I Lived

The night air felt the same after the trial. As we broke off, each to our own placed, I followed James and asked him what his plans were. Not surprisingly, James didn’t really have any plans. I reminded him about the crucifix and that Baron Basco might be willing to give him a “home.” James also acknowledged that he took the hit for the Coterie because he felt that many of us had been there for him when he needed it.

Although he and I had a rough stretch after he became bound to Vixie, I think he recognizes that we share some similar traits. I think James wants to do the right thing and he is willing to thumb his nose at convention if he has to. I also think James is a worker even though he lacks focus much of the time. He reminds me a little of myself when I was younger. He knows I’m there for him if he needs it, and I suspect he would be there for me as well.

Tessa joined our conversation from out of the darkness and again she emphasized that we were a Coterie. We may not always get along, but we work well together when we put our minds to it. Our relationship sorta reminds me of the relationship I had with Benny, my old sparring partner. Physically, Benny was a broken man and he couldn’t compete in the ring anymore, but he had skills an attitude in abundance. Nothing ever came easy with Benny. He would take cheap shots at me and justify his actions by telling me that I needed to be ready for anything in the ring. He would try to provoke me and tell me that hot-heads make mistakes. Still, in the end I can’t deny that Benny had a huge impact on my training and eventual success.

It’s pretty obvious that the Coterie works well together even though we often rub each other the wrong way and have different ideas on how to do things. Tessa and I told James that we would support him as a member of our group but he needed to find a way of staying civil with Ivy and vice-versa. James appeared willing to try and that is all we could hope for. I had my moments with Ivy earlier, and even though our opinions clashed in a number of different areas, I respected that she had her own vision for doing things and was willing to work to accomplish her goals. When our very existence was on the line she did not throw any of us under the bus as I suspected she might a few nights back. She was creative in seizing the attention of a frenzying James long enough for me to heal and subdue him, and we shared similar strategies about how approach our accusers in the trial.

Ivy and I come from entirely different worlds, but we found common ground when danger surrounded the Coterie. I’m sure James and her can do the same if they are both willing to make the effort. Tessa is clearly the glue keeping the Coterie together, but I now realize the value of connection and recognize the need to help keep our group together. Our makers were of the same Coterie as well, but Bliss eventually sacrificed his relationship with his Coterie for greater standing in his Covenant. I suspect Ivy would likely make the same choice, and perhaps Tessa and even Cam, but that doesn’t entirely compromise the value of a Coterie as long as one is aware of its limitations. I just wonder if Ivy and Cam are going to get past their recent issues or allow things to fester even further. Perhaps it is wiser to keep our relationships with each other professional rather than romantic. Still, I must admit that my own loneliness grows with each passing night. Hopefully, staying busy will keep me out of personal entanglements until I am able to find more purpose and balance in this existence. 

Regarding one of the challenges of my new existence, hunger was starting to chew at my insides and it eventually led me to my next stop; a sorority party packed with people, music, and dancing. Feeling a bit “liberated” after the trial, I dove into the mass of bodies and lost myself within the steamy flesh. It was not difficult feeding in such close quarters and for a while I almost felt alive again. When my eyes finally locked on to a couple                 in the hallway, I found myself transfixed. The two young people were so alive at that moment…heedless of the world around them and lost within each other. It rankled me that my instincts kept drawing my gaze to flushed skin and throbbing arteries.

It's strange how soothing it felt to be surrounded by life…even if I was merely mimicking life myself. One of the things I did enjoy about my new existence was the heightened senses, although there were occasions when bright lights and revolting smells were quite overwhelming. Nevertheless, as the music pulsed and bodies collided I savored every heated touch, every alcohol-laced breath, every adoring stare. Why did these things entice me so much now? Was I merely an empty vessel longing to be filled, someway, somehow?

I finally decided to leave but the party-goers reached and clawed for me to stay. They did not know what they were asking…that a true predator was in their midst. I didn’t feel like a predator but perhaps that’s what made me even more dangerous…more convincing? The music spoke of living for the moment, but I was just a lost soul trying to live again.

Outside I spotted three stumbling girls, laughing like they had no care in the world. How carefree they were. How oblivious they were to the dangers in the night. Still, I meant them no real harm. I just wanted to feel carefree like them for a few moments. When I was still breathing I never had an interest in drugs. My mother counted on me to be responsible and money was often tight so that path held no appeal for me. But tonight was different. With my current hunger drugs would be a distraction at best. Thus, I approached one of the girls and had a drink. I found the walk to my new shelter to be more...interesting.

It was good to be back at the place that I would soon call home...at least for a time. I was excited about the prospect of starting my own business. A little tattoo parlor would allow me to express the creative side of me and pursue a dream that I've had since I was a kid. The connecting gym would be a different kind of outlet and refuge. More than ever I needed to keep advancing my training and fighting skills. If I was lucky, I might even come across some like-minded individuals who recognize the value of physical and mental conditioning and hard-work.

I also received my first visitor this night and it appears The CIrcle of Crone maintain a nearby safe-house or place of worship.  The woman that greeted me is called Ilea...a beautiful name and I must admit that her unique appearance did catch my eye. Could she make me feel more alive? Might she be a refreshing breeze in the cold night? Of course she wouldn't...she was Kindred. If she was old then she was probably more like The Queen. If she was on the younger side then who knew what motivations were fueling her dead heart these nights....the pursuit of power? The spread of her "faith?" Whatever her motivations, I was setting myself up for disappointment if I thought my neighbor might become an inspiring love interest. Why did I even care about such things anymore? Why was I now aching for a meaningful companion? Why was I always pursuing seemingly impossible tasks in my life? Does the hard-work somehow sooth my soul? I know it does, but sometimes I wish I would relax more and let life come to me.

Ilea was a priestess and although I didn't know much about The Crone's I heard some rumors. She mentioned that my coterie and I were establishing quite a reputation for ourselves. She wanted us to visit. I messed with her a bit when she talked about freedom, revelry, and creation. If she could make me feel alive again then perhaps her Crone was on to something. I tried to be playful and she presumed that it had something to do with being a Daeva. I just wanted to see if she had any humility. I wanted to see how she would react when I boldly implied that rutting with a priestess might be fun. During our banter she mentioned that I was a symbol of something abhorrent to her, but she didn't elaborate. I couldn't help but wonder if she was referring to my respect for life and my desire to remain connected to who I was before I became....Kindred?

She mentioned me being "fierce" before leaving and her words game me pause. What was it about that aspect of my reputation that she put on a pedestal? In the ring I didn't think, I just reacted and followed my instincts. I was nicknamed Fierce because I wouldn't hold back and I became a living weapon in the ring. I wasn't always better than my opponent but I was always willing to work harder than them. Before I became a star I had nothing so what did I have to lose? Now I'm a young monster with nothing to lose again. Sure, I could get snuffed out by a bigger, meaner monster, but that might be a favor because then I could see my mother again. I wasn't about to give up the fight for building a better world for myself...it's not my nature, but my current path is so unclear compared to when I was breathing.

I had to work through all my conflicting thoughts and emotions. It was time to think less and work more. This existence was challenging at so many levels but my body and mind were capable of amazing things if I kept pushing myself. I was willing to see what The Crone had to offer...and perhaps other covenants. But I wasn't about to betray the values that I had come to believe in...values my mother and others nurtured in me. They were good people and I wasn't about to dishonor their efforts and memory now.