Avatar of Pasion Pasiva
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    1. Pasion Pasiva 9 mos ago


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Conversations began to swirl -- the door to the tavern opened and closed.

Gabriela extended her fingers toward the fire. She held her hands out and appeared like any person who might be trying to warm themselves. Her golden eyes focused on the billow of the flames, how they churned, and whirled around the thick logs. The heat radiated and her icy flesh absorbed it hungrily. But there was no comfort in the warmth. There was no solace in the heat.

With her head inclined, she listened to the conversations that began to take place near and around the bar -- it had become a popular location and she was glad to have steered clear. Mostly, it was men who stomped in and went to demand drinks -- rum seemed to be the drink of choice for the evening. Meanwhile, she feigned a sort of annoyance as she glanced over her shoulder and swept the room with a chilled gaze. Was it the noise that was bothering her? Was it the notable lack of a teacup before her on the table?

Who knew?

Who cared…

This whole charade was for the benefit of no one other than herself.

No one was following her.

No one was coming.

Her shoulders dropped a little -- she visibly relaxed.

The young girl seemed to have been called forth by Gabriela’s physical manifestation of calm. She appeared, seemingly out of thin air, with a worn, wooden tray. Silently, but with a suspicious side-ways glance, the waitress set down a white saucer with a simple-looking tea cup atop it. It was steaming and a dense, and earthy fragrance floated up in the haze. Next came a folded napkin with a spoon, and next to it a small container of milk, and a dainty sugar bowl. Lastly, she set down a plate with a pretty arrangement of lemon slices.

“We don’t have honey,” she said, by way of explanation.

“That’s perfectly fine,” Gabriela replied.

“Can I get you anything else?” The girl was obviously itching to get going -- to get away.

“No, thank you.”

She was gone no sooner had Gabriela thanked her. And of course, Gabriela took the opportunity to turn her head again, and look after her -- but really she was looking at her fellow patrons. The tavern was getting crowded. She was growing uncomfortable again. And there came the smell of blood again, circulating round and round through the plethora of stenches that were starting to become rather overbearing. The one who had called for help and his wounded companion were coming down the stairs, but she had only a moment to think of them before the door opened and closed.

The taste of power lingered on her tongue like the thick coating of rendered fat -- oily, and unpleasant. Whoever -- or whatever -- the creature that had just entered was, there was no doubt in her mind that he was monstrous in nature. And she would have continued to observe the creature, had it not been for the nearly observed occurrence that took place next.

A woman entered the tavern. A high-ranking military person judging by her attire. Gabriela turned back to her tea just as the woman marched over to a table that was set down right smack in the middle of the tavern. The performance that ensured was more than just a little agitating since it drowned out much of everything else that was going on in the tavern. A scuffle began. A chair fell over, and then the tell-tale sound of metal coins hitting and dancing on the wooden floor as a table was rudely shoved and pushed aside.

Gabriela frowned deeply within the shadows of her hood. She plucked the small spoon up and poured and stirred a serving of the granulated stuff into her tea cup. It changed the smell of the tea, but she doubted anyone would notice -- anyone but her. And then, just as she was about to pretend to take a sip -- her peace and quiet were assaulted.

“She needs a seat,” said a man -- an apologetic but very matter-of-fact smile on his face.

Aghast, Gabriela sat there with her teacup floating halfway up her body, held with such perfect motionlessness that most would find it uncanny -- she had not noticed their approach. Shocked, and grateful that her face was still mostly concerned under her hood, she remained silent as the hurt woman was deposited into a chair across from her own.

“Keep an eye on her and everything is on the house for you tonight.”

Surprise quickly turned into barely contained rage. And the rounded handle by which she supported the tea cup suddenly cracked -- just a hairline crack, just a delicate break that did not immediately throw into peril the structural integrity of the small vessel.

“Excuse me?” Gabriela forced herself to ask, her voice still that soft sound, still that sultry accent -- but sharp.

“Here you go,” said the man to his companion, and then he was leaving.

“Excuse me!” Gabriela insisted, but the man did not look back. He went to the bar and began to tend to the patrons.

With no one left to turn her anger towards, molten-golden eyes turned upon Alex. The teacup was finally set down and abandoned completely. Gabriela made to stand up, but then again, she was interrupted as they were approached by a cheerful-looking young man.

“I don’t know if this will help, but it’s all I have to offer. If not is there anything I can do for you?”

He set on the table -- on her table -- a jar of fucking fairies. And then, for good measure, his emptied cup of rum -- there, right next to her teacup.

“This is my table,” she said suddenly, and at long last, she reached up and drew back the hood of her cloak. A pale and lovely face was revealed, framed in wild wisps of dark hair, chocolate in color with undertones of gold cutting through like marble. In appearance she was young -- painfully young for a place like this, yearly twenties perhaps. And her elegantly shaped brows were pinched into a severe frown as she glanced from Link to Alex. “Kindly, leave me be.”

But then it struck her…

It was a putrid smell and it was so intimately intertwined with the smell of the woman’s blood and that of corrosive metal -- so subtle that she knew it was the very beginning stages of infection. She swallowed hard, choking back this knowledge. The smell was foul and the knowledge of it made her look away, down to the gloves in her lap.

She did not want to get involved, but she knew a jar full of fairies was not about to resolve the issue of putrefied flesh and blood fevers that were soon to come.

“I can’t help you,” she said quietly, refusing to meet the woman’s gaze.
She was ready for a great many things. She was ready to see the darkened corners of the vast room, the round tables littered throughout, and the flickering of fire-light casting dancing shades to the exposed rafters above. All of these things, they were memories that had been burned into her mind long ago. But the thing that she wasn’t ready for was the immense sense of familiarity that struck her. She had never before set foot in this building, and yet this setting felt intimately known so much so that the sensation of knowing this place caused her to pause.

For a time, perhaps a heartbeat or two, she stood there letting the cool night air run rampant into the nooks and crannies of the tavern’s interior. She got a few looks – unamused and displeased looks that made her finish her journey across the threshold. She figured there was time enough to marvel at the timelessness of the place once she was safely inside, but the silly girl did not step beyond the walking path that lead to the main entrance and so, as she stood there taking in the measure of it all – the door open behind her.

A swift sidestep kept her from being shoved aside and it revealed the woman’s agility – a trait she would have rather kept secret for as long as possible. But no one had eyes on her, or so she thought, and no one would care enough to deeply examine this near catastrophe of two bodies colliding.

She stood to the side and allowed her eyes to follow the path of the massive creature that had entered the tavern at her heels. Dressed in a similar style, a hooded cloak that looked to be damp to the touch, she lost interest soon enough. He headed to the bar, which was the same destination she had thought to take, but she thought better of it now. That creature alone seemed to crowd out the limited space at the bar, it was best to stay clear out of the way.

“Rum, and bring me the bottle,” she heard him bark out at the clerk behind the bar just as she turned back to examine the room.

There was ample seating it was just a matter of picking a place. Most people coveted the shadows, and she was no different, but tonight she was incognito and the lonely table by the open hearth seemed an isolated island that would keep her safe from any social interaction.

Little did she know she was being observed – and carefully so.

To the table she went, where again she stopped for a beat or two. This time her eyes were searching the surroundings, rather she was observing the fire – and listening. With her back to the entrance, her hearing was hyper-focused on the sound of the door opening and closing again. The night rushed in, but this time was perfumed by the smell of potent fule – sickly sweet – like refined alcohol. And there was something else.


She pulled out a chair and adjusted her cloak, but never removed it. Gabriela sat down, her back still turned to the entrance, a silly oversight for someone who knew anything about protecting themselves. But she knew what she was doing. She was playing a part.

She had to appear as that which she was not – weak.

Under the table her legs crossed, one booted knee over the other, which caused her cloak to open just enough to reveal the knee-high riding boots, the skin-tight black breeches, and nothing else. She reached up and bit at the tip of her gloved middle finger and pulled until the leather sheath came free of her pale hands. And when one was free, she used her long fingers to free her other hand. Notable, to anyone who was studying the woman, would be her glass-like fingernails. There was a shine to them that was more than what a mere polish could ever produce.

A woman approached, a member of the tavern’s staff.

Gabriela was not alarmed.

“You ready to order?” asked the girl – she was neither cheerful, nor did she appear friendly, but she was efficient. There was a notepad in one hand and a pencil in the other. With sharp and cold blue eyes, the woman regarded Gabriela with an unmistakable sense of impatience.

Gabriela thought of ordering bloodwyne – and it made her smile.

That smile was astonishingly lovely. The way her pale lips pulled at the corners – the way it was so small and private as if someone had whispered a silly thing to her. It was a smile of remembrance. It was also the sort of smile meant to disarm prey -- to tempt into perdition.

But she couldn’t risk that here.

A vast majority of people did not take kindly to vampyres in their midst.

“A cup of tea,” she replied, her voice licked with the purr of an accent – Spanish if anyone was familiar.

“What kind?”

“Orange blossom,” Gabriela replied, setting her gloves on her knee.

“Lady,” the girl began with barely contained disdain, “--we don’t have orange blossom tea here.”

“Black tea,” she said, tilting her head toward the girl, lifting her chin enough so that a crease of light touched her face – Gabriela’s golden eyes fell hard on the youth. “Black tea and a slice of lemon with honey, would be lovely, thank you.”

The young woman scribbled the order and turned to flee.

Gabriela understood her discomfort.

It had been a long time since she had spent any real amount of time around humans who did not know her – who did not love her. The woman’s reaction was a natural inclination toward survival. Gabriela was a predator, and some people were simply more aware of that than others.

Just then, as she was beginning to reflect on the difficulties of traveling across this new world, a voice called across the tavern.

“Is there by chance a medic or doctor in the house tonight? One preferably not yet inebriated. This lady here could use your assistance.”

She had turned slightly, lifting her gaze to the second floor of the building, which she had apparently not noticed – somehow. She saw the outline of a couple. That’s where the smell of blood was coming from – blood and fuel. Without further regard, she turned her golden gaze back upon the fire, although she saw, from the corner of her eye, a man looking at her with interest. It made her uncomfortable. In some places, vampyres were hunted down and their blood harvested for medicinal purposes or just for recreational use. A drop of her black blood could have anyone right as rain but also high off their asses.

Best not to think about any of those possibilities.

Best not to think at all…

She sat, straight-backed and with her hands folded over her lap, and watched the fire.
She trudged through the muck. It was a dense layer of wet silt and soil sitting atop a cobblestone road. On her shoulders, she felt the pull of her long cloak. It was soaked through and caked with sludge where it dragged on the ground, as were her boots. She felt pinned down by the weight of it. Each step forward was a struggle against all the filth of the world.

And she wanted to give up. That was the worst part.

The weight of exhaustion was tremendous. All she wanted was to slide down, onto her knees, and then perhaps find a place off to the side of the road where she might keep herself from being trampled underfoot. And she imagined that in that small space, under her grime-covered cloak, and pressed into the mess of wet earth -- that’s where she would find her rest.

She saw herself become petrified, as she moved forward through the world as if she were in a dream. She saw soft tissue replaced by hard minerals. There, low down in the pits of despair, she would sleep -- but she would also harden.

The thought filled her eyes with tears. Imagining herself as anything other than this hopeless thing -- this broken creature -- made her angry. They were not hopeful thoughts of restoration. Her imagination had become an escape, and just like in every aspect of her life, escape was a dangerous temptation.

She had to think clearly.

She had to keep her wits about her.

This was a new world after all.

And so there was no pause. She did not subsume to the nearly irresistible desire to give up. She pressed on and continued her walk, each step measured, each movement -- from the sway of her arms to the clenching and unclenching of her fists, and the slight stir of her hips -- a choreographed performance. To look human, small, and not overly assuming. Never threatening. She had to fit the conceived notions of her physical characteristics and those were that she was petite in build, female by the shape of her hips and the swell of her breasts, and perhaps most notable, that she was alone. That latter piece of information could cause her grief if this was the wrong sort of place to be -- and for a woman, when was it ever not?

There was a building up ahead. A tired-looking establishment that fit the environment with an ironic sort of perfection. It was gray in appearance and in mood, but from the windows, warm light shone out into the night.

Golden light.


That’s where she headed, and upon reaching the threshold, she took a moment to glance back into the night. Most of her features were tucked safely away under the shadow of her hood. All that was visible was a softly rounded chin, the pale shape of elegant jawlines, and a small mouth, with heart-shaped lips, dusted in just a whisper of color.

The sky was lit by a falling object. And where most would have rushed in a frenzy of curiosity and wonder, she narrowed her eyes deep in the shadows and frowned.

“No thank you,” she mouthed the words to herself before pushing through the door and crossing the threshold inside.
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