You're not from around here, are you?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by DisreputableCharles, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. (Here we go.)

    "Thank you!" The girl nodded to the cashier and checked her bags before lifting them off the counter and walking out of the grocery store. One glance at the total on the receipt made her stomach do a little turn of anxiety; there were so many kids at the boarding house now that she couldn't really afford to keep feeding them this way.
    Sage Lyons released a weighty sigh and adjusted her grip on the brown paper bags, using one hand to push her short black hair behind her ears. It was getting dark now, so she walked a little faster to ensure that she got back with enough time to make the other kids' dinner before the little ones had to go to bed. Strange, she so often walked this route alone, but tonight seemed...different. Eerie, somehow.
  2. Kelkov Aerio hovered through the seemingly infinite blackness that stretched on between realms. The opening in the boundary that normally kept him from accessing the human world was well-timed; many of the younger servants he was tasked with keeping an eye on were starting to get a bit...rambunctious, and it was getting on his nerves. Sure, he enjoyed watching a good fight every once in a while, but enough was enough. His patience was wearing thin. He knew that a good night spent soul-harvesting would do him good. And, of course, he had to admit that souls could be rather delicious when you didn't drain them of their energy to run other things. Ah, the wonders of being a demon, he thought to himself. But not just any demon: a demon prince.

    Finally, the other side of the void was revealed to him, a bright light cutting through the endless darkness. He floated towards it as he had done so many times before, and in a flash, he found himself standing alongside a sidewalk at dusk. He looked around, trying to gather his bearings, wondering where the void had dumped him this time. Thankfully, he found his senses weren't too dull, though his sudden change in form certainly did have an effect.

    Whenever Kelkov traveled to the human world, his form was forced into something far more human. His chin-length hair turned a dark brown color, and his eyes became a deep, forest green. His clothes stayed the same, though: he wore a suit with a dark red jacket and black pants and shoes. Kelkov always was quite the snappy dresser. The only sign of his inhumanity was his ears: they were pointed, though he made sure to keep them covered up by his hair whenever he ventured into this world.

    He noticed a girl coming up the sidewalk, steadily approaching him. She was carrying several grocery bags. Interesting. She'd make for a worthy first target; he'd get her soul and the things she'd bought. He started walking down the sidewalk in the same direction as her, keeping his pace down so she would pass him. Once she did, he'd just have to grab her, take her soul, and be on his merry way. Simple.
  3. It was strange how living in this neighborhood had numbed Sage's reaction to odd things. The town itself had a reputation for inexplicable occurrences, some of which she had witnessed firsthand. So when a young man in a smart suit appeared seemingly out of nowhere, a bit up the sidewalk from her, Sage didn't see much reason for alarm. As much as she'd been cautioned not to take this route, it had proven to be the fastest and least troublesome in getting home.

    It wasn't as though she'd be targeted by anyone suspicious, anyways; she was a simple teenager, never wore anything more flamboyant than a t-shirt, skirt, and Chuck Taylors (more or less due to her financial situation), and had never considered herself anything extraordinary in appearance. There wasn't any need to be afraid. She wasn't anything special.

    Nothing changed as she walked by him, excepting the cordial nod that she would've extended to anyone she saw on the street. For a split second her pale blue eyes lingered on him, like she sensed something, but Sage dismissed it as she passed.

  4. Keeping his expression as neutral as possible without making it look out of place or otherwise forced, Kelkov waited for the girl to walk past. He returned her silent nod of greeting, and as she walked away, he reached out and brushed his hand over her shoulder, calling the energy of her soul into his fingers. It was a very routine motion; he barely had to think about it.

    Except...nothing happened. There was no familiar blue wisp that should have flitted around his hand and perhaps down his arm, no slight tingle of the energy he should have absorbed. He frowned. He was a demon prince, one of the most powerful among the netherworld's ranks, so he was sure it wasn't his fault. He wasn't suddenly incompetent. That would be silly. No, it had to be something about her. Was she...undead? That would explain it if she simply lacked a soul in the first place, but she didn't look particularly decrepit, and she certainly didn't have the odd, jerky gait. Perhaps she was some kind of witch, and was blocking her soul from thieves like him? Hmmm. He was curious now. If she truly was of the magically inclined, her soul would be very powerful indeed. Maybe if he could get her to trust him...

    Noticing she had opened up some distance between the two while he'd been lost in thought, he jogged up to her and began walking alongside her, matching her pace with calm, smooth strides. "Hello," he said, a friendly smile on his face.
  5. At first glance, he hadn't seemed strange. A bit out-of-place in a suit and all, but nothing particularly odd to draw attention to him. Sage was a bit surprised when she thought his hand brushed her shoulder, but upon looking back she noted that he apparently hadn't moved, so there was no cause for alarm. After all, there wasn't much to be wary of around here.

    Continuing on her way, Sage's thoughts drifted to what she'd be making for dinner tonight, studying for exams, her work hours for that weekend...perfectly normal wonderings for a normal girl. It was only when she heard rapid footsteps that she turned around to see the young man approaching her.

    "Hello," he said, with an admittedly charming smile. She raised an eyebrow, then returned the smile as she adjusted her grocery bags.

    "Er, hello to you too."
  6. Hrm, now what? He wasn't entirely sure where he was going with this, but he had to get a conversation going if he wanted to direct it to any power she might hold. Might as well start with some small talk, he thought, and hope that she didn't take him for some random creep who sprang out from a seedy alley to rob her of all her belongings or something. Especially since that was, essentially, exactly what he was.

    "Sure has been a nice day, huh?" he asked, cringing inwardly at the cliched-ness of it all, but keeping up his smile. He always was good at mustering a nice, friendly smile, even in the darkest of times. Sure, it looked a little fake sometimes, when he was particularly stressed, but putting up a friendly facade was what he did best. Years of practice had honed his talent for it considerably.
  7. Innocent enough. Sage raised an eyebrow slightly at him before the smile on her lips faded slowly into her eyes; this young man was...well, peculiar, but he seemed friendly enough. His clumsy conversation starter was enough to amuse her, anyway.

    "Yes, I'd say it has been." A distinct ache in her arms forced her to re-adjust her groceries again. While she was the type to make polite conversation with strangers, this was a rather inconvenient time. "Er..." She lifted her knee to help support the weight, then stood straight as she looked back up at him. "Do you need something?" Her inquiry was followed by a slight tilt of the head.
  8. "Oh, here, let me help," Kelkov offered, holding out his arm to let her pass one of her grocery bags to him. Yeah, he needed something alright. He needed the energy she might have held within her soul. Normally, he wouldn't have spent so much time and effort on a single target, but his main reason for coming to the human world this time around was to get away from his annoying demon brethren. Collecting souls was added bonus, so to speak. Besides, he felt like he could use the challenge, and the chance to talk to someone who wasn't completely insane in some way or another.

    "The name's Kelkov, by the way," he said, not seeing much of a reason to give a pseudonym. Thankfully, the name sounded more Russian than distinctly inhuman; even though he didn't have the accent to match, at least he could use that as an excuse. Not to mention that he didn't have any enemies who knew him by name. Or at least, so he thought. Most all of his foes just knew him by his title, or Prince Aerio.
  9. Sage, while used to handling these things on her own, was pleasantly surprised by the stranger's sudden chivalry. She stretched a little with her left arm, the muscles of which had tensed up due to overuse.

    "Oh, thank you---Sage, my name's Sage." With a nod that seemed an attempt to solidify her statement, she inadvertently made a sort of half-smile, the sort which she tended to fall into without even noticing it. He seems nice, doesn't he? It was a habit of hers to put too much trust in people in general, which sometimes led to unpleasant situations. She was neither gullible nor dumb, but Sage found herself thinking that immediate doubt was no way to interact with people.

    "So are around here?"
  10. Kelkov cradled the paper bag in his arm and adjusted his grip a bit as he walked alongside her, resisting the urge to peek inside lest he be labeled as a thief. "Yeah, just moved in," he said, somewhat truthfully. So far so good. She was open enough. That sort of gullibility would probably get her killed someday, he thought, chuckling on the inside. Running into a random suited man in the late afternoon wasn't exactly the friendliest of situations. "What about you?" he continued, trying to steer the conversation away from him. "How long have you been here?"
  11. An odd question, Sage thought, considering the time frame of less than ten minutes in which they'd known each other. Was he a new arrival looking to make acquaintances, or should she be wary of ulterior motives? He was holding her groceries, so there wasn't much point in backing out right away.

    "About seven years," she replied cordially, resuming her walk casually and nodding for him to follow. "Can't remember much before that, but...well, everything important has only happened since then, so I guess it doesn't really matter, does it?" Another smile, though this one was considerably less glowing than its predecessors.
  12. "The place must be important to you," he observed. He took the information Sage had just given him and ran it through the part of his mind that kept track of weaknesses. It wasn't exactly much to go on, but perhaps she'd recently had an addition to the family, like a new baby or a marriage? Or maybe she'd lost someone? It was only a guess, but it was a start. Kelkov knew that the best way to fight someone was with psychological warfare. He was always trying to find people's emotional weaknesses, or "psych ammo" as he liked to call it sometimes, so that he could use it against them later if he ever got into a fight. It was a powerful technique, but it required him to get to know someone first. That was the hard part, although he was pretty personable all the same.

    He glanced over and noticed that her smile didn't look quite as strong. He'd gone a bit too far into her personal life too soon. That was fine; he could afford a slip-up or two, he thought. If he really had to, he could blame the whole thing on a crush, slip her his phone number, and be on his merry way if he went a little too far. With any luck, she'd call him back, and he could use the number to dig up some dirt...

    But he was getting waayy ahead of himself. "I haven't even gotten all my stuff unpacked yet," he said with a slight chuckle. "I'm not looking forward to it."
  13. Sage nodded her agreement, though her enthusiasm had decreased significantly since the beginning of the fledgling conversation. It wasn't as though anything about her specifically had changed, but she'd always possessed a sort of intuition that told her when to back out. And right now, that little voice in the back of her mind was telling her to do just that.

    "Moving in can be a hassle, but it's worth it once you're settled into your new place." Different questions came into her mind now: what did a (she guessed) well-off young man want with her? Why was she the person to strike up a conversation with?

    Growing more wary, she glanced over at the bag he had taken for her, pondering how best to retrieve it without being too blunt. It didn't bother her too much, though, they were almost at her house.
  14. "Oh, definitely. I think I'm going to like this place." He punctuated his latest sentence with a warm smile in her direction, hoping she would catch his implied compliment. Idly, he wondered how close they were to her place. They hadn't really been walking for very long, and he predicted that the route would be short, considering she was walking it much later in the day. No one in their right mind would walk a mile or two alone in the dark. He didn't bother asking, though, not wanting to steer the conversation back to her again until she warmed back up and felt more like talking.

    Kelkov noticed her glancing over at the bag he was holding; was she making sure he hadn't taken anything? Eh, couldn't hurt to trade blind chivalry for respect for her implied wishes. "Ah, did you want to take this back?" he asked, holding up the bag of groceries in his arm.
  15. "A bit quiet for some, but I manage to keep myself entertained." Sage gave him a quizzical sort of smile, one that extended more to her eyes than her lips, as though she knew he'd intended something but wasn't certain as to what. They were very near to the alley of garages behind the boarding house now, and as her gaze moved to his face she responded to his inquiry.

    "If you don't mind; I live just over here---" She made her best effort to gesture towards the lamppost and alleyway coming up on their left, though it was difficult when coupled with her balancing act. "Thank you for your help though...Kelkov." It took her but a moment to recall his name, but once she did she couldn't help grinning a little in spite of herself.
  16. Well, that answered that question. "Not a problem, Sage," he said in return. Carefully, he handed the bag back over to her, making sure she had them all balanced in her arms. His chance to find out whether or not she was a witch was slipping away, he had to do something...

    Time for his backup plan, he figured. At the very least, he could use the chance to talk to her. "Maybe I'll see you later, huh?" he added, reaching into his pocket and wrapping his hand around the miniature notepad and pencil he always carried around to keep track of the souls he took.