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Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll Read 11361 times

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2015, 01:49:26 am »
The cat had been a good source for information. Would it be enough just to see it again? Would information flow as freely? Cats were famously fickle. What of two tailed ones? He thought that it was a possibility, but decided not to put too much stock in it. He looked up at the beautiful structure when she mentioned its garden. He wondered how the plant life would be, if the church's had been so lush. "Fireflies." he mumbled along. What a grand notion. Biological light on a land of greenery that shouldn't be. There was a stretch and a settling from the cage he was wearing.

He came back from his imaginings to see her work with her orb. It was always fascinating, and it had been invaluable in earlier pursuits. He nodded at the new information. "Tightly closed." he said as he looked around. He stopped them in front of a wall facing one of the high end inns the wolf had been on about. "I suppose we should wait here then. Maybe there'll be activity in the night."

It wasn't proactive, but lack of patience had killed many of fellow hunters. The advance they'd gotten should more than well afford them one night here. It would be less suspicious than standing outside the entrance, waiting.

--

Pello connected the fastenings to keep the sleeve in place while he listened to her. While he understood the notion of first strike, he couldn't like it, not when he wasn't the one striking. He shook his head, but they both knew he would do his best to follow her orders. Receiving orders always made him want to oppose them, it was usually just with Amaranth that the duality worked out in her favor.

"I'll take it easy." he agreed. Her well veiled order had been one disguised as affection. It was hard for the dragon to argue.

"I'm hungry anyway." he said as he looked at his shoulder. Everything seemed in place. No one could have told that he'd been cut, except from the now opened chainmail in the joint between the arm and the torso of the armor. "I'll go see about getting fed." There were pens in the dungeons for him. And animals all around. Pello, enforcer of Amaranth's will, did not have to go hungry in Euboea.

--

The roll in the air was effective both in avoiding the cut, and landing the wolf well, facing D. He had the blade by the side of his face again, looking straight at the wolf, who was now a couple of steps inside the alley again. When it rushed forward, D assumed it would be a tackle aimed for his waist, and offered a lancing at that level. The wolf dove under the intended counter attack and wrapped arms around his thighs.

D followed with the force of the beast, and then stabbed his sword into the ground. Using the sword as an axis as he leaned toward it, and he let go with his feet to let the momentum of the wolf swing him around the sword. Like a flag in changing wind the two bodies swung, the wolf on the outside. It was D's intention to slide out of the grip like so, to have the wolf roll on the ground without him. If only one leg was freed, he'd use that boot against the wolf's face. And if not, he'd roll and place the blade between them, resting it against the wolfs throat.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2015, 04:44:49 am »
It wasn’t surprising that it was so tightly closed. What was really surprising was the lack of obvious tech—the lack of seams in the castle walls for turrets or other weapons. It was clear to Lydia that this Amaranth depended on her guards—she wasn’t willing to risk injury to them by having motion-sensing weapons.

She noted it as they walk,
“When we figure out a way in, it shouldn’t be hard,” they were heading towards the inns now that the wolf had mentioned, “There’s no seams to suggest turrets. This noble seems to prefer thinking things to unthinking objects.” Which was quite curious. Did she not fear that one of them would turn on her? Lydia’s own creator had been so paranoid. Lydia remembered that quite well.

‘If….’ Doubt seeped into her thoughts in a way it never had before. If he was her creator. If she hadn’t been someone else before.

It made her wonder about the others in this town, the guards. Were they children of Amaranth, or did they have parents before?


~***~

Amaranth smiled warmly at Pello’s agreement to take care of himself.
“I’ll see you again soon,” she promised, for they’d be going hunting together that night. It had been quite a while since she’d done such a thing.

It ought to be fun.

Amaranth would let Pello leave first, and then she would walk back to her lab, only to grow more and more frustrated with the fact there was nothing to do. Amaranth did not like to be idle, but to poke and prod her current project more was to risk ruining it entirely.

A hand moved through her hair in agitation, and she looked to an hourglass. The sand flowed with the movement of the sun, and a thought occurred to her.


‘Where’s Marshall?’


The werewolf was never late, and as the thought came, the unfading woman lost color as she recalled the amount of hunters in the town.
‘Two hours to sunset.’ Amaranth knew she needed to sleep.

Amaranth knew she wouldn't until Marshall returned to her side, not because she worried for herself, but because his tardiness gave her reason to worry for him.


~***~

Time was not on Marshall’s mind. He was in the moment, where only moments mattered. As much as he did not wish to underestimate the dhampir, he had foolishly hoped that his attack would be a success.

Instead, he found the dhampir had seen what he planned. He wrapped his arms around the legs, only to lose his own footing. Marshall lost his footing and rolled away rather roughly as he hit the ground, unprepared for the fall. Dirt stuck to hair and the fur of his ears as he reached with his claws to stop his own momentum, digging into the ground that gave way to clumps. He slowed, and he stopped, but not as quickly as he would have liked.

Internally, there was a small part of Marshall that was pleased with having someone difficult.

Internally, there was a large part of Marshall that had never been so furious, and so afraid, at the same time. He didn’t have the range of the dhampir, for he did not utilize any weapon but what was attached to him, and as he started to rise, he knew that the range of that sword was the threat. Marshall had lived a long life. He wasn't ready for it to end.


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2015, 06:20:10 pm »
Oleyo had another look around when she mentioned that there were no latches or nooks for advanced weaponry to hide. She seemed to be right about this noble. Euboea itself, the guards. To him it pointed to a kind of conservatism. It had worked for so long, why wouldn't it continue? A city by a trade center, well grown gardens and man-powered defenses. It was the kind of thing afforded to the successful. It felt a little like the snowglobes he'd been allowed to shake when life was new to him. Of course, this city would be a good way to know its Noble. Hopefully this way of doing things, manually, could be a weakness they'd be able to exploit.

"Then all we have to do is bypass them." he said. Not an easy task. He didn't even bother to salt his words with that sentiment. She'd know. That's why she'd pointed it out. This meant they had to learn more about the guards. It'd be quite a disaster if they couldn't match the wall-perched guards in strength, but that was rarely the problem. Numbers and tactics was all it came down to. Already he was noting their patterns, even as they neared an in with gilded letters resting above its door. He opened the door for her.

The inn was busy, even in its first hall. Civil motion, not chaos. A man at the counter waved them over with some enthusiasm. Oleyo brought her along with some visible disregard for what she might want to go. It wasn't so of course, but in here they might have to pretend, at least to begin with, since they wanted to appear inconspicuous for now.

"A room? There's a deposit, but no extra for sharing." the man said, nodding once to acknowledge Lydia.

It seemed it wasn't unusual for anyone to walk in here. Fortune could shift fast in a city like this. But Oleyo was willing to bet they'd be greeted with more grandeur if they'd been wearing other garbs than their armor. Fair enough, he supposed and paid.

--

Pello did leave.

The day was still such that she could not go out, and he felt the need to represent her in the city. Feeding time was also one of his favorite times. First food, then he'd go see Marshall. Pello picked his complaints in his head, and settled on telling Marshall how he should have been there to fight the dhampir. Marshall did run faster than Pello, something the dragon mutant didn't usually put much stock in.

He made his way into a close by inn, better polished than he usually preferred them. Sometimes the cuts of meat were smaller at fancier places. Better cuts. He didn't care for quality. This establishment had golden letters spelling out its name above the door. He huffed but still came to the counter of the restaurant.

"A pig." he said to the waiter, already sweating. The scared man did not really understand the order, but hurried away, anyway. Most people knew of Pello's manners.

--

D had his arm out, holding the sword that stuck out high from the ground as he watched Marshall slide into the open grass, breaking that speed by clawing the ground. When the wolf stood steady again, filled with all the hormones that a battle evokes, D's arm tensed and drew the sword from the earth, painting an arc to mark the way of the tip as he swung the blade back, far back, arm straight as he started running toward the opponent again. his scarf was alive, dancing around his chin, as was the rim of his hat, while his face was as calm as it was known to be.

When he was within distance, he would throw to feigns, a cross scar across the air, to see if the wolf would swallow that bait and put himself out of balance. To further disorient the canine, the last feign would come with a full turn of D's body, flailing out the cape to brush the wolve's eyes before the third strike would come, deeper, wider, cutting from shoulder to opposite hip. In this spinning ruse he was vulnerable, but it was a risk he was willing to venture, counting on his reflexes to to keep him out of harms way.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2015, 06:55:24 pm »
Oleyo’s phrasing could be taken as implying the task easy, but a glance to his face let Lydia know he didn’t think that at all. The letters of the inn came into focus of the spinning orb, and Lydia pocketed it just before the door was open, and then stepped through and followed the force of Oleyo to the counter.

It was busy already, despite, or perhaps because of, the hour. Lydia sniffed the air and understood the inn doubled as a restaurant. Her own stomach grumbled its protest. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

Of course she had to go up to the counter, and she played along, didn’t wander off to obtain food. She glanced at the man as he spoke of the deposit, no extra for her, and she gave a smile, then looked away as Oleyo paid. She asked in a whisper,
“Can we get food before going to the room?” It wasn’t like they really had anything to put away. If they did, it was in the storage of their bikes.

~***~

The dhampir had courtesy enough to wait for Marshall to get to his feet. Marshall wasn’t sure if he would have done the same, were the tides turned. The dhampir’s confidence never broke, and Marshall understood why. This was a true hunter, not some kid or mutant who got lucky now and then—this one didn’t need the cover of daylight.

The wolf knew his eyes would deceive him, but the sword didn’t have a scent that was strong enough to be useful. He did move to avoid the feigned blow, not understanding the length and cutting line of the blade well enough yet. The brush of the cape close to his face disrupted his ability to smell for a moment—long enough. There was a panic and a spike of adrenaline, but that didn’t come in time for Marshall to be spared all harm.

There was pain as the blade moved through his shoulder and down towards his hip, but Marshall knew how to endure pain. He grit his teeth and lifted his hands up to stop the blade prematurely and catch it with his claws.

He would get the weapon out of the dhampir’s hands if he could, but right now he’d settle for immobilizing it within his own body. His nose flared and widened, a small shift trying to demand others.


~***~

Habits could be problematic. Amaranth had always taken it for granted that she only added enough incense to keep her awake until the final two hours of daylight. Amaranth didn’t remember the habit until the scent of night started to fade around her, replaced with the scent of day from outside.

The fireflies would stop their sparking in the garden as the magic of the bewitching incense lifted.

Amaranth would falter and fall within the safety of her laboratory, dead asleep like any other noble ought to be during the day. It wasn’t in her coffin, nor dressed down. The red hair would splay across the white tiles like blood.

Her plans to wait for Marshall’s return were ruined by her own careful planning—for she never wanted night to occur, and the incense to change its scent to make her think it was day. The incense always burned out before it became night.


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2015, 10:30:07 pm »
Oleyo had sniffed the air shortly after she had. He hadn't noticed his hunger until he realized hers. He was eager to agree, it was in part because of how he'd botched his promise to take care of the large lizard before, even if she'd already forgiven him silently. "Yes. I'm famished." he said.

It wasn't hard finding their way to the dining area, the entrance large on the other wall. Again Euboea proved itself, by supporting such an eatery. His eyes, not at all as impressed with architectural finesse as it was with nature's own design, grew wider once they'd crossed the threshold. There were a few odd looking people and creatures in here, but the one that stuck out the most was the golden dragon. His size eclipsed one of the walls. A row of padded seats, just for his frame. Oleyo frowned and stopped in his tracks, hand on Lydia's.

"Seems like I'll get another chance to fail you today." he joked, looking at Pello from behind, at a distance.

The dragon rubbed his chin and leaned back to the dismay of the backrests. Somehow they held up. A few guests tensed but didn't dare move in fear of upsetting or insulting Amaranth's harbinger and most moody child. His eyes lit up when they brought him that pig, steaming. He hadn't predicated it be cooked, and assumed they had been preparing it for other parties, given how fast it was brought. It wasn't the biggest animal of its kind, but he was still pleasantly surprised by the scent that came at him.

He broke of a side, ribs sticking out from his fist before he brought it to his mouth. Bones were not a problem for the mutant. The garnish and vegetables lining the giant metal plate were of course superfluous. It had been another attempt not to offend the dragon.

"What should we do?" Oleyo managed to ask before Pello's shoulders stiffened.

The dragon saw their likenesses in the glaze of the pig's belly. Sharp, slitted eyes knew. Oleyo let go of her hand and dropped the shield to his forearm again.

The dragon turned around, standing, splintering the seats and toppling the table.

"Why isn't he attacking?" Oleyo asked quietly to the side where she was, unaware of the the promise the mutant had made to its maker. Just as he lowered his shield, ready to speak to the giant thing, it charged. They would not know that Pello had decided that being close to him was enough of a first move for him to react. He had said he'd let them cause trouble first. Disturbing him during lunch was troublesome.

--

D saw enough in the yellow eyes that he could understand that the wolf knew the purpose of the first cuts. The cape, however, had proven an effective maneuver. The flesh of the creature slowed down the cut enough that its claws could catch his sword. It was not a blade of great width. D held on to it as he looked at the beast, having saved its own life with the grip. Mayerling had a fondness for this kind of weapon weapons as well.

D stepped into the wolf and then lanced his sword forward. It would be harder to hold when it moved that direction, than it was when traveling down. He only needed to either disturb the wolf with the pain that this caused, or dispel some of the friction between its claws and the blade before he could simply draw the sword back swiftly, out of reach.

The cut was severe for anyone. D hoped the stabbing and the pulling would free his blade, if not then he would land a quick kick to the wolf's side to further increase the pain and disturb concentration so he could pull. When he did get the sword loose, he would launch himself in the air and land beyond the beast, sword out to the side after another slash he'd executed. He'd turn around to see if it landed.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2015, 11:15:16 pm »
Lydia all but dragged Oleyo towards the food once they were all paid up. She certainly would have continued on towards the front if Oleyo did not catch her attention by pointing out the irritating lizard. Her brow furrowed, and this time her cheeks heated with anger rather than lust. “Oh, just ignore him,” Lydia said, hoping that would be enough, though she doubted it. “He’s hungry, we’re hungry.”

For Pello was gorging on a pig when they caught sight of the beast.

Oleyo still prepared to fight. Lydia intended to walk to a table as a show that she’d happily ignore the other if he would. Just as Oleyo started to ask about it, though, the lizard rose and charged.
‘Damn it.’

Her turn, then. Oleyo just lowered his guard. The book fell to the ground as she moved her arm. She dragged four fingernails down her right forearm and split it open. There wasn’t time to be slow or subtle. The black marks on her body bled towards the wound, and her blood was a darker hue than any human would ever have, though still red. It didn’t fall to the ground, though it bled quickly down her arm and down her fingers, there was a clear form that it took.

Four long, sharp, tendrils of blood followed the lines they’d been cut from and Lydia slashed them at the charging Pello. She didn’t care so much if they just touched him, or if they cut him—her blood was hers to control, and so far she hadn’t met an enemy that her blood didn’t burn and scar. It was a shame she was wasting it on a guard. It would have been hilarious if she could have gotten the Lady Amaranth to drink deep. If the guard lived, he’d likely warn her.

No drop fell to the ground to offer a warning, to melt through the floor.


~***~

Marshall caught the sword, but trying to twist it out of the dhampir’s grip was not going to occur just then. In the second he had to take to think, the blade lanced forward, puncturing muscles and tendons. It slide right through his claws which weren’t able to stop a forward advance.
“Grah, tch!”

Claws disturbed, the dhampir was able to take his sword back. Marshall didn’t reach for it in vain, but pushed himself forward when the dhampir jumped, certain an attack would follow. His steps were a bit unsteady from the pain that lingered, but he was working to shake it off. Small shifts were running along his body. The pupils of his eyes lost their circularity, and his balance was found again when a tail grew to swipe the ground beneath him.

The slash cut air. Marshall heard it as his feet took him out of range.

The quick-moving cells were rapidly moving to heal the wound that the sword had inflicted, too. Marshall did not intend to shift fully—he was not a “true” werewolf, and so he tended to lose quite a bit of his reasoning capabilities when he shifted. The hydra-genes were what promoted his shifting capabilities, and so the healing, not the natural lupine genes.


“Marshall?!”

Marshall didn’t look back, though he knew that voice. He actually smiled, remembering he wasn’t alone out here. In all areas, there was some guard, and in this area was Amaranth’s lion, inspired by the manticore. She didn’t have a scorpion’s tail, but the whip at her side was laced with a poison Marshall could smell from here as she came around behind D.

When her green eyes took in Marshall's blood, that whip came out and she swung it at D’s sword-arm. 

« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 12:19:49 am by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #36 on: June 28, 2015, 01:52:01 pm »
Her enthusiasm for the food was equal parts endearing and heartbreaking. After her initial suggestion to keep a low profile became impossible, she too had to immerse herself in the battle forced on them. Last time he'd seen Pello he had been crashing from a high perch, landed on a stone structure and been fine. His velocity now shouldn't differ that much, even if the trajectory was horizontal, or rather, a course of collision. Oleyo was a master of blunt impact, but he'd not taken many things head-on as fast and durable as Pello.

Through his shield he saw Lydia access her power. It seemed the scaled, armored beast was focused on Oleyo, so she was able to cut the charging enemy as he passed her. He saw the orange glow on the gold plates of Pello's arm when her blood melted it and left the scales underneath hissing as the concoction started eating away at that as well. It did little to slow down the monstrous tackle and Oleyo stepped slightly to the side, not hoping to stopping the beast. In doing so Pello would hit the fortified glass at an angel, redirecting him slightly rather than attempting to halt.

As sparks flew between the shield and Pello's shoulder, Oleyo was forced to the side by the immense force. He twisted the shield to have the edge drag in one of the cuts already prepared by Lydia's blood. By the time Pello came to a stop, through the wall and onto the floor of the receiving hall, his arm was bleeding well. Oleyo hurried to to get in front of Lydia. Shield raised.

"Maybe the eyes." he said as he squeezed the handle of his defensive weapon. "If I can..." he started. Debris, wooden splinters and some rocks, cut him short as they pelted his shield. Before he could see through the dust he felt an immense blow to his body, lifting it. Pello was faster than most large, power based enemies, it seemed. Bouncing off the ceiling and spinning for the floor, Oleyo saw the monster wave a giant arm right at Lydia. Oleyo managed to grab a dagger and toss it toward the beast, but that weapon had no chance of reaching before that impact would land.

--

D found that the slash before his jump had missed. Ready to take advantage of the effect of the injuries he'd already caused, he launched forward again, but discovered the tardiness of his sword hand which eventually brought his entire body to a stop. Looking back he saw a lion hybrid standing in the grass. Manticore, rather. All the early myths in Amaranth's arsenal, apparently. The wings were impressive, and would prove to be a problem. He knew not to waste time on surprise in a battle, and twisted around quickly to charge the Lioness.

The visual confusion of his disappearing speed was probably nulled since he was connected to her by the whip, but there were of course other advantages to moving fast. He would appear close to her within a fraction of a moment, close enough that he could thrust the caught arm forward. Wings also had their drawbacks. He aimed for her side, and if she'd manage to turn her body out of the way of his skewering sword, her frame would still be compromised by those leathery wings that would likely be the victim of his blade. This unless her whip relented its grip and thus their connection.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2015, 06:56:34 pm »
The blood did its work, as the weapons raked Pello and then started to melt through him. Lydia took the time offered by his focus to cut open her other arm, and then merge the four strands into one. It was a stronger form to have the four-in-one flow.

The other arm, however, didn’t flow quite as quickly. It was back-up, and Lydia didn’t want to pull the blood out so fast. There were already going to be consequences to this fight, considering her hunger. Wasting blood was never a good idea. She only had so much, and she disliked orange juice.

She heard Oleyo speak about the eyes before he was tossed aside by a blow. That turned Pello’s attention. The blood of the left hand flowed to form a shield, and she moved to raise it and duck beneath it, lowering herself to help handle the blow that came down. She’d feed the creature shield and arm before she’d let the rest of her body endure a blow. And it was a strong one, enough to break through the shield and strike Lydia’s arm.

The shield had blunted it, and no doubt, Pello had to be feeling the pain. That blood had fallen upon his arm as it pressed through the shield and coated it. Lydia’s arm took the blow but didn’t break. It fell against her chest and she staggered backwards but didn’t fly like Oleyo.

A dagger flew, and Lydia lifted her right arm with its single sword of blood, but she didn’t get in range. Rather, she flung an edge of it off and towards Pello’s face, hoping some might get in his eyes.

She wasn’t getting the blood from the shield back. That was going to be bothersome when the adrenaline left.


~***~

Marshall was delighted to see that D was now flanked, and had to deal with the whip around his wrist. As soon as the dhampir turned to deal with Valeria, Marshall sprinted forward to apply pressure.

Valeria had the advantage of wings and length of whip. Seeing Marshall move to engage, she didn’t waste time wondering where the dhampir was. The whip told her, and with a pull she knew she still had a grip on the dhampir. With one beat of her wings, she was aloft. The sword grazed her thigh on the way there, allowing blood to drip down to the ground, but once aloft she imagined she was safe.

She tried to tighten the grip of her whip on the sword arm, to pull it up and out of the way so that Marshall had an opening.

Marshall was intending to get close enough and remove the arm of the dhampir with a swipe. He would worry about killing the dhampir afterward.


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #38 on: June 28, 2015, 07:43:38 pm »
Pello had been unnerved enough to notice that there was a burning rising in his arm when he punched through her shield. He staggered back to a pain in the back of his neck. When he touched the hand not burnt by her shield to the area of damage on his neck he was able to pull out a dagger that had managed to stick between two scales. With some anger he turned back to the woman, more eager than ever to eat her instead of the meal they'd interrupted by their presence. Pello didn't yet connect her to her weapon, and think that perhaps ingesting the very thing that was damaging him now wouldn't be a good idea.

He might consider it now, when his eye were painted in that same lethal blood. He howled in pain. Amaranth had seen fit to coat his eyes with a biological film, more genetics he didn't take the time to understand, but that measure could not keep up with the properties of Lydia's concoction.

As the scaled animal twisted, flailing its arms to topple the furniture of the restaurant, Oleyo darted forward as quietly as he could, dodging the storm of wood and cutlery. He cocked back his arm and then punched it forward, lodging it into the back of Pello's knee. With some regret he had to leave the weapon there to pull out a pair of daggers as he retreated a few steps, away from the swinging arm Pello put out as he fell down on his good knee.

Oleyo circled the furious, blind monster as he tossed Lydia one dagger. The target was obvious, now that she had softened the natural defenses of Pello's eyes and face, they should be able to plant one of the blades in his brain though the ocular socket. Pello knew this, and had locked an arm before his wounded eyes to swat with the other, still roaring in pain and fury. "Be ready for the window." Oleyo said as he hurried to the side of the protecting arm, throwing his dagger at that shoulder, that did nothing but clank against the armor. Pello fell for it, and swung the protecting arm toward Oleyo, leaving his face free for Lydia's attack.

--

D missed the attack on the winged lion, save for a nick on her leg, and realized soon she was in the air. The wolf had taken the opportunity to come from behind. To get away D let go of his sword as he jumped. The weapon would fall as he ascended. His free hand, home of his parasite, caught the handle and swung the sword back, hoping to catch the wolf as the wolf rushed into the space where D had been.

D concentrated on the lioness, sending a boot her way, hoping to catch her anywhere on her torso to distract her enough so that he could untangle himself from the whip and fall back to the ground, where he'd probably have to dart back a few paces to orient himself, and keep out of the wolf's range.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #39 on: June 28, 2015, 08:06:30 pm »
Lydia had to cover her own mouth to keep the laughter from bubbling up and escaping, once the blood hit the eyes. She had to be quiet to keep Pello from locating her, and so of course, she stepped away from the place she’d been standing and made a half-circle around Pello as Oleyo rejoined the fight.

She caught the dagger tossed to her, giving it a quizzical look. She rarely carried weapons, though this wasn’t the first time Oleyo had tried to give her one. When you were a weapon, the need to have something less dependable didn’t exist. Still, she supposed she’d lose less blood this way, and so the blood that had made a sword started to pull itself back in. Not all would make it, she knew.

Lydia made her way carefully forward and towards Pello.

The feint was made, and Lydia was near enough then. In the moment Pello lowered his arm, Lydia stepped into his space, not even an inch away, and reached up to thrust the dagger into his left eye.

She’d leave it there if it stuck, intending to get far away once the task was done in case it didn’t have the desired effect.


~***~

Marshall took the blow without slowing. The slash cut him open and cut deep, but Marshall was now driven by the need to end this and end this quickly. Valeria was involved, and he had an advantage that he felt he needed to press. The blood of the wolf painted the ground behind him as he followed the arch of the dhampir’s jump and was where he landed only a moment later.

One clawed hand pushed forward to target the dhampir’s heart, to put claws through it while he had a moment. The other hand was prepared to move to engage the sword again, since it seemed the dhampir was ambidextrous.

Valeria had underestimated the dhampir. A boot brought a peal of laughter, and she meant to swipe it away with her hand, but she was a bit too slow. Though it was just a boot, it had been launched with quite a bit of speed, and she took it to the gut.
“Oof,” came the air from inside her, and she doubled over in the air, focus on the whip momentarily lost. 

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2015, 10:08:52 pm »
Her glee had alleviated some of Oleyo's stress. She liked combat. So did he, but not in the same way. He liked to feel useful, liked doing something he knew he was good at. His stomach tensed when he saw her come closer to the beast. But Pello was blind, and distracted. She had very little trouble inserting the weapon into his face. Oleyo realized he'd drawn another blade, longer, from his belt when he squeezed it as Pello roared from the pain, the sound loud but empty. A reflex.

When the body fell back it pressed the shield in the back of its leg deeper. Pello swayed a few times, arms hanging, before he toppled with a hard crash through some not yet destroyed chairs. Oleyo hurried over to lift the leg in a favorable angel so he could pull the shield out and place it back on his shoulder. Now the clear plate would be stained with dragon blood. The blade he'd already placed back in its sheath. He looked at Lydia and then nodded for the door.

"I think it's time for a graceful exit." Too bad he'd already given his money to the reception. He would let her lead. "Hide. Or the bikes, perhaps?"

This wasn't the first time they'd done a job the loud way, but he preferred to me more practical. Dragons, it seemed, were not subtle.

--

D brought back his leg back quickly after he'd planted the kick in her stomach. He was grateful to have some slack to work with on the whip. The dhampir landed, unable to celebrate from having cut the wolf, and immediately had to bend his legs to duck underneath the wolf's first set of claws, to then jump into the air again, both hands gripping the handle of his long weapon as he drew the blade from the ground and up, partially to keep it from the grip of the wolf's second helping of claws while simultaneously cutting him, but also to extend that slash all the way up and over to the flying lioness. It would be a long, cutting arch, ambitious, since it targeted both enemies.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2015, 10:28:26 pm »
Graceful was not a term that Lydia would use in that instance, as her blood mingled with the blood of the dragon. She’d drawn back what she could, but it was never enough. Paired with hunger, it was going to be a fast decline when the high of adrenaline wore off.

Already she felt a shake in her leg as she finally stopped stepping back from the creature. Her eyes moved to Oleyo, squinted as if it would help her make sense of what was said. The bikes weren’t what she wanted. She had wanted a place to lay low till night. That was their purpose for being here. She strung the logic together and said,
“Hide,” as her answer. 

She stepped over the debris of wooden things to Oleyo, but did not offer an arm. Not yet, not while it was still on her flesh. The marks on her were dimmer, now, and less thick. No area was deprived of them, but all areas were affected. Thin, nearly translucent lines were running over her features now.


~***~

Marshall missed the first strike, and intended to go for another, but the dhampir was still as quick as ever. Marshall was showing signs of slowing, his body focusing its attention not on speed but on healing. As such, he took another cut when he tried to twist his body out of the way of the dhampir’s cut.

A yowl of pain escaped as it cut near the bone of his shoulder, and he retreated a step. A hand moved to cover it, before he shook his head and tried again to focus on the problem at hand.

More of Valeria’s blood joined to bother his senses, and he saw Valeria falter in the air. She didn’t fall, but it had cut into her breast when she tried to fly to avoid. It traced its way up to her cheek, and she had an eye. It wasn’t wounded, but she must have feared it would be.

Seeing a second injured brought sense back to Marshall. Amaranth had created them as a group for a reason—for Nobles, and things like this one. They weren’t truly meant to work alone, even if Marshall and Pello got that into their heads at time in their desire to prove themselves.

He would hate himself for it, but he shouted,
“Retreat!” For Valeria, and then turned tail to run, as well.

They’d do better when they were all together—a pack. Valeria took the order quite well. She was a creature of packs, too, the lion's pride. She had no designs on being alpha.


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2015, 07:08:19 am »
At first the crowd had been afraid of Pello and his heedless moods. And then they had hidden from the fight. Now, when there was no Pello or fight, they fretted over the the fact that the dragon guard of Amaranth was most certainly dead. It was not a debilitating kind of fear. Screams awoke from the audience. Oleyo moved swiftly to meet Lydia, having heard her preference. He had great faith in her blood, it had been instrumental now, but also knew the toll of her weapon. Sometimes he wished she was not so useful, because then she might not have been so vulnerable, either.

He lead them out while the uproar grew inside the restaurant. It wouldn't be hard to loose themselves behind the houses, and it would only become easier the further away they got from the scene. People would be rushing to see what the ruckus was about, and they could avoid the main streets. Eventually they would come to a stop behind a house of residence, between their iron fence and the wall of their neighbors, where they had seen fit to stack barrels. He'd gesture for a box so that Lydia might sit.

He dropped the little pouch of lizard jerky by her side while he peered through the leafwork to see if the houses they were close to had anyone home. While he preferred to pay for himself, he'd borrowed housing on more than one occasion during his career. With a wave he opened the little gate to the garden. For now, this house seemed to be uninhabited.

--

D had felt the resistance in the his blade, and landed, stirring up the earth underneath the grass, with some hope it would be enough. Nonetheless, he had gotten into a stance full of spring to meet the threats again. It was a relief to hear the leading mutant suggest a retreat. D kept his eyes on them to make sure it wasn't a lie. He stood there, a shadow with a shadow, as he watched them move away.

"They sure made you feel welcome, didn't they? I kind of liked the lioness." Left Hand said while D moved toward the side of the building to the left of the alley. The horse was there. It was not bothered by the commotion and didn't stir when it was untied. "You have to wonder what they're like as poker buddies, eh? I mean, you're a stone face for sure, but I thought they made a pretty good team..." Left Hand didn't get to finish, as D faltered, placing a knee on the grass.

He showed teeth behind his scarf as he pulled himself up by the saddle of his mount. He breathed heavily, a relic of a reflex, as he swung his leg up on the horse. Left Hand remained quiet at least for a while, as D rode in whatever shade he could find. Luckily night was drawing close. "I told you we shouldn't have taken the desert road." he eventually muttered as D stayed close to the castle, inactive, while the horse moved for him.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2015, 07:26:01 am »
There was one flaw to Lydia’s existence that she’d be forever bitter over. Though her creator had been Noble, and though he’d given her power over blood, he’d not seen fit to make it easy to restore. She was mostly human in that regard. She had turn food and liquid into blood, and that took time. The further they got, the shakier Lydia’s steps became. The blood on her vanished, the wounds closed, but her body knew there wasn’t as much as she needed within.

Her steps staggered, but she kept up with Oleyo. She’d be useless if she couldn’t.
“Ol….”

But he gestured to a box, an out-of-the-way place, and she took the seat. She brought her knees up to her chest and let her shoulder fall against the nearby wall. The bag of lizards was dropped, and Lydia didn’t even consider sharing as she reached, and ate. She’d take what she could get in that moment, and hope her body worked quickly.

She wouldn’t stand a chance against a Noble like this.

He motioned again as half the bag was depleted, and Lydia pursed her lips, uncertain if following was in her interest, or staying put. If she had been thinking, she might have grasped the orb, but she wasn’t. So, she said,
“Make sure,” since the chaos didn’t seem to be reaching here.

~***~

They had split in their run, but the one with flight was able to find Marshall easily once again. He hadn’t gone far, since he soon realized it was unnecessary.
‘Your only qualm, then….’ He surmised the dhampir was not here for anything else but his job.

The missing people.

Amaranth.

Valeria landed in front of Marshall and reached out a hand to him, placing it upon his shoulder. It was to steady him, though he wasn’t acting like he would fall.
“What was that about?”

“He’s here for Amaranth,” was Marshall’s answer. He shook his head, ridding it of distractions and rage. “Find the others. All of them. Get the harpy to help.” The other one with flight would be useful in locating them all. “Have them come to the castle, say I order it. To our kitchen.” The kitchen had become the strangest sort of meeting room, but Marshall had been using it as such for years.

“Where are you going?” Valeria made sure to sound both offended and worried.

He brushed her hand off,
“To the castle. I’ll alert those on guard not to let anyone in except us.”

When her eyes narrowed, he wrinkled his nose,
“I’m not stupid, I’m not going back after him alone.”

“I won’t forgive you, if you do. I’m not taking orders from Pello.”
She had no idea how soon she’d regret those words. “I’ll go, be safe.”

And with a flap of her leathery wings, she was off. Marshall waited a few seconds, then turned and beat a path back towards the castle. He smelled the dhampir close to the castle, but held true to his word. He made for the door of the castle and not the dhampir, shouting for one of the guards to join him. Only one would he dare to take from the wall while the sun still beat down on its walls. This one guard would act as courier to the rest.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2015, 07:34:11 pm »
Oleyo looked back at her, considering if he should listen to her caution or not. He supposed there was a benefit to her staying here, stable, than meet whatever resistance a house like this would hold. He darted over the garden alone, and looked at the patio door. There were a few things in his belt that could easily unlock this, but he decided against it. A swift kick to the handle swung the door open, and he hurried inside. The dog rushing for the door, barking was regrettable. He stepped aside as it leaped for him, and crushed it’s skull between his armored side and the wall when it was unable to change its direction. He didn’t give it the respect it deserved when he ventured deeper to see if it was protecting anyone. No one home.

On his way out of the beautiful home, worthy of standing this close to the castle blocks, he brushed the body of the guard dog, whispering an apology.

“It is empty.” He said as he sat down beside her, only to wrap his one arm around her waist to insist she stand with his help. They had shared many hardships, been beaten close to death on occasion, all good hunters had, and moments like these always made him miss his second hand, so he could carry her. He didn’t assume she would appreciate being slung over his shoulder right now.

Well in the house, he’d look for food for her. There was a fountain, small, with fresh water. He assumed it was an altar. It didn’t matter, he decided as he filled a pretty ceramic pitcher and brought it and a cup to her. She’d need to replenish the volume of what she’d lost, but it’d still be diluted. He placed his bloody shield close to her, uncomfortable with leaving it, but sure now wasn’t the time to look conspicuous. “I’ll be back with something.” He said and nudged the bag of jerky toward her again before leaving. If she wanted to come, he would strongly disagree.

With the hood on, acquiring food hadn’t been as dramatic as he though. Perhaps he was still reeling from the bout with the dragon to have expected it. He was grateful for the brutes that weren’t truly giants. Most of the time he and Lydia could dispatch of them, since her ability to deal damage and leave them vulnerable, and his own swift attacks usually worked well on enemies that thought they were too large to be hurt.

He returned with a grilled chicken, pulling the hood back as he placed the bag on the table, beside the one that may or may not still contain jerky. He was of course hoping to find her conscious. Eating would be hard otherwise. Borrowed plates and silverware. Staining silver was a minor sin, at this point. “How are we feeling?” he asked with some lightness in his voice as he sat down and pulled a leg off the bird, and placed it on her plate along with some cooked potatoes and tomatoes, also in the bag that had come with the meal. “I think it was worth it, considering. That dragon couldn’t be anymore dead.”

--

Theodor the fox was running. He presented himself as the best informant in the city. It was none of his sources that had come to him today, with the information he was going to offer and hope to get paid for. He had simply been walking by the Archer inn when the commotion started. Already he had been gauging the distance from himself and the entrance he’d usually use when he wanted to relay things to Amaranth herself. At first he had hoped to find something out about the mutants fighting Pello, so there’d be something to offer Amaranth once Pello had slain them. Things did not play out like that.

Now he would be coming with sad news. He was a bit frightened, but his pulse was elevated. This kind of thing spread fast. It would mean a lot to be first. As he turned into the entrance, concealed but not entirely secret, crossed axes stopped his advance, the guards of harder faces than usual. He told them his business and it was enough to put a worried look on them. They did not let him pass. When he stepped back, disappointed, the axes opened for a woman in a maid uniform coming in. He knew her, had used her before.

“Dusty!” he called and reached for her, but retreated when one of the axes were directed his way. She turned.

“I don’t have time!” she said. She never did, always on an errand.

“You will have, for this.” He promised and she straightened to listen. He divulged what he knew, and asked her to mention his name when she carried the news. It was good to give freebies sometimes. Hopefully Amaranth would look favorably on him in the future. This way, he wouldn’t have to be in the room when Amaranth learned one of her mutants had perished.

--

“So,” Left Hand started. “here we are, the vampire hunting duo. The famous Dhampir and his trusty gun-hand. In a stinking sewage pipe. What grand adventures you take me on, D.”

D sat at the bottom of the round outlet. There was grass growing in the mouth of the big pipe. He had found refuge deeper inside. It must have been out of commission for a while, considering the state of its growth. This was as good as it could get. Dark and close to the castle. In an emergency, he could probably find his way inside without braving the daylight. Left hand was not so impressed.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #45 on: June 29, 2015, 08:26:43 pm »
The waiting was always the hardest part. The ‘what if he doesn’t come back’. The ‘what if someone comes by’. Lydia endured it patiently, eyes cast down as she listened for any approach and willed herself not to shake.

It was Oleyo and not a guard who came for her. She smiled and let him assist, leaning against him on the walk back and wrapping one arm around his shoulders.
“One day,” she joked, “I’ll die of bloating.” That would never happen, of course. She would die in this job, of that she had no doubts. Whether it was through dismemberment or blood loss was still to be seen.

She heard the sound of water once they were in. The town was obsessed with fountains. Lydia would have gone towards itself and dunked her head in to drink deep, but Oleyo motioned her to a seat. He returned with a cup of water. Civilized.
“Okay,” she would allow his departure, even without his shield. Yet, when her slim fingers touched it, she wanted to hand it right back to him.

He was the one in more danger, if he was going out roaming.

Still, she remained with it. She drank at least three cups of water before Oleyo returned, and all the lizards were gone. When he returned, she smiled and rose,
“Better, and soon better,” she could smell the food. “I hope you got something for yourself. I saved you no jerky.” The iron of the once-living was necessary.

She pulled the plate towards herself, and went after that meat again. The other things would be eaten in their time, but she knew what her body needed as the sun started to go down outside.
“It’s one less guard we’ll have to deal with,” Lydia agreed. This was likely necessary. “Still plenty that may get in our way. They don’t seem inclined to betray her, do they?” It was a curiosity, though it was born of very little knowledge, and more instinct.

Lydia would have betrayed the noble who created her, if she could have. 


~***~

There would be two that were “first”, in their own ways. The lioness found Pello when she saw the commotion from the sky. She padded her way into the inn, and felt her heart stop.
‘I’m sorry!’ She did not forget her words to Marshall as she ran to the corpse.

She didn’t hate Pello this much.


“WHO DID THIS?!” Was her roar, for it couldn’t have been the dhampir. Stuttered and blubbered words came, but all she cared about were the bits of description. Two people. One with green hair. One with black markings. A pair of hunters, who she now had a personal vendetta against as she struggled with what was left of Pello, to bring him home.

Carrying him without help was demanded of her pride, and so when she returned she had to lay down, and receive bandages. Unlike Marshall, she had no hydra in her.


~***~

When the body of Pello was brought, Marshall had already heard the news from Dusty. Seeing the body made it real, and he directed the body not to be brought anywhere near the laboratory. He had already found Amaranth there, and he’d laid her down more comfortably. He didn’t want the first thing she saw to be a dead child.

It was bad enough the news was going to have to be broken to her.

The harpy had come, as had many others pulled from their posts, and Marshall explained the situation to them. Valeria laid in the room and listened, but didn't contribute much, seething in pain and anger.

There were, it seemed, three powerful hunters in town. A dhampir, a green-haired mutant with a glass shield, and a pale mutant with black markings. All of them had to die, but no one was to engage them alone.


“Amaranth wants a dhampir to die?”
The question came from the harpy, who went against legend. He was not female, after all, but a gorgeous bird of raven hair and rainbow wings. “I don’t believe that.”

“The dhampir wants her to die.”


“That’s not the sound of it. I mean, maybe reading between the lines, considering what he wants—but you started it. Pello probably started his fight—he’s had this coming for a while,”
everyone knew how Pello was. That didn’t stop Aila from hissing at the harpy, “Odds are the Lady will say different about your plans, Marshall. I say we wait for her.”

When Marshall grit his teeth, the harpy knew—Marshall knew that he was right. He didn’t like it at all.

A bell rang before he could say more. Amaranth was awake. Amaranth was calling.


~***~

The Lady Amaranth knew she had not fallen asleep on cushions, but that was the feeling beneath her as the day air turned to night. There was blood in the air, a familiar scent that drew her eyes open in worry.
“Marshall?” Blood and fur. Amaranth saw none of it as she sat up on the fainting couch and looked around. Normally, he would take her to the coffin. To leave her here, meant something was amiss.

She was still in the lab. Her new child was still showing good vitals on all the screens. Nothing appeared changed, nothing moved except herself.

Amaranth rose, seeking an answer in a note, but there was no note to greet her. A touch disoriented with the sensation that something was wrong, Amaranth started to walk out of the lab and into the darkness of the library. All lights had been extinguished.
‘Never mind that.’

Her plan was to change and clean for the day, but when she reached for the library she found it difficult to hold onto that idea. Something was wrong, even if she couldn’t place it. So, she instead went to the wall and pressed the button for a servant.

« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 11:50:40 pm by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #46 on: June 30, 2015, 07:15:27 pm »
There was some unspoken disapproval of him leaving his shield. He hadn’t wanted to, and knew her concern. When her returned and she was still conscious, a little better even, he smiled. “You owe me, then.” He said and thought about how much that bag of dried lizards had given him. It had been a very good purchase. He watched her take a few bites before he tore off a leg for himself and put it to his lips. With a little sigh into the hot, salted skin he rolled the white meat in his mouth before he ground it and swallowed it. He was very hungry as well, it seemed. He produced his smallest dagger to pick up a potato so he could mix the flavors in his next mouthful.

He chewed as he contemplated her question. “Mark of a good leader.” He said when the food was gone from his tongue. He licked the back of his teeth. “Or a mother.” He thought aloud. Surely they must not have been from the barberoi. He would have known if someone had bought or acquired the combination of a wolf and a dragon mutant from the den of mercenaries and assassins. Things pointed to that she either made them herself, or that she had them from an early stage. Mutants weren’t really created for anything but use, and he had a feeling she had made them specifically. He thought of the cat and how she had like his scarf. She had not appeared to be working under threat. Such strong loyalties were dangerous. There would be reprisals for what they’d done at the inn.

“I think we should still go tonight.” He said as he picked up another potato, black eyes fixing on nothing tangible, imagining their previous plan. He was sure she hadn’t changed her mind about it, either. With a deep chomp of the chicken leg he was still holding, he broke off part of the bone, and crushed it between his molar teeth, left cheek, as he continued to lament what might happen when they entered the castle. The guards would be on high alert, but hiding to wait out this threat level wouldn’t be an option. Every moment they’d become more likely to be found. He tried to guess on how many guards would greet them inside as he continued to crunch the bone. He stuffed the potato in before he swallowed the marrowy dough.

He took her cup for water. “How are you feeling?” he asked, returned from his thoughts to look at her. He tipped the vial while still keeping his attention on her, as though she might collapse when he wasn’t looking.

--

“Looks… fortified.” Left Hand commented. D sat on his horse, just outside the pipe as they viewed one of the walls of the castle. “Not too many guards on watch for us to see, fewer than before, which means they’re probably finishing up on the welcome party for us inside. The wolf and the lion are probably not too keen on letting you take them by surprise.”

The chill and the darkness had done the dhampir good. It had been fortunate that he was able to cut off the collaboration between the two mutants before they were able to organize, or else it might have taken longer to recoup. He would be prepared for multiple angels of attack from his enemy this time. This wasn’t the first time an army was against him. Still, he would try to be as quiet as he could, coming in. He thought about the woman with the moving marks. A couple of guards had walked by the pipe, never thinking to check for the owner of the cybernetic horse bound there, small talking about the death of what D had to assume was the dragon mutant he’d sent down into the garden from the skybridge. Green hair and dark marks. The pair in the garden, the woman that had the book.

D wondered about Amaranth. She was ambitious, experimental. People willingly sacrificed part of their blood to her. He could have mistaken her for a descent creature, if she wasn’t a noble. “Do we even know she kills people?” Left Hand asked, solidifying D’s thought.

“They do eventually. She already has. She is a noble.” D answered finally. He would usually voice himself on this subject, despite his usual, silent approach. The hand that held the reign lifted a finger to push up the brim of his hat so he could look further up the wall. “And we hunt noble.”

He found himself climbing one of the towers soon. The black cloak hid him well against the angel between the tower and the wall. It was a trick he'd employed before. He preferred doing it close to heavily guarded walls, because the audacity and assumption no one would try it usually helped him. Well on the walk, he knocked three human guards out before sliding down to the courtyard and in through a window. The castle was in a bit of an upset. He understood why, and briefly felt sorry for Amaranth and her loss as he searched for where her chambers. In here, people were not so vigilante.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2015, 08:46:24 pm »
Lydia had counted once. Fifteen minutes after ingesting quite a bit of iron, and it was as if nothing was wrong. She knew it wasn’t the truth, but the kick of it couldn’t be denied. “I’ll buy you some, once this job is over,” more than he’d given to her. Perhaps snake, for a bit of amusement.

Some of that chipperness died when Oleyo proposed the idea of a noble as mother. The thought alone was scary. Everyone heard the sayings of mother bears. Lydia imagined a noble was no less protective of those she would call hers. She wanted to dismiss it, and shook her head to do so.
“Maybe they think that,” she’d allow.

Oleyo thought they should still go that night, and Lydia knew that she must have hesitated a moment, before her next bite met her mouth. Then, she moved too quickly, and gave a nod. She swallowed quick,
“I’ll be fine, you just know how this is,” she’d prefer more time to recuperate, but she’d not let that stand in the way if the fight happened that night.

She looked down at the marks. They were filling out again, but they were still faded in hue. That was the real way to tell, not by how she was feeling.
“I’ll feel fine and I really won’t be,” she chuckled, but then traced the lines of one of her mark with the end of the fork, “But they’re getting thicker again. I’ll be careful,” a lie, of course.

The happy thought was they might not be alone in this. There was the dhampir, somewhere. They weren’t working together, but they weren’t enemies. She’d like to keep it that way. He might be of use in dealing with the numerous guards.


~***~

Who was to answer? Marshall and Phineus, that harpy, looked at each other and knew the trust was not there to let one go alone. Marshall nodded. He wouldn’t win this one.
“We’ll go tell Amaranth,” Marshall touched the visible electronic that signaled responses to calls, so Amaranth wasn’t flooded with servants. Another bell rang so all would know someone was on the way. “We’ll come back with her, or her words.”

Phineus moved without speaking to exit, but Marshall caught up and took the lead as the two mutants exited.

The library was the popular space today. Amaranth stood there when the two arrived, not changed and still not quite pulled together. The bed hair was evident. The clothing was wrinkled. Her rest must not have been peaceful. Still, she held the noble radiance and beauty, and her mind was sharp. He could see it in her eyes as those golden orbs looked between her two guards.


“Amaranth, you may want to sit,”
the harpy suggested. Despite inspiration, Marshall thought he was usually more of a siren.

Amaranth shook her head. She stepped away from the wall and approached both.
“Tell me what has happened.” Back straight, head up. Marshall wondered how long she’d hold the posture.

Phineus looked to Marshall, and Marshall sighed out. He dropped his gaze.
“Pello is dead.”

A fist clenched. A glass vase behind Amaranth cracked, but didn’t shatter.
“Two mutants, one—”

“—with green hair, and one with marks.”

Marshall swallowed and nodded.


“Where? How do you know this?”
The lance of accusation caused Marshall to flinch.

Phineus stood up for him,
“Marshall was dealing with the dhampir, he couldn’t have helped Pello.” The golden eyes shifted over to him, and he held that gaze, shocked more by the fact he was unfamiliar with the look than anything else. He continued on, answering the questions, “Theodor told Dusty, and Valeria found Pello. He died in the Archer Inn. There are likely witnesses among the staff of the Archer, and Theodor can be questioned.”

The sense of his words calmed the anger, or perhaps, suppressed it. Phineus saw a fire go out within her, and then the fist relaxed,
“Yes. You’re…,” a breath. “It seems tonight will have to be spent investigating this matter.” The dragon hunt would have to wait, but perhaps there was enough left of Pello to let him live on in some way. She had planned already to wait until nearly morning to get to work. “Tell me of the dhampir, then. Why did you two fight?”

“He’s a hunter, Amaranth, I’m certain. He knows people have gone missing. He’s here for them.”
Marshall managed to speak.

She could read between the lines easily enough,
“You struck first?” Another wound for the night. Marshall wasn’t supposed to be rash. “Do you and Pello both have death wishes!” It wasn’t a question as her voice rose and her arms dropped back to her side.

Marshall shook his head rapidly, but it wasn’t denial to her first statement, just the second.
“I’ve told you. I did not think I’d have to tell you more than once,” disappointment shook her voice, with her growing sorrow, her growing fears. Were Marshall not the bad child, he might have reached to hug her, but he knew it would not be appreciated as she stood in all her pain. “None of you are to start fights. There is only one reason for that!” Leaving. And usually, when the person had already left and gotten out of public sight. “How is Pello being kept?” She redirected.

“On ice,” Phineus spoke up.

Amaranth nodded,
“Take him to the laboratory, put him in the preserving gel,” she ought to have a tube large enough for Pello. It didn't take a genius to use, either. “Our hunt for dragons is going to be delayed. Marshall, see to the staff, arrange a meeting with Theodor and the staff of the Archer Inn. I will meet them there within an hour or two to get this sorted. If you can find the mutants who harmed Pello, do so. I’d hear their side, as well.”

It killed her to say it, but there was no other way.
“Now. Both of you, go.”

Out they went, without a word of farewell. Amaranth heard an,
“I told you so,” when Phineus was outside the door, and it almost made her smile.

‘Get ready.’ She instructed herself to turn from the door to leave through another. Clothing, a hairbrush, a cup of blood and to face the world. These were the steps but she faltered before ever leaving the library as she saw a bit of Pello’s blood still on the couch.

Never again would she stitch his wounds, or hear his grudging agreements. She walked around the couch and knelt besides it. A finger reached out, only to turn into a hand that clenched the cushion near the blood. Her eyes shut tightly and her throat clenched itself against sound as she buried her eyes against the fabric and tried not to scream. Her fangs extended in the agony of stress and the want of revenge, not knowing what else to do as she sat on the floor and shook with silent cries.

« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 11:50:14 pm by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2015, 06:21:35 pm »
He was relieved she also shared his concern about this strange family of adversaries they would be facing. Many of the things they hunted were ancient, but this time they were well organized. They'd come upon villages, but never a city this big, so well kept, belonging to noble. Thinking she was the mother was enough. He was sure that was Lydia's point. The werewolves were known for loyalty. An entire group of mutants defending their family rather than doing a job they were paid for, or fed for, promised more of a challenge then your run of the mill mercenaries.

There was hesisation in his eyes when he looked at her, waiting for her answer. They were only as good as each other. They had to weigh the opportunity with their resources. He would have backed down then, if she hadn't agreed. He thought he might still, but it was useless to go into a dangerous situation without conviction. He nodded to accept, and to sympathise. "You just tell me if anything changes for the worse." It wouldn't usually. It wasn't as though it'd go in cycles, worse and better, she would get stronger and stronger, rather. Question was, of course, if the rise in strength would be steep enough.

Oleyo followed her eyes to the marks and put his knife down to follow the trail of the fork with his touch. So much power underneath her changing complexion. He looked at her face and licked his lips of the salt fromt he chicken. "We'll both be careful." he agreed and let his hand wrap around her forearm gently, without upsetting the mark.

They had done well, concidering, against Pello. Two against one. Favorable. How would it play out when they were outnumbered, odds turned against them in the same way they had been turned against Pello, at least? Oleyo also thought of the dhampir then, hoping.

"It would have to be silent." he said, thumb circling an area on her skin as he thought. There was no other way. They couldn't fight an army of people, let alone one of mutants bred for the purpose of protecting the castle. Hope was to go in and retrieve the people they wanted, or mementos of them. Payment had also been for revenge, as always. Would they stand a chance, even if they got this Amaranth alone? He put some pressure on one of her marks, sometimes they'd react to touch. Oleyo and Lydia had ways of doing away with nobles. He knew that this one would be different.

Their first hunt for a noble had felt so much more desperate than this. Oleyo’s body hadn’t found a stasis between itself and the parasite then. The noble had been alone but powerful. All for a little boy that had died on his way home to his uncle, who hadn’t had enough money for experienced hunters. “Do you remember Alemar?” he asked. Their first real job. He smiled distantly as he saw the silhouette of the vampire in her filling but not yet deep mark. “I think, if we could do that then, then we could do this, now.”

--

D could move almost freely in the castle. They were still preparing to look for the hunters, and hadn't closed everything down yet. When they did, he'd already be here, inside. He knew he had to stay away from the wolf, named Marshall from whispers by the servants, and his nose. Left Hand had been so kind as to provide information about the conversation, a few halls away, when D pressed him against the wall.

"This seems morally ambigious." Left Hand commented once he was pulled off the wall. D tasted the silence for a bit, and rolled the thought around.

"Not for the people that are missing." he said, settling on his old train of thought. Left Hand made a grimace but stayed quiet to let the mutants pass the door of their room.

"You think so too, or you would have stormed in, sword raised." Left hand said eventually. D turned the palm up to look at his talkative parasite.

"It is more important to try and find the people missing."

They waited by the door as D listened for steps. Eventually he could hear those of a servant, female. She worked close with Amaranth, he’d heard her voice before here. It was a simple matter to open the door, reach out, and pull her inside by her arm. D would hold her mouth, her back against the wall of this guestroom, as he would wait out her panic. Then he would look her in the eye.

“Your mistress keeps prisoners.” He said, voice calm as he’d debate whether to free her lips yet, his palm oppressive there, but not tyrannical. “Where are they?” he tried to keep her as spellbound as his physicality could afford him. He’d rather  not subdue her completely. She was human, and didn’t really belong in this world of monsters.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #49 on: July 01, 2015, 10:16:56 pm »
Oleyo still understood the necessity of silence. Despite their loud entrance, they’d have to find some way close to Amaranth without making another scene. Her guards were well-trained and protective.

Lydia had to hope the Noble wasn’t so strong, but that usually wasn’t the case. She’d heard no rumors of Amaranth’s strength, though. It wasn’t like the Mayerling clan, all known for their wicked claws. Amaranth, when she was known, was just known for the town that thrived around them.

Underneath Oleyo’s finger, the black adjusted to move around it and encircle it. Lydia smiled a little at the reaction. Always a good sign. The empty plate was pushed aside.

Alemar also hadn’t had much of a reputation, though they hadn’t researched. They’d been excited and anxious to start, and so the proper preparations hadn’t really been done. Lydia was high strung. She thought she knew all that was necessary to kill a Noble.
“I remember. We found him at dusk,” which hadn’t been good for them. They had thought they’d gotten there earlier, but they’d spent an hour or two wondering about his castle, looking for him. “I’m still amazed we got out of that, victorious.” Not just alive, but successful.

She looked around,
“We shouldn’t be waiting here. The owners are bound to come home,” she had eaten, so there was no reason to stay and sit here any longer. Not in her mind, anyway.

~***~

It was a few minutes before Amaranth composed herself enough to claw her way up from the couch, and walk unsteadily towards her chambers. Her vision liked to blur with blood all the way, and she had to keep wiping at it. She couldn’t cry tears, of course, because that would be problematic. Vampires didn’t fare well with running water.

When she made it to her room, all she had to do was touch a cupid’s arrow, and it became a fountain. No water mingled in it, but blood collected from other fountains came into a goblet for her. She didn’t retrieve it immediately, but forced herself to dress nicely for the day. Black was the color of mourning, and had remained so through the years.

Black was the dress that covered her, and little in the way of adornments. The dress itself had a golden trim to it. She pinned her hair up with black sticks, and then drank deep of the blood that was provided to her. She hadn’t asked Marshall where everyone was, but she knew where they all would be.

Habits kept it as the kitchen, a room that was unnecessary for Amaranth herself, but required for the rest of her staff, and sometimes guests.

Phineus was there, but Marshall was not. Aila came to her immediately and wrapped her long arms around the woman,
“I’m sorry,” Aila was still blubbering. “I shouldn’ta sent’em off, I shoulda, shoulda gone with’em.”

Amaranth wrapped one arm around the cat, and the other she moved through the guard’s short hair.
“It is all right, Aila,” she spoke softly, strongly, “It is not your fault.” She looked over Aila’s head to Phineus.

“Marshall’s gone into town. We should go to the Archer Inn, and then to the Church.”

“Yes,” Amaranth agreed. She looked to the others then, and Aila pulled away only enough to look up at her face. “You may all resume your posts, or your rest. Do look for those who attacked Pello, but do them no harm, yet.”

There was little approval for her words, but she knew she wouldn’t see that. She disliked them herself.
“Also do no harm to the dhampir. I need to speak to him as well, since my only witness to the start of that confrontation is Marshall.”

“They’re hunters,”
Valeria was the one to protest.

“Yes,” Amaranth sighed, “Likely so. They must still be given the benefit of the doubt.” Valeria was wounded still. Amaranth put a hand on Aila’s shoulder and moved the cat away to approach the lion.

She assessed the wounds not life-threatening, but said,
“Stay off duty tonight. Rest. I’ll tend to you in a bit.”

Valeria wasn’t going to argue that at all. She wanted to rest.

With that, Amaranth turned to her own guard, and gave directions to Aila as to how to act as courier to some on the castle walls. They didn’t need to guard it so well when Amaranth was out, so some needed to be moved into the town since Pello and Valeria would be out of commission for the night.


~***~

It was the end of Dusty’s shift. She just wanted to go home when someone grabbed her, and pulled her aside. She struggled, of course, but whoever it was seemed to be as strong as any of Amaranth’s mutants.

Dusty tried to scream through the hand that held her, but it didn’t seem to be making much of a difference. She felt tears start to well up in her eyes as the struggles died down. A statement came, and it wasn’t a statement she expected. She blinked, the tears falling, but none following to build in her eyes. Prisoners? Of course there were prisoners. This was a civilized town. It was usually just drunks who needed to sleep for a few days.

Her mouth wasn’t released, so she couldn’t answer with words. She could lift her hand, and she could point, though it wouldn’t be of much service. She pointed to the left, and made a gesture with her finger ‘down’. Dungeons were always somewhere ‘down’.

Dusty knew of no other prisoners.

« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 11:51:08 pm by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #50 on: July 02, 2015, 06:26:33 pm »
Oleyo laughed lightly. It was almost painful to remember how green they had been back then, and still gotten the better of their enemy. He supposed you needed a bit of luck to go with your talent in the beginning. The night had looked deceptively thick when they’d first entered through the walls of his hideout. All they had were their weapons and the courage inexperience comes with. He remembered thinking how dangerous it could be, really, if so many had been killed before. The struggle with noble was that. With their speed and efficiency in combat, it usually came down to whether you had it in you to slay them on or not. You couldn’t muster the effort if you didn’t have the skill needed to begin with. Not like fighting a man, when you could hope to win even if you weren’t fit to defeat him, just by wanting it more.

“A fateful dusk.” He agreed. “We won because we work well together, wet behind the ears or not.” He replied with a grin. At her suggestion they leave he nodded and stood, finishing off the rest of his chicken bone. He found a towel to wipe his hands. Usually he’d just use the cloth on the table, but decided he’d been rude enough to these people. “Perhaps we should go get the bikes.” He said as they were going out the door, both bags in his hand. He discarded them by the boxes they had sat by, outside the fence. He looked back over his shoulder to see the dog sleeping, still, unbreathing, underneath the fruit tree. “I think we’ll have to leave the castle in a hurry, however this goes.” He thought for her to hear as he shrugged his shoulder, again hugged by his shield, now washed and pristine in the fountain of the house.

--

Her expression did not suggest that she felt any relief or shame at the business of her mistress. The servant girl simply pointed. This one didn’t know, then. He loosened the pressure on her mouth, until he slid all fingers but two from her lips, to test if she’d stay quiet. “There’ll be danger in this castle. Perhaps you should find yourself elsewhere.” He said and would let her speak and breathe if she gave him enough confidence in her quiet to do so.

She was definitely motioning for the dungeons. He’d not made his way there yet. In his mind it would be too public of a place to keep proof of what was going on in this city. He supposed it could be possible, if the cages were guarded from the eyes of others, or if Amaranth really did have her subjects under such well-woven veil. D let his fingers swiftly move from her mouth and past her jaw to the crook of her neck where he left a bruise, small, by tapping once, firmly, at the running nerve. He’d catch her when she fell, of course. This room had a bed. She would wake up in it.

It had been a little troublesome to get into these chambers. The security had not increased from what he assumed, but it was well guarded to begin with. Black cloak helped. As he suspected, a pair of the more likely to be incarcerated prodigal sons of those who had paid him were here, and smelt of a prolonged stay at this place. These were probably thrown in for actual illicit activities, and not for attempting to leave. One of them, pretty if cleaned, reached out a soft hand as D passed. D reached beyond that plea for help and place a twi-colored vial on the inside of the lock. The wire inside would upset the volatile chemicals and cause an explosion big enough to undo the lock when the wire in turn received a signal. The man stepped back, nodding.

D found two more in the same position, and rigged their cages in the same manner. This wasn’t much of a clue as to where the others might be. As he turned to leave, already deep in the underground, a voice asked him not to. The dhampir moved closer to the bars, and an old woman waved from where she sat on a splintered wooden bench. She wanted to speak. He extended his hand, a pouch of nuts. He hurried over to examine the bribe, and quickly hid it in the folds of her rags.

“She builds them. Human like clay, to her.” She said and pointed her finger to rise from the left and settle to the right. “Saw it as a filly. Long time. Had to leave, couldn’t leave.” She reminisced. D left an exploding vial on the back of her lock as well.

“You’re a big softie.” Left Hand mumbled as they made their way up the stairs again. “Builds them, huh? We need to find a lab, then. Any idea where to look?” he asked. D did not answer. “of course you do. You’re Lab Hunter D. You could find a tucked away lab in your sleep.” Another flight of stairs in silence. “Do you sleep? A lot of people want to know, not just me.”

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #51 on: July 02, 2015, 07:15:28 pm »
Lydia rose as Oleyo agreed and she stretched herself up, toes rising, fingers flexing. The marks pulsed with the action, stretching themselves thin, too. There was much to recover, but much had been recovered at the same time. “The bikes?” At first her only thought was of the chaos those fast vehicles would bring, not the escape. They’d already been too loud in their approach.

He was right on the matter of escape,
“Mm. But let’s leave them before the entrance. I don’t think bringing them in is good,” though she doubted this Noble’s technology, she’d heard of Nobles who could program the mounts of others. It had been used to direct guests appropriately, once. A vindictive Noble could crash and burn a bike, though.

“We didn’t leave our bikes in the same place,”
she noted, since she had not parked hers near his. “Where is your bike at?” She inquired as she reached for his arm to leave the home with him. They could go to the nearest bike first.


Another set of wheels, four, sounded from outside the home. A black carriage moved by.


~***~

Marshall was not at the inn when Phineus and Amaranth arrived there.
“Did Marshall say where he was going?” Amaranth asked one of the staff as she was seated, the rainbow-feathered at her side. He took a stool rather than a booth, wings the bane of all sitting with chairs.

“He said he was going to bring Amala here, if he could,”
the staff answered, and Amaranth nodded, understanding. Hopefully, Dusty had been by there now and hired someone on to fix the fountain job. “Do you need anything, Lady?”

Amaranth shook her head. She had drunk before arriving, and though it was always available, she did not like to partake of blood around others. She knew it reminded people of the darker aspects to her life, and she’d rather they not be reminded consistently.
“No, thank you,” she crossed one leg over the other, “I am only here to find out why Pello is dead, and I want to speak to all who saw it.”

The man nodded. He hadn’t seen it, he was night shift and not evening shift.
“Theodor shouldn’t be long,” nor should the other staff who Marshall had a courier go fetch.

~***~

Marshall had gone first to the inn, and from there he walked on to the church. He doubted that Amala would be awake, but she was the name on everyone’s lips about this situation so he would have to try to get her to wake up and come along. He wouldn’t force her. He didn’t think he’d have to, once he mentioned Amaranth.

Within the sanctuary itself, his steps were soft but still disturbing. A different sister approached him with a severe look on her face.
“What do you want?” She hissed at him, the authority of piety behind her words.

Marshall answered softly,
“Amaranth wishes to speak to Sister Amala about today’s earlier events,” he glanced towards the candles and the statue before his gaze returned to the severe nun. “She will be at the Archer Inn. I am here as an escort. That is all.” Open hands at his side. He never meant any harm, never had any reason.

The nun glared, but then, turned on heel without a response. She would go see about Amala.


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #52 on: July 03, 2015, 05:05:21 pm »
Oleyo nodded and took her arm. Ideal for swiftness would be to have the bikes as close as possible, but leaving such vehicles close would surely draw eyes. A pair of hunters inside, a pair of bikes parked by the wall. Not a complicated equation. His arm hooked hers closer to him when they went outside. Darkness. "I left mine by horses not far from the city gates." the wrong word, since there were no gates, really. He felt some comfort trickle into him at the thought of sitting on that machine again.

He exhaled with some relief when he saw the motorbike. A large thing. The glass was yellow, courtesy of the lamplight meant to keep the horses company. As he came closer, a surge of electrical veins spread over his shield, their likeness echoed over the glass plates of the bike before its latches opened and the doors lifted outward and forward, like a dragonfly, frozen. He turned to her and smiled. It was a beast of a machine, and took a bit of learning for its size, not to mention its one hand controls. Of course it had a seat for her behind his. Inserting his shield, a pulse of blue repeatedly struck the surface, awakening all the wires and greeting all the needed electricity. The bike had been drinking in the sun all day. It should be ready for a long ride.

“After you.” He said. He’d leave it up to her whether she wanted to be encased, have a windshield, or simply have her head over the otherwise protected machine. Those controls were at her disposal, on her right hand side. After she’d gotten on, or even if she wanted to drive, they’d go get her bike, as per her directions.

--

Theodor was rubbing his knuckles nervously. People contacted him easily. That was how he made his money. Two way street of information. This time he had received. Amaranth had wanted to see him. She was upset, no doubt. Not a vengeful creature, from what he’d learned or known, but he hadn’t delivered news of Pello’s death to her before. He suppose there was always the image of an overbearing, sensitive ruler in his mind. This noble had been good to the city. Theodor didn’t sacrifice often, so he usually just reaped the benefits of living in a closed area, protected, and gossiping for gold. But all benefactors had their own agendas. And egos. Perhaps today was the day Amaranth proved to be cruel, underneath.

He stuck his head of ruffled, red hair in to notice her sitting in the restaurant. Most of the damage had been mended already. This was an inn in the very highest definition of the concept. Some debris still in the corner, as though they wanted a reminded, perhaps to prove to the lady that what had happened had indeed taken place here, and underline their innocence on merit of their candor. Theodor straightened his back as much as he could as he neared her. He was summoned by one of her formidable trusted, and had no choice but to abandon his favorite lovesport with his favorite practitioner, William. William would welcome you again if you had coins. Amaranth did not deal in such currency or patience.

“Good evening, lady Amaranth.” He said as he bowed his head to the sitting ruled of their city. “I am sorry for your loss.” He looked nervously at Phineus before setting his brown eyes back on the vampire. “I understand you would like to know more about what happened to Pello.” He said. “I know very little other than what I saw, Lady. I came in when I heard the upset, and saw two fighting, a male with green hair, long, and a woman with marks on her skin. They…” Again he looked at Phineus, afraid her might strike him down for reminding Amaranth of what must grief her. “found some cowardly way to overwhelm Pello.” The Fox would have said it was a sound strategy, but wouldn’t miss a chance to suck up. “And he fought valiantly but in the end didn’t overcome their advantage. The rest of my information are from sources, not my own eyes.”

--

Amala had been sitting in their fine chambers, doting on her hair, tending to its curls when sister Ritha came with words in her eyes. “Yes?” Amala asked as she put down the vial. It’s cork, porcelain as well, was long and pointed. All of their trinkets, the brushes, the combs, the hand-held mirrors, had a design to them that could puncture. You should never find yourself without means to sacrifice. Her vial had dark smudges on its tip. Amala would not have her position if she did not sometimes fall down because of what she gave up to the fountains.

“Marshall wants you, sister. Says it’s about today’s events, about Pello.” Ritha informed. Amala nodded and stood carefully. “Do you need my help to get to the gardens?” she asked. Amala looked Ritha over with some offense and the other woman lowered her head.

“Shouldn’t you tend to the sisters with child? Or check on your own? The monks are having a little festival in the playrooms. Go watch the children run around.” Amala said as she waved Ritha off, making her way to the gardens by herself, the bandage fresh on her forearm. By the time she’d reached the wolf, her sleeve was buttoned up.

“Marshall.” She greeted and then lifted her hand to point four fingers at the opening, from which she’d assumed he came from. “Lead, please.”

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #53 on: July 04, 2015, 02:21:35 am »
Lydia was attached to her own bike, without the windshield or other clutter. She wouldn’t drive Oleyo’s bike, for it didn’t feel proper. Not just because it was his, but the mechanics of the bike felt foreign. She knew it, she had driven it before, but it was not quite the same.

She had to adjust about once a century to a new style. She always tried to keep it sleek and uncluttered. Less to break. She would sit on the bike so there was room for Oleyo to sit in front and steer, and she’d offer directions to locating her own bike.

It turned out, her own glass vehicle was not far from Oleyo’s. A few more turns and she would have parked her bike right besides his. So, they were there in a minute, and Lydia jumped off from behind his bike before he brought it to a full stop. The landing was a bit rough, but she didn’t let the shock of pain disturb her walk as she approached her bike and mounted it, brushing her duster over and behind her. She wouldn’t sit on it. She liked the way it flowed out behind her.


“Lead on,”
she told Oleyo as life sparked into her bike, illuminating it from the inside, out. At night, it looked blue from those inner lights.

~***~

The black carriage would reach the castle before Lydia and Oleyo. It did not go through the archway, but stopped and pulled off the path. Out from the black carriage stepped a man in a blood red cape and a black suit, tailcoats and gloved. He brushed a hand back through his silver hair and stepped away from the auto-directed vehicle, away from the programmed horses, and walked back onto the path on his own.


‘So, this is your Utopia.’


Every Utopia was a Dystopia, some more than others. Lord Byron Ruthven knew this better than most as his heeled boots clicked on the walkway.


“Stop!”


He wasn’t going to hide himself now that he was in. Amaranth didn’t stop any from entering. He had thought that was a pleasant lie when he heard the rumors, but found there appeared to be no exceptions.

Down from the wall jumped an imperfect creature to demand,
“Who are you and what do you want?”

“I am here to see my child, and you won’t hinder me. Where is your Lady?”
He did not hide his disgust with the term.

He had sent a letter ahead, a week ago. He had heard nothing, but then, he didn’t expect to. He was demanding Amaranth’s land for his own. He was ready to return to the spotlight after being forced from his own home, all those centuries ago. He’d gone to sleep for a while, but woken, invigorated.

What was Amaranth’s was his.


~***~

Amaranth was ignorant of the chaos at her castle. Theodor had arrived, and spoke pretty words. Amaranth wouldn’t have lived this long if she couldn’t tell when a line was being fed to her. They weren’t lies, exactly, but they were exaggerated truths.

Phineus was less than impressed, listening to tone more than words. He knew better than to speak. Amaranth could speak for herself, and she would, when the man was done flattering her.


“I appreciate your report,”
Amaranth did, of course. That was no lie. “And your sentiments,” her smile was weak. She’d likely be hearing those sentiments for days to come, until she was ill, and even after that. “I was hoping that you had seen the start, but it appears you did not. I wanted to know what started this fight.”

As much as she wanted to believe and hope that Pello hadn’t started it, she knew her green-eyed child. She never should have given him green eyes. They were known for their envy and tempers.
“Please, Theodor, tell me the hearsay you have heard and do not spare me any details,” she was ever-calm. The day her temper broke would be a freezing day in Euboea. “If you know the names of those who are behind the hearsay, I would also care to know them. This is a tragedy, but I would like to avoid causing more tragedy tonight.”

For no matter what, she would get to the bottom of this before dawn.


~***~

Marshall waited, outwardly patient but inwardly pacing. He did not like to wait, and to keep someone waiting. He did not know how long it would take, if Amala had gone to bed, and he did not want to stand there for an hour.

He did not have to, fortunately. The beautiful sister soon came out to him, and motioned outwards. He gave an inclination of his head to her direction, and began to lead. He gave the direction,
“Amaranth should be at the Archer Inn by now,” and if not, she would be there soon. There she’d be told where he went, and there she would wait for him.

Hopefully, though, he was not keeping her waiting. There was much information for her to discover.

So, Marshall filled in the gaps, in case word had not yet reached Amala,
“Pello was killed at the inn today by that green-haired mutant, and another with markings across her skin,” he said. He didn’t look back for a reaction, but he listened to see if there would be any noise of surprise or shock. “She is trying to understand why Pello is dead.” He didn’t know if Amala would be of much service there, but she had seen Pello before death, and knew the destruction he’d caused. Her report was as useful as any other in understanding what transpired while the sun was up.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #54 on: July 05, 2015, 03:00:59 pm »
He liked having her with him when he drove. It was as much of a home as he'd ever had, a constant that he decided over. On occasion he had to drive whoever he was retrieving, but mostly only Lydia was allowed. The controls were off, with his limited limbs to steer, but he found symmetrical bikes, which was basically every other bike, felt wrong whenever he had to ride them. Habits. It proved to be a short distance before he stopped again.

He nodded at her, where she sat on her own machine, before the plates again armored him, and he drew up his leg. The bike darted forward, quiet with its electrical system on. It wasn't entirely silent, since he didn't want to raise suspicion on their way there. The streets were pleasant to travel, especially at lower speeds. He imagined he could feel some unrest in the people because of today's event, but it might as well not have been so.

"We should see the open road after this." he suggested over the com just before he came to a stop by a parking area about half a block away from the wall of the castle. He left his bike. Its wings retracted to encase the seat. Borrowing parking even though he did not intend to use the establishment it belonged to would be a smaller sin, considering. "Now," he said, looking up as they walked. "There has to be an unguarded way of getting into this castle. You'd think with all the water leading here, the sewage system would be ideal."

--

Theodor was not a formidable man. The very things he dealt with made him less so. Like himself, those that shared information with him did not like those cut from better cloth, be it morally of physically. It was harder to do his job when he appeared too savory, actually. But now, in front of the lady, he felt as though he could perform well, like an athlete left to his sport, or even a warrior with favorite weapon in hand. Most of the news he would share hadn't been his to begin with. When he delivered the news of hours ago through Dusty, he was aiming for speed rather than accuracy of details.

Now he had those details, having scoured his sources. "There was two mutants, My dear lady, as you know." he started as he held up two fingers, and quickly took them back, suddenly unwilling to leave too many extremities out with Phineus present. "And I don't think they expected to run into Pello. They'd paid for a room, you see, just before they went into the restaurant." He held out a coin, one he'd traded for its value plus a few coppers at the front desk. He placed the coin on the table for her. Hopefully the information would be worth at least that to her. "Perhaps you can trace the stamp. After that, from a distance, Pello seemed to have noticed them as he enjoyed his meal of pig." That's what the waiter had said. Not pork or chops. Pig. Theodor did not doubt that the dragon could have put away such quantities of meat. "He recognized them and charged through the restaurant to get to them." He lowered his head for respect. "And the rest I saw for myself and have already told you."

--

"I see." Amala offered, following the large werewolf. She didn't leave a lot in her voice. The death of someone was tragic, but Pello had ruined part of the garden, it was now sick with water, and his life had proven to be more in the way of her offerings than his death. "We will have one less protector. I would ask you to find someone as qualified as Pello to replace his watch." she said. In a way it was flattery for the dead. His presence did deter too much unrest, and she couldn't very well name all the positive things to his passing to one of his comrades.

She thought of the green hair, and realized she had a name to go with it. Perhaps the lady would like that. She also remembered the name of the marked mutant. There was a story she could guess on there, as well. "Do you offer, Marshall?" she asked. It could be worth something to share the information with the wolf, but she had no doubt things would be resolved anyway. She'd rather push her own agenda. It wasn't a good thing for the guards to be weakened, but she had a hard time imagining a life without regular sacrifice, and someone so close to the Lady should feel an inclination toward it.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #55 on: July 08, 2015, 06:39:56 pm »
Lydia trailed behind Oleyo, the blue giving a beautiful glow to her bike. The city was quiet at night, something Lydia had not expected. For some reason, she expected it to be more alive than this. Perhaps she was deluding herself, though. Or perhaps the people were deluding themselves about the Lady.

Her castle shone at night, too. It was lit up, and the fireflies were back to moving around it, and no doubt, within its garden. The duo didn’t dare to go up the walkway, but took their bikes off the road.
“Perhaps,” Lydia said as Oleyo mentioned a sewer. She hadn’t even considered that, for she didn’t think the pipes would be large enough, but it was worth a look.

The clear orb was again retrieved from her pocket, and rolled in her hand.
“Mm,” there was a distraction at the gate. Her orb glinted off a noble carriage.

It then caught the reins of a horse, and Lydia laughed at the sight,
“It seems someone else had your idea,” for the horse was waiting right by a pipe. The orb twirled and she got a general idea of where the pipe was located. “This way,” she stowed the orb and started to walk in the direction the orb had shown her, to a pipe that ought to be large enough.

~***~

In truth, this guard didn’t know exactly where Lady Amaranth was, but the tone of the Noble was grating enough that he wouldn’t have told, anyway. The parent of Amaranth? Unheard of. Amaranth had never named them, not to this guard, anyway. He had been under the impression they were a pair of nobles long dead.


“Lady Amaranth isn’t taking visitors this night. Come around tomorrow.”
The guard suggested.

“Why is that?”

“A death.”
Perhaps he would understand.

He didn’t.
“So? All the more reason,” he walked forward, quite aware the guard would try to physically stop him. When the guard did reach out, he took hold of his own cape. He utilized it to swipe at the guard, and watched the swiftness with which the guard jumped away.

Blood still dripped onto the walkway, falling from the guard’s chest, but the man did feel a sense of pride for what his creation had made. He’d claim the genius as his own, after all.
‘You’ve all been brought up to kill Nobles and you do not even know it.’ How else to protect a Noble if you couldn’t keep up with one?

~***~

An amused look crossed Phineus’s face as the man quickly lowered his fingers, and Phineus drew one leg up onto the chair, and crossed an arm over it. Amaranth always told him he had as strange a sense of comfort as Aila. He liked to perch. He was resisting the urge to do so.

A coin was set, and Amaranth reached for it when Theodor detracted his hand from it, and turned it over in her hand. She appreciated the gesture of its offer, but it was of no use to her. She imagined the mutants were travelers already. This could only trace to distant lands, and though it might trace to the area of the ones who paid the mutants, it wouldn’t offer her much more than that.

The story told was no surprise, except in its consistency. Could all the witnesses have been of one mind, or was Theodor neglecting pieces of information. No matter, Amaranth set the coin back down,
“You may keep it, if you like,” she pushed it away with the tips of her fingers. “I see it may be as I suspected.” Pello had told her of these two, after all. Had he not, this would still not be a difficult story to believe. “I am grateful for the information you have gathered together so nicely. Can you name your sources?”

~***~

Marshall imagined Amaranth already had ideas for the ‘someone’, although he was not certain if that one would guard the church itself. It would certainly add the missing one back to the force.
‘Another dragon.’ How fitting, time-wise. Amaranth wouldn’t see it as such for a while. So, he gave a nod to Amala. He didn’t speak because his voice would betray him.

A question was asked before the Archer Inn ever came into sight that caused Marshall to sigh.
“No, Sister, I do not offer,” he was imagining a lecture would follow his answer. To his knowledge, none of the guards sacrificed. Some wouldn’t have minded. Some would have wanted to, though they wouldn’t have let knives replace fangs. Some still had memories of that first and only bite. Marshall’s memory of it was too faded to matter, having occurred so many thousands of years ago.

He could say he didn’t believe in Artemis the way Amala did, but that would likely be approaching heresy. Amaranth didn’t even believe in Artemis. She believed—rather, knew—the Ancestor. Belief wasn’t a component. If there were Gods besides him, Amaranth did not actually acknowledge them. 


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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #56 on: July 10, 2015, 09:54:04 pm »
Oleyo liked her magic. He always imagined it part of an all-encompassing wisdom, and thought that if there ever was anything that could grant wishes, and the one in turn to have their wishes fulfilled wanted all knowledge, Lydia would find herself without her orb, or the orb would find itself with a twin. He waited for her to make out whatever it was telling her. Good news. It was a competent trinket.

The area wasn't desolate, just empty. Forgotten, if not for the well kept grass. It had one temporary inhabitant, though. Oleyo wasn't always liked by all animals, even those enhanced by cybernetics. He touched his hand to it, and it accepted him. Not all animals get along, but there is an understanding that is not there with humans. The horse had appreciated he did not turn his left side to it when greeting.

"D´s?" he asked as he ducked after her, the pipe she'd taken a bit smaller than the man in him preferred. The reptilian thing that was also Oleyo, thrived in this space, and there was a new glow surround his black eyes when the shadow of the tunnel closed in before he whispered a name, and his shield hosted stars bright enough to fill the glass and then their path.

There was something about narrow paths like these that drew on his senses. A part of him he was born to reject, but had learned to use. "Does your magic tell us where to go from here?" he asked as the road forked. "If it doesn't object, then we should go right." he said and nodded. It was a low voice that suggested this, his head forced down by the low ceiling, face close to her shoulder so he could extend his shield hand.

--

Theodor was getting comfortable with the situation, although Phineus did not make that easy. She was not impressed with the coin. He had hoped for more. Nonetheless, he was quick to retrieve it and look at it himself, to seem thoughtful and as though he was considering its worth, so as to not look too cheap when he put it back in his pocket. No loss, at least.

He hesitated after that. He didn't have much decency in his body, but giving away sources was against the structure of which he built his world. At first it wasn't a deliberate halt in his voice, it was simply Unthinkable, what she'd asked of him. His eyes grew and sunk deeper into his skull, all but stretching the freckles on his nose as his cheeks grew paler. "M-my sources, Lady?" he asked, stalled. He looked from her usually composed face to that of her less so guard. He swallowed. "I met with someone here afterward." he said, knowing they'd probably already questioned everyone they could, or would. "Samuel Eldrige." the name felt hard in his throat and trickled out his lips. He suppose he'd rather do this than die.

--

The dog was apt at guiding. It should be. His employer was close to the god and his kind were famous for their noses and sense of direction. She scoffed at his answer as she kept up with him, never acknowledging the strain it was taking on her. She could judge with the best of them. "I suppose you believe you do enough with your services, practicing your violence and herding me and my sisters and brothers." she said, as impressed with it as a when a child swore off food or claimed they would never grow up.

Eventually they made it to the inn, where people worked instead of offered, where a meeting was already held. Amala bowed to Amaranth, their vessel and voicebox to Artemis. "My Lady. You summoned me. I have information, though sparse." She looked at Theodor with as much affection as someone like him should be afforded. She sat. Usually she would wait for the invitation of Amaranth, but Amala couldn't fathom a situation were she, who had bled many times her body for the god, should stand while a thief of truths did as well. "The green one is a quiet brute, dangerous. And his friend seems even quieter. A woman, mutant as well." she said. Quiet, in this context, seemed to mean cunning or of intelligence.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #57 on: July 10, 2015, 11:53:15 pm »
“Yes.”

Lydia did not reach out to the horse as Oleyo did, but she confirmed its identity. Many of the horses looked alike, but she did not doubt the owner of this one. D was ahead of them, then. Would he find the Noble first? That was the question.

Would they find the merchants first? That would be a stroke of luck.

Into the pipe Lydia went. She had not the snake or reptile in her to care much for small space, but she had the smaller frame not to mind it as much. Her orb could do her little good, here.
“There isn’t enough light,” she answered, “even with your shield.” It wouldn’t go far enough ahead for her to catch light on the pipes. There weren’t any, so she would heed Oleyo’s instincts in this case.

She turned to the right as he suggested, and would continue to listen to his instincts until they came upon a way into the castle that he found agreeable. There weren’t many sounds on the way. It was still so unnervingly quiet for night in a Noble castle.


~***~

Though they were brought up to kill nobles, the guards had not done so before. Byron was a pureblood at that, old and powerful. The guard had time to register the pain of the first cut, and then had to avoid a second as the figure before him seemed to vanish in thin air.

The speed was unreal. The cut came from behind and split the guard in half. Byron shook off the blood from his cape and then marched on forward, rather than clean up his mess. The doors opened automatically. Anyone who got that far on the walkway was assumed to be allowed in. A flaw.


‘Arrogant.’

Byron didn’t consider that he was the same way.

The guard’s body would be found by another only after Byron had entered the castle. The way he walked through it caused some servants to stall in order to look, but none stopped him. It looked as though he belonged.


~***~

Marshall could chafe at the words given to him, but he chose not to. It would not be the last time he heard them, and it certainly was not the first. He’d seen the lives of many Sisters, and he’d see the lives of many more. He’d hear their irritation with him a thousand times, he was sure, before he died. So, he remained silent. He wouldn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to her statement.

He simply herded.

At the inn, he found Amaranth with an eyebrow raised at the information Theodor had passed. Phineus leaned towards her, but not even Marshall’s hearing could make out what the Harpy said.

Sound was a game to the Harpy. He didn’t even need to lean towards Amaranth to whisper, and be heard.
“This one expects more than knowing he did well for us,” were the words on the wind. “That is why he hesitates.”

Information was money to Theodor, or so Phineus had surmised from rumor and talk of Theodor. The man rarely fed his information to Amaranth, so it was rarely important what he did to make a living. Amaranth smiled a bit, inclined her head a little.
‘Of course.’ How foolish of her to think her good graces would be enough. This man thought he was risking something in telling her his sources, even. ‘They are starting to doubt, then.’

It was a matter to deal with after all of this. She could not have her people doubting her ability to protect them. The name given was Samuel Eldridge, and it was the only one. One source. How strange. Still, it seemed he considered it a good source. There was no question as to why he only had one story to tell, then.

Amaranth noted Amala out of the corner of her eyes, and gave a slight inclination to offer permission to approach. Then she lifted her gaze to Theodor again,
“Thank you for your services to me, Theodor,” it seemed she had exhausted his use, and had another to tend to. “You may see Marshall,” she caught the werewolf’s eye and he hung back rather than approach.

It seemed he’d have to deal with business with Theodor, as now Amaranth’s attention turned to Amala.

There was a bow and then Amala sat. Amaranth wouldn’t begrudge her the seat at all, and didn’t even look offended that Amala would do such. In fact, she smiled. Amala was dear to her.

The woman was pale. Of all the blood in this town, Amaranth knew the taste of her blood best, even when it mingled with that of others. The smell of blood was always around Amala, too, from wounds that had once been open.

It made meeting with her difficult, since she smelled like food.

Amaranth had honed patience to an art, though. She simply stilled her breathing until it was necessary to speak. A nod was given at the information. Sparse it was, but it was information,
“I have been told you were present when this green-haired one had an altercation with Pello,” Amaranth said in an exhale, “I have been told that Pello began the situation here. Does that seem likely to you, Sister?”  Inhale. Amaranth was not thirsty, but it didn't change the fact she nearly shivered at the scent of familiar blood. It didn't change the longing.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #58 on: July 12, 2015, 12:41:09 am »
D's horse. D had not identified himself as an enemy, in fact, he had helped them by giving information, the book, to Lydia. A friendly gesture. Oleyo knew better than to count on anyone other than Lydia for backup, especially since they were here for the same targets. He supposed he'd rather the vampire hunter snipe the reward than add to the level of difficulty of this mission.

She had mentioned the mechanics of the orb to him before. In truth he didn't know very much about it. He'd filed some of the knowledge in the back of his head, because it interested him. It would always be that she'd be the expert and operator. He wouldn't need to know much. "Too bad." he said with a smile. He'd take what help he could get. Oleyo was practical, not often proud.

It would be easy for Lydia to know where he aimed to go whenever there was two or more choices. His shield would only illuminate the mouth they should go next. It was a quiet, isolated walk. The walls and the undisturbed cobwebs suggested the legendary hunter had not gone this way. "Maybe we'll meet D in here." Oleyo said, engaging in small talk in a way that would seem strange to her, since she knew him. He was not a jealous person either, but of course, he didn't often wonder about how well he measured up to the beautiful D.

Eventually he whispered the name again, light voice, a good bye, and the light from the shield faded. There was light at the end of the next mouth, hitting a gathering of water. The room was small but larger than the tunnels they'd traveled. Here, standing in the water, they could look up onto bars in the ceiling.

"Would you like me to hoist you?" he offered, holding out his ready hand. They had scaled many a tall structure, just the two of them.

--

D had quietly watched from a window overlooking the walkway. The carriage had caught his eye. Knuckles down, Left hand rested on the windowsill. It was an unspoken invitation for the parasite to partake in the viewing, and perhaps read what he could from it.

The attire alone might have given Byron away. D recognized his face before the proof of impossible speed. Left Hand intended to say something, but D folded fingers over his lips to keep him quiet. The Noble was engaged with another, but always aware. D was taking a risk looking so directly at him already. Better not risk detection just for Left hand's verbal self amusement.

When the vampire had gone out of sight, the vampire hunter lifted the fingers. "Well. You sure know how to pick a mission, don't you D?" D didn't answer, and started finding corridors that might lead him closer to Byron. "Would it kill you just to take an easy one, once in a while?

--

There was tension in Theodor's gut when he waited for her to take the information. It had cost him quite a deal to reply, but now he felt as though he was being judged by that delay. He breathed when she spoke again, and felt excited to be directed to the wolf. He felt like a child again, walking up to father coming home from good business. The old man had sparkled Theodor's love of wealth with his generosity. So the fox went to the wolf, passing the sister. Theodor and Amala had very little in common. "My Lady." he said to Amaranth before he was out of earshot.

Amala waited for her information to be weighed and judged. The sister was ready for most things, and was sure she would be dealt a fair verdict by Amaranth. It seemed sufficient, as she was not reprimanded in any way for it. Hopefully it would help in the long scheme of things. The question that followed drew her back to the one who had spoken with Pello, after Pello had fallen to break the fountain. Oleyo had come to her rescue then, or so the green haired had thought.

"When they met, Oleyo had a bit of a bout with Pello. Oleyo had some misguided notion of saving me from a lash of Pello's arm." she said before tasting her own lip. "Yes. And the woman's name is Lydia." she remembered. "It seems neither of them were weary of Pello's size, but they don't strike me as rash." The underlying meaning being that Pello was. "If I were to guess on what happened in this place, it'd be that Pello's adversary was his own mood, and that became his undoing. Perhaps these two were just a catalyst." she said and lowered her head again, to offer condolences, while her words suggested Pello's demise by his flaring temper had been inevitable.

"May I offer you anything to ease his passing, My Lady?" Amala asked. She was sympathetic when situation warranted. She thought that perhaps now would be a good time.

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Re: Vampire Hunter D: Nesting Doll
« Reply #59 on: July 12, 2015, 01:49:33 am »
‘Maybe.’ Lydia’s own thoughts echoed Oleyo’s words about D with a hopeful twang. She wanted to believe it was curiosity about what D knew, but that would never be all. Lydia could lie to Oleyo, if she wanted, about D’s appearance. She could not lie to herself, even if she understood it was the Noble in the dhampir that made him so very attractive.

“Are you so curious to meet D?”
Lydia queried, finding his continued mentions of D strange. She didn’t even consider it was jealousy—at least, not over her. Perhaps jealousy over skill, but she didn’t want to think that way over Oleyo. Not her partner, who took down so many testosterone fueled maniacs. He would not fall to that emotion for those base reasons—he knew where it led.

The light of the shield faded, and Lydia slowed her steps. There was a light that shone from above. Their exit.

He offered his hand and Lydia laughed a bit, batted at it as she walked forward and put a hand on his head. She messed up his green hair as she said,
“Oh, just get down on your knees, Oleyo,” his arm wasn’t going to be as good a boost as his shoulders. She pushed his head down, and he maneuvered into the familiar position. She was as gentle as she could be in stepping up on his shoulders, and then rising to stand as he did. It was much easier to work with the grate that way. One hand wrapped around the bars to steady both her and Oleyo below.

It wasn’t difficult, though it did require her blood to spill again so she could twist screws that her fingers wouldn’t have been able to do on their own.

Much of this blood wasn’t lost in the effort, and she was able to push the grate off the hole, and then hoist herself up and over. As soon as she was up and over, she laid down on the ground and let herself spill back over the opening to offer both of her arms to Oleyo. It would help him to get up. She didn’t have the strength to pull him up, but she could work as a bridge between him and the edge of the hole.



~***~

Byron barely heard the steps, but he did. He was not sure if he cared enough to intercept them, until he was certain they were coming to intercept him. He wouldn’t be trifled with, and from the quiet way the owner of the feet walked, he imagined it was one of Amaranth’s guards.

He turned a corner and found himself in the same hall as the strange man with the black hair. He wrinkled his nose when the scent registered. Vampire, but not. Another thing that should have been destroyed before it came into existence.
“And here I thought the wolf was Amaranth’s leader,” then he reconsidered, “Unless you’re taking orders from that.”

Clearly, Lord Byron assumed the dhampir before him was in league with Amaranth, another of her creations. He assumed it would be in charge, too, assumed direct relation immediately. He wouldn’t put it by Amaranth to have actual children among her toys.
“Where is she, beast?” It was the only decent name for a dhampir. They were not Noble, and they were even less than humans, in his eyes. 

~***~

Marshall looked to Theodor as he drew towards him, wondering what he was even supposed to do. He hadn’t been briefed on dealing with the Fox, and so he asked,
“Can I assist you?” It wasn’t hostile, but it was clearly wary.


Oleyo and Lydia were the names given to Amaranth. Neither were familiar to her, not that she truly expected them to be. The same hypothesis was given again. Pello’s temper was his downfall. Amaranth refrained from taking a deep breath as Amala offered that opinion without sugar coating it.
“You are right. That story was given to me by Theodor, and though it pains me to accept it, I knew my child.”

A matter of time, indeed.

Her heart twisted once in agony, and then again in longing as Amala made an offer. There was always one thing she would want, no matter how full she was. She would never ask it of the woman who gave so much already, and certainly not from her own veins, pulsing and warm.

Amaranth did find herself reaching out to Amala, though, and if the woman didn’t protest or flinch away, Amaranth would embrace the sister. It would be gentle, a consideration for her condition.


“Just pray,”
she would say into the human’s ear, before clenching her jaw shut tightly against the fangs that painfully pushed forward. They wouldn’t find flesh. Amaranth wouldn’t bite.