"Very little excites me any more," he replied, putting a hand to Mikah's stomach to steady him as he sat up...as much as to cop a quick feel. "Just consider it one of the many perversions of a very old man."
He laughed aloud at Mikah's question, amused. "Do you recognize any of the cockroaches that skitter past your drawers at night?" The fledglings were, for the most part, barely a week turned, prolific, and many. Not a one of them were proper vampires. "If they weren't fledglings, I might have, but I don't pay the fledglings any more mind than bugs. And as for the lovely lady, I was in the southern parts of this country when the plague struck; I'm not familiar with any of the nobility up here, unless they visited...or somehow survived a century longer than they should have."
Not impossible, he supposed; but even then, they wouldn't be fledglings.
"What a thing, to have such faith in your men," Thomas commented, but left it at that. Perhaps Mikah was right to trust his men. History said no, but it was impossible to tell.
He smirked a bit at the unspoken half of what Mikah said next; no one could be trusted...except for Thomas. It was exactly the kind of mindset Thomas had wanted him to have, and he'd gone and developed it all on his own.
"You think they won't be?" he asked, watching as Mikah mounted his horse. No, he knew the answer to. The question had been rhetorical.
Once the man was seated, he snapped Ludwig's reins and led the way back to the town. They'd do well to get back before someone noticed they were missing, if there were traitors...and to get back before the fledglings noticed he and the commander had taken their leave and thought to hunt them down.
[font "tahoma" [size11 The duo had been given more information that either of them had been prepared for. Mikah had expected to find information over the fledglings weaknesses; never had he imagined he would be in the midst of treason against the crown. His true enemies were the very people placing the kingdom into danger. To say he was going through an existential crisis would have been an understatement. What was his place in the world when humans who were the one tormenting the population and Mikah had to partner up with a vampire to defeat a common enemy.
The commander's thoughts were still astray when Thomas began to slowly retreat from the crowd of imposters and fledglings. He barely even noticed they were moving until Thomas spoke up, causing the commander to reevaluate their surroundings. Mikah hadn't noticed until he attempted to straighten his back after being draped over the back of the horse for so long, that his back was killing him. He groaned as he straightened his back, pressing close to Thomas as he erected his back. It had not exactly been the most comfortable ride ever, especially since he had been forced to hang on when Thomas rode through the forest and up the hill. A warm bath sounded wonderful at the moment.
[+crimson "This excites you?"] He asked stiffly, rolling his eyes at his boyish happiness. To a certain extent, Thomas was correct. It would be a rather exciting time in the palace, though not necessarily a positive one. [+crimson "Did you recognize any of the fledglings? I heard the voices of the men who claimed to be my soldiers, but I did not place the voices. They aren't my men. My men would never go against my back like such."] He said with utmost confidence, even as a stab of regret shot through him. He knew his men would not act against him because they respected their commander; many considered Mikah a friend. However, he was going behind his mens back, relying on an enemy to get the job done.
Yet, Thomas was not the enemy. It had taken a few disputes for Mikah to figure this out, but he had come to the conclusion that Thomas was little more than a pain in the ass. The commander doubted he would go as far as calling the vampire a friend, but he didn't necessarily hate him. No, they were both pulled into this coup and now had to deal with the outcomes. He doubted the ending, if ignored, would benefit Thomas. [+crimson "Let's get back to my quarters before anyone notices I have left. We ned to talk in privacy. As far as I'm concerned, no one can be trusted until we figure this out."]
With that Mikah dismounted Ludwig, his feet landing quietly on the ground. Gideon pranced up behind him, neighing to display his annoyance at their motionless disposition. Petting his stead, Mikah mounted him once again, happy to be upright and not faking death any longer. [+crimson "You don't suppose this band of misfits will be a nuisance, do you?"] He asked, despite already knowing the answer. For once, it would be nice not to have to worry about anything else than what he was going to have for dinner that night.]]
He stopped a ways back; not far enough that the fledglings couldn't see him, or far enough that the humans couldn't see him, but within the edge of the forest, so that it would be difficult to make him out--close enough, in short, for Mikah to hear, as well. He knew the captain didn't trust him, and he didn't want the man to have any issues believing whatever came of this odd meeting. Quietly, Thomas listened to the little exchange, making a note of the men's faces. He hadn't seen them amongst the guard before...but that didn't mean much, when he'd barely spent twenty-four hours behind the castle walls. He filed away their appearances for later.
Someone was attempting a coup, or so it seemed. From within the town? It was possible, but unlikely. More likely, he suspected, was that a group of raiders or malcontents outside the walls had found a way to press the fledglings into their service--through the heartless slaughter of their own kind. Or perhaps it was a nobleman or entrepreneur within the walls--damned if he knew why, though.
Regardless of who they were or where they came from, however, they and the fledglings had a symbiotic relationship. They supplied blood, and the fledglings opened up a town full of valuables for them. Doubtless both sides schemed to do away with the other once their cooperation was finished.
He'd seen enough. Not wishing to push his luck with the fledglings or the castle guards, he turned Ludwig and retreated into the forest the way he came. The big black horse seemed to read his thoughts, and tread lightly through the trees, so that barely a twig snapped underhoof as he walked. One or two of the fledglings glanced back and noticed them leaving, but no one notified the leader; the humans hadn't noticed him at all, from the time he'd arrived to the time he'd left.
Once he was a good distance from the fledglings, he spurred on Ludwig to trot, then, closer to the castle, stopped the horse so Mikah could get off and mount his own horse. "I think that's enough for tonight, yes?" he asked, eyebrows raised. He removed his mask, letting it hang around his neck, and took a deep breath of the cool night air. It'd been nerve-wracking, but at the same time, exhilarating. He chuckled and shook his head. "A coup, huh? It'll be an interesting few days in the palace!"
[font "tahoma" [size11 Geneva fronted the group of fledglings, leading the way deeper into the forest and closer to the hill she had pointed to earlier where the humans were standing. The rest of the vampires seemed inclined to follow her and accept the woman as the leader of their group. Mikah had never thought fledglings were one to unite; he had always taken them as solo hunters. It was amazing the small details he was getting from being this close to him. Admittedly, he would not have been able to get this far without Thomas. He would have been ripped to shreds back where the other humans had been slaughtered. The thought made Mikah shudder.
[+seagreen "Tonight, the humans have asked to meet with us personally. Which is why, I'm suspecting, you are here. I suspect they sent you to keep us in line. No fear, my elder. We will not bring any harm upon those humans. They supply our food and we are quite fond of eating,"] At least Geneva would not bring any harm to the humans now, while they were her main food supply. As soon as the blood stopped, her allegiance to them did as well.
Every so often as they continued on their trek up the hill, a few fledglings would turn back to stare at Mikah, a dark look in their black eyes. The commander was not popular amongst the ranks and many of the fledglings were itching to sink their teeth into the man. Some had toyed with the idea of banding together to retrieve Mikah from the grasps of Thomas. However, no one was willing to take the plunge and initiate such a hostile takeover. They had seen how cleanly the head of their fallen comrade had been cut clean from his body and no one wished for the same fate. So for now, they would have to be content and wait.
The four humans slowly began to come into focus ahead of Geneva. She had never made out their characteristics so clearly before but they were exactly as expected. All four men put on a brave appearance, but Geneva heard their hearts beat loudly and quickly through their chest. Despite all their bravado, they were scared at being this close. Each men were armor that replicated the royal guard, even their horses were doused int he same treatment. Stopping a few yards ahead of them, Geneva opted for a smile as a greeting to the four men. However, it came off more menacing than sincere. [+seagreen "Pleasure to finally make your acquaintance."]
The man standing in the center acknowledged the female vampire sharply, never losing the cold expression on his face. [b "We come on behalf of the crown,"] The guard said, not suppling a name prior to his reasonings. Mikah listened, straining his ears the best he could but no matter how hard he tried, he could not place the voice. He knew his men fairly well, or so he liked to believe but this was a voice that he was not familiar with. It could very well be a group of humans pretending to be castle guards. [b "In a weeks time, you will rally your numbers and attack the outer sector during shift change. The guards will be few and weak. The crown promises you their blood as payment for their disposal."]
Geneva arched a brow. [+seagreen "Palace guards? The king wishes us to attack his own men?"]
The unfamiliar solider remained passive, neither confirming nor denying the vampire's question. Instead, he simply said, [b "The crown has given their orders. Fail and you will be punished with the full force of his mighty army."] Mighty army? Fairly good at best, but not mighty. The man speaking was not one of Mikah's men, but then who was he? He hoped Thomas got a good look at the humans, for he could not. He had to pretend to be passed out and it was proving more and more difficult by the moment.]]
Thomas looked down upon them imperiously as the woman spoke. Beneath hood and mask, he knew they couldn't make out a single feature of his face, so he communicated his position through body language; spine drawn perfectly tall, shoulders squared, chin thrust just enough without seeming puffed, holding the reins just tightly enough to maintain perfect control, and one hand resting on Mikah's back. Authorized by the king, were they? It was an interesting tidbit of information. He'd spent enough time in court to know it didn't mean in the least that the king had authorized their actions. He might have; or someone, claiming his authority, might have ordered them instead. If they were authorized by the king, there was nothing brave Mikah could do; if there was a usurper claiming the king's name, then Mikah would have a quest.
Shouts went up from the fledglings around them. Thomas waited, still silent, for them to die down. One fledgling, braver than the rest, lunged at him and Mikah to get the first bite, comrades not far belong.
Faster than the fledglings would be able to see for another hundred years, Thomas's sword flashed down and removed the fledgling's head from his shoulders. Thomas nudged Ludwig into a rear as the fledgling's comrades backed up; the horse let out a fearsome cry as it stood up on two legs, then crashed down to earth. Confusion flashed over the girl's face. "W--why?" she asked, looking at the fledgling's twitching, beheaded body.
Thomas flicked the blood off his sword onto her and her dress. "Child," he said, and all the strength of his history and past were mustered behind the word. He shook his head and continued with a sneer. "Do you think yourself worthy of reward before you have completed such a meager task? I brought the Commander here to show you our strength. To show you what we can give you, if you follow our orders absolutely. Surely you can understand? The Commander is your gift... after you have completed the last of our tasks."
Her eyes darted to Mikah, then to Thomas, back and forth, and Thomas laughed. "Feel free to try," he said, with a broad gesture at the beheaded fledgling. If they all rushed him at once, he'd have to flee and put his faith in Ludwig's legs; but he didn't think they would. They'd seen what'd happened to their friend. No one was eager to be the next one to die.
"No, child, do not be stupid. If the Commander disappeared now, would not the whole city be put on guard? Patience, my dear. Someone such as him must be saved for dessert, once all the work has been done. Perhaps once you have reached a mere century, you will understand better." He directed Ludwig to turn, and the horse did so beautifully, neck arching with power, prancing with barely-restrained energy. "Tonight, we show you what we can achieve," he gestured at Mikah's body. "In the near future, we grasp it together."
"Why not now?" one of the fledglings growled. "He'll just go missing. No one will know--"
The woman shut up up with an out-thrown arm. Thomas smiled. Oh, she knew how the game was played. Good. "I understand, messer...?"
Thomas looked down at her haughtily. "You do not need my name."
She nodded. An intelligent woman. Thomas liked that. "Have you only come to show us this?" she asked, gesturing at Mikah.
"No. I have heard tales of your ability, but I wanted to see it done. Take me with you tonight."
The woman blinked, taken aback. "I--I thought you did not want to get your hands dirty?" she asked.
"I never said I would participate," Thomas said. "I am much older than the lot of you put together. I will stand back, too far for humans to see-- for your like to see," he added, putting some sneer back in it, "but close enough for me."
Uncertainly, she looked at him. "The others didn't say anything about this."
"Humans do not control me, I control them," Thomas said, taking a risk. It might be a vampire leading them on, after all--though he very much doubted it. "Do you think I need a human's permission to do as I wish?"
The woman seemed uncertain, but nodded slowly. "As you wish," she said, then paused and gestured at Mikah. "Will he not wake up?"
"Do not fear, I have him [i well] in hand," Thomas gloated, enjoying the way the fledglings reacted--eyes flicking to him, tongues licking at imagined perversions. Not that they were wrong. He'd drank their Commander's blood in the most intimate way. And it was good, to let their imaginations run wild. Let them build him into a legend.
The woman nodded one last time, then turned and disappeared into the fledglings, leading the flock deeper into the woods. After a moment, Thomas followed, leaving enough distance between them that they couldn't possibly launch a sneak attack on him. Who was it they were targeting? He was very much curious.
//OOC: I figured the vamp woman was an NPC I could freely control; if this is not the case let me know, and I won't control her again.
[font "tahoma" [size11 A sigh of relief left his lips as Thomas flung him over the back of the horse. It was what he hat wanted, but even still his heart was hammering out of his chest. He was putting so much trust in his vampire companion and was about to be in the midst of a feeding frenzy. If the fledglings wanted his blood, there would be no stopping them. Thomas had to know that, but yet he was still willing to take the risk for answers. Doing his best to lay limp, Mikah focused hard on slowing down his quick beating heart. He wanted to appear passed out, since dead would be out of the question. He could not stop his heart completely, but he could slow it down.
Taking deep breaths, Mikah concentrated on relaxing as Thomas rode in on Ludwig. Although his eyes were closed, Mikah could still sense the danger they were in, and the hungry eyes glaring into his back. For a second, Mikah swore someone was sniffing him, but he calmed down some when he felt Thomas's hand on his back. If the order of hierarchy meant anything to the vamps, they would know to keep their distance from Thomas. He was probably older than all of them combined.
From the center of the chaos, a raven haired female stepped up. She was doused in the finest of silks, no doubt noble born in her human life. Her skin was as pale as Thomas and clashed against the blood dripping down her lips on onto her chin. No one seemed to mind that she was stepping up on their behalf, most eyes went to her expectedly as the newcomer came in. Smiling, the woman spoke in an accent that told Mikah that she was not from around her. [+seagreen "You come baring gifts."] She said, her voice not loud but full of command. It was clear that this woman was used to getting her way.
The fledglings around Mikah and Thomas stepped closer, surrounding Ludwig and his riders. The female vampire stayed in place though, just looking at Thomas expectantly. [+seagreen "Are you here on behalf of them?"] She asked, gesturing to someone in the distance. A group of four or five humans gathered on top of a hill, looking down at the bloodshed that had taken place. It was the same place they always sat, watching as they sent someone else down to do their bidding. It was the arrangement the female vampire had gotten used to. Whatever kept her fed, she was willing to do. But that did not mean she did not like causing a bit of trouble and headache from time to time.
[+seagreen "We must have done something exceptionally well for the king to have sent down a warrior for us to drink from."] She laughed, sending shivers down Mikah's back.
[+blue "Geneva, that is no ordinary guard. That is Commander Sage."] Upon hearing his name, Mikah tensed. He couldn't help it. He had known his name was a common one, but he had not expected this group of fledglings to know about him. Low murmurs erupted around him, saying things that Mikah desperately wanted to block out. They ached for his blood, to watch the life leave his eyes, and that was only the more human things he had heard.
Geneva held up her hand, causing the murmurs to die down and return their attentions back between the two of them. [+seagreen "You can tell your men to inform your kind that the task he had set out for us to do is not complete. Come morning, the kingdom will find the body exactly where he wanted it, another victim of the plague. Our plans to move forward will happen quickly."] She paused, another smile spreading across her lips, this time exposing her fangs. [+seagreen "Now, I would very much like to sink my teeth into the commander. He has killed more of us than the entire army combined and we all crave our revenge."] She said, as shouts of agreement rose up.]]
"We have to," Thomas urged him. He pulled Mikah on after him, half-dragging him back to the horses. Mikah would get torn to shreds if they stayed. He even might face the same fate, if he was unlucky. Fledglings didn't discriminate, once they were in a blood frenzy.
He wanted to jump right on his horse and ride away as fast as possible, but Mikah was hesitating. Thomas stared at him, trying to figure out why he didn't want to run. If they--if they--
It was crazy, but it might work. He shook his head, then grabbed Mikah and slung him over Ludwig easily. "Lie limp," he ordered the man, climbing into the saddle behind him. He walked Ludwig over to take Gideon's reins; the horse balked at first, then followed, snorting and suspicious of Thomas. Thomas pulled him along, kicking Ludwig to a trot. It was a stupid, stupid idea, but if there was intrigue going on in the town, Thomas very much wanted to know about it.
He moved the horses closer, back towards the bloody humans. They'd be dismembered corpses by now; rather than unnecessarily tempt the fledglings and emotionally injure Mikah, he hung back. The fledglings were a mess, maddened, stained with blood, barely an ounce of awareness in their eyes. A few looked at him and Mikah, but had second thoughts when they made eye contact with Thomas, a hand possessively on Mikah's back. Even the fledglings could sense Thomas's superiority, knew better than to challenge him.
He looked around. Where were those humans, the ones he'd heard earlier on horseback?
[font "tahoma" [size11 Unfortunately Mikah could not deny this work before him as anything other than human. Thomas was right, vampires would not have wasted precious blood so carelessly, especially seeing as the human race was quickly deteriorating in numbers daily. All blood was considered sacred. It felt like a step backwards for humanity to see them become the monsters Mikah hunted every day of his life. It was still to see this as a personal attack, but that was exactly how the warrior took it as. Who was behind this? Someone he knew? He could not even begin to imagine a warrior so corrupt that they would fall this before. Stranger things have happened, he supposed.
Rooted in place, Thomas's words went over his head. Mikah had seen gruesome sights during his time of service, but nothing had hit him as hard as the scene before him. The way these poor people were dying were horrific, a fate no one deserved. [+crimson "We can't just...leave them here.."] The thought escaped his head before he could stop it. Rationally, Mikah knew there was nothing he could do, but that did not make him want to simply leave them behind. He was vaguely aware of Thomas next to him, urging him back towards the horses. The..fledglings were coming? To finish off the job someone had already started.
Finally getting his head back into action and ignoring the feelings his heart was telling him to do, Mikah latched on to Thomas as the two of them made it back to Ludwig and Gideon. The horses were spooked, also sensing the incoming danger. [+crimson "Shh, down boy. Gideon, down."] He urged, taming the beast out of his panic. [+crimson "If you can hear them, they can hear us. I'm not sure if it is smart fleeing."] Even now, Mikah could hear the footsteps of hungry animals, the snarls of the damned, and the cries of the weak. The scent of blood only increased, and he could only imagine the red that coated everything in its wake.
Being a commander, Mikah was used to making snap decisions on the spot. The moment they fled, the fledglings would be alerted and it would all be over before it began. On the other hand, if Thomas pretended like he was one of them...Slowly a plan was beginning to form in his mind. It was not wonderful, but he figured it was the only way both of them were going to survive and if they were lucky, they may even get answers out of it. [+crimson "Thomas listen,"] Mikah paused, reaching across to gain the vampire's attention by grabbing his arm. [+crimson "We know that this is some sort of offering, right? We know that a human set this up. We don't know whom or for what, but maybe we could."]
Yes, his plan was not perfect, but he hoped Thomas could see the value in it. [+crimson "You are one of them. You can walk amongst them without being question. If I stay back, they will smell me. You have to take me with you. Say I'm...fuck, I don't know your dinner or special gift from whomever sent the rest. You can get answers, Thomas. We can find out what human or group of humans are doing this to their own kind and for what purpose."]
Letting him, Mikah waited to hear what Thomas had to say in the matter. If the vampire really thought it best to run, he would do so. After all, he knew better when it came to his own kind. Through the chaos of it all, Mikah could barely make out a few words. Sacrifice, deal, and...the crown? King Casimir? Surely he had heard wrong, for the king could not be associated with the gruesome chaos taking place right now. [+crimson "We have to know."] He urged again.]]
"I am a vampire, Mikah," Thomas explained, eyebrows raised. "It comes with the territory that I must pretend to be what I am not." It seemed the man had intended it to be a jab of some sort, though he couldn't understand at what. It was a vampire's fate to be hunted. This recent situation demanded they be hunted more intensely than ever, but they'd always b been hunted, right from the start. Faking being human was a survival tool every vampire had to master early. Oh, letting rumors fly about a dark and handsome man who might have contact with the dark arts was one thing; giving confirmation that he was actually a vampire to the masses was another. Rumors in court built intrigue; confirmation was a killing blow--and the rule held true be it about his vampirism, any alleged affairs he might have, or one of a million other courtly things. It was simply the way things operated.
How many? "What do you think I am, a bloodhound? There's at least a half-dozen, three on horseback. Maybe more," he added thoughtfully, listening. "But beyond that, I couldn't say."
Mikah dismounted, and he followed suit, drawing his borrowed sword. The smell of blood grew more intense the closer they got, and he noticed Mikah glancing over his shoulder. He smirked at the gesture, though his mask would have hidden it. Was he afraid the big, scary vampire might go mad at the scent of blood? He was full, at the moment, and a fully rational being. The scent of blood didn't drive him into any more of a frenzy in this state than the scent of a bakery might drive a sated gentleman into a frenzy--that was to say, it smelled delicious, but he could easily walk past. If he'd been starving or hungry, it would have been a very, very different story, but at the moment he was only...distracted by it.
Except there'd be no walking past these. He stopped dead, dumbstruck. What in the seven hells was this? He'd never seen anything like it. Momentarily at a loss, he shook his head at Mikah's question. "Had to be humans," he said. "Vampires wouldn't do this." He gestured at the blood on the ground, soaking uselessly into the undergrowth. "It'd be a waste. I'd have set a bucket up, at least. Draw more fledglings that way, with a stronger scent. Plus you could eat the leftovers."
Something rustled from behind them, and Thomas spun, raising his sword. It was still too far off for Mikah to hear, but he could hear it: the pounding of feet as fledglings raced to this clearing. "Mikah, back to the horses, now," he ordered tersely. "They're coming. They're all coming."
They wouldn't survive the onslaught of all the fledglings rushing them at once in a true blood frenzy. He glanced at Mikah, ready to grab the man and run if need be, then started for his horse.
[font "tahoma" [size11 [+crimson "You were a spy?"] The sentence alone had caught his attention quicker than anything else that Thomas had said up to this point. Even at a young age, Mikah knew the danger his father put himself into on a daily basis and by extension, his family. The commander's family was always the first targeted in a personal attack. Over the years, the young Mikah had grown accustomed to the danger of his daily life and eventually thrived in it. Mikah had never the opportunity to spy, for his name was far too notable to go under cover. He envied the soldiers under his control that had the chance to do just that.
[+crimson "I suppose you have grown accustomed to being something you are not."] No, he could not resist the jab. If Thomas wanted to tease him, Mikah would be damned if he did not give it right back. After all, he was an elder vampire pretending to assimilate into human culture. He must have been a very good spy, considering his trained men who had been groomed to distinguish between human and vampire, could not tell that Thomas was not human. To be hair, it had taken Mikah awhile to learn that Thomas was not as he appeared. There would have been no telling if the vampire had not been weak.
Suddenly Mikah noticed a change in the air, turning his attentions towards Thomas who seemed to be picking up on something that Mikah could not smell. [+crimson "Human blood? You're certain?"] He asked, letting his horse go forward for a few more paces. As he closed in on the spot up ahead, Mikah heard a faint whimpering sound. He made out a few voices, more than one person. [+crimson "There's a few people. Can you tell how many?"] He asked, waiting for the answer as he dismounted his horse. He could not stay hidden by riding Gideon. He tied the war horse around a sturdy tree, making sure it was well secured before reaching for his dagger, since he had given his sword to Thomas.
Following the moans of pain and cries of anguish, Thomas lead the way forward, letting Thomas cover his back. Now, even he could smell the metallic scent of blood. It hit his nose suddenly, causing him to glance back at Thomas to make sure he was not about to go on a blood frenzy. Damn, he was putting way too much trust in a vampire that did not even mildly like him. Yet, Mikah pushed forward, needing to see what laid ahead of him. When he finally approached the trees ahead, Mikah stopped and stared upon the most gruesome scene he had ever seen in his entire career.
The scene before them appeared to be straight out of a horror novel people read in the comforts of their bed. There was no comfort here, comfort had left a long time ago. Five bodies were not tied but impaled in the trees surrounding them. Their bodies lay slashed, and their blood slowly painted the world around them. Three men and two women stood in agony, ghost white. One of the men slouched forward, impaled through the chest. He was not breathing and Mikah bet their was no heartbeat. One man and one woman was crying, only impaled through the hands as if crucified, but their body full of deep cuts and lashes. The other two seemed to silently cry, coming to terms with their impending deaths.
None of the four still alive paid any attention to Mikah or the vampire trailing behind them. The people had been placed in a circle around the trees, almost set out as an offering. It would not be long until more vampires smelled their blood. Even if Mikah wanted to save them, which he did, there would be no way he could transport them all back to the castle without either hurting them more or without the fledglings following them. [+crimson "Have you seen anything like this before?"] Mikah whispered, feeling at a loss. [+crimson "This is an offering. Who the hell would do this?"]]]
Thomas shrugged. Wait, so if he hadn't come, Mikah would've gone alone? Could he be any [i less] subtle about it being a suicide mission? Goodness gracious. "We might make it home in as few as three pieces," he commented lightly. "I hope they don't take vital bits."
He gestured at his gear, at the double-triple proof jacket, attached gloves, high boots, layered trousers, mask and hood. "I'll be fine in this," he said. He could walk under the full midday sun in this gear. It wasn't pleasant, but he could. He had to be careful his eyes didn't burn out, but as long as he kept his back to the sun or his head bowed deeply enough for the hood and mask to shade them, he was fine. If he didn't have the gear on, even twilight could have proven deadly, given enough exposure or direct light.
Thomas patted the stallion. "He's a sturdy beast," he praised the horse, running a hand through his mane. Riding on top of him felt like riding a thunderstorm, like he had the power to kill and knew just how fragile skulls would feel under his hooves, and simply chose not to unleash it, muscles roiling with barely-restrained power. He hadn't rode a horse this fine in a long, long time. Then again, he usually avoided situations where he ended up riding warhorses. "What about you? How's your relationship with danger?" Thomas asked, unable to resist temptation.
"Be assured, I will," Thomas replied. Unlike a certain human, he had no suicidal desires; he knew his situation in the town would suddenly become precarious if their precious captain vanished while under his watch, even if he had nothing to do with said captain's suicidal urges.
"Well," Thomas started, with a grin. "I've been in a few wars. Tangentially, usually. I'm not the foot-soldier type, you understand. When I was human, I doctored a few mercenaries... as a vampire, things were a bit more glamorous. Me and a few friends, we'd used to take up sides..." he cut himself short. Mikah definitely didn't need to know about that. Vampires dabbling in human politics never ended well for the humans, particularly not when there were vampires on both ends pushing them to war. No doubt Mikah would get touchy if he heard that. "And one time, I took up as a spy," he said, nodding. "Got right in the thick of it, that time. Spy work..." he smirked, remembering. "Good times. Spent the whole war in bed, I think. I could loosen lips with the best of them. And a few other places, too." He shot Mikah a wink, not that the man could see under the mask.
A familiar smell hit his nose, and Thomas sat up straight. Fresh blood. That couldn't be right. Fledglings smelled like--well, vampires. Blood like this had to be human. "Something's up ahead," he alerted Mikah. "I smell blood. And the fledglings will too." If he knew starving vampires--and he knew starving vampires--they'd charge right for the blood thoughtlessly, not a thought to their surroundings. It could be a good place to set up an ambush...provided the blood didn't lure so many fledglings that they became completely overwhelmed.
[font "tahoma" [size11 [+crimson "Yeah, just the two of us. I know it is not ideal, but I cannot risk any of my men on this journey. They are trained to kill; they won't stop and ask questions. Plus, the fledglings are bound to recognize you as a vampire. We cannot have that secret getting out. So yeah..the two of us."] He sighed, no longer feeling as confident as he had been only moments ago. If the vampire was questioning his decision, then he knew that this was not going to be an easy task. [+crimson "This is why I need you to let me know ahead of time when we are no longer alone. Take them out in small numbers."] An easy tactic if it were preformed correctly.
Before taking off, Mikah's gaze traveled to the darkening sky. Although the sun was slowly retreating, there was still enough out to cause alarm for his partner. [+crimson "You will be okay in the darkening sun? It should be dark soon."] Thomas would know better than him how quickly the sun would disappear, but he still felt incline to comment on it. Since they were traveling by horse, which Mikah was happy to see Ludwig seemed rather calm around Thomas, the pair would be able to travel through the woods. [+crimson "Ludwig seems to like you. He's always been attracted to danger."]
[+crimson "We are cutting through the forest. It'll shield us better than making our way through town and provide more protection. Ride close. Speak out immediately if danger is afoot."] He said before loosening up the reigns on Gideon. Giving the horse a swift, but gentle kick on the side, Gideon began to move forward. The horse only trotted, since Mikah thought it was best to keep their movements quiet. Regardless, it would be challenging to sneak up on any creature with phenomenal hearing, but that is where Mikah hoped Thomas would come into play. After all, what was the point of having a vampire without using all the perks that came with it? He used the term "perk" very loosely. There wasn't much when it came to being a monster.
Seeing as how they have a thirty minute ride ahead of them and were still far away from prying eyes and ears, Mikah felt as if this was an excellent time to learn a bit more about his infamous companion. [+crimson "When we were sparing, you mentioned having been to war. Or in the very least, been in some sort of military."] He said, casting a glance over at the vampire. [+crimson "Would you tell me about your experience?"] Vampire or not, Mikah enjoyed history. He also liked learning from people who had experienced something first hand. He was basically hanging out with a walking and talking history encyclopedia.]]
Mikah gave in to him easily enough. He'd expected another outburst, another bratty attack, but it seemed like Mikah didn't have it in him. Either that, or he liked Thomas' touch more than he wanted to admit. He smirked a little. Was it progress, after all?
"I'll hold your sword any day," he offered with a little grin, a little too pleased with himself. Mikah just couldn't keep handing him these opportunities! It was just too easy.
That big black monster was supposed to be his? He gave the horse a wary look. It looked like it could crush his skull under its hooves. Was this some kind of joke? But no, Mikah seemed completely serious. Wary, he approached the horse. It eyed him and tossed its head, letting out a low-pitched wicker. "Hey there, boy," Thomas said soothingly, offering his hand out flat for the horse to snuffle at. Animals sometimes balked at his presence, but Ludwig seemed unimpressed. Rather, his searching lips were much more concerned with the fact that Thomas hadn't brought him any sugar.
Thomas laughed and scruffed the horse's forelock, patting his neck familiarly. "Oh, you're a big softy, aren't you," he said, moving into the stall to see to Ludwig's tack. The saddle was worn and a little too small for him, but it was better than nothing. He clinched the strap tight, then gave Ludwig a pat to let him know he was coming and hopped up into the saddle. The horse bucked a bit, but Thomas held on; once he was certain he wouldn't be getting out of going for a ride so easily, Ludwig quieted, and Thomas led him out of the stall.
"Just the two of us?" he asked, taken aback. This really was a suicide mission! Thank goodness he'd been around, or the town would be losing the captain of the guard for real! He shook his head, then followed Mikah outside. "Right, I can do that," he agreed, swiveling his head. The light dulled his vision; he couldn't see as well in the light. Everything glared his eyes. Once dusk fell, and night after that...then he'd be in his element.
[font "tahoma" [size11 Now Mikah understood why they called it a plague; no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't seem to rid himself of Thomas. He supposed it had been a long shot in his attempts to rid himself of the pest that was Mikah. Next time he prayed for peace of mind, he needed to be more specific, as in more than a few minutes of downward spiral. The touch of his hand on the back of his neck sent chills down his back. It had nothing to do with the weather, for it was a warm summer night.
A part of him wanted to lean into Thomas's touch, which made very little sense. Moments ago, he wanted to punch the living day lights out of him, and now he wanted his caress. Shit, he really was fucked. Though, despite his wayward emotions, Mikah knew well enough that going out alone would not bring him the answers he sought. Thomas would be an asset to the mission. His better judgement was telling him to bring the vampire along and ignore his whirlwind of emotions. [+crimson "You'll be needing a sword."] He finally said, giving into Thomas. [+crimson "Take mine. I work better with a dagger."] He said, and unsheathed his sword, handing it over to him.
There would be no put in asking Thomas if he was familiar with riding a horse; he would probably get a lecture over a time Thomas rode a dragon or something else impossible. Most of the horses in the stables had riders they had bonded with. Gideon was Mikah's horse, a white destrier he had bonded with a few years back. Riding him had become second nature, it was as the war horse and him were one. The only destrier in the stable that had not chosen a rider yet was Ludwig, a black beauty that had joined the other horses only a year ago. He was a bit of a wild beast, but so was Thomas. He figured the two would mesh easily enough.
[+crimson "Ludwig is yours if you want him. He's a bit of a wild one, but I don't suspect you'll have much trouble taming him. Saddle and mount him. We'll head for town after."] He said, taking Thomas to the end of the stables to show him where all the saddles, reigns, and other equestrian equipment was. Mikah grabbed his usual things, heading back over to Gideon in order to prepare his war horse for riding. Gideon neighed appreciatively at the sight of his rider and Mikah pet his long mane. [+crimson "Hey boy. Up for a late night ride?"] He murmured, placing and tightening the saddle around him. Gideon was used to the routine and stayed still as Mikah prepared him. Once the reigns were intact, Mikah opened the stable door and walked Gideon out.
Casting a glance over at Thomas, Mikah watched how Ludwig reacted to the new rider. He doubted he would need to intervene, but was ready if the vampire asked for help. Not that he would, since it would interfere with his holier than thou persona. Deciding it was okay to mount Gideon, Mikah pulled himself up on the hourse, giving him another reassuring pet. [+crimson "We don't have far to go,"] he said, talking over his shoulder to Thomas. [+crimson "The town is only twenty minutes on horseback. We will leave the houses half a mile back and go the rest of the way on foot. I'll need you to be my eyes and ears in the dark. Tell me when we aren't alone. When we are getting close. Or, worse yet, if the town is uninhabitable by vampires or humans alike."]]]
So Mikah was one of those, huh? [i Might as well discard the useless ones,] that was what he was saying. It almost made him laugh. It was something he'd seen over and over again amongst his vampire colleagues; it wasn't uncommon for a vampire to take a favored lover/food source, but often, it didn't last long. The mentality was almost the same as Mikah's; as soon as the human became anemic or otherwise worthless, they were thrown out and a new one was sought out. He wasn't like that--but mostly because he'd been a doctor in his human life, he figured. Too many vampires had been nobility before they'd been turned, and never been taught the value of life. On the other hand, he'd been a mere commoner, brought up amongst livestock; there was something inexplicable but somehow reverent in taking the life of an animal you had known and raised for your dinner. Something nobility like those vampires--and Mikah--didn't understand, and probably never would.
Besides, he had a bad habit of getting attached. At a few centuries old, he had to conclude that it was just the way he was, no helping it.
Wow, he'd really burst Mikah's bubble with that one, hadn't he? A bit amused, a bit befuddled, he watched Mikah race away with a stiff lip. For someone who'd been freaking out about keeping Thomas a secret, he sure did like to shout about it in hallways. "And what I'm saying is that I don't need that accommodation," he said, to Mikah's long-retreated back. Honestly, what was this? It was ridiculous. Mikah was acting like he was a kept woman, or a pet; like a bratty kid with his first pet, who threw a tantrum the first time it acted up. Thomas closed his eyes and offered thoughts to the man's now-dead wife; the poor thing. Had she been swept around like this too, ordered around like a servant, like an object? Had she had to deal with Mikah's tantrums every time things didn't go his way? Had that been her whole life? Then again, what other choice did she have? He shook his head, glad he hadn't been born a woman. He didn't envy them.
More importantly, it looked like he'd be going without a sword, after all. With a shrug, he followed Mikah's scent through the hallways, giving passerby friendly smiles all alike. Before he stepped outside, he strapped on his mask; fully attired to take on the sun, he stepped into the stables and found Mikah preoccupied. With giving the fence an impressive deathgrip. Whatever floated his boat, he supposed.
Thomas reached out and tickled the little hairs at the nape of Mikah's neck with a gloved hand. "I went where I pleased," he announced. "But it looks like I couldn't leave after all." Rather, why leave when he had such an excellent target for teasing right here? Would he ever find another man as precocious as this one? Even if he was a bit of a brat. Then again, it was that brattiness that made him so fun to tease.
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