Dancing Crow: Chapter 1

September 16, 2005

The humans built their society in such a different way from my people. First, vampires were old fashioned as fuck. Buildings like castles and old villages littered our kingdoms, and yet some apparently added human tech to the mix as well. Why we couldn’t adapt entirely, I didn’t know. Why did I keep saying ‘we’? I wasn’t a part of their shit any longer. I was a loner, on my own, and could no longer think that way. 

Which also meant, if I was to adapt well, I needed to hide my powers. Ares from kingdom Arachnida was dead. But… I didn’t want to change my name. An alibi was annoying, and besides, I liked the name I was born with. So I’d just drop the last name and keep my first one. There was nothing that could go wrong with that, right? 

Anyway, I was heading to a city in the Northeast United States directly after escaping the shithole of my old vampire kingdom. I was beaten to the brink of death by followers of my mother while trying to escape, and it’d taken me quite a bit to recover enough to actually get a move on. I got away and was still kickin’, but I still had many wounds dotting my flesh.

Managing to shapeshift into a crow shortly after I exited the kingdom, I flew for a few hours until I’d located myself to the slums of an average human city, with  a name that I honestly didn’t pay attention to at the moment. Didn’t matter. What mattered was getting my feet on the ground.

The run-down old mansion I’d found to settle into had no running water, which was just great. The damn utilities were currently turned off–hopefully temporarily, if I had any say in that. I needed to gather my bearings.

 So, I went off and found myself a temporarily abandoned public bathroom after the sunset, since I could move much more easily during the night. While I didn’t know much about humans yet, I knew enough that I could figure out this was a pool used during the summer. Besides! Vampires went swimming too, even in the ruddy old fashioned kingdoms, indoor plumbing included. 

Since it was autumn, there was no such activity here, though. And so, into the area did I break, and to my luck, the place did have running water. Perfect. I flicked on the lights, thanking the gods that there was no security system here. Alarms were yet another thing I knew about what humans used to deter dangers, from the trio that had taught me a bit about society prior to having to leave, of course.

I walked toward a mirror in the men’s room, my tired crimson gaze taking in my appearance. I was decently muscular, lithe, no doubt someone that focuses more on agility than strength. Lacerations and stab wounds were freshly closed on my flesh, not healing entirely from my natural abilities due to the wretched silver. My deep black hair was slightly messy, but still styled in a half-mohawk, with the other half shaved. I had a bit of stubble on my chin, something I didn’t ever bother shaving entirely, really. What? The 5 o’clock shadow thing looked damn good, apparently. I brought my hand up to my, as some would say, chiseled jawline, running a blade-like claw against it and letting out a sigh. Where was that blood coming from? 

Drip… drip… drip…. Grunting, I reached behind my pointed ear, one that many rings going down the cartilage. Sharp ears… right, shit. That wasn’t a normal human look, yet another reason why I needed to be hidden. The former blood slaves I’d saved in my kingdom had told me as such, instructing me to be careful and stay hidden for a long list of reasons if I ever found myself in a situation like this. 

Whatever, I found the source of the bleeding, pulling out a shard of silver from behind my ear with a grunt. Good, that would close soon. I continued to inspect my face in the mirror, noting how my ivory skin was just stained with crimson, here, there, everywhere. Maybe some patches of normal, but not many. Not that I minded. While some of the caked blood was mine, I’d massacred so many of those kingdom vampire bastards that surely over 75% was theirs. 

More inspecting–I had all of my piercings intact. Good! My two eyebrow piercings, the spider bites on my lip, and my nipple piercings too. Owch, that would have hurt like hell should those in particular had been messed with. Luckily that’s not what’s typically aimed for in a vampire versus vampire fight. Usually the neck. I ran my claws over the tattoo on my pec muscle, sneering softly. The Dancing Crow. It was hilarious as fuck, a crow with a cane in its wing and a hat on its head, with a drop of blood crawling down its beak and into its feathers. Looked like it was dancing too. It was my nickname, duh. 

The humans had given it to me when I shifted to crow form and performed some goofy dances for them in order to help them feel better. Needless to say, rescuing people from the trauma of being a blood slave was tough. So I learned to adapt, using the brighter, less violent side of my personality to try and cheer them up. Usually, it worked.

My claws drew over the tattoo on my shoulder, one of a spider–the symbol of my kingdom, Arachnida. It was a horrible reminder, but I’d wear it as the nickname given to me by my victims. I had no mercy cannibalising other vampires, I did it for a long while now. Though, now that I was away from it, I’d need to halt such activity. No one could know I was the ‘Black Recluse’. Hopefully, everyone just assumed I was dead. 

My clothing was intact too, aside from a few rips in my leather pants. And the fact that I needed a new shirt and jacket, but you know, one thing at a time. I had my spiked cuffs and choker, which was good, because I hated being seen without looking badass as fuck. Giving myself a sneer in the mirror and admiring my shark-like grin for just a moment, I nodded. 

This was the start of something new. And I was ready. 

***

It’d been a few months since my arrival to this city, of which was nameless to me. Still. Prolly would remain that way, too. 

In that time, I’d learned a lot. Sometimes money was helpful, and I had a shit ton of it from butchering other vampires. Like I cared about the wellbeing of slave masters in my old kingdom, especially dead ones–corpses had no use for money. 

The kingdom used the US dollar and not some old-fashion gold coins. That was a swap they made a while ago to better blend in and manipulate the human economy from a distance. In my case, I was able to properly set up a bank and store my money.

The widdle humans probably thought I was a drug dealer or something with how they looked at me. I didn’t care. I strolled right into that bank with a dazzling smile, my delightfully shark-like grin not present due to the illusions. My rounded ears still had all of their piercings upon them, which chimed as I walked. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman draw her purse closer to her. 

Bewildered, the teller stared me down, tense as a rod when I placed my hands upon the desk-like ledge where transactions took place. I didn’t have claws either, they just looked like fingernails painted black. “I’d like to open an account please!” The expressions only grew more surprised when they discovered just how much money I had on me. Yep, definitely thought I was a drug dealer. I had quite a bit of money in that bag of stuff I brought with me from the kingdom, namely solid hundred-dollar-bills. I think they were too offput to ask questions.

With that money stored and all set up, I could get some shit done. 

The decrepit mansion in the slums was mine now, done up on the inside, courtesy of me hiring some help. Here is where I’d start my own kingdom. Or, as humans liked to call it, a gang. How exciting! I could go with the word ‘coven’, but that would be boring as hell. And so, ‘gang’ it was. Now my place had running water, too, which was no doubt essential. 

I learned early on that illusion magic, as little access to it that I had, was essential after my little bank adventure. Vampires couldn’t tap into magic as easily as humans, likely due to our natural powers winning out. Still, such a subject fascinated me even when I lived in the kingdom, so I knew just enough to get by looking human. But…how boring it was to be human even for a little while. Luckily, I rarely needed to invoke the spell and sneak about. 

So, here’s what I learned. After reading some of their ‘mythology’, I learned about what humans thought they knew about my kind. To them, we were monsters that didn’t exist, hence my need to remain hidden in the shadows. Sort of like a masquerade vibe, I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway, they thought we had two petty fangs. TWO FANGS! HAH! My mouth was lined with an entire array of sharp teeth, with slightly longer canines. We were carnivores with no need for flat teeth like the widdle humans. 

Alright, but get this. Humans also thought we were undead. Undead! No no no, we were very much alive, a humanoid species quite like them. Too bad they thought us myth, otherwise they would learn we were sister species in their fun little Biology classes. Also, something about holy water and crucifixes being effective. Unless the crucifix was silver and pointy at one end, it wouldn’t be doing much. Monsters from the pits of hell? We weren’t even from the underworld realm. We developed as a species on Earth, from a common ancestor. Like shifters too! The Earthen humanoid trio. 

Why silver is poisonous to us, I don’t know. Something about a severe allergic reaction that slowed our natural healing. We regenerate our cells much faster than any human could, and while we could be killed by things aside from silver, it was much harder. The things humans did get right, though, was the super speed, strength, and senses. Born vampires had sharp, ‘elf-like ears’. I dunno why we were compared to elves though, since the fae were from a different realm. Elves had vampire-like ears, in that case! 

Hmmm… what else. Oh! Humans could be turned into vampires, yep. Was weird shit, because they weren’t ‘undead’ either. Nope, just turned into a different species entirely, something about their DNA being corrupted and changed. Not all survived the process, but they certainly weren’t dead when it went through. Just… no longer human. 

And  finally, the weird bat thing. HAH! Silly humans, thinking all vampires turned into bats. I turned into a crow, as I said before. It was my ‘familiar’ form. Familiars were simple spells anyone could learn after a few months of practice. If, that is, they knew about magic. Humans apparently erased magic from their history books, or whatever, leading them to believe it all fake. Pity. But, regardless, most vampires chose bats. The simple shapeshifting spell was best for traveling and spying, ‘cause as a familiar, you could do jack shit and needed to focus your mana, the stuff that powers your magic, on keeping that spell. No concentration? No form. Though some more advanced magic users could use telepathy in form, of course. 

Humans were amusing. I watched them often from the shadows in the dark of the night, for as a nocturnal monster, something they did get right, I was sensitive to the sun. Moreso due to my pale skin, but even vampires with darker tones could be susceptible, especially our eyes. 

I learned about the scum of the planet in this city, and that’s when I realized I could use my need to feed to the advantage for ‘the good guys’. I required no humans to rely upon or get blood from on a regular basis, because I could just rip the throats out of the evil ones and dispose of their corpses. Something that I became very, very good at. 

And so, here I was, learning about humans and the state of their world. Times were changing, and technology was advancing. 

I wasn’t there yet, but my aging would stop at twenty-five. My style never changed, it was something that always stuck with me. Watching…waiting… I decided it was time for a change. Lurking and being a loner was fun, but that gang I mentioned a while back? It was time to officially get that started. 

Problem was, how could I find vampires like me, when most that I met, I slaughtered on the spot or chased away?

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