than the priestly life the Schattenjaeger offers.

Don't confuse yourself with ideas of good and evil. Nature shows us that there are no such distinctions. You and I both inherited something from our fathers. Is your legacy any less of a curse or blessing than mine? Join me.

With deepest affection, Friedrich

His heart nearly skipped a beat at the affectionate farewell Friedrich had used. How betrayed he must have felt by his attempt to destroy him and how painful that final chase must have been for him! Back then Gabriel had seen him only as a predator and Friedrich had done nothing to dissuade him, thinking that if his letter had not been enough, then nothing would solve this except his own final kiss of the flames of hell. A wave of hot pain surged through his body and, for a painfully long moment, he felt the world breaking to pieces beneath his feet. Facing the abyss of total destruction was one thing, fearing it quite another but nothing could have prepared him for the actual experience. Drawing in short breaths his hand flew to his aching chest, he felt his heart beating as if it was weighed down by stones.....

"I'm so sorry. my darling. Do you want to be alone now? Can I get you anything at all?" Grandma Knight asked, her face genuinely sad.

"No.... I'm sorry, Gran, could you give me a moment?" He didn't want to cry in front of her but once she had left he burst into tears, pressing Friedrich's letter against his tear-soaked cheek as if to breathe in the scent of the hand which had written it. And a fair scent of Friedrich's cologne, Toscana, was still there. Like a part of him had come to life again to comfort him, he felt a gentle breeze ruffling through his hair, reminding him of the Baron's hand caressing him that night, so long ago and yet only a week ago.... The breeze felt like his soft touch, it had that kind of magical calming effect on him and for the first time ever since the furnace room he felt his presence close, yet in a peaceful way.
Live on, it seemed to say, live on and I'll always be there to watch over you. We'll never be further apart than this and once you join me after your life's work is done we'll meet where there is no suffering and no pain. Where souls are resting on flowers we shall find eternal love and happiness, like Hero and Leander, like Cleopatra and Marc Antony.......they will be worthy companions once our time has come, my angel. Empty life's cup, enjoy it to the fullest and live your life as it was intended. Make my sacrifice worthy of a love like yours and let it bring an end to your mourning.

And it was true. A light had gone out and God alone knew how much time they'd spend mourning it. But if he took up his life again, then his light could burn for them and chase away the darkness that had taken hold of him. Somehow he knew that Friedrich, absolved from all earthly evil, was free at last and that this was a reason to rejoice rather than to mourn. Miss him he always would, yet they were always one in spirit until all things ended.