Vitius let out a slight sigh as he took small sips of his blood whiskey, quietly enjoying the sounds and sights of the bar when an ear piercing scream caught his attention. While the rest of the patrons looked about in confusion or simply stayed where they were at, not feeling motivated enough to investigate the source of the noise, Vitius got up from his seat, set his drink on the counter, and went to see what all the commotion was. Pushing past those who were in his way, an easy feat due to the intimidating demeanor he cut in his large suit of armor, he headed towards the bathroom and pushed open the door, his eyes widening in surprise and recognition…
Before him, plain as day, was Colin. The one Hood that had given him the most trouble during their stay with the group. It shouldn’t have been possible for him to be kicking after three centuries. Couldn’t have been possible. Yet here he was in the flesh.
Aiming an arrow right at another patron.
More leeches crowded in, but Colin was only distantly aware of their presence, focused on the one in front of him. He needed answers, "Where is he?!"
The leech just shook her head, trembling slightly, "I don't- don't- I don't know what you're talking about!"
Lying. She was lying. She was lying and there were more and more of them coming in through the door - he could hear them, even if he couldn't take his eyes off the one in front of him. No windows. One door. More of them out there. Looked like he was fighting his way out. After he got answers though, "Like fuck you don't - The mage, Samael, where is he?!"
He caught a glimpse of himself in the cracked mirror. He looked like a wreck - skin speckled with mud and blood, hair, grown out to his jaw since he cut it but falling loose from its tie, clothes torn. The leech, on the other hand, aside from the obvious, looked… fine. No blood. No scratches. Clothing, strangely cut, but very clean, some kind of uniform? It didn't matter, "Don't lie, I'm not a fucking idiot, he brought me here, tell me where he is!"
Vitius mind churned. Who was Samael? And why the hell was Colin so determined to find him? The old vampire shrugged internally. Didn’t matter, at least not at the moment. What did matter was keeping Colin in check.
Once that was done he could focus on getting some answers.
Moving quickly he pulled the woman back and interposed himself between the two of them, staring Colin down, his orange eyes seeming to burn in the fluorescent light.
“Hello old friend,” He said with a smirk. “Been awhile.”
The name rang in Colin's head, loud with starch white hair and gleaming metal armour. Vitius. Deserter. Traitor. Might all have been the same word for the difference it made. The worst kind of leech - a murderer and a liar. It made sense that he was working with Samael. They both hated the hoods and everything they stood for. His lip curled, he ignored the leech's remark, instead, "Where is he?!"
“Easy there boy.” He said, raising a gauntleted hand in a placating manner. “Why don’t you calm down a bit that way we can talk like civilized people?”
Despite not seeming to move, Vitius was slowly inching towards the man, planning on disarming him once he got close enough. Colin was hard enough to talk to as it was, and a bow only complicated matters. The sooner he was rid of it, the better.
"'Civilised people' don't work for fucking necromancers." Colin hissed, knuckles white where they gripped the bow, eyes darting between Vitius and the growing crowd by the door. Could he take that many? Probably not. He'd have to make a run for it - soon as he found out where Samael was. His hands were shaking again, even though the arrow wasn't taut, "Tell me where he is and maybe I'll let you live."
“Riiiight.” He began, casually drawing out the word. “Let’s pick that apart bit by bit, shall we? First off, I don’t work for necromancers, they’re creeps and way too edgy even for my liking. I don’t mind a bit of broody darkness, but seriously, it’s too much. Secondly, I have no idea who or where this Samael person is, so you might as well stop asking. And finally-” Vitius said, lunging forward at inhuman speeds as he grabbed the bow, turned it away from the woman, and snapped the arrow Colin had knocked with his free hand. He then gently, well gently for a creature of his strength anyway, elbowed him in the chest, sending him flying backwards where he eventually skidded to a stop just shy of the wall.
“You don’t have the skill to decide my fate. Not anymore. Anyway, all that unpleasantness aside…” He went on, slinging the bow across his back, his tone becoming more patronizing. "Let's get you up to speed on the last three centuries so you can find out why pointing a stick and some string at someone is a bad idea.”
The second Vitius reached for his bow, Colin stopped listening. He wasn't defenseless - the knives strapped to his ankles a comforting weight - but everywhere he looked cat-eyes gleamed back at him. One door. No way out that wasn't through. Palms damp with sweat. He tried to think, remember his training, with the Hoods and as a child, but there was only static, frozen impressions.
No time to think. He had to act. Teeth grit, he made a break for it, straight toward, and hopefully through the gathered crowd.
Vitius considered letting him run, just for a moment. But he eventually decided that Colin would only do more harm than good if allowed to run amok in a world no longer like the one he’d come from. So, with a heavy sigh, he moved to intercept him and wrapped his arm around Colin’s neck, placing the man into a chokehold.
Colin’s limbs locked into place the second Vitius made contact, eyes wide, breath stuttering in his throat-
Hands tight around his neck
His head was going to explode-
Shirt soaked through.
Spots danced in his vision-
Snow thick and fast and red and-
He went limp, a sudden deadweight.
Vitius shook his head as he released Colin's neck. Picking the now limp man up, he quickly left the bar and made his way into the back alleys once again, this time in search of a relatively isolated place he could talk question the former Hood in. Wouldn't do to have him around another crowd he could cause havoc in after all.
Colin dreamt of fire. He opened his eyes to darkness.
Wherever it was, it was cold, but not in the burning, icey way it was cold back home. No, this was bone cold, damp and sticky with the promise that no matter what you did you wouldn’t be shaking it until it was good and ready.
Duncaster on a rainy day.
Adrenaline shot through his system - the graveyard, Samael, the portal, the leech. His fingers scraped at floor he couldn’t see, grasping for the wall - found it, pressed his back to it. The leech had grabbed him, knocked him out - whatever corner of the necromancer’s lair Vitius had dragged him to, he wouldn’t be far. Was probably watching him right now, waiting, but Colin couldn’t fucking see.
He grit his teeth, pain lancing through his temple, he didn’t care, “Where the fuck’re you hiding leech?!”
Silence. Then a laugh, slow and menacing that gradually built up to a loud crescendo.
"Tell me old friend, what is a man… save a miserable little pile of secrets!" A deep, vaguely demonic voice shouted from somewhere nearby. "But enough talk…"
A pair of orange flames, no eyes, appeared in the dark void opposite Colin. They sat there for a moment, analyzing him, studying him, staring into his very soul…
And then they lunged. Moving forward at impossible speeds, becoming nothing more than a blur of light, the orbs of hellfire stopped inches away from Colin's face and locked gazes with him. They stayed that way for a moment before a clicking sound echoed from somewhere off to Colin's left, bathing the area in a dim white light and illuminating the pale face of one very amused vampire.
"Boo." Vitius said, chuckling slightly at Colin's murderous expression before moving backing up in one fluid motion. "So, did you have a nice nap?"
It was then that Colin realised, really realised, this was the leech’s home turf. Vitius might have toed the line back at the keep, but here? There were no hoods waiting just around the corner to step in if he lost control, no iron manacles, no barrels of animal blood to slake the thirst. There was just the leech and the blood thundering through Colin’s veins.
Something dripped in the darkness, he flinched at the sudden sound.
If there was a way out of here, he couldn’t see it. He wasn’t strong enough to overpower the leech, didn’t have the hoods at his back, didn’t even have his bow anymore. Sweat pricked at his skin, sickly and not quite chilled by the cold. Think. He had to think. The leech hadn’t killed him yet - he wanted something. Keep him talking, figure out what it was, wait for the opportunity.
Fear curled around his throat, tightened. He met Vitius’s eyes, “Where the fuck did you bring me leech?”
“An abandoned house. There’s lots of them nowadays. Seems people can barely make a living these days,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “But enough of all that. I have some questions and you’re going to give me some answers.”
Stalking over to the man, Vitius eyes narrowed into thin slits as he began his questioning.
“First off, how are you still alive? Last I recall you weren’t a leech like me, so why are you still kicking after three centuries?”
A house? What was the leech on about? How big was the necromancer’s lair? And centuries? Not possible - Colin wasn’t stupid, no vampire could go that long without going feral at least once, and he knew all too well what that looked like. Vitius looked fresh as a daisy. Part of him wanted to spit, tell him to pull the other one, make a break for it now, before it’s too late, fucking run, but no.
Deep breaths to fight the gnawing, crushing feeling clawing at his chest, stub-nails reaching to grip at his scarred, aching arm. Focus. He couldn’t afford to lose it and do something stupid - not again. Running had been a mistake in the bathroom, and now he was trapped, smoke in his lungs- focus.
Jaw locked, he did his best not to flinch at Vitius’s approach, might as well go along with it, act like the leech was talking sense, “Don’t pretend like you don’t fucking know. You’re in bed with the one that did it.”
Vitius scoffed. “Unless the one who did it happened to be a goth chick with a vampire fetish, I doubt that. Anyway, second question,” he went on beginning to pace. “What happened to the Hoods? I mean what really happened?”
Confusion furrowed Colin’s brow, what was a ‘goth chick’? Some new, terrifying creature conjured up by Samael? Worse than the army of ghouls? It didn’t matter. Samael wasn’t getting away this time. And if the leech thought he was getting information about the battle from Colin he had another thing coming, “Why don’t you just go ask Samael? He was there too. You’re not getting shit out of me leech.”
"Because," Vitius began, calmly inspecting his nails. "I have no fucking idea who this Samael of yours is. Hence why I need to ask you, you noodle. Now, what happened? There has to be more to the Hood's gradual disappearance than rumours originally let on."
“The Hoods haven’t gone anywhere,” Colin spat, “it was you that fucked off - don’t need to ask where you’ve been though do I? If you’ve no idea who Samael is then why the fuck are you and your mates hanging round his lair?”
"First off, just me. Secondly, no, you need to realise you're completely out of your depth and listen to the immortal trying to communicate with you. And lastly, this is a house and it is abandoned, meaning the people who used to own it left a long time ago," he explained, crossing his arms over his chest. "As for the Hood's, they've been gone for about three centuries my friend, and I want to know why. They weren't exactly the type to give up after all."
Games. He was playing games, and Colin was getting sick of people trying to fuck with his head. He still had his knives. The leech had his bow, but he could get it back. Vampires were strong, not invulnerable. He just had to catch him off guard and then he could escape, find Samael, find Kiri, and get out here.
“Looking pretty fucking fresh for three hundred year old corpse,” Colin hissed, eyes tracking Vitius’s movements - focused on his hair. Grab a handful the second he got close, yank it down, knife to the chest. He had a plan. “I know your lot - most of you don’t even make it a decade without going feral, ‘specially not on your own.”
"I've only taken what I've needed," Vitius replied, unperturbed by Colin's remark. "And eventually law changed to where my kind were accepted, begrudgingly, and now I can go by donated human or animal blood to drink. No more hunting, no more mess, no more unneeded deaths. But, getting back to my original question, where did the Hood's go? And please answer this time. Your childish banter is starting to bore me."
“Still at the battleground,” Playing along wasn’t working, Colin was going to have to goad him if he wanted to get him close enough. Not too long ago, the thought of baiting a vampire would have left him paralysed with fear. Now though? “Just waiting for their chance.”
Vitius let out a sigh. "I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything different from you. You always were difficult. Still are," he said, ceasing his pacing and turning his back to Colin. "Guess I'll have to keep digging then… but until then!"
He spun back round suddenly, his cape unfurling behind him.
"I need to get you acquainted with modern life. And give you a nice long lecture on why pointing an arrow at someone is a bad idea…" Vitius trailed off, mostly talking to himself now more than anyone else. Leaving himself open for a potential attack…
A light flashed outside - there, the door, loose on rusted hinges.
He could avoid a confrontation and still get away whilst the leech was talking shit. Now or never.
Colin sprung, fingers grasping at the loose fabric of the cape, aiming to knock the leech off balance long enough to give himself a chance to escape.
"Oh you cheeky bi-" Vitius started to say before being cut off abruptly as he vanished into thin air, the faint rippling of surrounding space the only evidence of the strange happening.
Vitius let his gaze wander over the ashen landscape and its ruined structures.
"Well," he said, planting his hands on his hips. "Shit."