Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Dagger
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“Well, yeah, but when you live with it, you learn to tune things out,” Rayth explained in response to Lune’s question about his sense of smell. “If I paid attention to every scent around me all the time, it would drive me crazy.”
The only smells he really focused on were silver and blood, the former because it was sometimes associated with hunters and the latter because, well, he was a vampire. But he decided not to bring her attention back to that.
When she called him Count von Count, he shook his head, though he couldn’t stifle the smile on his lips. It seemed he wasn’t the only one who could throw kids’ show characters around in the form of an epithet. He was going to have to wrack his brain for better references later on, so he could show her that he wasn’t going to let her win “most creative” that easily.
Walking with her to the gate that would take them to the train, he was relieved that she seemed invested enough in chatting with him that her gaze didn’t stray to the mess left behind by the troupe.
Briefly, he peered over her shoulder to see that Frieda was rounding everyone up. The ringmistress didn’t always gather them after a show, but he remembered that she’d done the same thing the day he’d joined the circus. The only difference this time was that their newest member wasn’t present to be formally introduced.
She must be warning everyone that Lune’s a human, he deduced, his scarlet eyes flicking back to the girl’s face. They’d never taken a human in before, and since some of the monsters in the group were even more bloodthirsty than he was—so to speak—the faerie would have to lay down some ground rules so she wouldn’t be killed. He wondered if Frieda was telling them all that Lune didn’t know they weren’t human too.
At her question, he snapped out of his musing to pay attention, not wanting to clue her in to his wandering thoughts and get curious when the scene behind her looked like a horror flick.
“Las Vegas?” he brightened at the name. “I’ve always liked that place. The streets are lively, but I’ve never been able to get into the casinos. Can’t pass for twenty-one.” He held up his hands in a helpless shrug. It was one of the downsides to being immortal. He’d passed his twenties decades ago, but he still looked like he was only eighteen or nineteen years old. If he tried to go anywhere with an age limit, the bouncers and dealers would ask him for an ID, which he didn’t have because he was born in 1912, and that would raise red flags at any DMV.
The best he could do was get a fake, but the professionals in Vegas were so good at spotting those that it wasn’t even worth the effort.
“I’m from Albuquerque originally,” he replied openly when she asked about him. “But I migrated my way to New York before I joined the circus. That was where I met Frieda. She sort of… helped me get out of a not-so-great situation by letting me be part of the troupe.”
Thinking of another question to keep her occupied, he queried, “If you’re from Nevada, what made you choose to come to Los Angeles?”
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Noticing Rayth’s distracted gaze, she started to turn her head to see what had apparently caught his attention, but he refocused on her and responded to her answer. A proud grin tugged at her lips as his mention of the casinos. “I managed to sneak into one, once. Wouldn’t say you’re missing out on much.”
Her expression deepened, remembering how close she’d come to getting caught by security. Thankfully, they’d been understaffed that day, and she’d been there with another friend on a dare, further stretching their resources. He’d gotten caught, sure, but the weasel deserved it, and at least had the loyalty to not rat her out.
She’d heard that the place had increased security measures after that.
Rayth’s own answer drew her from the short-lived reverie.
Albuquerque?” she repeated through a chortle. Of all the places she’d expect a vampire to be from, Albuquerque hadn’t made it to the consideration list. The thought of one being from anywhere in America just seemed strange.
The surprised amusement at his hometown wiped from her face at his next question. She looked from him to the ground in front of their feet.
“I needed to get out of town, a.s.a.p.,” she began, her tone darkening. “Saw an advertisement for the circus at the station, and LA happened to be the next bus out.” Trying to re-lighten her own mood, she looked back to him. “Let me tell you, jumping on the next one available without checking how long it’ll take is not a good idea. I swear. Longest. Bus ride. ever. And I’m pretty sure the teller overcharged me,” she added, scowling at the ever nearing fence.
Eager to change the subject, she took a slight step further from him and looked him over with a calculating eye.He certainly didn’t look old enough to get into a casino on his own, but the statement had made her wonder. If he was only half immortal—if that part about vampires was even true—did he still age the same way as a human? Or was he secretly old as dirt?
“So,” she continued raising her gaze to meet his, “how old are you, anyway?”
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Dagger
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“Yeah,” Rayth confirmed with a grin. “Nacido y criado. Born and raised.”
He was proud to call New Mexico his homeland, but he was used to the reactions he received when he told anyone he was a half Hispanic vampire from Albuquerque. Everyone always seemed to be surprised when he named anywhere other than Transylvania as the place where he was born. Although, he knew most people based their judgments about vampires on specific lore like Dracula, so he couldn’t hold it against them.
When Lune gave him her reason for coming to LA, he immediately flagged the subject as one that he probably shouldn’t touch on much more than he already had. He’d never properly learned how to control humans like other members of his kind did—the best he could do was influence them not to fight back while he fed—but he was still able to read them fairly well. It was a hunting tool that also came in handy in casual conversations like the one they were having now.
Not wanting to prematurely end their chat before they left the backyard, he pondered over something less touchy to ask her about; but fortunately, she saved him from having to backpedal.
“Hopefully you’ll never have to take a bus again,” he said optimistically. “Train rides are long too, but at least you have a cot to sleep on instead of a stiff seat that only reclines a quarter of an inch.”
Noticing Lune’s wandering eyes, Rayth wished he had the power to read minds. Since they’d first been introduced by Freida, he’d caught the runaway staring at him a few different times. Humans didn’t usually do that unless he’d used his aura to entice them, and he wondered what thoughts were going through her head when her gaze lingered.
Whatever it was, he found her long looks to be more flattering than disturbing; and when she asked about his age, he laughed. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that’s a rude question to ask?”
Despite the accusative words, there was no hint of anger in his voice. He was immortal, so he didn’t really care if someone knew how old he was the same way aging humans did. “I’m one hundred and six years young,” he answered proudly, striding a pace ahead of her to unlatch the gate that would take them to the railyard. “I actually share a birth year with my home state.”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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“Cot. Leg room. Better company than a guy who smells like month-old onions.” Arla shrugged. “A train sounds like heaven.”
Exactly how cliché her question about his age had been washed over her when he laughed. She cringed inwardly, frowning, but instead of pointing that out, he offered a playful reprimand. Her smile returned.
She shrugged lightly. “The rules of social engagement are overrated.”
She blinked at him when he gave his age. Her eyes narrowed as her gaze trialed after him as he hurried ahead of her, trying to decide whether he was being serious, or messing with her. Deciding he’d answered seriously, she made a mental note that even half-vampires were, indeed, some form of immortal.
“Well, aren’t you fancy?” She nodded her thanks to him for opening the gate. “Must say, you look pretty good for your age, Gramps.” She smirked at him as she strode out into the trainyard behind the fairgrounds.
A pleasant shudder ran through her as she stepped into the shadow cast by the fence. The light from the fairground still spilled over into the trainyard, but it was a relief to be away from the worst of the artificial glare.
She stepped aside and turned quickly to face Rayth, not yet willing to keep her back to the half-bloodscuker.
Movement caught her eye further down the fence. Someone had pointed a few floodlights toward a section of train cars. She squinted at the stinging light. The illumination turned the forms of workers into blurred, vaguely human-shaped blotches as they loaded equipment onto the train.
She looked away quickly, the night coming into focus easier than the hazy workers. She looked back to Rayth, waiting for him to lead the way to the passenger cars.
“So, what,” she began, “Do you age slower, or are you an eternal teenager?”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Dagger
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As soon as Lune said that the rules of social engagement were overrated, Rayth was convinced that he was going to like her. He’d already gotten that impression from their first conversation, but the casually-made statement solidified his theory. Anyone who paved their own way in the world rather than worrying about what others thought of them were A-OK in his book.
“Thanks. I eat my vegetables,” he replied, letting the gate close behind them once they had both passed through the opening in the fence. If she had been more comfortable with his supernatural heritage, he would have added that the regular meals of human blood helped too, but it was best not to talk about that.
The way she angled her body to keep him in her sight at all times didn’t slip past his notice, and he wondered what she thought she was achieving by watching him so carefully. If he had wanted to feed from her, it would have made no difference if he came at her from the front or the back. He could easily restrain her in the blink of an eye either way.
However, the needless behavior seemed to soothe her, so he tolerated it as they made their way to the train and walked alongside the railroad toward the cars meant for the troupe members.
“Actually, I haven’t figured that out yet,” he answered her question with a helpless shrug. “I’ve thought about it before, but I’ve never met any other half vampires, so I don’t have anyone I can ask. All I know is that I aged like a human until I turned eighteen, then I either stopped or slowed down so much that I can’t tell if I’m aging at all anymore. I guess I’ll find out which it is in another century or so.”
Assuming he lived that long, he mused. While he stayed with the circus, he was safe from hunters, but he’d lived long enough to learn that he couldn’t predict where his life would go ten or five or even one year from the current day. Nothing was certain, and he’d taught himself to ‘go with the flow’ because there was no sense in worrying about things that were outside of his control.
“Since you asked me, it’s only fair that I get to ask how old you are now,” he posed, taking a second to look her over in a scrutinizing fashion. “My guess is seventeen. Am I right?”
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Arla suppressed a shudder at the creeping thought of his real diet that his comment returned to the forefront of her mind. She took a deep breath, reminding herself that Frieda trusted him. That she wasn’t on the menu. And, if she was, someone would know what had happened if she couldn't fend him off. But he wasn’t the monsters that had chased her down. He hadn’t even come after her when she’d ran off before. Instead, he’d taken a nap. Not the most monster-like choice.
“I’m sure that’s it.” She used a grin to push away the thoughts. “Popeye would be proud!”
She trailed after him, staying a step behind and to his side. She cast the train cars quick glances, searching for anything that made each one stand out. After all, she’d have to remember how to get to the correct one on her own at some point.
She blinked at the half vampire in surprise at his response to her question.
“Wait, for real? Never?” Her brows rose slightly. She inhaled to add another question, but Rayth continued and looked to her.
Realizing he was trying to gauge her age, she took a slight step away and angled herself more toward him to give him a better chance at the right conclusion. She glanced down at herself, his calculating gaze reminding her exactly how much of a mess she looked. For all she knew, though, that had added to her acceptance into the circus. She’d heard the ‘pathetic homeless girl’ look could work wonders.
“Good guess,” Arla said with an approving nod. “I'll make sure to add 'good night vision' to the confirmed list of vampiric superpowers!” She offered a disbelieving smile. A day ago, she'd have laughed at the thought of saying that with any form of seriousness. “I’ll be seventeen next month.”
She glanced over to the next train car as they neared. She looked back fully to Rayth. Her head cocked slightly to the side.
“So, are half-vampires that rare,” she began, remembering her unspoken question, “or are you just that much of a hermit?”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Dagger
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“Never,” Rayth confirmed with a nod when Lune reacted in shock to his answer. It wasn’t that he’d never wanted to meet another half vampire. It would have been exciting to find someone else with a foot in two worlds, just like himself. However, he’d never had the luck to cross paths with any. As far as he knew, it was possible that he was the only supernatural in all of North America who was the product of love between a human and vampire.
When she confirmed that he had been close in his estimate of her age, he smiled proudly. It usually wasn’t that hard to guess how old a human was, but every once in a while he was left dumbfounded when he thought someone was far older or younger than they actually were.
“I wouldn’t be a very good vampire if I couldn’t function at night,” he pointed out. Predominantly nocturnal, he needed all of his senses to work after the sun went down. Living with the circus had changed some of his habits, since he no longer ventured out on his own to hunt, but he was still at his strongest when the moon was shining overhead.
His blood red eyes flicked up toward the softly glowing disk at the thought before he strode ahead to the next car in the line. “A little of both?” he replied to Lune’s question with a slight inflection as he hopped up on the rail to reach for the door. “I don’t think it’s common for vampires to fall for their prey and have kids with them, so my instinct says there probably aren’t very many others like me in the world. But I also spent over sixty years with my human family near the Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, where there are no other vampires at all.”
He gave the door a sharp tug, and it groaned as it slid open, granting them entrance to a pitch black space on the other side. The car was lined with windows, so it was usually illuminated with natural light during the day, but at night, there was nothing to keep it lit. Trains designed by humans ran wires through the passenger cars so the occupants could turn on lights inside, and there were outlets and switches that suggested these had been built the same way. However, the monsters of Cirque du Sombre were at home in the darkness, so they didn’t bother plugging anything in or replacing the bulbs in the old, burnt-out overhead fixtures.
Rayth went on, “I like to think I’ve become well-traveled since I left home, but I still haven’t found any other half-vampires. Or very many pure-blooded vampires, for that matter. We don’t share territory very well, so we tend to stay away from each other unless someone trespasses on our turf.”
He leaned away from the car so that he hung precariously by the hand that grasped the sliding door handle. Glancing down at Lune from his perch, he paused for a moment and then extended his free hand to help her up if she needed or wanted assistance.
“This is one of the sleeper cars,” he told her. “There are seven of them in total, and I’m not sure if this one has any empty beds, but I figured we can keep walking through the inside of the train now… So you can start getting a feel for your new mobile home.”
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