From my single eye I beheld the one rebuilding me. As his hands already told, his face was thin and white as alabaster. He wore a copper headband with a series of lenses projecting from his left side of his face that magnified one of his blood red eyes to immense proportions. The angles of the nose and the jaw...yes, he had Mason blood. There was no doubt in my mind of that. His thin lips were faded, and the tips of fangs displayed from his gentle smile. His hair was long and tied back...the same dark, deep red shade Dr. Mason had when Bloodwing controlled him,the color of pomegranate. His clothes were immaculately clean, though faded and threadbare in places, in remarkable shape for what would have been smart fashion when the Sun King still ruled from Versailles.
"I see you too." He grinned slightly, bearing a bit more of his fangs as he lifted the array of lenses upwards. "I am Aleister Louis Mason...former Host of the demon Bludvink." I stifled a laugh. "It sounds different vhen you say it, ja? I prefer to call him by his first name, Hmanaftera."
I gasped. When reading the Founders convoluted volumes of biography, only quotations from the earliest Histories referred to that name, sources engraved in cuneiform.
"You...are the vampire that bit my brother?" I stammered.
He shook his head, and pulled back his plush red velvet chair and stood. Old floorboards creaked as lifted a candle and leaned towards one of the many ornate wooden clocks lining the walls of the room.
"Zat never happened, you see? Zis clock, it tells me where zee time vas lost." I could not even begin to guess which of the several dozen arms, gears and pendulums he was referring to behind the glass. "Every time someone changes zee Loom of Fate, I see it here." He tapped one of the panels, and it opened. A round copper plate chimed and glowed with a strange energy. A distorted vision of sepia in a slowly rising haze of mist began to take shape.
It was Koen. From what must have been Herr Aleister's view the neko smashed one rococo timepiece after another with a clawed bracer as he brandished a glowing ankh in another. His growls were tinny and distant and laden with hisses and pops. With a sudden chime the presentation ceased, and the panel ratcheted back into the clock.
"Ja, I vanted zee time device under zee Foundation. But you see why, Ja?"
As experienced as I was with time travel, even I was having trouble understanding. "You...knew Koen was coming to destroy you, so you wanted to neutralize him first...but Bloodwing sensed this and alerted my family...which led to you being staked, as you had sought to avoid?" He only shrugged.
"Vun does not survive for over a century vizzout learnink to be proactif. But...is all for moot now, Ja?"
I would have taken a deep breath, had I torso attached. "How did a former Host of Bloodwing become a vampire, may I ask?"
Aleister lowered himself to his seat again as the floor creaked. He stretched his arm to a shelf behind me, and presented a green eye of glass in his palm.
"Vhile I vurk on you a bit more," he said as he lowered the magnifiers back over his eye, "I vill tell you a story..."
It was an interesting one at that.
As he pulled back and I adjusted my binocular vision, a finally responded. "You were one of those ancient warriors?"
He chuckled, a measured imitation of short unnecessary breaths in an imitation of a human reaction.
"Nein. Zee original bloodline, it vas lost gradually, vhen zee plants lost zeir special soil."
"Then how did you become...?"
He lifted a bottle of wine from under the table and placed it beside me. It wa an old, dusty bottle with a yellowed parchment label. What I could barely discern in the candlelight was fanciful and meticulous script.
1708 - Sumatra
"I found zee last plant, still cared for as zee Founder commanded."
"In the temple of the Bloodtail Tribe...now it starts fit together..."
"Like clockvurk ja?" He pulled the cork. A sweet, heady aroma filled the air. It was exactly the flavor that had graced my tongue as it first began to taste. He produced a small, delicate glass, which I would guess was used by wine connoisseurs for tasting rare vintages. It took him several minutes to slowly tilt that bottle, and a single drop of thick red liquid trailed from the mouth of the bottle, leaving little crimson dots down the inside of the glass to where the fluid collected in the bottom. I looked up at him.
"Do you vant anuzzer taste, Ja?"
Without hesitation I found myself saying Yes, Please. He lifted the glass and delicately pressed it to my lips.