- March 10, 2017
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Time rolls on. It had been several nights since Tessa was cornered by an Invictus errand boy and I was obliged to step-in. The Kindred that had assaulted Tessa was a large fella, a menacing fella. Although Tessa lacked the skill to physically defend herself, she did not lack the will. I also took note of that look in her eye, after she had fed from her fallen assailant. After departing, I later returned and saw to it that the felled Kindred was given a place of rest beneath the fighting cage in my warehouse. It was a waste to just leave him in the bowels of Hart’s sanctum. I didn’t know his story so how could I just condemn him to an uncertain fate and possible destruction?
Over the next few nights I decided to feed him from my tap. It wasn’t really a goal of mine to chain others to my will, but he was the one who chose to walk this path when he attacked Tessa. Now I had the opportunity to learn more about The Invictus. In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely opposed to The Invictus’ philosophies, but Bliss was already a prominent member in their Order and I was trying to make my own path. Besides, I have always been more inclined to follow those that have earned my respect. I have no trouble earning my keep, but I am not going to do horrible things just because somebody commanded me to. Watching The Muse have his life slowly drained away was a tough pill to swallow. I had played a role in that injustice, and I had no intention of repeating that mistake again.
The Invictus warrior was named Victor and he seem pretty resigned to the circumstances that he awoke to, imagining that he had failed and that my Coterie was still on the run. I explained to him that the trial had already taken place and my Coterie was set free. He inquired about our Makers and I filled him in on their circumstances. I assured him that he could come up with a story about why he had vanished for several days.
Victor considered my words and told me that he needed to speak with Tessa if he was going to have any chance of remaining with The Invictus. He then assured me that he had no intention of doing her any harm and I told him that I would make the arrangements.
I also told Victor that I had got word that The Invictus was soon going to be very busy, and that his sudden change of fate might be a blessing in the end. It was likely that power was going to be shifting in the future and we both had a better chance of surviving if we stood together during the turmoil to come. I know the blood that I had given him over the course of several nights might be influencing his thoughts on my offer, but surely my offer was an enticing one given the dangers that loomed ahead. The bond that I had forced upon him, was a means of opening a door of opportunity. Perhaps a tentative alliance would eventually grow into mutual respect or even friendship. We did not know much about each other but I would try to show Victor a different way. I would try to earn his favor and trust the natural way, and hopefully he would do the same for me.
I am well aware of the beast that resides in each of us, but I also believe in the power of the heart, the power of respect and friendship. A strong will and healthy convictions can undermine the beast. This is a never-ending battle and lowering one’s guard is the only opening the beast needs, but no great victory was ever won without effort. I want to continue exploring a new path, for although I am a monster, I am also a man.
For his part, Victor is a menacing figure and his powers only magnify this effect. One side of his face his heavily scarred and I can only imagine the prejudice he has experienced because of this. Maybe he enjoys physical conflict, and I of all people would not hold that against him, but maybe there is more to him than that and he has never had the opportunity to show it. If he wishes to learn, I will do what I can to teach him things that my old mentor taught me. I will show him that all monsters are not the same.
Waking Victor left me hungry so I made my way to a familiar after-hours club called Last Call. On my way there I took a maze-like path to my old apartment and slipped an envelope of money under the door, along with a note to Cassie. I wanted badly to go inside and tell her that I was ok, but the hungry beast was restless and I was not willing to risk it. These little stops to my old apartment always brought mixed-emotions, but I would continue to help Cassie build a good life for herself for as long as she needed it.
After finally pulling myself away from the old neighborhood, I stopped by Last Call and made some fast friends. Reggie, Dan, and Stacy were all familiar with each other because they worked the bar-scene themselves. They recognized me when I came in and actually welcomed me to their table. I enjoyed hearing their stories about coworker drama and idiot customers, but my hunger was distracting me more every minute. When Reggie and Dan went up to the bar to get drinks, I flirted with Stacy. When she showed me a tattoo on her shoulder, I made my move on her neck. Although she was momentarily overcome by the “attention,” she was content to lounge in our booth feeling both flush and spent at the same time. I told the fellas that Stacy was seem to have hit a wall and they just chuckled.
Dan went to hit the restroom shortly after that and I excused myself from Reggie around the same time. When I saw that the restroom was empty save for Dan standing at the urinal, I seized the opportunity for quick bite from behind and left him fumbling against the wall. I don’t think he had any idea what happen but his face was pretty comical when he returned to the table where Reggie was watching over Stacy.
I told the trio that it was getting late and told Reggie I would go outside with him to hail a cab for Staci. The two of us chatted casually as we watched for a cab, but it was not difficult to draw his attention to a stray cat in the nearby alley. I told him that I really respected stray cats. They were true survivors. They adapted to their circumstances like masters yet they still carried themselves as if they were kings of the jungle, even when their appearance said otherwise. His attention was drawn to the cat and he appeared curious…I’m sure the buzz had something to do with it… when the timing was just right and he had stepped into the shadows of the alley I took him from behind. It was just a brief moment but his knees buckled and I had to hold him up. After a moment I waved down a taxi and put him in it and made sure that he was good to go, before calling another one and eventually seeing to it that Stacy and Dan were safe on their way.
The trio were good people. I could tell Dan and Reggie were straight based on their topics of choice, and my “kiss” wasn’t exactly romantic, but I really wasn’t into feeding from men all that much. Other Kindred had told me that my attitude toward feeding would change in no-time, but there was something more satisfying about feeding from a woman. Somehow I found it more relaxing, even sensual or alluring. It was different when I approached men. With them I felt like I needed to exert my will upon them…to dominate them. Perhaps it had something to do with my fighting career, but honestly, I didn’t care enough to give it anymore thought. In my humble opinion women were often more aware and kinder. My mother was the strongest person I had ever known, and I have faced some animals in the cage. Still, she was always a good person and in this she never compromised. I miss her, but if she could see me now, I would hope that she would be proud of my efforts to be something different…something better.
On my way back to the warehouse I decided to stop by Angelo’s and see if Becky or her friend Jackie was working. When I got there I could tell that she was closing the place up…I hadn’t realized how late it was. I approached the glass doors and got her attention, but she looked my way hesitantly. I told her through the door that I appreciated her kindness and work ethic and I slid a hundred-dollar bill under the door. She appeared confused, but I just smiled and waved and left her there to wonder. It felt good leaving her a little gift. Maybe the gesture would lift her spirits a little, or at least reduce some of the stress she likely had after missing a few hours of work when I paid her a visit a few nights back.
It doesn’t matter how good the feeding feels; I recall all too well how Bliss made me feel. Every time he fed from me I felt a strange arousal. I’m was never into other men that way but I kept wanting him to come back and the whole situation left me feeling confused. Was I becoming attracted to me? Why was I so exhausted after meeting with him and what was he doing to me? The mixed signals were really starting to frustrate when he finally decided to turn me into a monster. I don’t know, perhaps I have never really forgiven him for messing with my head and complicating all my hard-work. I suppose my personal experiences have given me more insight and empathy towards those I would feed from. Of course I want to survive, but I also want to limit the damage that I do. Most of my kind think I am pathetic or weak for having such an attitude, but they are wrong.
The following evening, I awoke to a Lady Montoya wake-up. Her presence caught me off guard a bit, but she was there to help my business get a proper start and I appreciated her efforts. Arianna has a take-charge attitude and she knows how to work. She might be a heiress, but she is no spoiled princess from what I have seen. At some point in the future I need to do something special for her. Perhaps I will spoil both her and Natalie at the Dark Star’s grand opening. I wonder how that evening will go? Will the rest of my Coterie be there? How will the girls react to them? I have no issue with my Coterie becoming aware of Natalie and Arianna, but I prefer to keep my companions out of Kindred politics. It is safer for them if some aspects of my reality remain a mystery. I have no doubt that Lady Montoya would leap into this mysterious and jaded world head-first if I let her, but right now she cannot hope to grasp just how debauched it is.
As I have requested, my two companions will ask something of me at The Dark Star. I must admit that my curiosity is peaked, but in truth, I am eager to do something for both of them. Natalie is the follower of the two while Arianna is clearly a leader. I think I will include them both in my self-defense classes when I start them. There are so many predators out there, they need to learn how to REALLY take care of themselves.
My first customer at The Night Parlor was a Hispanic woman with a butch hair-cut. There was something different about her about I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. She already had a number of tattoos across the back of her shoulders in the shape of hearts, but one of them held the initials “Dr” within, and I sensed that she knew something about who what I was.
While I focused my needle upon her skin, she mentioned that I might become one of her competitors, but I wasn’t entirely sure what she was implying by that statement. She then shared with me that she was getting the tattoo because she was having a sort of awakening. She then mentioned members of my Coterie and implied that she wanted to keep servicing a “certain individual” and that perhaps she could service my Coterie as well. She then claimed that she provided information, but at that point I wasn’t really appreciating what I viewed as veiled threats. With a sudden shift of my weight I lurched toward her but caught a chair with my foot. The result was not something I was use too…an unbalanced stumble head-long into my own cabinets. For her part the girl side-stepped my attempts at grabbing her and backed-up with a smug grin on her face. Normally the whole situation would have ticked me off, but I couldn’t help but laugh given the circumstances. I kept thinking that it was a good thing that I didn’t have a moment like this in the cage, or my career would have been over. Perhaps Sophie or Tessa can tell me more about woman. I like to know about people, who know about me.
Why was a waiting for The Lost Ones to make a move? Tessa was doing a great job trying to dig up helpful information about our unknown futures, but the rest of us hadn’t really contributed much. I felt better about the iron-crafted knuckles and hair-pins, but the waiting was chewing at me and I decided to call James after penning a note to The Guardian.
When I told James that I was hoping that he could get me in contact with one of The Lost, he said he would do what he could. He mentioned giving my number if he had the chance and leaving it to them to contact me. I thanked him for his willingness as I made my way near the Dark Star and hung out looking for any sign The Lost.
It appeared that Sophie’s word rang true when she mentioned The Dark Star being a nexus Lost One activity, because from out of nowhere a strong and stocky young woman stepped out from the shadows and stabbed me with a blade. Although the damage was trivial, the attack got my attention real quick, and I instinctively went into a defensive posture. It only took me a second to realize that The Guardian was my attacker, but I had no wish to fighter her…on the contrary, I wanted to try and make amends! I told The Guardian that I had a note for her and pleaded with her to take it and read it. I told her that I would only fight her if she forced me. I told her that I was not her enemy. After a few moments of pause, she reluctantly took the note and glanced at it.
I was sincere when I wrote that note to her. I wanted to apologize, even though under the circumstances an apology sounded so empty. I wanted her to know that I was not like the monsters that had made us. I also told her that, given the chance, I was willing to try and negotiate a peace.
The Guardian told me that it was possible a peace could be reached, but tonight they were striking out. I admit, I was not surprised by her revelation. Her kind wanted reciprocity and a simple “sorry” wasn’t going to cut it. It would be no different if the circumstances were reversed, although I was hopeful that The Lost Ones were more enlightened as a society than my own. After passionately declaring her intentions she vanished in the night, and I couldn’t help but notice that she did not continue her assault on me. Did our short time together when she was my prisoner help her recognize that I had played a smaller role in The Muse’s abduction? Did she realize that I had endangered my own life, and even the life of my Coterie when I freed her? Did something insider her relate to my words when I told her than my Coterie and me were pawns of old jaded monsters?
The Guardian knew that I could fight. She knew that I could take her down if I wished too, and perhaps take more of her kind down…but clearly that was not the path I wanted to take. I was not avoiding a fight because I was afraid. I fully understood the value of combat to resolve issues and test one’s mettle…I just didn’t believe in THIS fight, and honestly, I was curious about The Lost. If my goal of building real relationships with my own kind was doomed to failure, then perhaps The Lost held greater potential in that area? I had no doubt that The Lost had their own baggage, but maybe we could teach each other something about ourselves and the world. War is easy, but it’s seldom satisfying.