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The Shadows ST

The Shadows "When the Saints Go Marching"

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Welcome to the Party

 

Melody struggled to open her eyes they felt gummy and heavy like someone had plastered them over with mud. Her stomach turned and she fought back the urge to heave as a smell of rotten garbage filled her nostrils. She tried to sit up but couldn't. Then she tried to roll over to vomit but she couldn't do that either. She raised her hands to her face or rather tried too, that didn't work either. With even more effort she managed to open her eyes and the room spun the dark ceiling rafters acting like some weird airplane propeller as they spun around one of those old type skylights you find in building built in the last century.

She twisted her head and the vomit came suddenly and violently. Again she tried her hands and her mind clearing now registered that they were strapped or tied. The same with her feet. Panic gripped her heart as she realized she was bound, naked on a table of some sort in a large room in the middle of the night the only light from flickering candles and the occasional moonbeam from the skylight.

Melody screamed and coughed then screamed again as she tried in vain to free herself gasping and coughing trying not to choke on the vomit in her mouth she whip sawed her head back and forth until she couldn't anymore the strength seemed to just leak away she stopped, the only movement was her chest rising and falling with ragged breathes. She stared at the flickering candles noticing that they were black.

“You can scream some more, dahlin, if ya want. I kinda like the sound.” the voice came from behind and above she twisted to try and see who spoke, “An you an me tha only souls gonna hear it leas wise tha only souls on this side.”

He stepped around into his victims view, his eyes roaming over her body, but he was unconcerned and unaffected by her nakedness he only cared about the symbols and signs he had painted on her flesh, flesh he was about to offer up as a gift. A gift which...

His musing halted in mid thought, the girl hadn't screamed again and wasn't looking at him in fact her head had turned away and she was looking.... His eyes followed her line of sight and a cold hand gripped his heart for there beyond the circle of candle light were two eyes glowing yellow and full of menace.

The wolf stepped between the two candles and into the light it's black lips pulled back from wicked fangs slick with saliva, saliva which dripped from jaws which could crush a mans throat. It was the largest wolf the witch had ever seen and at once he knew that this was no natural animal, this was a werewolf!

The witch his spell of summoning all but forgotten fumbled in the pocket of the ceremonial robe he wore trying to extract the only talisman he had that could aid him against this demonic creature, a Dark object gifted to him by his grand mother, if by gifted you mean taken from her still warm corpse after he had strangle the old witch. But he wasn't fast enough the wolf with a growl leapt the full distance from the edge of the circle past a stunned Melody and onto the fledgling witch bearing him to the ground as it's teeth ripped at the mans throat his own screams dying in a gurggle of blood the wolf straddling the thrashing dyeing man raised it's head and gazed at the moon shinning through he window in the roof it's howl shattering the near silence of the night. As his howl echoed he opened his jaws unnaturally wide and was about to finish what had been started when a blur struck the wolf with such force that it was thrown back some ten feet dazed, before it could regain it's feet the blur was again there this time a fist materialized and hit the wolf bones cracked and fangs splintered and flew. Arms now gripped the writhing were wolf and hands supernaturally strong hand gripped its head andnad something was forced into his mouth.

The two vampires held the struggling wolf clamping it's mouth shut forcing the beast to swallow the wolves bane they had forced into its mouth. In seconds the magical herb took effect and the wolf's body began to transform into that of a young man of about twenty or so. He coughed the mystical herb burning in his system causing pain in his abdomen blurring his vision. He struggle meekly, but the bane had him he was at the blood suckers mercy.

As the two vampires hauled the transformed werewolf to his feet holding him in iron grips between the two, more undead rulers of the night entered the circle one a tall bearded gaunt man the other a ravishing raven haired beauty who gave off an aura of power seldom seen by mortals except before they died.

 

The female vampire was dressed in a provocative outfit that was very Gothic very sexual , very vintage and modern at the same time it was also very very expensive. She would have been at home on any burlesque stage or a Mardi Gra float or in a seedy brothels bedroom. She gazed unabashedly at the naked wolfman held between her men's arms her pink tongue flicking across her black painted lips. “Well?” she asked half turning her head toward the tall man at her side her gaze never leaving the werewolf.

As if jolted the man moved to the dying witch and crouched down to examine him. “He'd dying my queen, the wolf bit him the poisons taken hold already nothing we can do.”

Finally taking her eyes from the wolf man she stares at the man who is her chief adviser the look on her face is not pleasant. “And?” the word is long and drawn out and conveys the annoyance the Queen of New Orleans is feeling at this moment.

Jasper Todd knows that look and quickly stands and moves to the girl who is quietly whimpering he put his finger light against her trembling lips and whispers a low “shh” as he locks her eyes with his. Almost immediately she girl calms. Jasper studies her noticing how young and beautiful she is and how healthy his heart starts to race with desire which has nothing to do with sex.

“It looks real some form of summoning and binding spell I recognize a lot of the symbols. But I'm not familiar with the actual spell. My guess is that he was either summoning a demon or a spirit to take the girls body.”

The queen approaches the bound girl with a flick of her hand she parts the cords tying her down then she gently strokes the girls face.

“Can you talk yet wolf man?” She asks her New Orleans accent apparent but not over bearing.

Mark Gaspard Swallowed the pain and raised his head to look at the most feared creature in all of New Orleans hell in all of the South “Yes ma'am, I can talk” he spit out through broken and gritted teeth the wolfs bane burning through his blood keeping him from healing the damage done by the blows of the vampire thugs holding him.

“Clean her up and find her some clothes.” She ordered Jasper dismissively as she walked around the makeshift alter to stand in front of the werewolf. “You know who I am?”

“Yes ma'am, I do,” he forced out.

“Tsk Tsk tsk, Honey It's a full moon outside tonight, if you know me then you know you aint supposed to be in my city when the moon is full.” Her hand flashes out faster than the eye can follow finger tangling in his long hair pulling his head up as she lowers her face to within inches of his. “So why the fuck are you in my city?” Her voice is barely human and her face changes dark veins protrude around her eyes which turn red and her mouth seems to grow and gape a maw full of fangs every bit as menacing as the ones he has when he is a wolf. But the change is only for an instant as she lets go of his hair and takes a step back her hands smoothing her dress. She takes a deep breath regaining control. “Well?” She ask as if nothing had happened.

“Mark swallows his fear and looks the Vampire lord and opens his mouth when another voice cuts him off.

“Cause she's one of ours, Miss Lilith, and he's an idiot. Well meaning but an idiot nonetheless.” All of the vampire stiffened at being caught off guard as Lilith slowly turned to face the newcomer.

He was old, looked to be in his seventies, still fit though, tall and rangy. He had a classic air about him as if he could have been in a cigarette commercial from back when things such as that had existed. Not nearly good enough looking to have been an old time movie star but he still had that manner. Yes a classic movie star or maybe a cowboy.

“Why lordy me, is that Colby Walker standing before me in the flesh?” Lilith placed a hand upon her breast and gave a little fake gasp.

“Yes ma'am it would be me, in the flesh.” The rangy old timer drawled.

“Oh my lord, Colby Walker! My you have gotten old. I thought you had died.” she said with a coy smile as she walked closer to the man she obviously knew.

“Not yet.” he said with humor not taking his eyes off her or the other two vampires.

“So she is one of yours? I take it she has not awoken her curse then.?”

“Nope and hopefully won't Melody here was abducted early tonight we been searching for her when she didnt come home from work.”

Lilith tilts her head and toward the girl and rest a hand on her leg. Colby continues.

“Mark there caught her scent on his way out of the city and the scent of the drug she'd been given. He tracked her to here instead of leaving the city.”

“And you know all this how?”

“Well surprising as it might be we do get cell service out on the bayou. He called us before the moon came out. And instead of waiting decided to try and rescue her before something happened. She's his cousin.”

“Haha,” Lilith laughed” “That does explain a lot except one thing. She hasn't awoken her curse and he is full of bane, That explains why they ain't on all fours,” She raises a hand forefinger pointing up at the skylight. “But why ain't you.”

Colby shifts a little uneasy, behind him Jasper enters the room carrying some folded clothes he stops when he sees Walker. “We all have our secrets Miss Lilith.”

“mmm.” she nudges the witches body at her feet. “Still seems your cub done gone and killed a witch on neutral ground. There gonna be hell to pay for that Colby I don't need that kind of headache.”

“You let me worry about that. I'll talk to Margaret and settle up with her. You let me and mine go on and we'll get out of the city.”

“Jasper take some picture of the paint on miss Melody here before you clean her up.

Colby That sounds wonderful but I need to know what this piece of meat was upto and I'm gonna have to chat with 'reet myself. So you can take your boy and I expect you to teach him about obligations and such. I think Melody will be staying with me for a few days after all I want to make sure their ain't no lingering affects of those drugs or the witchcraft

Hows that sound to you Colby?”

Colby Walker was and old werewolf and he knew better than to try anything, not with the queen herself so he nodded agreement. “That sounds fair as long as you promise not to hurt Melody.”

“Of course Colby, I won't let a single hair on this poor girls head come to any harm you have my word. And I'll make sure she has a pleasant stay after all it's festival season here in the city and you know that festivals in New Orleans means we gonna be having a hell of a party!”


 

**********

Saturday morning, 10:00am, Darrick had crawled out of bed and made his way to the club to open it up for the cleaning crew and to take deliveries. The Simon Magus Burlesque and Absinthe Bar would be open for business at 6:00pm come hell or high water. Last night had been a full moon and as always the crowd were wild. He had lost track of things at about midnight and wasn't even sure how he had made it home, but it was his own bed he had awoke in alone and so after a shower he headed to his and Dominique's club. He had considered calling her but held off.

He parked his car around back in his usual spot and walked up to the service door, as he was setting the key in the lock he became aware he wasn't alone. Leaning on a stack of palettes was a tall rangy black man with short dreads, Joe Jones, one of the Queen's crew. Derrick's eye was drawn to the ring with the deep blue stone. Derrick turned slightly to face the man he let his empty hand drop to his side as he drew on his inner strength just in case.

“Morning Joe, I didn't see you there.” he said to the vampire.

“Good, you weren't supposed to. Why don't you unlock the door and we can go in and have a drink and a little talk.”

***********

Cara stood on the balcony of her hotel room and watched the morning crowd fill the french quarter where she had taken rooms for her and her still absent brother. Being here after so long was both enchanting and frighting. She had spotted a couple of vampires the night before one was newly turned the other showing him the ropes so to speak and what was what. She hadn't been seen by them and since she had refrained from feeding since arriving in the city she wasn't on anybody's radar and she figured she was safe. But over hearing the two did confirm that Lilith was still alive and in control of the city or at least the vampires who lived here, and that there was a sort of truce between the vampire, witches and werewolves upheld by her and her vampire crew. Neither of the two made any mention of the twins

She fingered the ring upon her finger her thumb rubbing the deep blue stone then went back inside and found herself picking up the telegram she had received a few days ago.


 

Dearest Cara, I am returning to New Orleans it has been long enough

Come Join me

Marco

Cara tossed the telegram on the bed and growled, she was starving and Marco wasn't here and why on earth did I come back to this city what is he playing at and where is he?


 

***********

Dan finish tying up the boat and was about to take Meave and Karen back to his place so they could clean up when he saw Cabe Lowery coming down the pier. He was already all cleaned up and dressed he gave a look at the two girls who just got into the car and waved Dan over.

“What ya doing building a harem there?” Cabe asked with a little laugh but Dan caught an undercurrent of...something. Before Dan could say anything Cabe continued.

“We got a little problem cous, Some shit went down in the city last night, I just heard about it. You know the Porters down in Estelle?”

Dan thought a minute, “Yeah damn they haven't had a trigger in what three generations? Who triggered? On a full moon, Jesus.”

“Nobody triggered it's worse. Melody Porter was abducted last night when she got off work. She was taken by a witch, now I don't know if the witch knew she was blood or not, don't matter no how as he's dead. A crescent named Mark Gaspard killed him but apparently The vampires were alerted by him changing in the city and walked in on all of it. The witch was doing something with Melody and And I will be honest I don't know much about it. You know who Colby Walker is?”

Dan scowled “Yeah.”

“Well he got in the middle of it Got his boy out but the Queen kept Melody. Colby called he's the one told me all this and he asked for you to come into the city and meet him.” Cabe holds out a slip of paper, “That's his number, he said for you to call him.”

Spoiler

welcome to the game you are all exasperated currently and will often be doing your own scenes without other players but we will still do them in the same thread. take the reins and lets see where this goes.


 

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For the thousandth time, Cara asked herself if coming to New Orleans was a mistake. She'd been well enough rid of it after all, even if she'd never quite shaken off the vague sense of homesickness after leaving.

Dearest Cara

She'd been dear to him once upon a time, Cara thought...but now? After walking out on him? Marco was many things, but quick to forgive wasn't one of them.

I am returning to New Orleans

Cara hadn't been sure Marco had left the city. Certainly she'd heard through various grapevines of other places where Marco could have been, given the...activities noted. Nothing certain though. It was something of a relief to learn that her decision had, perhaps, played into his leaving the poor city alone. For a time.

It has been long enough.

And wasn't that ominous? Long enough for what? For the city to forget the massacre he'd orchestrated? Oh, Cara doubted that. The mortals would have no idea, but there were creatures in New Orleans with far longer memories than they. What did Marco think he'd be accomplishing by coming back now?

Come join me.

After the fight they'd had over the fever, it was frankly astonishing that Marco would ever think to ask her to join him in anything again...and that made it all the more intriguing. What was his game? Cara knew Marco well enough to know there was always a game, even if he didn't say there was. A game that had rules, and consequences if the rules weren't followed. Learning the rules was part of the game.

In this case, she'd felt it was better to see what she was dealing with before she ignored him or defied him. He'd been quiet for so long, at least towards her. It was more than a little strange to realize that she actually wanted to know how he was doing. In some dark corner of her mind, he'd always be the little boy hanging onto her skirts, afraid of falling into the water as she led him along the streets past the canals. No matter what he'd grown into.

Abruptly Cara looked at the door, her eyes narrowing. Movement. One person. No...they were moving past. A tang of cleaning fluid in the air, creak of cart wheel. Maid on her way past. The perfume and soap couldn't conceal the scent of blood.

This was foolish. If she pushed herself harder, she'd wind up killing someone in a fury and wouldn't that be a fine introduction to the reigning Queen? It was her hope to keep her presence in New Orleans quiet for at least a little longer, at least until she'd found Marco...driving herself to starvation wouldn't really help with that in the long term though.

Yes. It was time.

Cara went to the closet of her room and started laying out clothes. Something...touristy, she thought. Perfect for sampling the local flavor.

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He'd been about to say  "Worse than that? How?"   Then Cabe kept on.   He brought up Colby Walker, and Dan scowled  "Aww Hell."   He looked at his cousin, the Alpha of the Bayou Pack, the group that was comprised of those who didn't follow Colby so long ago.  

"This is gonna get damn political, ain't it Cuz?"  He took the piece of paper, and put it into his pocket.  "Unless you got an issue with it as Alpha, I'll call him.  It can't hurt to see what he wants, or who."   

He sighed.  "So Gaspard's out, I bet that boy's in for some serious hell from his pack for that stunt.   But the Vampires kept Melody.   What that tells me is that Colby Walker's definitely still got som real pull with at least the current queen.  Is there anything you'd like me to say to him, or just plan to keep this a purely personal call?"  The Crescents were their own pack, but they were all of the Blood, and a screw up like this could well affect them all.  

He had a feeling Colby'd ask for Karren to come along, and he still had matters to attend in the city, so if this ended up being a trip into town, then so be it. 

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"I got no beef with walker, and him being back don't mean h's alpha for the Crescents all the sudden least ways not that i have heard." replied Cade. "But all the same the fuckers and old werewolf and still walking. So I ain't gonna get involved with that pissing contest. The Porters they're blood but some of em go Crescent some of em go Bayou. Far as I know Melody ain't never made a preference. But she is still one of us. So give him a call see whats up do what you gotta do just keep me in the loop." He looks at the two girls in the truck. "Ain't that Richter girl a little young for you?" he laughed as he ask gives Dan a brotherly punch to the shoulder and returns to his truck and drives off.

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While the two men were talking, Karen discretely fished her phone out of her jacket pocket and checked her moonrise tracker ap, lips quirking as she saw how long they all had till they needed to be out in the swamp again. Plenty of time for her to at least try to earn her keep. Last night had been... different. All her previous changes had been feverish rushes of blind anger, a fire burning at the back of her head driving her towards anything living she smelled and heard and saw for hungry jaws and slashing paws to tear to pieces. And all it felt right, gorging herself on blood and bone and guts without a thought for tomorrow, all the word games she played for fun and profit like fog in the wind before the raging bonfire of the change. A private universe where she was the only living thing that mattered and deserved the gift of life.

Being around another wolf when the change was on her though... The fire was still there, it still burned fierce and blue and unrelenting, but Dan and the other wolves... weren't challengers, weren't threats to be destroyed, just the opposite in fact. She was still processing that feeling, trying to put words to it even hours after 'waking up' naked and dirty with swamp muck all over her body and muscles aching.

"Call the man, Dan. We need to get the girl away from those leeches and the clock is ticking till they have another whole night to... whatever vampires do to fledgling wolves," the brunette offered seriously, eyes narrow as she pocketed the phone again, "You said we're supposed to stay out of the city right now while our allerg... while the moon's full, but this needs solving now. I assume there's some formal way to meet with this... Queen... If we have to?"

Her pretty features twisted with distaste at the title. God, she hated having to kiss the ring to do her business, preferred operating freelance and moving on like a fish in deep water. And the egos on those ones..! Still, needs must, and Dan was capable at least, reminded her of the better of her partners.  

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Darrik sighed and turned the key, opening up the door and holding it open with an exaggerated air of courtesy. "After you." Inwardly he did not associated these kinds of visits with good news. Joe passed in, and so did Darrik. Dominique was the bartender, but Darrik knew enough to passably fill in in an emergency. "So, what do you want?" Jones paused in thought, but before he could answer, Darrik cut him off.

"You're getting water." Serves him right for pulling the menacing stealth move. Besides, it wasn't business hours.

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Joe grimace as he followed Darrik into the empty dark club. "Really man, water? Whatever." Darrick walks behind the bar and pulls some glasses off the hook above as Joe takes a seat on a barstool.

"Some shit went down last night near the port. I don't know the details but I got sent to you to tell... ask... you if you could arrange for meeting with your regent today with Lilith."

 

***************

Dan got into the truck with the girls as Cade pulled out onto the road. "I gotta make a call." He said as he pulled out his phone and used the number his cousin gave him. "You two might need to hear this too." he said as he put it on speaker. It range several times before it was answered and then Dan heard a womans voice sultry and languid in his ear. "Hello?"

"Hello I'm ... calling for Colby Walker?" Dan had almost given his name like he usually did but something kept him from following habit. "Who gave you this number?" the voice said there was a slight undertone of an accent he couldn't place. Maybe European, he thought? "Colby, sort of."

"Faen!" the voice cursed "just a minute."

Dan could hear the woman walking, a door opening "It's for you asshole."  he heard distantly then some noises as if the phone had been dropped or maybe thrown.

"Howdy Dan, glad you got my message." Colby walkers voice replaced that of the unknown woman.

"What do you want Colby?" Dan asked not wanting to chit chat.

"Straight to it eh? I like that." Colby replied "I need a favor. I assume your... Alpha... filled you in. Well that poor girl is in that nest of vipers and she needs some looking after. I'd have Levi, send some Crescents but none of them have your particular talents so I thought I'd ask you. Didn't want to cause a ruckus so I went through your ...alpha." Dan can almost hear the derision in Walker's voice."What talents," asked Dan caustiously

"Come on Dan we both know what you and no one else can do down there in the Bayou. Well almost no one."

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Dan scowled, and for anyone who saw it, it was a terrifying look.  It wasn't the best of secrets, what he could do, but it was true, nobody else could shift without the moon.  Well almost nobody.  Colby's words heavily implied it was something the much older Wolf could do, too.   "I see.  How exactly do you think I'm going to get the girl out without causing a shadow War?  You might be on reasonable terms with the vampires, but I generally am not.  It's mostly live and let live,   provided they steer clear of me and mine.   I don't expect them to just turn her over, Especially to a Third party, they don't get any advantage out of that."

He sighed.  "Cade said you wanted to meet.   Is that still what you'd like to do, maybe talk abit more about all this face to face?"   he looked to his two companions, and nodded.  "I have some company with me, A younger member of the pack and the woman you met with me at Emily's.   Will them coming along be alright, or should I come alone?"

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Feeding could be...a chore, at times. Cara approached it with the same meticulousness that she approached her studies, or her foundation's business. The lines she drew for herself were not for the protection of mortalkind. They were for her. She was not her brother, and she was not what Erick had despaired of her becoming. Monsters did not set limits on themselves. They did not act with principles in mind.

But it could be tedious.

Her first attempt was a nervous-looking man at the riverside. Middle-aged, his hairline just starting to recede, wearing a brightly colored Hawaiian-style shirt like a man far more used to drab grey suits. Looking at the passing women, but staying by himself. He looked like a man who should have had a somewhat dumpy wife sipping a more brightly colored drink beside him...but there wasn't one.

Cara took the seat next to his and ordered a drink of her own, eying him sidelong. He seemed to vacillate between wanting to get up and go, and wanting to speak. Exactly as he started to heft himself off the barstool, Cara reached out a hand and put it on his. "Stay," she said softly and looked at him with her heart-melting smile. "What's your story?" She didn't even have to use compulsion on the man.

He confessed with the eagerness of the truly guilt-ridden. How he was in town for a conference, and how things at home had been getting bad and he'd thought maybe... Cara brushed past his pathetic fantasies of re-invigoration in the arms of another woman and got to what she needed to know. His business. What did he do? His response knotted her stomach in frustration. A professor, an educator...a shaper of young minds. Was he good? She asked of his students, and saw a transformation come over him. The hesitance and guilt washed away, and he spoke in glowing terms of the kids, his admiration for them, and yes maybe his jealousy too, when Cara read between the lines. Nevertheless, it was clear he took THAT seriously in his life, even if everything else seemed to be shredded under the weight of his own insecurities.

Disgusted, she paid for her drink and left.

She trawled a bit younger after that, but the 'airheaded' blonde girl on vacation that she struck a conversation up with turned out to be studying to be a civil engineer. Ugh! It couldn't be a hairstylist, or...or sports medicine or even a dental fucking hygienist? Cara stormed away, leaving her confused and hurt in mid-sentence.

Then...salvation.

A delightful, somewhat rotund young man who was in town to celebrate an accolade he'd won. He was spending prize money from being extremely good at some computer game, which was also, apparently, his career choice. Though he seemed intelligent, or at least relatively knowledgeable about various trivial pursuits, he had left college after first achieving a measure of notoriety and financial success in this 'e-sports' thing. He had squandered himself. He existed only to satisfy his whims of the moment. The world would lose nothing if it lost him.

He was perfect.

Despite all the care she put into the hunt, Cara had no intention of murdering the boy. However, long experience had taught her that feeding was a gamble...and like ANY gamble, you never risked more than you were willing to lose. The boy...she quite intentionally refused to address him by name, even in her thoughts...led her back to his room, clearly beside himself that this rather exotic, beautiful girl was so impressed with him. Once inside he started awkwardly trying to 'put the moves' on, but Cara was simply too annoyed and hungry to play the game any further, now that they had privacy. After ducking into the bathroom to get a towel, she simply took hold of him, with one hand immobilizing the joint where his skull met his neck. His eyes widened, but there was no time to scream. She was on him.

The boy did live, in the end, though she probably took more than she ought have. He was weak and shaky when she laid him back on the bed, the towel folded under his neck to catch the blood that was still running from the holes there. With a quick, efficient bite Cara opened a hole in her own arm and pressed it to his lips, locking eyes with him.

"Drink," she said, and the boy did, unable to look away. It took only seconds for the wounds she'd given him to close. She took her wrist away from him.

He sucked in a breath and gasped, "No...fucking way. Am I going to..."

Cara smacked him, gently, across the nose. He yelped and grabbed it feebly. She reached out to grab his hair, forcing him to look at her again.

"Forget what happened here, and that you ever saw me."

His eyes rolled up a little, and Cara immediately stepped away from him and left the hotel room.

He looked confusedly at the door. Had it just closed? Was someone in here? No...no one had been in the room with him. He'd have remembered that. Taking stock, he rubbed his aching nose and his hand came away bloody. There was a spatter of blood on the carpet of his room too, and on the towel he had under his head. Shit, was he getting a nosebleed or something?

Maybe in the back of his head, it seemed like that towel had more blood on it than a nosebleed would explain, but...what else could it have been?

Cara stepped out into the sunlight in front of the hotel and looked around. Just one wouldn't cut it, unfortunately. That was the problem with waiting so long between feedings. Another one...maybe two?...and she'd be in a decent position to last a little while. It would be much easier to avoid mishaps now at least. And New Orleans was a big city...there'd be plenty of people who fit the bill. It was simple math. Most people were, to one extent or another, rather expendable. She just needed someone sufficiently expendable.

It was a numbers game...and she was, happily, quite good with numbers.

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Colby chuckled on the other end of the connection. "Yeah I'll text you the address meet me there in an hour and sure you can bring Miss Gaunt, she needs the education. Bring the Irish too."

The connection goes dead. followed almost immediately by a text of an address on Dauphin Street.

 

Spoiler

Karen and Meave heard the conversation over the speaker so you two know what was said and may post

 

 

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The door opened, letting in the sunlight in a brilliant blast of blinding white.  Marko's silhouette was the only shadow, like he was playing some heroic figure in a shitty scripted movie movie about bouncers at a rowdy bar... thank god Hollywood never made one of those.  "Actually, that sounds like a great idea."

"Sure,"  Derrik raised his hand with a roll of the eyes, inviting Marko in... but not really.  He had no idea who this guy was, but like his current 'guest' this new guy couldn't read business hours.  "Do people in this city know what closed means?"

"Relax, strange yet effeminate proprietor,"  Marko walked in and the door closed behind him.  From his steel toed work boots to his one size too small t-shirt, he looked a man ready to go a couple of rounds with anyone and everyone.  "I have business with both the Regent and with Lilith," his grin was charming in the same way the Devil's might be.  "Kill two birds with one stone."

Joe stood from the bar, staring down this new comer.  Darrik could tell the he knew who this new guy was, and his body language told him he was a little more than anxious.  Marko held up his hands apologetically goading Joe a little more, "Sorry... phrasing?"

Joe pointed a finger at Marko, "Lilith wants you gone, Marko.  You're not welcome in New Orleans.  How about-"

"I face fuck you with that table leg?"  Marko's expression went deadpan as his fists tightened and every muscle in his chest flexed.  His head was on fire and his ears buzzed and hummed.  If only they knew how much pain that little retort just cost him.  Eh, old habits and all that.

"Not here!"  Darrik smacked his hand on the bar to draw attention back to him.  "You have business?  Then have it peacefully, your personal affairs and grievances were left at my threshold and your invitation persists as long as they stay there, we clear?"

An awkward silence filled the room for a few moments until Marko finally smiled and raised his hands in defeat.  "Fair enough.  I'm here to see the 'leader witch' or Cirlcle of Magi or whatever the hell you guys are calling them these days.  Word is, this place is the place to go... so, here I am."  He approached the bar (ignoring hat Joe was still there) and tapped his finger tip a few times.  "Well, c'mon, let's go.  Get em' on the horn, whisper into a moth, do what you gotta do, I'm in a bit of a hurry.  See, I hate this city.  I mean, kudos to Katrina for giving it a well needed bath, but it still smells like watered down booze, urine, and unwashed prostitutes."

He looked to Joe.  "And tell 'Lilith' that she owes me a new shirt.  She'll know why."  He shot him a wink and a smile.

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Karen had her phone out even as Colby said he'd text them, expression focused and eyes narrowed at the game as it unfolded in her mind's eye. 

"Can I have that address, please?" she asked distractedly when Dan's phone dinged, trying to put together a picture of what Colby wanted so that she could try and get ahead of him in his scheme. The series of numbers and letters her host conveyed where noted with only half a mind, fingers pecking over her touch screen and entered into a map search. The result she got back made her eyebrows climb half-way to her hairline, lips pressing to a thin bloodless line.

"Hmmm. Colby either wants to test us or he wants us dead because he just gave us the address to Lilith's home. Lilith the vampire who is one of two people who would remember and hate my father. You never my question earlier: *is* there a proper way to arrange a meeting during the full moon? Who'd know if you don't? Information brokers? Neutral meeting places? There has to be something like that in this screwed up shadow game of yours, cuz I am not walking into Colby's meeting blind..," Karen half-muttered, ruing the fact she had precisely zero contacts of her own in this situation.

And the clock was ticking towards moonrise. 

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In the City....

Cara had fed twice taking less than half of what she really desired but also not wanting to draw attention. At least, she thought as she stepped out of the little boutique where she had seena  nice little dress that would look fabulous when she wnet out tonight, there were plenty of victims just waiting to become her very own happy meal. That's when she saw him.

She stopped dead in her tracks and a woman bumped into her and cursed her but Cara paid no attention. She lifted her sunglasses and looked closer. It was him, her brother. The very son of a bitch that had begged her to come to this god forsaken city and here he was he hadn't even called her telling her where he was, and then wham o there he is walking into, of all things, a burlesque club at 10:30 in the morning. She let her glasses fall back into place and headed across the busy street toward the place then stopped as she saw four more people heading into the same venue three men, two of them black and one white, and a black woman who carried herself with an unmistakable air of authority.

Darrick didn't know who this new guy was but the way he had threatened Joe and the way Joe, a big dick if ever there was one, had backed down, made him wary. He reached for his phone, "No promises but I'll give the regent a call," he said just as the door opend and four more, three men and a woman, came into his still closed business.

"No need Darrick, I'm already here." The woman said, the woman who was the regent of the nine covens of New Orleans, Magritte Peraud

Spoiler

MV5BMjUxNzI2ODQ0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAyMTY1NTM@._V1_UY317_CR28,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

Dan parked his truck at the end of the street the address Colby had given him was on. Almost immediately a black Lincoln SUV pulled up behind him and a man got out of the passenger side. Dan didn't recognize him and didn't think he was local. The man walked up to Dan's side of the truck and waited for Dan to roll the window down.

"You Hawkins?" he asked when the window was down. "I am" was Dan's curt reply.

"Mr. Walker says that you and the Irish girl are to go over there where they are holding the girl Melody. He said that if there's any trouble to give them this phone," He passes a burner phone to Dan, "tell them that Speed dial will get him and he will explain things to the vampires."

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Dan nodded.  "Thanks.   Did he give any instructions on where to bring her once we've got her, or anything else?"   The Man shook his head, and then walked back to the SUV, got in and left.  

Dan rolled his window back up and sighed.  "Alright, we'll play it there way for now.  Karen, I'm going to ask you to stay in the truck at the wheel.  We may need to get out of Dodge fast, so I'm gonna trust you with that.  You heard what he said, and you weren't exactly invited to go inside with us.  I'm just gonna ask for your patience as we clear this mess up."

He looked over to the younger werewolf.  "Maeve, you're responsible for following me in, and if need be escaping with Melody should things go south.   Once we confirm it's her, we'll leave, letting the Crescents settle up later assuming that's what's going on.  We'll bring her home if possible and if not, well, we'll just play that by ear."

He looked at the two fellow werewolves.  "Any issues, or suggested changes speak up now."

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Marko looked to the Regent, then Darrik, then back to the Regent.  He slapped the bar excitedly.  "Now that is service.  Holy shit.  You see that, Joe?  You taking notes?  Because that right there is how you take care of a customer.  Grade A customer service right there."  He looked to Darrik, obviously pleased with his expedient request fulfillment.  "Although I would seriously consider something in neon outside that says 'Closed, For Fucking Serious, We're Closed', because that little flat, plastic 'Sorry, We're...' deal just is not working for you, my brother.  Just putting that out there, you do you."

He slapped a hundred dollar bill on the bar.  "And Christ, dude, get Joe something for his nerves.  He still thinks I'm gonna face fuck him with your furniture.  Something hard, not that water shit, don't be dick, dude.  Nobody likes a dick."  Fact was, Joe was very worried.  If the rumors were true, nothing Marko said was ever in passing.  Once it poured from his mouth there was a good chance he was gonna make it happen, maybe not today, or tomorrow... but one day there you were walking down the street and BAM, he'd snatch you up and before long there's a table leg in your throat (if you were lucky), people are laughing about it, and Marko's calling it 'another Tuesday'.

With a smile and no apparent slow down to his apparently infinite stores of cockiness, Marko stood from his stool at the bar and approached the Regent like they were old friends, or that he had no fear whatsoever.  He barely made it a few steps when one of her gorillas stepped to 'protect' her.  "That's adorable.  Okay gentleman, I get it, and I respect the whole blind loyalty bit, I do, really, but let me explain how this diplomacy is going to work: before she," he pointed to the Regent.  "Whips up enough mojo to stop me and lay me low, I will have already killed two of you.  I'll let you three decide which two.  Now, if I wanted a fight, Regent Peraud, the 'I Troll Trap Threads On 4chan' bartender over there would already be a fine red mist and 'Notice Me Sempai, Lillith, Notice Me' Joe, over there would already be spit roasted with Ikea's finest in budget bar furnishings."  He gestured to the tables in the club.

"No, Regent, I'm not here to fight.  Fact is, I need your help.  So, you scratch my back," He motioned a finger in between the two of them and waved back and forth from her to him, to her.  "And we do a little chocolate/vanilla swirl later on my favorite rug right in front of the fire place, because damn woman, you are fine."

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The woman and her pals weren't known to Cara. They could be newly turned vampires, but that would be a lot of them to be running around with daylight rings; hardly commonplace conveniences. So werewolves or witches.

Not hard to figure that out. Werewolves didn't generally strut much in the city. You had to go out into the bayou to see that little shitshow.

So. Marko and witches, meeting in a bar.

What did her brother want with witches? He'd never gotten along with them, even compared to how well he got along with everyone else.

She cruised over to the door and quietly eased it open enough to see inside. If no one was watching, she'd sneak in...if someone was too close, she'd stay put and listen through the door before making her grand entrance.

Who knew? Maybe saving a few witches would buy her a favor or two. Could come in handy.

 

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Darrik bore it all impassively, but the internal alarm system was definitely above Code Green. Lilith's pushy representative, the Regent and company, and an arrogant, officially reviled, potentially very dangerous vampire, all in here way too early. Plus soon Lilith herself, according to Joe's original comments. It was probably as well Dominique was not here yet.

"Fine. Joe, call Lilith, then give me your drink order. Same for Marko... Margritte and friends." And he observed the open door and the figure lurking beyond. "And to the gentleman or lady just outside, we're not open, unless you remarkably happen to have special business with someone already here."

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Well, it'd been worth a try.

Cara strolled in as if that'd always been her intention.

"It's all right, mi amor," she said placatingly to Darrik, "I was invited after all."

Her dark eyes fixed on Marko.

"Go on. Don't let me stop you. As if you ever did."

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Dan and Meave walked up the street toward the large house. Dan had known about vampires since the day he triggered his curse some ten years before but in all that time he had never actually seen one and now here he was walking into the den of the most notorious l vampire in the state maybe even the country.

The house wasn't what he expected, not that the Gothic manor he has in his mind would have fit but this was defiantly not that. The building was old probably originally built before the civil war. It had Spanish and French styling about it that surprisingly didn't clash but did give it a sense of the exotic. It was large fully taking up a quarter of the block it was a two story with a couple of square towers reaching up to add a limited third floor. The ground floor was completely without windows and only had one set of double doors opening onto the street that could be seen, there was a paved drive that went between the house and their nearer neighbor it went around to the back of the property which was closed off with a wrought iron gate. The second floor was full encompassed by a balcony and there were many heavily curtained windows and french doors. The house was well kept and had a very lived in look. No one would have expected it to be the home of a monster.

Dan knocked on the door and waited. About a minute after he knocked his keen ears picked up approaching foot steps. They arrived at the door and the right side door opened revealing a tall black woman with tattoos on her arms, dressed in leather pants with studs and a Bad Religion t-shirt her long straight hair was pulled to the left revealing a half shaved scalp and some tattoos. She looked the two werewolves at the door over “Can I help you.” Her voice was low and husky her accent was not local maybe east coast.

Spoiler

trini.jpg

“We are here to speak to Lilith, Colby Walker sent us.” Dan said

The girl nodded slowly almost like she was bobbing her head to some song only she could here. “Okay.” She pulled the door open all the way and gestured for the two to enter. The door opened onto a wide corridor which ran about twenty feet into a very Large vestibule. The court was open to the sky and there was a large 16th century fountain standing in the middle. Off to the left was a sweeping stair leading to the second floor. Like the outside a balcony ran around the inner court and many doors to private rooms could be seen. As the entered the vestibule Dan and Meave could see three other vampire, at least they figured they were vampires, one was sitting at a small desk in a corner the other two on a large sofa that looked out of place. All three were looking at cell phones. Two more vampires were descending the stairs, a man and a striking woman, whom Dan recognized from her description, Lilith Ramboux.

“Whats this Trini?” asked Lilith as she stepped off the stairs giving Dan and Meave an appraisal. “They come from the wolves, Lilith.”

Lilith arched an eyebrow at that

“Colby walker sent us to take Melody home.” said Dan who was tensing, this could get bad.

“Take her home? What is this I made myself clear last night. The girl stays here until I am certain what is going on.”

Dan held out the cell phone he had been given, Lilith looks at the offered phone but makes no move. Trini steps up and takes the phone, “Looks like a burner,” she said. At a glance from Lilith she presses the speed dial. “Hello? Yeah wait a sec,” She holds the phone out toward Lilith. “It's the old guy from last night.” Lilith takes the phone and holds it to her ear.

“Colby, two of your pups are hear saying they are here to take little melody away from me. What is this?” She listens a minute then gives a little laugh. “Alright, I can live with that.” She disconnects and hands the phone back to Trini. “Seems you misunderstood your alpha, Melody is in my care he wants you two to stay here and watch over her making sure we don't corrupt the little thing. Jasper where is Melody now.”

The male vampire that had come down the stairs with Lilith spoke for the first time. “She's playing video games in the tv room, with Todd.”

Lilith lets out a little exasperated sigh then looks at Meave. “You look about the same age as melody, you can stay and play games and watch her, while me and your big friend here go run an errand.” She looks at Dan. “What did you say your name was dear?”

“I didn't,” Dan answers, “it's Dan and this is Meave and I'm not leaving either of them here alone.”

“Haha, darling they aren't alone, Trini will be here and the other boys, and there is always Todd.” She steps up close to Dan and fingers the collar of his shit, “And while they are having fun playing their games we are going to get to the bottom of all of this wouldn't your alpha like that.”

“It's alright Dan, I can watch Melody.” inject Meave

“Oh my god that accent is adorable, common Dan the Irish lass has it handled, and we got shit to do.” She brushes past Dan and heads toward the door. “Jasper give Dan here your phone with the pictures you can stay two company threes a crowd.”

Jasper scowls but hands his phone to Dan who has lost all control of the situation. “Meave..”

“I'll be fine Dan.” Meave cuts him off.

Trini smiles at Dan and runs her teeth across some very sharp teeth “Don't worry wolf man, I'll keep em safe for you. Come on Meave the game room is this way.” She says and leads the young wolf away.

Dan gives in and joins Lilith outside.

Outside Dan joins Lilith who is looking up and down the street.

“Wheres your car? Don't tell me you walked.” She says.

Dan steps up beside her and waves at Karen down the street motioning her to come get him. “It's a truck and about that threes a crowd thing....

 

**************

The witch closest to the door turned to block Cara. But Marguerite gestured for him to step back. “Let her in Carl,it's alright." She stepped a step closer to Marco putting her in front of her companions.

"Marco Angelo, I don't know you, to me your nothing but a fairy tale goblin my grandma used to tell stories about and by far you were not the scariest. But I channel the ancestors and they have very very long memories. So don't be so sure of yourself Marco, you've already been cursed by one witch don't be so sure this one can't kill you with blink.

This place is neutral and everyone of us in the supernatural community recognize that and we defend it's neutrality. So let's everyone be polite. It so happens that I am meeting the very person you are wanting to meet so why don't we all sit and have a decent friendly talk and see if we can solve everyone's problems with out any deaths.”

Marguerite sits at one of the tables while her two men sit at another all the way across the room and the one by the door sits at a table there. "Why don't we all sit. Darrick this is your place and I shall invoke the right of home, your the lord of this house. I ask that you stand as impartial arbitrator for the things to be discussed today. Know that you have the full confidence and backing of the ancestors in this."

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"If you could," All the whimsy and snark drained from Marko's expression and his tone become one of pure stoic honesty.  Much like the Regent, he suddenly commanded the same measure of respect with nothing more than posture and tone.  She was powerful, sure, but the world be damned before he would allow her to disrespect him in front of others with threats like killing him with nothing more than 'a blink'.  "You wouldn't need three to protect you Regent.  Be very careful with your words, do not think for a moment that you are safe from me simply because I am cursed.  I would expect a woman in your station to be a bit wiser than that, but then again, the average reading level for this shit hole of a city is around the eighth-grade level."

He suddenly smiled and the whimsy returned, like a sociopath finished with a thought they couldn't quite wrap their heads around, in this case, why the Regent would be so bold as to actually issue a challenge that she could kill him so easily (and seemed willing to do so).  "Now, I assure you, Regent, there is no one else fit to arrive that I need to waste my time with.  All I need is for you and your gaggle of finger wigglers to remove this little curse and I will be out of your city and out of your lives.  As an added bonus, I will, as a courtesy, owe you a debt of gratitude.  Pretty sweet deal if you ask me."

"Wait," Cara held up a hand, approaching Marko in an attempt to understand what was going on.  "You're cursed?"

Marko's bravado broke in the wake of his sister entering the conversation.  "Well, yeah," he shrugged like it was no big deal.  "I mean, seriously, are you surprised?  Shit had to happen eventually.  I'm a complete asshole and brought this on my self."  He sighed and pursed his lips, visible frustrated.  "That is not what I meant to say... ugh, this thing needs to go away, like now."

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Karen had bitten her tongue upon being locked out of the meeting by Colby's little ploy. She was going to get a list of names as long as her arm as soon as this full moon was over and work them to the freaking bone so that she'd never get blind-sided by this shit again. Learn the rules and customs of this new world asap. Left alone in the truck, she drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, dark eyes alert for any sign of suspicious muscle and the need to get clear immediately, arrange a rescue.

Dan's reappearance with a strange woman, a little older than she was expecting maybe, brought a smile of relief to her face, but then Meave failed to follow.

The smile died inside, but long practice kept on her lips and in her eyes.

She pulled up to the pair and rolled down one window a crack, just enough to hear and be heard, keeping the door locked. "This her, Dan? We're missing someone if I'm counting correctly," she offered, ready to floor it out of there if the situation seemed anymore 'sprung trap' than it already did.     

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Dan shook his head.  "No, this is Lilith.  We're going to be accompanying her to get to the bottom of whatever it is that is going on.   Maeve and Melody are safe, We'll come back once Things have been settled."  There was and edge to his voice, and he hoped Karen would remember the name from the talk with Emily and not give any further information.  "This is Karen, she'll be joining us."

He wasn't willing to cut her out of this, though he wasn't too happy about bringing her to the lion's den, but Colby left them all little choice but to go along.  He'd have words with the elder wolf another time about all of this, even if it wasn't politic.

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"This is all very fascinating..." Cara said slowly, and despite her light tone, she really meant it. Whatever this curse was, it seemed to be hitting him where it hurt. Marko wasn't easy to get to. And that little slip at the end where he'd called himself an asshole? Self-awareness wasn't really his thing either.

"...but I'm not sure where I come into it," she went on. "Why did you ask me to come?"

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Lilith. The Vampire Queen of New Orleans Lilith? Wait. Why wasn't she combusting or demonstrating a sudden sunburn at least? Huuuuuh. Karen's eyebrow climbed up towards her hairline even as the second, very unpleasant implications hit her. Hostage? Favor? Ooooh. Information was her lever into people and she was sorely lacking today.

"Is that so? Alright. Get on in," she drawled in response, even tone hiding her alarm as she unlocked the doors, "Pleasure to meet you, Miss Lilith. Did you pick that name yourself or were your parents amazingly liberal?"

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Marko rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, sure, Cara.  Let me just spill all my diabolical plans for us here in the middle of a room filled with five complete strangers... sounds like a great idea.  Besides," he motioned his hand back and forth in between the two of them.  "We have forever.  Did you have something better to do?"

"Marko, you're plans are never 'diabolical' and certainly not hard to figure out."  His sister retorted calmly.

He folded his arms.  "My plans are very sophisticated and made up of multiple levels and in all the time we've been around have they ever once gone wrong?"

"Prague." She rolled up one finger.

"Not my fault." He shot back swiftly, knowing that was going to be her first go to.

"Switzerland."  She rolled up a second finger.

He dismissively shrugged, refusing to take any accountability.  "How was I to know she was a prostitute?"

She snapped up a third finger with confidence.  "Thailand."

"Your fault." He chuckled.

She paused and looked at him derisively, then something in her memory clicked and nodded her head.  "Crap, yeah.  Okay, Thailand was my bad.  Look, my point is," she began to point to each person in the room one by one.  "Your plan is to kill him, kill him, kill him, kill him, kill him, and torture her until she gives you what you want."

An awkward silence poured over the room as no one really knew what to say.  "Hey," Marko chimed up with a shrug.  "I never said it was a complex plan, only that it had layers... and that was... five layers, at least.  To go to him, then him..."

"Marko..." she glared at him.

"Fine," he threw up his hands.  He pointed at the Regent. "One of them cursed me.  Which, as we all know, is tantamount to war.  Their lives are forfeit unless they undo what's been done, however I can't just wander about throating idiots all willy-nilly anymore..." He smile grew wide.  "But you can.  C'mon, it'll be a hoot.  When was the last time you cut loose and got a really good arterial spray all over the wall?"

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"I don't," Cara replied evenly. "Because I actually value the walls."

She sighed and rubbed her forehead.

"I'm going to assume this isn't just about you wanting me to be your hitman, so fine. Finish your business here, and then we'll talk."

Leave it to him to bring up Thailand again.

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Lilith eyed the truck with badly hidden distaste but got in when Dan opened the door She slid over next to Karen and gave the woman a n appraising look. “Glad to meet you Karen, I can tell by your accent you are not from around here, but can I assume you are the same breed as Dan and the little Irish girl?

Karen shoots a hard glance at the vampire sitting way too close to her. She has an almost un-containable urge to rip her throat out and she isn't sure if it's because this thing may have killed her ancestor or if it's just because of what it is. She grits her teeth forces herself to not look at Lilith. “If you want.”

Lilith keeps watching the California girl as she drives after several moments of silence, “Have we met before? You seem so familiar.”

Dan interrupts before anything else can be said. “Where exactly are we going?”

Lilith turns her head towards Dan. “Bourbon Street the meeting is at that damn Witches club.”


 

*************

Marguerite watched the interplay between the undead siblings and felt the first tingle of fear. She was pretty sure she could have handled Marco alone after all she channeled the Ancestors and they had nothing but loathing for this creature. But with the appearance of the sister, two ancient vampire might be more than she could handle.

“Assuming I agreed to help you with this curse, it isn't something that could be done easily. I don't even know who cursed you what spell she used, without that breaking any kind of curse is almost impossible. But beside that point, let's say we find out those things and find a way to break it, spell like that takes effort, what do you have to trade for that effort?”

Spoiler

For Darrick - listening to Marguerite you hear what she doesn't say...there is always a loop hole a way for the cursed to break the curse.

*************

The two werewolves and the vampire threaded their way through he crowded thoroughfare the ride had been tense and this walk even more so. Lilith was feeling foolis for just bringing these two meat bags and none of her own security. She wasn't usually this unprepared. As they reached the club she held up her hand and stopped them from going further. She cocked her head and tuned out all the distracting noise and listened to the inside of the club...

“Damn witchcraft, I can't hear a thing.” She turned and faced the two werewolves, “I need to know that I can trust you, that I can trust Colby. He sent you to watch after Melody. I don't know you Dan and certainly not you Karen, but I'm pretty sure neither of you are Crescents which means your bayou or you came from where ever it was Colby's been hiding all these years. I ain't stupid Colby showing up just as something likke this happening ain't a coincidence. Now there are witches in there and they don't like either of our kind so can I count you to to have my back?"


 

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Darrik simply stayed quiet and waited, letting Marguerite and Marko hash things out. A self-professed psychopath (fortunately restricted by this curse), his sister of unknown tendencies, and Lilith due to arrive. Some days he wondered what the hell he'd been thinking, explicitly setting up his bar as neutral grounds for the supernatural factions.

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Dan nodded once.   "I am a member of the Bayou Pack, as you say.  We are here with you, and provided your word is good, and you have Our Backs Lilith, then I will guard yours here."  He knew of this place, it was supposed to be neutral territory, Switzerland if you would, for the whole city, and was pretty much the only such place he'd never heard of having an incident to violate that.  Still agreeing to have her back wasn't something he'd ever thought he'd do, but if there was some sort of pissing contest with witches and she lost and was taken down, it would mean another round of turmoil for the City and everyone who lived near and within it.    He didn't like Vampires or Witches, like nearly all his kind, but at least for right now, he'd side with her.

On a Lighter side, he'd have quite a story to tell, when this was all said and done, provided he lived through it all.

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Keeping one ear on the conversation with her brother and the witch, Cara moved over to the bar to give the guy behind it a smile.

"I expect setting yourself up as a meeting ground for supernaturals in New Orleans isn't making you feel particularly smart right about now." she says with a chuckle. "At least you've got a pretty face to fall back on though."

"So what's the house special, mister...?"

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There were many answers that Karen could give to the self-proclaimed leech queen of this city, but between how sideways this whole situation was going, an utter lack of information about what she was getting into, and the not-so-little voice urging her to shut the monster up by removing her head from her neck right the hell now now now… She picked one of her rarer options: straight talk.

"Our task was to retrieve one hostage from you. Dan got talked into giving you another one instead. So for now... Yes. We have your back because you have a proverbial or not-so-proverbial gun pointed at the head of two of ours, and this is the price of getting them out of the city by moonrise," the sun-darkened brunette flatly ground out, crossing her arms over her chest, a frown marring her face, a monumental effort of will keeping her eyes from flashing gold with her ire, "Long as he considers you worth protecting, consider yourself protected."

A quick glance at Dan made it clear who the 'he' in question was. Her frown flashed to her #2 best smile, "It's your show. Lead on."  

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"I'll take that as a yes," Lilith said, "I really need to talk to Colby about his communication skills."

Lilith walked briskly toward the bars door and ignoring the closed sign opened the door and walked right on in like she owned the world.

21 hours ago, The Shadows ST said:

“Assuming I agreed to help you with this curse, it isn't something that could be done easily. I don't even know who cursed you what spell she used, without that breaking any kind of curse is almost impossible. But beside that point, let's say we find out those things and find a way to break it, spell like that takes effort, what do you have to trade for that effort?”

At that very moment the door opened and in walked the subject of fantasies and nightmares. Marco smiled wickedly and Lilith stopped so suddenly that Dan and Karen almost ran into her. The look of shock on Lilith's face said it all, but she spoke anyway.

"Well fuck me."

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Cara glanced back over her shoulder and winced.

"Ah, that's what was missing from my day."

With a glance back to Derrik she shook her head and said, "Nevermind the special. Pour me one of the strongest thing you've got. And...keep the bottle handy."

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"One thing at time... 'Lilith'," Marko mused, pausing only for the effect to remind her he knew her real name.  "I enjoyed your welcoming committee, hope they weren't to hard to scrap off the walls."

He motioned with his fingertip between Lillith and the Regent.  "Seems you ladies have things to discuss, hair to braid, boys to talk about... so I'll be quick."

He faced the Regent.  "Walters.  That's all I got.  Her name was Walters and one of her goons called her 'Mother'.  Prolly some funky role playing thing going on with diaper play too, I dunno.  All the... laaady said," his face winced as the curse refused to allow him to call her a 'bitch'.  It was hard for those assembled to hide their grin.  The mighty Marko Cain, brought low by an old woman.  It would have hilarious were it not so sad.  "Was something about running for too long, hiding was no longer permitted.  Whatever that meant, I don't hide and I don't run, so she prolly got the wrong guy... so, fix it."

"As for payment, I said, you get me.  A boon from me goes a long way and the Nine of 'Leans could certainly benefit from my leaving them alone for awhile.  I think it's fair."

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All eyes were on Marco, his bravado drawing all the attention, Dan was the only one who noticed Lilith. She had stood still, as the male vampire spoke tension causing her body to shiver Dan had moved to her side when she had stopped and saw the veins around her eyes darken and protrude smelled blood as her nails split the skin of her fingers growing to claws. Then all he saw was a blur.

8 minutes ago, Marko Cain said:

"As for payment, I said, you get me.  A boon from me goes a long way and the Nine of 'Leans could certainly benefit from my leaving them alone for awhile.  I think it's fair."

The last word had barley passed his lips before Lilith flashed across the intervening space her attack savage her intent to kill. Only Marco,  and Cara who saw it all reflected in the mirror behind the bar, could follow the preternatural speed of the enraged vampire.

But Marco moved even faster than Lilith waiting until she was almost upon him then easily catching her by the throat warding her blow away. The two spun like dervishes and came to a sudden halt Lilith's back bent over the bar, Marco, his face contorted, fangs extended the veins around his eyes mirroring Lilith's one of his long fingered hands clasped around her throat the other thrust into her chest reaching for her heart. "I'm older than you and that means I am more..."

The words never came as the air forced from his lungs as something wrapped around him and pulled him away from the younger Vampire, as the separated Lilith slid to the floor clutching her chest and the hole that was rapidly closing.

"How dare you," the voice of the Regent broke through the reverie, "This place is Neutral any attack on anyone here is a violation of our treaty."

Marco snarled as the force holding him relented and he swung toward the witch  anger and violence on his mind only to see that the witch wasn't addressing him but rather Lilith. He felt hands on his shoulders and realized that Cara had his back and as well was restraining him.

The Regent continued. "Now if you two are finished we have things to discuss. You called me here Lilith, what is this all about?" Her eyes never left Lilith's, but her mind spoke to Marco <I don't under estimate you Marco, I suggest you not under estimate me. We have business to discuss but after this and don't do anything hasty, Kill her and this whole city will burn and all of us including you and your sister, with it. Just wait we need to talk.>

Slowly Lilith rose to her feet she pointedly didn't look at Marco and Cara. "One of your witches was killed here in the city last night by a werewolf." she held her hand up to forestall interruption. "The killing was justified under the treaty,  this witch was about to sacrifice a member of his pack that he had abducted." she motioned Dan forward, "show her the pictures on the phone, Dan if you would please."

Spoiler

None of you except Cara and Marco were able to react before it was over.. If you wish to post your thoughts please do I will continue this soon if you don't and yes if it hadn't of been for the witch (and the plot) Marco could have ended Lilith just like that.

 

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"Steady, brother," Cara said softly in Italian. "You've made your point."

Her hands on his shoulders loosened enough to simply let him know she was there rather than attempt to restrain. She knew better than most that trying to hold Marko back often just provoked him.

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"Holy hell, I thought we were easy to provoke."  He looked at Lilith with disappointment.  He could already see how that was about to go.  She asked for their help and protection, and damn near got herself killed before anyone else could do anything.  

He produced the cellphone in question, and brought up the pictures, moving swiftly and silently to show the Regent, at least until he stood before her.   "These were taken when she was found, and yes a werewolf, her bloodkinsman, did slay the witch in question.  That said, The packs, both of them, are quite concerned about what these markings mean, and the young woman's abduction."  He kept his tone even and fairly respectful.  While he did have some clout within the packs, at least two gathered here lead their supernatural communities, and others definitely weren't unused to wielding varied forms of power.  He'd come with Lilith, and while she did have a dagger at his side, so to speak, he still knew her actions were not well-looked upon.

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22 hours ago, Cara Angelo said:

Keeping one ear on the conversation with her brother and the witch, Cara moved over to the bar to give the guy behind it a smile.

"I expect setting yourself up as a meeting ground for supernaturals in New Orleans isn't making you feel particularly smart right about now." she says with a chuckle. "At least you've got a pretty face to fall back on though."

"So what's the house special, mister...?"

"Darrik." In truth, Cara could tell Darrik was not just pretty, damn fucking hot. Marco could make shots about it being not stereotypically manly, but there it was. "It has its' share of headaches, but it serves an important purposes - and most people are generally better behaved." With Marco, it went practically without saying.

2 hours ago, The Shadows ST said:

At that very moment the door opened and in walked the subject of fantasies and nightmares. Marco smiled wickedly and Lilith stopped so suddenly that Dan and Karen almost ran into her. The look of shock on Lilith's face said it all, but she spoke anyway.

"Well fuck me."

7 minutes ago, The Shadows ST said:

The last word had barely passed his lips before Lilith flashed across the intervening space her attack savage her intent to kill. Only Marco,  and Cara who saw it all reflected in the mirror behind the bar, could follow the preternatural speed of the enraged vampire.

But Marco moved even faster than Lilith waiting until she was almost upon him then easily catching her by the throat warding her blow away. The two spun like dervishes and came to a sudden halt Lilith's back bent over the bar, Marco, his face contorted, fangs extended the veins around his eyes mirroring Lilith's one of his long fingered hands clasped around her throat the other thrust into her chest reaching for her heart. "I'm older than you and that means I am more..."

The words never came as the air forced from his lungs as something wrapped around him and pulled him away from the younger Vampire, as the separated Lilith slid to the floor clutching her chest and the hole that was rapidly closing.

"How dare you," the voice of the Regent broke through the reverie, "This place is Neutral any attack on anyone here is a violation of our treaty."

Marco snarled as the force holding him relented and he swung toward the witch  anger and violence on his mind only to see that the witch wasn't addressing him but rather Lilith. He felt hands on his shoulders and realized that Cara had his back and as well was restraining him. 

The whole flurry of the fight occurred before Darrik could prepare anything to say or response. When it was broken up, he had a few thoughts running through his head. One, it was very fortunate that the curse was restraining Marco because he was that dangerous and if he were the Regent he would not be making any deal. It sounded like Marco was not cognizant of what Mother Walters meant, so no loophole for him to wriggle out of.

The second was the reminder to keep that pleasant arbitration face, because he was angry. It wasn't the initial entries, that was just an annoyance - but the general violence now was something else. Not even simply Marco, clearly an unpleasant outsider (whatever he might have been in Nawlins in the past), as the Regent observed, Lilith should have known better. Simon Magus was his place (and Dominique's) and whatever backing the powers that be gave to it for its diplomatic utility, the two had to put their reputation and name to help enforce it at first.

Now he just took a quiet breath and let the werewolves present their case.

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The curse permitted him to protect himself, thankfully.  He stood, Cara keeping a wary eye on him, indeed the while bar was.  At the speed vampires could move, he and Lillith could tear though everyone if they truly wished to continue this brawl.

His mask receded, the deep black veins shirking back as his ancient blood colored eyes restored themselves to something more humane.  Then, the curse took hold once more as approached Lilith, currently to focused on healing and resisting pain to put up mush of a round two.  There was what he wanted to say... but everyone heard what the curse twisted his words into.  "It's nice, Lilith, for what it's worth, to see you again."

Cara hadn't sincerity and kindness like that in his tone since... well, a very long time.  This was not her brother.  "Your men are gone because they chose violence over diplomacy.  I regret their loss, but certainly not my actions.  Now, if you'd like to get dinner sometime and try a less cut throat approach, I'm game."

He tried to look her in the eyes but she looked away from him.  "Hell of a right you still got there, though."

He looked away, everyone was stunned.  Were the rumors true, rules or not, treaties or not, this place should be bathed in blood from walls to ceiling!  The ancient vampire tapped the bar.  "Get Her Majesty a drink, and my sister and I will have Jack, noooo-, please."

"I'm going to finish my dri-, wait, what girl?  Someone's been kidnapped?"  He looked around, frustrated again.  "And why do I care?  What is the deal?!  She need help?  I have all day..." It was so obvious he did want anything to do with any of this... but seemed compelled to help this young girl all of a sudden.

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Karen was smirking behind her hand, fighting the urge to laugh out loud at Lilith's loss of face. Clearly she *thought* she was a big enough fish to take down this guy, whoever he was, but evidently she was *very* wrong. The angry voice in the back of her head quieted slightly, placated by the sight of the leeches on the verge of destroying one another. For now. A reassuring reminder that even vampires apparently have mental levers.

"Not unless her serene majesty Lilith, first of her name, fails to release her and our other packmate to our protection by moonrise. We don't want to be in city limits tonight, and you probably don't want us here tonight. Far as I care, more words can wait until no bystanders have a gun to their heads. Then... Everyone... will be more calm and we can discuss this like rational adults without smashing up a very nice bar," the brunette answered Marko's question, "Oh. Name's Karen. I'm new here. Pleasure to meet you all. Hell of a town you've got here."  

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