Rise of Shadows

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Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:44 pm

“Burn the witch,” the crowd chanted with savage fervor, raising their torches and their voices toward the heavens, beseeching deliverance from the great evil that had befallen the small town of Warninglid, England.

I had only just arrived in town a few days prior to the trial, if you could call it that. It was more of an execution, the last few minutes of a young woman’s life, which were consumed by a mixture of sounds, including shouted insults, the snaps of branches as they were piled beneath her feet, and the sobbing pleas of the woman herself, no more than sixteen years of age by the look of her. I could scant believe the level of brutality an angry mob could achieve with only the most minimal ingredients. Fabricate a few truths, mix them with coincidence, and add a dash of fear and hatred… that was all one needed to take the life of an otherwise innocent person.

This girl, who stood at the gates of hell, had not been named by me as a witch. She was no monster, either. She was human, and frightened. “Stop,” I shouted from my horse. “Stop!” My voice carried itself over the tumultuous crowd, though it required several applications before successfully silencing the mob. After several moments, all eyes were on me, and mine were on them. “This woman has made no pacts with devils or demons, and she is just as human as the rest of you. She did not call the blood-suckers to your town. Release her now.”

The mob hesitated. Quiet murmurs gently washed over them like the coming tide, until a singular voice spoke up. It was the voice of the constable, a glutinous man whose name escaped me. “She has been tried! Evidence was offered and accepted! You have no authority to interrupt her execution.”

“I have the only right,” I shouted in reply, my tone sharp and my words pointed. I never liked him anyway, holding as much respect for him as I did to the pigs that wallowed in their own filth. “You know my name and my reputation. If you burn an innocent woman, you… all of you… will be held accountable for your crimes, and no amount of distance or prayer or will save you.” I drew my sword and touched my heels to my horse’s torso, prompting it to move forward. The mob parted before me, until I reached the bundle of sticks. Carefully I cut her bindings, then helped her onto the back of my horse. She clung to my waste as I turned us about, once again cutting though the crowd.

We heard their whispers, but I chose to ignore them. Once we were sufficiently away from the group, I flicked the reigns and, after asking for the location, arrived at the girl’s home. “Gather your possessions and your family. You leave immediately. A carriage will come to your door. Take only what you need and what you cannot bear to live without and get on. Do not speak to the driver. He will deliver you to your new town, and give you a package that will include your new identities. Speak nothing of any of this.” She nodded and thanked me, then ran as quickly as she could into her home.

Relieved, I headed back toward the center of town and awaited nightfall. The vampires that had been supposedly plaguing Warninglid could only come out at night, after all. I would wait there until I saw anything suspicious, or until one attacked me. They’d meet a swift end at my hands either way, so being patient and waiting in one place was not a horrible way to spend my time.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:19 pm

Night fell over the town, and while most retreated inside, the creatures of the night crawled out of their hiding spaces to terrorize the darkness.

"I do not wish for her to follow me around this evening. She takes all the enjoyment from the hunt."

"There is no choice, it is her deathday, 50th, and he commands she be escorted. You know how he favors her."

"But it is such a chore!"

I heard the conversation drift through the door, as the two who were to take me out that evening complained, taking longer than normal, probably hoping I would leave myself and free them of their responsibility. But I did not. I was fond of Lorin, he was kind to me and did not push me to become like the others. I held no complaint, I loved my family, they were quick to accept me into their nest, and they (somewhat begrudgingly) took care of me though I am strange, but Lorin was terribly frightening if one went against his orders. So, even though I was being insulted, I stayed where I was.

They eventually got over themselves and exited their room and led me outside. The moon was shining brightly, casting a beautifully eerie glow across the road, and it made me smile. Even though I missed the sun, I was still glad for the moons beauty and light.

I supposed it was odd to see two women with one man, but it was night and we did not recieve strange glances, only assumptions that we were both for him. I wondered with my Lorin was, but he said he would come to us later as he would hate to miss my 'big day'.

"Lia, find someone and have your snack, we know you never finish your food. We will have to clean up after you." They teased me and laughed, but I just shook my head, a bad feeling rising within me as a shadow crossed the moon. "What do you mean no? Clearly you are touched in the head. Look at him," Gillen grabbed my head and turned me to face a man, probably drunk, slumped in an alleyway. "Tell me you do not wish to tear his throat out and drink until your mind goes numb."

"I.. I would not like that at all.." I murmured, averting my eyes.

"Look at him!" Gillen hissed shaking me, all while Nicaise stood by giggling.

"Stop it." I protested, watching Nicaise slink through the shadows towards the downed man.

"You will learn to be like the rest of us! It is not natural to be so... Soft. Now look!" He held me tightly as my eyes widened, Nicaise whispering in the drunk mans ear, her mouth dangerously close to his neck. I could see the point of her fangs even in the darkness.

"Stop..!" I jerked back into my male companion as Nicaise mercilessly tore into the inebriated man. He made not a sound as the female drained him, Gillen laughing behind me.

"You will learn." Finally released from his grip, he pushed me forward and I stumbled, my whole body shaking. It was not only out of fear of the other two (for I hated to go with them at night), but an unease that had crept upon me. Something was wrong.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:01 pm

The hours began to wear on. Occasionally someone would approach me and try to spark up a conversation. Most of them I sent away immediately, telling them simply that I was not interested in arguing their politics or policies. A few seemed genuine enough, coming to me with questions, or even offering to bring me food or drink, which I accepted gratefully. My horse waited for me in the stable, having been led away, reins in the hand of a young stable boy. He seemed a sturdy enough lad, possibly twelve years under his belt. His sandy hair made me think of hay, the very hay my horse Ansil was likely feasting on at that very moment.
At the same time as all this was happening, I couldn’t help but feel a distinct amount of regret. People knew me, knew of my arrival and what I had been doing there. It wasn’t how I usually liked to do things, preferring instead to be as subtle as possible. Here, though, in Warninglid, people knew the sight of my face as well as they knew those of their own children. It didn’t make my job there impossible, though it had become significantly more challenging.

My patience was beginning to wear down as the evening dragged along. The moon was high in the sky, and I was preparing to move to a different location. A light fog was accumulating atop the cobblestone streets as the temperature descended, settling into a cool, humid night. My patience found a quiet reward, in the form of a soft voice floating on the wind like ashes. To anyone else, it would have sounded simply like someone enjoying themselves in the cool night air, but my finely-tuned senses told me otherwise. The body that produced the sounds, or bodies, was not human.

I was up and moving immediately, though my pace was slow. I wanted to be silent, as many members of the supernatural fauna possessed an uncanny sense of hearing. Creeping ever closer, the voices gaining volume with every step, I stepped out of the shadows and peered down the alley.

"Evening. Nice night for a stroll..."

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:34 am

"I do not wish to learn, not from you." I snapped, turning on my heel to go back towards home.

"If not from me then from who?" Gillen grabbed my arm, his eyes narrowed.  

"No one. I do not need to be fixed." I yanked myself away from Gillen and stepped back, watching his lips curl into a snarl.

"Where are you going?" He hissed.

"I am going home. I no longer--" I paused midsentance and glanced past Gillen to the mouth of the alleyway. A man stood there, closer to Nicaine than to anyone else, if he could see in the dark like they could he would be able to see the blood dripping from her chin and onto her chest.

Immediately my bad feeling grew and I stepped back, trying to put myself as deep into the shadows as I could. He smelled wrong, not like a human but not like us, just... Wrong.

"It is dangerous to be walking alone at night, you know." Gillen faced the man with a smile on his face.

"Gillen.." I whispered, my unease making it nearly impossible to speak.

"What brings you out tonight?" He ignored me and stepped closer to the man, his smile devious.

"Gillen..." I pressed, my tone urgent.

"Shut up, girl! You may not want to eat, but I do." He snapped, turning to glare at me. I recoiled and pressed myself further into the darkness, my back against the building. Something bad was going to happen, I just knew it.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:44 pm

I shouldn’t have smiled. This was serious work that I was doing. Dealing with vampires, or any other predator, was always meant to be done with reverence and respect. The moment you stop taking the work seriously is the moment that it chews you up and spits you out like a piece of rotting meat, leaving you mangled and near death.

I shouldn’t have smiled. But I did anyway.

“Dangerous… yes. You never know who you might run into.” I kept my stance loose and nonchalant, teasing the group and testing their resolve. I knew what they were the moment I spotted them, though whether or not they knew me for who and what I was remained a mystery. One of them, a girl, sank back into the shadows, masking her presence, leaving her only barely visible. I doubt a normal human would have been able to make out the contours of her body even if they stood right next to her. Her eyes, however, were the dead giveaway for me. No matter how well she hid her physical frame inside the shadows, her eyes shined as brightly as the moon itself to me.

I reached into my pocket and pulled a hand-rolled cigarette from a small metal container, then withdrew a box of matches. I struck the match against the wall and used it to light paper and tobacco. The burn of the smoke filled my lungs, but I didn’t have to worry about any damage to my body. I could feel it, but nothing would come of it. “Take me, for example,” I continued, taking a few slow, meandering steps in their direction. The cold of the alleyway closed in around me, but did nothing to cool the fire in my blood, hot as lava and ready to flow over.

“There are two kinds of people in this world that you don’t want to run into: People like you, and people like me. People like you, as that poor soul just discovered, are here to feast and prey upon the sheep of the world. You kill without regard, and without realizing that the blood of the innocent has tainted you. Even now it is working its way through your bodies.” I looked at the other female, the one closest to me. “Do you feel it yet? Worming through your veins like a parasite? You see that blood gives you away to people like me. For you see…” I paused, stopping my forward motion and turning my gaze back to the three.

“You may be the wolves in this story, but I am the hunter, and to me you are nothing more than empty pelts.”

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:11 pm

I stared at the man, feeling my dread rise within me. I was right. He was something beyond human, and we should have left the second he showed up. Of course, Gillen had to prove he was the baddest, and most dangerous, so he wasn't going to go anywhere. He had been up against countless hunters and survived while they, clearly, had not. So, he was unafraid.

He should have been afraid.

"You think us fearful of you? I have faced my share of your kind and have prevailed. I will gladly add your head to my collection." Gillen goaded with a man eating grin.

Nicaise cackled, her smile matching his, both closing in on the man. I retreated further back, a sick feeling welling within me that I couldn't place. He was a hunter, but he was not normal. He was not like those we had fled from before. I wanted nothing more than to run back home, gather Lorin and flee. In order to do so, however, I would need to bypass all three of them, and I would not make it. I knew I wouldn't.

"So, Hunter man, are you willing to try your hand against us? I fear you will lose."

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:25 pm

"Damn right you fear," I muttered, my tone having shifted from airy to deadly. In the time it took to blow out a candle I was on the move. The nearest bloodsucker, a woman whose laugh could cause a man to take his own life, was an easy mark. I could have taken her in a flash, but doing so might have given the alpha of their pack enough time to flee or start an assault all on his own. I bypassed her, uttering a word under my breath as I shoved hard on her neck. Her body slammed into the wall next to her as I moved by, my target already marked.

In a flash my hand was on it, the cool metal handle pressing against my palm as I drew the dagger from its sheath. Gillen, as I had caught from the whimpering girl in the shadow, was no slouch, but he was not prepared for my speed. How could he have been? To have any inkling as to what I was or the power I possessed required special traits, one that someone could only be born with. He, obviously, did not possess the necessary qualities, so when the silver blade pierced his skin and plunged between his ribs, his mouth hung open, wide with disbelief.

I twisted the blade as I pressed forward, ramming him against a stone pillar. His hands gripped my arms and squeezed tightly, his fingernails digging into my flesh like rusted nails, but I did not relent. His fingers then wrapped around my neck as he tried to choke me, but it was too late. Already his dark and corrupted heart was hemorrhaging blood and withering away until there was nothing left. Gillen, the alpha of the hunting pack, was lay slain at my feet.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:11 pm

I was going to be sick.

I watched with wide, horrified eyes as Gillen was taken down by the man. Easily. Nicaise was enraged and snarling, screaming out whether in pain from whatever he'd done or the fact that Gillen lay dessicated at his feet I was unsure. It was an awful sound and rang out in the deserted streets, no doubt the towns humans could hear and we're probably quaking with fear in their homes.

I wanted to escape, desperately, but I could not find the strength to move. He was now closer to me than Nicaise, and I felt myself sink down to the dirty ground as the realization came over me that I was about to die. It didn't matter that I was not like the rest of them, it didn't matter that I hadn't intentionally killed anyone, it didn't matter that I didn't kill for the sport of it. The only thing that mattered to him was what I was, and that I deserved to die.

I felt tears rolling down my face, hot against my icy skin, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from him. From my peripheral vision I could see Gillens crumpled body, and I saw Nicaise past him near the mouth of the alleyway, but I didn't look at either of them. I just stared at the Hunter, my whole body trembling. This was where I was going to die.

"Please.. I do not wish to die..."

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop myself, barely a whisper on the wind. I knew he would hear me. No normal human would be able to, but I knew he would.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:37 pm

Two vampires left. One, really, as the other whimpered like a lost kitten as she sat on the cold cobblestone, her eyes still shining, glistening at the tears welled beneath them. The other, much more defiant, hissed with rage as she stared at me. Perhaps I had just killed her lover, her malevolent partner in their eternal masquerade. Her anger was unmistakable, though I felt no remorse. She, like Gillen, was a predator, an animal gone completely feral. She would kill again if left to live, and I had no qualms with killing a vampire of either gender.

My steely resolve melted away ever so slightly, allowing a smirk to surface on my pink lips, warm with life. I tapped my throat and flicked my head toward her. Her hissing ceased as her fingertips grazed her skin where I had grabbed her before. The imprint of my palm and fingers, still dark against her snow-like skin, began to grow warmer until it glowed like freshly running magma from an active volcano. The vampire began to panic, grasping her throat desperately, as if covering the wound would be enough to staunch the melting of her flesh.

She screamed, but only for a moment. It turned quickly into a sickening sputtering, a gurgling as the last of her air pushed out through the now gaping hole in her esophagus. Seared shut, her throat convulsed underneath the burn as it fought to recover. A valiant effort, though completely useless. She, too, fell into a heap, her limbs spasming, fingernails digging into the rock beneath my feet until she moved no more.

With two dispatched, I turned my attention to the last member of the group. The fire in my eyes, the very fire that burned in the Infernal Pit, burned brightly, causing my eyes to generate nearly the same effect. The effect was imperceptible to humans, but I knew this young woman... this vampire... would see it well enough. I stared into her eyes, and she stared back into mine, locked against her will as I viewed her very soul.

"Remember my face, for if you stray off your path, you'll see me again."

Crowds were gathering. I could see torchlight heading up the street. In seconds the humans would be upon both of us. "Damsel in distress, or make a run for it. Your choice, but choose now."

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:56 pm

Nicaise was gone. Gillen was gone. I should have rejoiced as I loathed them both, but I remained frozen, soft gasping the only noise I could make. He had dispatched them so easily, and it would seem rightly so. He had fire within him, burning hot and fierce, no immortal I knew could go toe to toe with him and survive. I had never seen such a display.

It terrified me. Even as he warned to remember his face lest I fall to the same fate I knew I would never forget, even if I wanted to.

The street began to light up as humans drew to the source of the screaming and I had a choice to make. I flicked my gaze to the street and back again to the Hunter. I may have been able to escape had I eaten or not trembled as such, but now I could barely stand on my own let alone run from humans who thought they could kill me. I could kill them myself but they had done nothing to me, they were innocents, I couldn't harm them.

"Damsel." I murmured, making my decision.

If it seemed as if he had saved me from the monsters I knew Nicaise and Gillen were then I could get home and flee with Lorin. I never wanted to see this mans face ever again if I could help it, and if I had to pretend to be a weak frightened girl [which wasn't too far from the truth at this point] then I would gladly do so.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:19 pm

"So shall it be," I said quietly, taking the trembling girl by the wrist and carefully, but firmly, pulling her upright. Perhaps it was a questionable action, letting her live. She was undead, after all, a denizen of the night that viewed human beings as little more than food and entertainment. But her soul, though tainted, gave away her true nature. There was a killer beneath the quaking, near catatonic visage, but not a truly evil creature. She was a killer as I was, capable but careful.

The first few humans came around the corner, their torches pushing away the blanket of darkness and illuminating the corridor. They stopped just short of the entrance as the light fell over my foes, their bodies continuing to wither slowly. Their eyes flicked between the bodies, the woman, and myself, and several tense moments passed in complete silence. Even the crickets ceased their songs.

"You have done this, sir? You have vanquished the ones plaguing our town?" Relief brought my muscles some relaxation and the fire in my eyes slowly died down to my pupils were little more than embers.

"It is too early to tell whether or not the work is completed. But these creatures shall haunt your streets no longer. I caught them just before they made this woman their next meal, though this man was not so fortunate. Make sure he receives a proper burial, and pray that his soul finds rest."

"And what of her, sire?" The leader of the mob pointed toward the last remaining vampire. "Was she bitten? Will she turn? Should we not burn her just to be safe?" The crowd behind him chimed in then, every single one of them shouting that she be destroyed. It was a chorus of death and hatred.

"Who is she?!" "I don't know her." "She's an outsider!"

"No," i declared forcefully, their torches nearly extinguished by a sudden southerly wind. "You do not want her blood on your hands, or her spirit will haunt you and your families for generations to come. I will take her away from town and kill her myself."

Seemingly content by my promise, the crowd collected the human body and left the two dead-again vampires to waste away into nothingness on the street. I turned to her and spoke softly so that we would not be heard. "You cannot return to your den. I cannot allow that. I will take you away from here and deposit you somewhere where you may start over."

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:37 pm

It came as no surprise that the humans wanted to kill me. Anything or anyone unknown must have meant magic or undead and had to be put to death. I wasn't quite sure why Lorin had picked this place to hide away. Perhaps it was the humans themselves, having killed more innocents than I. Perhaps he thought I would have no qualms with feeding on less than worthy subjects. Whatever the reason I only wanted to leave.

It also came as no surprise that he would not let me go back and warn the rest of the family. He was smart. I had little worries over that, however, as Lorin could find me a there, a perk of his being my creator. Knowing that he would find me when the coast was clear, I felt less uneasy.

"Thank you, sir." I murmured softly. He could have killed me, and he might still, but at that time he chose not to. Maybe he could see my nature in me as I could see it in him. Maybe he was just making a mockery of me like the others had, not worried that I would be a ravenous killer because he saw me a weak and pathetic excuse for what I was.

It mattered not the reason he spared me, but he had, and manners were not lost upon me. Turning my gaze at the receding gaggle of humans, I watched their lights disappear into the darkness, but I continued to stare that way, afraid if I looked at the Hunter I would be caught again in his fiery gaze.

"How far will you take me? The sun is coming soon, and I cannot be in it." Of course he knew this, given the ease with which he destroyed my kin, but I felt the need to break the silence. I didn't want for it to become awkward or boring; he may kill me then.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:16 pm

The murmurs became increasingly distant until they disappeared completely, leaving the vampire and me in silence once again. Slowly the sounds of the world began to return to the night. The crickets returned to their songs, and the crackling of distant fires could be heard on occasion. My mind was never silent, however. I was already working out the details surrounding her escape and what would happen to her after leaving her... wherever I ended up leaving her. I didn't care much for not having a plan, so her statement of gratitude was not heard immediately.

"Oh," I finally said, having realized that she had spoken to me. "Don't thank me. I didn't do anything extraordinary, and it was not personal. You have a good soul, that's all." With her wrist still surrounded by my fingers, I escorted her away from the grizzly scene and back out into the main road, heading toward the stable. I would have to get a carriage, if there was one available.

"The next town is a day out by train, but it won't leave until after dawn. Where is your lair?"

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:36 pm

"You know I cannot tell you, yet still you ask. Even if I were to tell you they would be long gone before your return." I allowed him to lead me without knowing where we were going. He mentioned the next town over, but was that not too close? Surely word would have spread of the terrors in the night lurking in the area?

Perhaps he spoke it aloud hoping one of my kin were near enough to hear and tell Lorin, and set up a trap for him? He couldn't be that stupid to naively do so. Even he must have known that Gillen and Nicaise were at least three times my own age, and he had to know the rest were even older.

"Even if you think gratitude is not needed, I offer it anyway. You could have chosen very differently, good soul or not, and you did not." I glanced up at him, sideways, studying the profile of his face. "If it is too much a burden to remove me from this place, I can do so myself. I shan't return here. I do not want to."

I wasn't so delusional to think that he would just release me on the edge of town, but what I said was true. I despised that town, and was glad to let Gillen and Nicaise rot with it.

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Machine Man on Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:51 pm

"You'd be surprised how much one can accomplish just by asking questions. I try to never make assumptions." The poor girl had just been subjected to one of my favorite mottos. On several occasions I had been able to obtain the information I needed simply by asking for it. I didn't think she would actually tell me, but how would I know that for sure if I didn't ask?

At the stables my horse was waiting for me, freshly fed and brushed. "Wait here a moment," I commanded, the weight of my words heavier than a house. True, she could easily take off, or try to ambush another human, but I suspected that was unlikely. She needed a way out of town and I was her most promising option.

"Boy," I called to the young one who took the reins from me prior to meeting the female vampire. "You'll need to keep my horse here for a while. He is not a fan of the locomotive and I must travel immediately."

"Yessir," he replied, nodding quickly. "The stablemaster will want to be..."

"Yes, I suspect so. He is running a business, after all." My interruption startled the young squire, as did the weight of the bag of coin I placed in his open palm. "That should more than cover your master's fees. The rest you may keep, but only by taking care of my stallion first over the others. If I return and find my horse in less than acceptable conditions, I will be expecting a return on my deposit." I'm not sure if he heard my threat, so enamored was he by the bit of burlap in his hand, but it didn't matter.

With the matter well-settled, I returned to where I had left the young woman, pausing for a moment to consider a piece of information that I still lacked. "What should I call you? I cannot just call you vampire or young miss."

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Re: Rise of Shadows

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:05 pm

Patiently I waited for him to return from inside the stable. I could have run away but I had no inclination to leave and possibly lead him back to where we were staying so I chose to remain where I was. I wasn't worried or anything, quite content to have a moment alone with my thoughts. I still had a bit of anxiety that he would kill me on the road to where ever he chose to drop me off, but if that was his intention I was as good as dead anyway so why bother.

Upon his return he asked my name. I saw no harm in providing it. "Adalia, sir, and may I ask yours?"

I wasn't sure if he would provide me his name, he had every right to be apprehensive in doing so. If I were more of a monster like my kin I may use his name to hunt him down and eat him. I had no intention to do so, but it was common for my species to relish in the hunt and tear apart those who provoked us. I knew that if Gillen were alive he would do just that.

I absently wondered if Lorin would. Maybe he wouldn't if I asked him not to. I had no desire to ever see this man again after we parted ways.

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