War of the Roses, 1


copyright 2005

by Anne Fraser, Jean Hontz and Amanda Rush

 

 Genevieve had summoned her warriors. Her watch and ward,
she called them, though their official name was Le Societe
des Gardiens.

They were vampires. And a few Nameless Ones. And a witch.
And a shapechanger.

They were here because they loved her. Or because she had
made them, quite literally, what they were. Or because they
had sworn fealty to Claude de Monet, and that fealty had
switched to his widow. Or because they believed, truly and
utterly believed, that just because you were a vampire
didn't mean you couldn't also be a nice person.

All of them had faced things best left to the imagination.
Or perhaps, best not. Some of them had scars. All of them
were tough, experienced fighters, especially the Nameless.

As each of them had entered the chateau, they had bowed or
curtsied to the lady of the house. Many of them had had to
fight grins when they saw Jean at her side. She
acknowledged each of them gravely.

When they were all seated, or propping themselves up against
the stone walls of the room set aside for these meetings,
Genevieve addressed them.

"As you know," she said, pacing slightly as she looked over
her Guardians, "my great-grandson in the blood, Alexander
Goldanias, has fallen in love. This would not normally be much
of a concern for the Societe. But he has chosen the daughter of Adrian
Blakesley. Yes, of the Rose and Cross. I understand that
Blakesley is not entirely in favour of the union. I myself
have no objection; I am delighted that Alexander has found
any sort of comfort. I do not know for certain what this
means as far as the Rose and Cross is concerned. They
normally only deal with magic-users."

The one witch Gardien stirred. "Madame," she said,
"Blakesley is a man of honour, as far as I am aware."

Gen nodded. "Oui, Collette, je le sais. But what about the
rest of his society? If they know he is displeased by this union,
discomfited by it? Do you know much about the Rose and Cross?"

"No, Madame, I regret that I do not. They only operate in
the United Kingdom."

"I must speak to Adele, then. But I have a feeling that
something may happen within the Rose and Cross. A move
either against Alexander, or against Blakesley himself.
They know that Alex is well-protected in Maine.
But he is vulnerable when he is travelling. And if they are
vindictive enough, they may well risk open war between their
society and ours." She handed a sheet of paper to a tall,
auburn-haired, slightly freckly Nameless One. "This is
Alexander's flight plan. He and Mitch Pritchard will be
flying into le Borget in a private jet. Adele will be
meeting them there and driving them into Paris. I want you
and Benoit to be at the airport."


She nodded to the toughest-looking of the vampires. "But
please be unobtrusive, I don't wish either Alex or Adele to
know they are being watched."

"Oui, Madame," grinned the Nameless One. His French was...
well, bad.

Gen eyed him dubiously. "You do know how to be unobtrusive,
I hope," she said.

"Oh, yes, count on it," replied Owen Jones.

Ah, well, he was going with Benoit, the most experienced of
the Gardiens. Benoit would keep Owen out of trouble.

She asked the rest to stay alert for signs of trouble and to
be on stand-by if she needed them. They all hoped it would
not come to an all-out war. In wars, people die, often the
innocent.

The Societe filed out, bidding their Prince and her consort
good night. Gen sat down when the last had gone and
accepted the glass of wine Jean mutely handed her.

"Merci. Ah, God, I hope it does not come to war," she said.

"There may be no trouble at all," Jean pointed out. "You
are simply planning for the worst. But we can hope for the
best."

"You?" she mocked him. "You are hoping there is no trouble?"

He grinned. "There is more joy in love than in hate," he
said. "I have had my fill of fighting in the past year."

"I never thought I would hear those words from you, Jean."

"And you would not have, before the duel."

"Ah. You suffered humiliation in defeat, I see. Well, this
may be your chance to prove yourself worthy once more. Or,
as you said, I may be worrying about nothing at all. But it
seems to much of a coincidence that Adele is Blakesley's
daughter, and after what she told me happened at that
masque..." she shrugged. "Perhaps I am starting at shadows.
But I would prefer to be proven wrong than be right and not
have prepared."

"That is why you are Prince," Jean said.

"Yes," she said simply. She had had a long time in which to
accept, after all. "I must call Adele. This will likely
not be a cheerful conversation."

"I hope she is wearing a miniskirt when she arrives."

Gen rolled her eyes, but made no comment. She reached for
her cell phone, and used it.

-----------------------------
London - April 1883

The only thing that told a person they'd found the
headquarters of the organization that Adrian Blakesley
currently headed was a very small, very discrete brass plate
which read "Order of the Crimson Rose and Ansate Cross."

The building was on an inconspicuous side street off
Picadilly. It had once housed a lofty, very exclusive, and
deeply secretive gentlemen's club. To the world, it still
did.

The pubic areas were tastefully appointed: walls dressed
with copies, or perhaps they were originals, of framed
Egyptian papyri. Several rooms which could be seen from the
entry were painted with murals depicting scenes from
Egyptian tombs which had been recently excavated. Statues
representing many of the Egyptian pantheon stood upon
shelving that also housed tomes on Ancient Egypt. There was
nearly nothing visible that pointed to magic or sorcery.
Rather this looked more like a club for Egyptologists than
occultists.

Adrian Blakesley sat at a large desk in a more private
section of the Rose and Cross. Two men and one woman were
with him.

Blakesley threw the neatly written pages he'd just read onto
the desk. He stood and walked over to look out the windows.
They looked out onto a private garden. It was raining in
London, a gloomy morning to match his gloomy mood.

Had the fellow been alive he might have welcomed a match of
his daughter to the Graf Alexander Goldanias. However... He
sighed.

"I want them left strictly alone. No one is to travel to
France. No one," he repeated looking directly at Geoffrey
Lorton.

The non-magician in the room picked up the disregarded
papers and perused them, his lips in a tight line. He'd
been Adele's lover. Truly loved her, unlike Geoffrey.

"Of the blood of the Prince and master herself," he
commented, more to himself than to the others.

"Which is why we must not be seen as interfering. Is that
clear, Geoffrey, Colin?"

The two men nodded. Reluctantly. They both got up and left,
leaving Blakesley and the woman alone.

"I do feel rather sorry for Colin. You'd never have left her
marry him," the woman said as she got up and walked around
to stand behind Blakesley and massage his shoulders.

"Well, at least he's alive. Given the situation now Colin
would have been just fine."

The woman shrugged. "There is magic in his family, even if
he is not blessed."

Blakesley cursed but finally began relaxing under her
touch.

"Goldanias handled himself well at the Masque. Far better
than did I."
-------------------

Genevieve's call had brought Adele quickly. Within 10
minutes of receiving it she was at the front door, kissing
the little cousins hello.

Alas for Jean she was not wearing a mini skirt. The jeans,
however, were pleasantly form fitting and the top wasn't
much of one.

Gen, of course, was wearing something plain and sensible.
Chairwoman of the board. But then, she'd just headed a
meeting of the Societe. Jean was in dress pants and a
fairly tight sweater. He gave Adele an approving look.

Hugs and kisses were exchanged.

"I really wish you would take Genevieve shopping for
clothes," he said, pretending it was quietly.

"Oh, I shall," Adele promised, unless it was a threat. "And
are you behaving yourself?" she asked him sternly.

"Whatever do you mean?" he asked.

"I didn't think so. You're quite hopeless." But her smile
was fond. She sat down between them, and turned to Gen.
"Your call sounded urgent," she said. "What can I do for
you?"

Gen sighed. "No doubt you will think I am being silly,
worrying about nothing," she replied. "But some instinct
tells me that we can expect trouble over Alex's arrival here
from your father's society. I need to know more about the
Rose and Cross. If you don't mind telling me." Her manner
left Adele in no doubt that at the moment, she was giving a
command performance before the vampire Prince of France.
Then Gen softened. "Please, Adele, I know it is difficult
for you, but I must protect my children. You included."

Adele frowned and looked down at the glass of wine she held.
"I don't see it, Gen. I know of no time the Rose and Cross
has ever acted outside of British territories. Oh.. Well,
yes, certainly they do send off agents periodically, but
mainly for research and to collect objects of power. Why
would they bother with Alex?'

"Your father is not happy with the situation as it stands,non?"

Adele pondered a bit then replied, "He's never used the
organization for his own, personal, agenda. Even when..
Well, when we killed a rogue mage. An old woman ran the
Rose and Cross then. She would not allow the organization
itself to become involved. She chose my father alone to
deal with him, outside of the Rose and Cross.

"That way, if things went badly, the organization could
rightly claim non-involvement. I suspect she wouldn't have
gotten involved at all except the police had already
identified my father as a suspect in several ritualistic
murders." Adele had gone very pale as she said this.

"I see." Genevieve studied something nobody else could see,
off in the distance. She rubbed a spot on her hand, where
there was a faint silver scar. "Very well," she said,
smiling at Adele. "I am starting at shadows. Too many
years of this, cherie, I see conspiracies everywhere.
But I am still sending two of my Gardiens to the airport.
If it is for nothing, then they will at least get some
exercise."

"It is for nothing, I'm sure of it," Adele said. "But if it
will ease your mind, then I'm all for it. My father won't
move against you, Gen."

"It is not Adrian Blakesley that worries me, Adele. It is
others within the society."

Adele looked at her wide-eyed. "What are you saying? That
my father does not have control of his people?"

Genevieve stood up. "I am sorry, Adele, I do not mean to
doubt your father or his abilities. But I know how these
sort of societies work, and the sort of politics that go on
behind closed doors where the leader cannot see.
What you might call a gut instinct, I believe. I have
learned to trust this instinct. It is seldom wrong. But
perhaps in this case it is." She knelt down before Adele,
who made an exclamation of protest against being knelt to by
Gen, but Gen put a finger on Adele's lips. "All I want to
do," she said earnestly, "is keep Alex safe. He is my
bloodline. I have enemies, so does your father. Anyone
wanting to hurt either of us could act against you or
Alexandre. Please help me, Adele."

Adele threw her arms around Gen and hugged her tightly.

"Should I tell Alex to stay there? Should I go to Maine instead? I
couldn't bear it if he were hurt."

"No," said Gen. "It is such a vague threat, and we have the
means to protect you both. That is what my Gardiens are
for. And Alex needs to get away from Maine, from that
house, and the memories in it. Besides, I would like to see
you two walking hand in hand along the Champs Elysses, or
chasing the little Bertrands among the vines here."

Adele smiled at the vision. "Get up, Gen dear, please," she
said. "You'll get that suit dirty, for one thing. I _am_
going to take you shopping."

"For tight jeans and a vermillion muscle t-shirt?" Gen
asked, poker-faced.

"Oh. My. God. Gen, I nearly died!" Whereupon quite a few
secrets were revealed, but with joy and laughter and love.

------------- 

At precisely one half hour from when Genevieve had received
Julian's confirmation, the mage was standing at the front
door. He allowed the little cousins to take him to the one
delightful room in the wretchedly dismal keep, and entered
to find Genevieve seated on the sofa, Jean standing at her
right hand.

Julian bowed quite formally. "Genevieve, Jean. I'm here to
supply knowledge your Prince and master has requested."

Jean bowed back. Genevieve acknowledged Julian with a regal
nod of her head. "Please, be seated."

Ah. So things were going to remain formal. Julian sat,
keeping half an eye on Jean. But the former cavalry captain
had a carefully neutral expression on his roguish features.

"What is it the Prince wishes to know?" Julian asked, rather
as if the two vampires in the room were envoys and the
Prince was elsewhere.

"Tell me of the Rose and Cross," Genevieve requested. "Are
there struggles for power? Does anyone wish to unseat
Adrian Blakesley? Will there be trouble because his
daughter loves a vampire, especially of my bloodline?"

Julian sat back more comfortably, which made Gen wonder if
she'd asked the right questions. Or perhaps she'd not broached
an area where he would have refused to answer her.

"I assume you are not interested in its varied past. But
only in that part of it which could impact on the current
situation."

Gen dipped her head in acknowledgement that it was so.

"Very well. Blakesley's appointment to lead the Rose and
Cross was controversial and caused a great deal of
consternation among the rank and file. Thus, it would not
surprise me were there to be a subset of members actively
working to remove him from the rather precarious position he
now holds.

"Marrying off Adele to Geoffrey Lorton was his best attempt
to marry the two most vocal factions. Geoff is, I suspect,
more pawn than king in this however. But I could be wrong
about that.

"There are some in the organization who find the idea of a
Prince and master of France a bit...off-putting. Mages are
as difficult as cats to herd. That vampires are more easily
organized is seen as a threat. Possibly correctly, if the
wrong vampire is Prince and master."

Gen looked amused. Julian couldn't see Jean's reaction.

"A woman, for example?" Genevieve asked.

"They are fools if they think that," said Jean loyally.

"I think it's more the fact that the present Prince is an
efficient one, and runs a tight organization," said Julian,
still speaking as if the Prince was... somebody else.
"That's a threat. I'm afraid they don't see the Brotherhood
of Darkness as a threat."

"I see." Genevieve stood up and walked to Julian's chair.
She looked him in the eyes, and suddenly the formality was
dropped. "Am I asking the wrong questions, cher?"

"Quite possibly. I am willing to tell you some of it, but
beyond a certain point I will not go. You must accept the
limits to the knowledge I place. I do not wish to be forced
to take a stand I will later come to regret."

She nodded once sharply. 


"Very well," he replied. "The complicating factor is
Blakesley's past. It was stripped of him quite
purposefully. He will not get it back. Of that I am quite
certain. However, I do believe there are one or two
individuals who are aware of his past. I'm not the only
long term strategist around.

"I was instrumental in arranging for Blakesley to lead the
Rose and Cross. His hopes for the Rose and Cross are less
bloody-minded than are those of many of his rivals. He
hopes the Rose and Cross will be not only an organization
capable of disciplining or eliminating wayward magic users,
but to become a central repository of magical knowledge.
Several of the relics Armando had were items I know the Rose
and Cross to have been desirous of obtaining.

"And I suspect some degree of all this might possibly be a
shot taken at me as well as Blakesley. Particularly in that
I have befriended his daughter and am seen as therefore
taking sides. And although my loyalties were never trusted,
the fact I am a personal friend of the woman who is
currently the Prince and master of France... " he shrugged.
"I'm afraid some people tend to see conspiracies where there
are none.

"My dismay with regard to Adele and Alex becoming serious
about each other stems from that background. Not because I
do not believe him to be worthy of her, but because I admit
to a tiny kernel of worry in the back of my mind that it all
might open past wounds and awaken things which have, until
now, lain dormant for quite some time."

Genevieve began pacing, seemingly unaware that she was doing
so. She was obviously agitated, as this was not a normal
action from her. Jean's eyes followed her, but he was being incredibly quiet
otherwise.

"Very well," she said, mulling all this information over.
"It would seem I quite possibly have cause to be worried
that some attempt to harm either Alex or Adele, and thus to
get to either myself, you or Blakesley, might be made while
Alex is vulnerable here in France." She sighed. "It would
be nice to be proven wrong."

"But you don't think you're going to be," Julian said.

"No," she said simply. "Do you?"
"I don't see what they hope to gain," he replied with a
frown. "Should they harm or even kill Alex, they can't
seriously think that would bring Adele within the fold. And
that would strengthen Blakesley's position not weaken it not
to mention bring you down on their heads. Harming Adele
would accomplish the same thing. They'd have both you and
myself to contend with and Blakesley empowered to defend the
Rose and Cross."

"But you haven't answered my question," Gen reminded him
quietly.

"No. I haven't." The look in his eye told her he did not
really need to.

"Two of the Gardiens will be at le Borget, to meet Alex's
flight," Jean spoke up, "a Nameless and a vampire. They
have instructions not to make themselves known to Alex
unless it becomes necessary. The rest of us are on alert,
ready for action should we be needed."

"Do you have anyone who can fight magic?" Julian asked.

"Only Collette, and she is not a highly talented magic
user," came the reply.

"Hmm."

"Adele will be meeting Alex," said Gen. At least she'd
stopped pacing, calming down a little because Julian
believed her, and now she had more information.

"Yes. I shall keep a weather eye. I can transport there at
the first sign of trouble. But I honestly can't see them
risking anything at such a public place. Still, forewarned
is forearmed."

"Thank you, Julian, that would greatly relieve my mind. I'm
sorry, I did not even offer you any refreshment. Would you
like a drink?"

"No need. I'm expected somewhere at any rate."

"Thank you for coming out here, mon ami," Jean said,
clasping Julian's shoulder. "Genevieve has been worried.
Me, I simply wait for action. Whether or not there is any
to wait for, we shall see."

"Unfortunately, mon ami," Julian replied, resisting the urge to feel if his collarbone
had been snapped, "the Rose and Cross mostly uses magic, not lightsabres."

Jean grinned. "I have my Jedi mind tricks," he said.

Julian laughed and hugged Jean then whispered words of
reassurance to Gen, gave her a most ungentlemanly kiss on the
lips, and was gone.

Jean scowled. "You let him kiss you!" he complained.

"Oh, non," Genevieve replied sweetly. "That was his salute to the
Prince."

-----------
Le Borget Airport, just outside of Paris, was used only for airshows
and business jets. Still therewere enough flights in and out,
enough businesspeople being
met and greeted, that a number of people were hanging
around, waiting. So nobody looked twice at a tall redhead
and a shorter, tough-looking man who would probably have
been cast as an apache dancer in a remake of Can-Can. They
were not noticeably together, anyway; the redhead was
watching the planes take off and land as if he'd never been
in an airport before in his life, and the street tough was
reading a newspaper and keeping half an eye on the arrivals.

Adele had never met either Benoit or Owen. She knew that
two of Gen's Gardiens were here only because Gen had told
her. She played a game with herself while waiting for a
certain flight from Maine to land, trying to pick them out
of the crowd. The tall redhead, she decided, since she
noticed red hair, he actually looked a bit like Evan. Would
the other Gardien be that sleek brunette in the Chanel suit?
The harrassed-looking baggage handler? A taxi driver?

A familiar Lear jet touched down safely, and Adele felt her
heart thump. She'd been holding her breath, even though she knew that
Mitch was an expert pilot with many cross-Atlantic hours
under his belt now; accidents still happened, even to the
best pilots. She'd no sooner lose the goofy werewolf than
she'd lose Alex.

Of course they had to taxi and go through Customs checks and
all that weary ritual that presented the ever-constant
danger of exposure to the travelling vampire. But finally
she spotted them. Good lord, Mitch had gotten a haircut, it
lay neatly on his scalp rather than all over the place. He
wore aviator glasses, his beloved leather bomber jacket, chinos and hiking boots.


Alex, towering over him by four or five inches, wore his
usual designer ensemble. Both faces lit up when they caught
sight of Adele.

She was dressed simply in jeans and amazingly a shirt that
actually reached to the waist of her jeans. No vermillion
boots, no bustles, nothing weirdly coloured or even very
noticeable. Just her usual garb for Paris. She tended to
save the mini-skirts for Alex but she'd never tell him that.

Alex couldn't have been happier when he saw the look on her
face as she spotted him. Their eyes met across the crowd
and then suddenly he lost sight of her.

He heard some woman scream, off to his left. He refused to
be distracted, instead narrowing his focus to only search
for Adele. But as hard as he looked, everywhere, he could
not find her. He broke into a run toward where he had seen
her last. Mitch was shouting something, but he couldn't
quite make it out.

Then he was hit with something that knocked him backwards
through the air and then to the ground. It wasn't a silver
bullet or a wooden quarrel. There was only one thing he knew
that could flatten a vampire like that. It had to be some
sort of magic. He fought against it but it was like a net,
the more he struggled the more he felt entrapped. And the
rage, based on his fear for Adele and his need to reach her,
was blinding him to reason. He fought even though he knew
somewhere in that tiny bit of brain that was still rational,
that he ought to calm first and try to finesse his way free.

But then something was dropping out of the air above him. A
sword. It shown of it's own light, brilliant, blazing,
falling point first aimed at his heart. He stopped
struggling, and watched it fall.

A shape seemed to come from nowhere to flow between him and
that sword, dimming its brilliance for a moment. But then
the sword was falling through whatever it might have been,
gleaming brilliantly again, still falling toward him. But
as the point struck his chest, it did not penetrate. Instead
whatever it was that was holding him down fell away. He
grabbed the sword and was on his feet stalking through the
frightened crowd searching for Adele.


He spotted Mitch, who was in the middle of a melee, and then
there was a young man with red hair who seemed to be helping
Mitch. Nameless. OWEN? Where had he come from? And another
vampire was locked in combat with a normal - check that,
probably magician or mage, as the vampire would have easily
overcome a normal. Alex ran on in search for Adele. He saw
a door open to the outside and he caught a glimpse of dark
brown curls. He ran hard toward the door only to run head-on
into another magical bit of netting. But when he slashed at
it with the sword it fell away. Magical sword. Adele had
sent it. Somehow.

He caught sight of her again when he forced his way through
the doors, slinging aside surprised and frightened
civilians. There she was. Three men had a hold of her and
she was fighting in a way he couldn't really understand so
must have had to do with magic. She could force them back
and away for a bit but then the three of them would
overpower her again.

It was as if the entire sequence was in slow motion, his
progress toward her slowed down, her movements, theirs,
slowing down. The distance between them never seeming to
lessen. He yelled to her, some meaningless sound, just to
let her know he was coming. She looked away from her
attackers, saw him, hesitated and fell.

He slashed about himself with the sword and felt the spell
that had slowed him break. He ran forward. Slashing
viciously with the sword, and two of the men went down. The
third released his hold on Adele and fled, leaving her
lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood.

Sirens sounded in the distance.

Mitch gasped as another surge of magic shot through him,
hard-wiring the nonhuman part of his system. He fell to the
ground, something between a scream and a howl issuing from
his throat. Oh, God, no, not here, not with this many
innocent people around; but he was helpless against the
spell. Fur sprouted everywhere as his spine curved and
shortened, hands and feet began changing into paws.

Owen, with great presence of mind his father would never
have expected from him, threw off his own attackers,
literally, and ran to the side of the stricken, changing
werewolf. He picked up Mitch and various items of discarded
clothing. Holding the struggling, snarling lycanthrope by
the scruff of the neck, so that Mitch couldn't bite him, he
started hauling his captive through the airport.

There was a lot of screaming now, and people were thronging
the exits. Owen fought his way through them without once
losing his hold on Mitch.

Benoit was in trouble, though. He had no magical sword to
cut through the spell net. He struggled up to his feet,
only to be blasted off them again, slamming into a pillar.
He felt bones break. Even a vampire is seriously
inconvenienced by broken ribs. He slid down the pillar,
biting down on an automatic exclamation.

It wasn't going to be much comfort to Madame to know she'd
been right. He'd lost sight of Alex and Adele; he hadn't
been able to protect them at all. Even through the haze of
pain, he acknowledged the failure of his mission. Merde.

Alex reached Adele's side in zero time. "God, don't be
dead," he begged her. He'd taken her in his arms, knowing
this was not the right thing to do but seemed unable to stop
himself. He did feel a pulse. He stood with her in his
arms unsure where to take her where to find help.

It was then that the black Jaguar appeared. Yes, appeared.
It didn't pull up squealing brakes and burning rubber, it
just appeared. A young man hopped out who for some reason
looked familiar.

The young man opened the door to the back seat and seemed to
indicate Alex should get into it, but then he hesitated and
his eyes widened in shock. Alex turned to see what he was
looking at.

Owen Jones was struggling to get through the crowds with a
precarious grip on Mitch who was currently were and pissed.

The young man shouted to Owen, "In here! Can you keep him
restrained for a few minutes?"

'I'll have to," Owen answered.

The young man, oh, Spencer. The name came to Alex even
through the depths of his terror for Adele.

Spencer opened the passenger side of the front seat and
urged Alex to slide in with Adele in his arms.

Spence was white. "She's alive?" he asked.
"For the moment," Alex said.

Owen Nameless-handled Mitch into the back seat and Spence
slammed the door shutting Owen and Mitch back there. Luckily
the glass was up between the front and back seats. Luckily
Owen was a fully-grown Nameless and able to handle a
werewolf, even one that was seriously peeved.

Spence sprinted around the car and hopped in. "How many more
of ours?" he asked.

"Not sure. One for certain."

"Julian will handle it then". Spence gripped the wheel with
both hands, closed his eyes and said two words in some
language Alex didn't know. Suddenly, with merely a stomach
wrenching lurch, they were in a dark garage.

Mabel hurried forward.

Spence hopped out and yelled to her, "Don't open the back
door! Help Alex with Adele. Silver, I need silver!"

Mabel shook what she was holding in her hands. Silver
chain. How the hell? He didn't care. He took the chains
and Mabel turned to help Alex get out of the vehicle. Mabel
checked Adele's pulse. It was weak but steady. There was
still a lot of blood.

"Alex, bring her this way." Mabel set off and did not look
back to be sure he followed her, instead setting a rapid
pace to a bedroom where she could minister to her fallen
angel.

Alex, Adele clutched tightly to his bosom, didn't even
realize he still held a gory sword as he hurried behind
Mabel.

-------------------