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Fantasy ••• ℬяιтαηηιcα ℒσsт ••• | [O/A]

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Story

Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
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"Heralding in the age of reason, progress, mechanization and industry, the Victorian era signaled the dawning of a new age. Top hats and top shelf manners. High society, and high risk colonial ventures. Carriages, bustles, pubs and pocket watches. The human race was flourishing. But, humans were never the only creatures walking the cobblestone streets now were they? Creatures with inhuman speed, strength and raw, bestial power have long lived among the ordinary beings, quietly, for dozens of centuries. Gods, walking among men, tethered by the moon's call - men who turned into massive beasts at whim.

But science knew no limitation. Human physicians, tinkerers, engineers of the body, one day, created something...inhuman. Something unnatural. The world's first
vampire. With a clockwork heart - out of man monsters were made. The first vampire's creation broke the natural world order. Time stopped. Forever frozen in twilight, the sun and moon no longer rose and fell. The moon-called beasts became unstable, no longer able to control their inner animal. It wasn't long, before the monsters of the world made themselves known. For blood. In wrath & rage. Bloodlust maddened both immortal species.
From this single act, Werebeast and Vampire became mortal enemies. A queen rose up from the ranks of the moon-called - the oldest, most terrifying Beast alive -
The Midnight Jackal - to lead the war against the abominations, whose creation disrupted the natural balance and stole the sun. And in turn, The Leech King stood for his silver-fanged brethren to fight the Beasts, whose blood was so sweet, so succulent and tempting.

Nearly a millennium passed, just so. Fang against fang. Claw against sword. Blood and slaughter and war. Immortals reigned supreme, and humans became fodder and background. Still, society continued.
Humans reproduced much faster than the immortal races. Scientists continued to tinker. Steam became a modern wonder, able to become mechanicalized and weaponized.

Amidst war and industry, in the perpetual twilight of New Londontown, religious zealots, armed with science and technology rose to power. A common threat to both immortal races was born. They called themselves...
Templars. Holy knights of God, set to cleanse the world of all immortal, ungodly abominations. Their mission is simple: to destroy all supernatural beings. In their hubris and blood-hunger, the Templar scientists created a new, awful race of creatures who might stand a chance against the vampires and beasts. The Mephisto. An unholy creature, born of death and rot. Their leader was mysterious, said to have been a Templar himself before madness encouraged his betrayal, taking all the knowledge of their creations with him.

The Beast Queen and Vampire Lord met with the Mephisto leader, and together, all three immortal species made a pact. Self-preservation. For the first time in history, humans powered by industry and unnatural science stood a chance at annihilating the god-like creatures who lived among them. The three monarchs made an alliance. It was called
The Red Oath. The Beast Queen, Vampire Lord, and Mephisto King all vowed to disband their warriors - to forsake old grudges and wars - for the sake of survival against the Templars, with their steam-powered airships and weapons. The immortals went underground. Guerrilla wars were fought. Leaderless, they killed when they could. Cloak and dagger. Shadow and smoke. Until the day, ten years from the time The Red Oath was made...when the Beasts, the Vampires and the Mephisto would come together once more, and assess the state of affairs… But it never came to pass." - Pax Britannica (2009-2019)

The Jackal was missing, not a single soul knew of her whereabouts; and the Mephisto King was murdered by his right hand accomplice,
Rosemary Unsworth at the precipice of the scheduled meeting. The Templars took these tragedies in stride, and raged a monumental battle upon all supernatural kind; led by Holly Whilshire, the most highly regarded soldier of the Templar faction. She personally led the attack, bombing the Cheapside neighbourhood where many of the supernatural factions made base. On the ground, she defeated The Leech King, severing his head in victory, and crushing the ticking heart in his chest. It would be that moment that all the world would change.

The Beast Queen and Vampire Lord were leaders at odds, but not in spirit. The two were a
mated pair, souls entwined beyond the physical world and belief. As one perished, so did the other. The supernatural factions crumbled in their wake, and succumbed to the Templar victory.
Rosemary Unsworth of the Mephisto surrendered to the Templars, returning to them the knowledge of Mephisto creation, as well as providing her services as the creator of their lifeblood,
The Serum. Her race, traitors by proxy, were murdered, those that would survive either finding temporary asylum with the Templars as part of the army, or by hiding away until their death without the Serum to keep them alive.
Maeve Donovan, General of the Werebeasts, assisted any and all who wished to flee the city as it burned. Vampire and Beast kin headed to Port Thames. Boats carried them to distant shores under the cover of darkness.

But, most miraculous of all that would come to pass from the Templar’s victory… A dawn.
Sun, brilliant and golden, began to rise once again, and the moon in all her cool glow began to disappear. As such, the world, and time itself, started to breath life again with each continuous cycle.

A world parched of the sun for so long would surely have it’s difficulties adjusting to this new ball of fire, but they were nothing compared to the many advancements the humans would make. Solar rays were collected and harvested, and soon electricity was born! Bulbs replaced flames, and steam engines began to fire up behind at the smallest spark. The Templars with their vast technology were praised for their efforts, and while no one could determine a true cause for the sun’s return, many believed Holly to be their savior.
She would lead the Holy Order in a new direction, spearheading the division of troops. Under her leadership,
The Blood Sisters; a band of females not so unlike herself whom carry the will of God and bare the names of his archangels. And, in turn, a division of male-dominant crusaders, The 84th Legion, under the command of The Patriarch. The Blood Sisters would become feared for their brutality, while the 84th Legion excelled in pushing the mechanical advancement limitations of mortal kind, fond of body modifications and artillery. Together, the two teams became the faces of holy conquest, warriors of justice and peace.


With New Londontown liberated, all of England was not far behind. Vampire and Beast that survived fled across the world, finding new ways of life and trying to remain unseen. The Templar’s influence spread quickly at news of their successes, making that reality few and far between.
Those that survived Holly’s battle landed on the shores of America, a fresh and new world, young and wealthy… and so very different from it’s English motherland. They have settled in the warm and eclectic city of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Whispers are beginning to spread in this foreign land that Maeve is the new Queen of Beasts, while
Cecile Bellerose, the Leech King’s right hand, has taken power over the vampires, and been making her claim on the vampires of America. But, the threat of the Templars is ever looming, and Holly’s wrath is far from over. They must come together to save their races, or risk becoming extinct.
 
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Races

Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
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Vampires
Legend holds that it was the creation of the first Vampire that broke time. The making of a monster and immortal through both magical and scientific means. There are not many Vampires, mainly because it costs a great deal to make one, and few of even vampire kind know the secret. However, it is well-known that every Vampire has a ticking, clockwork heart. Where these mythical metal hearts come from, no one is certain. The birth of a Vampire is extremely risky for the maker. It involves draining a human to the point of death, and then the removal of their once mortal heart and replacing it with the clockwork organ giving power & immortality.
Vampires are unaging, not unkillable. The only known methods of killing a Vampire include beheading and removal of the heart. Some say it is best to burn the bodies, but this is unverified. Vampiric speed is incredible. Supernaturally strong, these monsters can lift, at record, several tons if necessary. It is said that a whisper on a busy night in a crowded square can reach the ears of a blood drinker. They do not naturally have fangs, like Beasts, but often adopt silver or gold caps for their canines to help with feeding.
Vampires are highly susceptible to the sun. The ways in which damage is taken is dependent on the age of the Vampire. Younger, freshly made Vampires (0-200) will instantly disintegrate under even a stray ray, or reflection of light. Vampires in their middle ages (201-500) will burn and crisp quickly under direct and indirect light, and need to seek shelter immediately. Aged, Elder Vampires that are over 500 years old will be able to slip under indirect light, but still find stings of pain on their skin. Many wear sun-blocking glasses as their eyes are sensitive, and don thick, tight-weaved clothing to protect themselves at all costs. Best to travel and converse in the cover of night.


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Werebeasts
This mysterious race is the oldest immortal race in the known world, having been alive as far back as Ancient Egyptian times. Once, these immortals were gods among humankind, and lived in sync with the natural order. Thus, the long-burning hatred and war with the blood-drinkers, who froze the world in eternal twilight. For centuries Beasts were also known as 'Moon-Called' for lunar rays were said to enhance their desire to shift into their animal forms. They can become moon-crazed, and self-destruct. Madness was kept at bay with the use of 'collars', an accessory to help keep them bound to their human forms. With the return of the sun, these devices are no longer required, and beasts may transform at will.
They form very unique, strong matebonds with their destined lovers. Like the vampires, Beasts are immortal, and possess supernatural strength, speed, hearing and their scent-based tracking abilities are incredible.
In a one-to-one fight, because of age and experience, Beasts are more likely to win a battle, but the Beasts are one of the rarer species. They fight with natural fangs, and their beast forms. Most cannot half transform, despite popular lore.
Under this new world sun, Beasts find their skin to prickle as it tans easily. Their eyes, like Vampires, are sensitive to the brightness, and you will often find them wearing sun-blocking glasses. They do not fear the sunlight and many embrace it, as their ancestors of old once did.


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Templars
The Templars, with science, have finally created something that can fight with the immortal gods. But are they strictly human? Fueled with righteous, holy glory, some of the Templars have elected for a...procedure, replacing approximately half of their human bodies with steam-powered machinery. Offensive weapons, & a steam-core, allow these clockwork Knights to survive in battles with Beasts and Vampires. Their mechanical enhancements give them superhuman strength, & endurance. They can take a blow from an immortal and keep firing.
They have neither the immortal hearing, nor smell, but most have eye enhancements that allow them inhuman sight. Flamethrowers & blunderbuss attachments are common. These half-man, half-machine Knights are not immortal...or are they? In a fair fight, these Knights can't hope to win against an immortal. But fights are rarely fair.
Mortals love their new glorious sun, and find any excuse they can to bathe in it. They will tan and burn easily, as their skin is naturally pale from centuries of darkness, but they have embraced it with vigour.
 
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Setting

Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
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New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
The Crescent City is a unique, boisterous, and mystical landscape along the Mississippi River. Though it does hold traditional and conservative values, it is considered one of the most liberal cities in the US when it comes to policies concerning Werebeasts and Vampires. Laws that once denied blood consumption have been overturned, and they allow for the consensual sharing of blood for strictly vampire consumption (and for mortal capital gain). Beasts are also welcomed to the Big Easy. Their undeniable strength and vigor make them ideal manual laborers all throughout the Mississippi Delta.

Currently : MIDNIGHT | Season : AUTUMN
Early autumn in Southeast Louisiana is similar to its summer. It’s in a sub-tropical climate and is prone to sudden rain storms, and constant humidity. The evenings can be cool, provided there is a breeze, but humidity never ceases. Every now and then, cool days come, but only follow heavy rainstorms. This time of year is also when sugarcane is being harvested in the country and being shipped to refineries all over the state, a number of which line the Mississippi River south of the city.
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The Brass Canine
A popular jazz club for Vampires, Beasts, and mortals alike; located on Frenchman Street (iconic place for Jazz bars/lounges, and also in The Marginy). If a good time is what you desire, look no further. But be aware of the nightly brawls that tend to breakout after a few rounds of its famous “Bon Rêve” has been served. In the back, a private speakeasy for Beast kin only; a base of operations for Maeve Donovan.

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Le Repaire de Velours (The Velvet Lair)
An establishment in Storyville owned and operated by one Madame Josephine “Fifi” de Lyons. Its fine selection of Werebeast courtesans are well versed in many languages, delectable pastimes, and etiquette suitable for their preferred clientele. It houses a number of both common (wolf, raven, owl, to name a few) and rare (swan, bear, lion, etc.) Beasts for the delight of their vast patronage. The first floor serves as a common area complete with spirits bar and stage for tasty burlesque performances that attract as many people as the main form of entertainment. The second and third house’s its occupants, the owner, and it’s guests (for the evening).

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French Market
A market where food, goods, and conversation is traded and sold.

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La Lune
Nestled in Marigny, the Vampires have settled themselves into the lifestyle of jazz and art. For the vampires who followed Cecile's lead, the social nightlife gives them some resemblance of their previous aristocratic style; while new members join, hoping to expand their own prosperity. La Lune became a cozy home while retaining a luxurious atmosphere in hopes of the vampires regaining their former glory.

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Vieux Carré/French Quarter
The French Quarter is the historic heart of New Orleans, serving both as a neighborhood for the upperclass and as the central entertainment district. Several shops, restaurants, lounges, and music venues are amassed in this small district, but this close knit collection of buildings and people is what has helped the city to develop its distinctive and unique flavor. Places such as the Place d’Armes/Jackson Square, The French Market, St Louis Cathedral, and several popular nightlife locations can be found here.

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Paradise
The Templar airship, Paradise; modeled for speed and smooth handling. She is a miniature warship and created in the likeness of her Leviathan mother, Eden. Sent to New Orleans from the armada in England, she is home to the traveling Blood Sisters and 84th Legion. On board her passengers can enjoy their own private suites, science lab, repair stations, common lounge and observation deck.
 
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Cast of Players

Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
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Interested in joining? Click the Banner above for our Character Thread, where you'll find Available Roles and the Application.

CECILE BELLEROSE
alias: Ember
race: Vampire
faction: Vampires
gender: Female
player: CosmicDusk


Esther Asturias
alias: Sherwood
race: Vampire
faction: Hers
gender: Female
player: nighteyes


Cassandra Caldecott
alias: Little Sparrow
race: Vampire
faction: Vampire
gender: Female
player: Leola_Asarai


Elijah Kaylock
alias: Tinkerer
race: Vampire
faction: Vampire
gender: Male
player: Kittenbells407


Virgil Bedeau
alias: Fantôme
race: Vampire
faction: His
gender: Male
player: Crazy Trey-n


Elias Brandt
alias: Judas
race: Vampire
faction: Templars(?)
gender: Male
player: ashwynne


Maeve Donovan
alias: Phoenix
race: Werebeast - Raven
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Female
player: AntarcticRomantic


Bjorn Thorburn
alias: Úlfhéðnar
race: Werebeast - European Black Wolf
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Male
player: Luxura


Jack Fletcher
alias: Lazarus
race: Mephisto
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Male
player: Luxura


Seiko Shimazaki
alias: Kirin
race: Werebeast - Kirin
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Male
player: Legalrehab


Kenna Mac Amery
alias: Incendiu
race: Werebeast -
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Female
player: Leola_Asarai


Harrison Van Doren
alias: Dutch
race: Werebeast - Coyote
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Male
player: Group PC


Nascha
alias: Black Sun
race: Werebeast - Cougar
faction: Werebeasts
gender: Female
player: ashwynne


Holly Wilshire
alias: Gabriel
race: Human
faction: Templars - Blood Sister
gender: Female
player: Luxura


Jonah Lancaster
alias: Overseer
race: Human
faction: Templars - 84th Legion
gender: Male
player: CosmicDusk


René Troxler
alias: Ephemera
race: Human
faction: Templars - Engineer
gender: Male
player: AntarcticRomantic


Beau Desmarais
alias: Mathis
race: Human
faction: Templars - Persephone Project
gender: Male
player: Leola_Asarai


Alexei Pavlovsky
alias: Cain
race: Human
faction: Templars - 84th Legion
gender: Male
player: Luxura


Theodore Fairchild
alias: Cain
race: Human
faction: His
gender: Male
player: leviathan


Olivia Baynes
alias: Raphael
race: Human
faction: Templars - Blood Sister
gender: Female
player: CosmicDusk


Dominick Durham
alias: Goliath
race: Human
faction: Templars - 84th Legion
gender: Male
player: Crazy Trey-n


SÉGOLÈNE GENDRON
alias: Jeanne D'Arc
race: Human
faction: Templars - Blood Sisters
gender: Female
player: nighteyes
 
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AntarcticRomantic

【100% 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔠𝔥】
Maeve Donovan
Phoenix
health bar
WHERE: The Brass Canine
WITH: Herself
DOING: People watching
CREDIT:
PLAYLIST:

Heavy on the air was the scent of spices and seafood all along the streets while food was prepared for the final meal of the day. The sky was a deep shade of cool violet with the coming of night, and birdsong was on the air while they sang their goodbyes to the sun. All around the city, people were taking off their sunglasses, lowering their parasols, and breathing deeply of the cooling, humid air. The people of New Orleans bustled around the streets making their way for supper or evening entertainment around the Vieux Carré.

He was following her again. He didn’t have to, and the giant brute knew it, but it was rare the Viking wasn’t in her shadow any more. Rarely was there chance for solitude, let alone a chance for loneliness to come creeping through. It was bad enough they’d spent months together, living in close quarters, then in separate ones, once she’d claimed ownership of Maverick Tailor’s and the apartment above. However, if there was an opportunity to escape, if she was slick enough to give him the slip, he’d knew where she’d slink off to stave off the chill.

Still, Maeve wandered away from the Tailor’s for the day with Bjorn in tow. They didn’t speak as words from the other were more often than not abrasive these days. At least, it certainly was from her. She’d been more irritable with him and hardened by their recent past. Every time she closed her eyes she could see the streets of Cheapside burning; beasts, vampires, and Mephisto alike in ashes littering the road like refuse the Templars tossed away. Still, the fires that day set alight burned passionately in her chest. They’d never see her coming once she knew how to strike.

Maeve was glad to end the day at the Brass Canine, but before she could turn to Bjorn to ask if he were interested in going, whether she liked it or not, she heard the heavy pounding of running down the street towards them.

The blonde turned on her heel, prepared to defend herself, as she looked behind them and stared into the distance. She hesitated, scarcely believing the vision in front of her. “Ber… Bernardo? she whispered. Her muscles eased at the sight of the familiar beast.

She took off to meet her old friend, thrilled at the happy reunion, but as she came closer and the wind shifted, she slowed to halt. The scent on the breeze was no mistake. Serum. Her emerald eyes widened and began to fill with tears, and the Ravenwoman shuddered. “Jack?”

It didn’t make any amount of sense. Those were certainly Bernardo’s thin, tall legs, his sculptural jawline and nose, his soft eyes. But the scent couldn’t deceive her, and if she could smell Serum, then there was only one person in the world who would have the body of her dearest friend she’d seen off well over a decade before.

Taking the last few steps to reach him, she swallowed hard and forced the tears back. Her glassy eyes looked him over as his knees gave in. He avoided her gaze at first, but with no small amount of reluctance eventually met it. Taking a half a step more, she reached out and grazed the cheek of the stolen form with the palm of her hand. He whispered to her with the tailor’s voice and begged for her to help him.

Tears flooded her eyes and ran openly over her cheeks. “Help you? How? How did this even happen?” She sniffed through a sob, and wiped the tears away— an effort in futility. The Ravenwoman knelt before him and gathered his false face in her palms. “You were supposed to protect him. Protect you both! Who did this to you?” He didn’t need to say it. She knew. It was always the same, they were always at the heart of it.

Maeve leaned her forehead against her fallen friend’s head, and whispered softly a solemn goodbye to the lost beast. Pulling away, she sighed heavily, a weight in her chest lifting ever-so-lightly away. She was angry, however, but not at the man before her who had failed in the single charge she’d given him. It wasn’t a fair fight he’d lost, but one that had the scales tipped out of their favor for long enough.

Her hands slipped from around his face, and went to his hands. She stood and pulled him up with her, and into her arms. Maeve held Jack close, shivering though it wasn’t cold, and silently swore an oath to purge the Earth of the spineless lot who’d dared called themselves warriors of God.

In her arms she felt him quake, a surge of emotion as he trembled. He begged her for an explanation, for identity. He apologized and promised he’d done as she’d charged him. But there was little that could be done now. Her heart was broken for her kin, for the lives lost in London because of the spiteful lost Mephisto Queen. And for that crime, the Ravenwoman had commanded an end to all those under that hateful reign. A plague that she would not see carried into the far reaches of the Americas had somehow found its way here: it bore the face of a brother and soul of his lover. “I know. I wouldn’t expect any less of you.”

Righting Jack out of her grasp, she wiped the tears from her own eyes before wiping away his. Somehow his melancholic nature suited Bernardo’s handsomely grim countenance. It was all too horribly fantastic for her tastes, yet here it was. “You want to know what you are?” she asked quietly before heaving an exasperated chuckle. "You're a freak of nature twice over, Fletcher. Get used to it."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------​

Eyes glowed in the darkness. The maw was filthy with gore and viscera of a recent kill; its exposed teeth, grim. Maeve could feel the heat from its breath, could smell the rancorous, nauseating stench with each exhale behind the bared fangs. The unidentifiable beast lashed out. She awoke with a start, her hand reached for her throat prepared to rip the muzzle from her flesh. Nothing. Nothing but the humid air alive with the hum of cicadas on the evening breeze accompanied with steady gentle snores of the last in a series of bedchamber conquests that afternoon.

The sun had just begun to set, dusk was starting to steep through the horizon. But she had done it again. It’d become a habit to seek refuge in Le Repaire de Velours when unease began to creep in. Companionship and exerting her energy into a different sin kept others at bay. Or, at least, that was her intention. It was difficult to remember the transgressions when lost to the grasp of a lover, or two… or five. The sleeping Grizzly-kin next to her was the last one she’d had that afternoon, but none of them were fully satisfying, nor were they dull. They simply couldn’t fill the seething, ever-expanding abyss that hunted her.

“Shit,” she murmured through a groan. She passed a hand through her cream-colored locks as she sat up. Her other hand held the bedsheet over her exposed chest while her eyes scanned the floor for her camisole. She found it, slipped out of the bed soundlessly, and reached for the gossamer article of clothing. Maeve pulled it over her head and over her torso. For the next few minutes, she continued to clothe herself from the strewn about undergarments she’d lost over time, but as always her topmost layers were well maintained.

“You don’t have to go, mon cheri, ” a soft voice whispered to her from the bed.

Her head turned to meet the warm honey eyes of the werebeast that had been sleeping next to her. Maeve smiled affectionately at her before strolling up to the well-bundled young woman. “I can’t stay, either,” she answered while her lips grazed the corner of her bedfellow’s ear, her nose tickled by the woman’s deep mahogany hair. “I’ll be back, and I know who to ask for dessert.” Maeve winked at the woman who returned it with a coy grin. She finished dressing, left a few bills behind, and departed from the room.

Downstairs, the evening’s events were just beginning. A Beast on piano played alongside a trumpeter to a deep swaying tune. The performance hall was already filling with the typically nearly all-male audience awaiting the entertainment of burlesque displays. Maeve rolled eyes while she moved through the growing crowd. A few of the bordello’s staff stopped her along the way, and she chatted with a few of them and guests as well. It was becoming problematic the familiarity she was gaining with them, let alone with the city itself. While forced smiles and fake composure she continued to fight her way out into the thick air outside. She heaved a sigh of relief to finally be out of the madness before the show began and the crowd, heavy with drink, would become a rowdy mess. Even though she’d witnessed a number of them herself, she preferred private performances. The blonde didn’t feel the irritation of having to deal with the typical idiocy some of the shows invited during those times.

She strolled down the street, passing through the evening crowd. She could smell the variety of people mixed on the street, openly conversing about themselves: mortals, humans, and beasts. They spoke about their lives, their shared professions, politics of New Orleans law, and dozens of other topics all equally mundane and normal. While she listened in passing, she crossed her arms over her chest. The ease of the city by comparison of everything else she’d ever known was confusing but pleasant. It put her more on edge than living in New Londontown ever did.

It was another fifteen minutes before she made it to the The Brass Canine, and sky was glittering with the stars that could break through the light permeating the street. She walked inside the jazz bar, the brass band in full swing and attracting more people by the moment off the street inside. Before long it would be packed with people, but for now, it was the early crowd. Maeve walked up to the bar, sat on a stool and exchanged pleasantries with the bartender. They’d become familiar with her over the last few weeks, and quickly set about making the buxom blonde whiskey on the rocks. Gingerly, she sipped from the glass and turned her back to the bar.
 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Jack Fletcher
alias: LAZARUS
health bar
WHERE: Back alleyways
WITH: Alone
DOING: Fisticuffs
CREDIT: LainValentine
PLAYLIST:


He blinked, eyes half-lidded as he breathed in deeply. The bar around him rang, bounced off the walls of his ears, but somehow he felt as if he was underwater. The drink in his hand was empty, finished long ago… How long had he been sitting here? Curiously, he turned the glass over into his palm to examine the cut crystal mirages reflected in the artificial light.
To his left, his vampire companion, Esther Asturias, giggled like an amused child as a young man flirted with her, twisting himself around to lean on the bar, coy and cool. Jack’s jaw shifted in annoyance, a heavy sigh escaping him.
Closing his eyes, he began to stand. All the ruckus was irritating the ache at the back of his skull. Leaning down he went to whisper in Esther’s ear but thought better of it. She would be fine, and he’d rather be alone. If she knew he was leaving he wouldn’t get to experience any of the respites he required.

His skin drank in the warm, humid air of the street. Dusk, almost twilight. Almost like the sun had never returned. His hands fished in his pockets for a vice; a pearly cigarette case and matches. It was a filthy habit Jack had not partaken in since he was a mortal adolescent, so many years ago. He had picked it back up when his feet touched American soil, though he hadn’t quite figured out why. Perhaps, it was a means to fit into the crowd or to keep himself occupied from his racing mind. Regardless of the deeper meaning, he didn’t mind the flavour of quality tobacco. So what if they will kill you? What did it matter? He was already a corpse.

His feet carried him without purpose down the darkened New Orleans street, soft music and conversation floating through the alleyways as he passed. As the flame ignited the end of his cigarette, he swore he saw a figure in the distance, just out of sight… of golden hair. Jack paused, feeling a sickness building quickly in his stomach. He dropped the cigarette, jogging toward the apparition.
He’d spent eight weeks on a boat, and five more months making his way down the eastern coast by train and foot. Making his way closer to that whisper, that utter of a name...Maverick. He began to sweat at the very thought of her being another phantom of his mind.

As Jack’s long, lean legs brought him closer, he could even smell her. Memories rocked him, making him stumble as he winced. The smell of hot Irish whiskey and campfire smoke. The wet dew and carnival songs. He could even feel the sharpness of her nails as they traced the lines of his palms. Jack shuddered and slowed, breathing heavily.
Since awakening on that cold steel tabletop in the floating sky fortress, inhabiting the body of his beloved, Jack’s mind was barely his own. Difficult to comprehend, harder still to explain; Jack’s memories became simply knowledge. He could no longer conjure pictures in his mind’s eye from his life. He simply knew those moments like one memorizes their arithmetic. Simply knowledge, nothing more. What memories he possessed were not his own, but Bernardo’s. Vivid and so forceful that they would have a physical effect every time one flashed across his vision. After nearly a year he still had no idea how to control them.

Jack rounded the corner. It was her, he was close enough to tell. She walked with that cocky swagger no matter where she roamed. He didn’t care to the large brute that followed. It was Maeve. She turned and he pursed his lips as she smiled; a half-hearted smirk returned in kind. Maybe he could just let her believe it was true… Would living a lie make the pain any less bitter?
His feet carried him closer. He was at the precipice of his journey and his knees could barely hold him as exhaustion settled in. His smile began to falter as her visage blurred in his sights,
“Jack?”
A sob threatened to escape him. She knew…. And he couldn’t. He wouldn’t live that lie.

Jack found the last thread of courage he had to look up and meet her in the eyes, but despite every scenario, he had played out over the months… He couldn’t find the words to say. Hesitating long enough to affirm her suspicions, he finally parted his lips to ask the only thing he could,
“Help me.”

At the softness of her caress, he felt a release, a violent shudder as everything let go. His shoulders quaked as tears seemed to flood like they were endless, never leaving her eyes as he slipped further into despair.
She was within her rights to be in disbelief, to be angry. He expected to feel the crisp heat of her open palm across his cheek but she grasped him tenderly. He could barely get a breath in, all the questions making memories not his own swirl behind his eyes,
“What am I?” he begged of her, “What have I become?”

She pulled him to his feet, but he crumpled against her, curling himself as a sob wrenched itself from his resolve,
“I’m sorry.” he whispered, “I fought for him… till my last breath.”


Despite all that had happened, Jack was amazed day in and day out by his own ability to awaken. He should have been dead. But, this life was not a dream. It was a grotesquely torturous nightmare, and it was real.

Over one hundred years he sifted through life with no light, daydreaming on wives tales for a sun that was more myth than legend, only for the world to spit it out once he was gone. To think that this wicked world had the gall to take everything from him, including the prospect of seeing the first dawn. He spent every day since his resurrection starring with empty eyes into the horizon, watching blindly as the large orb would set, returning him to the twilight darkness he had only ever known.

This night was no exception. Despite his perchance at sleep, Jack continued to avoid that necessary evil lest he was to relive horrific nightmares through his lover’s eyes--the very thing he had done many times against his will each and every time he succumbed to rest. Instead, somewhere between alive and dead, awake and asleep, Jack numbly watched the day turn to dusk outside the window of the Maverick study.
Maeve was rarely ever occupying its space, and so the large home was mostly left to Jack. It left him bitter that the Maverick name would haunt him here, the walls and empty halls enclosed around him, just as the tailor’s shop in New Londontown had done to Bernardo so many years ago. He needed to escape.

Avidly avoiding every mirror and reflection as he meandered the house, Jack gathered himself for his nightly routine. Nimble fingers selecting the shirt, matching to the trousers without a second glance. When it came to certain activities, Jack found a second nature to his body that must have been Bernardo’s muscle memory. It came as no surprise that anything to do with his wardrobe would be one of those moments where a phantom guided his hands. If there was any comfort in it all, Jack had to admit that he found those moments endearing.
As he slipped his trenchcoat over his shoulders he caught a familiar set of eyes staring back at him in the entryway mirror. Normally, he would have averted his gaze immediately, but for a brief moment, the Mephisto took a soft pause. In the silence he released a breath, his body slowly relaxing, shoulders drooping, jaw loosening. He barely recognized himself… Well, Bernardo. The darkness around his eyes, the skin so much thinner, paler. If he tried, he could almost see what he used to look like, in happier times. Had his eyes always been so black, so void of life?
And just like that, a snap. Brows furrowed, jaw tightened, body coiling up tight. He grabbed his keys and met the dewy autumn night.

There was a quaint, quiet jazz bar on the opposite end of Frenchman Street Jack had become fond of over the last week. It was petite, dimly lit, and the music wasn’t as offensive as some of the other bars along the same rue. He’d rather his feet be taking him there this night, but alas, Meave had convinced him to try The Brass Canine. By ‘try’, she meant ‘meet her there, or else’. Seeing as how she did give him a home, he thought it better to do as she asked.

Taking his usual shortcut down the side alleyways, Jack kept is collar high and head low. This was the prime time of evening for his old vampire brethren to seep out of the shadows.
Jack used to never attract attention, and he preferred it that way. But with this transformation, he was suddenly too different to ignore. Maeve had tried to explain to him that it was the scent of him. And though that may have been true, Jack also knew that it was something more. Something beyond this world. The ticking of his broken clockwork heart, the echoes of a beast in his blood, mingled with the decay of a corpse who should have stayed down. He truly was a walking cocktail of mystery. And many people didn’t like what they could not understand.

The Mephisto heard them behind him a block back, heels on stone that clicked hypnotically off the brick walls. They whispered to themselves discrete vulgarities at his expense, and Jack could feel an ire itching at the back of his neck.
He slowed his pace, the group of vampire blokes behind him snickering as they caught up, while another two closed the path before him.

“‘Ello guvnuh!” one of them mocked from behind, and the gaggle cackled like gulls. Jack stopped and turned back to assess how many he was working with. He quickly counted 5 heads… and that was just one too many. He cursed under his breath as his fingertips found his holster empty. He had left his pistol on the entry credenza, forgotten in his ill-begotten staring match with himself.
“We are having a competition, you see?” the kid who spoke before sauntered forward, “Now I got money on you being a beast, but my friends here think you’re a leech. So which is it?”
Jack’s eyes narrowed, finding he was running out of options but to reply, “Neither.”
The boys groaned, agitated in disappointment. Jack’s eyes flicked between each of them but settled back on the leader, who clearly was the most irked,
“Well that’s not going to cut it, Limey. See, none of us want to be out on their dollars, so there ought to be at least one winner here.”
The slightest glint caught Jack’s eye, the reflection of light off a pocket knife. The group behind him had closed in, edging up on what he considered personal space,
“Well,” Jack almost felt a twinge of a smirk, “I suppose it will be me, then.” With that statement he grabbed the nearest bloke and slugged him across the jaw, shoving him back into the group.

They were on him in a moment, surrounded and snarling with hunger. There was no way he could take on a swarm of vampires, however inexperienced and clumsy they were, the numbers didn't add up. They held him down as he struggled, but his trenchcoat was like a straightjacket, only aiding their grabbing hands.
A fist to the jaw, blackjack to the knee. Jack spit the coppery blood in his mouth and closed his eyes. Maybe this was how he would finally end--in the same manner he had first met Bernardo in; overwhelmed by a pack of vampire ruffians in a back London alley.

Twistedly, Jack chuckled at the irony. Some things never change.




 
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legalrehab

definitely /not/ a weeb
S E I K O
島崎清子
alias: Kirin
health bar
WHERE: Back Alleyways
WITH: Jack Fletcher
DOING: Playing Offense
CREDIT:
Inesanemona
PLAYLIST: Winter's Nocturne

Another day passed at La Perle, he had just finished covering the bread dough for it to proof overnight. New Orleans was a much easier place to navigate when her people are full of coffee and bread in the morning, and though they would never know it they had him to thank for that. The idea of an immortal who has lived hundreds of years working behind a kitchen counter may have been embarrassing for some. Yet he didn’t mind it. It felt nice to still act human and stay grounded to the earth around him. After spending centuries alive he learned two things. One, history can and will always repeat itself so he must enjoy the peace when he can. Two, having something to work for made the monotony of living more suffer-able.

His hands reached behind is back as he undid the tie of an apron, others were still finishing closing up but Seiko had already completed his work. He turned to another chef as he neatly folded his apron, “Before I forget, I’ve mixed in some chicory to the coffee blend for tomorrow. I heard our competitor is doing much of the same-“ He threw his jacket over his shoulder, and grabbed his most recently purchased katana from his locker much to the ire of his coworkers. He waved goodbye with a whimsy motion. “Au revoir, friends~”

Seiko wasn’t in New Orleans long before he found work. Upon his first day he found work as a chef at a modest (and mortal-owned) café, and while he may have fooled other humans it was no use against others of his kind. He stuck out for many reasons : being immortal, being a foreigner, his body of work, still carrying swords in this age (let alone it being katana). The list could go on but most of all it was his age. It was not his appearance that made him old, no he still looked quite young, but his breed of were beast. Stag werebeasts like him were thought to have died out centuries ago and most have never met one. He couldn’t help but feel a little intrigued by the faces the customers would make to see a presence such as his serving them meals should they know his secrets. He would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy the attention just a little bit.

One beast can always tell another, it was for that reason that upon meeting Maeve Donovan he was offered mercenary work. Unfortunately, even someone with enough prestige as him was not a stranger to debt and he owed quite a high bill for his travel costs to bring him to American soil, along with the excess of money required to keep his travels here a secret. So he accepted her offer, as well as modest living conditions in an upstairs studio with a Nordic were beast known as Bjorn. He still maintained this job through it all, as there are not always wars to be fought – but there is always going to be bills that must be paid.

As his shift at La Perle ended, another job began, and as he walked to the Brass Canine and took in the beauty of New Orleans at night. The lamplighters made their way across the streets, the sounds of cicadas and jazz filled his ears, and a spring followed his step. He felt happy, things seemed to be at peace. Though as always he immediately felt guilty for being cheerful. It just never felt safe to feel happy, “Why can’t I just say that I’m happy today?” he muttered to himself, doing his best to force a smile. It was bittersweet, all the lovely feelings were always followed by the shame of past mistakes and opportunities missed. Just as quick as it came, the spring in his step was gone and began the war of within his mind telling him to enjoy himself and also telling him that is not allowed.

Though the turmoil within his head was brought to an immediate halt. Interrupted by a gasp for help, he heard the kick of a boot, the percussion of skin against skin, and the brandishing of knives in the air. Upon him was a group of rascals. They were young, he’d guess them to be anywhere from fifteen to early twenties, and green vampires every one of them. They were harassing an older man and pulling on his trench coat to bring him down to the dirt, the older man was outnumbered.

Though their victim was no ordinary man Seiko would soon learn. He questioned himself, there was no way this older man could be deserving of the pummeling he was receiving. He could take them, they would be an easy match - but could he kill them? Of course, it would be child’s play.

With a grunt, he unsheathed his Katana and drove it into the heart of his enemy. He sunk the blade down to the hilt until the weight of his chest was upon his hands. Seiko turned and kicked the body off of the blade, he was clumsy however and pierced the blade through the spine on the way out, surely dulling the blade. He did not let this stop him, he brandished the katana among the remaining four, without a word he beckoned for them to seek vengeance for their fallen comrade. He took this time to briefly study their faces, it was a point to make sure to never forget the face of someone who’s life was about to end. Above all, he noticed the older man who had been assaulted by them. He looked as though he had given up, he made no attempt to flee or fight back once grounded - no fight left in him to fight.

A sort of frenzied panic took over the remaining four - they were expecting to fight, but not expecting death. A primal fury rose upon each of them, Seiko embraced this and charged into them. Two of the older rascals drew knives, and Seiko disarmed them both - metaphorically and literally as their hands fell to the ground. He roared in fury and sliced his katana at full force in a slashing motion to behead them both. Their heads slid off their necks slowly and sloppily.

He sensed the panic in the eyes of his remaining targets, but would not let them get away. Seiko charged at the oldest of them, he had readied a pistol and fired only for Seiko to duck below the shot and then sweep his legs out from under him. As the body fell to the ground he let out a battle cry and drove his katana downwards to pierce the heart of the oldest vampire. A bead of cold sweat broke as he did so, as when the katana steel hit the ground he felt it shatter amongst the cobblestone. Seiko believed in using all of his strength, even when fighting lowly thugs like these and unfortunately, it showed. He brought up what was left of his katana back to him, the remainder of the blade permanently staked into the ground pinning the corpse like a skewer.

That katana had seemed to be to good to be true, “I should know better than to buy something on sale,” he thought to himself. He shook this off then marched in front of the defenseless man and held the broken blade up in defense at the last vampire, who held a small ornate butterfly knife in defense.

You!” Seiko exclaimed at the youngest of them all, he couldn’t have been a day over 14. The young bloke held his small knife in his hands, the fear caused his muscles to spasm so much it would be only a matter of seconds before he dropped it on his own. Seiko could smell the piss running down young one’s leg in fear, yet he did not break his gaze. His eyes burned into his opponents as he took small steps, the closer he came to him the more ferocious the trembling of the embarrassed boy became.

That knife you’re holding, it was a gift wasn’t it?” Seiko spoke, “I can tell, who ever gave it to you meant for you to protect yourself…” He continued to step closer, “They were worried someone might come along, someone faster, stronger, and more… experienced. They were worried you wouldn’t be able to hold your own, am I right?” He stopped moving, and readying the leftover shrapnel of a blade to strike. “The handle is engraved even, they cared pretty deeply for you, huh? Are you prepared to meet them? Did you think your life was going to end so soon?” Seiko aimed for the target’s head, and silently brought down his arms in one fell swoop. The katana brought his head clean off his shoulders, it rolled around to the streets leaving a river of blood in its wake.

Or at least, it would have were it not broken.

A display knife won't get you far,” The sword missed his head with near perfect precision as a few of his eyelashes fell to the ground, freshly cut. Seiko sheathed his sword and marched right up to him. He brought this anonymous man to his chest and clasped his hands around his, pressing down his thumbs to close the switchblade altogether. “I won’t have you disappoint them any more than you already have, go home to them now. Should I see you out here again I will send you to them myself, understood?

The young man finally unclenched his eyelids, filled with tears and his face now a sobbing mess. Without a word he nodded and sprinted away, his hands still clenched at his chest. Seiko thought to himself, a vampire that young could do a lot more for the world alive than dead. However the other ones were old enough to know better, nothing he said could have saved them and the world would not miss them.

He turned to the beaten man, “Hey… you okay?” The smell permeated his nostrils instantly- whoever this man was he certainly was just as different as those thugs stated. “I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like you,” Seiko paused, he wasn’t about to pressure him for information he just refused. Though, should he leave him here he would just be an easy target for someone else to finish the job.

He lifted the man’s arm around his shoulder and helped him stand. He felt the muscles of his arms in his grasp, the man was definitely capable of handling his own, had he truly just given up? As he stood him up he looked over him to assess any damage. “They didn’t get you too bad, and most importantly, that blow to the jaw didn’t mark your face.” He said with a smile. “Where are you headed? I can’t just leave you here…“ Seiko never worked for free, but this was not the time to discuss it. He wasn’t even sure if this man had a single coin on him, but perhaps whoever was looking for him would carry a full purse.

“The Brass Canine?” He found the coincidence almost too convenient. His long time on this world made him aware that fortune worked in mysterious ways, and wondered how long the red string of fate may go between them. He made up Jack’s mind for him and started to walk “We’ll go together, my friend… I’m pretty thirsty myself. Tell me, do you have a name?”

 
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Kenna Mac Amery
Incendiu
health bar
WHERE: Frenchman Street
WITH: A Stranger
DOING: Running
CREDIT: Olivier Ponsonnet
PLAYLIST: Coming Soon


Night was starting to settle in the street, the cool air lingering around, but not enough to stifle the clinging humidity. People moved about the streets, some walking to head for home, others just beginning their evening festivities. It was the perfect time to move around the streets without causing enough of a stir. People much too concerned and distracted with their own evening plans, enough so that a young girl strolling alone would not stir a suspicious gaze.

At a quick glance, the girl could pass for being older than she was. The toll of her harder years weighing down more than they should, giving the illusion that she’d seen more years than she had. If she were looked upon more intently, then perhaps people would see, but for now, she was glad for just slipping by unnoticed.

Staying in one place for too long was never an option for Kenna. True, she lingered around the streets of New Orleans and didn’t go far out of the city, but she made it as difficult as she could for narrowing down her exact location. There were those that lurked and followed, and she knew the outcome of recklessness. Although she had a great desire for hunting whoever they were down, she did not want to be taken out in the process. So instead she moved constantly. Avoiding and always having a plan in mind of where she was going. She never stayed in one place for more than a couple nights, it made her uneasy.

Kenna leant against the edge wall of the closest building, her eyes scanning the people walking around her. She ripped apart some pieces of bread from a bread she had lifted at the marketplace earlier in the day. Savouring the very few bites she had, it would satisfy her enough until later. It really wasn’t a lot, after a few mouthfuls she was done. There hadn’t been a decent opportunity to get more without being caught, so the little food she had would have to do it until she found another chance. Some days it was easier than others. It was better than having nothing at all. The teen had become accustomed to it, knowing her body enough to know how and when to conserve her energy.

A job was something she had considered, and opportunities had arisen a few times, but they never seemed to pan out well enough. Being locked down to one place made her uncomfortable, and just the idea of it elicited panic in her head. Kenna was at a loss of who to trust, and it seemed more comfortable to linger on the streets trusting no one and merely taking the things she needed than to put her in a situation that put the focus on her and constrained her to one place. So long as she could lift food without being noticed too much, running and hiding from people was a much safer option.

Kenna’s eyes scanned the streets. She hadn’t been back to this particular area of the city for a while, and though specific landmarks seemed familiar, she still had trouble figuring the best way to go. She pushed herself off the wall and kept moving. As her feet pushed her forward, her eyes scanned the buildings around her. What she needed was a better vantage point. Glancing around, everyone was too busy to notice or to care what she was doing, so she slipped behind a building. Making a quick judgement, and with a last wary glance around, she scaled the side of it.

It had taken Kenna awhile to garner the skills needed to climb the sides of buildings, but she had made a habit of it enough to know where to place her feet and hands to gain a better grasp as she manoeuvred her body up buildings. Grasping at pipes, columns, windowsill or balcony, she hoisted herself up. There had been a few occasions where she had slipped, even worse times when people had caught her, but apart from a stern yelling at, she never stuck around long enough to deal with the consequences. Was it reckless being so obviously out of place on a rooftop, of course, however, it did give her a sense of security being so high. She knew where she stood, and it was also less likely for someone to drop in over her.

Keeping herself steady, she walked along the roof, keeping herself low so not to draw any attention to herself. The lowering light made it easier, but it didn’t always giver her an advantage, for people were still more accustomed to the darkness. Though the sun had returned, and they had embraced its warm glow, the night was most people’s comfort zone.

She had made it over a building of two, her eyes keeping off in the distance, heading for a building she knew she could hide out in through the night, without too much worry until the sun would rise again. Balancing for Kenna was never a question of skill, she had always just been very good at keeping steady, but issues could arise with the slated tiles in which she walked upon. A few tiles that were looser than she had been expecting slipped from beneath her foot. She managed to catch herself before falling off the edge of the roof, but what Kenna had not caught were the tiles themselves. She watched in dread as they slipped over the side, wincing at the shattering sound below. Her eyes glanced for barely a moment over the edge to see if it had just been the street they had landed on, or if she had managed to take out any patrons on the sidewalk.

Glancing down, there had not been enough time to assess if the huge brute of a man had been hit with tile or if it had merely fallen before him, all she did know was that at the moment she had peeked down, he had looked up. Her head ducked back, wide-eyed in fright as she scrambled back over the roof, knocking a couple more tiles off in her haste.

So much for being low key. Mentally kicking herself Kenna knew she couldn’t stay on the roof, but she also feared going back to the ground, lest he came after her. She wasn’t stupid enough to think she could take a man so much larger than herself, her only hope was to be quick or pray that he had made the decision not to follow her.

Kenna made it to the other side of the building, slipping down a column as swiftly but as gracefully as she could. She worried less about other people seeing her now and was more concerned about getting away unscathed. This is not how Kenna had intended her evening to go. She had just wanted to find a place to rest and get some sleep.

Darting past a few surprised faces on the street, shocked after appearing beside them almost out of thin air, her feet kept moving. She wasn’t going to be sticking around any longer than she had to. Crowds were starting to pick up, people heading out for their evening of jazz and drinking as she made her way past the bars and clubs, slipping past people as swiftly as possible, trying to not piss anyone else off in the process.



 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Harrison Van Doren
Dutch
health bar
WHERE: The Brass Canine
WITH: Maeve Donovan
DOING: Making Small Talk
CREDIT: Exile0403
PLAYLIST:
From under the shadow cast by the brim of his hat, beastly honey eyes narrowed. They flicked around quickly, eyeing each player around the small table before sneaking a look at the worn cards between his fingers. Satisfied, he nodded to the dealer and turned his attention to lighting his cigar. Soft inhales of the rolled tobacco bloomed billowing smoke around the young man’s face as he breathed the scent in deeply. The taste of burnt, fermented plant matter always seemed to ease him into a state of bliss.
The last few weeks had been taxing. The weather had been unpleasant, finding affordable lodging was still an issue, and he needed a lead on work while keeping his head down. Fortunately, he overheard a possible gig with a cane harvest north of the city, so there was at least some opportunities on his horizon. It could be just like old times… Simpler times.

Through the soft haze two more cards were lazily flicked towards his hand, but he paid them no mind. The band revved up to play another round, and for the first time in a couple hours the kid noticed how busy it had become. Bustling of tables and glassware, laughter and conversation rising above the ambient music, the warm air becoming thick with humidity.
Dutch had only been in New Orleans since last night, but he was already well aware of the reputation the city held for being a misfit haven. Skirting his gaze around The Brass Canine, he could say with certainty that this was just the right sort of shanty for his ilk. Scents all mingled together, the preference for beast or vampire becoming lost to the many different ethnic bloods that filled the space. He could blend in here well enough, hide from prying eyes.

Finally, he drew himself back to the game before him, tossing a couple chips into the pile and retrieving the cards handed to him. From his position in the corner of the bar he could see every single person--just the way he liked it. Nothing at his back but his own shadow.
So, it wasn’t easy to ignore when the buxom blonde entered through the front door. The aura of the room gradually began to change, the werebeast’s ears picking up every detail while he reviewed his hand casually. From his peripheral vision he could see her outline at the bar, talking up the bartender while the whispers of her title escaped loose lips.

Maeve Donovan. Dutch had heard her name only in passing. The stories of war across the ocean were common knowledge in America, and they certainly had their fair share of wars too. How could anyone forget Micah O'Brien? The lieutenant of the vampire army here in America had been a skilled officer and would be remembered fondly by his people… It was a shame that not one beast could come to the Cowboy’s mind in quite the same way.
Regardless, he didn’t know enough about her to warrant an opinion… But every other person in the establishment could. The breathy murmurs and soft whispers made Dutch shift uncomfortably. Like little devils in his ear their words wormed their way in, threatening to create false pretenses.

“Eh,”
The Cowboy tilted his head, brow raised towards his gambling cohorts,
“You in, or what?”
Dutch rolled his shoulders with a grunt, “Yeah, I’m in.” his reply gruff with distracted annoyance.

He began to gather himself as the others revealed their hands one at a time,
“You ain’t stayin’?”
He cast his own hand face up onto the table with a casual flick of his wrist, revealing a royal flush. He ignored their groans with a tip of his hat, to take his leave with all the winnings. They wouldn’t want him to stick around anyhow.
Besides, he had something else in mind…

“This seat taken?” he inquired softly.
Sliding up to the bar, Dutch leaned on the countertop next to the blonde, but not so close as to invade her personal space.
He eyed the liquor in her glass, catching the potent aroma. A curious smirk crossed his lips, and he grabbed the bottle from behind the counter while the bartender cleaned glassware absentmindedly. Turning the bottle in his hand, the label weathered from age, he raised a brow-- impressive stuff. Irish, so naturally it would be quality.

Just out of the corner of his eye he caught Maeve watching. The beast couldn’t help but flash a cheeky grin, taking a quick sip right from the bottle before placing it back. The liquid was fiery, coarse in it’s burn around his tongue. But there was something about it… something good,
“Hm, not bad,” Dutch nodded before signalling the attention of the tender, “Four Roses, straight.”
As the glass of amber liquor was placed before him, he immediately slid it towards Maeve, “I think you might find this to your liking. A pure American classic.”

He watched her with keen interest, pulling the cigar from his lips as he did so, “So, are the rabblers true? You sure know how to stir a room.”


 
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CosmicDusk

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[div=text-align: center][div class=tag2]CECILE BELLEROSE[/div][/div]


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[div class=tag3]RACE[/div] VAMPIRE


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[div class=tag3]ALIAS[/div] EMBER


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[div class=tag3]PLAYER[/div] CosmicDusk


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[div class=tag3]WHERE[/div] LA LUNE


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[div class=tag3]DOING[/div] PROVING HER POINT


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[div class=tag3]WITH[/div] A BEHEADED CORPSE


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is


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Charcoal and parchment lay across one table, sketches and diagrams strewn all over. While Cecile was never one to make mistakes, she preferred to draft her creations. Trials and errors were better tested on parchment than metal, especially in reducing any mistakes that may occur on metal. She never dared to waste her materials, no matter how accurate and cautious she may be. It also offered her opportunity for changes should any arise and should they interest her. The forge was home, and one might even say she was homesick. There was nothing better than the scorching heat, the songs of metals to soothe this illness. With steady hands, Cecile lifted the tongs, bringing the metal piece onto the anvil as the other hand reached for a forming tool. The metal bubbled white as she twisted and flipped the piece over and over again, smooth motions flowing with ease as it began to shape to her design.




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Her heart was at ease once more.




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⚒⚒⚒




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Water trickled down from loose ends, pattering onto the creamy white tiles. Ebony strands clung to snow white skin in attempt to retain what little warmth was left from the bath. Cecile matted down her hair against a plush towel, ignoring the chill seducing her with each step away from the tub. A soft melody escaped from her lips, fingers kneading through the towel as she peered over the latest newspaper. Very little interested her if it did not involve her work. That didn't mean she was ignorant of the world outside of her own. Keeping tabs kept her sane, just as much as the fire did. She needed more resources, more time with her forge, but as of late, she tended to other matters as well to keep her occupied, lest she drown in her grievances. They taunted her, Kestrel's last words to her. Every piece of her body prayed he had just kept his mouth shut instead, but the Leech King had to have the last words before he disappeared from her sight. Since his death, she contemplated on the truthness of his words, to find proof of such declarations. She unearthed very little in the past couple of years, searching, hoping. Who would have thought Kestrel would carry secrets to his grave?




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You mean to taunt me, my Liege. Even in your death.




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Cecile glided over the side of the bed where a single cup stood atop the nightstand. After collecting it into her hand, she took a sip, peering down at the solemn red before draining the remaining contents. She hardly indulged in blood wine, but since his passing, she found herself fond of the drink much as she did in the past. So fond, she only drank the wine when in the presence of another, particularly those whose mouths run a little more than she preferred. A silver glint caught the corner of her eye, she slowly turned to face the deteriorating corpse next to her. A pair of emerald jewels sat on her ears, almost as dull as the murky amber of her hair. She tossed the towel over the body, then stood with all her height. She grabbed for a simple dress that hung off the end of the bed, pushing the discarded garments out of her way. Another glass was poured, and while she drank, she eyed the woman again, a piece of ragged emblem clutched in her hand.




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"Il n'y avait rien de personnel, mon amour." She spoke, leaning over the side of the bed and gave the now dead woman a kiss. "Rien de personnel."




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A rustle of clothings stood by the door. The vampress didn't need to turn to see who it was. With a brisk nod of her head, the young vampire made work in cleaning up the mess. Cecile silently exited the room.




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Quick steps took her back to the main entrance, and the remodeled interior of her new home was amazing indeed. Gone were the brown rags, the moldy paintings, the dust-ridden statues, the carpets of murky white. It had taken Cecile nearly a week to tear everything apart and re-design the place. Of course, she hired on some helping hands to do the mop clean up; she made sure not a single person stepped in her way as she re-decorated to her more simpler taste. Gaudy statues that were once placed as a bold statement were now evenly and discreetly distributed as an accent in remote corners. Cherry wood floors sparkled by linear chandeliers above, colours of red and black splatter across the room as minimally as possible. Unlike her late Liege, Cecile basked in simple yet intricate designs, much like her own weapons. The building was vast and tall, and clearly needed a breath of fresh air after having been abandoned for quite some time. She was glad she found such a place, for it was easy to make it her own, adding to the blueprint as she pleased. Her most favourite was adding a forge in the back of course; second came the kitchen where she enjoyed a selection of whiskey and pastries. New Orleans had a much better stock of the finest drink, a simple habit that easily gained her more followers on foreign land. Still, finding herself where Kestrel once stood was something she never imagined, not in the longest. If anything, Cecile was forced to move her hand when a bunch of lackeys dared to try to touch her, demanding obscenities that even Kestrel would never, even when he was on opium. Her time in his service may have been short, but she held him in the highest regard, and she would be damned if someone tried to ridicule that.




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"Mistress."




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"Yes, Timothy?"




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"A group of vampires wishes to speak to you. On matters of court."




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She clicked her tongue. "Send them to the main hall."




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"Yes, Mistress."




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Faded footsteps retreated into the background. Since it became known she was the late Leech King's right-hand, vampires and others sought her attention. Some were favourable, others were arrogant. There hadn't been a day's peace, not while the sun rose and rested, not while Templars continued their crusade. She admired the White One's tenacity, but interest was erased with malice. The sound of distant voices caught her ear, and she let out a heavy sigh. She would make quick work of this meeting and return to her forge.




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In the adjacent room stood three males, each looked about close in age to one another, but it was obvious their bearings were vastly differ. Hair slicked back under fedoras, every inch of their skin coated in linens and frills. They were younger than Cecile, but she was never one to make her age known. If anything, most thought she was near Kestrel's age of six centuries, creating some sense of respect and dread for the blacksmith. Even without age, all knew of and feared her blade. She hoped these men wouldn't... arouse her need for blades.




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"How may I help you, gentlemen? You took quite the risk in coming this way."




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"For a pretty lass like you, I would walk to the ends of the earth." The other two vampires snickered. "But we come in peace, and with an offering."




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"Speak."




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Cecile loathed those who tried to flatter their way in. It was evident her indifference irked who she believed to be the head honcho of the trio, as there was no doubt of a clenched fist. She didn't make her observations known. For now, she would play along and hear their one-sided deal. Timothy brought over a glass of blood wine, which she dejectedly accepted but certain the emotion didn't appear on her smile. The gentlemen were offered a drink while they spoke. One of them seemed restless, switching from one leg to the other every few seconds, as if he was anxious about something. Her eyebrow arched as she took a sip, then sauntered her way towards the grand staircase that centered the room. The vampress perched herself atop a few steps, leering over the men as they followed, and somehow made themselves comfortable. Their demeanour much more relaxed than when they first arrived. The third lad, however, remained stiff.




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"Perhaps it would be ideal if you took us into your court. We can make you much more comfortable here."




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A ghost of a smirk kissed her lips, Cecile hid it behind another sip. "What services would you even provide?"




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The man tightened a fist again. "Well, as I stated earlier, weapons and resources—"




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"You mean to devalue my work?"




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"No! No, err. I mean—"




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She extended the glass back to Timothy, straightening herself up and approached the so-called alpha. "Then I must repeat, what services could you provide me? I do not lack the resources, nor the weapons, as you very well know my own works exceed any you will find." She circled him, then approached the quivering vampire who had not once met her gaze. "You lack the discipline in another's home. Here one of your own comrades shivers with fright. It makes one think you're here for something beyond offering a helping hand." As she spoke, her hand rested atop the boy's shoulder, who stiffened even further and began to stammer. "Why is this little one frightened? Has my company not been the most welcoming?"




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"N-n-n-n-nothing of the sort! I-I!"




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"He means no harm. He's just nervous meeting a pretty lass."




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"Oh? Somehow it appears to me that you mean to harm my court. Such frivolous beings as yourselves cannot really believe you have a chance to stand by my side?"




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"We intend to! By any means."




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"Even if it means bowing your heads to me?"




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It was clear it struck a nerve, the final low as the vampire charged for her. However, Cecile was quicker, astonishing him when he realized he grabbed a handful of his friend's hair, the yelp bringing him back to reality. His ears picked up movement from behind him, his reactions just as quick when a mop of brown hair settled in his catch. Bright claret oozed through his fingertips, only then did he realize the warmth came from underneath. Upon inspection of the item, he immediately tossed it out of his hands, tumbling on his feet backwards as the head rolled across the hall. Eyes bulged from its socket, tears and blood mingled as they trailed down his cheeks like paint. It finally dawned on the two lads that it was their third member, terrified eyes returning to the body that met the floor with a heavy thud. It twitched from the sudden separation, colour gradually diminishing to a grey beige as heels clicked next to it, fading away. A trail of red followed her, stopping temporarily by the stairs when Timothy approached with a towel in hand. Cecile gathered the thin material in her hand and cleaned off the warmth that stained her.



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"Now. Where were we?" She chuckled, sapphire eyes glowering dark.



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The remaining duo couldn't utter a word. Instead, they scuttled up on their feet and left through the main doors without so much another sound.



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ashwynne

🌧 pluviophile 🌧 art: peritwinkle
Moderator
Supporter
Nascha
Black Sun
health | bar
WHERE: The Brass Canine
WITH: Hopefully no one
DOING: Freaking out
CREDIT: @peritwinkle
PLAYLIST:
The last rays of sun were disappearing over the horizon. A few fingers of violet and orange still stretched over the indigo sky, but even those were swiftly fading. Still, the air remained warm and humid and Nascha wondered idly how much more humidity it would take before the fish rose from the bayous to swim through the air itself.

This climate was a far cry from the dry heat of the deserts in which her tribe had lived. She loved it. Every inhale carried scents unfamiliar to her; spiced foods, strange beasts, the hungry pheromones of the amorous, the pungent sweat of the fearful, all of it mixing headily until it nearly made her dizzy. It carried the promise of new things to learn. Better still, it brought back no memories of the tribe that had betrayed her.
Still, there were some things about the humidity and warmth that she was not quite as fond of. Namely, the way it caused her black hair to curl ever so slightly and sit damp and slick against her. This did not annoy her in and of itself, but with her hair pressed along the curves of her skin, she lost some of her ability to be unobtrusive. Case in point; a lone man—human and drunk by the smell of him—staggered abruptly into her path.

Ordinarily, Nascha remained invisible. Like the cougar that was her inner beast, she could haunt the streets and slip ghost-like between shadows. If she was seen, it was because she wished to be seen. Or because someone with keener eyes and a desire to find her peered keenly into the shadows she clothed herself with. And, apparently, once a certain threshold of drunkenness was passed, and her hair no longer shielded her face from scrutiny, she was made visible too.
“Sush a pretty thing like you on a night like this… Whatchoo doin’ ‘lone, sweet’eart?” he offered her a toothy smile, eyes wandering over her.
For a moment, Nascha considered snapping his neck.
“You ought to carry on your way, sir. Beasts roam at night,” she said in a voice as smooth and rich as honey, but the smile she offered was predatory—all teeth.
Even drunk, the man had enough sense of self-preservation to feel an instinctive fear and took a half-step back. Nascha had noticed as much from the humans before, when they were confronted by angry immortals. Even if their minds didn’t wish to fear the monsters, their bodies knew the danger they were in.
“Yer right o’course. So, you should come with me. I can keep you warm and shafe—safe,” he stumbled over the last word, eyes widening as Nascha stretched the fearsome grin wider. That did the trick.
He clutched at his chest, the fabric of his silk shirt balling up in his hands. Without another word the drunk staggered around her and continued making his way down the street. Nascha inhaled deeply through her nose as he passed her, but all she could smell was the stink of fear, alcohol and fading arousal. For a moment she had wondered if his clutching of the chest might have come from an impending heart attack, but to her relief she could smell nothing of the sort. It was good. Had he been so afflicted she would have felt duty-bound to help him, and Nascha had no desire to do so.
A slow sigh stretched its way from her lips, and she began to carry on in her walking. Tonight, she did not wander aimless. The Brass Canine was her chosen destination. Ordinarily, she did not frequent such busy places—drunks were poor targets for education purposes—and the raucous energy of the jazz club tended to fray her nerves. Tonight, however, she had decided to brave it regardless.

Even before she had come to New Orleans there had been signs and sightings of foreign immortals. It had brought a feeling of nervous apprehension to her gut. A storm was brewing, and she feared it was one that would bring nothing but destruction and pain to this land.
Immortals venturing between continents was not unusual or unheard of, but doing so in larger numbers, was. Besides that, even Nascha had heard whispers during her travels of the brutality of the Templars in New Londontown. Of the scattering of surviving immortals and butchery of those that did not escape. Of a ‘beast queen’ and new leader of the vampires. It was only snatches that she knew, and the how and why was markedly absent from her knowledge. Two things that needed to be filled.
From the whispers she had gleaned during her casual eavesdropping, The Brass Canine seemed to be a place where this new ‘Queen of Beasts’ had been sighted the most, alongside her cronies. It was enough to prompt Nascha to investigate the rumours. If the foreigners were indeed to be found there, it should be easy enough to commandeer a table and listen in on them. Even if she only learned a little of their character.

Onwards her booted feet carried her, down Frenchman Street to the doors that would lead her into the club. Lively jazz music spilled through the seams and cracks of the building to pool on the street where Nascha stood. The cobblestones beneath her were solid and certain, but Nascha had a queasy feeling that the ground beneath her would not remain firm for much longer if she pushed through those doors. Part of her recoiled from that knowledge, but the larger part leaned into it with hungry interest. How would her life change? What challenges would she face? What might she learn? Her ambition, an ever-present, voracious, thing hungered to find out. Before she could continue to second-guess, Nascha threw her hands in front of her, pushed the doors wide open, and stepped through them.

The Brass Canine was full of an electric energy. The jazz band played feverishly and fervently. Games of poker, presided over by men hunkered over cards, peppered the interior and the scent of smoke, drink, and the patrons mixed dizzingly on the air.
Nascha sucked in a careful breath through her mouth, forcing her shoulders to remain loose and relaxed as she moved with casual purpose into the establishment. A free table, lit dimly, seemed to call to her from where it sat a short ways away from the bar. So long as she breathed through her mouth and didn’t allow herself to become overwhelmed, this would be no problem.
Pulling out a chair, the werebeast settled herself down naturally, as though she were a regular. Her legs stretched out beneath the table, back slouching ever so slightly in the high-backed chair, until she perfectly mimicked the posture of an irreverent drunk. Only then, did she permit herself to filter through the scents on the air.

For the first few seconds, it was business as usual. The typical familiar mix (albeit coupled with a few beasts that smelled vaguely familiar but couldn’t be placed) was all that greeted her. Until it hit her.
It took all of Nascha’s self-control to keep herself from whipping her head around to stare. As it was, her entire body tensed reflexively, and she struggled mightily to regain her relaxed posture. What is he doing here? The memory swelled and overcame her, Nascha powerless to deny it.

Gunsmoke and blood. Human bodies had lain eviscerated, staining the sun-baked ground red. But theirs had not been the only blood spilled, another contributor painted the earth crimson—a werebeast. Male. Wounded… probably badly, judging by the amount of blood. She had followed the trail he had left, steps cautious and eyes narrowed warily. And she had found him.
As expected, he had been near death. Feverish, sporting gun-wounds that would make any immortal cringe. And Nascha had felt an overwhelming desire to save him. Perhaps it was that he was young, near to her own age, perhaps it was the sheer challenge of it, or perhaps it was simply that he was a werebeast like herself. She did not know the reason why, but the compulsion to heal had thrown her caution to the wind.

The herbs she carried, the magic she knew, all of it had been fiercely engaged for the sheer purpose of saving his life. For fear of attracting any others who might be hunting him she had also forgone a fire, adopting her beast form and curling around him through the cold nights to stave off the chill. During the day, when she felt him stable enough, she had hunted. The prey she caught was used only to feed him and she shamelessly transformed before him—confident that his feverishness would chase away any memory of this time. Then, when she had determined he was out of danger and could shortly fend for himself, she had left him with a few rabbits and disappeared. Never to see him again.


Only he was here. In The Brass Canine. Nascha never forgot a scent and certainly hadn’t forgotten his.

Bolting away was a possibility and she eyed the door contemplatively. But no, her scent was already here. If he recognized it, it would not matter if she fled because beasts were excellent trackers. Her only hope was that he wouldn’t remember her. And why would he? Considering the extent of his injuries it was unlikely he even could… or so Nascha hoped.
Licking her lips, she glanced around surreptitiously at the neighbouring tables and was relieved to find she did not see him sitting there. What she really wanted now was a drink to chase away the nerves but standing up to go to the bar was too much of a risk. She’d have to stay here and stick to the original plan: eavesdrop, learn as much as possible, get out quickly. And now she added: avoid the werebeast whose life she'd saved.



 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Bjorn Thorburn
alias: Úlfhéðnar
health bar
WHERE: Brass Canine -> Docks
WITH: Kenna -> Company
DOING: Sizing up the opponent
CREDIT: Aenaluck
PLAYLIST: Coming Soon


The beast released an exasperated huff. He’d been following Maeve since he had dragged her onto a boat and sailed from the Thames as Cheapside burned around them. Even now, as he lingered the alleys of Storyville, waiting for her. Whether she wanted him around, or not, the beast cared little. He watched her back and haunted her shadows. It was the only thing left in his 826-year-old life that held some semblance of meaning.
He recalled them sitting in the belly of their ship, drinking to the crash of ocean waves against the hull. She had asked him if he would return to his homeland once they reached America. He had felt no obligation to stay, but the prospect of claiming the title from Mercia’s passing was hard to ignore for the egotist. To be the King of Beasts… What sort of Alpha would walk away from such an opportunity?
Although at the time, he had little idea just how invested he would become watching over the blonde instead of chasing that dream. Maeve didn’t need it, Bjorn wasn’t so foolish to think she did. But without him, she was alone, and he wasn’t fond of that idea. Not one bit.

And so, here he was, leaning back against the wall of a patisserie just out of sight, waiting for her sorry ass to wake up from some lover’s arms so she could go drink. Day in and day out, always the same. His steely gaze narrowed on the front doors of Le Repaire de Velours, a tsk audible as he grimaced. She was sleeping in, again. Or could it be she already left?

A soft ‘clink’ caught his attention, but his reflexes were not quick enough to react before the slate shingle cracked into pieces from the impact upon his crown. He almost laughed. Finally! A reason to let out some aggression!
The Alpha’s head snapped around, catching for only a brief second the eyes of the culprit before they bolted. Bjorn’s hesitation to leave his post was the only thing keeping his legs from following after them; and he gripped hard. The wolf inside was howling, chomping at the bit, digging frantically. Chase them!

And in truth, what if they were a spy? What if it was a Templar sent to watch their every move? Paranoia or no, could he risk the chance of it?

His body moved faster than his brain could comprehend. His feet hit the cobblestones as hard as they could as he ran after her.
She hung left and down towards the French Market, Bjorn following just behind. Every deep breath he took her wafted scent caused him to salivate in hunger. As she deeked into a slender alley, far too tight for Bjorn’s massive frame, he kept straight; listening for the small cracking of tile to tell him where she was going.
Sliding around the next block he clawed at his shirt, thriving as the air brisked his skin. The beast could feel her, leading him like a beacon. She was heading to the Port. Bjorn skidded to a halt, smelling, listening. Before him was a boarded-up alley, one he knew was a direct shortcut where he just might have the chance to beat her. He punched through one board, then shucked another back until he had a hole big enough to run through. When he burst from the other side, he was at the edge of the pier.

At his six he heard a scuffling and snapped around to see the girl scramble back in surprise a few yards away.
His chest heaved, up and down, mouth dry as his tongue lapped at the skin of his lower lip. The beast lunged forward in less than a blink, grabbing the girl by the front of her jacket. Bjorn's eyes narrowed, voice nearly a growl,
“Not fast enough.” As he breathed, he began to realize his target was young, very young. Perhaps… not a Templar, after all. Clarity began to dissipate the bloodlust in his eyes, and he tossed her aside with ease, with no regard for the crates in her path,
“Lucky, girl.” he grumbled, “I don’t kill children.”


 
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nighteyes

New Member
Esther Asturias
SHERWOOD
health bar
WHERE: City Park
WITH: No one
DOING: Sitting, contemplating, making feathered friends
CREDIT: W.J. Neatby

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Ode to a Nightingale
John Keats



Bath, England
Seventy-six years ago


For all Abram could have given her, she had loved the trinkets best. From sea glass to pressed wildflowers, her dresser was strewn with odds and ends, reminders that the world went far beyond what she perceived outside her window. For that her wonderment was unceasing, her yearning was deep, but by some cruel ordinance, his one surviving child was not fated for a long tenure.

Before her first word—sky, it was—Esther was tended by a retinue of physicians. Frailty bound her to the house for the first several years of her life. Though feeble of body, her mind brimmed with dreaming. On the days she was not bedridden he had often caught her at the window engaged in people watching or, with a cheek to the glass, straining to glimpse what laid in wait around the street corner.

When she was deemed strong enough to travel, he and his wife gathered up their lives to take their daughter away from London for good. They acted on the counsel of a doctor studying the rates of illness and malformity in children born to the great cities, leaping on his recommendation that theirs be immersed in a nourishing environment.

For a time his daughter thrived in their new home on the outskirts of Bath, but clean air and rich water had not been a true cure. Desperation snapped its jaws at Abram's heels in those long-ago early years, and now, he felt its breath again.

As he made his way toward the light filtering out of his daughter's bedchambers, silence held fast to walls that had known much laughter. Abram was accustomed to a home filled with stirrings of life; by his reckoning he'd walked these halls a thousand times, and now they were near unrecognizable. When he strained his ears he could almost discern the echo of a sound that would not leave him, that of a housemaid's stifled sobs as she bore away sullied sheets and bedclothes for incineration.

Stepping into the threshold, he leaned against the frame and looked in.

It began near to a fortnight ago. Esther had retired early for the evening after making mention of some discomfort, and woke hours later to a rush of blood. They were all taken unawares; none had given credence to the chance that she could ever be with child again. The family physician had been a frequent presence in the house since. The risk of moving her to hospital had kept them here; outbreaks of disease flourished in the bitter rains, and just as troubling were the talks of a curfew being put in place following scattered sightings of strange animals in the streets. He wished now that they had gone, damn the risk. At the outset, Esther had given every appearance of making a recovery, and when they were near to giving themselves to relief, the fever set in.

Abram felt a touch, and he looked down. There stood little Sarah in her bedgown, leaning against him, and she watched her mother through unkempt curls bright as flame. “Couldn't sleep, mija?” he said, and she peered up at him. “Do you want to see her?” At that she buried her face in his leg, and he stooped down. Collecting her in his arms, a thought struck him: it seemed only yesterday his Tess had been this small. “You needn't be afraid, we'll go together.”

Abram's wife slept on the chaise at the foot of the bed. It was Will's turn to keep the vigil, and he was sweeping beads of sweat from Esther's brow with a damp cloth. Looking upon his daughter, Abram took only a small measure of comfort in seeing the rise and fall of her chest. She was sedated, but she did not rest. There was a blaze beneath her pallid skin, yet she shivered fiercely under the coverlet.

Sarah stirred in his arms, and Abram noticed there was something clenched in her small hand. “What's this?” She pressed whatever it was into his palm, insistent that he take it. A hair ribbon. Abram looked questioningly to Will, and then he passed it to him.

He ran the ribbon through his fingers. Deep shadows hung beneath his eyes, and he seemed to struggle to form a reply. “Sarah wears this every day. For comfort and good luck, I think; frets if it's misplaced,” Will said. Sensing his daughter's intent, he gingerly tied the ribbon around Esther's wrist.

The doctor had done everything in his ability. On his last call he had pulled Abram aside and spoke gently to him. The man had not laid out the plain truth, but there was no need. Abram heard the truth all the same. Had her health had been sound, her heart not ill-made, the odds might have been in her favor. There was nothing more that could be done.

Yet there was. What manner of father was he, what manner of man, if all he did was stand by and wring his hands? Could he ever bear to look little Sarah in the eye again if he had not done everything in his power here and now to preserve her mother?

“The woman you spoke of,” said William, “When will she come for her?”

Abram touched his shoulder. “Soon.”



Present day


A balmy breeze passed into the quiet bedchamber, stirring the papers strewn across a writing desk. An array of star charts, documents and maps were scattered there like fallen leaves. The soft scratching of a pen ceased, and with the nib poised in the air, the woman seated at the desk looked up from her work to consider the view outside her window.

Dawn was approaching. Esther's gaze lingered on the flush of color that warmed the horizon, heralding the break of day.

When she was a girl, she was given a book concerning celestial bodies. The illustrated pages were heavy with gold and silver leaf; even now, she could recall fragments of its texts as easily as drawing water from a well. Out of all the stars, the sun was ours. Warmer than a thousand fires, it was said, and brighter than ten thousand lamps. The moon wore a different face with every passing night, pulling with unseen power to draw on the sea and - as superstition told - things that laid latent. For a child born to an age of gloaming and a world draped in the light of a fixed moon, it was a fairy story.

It sounds terribly busy, her young self once said of this dance between the sun and moon. And wondrous, too. She could remember taking that book to the bed she was often bound to, falling asleep with the sun cradled to her chest and her sighthound, Argo, draped across her feet.

She rose from her chair, tentative, and laid a hand upon the desk to lean her weight against it. She was nearly herself again today. The lulls came and went like the tides, and she had weathered them long enough to have a sense for their onset and their duration. They once spanned two or three days, at most. Four, very rarely. Years ago she said in jest to Thomas that she had traded one monthly visitor for another, but instead of laughing, he had choked on his tea.

Esther had not set foot outside in nearly a week, not even under the cover of night. How could she have done if crossing a room too hastily left her winded?

She discerned the faint scuffle of footsteps in the hall, nearing her door, and she tensed. There came a soft knock and Esther hesitated before responding, reluctantly permitting entry. A young housemaid bustled into the room, her arms laden with freshly-laundered sheets. The other woman, amiable, bid her a good morning; Esther responded in kind, managing a smile.

After arriving in New Orleans with Jack Fletcher, it had not been long until he'd stumbled across the very woman they had been searching for, by a stroke of great luck, and she had taken him in. Instead of finding lodging in a hotel, Esther had sought refuge in a haven for her kind. It offered a great amount of security for a stranger in a strange land and she was acquainted with its mistress. She was grateful for the hospitality, but she was biting at the bit to leave.

Esther had not forgotten how it was in the halls of Cecile's predecessor—a slaughterhouse where mortals were killed more wantonly than chattel. What if this new sanctuary was more of the same behind closed doors?

She watched in resigned silence as the housemaid strode to the window and abruptly drew it shut, and she flinched at the sound of the latch engaging. Then the other woman's footfalls were soon receding into the distance, and she was alone again.

Her hands went to her face. Her chin trembled and she drew in a breath, sudden and sharp. “I can't bear this.” But she had to. This she knew as well as she knew herself; she was duty-bound.

As she rinsed her tear streaked face in the washbasin, Esther glimpsed herself in the water. She touched the shadows that hung heavy beneath her eyes. When sleep hadn't evaded her in this place, her dreams of late had often been of children with hair that burned to the touch, of watchful old women with eyes that glittered like coal, and of Cheapside in flames. She knew better than to dismiss them for the warning they might have been, and there in the half-dark, she made ready to leave. According to Tom's pocket watch, sunrise was within the hour.

When Esther set foot outside her chambers she peered down the hall, fastening the ties of her woolen cloak with nimble fingers. She picked her way quietly to the door. Before departing, she happened across one of her kin, and she asked him to pass her regards to Cecile and Elijah.

Then she set off into the city, striding with purpose and as much haste as her body permitted. New Orleans was stirring all around her and she breathed deep, savoring the free air. A long-limbed and tall woman, her curtain of dark hair was gathered in a tidy braided coil and secured with pins at the nape of her neck. From mended gloves to a high-collared dress that was threadbare in places, she was clothed in subdued shades and materials affordable to the common man. Though well-kept, her attire was that of a woman of the lower classes, easily overlooked in the streets. The lilt of her voice was indicative of England, though one with a discerning eye might be able to gather from her features and the olive in her complexion that she was not altogether English.

Nearly everything she had taken across the sea fit into a battered and cumbersome old trunk, save the staff she slung over one shoulder. She'd had to reassure a very anxious constable—but not a constable, she'd had to remind herself, but a policeman, as they were called in this country—that it was merely a walking stick and not at all a weapon. (A half-truth; it very much was.)

The porch steps of the house in Bywater passed beneath her heels with little time to spare. Her place of residence needed a fresh coat of paint and the attention of a repairman in places, but it was hers. Upon entry she was greeted by a barren space; the furnishings she had ordered had not yet been delivered, but the windows had been properly fitted with heavy shutters and thick curtains long enough to sweep the wainscoting. The floorboards were a rich brown beneath a layer of dust recently mussed with footprints.

She unfurled her bedroll in the parlor. It had seen little use in recent years, and she reckoned it still held a little bit of European earth. She hardly minded using it now. A bed of moss would have been just as comfortable and she had her good woolen cloak for a blanket, besides. She lit a candle she had found in a cupboard and set it upon the mantelpiece, and beside it, she placed a faded ribbon.


Esther woke not long before the sun dipped below the westward horizon, and she was glad to find that her old strength had returned. She wished to gain a better grasp of this city with her own two eyes. One could only glean so much from maps. On a whim, she had decided to go by streetcar. She leaned her arms against the sill and flung the window open wide. The wind rushed over her; a delighted, unguarded smile stretched across her face. The night was young; the city's bars and clubs were coming alive. She recognized one out of the many that passed her by, and her face flushed pink.

When she and Jack were still newly arrived, they had sought refreshment in a local bar. They were seated for a time when a fellow had engaged her in conversation. He seemed friendly; amusingly, his looks and youth put her in mind of her youngest grandson. When she turned to introduce him to her traveling companion, Jack's seat was empty. She had swallowed her worry and decided to wait for his return. In his absence the polite fellow, emboldened by drink, had decided to take liberties.

Guilt over the whole thing still pulled at her. In all fairness, she was startled and hadn't asked for a hand down her bodice, but it had never been her intention to break the poor man's jaw. At the first she feared the blow had killed him, as he had not readily stirred from his place on the floor. Several of the men at the establishment had whistled and raised their glasses in approval, to her great embarrassment. She hoped to go on like the incident had never happened, and she had every intention of taking it to the grave.

Her thoughts lingered on Jack. Esther had thought often of looking in on him in the weeks since, but she had not, stung by reluctance. He was where he needed to be; she did not want to disturb him, but she worried. This evening I shall, I think, she thought. I hope he is well.

The streetcar had come to a halt. Tangled amidst the voices of passerby and the sounds of distant merrymaking, familiar words snagged her attention. A young performer plied his trade nearby with a voice that could have made a songbird believe he was kin. Something in her twisted with homesickness, for he was a displaced Englishman, and he recited what he knew: ballads from the country of her birth. He sang of a certain outlaw of legend and his lady fair.

To the merry green wood then went Robin Hood

With a sad and sorrowful heart.

Her eyes flitted briefly to the eastward horizon, and then she began to search her person for a coin to give him. Keenly focused on the upturned hat at his feet, Esther judged the distance with care. Her aim was true, and she quickly averted her gaze, feigning innocence. The fellow made a cry of surprise, for it was not a pittance she had given him, nor was it even American currency. The coin that sat atop his earnings was unmistakably a sovereign, gleaming vibrant in the gloom.

After disembarking from the streetcar to stretch her legs, she walked for the sake of walking. To be so aimless felt a little strange.

Venturing into the sprawling city park, she meandered down a narrow footpath that cut through tall undergrowth. Great oaks arched overhead. Moonlight streamed through serpentine boughs draped with long wisps of moss and dappled silver on the ground. A faint rustling made her pause, and she went in search of the source, wading through swaths of waist-high ferns. Then she bent down, uncovering a tiny bird nestled beneath the brush.

She gingerly gathered it in her cupped hands. The bird peeped faintly - perhaps with indignation - before settling into her palms. “Don't fret, I've got you,” she said lightly. “I'm on your side.” Finding her way back to the footpath, she seated herself on a nearby bench.

This place was a balm for her spirit, but even here, true contentment proved elusive. It made her yearn for bygone days. For a country road stretching on and on through woodland and glen, a coming storm sounding a warning over the moors, the lights of a village winking in the distance. Sleeping under open skies was once one of her keenest joys, but she could never again do so without a care. Not ever again. The passage of time would always be a whisper, a threat, in the back of her mind.

She was fast approaching her hundredth year. Not very old at all in the grand scheme of things, yet sometimes she felt so worn; sometimes she felt a thousand years old. Looking down, she passed her thumb over the bird. Warily, it peered up at her with eyes like dark dewdrops. A fledgling, from the look of the soft down that showed through a patchwork coat of plumage. She guessed the little thing must have been fatigued from its first flight. “You're a latecomer,” Esther remarked, her hazel eyes warming with affection. “Or maybe not. Where I come from, spring is the season for young things, but the climate here is so unknown to me.”

A frantic chirping sounded from the canopy, and her acquaintance stirred. She lifted her hands in encouragement and the little bird, brimming with a newfound vigor, took to the air and returned to the trees.
 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Holly Wilshire
alias: GABRIEL
health bar
WHERE: Eden
WITH: Blood Sisters & 84th Legion
DOING: Preparing for Paradise
CREDIT: AdrianDadich
PLAYLIST:


“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been three hundred twelve days since my last confession.”

Hands often hold tales of experience. For Holly, her hands were clean. Polished steel, moulded to the perfect feminine anatomy by smiths as talented as Michelangelo, etched with Latin scriptures in liquid gold. Beautiful, but cold. No matter how much sticky crimson slathered her digits they always washed away without stain or scar. They would never tell a soul of all the lives she had taken, nor the maws she had broken. When she was finally gone, her body would be paraded under golden sunlight, pure and righteous, every iron limb a symbol of her great sacrifice to the world.
It would be the stories of her name, the legend of her mantle, that would weave the sins of her war.

But no matter how long cerulean eyes lingered upon them, or how many times she flexed them as if to only feel the warmth of flesh, the blood of hundreds would always be there in her mind’s eye; wet and thick, dripping down between the joints of her fingers like snakes.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a place and time where she held law, order, and His holy righteousness above all manner of guilt or regret. Where when she took life she knew it was because He had blessed her to do so. When the blood on her hands was not His blood, but that of supernatural sin.
Little did she know that such power would be too great to wield. Before the bombing of Cheapside, she could have killed vampires and beasts indiscriminately. But, that night had changed everything. The loss of her protégé weighed on the woman still, even after nearly a year. She could see his eyes in every unholy creature’s face as she tore them apart. This blood was his blood, and his blood was the Lord’s blood. Until she was forgiven for her shortcomings, for failing in her duty to protect the innocents of God, Holly could no longer recall the soft embrace of peace.
The blissful silence of the church could tempt her, but it never sang truer than the festering echoes of her memories.

“Speak your sins, my child.”

Her Master’s ghost visited her more often in days since, a phantom on her conscience dug up from the grave by Hwarang’s demise. Michael had been a father to her, a teacher and saviour. His guiding light was often what fueled her passion, and his horrific slaughter was what ignited her rage.
Snuffing out the light of vampires had been almost a sport for her, a training game, all until the silver fanged assailants stole Michael from the Scottish coasts and into the Pearly Gates. She would never forget the sound of his skull cracking against the rocks, the soft spattering of blood in the sand. The way his neck snapped and popped under their crushing grip. The images of his life spilling gluttonously over the vampire’s venomous grin.
That same grin that Kestrel Paradin had as he spit down on her face upon the cobblestones the first time they met. She would paint her own lips in it when she claimed his head and savagely tore the ticking heart from his chest. She would wear it with pride as the Leech King’s world shattered and burned under her thumb. Her wrath was sated in that moment, her but her greed had allowed her vendetta to grow.
Her pupil’s death could have been avoided that night if not for her lust for Kestrel’s death.

But in her retribution, Holly would find freedom, for God had always provided her with the only tool she ever needed,

“I ask not for forgiveness of the acts I have done, Father… But for those I am about to do.”


Within the great airship, the Templars called their home, Eden’s halls were silent. The whispers on their tongues were swallowed whole as the hour drew near. In the heart of the ship a war room almost overflowed with soldiers. Beyond its mahogany doors, young recruits pressed their ears to hear the word of Gabriel.

Holly stood at the large round table in the center of the room, an exceptionally large world map sprawled out across its surface. The raised bleachers around the room were full, soldiers seated shoulder to shoulder. Despite the shadowed audience, their gleaming eyes were like a thousand fireflies.

“Brothers and Sisters,” her voice echoed, “It is a privilege to bring you this news tonight.”

“Our Brothers in America have submitted their report. We are winning the war,” she paused with a gratuitous smile as the room erupted in applause, “In due time, our factions in Asia will mirror these pleasantries, I am sure.” she waved a hand, passively.
“For now, they request our presence in the North. Additional troops will be dispatched to Boston Harbour in the morning. Please report to the Hangar to review the deployment times and if you are on the list,”

Holly looked around the room slowly, a flicker of pride veiled her often stern eyes, but it dissipated as she parted her lips once more, “Blood Sisters and 84th stay, everyone else is dismissed.”
As the room began to file out a small collection of individuals made their way down the seats until they were in two separate groups around the table. Women, each beautiful with a mysterious aura that rang of danger. The other, a group of young men, cool and stoic as they awaited their orders. From the corner of her eye, Holly noted one particular face,
“Troxler,” the young man turned from the door, “You stay.”

Holly leaned forward, reviewing the map, pushing a marker onto the south-eastern coast of America.
As the last soldier left and the doors to the war room latched shut, Holly looked up, “Where is the Overseer?” she asked, a twinge of annoyance laced in the back of her throat. They all looked at one another but no one spoke, shrugs and shakes of their heads. She sighed, “No matter. I will find him myself,”

Tapping the map, “My American intelligence also provided me with a separate report. We now have confirmed reports that The Key has been spotted. First in Boston, months ago. Most recently there, in New Orleans.”
The room’s atmosphere was palpable with anticipation, “Our mission is to return The Key to Eden alive-”

“And what if it’s dead?” one of the men remarked. She could smell the bloodlust rolling off his tongue,
“Not an option.” she stated, holding his gaze until he broke contact.
“Why the 84th? This sounds like our department,” the Sisters snickered.
“Because, New Orleans happens to be a hotbed of activity. We will have our hands full finding The Key. The 84th will clear the brush,” Holly folded her arms, “Any other questions?”
The room held silent, “Troxler, will be your Lead Engineer. Understood?” Holly watched as the young man nodded. He was nervous but held a solid poker face,
“We leave in three hours on Paradise, for two days travel. Dismissed.”


 
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Cassandra Caldecott
Little Sparrow
health bar
WHERE: La Lune
WITH: Staff
DOING: Introductions
CREDIT: Wendy Ng
PLAYLIST: Coming Soon


The small pocket watch in her hand had become Cassandra's lifeline since the sun had risen once again. Checking and rechecking what the time had become to make sure her movements were within times of safety. How unproductive and irritating. Gone were the days of wandering whenever she pleased, time had become a constraint, one that she was less than happy about. Cassandra had managed to keep her wits about her, refusing to let it interfere with her exploration of the world.

The train came to a halt as it pulled into the station, Cassandra peeked out the dark drawn curtains of the luxury train cabin. She had timed it perfectly; the sun had set, and darkness enveloped the world once again. Such a bothersome pain, but seemingly now necessary. There was just a little more security with the cabin she chose, the darker curtains making it safer for day trips, though if she could help it, she would avoid the danger of it. She could have waited longer, but her excitement for a new place overwhelmed her, and her patience grew thin.

New Orleans. Cassandra had heard tales along her travels, and her curiosity was piqued. The food, the music, the people. It all sounded delightfully intriguing; she could not help herself. She had also heard whispers of an old friend taking up residence. Although not the prime reason for her visit, it would be nice to catch up for the time she was here.

Resituating her hat upon her head, and readjusting flows of the skirt of her dress, Cassandra disembarked the train. The station was bustling, people so quick to rush where they needed to be, eager individuals wishing to get to the dazzling sites of the city as quickly as possible. The lady took her time, gather her belongings, of which was not much. A single small trunk was all that she had brought with her. She didn't need more than that. Travelling heavy took time of which was better spent elsewhere. She held very little of sentimental value, bar a couple of items, as it weighed down the ease of travel. Most things were easily bought and sold, money changing hands frequently for the exploration of grander adventures. However, if she were settling here for a while, it may be a decent excuse to go shopping. Fashions changed, and Cassandra refused to be left behind in the times.

Wandering the station, a look of confusion swept across her features, worry with just a hint of panic as tears pricked up in her eyes. It didn't take someone long to notice, then again, it never really did. An older gentleman approached her, as were the case more often than not. The need to be the saviour really seemed ingrained in men's sense of superiority.

"Are you alright dear, you look a little lost," he queried gently. Cassandra looked around, still a little frantically, "I was told my chaperone would be waiting for me once I disembarked the train. Unfortunately, it seems I have missed them. I am not sure how to get where I need to go now." Her lip quivered as her tears threatened to fall.

The man seemed soft-hearted, a seemly gentle disposition. "I could take you where you need to go," he offered. The young woman sniffled a little, holding back her tears. "Oh, would you be so kind, I would very much appreciate it," she said, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping her eyes ever so slightly. He smiled politely, "Of course," he said, holding out his arm for her to take. Honestly, it wasn't always the best way to garner a ride to places she needed to be, but public transport could often be uncertain and could provide just as many risks as getting rides with strangers. Besides, it was often a lot cheaper to get someone to offer her a trip than to purchase tickets for herself, and a direct route was far more efficient.

The ride through the city was pleasant, as Cassandra enjoying taking in the sights and aromas as they passed through. She was looking forward to exploring the nightlife that seemed to be active through the streets. She noted a few places she would have to visit in her time here, but for now, that would have to wait, there were more important things on her agenda for the evening.

He had taken her to the location she had stated, even though he seemed somewhat perplexed as to why she would be going there. Cass had waved off the ill advice he garnered to her. She had no need to worry about such things. Parking off to the edge of the road he wondered again, "are you sure this is the right place?" the young woman gave a slight nod as he helped her from the buggy. "I'm fairly certain. It has a charm to it that speaks volumes," she said as her eyes gazed over the expanse of the home before them. She turned back to the man, "I appreciate you escorting me, it was very kind of you to do so," she said as she leant forward to give him a gentle kiss to the cheek.

The man blushed and seemed to stammer out a soft, "my pleasure," before setting himself back up. "Safe travels," she said with a sweet smile and a wave as he went on his way. As he disappeared around the corner, the blonde rolled her eyes and pulled the man's wallet from her purse. She had slipped it from his during the journey, and he had never noticed it, nor would she expect he would until he arrived at whatever his next destination would be.

His wallet seemed to have a reasonably decent amount in it, enough to keep her going for a couple of days at least. Though she didn't lack funds, that didn't mean a little more would not come in handy. Either way, she pocketed it for now and headed for the door of the estate.

A soft smile eased her lips as she was greeted at the door. "Is Cecile Bellerose in tonight,"

"Who should I say is asking?"

Cassandra's eyes merely wandered about the expanse of the room behind them, taking in the beauty of the styling. "Just an old friend, though I am sure she has many," a light smirked played on her lips.



 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Alexei Pavlovsky
alias: CAIN
health bar
WHERE: Paradise
WITH: Alone
DOING: Settling In
CREDIT: maria_lahaine
PLAYLIST:


“Aren’t you a little nervous one of these will go off?” Her voice was soft, but grating all the same. Idiot girl, they don’t keep ammunition in the chambers. Besides, it wouldn’t be the guns going off….
She winced as her head snapped back, the young man behind her reprimanding her by the hair,
“What did I say about talking.” his lips purring against her ear, fingers sliding around her clavicle, up her neck, tightening slowly, “Oh, sweet Marie.”

His breath shuddered in time with each soft gasp of pleasure she made, their bodies flushed together tight in the small armoury locker. He wanted her, but only as bad as he wanted this over with. He wouldn’t have to wait long; the moment his fingers traced her trembling lips, her tongue wrapped around the length of each one, his periwinkle eyes rolled back in euphoria. Their bodies quivering in sinful delight.

“Jesus Christ, Alexei.” she whimpered.

He shuffled back, spinning the fragile woman and pressing her back against the rack of rifles by her throat. He could end her right here. Snap her neck if he wanted to. Throw her corpse out the hanger in the night, down below into the Thames. The fright in her eyes only made him hunger for it even more, her skin paling as she clawed at his wrist.

His lips curled back, a threatening menace to his glare, “You know better,” his voice barely above a murmur.
Marie nodded as a tear rolled down her cheek, “Yes, Cain.”
His grip loosened, scoffing as she quickly gathered herself. Pulling his trousers back up around his hips, he slapped her ass hard enough to see her flinch,
“Get thee to a nunnery, sweet Marie!” his snickers echoing as she slammed the door behind her.


They would say, “Watch out for Cain, he’s got the Devil in him.”
Alexei couldn’t argue it, he probably did. Every pleasure he got from life was a vice and sin. If it was considered wrong, it was so very right. Perhaps, in another life, he would have questioned his morality, repented and begged for deliverance. But, not this life. His cards were set, and truly, evil is a point of view.

It could be deduced that was the point the fires really started. Alexei’s reputation wasn’t a secret. The young man was a special breed-- a true sinner, a delinquent and fugitive. Him, and those like him, were not only an asset to the Templars but also temptations. There wasn’t a soul on Eden that hadn’t thought of Alexei without malice or desire. Equal parts hate and lust, but without a reasonable doubt, he was the apple, waving just out of reach… Some would surrender to his serpent tongue, finding themselves in the throes of guilt. Others would fight to break him limb from limb only to be bested by his surprising, yet underhanded, combat skills.
So, he effortlessly kept the masses in line, just like they wanted. There would always be a few who thought themselves ‘holier than thou’, approaching him with intent to be his saviour. Those sorry souls would scorn the day they ever thought they could cure something so inherently sick.


A soft glaze cast over his eyes whilst peering through the spotlight in the center of the war room. He had spent the night working on his Seraphim suit, attempting to activate the prototype upgrades he’d designed. Being in and out of the suit so much in as many hours had truly taken a toll on the young Russian. Each time he entered the suit he subjected himself to surges of electrolytes and adrenaline, cocktailed with static shocks and stifling heat from the solar generator. Not to mention the suit was powered by is very body; the internal current running through him… A human battery.
If he just closed his eyes, for only a few moments, maybe the elixir in his blood would stop making his head pound. His fingertips absently traced over the plug implant on his wrist, almost aching from the strain he put himself through.

The room settled into anxious silence as Gabriel began to address the troops. He inhaled deeply, simply listening to the cadence of her voice, the words hardly anything he cared over. It was a shame that the meeting was not a sombre occasion. As the room erupted in hundreds of applause, flesh and metal alike, he cringed, pinching the pressure behind his eyes. All he wanted was some fucking sleep!

“Blood Sisters and 84th stay, everyone else is dismissed.”

Thank Christ.

Alexei stood slowly, vaulting over the pews to meet with the rest of his ‘Brothers’ and ‘Sisters’.
It was rare to see the Sisters all together. Battle worn warriors of silver and gold, ethereal in beauty but devilishly fierce in combat. He wouldn’t be the soldier he was today without their guidance and skill.
As he looked upon them now he couldn’t help the attraction he felt in his chest. What did he need to do to bed one of those angels?

“Troxler, you stay.”

All eyes turned back to view the lithe figure in the doorway. René Troxler was a curious individual. Tall and lean of mass, with an ambiguous face. Known for being a brilliant mind and favourite of Gabriel, Troxler was either completely ignored or harassed commonly. The Russian couldn’t truly recall a place or time seeing them outside of the Engineering Lab, quiet and studious...
When others returned to the matter at hand, Alexei was paralyzed and perplexed. He stared, almost leering until the bloke next to him nudged him in the ribs. With some hesitation he looked away, only catching Troxler’s gaze at the last second.

“My American intelligence also provided me with a separate report. We now have confirmed reports that The Key has been spotted. First in Boston, months ago. Most recently there, in New Orleans. Our mission is to return The Key to Eden alive.”
About time, Alexei thought. They’d been searching for nearly a year for the freak. He had been glad to not be involved in those projects on Level 8. The screams he heard out of that place kept everyone on edge. High security and locked up tighter than a Mother’s knickers. It was a wonder how the Mephisto had escaped at all...
“And what if it’s dead?”
“Not an option.”
“Why the 84th? This sounds like our department,”
“Because New Orleans happens to be a hotbed of activity. We will have our hands full finding The Key. The 84th will clear the brush,”

Alexei licked his lower lip, a sudden surge of hot anticipation washing over him. He clenched his fists tightly, releasing them just to feel the blood rush into the top of each fingertip. This would be his ticket home… To freedom, at long last.
“Any other questions? Troxler will be your Lead Engineer. Understood?”
Surprised, he looked back at René once more, a veil of purpose and understanding the only emotions he could find written upon the androgynous features.


Alexei spent his precious three hours packing up his suit and kit. There would be more than enough supplies on Paradise, but he couldn’t take the chance. Besides, he didn’t trust a single soul not to badger around in his shit while he was gone.
He scanned the manifest in his hand, meandering about the halls to get his bearings of the ship’s layout. Similar in construction and design to Eden, which he was very familiar with, but not quite exact.
For example, living quarters.

He stopped and checked the door tag number again against the leaflet, then cranked the iron lever latch open, the door sliding back and ajar. Two cots, bunked. Barely enough room for much else, and even that space was occupied by the footlockers,

“Vot eto pizdets!”


 
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AntarcticRomantic

【100% 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔠𝔥】
René Troxler
Ephemera
health bar
WHERE: Paradise
WITH: Cain
DOING: In denial
CREDIT: len-yan
PLAYLIST:
☀


Scorching.

His lungs were ready to burst. From pain, from denial, from… he didn’t care. René thrashed about, fighting his aggressors to life his head from the ice-cold bucket of water. They lifted him out, laughing and mocking him, thrilled by their hazing. He gasped for breath, the act more painful than suffocation, and refused to sob in frustration. It would only fuel their fire.

In their laughter, he could hear their weak intimidations. “Caligula will tear you apart.”

“The Midnight Jackal will eat you alive,” another chimed in.

“Bones will swallow your corpse. They’ll never find a body.” That one actually made the teenage boy a little nervous.

“You’ll never survive the 84th,” a boy to his right snidely remarked as he grabbed a fistful of René’s hair. “Doesn’t matter how good of an engineer you become. You’re just cannon fodder.”

“So are you, assholes,” René grunted before the boy shoved his head back under. This time, he had a plan. A bad one, but it was better than putting up with their shit. He exhaled and gathered water into his mouth. Then, he went slack, relaxing his body and fought his urge to fight back. It took fifteen seconds before the panicked teens pulled him out and laid his limp form to the floor.

“Shit, shit, shit. What do we do?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never drowned anyone before!”

Then the room went silent. The blond was almost certain they’d seen the light, shallow breaths he was taking in an effort to look dead. He could hear the distinct sounds of their boots shuffling on the floor around him. It was another moment before someone kneeled down beside them and with two fingers touched the side of his neck, right on top of his vein, to check for a pulse.

Better now than never, he decided.

René shot up and opened his eyes to take aim. Before he could stop himself, before he could think better of it, he spit the water into THE Gabriel’s face. His stomach twisted and his face contorted in horror of what he’d just done. None of his aggressors were in the room. The two of them were completely alone. René began to shake from nerves. But instead of reprimanding him, or beating him, she laughed. He was shocked. To begin, he didn’t even know she could laugh, but to hear it was something else. The General seemed younger and not so terrifying as he’d first imagined her.

“You’ve got mettle, though that would not have done much. What’s your name?”


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

Gold eyes scanned over the pages diligently looking for something they may have missed before, a clue or a faded note. Nothing escaped his keen observation while he searched between the lines. There was naught to find. Frustrated, he set the journal aside and handed the beaker to the scientist to his side. “Give them twenty ‘CC’s’ of this, or run diagnostics with blood samples.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

“What choice do we have? Unless you have access to her, do you have any ideas on how to make this work?” he shot at them.

The scientist groaned. “The key,” he whined, as if it hadn’t been said twenty times in the last five minutes of their conversation. It didn’t matter how many times René poured over the texts of the journal and diaries, they had failed to recreate the serum as described by the creator, a woman long since dead, except for once. However, the subject had escaped.

“Until you figure it out, I cannot do anything on my end.” The blond stood and began to walk away, done with fighting with a project he had no control over. He was an engineer, not a chemist, and until they figured it out his role was stagnant. He threw the apron he'd been wearing over his clothes to the wayside irritated that somehow, inexplicably, their failure was his fault.

He cleaned up quickly and strode through the halls to reach the meeting being held. The room was nearly packed already. His long robe fluttered behind him as he walked around the raised auditorium to find a seat. He sat beside a Blood Sister just in time for Holly to call the gathering to order. It began with news on global matters for the Templar Order. The crowd cheered, but René awaited for the other proverbial shoe to drop. It wasn’t as dramatic as he expected, just more troops required in the Americas. It seemed it was intended to be a short meeting to formally announce progress in the war, because just as quickly as it had begun, it was adjourned. At least it was for those not a part of the 84th or Blood Sister squadrons.

Aware of his position, he had begun to follow the massive crowd out of the auditorium. Then his name was called. He halted and turned to meet Gabriel’s turquoise gaze as she commanded he stay. His amber surveyed what remained of those who’d remained as they, in turn, stared him down until they dismissed his importance to return to their own conversations. Stiffly, he returned to sit with the Sisters, his arms crossed over his chest for the time being.

Gabriel announced the key had been found and René’s attention was immediately caught. He leaned forward while she explained the intelligence brought to her about how it had been tracked in Boston, but moved to another city. His fingers brushed over his lips absently in thought. He hardly heard the conversation around him while he contemplated why it had gone from one coastal city to another. There was undoubtedly a connection to the journals he’d been scouring over, he’d have to search for it later.

“Troxler will be your Lead Engineer. Understood?”

He hoped his expression did not convey the nervousness he felt. His jaw tightened, and he nodded firmly. But it did not diminish the uncertainty he felt.

When the meeting officially came to a close he approached the dais at the center of the room the table and Holly were perched on. “General,” he greeted her, hoping to catch her before she left, “I understand the assignment is final. Truly, I’m humbled by your faith in me, but surely there was someone more… qualified?”

“There’s always someone more qualified, pretty boy,” a legionnaire muttered as they passed by. Another whistled at him and laughed. René did not deign to respond. From his observations, it was a part of the 84th sophomoric culture and general mentality that in order to develop a thick skin, they insulted and pestered one another ceaselessly. Unfortunately, for most of them, it also came with a thick skull that did little to save their lives.

Holly either didn’t hear it or ignored them as well. Instead, she did what she could to ease his troubles, and dismissed him so he could prepare to leave.

Three hours later, his necessities were packed away in a small trunk he could tow behind him. His research and equipment would be along separately, though he’d have to see they were properly handled later in the new Engineering Lab. They would be crated, and with any luck, well packed. For now, he needed to get his personal effects to his quarters, and get his bearings of the ship. Paradise was nearly an exact replica of the original Eden, but there were nuances that didn’t escape his notice that distinguished the ship from the other. When the chance presented itself, he wanted to explore to see what the key differences were.

The number of his leaflet was set well in his mind before he had left his living quarters on Eden. So he was perplexed as he came across someone standing in the doorway. The Legionnaire with a reputation said something indistinguishable and then turned to notice the blond. It left him perplexed, and he was sure he was likely wrong about the room the other man stood in. It was certainly the next or the one after.

“Pardon,” he murmured as he went around, careful not bump into the other, looking for the room he’d been assigned. The next room was not his, and the door ajar read…. Baffled, the engineer pulled the leaflet from his pocket to check the number. It was the same one. His gaze shifted slowly to the man known as “Cain” and steeled himself for the inevitable tirade. “Doubtless, there’s been a mistake.”







 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Jack Fletcher
alias: LAZARUS
health bar
WHERE: Brass Canine
WITH: Seiko
DOING: Having a drink
CREDIT: LainValentine
PLAYLIST:


Apart, Jack could have easily taken each one of these thugs to the ground. But together, they were a greater force that the Mephisto couldn’t possibly overcome without a weapon or an extra set of hands. Then again, did it even matter?
As his back slammed against the ground, he snarled and braced for the eventual sting of blades. Each one of their youthful faces wore the sneer of a hungry demon, chomping at the bit to get a taste of Jack’s flesh and bone. He welcomed it, inviting them to end his futile existence. He didn’t care if it was slow and painful, or quick and dirty. His heart had been dead for over one hundred years, his soul for as many days, and his body just the same. Why couldn’t he finally just have peace?

He heard it before he even saw it-- the smooth glide of steel cutting the air. It followed with a silence Jack had come to know all too well.
As his eyes frantically searched for the culprit, the boys all stared down in horror of the blade piercing through their comrade’s chest. Jack’s keen gaze noted it’s slender, thin profile, meticulously polished. And in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
Young hands released him, and the man took the opportunity to drag himself away, out of harm’s way. The body hit the stones next to him, sputtering blood from between its pale lips. Jack inhaled slowly, easing himself back against the brick wall. It was all he could do to avoid the absolute blood bath transpiring before him.

Jack was torn. He wanted to see the face of this crazed swordsman, but all the same, he was paralyzed by the graphic slaughter taking place before him. How long had it been since he’d seen death like this? He thought himself to be disassociated from it by this point in his life, but perhaps the time away from the war, long years in Venice, had rekindled some morality.
He felt a shudder roll down his spine as he looked to the face of his protector… At least he hoped the man was.

As the last of the kids ran off, lucky to be alive, Jack swallowed back the urge to laugh. At what, he wasn’t certain. That he was thankful he was alive? Unlikely. That it was all far too much? Possibly. That somehow fate found any and all opportunities to intervene in his death? That was it.

The stranger approached, breaking his train of thought. When it was clear that this was not the reaper come to take him under, unfortunately, Jack took his offer of assistance, “I’m fine, thank you.”

He couldn’t help but catch the other’s curious stare, “I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like you,”
“Yes… I get that a lot,” Jack winced slightly. His weight shifted with his companion’s support. He couldn’t trust anyone with knowledge of who he was, what he was… Anyone could be a spy or turn him in for a reward. But this one…

He brushed the dirt from his knees, and while sore, he at least hadn’t been stabbed, so there wasn’t anything that wouldn’t heal in a matter of hours,
“Where are you headed? I can’t just leave you here…“
Jack hesitated, searching the other man’s face, but found no inkling of ill intent, “The Brass Canine, but you-”
“The Brass Canine? We’ll go together, my friend… I’m pretty thirsty myself.” Jack offered a forced, but pleasant, smile, allowing himself to be led along, “Tell me, do you have a name?”
The Mephisto swallowed nervously,
“Jack,” he uttered softly, looking back over their shoulders, then to the other, “And, to whom do I owe the pleasure?”
The name was as foreign in language as it’s master’s heritage, but it was pleasant and easy to recite back to him, “I must admit, you didn’t have to help me… And, certainly, you didn’t have to kill them on my behalf. I’m really not worth the effort.”

As they walked the darkness of night enveloped them more. It had been some time since Jack had someone to talk with that wasn’t Maeve. The other beast who hung around, the big bloke… Bjorn? Wasn’t much more than a sounding board, himself. He didn’t even notice the slight enthusiasm returning to his mannerisms,
“Had I the nose for it, I’d say you’re not a vampire. So how long has a beast such as yourself been in New Orleans?”


Their conversation brought them to the front doors of the bar in little time at all. At the realization, Jack cursed himself for not thinking to have Seiko bring him in through the back or some other arrangement. He already knew Maeve was going to badger him with questions.
As the pair entered, Jack swept his gaze around the establishment quickly. It was a dive, to be sure, but at least it wasn’t as filthy as he had expected it to be. Maeve had a way of hanging around in the rabble from time to time. This place at least had some interesting looking clientele and was clean.

Jack’s eyes found the woman at the bar, occupying the time of a young man in what he had learned to be described as ‘cowboy’ attire. Turning to Seiko, Jack leaned in closer,
“I appreciate your hospitality,” he placed a hand gently on his shoulder, a kind smile betraying the coolness of his earlier demeanour, “I owe you a drink, at the very least?”

 
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Crazy Trey-n

lickety-split
Virgil Bedeau
Fantôme
health bar
WHERE: City Park
DOING: What He Does Best
WITH: A Wanderer
CREDIT: WIP
Ztars&Moon.gifHe lost himself to the vivid materialization of his mind's manifests, that morning.

At the time, the dark-haired man had been beside a tree that'd seen more seasons than himself - almost tenfold, judging from it's size - with his legs folded beneath him and a canvas leaning upon a coarsely smooth rock to his front. The flattened fabric was swathed in arcs of green and brown, and dotted with startlingly bright blue and orange; a vibrant contrast of color that resembled the land before him. Trees towered above him like sentinels with their branches adorned in pine needles and morning dew, shimmering as the rising sun illuminated the park and the city beyond in a golden sheen. The Earth was quiet aside from the calls from birds in the branches, signaling the dawn. The man, so small and insignificant against something so vast and glorious, glanced from his artwork to nature's waking of the day, soon lowering his arms to remove the palette from his hands and precariously onto his lap. "Bested, again," he whispered to an unseen audience, something as akin to a grim smile as he could manage revealing itself to shadow his words. He knew that the crude mimic he'd crafted was nothing compared to what was being presented to him. In a way, he appreciated the beauty of it all despite the cruelty it housed, and eventually decided to sit in solitude to admire the true art of the landscape itself.

Pain was the toll; a sensation almost intense enough to feel as though he was burning, brought on by the bright brilliance of the sun. Pain was no stranger to him and while this kind was new, the price was one he'd pay.

After all, it was temporary, like every other thing in his life of lies.

Virgil hadn't been in New Orleans long. While the humidity and occasionally unforgiving terrain were things he'd grown accustomed to, the bustling city streets and seemingly lenient rules on supernaturals weren't. The last century had seen him in towns and cities all over the world, though the reason for his travels had remained secret to all but himself. At first his mission had been what it'd always been: see what he could, learn what could be learned, and never stop moving. That changed, a fire fueled by the fleeting talk of the rising Templar threat. It took a bit of subterfuge - being in the right places at the right time and whispering words to those who wanted to hear them - but Virgil fed himself information however he could, still unconvinced that humans would turn the tables and end up on top.

Until they proved him wrong.

He'd never been one for politics nor of the belief that one person could have such a profound effect on the currents of time... but things were changing, and one woman had a significant hand in it. A hand that needed be severed. Something that, for once, he personally wished to play a part in. If things were to continue to change, then Holly would be pursuing the remnants of a losing cause - a pitiful dog that'd been forced to flee with its tail between its legs.

So there he sat, in the epicenter of a chaotic potential down-spiral for his people and those they'd fought for centuries, waiting for things to come crashing down as they inevitably would.

Can only wait for so long, however... he thought to himself, turning to glare defiantly at the rising ball of light. Discomfort was rapidly transitioning into unbearable pain. The sun was rising at his back while the moon decided to retreat behind rolling hills far in the distance, taking sanctuary in the only place it could. Virgil would do the same, until night came.

Tonight, he'd hunt.

- - -

The sharp sting of breaking skin setting his jaw alight with fire...
The twinkle of stars innumerable, reflected across water as smooth as ice...
A woman, children, hands about his torso, the distinct resemblance of himself and pure joy evident in their faces...
A figure darker than the night, hunting him, with a heart blacker than his own...


Virgil woke with a start, barely in time to suppress the shout that threatened to rip through his heaving chest. A cold sweat coated his entire body, made even colder by the cool breeze conjured by the night, and he slowly exhaled a breath that he'd been holding in his slumber. An ache in his hands and arms made him aware that his fingers had been grasping at his biceps too tightly. His body made it apparent that he hadn't left the position he'd nestled himself into when he succumbed to sleep - seated on the ground with his back to the massive tree, arms folded over his chest. As guarded as ever, even while "at rest."

The dreams were back, it seemed. He still couldn't determine what they meant: memories of people he'd killed coming back to haunt him, omens of his future, things he desired or just indulgent exhibitions of his mind's darkest recesses. The notion of the dreams being images of his fears were discarded like words upon the wind; he feared nothing other than losing his grasp on his sanity and his freedom.

All he knew was that he hated them, as they were the one thing about himself he couldn't control. The only thing at all that he couldn't influence.

The vampire rose from his spot as fluidly as he could, attempting to shake the tension gathered in his shoulders like coiled springs, all while casting his fiery gaze up at the rapidly darkening sky. The moon, a constant companion over the years, ascended lazily across the sky, beyond wispy, ribbon-like clouds. Very soon the tension was gone, the memories of his dreams drifting away... replaced by a cheshire grin, Virgil's trademark.

"Time we get to work, old friend," he spoke to the moon.

Virgil was quick to clothe himself once again. Being physically exposed wasn't something he was fond of and only did when he was certain of his isolation. Undergarments, trousers, button-up shirt, vest and shoes - all donned deliberately, meticulously, with care that bespoke the many times he'd repeated the routine. The jacket that was a part of his typical outfit was left out, draped over the crook of his arm instead, and he cast one last glance upon the city before disappearing into the underbrush.

The park was shrouded in silence, permeated only by the festivities in the far-off establishments that encouraged debauchery and entertainment in the night. He'd likely end up as a guest to one or two such places, if only to learn more about its inhabitants. The creeping tendrils of somber thoughts invaded his mind like a plague as he wove a quiet, impromptu path to a destination he wasn't yet sure of - he had a lot of work to do and even more faces to meet, whether they knew it, wanted it, or not. The beast queen, the "queen" of his kind, and a drove of others that kept close to them. It would likely be a long night.

Made longer by unintended company.

The voice was very faint, but there nonetheless, somewhere in the seclusion of the park. It wasn't difficult to track and even easier to get closer; his past few days in the city were mostly spent here, slowly acclimating to the activity, so he knew the grounds of the park as though it were an old lover - all of the places to keep close to and all of the places to avoid. This particular area wasn't visited often, so company was far from expected.

Everything seemed stagnant and dormant as he silently approached what was now revealed to be a woman, releasing a bird to its fate amidst the starry sky. The sounds of distant merrymaking masked his approach, though if she were anything but human, it'd be soon that she'd pick up on him. So, to set the circumstances under his favor, under his command, he emerged for her to vaguely see just beyond a patch of brush that littered the edge of the path.

"You're quite far from safety, drifter."

The words were deeply pitched, yet as soft and rolling as the night tide. Shadows cowered beneath the trees, veiling his figure in darkness... a darkness that clung to him. A darkness that he did not leave. Virgil had a tendency to play as the maestro to a weave of words; the conductor of lyrical acting that suited the means to his ends. This, however, was a chance meeting, and he had no need of intrigue or manipulation. Killing was not something he'd sought after for centuries, either, ever since he shed himself of the rage that had been consuming him so long ago. If she ran, he'd not take offence or chase, and if she stayed, then he could only hope that she'd provide an interesting conversation, however long or short it may be.

"What brings someone such as you to a place such as this? Only the lonely or the afflicted come here, from what I've observed." A pause, giving way to yet another grin, this one revealing the golden, elongated canines that glinted dimly in the gloom. They were the only truly distinguishable feature about him, aside from the flame masked behind intelligent, inquisitive eyes. The question was in part rhetorical, so he spoke again without waiting for an answer.

"I've never seen both hidden so well in one person before."

 
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Kenna Mac Amery
Incendiu
health bar
WHERE: French Quarter
WITH: Bjorn Thorburn
DOING: Biting Back
CREDIT: Olivier Ponsonnet
PLAYLIST: Coming Soon


Panic swept over her as she ran from the thundering footfalls behind her. Kenna didn’t dare to even look back, hearing him behind her was enough to keep her pace. Kenna couldn’t take him in a fight, she was well aware of that fact, but she knew she could outrun him. At least the hope was there. Kenna had always been great with balance and being quick, she just hoped it was enough in this instance. She had spent most of her days trying to stay out of the way and avoiding people, she really didn’t want to have to deal with this right now. Finding a place to sleep had been the only thing on her mind.

Pushing past people, Kenna made her way around the gathering crowds of people, looking for a way around that she could slip through. She headed in the direction away from her temporary hiding hole, not wishing to lead him to where she might be after giving him the slip. It would make more work for her, having to backtrack to the other side of town, but it would work out better in the long run.

She made a pass down the street, heading toward the French Market, a place she was a little more familiar with after visiting earlier in the day to steal supplies. Kenna could hear him gaining, and if she wasn’t careful, he would catch her soon enough. Her eyes scanned as she ran, a small alley catching her eye, one barely enough room for her to slip through and one that he would most definitely not fit in, though she would find it utterly entertaining if he tried.

Heading for the Port, she was hoping to loop back around, putting as much distance between herself and the man pursuing her. Kenna could no longer hear him behind her, but she still kept her feet moving as fast as she could, not giving in to complacency of the thought she had lost him, not just yet at least.

What she had not been expecting, what caught her off guard was his reappearance. Crashing through the wall like some sort of monster in a nightmare. Who the hell was this guy? The girl stumbled back in surprise, her brain trying to catch up with what her eyes had least expected. Kenna had no time to run, her feet not following through fast enough with the action of spinning around and changing direction.

Breath left her lungs as he lunged forward, his hands wrapping around her jacket, grabbing her in his grasp. She winced slightly as he practically growled at her. Not fast enough? Breaking down walls had nothing to do with speed. Although fear crossed her features at the prospects of what he would do to her now that he had caught her, her breath trying to regain itself after running so fast, she couldn’t help but also feel annoyed at his statement.

Kenna was about to bite back against his statement, but before the words could fall from her lips, he tossed her aside. She managed to catch her footing fast enough that she didn’t crash too hard into the crates that he seemed to show little consideration bout. For Kenna, a small hit to her side was little to care about.

Kenna’s eyes glared daggers into the man that was so much older than her, and so much bigger. He stated he didn’t kill children, something she should have been relieved to hear, but to have him tell it in such a way offended her more than the relief that she may get out of this interaction alive. She should have bit her tongue, but the irritation fed the impulse.

“Hey, old man,” she spat through her teeth, righting her footing away from the crates to square up against him, even though she really had no place to. “You chase me halfway across town just to tell me that!” Annoyance filtered through her words. “Pathetic.” Kenna knew better than to instigate altercations, it could have the tendency to end very badly for her. It had in the past, and this situation was no different, but she really could not help herself. Kenna was tired, and the little food during the day had not done enough to prepare her for a chase through the streets.

Glaring at the man before her, Kenna shook her head. “Thanks so much for the race, really, highlight of my night,” she said, thick sarcasm filtering through that she made no attempt to hide, “but I’ve got places to be,” she said in a huff before attempting to walk away from him with a dismissive wave of her hand, la revedere, asshole,”



 
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AntarcticRomantic

【100% 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔠𝔥】
Maeve Donovan
Phoenix
health bar
WHERE: The Brass Canine
WITH: Dutch
DOING: Flirting Talking
CREDIT:
PLAYLIST:

For all appearances, the Ravenwoman seemed bored. Dressed in a crimson fitted jacket that did little to hide a white chemise covered by an amber jacquard corset and the snugness of her black trousers, she had rested her back against the bar counter. She’d crossed one leg over the other, and cradled her whiskey glass absently in her lap. Every few moments she’d lift the glass to her lips to sip the contents, otherwise, her focus was listening to the band play and people watch amid the dimly lit crowd. It seemed she wasn’t the only one curious with the ongoings within the establishment. Several people looked her way. She could see them start muttering amongst themselves. It took no small effort of restraint for Maeve not to roll her eyes. Surely the music was more entertaining than anything they had to say about her.

After a few moments of ignoring some inquisitive glances, a young man stood from a nearby table, set his cards aside, and approached the bar. Her eyes lingered for a moment. He looked vaguely familiar, like another ghost from her past, but one she knew with certainty was unlikely to reappear. He must have caught her stare because when he neared the counter he inquired, “This seat taken?”

Wisely, he’d left space between them after she shook her head in response. Maeve was going to return to crowd watching, but then he leaned over the mahogany counter to reach for the bottle from which her drink had come. Her eyebrow perked as she watched him, but his closeness gave the blonde a chance to catch his scent. Beyond the earthy cigar smoke and booze, he was a Werebeast, something canine. He was well built, but it wasn’t all bulk like many of the male Beasts she’d often found herself in the company of in recent years. Rather than for power, this was for a purpose, and judging from his clothing she suspected it was likely something in the countryside. Maeve’s eye caught his sideways glance and his sly grin while he brought the bottle to his lips. Smarmy little bugger, she thought while she returned the grin with a coy smile, only to turn away from him again.

The brunet ordered from the bartender, and when his request arrived he pushed it towards her. “I think you might find this to your liking. A pure American classic.”

“The best America has to offer, hm?” she lilted before putting her glass aside to pick up the one he’d given. The blonde swirled the amber liquid around, catching the sweet and fragrant scent as she did. When it settled she sipped the bourbon and found herself met with crisp flavor that lingered but was mellow as it finished. “Not bad,” she mused before casting her gaze at him with a mischievous spark in her eye, “but I have to admit these American brands are rarely strong enough for me. I prefer something with more bite to complement its smoothness.”

Then he asked about the whispers other patrons were going on about. If he had hoped to catch her off guard by being forward with her, he would be sadly mistaken. She laughed, amused by his brashness. It was almost endearing. “Depends on what they’re saying,” she said, the Irish ever-present in her accent, “You should be smart enough to know not every little story is going to be true.” The Ravenwoman finished off her Bushmills and continued to sip from the glass he’d passed to her before. The more she sipped, the more it seemed to grow on her. Maybe he did have good taste after all. With a knowing look, she graced him with an earnest smile. “I’ll have to assume I need no introduction. Loose lips have done the work for me… but what about you?”

This time Maeve took her time to look him over, unabashed about sizing him up. She played with the delicate silver Dara knot pendant on a chain draped around her neck as she took stock of him. He wasn’t simply a strapping young man, he was handsome and held himself proudly. Sitting beside her she could see how the muscles beneath pulled the cotton of his shirt, how his skin had been burnt by the returned sun, and the start of fine lines beneath his eyes from weary days. But there was a cockiness he carried openly, one that age and experience typically diminished as Beasts got older and battle-worn. “You’re hardly out of the den, aren’t you, Pup?” The buxom blonde chuckled, then turned away from him. "Stop trying to woo women nearly thirty times your age. It doesn't look good for either of us, even if you're just trying to get a story out of it."
 
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legalrehab

definitely /not/ a weeb
S E I K O
島崎清子
alias: Kirin
health bar
WHERE: Back Alleyways
WITH: Jack Fletcher
DOING: Playing Offense
CREDIT:
Inesanemona
PLAYLIST: Winter's Nocturne

Another day passed at La Perle, he had just finished covering the bread dough for it to proof overnight. New Orleans was a much easier place to navigate when her people are full of coffee and bread in the morning, and though they would never know it they had him to thank for that. The idea of an immortal who has lived hundreds of years working behind a kitchen counter may have been embarrassing for some. Yet he didn’t mind it. It felt nice to still act human and stay grounded to the earth around him. After spending centuries alive he learned two things. One, history can and will always repeat itself so he must enjoy the peace when he can. Two, having something to work for made the monotony of living more suffer-able.

His hands reached behind is back as he undid the tie of an apron, others were still finishing closing up but Seiko had already completed his work. He turned to another chef as he neatly folded his apron, “Before I forget, I’ve mixed in some chicory to the coffee blend for tomorrow. I heard our competitor is doing much of the same-“ He threw his jacket over his shoulder, and grabbed his most recently purchased katana from his locker much to the ire of his coworkers. He waved goodbye with a whimsy motion. “Au revoir, friends~”

Seiko wasn’t in New Orleans long before he found work. Upon his first day he found work as a chef at a modest (and mortal-owned) café, and while he may have fooled other humans it was no use against others of his kind. He stuck out for many reasons : being immortal, being a foreigner, his body of work, still carrying swords in this age (let alone it being katana). The list could go on but most of all it was his age. It was not his appearance that made him old, no he still looked quite young, but his breed of were beast. Stag werebeasts like him were thought to have died out centuries ago and most have never met one. He couldn’t help but feel a little intrigued by the faces the customers would make to see a presence such as his serving them meals should they know his secrets. He would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy the attention just a little bit.

One beast can always tell another, it was for that reason that upon meeting Maeve Donovan he was offered mercenary work. Unfortunately, even someone with enough prestige as him was not a stranger to debt and he owed quite a high bill for his travel costs to bring him to American soil, along with the excess of money required to keep his travels here a secret. So he accepted her offer, as well as modest living conditions in an upstairs studio with a Nordic were beast known as Bjorn. He still maintained this job through it all, as there are not always wars to be fought – but there is always going to be bills that must be paid.

As his shift at La Perle ended, another job began, and as he walked to the Brass Canine and took in the beauty of New Orleans at night. The lamplighters made their way across the streets, the sounds of cicadas and jazz filled his ears, and a spring followed his step. He felt happy, things seemed to be at peace. Though as always he immediately felt guilty for being cheerful. It just never felt safe to feel happy, “Why can’t I just say that I’m happy today?” he muttered to himself, doing his best to force a smile. It was bittersweet, all the lovely feelings were always followed by the shame of past mistakes and opportunities missed. Just as quick as it came, the spring in his step was gone and began the war of within his mind telling him to enjoy himself and also telling him that is not allowed.

Though the turmoil within his head was brought to an immediate halt. Interrupted by a gasp for help, he heard the kick of a boot, the percussion of skin against skin, and the brandishing of knives in the air. Upon him was a group of rascals. They were young, he’d guess them to be anywhere from fifteen to early twenties, and green vampires every one of them. They were harassing an older man and pulling on his trench coat to bring him down to the dirt, the older man was outnumbered.

Though their victim was no ordinary man Seiko would soon learn. He questioned himself, there was no way this older man could be deserving of the pummeling he was receiving. He could take them, they would be an easy match - but could he kill them? Of course, it would be child’s play.

With a grunt, he unsheathed his Katana and drove it into the heart of his enemy. He sunk the blade down to the hilt until the weight of his chest was upon his hands. Seiko turned and kicked the body off of the blade, he was clumsy however and pierced the blade through the spine on the way out, surely dulling the blade. He did not let this stop him, he brandished the katana among the remaining four, without a word he beckoned for them to seek vengeance for their fallen comrade. He took this time to briefly study their faces, it was a point to make sure to never forget the face of someone who’s life was about to end. Above all, he noticed the older man who had been assaulted by them. He looked as though he had given up, he made no attempt to flee or fight back once grounded - no fight left in him to fight.

A sort of frenzied panic took over the remaining four - they were expecting to fight, but not expecting death. A primal fury rose upon each of them, Seiko embraced this and charged into them. Two of the older rascals drew knives, and Seiko disarmed them both - metaphorically and literally as their hands fell to the ground. He roared in fury and sliced his katana at full force in a slashing motion to behead them both. Their heads slid off their necks slowly and sloppily.

He sensed the panic in the eyes of his remaining targets, but would not let them get away. Seiko charged at the oldest of them, he had readied a pistol and fired only for Seiko to duck below the shot and then sweep his legs out from under him. As the body fell to the ground he let out a battle cry and drove his katana downwards to pierce the heart of the oldest vampire. A bead of cold sweat broke as he did so, as when the katana steel hit the ground he felt it shatter amongst the cobblestone. Seiko believed in using all of his strength, even when fighting lowly thugs like these and unfortunately, it showed. He brought up what was left of his katana back to him, the remainder of the blade permanently staked into the ground pinning the corpse like a skewer.

That katana had seemed to be to good to be true, “I should know better than to buy something on sale,” he thought to himself. He shook this off then marched in front of the defenseless man and held the broken blade up in defense at the last vampire, who held a small ornate butterfly knife in defense.

You!” Seiko exclaimed at the youngest of them all, he couldn’t have been a day over 14. The young bloke held his small knife in his hands, the fear caused his muscles to spasm so much it would be only a matter of seconds before he dropped it on his own. Seiko could smell the piss running down young one’s leg in fear, yet he did not break his gaze. His eyes burned into his opponents as he took small steps, the closer he came to him the more ferocious the trembling of the embarrassed boy became.

That knife you’re holding, it was a gift wasn’t it?” Seiko spoke, “I can tell, who ever gave it to you meant for you to protect yourself…” He continued to step closer, “They were worried someone might come along, someone faster, stronger, and more… experienced. They were worried you wouldn’t be able to hold your own, am I right?” He stopped moving, and readying the leftover shrapnel of a blade to strike. “The handle is engraved even, they cared pretty deeply for you, huh? Are you prepared to meet them? Did you think your life was going to end so soon?” Seiko aimed for the target’s head, and silently brought down his arms in one fell swoop. The katana brought his head clean off his shoulders, it rolled around to the streets leaving a river of blood in its wake.

Or at least, it would have were it not broken.

A display knife won't get you far,” The sword missed his head with near perfect precision as a few of his eyelashes fell to the ground, freshly cut. Seiko sheathed his sword and marched right up to him. He brought this anonymous man to his chest and clasped his hands around his, pressing down his thumbs to close the switchblade altogether. “I won’t have you disappoint them any more than you already have, go home to them now. Should I see you out here again I will send you to them myself, understood?

The young man finally unclenched his eyelids, filled with tears and his face now a sobbing mess. Without a word he nodded and sprinted away, his hands still clenched at his chest. Seiko thought to himself, a vampire that young could do a lot more for the world alive than dead. However the other ones were old enough to know better, nothing he said could have saved them and the world would not miss them.

He turned to the beaten man, “Hey… you okay?” The smell permeated his nostrils instantly- whoever this man was he certainly was just as different as those thugs stated. “I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like you,” Seiko paused, he wasn’t about to pressure him for information he just refused. Though, should he leave him here he would just be an easy target for someone else to finish the job.

He lifted the man’s arm around his shoulder and helped him stand. He felt the muscles of his arms in his grasp, the man was definitely capable of handling his own, had he truly just given up? As he stood him up he looked over him to assess any damage. “They didn’t get you too bad, and most importantly, that blow to the jaw didn’t mark your face.” He said with a smile. “Where are you headed? I can’t just leave you here…“ Seiko never worked for free, but this was not the time to discuss it. He wasn’t even sure if this man had a single coin on him, but perhaps whoever was looking for him would carry a full purse.

“The Brass Canine?” He found the coincidence almost too convenient. His long time on this world made him aware that fortune worked in mysterious ways, and wondered how long the red string of fate may go between them. He made up Jack’s mind for him and started to walk “We’ll go together, my friend… I’m pretty thirsty myself. Tell me, do you have a name?”

 
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Luxura

Thirteenth Mystic ♥Art by Peritwinkle♥
Bjorn Thorburn
alias: Úlfhéðnar
health bar
WHERE: French Quarter
WITH: Kenna
DOING: Interrogating
CREDIT: Aenaluck
PLAYLIST: Coming Soon


Chasing a child was not Bjorn’s idea of a good time. To be frank, it was a waste. He should have been watching Maeve, though for one night perhaps he could trust the Gods she would be alright without his looming shadow. She had made it this far in life and war without his help.
Besides, if this was wasn’t clear evidence that stress had been getting to him, then perhaps the long walk back to Frenchman Street would.

New Orleans had proved to live up to its reputation that it was a haven for the supernatural. The mortals here embraced their kinds with open arms, finding prosperity in their talents and coin all the same. The Templar presence here was all but unnoticed. And while that should have put Bjorn at ease, the beast couldn’t help but feel that wouldn’t stay the case for very long.
In his opinion, they’d been stagnant, become too comfortable in some fairytale paradise. This city may save them now, but it was too highly visible. It wouldn’t stay under Holly’s radar forever. They should have left weeks ago… The moment Jack Fletcher showed up. The very thought of the Mephisto made Bjorn’s skin ripple in displeasure. The man oozed of misfortune. He’d sooner give him up to the Reaper than have him stay with Maeve for longer than he needed to.
He didn’t quite know when the obsession to follow her had started. Perhaps, it had bred itself out of their close company aboard that ship for many months. A handful that she was, the raven-woman did have some charm to her. And if nothing else, she was pleasant to look at. Albeit, he would never tell it to her face, less she scar it.
Bjorn had spent many of the last hundred years alone, even despite his brief stint in New Londontown. He was finding now that there was something comforting about being in the company of others. Maeve had done well in making acquaintances and arrangements since landing in America. No matter where he followed her there would be plenty of people who would believe her to be a welcome face. Just as well, there were many who were frightened of her, weary of the war she could bring. But, that was Bjorn’s problem to deal with.

As the brute looked at the darkening sky, he realized how deeply he missed those nights on the water with her… watching the sun as it hid beneath the waves.
“Hey, old man,”

He had expected an apology from the young girl, or at the very least for her to run off in tears. But she snapped back with a tongue as fast as her reflexes. The insults and sarcasm that barrelled out of her mouth made the Viking all but raise a brow. She didn’t fall far from Maeve’s family tree, it seemed,
“You chase me halfway across town just to tell me that!”
Inwardly, he realized she had brought up a valid point he had not before considered. They had both been uptown of the water. If he thought the trek back to The Marginy was going to be a chore, now he had to do it with this little firecracker,
“Thanks so much for the race, really, highlight of my night,”

Normally, anyone else would have made the big brute snarl, a deep, hearty chuckle erupted from the belly of the beast, “You have some kind of fire, little one,” It was always these sorts of ironies that let Bjorn know to always expect the unexpected, and think before acting. Otherwise, one could be standing in his boots, having now to make peace or else be blasted with annoyances for another hour,
“I give credit where it is due. You put up a good fight.” his arm wrapped around her shoulders, squeezing her petite frame easily under his strength, “You have impressed me, a feat few can do in my age.”
The tighter he squeezed her, the more it was apparent this wasn’t out of playfulness, but a crude way of showing his authority, “One has to wonder what a young, capable pup like you was doing sneaking around on the rooftops?” he pushed her along, looking as innocent as possible.


 
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