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Hallows S2

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The nightmare began as it always had; with a victory.

Vincent Hallow stood over the charred remains of a ghoul, only vaguely humanoid in shape. His shoulder length hair blew about in an aetheric wind. His shirt was gone and his chest and arms were covered in bloody cuts, wounds given by the now dead ghoul on the floor. Vincent winced at the pain and stepped away from the corpse, he could feel fatigue tugging at him. His body was exhausted, but adrenaline had wiped out his pain for now. His body protested for him to rest, but with he opened his emerald eyes with a look of determination. He gripped on the cane in his hand, the enchanted vessel he had chosen to channel his destructive will through.

He looked to his surroundings. He was outside but it was almost completely black in all directions. He knew where he was, in a plaza outside of the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. The Hotel, a large glass pyramid, was currently reflecting the only source of light in the entire city, an eerie green glow as shadowy entities flew through the sky. The Wild Hunt; All manor of ghostly entities and predatory spirits were now prowling the skies above Las Vegas like an enormous hunting party. People were trapped in a city with no power, and in that darkness they would sow fear, and would kill all in their sight.

“Vincent!” A voice called in the darkness, and then a young woman emerged. She was in her mid 20’s with a long mane of red curls and a pale complexion. Meredith Palmer; the gifted clairvoyant who had been the beginning of this entire disaster, “Vincent! We’re too late, they worked the spell! It’s here!”
“Yeah…I can see that.” Vincent replied dryly as he looked skyward again. Then he inspected his wounds. There was a lot of blood but he didn’t think he’d hit any organs or major arteries. “We need to stop the ritual.” He turned toward the Luxor building and went to walk towards it.

“People are going to die if we don’t stop that!” Meredith cried, “I can…I can see it.”
“There’s one crazy Necromancer in that hotel with his ancient ghost buddy, and they’re about to bring all that power down and into them, and then we’re not dealing with a two bit spell-slinger and an upstart old spirit, we’re dealing with Gods. Do you understand that?” Vincent shook his head and started walking. Meredith simply watched, a helpless expression on her face.
“Then they’ll all die…” She whispered.

Just then a bright light exploded in the sky. In the center of the maelstrom of ghosts, a bright light began to go brighter and brighter. Someone was cutting through the sea of ghosts like they were made of butter, a being of light and raw energy. She raged and soared and her power burned through them like a wildfire. Meredith gasped at the spectacle, whereas Vincent only smirked and rolled is eyes.
“She’s a little hard to predict, even for spooky fortune tellers like you.” Vincent said.
“Is that…?” Meredith asked
“Violet.” Vincent said with a nod. “She’s the main event, kid. I just take care of the trash.”

He didn’t waste any more time. He strode towards the Luxor while his legs could still carry him. As he stepped into the main foyer he realized how tapped out he was. He had worked a big spell that night, and had channeled a great deal of magic through himself, he was reaching his limit. His limit would have to be enough for this next part though. As he emerged into the room he noticed that the fake Egyptian-style styling of the inner building was lit up by a glowing flame in the center of the room. The center of the room had been cleared and a magic circle had been drawn in what looked like blood. Inside the circle an ancient, ghostly form that looked so dried up, rotted and disfigured that it barely resembled a human.

Outside of the circle stood a man in a long, black coat and a wide-brimmed fedora. The man had a ponytail of dark hair and a clean-shaven face that looked gaunt and pale. “Lacroix!” Vincent barked across the room as he swaggered towards the necromancer, “Sorry, but your pet had to be put down.”
“Oh great, you’re still alive.” Lacroix replied unenthusiastically, he seemed unconcerned by Vincent’s presence. “I’m afraid you don’t look up to posing much of a threat my good man. You’re already too late anyway. Your sister might have been up to the task but…it seems she submitted to her more primal urges I fear.”

Violet’s light tore through the sky in an arc around the glass pyramid, and as she disappeared back in tot eh darkness again there was a rushing noise, followed by a crack and a boom. This seemed to drain the little colour that was left in Lacroix’s face.
“Now did she absolutely have to break the sound barrier?” Vincent said with a shrug. Then he pointed his cane at Lacroix. “Listen up you washed up sorcerer, you should probably stop underestimating me and my sister. I know you think you’re badass because you’re rockin’ the dark arts and you’re about twice my age, but you won’t beat me.”

“You?” Lacroix scoffed, “You’re just a thug. Throwing spells around with no grace, no consideration at all.”
“Is that why you kept dodging this confrontation then? Why you came at us through your agents and pawns?” Lacroix went to work a spell, but then there was another bang and he stopped in his tracks. Vincent held the pistol he had been carrying in the back of his jeans. “What is it about wizards and always/ forgetting to account for bullets?” He asked with a smirk. Lacroix fell to his knees, clutching the area around his heart. He looked up to Vincent and for the first time he looked genuinely afraid. Funny for a Necromancer to fear death so much.

As Lacroix keeled over lifelessly Vincent sighed and retrieved a carton with just 1 last cigarette. He took it out and lit it, tossing the empty carton to the floor. As he exhaled the sweet, sweet concoction of death he glanced towards the invisible barrier of the magic circle Lacroix had brought up. It was still active, and would stay that way until Lacroix finally drew his last breath. “You know…you should really hire better lackeys.” He said to the spirit inside, who was watching him with a piercing, unblinking gaze.
“Lacroix was talented enough to do my bidding and stupid enough to obey my every command. He was an excellent lacky.” The spirit said.

“So what now? In a minute this barrier is going to go down and then we’re going to tangle, right?” Vincent asked.
“Oh I expect so, Mister Hallow, was it?” The spirit replied. Despite her grotesque appearance her voice was distinctly feminine, with a well-spoken English accent. “I’m going to enjoy that very much I think. You see you’ve ruined all the work I went to. You have unraveled a great deal of planning and dedicated work.”
“I’m not too worried about what a ghost can do, even an old one like you.”
“A ghost?” The spirit asked, indicating to herself. “I am not a ghost.”

The circle’s magic finally faded and the barrier went down. Vincent brought his cane up immediately and called fire, and it shot out like a lance towards the spirit. She chuckled in amusement and faded away, only to reappear a safe distance away from the blaze. Vincent turned to face her again with another gout of fire but this time she simply moved through it and crashed into Vincent, phasing through him with that familiar, chilling sensation that seemed to rake at his very soul. However in that instant, where they had become connected, he realized the truth to her words. She was not a ghost, she was a soul. A real human soul, existing in a realm where it should not, where it could not without a vessel.

“How!?” Vincent managed to ask through gasps of air. “What are you!?”
“I think ‘who’ is a better question.” The woman said, “I think you may know my name. It is old, the last one I wore was…Morgue.”
“He died before I was even born. I know who killed him.” Vincent replied.
“Ah, I knew your magic reminded me of him.” The spirit replied. “Alphonse Blackmire, that old fool.” Vincent felt his stomach drop. The spirit knew his mentor, knew the man who had killed the dark wizard Morgue over 40 years ago. Information that was known only by a select few people. Which meant…this spirit really was that dark wizard. The dreaded Necromancer who could forcibly eject people from their bodies and take them for himself.

He had been a constant headache, popping up for centuries, far longer than his mortal life would have allowed. But by stealing the bodies he stole their youth and their power and continued on his dark crusade. Al had finally put the guy in the ground, and it was said to have been for good. The voice, however, was feminine.
“Morgue was a man.” Vincent said with a frown.
“The body I inhabited was a man, yes.” The spirit replied. “But Morgue was just one name I have held, and just one life I have lived. So many know my name and yet they know nothing of me. I am…something of a story told to children these days.”

“So why the big ritual? If you’re a body snatcher then why not just snatch a body?” Vincent asked.
“Because, dear boy, power is not something you get to take with you when you die. If I was to truly return in my original form then I would need tremendous power.”
“Which you aren’t getting any more.” Vincent said with a smirk, “Sorry.”
“I’m afraid you have only delayed the inevitable, and have forced me to find a new body in the meantime.” She said. Then she came at him. “Yours.”

He could do nothing to defend himself against the spirit as she passed inside him. The psychic assault that followed was agonizing. He brought up the mental protections he had trained with all of these years but this woman knocked them away like they were made of paper. She reached inside and gripped hold of his mind, and his soul. She did it all with an effortlessness that was absolutely terrifying. He could do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

He began to slip away. It was an endless feeling. Like time was no longer a factor. Instead he drifted in a cold darkness. He felt his thoughts and feeling peeling away layer upon layer. All of the little things that made him whole just fell away. He was no longer Vincent. He was no longer anything at all, and before long he would simply drift into nothingness, into void.

His eyes opened to an extremely bright light. He had experienced this kind of light only once before. When he had been younger, and when he had allowed his darkness to rule him, he had done just about the worst thing he has ever done, and it had nearly cost him his life. God had stepped in and saved his life. Sort of rude of him really considering Vincent was a filthy pagan and all. God had, apparently, decided to save his life not once, but twice.

The light was emanating from a man dressed in black. He wore pointed toe boots, black trousers and a black shirt, with a pointed collar and white clerical collar. The man had a stubbled beard and short, jet black hair that was combed back. He also carried a sword; the one that was currently blazing with the light of God. David Argent was not a priest, despite the collar. He was, in fact, a wanted criminal. He was a highly skilled assassin under the hire of, as far as the authorities were concerned, unknown. If you asked David, he would tell you that The Lord was his client.

His targets, of course, were a bunch of vampires and demons hiding in the guise of humans. David was not a good people, but he did not kill good people either. More importantly, he had an insane knack for showing up wherever he was needed. He was chanting scripture under his breath as he stepped closer to them. Vincent could now see that David was driving back Morgue with just the power of prayer. Vincent managed to find just enough time to find that irritating, and then he was rising to his feet. David lunged for the spirit but she shrieked and flew off, disappearing out of the foyer.

David sheathed the glowing sword and the room grew dimmer. He came over to Vincent and helped him to stand. “It seems the Lord has more work for you yet, Vincent Hallow.” David said with a distinctly southern drawl. Vincent pattered the man on the back and smirked.
“I’m still not convinced you aren’t full of shit about that but I’ll take the rescue all the same.” Vincent said with a nod of gratitude. “We need to find that thing before-“

A scream cut through the room from outside the hotel.

“Meredith!” Vincent yelled as he was suddenly going at a sprint, David trying to keep peace with him. Panic shot up through him and propelled him forwards despite the blood loss, and the fatigue. Meredith was not like him. She was a kid with power but she’d had no training. She wouldn’t last a second. By the time he emerged outside once more the sky was aglow with the energy flying around as Violet finished up her own fight. Meredith was stood alone, not far from where he had left her. She was looking right at him, and his heart was crushed as he saw the wicked grin on her face.

“No…” He breathed as he stopped a few feet from reaching her. “No…you…”
“Vincent!” David caught up to him.
“Stop her!” Vincent barked back at him. “Now!”
“It…is too late.” David said regretfully, “She has already taken the girl…you can see this.”
Vincent’s gaze focused on Meredith, and just for a moment he could see just behind her. A pale woman with raven hair was walking another Meredith away. She looked sad. He could have sworn he’d seen that woman somewhere before. Then he could only see the creature that was now inhabiting Meredith’s body.

“Well…prescient abilities, this will be useful.” She said, her English accent coming through but with Meredith’s voice. “Not a great deal of power though…she’ll take some work.”
“The girl is gone now.” David said to him. “We should do what needs to be done.”
“Shut up!” Vincent growled back at him. He was beyond angry. It just wasn’t fair. His life saved by divine intervention, and moments later his fate is passed on to an innocent woman. It hadn’t sunk in yet. It had only just happened. He wasn’t ready to accept her death. He wasn’t willing to admit that she was…gone. Not while she stood right there in front of him.

“I’ll…make you pay!” Vincent snarled. He clutched his cane and the runes etched along it cast an eerie, green glow. The air grow wild around them, and the pebbles and loose stones on the ground began to rattle and shake. He pointed his staff at her and his hands shook. It felt so wrong to point it towards that face. He screamed in rage as he called on fire with the last of his power. He took every last bit of it and put it into the blast. Light exploded from the end of his cane and bolten fire burst out and engulfed Meredith’s body.

But then all that heat and fire was sucked up by an unseen force and disappeared inside Meredith’s body as if it were no trouble at all. “Oh how disappointing….so much power is wasted on you.” The spirit said with a chuckle, “You see even with just a small amount of power like this body has…well if you knew real magic then you would be so fearsome.”
“Save me the ‘dark magic rocks’ speech.” Vincent said, gasping for breath. He had nothing left to hit her with.

“Light magic and dark magic are modern philosophies, child.” The spirit said with a wicked smirk, “Restrictions placed upon this world by cowards with no vision. Darkness is not evil, Vincent. It is a force, and what are if not beings that work forces?”
“Save it!” Vincent yelled angrily.
“Foolish child, I lived in a time before your very concept of magic was ever constructed!” She cried back, her eyes alive and energetic. “I am The Enchantress! The Legend! Morgana Le Fay!” She strode forward and reached out to Vincent. He gestured his cane toward her and she gripped it’s end in her hand. She released the energy she had taken from his own spell and sent it down the length of the cane, causing it to shatter into ash. Vincent fell back and landed hard on the asphalt. He looked up in time to see Morgana point a single finger at him, and a dark energy began to form at it’s tip. “We’ll meet again Vincent Hallow.” She said, and then Vincent’s vision went dark. Blinding pain seared through every fiber of his being, pulsing from an area on his chest, burning at his insides.

--- --- ---

Vincent sat bolt upright in the bed, gasping for breath. He winced as he opened his eyes and the light from a gap in the curtains cut into the room. The disorientation from waking from a nightmare was, unfortunately, becoming a familiarity to him. He sighed and tossed the sheets away from him and climbed out of bed. He was in one of those roadside motels that were just a single room with two beds and a bathroom. He walked into the bathroom and switched on the light. The bathroom was small but had a full size mirror on the wall.

Vincent stood in a pair of black boxer shorts. He was a pale individual with a wiry frame. His jet black hair was shoulder length but was recently trimmed and styled. He had grown a dark beard over the last two years. His body was a mess of various scars, burns and a particularly nasty looking wound at his chest that looked like black veins stretching out from a charred impact zone. Something of a love tap from the ancient sorceress who now inhabited his dreams most nights.

Vincent undressed and got into the shower. As the intensity of the nightmare began to fade, along with the bracing cold of the shower, Vincent began to feel calmer. It had been 2 years since “The Vegas Incident” and a lot had happened. The government had done their usual “freak gas leak combined with power outage sparks mass panic” routine to explain away what had happened. Vincent and his cosmically-inclined sister, Violet had continued their search for their father, and as was the way of things they had gotten into a lot of scrapes along the way. It wasn’t long before their reputation among the hunters of the supernatural began to return in a big way. That had opened some doors and had sent a few messages. They had followed promising leads and gotten a lot closer to finding their father yet had still not found him.

Vincent had also managed to admit to himself that Morgana had been right. He had spent the years training diligently in his study of magic, looking to eastern disciplines to broaden his understanding, and slowly he was discovering that magic did not have quite as many rules as he thought it did. He still wasn’t convinced that dark magic was the way to go, some magic just didn’t feel right to use. Violet had been on her own path of self-discovery. It’s not like there was a rulebook for being a shapeshifting energy-eating entity of the cosmos.

One thing was certain, every creature that had ever learned of what Violet was, no matter how powerful they were, they all paid a great deal of attention to her. Nagloshi, not the true name of her species but the only one that was pronounceable by Vincent, were apparently something of an outlier, which was a terrifying notion when the system in question consists of all manner of supernatural beings, and gods of various pantheons. Even death can’t resist her, apparently.

Vincent emerged from the bathroom and dressed himself. A pair of black boots, black jeans, and a grey t-shirt with a Stone Roses graphic on it. He picked up a pair of sunglasses off the table along with his wallet, keys and his cigarettes, and then he headed out of the door. The Californian sunshine was bright and sunny. The motel was on the roadside out in the Hollywood Hills. The city of Los Angeles lay in the valley beneath them, and just happened to be the next stop on their trip.

A black Chevrolet Impala sat in the parking space outside of the room. The car was old but has been cleaned and detailed. It was Violet’s pride and joy, and she took good care of it. Speaking of the cosmic disco ball, she was currently sat on the hood of said car eating some sort of calorific breakfast burrito. “That shit will kill you.” Vincent said as he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it.

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The White Stripes' 'Icky Thump' blared from the old radio of the black Chevrolet Impala. The L.A. sun made everything hazy. She could feel the heat like anyone, but it wasn't the stifling, airless heat she remembered as a child, before she'd been tracked down by her aunt - a cosmic being who went by 'Vael' - and had her powers drawn out by the part-time ally, part-time enemy. Since then, besides having a burning need to consume energy and matter in order to exist, her body was no longer the mortal frame she'd inhabited in her early years. She had transformed. Beneath the paper-thin 'disguise' of a human, she too was a Nagloshi, just like her aunt. A creature of the cosmos, wielding magics very different from those her brother had mastered. It might have been practical to disguise herself as human, but she was also sentimental. Sometimes it was difficult looking in the mirror and seeing a featureless, feminine body that seemed comprised of space itself, glowing white eyes, mouth and hair. She preferred seeing a girl in her late 20's, with medium-length cobalt blue hair, cut in a punk style with a shaved side. She was covered in blackwork tattoos, mostly runes, symbols and glyphs that made her look like some kind of ancient textbook.

Violet Hallow licked her lips - more a habit than wetting lips with saliva she didn't make any more - as she fished for something in the pocket of her short leather jacket. A short, thick piece of white chalk. The song continued beating drums as the vocals started, Violet bobbed her head with the beat as she began to draw lines across the tarmac with the chalk. She stood up and admired her work for a moment before pocketing the chalk and wiping her chalky hands down on her black tank top before she sat down, cross-legged, surrounded by her chalk marks.

She was sat inside a pentagram.

Strictly speaking, she had more than enough power to tear her way into another dimension. But if she did that, she'd be consuming energy to replace the stores that essentially made up her very being. And why shouldn't she use her powers? She'd-- Violet stopped herself. She thumped her fist down onto her leg until it started to hurt.
"Don't think like that, Vi, come on, girl..." She took a deep breath and focused. The pentagram would help channel her magic without drawing too much out of her reserves. Slowly, the light and heat of the sun began to die. It grew darker and darker. The song's beat slowed and warped, slowing until it sounded almost unrecognisable. The singer almost sounded like a demon growling. Birds flitting between the branches of nearby trees began to slow mid-flight.
She closed her eyes. A familiar coldness touched at her and when she opened her eyes - she saw nothing. Complete blackness.
The music had become little more than one note, stretching into infinity. White noise.

Raising a hand, she used a fraction of magic to ignite a soft luminous light source in her palm. Instantly, she saw dozens of mouths, eyes, claws, fangs, gnashing, rending and tearing, clawing over one another, feeding on one another, crashing up against the barrier her pentagram was providing.
"Mornin' all..." She raised her other hand with a half-hearted wave.
A gnarled hand smashed up against the magical barrier and then a large head came into view, mouth full of a million needle-like teeth. The other creatures cowered and moved away as it focused on her, it's eyes enormous discs, bearing down on her, a speck of light in an endless sea of blackness, writhing with all manner of dark creature.

This, was the Void.

The birthplace of monsters. The first monster, Lilith, created as an affront to God, by Lucifer. She birthed the most ancient of them, then banished them to this warping hellscape. Sometimes little more than a Void as she saw it now, and other times an endless forest, or a destroyed cityscape. The Void was as intangible and unknowable as the Nagloshi themselves. But it had it's uses.
"Asmodeus." 
"Ergh!" The monster recoiled as though physically struck. "Nobody's supposed to know that name..." It's voice was cracked, like metal nails down a blackboard, scratched out through the gaps of endless rows of teeth. 
"You mean it's not your name... Asmodeus?" Violet repeated, a wicked grin alighting her face.
"ERGGHH...." Asmodeus growled, his hand wrapped around the entirety of her protective barrier and began to squeeze. There was a wrenching, squealing sound. Like metal under pressure. Violet chuckled to herself and stood up, making Asmodeus reflexively jerk back. 
"Haha, big ol' monster, scared a little ol' me." She crossed her arms and jerked her head at him, "So, what's the story with L.A.?"
"Haven't you heard--" Asmodeus took a long, gurgling inhalation, "--City of... Angels..." He choked out a deep, resonating laugh as he batted away a snarling creature that crashed up against her barrier a moment later. "Why do you... want to know...?"
"Goin' hunting, right?!" Violet chuckled, noticing the various debris, bones and assorted junk that littered the monster's teeth.

"You said, I help you-- and you help me kill Garga... I want his turf!"
"Uh huh. So give me something to work with and I will!" Violet glanced over her shoulder, as though into nothing, "My brother's up. Best make it fast."
"--there's a, I know... if you just give me more--"
"Nope!" Violet let her arms fall by her side, and then she took one boot-clad foot, and scuffed out one of the pentagram lines. It happened all in the space of a couple of seconds. An otherworldly cacophony of screams, screeches, roars, hisses and other noise penetrated her protective barrier and just like that it shattered under the assault of Asmodeus' grip. The creature lurched forwards to grab her, as did the mass of claws, eyes and fangs. Violet lifted from the ground, hovering a few feet above and then her skin began to peel away like it was being burnt. Beneath it, the glowing form of her true body. Several of the creatures reacted on sight and fled, Asmodeus roared in defiance but she opened her mouth and screeched. The light from her body grew brighter and brighter, blinding everything, forcing them to recoil. Asmodeus screamed and dug his claws into the ground.
"I've served you for 4 months!" Asmodeus' deep, resonating voice was gone. He was screeching for help, raking at the mass of monsters around him, trying to find purchase.

"But i'm hungry?" Violet's voice was ethereal now, humming with power as light shone from her eyes and mouth. Asmodeus' screams turned into gurgling, guttural noise as his body was drawn of all energy, matter and magic. He collapsed to the ground, a grey shell and the mass of monsters turned their attention on the withering, old beast and tore him apart. Then Violet quickly withdrew from the Void.

Light rushed back into her space, she felt the warmth of the sun and heard the music warping back up to speed, and the birds slowly resumed their flight. She had barely enough time to regenerate her fragile human 'skin' and hop onto the hood of her car before she saw her brother emerge from the motel. She reached over and picked up one of the two breakfast burritos, unwrapped it and took a big bite, even though she wasn't all that hungry now.
"Hey, you want this?" Violet asked, lifting up the second burrito, "If you don't take it, i'm basically gonna eat it too, y'know."
"Fine." Vincent said and she tossed him over the spare. He unwrapped it as he puffed away on his cigarette, and then took a single bite, followed by another, then a pause for consideration. "Damn it..." He grumbled with his mouth still half full of food. He swallowed. "It's good...which means it's probably really bad."

"But who cares right, ya only live once--" She took a bite, then while her mouth was still full and chewing she added, "--y'know, unless-- you're like--" She took another bite and continued talking while chewing, "-- like a zombie-- vampire-- ghost-- angel-- demon--" She took another bite and went to continue listing them off, but saw Vincent's pained expression. "What...?" She frowned, then to put the cherry on the cake, she stuck her food-encrusted tongue out at him, "Meeeh!!"
"A delight as always..." Vincent said as he turned his gaze away from Violet's gross tongue and instead looked out to the horizon. "Ugh, I hate LA. Bunch of posers and wannabes make their way here to become a star, only to get scooped up by a bunch of blood sucking vampires." He shook his head in disapproval. "And then there's the actual vampires."
"Haha! Ha! --sick wordplay." Violet snorted and stuffed the last of her burrito into her mouth and swallowed. "You're gonna have to like--" She picked at her teeth, "--say it again, y'know--- when the cameras are rollin'." She got something between her fingers, rolled it back and forth, smirked to herself, then looked up and flicked it at Vincent. "We goin' then?"

"No time like the present." Vincent replied, "Let's load up our shit on the car and get a move on."
"Eeehh..." Violet groaned and swept her hand back through the air dismissively. A dozen or so items flew through the air from their motel room or the hood of the car and flung themselves in the back. The trunk popped and took a few more items, including weapons, stakes and all manner of relics, and then covered itself with a blanket and then closed the trunk once more. "See, so much better..." She looked to her brother to share in her pride.
"Y'know one of these days I expect old Al to pop out from behind a bush or something and hit you with the whammy for being so frivolous with your magic." Vincent said with a smirk. As he got into the car he put on a southern drawl, "Now jes because ye can use yer magic, doesn' mean ye should, darlin'"
A sour expression spread across Violet's face as she remembered their old mentor. A crotchety old coot if ever there was one. Though, his knowledge and his magic had saved them both on more than one occasion.
"Whaddaya want me to say?" Violet shrugged and slipped off the hood and got into the driver's seat. "If you've got it, flaunt it!" With Vincent in the seat beside her, she fired the engine to a roar, and they tore off down the road. "So, what's the plan here? We gonna just tear into the city and make ourselves known or what--?" She was practically yelling between the windows down, air rushing past and the sound of the engine.

"If I know Lucia then she'll know we're here not long after we enter the city." Vincent yelled back at her, "Although this is her bed time so we might have an advantage there, but if we go in guns blazing during the day we'll be tangling with mortal guards."
"Ah who cares, they're mortal, what are they gonna do, hit us with sticks or shoot projectiles at us, c'mon Vincent, it'll be easy!" Violet laughed as she put her floored it, overtaking the car ahead of them before darting back into the lane as an oncoming car rushed past. "We'll be there in no time, now!!"
"You know for a shapeshifter you're terrible at blending in!" Vincent yelled.
Violet blinked and realised, shame washed over her and she slowed right down, then rolled the windows up as the car behind them honked their horn with a prolonged press before overtaking them this time, driving on as Violet gripped onto the wheel as tightly as she dared.
"Sorry..."

"It's aright. I'm used to it." Vincent replied as he settled back in his chair and relaxed a little, "You realise that Lucia is a countess of the most powerful and far reaching vampire courts in the Western world? She is literally and figuratively the most powerful vampire in the Americas. Her mortal guards aren't going to be night club bouncers."
"... hired bodyguards?" Violet asked with a wry smile and a raised brow. But she knew. Soon, the shrub-dotted road cleared up and was replaced with symmetrical palm trees lining the streets, and buildings of all shapes and sizes. It was a busy city, full of every multi-faceted shade of person, and supernatural thing. Some, you could spot if you had a trained eye, or you knew what to look for, smell for, listen for. It was knowledge, but it was also the gift of magic. A spot of luck. Or any number of factors. Usually though, if it was up to Al? He'd have them pouring through dozens of old textbooks to find the answer. Luckily, these days, we have technology.
"Hello, Google..." Violet called out, her phone screen lit up, but nothing happened. "Hello... Google..." Nothing. "Hel-lo. Goo-gull. Hell--with--this--" She threw her phone onto the backseat. "I miss books...." She grumbled.

"Okay Google." Vincent said with a monotonous voice, pronouncing each syllable carefully. He was rewarded with a digital bleep of approval from Violet's phone.
"That's not funny." Violet muttered.
"'s not funny." The Google assistant replied, muffled by the backseat, "Try not to laugh challenges, Youtube video playlist."
Suddenly there was a deafening sound of a donkey, followed by a baby laughing, and then a loud clatter as something fell apart and then Violet managed to grab her phone and turn it off while she kept one hand on the wheel, "Alright, so do it yourself. We should figure out what to expect, these days, crews like vampires could be hiring anythin' for muscle."
"Well people like me for starters." Vincent replied, "I've run jobs for Lucia in the past, she pays well. She has an eye for talent so you could be facing all manner of sorcerers, low tier supes that can hide in plain sight like ghouls and weres. Could have some faerie muscle if she has the right contacts."
"Can't wait..." Violet nodded to herself, looking up at the rearview mirror. She saw herself, but her eyes were completely white. She blinked, and she looked normal again. She was going to have to find more time to spend in the Void. She was sure the answers she needed remained in the Void. But not now. Now, she had to focus. On her brother, on this, on their search for their father. Focus, Vi, come on. You can't... she trailed off as a glowing orb rushed down the road towards them, flew through the car, whipped around inside and about her head a few times, and then flew down the road until it vanished behind them.
"Uh..." Violet looked over at her brother who seemed not to have seen the light, "Okay then... totally normal." She added, under her breath.

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The Impala drove through Beverly Hills to take them to Lucia’s mansion and private residence. Well, one of her private residencies. This seemed like the best place to find a vampire during the day, and it was the closest place to them before heading into Los Angeles or Hollywood where she did most of her business. When they pulled up however, they slowed for the security at the large iron gate, but found that the gate had been opened and there was no one manning the guard booth nearby. Vincent gave Violet a nervous glance, and they drove into the estate itself and down the long driveway towards the mansion.

The building itself was exactly the sort of thing you would expect when you think of over-luxurious celebrity mansions. The grounds were extremely well kept, with the flowers in bloom and the hedges all neatly trimmed back. Everything looked perfectly put together, and yet Vincent already had a bad feeling. “No guard, gate open, no security walking the grounds…” Vincent folded his arms in thought as Violet parked in the driveway out by the front entrance of the mansion. “This doesn’t smell right. We were expecting extra muscle, but there’s not even a low budget fat doorman.”

"So, they're either not here and don't care who is, or..." Violet clucked her tongue as she looked around, "... Or they want us to go inside."
“That’s not Lucia’s style.” Vincent said, shaking his head, “If she wants something from you then you better believe she’ll make it seem like she’s doing you the favour. This is…” Vincent trailed off and stepped out of the car. He straightened up and looked around, lifting the sunglasses he was wearing so he could look around properly. Something just wasn’t adding up. Lucia was big on security, she would never leave her assets unattended. Vincent supposed that even for vampires it still paid to be careful, especially when you’ve been alive since the renaissance.

He paced a little on the gravel and waited for something to happen. Birds chirped. He could hear the cars passing by in the distance. The flowers gave the warm air a slightly aromatic scent and he thought he could even hear a bee buzzing away. “Little details…” He murmured to himself as he swept his gaze up and down the grounds, and then his gaze stopped on the gates back at the entrance. The last time he had been at this mansion the guard at the gate had been a big, dumb thug. He would be no trouble to most supernatural visitors, and probably a good few of the mortal community as well. He was for show, an expected measure that she kept in place because mortals of status were supposed to have security.

He breathed out a gentle murmur of power as he projected his will outwards. He felt the crunching of his boots on the gravel, and felt the solid earth underneath it. There was power there, as there always was. A deep slumbering power that existed within the earth, dormant until called upon. Commanded by his will, this energy pulsed rhythmically like a deep heartbeat, and that pulse rippled around the grounds. It was a kind of magical disruption spell, something that grounded out residual energies. The magical illusions fell.

The gate they had driven through was open because the iron bars had been blasted away from the stone housings. There were no corpses but Vincent could suddenly smell blood, and the residual smell of smoke. The flowers and hedges had been upturned and destroyed in a serious altercation. His gaze fell back to the mansion where the illusion revealed that the front door had also been blasted away and there was evidence that the fight had made it’s way inside. As Violet stepped out of the car Vincent let out a tiny groan of frustration. “It’s such a burden always being right…” He said with a resigned sigh.

"Yeah..." Violet frowned, rubbed at her eyes like she was removing sleep and then started inside the mansion, stepping over the debris of the broken entrance. "So, maybe warn a girl the next time you're gonna disrupt residual magic in the area. Feels a bit like having the air pulled from your lungs only... Everything." She shuddered. "No biggie."
“Oh I know that feeling…” Vincent replied with a smirk, “It’s a bit like the feeling of impending doom you get when your sister drives on the wrong side of the road way over the speed limit.” He raised a single eyebrow and then stepped past Violet and walked into the mansion.

Walking in to houses can be a bit weird for magical beings. Humans, somewhat shockingly, all hold a great deal of magical power even if they can’t consciously make use of it. But when people have shared thoughts and ideas, and enough people believe these things so fundamentally, it can create a kind of universal magic. Oaths, vows, promises, confessions of love, all of them held power at least in a magical sense. This was due to the universal belief in their importance by humanity. Another common belief of humanity is that a person’s home is sacred. So if you are a being with magical talent, if you enter a mortal home without permission, then you leave all of that power at the door. Not so when the house is owned by a vampire, however. Monsters don’t get a safe space, apparently.

The main lobby was one of those grandiose affairs with the twin staircases at either side leading up to a balcony floor and hallways leading off to the upper quarters. Straight ahead there was a hall leading through to an open plan kitchen area, to the right a large lounge area, to the left a dining room. The back garden had a swimming pool and, perhaps most importantly, there was an entrance to the basement through the kitchen. Basements are kind of the most important room in the house when sunlight through the windows can burn you to ash.

The white walls were covered in black scorch marks, splatters of blood and sticky ichor. Furniture was all over the place, book cases knocked over, glass shattered, ornaments toppled or broken. There had definitely been some kind of showdown. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that. They had been planning to kick the door down themselves if they had to, but that was all part of the fun and games with Lucia, a little foreplay before they got down to business. This wasn’t the work of a couple of outlier hunters looking for information though. Someone, or a whole bunch of someone’s, were gunning for Lucia.

“Help me out here, Vi.” Vincent said with a concentrated frown, “Who’s got enough magical muscle to come stomping in here and clean the place out?”
"I didn't touch them, I swear I just got here, geez!" Violet flicked her hair with mock anger and then turned and looked out at the chaos and destruction, "Although, we know a few...."
“Could be a big group of hunters?” Vincent suggested, but he didn’t seem convinced with that, “Let’s check the basement. If there’s any vamps still here then that’s where they’ll be until dusk.” Vincent withdrew the wooden steak he had retrieved before they had arrived and held it in his hand. Master of the mystic arts he may have been, but he still had a squishy mortal body and he knew how much vampires loved to play “jump scare”.

Violet clocked her brother's stake, "Is your plan to kill the remaining vampires we came here to talk to, or are you assuming it's some kind of clan war?" Vincent gave Violet a flat stare.
“Friend or foe, vamps are pretty unpredictable and if they’re hungry then…” He shrugged, “I’m not taking my chances with creatures that consider children to be a delicacy.”
"Yeah I guess that's a bit of a downer, huh?" Violet pursed her lips together, "So... what are you thinking?" She asked curiously.
“I’m thinking we need more information.” Vincent replied as they walked into the kitchen. The damage looked less extensive here but there was still signs of a struggle. Vincent found the single unassuming door that led down to the basement and tried the handle, the door opened with a click and he pushed it gently, standing back a little to see if anything decided to jump out from the darkness below. “Hello?” He called down the steps. There was no response. That didn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t anyone there though.

“Hey do you wanna go first since you don’t actually have…y’know, blood?” Vincent asked.
Violet snorted and closed the fridge - the contents of which she had been worryingly examining. "Baby." She chuckled and walked over to the doorway down to the basement, when she reached it she looked down at the darkness of the room below and paused.
"... Pssh." She took a step off the ground and shed her human form like an unnecessary jacket. Purple and white light flooded the room, naturally cast by her body.
"Alright, I'm coming down now, I'm going to start hurling laser beams if you attack me though--ARHH!!" Something tackled her to the ground, "Euch it's sticky get it off me!" Violet recoiled, she raised a hand but as the magic coursed into her palm all will to act was sapped as she realised what had clung to her, and why it was sticky. It was a little girl, no older than 13 or 14 but half-covered in blood, her hair partially matted to her face.
"Uhh....." Violet looked panicked and turned to Vincent for assistance.

“She’s old enough, check her just in case!” Vincent said urgently as he came down the stairs quickly, pulling a silver pentacle amulet out from under his T-shirt and with a murmur of power it suddenly shone with a cool light and he held it up in front of the girl. She didn’t react to it, which meant she probably wasn’t a vampire. Probably.
"Come on, put that stuff away, you're supposed to be the compassionate one here..." Violet took the girl by her palms and focused her magic. Drawing the blood from her skin, hair and garments, Violet gathered it in a sphere floating above her. With a flick of her wrist the sphere flew across the room and splattered on the far wall.
"Hey, what's your name? Violet asked. The girl had short blonde spiky hair and dark eyes. She was pale and her face was full of fright.
"Helena."

Vincent let the light fade – a light created by faith magic, which was especially effective against vampires among other things, and put his amulet away under his T-shirt again. He watched the girl carefully. She looked scared. Then again she was also clutching on to Violet in her real form, whereas most people just tended to look either awe-struck or horrified when they saw that. Which meant, Vincent began to piece together, that this little girl had likely seen far worse things. “What are you doing here, Helena?” Vincent asked, “Where are your parents?”

"I'm a grumpy wizard." Vincent replied with fake frown and then flicked a thumb back at his sister, "and this is my half sister. Her mother ate glowsticks."
"I'm a cosmic joke." Violet added with a smile.
Helena frowned in confusion as Violet stepped back and transformed back into appearing human. "So, like the grumpy wizard said, 'what happened here?'"
"Werewolves attacked." Helena said matter-of-factly. Then stood up and patted off the dust from the old, black dress she wore.

Vincent scratched at his head. “Werewolves?” He asked, “Why did they come here? Who was here? Who are your parents?”
"I don't remember, unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire." Helena cleared her throat with a soft, polite cough, "Why do werewolves ever go anywhere, look around..." She raised her hand to indicate the rest of the bloody scene.
"Great." Violet grumbled, and started stomping up the steps back up to the ground floor.

So Helena was a vampire. One that had shrugged off his faith magic like it was nothing at all. Vampires, unfortunately, became stronger and stronger the longer they lived. So that meant that Helena, despite appearing to be a child, was in fact very, very old. That confirmation alone made the hair on the back of his neck raise. Vampires were fast, strong, and were one of the few supernatural entities that adapted to modern times. Once upon a time they were only a threat if you let them get close, but with modern firearms, and modern technology, combined with their power and influence…vampires were probably the single most dangerous creatures to humanity, at least on a global scale.

The good thing was they had weaknesses. Reciting scripture, holy symbols and relics and sometimes even just the raw aura of a person’s faith could drive them back. Yet as they grew older these things became a mere annoyance, and as their connection to The Void grew stronger they would gain new abilities, their own twisted brand of magic. Oh, and their saliva was a powerful and addictive narcotic that activated on skin contact alone. So even a young vampire, a fledgling as they would call them, was quite dangerous. Helena…she was likely far deadlier.

Of course, Vincent was no slouch in that department. He may have a squishy, mortal frame but he had plenty of power. Maybe not enough to do Helena in, but enough to blow the roof off of the building, and then the glorious California sunshine would take care of the rest. No vampire, no matter how old could ever walk in the sun.

“Where’s Lucia?” Vincent asked. This was the most important question, because the answer would greatly affect whether he needed to give a shit about any of this business.
Helena watched Violet leave in frustration. She raised an eyebrow with curiosity and then her gaze fell upon Vincent and her tone became ever more dry and sardonic as she spoke.
"Well, so you see her...?" Helena raised her hands as though she were the innocent in this mystery.
“I know you blood-suckers love a bit of banter, but I wouldn’t test my patience about this.” Vincent replied, his tone calm but warning, “I don’t give a crap about what’s going on here, honestly. Tell me where she is.”

"Excuse me?!" Helena looked incensed, "Honestly, is that how you speak to people? I've done you no harm. For goodness sake, I'm covered in blood, surrounded by the disemboweled bodies of my loved ones and colleagues and while you step over their viscera, you say I 'shouldn't test your patience'?" Helena shook off the bottom of her dress. It was drenched. Blood splattered in every direction and then she sighed, "Ruined... Before I tell you where Lucia is, I want to know why you want to know where she is, what you want from her, and how you will go about getting that. Not an unreasonable request given her status, and your... Obviously combative... Nature..."

A tiny hint of a smirk appeared at the edge of Vincent’s lips. “Oh so you’re one of the ‘we’re people too’ types of vampires? The ones that try to justify their nature by comparing us to cows and pigs. A poor analogy, because cows and pigs don’t fight back, of course.” His eyes narrowed as he looked her dead in hers. “We are not allies. I’m not here for a request I am here to get something Lucia has, by any means possible. I’m not afraid to admit that what she holds is of utmost importance to me and my sister, because that admission is also a threat. I will burn you all if I have to…but if I don’t have to…well then perhaps everyone can walk away unharmed. Understand?”

Helena blinked as though she couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I'm the special attaché for Mistress Lucia, my name is Helena, I am 4, 826 years old and my favourite colour is blue and until you address me as a person, I will not acquiesce. Do whatever you like, but until you stop making assumptions and speak to me with the same respect I am showing you in spite of your behaviour then I will gladly burn just to watch with glee in the knowledge that you killed me because you couldn't be civil to someone you know nothing about..."

“Here you lure in adolescents with dreams of success and fame, you dazzle them with your exotic lifestyle, you give them drugs and alcohol and work them to the bone, get them hooked on your saliva, you make yourself so interesting so that they will come to you.” Vincent explained, “In Mexico and South America you run drug cartels, you steal children from their beds and keep them locked up in cages to be devoured at your leisure. You have entire villages that are effectively human farms. Your kind have been spreading through human society like a cancer, and you are thriving. I may not know you but I know your boss, and she is a bad lady. Believe it or not, I understand your kind quite intimately…but it’s not that you are a vampire, it’s that you are a bad person. Whatever you do, you do it for that bitch and so you don’t get basic, civil decency.”

"... I'm an administrator!" Helena barked angrily, "You idiot child!!" Her unmitigated anger was tempered somewhat by her outward appearance. "I've never killed anyone, I've never done those things, I can't help the cards I was dealt, but apparently I don't have basic rights, I'm not entitled to civility because my employer is a bad person. I'm starting to understand how easily humans rationalize violence themselves and for far less than hunger. Spit whatever venom you wish at me, human. I'm over this conversation I simply wish to get home, bathe, and put this whole thing behind me."
"What's taking so long?! I'm getting bored!!" Violet yelled down from the top of the stairs.

“Never killed anyone…yeah, didn’t you just admit to murdering your parents and draining their plasma?” Vincent shook his head. “Forget it. I already had this covered before you came along. Have fun in the basement full of your dead friends’ organs for the next…” Vincent took the phone from his pocket and checked the time on it. “Wow…8 more hours. I’m pretty sure Violet and I can stomp through at least 3 of her other buildings by then.” 

Again, she sighed. "Actually, I think you'll find what I said was, 'Unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire', I did not say anything about admitting I had murdered my parents. It took me several hundred sessions of therapy to work through that and let me remind you, of something humans like reminding us - we cannot help our thirst, and more than any other time, when we are made, we are young, we have no control, we cannot help ourselves. We are not murderers... Not... Not all of us... Anyway..." Helena trailed off into silence.

Vincent rolled his eyes and turned around and began walking back up the stairs. “Well I’ve killed a lot of things. I don’t care about whatever moral highroad you’re pitching. Your people eat my people, and I don’t like that. Help me find Lucia or I’ll just start burning all her property, which was plan A anyway so it’s fine with me.”

"I don't care what you do." Helena muttered. "It doesn't matter now. Nothing does..."
"UURRGHH!!" Violet kicked open the door to the basement and came stomping back down the stairs, "How long are you going to take with this, I've been up there about a billion years!!"
"Are you here to threaten me, too?" Helena asked with a tiredness in her voice.
Violet scowled at the vampire and then punched Vincent in the arm, "COME ON!!!" She yelled at her brother. "Why are we still here?!"

“The ultra-progressive vegan vampire has a stick up her butt because I’m not being very nice.” Vincent replied with a shrug, “Forget her, we’ve other leads we can follow. Like whoever put up that illusion outside, if there’s a practitioner cleaning up after this then they might know where Lucia is.”
Violet considered this thought for a moment, then she turned on Helena.
"Yes?" Helena asked indignantly. She tried to scream but only a hoarse cry left her lips as Violet's eyes alighted, she opened her mouth and began pulling life energy from Helena. Violet smirked.
"It was her illusion... she has... some kind of magic..." Violet gasped with joy as Helena reached out for help and fell to the floor, her skin had lost all colour.
"So much..." Violet took a sharp breath and Helena heaved out a short, sharp breath in tandem.

Vincent sent out his will reflexively, a simple spell that sent a blast of force under Violet’s feet and knocked her on her ass. “Sun’s going down…” He said in a mock calming tone. As his sister snapped back to reality and Helena gasped for breath Vincent sighed and sat down on the stairs, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed in frustration. Why couldn’t anything be simple. If there was anything more potentially dangerous than a 4’000 year old vampire it was one with a talent for the arts. Worse yet she was as stubborn as he was. This was getting them nowhere.

“Alright.” He said finally to break the silence, “Vincent Hallow, 34 years old, and I don’t have a favourite colour.  I’m a wizard, and I kill your kind when they step out of line, which is quite a lot by the way. I’m not interested in playing nice with you, but I don’t have a particular desire to harm you either. We want information, and Lucia has it. I don’t care enough about you or your kind to even begin caring whether you’re a good person or not. I want Lucia alive to get what we need, so as long as nobody pulls any shit nobody has to get hurt.” It was about as close as Vincent was likely to get to being civil. “Oh and I do hope you’ll forgive my sister, she can’t help herself, that hunger…ah you know this speech, right?”

"She was taken by the Moreau clan." Helena muttered. "A family that can transform into wolves. Lucia had been in talks with them to settle some kind of old, bad blood."
"I'm so sick of talking." Violet groaned and buried her head in her hands.
"It had been going great. We invited them here as a show of trust but we barely had them in the door before it was all blood and screams and chaos..." Helena continued, ignoring Violet's protest. Vincent leaned forward and clasped his hands together in thought.

Werewolves were not organized in the same way that vampires were. Firstly they weren’t all the same sort of creature. Some were shapeshifters who tended to live in small communities together, some were of Celtic roots and others Native American. Others were cursed humans; there was the wolfman curse that was transferred through bite and the bloodline curse humans known as Loup Garou, who transformed into large bipedal wolves on the fool moon. Of the three, Vincent felt only the Loup Garou would be effective enough to kidnap Lucia, although if the pack was large enough anything was possible.

“So we have to save the bad guy from another bad guy? Super…” Vincent grumbled and got to his feet, “Come on, we better get to work. If they’ve left any fur or blood here I can track them pretty easily.”
"Finally." Violet floated up from the ground, became vertical, and then landed with a soft tap. She looked over her shoulder at Helena as she started back up the stairs.
Helena caught her look, "Yeah..."
Violet walked up the last step and looked around at the death and destruction in the mansion. She seemed indifferent, crossing her arms and looking over the scene with a mildly bored expression until Vincent walked up. Her eyes lit up, "So, you think the perp left any DNA behind, detective?" She laughed with a snort.

If Lucia didn’t even make one of them bleed then she wasn’t nearly as tough as Vincent thought she was. “Oh I’m sure I’ll find something.” Vincent said with a smirk and then he got to work. Within 20 minutes he had gathered together some blood and fur from around the wreckage and was sat burning the fur and crushing the ashes left behind into the dried blood he had scraped into a bowl. He dumped the contents into a magic circle he had drawn on the kitchen table and sealed it closed with just a small burst of his will. In the other circle he had placed a small compass he had kept in the car.

He worked the spell he had completed thousands of times. However, spells like this had always been his favourite. It was doing something on a small scale to make something happen on a larger scale. There was something…elegant about it. Within a few moment it was done and he returned to Violet with the compass in his hand, it’s arrow pointing off in a direction that definitely wasn’t north.
“To the batmobile!” He said with a smirk and they made their way outside.

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"Super." Violet huffed and walked towards her car. "That's something at least."
"Wait!!" Helena yelled, running after them. "I need to come, as well!!"
The vampire got as far as the front door and recoiled as her bare arm dipped into sunlight and exploded into flames. The little girl-sized monster shrieked and hissed and withdrew into the shadow of the doorframe but stood there like a gargoyle. She couldn't leave. Violet glanced from Helena to her brother and shrugged.

"Oh for crying out loud." Vincent said with a sigh of frustration and walked back towards the house. He took his phone out of his pocket and opened up the contact menu before handing it to Helena. "Put your phone number in." He said briskly and folded his arms as he waited. His eyes cast over her arm which was badly burnt but healing as he watched it. He frowned slightly as if chewing on a thought and then after a moment he asked, "Are you alright?"
Helena's upper lip pulled back, more in cautious confusion than outright hatred, "I-I'm fine. My epidermis will be healed momentarily."
"Oo, la-dee-dah! Like an epidermis is such a big deal!!" Violet grumbled as she threw herself into the driver's seat. Helena handed Vincent's phone back and waited patiently.
Vincent pocketed the phone and turned for the door. "I'll call, alright?" he assured her as he walked outside. He got back in the car next to Violet and sat silently waiting.

"Is that it?" Violet asked simply. "She's obviously important to Lucia..." Violet started the car.
"Yeah and Lucia's the bad guy." Vincent reminded her, "Which makes you wonder how bad these werewolves really are, right? If we take a vampire along its going to be a fight. Unless you have any better ideas." Vincent shrugged, "I mean we could wrap her in blankets and throw her in the trunk. It'd be amusing listening to her rattle about with your crazy driving."
"Much as it'd be fun to watch werewolves and vampires tear each other apart, if Lucia knows something about our dad, i'd rather have that information. I can get a bloodbath any day of the week, come on--" The engine roared as she pulled out and drove onto the main road. They drove with the radio on for a little while. Violet looked over a couple of times but her brother was staring out the passenger-side window. She turned the radio off and it roused him enough that they caught one another's gaze before she refocused on the road.
"You okay?" Violet asked.
"I think so..." Vincent replied and shifted his shoulders uncomfortably, "Relatively speaking, anyway." He sighed and faced forward, focusing on the road ahead, "We're so close Vi, y'know?"
"We keep thinking that and it keeps not being true though, doesn't it?" She muttered back at him.
"Which is why I'm so done with all of this. It's all we've been doing for...forever. Like what do we do if we finish this? Do you have a life to go back to? I sure as hell don't..."
Violet's gaze wandered down to the hands she was using to steer the wheel, "Mm... I... don't know...." She fell silent for a while, when she spoke though, she seemed a little more chipper, "Do you think, wherever dad is... maybe he's thinking about us?"
Vincent was silent for a long time, just staring ahead of them.
"I can't compare the man I knew with the one that left..." He said finally, "Who knows. He'll be thinking about us when we find him though."
"--if, we find him." Violet corrected him. "So, what's the plan here," Violet looked over at the compass and took the next left turn, "We find out where Lucia is, smash 'em up, take Lucia, and home with dad in time for tea. Or maybe in time for a midnight snack - worst case." She forced a smirk.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend.... sometimes" Vincent said, "We could try some diplomacy for a change. Werewolves can be reasoned with, right?"
"Mmm..." Violet pursed her lips as she thought, but the answer never came. "We're here!"

Violet pulled into an old gas station in a run down part of L.A. Pulling the key from the ignition, Violet whirled the keychain in her hand a few times before it disappeared. A handy little pocket dimension for all those knick-knacks. You know, buttons, keys, demons from the 43rd floor of Hell. Useful, useful magic. She stepped out of the car and put one hand on the roof as she surveyed the apparently abandoned gas station. "Well, I don't care what it looks like, they're here..."
"Yup." Vincent said as he held up the little compass. He got out of the car and held it out, and watched as the arrow started spinning round and round in circles. "Uh...either they're directly below us or...we're surrounded."
"Vince?" Violet cautioned under her breath. She watched her brother look up and see what she was staring at. They were indeed surrounded. Violet found herself laughing. The men and women surrounding them didn't see the humour in it, in fact, it put them on high alert. But she couldn't help herself. It seemed cosmic magic didn't mean much when the whole lot of them can hear the car coming from down the road, and smell them before they ever left the vehicle.
"What d'you want?!" A voice called from the small shop of the gas station. When Violet turned to see who had spoken, the people surrounding them grew uneasy. Like they knew, she knew, where to aim for. There was an uneasy silence filling this tense moment. If she'd had any, the hairs on the back of Violet's neck would have risen.

"We're hunters on a trail." Vincent explained as he put his hands up passively and began pacing in circles on the spot to address everyone, "We need information from the vampire you're holding. Short of that what you do with her is of no concern to us. Can a bargain be put on the table?"
"Let 'em through..." The voice commanded. And that was what it was. It wasn't a request. It was expected. And just like that, the small crowd diffused and parted. Violet and Vincent started walking past them, but they were closing ranks behind them even as they went. When they reached the front of the gas station shop, they saw a woman in her 40's, sat on a rocking chair with a beer in her hand, and an old bloodhound, grey flecked on the end of it's otherwise brown muzzle.
"I'm Mordred Moreau. What information do you want from a vampire, and who the fuck are you to be asking for it?" She was a tall, muscularly-fit woman. Dressed in plaid, with the sleeves rolled up and an old pair of denim jeans that looked as though they'd seen more than a decade or two. Her hair was short, blonde and wavy and while she was attractive and youthful-in-appearance, her eyes appeared tired. Mordred moved with the fluid confidence of someone who thinks they have the upper-hand. And in many ways, she did. 

"Vincent Hallow, wizard." Vincent replied "My sister Violet and I are looking for our old man and Lucia has information that can get us there."
"And what d'we get?" Mordred asked nonchalantly taking a swig of beer and scratching at her bloodhound's ear. One of the crowd broke ranks and walked up to Mordred. She wasn't as tall or as strong as Mordred, but the crowd parted for her just the same. She had the same wavy blonde hair but it was cut short by what looked like a pair of shears. It was jagged and spiky, pointing in every which way. She said something to Mordred in hushed tones and Mordred's face softened.
"Bring it out." Mordred took another swig of beer and a few seconds later two enormous wolves appeared, each holding Lucia by one of her arms. Each wolf could have doubled as a rhino. Even Violet took a step back reflexively, she couldn't help but feel a degree of psychological fear associated with her time as a mammal. There before her was the definition of an apex predator. Lucia's arms were mangled and she was groaning in pain, but otherwise, she seemed fine. The wolves were gnashing and pulling at her arms, pushing her back down to the ground, yanking her back up or pulling her this way and that. Mordred whistled and the two rhino-sized wolves both jerked as though they'd been slapped across the ear and let go of the vampire but remained flanked at either side of her.

Vincent's expression was hard to read as he looked at Lucia's broken form. His eyes inspected her studiously. "puncture wounds..." he said as he noted the wounds all over Lucia's body, "You drained her completely..."
"What did y'expect us to do, wizard." Mordred waved her bottle at him, "We ain't got your magic. All we can do is hurt her 'til she can't heal no more and then there's not much she can do without a drink..." Mordred leaned forwards in her chair and held her bottle out to Lucia, "You want a sip?" She asking, shaking the bottle back and forth mockingly before leaning back in her chair once more. "Well go on now, wizard, ask your questions and leave us to our business..."
"Vincent Hallow." Came another voice. Lucia looked up slowly. Despite her injuries, she was a remarkable beauty, an olive-skinned and raven-haired woman who spoke with a vaguely Italian accent. While the woman was physically very weak, there was a glint of energy and confidence in her eyes. She was nowhere near broken. "...Have you come back to me, finally?"
"Guess again." Vincent replied, a hard edge to his voice, "You've let yourself go since the last time I saw you."
"Still a petulant child then..." She said, and she managed a wicked smirk. Her gaze flickered to Violet and her eyes flashed with a predatory look that was not at all to do with her Vampiric hunger, "...Hello again Violet."
"--a good boy, you are--!!" Violet stopped blowing kisses at the enormous werewolves flanking Lucia and glanced down at her, "... yo!" Violet gave a little salute, then her attention refocused on the werewolves. "Who's a good boy, i've got a treat here, I do--!!" A degree of colour returned to Lucia's face, albeit from anger. 

"Why are you here, Vincent?" Lucia asked, her tone becoming more business-like. Vincent shifted a little on the spot and eyed the present company, a little uneasy. "I need information you have about Elias Hallow, and where he's been for the past...oh, 25 years." Lucia smiled and her eyes closed as if she was savouring the moment. 
"You have something to offer then?" Lucia asked, her eyebrow raising in interest, "Such knowledge does not come cheap."
"You're dead to rights. You don't exactly come from a lofty bargaining position either right now." Vincent replied, his tone getting a little heated. 
"This...this is just a misunderstanding." Lucia said, and she genuinely didn't seem to be afraid, "This is not my end, I can assure you."
"Oh really because from where I'm standing you've finally pissed the wrong people off and getting what has been coming to you for fuck knows how many millennia."
"A misunderstanding, as I said." Lucia replied, quite calm.

"I've yet to misunderstand anything you've said." Mordred spoke up from her seat, "I've always tried to maintain healthy relationships with any who would seek it, but vampires? All y'all are a bunch o' malcontents. Living forever, amassing wealth and power." Mordred went to take a sip from her beer bottle, but it was empty. She stood up, and threw the glass bottle just in front of Lucia, shattering and spraying her with glass, "So--" Mordred continued, walking towards Vincent, "Yeh wanna know where your dad is, she can maybe tell ye that, but she also knows where my son is--" Mordred's voice cracked for the first time with a hint of parental emotion, "--don't you?!" Mordred barked her question.
Lucia kept her eyes on Mordred as the woman spoke. Her eyes were cold, and distant, but she did not interrupt her. "I do not, as I have already told you, Mordred." Lucia replied, her tone neutral.
"Wait, is that what's going on?" Vincent asked with a frown, "You're kidnapping children on this side of the border now too?"
"Mind your tongue, child." Lucia chided firmly, "There is no reason for me to conceal that boy, I gain nothing from it."

"She tells you to mind your tongue, because she uses a silver one herself!" Mordred spat on the ground in front of Lucia. "Steals children... doesn't deny it. Just tells you to mind ye manners."
"--haha! ... Vampires..." Violet interjected.
Mordred's face snarled a smile if only for a second, with a gruff snort as she paced back and forth as she thought, "She says she doesn't benefit from concealing Michael, but she knows fine well what i'd do t'her if he were here." She turned and paced back to Lucia, "Get your information, wizard, so I can finish getting mine..."

"You will not get it here, Vincent I assure you." Lucia said before Vincent could speak. "You know all too well that the road you tread on bears some secrets, ones you yourself may wish to keep."
"And what am I supposed to do about that?" Vincent asked, "You kidnapped a kid, now you're paying for it."
"Idiot child..." Lucia sighed, an impatient frown forming on her ghostly pale head, "Do you even hear yourself? Do you honestly think I would have been taken by surprise when this lot came for me in my home if I was well aware of why they'd have cause to? I have many, many enemies Vincent but these people were not one of them."

"Are you saying you were framed?" Vincent asked with an incredulous look on his face, "By who? Your list of enemies is probably 100 miles long."
"My meetings with the Moreau clan were not publicly shared. A play from someone inside the court, I assume."
"Awwwh, hogwash..." Mordred growled, crossing her arms, "Wouldn't even matter if it were, you take kids, if it weren't mine it don't matter any more. We're involved now. An' best you recognise that, even if ye think you're stronger or smarter or older than us. We'll still kill you. Because Moreau are born... not turned... our lives are short but our instincts are as old as the Earth itself."

"Wait a minute I thought you two were negotiating before?" Vincent asked. "If Lucia turns out to be telling the truth, then you're wasting your time when you could be out finding who really took him. If you got your son back in that scenario you're still killing her?" He shook his head a little, "I mean any other time I really wouldn't care if you do, but I know Lucia has the info I need, and I know she's not going to give it up here, even just out of spite because believe me she has plenty of that."
"Flatterer." Lucia said with a smirk.
"Urgh! Negotiating?!" Mordred snorted again in disbelief. Her pacing quickened, her nose curled as she spoke, "I don't care any more..." Her voice quivered in anger. A rush of anxious movement washed over the crowd surrounding Violet, Vincent and Lucia. 

Suddenly, Violet jerked forwards as though she was shoved by something. She opened her mouth to 'complain' to the werewolf behind her but when she turned, she saw immediately - he was frozen like a statue. Everyone was. Violet took a step back and instinctively turned to her brother for answers - he always was better at diagnostic magic - but Vincent was equally frozen. Everything seemed to dim, as though she had put on sunglasses.
Then, a sharp, strong, white light. No larger than an apple, but so bright it would have been dazzling to a human. Violet stared into the source of the light, and realised, it was looking back at her. Violet opened her mouth to speak, but the orb of light loosed a long, echoing screech that rose and dipped in cadence. It was speaking an ancient language. It seemed familiar, but... wrong, at the same time? No, maybe not wrong. Different... she didn't understand it, but she did? Violet's mind raced as she tried to understand what was being said. Then, there was another orb. Then another. And another. The orbs danced amongst themselves, and the shriek of the single orb, became an unpleasant symphony.
"Hey, what are you?!" Violet called out to them, but the sound barely carried. "Hey!!" She yelled, it barely registered. "What are you doing? Why are you here?!"

The orbs... scattered.

One remained.

Violet took a step back, and looked to her brother. He'd know what to do.
Stupid, Violet, really stupid! You should have told him you saw these things before, you know he'd have believed you, he's seen stranger things!
Violet shook her head and glanced back at the orb of light.

Time returned to normal. Everything resumed.

"No more!!" Mordred snapped, whirling on Lucia. Breaking into a run, Mordred leapt and transformed in an instant. From human, to an enormous brown wolf larger than either of the two flanking Lucia. Landing with a resonating 'thump', Mordred flew towards Lucia, her mouth salivating as her face contorted into a snarl as she bared her teeth and went for the killing blow.
"Mom, no!!" 
In the same moment, another, somewhat smaller brown wolf exploded from the ranks of the crowd and collided with Mordred. The two wolves snapped and growled at one another, testing each other and then like a clap of thunder, they crashed into one another. Claws and fangs were everywhere, tufts of fur flew and smacks of blood splashed the courtyard, then just as quickly as it began, it was over. Mordred lurched backwards, avoiding the swipe of the smaller wolf's clawed paw, and surged into the opening and bit at the smaller wolf's face. A painful, high-pitched yelp escaped the smaller wolf's muzzle, as though this was the first time it was genuinely injured, and Mordred recoiled in surprise and stopped as the smaller wolf transformed back into a young woman - the woman from before. She was panting, lying on the ground, wounds everywhere and partially shredded clothes.

Slowly, Mordred began to shift back into her human form. It wasn't instant as it had been for her daughter. It was... difficult. Mordred eventually stood as she had done before and fled to her daughter's side. "Are y'alright, Morag?" Mordred asked, fussing over her. "I thought i'd really--"
"It's fine..." Morag muttered, looking up. Her face was dotted with a half dozen long but shallow cuts from her mother's fangs. They were already starting to heal. The cuts became scars in a matter of moments. Morag's face was scattered with a number of shiny new trophies, but she was otherwise fine. "You just... didn't know..." Morag stood up slowly.
"You can't kill her, mom. She might know where Michael is! And Vincent, and Violet, they need her alive as well. You can't just--" Morag trailed off as something caught her eye. She looked to Violet, who seemed to stare off into space, for as long as she had been watching her. Then, Violet's pupils rolled into the back of her head as her eyes closed, and she collapsed. The last thing Violet heard, was the sound of waves, crashing in around her, and the panicked shouting she recognised as her brother's. Then darkness.

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Vincent was the first to reach Violet, and he knelt on the gravel next to her. “Violet!” he shouted every so often as he got his hand under her head and saw the bloody wound on her head. He touched at the blood to check if it was real, and it was. That could not be good news. He put his fingers to her neck and felt for a pulse. He was shocked to find one. Violet didn’t have a heart in a physical sense, she didn’t have organs at all for that matter. Yet she was bleeding, and she had a pulse. She was breathing, although it seemed a little shallow currently. She was alive, which was good…but she was mortal.

His brain was buzzing with questions, trying to puzzle it all out. He could have sworn he had felt the working of forces for only a moment earlier, but it had faded so quickly, less a pulse or a ripple and more of a blip. He had felt that interfering blip often around Violet though, and nothing had ever come of it before. Perhaps she was sick, or poisoned. Could that even be done to a Nagloshi? Had a spell been worked on her?  Had she done this to herself? So many questions rattled through his brain until it turned into frustration and he dismissed them from his mind.

“Come on Vi!” Vincent said in a tense tone as he began to lift her up off the ground to carry her. As he turned he saw Lucia being dragged away once more, probably smart to remove her from the equation just in case she tried anything. Vincent had to admit that Mordred was a smart woman who didn’t take chances. Which led him to question if she would take a chance on them. “Help me, please.” He said, it came out harsh, and not like a request.
"To do what, exactly?" Mordred asked, her tone equally harsh, but it softened when she looked down at the girl, unconscious and bleeding.

"Mother!" Morag growled.
"Ah'know!" Mordred snapped back at her daughter. Then she turned, glanced at a couple of people in the crowd, and they shot off. A few seconds later they came sprinting over, pushed Vincent gently but firmly aside, and then slid a cloth under Violet and hoisted her up like she was in a hammock. They led her away at a swift pace.
"She can stay in my bedroom for now, I'll not be sleepin' anyways..." Mordred sat back down in her chair and fished around for another beer in her cooler.

Vincent nodded his head in gratitude and walked closer to Mordred. He would get to Violet in a moment, with her blood on his fingers he would be able to track where she was. Before he left this place, before having to deal with Violet, he had to finish what they had come her for.
“Thank you.” He said as he approached, “I’m afraid I have to ask more of you though.” He tried to watch his tone this time, he’d fight this lady but he really didn’t want to, especially from this close.
"Like what?" Mordred pulled a beer from her cooler, snapped the bottlecap off and took a deep swig.

“Ten minutes alone with the vampire.” Vincent said simply.
"Morag, take Vincent to the vampire and tell the boys to leave 'em be until he comes out that cellar."
"Yes, mother." Morag walked in long strides up to Vincent and then passed him and walked around the side of the building. "Keep up, then!" Morag called over her shoulder. She stopped at the rear of the gas station where it looked like an old hurricane cellar had been built. The old doors rattled as she undid the lock from a small set of keys.
"Down there." She said simply, then as Vincent started down the steps she added, as if an afterthought, "Tell Luca and Max that mother sent you or they'll eat your face." Then she slammed shut the cellar doors and pulled out a cigarette and lit it, resting against the wall of the building as she waited.

Inside was darkness. A flickering candle at the back of the room illuminated columns of black metal bars. A makeshift cell took up the first quarter of the room at the far back. It was otherwise very dark. Lucia's form was huddled on her bed, her arms drawn in like a wounded animal. Then, a pair of yellow eyes, each the size of a plate, opened and gazed out at Vincent. Panting, growling. The growl awoke a second pair of yellow eyes. Snarling grew like a pair of rumbling chainsaws as globs of saliva splashed the dusty ground. A small groan escaped Vincent’s mouth. That was all going far too smoothly.

“Mordred sent me?” He asked at the two snarling beasts moving in the darkness.
The two enormous wolves came bounding out of the shadowy corners and barked, deafening Vincent. Snapping and barking at him, yet too afraid to do anything to him, until they pressed themselves up against the walls and sat down, panting but loosing a rumbling growl as Vincent passed them. He had faced a lot of danger over the years, he’d learned to squash his fear for the most part, he knew how to focus, and he had a whole range of magical tricks up his sleeve. Those wolves were really big though, and Vincent rationalized the gripping fear he was facing as incredibly healthy and sane. Right?

As he came further into the dark cellar he reached out with his senses to guide him. He raised his palm up and created a small, glowing magelight that he cast out ahead of him, a dim blue orb that didn’t assault his eyes with brightness in the dark. The blue light eventually stopped over Lucia, chained to the far wall in manacles that were locked in with 4 sharp pins embedded in her wrists, and one larger manacle of the same design but piercing her neck. “Kinky.” Vincent said.

“Visiting me again so soon?” Lucia asked in reply, her head raising up to look at Vincent, her dark eyes glinting under the blue light. “How is dear Violet?”
“Resting.” Vincent replied, “I don’t know what’s happened but I will find out. First I need to deal with you.” Lucia gave an open toothed smile, and her tongue lazily drifted over her sharp, little canines.
“Scions are often plagued with strange troubles.” Lucia said as if she hadn’t heard him, “Our progenitor was one.”
“A demon and a human?” Vincent asked, “Vlad Tepes, son of the dragon?”

“Oh please that was only five centuries ago.” Lucia said dismissively, “A misunderstanding of history, for it has its parallels. Our progenitor was, after all, the son of a dragon.”
“A dragon and a human?” Vincent wasn’t sure he believed that. Scion was a term often used to refer to various cross breeds of mortal and supernatural creatures. Most common were changelings, part human part fairy. Then there were half demons, demi-gods, and all sorts else. Violet technically fell in to this category, but he had a feeling that the similarities stopped there.

“I don’t need your help with Violet.” Vincent replied, “Let’s cut the crap. The only way you’ll talk is if I get you out of here, and the only way to do that is to find this missing werewolf and clear your name, assuming you’re telling the truth anyway.”
“It’s not the only way.” Lucia replied, “You could kill them all and rescue me, light a knight in shining armor, hm?”
“I think not.” Vincent said with a frown, “You know how my sister and I operate. Point me in a direction and we’ll see it done.”
“Oh you’re no fun.” Lucia said with a slight pout, “Very well. There are several in the court who are foolish enough to challenge me. However, only a handful of people knew of my dealings with the Moreau clan. Your suspects are Cassius Quint and Xiao Liang, both have the most influence within the court. Cassius Quint is a clever, sneaky little shit. Ambitious, powerful and bloodthirsty; he has a history of killing his way into authority. “

“Sounds like most vampires.” Vincent said.
“Perhaps, but do not underestimate him.” Lucia replied, “As for Xiao Liang…she is an influential member of the court, one of the few Jiangshi left, and the only one you will find outside of Asia. Her sorcery is as powerful as her martial arts, and she is especially a threat to you, wizard.”
“Yeah I know…” Vincent grumbled. Jiangshi were not like typical blood-sucking vampires. They originated from China, and were very few in number. They did not feed on blood, but instead on their victim’s qi, or their ‘life force’. Vincent called it mana, but it was all the same thing just interpreted differently. Jiangshi were fairly well documented but were not the easiest thing to take down regardless, and especially so for a wizard.

“What would motivate them to take you out? And why not do it in the open?” Vincent asked.
“Vincent…I fear you grossly underestimate who I am.” Lucia replied, “No one has yet beat me in open conflict. Our kind’s power grows with age, and those who grow more powerful are harder to kill. Without our tricks we would never overthrow the oldest of our kind.”
“So they outsmarted you?” Vincent asked
“Perhaps.” Lucia admitted, “Or perhaps I am allowing them to.”
“Why?”

“Because I like to be underestimated, Vincent.” Lucia said with a soft smile, and her eyes seemed to become glossy and hungry, “And I will continue to be underestimated if I am saved only by my powerful subordinate, the wizard Vincent Hallow, ahahaha.” Her laugh was…beautiful. That was the thing about vampires, they really were often quite flawless creatures to look at. They were beautiful, charming and very hard to resis-
“Stop it.” Vincent growled, and then he blew out a breath charged with his will, and suddenly the air was alight with a purplish smoke that was swirling around him like thick cigarette smoke. Glamour. “Still enough left in the tank for that?” He waved a hand and the exotic smoke swirled and then dissipated before him.

“I have been burned at the stake at least 40 times in my lifetime.” Lucia explained, “I have had my limbs torn from my body, I have had all of my bones broken, all of my fingers and toes, I have lost and regained this form countless times. I can endure far more than this, so do as I ask or you will not receive your reward.” Vincent didn’t have much else to say to that. His jaw clenched as he bit back the anger at being told what to do, but in the end he had gotten enough to proceed. He snuffed out the magelight with a whisper and they plunged back into the darkness, and Vincent made his way back out of the cellar.

“Morag, was it?” He asked as he climbed out of the cellar. He retrieved a carton from his pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and pocketing the carton again. “Show me to my sister if you please.”
"No." Morag growled, then pushed him back towards the cellar, "You've been asking us all these favours. Now you're gone do one for us." She shoved him down the stairs and followed, chastising Max and Luca for barking at Vincent once more.
"Lucia, we need to talk! Vincent is here as a witness." Morag crossed the room and stood in front of Lucia's cell. Lucia lifted her head once more, as if she had been in some kind of brief slumber in the short time, and a thin smirk escaped her mouth.
“So many visitors today. I am touched.” She said.
"I heard everything, but you know that." Morag pulled the small set of keys from her pocket, "I have a deal for you."

“Oh child…you really should heed your mother more.” Lucia said with a wicked grin, “What would you ask of a woman in chains then?” Vincent stayed quiet, smoking his cigarette and simply observing. Morag seemed a strong woman like her mother, but definitely lacking the experience. There was an optimism in her that was rare when you lived so long in the shadows. He remembered a time when that earnestness would have endeared him, but sadly he found himself more in agreement with Mordred, constantly assessing the danger that each individual nearby could cause him.

"You're obviously far more powerful than any one of us." Morag crossed her arms, the admission of weakness hurt her, "Many of my family and friends would die before we'd stopped you. Also, if what you say is true, we have also tortured and imprisoned you without reason, and you are at least, in this, innocent..." Morag paused for a moment, "You and my mother have never seen eye to eye but you were working towards some kind of peace and someone clearly wants to stop that. So this is my offer - I let you go, you find and return my baby brother. I will help. And when we return him, my mother will be forced to admit your innocence and we will have peace, and if not... I'll fight my mother for leadership, and I'll honour the peace. As long as you promise no repercussions."

“Have you no faith in the wizard?” Lucia asked, her brow tilted slightly in intrigue, “This is precisely the sort of work the Hallows do, after all.”
"It's not that, I just don't want you breaking free with all this power of yours and killing a bunch of my family because they didn't believe you when you said you had nothing to do with it." Morag flicked through the keys and held one up, "So...?"
“I have no need to do that.” Lucia replied simply, “You mortals never seem to understand the importance of sacrifice. Consider this pain as a price I must pay for allowing such machinations to unfold without my knowledge. That is the way of the court. The court are still responsible for the disappearance of your brother, and I am the authority which governs the court here. It is necessary that I suffer through this and forgive if our partnership is to continue. If I was to be released then there would be war between your kind and the court, and I do not like your chances, big as you are.”

“If word gets out that Lucia is free then the ones who betrayed her won’t have any reason to keep Michael alive. They’ll keep him alive as long as it keeps you chasing him, and keeping Lucia locked up in the process.” Vincent explained, he was beginning to see the bigger picture now.
“The same would apply if you managed to somehow kill me.” Lucia replied, “Good luck with that though.”
“I’d start by installing some UV lights in here.” Vincent said, and Lucia’s eyes narrowed at him. “That’ll hurt her real bad and make it harder for her to focus and work forces in here. And if you get real tired of her you can just introduce her to the sun. No vampire can walk in the sun.”
“Are you sure about that, Vincent?” Lucia asked, her eyes daring.
“You wanna be my test subject?” He replied, his tone hard.

"UV lights? Oh, sure. They're in every corner of this cellar, but I convinced my mother to leave them off." Morag laughed, "Alright, so I learned something, that was helpful. We'll see you when we get back. Come on," Morag nodded to Vincent, "Let's go see your sister."
“Finally.” Vincent said with a mock sigh of relief, “Are you sure you don’t want to turn those lights on or…?”
“Goodbye, Vincent.” Lucia growled, and it made him smirk. There was nothing more satisfying than annoying the Queen Bitch.

They left the cellar again and made their way across the gravel and down the road from the gas station.
“So what’s your clan’s story?” Vincent asked as they walked, “You’re not typical Loup Garou, their curse is dependent on the phases of the moons, it draws power from lunar energy. Never seen a shifter turn into a wolf your size before either.”
Morag gave Vincent a sideways glance, "Why you want to know?" She asked quizzically, as though it was more she was bored of talking about it, than afraid of sharing.
“I’m a wizard, I like magic.” Vincent replied, “This sort of thing is my version of stamp collecting. I like to reverse engineer the magic I come across, try to understand it. Shapeshifting is something of particular interest to me…I could tell you everything there is to know about shapeshifters, skin walkers, wolfmen, loup garou, and most other types of it.”

"Do you really want to know? Most people freak out. I think even a wizard wouldn't want to be near us." Morag grit her teeth as they walked down the road.
“Most wizards are dusty old bookworms that study magic through very private and careful research. They’re clever people who’re smart enough to avoid danger. Hallows are hunters, have been for generations. I’ve seen a lot of weird shit.” Vincent shrugged, “But you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, obviously.”

"Yeah..." Morag snorted a laugh and looked Vincent up and down, then she came to some sort of decision, "We're Hellhounds. We take souls to hell."
“Oh…so like just Hell? Or do you also swing by Hades and Tartarus?” He gave a little smirk, “Not my first encounter with an agent of death, I’m afraid.”
"That's a relief. People usually think I'm lying or they freak out like I'm going to take them to hell. It doesn't work like that. Sure, there are different forms of hell." Morag shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans, "So, what's the story with you and your sister?"

Vincent took a moment to digest how casually the young woman had just confirmed the existence of multiple afterlife realms of torture. The realms of the afterlife were a mystery even to wizards. It was the kind of thing the living just wasn’t supposed to know about.
“Like I said we’re hunters.” Vincent explained, “We’re half siblings actually. I’m just another mortal with a little more magical talent than most. Genetics, I think. Our father was a hell of a wizard apparently. Violet is…well that’s not easy to explain. Technically she’s a Scion but…if you’d asked me yesterday I would have said there was none of her mortal biology left…but apparently there is. Her kind…I don’t know a lot about them, but they’re made up of some kind of raw form of energy…it’s like some kind of…cosmic radiance. I couldn’t tell you much more than that.”

"Alright I guess..." Morag frowned but didn't further question. She reached the steps of her house and walked up onto the decking of the old cabin and opened the front door. Inside were two men sat at a table eating large bowls of cereal.
"Oh hey, Morag." A man with a thick scar through his milky right eye waved to her.
"Hey, Silus. Abraham." Morag added the other man's name. He looked up from his cereal, a man with dark hair and darker bags under his eyes. He nodded at her then went back to shoveling sugary cereal into his face.
Morag passed them and walked upstairs and down the hall to the room at the end. She opened the door and stepped to one side to let Vincent step inside. Mordred was, unsurprisingly, a minimalist. Photos of family and friends, or maybe part of her clan, lined the walls, but little else than a bed and side table. In the bed lay Violet, staring at the ceiling, very much awake but seemingly in her own thoughts.

“You’re awake.” Vincent said, sounding relieved. His gaze turned back to Morag and he nodded at her in appreciation. “So…” He turned back to his sister, “Anything you want to tell me?”
"I... Something's different. I can't... I feel weird..." Violet looked down at her hands and just stared at them.
“You’re bleeding.” Vincent explained, “And you have a pulse.” He came in to the room and sat on the edge of the bed, facing his sister. “Vi…if you don’t know what’s going on then I’ll help you figure this out. If some nasty is working forces on you I’ll find them but…” He paused to take a breath and his shoulders seem to relax a little. “Sometimes you stare at nothing, and not like you’re daydreaming, I can see your eyes focusing, but there’s nothing there. Sometimes I feel this sensation in the air…like a short buzz of electricity or something, It’s like it was there and then just as quickly it wasn’t. Nothing I know of does that, magic seems to always leave a trail. What’s going on?”

"Orbs..." She whispered, then her eyes locked with Vincent, "They did this! They took something from me!!"
“What orbs?” Vincent asked, “This is the first you’ve mentioned this.”
"I didn't want to worry you, you have so much on your shoulders, I couldn't, why couldn't I articulate this before..." Violet frowned and thought for a few seconds, "I don't feel right... I feel... Empty." Her stomach growled, "--and hungry."
“We can get you a cheeseburger later” Vincent said dismissively, “How long has this been going on? What are these orbs you’re talking about?”

"Maybe... Years. But I've only seen them a handful of times before the last few days..." Violet trailed off again as she was examining the skin on her forearm.
“Years!?” Vincent replied incredulously. “Violet you’ve been seeing orbs that no one else can see for years!? You…you idiot!” He punched his sister in the leg hard, something that felt especially gratifying since it actually stood a chance of leaving a bruise on this occasion.
"OWWuh--" Violet growled but the growl wobbled on her lips and she started crying. But she quickly became angry and pointed her open palms at them, "Get, out!" Violet's palms glowed with pink light and both Morag and Vincent were ejected from the room like debris into the vacuum of space. The door slammed shut before they could get to their feet.

Vincent slowly got up, the pain of the abrupt landing brought forth anger and frustration. He wanted to blast the damn door down and throw his sister out of the window. Instead he refocused those intense emotions, and he placed his hand upon the door. “Violet.” He said loud enough for his voice to carry through to the bedroom, “…I’m disappointed you hid this from me. I don’t care about your reasons, I’m not made of glass, and my whole life…our whole life has been nothing but chaos and turmoil. I’ve been studying all I can about Nagloshi so that I can help you and understand you, but it’s not like there’s a book on this stuff. You should have told me.”

"I don't understand any more, I need to fix this!" Violet called out. "I'm not whole!!"
“Well then talk to me or let me examine you.” Vincent said, “I can go through all the supernatural diagnostics; check your aura, chakra alignment, check for curses, hell it could be something to do with the alignment of the stars for all we know, Violet. What we don’t need is any more of this withholding bullshit that our family is so good at. We have to trust each other.”
"Shit, shit! Fine! I can't believe I'm doing this..." With a rush of air the door swung open and Violet pulled herself up in the bed and wrapped herself in the covers.

Vincent stepped inside and gave his sister a long-suffering look and rolled his eyes. “Oh grow up it’s not like I’m sticking my finger up your butt.” He said as he stepped closer to the bed. With just a small effort of will he opened his third eye. It was not a literal third eye on his head or anything, but it was the eye of his mind. Specifically it could be awakened by focusing chakra, mana, whatever you want to call it, into the brow region of the forehead. The change in his sight was immediate, and always quite intense.

With the third eye you saw the truth of all things. Some things were dark and ugly to the point that they could drive you insane, and some things were so beautiful and bright…that it could drive you insane. Violet, however, was looking decidedly normal. The energy that was radiating out of her body was nothing like the impressive radiance that her true form had. It was a vibrant red colour, typical of the carefree and impulsive person she was. “Aura looks fine, well it looks mortal.” Vincent explained. With some focus he could refine his view of her, and not just see the aura, or the physical being in front of him, but also the energies that coursed through her.

“Whoa…” He said, sounding mildly surprised.
"What's that look for?" Violet asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Have you been keeping up with your meditations?” Vincent asked. Violet’s chakras were all in turmoil. Generally speaking there were 7 chakra points of significance, and they tended to reflect your mental and spiritual state. Without balance within these avenues, it created in most people a general sense of unwellness, or that something isn’t right. For practitioners it could deeply affect their ability to work forces. “They’re all messed up, unsteady flow right the way through your system.” Violet’s root chakra was chaotic and the flow of energy sporadic, which might have been normal on it’s own, as it was affected by her sense of foundation and being grounded, and she’d just had a rather nasty shock, but there was some kind of knock on effect happening. “No wonder you’re flying off the handle. It’s like you’re having a really serious identity crisis on a spiritual level.”

"I'm not having an identity crisis, I know who I am... I'm Violet Hallow. But... She was... More. We-- I... Were more." Violet looked to her brother, "I have to learn what the orbs are, and what they did to me... I can't live like this..."
“You’re mortal, you’ve lost a big chunk of you, like it or not. That’s bound to affect this sort of thing.” He sighed and let the power fade from his brow and the auras and energies faded from his perception. “Violet…I have our next lead but…” He sighed frustratedly, “Finding dad is less important than looking after you.” He turned back to the door where Morag was standing, “I want to find her brother though…they trusted us.”

He thought about telling Violet about Morag’s lineage. He didn’t know a lot about Hellhounds but he knew that they were likely a more valuable asset than a run of the mill werewolf. If any of the people that had taken her were in the know then there might be more to this than they thought. Rare supernatural entities often seemed to be careful not to be known, so they couldn’t be exploited. Anything that was careful to blend in or not be seen usually had a reason to do so, or perhaps a vulnerability.

“These orbs…” Vincent muttered, deep in thought, “Could we try summoning one of them? You’re not above that, right? We’ve summoned Vael before, it can be done.”
"Do you think they're the same thing as me and my Aunt?" Violet asked. "I... I don't see why we couldn't, but if they're powerful enough to do this to me..." Violet was clearly nervous.
“So we take precautions.” Vincent assured her, “We’ll make a proper three layer circle, runes, bagua seals, and we’ll do it together, blend our magic. We’ll do a full ritual, we’ll wash up, clean clothes, we’ll make an offering. If this thing has worked magic on you then you’ll have a connection to it, and we can use that to try to find it.”
"Geez, I'm glad you at least paid attention to Al." Violet smirked and nodded to her brother, "Well it's your show then, Vince."

“Good. Well then let’s get to it.” Vincent replied and turned around to face Morag, “Can you tell us where the nearest Taco Bell is and then where the nearest graveyard is?”

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"What's our standpoint on eating on a grave, then?" Violet asked to the air, unwrapping a taco.

It never took long to find a graveyard. Although, this one had seen better days. Grass ran over most of the old graves. A small pink orb illuminated the graveyard for several feet in all directions, floating over Violet's shoulder as she bit into a taco, sat upon a grave while Vincent was busy drawing symbols in chalk on an area of the ground they'd sanctified. While he worked, Violet finished wolfing down her food and then grabbed the remaining taco and held it up, when she pulled her hand away, it remained floating on the spot and began to glow pink.
Ancient words recited in a hushed tone, and something appeared in front of her. It appeared for a moment, snatched the food in front of her, and was gone. Violet was sure she knew what it looked like, but when it was gone, it was just a cloud of shadow.
"Cool. That's the offering out of the way, and--" She looked over to see Vincent dropping little stones with runes etched into them, scattering them around the summoning site. She'd never seen so many charms, protection spells, cleansing rites and magical barriers erected in one spot before. That, in itself, was dangerous. There is such a thing as being 'too safe'. Magic does, after all, tend to attract trouble.
"-- you done?" She asked her brother.

"Almost..." Vincent said after a long pause, his attention seemed focused on the task more than Violet. With the final placement of a rune-engraved stone there also came a strange pressure to the air, like everything had just been wrapped in plastic wrap. As Vincent stepped inside the outer circle of their spell the runes lit up on the stones, and a green aura began to emanate from the patterns of salt that were shaped into all manner of ancient symbols; Chinese, Egyptian, Sanskrit and a smattering of others.
"Are you ready?" He asked Violet, and he looked at her with a hardened expression. He was focused, but he clearly wasn't thrilled about what they were doing next.

"How am I supposed to be ready for this, i've no idea what to expect, things that came naturally to me, it's like fighting through treacle now... more focused, less capable... I think..." Violet frowned and then shook off her confusion. She couldn't dwell on that now. Now was the time for action.
"So, you want to take the lead on this? I'm kind of-- not as--?" Violet scowled.
"I'll take care of the technical stuff." Vincent assured as he sat himself down on a pre-designated spot within the circle. He crossed his legs lotus style and took in a deep breath, and then exhaled just as slowly and purposefully. "Just lend me your mojo. Spells are stronger the more will you put into them, three would be better but I figure we're already pretty jacked in the mystical muscles department, so it'll be fine...probably."

"Well now i'm really confident." Violet muttered, half-joking with a pained smirk. "... I'm ready when you are."
Vincent didn't reply verbally. He had closed his eyes and had been focusing on his breathing. As he fell deeper and deeper into a trance-like state, the environment began to react to his will. The ambient noise that normally filled the silence just stopped. No wind, no birds, no distant car engines, just endless, crisp silence. Vincent's breath became visible on every exhale, like he was breathing out an aura or energy rather than just air. 

Then the world seemed to crack like glass. The circle split and broke apart, reflections of itself refracting upon themselves over and over. The graveyard scene became confusing and treacherous within moments, as a deep, true darkness engulfed the outside of the circle. However, the circle itself was growing, splitting off into fractal reflections of itself, and in each version a Vincent and a Violet. Reflections, but not the kind you found in real mirrors. They were real, or as real as anything was in this place.

The Void was emptiness. The dark space in between all things, a place where there was a vast nothingness, but where everything existed in some strange paradox. Simple ideas, dreams and imaginings could become a reality within this realm. It did not obey the laws of the physical world, and even under the influence of a practitioner's will the realm could become quickly confusing, and many could lose their minds to this place, simply by attempting to understand it. 

There was a ripple within the tumbling mess of fractal realities, a pulsing, steady power that seemed to permeate throughout each. It pulled on them, gripping each reflection and pulling it tightly. The reflections began to merge and form a new, single reality. Vincent opened his eyes finally, and now the circle they had created had become an enormous platform floating through an endless abyss of darkness. He looked around them to see patches of floating bits of the graveyard just bobbing along as if gravity didn't affect them anymore. 

"Well..." Vincent said as he stood up, "Yep... this place still gives me the heebies... and also the jeebies."
"I remember feeling comfortable here, like I was taking off a heavy jacket at the end of a long day." Violet looked out across the shadowy hellscape, "Now, it's just like anywhere monsters lurk..." Violet squinted as she looked into the darkness, where vague shapes of landscape could be glimpsed. "I'm not expecting it to take very long for our presence to be noticed. I just don't know what to expect, Vael often appeared when I came here, but she's worryingly absent now... never thought i'd say that."

"Nothing is getting in without an invitation." Vincent said, an he sounded fairly certain of that, "That was the point in the....split." Vincent shivered a little, "They might have just been reflections in the physical world but reality isn't a concept that holds much weight here. The purpose was to rework the spell, over and over, across multiple realities, or non-realities...Im never quite sure how to refer to it accurately." Vincent paced around the new circle, which was now about the size of a freaking Walmart store. "This is the best I can offer you. A little playground on the edge of nothingness that we can let loose in. Demons and spooks can't get in here unless we summon them...and hopefully the same rules apply for these...orb thingies."
"I'd like to think..." Violet paused, she felt like every little hair on her body stood on end at once. The feeling was mirrored in Vincent's expression. From the darkness ahead of them, over the rise, came a procession of twinkling lights. "Should we be pleased we found them already...?" 
"The sooner I get out of this realm the better, Vi." Vincent replied, "Better put our game faces on." He looked down at his black jeans and grey stone roses T-shirt, "Starting to think I should have worn a cool coat or something..."
"Well i'm glad you've still got a sense of humour..." Violet muttered back.

The orbs grew in size, until their forms shifted. Light grew in radiance from the cores of the orbs, but the light expanded and took physical form. Violet noticed they looked similar to her own appearance as a Nagloshi, but they were all white, not purple. It was like staring directly at the sun and made her uncomfortable and dazed for any more than a few seconds. She found herself looking at them through the shutters of her fingers.
"Why did you hurt me?!" Violet called out to them.
They seemed to ignore her for a moment, talking with one another quietly until the smallest of the group stepped forwards and looked them over. Her form was feminine, her hair - if you could call shifting strands of light hair - was short and spiky and danced around like she was in a wind tunnel.
"They're mortals, do you see?" She said, without looking back at the others. 
"Hey, i'm speaking to you!!" Violet growled. 
"They're human." She added, her eyes lazily inspecting them, "I don't know, they have rudimentary understanding of cosmic magic. No. This one--" She pointed at Violet, almost hitting her in the nose in the process.
"Hey!!" Violet reflexively slapped the... she had no word for her yet... but she slapped aside her hand. 
"Violent. Irrational." Then she was stood in front of Vincent, examining him. "Shall I remove them?"

"Why do all you 'higher being' types talk to us like we aren't here?" Vincent asked, he didn't seem especially shaken by what she had said, "I mean you're speaking English or using some sort of psychic communication, either way you're making an effort to speak with us in a way we understand but continue speaking as if we can't understand you. Are you trying to appear intimidating? You just come off as assholes, y'know."
"Intimidation tactics, basic reasoning, attempt at provocation." She turned her head, the way a dog or bird might, then looked back to the other orbs, "Then what?"
"Violet, your ancestors are kinda rude... I think even Vael's less intentionally difficult than this..." He gestured at the creature's 'hair' , "Pixie?" He smirked, "My name is Vincent Hallow. You're currently standing in our domain." He gestured to Violet as he spoke, "We have questions. Depending on your answer, we might have to tangle. Not a threat, just a fact. So tell me Tinkerbell, do you want to proceed civilly or not?"

"Pixie..." She repeated thoughtfully, but her interest lay in the other name drop.
"'Vael'?" Pixie's eyes locked on Vincent, "Where is Vael? She is the other."
"Don't know, don't care." Vincent replied, "We're here to talk about Violet." He gestured once again to his sister, "You'll have to excuse her as she appears to be lost for words...which is a universal first by the way so congratulations."
"I... the other what?!" Violet blinked, coming to her senses at the mention of her 'aunt'.
"Abnormality." Pixie replied, then added over her shoulder, "The human the rogue White Dwarf fused with, and her... Vincent Hallow."
"Excuse me?" Vincent asked, his eyebrow raised so high it was dangerously close to rising off of his head altogether.

"VINCENT!!" Violet screamed, launching herself at him. 
Pixie lifted her hand without warning, it seemed, for all but Violet. A light grew at the tip of her finger and shot in a beam, Violet shoved Vincent out of the way, turning to see the beam widening and blinding her, then she felt a rush of wind as something snatched at her. It was like a jolt. Was that death? She didn't even get to catch up with her ex...
Violet blinked, she was staring at a black sky. Violet sat bolt upright, she was still in the Void, but she seemed untouched.
"Vincent?!" Violet called out, but she saw her brother kneeling by something and she held her breath as she approached.
"Vincent, what happened, there was a light and--" Violet's mouth fell slack. Vincent was cradling Vael, who had a hole in her shoulder. Violet walked over and knelt in silence, looking at the wound. Cracks began snapping out from the hole, creaking and spreading across Vael's body.
"W-what happened...?" Violet asked, taking Vael's hand.
"They were... going to erase you... for having infected... a Star." Vael struggled to focus, as the cracks spread and multiplied across her body. "I couldn't... watch you... die..."
Violet was crying. She never fully understood her relationship with Vael, but somehow, in spite of everything she had done to them, she was still dear to her. 
"Why...?!" Violet looked up at Pixie with tears streaming down her face.
"You shouldn't exist." Pixie said quietly, turning to face them.

"Violet get behind me!" Vincent said frantically as he lowered Vael to the ground. When he stood up the air crackled with power and something mostly invisible spread through the air around them, a powerful hum of excited energy, a barrier between Pixie and the rest of them. "I don't know how she got here..." he said to Violet, and he wasn't sounding so confident any more, "I cant sense their magic... this is really bad." his gaze fixed on Pixie and it became a determined scowl. "Don't think I'll make it easy for you, bitch!"

Vincent spat a few words, they sounded unintelligible and completely foreign to a human tongue but they were, in fact, names. As he spoke them there was a sound like a scream being sucked up into a vacuum and multiple tears opened into their domain. Three creatures emerged; snarling, quadrupedal beasts with hides as black as coals, and matted, coarse fur. They had long scar-like cracks throughout their bodies, and something glowed with an eldritch light from within. Their eyes glowed with the same light, their powerful claws and teeth producing an aura of magma-like energy that scorched the ground at their feet. Demons. "I said by invite only, but I didn't say I wouldn't invite them!"

"Mortals..." Pixie cut the beam across the courtyard and caught one of the Demons in the light, they shrieked in horrific pain as they folded in on themselves almost instantly. Pixie turned and fired this concentrated magic and struck another Demon, it too, shrieked and fell. But the remaining Demon fell upon her. Violet drew in a breath to yell in victory when the Demon was vaporised instantly. Little more than ash in the wind. The largest of the orbs of light came forwards and formed a being similar in makeup to Pixie and the Nagloshi, but her hair seemed to flow back long past her feet, yet all of it was in the air behind her, like the currents of the ocean. Her light was most brilliant. And when she approached, Pixie apologised and moved out of her way. Her face was kind, knowing and jovial. But she was also like a giant, towering over them yet she stood passively, holding her arms behind her back.
"Children..." Her voice was booming and yet gentle in tone, it frightened Violet for a reason she didn't understand. Like a hazy memory, warning her of something. She could only watch though as this being crossed the courtyard of Vincent's creation and stand before him. With the lift of her hand, she brought Vincent floating into the air to hover before her eyes.
"Are you done fighting? Have you got it all out of your system?" The bright one asked, her tone measured and happy, like she was asking Vincent if his tantrum was through.
"Luminous one--" Pixie interjected, "-- this mortal attempted to destroy a Star--"
"Because you attacked them, impatient one." She clarified, "Now, what is it you want, Mortal?" Pixie recoiled and lowered her head in fear.

"Why are you addressing me?" Vincent growled, "Why are you all addressing me!?" Vincent kept his barrier up between them, although who knew what good it would do them. "You have taken....so much from my sister, from Violet! Why aren't you speaking to her!?" Violet looked from her brother to the towering giant, whatever she was. 
"She has no right to speak with us. She is an abnormality." The being of light swept her hand across, Violet saw a battle play out, Star killing Star. All were being wiped out. And at the head of it, was Vael. She was killing them. Her hand moved back across and Violet found herself refocused and as distressed as Vincent appeared.
Vincent shook his head like he was physically trying to remove something from it and his scowl darkened. "Stay the fuck out of my head." He snarled, but there wasn't a great deal of bite to him. It was clear on his face that he knew their options were limited. He was running his mouth to buy time because time was a wizard's most effective weapon. With a heavy sigh Vincent seemed to gather himself and stood a little more firm. "This just in: Vael is a violent agent of chaos. Stay tuned for our next big reveal: water is wet!"

"Then you understand." She turned and looked to Vael, the cracks still spreading across her. "Ceasing to exist would be a relief, you are guilty, and should suffer." She waved her hand, and Vael wailed in pain as her body crystallised, spreading out from her chest until she was a frozen crystal statue. "You'll have time to think in there for a few millennia, and then we'll talk punishment." 
"You can't do that!" Violet spoke up, "Two wrongs don't make a right! And you said I was a fusion, a fusion with what? Was it Zeal?! Where is she?!" Violet marched towards the giant being of light, ignoring Vincent. "Hey! HEY!! I'm speaking to you, and i'm not going away!!" 
"Be quiet." It was an off-the-cuff demand, but it could not be ignored it seemed.

Violet continued speaking, but her voice was gone. She yelled at the top of her lungs, but nothing came out. She clicked her fingers, sound. She opened her mouth and formed the words. Nothing. She clenched her fist, she wanted to yell, "What am I? What was I? How can I be that again?" But she couldn't so much as say a single word. She raised her hands, but again, without the words to back it up, and with no focus, and no direct access to the same breadth of cosmic magics she had when she was... fused? Or whatever that meant, she was relatively helpless. She wanted to throw everything she had at their enemy, but she was so utterly beyond her. 
"Stop it!" Vincent yelled, and his voice boomed along to the clap of thunder in the eternal darkness of The Void. The grass underneath his feet stirred with a growing, turbulent wind. "I've had enough of demons, vampires, faeries, and gods, and fucking cosmic energy beings imposing their will on us! You all come from the same place, you call it ki, mana or the power fuckin' cosmic but it's all the same! Power... and we have power too!" 

The ground shook and small pieces of the earth broke off and began to vibrate and shake, rising gently into the air as unseen forces played havoc with the environment. "Stop what you're doing... or I'll make you, I swear it!"
"Make me?" She asked, she leaned down and picked Vincent up, holding him at the throat with her thumb, "I needn't use magic, I could simply squeeze and you would cease to be. You are so fragile. Why risk so much for so little..."
Violet raised her hands, glowing pink light formed and she tried to strike out with the energy she was mustering. However, this being simply drew the energy away from her, concentrated it into a tiny orb and threw it back at her with a simple off-handed gesture. Violet was struck in her centre mass and thrown across the courtyard until she hit the ground, tumbled and rolled to the edge of the platform, one arm hung limply over the edge, threatening to fall into the very Void itself.

Someone grabbed Violet's arm just as it was about to slip. The figure dragged her up with a firm strength. He let go of her as she was pulled safely back on to solid ground, and he had turned around before she could get a good look at him. The man was dressed in a dark robe with a hood, the entire garment decorated with a constellation of strange runes and diagrams, glittering slightly like the pattern had been woven in starlight itself. The hood covered the man's head, all but covering his face in a shadow that was definitely the result of some magic. Only the edge of his dark but greying beard could be seen in the vibrant light emanating from the Star beings. 

Said beings were currently frozen, as was everything else within The Void. Everything was perfectly still, not a breath or whisper in the air. Only Violet and the robed man seemed to be unaffected by this. Even Vincent remained frozen in the grip of the star being. 

"I'm sorry I didn't act sooner." The man said in a deep but gentle voice, "We don't have time to explain I'm afraid." He gestured towards the star beings as their forms seemed to be twitching and moving around in short bursts of rapidity. "It only slows them down for a moment." The man explained, "When it starts again grab your brother and get out of here. Do you understand?"

"... Dad?" Violet asked, stepping forwards to put her hand to his shoulder, but as she reached out, he seemed to be ever further from him. Her arm stretched out to span an infinite yet unreachable goal. "How are you here? You don't need to go, you can come with us, we'll all leave together..."

Elias Hallow tensed visibly, but he didn't turn to face her. "I can't explain now, Violet. I'm sorry." Then there was a sudden rush of noise and movement as time started again. Eli was already in motion. "Get your hands off of my son!" He barked and there was a noise like a shockwave and Vincent was suddenly and quite forcibly separated from the star being. Vincent fell across the floor choking for breath and oblivious to what had gone on. He raised his hands, his palms outstretched and several things seemed to happen at once. 

Bolts of energy flew immediately from the star beings who seemed threatened enough to attack the man on sight. Eli simply disappeared and reappeared, to the naked eye it seemed like he was simply materialising in and out of existence in different places. Then as he drew closer to the beings there was an explosion of light and energy as the wizard began to fight back, summoning all manner of strange magic to block their strikes and strike back at them. He moved gracefully, like he had done this kind of thing a thousand times before, and then he suddenly stopped in his assault and took a deep breath. 

The assault on him also halted as the attackers seemed to sense the severity of what was to come. Above them all the void suddenly twisted in on itself, infinite darkness coiling in on itself, surrounded only by the faintest of white light. The strong pull of force was instant. Everything started breaking apart and getting sucked up. Chaos ripped the world to shreds, hurtling through empty space. And then Vincent and Violet landed with a soft thud on the grass of an untouched cemetery.

"No!" Violet yelled out, thumping the grass with her bare fists. "I don't understand! Why won't anyone talk to me!!" Violet's tears began cascading down her cheeks. "It's not supposed to be like this, i'm not strong enough, and you've left us again! You don't get to decide when we're in your life!!" Violet yelled, but it only echoed through the empty graveyard. She tore up a patch of grass and threw it into the air, the blades whipped and flurried through the air and fluttered back down like feathers on the wind. Violet held firmly onto the ground, as though she might tear away from it if she wasn't anchored.
"Vincent, I... I don't know what to do any more." Violet shook her head in defeat, "I'm so helpless now... i'm incomplete."

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The drive back to their motel was a long, silent one. Vincent drove for once, Violet needed some more time to get her head together he felt. His sister was sitting in the passenger seat staring aimlessly out of the window, a deep look of concern on her face. Vincent pulled over into the motel parking lot and parked the car, and they got out with their things and got back into their room. Vincent turned the TV on just for background noise and sat on one of the beds. He reached under it and retrieved a mostly full bottle of whisky. He gestured at Violet to get him two glasses before retrieving his cigarettes from his pocket and sparking one up.

He was feeling pretty numb right now, his brain still had to process everything fully. He had felt so hopelessly overwhelmed when facing those beings. He had designed a field of magic to give them an edge and yet it left them so hopelessly outclassed. Why hadn’t he thought about that before going ahead with the ritual? The way they skirted his barriers, wards and defences with ease seemed like cheating, which is precisely how he felt about Violet’s magic. Cosmic magic was not the same as his magic, or really any other beings magic. There were fundamental laws to magic, things even greater beings could not break, and yet the Nagloshi had.

Then there was his father’s appearance, which had been more of an event for Violet apparently. For Vincent it had all happened in a sudden burst, a flurry of action where there hadn’t been previously. Before he had gotten a good look at his father they had been sent out of The Void. Violet, however, had spoken with their dad. He had saved her from falling off the ledge, had somehow frozen time within that space. Two impossibilities in one day. Time magic was…messy and complicated. So complicated that he wasn’t certain it was even possible.

His father was alive. Alive and well, apparently. Free enough to travel through time and space with little effort and just summon a freaking black hole to save his kids. Which meant he was choosing to be gone. Which meant Vincent’s fears were right, his dad was a selfish asshole. One who was apparently wielding some seriously powerful magic the likes of which he had never seen before. His brain was buzzing thinking about the potential magical theory of it all, trying to understand it. Violet handed him the glasses and he poured them out a drink each. He took his and drank it down, quieting the scholarly thoughts and replacing them with the soothing burn of the whisky.

“So…” He choked, putting his glass down and pouring another, “…Drown your sorrows in a bottle with me?” She swallowed, pulling her gaze away from the motel window.
"Yeah." Violet had been crying. She had wiped the tears away but he could tell all the same. She watched the amber liquid rise in the glass with an apathetic stare until she leaned forwards and pulled the glass away while Vincent was still pouring. She brought the glass to her lips, paused for a moment and then finished the contents of the glass in a single gulp.

Violet retched, followed by choking and coughing. Then wheezing. Then she took one deep breath and regained her composure and then nodded and held her glass out at him. Vincent poured her another glass and put the bottle down on the little table by his bed. He sipped at the whisky this time and took time to gather his thoughts. “So what particular earth shattering bombshell do you want to talk about first?” He asked finally. He wasn’t fine either but he had more experience with suppressing his feelings than Violet, which he was sure was totally healthy, right?

"I don't know... I don't know." Violet repeated. She lifted her legs onto her bed and sat there cross-legged, nursing her drink.
"I think... I'm... Not me? Or I'm not... Who I was... I remember being this complete being. I knew so much, my emotions were so different, everything is different... I don't know who I am. I thought I was a complete person. But I'm not..." For the every day person saying such things was an alarm bell that the person might be having some sort of mental health episode, but when it came to the supernatural these sorts of comments could be taken more literally. Violet was not human…or at least he thought so anyway. She was a being of energy and light, and now she was not. It was quite possible that something more than her power had been taken from her.

“Zeal…” Vincent said as he remembered what Violet had said earlier during the conflict, “You never really spoke about her much. I guess I never really knew what she was, or if she was even something or just something your brain cooked up to help you understand your powers.”
"I don't know what I thought she was... I felt like the only time I saw her was was as this strange little animal in a dream or... Something." Violet took a sip of whiskey and visibly grimaced.
"It wasn't until she was being torn out of...us. That I realised we had been more together, somehow. I'd become a lot stronger than I'd realised. Learned how to control my emotions, and now..." Tears still ran down her cheeks, she wiped at them with the back of her sleeve and sniffed. "How do you feel?"

“Worn out.” He replied with a sigh, “There’s always another hurdle around every corner, and the stakes keep getting higher but I’m not getting stronger, just older and more beaten and scarred. I’m in my 30s and I haven’t got a life to go back to, what little of it I had in the first place. I’m tired of following trails of blood, always on the move, and even when I get to sleep it’s nothing but fucking nightmares.”
Violet nodded and sat in silence for a while. "I'm..." She muttered and Vincent looked up only to see Violet collapse back onto the bed, dropping the glass which hit the ground with a dull thud, spared of breaking, and rolled across the floor as Violet began to snore.

“Really?” Vincent said aloud but he didn’t get any response from Violet. She probably had overdid it today, and she wasn’t used to being mortal again. Who knew how much energy it took to wield cosmic energy. Violet had always seemed to work magic from her own personal pool of power, except her pool was more like an ocean. She didn’t have much need for learning to use the forces around her. Ultimately he thought it best that she rest. After another five glasses of whisky he decided he could use a nap himself. He lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. As a warm, boozy feeling settled in he let his mind drift off, and eventually the deep darkness of sleep took him.

--- --- --- ---

“Vincent!” The sceam was close but muffled through a wall. Vincent shot up in his bed and looked around the room. Violet’s bed was empty, only a mess of sheets where she once was. He heard Violet scream again and he leapt over the bed and pulled open the motel room door. On the other side was chaos. A small army of perhaps twenty or thirty people were gathered outside, including a man he recognized as the motel owner, the others perhaps other guests or staff. The only problem was they were all quite clearly dead, but walking all the same.

Violet’s impala was a wreck, it’s remnants nothing but hot metal, flames and black smoke that was piling into the air. Next to the burning wreck Violet was on the floor, being held up by her hair, a black tendril of dark magic clawing at her throat, squeezing it tightly. The woman who stood there was an enemy, one that had been plaguing his nightmares for 2 years. “Morgana!” Vincent spat her name like he would a profanity, “Let go of her!”

Morgana Le Fay, they very one from the legends, stood in a body she had stolen. While it was Meredith’s body, Morgana’s expression and the way she held herself made her look so unlike Meredith. She gave a lazy, satisfied smile as she scanned over him with her eyes. She was dressed in black, heeled boots and a pair of black leather pants that hugged her frame, as well as an emerald green leather jacket with a wide collar. Her long, red curls of hair looked wild and untamed, and her cold, blue eyes were piercing. Meredith’s eyes. The thought made his blood boil. He searched through every nasty curse he had in his arsenal and moved his body to face her, and then Morgana pulled out a slender athame, a ceremonial dagger, and pressed it against Violet’s neck.

All the rage evaporated. His confidence crumbled and his resolve slipped away like sand through his fingers. Vincent stood very still, his eyes fixed on Morgana’s. She was still wearing that contented smirk.
“Did you miss me, child?” She asked, her voice smooth and relaxed.
“Just tell me what you want and let Violet go.” Vincent said, although it didn’t sound like much of a demand the way he said it. Morgana seemed to consider this for a moment. She bit her lip and let out a little sigh of mock frustration.
“Hmm…no I think not.” She said finally, and then she cut Violet’s throat.

The bottom fell out of Vincent. His entire world crumbled, and the environment around him became irrelevant. There was so much blood around Violet’s neck. He fell to his knees. Just so much blood. How did she know Violet was vulnerable? Why did she come here now? Questions nagged at him, tried to drag him back to reality, back to the problem at hand. What did any of it matter though? Violet was gone. Despair gripped him tightly, he couldn’t move and he couldn’t speak. Morgana dropped Violet’s corpse like it was a garbage bag and slowly stepped towards Vincent. Just as she was about to get close to him she suddenly raised her hand and Vincent was yanked back through the air and crashed into the wall of the motel, he hit the back of his head and his vision swam.

“This is how you pay for what you have done to me, child.” Morgana said, and her tone was bitter and angry, the jovial façade was gone. “I will take everything from you.” He heard her words but the intent behind it barely registered. Violet was dead. The very thing she had narrowly avoided had come to pass only hours later. He was quite powerless, the grief and despair made it too difficult to focus enough to work a spell anyway. He was done for.

Morgana made a subtle twisting motion with her hand and suddenly pain blazed out from his chest near where his heart was. He went to scream but the pain was so excruciating that he couldn’t even muster one. The sheer burning heat of it was unbearable and he thought he might pass out from the pain, when suddenly a cool sensation ran through his body. A cold power washed over him. It was a delicious cold that snapped him back to his senses like a fog had been lifted. Cool energy traced over his skin and it felt cruel, vicious and unyielding, a biting cold that survives when all other things die, the icy heart of winter.

When he finally gained enough focus to see again, he noticed that he was now sat in a heap on the ground. Morgana was not there, but in her place was another woman. She was shorter than Morgana, dressed in black boots that looked stylish, with little rhinestones decorating the heel. She wore purple and black striped leggings and a short, black skirt. Her upper body was covered by a baggy, black hoodie with purple detailing, and the hood which was pulled up had a pair of kitty ears and simple design of a pair of cat’s eyes and some whiskers.

The young woman cocked her head to the side slightly as she looked at him. She was pale skinned with white hair that was a variety of lengths and had a sort of punky look. She wore purple lipstick and her eyes were so bright blue that they looked almost white, and her pupils were narrow like a cat’s.
“You’re having another nightmare, Vincent Hallow.” She said to him. She had a Russian accent but her English was very good. She came closer to him and squatted down, leaning her arms on her legs and she watched him curiously.

“Who are you?” Vincent asked weakly.
“My name is Isoleth, but my friends call me Izzy.” She explained with a bright smile, “and I know that you are Eli’s son, Vincent Hallow.”
“You know my dad?” Vincent asked, but then he shook his head. If this was all just a nightmare, a very real feeling nightmare, then either his psyche had conjured this person from his imagination or…or they were invading his mind.
“Get out of my head.” Vincent said as he pushed himself to his feet.
“I’m not in your head, stupid.” Izzy replied with a smirk and she stood up as well, “You’re in the Dreaming.”
“The what?” Vincent asked
“Come on Vincent.” Izzy said with a grin, “You are familiar with worlds existing parallel to one another; you’ve seen the Void, and Faerie. Did you not think there were other places too?”

“So…your saying when I dream I go to a place? This place?” Vincent asked.
“You project an image of yourself; all mortals do this. Generally there is not lasting damage to suffering pain through your projection here but…well there are ways to use the dreaming to establish a connection between two individuals.”
“Morgana? That was really her? I thought this was a nightmare.”
“Indeed she was, and yes this is a nightmare, however, it was one of her making.” Izzy explained, “The wound on your shoulder.”

Vincent pulled his T-shirt up over his shoulder and examined the black, sprawling wound emanating from a small crater in his skin where something had impacted it. He had gained the wound two years ago when Morgana had hit him with a blast of some nasty magic. It was a wound no conventional doctor could fix, and he had tried every magical healing technique he could think of but nothing seemed to help. In the end apart from a few painful twinges he felt fairly normal. Didn’t he?

“Gross…that’ll do it.” Izzy said with a thoughtful expression, “She must really have it in for you. This curse is…very unpleasant. We’ll have to do something about that. I can fix it, but only in person. I can come to you but it will take a few days I think.”
“Wait a minute.” Vincent held up his hand as he spoke, “What makes you think I trust you? Cat eyes, and your magic is cold, which makes you one of the Fae, Unseelie court. The kind that trick desperate mortals in to bargains that rob them of their life and body. I don’t want whatever you’re selling.”

Izzy stared at Vincent for a moment with a slightly stunned expression, but then she broke into a laugh and waved at him dismissively. “Oh, Vincent Hallow, you are so very like Alphonse described. I suppose caution is a good thing but in this case you are mistaken. I am a changeling, All the perks of being Fae minus the immortality part. Worth it when magic is so easy. Changelings are often viewed as dangerous because they have access to a lot of power and free will to use it.”
“…So you know Alphonse? Know any more of my associates?” Vincent asked
“Quite a few. Your father, Alphonse, Lucia, Vael and I’ve crossed paths with David Argent once or twice.”

“So you’re some changeling girl who’s all buddy-buddy with my dad and Al, and you expect me to just take you at your word?” Vincent’s frown deepened. “What the hell is going on? Where did Morgana go? Why the hell is my dad and his cronies suddenly deciding to crawl out of the woodwork?” Izzy gave a soft shrug and glanced away from Vincent. She closed her eyes and Vincent felt that cold energy again. Before his eyes the environment began to change, the motel disappeared, along with the flaming impala and the corpse of his sister.

In its place appeared a vast skyscape of stars that seemed far to bright and numerous. They were on top of a very large mountain, so high that there was a layer of clouds blocking the earth below from view. Vincent felt a chill in the air, but it was nowhere near as cold as it should have been on top of a snowy mountain he was beginning to suspect was Everest. The noise of the wind was also barely a whisper and he swore he could hear a light EDM track playing in the background.

“I specialize in illusions, which means a lot in the dreaming.” Izzy explained, “I thought I’d change the setting to something a little nicer. Do you like it?”
“I don’t care about the setting I just want answers.” Vincent replied irritably.
“Don’t you ever stop to smell the roses, Vincent?” Izzy asked, and she looked a little sad. Then she put on a smile and shrugged, “Very well Vincent, I shall answer you. Morgana Le Fay has been sent back to her mortal body for the time being. You stopped her from calling down a great deal of power two years ago. With that sort of power there would be few who could match her. That is why she hates you, and that is why she has cursed you.”

“So what exactly does this curse do? Give me nightmares?” Vincent asked
“No that was Morgana doing that through your connection.” Izzy replied, “This curse is designed to siphon away your power and give it to Morgana. Each time she visited you in these nightmares she took a part of your power to replenish what she lost. Each time she grows stronger and you weaker.”
“I…I never noticed.” Vincent replied
“Well of course not. You’d account the fatigue to not sleeping well, and with the journey you and your sister have been on…who would blame you for feeling depressed or worn out. The symptoms were masked by your circumstance.”

Vincent felt a strange pang in his chest. The thought of someone taking his magic like that was…very uncomfortable. He hadn’t even noticed that it was happening. He felt completely foolish. How much power had he lost? With his sister’s drop in power as well, the odds just kept stacking against them, and that weight bearing down on him was starting to feel crushing.
“Get out of your head, dude.” Izzy said with a roll of her eyes, “You’re Vincent Fuckin’ Hallow, you eat lightning and crap thunder! You eat vampires for breakfast! Do you even have any idea how scary you are!?”
“Sure doesn’t seem like it when I’m ducking for cover or getting tied up in word games with scary fuckers like Lucia.” Vincent replied, frowning.

“Oh please, Lucia doesn’t show fear to anyone, but she knows what you’ve done just like the rest of us.”
“And what have I done?” Vincent asked.
“Hunted.” Izzy replied simply, “Stop trying to play the game, just break through. It’s what you and Violet have always done best. Sure you guys stumble a lot, but you’re both still alive and kicking. You should be confident in yourself.”
“Yeah I’ll get right to work on that.” Vincent replied, he wanted to change the topic, “How do you know my father and Al?”

Izzy bit her bottom lip and seemed to hesitate for a moment. “You don’t know it yet, but you have been chasing us for quite some time now.” She explained, “Recently you and Violet discovered that your father was part of some sort of group. You also discovered evidence which suggested that Lucia was part of the same group.”
“If you know all that then why are we still searching? If you want to help us then why wait until now?”
“Well, that’s complicated.” Izzy replied, shifting uncomfortably, “We’re bound by a lot of conditions. One of which is not helping people discover us.”

“Wouldn’t this be classed as helping?” Vincent asked, brow raised.
“There’s been some foul play so different rules apply for now. I have been tasked to watch over you and Violet for a while, and help you out a little. I’m sorry but I cannot explain much more beyond that. Though it will still take me a few days to reach you. In the meantime I believe you have work to do.”
“Two dangerous vampires need to get smoked. I’m sure we can manage.” Vincent replied.
“Do not underestimate them. I suggest you gather a hunting party.” Izzy gave Vincent a knowing look, “I think you already have a few allies nearby who can help you.”

“I’m still not sure how I feel about this.” Vincent said with a frown.
“Well then I’ll settle it with a peace offering.” Izzy said with a grin, and then she took an old photograph out of the her pocket and handed it to him. Vincent examined the old photo and his eyes widened as he scanned over it. The room had about 12 people in it, it was some kind of gathering in a small events room. Vincent recognized a few of the figures. His mentor, Alphonse was sat at a table talking with a man with slicked back, black hair dressed in a suit. In the background Vincent’s father, looking very young, was talking with an attractive woman who he vaguely recognized.

“Vael…” He murmured as he continued scanning the photo. “This was before Violet was born.”
“Correct. It is the day our little group was first founded. Although I wasn’t around back then.”
“How old are you?” Vincent asked
“I’m only 25, dude.” Izzy said with a smirk.
“And your name is Isoleth? Bit of an old sounding name for a millennial.” Vincent teased.
“It is a regal name…chosen by Queen Mab herself.”
“Your…the daughter of the queen of the unseelie fae?”
“Yeah dude, I’m pretty dope, I don’t know if you noticed.” Izzy said with a chuckle. “I think it’s time for you to wake up. Get your shit together Vincent, you’ll feel better.”

“Easy to say when you don’t have a full day of ass kicking ahead of you.” Vincent said with a grumble.
“My name’s Vincent and I’m a grumpy wizard!” Izzy said in a particularly poor impersonation of Vincent, and then she started giggling at herself, “Aw I like you Vincent. We’re gonna be the best of friends, I can already tell.”
“Don’t hold your breath.” Vincent said and a hint of a smirk escaped his lips.
“Yass queen!” Izzy said with a triumphant grin and she clapped her hands together, “Okay just keep doing more of that smilin’ until I find you! Oh this is going to be fun. I’m so stoked to meet Violet!”

--- --- --- ---

Before Vincent could reply he gasped for air as he suddenly woke up on the bed in the motel room. He turned to his side and looked at Violet who was sleeping soundly. For the first time since the nightmare had began he finally allowed himself to feel relief. That had been an extremely weird dream. Then he looked down at his hand and saw the photograph he was holding, the one that Izzy had given him. “Shit…” Vincent said with a sigh, “Violet! Wake up!” He had some explaining to do.

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