Hello fellow supernatural figure. How would you like to be paid to travel around the world with all of those little inconveniences paid for. I have the funds necessary to offer this special employment. All I need you to do is to attend any of those...little tournaments, talk to other nomads, and assuredly all the small favors you do for me will be rewarded handsomely. A good deal no? If you are interested in such an offer, please, come by to my estate and we can discuss the finer details. Oh and for the sake of secrecy, burn this letter and any information pertaining to it.
On the back of the note was the address of his manor, [redacted], Pennsylvania.
Under a cloudy afternoon, Vlad’s manor was resting comfortable atop a large hill surrounded by a vast forest in the middle of Pennsylvania. The gate seemed to be unattended and for most of the property it seemed vacant. But the beautiful 5 story mansion that sat in the center of the courtyard betrayed that illusion. On the large porch were several figures, some fully cloaked in hoods and others wearing what appeared to be ornate knight armor. Others still seemed to be doing chores around the property, servants in typical maid or butler attire doing all matter of yard work. Their expressions seemed off, and their flesh...stiff.
A slick black limousine pulled up to the gate. A tall, shapely figure stepped out and waved to the driver before they looked to confirm the address. Some crude sketches had since covered the letter, but the demon supposed they would look bad if they didn’t get rid of it. The paper was quickly torn to tiny pieces and thrown up in the air as a quick loop was drawn to create a strong gust of wind to carry it away.
Rosie quickly ran a hand through their hair and pushed through the gate. They gave the various figures out front a quizzical glance. Sitting around the front porch in armor like that? It looked rather gaudy, honestly… They strode up the front steps, heels clacking against the floor.
“I assume the master is on the premises?” The demon asked, assuming that they could at least follow simple orders.
Some of the ‘workers’ didn’t even acknowledge Rosie. The one dressed as a knight immediately responded. “Master Vlad has been expecting you.” Without moving, the door to the manor opened. A hunched, green-skinned figure greeted Rosie inside. “Yes yes, come in! Master Vlad is right this way!” He said excitedly. The..thing was dressed in a butler’s attire, but his flesh looked off. Green with rot yet no injury visible. He had only a few strands of hair on his hand, and his skin just looked saggy and old. His eyes were white and bugged out, and he barely had any teeth in his mouth. His fingernails were yellow with dirt, and his smell was less than pleasant. He’d hastily beckon Rosie as he seemed to hop up and down with each step, first facing her as he moved back before turning and fast-walking further into the estate. The foyer was decorated lavishly, with red carpets and dark walls. A Chandelier hung above the double set staircase. At the end of the room on the first floor, between the two hallways, was a large door that seemed to lead into a basement of sorts, though upon looking down the staircase went down far, and likely seemed to be more complex than just a basement.
“I assume he’s downstairs?” Rosie asked, poking their head down the staircase. They tried not to make their distaste at the smell too obvious. Still, at this point they wondered why Vlad didn’t just hang some pine scent on his help. The demon’s gloves brushed against the railing as they descended the staircase.
Upon descending downward, the room below seemed to be a mix between some regal interior castle and a dungeon. Ornate rugs and expensive paintings framed in gold hung around the stone brick room. Another chandelier hung above the center, where several men in suits were playing billiards below it. A wide screen tv was on the back wall, below it a bar with a similarly decaying figure acting as the server. The ‘ordinary’ men didn’t seem to mind though. Engaging in their sins of smoking and drinking.
There were wooden doors that lead to hallways that seemed to go further down into the earth, but near the pool table was an obviously expensive leather couch where none other then vlad sat. He was swirling a glass of what was either red wine or fresh blood in a wine glass.
“Ah you made it, come...have a seat!” He gestured to the identical sofa that was placed conveniently across from the one he sat, facing each other. He waved his hands to the men playing on the pool table. “Leave us for now.”
Without a word they all past Rosie, including the henchmen that lead her down, and walked upstairs. The door was closed behind Rosie, leaving the two alone.
“I’m sure you must be tired after the trip to get here...need a smoke?” He offered a cuban cigar taken from the glass table between the two sofas.
“Oh, no thanks…” Rosie responded with a nostalgic laugh. “I kicked the habit back when I got pregnant. If any of those drinks are… hemoglobin-free, however…”
The count rubbed his chin before snapping his fingers. All the way from the room’s bar, a wine glass and a bottle of vodka floated steadily and landed on the coffee table. The bottle uncorked itself, and began to pour.
“I am a simple man with simple tastes, Rosie. Yet the ‘recent’ uh…’outpour’ of all these nomads running around has gotten my attention. I would personally get a closer look but as you can imagine it’s a bit of a hassle for me to get about away from home. I prefer the simple comforts after all…” He paused his speech with a sip of his blood-mixed wine. His fangs sinking into the surface to absorb it.
“Do they make you nervous?” Rosie asked coyly. “Or do you want what they're after?” They took a sip of vodka. Vodka also hadn't been quite their style for a few decades now, but the demon still partook from time to time. Still felt rather strong.
“That’s the ticket, Rosie.” The vampire helped himself to a cigar. “I don’t know what they want, and they certainly are a few players I’d rather not make enemies with.” He leaned in closer, grinning with a fang visible. “But it’s still an opportunity I can’t pass up. People are the most valuable assets, my friend. I just need to know how to use them..” He’d then slide two photos, one of Fafnir and another of Jill. “Speaking of..these two in particular have most of my interest...The uh..’justice’ riders as they call themselves have a bit of a….well let’s say we don’t get along too well...And that other freak has been a nuisance to me before..Thought he died at some point honestly, until he started to show his ugly head back as of late. I don’t want to call any hitmen as if something goes awry that can leave me with more enemies; Not to mention, as I’ve said before people with such skills are valuable assets…” He’d lean back to sip his drink. “What I want you to do for me Rosie, is to I suppose…’spy’ on them. See what these lot are up to, maybe get to know them, as well as any other…’interesting’ nomads along the way. I need to see if there’s anything I can exploit out of them...Perhaps a tournament, people pay money for that kind of brutal entertainment don’t they? Well, regardless, I believe these fools congregated at that cancelled tournament in Zun, I’d imagine they’ll stick around for a while...why not pay them a visit? Of course, I will personally fund the whole expedition, including all the expenses you need and a handsome pay as I’ve discussed in the letter. All I need you to do is to obtain as much information you can about them, and to keep in touch..” With that, he slid over the table of what appeared to be a black cellphone.
“Well I don’t know if I’ll be much of a spy,” Rosie admitted, snatching the phone off the table. “I somehow manage to attract a lot of rather hostile attention myself. I’m sure you know how it is.” They took a quick glance at each photo, forming a noticeable frown for a moment before putting them back down.
“Funny you should mention the Riders, though;” Rosie said. “We have a bit of a… complicated history. This one looks a bit new…” The demon started twirling their hair on the end of their fingers.
“You didn’t hear this from me,” Rosie continued. “But when it comes to SHINING, you’re playing with fire. Those Riders can look rather bumbling, but that company has a finger in every pie. If they haven’t killed you yet, it’s probably because they find you
useful as well.” Their gaze went back to the photo.
“Now the Riders themselves?” Rosie said. “A whole different story.” They began tapping their phone for a few seconds before continuing.
“This one is… Justice Rider Blaze, correct?” Rosie asked. “We’ve never met, but I have a few connections. Her little sister recently entered a pact with one of my acquaintances, in fact. They apparently share a rather strong bond…” They trailed off.
“This other one…” The demon mused, staring at the picture for a moment. “Seems familiar, but I’m not quite sure. I’ll have to get back to you on that.” They took another sip of vodka.
“Hmm..” The vampire withdrew the photos back into the suit. “Very well, it’s no surprise I have to play this cautiously. I’ve already arranged a private jet in the back, if you are ready to go now.”
“You don’t want to have a little fun first?” Rosie teased. “Ah well. I’ll be in touch.” They finished their drink before they left. A private plane? All expenses paid? This was shaping up to sound like quite the job...