Torn to Pieces

Upon acquiring a new cell I was mildly surprised by the number of messages left. I knew the feeding was Pleasurable, I recall very well the sensations Mr. Bliss delivered to me on the night I “died.” Still, I was surprised how tenacious some individuals could be when they wanted something really bad. I imagine my past fame makes it easier to track me down sometimes.

After meditating for a bit, I contacted Lady Montoya and Natalie and asked them to meet me at the warehouse later that night. Although they both agreed, I had other business to attend to first.

Sophie was also on my mind so I made arrangements to meet up with her at the communal haven. Sophie had become a valuable ally and somebody I trusted in my new nighttime existence, so I felt that it was important that she know that. Furthermore, her knowledge was invaluable and it was my intention to keep assisting her so that my “line of credit” never ran out.

After contacting her and making my way to her place, I approached her haven door only to have The Queen herself step out. She was completely calm, but I can’t imagine running into me at this location was convenient for her. Nevertheless, I paid my respects to the City’s Top Monster, and she told me not to speak of the moment to anyone. I assured her that I wouldn’t and she began to leave, but before she had left entirely, I called down to her and told her, “you may not agree with my views on life, but when I make a promise, I keep it.”

She stated that such a quality was noble, before departing from the hallway leaving me tense. I knew I was no longer human but something about The Queen always made me feel…uneasy. I might be a monster now but I am not like her.

It was good to see Sophie and I told her so. She knew that I had seen The Queen and she mentioned that she could not speak of the encounter, but I reassured her, her business was her own. Still, she told me that she had made valuable contacts and she had me to thank for it. She confirmed that there were still spiders shaking the web and that I shouldn’t count on The Invictus’ protection from The Lost Ones. While The Invictus remains powerful, it has become lazy and mostly unaware in these modern nights. They have grown fat on the harvest of others. The whole city has become lax for that matter, and as a result, it is vulnerable.

Taking in what she had to say, I told her that I never counted on The Invictus to keep me safe and I was staying alert. In all honesty I knew I needed to stick closer with my Coterie in the coming nights because we were stronger together than we were apart. The challenge would be, not killing each while we waited for something to happen.

Changing the subject I asked her if she had anything that she needed done? I was hoping to learn about The Crone called Ilea so I needed to earn some credit with Sophie again. Sophie actually laughed out loud when I mentioned Ilea. She then told me that I was her first real ally and she values our relationship. As a result, she would give me a bit of information for free.

When I told Sophie that Ilea seems to want converts, she refuted this and stated that Ilea wanted me! Apparently this Ilea seeks out those who question, those who throw off convention. She has come to believe that I am some Chosen One. Although I found such an assumption to be pretty ridiculous, I once thought that “vampires” and other supernatural creatures were fairytales. I also couldn’t deny that I was looking for something myself…seeking something to fill the void that I had inside. I felt like a fool for thinking such thoughts, but I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that I was curious. But was I curious about her beliefs or merely curious about the woman she once was? I can never be with Cassie now…my very existence is a threat to her, but am I fated to always be alone from this point on? I know there is always a war going on inside me now, but I still have most of the same desires and urges that I had when I was breathing. Can a man and monster coexist? Does anybody have the answers I seek? Could Ilea be different than the others? What does she expect me to become? I always have so many questions, just once I wish that somebody had some real answers.

Thank goodness Sophie snatched me out of my thoughts by telling me what she needed from me. She mentioned The Dark Star becoming a nexus point for change. Apparently, The Lost Ones are interested in the place or have some connection to it. She needed to know more about that location and she was hoping I could learn a few things. She assured me that she was not gathering information to harm Ivy in any way and that was important to me because I did not want to work against my Coterie.

Once I had supplied her with more information on The Dark Star, she would tell me more about Ilea. Before leaving I took Sopie’s hand and told her that I also valued our relationship…it had meaning to me, and that was a comforting thing given recent events.

On the way to meeting the ladies, Ivy called me and invited me to the Grand Opening of The Dark Star. She asked me to obey the rules and dress for the occasion. I told her that wouldn't be a problem and also assured her that I would not use my powers of the blood to suck all the attention out of the room.

The ladies soon joined me at the warehouse and after an emotional and touching reunion, I showed them around the place where I would soon do business. Lady Montoya supported my business idea and Natalie agreed to help me with advertisement and other things. She wanted to work for free but Montoya agreed to help her come up with a fair wage...neither one of them were my servants or thralls, I considered them companions and likely someday more than that.

The next couple hours the three of us talked and even joked around some. Even though the hunger was always gnawing at the back of my mind, interacting with them both after what I had just been through was both comforting and enjoyable. I wanted to help them both in any way that I could and I expressed this to them. When I invited them both to join me at the Grand Opening of the Dark Star they actually seem excited by the idea. I told them they would have to dress to the nines and they assured me I didn't have to worry about that. Montoya even told me that her and Natalie would have a favor to ask me at the party and I must admit I was a bit intrigued. I didn't want our relationship to be one-sided so I was anxious to give something back.

My time with the ladies eventually ended when I asked to "kiss" them. I did not want to come across as dishonorable, but I still had not fully recovered from healing my eyes. It was touching how Natalie reacted to my restored eyes, she was an affectionate and gentle girl and I liked that about her. Montoya was a bit different, she was intelligent and strong and I valued her mental strength. Although she was generally composed, she also had a passionate side that she revealed to me in the garden. Both of them were special in their own way, and I was fortunate to have their favor.

Once they had left for night, dizzy from the kiss, my steps led me to the flower shop where Ilea said she could be found. The flowers inside looked sickly, but the plants on either side of the path that led me below ground were not natural. The large rocks and spiral staircase projected a primitive image, whereas I swear some of the plants in the garden moved as I passed.

below there was an open room with an altar, a circle of candles, and a statue of some divine figure. There were 3 others down here kneeling. Ilea approached me at that time and assured me that it was ok that I came alone. The two of us began to talk and I asked her why she was drawn to The Crone. She mentioned wanting to seeking truths, and seeing gods and embodied gods during her life. There are dark things in the world. She knew that I had seen some of these dark things already.

She then asked me if I was a seeker of truth and knowledge and I did not deny that. She mentioned that The Crone still exists in the city because they have great power...even in the face of The Invictus and Sanctum.

At that point I bluntly told her that the thing she detests most about me is the thing that I value most. Of course I was referring to my humanity. I told her that my love of life is what fuels my passion...it's why I awake each night looking for answers.

I asked her if she was more than just a priestess? She talked like a priestess and her cult clearly consumed her existence...what else was inside of her? She then asked me why I should privy to seeing that, and I told her that she was right...I had done nothing to earn such a privilege or such knowledge.

For some reason I felt vulnerable talking to her at that moment. I knew that I was aching for truths that I would likely never find, but I had to try. I knew that I would likely be disappointed when I saw what was really inside of her...but I kept hoping that somebody, somewhere, would pleasantly surprise me.

Finally, I told her that I might return in the future and watch some of her rituals, but I also told her that I would welcome a visit from her as something other than a priestess. I then turned to go but asked her one final question....did she believe in fate? She laughed and said she did, then I walked away wondering whether I did or not. I once thought that Cassie and me were fated to be together, but look how that turned out.