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Fandom Vampire Hunter D: Missing [Closed]

Sub Genres
  1. Dystopian

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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‘Elysium.’

It dripped from the tongues of people in the Frontier, the way El Dorado and the Fountain of Youth had misted over the lips of countless conquistadors and explorers in ages before. It was a name D had heard with little consideration, because it had meant little to him. No jobs pointed that way. All implications suggested it may very well be a mirage, a hope, in the desperate minds of desperate people.

East of the Capital, far, far East, he had come to learn it was not false – at least, not completely.

He had come to learn it was spoken of with both malice and reverence.

Finally a job was leading him that way: a rebellious daughter, set on becoming a merchant on the Frontier, had been missing for months, and her family believed it was Elysium she had been lost in, because that was where she planned to stop for supplies, where she heard women were as equal as men, and could find support, and rare goods. The parents refused to go there themselves.

Outside of being dubbed a paradise, the crystalline walls of Elysium may as well have held a sign above it, announcing to others to give up all hope, for none ever seemed to leave. Was it by choice? That, D did not know, and that, D was determined to find out as he made his way upon his cyborg horse towards Elysium, now that he had directions and a decent description of the town so he knew what to be on the look for.

Of course, there was still distance to travel.

Towns to stop in during the day to take a moment of rest in shade, and restock what he could.

The glimmer of Elysium was far away, not visible at this distance though everything ahead was flat. Sand blew, but there was the hint of mountains in the distance, and there, he knew, Elysium in a valley. First, however, was a frontier town of no note, wooden structures offering only enough protection to survive a sandstorm. D trotted his horse into the town and stopped near one of the tying posts outside the general goods store.

Other wagons abounded. The town was more trading post than anything else, but people no doubt lived their day to day lives here, too. That was visible in the windswept, sandy hair of a woman who paused, holding a basket of goods, when D made his way towards the door of the general goods store.

Don’t forget to pick up water. Or get another sort of drink.”

D ignored the familiar voice and its implications.

Water, of course, was on his list. He needed water to drink, and to dissolve his tablets of synthetic blood in.

So water was among the supplies D picked up, as well as synthetic grass. He needed little else, and was soon out of the shop, and tipping his dark, wide-brimmed hat to cast a shadow over his beautiful features as he turned back towards the cyborg horse.

Sadly, there were no recon hawks available. He wasn’t surprised, though he was disappointed. He had wanted one to fly over Elysium before he had to enter it himself.

“You should have bought the salsa booze. Do you know how hard that is to find?”

Again, the familiar voice went ignored as D tucked the water into one of the saddle bags, before offering the grass to the cyborg from his own hand – his right hand. Silence fell for a few moments as the horse ate in peace.

The silence was broken by raised voices and D let his attention shift in the direction of the sounds, which seemed to be coming from an alley not far away. “Hm.”

“Might be a pretty damsel in distress.”

No comment, but D set the grass down and moved towards the alley to determine what the fuss was all about, his steps silent.

~***~

Baron Byron Ruthven had woken from his long, long slumber to find his childe had abandoned him. He woke to no servants, no childe, naught at all. It was a wonder he woke at all, when he learned what became of the world, and that Nobility no longer reigned, a surprise to one who could claim to be older than plenty of others. How could anything usurp them?

‘Transient Guests Are We.’

The Sacred Ancestor’s words mocked him, but so did rumor that his childe lived, and had made a new haven for herself.

For him, truly, though she did not know it yet. The problem laid in finding it, and in travel, a problem solved by turning a few humans, and promising to turn others, so he could have a few who worked in the daylight. With such promises, getting a carriage, horses, and other such things was not difficult.

And the humans went out from his ruined, underground home, traversing the wastes humanity had made of their home – stupid, insignificant creatures, ruining everything they touched when they lost the proper guidance of the iron fist of the nobility. Ah, but Byron would remind them, soon enough…he would have it all again.

One such human who was enamored with the promises was the young Claire Lovelace, a vivacious brunette of only nineteen, who knew well her beauty and hoped to retain it for all time. Byron whispered such promises in her ear of making her his childe, of her replacing the Red Bitch, and of living at his side as an equal, too naïve to realize the words were all lies practiced over several millennia, which had wooed more than one woman.

Not including the Red Bitch of Elysium.

She was given an Atomic Bike to make use of, and some uranium to fuel it, but no one had known how far she might travel, and both Claire and Byron were woefully ignorant of how difficult such fuel was to find. She had been on her way to Elysium, finally thinking she found the place her future-sire sought, when her bike finally gave up the ghost.

She was able to sell it, for more than it was worth with a bit of anxious wiggling and biting her lip, tossing her hair and smiling. Enthusiastically responding to such gratitude also helped, and so she had a room for the night as she considered how to continue her travels across the Frontier to this place she really didn’t know the direction of.

Just East.

Just mountains.

As she sipped her wine at the bar, she considered the need to buy a compass, before her ears perked up as she heard a conversation from another table, and the word Elysium. She turned around and saw a few talking, but one stood out to her – his eyes were sharp, alert. Hazel. And he seemed to be the one doing the questioning. ‘Looking.’

She promptly got off her stool and went to their table, “Excuse me,” she went back to false anxiety, false timidity, “Did I hear you say Elysium? I’m—I’m heading that way myself,” she bit her bottom lip as she looked between the group, waiting for confirmation, to hear if one of them was heading that way.

And leaned forward a little, as if to hear them better. Of course, the idea was to make her seem more enticing, more like someone they’d want to make happy, as they could take a good look at what her white shirt didn't cover. Men were easy.
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
The two older men at the table gaped at the sight of the gorgeous young woman who had approached them. One, pot-bellied with a grey, scruffy beard, stared with brazenness at her ample bosom. The other, reedy in physique and wearing a well-worn brown cap, darted his tongue out to dab at his chapped lips. This was more than enough proof that these two hadn't had the pleasure of a member of the fairer sex attempting communication with them for a while.

The other man, though?

He was easy on the eyes, but not her type. Stockily built with a broad chest, square in the face, with a strong jawline and golden-tanned skin. He was very obviously not a local. In spite of the fact that his clothing was casual blue jeans, a white shirt, sturdy leather walking boots, and a brown leather bomber jacket that showed the usual signs of travel in the way of a fine layer of dust and grit, they were relatively new in both fashion and purchase value.

Furthermore, his sandy blond hair was neatly combed, his jaw smooth, and she caught whiffs of the faintest hint of spicy aftershave lingering about his person.

What really stood out about him, again, were his eyes. Scrutinizing and cutting. The irises brilliantly hazel and pupils a stark black, all beneath a glossy sheen. They somewhat reminded her of a hawk.

The young, blond man seemed to not be phased in the least bit by the coquettish display. In fact, he looked maybe a tad irritated that his inquiries had been interupted.

"Yes, you did, lass," he said, matter of fact, his voice holding a lilt of an accent she couldn't quite place. "I was just asking these two gentleman for clearer directions than what I was given at the train depot a few days ago."

"Wha' I don't get," began the reedy old man, swilling his drink about in his pewter cup, "is why you young people wish ta go ta such a devilish place. Most locals 'round these parts know better 'an ta go poking about in tha' place."
 

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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The two older men were clearly quite impressed with Claire’s presentation, which was satisfying, but the young one was not. Perhaps he still found himself in the presence of such entertaining women often, he looked healthy and strong, or perhaps he preferred the other sex. Claire found it bothered her a little, but not enough to make a scene. Not when she had no interest in any of these three men to begin with, just getting their help.

If this ploy wouldn’t work, she had others to try.

His accent was strange, and his clothes seemed too nicely made to be from the frontier. Too nice for someone to be on their way to Elysium, no matter the rumors of its beauty. “Oh, I’m just trying to help a friend,” Claire said with a smile, “She’s looking for an old friend of hers who went there,” Claire answered, lying easily. Well, it wasn’t a full lie – she was looking for someone, after all.

Of course, she couldn’t outright say she was looking for a Noble…for another Noble. People didn’t like that. Fools. “I’ve gotten turned around so much, I used up all my fuel and had to sell my bike,” she laughed easily, smiling as she fixed her eyes on the hawkish one, “But if you’re going the same way, couldn’t I come with you? I won’t be a burden, I’ll help pay my way,” the temptation add more implication to it was there, and in some way she did, reaching out to touch his arm, but she restrained herself from more.

He hadn’t been impressed with her earlier display.

Money would have to be more enticing.

Or perhaps just gentlemanly kindness to help a woman in need. If he was going to call these two sleazebags ‘gentleman’ then she had to at least fall under ‘lady’ and her distress be worth helping out. They were going in the same direction, after all!
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
The way he stared at this woman was very much intense. Any onlooker who would be none the wiser viewing the scene unfolding would have likened his gaze to be like that of a circling bird of prey, anticipating the moment when he could cut in a downward swoop from the sky and snatch up, say, a diminutive mouse with his talons.

In his case, the young P.I. was searching for some sort of ulterior motive out of the young woman. She was a pretty little thing, and it was all-too apparent to him that she was the sort of silly little chit who was used to the menfolk falling all over themselves for attention. He knew the type well, as every town he had ever entered had at least one, and his own former fiancee had been one of them (God rest her soul). Thus, he was blessedly resistant to her womanly charms.

He could ascertain that she wasn't at all telling the full truth, even if she weren't outright lying. There was a minute change in her facial expression that told him otherwise.

Even still... it wouldn't hurt to bring her along if that was all she wanted was to go to the bloody city. He could simply ceremoniously dump her pert arse at the gates and be done with her so he could go about his own business. Today was her lucky day, it seemed, as he was feeling a little more than generous.

"As long as you listen to what I say I wouldn't be bothered," he said, drumming his fingers against the rough wood of the table. "My acquaintance here," he nodded to the fat one, "just informed me before you came swanning over here that the mountain pass on the way to Elysium is cyclops country. While I can handle them, I don't need it on my conscious that a young lady got herself torn apart by one of those beasts because she was foolhardy enough not to listen.

"Can you be ready to go in twenty minutes?" He asked. "I need to finish my business here before taking leave, myself."

~***~

In the sand-encrusted passage between two buildings were two people: a man and a woman.

The man was tall, with broadly built shoulders, a barrel chest, and strong arms. The physique of a hard laborer. Though, he had the unfortunate paunch of middle age settled into his belly that so many males faced if their physical exertions failed to keep up with their drinking habits. His dark hair was cropped short, and he had a five-day shadow of a beard dusting his jaw, cheeks, and upper lip.

The woman was much smaller than him. One looking onward wouldn't have noticed anything of her appearance due to the fact that her back was turned towards the entrance, other than the fact that she was a petite thing with dark hair and wearing a plain pair of black jeans. She was nearly standing on her toes, yelling a mix of obscenities and threats at the man, while furious blood rose to the man's neck and cheeks and his eyes darkened with anger.

"You goddamn scumbag, tell me what you did to him, or I-"

The man's lip curled.

She didn't get to finish her sentence, as she was interrupted by a harsh slap to her face that sent her head jerking sharply to the side and her dark hair fanning out over her face.
 
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Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Claire drew her hand back as the man agreed to take her along, and clasped them together in giddy excitement as he agreed, trying not to bounce on her toes as he agreed so easily, without even asking for a bit of money in exchange! Just that she listen to him, which she could do, as she eagerly nodded, “I won’t be any trouble at all! I would hate to get on the wrong side of those cyclops.”

She couldn’t imagine the man knew much more, other than avoid them, which ought to be enough. The only thing she could imagine doing was putting something in their one huge eye, but other than that? No ideas.

“I’m ready now – well, just have to grab my bag upstairs and I will be,” she clarified, quite willing to be on her way. “That’ll be quick, I haven’t unpacked at all.” Sure, she wanted some sleep, and breakfast, but this was far more important than all of that. What were small comforts compared to thousands of years of luxury that she’d been promised? All of that nonsense paled in comparison.

“Oh!” realizing herself, she stuck her hand forward, “I’m Claire Lovelace, by the way,” it was rude not to at least offer her name, “And I really appreciate you taking me along. It means so much to me.” More than he could imagine. More than he needed to know, too.

~***~

How many times had D come upon similar situations? Hard to tell. Despite all the hardships women in the Frontier faced, there were some that never became meek or timid. In fact, so many of them tried to challenge their place in it all, and went on to fight for more. Through the string of obscenities, D could surmise that this woman felt the larger man had wronged her – hurt someone dear to her, it seemed. Or was suspected of it, at any rate.

Anger was apparent, but she wasn’t the one to start the violence.

That was the man, and as soon as that slap connected, D glided into the alleyway with a calm, neutral expression, somewhat behind and off to the side of the woman to indicate precisely which side he had chosen in this fight.

“You shouldn’t hit a lady,” he said lowly, his voice calm, but steeled. He did not approve of the man’s decision at all to react to a woman’s concerns with violence, no matter what insults she lobbed at him. “Especially one looking for another person. Just answer the questions she has.”

Although he made no further move, the ones he did make were enough to suggest threat. His head was tilted up to show his focused, dark brown eyes – just the hint of red to them – and a hand resting upon the hilt of a long, undrawn blade. The way he held his body weight also suggested he would be quick to move, if the broader man thought to run, or attack.

Thankfully, Left-Hand chose to be silent.
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
Minding his manners accordingly, the Detective grasped the girl's hand in his, giving it a firm shake. The skin of her hands was relatively soft beneath his own, and he pondered whether or not Miss Lovelace was even from the Frontier. Not that it had anything to do with her fine looks--there were plenty of beautiful women outside the cities--but he had never met a common farm girl, let alone a female laborer, without callouses dotting her palms and the pads of her fingers. They all had them, no matter how well they treated their aching joints and split skins with salves after a days work, whether it be chaffing wheat or repairing a dock.

Perhaps she was from one of the larger towns? Maybe even the daughter of some nice well-to-do folks who owned a local business or something of the like. Or even a rich farmer's daughter. In either case, the young man filed away the possibilities into a hypothetical cabinet. He figured would eventually piece together Claire Lovelace. They would be traveling together for more than a few days, after all.

"Meet me on the veranda when you're all set to go, lass, I'll just be finishing up here." He saw her leave out of his periphery as he turned his attentions back to the two yokels.

"Now, where were we? Ah yes, Elysium's entryway-"

Twenty minutes later, and the Detective was stood by the bar table before the two men, shaking hands, bidding adieus, and taking no heed of any final warnings to turn back while he still could. It wasn't as if he had much of a choice... he had, after all, signed a contract. And he was not a man to cut loose his end of a bargain. This, of course, was based upon personal principles and the promise of the other half of the sum he was owed once he had found sufficient evidence for his client.

Hefting his backpack over his shoulder, the Detective exited the bar to come and stand upon the bar's veranda to wait for his new travel companion. He leaned his weight back against the balcony, coming to a rest and gazing out at the sun-baked buildings made up of sand-blasted wood and the scrub lands beyond glimmering beneath a lazy mist of sunlight and heat.

~***~

The man flinched, jerking backwards at the sudden appearance of someone behind her. Catherine could taste the tang of iron and salt seep onto her tongue. The bastard had managed to cut her cheek from the inside with that force.

She had barely made sense of the stranger's jumble of words through the sudden rush of a scarlet-tinged haze of fury that coursed through her veins and pounded through her head, other than the fact that the distinct scent her sensitive nose caught told her that whomever was backing her up was male. That, and the low, chest-driven pitch of the stranger's voice.

Gritting her teeth, and clenching her fists hard enough for her nails to leave sharp dents in her palms, Catherine resisted the urge to strike back at the man who had hit her; although, the desire to begin pummeling the overgrown lout into the dirt until his skull was paste was a very tempting idea.

"Look, man, the crazy friggin' bitch came at me first accusing me of something I didn't do," the man huffed, trying to bolster himself with bravado in spite of the fear and nervousness practically trickling through every pore.

"Liar," Catherine spat venomously. "Everyone with two firing neurons around here knows that you're a lech with a disturbing obsession with kids-"

"-an' I didn't take no kid, ya dumb broad!"
 

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Claire bounded away shortly after the handshake to gather her things, taking up her traveling bag and slinging it over a shoulder. It was a good-sized cylinder, it had made the journey with her so far, mostly clothing, but a few other items to set up a quick tent outside, a gun should the need arise, and of course, the tiny drone that Byron had sent her along with, that she was meant to activate only after reaching Elysium.

It would travel back to Byron with the coordinates, so he could locate the place on his own, and she would have time to scope it out and provide him any crucial information once he arrived to claim what was rightfully his.

Claire did, however, take time to sort herself out a bit – brush out her brown hair, and wash her face a little – traveling was harsh. She hadn’t taken a moment to properly bathe in the town, so that would have to suffice for now. She’d take the next opportunity without assuming she’d have time, the next time it rolled around.

With that done, she hurried downstairs, informing the innkeeper she wouldn’t be staying, and then all but running to the veranda, concerned she was late. By the leisurely pose of the stranger – she didn’t get his name, did she? Did he say it when they shook hands? He must have – well she couldn’t let him know she forgot! – she assumed she was a little late.

“Sorry!” She chimed, still all smiles despite being a touch out of breath, “I’m ready now,” she said, “so how come a man like yourself is going to Elysium?” She asked, “someone go missing on you, too?” she put sympathy into her green eyes, assuming the worst and ready to comfort, of course.

~***~

Blood.

D’s nose was ever-sensitive to the life-giving fluid, but he was stalwart against being drawn in by it, his control the envy of plenty of Nobles and other dhampirs cursed to this sort of life, torn between the two worlds of human and vampire, and accepted by neither, both sides too envious to allow acceptance.

The stranger spoke, his fear evident as well as his anxiety. The woman believed not a word he said, and D did not know what to make of the situation. He knew not this man and his history, nor did he know the woman, but he knew the very real threat to a child on the Frontier, just as he knew there was a place where people were disappearing, although it wasn’t here.

How far had the child gone, that the woman was not aware of such a place?

How long had the child been missing?

This wasn’t his job, but he could hardly let a child remain missing when the woman fought on as if there was hope of finding the child alive…no matter how unlikely. “If you have taken no child,” D began slowly, “then you would not mind allowing this lady to take a look at your home to check? I can remain present to see that no destruction of property happens.” This seemed a fair compromise.

The woman before him had no solid evidence. Just rumor. It was possible the rumors were misleading where her child – however she was tied to this child – were related. D did not know if she had a plan B, but she was unlikely to give up on Plan A so soon.

It was possible, in fact, D all but assumed, the child situation was tied to his own calling. Children grew rebellious and ran away – and Elysium seemed a place many who ran disappeared to, never to return again.
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
The Detective hoisted his backpack from where he had rested it upon the wooden planks, slinging it over his shoulder with ease, taking note that Miss Lovelace had decided to freshen herself up a bit. Not that it would do much good in the long term, though. She was bound to get more than her fair share of dirt and grit in that fine brown hair of hers.

"Official business, Miss," he replied, stepping off the shaded porch and onto the sun-baked street, ushering for her to follow. "Can't go into too much detail, but I'm trying to track someone who likely disappeared within the vicinity of Elysium for a distraught family member. There's been a rash of people vanishing seemingly into thin air for years now with their last known whereabouts being somewhere close, so I would say that enough is worthy to instigate a little poking around."

He gestured, indicating a platform crafted from scrap metal and wood. "I was told that a coach comes by here once a day to take travelers to the next town, Wainwright, about four hours away. We'll tuck into dinner and stay the night there before taking the next one to Dunhurst. That's where we'll prep for the three-day journey through Aimatochysía Pass. The Wastes between town and mountain are rife with sandworms after dark, and if it's all the same with you, Miss, I personally don't want to deal with the giant bastards myself."

The young man's concerns were valid. Sandworms, especially in that particular sector of the Frontier, could grow up to well over one-thousand feet in length and 400-plus feet wide. They were vicious, carnivorous beasts that lurked in the depths of the dunes and hunted via sensing movement from around them with their hyper-sensitive bodily tissue. What completed the nightmare was a maw full of rows of sharp, jagged teeth, and a secreted mucus that could quickly make a soup out of organic matter within seconds. More than one caravan procession had been lost to the Wastes over the years due to the foolhardiness of those too proud to admit that they were no match for the natural inhabitants.

~***~

The working man stared slack-jawed at the stranger clad in black for a moment, as if just reeling in the audacity of such a suggestion. Catherine, however, had no time for such a gross display of idiocy from a low-I.Q. mud-dweller.

"Well, scumbag?" She said tartly, crossing her arms over her chest, fixing him with a pair of dark brown eyes narrowed into malevolent slits that granted her an air that was positively draconian. "It seems this guy's got a pretty damn good suggestion of getting me off of your case and going about my merry way if I'm allowed to poke around the shithole you dare call a home."

The man snapped out of whatever trance he had seemed to be under, muttered heatedly to himself expletives as he stepped aside from in front of the tarnished metal door, pushing it open with a rusty, whiny creak.

"Have a looksie, but you ain't gonna find anything," he mumbled, leaning with his back against the outside wall as Catherine entered and flipped on the light switch, which flickered on with a sharp buzz.

The overall search of the place was relatively quick. It was a sparsely furnished bachelor's flat consisting of a single-plan living room, a kitchen off to the side, a single, filth-covered window, and a sleeping area in the corner hidden away by a patchwork blanket being used as a makeshift curtain. And true to his word, the stranger oversaw her investigation from the doorjamb. His laser-like gaze never leaving her once, seemingly.

And although the place smelt of cheap beer, piss, and the rank body odor of that troglodyte (not to mention she could tell from smell alone that awful, unspeakable things had been committed within the abode by solely his hands, inflicted upon innocent little souls), Catherine had to sadly admit defeat to herself.

Elia wasn't there. And he had never been present.

"See?" The man sneered as she exited the house into less-stale air. "I told you, damn nosy broad. There ain't no kid here an' there never wa-"

"Frank." Catherine said flatly, not bothering to look at him. "One more freaking word out of your trap and I'll turn you into pate for the buzzards. Understand?"

Well... Frank obviously was smart enough to realize that tone meant business, as his jaws snapped shut and he disappeared back into his house with a sharp slam of his door. The latch audibly slid shut for good measure.

"... Son of a bitch..." Catherine released the breath that she hadn't realized she had been holding in, making her way back down the alley.
 

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Official business was the answer, which didn’t much surprise Claire. The man seemed quite down to business in everything he did. He probably didn’t even know how to relax or have a good time. Still, it didn’t much matter to her. His duty was helping her get the rest of the way, which, without her bike, would have been quite the task.

She’d thought she was so much closer than what he described, and she managed not to let out an audible whine as he explained what the rest of the trek looked like. Next up was Wainwright, where they’d rest, and then Dunhurst. At least in Wainwright, it sounded like she’d have time to wash off and get in some sleep.

‘Thank the maker.’

“No, I’d rather not deal with any of them, myself. I didn’t even know they were ahead, let alone cyclops,” she sighed, folding her arms underneath the swell of her breasts, the quiet pout evident on her features, but she was trying not to act out in her frustration with it all. She just had to suck it up and get there, and work on his schedule.

Which would be hasty. As hasty as it could be to keep them all safe, and get them to Elysium. “I hope you find who you’re looking for, though. Seems a lot of people go missing there,” she scowled, “probably because of that bitch of a Noble who hasn’t been taken down, just farming all their blood or something.”

Honestly, she had no idea if the Noble reigning was common knowledge or not, she only knew she couldn’t have him getting soft on the idea of one. Better to sow discord and keep it, so it would be easier if she needed a hand in removing the Noble, or stirring up a rebellion, before Byron arrived.

~***~

It seemed the woman couldn’t help but continue to lay on the insults. D did not interject; it would do no good, and so long as things moved ahead, that was all that mattered. The man agreed to let her search the home, and D took the time to follow, and watch over her search, as well as listen.

He could hear nothing that suggested a child was there right then, although there were plenty of questionable items laying about. It was enough to stir some hatred in D, although he kept his expression neutral the entire time, aware that there was naught to be found from his cursory gaze at the sidelines.

The woman realized it, too, and went storming out. D followed silently, the slam of the door the only announcement that both of them were out of that terrible place. The woman didn’t seem happy about it, and D understood why. It was better to have a child, traumatized or not, than to not have a child.

“At least they weren’t in that situation,” D said, soft and low voice carrying. He wasn’t following her to follow her, but they were on the same path. His horse was near the alley that she was heading towards, “Do you have an alternative lead to follow?” he asked, knowing he had no business to be involved, and yet – how could he not be, when he sought missing people on the Frontier, escorted people, and otherwise did several odd jobs involving hurt people.

Hurt mothers, sisters, wives, lovers.

“I only ask,” he elaborated, “because there is a place where people go missing, and I am on my way there, looking for someone as well.” Not a child, of course, “I do not know where you come from, or how far your missing child may have wandered, but I am willing to help you so far as that.”

Unfortunately, his priority had to be the job he had taken.

“Still soft for children, eh, D?”

Again, the hand went unacknowledged.
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
Ah, so she was wise to the knowledge that there was a Noble residing within Elysium. Well... technically, said knowledge amounted to little more than hearsay. Given that the Nobility had been, for the most part, overthrown once they were at their weakest almost a millennia ago, they existed so sparsely to the point where any mention of them was little to none compared to other monsters that slithered about in the dark. Unlike the farmers and tradesmen on the Frontier, who still had all-too graphic memories of having their homes ruled over (more often than not, very cruelly) by the blood-drinkers, city-dwellers mostly regarded the Nobles as a long-dead demographic. One that posed no real threat to the latest anti--Midian technology that protected large hubs of human civilization.

The Detective, having grown up somewhere between a Frontier Town and a small, industrial city in New Caledonia, knew that there was a fine balance between fear and total flippancy of a threat. Too much fear, and you risked losing everything you held dear to cowardice. Contrariwise, if one was too dismissive, you were in danger of losing everything to arrogance. Either extreme was not at all the right mindset for someone who was determined to become a Hunter.

"Aye, Miss," he nodded, acknowledging her statement as he set his backpack down upon the shaded bench of the platform. "I've heard the rumors flitting around that there was likely one of them dwelling in the city. Seeing as how their already small numbers have been greatly reduced over the last few centuries, it makes sense that the ones who are left have gone and created isolated enclaves to hide away from Vampire Hunters. It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if one created Elysium with that intent. The only things I've heard is that the Elysium Noble is possibly a lady vampire of considerable age and great beauty. Though, the last time she would have been seen outside of the city would have been a couple hundred years ago if she really does exist and isn't some fever dream conjured up by a delusional soul and passed down by mouth through the generations."

~***~

Catherine paused at the mouth of the alleyway, turning around just so to cast a look at the stranger and really get a better appreciation as to whom she was speaking with. He was a very tall man, and from what she could tell, quite muscular and powerfully built, broad in the chest and shoulders. This juxtaposed with an air of a tranquil essence he seemed to exude from his being, paired along with a lovely face. Gorgeously masculine, with sharp, graceful features, thick, dark eyebrows, and narrow eyes of a color she couldn't discern because of the wide-brimmed hat he wore. His hair was long, somewhat wavy with loose curls, and dark, and his clothing equally so in the latter description, consisting of a practical long coat, boots, and necessary gear for traveling the Frontier.

A pretty man, though, definitely not the only beautiful male specimen she had ever encountered in her long, long life.

However, he wasn't entirely human. That she could immediately discern. The pallor of his skin coupled with the otherworldly beauty and aura he emitted, plus the scent mixed in with the clean, warm smell of human... she was speaking with a dhampir. Correction: a peculiar dhampir. She could tell that he wasn't quite alone, though she wasn't sure what it was that her senses were picking up, and...

He smelled familiar... where had she caught a whiff of that scent before?

"I'm looking for a little boy named 'Elia,'" she spoke at last, not once breaking eye contact with him. "He's about five years old. Tanned skin, dark brown hair, blue eyes. He and his older sister, Mariah, are in my care. I don't know how to describe how he vanished other than it was as if he were there one second toddling behind me and gone the next. That lowlife," she jabbed a finger in the direction of the working man's abode, "is a known local creep who takes a little too much interest in small children, if you catch my drift. He was my first lead. My next is Amarantine, and if that doesn't work out, Dunhurst, then Wainwright. Technically, given how so many people in this part of the Frontier go missing in a similar fashion, my first guess is Elysium, but I thought I'd go through options B through Z first before going postal on a potentially innocent city."

Catherine gave him a hard-eyed once over.

"I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you're a Hunter of some stripe."
 

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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The Detective (he told her his name, right? How could she be so daft to forget it! Well she couldn’t ask now, she’d look even more naïve and stupid to go with someone she didn’t know the name of!) was aware of the possible Noble connection. It didn’t seem to bother him much, and that did cause her to cant her head a bit. That was, until she scoffed and rolled her eyes at his descriptors.

“Aren’t they always that? Not ladies, but always of fantastic beauty and great age,” jealous? Yes, Claire was jealous. Bitter. What human could hope to compare to such fantastic creatures? They couldn’t. It was why Claire sought to become one of them. Then one day she would hold that fantastic beauty, and grow in age, so those descriptors would apply to her. She’d have titles, so many titles!

And Clair De Lune among them, something a boy had once called her before he played her a melody from a long, long time ago, which he claimed was before the great calamity that changed everything. She didn’t believe him, of course, he was probably covering up for how terrible the song sounded that he tried to write for her.

But it had been sweet.

“They rarely are,” she caught herself, seeping the bitterness in the hint of a false tragedy, as if she had some negative experience with Nobility. “Not on the inside, at least.” She crossed her arms tightly over her chest and scowled ahead, waiting for this damnable coach to arrive so they could get on with things.

~***~

The woman with him explained the situation of the children in her care. Not her children, she was not their mother, nor perhaps of any relationship to them by blood, but concerned enough to have easily been mistaken for such. Not that blood always mattered, though it was more common than not for people to discard those not tied to them by such a frivolous thing. ‘And to discard them if they are.’ D had seen enough horrors to understand how thin blood really was to some individuals.

Elia was the boy she sought, and D committed the name and description to memory as he held her gaze. He wasn’t an unusual boy. No birthmarks or other identifying markers indicated. The only thing that might help set him apart was the eyes, but even then, there were numerous brunettes with blue eyes, even if it wasn’t as common as matching hair and eyes of those shades.

“Yes,” D answered the question she posed. He didn’t specify of what stripe. He never really needed to, nor did he ever really care to, unless he was talking business. This wasn’t business. Not officially, although D knew he would keep that child in mind when he reached Elysium. “I hope that you find Elia outside of Elsyium, but if I see him, I will bring him to you, and keep him safe until I can reunite you both.”

He could not travel with her to all the numerous cities that surrounded this area.

His path remained straight ahead, for he was a hunter, and he was indeed on a job for someone else. Their loved one was at risk, and there was a chance this Elia was nowhere near Elysium, snatched by someone else. Most of the stories D heard, people ran to Elysium, rather than ended up snatched and taken there. It was a choice. Even those who didn’t want their loved ones in Elysium claimed as much.

What they all felt was odd, was no communications ever returned after that. Worry overtook them. That’s where D came in, with whispers of Nobility being involved, he was always called in for such things, and the case was rather unusual compared to others. Not that anything with the Nobility was usual.
 

LumiKeiju

Salt of the Earth and Sea
The Detective had to fight back the smallest of smirks as she made her remarks upon the ever elusive "Red Lady of Elysium," as some of the local lore referred to her as (one of many titles, of course). It was extremely, painfully obvious to his keen sense of observation (and hell, probably to many who weren't too wise, as well) that the descriptors he had used for the Noble had struck an envious chord within Miss Lovelace. Though, he wasn't at all surprised in the least bit. He already knew from near the get-go that she had a vain streak; although, now he knew he had initially given her too much credit. He could tell now that the sort of narcissism she possessed was nigh-fathomless, brimming just beneath the surface of a fair face and the tempting endowments of a woman coming into the early prime of her life. A few more drops of validation, and the skin would break and the rot would seep out.

That is to say, the old adage "Beauty is only skin-deep" applied very much to his new travel companion. And if it wasn't too much to say, he was somewhat amused by the infantile nature of her attitude... for now.

"Fair point, miss," he conceded, deciding it wise to humor her to an extent and stroke her bruised ego. "Very fair point, indeed. You certainly have to leave it to the foolish to apply a coating of sugar when there might not be a need for it- ah, and there is our coach," he said, standing back up and hoisting his bag over his shoulder yet again.

The journey to Dunhurst lasted well past dusk, with the coach only reaching the safe zone within a mere twenty minutes before sundown, when the earth would begin to rapidly cool and all sorts of nasty things would start slipping out from the sun-baked slats in the ground to search for their dinner. Blessedly, the entire ride had been uneventful and the Detective had been able to catch himself an hour-long catnap, if the time on his watch was anything useful to go by. They disembarked at the stop in town, with the nearest inn being several yards opposite the platform. Once they were inside and had booked their individual rooms, he turned his attentions away from the receptionist to her.

"Since you paid for your own room, I'll buy you some dinner. Just go on and get yourself settled in and meet me in the saloon."

~***~

"Thanks for the sentiment, stranger, it's appreciated." Catherine answered back. "Though, if I'm actually right, I'll be more than likely seeing you in Elysium. I'm swift as the wind itself when I'm alone, anyway," she turned around fully, making her way back out of the alley.

"See you around, Hunter," she threw up a wave over her shoulder, not once casting a glance back at him.

The man was the straightforward, no-nonsense type. All business, no play... at least, that's how he came off to her upon their first meeting. Granted, there was more than likely depths to him that weren't obvious past the shallow surface traits, but he also seemed like the type who kept himself sealed off from the greater world.

She could respect that. And understand why. Given what he was and his age, especially if her assessment on the latter had been correct.

Regardless, Catherine had a feeling that she would likely be seeing him again pretty soon. How so, she couldn't say. She wasn't an Oracle. However...

She hadn't been merely using a figure of speech when she said how quickly she could travel.

Swift as the wind itself.
 

Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Into the coach went Claire Lovelace, although she didn’t stay the entire ride with her companion. She moved around, greeting other people, and generally getting a feel for the coach, before she settled down and waited for their arrival. No point in sleeping, in her opinion, when the journey wasn’t going to take that long and she’d rest when they got there.

At least, she assumed she would be able to rest in Wainwright, and then Dunhurst.

Wainwright ended up a bit of a clusterfuck, before they were able to catch the next one to Dunhurst, and there Claire got some sleep at last. ‘And next is the prep for Aimatochysia Pass.’ Whoever named that deserved to be hung, but Claire didn’t vocalize any complaint. In fact, for much of the journey, she preferred to act overly grateful for everything.

Even if she felt annoyed for most of it.

Like his comment of buying her dinner because she bought her own room. ‘Well, what else was I going to do, share with you?’ Sure, he was attractive in his way, but she wasn’t buying her way across the Frontier on her back. She had money, and she was willing enough to use it to make things a bit more comfortable.

Of course, she smiled at the offer anyways. It was still a free meal. “Thank you! I’ll do just that,” she winked, and spun around and away to the room she’d bought, dumping her luggage and noting the room did have a working restroom attached. She didn’t take a full shower, but she did rinse her body and face off, pinning her hair up to keep it from getting soaked and needing time to dry off. She’d save that for the night.

She felt so much better with all that grit off of her. Sure, she was used to it, but that didn’t mean she liked it. She dried herself off, and changed into clothes that was not yet too dirty (oh, how she couldn’t wait to wash all of it!), opting on a red blouse that was of course, a bit more open than modesty dictated at the top, and a denim skirt that made up for its length by the slit on its side.

Claire made her way to the saloon once she had herself in order, and sought out the man. ‘Why can’t I remember his name?’ who wasn’t hard to find amongst the town regulars. He still stood out, somehow too…what was the word…stoic? Not quite, but that seemed close enough as she approached his table with a smile.

“Had a peek at the menu? Anything good?” not that there was ever a real menu at these places, just whatever was available that day, that week. Times of menus and huge varieties were a story found only in, well, stories. Maybe in the Capital.

She wanted to see the Capital one day….

~***~

D wondered at the woman’s statement, but would not question it, boast or truth. Only time would tell, but he wondered at the speed, with so many others along her way to question from the sounds of it. So, he just nodded, “I wish you well on your travels. May you be fast enough,” calm and cool as ever, he turned away from her to return to his own path.

“I don’t think that’s the last of her, D.”

“Nor do I,” he actually responded as he mounted up on his cyborg horse. Though he considered looking back, he knew there was nothing to see of the strange woman looking for the child – children. He wondered momentarily about Mariah, and what had been done for her, although he knew better than to doubt that Mariah was in any danger.

‘Why would anyone want Elia?’

That was the question he wanted answers on, though he knew it sadly wasn’t unusual. Even children of ordinary stock were looked upon, taken, and used, for all sorts of horrific things. It was only worse for those who were special, often kept alive to suffer further. How he hoped Elia was ordinary, for his own sake.

How he hoped Elia was alive.

D did not make further stops, although all paths to Elysium funneled through the same way. The originators of Elysium, who rumor told was a Noble (all the more reason to hire D, the hunter knew), had done well in securing the location by using geography. Elysium was surrounded by mountains, but held in a valley that only had one outlet. Every other way would force someone over mountains, and down them, to reach the city.

And what a city it was.

From the outskirts, D looked upon it with binoculars that gave him all sorts of reading on it, from the technology that glimmered along its walls of crystal (that didn’t seem to be an exaggeration), as well as the movement upon those walls. At least, those which had heat – D suspected there were some that didn’t give off typical heat signatures, since already, they were skewed in the vision of the binoculars. ‘Curious.’ Not all humans. That was certain.

He didn’t think there were any humans on the wall, actually.

The dhampir eventually put aside the binoculars into his pouch and silently urged his horse forward. “What, nothing for me? I can’t see like you can, D.”

“You’ll see soon enough,” he answered, still in that soft and quiet voice as they made their way along a not-exactly worn path. Travel came through here, but it wasn’t heavy. ‘Sufficient.’ A rarity, but not a surprise. The trees were in bloom all around, the weather under control, and as he broke into the clearing that gave way to the iridescent walls, flowers were also in bloom and the scent of florals and fruits fragranced the air, as did cooking meats, and baked goods from within the city – for this could not be called a town at this point. It was too large for that.

Larger than D anticipated, if he was honest.

Calmly, his horse moved to the closed gate, and stopped in front of it. He only had to wait a few seconds before an individual atop the wall called down to him, “Praise be—” and then his voice seemed to get stuck in his throat, “—you.” It was said as if he knew who D was, once the dhampir tilted his head up to look at the man atop the wall.

D did not recognize him, and by the way the stranger recomposed himself, he had an idea he didn’t actually know D.

He knew the man D sought.

D knew the resemblance was uncanny. He also knew that wasn’t usually a good sign for missing people. “Who are you?” the man atop the wall asked.

“D,” he answered, “I was told Elysium was open to all,” no point in stating his business when Elysium had a reputation, “May I enter?”

Hesitation marred the man’s face. ‘Looks human. Isn’t human.’ Although D couldn’t quite place what it was at this distance, and all the other smells getting between him and this single individual. Although, that was fixed a moment later, when the man jumped down from the wall and landed on the ground fairly well – a bit heavily, but not rough. He straightened up, and D noted the familiar star-shaped badge upon the man’s gray coat.

“I’m Sheriff Roland.” He introduced himself, “forgive me for being curt, but I know you’re a vampire hunter, and quite frankly if you mean harm to the Noble here, I cannot let you enter.” Of course, they both knew that if D was here to harm the Noble, he’d fight his way through.

D could admire the resolute nature, as he recognized then by scent the man was a werewolf. Or a hybrid werewolf of some sort. Such loyal dogs to their Noble masters. No wonder he was sheriff. No wonder he was willing to confront D. He wasn’t the first. He likely wouldn’t be the last, either.

“That depends on whether they are keeping people here against their will,” D answered, “in which case you are, as well, and as guilty of their crimes.”

“So you’re another sent to find people missing,” Roland sighed and shifted his weight, running a hand back through messy, dirty-blond hair, “No one is here against their will. Plenty of runaways,” he said, “but people leave bad situations. We keep them safe. If you try to force anyone to leave, I will stop you.”

D could sense this one was going to be trouble.

Honorable trouble, but trouble. Still, he nodded. Memories of the woman who tried to go to space flooded his mind. Memories of many, many others, trying to escape bad situations, too. He understood too well how cruel the Frontier was, and how few people were who they appeared to be.

That went for this wolf.

That went for his Noble.

These were no doubt the pretty lines used against anyone who came to Elysium. How true they were was yet to be determined.

“What do they say about Utopias?”

The wolf’s gaze moved from D’s face, to look around, hearing the voice. D didn’t offer an answer of where the voice came from. Nor did he answer the voice. He knew what Left-Hand meant. “Then I’ll assess that for myself. And you will not stop me if I find someone who wants to leave.”

That, the Sheriff did not answer, except with a vague, “You may find you do not wish to leave, either,” before he turned to the doors, and gave a gesture back up to the wall. The gates began to open, “Welcome to Elysium, D.”

And he was indeed greeted with a sight of paradise.

Greek-inspired with plentiful columns and well-maintained roads, Elysium bloomed to life with laughter, sunlight, and a fountain straight ahead that any weary horse would be happy to drink from – were it not for the children splashing each other in it, and weary parents trying not to get wet. A woman was featured all in marble at the center of the fountain, holding up a crescent moon in one hand, while the arrows that surrounded her feet were the founts of water.

Her face, beautiful, was that of the Sacred Ancestor made female.

D could see it clear as day, though likely few others did.

But no one seemed there by force, no one flinched from the doors opening or made a run for it. D was greeted with a few smiles and waves, rather than shuttering doors and glares.

“Something’s definitely wrong here.”

D didn’t disagree.

He just wasn’t sure what was wrong as he led his horse through the city, looking for an inn to get himself a room, and situate his horse. The inn would also likely be near some sort of gathering place – a bar, a diner – some place he could begin to dig for information and ask if anyone had seen the missing would-be merchant, Kayla.
 

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