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Vampire Knight: Bonds of Blood

Vampire Knight: Bonds of Blood

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"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." - Albert Einstein Private Role-play

2,173 readers have visited Vampire Knight: Bonds of Blood since Nephilim created it.
Naga's Shadow, and Dynamite are listed as curators, giving them final say over any conflict & the ability to clean up mistakes.

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http://vampireknight.wikia.com/wiki/vampire_knight_wiki

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Introduction

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"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee
Theme Song | Five Finger Death Punch- Hard to See




In a distant time, humans and vampires fought, both believing themselves the superior race. Countless people died, humans and vampires alike, all in the name of a belief that was flawed. Both races believed they should inherit the earth, vampires believing they had a right to rule it and use human's as cattle while humans believed that they had a right to exist as much as a vampire. The two races could never see eye to eye, and as a result, a war was raged endlessly. Much to the dismay of humans, because they were simply that: human, they were on the losing side, their numbers quickly dwindling.

It became much so that they were almost considered extinct, however; there was a turning point for the humans. A vampire, one considered to be a progenitor and ancestor to their kind, felt pity for the humans. This ancestor saw something more than just food behind a human and had wanted to bring an end to the war, however; it was a dream that would never become a reality. Instead, the ancestor gave their life for the humans, giving them the opportunity to defend themselves against the vampires. But there was a cost. The humans, although just a handful, would be required to drink the blood of the ancestor, giving them the necessary strength and abilities to stand toe-to-toe with vampires. As a result, the humans experienced longer life spans, and on occasion, vampiric abilities such as strength and agility.

And for years the war raged. With humans having more footing in the battle, vampires were slowly losing their status' and soon, the war came to a stand-still. A treaty was made between vampires and humans, both agreeing to put an end to the war, if only for a temporary time. Hunters would be given the right to hunt a vampire who's status fell below a level D, often considered mad vampires by then and also vampires who would defy the treaties rules. Vampires, in turn, would no longer feed off of humans as a means of sustaining themselves for the lack of a loved one. In order to ensure that the treaty remained intact, a school was erected. This school was a boarding school of sorts, named after the one who built it in hopes of keeping the treaty alive and humans safe.

This school would house vampires and humans alike and divided by two different classes. The Day Class was considered for humans and hunters who attended the prestigious school while the Night Class consisted of the vampires. Although the Night Class differed greatly in their studies, the school had shown much resistance to the hostility and malevolent entities that would rather see the world burn than to share it with the enemy. Of course, most of the hostility came from vampires and the Day Class students that were from hunter families. Now, as a new school year begins, vampires have grown restless and have become fed up with the treaty. They want to annihilate the treaty, beginning with the object that stands as its testament: Cross Academy. Can those who attend protect the school, put an end to the war, or will they fail and the world be consumed by the bloodshed of the innocent?




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Erys Kuragari | Prefect; Dhampir | Played by | Nephilim

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Ava Ellsworth | Human | Played by | Dynamite

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Nikki Alistair | Vampire: Noble | | Played by | Naga's Shadow
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Jaspar von Nacht| Vampire; Pure-blood | Played by | Dynamite

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Morgan Alistair | Vampire: Noble | | Played by | Naga's Shadow

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Yuki Sou | Vampire: Noble | | Played by | Naga's Shadow

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Vincent Kuragari | Vampire; Pure-blood | Played by | Nephilim



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The Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“There is a certain comfort in routine; almost enough that I wish I had one.”


At first unnoticed by the mass of students milling about for the changing of classes, a sleek, dark-colored car pulled up to the front gate of Cross Academy. It was not, of course, a limousine—to draw that much attention would be utterly absurd. Rather, the vehicle was a sedan, of a medium size, and entirely nondescript. So nondescript, Ava often thought, that it was honestly a bit suspicious. Presently, the occupants of the back seat were Ava herself, a human girl of almost eighteen years of age, and her boss, oldest friend, and surrogate sibling (an odd combination perhaps, but surely not absurd), Jasper von Nacht.

No, if anything at all made this situation a little strange, it was the fact that Jasper—supernaturally beautiful as most of his kind were, learned beyond what she could hope to achieve in an ordinary lifetime, and currently sleeping—was a vampire. Now, naturally most human beings, including the majority of the Academy’s Day Class, would never believe that, but Ava knew better. Much better, in fact, as she’d been raised around his kind perhaps even a little more than her own. These days, the majority of the people she came into contact with on a daily basis were other then human. It was just the nature of the job.

He looked so young when he was sleeping—she could almost believe that he was just barely out of his teen years, when in fact his lifespan, and those of most of the Night Class, far exceeded what she would ever see. When he was awake, it was easier to believe that he had the weight of all those years on him—he conducted himself with a certain kind of studied dignity that she couldn’t replicate even if she wanted to. No, she preferred living a little more… loudly. Entirely figuratively, of course, as she was not the kind of person that shouted to achieve her ends.

The driver placed the car into park, and Ava sighed. That meant she had to wake him up—she never liked doing that, because he didn’t sleep enough as it was. Still, duty was duty, and hers was to keep him organized and on time. “Jazz. Hey, Jazz.” She reached out a hand and touched his shoulder, and deeply as he’d been slumbering, it took no more than that for his eyes to snap awake, clear as day within two blinks. He sat up, yawning and attempting to stretch his lanky limbs within the confines of the sedan, only to find himself thwarted by the seats or the roof every time. She laughed at him, of course, and he shot her a sheepish smile in return, but it wasn’t more than a few moments before he slid his ‘public face’ into place over his expression, and she knew it was time to begin.

He insisted on opening the door for her, though really, as she was the assistant here, it was probably something she should be doing for him. But Jasper could be surprisingly stubborn when he wanted to be, and this was one of those matters that she let him win, saving her fight for the things that mattered more… like getting him to take breaks. Hopping out of the car, she extended her thanks to Jasper’s driver, and they both headed for the campus. In Ava’s hands was a clipboard, which she now read from as they walked side-by-side onto the grounds. “Okay. So your first class is History—but it’s medieval Europe, so you can probably do some work instead of listening to lecture if you need to.” He probably knew more about that particular topic than the instructor, though she wasn’t sure why. “After that, you have a break period, so I’ve scheduled you to put in an appearance at Student Council, since it’s been a couple of weeks since you took care of that paperwork last. The Vice-President says it’s manageable, but he does need your signature on a few things. Then there’s lunch, and after that you have mathematics, which is your last class for the day on Tuesdays. The Headmaster has requested you, so I’ve temporarily penciled you in for after maths, but he’s flexible.”

Noting something down on the sheet in front of her, she slid the pen back into the clip. “I’ll meet you at the Student Council room after first period, but I have something to give Morgan first, from your father. Would you like to send a message as well?”

Jasper gave the matter some thought, but before he could answer, they were interrupted by a chorus of shrieking and yelling. Right. She’d almost managed to forget what a pain this first passing period always was—the Day Class were a little weird about the Night Class. She supposed it was kind of to be expected; after all, as far as the humans knew, there was a small, very exclusive group of almost universally gorgeous, rich, and mysterious people that went to their school, but took classes at night and wore white uniforms instead of black. It was bound to cause some questions, and apparently, that usually turned into… this.

Thankfully, Ava herself was wearing the Night Class uniform at present—the first time she’d shown up in public with Jazz wearing the other one, she’d nearly been throttled by some particularly overzealous female demanding to know what her business was with “The Prince.” Assault was frowned upon here, and the girl had been thrown out, but she’d spent no less than a week mocking her employer for the fact that he’d managed to earn a name like that. He was suitably embarrassed, which only made it funnier. At any rate, she’d rather be mistaken for one of the vampires than singled out as the only black-wearing non-prefect who got to talk to them. That was just asking for trouble.

The two in time reached the actual classroom building, and ushered themselves inside, the closing of the door cutting off the shouts with a decisive snap. “Please just ask him how he is, and inform him I’ve returned.” Jasper said it as though the conversation had not just endured a ten-minute interruption, and Ava followed suit.

“Sure thing, boss. Leave it to me.” Grinning, she took off through the halls. She wondered if Morgan would be in the usual spot, or if she’d have to ask around to find him. Jasper, meanwhile, made his way to class, finding himself the first to arrive, which wasn’t all that unusual. Ava was so efficient, she ran both her life and his better than most people managed just one. Smiling to himself at the though, he took a seat by the window, where he could see that it rapidly grew dark. Night was approaching.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"The dawn of a new day is often said to be the most beautiful time of day. I beg to differ. It's the twilight setting that manages to take one's breath away. It signifies the end yet also the birth of something new."




A gentle breeze fluttered through the Academy grounds. The sounds of life filled the vicinity as the air softly landed upon the students. It was cool, refreshing to the touch, and it seemed a bit calm. Moments like these were what Erys treasured most. It was a slight reprieve from the usual gaudiness the Day Class students usually performed. The shrieks, the screams, some students fainting; it was enough on most days that Erys managed to keep her calm about her. Not that she really had to try, she would usually let the Day Class have their fits before ushering them along. Tonight was no different. At the usual gong of the bell, the Day Class students swarmed the bridge that lead to the Night Class dormitory.

She could see the make-shift hearts forming in the student's eyes as they awaited the Night Class. If one had not attended Cross Academy, one would wonder why it is that the Day Class seemed so fond of the Night Class. It was simple really. The Night Class was full of beautiful people. As vain as it might have sounded, Erys couldn't help but shake her head at the students. They began to shove and push each other to get a better glimpse at the beautiful people who attended the Night Class, causing a few students to become angry with each other. Erys took this as her Que to step in and began to herd the students together. She didn't need any problems between the classes, especially if one of the students began bleeding because of their own stupidity.

Something soft landed upon her shoulder as she peered down, a smile etching upon her face. Deep blue eyes glanced back into similar, almost lighter, colored eyes. Yuri rubbed against Erys' face as she greeted the white familiar with a finger hooking under the fox's chin. She rubbed the familiar's chin as she returned her attention towards the students. She could hear the doors closing to the Moon Dormitory and spotted the first signs of life. There was only one vampire walking down the pathway, and a dead-give-away as to who it was. Crimson clashed with the bleach-white of the Night uniform along with obsidian locks. Vincent was never one to wait for the other vampires, much less walk with them towards the Academy. If he did, it was normally in the company of the only vampire he considered a friend: Ian von Nacht.

Erys could only shake her head at her brother. Not many people knew the two were related. As far as the vampire world knew, she was his fiancé , and in the human world, she was dating him. In Erys' mind, she was simply keeping the Kuragari family name within the family. She never had any inclinations towards the others, and certainly didn't have an interest in anyone at the moment. If she did, she wouldn't have agreed fully to the conditions it meant to be engaged. Although there was this small, tiny, part of her that knew she would eventually find someone to be with, however; in the meantime, she'll oblige Vincent. The hard part was that if she did, how exactly would he take it? She was brought out of her thoughts when someone screamed in what seemed like pure ecstasy. She cracked a small smile before pushing herself away from the crowd, keeping an eye on them from a distance. She'll allow them their fantasies for now, however; they would need to go back to their dormitory eventually.

She glanced around, watching as the Day Class continued to huddle together. She would have to make a round soon. Those students were notorious for being escape artists. The Day Class students were notorious for being escape artists and sneaking around the campus at night. Curfew was placed for them to keep them safe. They were not allowed to know the true nature of the Night Class. Perhaps it was this forbidden feeling that held so much awe and fancy for the Night Class. Within a few minutes, the sound of the Moon Dormitory's gates opening and closing signaled it was time for Erys to begin her duties as a prefect. The moment the Night Class entered the view of the humans, they would cause a ruckus.

"And the day is about to begin," Erys muttered to herself as she spotted the first Night Class student. Yuri merely laughed quietly, making sure she couldn't be heard by the ears of the humans. She was, after all, supposed to be just a fox that seemed to be domesticated within the grounds. Not that Yuri minded the slightest, the students tended to make a fuss over her and she liked the attention. Not to mention the free, and sometimes delicious, human cuisine they provided her with. Instead, she hopped off of Erys' shoulder and wormed her way through the crowd, making a bee-line towards her favorite person. The scowl on Vincent's face was priceless to Erys.

Erys had resisted the urge to laugh at Vincent when Yuri attached herself to him. His facial expression had twisted from it's usual calm facade, into one of sheer annoyance. Some part of her was glad that he was able to express more than just one emotion at a time and wished he would often share in his thoughts, however; she knew it would be against his entire nature. She sighed, running her hand against the hilt of Ulrik. There was no sign of needing to use him at the moment, so she opted to begin her duties as a prefect

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"Contrary to popular beliefe, I do enjoy certian things. Your company is decidedly not one of them."



Morgan was sitting down. Where was he sitting? In the top of a tree, to be precise, and he was watching the passing Night Class as they meandered towards the school buildings, the Day Class going nuts. There was a look of disinterest on his face. He often wondered just what made humans so fascinated with vampires, especially when they had no clue what they actually were. He sighed. From his vantage point, he could see the front gates, and saw the black sedan drive up, and could also see his cousin and the human girl emerge. Morgan couldn't quite place her name. He'd only spoken to her once that he remembered.

He allowed himself a slight smile. So it was that time of the year again. He shifted his gaze back to the Night Class as they began to enter the building. Most of the Day Class had begun to disperse seeing as the major crowd had gone through. He figured was safe to come down. Not that he had much interest to. He couldn't even remember the last time he actually paid attention in class. He swung down to the ground, shoving his hands in his pockets. He hated wearing the school uniform. But, he stuck to the rules, if only for his cousin's benefit. He walked slowly towards the bridge, and then turned swiftly to the left.

It wasn't the actual grave site, but there was a memorial set on the school grounds in honor of his father, mother, and two sisters. Morgan stood there, staring at the marker. He did this at least once a night, it was habit for him. Most people knew to look here if they wanted to find him so long as they knew the rumors. Morgan's head jerked upwards and he turned around. He could have sworn he felt someone looking at him, but as far as he could tell, there was no one there. He shook his head, and ran a hand through his hair.

"Get ahold of yourself, Morgan." He muttered.






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"He may never know that I'm alive, but that won't stop me from keeping an eye on him. Or on our cousin."



Nikki walked across the bridge alone. Her brother had almost spotted her. She'd forgotten how good his hearing was. She sighed quietly to herself and asked once again why she had bothered coming to Cross Academy, so close not only to her brother, but to her cousin Ian as well. And then she thought of her grandfather. He was the reason she was here, and the only reason at that.

Before she killed him, she was going to ask him why he did it. She wasn't sure yet if she was going to let him answer or not. She sighed again, and pulled her class schedule out of her bag. Her first period was History. To be more precise, it was medieval Europe. She raised an eyebrow. This would be an easy and boring class. At least so she thought. The minuet she walked through the door she found herself face to face, so to speak, with the devil himself.

Jasper von Nacht sat next to the window in one of the middle rows, next to another Pure Blood Vampire whose name she couldn't recall. She knew he was a Pure Blood, because she could recall seeing him in their company back when her family was alive, but they'd never been acquainted. She stood in the doorway, her heart hammering in her chest. She checked her schedule, and then the door, one more time. There was no mistake, this was her class.

Of course. Wonderful. This semester was about to get to be much more trouble than it was worth. She just had to have the same first class as Jasper. A muscle tightened in her jaw, and after nodding once to the both of them, she sat down in the first row, in the seat closest to the door. Her posture was tense, stiff. She locked her eyes onto the black board, focusing on keeping her breathing even. She would not let Jasper ruin her composure. She couldn't allow him to.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“All things in their time… or maybe a little bit faster, if I have anything to say about it.”


Ava hummed to herself, a pleasant little tune, as she tracked her way to the memorials that stood near the Academy buildings. It might have seemed a little strange, to have reminders of death so close to a place designed to celebrate life and coexistence, but she thought she understood. Though the was no information broker herself, she was nosy enough to find out the things that she really wanted to know, and Jazz wasn’t very good at denying her, besides, so she knew how the Alistair family had been killed, by whom, and why. She thought it made sense for the Headmaster to want to memorialize them here—they who’d died simply because they sought peace and the patriarch of their family didn’t.

She also knew, as several people did, that if she wanted to find the last surviving member of that family, this was the first place to look. It was a bit depressing, actually, if wholly understandable. Ava didn’t know what it was like to lose one’s entire family, and she sincerely hoped she never would, so she did not presume to understand what Morgan or Jasper or Erys or anyone else with dead family felt. Nor did she push them about it—certainly, she believed it was unhealthy to be sad all the time, but none of them really seemed to be. Jazz buried himself in his work and his obligations, Erys took solace in what she had left, and Morgan… well, she didn’t really know him well enough to say. Presumably, he did something besides stand there all day.

Though she was capable of moving very quietly, she did not bother to try and mask her presence in this case—he’d probably be able to smell her anyway. Besides, she wasn’t here to sneak up on him, if that were even possible. She came to a stop with the slight scuff of shoes over dirt, a good five or six feet behind him. She didn’t intrude on the space of the memorial itself—that wasn’t her business. Though she heard him speak, she pretended not to catch the words, and waited until she was certain he’d fallen silent again. “Mr. Alistair? Mr. von Nacht sent me, to inform you of his return.” The titles had always tasted strongly on her tongue, but she knew her manners—unless she was given permission not to use them, she used them. There were vampires easily-enough offended that they’d probably try and kill her for less. Fortunately, Jasper’s name meant a lot more than most in their world, and to do so was an action that would carry dire consequences. Still, better not to take the chance, however slim. Not that she thought his cousin was such a one, but… well, business was business.

“Also, this came from his father, Lord von Nacht, for you.” She held out the heavy vellum envelope, the yellow-white of the paper marred only by the wax seal of the House von Nacht—an ornate crest stamped into night-black wax with a silvery sheen to it. His orders usually came delivered like this when they were important. The less significant ones could be communicated electronically. It was obviously unopened; though Ava was a curious soul, and very interested in what he did for a living, she was far from stupid. That was the kind of curiosity that could get her killed—Jasper or no Jasper.

Ava waited in polite silence for a moment—she would not depart unless dismissed, in case he wished her to run a return message. She supposed that some people might find this kind of work degrading, or at the very least beneath them, but she’d never thought it so. And that had nothing to do with the difference between vampires and humans, either. She was well clever enough to have her own endeavors, perhaps even her own business. Enough hunter training to become one of them if she wished, even. But she didn’t—she much preferred this job. No two days were ever the same, and she’d gotten to see some interesting places and meet some of the world’s most powerful and influential people, to say nothing of the sheer variety of them that she interacted with. Plus, she was helping a friend. There was no better job than that.




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“There is… an odd sense of familiarity about this person. I wonder why?”


Jasper had just pulled his laptop from his school-issued bag and set it on his desk—intent on accomplishing something worthwhile during the class period—when the door opened again. Though he might not ordinarily have looked up at the entrance of every person who opened the door, he did this time, largely because of something that played almost uncomfortably on his olfactory receptors. The smell wasn’t offensive in any way, but it reminded him of something. The problem was, he couldn't say what. So he raised his head slightly, his pale grey eyes, currently a bit vermillion in the lighting, coming into contact with a darker-grey sort, something more like wet stone. Ah—it was the transfer student.

She seemed a bit confused, and checked the door before looking down at what must be her schedule. A bit understandable—Cross had a large academic building, after all, and it was probably best to assure that one was not entering the wrong room before one committed to sitting down. He returned the curt not she sent both himself and Vincent with a slight smile. Not much of a conversationalist, or perhaps a bit nervous given that it was the first serious day of classes this year? Either one made sense, and he did not dwell on the question overmuch, returning his attention to the screen in front of him. There would be time for proper introductions when class was over; for now, people were starting to file in more rapidly. Whatever the reason, the seats immediately near Jasper and Vincent filled up first, and the radius spread predictably outwards from there. He supposed it must be because most of those in the class were sociable and liked other people. He’d suggested as much to Ava once, and she’d laughed at him without saying why.

The teacher entered shortly after, and Jasper listened with half an ear as the class reading and assignment schedule was explained, and noted that their first essay, on the development of the feudal economic system and its connection to emerging vampiric hierarchies, was due in a month. Since he’d lived through this particular period in history, he opened a word document on his computer and began typing away, the soft clicking of the keyboard mostly inaudible under the sounds of the teacher’s voice. It was probably assumed that he was taking notes on the lecture, and that was fine—if it was not assumed, well… one of the unfortunate things about having power was that it made people afraid of you, and he knew nobody would think to question him about it.

As the class ended and Jasper closed his laptop, the majority of students started filing out. The pureblood himself, on the other hand, made his way over to the desk where the new student was gathering her things. Tapping her quite lightly on the shoulder, he flashed a bright smile. “Your pardon, Miss Morgenstern, but I don’t think we’ve met.” Something about that statement seemed… wrong somehow, but he couldn’t place why and so he ignored the niggling thought for present purposes. “My name is Jasper von Nacht,” he continued, holding a hand out for her to shake, as he understood that was a bit more comfortable for most people of this age than raising her hand to his lips would have been. “I just wanted to make sure that you were finding your first few days at the Academy satisfactory, and to offer to answer any questions you may have.” As Student Council president, it was important that he do everything in his power to make sure that everyone was happy here, and he took it quite seriously. In actuality, this particular obligation of his was one he undertook to remind himself why he bothered with all the others. He wanted the world to be a safe, warm place for all of these people, not just those born fortunately like him.

His mother had been like that, and it seemed that no amount of what he’d seen could kill the instinct in him, either.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"Why can he not just leave me alone? I cannot deal with these memories I swore to leave behind."



It was unnatural. Nikki swore she could hear every move Jasper made, even above the din of the classroom. She barely paid attention to the teacher. She wasn't here to pass a History class. She was too busy focusing on trying to not focus on the Pure Blood who sat four rows behind her on the other side of the classroom. It was maddening. She was also acutely aware of when he stood up, crossed the room, and tapped her on the shoulder. Even through the cloth of the school uniform, the contact sent sparks across her skin, traversing down her arm. Her breath hitched slightly.

“Your pardon, Miss Morgenstern, but I don’t think we’ve met.”

If only you knew, Jazz. She thought before nodding to him again. She didn't take his hand, afraid of what skin-on-skin contact would do to her composure. "No, we have never met face to face, Mr. von Nacht. I've heard of you, though." The lie tasted bitter on her tounge. Memories came flooding back, unbidden. Memories of blood and pain, followed by distant recollections of days long past that she had spent in his company.

Something in her chest constricted, and the back of her eyes burned. She had not been prepared for the memories to be brought back simply by seeing him again. She had told herself that she could handle it, that it wouldn't matter. She was a fool.

“I just wanted to make sure that you were finding your first few days at the Academy satisfactory, and to offer to answer any questions you may have.”

Her mind snapped back to the present, her eyes wide as they met his, a look of pain flashing through them before she steeled herself again. Inside, her nerves were reeling. Outside, she was calm, placid, distant. She wanted out of the room, to be away from him, to quash the urge to throw herself into his arms and tell him who she really was. But she had left Nikki Alistair behind long ago. She was no longer the helpless little girl that had to watch as her family was murdered, not being able to do anything about it.

"I'm afraid you're not the one who can answer my questions. And I would ask that you do not speak to me again." She clutched her books to her chest and spun on her heel, exiting the room. A sob caught in her throat. She couldn't cry, not here, not now. She forced herself to swallow it, to become as calm inside as she appeared on the outside. It was still a lot harder than she thought it would be.






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"Why on earth would he want information on them?"



Morgan didn't turn around when he smelled Ava, nor when she addressed him. He finally did, however, when she handed him the envelope. He was curious, and it made his nose itch. There was no doubt that Morgan enjoyed his job, he probably liked it a bit too much. But then, it seemed like it was the only thing he enjoyed anymore. He watched Ava's face closely as she handed him the envelope. She glanced at it almost with a longing, whether she knew she had done so or not, as he took it.

If there was one thing Morgan was not, it was stupid. He certainly wouldn't be an information broker if he was. He knew how to read people, read their cues, tell if they were lying, and find things in every gesture, every look, when no one else could. It was what made him one of the best in his line of work.

She's curious. She wants to know its contents, and why I do what I do. He noted the seal. Yet she's either smart enough to know better or just plain terrified. No, she's not afraid. Else she'd be more skittish. Smart, then. She knows how to survive in this world better than some Vampires. Impressive. He gave a slight smirk at his thoughts, and then addressed her. "Thank you. Tell my cousin to call me for a game of chess when he has a free night. I hate it when he's gone, I have no competition." Morgan nodded to her as a way of dismissal, and then walked towards the academic building.

He arrived in the library a few minuets later, the only other place on the school grounds you were sure to find him if you were looking, and went to a secluded corner. He broke the seal and opened the envelope. He knew it was rather important, his Uncle rarely sent him orders via his cousin's assistant. As he read through the contents, his bored demeanor became tense, and he frowned. His Uncle wanted him to gather information on two females.

The names on the paper were Ava Ellsworth and Erys Kuragari.

It made little sense. Ava was his son's own personal assistant, one that had been raised around vampires her whole life from what Morgan understood. His frown deepened. He would have to discuss this with Jasper. Digging into her life meant digging into his cousin's, and that didn't sit well with Morgan. As for Erys...

Morgan liked her, to an extent. Still, it had never stopped him from doing his job before. But he couldn't quite place the gut feeling he had, something akin to guilt. Maybe because it felt like he was betraying her trust? Morgan shook the thought from his mind. He didn't have time to be worrying about it. Besides, he would talk to Jasper before he actually went through with any of it. At least about Ava. He still hadn't made up his mind about informing on Erys. Yet he'd done it before. Morgan scowled, annoyed with himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Even the night, with all its beauty, can be deceiving."




Vincent stared at the board in front of him, waiting for the others of his class to appear. He had managed to remove the small white fox from his person before entering the building. There were times where he wanted to mutilate the familiar, however; it was hers. He wouldn't touch it if only for that reason. A soft sigh passed through his nose as he turned to watch the sun disappear into the thick blackness of the night. There were no stars out this night, keeping the sky from being illuminated. The only thing that did light up the sky, was the bright moon hanging in the air. It's light was the only thing noticeable. His attention was taken from the scenery at the sound of someone entering the room.

He glanced over, spotting the only other pure-blooded vampire: Jaspar. Although Vincent would never admit it out loud, he valued the other vampire's companionship. He had earned a place in Vincent's world to the point he considered Jaspar a friend. Though they had little in common, they shared one thing: responsibility. Being both members of the Vampire Council, they had a lot to balance. Not that it was a difficult thing to do, but there were moments when Vincent would wonder why the black-haired vampire would even put up with the Student Council. Whatever the reason, Vincent never had the desire to ask.

He returned Vincent's nod, but remained unwavering in his placid appearance. His attention was taken by another being entering the room. It was the new student, Nikki, if he recalled correctly. His eyes narrowed the slightest before returning to their normal, uncaring gesture. There was something odd about the girl, something he couldn't quite put his finger on. Somewhere in the confines of his mind, it irritated him slightly, if only very little. She was nothing important to him and she kept her distance from most of them to begin with. He had no other reason to interact with her nor did he wish to. He returned his attention outside, watching as the clouds rolled over the moon. Erys should be attending to the crowd by now.

Much like Jaspar, Vincent decided that the outside was more interesting than the lecture. He too had lived a long time, and most of the history that was covered was something he had experienced first hand. Some of the information was a bit off, but despite all of that, the historical records were about as close to the truth as he was a vampire. He sighed through his nose as he turned his crimson gaze back to the teacher. It seemed that class was over for now. His eyes followed Jaspar as the pure-blood stood and made his way towards the one known as Nikki. Words were exchanged, however; the response of the girl was far too indecent to have been spoken towards Jaspar.

He had nothing personal against the girl, and it was Jaspar's problem, not his own. The other pure-blood would deal with the arrogance of the girl as he saw fit. But knowing the raven-haired vampire, his heart wouldn't allow him to exact punishment. Vincent merely kept a stoic expression as his eyes followed the vampiress as she left. He then allowed them to drift back towards Jaspar, a delicate brow raised in slight, if noticeable, curiosity.




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Erys groaned in frustration. She had forgotten how easily it was to be overrun by the Day Class when they were intent on meeting with the Night Class. Although she had managed to get a few of them to return to their dorm without much problem, there was still the handful that remained. She should have a little talk with the Headmaster about getting her a potential partner for this. She was only one person and she could only do so much. Granted she was half vampire, she wasn't exactly keen on using that to her advantage. With a shrug of her shoulders, she began positioning herself in front of the crowd as more of the Night Class students appeared. It was then that the students became louder in their calls of affection, causing Erys to wince slightly and dig a finger into her ear.

She pulled out nothing, as expected, and flicked the remains off of her finger. Heaving a sigh, Erys fought back the urge to grab a nearby student and personally escort them back to the dorms. She couldn't understand why the Day Class was always so worked up for the Night Class. Sure, the Night Class was filled with beautiful people who had an air of danger about them, but was that all the Day Class was really attracted to? She snorted at the thought as she placed a hand on her hip. Taking her index finger and thumb, she placed them in her mouth and let out a sharp whistle, effectively gaining the attention of the students. Once they were all in their dorms, Erys was finally able to conduct her rounds.

The night was uneventful for the most part, a twig snap here and there left her on her toes though. There was a strange feeling in the back of her mind that she was being followed, however; she quickly deduced that she wasn't. She couldn't smell nor hear anything for the most part. The closest person in the vicinity was Yuri, her familiar. Everyone else was up in their dorm or their classes. A frown marred her face as something captured her attention. It was faint, but the soft padding of feet hitting the ground caused Erys to grab Ulrik from his holster and heaved it over her shoulder. She took off in the direction of the sound, stepping lightly as to not make her presence known.

"It's only me, Eri," Yuri spoke as she stepped out from the shadows. Erys frowned at her familiar as she replaced Ulrik back in his holster. She picked the fox up in her arms and held her at arms length, allowing the creature to dangle. "Is that any way to treat your friend?" Yuri stated as she wormed out of Erys' grasp and curled up on the girl's shoulder. Erys only grinned in response, hooking a finger under Yuri's chin and began to scratch it.

"Well, it's not every night my familiar decides to try and sneak up on me," She replied as Yuri rolled her blue eyes. "Did you find anything worth telling about?" she questioned her familiar. Usually, Yuri helped with Erys' prefect duties. Being the only prefect, she couldn't be two places at once, and with Yuri, she had an extra pair of eyes so to speak. Yuri could relay information on possible students out and about when they shouldn't be, and Erys could be in their location within two minutes. Having that extra burst of speed came in handy.

"Nothing. Although there was a strange interaction between the von Nacht and the new transfer student," she answered, causing Erys to raise a questionable eyebrow. The girl, Nikki, was new to the school. Was she already trying to cause trouble? This caused Erys to furrow her brows lightly. She shook the thought from her head. Perhaps it was just a misunderstanding, but regardless, Vincent could take care of it if something happened. Or the von Nacht heir himself which Erys was sure was more than capable of handling his own.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

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“I am… unaccustomed to being disliked so openly. Does it always feel so… disheartening?”


He was unsurprised that he had heard of him before. It was not arrogance that made it so—the simple fact of the matter was that most vampires, from the pure-bloods down to the unreflective level D’s, had heard of him. Part, perhaps, of the package when one led the Vampire Council, though to say he led it may have been a it of an overstatement. He was the head, but he chose to defer to the wisdom of others on matters in which their expertise surpassed his. This, he thought, only made sense. But even so, he was the voice and the face of the Council, and most of those with status knew him by sight as well as reputation.

It was, therefore, perhaps understandable that he didn’t quite know what to do with her request, so blunt in its delivery. He blinked, once, with the force of his surprise, and for once, the polite, decorous expression he wore shifted to one of outright confusion and a little bit of hurt. He had never to his knowledge been disliked before, at least not to his face, and he was afraid that he must have offended this woman somehow. Perhaps she disagreed with the Council policy on something? But it did not seem to be that—he was intuitive enough to understand that it was something about him, about Jasper von Nacht, and not about whomever happened to be in charge of the Council. That was the unexpected part.

Regardless, his face soon returned to its customary neutrality. “If that is milady’s wish,” he replied solemnly, and then adjusted the strap of his bag on his shoulder, waiting politely for her to exit and gain some distance before he did the same, though he shot Vincent a confused look on his way out. It occurred to him only then that his friend might have recommended more harsh treatment in return for the bluntness he had received, but he was disinclined to punish or harm people who were only being honest. It did not, he thought, foster the right kind of impression or environment. If what he could do to make her most at ease here was stay away from her, then this was what he would do. His mother had always impressed upon him that his life was not only to be lived for himself, but for others as well.

When he exited the classroom, it was to find Ava waiting for him. She flashed a bright smile, and he felt his uncomfortable mood lift a bit. That was what she could do that he’d never known anyone else to be capable of—Ava had only to smile, and suddenly it seemed like the world was not such a dark and bitter place after all. It was something he treasured and took great comfort in, protecting her as a brother protects his darling younger sister, or sometimes even as a father protects his daughter, to nurture that little piece of sunlight that he so selfishly wished to keep for his own. He needed it, most days, and she gave it so freely. It extended, along with a polite nod, to Vincent leaving behind him, but then she turned her attention back to her employer.

“Mr. Alistair has received your father’s message, and extends his invitations for chess, lamenting the lack of suitable opponents in your absence,” she informed him crisply, but her tone was a trifle amused. Both of them were grandmaster-level chess players, and watching them have a match was truly an experience, if one knew anything about the game. “Also, I know you were scheduled to drop into Student Council soon, but the Headmaster wants to see you now—apparently, he’s decided it’s more urgent than he thought, but you know how he is…” And he did—the Headmaster was a very excitable man, with boundless, and some would say misplaced, enthusiasm for his school and its students. He also tended to like trying to mix the classes as often as possible, which meant that everything he did created headaches for the Student Council and the prefects alike.

“I suppose it would be for the best to go see him, then,” Jasper replied, and fell into step beside her. Given how tall he was, she took about two steps for every one of his, but she was well-used to this by now, and he suspected all the running she did probably helped. He tried not to dwell overly long on the strange circumstances of Miss Morgenstern, but something about the situation continued to bother him even so…

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"Why on earth would he want information on them?"



Whether it was apart of his job, or perhaps the fact that they were cousins, Morgan could not atest. All he did know was that he was particularly good at reading Jasper. The younger Vampire was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, next to the door to the Headmasters' office when Jasper and aproached. Morgan's eyes slid over Ava, hesitating for a breif second. What on earth is so important about her that he needs to know? And how does he not already know it?

He then directed his attention to his cousin, who had stopped in front of him. "I need to talk to you, tonight, alone. As soon as you get the chance." There was an edge to his usual monotone. Morgan had spent the entire first period rifling through old family records, a personal logs in the library. He hadn't found much, but then, it was a school library, and he was only half-heartedly searching. He still wanted to discuss it with Jasper before he did anything. And after that one simple scentence, he left. He didn't wait for a response, but then, that was how he was. Or more so, how he had become.

He watched Ava from the corner of his eye as he passed. She was looking at something on her clipboard, seemingly ignoring him. But he knew better. If anything, the human could probably rival him at his job, if given the chance. The thought made him smile slightly. She was dutiful to her job, and it was by choice. Add to the the fact that she had a thirst for knowledge yet knew when not to persue it, as gven the example of when she had handed him the envelope earlier, she was a valuable asset to Jazz. As he walked down the hallway, away from them, he turned his head back, adding, "You know where to find me."

As he made his way out to the courtyard, he chanced by Nikki. The girl looked almost dejected, butpotted him, she steeled herself over. That surprised him. Usually when people at, it was because they had something to hide. But perhaps the girl only wanted to hide what she percieved as weakness. She began walking towards him, but passed him without a word. Their eyes met, and something in Morgan's memory snapped.

Those eyes. He halted, and then turned to look a her after she passed, but she didn't stop. He watched, even fter she had left his field of vision. Why did she seem so familiar? He wracked his thoughts. He was certian he'd never seen her beyond the school walls. Morgenstern...supposedly she's a Noble, but the name isn't familiar... He made up his mind. He headed back to the library. He'd meant to meet his cousin at the memorial, but Jasper would know to look for him here if he wasn't there.

He pulled out his laptop, and began to hack into the private vampire databases. It was something he did regularly, and most on the High Council knew it was him, so he wasn't entierly sure why they hadn't just given him access to it yet. It was probably some sort of old custom and he wasn't allowed since he wasn't Pure Blood. It didn't matter to him, it didn;t take much to crack their systems, even when they changed it.

He was going to find out just who this Nikki Morgenstern girl was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

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"Interesting, I wonder how he plans on pulling it off seeing as I am the only prefect, this will not be fun."




Vincent kept his gaze on Jasper as he addressed Nikki. A soft sigh escaped through his nose as a small smile cracked on his lips. Ever the so peaceful vampire, perhaps it was the reason why he truly considered Jasper a friend. He spotted Ava, Jasper's assistant, as she nodded in his direction. He returned the gesture with a short nod of his own before the two left. He remained in his seat for a moment longer before finally standing. He exited from the classroom, and instead of heading for his next class, he exited the school grounds. There was nothing worthwhile of the Academy, and truthfully, he didn't understand the notion of enrolling himself and his sister in the first place. With a deep sigh, he began walking the grounds, his ears and nose looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Just because his sister was the only prefect did not mean he would let her do it alone. Call him fasecious, but it was something he did on a nightly basis. And that was to make sure she stayed out of trouble. He wasn't worried about the humans more-so than what his sister would do to them should she become angered at something. And it wasn't too difficult to anger the Dhampir. He had done that once, and he'd do it again if given half the chance. Instead, he focused on what he was doing at the current moment until something poked at the corners of his mind. He opened it, allowing a calm voice to flood his mind.

Your human headmaster has something planned,, the voice spoke. This only caused Vincent to frown. He could almost hear the smirk in the next set of words as he turned towards the source. It will not end well for your sister. She is the only prefect, Shiranui continued, stepping from the shadows and standing in front of Vincent. The vampire stared at his familiar, the sheen of the wolf's white fur reflecting the moonlight in the process. What did the Headmaster have planned now? The last time the man planned something, the whole Day Class and a few civilians had to have their memories erased.

He stood, his face remaining like a blank canvass as Shiranui's golden eyes sparkled with amusement. His ears picked up a distant sound as the wolf turned towards the source, a disappointed look crossing his features. Vincent followed his gaze and picked up a particular scent. It appears that Erys has managed to find herself in a small predicament. He sighed, pushing all thoughts to the back of his mind as Shiranui disappeared back into the shadows. She could handle this on her own, he had a few things he needed to discuss with the Headmaster concerning this plan of his.

Erys, on the other hand, had been enjoying the silent night. That was until she found two Day Class Students running about in the thick forest. It didn't help that one of them had fallen and scraped her knee against a jagged edge of a rock. Thankfully, Erys had managed to control herself as she reprimanded the two students for being so careless. She then escorted, more like dragged, the two back to their dorms where she tended to the injury before seeing the two girls off to their rooms. She gave an annoyed sigh before setting off once more to the school grounds.

"Just one night, I'd like to have a peaceful round," she stated out loud, caring very little if anyone were around to hear it. She made her way into the Academy. She knew that the Night Class would already be starting their next class. She furrowed her brows a bit at the notion. It wasn't too long ago that the classes were merely just so that current events could be discussed. It wasn't an actual class for the vampires. Or at least that was what Vincent had told her. Still, there was a part of her that wished she could have been apart of the Night Class. She wouldn't have had to leave her brother's side if that were the case, however; it was at his insistence that she attend the Day Class. She, of course, respected that decision enough.

It was partly the reason why she was a prefect in the first place. Knowing both sides, she could at least attempt to play peacekeeper between the two. Sometimes it was successful, at other times she had to have help from Vincent and Yuri. Speaking of the little devil, Erys glanced to her side and noticed the white fox was missing. She groaned inwardly as she set off to find the fox. The lily was known to make mischief, especially by herself when roaming the halls. Which is what Yuri was currently doing. She stared up at the two von Nachts, watching as Ava and Jasper approached the door to the Headmasters room. She jumped upon Ava's shoulder and rubbed her face against the sweet-smelling girl.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

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“Oh boy. This might be the worst plan he’s ever come up with, and that’s saying something…”


The walk to the Headmaster’s office was much more eventful than usual, and it turned out that Morgan must have wanted to talk t the boss more than she thought, because he was there waiting for them when they arrived. Well, that was strange… he should have been able to pass that along to her when she saw him. Unless something had happened within the last hour or so to demand a personal visit—and that seemed like the best explanation. Morgan did not strike her as the kind of person who enjoyed wasting his time, nor the kind who would waste hers on purpose, so something new must have occurred. How strange.

Well, it wasn’t her business unless one of them wanted it to be, so she glanced back down at her clipboard, trying to determine when Jasper had a free hour or so, so as to actually be able to go and see his cousin. There were a couple things that she could move around, but it looked like the student council might have to wait another day before they saw their busy president. She had a stamp with his signature on it—she should be able to take care of most of it. Jasper liked to look over everything himself, but sometimes, he’d consent to let her do it and write up a report of all the things she’d approved in his name.

So when Jasper glanced at her, she knew the answer to his question before he even asked it. “You’re free immediately after this meeting, if you want.” He nodded his thanks, and then turned to Morgan, his expression vaguely troubled. She could understand why—his cousin didn’t usually do things like this. She’d say they were friends, but they didn’t often talk with each other about things important enough to venture all the way here for, not this urgently.

“Very well,” Jasper said with a slight frown. “I will find you as soon as my business here is concluded, Morgan.” he said to his cousin’s by now retreating back. Whether he heard or not was most likely irrelevant—she’d already provided the relevant information. It wasn’t like either of them expected Jasper to refuse. That kind of thing wasn’t in his nature. Ava hummed a small note in the back of her throat as she noted down the changes, in enough time to feel something small and furry settle on her shoulder and rub against her face. She smiled, though she didn’t look up from what she was doing.

“Hello, Yuri,” she greeted warmly, reaching a hand up to rub affectionately underneath the fox’s chin. She looked like an ordinary, tiny fox to Ava, but sometimes she almost swore she could see blue marks on her. Humans weren’t supposed to be able to tell familiars from animals, though, so she must be imagining it. Either way, it was time to go into the office now, but she let the fox stay on her shoulder. Ava had been seen carrying stranger things across campus, and the fox reminded her of its mistress, who happened to be Ava’s closest female friend.

The two stepped into the office and closed the door behind them, greeted by the Headmaster’s brightly-grinning face. An aging human with a grandfatherly demeanor, the Headmaster was well-known for being more than a little eccentric and also trying to get the vampire and human students of his school to interact more. Ava was practically his favorite person, because she also encouraged this—because how could she not? She lived it every day.

“Come in, come in, good to see you!” The elderly man offered them both cookies and tea, which Jazz refused but Ava happily accepted, taking notes as the two men talked. Apparently, the Headmaster was particularly excited this year, and really wanted an elaborate school opening festival. Talent shows, club booths, fireworks, a ton and then some of food, and—this was the clincher—simultaneous participation between the Day and Night Classes.

Jazz, obviously, resisted the suggestion, pointing out that the school had only one prefect, and it was unfair to ask her to handle a situation that potentially devastating. If even one human student started bleeding, it could spell disaster for the entire school. The Headmaster argued that he would be happy to appoint temporary prefects, Ava included, as well as perhaps even a few of the vampire students who wanted to volunteer. He’d also been in contact with the Hunter’s Association about extra security, and they were reluctant, but willing, to provide additional help. As Student Council President and thus a representative of the school to everyone, Jazz would of course be required to participate extensively, but it was the Headmaster’s goal that everyone should be required to do something, even if it was just working security or running a booth for their preferred club.

Ava could almost see the panic on her employer’s face, but of course he would never show such weakness. She could understand where she was coming from, of course—the potential for disaster really was high. She was about to suggest maybe something smaller-scale, or that wouldn’t last a whole night, but she abruptly closed her mouth when the Headmaster, whose face had become somber over the last part of the discussion, spoke again. “Jasper, believe me when I say I understand the risks. But… the world can’t continue this way forever, with this unhealthy separation between peaceful vampires and the humans who could coexist with them. I’ve worked my entire life for that coexistence. I know by your standards, it’s not a very long time, but I’m getting old, and the world still has so far to go. I want Cross Academy to be at the forefront of cooperation between humans and vampires, and I want some of it to happen before I die. It is my dearest, my only wish, but I cannot do it alone. Please, Jasper, Ava. Help me in this.”

Ava blinked, surprised to be addressed herself, as though she could do anything, but also a bit moved by the speech. It really was important to him, and not just some kind of insanity. She looked at her boss, and knew just from the look in his eye that he would do it. There was no refusing that. His shoulders slumping slightly, Jasper inclined his head, the strands of his ink-dark hair falling over his brilliant eyes. “All right,” he conceded. “I will do everything I can.”





Ava left Jazz shortly therafter, as his meeting with Morgan had been requested to occur without her presence, given the use of the word ‘alone.’ So instead, she decided she’d go out onto the grounds for a little bit, and found herself approaching the track. She’d changed into shorts and a t-shirt, more appropriate for exercise than the uniform, and took the opportunity to run a few miles around the asphalt. Normally, she’d do this on the grounds instead, as it was much more scenic, but she wanted Jazz to be able to find her if he needed to.

Finishing her laps, she moved off into the field for a bit and lay down on her back, staring up into the sky full of stars. This festival was bound to be interesting, and her thoughts were consumed with it, as well as what it might mean. Could entire populations of humans and vampires really live together? She liked to think so—her family has served the von Nachts for a while now, and she’d grown up around Jasper and his father. She didn’t feel at all afraid of them, even though she knew they were far more powerful than she would ever be. To her, they were just people. People that she loved, in fact. But she also knew that her life was the blinking of an eye to someone like Jazz or Morgan or even Erys.

Idly, her fingers stroked Yuri’s soft fur, the fox having decided to doze on her stomach. “I really hope this works,” she murmured to the fox, picking out Orion in the sky. The hunter constellation, Jazz had told her. Ava sighed, and tried not to contemplate her own mortality. The important thing wasn’t just to live, it was to live well. To get as much happiness and life out of your years as you could. Some people never understood that, and it always confused her.





“You wished to see me?” Jasper’s tone wasn’t at all unfriendly, but he did allow some of his confusion to seep through. Genuine emotional displays of any kind were the rare privilege of his few friends, if one wanted to look at it that way. Most everyone else simply dealt with his public face, which, while not deceptive, was certainly not all there was to him. He sat down across from Morgan in the library, folding his arms on the table in front of him, and waited patiently. His cousin was a methodical man, and tended to do things deliberately and with purpose. He suspected it helped him quite a lot in his trade.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

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"If I get my head torn off for this, blame it on your father."



Morgan's eyes didn't move from the screen as his cousin sat down across from him. For a few seconds, he continued to read, his eyes becoming increasingly frustrated, until finally he sighed, and slid it over. met eyes with the Pure Blood, and got right down to buisness. "I'm not normally one to divulge details of my job, but this...requires more than the usual tactics. But, before I get into that..." He turned the computer around so that Jasper could see it. It was Nikki's file, her records, and so on. Beside it was a list of every Noble Vampire that was known to the Council. "There are no living Noble Morgensterns anymore. The last one was killed in a Hunter attack more than fifty years ago. I was also able to determine that most of her information was forged. That being said, I want to knw who she is and why she's lying. But that can be a project for another day." He turned the computer back around, and shut it down, gathering his thoughts before he spoke again.

"Your father has asked me to gather intel on two people. One is liable to get me into a situation where my head is ripped from my shoulders, seeing as I highly doubt that Vincent will be all that pleased that I'm digging around on Erys than I already have." He exhalled through his nose before continuing. "The other person he asked me to inform on Ava Ellsworth. Do you have any idea why he would ask that of me? I would have thought that he already had all that information, considering she was raised by your family, for the most part."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

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"This will not bode well, but if it is as you say I guess I have no other choice now do I?"




Yuri hummed contentedly upon Ava's shoulder as the human girl acknowledged her. She mewed in response, deciding to stay quiet in the process. She sat on Ava's shoulder as the girl entered the room belonging to the Headmaster. She glanced at the aging man, and if she could have smiled, she would have. Instead, she opened the link between Erys and herself as Jasper and the Headmaster began talking. A frown crossed Yuri's face as he mentioned an opening festival of sorts. All of the information she was processing was being relayed back to Erys, who had a scowl on her face.

Was the Headmaster crazy? Sure, asking the Hunter's Association for extra security would help out immensely if she agreed to do it. This was crazy! Erys rubbed the side of her temples as she tried to suppress the on-coming migraine she was receiving. She shut the link off between her and Yuri as the Headmaster finished the conversation. Yuri's tails swished in a curious manner, a sly smile spreading across her lips. This would be an interesting festival to say the least, especially if Erys and Vincent were to be involved. The latter would be the most interesting though. Yuri allowed the smile to spread even further as the wheels in her mind began to churn.

Instead, Yuri remained at Ava's side, even when the human went on a run around the track. She laid on Ava's stomach, softly purring underneath the night sky. Her ears perked up when Ava spoke. She turned to stare at the girl, a soft, knowing look fluttering through her eyes before quickly disappearing. "It will work Ava! Don't worry about it too much. Besides, with the extra security from the Hunters will be an added bonus. It will go smoothly," she stated, trying to calm the human girl's nerves. "Besides, I think it'll be interesting to try and get Vincent and Erys to join in. Although Erys, if you coax her into it, she won't be able to say no to you," she continued as she rubbed Ava's cheek.

Erys walked out of the building, satisfied that everything was in order and that the students were safely in their dorms. A scent wafted into the air, a very familiar one that only caused Erys to smile. It seems that Ava was out and about. She contemplated joining the girl to see how she was doing, however; a wave of fatigue crossed her. Shaking her head, she decided against her judgement and followed the scent to where she would find Ava. It didn't take her long at all, and there in the clearing lay the von Nacht assistant. And it appeared Yuri was with her as well.

"Ava," Erys called out, letting her friend know she was in the vicinity so as to not startle the girl. She then made her way and laid down next to Ava, staring up at the sky in the process. The constellations, she never cared much for them even when Vincent tried to show them to her once. He had spoken that it was important to know where the stars were and how they were placed. It would let her know something, she couldn't recall. She had fallen asleep during that lecture. "What are you doing out here? I thought you would be with Jasper," she questioned, her eyes never moving from the sky.

Vincent closed the door behind him, leaving the Headmaster's office after a lengthy talk. Somehow, the old man managed to drag the ever reluctant Kuragari heir into attending the festival. His reasoning would be that Vincent could help out Erys while keeping an eye on his fellow vampires. After all, most of the Night Class was mad up of Nobles and Level C's. If they gave too much trouble, Vincent and Jasper (assuming the von Nacht would exercise that right) could beckon the lesser vampires into obeying. It wasn't something Vincent liked to do to begin with, despite the way he handled things in the council.

This was different.

He didn't want to use force if there was a reason not to to begin with. He sighed through his nose, clear irritation radiating from him as he made his way towards the dorms, however; particular scents filled his nose. His sense of smell was greater than Erys', not simply because of his status, but due to his age as well. Regardless, he recognized them all, one belonging to the von Nacht heir, one belonging to his sister, and the other two belonged to the ones that Jasper associated with. He contemplated whether or not to seek out the scents, but decided against it. There was no need for him to be anywhere, and he could do a bit of planning for the up-coming festival. To say he wasn't happy about it was an understatement. He loathed the idea more-so right now than anything else. The Headmaster would pay for this...eventually.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

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“What could the meaning of this possibly be?”


Jasper read over the files on the screen with evident perplexity. This couldn’t possibly be connected to the fact that Nikki hadn’t wanted to talk to him, could it? He found it difficult to imagine so—he was not the kind of person who thought himself at the center of the world, and so it seemed more likely that the fact that it was Nikki Morganstern, who seemed so familiar, who apparently wasn’t who she said she was had to be a coincidence. But… his father, in the years when he was still completely stable, had taught him not to believe in coincidences—they were the explanatory tool of people who simply lacked all the relevant information. Even so, he could not see how these things could be connected.

Perhaps Morgan would be able to find the answer, and tell him when that happened. So Jasper offered little comment, pursing his lips slightly and nodding to show that he understood, but had nothing to offer by way of answers. The topic shifted, then, and though Jasper was a bit surprised to hear what he did, he might have been less so than he was supposed to be.

And exhale that would have been a sigh for anyone else passed through his nose, and Jazz ran one hand down his face, leaning back further in the chair and thinking. He used one of his feet to tip the chair back onto two legs, keeping it perfectly balanced there as he stared at the ceiling for a few minutes. “Regarding Erys,” he said first, because that was the easier point to deal with, “he probably wants a progress report. She’s the only one of her kind, and… she bears certain similarities to someone.” Morgan was not old enough to have known Jasper’s mother, but there was a sort of resemblance between the two that probably drove his father to pay more attention to her than was strictly healthy for a man already somewhat less than balanced.

“If it is not too much trouble, don’t give him anything important. If Vincent becomes an issue, let me know, and I will speak with him.” Vincent understood the nature of Jasper’s position when it came to his father. As the man who had sired him, Jasper was bound by custom and convention to not act against his father directly, even in those instances where Heinrich did things he liked less than most. His only recourse was to make sure his father held as little power as possible. Heinrich was not an evil man or even a bad one, but he was no longer himself. He hadn’t been since Elsa’s death. Vincent would understand that it was impossible to outright cancel the request, and hopefully forgive both himself and Morgan for that.

“As for Ava…” Something in his chest twinged uncomfortably. Really, the lengths he was willing to go to in order to protect that girl were extreme, but nobody but him understood why. It was simple, really—she had saved him, without ever being aware of it. He owed her more than his life. It made this balance between obedience and protection remarkably difficult to strike. “I’m sure you’ve noticed the way she smells? My father has done some tests on her blood, and the results have been his current obsession for a number of years now. It’s unclear why she’s different from other humans, and I expect he hopes that I’ve been withholding something that you can convey to him and thus provide the answer. I haven’t, but I doubt that telling him alone will make him believe it. Just… be careful with her, please, and if you do discover anything aide from the obvious, I’d appreciate it if you’d run it by me before you report to him.”




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“You know, this might not be so bad after all…”


Ava chuckled at Yuri’s words. “I might be able to get Erys to do something with me, but I don’t think anyone could convince Vincent that it was a good idea to participate,” she confided with a small smile. Sometimes, she wanted to try, just to see what he would do. In many ways, Vincent reminded her of how Jazz used to be, before she got to know him. There was that same cold exterior, something she honestly found a bit sad. She wanted more than she probably should to get underneath it, but that was a thought she would keep to herself. She hadn’t realized how much danger she was in when she continued to push on Jazz’s barriers and walls, and in the end, she’d been lucky more than anything that he’d made her his friend instead of his victim.

Perhaps in retrospect provoking him wasn’t the best idea I ever had, but it did work. It probably wouldn’t work twice, but still. She couldn’t help the urge to try and get through to people; it was basically hardwired into her system.

A voice startled her from her thoughts, and she sat halfway up to glance over at Erys and shoot her a bright smile. Right—she probably shouldn't think too much about Vincent. It tended to remind her of her stupid crush, and that was so wrong there weren’t even words for it. Not least of all because he was engaged to her best friend. Ava was not ever going to be that person. So she banished the wayward train of rumination and focused on the friend in front of her. “You know Jazz, he’s busy from dusk till dawn and then some. He’s in a private meeting right now, so here I am.” And now she was glad she was; there was something about Erys that made Ava feel like smiling. Perhaps it was only that they were such close friends, perhaps it was a feature of Erys herself. Either way, she was pleasant to be around, in Ava’s opinion.

“Actually, now that you’re here, I was going to ask you something about this festival….” Ava’s smile was full of mischief and life—she suspected Yuri had kept her master informed about the situation, so it would save her the trouble of explaining anything. But she wanted to play with her best friend, and this was the perfect opportunity to ask.





Exactly two weeks later, the evening of the festival came slowly and clearly. They’d needed to hold it at night, of course, to accommodate the needs of the vampires, but for the Day Class, it just added another level of exotic flavor to the proceedings. The area was well-lit with paper lanterns, throwing flickering illumination over the various club booths, food tables, the impromptu dance floor, and of course the outdoor stage, set up on the grounds. The red and yellow leaves of autumn were out in full showing, lending the whole thing a sense of autumnal mystery. The moon was full and the stars clearly visible, the air crisp, but not too cold. It was, in a word, perfect for its purpose.

Most of the students had dressed in their best, as well. Ava herself, as a highly-visible representative of the school, basically had to be, as did Erys as a prefect and Jazz as a member of the Student Council. Her own dress was predominantly white and silver, the skirt of it shorter in the front, with the extra length in the back being predominantly lace. The sleeves, cast off the shoulders, were bell-shaped and extended, the laced bodice largely satin. It was something she’d worn for some formal event or another before, chosen by one of Jazz’s people and not herself. She didn’t see an issue with wearing it again, and it was obviously nicer than anything she’d pick for herself, so here she was. Her hair was pulled into a simple bun on her head, a few strands left to brush her shoulders in the front. Compared to some of the other people she saw walking around, it was positively understated—some girls were wearing full-on ball gowns, even.

The Headmaster was in attendance, walking around in quite the dapper suit and conversing with basically any student he came across. She hadn’t bumped into Jazz since she let him at his quarters earlier in the day, but it was evident that all the hard work he and the Student Council had put into this was really paying off—everything was amazing. Minus the occasional fainting spell induced in a Day Class student, everything was going smoothly, also: she could even see some members of different classes talking to and sitting with one another. The Hunters’ Association members were around, but dressed to match the students and occasional family member, and thus they were hard to spot, which was good in a way.

Presently, Ava made her way backstage, holding her violin case in one hand. She just had to wait for Erys to arrive, and their duet could begin. They’d picked a lovely piece and practiced almost a fortnight, and Ava personally thought the results were impressive. She was also looking forward to hearing Jazz play—he was simply amazing, as far as she was concerned. It was him that had inspired her to pursue music, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"If I were the rain that binds together the earth and sky, who in all eternity will never mingle, would I be able to bind the hearts of people together?"


Morgan stared at the people in the crowd. The event was spectacular, to say the least. He tugged at the ends of his suit. He was uncomfortable in this sort of crowd. He never was one for big parties. It didn't help that female Day Class students, at least the ones who struck up the courage to actually speak to him, kept coming up and asking to talk to him. He entertained a few, but for the most part, they gave up after he simply ignored their questions. One asked him to dance, to which he flatly refused.

The girl had left, crestfallen. Morgan could only thank god he didn't have the group that Jasper had. Morgan sighed, looking around for his cousin. He either hadn't arived yet, or he was somewhere out of veiw. Morgan watched as Ava walked backstage. While he had gone through with his assignment, he did it with a heavy heart. He didn't dig very deep in to her life, and what he reported was only her day-to-day doings, for the most part.

Nikki was standing as close to the door as she could without looking too obvious. Somehow Ava had managed to drag her here. It had taken some prodding, but after the mention of Jasper playing the piano, Nikki had reluctantly agreed. She had returned to her room to change. It wasn't her most fancy dress, but it was the nicest one she had that still covered up the scar on her chest. She sighed, feeling naked without her sword at her back. She was also extreamly uncomfortable with so many humans around, especially the males who seemed intent on asking her to dance. After turning down a few people, she found a table and sat down, trying to stay in the shadows.

"Mind if I join you?" Nikki glance up to see her brother looming over her. She hadn't even noticed him approached. She glanced away from him and shook her head once before speaking. "I would prefer to remain alone, yet I cannot stop you." She watched as Morgan sat down, and for a while the two didn't speak. During that time, she noticed that the human males left her alone, and the females were keeping their distance from Morgan. A smile etched its way onto her face. "Now I see why you came over." Morgan returned the smile, though not directly at her. "Just keeping the wolves at bay, Ms. Morgenstern."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Why did I listen at all? even though you'll enjoy yourself?"




Two weeks.

How time seemed to fly when you weren't paying attention to it. This had been the case for Erys. Somehow, Ava managed to convince, with a bit of help from her ever dutiful familiar, Erys to attend one of the talent shows. While Erys wasn't one to shy away from playing in public, doing something like that was a bit...much? She didn't know, not to mention she should be patrolling the grounds as a prefect. Instead, here she was standing in front of a mirror adorned in a plain black dress. It wasn't anything extravagant, not like what most of the Day Class students were wearing, and she was content with that.

Vincent, on the other hand, was not too thrilled about his choice of attire. Erys had made him wear a suit that looked completely ridiculous, especially for his standards. It didn't help that she pulled his hair back into a ponytail, allowing some loose strands to cover his face in the process. His outfit made him look like someone's butler if anything, and that did not sit well with Vincent. He, however, metaphorically, bit his tongue and wore the outfit if only to please her. He had left long before Erys had and was already mingling with the crowd.

Erys took a deep breath and released it slowly. Although she was supposed to represent her status as a prefect, she hadn't particularly took care in her outfit or her appearance. The dress itself wasn't too casual, but it still held as much. Satisfied, she made her way towards the open stage where Ava was surely waiting for her. The music piece the both of them had decided upon was something they had practiced on the day after Ava convinced Erys to do the duet with her. She couldn't refuse the Ellsworth girl, and she'd fail miserably if she tried. She chuckled softly to herself as she greeted a few of the students and ignored a few that were feeling bold.

It didn't take her long to approach the stage and walked backstage. Immediately, she spotted Ava with her violin case, waiting in the back. She waved towards Ava, weaving her way towards the girl. Once she was beside Ava, she smiled brightly. "Are you ready for this? We are the second performance," she stated as she glanced from behind the curtains. She spotted the Alistair vampire and the Morgenstern vampiress sitting together in a table, both male and female students keeping their distance from the two. It was evident on their faces though that they wanted to converse with the two vampires.

Vincent sat not more than three tables away, face buried in a book that had no particular meaning to him. He was only here to watch his sister's performance with von Nacht's assistant, something he was expecting. Although he would never admit it outloud, music had always been something he enjoyed in his life. Granted, music itself was a dying form of art that seemed repetitive over the current years, hearing something new would be intriguing. He knew Erys played the piano, and had mentioned that she would be doing so with Ava during the show. Ava, however, would be playing the violin.

Jasper would also be attending the show, playing the piano as well. At this, Vincent cracked a very light smirk. It seemed piano playing ran in the family somewhere down the line. They might not seem so, but a few generations down the line linked both the von Nacht's and the Kuragari's, something that had interested Vincent at one point before the untimely death of his father. His eyes roamed the area, spotting the Hunters who were attending, blending in with the students. Some seemed genuinely glad to be here while others appeared irritated and ready to leave.

Vincent only sighed as he closed his book, eyes fixed on the stage as Erys and Ava were next to be called.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“Showtime!”


Ava grinned over at Erys when she arrived, in high spirits. She was a smidge nervous about playing in front of so many people, but she knew they could do it. If she made any mistakes, she knew Erys would know how to keep on going anyway, and that was reassuring. She’d spent hours practicing this because she didn’t want to mess anything up for her friend, so she also had some confidence that she’d be able to pull off her end of things all right. The first performance seemed to be someone singing, and they were pretty good, earning themselves a round of applause before it was time for the two girls to step onstage.

Ava took the opportunity to prepare, sliding a block of resin along the white horsehair strings of her bow. The violin itself was a Stradivarius, something she would never have dreamed of owning for herself in a million years, but Jazz had given it to her for her last birthday as though it were hardly remarkable. The gesture had reduced her to tears quite unexpectedly, at least until she’d started laughing at the look on his face. He’d had no idea what to do, having clearly not expected her to start weeping. He’d been somewhat mollified when she explained the concept of ‘happy tears’ though how something like that was completely new to someone who’d lived as long as he had was a complete mystery to Ava.

No sooner had she finished with her tuning and preparation than the two girls were called on stage. Taking hold of Erys’s hand for a brief moment, Ava gave it a confident, friendly squeeze, imparting her well-wishes with just that, since words weren’t the best of ideas right now. The two crossed onto the platform, Erys taking her seat at the piano and Ava standing just a little ways in front of it and off to the side. The song, one they’d chosen for the fact that it seemed to convey a lot of emotion and skill without being over the top, started with Erys, and Ava relaxed into the feeling of her friend’s lovely music, closing her eyes and lifting her violin to her chin.

The bow drew across the strings in the first mournful note, and just like that, the two of them were off I their on world, where it was just each other and the music. Their performance was perfectly-times, the shifts in the melody occurring at just the right places, as though they were each reading the mind of the other. Ava felt a little like she was floating away on a raincloud, but then, music had always been like that for her. She remembered with fondness the first time she’d ever heard a classical piece on the piano, and how she’d wanted more than anything else to be able to do that. As it turned out, her short fingers and small hands were much better suited to the violin, so Jazz taught her how to play that instead, but she was always and still taken with the multitonal capabilities of the piano. Erys played very well.

The song drew to a close, fading on her last note, and she bowed before the audience, gesturing over to Erys as the applause grew louder, and the two headed backstage, only to find that Jasper was already there. He looked put-together in his suit, which he found a little bit funny considering she always had to do his cuffs for him, but he was smiling proudly at her, and it made her feel all warm inside. It was a student’s biggest praise to make their teacher proud, wasn’t it?

“I am not sure how to follow a performance like that,” he said graciously, “The two of you were truly something to be heard.” Ava smiled brightly and poked him in the shoulder.

“Don’t be modest,” she scolded, “You’re much better than I’ll ever get to be.” She had no idea how long he’d been playing, only that she found it always absolutely entrancing when he did. “Stick around, Erys, it’s really something special.” Jazz cleared his throat uncomfortably, and she could tell from the slight pinkness to his cheeks that she was embarrassing him. This was another of those faces of his that he didn’t let most people see, and she had to say, it was one of her favorites—it made her feel like she’d accomplished something, to make him all flustered. She figured it must be a sibling-like thing, though she’d never had a brother to be sure.

Jasper was spared any further indignity when he was announced, and he smiled apologetically at both women, bowling slightly and taking his leave. Ava lingered backstage, inclined to watch from here rather than out with the crowd. She glanced over at Erys, eyes bright with her excitement. She hadn’t heard this in, what? A year, at least, and even then he’d only played to help her tune the Strad. He was just so busy, he never had time for his hobbies.

Jasper sat down at the piano with what he imagined must be the feel of a man in the desert come to an oasis. There were eyes on him, of course—that was rather the point of a staged performance. But it was so easy to forget that, to imagine that he was just back in his home, many years ago, playing for his mother, or one of his cousins, or more recently, for Ava. The song he chose was an old one, one that he believed had been Nikki’s preference. His mother had preferred Vivaldi, and Ava liked Chopin. Naya, he remembered, liked the aggressive style of Beethoven. This one, though, took him back more than a century, to lazy summer afternoons at the manor, filled with the haze of family and warmth, and a little girl who’d looked at him with large puppy-eyes until he’d sighed, closed the book he was reading, and taken her hand, leading her over to the piano bench and sitting her in his lap, letting her strike whatever keys she’d wanted and building a melody out of the ones around them, until the music was theirs and she was laughing with the delight of it all.

He missed his family, so very dearly.

The song came to a close, and Jasper stood, bowing to the audience, and departed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"He plays as though he lived at the keys."
"Why, of all the pieces, why did he have to choose that one?"


Nikki's eyes followed Jasper from the minuet he stepped onto the stage, and began to play. It only took a few measures for her to recognize the piece. She sat up straighter, and she was transported back in time.

"Jazzie! I wanna play the piano! You're better at it that Uncle! Please?" A very young Nikki tugged at the sleeve of her cousins' jacket, pulling his attention from the book open before him.

"Not now, Ki-ki, I'm very busy at the moment. Perhaps later, alright?"

The little girl puffed out her cheeks and pouted. She also stamped her foot. "No, I wanna play now, Jazzie! Please, please, please? I promise I'll leave you alone afterwards, just play me one song!"

Jasper gave a light sigh, but ultimately gave his little cousin a smile, leading her over to the grand piano. Together, with Nikki on his lap, and the two played for over three hours together, Nikki striking out random notes while Jazz played the actual tune around her.
It was one of her fondest memories she held of Jasper, back when she had called him "Jazzie", and perhaps it had been the moment she truly began to love him.

The song ended, bringing her out of her memory, and without really realizing it, Nikki began to cry. A sob wracked through her, and when her brother turned to her, she stood up and fled the room, her feet taking her away. She didn't know where she was going, and she didn't really care one way or the other, she just knew she needed to get away from that crowd.

The young vampire found herself in front of the fountian in the courtyard, and she collapsed to her knees in front of it, wrapping her arms around herself as she sobbed. Her shoulders heaved and her whole body shook with all the sadness and the misery she felt at being so close to the ones she loved, yet it was like she didn't exist. It was her choice, she knew, but that didn't make it any easier. If anything, it made it harder.


Morgan watched as Nikki stood and fled when he turned to ask her if she was alright. He contemplated following her, but thought better of it. He knew from personal experi were caught in the throws of misery were generally best left alone until they came forward to bring the problem to someone else. He returned his attention to the stage, and after some thought, he walked over to it and wandered backstage where he found Erys and Ava. He nodded to the both of them with a slight smile before saying, "The two of you played wonderfully. Ms. Ellsworth, allow me to say that you are excellent at playing harmony. I would very much like to hear you accompany the piano some time."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Tears are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign that sometimes, it takes even the strong to be tired."




Erys returned the grin Ava sported. She had confidence that Ava would perform wonderfully, given the rigorous practice the two of them went through the last six days. Not to mention Ava was already a wonderful violinist. They should do this more often, although being the only prefect, and spending time with her brother would probably interfere. She needed to open her schedule up a bit if that were the case. Her dear old brother could do without her for a few days. She missed spending time with her friend and she needed her companionship every now and then.

She watched as Ava tuned her violin while her eyes kept forward, watching the first performance. It was a student who had a rather decent voice, if she said so herself. She should have performed instead, but there was no use in that now. Ava and herself had already chosen what they were going to do and there was no point in taking it back. With that in mind, their names were called to the stage. Erys turned to Ava as the girl grabbed her hand and gave a squeeze. She returned the gesture with a little more strength before walking out onto the stage and approached the piano. She tapped on one of the keys, making sure that the piano was tuned properly before taking her seat.

Taking a deep breath, Erys started off the duet, her fingers gliding softly across the keys. A few seconds in, Ava began her part, pulling the bow across the violin and producing such a soothing sound that Erys was half tempted to stop just to listen to Ava. Instead, she allowed a content smile to cross her features. This reminded her the first time she ever laid eyes on a piano. She hadn't known what it was, however; it was her father who had played it that drew her into it. She could still see the him smiling as he sat on the piano, tapping softly as he gestured for her to sit with him.

If it hadn't been for the fact that she was out in public, Erys might have allowed the emotions that they were conveying through the music to overwhelm her. The song drew to it's finale as Ava finished it off. She stood from her spot and bowed along with her friend as the audience applauded. Her eyes scanned the area and noticed a particular person was missing, causing a frown to briefly appear on her face. Where did Vincent run off to? Without a moment to think about it, she and Ava were backstage once more, only to be greeted by the sight of Jaspar. He gave the two praise, causing Erys to raise a brow.

"Modesty doesn't suit you, and besides," she paused, glancing at her friend before returning her attention towards Jaspar, Vincent tells me that you've played for quite some time. He...misses it," she found herself stating before glancing away. She merely shrugged her shoulders at the notion before Ava spoke. Something special, she said. Erys gave Ava a curious glance while noting the pink hue dusting the von Nacht heir's face. This only caused Erys to chuckle softly. She could see the accomplishment on Ava's face, it was something she herself knew very well.

Erys merely listened to Jasper's playing. It was something, unusual, to say the least. She could feel that there was something more meaningful to the music than what the others were hearing. That was something she could relate to. Once he was finished, Ava and herself found themselves in the company of Morgan. She frowned slightly. It was a known fact that she and Morgan butted heads more often than battering rams. For now, she would keep her composure, after all; he had complimented Ava and herself.

Vincent had left moments before Ava and his sister were to perform. The persistent Day Class girls, and boys, were trying to capture his attention, and he was growing irritated by it. He was here to watch a performance, not be harassed by the humans, and occasional vampire. Instead, he ventured far from the happenings, to a secluded spot where he was content to let his mind rest for the moment. His hearing picked up the performance he assumed to be between Ava and his sister, and the resulting piece was pleasant. He leaned against a tree, allowing the music to flow while enjoying the solace.

That was until something, or rather someone, stumbled upon his sanctuary. He glanced over and spotted the Morgenstern vampire, collapsing in front of the fountain of the courtyard. A frown marred his face when the scent of something salty assaulted his nose. Was she crying? This only further caused his brows to furrow as he contemplated leaving. He didn't need to be around such things, however; something was eating at the back of his mind. With an irritated sigh, he pushed himself away from the tree and walked somberly towards Nikki. He knelled down, grabbing her arm in the process, gently, and lifted her up.

"Tears are meaningless when there is no one around to see them. There is no shame in crying in front of others," he spoke, unsure of why he was trying to console the vampire. Spending too much time with his sister and her friend was making him soft. Or perhaps there was another meaning to it. He tilted her head so that he could see the tears falling from her eyes and wiped them away with his thumb. Once that was done, he released her face, his crimson eyes remaining boring into her's still. For some reason, he felt that he wouldn't mind her repercussions should she have them for his actions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“My mother used to say that the ones we love are never truly gone… that they live in our memories until the end of time itself.”


When Jasper exited the stage, ceding the way for the next performance, it was to discover that Ava and Erys were still present, and that Morgan had joined them. His cousin was just complimenting their recital, and Ava smiled, inclining her head with a fairly even mix of happiness and politeness. “I’m glad you think so,” she said brightly, and her smile seemed to extend to include himself and Erys as well. “I made Erys help me practice for a week just to get it right.”

She lingered for a few more moments, then took her leave, perhaps perceiving that Morgan must be here for Jasper. He didn’t necessarily think this was true, but an unfortunate side effect of working for him was that Ava was used to people being interested only in him, and not what the sweet-smelling human at his elbow might think or have to say. He frowned slightly, but there was only so much he could do about that. She’d had to learn to fade into the background, for her own safety, but sometimes he thought that she’d learned it too well.

Shaking his head a bit, he recalled something that Erys had said to him just before he went onstage. Modesty didn’t suit him? Whyever not? He thought most people could do with quite a bit more of it. He was tempted to ask her what she meant by that, but something held him back. Perhaps it was simply because doing so wouldn’t fit with the person he was supposed to be, the one he was around most everyone that wasn’t Ava, Vincent, and occasionally Morgan. It was such an old habit by now that breaking it was nearly impossible for him. Instead, he turned the conversation in a new direction.

“I hope you are not finding the events as dreadful as you likely imagined, Morgan,” he said, raising one eyebrow slightly. Come to think of it, humor, however slight, didn’t really fit his image, either, but perhaps it was something about the emotional release of playing that made everything else seem a little less important, appearances included. “Though I will say,” he continued, gesturing to the way both of them were dressed, as well as himself, “I don’t quite understand the headmaster’s penchant for events where formalwear is required.”

It was a well-known fact, for those who knew the old man personally, that he was quite fond of such things, and generally tended to make his events as classy as possible, perhaps out of some strange, misplaced desire for a bygone age, which Jasper would have thought more suited to a vampire who’d actually lived through such an age than a human who had not. Nevertheless, Cross’s student events always had to be black-tie, at least to an extent, which he supposed was better than the alternative.

But they were a small crowd backstage, now, and other performers were seeking their turns, so perhaps it was past time they left. “I think I’m going to do a little circle of the grounds, and check in with the security team. Would either of you be inclined to join me?” Erys probably ought to do something similar, as a prefect, and he sensed that Morgan might just be bored and want something marginally more interesting to do.




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“Oh, dear… why do I feel like I’ve seen something I shouldn’t have… and why does it hurt like this?”


A good compliment, no matter who from, could sustain Ava’s enthusiasm for days, and she’d received two this evening, one from Jazz and one from Morgan, so she was a rather happy little birdy indeed as she made her way from the stage, leaving the other three to their business as they would. She wanted a bit of fresh air, and as she walked, she hummed to herself, the violin case clasped behind her in both hands, the comforting weight of it hitting the back of her legs periodically as she walked, a beat to her motion.

The festival was turning out wonderfully, she thought, and she couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she went, headed towards the fountain. She’d always liked the sound of running water, and found the spot a soothing place to sit. Much as she loved being around people, she wanted a bit of quiet time to reflect. Good music was worth thinking about for some time after, reflecting upon, and she had both Erys’s and Jazz’s playing to contemplate this time.

As it happened, however, she stumbled upon something that was not really conducive to helping her keep a peaceful, simply-happy state of mind. In fact, at first, she was confused more than anything. Ery’s brother was not the face-touching kind, from what little she actually knew of him. Also, people usually didn’t touch each other that way when they were not close, did they? Her confusion morphed just for a moment into a heady mix of anger and hurt—anger because he was engaged to Erys, and therefore should not be so close to anyone else, and hurt because, well… she wasn’t going to think about that.

But Ava was never one to be able to have negative emotions of any kind for very long, and when she noticed that Nikki appeared to be crying, all of it melted away, replaced by nothing more or less than earnest concern for the girl. Nobody should be crying on a night like tonight. She thought about just leaving, but they were vampires, and there was therefore no way that hadn’t heard or smelled her by now, and even if it was only an accident, she was not going to be some creep who intruded and then skulked away for no reason. That was beneath someone who’d learned her manners from Jasper. “Uhm…” she was temporarily at a loss for what to say or do, still victim to that uncomfortable cocktail of feelings, but then she decided that Nikki was obviously the most important thing here, and her instincts for caretaking and helping kicked in. Letting go of her violin case with one hand, she reached into one of the pockets of her dress (Ava was exactly the sort of practical girl who never wore anything without pockets, even dresses) and pulled out a freshly-laundered handkerchief, still bright white and new. She never really used them, but always kept one on her person just in case.

Advancing to where the other two stood, she stopped, arms’ length from Nikki so as to give her space, and equally far from Vincent because she was uncomfortable in his proximity, and held the handkerchief out. “I don't know what’s wrong,” she said quietly, canting her head gently to one side and donning a reassuring half-smile. “And I won’t ask, because that would be rude and nosy of me, but I’ve found that even the worst things will get better with time. And… if you ever need somebody to talk to, well…” She trailed off for a second. Maybe she was presuming too much, maybe Nikki already had someone to talk to. Maybe Vincent was that someone. Oh dear… what if she’d just interrupted exactly that conversation? Oh, she was the worst, wasn’t she? She was a horrible person!

“That is, you can talk to me. Only if you want, I mean. No pressure or anything. I’m sorry.” She wasn’t sure what exactly she was apologizing for or who she was directing it to, and she coughed lightly, looking at the ground and blushing slightly. Oh, I’m such an idiot. This is why Jazz is always telling me to look before I leap! Still, her expression was earnest and her offer genuine. It was the best she could do—she promised herself she wouldn’t be offended if one or both of them told her to get lost and mind her own business, but the truth was, she might feel a little dejected now.

“Stupid. Sometimes I wish I was more like Jazz…” She wasn’t aware she’d said those words out loud.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"Failure is not fatal."
"But the failure to change just might be."



Morgan raised an eyebrow as Ava slipped away. Not one for much attention, are you? You and I are more alike than I realized. And perhaps they were. Over the course of two weeks, Morgan had learned a lot just by watching the girl from afar. It was hardly anything worth mentioning to his Uncle, but for Morgan himself, it had been a more plesent experience. The girl was dedicated to Jasper, and did whatever he asked, often before he even asked it. What was more, she was simply a friend to the man. The thought made him smile slightly. If any of them needed anything, it was a companion of some so And that was exactly what Ava was to Jasper. Morgan, for once, would happily admit that his first instincts on the girl had been wrong, by quite the long shot, too. It was interesting to note that the girl also eemed to harbor a slight crush on the only other Pure-Blood around, none other than Vincent Kuragari. It was interesting to see just how well she hid it from everyone, even herself. But Morgan had noticed. He wouldn't be the best if he hadn't.

He had also left that bit out of his report. The girls' personal feelings were hardly Lord von Nacht's business. He was torn out of his revery when his cousin spoke to him. Like usual, Morgan hadn't even realized that he'd joined them. "I'll admit, I've been to worse. Generally those are the ones at which you don't play. I was sitting with the Lady Nikki for a while, but she left abruptly after your preformance. I do believe that your performace quite produced the girl to tears, Cousin."

Morgan had to resist the urge to actually raise his hand when Jazz extended the offer to himself and Erys to join him in a sweep across the grounds. "Anything to get me away from the wolves, please. You know I can't stand drooling dogs." It was hardly a flattering comparison, but in the end, that was how Morgan saw the droving masses of girls -and boys- in the Day Class that practically worshiped the ground that the Vampires stepped on.


Nikki was too busy being shocked at being grabbed and then having her tears wiped away by someone's thumb that at first, she couldn't comprehend who it was, or what they had said. She was too busy getting lost inside those deep pools of blood-red. They weren't like her brothers' eyes, who could sometimes make you think you were in a field of rubies, no. These eyes reminded you of the deep basal instinct that all Vampires harbored, the need for blood. A deep, scarlet pool of the life of a human, that would sustain you. She also noticed a light ring around his pupil, made of liquid gold. Perhaps a reminder that just because a Vampire needed blood to live, it didn't mean they were mosnters. Vincent's eyes were beautiful. Her own stone-grey ones were drowned in his, paled in comparison.

As soon as he let go, however, she took a step away from him, and then a second when she realized that it was Vincent. She'd never had many dealings with the man, but Nikki knew that somewhere down the line, he was related to Jasper, and by a very slim extent, to her herself. Well, in the end, all Vampires were related by blood somewhere. She narrowed her eyes, but not in any threatening sort of way. She was trying to regain her composure in order to respond in at least the closest thing to politeness she could manage. The last thing she needed to do was offend the Pure Blood and risk exposing who she truly was.

Before she could do anything of the sort, however, someone else intruded upon them, this one female, and very human. It was Ava. As she began speaking about Nikki talking to her and handing her a handkerchief. It wasn't until Ava mumbled under her breath, ending with the name "Jazz", that something in her already fragile composure shattered. She clutched the handkerchief, and without even realizing she'd done it, the thing smoldered slightly. It was the fact that it gave off heat that warned her to what she was doing, and she smothered her rage as best she could.

She wanted to lash out at Ava, she wanted to hurt the girl, and the scary part was, she knew exactly why. It was irrational and stupid. It didn't matter who Jasper ended up with, because for Nikki, it could never be. To the world, she was Nikki Morgenstern, and that was all she ever would be, because Nikki Alistair died one hundred years ago. And perhaps she ws reading too much into the situation. Ms. Ellsworth was Jasper assistant, was she not? Perhaps that was where it all ended.

But it was the nickname. The little girl locked deep inside of her thrashed at the bars of her cage, screaming, "It was me, it was me, I gave him that nickname first, how dare you call him that now!" She wanted nothing more than to scream that herself, but she held her tounge. Instead, she finally raised her eyes, meeting Vincent's scarlet ones again. There was a steely coldness to hers, if only to mask the pain she was feeling on the inside. "I thank you both for the concern, but I assure you that I am fine." She turned away and walked a few steps, but then reconsidered, and turned back halfway, her back towards Ava, and looked at the Pure Blood again.

"You may think that tears are worth nothing when there is no one to see them, but that's where you forget. You were here to see mine, were you not?" She then turned, and continued on her way. She didn't go very far, she simply turned down one of the stone archways and leaned against the cold stone. Her hand sizzled lightly where the heated skin touched it, but she paid it little heed. She was trying to get the confusing swirl of emotions in her head and in her chest to go away, of which she was having difficulty.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Strength of resolve is something to be respected."




Vincent blinked as a scent assaulted his senses. His gaze fixed upon Ava, Jasper's assistant, as she made herself known. She addressed the Morgenstern vampire as his eyes lingered on her form a bit longer, only removing them when Nikki left. He followed her as she walked away, and then she stopped. A ghost of a smile pulled at his lips slightly before it was gone. Perhaps what he stated came out wrong. That was what he meant in the first place. If she needed to cry, then he would be there and allow her to do so.

"Indeed I was," he replied softly before turning his attention towards Ava. He glanced at the Ellsworth girl, the sweet smell of strawberries entering the vicinity. If had been a young vampire, he would have attacked the girl and tried to drain her. The smell was intoxicating to his kind, and even though he's had a few centuries worth of restraint, the scent was still tempting. He shoved the thought to the back of his mind. Shouldn't the girl be with Jasper to begin with? It was dangerous out on her own, especially with that scent of hers.

"Ellsworth, do you need me to accompany you back? I do believe Jasper wouldn't like for you to be out by yourself," he spoke, addressing Ava by her surname. It wasn't because he didn't know her first name, but merely because that is how he addressed almost everyone. Occasionally, he'd address someone by their given name, but out of respect to most, surnames were usually used. Regardless, if she wanted his company, he would provide it. If she didn't, then he would simply leave her be. He didn't want to intrude more than he already had, however; if something happened to the girl that he could have prevented, he had a feeling Jasper wouldn't be very happy about that. It was enough of a thought to almost make him chuckle slightly.

Erys watched as Ava left, almost half tempted to call out after her, but she was already gone. Why would she leave her with these two? Especially with the Alistair vampire? Wasn't Ava aware that Erys and Morgan were about as friendly as a mongoose and a snake were? She sighed deeply, glancing at the two males as they conversed amongst each other. She was about to leave herself when Jasper extended an invitation to the both of them. She rose an eyebrow slightly. It was about time she surveyed the grounds anyways. Before she could answer, Morgan spoke, and his comment caused her to furrow her brows.

"So, that's all we are? Drooling mutts slobbering and clamoring for your affection? You think too highly of yourself, Morgan," she responded, folding her arms against her chest in the process. The statement kind of pushed a metaphorical button within Erys, and she didn't like it one bit. "Besides, it's not exactly uncommon for a dog to chase a dog, now is it?" she continued. The comparison was probably about right. That is how she viewed the Alistair vampire anyways. He might have been related to her, somewhere thinly down the line, but that wouldn't save him from her wrath if he wanted to endure it.

Instead, she tried to ignore the Alistair vampire and turned her attention to Jasper. "That, really isn't necessary to begin with von Nacht. Circling the grounds belongs to the hunters and myself. You should stay and try to enjoy yourself. I am not sure Vincent would appreciate me taking advantage of his friend in helping out with our duties," she replied to his question. While technically it was true, she and the others could take care of that duty. That was why they were here in the first place. He and the Alistair vampire should be enjoying themselves, not making rounds and doing her job.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“I believe the saying is something thus: one could cut the tension with a knife.”


Jasper had not risen to the position in society he now occupied without being able to sense a fight brewing. Morgan’s rather unflattering comment about the Day Class seemed to trigger a characteristically-temperamental response in Erys. He had heard from Ava’s recounting tales of numerous incidents in which that famous temper had been ignited, and he was not particularly keen on the two of them having it out right here. He wondered, though, if aggression was all there really was to it. He might be a touch on the naïve side for someone of his age, but there were things about which Jasper was not entirely oblivious, and it did give him a bit of pause.

He ordinarily simply would have excused himself from the situation, or perhaps tried to diffuse it, but he did have a duty here, and the execution of that duty had to come above his personal preferences regarding such matters. Erys suggested that perhaps he should not be imposing on the Hunters’ and her task, but he had not seen it as such. “On the contrary, I am the Student Council President. I was appointed to over see all aspects of tonight’s events. I’m afraid I could not take a break even if I wished to.” And sometimes, part of him did, but the greater part was concerned always with his work, with the things he must do instead of the things he’d wanted to do. His family had once had a way of halting that instinct, at least for a while, of forcing him to take the time out of his day to enjoy it, but aside from Ava, everyone who had ever been able to do so was now dead.

He was vaguely disturbed by what Morgan had conveyed to him, about Miss Morgenstern’s reaction to his piece. It was a bit melancholy, perhaps, but not really as mournful as even the tune Ava and Erys had played, and so it should not, he thought, have provoked such a reaction. That it was her specifically, who’d brushed him off rather coldly upon a simple introduction and whom he’d faithfully avoided as per her wish ever since then, that it was also the person whom Morgan had told him was other than she said she was… the pieces of the puzzle fit together strangely. He did not enjoy the thought of being the cause of pain in someone else—it was why he’d left her alone in the first place, even though the familiarity he felt in her presence still nagged at him.

His mouth turned down in a frown, and accordingly, he missed what Morgan said in reply to Erys, though he must admit, this extended hound metaphor was rather… something. It wasn’t that Jasper was humorless; far from it. But he was not particularly fond of the kind of humor that put others down. Well, to each their own. Had he heard what Morgan said, he would have been compelled perhaps into an older-sibling mood he had not exercised since the death of his aunt, uncle, and other cousins, but as it was, he was fortunate to have missed it.

He did not miss the resounding boom of the explosion that followed after. It was coming from— “The gates!” shouted a man, one he recognized as one of the Hunters employed for security. “There’s—mad ones, pouring in through the gates!”

Peering into the darkness beyond, Jasper could only agree. Something seemed… off about them, but there was no time to consider it. “Protect the students—get them inside and bar the door!” he yelled, at a most uncharacteristic volume, and then he was off like a shot, applying close to the full measure of his pureblooded speed to reach the gate as quickly as possible. That was near the fountain, and he smelled Ava there, along with Miss Morgenstern and, thankfully, Vincent, who would be more than a match for anything that attempted to come at them that way. Ava he knew could hold her own as well, but she would also be a walking target, the way she smelled. The transfer student’s skills, he could not speak to. Hopefully, she would be able to protect herself long enough for help to arrive.




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“There’s a bad moon on the rise…”


She seemed to have said something wrong. Nikki didn’t do or say much of anything to give her the impression, but Ava was accomplished at reading people, even and especially the ones who didn’t want to give things away. Something had gone specifically wrong when she mentioned Jazz. Was it because Nikki didn’t like him? Jasper seemed to think so, but that didn’t feel like the right answer to Ava. It must be something else, something different. She let the hand that had held the handkerchief drop back down to her side, her fingers tangling absently in the lace of her dress as she tugged at it thoughtfully. It would probably come unraveled if she kept worrying it like that, but as she didn’t currently have her violin in her hand to pluck at the strings, it was the next best thing.

She chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully, trying to decide if she should go after the girl, and try and mend whatever damage she had done. But that would probably be useless until she knew what the damage was. Until then, any such effort might do more harm than good. Ava sighed softly, and only then did she realize she was being spoken to. Eyes widening, she spun back to face Vincent, who was offering to take her back to the festivities. She honestly considered it for a moment; her contemplating things now would probably only lead to beating herself up over what she had or hadn’t done poorly just now, so maybe it was a good idea. It was kind of him to think of her safety in Jazz’s absence, or at least that was what she assumed he was doing. She had a strange smell, or so she was told, so apparently she had to be more careful than other people. She thought that was a little unfair to vampires—she believed that if any of them wanted to, they could control themselves, even under temptation. So far, none of them above a Level D had proven her wrong.

Even so, she was about to refuse when the front gate exploded, the shock big enough to rebound all the way to where they were sanding, by the fountain. Ava was picked up off her feet by the force of it and tossed backwards onto the ground, but on her way down, she definitely spotted the first of the mad vampires coming in over the wreckage. Except… they looked like mad ones, but only because she didn’t know what else they could be. They were hunched, feral, and their eyes glowed a strange, unnatural blue, not at all what a vampire’s eyes were supposed to look like when they were hungry.

She hit the ground hard on her back, wrapping her arms around the case of her precious violin to protect it, but she was forced to put it next to the fountain and hope it would stay safe there, because the mad vampires were incoming, and there was no way she was letting them get to the students. She knew it was the case that other people could do far more than her, but Ava had her pride as a Hunter, too, and she’d been trained to fight by her parents and Jasper himself. She wasn’t about to go down easily.

Brushing aside the longer hem of her dress, she reached for the collapsed spear strapped to her thigh, unhooking it from the sheath there. At first, it looked like no more than a knife, but then she spoke its name—Brynhilde, the Valkyrie—and it extended until the pole was fully as long as she was tall, and she took a two handed grip on it. Without hesitation, she used it to cut away the excess length of her dress, leaving her in a skirt that hit just below mid-thigh, which would be much easier to fight in than something that almost hit the ground in the back. She chanced a glance beside her to Vincent, wondering if Nikki was still in the area.

“I’m going,” she informed him without an ounce of hesitation in her voice. It was more a courtesy than anything, in case he somehow needed to account for it in deciding what to do himself. As good as her word, she moved to the front of the fountain, impaling the heart of the first mad one as the tide reached them there. Jazz, where are you?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"I do so enjoy a good fight."
"This is not good. This is not good. He can't know who I am. Yet I know that he does know."



Morgan smiled, clacking his teeth at Erys. "I don't think all females are dogs. Take yourself, for example." He clacked his teeth again, this time louder, before saying, "Meow, Kitten. You're no dog, and dogs prefer chasing cats." In retrospect, he probably should have just kept his mouth shut. It would have saved him a black eye. As it were, he found himself on the floor, grinning like an idiot up at the ceilling after Erys flat-out slugged him. He did enjoy making her angry. It was just so much fun.

He leapt to his feet as the cry of alarm went up. He knew his cousin would take care of the main horde at the gate, they wouldn't be needed there right away. The Day Class needed to be secured first.


Nikki's eyes widened as something lept out of the shadows at her. Before she knew it, she was on her back, keeping the jaws of a Level E vampire away from her face. She swore, and then snapped it's neck. As she stood up, she saw Ava go flying backwards, Vincent taking down a few mad vampires that had gotten ahead of the main crowd. Without even thinking, Nikki took off towards the main gate. She wasn't as fast as a Pure Blood, so she made it after Jasper had already gotten there.

Nikki swore again. Without her blade, she had few fighting options to rely on, especially when faced with Level E's. So, for the most part she resorted to hand-to-hand combat. Until of course two of them managed to grab her from behind. She gave a startled yell, and she began to smolder. Without actually thinking about it, without realizing that Jasper was right there with her, without realizing that her power was hers and only hers, she, along with the two Level E's, burst into flames. She fell forward out of the blaze, emerging quite unharmed, while the other vampires burned. She jumped up, grabing a tree branch from a nearby tree, and simply got to work cutting through the oncoming horde.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Foolish beings, do they not know that this place is protected by us?"




He could see it upon her face that Ava was contemplating his offer. Either way, he was still going to accompany her regardless of her decision. He couldn't have Jasper upset about his assistant now could he? Before an answer could be made, however, a serious of explosions went off. His eyes pierced through the darkness, surveying the area as vampires began flooding the area. They were all Level E's, that much was certain given their appearances. But something was a bit off. Their eyes, instead of being the crimson color, they were blue. Were they under a spell of sorts? Vincent wasted no time dispatching the first wave, watching as a few of them fell to his hands.

"You called?" Shiranui spoke as he jumped upon the back of a Level E, clamping his jaws over the vampire's throat and ripping it out in the process. He stepped away from the body as it began to turn to ash, his golden eyes fixed upon his masters form. Vincent pulled his hand out of another vampire's chest as another lunged at him. With a side-step, Vincent grabbed hold of the vampire by it's throat and squeezed, watching as the vampire clawed to release itself from his grasp. Shiranui merely shook his head as he finally locked eyes with crimson.

"See to the human, make sure she is kept safe," Vincent spoke, Shiranui nodding his head in compliance. He then left for Ava's side, taking a defensive stance with her as another horde made it's way towards her. He grinned up at the human girl as he lunged at the first vampire that tried to attack Ava, sinking his claws and shrouding the both of them in darkness. It appeared as if they both disappeared into thin air, however; Shiranui soon reemerged from the shadows, blood coating his fur and a triumphant smile on his face, or as much as a wolf could smile.

Vincent could see that these vampires, if they were not dealt with quickly, would make fast deaths of the humans inside. He needed to get to the main gate to seal it, but he couldn't do that, not at the current moment. This horde needed to be dealt with, along with the safety of Ava. With that in mind, he brought out a peculiar shaped gun and began making work of the vampires that tried to surround him.

Erys had rolled her eyes at Jasper's retort. Even so, the Student Council President was responsible not for the safety of the students, but overseeing the production of the festival. Regardless, there was no point in trying to get it across. Instead, her attention was taken by Morgan, who made a remark to her comment. She found her eye twitching slightly before she smiled at Morgan. Of course it would have confused him, even as she lay a hand on his shoulder. The next thing, Erys pulled her fist back and socked Morgan straight in the eye, wiping her hands as if she had dirt on them.

"Kitten's have claws, don't forget that," she replied as she stepped over his fallen form. She was about to make her rounds when the ground shook, and the screams of explosions set off. Her eyes went straight for the source, finding that it came from the front of the school. "Yuri," she called, summoning her familiar to her side. Instead of the small white fox, Yuri was now adorned in a much larger form, her fur yellow where it had once been white, and sporting nine tails instead of two. She was about the size of a horse if one had to measure her. Erys glanced at Jasper as he took off with the speed of only a pure-blood could posses.

"Help Jasper. Morgan and I are going to take care of the students and lend the hunters a hand," she directed as Yuri nodded, taking off after the pure-blood in the process. Erys, however, returned her attention towards the screaming horde of people. She grabbed hold of Ulrik, fixing him so that she wielded the gun-blade without much effort into the palm of her hand. She could see some of the hunters already herding the frightened people away from the explosion and towards the safety of the school. She took a step forward, only to have something pull her back and a sharp pain in her shoulder. She glanced at it and noticed a head, and a pair of fangs, sinking into her neck as her eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Filthy mongrel," she hissed, ripping the vampire's head from her neck as she brought the barrel of Ulrik into it's mouth. With a feral grin, she pulled the trigger, watching as the vampire's head exploded, pieces of skull and blood dislodging and finding new homes on the ground and in Erys' hair. She sighed as she pulled out a few chunks of skull from her hair and laid Ulrik across her shoulders. "I hope Vincent and Ava are okay," she stated, glancing in the direction of the main gates.

Yuri did as she was told and followed after Jasper, dodging attacks from the vampires and setting a few on fire. She managed to arrive just in time to spot the Morgenstern vampire emerge from a fire grave unscathed, and began cutting down more vampires. At this, Yuri simply began helping out as well. She spread her tails, all nine lighting up in sync as a blue flame was produced from them. She then targeted the nearest vampires that were close and began working her flames towards them. There were so many mad vampires, what were they after?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“For you, who have threatened those I placed under my protection, there shall be no mercy.”


One might not expect that a person as mild-mannered and polite as Jasper von Nacht was capable of violence. In such cases, one would be well-served to remember that it was this man and not another who headed the Vampire Council who day in and day out brought the most powerful pure-bloods in the world to heel. And though he did it most often with gentleness and a certain kind of rare kind spirit, that was not a language that such people understood unless one first spoke to them in the tongue of power. And vampires had always understood power as the capacity for destruction.

Though in truth he preferred the slight distance afforded to him by swords, there had been not the time to grab one on his passage to the main gate, and so he arrived in tandem with Miss Morgenstern wielding nothing but his hands and the long knife he carried always in his boot. For such low-class creatures as these, his hands would be more than sufficient.

It was almost instantaneous, the way the majority of the Level E’s turned their attention to him, and that was to perhaps be expected. A prince of their race stood before them, and even as convoluted as the minds of these ones were, they recognized this about him. But when he attempted to simply dominate their minds, he found himself blocked. This was a task that should have been simple—making in through the defenses of their mind would have been like breaking an egg with a sledgehammer if he wanted it to be, but here there was resistance. Not from the Level E’s themselves, but from whatever was controlling them. The mind at the center of this horde was ancient, and strong, and whatever control it had must have been supplemented somehow, causing the unusual physiology. It was possible he was dealing with an opponent whose bloodline ability was a greater degree of mind control than that which purebloods usually possessed, or perhaps these creatures had been altered some other way.

In either case, it necessitated an exercise of more… direct methods. Jasper had grown up learning mercy from his mother, and it was a capacity he had in greater amounts than most of his kind. But a trait he had retained from his father was this: if what was his, those people and places he had designated under his protection and care, was threatened in such a way, then his mercy was forgotten. For as long as it took to utterly destroy the threat.

The air around him crackled with a dangerous energy, shifting in strange patterns that tugged gently at his clothing and hair, but the expression on his face—cold, monotonous, even lifeless—did not change in the slightest. Not even when the crackling became a sharp bang of its own, slamming every single mad vampire within a fifty-foot radius into the ground off their feet with enough force to break every bone they had, snapping limbs and necks and crushing skulls without the faintest suggestion of hesitation. They were nothing more than red smears on the ground, now, but there were still more where that came from.

Jumping into the fray, Jasper impaled one of them with his bare hand, ripping its heart out and tossing the corpse at several of its fellows to slow them down. He would have continued this, but for the sudden smell of smoke reaching his nose. He saw first Erys’s familiar, Yuri, but she was not the source. Rather, what he did lay eyes upon caused him to stop dead in his tracks.

Suddenly, everything fit together. The flames were the one missing piece, the key that arranged everything into a new pattern, one he almost could not understand. He’d never seen the bodies, of course. Apparently, Morgan had not either. He’d lowered their caskets into the ground with his own hands and known they were the right weight for little girls as they had been. But nothing else could explain the rest of it—the sense of familiarity, the fact that she was not who she said she was, the fact that she avoided him. Was it fear of recognition? If so, it was a useless fear, because the fire was hers. “Kiki…” he whispered, his voice cracking slightly on the second syllable of the familiar endearment.

The fire was hers, but the fury was his. Jasper’s lips pulled back from his teeth—the inferior creatures were trying to kill her, to take from him again what had already been taken once. His family. He was not going to allow that. With all the suddenness of a viper striking, he moved too quickly to be seen, grabbing the one nearest her by the throat and snapping his arm in a sharp gesture, breaking its neck and throwing it aside. Their numbers were inconsequential, he laid waste to them, the entire time feeding on his rage at being deceived. At her, perhaps. But definitely at those who had told him she’d died. Was Naya alive as well? What of his aunt and uncle? It had certainly been kept from Morgan, but did his father know? Did his despicable grandfather know? A hundred years—a century he had thought them dead, and now…

Now he only wanted to annihilate anything that sought to make them so again.

In the end, he surfaced from his red-eyed anger to see that the river of Level E’s was gone. The majority of them had been strewn about himself and Nikki, most of them in truly vicious states of dismemberment and brokenness. He didn’t care. He could smell more death from up near the fountain, and that would be Vincent and Ava’s doing. He did care about that, but it was hard to think clearly just yet. The danger had passed for the moment, and he locked eyes with the woman who bore a face his cousin must have been growing into, wielded the powers of flame she commanded. He supposed it was possible that all of this was mere coincidence. Btu he didn’t believe it. Either someone had reached into his soul and found the perfect way to torment him—his family—or what he was seeing was really his cousin.

His eyes flashed silver under the moon, and he used them to pin her in place, unconsciously still exerting his power. If he’d known he was doing it, he would not have done so, but all the same, his state was such that the vaguely-mesmerizing nature of a pureblood was at work. “Why?” he said, and there was a century’s worth of feeling in the word—grief, loss, anger, resignation, and still over and above all else, the familial love he’d had for his cousins, who were in the end much more like his siblings than anything. He’d watched them grow, after all.




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“Something’s wrong… I feel it in my bones.”


Ava smiled down at the large wolf beside her. She could see this one pretty clearly, for some reason, and she wondered if it really looked like that or if this was how he appeared to everyone. “You must be Shiranui,” she said by way of greeting, thrusting her spear into a Level E’s leg to trip it up. The anti-vampire properties of the weapon did the rest, naturally, freeing her up to defend an incoming claw-swing from the next. Taking a two-handed grip on Brynhilde, she pushed back against the unnatural strength of the creature, pivoting abruptly so that it overcompensated and staggered right into the familiar’s waiting jaws.

“Let’s fight together, then,” she said, tossing a playful salute. Granted, the situation was serious, but that was no excuse not to be nice, after all. Stepping forward, she swung her spear in a broad arc, slicing through the chests of a pair of them, dropping both to the ground and leaping light over the corpses. The wolf brought down too more, and latched its jaws around the ankle of a third, which Ava brought down with a judicious stab.

Their teamwork was nothing to be scoffed at, and by the time the tide wore down, they had several bodies in their vicinity and had pushed forward halfway to the gate. It appeared that no more were coming, so she could only suppose that Jasper and whomever else was at the front had taken care of the majority of them. Her face was bloodied and she’d have a lot of bruises tomorrow, but overall, Ava wasn’t feeling half-bad. She shot a triumphant smile at both Shiranui and his master, which abruptly morphed into an expression of complete shock when she felt an arm wrap around her waist like an iron bar. She was hoisted off the ground, her feet dangling uselessly as she tried to kick at the offender, but this only earned her a raspy chuckle as Brynhilde was ripped from her grasp and tossed too far away for her to ever hope to retrieve it.

She felt a nose in the crook of her neck, and heard the smell of someone inhaling deeply. Not this again. “Delicious,” a male voice purred in her ear, and she couldn’t help the shiver that ran down her spine. This was no mere mad vampire, that was for sure. He tightened his grip, pressing her back to his chest, and she angled her face to try and get a look at her captor. He, however, was far too entertained grinning over at Vincent and Shiranui, and she felt the cold press of steel at her neck.

“Sorry,” he said, not sounding apologetic at all, “But I’m going to liberate this one from your protection for a while. I have a spectacle to make, you see, and a hostage will be oh-so-helpful… especially one who smells so nice.” She felt herself being pulled, though it wasn’t very much like being carried along when someone ran. It was more like her insides were being squeezed through something, and it made her nauseous. Squeezing her eyes shut, she opened them again what must have only been a second later to find that she was upon the stage she’d occupied not an hour before. Oh, how things changed. If she had to guess, she’d say she’d just been teleported there, which seemed no more impossible than any of the rest of this mess.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the man announced in a voice much louder than she would have thought someone like him could produce. It drew the attention of much of the crowd—most of the mad ones had not made it up here, and those that had appeared to have been dispatched quietly, whilst the Hunters and other volunteers had gently evacuated the Day Class. It was still a work in progress however, and most were not conscious of the danger, at least not until they saw Ava in the man’s grip, a knife held to her neck. “I bring you tidings from another world. Unbeknownst to many of you, those beautiful strangers that walk among you, your beloved Night Class, are not what you think them to be!”

Ava’s eyes widened in horror; she was not a stupid girl, and she knew where this was going—and how he was going to prove his point. She searched the crowd for a face she knew, any face, and she thought she might have seen Erys or Morgan, but she didn’t know what, exactly, she expected them to do. One wrong move, and this man could kill her, she knew that. He knew it too, clearly. But wouldn’t letting her die be worth keeping the secret? But letting you die will reveal the secret. She knew exactly why she’d been the one held hostage, now.

“They walk apart from you, lovely and cold and cruel and why? Because they—that is, we, are your natural predators. We crave your blood, darling humans, and it makes us quite monstrous. This is your warning, dear humans: vampires exist, and it’s only a matter of time before the world is ours in full. Do feel free to fight back—it wouldn’t be any fun if you didn’t.” A point like that, of course, would need a lot of proving, and Ava swallowed, closing her eyes against the inevitable. Please, just let it be quick.

The knife, cold and unfeeling, caressed her skin with all the tenderness of a lover, biting into her pale flesh just enough. Blood welled from the wound, the scent of it overwhelming in the immediate proximity, and several of the nearest members of the Night class recoiled as if struck. A pale finger traced along the wound’s edge, and her captor raised it to his mouth, eyebrows ascending his forehead in surprise. “My, my. I do hope you survive this, dear. That’s almost too good to be true. I’ll have to ask for you when the time comes to divide the spoils.” Before she could even think of how best to respond to that, he disappeared, leaving her to slump forward onto the ground, covering her own wound with her hand.

It wasn’t, from the look of things, going to be enough to save her. The first member of the Night Class, a Level C she knew from one of Jasper’s classes, jumped for her first, and she scrambled backwards to avoid him, but… she wouldn’t be able to do it twice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"I will not let you touch her."
"I'm...sorry..."



The very second that the vampire appeared on stage with Ava, knife at her throat, Morgan froze. Oh no. Oh Hell no! This was not good. Where was Jasper when you needed him? And then, her flesh was cut and and the scent hit him. He'd smelled her before, but to smell her fresh blood was like a siren's song. But it was when she was attacked that he actually moved. Somehow, he managed to overcome his bloodlust enough to get himself on stage, placing his body between the girl and the level C. Morgan bared his fangs and snarled, slashing at the attacker, sending him flying backwards.

The effect of the attack was instantaneous, and Morgan soon found himself overwhelemed. When two fellow Noblevampires attacked Ava simultaneously, Morgan sheilded her with his own body. His own blood scent mingled in the air with hers as the claw marks bled on his back. He coughed, blood running down his chin. He wouldn't last very long at this rate.


Nikki took a few step away from him as Jasper suddenly exploded in rage, the level E's drowning in their own blood. And then it happened, he locked her in place, whether he knew it or not, and looked directly at her. He knew, and she knew he did. She knew ever since he has said "Kiki."

Unable to move, she could only stand there and stare back into his eyes, pools of molten silver, as he asked her why. Why? She wondered. deep down, she knew he was asking why, why she had never come forward as Nikki Alistair, why she had never told him, or any of them, that she was alive. She lowered her eyes from his as far as she could, which wasn't very far all things considered, willing herself not to cry again. She only partially suceeded. One tear escaped and rolled down her left cheek. Finally, she gathered her words.

"I couldn't risk putting you or Morgan or Uncle in danger. Not again." Her voice trembled as she spoke. "Morgan and I were the only ones who survived. I had to watch, I had to lay there as Naya bled to death on top of me. I spent four days in that hell, and when I woke up, I was somewhere in a human town, starved and terrified. I still don't know how I was found, how I survived, any of that. I just know that I did. And when the human walked in to the room I--" She choked on her words. She couldn't say it. She couldn't just tell him. "When I finally got my head on straight, I started doing some digging. Our Grandfather had my family killed because he believes that I saw or heard something, something he wanted to hide. That's why he sent the Hunters after us, it was because of me!" She was actually crying now.

"If he knew that you and Morgan knew that I'm alive, he'd come after you, too. I couldn't live with that. I couldn't live with knowing that I was the cause of any more pain to Momo, to you. Mother, Father, Naya, they're dead because of me, it's my fault." She clutched at her chest, almost hyperventalating at this point. Everything that she had tried to hide was coming unraveled. "Please, Jasper. You can't tell Momo that I'm alive. Not yet. I won't put him in danger, not again. Please..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"The fear of failing those whom we love is a terrifying experience."




Shiranui grinned at Ava as she addressed him. He liked this human already. The pair of them took down Level E's left and right, their teamwork almost flawless. It was as if he had always belonged to the human girl, reading her movements and adjusting accordingly to finish off whatever she threw his way. Vincent managed to level down a majority of the vampires as well, satisfied when the last one fell to his hand. He locked eyes with Ava, nodding in her direction, however; his eyes widened slightly when a ruby-haired male appeared behind Ava.

"Ava," he called out as Shiranui released a snarl. The hairs along the wolf's back stood on end as he pulled back his lips, baring his fangs at the intruder who held Ava. For the first time, Vincent felt helpless to retrieve his friend's assistant. Instead, he watched as she disappeared into a void with the newcomer. He clenched his fists tightly as his eyes began to glow. This would not stand, he needed to help. He glanced at Shiranui who nodded in understanding. He made his way towards the front gates where Jasper and Yuri were.

Erys managed to kick another Level E to the ground as she impaled his face with the sword of Ulrik. Most of the Level E's were dwindling thanks to the efforts of the hunters and the others who were lending a hand at protecting the humans. That means that wherever they were coming from was secured and they wouldn't have to worry about the threat any longer. But that is where she was wrong. The familiar scent of strawberries littered the grounds as Erys' head snapped to the source. There, on the stage, was Ava in the arms of an unknown man.

That did not bode well for Erys. She could feel her blood boiling with a rage that only intensified when the man began to threaten exposure. Before she knew it, Ava was bleeding and a vampire had made a dart for her. Baring her teeth, Erys moved as quickly as she could to prevent another vampire from attacking Ava. She blocked him with Ulrik, throwing him back in the process. Morgan jumped to the defense of Ava, but she could see he was struggling with his own thirst. That wasn't good. What made it worse was that Morgan had jumped in front of the vampire's claws and was now bleeding himself. Two scents of blood would only drive these vampires insane now.

"Morgan, get out of here. Go get Jasper or Vincent, make them come. Move!" she shouted as she swung Ulrik around like a bat, catching another vampire with the blunt end of her sword and knocking him back. Another vampire darted for Ava and Erys threw her fist in the female vampire's face, catching her square in the jaw and sent her half-way across the field. She bared her teeth at the other vampires, fangs elongating in the process in a show of dominance. A feral hiss escaped the back of her throat as the scent of Ava's life flooded the area.

If it wasn't for the years of feeding and control, she would have attacked Ava herself. But Ava was her friend...her friend. The only thing on Erys' mind was to protect Ava at all costs. She felt a sharp pain in her arm as a vampire latched onto her arm, his fangs sinking into her own skin. She hissed as she brought the hilt of Ulrik down upon his head, effectively knocking him out. A final attempt at Ava was made by another Level B when the female vampire froze. Erys blinked in confusion as she turned to spot Vincent, his eyes glowing a dangerous crimson.

He was angry.

A vampire had just latched it's teeth onto his sister, and even more-so attacked her friend. This needed to end, now. He put more pressure upon the other vampires, causing them all to kneel in pain as he subjected them to obey. Most of them began falling unconscious while others still resisted. The smell of Ava's blood was overwhelming to them and if Jasper didn't appear soon to help, Vincent would be forced to end the lives of innocent vampires, something that was weighing heavily on his mind.

Yuri stood, the final Level E hanging from her own jaws as the vampire turned into dust. Satisfied that everything was taken care of, she turned towards the two vampires. So Nikki was an Alistair. Wait? Wouldn't that make her related to Erys and Vincent then? This confused Yuri, however; she chose not to reveal this to Erys, not quite yet. As the two of them conversed, Yuri turned to spot Shiranui, blood coating his white fur in the process. His eyes conveyed an urgent message, and before he could relay it to her, Yuri took off. She could feel the pain Erys had just endured. This couldn't be good.

"Ava is in trouble, Jasper," were the only words to leave Shiranui's lips before he turned to head back, following closely behind Yuri.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“If I’d needed another reason to hate that man, I would have had it now.”


The strength of her sorrow overwhelmed him, and his anger, what of it he retained, withered under the force of his concern. Older or not, deceptive or not, different or not, she was still his cousin, his Kiki, the little girl who had sat in front of him at the piano or beside him when he had read, who he’d instructed in the use of her powers when she wanted to learn them, who he’d sat across from at family gatherings, trying not to smile when she and Naya kicked each other under the table to alleviate the extreme monotony of the meetings themselves. Who he’d watched chase her brother around the gardens, trying to beat him at tag. Sometimes, he’d pick her up and run her over to Morgan, just so she could tag him, and he’d never minded the accusations of unfairness.

There were days that he’d spent entirely with his cousins and nobody else, and that they were still some of the best memories he had spoke to just how much he loved them. No matter what was the case now, she was still that girl. He could see it, deep beneath what she’d built around herself. To protect herself—to protect them. The warmth snapped the tense connection holding her in place, but a new kind of anger stoked that warmth into a blaze, just under the surface of his skin.

She thought it was her fault? That his grandfather’s despicable actions were her doing, that she was responsible for Naya’s and Uncle Sebastian’s and Aunt Michaline’s deaths? That she was the cause of his grief and Morgan’s suffering and the snapping of the last thread that had held his father to sanity? His grandfather could not be forgiven for allowing her to think that, even if he hadn’t known he was doing it. He would have anyway, if he’d known. That was just the despicable kind of person he was.

“Kiki,” he started, overwhelmed but knowing he had to express at least this much. Unfortunately, it was precisely then that Shiranui showed up, relaying the last message he’d ever want to hear. Ava. She was in danger, just as he’d feared she might be. For a moment, he was torn, but he knew what he had to do. Words could be spoken at a later time; he may have only one chance to save his best friend.

“Forgive me,” he said, though it was unclear exactly why he was saying it, at least until one of his arms was banded around her back, the other hooking beneath her knees and lifting her from the ground. “But it is faster if we travel my way.” He wasn’t going to leave her here, not if there was a chance that something else could come through that gate when he wasn’t there to put a stop to it. Nikki was strong, he knew, but the fact that Ava was in danger meant that something had managed to slip by both himself and Vincent Kuragari, and he wasn’t going to take any chances with that.

He hoped she wasn’t afraid of heights, because gravity ceased to exist for the two of them immediately thereafter, and he sprang into the air, using another field to propel them forward at a nearly blinding speed, the ground flashing by beneath his feet. For obvious reasons, Jasper did not fly often, and it was a talent he’d only perfected within the last fifty years, but it was as smooth as if he’d been doing it his entire life. They landed just outside the line of lanterns, and he set Nikki down with extreme care. “Nothing that happened that day is your fault,” he said with quiet certainty. “You did not make grandfather the monster that he is—he did that himself. Don’t ever blame yourself for it again.” Though the words themselves were a command, they were kind rather than authoritative.

But he had to go now. Someone he cared about was in danger, and it was his job to stop it.




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“No, stop! Don’t save me, please—it’s better that I die than anyone else!”


What should have been a fatal double-attack from a pair of noble vampires was temporarily thwarted by Morgan, who used himself as a shield from the blows. Ava panicked—he was bleeding everywhere and she couldn’t do a thing to help him. His blood on the air was only making things worse, and they looked irreparably bad, despite Erys's valiant efforts at helping by keeping them off of her. She flinched when her friend was bitten, but she knew Erys could handle a lot more that that. She was an incredibly-strong person, and in this respect, Ava could only look up to her. They were both strong, Erys and Morgan, and they were both going to get killed helping her.

It was a thought that filled her with a kind of fear she’d never known, and it might have only grown to envelop her if the next attacker hadn’t stopped dead in his tracks. She’d only seen a pureblood command a lesser vampire once—and that was enough for her to remember what it looked like. Her eyes followed Erys’s, and she saw that Vincent had managed to arrive. Relief flooded through her. This was it, right? He could just make them all stop, surely. But… some of them looked like they were in pain, and some of them were clearly fighting it. Holding so many must be difficult, and she had no idea what to do.

It’s all my fault… if I was just a normal human like everyone else, this wouldn’t have happened. The thought choked her, and she shook faintly, until she felt a warm, damp cloth press against the wound on her neck. The headmaster was there, and he wiped the blood away as gently as he could. From the look of it, he’d had a tough time getting here, but the knife that lay on the ground next to him might have explained how he survived the onslaught of the Level E’s.

“There’s a girl,” he said gently, wiping away the blood from her wound. “Let’s make this smell a little less particular, shall we?” It didn’t seem like it would be enough to stop whatever was going on, but then she felt rather than saw a familiar presence enter the clearing. Though she didn’t know exactly what was happening, Jasper’s compulsion ability melded with Vincent’s, the two of them intent on the same goal, and the remaining vampires actively resisting the command fell unconscious, but not dead. Jasper looked to be under strain, but he was not bloodied himself, not even with the ichor of Level E’s. She would have taken that as evidence that he wasn’t fighting them, but she knew how agile he was—he probably managed to avoid getting blood on him, which was good, since it meant he didn’t bring any more into the area with him.

He ascended the stage after that, as the Headmaster wrapped Ava’s neck with fresh bandages he’d acquired from somewhere, and then moved to see if there was anything he could do to treat Morgan, or if the noble’s injuries were already healing themselves, as they tended to. “Everyone,” he said, referring to the people who were not himself, Vincent, Erys, Morgan, Ava, Nikki, the Headmaster, or unconscious, “Please return to your dorms. Everything will be explained as soon as possible, but for now, we have to treat the injured and secure the school grounds.” His tone was that even mix of gentle and commanding that usually did the trick, and it was no different this time, she was glad to see. Half the Hunters went with the Day Class to the Sun Dorm, for protection and also to make sure word of what had just happened didn’t leak, and the other half stayed to deal with the remaining Level E corpses and tend the wounded.

Jasper himself crossed the stage to Ava and knelt in front of her, placing a hand on her head in an old familiar gesture. “I’m sorry,” he said, and the depth of the words momentarily stunned her. “I should have been here for you, Ava.” Mutely, she shook her head.

“I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble,” she said, looking out at her unconscious classmates. “I know you always told me it was dangerous, but I… I never imagined anything like this.” He grimaced faintly, and nodded, standing and offering his hand to pull her to her feet before he turned back to face the others.

“I think,” he said, “That once we’re all taken care of, we’re going to need to have a talk about what happened here.” He suspected that none of them had the whole story, but all of them knew a part of it. He locked eyes with Nikki, but said nothing. For now, he would respect her wishes, and tell no one of what he’d discovered. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to talk to her about it. It just meant that he knew it would have to wait until everything else had calmed down.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"It's about time you showed up.."
"I've got bigger things to worry about right now."



Nikki's attention turned to the familiar as it spoke Ava's name. She was being attacked? What about there others, where were they? Where was Vincent? Nikki really didn't have much time to contemplate it, as without much warning other than a 'forgive me', her cousin picked her up and held her to his chest as he jumped. For a second all Nikki could even focus on was the butterfly beating of her heart. But she soon overcame those feelings, as well as the tears.

As soon as Jasper set her down, her face was once again that cold, steel mask. If there was anything she was truly good at, it was hiding her emotions when it truly counted. And right now, so long as Jasper kept his word and didn't tell anyone who she was, she had to hide the tumult of emotions constricting in her chest. For Jasper to tell her that she was not to blame herself for what had happened was almost futile. Almost. There was a slight commanding tone in his voice, and if ever Jasper was able to refuse her nothing as a child, she also could not ignore anything he asked of her, Pure Blood or not. She didn't respond to him, but she did follow as he headed back to the stage. The sight that greeted her was not a pleasant one.

It seemed Vincent had managed to gain at least some strain of control over the situation, but Ava was cut, and Morgan was hurt rather badly. Taking in a deep breath, Nikki started doing one of the few things she could. She could heal. Well, perhaps heal wasn't quite the right word. All she could really do was speed the process up, be the patient human or vampire. It had to do with her control of fire, but it was so subtle, one would never guess she was using Pyrokenesis unless you knew the theory behind it. Ava was already being taken care of, so she moved on to her brother.

Morgan was on his knees, not far from Ava and the Headmaster, wiping blood from his face. He was taking great care to breath in through his mouth and out through his nose. As much as he hated to admit it, the scent of Ava's blood was very hard for him to ignore. If he kept on smelling it, he knew he would very likely lose control. And he didn't want to take that chance. He looked up as Nikki approached him. The part of his mind always asking questions wonder yet again who she really was, but now was certainly not the time to pursue needless questions.

He watched as she knelt down next to him, inspecting his back. "I can feel that they're healing, but not as fast as normal." The girl nodded absentmindedly. "I think it has something to do with the fact that they weren't normal Level E's. A lot of people are taking longer to heal." Without another word, she slid on of his own blades from the inside of his jacket, and cut the cloth from his back. He didn't protest. In his condition there was no way he'd be able to get it off the right way. She set the blade down, and he felt her put her hands against the cuts.

He grit his teeth as his muscles contracted, and he felt a small touch of heat, from her hands, presumably. Then he realized what was going on. She was speeding the healing process, and he was healing at his usual rate. He wondered how fast she could make people heal if the process wasn't inhibited by something. It certainly was an intriguing, and handy, ability.

“I think that once we’re all taken care of, we’re going to need to have a talk about what happened here.”


Nikki locked eyes with him, and to her credit, she didn't look away. It was clear that he wanted to speak with her more, but also that it would have to wait. After a few seconds, she looked back down at the back of Morgan's head, as if there was nothing wrong. Her Master had taught her nothing if not how to hide. Still, she was not relishing reliving the last century. It was not a pleasant one, not by a long shot.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"This was not supposed to happen, even I am unsure of what happened here."




Erys managed to knock another vampire unconscious that slipped through Vincent's grasp and was relieved when Jasper appeared. With the both of them, the remaining vampires were subjected to their control and forced to obey. Erys sighed, ripping a part of her dress and folded over her arm. Even with her vampire blood, the wound would be a slow process at healing. She hadn't fed in the last few months, but that was nothing to her. She had learned control a long time ago thanks to her father. She then turned to Ava as Jasper helped her up. A flash of hurt went through Erys' eyes as she stared at her friend. She had been unable to help her when she needed her. And that hurt more than anything.

Yuri jumped upon Ava's shoulder, now in her smaller white form, and rubbed against the girls' cheek. She then turned towards her master who looked away. She frowned slightly at the gesture but remained upon Ava's shoulder. After all the precautions they had taken to prevent something like this from happening, people were still hurt, scared, and more than anything: confused. A secret that had been kept lip-tight was now to where everyone in the Academy knew. With just the two pure-bloods and the Morgenstern and Alistair vampire, they wouldn't be able to erase all of the memories in one night. There was too many people.

Vincent watched the scene in front of him, Nikki healing Morgan and Jasper attending to Ava. Erys stood off to the side glancing away from the two, and it was something he could understand. These people here were under both of their protection, and they had failed. It was a foreign feeling within him, failing something. He wasn't used to it at all, but it was a matter for another time. He walked towards the others, slowly as if he was hesitant to be there. He overheard the Morgenstern vampire state something, and it caused him to pause in his steps. Turning so that he faced the both of them, he spoke.

"No, they were not. Something was driving them. Level E's do not attack in hordes like that," he then turned away from the two and made his way towards his friend and his sister. The Headmaster was attending to the wound on Ava's neck, something he was grateful for. If the bleeding wasn't under control, the risk of exposing her again would be great, and he couldn't have that. He knew Jasper couldn't risk that either. Both of them managed to gain the vampires once, but doing so again would be extremely straining on the body. They may have been old vampires, but they were not so old enough as to be completely in control of those particular abilities. He sighed and turned towards Jasper and Erys.

"This was no ordinary course of action. Whoever was controlling those vampires was after something here. That vampire who took Ava, what did he want?" he stated as he turned to face Erys. She stood quiet for a moment, listening to the words that echoed through her mind. What did he want? He didn't want anything apparently, just to reveal to the students that vampires existed. Wait, he mentioned something. What was it? Erys furrowed her brows as she tried to remember. She wasn't focused on what he was saying more-so than she was focused on saving Ava.

"He didn't want anything. He just stated to the humans that vampires existed. Although," she paused, placing a hand under her chin as she glanced down. "He did say something about the world belonging fully to vampires. Vincent, do you have any idea what he means by that? Have you heard anything from the council?" she directed the question towards Vincent, but glanced at Jasper as well. She knew that the both of them were on the council. Perhaps they knew something about the spike of Level E's, or something. Vincent, however, shook his head. The last meeting they had was about the blood pills and how effective were they with the Night Class.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“This has gone so terribly wrong; I’m honestly not sure how much worse it could be.”


Seven mornings from the festival incident found Jasper and Ava seated a the breakfast table, but they were not speaking to one another. It wasn’t that either of them was upset with the other, only that both had much on their minds and neither was in a mood to talk, particularly. Jasper was reading the newspaper, but Ava just idly picked at the eggs she’d made. They were tasty, of course, but it seemed that food had entirely lost its flavor recently. She couldn’t help but replay the events of that night over and over in her mind, and nightmares about what had almost gone wrong—and what had gone wrong—played so vividly through her mind that she’d been unable to sleep much at all. There were dark circles under her eyes, and some of the healthy glow she usually had about her was diminished. Her face was starting to look gaunt, her cheeks faintly hollowed out, not nearly so childishly-round as they once were.

Jasper was showing the wear less—immortal creatures did not change so fast as humans—but he’d slept no more than she had. Her rooms were attached to his, and his hearing was good enough that he could hear her toss and turn at night, hear her screaming when she accidentally fell asleep. After the third time he’d run in to find her shaking and crying soundlessly, she’d asked him not to come in again unless she called for him. Though the nightmares had only grown worse since then, she never did. It was breaking his heart. Along with the rest of what they had to deal with, it felt like a gaping hole was being torn in his chest.

The newspaper wasn’t helping. Someone—he had no idea who—had taken photos on the night of the incident, and these were now published, along with an exposé on Cross Academy and the true nature of the students that dwelt there. No amount of talent in erasing memory could stop something once it reached the press. Vampires had been outed to the world, and though the Council was doing all it could to make the photos seem doctored, the believers merely insane conspiracy theorists, the fact that some Hunters were stepping forward to confirm the truth of the rumors was not making the task any easier. Perhaps, with years of time, they could sweep all of this under the rug, but for at least the next while, life was going to be very difficult for everyone.

Classes at Cross had been suspended, members of the Day Class immediately summoned home by worried and protective parents, unsure whether to believe the rumors, but at least aware that she school had been attacked by something. There was no hiding the destroyed front gate so soon, after all. Some of the students had remained, but all in all, Cross was down to half its usual enrollment in both classes, and the Headmaster had given everyone two weeks to sort out where they wanted to go from here. The school, he said, would always be open to anyone who wanted to attend, but perhaps it was for the best that events should cool down before any lasting decisions were made.

They were now one week into that two, and minus a few conversations with Vincent—mostly business—and one slightly-awkward run-in with Morgan, Jasper’s social contact had been limited to Ava, his father, and a few other Council members as he tried to figure out how to coordinate Council response to these events. They were doing all they could, but even their powers were far from boundless. Things were just going to be difficult.

Frowning, he tossed the newspaper onto the table and sighed, his shoulders slumping. It was not a face he would shoe the public, but Ava was much more than an assistant to him, and she’d see through any attempts he made to act as though none of this affected him. Just like he would see through any effort she made to smile right now, when she was so clearly miserable. Her sunshine had dampened, and he mourned its loss. But he could not demand of her that she be happy, not after what she had endured. He thought it might well be the first time in her life that someone had treated her as a mere tool, and object and a food source, and he could understand that the cruelty was getting to her. He glanced over the table, saw the angry red slash still healing on the smooth skin of her neck, and failed to suppress the flash of guilt in his eyes.

She caught on, and the frown etched into her face grew deeper. Neither of them spoke, but at length, she pushed her plate away and stood. “I’m going for a walk,” she said, more decisively than she felt. Jasper glanced out the window.

“It’s raining,” he pointed out, as though this were somehow not obvious. Their once-easy conversations had become strained and stilted over the week, as she continually refused to let him in and he struggled with secrets that weighed heavily on his mind, no more able to share his burdens with her.

She shrugged, face strangely expressionless. “I’ll take an umbrella.” He conceded with a nod—though he wanted to keep her indoors, where he could watch after her, she was a free person, and there was no real good reason to stop her other than his own concern. She had made it clear that it was not presently welcome. He supposed he understood, even if he didn’t like it. Watching her leave, he sighed again and did the dishes, grabbing his laptop and heading into one of the Moon Dorm’s common rooms to do some work. Ever since the students had started leaving, the common areas had become much more quiet, and there was currently nobody around. He wasn’t sure if he was happy about that or would have preferred the company, honestly.

Ava, meanwhile, had indeed taken an umbrella with her, but she was not using it. She’d never said she would, after all, and she tried to find the same joy she’d always felt at the feeling of rain on her face. No matter how she tried, it eluded her, and all the falling water did was plaster her hair to her neck and her cheeks, sliding down and over the scarlet line that still marred her neck. She wondered if it would scar, forever there to remind her of the time she’d nearly gotten herself and people she cared about killed, just because she was some kind of freak and not a normal human being at all. Who was she, thinking that she belonged in their world? That man… he’d shown her the truth of the matter. She was just a piece of meat, and a particularly vulnerable one at that. They were predators, she was prey, and that her lions tried so fiercely to protect a rabbit was just… it was a burden they didn't need. She was a burden they didn’t need, and the knowledge hurt so badly.

She felt a sting building at the back of her eyes, but she would not cry. That would just be the final nail in the coffin of what little pride she had. Instead, she took refuge from the rain underneath a tree, sitting against the trunk with her legs crossed, palms pressed into the grass. “I wish I was someone else…” she murmured to no one. Ava couldn’t let herself be this miserable around anyone else, because she couldn’t drag them down with her, but by herself, she figured she was entitled to a little bit of self-pity. She’d almost gotten her friends killed, and it wasn’t a problem she could solve just by doing something about it. She would always be a weak human being. And they would always be stronger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"I wouldn't exactly say I've been avoiding him, but..."



As a little girl, Nikki had never been one for confrontation. She'd hated arguments, and conflict, and she had abhorred fighting. At one hundred and fifty-three, she had now killed more Nobles than she could count, and a few Pure Bloods under her belt, and had fed off of countless nameless humans over the course of one hundred years. She wondered what Jasper would say about that when he heard. If he heard. She was well aware that he wanted to speak with her, but he had enough on his plate with what had happened a week earlier.

Still, that didn't mean he wasn't thinking about it, she was certain. She'd watched as he'd interacted with her brother once, and had seen Jasper struggle with what he was trying to say. In the end, nothing had come to light, and by the way her brother had acted, he chalked it up to the stress Jazz was under. Points for her brothers' oblivious nature at times. She was certainly thankful for it now. Whether either of them had known she was there, neither had shown it. After that, Nikki had kept her distance from both her brother and her cousin. At least, until now.

She owed Jasper an explanation, she knew that, and to be completely honest, she wanted some information herself. As she had healed her brother's back a week ago, she'd noticed a few things that had disturbed her greatly. She needed to know if Jasper knew anything about it, and if he didn't, perhaps they could fit a few more of the puzzle pieces together. It wasn't hard for her to find her cousin, and she was well aware he knew she was approaching as well as she walked up to him sitting at a table in the common area of the Moon Dorm. The one thing that was different about her appearance was the long, thin bag she had strapped to her back. Ever since the attack, she hadn't let the sword out of her sight. Nikki was a good enough fighter without her blade, but with the sword in hand, she was exponentially more lethal.

She stood at the chair across from him, in full view of the windows behind Jasper. While she would never enter a room without keeping her eyes potioned at least in the direction of the door, she felt confident enough that Jasper would make her aware should anyone enter. She rested both her hands on the back of the chair, looking directly at him. "If you're going to ask, go ahead and ask. But I can't promise that I'll answer everything."

Her demeanor was nothing like what it had been when she was a little girl. Before she'd been happy, bubbly, and a chatter box. Now, she stood there, a cold and closed-off vampire who knew one thing anymore. And that one thing was death. Weather it was dealt to her or by her, it didn't matter. It was the one thing that ruled her entire world. And it had taken it's toll.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Even now, it still feels like a storm is coming."




Vincent stared out the window to his room, the clouds gray and releasing the water kept in their hands. It had been seven days since that incident, and he couldn't help but replay the events that happened. It only caused his fists to clench tightly as his eyes narrowed slightly. He had allowed a vampire to escape him, hurt his sister's friend, and caused the unnecessary use of his suppression against the other vampires. If it hadn't been for Jasper's help, things might not have gone so smoothly and there would have been a high body count of students, particularly the night class.

He withdrew his attention from the window and glanced around the room. It appeared spotless and pristine, something that had become frequent as of late. Erys had taken it upon herself to clean the entire dorm room, including her own. Not that he'd stop her from doing what she wanted in the first place, he could tell she was doing it out of the frustration she had felt after what had happened. He didn't blame her, and there wasn't a way he could comfort her as he couldn't even help the dreaded feeling that he had felt himself.

He released a slow, yet heavy, sigh through his nose as he left the room, walking out of the dormitory. He grabbed an umbrella before he left, not entirely sure why. Rain never seemed to bother him much, and it felt refreshing to feel it against his skin. It also calmed him down, allowed him to sort out his thoughts as it were. The exposure of vampires had been leaked to the world, the events of Cross Academy leaked to the public. It was taking a lot out of the council to try and conceal what had happened, but they could only do so much. It had taken a toll on both Vincent and Jasper, both being part of the council to begin with.

In due time, perhaps they could erase this, but in the meantime, something must be done now. A meeting needed to be arranged with the hunters, or namely the president, to see if the others could be convinced to not spread the disease any further. With the few hunters stepping forward to confirm the existence of vampires, the last thing they needed was curious humans sniffing around where they were unwanted. Engrossed in his thoughts, he had found himself in a small clearing, the rain still pouring in soft patter against the grass. A familiar scent entered his senses as he spotted Ava, standing out in the rain becoming soaked. What caught his attention though, were the words she had spoken.

"Wishing you were someone else doesn't solve what happened, nor would it have prevented it. The person who would have replaced you would have still suffered the same consequences of the event all the same. There is nothing you could have done to have prevented what happened. What is done, has been done" he spoke, standing next to her in the process. He held the umbrella in his hand, opened it, and placed it over the smaller girl. He stared out in front of him, unsure of why he was still here. Perhaps because a part of him felt compelled to be here, but regardless, he stayed.

"It would be best if you didn't venture by yourself either. There is a threat still looming around. I cannot, however, force you to do anything against your will. It is for you to decide what you want to do," he finished, finally glancing down at the honey-haired girl. In his own way, Vincent was trying to comfort the girl, but as with Erys, he just didn't know how to do so. Perhaps he was making it worse. He shifted a bit at the notion.

Erys had kept herself busy the last few days, trying everything she could to keep her mind off of the events that had occurred. She had lost her temper a few times, destroying a few things out in the forest during a training session with Vincent. She had never felt so helpless as she had that day to protect Ava. If she had been faster, more aware of what was going on, maybe she could have prevented the outbreak. She scoffed at the notion. What more could she have done to protect her friend? She may have been half a vampire, but even then she still had her limits. She merely furrowed her brows in frustration as she left the Academy grounds.

She had tried to keep herself busy by continuing her rounds, acting as if nothing happened, but it was no use. Even though Classes were dismissed for the week, she still interacted with the Day Class students, and they hounded her with questions to no end. Some feared their night counterparts, and they were rightfully to do so. Any one of the Night Class students could claim the life of a Day Class student should they want to. The only thing that kept them from doing so was the delicate treaty hanging in the balance, and her. She sighed heavily as she walked around the compound, umbrella in hand as the water fell.

With nothing going on, Erys found herself lost in her own thoughts. It was still eating away at her how the vampires had lost control of their thirst, trying so desperately to attack Ava. Something clenched onto Erys' chest as she thought of a possibility of her not being there. If she, or Morgan, hadn't been there, what would have become of Ava? She could have died, or worse, she could have been bled slowly and kept for further process of her blood. This angered Erys greatly, the shift in weather agreeing with her. She was brought out of her thoughts when she spotted something, rather someone, out and about. She felt the anger slowly dissipate as she recognized who it was.

"Some vampire you are, sporting a mark like that on your face," Erys stated, crossing her arms against her chest as she stared at the Alistair vampire. His eye was still covered, if barely, in the purple bruise she had given to him the night of the festival. A smirk wormed it's way to her lips in the process as she stared, a look of triumph and accomplishment flashing through her eyes. It soon, however, disappeared as she released her arms, allowing them to fall to her sides. "Don't think to much on this, but," she paused, sighing as she searched for the words to say. If it wasn't for him, Ava would have been attacked as well. Part of her was thankful to the Alistair vampire for intervening when she couldn't have.

"Thanks for helping Ava. That...means a lot to me," she stated, resisting the urge to roll her eyes and fidgeted nervously in her spot. She wasn't used to thanking other people, other than Ava or her brother, for something, and this was just about as awkward as it could be, especially thanking him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“I do not know what I am supposed to say—nothing I was ever taught was made for moments like this one.”


The thrumming of the rain was steady on the windows behind him, and perhaps it was that that lent Jasper the strange, preternatural sense of calm that settled over him. If he were Morgan, he would be demanding answers right now, he knew, and he didn’t think he would necessarily be wrong to do so. But… he was not the kind of man who thought of himself first, even in those situations when he wanted to. His mother had long ago shamed all such selfishness right out of him with her example. He could not ask everything he wanted to, because he needed first to consider her feelings.

So Jasper closed his laptop gently, setting it aside and propping his elbows on the table in front of him. Interlacing his fingers, he settled them in front of his mouth and just sat like that for a few minutes, studying her. He supposed the scrutiny might be vaguely uncomfortable, but there was nothing harsh or judgmental in his gaze, and that was the best he could do. He was simply… taking her in. Trying to reconcile the image before him with the one from his memory. In some ways, they fit together as though no time had passed at all. But in the vast majority of instances, he was having trouble imagining what his cousin must have been through to become this woman in front of him.

She sat rather defensively, as though ready to leave her seat at any moment, at the drop of the merest pin. Surprisingly, she was seated with her back to the door, but he did not take this to be something careless on her part—she would surely know better. That meant either she trusted him to make her aware of any danger that came from that direction… or he was the most likely thing to be dangerous right now. He hoped it was the former, but he did not understand enough of this person to know for sure. He did, however, know quite a lot about swords, and he knew what the case on her back was for. She was armed in her own dormitory, even feeling the need to be armed in his presence. And yet… she’d sought him out voluntarily. What did that mean? He didn’t have enough social experience to be sure.

The more he saw, the guiltier he felt. She’d lost her light. No, perhaps not quite—it was still there. But it was dim and flickering, like a single candle in the wind, and there was a very real danger that it would gutter out. He hoped it was not too late; Jasper could not bear the thought of it dying entirely. If only…

When he spoke, it was not to ask anything, and his tone held more certainty than a question would have warranted. It also contained a century’s worth of anguish and heartache. “I am sorry,” he said slowly, mournfully, and then he did something even he was not expecting. He stood, crossed to her side of the table, and knelt in front of her chair, lowering his head in a gesture of shame and deference. “Any apology I could give you, any measure of attempted recompense, would be inadequate to what you have suffered. You deserved so much better than what you received, not just from my grandfather, but from me. I should have made sure, and when I could not be, I should have searched. If I had known there was the faintest chance you yet lived, I would have torn the world apart to find you, Kiki. That was what you deserved, and I failed utterly to do this. Please… I have no right to ask you to forgive me, but I must.” He did not raise his head—he would not. He was apologizing, not only as a member of a family that had wronged hers, but also as the cousin who had failed to realize what was really going on. As someone she had trusted, who had been utterly unable to give that trust its due.

He didn’t need her to tell him what she’d been through—not if she didn’t want to. He could guess it just by looking at her, and it hurt his heart to imagine.




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“But if it wasn’t me… maybe that someone else would be strong enough.”


At some point, she honestly couldn’t say when, she’d left the sanctuary of the tree and gone to stand out in the rain more fully, her umbrella left forgotten beneath the boughs of the plant itself. Her clothing, generally looser than tight, was swiftly dampened, and that was vaguely uncomfortable, the feeling of fabric getting plastered to her skin, but in the end, she’d put up with it for the way the same drops of water felt on her face and in her hair, like a weight and a refreshment all at the same time. She’d always been a sunshine kind of person—but right now, she felt that the rain suited everything very well.

She’d closed her eyes at some point, and so she didn’t notice that someone had approached until the droplets of water had stopped falling on her. When she opened her eyes again, it was to note the dark color of an umbrella over her head, and the familiar face of the person holding it. Part of her was touched that he cared at all, and the other part was just mortified that she probably looked like a drowned kitten in his presence. It was not at all the impression she tried to give on a daily basis, and for good reason. If she’d ever needed to be reminded that she was small and weak, this moment, standing next to someone who was the opposite of both of those things, would have been sufficient. As things were, it was probably overkill. The universe was laughing at her, and the laughter was not kind.

“I know,” she said by way of reply. It was almost hard to force the words out, but she did, a slightly-pained half-smile crossing her face before it fell away as well. “You’re right, of course. But… what if that other person had been stronger than me? Maybe they would have been able to fix things now. Or not get into so much trouble in the first place.” She reached up, unconsciously tracing the raised line of the injury. It didn’t bleed anymore, of course, but she wondered if it would scar. She may have to start wearing turtlenecks and scarves if it did.

Sighing softly, Ava pulled her wet hair over her shoulder and started squeezing the water from it with both hands, attempting the same with the hem of her pale sweater. “I understand where you’re coming from, I do, and it’s probably a pain to look after me, but… I just feel like… if I don’t do all the things I normally did, if I just stay inside and near Jazz all the time… it’s like being a prisoner. And it’s not fair to him either. Why should he have to look out for me all the time? He has a life, too—a very busy one, and he deserves time to himself.” He deserved to be able to sleep without having to rush into her room and make her feel better about her nightmares. To people like him and Vincent, maybe she was still just a child, but by human standards, she should be more than that. It was hard sometimes, living in two worlds.

“If I never went outside by myself again, never ran in the morning or laid on the grass at night and looked at the universe, don’t you think I’m letting him beat me?” Maybe it was a pointless argument to make. She felt like she’d already been beaten. This walk had been undertaken mostly because she couldn’t stand to be around Jazz for a minute longer. He was too… something. Too kind, too willing to bend over backwards. He needed to focus on his work, and take some time for himself. She couldn’t be the reason he failed to do that—it would be exactly the opposite of what she’d promised when she became his assistant and when she became his friend.

Speaking of which… “I’m sorry. You don’t deserve to be bothered any more than he does. I know you’re both really busy. I’m glad you’re here, though—I did want to thank you, for helping. I should thank everyone…” She trailed off, not really sure of what else to say.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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"You're not the one who should be apologizing."



Nikki had started holding her breath when her cousin began to speak. And when he finished, and didn't raise his head, she let out that breath with a soft sigh. She regarded him silently for a few seconds, as he had done after she had sat down. It had not been uncomfortble in the slightest, which had surprised her slightly. Still, she had a bit more on her plate for the time being than to worry about her own feelings. She took a deep breath, exhaling out through her nose before speaking.

"I will only say this one time, Jasper von Nacht. No, I will not forgive you. But not for the reason you think. I'll give you that perhaps you could have seen the attack coming. Perhaps. But in the end, what happened that night was no more your fault than it was mine. I know that now, and I will not forgive you for thinking that any of it was your fault. As for the rest of it..."

She reached down and took his hand in hers. "Look at me, Jazzie." She smiled at him when he met her eyes, one of her old smiles back from when she still knew how. There was pain in those eyes, and so much sorrow. She wanted to erase that, to make it go away, and to hurt any and all who had caused it to be there in the first place. His eyes were beautiful, they weren't meant to be marred by negative emotions such as these. She had watched as his shoulders had tensed when she said she wouldn't forgive him, and after she had finished, they had relaxed some. "You never got the slightest hint that I was alive because I never left one. I was supposed to have died that night, so I did. I erased everything that I could. I kept on the move, and no one knew who I was or where I was going. Or at least, that's what I thought. As it turns out, our Grandfather has suspected that I survived all along. That's why, for now, I want Momo to remain oblivious to the fact that I am, in fact, Nikki Alistair." She released his hand, letting out a soft sigh. Mentioning her brother had brought to mind an unpleasant topic.

"Speaking of Morgan, I kept tabs on him those twenty years that he went off the radar himself. I can imagine that you, or one of the Council did as well. If you didn't, I'll happily provide that information should you ask, though I doubt you'll like what I have to tell you if you don't know already. But that's not my point. I noticed something when I healed Morgan a week ago. There was also a period of three months that I couldn't find him, about ten years into his hiatus. I'm wondering if you know anything about where he was during those three months, or anything about the ligature scars on his wrists, and the scars on his back."



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"Says the woman who gave me said mark."



Morgan had been wandering aimlessly on the grounds in the rain, letting the water soak into his hair and his clothes, thinking. He had so much on his mind, wondering if there was any way for him to help his cousin, or the Council, and in the end, he had slunk his way around in the shadows, remaining anonymous, as he was prone to do. The only thing he really did do was cut off his contacts wit the Hunters. The battle lines were drawn, and he would stand by his family, the only ones he had left.

He was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he didn't notice Erys approach until she spoke to him. At her comment, he grinned toothily at her. "You know me, I like to flaunt my colors. Besides, it was one hell of a punch you threw, I'm honored." However, he instantly sobered as she apologized. Morgan's face grew dark, and he stuck his hands in his pockets as he leaned against the wall. "Don't thank me, Erys. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would do whatever it took to protect those apart of my family, so that I never had to watch them die again. Even so..." His hands clenched in his pocket before he finished, "I was fighting myself as much as the other vampires that night. I'm as weak as I ever was, and a century hasn't changed that. The only difference between myself and them was the fact that I was holding my breath."

It burned his tounge to admit that he had almost succumbed himself to the allure of Ava's blood. He didn't like to see himself that way, it drudged up too many ghosts from his past that he wanted to bury.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




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"Human lives are too short to for what if's because what is done cannot be undone."




Vincent remained silent as Ava spoke, unsure of what to say to the girl. She was berating herself, something Vincent found odd. For being a human with a particularly alluring scent, not that he'd ever mention that, she was strong in her own right to serve so closely to vampires. Not only that, to be near vampires in general and take it all with a smile, she was truly a strong person in her own right. This is perhaps why he didn't like humans too much. They were always belittling themselves, pushing too much expectations out of themselves that wasn't necessary. He would give them credit though for being determined creatures, never giving up and trying to get the most out of their mortal life.

"If that person had been stronger than you, they would have still fallen. No amount of strength could have saved them from the horde that would have inevitably taken you. Your strength comes from those who fought to protect you. If not for them," he paused, glancing at Ava through the corner of his eye, "if not for those bonds you created, you would have surely perished. Strength comes in different forms. Your's comes from the belief you have in your friends," he finished, his eyes never leaving Ava's form. He watched as she drenched the water from her hair, and as she released a sigh.

He wasn't sure of what was running through her mind, and he wasn't going to pry. It would be unlike him. He was taken back a bit by her thanking him. He blinked slowly as the information processed. He had protected not only her, but his sister and the other vampire, Morgan. That was something anyone would have done, there was no reason to thank him. The events shouldn't have happened in the first place. He had allowed someone to slip passed him, hurt his sister's friend, and there was nothing he could have done. He should have been able to have done something though, regardless. He was a pure-blood, an old one at that, and he should have seen something like this coming.

"Jasper has a long life ahead of him. Spending a few decades caring for a human is something he chooses to do. Do not believe yourself a burden to those who have nothing but time on their hands. Allow him to protect you until your mortal life expires. You are his sister," Vincent finished off the conversation. He wasn't entirely sure if she would take what he said the wrong way or not. He wasn't exactly one to console a person, not even his own sister, and he wasn't sure how to go about it. Regardless, Ava was his sister's friend, and as such, in some way, his own.




Erys scoffed at Morgan's comment. The bruise could have been worse, but she had been restraining herself. Although there was nothing to fear about hurting the vampire, he was a vampire after all, she still held back. Still, the mark should have healed by now. Perhaps he wasn't consuming the amount of blood pills it required to have his system regenerate quickly. Or perhaps it might have been something to do with the fact that he was only a Noble. Things like that always eluded Erys. She couldn't tell the difference between a pure-blood and a noble vampire at times. She was taken from her thoughts by the next comment Morgan made.

"It is a good thing you held your breath then. Otherwise, I would have had to give you more than just that eye," she retorted. It was true in a sense. If any vampire had so much has laid a hand on Ava that night, Erys couldn't be held accountable for what might have happened to that vampire. They were lucky to begin with that she and Vincent had restrained themselves enough from killing them. Erys had made a promise to herself that she would always protect her friends, and her family. She scoffed at the thought. It appears that Morgan and herself shared that similar trait.

"And I do not believe you were weak, Morgan. If you were, you would have succumbed to the temptation of blood. Not many vampires, even as old as yourself, can say they have that kind of restraint. Ava's blood is very tempting, I am aware of that, being half of what you are, it's not an easy thing to restrain oneself," she stated, her tone very demanding and coming out a bit harsher than she had intended. She sighed, relaxing her shoulders a bit as she glanced away from Morgan. A small smile settled upon her face as she returned her attention towards him.

"Come on, you can help me with a patrol," she stated, punching him lightly in the shoulder in the process. Even though the two of them might not have gotten along, she still felt like she owed the vampire something, if not only for protecting Ava from the others, but from himself as well.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

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“I think he deserves to know, but… this is not my choice to make.”


At first, he did indeed stiffen, the line of his shoulders becoming tense and hard, but he did not raise his face. He had not necessarily expected her forgiveness when he asked for it—it was the asking that was important. What happened after that, he had already decided, would be entirely up to her. If she could not or would not forgive him, then he would leave her in peace, as was her wish. He would not be the reason she suffered more than she already had.

But then she continued and a weight lifted from his chest. Her small hand grasped his large one, and obediently, he straightened somewhat to look at her, still on one knee on the ground, but no longer with something like subservience. He wasn’t made for it, honestly—doing what he had just done went against every instinct he had. He was a pureblood, and given his lineage, virtually a prince among his kind, not that he had ever sought the designation. But even so, he knew he had power, and the part of him that was, at base, a predator did not take kindly to bowing before others. But he was not only a predator—he was also a son and a cousin and a friend and a person, and as all of those things, he knew she deserved even more than he could give. So he’d done what felt right.

When she let go, he stood, towering over her seated form for just the barest moment before he stepped back. She’d smiled at him, as she had so freely when they were children, and he returned it just as openly, placing a hand on her head and mussing her short dark hair as he had then, but the mood had shifted now, and he returned to his chair, listening attentively to what she had to say. She was right of course; he had kept track of Morgan for most of the last century, but it was odd that they’d both lost track of him at the same time. A dark suspicion was taking root in the back of his mind, one that at once infuriated and shamed him. But for now at least, he left it unvoiced. There was more to be discovered before such accusations could ever make the light. Some things were dangerous to even say, and Jasper knew that better than most.

“He is my family,” Jasper replied evenly, and though that was answer enough, he chose to elaborate. Better to say too much than not enough in a situation like this. “I’ve kept what tabs on him I could, even during those twenty years, but… I lost track of him at the same time you did.” he had noticed the injuries, but since he had not been personally watching Morgan for all those years, he had no way of knowing when they’d been received. But if it was at the same time as he went missing… “Perhaps I can speak with him. He may be willing to tell me the story, if I am careful with my words.” His concern showed on his face—there was so little joy or point in wearing the mask of mere duty when he was with her. He wanted her to know, to understand how much he loved them all.

He sighed softly. “One day, when you are comfortable and feel you can speak of it, I would like—no. I should hear exactly what happened on that day, and why you believed yourself to blame. But it need not be today; perhaps enough has been said for now.” He smiled gently, his eyes softening. “You are welcome to stay of course, and keep my company as long as you want it, but I understand if you wish to leave instead.” A short pause.

“I… cannot adequately express how good it is to have you back, Kiki.”




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“And people take you to be stern and insensitive. They don’t know how wrong they are.”


Her strength was the belief she had in her friends…? She’d never heard it put that way before, but she supposed that he was right. Ava touched a finger to her lower lip contemplatively, and realized that she’d bruised it with all the thoughtful chewing before. Definitely a sign that she needed to spend some quality time with her violin, but she hadn’t had much heart for playing in the last week or so, perhaps understandably. Regardless, she was feeling a bit more like doing so now.

Ah, of course. Somehow, she’d managed to fail to take into account the fact that she wasn’t even capable of being much of a burden for someone like Jazz. She had at best nine or so decades on the earth, probably fewer, and she knew that to someone who’d lived and would live as long as him, as long as any of her friends, that was scarcely more than an eyeblink. Would they forget her, as time moved on? The thought was a little melancholy, but though it saddened her to consider, more than that, it was enlightening. Suddenly, Jazz’s willingness to indulge her was a factor not only of his personality, but of his age, and she felt that the understood him a little more. She was so focused on making the most out of her short life that she’d forgotten to account for how it must feel to live a longer one.

On the one, hand, it made her feel about as significant as a fly on a windshield, but… she’d never really minded being unimportant before, and she wasn’t going to start now. Though his words were blunt, and perhaps another person would have taken the reminder of their mortality badly, Ava too saw no point in trying to hide from the obvious. So she cut Vincent a side glance and smiled brightly. “You give great advice, you know that?” Rotating a bit so the she was facing his side, she reached up on impulse and touched the hand that was holding the umbrella briefly, a small gesture of gratitude. Well, and perhaps affection, but she was dong her best not to think like that right now. It wasn’t the time for such silly foibles as hers.

“I find it strange that people call you things like cold and uncaring. I think you care a lot, maybe more than you’re willing to admit. Perhaps even to yourself. Thank you, and I mean that. My short mortal life and I have done enough moping—I’m going to go find Jazz and see what I can help him with. If you ever need anything organized, or any believing in you done, just let me know.” It was only half a joke, but she flashed another bright smile and jogged over to the tree she’d originally been under, picking up her own umbrella. With a wave goodbye, she headed in the direction of the Moon Dorm—she was sure there was a backlog of work to be done. Maybe she’d make Jazz a cake to apologize to him. He did have quite the sweet tooth, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"How on earth do I let myself get dragged into these things?"



Morgan sighed, finding himself back in the large ballroom of Cross Academy, sitting in one of four chairs that had been lined up on the left side of the room, placed halfway between the long table that housed the heads of the Hunter's Association, and the table across from that, reserved for the Vampire High Council. Jasper and Vincent would be taking their seats along with the other Council Members soon. The two groups were there to renegotiate peace treaties due to the recent attack and subsequent revelation that vampires actually existed to the general public.

It had been two weeks since that night. The negotiations were inevitable, but very few people actually thought they would work, Morgan included. Still, here he was, if only because his cousin asked him to be there as a neutral party, as it were, a representative of Cross Academy. In his situation, Morgan was one of the best for the job, he supported nor worked against anyone in the room in particular. He had contacts among both the Council and the Association, so he seemed best suited for this job. Still, it made his position here awkward. He rolled his shoulders, trying to alleviate some of the stress. Pushing his personal thoughts aside, he crossed his arms and legs, waiting for the others to arrive and the talks to begin.

Nikki arrived later than she would have liked. Jasper had asked her to sit in as a neutral party. He had failed to mention that he had also asked Morgan to be one as well. Her temper flared on the inside, but she didn't let it show. She also noted that there were two empty chairs, but it wasn't hard to figure out who they were for. Ava would be there, especially since it was she who had been attacked, and of course Erys, being the school's only Prefect. She nodded to Morgan as she sat down in the chair farthest from him, watching as members of the Council began to trickle in.

Her heart skipped a beat and her hands clenched at her knees, the same time as Morgan stiffened in his chair. They had both noticed the same man enter. Theodor von Nacht walked in and took a seat at the Council's Table. He sat in the second seat to the left of the middle, where Jasper would be seated, and Vincent would be in between them. Both of the Alistair children thought the same thing, at roughly the same moment. What on earth is he doing here?

As far as either of them knew, he'd lost his seat after it had come to light that he'd been behind the attack on their family, yet here he was, sitting there as if he'd never left. Steel grey eyes scanned over the people in the room. They passed over Nikki rather quickly, taking the girl in, but not regarding her overmuch. But they rested on Morgan, and met the boys' eyes. Theodor actually smiled at what he saw in his grandsons' eyes, though one would not call it a happy smile. Contempt, perhaps, or maybe amusement. Morgan only glared at him. The young vampire wanted nothing more than to kill the man where he sat, to watch as the life left his body. But Theodor had centuries, if not millennia, on him, and Morgan wouldn't stand a chance. He knew that. On top of that, he was supposed to be a neutral party here. So he sat back and kept his mouth shut. He hoped this would take long.

The tensions hanging in the air, coming from both sides of the room, pressed down on everyone as the room filled. Everyone was uneasy, and it was not hard to figure out why. Some of the vampires had wine glasses with blood tablets in them placed before them, while the hunters had water, or the occasional glass of wine. The animosity was palpable, everyone was aware of it. Morgan cursed silently to himself. This was the last time he did his cousin a favor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"So, it's come down to this has it?."




It was a bit odd, in Erys' mind that the council and association would want to meet at the Academy. But then Vincent had explained that it was best that the two companies would be better off meeting on neutral territory, and Cross Academy happened to be that neutral territory. Whatever the reason, Erys had been asked to tag along as well, if not only for what she was, but because she was also the prefect of the Academy. It was her job to oversee that nothing would get out of hand and intervene should she need to. Of course with Vincent being there, she wouldn't have to.

Vincent, on the other hand, sat at the table, watching as the other vampires and hunters approached the table, settled in the middle of the ballroom. Someone thought it a good idea to have the meeting in such a place, but Vincent couldn't protest. It was either have the meeting here, or no meeting at all. They couldn't afford to not have a meeting, so it was arranged here. He waited, watching as Theodor von Nacht entered the premises. If he was surprised that the von Nacht had shown up, he did not openly display it. Instead, he merely nodded to acknowledge the older vampire as he took a seat to his side.

All they needed was Jasper, and they could begin. The hall was filled with hunters and vampires alike, Erys sitting to the side next to Morgan and Nikki, whom she greeted with a tilt of her head. She sat on the chair, right leg folded over her left and her arms crossed against her chest. She glanced to her side and noticed Morgan and Nikki both staring at the von Nacht elder. She rose a slight eyebrow at the gesture, confusion laced in the action. She could understand the glare Morgan shot the von Nacht pure-blood, but why was Nikki holding almost a similar stare?

It wasn't a secret that the von Nacht elder had massacred his daughter and her family. Morgan had been the only survivor, as far as she knew at least. There were no others amongst the remains of the Alistair family. She shoved the thoughts to the back of her mind as she returned her attention to the table in the middle. She could feel the tension growing within the room as the hunters and vampires had a stare-down. It almost felt like an old western to Erys, in which the slightest movement would have them all at each other's throats. Instead, Erys merely kept her gaze on the table in front of her, waiting for the one who needed to appear, to start the conversation that lingered on everyone's minds.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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“This is not going to be easy, and yet it must be done.”


Interestingly, it was actually the Headmaster who took the last seat at the neutral table, as it were, smiling at the rest f those present, even if none of them really seemed in the condition or to have the inclination to smile back. He understood why, of course—for a human, he was very privy to the secret workings of the vampire world. Theodor von Nacht had taken a seat on the council only a few days ago, after some mysterious and inscrutable cause left Takahashi, the woman who used to occupy it, dead. Nobody was fooled, but it was also the case that nobody could afford to protest, not when they faced possible hostility from without. Their infighting could wait until this matter with the Hunters inciting the population against them was resolved. Not all of them even cared; it was sometimes assumed (though never openly), that the younger Lord von Nacht was too soft on humans. Some felt that a harder, more pragmatic influence would be welcome.

The Hunter’s side of the room was similarly divided, between those that believed this mess was batter off contained and kept as hush as possible for fear of mass panic, those who wanted to expose the vampires fully to the population for protection, and those who just wanted an all-out war. That these were approximately even thirds was not a good sign. Jasper knew all of this—he’d collected some of the information from Morgan, some of it from Ava, and some of it himself.

That he was the last to enter the room in which a meeting of his own devising was scheduled was simply power politics. People waited on their superiors, not the other way around. It was not something he particularly liked doing, but it was necessary. The Council needed to respect his authority, a challenge on even the best of days, and so much the worse with his grandfather, an ancestral vampire, now at the table. He knew that there were those who believed that his time as head of council grew short, and those that were glad of it. As for the Hunters… he needed them to respect him, too, or the whole thing would disintegrate in a matter of seconds. Still, he thought as Ava adjusted his cuffs, laying them neatly against his wrists, he would have preferred not to use intimidation to make it so. It was, however, the only approach that both parties would heed, and they needed to heed him.

Ava looked up, meeting his eyes with a silent question. He nodded, and she returned it, pulling open the door to the meeting room, and stepping in and off to the side to let him pass, bowing at the waist as she did so. He didn’t like that part, either. To him, they were equals, regardless of what anyone else might say. But for him to treat a human adolescent so… it would not bode well for his place on the Council, that was certain.

He’d been forced to wear his lordly face today, and he strode into the room with an air of entirely effortless confidence and power, the subtle tinge of his gravitational abilities making the atmosphere feel suddenly heavier. It wasn’t enough to be noticeable unless one was seeking for it. The outright approval on his grandfather’s face indicated that the old man had noticed, and appreciated it. That just made Jasper feel sick, but much as he wanted little more than to wrap his arms around the neck of his sire’s sire, he could not. Duty bid him otherwise. He slid into the chair at the center of the table, Vincent on his right and another pure-blood named Daphne Ravenswood at his left. She was among the few moderates on the Council, which he appreciated.

Ava stood behind him, slightly to the right, a file of documents in hand. When he held his out, she placed the first paper he would need in it, and he brought it in front of him. Glancing over the assembled Hunters, he started with a note of gratitude to Cross Academy and its representatives, who had been so kind as to host the gathering on short notice. It was right down to business immediately after that, though.





“You know not of what you speak, human,” the Council secretary hissed, eyes flashing, at the head of the Association. This of course caused several hands to go for their anti-vampire weapons. As a show of good faith, Jasper had allowed them to be brought into the room, as forbidding weaponry would have rendered the humans helpless and the vampires mostly fine.

The meeting had been going for hours, and it felt like nobody was willing to budge on even the smallest matters. Jasper was keeping control of the room with all the charisma and authority he had, not to mention a fair amount of help from Vincent and the Headmaster, but even then, it was only barely a civil discussion. The topic had turned to the attack at Cross and the reveal itself, and of course the Hunters were keen to blame the vampires for their own folly, given that it could be no human that had teleported. Naturally, the denizens of the night were not taking this well.

“Oh?” retorted one of the Hunters, who seemed to be some close relation of the leader, as she was speaking more than most and looked very much like the man at the middle of that table, directly across from Jasper. “Then enlighten us! Let that human girl who stands like a dog behind your leader speak, and tell us what happened. She was the hostage, wasn’t she?”

It was as if the temperature in the entire room had dropped ten degrees, so cold was the stare Jasper inflicted upon the woman. There was more than a hint of ice-blue to the uncanny silver of his eyes, and he was just about to flatly refuse—he would not allow Ava to become some kind of exhibit for these fools—when he felt a hand at his shoulder. He knew what she was telling him, and though he didn’t like it, he was forced to allow it. He could never deny her anything.

The trembling in her limbs well-disguised, Ava moved to the side of the room by the door, so that all of the people in it were arrayed in front of her in a vaguely-square u-shape. She swallowed, then slowly began to recount the details of the events, which were many. It was not often a skill she put on display, but Ava’s memory was perfect, and she remembered everything, down to the length of the knife her captor used and the exact words he spoke. She knew without a doubt that any of the people in this room could kill her without much effort. They were simply stronger than her in that way. But as Vincent had been so kind as to remind her, her own strength was not of the same kind, and this was something she could do. She knew there was no evidence that this was anything more than one crazy sociopath, possibly with a few friends, and if establishing that could settle at least part of the dispute, then she would. She looked at the others who had been there when she described them, but otherwise kept her eyes locked straight ahead, on Erys, taking solace in the fact that she was not alone here. Her best friend was right there, and Jazz, and Morgan who had saved her and Vincent who had helped her and the kind Headmaster and Nikki who she wanted to know. They, if nobody else, were on her side, and just as he’d said her strength was theirs. She’d do what she could.

Her testimony silenced that part of the argument, but by the time the meeting broke for the day, it was clear that they were getting nowhere. More talks were scheduled for the day after, but it was the in-between that had most of them worried. There was going to be a dinner party. And the vampires and hunters would not have so much space separating them then.

Setting

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Earnings

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"In the end, this was all just for show, and it gets us nowhere but to more strife and conflict."



Morgan and Nikki both sighed heavily as the meeting was adjourned. They'd both put in their own anecdotes here and there, Morgan especially when a particularly rude Hunter tried to claim that it was they that had saved the girl from being ravaged by bloodthirsty vampires. Morgan had given a small testimony of his own at that point, getting mad enough that Nikki had had to drag him back into his seat and tell him to shut up. It all made her head hurt, and the situation was only made worse because she could feel Theodor's eyes lingering on her. She wasn't sure if he recognized her or not, but she didn't want to take chances.

Still, everyone present was required attend the dinner party that night, so unless she found some way to fake an illness, she would have to be especially careful. There wouldn't be tables and half a room to separate herself from her grandfather tonight. She walked out of the ball room, seeking refuge that was her dorm room in order to get ready for the night ahead of her. To say that she wasn't looking forward to it would be the understatement of the century.


Nikki tried once again -and was unsuccessful for the umpteenth time- to pull the top of her dress closed over her bust line. She hated this dress, but she'd had little choice. The event was a formal one, and her usual choice -the black one- which covered her entire torso had been damaged in the attack two weeks ago, and with everything that had been going on, she hadn't had a chance to mend it. So, she was forced to wear the only other dress she owned. This one rather openly displayed her chest, along with her scar, revealing as much as it possibly could without her being physically naked.

While Nikki generally wasn't one to hide scars or run from her past, she didn't want Jasper to see the scar she'd received on the night she'd supposedly died. She didn't want to give him another reason to hate or blame himself for what had happened. She gave a loud, irritated sigh. She had little choice in the matter. Unless she holed up in her room, Jasper was going to see it, no matter what she did. Jasper had spent more time with her than he had with Ava this past week, and that was saying something, though Nikki wasn't sure what it was.

She ran a hand through her hair on last time, and left her room. Or at least, she made it to the door before turning back. She looked down at the wall, where her sword was placed. After a second's hesitation, she grabbed it, strapping the blade in place on her back. The Hunters had their weapons, she would damn-well have hers. The second she entered the ball room, a sense of trepidation and dread washed over her. She got the feeling that something was going to happen, and whatever it was, it wasn't good.

The long tables had all been removed, replaced with multiple smaller, round ones, with the center of the room cleared out to make a dance floor. There were caterers and waitresses everywhere, bringing food and taking plates, refilling wine glasses and offering blood tablets. Nikki scooted over to what she thought was a secluded corner, but found herself ambushed by two young -yet skilled- Hunters. She recognized them instantly, their father was one of the Council Members of the Association. The two lads came up to her.

"That's a mighty fine blade you have there. What's a Vamp like you doing with a weapon like that? I thought you guys preferred to use your claws."

She scowled vehemently at the one who had spoken. "One must have a certain amount of finesse when fighting, and we do not all enjoy acting like wild animals. Some of us prefer using skills over our born powers." It was then that the other one approached her. She could smell alcohol on his breath. He placed a hand on the wall next to her head, with his brother on her right side, effectively trapping her between the two of them. It was easy to see that they were looking for trouble. If that were the case, she would happily oblige them. But she reminded herself of the purpose of what was going on, and forced herself to remain calm.

She tried, oh she tried desperately. But then the one in front of her had to try and touch her, and that was something she would not allow. The boy had tried to trace the path of her scar, and she immediately restrained him, forcing his arm behind his back well near the breaking point. She also covered his mouth, refusing to allow him to cry out. They were secluded enough that they drew little attention, so long as both boys were quiet.

Nikki's eyes flashed a dark red as her anger grew, and she whispered to the boy she restrained. "If you value your life in any way, you will not touch me again. The both of you will also leave me alone, and you will learn to respect my kind, even if you do only view us as monsters to be slaughtered." The boy whimpered as she released him, and the two of them scrambled away from her, terrified. She scoffed. She probably shouldn't have done that, but she had -sadly- lost her temper. There was a chuckle behind her, and she turned to see Morgan walking over to her. "Nicely handled, though we'll probably be hearing from their father tomorrow, if not sooner."

He grinned as she snorted, rather indignantly, muttering something about caring when pigs flew. "That might be arranged, you should be careful who you ask, Miss Morgenstern." He flashed her a toothy smile before continuing on his way. She watched his back before he disappeared into the crowd. She sighed. He was right, of course. This would be heard of, unless the boys were too fearful of telling their father, which she highly doubted. Chalk up points for losing your temper, Kiki. Way to go.

Morgan, on the other hand, was enjoying himself surprisingly more than he thought he would. Most of the Hunters were ignoring him, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He picked his way through the crowd, homing in on the person he was seeking, though he strangely couldn't place why.

Like Nikki, Erys had done her best at finding a secluded place, away from most of the crowd, keeping an eye on everyone. "Always the Prefect. You know, you could stand to relax a bit more, it wouldn't kill you. If anything were to happen tonight, it'll take more than just you to stop it, believe me." He leaned against the wall next to her, his usual bored grin on his face. His dark hair contrasted sharply with the white pin striping of his suit. He swirled a glass containing a blood tablet thoughtfully while he watched the crowd. "Though I must say, I'm not sure I like the feel I'm getting. There's a weird underlying feeling tonight, the one you get when something's not right. Maybe you shouldn't be relaxed after all."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"Even I do not agree with this but it still must be done if only."




If there was anything Erys disliked, it was parties. More specifically formal parties, they never really sat well with her. For one, Vincent never taught her to dance, and the constant line of people asking her to dance made it even worse. So, she did what she always did. She left to find a secluded spot in the back, keeping her eyes on the party and the attendee's in front of her. She wasn't dressed in formal attire, or at least she didn't believe so. It was a dress Vincent had to help her pick, otherwise she would have attended in her school uniform. She sighed, fidgeting every now and then as she adjusted the strap over her shoulder.

She wasn't going to attend the party without Ulrik by her side, and so he hung against her back. It was a surprise that they allowed her to carry a weapon, however; with the constant hostility between the two races, she managed to convince the Headmaster that it was necessary. She sighed, rejecting yet another student who asked her to dance. Couldn't they get it through their heads that she wasn't going to? She was brought out of her thoughts by the approach of Morgan, scoffing slightly at his comment. She stared at him through the corner of her eye as he swirled the glass in his hand, a blood tablet having already dissolved. Rolling her eyes, she shifted a bit in her spot, folding her hands against her chest in the process.

"Haven't you ever heard the saying, 'No rest for the wicked'? Everyone is tense, waiting for someone to mess up to have a go at each other's throats, so no, I cannot relax," she retorted. She sighed, lowering her head a bit as she shook it. "Besides, I would rather be a dutiful prefect than look like a fool out there on the dance floor," she continued, pointing to a pair of humans who were dancing with each other, each one trying desperately to not trip over the other. They were either lacking in social graces, or were just nervous to be there. The point was still valid as the two finally tripped, landing on top of each other before scrambling to their feet and muttering apologies.

"I see the bruise finally went away. It seems dogs still are not as elegant as cats are I suppose," she stated, referring to his bruised eye that he no longer sported. Part of her wanted to give him another, however; it was odd in a sense that it wasn't particularly a bruise she wanted to give him. She shook her head, pushing herself from the wall in the process. She glanced at the door and spotted Vincent walking through it, dressed in a white suit. She waved once towards her brother who nodded his acknowledgement.

He made himself comfortable at a table, sitting and watching as the other mingled. The meeting had not gone as he had hoped it would, and ended rather badly. This ball was just to make up for it if anything. Although he saw no purpose in it, he only agreed to attend because he was required to. As the Kuragari representative, there were certain aspects to the job he did not like. He took a deep breath, his raven bangs falling into his eyes in the process. Erys had pulled his hair into a ponytail once more, only leaving a few wild strands to lay about. It gave him a feral, yet elegant appearance, one that he had not minded.

He could see some of the populace fidgeting underneath his gaze as he turned to stare at them. He was only here as an onlooker. If he was required, or asked, to dance, he would do so. Unlike his sister, his father had taught him long ago the finer things of being a pure-blood, and the responsibilities one had to endure to be such. Without much thought, Vincent pulled out a book and shifted through the pages, his eyes never leaving the the dance floor in front of him. Jasper had yet to arrive, and he was sure this event would be much more pressure for the other pure-blood. After all, he was the leader of the council, something Vincent wouldn't wish upon his friend, however; there was nothing more that could be done about it.

A part of him flickered, wondering how he and Ava were faring. It wasn't an easy thing for her to have done what she did, standing in front of both the Association and the Council and recount the incident. Part of him had become angered when she had to re-tell it mainly because it showcased his failure at protecting even one person. He didn't like being reminded of that incident, not one bit. And then after what the vampire had did, slicing her neck as he did so and left her to be fed from. His hands clenched tightly over the book he was holding at that thought. Why had that thought bothered him so much? Vampires feeding off of Ava. He pushed the thought away as he calmed himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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“After so many years, such things… they grow tiresome. I know it’s odious for you, but I still like them.”


Jasper managed a careworn smile for Ava, who never failed to have her spirits lifted just a little bit by the prospect of a fancy dress event. As she’d put it to him once, “I don’t care about looking pretty, Jazz, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good fairy-tale setting as much as the next silly girl.” He was glad of it, honestly; there was so little about Ava that was as carefree or ‘silly’ as a human of her age should be. She generally eschewed the frivolous in favor of the practical, and he worried sometimes that it was at least partially his fault that she was so serious about things. She could smile and joke and so on, but she was never careless in the way of human youth. She never really had been—it was good that there was something she could take such simple pleasure in, even if he found very little joy in such events himself.

She liked to look at the pretty people. Not in a creepy way, really, but Ava was to a certain extent an artist, and she had an appreciation for color and shape and symmetry. Jazz was the perfect example. She could recognize, on a purely objective level, that he was gorgeous, but she wasn’t attracted to him in that way. It was more like… she felt like a close relative and a best friend to him. But she wasn’t blind, so there it was. Erys was kind of similar in this respect, actually. Vincent… well, she wasn’t going to think about that. Too dangerous—she should stop letting her thoughts wander that way, it was surely bad for her self-discipline. But there was something about fancy parties with classy people that firmly entrenched her brain in fairyland, and though she was mostly interested in stories where others were the protagonists, she’d be lying if she said she didn’t even occasionally wonder what it might like to be the princess or the daring heroine.

But that was a role better suited for someone else. She was content being the cheerful, helpful servant to the prince. She’d never been selfish, nor ambitious.

They stood presently outside the double-doors to the ballroom, and Ava ran a quick clothing check, reaching up to straighten the tie on Jasper’s suit. “Honestly, Jazz. If I weren’t here, you’d be a right mess all the time, and nobody would respect you!” she teased, brushing a few strands of his hair to either side of his face. It would fall back in his eyes eventually—it always did. But she made the effort nonetheless.

He smiled at her, amusement twinkling behind his eyes. “Then I suppose you’re never allowed to leave,” he replied lightly, and she huffed, rolling her eyes and smoothing down her own dress. The leg slit was convenient for strapping Brynhilde to the limb, worn openly mostly as a gesture of good faith. Everyone would probably be carrying weapons of some kind. She knew too well that hers would only get her so far, but she was glad to have it all the same.

“Hm…” she hummed noncommittally, then slyly looked him in the eye. “I bet you say that to all the girls.” He looked shocked for a second, as he inevitably did when she turned such things around on him that way, and then stumbled over his tongue trying to backpedal.

“I didn’t mean… that wasn’t…” He dearly hoped she hadn’t taken it as flirtation, because while he loved her more dearly than his life, it was not that kind of feeling. Her easy smile and gale of vivacious laughter made him feel better; clearly she had not actually taken it as such. It also just lifted his spirits—he was not, as a rule, surrounded by lively people, nor those who showed him their emotions so readily. Sunshine was what she was, especially to him.

“I know,” she assured him gently, patting his arm. He really was so clueless sometimes. But that was part of what was loveable about him. “But you are my date tonight, at least for a little while, so let’s smile big for the cameras and put on the ‘we want everyone to live in peace and harmony’ faces, shall we?” He shook his head, and when she stuck her arm out as though she wanted him to take it, he gave a small sigh of exasperation and mirrored the gesture. She only grinned and acquiesced, taking his arm properly so that they could enter.

He immediately noticed a small commotion centered around his cousin—Nikki, not Morgan, who was very good at being ignored, but it was just ending, and he knew not what it was about. He would have to ask later, perhaps. Maybe after he got his tongue unstuck from the roof of his mouth, where it suddenly was upon sight of the dress she was wearing. That… was not good. He immediately banished the thoughts from his mind and focused on something else, in this case, Erys looking irritated and Vincent gripping his book much too tightly. What was going on there, he wondered? Erys, he could understand—she had something of a temper, and this was bound to put her in a bad mood. He could relate. Vincent was so stoic that even the smallest show of irritation from him was a bad sign, but there seemed to be no immediate cause.

There was no time to ask, however, because the music was starting up, and he was expected to do a lot of dancing this evening. That was, in fact, partially why he and Ava had come together—it would be a relief to occasionally excuse himself under the mannered pretense of attending to the one he was actually here with. It was also a powerful symbolic gesture on several levels. He was, without saying a word, expressing his support for the idea of a peace accord between the Council and the Association. One of the more moderate members was actually Ava’s uncle, giving her a definite blood tie to the organization. He also hoped he was sending a message to whomever had hurt her that she was under his protection, and he would not make the same mistake twice.

Advancing to the center of the floor, he swept her around gracefully so that they were facing one another, placing his hands with delicacy, one on her waist, and one holding hers aloft. She was a skilled dancer, one of many skills she’d picked up as his assistant. Irritating as it was, it served to make the impressions he gave other people better if she was perceived as elegant in such a way. They danced the first song, then parted ways, she towards the dessert table and he for the next in what was sure to be a long series of dances.





A while into the festivities, Ava realized something and mentally smacked herself on the forehead. Of course all the other tables were full or mostly full of people she couldn’t rightly sit by. She honestly probably shouldn’t sit with him, either—the company of a human was technically a bit degrading to his status. But at least she didn’t have to worry about him either interrogating her about Jazz (as the hunters would surely try), or staring at her like she was either a piece of dirt under their nail or a steak dangled in front of a starving dog (the Council, depending on whether their pride or appetite was operative at the moment).

So, without much choice, she picked a spot at Vincent’s table, choosing to observe the other partygoers rather than bother him. He was reading, after all, something he seemed to do a lot. So she tucked into her chocolate-covered strawberries (she was sure Erys would have made some funny snarky comment about her choice in fruits), and watched the dancers with surprisingly-analytical eyes. She took in everything—the makes and designers of suits and gowns, the skill levels of the dancing itself, how far apart or close together they held each other, and of course, the identities of those doing a turn on the dancefloor. She even read some lips, able this way to catch fragments of conversation. Some of them made her smile, some of them caused a worried furrow to her brows, but either way, she was very engaged in the spectating. These were some of the things she did best, after all. Not just anyone could be the personal assistant to a vampire lord and be actually useful.

Her head tilted curiously to the side as she watched Jazz approach Miss Morgenstern, but when she discerned what he was saying, her lips quirked just a bit at the corner. Interesting. He hadn’t yet realized it himself, but there was something there. It was in Nikki’s body language. So subtle—the vampiress was clearly good at masking such things, but it was there all the same. I wonder…

Jasper, after a few more dances with this or that Huntress or female Council member, was finally free for a little while, and, having sensed no disturbances thus far, decided to make good on a plan he’d formulated when he entered the room. Approaching his cousin, he considered simply asking outright, but decided that it was perhaps better to be somewhere they had less chance of being overheard, in case it related to one of those things he knew that others were not yet permitted to. There was only one place in this room that would not invite untoward suspicion, and so it was there they would go… if she still remembered what she’d learned so long ago.

“Miss Morgenstern,” he said formally, bowing chivalrously over her hand, the palm of which he balanced on the tips of his own fingers. He respected that in order to better keep her secret, he should not act overly familiar with her, after all. “May I have the pleasure of this waltz?”

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

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"Well, well, well...so it seems that my cousin has begun to mingle more. Perhaps I should as well?"



Nikki stifled a sigh, turning down a prospective dance partner and continued to watch the crowd on the dance floor. She had watched as Jasper danced from one female to the next. Such was expected from the Head of the Council. It didn't make her any less jealous. She had to smile, though, watching him dance. Jasper was as good as he ever was, if not better. Before she knew it, he was standing in front of her, balancing the palm of her hand on his fingers.

The corners of Nikki's mouth twitched in response to Jasper calling her 'Miss Morgenstern'. She had asked him to continue calling her that, of course, but it still hurt. She didn't like to think of the reasons behind why it did so. She could feel the eyes of a large number of females glowering at her, and that made her smile all the more. She was also well aware of the males who were glaring at Jasper. Nikki was never one to second guess her looks, but she wasn't one to flaunt them, either.

With a small smile, Nikki nodded to the man who was her cousin. "I would be honored, my Lord." She knew exactly what he was getting at. The dance floor was a place where you were seldom overheard, as everyone around you was either too busy being with their partner or they were too busy gawking at everyone to pay attention to words. She allowed him to lead her to the center of the floor, where she placed her left arm across his right one, her hand resting lightly on his shoulder. Waltzes had always been her favorite, and the man who had taught her swordplay had insisted she practice her dancing, continuously saying that a battle with blades was nothing more than dancing with steel. She smiled softly at the memory. Her Master had been right about that.

As they began, she looked up at him through her eyelashes. "There's something you want to ask me, isn't there?"

Morgan chuckled at Erys' comment. "A dog will never be as graceful as it's feline companion. After all, the greatest of the canines are the wolves, and dogs are nothing more than glorified pets, my dear Prefect. I am nothing special." He gave her a wry smile, and disappeared into the crowd.

Morgan watched the dancers with a mild interest, joining the floor a few times with the occasional vampire or Huntress. After watching his cousin approach the Lady Morgenstern, a small smile played it's way across his face. He wasn't overly fond of dancing himself, unless of course one had a suitable partner, or at least one he found pleasing to the eye, as lecherous as that sounded. He stood in thought for a moment, watching Jasper and Nikki twirl their way around the dance floor. His mind suddenly made up, he drained his glass, and with an urge he couldn't quite place, he returned to Erys' side. "Would my Lady honor me with this dance?" A slight, yet surprisingly genuine, smile lighted the corners of his mouth as he offered Erys his hand. He was rather interested to know what her answer would be as he wondered if he was going to get punched in the face again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"If I ask, and if I accept, what does that mean?."




Vincent's eyes never left the book he held in his hand. Although the anger had long receded, he still felt an irritable presence lingering about. It was something that made him uncomfortable as he glanced up from his book, eyes roaming the floor before they landed on a peculiar sight. It seemed that Jasper had asked the Morgenstern vampiress to dance, or as much as he could hear. She reacted accordingly as the two left to the dance floor. He then glanced to the side, noticing as Ava took a seat at his table. Many of the vampires around cast wary glances at the female, muttering beneath their breaths at the audacity she had for sitting with the Kuragari pure-blood.

This only caused Vincent to sigh. He did not want the vampires riling up too much, so, he closed his book and placed back into the pockets of his suit. Taking a drink of the water placed before him, excluding a blood tablet as he had no need for the things, he stood, his raven hair spilling over his left shoulder in the process. He bowed slightly in front of Ava, his right hand placed under his diaphragm while his left lingered on his back. Straightening back up, he offered out his hand, a ghost of a smile adorning his face.

"Ms. Ellsworth?" he stated, the question being conveyed without actually speaking it. He wasn't doing this as Jasper had, a sign of good faith, but merely for his own accord. The words the vampires were speaking, and the way they were looking at her, did not sit well for Vincent, and he did not want another incident to happen. Since Jasper was off with another, she was here with him, and at least he could offer the same protection Jasper had. But whether she took his offered hand or not, he would not hold it against the girl.

Erys, back in her corner, had curled up her fist as another, a hunter this time, asked for a dance. The next person to ask her was going to receive a gift in the form of a black eye. She was doing her best to contain her irritation, however; the constant asking, and by the same people at times, was starting to grate her nerves. Why couldn't they leave well enough alone? Did they not get the hint that she did not wish to dance? She released an aggravated sigh and glared at the next set of oncoming fiends approached her, effectively stopping them in their tracks and turning around quickly. Her eyes roamed the dance floor, and she spotted Vincent offering his hand to Ava. A smile appeared on her lips before she was brought back to reality.

"If only to keep those dogs away, fine," she retorted, her hand twitching violently as she resisted the urge to punch Morgan in the face. She truly wanted to, and she did say she was going to assault the next person, however; she couldn't truly act on those feelings. For one, she was a Kuragari, and for two, she was Vincent's sister and fiancee. She had a reputation to uphold, if only for his end. Otherwise she could care less about what was going on. Plus, something about Morgan's smile unnerved Erys. She had never seen him smile like that before and it confused her slightly. Taking his hand in her own, she attempted the same gesture, however; it came out as a half smirk, half smile.

"Be warned, do not expect a graceful partner. Vincent neglected to teach the finer things of being a Kuragari, and dancing was one of those," she stated, albeit embarrassing though. Although she felt no shame in not knowing how to dance, she did feel the embarrassment of not being able to dance. From what she could remember, Vincent had always been a fine dancer, and it was something she had always tried to mimic as a child. Of course she never properly learned and Vincent never sought to teach her. She let out an aggravated sigh as she allowed him his retort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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“What I hold in my hands is strong, but also fragile. Please, be gentle if you know how.”


The rustle and swish of fabric was soft against the music leading them along. Jasper was, of course, an accomplished dancer—he’d had to be. More than that, though, there was an innate kind of grace to him that made even the clumsiest partners able to follow along in a more-or-less accomplished fashion. Thankfully, Nikki also knew what she was doing, however, and the two of them were easily the most effortless of those on the floor—save for when he caught sight of his two closest friends with one another. When had Vincent and Ava gotten to know each other? Or had they at all? Either way, this was certainly not a sight he’d ever expected to see, but he kept that to himself.

He didn’t worry about it for long, because honestly, it was hard to pay attention to anything other than Kiki, at the moment. Unfortunately, this was not only due to the fact that it was more polite to give one’s regard to anything other than one’s dance partner. She was just… well… if he were being honest with himself, and he generally did try to be, he felt strangely magnetized to her presence. It was partly the protective instinct he’d always had for her, he knew, and that was fine. What bothered him was that this was not all it was. He’d known some of the fairest women in the world, been pursued by no small number of them, and he knew on some level that, while beautiful, she was perhaps less objectively attractive than some of the female pure-bloods his relatives had thrown at him from time to time.

But those other people… they did not hold his focus like she did. He did not notice or care about them in the way that he noticed and cared about her. They were pale shades of grey, and she was vibrant red. How could he not notice? He swallowed thickly when she looked up at him like that, the subtle curve of her eyelashes partly masking the slate color of her eyes, like smooth stone at the bottom of clear water. The calm expression he wore was flawless, and it never did leave his face, not even when he tilted his head slightly sideways and spoke, sweeping them around in another turn all the while.

“There are many things I’d like to ask you,” he replied honestly, his voice soft for the sake of privacy, but still audible to her at least. He wondered if she was as conscious of the hand he had on her waist as he was. Probably not—she did not seem the sort to be dragged hither and thither by trains of thought she could not comprehend and didn’t even particularly want to have. For a moment, his eyes dropped to the very edge of her scar—he would not stoop so low as to look anywhere indecent. The moon-colored oculars returned to hers swiftly enough, however. “But only some that I may.” Their steps were a steady, comforting rhythm, and as with all the best dances, his heartbeat fell in tandem with it’s undulating one-two-threes, flowing along in a smoother legato than he had any right to.

“I noticed that you were being disturbed when I entered. What happened?” The implicit question was, of course do I need to do anything about it? He knew that she was more than capable of handling herself, and that was fine. He was not going to deny her strength out of some stupid desire to be a rescuer. He’d never been like that—all the women he wanted in his life were competent, skillful people who rescued him more often than not from his own foolishness. But he did have certain political resources available to him that she did not, and if those were what she needed to solve her problem, he would gladly bring them to bear on her behalf. Nepotism, yes—but the entire Council system was built on it, and he would not leave those he cared about without protection when everyone else freely used their power to further their own ends.





It honestly took her a few seconds to realize exactly what was going on. Ava was a smart girl, but this had caught her completely off-guard. Honestly, she really just needed to stop assuming things about this man—it was clearly never going to work. The thought brought a small smile to her face, even as she ducked her head, blushing a light pink. She was not often asked to dance at such engagements, at least not for anything other than someone’s morbid curiosity of the political necessity of making nice with Jasper. However nice-looking or oddly-scented she might be, she was still a human, and that was enough cause for her to be ignored when possible.

Well, when she wasn’t being stared at, anyway. Some people were not as good at hiding their derision as others. But Vincent needed neither to satisfy his curiosity in this way (as they saw each other pretty regularly and he doubtless knew that she didn’t mind answering direct questions), nor was he in a precarious position with Jazz. They were friends, after all. So unless he was really, really good at hiding his disgust with her, he was just being… nice.

The smile grew, and she nodded slowly, reaching out her hand to slide it gently into his and standing in a smooth motion to head for the floor. “Milord is too kind,” she murmured in response. Oh, dickens! She could swear her heart was hammering so loudly he could hear it or something. That was possible, right? She didn’t honestly know, because she could not recall ever being this nervous before. She was such a silly fool, but… even if it was just once, even if this was all the kindness she ever received from him, she felt… relieved, and fully vindicated in her long-held belief that he was not as cold as people took him to be. Her feelings, silly and shallow as they probably were, weren’t based on nothing, and it made her happy to know this.

So, even if it was only one time, she was going to let herself feel just a little bit like the princess.

Not that she’d ever, ever tell anyone, of course. All the reasons that this would be the extent of things still applied—but she told herself that it was fine. This five or so minutes was a gift, and she did not intend to ruin it by thinking about all the ways in which it was only going to be five minutes. It wasn’t the amount of time you lived, but the amount you lived in your time, after all. She felt a bit like she was floating as the music started, and couldn't keep the gentle smile off of her face. “You know,” she ventured before she had time to properly think about the words, “if my goal is to make it so that fewer people want to kill me, this isn’t helping much.” The glint in her eyes took on a faintly-mischievous cast as she glanced sidelong at the not-small number of women who were presently glaring daggers in her back.

“You haven’t danced all night, and when you do, it’s with the human girl. How incorrigible.” From her light tones, it was definitely a joke. She was using a bit of humor to keep herself level. It wasn’t like she’d be able to do anything but continue her progress from pink to scarlet if they didn’t say anything.

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"Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them. George Eliot. What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do. Aristotle."



Morgan smiled again, taking Erys' hand as he led her onto the dance floor. He placed her left arm in the proper position as he placed his left hand on her waist, his right on her shoulder. "One does not need to be graceful, one just needs to follow the one in the lead. Just move as I do, and you'll be fine, Erys." It was actually easier than one would think, especially given the fact that Erys was taller than Morgan by an inch. Still, he was able to at least lead her around the dance floor.

Despite her claim that she did not know how to dance, the girl had a rhythm that Morgan could accentuate, and she was graceful enough that she got the hang of it rather quickly. "You should take lessons, my dear. Dancing suits you."

Nikki, on the other hand, was more than aware of where each of Jaspers' fingers was placed, let alone the hand that was on her hip. Exactly one foot separated the difference in their heights, yet their dancing was impressive, if not impeccable. Her skin tingled with electricity wherever he touched her, and even more so when she watched his eyes brush over the top of her scar. She hated that scar. She looked thoughtful before answering his question. "That was a spectacle in which two young males from the Association tried to intimidate me, and sadly, they failed. Quite spectacularly, I might add. Though I will admit, I did lose my temper. I doubt that nearly breaking the boy's arm will sit well with his father. In that regard, I apologize ahead of time for any trouble that may cause the Council." She left out the detail that he had tried to place his hands on her. Something in her gut told her that Jasper would not react well to hearing that.

Her expression darkened suddenly, and as they turned, her eyes caught sight of Theodor. The man was looking directly at her. Then they continued in their turn, and she couldn't see him any longer. She cast her eyes downward slightly. "I can feel him watching me."

The Headmaster was currently seated at one of the round tables at the far right side of the room, surrounded by both Hunters and Vampires, and for the most part, the group seemed to be getting along alright. They seemed to be swapping stories of their youth, but the Headmaster was too busy watching the dancers. He had his eyes on three pairs, in particular. It was curious, how well they coincided with one another, yet their elders could not. The thought made him smile a little sadly.

No one really noticed as a figure entered the room, which was a little strange, given his appearance. The man, clearly a Vampire, had a shock of snow-white hair that stuck out in odd angels like he didn't brush it, and deep, blood-red eyes. He scanned the crowd, a small smile on his face, zoning in on the girl he was looking for. The smile faltered slightly when he saw who she was with, but that didn't change the fact that he felt good seeing her smile. He continued to search the crowd, finding the young man with a female he didn't know. He smiled again to himself. The Alistair children had grown up well, even if he hadn't been able to save the third.

Something was nagging at the back of Nikki's mind. Her eyes scanned the crowd as she and Jasper danced, not being able to shake the feeling of being watched, however; it wasn't the same as when Theodor looked at her. It was almost a sense of de ja vu, so to speak, like she knew the person looking at her, and they knew her. That was when the sense of dread, of pure trepidation, washed over her in violent waves, so much so that she actually pulled away from Jasper, her eyes wide, fearful. They were at the far right end of the room, about three tables away from the Headmaster, and Nikki was looking around almost frantically, before her eyes found what they were seeking.

Death and purpose rolled off the man in waves, and Nikki clearly saw the ice forming in his hand, into the shape of a dagger. In the few fractions of second that were left as she realized the man's intentions, she moved. With the grace and skill of a hunting panther, Nikki leapt on to the nearest table, releasing a stream of fire from her hand as the man released his ice-fashioned weapon. Fire met ice, and with a sizzle, the dagger melted, mere inches from the Headmaster's chest. Nikki drew her sword in one fluid movement, halting the man in his tracks as he'd tried to retreat.

The man hissed at her, clearly a Vampire. He hadn't even seen her move, and there was a deadly calm to the girls' eyes as she moved, backing the defenseless man into a corner. As she continued the attack, she sensed that someone came up to her. She turned, and so did the new person. Her eyes took in the color white, a flash of red, and she resumed her fight as if nothing was wrong. Together, the two vampires backed the man who wielded ice into the far corner, their movements suggesting a level of synchronicity unattainable in people who had just met.

The white-haired Vampire stepped away, and Nikki ran her sword through the Noble's heart. He effectively died, turning into nothing more than a pile of dust. Nikki turned to the man beside her, her demeanor utterly different than when she was in battle. Her eyes widened, and she said only one thing. "Kisuke?"

Kisuke grinned down at her. "Well, of course. Who else did you expect, Kitten?" He then gestured to the Headmaster, who looked rather shaken. Nikki took two steps toward his table when she found herself surrounded, Kisuke's hand on her shoulder. She bared her teeth at the Vampires. Someone was speaking. She wasn't sure who it was.

Morgan had abruptly stopped dancing with Erys when they both realized something was wrong. There was a commotion down at the far end of the room, but it was clear that something was happening. Morgan glanced over just in time to see the girl who called herself Morgenstern use fire. He stopped in mid step, nearly toppling over as Erys crashed into him, but he paid her -or the retort she spat at him- little heed. She could probably punch him right now and he wouldn't respond. He was too busy staring at Nikki.

She had used fire. His sisters' power. His little sister had that ability, no one else. But Nikki was dead. He knew that. He visited her grave whenever he went home, he had watched her die. Nikki Alistair was dead. Morgan's eyes had widened as a rather stricken look came over his face, and he began to breathe heavily, almost to the point of hyperventilating. He felt like he was going to be sick, or like his head was going to explode. The back of his throat burned with an accidic rage, though he knew not who or what that rage was directed at.

His sister, his little sister, was not dead. She was attending Cross Academy. She had just been dancing with their cousin. His gaze switched to Jasper. Had Jazz known? Did he know who she was before tonight? Had he kept that from him? If so, then how long had he known? And who was the white-haired Vampire that was next to his sister--

Morgan's entire chain of thought was cut off as he looked at the woman who had become his sister, to see the vampire she had been fighting dead and she was surrounded. A very powerful rage swept through him, and there was a ringing in his ears. He became engulfed in a powerful urge to protect, and before he had even realized what he was doing, he found himself standing in front of Nikki, his back to her. He bared his fangs at the men, and he lividly snarled at them.

Nikki wasn't sure what she had been expecting. Perhaps hope that Morgan hadn't seen? But his body language now clearly showed that he had seen, but more than that, it was showing that he was protecting her. Her eyes widened slightly. He was her brother, yes, but she hadn't expected him to just up to her defense as soon as he found out that she was alive after an entire century of thinking she was dead. Yet here he was. And before she even realized it, Jasper was there, too. She looked at all three of them, Jasper, Morgan, and Kisuke. They were protecting her. So why did that make her feel so terrible?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"What is the meaning of this? What is going on here?




His eyes softened for a bit as Ava took his hand, a small uneven smile littering his lips. The smile disappeared, however, when she called him Milord. He frowned at the notion. She need not address him as such, after all, she was Jasper's attendant and considered his sister. She shouldn't feel obligated to call him such. He did not show this displeasure, instead, took her out to the dance floor and positioned his hands properly, ignoring the rapid beating of her heart. Was she nervous, or afraid of him? Neither seemed right to Vincent. She didn't fear him, that much he knew. If she feared him, she wouldn't have sat anywhere near him nor attended any meetings and such with Jasper.

"They do not know their place then. If they tried to kill you, they would suffer greatly for it," Vincent retorted, missing the humor that was laced with her voice. His eyes roamed the dance floor, taking in the heated glares of the other females, vampires and humans alike, as they stared at Ava. His eyes narrowed dangerously at them as they all fidgeted, some looking away while others quickly left. He could not understand this, jealousy they felt. If he had desired someone, he would have taken them already. If he wanted to dance with a pure-blood, noble, vampire, hunter, whomever, he would have done so, however; he chose none of them. He had chosen this woman who was in his arms, speaking nonsensical things.

"Dancing with them would only encourage their fantasy," he responded, glancing down so that he was looking into her deep amber eyes. "Dancing with you is a different matter," he continued, making it sound as if it were the most logical choice. To him, it was. Female vampires tended to be a bit...pushy with their affections while the hunters were a bit more...forward. With Ava, he feared nothing of the sort from her. And he found that, oddly, calming and refreshing. He had grown weary over the years of the others pinning for him, even though they already knew he was engaged to his sister, however; he felt no attraction nor love, besides familial, to the dhampir.

Erys merely rolled her eyes at Morgan. She should have just punched him again, at least then she'd feel better about it. Instead, she allowed him to lead her, following his steps as she tried to match them. She stepped on his foot at least twice before getting the hang of it. It wasn't as hard as it looked. That or Erys had been lying that she knew not how to dance. She scoffed at Morgans statement of taking dancing lessons. If she wanted to learn, she would have done that a long time ago. As it were, she had no desire to dance nor to learn the secrets of it. Before she could retort, a blur and commotion caused both her and Morgan to stop, glancing in the direction of the Headmasters table as Nikki released her ability.

Erys immediately frowned and cursed her luck, as she nearly toppled over Morgan. She growled beneath her breath as Morgan took off towards the other vampire, along with Jasper who both stood defensively in front of Nikki. She rose an eyebrow as a crowd of vampires gathered around the group, Vincent already taking long strides over towards the group after ensuring Ava was properly sought to and not left by herself. Erys grabbed Ulrik from her back and made her way towards the group, standing to the side with Ulrik pointed at the vampires.

"This is a peaceful event, what do you think you are doing?" she demanded, eyes firm as she glared at the vampires. Vincent, on the other hand, took a place next to Jasper, eyes glowering towards the vampires that surrounded them. Surely they were not foolish enough to challenge two pure-bloods. His eyes scanned the area, trying to take in what had happened. Something was definitely amiss, however; one thing needed to be addressed.

"Erys, put your weapon away. As well as all of you," he demanded, his voice unusually calm, yet demanding. Erys shot her brother a questioning look, but he simply ignored her. Reluctantly, she obliged, swinging Ulrik back over her shoulder and crossing her arms against her chest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Kisuke Sou

Earnings

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“Right… yeah… wait; what’s going on?”


She was never sure whether to be flattered or frankly a little frightened that there were people out there willing to hurt others on her account. Not in the sense that they’d do it just because she asked (not that she ever would), but in the sense that they were willing to avenge themselves on the perpetrators of her misfortune. It was certainly an acceptable method of dealing with such issues in vampire society, so she didn’t take it to be so strange for them to think that way, but to think so about her was something she’d still not quite been able to wrap her head around. She chose to interpret it as a bit of slightly-overzealous concern. She had, after all, been joking.

“It’s all right,” she pointed out, noting his glare. “That kind of thing is quite normal.” She supposed she could even understand, on some level. The people she was surrounded by every day were extraordinary, wonderful and wholly worth caring about. Despite its dangers and problems, Ava thought of herself most of the time as living a very charmed life, that she got to be so close to them as she did. They made living well that much easier, all of them in distinctive ways.

The intensity of his eyes was really unfair, she thought. It was like, he could look at you and you’d think he saw everything. She was a blind child in comparison. It was a dark fire, the quality, and honestly, she might not have minded the burning as much as she should have. His words struck deep and very close, and she wondered what he would say if he knew. That she was, in some sense, at least, just like those women. Infatuated, and a little bit silly about it. He’d probably find her just as annoying, and the very suggestion hurt. She’d definitely been doing the right thing, not letting anyone know. It was for the best. This way, at least, she could be helpful, keep the admirers at bay for a few minutes of relative peace and quiet, and if that was what she was given, that was what she would accept. There was no need to be avaricious.

Any reply she might have made, however, was cut off abruptly with Nikki’s sudden movements. She must have caught a glimpse of something over Jasper’s shoulder, because she was flinging fire in the next moments, and a man she’d only barely noticed thanks to her preoccupation jumped to her aid. There was no mistaking the synchronicity of their movements, and Ava concluded that they knew each other, and well. But what was the meaning of this? Vincent left her with a pair of hunters, but she brushed them off and went immediately to Erys’s side. She was as safe with her friend as she was with any Hunter.

Jazz, Morgan, and Vincent stood arrayed in front of Nikki and her unknown friend, several of the vampiric guests arrayed on the other side of the room. Most of them looked confused, but several of them were clearly livid, and Theodor von Nacht only looked as he always did: like he knew everything that was hidden to everyone else. Heinrich, Ava liked—in his own sort of way, he was a good person, even if a ruthless one. But Theodor, on the few occasions they had met, had frightened her deeply in a way nothing else had… not until she was held hostage like bait on a string.

Ava grasped Erys’s elbow lightly as the woman crossed her arms, partly to inform her friend that she was present and wanted to support her, and partly because she needed an anchor. It may not look like it just yet, but there was a storm coming, and she was fairly certain its name was von Nacht.




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“I have never forgotten who you are. But it is time that I reminded you of who I am.”


Though his positioning was defensive, Jasper was attempting to keep his body language as nonthreatening as possible. It was imperative that this conflict be resolved as quickly and quietly as possible. He had been turned away from whatever Nikki saw that made her act, but he had not had difficulty figuring out what it must have been. Someone had tried to assassinate the Headmaster, and she and the white-haired man had stopped the assailant. Without a doubt the right thing to do, but… things could only grow more complicated from here.

“How dare you lay hands on my nephew!” One of the vampires exclaimed, and when Jazz glanced down at the body, he almost groaned. It was true: while the assailant was a noble, he recognized the man as being the relative of a pureblood—and not one of those who was particularly inclined towards making peace with the Hunters. This was not going to end well. The presence of both himself and Vincent was stopping anyone from making a move, but it was not stopping them from shouting at each other.

“Damn right they should have!” the Association President’s daughter shouted back. “He was trying to kill the Headmaster!” One of Jasper’s eyes twitched only minutely. It was true, what she was saying, and at perhaps any other time, he would have appreciated the support for Nikki’s cause, but…

“Silence, human! This is none of your affair! This is a vampire matter, and it will be settled by vampire custom!” …He’d been worried about that. Vampire custom basically dictated that Nobles were subject to the will and whim of purebloods. They were, according to the ancient laws, lower beings. Some of the rules were positively draconic, but they were still the rules. Jazz was seriously hoping that nobody else here knew the one that applied in this situation, but of course, he would never be so fortunate.

“As it happens, the claim here is legitimate,” put in a smooth tenor, and Theodor stepped forwards, immediately drawing the attention of all those present. He was just as ancient as the rules, and Jasper honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he’d written this one. He liked to protect what was his, and he liked to force other people to kneel before him. The law here would have allowed him opportunity for both. “In the event that the claimed of a pureblood is killed by a… lower form of life,” his eyes passed coldly over the others and latched onto Nikki with obvious cruelty. It was clear he knew who she was, and was taking advantage of the opportunity this had presented. “That pureblood has the right to the life of the killer. Takarada can demand the girl’s life as blood-price for her deed.”

Of course he’d bring that up. And it had to be Nikki; she’d both initiated the attack and struck the last blow. “What is Takarada’s claim?” Jasper asked, swinging the gazes in his direction. Just being a nephew was not enough—Nikki was his cousin, and as such, they could be considered to have equal status. If Takarada wanted blood-price with only a nephew’s claim, then Jasper had the right to step in an duel Takarada for that.

It was apparent that the councilman thought himself absolved of that difficulty, for he smiled. “Shiro was betrothed to my daughter as of a week previous. On her behalf, I advance the betrothal claim.”

That… was a problem. The betrothal claim was defeated only by marriage claims and those for parents and children. He could advance neither for Nikki, which meant that either this place would become a bloodbath when he refused to hand her over according to custom (and doubtless, Morgan and whomever her friend was, plus no few of the others would agree), or… there was only one choice.

“Then your claim is the same as mine, Takarada,” Jasper said coolly. “This woman is my intended.” He inwardly apologized to, Nikki, Morgan, Ava, and everyone else this would inconvenience, but he could easily release her from the contract once the incident blew over… he hoped. Theodor would be watchful. Indeed, his grandfather’s eyes widened, but he was trapped, unable to speak out against Jasper’s declaration without clearly taking a side, and then everyone would have to wonder why he wanted one woman dead so badly. Jasper’s eyes, reflecting an eerie red in the light, swung to Takarada, who suddenly looked much less confident. Wisely, he did not want to duel Jasper, especially not for a relative he probably didn’t care about. He doubted this Shiro was ever supposed to have survived his engagement with Takarada’s daughter—few purebloods would willingly marry their children to nobles, relative or not.

Takarada’s mouth compressed into a thin line. “V-very well. I will not demand blood-price. I accept my nephew’s folly.”

“What? Just like that? I swear, you’re all so barbaric!” the Hunter-woman spat, and she and several of her people left. Jasper could understand why—it was patently ridiculous that his actions in forcing Nikki into a betrothal she doubtless did not want were the only things that had saved her life, and not the obvious fact that she was acting to save the Headmaster’s life. But it had been the only thing he could do, and he hoped she understood that.

“I suggest,” he said quietly, but with unmistakable authority, “That we disband for the evening.” This got the rest of the Council, sans Vincent and his grandfather, to leave as well as the remaining hunters. Theodor lingered for a moment, a calculating look in his eyes and a small smirk on his face.

“Well-played, Jasper. I must admit that I’m impressed by how far you’ve come.” But his grandson was not in the mood for games, and glared daggers at the man until he chuckled darkly and turned on his heel, taking his leave without a hint of fear for anyone and everyone in the room. Jasper only swallowed thickly, and sighed.

“I do not believe any of them shall be returning for more talks tomorrow…” And that was currently the least of his problems. He was about to get hit with a barrage of complaints, anger, and probably confusion and disappointment, so he slowly turned to face his friends and family, resolved to weather it all as it came. He deserved no less, for putting them in this position in the first place.

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"I'm not sure that I understand what has happened here tonight, but I will do my best to help sort out the confusion."



Kisuke could feel Nikki trembling underneath his hand. He couldn't say that he was overly surprised. She hadn't been face to face with the man responsible for the death of her family in over a century, and the man was one of the Ancients. It was a wonder she wasn't on her knees crying. He squeezed her shoulder gently, reminding her that he was there. She placed her hand on top of his, a form of thanks. He was mildly amused when the Lord von Nacht claimed her. That was an interesting -and infuriating- turn of events. His eyebrows rose and a smile played over his lips. He felt Nikki tense. So it was news to her. That meant that Jasper had done it for no other reason than to save her life.

That made his anger subside slightly. His amusement, however, jumped several notches as the only other living Alistair began growl. His red eyes followed the boy as he walked a few steps away from the others, running a hand through his hair, muttering incoherently to himself, and then began to pace. Finally he turned back to Nikki and the others, looking everywhere but at his sister and his cousin. It was almost a full minuet before he was actually able to speak properly. It the time between, he struggled to make sounds at all, and for a second, both Kisuke and Nikki thought he was going to faint. That or his head was going to explode.

When the vampire finally did manage to speak all, it was only one word. His voice was thin and strained, and his voice cracked as he said it, and it was directed at Jasper, not Nikki or anyone else. "When?" His eyes were wide, and he looked both terrified and angry at the same time. He struggled for a second, letting out a groan before actually forming a sentence. "When did you find out she was alive? Have you always known?" Morgan groaned again, clutching at the sides of his head, turning away from the group and walking a few paces away before backtracking. He was beginning to look almost insane.

Nikki sighed softly. "Kisuke, get Morgan. I think it's time that Jasper and Morgan knew exactly what I've been doing for the past century." She turned to Jasper. "I think the four of us need to talk about this privately."

Kisuke grinned, going over to the younger Noble. "Listen, kid. You need to just calm down. You can either come quietly or I can carry you like a sack of potatoes. Your choice."


Around twenty minutes later the four of them were in Jaspers’ dorm room, Jasper and Morgan sitting in chairs, while Kisuke had sat down on top of the table, his legs spread open. Nikki was standing in front of him, facing away from him, with his arms draped languidly over her shoulders, crossing his arms in front of her chest. She leaned back into his chest, taking comfort in the safe, familiar feeling.

”I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you I was alive, Morgan. But, Jasper’s only known I was alive for a week, and I asked him not to tell you, so don’t be mad at him. None of this is his fault. I can’t tell you everything, however, because frankly, there are holes in my memory. The night of the attack, it’s all a blank for the week after that. I woke up in a human house twenty miles south of where we grew up, with no idea how I’d gotten there. Afterwards, I wandered. I picked up pieces of information here and there, when I happened to stumble across the fact that it was our Grandfather was the one behind it all. That was when I also realized that his reason behind the attack was because of me. About a week before the attack, I overheard something that I wasn’t supposed to, and in order to protect himself, he tried to kill me, and cover it up by killing our family.” Her voice was steady as she spoke, her eyes calm, her face placid. That was what happened to her when she was around Kisuke. He was her anchor, so to speak.

”But, somehow I survived, and so did you. Somehow Theodor must have surmised that you didn’t, and still don’t, know anything, or else he wouldn’t have allowed you to live this long, especially given what you do for a living. And he hasn’t come after me in the last century simply because he didn’t know I was alive. I think he had his suspicions, but until tonight, he wasn’t certain. That’s why I was keeping my identity from you. I didn’t want to put you in danger.
“After that, I began traveling. Eventually I found someone to teach me swordplay, and after ten years or so I moved on, and ran into Kisuke. We spent seventy years traveling as mercenaries. Around twenty years ago we split up, and I continued on my own, eventually winding my way back here. I can’t keep running from my past, and it’s time to face it. I want to know what dear old Grandfather is up to, and why he’d kill to keep it secret.”


Morgan had sat still as he listened to his sister’s story, one hand stretched across his mouth, his eyes glazed over. Finally, he posed a question about something that had been bothering him. ”But what happened during that week that you were blacked out? I only lived because my wounds were superficial enough that they were able to get to me in time.”

Nikki opened her mouth, unsure of how to answer, when Kisuke beat her to it. ”I believe I can answer that one, Kitten.” He addressed the other two males in the room. ”She survived that night, because I was the one who saved her.” Nikki looked up at him sharply, but he held up a finger, asking her to be quiet until he was finished. ”As you are aware, Kitten, I was a mercenary long before I partnered with you. The Lady Michaline began to suspect that her father was up to something, and as such, hired me to watch over her children. At the time, Morgan was seventy, I believe, and Nikki and Naya were, fifty or so. I watched over the three of you for around eight years before anything happened. My orders were such that no one, not even the Lady, was to know when I was there, where I was while I was keeping an eye on you, anything. That way my own position could not be compromised. Sadly, on the night that it actually counted…” His eyes darkened as a scowl lit his features. ”They knew I was there. And they ambushed me, allowing them to have enough time to finish the job. Or so they thought. By the time I got there, other help had already arrived and left with Morgan, and I checked over the others. At first, I thought you were dead as well. But you weren’t. It was a close call, but I was able to get you help in time. I’ve been watching over you ever since, just not always in the way you’d expect. For all intents and purposes, my employer may be dead, but my contract is still in effect.”
Nikki shifted her position slightly, to look Kisuke in the face fully. ”Why didn’t you ever tell me this, Ki-ke?” The white-haired vampire’s mouth twitched in a smile as she called him by that name, even as her brother’s narrowed. Kisuke looked down at the girl in his arms and smiled. ”You never asked, Kitten.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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"What an interesting turn of events.




For once, Vincent watched with curious eyes at the barrage of insults and demands were made. An attempt on the Headmaster's life had just been made, and Vincent could feel the hostilities rising between the vampires and the hunters. This did not appear to be heading in a very good direction. The vampire declared a betrothal claim, something that caused Vincent to tilt his head with a ghost of a notice. Why would he do something so...foolish? That wasn't what caught Vincent off guard though. It was the sudden declaration of Jasper's that caught the pure-blood off guard. Was it not that long ago that the Vampiress declared for the von Nacht heir to stay away from her?

Now, they were engaged? When had that happened? Not that Vincent cared much, but it was a bit confusing. His eyes roamed over towards Jasper's face for any sort of explanation, however; he couldn't find one. Was this perhaps his way of protecting the vampire girl? If so, who was she to him that he would do such a thing? For all the years Vincent has known Jasper, he has never made claim to anyone, nor had the intention of doing so. Families, pure-bloods and nobles alike, had thrown countless daughters to the von Nacht heir in hopes of marrying into the prestigious family. Vincent shared the same even though it was known he was already engaged to his sister.

Regardless, the von Nacht Head decided to speak, addressing Jasper in the process. He could see the hostility Jasper was bestowing upon the older von Nacht and Vincent only rose a questionable eyebrow. He paid no heed to the white-haired male who had helped Nikki, keeping his eyes on the other vampires in front. Morgan began pacing back and forth and muttering nonsensical words that even Vincent had a hard time understanding. Then, he spoke of something about the girl being alive. Now this certainly had Vincent's attention. He knew of the Alistair family incident, and he knew who had survived and who hadn't. Was it possible that this girl was part of the surviving family?

That would mean that she was Jasper's cousin, and to some extent, his own. This was turning out to be rather interesting to Vincent, although he gave no show of such things. His eyes then focused upon Ava as she stood next to his sister. Hadn't he left her with those hunters? He furrowed his brows slightly before turning towards the group once more. Nikki declared a private talk between the four of them and left the room. Vincent turned towards the group of humans and vampires that still remained, fixing them with a stare that was universal. Immediately, they understood and left. Soon, it was just Ava, Erys and Vincent within the room.

Erys hadn't known what to expect with the sudden events that played out before her. She felt a touch on her elbow and turned to spot Ava standing there. She gave the girl a nod of her head of acknowledgement before watching the events unfold. Her eyes roamed towards Morgan who seemed to be having a nervous breakdown. She rose an eyebrow and tilted her head slightly. She resisted the urge to smack the boy over the head and instead, stayed by Ava's side. When the others left, Vincent turned towards the two of them, staring blankly at the two. It would seem that the conversation would be awhile, and that would leave Ava by herself until Jasper returned. He couldn't have that, not with the previous events and the sudden events that just took place.

"Stay with us," Vincent stated, although it sounded as a demand, it was not his intention to do so. He had meant it as a question. Erys cleared her throat quietly as she tried not to snicker at her brother's statement. The way it was stated could be taken as many things, however; Erys knew better and so, turned to Ava, sliding an arm through the girl's and placed a reassuring smile on her face.

"What he means to say is that you can stay with us until Jasper returns. I would prefer it as well."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Kisuke Sou

Earnings

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“I see no reason to doubt what you say, but there is still a very obvious question: why?”


To say that Jasper was angry would be an overstatement, perhaps. But he was irritated. He did not, frankly, enjoy seeing someone who was to him a complete stranger touching his cousin so intimately. A gentleman did not lay his hands in such a way on a woman to whom he was not bonded in some way, and even then, to do so in front of her brother and cousin was excessive. Technically, he was doing so in front of her fiancé, but Jazz wasn’t going to include that because he was releasing Nikki from that farce as soon as it was safe to do so. Clearly, however, this Kisuke was not a gentleman, and it irked him that his cousin had kept such company for seventy years.

He wasn’t ungrateful for what the man had done. Jasper personally had enough manners to understand when a debt was owed, even if the good acts had been undertaken as part of a contract. His aunt always had a way with foresight, not the clairvoyant sort, but at least the genuine predictive capacity to know other people and what they would do. It only made sense that she would hire someone. But his grandfather was smarter still, which explained how he would have known.

He was doing an admirable job of remaining entirely indifferent, at least in terms of his body language and facial expression. If it was slightly harder for any of them to stand upright at the moment, well… surely, he had a right to be upset upon hearing the whole story… well, most of it. Nikki had omitted details, and he could sense that. But he wasn’t going to press, not here and now. Maybe not ever. It wasn’t his right—he was not the same part of this new life of hers that he’d been in the old one. Maybe then, if they were still as they had been, he would have been entitled to an explanation, but here and now, he was only a relative, one who had doubtless made her life that much more inconvenient if this partnership between herself and this man was what it looked like. Jazz wasn't good with social cues of this sort, but even he wasn’t blind.

Sighing softly, he leaned back against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his chest. There were a few things he needed to say. He’d start with Morgan. “I am sorry,” he said quietly. “It is true that I knew only for a week, and that I encouraged Kiki to tell you, but even so, I did not do so, and I should have. You have a right to be upset with me, and if you are, I will accept that.” It was true that Nikki had asked him not to, but it was also true that telling Morgan would have been the right thing to do. Either way he had acted, he would have been doing wrong by someone. He had chosen to abide by Nikki’s wishes because it had seemed the lesser of two evils to temporarily deceive Morgan than to break his word to her, word he could not have refused to give. But he was serious when he said that Morgan was fully within his rights to be upset anyway. That was the consequence he’d accepted when he’d made the choice.

Bright silver eyes swung to Nikki, and by extension, Kisuke, though he addressed himself to her. “And I am sorry for what just happened as well. You have my word that as soon as it is safe to do so, the claim will be annulled. If I had thought there was any other course of action to take that did not put you at risk, I would have taken it. You should not feel obligated to act any certain way as long as this extends. If possible, please act as though nothing changed at all.” If she was as fond of this Kisuke person as she seemed, then he would not stand in the way. That was not his right either, regardless of what the laws said. He might not like it very much, but that was more a matter for Morgan to take up than him, and in the end, it was her own choice, anyway.

“But,” he said thoughtfully, and the extra gravatic pressure in the room eased slightly, “I must ask: what exactly is it that you overheard or knew that grandfather found to be such a threat? That he thinks it a threat even now, and would thence put into Takarada’s mind the idea of a blood-price?” The assassin was not meant to survive, that much was obvious. But their grandfather could not have known that Nikki was alive, or that she would act as she did, which meant that he’d been taking advantage of an opportunity that presented itself. Presumably, the killer was to be given up to authority after the Headmaster’s death, or, if stopped, to be used to sow further discord between the sides. Perhaps a hunter had been meant to kill him. Perhaps Jasper had, to put his position on the Council into question. That had been done already anyway, though. Regardless, there was no doubt that this exchange had worked out in Theodor’s favor, even if he’d been able to stop the worst of it.


Nikki's brow forrowed. Her shoulders tensed when Jasper explained that he would release her from the claim. While she would not openly claim that she didn't want him to release her, nor would she reject him if he ever asked, she also wasn't happy the way the events had unfolded, so in the end, she let the matter drop. Kisuke's eyes continued to swivel between the two other men. Their reactions were very amusing. He was well aware of the slight undertone of jealousy form the Pure Blood, thought the man was excellent at hiding it. Morgan, to a point, ignored his cousin, keeping his eyes on his sister, and her white-haired friend.

Nikki furrowed her brows before speaking. For once, she was happy that she had an iadetic memory. "It was late at night, and I'd gotten lost. I was wandering, when I stumbled across a door that was slightly ajar. I could hear voices inside, and there was a flicker of a candle. One of the voices was our Grandfather. The other was of a woman I didn't recognize by sound or sight. They were arguing about something, about if something was possible or not. The woman seemed to think that whatever it was, it could be done, but it would require a lot of sacrifice. Grandfather said that it didn't matter whether it was possible or not, just so long as someone, a male, believed that it could be done. That wa all I heard, because by then, Grandfather had looked up and seen me. He shouted at me, and I ran. A week later they attacked our family."

She raised her eyes to Jasper, meeting his moonlit silver with ehr grey ones. "That's why I told you it was my fault my family is dead. Because it is." Kisuke's eyes widened, and a grin played on his lips. This was getting very interesting.


“No,” Jasper countered, and for once his tone was hard, devoid of its usual gentleness. “That is nobody’s fault but his.” And it was about time he faced consequences for what he had done.




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“It’s Christmas! If anyone ever needed an excuse to be happy, this is it!”


Ava smiled softly, nodding her assent. It was nice to have friends who looked out for you the way the Kuragaris did, the way Jazz did. It sometimes still felt like she was a burden on them, but they didn’t seem to mind, so maybe it was all right. “I’d appreciate it,” she said honestly. “There’s a lot of family stuff for them to work out, I think.” She didn’t know the whole story, but she did recall some stories Jazz had told her about his cousins, and one of them was named Nikki and used fire, so… it might take a while. It would be nice to have company in the meantime.




Two months had passed since that day, and if anything, the situation had grown even worse. Both the vampires and Hunters were chomping at the bit for a full-scale war, and only the good judgement and power of a few was holding them at bay. But it could not last forever—anyone could see that. Jasper and Vincent were both losing ground in the Council as their peaceful position became less and less favored, and as Theodor von Nacht subtly planted thoughts against them in the minds of the other Council members. Even some of their former allies were starting to sway. Both knew it was only a matter of time, and yet they continued to hold off the conflict for as long as possible.

But nothing, not even a stalemate, can be sustained indefinitely, and so when the Council broke for the winter, Jasper decided that it was time for all of them to take a break as well, perhaps the last one they would have before the world as they knew it disappeared to be replaced by war and death. To this end, he invited Ava, his cousins, the Kuragaris, and Nikki’s mysterious partner to his estate for the holiday, under the pretense that they should celebrate in the company of friends and relatives. More than anything, he just wanted to know that they were nearby, and safe. He was concerned for all of them, to some degree, and their company would hopefully help put them all somewhat more at ease.

Ava knew this about him, but she did not begrudge it, and indeed went all-out decorating the ancient and almost impossibly-wealthy mansion (more like a castle, honestly) for the occasion. Evergreen wreaths adorned every banister, wreaths hung over every fireplace. The entrance had the biggest, most beautifully-decorated Christmas tree anyone had ever seen, and there were candles everywhere. The whole place was fairly magical in its appearance, and she’d even placed mistletoe in strategic locations, giggling to herself about the havoc she might cause. Of course, she noted the spots herself so as never to be caught in her own trap—but everyone else was fair game.

So by the time the guests arrived, there was not a more warm, inviting, or pretty castle to be found anywhere, she was quite sure of that. Even Hienrich’s permanent melancholy mood seemed to have been lifted by her efforts, and he’d taken care to compliment her on her work, which had her smiling for the rest of the day. It was hard to please Jasper’s father. Even more surprising was that he and his son were both there to greet the guests, including this time the niece nobody had known was alive. Heinrich looked surprised to see Nikki as she was, but that did not stop him from clasping her hand gently. “Welcome back, my dear,” he said quietly, his voice faintly raspy from disuse.

The sight of Erys made him momentarily unable to move, but then he shook his head to himself and greeted her properly, as with the rest of them. They had free use of the home, he said, and anything in it they wanted, save the private chambers of others. Each was shown to a luxurious room of his or her own, and informed regarding where to go to get whatever they required. Their hosts and servants were impeccable, and in this way, it was hoped that their stay would be restful.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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Nikki sighed. For two months now, she'd been unofficially enganged to her cousin. It was a strange feeling. On one hand, she was happy. On the other hand, the only reason he'd done it was to save her life. Which meant either he did not feel the same way she did towards him, or she was damn good at hiding it and he was oblivious. While she doubted that she was good at hiding it, she wouldn't be very surprised if he was oblivious to it. Jasper had a tendency to be a bit...clueless when it came to things like personal feeling. Still, she wanted to understand how he felt about the situation, which was why she was currently hunting for him. The mansion was almost exactly how she remembered it, save for a few upgrades here and there as technology advanced. She walked slowly through the halls, remembering times past.

Without realizing it, she found herself in one of the ball rooms. Specifically, the one she and Jasper had used that day long ago when she had pestered him into playing the piano for her, and then with her as she had just hit random keys. She smiled fondly as she ran a hand over the old, shiny wood. Completely on a whim, she sat down on the bench, her fingers picking out the notes with ease as she played Beethoven like it had been yesterday that she had sat on Jasper's lap.


Jasper, too, roamed the halls of his own home, but he was largely without purpose. Ava had just baked a fresh batch of cookies, and if he didn’t leave the room, he was going to eat far too many of them. It was truly unfair, that her food should be so good and the vampiric digestive system only able to handle so much. But perhaps it was for the best—at least this way, they might make it out to the others before they were all consumed. She’d batted him away with a wooden spoon and told him to go find something to do with himself, hence his present wandering.

It wasn’t long before he registered the sounds of music from the salon, a room he had not ventured into in many years. To a certain extent, playing had lost its joy for him after he lost his family, but… perhaps it was time to revisit the idea. Someone else seemed to have thought so, and he was pretty sure he could guess whom. Appearing in the doorway with no more noise than a ghost, he leaned against the frame for a moment, crossing his arms over his chest and watching her play. She’d come a long way from the child that knew not one key from another, but there were things he could teach her yet, had she the desire to learn. Approaching just as stealthily so as not to interrupt her, he placed one of his hands on either side of her two, adding complexity to the music by playing a second set of notes in harmony with hers. He’d always had the true musician’s talent for improvisation, and one would have thought the piece intended this way, given how well it flowed together.

He didn’t quite take note of the way his arms caged her in, nor the way his chest pressed against her back as he looked over her shoulder at the keys. “I missed this, when you were gone,” he confessed softly into her ear, loath to interrupt the playing before it was finished.


To say that she was surprised may have been an understatement, but she didn't actually show it on the outside. But no matter how well she could keep her face from showing surprise, she couldn't stop her heart from racing as she felt his arms encricle her and his chest against her back. The playing continued, even after he spoke to her, though she allowed a crack in her composure, enough so that she smiled. "Then I'm sorry I ever left at all. You do understand why I did it, though. It wasn't easy." They were continuing on through the song, and she mentally scolded herself. This was not what she wanted to speak to him about, but yet she had not the words to ask, because frankly she wasn't sure what she wanted to ask.

She fell silent as they finished the song, and she turned slightly to look up at her cousin, her face only inches from his own. Slate grey met moonlit silver. Nikki had always loved Jaspers' eyes, and the way they changed colors. She'd always thought her own paled in comparison. Whenever she looked in a mirror, she only ever saw the eyes of someone who had seen too much death, and dealt enough of it to not feel properly any longer. And perhaps she didn't. She couldn't make sense of her feelings at hand, the way her heart leaped when Jasper looked at her, the way she felt safe when she caught his scent. To her, it didn't make any sense sometimes, and at others, it was clear as crystal. At the moment, she was having a hard time thinking through the fog that had come over her now that she was actually looking at Jasper, rather than just feeling him. She blinked once, slowly, before finally managing to connect words inside her head enough to say a complete sentence. "I was looking for you when I seem to have gotten distracted by old memories." A slight smile lit her features.

"I've been wondering why you did what you did that night, you know. It puts you in an awkward position. Even if you are going to release me from said engagement, it's still technically valid at the moment. Which means you're engaged to a Noble. That's not exactly the best light to be seen in in the eyes of the Council, and your position is already at stake, if I'm not mistaken." She looked at him pointedly.


The song ended, and he stepped back a bit, feeling strangely chilled by the action. Her question was a good one, certainly a smart one. But then, from her, he’d have expected nothing less. Jasper held her gaze for a moment, then looked away with a soft sigh, disturbing slightly the lock of hair that hung between his eyes. Frowning slightly, he took a seat at the piano bench beside her, depressing a few of the keys in an improvised melody. It seemed a thoughtful tune, and someone as quick as Nikki would understand that it was part of his answer, or at least the process of explaining it.

“Why would I not?” he asked quietly, striking a few more keys—slightly frustrated, by the sounds of the notes. “My other choice was to allow you to die. I failed to protect you once, Kiki. I am not a man who makes the same mistake twice.” The tune shifted, something melancholy and heartbreaking falling into the silence between them. There was more to be answered, more to be said, and he understood this much, even if some facets of understanding did escape him from time to time.

“My position with the Council is of no importance to me. I assumed it because father could not, and grandfather should not.” A fast, staccato trilling of anger, and then a slow legato of grief still recalled, for his parents, the one who had died, and the one who had grieved for so long he was almost dead, too. “Your status concerns me not—what you are is Kiki, and I would tear apart the earth itself to protect you. Regardless of what the future makes of us, know that this will always be true.” He was still staring down at the keys, but playing only one-handed, the music fading out slowly. Shaking his head, he removed his hand and let it fall to his side, turning his head slightly to look down at her out of the corner of his eye.

“I am sorry if what I have done has troubled you, but I am not sorry for doing it. I would do it again, faced with the same situation. What becomes of me because of it is irrelevant.” Didn’t she understand? She mattered more to him than all the titles and political power in the world. How could she not?


If there was one thing to be said of Jasper von Nacht, it was that what he lacked in acutal communication skills, he made up for with the piano. What he couldn't say in words he played out in a melody. While there were parts that still confused Nikki, there were other parts that she could understand perfectly. Though there was a part of it she didn't agree with. She struck a note, a single C. As she did so, she shook her head slightly. "Kiki is the girl that I was. A part of her may still exist somewhere deep down within me, but in the end, Kiki is the one who died that night. Had Mother, Father, and Naya not died that night, I probably would still be Kiki. But I'm not any longer, no matter how much you, myself, or even Morgan wishes I would be." She sighed slightly, thoughtfully plucking out a very deep, dark tune.

"Master once called me 'go'el ha-dam'. Roughly translated it means 'blood avenger'. I don't know if that's what I am or not. For a long time that's what I strove to be. I wanted to make everyone who had hurt me, and my family, suffer." The melody quickly changed, and she found herself playing a well known tune, even if it was a sad one. "And then I came back here. Nothing went as I planned it, and as suddenly as my world got turned upside down for a second time, I realized something. Something rather important. It does not matter who I was, or who everyone else thinks I am. Because I know who I am. I am Nikki Alistair. My mother was your Aunt just as yours was mine, your father my Uncle. You are my cousin." She stopped playing abruptly, looking at him directly for a second. "What you did doesn't trouble me. It's your reasoning that troubles me, Jasper."


He felt bad for presuming. To him, she had always been Kiki, and honestly, he had thought she always would be. But now she was telling him, perhaps indirectly, that he was wrong to insist on this. She was a changed person, with many experiences he only barely understood to her name, and part of him mourned, because it felt like losing her again. But… on the other hand, something was left behind this time. Or rather, someone, and she was proving to be quite the enigma indeed. He could not deny that he wanted very much for things to resume as they had been, where she was his baby cousin and he her mentor-figure, yet… it was not his choice to make. He did not get to choose who she was, and he had been absent for so much of her becoming. Were they strangers, after all this time? No, it was not quite that, but… what it was wasn’t something he could describe with the things he knew.

Her last statement confused him thoroughly, and he blinked. “My reasoning?” he echoed, allowing a flitting glimpse of confusion to mar the unnaturally-perfect features of his face. “What about it troubles you?” He could not understand what was objectionable about acting to save her life. Changed person or not, she was still his cousin, and he had done what he did to save her. What could be wrong with that?


Nikki sighed. She had to hand it to herself, she'd nailed that one on the head. Chalk up points for Jasper being oblivious, even if she wasn't fully being outright with her feelings. Perhaps she never would be, she didn't know, and now was certainly not the time to bring any of it up. She shook her head a little sadly as she stood up. She smiled at him as she said, Your reasoning troubles me because you did it for Kiki, and not for me." She spoke quietly, as if she was afraid to say it too loudly.

For Kiki, but not for her…? He wasn’t sure he fully understood what she was getting at, but he could comprehend her desire to be known for the person she was now, and not the one she had been. It was, perhaps, perfectly justifiable—he would certainly dislike it if people assumed he was the same way he’d been a century ago, before he’d lost so much of what remained after his mother died. Her loss had been much earlier, but similarly life-altering. How had he not seen this sooner?

He smiled gently, though he did not like the way she seemed almost afraid to say so. She should not fear expressing her opinion to him, not if he was to do this properly. With great care, he reached for her and took either side of her face in one of his hands. “Very well, Nikki,” he said just as softly, lifting her chin so that she was looking right at him, to better know that he was not upset. “If this is your wish, I shall do everything I can to get to know the person you are, and not chain you to the memory of the person you were. I can’t promise I will be perfect in this, but I will try.” Carefully, he pressed his lips to her brow, a chaste gesture meant to convey his warmth and goodwill.

She might not be who she had been, but he would not let it change the fact that he cared. He hoped she did not expect him to. Pulling back, he dropped his hands and stood. “I think perhaps it is time we rejoined the others, do you not? He offered his hand to assist her in standing, as a gentleman should.


Jasper moved almost as though he were afraid to break her -which, actually, wasn't that far off the mark, if one thought about it long enough- as he lifted her face to look at him. Her heart did an odd little flip when he spoke her name. His line about not being perfect made her want to laugh. No, he wasn't perfect, and he didn't see that that was what she loved most about him. She smiled, closing her eyes when he kissed her forehead, willing herself not to blush. Somehow, she succeeded in that, though she wasn't entirely sure how. Her heart had decided to spiral off into energizer-bunny-mode, if the rapid thump she could feel in her chest was any indication. She smiled again, taking the hand that he offered. "Yes, I do believe you are right. I think I need one of those cookies I smelled earlier."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK




Image




Image




Nikki was chewing thoughtfully on a cookie, and was once again roaming the halls of the von Nacht manor. She, too, had been chased away from the kitchen by Ava, threatened with a wooden spoon. Nikki had to hand it to the girl, she knew how to cook. However, as of right now, she had no purpose. She thought about returning to the piano, but then she decided against it.

She found herself wandering by the library, slightly surprised to see a flash of pink hair. She poked her head in through the door and saw Erys sitting in one of the chairs next to the fire place, a book in hand. Nikki walked in quietly, coughing slightly to let her presence be known.


After the conclusion of the party, two months passed idly by. Jasper had invited everyone to the von Nacht Mansion, and not one to refuse a friend, Vincent obliged. They arrived sometime at the von Nacht manor and were greeted by Heinrich von Nacht and the others. Vincent merely nodded an acknowledgement while Erys stood off to the side, watching as the others mingled together. A few hours later found Erys in the library, a book in hand and reading quietly to herself. There was too much noise up and about, and then the smell of baked cookies had entered the premises. She was sure her Brother would be seeking them out. While he might not show it, he did have somewhat of a sweet-tooth and she would happily oblige him from time to time.

Regardless, she had wanted some time to herself away from everyone. So, here she was sitting in the library and reading a random book she plucked from the shelves. She was skimming through it rather than actually reading. It wasn't anything interesting, and as she flipped to the next page, the sound of someone clearing their voice caught her attention. Furrowing her brows, she sighed through her nose and glanced up from the pages. She spotted the girl Jasper had been dancing with, the one that they had all stood to protect that night. Placing the book down, she gave the girl her undivided attention.

"Is there something I can help you with? Or are you just going to stand there?" she questioned. Although it came off rather rude, Erys meant nothing by her statement. It was just the way she was used to speaking to people. Forward and to the point. She made a lot of enemies this way, but cherished the few friends she made who could deal with it.


Nikki couldn't help the slight smile that passed over her lips as Erys shut her book and spoke. Ever to the point, the girl was as straightforward as an arrow. That was something Nikki could admire. Still, this was slightly awkward. She didn't know Erys, just as she didn't know Vincent. But, still, she had started this, she would damn-well see it through. She ran a hand through her hair. "I really don't have much right to ask you this, but I was wondering if you could do me a favor. As to be expected, my brother is not taking my being alive for a century without telling him very well. As bad as I feel about that, I can also understand it. However; he really shouldn't be sulking like he is. And I highly doubt that he wants to hear any of this from me. I also can tell that he at least likes you enough in someway to bug you, as he seems so fond of doing. To get to the point, I would like you to talk to him. If you would." She sighed, rather irritated with herself. She waved a hand in the air before speaking again. "Oh forget this. Jasper can keep his manners. I am not a people person. Look, long story short, I'd like you to talk to my brother and get him to stop being such a mope, if you would."

Erys sighed, running a hand through her strawberry locks. She should have known Morgan would act like this. Not that she could blame him, if she had lost Vincent only to find out he was still alive, she would have been furious. Granted she would have probably handled the situation a bit differently, but still. As Nikki continued talking, Erys couldn't help but raise a confused brow. What could she possibly tell the vampire that his sister could not? Well, that explains a lot. Sighing, Erys thought for a moment.

"That idiot," she muttered, standing from her chair and glancing towards Nikki. "I don't know how much help I can be, and I can't guarantee that it'll end well, however," she paused, locking gazes with Nikki in the process. She couldn't guarantee anything really when it came to the Alistair male, but somewhere down the line, they were and are, family. "I hold no responsibility if your brother comes back with another black eye," she finished, making her way towards the exit of the library before stopping. "Where is the moron?" she questioned. She didn't know where he was, and although she could seek him out via scent, she would rather know now ahead of time instead of following it to every crook and nanny.


Nikki couldn't stifle the giggle that rose in her throat at Erys' comment about the black eye. That had been back before Morgan had known she was alive. Nikki had wondered, but now that she knew it had been Erys, well...it didn't surprise her very much. "Remember, I'm asking you to do this. I hold nothing against you." She smiled slightly, looking at Erys. "He's either sulking in his room on the third floor, or he's outside, looking to the west. He does that, quite a lot, when he's thinking about our parents and Naya."

Morgan was outside, standing with his hands in his pockets, the snow falling silently around him. He watched it fall for a few seconds, the silence becoming deafening. From the way the snow had piled up around his ankles, it would seem that he'd been standing there for a while.


Erys nodded when Nikki told her the desired information and walked out of the library, shutting the door behind her. She walked the hallways, acknowledging people in the process when she passed them. Soon, she found herself standing outside, glancing up at the darkened sky as the snow fell. A slight smile tugged at her lips before she continued trudging along. Although she walked with purpose, she also walked silently as to not startle those who may be outside by themselves. She found Morgan soon enough, feet encased in snow as he stared blankly at the sky. She frowned slightly, shaking her head and releasing a deep sigh. The crunching of the snow filled the deafening silence as she stood beside him, arms folded across her chest as she stared up at the sky with him. She allowed the silence to encase them before turning her attention to Morgan.

"Idiot, what are you doing?" she stated, her eyes never leaving his form. She could see that he was in deep thought or just letting the information circle through his mind. Vincent had did this once, but that was a long time ago when he had to make a decision that was more-so about life and death. Morgan, however, was not making a life or death situation. He was just overwhelmed with the fact that his sister was alive. Or at least that is what ran through Erys' mind.


For a few seconds, Morgan didn't respond. Then, he finally lowered his head, looking sideways at Erys. He thought of some witty comment to say, and then thought better of it. He ran a hand through his hair. "There are a great many things I could say, but I believe you already know what I'm doing. So I will ask you. What are you doing."

Erys locked eyes with Morgan as he turned to face her, running a hand through his hair in the process. That, was a good question. She didn't understand it herself the reason why she was here. All that she knew was that she had to be here. And it wasn't because Nikki requested it of her, although the more logical part assumed so. She shook her head, a scoff escaping her lips in the process. She truly needed to rethink the things she did, otherwise she wouldn't be in this predicament, however; some part of her actually cared.

"I am simply enjoying the cold night air with a friend. That is all, and if I knew what you were doing, then I wouldn't have asked now would I?" she responded, a lighter tone highlighting her voice in the process. She groaned, rubbing her face with her hands in the process. This wouldn't get anywhere if they continued bantering like this, so, she set her face in a stern gesture. "Look," she began, demanding that Morgan keep eye contact as she kept his gaze. "You can mope and sulk all you want here, but what purpose is that going to serve you? All it will do is keep you from moving on. At least be happy that you have your sister back, that she's alive and well and that she is here now with you," she stated. Her hand twitched as she resisted tapping his shoulder in the process.

"All this will do to you is cause unnecessary hardships that none of us need, especially right now," she concluded. She wasn't the best person to console or give advice to someone, but she was never one to lie about something either nor hold back. People needed to hear the truth instead of a dressed up lie. Whether they took it kindly or not, was none of her concern. As was this, but even that thought seemed a bit...wrong.


Morgan looked at her curiously. "I suppose you have a point, yet consider it from my point of view. To me, she's not my sister. I haven't seen her in one hundred years, and she'd not the same girl she was back then." He sighed again. He cocked an eyebrow, and then, he bent over. He scooped up a handful of snow, and before he could rethink it, he stood up and shoved it into Erys' face. Perhaps the best part, was the fact that he kept a straight face until she wiped her eyes and glared at him. Then he grinned at her. "There, that's better."

His statement only caused Erys to glare at him. Not his sister? He might not have seen her in a hundred years, she might appear different, she might have changed. But considering that they both lived different lives, it was to be expected that she wouldn't remain the same girl he knew. She had grown, she will always grow. That is the thing about being a vampire. When you have time, time tends to change people. Whether that was for the good or bad, it was up to that vampire. She clenched her fists tightly. Had he truly thought that about his own sister?

"You truly are an idiot. It doesn't matter that she's not the same girl you knew. The only thing that matters is the blood that flows through both of your veins that connects you toge-," Erys was cut off when a handful of snow was shoved into her face, getting a few of the snowflakes into her mouth in the process. She blinked a few times, wiping the snow from her eyes as she glared at the boy. There was a seething anger bubbling within her as her eyes darkened considerably, the blue irises flashing a crimson color in the process. Something of a growl and snarl escaped her throat, however; there was a hint of playfulness occupying her eyes. Much as he did, she, with a speed only known to be possessed by a vampire, grabbed a handful of the white snow.

She hurled the ball as hard as she could, and given her strength it was a bit much, at Morgan, watching as the ball connected with his face. She dusted her hands off with a triumphant smile upon her face, placing a hand on her hip as she glanced down at the boy. The force with which she threw the snowball should have rendered him upon his back, and he deserved it, however; she just grinned down, offering her free hand to Morgan to help him up. "Stop being such a pup and get over it," she stated.


Morgan found himself on his back, snow all over his face, laughing. It was a rather rich sound, one that had not graced these grounds in many years. When he finally stopped laughing, he looked up at Erys who stood over him. She had offered him his hand, and he was about to take it when he spotted something. They were under the old oak tree on the west side of the grounds, and there was something up above him, in the tree, tied to the branches. A wicked grin spread over his face as he took Erys' hand, but instead of pulling himself up, he pulled her down to him, rolling as he did so. He trapped her between his arms as he poached one hand beside each of her shoulders, his fingers splayed out in the snow.

He grinned wickedly down at her, and leaned down next to her, their faces mere inches apart. He moved his head to the right slightly, allowing her to look up into the tree, to see the mistletoe hanging there. "Blame Ava." was all that he said before kissing her on the cheek.


Erys smiled, a rare genuine smile, when Morgan began laughing. It was replaced soon by a confused tilt of her head as Morgan looked passed her. As she turned to see what it was, she found herself being pulled down, and being caught of guard, she found herself trapped underneath Morgan. She blinked rapidly, confused at the sudden situation she found herself in. It was, however, clarified when Morgan tilted his head, and there behind him, laced in the leaves in the tree above them, was mistletoe. Her eyes widened a fraction as he spoke to blame Ava. Of course, only her best friend would do something like that.

Still unable to move due to the sudden actions, Morgan placed a kiss on her cheek, causing Erys to turn a light shade of pink, however; a devilish grin appeared on her lips. Perhaps it was the snow, the fight, or perhaps just because, but Erys found herself grabbing Morgan by the collar of his shirt and crashed their faces together, her lips finding his with ease. She soon released him and held him at an arms length. "That is what you are supposed to do under mistletoe, and this," she paused, releasing his shirt. At first, it appeared as if she was going to caress his face, however; her fist collided with his jaw, sending him off of her in the process. She stood, dusting off the stray flakes of snow as she folded her hands over her chest, her eyes fixed in a light glare.

"And that was for doing it wrong and pulling me down," she finished with a satisfied nod of her head.


To say that Morgan was stunned would be an understatement. He hadn't expected her to grin, and he certainly didn't expect her to kiss him like she did. When she released him, it was his turn to blush, and then a fist connected with his jaw. He found himself once again lying on the ground in the snow, this time grinning like an idiot. He hoisted himself up, and shook his head a few times, the smile never leaving his face. He tuned away from her as he began to walk away. "I suppose I deserved that. But just keep in mind. If Vincent ever finds out about that, he will probably kill me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

Earnings

0.00 INK



Image

Image

“Why is it so effortless, being like this with you?”


Ava, she of the wooden spoons and the friendly threats, currently danced about the kitchen. Quite literally, in fact—she was swaying in time with an orchestral rendition of some of the Christmas classics as she baked, the hem of her dark red, velvet dress swishing about her knees, the trailing ends of the black satin ribbon around the waist brushing her calves. Of course, striped socks were entirely necessary to complete the ensemble, and helpful for sliding around on the tile floors like a skater on ice. The kitchen was filled with humming and the smell of sweet confectionary; her third dozen, as all those present had somehow managed to bulldoze through the first two before they ever made it out onto the big dessert table in the foyer.

A small stack of presents was piled on one of the free counters, all wrapped in crisp, colorful paper. She’d managed to find a gift for everyone that she thought fitted them pretty well. Jazz had received some original sheet music, written by Chopin himself, that she’d purchased from a museum sale back in the summertime. It had been basically horrible trying to keep the secret for all this time, and it had cost her almost a year's wages, but she’d managed it. Erys’s love of classical orchestral pieces had prompted Ava to record a series of songs, herself playing violin mostly, though Jazz had agreed to help with some piano where necessary, that reminded her of her half-vampiric best friend. The songs ranged from the cheerful to the more somber and melancholy, but each of them represented a distinct moment in their friendship, which she’d explained in the overly-sentimental letter she’d attached to the gift.

One might have thought she didn’t understand Nikki at all, because her gift to the girl was a delicate, crystal hairpin in the shape of a cherry blossom that sparkled when it caught the light, but if one were clever, they would note that the refractive quality was quite evocative of Jasper’s eyes. The note that went with it was simple. Don’t give up; he’s just a bit slow! She had a feeling Nikki was not the kind of person that would appreciate more direct interference, so Ava was showing her support in the only way she knew how. Morgan received something interesting—in her time as an information-gatherer for Jazz, she’d gotten to know quite a few technology experts, and one of them, perhaps in a misguided attempt to get himself a date, had gifted her with a program, capable of invisibly hacking basically anything, called the “skeleton key.” She’d copied it onto a thumb drive and wrapped it for him, for your more nefarious endeavors, according to his card.

Kisuke, she didn’t know that well, but she was familiar with weapons, and he seemed like the kind of person who preferred to take care of his himself, so she’d found him an artisan-quality whetstone, which he could use to hone and sharpen the tools of his trade. Please don’t use anything you sharpen with this to kill me, okay? went the message appended to the gift tag. She was fairly proud of herself for thinking of such things for her friends and family, and dearly hoped they would enjoy them. Vincent had been… tricky, and honestly, she’d only figured out what to get him maybe a fortnight previous, and had spent the majority of her free time between then and now working on it. The only words on his card were simple: thank you. That gift was a three-foot square, of perhaps three inches depth, wrapped in red paper and gold ribbon. She still wasn’t sure she had the guts to give it, actually, because it was very personal, but then there wasn’t anything else that had seemed right to her, so there it was.

The oven timer went off, and, sliding her somewhat ridiculous Christmas-themed mitts onto her hands, Ava pulled out the fresh tray of cookies and set about frosting them with painstaking care. Let nobody say she didn't know how to throw a good party.

Vincent had wandered through the halls of the von Nacht manor with no purpose in mind. He simply walked through much like a ghost haunting the hallways, his hair floating behind him in the process. He was adorned in a simple plain white shirt and a pair of black slacks, still appearing the formal attire. He had spoken with no one today, and wasn't inclined to do so at all. He had a lot on his mind, and he didn't need any distractions of any kind. He had originally planned on seeking comfort in the library, however; he could catch faint traces of Erys' scent in there along with Nikki's. Instead, here he was roaming idly by with no actual purpose of doing so.

Something, however, caught the Kuragari pure-blood's attention, something sweet. It wasn't the enticing, sweet, smell of blood, but something fairly close that he might have considered it to be a trick of the senses. He followed the scent to the kitchen area, silently making his way inside and stopped at a peculiar sight. There, in the kitchen, oven-mitts on and moving about, was Ava. Vincent rose a brow to this and stared as the Ellsworth girl seemed content at what she was doing. His eyes traveled to the counter where a fresh batch of cookies had been made. It was a curious sight to him really. Had she been making cookies all day? He cleared his throat in an attempt to state that he was there and to give her time to react properly to his appearance.

His intention was not to startle the girl out of her wits and he certainly didn't wish for her to drop the fresh batch of cookies in her hands that she had just pulled from the oven. He didn't want the confectioneries to end up on the floor and wasted. His eyes traveled from the cookies to the presents that sat upon another counter, set neatly upon each other. At that, he rose a questionable eyebrow. Had she purchased these gifts for her friends? Personally, Vincent never saw the need for such things. After living for so long, holidays were just another thing that passed by. There was no real purpose to them any longer, or at least in his mind it wasn't. After all, the meaning had been lost amongst the human's after generations of traditions being simplified.

But then again, humans were not gifted with immortality, so perhaps there was reason as to why the holidays were watered down so to speak. Regardless, his eyes traveled back to Ava and lingered upon her form a bit longer perhaps than what was considered polite.

Somewhere in the middle of Deck the Halls, which sounded much better with full symphony than anytime else, she was distinctly aware that she was being watched. Of course, she wasn’t the kind of person to stop what she was doing and get all embarrassed, especially not in the comfort of her own home. She could dance and look silly if she wanted to. Well, technically, it was Jasper’s home, and Heinrich’s, but she spent far more time here than she did at the house where her parents lived. It might as well be her home, and it was with this in mind that she didn’t bother feeling too awkward about what she was doing. Surely, everyone knew what kind of person she was by now, and would expect something of the sort.

The sound of a clearing throat alerted her to the fact that her guest was at least polite enough to inform her of his presence, and so she set the cookies down on the counter with great care before she looked over, smiling brightly when she saw who it was. “Hello, Vincent. Is everything well? “ she second-guessed herself a bit on using his given name, but honestly, in this setting, where she was sliding around her kitchen wearing candy-cane striped socks, the formality would have been even weirder. She supposed he probably wouldn’t hold it too much against her.

Sliding the mitts off, she placed them over to one side grabbing a spatula and using it to move the confections onto a cooling rack as she talked. “I don’t suppose you’d like a cookie? You’re welcome to… seems like everyone I know has a sweet tooth.” It was true, really—Jazz, Nikki, and Heinrich had all been by today, and she was deliberately saving some of the chocolate chip ones for Erys. It was clear that her favorite holiday had put her in an even better mood than usual, but she wasn’t annoying about it—she just seemed to smile more, if anything.

Vincent watched as Ava set the cookies down and greeted him. He tilted his head very lightly at the use of his name, however; he wasn't going to say anything about it. They should be passed such things by now, having spent years together in one setting or another. Plus, she was Erys' friend and they should have been passed that barrier. It wasn't something to linger about as she inquired if everything was well. He simply nodded his head in acknowledgement before she offered him one of the cookies. Not one to refuse, Vincent picked one of the cookies up and studied it for a moment before taking a bite out of the sweet.

"Why don't you open up a shop for these?" he stated more-so than questioned. To be perfectly honest, the cookie was delicious. It was savory and better than the ones Erys would make him from time to time. Not that he'd ever tell his sister that her best friend baked better than she did, she'd probably become upset about it. Either way, she could have pursued perhaps a different form of employment this way. But Vincent knew that, although she was Jasper's assistant, she was also bound to him in some way or another. She couldn't just up and leave her employer. The terms of that contract would be hard to terminate freely.

"You are...something," he spoke, unsure of what the proper word would be to describe the girl's cooking skills. Once the cookie was gone, he glanced outside through one of the small windows. It was snowing outside. He had always enjoyed the snow quite honestly. It calmed things down a bit and gave reason to hide away in the library of the Kuragari estate during the winter times. He then turned back to Ava. "How are you fairing, Ava?" he questioned, not really sure why, but he asked anyway. It had been two months since the incident at the party, and then even longer since the day that vampire caused her harm. His eyes narrowed a ghost of a fraction at that thought. His eyes traveled to Ava's neck and spotted the faint, hardly visible to the human eye, scar that lingered upon it.

She canted her head to the side and scoffed faintly. Of course, she probably could survive all right if she opened such a shop, or even a restaurant, but… it wouldn’t be the same. “I suppose because… I like where I am. It makes me happy to do things for my friends; I think a little bit of the joy would go away if I did this for a living.” She shrugged slightly, picking up a tube of frosting and delicately applying artistic details to the cookies. They were going to be on display, after all—they might as well look nice in addition to tasting good. She had a certain sense of pride in her work, but it only tended to manifest in the little things, as she didn’t believe in being ostentatious about what she did. Other people were more suited for the spotlight than she.

“Besides, we both know Jazz would be utterly hopeless without someone to keep his life in order. He’d miss all his meetings and play piano all day or something.” Probably true—he had no love of the things he was forced to do as head of one of the most prominent pureblood families in the world. He would rather his life were quiet and serene, though that was something of a vain hope for any of them, she thought.

She noted the fact that he looked at the scar when he asked the next question, and her smile dimmed a little bit, until it was small and a trifle sad, but still present. For the moment, she set aside what she was doing and braced both palms against the counter, leaning into them slightly and chewing her lip thoughtfully. It never occurred to her to lie or just offer some kind of meaningless platitude—an honest question deserved an honest answer. In the end, she met his eyes and half-smiled softly, sighing a short breath and shaking her head. “I’m… better. It’s funny, you know… even though I’m human and honestly less significant in the grand scheme of things than the rest of you, I’m used to being relied upon. I like the feeling of helping, and I think that’s why Jasper lets me do so many things for him. But… relying on other people, being helped, that’s a bit harder. I’m learning, though.” Her hand wandered up to trace the path of the scar with a fingertip, but then she dropped it back to her side.

“Oh, actually,” she said, distracted by a colorful glimmer from the corner of her eye, “I got you something. Well… actually, I made it. I hope you don’t mind.” Skating across the floor to the stack of gifts, she picked out the one with his name on it and placed it on the counter in front of him. “It’s not much, but I thought you might like it.” Within was actually a small canvas, on which had been painted a strikingly-realistic depiction of Erys and Vincent, caught in a moment of levity. She remembered it well—it had happened in the hours after the assassination attempt. Ava had said or done something ridiculous as usual, and Erys had laughed, holding onto her brother’s elbow for support. Strangely, even Vincent had smiled a little, and the two of them together were the very picture of siblings. It was something that had caught her eye as an artist, and she’d recreated it as faithfully as possible with paint.

A mixture of a smirk and smile graced Vincent as Ava spoke. Of course Jasper would be lost without her. He wouldn't last a day truly without the Ellsworth by his side. Vincent had noted that a long time ago when he was still getting used to seeing the human by Jasper's side. Needless to say, she had brought a sense of warmth to the von Nacht pure-blood, something he was quite grateful for really. It was a tad bit when the von Nacht heir would approach unprepared for something and often times or not, had caused delays with meetings and such. His eyes furrowed at the note of sudden mood in Ava. Her smile, once bright, was now a bit sad, haunting even.

"I did not mean to upset you. It was not my intention," he spoke as she replied to his question. He furrowed his brows slightly as he listened to her. There was no shame in being helped when and if it was needed. He truly couldn't understand how the human mind works, and had often had a hard time grasping the simplest of concepts of it. Before he could speak, Ava stated that she had something for him. He tilted his head slightly in confusion. Why would she go out of her way to get someone like him something? It was unnecessary, however, Erys had taught him that it was okay to let others give him things. Though he may or may not have use for them, it was the thought that counts, or how she at least put it.

He took the present gingerly in his hands, and carefully removed the wrapping. He pulled out the contents and stared at the picture. His eyes softened a fraction as he recalled the incident. Erys couldn't stop laughing at what Ava had did and she had used his elbow for support. Of course, although he wouldn't admit it, the situation was a bit entertaining that he had cracked a small smile himself. His fingers traced the painting in a thoughtful manner before placing it back into the box, covering it back up as to not spoil it. It truly was something how this human girl managed to stay so bright even with times like these. Perhaps that is why Jasper had always been so fond of her.

"Thank you, Ava," he stated. He felt obliged to give something in return, however; he wasn't exactly prepared for this. He hadn't been inclined to such things and certainly wasn't expecting to receive any gifts, save perhaps from his sister who made it a habit of giving him things for his birthday (he'd forgotten it long ago so Erys made one for him), or for the holidays like Christmas. He should still return the favor somehow. "I shall return the favor. Whatever you so desire, just ask and I shall make it happen," he settled on stating. Not one to properly express words, it was the only thing he could think of to repay her. After all, there was an itch in the back of his mind that he owed her that much.

She could think easily enough of something she desired, but that wasn’t the kind of thing one could rightfully ask for, so she just grinned and shook her head. “A gift isn’t given because anything is expected in return. If it suits you to return it at some point in the future, that’s fine, but don’t feel obligated.” She lifted a single shoulder in a half-shrug, knowing that the answer was probably somewhat less-helpful than he would have liked, but then, it was the truth, so it had that much going for it.

Something moved at the corner of her eye, though, and she turned to face it, looking out the kitchen window. The room had a view of the yard, where Morgan had been moping about for most of the day. As it happened, though, Erys was there as well, and they were… oh. Oh. Ava coughed with a bit of awkwardness and glanced away, unsure how Ery’s brother was going to react to the fact that his sister and intended had just kissed Morgan Alistair… and it was probably (mostly) Ava’s fault, at that. She might have to actually use this favor she was owed to extract a promise not to harm poor Morgan. She tried and failed to hide her amusement when Erys socked him in the jaw again, and lifted a hand to cover her smile.

Well, well… that was interesting.

Vincent shook his head lightly at Ava's response before sighing. He needed to work on human ethics a bit more. He didn't feel obligated to give the girl something, it was more of need to do so. He watched as she shrugged and made her way towards the window. She coughed, causing Vincent to wander closer to the window. He glanced outside and immediately, his eyes narrowed in the slightest. There, out in the yard underneath the snow, was his sister and the Alistair vampire. His brows furrowed deeply at the situation they were in, however; a small smile tugged at his lips. Erys had punched Morgan in the jaw, sending him off of her in the process.

He had nothing to fear when it came to his sister. She could take care of herself, however; he would have to have a bit of a talk with the Alistair vampire. Although he may have been engaged to his sister, he wasn't about to put her happiness below duty. He had told her long ago that if she desired someone else, he wasn't going to stop her and would call off the engagement. Perhaps he should do so regardless. He might have loved his sister, but it wasn't a romantic link. It was purely familial love he had for her. She was all he had left of their father. He turned, staring at Ava for a second.

"I think I may need to have a word with Alistair," he simply stated, a strange glint in his eye in the process. Ava was fairly sure it was going to be a mostly-civil big brother talk, and the thought caused her to smile just a little more brightly.

Happiness, it seemed, could be found even in the dimmest of situations.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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It had been roughly a week since the inccident under the tree between Morgan and Erys, and so far, Morgan had done a rather good job of avoiding Vincent. That wasn't persay that he was afraid of the Pure Blood. In truth, Morgan was terrified of him. Perhaps rightly so. Morgan rubbed his neck, thinking about what Erys had started saying before he had shoveled snow in her face. She was right, he had to somehow work things out with his sister.

The sun was rising as he stepped up to the door of the room she was using. It was the same room she and Naya had used when they were children. Morgan wondered how she was taking that. He spun hs mother's wedding ring around his finger, fidgeting. He wasn't sure of how to start something like this. It had been a hundred years of him thinking she was dead. How could he start talking--

His chain of thought was interrupted when the door opend, and he found Nikki staring at him through the slight crack between the door and the frame. She looked slightly bleary-eyed and tired. She yawned. "Morgan? What are you doing here?"

Morgan was slightly unsure of how to respond to that, and he found his mouth opening of it's own violation. "Hey. Can I come in?" His sister blinked at him, and then let him in. She sat down on the bed, rubbing her eyes. "What do you want?"

Morgan leaned against the door frame, sighing. "Look, I don't know why I came, alright? I suppose part of it was to apologize for being an ass...I was just..." Nikki looked up at him, her eyes suddenly clear. Slate grey met pale red, and suddenly his tounge loosened.

"I'm sorry. I thought you were dead for so long, and then all of a sudden you were back. I didn't know how to take it. I was confused. But that doesn't excuse the way I acted." He stopped when he heard her giggle. She beckoned him over to her, so he sat next to her. She laid her hand overtop his.

"You idiot. I should be the one apologizing. It wasn't right of me to hide like that, and I'm sorry. But I was only doing it to protect you." It was Morgan's turn to laugh. "I thought it was the big brother's job to protect his younger siblings."

She smiled. "I suppose. But sometimes the younger ones need to step up to the plate, too."
Morgan smiled. After a few moments, he took of his mother's wedding band, handing it to Nikki. "Here. I've kept these all these years. It seems only fitting that you have Moms'." Nikki looked surprised as she took the ring, sliding it onto the middle finger of her left hand. She smiled sadly when she read the inscriptions.

"Forever Faithful." "Forever Yours." Their parents had engraved the rings for their first wedding anniversary. Nikki could remember always asking their mother to explain what it meant when she was a little girl. She leaned over, laying her head on her brother's shoulder.

"Thank you, Big Brother."

Morgan smiled. That alone made things better between them, in the only way that siblings could, that silent unknown understanding that the two of them shared. It wasn't long after that that the two of them both fell asleep, Nikki curled up next to Morgan, their hands intertwined. Morgan hadn't meant to stay, but Nikki had asked him to. And he couldn't ever refuse his little sister anything.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth

Earnings

0.00 INK




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Erys snorted at Morgan's comment as the boy left. Vincent probably would kill him, or torture him, if he knew what had happened. Regardless, it seemed that her beloved brother had not known of the incident. A few days had passed since and Erys found herself wandering the von Nacht manor. She had avoided running into Heinrich. Quite honestly, he caused her to be wary around him, from the way he would stare at her to the subtle hints of his body language. She had chosen to stay as far away from the von Nacht elder as she possibly could. Which is what she was currently doing now. She had kept track of his scent, keeping tabs of where he was moving and where he had been so she could avoid him.

There was one place he had yet to visit, and Erys found her way there, only to find that it was already occupied. A smile pulled at her lips as she leaned on the door frame, her eyes fixed upon her best friend. Vincent wouldn't speak of it, but she had known the two had a moment of some sort. He had a picture in his room that he had framed and set upon his shelf, and the scene was one Erys knew well. She had laughed at how sentimental her brother was, however; he had just glared at her. She waved him off before leaving, and here she was now, in the presence of Ava.

"Ava," Erys stated, making her presence known. She then pushed herself off the door frame and entered the music room. She ran her fingers over the various instruments in the room, fingers finding the piano with ease as she pushed a key, eliciting a soft sound from it. She smiled as she turned her blue gaze towards Ava. "Thanks, for giving Vincent that gift. He doesn't show it, but he actually appreciates it. He hasn't stopped looking at it since you gave it to him," she stated, a hint of amusement lacing her voice.

Ava had taken the opportunity to tune her Stradivarius, as she hadn’t been able to properly pay attention to it for a while, and it was simply monstrous to neglect such a beautiful instrument as the one that she’d been given. She looked up from where she was intently plucking at the strings when Erys entered, smiling brightly for the presence of her best friend. One would probably not think that the two of them would ever get along, and yet they meshed well enough to complete each others’ sentences at times, almost like sisters. It was a tender thought for the human girl, who’d never had any siblings of any sort.

She was a bit surprised to hear it, but perhaps not as much as she should have been. Chuckling lightly, Ava shook her head, the corners of her eyes crinkling slightly with her gentle amusement. “I always knew he was secretly a softie,” she said with mirth in her tones, tilting her head to one side. A thought struck her then, and though her smile only grew, the hint in her amber-colored eyes could only be construed as mischief.

“So… you and Morgan, huh? He must have a thing for getting socked in the jaw.” She snickered, but in its own way, the query was serious. Erys wasn’t the kind of person to take such things lightly. “We, uh… saw part of that, you know. I’d intended that mistletoe for Jazz and Nikki, but I’m glad to see it worked for someone.”

"I think he's secretly a masochist," Erys replied casually. She shrugged her shoulders in the process, however, the question that escaped Ava's lips caused Erys to choke a bit. On what, she wasn't drinking anything. "Well not exactly. He started something I was inclined to finish. Plus, when you stand underneath a mistletoe, depending on who you are with, you are not supposed to give a simple kiss on the cheek," she stated as she regained her composure. She winced slightly when Ava mentioned that Vincent and herself had indeed witnessed the scene. That did not bode well for Erys.

If that were the case, why hadn't he spoken to her about it? Better yet, why had he not spoken to Morgan? She inwardly groaned. He was probably thinking of a way to make Alistair disappear without it being linked back to him. He had a reputation to uphold after all. She sighed before chuckling slightly. "What can I say? The guy's grown on me a bit," she stated while shrugging her shoulders. She wouldn't admit to it, but there was some weird attraction she had towards the Alistair vampire. Whether it's because of their occasional butting heads, or if there was something actually there, Erys had felt something for Morgan.

"What about you and Vinny? It seems you had some sort of affect on my brother," she turned the question around on Ava. She didn't like being the receiving end of questioning and so, she decided to turn the tables. Plus, she wasn't exactly unaware of Vincent's unusual mood swing. Despite him being a softy, he had truly softened up a bit and there was a strange glint to his usual darkened eyes.

Ava was still grinning up until the point when the conversation was turned back on her, and then she swallowed, trying very hard (and failing) not to turn pink in the cheeks. “Weren’t we supposed to be talking about you?” she tried, but it was pretty clear from the look she was getting that she wasn’t going to get away with such a tactic, and so she sighed. “Erys… you know I love you, right? We’re like, best friends, and will definitely keep each others’ secrets secret?” She coughed awkwardly, choosing to stare out the window and place a hand on her swiftly-burning cheek.

“I, uh… well… I’ve maybe had a little bit of a crush on your brother for a couple of years now. Ehe,” She peeked from the corner of her eye at her friend. “But—but nothing’s going on, really! I don’t think he knows… oh, I hope he doesn’t know! I don’t want to be another one of those crazy people that follows someone around and is just annoying and bothersome and silly all the time.” She scrunched up her nose at the very thought.

“Plus, I mean… I know he’s not exactly available. Especially to someone like, well… me. So it’s not really anything terribly important, you know. He’s just a nice person to me is all.” The words had tumbled out maybe a little faster than she’d intended, and she wound up smiling sheepishly over at Erys. Oh, but she was such a silly person sometimes, really. Getting all worked up over having her little secret out in the open like this. It shouldn’t even really matter, since nothing would come of it, but then… well, the heart always did like to hope, didn’t it?

Erys rose an amused eyebrow, a smirk tugging at her lips when Ava tried to redirect the questioning back to her. Erys, however, merely kept her amused features directed on Ava. Then, she tilted her head in confusion as Ava began speaking of keeping secrets. What had she meant by that? Soon enough, the question was answered when Ava began pouring her guts out. Erys tried her best not to laugh at her sister, and held a hand clamped over her mouth. Oh this was just the slice of cake that Erys couldn't refuse. So Ava's had a bit of a thing for her brother. That was certainly an interesting piece of information. Before she knew it, Erys had actually let out a heart-felt laugh, holding her sides in the process.

"I'm sorry Ava," she apologized, wiping away a tear from her eye in the process. She straightened out her posture once the rest of Ava's statement settled in. This caused her to frown a bit. To someone like her? Did she mean that because she was human? Erys snorted at that. She knew her brother well enough that he didn't dislike humans, and truly wanted to protect them. Perhaps...

"You shouldn't give up Ava. He likes you well enough, trust me. I just think he needs a bit of a push to realize it. I've never seen him so, happy about something as he was about the gift. And available, to someone like you? Of course he is. Just because he's my fiance doesn't mean that we can't choose whom we want to love. That promise was made a long time ago. If Ava wants my brother, she can have him," Erys stated casually, winking at Ava in the process. "Besides, I don't think I'd be able to handle him. You, on the other hand, might just do him some good," she finished with a softer smile.

Her initial reaction to being laughed at was a healthy dose of mortification, but then Erys apologized, and clarified, so her expression settled back into the slightly self-effacing smile. Well, at least it sounded like Erys hadn’t managed to guess before now, which meant that perhaps she wasn’t being too obvious about things. She shook her head a bit at her friend’s next words though—though this was part of the reason she’d been worried about it, it wasn’t the totality of her concern. For now, though, she’d leave the topic alone. It wasn’t like she really wanted to spend her time with her best friend lamenting on how she was going to grow old and die before any of them had time to so much as blink.

So instead, she only grinned, hiding her uncertainties effectively behind the smile. That was the thing with Ava—her smiles were almost always real, but they weren’t always the whole story. They were a much more effective disguise for being genuine, though. “Well,” she said lightly, “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, would you like to play something? I was just giving the Strad a tuneup; I could use the practice.”

Erys shook her head at her friend, stifling the laugh that plagued to leave her once more. Ava swiftly changed the subject, not that Erys could blame her. After all, she had basically given her blessing to Ava and encouraged her. Shaking her head softly, she kept the smile on her face when Ava mentioned playing something. She nodded her head in agreement. The last time they played something together was during the festival. That had been almost a month or so ago, and she missed playing with her friend. She sat down at the piano, playing a key to make sure it was tuned before smiling at Ava.

"So, what should we play?" she questioned. Soon, the halls were filled with a sweet symphony caressing the quiet demeanor of the von Nacht mansion.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Kisuke Sou

Earnings

0.00 INK

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Kisuke had spent the majority of his free time in the library, surrounded by volumes and tomes of varying subject and age. At any given point of the day, you could walk in and see him, his nose usually buried in a book or pressed to the notebook in front of him, his ruby eyes skimming back and forth over its contents, his mouth moving soundlessly to words that were in his mind. For the most part, it would seem that he was researching familial histories of lesser-known vampiric lines, and this was mainly true. He also had anatomy books, botany books, and a few on the nature of the lineage of vampiric abilities. He seemed focused on children, which would often beg the question: why did he seem so interested?

Nikki had tried to drag him away from his research, and only succeeded once. She gave up after that, knowing it was no use. The man loved his little experiments, there was no tearing him away from any of it. The only other time he stopped over the course of two week aside form eating and sleeping was when he returned to his room to find a small gift waiting for him. He was surprised to find it was from Ava, the human assistant to the von Nacht Kitten was so fond of. It amused him that the girl would go out of her way to get a gift for a complete stranger, but it was a well-picked gift. Three days afterwards, he happened to run into her in the kitchen, to which he told her his thanks, along with an added comment, "I appreciate your gift and note, though I assure you, unless someone is paying me to end your life, you are in no danger from me, my lady." He had then given her a sweeping bow and returned to the library.

At the current moment, he was there. It was perhaps four to five days before Christmas, and it was well into the early hours of the morning before dawn when he felt a presence lurking at the door. He sighed, throwing down his pencil and leaned back in the chair he occupied. "If there is something of which you wish to say to me, von Nacht, I suggest you stop leering at me and come out and say it. I assume you wish to talk, yet are unsure of how to start, and that is why you are lurking in the shadows rather than coming directly to me." He swiveled the chair around, touching the fingertips of his hands together in front of his face, looking in the direction of the door. "By all means, come, talk, ask. I daresay Kitten would be thrilled to know this was happening. She does care a great deal for you, after all."


Jasper had, in point of fact, only paused outside the door to contemplate whether or not he wanted to retrieve that book he’d been thinking of on ancient vampire laws and custom, perhaps to remind himself of some of the things he’d forgotten and arm himself against his grandfather, but if this man wanted to believe otherwise, that was his business. Besides, he did have a point: it was perhaps important that they have some form of conversation about Kisuke’s presence here, though as far as Jasper was concerned, if Nikki cared about the man as much as she seemed to, than courtesy demanded hospitality of him, and he was ever a slave to courtesy and the whims of his cousins. So, unbothered, he gently pushed the door open and glided soundlessly into the room, drifting to the shelf he wanted and pulling the desired book off the shelf.

“It seems, rather, that you are the one with something you wish to say, else I’d have been quite simple to ignore.” Sometimes, Jasper was not very conscious of how powerful he was, and how potently his aura manifested around him. It would have been very possible not to talk to him, yes, but not to ignore him entirely. One would have to be completely oblivious to not at least take note of his presence. His face as placid as it had ever been, he turned so that he was facing Kisuke, giving the books the man had a cursory glance before meeting scarlet eyes with mercurial silver, one ink-black brow ascending ever-so-slightly. The man did seem to have a sense of the dramatic, and he was hardly mannered. Perhaps he wished that Jasper should speak first from some misguided attempt to outmaneuver him in some way? The pureblood admitted that he was not sure why such a thing would be necessary—he had no intentions of making this man his opponent in anything.

Well, if having the conversation they should required that he ask the first question, then he simply would. It did not offend his pride to do such, after all—for someone of his stature, Jasper actually had very little pride at all. “Your reappearance was quite conveniently-timed,” he said, still eminently neutral in both tone and bearing, largely because this was how he actually felt. He wasn’t hiding anything, this was simply how he was. “You do not seem the sort to decide to appear without a reason.” The implicated question was rather clear: why reappear now? To what end did he return after two decades gone, and to what end did he reveal himself and his purpose to both Morgan and Jasper (not to mention Nikki) after a century? ‘Whim’ was not something that Jasper believed would apply here, and as such, he was after something more explanatory.


A momentary grin flashed over Kisuke's face before returning to its placid stare, his eyes meeting Jasper's unflinchingly. Truly, the man was wiser than he appeared, which was only to be expected of Pure Blood such as him. Despite his neutrality in looks, there was a slight note of humor in his voice. "Well isn't that studious of you. No, I am not that type of person. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Truth be told, I was quite curious to see how Nikki was faring alone. These past twenty years I have, frankly, not kept so close an eye on her. My time has been poured elsewhere, into the training of another, so to speak. Raising children can be quite tedious, not to mention time-consuming.

"The fact that I appeared on the night that I did so, was not, in fact mere coincidence."
A glimmer of a smile appeared in his eyes before he continued. "I am a mercenary, and as such, I often get jobs dealing in assasinations. That night in particular, it was I who was supposed to assassinate the Headmaster of Cross Academy. I'm still not entirely sure who sent me the order, but if I had to haard a guess, I would say it was a one Theodor von Nacht, though there are plenty others who would see the man dead." He allowed the information to sink in before continuing. It was a dangerous position he put himself in, he knew, revealing such information. It would put him even moreso on Jasper's radar, and make the Pure Blood watch him more closely, lest he finish intended task. But one would be a fool to say that Kisuke did not revel in danger. He thrived in it. "I truly did not expect the events to go down as they did that night. I passed off the job to another, and stood watch as Nicole cut him down. I did step in, of course, if only to make myself known to her once more. I was a bit surprised when she outright killed him though. Thirty years ago she never would have done so. Rather she would have let him live to interrogate him. Still, what happened happened, and here we stand now."

He picked up his pencil, balancing the tip on the paper while pressing down on the eraser with his thumb. "The relationship with which you percieve between Nikki and I is not at all what you think. It would be if I had full say in the matter. Sadly, I do not, and she has made it extremely clear that her affections lay solely with a certian Pure Blood, and not with myself. Her affections for me are more akin to her affections for her brother. She sees me as a friend, and undoubtedly now, as a protector. So this bravado that you keep flaring up in your aura when you are around me can stop. Kitten is in no danger from me in that department, I can assure you. Though for a man like you, I highly doubt my word counts for very much. Surely the word of a mercenary counts little to anyone, if we are being completely honest. Such is the life of the hired blade." There was too much amusement in his eyes when he spoke.


That was quite a lot of information. Jasper decided that it was probably best to deal with it in some kind of order. The most important part, the one that had to do with the assassination and his grandfather, made him curious, and in no small part suspicious. Not necessarily of Kisuke himself, though of course Jasper would have been an idiot to trust him fully. Rather, he was interested in the workings of his grandfather’s mind. “If my grandfather was truly behind your employ, he would have guessed what you’d actually do,” Jasper said quietly, the slightest tinge of bitterness in his tone. “Perhaps he knew everything all along… it is not something that the wise would discount as a possibility.” Without even the faintest hint of doubt, Theodor von Nacht was the most dangerous being alive in the world—and probably more dangerous than all the dead ones as well. His ability to know—to understand more of people than they ever would of themselves—this was worth more than any force of physical strength. He could render the mightiest of warriors a broken-minded mess with little effort at all.

“For your own benefit, you should stay away from him. He tends to leave no loose ends.” Beyond this warning, it was Kisuke’s own business what he chose to do, of course, as long as none of Jasper’s family was dragged any further into it. The matter afterwards was perhaps the result of a misunderstanding—apparently on both of their parts. It seemed that Jasper had misread the relationship Nikki held to Kisuke, though only on one end. It was apparent that the man himself would have wanted to be as close with her as Jasper had thought they were, but that her affections were directed elsewhere. He wondered for a moment just who this mysterious pureblood was, but he would not ask. It was Nikki’s concern, and if she desired that he know, she would tell him. His place was not to pry.

“I have not been doing anything to my aura,” he pointed out with a bit of confusion, and indeed, he had not. What Kisuke was reading as bravado was simply the natural expression of his ability—even contained, some of Jasper’s power tended to spill over the edges. It had been this way for him since he was a child. He’d once thought it was a problem everyone had, but apparently it was not. What he did not know was that the combination of his lineages, entirely unique, had given him more raw potential than any of his ancestors, and considering that he had a direct line from the long-dead progenitor, that was saying something. No one had seen fit to tell him this, though his grandfather knew it.

He did not miss the comment about raising children, though he was not exactly sure why it was mentioned as such. It was odd that it should come up in the same context as Kisuke’s opinion of the relationship he wanted with Nikki, and Jasper was not slow—he understood what the man was implicating quite clearly. But Nikki had not mentioned such a thing at any point, and so he wondered if the implication may just be false, designed to get some kind of reaction out of him. As before, though, he could think of no reason that would be necessary. In the end, he simply addressed the last point.

“A man’s profession carries no weight in my concern. A Councilman lies as easily as a mercenary or a manservant, a vampire as deceptively as a human. If your word is to count in my estimation, it will be because you yourself have merited as much. I would hope that the same applies of mine to you.” He made no mention of whether Kisuke’s word did in fact count, largely because he had not yet decided the question. Nikki’s trust was a mark in his favor; Kisuke’s own attitude towards things counted against him. What the verdict would be remained to be seen. “If that is all,” Jasper stated, tucking the book he had retrieved under his elbow, “I will leave you to your research. There is more information on vampiric genetics in the cabinet at the far right of the room, if perchance you have not yet looked there.”


Yet another hint of a grin played across Kisuke's lips as he swung the chair around. Jasper von Nacht was in interesting man. He would have been a better choice as a father to Yuri than himself, of that, he had no doubt, but there would have been no way to do so. Kisuke had read into the von Nacht line. Such a direct line to ones Ancestor was powerful -too powerful for one such as Kisuke. The thought made him frown slightly. This Pure Blood would clearly be detrimental to the experiment. Unless...

The fact that he seemed unware of his own power level was interesting. He would love to see what would happen when he truly realized how much power he actually had. Kisuke doubted even Theodor could easily overpower him then. That would be an interesting battle, and a destructive one to boot. The fact that he had intirely missed his point in directing his attention towards Nikki's feelings towards him did not surprise him in the slightest. When it came to such emotions, the Pure Blood was quite oblivious. Many vampires were, if truth was to be told. "The clouds brewing are only the herald of the storm yet to come, Jasper. Families will be torn apart in this conflict. And it makes me wonder. If Nikki is forced to choose between the man she loves and her brother, who would she choose?" He asked as the door closed behind the Pure Blood. Kisuke didn't expect an answer. Truly, the depths of the mans' oblivion when it came to her affections towards him knew no bounds.

He leafed through his papers, stopping when he came across the small picture of Yuri in the corner of her file. A small smile ran its way over his face, though his eyes remained cold. It was almost time for mother and daughter to meet once again. It would be interesting to see if Nikki's mind could handle it or not.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

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It was a few days since the kitchen incident, and Vincent found himself constantly near the area when a certain scent covered the air. It confused him slightly, however; he didn't think much of it and continued on his business as per usual. He had a lot running through his mind as of late. The council, his sister, the events that had happened not too long ago, and the Alistair vampiress who had been revealed to be the other Alistair's sister. That meant that she was part of his family as well. Although a distant cousin perhaps, they were nonetheless related in some way. It explained a lot, including why she smelled so much like Morgan. He frowned slightly before releasing a short sigh.

He allowed himself to be lead towards the Library. He could find some peace and comfort there and sort his mind out. Once there, he grabbed a random book and opened it, skimming the first page before setting it down. It wouldn't hold his attention, that much he knew. He grabbed another one, and as the first one, skimmed the first page. Deciding this one was a bit worth reading, he settled himself in a chair in front of the fire place with another chair placed in front o him. He couldn't understand quite the reason why there was a fire place near the books, but he could understand that it brought a sense of luxury to the place.

If pure-bloods were one thing, they were adamant about having only the best in their homes to prove their status. Vincent, however, remained unfazed by it all. Perhaps it was due to his age, and with all things, he had come to care less about something as the appearance of his home. Although it did remain pristine and clean (mainly thanks to Erys and the workers), he had not personally updated the place. It has actually been about a year or so since he last visited the Kuragari estate. Perhaps he would do so once the ordeal with the hunters and the council was concluded and fixed. He flipped the next page, a silent sigh escaping him in the process. It wouldn't be an easy process to do, but Jasper and himself needed to mend what is being broken if they wanted to retain the peace treaty.


Nikki found herself entering the wing of the house where the library was, a scent drifting out to meet her, one that was not Kisuke's. This surprised her slightly, because it wasn't Jasper, either. Still, there was no particular reason for her to enter, which she found herself doing. She was browsing the books when Vincent set the first one down and picked up another. She raised an eyebrow, watching him for a second before cracking a slight smile as she did so. "You know, you look exactly like Morgan does when he's got a lot on his mind. Perhaps we're not so distantly related as our bloodlines suggest."

Vincent was aware of who it was when she entered the room, her scent was distinctive that way, despite sharing similarities with Morgan's. Although there were a few exceptions to that, such as Ava and Erys. Both smelled different in a way that Vincent couldn't really discern, but he didn't concern himself with that thought. They were just scents, nothing more. Perhaps one of them was a bit more enticing than the other, but he was an old vampire who had years of restraint trained into him by his father. He glanced from his book when she approached, his crimson eyes glancing into her own gray ones. They reminded him of Jasper's for some odd reason. Setting the book down, he turned his full attention towards her, and frowned at the comment she made.

"You're brother and I have a lot to discuss," were the only words out of his mouth when she had spoken. In reality, it was true. he wanted to speak to the other vampire for a personal reason. "Tell me, are you still crying?" the question was forward and to the point, but there was a hidden message beneath it. He hadn't meant had she physically been crying as she had that night of the festival, but more so, was she still a broken soul. He wasn't overly concerned with her answer, if she chose to answer, but some part of him had to care. It was a part that only did so for his family.


Nikki considered how to answer, sitting down in the chair across from him. Memories flickered to life before her eyes before she spoke. "Some days are harder than others." She said slowly, twisting the ring around her finger. "It helps to know that Morgan doesn't hate me for what I did to him. There's a part of me that will never heal after what happened. But knowing that will not bring them back, I know that." She considered his other statement, frowning slightly "And what, pray tell, would you have to discuss with my brother?" She was curious, because she knew how her brother could be. He had a tendency to step on people's toes, to say the least.

He listened intently to every word she spoke. Part of him was a bit glad that she was handling things a bit better, and if anything, it would prove to strengthen her in the long run. Even if she believes she wouldn't heal from some things, that in itself was a step towards this metaphorical healing of hers. He glanced at the ring that she played with and tilted his head slightly in curiosity, however; he made no show of his interest and instead chose to focus on the question she had asked. He scoffed silently, just the shrug of his shoulders signaling that the scoff had even made itself known.

"His face connected with my sister's. She is my fiance, however," he paused, glancing at Nikki through the corner of his eye. "It may appear that this engagement may have to be called off. Just know that your brother is lucky that he is currently my sister's affection. If he were not, he would cease to exist," was his curt reply, stating it as casually and freely as if it were just a normal conversation. Which was true. He loved his sister as much as he could as a brother. He would do anything to ensure her happiness, and if she was finding it in the Alistair vampire, then he would not intervene.


Nikki's head tilted in curiosity, and she seemed confused. "Their faces..." She stopped talking and her eyes went wide as she understood what he meant. "Oh dear..." She said softly. She actually blushed, and for a few seconds she could do nothing but sit there. She covered her eyes in an effort to regain her composure, which was proving more difficult than she imagined. Finally, when her tongue began to work again, she sighed. "I'm afraid I may have to apologize for that incident. I asked Erys to speak to Morgan. I certainly wasn't expecting that particular turn of events. It does beg the question of how it came about, though. Morgan may be rash but he's not..." She wasn't quite sure how to explain it. "Morgan makes his living by turning up the skeletons in people's closets. He's not one for outward display of emotion. That is, I don't mean to suggest that Erys is...oh I give up. I'm going to stop talking before I make this situation worse." She groaned softly. She really was not a people person.

Vincent raised an amused eyebrow at the reaction Nikki gave. It elicited a small chuckle from him in the process as she began to apologize on Morgan's behalf. What interested him though was the fact that his sister had actually willingly helped out this girl. He shook his head as she stopped her rambling. If anything, she had actually helped her brother out of a situation. If that were the case, then it would have been Erys, not Morgan, who initiated that kiss. He shook his head with a soft smile as he returned his gaze back to Nikki.

"Then your brother has nothing to fear from me," he finally replied as he stood from his chair. He made his way towards the door, but stopped to glance over his shoulder, something flashing behind his crimson gaze. "Your brother and I still have to discuss the situation. Erys is my sister. You and he may be my cousins, however; not just anyone can be matched with her. I am sure your brother feels the same way about you and the von Nacht," he stated, a small smile covering his lips in understanding as he exited the room.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK



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For the majority of the holiday thus far, Jasper had chosen to give Morgan space, knowing full well that he was in the unenviable position of being in troubled waters with his cousin. He did not, of course, desire it so, but he could understand it. Even so, he did hold out some hope that they would be able to reconcile. He wanted to—he valued Morgan as he would his own brother, when it came down to it. Jasper had never had true siblings; his mother and father had either lacked the desire or the capability for further children after his birth. As such, he’d always been especially close to his cousins, and, in their absence, to Ava. A permanently-broken connection of this kind would be deeply heartbreaking for him, and he did not mind that others should know this. There were times when concealing how one felt was called for, but when it came to family, hiding was only weakness.

So he’d tracked his cousin’s smell to the roof of the house, which the three of them (and probably Ava, too), knew was accessible from the attic. They had spent quite a bit of time up there as children, and Jasper had taught them to name the stars and constellations. Underneath one of his arms was tucked a folded chessboard of mahogany, and the polished pieces dangled from one finger in a velvet bag.

It wasn’t necessary to announce his presence; he’d made no effort to conceal himself, and Morgan was extraordinarily observant. Rather, Jazz picked his way to one of the flat sections of the palatial roof, near to where his cousin stood, and unfolded the board quietly, setting the pieces out. Morgan, he recalled, preferred to play black, so Jasper took white for himself, settling crosslegged on the roof tiles and casting his eyes momentarily upwards to the bright smattering of cosmic bodies visible overhead. Orion was directly overhead at present, it seemed. The Hunter—perhaps fitting, given their present predicament.


To say that Morgan was surprised to find his cousin had sought him out would have been a lie. Morgan was not surprised in the slightest, if he was being truthful. He actually had expected it sooner, but Jasper was never one to be rushed. Morgan was not exactly angry with his cousin. On the contrary, he had found himself missing his company. But there was no denying the strain that Nikki's reappearance had put on their relationship. He stayed silent as Jasper began setting up the board, and when he had finished, he sat down across from him. A small smile plauged him, twisting the ring on his finger, the other one noticeblly missing.

"Well this is a bit unexpected. We haven't played in a long time."


Jasper glanced over at his cousin, smiling wanly and inclining his head in acknowledgement. “No,” he admitted softly, taking his first move with the en passent rule, “We have not.” He waited until the game was several more moves in before he said anything else, however, allowing things to find a natural rhythm and pace. They weren’t exactly the kind of people who could just come right out and say what needed to be said—as the game itself would attest, both of them were thinkers, strategists, and furthermore, both were concerned very much about the welfare of the other. That made them careful, cautious, and the very opposite of impulsive, most of the time.

“Perhaps,” Jasper said, knowingly taking Morgan’s bait and removing his bishop with a rook, “That is mostly my fault. I confess that until recently, the Council consumed more of my attention than I would have liked. I suspect that soon, it will be shown for naught… I will lose my seat, and Vincent his, and this war will begin in earnest.” It was a troubling thought, but he knew with the certainty of reflection and his understanding of his grandfather that it was both inevitable and immanent.

After a few more minutes, he continued, just as quietly. “I want you to know that I truly am sorry for keeping her identity from you. I had intended to convince her to tell you herself, but she was adamant that doing otherwise was protecting you. I am unsure that she was wrong, but if you were like me in this, you would rather know and be in danger…” A small smile cracked his visage, fraternal and a bit melancholy, but surprising enough for being a genuine emotion on a face so used to hiding such expressions. Not in front of family—his mother had been adamant on this matter.


Morgan had remained silent as the two of them played, and even as Jasper spoke. He allowed his cousin to finish before replying. "Considering what I'm beginning to suspect what our Grandfather wants her for, I wouldn't be very surprised if it is a danger, knowing she's alive. But yes, I am very much like you. I would rather know and be in danger and be able to protect her than be left in the dark. Still, if anything, you are a man of your word. I'd rather see you respect her and keep your word to her then break it only for my sake. I myself am a man of secrets."

The game continued at a rather even pace, neither of them really gaining much of an advantage over the other. That was the way it had always been between them. "You did what you thought you had to, I understand that. If the roles were reversed, I would have done the same thing in your shoes."

The game then continued in relative silence, a peace settling over the two of them. Still, there was something Morgan needed to discuss with Jasper, and now was the only time that he could do it without being overheard by the subject of the conversation. "I've taken the liberty of digging around, trying to find out about Nikki's mercenary friend. It was not easy in the slightest. Up until he began his contract with my mother, the man is a ghost. No history, at all. Virtually, that's usually impossible. Unless you have someone very powerful helping you to do it. I can't even find a family line for him. And get this." He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. It was a list of phone records.

"I ran the numbers, and he's been in contact with a one Trevor Edyta. Edyta is a higher end Noble, who also has made his alliance to Theodor quite well known. The man is also obsessed with genetics, blood lines, and breeding. Kisuke's been working for him. It would appear that he's somehow trying to artificially create a Pure-Blooded vampire, or something very close to it."


Several things clicked together in Jasper’s mind, and he did not like the conclusion they were leading him to. Not even slightly. “Morgan,” he said, his tone slightly more urgent than it had been before, hoping to draw his cousin’s attention. “He was researching bloodlines in the library earlier today… and mentioned that he has been raising a child for the last twenty years. You do not suppose…” he trailed off, well aware of what the conclusion must be. In fact, there was even more to it than that—but this was less certain.

“This is simply speculation, but… those twenty years occurred immediately after he and Nikki parted ways. I do not think he would have mentioned these things to me if he did not mean to implicate something by them.” As ever, however, Jasper was not sure why he was the one that should be baited with this kind of information. Surely Morgan himself would have been the more likely target? Whatever the case, this was all coming together in a way that he did not appreciate, and his jaw tightened with his displeasure. He may have reserved judgement on Kisuke before, but he would not be able to do so forever, and it was not turning out in a very favorable fashion for the Noble. Not at all.


Morgan's eyes widened slightly. Surely Jasper was not indicating what he thought he was. His brows furrowed as he found himself lost in thought. He had been researching bloodlines, and he said he had been raising a child. Twenty years, immediately after leaving Nikki. He'd been in contact with Edyta for well over two centuries by now. Artificially trying to recreate the Pure Blood's bloodlines--

Morgan's eyes darkened. "It's my mother. Nikki and Naya had the direct link to her, it's always been that way. Females to females and males to males. Out of the three of them, Nikki was the only one who survived. He tried to acess our mother's bloodline through Nikki. If that is what really happened, the child would be around twenty by now. And if he truly is the experimentor he prides himself to be..."

He bared his teeth. "That does not explain why Nikki would remain silent about something like that. Unless she had no knowledge of it." He bit down on his lip, one of the black Knights exploding. The thought of that man touching his sister in any way had his anger very near the boiling point, even moreso if he had wiped her memory of it afterward. "I need to know exactly what he did, and what he plans to do. I will not fail to protect her a second time."


Jasper had been about to checkmate his cousin when the knight exploded, but honestly, it was pretty obvious that the game didn’t matter to either of them any longer. Frowning, he sighed quietly and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “Something tells me that we do not have long to wait,” he pointed out practically. “I doubt he would have been so heavyhanded in his allusions if he did not mean to provide proof in short order. I suspect that we will all be meeting this child, and soon.” It was not encouraging news, all things considered—especially considering their hypothesis that Nikki did not know what she was about to encounter.

“Nor shall I,” he said, adding his promise to his cousin’s. This was simply what family did for one another.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

Earnings

0.00 INK

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Flat silver eyes scanned the parchment with something between derision and admiration. He’d never been able to get the Council to make a decision this quickly, let a lone as momentous a decision as the expulsion of its current leader, and one of its oldest and most respected members. Well… he assumed Vincent had been thrown out as well, but perhaps that would need to be confirmed. Sighing through his nose (he seemed to have been doing a lot of that lately), he threw the letter into the fore and let it burn. He’d seen this coming the moment he stepped forward to defend his cousin against Theodor’s attempt to take her life in some misaimed attempt at false justice. He did not regret it then, he would not regret it now.

Traversing through the halls, he found Vincent in one of the side studies, which was a bit surprising, as the man had been spending most of his time either in the vicinity of the kitchen or the library most of the visit. Jasper knew this because he also spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen, though he tended to prefer the music room over the library on most occasions. Noting that his friend was also holding an official-looking piece of parchment, he shook his head minutely, leaning back against the door frame and crossing his arms over his chest. “I’d hoped they would have spared you, at least. But I think they know us both too well for that.” Or, more accurately, his grandfather knew them too well. There was no doubt that the ancestral vampire had gone out of his way to learn everything there was to know about all of Jasper’s associates, especially the ones with power in their own right like Vincent.

“The war is inevitable, now.” He imagined that the few allies they’d had had either turned allegiances or else been forced out in a similar way, leaving the Council composed entirely of men and women willing to bend at the knee to Theodor von Nacht, as dangerous as that was. It was even more dangerous to stand against him—people were safest when they weren’t important enough for him to notice. Thanks to their involvement with him, none of his friends or associates ever would be, and part of Jasper felt guilty for that. But he would not allow himself to bear the burdens of his grandfather’s crimes. “What will you do?”

Vincent stared at the letter in his hand. He had returned to his room after speaking with Nikki, however; he never made it quite there. Instead, his legs had carried him towards one of the many studies in the von Nacht manor. It was there one of the servants had brought him a letter, something that caused the brightness of his eyes to dim darkly. So, it's come to that has it? He took the letter, opening it and read the contents carefully. Interesting, they think this will have any affect on him and his current stand on what is going on around them? He scoffed as the familiar presence of Jasper appeared. He turned to spot his friend standing not more than a few feet away and contemplated his question.

"They spare no one," was the only reply he gave, crumbling the letter in his hand in the process. He tossed it into one of the bins and stared at Jasper. "A war is inevitable, but," he paused, taking a deep breath in the process. "I will do as I always have," he finally stated. But even then, he didn't know quite exactly what that was. His main priority had always been either the council, or his family (in this case his sister). He could survive without the council, however; this war, Jasper was right. It was inevitable now that the von Nacht leader was back in control.

"If it comes to us, we will fight it. For now, we must take care of matters that require our attention," he stated as he glanced out the window of the study. "What exactly is it that drove your grandfather to resurface? He does nothing without reason," he questioned, although he doubted his friend could give him a direct answer. But the question was partially true. Theodor had remained off of the council for years, why suddenly gain an interest in returning? It made no sense, and Vincent wasn't one to like being confused about such things.

It was a question that demanded an answer, though Jasper wasn’t sure he had one. To be honest, he knew little of his grandfather’s motives, only his character, and that alone was not encouraging news. Even so, he could venture a hypothesis. “The only thing that man ever seeks is power and dominion over others,” he said flatly, his displeasure poignantly clear. “If he moves now, it is because something has come to fruition that will be to his advantage, and he has deemed it time to step in personally.” As to what that something was, he could not say, except…

“The reason Nikki was targeted was something she overheard. Apparently, someone needed to be convinced of something for one of Theodor’s plans to work. I suspect he must be convinced now. Whatever the case, now that he has acted, he will not stop until he has everything that can be possessed.” He shook his head—whatever was going to happen, it was almost certain that the war was only a means to the final end. The final end was probably complete rulership of the vampires and humans, as the Progenitor had had once upon a time. But as for how one was to link to the other… that was harder to see.

“I don’t think this will stay off our doorsteps for long,” he pointed out. People like the two of them could prove to be either great allies or great obstacles, and by throwing them off the Council, Theodor had acknowledged that he knew which they were going to be. It would only make sense to come after the two pure-bloods most willing and able to oppose him. The questions were only how and when. “I… will do what I can for yours. If possible, I would ask you the favor of doing the same for mine.” It was true enough—if they were to both be against a power like his grandfather’s, they would need to be supporting each other as much as possible. Jasper was not oblivious to the fact that some of those he held most dear were especially vulnerable to the kinds of things Theodor and the man’s agents were capable of doing.

Vincent could only agree with what Jasper spoke. Theodor was a man who sought power. How his father ever tolerated the von Nacht was a mystery to Vincent, however; he never doubted that his father wasn't trusting of the von Nacht pure-blood. And for good reason apparently. Jasper was correct about one thing though, whatever the older von Nacht was planning, it wouldn't stay away from either family. He would go after the both of them, and that was something Vincent was counting on. He nodded in Jasper's direction. It would be best if the both of them were together rather than apart. At least then they could properly protect their families.

"There is no need to ask for favors, Jasper. You are as much family to us as Erys is my sister. The same courtesy extends to those cousins of ours. So long as they remain with us, they are protected," he stated. "We would do well to keep them all close. Theodor will act soon. Your grandfather was never one to be patient when he wanted something," he concluded. That was the type of person Theodor was, or at least from what he has deduced of the male and from what his father had told him.

Jasper nodded silently, relieved to hear it. He’d always considered those two family of his, and not only for their distant relation to him. It was good to know that the feeling was returned. He had the feeling that the bonds between them were all that would save them, in the end. If they were saved at all. Opposing his grandfather was not known to end very well, for anyone. But if there was a group of people left in the world that could do it, he firmly believed that it was this one. He felt compelled to say one last thing, though, even if it came out a bit more haltingly than he’d intended.

“It’s impossible to predict what will come of all this,” he said solemnly, furrowing his brows and searching for the right words, “But… if something happens to me… please take care of Ava. The others are vampires, and in the end, they know how to fend for themselves, even when things are difficult. But she… I don't think she could intentionally hurt anyone, even if they meant to kill her.” It was one of the reasons he took such comfort in her presence. She was also more vulnerable than the rest of them, not only for her humanity, but for the strange allure of her scent.

"You are correct. There is no foreseeable future. Should something befall you, Ava will be safe with us. Erys enjoys the girl a bit much, and," he paused in that statement. While it was true, his sister was fond of the girl, he too had grown fond of her over the last week. It was the reason why he visited the kitchen so often not only for her baking, but because of who she was and the ability she had to brighten anything. "I will admit, I can see why you keep her around," he finished, leaving the room in the process. There was much to be thought over, and time was something, even to someone like he, they did not have the luxury of.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

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Nikki sighed, setting her book down. Morgan was pacing in front of her, and it was beginning to drive her up the wall. "Honestly, Morgan, would you stop? Just go talk to Vincent, you know it has to happen eventually." Her brother glared at her slightly. "I'd rather not spend the day before Christmas with my head torn from my shoulders, thank you. Besides, I know exactly what he wants to talk to me about, and I'd rather avoid that conversation for as long as possible. Would you like me to talk to Jazz?"

Nikki glared daggars at him. "That is not the same thing and you know it. Vincent is already looking for you, and he is not going to kill you." She snapped her book closed, and left the room with a huff. She paused in the library door, seeing Vincent in the same place he'd been a few days ago when she'd spoken to him. A small smile played across her face, and she returned the book to the shelf, taking down the one beside it. "Morgan is upstairs, I suggest you corner him before he runs again. You need to talk to him so he'll stop bothering me." She said this, and then exited, making her way to one of the other studies.


Vincent had spent most of his days in the library, reading what he could to pass the time. He had been searching for Morgan the past few days, but the elusive informant always managed to escape him. He had grown weary of the hide-and-seek game and had resorted to just waiting him out. He of course, used the time to begin reading up on some old research papers, some that he found quite odd and others a bit fascinating. They were not much, but still they had some sort of interest to him. He was brought from his stupor by the sound of Nikki's voice. He blinked slowly as the information processed. Nodding his head, he set the book down upon the shelf and made his way out of the door. Following her advice, Vincent soon found himself in the room where Morgan currently was, pacing still in his spot.

"Alistair," Vincent spoke, trying to get Morgan's attention. Once he had it, he continued. "I believe you and I have a discussion to make," he stated each word carefully. It was stated in a rather light tone, one that did not promise anything and held no ill-intentions towards the boy. There was a hint of something, however; with his monotonous tone, it was hard to tell what exactly it was. He gestured for Morgan to take a seat in one of the chairs in the room they were in, and took the one opposite of him. He sat, a calm appearance to his face as he took a slow breath.

"What exactly are your intentions?" he stated, the question coming out more of a demand than anything. Vincent did not mean anything by it, and only meant it as a question, however; his crimson eyes gleamed a little brighter than normal as he stared at his cousin.


Morgan sighed through his nose, listening as Vincent spoke. He really did not want to discuss anything with his cousin, let alone his intentions. Still, being an older brother himself, he could understand Vincent's position. Though he couldn't claim it all, he was not engaged to his sister. He placed his hands in front of his face as he regarded Vincent, but took his time in answering. He wasn't sure he liked the gleam in the man's eyes, however; he did provide the Pure Blood with an answer. Or a question, rather. "I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific. I have many intentions, the least of which would be surviving in order to protect my sister. Can I ask you to elaborate on that question?"

"You are aware that Erys is my intended, yes?" he retorted, speaking a bit slower than usual as he conveyed the message."However, I know she is quite fond of you, and you of her. Or am I wrong to assume that?" he replied, raising his eyebrow ever so delicately. He will give Morgan credit for remaining calm in a situation such as this, but Vincent was no fool. He could sense the reluctancy from Morgan to be in his presence, and Vincent couldn't blame the boy. This was, after all, a very delicate matter. At least to Vincent it was.

"The question remains, what are your intentions with my sister?" this time he clarified, leaning back in the chair in a relaxed position. Although Morgan wouldn't be able to notice it, there was a faint smirk crossing the thin lines of his lips. Vincent was amused at how he tried to deflect the question by asking his own, but the pure-blood would not budge from his spot. Morgan had to be assessed. If he chose his words carefully, Vincent might approve, but there was still a great chance he would disapprove, no matter how fond of Morgan Erys might have seemed. Vincent would not give his blessings to just anyone.


Morgan sighed tiredly. "Yes, I am quite aware of the situation between yourself and your sister. And no, you are not wrong to assume that, it is rather spot on, I would say." He paused, his eyes flickering to the window, where snow could be seen falling delicately, much like the night he and Erys had been outside. He then refocused his attention on the main question at hand. Frankly, he had spent so much time in the past, his mind absorbed with thoughts of his long-thought-dead sister, that he truly had not given the matter a thought at all. "Intentions would mean that the matter was premeditated, however, what had happened between myself and Erys is and was anything but. That being said, as we stand now, I have no intentions. Should she wish to persue the matter of feelings further, then so be it, that bridge will be crossed when we come to it."

"But at the moment, no such matters have come up between us. If she wishes to simply leave the situation where it is, then that is where it will stay. I have found my hands full delving into other matters concerning my sister and a certain mercenary, as it were."
All of this was completely true. If Erys felt the need to pursue what seemed to be growing between them, then he would have no problem in joining her in that search. But unless she expressed her interest, he would leave it be. Matters such as love or marriage had been ones Morgan had let go of long ago once his family was gone.


Vincent cocked an amused eyebrow at Morgan's choice of words. So, he thought nothing more of it and was leaving it up to Erys to determine whether or not something would be pursued or not. How mundane. Still, he had to commend the boy. He sighed closing his eyes in the process. His mind was processing everything that Morgan had just stated. He stated that he had his hands full with his own sister and apparently the mercenary that had conveniently showed up during the attempt on the Headmaster's life. Vincent couldn't say for sure if he trusted the white-haired vampire, but he had no connection to the vampire and therefore had no need to interact with him. He was a friend to Nikki, that was all.

"Then, she shall remain my intended. Erys will not openly seek something out, even if she is fond of it. She will let it escape her if it came down to it. If this is truly what you speak, then I will not give you my blessings, nor my permission to pursue anything further with her. Should you try," he paused, his eyes flashing a brighter crimson before returning to a normal shade. He folded his hands beneath his gaze and stared intently at Morgan. "Not even her being fond of you will save you, however," he paused once more, leaning back with a small smile on his face. Though he meant every word he spoke, Vincent wasn't going to deny his sister what she wanted. Being fond of something, let alone someone, was one thing to Erys. She couldn't decipher the difference of actually loving something from being fond of it.

It was the reason why she remained naive in that sense. "If your intentions change, I may be willing to listen. Until then," he stated as he stood from his chair, his eyes locked on Morgan's form. "Sort out what is most important to you and solve them. Perhaps, if you were to share some of that burden with someone else, it might be easier for you. I will not tell you how to live your life Alistair, but you should do well to remember that there are others nearby who are willing to help," he finished as he exited the room.


Morgan sighed as Vincent left the room. Perhaps nothing would come of what had happened beneath the tree, and Morgan was fine with leaving it at that. At least, that was what he told himself. He had lost his family once, so he had always kept everyone, even Jasper, at arms length so that he didn't have to go through the pain of losing them. Now he had a second chance with his sister, but he would never wish that upon Erys. Not with his grandfather breathing down their necks. No, he's rather keep her at that safe distance and not have to worry about falling in love with her, only to have her ripped from him. She was safer with Vincent anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht

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Erys found herself occupying an empty part of the von Nacht estate. The last few days saw an increase in the odd behavior of Heinrich von Nacht, and to say Erys was not disturbed by it would have been improper. Usually, she would be fine and think nothing of it, however; there was always a sense of longing behind those eyes of his that Erys couldn't help but be extremely wary of the male. She had tried avoiding him, but it seemed that no matter where she hid, he would always be there. So, she resorted to staying in either her own room, Vincent's, or occasionally with Ava, using the excuse that they hardly did anything together. That, however, was not the case now. Ava had left to do something, and Vincent was no where in sight. She wasn't going to bother Jasper or Morgan about it either, so she found herself outside on one of the many patio's, the snow falling around her as she leaned on the railing.

Though it was not often than the entire group spent time together, it did happen with some regularity, and Jasper had noted that his father seemed to be making Erys uncomfortable. There was a rational-enough explanation for this fact, and it was one he felt he owed to her. It would involve going into more family history than he generally liked divulging, but she was family, too, after a fashion, and that meant that he needed to provide it, for her peace of mind if nothing else. He’d just come from talking to his father about the matter, and the man had asked him to pass on a message as well.

He tracked her to a patio, and paused for a moment before stepping forward to lean on the railing beside her, looking out at the scenery as she did. He had to admit, the von Nachts had been able to come by a truly beautiful piece of land. His grandfather retained the main house and most of the other properties, but this was his father’s home. Jasper owned a few of his own, but this was the house he’d grown up in—the house that Nikki and Morgan and Naya had so often visited as well. It could be nothing other than his favorite, considering, but even if that had not been the case, the grounds alone would have been much to recommend it. Coated in falling snow, the landscape was truly lovely.

But it was not what he was here to see. “My father wants to apologize to you,” he said without preamble, choosing directness as his approach to this. “But… it would be beyond his current capability to adequately explain what’s going on, and so the task falls to me.” He paused for a moment, looking down at his hands, clasped loosely in front of him, his elbows propped on the railing. How did one explain seven centuries of heartache? As far as most people knew, he was only three hundred. He’d never understood why his father had insisted on lying about that for the purposes of the school records, but he had. Nobody else had ever asked.

“…You look like my mother,” he said quietly, with measured pacing to his words. His instinct was to avoid the conversation, because it took his memory to uncomfortable places, made him think of things he could do without remembering. But, he needed to tell her this. “So much so that it’s actually a little jarring, even for me. Or rather, it was before I got to know you, to understand the ways in which you are very different people. My father has not yet had that chance, and… he mourns her still, perhaps more than a man with seven hundred years between himself and her death still should.” He smiled sadly, looking out at the falling snow. He still mourned her, too, but not to the extent that his father did. It was the reason Jasper had been the Councilor in the family, and not Heinrich. He’d been managing their affairs, their estates, and their accounts for all that time, much sooner than most dynastic sons ever had to take up such duties. His father simply… could not.

She was content to watch the snow by herself, more-so until Jasper appeared. She glanced at him through the corner of her eyes before fixing her gaze back out into the open. It was quiet between the two of them for a moment, at least, until he spoke. She refrained from scoffing at his first statement. His father wanted to apologize. After a few days (or was it a week) of awkward meals, conversations, he wanted to apologize now? Erys turned to fully face Jasper when he continued. It was then that she finally understood, but that had a strange affect on her. She had been told before that she looked like the ancestral vampire, but never someone's mother. Could they have been the same person? It didn't seem right if that were the case. She sighed softly as she let her hands dangle loosely in front of her.

"That...is interesting," she finally stated, pushing herself from the rail before turning around so that her back was now leaning on it. "It still doesn't excuse him for his actions. Though I do understand he is in mourning. My own father, though he spoke nothing of it, mourned my mother. I didn't know my mother, Vincent told me she died giving birth to me," she stated, a careless shrug of her shoulders in the process. "Seven centuries is a long time to mourn someone. Letting go of a precious memory is hard to do," she stated, tilting her head backwards so she could see the night sky. The snow was still falling, a bit slower perhaps now, but she relished the feeling of the snowflakes falling onto the tip of her nose.

"Well, it's nice to know what you thought of me, von Nacht," she chided in a teasing manner before shaking her head. "If my resemblance to your mother is a problem, perhaps it is best if I stayed away for a bit. You and Vincent have enough to worry about," she mused softly more to herself. Though it wasn't troubling to her, if it inconvenienced either von Nachts, to have such a memory brought up every time they saw her, perhaps this was not the best time to be doing so. With everything that has been happening, the last thing she needs is to inconvenience someone with whom she resembles.

Perhaps surprisingly, Jasper actually chuckled slightly at her joke, but he sobered and shook his head thereafter. “That’s not necessary,” he said quickly, but the pace of his words regained moderation immediately following this. “It’s as I said—I have learned quite well that you are very different form her in many ways, and I no longer feel troubled in any way by the resemblance. My father… he’s not exactly well, if you take my meaning. He did not realize what he was doing until I told him. He has agreed to stay apart from the rest of us for a while, and to make sure that the next time he joins us, it will not be a problem. You are our guest; we could never ask you to sacrifice your freedoms as such.” His tone indicated that he would not be persuaded otherwise on this, but it was in no way harsh.

“It actually makes a bit of sense: my mother’s sister was one of your ancestors, so you share in her blood. There are quite a few generations between, though.” He fell silent then, out of respect for what she had told him of her own mother, and also because he felt there was not much else to say. If she had questions, he would willingly answer them, but otherwise, he felt no particular need to fill the quiet with the sound of his voice. Unlike some, he was not overly enamored of the sound of his own, and didn’t see the point in wasting words that were neither needed nor asked for.

"Now I see why you and Vinny get a long so well," she retorted, a light chuckle escaping her lips. "If that is the case, then I will do my best to be a more humble guest. I suppose it is only fair that if your father is going to do that, then I shall be more...accepting, of his condition," she stated, shaking her head in the process. Perhaps not the right choice of words to use, but nonetheless they conveyed what she was trying to say. If his father was willing to stay away for a bit, then she could be more hospital towards the man who was sharing his home with them. She sighed softly when he mentioned that his mother's sister was actually one of her ancestors. She rose a curious brow to that. She wasn't one to research her family's history. All of that had been left to Vincent, so it was a bit surprising (perhaps not) that that was the case.

"If that is what makes sense to you, then I will not say anything further on the matter. I suppose this is the part where I am supposed to thank you for clarifying this mess up?" she stated in a light manner, shrugging her shoulders with a tilt of her head. "But I'll thank you for something else. I'll thank you for being a good friend to Vincent. He doesn't have very many, or any at all really," she stated, allowing the rest to be filled by the silence. She had a few questions running through her mind, however; now was perhaps not the best time to ask them. They were small, perhaps one was a favor, but they were not so immediate that she'd ask them right away. She would keep them for another time.

He couldn’t keep the smile off of his face at that—she really was something else, wasn’t she? “Then I, in turn, shall thank you for being so good to Ava. She quite admires you, Erys. It does not seem that her confidence is misplaced.” He nodded just once, then pushed back from the railing and headed back inside, leaving her to resume watching the snow in peace.

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"No one will stand in my way in this. The only way that will happen is if I am dead."



It was now the night before the group was supposed to leave to return to the Academy. Christmas had been a complete success in many ways, and it was the same for Kisuke, though it was not openly apparent. However, there was a small nick in his plans. He was originally simly going to lure Nikki away, it wouldn't have been hard at all for him. But that brother of hers, he was smarter than Kisuke had given him credit for. Though, while the boy knew too much, he also posed an interesting subject for study. His serum was ready for another test run, and he was the son of a Pure Blood, just as Nikki was the daughter.

That in mind, Kisuke stood over the male Alistair, who was sleeping. He was well awarethat the boy would probably wake up, which was why he wasted no time in injecting him with the serum, to which Morgan did wake up. Kisuke waited patiently with a hand over his mouth, and within seconds the serum fell into effect, and the boy lost conciousness.

There was a second reason for Kisuke's actions. That was because of Morgan's long range ability to charge things with kinetic energy and then cause them to explode. It was one of the few things that could prove hazardous to Kisuke, as it still effected him, even when he was using his own ability. So, in order to go along with what he had planned, Morgan needed to be out of the way. With this, he would be.



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"What is happening to me?"



The only thing Morgan had been aware of was a presence that did not belong to someone he wanted it to, and then he felt the hand over his mouth, and a sharp pain in his neck. After that, he lost conciousness, but not entirely. It was more as if he was outside of his body, yet still connected to it. He was in a room, somewhere dark. Fire burned through his viens, destroying him form the inside out. It was excurciating, this pain. There were times that he simply wanted to die, so that he didn't have to feel it any longer.

There were times when he could see blearily, and he would occasionally see a shock of white hair, a red eye, a yellow eye. At first, all he connected them with was Kisuke, but then he got glimpses of a female. A part of him didn't understand what he was seeing. This girl would come up to him, staring blankly. She never spoke to him, not even when he was screaming in pain.



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"I don't like it when Father does this. But there is nothing I can do to stop it. It would be unwise to anger him so."



Yuki had glanced up from her chess board when Kisuke had entered her small room, but had made no movement towards him, or any sort of showing that she was happy to se him. He was carrying something heavy, and after a few glances, Yuki surmised that it was a person. He was male, with dark hair and red eyes, and he smelled of vampire. There was also an underlying scent of something rancid, and it was then that Yuri understood that he was her father's next intended bject for the test of his serum. She showed little interest in it, and truly, she wasn't interested. More than likely, the male would die, like all the others had before him

After about three hours of chess and crossing the room to peer at the subject, she finally looked at Kisuke. It is time yet, Father?

Kisuke's eyes flickered to her. "Soon, Yuki. Very soon."



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"Something is very wrong."



Itill in the late hours of the day, the sun had yet to set, when Nikki sat bolt upright in her bed. She was...uneasy, and she didnt know why. She closed her eyes, focusing on the heartbeats and bring of the others in the house. As far as she could tell, everyone was still asleep.

Her eyes snapped open. Not including her own, there should have been seven other pairs of heartbeats and breathing. She could five. She focused again, pinpointing who was who. Jasper, Ava, Vincent, and Erys were on the second floor, all where accounted for. So was her uncle, Heinrich. He was awake, it appeared, but that was not her concern. She then focused on her own floor. Her eyes snapped open again, a cold sweat running down the back of her neck.

Morgan and Kisuke were not there. She couldn't sense them anywhere in the mansion, nor on the grounds. She slipped out of bed, and quickly changed, grabbing her sword in the process. She silently corssed the hall to her broters' room, and entered without hesitation the minuet she saw it wasn't fully closed. The mix of Morgan's and Kisuke's scents was overpowering, along with something else that she couldn't explain.

She took a sweeping glance around the room, her sharp eyes noticing something halfway under the bed. She knelt down and picked up a syringe, a rancid smell eminating from it. This was the underlying smell she couldn't place before. Her lips pulled back in a silent snarl as she smelled Morgan's blood on the needle. What the hell have you done, Kisuke?

She didn't waste any more time, and she quickly left the room. She exited the mansion via the front door, wincing in the mild sunlight of the late evening, but she only paused to get her bearings. She had to find her brother. Kisuke had some answers to give her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Kisuke Sou

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“This will not stand. I’ve no love of violence, but I will do all I can to protect them.”


Ava was usually the first person up on any given morning or night—she was very used to keeping odd hours by now, and tended to have so much energy that she hated the idea of wasting any of it sleeping. The first thing she did that morning was cook up an omelette, because she’d somehow managed to make a bet with Morgan that she could make the most delicious one he’d ever tasted, and a challenge it had become. She planned to make enough for everyone, of course, but she wanted him to try it first, just so he’d have no choice but to admit that hers was the most delicious omelette, hands down.

But when the appointed time rolled around, he hadn’t shown up, and she knew him for a man who kept his appointments. “Did he sleep in? That’d be weird…” She muttered to herself, and decided that she might as well go see. If he was late out of bed and she won the bet, that would be almost twice as good, or something. She knocked on his door, but after he didn’t respond, she shouted that she was coming in, and opened the door, which was slightly ajar anyway, also somewhat weird.

“Morgan?” she called, but there was still no response. His bed was unmade, and it looked like someone had been thrashing around. For a moment, she entertained the thought that there might have been two someones and that ‘thrashing’ was the wrong word, but she dismissed it. His relationship with Erys hardly seemed to be at that stage, and he wouldn’t… yeah, no. Not with anyone else around here. Fighting down the blush that had come with the fleeting thought that she might be interrupting some kind of aftermath, she went ahead and checked the other rooms in his suite, and then the library, and then the roof, but he was nowhere at all to be found.

On a hunch, she went to Nikki’s room next, and she was also nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until she noticed that Kisuke was gone as well that she knew something had gone wrong, rather than just strange. She didn’t want to think so, but… what if the thrashing had been a struggle? She knew Jazz didn’t trust Kisuke at all, and while she wanted to believe the best of him, she wasn’t sure she could, given what she was seeing. Resolved, Ava ran straight to Jasper’s room and woke him as gently as she could—she knew he didn’t sleep much, which meant he slept like a log when he did. But this was important, and he’d never forgive her if she left him asleep when she even suspected that something bad might have happened to his cousins.

He snapped awake immediately, and after she explained everything, he backtracked her trail around the house, his nose telling him things that hers could not. By the end of it, he looked genuinely angry, his eyes clouded with a dark rage she’d never seen upon his face before. Even though it wasn’t directed at her, she still felt pressured by it, and her throat was threatening to close up from the sheer force of his aura. Noticing her discomfort, he made an apologetic expression and reined it in, telling her to go fetch the others. He was going to locate the trail.

Ava made it to Erys’s room first, telling her to arm herself for travel and battle and meet the rest of them out front—Morgan was missing. She was a little more leery of approaching a sleeping Vincent, but she knocked softly on his door anyway, relaying the message through it once she was certain he was awake. She also told Heinrich what they were doing, knowing that Jasper would most likely forget in his haste to be gone. As soon as they were all outside, her employer spoke in a steely tone.

“I believe we will find our quarry at the Alistair Estate.” He didn’t say how he knew that, but she supposed he must know the direction and the scent and maybe more about Kisuke than she did. She trusted him, either way. “It’s not far… for us.” He looked at Ava, and she shook her head, indicating her stubborn refusal to be left behind. Jasper did not bother arguing with her, instead holding his hands by his side in an unfamiliar way. “Climb on,” he told her, and she understood, hopping up onto his back. He gripped her just behind the knees to hold her in place, and she wound her arms around his neck. He was reassuringly solid in a situation that seemed anything but, and she allowed herself to relax slightly.

He turned to the other two. “Can you run? Time may be short.” Even as he said it, Ava felt the pit of her stomach drop out from underneath her as gravity around her immediately ceased, and Jasper started to float a few inches off the ground. Uh-oh. She’d seen him fly—it was even faster than he could run, which meant she was going to have to count on his mercy and need to not leave the others behind to keep her from reaching truly frightening speeds. As soon as everything was arranged, he was off like a bullet from the barrel of a gun, and she could only hold on for dear life as her hair whipped about in front of her face, stinging her cheeks with tiny whiplashes. It really could be fun—if she ignored the fact that even the slightest miscalculation would kill her. Still she trusted him, she always had.

They landed not long after in front of the Alistair Estate, and Ava slid to the ground, stumbling a bit, as her legs had become rather jellylike in the interim. “So, um… what now?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

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"To take what belongs to her is asking for a death sentence.




Erys' eyes immediately snapped open to the sound of Ava outside of her door. Within seconds, she was dressed, armed with Ulrik to her back, and standing outside of her door. Anger was not the proper aura radiating from her. Morgan was missing, and so was Kisuke. That much she had picked up on when the scents were both faint, and fading fast. She arrived moments after Jasper and Ava were present, and watched as Vincent appeared from the shadows. It was then that Jasper spoke, stating he knew where Morgan was. Vincent glanced at his friend, nodded in response before the older pure-blood took off, Ava attached to his back. He then glanced towards his sister, she nodding in understanding, and the two of them were off, not far behind Jasper.

Though Erys may not have been a pure-blood, her speed was just about as powerful as theirs was. She lacked in their strength, but her speed made up for it. As a result, she was right behind Vincent as they approached the Alistair compound. They made it in time to spot Ava sliding off of Jasper's back and stumbling a bit. Erys stood next to Ava, catching the girl a bit and leveling her so that she could regain her balance. Once she was able to, Erys moved away and glanced at Vincent and Jasper. Ava's question rang through her ears as she wondered the same thing. She, nor Vincent had never been to the Alistair estate, despite being distant cousins. It was something that neither really needed to do.

"Jasper, you are more familiar with this place," Vincent stated, indicating that everything as of now was relying on the older pure-blood. If they were going to have an advantage, it would have to be Jasper's knowledge of the place, regardless of how long it had been since he had been to the place. Erys merely nodded alongside her brother. Though in reality, Vincent could not have been bothered to come. The only reason why he was here was for the sake of his sister's attachment to the Alistair vampire. He knew that she would have gone after him regardless if the others came or not. He sighed through his nose softly. This was a headache that he did not need, however; he would tolerate it for the time being.

After all, Ava was here too alongside Jasper. He had to do something other than stay behind. Erys, however, was still seething. She didn't appreciate things that were hers being taken from her. This attachment to Morgan was more than she'd like to admit. She knew it was there, for a while now, however; she never acted upon it. She didn't have a need to, and she was admittedly a bit afraid of what Vincent would do. He had told her about the talk they had, and to say she was a bit disappointed in Morgan's choice of words, she was still willing to go after him. If he was still alive, she'd have to kill him herself and then perhaps speak with him about certain things. But right now, there were other matters that needed to be attended to.

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Nikki placed a hand over her eyes, a bitter laugh escaping her. She had known Kisuke for almost a century, yet in reality, she didn't know him at all. Upon her arrival at her old home, she had found him waiting for her, Morgan nowhere in sight. There was, however, another vampire with him, a young girl, with long white hair. While Nikki had never met her before, she coudln't shake the feeling that she knew her somehow.

And then Kisuke had spoken. He told her who the girl was, what he had done, and why he had done it. Nikki didn't belive him, she couldn't belive him. But at the same time, how could she not? It made sense, when you truly thought it through. She was missing parts of her memory, and this explained it. But to think that she actually had a child, and that he had kept that from her...

Well, it didn't sit very well with the Alistair Vampiress, not well at all. However, she chose to set the matter of Yuri aside for now. She locked her stone-grey eyes onto Kisuke. "Where is my brother, Kisuke?" There was a threatening tone to the question, but Kisuke only smirked.

"My dear Cherie, by the time you find him, it will be too late. He will either be a success, or he will die. You are here for one reason and one reason only." He held up a finger as he spoke. "I want to know which of the two of you is stronger, mother or daughter. If Yuki is the stronger, than my little task will be complete. She was created for one reason. Artifical creation of the Pure Blood lines. That is it. I will be the first to admit that I would not be the most suitible for the siring of such a child, yet I had little options. I had to work with what I was given--"

Nikki cut him off, drawing her sword. She had heard enough. Clearly, the man she had thought she had befriended years ago never even existed. And to think that he would expierment on his own child. She couldn't think about it, she didn't want to think about it. Nikki glanced at Yuki, the girl only standing there with a blank stare on her face as she continued to glance back and forth between her parents.

While Nikki could not say that she viewed her as a child, there was no denying the gutteral instinct she got to protect Yuki, something perhaps only a mother has. Yuki was her child. And Kisuke was by no means a father. Her eyes narrowed. This needed to end.


By the time the others had arrived, the fight had already drawn on too long. Ava's rather simple question was answered by Nikki falling from the roof above them, landing with a rather soft thump between Jasper and Vincent, only to get back up and jump, giving the others little more than a second glance. She was too angry to worry about the others right now, and frankly, she may not have even noticed they were there.

Kisuke was waiting for her, still standing from where he had thrown her, and as she attacked, he atomized, but this time not enough. She'd managed to cut him this time, on his forearm, and quite deeply, too. He smirked, he was getting faster. Yuri, on the other had, was still standing, watching the fight. She was well aware of the words the two ha exchanged, and seemed to be aware of the fact that Nikki was her mother. What she felt about any of it was quite uncertian; there was no emotion on her face to show the thoughts in her head.

Yuki did, however, acknowledge the presence of the other four who showed up. She looked slightly confused at that point, as her father had not said anything about others. Her yellow eyes looked them over, as they were not far from where she herself was standing, but then returned her attention to the fight, as Kisuke had pinned Nikki, the two of them now on the ground.
But something was different this time. Yuki recalled that Kisuke had said a fight was inevitable, but he wasn't going to hurt her. And by the sound Nikki had made -something between a whimper and a scream- he was hurting her. So why had Father lied to her?

Well, Yuki certianly wasn't one to just stand by and watch that. Raised for fighting as she had been, she didn't like death. And the look in Kisuke's eyes was one of just that: blood-lust. Yuki moved, her speed very close to that of a Pure Blood, and she created a telekinetic wall between Nikki and Kisuke, forcing the male to let go of her. A look of shock crossed the vampire's face as he took a few steps back. Yuki stood between them, her face still rather blank.

"Yuki, what are you doing?"

The girl made no verbal answer, but she did pick up her mother's sword. Nikki was staring at the back of the girl's head, as surpised as Kisuke was. To the surprise of everyone, Yuki did answer, just not in the way one would expect. Everyone in the vicinity heard her reply, a soft voice that flickered through all of their heads.

You said you wouldn't hurt her. You lied. I don't like liars. I don't like killing things either. But I will kill you if you don't stop.

Kisuke only laughed, and then he took a step. But that was as far as he got. For a second, his body glimmered, like it was suddenly very shiny, and he froze mid-step, a maniacle grin still plastered on his face. For a few seconds, nothing happened, and Yuki was only staring at him. And then, his body exploded. Blood splattered the snow around them, and Yuki herself, who then licked her hand, her expression never changing, acting like she didn't just kill her father. Soon after, the blood turned to dust, the only indication that a vampire had died.

For a second or two, Nikki could only sit there, shock marring her face. A part of her was relieved that at least it was over, the other didn't know what to do about Yuki, and the third didn't want to belive her friend was dead. If he had even been her friend. Somehow, she doubted he had, but a part of her still wanted to belive that somewhere he had been a good person.

She shook her head, glancing up at Yuki when the girl handed her back her sword. Nikki stood up, her wounds already healing. She still had not actually acknowledged the others, but at the moment, she still had one more thing to do.

"Yuki, do you know where Morgan is?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Kisuke Sou Character Portrait: Yuri Sou

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“What… what’s happened here?”


Ava smiled over at Erys when her friend steadied her, but the expression dropped away into one of horrified shock when Nikki landed in front of them, apparently injured and in the middle of a fight with… Kisuke? None of this really made any sense to the human girl, and matters were only further confused when a young girl appeared, in visual years perhaps a few younger than Ava, maybe fifteen or so. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean anything if she were a vampire, a possibility which seemed likely to Ava, given where she was and who she was with.

As she tended to when things were uncertain, the girl looked to Jasper for clues. Silver eyes, darkened to a deep obsidian, flickered over those present, and he seemed to understand much more than she did. Most people would not have been able to read his face, but she could, and despair and rage were written there in equal measure. He did not flinch when the girl’s voice sounded in their minds, but Ava did, yelping her surprise and rubbing at her ears. She’d never been spoken to directly by a telepath before. It was a somewhat common ability in vampires, but none of them usually used it casually, as it was considered rude. The sensation, or rather, the lack thereof, perplexed her.

That gave way shortly to horror, as the little girl apparently killed Kisuke, moving too fast for human eyes to track. She shook her head when he fell to the ground, entirely uncomprehending of the reasons for any of this. Death—why was there always so much death? She did not understand what drove people to kill one another; but then, she probably never would. That was just part of her makeup as a person. Regardless, the next question seemed to be the most salient one, and she latched onto that one. Finding Morgan—that was productive, and important, and they should definitely do it as soon as possible.

Jasper, still looking vaguely unhappy, answered the question before the girl—Yuki, apparently—could do so. “There is only one place in that house he could be,” he said neutrally, his monotone closed to interpretation even by Ava. Likely it was impossible for anyone to know what was going on in his head at the moment, but perhaps that was for the best. If she had to guess, she would suppose that they must be dark thoughts, indeed. “Follow me.”

He broke into a run, which, while slow enough for the non-pure-bloods to keep up, would obviously be too fast for Ava to match, and she sighed, sprinting after him anyway. She wasn’t a runner for nothing, and it wasn’t that far to the gates of the Estate proper. She was going to fall behind, of course, but she’d do her best not to lag too much. She was feeling keenly her own comparative uselessness right now, anyway—it wasn’t like there was anything she’d be able to do for Morgan, but she’d made up her mind to come here, and she wasn’t going to quit halfway through.

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Yuki nodded, but her attention was taken by Jasper, who had suddenly spoken and then taken off. Yuki let out a slight huff. You won't find him. The one you call Morgan is under the house, not in it. At that point, Yuki merely walked to the estate, her demeanor showing no desire to actually find him, but she did, however, open the hatch in the floor of the great room, revealing a staircase underneath.

This one devolved much quicker than any of the others. Within two hours he'd already reached Level E status. I highly doubt that he is still alive. This thought portrayed little emotion whatsoever, it was a mere statement of fact. Halfway through her decent, however, Yuki turned back. She won't enter...

This was not elaborated on in any way, and she continued walking. The girl had been talking about Nikki, though, who was not present. She had stopped in the doorway, reaching it after the others were inside. At the moment, she was silently cursing herself. Despite her brother's need for help, she wasn't able to force ehrself beyond the the threshold. There were too many dark memories in this place for her, and they were threatening to overwhelm her.

It was when something of a cross between a scream and a yell reached her ears, and she recognized it as Morgan, that she was able to force herself to move. The sight that greeted her as she came vaulting down the steps was not a good one.

The room was very dark, lit only by a few candles on a table in the corner. There was a chess board there, and many, many books, papers strewn everywhere. A rattle of chains drew the attention towards the back wall, where Morgan stood. His eyes glowed red, and he struggled against the restraints as the group entered. He snarled, but didn't speak. His eyes showed no signs of recognition whatsoever.

Yuki tilted her head. How strange. None of the others ever lasted this long before, not after reaching this level.

Nikki, somehow able to recompose herself, turned to Yuki. "What's happeneing to him?"

Yuki regarded her with a blank yellow stare. It made Nikki shiver. He's starving. The serum is supposed to repress and hide the subject's vampiric instincts. If he survives, one would not be able to tell that he is a vampire. He will no longer have to survive on blood, be able to walk in the sunlight without any negitive effects, and his scent and aura will appear human. At least, in theory.

Nikki tilted her head. "In theory?"

Yuki nodded. No one has ever survived the serum before, therefore, it is impossible to know if it actually works. The subjects have always either fallen to level E and gone insane, or they starved to death before the serum worked its course. If he survives, he'll be the first, and only, to ever do so.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuri Sou

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"That idiot."




Erys blinked as something fell from the sky. She tilted her head as she recognized it to be Nikki. Someone had thrown her off something? She glanced up when Nikki jumped back up, ignoring the rescue group in the process. What was going on? Before she knew it, Kisuke was dead, there was a white-haired child, and Morgan was still missing. She was a little unnerved by the telepathic link the girl shared with them, stating that they wouldn't find Morgan in the house, but under it. Of course, Jasper had taken off in a sprint, assuming he knew where Morgan was. Erys, shaking her head, had followed behind Vincent as they once again sprinted off, however; Yuri stopped them from going any further.

She opened a hatch door, watching as a staircase appeared and Yuri entered, not before stating something. Erys did not care what she had stated, and followed after. The darkness was almost unbearable, however; she could still see well enough. It wasn't long before the rattling of chains, snarls, and the scent of something assaulted her senses. There, chained to a wall, was Morgan. There was something feral about his appearance, and she understood why when Yuri explained. So it seemed that this Kisuke person had experimented on Morgan in hopes of creating something different. Something like her perhaps? She shook those thoughts from her mind as Yuri's voice continued to echo.

"Idiot," was the only word to escape from her lips as Erys took a step forward, but was stopped by a hand grasping her arm. Blue met crimson in a heated gaze as Erys glared at her brother. There was an unspoken battle between them, but it was evident who the winner was when Vincent let go of her arm and she turned to face Morgan. She glanced at the others with eyes that meant to say, keep back, as she moved forward. "My blood can help him, but it won't cure him," she stated as she approached Morgan. Her eyes narrowed in on him as she stood right before him, inches away from his reach as she continued to watch him.

"You are pathetic, Morgan," she stated, grabbing his head a bit forcefully. His state as a Level E rendered him practically incoherent and incapable of understanding anything, talking to him was probably useless. She glanced behind her, noticing the disappointment in Vincent's crimson eyes, but there was also a hint of understanding. Without further notice, she allowed herself closer to Morgan's face, stretching her neck so that he could have access to it and planted his head along her neck. She could always rip his head away should he take too much blood.

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"This is not what I expected to wake up to. I didn't expect to wake up at all."



There were colors, shapes, and scents. Mostly scents. There were all of a sudden so many different smells, and they all seemed especially delectable, but there was one in particular that seemed to pop out at him. And it was coming closer.

Something grabbed his head, pulling him close to their neck. They said something, sounds unitelligable to his ears. They may have made no sense, but the smells did. This person was female, and what was more, they were full of blood. The nectar that would save his life, and stop the insatiable burning running through his veins.

There was no sense of hesitation as his fangs pierced her neck. The reaction in his head was almost instantaneous. Memories flashed through his minds' eye, visions of himself, of her, of them. Something snapped in the deep reseces of his mind, and he remembered.

He had not latched on to her for more than perhaps ten seconds before he let go of her, the fog in his mind clearing. Still, it had been long enough for the taste of her blood to linger, and Morgan became aware of exactly what had happened. Ruby eyes took in the others in the room, finally landing on Yuki, where they stayed. The yellow-eyed gaze relayed what had happened above, and Morgan sighed. It was then that the fatigue and over-all strain that had been put on his body truly took hold, and he passed out.

Yuki watched him for a few seconds before approaching him. She used a small sliver of fire to saw off the chains that held him, the boy dropping to the floor. He will wake in time. Whether or not the serum truly effected him or not has yet to be seen. She looked to Nikki. Mother, do I have to stay here...?

Nikki's heart ached with that simple question. Despite how intelligent she truly was, she was still just a child. More importantly, she was her child, and she was scared. Nikki shook her head. "No, Yuki. You don't have to stay here if you don't want to."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuri Sou

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“It is true that I will never understand the level of depravity in some minds. It is also true that no matter what happens in any individual life, no matter how catastrophic, life itself goes on, and time moves ever forward.”


It would have been impossible for anyone, even Ava who knew him best, to understand what Jasper von Nacht was thinking or feeling in those moments. He’d put all the pieces together, and he understood now what had happened here in full, but his face reflected none of that. For once, the spark in his eyes was flat and dull, and he seemed not to react at all even when Erys offered what of herself she could for the sake of helping Morgan. It was a noble gesture, and one backed, perhaps, by feelings stronger than either of them had initially suspected, but it was as though he didn’t see it happen at all.

In the end, when the girl expressed her desire not to remain, he simply turned and left, knowing that the others would follow in whatever fashion they had to. The rest of the holiday, once they had returned to the Estate, passed in relative solemnity. Ava tried to brighten it where she could, and it appeared that Yuki had taken something of a shine to her, but the burdens of their position had become very clear to everyone. Nobody was quite sure yet what had happened to Morgan, or if the procedure would take in the end, but even so, it was rather traumatic, to be forced to the level of a Mad One and come back again.

Nikki might have had it worse. She had found herself the mother and sole parent of a child she’d never known about. It wasn’t easy, though of course he and his family would be more than willing to help her out in any way she needed. He suspected that Morgan of course felt the same, being her brother and thus technically Yuki’s uncle. Ava had already offered to babysit whenever necessary; his assistant seemed to like the girl just as much as Yuki liked Ava. He was tempted to point out that Yuri was technically slightly older than Ava, but chose not to. The offer was kind, and that was the part that mattered. Erys and Vincent had their own thoughts, he was sure, and it was all bound up in their connections to one another, and the strain that was going to be placed upon them. This series of events, he was sure, was but a small fragment of what they would suffer before this was at an end.

For all that Kisuke had been cruel and deranged, he was nowhere near as cruel and deranged as Theodor was. Theodor would tear everything they had apart because they’d contemplated defying him. What he would do when he learned the extent of their wish to stand against him, they would lose all pretense of mercy. He was not looking forward to it, but it had to be done. They would simply need to close ranks and protect one another, including the newest member of their strange, extended family.




It was eventually decided that, for her own safety and the sake of keeping everyone together, Yuki would attend Cross Academy with the others. Ava took care of the enrollment paperwork, and as the spring semester began, still chill with the end of winter, class reconvened, the strange hint of normalcy this provided almost entirely destroyed by the fact that there was almost no Day Class anymore. Those that had chosen to stay were merged with the Night Class, knowing full well what the vampires were, and all the classes were held at night. It was difficult at first, but with time, most of the abject adoration that had been there before sobered with familiarity and the sobriety of the situation, and though Jasper was still followed around everywhere he went, it was not nearly so obnoxious as it had, been. He’d found himself able to converse with the human students, even. Those that remained were strong, tolerant people, and he respected them immensely for this.

Having been let in on the secret, the humans were showing themselves every bit as reasonable and strong as the vampires, and after a few weeks of awkwardness, they really were one student body. Ironic, that what the Headmaster had wanted most of all could only happen in the face of an impending war. Regardless of the outside world, though, the students of Cross Academy would stand together, and that brought him some measure of reassurance.

At the moment, he stood on the roof of the school, the chill wind of late winter lifting and tossing his hair about, something which Jasper gave no heed to. He could see Ava on the track in the distance, running her problems into the pavement as she usually did. His mouth slanted slightly upwards at this, but it did not bring on the full smile that it once would have. In the end, he focused on nothing in particular, instead zoning out more or less and watching the grey clouds go by. How much longer did they have until Theodor made his move, he wondered.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

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"A new dawn is coming, I do not know what it brings.




Erys did not flinch as she felt Morgan pierce her flesh, the carnal desire to feed evident in the way he took her blood. It was no more than a few seconds that he fed, and he released her, she taking a step back in the process, her wounds almost instantly healing. She sighed as she watched Yuki cut Morgan down before he passed out. Shaking her head, she made to carry him out as they left the estate, however; she was slightly surprised when Vincent took Morgan from her and carried him back to the von Nacht Estate. The rest of the holiday was spent in relative silence, and awkward silence. No one spoke a word, nor mentioned anything that had happened.

When it came time to returning to the Academy, Yuki, the daughter of Nikki, as Erys had been informed, would be attending with them. Erys did not mind at all, for it didn't really mean anything to her. Yuki was part of the family now, and how she came to exist was something that Erys did not care for. The only thing Erys was remotely concerned for was Morgan, and his slumber. Yuki had stated that he would wake in due time, but he had yet to awaken. To say she was actually worried about the Alistair vampire showed in her fervor attempts at maintaining the balance as a prefect once more. Since the outing of vampires, her duties were not as intense as they used to be.

The Day Class students had kept their distance, instead, admiring the Night Class from afar now, however; there were still a few that now played with the notion of being with one. She sighed, her fingers gliding over the books as she glanced at the stock. The library had become somewhat of a place for her to escape to as of late, and she was enjoying herself. Everyone had came back a different person from that night, and she couldn't really blame them. She, herself, had changed slightly, and she had yet to tell if it was for the better or for worse. She finally settled on a book and took it to a seat, sitting down as she began flipping through the pages.

Vincent had taken everything in stride, as he always did. The news of Yuki being Nikki's daughter did not phase him, perhaps as much as it phased his sister. The only thing that concerned him now was her well-being and her protection. He was aware of her fear of him and did his best to stay away from the child, however; she was enrolled into the Night Class along with her mother. It was the only logical choice, and of course Vincent said nothing about it. In due time, she would overcome this fear of hers, but he wasn't going to scare the child more. The return from the von Nacht estate and the events that happened prior were of more concern to Vincent at the moment.

So far, the news of the war had not touched the grounds of Cross Academy. The school still stood on neutral territory which was probably the only safe haven they had at the moment. Though they planned on going against Theodor eventually, now was not the proper time to do so. There were still so many things going wrong, and they required something they were running out of: time. As odd as it may have seen, for a pure-blood, time was very limited. From the news he had gathered, Theodor had not acted yet, which was, and wasn't, surprising to Vincent.

He sighed, standing off in the distance as his crimson eyes took in everything. It was still mid-afternoon, and the alluring rays of the sun caused him to take a deep breath. It was only a matter of time before the von Nacht pure-blood would move, but the question remained, would they be ready for him? Not knowing his enemy was something that bothered Vincent to a degree that it showed slightly, a crack in the otherwise cool facade he wore. He would need to consult with Jasper soon to see if he knew anything, or received any news. Though they were no longer part of the vampire council, they both still had friends within its ranks to keep them informed of anything that was out of the ordinary with the von Nacht leader.

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Over the course of the next few days, more had happened in Yuki's life than she could ever remember at once. All of a sudden, she had what was considered a family, and a mother. It was an odd feeling for her, to say the least. Kisuke had neglected to teach her the finer points in life. Her education had been limited to sciences, mathmatics, strategics, and battle. Things like family, bonds, even holding a conversation, was out of her scope of understanding. She also knew nothing about her own kind. Pure Bloods utterly terrified the girl, so being around Vincent or Jasper was never an easy thing for her. Jasper was a bit easier for her to tolerate, though it was difficult for her to understand why.

It may have been because of her blood; Michaline's blood ran thicker in her viens than it did in Nikki's, and Michaline was the sister of Jasper's father. Still, she was rather uncomfortable in his presence, something Nikki had been trying to fix, along with getting Yuki to actually talk. Neither task had been easy. Yuki still had not physically spoken a single word, and she was now using her telepathy even less, given the understanding that it wasn't exactly socially acceptable.

There were times when the sheer amount of information seemed to be overwhelming her. On top of everything, she even had a new name. She was now registered under the surname of Alistair. She didn't object, but it was still odd to her. It was in these times that the girl would simply escape, and the place she liked to go was the Academy's music room. Above all else, Yuki loved music. She could play only a little, but she enjoyed listening to it. The harp was something she had taught herself to play during her father's long absences, when she would spend months, sometimes even years, alone.

On this occasion, however, it would seem that the room was already occupied. She knew exactly who it was before she entered the room; Jasper's scent preceeded him, especially to her. She could also hear the piano being played. It was a lively; albeit sad tune. She didn't outright enter the room, but she did stand in the doorway and listen. Quiet or not, she knew he would know she was there. Scent alone was enough for most vampires.


For his part, Jasper had been quiet over the past week and a half, paying daily visits to assess Morgan’s condition, but little seemed to change. Other than that, he was busy, sending communications and trying to organize those few people he knew who would dare openly oppose his grandfather… and making arrangements to hide those who would oppose, but not openly. He knew very well that the group at Cross would be the core, the heart and soul of the effort, but they were going to need outside support, resources, and, if this truly became a war, they would need an army, effective communication lines, safehouses, and any number of things to account for all of the possible outcome. The humans at Cross would need protection if battle came this far, and weapons to give them half a chance against what Theodor would bring to bear.

All of this fell to himself and Vincent to organize, with Ava’s invaluable assistance, of course. She herself was a liaison between the few Hunters that remained neutral and Jasper, which meant that she was working just as hard as they were. The others, he simply told to remain ready, to train when possible, but above all to be vigilant and ready to act at a moment’s notice. He did not presume to command them, but he knew more of his grandfather than anyone else did, and that knowledge would be their only slim advantage. Because Theodor had no idea what they were capable of. Not really.

The presence at the door caught his attention, and he slowed his playing with the song until it reached the natural end. No matter how busy he was, even he needed a few minutes to rest now and then, and given his difficulty sleeping lately, the music room had become his sanctuary. He was surprised that she was present, so near him without any mediating presence—he had the distinct impression that she didn’t like him, which stung a little. Jasper was usually quite good with children, but then… she hadn’t been raised as a child should be, and the circumstances of their meeting had not been the most fortuitous. Deciding to try a slightly different approach this time, he thought at her rather than speaking to her. Hello, Yuki, he said, making the thought as gentle and mild as possible. He was not himself a telepath, but he knew well how the ability worked; it had belonged to his aunt, after all. What he did not realize was something that Michaline had known but never told him: that when he ‘spoke’ in such a fashion, for just a moment, for as long as their minds retained contact, everything else in the world was quiet to her, and the background buzzing of voices and thoughts and inconsequential things simply stopped.

His aunt had not mentioned it because she did not know what it meant; or perhaps because she had and wasn’t sure what to do about it. But they had spent many afternoons this way, practicing so that his mental voice would be exactly as he wanted it to be and the headaches that her ability had sometimes given her would recede. Since he didn’t know this, he could not know that the effect would be the same on his young second cousin. He turned slightly on the piano bench, meeting her eyes across the room. Is everything all right?


Yuki was rather surprised when Jasper spoke to her, it was unexpected, especially given that he himself was not truly telepathic. What also surprised her was the fact that her head became...quiet. Being as strong of a telepath as she was, she could unconciously connect to the minds around her, and she often had to stop and focus, in order to block out the unneccessary information. But...at this moment, she didn't have to. She cocked her head to the side. This was an experience beyond her own, and she was confused. Her yellow eyes gazed into Jasper's, and for a moment, she did not reply. In truth, she wasn't sure how to reply.

Everything is a rather general term. Are you speaking of the universe, or simply myself? Specificity is surprisingly disused, I find it rather unsettling. If you are referring to me in particular, I suppose it would still depend on what you are asking. Health wise, I am perfectly fine. Mentally, that, too, would hinge on your definition of the word. I would find myself...I believe you might use the word, overwhelmed, perhaps.


Jasper’s mouth tilted just a little more in amusement as she continued speaking to him, enough so that by the time she was finished, he was truly smiling. He’d been… a bit like this when he was a child, actually. Too smart for his own good and not at all afraid to tell people what he thought. It was something he found more endearing in this child than he imagined it would ever have been in himself. Alas, specificity gets no easier to come by as one grows… I find that adults forget its value entirely on most occasions. But I kept the domain of the question open so that you might answer whichever possibility you liked, He informed her, eyes bright with something that looked suspiciously like mischief. He could tell why Ava of all people liked Yuki so much. Your thoroughness is admirable.

He reached up, only half aware of the fact that he ran his hand through his hair, mussing it slightly. He’d been given to doing that when in thought for quite some time, but his assistant usually made sure to laugh at him for it and thus had almost broken the habit. Being overwhelmed is something I can understand very well, he thought at her with sympathy. It’s why I’m here at all. He paused for a moment, clearly contemplating something, but then tilted his head to one side. Would you like to learn to play the piano, Yuki? I find that it is very helpful in those moments when I am feeling most overwhelmed.


Yuki again tilted her head to the side. To be frank, Kisuke had never offered to teach her anything. No one had, at least not something that didn't have an effect on how she acted. It was...unexpected, but, she also was not feeling as scared of this man as she had before. Perhaps it was because in a way, he had admitted his own vulnerability, or the fact that he was communicating to her in a way that she was used to. The reason did not matter so much as the end result.

She was not afraid, and that was a good thing. She slowly crossed the room, coming to stand next to him. It was a bit odd, but his presence alone was a powerful one. It wasn't exactly something overly dangerous, but it was perhaps something destructive, though she couldn't actually put her finger on it, so to speak. She instead found herself looking at he grand piano in front of them. She felt herself nod. I've read a great many books on the mathematical theory behind playing, though I highly doubt it can be considered one and the same.


Jasper nodded, glancing down at the keys and playing a chord gently, the triple-toned note ringing out into the room with the rich, sweet sensation of dripping honey. Another followed, this one crisp like autumn leaves and apples, and the third was light, flowing from the other two like water trickling from a wellspring. There is a mathematics to it, he told her, and if it helps to think of it in those terms, I encourage you to do so. But… that is not all there is. Like life, playing should be approached with an appreciation not only for the science of it, but also the art. Technical mastery is not what moves those who hear, nor those who play. Someone who knew all of the math would still be missing something—and the ear would be able to distinguish this. A song is like… a piece of one’s soul. A small piece, to be sure, but a piece all the same.

He smiled over at her, as he was still taller sitting than she was standing. But it’s easier to understand that by feeling it than by being told. He moved over on the bench, gesturing gently for her to sit beside him. Hold your hands like this, and when you press the keys, move your whole hand, not just the finger. Playing uses much more of the body than it seems to. He could remember the words distinctly, for the first time he had heard them, they had been from his mother, and the second time, he’d been the one speaking them, to Nikki. And now here, to Yuki. It was a strange thing, to think of it that way, but all the same, it produced a kind of tender warmth in him.


Like life, he had said. That was an odd concept for her, growing up as she had. Still, she sat next to him, and copied his movements. She was shaky at it at first, yet she got the hang of it, surprisingly fast. At least the mechanics of it. The rest, and the part Jasper spoke about the soul, that would be a bit more difficult for her, but...it was relaxing. She even found herself smiling, her face breaking from it usual stoicness. That in and of itself was something none of the others, not even Nikki, had ever seen her do before. She couldn't physically explain it, but she was...happy. The two of them stayed in that room for well over an hour, teaching and learning, Yuki even playing the harp for a while. She had smiled more than she had even thought was possible, and when they finally decided to stop, she did something that she couldn't truly explain. She looked at the man that was her second cousin, and with a smile, she actually spoke. Her voice was soft, something reminicent of her mother and her grandmother, with a slight silvery undertone all of its own. "Thank you, Jasper."

He was surprised to see her smile, and even more to hear her speak, but his answering smile was brilliant, and he set a hand atop her snow-white hair with gentle affection. “You are welcome, Yuki,” he replied, just as softly. It seemed more injustice than he could describe how the first twenty years of her life had been—he had the overwhelming desire to make sure that the rest of it was as different as it could be. She had a family now, and he was part of it. Teaching her what that meant would not be the simplest task, but nothing that was worth doing was every truly simple. “You are always welcome.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

0.00 INK

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Erys allowed her eyes to pass over the same word, fifty times. Releasing an irritated sigh, she closed the cover to the third book she picked up. She couldn't seem to focus on anything, and it was starting to irritate her. There was a feeling, crawling at the back of her mind, that she should be somewhere else, and not in the library. Though she couldn't exactly pin-point where she should be, she did have somewhat of an inclination as to where she wanted to be. Vincent and herself had discussed what had happened back at the Alistair estate, and though he was upset, he understood why she did what she did.

Her blood had always had healing properties to it and it was the only way to bring Morgan back somewhat, and to keep him from falling further than he already had. Though it did lead to an argument, Erys had left her brother, hence why she was currently in the library trying to take her mind off of things. She took in a sharp breath before pushing herself away from the confines of her chair, placing the book back where she got it from and stepped out into the hallway. She didn't need to be in class, and instead, allowed her legs to carry her in any direction. Perhaps she should have taken the reigns a bit sooner, since she was now standing outside of the room Morgan was currently in.

She reached for the knob, hands pausing momentarily as she hesitated. Her brows furrowed slightly as she contemplated entering the room. The last time she was here, he was still asleep, and had yet to wake. What difference would it make if she were to check up on him now? Letting out a frustrated groan, she made up her mind and pushed the door open, not forcefully, but enough so that she could enter with as little noise as possible. Once she situated herself into the room, she took a seat next to his bed, folding her arms across her chest and crossing one leg over the other. And for the next few minutes, she just stared at his sleeping form as she had many times before.


Over the course of the few weeks they had been back at Cross Academy, Morgan had had yet to wake up. Although, his mind was not exactly dormant. Yet he was not dreaming as one might expect. It was a difficult sensation to describe, but he was acutely aware of the other presences in the room, and who they were. Like now, for example, he was well aware that two people were with him now, and that they were Erys, and Yuki, who had only just entered. The two of them had been here more than anyone else, with Nikki coming quite often and Jasper making daily visits. Yet, even though he knew they were there, he could not wake up. His body was still undergoing quite a lot of change, and sometimes it was painful. But he never so much as moved, other than breathe.

Yuki tilted her head to the side when she saw Erys. While she was slightly uncomfortable around the girl, she had grown accustomed to seeing her here with her Uncle. This did not surprise her, as she had seen what had transpired between the two of them before, even if they themselves did not understand it. Yuki also did not fully comprehend it, but she knew there was a connection of sorts. That being said, she didn't bother the girl, and simply went about her usual routine of checking Morgan over. It was during all of this that Morgan actually did awaken. He glanced around the room, his eyes finally landing on Erys. In hindsight, saying the first thing to come to mind had probably not been the smartest, but that was indeed what he had done. He would not be Morgan if he didn't, after all.

"Huh. And here I half expected to wake up dead. Or not wake up at all, as it were. Certainly did not expect to wake up to you." His words were blunt, but there was also a playful undertone to them, somewhere deep and hidden. He wasn't sure the type of ground the two of them stood on, though he was certain he knew exactly how he felt about her now.


Erys acknowledged Yuki when the snow-haired girl appeared. She had grown accustomed to the girl coming in about the same time she had to check up on Morgan. She did nothing to interfere with the girl, and allowed her to do whatever it was she did. Jasper and Ava would occasionally come by to visit Morgan, that much she could tell because their scents would still be lingering in the room whenever she arrived. She had smiled at that. It appeared that everyone was worried about him, as they should be. No one really knew how the serum would affect him when he woke up, perhaps Yuki did, but she wasn't talking to anyone really.

It was then that Morgan suddenly woke, Erys snapping all of her attention towards him as he glanced around before locking eyes with her. She scoffed at his statement, her arms still crossed against her chest as her lips tilted down a bit. "You can't wake up dead, you idiot. When you die, there is no waking up," she retorted to his first question, however; it was light, something she wasn't exactly accustomed to, and sighed. She returned her attention back to Morgan as she leaned back in her chair.

"You had me worried. I thought you wouldn't wake up at all," she finally stated, albeit in a whispered tone, but it was very much there. And it was true. She was worried about him. The thought had scared her a bit that he wouldn't wake up, and she wasn't exactly sure how she would take that. At that thought, she finally glanced away from Morgan, finding the side of her chair more interesting than he at the moment.


Yuki suddenly had the feeling that she was intruding on something, her yellow eyes going back and forth between Morgan and Erys. There was almost something of a hint of a smile on her face, and she turned and left, standing out in the hallway. She could wait until they were finished before she truly assessed her Uncle. She was quite curious to see what had happened to him, but she could be patient. Morgan watched her as she left, raising an eyebrow slightly. He then shrugged as he sat up, stretching his neck out. He watched Erys for a few seconds before speaking. "You would be terrible at poker. Your tells are written all over your face." He sighed. He wasn't sure exactly what she meant when she said she had been worried about him, and he was afraid to ask. Still, he cocked his head at her. "Other than Yuki, you've been here the most. These entire, what has been, three weeks? All this time I've been...aware of what was happening around me. I just couldn't respond to it. I knew every time you entered the room, Erys. One might beg the question why, or why you saved me in the first place. Do not misunderstand me, I'm not saying that I am not grateful, I very much am, but...it did seem...slightly out of character."

"It's a good thing I don't play poker then," she chided, narrowing her eyes slightly back at Morgan before they softened again. The statement he made wasn't one that she could easily respond to. She wasn't even aware of why she did it herself. He was right to assume that it was out of character for her, but then again, it wasn't. She may not have liked him much in the beginning, but things change over time, and it was something Erys was becoming strongly aware of. She sighed, running a hand through her hair as she tried to figure the words she wanted to say.

"I did what I did to help you. No one else had the means to do so, and I did," she began, pausing slightly as she situated herself properly in her chair. "Though it might have seemed a bit out of character for me, it wasn't. I am not one to let someone I care about suffer if I have a means to help them," she stated a bit too bluntly, that she wasn't even aware to what she had just admitted to.


Morgan's eyes raised slightly in amusement. A smile twitched at the corners of his mouth slightly. "Your'e brother is right, you are not one to pursue feelings, especially when you do not understand them. I do not pursue feelings simply because I am terrified of losing the person I become close to. Even so, we both will risk our lives to protect those we care about, even in the face of death." He sighed through his nose softly. "I suppose the logical question would be where does this go from here. I told Vincent that I would pursue nothing unless you came to me, however; it would seem that this is no longer the case. I find myself unable to do anything other than think about it. But that does not mean I will pursue something that is one-sided."

Erys stared at Morgan as he began to talk. She rose an eyebrow at his statement. When did Vincent talk to Morgan? She knew it would happen after what Ava had told her, but she hadn't really thought Vincent would do it. She frowned slightly at what he said though. She wasn't one to pursue her feelings because she was afraid of them. Afraid of becoming attached to someone who wasn't her brother or her friends, and that was something she didn't want to risk. Morgan, however, had managed to pierce that fear in ways she wasn't even sure she could describe them. It was almost as if he was meant to be hers, and she to him. Though she would never allow herself to say it directly, Morgan had come to mean a lot to Erys.

"Morgan," she started, staring into his crimson eyes in the process. There was something he needed to understand. It wouldn't be a one-sided pursuit, that much she knew now. But it wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't because of Vincent. All of the things that are taking place now, it was no place for something like them to come into fruition. "You and I are both aware of the inevitable war that will take place. You are not pursuing something one-sided, it is a mutual bond, however; be prepared for the trials that come with it," she stated as she leaned against the bed he was currently situated on, folding her hands in front of her as her eyes narrowed slightly.


Morgan couldn't help but smile at her answer. Morgan rarely smiled true smiles, but this was definitely one of them. He looked almost...younger, when he truly smiled. "My mother used to tell me, it is not war that tears people apart, but peace. War is what drives us together, and makes our bonds stronger. It is in the peaceful times that we drift apart. It never really made sense to me, not until now." He laid his hand over top of hers softly, looking at them. "Nothing worth doing in our lifetimes is ever easy. It is the trials we face in achieving them that make it truly worth something."

"Your mother had it almost right. It is neither war nor peace that makes a bond stronger. It is the effort between both people willing to make it stronger, war and peace have nothing to do with it," she replied, letting his hand remain on top of hers. It was an odd sensation she felt when he did so, and she shifted so that her hand was now laced with his, rubbing her thumb over his in the process. Her head turned in the direction of the door, a familiar scent crossing her senses. She frowned slightly as she stood from her spot. "I guess I'll leave the two of you alone then," she stated as she exited the room.

Not more than ten seconds later, Vincent entered, a confused look crossing his features as he spotted Morgan awake. He wasn't expecting the vampire to be awake so soon. Three weeks might have seemed like a long time, but judging by his condition, he should have been out for a while longer. "Morgan, you are awake," he stated. It wasn't a question, just an observation. He closed the door behind him as he took the seat Erys had momentarily occupied. "How are you feeling?" he stated, his eyes remaining as stoic and passive as his face.


Yuki had been standing by the door, but as soon as Vincent's scent was caught by her nose, she froze, looking much like a deer caught in the clutches of its hunter. Without saying or thinking anything, the white-haired girl turned and all but ran away from the room, away from Vincent.

Morgan sighed through his nose, watching Erys leave. There was a small smile on his face as Vincent entered, and surprisingly, it stayed there, even as the elder vampire spoke to him. "Well, considering the Pure Blood who once subliminally threatened my life if I ever tried anything with his sister is now sitting in front of me after said sister saved my life, I'd say I'm doing surprisingly well. His ruby eyes glinted slightly as he kept a level gaze with Vincent.


"No, you are correct. That threat is still there," he stated casually as if it were the most normal thing to do. "I am no fool Morgan. I know my sister's affection for you, and why she saved your life at the expense of sharing her blood with you, however," he paused, a glint in his own crimson eyes lighting partially. "You have still not earned my blessing. Perhaps in time you will, but for now, I will not." was his abrupt reply. It was obvious his intentions from the beginning why Vincent was here.

He sighed softly. "But even so, I cannot stop her if she does decide to be with you," he added as an after thought. "Just know that if you betray her, there will be no place on this planet that you can hide from her," he stated, putting an emphasis on her in the process. He wouldn't do anything if Morgan hurt his sister, she would take care of that all on her own, and he was satisfied with just that.


Morgan's smile only widened as Vincent spoke. "Then perhaps something should be made more clear. Yes, there is nowhere on this earth that I could hide from her, but simply put: I would not be here now if not for her. This being said, my life is no longer my own. It is hers. She may do as she pleases with it, including take it if she so desires. Frankly, I do believe that your blessing has very little to do with it any more." This was said simply, and that was all there was to it. Morgan lowered his gaze slightly. "Is Yuki still running from you? She seems to have made some type of amends with Jasper."

Vincent allowed a ghost of a smile to cross his features. "You will be fine then, Morgan," he stated as the second question entered his mind. Yuki did run away as soon as he approached. "Jasper has always had a way with people, I do not," he simply stated. Though it was true, the young girl was still frightened of him, and though he did not necessarily mind, (all people should fear him as such) it did irritate him. Perhaps he should try to remedy that, but now was not the time to do so.

Morgan nodded slightly. "Growing up the way she did, I'm only surprised she doesn't run from all of us." He sighed through his nose again. He was beginning to get a headache, which was surprising. Headaches were not a normal occurrence for vampires, though Yuki did believe that his powers would supposedly be repressed. He shook his head slightly. "Was there anything else, Vincent?"

Vincent shook his head, signaling that their conversation was over. He stood from his spot and bid Morgan farewell and left the confines of the room. His task was done, now the only thing remained was whether or not Erys would truly go through with what she had made. He was certain she would, she wasn't exactly the type to run away from things. No matter what, she would always see things through. And he admired that about her as his sister. Morgan was a lucky vampire that she chose him, and not another.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

0.00 INK

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She’d never been one to break a promise. Which was exactly why, the second she’d heard that Morgan had woken up from his three-week coma, she’d headed not to his room in the infirmary, but the kitchen. Which was where Jazz had found her five minutes afterward, the news on the tip of his tongue until he spotted what she was making and shook his head. He supposed the visit could wait a few more minutes while she finished, and finish she did. He had to admit, the result smelled delicious—he was sure it would go over better than hospital food and blood pills, anyway. He was put in charge of carrying the fork, though he did feel slightly ridiculous following in her wake with a single eating implement in one hand.

They found their way to Morgan’s room about half an hour after Vincent had left, and this was apparently enough time for Yuki to have settled about fussing over her uncle, who was still abed. Probably wisely, giving what he’d been through. Ava was grinning brightly as she pushed open the door with her hip, and even Jasper managed a relieved smile upon seeing that yes, Morgan really was going to be fine. His assistant curtseyed in a slightly-silly fashion, the steaming plate in one hand, and then brought the tray intended for such purposes over to the bed and set it in place. “As promised,” she pronounced dramatically, “The world’s very best omelette, just for you.” She held out a hand behind her, and after a slight delay for interpretation, Jasper indulged her and handed over the fork, which she sat next to the plate with a flourish.

“It’s good to have you back, Morgan,” she said, and this was quieter, more serious.


Over the previous half-hour, Morgan had been poked and prodded by his niece, who had asked him various questions, the answers to most being no. It seemed that his abilities were still intact, and there appeared to be no new manifestations, and it had also become apparent that his scent had, indeed, changed. He smelled human, for the most part. It was an odd thought for him, but he didn't really mind it. He did, however, laugh out loud when Ava and Jasper entered the room, with an omelette of all things. "I was getting sick of puree." He said wryly. After tasting it, he did end up conceding, it was the best omelette he'd ever tasted. Yuki was all smiles, her uncle was awake, and Ava was here. It was a bit surprising how much her mood changed around the girl.

Morgan glanced at the other three, a slight smile on his face. "I heard you and Yuki patched things up, Jazz."


He was a bit surprised that Yuki would mention something like that to Morgan, if indeed she had, but he inclined his head in graceful agreement. “I am not sure that there was anything to repair so much as something to build,” he said mildly, but he left it at that, shooting a silver-eyed glance at the girl for a moment and smiling just a little.

Ava, on the other hand, was feeling a little victorious. At least until she remembered they’d never actually set any terms for the bet. Then she looked at Morgan, enjoying the fruits of her labor, and sighed. Well, he was sick. She couldn’t begrudge it to him. Actually, she probably wouldn’t have even known what to ask for as far as terms went, so maybe it just worked out better this way. Noticing something a bit out of place, she picked up the small package and dangled it playfully in front of his nose. “You sure it’s not just tasty because you haven’t eaten in three weeks?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. Behind her Jazz coughed discreetly, and she had to take a moment to think about why that was.

Last thing he had was… Erys’s blood! Oh. Oh! That was certainly an intriguing possibility. Her smile widened to a grin, full of mischief, and she set the blister package back down. It wasn’t the only possible explanation for a lack of hunger, but it was definitely her favorite. “Or are you just still full?” She knew that knowledge about vampire customs would come in handy! No use was more useful than the ability to tease her friends, after all. Not even being able to understand what was going on in Jasper’s boring meetings.


Morgan glared slightly at Ava, though one might say it was more of a pout. "I suppose you could call it being full. Yuki says that the serum actually did work. After Erys saved me, the serum was allowed to complete it's work. Simply put, I don't need blood to survive any more. She wants to run some more tests later, to see if sunlight bothers me or not. As weird as this all is, it's actually going to be rather good for business, I must say." He smirked slightly. Ava could tease Erys, he wasn't going to let it bother him much.

It was Ava’s turn to pout. He was being no fun at all. Either he hadn’t caught on to the implication, or he’d simply chosen to ignore it. Still she was glad that he seemed to see the positives of the situation rather than the negative aspects of it. That was something that they shared, perhaps. Jasper drew in a breath, scenting the air curiously. He’d noted that his cousin’s scent had changed, of course, but now that he thought about it… “If I had to guess…” he said, giving it some thought, “I’d say it might have made you something like Erys is. That’s what it smells akin to, anyway.” As Morgan had pointed out, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He could survive without blood, and if Jasper was right, he would also be able to walk in the sun, something denied to nobles as a rule. It was something to be happy about, in a sense.

Morgan gave that thought. Like Erys. Now that may be a scary thought. "Hm, that's interesting." He sighed softly. He was getting sick of being in bed, and he'd only been awake for perhaps half a day. Essentially, he's a bit more pure than Erys is. By surpressing his abilities and need for blood, it's like taking a vampire and turning them human without losing certian aspect such as healing, speed, sense of smell, and the like. The original goal was to create an army that was able to infiltrate human settings, even during the day. Luckily, seeing as Morgan is the only one to ever survive, and the creation of the serum was stored back at the estate, it will never be found. That died with Kisuke, so we hopefully don't have to worry about more being created. Yuki spoke, addressing the general question. There was also another reason it would never be found. The day they had left, Nikki and Yuki had both set the place on fire, burning the estate to the ground. It had not been set foot at for years, and none of them ever planned to go back, so there was no reason to leave the place standing any longer. There were too many bad memories for them.

He supposed that made sense, honestly. Well, either way, it didn’t seem like something that was going to be a problem for Morgan, so Jasper accepted it with equanimity. Ava nodded, turning to their friend. “Well, as long as you’re still Morgan, I can’t say it makes much difference to me,” she confessed with a shrug. “And I’m pretty sure it’s still you in there. Quick, do something obnoxious and clever, just so I can be sure!” She snickered, waving a hand so that he’d know it wasn’t an actual request, but then her eyes softened a bit and she punched him in the shoulder, just lightly. “It really is good to have you back, you know. No more getting kidnapped for you; I don’t think my poor heart could take it.”

Morgan chuckled, and even Yuki smiled. "I can agree with that. Getting kidnapped is not on my to-do list any time soon." Yuki then waved the two of them out, saying something about needing to do something or other tests. Morgan just shook his head with a smile. Sometimes it was easy to forget just how young his niece really was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair

Earnings

0.00 INK

Image

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Nikki had found herself surprisingly busy over the three weeks they had returned to the academy. Not only did she have her usual schedule to deal with, she now found herself essentially raising a child that knew nothing of the world. While she didn't particularly mind, persay, she found herself as overwhelmed by it as much as Yuki herself did. She'd gone to visit her brother as soon as her daughter -she was still getting used to the thought of being a mother- had told her he was awake, but now she found herself wandering. Eventually, she found herself in the school's music room. Yuki had mentioned something about playing recently, and the thought made her smile.

Before long, Nikki herself was lost in the music of the grand piano. It would seem that playing as a way to relieve stress ran in the family.


As it happened, Jasper had just left a rather frustrating meeting, and was headed to much the same place himself. Ava had hit the track again to run off her own accumulated stress, and so he found himself heading towards the music room without really stopping to consider it. Sharp as they were, his ears picked up the sound of music long before he entered, but his nose was just as good, and he knew who it was. He’d been meaning to check in on her, but between the things he’d had to do and the things she had to do, their paths had yet to cross. He would also admit that he wasn’t really sure how to go about saying what he wanted to say, or what that thing was, for that matter. He just felt that he needed to say something.

Sighing, he pushed open the door to the practice room, making no effort to mask his presence. She’d know he was there, anyway; people usually did, no matter how quietly he walked. He waited politely until the song was ended before he spoke, and when he did, she wasn’t exactly sure why he chose the ones he did. “Yuki’s learning, now,” he informed her quietly. “I think she has your talent for it.” Leaning against the wall, Jazz crossed his arms over his chest and let his head fall back slightly, closing his eyes. He didn’t believe in hiding things from the people he cared about, if he could avoid it, and he would not hide the toll these events were taking on him, at least not entirely. “How are you holding up?” He asked, lids still shut. His lashes were long enough that they almost brushed his cheekbones, though he couldn’t say he knew that.


Nikki had smiled slightly when she had smelled Jasper. He had waited until she was finished, and she had swung around on the bench to face him as he spoke. "You try suddenly finding out you're the mother of a twenty-one year old vampire that was shut underground all her life, and see how you hold up." It was a sarcastic remark, but there was no bite to it. She smiled at him softly. "I'm alright, really. It's just a bit...odd, thinking of myself as a mother. I figured I'd be a bit older first. Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love her. She may be a bit odd, but then she has reason to be."

“In case you hadn’t noticed… odd runs in the family. I consider us all fortunate that despite that peculiarity, she is a sweet child rather than a sociopath.” He grimaced faintly, thinking of some of his own relatives, not particularly well known for their stability or their kindness. Yuki could have ended up much worse than she had as a result of what that man had done, but her own good nature had prevented it. He hoped that, one day, she would feel comfortable being with the world at large as he had seen her be. She would have a lot to give others, if that side of her was properly nurtured. He opened his eyes then, leveling his gaze on her and sighing softly.

“I am not confident that new parents are ever prepared for it,” he said seriously, and then he tilted his head faintly to the side, as though examining her from an angle he’d not seen before. Something curious flashed over his expression for just a moment, but it was inscrutably brief. “But, for what it’s worth, I think you have been doing, and will continue to do, wonderfully at it.” He couldn’t imagine most people taking the news as well as Nikki had, much less displaying such an aptitude for doing what needed to be done thereafter. He was not sure he would have been able to. Even now, the news shook him a little bit, though he wondered if there wasn’t more to it than that. He couldn’t say, and in the long run, it probably didn't matter much.


A slight smile flashed across her face at Jazz's comment about her daughter becoming a sociopath. With some of their relatives, and the girl's own father, it was quite the blessing. Her eyes narrowed slightly, though. She had thought that she had seen something in his gaze at that moment, yet it was gone faster than one could blink. Perhaps she had imagined it, she wasn't sure. She did, however, wave away his comment. "I am only doing what feels natural, nothing more. Frankly it's a father figure I think she needs, now more than ever. She says that it doesn't bother her that she killed Kisuke, but I know it does. Psychotic or not, the man was still her father. Killing him was not, and should not be, easy."

He couldn’t help but consider the fact that he would likely be in a similar situation at some point in the future, with his grandfather. Theodor was a despicable person, but Jasper had not always known this. There had been many centuries in his youth when he looked up to his grandfather, to the power he seemed to wield, power that had always enticed him as a youth. If he were being honest, power still tempted him now. He wondered if this, too, was something carried through the blood, the desire to master the strength that was naturally his… and exert it freely. Jasper had a lot of self-control, more than most people ever needed. But there was little mistaking the fact that he needed every last modicum of it. He was unaware of what he could do, but there was a reason he never tried to find out. His father had warned him long ago that power was the single most addictive thing in the world, and that to seek too much of it before one was ready was to condemn oneself to being forever subservient to it, rather than its master.

He tore his thoughts off the uncomfortable path they were taking, and the shadow that had darkened his eyes dissipated, leaving his usual warmth behind. “I can’t promise any efficacy with such matters… but I’m sure that she’ll be fine in that regard. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and as far as villages go, I think the one we have around us is the very best.” Perhaps somewhere between himself and Morgan and Vincent (if she ever got used to him), Yuki would find what she needed. Even if it wasn’t the most conventional way to raise a child, he had a difficult time imagining that someone who grew up around the likes of Nikki and Morgan and Ava and the rest of them could possibly lack for anything.


Nikki watched him as he got lost in his own thoughts. Perhaps someone who didn't know him wouldn't have been able to percieve that, but she could. She stood up, crossing the room slowly, looking at the various things in it. "Yes, I believe you are right in that regard. She's practically enamored with Morgan." She cocked her head to the side, looking at the record player, when a sudden idea hit her. Jasper had come here for a reason, and if she had to guess, it had been the same reason she was here. A slight smile brightened her face, and she leafed through the records the school had, retrieving a rather old piece, it was one of Beethoven's. She silently put it in the player, and then walked over to her cousin as the music began playing. She held out her hand, a devilish grin on her face as her grey eyes danced. "Come on, if we're going to escape, we may as well escape together."

Tired as he was, it took him probably longer than he should have to put all the pieces together: the music, the outstretched hand, her words. But when it clicked into place, something constricted inside his chest. There was… hard as he’d been trying, he still sometimes looked at her and saw his little cousin. Or at least as someone who was at once Kiki and Nikki. He couldn’t do that right now—that safety was gone, and all he saw was his cousin, the woman. The striking, vibrant, dedicated woman. And for some reason, it broke his heart. He felt keenly a loss he could not quite place, and it threw his balance slightly off and to the left. Well, not literally, but certainly in some figurative sense. Jasper swallowed thickly past the lump in his throat, and realized he’d been just standing there, staring at her face, for longer than he should have.

Without much else in the way of choice, though, he reached out and accepted the hand, trying to ignore the aching feeling and just remember that he enjoyed her company. And he did, he just… with a faint shake of his head, Jasper feathered his other hand about her waist, so that his fingertips pressed with gossamer delicacy into the spot just above the small of her back. He held her like she was breakable, perhaps because to him, basically anything was. With the smoothness and poise that had been trained into him from his youth, he slid them into an easy, looping waltz.


They had been dancing for a while before Nikki finally spoke. She knew there was a problem that needed to be addressed, and it had been one she had been avoiding. But now that they were alone, just the two of them, it felt easier. "I've seen the way you look at me sometimes. I know you miss her, the girl I used to be. I'm sorry I was so harsh about it before. I just..." She cast her eyes downward, sighing softly. "I don't want to only be seen as that little girl, especially not by you, Jasper."

He tried to find the words to convey what he wanted to say here. Of course, being Jasper, what implications the last part of that statement might have carried were largely lost, considered for all of half a second before he reminded himself that it was unwise to presume. “I do miss her,” he admitted quietly, his voice little more than a smooth whisper. “I always have. But… it is not that. Not only that.” He huffed softly, figuring out his thoughts even as he stated them. “Just as you are not the same, I am not. And I… I do not know who I am, to this person I see. It is… unsettling.”

It had hit him especially keenly at certain points. The worst had been with Kisuke’s appearance, when it was next to him Nikki stood, from him she drew the comfort and the strength Jasper had once tried to provide her. But… it was also in the moment he’d seen her scars, and known that he no longer had the right to ask about them. He was not her protector any longer—he had failed at that duty the night her family died. Regardless of whether or not it was his fault, the facts did not change. He should have been there, should have known, and he had not, did not. At some point, they’d stopped dancing, and now simply stood in the center of the floor, the music falling silent. “It isn’t that I would prefer to have her back, over having you here. I would not. But I…”

She was somehow unreachable to him now, where once she had been ever at his side, and he’d felt the loss of that like an empty place in his soul. There was nobody to look at him with eyes bright and hopeful, glad for just a moment of his time in that innocent way children had. Everything was more complicated than that now. And it always would be. And he… what did he want to be to her? The answer was hidden, somewhere between his heart and his mind. He could feel it, but he did not know it, not quite yet. And what did it matter? It would be nothing so important as it had been before. She had an entire world before her, and he realized that he was no longer such an important part of it as he had once been. He was her friend and her cousin, yes, and he always would be, but… she had a child, and somewhere there was a man she loved, and her family surrounded her, and she had changed and needed different things now. She didn’t need the thing he had once been to her.

It left him feeling… lost, with regards to her, and it was like standing on a thin sheet of ice. One misstep, and he would simply plunge into the cold water beneath, where his warm memories would protect him no longer from that reality: that he was not needed, that he was less to her than he had been. Why did it hurt so much? He dropped his arms from her back and her hand, and for a moment, neither of them stepped away. There was something else he wanted to say, something else he wanted to be, but as before, he knew he had no right. His body moved of its own accord though, and he bent, just enough that he drew closer, until he could feel her breath on his cheek, warm and soft, and his eyes fell half closed. Perhaps, if only…

The sound and smell of an approaching student snapped him out of it. No. It was not his right, not his place. Whatever he was now, it was not that. Abruptly straightening, he shook his head at himself, looking away quickly and clearing his throat. “I’m glad you’re all right, Nikki,” he said quietly, though his smile was crooked at best, and not at all like him. “If you’ll excuse me.” He backed away a few paces, then turned and left the room, almost succeeding in convincing himself that he wasn’t running away.


Nikki had stopped when he had, looking up at the man who was her cousin. He was right, he had changed, but not into something bad. She watched him as he struggled with his words. What he did next was not something she ever expected, and her heart hammered as she realized his intentions. Her own eyes slipped half-way closed, but before anything at all happened, they were separated. Nikki suddenly felt very cold. He said something at her, but she barely registered what it was. She was more preoccupied with watching his retreating back. She stood in the spot he had left her, clutching at her chest, trying desperately to release the tension that had suddenly built up there. Why did it hurt so much? It was then that the student Jasper had smelled entered the room. He looked around, and when he spotted Nikki, he said something to her.

She did not reply, so he walked over to her. It was a human student, and he laid a hand on her arm. Or at least, he tried to. A shadow crossed her face and she caught his hand in her own, glaring at him. The boy's eyes widened as he realized what she was. He stuttered out an apology and she let him go. As he left, she too, entered the hallway. She stared down the path where Jasper's scent still lingered, let out an angry sigh accompanied by a rather vehement scowl, and began walking in the opposite direction.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

Earnings

0.00 INK

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Like most things, the day came to an end. The sky was now dark with the only light illuminating the grounds being provided by the moon. Vincent sighed softly through his nose, allowing the cool breeze to shift through his hair and caress his face. It was a pleasant feeling, one that he had missed over the last few months of the events that had played out. There was one in particular that had bothered him the most. It was the night that thing had taken Ava and attacked her. His eyes narrowed slightly at the thought. If that man were to show his face again, Vincent would have to remind just exactly who he was. He blinked in confusion. Why would it have bothered him that much? Ava was his sister's friend, his friend's assistant, and in some unknown way, his own friend.

Seeing her like that that night had stirred something in him, and it was a feeling he didn't quite like. It was a feeling of helplessness, of not being able to do something to save her. That alone was something he had to remedy. If he couldn't protect even a human, what business did he have to say he could protect his family, and the ones that Jasper cared about should something befall Jasper? His fist clenched tightly at his side at the thought, banishing it from his mind in the process. He wasn't weak, and he wouldn't allow himself to think that. His friend had been in danger, and he had failed to protect her. It was something that wouldn't happen again, that much he made a silent promise to. As if to confirm it, the distinctive scent of strawberries entered the area.

He frowned slightly. Jasper was nowhere around, and it appeared that she was alone. Foolish, was the first thought to cross his mind as his legs began to move towards the direction. It didn't take him long to find the Elsworth girl laying in the grass, staring up at the sky in the process. His crimson eyes laid on her form for a few moments longer before turning his attention up towards the sky as well. He could never understand why humans were always so drawn to it. It was a thick blanket of darkness, that the only light it held was by the stars and the moon. There was nothing significant about it. Perhaps, he too, had been enamored with it when he was a younger vampire, but now, there was nothing. As quietly as he appeared, he spoke to her.

"Ava, you shouldn't be out here alone," he spoke, moving so that he was standing beside her now, and took a seat next to her. He crossed his legs beneath him, his posture still straight as he folded his arms in his lap. "It is not safe," he added, glancing around the vicinity in the process. For now, at least his presence alone might keep the others at bay, but there were still a few strays that would be drawn to her scent, and Vincent didn't like that idea at all.

Ava had been listening to the sound of the crickets, allowing the cool night air of early spring to prickle her skin as she lay against the fresh green shoots of grass. She’d always had an affinity for the spring, the season when new things came to life. It made her feel alive, too, like something sang in her bloodstream, infusing her with a strange kind of restless energy that was warm and light and soft too. Sometimes, she almost imagined that she could feel it, the way the world awakened in spring after the slumber of winter. But that was silly—there was no way she could actually feel that sort of thing. She was just a person, not some kind of… nature-spirit or whatever you’d have to be to do that. The smattering of stars overhead was beautiful and bright, but she looked at them, as she always did, with something equal parts wonder and confusion.

When she heard his voice, she smiled. She always did. Maybe she was hopelessly obvious, but she wasn’t one of those people who believed in trying to deny your feelings and hoping they would go away. Even if she did eventually want them to fade so she could move on with her horribly-short life and not wish for things that couldn’t be, she’d never deny what she did feel, nor the way it had started to deepen and bloom over the past few months, like a rose on a bush. She averted her eyes from the stars for a moment, turning her head to look over and up at his profile. “Then I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not alone, isn’t it?” she said lightly, her smile widening for just a moment before it receded again. She hadn’t meant to inconvenience him, but she’d learned that sometimes, she really did have to rely on her friends, and perhaps he wouldn’t mind sitting here, for just a little longer. She wanted to, and not because of the stars.

She looked back up at them, though. “My name’s not actually Ava, you know,” she said conversationally. “Or rather, it is, but it’s not my first name. My parents actually named me Esther, like these stars.” That’s what the name meant—star. She’d always thought it was a bit silly; the name sounded very old-fashioned, and she tended to think it didn’t suit her very well. “But when I look at them, I just feel… small. There’s this whole big universe out there that couldn’t care less about me, or even something as important as this war or this planet. I’m pretty sure I’ve never made anyone feel small or awed before; at least, I hope I haven’t.” She scrunched up her nose slightly with distaste. She didn’t want anyone to feel smaller because of her. Though maybe if it was their problems that seemed less important, that would be okay. “It makes me wonder what they were thinking.”

Vincent kept his gaze on the sky above as she spoke. Her declaration, however, had his attention as he turned to face her. Esther, was her real name? How fitting, he thought as he glanced back to the sky. Now that he thought about it, it really was rather fitting of her to be named as such. She was a bright ball of energy, of light, in their small world, and he was starting to understand why Jasper had admired her so much. It didn't matter what happened, or what was happening, that she wouldn't lose that smile of hers, one that he was growing very aware of. He leaned back a bit, placing a hand behind him to keep him upwards while the other laid sprawled against his lap.

"Perhaps they were hoping that you would turn out to be just like those stars," he stated softly. "And they were hoping that you would remain bright, even amongst the darkness that is greater still," he continued, turning to face her in the process. "It is a name that you should go by more often, Esther," he added, using her actual name and rolling it around through his tongue. It had a sweet flavor to it, one that he could perhaps become accustomed to if given the right time, however; time was something he knew she didn't have. That caused a thin line to appear on his lips. Human lives were so short, but they tried to make the best out of it.

"The universe tends to not care about its inhabitants. The only thing that matters to the universe is that it is kept alive because of its inhabitants. One person shouldn't feel insignificant about it. You matter to more people than the universe does, so you shouldn't feel that way," he addressed, unsure of why he was. There was a strange thump against his rib cage, and his eyes softened somewhat. He wondered if this is what his father felt when...he paused in those thoughts and glanced at Ava, a strange emotion flickering through his crimson gaze before it disappeared just as quickly.

Judging by the heat on her face, she was a pretty impressive shade of red right now. She kind of hoped it was hard to see in the dark, but of course, that was basically impossible. Vampires saw so well even with no light at all. But light… did he really see her that way? Like a light in the darkness? Jasper called her sunshine sometimes, but that was lightly and with a faint note of teasing to it. This was… she didn’t know exactly what this was, but it made her feel all twisted around inside, and she was pretty sure her heart rate had picked up to the steady thrum it used when she was running, not just laying there. She swallowed nervously, propping herself up on her elbows and then rising so that she was seated, legs crossed neatly underneath her, though a few blades of damp grass clung to her hair even still.

She mattered to more people than the universe did? It was such an odd sentiment to express, especially from someone like him, only she didn’t think so as much as someone else might have. She felt like she knew part of him that very few people did, because she knew that he could be surprisingly sentimental when the mood struck him. She’d glimpsed it when he helped a distraught Nikki, and then again when she gave him the painting she’d done. And it wasn’t just anyone who’d stand out there in the rain and just listen while she tried to figure herself out. Vincent wasn’t half as cold as he wanted people to believe, and somehow, that made her smile. The way he said her name did strange things to her stomach, and she was thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a terrible name to have, after all, if it could be said with that tone.

On impulse more than anything, she took his free hand in both of hers, unsurprised to find that despite his aristocratic upbringing, there were calluses there, probably from his guns or other weaponwork. His fingers were pale and elegant, but it wasn’t that which dimmed her smile to something secret and inscrutable. She ran the tip of her index digit from the spot just above his wrist to the center of his palm, following the tracery of his veins there. “I knew it,” she said softly, venturing a glance up at his face. “You’re not cold at all—you’re one of the warmest people I know.”

A small smile crept along his face as he spotted Ava's face, listening to the increased pace of her heartbeat. He found it rather comforting, in a sense, and he glanced down as she took his hand. A strange sense flowed through him as he noticed how fitting they were in his own, even if it was just the one hand, and a slight chill ran down his spine when her fingers traced the vein in his wrist to the palm of his hand. Warm? She thought he was warm? He almost scoffed, but instead, his smile only deepened, highlighting the features of his face and causing his eyes to brighten substantially. This human girl, truly was something, and he could see why his sister and Jasper were so attached to her. He raised himself a bit, grabbing both of her hands in his own and closing his eyes a bit. There it was, the familiar warmth spreading through his chest again. He could understand it now, why his father had loved Fuyuko the way he had.

"And here I thought I was an icicle," he chided softly. "But it appears that your light is what creates my warmth," he continued, opening his eyes once more, vaguely aware of what he had just admitted to. As much as he didn't want to, he couldn't keep this girl at an arms length as he wanted to. She was like a reel, and he was the fish caught on the hook that couldn't escape. And he wasn't sure he wanted to now. Humans were so fragile, so delicate, but they had a spark about them, something that he could see within Ava, but they had such short life spans. He frowned at that. Ava would only live a few more decades, if something didn't take her first, and that thought alone caused him to tighten his grip on her hands a bit. He would lose her still even if it wasn't by natural causes.

His hands engulfed her small ones, and she smiled as she bent forward, leaning her head against his bicep, the length of her honey-colored hair obscuring her face. It didn’t matter—her happiness was evident enough in the gentle sigh that escaped her. She couldn’t believe it, honestly. She hadn’t thought before she just took his hand like that, but in the moments after, she’d wondered if maybe she’d done something stupid. It might not have been the smartest thing, but she wouldn’t know. All she could feel was the thudding of her heart in her chest, the warmth under her skin and flaring in her cheeks, his hands over hers, and the comforting solidity of his person. Everything was so uncertain now, with this war going on and their inevitable confrontation with Theodor von Nacht looming over their heads, but this… this was something she was strangely sure about.

She wanted to tell him. Ava had never been anything but honest, after all, and never believed in running away from things. At first, she’d made her acceptance quiet, if only because she’d thought that was best. There had been so many reasons that speaking would have been the wrong thing to do, and maybe some of those still applied, but… they no longer seemed so important. Not if he meant what she thought he meant. Taking a deep breath, she tried to hold her voice steady as she started. “Vincent, I—” But she was unable to finish the sentence before she registered a strange cracking sound, and then a small bang.

“Well, well…” a new voice purred, only it wasn’t new at all—she recognized it in a deep, primal part of herself, and her entire body stiffened in fear. “Isn’t this just the sweetest thing?” Despite the words, there was a huff of irritation underlying them. All Ava could think was that what was a moment ago the nicest dream she’d ever had was now a repeat of that dark nightmare that had woken her, screaming, for more consecutive nights than she could count. She’d only just managed to chase them away around Christmas, but it appeared that it would not remain so for long. She trembled once against Vincent, the smell of her fear spiking her scent in a strange way, and the crimson-haired vampire smiled even as she dragged herself to her feet, turning to face him. She could be brave. She had to.

She knew why he was here. He’d whispered it against her neck just as he let her go, the last time. Ava had wanted to assume that he was lying, just trying to scare her further, perhaps hasten her death at the hands of her poor, out-of-control classmates, but now she knew it for truth. And she was afraid.

It was odd, the sensation that she brought to him. He had been so...afraid of caring about something, of someone, that he tried to make no attachments to anyone. The only exception to that was his sister. She was all he had left of his family, save for his grandparents, who might as well have been dead, in their eternal slumber. But he couldn't help this one, the one who laid across his arm. He couldn't stop it at all, and now, there had reason for him to try. The sound of something cracking did not go missed by his ears, and his eyes hardened once more. The scent, he was familiar with it and his eyes darkened. Immediately, Vincent was on his feet, pulling Ava up with him in the process. The smell of fear grew within the area, and Vincent knew it was coming from Ava, if the small trembles did nothing to seal it.

"Your presence is an annoyance, begone," Vincent stated, pushing Ava behind him in the process. He was giving this man the option of leaving with his life, something Vincent hardly ever did, especially when it was he who had caused such turmoil to Ava. His eyes glistened with malice, his intentions very clear behind his ruby eyes that were now glowing dangerously. He failed once, he would not do so again to protect Ava. He knew now just how important she was to him, and to lose her, he would destroy everything in his path if he lost her, just to get her back. He had even contemplated turning her, for his own selfish reasons without even asking, but he couldn't bring himself to do such a thing. It would have to be her decision, not his.

The redhead snickered, eyes flashing with ill-contained malice. “Mm… I think not. After all, I promised the little birdy here that I’d be back for her, and I’m nothing if not a man of my word.” He sketched a mocking bow, quirking an eyebrow and smiling, the very picture of relaxed confidence. “I don’t envy you your task though. Protecting such an important little piece in this game from a man who can bend space to his will is not easy, I’d expect.” He flashed a feline grin, but then he was gone, reappearing behind Ava with another crack, and as before, his arm snaked around her waist with all the force of a steel bar. He grunted his surprise, however, at the anti-vampire weapon that was shoved backwards into the side of his abdomen; the unreleased form of her spear.

Yanking the blade out, he tossed it aside. “That, my clever little bird, will not go unpunished,” he hissed, but he ignored her squirming, his attention returning to Vincent for just a moment. “Lord von Nacht sends his regards, Lord Kuragari. You’ll receive instructions on what to do in a few days. Until then… try not to stew too much in your failure, hm?” And with that, he vanished, taking Ava with him and leaving only the bloody knife behind.

Vincent had not the speed to compete with the man's strange teleportation, and it took a mere few seconds before Ava was taken from him...again. His fangs protruded through his mouth as a feral look crossed his face. This man was touching Ava again, and he dared to try and belittle Vincent. He would have made for the male, but the way he was holding Ava prevented Vincent from doing much. His eyes were glowing darkly, his intent to kill radiating through the area. Just like that, Ava was gone, the man's words echoing through Vincent's head. Theodor. That man, he was going to pay. He took something precious to Vincent, and nothing, not even their age difference, was going to stop Vincent from getting it back. He balled his hand into a fist, connecting it with the nearest object, sending the tree backwards and colliding with others behind it, leaving a quake in it's place. If it could have, Vincent's aura flared uncontrollably.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“I will not rest until I’ve found you. But what will you do if there’s nothing left to find?”


It didn’t take long for some of the others to react to the sudden and violent flare in Vincent’s aura, Jasper and Erys among them. It took a moment for him to get his bearings enough to tell them what had occurred, but once he had, Jasper had to exercise every last precious ounce of his self control not to tear through half the forest himself. It was that teleporter again—and there was nothing else that could have been done to stop him, which only made Jasper angrier.

But they had no choice—though the bloodied knife Ava had stabbed him with was still there, they had no scent trail to follow with it, and an analysis of the genetic material hadn’t given them anything useful Morgan, Jasper, and Yuki did notice something interesting, though—there was an irregularity in what appeared to be Ava’s genetic structure, one that was anomalous, but resembled the pattern of one of the extra vampiric genes, rather than a human one. It was near the genes that coded for blood cell production and the like, but though curious, the information was useless to any of them at the moment.

The only choice they had was to wait.




He sat irreverently on a lab table, waiting for her to come around. The rapid teleportation had rendered her unconscious, as it usually did to anyone he transported over such a long distance, but she was resilient for a human, and she was already regaining consciousness. His host was rather unhappy with the fact that she was chained to a wall in a corner of the lab rather than put up in her own room, but a short phone call to his employer had take care of that resistance rather quickly. A mind broken over time, subjected so often to reminders of failure and what essentially added up to brainwashing and torture was ill-equipped to fight his employer’s abilities anymore. It was like hypnotism—once you’d been put under once, it only got easier.

Heinrich von Nacht’s eyes were an uncanny, glazed-over blue, a sure sign that his mind was not currently fully his own. But he still spoke with Heinrich voice, expressed Heinrich’s sorrow and regret, and he imagined that would only make things worse for the little birdy here. She stirred, chains jangling faintly as her leaden limbs started to move again. The wound she’d dealt him still throbbed, the anti-vampire metal being quite effective and her strike quite well-placed, but it was not enough to kill the likes of him. Not by a long shot. She came to awareness slowly, seeming to realize where she was at about the same time as she remembered how she’d gotten there, and her head shot up, glancing around the lab with quick recognition. She knew her location—he supposed that would only make matters worse when Jasper’s father failed to do anything to help her.

“Good morning, sunshine,” he sing-songed, leaning forward and catching his chin in his hand. He had to give her credit, her fear did not show in her face. It was too bad for her that he could smell it, mixing with the sweet scent of her blood. He’d had to renegotiate his terms with his employer after he’d tasted it last time, and surprisingly, the man had agreed to let him have her… if she survived everything that she was about to undergo. A little unfair, but he had confidence in her strength. The little birdy as made of sterner stuff than it seemed. He looked forward to caging her all for himself.

Before she could respond, Heinrich entered the room, silvered hair pulled into a tail high on his head to keep it out of the way while he worked. He carried several empty syringes, and glanced over at the girl apologetically. “H-Heinrich?” Her tone betrayed her confusion, and the von Nacht man shook his head.

“I can’t help you, Ava. I’m sorry; this is the only way. It’s always been the only way.” He looked away, clearly unable to hold her gaze, but her guard had no such compunctions, and watched her deflate before his very eyes, slumping when she realized that nobody here was going to help her.

“The only way to do what?” She asked, glancing back and for the between them. Her captor smiled, the gesture not meant at all to comfort, but rather to intimidate. It flashed his pearl-colored fangs, after all.

“The only way to bring back his beloved, of course. You, my dear, are the test case for something very special indeed. You remember Kisuke Sou, don’t you?” She nodded warily, eyes narrowing as she struggled to attach his words to her question, and figure out how one answered the other. “Well, he and his foolish sponsor were trying to do genetic work that neither of them had the brains to do. They, after all, were not the foremost scientists of an age.” He glanced at the silver-haired pureblood. “Nor were they driven mad enough in their grief to bend their intellects to one purpose for more centuries than you’ll care to think about. What they accomplished is a shadow of what Heinrich here has been doing, isn’t that right, Heinrich?”

The man did not answer; perhaps his guilt held his tongue. “You see birdy, this is the fruition of a plan ages in the making. Your involvement was planned before you were even born. Your genetics were manipulated in utero, when your mother believed that her kind doctor of an employer was providing her with the usual prenatal care. All for this: everything you are, or have been, everything you ever wanted or loved,” he spat the last word with a special kind of relish and emphasis, “will be taken from you. You’ll be wiped blank, and then you’ll be injected with the blood of the first. It’ll be almost like being an ancient, really—you should consider yourself lucky.”

She didn’t quite understand yet, he could see that, and nobody was stopping him, so he went ahead and explained the rest, enjoying the horrified expressions that were playing over her face. “And when that is done and we know how to make it work, we’re going to do the same thing to your friend, the dhampir Erys. Because when she is wiped blank, what is in her soul will be brought forth of its own accord, and Heinrich here gets his precious Elsa back. A lovely story, isn’t it? The best part is, of course, that your friends will be completely powerless to stop it, because you’re going to be the one who takes her, and do you really think any of them could hurt you?”

She swallowed thickly, and he knew it had finally sunk in. She knew exactly what he wanted her to know, and that was quite enough for the moment. Heinrich was frowning at him, but from the color of his eyes, there was nothing he could do even if he wanted to. He was rather enjoying this. “And you?” she asked, too quietly to really manage the defiance he was sure she attempted to get at. “Who are you? What do you get out of all of this?”

“It’s ready,” Heinrich said from behind him, and he nodded.

The grin that spread over his face was positively wicked, and he could see her recoil from it, afraid as she should be. “Me? I’m flattered. I, birdy, am Fenrir. And just like the wolf, I get to swallow the sunlight.” The metaphor clicked just as he moved, lifting her from the ground in a fluid movement and sinking his teeth into her throat.




It was two days later, rather than the promised three, that Jasper received a rather terrified phone call from a servant at his family’s estate. “S-sir,” the woman, the head maid Ilia if he recognized her through the panicked tears. “It’s Miss Ava, sir, she’s—” The line went dead, the dial tone grating in his ears. But he’d heard enough. As fast as he could run, he assembled the others, informing them that their destination was now his own home… where it seemed his father held Ava.

Jasper couldn’t understand it, but he didn’t have to. All that mattered right now was getting her back. He stood restlessly at the front gate of Cross Academy, unaware that it was the last time he’d see it for almost a year, impatiently waiting for the others to assemble.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

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Yuki was fidgeting next to Jasper. Not only did the flares in everyone's auras make her uncomfortable, the fact that Ava was in danger did nothing to help her state of mind. She was not able to stand still, and she was also visibly upset, if the fact that the ends of her hair were litterally flaming was any indication.

Despite Yuki's insistance that Morgan should stay behind, the informant was having none of it. If his Uncle was holding Ava, he damn-well was going to help get her back. He suddenly was very glad he had never given Heinrich any of the information he had asked for. Though at the moment, it didn't seem to matter any longer.

Nikki, on the other hand, seemed very calm. There was a hard expression on her face, to be sure, but she was still, calm, collected. Even her aura, Yuki noted, was still. This surprised her daughter somewhat, but Yuki didn't quesiton it. She understood that now was not the time. She did wonder, however, just why it was that suddenly Nikki seemed to want to be as far away from Jasper as possible, though again, she did not voice the question.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

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"I will get her back, this I promise.




The sudden flare in Vincent's aura had Erys by his side in no more than a few seconds, arriving shortly after Jasper had. It only took a second for Ava's scent to assault Erys' nose for her to understand what had transpired, and why Vincent looked like he wanted to murder something. He had relayed the events, causing Erys to clutch her fists tightly, and just as her brother had, she had smashed a tree for release of the anger. That damn man had taken Erys, the one who had held her on the stage. Though there was nothing they could do now, except for the piece of information he had left behind. It had taken a few days, for them to discern that it wasn't Theodor who took Ava, as Vincent had assumed.

It was in fact Heinrich.

But what had the von Nacht want with Ava? She wasn't anything special to him, just his son's assistant. What was he trying to do? It took every ounce of will-power to remain calm, however; she couldn't say the same for her brother. Vincent had still been angry, and his aura hadn't once subsided. It took a few moments for Erys to understand why, and she had tried her best to calm him. But he wouldn't have it. She almost had to force him to sit still as his pacing back and forth had become irritable. Of course it only resulted in the two arguing again, however; she knew he was worried. Despite popular belief, Erys was aware of the side her brother hardly showed. And she knew it was killing him slowly to have Ava gone.

On the second day, Vincent was already prepared by the time Jasper showed up, relaying the location of Ava. He arrived shortly after Jasper had, waiting for the others at the front gate of the Academy. His patience was wearing thin as they waited for the others. They needed to leave, now, less they risk any other harm befalling Ava. Just the thought of harm befalling her in general was enough to set Vincent off and his eyes were glowing a faint crimson color. Erys arrived not more than five minutes after Vincent as she stood next to her brother, touching his shoulder slightly to give him a sense of comfort, but she too was feeling her own anger rising in tow.

When the others arrived, Vincent glanced at them all. Now that they were all accounted for, they needed to get a move on, however; something needed to be addressed. "Heinrich knew we would come for Ava. Do not let your guard's down, not even for a second," his voice came out cruel and harsh, however, it was his way of telling everyone to be careful. They didn't need anyone else falling into a trap nor getting themselves killed. He was against having Yuki come, as young as she was, however; his sister was still younger than she. But that's where it ended. Erys had been trained for combat and such, whereas Yuki, he had no clue.

"Do not let Yuki out of your sights Alistair," he stated towards both vampires, his eyes lingering a bit longer on Morgan's form than necessary. When that was addressed, he stepped in front of Jasper, glancing back at the group. Erys merely nodded in response as she glanced at the others. They were going to get Ava back, no matter what.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

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“I remember pain… but I feel it no longer.”


“How does it feel?” She who spoke was beyond lovely, but Fenrir hardly spared her a glance. Freya, though in some sense everyone’s type, wasn’t the current object of his interest, and he never paid her much mind except when she was speaking about something that was. Like now. The man smiled, flexing a hand experimentally. He could get used to this. Oh, he could get so very used to this. Her voice had been soft, the melodious pitch of it almost mournful, but his was anything but.

“Like there’s sunfire in my veins,” he replied, almost with a kind of glee, his blue-green gaze lingering on the source of this power. Theodor had no idea what he’d promised him, the fool. If anything, Ava smelled better than she had as a human—there was certainly something more potent about it now, like even a whiff was intoxicating as a fine wine. Sunshine and strawberries, something else he could get used to. But more than anything, this power… Fenrir had never been weak, but this was incredible. He didn't notice the slight frown that took up residence on the scientist’s face, and he wouldn’t have cared if he had, honestly. He was high on the sensation. The Aegis Effect—it really was something.

“She’s waking up…” Freya moved to check the girl’s vitals, placing a pair of pale digits gently at her throat. The pulse was weak, but regular. When she woke, she would wake famished, not least because Fenrir had been overindulgent in what she had to offer. In one sense, it would be advantageous for them, because a newborn pureblood was bound to be more dangerous than a newborn noble, and her need to slake her thirst would only make it more difficult for her friends to overcome her. It was Heinrich von Nacht who had initiated this experiment, but its design belonged to Freya, who, while not quite the eminent scientific mind Heinrich had once been, also had the benefit of not having been subjected to the mental tortures of Theodor for centuries. Was it better, that she wasn’t insane? Given the things she’d seen, she thought not. But she had been promised a measure of solace at the end of all this, and the extent of her service would warrant it.

Theodor would keep his word to her—she knew he would.

It was really a shame; the girl was such a sweet child. And now, she would become a monster, devoid of her bright personality and warm memories. All that would remain of her was the scent that drew even Freya too close and the thirst. The scientist had wept for this, though nobody knew it but her sister, and Hel told no secrets. Sighing so lightly it could not be heard, Freya stepped back as the girl started to stir, inwardly flinching at the hungry look already reappearing in Fenrir’s eyes. The wolf grew too ambitious, and Freya knew a budding addiction when she saw one. This had always been a possibility; if the experiment were repeated, they’d have to lessen the power, so that the smell and taste would be less habit-forming. She hoped it was never repeated, but hope was a useless thing in the employ of Theodor von Nacht. That, she had learned long ago.

A grin broke out on Fenrir’s face as he scented the air, his nose temporarily sharper than any of the rest in the building. “They come,” he said, undertones laced with excitement. “You know, I was almost hoping to kill that Kuragari bastard, but I guess I’d rather she did him in on her way to his sister.”

Freya’s frown became more pronounced. “You know that’s a lie we told Heinrich, Fenrir.” Even if the process would have worked on someone who hadn’t been made for it, Theodor would hardly bother bringing her back. She was far too troublesome the first time; another opportunity to give her life to save humans would be too much to risk. Theodor’s plans had been delayed by four centuries last time she’d given her blood to humans. It had thinned over generations, but it was still allowing the Hunters to hold their own so far.

Fenrir shrugged, entirely unconcerned. “Well, the suggestion will still be to attack the half-blood, will it not?” Freya couldn’t disagree with that—orders were orders, and she knew the consequences of disobedience. Just a little longer, and we’ll be free of him… But it was too dear a thought to have right now. Both vampires’ attention was drawn by the stirring of the girl on the table, and when her eyes cracked, glowing fiercely vermilion, Fenrir grinned. Freya just lowered her gaze, implanting the proper suggestion and watching Ava climb to her feet. She was awfully alert for a newborn, perhaps a function of having no need to sort through any memories, for she had none.




Jasper led the others up the front path to his home as quickly as the slowest of them would allow. He’d been tempted several times to leave them behind and go on his own, or perhaps with Vincent and whomever could keep pace, but his father was no Kisuke—he would have prepared defenses, knowing exactly how strong his opposition would be. All that he could do was hope that they would be able to overcome this resistance all the same. They were met at the front door by two men, both purebloods from the smell of them.

This, however, was not the smell that concerned him. He could scent something, enticingly sweet and achingly familiar, from all the way out here. It was faint, but by now, he was attenuated to her presence. It was Ava and not Ava all at once, and what that might mean nearly stopped him in his tracks. But there was no time for that. Jasper examined the two that stood before them. One was massive, actually a good half a foot taller than Jazz himself, with a shock of hair so blond it seemed white, and a patch over one eye. He carried a sword as tall as he was, and clearly knew how to use it, from the look of him. The other was smaller, slighter, but with a cunning look about him that suggested he knew more than he let on. Jasper recognized neither.

“Leave, or be removed.” There was no trace of his usual gentleness in his tone at all—it was brittle, cold, and short. The smaller man smiled, but the large one seemed to be studying him, sizing him up before shaking his head with a muttered “not ready yet…” It was easy enough to ignore this, however, because the two men pulled open the doors then, and out stepped two familiar faces: one belonged to Ava’s twice-captive, eyes alight with amusement and twisted joy.

The other hit him like a punch to the gut. Because there stood, golden eyes backlit with bloodlust, his once-human assistant. His friend, the sister of his heart. And she reacted to seeing them not with relief, but with nothing, scanning over the faces assembled as though seeing them for the first time. The scent of her was a wall, almost a physical force on its own, and Jazz clenched his jaw. That was going to be distracting at best, even for him.

“Well, birdy?” the red-haired male was saying. “You can have your pick. Which one would you like to devour first?” It didn’t take Jasper long to determine what was going on. Ava had just changed, and she had not fed. Why she didn't recognize them was another matter, one he could not quite get his head around right now.

She glanced first at him for a long moment, but then her eyes narrowed and shifted away, hitting Morgan briefly, then Yuki. She stared hard at Vincent for several seconds, and he almost hoped that there was a flicker of recognition there, but if so, it disappeared again thereafter. At last, her gaze alighted on Erys, and she smiled. It was nothing like Ava at all, and left him feeling like a chill had passed over his entire body.

“That one.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari

Earnings

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Fenrir was only amused by her, and that much was obvious. Even so, he did nothing to stop her as she launched herself with all the speed of a pureblood towards Erys. For his own part, Fenrir was under orders to neutralize a threat, and so when Jasper moved to intercept her, the red-haired vampire got in his way, slamming into the von Nacht heir from the side and carrying them both a fair distance away with the force of the blow. He felt alive with her blood in his system, in a way he never had before. This was a dangerous man before him, but he wasn't concerned about it. Not now.

Vincent stared at the front doors of the von Nacht manner as Jasper lead the way. His face was devoid of everything, movement, emotion, it was empty. Like a blank canvass, Vincent wore nothing upon his person as they went to search for Ava. There were two pure-bloods waiting for them when they reached the manor, Vincent's eyes never losing their vermilion glow. Jasper was the first to speak, Vincent's gun already in hand, however; when the two men pushed open the door, they were met by two very familiar faces. For a split second, relief crossed Vincent's eyes, receding the glow, however; something else replaced them.

"Ava?" he spoke in confusion. Her eyes, glowing just as his had momentarily, held nothing for them, and somewhere, it caused his heart to ache. She recognized them not, and Vincent's eyes narrowed at the one to her side. It was that thing that took her, however; he spoke a few words, which caused Vincent's hand to grip his gun tightly. She was a vampire now, and she perhaps woke with a thirst. It was confirmed when her eyes landed upon Erys, the pink-haired Dhampir only frowning as she felt her own heart break at the sight of Ava. The smile, the one that Vincent had grown to cherish from her, was not the same, and as she made for Erys, all Erys could do was stand.

Jasper made to intervene, however, he was thwarted by the man who took Ava. Instinctively, Vincent reacted, pushing Erys out of the way as Ava jolted after her. He grabbed her as soft as he could, trying not to hurt Ava, and threw her over his shoulder so that she was away from his sister. He had little choice here, it was either fight her, or let her attack the ones who cared for her. He couldn't let her attack them, it would only devastate the person he knew she was. But if he attacked her, he would end up killing her, and Vincent wouldn't be able to live with himself if he did so.

"Your opponent is I, Esther," he spoke her name so softly that he wasn't even sure he had even spoken it. He holsted his gun back into its belt and stood calmly, watching her intently and waiting for her to move.

Ava hissed as she was intercepted on her way to her desired target, and tossed away as though she weighed nothing. Well, that was fine—she could feel a similar power in her own body now. She knew she had been weak, once, pathetic and sad. But this was not what she was any longer. Twisting in midair, she landed on her feet with all the grace of a cat, her feet digging rents in the earth as she skidded backwards a bit from the force. This man… he called her by a name she did not know. Claimed that he was the one she was to fight. Well… that was fine by her. The initial suggestion that had been planted in her mind was replaced by the desire to thwart the one who had presumed to interrupt her.

The girl’s lip lifted in a silent snarl, exposing the length of bright fangs to the light of the moon they fought under. The starvation was something under her skin, something insidious and crawling and persistent, and she had no care for how it was slaked. She carried no weapons with her, but she would not need them. Her eyes flashed, and she launched herself for the man, seeking with the reckless abandon of the truly desperate to bring him to the ground.

New vampires were always something to be reckoned with. Vincent had witnessed it first hand about a century ago when a pure-blood had turned a human. The human, of course, had almost managed to over-power the pure-blood in strength, however; the pure-blood held no sentimental attachments to the human, and subjected the human-now-vampire to torture. Vincent could feel something different about Ava's status as a vampire, and that if he were to try, subjugation would not work on her. There was little choice he had. He had to fight her. With that in mind, he braced himself for Ava's impact.

When it came, he wrapped his arms around her, shielding her from the ground as they both fell. He twisted so that his back came into contact with the floor, a soft grunt escaping his lips in the process. There was no doubt in his mind that she was strong, and it was apparent by the indenture in the ground. He pushed her away with enough force and rolled back, regaining his feet in the process. He then charged at her, his hand only a few centimeters from her face when he paused. He couldn't. There was no way he could harm Ava, and his arm fell to his side.

He was strong, and it was pissing her off. She needed to feed, now, and she was not enjoying this persistent sensation of being held back from what she wanted. Tossed backwards, she tucked into a smooth roll, bouncing to her feet, but not quickly enough to get away from him. Ava flinched as his hand reached up, closing her eyes and crossing her arms in front of her to ward off the inevitable blow… which was late in striking. Cracking an eyelid, she watched with confusion as his arm dropped back to his side. He was exposed like that, vulnerable, and it was the perfect opportunity for her to get what she wanted.

Didn’t he see that?

She couldn’t understand why he had not struck her, and for a moment, her perplexity overcame her hunger, and a small glimpse of the girl that she had once been showed through the glowing vermilion of her eyes. They were wide, and confused, and afraid. Of what, it was hard to tell, and even she could not discern it. This man… his behavior was not consistent with what she had expected. She had not missed the way he twisted when she hit him. If he could do that, he could have ensured that she took the impact from the fall as well, but he had not. And now, he would not strike her.

For a long moment, she stared hard at him, trying to figure out what was going on, but her mind kept coming back blank. It was frustrating, and slowly working her back up into anger and frustration. These things, she understood. Hunger, she understood. She did not understand why something in her gut twisted when she looked at his eyes. His beautiful, beautiful eyes. Pain lanced through her skull, almost as if she were being punished for having the thought, and she clutched her head in both hands. “What… what are you doing to me?!” she cried, shaking her head furiously as if to clear it. “Cease!” Unable to comprehend what any of this meant, she lashed out the only way she could: she tried to strike him, throwing her arms and legs into a flurry of punches and kicks, each one aimed more or less for his midsection.

Vincent allowed a spark of hope to flash behind his eyes when Ava stared at him, something coming back to the girl he knew. He reached out to touch her face, a hint of tenderness behind it before she pulled away, clutching her head in pain. His eyes softened slightly as he tried to reach out for her once more, but it was apparent whatever was going on, it wasn't something he could help her with. He was too close and unable to respond when she lashed out, throwing punches and kicks at him. Each one was absorbed by his midsection, and he winced at each blow. He tried to defend himself, but all he could do was receive the brutal end of her attacks.

He was right, she was strong for a newborn, and it was apparent when he spat blood from his mouth to the side. He wiped it away as he stared at Ava. There had to be a way to retain her back to the one he knew, the one he had befriended, the he loved. It was apparent enough for him to realize that the moment she was taken from him, and he was only angry at himself for not realizing it sooner. If he had, he would have been able to protect her better, keep her with him at his side. Once the flurry of attacks ceased, he fell to his knees slightly, however; a smile lit his face up.

"It's okay Esther," he finally managed out in a soft voice. He winced as he grabbed his side. There was no doubt a broken rib, however; he could already feel it healing as he remained in his spot. "It's okay, because I love you," he whispered out the last part so softly, and only regret could be laced with the tone. There, he had declared it, spoken it as if it were some sacred message only meant for her. He would take anything she threw at him because he loved her. He would show her just how much if he ever received her back, and he would never again allow anyone to take him from her.

She was panting, worn out from the hunger and the pain and the exertion of this new body she didn’t quite know how to handle, and she could do little more than stare dumbly when he spoke to her. This person… who was he? Why did it hurt to watch him bleed? She followed the droplets of the precious liquid as they left his mouth. They should have enticed her, drawn her to them. She should have leaped for him, intent on more, but she could not. She could not force her limbs to move in such a way, or really at all.

The words he spoke… how could they be true? She didn’t even know who he was! She’d never seen this man before in her life… had she? Something flickered at the very edges of her mind, and another lance of pain stabbed into her mind, leaving a burning sensation behind. She remembered… what? Something. Something to do with this person. Those eyes, and the stars. Her name… Esther. That was her name, wasn’t it? Her friends called her something else, but not him. Because he wasn’t a friend, exactly. He was… what was he? She fought for the knowledge with all she had, collapsing to her knees as the pain blinded her with its intensity, but she needed to understand, to know this thing that eluded her. She needed…

Black and white flickered across her vision, and she felt her starving body weaken, almost as though she were collapsing in on herself. Her eyes opened, but the molten glow in them flickered, then died. Her consciousness faded with the effort of plunging recklessly through her own mind, and she fell fully to the ground, a single word escaping her in a choked whisper before she lost her grip on the waking world.

Vincent…


Vincent could only watch as Ava fell to her knees. It pained him to see her that way, and he so desperately wanted to cease that pain she was in. But there was nothing he could do for her. She didn't remember them, though a spark of hope had flickered across him when it appeared she was at least trying to. Something shot through him, and in an instant, despite the pain in him, was at her side. She called out his name. His name, and he was cradling her in his arms when the scent of someone very familiar entered his senses. His eyes, though weak and tired, flashed brightly at the arrival of who it was: Theodor von Nacht.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair

Earnings

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The slighter of the two blond men was the next to move, and when he did, his form wavered and shimmered with light, splitting him into three. One of the clones went each to Erys and Morgan, drawing a hand spear from his belt as he did so. When they spoke, it was in unison. “We are Jormungandr. It's so very nice to meet you, Morgan Alistair and Erys Kuragari." They wore matching smiles, bright but oddly detached, as though they did not belong on the faces they occupied.

Morgan turned slowly, so that he was facing the blonde man, and his back was to Erys. His lips curled into a silent snarl. The scent of his sister's blood assaulted his nose, but there was little he could do about that right now. His ruby eyes flickered to three copies of the man. He was not in the mood for games, and this guy seemed rather intent on playing with them.

He pulled out three of his own knives, one fitted between each of his fingers. The blades crackled with the energy he charged them with. With a swift movement, he threw them, each one aimed for one of Jormungandr's heads. He had little doubt the man would either dodge them or block them, he wasn't stupid enough to think otherwise. But there was little he could plan if he knew nothing about his opponent.


Erys recovered quickly at the sudden tackle to the side. She had been glued to her spot when Ava had tried to attack her, but all Erys could do was look on with sad eyes. Her friend was someone she did not recognize, even if it was Ava, it wasn't Ava. She turned to face the one who called himself Jormungandr. He split himself into three copies, all smiling as though there was nothing to smile about. Erys narrowed her eyes as she removed Ulrik from the hitch at her back. She flicked it, releasing its blade form in the process. She was angry, and she needed to take her anger out on something. Pure-blood or not, Erys wasn't going to back down from this fight.

"The feelings are not mutual. I care not who you are," Erys retorted, not hiding the anger in her voice as she spoke. She turned so that she was fully facing the strange man and pointed Ulrik at him. "All that matters to me is that you are one responsible for what happened to my friend, whether or not it was directly or indirectly. You will pay for it," she stated, charging one of the copies as Morgan threw his knives as well. She brought Ulrik down, aiming for the man's chest in the process.


Jormungandr only smiled wider, each of the copies’ hand-spears deflecting the thrown knives in perfect symmetry. The advantage of information was definitely his—he had done his research beforehand, and that was why he’d picked these two to fight. Well, that and because he’d rather expected certain other match-ups to occur the way they had. There was just no keeping Fenrir from trying out his new toy on the von Nacht heir, after all. “I look forward to seeing your retribution, dear,” he told Erys, and the copy that she engaged with locked the shaft of the hand-spear with the sword, turning it so that the gun part of the gun-blade would fire over his shoulder if the trigger was depressed.

He lashed out with a deceptive quickness, attempting to hook one of his legs around the backs of her knees and sweep her footing out from underneath her. The second copy flicked the fingers of his free hand, a mote of light issuing from each and forming into a dagger-shape. “Your turn, Mr. Alistair. Do you dance?” The daggers launched one by one, only on a slight delay, and seemed to anticipate the most likely dodge trajectories. Each one also had the unfortunate effect of exploding on contact, either doing additional damage or kicking up a bit of dust and debris by hitting the ground.


Morgan paid little attention to Erys. If anything, he knew she could at least defend herself. He was not at all surprised by the man deflecting his attack, enough so that when they exploded, they were far enough away they did little damage. Morgan ducked to dodge the first knife thrown at him, and didn't even flinch when it exploded. It did surprise him, he just didn't let it show. True to his aim, Jor's second knife was headed straight for Morgan, but instead of dodging, Morgan caught it. The blade also did not explode. He had nullified it with his own ability, and he then threw it back. Blade and blade collided in mid-air, the combined energy exploding with more force than that of one alone. Morgan scowled at the man. "As a matter of fact, I do dance...but not with the likes of you."

Erys glared harshly at the man as he blocked her attack, locking their weapons together and forcing it to face the other way as she pulled the trigger. The bullet missed, lodging itself in a part of the building as she felt his leg hook behind hers. Her eyes widened slightly as he tripped her, causing her to fall backwards, but she managed to catch herself somewhat. Twisting so that she could regain her footing, she kept her gaze fixed on her copy. She wasn't prepared for how quick he would be, and she wasn't quite sure she could match him. She released a sharp breath before pointing Ulrik at him. She wouldn't be able to attack him at a close distance, so she had to resort to a further distance. Closing one eye, she aimed Ulrik at him and fired.

Morgan’s sass only caused Jormungandr to throw back his head and laugh. Well, the real one did, anyway. The copy just grinned a little wider, the expression taking on a slightly-manic edge. In his free hand, he conjured a shortsword to compliment his and spear, this one comprised entirely of light, and then he was suddenly in Morgan’s face, lashing out with both weapons several times in quick succession. “Clever boy,” he said, “but I wonder how long you’ll survive with such a clever tongue, hm?”

Erys’s Jormungandr cocked his head to the side in amusement when the girl retreated, allowing her to do so mostly because he was curious as to what she would do. When the gun fired, his hand snapped up, and much like Morgan had earlier, he caught the projectile aimed for him, the bullet smoking between his index and middle fingers. “Tsk, tsk, my dear. Such a temper. You should learn to have a little more fun.” The last word fractured and reverberated a little as the light around him bent and twisted, rendering him entirely invisible. Being a clone made of light, he also had no scent, and made not a sound… not until it was too late, anyway. His hand-spear suddenly appeared, along with the clone itself, right behind Erys, the weapon aimed squarely for the center of her back.


Morgan was prepared for Jormungandr's speed, he'd seen it already. What he was not prepared for was the fact that he could yet again smell Nikki's blood. There was more of it this time, a lot more. Too much. was the thought that flickered through his head. It was enough of a distraction to allow his opponent to land more than a few hits. Morgan skidded away from Jor, clapping a hand over his right ear, half of which was missing. He snarled, blood leaking from several shallow cuts on his body. He'd lost track how much blood he'd lost.

Erys clicked her tongue in annoyance as the man caught the bullet. Her eyes hardened when he spoke, saying she should have more fun. She wasn't here to have fun. She was here to destroy the beings who took Ava from her, from Vincent, and she wouldn't stop until they were nothing but broken shards of glass and dust. She, however, did not count for Jormungandr to disappear. Her eyes widened a fraction as her head snapped in every direction. She place Ulrik in front of her, however; it was too late when she smelled him. She glanced over her shoulder, eyes widened in fear as his hand-spear aimed for her the center of her back.

Blood coated the air, mixing with the other scents of blood as Erys choked out a cough. She had twisted herself enough so that his spear had pierced the side of her back instead of the center, however; the wound was still deep and still just as effective. She glanced down and noticed it peeking through from just underneath her rib-cage. He had missed her heart at least, however; she was losing blood, and fast.


For the second time, Morgan found himself distracted by the scent of blood. This time, however, his eyes glowed. This time, he reacted to it without thinking. This time, he was truly angry. Morgan moved faster than he had been before, and with a swipe of his clawed hand, he cleaved the clone's head from its shoulders. The rest of it, spear included, seemed to flicker and then vanish altogether. Morgan caught Erys as she collapsed, his lips pulling back in a vehement snarl, fangs gleaming whiter than his eyes were red.

The original Jormungandr and the remaining clone both raised a single eyebrow, smirking. If he was at all concerned about the fact that one of his clones had been destroyed, he was not showing it. “Ah, so it is true. How darling.” He shifted for a moment, and the other clone shimmered and ceased to exist. He could sense the incoming presences, and knew that unfortunately, the time for amusement was at an end. How he would have preferred to finish what he started, but alas, good drama was not sustained with such quick deaths. The tension must linger even after he was gone.

“Well, it’s been fun,” he said lightly, “but unless your cousin is a fool, it’s time to move on to more serious matters…”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

0.00 INK

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The largest man in the area sighed. It was not today that he would get to die the death he wanted, it seemed. All that were left were a noble, from the smell of her, and a young girl, the same. Well, women were just as capable of slaying as men. He would not mind if he was killed by a woman. But neither of these, nor both of them together, would be able to manage it. None of these people were strong enough. But there were those who might be, one day. Tyr did not believe in false courtesy, and he didn't force a smile or try to make light of the situation. Nevertheless, he was not without respect. “I am Tyr. It is well to know the names of one's opponents. What are yours?"

Nikki couldn't stop the chill that ran down her spine when she saw Ava. It was clear even without her scent that the girl was no longer human. But it was the fact that she didn't seem to recognize any of them that bothered her most. However, her attention was taken by what one might literally consider a mountain approaching her and Yuki. Nikki's eyes flickered over to her daughter, as the girl had not taken Ava's reappearance very well, but it would seem now that she was just fine, perhaps even eager to fight. The girl had been shaking before, but now she was still. Her face was nothing more than an emotionless mask.

Both women looked directly at the man who announced himself as Tyr. She couldn't help but smirk slightly. Tyr, one of the ancient Norse Gods, the one who embodied bravery and war. How fitting. Her eyes narrowed as she drew her sword. "I am Nikki Alistair." She said slowly. Yuki, on the other hand, said nothing. Nikki couldn't even connect with her mind, showing that the girl would do nothing other than focus on the fight. She had put up a wall between herself and the world.


Tyr inclined his head, the only gesture of deference really in his repertoire. He was not, after all, in the habit of bending at the knee. The little girl chose not to give her name, and this too he accepted. She would die nameless to him, and that was fair enough. “Then nothing else need be said,” he uttered gravely, his voice a rumbling bass. “Come.”

In a fluid motion that bespoke centuries of practice, he drew his own massive sword from his back, holding it level in front of him with only one hand. The steel of it gleamed like something unholy, as if somehow, the number of lives it had claimed were inscribed into it. The blade was well-maintained, but the nicks and notches on it nevertheless hinted at its true age—it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine that he had been born with it in his hand, beside the forge-fires of an age long past.

He flickered, disappearing from sight, and reappeared behind Nikki, bringing his blade down in an arc too swift for someone of his size. Unlike Fenrir, he could not teleport—he was simply that fast. The blow, if it connected, would easily cleave the woman’s arm from her shoulder, with little more difficulty than it took to part the air.


A look of surprise crossed Nikki's eyes. If this guy had anything going for him, speed was definately it. She wasn't fast enough to parry the attack, she had to dodge -and she only just managed that. She skidded backwards, away from the man, blood running down her arm from the cut on her bicep. She scowled slightly. This was a complete mismatch, and if this drew on too long, there was no way she or Yuki were walking away alive. At this rate, they'd barely make it out whole.

Yuki, on the other hand, had moved when her mother had, landing lightly on the edge of the man's blade. She sprung up again, aiming a kick at his head.


Tyr was more impressed than he thought he’d be with the noble woman’s speed—not many he had fought would be able to get away from an attack like that with a simple cut. Nevertheless, he knew as well as they did that this was no true contest at all, and it rankled him. The least he could do was push his opponents, hopefully pry out of them strength they did not know they had. Lest it be a very dull day for him, indeed. The girl, he saw coming, and while it would have been easy enough to bend backwards to dodge the kick, he chose to take it full in the side of his head instead. He didn’t even flinch.

This allowed him to grab the offending foot, and toss the girl to the side. If she didn’t right herself in the air, she would hit the ground hard, but it was nothing fatal. “Try again,” he said. “Harder this time.” They would need more than this to even scratch him. But he wanted them to. Tyr did not seek fights indiscriminately. He was only interested in the good ones.


Yuki did not right herself. She did, however, stop falling. She curled herself into a ball, standing on a wall of telekinetic energy, and then used the energy she had compressed in order to force herself back towards him. This time, her body lit on fire, every square inch of it, and she was aiming straight for his chest. Nikki, on the other hand, had realized what Yuki had been planning to do. So, she launched herself back at Tyr, and jumped. She landed on his shoulders, sitting down and wrapping her legs around his neck, pulling his head back with her as she thre herself down. It was an honest effort, though she lacked the strength to do little other than distract him.

The little one was putting in an honest effort, and her focus was not to be underestimated. Nevertheless, she still lacked the power, and the other’s weight on his shoulders was negligible. Were he a more dishonest man, he would have pulled her off and used her as a shield from the flaming one, but there was no need. Instead, he grabbed hold of one of Nikki’s shins in his free hand and squeezed, intent on snapping the bone there. As for the other, he swung his sword with enough force to crush ribs, aiming the flat of it to swat the girl away like a baseball.

Yuki felt the flat of the blade connect with her, but she stopped herself from being flung away with another telekinetic wall, the flames from her body erupting with the contact. She was pushing against the blade with her hands while her feet were against the wall she had thrown up, stopping the force of his blow. Her arms, however, were beginning to shake with the sheer effort of holding him back. Strong or not, she was no match for him, not while she was also concentraiting on the shield she had thrown up between Nikki's leg and Tyr's hand. Nikki slipped her leg out of his grasp, allowing Yuki to let go of that sheild, and she added her own flames to her daughters, encricling Tyr. Whether or not it would do anything remained to be seen, Nikki was seriously beginning to doubt that anything could hurt this guy.

The telekinesis was a valiant effort, he would grant it that, and enough, surprisingly, to barely stop the amount of force he was exerting at this moment. Kisuke Sou may not have succeeded in engineering a true pureblood, but his efforts had not come to nothing. It was not the fight he wanted, but it was better than the fight he expected. Tyr had learned to be grateful for the little things in life, and when the rush of fire engulfed him, he simply stood in it, using the opportunity to shake both women off like water from the back of a large dog, and this time, he stabbed downwards with his sword, intending to stake Yuki to the ground with it. He adjusted his force so that it would overcome barriers of the strength she had used before, and his free hand slammed into the ground with enough force to create a fissure in the ground, which should stop the other from standing up long enough to interfere.

Yuki's eyes widened as she saw the sword heading for her. The wall she put between herself and the blade shattered with the force, the shock knocking her out cold as she hit the ground. The sword was still coming down at her, and Nikki knew that she would not survive if the blow connected. At that moment, Nikki wasn't exactly sure how she managed it, but she moved. As Tyr's blade came down, she slammed herself into it. It wasn't much, but it was just enough so that it missed Yuki. Blood splattered aross the stone, the edge of Tyr's blade cutting almost an inch into her side, as well as her forearm. Nikki was doing little more than gasping on her feet, and there were circles under her eyes as she glared up at the man in front of her. "You're not going to kill my daughter."

Tyr stilled, sensing a new set of presences enter the area. “No,” he said quietly, eyes narrowing slightly, “I suspect I am not. Not today, at least.” he straightened, and sheathed the sword over his back. “Do not forget today, Nikki Alistair. What happened, and happens still, will change everything for you all.” He hoped that next time they met, she would be stronger, but not for his own benefit. This was the last they would see of one another in combat, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erys Kuragari Character Portrait: Jasper von Nacht Character Portrait: Ava Ellsworth Character Portrait: Vincent Kuragari Character Portrait: Nikki Alistair Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Character Portrait: Yuki Sou

Earnings

0.00 INK



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“If this is what it takes to protect them, then it is what I will do. Without hesitation, and without reservation.”


Jasper collided hard with the tree, feeling the wood crack and splinter under the force of the impact. The arbor fell as he pushed away from it, and there was no time to mourn the fact that he was slowly helping these people destroy the grounds his mother had loved so dearly. There was only the attempt to fight this man in front of him, who seemed absolutely invulnerable to everything he was capable of. His gravatic control seemed to work on everything but Fenrir, who moved as he always had even when the von Nacht heir pushed down with all the force he could muster. The wolfish smile remained in place, and the man was stronger and faster than even any pureblood had the right to be.

At least Jasper still healed fast enough to keep up… for now.

“Glorious, isn’t it?” Fenrir asked, appearing behind Jasper and placing him in an armlock, strong enough to disable most of the other vampire’s movement. “It’s called the Aegis Effect, and it’s all thanks to that little assistant of yours. I must admit, I really don’t understand how you stopped yourself from indulging for so many years. She was right there, Jasper, and smelling like that? You’re a saint.” the way he said it made the word saint sound like an insult more than anything else, but Jasper was more concerned about the fact that Fenrir was implying that he’d consumed Ava’s blood.

“I am no saint,” he replied, danger thinly-veiled beneath contempt in his tone. “I only respect her for the fact that she is a person, and not something to be consumed.” Ava… this is what he had striven so hard to protect her against. There was always a risk, working for someone like him, that she would be made a target. Recent events had made that obvious, but some part of him had never thought… to see her like this, now, so obviously not herself and a victim of this man’s selfishness… it snapped something in him long held dormant. With a snarl, he grabbed the arm holding him in place and pulled, flipping Fenrir over his shoulder and slamming him into the ground. The force was enough to create a crater, but the other vampire only smiled, clearly unhurt. Was this truly the power of Ava’s blood?

“Humans, not to be consumed?” The man echoed, almost with disbelief. “You do have some truly strange notions. Not to worry; you will be disabused of them soon enough. She was made for this, Jasper, engineered from before her birth to become what she is now. She’s beautiful like this, isn’t she?” Fenrir regained his feet, and cut a sideways glance at where Ava was engaged with Vincent, throwing a quick flurry of blows at his friend’s middle.

“What have you done?” Jasper’s tone was more aghast than anything, as pieces of information slowly clicked together in his mind. They did not make a pretty picture, and he began to wonder if any part of his life had ever been untainted by ill intent.

“Oh, not I,” he said, clearly relishing in being the one to deliver this news, “Your poor deluded father.” Jasper growled something unintelligible, though whether it was at the news, or the fact that he could smell almost all of his friends and family bleeding, he did not know. Perhaps it was both. “That girl was just an experiment, once. But now, she is the Aegis, the divine shield, and she is mine.”

There was no time to respond to that, however, for it was at this moment that several new presences appeared in the area. Three total, one he knew, one he just barely recognized, and one that was entirely new to him. The only one that mattered, however, was his grandfather, and Jasper zeroed in on him with slitted eyes, intent on at least striking him down. But Theodor put up a hand, and ended the notions by waving back those who had attacked the ones he loved. They went willingly, even Fenrir, though he looked less than pleased with the fact that Ava was unconscious and in the arms of Vincent.

“Observe the state of your alliance,” Theodor drawled, a superior smirk fixed firmly on his face. Jasper had little choice but to do just that, and it was not good news. Erys was perhaps the most wounded, but Yuki was unconscious, Nikki wasn’t far from it, Morgan was bleeding profusely, and even Vincent looked like he’d been running for days. Ava was in no shape to help anyone… if she ever would be again. His heart broke for them, and for what it meant.

“What do you want?” he asked, his tone resigned, and Theodor’s black eyes lit with approval, and some sick, twisted kind of affection for his grandson.

“You always did catch on quickly, Jasper. The answer is quite simple: you.” He smiled, and glanced to one of the women flanking him. Her scent was dimly familiar to Jasper, and he recognized her as a colleague of his father’s from some centuries ago. She was lovely in every sense, from the dewy skin to the large, emerald-green eyes to the short, fawn-colored hair. Her expression was as carefully-neutral as his, but the reason he noticed her at all was the syringe she withdrew from the pocket of a lab coat. “The terms are thus: you come with me and do as I ask, and your friends all get to live. I’ll even give the girl her memories, though I cannot and will not restore her humanity.”

Jazz scowled, allowing his displeasure to be clear. The other girl, her hair a strange silver blue and her eyes the same color, shifted slightly, but otherwise, nobody moved. “She goes with them.” Fenrir stiffened and his lips pulled back from his teeth, but Theodor’s amusement only seemed to grow.

“Very well, but there is one more thing…” Jasper was unsurprised. An additional demand from him yielded an additional demand from his grandfather. “You end your farcical engagement to the pathetic thin-blood.”

His jaw tightened at the disrespect, and one of his hands curled into a fist at his side, but if he was not careful with his words, he knew they could all die, and he would be unable to stop it alone. “Takahashi’s blood claim?”

Theodor snorted. “Won’t come back to haunt her, I assure you. And really, you have nothing but my assurances right now.” The point was clear: he wasn’t really in any position to be making demands, and they both knew it. Jasper swallowed thickly, casting a glance back at his family. They were in a sorry state, and he was the one who had brought them to it. Perhaps this was simply the punishment that crime deserved. Either way, this was the only thing he could do to protect them. His eyes lingered on Nikki last of all, and when he spoke, it was to her.

“Then I, by binding word, do so annul my betrothal contract to Nikki Alistair, and renounce my blood claim.” He forced himself to look at her when he said it, because it hurt more that way. He hoped she understood that this, he was doing for her sake, as Nikki. He couldn’t imagine it hurt her as much as him; she hadn't asked for this in the first place. But he could no longer deny that it did hurt him. But he had to protect them, no matter the cost to himself.

“Excellent,” Theodor said, brushing his hands together as though clearing them of dirt. “Freya, the girl, if you will.” Despite his phrasing, there was evidently no choice in the matter for the older of the two women, who moved forward with a liquid grace until she crouched near Vincent and Ava. She looked at him for a moment, and it seemed almost that she was staring right through him. Her smile was minute, but present all the same.

“I won’t hurt her, Lord Kuragari. I only wish to give her back to you.” So saying, she poked the syringe in Ava’s arm an depressed the plunger. The red liquid within drained into the girl’s system. “She will wake hungry,” Freya warned, “But hospital blood bags should be able to take care of that, and then the pills will work just fine. She’s a pureblood more th