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His gaze flickered towards the Uber driver for a split second before making its way to Leila. Even though she spoke to the driver, her eyes never left him. It was a look he knew fairly well; a bit of wanting and a lot of questions. Humans always had questions. They questioned everything, it was one of the things Luxe envied about them. Even if they knew the outcome, they still kept on asking, hoping for a different answer. He had learned a lot time ago to just let things go or to just disappear. They can't question you when they cannot find you. An eyebrow rose as she leaned in towards him. [i "Was awfully nice of you to let me ride with you. I really do appreciate it. I’ve made some enemies in the past few weeks, for this story I’m working on. Me intoxicated, plus walking alone in the middle of the night…. probably not the best idea I’ve had in a while. Good to know there’s still good people."] He withheld a snort. Less than ten hours ago, he had put a woman he knew for decades into a grave. Would she still consider him a good person if she knew? Maybe, humans were slightly off when it came to good and bad. There was a lot of grey with them. [i "So tell me about yourself, I’d like to get to know my new friend."] A faint smile appeared across his face.
"Ask me anything you want, love." Light flickered over them each time they drove past a streetlight. With each bit of light, Luxe was able to really study her features. "A bachelors in liberal arts, minor in English." He prated on with useless humanoid details, "don't really remember much of college to be honest." Her face wasn't extraordinary, still pretty, but Luxe had the pleasure of seeing a lot of pretty faces in his life time. Though he found himself drawn to her features, that could of course been the liquor he had been inhaling earlier. She had high cheek bones and her eyes reminded him of a forest, a harsh green with small soft hints of brown. When the small light shone through the car window, they almost glimmered, playing tricks with him until he found himself thinking of springtime. "I suppose you don't care much for little facts like that. As a journalist you want the real gritty stuff, hmm." He reached out with his left hand a tucked a lock of stray hair behind her ear. His fingers just grazing over the skin of her cheek as he did so. The brief skin contact almost made him shiver. Just how long had it been?
"Single, never married. I did date a nice girl for a few years, though it just didn't work out for us. Fancy someone? Or are you all about the job?" Fifty years, give or take a year. Luxe vaguely wondered how she was doing. "No attachments, I do have a cat. Do you enjoy animals?" With a smirk, he slightly tilted his head to the side, watching her. She reminded him of a panther staring down its prey. In all honesty Luxe didn't know if she wanted him or wanted whatever knowledge he had. Sadly for her, he had less than what she had. "I do however-" His words died has they rounded the corner and the blaring lights from several cop cars faintly blinded him. The cold dread snake that was curled up tightly in his stomach stuck again.
"What in the world..?" The driver questioned, crawling to a full stop in front of two cop cars that blocked off the rest of the road. An officer appoarched, gesturing with her hand to roll down the window. "Officer, whats going on?" The poor soul pointed to the blockage of cop cars and the several behind it.
"Crime scene," she stated calmly "gonna have to find another way around."
"Ah, but the house we are going to is right there." Another finger shoved up at the window pane of the car. The officers eyes travelled in the direction of the pointed finger, her full lips disappearing into a thin line once they made their mark.
"You live there?" Her voice now steel. [u Shit.]
"N-No ma'am. I'm just dropping those two off." The poor man jerked his thumb towards the back seat. Luxe rose a brow at the 'those two' since he had paid for two different locations, but stayed silent. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flicker of movement. Bright movement, a glamour. Double shit. The officers eyes squinted, giving both backseat passengers a once over.
"You have some identification on you?" Continuing with the steel tone, she tapped the back window. It only took a moment for the driver to comply with her unspoken request. With the same hand the tapped on the window, the officer impatiently reached out for whatever plastic cards Leila had to offer. "Hand over whatever you have. We will be needing you to come down to the precinct-"
"Miss," Luxe interrupted earning him a curt glare, "just what is happening?" He gave the tiniest of nods towards the blockage. Before she had a chance to open her mouth, another officer came running through the two cop cars, a hand covering his mouth. Luxe took him as nothing more than green around the gills as he watched the man expel all the contents of his stomach onto the asphalt in front of their car. The headlights of the little car gave the man a nice little spotlight.
"Fucking hell Marcus." Miss-to-the-point spat. Stepping away from the vechicle to assist her comrade.
"T-The bodies...I...I can't!" The one called Marcus sobbed out, loud enough for anyone in the now gathering group of people could here.
"Bodies?" An anxious looking driver shifted in his seat. "Can you walk from here? I'll refund you-"
Luxe paid him no mind as he slide out of the car, slinking closer to the hysterical cop. Whatever little miss journalist had been after had caught up to her. Looking at the gathering crowd, he noticed the black suv slowly driving by, surveying the scene. Dark blue eyes narrowed into tiny slits, watching to creep before speeding off. Triple shit. Whoever she had pissed off with her snooping was likely the same being that had took Kealina's contact. The night just continued to get better.
"Uber, 6 minutes.”
Leila watched the strange man, Luxe, slip from his barstool and saunter out of the bar. She blinked completely startled by his demeanor. She’d never met anyone quite like him. He had a… mysterious vibe… and not the good kind. At least not good for her. It was the kind that hooked Leila, made her curious to know more. This was bad because this was generally how she managed to piss people off, by getting too curious and eventually asking a question that took things over the line. Or, and this was a big or… she’d wake up the next morning wondering what happened to her pants, and why there was a snoring man next to her. Luxe didn’t strike her as the type that snored.
Still, this man seemed almost other worldly, much like the men that had harassed her earlier that night. They’d been… off, much in the same way most of the patrons in the bar were. Leila had a good sixth sense, an intuition that had helped her many a time solve her story. Sometimes she wondered why she chased organized crime and didn’t backpack through the Amazon photo journaling wildlife or untouched tribes. Then Leila remembered there would be a lack of dodging bullets and it no longer seemed fun. Besides, nothing was more rewarding than when she could prove the trail led to a crime boss. She wasn’t so sure what crime circle this new group was. They were weren’t Italians, or the Irish, Russians, Ukrainians, Mexicans or Yakuza. Leila really had no clue who they were with. They were completely new… new could be dangerous. New could mean they were desperate to make it known, no one Fucked with them. It only had Leila feeling more emboldened.
Glancing over at Luxe, Leila wasn’t even sure if he was flirting with her or if that ‘Devil May Care’ attitude was the real deal, whatever it was, it had her interested. She watched the heavy metal door close groaning all the while as it shut. Before her stood the bartender and she looked back at the old beat up phone. It looked like it had been chewed on and spit up. She grimaced. There was no way in Hell she was putting that thing near her face. Towering above her was the lug of a bartender. His scowl as frightening as his figure, as he glowered down at her.
“You gonna use it or not?” He gruffed. Leila, was at a loss for words.
“Oh! Aaaaahhh. Mmm, well… that is…” She wrinkled her nose. “You should invest in a new phone,” she told him nodding her head. “Yeah… that thing is nasty, dude.” He growled at her and snatched the phone back so quick, that if Leila had blinked she would of missed it. Instead she flinched back. She hadn’t expected someone so large to move that quick.
She instead offered him a large false smile and slid down from the barstool. “I think I’m just going to take Tall, Dark & Mysterious’ Uber. Thank you though,” she told him and quietly slipped down off the bar-stool and looked to everyone in the bar. “I’m so sorry for your loss and interrupting your evening. Good night,” She pleaded hands clasped in prayer, backing away to the door and into the sweltering humidity of the hot summer night. As soon as the door closed, she whistled low. “Wow… You are a huge ass hole, Leila Patterson.” She shook her head, guilt settling in. She hadn’t known, but she still felt bad for crashing their Wake. Damage done, she looked out at the city streets. Lights glittering like neon stars while the air sang with the sounds of night life. She loved summer in the city, it was her favorite time of the year. She had that feeling again when she spotted Luxe. Her intuition was kicking in, and it was telling her she was on the right track. It that moment she heard the honk of a Honda civic and watched as Luxe put his cigarette out and climbed in. She hesitated, was she actually invited to join him? The car hadn’t taken off yet, so she figured she’d go for it. It was as good an invite as any. She glanced around walking to the car, and slipped into the back seat beside him. “Offer still stand?” She asked with a hopeful smile. When he assured her it did, her smile widened and she settled in, closing the door beside her.
“How are you guys doing tonight?” The Uber asked.
“Drunk!” Leila called excitedly. The Uber laughed.
“I couldn’t tell,” he chided sarcastically. Leila grinned and for some reason found herself looking over at Luxe and smiling at him.
The Honda pulled away from the Bar and started down the road towards Leila’s place. The SUV pulling back into the road to drive off as well. Leila was oblivious to the following SUV behind them, and instead made small talk with the Uber driver.
“Have you had a good night so far?” Leila asked.
“I’ve been lucky to have nothing but good company all night.” His response caused Leila to grin.
“I love Uber. City Taxies suck,” Leila yawned. The driver chuckled and Leila leaned back into the seat, relaxing, and glanced over at Luxe.
“Well you guys just sit back and enjoy the ride, I’ll have you there in no time,”
“Sounds great,” Leila said, but kept her eyes on Luxe. She didn’t hide her curiosity over him. Leaning closer, in a friendly way Leila smirked and lowered her voice to keep the conversation between them. “Was awfully nice of you to let me ride with you. I really do appreciate it. I’ve made some enemies in the past few weeks, for this story I’m working on. Me intoxicated, plus walking alone in the middle of the night…. probably not the best idea I’ve had in a while. Good to know there’s still good people,” Leila said. “So tell me about yourself, I’d like to get to know my new friend.”
[i 'I watched through the eyes of another as the nymph's body burned. It was strange. Watching something that was once so beautiful, so breathtaking, turn into something so horrid and putrid. She had called out, not to her satyr lovers, but to him to end her existence. A tactical last move, involving a higher being. However, in the end, it will only bring a slight delay. They will all end up the same when I am done.' ]
[i -Vol.9 Page 64 of Manuscript of-]
They locked eyes for the briefest moment as she offered him a solution to his cigarette problem. Those few seconds were enough to see the young woman's life ticking away from her. Something wasn't right. Years were chipping away from her. Years that were turning into minutes and by the look of it, she only had a little over an hour left. Luxe took a long drag off of it while giving her a quick over. [i "I want you to kill me."] A shiver travelled from the base of his neck all the way down his spine to settle in the pit of his stomach. There it sat, like a coiled up snake ready to strike, but with no poison in its fangs only cold dread. Slowly letting the thick smoke leak out, he eyed her once more. She had a warm little glow to her skin, not something a dying woman would have. Healthy hair, pretty eyes, tired looking and a little worn down, but nothing out of the ordinary. He took two more hits before extinguishing it in a small glass ashtray that was littered with other cigarette butts. The small box tv that hung in the far corner turned to static as one satyr hobbled past, slowly making his way to what Luxe hoped was the bathroom. The stench of satyr pissed never came out of anything. Even with all of the fancy human cleaning products. Luxe shook his head, his shaggy coal black hair dipping slightly into his eyes. Taking a life had never upset him before, he shouldn't let it bother him now. True it had been quite a number of decades since the last one. Just how long had he actually known Kealina? He had tangled with her in Rome for a few years, but that was well before the fall of the empire. Well before her long string of stinky lovers.
"Leila," her name rolled off this tongue, "the journalist. " Soon-to-be dead journalist. "Luxe," he took her small hand with his free hand, giving it a brisk shake before dropping it, "entrepreneur. Less exciting than yours, but it pays the bills." He lifted his glass up and slugged the last mouthful. Wiggling the now empty whiskey glass at the troll, choosing to ignore whatever look he got in return for the gesture. "Truth be told, everyone at some point in their life has stuck their nose were it doesn't belong. Most just don't make a career out of it. Good for you for sticking with it. Not many are cut out for that line of work." The troll grunted in agreement as if he had been invited into their conversation as he pour Luxe another. The amber liquid sloshed over the rim, splashing over onto his black cotton button up. Honestly, Luxe hadn't noticed that he had worn the right attire until he walked in. Though it would have been better if he hadn't shown up in blue jeans. At least they were dark wash.
[b "So this friend you lost, was that her boyfriend? Husband?"] She asked, innocently. The thought of Kealina taking a husband was enough to make him snort. One of the satyrs that had busied himself in taking care of the weeper shot him a nasty glare. That one must have been the [i prefered]. Getting a little more attention than the rest of them, making him feel as more of the leader.
"Don't let it bother you. Kealina wouldn't have minded. Honestly, she would have prefered a splash of excited in the mix of this." Whatever this was. If he were to actually be honest, he himself didn't want to be here. However, since he was the one she had called, he had to respond to tradition. "She didn't have a husband, Kealina was ..." Luxe clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth as he tried to think of the word most humans used. "...into polyamory." Humans always became a little jittery whenever sexuality was involved.
"Why did she pick you?" The weeper in the back chose that moment to burst out in another fit of sobs. However, it sounded more like [i 'wey dii see ick oooo']. Luxe had to reign in the last ounce of control as to not roll his eyes. If it had been anyone else, he would have skipped this gathering altogether. Friends were a scarce resource now. He took another small drink of his Maker's Mark, letting the liquid roll around before it slid back.
[b "Hey, do you have a phone I can use? Mine is... well..."] She pulled out what had once been an iphone, the screen having had a misadventure. Luxe lazily looked it over, while Bree the troll grunted and staggered off to find the cordless phone. Hopefully it wasn't resting in the pits of one of the satyrs stomachs. Damn things were the worst stress eaters. [b "Like it said... bad night. I need to call a cab, I shouldn't drive."] A bad night, that was going to turn ugly. Azure eyes flickered up to meet herself, holding them for a second, watching her life chip away. Luxe knew he wasn't the only one, a few harpies hiding at a small round table in the back had also been keeping a hawk eye on her.
"You do not want to use that phone." Luxe mentioned, shifting on his bar stool as he reached his his left hand into the back pocket of his jeans. "I have bared witness to some of the places that phone has been. I won't mention them, but they are not lovely." He shook his head while unlocking his android phone and began to fiddle with the uber app. "What's your address?" He asked without so much as looking up at her. Taking a second to input the information she had given. "We can share one since you are only about a mile or so away. There was some dateline thing about how it was good to share one, since it would discourage harassment." He had never watched a second of Dateline in his life. However, he did have a very gossipy pixie that lived next door. Whenever she caught him trying to get into his flat, she would always ramble on about the most useless stuff. Perhaps not useless in this case. "42 Huntingtons, a block or so down from the tiny mexican restaurant with the mural of a cactus. I presume it is a cactus. Maybe just an unfortunate tree." Taking another drink while putting his phone away with the other. "15 minutes." Bree emerging from the back in the middle of the act, holding a chunky pink 90's cordless phone. If the decade it was made didn't put one off, the odd coloring around the receiver and buttons caked in grime would.
"Here." Bree gruffly set the luckless phone down in front of the pubs uninvited guest. "The seven doesn't work anymore." He added as he shuffled off to the backroom once more, emerging with a cleaning rag. As if that would break whatever had made its home on the poor telephone.
"Call a cab if that's more comfortable to you, dear." He spoke earnestly while nimble fingers fished out his package of cigarettes from his breast pocket. Honestly, he had not connection to this woman, pretty as she was, so what she did or wanted was on her. Like the little ticking death bomb of hers. Luxe smacked the bottom of the package against his right palm whilst slipping off the bar stool. Silently, he slide three worn wooden coins before wandering away towards the entrance. To normal human eyes, it would looked like the green paper currency. To a troll it was a treasure, a promise of a favor. "Uber, 6 minutes." He called over his shoulder, opening the old grey metal door that groaned in protest.
The night air was hot and humid. It rushed to him, washing over him in a wave to remove any trace of the pubs air conditioning. Plucking his little silver lighter out, he lit his cigarette flawlessly. The streetlight hummed loudly as a tiny cloud of bugs swarmed around it, a few met their end. Idly, Luxe watched them while smoking, zoning in and out until a shimmer off in the distance caught his eye. A black SUV had been slowly rolling up and had stopped just distance away that it looked like someone was just too cheap to pay for parking closer. The snake in Luxe's stomach finally lasted out, striking his insides until he could feel a shock of cold run steadily through his body. The same vehicle had been parked the same distance away from Kealina's flower shop.
Flicking the almost unused cigarette on the asphalt, Luxe stepped on the head with his black leather boot. There was no use smoking if ones mouth already tasted of ashe. Eyes trained on the SUV the slowly transformed into tiny azure slits, someone was still in it, eyes just as fixated on him. Who the fuck was watching him? Had they followed him here? No. He had made sure of that when he was getting rid of the body. Everything stopped for him until happy little honk from a honda civic broke his stare. He hadn't noticed the glossy blue car pull up. Sighing, Luxe tiredly rubbed the back of his neck with his rough large hands whilst walking over to the automobile. Just what the hell had Kealina promised the girl she had contracted? What the hell did she get him into? Silently he slipped into the back passengers side seat and welcomed the wave of frost ac that washed over him.
Leila did as she always did... made bad choices. She went to the first bar, which was a haunt she hadn't been to in years and boy had it changed. It wasn't your typical seedy dive bar filled with local hooligans that always knew what was happening on the street. She stayed long enough for two drinks, leaving after a moron hit on her. The second bar was decent, sports bar, local, full of sports fans shouting at the TV it was the Patriots or some shit. She didn't know, she didn't watch football. That bar was too loud. She was starting to feel a little bit like Goldilocks, and as she walked drunkenly , with her hands in her pockets and looking around at closed shop windows, she stumbled upon a little hole in the wall bar. "Troll Bridge Bar." She never heard of it. Not really caring either way, she opened the door, there were a few motorcycles outside and that was usually where her tune settled was with biker bars, and that was what she expected when she walked in. It wasn't.
The bar was quiet. Old music played on an even older jukebox, from what she could tell the old thing still played 45s. The air was smokey and the billiard tables were surrounded by normal everyday people. Christmas lights trimmed the wall up by the ceiling with a graffiti mural on the bar wall depicting all sorts of fantastical things. She could dig it, but she managed a few feet towards the bar, taking in the surroundings when the bartender gave her a dirty look from where he stood serving another gentleman.
[i "Sorry, bar's closed, so scram, doll face."] Leila's brows furrowed at his rudeness. She took one look around the bar at all the patrons and leaned into the bar.
"You don't look closed, and your sign says 'Open'." She informed him. "And I don't think it's good etiquette to treat customers that way, also, don't call me doll face and don't tell me to scram like some little child. I've had one hell of a shitty night and goddamnit if I want a glass of whiskey in peace and quiet, my money is good, and the last two bars I've been to sucked ass." She told him and defiantly took a seat at the bar. "Now... will you [i please] serve me a double of Jameson on the rocks?" She asked irately. "Unless this is a private party?" She asked, though she doubted it was, then again she had no idea what exactly she'd stepped into, and she was too inebriated to tell that there was something 'off' about this place.
[i "She can stay. Kealina wouldn't have cared."] Leila's head snapped around to look down the end of the bar where a tall dark man stood up and moved her way. Another gentleman broke on a sob at the mention of a name. Oh Fuck, they were all in black. She groaned and looked at the man as he sat down beside her.
"I didn't realize this was actually a private gathering -"
[i "And whatever she wants, on me."] Leila looked around once more, but everyone else had gone back to doing whatever they were doing before she walked in. Leila glanced over at the man beside her as he attempted light up a cigarette. He informed her that this was a private party. They had all just lost a dear friend and she'd come drunk and starting a scene. She blushed with embarrassment.
"Oh lord... I had no idea. I'm sorry for the your loss, and the way I just acted." She glanced away from him as the bartender sat down her whiskey, she thanked him softly, but she didn't feel much like drinking at that moment. She just made an ass of herself, meanwhile the stranger was still struggling with his lighter. In an attempt to make amends she pulled her out from her pocket and it took flame with one quick flick. She locked eyes with him for a split second and he used her flame for his cigarette.
[i "So what's your story? You look like Satan pissed on you."]
How fucking ironic.
Leila actually smirked, lifting her whiskey to her lips. "Yeah, you could say it was something like that." She muttered before taking a sip of the chilled irish whiskey. "I'm a journalist, we like to stick our noses where they don't belong... I think I've stuck mine in a bad place, but I'm not backing down anytime soon. They think they have me beat." She scoffed, took another hearty sip and leaned back in her seat. "And when I expose them, it's going to be front page news. Yahoo will call it trending, it will be all over Facebook, the New York Times, CNN and Fox News..." She glanced around the room then and looked up at the man. "My name is Leila by the way, thanks for letting me crash the party." She glanced over her shoulder at the men huddled in the far corner. "So this friend you lost, was that her boyfriend? Husband?" She watched the one Satyr who just couldn't seem to contain his tears. "Poor guy." She shifted uncomfortably while around her these people mourned their loss. The awkwardness finally settled in and she shifted uncomfortably. "You know, I appreciate you letting me stay here, but I really shouldn't. If I had known you all were in mourning I clearly wouldn't have come in here starting a scene. Maybe I should just finish this and leave... it's late anyway." She frowned. "And if I drink much more, I'm either going to be a lot of fun or absolutely worthless." She looked at the bar tender then and caught his attention. "Hey, do you have a phone I can use? Mine is... well..." She pulled the iphone out of her pocket and showed the shattered screen. "Like it said... bad night. I need to call a cab, I shouldn't drive." The bartender gave a nod of his head and slipped into the back to find her a cordless phone. Now she just had to sit in silence, wait for the phone and call that cab. Hopefully it would get around soon, the more she sat in this bar the more aware she was of eyes on her.
[I Humans have always fascinated me, even when the world had just begun for them. They are always busy or rather busy appearing busy. They invent so many things to make their life easier, to make their deaths easier. As if either of those things weren't easy enough. Like ants, they file into work, their homes, and even into marriage. Never having a enough time, never realizing what is truly important in this world. The junkies were the most interesting, their deranged behaviors and actions, it as fun watching them until it wasn't. Until they were so far gone that [b I] wanted to put them out of their misery. Then there are the poor souls that think they can outsmart us...You see another thing that made humans so riveting was their concept of believing that an everlasting life were possible. What was that word they use for it again? Ah, yes, immortality. They even concocted stories of a fountain that would grant it. If only that were true, certainly would make [u our] lives easier, no more contracts, no more having to share my essence with this beings in exchanged for another measly fifty more years of youth. If only it were that simple....]
[right [i -Page 12 of Manuscript of-]]
[center [b [u ]]
Another killing, another girls pale face clogging all the news channels and newspaper headlines. With a heavy sigh, Luxe began neatly folding the crinkled newspaper he had been briefly skimming through. He didn't need to read about whatever the humans speculations were on what happened to these girls. He [u knew] what happened to them. They all had the mark upon their body that told the whole story, a contract mark. It wasn't clear [i why] all these girls had made a contract, there was no signs or story of what they had gotten out of it. However, whomever had they were making their deals with didn't care to drain their life force slowly. It was sloppy and exceedingly fast, as if they were afraid of getting caught. This wasn't the first time one of their kind had done something like this, but this thing wasn't just happening here. Whomever was doing it here was not the mastermind behind it all. These killings were happening all over and the community was in a tizzy. The sound of soft footsteps padding towards him finally made him set the neatly folded paper down, the girls face finally hidden.
A mauve coffee cup with scolding hot water was set in front of him, while the little nymph that went by the name of Kealina sat down across from him. A wood nymph in their world, but here she was nothing more then a flower shop owner. Her dark brown hair cascaded down past her little waist and her sizable lips made her quite a nice sight to look upon. It still shocked him that she had called out for his help rather then one of her satyr lovers. They sat in silence, neither of them wanting to address the fact of what was happening in their own city. Or the reason that she had called him to her home in the first place.
"It happened again, didn't it?" Warm brown eyes shimmering with concern finally caught his own dark azure gaze. Luxe down casted his eyes to the steam rising up and out of the coffee cup before wrapping his fingers tightly around its handle. "The girl before this worked at my shop." Kealina continued quietly, her voice cracking over the last word making 'shop' sound more like 'shep'.
"This shit will continue to happen." He replied gruffly, eyes still locked onto the steam. "We have rules against this, if the sentinels think it is too much they'll step in and shut this shit down." Even he didn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. If the sentinels had cared, they would have stopped this after the third or fourth girl. There was a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him silently that something bad was happening, sentinels or no.
"Luxe." Something in her tone made him look up, her eyes no longer filled to the brim with concern, but something else, something that Luxe knew too well. [i Fury. Cold fury mixed with fear.] "Who ever is doing this isn't going to stop. They took my flower girl from me. [b From me.]" It was then that this entire visit began to make sense. Kealina had had a contract with this dead girl and now she was left with nothing. Nothing but an open contract. An open contract was death. This girl had promised her life to Kealina then went ahead and gave it to someone else. Humans could have multiple contracts, but our kind could only have one. If one of those should be left open and unfulfilled....it was a death sentence. Without much thought, Luxe reached out his free hand, taking the little nymphs and giving it a tight squeeze.
"Kealina..." Luxe tenderly began, but he was cut off before he could say more.
"I want you to kill me." Kealina's breathing was ragged as she finally pleaded her request. "Please...I don't want to..." She trailed off while taking her hand out from underneath his to firmly hold her own hand. "I don't want to make this drawn out...I won't be able to take it." The silence between them returned with a vengeance, hanging heavily on their tongues as the truth settled upon them. Whatever or whomever was planning this wasn't just slaying humans, he was slaying his own kind as well.
[b [u (Evening)]]
The troll named Bree slammed his drink down with a thundering thud, spilling some of the golden liquor over the sides before graciously giving him a dirty look. Why Kealina had been a fan of this hell hole was beyond him. Her once satyr lovers hovered around one end of the bar talking in hushed words about their little nymph. Every once in a while Luxe would catch one of them looking in his direction. Unanswered questions filling their eyes. Shit, he didn't blame them. In the days of old, it was supposed to befall on one of them to take her final breath. [i 'Make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.'] Kealina's final words still ringing in his ears, even though her body had been burned several hours ago.
Between the secret whispers of a past love and the shitty football game that he was barely managing to catch in between all the static, Luxe was just about to get the hell out of this place. Until the door opened and [u she] walked in. Tension filled the air almost as fast as her scent did. Even the Bree the troll shuddered when the woman walked up to the bar. It wasn't that she was human and she was walking in on someones wake, it was she was human and had the same scent that was lingering on all the dead girls and the places they were found. "Well, fuck me sideways." Luxe mumbled, gripping the thin glass harder and chugging back the honey ale until it was empty. It Kealina wanted her death avenged so quickly, she could have given him a proper warning before it all.
"Sorry, bar's closed." Bree curtly responded once the woman made it within ear shot, "so scram, doll face." The satyrs winched as the smell finally made its way over to them and that was saying something. Luxe had watched them literally eat garbage without so much as a gag, but this scent had gotten to them. [i 'Welcome to the worlds shittiest bar, at the shittiest time to be here.']
"She can stay." Luxe intervened lazily, pushing off the bar stool and ambled his way to the vacant seat next to the mysterious woman. "Kealina wouldn't have cared." At the mention of the woman's name a satyr in the corner busted dramatically into tears. The troll shot Luxe another glare from behind the bar to which the dark hair male just shrugged and tapped his index finger against the empty glass to signal a fill up. "And whatever she wants, on me." Patting a hand against his black leather jackets inside pocket, Luxe smoothly pulled out a cigarette while his other hand dug into another pocket for his steel lighter.
"Worst time to make an appearance here." He mumbled, catching the butt of the cigarette between his lips, his hand cupping around it as his thumb tangled with the lighter. "Close friend just died." Luxe jerked his head in the direction the satyr had ran off. "Natural causes." He added in quickly, to avoid any further questions about the nymphs death. After a few tries the damn thing was finally able to hold a flame. "So what's your story? You look like Satan pissed on you." He asked briefly, lighting the end of the cigarette, meanwhile flicking his wrist to snap the top of the old grey steel lighter shut.
[b -TWO WEEKS AGO-]
"If we see you around here again, you will be dealt with. Take heed, you've been warned." The pious and pernicious guard growled as he all but tossed Leila out into the street. It had taken the woman almost three months to figure out who these people were and where they conducted their ceremonies. Leila Patterson was an up and coming investigative journalist. Her attempt was to go undercover, and for a small while she managed it, until a member of the cult found her out and exposed her -before she could expose them. Leila had only been able to scratch the surface before they tossed her out on her ass. She was still determined to get back inside, find the truth, and expose them for the zealots they were.
You could call it her own personal witch hunt, but in the bustling metropolis that was her city, the list of missing persons had continued to grow. She believed this new rising cult was to blame. It was very underground, and was hard to get in, in the first place. Now it was ruined -but not entirely. Her original story was going to be on finding the kidnapper and murderer of a local young woman who's remains were found washed on the shore of the Harbor. One clue led to another, and she apparently found something the police department had not. The local girl had been marked -branded. Looking into records she found autopsy reports listing similar [i 'cattle brands'] on a few others that had been found in the past five years. The pattern was undeniable, and after hours upon hours of research she discovered what the marking was. It was an geometric pattern with special runes... which she discovered were linked to Satanic beliefs. Of course no one at the Precinct wanted to listen, they all laughed. Well, that just meant it was up to Leila to expose this person herself. That person turned out to be people... an entire cult of radical extreme Satanic Worshipers. Not a place she really wanted to find herself, but hey, it could be worse -she could be an investigative journalist over in Iraq getting shot at, or worse -kidnapped, raped and publicly beheaded.
Now she was tossed out on her rear, because they'd done their own research on her. She should have used a pseudonym. Dumb-ass rookie mistake using her real name. For a moment she sat in the damp alleyway of massive rusting warehouses, where the worshipers came to Pier 17 gathered in an old abandoned warehouse, and chanted loudly as they worshiped their Demon-God. Leila, as it was -did not believe in God, she was spiritual -but she did not like organized religion in the slightest. Everything she had witnessed so far had only reminded her of why she didn't like traditional religious beliefs, or the way in which they worked. In her opinion, everyone in that warehouse had been brainwashed into believing something that was absolutely asinine and counter-productive to the Human-race.
"Now get out of here... and one word out of you..." He left it open to her imagination, but she just rolled her eyes and stood up, brushing the mud from her pants.
"You're full of shit." She challenged, but when two other large burly looking men came up from behind him she felt her insides tremble. "Need three big ass morons to take care of one small woman?" The men looked amongst one another, but said nothing and did nothing, just turned away from Leila and slammed the doors shut in her face.
[b -PRESENT DAY-]
Leila woke up to the smell of coffee brewing, and like a siren it called her from her bedroom. Tossing on an old college sweater she stumbled down the hallways and stairs until she reached the kitchen where her mother was making coffee.
"You want a cup?"
"Mmmm..." Leila muttered incoherently. From the counter, her mother grinned and poured Leila a cup.
"Come outside with me?"
"Sure, if you let me bum a cigarette. I'm out."
"Bad night?" Her mother asked as the two of them headed out to the patio to enjoy the balmy summer morning. Above them in the trees, birds sang, and off in the distance they heard the foghorns of cargo ships coming into the harbor. It was a nice seaside town, rather quintessential, and quiet. The mother and daughter duo, lit up their cigarettes and began their morning routine of gossiping, smoking and drinking coffee.
"I drank way too much last night." Leila confessed. "I need to stop, I have no money, my job is a joke, and my lead for that big story I was going to do is just dead! I've accepted, it's over! Kaput! No MORE!" She said with a dramatic flare, waving her cigarette around in the air.
"You have been moping around this house for two weeks over that. What on Earth was so important about it?" Leila frowned.
"It's best that you don't know."
"Because I'll get angry right?"
"Well duh, ma." Leila reminded. "I walk across the street and don't look, you have a heart attack. You lectured me for an hour after I joined EHarmony, about the dangers of Cyber-predators." Leila gave her mother a pointed look. "I'm almost thirty... I can handle myself." It was her mother's turn to roll her eyes.
"Sure! You can handle yourself. Got married, then divorced, lost all your money, lost your job, living with your parents... yeah -you've got it all together." Leila groaned and slapped a palm over her face.
"I didn't come out here to argue..." She whined from behind her hand. In a motion of surrender, her mother raised a hand and lowered her cup from her lips.
"I'm just saying: I'm your mother and I care. I want you to succeed, and right now you're struggling. It's okay, bad things have happened to you the past few years, but I'm proud you continue to try. Just wish you'd cut back on drinking. Almost rather you were still smoking the pot." Leila dropped her head and shook it. "What? At least on the pot you were less of a Negative Nancy. Once you started drinking...." She waved a hand cutting herself off. "Never-mind, you don't want to hear it anyway."
"No, I don't." Leila whispered taking a hearty gulp of her coffee.
"You want to know what I think though?"
"I think you should go back out and find your story. Anything worth having is worth working for, and you put a lot of work into that story... just to give it up because you were told to stay away? All the more reason to go back in and check it out."
Her mother was right!
It was time for her to get out there and try to uncover the truth. No matter what.
When she returned the same warehouse late in the evening at the time of their regular worship she found the warehouse abandoned once again. They certainly were secretive -now she'd have to find them all over again.
"Damnit!" She hissed, standing inside the empty warehouse, all that remained was rat droppings and dust, everything else -any proof was all gone.
"Not a good place to be at night... especially a woman who is alone." The voice was chilling, and slowly Leila turned to see one of the Elders of the Cult. He'd be attractive if not for the evil gleam in his eyes. He stalked towards her in the dimming light of evening, his broad shoulders encased in a fitted black tee and narrow hips moved muscular legs towards her. He looked like an army commando, Navy Seal, she wasn't sure, but this man looked like he could snap her in half. She took a step back. "I knew you'd come back. I could smell your persistence on you. I'll be honest though, took you long enough. My Friend thought he'd given you a good enough scare, but I can promise you, you've come back, you didn't take the warning... now you'll have to suffer the consequences." Leila, lifted her chin defiantly.
"What are you gonna do to me?" She dared. The Man just smirked.
"It's a surprise... for now, I think you better go home." He reached out and grabbed her arm dragging her towards the doors. Outside a black SUV sat idly with only the running lights left on. Leila turned to give the man a piece of her mind so she could wrench herself free and really lay down a threat. In the process of leaving the warehouse, she noticed a tattoo on the inside of his bicep -the same marking she'd found on the autopsy reports from three months ago!
Releasing her, the stranger shoved Leila out into the front of the running car and into the lights. He crossed the lights himself, looking down at Leila with a sort of dangerous predatory stride, and entered his SUV.
"I will find you again, and I will expose you. I'm going to figure out what you're up to!" Leila shouted, but the man took off without another word, leaving Leila alone. Cursing she turned around and kicked over a set of pallet boards, marched to her own car and headed straight for the bar.
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