Dancing Crow: Chapter 2

October 31, 2006

It’d been about a year since I arrived here in this nameless city. In that time, I’d learned so much. Long ago, humans had an edge on most other humanoid creatures in their realm through magic. They drank mana, the proper fuel for casting it, on the regular and could become powerful mages. But like I mentioned, they had none of that now. That would be a very big problem soon. I could feel it. 

You see, I’d learned to watch and listen to those of my kind. Yeah, I didn’t always rip other vampires to shreds. Sometimes it was helpful not to, and besides, I needed to be a bit more subtle here. Therefore, I heard rumors of a great war on the horizon. My species was preparing for something… A world changing event. Whatever the fuck that meant. 

I chose to not focus on that for now. Now was the time to gather allies. And today, Halloween, was the one time of the year where I didn’t have to hide a damn thing about my species. At dusk did I take to the streets, walking along it with a large smirk on my face. Humans dressed as witches, dragons, faeries, and comically, vampires, passed me by. Several gawked, and I even got a few whistles. One woman said, “Damn dude, you take your costume seriously!” I merely chuckled. 

These streets were relatively safe, courtesy of yours truly. I couldn’t be everywhere at once, however, so in the areas I didn’t lurk often, criminal activity stirred. And I don’t mean drug dealers, I mean murderers and rapists. Monsters much scarier than those that simply go bump in the night. 

Tonight, I’d be searching for potential recruits for my cause in the parts of the city where my kind gathered. Yes, I know it took me a whole year, but I was gathering knowledge in that time on humans and how my species worked here. Ugh. I hated vampire ‘culture’, another bullshit thing humans got right. City vampires often went to clubs, luring in humans to ‘play’ with. Similar to blood slaves, actually, which disgusted me. 

Well. I’d have to suck it up, and so here I was, leaning on a brick wall in an alleyway outside of a club. I’d have to restrain myself from butchering the entire place, but this one was rumoured to at least respect humans because they were willing victims that kept our kind’s secret to boot. Hopefully that wasn’t a load of bullshit. 

Contemplating how exactly I was going to interact with people I’d much rather rip apart with my claws, I snapped my attention to my left as a distressed woman’s shout rang out. A backdoor slammed open as she stumbled down the alleyway, thrown into the wall across from the door and sinking down to her knees. Her onyx skin was covered in lacerations from claws, closing up quickly because of her healing. Her clothing left much flesh to the outside world, something bold and impressive.

Right now, however, it showed the world just how badly she was beaten, though. Some of it was ripped from whatever she’d gotten herself into. Her pointed ears were slightly torn, and one of her crimson eyes was squinted in pain, as if it’d been hit. Lunging out after her was a male vampire with hair spiked up with neon green, shirtless and so displaying pale skin with a few slash marks across it, fresh and still bleeding. 

The woman snarled, “Fuck off Adam. Just because you paid me to fuck doesn’t mean you can use me for anything. I’m not gonna sit here and take your bullshit.”

The male vampire laughed and snapped his fangs at her. Followed by this, three goons, no doubt working for him, emerged from the door. They were walls of muscle, so you know, the cliche evil minions. Oh boy, was I living in a movie? Fuck this. I moved closer, starting to plan my attacks out already. Especially as the Adam douchebag grabbed the woman by the throat and shoved her against the wall again, ripping his hand into her shirt and no doubt groping her. 

“Oh, but it does, Clarice. You became mine, you piece of shit whore. All you bitches are for use of the customer. You sell yourself, that’s what you become. An object. Now, my object. So be a good girl and let me shove my cock right up that pretty ass of yours, and then I’ll hand you off to my friends here since you seem to think you have a choice.”

She snarled and struggled to no avail. I could tell she was strong as fuck, but against four vampires? She’d not be able to do a damn thing. Time for operation ‘skin a douchebag’. I lunged out as fast as a spider rushing for a fly caught in its web. Far too easily did the first goon fall as blood splattered across the brick. I’d plunged my claws right through his lower abdomen from behind, ripping his intestines out link by link and giving a boyish giggle. Oh this was fun. 

Pulling him closer, I bit him from behind, chunking some flesh out from his neck and spatting a wad of it aside. I might not be able to use my powers and risk exposure, but damn was I still strong as fuck, far beyond regular vampires. Perks of being a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, or whatever. I hated royals, but in times like this I was happy to be one. 

The two other goons whirled, but one went down just as easily as I leaped upon him, raising my claws and slashing his eyes open. From there I sneered, shredding downward with my claws until his neck was a bloody pulp. Veins and arteries oh so quickly snapped, spraying blood everywhere, especially all over me. The leather of my jacket was saturated with it, and damn did it smell lovely. Feeling elated, I continued my assault until I felt a silver knife slice into my side. 

Leaving my victim to die there, because I sure as hell did more damage than he could reasonably heal even with enhanced ability at this point, I whirled and snapped my fangs at the final goon. Turns out he’d been stabbing me a few times prior to me actually paying attention. Damn it, I stopped using my head when I frenzied. Ah well. 

Not wanting to waste time and possibly screw over that woman I was trying to help in the first place, I took the third goon down, sustaining more stab wounds but ripping his throat out pretty easily. Then, I turned to captain Adam douchebag and bared my fangs. He was still groping the vampire, but withdrew, shoving her to the ground and turning to face me. We circled each other for a moment like enemy tigers sizing up battle. He spoke first. 

“That was impressive, whoever you are,” he growled. “But those bastards are expensive. You could have just asked for a turn, I woulda given you a discount. Her lips can do wonders on–”

“Oh SHUT THE FUCK UP!” I screamed, suddenly lunging and slamming him against the brick. Again and again did I beat him into the wall, feeling my anger grow exponentially. Meaning, unfortunately, I once again stopped paying attention. So when a knife dug into my chest, almost too close to my heart for comfort, I was forced to snarl and stumble back. 

The silver’s poison hurt. He knew what he was doing. That bastard no doubt couldn’t rely on his raw power, for he was weaker than me. As I stumbled backward into the wall, he rushed at me, giving a chuckle. Suddenly, however, he froze, and I tilted my head as he tumbled to the ground. From his back was a knife sticking out like a beautiful accessory, shoved into just his lung. Standing there behind him was Clarice–the vampire he’d been trying to rape. 

He, however, dismissed her as a threat and kept going for me, landing a few stabs with his speed as I tripped backward over one of the fallen. Shit. His dismissal of her, however, was anything but smart. 

His arm was grabbed as her claws sank into his flesh. Adam was whipped across the way and into the wall as Clarice pounced on him. She drew back her fist and began to punch his skull in, snarling, “How’d you like the taste of this you fucker?! Yeah, I enjoy what I do. But I am not a tool. Terms and conditions are MINE. You’re a fucking coward and you’re gonna die like one.”

Her punches halted, and she drew her knife hand. A low grin played on her lips as she darted off of him and moved downward, without hesitation carving into his genitals and causing him to scream in agony. He was alive, just barely, and could feel his own castration. How grisly. Clarice didn’t leave him alive for long, though. She focused her knife hand and pounced once more, killing him with a stab to the chest. Then, she turned toward me, taking a few steps forward. I wasn’t in the best of shape, but I could still lean against the cold stone wall.

She was shaky, and now I could get a better look at her. Her hair was styled rather similarly to mine, that is, a half-shaved head with a wispy half-mohawk going across the other side. There were streaks of neon violet in the black strands, messy now due to circumstances. 

She had several facial piercings, including snake bites on her lip, several spikes on her eyebrows, a nose ring, and spikes going down her pointed ears. When she spoke next, I caught sight of a tongue piercing as well. She looked the opposite of happy. “Listen here and listen good, you random ass stranger from the streets. I ain’t here for you to use too…”

The shuddering rushing through her body was too much to handle, and she collapsed, scurrying toward the corner of the alleyway to get away from me, dropping the bravado in an instant. Though she buried her face into her hands, she still managed to choke out some words to me. “SO FUCK OFF! GO AWAY! I DUNNO WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE DOING HERE, BUT I’M NOT FOR SALE RIGHT NOW, BASTARD!” Alright, she was in hysterics, and I had no idea what I was doing. 

But I had to calm her down somehow, and so I hesitantly took a few steps toward her, then sat my ass down on the ground and took a deep breath. My lack of attention resulted in tons of wounds, and I wasn’t healing because of the damn silver. I began to speak, but clamped my jaws shut fast. Shit. I can’t talk all fancy-like. It’ll be obvious I’m not naturally from these parts. This is what I get for not practicing. Oh well, here goes nothing.

“‘Ey! I ain’t ‘ere to fuck with ya, lady!” I began, cringing inwardly at my fake city accent. Hopefully she’d buy it. “I saw those damn bastards lookin’ to harm ya, and so I jumped in. Not for sale righ’ now? I’m not looking for anything but a fun night out drinkin’!” I continued, hoping to the gods that my charade was convincing. 

She fell for it, so perhaps my fake accent wasn’t that bad. Alibi? Nailed it. Sort of. She glared at me from between her clawed hands, then suddenly was in front of me, baring her fangs up into my face. I was about six feet two, and she, well, was a good foot shorter. Needless to say, her attempt to intimidate wasn’t going to work due to height, but rather due to gumption. 

I wasn’t phased, though, and stood my ground. Er, sat on it. Whatever. “Listen’ lady,” I began. “I don’ know who those bastards are, so sorry if they were your friends, but you got some real shitty friends if tha’s the case. So, actually, I really ain’t all that sorry.”

Clarice studied me carefully, deciding to circle around me like a curious hyena to downed prey. Finally, she stopped before me again. “Thanks,” she said finally, then averted her gaze. “I shoulda been able to take ‘em. ‘Course I was overpowered by his lot. Too many of those jackasses… When have I ever been any more useful than for some fuck toy? These bastards think that they can do whatever the fuck they want since I sell myself for a livin’. Not to mention, it’s fun. On my terms. Fuuuuck… “ 

She shuddered again, no doubt wanting to break into a run from me, but still standing her ground. “How’d you take ‘em down so fast, huh? You some tough guy? Why dontcha beat me up? You some knight in shining armor?” 

She eyed me up and down. “Sure as hell don’t look it. Some biker dude, yes. Knight in shining armor? HAH! Nope,” she growled.

I rolled my eyes. “I’d rather be a mage, ya brat,” I grumbled. “Knights. Boring! Why be a knight when ya can use magic?” I commented, sounding like a geek and not giving two fucks. Clarice’s eyes twinkled curiously for a moment, no doubt wanting to ask me to elaborate. Rather than doing so, however, she focused on more pressing matters. 

“So. What now? Gonna boast that you can do whatever since you saved my sorry skin?” she growled, placing her hands on her hips. I began to realize she was used to manipulation tactics like that.

I scoffed. “The hell did you just say? I didn’ save anyone. You saved me, I was backed up against tha’ wall, he was comin’ right at me!” Following my words, she burst into hyena-like laughter. Reminded me of that Shenzi chick from Lion King. Yeah, I was well aware of Disney, I didn’t give two fucks about expectations.

“I like you,” she decided, her crimson gaze growing tired. “You don’ know how to lie well, dude, but I like you. I’m Clarice. You?”

“Ares,” I grunted, holding out my clawed hand, to which she shook. “Got a place I can bring ya so yer safe? You look like you need some time alone.”

“Nope,” Clarice replied, giving a snort. “Adam and his gang provided me housing, and I provided him sex. When he changed the contract without my permission though, well… that’s whatcha saw here.”

“Disgusting,” I spat, unable to help myself. “Jus’ cause yer alright with bein’ open and all doesn’ mean yer an object. I feel gross just thinkin’ about that bullshit. Woulda ripped his balls off if I had the time,” I added, sneering at the image in my mind of doing so. 

Clarice blinked and eyed me once again, a smile widening on her face. “Damn. You do know how to party, huh? Not afraid of doing what I did, I see. But… I guess I can crash under a bridge until I find someone to bribe again,” she sighed, shaking her head. “Listen, I’d offer you, but I’m too tired to–”

I shook my head immediately. “Listen doll, you’re hot, yea, but I’d never ask something like that, ‘specially of someone in need. You prolly don’ trust anyone right now, but hey, if you need a place to crash? I got a setup.” 

More laughter rang out, and Clairce put a clawed hand on her forehead. After a long pause, she giggled, “Fuck, you know what? If you wanted to abuse this you woulda by now. I’m too tired to think logically, like I actually do anyway, so why not. I’ll take the invite to the house of a psychopath that just butchered those slimeballs all across the wall. Why not, right?” She wasn’t being sarcastic, either. 

I rolled my eyes. “Hey doll, yer the one tha’ castrated him. C’mon then, you could use a comfy bed for the night. And not one that someone’ll abuse you in.” 

The situation was surreal, to be honest. We made our way through the streets, her leaning on me for support, still shuddering like a leaf. Aside from that though, she shoved those emotions down good and tight. She was hurting, I could tell. But I didn’t press. She needed silence, so I gave it to her. 

We arrived at the mansion, and initially she raised a brow. It looked abandoned and gross outside, what with the boarded up windows and the peeling black paint. Home sweet home, for when we entered, its true nature was revealed. 

Deep blue walls and sandy wooden floors greeted us, along with various paintings of what humans considered to be ‘fantasy’ scenes, like mighty dragons and landscapes depicting magical worlds. All real! Maybe they’d learn someday. 

Clarice spotted a very comfy black leather couch and immediately shoved past me, collapsing upon it and giving a groan. “Listen tough guy, I need no bed, I just need a place to lay down for a bit,” she told me. Eyeing me once more, she growled, “If you’re gonna betray my trust or whatever, do it now, get it over with. I ain’t got time for games.”

“Man, how many times do I gotta tell you?” I exclaimed, yawning to flash my fangs at her. “Like hell am I touching you at all. I need a nap. A long one. Listen, there’s blood in the fridge. Don’t take it all, I’m a hungry bastard. Just get some sleep or something, we can talk about shit in the morning.” 

This satisfied her, and she gave me a nod. I retired to my room, collapsing upon the bed after taking off my leather jacket. Oi what a long night, my muscles were aching to say the least. That silver did a number on me since I was stabbed several times and hadn’t been paying attention, like an idiot.

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