Dancing Crow: Chapter 6

“Ooooo, low roll!” Clarice yelled, cackling evilly as I let out a frustrated hiss. The bright light of the dining room shined upon us as we played Dungeons & Dragons. I stared at the 3 I’d just rolled, wincing. Clarice was merciless. Forktail, my trusty kobold, was always on the brink of death because of her. 

Several gang members hooted and howled with laughter at my expense. They were garbed in leathers, chains, and spikes, with punkish hairstyles like mohawks, sideswept bangs, and short hair styled upward for any gender. Sharp-toothed grins were displayed as the attention turned to me. I gulped, anticipating Clarice’s final verdict.

“You failed your stealth around the gryphon’s nest, and your lizard-ass is spotted. So whatcha gonna do now, boss?!” the dungeon master asked, a dark smirk playing on her lips. 

“…Can I tame the damn thing?” I asked, and she rolled her eyes. 

One of the new guys, Bruce, had my back, though. He was a male vampire with slightly tanned skin from the sun, likely from hangin’ out at the beach a lot. Yeah, he was a weird vampire. Though with pounds of sunscreen, he didn’t burn. Much. He had a bleached blonde spiky mohawk and often wore a sleeveless shirt to show off his serpent tattoos. He had lean musculature, much like the rest of the gang. 

He muttered softly, “I’d like to cast a defensive spell upon Forktail, if possible, Clarice.” His crimson eyes were pleading as he stared her down with the classic puppy-dog-eyes look.

Clarice glared him down and scrunched up her nose. She hummed for a moment, drumming her claws upon the table, before sneering. “Ok, sure. But. That’ll aggro the thing on ya. Do you wanna take that risk, Brucey?” 

“I do. I can handle it,” he responded. 

The game continued with my character making it out, but just barely. The only reason Forktail lived was because I had Bruce’s drunk dwarf bard to help me out. Thankfully I didn’t need to use saving throws this time.

 I would never forgive her for killing off one of my experimental characters, which happened to be a dark paladin of sorts. I got called a big superhero-nerd for picking a paladin, but whatever. I still had Forktail, which was what mattered. 

Game night over, I wandered to my room, collapsing into my bed after a long day of partying and hanging out. Between our street prowling, we knew how to have fun, and made it a habit of pranking each other from time to time. I considered doing such a thing tomorrow, specifically to Clarice, because I knew she was being an asshole during the game tonight. 

Perhaps hiding in crow form and jumping out at her at an opportune moment… or a whoopie cushion, classic… or a ton of fake spiders. She pretended to not be all that afraid of them, but I knew for a fact that she was. I smirked to myself at the thought of revenge. 

Though, more serious matters did cross my mind, yeah. Earlier today, some gang members had been chatting about the vampire hunters, and how their activity was on the rise too. Could it be due to my kind preparing for… something? I’d run into a very few hunters on my adventures, and they seemed to avoid my gang for the most part. Perhaps rumor had spread that we generally targeted true street scum.

I shrugged to myself while laying there. Glancing to the woodsy-scented candle on my nightstand, I reached over and lit it up, enjoying the smell wafting through my room and letting out a sigh. Life would continue as usual for a while, but we couldn’t run from the looming change forever. 

Times like this were ones to cherish, and growing bonds was important. After a short rest, I approached my window, opening the curtains and smiling to myself. The night was beautiful, and I decided that I had time to enjoy it. 

Giving a wave to a few gang members on my way out, I exited our home and entered the crisp night air. Stars twinkled above as if in greeting, causing a shark-like grin to twist upon my face. The moon was but a thin sliver, however I could see extremely well out here. Since I was a vampire, my eyes were adapted to the darkness. Not to mention they reflected quite like a cat’s.

I spotted a squirrel darting this way and that, tilting my head and giving a watch for a moment. Other animals were fascinating, and with how busy I was, I never got to stop and just appreciate them. I really need to get myself a bearded dragon or something, I thought to myself. Would I have time, though, with this busy shit always going on?

Speaking of which, once again, my thoughts turned to the ever-growing threat of heavy battles, far beyond the usual city shit. I hated royals and the nobles that followed them, no surprise since that’s exactly what I fled from in my kingdom. Peace wasn’t going to last forever out here. 

My eyes turned toward an owl, who (hah!) was gazing off into the distance. I loved them nearly as much as I loved crows and lizards. That got me thinking, though. What would these changes mean for the natural world, anyway? Would the world really make as big of a shift as predicted?

My thoughts were interrupted by some footsteps, causing me to turn my head and look over my shoulder. Bruce was casually strolling along, giving a wave to me as he got closer. “Hey there boss,” he said softly. “Just came to check on you. Game night was a blast but you seemed… off today. Something on your mind?”

Moving over to lean on a tree for serious conversation, I nodded, pondering my response for a moment. “Ya… well. Ya know how much I hate royals and the bastard nobles that work for them. I just feel like something bad is coming.”

“Ah yeah. The worry that the world is ending. You think it’s legit? I trust your judgement boss, but I wouldn’t let it get to you too much,” he replied. 

I considered his words and let out a sigh. “Yer right. Bein’ all tense about it won’ get us anywhere. But I was that obvious, huh?”

Bruce chuckled and punched me lightly on the arm, glancing up to the stars and giving a nod. “You were. Let’s enjoy ourselves a bit before all hell breaks loose. Think the gang will be open to a beach day?”

“We’re fuckin’ vampires, Bruce, what is it with you and the beach? How much do you spend on sunscreen?” I laughed, shaking my head. 

“A shit ton,” he cackled, then considered my question. “I dunno. The scent of the ocean is always enjoyable. As is finding crabs under rocks. That sorta thing. The large waves tossin’ ya about can be fun too.” 

We chatted a bit more about the beach and other fun things to do aside from hunting widdle humans. 

The good times would last for a while yet, at least; the vampire wars didn’t hit until more than a decade later. But shit, when they did… everything went to chaos.

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