Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

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Los Angeles, the famous City of Angels, was anything but. Nowhere else in the U.S was it more appropriate to be strange, weird, or different. It was 2015 and L.A was bloated with hipsters, cool kids and celebrities. In an age where it was cool to be strange, this city was home to all sorts of macabre entities. For all the Glitz and Glam of Hollywood and stardom, and for all the culture, and music, and art, there is of course a seedy underbelly. Drugs, Debauchery, Murder and Violence are commonplace and in a city like this the freaks can thrive. In Downtown L.A, in an unmarked and unremarkable office block, a single office room was still occupied at this time of night, a warm glow emanating from the frosted window, above a plate on the door which read:


Vincent Hallow – Paranormal Investigator


Inside the office was a complete mess. Paper was littered across the filing cabinets and old, dark oak desk. A single lamp on the desk illuminated the room. On the tattered old chair by the desk, a young man just shy of 30 was sitting with his feet on the desk, wearing a pair of old, black Doc Martin boots and a pair of torn and dirty, dark blue jeans, and a black Pantera T-shirt that looked like it was from the 80’s. The young man had thick, greasy black hair that was swept back and tied in a short ponytail behind his head. His face was dark with stubble and his eyes were a brilliant emerald. He was engrossed in the novel he was reading, smirking at himself like a child who had heard a dirty joke he wasn’t supposed to know. Then, suddenly, the ringing of a phone breached the silence and the man sighed heavily, tossing the book on to the desk and pulling his feet off. He searched under the mess of paper and finally found the phone and picked it up.


“Mister Hallow’s Office, what do you want?†He grumbled down the phone irritably.

“Um, is that Mister Hallow?†a voice on the other end asked. It was a woman, her voice seemed quite confident despite her confusion.

“No…I’m a burglar robbing his office.†The man, Vincent, replied sarcastically.

“I’m sorry?†came the response.

“It’s a joke lady. I ain’t got any shit worth stealing.†Vincent replied. “It’s almost 9pm, The office is closed.â€

“Wait…it’s quite important that I speak with you Mister Hallow.†The voice asked. “Your website says you’re a Paranormal Investigator. Is that correct?â€


“Well I sure as shit ain’t a fireman, lady.†He replied, shaking his head.

“Right, sorry.†Came the response. “Look…this is probably going to sound really strange…â€

“Really? You’re calling a Paranormal Investigator about something strange? Get out of town!†He replied.

“Look…Mister Hallow.†The woman sounded exasperated. “I…I think my friend’s boss is a…†The woman sighed. “…a Vampire.â€

“Uhuh…†Vincent murmured, sounding quite disinterested. “And?â€


“Well…I want you to investigate it. Isn’t that what you do?†She asked.

“So you just want me to confirm it?†Vincent asked. “Then what?â€

“I don’t know I just…I think my friend might be in danger.†The woman began to sound distressed. “It’s like she’s…different.â€

“Vampire will do that, I guess.†Vincent replied. “Look, tell you what, my fee is one hundred bucks an hour. Luckily for you my case load is…light at the moment. So I can dedicate my time to this. I’ll need a retainer, five hundred dollars up front. Is your friend worth that much?â€

“I…that’s a lot of money.†She replied.

“Well I got bills to pay, lady.†He bit back. “So what’s it going to be?â€


The woman paused for a moment. Vincent waited, searching his desk for a pack of cigarettes. He pulled one from the packet and lit it with a metal zippo. “Okay…†the woman said finally. “Would cash be okay? You can come pick it up now if you want.â€

“Mm, okay.†Vincent replied as smoke billowed from his mouth. “What’s your address?†The woman gave him an address and he wrote it down on a scrap of paper. He finished the call and put the phone down, puffing on his cigarette as he stood up. He reached behind his chair and pulled an old, brown duster coat over his skinny frame, before placing the half empty pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He checked his right wrist, making sure he was wearing the charm bracelet. It was a metallic bracelet with 5 charms each with unique symbols across it.


As he left he picked up an old wooden cane with an ivory handle fashioned in to the shape of a talon wrapped around an orb. Although as he picked up his stride it was clear he had no use for a cane, and held it horizontally as he strode out of his office and in to the corridor. He flicked the butt of his cigarette on the floor of the corridor and continued walking. Stepping in to the elevator at the far end he hit the ground floor button and waited for the battered machine to slowly take him down.


Despite his tone with the woman on the phone, he had to admit to himself that he really needed the work. Even in this city of weirdo’s, being a Paranormal Investigator wasn’t exactly a lucrative career. The thought of the retainer was enough to keep him interested. He’d been living on cup ramen for about two weeks now. Not to mention his rent was due three days ago. Five hundred bucks smelled pretty good right about now. Especially for identifying a Vampire. How hard could that be, right? He knew what to look for. The real trouble came if the guy was dangerous. There were plenty of Vampires in L.A, most of them living pretty normal lives. Vincent actually knew one who worked at McDonalds.


He hailed a cab and made his way across downtown L.A. Even so late at night traffic was a nightmare and he didn’t get to his client’s apartment until about 10.30PM. The apartment was in a pretty shady part of town, he was pretty surprised this lady was willing to cough up five hundred bucks. He tapped his cane on the door three times and waited. After a short wait he heard a chain being unhooked and finally the door was opened. In front of him was a woman in black leggings and a short denim shirt, with a pink tube-top only barely covering her ample breasts. Her hair was bleached blonde but the dark roots were showing, and her face was, in a word, loud.


“Mister Hallow?†The woman asked.

“Vincent.†He replied. “And you must be…â€

“Chelsea.†She said with a half-hearted smile.

“Of course you are…†Vincent said as he rolled his eyes. He moved forward and the woman moved, a little caught off guard at him letting himself in. The studio apartment was a little messy but nowhere near as bad as his own. The smell of cheap perfume hung in the air, and a milder smell of stale cigarettes. The carpet was cream coloured but there were red wine stains in patches of it. Overall pretty much what he had expected once he had seen Chelsea. He sat himself down on the armchair next to her television and crossed his right foot over his knee. “So…you’re a hooker, right?â€


“Uh…yes.†Chelsea replied a little hesitantly. She took a wad of notes from her purse and tossed them to him. He eyed the notes in his hand but didn’t bother to count before stuffing them in his pocket.

“I bet that felt weird, giving someone else a big wad of cash?†He said with a mildly amused smirk. However Chelsea did not find it humorous. He spoke again, changing the subject. “So you’re friend is a hooker too, right? Her boss is a pimp. Does this sound right?â€

“Uh…yeah.†She replied. “He’s not my boss though. He uh…he owns that club, Divinity. You know it?â€


“Oh yeah, I go clubbing all the time.†Vincent replied sarcastically. “So is a business man. Nightclub’s the official job, but he’s pimping on the side. So what makes you think he’s a Vampire?â€

“Well…my friend Rebecca. She’s been wearing a lot of scarves and gloves but I’ve seen the marks on her neck.†Chelsea looked afraid.

“Could be a client, no?†Vincent suggested. “Vampires get lonely too.â€

“No, she’s not like other girls. She’s…his.†Chelsea explained. “He pays her to be with him only. Well, her and a few other girls.â€


“Nice…†Vincent muttered, before catching her glance and clearing his throat. “I mean uh…right. Look let’s say he is a Vampire. What makes you think she’s in trouble?â€

“She’s been scared that’s all.†Chelsea said with a shrug. “I thought maybe he was getting a little too possessive. Maybe she wanted out and he won’t let her, something like that?â€

“So…want me to jam a stake in his heart then?†Vincent asked.


“Whoa, whoa.†Chelsea backed off, waving her hands. “I never said to kill anybody. I mean…if he’s a vampire then the cops can deal with that, right?â€

“I don’t think it’s strictly illegal to be a supernatural creature.†Vincent replied. “But if he’s a danger to her then…he should be stopped. Right?â€

“Yeah…I guess so.†Chelsea said with a nod. She looked up at him, and that’s when it happened. He was normally careful, but he’d slipped up. She looked him dead in the eye, and she went as white as a sheet.


Vincent pulled his gaze from her and stood up from the chair, suddenly full of unease. It had only been a split second, but in that time he had stricken her with terror. “Wh-what…†Chelsea was trying to find the words. “What…was that?â€

“It’s…hard to explain.†Vincent replied, quieter than he had been before. “When you look in to my eyes we sort of share a moment, and we truly see each other. Beyond the lies, the barriers we put up to protect ourselves. Just the raw, naked versions of ourselves. It’s…not pleasant.â€

“I…what are you?†Chelsea asked, “Like a magician or something?â€

“A magician?†Vincent replied, raising his brow. “I’m a wizard, lady. A sorcerer. A magus, conjurer, warlock. A magician is a schmuck with a pack of cards. I don’t do parlour tricks.â€




“Forget it.†Vincent snapped. “Look I’ve got to go. I’ll look in to this for you. I’ll send you an invoice for the rest.†He moved out of the apartment without another word. He had to get out of there, he never liked getting caught in a soulgaze. Whenever a wizard, like him, caught eyes with someone for the first time, they would see into each other. It was unpleasant, especially for non-magical people. In the briefest of moments he had saw how truly vulnerable Chelsea was, how broken and damaged she felt. Yet what she had saw was probably far worse, he wasn’t sure. He didn’t like poking around in his own head for that very reason. Instead he made his way through the streets, pulling out his phone and googling the Nightclub called Divinity. He followed the GPS map on his phone. Technology was a pretty magical thing these days. The thought made him smirk. Here he was a modern day wizard, one who could bend the very laws of nature to his will, and he was impressed by a computer chip in a shiny case.


As he turned the corner to reach Divinity he was greeted by red and blue flashing lights. Yellow tape and a crowd of cold and annoyed clubbers were in his way. When he stepped up to the tape a police officer held out his hand to him. “I’m sorry, sir. This area is closed to the public while we conduct an investigation.â€

“What happened?†Vincent asked.

“I’m sorry sir please move along.†The officer pushed.


Vincent let out a sigh. Typical. He had a bad feeling about this. There was no way he was getting past the cops, and he didn’t feel much like spending a night in holding. Maybe for anyone else this would be a problem, but he had a trick up his sleeve. It was another rather unpleasant ability that wizards had, and not something they took pleasure in using. That being said, if his suspicions were right then time was wasting. He closed his eyes and focused on what he wanted. He pictured an eye appearing in the centre of his forehead, an eye that could see what his mortal eyes could not. When he opened his eyes again, the world around him had drastically changed.


The police lights were gone, and the people around him had twisted in shape, becoming either beautiful, or more often, gruesome caricatures of themselves. His third eye saw what people really were. The sky above was red, and the ground beneath him was covered in a black ooze that stunk of decay. He looked to the nightclub, it’s Neon lights were littered with perched ravens. It all pointed to one thing. Death, an unclean death. Murder.


“Shit…†Vincent cursed, as his vision returned to normal. “…Why do I have the feeling the victim is called Rebecca…†

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Sat on the edge of the bath, Violet crossed her arms in quiet contemplation. How was she going to get out of here? She looked around the bathroom, but the jingle of her phone distracted her. She picked up the phone and checked the caller ID - Sergeant James Walker. She held the phone out in front of her for a moment and sighed before flipping it open and answering, "Evening, Sergeant." She said, as the door to the bathroom banged heavily.

"Evening, Violet - what was that?" James asked.

"Nevermind that, i'm going to be a little late." She replied, pushing her long, thick black hair out of her dark brown eyes with her free hand.

"Everything alright?" James asked, sounding worried.

"Nothing I can't handle." Violet replied. The bathroom door banged once again, and the wood splintered. "Listen, i'll talk to you when I get there."
"It's just we've been waiting for a little while now, the crime scene is already prepped and i'm trying to hold off the science guys but--"
"--James, James!" Violet interrupted the Sergeant. "Just... give me an hour, alright?"
She heard a muffled, "Ah Christ..." Then he came through loud and clear, "Fine. But you're not going to be happy when you get here."

"Why?" She asked, putting a boot to the door, to support it as parts of wood began to cave.
"Your brother just showed up..."
Violet hung up the phone and put it in her pocket and pulled herself down off the bath and braced her feet against the door. The moans on the other side reminded her of what was about to come crashing through. She looked around the room, but there was little to help her get out of this. She'd have to shift.


Violet Hallow was Vincent's sister, well, his half-sister. Her mother had been a native American and a shapeshifter, and so she inherited more than just her mother's unusual good looks. That hadn't always made life easy living with Vincent, but she'd adapted, and so had he, in his own way at least. She concentrated for a moment, trying to think of her best option. When the horde of walking corpses smashed through the door and stumbled into the bathroom, they looked around in confusion while a little brown mouse skittered past their shoes and out into the hallway. It hopped down the steps onto the ground floor and as it left the front door, it shapeshifted back into Violet, clothes and all.

"Just as well nobody lives here..." She muttered, and held out her hand. She pulled back the right sleeve of her black button-up jacket, and aimed her palm at the carpet. Sparks crackled in her palm and suddenly a short, but incredibly hot jet of flame splashed across the ground. It spread through the building like it had a life of it's own and Violet swiftly withdrew from the building and watched it erupt in flames. "That's that, then. Now to deal with Vincent." She muttered.


The drive in her black BMW had only taken a half hour. Traffic was almost non-existent at this time of night. When she finally pulled up to the crime scene and got out of the car, she saw dozens of people, cops and more. Clubbers milled about, watching and trying to film the events on their camera phones. She pulled a pair of sunglasses from her jacket pocket and put them on, feeling slightly stupid for having to wear sunglasses at night, but it was the only way she could reliably protect herself - and others - from the effects of the soulgaze. More often than not, an unpleasant experience, for everyone involved. She sauntered up to the crime scene, nodding to Sergeant James Walker as she came up behind her brother who seemed lost in thought. She knew it was Vincent. His tatty clothes and dishevelled appearance were enough to identify him anywhere. The fact she could smell him all the way back at her BMW helped too, but she wondered if she didn't have heightened senses would she still have smelled him from back there. Probably.

"Penny for your thoughts?" She asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You?" Vincent's response was somewhat accusative. "When the hell did you get to L.A?"

"Me. I've been here for a while now, Vincent." She replied quietly, "What have you been doing?" She muttered, looking him up and down.

Vincent gave a rather violent sniff as he shoved his hands in to the oversized pockets of his duster. "Ah, you know. Same old same old." He replied. "On a case right now actually, or well... I was."


"You're a state." Violet replied, poking a finger through one of the holes of his jacket. "When was the last time you ate?" She paused, "Or showered, for that matter. You'd wake the dead with that smell." She muttered, but grinned at the thought of what had happened earlier being possibly linked to her brother's hygiene.

"Give it a rest." Vincent replied miserably, pulling at the collar of his coat to bring it closer to his neck. "Just because your ass got fat doesn't mean I'm anorexic, alright?"

Violet smiled, tipping her sunglasses down enough to lock eyes with Vincent, "Poor people are so grouchy." She said squeezing his cheek playfully, "Let me know when you want in." She added, and strode past him and under the police tape. A cop stopped her but she showed the officer her credentials and he let her by. Unlike Vincent, who was a freelance investigator, Violet also worked in tandem with the police as a consultant on the occult and paranormal.


"Hey, what the fuck?" Vincent called to her, almost whining. "You're with the cops? Look uh..." Vincent gave a heavy sigh, lingering, clearly struggling with what he was about to propose. "You can really... get me in?"

Violet grinned and turned to look back at him, "Oh didn't I say? I'm the LAPD's paranormal bloodhound." She smirked and then considered him for a moment, "Fine." She said, sighing. The officer beside her lifted the tape for Vincent to duck beneath and Violet walked over to the corpse and checked it over. She sniffed at the corpse before lifting the cover away from it's face. The young woman was dressed provocatively, but she had far too much make-up on. Violet checked her bag, she was carrying a lot of money, and condoms. Another prostitute. Her blood had been drained, that much was obvious. Her dry skin and gaunt, pale body. But the wounds on her neck were wrong. They were placed in the right area for a vampire bite, but fangs hadn't made these holes. Violet knelt back and looked at her brother, "You see this?" She asked, pulling the woman's head to one side so Vincent could see the marks.


Vincent hunched down, so his face was only a few inches from the deceased woman. After a moment he pulled away and stepped back a few steps, balancing on his rear-placed foot for a moment, before settling back on both. "Claw punctures." He said, giving another sniff. "Something smells bad." He shot a glare at Violet before she could make another comment about his hygiene.

"I wasn't going to say anything." Violet replied, smirking as she looked back at the corpse. "Okay..." She muttered, letting out a long sigh, and closed her eyes. Violet remained motionless as she concentrated. She pictured her third eye opening upon her forehead and stood up, opening her eyes. As she pulled the sunglasses from her face, she saw a world turned inside-out. 


The sky was red, and the ground beneath her feet was a sea of black water. Ravens shrieked and circled the woman's corpse that seemed brighter and more serene than it had in death. Here, in this world, it seemed at peace. A shadow loomed in front of Violet and she looked up to see a huge, monstrous creature, standing over the woman. It bent down, tore at her throat with it's claws and then snarled and lunged at Violet. Letting out a panicked breath, she stumbled backwards as she was pulled from her vision and returned to the world of the living. "I hate doing that." She muttered, before replacing her sunglasses, "Visions aren't doing squat." She added, "People are monsters as much as anything." Then she looked to the nightclub, "We still have a lead though." And she stood, and walked into the nightclub. "Ever been here before?" Violet asked.


"Yeah you know me, life of the party." Vincent said sarcastically. "No, Violet, I've never been here. The guy who runs it is a vamp though. My client thought as much... and this can't be a coincidence."

"Yeah, I know." Violet replied, "His name's Jimmy." She grinned and looked around, most of the nightclub's patrons were gone, or were being talked to by police, but there on the second floor of the club, looking out across the balcony, she saw him. Jimmy White. An appropriate name given his skin pallor. "Hi, Jimmy!" She waved up at him and he nervously nodded at her. "We're coming up." She added, "Stay right there!" She grinned and they started up the stairs to the second floor, "Jimmy's a control freak, by the way. He's going to try and charm you." She muttered to her brother.


"He can fuckin' try all he wants." Vincent growled as he followed her up.

As the pair came to the top of the stairs and turned the corner, Violet saw Jimmy trying to wedge open one of the windows. He had it open nearly a third of the way but she raised her hand and swept it down and the window violently slammed shut on Jimmy's left hand. He let out a wail of pain and pulled his hand free before whirling back on them. "What do you want?!" Jimmy snapped at Violet before turning his attention to Vincent. He took a step closer and his eyes flashed, "Why are you here?" He asked, his voice calm and yet strangely alluring. 

"You shouldn't lock eyes with a wizard, Jimbo." Vincent growled, stepping forward with his cane tapping rhythmically on the ground with each step. "and you can use your sexy voice all you want..." Vincent stopped and with a final tap of his cane, the handle end caught fire and he held it forward threateningly. "...because I'm not budging."


"Ah, dammit!" Jimmy snarled, wincing at the fire. "You never bring anyone normal here, Violet." He added, dropping his charm attempt.

"Don't be rude, Jimmy." Violet replied, smiling and leaning back on the balcony, "We're playing bad cop, bored cop here, and you don't want to see what happens when I get bored of this." She looked to her brother and back at Jimmy, "At least, if he doesn't fry your gonads first."
"I-I didn't do anything!!" Jimmy barked, and looked back longingly at the window.

"We know you didn't, idiot. If we thought you had you'd be a pile of dust by now." Vincent snarled. "But don't think for a minute we'll buy that this was unprovoked. Spit it out, now." The end of his sentence was commanding, bellowing like a preacher.
"Spit what out?" Jimmy became confused, looking at them both. "I run a nightclub, okay? I have a lot of money, okay? Women flock to me, okay? So I have a lot of enemies, okay?!" Jimmy crossed his arms and stood in silence, "What, you want me to list off all the people I piss off in a day?"

"I suggest you do." Vincent said warningly. "If you don't start talking I'll start up the scripture, and you don't want that, Jimbo. I fuckin' hate scripture, and if you make me say it I'll make sure you fuckin' hurt."

"Ah, nobody wants to hear that, Vincent." Violet muttered, and walked up to Jimmy and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, "I'll make things very simple. If you don't give us something, Jimmy, i'm going to shift into a bear and tear you limb from limb."
"Christ, I don't know alright! All I know is this guy told me he wanted to spend a little time with one of my girls, I told him no, cus they're with me, right? There are plenty of girls for paying customers. Jimmy knows best, right?" When neither of them replied, he nervously resumed, "Yeah... so I said no, okay? Then one of my girls winds up dead with puncture marks and everyone's talking 'vampire' this, and 'vampire' that, but I never even bit Rebecca. She was new."

"Don't you lie to me, Creature!" Vincent snapped. "Her friends have seen marks on her neck and arms!" Vincent strode forward again, thrusting his fiery cane. "In the name of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord..." He began to quote scripture, and the very sound of it seemed to rattle the vampire with pain, causing him to seize up. "Strengthened by the the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary!"


"Ah, geez." Violet muttered, and strode forwards as Jimmy's ears began to bleed, "Quit your bible bashin' nonsense, would you?" 
"I didn't!" Jimmy groaned, "I can't! I can't!" He howled and doubled over on the ground.

"Alright!" Violet pulled her sunglasses off and pocketed them, "Alright Jimmy, just tell us who you're so afraid of?!"

"I can't!" Jimmy wailed, but the scripture continued regardless, and soon Jimmy could bear no more, "He calls himself LaChance, I don't know if that's his name!" The room fell silent and Violet took a step back from Jimmy. "And I thought a bear would be fun." She muttered and then looked at Vincent, "Scripture? Honestly." She turned and started walking, replacing the sunglasses on her face.

"Well he was pissin' me off." Vincent grumbled as he exitnguished his cane and followed after Violet. "Don't you go skipping town, Jimbo. I'll find you, that's a promise."

"A little finesse, Vincent. That's all it takes. Jimmy is a scumbag, but he's not a murderer." She walked down the stairs and looked over her shoulder as she reached the bottom, "And 'Jimbo'?" She laughed and shook her head. Her brother's idea of being menacing was like watching Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap get 'serious'. But she had to admit, it was nice spending time with him again. Even if it was in this messed up place.

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Back on the street Vincent fumbled in his pockets, finally pulling his carton of cigarettes out and plucking one from it. He put the filtered tip to his lips and lit the other end, inhaling deeply. As he exhaled he waved his hand around like he was winding invisible string around it. "You didn't tell me you were here." He said to his sister. "Why?"

"Because..." She replied, reaching forwards and plucking the cigarette out of his hand. Violet threw the cigarette to the ground and crushed it with her boot, "Why? Why ask why?" She replied, crossing her arms, "When have you ever taken an interest in my life?" She shook her head.

"Fair point." Vincent sighed, somewhat annoyed at his cigarette being wasted. "Still, you could have checked in. My mother would be disappointed I'm sure."

"Our mother." Violet corrected, "And y'know you could call mom once in a while. She misses you."

"I call her." Vincent replied, "I called her last...month...or...well it might have been a bit longer than that." he admitted. 


"Yeah..." Violet said quietly. Then she took advantage of one of her shapeshifting abilities to mimic an animal's call, or a person's voice. She choose the words their mother had said to her last time they'd spoken, and repeated them in their mother's voice, "He never calls, he never writes. I haven't seen him in months, I dont know what he's doing."

"Don't!" Vincent snapped, his shoulders visibly tensed, "Don't fuckin' do that! Besides..." he gave a heavy sigh. "She wouldn't want to know what I've been doing. You know she doesn't like it."

"Well don't make me do that." Violet growled, her voice back to normal, then she shook her head, "She's a mother, Vince." She used the nickname she used to use on him as kids, "She wants to know you're alive, is all. You don't have to tell her what you're doing. Just let her know you're okay."


"Alright, alright." Vincent said, waving at her like she was a nuisance fly. "Look...what's the plan. You can't tell me you're going to pass this one to the cops. Their heads are too far up their ass to figure this out. My work is done, sort of. My client wanted me to find out is Jimmy was a vamp, I did that. Job done. That said...her friend was the one who was killed. That doesn't sit right with me."

"Who said I was going to pass this up?" Violet replied with a knowing grin, "I know who Jimmy was talking about." Then she walked off and reached into her pocket for her car keys, pulled them out and unlocked the BMW with a press of the button. "Coming? Or are you going to stick that cane up your ass and pogo your way there?"

"Would probably beat you there." Vincent replied with a smirk. "Traffic is fucking horrendous in L.A" he added, before opening the door to the passenger side of the car and stepping inside. Once Violet was in he gave the dashboard of the car a little rub. "Clearly consulting work is where the cash is. Too bad the cops think I'm an asshole."

"Too bad you are an asshole." Violet replied, starting the car with a roar of the engine before she pulled out.Vincent decided not to comment, in fairness, he couldn't possibly argue with that. 


As they drove, albeit slowly through downtown L.A, Vincent held his cane in between his legs and stared out of the window. "So LaChance...who's that then? Sounds like a dick with a name like that."

"Vincent Hallow." Violet said simply, with a grin on her face, but then continued, "His name is Aaron LaChance. He's a direct competitor with Jimmy, runs a nightclub called Aether on 4th, but that place, and that man, is so different. There's nothing on him, criminally. He runs a respectable business, far as the police are concerned. I've only met him once, but he smelled human, so I don't know. Maybe Jimmy is just trying to point us at his competition... maybe not." Silence filled the gap for a few seconds as Violet thought, "But then, if he's human, i'd like to know where these 'claws' come in."


"Well a demon's out of the question." Vincent replied matter of factly. "Never seen a wizard yet who could control one with finesse like that. No demon is going to carefully puncture a couple of holes in someone. They'd have torn her throat out." There was silence for a moment as he thought it through. While he was rude, outspoken and often childish, he was an intelligent man, especially when it came to the supernatural. In his down time he tore through books on the occult, and he had a lot of down time. "Werewolf maybe." he mused. "Not really the types to set someone up, but if someone else is pulling the strings, it's possible. There's two packs in L.A, pretty peaceful though. But everyone has a price..."


"Everyone has a price." Violet repeated, "But it could be anything, money is an obvious motivator. But it could just as easily be blackmail, if LaChance knows the right people, a little word here or there, and their business could be closed for good. Jimmy might not be the only one with a dead body on his doorstep."

"So what then? It's hitting midnight, unless there's a chick dead at his door I'm guessing it'll be in full swing. Probably not the best time to run in guns blazing."

"Who said anything about guns?" Violet replied, "There's only one thing that closes doors faster in L.A. than a gun." She paused, smiling. "A rat."

"Tch!" Vincent shook his head, smirking. "I guess I'll wait in the car then." he said, noting that Violet had pulled up near the club, a big neon sign out the front declaring "Aether" in a bold white.


"Colouring book is in the dash." Violet replied with a smirk, as she got out and walked up to the front doors. She had a quick word with the bouncer who gave her a quick look over and allowed her inside. A minute or so later, chaos erupted. People piled out of the club in droves. Yelling obscenities, complaining that for the price of the drinks, you'd think you could keep vermin out of the building, and so on. Violet took her sunglasses off and watched as Vincent walked in, "Clears a room faster than your farts."

"Well I'll tell you what, next time you wait in the car and I'll come in and stink the place out." Vincent replied with a cheeky smirk. 


The interior to the club was much as would be expected. Polished floors, lot's of lights, ultraviolet, stainless steel bars and a large dance floor. Booths furnished with pussy purple sofas. However now that it was empty you could smell the stale sweat, the disgusting, sticky floor covered in spilled drinks and God knows what else. The DJ had stopped playing music and the place fell silent. Vincent caught the eye of one of the young barmen and tipped his cane at him. "Go get the owner, kid." he ordered, and the barmen nodded and disappeared from sight. Vincent walked over and turned, leaning his back against the bar. "Reminds me of college." he said to Violet. "You can feel that sexual tension still lingering in the air. A thousand thoroughly ignored erections crying out into the night."

"Deep." Violet muttered, rolling her eyes. "Why does it remind you of college? Did you spend your educational years crying out into the night?"


"Nah." Vincent replied. "Every time I got close, I'd stare lovingly into their eyes...except then they really see you for what you are, and you see them to." his words grew somewhat melancholy. Before he could speak any further footsteps clicked as someone descended the staircase and in to the club. The man was dressed in a sharp suit, the top button of his shirt undone. The man was pushing 40 but was dressed impeccably, his blonde hair slicked back and his skin was porcelain. As he reached the bottom of the steps he smiled politely and spoke. "Good evening, my barmen tells me you wish to have a word?" he asked, his gaze flitting between the two of them. 

"Where'd all your customers go?" Violet asked.


"Vermin." Aaron LaChance replied simply. "I'll be ensuring that said vermin is...dealt with."

"Good luck with that." Violet replied, "I'm not here about vermin, I want to ask you about Jimmy White."

"Ah, Jimmy. I hear he's had a bit of trouble outside his club." Aaron nodded as he spoke. "If I can help, then I will. Please go on." Vincent said nothing for now. He was interested to see what would happen if Violet took the lead for a bit. He hadn't seen her in so long, years in fact. She was...different. He wasn't sure yet just how different. 

"You've had a bit of trouble yourself." Violet replied, "But I guess rats are better than corpses." She smirked, "I want to know why when I asked Jimmy about the body in front of his nightclub, he was so panicked he was trying to jump out of a three-story building before he dropped your name. Why do you suppose that is?"


Aaron did not answer immediately. He eyed Violet, searchingly, like he was trying to see through her. After a moment he spoke again. "If I could hazard a guess I would say a desperate attempt to drag my brand down with his. Our rivalry is strictly business, of course, but such things can bring out the worst in people. It sounds like a desperate gambit, from a desperate man."


As Violet spoke with Aaron, Vincent instead focused inward and once more awakened his mind's eye. As the club changed around him he tried to keep his composure as natural as possible. The bright, coloured lights all but disappeared and the room was bathed in a dark green. Unlike the murder scene, this room was more pleasing to the eye. The filthy floor was replaced by a shimmering, pristine glass floor, with water gently swishing to and fro underneath it. The smell was sweet like honey, no doubt a remnant from all the sexual urges that had manifested in this room. Strangely there were no creatures, an oddity in this view of the world. Creatures were manifestations of spirits and were present everywhere. A complete lack of them was perhaps more terrifying than any gruesome bloodbath. It was then that Vincent cast his gaze over Aaron LaChance, and what he saw made his eyes widen. 


"But this wasn't a logical accusation, Mr. LaChance." Violet replied, crossing her arms, "This was a final admission after the man was unable to leap from a three-story building. He wasn't blaming you, he was protecting you - until, that is, he realised he had nowhere to go. Why did he want to protect you so badly?"

"Violet..." Vincent called her name with a cautious tone. "...Let's not be rude, hm? We don't want to jump to conclusions." he added. He hoped that his sister was smart enough to understand him, and the fact that he had suddenly become quite afraid of this man. 


Her eyes narrowed as she stared at Vincent for a moment, unsure of why he'd changed tact so suddenly. What had he seen? Violet turned her attention back to LaChance and licked her lips thoughtfully, "No, we don't want to jump to conclusions." Violet added, clenching her jaw. In Vincent's minds eye he saw it. It's form was clinging to Aaron like a shadow, but it's chest and face were corporeal and quite terrifying. Skin as white as snow, and equally white hair. It's eyes were blue and piercing and it's skin was dry and gaunt. 

"We're just doing our job, Mr. LaChance." Vincent said to Aaron with his best attempt at a smile. "We have to follow every lead, you know how it is, right?"


"Of course." Aaron replied politely. "I must say I'm a bit confused by all of this. Jimmy and I have never seen eye to eye, I admit. However I certainly wasn't involved in the incident at his club. His clientèle were a bit...sketchy. I don't want to comment further on that, it's not my place."

"Of course not." Vincent said with a soft smirk. "Well listen, we'll leave it at that. If you think of anything else, please get in touch with the local police department and they'll pass on the message."  

"Have a pleasant evening, Mr. LaChance." Violet added, I suggest you put some poison down, or the rats will keep coming back." Violet walked out and buttoned her jacket up as the cold air hit her. "I'm tired of this run around." She muttered.

"Trust me, we weren't prepared for that." Vincent assured. "Take me back to my place. I'll make coffee, I don't think we'll get much sleep tonight."

"I think i'd rather go back to my hotel room," Violet replied, "If your appearance is any kind of indicator, your apartment has no facilities. Why don't we go back to my hotel room, you can have a hot shower and a cooked meal, and I can get the vodka and red bull out of my hair." Then she muttered, "You'd think people had never seen a rat before..."

"No deal, I want my books." Vincent insisted. 





Vincent opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside, leaving the door open for Violet. He fumbled around in the dark, before pointing his cane and all the candles in the room suddenly ignited. The room, while dimly lit, was clearly a mess. The small studio apartment was littered, wall to wall, with books. Even the dirty old sofa was decorated with them, along with the cofee tablem, parts of his bed and numerous across the floor. The only area that was empty was his kitchen table, which was instead littered with vials, a bunsen burner, and a bunch of strange ingredients, including herbs and roots that looked to be dead and withered. He could see that his sister was none too happy with the environment but he didn't much care at that point. He was wandering around the room, picking up various books. Despite them having no order, he seemed to know exactly what books he wanted and where to find them. He stacked them in piles on the coffee table and urged Violet to sit. "Help me look through these." he said. "Whatever the fuck that was...I'm not going near it again without knowledge." 


"This place is chaos, Vincent." Violet sat down and pushed the stack of books beside her out of the way, "Jeff Goldblum would lose his mind." She muttered, picking up a book on familiars. "You should have said something to me, I didn't get a good look at it. If i'd known, I might have been able to identify it."

"It's not my fault if you don't use the power you have." Vincent replied coldly. He didn't care, he was too focused on the task at hand. He picked up a book on a middle eastern bestiary and began to flick through it. "I've never seen anything like that. I've never ever heard of it. It was was stuck to him, like a fuckin' cartoon genie but in nightmare form. It's not a Djinn though, before you say."

"I don't like to stare into the abyss too long, cartoon nightmare genie's end up staring back." Violet muttered, flicking through the pages. "Well it wasn't a demon, they like being the driver, not the passenger. Maybe a spirit..." She trailed off as she passed over a section on aggressive guardian summons.


"Probably." Vincent agreed. "Also there was water underneath us. So it might be a water spirit." he added. 

"Well i'm running out of spirits here..." She stopped on a page about water spirits and looked it over. "Okay, there's a couple here. The Japanese have the Kappa, i've seen those before, and that doesn't sound like what you're describing. But there's also the 'HyÅsube', which is a hair-covered version of a Kappa. That might be it. There's also a section here on spirits called 'Adaro' who were malevolent sea spirits believed to originate in the Solomon Islands." Violet paused and then closed the book, "That's all i've got." She put the book down on the table and picked up another.

"Let me see." Vincent asked as he took the book from Violet. He scanned the description. "This looks promising. Not a lot of information though. Nothing about it latching on to humans. I thought it was a Marid, a specific Djinn. looked pretty different from the descriptions. Maybe this Adaro thing is the best we have."


"I've never met an Adaro. It just said they're very dangerous, because they're supposed to arise from the wicked part of a person's spirit." Violet paused in thought, "Maybe if the spirit's design is to come from a person, it can naturally attach itself to one if commanded by someone." She placed her hands behind her head and leant back, "I think whoever is controlling the Adaro is likely our murderer. They might even incite the Adaro into killing for them, by triggering it somehow."

"Mmm..." Vincent was barely listening to her as he thumbed through his book. "...look uh...why don't you go home and get some rest. Work on finding out a bit more about LaChance, his known associates, maybe see if we can piece this together. I'm going to be up all night anyway doing research." Vincent gave Violet a cursory glance. "We can catch up tomorrow. Don't worry I'll take a shower."


"Good idea. I have a dog's sense of smell, and you basically punch me in the face when i'm near you." She stood up to leave but stopped and looked around the room, "Don't go doing anything without me, Vincent. I'm not sweeping in to save your ass if you go off half-cocked." Then Violet gave him one last look before walking out.

"I don't take this shit lightly, you know that." He replied, his face still buried in the book. "Call me tomorrow."


Violet left some point after that. Vincent couldn't honestly recall, he was so invested in what he was doing. He flicked through pages and pages, until eventually his candles had all burned out and light was shining through his window. As he lay on his couch reading, his energy finally gaze out, and he drifted off to sleep. It was not a good sleep either, his dreams filled with the muddled visons of his soulgaze with Chelsea, and the horrid creature he had witnessed at Aether. 

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Gethsemane. The name of the four-star hotel in which Violet was staying. She walked into the lobby, the door held open for her by an attendant. She strode across the deep crimson carpet and nodded to the receptionist as she passed her and took the elevator up to her room. The sixth floor, room 204. She opened the door with her key and closed it behind her, locking it and chucking the keys onto the glass table in the middle of the room. Violet let out a deep sigh, it had been a long day. Between the undead, her brother showing up out of nowhere, vampires and evil water spirits, she'd had just about enough of the magical world for tonight. She ordered some food from room service, undressed and got into the shower.


As the hot water washed away the dirt, aches and discomfort of the day, she ran her hands over her body. The bumps of her scars were a reminder of the danger of her job. As though Violet was able to heal faster than a human, she still scarred like them. Bullet wounds, bites and scratches, deep cuts and burnt or rough patches of skin splashed across her body. Across most of her body, were dozens of symbols, runes and other strange markings, safeguarding her from various magical attacks. The tattoos spanned the length of her body, across her arms, her body and down her back, all the way down to her legs. She pulled a robe from the closet and tied it around her and wrapped her head in a towel to let it dry of it's own accord. Room service arrived, and she sat at the end of her bed, eating and flicking through the channels on the television. She was checking the local news, as often times - and annoyingly - the news would fall upon bodies before the cops. A fact she often had to rely on, much to her chagrin. 


Yet tonight, the city seemed strangely quiet. There were a few traffic accidents, a number of home disturbances, several of which were domestics. But there was little news in the way of murders. Her phone remained silent. She felt strange, unable to settle. She was used to having to work, or wanting to have time off, but ultimately getting called away to a job. In fact it had happened so often she'd been unable to hold down a relationship, or form many friendships that weren't related to her job, and the world of magic and mysticism. But now she had the time off, she didn't know what to do with herself. Violet pushed the food around on her plate and eventually put it to one side and decided she might as well catch up on missed sleep. She turned the television down low, but kept it on. The noise was comforting to her, and so she curled up in bed, turned the lights out and let her dreams take hold.





Something woke her. Her senses were buzzing. She looked across the room, and despite the near-darkness save for the glow of the television's light, she could still make out the time. It was nearly four in the morning. What had woken her? She looked around the room but could see nothing out of place. But she felt like she was not alone. Instinct told her to look to other realms and reluctantly, she opened her mind's eye and looked into the realm of the magical. Her room seemed relatively similar as it did in the human realm. She saw the occasional creature or spirit passing through, but there was nothing out of the ordinary in that. None of them took any interest in her, despite her being able to see them. Violet frowned as she leant up in her bed. She felt strange, something wasn't right, but she couldn't see anything out of place. She leant over to her bedside table and picked up a jug of water and poured some into an empty glass and sat upright.


Letting out a deep breath, she shook her head and took a sip. As she sat there, she lifted her knees up and balanced the glass of water on top, holding it there and watching a drop of water on the edge, teeter and slip down the outside of the glass. She watched it almost like a cobra, hypnotised by the movement of the snake charmer's flute and it wasn't until she saw the movement in the reflection of the water that she realised why she'd been transfixed. Someone was behind her.


Immediately she tried to leap up, but felt a pair of gloved hands coil around her throat. They were throttling her, almost immediately she felt dizzy. She was going to pass out. Instinctively, she turned into the first creature that popped into her mind. The thing that could protect her. In an instant, her body morphed into an enormous light brown grizzly bear. Her attacker howled in surprise and released her throat, though at that point his grip was no more a danger than a flea bite. She turned on the man and batted a paw at him. Her paw connected and the man flew through the air and smashed into the television, casting the room into darkness. Though not for her.


He stumbled towards the door, and she gave chase, but it was difficult to follow him. She was so large now, and despite the size of the room, it was full of furnishings that got in her way, and slowed her pursuit. But it didn't matter any more. She had him. Violet raised up onto her hind legs and opened her jaws, ready to land on the man with all her weight and bite down on his face. Quickly, her attacker pulled something from his coat pocket and a terrible ringing stung her sensitive ears. She felt something hit her, and she fell back and the man fled from her room. If it wasn't for the fact she'd been shot many times before, she might not have known what had happened. She knew she was lucky to be alive, however. A small calibre pistol round was never likely going to put down a grizzly. It still hurt like hell though. She suppressed her cries but it didn't matter, she could hear the couple in the next room over arguing about whether they were going to call someone. People in L.A. didn't like to get involved, and she couldn't really blame them. Too many witnesses go missing before the trial comes up.


Violet lurched towards her bed and brought her paw up onto the covers and looked down at her chest. She saw three little bullet nubs push their way out of her wounds. The injuries themselves would take a while longer to heal, however. Days, rather than weeks. She grit her teeth and morphed back into her human form and released a cry in spite of her resolve. The bullet holes were smaller now, proportional to the size she had been when she was shot. She had taken one in the shoulder, one in the arm and one above her right breast. She pulled back on the covers and wrapped herself in them, protecting her modesty and grabbed her phone. Violet unlocked it, and scrolled down the contacts, her finger hovered over her brother's cell phone and then she backed out of it and dialled 911. 





"You're lying."
"I'm not lying, Doc." Violet replied. She watched as an orderly pushed a patient by in a wheelchair and then turned her attention back to the doctor who was inspecting her wounds. "I was attacked, and I got shot, okay? Could you just stitch me up, and be done with it."
"No, look--" The doctor - a man in his forties with a greying beard and hair - came around beside Violet and ran his hand across her back, "You have no exit wounds. Furthermore, these are far too small to be bullet wounds, granted, they match the shape... but, anyway, these wounds are days old, not hours."
"I'm a quick healer." Violet muttered.

"Uh-huh, and i'm Gandhi." The doctor replied, irritably. He pulled the pan full of instruments to his lap and took a needle and degradable thread that the body would absorb naturally without needing removal. He disinfected the wounds and then stitched them closed. "Now then... If you're not going to be straight with me, i'm going to call the cops."

"Great." Violet replied, "I used to be a cop. They'll be happy to see me. Thanks, Bapu."

The doctor rolled his eyes and made an irritable noise like he was clearing his nostrils and then walked out. 


Left alone in the hospital room, Violet checked the curtain was closed properly and then got changed. She gingerly pulled her coat on and scrolled down her contacts to her brother and sighed, hovering over the 'call' button. This time she pressed it. A few rings, he wasn't going to pick up. She waited, and just as she was about to hang up, she heard the call go through.

"Hey, can you pick me up?" Violet asked.

"Uh..." Vincent murmured groggily down the phone. "Don't you have a car?"

"Yeah." Violet replied, and then held her breath, "I left it at the hotel. Can you just pick me up and not make a big deal about it?"

"I could." Vincent replied. "But it's stupid O'Clock in the morning and I'm grumpy. But I'll save it until I get there, after all you'll owe me one after this. Where are you?"

She looked up at the wall clock, it was just past 6am. "Uh..." She rubbed her forehead, "I'm at West Hope Memorial."

"Well looks like somebody didn't go to bed like they were told." Vincent replied. "All right, give me a half hour."

Violet hung the phone up, "I tried to." She muttered, and stood up slowly. As she did so, however, the doctor walked back in and shook his head immediately, trying to usher her back onto the bed.

"You need to rest." He said, offering her a couple of pills. Probably for the pain.

"That sounds a lot like, 'you need to wait for the cops to get here'." She corrected, "Look..." She gingerly reached into her pocket and pulled out a small black wallet. The doctor opened it and saw the gleaming badge of a detective.

"Oh, you weren't kidding." The doctor muttered, handing it back to her.

"Wish I was." She replied, "Thanks, Doc." 


The cool morning air helped to wake her up as she stepped outside and looked out across the car park in front of the hospital. After a couple of minutes Violet walked over and sat on a bench and closed her eyes. Next thing she knew she heard the sound of her brother's voice.
"What?" She growled, looking up at him. "Oh, right..." She looked around, rubbing her eyes with her good arm, making sure to keep her injured one still.

Vincent was leaning out of the open window of a black 1979 El Camino that had seen better days. Dented and covered in rust, it's exhaust spewed black fumes out from behind it. The front door on the driver's side had a large scratch caused by some unknown, but undoubtedly inhuman creature. "Do you want to get in before the rush hour starts?" Vincent offered. "I've told you before, the traffic stinks in L.A."

"No worse than you." Violet muttered and slowly stood up and crossed in front of the car and got into the passenger seat. "Just a ride back to my hotel would be great." She pulled on her seat belt and let it rest gently against her shoulder.


"You got it." Vincent replied as he pulled away from the street and took off down the road. "So would you like to sit in awkward silence or do you want to tell me what happened?"

"I'd like to sit in awkward silence." Violet replied, looking out the window, "But I can't really do that," She muttered, "A couple of hours ago, a guy broke into my room at the hotel. I didn't hear a thing, just woke up, felt a weird presence and so I thought maybe something otherwordly was bothering me, but when I checked - nothing." She paused, adjusting her seat belt as it was uncomfortable, "I lean over for a glass of water, and suddenly i'm getting throttled. I shifted into a bear, and he freaked out. I'm pretty sure he's not savvy on magic, or at the very least, what I am, anyway." Violet rolled her window down to let a little air into the car, "So, I shifted, and he shot me a few times. Hospital, phone call, here I am."


"Well, shit." Vincent replied. "Looks like someone has eyes on you. That must mean you're getting close to something."

"Well i'm definitely into some kind of business. But i'm just not sure if it's the right kind." Violet replied, "If we were on the right track, following something magical in nature, do you think they'd send a human to kill a shapeshifter with a pistol? His bullets were just that, too. There wasn't anything on them, they weren't dipped in anything. I'm healing just fine." She paused as she considered what had happened to her, "I think maybe they looked into my past, saw what I used to be, or... what I am, I don't know. Maybe they're just criminals trying to protect something of that nature."


"Sounds to me like somebody has stumbled upon the supernatural world." Vincent replied. "There are plenty of practitioners who awaken their powers without anyone to guide them. It's likely they know nothing of what magic really is, or the laws that they must abide by. If that's the case, if they've stumbled on to some deep, powerful shit...well then they are probably all the more dangerous for their ignorance."

"Oh, shit..." Violet cursed, shaking her head. "LaChance."

"Maybe." Vincent said, but he sounded unconvinced. "It's unlikely that some dipshit with the gift would know how to hide their aura. LaChance didn't give me any vibes, and he seemed completely unaware of the... thing that was attached to him."

"But that's just it." Violet replied, "Maybe it's not him at all." She looked at her brother as she spoke, "Think about it, he stumbles across some magic books, maybe someone tells him he can use magic to further his personal goals. Maybe it's money, or power, I don't know, that's beside the point. He intends to use magic for money, power, influence. Trying to do that, he spawns that, whatever it was called... Adaro?"


Violet twisted in her seat to focus on her brother as they slowed to a crawl, caught in the L.A. traffic. "I think he accidentally spawned an Adaro, and he thinks it failed. He's given up on magic. The Adaro isn't protecting or guarding LaChance, it's whispering in his ear. Feeding his paranoia. It told him to send someone after me, without knowing what I am. And it would make sense that he wasn't hiding his aura, because he's not in control of any magical ability beyond what he's summoned - and that, he doesn't even have control over." Violet paused as the pieces felt like they were falling into place, "But if this is the case, and I think i'm right, that still leaves one missing piece - who told LaChance about magic, and why?" She grinned, "Right? They put LaChance up to this, hoping to stir the pot. It means anything that happens comes back to LaChance, and leaves this unknown party completely blameless. Like a ghost, only worse. We can find ghosts..." She sighed, rubbing her forehead. "Whatever the case, I want to get my things back at the hotel room. I got rushed out of there so fast I couldn't get my sidearm." Violet's face tensed as she realised she'd said something her brother had never heard before. They hadn't seen each other since their teens, barely spoken. Vincent had no idea she'd been a cop, or worked her way up to becoming a detective prior to being pulled back into the world of magic. Violet sighed, it looked like it was going to be another long day.

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Vincent pulled up outside the Gethsemane, the hotel Violet was staying at. He pulled down on the handbrake and left the motor running, turning to his sister. "You should probably get some rest." He suggested to Violet. "But if you get restless you could use some of that pull of yours and do some digging. I'm heading back to my apartment to take care of some things. I read as much as I could about the Adaro but there really isn't much on record." Vincent rubbed his neck, an expression of unease appearing on his face. "At the moment it exists within the immaterial realm, so we can't kill it by any traditional means. Evocation is a no go, fire might hurt it I guess, it works on spirits and ghosts at least. I'm going to cook up some stuff that might be effective, but we're essentially going in blind on this thing. We'll just have to keep hitting it with things and see what sticks."

"At a glance, i'd say the easiest way to put down this creature, is to incapacitate or kill LaChance." Violet replied, "That's not exactly option number one. But we're going to have to keep that option open, as that thing was born of LaChance's greed, ambition and lust for power, it's entirely possible it's only going to go down when it can't feed on that any more." Then she laughed, "As for resting, i'm good on sleep for a few days. Getting strangled in your room will do that to you. Anyway, if it's like a ghost or spirit, we could try iron. It won't kill a ghost outright, but it can stop it from holding a form or affecting us physically."


"I suppose that could work." Vincent replied. "Or it could latch on to someone else and keep going. Think of what something like that could do if it was feeding on me or you." Vincent shook his head, disappointed. "I don't like uncertainties when it comes to magic. Besides...I'm really not down with killing a mortal to get a result. Even if the guy is an idiot, that doesn't mean he deserves to die. Also if someone else is pulling the strings he could be our only lead."


"I agree, we shouldn't want to kill him, and hopefully we won't have to. But if it comes down to it, and killing him could save more lives, i'll do it." Violet frowned as something Vincent had said came back to her, "Hang on, what do you mean 'if it was feeding on me or you'?" Violet leant across the car and pulled back one of Vincent's sleeves. Nothing. She pulled on his shirt and checked his chest, "Vincent, really?" She growled, sitting back in her seat. "It doesn't take much to ward yourself against possession, scrying, lots of easily preventable magical assaults. Just the right symbols, sigils, and so on, just a little ink. Are you afraid of needles or something?"

"Don't lecture me on proper equipment." Vincent replied coldly. "I didn't see you carrying a focus last night. Of course we can protect ourselves, but we don't have all the answers. The point is we're in the dark on this one, anything could happen." Vincent nodded his head towards the street outside. "Now buzz off, I've got work to do."


"Lecture?! God, you haven't changed a bit." Violet growled and got out of the car, but she stood there, holding the door open, "Before I came to live with you, dad used to say 'your brother' this and 'your brother' that, but I wasn't allowed to meet you because 'they wouldn't understand'. You were up on this pedestal that I couldn't reach, but to you and your mother I was nothing. Less than nothing. I wasn't lecturing you, Vince. I just..." She trailed off, "... you've always been impulsive, and stubborn and chaotic. I just don't like it when you take chances." She muttered.


"I don't take chances with magic." Vincent replied. "Not any more..." he added, before hitting the gas and driving off, not leaving his sister the opportunity to have the final word. Her words had touched a nerve, but he had to admit that he had probably done the same to her. He didn't deny the fact that he could be a real asshole at times. In truth he didn't much care what others felt about him. However for the last 5 years he had followed a very strict code when it came to magic. Admittedly Violet had no way of knowing this, and in his youth he was often reckless with his magic. Not now though, not since he had experienced something unfortunate, which had opened his eyes. 





Vincent walked along the corridor to his apartment and took his keys from the pocket of his duster. However when he went for the door he heard a growing shuffling of feet and turned to see a rather overweight man in his late 40's with a balding head and wearing a stained white vest. "Well if it isn't my old pal Teddy Sinclair. How's the wife?" Vincent asked, his tone dry and sarcastic. Teddy frowned and held out his hand. 

"Cut the shit, Hallow. You're late on rent." Teddy almost growled. Vincent smirked and reached in to his duster, retrieving his wallet. He pulled his stack of notes from it and began to count out money. 

"So that's 300 for rent, 80 for utilities...there, all square?" Vincent said as he held out the cash. Teddy took the money and pocketed it, but held out his hand again. 

"Think again, Hallow." He replied. "You owe me 50 bucks for busting the entrance door last month. Oh and 65 bucks for unauthorized maintenance."

"Unauthorised what?" Vincent asked. Teddy simply nodded to the foot of the door. The base of the threshold had an additional layer of wood that had been nailed rather crudely in to the floor. "What, that?" Vincent held up his hands in protest. "That's genuine Ashwood from the mountains of Peru. That's single piece will increase your property value by a few hundred bucks at least! Not to mention it's extremely effective at keeping out nasty spirits."


"It clashes with the regulation timber." Teddy replied, unconvinced. "And I could give two shits about your spiritual mumbo jumbo. Cough up."

"Fine!" Vincent resigned himself and handed over the rest of his cash, having only a measly 5 bucks left for himself. "You're a real piece of work Teddy!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Teddy replied as he walked off. "Don't be late this month or I'll be coming with an eviction notice next time."


Vincent entered his apartment and slammed the door behind him. In the light of day the sheer messiness of his apartment became wholly apparent. He didn't decorate so much in colours as he did textures. The walls were covered in thick rugs which clashed horribly with each other, the patterns and designs ranging from Indonesian, Peruvian, to Native American and Middle Eastern. His floor was much of the same but the rugs were covered in thick stains in some areas and even scorch marks in others. Vincent threw his cane on the sofa and dropped his duster to the floor. His apartment was void of any conventional comforts, such as a television or even a cd player, computer. He considered such things to be a distraction, and so he chose not to have them. It might have also had something to do with him being flat broke. 


Vincent lit the bunsen burner on his kitchen table and began to collect things he would need that were scattered around his room. The first thing he picked up was a large piece of chalk. He tossed it on the sofa next to his cane. Chalk was an important tool for wizards. Complex spells often required a magically sterile environment, and this required a magic circle. Simply put a magic circle was able to keep things out, or keep things in. It could be used as a trap, or a line of defense, but it was also used to provide a safe environment for more refined forms of magic. Circles could be made of many different materials but any accomplished wizard could make an effective circle with some salt or chalk. Magic was all about faith. You couldn't cast a spell if you didn't believe you could do it. The same was true of circles. Inexperienced practitioners would use rare materials, perhaps metals or powdered minerals. However this was simply unnecessary. When it came to circles the material was less important than faith in the spell. 


Vincent went to his bookshelf and held out his hand, forcing out his will towards it. The simple act allowed him to find a rather large and old-looking book which he had cast a camouflage spell on. In simple terms the spell made the book seem unappealing and disinteresting to anyone nearby, and so they would find themselves having no reason to pick it up. The reason for this was quite simple. The old book was Vincent's Grimoire, a collection of magical spells, potions and enchantments that he had found or developed over the years. He thumbed through the book before opening it on a page containing enchantments and left it on the counter. 


He pulled a wooden chest out from under his sofa and opened it. Inside were a collection of talismans, bracelets, charms, bangles and an assortment of other artefacts. Currently, none of them were of any particular significance, but with a little bit of magic they would be a welcome addition to his arsenal. He pulled a pentacle talisman from it and examined it. After brief consideration he tied it around his neck. The talisman needed no enchantment. It was a symbol of magic, and magic was his faith. In that sense it held the same significance as a Star of David or a Cross to someone of a more traditional religion. 


Faith alone was capable of driving back dark creatures. Many priests believe that the symbol of the cross can drive back the "spawn of satan", but really it is their own faith that does it. The symbol simply acts as a conduit for their own faith, and power is channelled through it. Hypothetically speaking someone could use the same magic whether they had faith in God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Assuming their faith was true, at least. Vincent rummaged through the box again and this time he pulled out a charm bracelet quite similar to the one he currently wore. 


The charm he was wearing had been enchanted. Specifically he used it as a focus for barrier magic. By channelling his will through the bracelet he was able to throw up powerful shields to protect him from both physical and spiritual attacks. He could do this without the charm, of course, but by using a focus he was able to refine his magic and make it stronger and more effective for specific things. His cane was enchanted for the use of Evocation, a school of magic that consisted of creating elements through memory alone. It was a messy and often destructive brand of magic, and so it was a generally accepted practice to use a focus of some sort, be it a wand or a staff, or in his case, a cane. 


Finally Vincent retrieved a ring from the box before putting it back under the sofa. He took his objects and placed them on a section of his floor where he had fixed a permanant circle of copper that was fixed to the floor. After putting the charm bracelet in to the circle he pushed a small piece of his will into it. He felt a thrum of energy as the circle's magic isolated all outside forces and created a sterile environment. He retrieved his Grimoire and sat on the floor next to the circle. He held out his hand and continued to channel his will into the circle. He thought about what he wanted, and committed himself to it. This seemed simple enough to describe but the practice required deep concentration. To perform truly effective Enchantments one had to remove all excess thoughts and focus entirely on what one wanted to perform. 


Enchantment was a form of Thaumaturgy, something Vincent considered to be the most refined and elegant forms of magic. Thaumaturgy was a type of magic that involved creating a link between an object and a spell. A common example of this was Haitian voodoo, but Enchantment was another form. Essentially it was creating a magical link between an object and the type of magic it was to be used for. In this case, Vincent was creating an enchantment that would provide him with defence against Psychomancy, or magic used to control or alter a person's mind. Combined with his barrier charm, this would give him a good all round defence. 


After fixing the charm to his other wrist, he repeated the enchanting process with the ring. This time he enchanted the ring to gather kinetic energy. The way it worked, was that every little momvement he made, every step, gesture, twitch or jerk, every motion in general would push just a little piece of itself into the ring. By focusing his will in tot he ring, and providing some force behind it, he would be able to throw a punch that would be otherwise unthinkable for a scrawny man like himself. It was a somewhat crude enchantment, but useful as a last resort. 


Afterwards he made his way to his kitchen and spent the next few hours making potions, filling vials with various contents and making preparations for the night ahead. As it began to grow dark Vincent was sipping from a pot of microwave noodles as he surveyed what he had prepared. His cane sat on the sofa, and he was already wearing his ring and charms, as well as his pentacle talisman. There was a pouch filled with what he called "Ghost Dust", a powder of his own making consisting of depleted uranium, cold iron, basil, salt and a few other choice minerals. It was a pretty good all-purpose material that could trap spiritual entities, even those which had become physical through ectoplasmic flesh. The downside was it burned them like fire and really pissed them off, and it's effects did not last very long. However in situations like this a catch-all powder was the best solution. 


He also had a shaker of salt, and his brick of chalk. Two small red vials were filled with a red liquid. The potions had a sort of warming effect. When certain Ghosts and spirits passed through a mortal body, the extreme chill they left behind could be incredibly debilitating. The potion would warm their bodies quite rapidly in this instance and lessen the effects, although not remove them entirely. Next were three small vials filled with dust, one midnight blue, the other black, and the other a shocking pink. These were for performing banishment rituals. He didn't quite know what this Adaro was, but once again these banishing minerals were the most widely effective, and so together they would hopefully form a catch-all effect. However, they could equally be entirely useful and result in the Adaro tearing them to shreds. 


"I'm spending my last 5 bucks on beer when this is over." Vincent said to himself as he reached for his phone and dialled Violet's number. It rang a few times and then she picked up. "All right I'm about as prepared as I can be. Tell me you've got something, because I have a really bad feeling about this."

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She watched Vincent drive away, leaving her outside the hotel. For a while, Violet stood outside, lost in her thoughts. Had she been too hard on Vincent? She had always thought of him as a reckless boy, but he wasn't that person any more than she was who she was as a child. A lot had probably happened to Vincent, and there was likely as much she didn't know about him, as he didn't know about her. Her shoulder ached, and the discomfort roused her from her melancholy. Violet entered the hotel and went up to her room, closing the door behind her. The staff had apologised, saying her room wasn't ready yet, but she ignored them. She stepped over broken furniture, glass strewn across the floor. Her room was a wreck, but so was she. She took her shirt off and checked the bullet wounds in the mirror. They were healing nicely, but it would still be a day or two before she was back to normal. She tentatively stretched, testing her physical limits and was pleasantly surprised. It had helped a lot to see a doctor and get the wounds stitched closed. Violet's body was covered in tattoos, for everything from runes and symbols to a list of names and strange writings. One of the bullet wounds now partially hid a symbol on her arm. She sighed. So much for that.


There was only one thing to do. She had to know for sure who had killed Rebecca. There was no use pursuing LaChance or the creature on his shoulder if it was unrelated to the murder of that woman. Violet took her jacket off and changed into some fresh clothes and then made some space in her room. She pushed her bed to one side, cleaned up the glass on the floor and then picked up one of the shards and sat down on the carpet. She pressed the glass firmly into her left palm and pulled the glass across her flesh, careful not to cut too deeply. For a moment, her palm didn't bleed, but then it came pouring out like a little red stream.

She ran her hand slowly across the floor, tracing a circle until it was complete. She needed a magic circle to stop her summon from escaping or doing her any harm. She licked her palm clean and concentrated on it. A mixture of her faster healing factor and focused magic helped it to heal over relatively quickly. She only found it annoying she couldn't heal something as complicated as deep tissue wounds like those inflicted by bullets. The circle was complete, Violet pulled her phone out. She opened her pictures folder and scrolled until a picture of Rebecca appeared. The picture was sectioned off down the middle, on one side, the picture was of Rebecca at a bar, smiling at whoever was taking the picture. She seemed happy. The other side of the picture was a police shot of her corpse. The ragged, drained body.


Laying the phone to one side, Violet knelt and got comfortable, just outside the circle of blood. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Summoning ghosts was like anything in the world of magic. Focus and strength of will. That, and a little luck. Violet waited for a short while, getting the picture of Rebecca clear in her mind, her death and who she had been. Then, when she was ready, Violet opened her mouth to speak her name.

"Rebecca..." She whispered. A few moments passed, Violet breathed slowly, listening with her eyes closed. She felt the room cool dramatically, her breath escaped her lips as a visible cloud of mist. "Who hurt you, Rebecca?" Violet asked, opening her eyes.

She was sat in front of her. Rebecca. She looked much as she did in life. But she didn't look happy. She was confused and upset. She looked around the room slowly, her eyes falling on each object as though she was considering them intently.

"Rebecca?" Violet asked again.
The ghost looked directly at her, "What do you want?" Rebecca asked, frowning.
"Can you tell me who hurt you?" Violet replied, watching her carefully. Ghosts could turn at the drop of a hat, and she had to watch for it. The magic circle would protect her, but ghosts are almost forces of nature. Emotion made physical. She could still affect the room once she got her bearings, and if she found a way to break the circle...


"I don't remember." Rebecca replied, but her tone was full of doubt. Her right hand clasped her left arm nervously.
"You do, Rebecca." Violet replied, offering the woman a warm smile, "I need you to help me catch your killer. Can you describe them?"
"Killer? I'm not dead." Rebecca replied, matter-of-factly. 

Every time, Violet thought to herself, and sighed. "You're dead, Rebecca. You were murdered."
"That can't be, I remember... I remember... how did I get here?" 

Violet leant to one side and picked her phone up, "I'm going to upset you now, Rebecca, but I want you to stay focused on me, okay?" She held the screen up to the ghost and showed the woman the dual picture. Rebecca's face fell, she looked as though she couldn't believe what she was looking at, and yet at the same time, realisation dawned on her face.
"That... I don't understand... that can't be..." Tears graced Rebecca's cheeks, her eyes fell to the floor, "I was... I was just walking out... for a cigarette. I saw something..." She frowned, shaking her head as she began to recall her last moments. "It came at me, like... gaunt, white... but those eyes..."
"The eyes?" Violet asked, encouraging her.
"Horrible, blue eyes... staring right into me. Then..." Rebecca veered off into silence and Violet let out a sigh and leaned back. That was all she was going to get from her. Then she could see the change beginning. 

Rebecca turned from confusion to anger, and injustice. Her mood darkened, and the room got colder. She stood up and started shouting, "I want to go home! I want to see my mom, let me go! You're not keeping me here any longer, I have customers waiting!!" She banged her fists against the air, unable to escape Violet's magic circle. "Let me out!!!" She yelled. The lamp behind Violet fell from it's resting place. It was time to finish this.
"Go home, Rebecca." Violet commanded. Just as quickly as she had appeared, the ghost was gone. The room quickly warmed right up once again and she had her answer. There was no doubt any longer. Rebecca's killer had been the Adaro. Whether LaChance was controlling it or not, he was connected, either way. Violet stood up and pulled on her jacket and checked the time. It was late, a lot later than she'd realised. She picked up her phone, started to dial Vincent's number and stopped. She felt the room become cool once more, and she immediately went on guard. Rebecca appeared once again, but she looked haggard. 

"Rebecca?" Violet asked, frowning. Rebecca howled and struck out at the magic circle. Her fists hit the air and Violet quickly took a step back and tried to call Vincent, but the phone was pulled from her hands before she could dial. How had Rebecca returned to the physical realm? The ghost froze up, staring at her. Violet felt a chill up her spine, and then Rebecca spoke. But when she opened her mouth, it wasn't her voice. But someone else entirely.
"Which is better, Miss Hallows?" The voice was sickly sweet, feminine. The voice was kind, but fake. Violet took an immediate dislike to it.

"Who are you?" Violet asked, getting ready for anything. 
"Is it better to be born good? Or is it better to overcome your evil nature through great effort?"
"Why are you asking me this? Who are you?!" Violet snapped.

"You know why." She responded. The light's flickered and suddenly the bulb popped, casting the room into darkness. Violet held up one hand and summoned a flame into her palm, bringing light back to the room. Rebecca was gone.


"Dammit..." Violet clenched her teeth and let the flame in her palm dissipate before she walked out of her apartment room. There was nothing left for her there any more. As she reached the exit and walked out into the cool night air, her phone rang. When she picked up, she heard her brother's voice.

"All right I'm about as prepared as I can be. Tell me you've got something, because I have a really bad feeling about this."

"For good reason," Violet replied, "LaChance isn't the one in control. I don't know if the Adaro is acting on it's own, or taking commands from another entity, but this goes deeper than LaChance. I had a little run-in with our puppet master. I'll tell you when I get there." Violet hung up and pulled her car keys from her pocket and unlocked her car. Getting in, she turned the heater to full. She felt chilled to the bone. She sat there for a little while, and then finally started up the engine, and rolled out of the hotel parking lot and made her way to Vincent's. 

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By the time Vincent had stepped out of his building and on to the street it was dark, although still early evening but the darkness came quickly in the Winter. He let out an embittered sigh with visible frost escaping his lips before he shoved his free hand in his duster, the other gripping his cane. He spotted Violet's car and strolled over, opened the door, and stepped inside. Slamming the door behind him as he sat down he rested his cane in between his legs and gave his sister a tired glance. "So what's the story?" he asked. 

"Necromancer." Violet replied, "I was communing with Rebecca's ghost. Confirmed it was the Adaro that killed her, by the way. If that's what that thing is, anyway." She paused as she adjusted the heater, lowering it to a comfortable level, "But when I released her, something brought her back and took control of her. Tried to attack me, and when it failed, the master spoke through her."


Vincent let out a heavy sigh and held his head back so he was staring at the ceiling of the car. He said nothing for a moment, silence lingering as he gathered his thoughts. Necromancy was bad news in his book. Magic was a force of life essence, but Necromancy was a dark art associated with death. He had heard purists describe it as elegant and pure in it's own right, that death was just a natural part of life. In truth the art was but a stones throw away from Ectomancy, yet it was different, darker. Most disturbingly this Necromancer had spoke through the vessel of a ghost. "Thou shalt not enthrall another." Vincent spoke softly as if recanting a rehearsed line that he had spoken many times. "Ghosts are just shades...but they are creatures with thought and feelings of their own. To do such a thing..."

"It doesn't matter, Vincent." Violet replied coldly, "It's horrible, but our concern shouldn't be on what she's done, but on what she's going to do. Someone out there with the power and the inclination to use it, but without the moral compass? We need to find them, and fast or we could end up with a lot worse than a ghost being used as a Muppet."

"Fair point." Vincent replied, bringing his gaze back down from the ceiling and looking out of the front window of the car. "So what do you propose? We can go after LaChance and see what he knows. However...he's a mortal. I got no magical vibes off of him whatsoever, even with my Sight. If he's just another pawn then we can't just take him out. Our top priority is removing the Adaro from him. If that's even possible..."


"I still think he's key." Violet replied, thinking back to the creature on LaChance's shoulder, "He's not in control, that much is clear. Maybe he didn't put that thing on his shoulder, maybe he's not even aware of it. I think this necromancer could have put it there to keep an eye on him. I'm worried though," Violet started the car's engine, "What happens when it knows we're trying to extract information from him?"

"Previous experience in this game tells me it gets pissed and tries to kill us." Vincent replied somewhat casually. "Going in guns blazing is a bad idea. If we could create a link to LaChance then maybe I can counteract whatever is going on. Blood would be best but hair could also work. Then once he's clear we nuke it. I've got three banishing potions, one of them should work." 

"Should." Violet repeated, "Fantastic. Failing that, i've got a back-up, but i'd rather not use it. It's not exactly growing on trees." She muttered, and patted her jacket before driving the car out onto the main road and joining the rest of the L.A. traffic, "Well I hope Mr. LaChance isn't expecting us. Evil spirits I can deal with, but i'm about done with bullets for today."


"So how do you want to play this?" Vincent asked. "Getting his hair or blood isn't going to be easy. I could veil if the Adaro can see through them he'll go for me. If I can't form a link Thaumaturgy is out, so we have to do it somehow. Maybe you could wonder twin yourself in to a wood pigeon and scoop up some of his hair for me."

"Funny." Violet muttered, keeping her eyes on the road. "Actually..." She thought for a moment, "Forget animals, maybe I can shift into someone he trusts. Problem is, I can't just shift into anything I want, Vincent. I need to have touched them first. We need to find out who is closest to LaChance and arrange a chance meeting."

"Did you do that on purpose?" Vincent said with a raised brow. 

"I..." Realisation dawned on Violet's face, "Very good, Vince. You should go on tour." She rolled her eyes at him. "Maybe I should shift into someone who found that funny."


"Alright then, so who are LaChance's associates?" Vincent asked, looking at his sister expectantly.

"I know about LaChance because of... well, I know about LaChance. I don't exactly live in his world, Vincent." Violet muttered irritably. "I'm not privy to his social circle."

"Okay." Vincent replied simply. "Then we go find out. I need to get some actual investigation in my invoicing for this client anyway. So let's go over what we do know." Vincent leant forward and drummed his hands over the dashboard briefly before continuing. "So we got a dead mortal, probably just caught in the crossfire. Jimmy the vamp is getting set up to take the hit, but not by the mortal cops. Whoever did this laid a trail for us to follow, or some other wizards. Maybe they thought The Wise would pick it up or something. At any rate that tells us that the pressure our perpetrator is applying to Jimmy is for the sake of supernaturals. Jimmy was shittin' in his pants, so I doubt he's got much support from The Midnight Court. I could call a few friends and see if Midnight are involved with him just to be sure." Vincent paused for a moment and rubbed his temples, trying to piece together everything they had. "So LaChance is a mortal, and a competitor with Jimmy, but he must have some supernatural backing somewhere down the line. Otherwise the killing wouldn't be done in this way. LaChance probably knows about the supernatural side of the world in some way. He's got a badass bodyguard straight out of The Void, and some Necromancer bitch is pulling the strings. Say what you want about dark wizards, they like to keep a low profile. This dumbass provoked you...and that...was a mistake."


Vincent turned to his sister, his emerald eyes glinting with energy as he spoke. "Think about it, would you do that? Would you reveal yourself like that? I mean clearly she has balls, which means she has power. But more importantly it means she knows who you are. She's...scared of you. She might not even notice it on a conscious level but...she has to be. Right?"

"If she's smart." Violet replied, raising an eyebrow. Vincent gave a sly grin. 

"I like your fire, sis." he said, "But no offence or anything...but you've been kind of in the dark for years now. I might be a socially awkward cave troll but I keep feelers in the community. You're kind of a...well a nobody."

"You're right. I am a nobody. I liked it like that, and still do." Violet replied, "It took a great deal of effort to put me there, so what I want to know is how does this necromancer know anything about me. Even when I came back to..." She shrugged, "All this... I still took steps to remain in the shadows. You might like the status it brings, Vincent, but being a wizard celebrity doesn't help you in the world of magic. Especially when you're supposed to be a monster."


"Hey I said no offence." Vincent replied, a hint of a smirk on his face. "I think it's smart. I'd do the same but...well you know me. Trouble seeks me out like a moth to a flame."

"Did you just call me 'smart'?" She asked, a grin spread across her face. "Anyway, i'm starting to see what you mean. Though i'm hardly surprised." She shifted in the car seat, moving the seatbelt away from the bullet wound in her shoulder.

"You don't know the half of it." Vincent said with a roll of his eyes. "Maybe I'll tell you a few stories when this is all over. But we have work to do. Let's go see a few friends of mine. Can you take us to Hollywood Hills? I'll let you know the house when I see it."

"Alright." She replied, "Want to explain why we're going to Hollywood Hills?"

"Simple." Vincent said as he leaned back and put his arms behind his head. "We're going to have a chat with the Midnight Court."


When they finally got up in to the Hills Vincent directed Violet to a large gated manor and she pulled up to it. At the Gate was a guard post and a dark haired gorilla of a man in a black suit walked up to the window of the car and leant in as the window went down. Vincent leant over so he could get a look at the man and gave a toothy grin. "Good evening, Lurch. Is Morticia in? Gomez? Heck I'll speak to Fester at this point."

"Hallow..." the guard snarled. "Lady Lucia isn't taking guests right now. Beat it."

"Ah-ah, Lurch!" Vincent replied. "You see Lucia is going to want to talk to me. Unless you want me to report her for not keeping her flunkies on a tight leash. You know I could make life difficult for her. Also last time you told me to beat it I made you take a nap, hm?"

"...Wait a minute." Lurch said with a tired tone. He leant away from the car and mumbled something in to his radio. After a moment there was a crackled response and then he waved his hand at the car. "You've got 15 minutes, go." he said simply, and the gates opened. Violet took them up the winding driveway to the front of the manor and when they pulled over Vincent stepped out immediately, his sister following not far behind him. 


They walked up the white marble stairs as another man in a suit opened the front doors and they stepped inside. The manor was decorated with white marble and dark oak, with crimson velvet furniture. The entire affair was elegant, regal and downright expensive. They made their way into a large open plan lounge area, which had darker walls and was lit only by candles. Men and women were scattered around the room, laying across sofas, or simply on the floor. They all looked at their new guests with a hazy expression, but their eyes were dazzled and captivated. Most of them vampires, although a few with marks on their skin were clearly familiars. They were willing sources of food, and at least according to magical laws, there was no wrong in them being here. 


"Vincent Hallow...what a lovely surprise." A woman's voice called from across the room. She had dark skin for a vampire, and combined with the dark brown, almost black hair, her latin heritage shone through her even in undeath. Her eyes were a dark brown, and she was dressed in an elegant ensemble consisting of black leggings, a white halter neck gown over it, and a pair of white pumps. Her lips were a dark cocoa red, and when she smiled she was nothing short of a vision. 

"Lucia, how's it hanging?" Vincent replied cooly, as he eyed the other vampires in the room. "Guests from out of town I take it? Did you inform them of my rules?"

"Of course, darling." Lucia replied. "Nobody here has any desire to glamour you..." Lucia's gaze turned to Violet and she sniffed the air. "You smell...wild."

"Smell something else." Violet replied, staring Lucia down.

"Ooh...definitely a predator." Lucia said with a grin


"This isn't a social call, Lucia." Vincent said, trying to cut the small talk. 

"It never is with you." Lucia purred. "A shame, really. You're no fun."

"Oh I have lot's of fun." Vincent replied. "It was really fun talking with that weasel Jimmy. He's one of yours, right?" Lucia's expression soured a little but her response was still polite. 

"I would never turn one such as that...but he is Sanguine, of course." She said. 

"But he's in your jurisdiction, Countess." Vincent said. 


"Yes, that is true." Lucia said with a bored sigh. "If this is about what happened last night I can assure you it was nothing to do with The Midnight Court. We aren't that...careless."

"But you probably have some idea who is trying to set you up, right?" Vincent said with a slight raise of his eyebrows. "You know you're being set up, right?"

"The mortal had an issue with James. He has no quarrel with us, nor do I think he even knows we exist." Lucia replied. 

"LaChance is packing some big, bad magic for a mortal. An Adaro, you ever heard of one of those?"

"Can't say I have." Lucia replied, but her gaze flickered for a moment. She was hiding something.


"Look, Lucia. We all know you have a duty to investigate all incidents involving your kind within L.A. Otherwise you'll get your ass kicked by your boss. So don't bullshit me."

"We do not share internal matters with outsiders, wizard" Lucia replied, hissing the last word. "You overstep."

"Aww...that's too bad." Vincent replied mockingly. "You see my sister here...she's not like me. She's not bound by the accords, like I am." this comment caught her attention. Her brood hissed in response, but Lucia simply stared at Violet, her eyes filled with sudden alertness. "If she were to...say...kill all your guests, well...technically that doesn't breach the laws of hospitality. And if you retaliate...then I would be forced to step in to protect a mortal in danger. Do you understand?"


"If I step in, i'm not going to stop at your entourage." Violet put her hands on her hips and grinned, "I don't imagine you've ever been bitten by a pit viper, but let me sum it up for you. It's like someone has a blowtorch, and are burning you from the inside out. And the pain can last for months," She paused, "Oh," Violet added, as though just remembering, "And painkillers have no effect on it."


Lucia hesitated for a moment, gauging Violet intently. Then she gave a soft smile and relaxed herself again. "My dear, there is no need." she said as she settled back on the sofa. "Vincent you may ask one question, and I will answer it truthfully."

"Sweet." Vincent replied. "Aaron LaChance. I'm guessing his nightclub is a front. What's his game?"

"Oh, Vincent." Lucia replied with a smirk. "What a boring question. He's in the pharmaceutical business. Illegally, of course. James didn't like his girls getting muddled up with that sort of thing. LaChance is simply protecting his business. He works with Arturo Giuseppe, another less than honest businessman. His home is down by the beach front."

"Right, thanks." Vincent replied. "Be seeing you."


"Oh, before you go Vincent?" Lucia called. Vincent raised his eyebrow in response. "Just a little warning, darling. You're walking a pretty dangerous path if you pursue this. If you keep at it I am almost certain that you will defy the accords soon enough. When you do...I will be there to kill you. Please remember that."

"You're a real sweetheart." Vincent replied. "Enjoy your...uh...dinner. Later." Vincent made to leave and made sure Violet was following him. They returned to the car but did not speak until they got inside. "Alright, there you go. Arturo Giuseppe. Think you can get close to him?"

"Vincent, why was a vampire invoking the accords to you? Why are you even bound by them?" Violet studied her brother, her gaze narrowed on him.

"Oh, that..." Vincent gave a soft shrug and scratched the back of his head. "I...well I'm sort of a representative of The Order of The Wise now. It happened a few years back...ask me later okay?" he asked her, but his tone indicated that it clearly wasn't a question. "Let's just get this guy, okay?"

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"You're a representative of The Order of the Wise?" Violet repeated, surprise on her face. "No, I don't think we're glossing over that one." She added, as they made their way back to her car. She got in and as Vincent closed the passenger-side door, she started the car and pulled onto the main road. "We've got time, let's talk about it now."

"Later." Vincent insisted. "You need to keep your focus, now is not the time."
"I'm quite focused, thank you. Here, let me give you an example," Violet glanced at her brother before turning her attention back on the road, "I still want to know why you're a representative for the self-appointed magic police." She growled.


"First of all." Vincent replied testily, "Becoming a representative is a de-facto title. When you are declared a wizard by their standards. That doesn't mean I'm one of those assholes. Secondly, they're nothing like cops. They're more like politicians and judges. Only a select few actually do any policing."

"Uh-huh," Violet muttered, "When a group go around telling people how to use magic, and killing them for breaking their made up rules, i'd call that policing. Though i'd also call that being judge, jury and executioner, but I was being polite, for once." 

"They aren't the good guys, I'm not saying they are." Vincent gave a sort of frustrated sigh. "But what they do is... necessary. That doesn't mean it's right, and in practice it's probably all sorts of fucked up but... if nobody followed the laws this world would be way more fucked up."

"Whatever." Violet shook her head, leant forwards and turned the radio on, twisting the volume dial right up. The conversation was over.


When they finally arrived at the beach front, Violet pulled into a small car park and killed the engine. A couple minute's walk down the beach, they could see a large house. It was modern, stationed by the beach and by all rights, was probably worth millions. They got out of the car and Violet locked it, pocketing the keys. "So, does this guy know who you are?" She asked.

"Who? Giuseppe?" Vincent asked, but quickly shook his head side to side. "Nah. Well I don't think so anyway. I don't know if you noticed but I'm sort of a recluse, y'know?"

"That's all I needed to know." Violet replied, and closed her eyes. Images of a thousand faces flashed through her mind. If Arturo Giuseppe was anything like LaChance, she would have to be a victim. Disarming, attractive, feminine, submissive. Violet's body changed as she stood beside Vincent. Her figure became more of an hourglass, with an ample chest. Her skin became lighter, unblemished. Her tattoos, markings and scars vanished. Her hair flushed into a bright blonde and grew out to below her shoulders. Her face morphed to lose the native american feature's she had inherited from her mother. Her lips became plump and her eyes turned light blue. Her clothes morphed too, but because of her magic. She was now wearing a black dress that looked as though she'd been poured into it, and high heels. A necklace fell down into her cleavage. "Don't say a word." She muttered, irritably.

"Uh..." Vincent replied. "I'm not touching that..."





A knock on the door. Arturo Giuseppe took the glass of scotch from his lips and picked up the pistol on his coffee table. Giuseppe was a large man. Both tall and muscular. He had a strong fake tan, slick hair and an action hero chin. But he also wore suits that were badly fitted, and colour coordinated. The suit he adjusted as he stood up was a brilliant white, with a prison orange shirt underneath. He stalked up to his front door and looked through the peep hole. He saw a young, attractive woman, holding onto the shoulder of a man he didn't recognize. The woman looked as though she was in pain, she was holding her right foot up off the ground and a broken high heel clutched in her other hand. He frowned and while still holding the gun out of their sight, opened the door to them.
"Hey, what do you want?" He asked, looking at each of them.
"I'm really sorry," Violet said in a voice entirely not her own, "My heel broke, my brother was taking me to a party and I think I twisted my ankle. It really hurts! Do you have a phone we could use and maybe an ice pack?" She flashed a lop-sided, sheepish grin at Giuseppe.
"Sorry if we're disturbing." Vincent said with a soft smile, although he was clearly not the actor his sister was, and had opted for a particularly neutral façade.
Giuseppe sighed, "Fine." He closed the door, pushed the pistol into his trousers and made sure his shirt was covering it, and then opened the door, "Ice in the fridge, phone's on the table." He said, and walked back to his sofa and picked up his drink. Vincent walked in and Violet took a step towards the door but felt an invisible force pushing against her. She couldn't enter, because Giuseppe hadn't invited her in. She cursed inwardly and then called out, "It's alright to come in?" She asked.
"Yeah, I opened the door, didn't I?" He yelled back, taking a sip of his drink. Violet felt the barrier in front of her disappear and she stepped inside with a sigh. She gave Vincent a look and nodded at Giuseppe before hobbling into the kitchen. She started putting together an ice pack, hoping to give Vincent a little time to talk to Giuseppe before she came through.
Vincent picked up the phone and dialled a number, his own phone at his apartment. After it rang for a moment it went through to his answering machine. "Tch!" Vincent shook his head and looked to Giuseppe, pointing at the phone. "On hold." he said with a sigh. "I'll be as quick as I can."
"No problem." Giuseppe replied in his italian-american accent. He said nothing else but he didn't leave, clearly still a little suspicious of Vincent. 
"So uh... this is a nice place, bet it cost a buck or two." Vincent said, trying to sound casual. 
"Yeah. It did." Giuseppe replied, giving him nothing. Vincent contemplated a moment before activating his Sight. He didn't much like doing it, but thankfully what he saw was nothing too alarming. The room was much as it appeared normally, and Giuseppe himself, while a particularly grotesque version of himself, was definitely human and there was no familiar thrum of magical energy. 
"Come on... this is a joke." Vincent said complacently as he held the phone to his ear. "I'm uh... Bob." He swore at himself internally as he said it. "What's your name buddy?"
"... Arturo." came the somewhat hesistant response. "Look buddy are you gonna be much longer? I'm a busy man."
"Out of my hands I'm afraid." Vincent replied. "Still on hold."


"Hey, sorry," Violet interrupted their awkward conversation as she came back in, walking gingerly on her 'injured' foot. "I've got an ice pack, I don't want to take up any more of your time, so we'll be going." She started towards the door, "Come on, Bob." She added, with a smile.

"Uh, right." Vincent replied as he put the phone down. "Well thanks, I guess..."

"Sorry we bothered you," Violet added, ushering Vincent out the door. She turned back to look at Giuseppe and smiled, "You've been a big help, anyway." She leant in and kissed Giuseppe on the cheek and walked out, closing the door behind her. The two of them walked back down the beach, and with nobody in sight and them clear of Giuseppe's home, Violet quickly shifted back to her normal self, shaking as she did so as though she was casting off something unpleasant. "I'm glad that's done with."

"Well if nothing else comes from it." Vincent said with a sly grin, "At the very least I'm sure Arturo would love to take you on a date."

"He's not my type." She muttered, "Anyway, now we can get close to LaChance." She flashed Vincent a wicked grin, and in Giuseppe's voice said, "Let's go see 'im."

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The hour had become late once again as Vincent and Violet pulled up outside Aether for the second night in a row. Vincent pulled a couple of vials out of his pocket and tossed one of them to Violet. "Drink that." He said as he twisted the cap off his own and swallowed it's contents. 

"I don't take drinks from strange men." Violet muttered, shaking the vial as she stared at it's liquid contents, "What is it?"

"It's a warming potion." Vincent explained. "It'll run you a little hot, but not dangerously so. Just in case that Adaro decides to 'ghost' you. It won't totally stop the chill but it'll keep you sharp enough to bounce back."

"I run plenty hot enough." Violet replied, knowing her body's temperature was a lot higher than a human's. Nevertheless, she drank the liquid. Having a ghost move through you is an unpleasant experience, and if her brother's little potion would help at all, that was fine by her. "What's the plan?" She asked.


"Alright, so..." Vincent began as he clapped his hands and rubbed them together. "I'm not much of an actor so I'm just going to be my usual, delightful self. You shift in to Giuseppe and when we head in you treat me a little rough. Try and get us somewhere private with LaChance and you can tell him you found me snooping around, and you think I know about their operation. Probably best to be a little vague, we don't know if Giuseppe is in on the whole magic deal. But we know they're in the drug business so we can lean on that. The club should be pretty full, I doubt LaChance would risk hurting me in public. We see what he spills and take it from there. If you can get some of his DNA I can use thaumaturgy to shut him down, but I'll need some quiet. Maybe you could toss me somewhere as a 'prisoner'. Then you can keep him occupied while I work the spell." Vincent fished three more vials from is pocket and handed them to Violet. "If the Adaro acts then you'll have a better shot. I've already funnelled my will in to them, so just toss them at it. One at a time, okay? If you do all three it could be...messy."


"Good to know." Violet put the vials into her inside jacket pocket, "Ready when--" And as she spoke, she quickly shifted into Arturo Giuseppe, "--you are." She finished, ending the sentence with his voice. "Here, if I don't do this now, you won't bruise in time." She added, and then sucker-punched Vincent in the eye. Vincent held his hand over his throbbing eye and glared at his sister with his good one, but said nothing. His flaring nostrils said it all. He opened the door and got out of the car, closing it behind him and waited for Violet to grab him and escort him in to the building. 

"Oh please, that was a love tap." Violet smiled and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him into the club. The music was loud and people were dancing everywhere. Nobody really took notice of the scruffy, beaten man being pulled through to the back by the greaseball thug. They came to a door at the back, Violet knocked on it, opened the door and walked in, closing it behind them both. LaChance was sat at a desk at the far side of a large room. He frowned when he saw Vincent.
"Mr. Hallow, what are you doing here?" LaChance asked, "Oh, Arturo, don't tell me you've hurt Mr. Hallow unduly?"
"He was snoopin' around, and he knows about our plans." Violet replied, and threw Vincent forwards onto the ground. She pulled her pistol which she had morphed to appear like Giuseppe's, and aimed it at the back of her brother's head, pressing the barrel firmly against him. "What should we do?" She asked.
LaChance barely reacted at all to the news. Vincent suspected that this guy had a killer poker face, he couldn't read his intentions at all. After a short pause LaChance held up his hand to Violet and gave a very warm smile. "Please, Arturo." He said calmly. "Allow Mr. Hallow to stand up and explain himself. After all he is only a P.I, not a police officer. We can perhaps reach an understanding." Violet dutifully lowered her gun from Vincent but kept it in her hand, and Vincent stood up straight, tapping his cane twice on the floor. 
"Much obliged, LaChance." Vincent said as he composed himself. "I'm not a police consultant. It's not my job to arrest anybody."
"Indeed." LaChance replied. "However, your partner who was with you the other night. She is a police officer, no?"
"A fellow P.I" Vincent corrected. "She does work for the L.A.P.D sometimes. I was working with her on a separate matter as you know."
"Yes, the incident and Jimmy's place. A real shame." LaChance replied, lightly placing his fingers together as he leaned back on his chair. "However I'd like to know what you think you know about my business practices, and that of my good friend Arturo."
"Drugs." Vincent replied coolly. "You guys are bringing in product wholesale. This club is probably just a front. Not exactly rocket science once you get pointed in the right direction."
"And who has pointed you?" LaChance asked. 
"Rachel, actually." Vincent replied simply. "Well, in a round about way."
"Who is this Rachel?" LaChance asked. 
"She was the girl who was murdered last night." Vincent explained. "I've been following the trail, and it's lead to you." He stared LaChance down, hoping for him to break, but the man did not. Instead he simply raised an eyebrow curiously, and calmly shrugged his shoulders. 
"I am afraid you are misinformed. I was in Aether the whole night, I had nothing to do with that incident." LaChance replied. 
"Well that's true enough." Vincent replied. "Thing is...the thing that did kill her made an effort to make it look like someone else did it. Fangs marks in the cop is going to think much about that. It has me thinking though...whoever ordered the hit must know about the things in this city that kill with fangs. But to set them up...well that wasn't for the benefit of the L.A.P.D was it? I reckon you probably have them in your pocket anyway. Guys like you always do."
Finally LaChance's expression broke. It was only for a moment, but Vincent had caught the look in his eyes. It was the tiniest glimpse of surprise. That meant he knew about their world. Otherwise he'd have just rolled his eyes and pegged Vincent as a nut-case. "Unless you have solid evidence I fail to see how I am involved." LaChance replied. "But that does not explain why you were snooping around Arturo. What are you up to Mr. Hallow?"
"Well I think..." Vincent took a step forward and tapped his cane on the floor once more. "...I think Jimmy, dirt-bag though he is, really looks after his girls. I think he was less than happy when he found out your crew were supplying them. I think he threatened you, and I think you don't like being threatened, LaChance. I think you sent him a message. You told him to back the fuck off, and you killed one of his girls. And you did it in a way that made him look guilty, just for a little insurance. Does that sound about right?"
LaChance's nostrils flared, betraying his otherwise calm expression. Vincent smirked wickedly, pleased that he was getting to him. Part of him wanted to roast the guy on the spot, but he thought better of it. He waited, and LaChance finally spoke. "I think Mr. Hallow has had a stressful few days. It would be rude of me not to allow him to rest while he is in my hospitality." LaChance said with a smile. "Arturo, kindly escort Mr. Hallow in to the next room. Restrain him, and make sure he's knocked out. I cannot risk doing anything while there are people downstairs. We will deal with him when the club closes."
"Alright," Violet picked Vincent up by his hair and led him out.
When they were in the next room and Violet had let him go, Vincent held his head in pain and scowled at her. "You didn't have to pull my hair!" he whispered as he started looking around the room. 
"You wanted it to be believable." Violet retorted, "Would you have liked a palanquin instead?"
"Bite me." Vincent replied irritably. "Look you better get back. I'll have a look around in here and find something. Just keep him talking."
"Don't tempt me." Violet replied with a toothy grin, but as she walked out, she looked back at her brother, "Be careful." And she left.
Vincent examined the room. It was small and full of old boxes, probably just a storage room. He quietly moved some things around, trying to find something he could use. He began to get the impression that LaChance didn't come in here very often. Finding something to use for a spell did not look very hopeful at this point. He sighed and rubbed his chin, listening to the dull thumping bass coming from the nightclub. Finding nothing of use he started thinking of other options. There was a reason the Adaro was linked to LaChance. Lot's of powerful spirits could operate on their own, or were summoned by others. Usually if it was tied to someone it was a survival thing. Most likely, he determined, it was so that the Adaro couldn't be banished back to The Void. This meant the banishing potions were likely to be useless, even if they would normally be effective. 
He channelled his will through his cane, and the handle lit up in a cool blue light. He waved it around the room, trying to see if there was something he had missed. It was only then that he spotted it. In the back of the room there was an old gym bag. He opened it up and looked inside. He pulled out a pair of tennis shorts and a pair of white socks. With a tentative sniff he confirmed that they had been used. Shivering in disgust he laid them down on the floor and fumbled in his pocket for the piece of chalk he had. He drew a circle on the floor around the garments and took a deep breath. "This better work..." he sighed as he held out his hand and pushed his will in to the circle, feeling a small hum of magic as the circle activated. He rubbed his hands together and then closed his eyes, extending his will outwards again. 
In his mind, slowly he began to broaden his senses. His will pushed out, and very quickly he made a connection. Thaumaturgy was ideal for magic over long distances. It was elegant and much more powerful, but it required more in return. Since LaChance was in the next room it hadn't taken him long to find the link and focus on it. He could feel LaChance's energy in his mind. It was cool and confident. While it held no real talent for magic, he could feel something coiled around it. It was as if a dark hand was choking him, restricting him from moving. He guessed this was the Adaro that was latched on to him. He began to analyse the relationship between the Adaro and it's host. Their bond slowly materialised in his head like a detailed road map. The Adaro was indeed a spirit of The Void, that much was clear. He sensed that the creature was tying itself to LaChance's desires. Not just any desires of course, but his dark desires. 
Not only that but the Adaro reinforced them, made them a stronger presence within LaChance. The more he used the Adaro to enact violent acts, the more he would find himself desiring to do so. It was a vicious cycle that was incredibly common with dark magic. This was why Vincent knew the Law of Magic were necessary, even if enforcing them often seemed cruel. Using dark magic left a sort of stain on a person's soul. The more they used it, the worse it got. He often considered how easily it could begin. For a young wizard to subtly change their school teacher's mind to get a slightly better score on a test seemed harmless enough. However it was the slipperiest of slopes. At any rate this information gave Vincent power. If the Adaro was attached via angry and violent emotions, then all he had to do was gather his own emotions, ones of peace and forgiveness. 
Vincent summoned his emotions in his mind. He thought of the people in his life who had wronged him, who had made him angry. He thought of Violet, and the many times she had angered him both big and small. He thought of their mentor when they had grown up, and how hard he had been on them at times. He thought of men in shadows, judging him as he lay helpless on his knees. And then he thought of a beautiful, graceful woman with long, flowing, white hair with lips an icy blue colour, and eyes as emerald green as his own. He thought about all of the anger he felt towards these people...and then he let it all go. He forgave each of the transgressions in turn, feeling peace build up inside of him until it was about to burst. He lingered on the white haired woman though. Try as he might, he could not forgive her. Never. Instead he removed her from his thoughts and gathered up all he had and sent it towards LaChance. No sooner had he done so than he heard noises of a struggle next door. 
If what he had done had worked, then the Adaro would have been forcibly removed from LaChance. No doubt it would be extremely pissed about that, and it would take physical form and unleash it's fury upon Violet. Vincent stood up and gripped his cane, making a run to barge through the door to kick some ass, and with any luck, not die in the process. 

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LaChance was nowhere to be seen. His office was empty. Violet walked back out onto the nightclub main floor, Violet saw the throngs of customers enthralled by the music and the drink and knew that this was going to go badly. She had to get them out of here. She took a step forwards and shifted into a large grey wolf and snapped at the nearest person who regarded the wolf with fear and confusion. But they simply took a few steps back and became absorbed into the dancing hordes. She shifted back into her human form. Nobody took any notice. "Alright..." Violet growled, and reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her gun and badge, "L.A.P.D. everyone out!!" She yelled, the music screeched to a halt, drinks fell from people's hands and the mass of bodies flooded towards the exit. "Typical." She muttered, people in LA were scared more of cops than wild animals.

"Arturo...?" LaChance groaned, looking over the balcony, down at Violet. She could see the confusion and hatred on the man's face. Where was his friend and subordinate? How had Violet assumed his form, or turned into an animal? But more than those questions the one on his face was clear. "What's wrong with me?" He spat, recoiling and slumping down against the barrier above her. Violet started to make her way up the winding staircase.


"An evil spirit called an Adaro is inside you, controlling you." She replied, as she reached second floor. Gun and badge still in hand.
"I knew you were a cop..." LaChance groaned, holding his chest.

"--detective." Violet corrected, "Sometimes." She said, as an afterthought.

"He thinks you're a P.I." LaChance laughed. He was talking about Vincent. Violet shook her head, even when he was in pain, even after what he'd seen and what he was experiencing, LaChance was still just a scumbag looking to exploit other people's weaknesses. She hated anyone or anything that preyed on others. 


Before LaChance could say another word, Violet felt a thrum of energy vibrate through the room and LaChance's eyes widened to the point she thought they were going to fall from his eye sockets. They rolled into the back of his head and then a pair of black blue hands stretched out from inside LaChance's mouth, wrapped themselves around the edges of his lips and using them as leverage, the Adaro pulled itself free. It was like watching a deer give birth to a fawn. That is, if the deer was a human and the fawn was a mass of black goo and bone and nightmares.

"You're making all the wrong kinds of friends, LaChance." Violet growled, and reached for one of the three banishing vials in her pocket. She pulled one out and immediately flung the vial at the Adaro's back. The glass smashed as it hit home, a plume of smoke rose from the creature and it howled, but nothing happened. The Adaro was on it's feet in an instant. Whirling around to face Violet, the spirit creature charged her. Violet quickly reached for another vial but as she lifted it up to throw it the Adaro launched into the air. The wet slapping of it's feet momentarily silenced as it glided silently through the air and smashed into her chest. Violet heaved, but managed to stop herself from vomiting. She fell back and hit her back on the balcony. She felt like she'd been hit by a truck. She felt drunk, and confused but still understood the peril she was in and tried to regain control.


As Violet's senses returned, she realised that she had lost the vial. She had dropped it when the Adaro had crashed into her. Violet quickly looked behind her, and to her horror, saw where the vial had landed. It had fallen to the ground floor, and landed in a pint of beer sat upon one of the tables beside the dance floor. The Adaro quickly turned back to resume it's attack on her. Violet reached for the third vial when she heard Vincent burst through the door on the ground floor and the Adaro abandoned Violet altogether and leapt over the side of the balcony and landed in front of Vincent, snarling like a beast. It's strangely bright, yet hollow blue eyes staring at him lustfully.
"Vincent, it's physical! I can't use that 'Ace' any more, it only works on spirits!!" Violet yelled down to him as she ran towards the balcony.


"On it!" Vincent called back as he strode forward, stretched out his arm with his cane in hand and focused his will through it. Three bolts of condensed flame shot out from the end in quick succession, closing the gap between him and the Adaro and hitting it's chest and bursting across it's body. The creature snarled and stopped in it's tracks, but the flame quickly died out and it appeared virtually unscathed. "Ah... shit." Vincent snarled as he dug his other hand in to his pocket. 
"Your flame is too weak, mortal." The Adaro said, it's voice distorted and entirely inhuman. 
"Fuck off!" Vincent bit back as he pulled the pouch from his pocket and hurled it in to the air. He shot off another bolt of fire at the pouch and it burst in midair, it's contents bursting forth and scattering across the room. As the mixture touched the Adaro's flesh it cried out in pain, it's flesh igniting in an eerie blue light that seemed to claw at it, fighting to keep itself burning.
"I am addressing the being within!" Vincent called, his voice booming through the room. "By Maiden, Mother, and Crone I speak thy name... Adaro!" There was a tingling rush through his body as he spoke the last word. Evidence that his magic was working. "Adaro!" he yelled again, and the creature roared in anger. "...Spoke thrice and bound... Adaro!" he said it the third time and sent out his will towards the creature. The blue flames had died out and it had regained it's movement, he had to finish the spell quickly. 
"I invoke sanctum of this vessel!" Vincent thundered. "Expelsum!"
With the final utterance the body of the Adaro began to collapse, metling in to piles of ectoplasm, already sizzling away before they hit the floor. Even still the Adaro was not gone, nor weakened in any real sense. He had only cast off it's physical shell. "Tick tock, sis!" Vincent called, holding out his cane ready to fire another burst of flame.
Over the edge of the balcony a large black panther leapt and fell to the ground floor, landing with a soft tap. As it whirled around to face the no-longer-physical Adaro, the panther shifted back into Violet. She quickly reached into her pocket and pulled out a small object. It was about the size of a Pez dispenser. It was a dark red, with a lid that craned back like a Pez dispenser and a... alright. It was a Pez dispenser. A little plastic toy that dispensed candies. The lid was actually a plastic mould of Elvis. She raised the Pez dispenser up and pointed Elvis at the Adaro who stared at it with a nonplussed expression. However, as she pulled Elvis' head back, opening the dispenser, a vacuum suddenly began to draw everything towards the Pez dispenser. The Adaro was howling, as it seemed to be affected by the pull far stronger than anything else. It screeched as it's body was pulled back into the Pez dispenser and it released a scream that Violet could only imagine belonged to a creature being slowly crushed, legs-first. She grit her teeth, knowing that she had been forced to do it.
She released the mechanism on the Pez dispenser, and as Elvis' head slammed shut, the dispenser said, "Thank-you-very-much!" in an approximate impersonation of the King. It would have been funny if she didn't know the agony the Adaro was now in, for the foreseeable future. Violet pocketed Elvis and then turned to face Vincent, glancing back over her shoulder to note the empty nightclub.
"Well that's two we've emptied now, do you think we should maybe try separating work and alcohol?"
"All I know is I need a beer and a burger." Vincent replied weakly. "That spell is hard without a circle. I think I'll sleep for a week."
"You'll have earned it." Violet replied, and then paused. She shoved her hands into her jacket pockets and started to walk out, "Be seeing you, Vincent."
"So it's like that?" Vincent called to her. "This isn't over you know. That Necromancer knows who you are..."
"Can't do much about that." Violet replied. "Just have to deal with it one step at a time. You have a habit of putting me in situations I don't want to be in. I can shift into a cat - doesn't mean I get nine lives."
"I never put you on this case." Vincent replied. "I didn't even know you were in town."
"No, Vincent, you didn't put me on this case." Violet said in an accepting tone, "But," She continued, "You have your way of doing things, and I have mine. I don't like being forced into situations where i'm playing by your rule book, or the rules of the self-appointed 'council'." She stood in front of him, unsure what to say. She felt like she should patch things up but she also felt like punching Vincent and storming off. She settled for a compromise. She gave her brother a weak smile and shrugged her shoulders, and left. She felt awful for abandoning her brother, it reminded her of their dad. But she knew getting mixed up with Vincent and his problems meant another stack of worries for her, and she had enough to deal with. 
Violet got in her car, and drove back to her hotel room. By the time she arrived, the hotel staff had fixed up her room, and apologised for the mess, though they had also asked her to pay a small amount towards the cost of the damage to the room. She didn't have any problem with that. After all, half of it was caused by her rampaging through the lounge as a bear. Violet took the elevator up to her room and locked the door behind her and warded it against a variety of magical trickery. She had lost all patience for magic and it's users tonight. She wanted to be alone, maybe eat some pizza and watch stupid hotel television. She slumped into a chair and covered her eyes with her hand, rubbing them wearily.
"You okay?" 
The voice made her jump. Violet was pulling her hand down from her eyes to her gun holster when the voice registered and she honed in on it's location. Her eyes darted over to her freshly made (and repaired) bed. There sat on the end was a young woman. Her skin was pale, and she had raven-like hair similar to Violet's, though this woman's hair was shorter, cut like a scruffy bob. Her eyes were dark, and she looked a little on the slim side. She wore an old pair of jeans and a white Sex Pistols tank top. Her arms were covered in tattoos of a hundred different things, from snakes and skulls to a wedding day kiss and even a frog with a top hat.
"No, i'm not okay." Violet muttered, and leant back into her chair and re-covered her eyes, "Leave me alone, Dee." 
"That's no way to speak to a friend." Dee replied, suggestive emphasis on the 'friend', apparently. Violet rolled her eyes beneath her lids.

"This just isn't a good time to talk." Violet muttered, "Anyway, you can stop by any time, come back tomorrow."
"Y'know it doesn't work like that," Dee said with a grin, kicking her legs off the end of the bed. She glanced around the hotel and whistled, "Not bad!" Then popped her lips together like a bored fish, "Uhm, brought any girls back here?" She asked as if it was a passing fancy.
"No." Violet growled.

"Brought any gu--" Dee began.

"--No!" Violet snarled, "Dammit, get out from under my skin, would you?!" 

Dee licked her lips and shrugged, falling back on the bed. Then she deliberately threw herself into the bed several times more, testing it's bounce and give. "I could get used to this." She said thoughtfully, "So... necromancy? You almost died?"
"No I didn't, did I?" Violet replied, flashing Dee a look. 
Dee held her hands up, "Okay, you didn't almost die, but..."
"Any excuse." Violet muttered under her breath.

"I heard that." Dee said, raising her eyebrows.
"I should think so!" Violet barked, then the two of them looked at each other and laughed.

"So, I should go..." Dee muttered.

"Yeah, when will I see you again? Maybe stop by some time when I haven't been in mortal danger?"

"Well, if you want to pick up...?" 
"I'll think about it." Violet replied, honestly.

"Alright." Dee sighed and then leapt off the bed, "Well! I know when i've over-stayed my welcome."
Violet crossed her arms and said quietly out of the side of her mouth, "I miss you."
"I know." Dee replied, a look of wild glee in her eyes, then she vanished.
"So much for no magic tonight, maybe I can still get that pizza..." Violet moved towards the hotel phone, intent on picking it up to place an order, when it rang, her fingers just an inch away. "Dammit..." She growled, not wanting to pick it up. Eventually, her curiosity got the better of her. "What?!" She growled down the line.

"Expecting visitors?" The voice of the necromancer. Violet quickly looked out her window, but there was nothing there. Hell, she hadn't expected there to really be anyone outside her window several stories up, but with magic, you never knew. The line went dead, she slowly replaced the phone in it's charger and bit her lip. She was going to have to call Vincent, whether she liked it or not. You didn't mess with a necromancer solo, when you could go in with a team-mate. Even if it was Vincent.

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Vincent stepped out on to the side walk and sighed, his breath visible in the cold L.A night. He began walking swiftly down the street. He was certain the cops would be by soon and he wanted nothing to do with them. He'd never had anything against the L.A.P.D as such but he'd found in the past that they struggled to buy his particular explanation as to things that had happened. That behaviour was typical of mortals. They go on about how there is no evidence of the supernatural, and yet they encounter it almost every day of their lives.


When mortals encounter something they can't explain they naturally try to make sense of it. When they encounter a ghost, or a vampire attack, or evidence of magic they lie to themselves because it's easier than facing up to the truth that there's a whole world out there that they haven't got a clue about. So they convince themselves that it was a hallucination, or that something equally unlikely had happened. It's not even the small stuff either. News channels report stories where all witnesses were reported to have hallucinated a monster attack due to a gas leak or something. Because methane is well known for it's ability to have people imagine that a 10ft tall werewolf gutted a family of three in an alley way.


However there are times where people cannot simply chalk things up to a bad dream, as much as they may want to. The Adaro had been dealt with but not before he'd managed to end one girls life, and scarred the life of another. Although perhaps Vincent was partly accountable for that. He took out his phone and navigated through his call list, found the number he wanted and called it. He put the phone to his ear and it rang a couple of times before a female voice answered.


“Chelsea.†Vincent said

“Uh...Mr. Hallow?†Chelsea's voice asked.

“We need to talk.†Vincent said. “You know where my office is, right? Can you come over there right away?â€

“†she hesitated. “O-okay. I'll be there soon.â€

“Thank you.†Vincent said before hanging up and pocketing the phone. Then he began the walk to his office. All in all it took him around a half hour. He stopped by a Burger King and got himself a bacon cheeseburger and a sprite, depleting the last five bucks he had to his name. When he arrived at his office Chelsea was already waiting for him and he took out his keys and let her in.


After closing the door he turned on the lamp by his desk and took off his duster. “Take a seat.†He said to Chelsea and offered her the chair by his desk and he sat on the other side, putting his feet up on the desk. “I suppose you know about Rebecca?â€

“Uh...yeah.†Chelsea replied. Her voice was a little hoarse, like she'd been crying.

“ were right about her boss. He is a vampire.†Vincent said. “But he didn't kill Rebecca. In much as he is a dirt bag he probably wasn't hurting her at all.â€


“He was biting her†Chelsea said.

“True.†Vincent replied. “But in fairness when we eat an animal we kill it and cut it in to pieces. He looked after his girls. In fact he was trying to hard to keep them off of drugs that it got him in some trouble. Something else killed Rebecca, and tried to make it look like he did it. We got the guy so he won't be hurting anyone else. I was too late though, I'm sorry.â€


Chelsea was quiet for a moment. It was a difficult conversation and for Vincent it certainly wasn't the first. It never got any easier though. Death is natural and it will come for us all, but it's never pleasant. It's always messy, always undignified and always causes grief to people around the victim. Coping with that is hard enough without having to deal with the existence of monsters and magic. But Chelsea would never be able to allow herself to ignore that any more. She had Soulgazed Vincent, and that experience would be with her until the day she died, just as it would Vincent.


“That night...†Chelsea said finally. “I...saw-â€

“I don't want to know.†Vincent interrupted. “I'm sorry that happened, I hadn't intended it to. But it did and I can't take it back I'm afraid. I just wanted you to know that Rebecca's killer is gone, I figured you deserved at least that much.â€

“Thank you.†Chelsea said with a slight nod. “ much more do I owe you?â€

“Nothing.†Vincent replied simply. He really could have done with more cash but it just didn't feel right. “You hired me to find out if Jimmy was a vampire and I'd figured that part out within the hour. Everything else...well that wasn't part of the deal.â€


“I see.†Chelsea said with a nod. “Well, thank you for doing that for Rebecca. Um...what happens now?â€

“You go back to your life, and I go back to mine.†Vincent said. “It will be hard for you from now on. Your eyes are open so you'll start to notice the things that everyone else doesn't. But...there's nothing you can do about it. You just have to try to work past it.â€

“Couldn't†Chelsea hesitated again. “Couldn't you make me forget? Like...with magic?†Vincent gave a short sigh, and considered it for but only a moment before shaking his head.


“I could.†He admitted. “But I won't. Magic doesn't solve problems. I could get inside your head and hide away the memories...and maybe you would be fine if I managed to avoid damaging your psyche. But you could also end up much worse off. Paranoia, hallucinations. Memories aren't supposed to be tampered with and they...they try to cling on. You don't want that.â€

“I don't want to keep feeling like this either.†Chelsea replied.


“Look, Chelsea.†Vincent took his feet off the desk and leaned forward, looking her in the eyes. It was fine to do so now. “If I take away your memories of the past few days then you won't remember that Rebecca died, or the how and why. I take away all your memories of Rebecca? Do you know how many gaps that will leave in your mind? There are...laws that we magic people have. One of them is that we don't go poking around in people's heads. I'm sorry but I won't do that.â€


“...Okay.†Chelsea said finally. “Thank you Mr. Hallow.â€

“Look...if you're finding it hard to cope in future...give me a call.†Vincent stood up and walked her to the door of his office. “No charge, of course.†He added. Chelsea only nodded, and then she left and Vincent was alone again. He grabbed his coat and made for the door again, this time to go home.


--- --- ---


Three days had passed and Vincent lay on the sofa in his apartment, holding a paperback romance novel in one hand as he read it. His hair was damp and lay limp against his bare shoulders. He had showered and shaved, and the scent of apples that his hair was giving off seemed a little intense to his nostrils. He should probably have cared more that his body reacted that way to the smell of cleanliness but he was far too engrossed in Baroness Vivier and her heaving bosom.


He hadn't heard from Violet, nor did he expect to. He hadn't seen her in 10 years before and the other night didn't change their relationship in any way. They had never been the best of friends by any means, but they had got along at times. In his younger years Vincent had been much more arrogant, and his sister...well she had always been a bit of a mystery to him. She came in to his life only a short time before his gifts began to manifest, and hers had followed shortly afterwards.


It was difficult at first. To learn that his father had loved another woman, and bore a child with her. He was much too young to be learning that his father was not perfect. It all seemed quite silly now, as he neared 30. He didn't blame anyone, and the situation didn't bring him any pain. His mother had even welcomed Violet and loved her as her own. It would have been much harder if she had not been the woman she was, someone capable of loving any child. Vincent had never bore any animosity towards his sister either, not really. He had been much too fascinated with his own emerging powers. To him if magic was a drug, then it was heroin and he had immersed himself in it.


Something had been troubling him though. Violet disliked that he was part of the Wise, and that was understandable to a degree. They weren't exactly a forgiving bunch, and their ruling was absolute. They did not involve themselves in mortal affairs but had declared themselves judge, jury and executioner when it came to policing the magically gifted. There was a time where Vincent would have wanted nothing to do with them either, hell sometimes he still didn't.


Yet he had grown to agree to their laws. He understood them as a necessity. It wasn't about right or wrong, good or evil. It was about what had to be done. He thought that Violet might have understood that, after all she had always been the more logical thinker when they were younger. He had been so foolish when they were younger, and she had never missed an opportunity to remind him so. Surely she would have been happy that he had become more...ordered.


Vincent was pulled from his thoughts when his phone rattled across his coffee table, vibrating aggressively. He picked it up and put the phone to his ear. “What?†He asked into the phone.

“I believe 'who' is more appropriate, Vincent.†The feminine voice on the other end said.

“Fine. Who the fuck are you?†Vincent asked, his tone one of annoyance.

“That is the challenge I am posing to you now.†The voice said. “You are an investigator after all. I like games, Vincent. Three days have passed and, frankly, I'm growing rather bored. Apparently you need some more motivation in order to do your job, and so now I am challenging you. A person will die tonight unless you stop it from happening.â€


“Do you think this is funny?†Vincent asked with a frown

“Oh very much so.†The voice purred. “Midnight holds the key but the door lies within the mirror. Good luck...Vincent. Gideon. Hallow.†Vincent's eyes widened with terror. There was a click as the person on the other end hung up. He sat up from his sofa and fumbled around his untidy apartment for a t-shirt. Eventually he pulled a Ramones T-shirt over his head and went through his phone to find Violets number.


The woman had known his name. His entire name. Shit.

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A few days had passed since the night Violet had reunited with her brother. A few nights since she'd been shot. Since the necromancer had made contact. She had not heard from anyone in days. Violet had rarely left her hotel room. Her bullet wounds had healed but as always, the scars remained, adding to the already considerable collection she had amassed over the years. Monday night, she was lying at the head of her bed, reading an old grimoire. It was a small notepad, no larger than a handheld diary, but her mentor had enchanted it when she was still young, and its pages were near endless. She was searching for a spell that would reveal a person's location if they were to speak, but so far had found nothing. Violet reached over and poured the small mini-bar bottle of red wine into a tumbler glass and took a sip. Her phone rang. 


The caller ID showed her the last person she wanted to speak with, but the person she likely had the most pressing need to contact. She sighed, putting the glass of wine to one side as she rubbed her temple, trying to soothe her stress-headache. "What, Vincent?" She asked, licking her lips as she realised she hadn't spoken in several days.

"We need to talk, Violet." Vincent said, his tone serious. "Turns out that Necromancer isn't just your problem. I got a call. She knows my name, all of it. I haven't used 'Gideon' in official records since I was 18."

Violet remained silent for a short while, thinking to herself. It was only the sound of Vincent's voice, asking her what was up, that roused her from her thoughts, "Oh, sorry." She muttered, shaking her head. "Tell me everything she said, Vincent. Word for word."


"She wants us to play her game." He replied. "Midnight holds the key, but the door lies within the mirror. She's going to kill someone. Tonight. Unless we stop her."

"She wants us to play a game?" Violet asked, raising an eyebrow in disbelief.

"I don't claim to be an expert on the minds of crazy people. Necromancy is dark shit, it messes with your head." Vincent sounded exasperated. "Someone's life is on the line. I know it's dangerous to do what she wants but... I won't sit on my ass like the others in the Wise. Y'know?"

Violet snorted. She had choice words for the so-called 'Wise' but something more important was nagging at her. This necromancer certainly had a lacklustre moral compass. But she wasn't unhinged. She wasn't crazy. She knew what she was doing. She wanted both Vincent and herself to play by her rules. Killing wasn't her goal, it was her tool. Violet and her brother meant something to this necromancer. Somehow, she knew them, and wanted something from them. Whether it was knowledge of her, of what she was capable of, maybe revenge upon them, or some other unknown reason. Whatever this was, it was personal. Violet shared her revelation with her brother, "I think that's the kind of person we're dealing with, Vincent." She said at last.


"You're probably right." Vincent agreed. "That doesn't change anything. You know she'll kill without hesitation if we don't play.'

"That's fine." Violet growled, "If she wants me to play, then i'll play." Violet pulled herself off her bed and walked across the room. She stood in front of a large dresser and held onto the handle of the top drawer, "But I play to win." She added, and opened the drawer. Inside were a dozen instruments of her craft. Several pendants and rings, bottles with strange contents, a large angry-looking dagger and a number of other objects. Violet held her grimoire in her other hand and closed it purposefully, "Where do we start?" She asked.

"Midnight." Vincent said. "That's the vamps, no question. That's our in. Be prepared though. They won't help us willingly."

"You're likely better off going without me." Violet replied, cricking her neck, "They don't like me very much. Skinwalkers and vampires don't really mix very well. My people have a long history of guarding the tribes from their feeding excursions."


"Sanguine aren't like the Dhampir. They don't have old world grudges. That said Lucia wanted to jump your bones and that's probably worse. I'll check things out with them. What will you do?"

"Alright. Well if you're snooping on the vampires, then I think i'll look into the other part of our friends riddle. The 'mirror' - only one thing I can think of in this context that makes any sense." As she said it, she could feel Vincent squirm, "The void."

"That place gives me the heebie jeebs." Vincent replied. "It's all yours."

"Figured as much." Violet grinned, "Alright then, Vince. If she's going to make her move tonight, we better get on. See you soon." 

"Violet." Vincent said before she hung up. "After this... we need to talk, okay? There's some things you need to know. After that you can go back to... whatever you do."

Violet let out a breath through her nose and brought the phone down from her ear for a moment, she reluctantly raised it long enough to say, "See you when I get back." And hung up. She couldn't start thinking about all that right now.


The void was a place that required the utmost focus, or you could lose yourself to it. It was a place of pure thought and emotion, with no apparent landmarks or waypoints. It was somewhere you had to navigate by instinct. It was a place she liked visiting little more than Vincent, but when she was there, she didn't feel as he did. She felt comfortable there, capable of navigating and understanding it. In as much as it could be. She attributed this to what her mother had told her about skinwalkers. That once all skinwalkers had come from the void, and so they had a natural affinity in it. However, she also knew it was a lawless place, where the strong preyed on the weak, and where almost all 'monsters' were born. It was a savage dimension, but she had the tools to survive.


Once she had equipped herself, Violet sat down in front of her bed and crossed her legs. The transition into the void could be unpleasant, even for her, and it was best to do while sitting. She knew however, she was going to have to be ready. Souls in the void are like flames in the darkness. And in the void, the moths have fangs. She pulled out the dagger from inside her jacket and laid it on her lap and concentrated. For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then she felt a lurching feeling, like the one you get just before the elevator begins to rise, only sideways. Then suddenly the world shifted. It wasn't so much she had left where she was, it was as though the world had taken a step to one side, and everything had changed around her, without moving location. She was still in a room, in a multi-floored building. But it looked abandoned. The wallpaper was peeling, and black mould dotted the walls. She saw something that looked like winged insects buzzing in the corners, though what they actually were, she couldn't guess. As she stood up, she grabbed her dagger and not a second too late. 


The door to her room smashed inwards as two humanoid creatures threw themselves into the room. They looked like the offspring of a vampire and a wolf. They had huge, beady eyes and long, pronounced muzzles full of teeth that looked like thick needles. Violet had to admit, they were not the most pleasant looking monster she had ever seen, and she had no idea what they were. What she did know, however, was that they had been drawn to her location by her soul, and so they were almost certainly not friendly, especially given their entrance. 

"Evening gentlemen, looking for a practising necromancer, wanna buy a girl a drink and talk about it?"


The two creatures continued staring at her even as they charged. Violet threw up her hands, one holding her dagger. In her other open palm she loosed an uncontrolled, but powerful jet of flame. The monster howled as it was engulfed and then she was knocked to the ground by the other wolf-like monster. She rolled backwards as she hit the ground and braced herself against the wall as the creature leapt at her. Violet raised the blade, supported it at the pommel with her other hand and as the creature opened it's jaws she sunk the blade deep into it's neck. It took her a few seconds to recover, she was out of breath. She heaved the creature off her and wiped the blade clean on it's hide. The other creature - still wreathed in flame - continued to howl, as she left the room. She found a staircase and started her way down. The necromancer had said that midnight held the key, but the mirror was the door. So Vincent likely had to find the information that Violet needed in order to find whatever it was the necromancer wanted her to find in the void. Violet reached the bottom of the stairs and an old fire exit, she pushed down on the handlebar and stumbled forwards. She was no longer in the building, in fact she was no longer in a city. She was in a field of sunflowers, taller than her head. She couldn't see more than a few feet in front of her. When she turned back, she saw the staircase was gone. "Das ist wunderbar." She muttered, and started making her way through the sunflower field.

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Vincent put his phone back on the table and went to a large wardrobe sitting against one of his walls. He opened it and inside was a small armoury of weapons. He ignored the more brutal implements such as the mace, the axe, and several varieties of swords. Instead he took a simple piece of ash wood, with a leather bound handle and carved to a fine point on the end. Wooden stakes were an effective weapon against vampires of the Midnight Court, but it had to be carved from a white ash tree. He closed the wardrobe and began to gather the rest of his things. He put on his ring, his charm bracelet, and of course he put on his trusty duster. He also opened one of his kitchen drawers and took out a fully loaded p229 Sig Sauer pistol. You could never be too careful. Finally he grabbed his cane and made for the door. 


When Vincent arrived at Lucia's manor it was mid-afternoon. As he pulled up to the front gate a familiar looking thug came over to the driver window of his El Camino. "Hey Lurch." he said with a grin. 

"Lady Lucia isn't taking guests right now." Lurch said in almost the exact same tone as last time. 

"Do we really have to do this dance, Lurch?" Vincent asked. "Look I know she's asleep at this hour but I don't have time to wait for dark."

"Don't care." Lurch replied. "Lucia said you weren't welcome here any more. She said something about...if you come in then you're breaking the accords, she won't extend hospitality."

"Well on any other day I'd be down with that but I'm afraid I'm going to have to go in anyway." Vincent said with a smirk, then he leaned his head out of the window and focused his gaze on lurch. "Quiesco" he whispered, and the big guard blinked once, before collapsing in a heap on the ground. Vincent opened his door and got out of the car, climbing over the gate and landing softly on the other side. 


He walked through the garden and made his way to the front of the house. The guards by the door noticed him and their hands moved for their coats, and he was pretty sure they weren't reaching for their wallets. He held his cane out in front of him and gathered his will. He released it and the guards both flinched and dropped the guns they had pulled out of their holsters, which were now on the floor and red hot. Then with another gesture of his cane he sent out unseen kinetic force, sending the guards crashing back through the front door and left sprawled across the ground in the lobby. He stepped over them without a word and strode down the hall, pulling the Sig from his pocket for extra measure and proceeded cautiously in to the dark home. 


A quick sweep revealed the ground floor to be empty, and he knew better than to go searching upstairs. Instead he took a door off of the kitchen which lead down in to the basement. No doubt this was where Lucia and her brood would slumber. He moved slowly and as quietly as he could, but he knew that even a sleeping vampire would hear him and that Lucia was no doubt already alerted to his presence. He reached the bottom of the stairs and found himself in a dark room. With an effort of will the end of his cane glowed in an eerie blue light and he held it out in front of him, sweeping it over the darkness. There was nothing quite as cliche as empty coffins, but there were sections of the floor decorated with lavish pillows and blankets, like some sort of far eastern brothel. The various makeshift beds were recently disturbed, and no doubt the vampires were still in the room, waiting in the shadows. 


"Lucia, sweetheart." Vincent called out. "Come on out, I'd like a word." There was a hiss in the darkness after he spoke. Then there was a light sound of movement, and he felt the hairs on his neck stand to attention. A blur came out of the darkness and struck him hard in the side, sending him crashing to the floor, his pistol falling somewhere on the ground. Before he could get up he felt a powerful but slender grip around his throat, pulling him up and pinning him to the wall. In the dim blue light he saw the face of a pale young woman, her eyes wide with fury and her fangs bared, as she slowly began to crush his windpipe. Panic set it quickly, but he pushed it down before it could overcome him. he brought his now free hand up and let it connect with her face, and the force hit the female vamp with a crunch, her jaw completely dislodged by the punch, and she reeled back screaming in pain. 


Now Vincent wasn't a particularly tough guy. He was tall, but skinny. Not in an athletic way but more like a malnourished way. However the ring he wore on his finger was enchanted to take kinetic energy from every tiny movement he made while wearing it. It would accumulate and store that energy until he chose to unleash it, as he had just done. So as a one off, he had punched that vampire with all the power of a small car going along at 40 miles per hour. 


As she released him Vincent gave a choking cough, before holding his arm out again and forcing his will in to his charm bracelet. The air seemed to snap around him as he formed a curved wall in front of him, a physical barrier of magic to stop any more frontal assaults. The female vamp scrambled to her feet but Vincent pointed his cane at her and it ignited with fire. She hissed again and backed off. The fire illuminated the basement much more vibrantly, and he noticed that there were at least 10 vampires in the room, that he could see in the light. All of them stalked the room, eyeing him with an expression of lustful hunger and venomous anger. "I didn't come here for a fight." He called out. "I just want to talk."


"I warned you." came a familiar voice from the darkness. It was light and feminine, and sounded more amused than angry. "That one day you would not be able to hide behind the accords, and that on that day I would kill you. I didn't expect it to happen to soon, mind you."

"Lucia. Cut the shit and face me." Vincent snarled. The dark skinned Countess of the Midnight Court emerged in to the firelight, wearing next only a matching set of red lingerie. The light danced off of her feminine curves and the way she walked was incredibly alluring. Vincent swallowed as he felt a shiver of excitement flow through him. This was no simple vampire glamour, this kind of pull was far stronger than the standard two bit vamp. Lucia was over 200 years old and her power was considerable. Not to mention she was sex on legs and Vincent was a warm blooded heterosexual, which certainly did not help matters. 


"Vincent you are always so cut and dry." Lucia purred. "Why don't you lower that barrier and come and sit with us. I promise I can make your death quick and painless. In fact you'd probably like it." Vincent gulped. He had no doubt about that, with her skills he'd probably die in ecstasy. Yet he didn't much feel like it all the same. 

"Sorry, I've got a busy night ahead of me. Maybe another time." He said. 

"Where's that delightful darkling sister of yours, hm?" Lucia asked as she stepped closer. "She smelled wonderful, I think I'd have happily kept her a few days. All the better to enjoy her more thoroughly."

"She's busy." Vincent said, a little more forcefully now. He had began to construct walls in his mind, shutting off his desires and keeping the intense pull of the glamour at bay. "I'm here for the key, whatever the hell that is. You've been dealing with a Necromancer lately. She pointed me in your direction, so I want whatever you have."


"So direct." Lucia said with a smile. "Although I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. I have regular business with many of your kind. I do not tend to ask about the particular fields they practice." Lucia extended her arm, reaching out towards Vincent as if she longed for nothing more than to feel his skin beneath her fingertips. "You're playing a very dangerous game, child. I warned you before. From what I can tell you don't even have a clue of what is really going on. I thought you were supposed to be an investigator."

"You could say my hand is being forced on this occasion." Vincent replied. He dropped his barrier, keeping it up would only tire him and then he would be able to do nothing when the vampires closed in. However he kept the torch of fire ignited at the end of his cane. "I'm not here on behalf of the Wise, I'm here because our mutual...associate, well she pointed me at you. It's that simple."


"Oh dear boy, it's nowhere near that simple." Lucia said with a smirk. "For a start, what makes you think this woman is my ally? Think about James, and that ghastly affair with LaChance. I know you mortals are a bit forgetful but it was only a few days past."

"So she is involved with that." Vincent said with a slight smirk. "I had my suspicions. But you told me her quarrel wasn't with the Midnight Court, it was just with Jimmy."

"No." Lucia said, shaking her head but she was smiling, enjoying his ignorance. "I told you that LaChance had no quarrel with us. He is simply a pawn in this, much like yourself. Don't you see, child? You're a chess piece, nothing more. If she has sent you to collect something from us, then she must have something to gain from it. If she were my ally then all she would have to do was ask." Lucia's eyes flashed with a predatory look. "That woman is a menace. I would love nothing more than to have her put down."


"Then help me." Vincent said. 
"You really need to work on your bargaining technique, child." Lucia said. "I would have thought all that time with the Sidhe would have taught you that much."

"The Sidhe cannot lie, Lucia." Vincent replied, his tone growing darker. "There bargains are trustworthy, at least." At this Lucia threw her head back and gave a pure and sweet laugh. 
"Oh, child..." She said as she put her finger to her lips. "The Sidhe are full of tricks, they may not be able to lie but they pepper there words with half-truths and vague wording. They are as devious as can be. At least my kind are direct."

"Fine, fine." Vincent said with a sigh. "So you want a bargain? Very well. You know what the Necromancer wants, what she has sent me to obtain. What will it cost me?"


Lucia gave another warm smile and her eyes lit up with excitement. "Well, is true that there are a few things you can offer me. However if I give you what you seek then you must bear the consequences of what comes next. Furthermore, should you survive the ordeal you must give me one thing."

"Name it already." Vincent said.

"You will give me your services. One favour, I will pay you of course. However you must do what I ask while you are contracted to me." Lucia came closer, so close that the fire from his cane was surely hot against her skin. "Does that sound reasonable?" Vincent's nostrils flared at the thought. If a Vampire wanted him for a job then it wasn't likely to be anything he'd consider moral. But a life was on the line, and potentially worse if he sat back and did nothing. He gave a heavy sigh. 


"I have conditions." He said. "First of all, if I do this for you I do it in my own way. I'll get you the result you want, but I use my own methods and you will not question me. Secondly you cannot order me to take a mortal life, or to hurt the innocent or people I care about."

"And if I refuse your conditions?" Lucia asked. 

"Then I'll burn you and your brood and then I'll take what I need." Vincent said. As he spoke, however, Lucia made a quick gesture with her hand and the fire from his cane was extinguished. Before he could react she had moved forward like a blur, and she pinned him against the wall. He felt her nails pressed against his throat, and her face was inches from his own. Her scent was sweet and delicate, but more alluring than ever. As she pressed up against him he felt her glamour enveloping him. Her tongue brushed lightly over his neck and he shivered in a pleasure that he had no control over. Then the point of her fangs against his neck sent cold waves through his body. The were so sharp that he barely felt them pierce his neck. Her lips pressed against him as she sucked on the wound, and amidst the sheer terror who still could not shake the overwhelming pleasure of it all. Every fiber of his neanderthal brain urged him to take her, but he was frozen. He could do nothing. 


And then, as quickly as they had came, the sensations faded in to nothingness and he was left feeling cold and weak. Lucia had released her grip from him, and he had slumped to the floor, his legs giving way. "Y-you're..." he stammered. "You're a-a...wizard."

"I believe that term was coined by The Order of the Wise, child." Lucia replied. "And I doubt they consider me to be a member. Warlock is probably more appropriate. Or at least I was once upon a time. It is difficult to retain your magic once you become a vampire, as I'm sure you know. But I still have enough skill to extinguish a bit of fire. I suggest you keep that in mind. I could have killed you right now, child. I could have drained you until you were nothing but a dried up husk, and it was sorely tempting. The blood of a practitioner is always more...electrifying."

"...Why?" Vincent asked, unsure why he was still alive. 

"Because I have use for you." Lucia replied. "I simply wanted you to understand how in over your head you were. Don't worry about the bite either, when you've been around as long as me you have a great deal of control over who you turn. You would make a wonderful vampire but...I prefer to take the willing."


Vincent pulled himself to his feet. Lucia had walked in to the darkness and had returned with the pistol he had dropped and handed it to him. He took it and put it in his pocket. He felt stupid, the stake he had carried with him had been no measure of protection at all. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he had grossly underestimated Lucia. As she had just displayed, she was quite the badass. "So you accept then, with the conditions?" Vincent asked. 

"I do." Lucia replied and she started walking up the stairs. "Come along, child. I will give you what you came for."





Lucia had lead him to the second floor of the manor and in to a beautifully furnished library room. The walls were covered in book cases, each one completely full. There were comfortable looking leather sofas and a small table with an ornate lamp. Lucia went to one of the book cases and retrieved a very old and worn-looking book. She returned to Vincent and handed it to him. He examined it. The cover was leather bound with strange runes and symbols etched in to it. He opened it to scan the pages but found them all to be blank. There was something about the book that seemed familiar to him, but he couldn't quite place it. "What is it?" He asked. 

"A Grimoire." Lucia said. "A very old and much coveted one. The contents of it are hidden by very delicate and precise magic. Only the right people are able to unlock it's contents."

"And who's was it?" Vincent asked. Most magic practitioners had a Grimoire of their own, a place where they could record their own personal finding about magic. This one was quite thick, but he could feel the thrum of magic pulsing from it. No doubt, even with it's size, it was enchanted to hold more pages than would be physically possible. It was quite possible that this book alone was an entire library of information in and of itself.


"It has been in the possession of many wizards." Lucia explained. "Most recently it belonged to Elias Wolfwood H-"

"My father..." Vincent interrupted. "...What the fuck are you doing with my father's Grimoire?"

"If you wanted to know that you should have stipulated it in your bargain, child." Lucia said with a smirk. "Now do you understand why she wants you to have this book? And why the consequences are yours to bear?"

"Doesn't take a genius." Vincent replied. "She wants something hidden within the book. And she thinks that I'll be able to open it."

"You or the darkling." Lucia said with a nod. 

"Do not call my sister that." Vincent growled. 

"It's not an insulting term, child." Lucia replied. "It's simply a fact. She is from the other side of the mirror, I can smell it on her."


"I don't care, stop calling her that." Vincent replied. He snapped the book's empty pages shut and pocketed it. "Thanks, I guess. I need to go."

"Remember our deal, Vincent." Lucia reminded him. "In a month to today's date I will require your services. If you betray me I will make sure you suffer."

"Right." Vincent said with a sigh. "Well I'll be seeing you, then."

"Goodbye, child." Lucia said as he left. "and tread carefully."





Within the hour Vincent was back at his apartment. He had discarded his duster and was sitting once more on his sofa with his father's Grimoire laid out on the table in front of him. He had been staring at it for ten minutes. While it may have looked like he was doing nothing, he had been extending his will unto the book, examining it thoroughly. It was potent with magical energy, layers upon layers of enchantments designed to protect it's contents. He had only seen magic like this on the rarest of occasions, and while he knew enough to understand it's complexity, he couldn't even hope to perform such delicate magic. Furthermore it was not something he could reverse engineer, nor did he think anyone could. The only way to unlock it's secrets would be to do as his father had intended. Lucia had implied that only he or Violet could open it, and so the magic was likely tied to his own bloodline. 


Perhaps if he had known the slightest thing about his father, then it would have been more apparent. Elias Wolfwood Hallow had left his family and disappeared before Vincent was even 10 years old. When he did disappear, he left behind a little girl who had been taken in by their mother. His father had an affair with another woman at some point, and the two had bore a child. It was difficult to process as a young boy, but with his years he grew to understand these things. He did not blame or condemn his father for that action. After all, Violet was his family all the same. Sure when they were children it hadn't been easy but it could have been worse all the same. When he was 10 Vincent had began to discover his gift for magic. It had come as a bit of a surprise to him. 


He never really knew about magic. His father had certainly never practised it around him. He knew of Faeries and monsters. One of his earliest memories was of playing with pixies in the garden at their home in Illinois. His father had chased them off when he had saw, and had warned Vincent to stay away from Faeries. He never really thought about it at the time, but his father couldn't have been more right on that one. Hindsight is a bitch. "Shit, pops..." Vincent said with a sigh. "What have you gotten us in to?"

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The stalks of the sunflowers obscured Violet's vision. She couldn't see for more than a few feet in front of her. She could see sunshine overhead, but no warmth came from it. Strange clouds of mist hovered overhead and the sunflowers moved, touched by a breeze she could neither hear nor feel. A group of sunflowers rustled a few feet to the left of her and Violet instinctively darted her eyes in the same direction. Nothing. But it wasn't nothing. It was definitely something. And something was telling her that that something was following her. Do you ever get that feeling, when you're walking back in doors after taking the garbage out at night, that you need to get inside as quickly as possible because something is right behind you? She was having that feeling right now. Only usually that feeling means there's a nasty spirit taking a passing fancy to your nightly routine, not really something to be concerned about, as it can't do much to you. But this right here, in the void, was giving Violet the distinct 'garbage-night-flight' sensation. 


She walked in silence. Trying to listen for the movements in the sunflowers around her. Now and then, there would be a rustle. Sometimes in front of her, sometimes behind. It felt like it was coming from every direction. Yet whatever it was had not attacked. Had not attacked yet, she thought to herself. She had to focus, her greatest and maybe only advantage here was her magic. Shifting into an animal might help, but there were far too many unknowns in the void. Violet took comfort in knowing how people and creatures react to certain animals. For example, the fae dislike cats. Something to do with cats being aware of fae, and often being responsible for young and inexperienced fae deaths. Violet knew the reaction she would get from shifting into a cat in front of a fae. Shifting into a bear in front of a human. But what could she turn into when dealing with some of the monstrosities found here? She was experienced in the void, but that was like saying you understand the ocean because you have a glass of sea water. There was simply too much here to understand in a single life time. 


Another rustle behind her. No time for the comforting thoughts that wandered into her mind. Thoughts of her shifting into any creature she could get her hands on when she was a young girl, trying to impress or surprise her father, trying to scare Vincent. There was a strange nagging feeling at the back of her mind. Violet pushed through the sunflowers in front of her, they felt denser than before. Like they were closing in around her. It was probably just her imagination. But the pollen stung her eyes.


The mirror. Something about a mirror. She was here to get a mirror? No, that wasn't right. She was fatigued, it had been a long week. She shook her head and grinned at her stupidity. The door is in the mirror. That's what the person had said. So she came here. For the sunflowers. No, that wasn't right. Violet slowed to a stop and looked around. The stalks of the sunflowers kept her in their shade. It had seemed pleasant at first, but now she felt like she was trapped. Like a roach in a 'motel' insect trap. Her head felt fuzzy, she was having trouble remembering what she was doing. She knew she had come here for something but what?

"Are you okay?"
The voice startled her and Violet tried to pull her gun out of instinct, but the weapon was gone. Had someone taken it? She searched for the voice but could see nothing. Violet frowned and unable to decide what she was supposed to do next, she sat down, crossed her legs and tapped her fingers on her knees.

"You are lost." The voice said once more.

This time, she realised the voice had come from above her. Violet looked up to see a strange creature sat on one of the flowers. It was like a cat, she thought. Violet could only think that because although it was sort of cat-like, it was also entirely unlike any cat she had ever seen. This creature had the body of a cat, but it looked like it was formed of semi-solid mist and silvery light. It's tail was far too long and curled down and around the stalk of the sunflower. It's ears were far too large for it's head. And, y'know, it was speaking. 

"You're not a cat." Violet said, matter-of-factly.
"No." It replied smoothly.
Suddenly Violet thought that was a stupidly obvious thing to say, but she was sure something was wrong with her and the cat didn't seem to mind her temporary insanity. She waited and watched the creature that didn't shy from her stare, it just watched her lazily, silently. Content. "What are you?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." It replied with a smile. That made her shiver. 

"I've seen a great deal of things. I don't think you'll surprise me." Violet replied indignantly.

"But you haven't seen me." It replied proudly, "Nobody's seen a me." It added with a grin.

"I don't like riddles." Violet snapped.
"Yes you do." The cat-thing corrected her, swishing it's long tail.

"This is getting me nowhere," Violet growled. 

"No, sitting there is getting you nowhere, talking is getting you somewhere." 

Violet paused for a moment, assessing the creature, "I don't like you very much."

"Nobody does at first, but they grow to like me."

"Ah!" Violet pointed at it and stood up, "You said nobody had seen you before!" 

"Not a me, no. A like me, yes. Everyone is the same, like that." 
"Ugh..." Violet rubbed her temples, "I need to get out of here."
"Yes." The cat-thing nodded slowly, its ears bobbed.

Every direction seemed the same to her. Violet looked in front of her, behind, in every direction. It didn't seem to matter. But she was quite sure if she wandered in any direction but the right one then she would be lost in here forever. She paused in thought for a little while, she wasn't sure quite how much time had passed.


Time to leave, she thought to herself. "I know where i'm going now." Violet said confidently, and started forwards. 

"A-hrm!" The cat-thing cleared it's throat and it halted Violet mid-step. She backed up and gave an irritable glance towards the little wispy thing, and its only response was to jerk it's head a little off to the left. She raised an eyebrow at the creature but for some reason, she believed it. She took a couple of steps to the left and changed her angle slightly, and set off. She had only been walking for a couple of minutes when, without warning, the sunflowers came to an abrupt stop and she was in the middle of an empty car park.


The change was jarring. Violet stumbled forwards and steadied herself against the side of an old white van. She shook her head and wiped her eyes, pollen fell from her like faerie dust. She took a deep breath and took stock of herself. Where had she been? She looked back and saw an open door that led up a flight of stairs. Oh that's right, she thought irritably, I left the building with the two monsters in it. Had to search for this 'door' for the key Vincent was going to procure. Violet took a few unsteady steps and paused to look behind her, she felt a little out of sorts. Like days had passed and she hadn't noticed. The sun was still high in the sky, but that could have meant anything. The void could play tricks on your mind, if you let it. But she was stronger than that. She pressed on, but a voice lingered in her ear.

"You will know my name when next we meet..."

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Vincent slumped down at the back of the couch, which he had just finished shoving up to the wall of his apartment. He took a cigarette from his pocket and lit it as he looked across his apartment. He had moved everything he could in to the far corners, leaving behind a large empty space in the middle of the room. He had also rolled up his various rugs, leaving only the bare hardwood floor underneath. He puffed on his cigarette for a moment as he caught his breath, hard labour really wasn’t his strong point. After a moment he got up and continued making preparations. In a small drawer he managed to find what looked to be a coiled up length of thin metal. He held it together in his hand before throwing it over the space on his floor. The spring steel sprung apart in to a large circle.


Vincent had found this material, often used for pop-up tents, and decided it was perfect for a quick-use circle. Also it meant he didn’t have to get chalk over his floor. The circle he used for enchanting was too small for what he was about to do. So this was going to have to do in a pinch. He finished his cigarette and extinguished it in a glass ashtray, and then got to work. He picked up the Grimoire and placed it inside the circle, in the centre. Then he made sure the floor was clear of any dust and debris. Then he held out his hand towards the circle around him, and focused his will.


This time he had taken a moment to build up a degree of focus. He could do this relatively quickly, most wizards had to pick up that particular skill if they wanted to be anything beyond ordinary. The extra focus was a necessary measure in this case. When the circle finally activated it thrummed with power, and standing inside it made his the hairs on his arms stand on end, like there was a field of static in the air. The circle was strong, and designed not to let anything get out unless he broke it with his own will. Well, at least that was what he hoped.


He had no way of telling what kind of protections were built in to the Grimoire, for all he knew it had the power to nuke the entire city. He felt it unlikely, but then again magic didn’t really have much in terms of limitations, and the enchantments on the book were like nothing he had seen. At least this way, if something went wrong, he would be the only one being eviscerated. Hopefully.


Vincent sat cross legged on the floor and opened the book up. He examined it again with his will but found no change in behaviour. If the book was linked to Violet and himself, then there would have to be something that activated the connection. An incantation was unlikely, there were plenty of things that could read minds, or even forcibly remove information from another. For something as powerful as this there would have to be a strong physical connection, and nothing was stronger than blood. Still, that seemed far too easy. An enemy could easily kill him and just let his blood out over the book and gain access. But at this point he didn’t have any other ideas.


From his pocket he retrieved a small folded knife and released the catch so that the blade flicked out. He drew it over his palm quickly, and calmly, like a surgeon doing a procedure he had done a thousand times before. The cut wasn’t deep, but the blood wept out quickly and he held his hand over the open pages of the book. His blood dripped down on to the pages and were quickly absorbed, staining them. Then after a moment, as he had anticipated, the blood began to disappear from the pages, as if the book was devouring the red liquid.


For a moment nothing else happened. There was no burst of power or activity. The book simply soaked up his dripping blood, and did nothing. Vincent sighed and took his hand away, cursing that he hadn’t lifted a bandage to press on the wound. Instead he just removed his t-shirt and wrapped it around his palm, pressing tightly on the cut. Then something happened that made him jerk his head up in surprise. He heard a voice.


“Blood has been given.†It said, the voice was deep and commanding and Vincent’s mind flashed with images of Darth Vader bearing down on him. “Blood has been given.†It said again, more clearly. “Provide your name, spoken freely, from your own mouth.â€

“Uh…†Vincent said hesitantly. “Vincent Gideon Hallow.†He added quickly.

“Blood has been given. The name has been given. I bid you greeting, Vincent Gideon Hallow.†The voice said. It was at this point Vincent realised that it wasn’t coming from anywhere in the room, but was speaking directly to his mind, through a telepathic link.


“…Thaumaturgy.†Vincent said uneasily. “You require the blood to create a link with the living entity. Then the name spoken freely confirms that I am not under any physical or mental persuasion.†The thing about speaking your own name out loud, is it has a power. If another wizard was controlling your mind, even if they knew your name, they wouldn’t quite be able to have you say it in exactly the way you would on your own. It was a subtle magic of life, and in this case it was being used as a security measure.


“Correct.†The voice responded, and then abruptly silenced once more.

“Right…so who are you?†Vincent asked.

“I am not a who.†The voice responded simply.

“…Right†Vincent said with a sigh. “What are you then?†he asked. There was a long pause.

“I am knowledge.†It replied. Vincent shook his head in irritation.

“Can you be more specific?†He asked.


“I am knowledge within the confines of this vessel.†It said. “All that is recorded, is what I am.â€

“So…some sort of intellectual spirit?†Vincent suggested.

“No.†Came the response.

“Merlin’s beard you’re difficult.†Vincent said as he held his head in his hands. “Are you some kind of…†Vincent lifted his head from his hand. “You’re a Keeper, right?â€

“Indeed.†The Keeper affirmed.


Vincent smirked a little a shook his head in disbelief. A Keeper wasn’t really a living entity at all, it was more akin to a computer programme, but a magical one. Back in the old days they were used to compile information and keep a record of it. The thought hadn’t really come naturally to him, the spell was practically unheard of in this day and age. There wasn’t really much requirement for them, not when you had google on your phone. But this helped him. Keepers were essentially all knowing, at least within the confines of their vessel. Whatever was written within the Grimoire was automatically added to the Keeper’s knowledge, with perfect recall. Sort of like the world’s most accomplished librarian.


“Okay, okay.†Vincent said after his moment of though. “So I know you used to belong to my dad. Are you able to give me information?â€

“The rite has been done. You are bound, Vincent Gideon Hallow.†The Keeper replied.

“But what does that mean?†Vincent asked. “Elias Wolfwood Hallow is your current owner, correct?â€

“No.†The Keeper replied. “Vincent Gideon Hallow is my current owner.â€

“Oh…well that’s good.†Vincent said with an approving nod. “So how many owners have you had?â€

“Twelve, currently.†The Keeper replied. “Instructions were left, a thirteenth is also entitled to perform the rite and access my knowledge.â€

“Violet.†Vincent said instantly, now full on smiling like a child with a new toy. “So…you must have a ton of information. How much?â€


“That is incalculable.†The Keeper replied. “In terms of volume, the information I hold would require a large library, over 1 million pages of information. However, the information I hold is not widely known. It is fair to say that my value is priceless.â€

“Well holy shit…†Vincent said, adding a whistle. “This is a lot to process. I don’t really have the time. Let’s see…can you show me what you have on Necromancy?â€

“Certainly.†The Keeper replied, and the pages of the book flipped on their own to another set of blank pages. Then, slowly, ink began to spill on the pages and formed words, diagrams and notes. Vincent scanned the pages and flicked through them, the entire book was filled with various writings, all of their hand writing different.


“Well that’s…a lot.†Vincent said as he rubbed his chin. “Okay…show me all entries written by Elias Hallow.â€

The pages began to re-write themselves until there was only one page of content. The entry was simple enough. In fact Vincent already knew what was written. The entry was regarding the resurrection of corpses. In order to control a corpse, once you have risen it, a Necromancer must use what is often referred to as a “drumâ€. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a literal drum, it could simply be tapping something off your hip, or clapping, as long as it carried a beat. The idea was to simulate a heartbeat, which created a connection with the corpses and the Necromancer, allowing for manipulation. It was probably one of the most basic lessons of Necromancy.


“This doesn’t help either.†Vincent sighed. He scanned is eyes over a few notes and scribbles, until he noticed that some of them were ones he didn’t recognize. He was no academic on symbols, but he had a fair idea about them. However he had never seen these strange markings before. “Keeper, are these symbols druidic or something? Where do they come from?â€

“That information is not known.†The Keeper replied. “However these symbols do appear in other passages.â€

“Show me.†Vincent asked. The book transformed again and he was left with a two page spread with drawings and writing.


“This is…†Vincent scanned the pages. “It’s a binding spell. Pretty uh…pretty complicated. Holy shit…â€

“This ritual is used to suppress the nature of a being from The Void.†The Keeper stated. “However it requires the victim to have a soul, to be mortal.â€

“Uh…that doesn’t make sense.†Vincent said to the Keeper. “Void creatures don’t have souls.â€

“Half breeds have the potential to possess a soul.†The Keeper said.

“Half breeds of what?†Vincent asked

“An ancient creature. It has many names, and many faces.†The Keeper replied.


“Well, this is getting me nowhere.†Vincent said with a sigh. Perhaps Violet would have something. He looked across to his window and saw that it was dark outside and the street lamps were on. Time was running out. He closed the Grimoire and put it aside. He already had a circle up so he supposed this was probably the best time to get in touch with Violet. Communicating through The Void wasn’t easy. But he had a connection to Violet. He took his shirt away from his hand and looked at his weeping wound. He had blood. It wasn’t hers, but they were family. She was only his half sister as well. Still, there was a good chance he could get a short message to her. He let some of the blood fall to the floor and then he held his other hand over the droplets on the ground.


He focused on the blood, took note of the properties it held. Then he focused on his mouth, and his throat. He thought of sound and how it carriedthrough the wind. Then he brought up as many memories of Violet as he could. He built all of this information on top of each other, and then he spoke only a few words, as only a short message was likely to reach her.


“Violet, I have the key. It belongs to dad.â€

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The search for the necromancer continued. Violet had lost all sense of time in the void. She wasn't even sure if time was flowing at the same rate. She felt as though she hadn't heard from Vincent in weeks. She climbed up the side of a grassy hill until she reached the top and looked out over what looked like a facsimile of Los Angeles. All the landmarks were there, the skyline looked, well, almost right. But the buildings were skewed. The sun was too close. The clouds too low. There were no lights, no cars, no visible foot traffic. An eerie glow seemed to seep from the city, some kind of magical energy. Violet wiped her brow, the climb up the hill had taken it out of her. She was hot. Really hot. Burning up, even. She knelt to catch her breath and soon found herself lying on her back, staring up at the strange sky. Sweat beaded all over her skin and slid down her body in tickling little streams. 

"Damn i'm outta shape." She muttered, confused at how hot and tired she was. But this wasn't normal for her, she often went jogging. She pulled herself up to rest on her elbows so she could look back down the hill and saw she was far higher up than she'd thought. The problem with the void was to navigate it you had to use instinct and emotion as a second sight. If you relied on the landmarks, you were fucked. All it'd take is a single shift, and suddenly your world would go topsy turvy.

Violet had been lying there on the top of that hill for a long while now. She hadn't been feeling too good. In fact, she was content to stay there for the time being, when she felt something strange. She felt a voice, as though carried on the wind. She recognised it immediately and screwed her eyes shut to listen. It was faint and indistinct, but she caught a few words.

“Vi-- I -- key. It belongs -- dad.â€

Dad. The word made her open her eyes like spring traps. "What do you mean 'dad'?!" Violet barked, to no-one in particular. She knew Vincent couldn't hear her but she couldn't stop herself from thinking aloud regardless. She leant up and took a deep breath. It was probably time to pull Vincent into the void. She sat upright and took another deep breath. It was just as well they were siblings or this would likely never work. Vincent had to know in sending that message she was going to pull him into the void. She would give him a few minutes to prepare and then begin. Violet sat upright, crossed her legs and placed her hands on her knees. She was never a huge fan of thaumaturgy, and don't even mention meditation to her. She was a focused person, but meditation was difficult. All that time spent as animals probably didn't help with sitting still. She had no patience for it.


Closing her eyes, Violet concentrated. She tried to drain all her thoughts and feelings away until there was just a dark, comfortable silence in her mind. She reached out with her hands, gouging a circle into the earth around her with her fingers. She funnelled her will into the circle and reached out with her mind. She could feel a distant sensation, a consciousness trying to touch her own. It was patient, better trained, and if you can imagine, a little scruffy. Vincent. 

"Violet." Vincent's voice called through. "Glad to see you still remember this one."

"Less chat," She replied, frowning. Trust Vincent to use a thaumatalurgic spell requiring great focus and will across dimensions as a Skype call. "Shift into the void, focusing on my position, when you arrive, dont move. I'll come to you." She gripped her knees until her knuckles were white. "Hurry up."


Vincent never replied. Moments passed painfully slowly, with little to show. Then something seemed to slowly materialise into existence. The head came first, then the body. Doc Martin boots sunk into the dirt as the shape took physical form. Blue jeans and an AC/DC t-shirt came next, covered by an old, brown duster. Vincent's hair was tied back again and he had bandaged his hand. In his other he held his cane, and he was carrying a shoulder satchel. "Well..." Vincent said as he looked around, "Here come the heebie jeebies."

"Deal with it." Violet growled, as she sloped down the side of the hill, looking weary and covered in sweat. "What did you say about the key and dad? I couldn't quite make it out, the void is all over the place at the moment, it feels like someone came through here and changed the setting from 'whisk' to 'purée'.

"Oh." Vincent said before reaching in to his satchel and producing the Grimoire. "This is the Key, and it's dad's."

"What do you mean 'its dads'?" She asked, holding her hand out as though she was going to take it, then thought better of it. "How could you know that?" Her eyes narrowed as she withdrew her hand and folded her arms with an air of suspicion and judgement.


Vincent began to explain. He told Violet about what had happened with the Midnight Court, taking care to miss out that he had agreed to a contract with a damn Countess, some slaps were best to save for later. Then he told Violet about the book and it's Keeper, and about the ritual he had performed to gain it's knowledge. Sadly some slaps were unavoidable and he could see one on the horizon.

"You idiot!" Violet snapped, and surged forwards, bringing her fist back to strike Vincent. If there was one thing you didn't do, it was give away your name, your whole name, from your own mouth, to an unknown and likely dangerous magical artifact. She brought her arm forwards to strike, but stumbled forwards and almost collapsed. Her head fell into Vincent's chest and she had to use him to steady herself. She was panting, hot as hell, and sweating profusely.

"You're in bad shape." Vincent said as he held her up, keeping her on her feet. "We should leave and come back later. You need rest."

"I'm fine, get off me!" Violet muttered defensively, pulling away from Vincent. "We have to get this done. Now." She took a deep breath, "I'll have a cold shower when I get back." She added, more to herself than to Vincent. Then she pointed down at the city. "Griffith Observatory. I think the necromancer is there, I can feel the magic from here, can't you?" Violet wiped her brow with the back of her hand.


"Not really." Vincent said. "Or, well, I can feel all sorts of nasty juju buzzing around. Difficult to make sense of it."

"It's... no," Violet shook her head, "It's all over, don't you..." She took a deep breath and started to walk towards the city. "It's leading us there," She pointed at the observatory in the distance. "I can feel it. I couldn't before, not like this..." She stumbled forwards, righted herself, and kept walking. She didn't want her brother fussing over her, so she had to distract him, "What's in the grimoire?" She asked, out of genuine curiosity.

"Well simply put it's the combined magical knowledge of eleven generations." Vincent replied. "But more specifically I found this binding spell that... Well it doesn't make a lot of sense but it has some weird runes on the pages that match some other entries on Necromancy."

"Binding spell?" Violet tried to think but her thoughts were becoming muddied.

"It's really specific." Vincent explained. "It's supposed to lock down the nature of a creature of the Void. Like a specific creature. Not sure what exactly. Oh and uh... It requires the vessel to have a soul. The Keeper implied it only works on a half breed. Maybe it dampens a vampire's hunger or something, like if they haven't fully turned."


Some of what Vincent was explaining resonated with Violet, she tried to put the pieces of the jigsaw together in her mind. She knew the answers were laid out before her, but at that moment it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The more she tried to concentrate the harder it became. If she didn't start feeling better, then it would have to be Vincent that got them out of here. She could see the observatory ahead of them. In the real world, it studied the stars. There didn't seem to be much of that here, just strange empty space looming overhead. Whatever the case, the necromancer was there, waiting for them. Expecting them? She wasn't sure. But they had to stop her, they'd played her little game, got the key, found the door and now they were going to step through. Beyond that, she didn't know what to expect. A reward was likely out of the question, she could only hope that the necromancer released her hostage, whatever that monster decided to do with her, and her brother. "Want to take the lead on this?" She asked Vincent, with a weak smile, "I'll give you back-up, but I don't think I should be calling the shots here, Vince. I feel..." She didn't know quite how to end that sentence. 'Bad' might have fit well, though.

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The white stone walls of Griffith Observatory were always very clean, and along with the freshly cut and tidy grass, and the clean and un-littered paths it was quite the impressive tourist attraction. Not to mention it looked out on to the city of L.A from the hills of Hollywood. Vincent and Violet stood at the large, white stone monument that was the centrepiece of the garden walkway outside of the observatory. The Astronomers Monument was tall, and depicted sculptures of the six greatest astronomers; Hipparchus, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and Herschel. On top of the Astronomers Monument is a 900-pound, hollow bronze armillary sphere, an astronomical instrument composed of rings representing celestial latitude, longitude, and the ecliptic. Prior to the invention of the telescope, it was the main instrument used by astronomers to determine celestial position. Across from the monument was an equatorial sundial, also made of bronze. 


Vincent looked away from the monument, and over to the observatory itself. At night it was always beautifully lit in white lights that made it stand out in the deep blue night of the City of Los Angeles. Here in The Void, the eerie green light it gave off was entirely unsettling, and the shadows seemed to writhe and creep around. "This place is a hallmark of science." Vincent said as he walked the centre path of the garden towards the building. "Yet here it looks like it would be right at home next to Castle Grayskull. I hate this place, it takes all the nice stuff in our world and gives it a cheesy horror makeover."

"It isn't so bad once you get used to it." Violet replied, though her ragged breathing seemed to say otherwise. "I could get used to it if they sold ice cream." She wiped the sweat beading on her forehead. Vincent let out a stifled laugh but quickly swallowed it back down. They proceeded to the main doors and pushed them open, finding them unlocked.


They entered the building and found it to be dark and incredibly creepy. The real building was usually very well lit, but there were no lights at all in this place. Vincent reached for the pentacle amulet around his neck and removed it, wrapping the chain around his knuckles and holding his hand out so that the pendant hung loosely from his hand. The symbol itself was important to Vincent. The 5 pointed star represented the five elements in pagan beliefs; Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit. The circle around the star represented order, and it was this same concept that gave birth to the magic circle that all wizards used. A circle was complete, and constants, with no beginning or end. Together with the star the pendant was a perfect representation of Vincent's own brand of faith, his faith in magic. He focused on that faith, and in reaction his amulet began to glow a brilliant white light. The shadows seemed to visibly recoil from the light, and he stepped forward, illuminating the way. "Any idea where we'll find her?" He asked Violet. 


"Because I think like a necromancer that likes to spend her free time in a dimension that houses monsters." Violet replied sarcastically, blinking to adjust to the dim light.

"Well you led us here in the first place." Vincent replied. "Although thinking about it...based on the interaction we've had with this woman, she seems to like a little razzmatazz. If I wanted to put on a show here I know where I'd be standing." Vincent pointed down the main corridor. "The Planetarium, right? I mean it's basically a theatre." 

"Well I could feel her energy, but we're so close now it's sort of everywhere." Violet turned to look at Vincent and opened her eyes wide in surprise. He looked as though he was bathed in blue light. She blinked, and he was plain, scruffy Vincent again. "Can we hurry this up, I'm starting to lose my taste for this plane of existence."


"All right." Vincent said and he pushed ahead, his cane at the ready in his other hand. The moved through the corridor and the slithering shadows edged away from the light of Vincent's amulet. Normally the observatory had plenty of interesting things to see, but he didn't have the time nor the inclination at this point, They quickly moved to the opposite side of the observatory and through one of the double doors that led to the Planetarium. When they entered they were greeted by an entirely unworldly sight. 


All the seats in the Planetarium were filled. The people sitting in them wore clothing from all different time periods, and more importantly they were incorporeal. You could look straight through one to see the others behind it. They were all sitting quietly with their heads back, staring up at the domed ceiling. Normally visitors would be greeted with a wonderful view of the night sky, and all the stars in the galaxy. However above them there were only swirling, cascading clouds that glowed that same eerie green as the lights outside. The light bathed the room and the energy pouring over it had felt like snakes slithering over Vincent's skin. In the centre of the Planetarium, strapped across the globe-like projector, was a middle aged man. He was completely naked and shackled to the sphere in thick, black chains. The way he was lying looked like a great strain on his back, and his expression was downright miserable. He was letting out a soft whimper, like he was unable to scream any more. "Holy...shit." Vincent whispered as he gazed upon the scene. 


Violet reached for her gun, but as her fingers touched her empty holster she was reluctantly reminded of the loss of her gun. "Shit." She muttered, "Well it can't get much worse." 
"Wrong." A voice chimed.  "I've been waiting."
"Cut him loose." Vincent called out, not wasting his time on pleasantries. He was afraid, but he didn't dare let it show in his voice. "Now." he added.
"Why?" The question was long drawn out, amused by the demand. A figure wreathed in black, hooded, stepped from the shadows.
"Because I've been running errands for you all day and frankly..." Vincent held out his cane at the robed figure in a threatening gesture, "I'm sick of your shit. Cut him loose or you'll never get what you want from the Grimoire."
"You'll never give me the grimoire, Vincent." The hooded figure held its hands up, "So, where do we go from here?" A feminine laugh escaped it's lips.
"Yeah?" Vincent placed his amulet in his pocket and the light disappeared. He reached in to his bag and pulled out the Grimoire. "Here. Take it. You know as well as I do that it won't work for you. I'm in no mood for the theatrics, so cut the shit. Release the innocent and tell me what you want."
"I want Violet." She replied. 
"You can try, but you won't like what you'll take home." Violet replied defiantly. 
"Animals? Honestly..." The women paused and then refocused on Vincent. "Violet and the grimoire and you can take the pasty fleshbag, no fuss."
"Try again." Vincent replied. "I know the dark stuff tends to fuck up your perception a bit, but try to remember what it's like to be human." Vincent didn't like what he was saying, but it didn't make it any less true. "Family is more important than strangers, even if they are in danger. Not that Violet's life is mine to trade anyway. So like I said, try again."
"Alright. I could keep the grimoire and Violet and the mortal and vaporise you." A purple blast of magical energy shot towards them and Violet dove to one side. As she looked up she saw the hooded figure - the necromancer - was gone. Yet her voice lingered, "I got what I wanted, thanks kids. See you soon." She laughed and then silence spread through the room. Until Violet collapsed, her fall echoing in the acoustics of the planetarium.
"Alright. I could keep the grimoire and Violet and the mortal and vaporise you." A purple blast of magical energy shot towards them and Violet dove to one side. As she looked up she saw the hooded figure - the necromancer - was gone. Yet her voice lingered, "I got what I wanted, thanks kids. See you soon." She laughed and then silence spread through the room. Until Violet collapsed, her fall echoing in the acoustics of the planetarium. 
"Violet!" Vincent yelled as he dropped down to check on his sister. She was burning up, but she was breathing. He needed to get her out of here right now. He stood up again and looked back at the chained up man. He looked in pretty bad shape too. He couldn't leave him her. He strode forwards, and instantly realised the shift in energy in the room. The ghosts sitting in the seats had suddenly taken notice of him. They moved all at once, flying across the room and passing through the seats as if they were a hologram. He stopped mid stride and pulled his amulet from his pocket and held it in his hand, holding it aloft above him. "In nomine dei!" He cried in latin, his voice booming around the room as it was suddenly engulfed in white light. 
The Ghost's seemed to be hurting under the light and fled to the far corners of the room. The light pulsed out in waves, like a beacon of energy that pushed the shades back from Violet, the chained man and himself. "Lava quod est sordium!" He bellowed, "sana quod est saucium!" The light pulsed more rapidly, and the ghosts began to shriek and howl in pain. Faith's light had also repelled the horrible, clinging dark energy of The Void, allowing a comforting warmth to wash over Vincent. Confidence rose up from within him and he pointed his cane towards the outer circle of shrieking ghosts. Then he spoke a final utterance. "Ignus!" he cried, and a shot of brilliant white flame shot out from the end of his can like a lance. It hit the far wall and exploded, spreading around the circular room like a wild fire, igniting the ghosts and causing them to slowly fade away in to nothingness. 
It was at this point that he realised that the flames had covered the entire outer area of the Planetarium, forming a perfect circle of his own magic. Perhaps fortune was smiling upon him when the Necromancer has chosen this room for their meeting. He focused his will and sealed the room. It was now his domain, a realm of order in a world of chaos. He felt something akin to a vacuum sensation, before a final hissing snap, as the negative energy of The Void was expelled from the room. With another gesture of his cane towards the chained man he said "Solvo." and the chains shook a little, before collapsing from the man and clattering on the ground. He slipped off of the sphere and hit the ground with a soft thump. He walked over to the man to check on him, and found him barely conscious but still whimpering. His wounds weren't terribly grave, but no doubt his soul had been ravaged. It would be a long recovery for him, if he ever recovered at all. 
"Violet?" Vincent called back across the room. "Violet!" He called again, a little frantic this time. "I really need you to wake up! I can't carry both of you!"
"I'm tired... Five more minutes, Vince..." Violet groaned back, still half asleep.
"Five more minutes and I'll be out too!" Vincent yelled back. "This circle took a lot of juice. We need to get out of here!"
"Circle..." Violet groaned, rubbing at her face, and then something clicked. She wasn't at home, with her brother, being yelled awake for a school morning. "Circle?!" Violet shot upright, she looked around the room in a bleary haze. "What's going on Vince? Did I..." She was going to say 'faint' but hated that word, "Did I black out?" She asked. "Did we get her?"
"No we got our ass kicked." Vincent replied. "Well I think we did, but I have the book and this guy is free so let's just get the hell out of here."
"You're interesting to watch." The voice returned, but this time - though hooded - the figure was not cloaked by shadow, she strode forwards in confidence and looked at the two wizards. Violet tried to pull herself to her feet, and while she succeeded she felt like she couldn't stay upright for long. "All it takes is a little shadow puppet and you just let down your guard." Long black hair hung down from the hood and a glimpse of tan skin hid inside.
"Ignus!" Vincent roared without skipping a beat, pointing his cane forward and sending out another lance of brilliant flame towards the Necromancer.
The flame shot towards the necromancer and she quickly whispered something and held out her hand in front of her. The flame splashed against her and a look of surprise washed over her as she was knocked back. She growled as her hood was blown back, and she held her head low as she pulled herself back to her full height and examined her arm. Where there was once flesh, now none remained. Only a deep, dense purple light, in the shape of her missing limb. "That hurt." She muttered, "I haven't felt that sensation in two decades. Well done, Vincent. You're rather good." She said, "For a mortal." She added, as an afterthought. She raised up her glowing hand and her lips moved silently. Darkness enveloped the room.
Vincent raised his amulet once more, focusing his will. "In nomine dei!" he cried out once more and white light emanated from his amulet, fighting back against the darkness. It was not as overwhelming as before, and his light seemed to be struggling to penetrate the darkness. "Lava quod est sordium! Sana quod est saucium!"
"Fire and light, Vincent?" The necromancer asked, her tone mocking. "I knew Violet got her good looks from her mother, but not her magical talent as well. Though it can't be helped, I suppose." Suddenly the darkness was gone, lifted as though it never existed. Stood before them was the necromancer. If Violet could have remained standing any longer, she would never know. She collapsed to the ground, staring at the necromancer. The woman was in her early forties, her long black hair framed a beautiful face of native american lineage. 
"Mom?" Violet asked in disbelief.
"Hi, honey." The woman replied with a smile, "Close your mouth, dear, it's unseemly."
"Don't trust her, Violet!" Vincent snarled, advancing forward and extending his palm so that his shield rose up, protecting him and his sister from any incoming attacks. He stared at the Necromancer, fury burning in his eyes. He had never met Violet's mother, but he had seen photos. For this twisted bitch to wear her face so brazenly was inexcusable. "Listen to me, Necrobitch." Vincent said firmly. "I don't care what you think. Violet is not yours, and you can't have her. And now you've really pissed me off. You're not getting anything from this. Not the innocent, not the Grimoire, and certainly not my fucking sister! Got it?"


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Violet's head was spinning. Not just from how hot or exhausted she was, though her body screamed at her for relief. No, her head was spinning because her mother was stood in front of her, in the void, as a necromancer, and she was alive. Everything about that thought was wrong. How was it possible? If she was alive all this time then why had she left without a word? Why had she turned to dark magic? Then a nasty thought occurred to her. Had her mother always been a necromancer? Suddenly a stream of questions began fighting for her attention.

"You don't know what you're talking about, Vincent." Her mother replied, tutting. "I already have the innocent, I could take the grimoire from you, and Violet, and you, actually. You think this--" She held up the arm that seemed made of energy. "--is going to stop me? You didn't even scratch me. Not really." 

"M-mom?" Violet repeated, unable to get her next thought out.
"I know i've left a lot unexplained, dear, but if you come with me i'll explain everything and show you what you're capable of. You're feeling a little off, right?" Her mother smiled. That smile was so familiar to her, was it really her mother? But how was that possible?


"You're not taking her anywhere!" Vincent snarled. "Even if I have to use every last bit of magic I have left... I'll make sure to take you down with me." It was no idle threat in his mind. It was a promise.

"I wasn't asking you." Her mother's face darkened and her tone became cold like steel, "Don't use that tone with me, Vincent Gideon Hallow. If you do, I will put you in your place." Her face curled back into a snarl reminiscent of Violet's, "The impetuosity of mortals..."

"Violet..." Vincent said, ignoring her mother. "Snap out of it. We're family... even if she's telling the truth, just look at what she's doing. Don't trust her."


"I..." Violet opened her mouth to speak, but her mother cut her short.

"You're family? I AM HER MOTHER!!" She snarled, her voice echoing strangely. Violet's mother raised her arms and a hot glowing purple energy quickly filled her palms. It took less than a second. The energy shot straight at Vincent, the heat and light was blinding but Violet was already moving. She couldn't control her speed, and she rammed into Vincent's shoulder, knocking him aside. But she was caught in the chest with the full force of the energy. Violet flew backwards like a rag doll and collided with the floor, tumbling over and over until finally she rolled to a stop and laid quite still, her body limp and lifeless.


Vincent pulled himself to his feet, looking around for a moment until he caught sight of Violet. His expression soured and he turned to the Necromancer, glaring at her darkly. "Mothers like you have their children taken from them. Because you hurt them!" He began to channel his will. It came to him more easily than before. Fuelled by hate and anger, they were easy to harness. The magic they created, however, was violent and chaotic. It damaged the soul. But it was what he needed right now, and besides which he couldn't control it. He had dropped his cane in the fall, but he didn't need it for what he was doing. He thrust out his open palm. "IGNUS!" he roared furiously, the fire coming to him quickly. It did not flow out of him like a lance, as it had before, but like a vicious cyclone, swirling and twisting through the air, expanding forward in a mass of explosive heat and energy, engulfing his view.


Seeing her daughter limp on the floor, she turned her attention to Vincent. "You should have done as I asked." Her face was full of rage and she strode forwards into the fiery cyclone. As she closed on Vincent, she was whispering something, chanting. The fire scorched her clothes and burnt them away. The flames licked at her skin and tore at it as quickly as it had done her clothes until there was nothing human left of her. Violet's mother walked out the other side of the cyclone. Her body was featureless, shaped like a woman's but made of dark purple energy. Her eyes were shaped by hatred, but filled with brilliant white light, as was her mouth, which was coiled into a wicked grin.

"I am Vael, know me, Vincent, as I truly am. As Violet will be." A long flowing mass of pink energy cascaded back off Vael's head, like living hair. Her face was as featureless as her body, only the likeness of a humanoid remained. "This is what I do to mortals..." Suddenly Vael dispersed, appeared beside Vincent and jabbed her hand like a dagger, into Vincent's head. It sank in as though she had stabbed him, yet there was no blood.


Vincent was consumed by an indescribable sensation. It was so incredibly cold, and yet it burned like hot coals. There was sharp pain like knives penetrating his skull, but there was also a debilitating numbness that made it all seem so far away. He could not scream, but his face was frozen in an image of pure horror. 
And then he was in his apartment, lying on his sofa. The only thing he wore was a pair of black, skinny jeans and the pendant around his neck. His hair was only slightly shorter, but it was recently cut and styled, making him look a great deal more healthy and confident. It took him a moment to realise there was something warm pressed up against him. He looked down to see a woman with long red hair, wearing only her underwear and his old Aerosmith T-shirt. As he looked down on her, she looked up from her position where she was nuzzling at his chest, and her hazel eyes were bright and happy. She smelled like summer flowers. 
"Claire..." he choked, as if he hadn't spoken in days. She smiled sweetly at him and moved to adjust herself. He lay back as she moved to straddle him, and she kissed him on the neck affectionately. The feeling wasn't intense, so much as it was just... right. His arms drifted to her hips as she raised her body upwards and he looked upon her as the sunlight shone through the window behind her. Something distracted him however. Something was nagging at him in the back of his mind. The sun was shining through the glass, but the image was fuzzy like the glass was covered in a thick frost. Then he looked to Claire once more and she gave a toothy grin. 
"Found you..." She said softly, in a sing-song way. 
"What..." Vincent murmured, and then he felt her hand clasp tightly around his neck. Overwhleming cold shot through him along with an unnatural and terrifying sensation. Claire's eyes sparkled and their pupils became feline and predatory. Her beautiful red hair shimmered and became as white as snow, her eyes a brilliant emerald, and her lips a light blue. "N-no!" Vincent choked but the grip only grew tighter, the sharp nails pressing against his skin, Claire leaned in closer, her lips navigating up his chest, his neck, and hovering over his lips. The sensation was beautiful and part of him wanted it so much, but in the back of his head he knew the sensation was forced upon him, unwillingly. The cold had crippled him, and he was engulfed in pure terror. 
"Hello, boy..." Claire said with a wicked smile as she gently kissed his lips, before pulling away and resuming her position, straddled on top of him, stopping him from moving. "I have found you at last..."
"No!" Vincent protested, "You can't..."
"Can't?" Claire asked. "Can't!?" Her face whipped closer to him again, her eyes filled with cold and venomous rage. "I AM SIDHE!" She screamed, her voice booming in his head, causing him horrific pain. "I AM THE COLD! THE SORROW! THE UNYIELDING STORM! I AM WINTER ITSELF!"
Her voice grew gentle once more as her lips pressed against his left ear. "I am Isoleth... and you, boy... are mine!"
"Interesting..." Vael spoke, wandering through Vincent's memories as though she was on a stroll. She grinned as she watched him being subjected to Isoleth's rage, "But I feel you resisting Vincent, you have a strong mind. But like her," Vael inclined her head to the woman astride him, "I am a force of nature." She grinned and forced her will deeper into his mind.
"You are but dirt beneath my heel, Darkling!" Isoleth snapped, somehow aware of Vael's presence. "If you know who I am then you know the value of my word. This child is mine!" Her sharp nails released their grip from his neck and trailed sharply down his chest, drawing blood, but Vincent did not so much as wince. He couldn't. "His life... it is not yours to take. Do you understand me?"
"Come and stop me," Vael teased and suddenly the room in Vincent's mind seemed to darken, as though all the light has being snuffed out. "It's easy to make threats when you're sitting on your throne, pixie." Emphasising the last word. The room seemed to fade into nothing, only Vincent and the bed remained and even that seemed to be fading into nothingness.

"Hey!" Violet called out. Vael pulled herself from Vincent's memories just enough so that she could refocus her attention on her daughter in the real world. In the void. She saw her daughter slumped over, using one of the chairs as support. A smile touched the corner of Vael's mouth.
"I'm glad you're not dead." She said simply.
Violet said nothing in reply. Somehow she had to stop her mother - if that was her mother - and get her and Vincent back home. But she felt weak, too weak to do much of anything. She felt like she was dying. The energy she had been hit by had left a terrible burn mark in her abdomen and it was likely far worse than it looked. But as she stumbled forwards towards her family, she felt a strange need. A gnawing hunger. Soon, the hunger was all that was left, nothing else mattered. It was like she was on fire. Burning from the inside out. 
Everything around her had turned to energy. She could see the energy in the void, wild and yet focused at the same time. She could see the powerful and violent energy of her mother, so bright it was almost blinding to her. She could see the magical energy seeping out of Vincent. She wanted to help Vincent, but right now, she couldn't understand anything but her need to feed. She fell towards her mother and grasped her formless leg. Vael looked down just in time to see Violet instinctively reach out and put her hand to the grimoire that Vincent had dropped upon being attacked. Pure glee spread across her face as she watched the grimoire open, pages flying. She watched as a huge mass of magical energy erupted out of the book, spiralling around Violet and then funnelling into her daughter's waiting eyes and mouth. They glowed for just a few seconds until the transfer completed, and then Violet collapsed.
"Ooh, fantastic." Vael cooed.
"You think so?" Violet growled, and looked up at her mother. "Whoever you are, you're not my mother. My mother's name is Martha." Violet's words visibly stung Vael, she recoiled and withdrew her presence from Vincent and he dropped to the ground. 
"Ich rufe alle befugnisse aus schnee und eis!!" Violet quickly barked out a spell in German, the language she used to differentiate her magic from her spoken word. Something their mentor had taught them. Vincent might have preferred Latin, but Violet never liked that flowery, old tongue. The energy of the void shifted and surged towards Vael, at first she started to absorb it, but suddenly the energy drew in moisture and the temperature rapidly dropped. Suddenly, the moisture formed into a slurry of ice and snow and she was knocked over. The slurry poured over her and froze solid, encasing Vael in magical ice. Violet knew it was only a temporary prison, she could already see some kind of heat assaulting the prison from within. She quickly grabbed her brother and reached into her coat pocket. She was too weak to just force her way back into the human realm, especially with her brother in tow. But she had kept something by for emergencies. Violet pulled off the matching pendant and held it in her hand and for a second time, recited another spell. She had to blur the lines between dimensions temporarily. It was a dangerous spell as anything could pass into the human realm after them, but she had to risk it, there was no time.
"Schwächen die wände zwischen den welten!!" There was a loud popping noise as they were sucked out of the void, along with all the air surrounding them. The sound was the air rapidly filling the space they had left behind. Vincent and Violet landed roughly on a bit of tarmac, for a moment she wasn't sure where they were. Changing dimensions was more than a little jarring. Violet turned around and to her surprise, saw a large metropolitan bus careening towards them. Quick as a flash, fuelled by her adrenaline reserves, Violet grabbed her brother and dove out of the way, shocking the crowd that parted as they fell into the street. 
"'Ey watch it!!" One of the people barked, as he passed them.
"That accent..." Violet muttered, pulling herself back up. She turned around to see buildings covered in enormous screens, displaying the latest movies and commercials. "We're in New York, in Times Square..." She pursed her lips and looked down at the semi-conscious Vincent, "Shit."

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It was pitch black when Vincent’s El Camino pulled up in a secluded area of The Valley, not far from Burbank. The wheels crunched over the gravel outside the old lumber yard and the beams of his headlights were extinguished as he slowed to a stop and killed the engine. Vincent sat at the wheel looking out at the deserted warehouse and looked a little on edge. His hair hung limp the length of his shoulders and he was dressed in a Ramones T-shirt, along with his usual pentacle amulet around his neck, and he wore his brown duster. “Looks like the place.†He said to the passenger.

“Indeed.†Came the response.


Across from him sat a gentleman who must have been approaching 50. He was wearing stone wash jeans and brown hiking boots, and wore a green check shirt, buttoned up with a white t-shirt visible at the neck, as well as a thin, silver chain bearing a small Latin cross. The man had blonde hair that was swept back over his head, and a thick beard that was short and tidy. His brown eyes were strong and confident, but there was something very gentle about them. The passenger was a stark contrast of Vincent, he was clean, orderly and presentable. “We should proceed quietly.†He said as he went for the passenger door. “I’d like to avoid conflict if at all possible, Vincent.â€


“You know me, David.†Vincent said with a smirk, “I’m a paragon of diplomacy.â€

“I mean it†David replied reproachfully, but he gave a soft smile. “I am not here to hurt these people, but to save them.â€

“So says God’s hitman.†Vincent replied as he stepped out of his side of the car. He retrieved his cane from the back seat, along with a sheet of black cloth wrapped in string, which he passed to David, who began to remove the fixings. From the coverings he withdrew a long, cross-hilted broadsword in a simple black sheath with silver adornments.


David Argent was many things. Most of the time he was a simple man with a simple life. He was a Professor of History at The University of Iowa, which was how he had met Vincent many years ago when he had went there to study. David was also a dedicated husband, and a father to a small army of children, seven in total. He was a devout Catholic who was greatly involved in the community and he was, in every way, a decent man. However every so often he would travel, and he would take up the sword he carried at that moment. For he was, or at least he believed he was, a servant sent by God. Vincent had never been entirely convinced about the existence of the G-man, but in a world of magical monsters, faeries, and a handful of Eldritch horrors, he couldn’t really flat out deny that the Lord might be real.


David was a practitioner, at least as far as Vincent was concerned. The man himself hummed with a pure and solid sensation of power. In fact Vincent was certain that the man had enough magical juice to make a decent wizard, if he wanted to. David was not a man of spells and potions, however, he was a man of God. His power was drawn from pure and unyielding faith. Perhaps God had a hand in it, or perhaps David’s belief was simply so strong that it gave him that power. Faith had that kind of effect, especially on the magically gifted.


“I am not a hitman.†David said, apparently unaware of the irony of saying that whilst brandishing a freaking broadsword. “I am but a humble servant of the Lord.†Vincent rolled his eyes but said nothing, and the pair quietly moved across the gravel to find a quiet entrance in to the building. Together they crept in to the warehouse, and moved carefully along it’s edge, using the shadows of the heavy machinery as cover. There was light coming from an open space in the centre. Probably candles, Vincent thought. He began to gather his will for a spell, but it would take a moment.


This had all started two days ago. Vincent hadn’t had a lot of success with Client’s in the last couple of weeks. He didn’t remember much about what had happened at New York. Despite all that had happened, he hadn’t spoken much to Violet on the trip back. She had used her money to get them flights back to L.A but they hadn’t really addressed the event that had transpired in The Void. In fairness Vincent was suffering from a severe case of psychic trauma. Vael had gotten in to his head, and the images were burned in to his head. Every time he closed his eyes he was back in that dream, entirely helpless in a room with two entities he had found entirely terrifying. When they had returned to L.A Vincent had went home to rest, and Violet seemed to want to do the same.


After a period of rest, a series of cleansing rituals, meditation and quite a lot of beer, Vincent had more or less straightened himself out. He had tried to contact Violet, but she hadn’t been taking his calls. He was worried about her, but he knew that his sister was not a bear that was worth poking when she wanted to be left alone. Especially since she could turn in to an actual bear. So he tried his best to get on with his daily routine. Work had been scarce, however, and so he had settled on his usual research. Violet had retrieved the Grimoire, fortunately. Vincent had spent some time since researching it’s contents somewhat tentatively. In truth the book was a little scary, and so soon after a mental assault he really didn’t feel like overwhelming his brain with new and horrifying information.


Right when he was at a point of financial desperation, David had turned up at his door. Social calls aside, David only turned up for one reason. Demons. Just the sort of thing Vincent needed to get back in to the fray. David was a vigilante of sorts and didn’t do his work for payment, but he had always been happy to offer Vincent something for his help. David had a good sense of when trouble was happening, but he was no investigator, and he needed Vincent for that. They had spent the remaining time following leads which had lead them to the discovery that someone had been summoning a demon and using it’s power to commit a few crimes around the city. Mostly robbery, which seemed a little odd at first. Further digging had lead them to discover the source was a young man called Declan McManus.


Declan was barely 20 years old, but clearly had discovered a gift for magic. There are no schools for this kind of thing. You don’t get a letter to Hogwarts when you come of age, and you’re pretty lucky if a kindly old wizard decides to find you and train you. Most practitioners don’t really have a potent level of ability, and as such they can’t cause a lot of harm. Sometimes, however, you get a pretty talented person emerging with no idea about the dangers of what they are doing. Declan had been using dark magic, and while he hadn’t killed anyone yet, he had summoned a demon and bound it to his will. He hadn’t broken any of the Laws as such, but binding a demon was akin to enthrallment, it still tapped in to the same dark energy, the kind that rotted your soul.

Vincent had finished his spell and as a result, the already dark room had grown darker, or at least his vision had. Veils were a delicate sort of magic, and not something Vincent was particularly good at. Even at his best, his veil would only sort of blur himself and David, and muffle their speech. Also, as a result, anything he saw or heard outside of the veil was a little fuzzy as well. But it would be enough to allow him and David to move carefully without detection, and speak quietly.


“Looks like the kid’s been living here.†Vincent whispered as he peered out from behind a large crate. “There’s an old cot there, he’s standing over a desk. Lot’s of books. Aw geez…he’s wearing a black cloak. Who does that? I swear television rots the brain.â€

“Can you sense the Demon?†David asked from behind him.

“Oh yeah.†Vincent replied. The air was filled with a menacing energy. “It’s dormant but it’s definitely here. Can’t really tell how badass it is though.â€

“Have faith.†David replied confidently. “The Lord will guide us this night.â€

“That’s great and all, but I think I’ll stick to using magic if it’s all the same to you.†Vincent replied.


“As you wish.†David said. “How do you wish to proceed?â€

“I’ll keep the veil on you.†Vincent said. “I’ll step out and get his attention. If I spook him then he’ll probably wake the demon up and then you can do your thing. Okay?â€

“Very well.†David said with a nod. “Let’s go.â€


Vincent stepped forward, leaving the veil behind and feeling it’s cover peel away from him like a thin sheet. His vision grew clearer and the sound became crisp. He walked with a confident stride, letting his boots drum against the concrete to alert the young Warlock to his presence. The cloaked figure spun around in surprise, and despite the dark shadows under his eyes, he still looked young and fresh-faced for the most part. “Wait a minute…†Vincent said loudly, holding his hands out in exasperation. “This isn’t the cosplay convention at all!â€

“Wh-who are you!?†Declan demanded nervously.

“I am your father!†Vincent bellowed ominously.

“What!?†Declan squeaked.
“Not really.†Vincent said with a smirk, rolling his eyes. “Look, kid. I’m obligated to tell you that what you’re walking down a dark path, and you’re becoming a danger to yourself and those around you. It’s not your fault but you’re using magic the wrong way and-“


“Silence!†Declan snapped. “You dare to lecture one such as I? Do you have any idea what peril you have walked in to, mortal?â€

“Oh boy…†Vincent said with a sigh. “Look, kid this isn’t Dungeons & Dragons. Cut the bullshit, it’s pretty lame.â€

“You dare!†Declan yelled. He thrust out his palm and gave a snarling utterance laced with magic. Sparks shot from his hand and lightning leapt across the room towards Vincent. He lifted his hand calmly and focused only a tiny amount of will in to his charm bracelet, and created a shield which absorbed the blast and left him unscathed.


“I get it, you’ve got lot’s of magical muscle.†Vincent said with a cocky smirk. “But that just won’t cut it against a real wizard.â€

“How…did you do that?†Declan asked nervously.

“Magic!†Vincent replied, waggling his fingers in a mystical gesture.

“Well I’ll show you!†Declan said with an angry scowl. “I’ll show you what I can do! Come forth! Aszog Shogoth! Your master commands you!â€

“Well…that was stupid.†Vincent said, shaking his head. As he spoke a dark shadow materialised between him and Declan, taking ship as a billowing mass with bulky shoulders, and whispy claws. It’s eyes were glowing with red energy and looked fierce and menacing. It loomed over Vincent, ready to rip his throat out with a single command.


“Aszog Shogoth!†Vincent barked, and he tapped his cane on the floor for emphasis. The Demon stopped in it’s tracks, frozen by the utterance of it’s name.

“Demonology: 101, kid.†Vincent called over to Declan. “If you are controlling a demon through it’s name, then don’t you think another wizard can too?â€

“Wh-what!?†Declan stammered. “No…he’s mine! He belongs to me!â€

“Wrong again.†Vincent said, now frowning at Declan. “When you bind a demon to yourself, it’s a trade. All the while you command him, he’s eating you from the inside out. Until there’s nothing left of your humanity. That’s kind of what they do.†Vincent turned his attention to the shadowy spectre and spoke it’s name again. “Aszog Shogoth…you are unbound from this mortal. Free to roam this mortal plane.â€


The simple allowance was enough. Aszog made a deep croaking noise that sounded like a distorted chuckle of glee. This foolish, upstart wizard had freed him of his binding, and thus he was now free to kill and maim every living thing in his path. And he would start with both of the wizards. Aszog lurched towards Vincent again, but became distracted and turned to the sound of metal scraping. David had emerged from the veil and drawn his broadsword, it’s metal gleaming. “Uh-oh!†Vincent said with a grin. “Sorry big guy…actually I’m not.â€


“Lord in Heaven give me strength!†David bellowed, his prayers thrumming with the same power as a wizard’s spell. “Cleanse this place of the foul and wretched, drive back the darkness!†Aszog hissed in pain, as if each word had struck him like a baseball bat. It grew livid and lunged at David in a frenzy, moving across the room with incredible speed. David did not flinch. He advanced in a steady stride, his sword drawn, and those gentle eyes were filled with steely resolve. Shadowy claws raked at him, but with a single swing of his sword he removed them from their owner, and Aszog reeled back, screeching as if the touch of the steel had burned him. “Be gone from this world, by the light of God!†David thundered, and he brought the sword up in a sweeping slash.


The demon roared in anger as light erupted from it’s wound, and it suddenly burst into swirling clouds, it’s wails still carrying even without form. The holy light engulfed the dark creature, and it’s wails faded as it was quickly removed from this plane of existence. It wasn’t dead, strictly speaking you couldn’t kill a demon. But it would send them back to The Void. Vincent gave an unenthusiastic “Hooray!†as he smiled at David, he looked pleased with his work. Feet shuffled, and Vincent turned to see Declan making a run for it. He lifted his cane and pointed it forward, before dragging it back like he was pulling on something.


Unseen force caught Declan and tripped him up, sending him sprawling backwards across the ground, before tumbling and landing next to Vincent’s feet. “Not so fast, Voldemort.†Vincent said with a smirk. “You’ve been a bad boy, time to pay the piper.â€

“Please don’t kill me!†Declan pleaded fearfully.

“Geez always so dramatic.†Vincent replied. “You’re going to the precinct, knucklehead. The cops can deal with you. Oh and uh…I’m pretty sure another wizard will be visiting you soon. I suggest you play ball when he does, otherwise he probably will kill you.â€

“Vincent, do not tease the boy.†David said with a sigh. “He will pay for his crimes as the police department dictate. Then he will be given chance to repent.â€


“I wasn’t teasing.†Vincent replied. “The Wise don’t share your penchant for forgiveness, David.â€

“And that is sorely disappointing.†David replied. “Perhaps you could…refrain from reporting him?â€

“No can do.†Vincent said, shaking his head. “They might kill me if I did that. Also…he hasn’t actually broken the Laws, technically. They’ll make sure he gets re-educated. It won’t be very pleasant but…uh…it’ll be good for him.â€

“I suppose….†David looked a little uneasy. “I suppose that is all I can ask for. Thank you for your help, Vincent.â€

“Any time.†Vincent replied with a smile.





After driving Declan to the police station, Vincent dropped David off at his hotel and said his goodbyes. Apparently David would be in town for the next few days visiting friends, and had asked Vincent to call him if anything was up. Vincent had thanked him, and then thanked him again for the 500 bucks he’d been given for the job. It wasn’t a lot considering his usual rate, but anything was good right now. It was the early hours of the morning by the time he got back to his apartment, and the sun would be rising soon. He had just thought about turning in when his phone had rang. He answered it immediately, hoping that it might be Violet.


“Good morning, child.†Lucia said in to the phone. “I hope I didn’t wake you.â€

“Um…†Vincent said. Shit! He cursed inwardly. “Lucia…is it that time already?â€

“Indeed it is, child.†She said pleasantly. “Your retainer has been wired to your account already, double your usual rate.â€

“Two grand?†Vincent gasped, “I haven’t even done anything yet!â€

“Call it a good faith payment.†Lucia said.

“Right…and how do you know my bank-“

“Best not to ask questions you won’t like the answer too, darling.†Lucia said, cutting him off. “7PM tonight, LACE art gallery has an exhibition on tonight, hosted by myself. You are on the list with a plus one. Be there sharp, dress appropriately and I suggest you bring the darkling as your date. You will probably require her help.â€


Lucia hung up, and Vincent just stood there for a moment. Formal dress? It was a good thing he’d been given an advance. He’d have to rent a tuxedo. However that really wasn’t the biggest problem. He had to bring Violet along. Worse still, she didn’t know he’d agreed to work with a vampire. As if she needed more reasons to kick his ass. He sighed and decided he better get to work. He showered, changed, and left his apartment again. He grabbed a bagel on his way to the Gethsemane hotel. Violet hadn’t been taking his calls, so it was time for a visit. He had a lot of explaining to do. 

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What am I? Am I a skinwalker? Was that really my mother? Why was she using necromancy? Did she ever even love me or my father or was she just manipulating us to achieve her goals? Am I going to turn into whatever that thing was? How dangerous is she? Am I dangerous?

Hundreds of such questions assaulted Violet's every waking moment. Right now she was sat on the end of her hotel bed, staring down at the floor. She had caught sight of a little stain on the carpet. It was red, possibly a splash of wine or maybe a drop of blood. Whatever it was, she was transfixed by it. She had spent the past couple of weeks apart from Vincent, apart from everyone really. She didn't want to hear from him. She needed space. Space to process everything that had happened. Had it helped? Not really. But at least she'd gotten some work done. She'd gone into the station for the first time in months, the Captain was happy to see her, kept asking her if she was ready to resume taking on cases. It wasn't enough that she was advising the department, not for the Captain. He obviously had a lot of crimes on his hands that probably had nothing to do with magic and monsters. Though she usually ended up with the strangest cases. The 'no hope' files. But she'd told him she still couldn't come back. He'd smiled and said it was alright, to take her time, but she could see the conflict on his face. If she didn't return soon, he was probably going to have to get a new detective.


Knock. Knock knock.


The sound of the door being hammered caused Violet to inhale swiftly and pull herself from her toxic thoughts. "Uh..." She croaked, licking her lips. She realised she hadn't spoken all day, and her throat was parched. She was hungry, too. She'd missed more than a few meals the past couple of weeks. She was a little paler, a little thinner. But she was still Violet Hallow. She still carried herself with an air of authority. No nonsense. A temper to be wary of. At least that's what she told herself, as she looked through the peep-hole of her hotel door.

"Vincent..." She said under her breath. Opening the door, she stared at him lazily, "What?"


"I brought donuts." Vincent said in his best attempt at a sincere and cheerful tone. He lifted the box and shook it a little as if to accentuate his statement. Violet didn't say anything but took the box from Vincent and walked back into her room, leaving the door ajar. She sat on the end of the bed, opened the box and pulled out the first donut she saw and took a messy bite out of it, eschewing her usually clean and ordered demeanour. She finished the first donut in a few seconds and then started another, this time eating slowly. She reached into the box and pulled out a napkin and wiped the powdered sugar from her face in silence, staring at the wall ahead of her. 

"So..." Vincent said as he stepped in to the room. He examined it for a moment before his gaze fell back on Violet. "You ready to talk about it?" He asked, quickly adding "It's okay if you don't..."

"What's there to talk about?" Violet muttered back, continuing her donut in silence for a few seconds more until she pushed the last bite into her mouth and chewed it slowly, letting out a long breath. "It's not like my mother rose from the dead and started practising necromancy, playing mind games with me, goaded me into the Void, turned into a... whatever... put her arm in your ear, and I got a face full of... something, from that book of yours. Perfectly normal day, Vincent."


"Right..." Vincent said, clearly chewing on his words before speaking them. "Well I'm here for you, and whenever you're ready to start digging I'll have your back. Well..." He paused for a moment, a little nervous. "...except right now. I kind of need your help, actually."

"Naturally." Violet growled. "Well I can't help you, i'm sort of..." Her voice trailed off as her face screwed up irritably.

"...closing yourself off and wallowing in self pity?" Vincent asked, it was subtle but he tensed as if half expecting for something to hit him. "I know something about that, believe it or not. It won't get any better if you just sit and do nothing, trust me."

"I'm--" She was going to say, 'not wallowing in self pity', but she probably was. But that wasn't it. "It's more that I can't do anything right now, Vincent. Have you actually looked at my room?" Violet asked, looking around again herself.


At first glance, the room appeared normal, if a little messy. But take a second look and you realised there was a lot amiss. The filament in the light overhead had shorted, and the ceiling fan was still. A glass of water lay on it's side next to her bed, the water had mostly spilled out into the carpet. Most of the bedsheets and pillows were on the floor beside the bed. Her clothes were in her wardrobe - but they were all on the floor, as the hangars were all bent out of shape. Violet crossed her arms and licked the inside of her cheek, trying to contain her temper.

"Oh." Vincent said, as if he was only noticing for the first time. "Um... well, shit. Violet why didn't you tell me? I mean... I might be able to do something." He thought for a moment, rubbing his chin, squinting his eyes like he was having a conversation with himself in his head. "I mean I don't know about right now but... I could have looked in to this for you."


Violet stood and stormed up to Vincent, "I don't need your help, i'm perfectly capable my--" As she raised her forefinger to point at Vincent, a little spark jumped the inch from her fingertip to his nose, and they both recoiled. "Argh!" Violet shook her hand, "Fucking carpet!!" She roared, stamping it as though that would achieve anything. She had completely lost her temper. This is why she had spent most of her time out, not that it really helped where she went. But she was fed up of everything reacting strangely to her. It wasn't unusual for a wizard to have an effect on their surroundings, but this was kid stuff. One of the first things you're taught to control, and soon you wouldn't even need to think about it. You just can't affect anything without consciously focusing your will into it, or on it, or around it. At least something. But it seemed like everything was against her right now. Two weeks of that had been enough. Violet bunched up her fists and felt like throwing them around, but the only face in the room was Vincent's, and she was already afraid she'd alienated her brother after what had happened in the Void, so hitting him was probably not the best move right now.


"Normally you don't." Vincent replied. "But... I think you do, and right now my time is limited. So if you want to do something about this then it has to be now. Otherwise..." He trailed off. "Look, I have a job tonight. It could get messy, and it might be a long one. So let me help you. I might be a pretty crappy person... but I'm a good wizard. I know my shit."

"Son of a..." Violet cracked her knuckles and stood quite still, reluctant to move across the carpet. She was breathing in and out entirely through her nose, trying to calm down. "Fine!" She blurted out, "Would you just get on with it, because if I knock one more glass of water over..." She trailed off, but the threat hung in the air. She took a couple of tentative steps back to her bed and sat down, a look of sour grapes on her face.

"All right... um..." Vincent looked around the room. "I need to make a circle. We'll need to move a few things around." He didn't wait for a response and got to work. He made a large enough space on the floor by moving some furniture around. Then he got the spare linens from her closet and put them on the floor, tying them together and placing them in the shape of a circle on the floor. After he was done he pointed to it's centre. "Okay, get in and sit down." She did as he asked and sat down in the middle of the circle, placing her hands on her knees.

"Can I admit that i'm uncomfortable, Vincent? The last time you put me in a circle, you turned my skin blue for a month." She looked around, inspecting the circle for breaks and nervously re-checking everything he was doing. "I just wanted you to dye my hair..."

"I was fourteen." Vincent grumbled.

"And how is that different from now?" She cracked a nervous smile.


"Because I have spent the last 10 years devouring magical theory to the point of being a reclusive shut in." Vincent replied. "Now be quiet and let me do my thing." He held out his hand with his palms opened and with an effort of will he activated the circle. He felt the energy go up around Violet, sealing her inside. This had the added bonus of ensuring he was free of the looming potential of a foul tempered ass kicking for the foreseeable at least. Still he'd have to let her out some time and it was probably best not to piss her off, he knew she'd be more than happy to kick his ass later. 
He reached out with his senses, allowing them to wash over the circle and analyse everything within. He gave a deep inhalation of breath which did not sound very reassuring, but he remained calm. "Well your aura is all over the place. It's like you're covered in static. No wonder you've been fucking shit up. The real question is why. Just give me another minute."
He continued to examine her with his senses, but he was struggling to find out what was going on inside her. He grit his teeth and then closed his eyes. When he opened them again he had activated his Sight, and when he gazed upon his sister his mouth immediately fell open. "Holy... shit." He whispered. 
Where Violet was sat, there was something else in her place. He couldn't find any other way to describe it but as a being of pure, raw power. He had thought that perhaps her magic had been fading, that it was bugging out as she fought to regain it. In fact the opposite was closer to the truth. She was bursting with power, but it wasn't like anything he had ever seen. A wizard's magic courses through them like the blood in their veins. Violet's power was bursting to get out. It was as if her body, the vessel for her magic, was made of plastic wrap. It was holding it in but the magic was violently moving around, finding weak points. 
"Dorothy, you're not in Kansas any more." He said as he shook his head. "But... I know what's up. In short your vessel, or your body in this case, it's like it isn't a solid form. Maybe it's a Skinwalker thing... all that transmogrification and changing of mass... I think you can fix it though."

"What do you mean 'it isn't a solid form'?" Violet asked, a growl crept into her questioning tone. "I don't like the idea that you're going to 'fix me'. I'm supposed to shapeshift. If you take that from me..." Her top lip curled as her eyes bore into him.
"I meant I know how to fix you... well, maybe." Vincent rubbed his forehead. "Look, I know how to do it, probably, but you need to do the work. This isn't a physical problem. I mean your body is still there, you're not a bag of jello. I'm talking about the non physical container for your magic. Normally this is something that sort of just works on it's own. This is almost like... well like you've transformed. Your magic doesn't know where to go so you need to re-establish the link. I can help you, but in the end you'll be the one doing all the legwork."
"Half of what you said just went over my head," Violet rubbed her temples, and relented, "So just tell me what you want me to do and i'll do it."
"I can't promise it will work." Vincent said. "When you shift you have to focus on the form, right? But when you return to normal you don't have to focus, becaus you're just you. Well right now that form is all cracked and battered, and it's not holding. So you need to focus, like you would when you shift, but focus on being you. I mean it makes sense in theory but... I don't know if you could do it instantly. It might take time, and that's if I'm even right."
"I'm not me?" Violet looked down at her hands, "I'm... my body, my own body, isn't my body? I have to consciously... become myself?" Violet's face screwed up. It looked as though she was fighting between the urge to cry and the instinct to lash out. 
"You look fine to me." Vincent replied. "I'm not a shifter though, and I'm working purely on my theoretical knowledge. I studied the art because... well because it's what you do. But I've never actually shifted, so I don't know." Vincent sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Violet... I can't spend too much time on this right now. I want to, I really do. But...  the other week when I went to Lucia's mansion... she almost killed me. No, actually she could have killed me. But instead she made a bargain with me. She gave me the book and in return I had to do a job for her. That's what I'm doing tonight."
Dark eyes burned into Vincent. Violet stood up and smashed her fist against the invisible barrier she was trapped inside, "YOU LET ME OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW, VINCENT HALLOW!!" She yelled at the top of her lungs, and in a flash she'd turned into a leopard. The big cat gouged at the barrier to no effect and quickly paced back and forth within the confines of the circle before shifting back into Violet. She stood there for a few seconds as a look of confusion washed over her, "That was weird..." She muttered, but eventually refocused on Vincent, "Let me out of here, you stupid man. Right now." She growled, pressing her palms against the barrier. "Don't make me force my way out."
Vincent, more out of fear than conscious effort, lowered the barrier of the circle, and then braced himself, whilst having vivid flashbacks of the time he had turned her skin blue. It was surprising how similar this scene was.
Though her shoulder hit Vincent as she walked out, knocking him aside, Violet didn't attack him. She walked out into the hall, straightened her collar and swept back her long raven hair before pushing her hands into the pockets of her jacket, "Well?" She snarled, and marched down the hall, leaving Vincent standing in her bomb-hit hotel room. She was going to have to leave housekeeping another generous tip.
"Uh... what just happened?" Vincent asked, before realising there was nobody there to actually answer him. Then he ran off after Violet. "Wait! I need to rent a tux!"
"I don't know." Violet answered, as she heard Vincent catch up to her. "But when I shifted, it felt different, but... I don't know, I feel like i'm a little more in control, now... still kind of feel like Superman after sipping a Kryptonite cappuccino - but at least i'm not coming apart at the seams any more." Then she added, "Thanks." And punched him on the shoulder. Maybe it was meant playfully, but she knocked Vincent into the corridor's wall. "So, vampires?"

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"Vampires, indeed." Vincent said. He and Violet were now stood outside Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, also known as LACE. Vincent was dressed in a black tuxedo, a rental. His hair was tied back in a ponytail and, for once, his cane sort of matched his outfit. It was a real shame that he didn't suit the ensemble at all in that case. He was a little too tall and skinny to be looking particularly sharp but he would look just fine for appearances sake. After all he was only getting dressed up because he had been instructed to do so. Violet was wearing a pair of black jeans, boots and a slim-fitting crimson blouse with the brown jacket she practically lived in. 


"Lucia is inside. Other than that I don't know what to expect. This is a social gathering, there'll be mortals so she will probably play nice." Vincent explained. "Also, technically I was formally invited here by her, with you as my plus 1. That should mean we are awarded rights of hospitality under the accords. She can't harm us as long as we behave, and she must do all in her power to prevent any other guests from harming us. All the same, it's best to stay sharp. It wouldn't be the first time someone broke the rules."

"Well I won't be the first to break any, but if they start something..." Violet said. 

"Let's just get inside." Vincent replied.


They stepped up to the door and there names were checked against a list by the bouncer. He sent them through and they walked inside, passing through the main reception and in to a large square room filled with people. The walls were completely white and paintings were fixed across the walls. The people were drinking champagne and mingling, probably discussing the art work, their high class lifestyles and exchanging notes on how best to maximise their pompous assholery. A few people exchanged glances at Vincent, as if they could simply sense that he did not belong there. Before he could get a good look around a woman in a white cocktail dress, with dark brown hair styled in thick curls, placed her arm on his shoulder quite possessively and leaned in towards his ear. "Vincent." She purred before giving him a soft peck on the cheek. "I'm so glad you could come, darling."


"Lucia." Vincent replied, without any inflection in his voice. "What the hell is this?"

"I'm hosting this gathering." Lucia explained, "It's better that we meet in a public place. This kind of work attracts all sorts of attention, and I don't need anyone thinking you're working for me."

"A phone call would have been just fine." Vincent said. 

"Perhaps, but I wanted you here." Lucia said confidently. "And I get what I want." Her eyes slowly moved over Violet, and there was a flicker of something wary in her gaze, like a predator who had spotted a rival. "And you brought your lovely sister, excellent." She said with a soft smirk. "How are you dear?"

"Impatient." Violet replied, her face stern.


"Delightful as ever." Lucia said, showing amusement.

"Cut the shit, Lucia." Vincent growled. "Why are we here?"

"To meet your partner, of course." Lucia replied. 

"Parter? You didn't say anything about-"

"I'm saying it now, child." Lucia said, cutting him off. "Come, we'll discuss the plan when we're all together."


Lucia led Vincent and Violet away from the crowds. Vincent noticed the eyes following him, and realised that many of the guests were vampires of Lucia's brood. They were watching him to make sure he didn't pull a fast one. He had already underestimated Lucia once, and he had no intention of doing so again. They moved from the main room and in to a closed off area, where they were finally alone. They stood silently for a moment, until Vincent grew impatient. "Well?" he asked. Instead of a verbal response from Lucia, Vincent was instead immediately alerted to a sudden presence. A young woman had materialised out of thin air, standing with them as if she had been there all the time. A veil? He hadn't even had the slightest idea the woman had been there. She was skinny but attractive, although very young, definitely below the legal drinking age. 


She wasn't dressed like the others at the event. Instead she wore a pair of black knee high boots and fishnet stockings. She had a tartan miniskirt and wore a black leather jacket, with a tight fitted, white T-shirt underneath, and she wore a silver chain around her neck with a little blue amulet attached to it. Her eyes were a light blue, and her hair was entirely white, cut in a short punky style. The white hair wasn't a particularly alarming tip off, or at least it wouldn't have been if it hadn't been for the perfect veil she had been casting. He had only known one such creature that could pull of something that flawless. 


"Faerie!" He snarled as if speaking a profanity.

"Half, actually." The young woman replied, her voice light and energetic, and with an eagerness to it. 

"Great." Violet let out a sigh and rested back on her heels.


"I don't work with Faeries." Vincent said, looking at Lucia for an explanation. 

"She's a changeling dear. She can't help her lineage any more than you can." Lucia said with another smirk. "Besides, you don't have a choice. You owe me."

"You don't get it." Vincent replied. "I don't get along with Faeries, especially the ones from Winter. And her white hair...well that's a characteristic of Winter Sidhe."

"Um..." The girl seemed a little nervous, which struck Vincent as strange. "I'm not with Winter...I mean, well, my mother is, obviously. I, name is Meredith."

"I don't give a shit." Vincent replied coldly. "Faeries are devious, and Winter are the most devious. And you're a changeling, which means you even have the ability to straight up lie to me. There is no way I'm buying even a word that comes from your mouth." He glared at Meredith, angry just at the sight of her. Her own blue eyes gazed back at him, but she didn't have that cold and confident gaze he had seen on so many Sidhe. She looked...a little frightened. 


"Vincent." Lucia said with a tone of authority. "You will work with Meredith. She is required in order for our task to proceed. You will need her veils."

"I can veil just fine on my own." Vincent bit back. "And Violet is my partner, you know what she can do. We don't need this...menace." He noticed the flinch Meredith had made as he had said the word. She looked genuinely hurt by his words. But he'd seen how convincing the act of a Faerie was before. He had suffered greatly for trusting it, and he wouldn't do so again. 

"You think your veil will hold up against the House of Dracul?" Lucia asked. Vincent just froze. 


The House of Dracul were also vampires. However they were not like Lucia, they were far worse. The progenitor species that had created the contagion that spread and became the vampires of the Midnight Court. They were nasty creatures of The Void, horrible monsters hiding behind glamours of human form. They were unbelievably strong and fast, and had a range of magical abilities that seemed to advance with their age. Most commonly was that their saliva was like a powerful narcotic, and it's contact on your skin could send you in to a euphoric haze. Not to mention they didn't have any weakness to garlic or wooden stakes. The only metal that could cut them deep was silver. They were seriously bad news. 


"Dhampir." Vincent said finally, turning his gaze to Violet.

"Dracul?" Violet repeated, "As in...?" She rolled her eyes and let out a noise that meant something along the lines of 'that better be a joke'.

"Oh I assure you, Vlad is still alive and well." Lucia said in amusement. "Unlike his son, the one you would know as Impaler, or Tepes."

"Lucia, what the fuck is going on?" Vincent asked. "Midnight and Dracul are allies. Why do you have beef with them?"


"Oh don't be so vulgar, child." Lucia said dismissively. "The House of Dracul are our trusted allies. Fear not, Vlad is well hidden in Europe somewhere. I only wish you to take care of a single cell. This group have...overstepped."

"I'm going to need a little more than that." Vincent said. 

"I cannot openly confront member of The House of Dracul." Lucia said simply. "But both of our families have lived this long through deception and subterfuge. You are my secret weapon in this case."

"Great." Vincent replied with a sigh. "So what's the job?"


"Retrieval." Meredith cut in, eagerly trying to seem helpful. "It's my job to get you in. It's your job to get us there."

"Uh...what?" Vincent asked. 

" know the Ways, right?" Meredith asked. Vincent sighed. The Ways was a term referring to the points where The Fae and the mortal world were connected. If you knew where the points led to you could potentially move very quickly across the earth. Hell if he wanted to Vincent could be in Paris in about 30 minutes. There was a slight problem with that though. 

"I am not going in to The Fae." Vincent said. 


"It's fine, I can veil you, keep you safe." Meredith assured. "Besides we need to go to the Wylds, the other kingdoms cannot go there unless they relinquish their loyalty. That's why I'm helping...I left Winter a long time ago. I'm a Wyldfae."

"So you're Wyldfae now? A minute ago you were trying to assure me you weren't all that different from human." Vincent said darkly. "Just what is your game here? What do you gain from all of this?"

"Um..." Meredith replied hesitantly, but before she could say more Lucia had stepped in. 


"Enough, child." She snapped. "All you must concern yourself with is to go to the Wylds, find these Dhampir and retrieve that which they have stolen. They were helped by some...sneak. They have taken a valuable treasure of mine, one that is most dangerous in their hands."

"If they got in to The Fae then I'm guessing they have help on the inside. Fuckin' Faeries..." Vincent shook his head. "What have they taken?"

"It's a Chronoweaver. One of the last still intact." Lucia replied. "The artefact can only be used in The Fae, and only at certain times of the year. That is...the change of the seasons."

"Winter to Spring." Vincent said with a nod. "I know what it is. It's the same power the Queens can use, it allows them to shift the passage of time in The Fae."


"Indeed." Lucia said with a nod. "And Spring could begin any time within the next few days. They could use the Chronoweaver to make thousands of years pass in but a heartbeat for them, if they so desired. That kind of power, it is troublesome in the wrong hands. Dhampir grow stronger with age. If they do this...they could surpass Vlad himself. It could spark a war that would turn this world upside down."

"This is...just not my day." Vincent said with a sigh. "So where'd they enter? The sooner we do this the better."

"All I know is they entered from L.A." Lucia replied. "You best get to doing that detective work you seem so keen on."

"Great." Vincent shook his head. He turned to Meredith and held out his hand. "Phone." he demanded. She obliged him and he typed his own cell phone number in to the phone. "Alright, now get lost. I'll call you when I'm ready to go to The Fae."


"But..." Meredith said nervously. 

"Stay out of my way." Vincent snapped. "I don't need you for this, got it?"

"Ye-yeah...okay." Meredith said apprehensively. "I'll go..." she added, and then she disappeared just as quickly as she had appeared. Lucia looked to Vincent expectantly and he held his hands up. 

"Yeah, yeah, I'm gone." Vincent said exasperatedly. He nodded at Violent and the pair of them left LACE and stopped outside in the street. Vincent felt the cool breeze as they stepped outside, and missed the warmth and cover of his duster.


"Alright." Vincent said. "I want to go home and change. Then we can grab a coffee and start hitting the streets. Dhampir have a pretty noticeable stink, and they stockpile their food. Can you check with L.A.P.D and find out if there has been any missing persons in a clustered area recently? If we can get a starting point we can probably track them back to whichever Way they are coming in from." he said it quite calmly, but inside he was absolutely terrified.He didn't know which was scaring him more, the thought of facing Dhampir, or of getting found by a bunch of pissed off Faeries. "That is...if you're still game. This is a pretty fucked up situation." 

"It's always a fucked up situation." Violet replied, raising an eyebrow. "I'll check in with the L.A.P.D., you can do what you do best. Go find some trouble."


"All right." Vincent said. "I'll call you." and then he walked off down the street in the general direction of his apartment. 

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On the corner of 1st and Main, Violet stood looking up at a large building that looked as though it was made almost entirely from glass. It was no surprise that the L.A.P.D.'s headquarters was often called 'The Glass House'. She crossed the road, making her way there. Seeing the officers come and go, and the general vibe of the building made her feel both comfortable and nostalgic. She hadn't been back here for months. Not since she'd taken a leave of absence. Violet walked up the steps to the building and opened one of the large double doors and stepped inside. Little had changed. The receptionist at the desk smiled at her as she stepped in and gave a little nod, which she returned and walked past a row of people awaiting processing, sat handcuffed to a seat on her right.


It was a busy day, everyone wore tense expressions. Like they were all thinking the same thing, but afraid to say it. The officers she walked past were absorbed in case files, barely noticing her. She walked into the back offices. She'd really only come here to see one person, anyway, she just had to find him. If he was even in right now.

"Hallow!" She heard the gruff voice bark her name and she smiled, turning to see her Captain.

"Hey Cap'," Violet replied, smiling.

Captain Dolores Adler was an imposing woman. She was tall, lithe but she carried herself confidently. She had a choppy blonde bob and bright blue eyes. She was attractive, buxom but she hid her attraction behind a veil of loose-fitting suits and a lack of sleep that showed on her face.

"Get in my office, now." Captain Adler demanded, in reply, and walked into her office, waiting expectantly.


Violet walked in, looking around the office as she did so before sitting down in front of her Captain's desk. Adler walked around and sat behind it, studying Violet for a few uninterrupted seconds before clearing her throat and smiling, "It's good to see you in." 

"Thanks, but i'm not really back." She replied. That soured the expression on Adler's face.

"I see..." Adler licked the inside of her teeth as she played with the pen on her desk. "Y'know its been months? How long are you gonna take?"
"I don't know, i'm just not ready to go back to it, Captain. Not yet."
"It wasn't your fault." Adler jammed her forefinger on the desk with a dull thud, punctuating her statement. 

"I'm..." Violet paused, images flashing before her eyes. Tears threatened to spill in the corners of her eyes but she forced them back and sighed, "I don't know. Maybe it wasn't, but i'm just not ready to come back yet." She paused as she remembered the reason she'd come in. "Is James here?" She asked.


Adler smiled, nodding her head slowly, "He's, well he's out right now but I know he's coming back into the station shortly, you can wait at his desk if you want?"
"Yeah." Violet stood up and started to walk out.
"Don't take too much longer. We all miss you, James most of all." 
Violet paused in the doorway and nodded back at her Captain silently. She walked out and let out a deep breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding and made her way to James' desk. It was meticulous as always. Papers neatly organized, everything was clean and orderly. There was a definitive statement about who this person was and how they operated based on this little space. There were no pictures of friends or family, no keepsakes. No little knick-knacks. Just the case files, reports, neatly filed. A well-kept computer, free of dust and dirt. A lamp, and a plain coffee mug, half-full of cold coffee. No doubt abandoned when he had to be called out.


She sat at his desk and started flicking through the files of his recent cases. Homicide, homicide, triple homicide. Rape and double homicide. Nothing unusual, at least on first glance. But these files all had something strange about them. One victim had had their heart torn clean out of their chest. Another person had been drained of blood. One person had been beheaded and the spinal fluid was missing. Violet shuddered, nothing had changed. The world of monsters and magic was just as present here as it always had been. She wasn't surprised to find that James had taken all these cases under his wing. He embraced magic better than she ever had during her time with the force.


There was a reason for that, though. James was a familiar. A spirit bound to the mortal realm by a pact. He could remain, for as long as his master - the one who had summoned him and formed a contract - retained him. It had been many years since she had summoned James, and their relationship had changed much since those early days. She didn't give him commands any more, they were friends. Partners. And a partner that knows how to approach and deal with the supernatural is a rare and precious thing. She had only been sat at James' desk for a half hour, reviewing his cases, when she heard a knock. She turned to see James standing there with a toothy grin on his face.
"Am I interrupting something?" His grin widened and it spread to Violet infectiously. 

"James!" She grinned, throwing the case back on his desk. "I didn't hear you come in." She stood up and they hugged, "You look well." She added, assessing him. James was tall, very slim and tanned. He had an angular, handsome face with dark brown eyes. His dark brown hair was styled and slicked back and he wore a black, tailored suit. It looked expensive. His badge was open and tucked into his jacket's breast pocket. 


"Don't I always?" He glanced at his case files, "Anything take your fancy?" He asked, expectantly. 
"I'm sorry James, I--" Violet began.

"--it's fine." James cut her off, but he was clearly upset. He leaned over and picked up the files. "So what are you doing here anyway? Not just catching up with old friends, I take it?" 
"I wish it was just that." Violet replied, "I'm here because I need to know if you've had any missing persons reports? It would have been recent, probably a large number. It would have to be in a concentrated area, too."

"How many we talking here? Three or four?" James asked, picking up his files.

"--dozen." Violet added.

James couldn't hide the surprise on his face. "Three or four dozen?!" He said, trying to whisper but it coming out too loud.

"Probably." Violet nodded, "We're not dealing with a single individual here, and we're probably going to be dealing with a group that has little regard for the law. If you go sniffing around there you're as likely to become a case file yourself." James was staring down at his files in silence. 

"What is it?" Violet asked. James gave her a look.

"This--" He replied, his face was grim. He leant past her, and opened the bottom drawer of his desk and handed her a file. She glanced at James before opening it. Some files sound strange, or even difficult to believe. This report, however, was on a whole other level. There had been a steady flow of missing persons coming from Skid Row. That wasn't too unusual, it was one of the most dangerous areas of L.A. A well known danger zone, for tourists, or anyone really. Even the police are hesitant to patrol that stretch. But according to the reports, there had been several dozen more missing persons in the past two weeks. Most of them were homeless or vagrants, reported missing by their friends. Either the police wasn't taking it seriously, or didn't care, or somebody was being paid to stay quiet. 


"Wow..." Violet whistled as she looked over it, looking back up at James who gave her a weak smile. 
"If you're getting mixed up in that, Vi, you gotta be careful." James crossed his arms, examining her expression. She knew what he was doing, he was studying her to see if she'd lie to him. She didn't want to involve him, it wasn't his fight. She knew if he thought she was in danger he would refuse to leave her side. But, this time, she wasn't going to refuse. She explained what had happened, and by the time she was finished James was already grabbing his coat.

"Thanks, James." Violet smiled at him and he nodded back at her as he checked his pistol. 
"Let's go hunting." James replied with a grin, holstering his pistol and sneaking a long-bladed dagger from his desk drawer into his coat.

Violet and James marched out the front of the glass house. She called her brother, it rang a few times and he picked up. "Vincent, i'm on my way to Skid Row. Several dozen missing people have been reported in that area. I'll meet you there." She paused, "I'm bringing a friend." She added, smiling at James as they got into her car.

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Vincent entered his apartment in a hurry, closing the door behind him and then lifting his hand up somewhat carelessly, and all the candle around the room ignited at once. He removed the suit jacket and the tie from his shirt, tossing them carelessly on the floor, before kicking off the black leather shoes and making his way over to his small kitchen area, which looked more like a chemistry lab. He fixed the gas container to the Bunsen burner on his counter top, released the gas, and then with another gesture of will the flame ignited. He found a few beakers and began to rifle through his cupboards for ingredients. He found what he needed and put the potions together quickly, he didn’t have a lot of time but he’d made these ones before so he could afford to rush a little.


While they boiled he changed his clothes, swapping the rented tux for a pair of black jeans and a pair of black hiking boots. He pulled a long sleeve grey shirt over his head and cursed his overall lack of tactical clothing. When you get in a real fight, equipment can make a real difference. Sadly Kevlar vests are not cheap, although they weren’t much good against teeth and claws at any rate. He untied his hair and let it hang loose, lighting a cigarette at he waited for the potions to finish. As he exhaled the nicotine infused rush had calmed his nerves. It had also, unfortunately, made him more acutely aware of how tired he was. He hadn’t slept in almost 30 hours now.


Everything seemed to be slowly stacking against him lately. He was too tired for this right now. Not to mention what was going on with Violet. He wanted to investigate that one, perhaps look in the Grimoire, but he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be burying himself in research. Dhampir were bad news, and Faeries were really bad news. Combining the two was just…well, it didn’t bear thinking about. He had no choice but to stop this before it was too late. He was beginning to doubt that he could. Even with Violet helping him, he wasn’t cut out for the kind of fight that would come of this. The Dhampir were warriors forged in times long forgotten, and they were insanely tough to kill.


Right now would be a good time for some extra help, he thought. And just as he did, he heard a knock at his door. That was…strange. Granted he was no psychic, but he had placed ward spells around his apartment which allowed him to sense the approach of magical energy. So the only conclusion was that whoever was behind that door was mortal. He walked over and opened it, half expecting to see his grumpy landlord standing on the other side. Instead he saw a kindly looking man with blonde hair and a well-trimmed beard, dressed in the same green plaid shirt he had been wearing the previous evening, with a pair of blue jeans on and workman’s boots. David had added a long, black overcoat to his ensemble, but looked otherwise the same.


“David?†Vincent raised his eyebrow, “Uh…what are you doing here?â€

“I’ve told you enough times.†David replied with a warm smile. “I go where I am needed.†Vincent simply stared at his friend. He was never quite sure if David was a genuine psychic, or a combination of incredibly lucky and crazy, or if he really did have the G-man on his side. Although…his timing couldn’t have been more perfect. For a brief moment Vincent looked up at his ceiling, as if staring out at something far beyond it.

“Is it really so hard to believe for you?†David asked with a knowing look. Vincent shook his head and invited David inside.


“I don’t have time for the lecture about how I need Jesus in my heart right now, David.†Vincent said as he crossed the room and began to decant his potions in to three vials. One of them was a dark crimson, like blood. The other was a matte silver, like liquid metal. The third was clear like water. David eyed the vials with a discerning look and seemed to puff his chest out a bit as he inhaled.

“Are you entirely sure you should be meddling in such dark arts?†He asked.

“Alchemy?†Vincent said with a raised brow. “C’mon man, it’s not as creepy as you think. I use all natural ingredients. Frankly it’s not entirely different from making smoothies. This one even has wheatgrass in it.†He pointed as the silver potion.


“And how exactly does it benefit you?†David asked. “It looks like you melted down a bicycle chain.â€

“It’s an anti-venom for Les Voix Terribles.†Vincent said. “Dhampir saliva contains a powerful narcotic venom. It can be pretty deibilitating but you can overcome it in a pinch. The real trouble comes much later. Nightmares, cold sweats, a hunger that you can’t satiate. It’s essentially an addictive substance.â€

“Yes, I am familiar with The Terrible Kiss.†David said with a nod. “Some believe it is where the Vamprism Disease originates.â€

“Hmm, maybe.†Vincent replied. “But we have an anti-venom, so it’s all good.â€


“And the other two vials?†David asked. He never gave up, when it came to magic. Vincent felt like a naughty child trying to hide porn magazines from his overly prudish parents.

“The red one isn’t for drinking. If you ignite the contents it…well it makes bad things die very quickly. I won’t spoil the fun anymore than that.†Vincent then held up the clear one and looked David in his eyes, his expression calm and serious. “This one is just a contingency. If I get captured, if I can drink this I’ll die quickly and peacefully.â€


“Vincent…†David shook his head. “Thinking like that is dangerous. You must have faith.â€

“Oh I don’t plan on dying.†Vincent added, “I like being alive quite a lot. But I don’t plan on being tortured to death, either.â€

“Torture…†David let out a heavy sigh. “Disgusting creatures.â€

“That we agree on.†Vincent said with a wry smile. “I take it you’re coming whether I like it or not?â€


“Indeed.†David said. Vincent nodded and went over to his large wooden cupboard where he kept his various toys. He opened it and began examining the contents when David stepped forward and gave an audible murmur. “Vincent…is that a battle axe?†He asked.

“Yup.†Vincent replied, taking the large weapon out and holding it up. “Never used it actually, but you never know when things might come in handy.â€

“Like tonight for example?†David asked.

“Nah.†Vincent said as he put it back. “What I need is….this!â€


Vincent retrieved a genuine Smith & Wesson 500 revolver. The gun was huge, and incredibly powerful. What was more important about it, however, were the .50 caliber silver bullets. The revolver was a five-shot, and he only had five bullets which were already loaded in to the chamber. If he was going to fire he’d have to make it count, but if he shot true then…bye-bye vampire. He retrieved a chest-strap holster and fastened it to himself, as well as another at his belt which held a Khukuri knife. He pulled his duster over his shoulders, fastening it to cover the sight of the gun and the knife, and then he held his hands out at David. “Take what you want, If you’re coming then I want you ready.â€


“I have all I need.†David replied. Vincent assumed he had meant God was with him, but perhaps it was also in regard to the broadsword he usually took with him. Vincent picked up his cane and was almost ready to go when his phone rang. When he answered Violet explained her situation and that they were to meet at Skid Row. Vincent gave a sigh as he hung up. Skid Row was a rough area, and so even a large amount of disappearances didn’t cause much of a stir. Not to mention it’s huge homeless population. How often did L.A.P.D get reports of a hobo going missing? Something told him that there were probably far more than what the police reported.


“Skid Row.†Vincent said to David and began to explain the entire situation. When he was done David simply nodded his head, as if the whole ordeal wasn’t completely terrifying.

“Well it seems I really was needed tonight.†David said finally. “Let’s not waste any more time.â€

“Skid Row isn’t far.†Vincent said, pushing back a feeling of depression at his living situation, and then he went for the door. His hand froze as it hovered over the brass knob, and he became very still. Subtle energy coursed through him, like a shiver in the cold. It was brief but definitely present. Someone was using magic outside of his door, and they were doing it so delicately that his wards had barely picked up on it. His nostrils flared as it dawned on him. He yanked the door open and pointed his cane across it’s threshold and out in to the empty hallway.


“I told you to stay out of my way!†He barked out to the empty hallway.

“Vincent?†David asked, a little alarmed.

“I know you’re out there.†Vincent said, ignoring David. “Drop the veil or I’ll just set the whole stairway on fire for good measure.â€

“No!†The voice came from nowhere, but only a second or two afterwards Meredith phased in to existence, stood directly in front of him. “I’m sorry it’s just…I thought I could be a look out! I-I can help I-“
“I told you not to, and you did it anyway.†Vincent said, his eyes wide with anger.


“But…it’s okay I wasn’t getting in your way.†Meredith said, forcing a smile and shifting nervously. “I didn’t know where to go and I just wanted to help.â€

“Faeries…you’re so stupid!†He replied coldly. “You don’t even get it. You want me to trust you, when you do the exact opposite of what I tell you. I don’t care how much you want to help, if you can’t even follow a simple instruction then what good are you? Huh?â€

“Vincent…†David called from behind him.

“You’re just a stupid kid with your head in the clouds, you don’t even get what it means to be human. You’ve spent your whole life in The Fae and it’s written all over you. You think you’re different but you’re just not old enough yet to be a truly devious bi-“

“Vincent!†David’s voice was louder that time, and spoke with absolute authority.


Vincent turned around to see the ageing man glaring at him. It was strange to see David’s anger. He had the furious scowl of a truly righteous man, great and terrifying, but still pure and without malice or hate. That look made Vincent feel incredibly small. He turned back to Meredith, who was still standing there nervously, trying to look like she was fine but there was fear in her eyes.

“Don’t even try that…†Vincent practically muttered. “…acting is just second nature to the likes of you.â€

“Vincent…stop it!†David snapped as he came up behind him and moved him out of the way, stepping out of the threshold and putting his hand on Meredith’s shoulder in a comforting gesture.


“Young lady, are you alright?†He asked.

“Yeah…†Meredith said with a nod. “It’s okay…I mean I understand. I know…what Vincent went through, I’d feel the same.â€

“You know?†Vincent asked.

“Of course.†Meredith replied. “You escaped the Winter Queen. Everyone in The Fae knows that.â€

“Great.†Vincent said with a sigh. “Fame is not what I need right now.â€


“I don’t think they’d all recognize you. It’s just your name that’s famous.†Meredith said, trying to sound reassuring.

“Vincent, time is of the essence.†David reminded him. Vincent nodded and stepped out, closing his door behind him. “Come on then, Violet will be waiting.â€





Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the area known as Skid Row is all the tents, old shopping carts and old boxes all over the floor. Homelessness was at an all-time high and the neighbourhood wasn’t the kind you wanted to be walking through at night. Yet strangely there wasn’t much activity on this night. Funny thing about scary monsters prowling around is that, eventually, people get a sense of it. They start to keep indoors when darkness comes, sort of like faint psychic alarm bell was ringing in their heads. A few blocks in Vincent and his rag tag group spotted two figures, one of which he instantly recognized as Violet. He approached them on the street and they turned to greet the group.


“Sis.†Vincent said with a slight upward nod at Violet.

“Lord above…†David chimed in, stepping forward with an open armed gesture. “Violet...well look at you. How long has it been?â€

“Too long professor.†Violet smiled in surprise at seeing her old history professor, while James’ eyes casually drifted over the other people who had arrived. Has my brother dragged you into this as well?†She asked, grinning.

“I was guided by a higher authority than Vincent.†David said with a warm smile.


“Who’s this guy?†Vincent asked, indicating to James with his finger. “Your boyfriend?â€

James smiled, I’m here to stop you fools from getting killed. Good enough?â€

Violet rolled her eyes, “Testosterone.â€

“Let’s compare dicks later when Violet’s not here†Vincent said with a smirk. “Hers is clearly the biggest.â€

“Vincent…†David chided.


“Alright, alright!†Vincent said holding his hands up in surrender. “I won’t talk about my sister’s incredibly large penis any more.â€

“Who is this guy?†James raised an eyebrow questioningly. He looked unimpressed.

“I’m family.†Vincent replied, giving a particularly toothy smile, before clapping his hands together and rubbing them in a scheming fashion. “Okay so this is fun but we should probably get to work before a bunch of crazy Vampires become insanely powerful and plunges the world in to eternal darkness, or whatever it is Vampire Gods like to do.â€


“There is only one God, Vincent.†David replied.

“Yeah we know, David, you’ve got Jesus in your heart.†Vincent replied irritably, “But where we’re going, the G-man might not be much help.â€

“Who’s Jesus?†Meredith asked quizzically.

“Are you for real?†Vincent snapped at her, in pure disbelief.

“Kidding…†Meredith said with a smirk. “I grew up in The Fae, not the moon.â€


“Whatever.†Vincent said, turning to his sister. “Okay so let’s pull our resources. Dhampir stink like…like…well let’s just say it’s a really particular scent. Think you can pick it up and lead us somewhere? If we can retrace their steps, then I’ll be able to figure out which Way they used. I could track it but I’d need an object or some DNA, which I don’t have. “ Vincent pulled a cigarette from his carton when he was finished talking and lit it, taking a drag. 

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"You should stop smoking," Violet growled, pulling the cigarette from Vincent's mouth. "It'll be the death of you." She added, stamping it out on the ground. Well aware of the irony that they were walking into the fae world, to hunt packs of dhampir and who knows what else. "Besides," She sniffed and took a step forwards of the group, "I don't want to smell those cigarettes with a nose that has 300 million olfactory receptors compared to a human's six." Violet shifted into a large German Shepherd dog, a form she had acquired while working with the canine unit. It only took her a few seconds to distinguish the sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh and fresh blood. It was far removed from any of the background smells that vied for her attention. She surged forwards at a trot, her nose close to the ground. She led the group across half of Skid Row until at last she turned and walked down a quiet back alley and came to a stop. Violet stood before the wall in her dog form for a few seconds, trying to shift back into her human form. She was finding it difficult, like she was trying to draw herself from memory. Eventually she shifted back and shook herself uncomfortably like she was pulling on a wet jacket. "Alright," She muttered, "There." Violet pointed at the wall in front of them.


Vincent stared at the wall, tilting his head a little. It was just a wall but he could see the various subtle signs that indicated a Way, a portal in to The Fae. "It was opened recently" He said as he nodded towards the blank wall. "Bits of residual energy floating around. Shouldn't be too hard to open." He held his hand out in front of him and pressed his fingers together. He focused his will to the ends of his finger tips, followed by a snap as he clicked them together. At the same time there was a crack, followed by a screeching wail which seemed to quickly grow silent as if sucked through a vacuum. The wall had parted down the centre, and an eerie blue light shot out from it. In the rectangular threshold, there was a dark forest. The smell of damp moss filled the street and Vincent nodded his head at the newly opened Way. "You all need to go in first, it'll close once I step through."


"I can't wait." James muttered, stepping through.
"See you on the other side." Violet followed. As she stepped through to the other side, she felt a rush as though she was drawn into it. Once she was there however, it was a world apart from what she'd left. The Void was like a defective mirror. But the Fae world was something else entirely. The smells and sounds of nature were alien, but pleasant to her. She reached into her jacket and pulled out a long machete-like blade.

"I could get used to this place," James commented, looking around.
"I can think of other places i'd rather be." Violet replied, looking around cautiously as they waited for the others.


Once the others had passed through Vincent came through shortly afterwards, and the Way closed behind him with a hiss. He sniffed the air and observed his surroundings. They were in a dark but enchanting forest. He looked up at the sky, which contained far more stars and beautiful colours than the one in LA. "This forest is Centauri. You can smell the horse shit in the air. We should move quickly,  they are superb hunters and they don't like trespassers."

"There are no greater hunters than cats." James remarked haughtily.

"I wouldn't like to put it to the test, James." Violet replied quietly. They started walking, for most of the time they were in silence. Perhaps in part because many of the group were captivated by their surroundings, but more than likely it was the bloodthirsty natives that they were aware could be lurking anywhere, that kept the group reticent. "So what's the plan then, Vincent? This is more your area of expertise."


"If they have humans they will want a stronghold. Somewhere they can defend. This place might look pretty but there are plenty of nasties that would be more than happy to bag a few humans to play with." Vincent turned to Meredith as they walked. "How will your veil hold up against Centauri?" 
"On their territory?" Meredith shook her head. "I'm good but this is their home. All the subtle changes a veil makes... They'd notice."
"I was afraid of that." Vincent said grimly. "Let's keep moving. If something comes for us... don't attack. Let me do the talking. Violet can you shift and scout ahead? Something quick and hard to see?"
"Something quick and hard to see?" Violet repeated, thinking to herself. Then after a few moments of thought, it looked as though she was jumping into the air, but as she lifted from the ground, she shifted into a small green hummingbird that landed on Vincent's shoulder. Her wings lifted, buzzed for a moment to prepare herself and then she lifted into the air, hovering due to the incredible speed at which she could move her wings. She lifted off into the air just above the forest canopy and disappeared. Scouting ahead, Violet could see a strange world that looked as though much of it was forest, though it was far more diverse than anything on Earth. After flying for a few minutes, her eyes caught a plume of smoke and she zero'd in on it. As she approached she lowered herself into the forest and landed on a tree branch. 
Ahead of her the forest had opened out into a small clearing besides a little trickling stream. There was a large hut, the source of the smoke plume funnelling out of the top from a fire in the centre. A group of frightened men and women who looked pale and exhausted huddled around the fire, their arms and legs had been bound. Two people were stood outside the hut, talking. They looked human, but they were pale and there was something off about them. Dhampir aren't hard to spot for an experienced hunter, if they really look. There was no way they were human, or Fae. 
"How long will it take to be ready?" The man asked.
The woman shrugged her shoulders, brushing long blonde hair out of her face, "A few hours, maybe. We've plenty to eat until then." She added, with a toothy grin. The two Dhampir talked about what they would do when they returned to the human world. There was talk of feasts and parties, and far more unsavoury things. Violet was engrossed in their conversation.
Then something irked at her. She wasn't engrossed in their conversation at all. She wasn't even looking at them any more. Something was moving towards her, and had it not been for the animal instinct at the back of her brain telling her to fly to where she couldn't be hurt, she would have been caught. A pair of hands darted out to snatch her from the branch, but she took off into the air, and the male dhampir cursed and fled back to the hut to talk to the female. Dammit, Violet thought to herself, she shouldn't have been paying such close attention to them. Either they noticed she was out of place, or acting strangely, but they obviously must have thought her a shapeshifter. They had tried glamouring her, and it had worked for the most part, she was lucky to be alive. She flew back the way she'd come, hoping to inform the group so that she could warn them of the fact she'd been seen by the dhampir. But as she dove into the canopy and flickered through the trees towards the others, she heard a strange noise.
The sound grew louder and suddenly it was ringing in her ears. The net swooshed over her face and beak, startling her. She tried to move her wings but the net was large and heavy, but finely woven. The weight was too much and she couldnt fly any longer. She started to fall. Violet tried shifting into a larger bird. But it didn't matter her size, because as she grew larger the net only entwined around her. She shifted back into her human form as she smashed through several branches and landed roughly in the undergrowth. The tree branches and the fallen vegetation helped to cushion her fall but even so, the air was knocked from her lungs and she felt one of her ribs break. She gasped and tried to inhale, but doing so shifted her rib and she struggled to suppress a scream. Rough hands lifted her to her feet and pulled the net from her, holding her still by both arms. 
Centaurs. She looked around, and saw that the rest of her group was already surrounded by them. She had been the last hope, and she too, had become caught. James nodded to her, smiling weakly. She tried to smile back and looked at the rest of the group, and then turned her attention to the centaurs who had remained silent. She was looking for their leader, wondering what spell, if any, she could use to get them out of this. Vincent was likely thinking the same thing. Maybe there was something she could shift into to distract them, or overpower them somehow. But even a polar bear wouldn't help much against a dozen centaur. She looked to her right and saw a female centaur with long black hair and tan skin, her body a black horse from the hips down. She stared at Violet with a piercing gaze, and held a long, lethal-looking blade, ready to strike.
"Wha--" She started.
"Speak a single word of magic, wizard. We will take your head." Came a voice from amongst the other centaurs.
"We have no quarrel with you." Violet replied.
"It is we who have quarrel with you." The sound of powerful hooves hitting the rough dirt of the ground echoed, and the Centaurs parted to show their leader, a strong male with short, grey hair that was swept back, and a large scar over his left eye that was a milky white. 
"We have trespassed on your land, and brought you dishonour." Vincent stepped forward cautiously, and briefly exchanged a look with Violet. "Do you seek to reclaim your honour?" 
"With blood." The Centaur leader said along with a grave nod. "We will allow you to say your final words, mortal." 
"We have come here to track and kill those who have brought mortals to this land. Dark ones who no doubt have bargained safe passage through this wood." Vincent was trying to sound calm, but he could feel his body trembling. "You honour the hunt, do you not?" 
"Aye," the Centaur said. "I see the hunter's mark upon your party. Particularly the shapeless one." His gaze moved to Violet as he said it. "But tell me, mortal, what does your hunt offer us. The Dhampir have exchanged a portion of their bounty for safe passage. What will you offer us?" 
Vincent hesitated for a moment. The wrong answer could cause great offense and would likely result in their swift execution. "We offer you a spectacle. Allow us opportunity and we will show you the defeat of the Dhampir by our hands. Every last one." 
The Centaur considered this for a moment. He surveyed the group and that short moment felt like an eternity. Finally he nodded. "We will allow safe passage for one mortal hour. You must show us a worthy hunt. Kill them all, ensure that none remain or your own lives will be forfeit."

"Pinky swear?" James muttered. Violet shot him a look that told him to be quiet.


"They'll honour their word." Vincent said to James. "To the letter. One second past the hour and they'll come for us. Unless every vamp in this forest is dead." Vincent turned back to the Centaur. "Isn't that right?" 
The Centaur smiled and gave a swift nod. "Indeed. This isn't your first bargain with our kind, is it mortal?" 
"Not by a long shot." Vincent replied. "But our time is wasting. Leave us, as agreed." 
The Centaur did not respond, but simply made a gesture to his people and then as one they moved, thundering off back in to the darkness of the forest. But they would be watching them closely from now on.
She wasted no time, "The Dhampir are maybe ten minutes walk from here, to the north. There's two, that I can see, probably more but there was only two at the camp. They saw me, too. I don't know if they knew what I was or why I was there, but they're aware there are other things not from the Fae here, at least." Violet took a deep breath, "There's also at least a half dozen people kept in a hut, they look like they might have been there for a few days. Lot of bones and flesh lying around. It's not pleasant, let's put it that way."
"Well we can't risk letting even one of them get away." Vincent said. "We should move in two cells. I'll take David and Meredith. We can move to the camp under her veil. But if they converge on us we'll go down quickly. Can you and James stir up some trouble? If we separate them then we stand a better chance."
"Alright. I think I can figure something out." Violet grinned, cracking her knuckles with anticipation.
Out of the forest, Violet strode. The two dhampir stopped mid-sentence when they saw her. She looked at each of them in turn, smiled and then darted back into the forest. The dhampir exchanged another glance and as the male ran after Violet, the female whistled as loud as she could. As Violet was running she heard the cracking of branches as the dhampir barrelled through the forest after her, and soon she heard the sound of more footsteps. There was at least a half dozen dhampir chasing after her. Probably more back at their camp, given what they were protecting. Violet ran until she saw a clearing ahead of her, that would at least give her a little freedom of movement, especially if she had to shift into anything of size. Violet turned to see the first dhampir pull himself free of the forest foliage and stride out to meet her.
"I knew there was something off about that bird." The dhampir growled.
"Oh please, have you seen you?" Violet smirked, "You wouldn't know 'off' if you drank a pint of curdled milk."
As the dhampir roared and charged, James came in from his side and impaled the dhampir in the heart. The look of shock and pain on the dhampir's face was etched there, as Violet flew forwards and with a quick spin, she used the machete blade to part the dhampir's head from his body. The corpse turned to hot ash and charred bones that fell into a loose pile.
"Lot more are coming." Violet cleaned her blade and readied herself while James had a strange grin on his face, "What?"
"Oh, I dunno. Just like old times." James replied.
"Nostalgia later, James." Violet growled, as two more dhampir pulled themselves out into the clearing and faced them. Violet raised her weapon and readied herself, she could hear rapid footsteps approaching. They would have to deal with the dhampir, and quickly, or risk being overrun. She only hoped that Vincent was doing better on his end.

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As Violet and James lured the Dhampir out in to the open, Vincent was on the move. He walked quickly but carefully, making sure not to stray too far from David and Meredtih. There was a sensation of magical energy delicately weaving around of him, but unlike when he had created a veil, Meredith's was on another level. If he could describe his veil it was sort of like a bubble around him. This, however, was more like a fine mist. All the little fragments were working independently but together they created a complex network of illusions that masked them from view, eliminated their sound and their smell. He found himself feeling a little impressed by it. Only a little. 


"Are you sure they won't hear us?" He whispered back at Meredith as they moved closer to the camp. 

"Pretty sure." Meredith replied. "I mean...I hope so."

"Have faith." David said encouragingly. "We can prevail this night."

"I hope you're right." Vincent replied. 


They moved inside the camp and Vincent's eyes were locked on the hut. Things were stirring inside, and shadowy forms moved around the perimeter. He listened intently as a voice came from one o the shadowy figures. "Be vigilant. The darkling is trying to lure us away. She likely has allies moving upon us."

"I'd smell it if someone got close." The other replied, his voice deep, almost a snarl.

"Fool." the first hissed sharply, the voice female but harsh and raspy. "The magi can hide from our senses. They could be sneaking up on us right now and you wouldn't have a clue." The second shadow flinched, looking around as i the very mention would provoke his attackers. Vincent had been tempted to draw his revolver and blow a hole in the Dhampir's chest, but it would only alert the rest of them and send them running back to the camp. He had to give Violet more time to despatch them. 


"Okay Meredith." Vincent said in a hushed tone. "When David and I strike, you keep your veil up and move or the pends where they have the humans kept. Keep out of sight and wait or a moment to set them free. Got that?"

"Uh, yeah." Meredith replied nervously. "But what about the Chronoweaver. Do you think one of them has it."

"I don't know." Vincent said. "But they are guarding this camp so it's around here somewhere."

"We're wasting time." David interjected. "We must act."


"Right." Vincent said, trying to push back the fear. His knuckles trembled as he gripped his cane in his hand and held the other around the Khukuri at his belt, ready to draw it at a moments notice. "Okay...I'll go first. Here it goes..."


Vincent rushed forward, gathering his will. He felt a thin curtain of magical energy wash over him like a sheet as he emerged from the confines o the veil and suddenly became apparent for all to see. The Dhampir sensed his presence instantly and he held his staff out in front of him and roared "Ignus!" and a lance of brilliant flame shot from the tip of his cane, catching the deep voiced Dhampir in the chest, and he exploded in a burst of fire and ash. The other hissed and moved away from the fire and into the darkness. Vincent tried his best to follow her with the point of his cane, but she was seriously quick. 


Before he knew what was happening she was on him, her human mask had fallen and what came at him was a horrible, leather-skinned nightmare, with a gaping maw of razor sharp teeth that looked like they could chew through metal. A long arm stretched for his throat, the fingers tipped with spear-like claws. He leant backwards, narrowly avoiding the strike, tilting his body to the side and drawing the Khukuri from his belt and slashing upwards at the Dhampir's forearm. The blade cut through flesh but scraped against bone as strong as steel. With another hiss the Dhampir whipped the injured arm back and dropped low, swinging out her leg in a vicious sweep that caught Vincent and knocked him to the floor with a thump. 


He winced as pain shot up his back, and desperately raised his hand up in an effort to summon a shield barrier. He need not have. Just then David emerged from nothingness, his broadsword drawn as he let out a mighty battlecry and swung at the Dhampir. She leapt back with brilliant speed and avoided the powerful horizontal slash and then she leapt in to the air, clearing the full height of David and brought down her flaws hands. The old Professor was ready. He planted his feet firmly and brought his sword upwards in an arcing slash. 


The blade connected with her arm and this time the sharp metal cut clean through it as if she had been made of butter. The Dhampir let out a blood curdling scream of pain and surprise as she reeled back, clutching at the freshly shorn stump with her good hand. David did not wait for her to regain her composure. He strode forwards, a ruthless fury burning in his eyes. He hefted the broadsword once more, raising it over his head and bringing it down in a vertical slash on the Dhampir. The blade passed through her, as her form completely dissolved i to a thin mist and moved around him with ease. She reappeared at his back and lunged toward him. 


"David!" Vincent cried, now on his feet. He had dropped the Khukuri and was reaching in to his duster. David got the message and sprinted away from his position as Vincent drew the revolver and held it out in front of him. He squeezed on the trigger and there was an almighty bang and a flash. All sound was drowned out by a high pitched whistling noise, and his right arm was throbbing with a dull ache. When his eyes re-focused the Dhampir was lying on the ground motionless. There was a large, bloody hole in her chest and her flesh and bone was slowly eroding away, burning from the impact of the silver bullet. 


The two Dhampi were bested, but a horrible feeling crept up inside Vincent's stomach. The gun fire had been incredibly loud. There was rustling in the forest around them, sounds of things moving at rapid speed, darting through the shadows out of sight. "We've got more incoming." Vincent warned David. 

"We must persevere, Vincent." David replied, readying his broadsword. 

"Just keep your eyes peeled." Vincent said. "This isn't over."


There was a sound of scrambling from above them and they turned in time to see another Dhampir leap from the roof of the hut, this one brawny and incredibly mean looking. He let out a terrible roar as he descended upon them, and Vincent held his cane skyward and shot another bolt of flame at the creature. It connected and the fire spread over the disgusting, leathery flesh, but the Dhampir seemed unfazed. He dropped down on Vincent, and he felt a white hot pain and stumbled backwards. He felt something wet dripping down his chest and knew the vampire had managed to cut him. He didn't know how deep but he had no time to check. 


"Vincent!" David cried as he took a run at the Dhampir, but was caught in a clash with another that shot out from the bushes by the hut. Brawny went at Vincent again but the scrawny wizard went at a run, keeping his distance, pointing his cane behind him. "Ignus!" He roared and shot another lance of fire. The Dhampir took it head on and ran straight through it, completely unafected by the charring of his flesh. The creature caught him in a dump tackle and pinned him to the floor, straddling him so he couldn't move. 

"You'll pay for killing my sister, wizard?" He growled, baring his horrible sharp teeth. Saliva oozed rom his lips and thick globs fell on to Vincent's face.


The effect was instant. Vincent's pain washed away into nothingness and suddenly he could remember where he was. Ripples of sick euphoria coursed through his body, it felt wholly unnatural but at the same time he couldn't fight it. He didn't want to fight it. With every pulse he felt a powerful surge of predatory lust. He was strong, and full of need. A dark hunger washed over him, and all he could think about was taking everything he ever wanted. Screw the consequences. It didn't mattered. All that mattered was his own needs, and he was strong enough to take them from anybody he wanted. And finally came pain. Tremendous and unyielding pain, like his entire body was on fire. 


His focus came rushing back and fear was quick to follow. The Dhampir that had pinned him was no longer there. He stood up, his knees trembling weakly and he wiped cold sweat from his head with his sleeve. The revolver he had been carrying was gone, lost in the dirt somewhere. He fumbled in his pocket and retrieved the potion he had made for this occasion, and he took a swig of it's content. Better to do it now before the side-affects of the venom kicked in fully. 


He looked around to see that there were now four Dhampir nearby. Brawny was stood next to the one that had attacked David, along with two more, one with long, greasy hair, and another who was completely bald but his head was almost black with tattoos. "Well looks like Rocksteady and Bebop are here." Vincent croaked and gave a short nod towards the newcomers. "So where's the Shredder?"

"That would be me." came a light and cruel voice with a vaguely British accent. A figure dressed in a dark cowl emerged from the hut. He was dragging something heavy behind him, and as he drew closer Vincent's heart sank as he realised it was David, unconscious and covered in blood and bruises. 


"Get the fuck away from him!" Vincent snarled, chanelling his will on pure instinct. He realised a little too late that he didn't have his cane on him either. Brawny held up his cane and waved it in a taunting fashion, giving a deep chuckle. Vincent bit down in anger, his teeth grinding against each other. 

"You are outnumbered and outclassed, young man." the cowled figure said. Vincent noted the thick, oozing aura that crept from him. Dark Magic. The cowled figure was no Dhampir, he was a Warlock. 

"So you're the one who plans to use the Chronoweaver." Vincent said coldly. 

"My, my aren't you quite the well informed little worm." Cowl sneered. "Take our guest inside and tie him up with his friend. Wizard blood will sustain you or a long time if you drink sparingly."


"What about the brat?" Rocksteady asked

"She is no threat." Cowl said. "The magic she used to protect the Wizard was just an illusion. I doubt she had any real power."

Meredith? Vincent frowned and looked out in to the night. They hadn't found her, she was probably nearby, still hiding behind her veil. But what had Cowl said? She had protected him, stopped Brawny from ripping his throat out. He felt a momentary pang of guilt for having been so hard on her. Then he shook his head, now was not the time from dwindling on the past. He turned around to see that Bebop had moved right up to him, and he felt his world go black as a fist collided with the side of his jaw. 


Violet. he thought, as he felt his body limply hit the ground. You better not be dead.

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