On unsteady legs Maria stumbles her way off the pier. She’d landed in Marseille that day on a boat that had no right to be afloat much less carrying passengers across the Mediterranean Sea. She normally avoided travel across water but this trip had the flavor of urgency to it. The few friends she had in the Church had informed herbof the growing threat in southern France, dead apostles of all things. Why they didn’t call them vampires was beyond her. She’d been doing work in Africa when she’d heard and felt it her duty to stand against the hellspawn. But a week aboard that damn boat.... Maria crossed herself before clinging to the nearest trash can. She felt her stomach still churning like an angry ocean of nerves and regret.
“Dios mío, never again,” she muttered. Her lips were horribly chapped and she hadn’t been able to keep anything solid down in days and curse the ships owner he wouldn’t quit flirting with her; the experience had been as close to hell as she ever wished to be. After several minutes dry heaving into the bin Maria stood up and smoothed her hair back. To business, she decided.
She hurried across the road and into the city proper. The midday sun blazed down on her neck. She looked like a tourist, and partly felt like one. Marseille was stunning. The old buildings made her a tiny bit homesick but were no less beautiful to look at. Maria headed toward the center of town where her contact waited with a room, a meal, and transport.
She found him smoking a pipe outside a cafe, an empty coffee cup sitting on the scarred wood. Señor Aaron Zapata was a barrel chested man with arms like tree trunks covered in thick black hair. His face was covered in a beard and his skin was darkly tanned and weathered in a way only the desert sun can. He waved over to her, smoke stained teeth flashing in a friendly grin.
“Your trip was good I trust?” He called to her in Spanish. “I hope the boat didn’t capsize too much?”
The two met in a hug. Maria punched his arm and channeled the prim demeanor of of a Sister of the faith. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were paying back for that business in Roswell.”
“You dragged me into that girlie,” he laughed. “And you know it.”
They sat down. Maria ordered a black coffee. When it arrived they got to work. Aaron pulled out a map and pointed to a small city east of Marseille. “We’ll be going here. The Church has set up base there. I even hear they’ve accepted aid from the Association.”
Maia had had little interaction with the Association herself, the few times she’d met a Mage it’d been a brief exchange of words at the most. What little she’d seen she hoped the two organizations would act like adults and not act like the squabbling children she’d lnown them to act like. This would be a most interesting experience to say the least. “Have there been many casualties?”
Aaron’s tone turned somber. “More than I care to say aloud.” He crossed himself and pressed his lips to the rosary wrapped around his forearm. “God rest their souls. This situation isn’t like anything we’ve dealt with it’s gotten so bad Servants have been summoned.” When Maria raised an eyebrow he clarified. “Souls of the dead summoned like familiars; heroes of the past bound by seals.”
Maria felt disgust and pity wash over her. “We fight the undead and they go about desecrating the sanctity of the dead themselves.” She shook her head. “Is nothing sacred.”
“With what we are facing I’m a little glad they have. I’ve heard of two successful summonings, both sworn knights.”
Maria sipped at her untouched coffee, using the moment to collect her thoughts. The idea of the dead being brought back to correctvthe living’s mistakes made her sick of she was honest. They’d had their journey and found their rest, let them have it. She and Aaron settled the details, and paid the bill. He led her to where they would be staying the night. They’d be heading toward Hyères at dawn.