Born To Run

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Aine, May 7, 2013.

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  1. It was a beautiful night; silent, full of stars, and yet heavy with a vague promise of danger hanging in the air. Most of human cattle felt that way about absolutely every night. Nobody knew when Sekhmet's children would appear to sink their fangs into their necks; to drain every remaining drop of life-giving liquid called blood. Rowena didn't need to bother with such futile concerns, mainly because she belonged to the opposite side of the barricade. She was watching her subordinates running around seemingly in circles; in reality, their movements had a distinctive pattern to it that only a trained eye could spot. Her face was an epitome of composure; unreadable smirk didn't betray a single emotion outside of hard-earned satisfaction.

    Finally, it would all end tonight. As ludicrous as this little rebellion was, government couldn't have allowed the Hekans to lead senseless guerrilla wars against their rightful masters. Letting them scream phrases like: Humans are friends, not food wouldn't have exactly demonstrated complete control over the mankind. The ungrateful task of exterminating the nuisance had been assigned to Rowena, probably as a form of especially sadistic punishment from her beloved higher-ups. She had spent past few years chasing after Darien, group's infamous leader, wandering through whole continents. The guy had been slippery as an eel, dodging her every attempt to drag him to the justice... Until now. Rowena had managed to get her hands on Darien's close confidant and had a polite chat with him over the cup of coffee... Well, let's just say that few traditional methods such as flaying alive had opened his mouth fairly quickly.

    The taste of victory was sweet.

    "Ma'am?" saluted young vampire with sandy blonde hair. "Everything is ready." This single sentence disrupted her thoughts; Rowena just nodded in acknowledgement, her smile widening. Result was closer to horrible grin straight out of horror movie than sincere display of happiness. "Good. I think I should grace the poor man with my charm. Hand me the speaking trumpet." She clenched the instrument and raised it to her lips.
    "Hello, Mr. Darien, also commonly known under alias Future Corpse in my department." Distant laughter could be heard from the crowd, but the woman ignored it completely. "Rowena Finchley speaking, your number one fan. Sadly, I can't go inside to greet you personally because of that absurd rule about entering people's houses. Would you be so kind as to grant us your invitation? It'd be really distressing if I had to detonate the explosives we have placed around your building. Distressing, yet perfectly understandable from the viewpoint of my boss." Her voice had a light tone to it, as if she was discussing the weather with him. "I can't really guarantee you personal safety since I was taught not to lie, but your precious underlings could be spared. After all, you're a rare breed."
  2. Darien's light blue eyes looked at his group. They were all devoted to their cause and he knew that asking them to leave to save their lives would be as fruitful as trying to get a vampire to stop drinking blood. His expression was focused as he tried to come up with solution that wouldn't result in massacre and would enable all of them or maybe just some of them to leave and deliver message to their general. Outside the walls of the house where they were hiding, Darien could just about guess what was happening. The vampires had them in disadvantage. As cruel and cold as they were, at this point, Darien was sure they would do anything to wipe him and his team off the face of earth.

    Suddenly, woman's voice pierced the silence of the night and just from the first words that she spoken, Darien didn't like her. But then, he didn't like any vampire. So they are this desperate, he thought and as he was leaning by the wall next to the window, he dared to have a swift look outside to see how many vampires they were against this time. Too many. Looking back at his lot, the thoughts the he was consciously suppressing have just been validated. Not many of them will make it out alive tonight.

    "Listen, this is what we'll do," he said and knelt down, using his basic skills of illusion to draw a scene of what he has planned to happen next. "That is an insanity!" Exclaimed one of his subordinates but Darien silenced him with a look of finality. At this point, there was no turning back. They went too far to shove all down the toilet now. What they found out will either be delivered to the general or it will die with them. "You two," Darien pointed and two men who were possible the same age as him. "You will stay inside to locate the bombs, search for them with your skill and once you have them you know what to do." The men nodded, knowing that if they fail and the vampires do decide to blow this place up, it will mean certain death to them. However, if they find the bombs and inconspicuously move them closer towards the vampires...

    Let's hope they don't know exactly how many of us are in here, he though as he went towards the main door followed by the rest of his group. "Rowena Finchley! Darien's speaking. I am coming out with my team. We are surrendering!" As hard as this was to say, it was even harder to look at the three remaining faces that so obediently followed him. "Remember, once we are surrounded by them, we are going to cause mayhem," he whispered and they responded with assertive nods. It was enough assurance for him to lead them out to the last battle. Opening the door, cold night air filled his lungs and rustled his black coat which was embroidered at the top with long gone shine of somehow golden thread. Darien had it nonchalantly open exposing plain black shirt underneath which paired nicely with the rest of his black clothes. Having such a dark outfit only stressed the paleness of his skin and shine of his eyes, attributes that humans and vampires alike were disgusted by. As he entered the open space, the night breeze played with the hem of his coat that reached down to his knees. His placidity was obvious from the way he walked, the way he held his body. His face was epitome of confidence yet secret resolution.
    #2 The Returner, May 7, 2013
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  3. Rowena was just standing there motionlessly, surrounded by many vampires whose names she didn't deem worthy enough to actually store in her memory. Aside from appearing in her personal commander statistics and occasionally serving as living shields, they meant absolutely nothing to her. Their loyalty, although blind in battle, was anything but unyielding when faced with more delicate problems: inner power struggles. Miserable meat sacks with little to no creativity, puppets on strings that needed a firm guidance. Even now, many of them didn't quite understand the magnitude of this mission... Or immense range of little details that could go horribly awry and backfire on them.

    Icy wind was playfully caressing her hair as she awaited answer from the leader of rebels, calm as a rock amidst turbulent sea waves. Rowena expected almost anything from being recommended to betake herself and her army of bloodsuckers where the sun doesn't shine to Hekans showing up in tribal skirts from palm leaves and initiating the peace talks. Okay, the latter was little less probable than the former, but Rowena's brain still included the scenario for the sake of harmless fun. You'd be surprised how many vampires perceived humor as some kind of disease that distracted them from dignified brooding; bathing in your own despondency seemed to grow into a twisted trend. Anyway, Rowena was secretly dreading the flat out refusal; maybe Darien preferred to die as a martyr and had been dreaming about being torn to bloody pieces. That was all well and good - Rowena was no human rights activist - but the fabled bombs had one blemish. Specifically, they didn't exist.

    She had learned about Darien's whereabouts on short notice; gathering advanced equipment such as explosives would have slowed them down significantly, allowing the Hekans to change their position again. So here she was, overflowing with false confidence and betting the success on simple bluff. Word "stressful" didn't even begin to describe it. Rowena was breathing twice as fast than normally, feeling cold sweat on her back; she had to concentrate on looking serene in order to maintain the morale. Darien's response brutally murdered the tension between her men; she could practically hear them sigh collectively in relief. Rowena, however, didn't suffer from the gullibility syndrome; when things were too good to be true, they usually weren't.

    The door opened and the rebels emerged from the darkness; she couldn't help but stare a little at the man she had been hunting for so long. It was so strange not even knowing the face of your arch-enemy, so unreal. Rowena didn't doubt his identity; other guys were clearly eying the white-haired abomination with respect. She bit her lip and for a moment, unnatural silent spread its wings over the place. The soldiers, their commander, the time; everything seemed frozen. Strange spell was broken quickly, though. "I know you're technically just runaway slaves, but jeez, I thought fulfilling ONE simple request would be within your capabilities. Oh well... FIRE!" she exclaimed suddenly and the mutineers became targets to many darts filled with sedatives. Rowena didn't lie about the rarity of Hekans; they would be subjected to thorough brainwashing instead of certain death. Except for the leader, but HIS execution deserved its audience.
  4. Darien didn't lead the remnant of his group too close to the vampires. Yes, he was on a suicide mission right now but he wasn't that willing to die just yet. As he stopped some thirty meters away from the opposing party, he got a very good look at who they were against. he scanned the vampires standing in front of them and their expression if they were not wearing masks. None of these monsters were any different from those Darien met before. They were all here to subjugate, dominate and kill. Looking over the congregation of hateful individuals with only one aim in this mission, someone caught Darien's eye - a female vampire with short hair who somehow, for no parent reason but Darien's gut feeling, seemed different from the rest of the group. Just from the way she held her body and regarded him and his companions, he could guess that she was the leader of this squadron. His hypothesis was in no time confirmed as she spoken to them again.

    Simple requests? Well, didn't they just present themselves on a silver plate? Wasn't that what they wanted? Few thoughts ran through the Hekan's head before the vampire woman shouted out a command. His theory about her was right, she was the leader; but his theory about her game was wrong. "Shield!" Darien shouted as the night was disturbed with the sound of gun fire and the air was filled with missiles making their way towards the 'runaway slaves'. However, it was already too late for one of them who received a dart in the shoulder and abdomen. That man was the only good illusionist they had and as he stumbled backwards, fighting back the narcotic, Darien knew what mistake he did. Illusionists were the most most vulnerable members of a group. They could not force things to fly their way so that they could hide behind it. That man who didn't last any longer than couple seconds, should have stayed inside.

    None of these thoughts though, affected Darien's performance. From the second the vampire commander betrayed her own proposal, Darien had his magic to get him a shield, tearing a door from a nearby house. A dart flew past him just a few millimeters from his cheek. he could feel the gush of air that the bolt created and it only made the danger more prominent. The moments his cheek was nearly caressed by the friendly dart, Darien had the door in front of him, holding it up with his magic. Sequence of dull thuds resonated in that small space around him. With a quick look, Darien noticed that another member of his troop fell. Last one standing was another manipulator, hiding behind a door torn out of hinges too. "Retreat," Darien mouthed at him, but the response he got was negative. His companion shook his head. "Retreat and deliver the message," he added and his expression got resolute, hard and sharp. Back then, behind that door stood a commander who wanted his companions to finish the mission while he would put his own life on line for them. Yes, Darien was that kind of person. He would protect those assigned to him even with his life. "It's an order," he added, seeing the slight resistance in his subordinates eyes that was now crushed under the pressure of the moment and situation. Darien was left alone in the street, not daring to look back to see whether his companion made it back.

    It just me and you, blood suckers, he thought furiously and once again the night was cold, brushing against his temples as he narrowed his eyes in concentration. At the same time, his hand slipped beneath his coat, taking hold of handle of his gun. The firmness of the metal calmed him down as it brought some reality to this moment which no matter how dangerous it was, still seemed to be a bit unreal to Darien. Suddenly, the glass in the windows above the attackers began to shake. Whether vampires noticed it or not, Darien didn't care. With the last mental 'push', shards of broken glass rained down upon his enemies. He had little control over the pieces and he wouldn't even bother to try to control them as he had no time to do so, but the blast made the fragments fly far, fast and into many directions. In the next upcoming seconds, that started in the moment when the echo blast of the blasted joined the orchestra of the gunfire, Darien sent the door flying at his main enemy, Rowena, while he shot his own gun at the soldiers standing closest to her. Whether he wreaked havoc in the midst of the vampires, Darien couldn't care less to notice, but he ran for it.

    He ran towards the house from which he so graciously borrowed the door. As he got closer, he could notice that the glass even in that house was shaking though this time it wasn't his doing. Darien wasn't using his magic in that moment and so it took him a fraction of a second to actually understand what was going on. Casting a quick look towards the house where the rest of his team was meant to be, he noticed some pairs of bright blue eyes and hands extended towards the house. Idiots, you were meant to be gone by now, he thought quickly, but was somewhat glad that they didn't leave. Just as he entered the house, another loud crack filled the night as more glass was broken. Briefly stopping past the entrance, Darien looked behind at the shiny material that almost seemed to be falling from the sky like abnormally big snowflakes. Only these snowflakes were controlled directed at its prey - the vampires.

    Thanks. A word he will never be able to say to these brave, young men, who now risked their own lives so that he could save his, disobeying his last order even though no fame will come to them and the world will never know their name. Those were the men he swore to protect but at the end failed to do so. If Darien had time and space for sentiment, he would give himself over to it. But right now, for the sake of his team, which was now no longer existing, and for the sake of the cause they were all fighting for, Darien ran through the house to the other side to find the back door. Shouldering the door which was already weak from the age, the Hekans leader stormed into the night again. The flapping of his coat as he ran, quickened breath and assurance of the gun in his hand was his only reality now. He would ran as fast as he could, even though he could never hope to outrun a vampire. Either way, Darien wouldn't give himself in so easily and at any time, if one of these ghouls would start chasing him and would dare to get too close to him, Darien would fire at that individual without hesitation aiming for the vital parts of their body that would cause these creatures certain and hopefully immediate death. He wouldn't let them get him so easily. Never. Not even after they got his whole team.
  5. Rowena had to admit that Murphy, despite falling into the category of fairly useless blood cans, had carried a great amount of wisdom. Of course the Hekans couldn't have relaxed and let the soothing effects of drugs wash over their tortured bodies; no, they just had to prolong this already embarrassingly long manhunt and resist. She didn't understand their motivation, their drive; what made them continue against all odds? Insatiable hunger for defeat so cripplingly painful the actual demise would be liberation? From Rowena's very limited knowledge of human culture, it looked like the mankind valued people willing to throw their lives away for a higher cause; they even called such a lunatics "heroes." It demonstrated the difference between mindsets of humans and vampires rather well; while the men appreciated the thought, the vamps would show recognition only in the face of success.

    The leader reacted quickly, but there was an obvious spark of surprise in his body language; it almost seemed he had actually believed in her virtuous intents. How laughable. Was he naive enough to presuppose any mercy when dealing with the terrorists? Rowena was notoriously known for sticking to her principles, which could be summarized by the motto "Screw your enemy up as hard as you can." Rules - or God forbid, etiquette - were for the weak. She smiled with visible satisfaction as one of those monsters collapsed to the ground, writhing in an effort to get back on his legs and assist his traitorous comrades. He stood absolutely no chance; his own bloodstream was against him. Such a fragile, pitiable existence. The others, however, just wouldn't give in to the cruel reality.

    Rowena wasn't some low ranking scum, which meant the whole battle had a unique flavor for her; pulling the triggers along with her subordinates was firmly out of question. She was playing the role of tactician and observer; mostly independent pair of eyes that could see everything from a new perspective. Short, harsh commands in a language so strange it was clearly some sort of military code were accompanied by sweeping gestures. Her movements bore a resemblance to those of a seasoned conductor - steady and elegant - but the final product of her activity was much more than a mere melody. Bodies were dropping like flies; if you really want to use musical terminology, then it was clearly a symphony of destruction. Darien's resourcefulness saved him from the worst, yet Rowena knew it had its limits... And the statistics spoke against him.

    But then, it turned out that cornered rats can bite; Rowena noticed the glass trembling in the window frames. Before she put two and two together, the cloud of extremely sharp shards was swooping down on their heads as some kind of divine retribution. Darien also sweetened the situation by sending additional present to Rowena: old and rusty door. It was certainly more original than getting her a bunch of flowers, but she didn't really feel all mushy inside. "Take a cover!" she hissed and rolled from the reach of door. Few stray shards found their way to her skin, bruising her in the process; now she was legitimately pissed off. Hurtful cries of her underlings weren't helping with the anger issues either. No, Rowena hadn't found sudden compassion for the soldiers; their pain was just proof of her incompetence in handling this matter. She shouldn't have let it happen. Even in state of emotional turmoil, she continued to do what she was best at; barking the orders. "Tend to the wounded first, and then retrieve the Hekans. Try not to damage them too much. I will go after Darien; send the reinforcements as soon as you can." Capturing the target required very different strategy than its killing; delicacy was essential. Besides, Rowena really craved to kick his butt after the incident with door. Can't a girl have her fun?

    Rowena ran, as fast as an arrow, guided by the unmistakable scent of foul blood. Her uniform, although torn at some places from encounter with broken glass, still clung perfectly to her body and eased the sprint to her. Old passion for hunt, or more accurately, the thrill that came with it, was building up in her slowly; guiding her soldiers was enthralling, too, but not like this. Stalking your prey had something primal to it, something nearly sacred. She ran in parallel with the building that was forbidden to her kind and emerged on the other side to catch a sight of Darien. "Gotcha!" From such proximity, Rowena looked like human so much it was eerie; relatively short stature, hair as black as licorice, light brown eyes... Nothing even remotely scary. "You should be thankful I'm bothering with you personally... But what wouldn't I do for my favorite criminal." Darien wasted little time in firing the gun; he was really no gentleman. Firearms could end her life very effectively, but Rowena didn't quite agree with that prospect. Infected? Me? I prefer the term "blessed", she thought as she dissolved in a pool of red liquid in front of Darien, evading the bullet. The liquid retained the sentience, for it slipped between his feet and Rowena assumed her normal form behind his back. She didn't hesitate to kick him from her position. The plan was simple; to play with him until the guys with narcotics arrive. "I'm so benevolent it hurts," she carried on with the previous conversation, acid dripping from her words.
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  6. The cold night air pressed against his skin as he ran away from the battlefield. Yes, running was what he has done since he started this mission. Did he ever get bored of it? No, not really since the pleasure of giving ghouls hard time somehow compensated the feeling of being a coward. His old mission ended tonight in the moment when he noticed vampires running in front of their hiding place. However, Darien assigned to himself a new mission, or purpose if you like. He had to deliver the information to their general, or die trying. Of course, death was the least he would want since all the data he has gathered through out the years would get lost and forgotten. Though, on the other hand, Darien would never betray those who fight for the right cause. The sense of loyalty became his motivation and right now, as he was running through the night, it gave him the push to move fast. The noise of the fight was no longer audible for him but he was sure that his opponents did suffer; even if it was a little bit, it was still something. But his little victory did not persist for too long as a voice cut through the air. Darien didn't have to turn his head to follow the voice as the source appeared right in front of him. Not too much to his surprise it was the short-haired woman. Under different circumstances he might have stopped to greet her but he was in a kind of hurry and instead of friendly hug, Darien shoot his gun twice at with the intention to get her out of his way so that he could carry on running. He thought that the bullets would shy her away, make her move out of their trajectory but she stood there a moment longer before she suddenly dissolved. Yes, it took him by surprise since he never witnessed this transformation up close; furthermore, when he was kicked from the back, Darien understood his primal mistake. He hasn't learnt from the previous encounter, she was a vampire and they never played fair.

    Stumbling only for a second, Darien came to a halt, swiftly turning around pointing his gun at Rowena and firing once, again. He will have to be careful with his ammunition because surely this woman didn't come alone and more vampires were on their way to join her. Also, he couldn't repeat the same trick with glass twice which limited Darien to almost no option as to how to get away, unless... no matter how complicated Darien thoughts were, it didn't take him more then few seconds to process everything through, and soon he devised a plan including the few possibilities that he had for his escape. As he was aiming at Rowena he fired twice this time, watching her very carefully as to which way she would move since the bullets were pretty much aiming at her body and in the second she would duck or shift Darien would use his manipulating skill, making the bullet follow her movement and hopefully if his reaction was fast enough, hit her.

    Not giving himself a second to see the outcome of his attempt, Darien was aware of the fact that old ghettos and places like this were full of dust. These particles were hard to control but he wouldn't need many, not for what he planed. Focusing more than when he was shattering the glass, he could feel the tension in his head. Such an amount of concentration will take it's toll on his energy once he'd be done, but he would still be able to run. Maybe not for too long or too far but he would still run. In a matter of another seconds, he had a cluster of dust as big as fist floating off their sight as Darien didn't want his enemy to know his next step. Directing the little storm of its own on Rowena's face, Darien didn't move an inch, his eyes focused on Rowena as if he was trying to guess her next move. Once the magic was released and the cluster of dust has been throw at the aim, there was a bigger drop in his concentration than he expected. It felt as if he soared ten feet into the ground. 'Shelter,' was his urgent thought springing into his mind almost as automatically as he was able to pull the trigger. Darien was glad that the chase was done in a town. Dashing to the nearest house, Darien wasn't as fast as before but not slow either. Due to the training he has undergone, Hekans were trained to push themselves to their limits at any time for any reason they find sufficient to such exhausting acting. Giving the fact that he might have distracted Rowena, he barged inside of yet another building after shattering the lock with another of his bullet. Four more left...

    The moment he stepped over the threshold, Darien allowed himself the luxury of feeling safe. It was time to carry out the rest of his plan. Not bothering to close the door behind himself, he looked at Rowena, sly smirk on his face as if mocking her, teasing her. "Come and visit me here sometime if you want, Rowena Finchley." Giving her the invitation to that little house that he took as a cover, Darien eliminated the possibility of other vampires joining her, which would eliminate the fight on just the two of them making it more possible to cope with Rowena on his own without any distraction. After being so kind as to invite a beast into his shelter, Darien took his leave, disappearing in the darkness of the entrance. Whether there was someone else in the house, Darien didn't know and he didn't bother to look around though, all he needed now was a good setting, good room with a lot of possibilities. A place where he could partially relax but still have the chance to win. The option has presented with a stale smell of neglect and oblivion. It was an old living room, not well kept but that didn't matter. What mattered was the amount of things in here that could serve as potential weapon to Darien. The couch, so alluring with its vague sense of comfort, was facing the door too which provided Darien with the opportunity to welcome his guest face to face rather than, face to back. Perfect, one would think, if there wasn't, probably, a pissed off vampire on your heels. Darien didn't mind that though, making vampires angry could be considered as his hobby, though he would never think that this hobby might once cause him so much trouble. Sitting down on the old piece of furniture which lost all its actual comfort long time ago, Darien looked at the door which was open as and dark as the door that leads to nothingness. Holding his gun firmly, Darien was ready for her.
  7. This scuffle, as inappropriate as it was for someone of Rowena's position, really brought back the lovely memories. Thick layer of time might have dulled the edges of her early military training training a little, but her body had never truly forgotten the joy of it and acted on its own. Some vampires believed in superiority of the five senses over anything else and trained them prevalently, taking their already heightened reflexes to truly horrifying levels. Rowena, who often mocked those individuals internally for their lack of original thought, obviously hadn't practiced this skill much... And despite that, she moved out of the bullet's course in a flash; the way she had performed the evasive action was distinctly inhuman, for it seemed highly unnatural to bend under such an angle. "Ah, I get the silent treatment now?" she complained about his commitment to quietness. It wasn't just her being needlessly snappy. Deep down, Rowena actually adored verbal fights with the fugitives, mainly because they were usually refreshing compared to sterile and artificial conversations between her kind. The fact she didn't have to think about every word and ponder over any other meanings hidden in carefully constructed sentences was also pleasant. To put it simply, she desired to vent her true quick-tempered attitude somewhere, even if it had to be with filthy Hekan.

    Another bullet whizzed through the night air, missing Rowena just by few millimeters; shame the same couldn't be said about the third bullet that followed in rapid succession. She saw the projectile change its trajectory, but it was too late to dodge it entirely. The most she could do was to shift slightly and avoid the impending damage of vital organs; the bullet delved into her right shoulder, making her wince in unexpected pain. Cool image the vampires had been oh so carefully cultivating, that of an indestructible monster with little care for physical agony, would have crumbled to dust for many people upon observing Rowena's reaction, since she didn't even try to fake scornful indifference. Shattered joints weren't on her "Things to Experience Before I Die" list. "Okay, do you want your eyes served with or without a celebrospinal fluid?" she asked in a husky voice. Yeah, she jumped to violent threats alarmingly quickly when angered, but she had never sought the help of a professional due to nature of her work. Darien, however, probably really aspired to cement his fate as a hunting trophy on the wall of Rowena's apartment; he got the brilliant idea that throwing dust at her would be an awesome, nontraditional way to gain her respect. Swarm of tiny particles attacked her sight with persistence of shady debt collectors; blinking furiously and coughing from the portion of dirt that had gotten into her lungs, Rowena promised to tear him limb from limb personally. She would turn his execution into a bloody spectacle; there were many interesting methods which could keep humans alive regardless of mind boggling pain consuming their whole body. Alive and conscious. For days. And do you know what was the cherry on top? These prodigious techniques had been almost exclusively designed by human torture experts. The delicious irony...

    Darien, being the coward he was, seized the opportunity to make his grand escape; when Rowena collected herself, he was gone. It didn't surprise her; running from those stronger than him, from mankind's natural predators gifted with better genetic material, was practically his occupation. Abandoned house became the leader's sanctuary, oasis of security in the middle of storm... At least until he miscalculated gravely and granted her the permission to enter. Cheeky grin gave away his overconfidence; he thought he was so clever with the finesse that cut off the reinforcements. So cunning. Heh. Pride will be your downfall, puny human. Underestimating your opponents basically amounted to begging for humiliating slaughter, especially if you didn't know anything about their skills. The man had witnessed just the faction of her power, and not the significant one. Dissolving into shadows or mist was so common it found its way into human folklore, otherwise rich in nonsense. Only the vampire would have been able to spot the anomaly in her form, to identify the so-called cursed craft. Sinister smile crossed her lips; she would show him why exactly she was appointed as a commander.

    Rowena headed to the building, her pace suddenly completely relaxed; this conflict was fought on two fronts. Psychology played a major part in any victory, so she took her sweet time. The vampire was looking forward to their meeting, yet she discarded the idea of using the main entrance immediately: too mainstream. Besides, did he really think she would simply barge in and let herself get killed in the most flamboyant spasm of stupidity imaginable? Darien had the advantage of choosing the surroundings; he would surely utilize them if given the chance. Rowena was walking around the house, wary of any bullets, and determining his position in the hovel according to many factors; the scent, the noise, cautious glimpse of his silhouette through the window... Yes, excellent. An uncomfortably wet sound echoed in the darkness; loud LRRRUUUP that would make anyone cringe. Rowena's entrails had decided it was boring inside and burst out of her stomach, yearning for attention. She moaned in torment - there was a reason she hated this ability with passion - but she navigated her animated intestines through the window flawlessly. They assaulted him vigorously like a serpent; the intention was to grab him, ideally by the neck, and toss him back outside. Her troops were already gathering there...
  8. Darien had no idea what was going on outside. Something at the back of his mind told him that Rowena will not enter the house through the door. No matter how lady-like she might seem on the outside, Darien knew that she was no lady of any kind. Not as far as he could see. So instead of focusing on what was actually going on around him, for which he could simply use his manipulation skill to feel vibrations in the earth, Darien tested his illusion skill instead. He was a mere beginner but the window was covered in a layer of dust so it could be a bit difficult to recognize whatever he was trying to do inside, therefore he held some hopes that his little trick will pass. His mental strength hasn't recovered yet when he started weaving his magic again, but there was no more spare time to wait for it to replenish. The moment he was done with his work, which from inside the room looked nothing like he intended, there was this strange sound from the other side of the window. It made the small hair on his neck stand up in simulated salute, but the coldness that ran down his spine was more of an arctic temperature. Then the window broke and something that Darien couldn't believe he was seeing, assaulted the illusion that he created. The thing that was sitting next to him on the couch was his shadow silhouette and as Darien hoped, Rowena, or more like her intestines, attacked it. Giving Darien a few second to jump of the couch and shoot at the slimy looking, completely not appealing attackers, for a second, he wished that Rowena would attack him herself, because this sight made his stomach turn upside down. Just how far were vampires willing to go to win? He managed to hold his lunch inside him.

    As he was off the couch and her intestines hit the illusion, it dispersed into nothingness. Illusions were not meant to do any harm, they were made and existed only to buy time for thinking, plotting, escaping and that's exactly how it has now served Darien. The broken glass from the window has once again proven to be useful. Rowena was in a disadvantage this time, he thought. Being static behind the window, with her insides roaming around the room, the broken glass presented itself as a very handful knife to slice of some dinner for the dogs. With a swift movement of his hand, few of the bigger piece shot up, aiming to cut the intestines from their host, but as he focused on that little movement, Darien didn't notice that one end of the gut was briskly moving his way. Suddenly, he felt warm, mucous but strong hold around his neck. 'Damn it,' he thought, grabbing the intestine in one hand and pressing the gunpoint against it's side, shooting again, hoping it would let go. He had two more shots left and not knowing if he would survive this strangling battle with Rowena's insides, Darien took his chance and aimed at Rowena herself, taking his time now to aim. The muzzle was gaping, ready to spit out a bullet with the destination at one of her vital organs. He shot just once confident with the way he directed his shot. At that point, because even he himself was static, not moving at all apart from his hand, several more intestines wrapped themselves around Darien. Dropping his gun, Darien recognized the fearful fact that he lost. He was trapped with no chances for escape. There was only one thing that he could do at this point. He had last option that could hurt Rowena but more likely kill Darien. But what was his life worth now when he basically failed?

    Never in his dreams as a boy, would Darien think that one day, he would become a Hekan, that he would be able to do magic. Never did he think that he would be charged with the mission to find the sacred book. For him it was a heroic mission no matter how he disgusted others for the fact of what he became in order to fulfill his goal. But even those dreams, as they came true in time, surpassed what Darien never thought that he would never have to do - fight a vampire and lose the fight. He didn't feel miserable and he didn't pity himself. He just hoped for different ending that he would now never be able to realize. Grabbing some of the intestines, Darien squeezed. More than trying to hurt the miry tentacles, Darien sought support in them as if to use their energy to support his last call for justice. His head hurt as his expression contracted in concentration. It felt as if his brain would implode, pushing his eyes out of his eye sockets. He worshiped what he has learnt, he taught others his techniques and now he would die by those too. What a great ending to a story that no one will never tell. Partially bearing his teeth, not feeling like a hero but like a simple human so powerless in the mercy of vampires, Darien's magic gushed out, almost instantaneously making everything inside the room explode into million sharp or dull pieces that were flying around uncontrollably which made them the more dangerous. Though, Darien couldn't witness that magnificent rain of shattered wood, glass, linen and spring from the couch, in his mind, for a fraction of a second, he felt satisfied but the moment he released all his energy into that single, last, desperate act of salvation, he collapsed, giving himself into the dark his body no longer able to sustain the overexertion.
  9. In case you ever wondered what it felt like to chase the crazed wizard across the room, using only your prolapsed entrails, imagine really wild roller coaster ride. Roller coaster ride stripped of all the giddy, laugh inducing sensations; those are substituted by nauseating taste left in your mouth. Indeed, vampires with weak stomach were pretty unfortunate; Rowena was fighting the urge to vomit. The knowledge of human psyche, however, brought some kind of half-assed consolation to her irritated gag reflex. Humans had had this tendency to fear and shrink from the utterly alien from the dawn of ages; Rowena could almost sense Darien's disgust... Disgust mixed with anxiety so typical for inferior minds. Okay, to be completely fair, Vicissitude and its more unnerving effects were somewhat of a touchy subject even amongst vampires themselves, but Rowena didn't preach counterproductive equality. She gathered every piece of control she could, suppressing the discordant reactions of her body, and attacked Damien ferociously... Or, as it quickly turned out, his illusion.

    Rowena cursed in a way absolutely improper for a young lady from good family; many vampire aristocrats would have been more repulsed by her vocabulary than the bloody cord sticking out from the hole in her abdomen. She reached even further to the source of power, feeling the growing tension in her head. Allowing that scoundrel to abscond again would have been the last nail to the coffin of her career; she was so damn close to finally capturing him! Rowena concentrated all her considerable mental energy on filling the room with healthy portion of slimy, nightmarish bowels. She could squeeze the oxygen out of his lungs with this newly formed limb, but her boss wouldn't have been too thrilled upon being denied to watch elimination of the biggest human threat of vampire community. Brutally executing the traitors was his greatest hobby. She clenched her teeth when yet another bullet pierced her, this time from inside. Millions of tiny metaphorical needles were stinging the affected area, creating the zone of unbearable pain. Be... fucking... gentle, she thought to herself. Inhale, exhale, count to ten, don't lose your balance. Rowena didn't back out, if only out of sheer, maniacal obsession to succeed. Sickness from the technique alone combined with ache caused by Darien's little lead gifts mixed together into extraordinary cocktail of suffering, but she stood her ground and wrapped the giant tentacle around his neck neatly. The fact that she managed to evade the bullet that came to greet her through the broken window was purely coincidental, as Rowena wasn't in a state to perform such a feats. Forcing the organs out of their natural place took its toll on her ability to perform gymnastics; she just twitched nervously in the right time.

    Once she had him safely in her grip, Rowena mustered enough physical power to lift him up in the air, but the wretched Hekan opted for equivalent of kamikaze attack instead of just submitting peacefully. Rowena's eyes widened in genuine surprise as the resulting shock wave, full of deadly fragments, gnawed at her bare guts. She had clearly misunderstood the fanaticism for his case; it transcended common human stupidity by miles. Heroic sacrifice was the cheesiest death ever. Besides, he tried to drag her into this mess, which she didn't find amusing in the slightest. Sure, perhaps she was strangely infatuated with danger, but there was a distinction between being an adrenaline junkie and suicidal idiot. The smartest thing to do would have been to release the sucker and retreat as fast as possible, yet Rowena stubbornly insisted on the original plan. With waterfall of unprintable profanities, she pulled Darien out of collapsing building, exhausting her last bits of strength. She fell to the ground, panting heavily. It was over.

    Sequential nights had been devoted mainly to healing the wounded; both Darien and Rowena had hit their bottom. Of course there had been vast differences in the quality of care - they had treated Rowena like royalty, which couldn't be said about Darien - but in the end, the pair had gotten better relatively fast. Vampire regeneration had helped a lot, while the Hekan's hellish training had played its part, too. Rowena's boss, Nathaniel Elliott, had already scheduled Darien's solemn execution; all the eminent vampires would be present to enjoy his miserable departure from life. They were hungry for this amazing display of cruelty, and only thing left to arrange was his transport. The commander who had imprisoned him, Rowena Finchley, had been set as his honored escort. Let's resume our story at the airport...​
    "I swear, Darien, you have the personality of a sack of potatoes. One would think you'd exhibit more gratitude for the person who saved your sorry ass... Just to kill you in a more humiliating fashion, but it's the thought that counts, right?" She flashed him a smile. Rowena looked even paler than usual and dark circles were embellishing her eyes - she wasn't completely fit yet - but her snarky attitude returned in all its disreputable glory. Calm aura of victory was radiating from her whole being as she led former leader of rebels to the private jet. There was no sense in trying to escape; vampire experts had placed a seal on Darien, locking his supernatural powers in the remote corner of his mind he couldn't reach. Master of Heka, ancient Egyptian magic, had his potential reduced to that of a mere human. Rowena felt an odd thorn of nostalgia despite overcoming the most troublesome obstacle on her way to salary increase. She was going to miss the heat of a feverish hunt, the uncertainty of weaving complicated traps; Darien was a splendid adversary. Oh well, she would light a candle for him or something. No biggie. "This way, my friend," she pointed towards stepladder to the jet. When the couple entered, obscene wealth breathed on the two; space which would have met living standards of one human family, seats from authentic fur... And tall vampire with ginger beard nestled in one of them. "Why hello, Miss Finchley." Not even a muscle moved in Rowena's face, but the atmosphere cooled instantly by several degrees. "Mister Dawson. What..." the hell are you doing in MY PLANE?! "do I owe the pleasure of seeing you?" The man simply grinned. "I have some work in the destination of this flight and our boss was kind enough to let me travel with you. Sit down, dear. Is this the famous Darien? Oh my, he seems... rather unremarkable for someone who gave you such a hell. Are you okay? They say he hurt you." Rowena made herself comfortable in the seat and shifted her gaze to Dawson; she resembled a cobra ready to strike anytime. "I guess my skills are a bit rusty. And our guest right here - well, he isn't the most desirable fish in the pond. That's why you LET me to catch him, obviously. How generous of you." She smiled at her colleague, revealing a row of white teeth. The mention of his own shortcomings promptly made him shut up; Rowena knew how to scar his enormous ego.​
    The motors started growing loudly and after a few seconds, the jet took off. The view from above was magnificent; hundreds of city lights below, dark clouds, wrinkled moon and star dotted, infinite sky. Rowena sipped from the glass of red liquid which probably didn't contain strawberry juice. She was silent; very uncharacteristic act from her side. "You know what, Dawson? Cut out the foreplay and state the damn reason why you're here. I don't remember being employed as a cabbie," she exploded unexpectedly, all playfulness gone from her tone. "I wondered when you would ask. Fine then, I shall be sincere with you. The boss realized you're nothing but ticking bomb waiting to go off; something I have known for ages. Now that you have outlived your usefulness, he sent me to throw away the garbage." His words were resonating in Rowena's ears as if he screamed at her. Her entire world shook itself; she instinctively knew the truth, but it was still so outlandish. She was on her feet at once; shocked or not, Rowena had the reflexes of warrior and self-preservation was particularly strong within her. "Behave yourself, young lady," Dawson uttered and slashed her down to the floor with ease. "When we were sealing mister Darien, we did the same to you. Lovely, isn't it?" She was just staring in disbelief at him now, horrible helplessness washing over her. Why? Why would they do this? He touched his pocket, pulling out thoroughly concealed silver knife. "You're lucky I hate slaying women... I will give you the means to quit with illusion of dignity. Do it yourself." The knife landed next to her, making a metallic sound. All those years of faithful service... And for what? For whom? Rowena picked up the weapon, careful not to touch its edge. Her mind went numb... No, FOCUS! She had always been the one to come up with new solutions; she had fought with invincible virtual enemies back at the university and had beaten them by smashing the computer. She had outwitted Darien, for fuck's sake! Her story couldn't have ended so pathetically. Wait... Darien. The idea was insane, but it was not like she could choose from myriad of other possibilities. Rowena raised the knife decisively and slit her right wrist; well, she carved a shallow wound into it. Meat on her arm sizzled balefully, aggravated by silver's malignant influence. She didn't care; instead of whining, she passed the knife to her prisoner. "Wanna live? Help me and I'll repay you with interest."
    #9 Aine, May 14, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2013
  10. The traditional 'Am I in Heaven?' flashed through Darien's mind as he slowly gained consciousness several hours after the final blow. Despite the fact that Darien was not religious, there was something tranquil about the thought. However as he opened his eyes and through his blurred vision noticed a very pale individual being hunched over him, something just did not feel right. The whole body pain was too real as was the dullness in his mind and he was thirsty. "He's awake," stated the stranger in a tone that would freeze the blood in anyone's veins and the reality crashed into Darien's consciousness with a mercy of a tank. He failed. He was alive and this creature above him was indeed a vampire. Initial emotional reaction was confusion, shame, depression but all that underlined with awaking anger. At the end, it was the last sentiment that made him call on his magical powers to free himself and escape yet again no matter his actual weak state. But nothing happened. Darien tried to use his manipulation one more time, to push the vampire away, but nothing would happen. The usual tension in his head just wouldn't come. "You're sealed, Hekan," said the vampire spitting out each word as if it was a joyful venom that was meant to hurt Darien. Well, it didn't hurt him in particular but it made him desperate which was something. Not long after that, the vampire finished attending to Darien's wounds, which was rather uncomfortable and few times even more painful than when he received the injury, but at one point, he was left alone.

    The next couple hours, or maybe days it was hard to tell, Darien spent mostly sleeping to regain his physical strength, apart from the regular occurrences when he was given food. It was unusual to suddenly not have his powers. He felt human somehow. Relying just on his by nature given senses, Darien felt almost vulnerable. During those few visits when he received new meal, he wouldn't talk to anyone and no one would talk to him. The food he would be given varied most of the times from consistence, appearance and even temperature but as long as it kept him alive, Darien would not complain. No, he wouldn't waste his energy on that when he could loath the vampires and his inability to make a change while swallowing another portion of the mushy slush. He did loath Rowena as well but he never spend too much time thinking about her well-being. Sure if she survived she was now treated as a hero by her own kind and surely she did deserve it in a way, but that was way beyond Darien's ability of admission. No one had to tell the Hekan, however, what would happen to him next. He could guess it just from how much trouble he has given Rowena and from the way he was treated now. If they would want to use him again, they would already brain wash him and make a mindless puppet out of him. But no, instead they kept him in a prison, making him wait for the punishment. Sometimes, he wished that the vampires were not such eccentric and exhibitionist bastards as they were, it would safe him his pride and composure. But then, they probably liked to break their enemies mentally, make fool of them in front of their own kind before killing them. Sure, these creatures have long lost their sense of humanity and transformed themselves into cruel killers.

    Then, at one point, they came for him, not even bothering to put chains on him as without his powers he was as weak as a human and therefore they did not have to fear him. Darien did not resist as he was laughed at and pushed through the corridors. Then Rowena came into his view. She didn't look that good herself but that didn't matter to Darien, what mattered was that she was still alive. Of course, he wasn't glad for that as he would enjoy her dead much more. Just her presence only asserted the fact that Darien failed. The shame and depression was long gone now, but it left behind anger. Darien was angry at himself and her for being so hard to kill. However, despite her tired look, she lived up to her image of a woman always having a biting comment on her lips. But Darien ignored whatever she said, looking ahead of himself, his face unintelligible. There was no point in communicating with someone who wasn't human. Not that Darien considered vampires that low, disgusting possibly, but not low, he and Rowena had as little in common as cat and dog. So what was the point in communication again? In silence they approached the jet which silently sat on the runway.

    Stepping into the machine, Darien was subjected to a luxury that he has never seen before. The fur was somehow extravagant and unnecessary in his humble opinion, but at least they let him travel in style to his own execution. The primal surprise didn't show on his face apart from a lifted eyebrow as if he was doubting that this was necessary. Noticing the other man in the cabin, Darien paid him as little attention as a acknowledging eye connection and the vampire paid him the same amount of regard. It was fine and clear. Picking the far seat from the two of them, Darien looked out of the window because, why would he associate himself with those beasts more than he had to? At the edge of his alertness, Darien heard what the two of them were talking about. Maybe he saw it coming sooner than Rowena, maybe he didn't, but when she was suddenly on the floor, Darien couldn't help it but a sign of surprise crept into his expression. True, there was the tickling sensation of enjoyment seeing the woman on the floor obviously confused. Suddenly a shine of silver decorated the cabin as a knife made of that materiel landed next to the vampire woman. Kill herself? Why do I have the feeling that you don't have the guts for it? Darien asked himself in regards to the man, but didn't involve himself in any other action than passive observation. It was interesting to watch two vampires squabble and Darien wished to see more of that fight if Rowena hasn't take the knife and cut herself, suddenly shifting her attention to him. It took Darien just a click of a finger to know what she wanted. The known blood contract between vampire and a Hekan that allowed vampires to access one of their powers that without this would stay locked somewhere in the hell of their mind. Darien looked at her, the recognition clearly showing in his eyes but accompanied with doubt and distrust. But was he left with something else? Even if he couldn't trust her, she had to get out of this if she wanted to live. Well, for the time being... Grabbing the knife and cutting his palm, Darien stood up abruptly, taking a hold of Rowena's wrist to mix their blood as he pulled her close harshly to hiss in her ear: "I don't trust you, liar. But you seem to be as screwed as I am." His voice was somewhat smug but he just couldn't help it.

    The whole contract deal didn't take longer than couple minutes and the second that Rowena's and his blood mixed thousands of little needles ran down his body and caused him to have goosebumps. Something at the back of his mind broke and released the refreshing energy that even made his eyes glow secondarily. His magic came back and it was almost an ecstatic feeling. Pushing Rowena away from him as if her presence so close to his body was something he ultimately despised, Darien sent the silver knife flying at the vampire male's forehead. The power with which he sent the little object was greater and faster than he expected, but then he felt like a hungry beast let out of his cage at that moment. No, not so over-confident and proud, more aware and expecting. Close combat option was out of question for Darien as that would be a suicide and he didn't want to take part in that. So he left that option to Rowena, who had better chances in defeating her own kind on fist to fist fight. As the silver sparkled in the cabin again the Hekan has decided to make a controlled missile out of it. It was easier focusing and manipulating such a small object. He would lead the knife around the place, as long as it would take, to hit the vampire in some vital organ...unless he succeeded with the first try since the gush of energy he put into that move was great and the knife should have moved swiftly, brisker than any human would have ever been able to throw it.
  11. For few achingly long seconds that reliably validated Einstein's theory of relativity once again, Rowena seriously thought the Hekan would turn her offer down. Humans in general were feeble creatures unable to surmount old grudges for greater good, always foolishly clinging to irrelevant animosity... And their dispute wasn't exactly in the forgiving phase where both parties resolve the misunderstanding, hug and erase the hard feelings. Coldly calculated genocide of people who had likely been his only family, beating him to bloody pulp and seasoning whole ordeal with being as vicious as possible in the process; check, check and check, all the elements of eternal hatred were there. A drowning man clutches at a straw, however, so Rowena just went and entrusted the unpredictable individual with her bare life. Well, she had done stupider things before. Okay, not really. This escapade literally re-defined the meaning of word "stupid," upgrading it to new version with less bugs.

    The crazy hope was wearing off as her optimistic side gave up its short-lived reign, but then Darien, chivalrous as ever, pulled her up to sign the contract with devil. "Ideal basis for cooperation," she smiled deviously as if the outcome of that hazardous gambit was predetermined from the very beginning; he didn't have to know about the weakness at her knees and very real tremor from being exposed to checkmate so sudden she had no time to analyze her opponent's moves, much less counterattack. Her status of respected commander, intricately conquered high spot on social ladder, decent place to call home, even the rare ties between few chosen ones - all burnt to ashes thanks to enlightened decision of a single man. A clean cut. Facade of uncompromising composure was the only thing left to her, and she didn't plan to spoil it by showing frailty of spirit. Never in her lifetime. Hekan's blood, rich in vile combinations of different smells so foreign to vampire's nose, mingled with hers; a noticeable electric spark ran through Rowena's body. The substance ate through unseen barriers in depths of her mind like an especially vitriolic acid, liberating the power slumbering inside with urgency of tempest. She was practically drunk with all the force returning at once; Darien's rude shove actually helped her disperse the magical mist in her head. The euphoria from getting back what was rightfully hers smoothly transformed into much more tranquil emotion: hunter's thrill. She knew this game's rules by heart. Dawson, that traitorous rat, seemed to be kinda dumbstruck by current chain of bizarre events, but the vampiric instincts still prevailed; he altered his position to obviate the silver messenger of death. "Do you have the brain capacity to realize what have you done, you blasphemous-" "Killed one revolting little worm." Rowena, still charged with excess energy, whispered something inaudible and sharp bone ripped the skin on her wrist, bringing out yet another extremely nasty sound from her varied arsenal. The bone grew rapidly; it missed Dawson's vital organs, but penetrated the area near to his collarbone, making him howl. "There, there. I believe stationary targets are substandard even for humans." Rowena just held the enemy in place, ensuring that the knife would end up stuck in his forehead... And not in hers, for example.

    Darien had agreed to her proposal, but she had no silly illusions concerning the love that bloomed between them. This alliance was a double-edged sword and Rowena stood by the opinion that paranoia was a beneficial guide, not a restriction. He could very well turn against her the moment Dawson bites the dust; hell, her own kind thrust a dagger in her back readily for no reason. How could she NOT have some trust issues? Rowena watched Dawson's trip to his ancestors without hint of remorse for the fallen colleague; the knife itself attracted woman's attention a lot more. Her mildly unorthodox weapon slipped back to its sheath made of living flesh, but she never let her guard down; it was apparent from her poise, poise of someone who expected sneaky attack and didn't intend to be taken aback by surprise. "Well, so much for my beloved Dawson. May he rot in the deepest pits of hell. He probably has a reservation note waiting for him." Certain part of her that she had always hated with fiery passion wished nothing but to crack up, yet her military training didn't permit that. There were still measures to take, things to organize. As long as she had something to do, she didn't have to think about dire consequences of her actions.

    Rowena dropped deceased's body on the floor carelessly and headed to cockpit to explain the pilots benefits of being obedient, but she only found two lifeless corpses. She cursed aloud; inspecting them closely for the cause of death would have been senseless, so Rowena snatched a backpack with parachute from the shelf instead. Situation begged for strategical retreat; dying on board of crashing plane really didn't seem all that tempting to her. Prompt thought to wave goodbye to Darien crossed her mind, but it didn't last long. She had already defiled the principles that had been so dutifully instilled into her education; she might as well go all out. Moreover, he could damage her parachute if she tried to cheat him, so that was out of question. Rowena smirked at Darien, swinging the backpack in her left hand. "I'm sorry to inform you that my diplomatic skills failed, mainly because everyone's dead. Unless you know how to pilot the plane, which I assume you don't, wear this." She handed him the harness - tangled black ball of straps - and she started to work on her own chute. "Or you can die here. Wouldn't dare to deprive you of the freedom of choice," she smiled amiably.
  12. The first time he threw the knife was a miss but somehow that didn't surprise him. As the weapon was in such a high speed it took Darien couple seconds to slow it down and make it come back. In those few seconds, what he witnessed nearly brought him to full-fledged consternation. Whatever has Rowena done to herself was beyond comprehension at that moment and as the elongated bone pierced Dawson, Darien watched, horrified yet somehow taken with the sight. She didn't hesitate to kill her own as if it was something she did on regular basis. Was she really so spineless, no scruples at all? Possibly yes. After all, she was a vampire. But then weren't all of her kind the same? Thanks to the Hekan training that Darien received when he was taken in by the vampires, Darien restrained himself from twisting his face into a grimace of horror and disgust. In the time when he was observing the strange effects of Vicissitude, the knife got momentarily out of control, not aiming at Dawson's but at Rowena's forehead suddenly. Just as it was about to sink into the flesh of the vampire woman, Darien changed its trajectory, leaving behind only a cut on her cheek that was accompanied with significant sizzling. Who knows whether this action was truly done just because of lack of attention or on purpose to remind the Rowena that she shouldn't trust him entirely and that indeed he shouldn't be played with. Either way, his expression did show any other emotion but concentration as he navigated the blade to sink into the skull of their mutual opponent. The effect was immediate as the lifeless body dropped on the cabin floor, eyes still wide open in something that resembled astonishment as if death was the last thing that the man expected to meet during this flight.

    The moment Rowena disappeared into the cockpit doing whatever she had to do, Darien knelt down next to the body trying to find something useful. Apart from some money that he put in his pocket, there was no weapon. Well, none except the knife which Darien seized again without hesitation managing to find its sheath too in the fold of the man's clothes. He hid it under his shirt before Rowena returned. She would probably notice the difference about the dead body if she paid it any attention but it was still better if Darien got the advantage of being more armed than his counterpart.

    "Somehow you always manage to fail in diplomacy," Darien uttered as he took the harnesses. A parachute? To be honest, he has only heard about those before but never underwent the training to actually learn how to fly one. Do you even fly a parachute? Frowning, Darien's throat tightened. What was about to come was something he hated to do but in order to get out of this alive, he had to momentarily overcome his pride and ego. Sacrifices had to be paid from time to time. He looked at Rowena, obviously battling with himself to say something that started to be pretty much obvious. The muscles around his jaw flexed as he clenched his teeth and then released them. "I wasn't trained to use this," it came out as a choked, unwilling admission. He let Rowena to explain to him the principles of tandem parachute and it was something he disliked even more. Yet again, in this situation when the plane shook every now and then making it hard to stand still and the idea of hard ground getting closer and closer every second...Darien wasn't left with much choice. He strapped himself into the harnesses feeling the body weight on his back.

    The sense of looking ridiculous with Rowena dangling from his back, since he was somewhat taller, he carefully went to the door, trying not to fall as the plane went into another turbulence. Though it was hard not to notice the irony of this situation as he was standing in an uncontrollable plane that would soon turn into a big mushroom bang, with a vampire strapped to his back, relying on that vampire that was trying to kill him the first time they met as he would jump out to save his life. Forcing the door open with the help of manipulation because as a human he wouldn't be able to get over the pressure force from the outside, a sudden gust of wind filled the inside of a plane nearly knocking the air out of Darien's lungs. "Shit," he muttered but the din drowned out his own voice. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. He kept on repeating as he stared outside at the ground that was slowly getting closer. As every person who was about to jump for the first time, Darien felt somehow nervous. No one could blame him really. This was unexpected and he didn't have much time in advance to get mentally ready. With reassuring nod to himself, knowing that there was not much time left, Darien thought how insane he must be to put his life into hand of a vampire traitor, but he jumped anyway.

    For a second, his only thought was that he was going to die. Feeling nothing under himself was so alien to him that he nearly wanted to reach back as if to grab the rim of the door to gain some confidence again. But he stopped himself before he could do as much as twitch. It was enough that he had to admit his lack of knowledge about parachute jumps. He was sure that Rowena would pick on it again once she had the chance. Somehow, Darien could safely guess that it was part of her personality and so reaching back like a scared child would only give her more reasons to laugh at him. As he was free falling, not having to care about the parachute, Darien's eyes could take in the actual beauty of it all. The sky the was so endless and full of stars that were not disturbed by the lights of the city. The crescent of the moon that looked bigger but still so cold and distant. The whole space was in their disposal. Sudden lifting emotion filled Darien's chest as he fell in love with what he saw, not noticing that Rowena was already pulling the straps and navigating them to the ground, he forgot about his mission and any responsibilities at that moment. Until she shouted in his ear which yanked him out of his rhapsodic state. They were suddenly too close to the ground and Darien's body acted on its own, slightly bending the knees and flexing his heels so that when they would finally land, his legs would work as some kind of spring to temper the impact.

    As they landed, the cloth of the parachute buried them under itself. Darien unstrapped himself with the deftness of professional even though he wasn't one. Let's say that instead of his mental memory, he used his muscle memory which sometimes worked better. As he got out of the harnesses he swiftly found his way out from under the collapsed parachute. he knew it would be somehow safer to be in the open rather than under the cloth in disposal of that vampire woman whom he still didn't trust at all. Once he was free of the limits of the parachute, he took in a deep breath and averted his gaze back to the heap behind him waiting for Rowena to get from under there while moving his hand behind his back, ready to use to knife at any point, shall Rowena try to attack him. One could never be too careful around spineless ghouls.
  13. Rowena's agile fingers handled fastening the buttons easily, working with impressive speed that could only be acquired by experience. All those ropes and belts were already familiar to her, so she didn't really need to pay attention anymore. As for Darien, well, that was quite a different story. Confusion mirrored in his stance alone; Rowena had seen that stiff, somehow wary pose many times, most often in new recruits who knew nothing about what they had gotten themselves into. Embodiment of restrained panic. Sharks could sense even a drop of blood in their waters; Rowena was renowned - and almost universally despised - for being able to detect fear in a similar manner. Oh yes, she was going to enjoy this. Fake innocence softened her features as she tilted her head aside. "Something I can help you with?" Every word dragged out like honey, sticky fluid that could very well suffocate him with imitated kindness. Darien's confession along with striking display of wounded ego placed a smug grin on her lips. "I thought these things were foolproof. Alas, another bitter disappointment in human race! Fine, I guess I'll take you under my wing. Ever heard of tandem parachute? You strap yourself to me - here, here and here - jump out and pray that I don't pass out due to high air pressure. Oh, and the parachute may not be designed to carry two people, so don't be too surprised if we kiss the ground rougher than intended." One fact was certain; nobody could accuse Rowena for sugarcoating the unpleasant truths.

    She let him see to the harness, and as much as she hated hanging from Darien's back like a rag doll, her personal mission to destroy the remainders of his sanity compensated for the indignity. Plane's engine coughed and made a noise that couldn't signalize anything positive; floor under Rowena's feet was shaking violently. Former leader of rebels somehow got the door open, but the breathtaking sight seemed to catch him off guard. "Just. Fucking. JUMP!" screamed Rowena, using full capacity of her lungs to shout down the howling wind, yet her efforts were laughable in comparison with indomitable force of nature. Darien probably obeyed voice of logic when he finally leaped out of the doomed jet... Nothingness enveloped her body instantly and inconceivably strong wind currents pressed her skin so tightly to the bone it felt like her skull was going to snap in two. It had a curious effect on Rowena; all that pent up stress she harbored in her chest erupted in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. She giggled until the tears got in her eyes, tears that were immediately dried out without a trace. It occurred to her that free fall was actually a precise analogy to crazy affairs that had turned her life upside down. Common sense coerced Rowena's exhilaration into compliance; she reached for the straps, providing their flight at least a little bit of stability and direction. "Prepare for the landing!" hollered Rowena at Darien, her voice free of usual sarcastic undertone. She spoke like she used to communicate with her subordinates; in firm, plain orders that were simple to understand. A force of habit, unconscious impulse, yet she caught herself in the act and the knowledge that she burnt bridges to the past hit her like well aimed slap again.

    Few moments later, they encountered with Mother Earth's loving embrace again. The cloth hindered Rowena's vision, though she didn't need sight to register hasty movement underneath her as Darien hurried to escape from zone too intimate for his liking. It lifted her mood slightly; human, long-standing craven prey, was still afraid of a beast lurking in the night. Good. She untangled herself from the delicate textile prison, slowly and calmly, only to start folding the parachute thoroughly. The weight of reality fell on her shoulders with subtlety of hammer; taking care of equipment was just another way to occupy the errant mind. Once she crammed the chute to its container - the backpack - she sat on it casually, not even trying to pretend she wasn't staring at Darien shamelessly. The moon painted strange shadows on her face and the blackness of the uniform whose legacy she had betrayed shined brightly on white sand. Rowena could go into hiding; nobody would recognize the fugitive with Vicissitude at her side. On the other hand, did she really want to spend the rest of her days as anonymous wretch in a crowd, thinking about what could have been if she had decided to confront her problems? No, no, no. Running wasn't an acceptable answer. And spiraling down to the well of madness... Well, they did classify me as a psycho; it would hurt me greatly to fail their expectations.

    "Say, Snow White, are you still so blindly devoted to fight your meaningless quarrel for race who has forsaken you? What lengths are you willing to go to for... Book of Thoth? Awfully old, kinda famous, most likely moth-eaten, full of legendary power..." Mockery reeked from her sentences, and yet this was getting dangerously close to polite conversation. At least for Rowena's usual, Hekan-nonfriendly norms... Of course, she wouldn't hesitate to attack him at first sign of suspicious activity; that was, by the way, her modus operandi for any interactions with living beings. Abrupt surge of freeze made her shiver; desert could be a cold mistress at night.
  14. The cold night air brushed against his skin, making him shiver slightly. Lord knows whether it was entirely for the gelid temperature or for the fact that Darien has just cooperated with a vampire. He wasn't in a much as an awe as he was stunned and somewhat annoyed that the situation made him go to such extremes. For the survival, he reassured himself because under different circumstances he would never do and he hoped there would not be any other situation that would demand such desperate actions. As Rowena was packing the parachute, Darien never lowered his guard down when he looked around, seeing miles and miles of sand. Really, they couldn't pick any better place to land than here, middle of nowhere. Considering that he had no clue where they were or which way they were flying just couple minutes ago, Darien had to admit that he might need Rowena's help to get out of here. There was no disgust against that thought, just pure grumpiness and dislike towards this unnecessary need. But after that, the Hekan reassured himself he would not need her again. Moreover, she was more likely to become target of her own society now since she killed one of her own and that would bring too much attention to him and made it impossible to find the Book of Thoth. Yes, the book that he swore to find and he would carry on in doing so, no matter the fact that he would be alone.

    As Rowena sat on the backpack, starring at Darien without any second thought and so he starred back. It could almost be considered a starring contest but Darien didn't find it as joyful as he used to when he was a kid. At that moment, he got a chance to look at Rowena properly, more closely than before. She wasn't something unusual. Pretty, yes, but all vampire females were pretty. Though, there was something about her that irritated Darien. Something about he posture and expression. Rowena seemed to be so full of herself, so over-confident when she was sentenced to death herself just some minutes ago. It was as if nothing could break through that seeming wall of ego centrism to hurt or even just give a glimpse of the real Rowena. Not that Darien was interested at all at seeing the real Rowena, but he could guess that the mask she put on wasn't her real self. You'll need to bear with her, Darien, if you want to get out of here and then you can give her your greatest vale and disappear forever. Thinking supportively, the next thing Rowena said didn't come as much of a surprise. In terms of usual derision that permeate her every word, Darien was somehow starting to get used to that. In terms of the content, Darien got the feeling that Rowena wasn't used to speak straight forwardly and so he wasn't willing to give an answer in the same manner.

    "Are you suggesting something?" He asked neutrally with only a slight hint of suspicion, after giving himself couple seconds to think about what she has said. Well, he could afford it since there was no one else around who would disturb them. However, behind the suspicion, Darien was intrigued. If what he was thinking was right and Rowena was suggesting something that was utterly against his believe and a decision he has made earlier, it could as well be a historical moment nonetheless. Shame, there was no one to record it.
  15. All factors indicated that Rowena should have been bewildered, revolted and upset about her own actions; there was no known precedent for vampire offering a helping hand to human not once, not twice, but three times in total. And no, classical inspirational comments such as "I'll free you out of your misery" uttered before gleefully slaughtering the human in question, ideally in front of his horrified family, didn't count. Sure, emotions of self-doubt were definitely present, lingering somewhere behind carefully crafted wall of stoicism, but they were in minority. She was used to working with whatever resources available to reach her goals, even if it meant contradicting the usual vampire conventions. Demeaning herself by teaming up with Darien, member of a social class so low he basically needed to walk through the sewers to avoid rotten tomatoes from his human colleagues, didn't shatter her world. What dominated in her right now was, perhaps astonishingly, mild frustration at aforementioned Hekan's lack of appropriate reactions.

    They were lost in a barren moonscape where nobody could survive without decent amount of both skill and luck; two seemingly implacable foes from the opposite ends of spectrum who had previously collided in a clear attempt to kill each other. Not really the best start of moving friendship. She had crossed the notional line and held out the olive branch with more long-term cooperation in mind; unthinkable concept. And what did the white-haired man do? Pretty much nothing, aside from asking one super obvious question, using as little words as humanly possible. "No," remarked Rowena, visibly annoyed. Darien's short responses bothered her for reasons she couldn't logically fathom; maybe it was because people generally didn't have enough discipline to ignore her antics. They detested her, found her intolerable, repressed their urges to strangle her to death - but never overlooked her. "I'm just thinking out loud and putting together your psychological profile. Publishing a scientific study on mentality of the Hekans has always been my dream." She wanted to continue with verbal backlash, but then she remembered that this potential alliance could make a difference between winning and losing; in a tricky game where loss equaled death, this meant a lot. She sighed heavily. "Though my musings may contain some underlying message, depending on your point of view. You could waste years stumbling around the globe, following fake leads... Years you might not have. Or you could make a pact with kind soul willing to help. Me." Calling herself "kind" was an auspicious candidate on the greatest lie she had ever told, but Rowena didn't even blush.

    She stood up from her improvised chair with feline grace and reduced the distance between them; something about her motions suggested she didn't plan to attack him, yet she managed to look threatening. Serenity could be just as spooky as murderous rage when employed correctly; Rowena was well aware of it. "How about we bury the hatchet and join forces? Until the Book is discovered, of course. After that, we will engage in a long, bloody and bestial battle over its ownership," she smirked. Darien had witnessed how easy it was for Rowena to tamper with truth, to twist it to unrecognizable extents, but this sounded like a promise she was sincerely eager to keep. "Deal?" she stretched out her slender hand in anticipation of handshake. Alea iacta est.
  16. Why wasn't her remark making him upset? Oh wait. Her humor was getting stale. It did leave a slight trace of discontent but the degree wasn't as high as before. Well, similar type of irony all over again, similar expression, and even her voice didn't change. Darien got the feeling that he could make it through with her being so unpleasant to be around. He could cope with that one hell of a woman as long as it was necessary to survive. As she spoke something broke inside Darien. So she was suggesting more of a long term cooperation rather than just short alliance to get both of them out of this mess. It wasn't like worst dream coming true. After all, Darien didn't have much choice left. He saw the advantages of this alliance. She was a vampire, physically more advanced so she would be a great shield and hunter. Somehow an extension to his own powers and with that new power of hers, it was like a surprise package for anyone who would not be expecting it. Also, humans would respect, or more like fear, her for sure. They'd do her bidding more willing than Darien's as they usually just, sometimes literally, spat on him, unless he pulled some tricks. He didn't like working on fear but in these days there wasn't anything else left. Humans were terrified. Anyway, there were some disadvantages too. Rowena twisted the truth like you would twist a neck of a new born chick. It made her personality to seem like one big mystery. Yes, Darien wasn't sure what to expect from her and that was probably something that she wanted, no matter how much he might dislike it. Though, Darien could sense a pattern beneath the mask as if he was blind sensing the surface of an unknown object, discovering new turns and corners. Either way, trust was a luxury he couldn't afford in that moment and as the cold wind pressed against him again, Darien extended pale hand that almost shone in the moon light.

    Another deal was sealed and Darien just hoped how further will this go if he carries on. "You better not get so confident about yourself. You are just an advantage. I have gotten quite far even without you," he said with a cold, sharp tone. There was no venom nor hostility in his words just plain truth as he saw it. Darien got far in finding the Book without help of any vampire and all the information that Darien accumulated through out the year was safely stored in his mind. Rowena's boasting, then, was childish in the least. Her way of thinking that she would be crucial or anyhow important in the success of the mission was indeed puerile in Darien's eyes. However, he didn't find it amusing but dangerous. Over-confidence always led to accidents. As he let og of her hand, his could feel the slow, stinging pain that he couldn't identify at first but in fraction of a second he knew the reason. The cut, which he willingly forced upon himself when sealing the first contract of the doom, on his palm opened up. The crust that formed on it probably during the flight, warmed up and as he bent the muscles underneath the skin it caused the protective film to rip. Darien frowned slightly, not because of the pain as it wasn't something to be frowning about.

    Looking at his hand, the dark line of mixed dried and fresh blood was clearly illuminated in the sunlight. They were in a dessert if he would get some grains of sand into the wound it might get swollen and infected and infection was the last thing he needed. "I doubt you have some first aid kit in that back pack." Doubt was audible in his voice as he lightly jerked his head towards their only luggage. Though, he didn't know what could be hidden in the depths of the chute rucksack since it was his first time encountering it. Then one and one added into two and he cautiously looked at Rowena. She was a vampire and he was bleeding. "Drinking from Hekans is forbidden but I suspect that you wouldn't care to break another rule. Well, you better keep your distance anyway because as long as I have the silver knife, you better not get any closer to me than that," he said clearly regarding the blood as well as indicating that the space between them will be the closest she'd ever get to him. "Not that I would want you to get any closer anyway," he murmured, somewhat grumpily as he walked around Rowena towards the backpack, being aware that his new partner might as well heard the comment. "So, you know this thing. Anything I could use as a provisional bandage?"
  17. Rowena shook his hand; her grip was resolute and far more powerful than you would have expected from normal woman of her size, but Darien's fingers survived the contact without any harm. Big improvement considering their first loving interactions, yet there was absolutely no trace of tenderness; the whole scene seemed cold and devoid of feelings. Simple confirmation of a business contract, nothing exceedingly personal. Rowena, however, found herself oddly at peace; aside from being betrayed by her own employers and stuck in endless sea of sand, everything went relatively well. Working with someone with crystal clear agenda was a gust of fresh wind for her, even if that agenda consisted of acquiring a legendary artifact, causing a putsch in government infrastructure and possibly crucifying her. Boy can dream big. Who was she to destroy his loony ambitions when it served her purposes? Darien was readable like an open book in that regard... And somehow, based only on her intuition, she truly believed he was more reliable than her former coworkers. Of course, average vampire was about as trustworthy as starving alligator in a pool of newly hatched ducklings; not very compelling argument to shower Darien with extreme trust.

    "Awww. Just an advantage? How cruel of you. Please, look away, for I can't allow you to see my tears." Rowena covered her face dramatically in attempt to hide the fictional sorrow, amusement inscribed in her voice. Was he really so insecure about this alliance he needed to establish boundaries that were already painfully palpable? So sad. Rowena studied his stern features quietly, looking for those small signs of emotional unbalance she loved to feast upon mercilessly, but found nothing. It occurred to her the way he was speaking reminded her of old mentors at the university scolding sloppy undergraduates; uppish tone of someone who was unswervingly convinced about their truth. "Quite far, you say? Should I dare to hope you've learned how to spell its name?" Rowena had flirted with investigation of Book of Thoth before; even though she had been a bit of greenhorn back then and the search itself had earned her more than a slap on the wrist, she couldn't accept such an outrageous claim that mere human had gotten farther than her. "Well, maybe..." She trailed off all at once when mysterious fragrance attacked her nostrils; luscious metallic aroma of blood, but engulfed in heavy layer of unidentified odor that confused her... And disgusted her thoroughly. When he bled for the first time in the plane, she hadn't noticed how obtrusive the smell had been because she had concentrated on, you know, murdering her treacherous nemesis, but it was unmissable right now.

    Rowena sneered at Darien's fears of being eaten; sure, time-tested traditions dictated she had to rip his throat at first opportunity, but he was a freaking Hekan, which overshadowed his humanity. "I hate to break it to you, Darien, but YOUR blood in particular isn't the most desirable dish on every vampire's dream menu. In fact, it's the absolute bottom; even I haven't sunk so low yet as to drink the blood of Hekan. I'd like to preserve my taste buds, thank you," she answered truthfully and wrinkled her nose in disdain. "Oh god, are you rotting inside?" The smell was unbearably overwhelming; she felt like she had been hit over head with a mace repeatedly. The backpack contained nothing but the parachute, yet something had to be done about the stench; it made her dizzy. Unlike many vampire politicians, Rowena treasured her brain's ability to think and Darien's blood was slowly blurring the complicated thought patterns. She plucked her sleeve with one assertive, fluent move and grinned at him. That smile alone could pierce through solid concrete. Rowena sensed his uncertainty underneath thickly veiled bravado; he was hesitant to get close to vampire with open wound. Naturally, this only manipulated her into doing so; she wasn't the kind of girl who would let slide occasion to pick on weaker minds. "I will treat your injuries. We are partners now, remember? Keeping me in check with cheap threats is counterproductive, so stop being such a kid." She grasped his hand again and turned it around to get a good look on corporeal proof of their bond; jagged edges of tragically unprofessional cut revealed to her it would probably leave a scar. Rowena's touch was unexpectedly gentle, although for pragmatic reasons; last thing she needed was MORE of that polluted blood coming out. The sleeve substituted for gauze rather well and Rowena wrapped Darien's arm in strips of fabric skilfully, tying small knots to ensure the fixedness of bandage. Intensity of scent dropped to tolerable levels almost instantly, for which she was inherently thankful. "In case you are shy to express proper gratitude, know beforehand you're welcome. And just for record, this was my favorite uniform. Once we get to civilization, you're buying me a new dress," declared Rowena with usual sarcastic smile as if her wardrobe was her biggest concern right now.

    The wind howled desperately again and Rowena knelt to the ground, drawing some sort of very rough map on the surface; she would have continued with nagging Darien, but prospect of talking until dawn and becoming a well-done vampire steak as a result didn't appeal to her inner fantasies. She sobered. "Okay, so taking into account length of our flight and our original destination, we must be somewhere in this area... Sahara, the most popular touristic resort. In other words, yes, we're pretty much screwed. North is this way-" she pointed to the direction, not even bothering to explain how she had reached the conclusion - "... but that's about as useful as wire in your eye. I suggest we find some elevated point and pursuit any point of reference we detect. That should be primitive enough even for a dachshund to understand, so - Oh." Without any warning, there was a loud, sickening crunch and Rowena was suddenly gulping for air on the ground, eerily white bone sticking out of her leg. If that was supposed to be a sneak attack, it had backfired spectacularly, but something in her expression - hurt grimace so different from cool mask - hinted at another option. "Ah, fuck," she exhaled, obviously not exactly pleased. Flashing lights before her eyes, sinister sparks consuming her field of vision, acted in harmony with pain pulsing through her veins and exploded in parade of agony. Why? Why did it have to happen NOW? She hated the fact that Darien of all people could see her like that, so helpless... And she hated even more what she was going to say. "I-I might need your blood after all. P-please?" Oh, shoot me. JUST SHOOT ME.
  18. Just what the hell was she doing? He told her to stay away but no, she had to move quickly and grab his hand. Something told Darien that if he would yank his hand backwards, it would only open up the wound a bit more, which meant more blood and no matter what Rowena said about not wanting to kill her taste buds, it didn't make Darien feel any more comfortable or safer. He clenched his teeth and it showed on his face as the muscles tensed and Darien was visibly displeased with Rowena's doing, but since she was mending his injury, he couldn't really disagree or complain. At least, she was good for something else than just talking and boasting. "Partners, huh? Since when did you get so friendly?" Darien said as he was watching her deft movements which were, surprisingly, gentle. Rowena only presented herself as someone with no scruples but brutal power. This definitely was not a soft side to her personality, Darien thought, but at least she wasn't tearing his arm off.

    "Once we get to civilization, I am getting some supplies. You get your stuff on your own," Darien replied while looking at his bandaged palm. Not bad, not bad at all. When Rowena started drawing something in the sand, something that looked like doodles at first, Darien had to walk behind her so that he could make some sense out of the jumbled lines. The map was messy but once Rowena started explaining, it became clearer and made more sense to him. They caught him in Kharga which he took as a reference point. Kharga was the last human ghetto in East Sahara and Darien wanted to meet one old Egyptian there who could trade him some interesting information from what Darien heard, but before he could pay the old man a visit, Rowena appeared. Anyway, logically the vampires would take him to Cairo, the capital, which was roughly north as Rowena pointed. However, if they would travel north east, instead of straight north, they would more likely find the irrigated surroundings of the river in a matter of two days. There were more ghettos by the Nile where they could find shelter. Just as he was about to suggest his thoughts to Rowena, she suddenly collapsed on the ground, white bone sticking out of her leg which was sickening to see but what caught Darien's attention more than that was the sudden change in her expression and her behavior. The confidence gone, pride gone, all replaced with helplessness and...Wait. What? She actually pleaded him for the blood that she spurned earlier.

    "Is your special ability kicking back?" Darien asked somehow taking advantage of the moment, cocking his head to a side in observation. He was the one with the knife and she couldn't protect herself in that moment. There was a slight shift in his eyes. Something altering within himself but what it was, what was happening in his mind, that was hard to tell, since it was dark and the shadows obstructed the details of his expression. Any Hekan, or human as a matter of fact, would enjoy this moment, seeing a vampire being as defenseless as a newborn. However, Darien was fascinated rather than happy about what he was seeing. Whatever made the bone come through it wasn't going away willingly and Rowena had no control over it, apparently and obviously the only way to change that she needed his blood. Well, he guessed that any kind of blood would have been fine at that moment but since he was the only one around. There was no pride in the fact that only he could help her, only sickening notion on the idea that she would drink from him. Killing her was still an attractive thought in his mind but somehow he couldn't bring himself to fully embrace that idea. Kneeling behind her, he turned Rowena to her side, exposing her back to him. The white bone shone in the moonlight and was a bizarre sight but Darien didn't pay it much attention. After what he saw in the plane... Taking the knife out of its hiding place, unsheathing it, Darien pressed the tip against her back. That notion to run the blade through her flesh and ridding himself off the troubles that she would surely bring to him, again reappeared but Darien pushed it back with all his might; even though, he knew that if he'd press on that knife, it would hit her heart for sure.

    "Drink," he said and it somehow came out partially as an order with an audible displease in his voice. "Enjoy the taste while you can," he added and his face wrinkled in anticipation of what was about to come. Presenting Rowena with his wrist of the injured arm, Darien pressed the knife against her back a bit more to remind her the unspoken threat that if she'd do something out of ordinary, it would be most likely the last thing she'd ever do.
  19. Do you know how they say that the greatest kind of fear stems from lack of knowledge? That it always comes to those poor souls who are being kept in the dark and don't have an idea what horrible things are happening to them? Well, Rowena knew precisely what was going on with her malfunctioning powers, but it did little to soothe the surge of panic obscuring her intellect. Her "inner enemy," as she liked to refer to the illness endearingly, wasn't a foe to be taken lightly; the decay wouldn't settle with such a crappy haul. There was whole body, kilograms of living flesh it could digest within few hours... Hours so mind-breakingly painful she wouldn't even be able to embrace the mercy of unconsciousness; she was sentenced to live out those last shaming moments in desperate anticipation of gracious death. Crying, sweating and writhing in feeble attempts to escape the torture even for a moment; lamentable fate of commander who used to sow the seeds of terror in hearts of criminals. And the only one who could avert it, save her from abnormal, self-destructive mechanisms of her own eldritch power, was Darien. Textbook example of irony. Rowena's breathing was jagged and uneven; she was obviously trying to conserve energy by not moving, but her state seemed very pitiful.

    The sting was slowly expanding from her leg to other body parts like oversized malignant tumor, which affirmed her immensely optimistic estimate that she was going to die here. Rowena had known about all the risks connected with her condition, but the problems had been dormant for period so long it appeared to be an eternity; she was at fault here for not respecting the few limitations the medics had determined for her... And she had to pay now, possibly the highest price. Rowena's sensitivity increased drastically; she could feel every grain of sand touching her skin, and to her great misfortune, every bone in her skeletal system. Ouch. She heard Darien's snarky comment, but didn't answer; talking meant wasting more of her precious stamina. Besides, he had full right to laugh at scandalous range of her incompetency. She couldn't make anything out of his expression burried in flickering shadows, but he was surely having a blast. Rowena understood the sentiment; she was a vampire, the dreaded executioner of whole human race, and here she was, suffering like a meek animal caught in the lurcher's trap. Defenseless, sore, alone... Of course, Rowena still hated Darien for his unwillingness to help, especially since she begged as if the humiliation wasn't already pretty enormous. She clenched her teeth to avoid the pathetic moaning; her last wish was to die with microscopic remnant of her dignity intact.

    Hasty change of position, however, destroyed any chances of feigned heroism. Agonized hiss left Rowena's lips without her permission; the feeling of being crudely disassembled and put together in the wrong order by some mad scientist was excruciating. The tip of knife caressed her back, stopping roughly at the spot where it could comfortably pierce through her heart. She had always dedicated the lessons of anatomy to much needed afternoon nap, but she could tell so much despite her low-skilled expertise. At least I'm going to kick bucket while I am beautiful and relatively sane. The thought of decent exit supplied her with new dose of courage; everything was better than slowly burning out from the inside, even being savagely eviscerated by lesser life form. Order to "drink", along with offered hand, came as a bolt out of the blue for Rowena who expected a mercy kill. For real?! Darien proceeded to nag at her, making it very obvious his hatred towards her didn't miraculously fade out in the slightest, and yet he took the steps to rescue damsel in the distress she had involuntarily become. Image of swallowing the blood tainted with impure magic intended for humans genuinely nauseated her, but refusing the only remedy she could receive would have been suicidal. Rowena leaned on him; she was about to cross another sacred line of vampire ethics, point of no return. Oh well, crossing the river Styx would have been way worse. Probably. She bared the white fangs with reluctance and sank them into his wounded wrist, sucking the liquid cautiously. The taste was... inexpressible. The bitterness intertwined with sweetness, two antagonistic flavors mixed in perfect union, created severe shock for her taste buds. It was strange, foreign, unholy - and contrary to all presumptions - delicious. Darien could feel the tension in her body disappear as if she was melting in his arms. Rowena soon found herself nibbling at his palm gently even though the anguish had subsided just to get few more drops out of him... And moaning quietly. In a way that no-one could mistake for a display of pain. Yeah, she was basically drunk.
  20. If he had eyes like a vampire he would notice the pulsating veins on his wrist as his heart sped up, blood running through his body quicker. Seeing those white fangs and knowing what was about to happen made Darien grimace in such a way that one could think he had just eaten a living slug. It was so hard not to pull away that only the imaginings of metal strings binding him to the earth kept him in place. Narrowing his eyes, almost frowning Darien expected a sting which would hurt a bit more that a sudden cut by blade, but nothing like that came. As Rowena sank her teeth in his offered arm, Darien felt almost no pain at all. It was as if there was something in Rowena's teeth that anesthetized the small would. Yes, handy indeed if something strange didn't begin happening just about at the same time when Rowena took her first sip of his blood. It took him by awe and simply put, he had an out-of-body experience.

    He wasn't sure what exactly happened but suddenly his mind became somehow clouded or even numb. As if someone through a heavy, warm blanket over him and that made him feel relaxed, happy even. He had to drop the knife in order to support himself as for some reasons Darien suddenly felt unstable, even though he was kneeling on the ground and there wasn't any gust off wind which would through him off balance. Leaning on his right hand made him bent over Rowena, somehow creating a shelter for her from his own flesh. There was something so alluring about that feeling of ...affection? Yes, something made Darien feel warm inside as he watched Rowena feeding on him, her lips on his skin gently sucking in the precious, life-giving liquid. The warmth spread in his body and he almost wanted to encourage her to have a bit more. Behind the mist, somewhere at the back of his own mind, the sane Darien was watching in astonishment. The small part of himself that wasn't fully under the influence of the drug was banging on the invisible barrier trying to disturb his own body from doing whatever it was about to do. However, whatever he tried to stop himself, it was all in vain. He lost control over his body which was frightening yet at the same time frustrating supported by the ridiculous and inexplicable fact of the sudden strong attraction he felt towards Rowena.

    His eyes moved from his wrist and to her profile, tracing the lines of her face as if he could fondle her with his gaze. Her expression seemed soft and dis-concerned, it was so different and luscious compared to the usual stern, confident look. Watching her and seeing her skin that looked so smooth in the night light, it was almost begging him to caress it. She looked perfect laying there on the ground, helpless, the moon illuminating her like a marble stone sphinx. He starred at her unashamed but not like an idiot drooling over her beauty. His eyes were attentive and there was a sparkle of inner desire somewhere deep inside that gaze as if only his look could convince Rowena to do his bidding. The lines of his face were sharp only adding to the overall picture of utter longing for something.
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