Kyo

Graduate
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About Kyo

  • Rank
    Just plain mean
  • Birthday 07/22/1989

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  • Custom Title
    Shounen As Fuck
  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Scotland

Role Play Details

  • Favorite RP Genre
    Sci-Fantasy
  • Role Playing Style
    Slow, long posts, very particular
  • Favorite Character
    Vincent from Hallowed
  • Favorite Roleplay
    Hallowed

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  1. Hallows S2

    Vincent was the first to reach Violet, and he knelt on the gravel next to her. “Violet!” he shouted every so often as he got his hand under her head and saw the bloody wound on her head. He touched at the blood to check if it was real, and it was. That could not be good news. He put his fingers to her neck and felt for a pulse. He was shocked to find one. Violet didn’t have a heart in a physical sense, she didn’t have organs at all for that matter. Yet she was bleeding, and she had a pulse. She was breathing, although it seemed a little shallow currently. She was alive, which was good…but she was mortal. His brain was buzzing with questions, trying to puzzle it all out. He could have sworn he had felt the working of forces for only a moment earlier, but it had faded so quickly, less a pulse or a ripple and more of a blip. He had felt that interfering blip often around Violet though, and nothing had ever come of it before. Perhaps she was sick, or poisoned. Could that even be done to a Nagloshi? Had a spell been worked on her? Had she done this to herself? So many questions rattled through his brain until it turned into frustration and he dismissed them from his mind. “Come on Vi!” Vincent said in a tense tone as he began to lift her up off the ground to carry her. As he turned he saw Lucia being dragged away once more, probably smart to remove her from the equation just in case she tried anything. Vincent had to admit that Mordred was a smart woman who didn’t take chances. Which led him to question if she would take a chance on them. “Help me, please.” He said, it came out harsh, and not like a request. "To do what, exactly?" Mordred asked, her tone equally harsh, but it softened when she looked down at the girl, unconscious and bleeding. "Mother!" Morag growled. "Ah'know!" Mordred snapped back at her daughter. Then she turned, glanced at a couple of people in the crowd, and they shot off. A few seconds later they came sprinting over, pushed Vincent gently but firmly aside, and then slid a cloth under Violet and hoisted her up like she was in a hammock. They led her away at a swift pace. "She can stay in my bedroom for now, I'll not be sleepin' anyways..." Mordred sat back down in her chair and fished around for another beer in her cooler. Vincent nodded his head in gratitude and walked closer to Mordred. He would get to Violet in a moment, with her blood on his fingers he would be able to track where she was. Before he left this place, before having to deal with Violet, he had to finish what they had come her for. “Thank you.” He said as he approached, “I’m afraid I have to ask more of you though.” He tried to watch his tone this time, he’d fight this lady but he really didn’t want to, especially from this close. "Like what?" Mordred pulled a beer from her cooler, snapped the bottlecap off and took a deep swig. “Ten minutes alone with the vampire.” Vincent said simply. "Morag, take Vincent to the vampire and tell the boys to leave 'em be until he comes out that cellar." "Yes, mother." Morag walked in long strides up to Vincent and then passed him and walked around the side of the building. "Keep up, then!" Morag called over her shoulder. She stopped at the rear of the gas station where it looked like an old hurricane cellar had been built. The old doors rattled as she undid the lock from a small set of keys. "Down there." She said simply, then as Vincent started down the steps she added, as if an afterthought, "Tell Luca and Max that mother sent you or they'll eat your face." Then she slammed shut the cellar doors and pulled out a cigarette and lit it, resting against the wall of the building as she waited. Inside was darkness. A flickering candle at the back of the room illuminated columns of black metal bars. A makeshift cell took up the first quarter of the room at the far back. It was otherwise very dark. Lucia's form was huddled on her bed, her arms drawn in like a wounded animal. Then, a pair of yellow eyes, each the size of a plate, opened and gazed out at Vincent. Panting, growling. The growl awoke a second pair of yellow eyes. Snarling grew like a pair of rumbling chainsaws as globs of saliva splashed the dusty ground. A small groan escaped Vincent’s mouth. That was all going far too smoothly. “Mordred sent me?” He asked at the two snarling beasts moving in the darkness. The two enormous wolves came bounding out of the shadowy corners and barked, deafening Vincent. Snapping and barking at him, yet too afraid to do anything to him, until they pressed themselves up against the walls and sat down, panting but loosing a rumbling growl as Vincent passed them. He had faced a lot of danger over the years, he’d learned to squash his fear for the most part, he knew how to focus, and he had a whole range of magical tricks up his sleeve. Those wolves were really big though, and Vincent rationalized the gripping fear he was facing as incredibly healthy and sane. Right? As he came further into the dark cellar he reached out with his senses to guide him. He raised his palm up and created a small, glowing magelight that he cast out ahead of him, a dim blue orb that didn’t assault his eyes with brightness in the dark. The blue light eventually stopped over Lucia, chained to the far wall in manacles that were locked in with 4 sharp pins embedded in her wrists, and one larger manacle of the same design but piercing her neck. “Kinky.” Vincent said. “Visiting me again so soon?” Lucia asked in reply, her head raising up to look at Vincent, her dark eyes glinting under the blue light. “How is dear Violet?” “Resting.” Vincent replied, “I don’t know what’s happened but I will find out. First I need to deal with you.” Lucia gave an open toothed smile, and her tongue lazily drifted over her sharp, little canines. “Scions are often plagued with strange troubles.” Lucia said as if she hadn’t heard him, “Our progenitor was one.” “A demon and a human?” Vincent asked, “Vlad Tepes, son of the dragon?” “Oh please that was only five centuries ago.” Lucia said dismissively, “A misunderstanding of history, for it has its parallels. Our progenitor was, after all, the son of a dragon.” “A dragon and a human?” Vincent wasn’t sure he believed that. Scion was a term often used to refer to various cross breeds of mortal and supernatural creatures. Most common were changelings, part human part fairy. Then there were half demons, demi-gods, and all sorts else. Violet technically fell in to this category, but he had a feeling that the similarities stopped there. “I don’t need your help with Violet.” Vincent replied, “Let’s cut the crap. The only way you’ll talk is if I get you out of here, and the only way to do that is to find this missing werewolf and clear your name, assuming you’re telling the truth anyway.” “It’s not the only way.” Lucia replied, “You could kill them all and rescue me, light a knight in shining armor, hm?” “I think not.” Vincent said with a frown, “You know how my sister and I operate. Point me in a direction and we’ll see it done.” “Oh you’re no fun.” Lucia said with a slight pout, “Very well. There are several in the court who are foolish enough to challenge me. However, only a handful of people knew of my dealings with the Moreau clan. Your suspects are Cassius Quint and Xiao Liang, both have the most influence within the court. Cassius Quint is a clever, sneaky little shit. Ambitious, powerful and bloodthirsty; he has a history of killing his way into authority. “ “Sounds like most vampires.” Vincent said. “Perhaps, but do not underestimate him.” Lucia replied, “As for Xiao Liang…she is an influential member of the court, one of the few Jiangshi left, and the only one you will find outside of Asia. Her sorcery is as powerful as her martial arts, and she is especially a threat to you, wizard.” “Yeah I know…” Vincent grumbled. Jiangshi were not like typical blood-sucking vampires. They originated from China, and were very few in number. They did not feed on blood, but instead on their victim’s qi, or their ‘life force’. Vincent called it mana, but it was all the same thing just interpreted differently. Jiangshi were fairly well documented but were not the easiest thing to take down regardless, and especially so for a wizard. “What would motivate them to take you out? And why not do it in the open?” Vincent asked. “Vincent…I fear you grossly underestimate who I am.” Lucia replied, “No one has yet beat me in open conflict. Our kind’s power grows with age, and those who grow more powerful are harder to kill. Without our tricks we would never overthrow the oldest of our kind.” “So they outsmarted you?” Vincent asked “Perhaps.” Lucia admitted, “Or perhaps I am allowing them to.” “Why?” “Because I like to be underestimated, Vincent.” Lucia said with a soft smile, and her eyes seemed to become glossy and hungry, “And I will continue to be underestimated if I am saved only by my powerful subordinate, the wizard Vincent Hallow, ahahaha.” Her laugh was…beautiful. That was the thing about vampires, they really were often quite flawless creatures to look at. They were beautiful, charming and very hard to resis- “Stop it.” Vincent growled, and then he blew out a breath charged with his will, and suddenly the air was alight with a purplish smoke that was swirling around him like thick cigarette smoke. Glamour. “Still enough left in the tank for that?” He waved a hand and the exotic smoke swirled and then dissipated before him. “I have been burned at the stake at least 40 times in my lifetime.” Lucia explained, “I have had my limbs torn from my body, I have had all of my bones broken, all of my fingers and toes, I have lost and regained this form countless times. I can endure far more than this, so do as I ask or you will not receive your reward.” Vincent didn’t have much else to say to that. His jaw clenched as he bit back the anger at being told what to do, but in the end he had gotten enough to proceed. He snuffed out the magelight with a whisper and they plunged back into the darkness, and Vincent made his way back out of the cellar. “Morag, was it?” He asked as he climbed out of the cellar. He retrieved a carton from his pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and pocketing the carton again. “Show me to my sister if you please.” "No." Morag growled, then pushed him back towards the cellar, "You've been asking us all these favours. Now you're gone do one for us." She shoved him down the stairs and followed, chastising Max and Luca for barking at Vincent once more. "Lucia, we need to talk! Vincent is here as a witness." Morag crossed the room and stood in front of Lucia's cell. Lucia lifted her head once more, as if she had been in some kind of brief slumber in the short time, and a thin smirk escaped her mouth. “So many visitors today. I am touched.” She said. "I heard everything, but you know that." Morag pulled the small set of keys from her pocket, "I have a deal for you." “Oh child…you really should heed your mother more.” Lucia said with a wicked grin, “What would you ask of a woman in chains then?” Vincent stayed quiet, smoking his cigarette and simply observing. Morag seemed a strong woman like her mother, but definitely lacking the experience. There was an optimism in her that was rare when you lived so long in the shadows. He remembered a time when that earnestness would have endeared him, but sadly he found himself more in agreement with Mordred, constantly assessing the danger that each individual nearby could cause him. "You're obviously far more powerful than any one of us." Morag crossed her arms, the admission of weakness hurt her, "Many of my family and friends would die before we'd stopped you. Also, if what you say is true, we have also tortured and imprisoned you without reason, and you are at least, in this, innocent..." Morag paused for a moment, "You and my mother have never seen eye to eye but you were working towards some kind of peace and someone clearly wants to stop that. So this is my offer - I let you go, you find and return my baby brother. I will help. And when we return him, my mother will be forced to admit your innocence and we will have peace, and if not... I'll fight my mother for leadership, and I'll honour the peace. As long as you promise no repercussions." “Have you no faith in the wizard?” Lucia asked, her brow tilted slightly in intrigue, “This is precisely the sort of work the Hallows do, after all.” "It's not that, I just don't want you breaking free with all this power of yours and killing a bunch of my family because they didn't believe you when you said you had nothing to do with it." Morag flicked through the keys and held one up, "So...?" “I have no need to do that.” Lucia replied simply, “You mortals never seem to understand the importance of sacrifice. Consider this pain as a price I must pay for allowing such machinations to unfold without my knowledge. That is the way of the court. The court are still responsible for the disappearance of your brother, and I am the authority which governs the court here. It is necessary that I suffer through this and forgive if our partnership is to continue. If I was to be released then there would be war between your kind and the court, and I do not like your chances, big as you are.” “If word gets out that Lucia is free then the ones who betrayed her won’t have any reason to keep Michael alive. They’ll keep him alive as long as it keeps you chasing him, and keeping Lucia locked up in the process.” Vincent explained, he was beginning to see the bigger picture now. “The same would apply if you managed to somehow kill me.” Lucia replied, “Good luck with that though.” “I’d start by installing some UV lights in here.” Vincent said, and Lucia’s eyes narrowed at him. “That’ll hurt her real bad and make it harder for her to focus and work forces in here. And if you get real tired of her you can just introduce her to the sun. No vampire can walk in the sun.” “Are you sure about that, Vincent?” Lucia asked, her eyes daring. “You wanna be my test subject?” He replied, his tone hard. "UV lights? Oh, sure. They're in every corner of this cellar, but I convinced my mother to leave them off." Morag laughed, "Alright, so I learned something, that was helpful. We'll see you when we get back. Come on," Morag nodded to Vincent, "Let's go see your sister." “Finally.” Vincent said with a mock sigh of relief, “Are you sure you don’t want to turn those lights on or…?” “Goodbye, Vincent.” Lucia growled, and it made him smirk. There was nothing more satisfying than annoying the Queen Bitch. They left the cellar again and made their way across the gravel and down the road from the gas station. “So what’s your clan’s story?” Vincent asked as they walked, “You’re not typical Loup Garou, their curse is dependent on the phases of the moons, it draws power from lunar energy. Never seen a shifter turn into a wolf your size before either.” Morag gave Vincent a sideways glance, "Why you want to know?" She asked quizzically, as though it was more she was bored of talking about it, than afraid of sharing. “I’m a wizard, I like magic.” Vincent replied, “This sort of thing is my version of stamp collecting. I like to reverse engineer the magic I come across, try to understand it. Shapeshifting is something of particular interest to me…I could tell you everything there is to know about shapeshifters, skin walkers, wolfmen, loup garou, and most other types of it.” "Do you really want to know? Most people freak out. I think even a wizard wouldn't want to be near us." Morag grit her teeth as they walked down the road. “Most wizards are dusty old bookworms that study magic through very private and careful research. They’re clever people who’re smart enough to avoid danger. Hallows are hunters, have been for generations. I’ve seen a lot of weird shit.” Vincent shrugged, “But you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, obviously.” "Yeah..." Morag snorted a laugh and looked Vincent up and down, then she came to some sort of decision, "We're Hellhounds. We take souls to hell." “Oh…so like just Hell? Or do you also swing by Hades and Tartarus?” He gave a little smirk, “Not my first encounter with an agent of death, I’m afraid.” "That's a relief. People usually think I'm lying or they freak out like I'm going to take them to hell. It doesn't work like that. Sure, there are different forms of hell." Morag shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans, "So, what's the story with you and your sister?" Vincent took a moment to digest how casually the young woman had just confirmed the existence of multiple afterlife realms of torture. The realms of the afterlife were a mystery even to wizards. It was the kind of thing the living just wasn’t supposed to know about. “Like I said we’re hunters.” Vincent explained, “We’re half siblings actually. I’m just another mortal with a little more magical talent than most. Genetics, I think. Our father was a hell of a wizard apparently. Violet is…well that’s not easy to explain. Technically she’s a Scion but…if you’d asked me yesterday I would have said there was none of her mortal biology left…but apparently there is. Her kind…I don’t know a lot about them, but they’re made up of some kind of raw form of energy…it’s like some kind of…cosmic radiance. I couldn’t tell you much more than that.” "Alright I guess..." Morag frowned but didn't further question. She reached the steps of her house and walked up onto the decking of the old cabin and opened the front door. Inside were two men sat at a table eating large bowls of cereal. "Oh hey, Morag." A man with a thick scar through his milky right eye waved to her. "Hey, Silus. Abraham." Morag added the other man's name. He looked up from his cereal, a man with dark hair and darker bags under his eyes. He nodded at her then went back to shoveling sugary cereal into his face. Morag passed them and walked upstairs and down the hall to the room at the end. She opened the door and stepped to one side to let Vincent step inside. Mordred was, unsurprisingly, a minimalist. Photos of family and friends, or maybe part of her clan, lined the walls, but little else than a bed and side table. In the bed lay Violet, staring at the ceiling, very much awake but seemingly in her own thoughts. “You’re awake.” Vincent said, sounding relieved. His gaze turned back to Morag and he nodded at her in appreciation. “So…” He turned back to his sister, “Anything you want to tell me?” "I... Something's different. I can't... I feel weird..." Violet looked down at her hands and just stared at them. “You’re bleeding.” Vincent explained, “And you have a pulse.” He came in to the room and sat on the edge of the bed, facing his sister. “Vi…if you don’t know what’s going on then I’ll help you figure this out. If some nasty is working forces on you I’ll find them but…” He paused to take a breath and his shoulders seem to relax a little. “Sometimes you stare at nothing, and not like you’re daydreaming, I can see your eyes focusing, but there’s nothing there. Sometimes I feel this sensation in the air…like a short buzz of electricity or something, It’s like it was there and then just as quickly it wasn’t. Nothing I know of does that, magic seems to always leave a trail. What’s going on?” "Orbs..." She whispered, then her eyes locked with Vincent, "They did this! They took something from me!!" “What orbs?” Vincent asked, “This is the first you’ve mentioned this.” "I didn't want to worry you, you have so much on your shoulders, I couldn't, why couldn't I articulate this before..." Violet frowned and thought for a few seconds, "I don't feel right... I feel... Empty." Her stomach growled, "--and hungry." “We can get you a cheeseburger later” Vincent said dismissively, “How long has this been going on? What are these orbs you’re talking about?” "Maybe... Years. But I've only seen them a handful of times before the last few days..." Violet trailed off again as she was examining the skin on her forearm. “Years!?” Vincent replied incredulously. “Violet you’ve been seeing orbs that no one else can see for years!? You…you idiot!” He punched his sister in the leg hard, something that felt especially gratifying since it actually stood a chance of leaving a bruise on this occasion. "OWWuh--" Violet growled but the growl wobbled on her lips and she started crying. But she quickly became angry and pointed her open palms at them, "Get, out!" Violet's palms glowed with pink light and both Morag and Vincent were ejected from the room like debris into the vacuum of space. The door slammed shut before they could get to their feet. Vincent slowly got up, the pain of the abrupt landing brought forth anger and frustration. He wanted to blast the damn door down and throw his sister out of the window. Instead he refocused those intense emotions, and he placed his hand upon the door. “Violet.” He said loud enough for his voice to carry through to the bedroom, “…I’m disappointed you hid this from me. I don’t care about your reasons, I’m not made of glass, and my whole life…our whole life has been nothing but chaos and turmoil. I’ve been studying all I can about Nagloshi so that I can help you and understand you, but it’s not like there’s a book on this stuff. You should have told me.” "I don't understand any more, I need to fix this!" Violet called out. "I'm not whole!!" “Well then talk to me or let me examine you.” Vincent said, “I can go through all the supernatural diagnostics; check your aura, chakra alignment, check for curses, hell it could be something to do with the alignment of the stars for all we know, Violet. What we don’t need is any more of this withholding bullshit that our family is so good at. We have to trust each other.” "Shit, shit! Fine! I can't believe I'm doing this..." With a rush of air the door swung open and Violet pulled herself up in the bed and wrapped herself in the covers. Vincent stepped inside and gave his sister a long-suffering look and rolled his eyes. “Oh grow up it’s not like I’m sticking my finger up your butt.” He said as he stepped closer to the bed. With just a small effort of will he opened his third eye. It was not a literal third eye on his head or anything, but it was the eye of his mind. Specifically it could be awakened by focusing chakra, mana, whatever you want to call it, into the brow region of the forehead. The change in his sight was immediate, and always quite intense. With the third eye you saw the truth of all things. Some things were dark and ugly to the point that they could drive you insane, and some things were so beautiful and bright…that it could drive you insane. Violet, however, was looking decidedly normal. The energy that was radiating out of her body was nothing like the impressive radiance that her true form had. It was a vibrant red colour, typical of the carefree and impulsive person she was. “Aura looks fine, well it looks mortal.” Vincent explained. With some focus he could refine his view of her, and not just see the aura, or the physical being in front of him, but also the energies that coursed through her. “Whoa…” He said, sounding mildly surprised. "What's that look for?" Violet asked, raising an eyebrow. “Have you been keeping up with your meditations?” Vincent asked. Violet’s chakras were all in turmoil. Generally speaking there were 7 chakra points of significance, and they tended to reflect your mental and spiritual state. Without balance within these avenues, it created in most people a general sense of unwellness, or that something isn’t right. For practitioners it could deeply affect their ability to work forces. “They’re all messed up, unsteady flow right the way through your system.” Violet’s root chakra was chaotic and the flow of energy sporadic, which might have been normal on it’s own, as it was affected by her sense of foundation and being grounded, and she’d just had a rather nasty shock, but there was some kind of knock on effect happening. “No wonder you’re flying off the handle. It’s like you’re having a really serious identity crisis on a spiritual level.” "I'm not having an identity crisis, I know who I am... I'm Violet Hallow. But... She was... More. We-- I... Were more." Violet looked to her brother, "I have to learn what the orbs are, and what they did to me... I can't live like this..." “You’re mortal, you’ve lost a big chunk of you, like it or not. That’s bound to affect this sort of thing.” He sighed and let the power fade from his brow and the auras and energies faded from his perception. “Violet…I have our next lead but…” He sighed frustratedly, “Finding dad is less important than looking after you.” He turned back to the door where Morag was standing, “I want to find her brother though…they trusted us.” He thought about telling Violet about Morag’s lineage. He didn’t know a lot about Hellhounds but he knew that they were likely a more valuable asset than a run of the mill werewolf. If any of the people that had taken her were in the know then there might be more to this than they thought. Rare supernatural entities often seemed to be careful not to be known, so they couldn’t be exploited. Anything that was careful to blend in or not be seen usually had a reason to do so, or perhaps a vulnerability. “These orbs…” Vincent muttered, deep in thought, “Could we try summoning one of them? You’re not above that, right? We’ve summoned Vael before, it can be done.” "Do you think they're the same thing as me and my Aunt?" Violet asked. "I... I don't see why we couldn't, but if they're powerful enough to do this to me..." Violet was clearly nervous. “So we take precautions.” Vincent assured her, “We’ll make a proper three layer circle, runes, bagua seals, and we’ll do it together, blend our magic. We’ll do a full ritual, we’ll wash up, clean clothes, we’ll make an offering. If this thing has worked magic on you then you’ll have a connection to it, and we can use that to try to find it.” "Geez, I'm glad you at least paid attention to Al." Violet smirked and nodded to her brother, "Well it's your show then, Vince." “Good. Well then let’s get to it.” Vincent replied and turned around to face Morag, “Can you tell us where the nearest Taco Bell is and then where the nearest graveyard is?”
  2. Hallows S2

    The Impala drove through Beverly Hills to take them to Lucia’s mansion and private residence. Well, one of her private residencies. This seemed like the best place to find a vampire during the day, and it was the closest place to them before heading into Los Angeles or Hollywood where she did most of her business. When they pulled up however, they slowed for the security at the large iron gate, but found that the gate had been opened and there was no one manning the guard booth nearby. Vincent gave Violet a nervous glance, and they drove into the estate itself and down the long driveway towards the mansion. The building itself was exactly the sort of thing you would expect when you think of over-luxurious celebrity mansions. The grounds were extremely well kept, with the flowers in bloom and the hedges all neatly trimmed back. Everything looked perfectly put together, and yet Vincent already had a bad feeling. “No guard, gate open, no security walking the grounds…” Vincent folded his arms in thought as Violet parked in the driveway out by the front entrance of the mansion. “This doesn’t smell right. We were expecting extra muscle, but there’s not even a low budget fat doorman.” "So, they're either not here and don't care who is, or..." Violet clucked her tongue as she looked around, "... Or they want us to go inside." “That’s not Lucia’s style.” Vincent said, shaking his head, “If she wants something from you then you better believe she’ll make it seem like she’s doing you the favour. This is…” Vincent trailed off and stepped out of the car. He straightened up and looked around, lifting the sunglasses he was wearing so he could look around properly. Something just wasn’t adding up. Lucia was big on security, she would never leave her assets unattended. Vincent supposed that even for vampires it still paid to be careful, especially when you’ve been alive since the renaissance. He paced a little on the gravel and waited for something to happen. Birds chirped. He could hear the cars passing by in the distance. The flowers gave the warm air a slightly aromatic scent and he thought he could even hear a bee buzzing away. “Little details…” He murmured to himself as he swept his gaze up and down the grounds, and then his gaze stopped on the gates back at the entrance. The last time he had been at this mansion the guard at the gate had been a big, dumb thug. He would be no trouble to most supernatural visitors, and probably a good few of the mortal community as well. He was for show, an expected measure that she kept in place because mortals of status were supposed to have security. He breathed out a gentle murmur of power as he projected his will outwards. He felt the crunching of his boots on the gravel, and felt the solid earth underneath it. There was power there, as there always was. A deep slumbering power that existed within the earth, dormant until called upon. Commanded by his will, this energy pulsed rhythmically like a deep heartbeat, and that pulse rippled around the grounds. It was a kind of magical disruption spell, something that grounded out residual energies. The magical illusions fell. The gate they had driven through was open because the iron bars had been blasted away from the stone housings. There were no corpses but Vincent could suddenly smell blood, and the residual smell of smoke. The flowers and hedges had been upturned and destroyed in a serious altercation. His gaze fell back to the mansion where the illusion revealed that the front door had also been blasted away and there was evidence that the fight had made it’s way inside. As Violet stepped out of the car Vincent let out a tiny groan of frustration. “It’s such a burden always being right…” He said with a resigned sigh. "Yeah..." Violet frowned, rubbed at her eyes like she was removing sleep and then started inside the mansion, stepping over the debris of the broken entrance. "So, maybe warn a girl the next time you're gonna disrupt residual magic in the area. Feels a bit like having the air pulled from your lungs only... Everything." She shuddered. "No biggie." “Oh I know that feeling…” Vincent replied with a smirk, “It’s a bit like the feeling of impending doom you get when your sister drives on the wrong side of the road way over the speed limit.” He raised a single eyebrow and then stepped past Violet and walked into the mansion. Walking in to houses can be a bit weird for magical beings. Humans, somewhat shockingly, all hold a great deal of magical power even if they can’t consciously make use of it. But when people have shared thoughts and ideas, and enough people believe these things so fundamentally, it can create a kind of universal magic. Oaths, vows, promises, confessions of love, all of them held power at least in a magical sense. This was due to the universal belief in their importance by humanity. Another common belief of humanity is that a person’s home is sacred. So if you are a being with magical talent, if you enter a mortal home without permission, then you leave all of that power at the door. Not so when the house is owned by a vampire, however. Monsters don’t get a safe space, apparently. The main lobby was one of those grandiose affairs with the twin staircases at either side leading up to a balcony floor and hallways leading off to the upper quarters. Straight ahead there was a hall leading through to an open plan kitchen area, to the right a large lounge area, to the left a dining room. The back garden had a swimming pool and, perhaps most importantly, there was an entrance to the basement through the kitchen. Basements are kind of the most important room in the house when sunlight through the windows can burn you to ash. The white walls were covered in black scorch marks, splatters of blood and sticky ichor. Furniture was all over the place, book cases knocked over, glass shattered, ornaments toppled or broken. There had definitely been some kind of showdown. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that. They had been planning to kick the door down themselves if they had to, but that was all part of the fun and games with Lucia, a little foreplay before they got down to business. This wasn’t the work of a couple of outlier hunters looking for information though. Someone, or a whole bunch of someone’s, were gunning for Lucia. “Help me out here, Vi.” Vincent said with a concentrated frown, “Who’s got enough magical muscle to come stomping in here and clean the place out?” "I didn't touch them, I swear I just got here, geez!" Violet flicked her hair with mock anger and then turned and looked out at the chaos and destruction, "Although, we know a few...." “Could be a big group of hunters?” Vincent suggested, but he didn’t seem convinced with that, “Let’s check the basement. If there’s any vamps still here then that’s where they’ll be until dusk.” Vincent withdrew the wooden steak he had retrieved before they had arrived and held it in his hand. Master of the mystic arts he may have been, but he still had a squishy mortal body and he knew how much vampires loved to play “jump scare”. Violet clocked her brother's stake, "Is your plan to kill the remaining vampires we came here to talk to, or are you assuming it's some kind of clan war?" Vincent gave Violet a flat stare. “Friend or foe, vamps are pretty unpredictable and if they’re hungry then…” He shrugged, “I’m not taking my chances with creatures that consider children to be a delicacy.” "Yeah I guess that's a bit of a downer, huh?" Violet pursed her lips together, "So... what are you thinking?" She asked curiously. “I’m thinking we need more information.” Vincent replied as they walked into the kitchen. The damage looked less extensive here but there was still signs of a struggle. Vincent found the single unassuming door that led down to the basement and tried the handle, the door opened with a click and he pushed it gently, standing back a little to see if anything decided to jump out from the darkness below. “Hello?” He called down the steps. There was no response. That didn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t anyone there though. “Hey do you wanna go first since you don’t actually have…y’know, blood?” Vincent asked. Violet snorted and closed the fridge - the contents of which she had been worryingly examining. "Baby." She chuckled and walked over to the doorway down to the basement, when she reached it she looked down at the darkness of the room below and paused. "... Pssh." She took a step off the ground and shed her human form like an unnecessary jacket. Purple and white light flooded the room, naturally cast by her body. "Alright, I'm coming down now, I'm going to start hurling laser beams if you attack me though--ARHH!!" Something tackled her to the ground, "Euch it's sticky get it off me!" Violet recoiled, she raised a hand but as the magic coursed into her palm all will to act was sapped as she realised what had clung to her, and why it was sticky. It was a little girl, no older than 13 or 14 but half-covered in blood, her hair partially matted to her face. "Uhh....." Violet looked panicked and turned to Vincent for assistance. “She’s old enough, check her just in case!” Vincent said urgently as he came down the stairs quickly, pulling a silver pentacle amulet out from under his T-shirt and with a murmur of power it suddenly shone with a cool light and he held it up in front of the girl. She didn’t react to it, which meant she probably wasn’t a vampire. Probably. "Come on, put that stuff away, you're supposed to be the compassionate one here..." Violet took the girl by her palms and focused her magic. Drawing the blood from her skin, hair and garments, Violet gathered it in a sphere floating above her. With a flick of her wrist the sphere flew across the room and splattered on the far wall. "Hey, what's your name? Violet asked. The girl had short blonde spiky hair and dark eyes. She was pale and her face was full of fright. "Helena." Vincent let the light fade – a light created by faith magic, which was especially effective against vampires among other things, and put his amulet away under his T-shirt again. He watched the girl carefully. She looked scared. Then again she was also clutching on to Violet in her real form, whereas most people just tended to look either awe-struck or horrified when they saw that. Which meant, Vincent began to piece together, that this little girl had likely seen far worse things. “What are you doing here, Helena?” Vincent asked, “Where are your parents?” "I'm a grumpy wizard." Vincent replied with fake frown and then flicked a thumb back at his sister, "and this is my half sister. Her mother ate glowsticks." "I'm a cosmic joke." Violet added with a smile. Helena frowned in confusion as Violet stepped back and transformed back into appearing human. "So, like the grumpy wizard said, 'what happened here?'" "Werewolves attacked." Helena said matter-of-factly. Then stood up and patted off the dust from the old, black dress she wore. Vincent scratched at his head. “Werewolves?” He asked, “Why did they come here? Who was here? Who are your parents?” "I don't remember, unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire." Helena cleared her throat with a soft, polite cough, "Why do werewolves ever go anywhere, look around..." She raised her hand to indicate the rest of the bloody scene. "Great." Violet grumbled, and started stomping up the steps back up to the ground floor. So Helena was a vampire. One that had shrugged off his faith magic like it was nothing at all. Vampires, unfortunately, became stronger and stronger the longer they lived. So that meant that Helena, despite appearing to be a child, was in fact very, very old. That confirmation alone made the hair on the back of his neck raise. Vampires were fast, strong, and were one of the few supernatural entities that adapted to modern times. Once upon a time they were only a threat if you let them get close, but with modern firearms, and modern technology, combined with their power and influence…vampires were probably the single most dangerous creatures to humanity, at least on a global scale. The good thing was they had weaknesses. Reciting scripture, holy symbols and relics and sometimes even just the raw aura of a person’s faith could drive them back. Yet as they grew older these things became a mere annoyance, and as their connection to The Void grew stronger they would gain new abilities, their own twisted brand of magic. Oh, and their saliva was a powerful and addictive narcotic that activated on skin contact alone. So even a young vampire, a fledgling as they would call them, was quite dangerous. Helena…she was likely far deadlier. Of course, Vincent was no slouch in that department. He may have a squishy, mortal frame but he had plenty of power. Maybe not enough to do Helena in, but enough to blow the roof off of the building, and then the glorious California sunshine would take care of the rest. No vampire, no matter how old could ever walk in the sun. “Where’s Lucia?” Vincent asked. This was the most important question, because the answer would greatly affect whether he needed to give a shit about any of this business. Helena watched Violet leave in frustration. She raised an eyebrow with curiosity and then her gaze fell upon Vincent and her tone became ever more dry and sardonic as she spoke. "Well, so you see her...?" Helena raised her hands as though she were the innocent in this mystery. “I know you blood-suckers love a bit of banter, but I wouldn’t test my patience about this.” Vincent replied, his tone calm but warning, “I don’t give a crap about what’s going on here, honestly. Tell me where she is.” "Excuse me?!" Helena looked incensed, "Honestly, is that how you speak to people? I've done you no harm. For goodness sake, I'm covered in blood, surrounded by the disemboweled bodies of my loved ones and colleagues and while you step over their viscera, you say I 'shouldn't test your patience'?" Helena shook off the bottom of her dress. It was drenched. Blood splattered in every direction and then she sighed, "Ruined... Before I tell you where Lucia is, I want to know why you want to know where she is, what you want from her, and how you will go about getting that. Not an unreasonable request given her status, and your... Obviously combative... Nature..." A tiny hint of a smirk appeared at the edge of Vincent’s lips. “Oh so you’re one of the ‘we’re people too’ types of vampires? The ones that try to justify their nature by comparing us to cows and pigs. A poor analogy, because cows and pigs don’t fight back, of course.” His eyes narrowed as he looked her dead in hers. “We are not allies. I’m not here for a request I am here to get something Lucia has, by any means possible. I’m not afraid to admit that what she holds is of utmost importance to me and my sister, because that admission is also a threat. I will burn you all if I have to…but if I don’t have to…well then perhaps everyone can walk away unharmed. Understand?” Helena blinked as though she couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I'm the special attaché for Mistress Lucia, my name is Helena, I am 4, 826 years old and my favourite colour is blue and until you address me as a person, I will not acquiesce. Do whatever you like, but until you stop making assumptions and speak to me with the same respect I am showing you in spite of your behaviour then I will gladly burn just to watch with glee in the knowledge that you killed me because you couldn't be civil to someone you know nothing about..." “Here you lure in adolescents with dreams of success and fame, you dazzle them with your exotic lifestyle, you give them drugs and alcohol and work them to the bone, get them hooked on your saliva, you make yourself so interesting so that they will come to you.” Vincent explained, “In Mexico and South America you run drug cartels, you steal children from their beds and keep them locked up in cages to be devoured at your leisure. You have entire villages that are effectively human farms. Your kind have been spreading through human society like a cancer, and you are thriving. I may not know you but I know your boss, and she is a bad lady. Believe it or not, I understand your kind quite intimately…but it’s not that you are a vampire, it’s that you are a bad person. Whatever you do, you do it for that bitch and so you don’t get basic, civil decency.” "... I'm an administrator!" Helena barked angrily, "You idiot child!!" Her unmitigated anger was tempered somewhat by her outward appearance. "I've never killed anyone, I've never done those things, I can't help the cards I was dealt, but apparently I don't have basic rights, I'm not entitled to civility because my employer is a bad person. I'm starting to understand how easily humans rationalize violence themselves and for far less than hunger. Spit whatever venom you wish at me, human. I'm over this conversation I simply wish to get home, bathe, and put this whole thing behind me." "What's taking so long?! I'm getting bored!!" Violet yelled down from the top of the stairs. “Never killed anyone…yeah, didn’t you just admit to murdering your parents and draining their plasma?” Vincent shook his head. “Forget it. I already had this covered before you came along. Have fun in the basement full of your dead friends’ organs for the next…” Vincent took the phone from his pocket and checked the time on it. “Wow…8 more hours. I’m pretty sure Violet and I can stomp through at least 3 of her other buildings by then.” Again, she sighed. "Actually, I think you'll find what I said was, 'Unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire', I did not say anything about admitting I had murdered my parents. It took me several hundred sessions of therapy to work through that and let me remind you, of something humans like reminding us - we cannot help our thirst, and more than any other time, when we are made, we are young, we have no control, we cannot help ourselves. We are not murderers... Not... Not all of us... Anyway..." Helena trailed off into silence. Vincent rolled his eyes and turned around and began walking back up the stairs. “Well I’ve killed a lot of things. I don’t care about whatever moral highroad you’re pitching. Your people eat my people, and I don’t like that. Help me find Lucia or I’ll just start burning all her property, which was plan A anyway so it’s fine with me.” "I don't care what you do." Helena muttered. "It doesn't matter now. Nothing does..." "UURRGHH!!" Violet kicked open the door to the basement and came stomping back down the stairs, "How long are you going to take with this, I've been up there about a billion years!!" "Are you here to threaten me, too?" Helena asked with a tiredness in her voice. Violet scowled at the vampire and then punched Vincent in the arm, "COME ON!!!" She yelled at her brother. "Why are we still here?!" “The ultra-progressive vegan vampire has a stick up her butt because I’m not being very nice.” Vincent replied with a shrug, “Forget her, we’ve other leads we can follow. Like whoever put up that illusion outside, if there’s a practitioner cleaning up after this then they might know where Lucia is.” Violet considered this thought for a moment, then she turned on Helena. "Yes?" Helena asked indignantly. She tried to scream but only a hoarse cry left her lips as Violet's eyes alighted, she opened her mouth and began pulling life energy from Helena. Violet smirked. "It was her illusion... she has... some kind of magic..." Violet gasped with joy as Helena reached out for help and fell to the floor, her skin had lost all colour. "So much..." Violet took a sharp breath and Helena heaved out a short, sharp breath in tandem. Vincent sent out his will reflexively, a simple spell that sent a blast of force under Violet’s feet and knocked her on her ass. “Sun’s going down…” He said in a mock calming tone. As his sister snapped back to reality and Helena gasped for breath Vincent sighed and sat down on the stairs, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed in frustration. Why couldn’t anything be simple. If there was anything more potentially dangerous than a 4’000 year old vampire it was one with a talent for the arts. Worse yet she was as stubborn as he was. This was getting them nowhere. “Alright.” He said finally to break the silence, “Vincent Hallow, 34 years old, and I don’t have a favourite colour. I’m a wizard, and I kill your kind when they step out of line, which is quite a lot by the way. I’m not interested in playing nice with you, but I don’t have a particular desire to harm you either. We want information, and Lucia has it. I don’t care enough about you or your kind to even begin caring whether you’re a good person or not. I want Lucia alive to get what we need, so as long as nobody pulls any shit nobody has to get hurt.” It was about as close as Vincent was likely to get to being civil. “Oh and I do hope you’ll forgive my sister, she can’t help herself, that hunger…ah you know this speech, right?” "She was taken by the Moreau clan." Helena muttered. "A family that can transform into wolves. Lucia had been in talks with them to settle some kind of old, bad blood." "I'm so sick of talking." Violet groaned and buried her head in her hands. "It had been going great. We invited them here as a show of trust but we barely had them in the door before it was all blood and screams and chaos..." Helena continued, ignoring Violet's protest. Vincent leaned forward and clasped his hands together in thought. Werewolves were not organized in the same way that vampires were. Firstly they weren’t all the same sort of creature. Some were shapeshifters who tended to live in small communities together, some were of Celtic roots and others Native American. Others were cursed humans; there was the wolfman curse that was transferred through bite and the bloodline curse humans known as Loup Garou, who transformed into large bipedal wolves on the fool moon. Of the three, Vincent felt only the Loup Garou would be effective enough to kidnap Lucia, although if the pack was large enough anything was possible. “So we have to save the bad guy from another bad guy? Super…” Vincent grumbled and got to his feet, “Come on, we better get to work. If they’ve left any fur or blood here I can track them pretty easily.” "Finally." Violet floated up from the ground, became vertical, and then landed with a soft tap. She looked over her shoulder at Helena as she started back up the stairs. Helena caught her look, "Yeah..." Violet walked up the last step and looked around at the death and destruction in the mansion. She seemed indifferent, crossing her arms and looking over the scene with a mildly bored expression until Vincent walked up. Her eyes lit up, "So, you think the perp left any DNA behind, detective?" She laughed with a snort. If Lucia didn’t even make one of them bleed then she wasn’t nearly as tough as Vincent thought she was. “Oh I’m sure I’ll find something.” Vincent said with a smirk and then he got to work. Within 20 minutes he had gathered together some blood and fur from around the wreckage and was sat burning the fur and crushing the ashes left behind into the dried blood he had scraped into a bowl. He dumped the contents into a magic circle he had drawn on the kitchen table and sealed it closed with just a small burst of his will. In the other circle he had placed a small compass he had kept in the car. He worked the spell he had completed thousands of times. However, spells like this had always been his favourite. It was doing something on a small scale to make something happen on a larger scale. There was something…elegant about it. Within a few moment it was done and he returned to Violet with the compass in his hand, it’s arrow pointing off in a direction that definitely wasn’t north. “To the batmobile!” He said with a smirk and they made their way outside.
  3. Hallows S2

    The nightmare began as it always had; with a victory. Vincent Hallow stood over the charred remains of a ghoul, only vaguely humanoid in shape. His shoulder length hair blew about in an aetheric wind. His shirt was gone and his chest and arms were covered in bloody cuts, wounds given by the now dead ghoul on the floor. Vincent winced at the pain and stepped away from the corpse, he could feel fatigue tugging at him. His body was exhausted, but adrenaline had wiped out his pain for now. His body protested for him to rest, but with he opened his emerald eyes with a look of determination. He gripped on the cane in his hand, the enchanted vessel he had chosen to channel his destructive will through. He looked to his surroundings. He was outside but it was almost completely black in all directions. He knew where he was, in a plaza outside of the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. The Hotel, a large glass pyramid, was currently reflecting the only source of light in the entire city, an eerie green glow as shadowy entities flew through the sky. The Wild Hunt; All manor of ghostly entities and predatory spirits were now prowling the skies above Las Vegas like an enormous hunting party. People were trapped in a city with no power, and in that darkness they would sow fear, and would kill all in their sight. “Vincent!” A voice called in the darkness, and then a young woman emerged. She was in her mid 20’s with a long mane of red curls and a pale complexion. Meredith Palmer; the gifted clairvoyant who had been the beginning of this entire disaster, “Vincent! We’re too late, they worked the spell! It’s here!” “Yeah…I can see that.” Vincent replied dryly as he looked skyward again. Then he inspected his wounds. There was a lot of blood but he didn’t think he’d hit any organs or major arteries. “We need to stop the ritual.” He turned toward the Luxor building and went to walk towards it. “People are going to die if we don’t stop that!” Meredith cried, “I can…I can see it.” “There’s one crazy Necromancer in that hotel with his ancient ghost buddy, and they’re about to bring all that power down and into them, and then we’re not dealing with a two bit spell-slinger and an upstart old spirit, we’re dealing with Gods. Do you understand that?” Vincent shook his head and started walking. Meredith simply watched, a helpless expression on her face. “Then they’ll all die…” She whispered. Just then a bright light exploded in the sky. In the center of the maelstrom of ghosts, a bright light began to go brighter and brighter. Someone was cutting through the sea of ghosts like they were made of butter, a being of light and raw energy. She raged and soared and her power burned through them like a wildfire. Meredith gasped at the spectacle, whereas Vincent only smirked and rolled is eyes. “She’s a little hard to predict, even for spooky fortune tellers like you.” Vincent said. “Is that…?” Meredith asked “Violet.” Vincent said with a nod. “She’s the main event, kid. I just take care of the trash.” He didn’t waste any more time. He strode towards the Luxor while his legs could still carry him. As he stepped into the main foyer he realized how tapped out he was. He had worked a big spell that night, and had channeled a great deal of magic through himself, he was reaching his limit. His limit would have to be enough for this next part though. As he emerged into the room he noticed that the fake Egyptian-style styling of the inner building was lit up by a glowing flame in the center of the room. The center of the room had been cleared and a magic circle had been drawn in what looked like blood. Inside the circle an ancient, ghostly form that looked so dried up, rotted and disfigured that it barely resembled a human. Outside of the circle stood a man in a long, black coat and a wide-brimmed fedora. The man had a ponytail of dark hair and a clean-shaven face that looked gaunt and pale. “Lacroix!” Vincent barked across the room as he swaggered towards the necromancer, “Sorry, but your pet had to be put down.” “Oh great, you’re still alive.” Lacroix replied unenthusiastically, he seemed unconcerned by Vincent’s presence. “I’m afraid you don’t look up to posing much of a threat my good man. You’re already too late anyway. Your sister might have been up to the task but…it seems she submitted to her more primal urges I fear.” Violet’s light tore through the sky in an arc around the glass pyramid, and as she disappeared back in tot eh darkness again there was a rushing noise, followed by a crack and a boom. This seemed to drain the little colour that was left in Lacroix’s face. “Now did she absolutely have to break the sound barrier?” Vincent said with a shrug. Then he pointed his cane at Lacroix. “Listen up you washed up sorcerer, you should probably stop underestimating me and my sister. I know you think you’re badass because you’re rockin’ the dark arts and you’re about twice my age, but you won’t beat me.” “You?” Lacroix scoffed, “You’re just a thug. Throwing spells around with no grace, no consideration at all.” “Is that why you kept dodging this confrontation then? Why you came at us through your agents and pawns?” Lacroix went to work a spell, but then there was another bang and he stopped in his tracks. Vincent held the pistol he had been carrying in the back of his jeans. “What is it about wizards and always/ forgetting to account for bullets?” He asked with a smirk. Lacroix fell to his knees, clutching the area around his heart. He looked up to Vincent and for the first time he looked genuinely afraid. Funny for a Necromancer to fear death so much. As Lacroix keeled over lifelessly Vincent sighed and retrieved a carton with just 1 last cigarette. He took it out and lit it, tossing the empty carton to the floor. As he exhaled the sweet, sweet concoction of death he glanced towards the invisible barrier of the magic circle Lacroix had brought up. It was still active, and would stay that way until Lacroix finally drew his last breath. “You know…you should really hire better lackeys.” He said to the spirit inside, who was watching him with a piercing, unblinking gaze. “Lacroix was talented enough to do my bidding and stupid enough to obey my every command. He was an excellent lacky.” The spirit said. “So what now? In a minute this barrier is going to go down and then we’re going to tangle, right?” Vincent asked. “Oh I expect so, Mister Hallow, was it?” The spirit replied. Despite her grotesque appearance her voice was distinctly feminine, with a well-spoken English accent. “I’m going to enjoy that very much I think. You see you’ve ruined all the work I went to. You have unraveled a great deal of planning and dedicated work.” “I’m not too worried about what a ghost can do, even an old one like you.” “A ghost?” The spirit asked, indicating to herself. “I am not a ghost.” The circle’s magic finally faded and the barrier went down. Vincent brought his cane up immediately and called fire, and it shot out like a lance towards the spirit. She chuckled in amusement and faded away, only to reappear a safe distance away from the blaze. Vincent turned to face her again with another gout of fire but this time she simply moved through it and crashed into Vincent, phasing through him with that familiar, chilling sensation that seemed to rake at his very soul. However in that instant, where they had become connected, he realized the truth to her words. She was not a ghost, she was a soul. A real human soul, existing in a realm where it should not, where it could not without a vessel. “How!?” Vincent managed to ask through gasps of air. “What are you!?” “I think ‘who’ is a better question.” The woman said, “I think you may know my name. It is old, the last one I wore was…Morgue.” “He died before I was even born. I know who killed him.” Vincent replied. “Ah, I knew your magic reminded me of him.” The spirit replied. “Alphonse Blackmire, that old fool.” Vincent felt his stomach drop. The spirit knew his mentor, knew the man who had killed the dark wizard Morgue over 40 years ago. Information that was known only by a select few people. Which meant…this spirit really was that dark wizard. The dreaded Necromancer who could forcibly eject people from their bodies and take them for himself. He had been a constant headache, popping up for centuries, far longer than his mortal life would have allowed. But by stealing the bodies he stole their youth and their power and continued on his dark crusade. Al had finally put the guy in the ground, and it was said to have been for good. The voice, however, was feminine. “Morgue was a man.” Vincent said with a frown. “The body I inhabited was a man, yes.” The spirit replied. “But Morgue was just one name I have held, and just one life I have lived. So many know my name and yet they know nothing of me. I am…something of a story told to children these days.” “So why the big ritual? If you’re a body snatcher then why not just snatch a body?” Vincent asked. “Because, dear boy, power is not something you get to take with you when you die. If I was to truly return in my original form then I would need tremendous power.” “Which you aren’t getting any more.” Vincent said with a smirk, “Sorry.” “I’m afraid you have only delayed the inevitable, and have forced me to find a new body in the meantime.” She said. Then she came at him. “Yours.” He could do nothing to defend himself against the spirit as she passed inside him. The psychic assault that followed was agonizing. He brought up the mental protections he had trained with all of these years but this woman knocked them away like they were made of paper. She reached inside and gripped hold of his mind, and his soul. She did it all with an effortlessness that was absolutely terrifying. He could do nothing. Absolutely nothing. He began to slip away. It was an endless feeling. Like time was no longer a factor. Instead he drifted in a cold darkness. He felt his thoughts and feeling peeling away layer upon layer. All of the little things that made him whole just fell away. He was no longer Vincent. He was no longer anything at all, and before long he would simply drift into nothingness, into void. His eyes opened to an extremely bright light. He had experienced this kind of light only once before. When he had been younger, and when he had allowed his darkness to rule him, he had done just about the worst thing he has ever done, and it had nearly cost him his life. God had stepped in and saved his life. Sort of rude of him really considering Vincent was a filthy pagan and all. God had, apparently, decided to save his life not once, but twice. The light was emanating from a man dressed in black. He wore pointed toe boots, black trousers and a black shirt, with a pointed collar and white clerical collar. The man had a stubbled beard and short, jet black hair that was combed back. He also carried a sword; the one that was currently blazing with the light of God. David Argent was not a priest, despite the collar. He was, in fact, a wanted criminal. He was a highly skilled assassin under the hire of, as far as the authorities were concerned, unknown. If you asked David, he would tell you that The Lord was his client. His targets, of course, were a bunch of vampires and demons hiding in the guise of humans. David was not a good people, but he did not kill good people either. More importantly, he had an insane knack for showing up wherever he was needed. He was chanting scripture under his breath as he stepped closer to them. Vincent could now see that David was driving back Morgue with just the power of prayer. Vincent managed to find just enough time to find that irritating, and then he was rising to his feet. David lunged for the spirit but she shrieked and flew off, disappearing out of the foyer. David sheathed the glowing sword and the room grew dimmer. He came over to Vincent and helped him to stand. “It seems the Lord has more work for you yet, Vincent Hallow.” David said with a distinctly southern drawl. Vincent pattered the man on the back and smirked. “I’m still not convinced you aren’t full of shit about that but I’ll take the rescue all the same.” Vincent said with a nod of gratitude. “We need to find that thing before-“ A scream cut through the room from outside the hotel. “Meredith!” Vincent yelled as he was suddenly going at a sprint, David trying to keep peace with him. Panic shot up through him and propelled him forwards despite the blood loss, and the fatigue. Meredith was not like him. She was a kid with power but she’d had no training. She wouldn’t last a second. By the time he emerged outside once more the sky was aglow with the energy flying around as Violet finished up her own fight. Meredith was stood alone, not far from where he had left her. She was looking right at him, and his heart was crushed as he saw the wicked grin on her face. “No…” He breathed as he stopped a few feet from reaching her. “No…you…” “Vincent!” David caught up to him. “Stop her!” Vincent barked back at him. “Now!” “It…is too late.” David said regretfully, “She has already taken the girl…you can see this.” Vincent’s gaze focused on Meredith, and just for a moment he could see just behind her. A pale woman with raven hair was walking another Meredith away. She looked sad. He could have sworn he’d seen that woman somewhere before. Then he could only see the creature that was now inhabiting Meredith’s body. “Well…prescient abilities, this will be useful.” She said, her English accent coming through but with Meredith’s voice. “Not a great deal of power though…she’ll take some work.” “The girl is gone now.” David said to him. “We should do what needs to be done.” “Shut up!” Vincent growled back at him. He was beyond angry. It just wasn’t fair. His life saved by divine intervention, and moments later his fate is passed on to an innocent woman. It hadn’t sunk in yet. It had only just happened. He wasn’t ready to accept her death. He wasn’t willing to admit that she was…gone. Not while she stood right there in front of him. “I’ll…make you pay!” Vincent snarled. He clutched his cane and the runes etched along it cast an eerie, green glow. The air grow wild around them, and the pebbles and loose stones on the ground began to rattle and shake. He pointed his staff at her and his hands shook. It felt so wrong to point it towards that face. He screamed in rage as he called on fire with the last of his power. He took every last bit of it and put it into the blast. Light exploded from the end of his cane and bolten fire burst out and engulfed Meredith’s body. But then all that heat and fire was sucked up by an unseen force and disappeared inside Meredith’s body as if it were no trouble at all. “Oh how disappointing….so much power is wasted on you.” The spirit said with a chuckle, “You see even with just a small amount of power like this body has…well if you knew real magic then you would be so fearsome.” “Save me the ‘dark magic rocks’ speech.” Vincent said, gasping for breath. He had nothing left to hit her with. “Light magic and dark magic are modern philosophies, child.” The spirit said with a wicked smirk, “Restrictions placed upon this world by cowards with no vision. Darkness is not evil, Vincent. It is a force, and what are if not beings that work forces?” “Save it!” Vincent yelled angrily. “Foolish child, I lived in a time before your very concept of magic was ever constructed!” She cried back, her eyes alive and energetic. “I am The Enchantress! The Legend! Morgana Le Fay!” She strode forward and reached out to Vincent. He gestured his cane toward her and she gripped it’s end in her hand. She released the energy she had taken from his own spell and sent it down the length of the cane, causing it to shatter into ash. Vincent fell back and landed hard on the asphalt. He looked up in time to see Morgana point a single finger at him, and a dark energy began to form at it’s tip. “We’ll meet again Vincent Hallow.” She said, and then Vincent’s vision went dark. Blinding pain seared through every fiber of his being, pulsing from an area on his chest, burning at his insides. --- --- --- Vincent sat bolt upright in the bed, gasping for breath. He winced as he opened his eyes and the light from a gap in the curtains cut into the room. The disorientation from waking from a nightmare was, unfortunately, becoming a familiarity to him. He sighed and tossed the sheets away from him and climbed out of bed. He was in one of those roadside motels that were just a single room with two beds and a bathroom. He walked into the bathroom and switched on the light. The bathroom was small but had a full size mirror on the wall. Vincent stood in a pair of black boxer shorts. He was a pale individual with a wiry frame. His jet black hair was shoulder length but was recently trimmed and styled. He had grown a dark beard over the last two years. His body was a mess of various scars, burns and a particularly nasty looking wound at his chest that looked like black veins stretching out from a charred impact zone. Something of a love tap from the ancient sorceress who now inhabited his dreams most nights. Vincent undressed and got into the shower. As the intensity of the nightmare began to fade, along with the bracing cold of the shower, Vincent began to feel calmer. It had been 2 years since “The Vegas Incident” and a lot had happened. The government had done their usual “freak gas leak combined with power outage sparks mass panic” routine to explain away what had happened. Vincent and his cosmically-inclined sister, Violet had continued their search for their father, and as was the way of things they had gotten into a lot of scrapes along the way. It wasn’t long before their reputation among the hunters of the supernatural began to return in a big way. That had opened some doors and had sent a few messages. They had followed promising leads and gotten a lot closer to finding their father yet had still not found him. Vincent had also managed to admit to himself that Morgana had been right. He had spent the years training diligently in his study of magic, looking to eastern disciplines to broaden his understanding, and slowly he was discovering that magic did not have quite as many rules as he thought it did. He still wasn’t convinced that dark magic was the way to go, some magic just didn’t feel right to use. Violet had been on her own path of self-discovery. It’s not like there was a rulebook for being a shapeshifting energy-eating entity of the cosmos. One thing was certain, every creature that had ever learned of what Violet was, no matter how powerful they were, they all paid a great deal of attention to her. Nagloshi, not the true name of her species but the only one that was pronounceable by Vincent, were apparently something of an outlier, which was a terrifying notion when the system in question consists of all manner of supernatural beings, and gods of various pantheons. Even death can’t resist her, apparently. Vincent emerged from the bathroom and dressed himself. A pair of black boots, black jeans, and a grey t-shirt with a Stone Roses graphic on it. He picked up a pair of sunglasses off the table along with his wallet, keys and his cigarettes, and then he headed out of the door. The Californian sunshine was bright and sunny. The motel was on the roadside out in the Hollywood Hills. The city of Los Angeles lay in the valley beneath them, and just happened to be the next stop on their trip. A black Chevrolet Impala sat in the parking space outside of the room. The car was old but has been cleaned and detailed. It was Violet’s pride and joy, and she took good care of it. Speaking of the cosmic disco ball, she was currently sat on the hood of said car eating some sort of calorific breakfast burrito. “That shit will kill you.” Vincent said as he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it.
  4. U.A. High School

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  5. U.A. High School

    As Miss Mass started on her next student Ichirou picked up his blazer and walked away to the side and sat down on the gravel, resting his arms across his knees. He watched as the golden-haired Miss Mass talked with the dark-haired boy he had spoken with before the class. As they spoke Ichirou huffed out a breath and felt his anger bubbling away under the surface. He had embarrassed himself, that was on him alone. He hadn’t learned anything, however. He respected that Miss Mass didn’t pull her punches, but there was nothing for him to accomplish there, she had just wanted to provoke him to lash out so she could find his weakness and show it to him. He had already known it though. Her methods, however, had not agreed with him. He didn’t like that it reminded him too much of his father and his own tactic; to keep knocking you down until the day you managed to stop him. That method had hardened him, had removed a great deal of his fear, but it had also kept him weak and struggling. At any rate he didn’t need someone to show him where his weakness was, he was all too aware. Ichirou turned his attention back to the dark-haired boy and Miss Mass. “- Seto Yoshinori.” The boy said as he politely introduced himself. He extended a hand towards Miss Mass, “I hope my best will be good enough, sensei!” "Show me your best, then." Miss Mass leapt back, leaving the boy's hand extended. "Hurry up, Seto Yoshinori, I'm waiting..." “So you’ve been briefed on our quirks.” Seto said with a sly smirk and got in to a primed stance, “Makes sense I guess.” Seto went at a sprint to bridge the gap between them. Ichirou’s eyes widened in surprise. Seto moved quickly for his frame, he looked like he had a runner’s physique but he moved too quickly for someone of his size. Was his quirk speed? No, Seto was fast but not ridiculously so. Seto came in fast on the offensive, he seemed unconcerned about getting in to close quarters with Miss Mass. Was he that much of an idiot? Her strength alone could crush him. If he wasn’t careful he was going to come off worse than Ichirou had. He came at Miss Mass with a flurry of open palmed strikes, utilizing some kind of martial arts that was unfamiliar to Ichirou. Seto was attacking with speed and grace, and seemed to be unconcerned with deploying force to his strikes. So he wasn’t relying on his physical strength then. Ichirou thought back to the beginning of their match, when Seto had offered Miss Mass his hand, she had ignored it. So, Ichirou guessed, Seto had a quirk that required physical touch to activate, and it was something dangerous enough that Miss Mass was avoiding him. She was on the defensive. Forced to dodge each rapid strike. She knew all it took was a touch. But she had experience. She leapt back, drawing Seto towards her and as he did, she drew her leg back and kicked the ground with the force of a digger. Rubble flew everywhere and Seto found himself soon to be peppered with debris. Seto tapped off the ground and suddenly flew upwards, although it looked more like falling upwards. He tumbled through the air, not quite as graceful as he had been on the ground. He moved in an arc, falling sideways and then back down to the ground behind Miss Mass, reaching his hand out to grab her once more, but she reflexively moved out of his reach once again. He rolled to the side and scooped up some of the rocks that had been directed at him, and then he did something and the rock fired at Miss Mass like a bullet. “What the hell is that?” Ichirou grumbled as he tried to figure it out. Seto was moving quicker, and seemed to have a limited flight capability. Was he like that dumb cat, just not as confident with his abilities yet? That wasn’t it either, the cat could use his quirk from a distance, whereas Seto needed contact to do so. The rock flew at her so fast she had no time to dodge, her arm was drawn back and she punched the rock, and it blew into a cloud of dust but to her surprise, Seto was right behind it, using the rock as a way to block her line of sight. Miss Mass gasped and tried to move but it was too late, Seto managed to graze her torso with his finger and she had time enough to grab him as she flew up into the air. Reaching with her other hand she grabbed onto the lamp post before she passed it and looked over at the boy, "Alright, and when does this wear off?" “Roughly 3 minutes if I don’t re-apply it.” Seto replied, smiling but in an earnest way. “I can lash you back to the ground if you want though.” He took her hand again and then with just a touch Miss Mass was returned to the ground slowly. “Miss Mass…thank you for the test but…” He frowned slightly and gave her a knowing look. “I’ve studied your abilities, and I have always suspected I may be a poor match up for you, however…” He gave her a determined look, “I’m no fool. I’ve seen you fight, you had multiple opportunities to change the flow of battle. In a real fight, I acknowledge that I wouldn’t have been ready to face you.” "You must bear in mind, as well you all must, that my purpose here is not to assess your ability to beat me. But to simply use your powers without fear or repercussion so I can better understand where you are all starting from." Miss Mass looked to Seto, "Perhaps in a true fight, I would have knocked you unconscious but you could also have found a way to defeat me just as easily. You must all remember that we are prone to mistakes as anyone and it is only if a villain is capable of seeing those mistakes.... That they are most dangerous..." Miss Mass quieted. Seto nodded in agreement and moved away as other students seemed to step up for their turn with a little more confidence now. He walked past Ichirou but stopped as Ichirou spoke. “Gravity.” Ichirou said, staring ahead and watching as a female student with turquoise shoulder length hair and a gaunt, tired expression stepped forward. “You can change the direction of an objects gravitational pull…and what’s more you can change the intensity of the gravitational pull. You moved faster because you had halved the gravitational force on yourself and had became comparatively lighter. Then you gave yourself an inverted gravitational pull to move through the air. You were awkward though, you had to adjust your directional pull so as not to fly off in any direction too far.” “That’s correct.” Seto replied with a single nod. “Miss Mass knew to avoid me because I can use her mass altering powers against her. If she had increased her density at any point after I had touched her then gravity’s effect would have only intensified for her. However, I don’t have her kind of resilience. She could just as easily have taken me out with a well timed strike. “ “Do you think it’s wise to just tell me all of that?” Ichirou asked “You were already figuring it out on your own.” Seto replied with a soft shrug, “besides, we’re comrades. We can work together much more effectively if we understand each other’s quirks.” “Yeah and I can exploit what I know to beat you in examinations, by exploiting your weaknesses, or sabotaging you so I come out on top.” “True, sometimes we will be rivals.” Seto conceded, “But if we strive to help each other we can all come out of U.A as heroes, and then our teamwork can be used to better serve the public. Sabotage and exploitation aren’t things you do to your comrades. Only a villain would do such a thing, right?” “You-“ Ichirou let out a snort and seethed with anger for a moment. Then he quieted himself with a deep breath and continued, “Fine I’ll throw you a bone. My Quirk looks like fire, right? Well it isn’t. Its like a…a shroud that acts like an extension of me. Anything it touches is subjected to intense heats that incinerate them. I can control the heat to some extent, but I can’t make it not burn things. It’s only use is destruction. That’s all your getting.” “Hmm…weird.” Seto said as he began to walk away. “What’s weird?” Ichirou asked. “Well your clothes don’t burn off…” Seto said with a shrug, and then he walked off out of earshot. Ichirou thought about that last comment as he turned his attention back to the match. The gaunt girl with the turquoise hair – Yachiru Totonome – had come out of the gate strong by unleashing her quirk – which had taken the form of a towering spectral figure that emanated from Tachiru, the spirit was vaguely in her likeness but had wild, crazed eyes and sharper canines, and where her hands should be were a pair of shadowy claws instead. “Another lamb to the slaughter…another…another…sacrifice…” The crazed specter said in an excitable but erratic tone, “You wanna go, bitch? Hm?” “My apologies…” Yachiru said in a monotonous, quiet tone, “My quirk is quite loud. And rude. Also violent.” “I’LL CUT YOU, FREAK!” Her Specter yelled in response. “Very rude.” Yachiru confirmed. The spectral entity went on a warpath, but ultimately ended up losing to Miss Mass when Yachiru seemed to run out of stamina and fell asleep still standing on her feet. After her came a host of other students including a boy who could absorb the material properties of things that he touched, another boy with a mutation quirk that made his skin stretchy like elastic, and a punky looking girl with black hair who had a herculean strength, and a so it kept going until the entire class had stepped up, all except one. “Let’s see what you’ve got, Noriko.” Ichirou said under his breath.
  6. U.A. High School

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  7. U.A. High School

    The door behind Noriko swung open followed by a bang as it hit the wall inside the room. The young man she had just popped in on was stood in the doorframe, still in a state of undress. “Where d’ya think you’re going, dumbass!?” He barked, his teeth bared in a snarl, his eyes wide with narrow pupils. “What’s the big idea!? Locked door not a big enough hint for you, huh?” His fists were clenched tightly at his sides as he loomed over her. "Force of habit?" Noriko raised her eyebrows and shrugged. "Cute boxers, by the way. Totally you." She glanced over his shoulder, "What's with the cat?" “Just another extra.” He replied through gritted teeth. Then his expression softened only a bit as he examined Noriko, and the wheels started turning in his head. “Tch!” He cursed, turning and stomping back in to the room, “Figures I’d be stuck bunking up with a scrub and a house pet.” The main room of the dorm was a basic kitchen/lounge area with a sofa, a tv, coffee table, and a small area to sit and eat. Noriko pursed her mouth and followed the boy into the main room of the dormitory. Her eyes darted over everything, drinking in her new environment, then she noticed movement at ground level and she looked down just in time to see the cat from their room. It slid through her legs, and sauntered over to the coffee table and then, miraculously, lifted from the ground and onto the table through sheer levitation alone. "Whooooaaah!" Noriko's mouth fell open, she reflexively reached out - she wasn't sure what she was intending, whether to pick him up or stroke him, but it didn't matter - and the cat, sank it's teeth into her hand. For a moment, the pain didn't register, then Noriko wailed and threw her hand up into the air, the cat went with it. Shaking rapidly back and forth, the cat refused to let go until she tried to pull one of it's paws away from her arm and it yowled. "Don't touch my toe beans!" Muffled, partially, by the mouthful of Noriko's hand it had wedged in it's maw. Then it spat her out and landed softly back on the coffee table. "You're both so loud and obnoxious. And I am not a scrub." It added, matter-of-factly. “You’re a sidekick at best, furball.” The boy said with a frown. “Ichirou Kazuro. You best remember that name because you’ll be chanting it soon enough. Maybe the faculty think you losers might pick up something by hanging around greatness. But don’t get in my way, or I’ll toast your whiskers.” "Oi boy, you should think twice about making assumptions!" The cat warned. "Hah! The cat told you off." Noriko smirked and crossed her arms. "Or you!" The cat's eyes turned from yellow to white and Noriko shrieked as her feet lifted from the floor and before she had time to think, she was slammed into the ceiling and pinned there. She coughed and tried to pull away from the ceiling, but it was like she was stuck in fly paper. She managed to glance across the ceiling and saw the boy - Ichirou Kazuro, as she now knew - in an identical predicament. "Pfft. I'll just--" Noriko vanished in a puff of smoke and just a moment later, her ear-splitting scream echoed across the campus and faded rapidly. "In about 3 seconds, she'll be in the troposphere..." The cat mewed. Then purred and it's eyes turned from white, back to yellow. A few seconds passed, and the screaming returned. It grew louder and louder until suddenly it stopped with a jerk. A few seconds more passed, and then a burst of smoke and Noriko was pinned back against the ceiling again, arms crossed over her chest with the angriest expression. But it was equally, and completely, an expression of defeat. "I, am not a regular student. I am your student liaison. You can think of me as a student teacher, if you like. If you need anything, if you have any questions, you will direct them to me." Slowly, both Ichirou and Noriko descended until their feet touched the floor once more. “Whatever, furball.” Ichirou said dismissively, turning to walk away from them both. “I’ve had plenty chumps throw their weight around at me. You just keep showing me your hand, dumbass.” Before the cat could say anything else Ichirou had opened the door to his bedroom and slammed it shut behind him. His room was a simple one with a single bed, a weight bench, and a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner. He quickly dressed himself in the blue trousers and grey blazer he had been supplied. He tied the red tie around the collar of his shirt but left it hanging loose, and popped the collar of his shirt. When he returned to the main room of the form he noted that the nerds appeared to be bonding. He supposed if they were busy bothering each other then at least they wouldn’t be bothering him. He had expected more. U.A was prestigious and yet he couldn’t have felt more disappointed in what he had seen so far. How were these brats supposed to be the heroes of the future? Sure, he’d already noted a good selection of useful quirks since he’d arrived, but very little brains behind them. He saw wide-eyed, optimistic kids who wanted a shot at glory. They didn’t understand the danger involved, not like he did. “So guess we’re stuck together then.” He said, folding his arms across his chest. “So fair warning, either of you decides to hit me with another whammy, or pop into rooms without warning, there will be consequences.” "Y'know, its bad to be so angry all the time. You'll get a hemorrhoid." Noriko added to the end of his statement, then turned back to talk to the cat. "So, you're not a cat?" Noriko looked him up and down, "Look like a cat..." "Yet I speak, levitate and throw you into the lower-atmosphere. Clearly, I am not a cat, as these are not things, for which cats are likely to partake." "... Ichirou-kun?" Noriko asked, turning to look at the boy, "What's your Quirk?" "That's for me to know and you to find out." Ichirou said with a smirk. "Teleportation. Levitation. Noted." "It's okay if your Quirk is bad, I won't judge you." Noriko turned in her seat and faced Ichirou. "Or if you can't use it right now, y'know..." She held up her little finger and then let it drop and gave the most reassuring, 'its okay' expression. Ichirou’s scowl worsened and he turned from her dismissively. “Tch! Idiot.” He said, shaking his head. “Talk is cheap. You’re trash talk won’t be much use when you’re so far behind that you’re eating my dust.” He went for the door. “Later, dorks. Class is about to start.” He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as he left the two of them in the form and disappeared down the hall. Walking through the campus it was a clear-skied and sunny day. The clean, open space was a far cry from the places he had lived growing up. Students passed him by, not all on the hero class like him, of course, but U.A had students studying other subjects too. A couple smiled politely at him but he ignored them. Most people didn’t even bother to smile at him. He had heard peers tell him that he came across as “hostile”, but Ichirou knew that they clearly had no idea what hostile really meant. --- A memory played in his head like a movie he’d watched a thousand times. He could feel the heat of the blazing fire around him. The charred remains of a dead woman lay on the floor. He was whimpering like an injured puppy, a black-gloved hand was gripping on to his hair and dragging him away. “This is your fault, you little brat!” The deep, sinister voice said to him with a quiet, bubbling anger that always tinged the man’s voice. “Mom….” He choked through the cries of pain. The grip on his hair tightened and he let out a cry of pain. “Shut up!” The deep voice snapped. “Real men don’t cry, got it!?” --- The memory flickered in his mind, it became hazy as he tried to block it out. He couldn’t let himself remember those things. It was too painful. He tried to push it away, he felt the fear of it all washing over him, and if he let it he would be crippled by it. He stopped in the middle of the path towards the main school building, his fists clenched tightly, his head bowed down to hide his expression. He was frozen. He couldn’t move. Just like that time. --- The entire building was engulfed in flames. He could feel the burning on his skin. He choked on the fumes of the smoke that was billowing up into the night sky. He was trapped on the roof of the building with a mad man. A villain. The man stood looking up at the blackness of the night, his crazed eyes illuminated in the blazing light of the fire. He was dressed in black boots, and black jumpsuit made of a rubber type material, one that Ichirou knew wouldn’t burn or melt. A wild mane of blonde hair much like his own stuck out from the crazed man’s head making him look like a lion. He was wider built and muscular, with a short goatee at his chin with a sharp point. Ichirou had known the man as Kagetsu Kazuro. His father. The world at large knew this man as Hellfire, the supervillain who burned all in his wake. “You are such a disappointment.” Hellfire said bitterly as his crazed eyes turned back to his son. “Too much like your mother. You’re pathetic. A loser. I have burned a path of fire and ash to give you a good life, and this is how you and your mother repay me?” “…You killed her.” Ichirou whispered, kneeling on the ground, too scared to move. “She made me!” Hellfire barked, turning to face his son. “You brought this on yourself, both of you! Without me you are nothing! You are no one!” Hellfire removed his gloves, and his hands glowed and shimmered with heat haze. “And now you’ll be ashes.” “I wouldn’t bet on it, Hellfire!” The voice was deep but clear and cut through the fire and the smoke like an icy chill. Then Ichirou realized that there really was a chill. He could see his breath in the air. A series of crackling noises began to snap around him as the fire began to disappear, and in it’s place came sheets of ice, and eventually the entire building erupted in thick icicles that snuffed out the fire, Ichirou turned as he sensed a figure walking across the rooftop towards them in the darkness. She was a tall woman, built like a bodybuilder, dressed in a tactical vest, trousers and boots, all a pale blue colour. She wore goggles over her eyes with a light blue tint, and her hair was a darker, cobalt blue, short and spiky. As she walked the ground underneath her became slick with sheets of ice. “Winter!?” Hellfire gasped, stepping backwards. That was the first time ever that Ichirou had ever seen a sliver of fear in his father’s mad eyes. He turned back to the woman as she came closer to him, then passed him and stood in the gap between him and his father. She was the woman he had seen on TV, and heard about countless time. The legendary hero and arch rival of his father, Winter. “Don’t worry kid, I’m here now.” She said with a confident smirk. “You’re coming with me.” “You ain’t getting him!” Hellfire snarled, “He’s my son!” Hellfire dropped to a crouch and pressed his hands against the ground. Suddenly an intense heat began to melt the ice around them, and steam hissed as Winter fought back with her own power, fire and ice battling it out at equal measure. “I ain’t holdin’ that against him.” Winter said with a confident expression. “It doesn’t matter who your old man is kid!” She yelled, and she took a moment to turn back to Ichirou and smirk. “What matters is what’s in your heart!” Suddenly the ice around her rose up and the two rivals went at it without restraint. Ice began rising up, and the two were hopping between the pillars, Hellfire using his power to melt the ice and slide across it, as Winter created more ice that pushed her upwards into the night, firing projectiles towards Hellfire. Soon the smoke and the steam engulfed them both and Ichirou couldn’t see any more. He began to feel faint suddenly, his vision blurred and then went black. --- “Are you alright?” Ichirou blinked. The boy in front of him had shoulder length, dark brown hair and light blue eyes, and was dressed in the same uniform that Ichirou was wearing. “What!?” He asked with a scowl. “I said are you alright?” The boy said with a raised brow. “You’ve just been standing there looking like you saw a ghost.” “Mind your own business!” Ichirou barked and pushed past him with a shoulder check. “No need to be so rude!” The boy said, rubbing his shoulder as he watched Ichirou storm off. “I was just trying to be friendly!” “I don’t need a friend, so stay out of my way!” Ichirou yelled back and kept going. He finally made it to the large ‘H’ shaped building where classes were held and made his way inside. He was a little early and sat at the back of their classroom, even the teacher wasn’t there yet. Slowly other students filed in, including the brown haired boy from earlier. Ichirou sighed and folded his arms, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. He was going to make it here even if it killed him. He didn’t care if anyone liked him. He didn’t need friends. He didn’t need to be admired or loved. That wasn’t why he wanted to be a hero. He had a debt to pay and a score to settle. I will find you, Hellfire. I’ll be the one to defeat you…once and for all.
  8. Mistborn Alterna

    Raze stared at Galatea for a moment in silence. She had only discovered her abilities less than a half hour ago and yet he could see that she was already turning to allomancy as if it were second nature to her. She had burned tin, he could tell by the pulses he felt from burning bronze. He looked around the dark and murky rooftops around them, the mists so thick that they were but murky silhouettes to him. He burned tin, and suddenly the mist seemed to become far more transluscent. That was something else tin did as well as enhance the senses, it seemed to allow allomancers to pierce the msits and see through them. He walked quietly to the edge if the rooftop and peered down to street level. It was unusual for anyone to be roaming the streets at this time of the night. Even though city skaa went out in the mists and weren’t quite so superstitious, they were still fairly unsettled by the experience and often did go out in them if they could avoid it. It was understandable. He remembered being a child and finding the mists quite unnerving. Without tin it was difficult to see through the mists, and combined with the natural darkness, he could see why people would be afraid of it. Still Galatea wasn’t hearing things. He saw the three figures below, walking by in relative silence. He burned steel and checked for the blue lines that indicated metals on their person, but there were none. He could see they were carrying wooden shields and dueling canes that were likely made of wood and obsidian. Obsidian blades weren’t as sturdy or effective as steel, but they held a distinct advantage against coinshots and lurchers, which was why Raze himself opted for a pair of obsidian daggers over steel ones. Metal was a powerful weapon for a mistborn to use, but it could also be used against them. It was common to use coins because they could be carried in a loose pouch, and if they were pulled away by another lurcher then they would take the pouch and not the person carrying it. The same could be said of his mistcloak, which was designed to come off easily if anyone tried to grab it in a close quarters scuffle. Seeing guards walking around with no metal on their person could only mean one thing. “Hazekillers.” Raze whispered to Galatea, “Guards trained to kill or apprehend allomancers. No metals to manipulate, and they are trained in different tactics to take out different kinds of mistings.” Galatea visibly lost the breath in her lungs. "We are dead, then..." She tried to slow her breathing but find the panic in her rising. She had overcome death a hundred times over but nothing like this. "I can't believe it... I won't." She growled, standing back up. She buried her trembling fear and dangerous anger - they were no good to her right now, even if both had their place when needed. Raze stifled a laugh and shook his head. “They haven’t even noticed us.” Raze replied quietly, “Besides, we’re mistborn. Maybe 10 or 15 of them might be trouble…but not 3.” Raze looked back towards the hazekillers, who were now just about underneath them on street level. Kill them., the voice inside his head demanded. That was the vicious part of him. The part that hated nobility simply for being nobility. The part that knew he could take care of these three guards with little effort. Kill them!, the voice insisted. However, Raze just let them pass by. He stepped away from the side of the roof and touched Galatea lightly on the shoulder. “Killing is a lesson I’d like to save for another day.” He said softly. “Make no mistake, Galatea. My role in the rebellion is that of a knife, but it’s important to make sure that knife only seeks intended targets.” "I've killed before, and I'll do so again, whenever I must." She spoke in a hurried whisper, "I'm not some child you can preach your set of morals to. Teach me something useful, like allomancy, so I can do what I must." She listened as the three Hazekillers got further and further away. She was straining to listen when she got a horrible sensation. The feeling in itself wasn't unpleasant. It was the sensation of burning a metal as she instinctively tried to amplify the sound of their footsteps. She felt a blanket of dread wash over her, realising what she had done by accident, as one of the Hazekillers froze mid-step. "Mm?" The other two stopped and turned to face the first. For a few, fleeting seconds, she thought they would move on, then-- "Behind us." The Hazekillers whirled around and doubled back towards them. "Raze!" Galatea warned. “Great…” Raze growled, and then he was in motion. He leapt off the edge of the rooftop with a pewter enhanced leap, burning iron and pulling himself to the next rooftop using the metal cladding. He landed on the other side and sprinted along it and leapt again, descending down to the street levels at speed. The Seeker hidden within their number, a smart tactic, had locked on to Galatea. Raze, however, was burning copper as he made his way towards them, and they hadn’t noticed he had flanked them until they heard his feet tap on the cobbles behind them. He rushed them and the nearest to him hadn’t even began to turn all the way around before Raze had reached him, wielding twin obsidian daggers. Hearing the steps coming from behind him, the hazekiller reacted instinctively and swung out with his dueling cane in a wide arc. Raze ducked the blow, and the wide sweep had left the hazekiller’s torso undefended. Raze reached out and held the hazekiller’s right arm so he couldn’t bring his shield in, and with pewter burning the man couldn’t hope to outmatch his strength, so Raze stabbed him in the jugular and quickly let the man fall. The other two were already upon him and falling into a defensive stance, with their shields raised in protection and their dueling canes ready to fend him off if he got too close. Raze burned steel and fired a small flurry of coins at them, which hit their shields. Then men had prepared for the push by positioning themselves with their back to a wall, and Raze ended up being thrown back by the force of his own push. This worked to his advantage, however, as he gained some distance and hid himself in the mist. With Tin he could see them clearly, but they would not be able to detect him so well. He burned zinc and brass in tandem, rioting their fear and alarm towards him, and soothing away their concern for Galatea who they knew was nearby on the roof. It was a gamble, hazekillers were trained to notice emotional allomancy and his touch was hardly subtle. Emotions were high in a fight though, so perhaps they wouldn’t notice. Raze left his coins at their feet, knowing that pulling them back to him would reveal his location to them. They began to form a defensive stance back to back from one another. Clearly they expected him to come at them from any angle, always a possibility with mistborn. His emotional allomancy had the unintended effect of making the two men more careful. They had positioned themselves in the most defensible way they could, and they resisted any urge to advance, they simply waited, tense and vigilant towards an incoming attack. The simplest solution was to simply outmatch them, attack them in a way that was beyond their capabilities to defend against. He flared his pewter and advanced back the way he had come. The two men adjusted as the heard him coming, both facing him once more with their shields in defence, advancing with careful steps so as to close the gap and pressure Raze to flee or come in closer. However, they had forgotten about his coins on the floor, now behind them. Raze burned iron and pulled on the coins, and they came back to him but not before cutting at the Hazekiller’s legs, causing them to cry out and their stance faltered. He advanced on them with alarming speed, keeping his body low, he closed on them and went for the one on his left first, grabbing his sword arm and yanking him in an arc, separating him from his comrade, and sending him crashing in to a wall. Then he sent coins crashing into the second, who raised his shield and the coins sunk into the thick wood and became embedded. The hazekiller was heavier than Raze and so he was sent back a few feet before his back hit the wall of the tenement behind him, and then the hazekiller was sent back, pinned to the far wall by Raze’s pushing. The man struggled to move but Raze released the push and pulled back the coins, ripping them out from the wooden shield, and let them fly past hit and hit the wall he was pressed against. He went to run, and found the coins once more and flared his steel. The coins pushed against the wall and Raze went flying forward, leaping his his feet first, he crashed into the man’s shield. All of the power involved concentrated. The force of the steel push, and the strength of Raze’s pewter enhanced kick, it all came crashing down on the hazekiller. His shields shattered into splinters, and Raze heard the satisfying crack of bones as the man’s arms was broken. Raze flared his pewter to dull the thumping pain that had started in his legs, and grabbed the hazekiller by the scruff of his shirt, and hurled him backwards towards his comrade who was just getting up to join the fight once more. The pair crashed into each other and swords and the remaining shield fell around them in a heap. Raze approached them with a confident stride, kicking the dueling canes away from them, he loomed over the broken men, his mistcloak flailing in the light breeze, the mists dancings around him, drawn to him like he was breathing it in. He flared zinc and rioted their fear, not holding back. This wasn’t the subtle touch that Ranette always lectured on, this was a display of his power. By now their utter loss at his hands had already worked them into quite an expression of terror, and his allomancy only amplified that, to the point were the men were utterly crippled under their own fear. There were no final words, no witty remarks. He slit their throats. The vicious part of him was pleased. He left the corpses where they lay on the street and pushed himself back on to the roof where Galatea was waiting. “We should have started with copper.” He said with a hint of annoyance as he rejoined her. Then his annoyance shifted from Galatea and on to himself. “Actually, I should have been smoking us the whole time, not your fault.” He admitted. Silence returned and Galatea let out a sigh. It was over. "I am responsible for my own actions, Raze." “And so am I.” Raze replied, “You’ve been doing this for all of five minutes, I’ve been doing this since I was a eleven. I should have known better.” He took hold of her with a sense of urgency. “We need to go” he said, and it appeared he was not in the mood for questions. Once more he carried Galatea into the night, hopping across the rooftops of Urteau, leaping across the slums built inside the old dried up canals, and then up on to the defensive walls that lined the perimeter of the city. They did not receive any more notice as they travelled, and as they perched on the ramparts of Urteau, Raze looked back and made a short vow to himself that he would return here someday. Then he dropped off the walls and into the dark, misty night of the outside world. Scents of city life such as soot, piss and shit were replaced with moist grass and earthy smells. There were no more metal lines for Raze to follow and so they continued on foot, travelling through the thick grass at a quick pace. “Tineye scouts will be watching for us.” Raze said, speaking at a more normal level now that they had left the city. “There’s caravans hidden a short hike from the city, all of our people will be making their way to them under guidance from our scouts. In the meantime we have a moment to chat. I have questions for you, but I’ll let you have the chance to ask some of your own first.” "Are you teaching me allomancy, Raze, or riding?" Galatea asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow. “Right now I’m getting you to safety.” Raze replied confidently, but his expression looked a little put out despite that. He felt a stab of guilt. He had underestimated her because of her blindness. It could well have been justified, but he didn’t know, he’d never given her the chance. “I apologise.” He added quickly. “I…I’m not used to teaching. I don’t have a lot of patience, I move quickly and I tend to find other people get in my way. I thought it would be easier to just move you with me.” "It would. But then, you are slowing my ability to navigate this world without you. So my second question is - is that deliberate?” “Of course not.” Raze said, shaking his head. “Your training is secondary here. Just a taste to familiarize you. It doesn’t come before my responsibility to the rebellion and to my friends. I wanted to let you have a glimpse before you truly decided.” "I'm just trying to survive." Galatea replied, tilting her head and sniffing the air softly. She was trying to mentally store and categorise the different sounds and smells. "My world is Twilight, I shift through the mist and find, The trees sing to me." Raze looked at Galatea and cocked his head. She was a strange, mysterious girl. She was a hard person, no doubt to cope with her hard life. She was wise, more clued in than most skaa, but also at the same time very naïve. And now, he realized, someone with depth and creativity. The thought saddened him. The life he led had no room for that. He was a knife, and he knew she would be too, if she followed him. “You have a decision to make.” Raze said. “The crew are optimistic and hopeful. They told you that you were free. Then, once I discovered you were mistborn, I told you that you were free. Compared to the life you had, your life with us will be easier in some ways and harder than others. You will have liberty. But freedom? No, not really.” Raze stopped and stood, letting the ambient noises of the nature around them fill the silence for a brief moment. “You expressed desire to have revenge on those who harmed you. You can have it, but if you want our support it will come at a price. Our rebellion is small, we cannot risk its discovery while it is still young and fragile. If you join us, you can never leave us. That is a risk we cannot take. And if you join…well then you have to accept that you won’t be free. You will be a tool, a knife, like me. I do that so that one day the skaa might truly be free.” "I only really have one goal, Raze. Help me do that, and I will do as asked of me for as long as I wish it now and thereafter, and if there is an after that, we will address such a situation at the time." “Once you know where our base is, you stay with us or you die.” Raze clarified. “I will kill you.” "Yes, I understand." She said, and for some reason it didn’t sound entirely convincing to Raze. That was the trouble with rebels, they were so rebellious. “Good.” Raze said with a finality to his tone. “Come then, no more hand holding.” He walked away from her and did not turn back, and he was pleased to find that she followed him without complaint. Perhaps he really was wrong to hold her hand. After a short walk in the darkness they came across a small group of caravans with horses and other people waiting around, packing things into wagons and generally preparing for a much longer trip. --- --- --- --- It had been a week of almost constant travel. They had moved mostly through the nights where most other travelers made camp to avoid the mists. They kept off the main roads as much as possible, and at a certain point they had to abandon their wagons and carry onward on foot, or on horse for some of the lucky few. The thick forests that lead to the caverns they called home were difficult to travel with wagons. Raze, impatient as ever, had gone on ahead. With pewter he could run faster than any horse. So he had left Galatea in the hands of the others, and in particular with Telzin. “We are almost there, Lady Galatea.” Telzin said encouragingly. The young girl walked a little behind him, carrying a pack like everyone else, and she seemed to be navigating fairly well for someone without sight. Already she seemed so different from the dirty and bloody girl he had treated over a week ago. "And what am I to find there, Telzin? I'm told I will be killed should I leave. Seems there are many kinds of masters in this land." Telzin simply smiled politely. “It seems Lord Raze has employed his particular brand of severity on this topic. Still, he did not speak a lie.” Telzin stepped through the forest confidently, and his frame seemed much more lean and fit than it had before, he had no trouble carrying the pack on his back, that was considerably larger than ones the others carried. “However, do not think that this will be another life of slavery. It is different to serve, because you were warned, and you still chose it. That distinction is important, I think. More importantly, however, I must stress that the consequence for desertion is not about punishing you for disobedience, it is about protecting the thousands of people who live here, and are at great risk if we are discovered.” As they came to the far edge of the forest they came out onto some large, rocky mountains, and a cavern that was hidden by the thickness of the forest. The travelers were filing in to the caverns which were guarded on the inner tunnels, since guards posted on the outside of the caverns would be an indicator to anyone who happened on the place. “Welcome to your new home, Lady Galatea. We call this place Haven.”
  9. Mistborn Alterna

    Darkness loomed over Urteau, the city streets lit with torchlight. Brightest were the torches outside on the steets opposite the local Canton of Inquisition building. Raze stood on a rooftop of a nearby building, the thick mists dancing around him, whispy tendrils grasping and teasing at the air, they seemed to swirl and buzz to the tension of the scene. The plantation skaa had feared the mists, and even the city ones avoided going out in them. Yet they had come this night, bringing plenty of torchlight to guide them. Raze understood why, after all the mists were so mysterious. They hid things. Mistborn, however, did not fear the mists. Mraine stood on a balcony window just below him, and the old man was burning copper to keep their allomancy hidden. Raze reached down and found the familiar source of power within him, and then he burned bronze. Immediately he felt a warmth in his stomach and there was a pulsing in the air. The pulses, each with their own distinct frequency, could tell him not only if allomancy was being used, but also what metal and where. Mraine was burning copper, and so his coppercloud would dampen any allomancy within it, but that didn’t stop Raze from detecting anything outside of it. Immediately he noticed one of the obligators by the gallows. The pulses coming from him were that of bronze, like Raze himself was burning. That meant the obligator was a seeker, which was fairly common. He felt another pulse coming from a nobleman standing on one of the upper windows of the canton. He was burning Zinc, a soother for sure. It was possible that some of the guards were Thugs, or “Pewterarms” as the military called it. Most decent Thugs didn’t burn their pewter when they weren’t using it, which was a fairly smart tactic. He stopped burning bronze and smirked, nothing he couldn’t handle. “I’m going.” He said to Mraine, “Make sure the safehouse is all set up.” “Good luck.” Mraine replied. “We Mistborn make our own luck, Mraine.” Raze replied, and then he sprang in to action. He burned copper, pewter and tin. The copper concealed his allomancy from the seeker, and his sense became sharp and extra sensitive. Light became brighter and he could see more details in the darkness and through the mist. His body felt well balanced and primed thanks to the pewter, and with inhuman strength he pushed off the building at a diagonal leap. He burned steel, and immediately his vision was filled with a web of blue lines pointing in every direction. Each was a source of metal he could push on. He found the lines connected to his loose coin pouch and then he pushed on them. The coins spilled out of his pouch and flew backwards the way he had came, until they smacked against the roof of the building, and suddenly Raze was propelled forward, with the combined weight of the building, now the coins were pushing him. The additional burst sent him high above the street, bounding across the crowd in one leap. Raze burned iron and found the lines for his coins and then pulled on them, bringing them back to his waiting hands. He let himself fall down to the earth, and at about 10feet off the ground he gave a guard’s sword three short bursts of pushing, knocking the blade off of his belt and straight to the ground, whilst slowing Raze’s fall until he landed on the ground with a deft roll, going straight back to his feet and then setting off at a sprint. Gasps filled the crowds as Raze breached a line of guards with steel powered leap over them, before pulling his coins back, cutting at the guard’s hands and faces on their way back, and he grinned, feeling a wave of excitement. With another pull he wrenched the guard’s swords out of their hands and they flew off into the night. Raze advanced on them, flaring his pewter to go at an incredible speed, he swung a hook at one that knocked him to the ground, and then spun and brought his heel into another’s chest, sending him so far back he crashed against the far wall. He turned his attention back to the gallows and the mists swirled around him, the tassels of his mistcloak waving and dancing within them. The obligators flinched as he advanced towards them, after all they were bureaucrats not warriors. He burned brass and began to soothe away their other emotions, as well as the emotions of the crowd of skaa. Then he burned zinc and flared it, rioting the obligator’s fear, until one of them gave a short squeak of terror. Their fear made them slow, and Raze flew at them. With expert aim he sent his coins hammering at the ropes of the skaa’s nooses and they ropes split apart, freeing the skaa. The obligators went to run, but with another iron pull Raze brought a sword into each of his hands, and then he pushed them point first towards the obligators, spearing them through the chest. The crowd shrieked but Raze ignored them, advancing up the steps of the gallows, he pulled one of the swords out of the fallen obligators chest and used it to cut free each of the skaa, and pulled the bags from their heads. His eyes fixed on the young lady who’s bag he’d just taken off from her head. She was young, with tan skin and a slim build, with a bloody rag covering her eyes. She had black hair that was thick and went down to her shoulders. “Get up, you’re safe now.” He said, and he began soothing away at her fear and her worries. He turned to the other skaa prisoners and gestured into the city. “Run, there are people watching for you. They’ll take you somewhere safe. Go, now!” The skaa looked hesitant at first, but then they ran off. He turned back to the girl. “Can you see?” He asked. "Unlike me, stranger, you have eyes - use them! I can see no better than a mole rat." Galatea felt a strange sensation. She kept her emotions contained, after years of torture, abuse and conditioning, she had locked those feelings away and allowed them to wither. But now she felt something she hadn't ever known before - peace. She was no longer fighting her fear and pain, they were just... gone? That wasn't normal. This stranger wasn't normal. He had to be some kind of Misting, affecting her emotions like that. But it didn't matter, whatever he said, she wasn't safe. She would never be safe. “Fine, hold on.” He said and he grabbed hold of her firmly. Then he threw down his coins and steel pushed, pulling the coins with him in to the air as he bounded off, not so much flying as a series of arcing jumps through the city, disappearing in to the mist. When he reached a rooftop he put her down briefly and flared his tin, listening carefully to the barrage of loud noises around him. It was difficult to hone in on specific conversations without practice, when every noise got louder. Tin sure would be more useful if he could hone in on specific noises. “Come.” He said again as he grabbed her arm and pulled her off the edge of the roof, and they fell together to the ground below, Raze slowing their fall once more with bursting iron pushes. They landed with a tap and he released her once more. “I’m taking you to a safehouse. It’ll be a short stop, we’ll need to get out of Urteau after that stunt.” "There's no 'we', stranger." Galatea replied, feeling the air rush around her before they landed. She felt the mist cool around her, and she knew they were on the ground once more. She took a risk, and started walking. "There's only 'you' and 'I'. You saved me. I am leaving." Raze cocked his head to the side slightly and narrowed his eyes at the girl. Did she really plan on going it alone through the night without being able to see? “It’s Raze…my name, that is.” He said after her. “You don’t have to trust me, but come with me and I can get you food, let you get those injuries seen to. It’s too late for your vision but if those wounds get infected…well that’s a fresh new hell I can assure you. After that we can part ways if you still want to. Sound fair?” A part of her wanted to spit in his face and walk into the mists. But she didn't allow her emotions to control her any more. She knew, whether she liked it or not, that she was likely dead without this man's aid. It was foolish to refuse his offer, even if it was a trap - what was the alternative? "Very well, Raze, I can't fault your logic. I will accompany you for now. For dinner, if nothing else..." She smirked to herself, then she lost the brief smile, "I'm... Galatea." “You speak like a noble.” Raze said in response. “Well, sort of.” He came to her and took hold of her a final time. Then he pushed once more and they soared upwards, mists coiling around them as he flared his steel and they flew up further and faster, until Raze could see the whole of Urteau beneath him. His coins came up after him and then he let them fall, until finally they lurched as he slowed their fall with steel pushes, landing softly on the backstreet of the skaa tavern they had been using as a front. He tapped in a rhythmic pattern on the door, and then someone unbolted it from the other side and they were let in. Mraine greeted them both, and Raze stopped burning tin as he stepped into the well-lit room. The place was relatively bustling as members of their team were tending to the other injured skaa who had been escorted back there. “Is this the last one?” He asked, indicating to Galatea. “Looks like it. Get Telzin to have a look at her.” Raze suggested, before turning to Galatea. “Go with my friend Mraine, I’ll fetch you some food.” He said, and then he stalked away from them. --- --- --- Mraine took a long draw on his pipe as he examined the young waif that Raze had brought in. She looked scrawny in places, Raze was right to get her food. “Come on.” He said in his gruff voice, “Our medic is a nice guy, you’ll like him. Terris, real polite, like.” Galatea put a hand on Mraine's shoulder and allowed him to guide her. She didn't acknowledge his comment as she began asking question after question, "Where am I? Who are you? Who was he? Why did he save me? How did he save me?" "Don't worry about that just now." Mraine said gently. He led her into another room where another man was waiting by a table, chopping vegetables. He was a very tall man with tanned skin and a completely bald head. He wore a number of earrings and his arms were covered in bracers. He wore brightly coloured robes cut in downward pointing V patterns, the dress of the people of Terris. He smiled at her at first but it grew into a frown as he examined her. "Oh dear child..." the terrisman said as he began to clear the table. "what have they done to you?" "Enough." Galatea replied coarsely. "What are you doing?" She asked, hearing clutter quickly being moved. "Are you Terris? I've heard that accent before." She inclined her head, trying to understand her surroundings without the use of her vision. Sounds were mysterious clues she was desperately fumbling to grasp. “I would be surprised if you had not.” The terrisman replied, but he did not explain what he was doing. He called for assistance and some skaa women bustled in and began boiling water and getting out clean cloths and towels. “I understand that loss of sight will be distressing, as is your current circumstance, but I must ask that you please be still and let us work.” He gently touched Galatea on the sides of her face, turning her head from left to right as he examined her wounds. His frown deepened slightly though his expression was one of worry rather than frustration. “Very messy…all we can do is clean it up and apply fresh bandages I am afraid…” "Very well. If nothing can be done." Galatea touched at her cheeks, and gingerly felt up until she felt a sharp pain as her fingers probed over hewn flesh and she retreated. She had to remind herself - it was no good wallowing in self pity. What's done is done. The terrisman got to work cleaning the wound, apologizing softly as she winced when he dabbed at her eyes. He smiled softly at her even though she could not see him. “My name is Telzin.” He said, “I am sorry your owners have treated you so poorly. You are safe for now though, I know that must be hard to believe but it is still true.” Mraine sat on a stool in the corner with his arms folded. Watching the girl get treated, he couldn’t help but feel she was going to be a problem. He felt a twinge of guilt for feeling that, he had been kinder once. Years working for the rebellion had led him to responsibilities for a lot of lives, and having a blind girl with them during the escape was only going to slow them down. "Owner?" Galatea repeated the word back at Telzin, a touch of venom in her tone, "I don't have one." She winced as she felt liquid trickle into her eyes and recoiled. "Sorry..." She muttered, shuffling back into place. “No I am sorry.” Telzin said quickly as he continued dabbing her wound, “I did not mean to offend you, after all I too have once been seen as property. What I said was once true of us both, but I did not consider your feelings.” "You don't need to concern yourself with how I feel. I took my freedom today. I'll deal with my sight tomorrow." Galatea gently pulled Telzin's hands away once he had fastened fresh bandages about her eyes. "Thank you, Telzin. My name is Galatea." Then she hopped off the table and fumbled awkwardly as she was lifted into the air. Speechless, Galatea tried to voice her confusion but she was almost at the ceiling and she could no longer focus. "You don't need to concern yourself with how I feel. I took my freedom today. I'll deal with my sight tomorrow." Galatea gently pulled Telzin's hands away once he had fastened fresh bandages about her eyes. "Thank you, Telzin. My name is Galatea." Then she hopped off the table and stumbled forwards. "Ugh, get them off!" She snarled, falling to one knee under the weight of her iron collar and shackles, which suddenly felt five times heavier. She'd had days where it had been easier to carry her bonds, and a great many more where it had been difficult to move in them but never like this. Telzin frowned as he helped the girl up and one of the women helping came and took her arm. “Take the young lady upstairs and draw her a bath, get these shackles off of her and get her some clean clothes, please.” Telzin instructed to her. “Are you alright, Lady Galatea? Fatigue can take the strength from you quite suddenly at times.” He said to Galatea. "I am not a lady and you know this." She growled under the strain of the weight. After a few seconds, Galatea managed to stand completely upright though she could feel her legs wanting to give way. "I am fine." She gently removed the woman's hands from her and started the laborious trek up the stairs. Telzin sighed and turned to Mraine, “Another bitter one, suspicious too.” “She’ll see sense eventually, and even if she doesn’t…” He sighed and scratched at his head, “I’m sure she can be of some use despite her condition.” “Are you disappointed that she will not be another angry skaa to join your army?” Telzin asked plainly, and Mraine responded only with a scowl. Then he got off his stool and stalked off out of the room. --- --- --- --- Raze had gotten changed out of his mistcloak and had put on a pair of black trousers and boots, a simple white shirt and a brown waistcoat. He did his rounds, checking the smokers were rotating on schedule, and going over reports from tineye scouts. Finally he made his way to the tavern’s kitchen and procured some bay wraps, pockets of flatbread stuffed with rice and vegetables, and took them upstairs to the room that Galatea had been taken to. He reached the door and knocked twice on the frame. “Galatea? I have that food for you.” He said through the door. "Bring it in, thank you." Galatea returned to watching the woman from earlier, as she continued treating her, working a salve into Galatea's bruised and scarred wrists. Raze entered and walked over to where they were sitting. “Thank you, Ranette.” Raze said with a nod at the woman, then turned to Galatea. “How does it feel to be waited on for a change?” He asked, and placed the plate on her lap. "Unnecessary but not unappreciated." She replied simply. Then picked up a wrap and ravenously devoured it. “Oh this is necessary, we need to keep our people healthy.” Raze replied, “The nobility have the right idea, when you’re dealing with big operations you need a lot of help workers.” “You pay me though.” Ranette added, eyeing him for a moment, “I’m also a soother, dear. A better one than him, too. No wonder you were so hostile when you first came in.” “I didn’t want her panicking!” Raze protested, holding his hands up in surrender. “Soothing takes a light touch, something you wouldn’t know the meaning of.” Ranette rolled her eyes at him. "If you pull at my emotions, I'll know." Galatea cut through their conversation. "There was a lot of things I couldn't control, but my emotions was not one of them. The Master was like you," She nodded at Ranette, "And you." She added, taking another bite of food. Mouth full, she mumbled, "He couldn't stop me, no matter how hard he tried, and I felt him, stabbing around, in here," She tapped the side of her head with her thumb, "One last indiscretion..." “Relax no one’s soothing you.” Ranette replied, “Some soothers are like that but not in our crew. It’s different in the field, of course. We’ve got to use our allomancy to survive, you know?” “Not just survive, Ranette.” Raze added, “To live.” “So you don’t like emotional allomancy? I think you’ll find you’re not alone there.” Ranette said, “Although I’m pretty good at soothing if I do say so myself. Wouldn’t be any use to this lot if I wasn’t.” “Well someone needs to do the laundry…” Raze said with a smirk and Ranette wrapped him soundly on the arm. “Sorry.” He added after. “So do you have any questions?” Ranette asked, “About us? Or what comes next?” "You want something from me, that much is clear... Soothers... Allomancy... Is that what the Master was? An Allomancer? What makes you different from him...?" “We’re what shouldn’t exist.” Raze explained, “half-skaa who have inherited allomancy from our noble blood. If the Lord Ruler’s laws were followed then we wouldn’t exist. Allomancers in the skaa population, why do you think the Lord Ruler wouldn’t want that?” "I'm sorry, I know very little about Allomancy. Only that it has power..." Galatea set aside her empty plate and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I can explain it to you in depth some time if you’re interested.” Raze replied, folding his arms. “There are 10 allomantic metals, and some people can ingest and burn one of these metals to tap in to a power, most can only burn one metal, and a very small number can burn all of them, like myself. Allomancy is the Lord Ruler’s gift to the nobility, and so we use that gift to resist his rule, and to overthrow the nobility. Of course, we’re a small crew designed for specialist missions. The Skaa Rebellion could use any help it can get, and it can provide you with a free life. It won’t always be easy, but it will definitely be free.” He watched the young girl chew on his words. Skaa didn’t always react the same to the prospect of freedom. Some were excited, others nervous. He had met skaa who denied or even feared their freedom, too indoctrinated by their enslavement. That was why Galatea was interesting. If her actions were any indication, she would fight for that simple right. “You killed the nobleman who kept you in chains.” Raze said matter of factly, “I’ve killed many orders more, for far less. Tell me, how did you do it?” "I hit him..." Her reply fell flat as even as the words left her lips she found herself reliving the experience. It was traumatic. But, upon looking back, she realized what she had done. She had more than hit him. Her fist had passed through his head as though it was made of little more than bread and twigs, not muscle and bone. “You hit him?” Raze asked, raising an eyebrow. The girl didn’t look like she was strong enough to hit anybody hard enough to kill them. Then again, looks could be deceiving. Some people could make themselves stronger. “…were both of your parents skaa?” "I never knew my parents..." Galatea mumbled a response but she was focused, out of curiosity or her inability to pull herself away from that horrifying experience. "I hit him... so hard..." “…You could be a thug.” He said then quickly added, “an allomancer who burns pewter. It enhances your physical attributes, makes you fast and strong.” "Pewter is a metal... And I ingest it, somehow burn it and I become fast and strong..." Galatea thought this over. "But when did I swallow this metal?" “Sometimes Allomancers can burn trace metals from the water. Pewter is commonly used for bowls and cutlery.” Raze explained, “There’s a simple test for it.” Raze reached in to his pocket and produced a vial of liquid with metal flakes. “This solution has the primary 8 metals allomancers use in it. Drink it, and see if you can burn it.” He handed it out for her but Ranette swiped it from his hands. “And if she can’t burn it you’ll give her metal poisoning. Those metals can kill you if you don’t burn them off.” “If she burns pewter then she’ll be more likely to live through it until we sort it out.” Raze replied testily. “IF she burns pewter, Raze.” Ranette bit back with a slight anger to her tone. “We’re waiting here for our rotation to escape Urteau without being noticed. When we get the call we’re going to need to move quickly, we can’t have her being sick as well as…” she hesitated. "I'm starting to realise the only things the Master taught me were those useful to him." Galatea interjected after noting the half dozen words she didn't understand. Questions for later. "Give me the vial. If I need to drink it to be of use then I will. I can't expect to navigate this world on my own. It's... Alien to me..." Ranette, however, tossed the vial back to Raze. “You don’t need allomancy to help.” Ranette assured her, “But I’ll fetch you one of the vials our thugs use, a small dose. No sense injuring yourself over it. Isn’t that right, Raze?” She gaze him a pointed look. “Uh…right.” Raze said, scratching his head. Then he turned as Mraine entered the room without knocking. “Shifts are changing, Rudy thinks we’ll be moving this lot in 5 hours. I suggest you get some sleep before then.” He said, and turned back around to leave. “Well that settles it.” Ranette said as she began to shoo Raze out of the room. “Get some rest, Galatea.” “When we say it’s time to go…just do as instructed until we get safe again. Sleep well.” Raze said, and they both left Galatea alone.
  10. Mistborn Alterna

    Prologue Ash was falling from the sky on the morning when the Obligators came to Lord Aradel’s plantation in the Northern Dominance. As was typical during these visits, Lord Aradel had sent his children away on a day trip so as not to bother the Obligators. Lord Fenris Aradel stood surveying the fields around his stately home, where frail-looking workers, skin stained grey from the ash, toiled at the crops. He was a short man who had grown quite stout over the last couple of years. His dark brown hair was thinning on the top and combed to the side. The sky above was a wash of grey ash as it always was, and through that ash a burning, red sun shone overhead. The skaa workers harvested grey plants in fields that stretched on for about half a mile, with patrolling taskmasters monitoring them closely, whips in hand. Beyond was the distant city of Urteau, and the single Ashmount of the Northern Dominance, Kalling, a black mountain that spewed forth soot and ash into the atmosphere. Below the ashmount were miles and miles of untamed forests and valleys, and due to the mountainous areas of the region, it was one of the few places in the world where wild sheep could be found. Aradel did not trade in sheep, however. He cast his eyes over the skaa Workers, in his eyes they were a shuffling, lazy lot. The only real advantage to them was the shear amount of them, and they tended to work faster for a brief period after receiving a few lashes of the whip. They were slaves, but they were not his slaves. They were, of course, the property of the Lord Ruler. The nobility were simply loaned the skaa by their almighty leader, but they were given a great deal of liberties. They could beat them, and even kill them if they so desired. They could even take them to their beds, as long as they took certain precautions afterwards. Lord Aradel watched the skaa for what seemed like hours, until finally a voice snapped him out of his trance. “Lord Aradel…” The voice had a pompous, nasal quality to it. Lord Aradel turned to find the an Obligator standing behind him to his right, with a companion stood next to him. “Obligator Marwin.” Lord Aradel replied with a polite smile, “You have concluded your audit?” “Indeed.” Marwin replied. The man was average height and slim, and entirely bald. Like all Obligators he had a series of tattoos around his eyes, mostly black but some parts red, the significance and meaning both unknown to Lord Aradel. He was dressed in dark robes with pointed shoulders and wide sleeves, with gold filagery on the collar and sleeves. “My inspection on behalf of the Canton of Resource finds nothing of concern within your holdings, Lord Aradel…” For a moment Lord Aradel felt a wash of relief fall over him, but the Obligator continued talking. “However…my colleague from the Canton of Inquisition has voiced…concerns.” Lord Aradel turned his attention to the Obligator’s companion. The man behind him was tall and dressed in black robes, much more loose fitting and plain than the Obligator, with a dark hood over his head. The man raised his head slightly to reveal a similarly bald face with tattoos and markings around the eyes, however, this man did not have eyes. In place was two flat discs of metal. Lord Aradel knew that they were actually the flat ends of two spikes that had been speared through the head of the man, and the points stuck out the back of his head. He was a Steel Inquisitor, a terror of the Steel Ministry that made Obligators look like cute puppies. “Concerns…yes.” The Inquisitor said, his voice was raspy and cold, “Tell me Lord Aradel…how old are your children?” “My children?” Aradel replied, trying to hold back the nervousness in his voice, “Seta is 18 and her brother Venrin is only 12.” “Yes…and you have had how many wives?” The Inquisitor asked, his expressionless face causing Lord Aradel to shiver. “…Just one, she died last year.” Aradel explained. “Lady Marewen Aradel, previously of House Tekiel. Died of a sickness if I recall, a weakness in the blood. It is a hereditary disease that only affects women. It has other known symptoms…including infertility. Did you know this?” “I…I did not.” Aradel lied. “But it can’t always be the case, we have two children after all.” “Lord Aradel…let us not play games.” The Inquisitor said, “Bedding skaa is not a crime. Your business is otherwise in order here, you will not receive any personal punishment for this incident.” The Inquisitor cast his eyes behind Aradel, who immediately turned to see a horse-drawn carriage returning to the manor. “Your children, however….they should never have been allowed to be born in the first place. We will have to rectify that.” “No…wait, my wife, she desperately wanted children! But she knew! She knew she couldn’t conceive, what else were we to do?” Aradel looked pained. “Lord Aradel…” The Inquisitor took a step forward and Aradel recoiled in fear. “Step aside, or I will execute you for interfering with the responsibilities of The Canton of Inquisition.” Aradel hesitated. He loved his children, and he had loved his wife. He turned back to the approaching carriage, and he knew that he could not hope to stop a Steel Inquisitor. His children, he began to realize, were already dead. In that sense, was there really any need to sacrifice himself too? He winced at the thought, but then without another word, he stepped aside. The Steel Inquisitor smirked, and then stepped past him, slowly making his way through the fields towards the carriage. --- --- --- --- Venrin barely noticed the rocking of the carriage, he was so immersed in his book. The young boy was dressed in a white shirt with brown waistcoat and black trousers and shoes. His dark brown hair was combed neatly in a side parting and his keen blue eyes were transfixed to the page. His sister, Seta, sat next to him staring out of the window. She was a thin, beautiful young woman with dark hair like his own, tied back in a complex braid that was hanged over her shoulder. She was dressed in a simple, dark gown that wasn’t very fashionable, but she had insisted on wearing these sorts of things, something that was more fitting and easier to move around in. Where other young ladies wore heels and slips, Seta wore boots. “The ashfalls are quite beautiful at times.” She said, “Perhaps you would notice this too if you ever paid attention to your surroundings, Ven.” “Hm?” Venrin gave her a half glance and then went back to his book. “We’re almost home, I can look around here any time. This book is at a good part though, the hero just killed the leader of the skaa rebels and saved the damsel.” “Skaa rebels? How silly, Ven. Skaa aren’t organized enough to properly rebel, and they wouldn’t dare kidnap a noble lady.” “It’s really exciting though…the hero is a Coinshot, he’s so daring-“ “What is…” Seta interrupted him as she looked out of the window of the carriage. The horses stopped as they had reached the manor. Seta got out and Venrin closed his book and followed her. As they stepped outside Venrin gasped, spotting the Steel Inquisitor walking towards them. Venrin felt a chill as he stared into those cold discs of metal. “Seta…” He said worriedly. “Ven…get back in the carriage,” Seta said, her tone becoming serious. She was holding a small vial in her hands. Where had she been hiding that? As he wondered that, she uncorked the vial and swallowed the liquid contents of it. “I mean it, get back in the carriage, now.” Then Seta suddenly shot forward with immense speed. She closed the gap between them and the Inquisitor and let out a primal scream as she attacked him with a flurry of punches and kicks. Venrin gasped, watching his petite framed sister flying like a legendary warrior, showing power and speed that didn’t match her frame. The Inquisitor didn’t seem phased by this, however, and he matched her speed with relative ease, dodging her blows and expertly countering with powerful blows. Despite taking blows to her ribs and face, Seta kept going. Apparently, her resilience was otherworldly too. “Seta…you’re an allomancer.” He whispered in revelation to himself. The Steel Inquisitor apparently grew tired of the dance, and he suddenly stretched out his robed arms and coins flew through the air, cutting at Seta like little knives. She gasped in pain but kept at him, stopping only to call back to Venrin; “Run!” Venrin was shocked into movement, and he suddenly turned and ran away from the fields, back towards the open road. The Inquisitor knocked Seta to the side and then he sprinted for Venrin, moving at an incredible speed. With a thrust of his arms he had drawn his coins back to his hands, and then he pushed them towards Venrin. He felt objects whizz past him like arrows, and then he felt a cutting, sharp pain in his arm, and then in his leg as the coins cut into him. He cried out in pain, terror dominating his mind. He kept running and running but he could not outrun the Inquisitor. The monster reached him and grabbed hold of him by the back of his shirt, and picked him up as if he weighed no more than a loaf of bread. He screamed in horror as he got a closer look at the Inquisitor’s face. His pale, sunken expression, his metal discs for eyes, and he wore a slight grimace, one that made it seem like the creature was in near constant pain or discomfort. “I admire your resolve, child.” The Inquisitor said, “But you cannot run from me.” “NO!” Seta screamed as she reached them. She moved with more speed than she had before, and the Inquisitor seemed surprised by the sheer amount of power she had brought to this next altercation. Her desire to protect Venrin had sent Seta into a rage, and she lashed out at the Inquisitor, wrenching Venrin from his grasp, tearing the boy’s shirt in the process. The fighting became a blur as the fear gripped Venrin and he became dazed and confused. Distant shouting from the plantation shook him from his confusion, as a drumming noise came closer and closer. Horse hooves hammered across the plains, and as Seta struggled with the Inquisitor, a skaa worker on a stolen horse came bounding towards Venrin, his arm outstretched to grab hold of the boy. Venrin reached up in desperation, and the skaa gripped his arm and hoisted him on to the back of the horse, riding away from the battle. “My sister!” Venrin screamed, “No we have to save her too!” “Sorry boy.” The Skaa replied, his expression pained. “No one survives a Steel Inquisitor. Our only hope is to run…” “No! We have to go back for her!” Venrin demanded. This man, what had spurred him to act? He was a slave, and Venrin’s father was their master. They were forced to work hard all day, they were beaten if they didn’t work fast enough, and yet this man had shown bravery, and had saved him. “I’m sorry…” The skaa said, his expression still pained but also resigned. “We can never go back…” Venrin turned around to look back, and he saw his sister broken and beaten on the ground. The Steel Inquisitor had her by the hair, her face a bloody mess. Then with a final smash of his fist, he knocked Seta to the ground. She did not move again. Pain surged through Venrin, a great despair that seemed to rip his insides apart. He felt like something inside of him had been broken, like a snap of a branch from the rest of the tree. Mistborn Alterna: Breaking An Empire That was the day he had snapped. It had been over 20 years since that day, and Venrin Aradel was a ghost. In his place stood a man in his mid-30s. His dark brown hair was longer and swept back. His chubby child-like features had been replaced by sharp hawkish ones. His blue eyes were just as brilliant, but they seemed colder and less innocent. He was clean-shaven, and wore a single bronze stud in his right ear. He had become a lean, muscular man with a strong jaw and a confident posture. He was wearing a black shirt, black trousers and black boots under his cloak. The cloak itself looked like it was made of ribbons of dark-grey cloth, with a dark hood which he pulled over his head. A Mistcloak; a signature attire of the rare and legendary allomancers known as Mistborn. The tassels of the cloak were about an inch to an inch and a half wide, all a dark grey, and perfectly fitted to reach the bottom of his feet, but not to drag along behind him. The cloak was designed to conceal him in the murky mists that covered the land every evening. It was also a sign to common folk and guards to stay out of their way, as Mistborn were above mere mortal men, above even other mistings. The boy who had been rescued by the bravery and kindness of a single skaa had died the moment he had snapped. The two escapees had fled to the mountains where they had found other skaa who took them in. The skaa man, Mraine, had lied to the other skaa there. He couldn’t tell them that Venrin was a Nobleman, for they would have surely killed him on the spot. Instead Mraine had told the rebellion that Venrin was his son, and that his name was Raze. And since that day, he had become Raze. To all who knew him he was a half-skaa, his mother a noblewoman who had taken a skaa lover in Mraine, who had fled when the Steel Ministry had come for them. Mraine, it had transpired, was himself a half-skaa. He was also an allomancer, one who burned copper, also known as a Smoker. His allomantic power had no use in a fight and so he couldn’t have helped Raze’s sister. Burning copper created an invisible cloud, called a coppercloud, within an area around a Smoker, and within that area allomantic abilities could not be detected. Of course only a Seeker, an allomancer who burned bronze could detect allomancy. However, as Raze had come to learn, all Steel Inquisitors could use every metal, and many Obligators were also Seekers. Raze’s sister, Seta, had been a Thug, an allomancer who burned pewter to become physically stronger, faster, and more resilient. They were just 3 abilities of a total of 10 allomantic metals; Iron, Steel, Bronze, Copper, Zinc, Brass, Tin, Pewter, Gold and Atium. The rules of allomancy were simple enough; only those with noble blood could become allomancers, which meant no skaa should be able to use alomancy, as the Lord Ruler had decreed that any noble who beds a skaa should kill them afterwards. Yet laws, of course, were often broken. Mistings were the most common allomancers, people who could only burn one metal. Skaa Mistings were more rare, but they did exist, although they kept their abilities secret. Rarer still were Mistborn, even among the nobility the likelihood of someone being able to use all the allomantic arts was exceptionally rare. As for skaa Mistborn, Raze was fairly certain that they did not exist. Of course, he was now living the life of a skaa, and so perhaps he was the first. Sort of. Raze had learned quickly that the skaa were not as slow witted and dull as the Steel Ministry has led them to be believe. The Canton of Orthodoxy had taught religion to the nobility, but as far as Raze remembered, their teaching consisted of ‘we will handle the religion, you just do as we say and all will be well’. They had been taught some things though. They were taught that the Lord Ruler, the Immortal God Emperor, the Sliver of Infinity, had saved the world from The Deepness over a millennia ago. The Lord Ruler had gifted the nobility, the sons and daughters of his trusted allies, with the power of allomancy. The skaa, on the other hand, were forbidden from having religion. They were forbidden from having much of a life at all really. Many skaa worked as slaves for noble houses, and perhaps a luckier few with specialist skills could have jobs as tradesman or merchants, but only as far as the Lord Ruler allowed. They were his property, no matter what, that fact was made abundantly clear. While the vast majority of skaa lived this life, a small few had managed to subvert the Lord Ruler’s law. First there was the thieving crews. Some skaa had managed to make themselves very rich through a series of cons, heists and burglaries. The others were the rebellion, men and women who had fled civilization to a secret location in the mountains, where they hid and plotted the unthinkable; to overthrow the Final Empire. It was considered a fantasy to most, but it was a fantasy that Raze had latched on to. Spending time with the skaa had taught him that they were just like him. The nobility turned a blind eye to these people who thought and felt in precisely the same way as they did. And he had been saved by the kindness of a man who was a slave to his family. A man who Raze would not have blamed if he had simply watched him die with a smile on his face. He owed this man and his people. He didn’t know how, but he was going to find a way to do it. He would kill the Lord Ruler and bring the skaa their freedom. “Daydreaming again?” Mraine asked. They were stood in a backroom of a skaa tavern in Urteau, the capital city of the Northern Dominance. Mraine no longer wore the rags he had when he had worked on the plantation. He had gained weight over the years, he wasn’t fat but he looked healthier and more well fed now. His hair had greyed and thinned, and was combed back over his liver-spotted head. Despite turning 60 this year the man was keen-eyed and confident. He was dressed in a brown longcoat, with a simple olive-coloured shirt underneath and some tan trousers with grey suspenders. He was smoking a pipe, the tobacco smelled spicy and a little sweet. “Just visiting the past…I guess it's being here in the Northern Dominance again.” Raze replied, his voice was deeper and had a cool confidence in it. “When was the last time we were here?” “8 years ago. We were recruiting for the rebellion, and you disappeared.” Mraine replied with a shrug, “Two days later you return, burnt out from pewter drag and ready to collapse.” “Yes…” Raze replied, staring out of the window, “I went to see my father.” “For the last time, apparently.” Mraine said with a nod, “The ministry discovered his corpse a few days later.” “No great loss.” Raze replied coldly, and finally, he turned and locked eyes with Mraine. “Now his heir runs the plantation. New wife, new son. It was like what had happened to us was just a bad dream for him. Well, at least my half-brother treats the skaa better. Even pays them wages.” “You know…those who knew the Aradel heir would say he experienced quite the change of heart after his father died. Apparently, he relished skaa suffering, would even lash them himself at times.” “Well, sometimes a little brotherly love can go a long way…” Raze replied, and he went back to staring out of the window. “So why are we here, Mraine? You’ve got me all dressed up for the occasion, so what’s happening?” “Public executions are happening tonight.” Mraine replied, “All skaa who have defied their masters. One even killed a noble, apparently.” “I like this man already.” Raze said with a smirk. “Woman.” Mraine corrected. “Anyway…skaa with that rebellious spirit are rare. I’ve got our tineyes and seekers scouting the city. Reports indicate that there’s something going down at the Conventical of Seran, all the Inquisitors have been making their way there. The Obligators are dealing with the executions. Security is low, just the usual guards to keep the masses under control. No one really expects any noble mistings to act out against skaa executions.” “So they definitely won’t be expecting a Mistborn, then.” “Exactly,” Mraine said. “Just sit tight here and I’ll keep us hidden. Relax a little until the mists roll in, then you go do what you do best.” “I hate waiting…” Raze grumbled. The streets of Urteau bustled with activity outside. It would be another few hours before nightfall came, and then the mists would roll in. Then he could be free again. Free to run, and soar, and to kill.
  11. Bloodlines

    Inside a shady nightclub in Shibuya, Tokyo, heavy bass rumbled through the thick stone walls. A dancefloor packed with youthful revelers was illuminated through piercing, colourful lights and lasers which cut through the darkness like a knife through butter. Attractive young bodies in vibrant clothing, skin-tight dresses swayed and grinded to the rhythmic bass and delighted at the synthesized parade of trance sounds and electro beats. A female vocalist sang a song about memories as jets of dry ice were sent hissing across the room, weaving through the lights and the people like a fog. Around the dance floor were low tables and luxurious leather chairs where groups of men and women shouting at each other over the music, laughing and enjoying drinks. One man stood out sitting with his entourage, for he wasn’t Japanese. He was a pale man, with a gaunt, skinny frame. His hands, arms, neck and chest were covered in various tattoos and he was dressed in a pair of red Dr. Martens, grey, skinny jeans with a black belt and custom metal buckle that read: “F*CK OFF”, in English. He had no shirt on and his eyes were hidden behind a pair of mirror-lensed aviators. His hair was short, cut high and tight round the sides, the top was longer but tied back in a top knot, with a little tail. The man, who couldn’t have looked a day over 30, was smoking a cigarette that had an aroma that was certainly not tobacco. He was transfixed on the end as he inhaled, watching the crimson light claw closer to his lips, devouring all in it’s path, hungry, relentless, and leaving only ash in its wake. “Adrian!” A man yelled over the music as he sat next to him. He turned to the young man and leaned back in his chair. He pondered about the way people here said his name, which always sounded more like ‘Ey Dorian’ to him. He exhaled the smoke he was holding in his lungs and pulled down his shades momentarily to see him with his own eyes. Recognition followed. “Ah, right, didn’t recognize ya there, mate!” He said in English, “I’m too fucked mate, apologies. It’s my fault, eh.” “Do you…have any…” The other man seemed to be struggling with his English. Adrian held up two fingers to acknowledge that he understand, however. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, clear bag with 5 yellow pills in it. Amphetamines were the popular choice here, which Adrian figured was fiar enough but he’d always been more partial to cocaine. He offered them to the man, held between his two outstretched fingers. The man nodded and took them gratefully, then went to reach for his wallet. He produced a handful of Yen and slipped them to Adrian who pocketed them without a word. “Pass?” He said to the young man and offered him his joint. The man smiled and went to take it, but then hesitated as something caught his eye. He stared off behind Adrian, and then quickly began to look nervous. He stood up suddenly and disappeared into the crowd. Arian frowned at that, he felt it a bit of an unusual reaction to him, but once again realization dawned as another man tapped Adrian on the shoulder. This man stood out, much like Adrian did, but for a different reason. He was a broad shouldered Japanese man, dressed in a black suit and tie with a white shirt, with tattoos barely poking out from under his collar. The man looked mean, and definitely dangerous. “Ah…” Adrian said with a nod, “Y’alright there Kazuo san?” He asked, but Kazuo did not reply. Instead he pointed up to the second floor of the building, away from all the patrons, to a windowed room overhead. “Boss man wants to see me, eh?” Adrian asked, and he stood up, placing his joint in the ashtray. He picked up his T-shirt and put it on; it was a black t-shirt that had a white logo of two acoustic guitars crossed at the neck, with lettering reading: ‘Johnny Cash – Genuine American Rebel’ on it. Kazuo walked, and Adrian followed him. Before long they had exited from the main nightclub area and all that could be heard of the music was the distant thumping of bass. Bright lights greeted them along with a decidedly less visually appealing corridor. They moved in silence, passing other men in black suits as they went up some stairs and then knocked politely on a door. A voice on the other side indicated for them to come in, and they did. The room’s walls were the colour of slate, and the room was decorated with expensive, minimalist furniture. Inside there were two more goons and a third man who was older, perhaps in his mid-50s. This man was sitting down, and as Adrian came in her locked eyes with him and then offered the seat next to him. “Sit.” The man said in English. “Yeah, alright.” Adrian said with a smile and he walked over and sat down opposite the man, a glass coffee table between them. A decanter of whisky sat on the table, and a glass had been poured for each of them. The older man held his hand out to permit Adrian to drink. He took the glass happily and downed it’s contents in one gulp, feeling the amber liquid burn his throat on the way down. “Do you know why I have called you up here?” The man asked. “Not really.” Adrian replied, “Pretty sure it’s not my birthday though, so I can rule that out.” “I took you on because you are a foreigner, and people here feel more comfortable buying drugs from a foreigner.” “Well I wouldn’t really say they are comfortable but it’s a lot less scary than asking you lot for drugs, right?” Adrian said with a grin, “I mean you’re a pretty scary lot, aren’t you?” “Do I scare you, Adrian?” “A bit, yeah.” Adrian admitted, “But I’ve never really been described as the brave sort so I’m probably not the best person to ask, Mister Tatsuyuki. “Plus I’m not exactly sober.” “Sober enough…” Tatsuyuki replied, “We allow you to indulge yourself on our product, provided you keep making us money, and you take your cut like everyone else. If you were to take more than your cut…if you were to steal from me, that would be a problem. Do you have anything to say?” Adrian leaned back in the chair, and there was a pause as he thought about it. They definitely knew. He’d gotten greedy, had kept money aside, hidden it away from them when he was dropping off his takings. In retrospect, stealing from the Yakuza was never a particularly genius plan, but then again he’d never been all that smart. “Don’t know what you’re talking about mate.” He said finally with a shrug, “But I’m sure that whatever’s bothering you, well, we can sort it out with a good chat, eh?” “Who do you think you are talking to?” Tatsuyuki said, and he got up from his chair and began walking to the back of this room, “I have indulged your relative lack of respect since you are a young, unenlightened foreigner. You have thus far shown little appreciation of our culture.” “Hey now that’s not fair!” Adrian said, getting up as well, “I appreciate the hell out of this culture, y’know, I love all the Pokémon games, and don’t get me started on Hatsune Miku, she’s just fab is she not? Cute too, well, for a cartoon anyway.” “Urusei!” Tatsuyuki snapped, suddenly allowing anger in to his voice. He continued berating Adrian in Japanese and as he reached the far wall he picked up katana that was sitting on a stand on a mantelpiece. “Do you understand honour, even a little, gaijin?” He asked as he began to approach Adrian once more. “I hope you’re not gonna ask me to do the hari kari shite, are ya?” Adrian asked. “Aitsu o tsukamaero!” Tatsuyuki barked as an order to his men, and the two goons advanced on Adrian, who spun around to face them, holding his hands out placatingly. “Now lads don’t be so hasty, eh?” He said with a nervous grin, “Let’s not go doing something we regret, hm?” The two men went to grab him, but Adrian avoided the first’s lunge and backed off, his tone more frantic now. “Hey listen, listen! I’m telling ya, I don’t want to hurt ya now. Let’s just settle down eh?” The second man came at him and grabbed him by the wrist, wrenching it behind his back and twisting it hard, causing him to cry out. The other goon grabbed Adrian’s other side and collectively they forced him to his knees, and held him there. He tried to summon some strength, but it had been so long since he had used it. Plus he wasn’t sure the last time he was entirely sober, and he was pretty far gone on various chemicals now. “This…this is for those who are honorable.” Tatsuyaki said, indicating to the katana. One of the men held Adrian’s head up so he could look at Tatsuyaki. “You are a pitiful little thief, and you do not deserve to taste this steel. You get the easy way out.” And then Tatsuyaki pulled out a gun and pointed it at Adrian’s head. “Oh…fffuck.” Adrian managed, staring at the outstretched arm holding the gun at him. “Look…if you’re gonna kill me I would really suggest the sword, mate. If ya cut me head off ya might have a chance.” “Be silent, your time is up you little punk” Tatsuyaki said in Japanese, which Adrian had understood quite clearly. Then there was a loud bang and his ears began ringing like bells. He felt something hit his face, the floor perhaps. His vision faded to white, and he could hear the muffled sound of the men talking, and that distant rumble of bass that had likely masked the sound of the gunshots to anyone in the club down below. “Clean this up.” Tatsuyaki said, as he picked up his glass of whisky and sipped from it. One of his subordinates nodded and left the room to get some help. The other man knelt down at Adrian’s side and began to haul his corpse up off the floor. He got the pale man up off the floor, and was holding him tight against his chest, when suddenly the corpse moved, and Adrian suddenly was the one gripping hold of him. His shades had come off and in the bright light of the room his amber eyes blazed, his pupils slitted like a cat’s. His mouth opened to a maw of gleaming, serrated, razor sharp teeth like that of a monster shark. He clamped his jaws down on the man’s throat and gnashed furiously. The man screamed but it soon became a gurgle as Adrian tore his throat out, snarling like a feral animal as he guzzled down his blood hungrily. “What….are…are you a ghoul!?” Tatsuyuki cried as he pointed the gun at Adrian once more. Adrian dropped the lifeless corpe of the man he had feasted on, and turned his narrow eyes towards Tatsuyuki, and when he spoke he did so in perfect Japanese, even with a regional kansai dialect. “I warned ya…” He said, and he paused to shiver. Fresh blood coursing through him was a particularly intense high, made you feel stronger than any cocaine would, and the intense pleasure was better than any amphetamine, better than heroin, and he would know. He’d had quite a lot of heroin over the years. “G-get back, Ghoul!” Tatsuyuki yelled, and he opened fire on Adrian, firing again and again until the magazine was empty and the gun just clicked. Adrian looked down at the holes in his shirt where he had been riddled with bullets, and then looked back up at Tatsuyuki with a hurt expression. “Just ‘cause I don’t die doesn’t mean it’s ain’t sore, ya know?” He advanced towards Tatsuyaki. “And I ain’t no Ghoul. I told ya didn’t I? I’m a vegetarian!” “But…then what…?” “I like drugs, Tatsuyuki san. Love ‘em, I admit it. Somethin’ of an addict. Just so happens though….that human blood is the best drug goin’ for guys like me. Now, see…” He held up his blood covered hand and pointed his finger at Tatsuyuki chastisingly. “What ya failed to grasp is that the reason I take so many drugs is because it helps me not consume the one I really love. But when you got and blow me to bits like this, you went and triggered my healin’ didn’t ya? Now I’m stone cold sober, in a lot of pain, and everythin’ has a price, includin’ my immortality. Bet yer wishin’ you’d cut my head off now, hm?” With a bit of resolve mustering in him, Tatsuyuki threw his gun to the ground and drew the katana from it’s saba and with a warrior cry he ran at Adrian. The vampire smiled a grin full of bloody fangs, and as Tatsuyuki swung the blade he side stepped it with inhuman speed and grace, then he plucked the sword out of Tatsuyuki’s hands with effortless strength, and tossed it away. Then his other hand clamped around Tatsuyuki’s throat, his finger nails had hardened and became pointed claws, that pierced into the skin of Tatsuyuki’s neck. “16 years….not a drop of blood. Then ya had to go an’ fuck all that up, didn’t ya?” Adrian snarled and then he savaged at Tatsuyuki. Like a starved feral beast he ripped the Yakuza boss to shreds, his claws and fangs tearing him limb from limb, relieving him of his organs, scattering his flesh and bone across the floor, all the while blood sprayed everywhere, coating the window that looked out on to the nightclub from on high. Adrian’s memories of the event grew hazy as the blood frenzy consumed him. Specifics of the even were lost. There was only blood, and violence. For a while he swam in the sea of his dark, primal nature. When he finally emerged to the surface once more, he was no longer in the Yakuza den. He was in his shitty little apartment. At some point he had showered and ditched his blood-soaked clothing. Somewhere along the line his human side had seen sense and had ditched the blood for safer options. Adrian stared down at three empty bottles of whisky, and a fourth that was almost finished. Three lines of cocaine were chopped up and set out on the counter. He took the rolled up 10,000 yen note in his hand and then he snorted each line, one after the other. With each line he was given a sudden jolt of reality that brought his consciousness front and centre. He looked around the room, rubbing at his burning nostrils. He had money, but not a lot. His clothes were hastily packed in a duffle bag, and his phone was charging on a stand by his bed, a futon on the floor. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. Then he picked up his duffel bag and went to zip it shut, and noted that the katana Tatsuyuki had threatened him with was nestled in among his clothes. “Well…at least I got a souvenir.” He said to himself. He left the apartment in a hurry, and ran down the stairs in such a rush that he wasn’t paying attention to the windows. When he opened the doors to go outside he instinctively froze and stepped back. The bright sunshine of early morning greeted him on the street outside. He lingered in the door there for a moment, his normal looking eyes returned to narrow slits as the light him them. He covered them with his shades and then took a deep breath. Then Adrian the Vampire stepped out into the sun. It’s heat prickled on his skin, but did nothing more outwardly. While there was once a time where the sun would have burned him to ash, this had not been the case for more than half a century now. However, moving in daylight was no picnic for him. His keen senses and supernatural healing seemed to stop working when he walked in the daytime. And so all of a sudden the liquor and drugs hit him almost as powerfully as they would a normal, mortal human. He felt dizzy, and he was sweating, yet he kept getting cold shivers. He became disoriented as he moved through the streets of Shinjuku. A modicum of sense came back to him as he ducked into the subway and rode a train to Tokyo Central, and managed to shamble through enough conversation with the ticket lady and the man at the station’s shop to score himself a bottle of sake and a ticket on the Shinkansen to Osaka. As he settled down on the train, he got to drinking the bottle of sake and pulled a denim jacket over his head, in an attempt to get some sleep through the daytime journey. It took a long time, but sleep did take him eventually. Sleep, for a vampre, was not filled with dreams. Instead sleep was a cold, dark embrace. While it brought him rest, it was not the same comforting experience that he had once remembered it to be. And so not long after he felt his consciousness fading, he was suddenly awake again. It had been hours, and he had awoken to a headache that was surely a sign that he was far too sober. The train had pulled into a station, and the tannoy indicated that it was Shin Osaka Station. With a grown Adrian grabbed his things and hauled himself up and off of the train. He made his way quickly through the station, which he noted had changed quite a bit since his last visit to Osaka. When had that been? 20 years ago? More? It didn’t matter especially. He knew where he needed to go. He took a moment to be incredulous at the inconsistency of his ancient brain’s memory. He had forgotten more languages than most people could speak, including his native Romanian, but for some reason had managed to hold on to English, Spanish, French and Japanese, and specifically with a kansai dialect. Bonkers. And he even remembered he needed to get to Namba Station to get to where he was going. Yet he could not remember his own mother and father. He could remember that he loved his mother, and that he had absolutely no love for his father, but for the life of him he hadn’t a clue why. The journey through the subway to Namba was a brief one, only a quarter of an hour at most. When he reached Namba station he went to the bathroom and straigtened himself out a bit. He was wearing a sleeveless, black T-shirt with a picture of Godzilla; the old kaiju rubber suit one, not the weird Mathew Broderick one. He had kept his Dr. Martens on and had changed to a pair of blue, denim jeans that had been cut at the knees to make them shorts. After that he begrudgingly made his way out of the station, and back in to direct sunlight. The disorientation wasn’t quite so intense this time, mostly because he’d somewhat sobered on the journey. A quick five minute walk in which he had hoovered through about 3 cigarettes had lead him to Dotonbori, and it’s signature neon adverts emblazoned across the tall buildings next to the canal. A wave of familiarity and nostalgia washed over him. The place had not changed quite so significantly as Tokyo had over the years. So now he was here. On the run from the Yakuza, who would no doubt seek retribution for the massacre that had transpired in Shinjuku. He had no money, and no employment now that his previous employers likely wanted him dead. He also had no contacts to buy drugs, and nowhere to live. Now that he had taken time to stop and think, perhaps coming to Osaka with literally no way of getting by wasn’t such a bright idea. However, as he had acknowledged many times before in his life, he had to admit that he was not a smart man. His pondering was disrupted by the smell of delicious foods being cooked. Dotonbori had a whole host of decent places to eat, lots of cosy little bars and restaurants where you could eat a good meal for an affordable price. He moved away from the busier streets and walked down by the canal, looking for somewhere quiet where he could avoid drawing any attention to himself. Finally he found himself a little establishment called Soma Ramen. He put an unlit cigarette in his mouth and pushed the door open, and stepped inside. He looked up to find a young woman staring at him with an unreadable expression. He waited for the customary ‘welcome’ that most shops in Japan greeted patrons with, but it didn’t come. Oh dear. “Yo.” He said with a tired smile, “Do you have a vegetarian dish?”
  12. HEROES

    The Bronx. 42 square miles of land. An urban community often associated with crime and decay, never really managing to rid itself of the reputation it gained in the 60’s and 70’s. 20 years after the decline of livable housing and the increase in arson cases, The Bronx had went through significant redevelopment and the quality of life there had improved. Yet The Bronx was no without it’s problems. Gangs were still prevalent in low income areas, and of the various Hispanic gangs, the Latin Kings and Latin Queens were the most prevalent. Violence and corruptions still stained the borough like an sickness. There was only so much the police were capable of, and The Avengers were too busy fighting aliens and killer robots to actually look out for the little guy. New York had it’s own share of superheroes to deal with the every day crimes. Spiderman, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Power Man and Power Girl. Still, none of them were handling The Bronx. It seemed that despite wealth returning there, with new housing and businesses being built, the danger was still present. Someone had to do something about it. That someone was Flare. Flare liked to be up high, to see over the city from the rooftops. As far as hero outfits went, her ensemble wasn’t quite as striking as Daredevil’s or Spiderman’s. She wore a simple slate grey hoodie with the hood up, with dark lycra sport leggings, and black athletic sneakers. Her elbows, knees and shins were covered by black, hard-plastic protective pads. Under her hood she had a tanned, smooth complexion, and wore a pair of visor-like sunglasses to hide her eyes. A fringe of dark brown hair fell across her forehead, with the ends dyed in flashes of purple. Tonight was something of a special night for Flare. On any given night she would do her ‘rounds’, making her way through the streets, quite literally looking for trouble. Generally she was used to interceding in gang fights, muggings and assaults. On more rare occasions she might discover a burglary taking place. Tonight, however, she was on to something much bigger. Over the last few evenings she had listened in on conversations between members of the Latin Kings. She had discovered that the Latin Kings were to receive a large shipment of goods; most likely drugs or guns, as part of an ongoing relationship they had with another gang operating elsewhere. Bringing drugs or guns into her town could cause no end of trouble. With a large shipment of weapons the Latin Kings could settle old scores with rival gangs and increase their hold on The Bronx. With Drugs they could bleed the town of the little wealth and prosperity it was gathering, and ruin people’s lives in the process. Flare wasn’t about to let that happen. Unlike most of the people in this town, she could actually do something about it. She stood at the edge of a flat rooftop of a collection of large warehouse buildings down by the East River. It was dark and even from her heightened vantage point she could see little to no signs of life. So she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and then she flared her hearing. Well, that was a vague term for what she was doing anyway. Flare could heighten her senses individually with an effort of will. However, even the sense people considered to be hearing, was a collection of different senses. She could flare her sense of volume, although she avoided it often as it just made everything louder. Any sound engineer will tell you that the human ear is the most sophisticated microphone. If that was the case, then Flare’s power worked kind of like the sliding controls on an audio mixing board. To make everything louder, that was like a master volume control, and it was never very helpful in her opinion. So she had learned to adjust pitch and tone, in order to shut off some sounds and hone in on others. It took her a few moments of mental adjustment, but eventually she began to hear something going on. The sounds were coming from the shipping containers outside the warehouse by the river itself. There was the sound of someone taking a draw on a cigarette, followed by a very slight cough. Two sets of footsteps were moving between the containers. Then in the warehouse itself she could heard muffled noises of people talking. She allowed her hearing to return to normal, and then she was on the move. She dropped down from the roof, gripping on to a metal pipe on the corner of the building and using it to slide down to the ground. She moved quietly, sticking to the shadows created by the large shipping containers. She moved carefully between them, towards the sound of the first two people she had heard. As she moved she flared her sight, specifically her ability to take in light. Suddenly the dark night’s colours began to fade a little, but the shadows became dimmer and the lights brighter. Now all that had been murky and hard to see where clearer and more distinct. She saw shadows moving between two containers and knew she was close to her first targets. With a short hop Flare nimbly climbed atop the container and crept slowly across it. She cautiously looked over it’s edge to see two men dressed in typical gang banger garb, all tattoos, denim and bandanas. Definitely Latin Kings. Both men were carrying pistols and were pacing calmly, peering out of either side of the container, looking for anyone nearby. Clearly they hadn’t spotted her. To take them both out she needed to get her timing right. One mistake and they’d yell, or even fire off a shot. She waited until the smoker had moved to one end of the container to look around. When he took another drag of his cigarette she dropped down behind him and swept a kick at the back of his leg, sending him falling back towards her, she bobbed back out of the way of his fall, but when his back his the ground she followed up by striking him in the chest, causing him to choke and cough. By the time the other gang banger turned around Flare was already sprinting between the containers towards him. He lifted his pistol to shoot and was opening his mouth to yell, but she was already on him. She confidently grabbed his gun hang with her right and pushed it aside, pointing the gun away from her, while her left fist came in with a hook to his jaw, then she moved back along his arms and pulled the gun from it, and turned the pistol on it’s owner. The man held his jaw in pain but immediately froze when he saw the gun pointed at him. However she didn’t hold him hostage for long, before he could even begin attempting to bargain, she had clubbed him with the grip of the gun and he fell to the ground, out cold. Flare calmly dismantled the pistol and dropped it on the floor. She began to slow her breathing, taking long and considerate breaths, actively trying to calm the rush of adrenaline flowing through her, filling her with excitement. In and out she breathed, and slowly she began to calm down. She moved back through the containers and towards the warehouse. She ducked down behind a car to get across the open gap, and then pressed herself against the wall of the building. She flared her hearing once more. “-you do not need to worry how we are shipping this in. All you need to know is we can manage regular supplies of what you need.” Said a man’s voice. He sounded well-spoken and confident.” “I ain’t questionin’ your ability to bring the goods, Saito. I just want to know how you’re shipping all this in without alerting the feds. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill brand heroin…and we’re not talking a small amount here either.” Said another man, with a hispanic accent. “Perhaps you should just focus on the money you’re going to make with this investment.” The well-spoken man, Saito replied. Flare cursed silently. It was drugs after all. She allowed her hearing to fade back to normal and began to make her move. She climbed up the fire escape ladders at the side of the building that lead to the second floor balcony of the warehouse. She opened the door quietly and stepped inside, looking around to see if there were any guards posted along the upper balcony. She could see no one, but she flared her hearing to double check. Her expression became a frown. Aside from the two men talking, there was no other sound in the warehouse. There was nobody there. That was just too unlikely. Normally a meeting like this would have gangs posting thugs all around the place to make sure there were no cops nearby. She moved quietly along the balcony, ducking behind boxes in case either of the two men spotted her. When she found a spot with a good vantage she looked out on the two men. Saito was likely the middle aged Japanese man with short black hair, and wearing a business suit. The other man was dressed in black jeans and a white vest, his arms covered in tattoos, with tan skin and dark hair, and a stubbled beard. Next to them a container had been opened up, and a bag of some sort of powder was sitting between them on a table. She examined the container that had stored the cocaine. It was full of the stuff. Then she noted the brand outside of the containers, some sort of corporate logo. Then she noticed the logo on another container in the warehouse, then another, and another. There were at least 10 containers in the warehouse with that logo. Did they all carry hundreds of pounds of heroin? She had to take out both of these men, and keep them apprehended until the police arrived. She flared her hearing again, and as she attuned her hearing, she heard the smallest of movements from behind her. She turned just in time to see and then dodge away as a long blade stabbed into the wood of the crate she had been behind. She turned and faced what she quickly realized was an honest to goodness, real life ninja. Dressed entirely in red and black cloth gear that concealed all but his eyes, the ninja was quick to react and was already advancing for a second strike. He swung his sword at her and she used her hand to block it sideways and advanced inward, so the blade was behind her. Then she brought her fingers in tight, with her knuckles flat, like a tiger’s paw. Her deflecting arm wrapped around the ninja’s oustretched arm and held it in place while she jabbed him twice at the point where his arm met his torso. The man made an odd strained noise, but Flare moved her arm around the back of his head, and as she gripped him tightly she raised her knee into his stomach hard, then hooked her leg around his and swept it out from under him, laying him out flat of the ground. The noise of the ninja crashing had alerted Saito and the Latin King leader. They both had stopped talking and had turned her way. Flare went to advance on them, but as she ran someone hit her hard from the side. Then another swept her legs out from under her and she hit the ground of the metal balcony hard. She winced in pain but tried to get up, only to have someone kick her hard in the side and she barked out a short cry of pain. As she looked up she saw more ninja’s dressed in red and black surrounding her. There must have been at least 11 of them, 12 including the one she had taken out. They had been here all along, watching her, and waiting to strike. Ninja, the real deal, martial artists that could stand so still, and be so quiet, that she had not detected them even with her superior hearing. She struggled as they grabbed hold of her, and dragged her down to the lower floor. Then they pulled her hood down to reveal short, pixie-cut her, longest at her fringe which was dyed purple. They took off her sunglasses as well, revealing her defiant, amber eyes. “One of yours?” Saito asked to the Latin King Leader. “Why because she’s Hispanic?” Came the reply, “Nah this is just some punk trying to play hero.” “Well, she didn’t have any trouble with your men apparently.” Saito said, and he looked at Flare and smiled at her. “You seem like you have a lot of potential, it’s a shame you had to go and waste it like this.” Saito motioned to the ninja, and suddenly she was being forced on to her knees, and someone held her head down, then she felt a blade resting on the back of her neck. Tears welled up in her eyes. She was terrified. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. How could she have been so stupid. So weak. And now she was going to die. Her mind fled to her family, her two parents, and her younger brother. She was never going to see them again, and for what? She couldn’t even manage this, how could she have ever thought she could be a hero? All she had accomplished now, was to get herself killed. The tears finally fell from her eyes and tapped softly on the ground beneath her. Then, quite suddenly, all of the lights in the warehouse went out. “What the f-“ She heard the Latin Kings Leader say, but then there was a noise like a blunt object hitting him, and then something heavy hitting the ground. Suddenly there was a lot of scuffling in the dark, the sounds of metal scraping and blows being struck. Then the grip on her was released and somebody hauled her to her feet. She flared her vision and almost all colour disappeared, but she could make out grainy images in the total darkness. Someone was fighting with the ninja, someone had saved her. She saw Saito fighting diligently with his men, and apparently he was an incredibly skilled fighter himself. Then there was a flash of flight that momentarily dazzled her vision, and she allowed her enhanced vision to fade once more. The light, she realized, was a glowing yellow orb that seemed to flicker and pulse like a flame. As her eyes adjusted she realized that it was coming closer, and that it wasn’t an orb at all. It was a fist. Illuminated by the light of the Iron Fist, was the dragon-like tattoo on the hero’s chest, as he advanced on Saito and hit him with a single, powerful strike that sent the man crashing back across the room and slamming against the wall. “If you can walk you better run.” A voice came from behind her, as a masked man approached having dealt with the rest of the ninja, who were in a heap on the floor behind him. “Police will no doubt be here soon.” The man, she noted, didn’t look right at her but instead seemed to be only looking vaguely in her direction. Flare nodded and moved with both of the men towards an exit door and back outside. In the light of the moon and the streetlights she realized that she was running next to a man dressed in green trousers, with a bare chest and a yellow bandana across his face, was definitely the man she knew as The Legendary Iron Fist. The other, dressed in a bulky, red armour, with an armoured, red mask, complete with red eyes, and a pair of devil horns; he was Daredevil. “How did you…” She began to ask. “I have good ears, a bit like yourself.” Daredevil said to her, “Although The Hand have become particularly capable at moving silently. Yet they still cannot hear as well as you, so you should have used that fully to your advantage.” “That’s why you turned off the lights.” Flare said, getting it. “If no one can see then the one who can hear better will succeed.” “Something like that.” Daredevil replied. “That’s a nice chat you two are having.” Iron Fist said from ahead of them, “But we need to get out of here before the police arrive.” “Right.” Daredevil nodded. “Go home kid. And think twice before you go trying to play hero again, all right?” “I…” She went to say more but before she could the two heroes ran off and left her alone again. She cursed silently and then stormed off alone. She ran down the road hurriedly, but as she ran across the road the police cars came rolling around the corner. They screeched to a halt and before she could hide they had stepped out of the car, their guns pointed at her, screaming at her to get her hand on her head. She thought about how best to take them out before escaping, but then she thought better of it. It was one thing to hurt bad people, but these were just officers doing their job. With a heavy sigh, she raised her hands in the air and calmly waited as the officers surrounded her. --- --- --- --- A few hours later she had been booked and locked up in a questioning room. Police had began questioning her but she remained silent. They asked for her name but she didn’t respond, then they began asking what she had been doing at the scene, and started warning her of the trouble she was in. Eventually she was beginning to feel the strain of it all. She was scared. She was going to get in trouble with the police, and be branded a criminal. Her parents were going to found out what she did. “I…” She went to speak, to spill the beans and admit everything to them. “I’m Isa-“ The door to the room opened and a man in a suit walked in, he had blonde hair and hid his eyes behind a pair of crimson tinted sunglasses. He moved with a delicate care, and she noticed he was holding a blind man’s cane. “Fellas, you know the drill.” The man said, “Her lawyer is here, so it’s time for you to go.” “Lawyer? She hasn’t even had her phone call yet, we don’t even know her na-“ “Isabella Vasquez.” She said, cutting them off, “And if that guy says he’s my lawyer then he’s my lawyer.” “Matt Murdock.” The lawyer said, “Now, gentleman, can we have some privacy please?” “Damn it!” The other officer cursed and the pair grumbled at each other as they collected themselves and left the room, closing the door behind them. Matt gave Isabella a warm smile and then made his way to the table and sat himself down opposite her. “Nice to meet you, miss Vasquez.” “Izzy.” She said to him, “That’s what most people call me.” “Izzy…well it looks like you’ve been busy.” He put some paperwork down in front of him, “Fleeing the scene of a crime, 18 men found beaten to unconsciousness, 12 shipping crates filled with heroin, illegal guns scattered everywhere, that’s quite a busy night.” “Look I’m not explaining myself to you, you aren’t even my real lawyer.” Izzy said, frowning, “They don’t have anything on me, or they’d have booked me with something, right?” “Oh I think they thought you were a Latin Queen, part of the gang.” Matt said, “But I’ve managed to talk them down from that, you’d be amazed how quickly the government backs down when you throw the term ‘racial profiling’ around a bit. You still have a few minor charges but your bail has been posted via a donation from the Rand Corporation.” “Uh…what?” Izzy said, frowning further still. “Why the hell is Rand Corporation bailing me out?” “I think, officially, it’s a PR stunt to do with community outreach, youth rehabilitation, something like that.” Matt smirked a little, “As part of that same program you have been offered a paid scholarship by the Stark Institute. I understand you are currently enrolled at Columbia, Biology major?” “How do you know that?” Izzy asked suspiciously. “I did a little research, and I have some resources that the police don’t. You’re Isabella Vasquez, 18 years old, star of your high school track team, currently enrolled at Columbia under a fees only athletics scholarship, with a major in biology. You also practice regularly at Ahmad’s Krav Maga Training, and even teach other students sometimes.” “If you did your research properly, then you’d know I’m not looking for hand outs.” Izzy replied coldly. “Izzy, the Stark Institute scholarship will allow you to continue to focus on your studies without the need to do track, and it’s a full ride scholarship complete with boarding at a specialized campus with food allowances, transport allowances, clothing, and finances to support yourself and your family.” “I like track.” Izzy said, folding her arms. “Look I don’t want none of Starks hand outs. I earned this scholarship, I earned my place in Columbia. I worked…really, really hard to get in there. I didn’t go looking for hand outs.” “I understand.” Matt said with a nod, and he was smiling at her. “There’s another angle to this, though. You see…you’ve been under Stark’s radar for a while. Didn’t you wonder why Daredevil was all the way over in The Bronx just when you needed help last night?” Izzy tensed at that. Mat knew what had happened last night. “…Stark’s been watching…me?” She asked, her voice trembling. “He makes a point of keeping an eye on future potential. People who have…abilities.” Matt opened a folder in the pile in front of the and showed her a sheet of paper. Izzy picked it up and read it. “Avengers Initiative?” Izzy asked. “Tony Stark’s plan for the future. To train young, talented individuals to become to heroes of the future. The scholarship will allow you to do what you have always been doing; training your body and your mind, to become as strong as you can be. You’ve worked hard to be a hero-“ “Damn hard.” Izzy interrupted. “Right.” Matt nodded, “And people have noticed. This isn’t a hand out, Izzy. But it’s your choice if you take it.” Izzy thought about it. What Matt had said was true. Since Izzy had began to notice her powers, her first thought had been how to use them to protect people. She had been training her whole life to protect people. She had been fighting, and running, and climbing every chance she had got, and as she grew older she had structured her life around this goal. Her daily routine, the subjects she learned, her fitness, her diet, all of it had been to be a hero, and now someone was offering to help her. “Where do I sign?” She asked, with a slight smirk. “HAHA! YES!” a muffled voice cried from the opposite side of the door leading out of the interrogation room. Then the door opened and Tony Stark, dressed in an impeccable business suit, with his characteristic goatee, and a pair of shades on, poked his head into the room. “Eat it, Murdoc! I told you she’d go for it, you owe me five bucks!” Then he winked at Izzy, “Welcome to the team, Vasquez. Later.” He closed the door and left her alone again with Matt, who looked a little embarrassed.
  13. Hallows

    The hours passed by and Vincent and Rachel busied themselves with preparations. The kitchen had lost the Christmassy smell of cinnamon and in it’s place was an amalgum of exotic, overpowering smells. Jinx had, at one point, wordlessly came in to take whatever the hell it was she had been baking out of the oven and then retreated once more. Vincent, for his part, didn’t pay her any notice. He already liked her better than James, but that wasn’t to say he liked her much at all. His general disdain for demons wasn’t something he could shrug off, but at least Jinx wasn’t quite so annoying as James. While he continued to guide Rachel through making the correct potions, he had went out to the car and came back with a few supplies. He was in the middle of, apparently, making some sort of friendship bracelet with several dull threads. “How’s the consistency?” He asked Rachel as he tied off the bracelet and placed it in a circle of salt he had marked out on the counter. He flexed his fingers towards it and there was a gentle thrum of energy as he closed the circle around the accessory. "The...consistency...?" Rachel stared into the pot and stirred it's contents. "I dunno... Lumpy." Vincent leaned over and examined the contents. “Keep stirring.” He said, “Let me know when it sort of gets like cookie dough.” He didn’t require a lot of concentration for the enchantment he was working. Honestly it was the kind of thing he could do in his sleep at this point, but it’s importance meant he wasn’t prepared to let Rachel try her hand at it. She was doing a fairly good job with the potions though, despite not seeming very enthused. She’d had a rough night, something he knew a little about. She might not appreciate it now, but he knew that busywork was great during these times. Vincent was just starting to think about how hungry he was, and was contemplating ordering take out when Meredith popped her head into the kitchen, she looked tired and more than a little nervous. “Can I have duck pancakes?” She asked "Uh…how-“ He cut himself off, “Nevermind.” He caught Rachel’s eye, “What about you, grasshoppa? Want some grub?” He asked in a mildly offensive oriental accent. "Yeah. Fine." Rachel muttered, her eyes locked on the pot. "Are we ordering out because I could really destroy some egg rolls right now--" James walked into the kitchen, quickly flanked by Violet. "--not over! I was speaking to you!!" Violet growled as she chased after James. "What do you want me to say? I sensed your heightened emotional state, I turned up, I saved the day." "I don't need you to rescue me!" Violet walked over to the concoction Vincent was brewing and glanced inside, "Faster." She added. Rachel begrudgingly started stirring faster. "It's my job. Remember? You summoned me. Now I'm stuck here. Even if I want to live my own life, I can't stop myself from interfering with yours. That's what you asked for when you summoned me, so..." "There are too many people in here." Jinx chimed in, her tone a mixture of neutral apathy and yet disdain. "All of you. Get out of my kitchen." She started with shoving James out, "And I'm making food and you're going to order in?" Her eyes flashed from yellow to red, "That's so thoughtless." “Well you’ve been walking around with a stick up your ass and shit under your nose since we got here so I didn’t dare assume you might feed us.” Vincent said, rolling his eyes. He made a final flourish with his hand and there was a pop and hiss, as the small bracelet in the circle seemed to smoke, the fibers burning as ancient runes were etched into the material. He inspected his work for a moment, before finally breaking the circle of salt with his finger and removing the bracelet. He handed it to Rachel. “Here, this is for you.” He said. "Dude-- friendship bracelet...?" Rachel took the bracelet between her thumb and forefinger and held it at arms length as though it might be diseased. Violet left the kitchen willingly as she was still mid-conversation with James. "Now go sit down like normal, grateful, well-adjusted people, and I'll put food out for you." Jinx crossed her arms with impatient expectation. Somebody said something to her in the next room. "Nobody's having egg rolls!" She yelled back. Then looked back to Vincent and Rachel. “It’s a dead man’s talisman.” Vincent said, “I know it looks like shit but that’s made from fibers of burial clothing. Do you know how hard it is to get corpse threads? I mean it’s not like grave robbing is legal.” He shoved Rachel out of the way gently and began finishing up the potion, noting Jinx’s penetrating stare. He also noticed Rachel’s look of disgust. “Look, that thing will 100 percent protect you from possession, and any ghost that tries to phase through you like earlier will burn up and fade back to the Void.” He turned off the gas to the hob and picked up the pot, stirring the contents out into an awaiting beaker. It looked like a glass full of thick, wet mud, and smelled like something far worse. “And this is well let you see them.” He said, pointing to the mud, “And that will let you hurt them.” He said, pointing to several jars of what looked like grainy dust. "Okay! Fine. Enough already." Rachel slipped the bracelet on and walked through into the main living room. James had cleared some space at the table and everyone was settling in. Vincent rolled his eyes and began clearing up. “Ungrateful little snot…” He muttered as he put the pots and empty beakers into the sink. A foggy memory of his old mentor making similar mutterings caused him to smirk. After he had cleared up he made his way in to the living room again and sat down with a heavy sigh. “Hey Jimbo!” He said to James, “You got anything to drink?” he asked, “Also can I smoke in here or…?” He thumbed to the door leading outside. "Sure. Drinks in the cabinet over there. And you can smoke in here." James nodded as he picked up his knife and fork. "No he can't!" Jinx called through from the kitchen as Rachel took a seat at the table. "It's fine." James reassured Vincent, though he couldn't help but notice that James did so under his breath. A few minutes later Jinx walked in holding a large Pyrex dish full of homemade lasagne. She put the dish down and as she passed Vincent she pulled the barely-lit cigarette from his mouth. "Hah!" Violet laughed as she reached for the serving spoon but dropped it immediately when Jinx hissed at her. A few minutes later, Jinx had served everyone a portion and sat down herself. There was silence, stillness. Then Jinx ate her first bite and everyone cautiously followed suite. Then everyone was back to talking amongst themselves once more. “Now here was me thinking you were a sorry excuse for a wizard, Vi” Vincent said as he sat back down from his trip to the cabinet with a small, tulip-shaped glass only barely filled with amber liquid. “And until this day I thought I was right, but it appears I was mistaken. All those years ago when you summoned a familiar, you could have got yourself a dog familiar, and then I’d be sitting here with a miller light like a college frat dudebro. But…” He tipped the glass at James, “Cats apparently have a taste for the finer things.” He took a sip of the whisky and let it swirl in his mouth, before swallowing and relishing the delicious warmth that spread through him. Then he poked at the lasagne with a fork. “That’s a lot of cheese…” He said foolishly, “Is your game to slowly kill us via myocardial infarction?” "It's hard milk." James mumbled between mouthfuls, as he hungrily devoured his plate. "Maybe." Jinx replied directly to Vincent, raising a brow with a conspiratorial inflection. "Thank you, Jinx!" Rachel added, eating the food unreservedly. "Protection from otherworldly forces... Nothing." Violet smirked, "Cooked pasta though..." Rachel shot her an angry glare but it seemed regret was a fleeting emotion for Violet. The chatter was cut short by cutlery hitting a plate. Everyone turned to Meredith, who was staring back at them with an incredulous look. “Look…I’ve tried to go with this but…are you all insane!?” “Ugh, I wish.” Vincent replied. “We just got attacked by ghosts! Then she-“ Meredith pointed at Violet for emphasis, “nearly killed me and Rachel, and now we’re in a house eating lasagne cooked by demons!? This is…it’s nuts! How are you all okay with this!?” "It's fun, isn't it?!" James smiled as he finished licking his plate clean. "Get used to it." Rachel grumbled, pushing food around her plate. Violet had long-since finished her lasagne and perked up at Meredith's frustration, "Everyone has to live, Meredith. Humans, demons, cosmic entities. We're all just trying to get through life. Don't get hung up on it." “Yeah, except we’re going to die. Soon. Or did you forget?” Meredith said, “Also its 3am and you’re all sitting eating dinner like this is a normal thing to do! It’s not normal…” Her voice broke a little and she shut her eyes to stop the tears but they formed anyway, “I thought…I thought at least if I died, if I could save everyone else in the process but…” She took a deep breath, “This is too much. I can’t act normal and pretend nothing is wrong. I…I don’t want to die.” "Shut... Up!" Violet snapped. "We're all thinking the same thing, but most of us need to recharge. Joking and pressing buttons helps to make you feel normal. We can't just sit here thinking about what's coming." "She has a point." James added quietly, "Bit harsh though... She's scary." "Can I just eat in peace?" Rachel piped up. Meredith didn’t respond, instead she bit her lip, and then she pushed back her chair and stormed off from the table. A moment later the front door to the house opened and then slammed shut again. “When did I become the well-adjusted one?” Vincent asked with a sigh. He stood up from the table and as he passed by Jinx he snatched the cigarette she had taken from him and headed for the door. “You know you could be nicer to her, if only because her visions are about the only thing that will stop us from meeting the reaper anytime soon. Hell I already met the bitch, and damn if she wasn’t smokin’ hot.” "Uh-huh." Violet grumbled. "I was being nice." She turned around to face Vincent and smirked, "Oh can I have a drag?!" Violet asked excitedly, then she inhaled rapidly. Vincent's cigarette alighted in his hand and burned through to the filter, leaving an ashen corpse. Then she exhaled a large smoke cloud that quickly formed into a skull before dispersing. As the smoke cleared, Violet's expression wasn't gleeful defiance, as Vincent had come to expect, but profound confusion. The confusion spread and warped into a nervous panic. "Vincent...?" She asked, raising her tone. Vincent scowled at her and then retrieved a fresh cigarette from his carton. “You’re so childish…” He grumbled as he stepped out of the house. --- --- --- --- When he got outside Vincent spotted Meredith stalking off down the path. He sighed and lit his cigarette and began a slow stroll after her. “Yo!” He called, and she stopped and turned to him. Her face reddened and she toyed with continuing to storm off, but in the end she waited for Vincent to reach her. “Sorry about them, well not the demons, I don’t give a shit about them. Violet and I, and Rachel to a much lesser extent, have been facing imminent danger on and off our whole lives. You really have to forgive a little dysfunction.” “Dysfunction?” Meredith replied with a raised brow. “You people are crazy, and I should know, I’ve been called crazy my whole life.” “Yeah no surprises there.” Vincent said as he took a drag, a moment later his nostrils flared and smoke plumed out of them, “All mortals are just a little bit magic, just a tiny bit-“ he indicated by holding up his finger and thumb, “Most of them have just enough ability to sense real magic. Generally they don’t react very well. It’s easier to believe you’re crazy than that you can actually see the future.” “…It would be easier if I was crazy.” Meredith grumbled. “That’s what I said earlier!” Vincent said with a shrug, “Look I know you’ve had it rough, but you’re not the only one. My mentor…well he was a real hard ass. Imagine spending all morning and afternoon at high school, and when the other kids go home to watch tv, do drugs and have sex with each other like teenagers should be doing, you’re going to the magical school of hard knocks for night classes.” “Wow…you’ve really been doing this for that long?” Meredith asked. “I mean…I knew there were others like me but…you guys are on another level.” “Yeah, well…I had the benefit of training.” Vincent explained. Thinking about his childhood was bringing back some old, buried feelings of anxiety. “…it was tough. Necessary though.” “You think? You should let a kid be a kid if you ask me.” Meredith replied. “Evidence to the contrary.” Vincent said, thumbing at his chest. “I ran away from home at 16. Used the very spells he taught me to cover my tracks. Minor transmogrification to make me look older, turning plain paper into cash, fake I.D. It was stupidly easy.” “Don’t you think you did that because you never got to live though?” Meredith asked “Maybe, but it doesn’t matter.” Vincent said, “I thought my teacher was just being a crusty old fart. I was wrong. He taught me how to do magic the hard way, because taking the easy way doesn’t end well.” “What? So you commited a few crimes, played bad boy for a bit. You don’t seem to be suffering too much for it.” Her smirk changed to a mixture of shock and guilt as she noticed Vincent’s reaction. He held his hand over his heart almost like a strange impulse, and his grip tensed. Thinking about the coldness there only brought it surging to the forefront of his mind. It was a small thing, but it was something that would never fade. A cold, greasy pool of energy within him, one just like the magic that had been used to enthrall the ghosts earlier. “What I do is difficult, and it has a lot of rules.” Vincent said slowly, carefully, his gaze fixed on something far off in the distance. “I don’t have to follow those rules though. For a time I didn’t.” “I don’t think a little counterfeiting and fraud makes you Lord Voldemort.” Meredith said with a raised brow. “I killed someone.” Vincent said, and there was a hard coldness to his voice, “And I don’t mean a bad guy, not that it matters.” “You…you’re a hunter. You’ve killed lot’s of things, right?” “Lot’s of things, yes.” Vincent took another draw of his cigarette and his hand was shaking, “The thing about supernatural creatures is…they don’t have souls. It doesn’t always mean they are bad, or that they can’t think and feel. It’s just a rule. Humans have souls…they have mortality, and true free will. Our magic is different…it’s not as strong as that of a god or immortal fay queen or whatever else, but what we can do, we do with absolute freedom…and absolute consequence.” He turned and looked at Meredith, staring deep in to her eyes. “When you kill a mortal with magic, it leaves a kind of…stain.” He rubbed at the spot on his chest where his heart was again, “Magic comes from the energies of life, and using it to take a life is just…it feels wrong.” He took his hand from his chest and held it up between them, and with his will he lit the ends of each of his fingers on fire, but he didn’t feel any pain. “It turns out that us Hallows…we have an unusual talent for magic. I can do so much with relative ease, I have a well of power within me that’s a lot higher than most. Enough to impress the wrong kind of people. I met people I thought were just like me, who understood me better than my teacher or my sister ever could. And then one day even my own vast well wasn’t enough…and I took a life, sacrificed an innocent person, and from them I took power. That cold, disgusting power…I can feel it there all the time, a constant reminder.” “I…” Meredith looked stunned, her mouth moved but no words came out. “I don’t advertise that information, but I don’t hide it either.” Vincent said with a resoluteness about him. “The people we are up against. They’ve tasted that same dark power, and clearly they like it enough to want more. So even if I do die, I will stop them.” The words surprised Vincent. He had spent years avoiding this life, the life he had been practically groomed for. Yet now, suddenly, he felt this righteous need to join the cause. “What happened?” Meredith asked, “I mean…you said you went dark but…you’re not now, right?” “I was saved.” Vincent said with a smirk. “By your teacher?” Meredith asked. “By God.” Vincent said, “Sort of ironic really since I’m a filthy pagan warlock.” “God? You mean…?” “He sent a man to save me.” Vincent said, “And then that man brought me home. And then Al tore me a new one. I thought he’d been hard on me before…” “Sounds like a real piece of work.” Meredith said. “That man is more of a father to me than my own ever was.” Vincent said with a slight anger to his tone. “No one has ever had me so figured out, no one has ever helped me quite like him.” “Not even Violet?” Meredith asked. “She’s my younger sister, I’m supposed to help her out. That’s just the way of things. Although I suppose this time she’s the one helping me. I brought them along on this detour.” “…and I brought you.” Meredith said. “…so I’ll stick with you…until the end.” Vincent smirked and took a last draw of his cigarette before flicking it away. He took a scrap of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Meredith. “What’s that?” She asked as she opened it. “My phone number.” Vincent said with a smirk. “Y’know I wonder what would happen if I never gave you it? Like your vision of the future doesn’t come to pass so how did you get the number because I never give you it and suddenly it’s a paradox, so does the world unravel and we all cease to exist?” “Um…” Meredith looked a little panicked. “Damn I already gave you my number though…guess we’ll never know.”
  14. Hallows

    Vincent was laying down on a tired looking old bench at the side of the road. All around him was nothing but dry, rocky desert and the sky above was clear as a bell, and the heat was blazing down on him. Apart from the road, the only signs of civilization nearby was the gas station off the side of the road just down from the old bench. The Impala sat at one of the pumps, Violet inside paying for gas. Vincent was wearing a sleeveless, black shirt with a white batman logo on the front, and a pair of navy blue jeans, his usual black boots, and his pentacle necklace around his neck, and had his mirror-lensed aviators on. It had been a little shy of 2 days since they had left Lafayette, and the majority of that time had been spent hauling ass across the country, stopping only to eat, refuel and rest overnight. Vincent had spent the time filling in Rachel about some of the basics about magic, and about hunters. He suspected little of it had really settled in to the girl’s mind, but he wasn’t too surprised. He had been taught about magic since he was a child, and there really was quite a lot to it. “God damn jelly beans!” He cursed at his new phone, which was currently held in his hand playing a brightly coloured games involving matching up different coloured jelly beans. The game made a little descending jingle and went to a game over screen and Vincent sighed, sitting up on the bench and pocketing the phone. He took out his cigarettes instead, and lit one, taking a deep drag. Sitting cross legged on the floor by the bench was Rachel, who was staring at an unlit candle with a great deal of intensity. Vincent exhaled and allowed himself a little smirk as he watched her. “Be careful.” He said with a jovial tone, “You keep tensing up like that sooner or later you’re gonna squeeze something out…let’s hope it’s a little magic and not poop.” "Do you always talk about poo?" Rachel asked, trying to concentrate. "No, he doesn't," Violet interjected, "Just some of the time." She smirked and jabbed Vincent in the shoulder, "Ready to go?" Vincent took another draw of his cigarette. They were in Schurz, Nevada, only a short drive away from the border to California, where they would cross the sea on a boat to Hawaii. “Well…” He said as he turned his attention back to Rachael, “I was kinda hoping she’d hurry up and light the candle.” He said to Violet, then to Rachel he added, “Come on, kid. It’s a freaking billion degrees out here, you’ve got plenty of thermal winds and ambient heat to call upon, we’re in a desert.” "How am I supposed to pull heat out of the air?" Rachel asked, scrunching up her eyes in concentration. “With your will.” Vincent said simply, “That is what magic is…to impose your will on your environment. Fire is usually the easiest for people to learn. You need to let your will extend, so you can feel the forces working around you. Then you focus on your emotions, and your own interpretations, and you need to channel them into what you desire. It takes focus.” focus.” "Fine! Geez." Rachel let out a short little sigh. She could hear Violet walking over to stand beside her brother, could feel their eyes on her, she knew what she needed to do. Rachel focused on the candle, channeling her will into the air, focusing her mind on the creation of fire. A few moments passed, and it seemed as though she would be unable to light the candle but then a wisp of smoke appeared at the tip of the wick and in seconds it was lit. "Hey nice job." Violet smiled with satisfaction. Then a few seconds later the flame wobbled and started to go out. "Uh--" Violet barely opened her mouth when the flame on the candle exploded in size. Roaring up and spreading across the courtyard. Vincent scrambled over the back of the bench and tripped, rolling across the floor, before quickly getting back to his feet. “F-fucking hell!” He spat, his sunglasses askew on his face. His heart still racing he closed his eyes and held his hands up, feeling outwards with his will. He began a quiet chanting, but it was not magical incantations, but rather a string of whispered profanities. The spell worked quickly, as the fire began to move quite unnaturally, coiling through the air towards Vincent and coalescing in between his hands, until it sat in between his palms, a glowing sphere of fire. “Alright.” He said with a quiet, trembling tone, clearly trying to contain himself. “You lost focus…but maybe I should have expected that. Evocation is probably the easiest magic to produce, but the elements are quite difficult to control.” He pressed his hands together slowly as he spoke, and slowly the orb began to dim and decrease in size. “When you call fire you bring in the heat from around you, and as a result the air cools. If you do it enough you can freeze things, and that’s how you get ice magic. However, if you draw in the heat you have to put it somewhere…you have to set the boundaries of that. Instead you let the environment take advantage of the ignition you created. Now you’ve let that heat back in to the air, and you’ve created more heat by letting the fire spread.” Vincent eventually brought his hands in enough that he clapped them together, and the tiny flame was snuffed out. “Focus is crucial. Think of what could have happened if you did that inside a building full of people. You could kill people that you’ve went in to save. You can make a situation so much worse with magic if you lose your focus.” "Focus. Got it." Rachel's cheeks blushed red. "Yeah. Focus. And don't set everyone on fire. That's like... Number 2." Violet smirked, blowing out an ember on Vincent's shoulder. “No harm done on this occasion, but I think we need to look at enchanting you a focus.” Vincent indicated back to the car and they started walking. “My cane is enchanted for elemental evocation. The runes and enchantments are designed to streamline elemental magic so I can focus on being a little more precise. Enchantment is a little more complicated, and it’ll take some time though.” "What's your focus?" Rachel asked, looking to Violet. "Ehm..." Violet chuckled and then looked to her brother for assistance with that one. “She cheats.” Vincent said with a smirk, “Seriously, Violet’s got her own set of rules. FTor now let’s leave fire calling alone until you get some more control. When we get to a motel I’ll show you some thaumaturgy, that’s my kind of ma-“ He paused as a loud ringing came from his pocket. He frowned and took out his phone, looking at the number on the screen. He had only just got the thing, and Violet was the only one who had his number. He answered it. “Hello?” The voice on the other end asked. It was a woman, she sounded out of breath. “Hi.” Vincent replied, “Uh…who is this?” “Oh…god.” The woman’s voice was trembling, she sounded like she might have been crying, “Uh…my name is, well, you don’t know who I am. I-I I don’t know you either, actually, well, I mean I will but-“ “Lady, what are you talking about? How did you get this number?” Vincent asked. “Uh...you gave it to me, or you will soon…” The voice said. Vincent’s eyes widened behind his sunglasses. “…A prescient.” He said finally, his voice quiet. “What did you see?” “Uh…a lot.” The woman replied, “It’s…it’s confusing, okay. All I know is you’re going to give me this phone number. I’ve seen it happen, and then…” She paused and her breath shuddered, “There’s too many paths, and most of them lead to the same thing. We…” She sniffed and let out a little cry, “We die.” “Uh…well what if we just stay away from each other?” Vincent asked. “Then other people will die…a lot of other people.” Vincent was silent for a long moment, then he cursed silently. “Shit!...god damn it, where then? Where do we meet?” Vincent asked “I’m in Las Vegas.” The girl said. “I-I’m Meredith, by the way. Meredith Palmer.” “Vincent-“ “Hallow, I know.” Meredith interrupted. “Look…there’s a bar called Henley’s that’s just off the strip. It’s quiet, can you meet me there?” “That’s like 5 hours drive.” Vincent sighed loudly. “…You’ll make it before last call.” Meredith replied. “Fine…fine!” Vincent said, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers, as he closed his eyes in frustration. “Fine…you better not be fucking with me.” “I’m not, I promise.” Meredith said, she sounded desperate. “Alright…later I guess.” Vincent said, and then he hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and then quickly sighed it out, scratching the back of his head as he turned his gaze to Violet. “Uh…we need to make a detour.” He said. "Mm-hm. Mm-hm. A detour huh? But that's sooo unreasonable." Violet flashed a wicked grin then got into her car. "Well let's get on with it then you two I don't have forever. Well, I do. But by that point I'll just be watching dying stars explode and it all happen all over again and I'd really rather just, y'know, get some chicken and see that psychic." “If I’m walking toward my likely death, my last meal is not going to be chicken.” Vincent said as he got in the car. As they drove Vincent repeated his conversation with Meredith, and there was a period of silence in the drive when he mentioned that going to meet Meredith was likely to result in both of their deaths. “I mean…she said most of the paths lead to death, so that means we could live, right?” "I have a terrible sense of direction." Violet muttered under her breath. "I have GPS so..." Rachel held her phone up and then looked at the screen, "Oh, no. No nevermind. No signal. We gonna die y'all!" Rachel threw herself back into her seat and huffed. “You know what I meant.” Vincent said with a frown, “This could be really serious…but she said a lot of people would die if we don’t go.” He sighed in frustration, “It could be a trap…sounds ideal for a trap, but then how did she get my number?” "I don't know what you expect me to say, Vince. But I'll tell you this... I'm not in the mood for Death. Not today. Maybe someday. We'll see." Violet growled to herself. Rachel looked up from her phone just long enough to show confusion at Violet's statement then returned to texting. They drove the rest of the way in relative silence. By the time they had finally reached Las Vegas it had gone dark. They had swapped endless dirt and roads for neon lights, busy streets and the huge and varied hotels and casinos of the famous city. As they drove down the main strip Vincent couldn’t help but hang his head out the window, taking it in. “This place really is something.” Violet leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath and as she let it out, her eyes turned white with a brilliant luminescence. "Hundreds of thousands of people. A man sobs in his room. His daughter doesn't love him any more. He drinks. A woman ties a rubber hose around her arm. Checking for veins, she says this is the last time. For real this time. A banker parks and forgets to pay his meter. A homeless man feeds the meter from his meager change. When the banker returns, he takes no notice of the kindness given him from one with so little. But the man without a house, keeps a tidy home. He asks for no thanks or applause." Her eyes quickly returned to normal and Violet coughed, very aware of herself for a moment, "Y-yeah, sure. Sounds like an interesting city." "Sounded sad..." Rachel muttered. “Creepy more like.” Vincent said with an uncomfortable shrug. Eventually they pulled off the strip and down a couple of blocks until they found a place to park. Across the street there was a quiet little bar with a sign that read: Henley’s. “That’s the place.” Vincent said as they got out of the car. He got out his cane and jacket, and put his jacket on. He opened up the trunk and took out his pistol and strap. “I’m not taking any chances.” "I thought we didn't need guns!?" Rachel barked, pointing at the pistol. “Sometimes a gun is the better option,” Vincent replied, “Especially if your enemy is mortal.” Violet leaned on Rachel's shoulder and whispered, "Never... question... uncle!" Rachel shrugged her off and grumbled, following the two Wizards inside. “Oh, right…give me your I.D.” Vincent said, and clicked his fingers at Rachel when she didn’t comply immediately. "Alright, geez!" Rachel reached for her I.D. but the moment she had it in her hands, it was in Vincent's. “Good.” He said as he examined the card. Then he ran his hand over it and some of the writing had changed. He handed it back to Rachel. “There, now you’re 21.” He said. "I don't feel any older..." Rachel muttered. "Hah!" Violet snorted and then walked inside. “That’s just in case someone cards you, don’t go actually buying beer now, you’re still a minor.” Vincent said as they arrived outside the bar. He pushed the door open and stepped inside. Henley’s bar was one of those hipster bars that were built in shabby run-down buildings where the rent was cheap, but the interior was clean and didn’t smell weird, unless you included the stench of gentrification. The Hardest Button To Button by The White Stripes was playing on a retro styled jukebox that had an tablet screen for selecting songs off of a music streaming service. The floors were a smooth brickwork tile job, the bar was clean and well stocked, and the seating area had that odd mismatch of furniture that some bars utilized if they wanted to appear alternative and bohemian. “Ugh, they better not have cocktails…” Vincent grumbled as he walked forward, looking around at the patrons. "It's okay, Vince." Violet replied, looking around. "I'll drink the 40% alcohol that tastes great. You can drink your piss-flavoured, weak wheat juice." “No single malt, Vi?” Vincent said with mock astonishment, “Al taught you better than that. Crusty old hillbilly would take you over his knee if he heard that nonsense coming out of your mouth.” "Vince, I've seen stars implode, I've met life on other worlds, travelled through multiple dimensions and tasted cosmic essence..." Violet took a breath, "... and I know, for a fact, that long island ice tea is the best drink in the universe." “Tequila, vodka, rum, triple sec, gin and coke…” Vincent counted on his fingers, “Pretty sure that’s six drinks, Vi.” "If you don't understand symbiosis then I can't talk to you about cocktails, Vincent." Violet took one long look around the room and sighed, "I hate this place. It makes me want to drink strange over-priced coffee and munch on my own farts. I'm-- help--" Violet fainted into Vincent's arms and then gripped onto him, "Vince, I'm... One of them!" Violet mock-choked, took a deep breath, and in a strangely snotty way, she added, "Hey, I'm Daffodil, your bartender, "Would you like to try our continental wine sniffing course?" “You’re too far gone for help.” Vincent said dryly and shoved his sister off of him. He scanned the room for Meredith, having no idea what she looked like, however he spotted her easily enough. In the corner, sat alone at a booth table, was a girl in her early twenties, slim and dressed in denim jeans, converse sneakers and a red checkered shirt. She had a long mane of tightly curled, red hair and a black beanie hat that took up relatively small real estate on her head compared to her hair. Her blue eyes were staring at Vincent behind thick-rimmed, black glasses, like a dear caught in the headlights. “Guess we should go say hi.” Vincent said as he nodded his head toward Meredith. He struggled to swallow, his throat dry. He felt completely on edge, his senses were tense and skittish, something he often felt when forces were at work, like when a storm begins to gather. “I think I need a drink first…” He said, licking his dry lips. "Get a drink, if you want..." Violet walked towards Meredith and after a moment's hesitation, Rachel followed. Violet could see the essence of all living things. As she walked towards Meredith she saw the gently crackling flames of the other patrons. But the one essence that shone through the darkness more than any other, was Meredith's. It was like she had less control over her own power, at the benefit of intermittent power spikes. She was a sap-filled, spitting flame of chaos. She was beautiful. "Hey, I'm--" Violet started to introduce herself but Meredith joined her mid-sentence. "--I'm V-Violet." Meredith finished her thought, albeit with a slight stutter. And she did it every time Violet opened her mouth and spoke. "Fascinating." They both said, then Violet smirked and turned back to Rachel and Vincent. "That's cool, right?" She added, though Meredith had said it behind her at the same time. "..." Vincent hesitated to say anything at all, cautious that Meredith would only mimicking him. "Don't spe-" "-speak... Oh" Meredith stopped herself and blushed. "I'm sorry it's a bad habit. I just tend to know what people say before they say it, so I either say what they say, or sometimes I answer their question before they ask it, and then I get embarrassed and I talk a lot, just rambling on and on and on and-" "Yeah." Vincent interrupted. He sat down in a chair and leaned on the table with his arms, "So you mostly see just brief moments in the future?" "Mostly." Meredith said with a nervous nod, "Sometimes it's much further in the future, but it gets confusing... Hard to make sense of what's happening, what's real and what's not, like living through multiple versions of an event." "The further into the future you see the more variables there are, so the future is less certain." Vincent explained, "Plus your knowledge of your future can make you act, which changes it, and then you see that future, and you do something else and it changes again, and again." "Y-yeah..." Meredith said, a sadness crept across her face and she bit her lower lip. "Don't you have any friends?" Rachel asked, taking a step forwards. Violet pointed at Meredith, "Well go on then, this is your thing." She virtually threatened Vincent with an angry look. Vincent responded with a thin smile that veiled his clenched teeth. “Well…” Meredith began cautiously, “It happened just before I called you. It…” She took in a sharp breath and seemed to puzzle for a moment, “…there were a lot of places that we met, different things happened from then on…it branched out in thousands of directions…and the images I kept saying over and over was…” She swallowed nervously. “So you chose the safest path for us?” Vincent asked. Meredith visibly tensed. “I...I’m sorry.” She whimpered, tears welling in her eyes. “Why are you sorry?” Vincent asked. He was getting a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Please understand…these people will die if we aren’t here.” Meredith began to cry. “Oh for…” Vincent stood up from his chair and turned around the face the rest of the room and felt around with his senses. He came in to contact with a dark, cold magic that felt all kinds of wrong. Just touching at it with his will felt maddening and he swiftly retreated his tendrils of power and shivered. The room had become deathly cold. “Rachel…” Vincent said hesitantly, “…I need you to not panic, things are going to happen…you’re not going to see.” “What’s going on?” Rachel asked worriedly. “…Ghosts.” Vincent said as he began to focus his will. He concentrated on a well of power that was stored in the centre point of his forehead just above his brow. He took a deep breath, hesitating, before finally muttering a curse and opening the point of power up. The word changed in an instant around Vincent as he opened up his third eye. He could see true image of everything within the room. A woman who he had noticed before to be quite beautiful, became horribly angular, twisted and quite terrifying to look at. He turned to Rachel, and in her place stood a brilliant, glowing aura, with a cold, dark centre that festered like a wound. He dared not look at Violet, certain that the image would destroy his ability to fight, either through terror or awe. The cold energy surged and ghostly hands began to phase through the walls, a fact that only Vincent and Violet could see. "I'm content to go now." Violet muttered, taking a step back as she prepared for what was coming. "Why should I want to panic?! It's just ghosts!" Rachel seemed a little unhinged. “They aren’t after us…they can’t be.” Vincent said and he held out his cane in challenge. The ghosts, for their part, seemed not even to notice they were there. Instead the shades began to move among the other patrons, and they began to stand behind their chairs and wait. A ghost moved to Vincent, her face gaunt and emotionless. Vincent instinctively gathered his will and pushed it out to blast the ghost back, but it did not react to the kinetic force. It just kept coming, until it was almost on him. “I’m so sorry…” Meredith said tearfully once more, and then she gasped as another Ghost rose up through the floor and table and sunk it’s arm in to her throat. She began to choke, unable to breath, and she clutched at her neck. Suddenly each of the ghosts plunged their hands into the necks of each of the patrons, and they all began choking as well. Vincent was no exception, unable to work a spell in time that could effect the spirit mere inches from him, and he flinched as she jabbed her hand into his throat. Suddenly Vincent’s body went numb with biting cold. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t breath. He felt a tremendous pressure building in his head, and his vision swam. He could hear himself choking, but it sounded far away. At some point he ended up on the floor, but he couldn’t remember falling. There was a slow, rhythmic thumping that were becoming further and further apart. His vision blurred, and he found himself drawn to a figure standing across the bar. The woman had dark hair and the palest white skin. She wasn’t suffering like everyone else in the room. The girl just looked at him, and smiled warmly.
  15. Hallows

    “Careful with that gun…” Vincent said as he held his hand up between him and the newcomer, Rachael. His protection charms dangled around his wrist as he projected his will outwards, forming a solid shield of kinetic energy. “Who the hell are you?” He asked. Rachel frowned at the man and yelled back, "Who the hell're you?!" With an incredulous tone. "Look!" Violet snapped, "I'm not in the mood to play 'Who the fuck am I'! Why did you shoot him, Rachel?" "You couldn't understand..." Rachel smirked bitterly and shook her head. “Funny, that’s usually my line.” Vincent said as he paced slowly forward, towards Lucas’ body in between them. “How about you try me, hm?” "They're monsters!" Rachel shouted, leveling the gun at them. "They turn blue and change people into them, I've seen it!" “Oh…geez.” Vincent said with a sigh, “Looks like we got ourselves a rookie, Vi.” He said with a smirk, although he still kept his barrier raised and ready. “First of all; monster is a very generic term, sort of discriminatory when you think about it. Secondly, I’m not buying this story that a Nymph in fuckin’ Lafayette of all places, has the kind of mystical mojo it takes to do that.” Amber spoke, but when she did, all personality, weakness, or naivety vanished. When she spoke, it was as though there were power in the very words themselves, they echoed like a ripple in a pond, "The lakes were sick. The rivers were dying. We had to stop that. I had to stop that. Not just for us, but for the humans, too." "Mmm... Yep." Vincent said with a wince, "Should have seen that one...all right." With a thrust of his palm Vincent sent his barrier forward and up, the force knocking the gun from Rachel's hand. He walked quickly toward her, and she seemed to visibly recoil. With a pulling motion he brought a gust of wind out from under Rachel and knocked her to her backside. She froze as Vincent stopped above her and placed the end of his cane down with a loud tap. There was a resonating hum of power as he sent out his will down the cane’s length, and it’s carved runes glowed softly. Rachel tried to get up, but found that she had been rooted to the spot, almost as if she had been welded to the floor. “Stay still.” He said with a smirk and rolled his eyes, before turning away from her. “Okay then.” He said finally, “That’s the trigger happy teenager dealt with, now…” He turned his gaze toward Amber, “…Let’s have a chat, you and I.” Amber's lip curled into a snarl. "I will not subject myself to your questioning!" Amber roared and raised her arms, the skin across her body turning blue as she pulled water from the ground, from the machines, from every inch of the factory. The first jet of water she fired at Vincent coalesced into an icy spear as it hurtled towards him. It narrowly missed but as Amber prepared to fire again, Violet had to step in. "Stop!" She yelled, running between Vincent and Amber. But it was too late. The spear of ice struck her in the stomach and she doubled over. First, there was pain. But the pain dissipated quickly as a dizzying sensation of rage began to spread through her. Amber readied another ice missile, but Violet stood back up distracting her for just a moment. "No..." Violet hissed. Throwing her arms up, a bright purple energy fired from her hands, and hit Amber like a truck. The nymph flew across the floor and landed with a thud. Before she could right herself Violet was stood over her. Violet's face was partially her own, while a section of it around one eye was peeling away like burning tinder. Beneath her skin, purple energy dancing around a brilliantly dazzling all-white eye. The hair above her forehead in that area had turned to a light pink and seemed to dance and sway as though she were underwater. Amber raised her hands, in defence. But Violet ignored the girl, raising her arms once more. This time she seemed to draw the very energy from Amber, who immediately collapsed as though she were fatigued. The blue of her skin began to turn pale and her skin became cracked. "Stop..." Amber groaned. The spike of ice forcibly ejected from Violet's stomach, leaving behind the same solid dark purple energy that was burning through her face and still she continued to feed on the life force of the nymph. “Oh for crying out loud…” Vincent said with a sigh, looking down at his shoes and the bottom part of his jeans which were now soaked from the torrent of water that had rushed around them. He felt a strange weight pulling at him, a sensation he was familiar with, it was normally something he felt in the shower. The water rolled away around him, running across the floor. As it reached Rachel she gasped as she was suddenly able to move again. Running water grounds out mortal magic. “Well, my magic’s out…” Vincent said as he turned back to Violet and Amber, and then his eyes widened and he cursed, “Violet!” He snapped loudly. Violet jumped as though she'd just been grabbed and she relented. Amber gasped as colour slowly began to return to her face. "I... I-I'm sorry... I..." Violet bent over to comfort Amber but the nymph recoiled in horror. Violet's face and the hole in her shirt quickly returned to normal. Her eye darkened and shifted until it was a natural-looking human eye. Her 'skin' re-covered her face and her hair turned blue and fell flat once more. Violet glanced at Vincent but couldn't hold his gaze. Vincent wanted to say something to Violet, but now wasn’t the time. He pulled his pistol from his holster and turned, pointing it at Rachel who was attempting to flee. “Ah! Ah!” He called and Rachel froze when she saw the gun. “Now just you sit tight while the adults talk.” Vincent said and he turned back to Amber, “Ready to talk now?” "W-what would you ask of me?" Amber asked. She seemed weakened, tired, but no lasting damage had been done. Violet slunk off to Rachel and sat on top of the girl so she couldn't escape. Rachel wanted to shout and scream and bite but having just witnessed one of what she thought had been human, turn into a life-sucking creature, she was content to remain quiet for the moment. “Well first I wanted to know how you managed to amass so much power…but I get it now.” He smirked, “You’ve created a cause for people to have faith in, to pay tribute to, and to provide offerings. Your environmental activism is how you draw your power. Fundraising faith to fuel your mystical powers. Just a guess, but am I in the right ballpark?” "You are not unintelligent." Amber smirked before trying to get her breath back. "I thought they were a myth..." Amber muttered, her eyes darting at Violet before refocusing on him. “Hah!” Vincent laughed, “Hey Vi, the myth just called you a myth!” Violet looked like she wasn't in the mood. Her top lip curled back and she crossed her arms with an air of 'and that's all I have to say about that'. “So,” Vincent continued, “You’ve been turning mortals into Naiads, which takes a serious amount of mojo, maybe the charity worship wasn’t enough? So you turn to older methods. Human sacrifice is a good way to wield serious power, wouldn’t you say?” "If power is required to save this world, then I will take it, human." Amber curled the last word out of her mouth as though she was spitting a fly out. "This world will persist, long after you are gone." “Oh yeah, absolutely.” Vincent agreed with a nod, then he shrugged and cocked his head. “Although, you should see some of the stuff these humans are doing. It might take them 200 years but that’s a drop in the bucket for you. What are you going to do when they have machines that clean rivers, and maintain forests, machines that produce clean air. Nobody is going to put their faith in you lot any more.” "Then I will 'retire'." Amber retorted. “You might retire sooner rather than later if you don’t explain what’s going on.” Vincent said, and as he was talking he went over to check on Lucas, and was surprised when he felt his wrist and found a pulse. “Vi…he’s alive.” He said to his sister, “He needs a hospital.” "That's going to be an awkward conversation." Violet replied, looking at Lucas. "I've done nothing wrong." Amber stood up shakily, "When I need more nymphs, there are already many waiting in line to serve. This girl..." She looked at Rachel with disdain, "... Is not who we thought. She is bitter and selfish, like all humans." “The accords state that if you murder humans then they have sacred right to hunt and kill you.” Vincent said testily. “And those kids are minors, the human law states that they are not mature enough to make their own decisions about their life. Not that the accords have anything to say about that.” His nostrils flared visibly at the admission, “Rachel is going to be a murderer if Lucas dies, and then she’ll be a problem for the police. Unless Lucas killed those girls, in which case she has the right. I don’t think he did though, did he?” "Nobody killed those girls." Amber replied, rather matter-of-fact. And as though waiting for a sign, women began to appear. From around corners, behind pillars and stepping out from behind machinery. There were more than a dozen and several of them looked familiar. They were the girls who had been murdered. Though it seemed this was not the case, despite the bodies. “…They weren’t murdered, they were the girls you turned.” Vincent shook his head in annoyance, “You…created corpses to hide the disappearances. Are you stupid? How could you not know this would send hunters on your trail?” "I don't see why they should." Amber replied with a non-plussed expression. "Amber, you know that the bodies were gored to death. That's not exactly common fare." Violet spoke up at last and Amber stared at her in disbelief. "Don't speak to me--" Amber finished her statement with a high-pitched screech that sounded like a mixture between a kettle boiling and a metal nail tearing down a blackboard. Everyone recoiled from the noise. It seemed to summon up images of long-forgotten worlds, dying suns, and a dark void. “Bleugh.” Vincent said with a shudder, and looked at Violet, “I mean…your people have a lovely language.” He gave her a false grin. "I can assure you, of all of us here, I would like not to hear that again." Violet looked at Amber, "So use it again, and I'll finish what I started." Amber found it impossible to hide the anger on her face, however, she remained calm. “So…no one is dead. You haven’t broke the laws that apply to you, so we hold no claim.” Vincent continued, “Which stinks of shit. You…are taking advantage of these kids.” His voice became tense, almost a growl. Well, actually my sister is under no such obligation. Vincent turned to Violet, “Fancy abusing your power?” "Come on, Vince. Let's go." Violet stood up and helped Rachel to her feet, "You've got a lot to learn, kid." She pushed Rachel into walking, "Best hope he doesn't croak." As Violet made to leave, Lucas lifted off the floor, floating into the air and following her. "Come on." She repeated to her brother, "There's nothing to do here." “You’re lucky she’s the less morally bankrupt of the two of us.” Vincent said with a scowl, “…Just be careful. Give me just one reason to smite you, and you’ll be finding out what it’s like to be a greasy stain on the floor.” He turned and walked away from Amber and her Nymphs, walking quickly to catch up with Violet. --- --- --- --- It was reaching 11pm by the time Vincent, Violet and Rachel sat in the waiting room of the local A&E section of the hospital. The waiting room was old and dingy, and was rocking a multitude of odd smells. The three were almost entirely alone, except for a sleeping homeless man with a dirty beard and long, greying hair who was sat at the other end of the room, and an old Hispanic nurse working the reception desk. “Nasty wound.” Vincent said as he leaned back in his chair, “Fun fact of the day: Satyr don’t have heightened regenerative abilities.” "I don't care..." Rachel muttered. She kept her eyes focused on the glossy white and grey marbled floor. "Things aren't black and white, kid." Violet sighed and looked around before picking up one of the magazines on the table beside her and opening to a random page. “So why’d you shoot him?” Vincent asked. Rachel puzzled him. She had a bad attitude, and was pretty confrontational and self-assured, not unlike how he was when he was a teenager. Still, she seemed to have her hostility pretty focused in one direction, and there had to be a reason for that. "It's none of your damn business." Rachel growled. "Seems pretty straightforward to me. Boy problems. You were into him, he wasn't into you, angst, drama, Twilight, etc." Violet muttered with a half-grin. "That's not it at all!" Rachel snapped. She sat there in silence for a little while longer. Violet went back to her magazine until a few minutes later, Rachel spoke once again. "A few years ago we were attacked. My mum and dad were killed, and I barely escaped with my life. Vampires, as I later learned. First I tried hunting vampires, then I found out there was a whole world of--" She paused as a nurse walked past, then went on, "A world of monsters. People were being gored, and when I found out Lucas was a satyr, and had a connection with the girls, I figured it had to be him and even if it wasn't it was one less monster." “A whole world of monsters, fairies, demons, gods, both big G and little G varieties, ghosts, dragons and eldritch horrors.” Vincent said, “Oh and I’m a wizard.” He added, “And my sister is a cosmic energy thing.” Rachel frowned at him about the last one. “It’s like...y’know in the X-men when Jean Grey becomes the Phoenix…well she’s like the Ph-“ Vincent caught the way Violet was looking at him and cut off, “-nothing…uh she’s nothing like the Phoenix force, that’d be dumb, huh?” Vincent suddenly became very fascinated with the ceiling and fell silent.