Antiquities and Memories

Stalking out into the night was a double edged sword this night. Much like the piece he just had verified. One of his independant contractors that bought and sold antiquities for his company had just shown him a sword that reminded him too much of the past. The man was based out of New York and thought nothing of stopping by Nachton to get his expert opinion on the age and origin of the blade.

Stalking quickly to the nearest sewer entrance to the House of Pain he wondered why he had purchased it for himself. By the time he had claimed his booth from the slight waiter the answer was still out of his reach. After removing the long black leather coat and the sword it had concealed, Cyrus placed the former across the back of the booth and the later on the table. The waiter's eyes bulged at the long sword placed so casually for all to see. Noting the young man's trouble with the blade he had to chuckle and reassure him with a lie.
"No worries, its just a replica, no edge."

Still the young man gulped and scurried away after taking his order. Sitting back in the booth with his booted feet on the bench the mongol contemplated the twists and turns life makes.

The blade was almost a thousand years old, Russian made. One almost exactly like this had run him through in the mongol invasion of Kiev in 1240. Temutai had slain the lucky Rus who had stabbed him in the back before pulling him to the safety of a nearby camp. After removing the blade from his back, his maker had returned to battle, fighting like a demon and bringing back a few humans to replace the blood Cyrus had lost on the field. The next night the two of them had laid waste together to innumerable men fighting for their homeland. The blade had been used to skewer the head of its wielder outside the city.

It had been such a violent time. The two vampires travelled with the Horde, battling in the dark of night for their Khan since it was all they knew. The decades of battle wore them both down. Since they both shared agility and hunger it was easy for them to overcome impossible odds. The Golden Horde flourished, laying waste to Moscow two years prior to their battle in Kiev. Batu Khan had welcomed the two even if they did travel inside a wagon during the day and only fight at knight. Shaman had deemed them mighty warriors in tune with the light of the moon and stars but weakened by the sun. Welcomed and accepted they had one familiar to care for them, Temutai's Cheren worshiped the older vampire.

Thinking of Rus, Cheren and battles simply reminded him of the path his life had taken. Only a few short years after that battle Cheren died and Temutai met the sun soon after. Discovering he could not go on without his love beside him. Cyrus hoped he never felt that feeling.

Cyrus 17 years ago
Cyrus barely roused from his memories when the waiter brought him a double scotch. The young man quickly ran back to his bartender, probably full of fears and gossip. He would have to speak to one of the security people. If the boy was going to get his boxers in a bunch everytime someone came in with a knife he would not last long here. Brushing off the fate of one young human male, he sipped his drink, returning to the contemplation of his long life.

The memories were thick, filling his head with the past. Even his keen senses were full of the stench of battle; mud, filth, blood and festering wounds. His ears rang with the sharp twang of bows firing arrows at the clash of swords against sheilds or hacking into flesh and bone. In the swirlling depths of his glass he could almost see the dirty battlefield.

Oddly enough the unceasing hunger was quiet for the moment. Which was a good thing as he did not feel capable of making an effort to restrain the violence shaking inside of him, clawing to get out.
Mathias 17 years ago
Shay was in New York meeting with her editor again, and Alec was incommunicado - probably 'thanking' Ginnie again - which drove home to MAthias how few people he truly 'knew' in Nachton. There was Carol, and Simon and Ginnie, but there was the same sense of comfort he had with his love, or the bond that he and Alec seemed to share.

And so it was,that Mathias, sitting alone at the House of Pain, noticed a young asian man with a sword. Not just any sword mind you, but a blade similar to the one he had carried so long ago..and the face of the man..something familiar...

Mathias could not put his finger on it, as if the memory flitted away the moment he began to focus upon it. And yet, he could almost hear the clang of metal upon metal,smell the smoke of a thousand fires...

Kiev, 1240 - The Mongol Horde has come to this proud city and ravaged it. Mathias has come to defend a home he barely knows. His parents were born here, and he visited a few times but not enough to truly call it home. But with his creator and mentor turned to ash over a 100 years ago, Mathias felt as if no where else could provide sanctuary to him. Combat is a blur - but he sees one of the bogatyr - knights - run a Mongol through with his blade, before he is slain by one of the other barbarians. The thing that struck MAthias as odd, the surviving Mongol dragged his fallen comrade off the field and to the shelter of a nearby cave. This was contrary to anything Mathias had seen or heard of the Horde, but before he could pursue the matter further the tides of conflict swept him up once again....the next night he had gone to check,but no sign was to be found...

What would you like to drink sir?" the waitresses question snapped Mathias out of his momentary reverie.

"Staraya Moskva, neat and chilled please" The premium vodka was his favorite and perhaps its loving embrace would sooth the stirred memories.
Cyrus 17 years ago
The waiter was doing his best to ignore him which angered Cyrus in his current violent state of mind. Glaring at the young man as he stood talking to a waitress pouring vodka. Giving the glass a small mental tug when she removed the bottle from its lip the alcohol spilled all over the counter forcing them both to scramble for towels to mop up the mess. Shame to waste good vodka but he was hoping that the nervous waiter would glance his direction after such a incompetent act. Most people feeling guilty of things looked at the focus of their guilt when other things went wrong. Poor human nature sucker punched the young man as he looked towards Cyrus embarassed.

Raising his hand and motioning with a single finger curling towards himself, Cyrus beckoned the waiter over to his table. Leaving the bar with a vodka damp towel in hand, the man presented himself to his table. Ignoring the shame faced look and rabbit scared eyes the Mongol instructed him in a quiet but dangrerous voice.
"Bring me another scotch, double. And get the patron whos drink was spilled another on my tab."

With a dismissive snear he returned to his glass, not watching the waiter race away to comply with his orders.
Mathias 17 years ago
His reverie broken, Mathias focused on watching the crowd this night. It was on a similar evening that he had first seen Shay..and Mathias smiled at the memory. Beautiful Shay...losing herself in the music that night...

"-or vodka sir." The waitress voice intruded again into his memories Getting long in the tooth old man, lost in remembrances he chided himself. Mathias reached to pay for his drink but the waitress stopped him. "There was an accident at the bar and your order was spilled. That gentleman over there - " She pointed indicating the asian man Mathias had noticed earlier "- order was spilled as well and he offered to pay for your drink as well" She handed him the vodka and MAthias could tell the incident had embarrassed her. Mathias turned to the man's table and raising the glass, nodded a thank you to him.

Well, I should be polite and at least thank him in person Mathias thought to himself,standing and moving towards the table And I can get a better look at the sword too..
Cyrus 17 years ago
Having reached the bottom of his glass he was glaring at the waiter and waitress from the earlier debacle when the pointing started. Damn, it was a larger fellow's drink he just purchased, not a woman's. The polite nod must mean the gent was not upset about it. This was good as Cyrus was not sure he could restrain himself from killing right in the middle of the bar should he get accosted. Some days it did not pay to seek solace in a crowded place. At least not for the innocent bystanders.

A brow arched up as the drink's recipient began making his way over. He was vaguely familiar. Scowling into his glass he tried to place the man. From the House of Pain, definately he had seen him here before but somewhere else nagged at him. Mentally reviewing all the parties he had attended, Cyrus pounced upon the Halloween bash held at some Pirate's loft. This fellow had been a knight with a very scantily clad lioness. If he recalled correctly the kitty had him tamed.

The thought brought a smirk and noiseless laugh from Cyrus. Now if only he could remember the fellow's name before he reached the table.
Mathias 17 years ago
As Mathias approached the table he recognized the other man. It was...Connie and Nyra's Halloween party. Something about him had bothered Mathias if he remembered interesting to meet here. what was his name...began with a C..Ah! Cyrus..that was it.There had been a woman with him, Suki he thought..but Mathias saw no sign of her about. There was something more - something else about Cyrus was familiar to Mathias, but hazy as if in the distance.

There was no time to consider this however and Mathias again nodded his head in acknowledgement.
"Cyrus isn't it? We met at Connie and Nyra's Halloween party. Thank you for the drink, it's nice to see someone with manners here"

Chuckling he held his hand out to Cyrus.
Cyrus 17 years ago
Cyrus gave a curt nod at the thanks while trying not to curl his lip at the manners comment. His current mood was so foul he would have flashed fang in his disdain. With great effort he tried to appear more cordial than he felt, shaking the other man's hand briefly.

"How is your Lioness doing, Mathias?"

Waving his hand at the high backed bench across the table from him for him to sit. The waiter finally scurried over with his drink finally, almost sloshing it in his haste. Cyrus' eyes narrowed and his lip twitched in a need to hiss at the incompetant cattle. "You had best bring another before I finish this one."

The fool almost pissed himself in fear at the low growled command before he ran back to the bar. Snorting in disgust, Cyrus took a swallow of the fine liquid and savored the burn of alcohol on his throat. Looking across at his newly reacquainted acquaintance his brow arched. Remembering back to the party they had met made Cyrus remember that this man had struck him then as a fellow vampire. Deciding to see what this fellow would give up in way of admission he asked the question without too much challenge in his voice.

"So, do you know anything about 700 year old swords?" The naked blade lay flat on the table, tip pointed to the wall and hilt towards the dance floor. It did not gleam like a highly cherished posession, but dully like a forgotten tool left in a shed too long. It made Cyrus wonder just where it had been stored for so long.
Mathias 17 years ago
Mathias paid no attention to Cyrus' curtness - whatever troubled the man, he was not the cause. Accepting Cyrus' invitation, Mathias sat down, lifting his drink in salute to the other man.
"To your health"

Mathias got the distinct impression that Cyrus was of similar breed to him - nothing concrete more of a gut feeling. Perhaps it was the HOP environment,perhaps something in the way Cyrus moved or the casual disdain he gave the waitstaff. Yes familiar, and yet there was more - not something he could put a finger to, an ephemeral feeling that disappeared as soon as it appeared.

"How is your Lioness doing, Mathias?"

Mathias smiled at the mention of Shay, although a portion of him was bothered by Cyrus' apparent familiarity.
"She is doing good,thank you. We just got back from wandering Europe, I think she is still tired. I dragged to every church from Kiev to Constantinople! How is your companion of that night- Suki I believe?"

"So, do you know anything about 700 year old swords?"

Was this some sort of test? A code to see how old he was? Or..he could be curious if you know anything about swords..his internal monologue reminded him not to overthink the question.

"Offhand I'd say it is a Oakshott Type XIII,common to Europe and the Middle East thanks in part to the Crusades. May I?" He indicated picking up the blade. Cyrus nodded briefly and Mathias carefully lifted the sword. Except for the conspicuous lack of care, it could be the twin to his blade. Its owners were either unaware of what they possessed or simply did not care. A tragedy, it was a remarkable piece of metal.

Placing the sword precisely the way Cyrus had it, Mathias looked at the man across from him.

"Definitely Oakshott XIII, I'd hazard a guess that it is a family heirloom, perhaps packed away or hanging on a mantle in some drafty castle. Pity really, considering how rare a good specimen is."

Mathias noticed he was rambling and smiled apologetically to Cyrus.
"Sorry, history is something of an obsession for me - I primarily research early Christian and Gnostic religion but one cannot separate religion and war it seems. Are you a collector or dealer in antiques?"
Cyrus 17 years ago
One brow arched at the thought of travelling all over Europe, to see churches. Wondering if Mathias was somewhat of a religious fanatic, Cyrus shook his head.

"Suki is well, she is greatly enjoying the position of my assistant." That was all that he wished to talk about his familiar to this stranger. Perhaps if the fellow had known to ask about Fallon's health, Cyrus would have waxed poetic or at least spoken less briefly on the subject. But she had not entered his life at the time of the party, so Mathias would not know.

Watching him lift the sword to inspect it was a revelation. The man knew his way around a sword to say the least. Toasting his glass respectfully at the correct identification of the weapon he watched it return to its prior location.

"Good eye. It is indead an Oakshott XIII. Brought over by an immigrant two hundred years ago. The family had it in a chest in an attic. The cloth wrapped around it was quite moth eaten."

Shaking his head sadly at the lack of respect for people's heritage, Cyrus took another long swallow of his dark amber drink. There was only about two sips left, the waiter had best make his way back before he lost his head. Literally.

Giving Mathias the standard cover speil was easy.
"I inherited the family businesses. Antiquity acquisition, authentication and auction. So yes, I know quite a bit about the subject despite being somewhat removed from the day to day dealings. Plus I have a large collection of my own, mostly weaponry and armor from Asia."

With a glance at the sword and another sip he wondered what to do with the sword in question. "I dont know if I want to keep this one or not. Its authentic but poor condition. Plus, I hate Russians."
Mathias 17 years ago
What an amusing prejudice for a collector to have, Mathias thought to himself - several disparate things making more sense regarding Cyrus.

"Lose a woman to someone named Boris?" Mathias chuckled softly. "Pity you hate much history with the Russian people. One could say the history of the world reflects itself in the Rodina..I mean Russia." Nice slip there Old man, he chastised himself for using the old term for Russia.

Continuing,he stared at the blade on the table,lightly running his fingers across it. "Take for example,this sword. Very likely it was used when the Mongol hordes tore across the steppes to assault more civilized lands. Perhaps even the defense of Kiev in 1240. What a glorious time that was...while the rest of the world kow towed to the bow legged barbarians, only the Rus stood strong against them! It took the complete obliteration of Kiev to stop the Rus will - something sadly, which took many centuries to recover from..but recover they did. And Kiev stands to this day. And I wonder where is the Great Horde of Batu Khan?"

Mathias closed his eyes for a moment, remembering that battle nearly 8 centuries past. Felling squat legged barbarian,one after another until finally "falling" to their vast numbers. When he awoke and recovered Kiev was a flame and destroyed. It was an image burned into his soul. So much blood, so much destruction...

He leaned back and smiled at Cyrus. "See? Much history in the Russian people - a pity to miss a chance simply because one hates Russians."
Cyrus 17 years ago
"More like a blade in the back." Cyrus found the slip of a name quite telling. Still he did no more than arch a brow.

Still the brief history recap was interesting. Mathias spoke as if he had lived it, and perhaps he had. Putting his drink down he listened carefully to what was said and how as well as what his new acquaintance did not say. It appeared obvious that the destruction of Kiev pained him. A respectful nod was granted the larger man before launching into his view of the events.

"Civilization was a myth. People may have been living with some social niceties but still it was a barbaric time. The only reason Kiev was destroyed was due to its resistance. Had they simply not resisted the Horde the long years of war would not have happened. The Tartar yoke was not opressive as they were pastoral and had little direct dealing with the inhabitants. Besides, Kiev did not return to prosperity until the late nineteenth century after being passed around to Lithuania and then Poland."

Pausing for just a moment to sip his drink before continuing. "The Horde may not be a power today, but it had a profound effect on the shaping of many countries."

Over the centuries his own life had changed so much he had lost his nomadic heritage. Sleeping in a comfortable home was much prefered to a yurt. So he could not defend the lifestyle too strongly in this day and age simply because it was no longer viable. Cyrus supposed it was evolution at work.
Mathias 17 years ago
"No - Kiev truly was a civilized place - art, literature and God...a light in dark times. That is why Vlodimir sent emissaries to Constantinople, the other beacon of hope."

Leaning forward,Mathias pondered Cyrus' words.

"Perhaps you are correct Cyrus, resistance did cause more harm than good in the end. And yet, you forget the Rus were not some vacillitating Frank or a pasty faced Brit - they were a strong people! Had the Mongols been more than squat,rotten milk sipping barbarians, they might have seen alliance with the Rus would have beneficial to both. And perhaps the Horde would be more than a footnote and list of influences now."

Mathias sat back and took a long sip of his vodka,feeling the burn traveling down his throat and joining the flame burning in his belly already.

"And let us not forget, Batu Khan's destruction of Kiev allowed those whey blooded fools in Moscow to rise in power - and that alone is a crime against humanity."
Cyrus 17 years ago
Cyrus was already shaking his head in disagreement when Mathias got to god. "Do not mistake religion for civilization. The horde was the most tollerant of all religions even then. Which should count more towards being civil than the atrocities committed in the name of god."

Just as he was nodding in victory the other man let loose his idea of what the Horde was like. By the time he finished, Cyrus was laughing and slapping the table. "I may let you keep the rotten milk and barbarian part, but I take offence to the squat and sipping parts!"

Once his amusement at the comments slowed to head shaking he reflected upon the Mongol way of life. "Honestly it was not over-reaching their power that caused the Horde to fade, it was simply a matter of evolution. When civilization became a reality it was no longer needed to move a yurt from place to place to survive. The pastoral way of life was fine until you could no longer live off the land as it was someone's property. I am sure there are some peoples in the world today who are still nomads, perhaps even a few mongols left, but the way of life simply outgrew most of its usefullness. Hunting and gathering is simply not the way of the future but of the past."

Studying the table through the murky brozne liquid he pushed back the memories. Timidly the waiter scurried up and placed two new glasses on the table before racing away. Shaking his head he finished the last bit of scotch.

"Moscow." The snort of derision was not loud but noticable. "The squaters there at least have to live with the fact that they were second best. Plus they got sacked repeatedly throughout the years, if not by us than the Tartars."
Mathias 17 years ago
Mathias grew quiet a moment,pondering Cyrus' words. He was right, religion alone did not signify civilization. In his time Mathias had seen religion exemplify the best and worse in mankind...perhaps it was time he let go of some of his prejudices regarding the past.

"Change is the one constant I suppose - and yet I can't help but think with the cooperation of the Rus the Horde would live on even today. Perhaps it is a long held conceit however."

He drained the remainder of his vodka in one swallow, feeling the smooth burn travel down his throat to reside in his belly.

"At least we can agree on those Muscovy bastards-usurpers and pretenders the lot of them!"

The more he sat and talked to Cyrus, the more familiar the smaller man became..not just because of the party,but something else. Certain words and phrases,the way he moved...Cyrus was certainly more than a simple collector.

Raising his glass,Mathias saluted Cyrus.

"Perhaps those of us who lived history should be more apt to remember the lessons learned..."
Cyrus 17 years ago
"That it is." If he had to say the one constant through the centuries it would be change because nothing stayed the same. Even if a building still stood today, it had a new coat of paint or an updated bathroom or a roof that was not thatch. Even cultures changed, traditions evolved and language expanded. The idea of the Horde being around today gave him a chuckle. Somehow he doubted they would be anything like the Horde he had grown up in.

Sliding his glass to the end of the table and pulling the new drinks the cowardly waiter left them to them before he returned Mathias' salute with his new full glass. The comment was very telling but since they were secluded here along the back wall he did not worry too much about what he said. The man sitting across from him had just confirmed his belief that he was a vampire.

"We especially need to change as well though. And those very lessons grow faint or fade into obsolescence after eleven hundred years."

Debating briefly about asking Mathias' clan, Cyrus decided he simply did not care. Perhaps they were on the wrong side of the field still but here in the House of Pain they had found a comfortable common ground and someone to reminice with. Which was quite rare a find.
Mathias 16 years ago
Mathias had to agree with Cyrus,change was the one constant. A soul had to adapt, lest the crush of centuries weigh you down. Mathias had seen vampires like, had almost become one..if not for the love of Shay...

"Perhaps it was a pining for long lost values, honor in one's actions is sorely lacking these days. Eleven hundred years or no, some things should not change."

Mathias stared into his glass - Tachatan's reputation as clanless beasts gnawed at him. Perhaps as part of this training Alec envisioned he could reintroduce certain beliefs..
Cyrus 16 years ago
Taking a drink of his fresh glass he shrugged slightly at Mathias' claim. The horde had their own rules and he still lived by them. Survive, do what is best to further the interests of the horde and eliminate your enemies. His values remained the same, though he furthered his own interests as there was no more horde and enemies were those that did not fit into his ideal of acceptable behavior.

"I can assure you that my idea of honor is quite different from yours. The horde did not quite instill chivallry into its members. But I do live by my values as I am sure you do as well."

Contemplating the man across the table from him he cocked his head slightly. "Did you go on crusade for your country?"
Mathias 16 years ago
Smiling,Mathias took another swallow of the vodka,letting the smooth liquid trail down his throat. There was a reason the alcohol's name was a derivative of the slavic word for water,voda.

"When I speak of honor and values, I do not speak of chivalry. To me, it was a corruption of honor - an excuse to act dishonorably by the rules,as it were. No - to act in accordance with one's values, to bear responsibility for one's my eyes that is honor."

Cyrus' question took him a bit aback, as they had been dancing about, not really asking what they both knew.
"Yes, I did. First against the Khazar - last of the Barbars that plagued us then. And I shadowed the crusaders, conducting my own crusade as it were, at least for a time. Getting to know those like us of muslim and jewish belief caused me to question the sanctity of what was done in His name. the Fourth Crusade's sacking of Constantinople only confirmed that."

Setting his drink down,Mathias looked across at the familiar but not face.
"And you Cyrus - what lands fell beneath your sword?"
Cyrus 16 years ago
Nodding with respect for this comrade growing he could only agree about honor. It was to him, abiding by your code not some societal standard. Listening to Mathias descibe his campaigns and subsequent doubts put him firmly in the category of a "good" man. Something Cyrus occasionally attempted to be. At the return question he let out a brief laugh.

"I am horde. All fell to my sword. From Yanjing, China to Merv, Persia to Kiev. Though, Moscow did burn first."

Eyeing the blade between them he could almost see the battles. The mud, the cold, the stench of death permeated everything. Fighting had been the only thing he knew how to do other than raise yaks. Looking back on those years now, he could freely admit that he and Temutai had fought for the horde for too long. Much much too long.
Mathias 16 years ago
For a moment he joined Cyrus in quiet reflection,staring at the blade between them. So much violence,so much blood - done in God's many had he killed? How many were saved by his actions? No - Mathias had done what he thought was right, but in hindsight he knew he and other knights had been used by those in power. Used to exploit fears,to increase power,property and coin. They had done Man's will, not God's.

He leaned back,eyes closed as the centuries memories washed over him
"No,I suppose we both did what was best for our people then.And still we would,I think, though clearly neither of us are the men of those past centuries. Change being the one constant and all that."