Discussion in 'The Queen of Cups' started by Zin, Jul 7, 2016.
Placeholder for Albedo's solo thread.
~ Hello Elena. ~
It’s growing easier to sneak out at night the more often you do it, even with your mother growing more and more concerned the longer your brother has been missing. Stuffing a few pillows under your blanket, shutting your door firmly, and slipping out a window is still enough to leave her frazzled, overworked mind with some semblance of peace as you prepare to move into the night and begin your search.
You’ve gotten even better at it, over the last few weeks, as your expeditions become more and more common and your desperation to find your brother grows all the greater. Practice has made knowing how to slip out in the dark almost muscle memory already, letting you move almost silently as you make your way into the night.
You make your way across the lawn, the dewy grass lit by moonlight. The air is comfortably cool and the moon is high and full in the sky.
You’re slipping off to the center of town, where there’s a bar you’d followed your brother to a few times when he didn’tknow you were behind him…. Maybe you’ll find a few clues to his disappearance among the regulars… if you can get any to talk to you, anyway.
It's a Friday night, which means that town is busy. Maybe the bartender doesn't care - he sure didn't seem to, the other times Elena snuck in. But she knows she doesn't belong in a bar; she's too small and slight to pretend to be an adult, and adults like to worry about her. Which is dumb. It's not like she's trying to drink, so why should it matter if she's in a bar?
Being small and slight has its advantages, though. She'll try to slip inside just behind a couple who smell like alcohol and... gross stuff. They aren't paying attention, and the door doesn't even have time to close before she's following them inside, sneaking along the wall farthest from any bartenders or other employees who might kick her out.
Maybe if she can find a nice dark corner, and someone who's drunk, she can coax them into talking before she's noticed.
As she approaches the most likely table, she slides one hand into her pocket, gripping her Swiss Army Knife for reassurance. It'll be fine. She's not a kid, and it's idiotic to be nervous, just because she's talking to strange, drunk adults.
The couple are far too busy with each other to notice you - and the bartender is a little too busy eyeing them up as potential trouble. It's easy, very easy, and the number of customers means it's easy to go unnoticed. The employees have bigger things to worry about than someone's possible kid looking for them inside.
The man at the table is half-slouched in his booth, but sits up as Elena approaches. It takes a moment, but she recognizes him as one of the regulars, though she is not sure if she's seen him talking to her brother.
He's pale, kind of sickly looking, with his black hair a bit too long to be businesslike and sticking to his forehead from sweat. His glass of beer is still full, untouched, beads of condensation slowly sliding down to gather on the table, next to the coaster he left unused.
"....hey. I've seen you in here before." He tilts his head. "Didn't think you'd come near here without your big brother..."
She can't keep the flare of triumph from her face, when he says that. Maybe he knows something! He looks kind of weird, but he doesn't seem scarily drunk, and she doesn't think a stranger will do anything too bad in public. And he's talking to her.
She nods, biting her lip and widening her eyes in the way that sometimes makes her eyes water. Adults want to help a kid who's crying, and if he's trying to comfort her, maybe he won't ask too many questions. "I thought maybe he came in here. Do you know where he is?"
She resents needing to manipulate and look cute to get answers, instead of being taken seriously. But no one takes someone her age seriously, and she'll do ... she'll do whatever she has to.
The man studies Elena for a moment, then smiles slightly. “…ah, I get it. Your big brother hasn’t been around home for awhile, either, has he?” He runs a hand through his hair, straightening up and leaning lazily against the seat of his booth.
“Well… I might be able to help you with that, but…” He glances around the room, then back towards Elena, expression conspiratorial. “…there are people who wouldn’t want you to find him. People here who are probably trying to listen already to make sure you can’t find him.”
His gaze raises, pointedly tracking a young woman as she crosses the room and slips into a table within earshot, then he turns his eyes to stare into Elena’s, brows arched.
No. He hasn't, and she's frantic. She has to find him.
She freezes, watching the woman with wide eyes, before turning her attention back to the man. "... Come on."
It's not safe to say anything inside, if an enemy is listening in. She slips outside with less care for stealth, still watching that woman. Is she some kind of spy? Or just a well-meaning adult, who'll try to make her go home?
This man is scary - he's a big, strange adult - but he's a potential ally. The only ally she has. So she'll lead him to the alley next to the bar, rubbing her Swiss Army Knife nervously. "Is it safe to talk here, or do we have to go further?"
“Good idea,” The man nods, standing, and follows easily behind Elena, not quite on her toes, but certainly closer than is entirely comfortable for a stranger – but possibly close enough to be waved off for a concerned ally, particularly with how his eyes move to make sure they’re not followed outside.
“…yes, I think this is perfect,” he assures her calmly, smiling slightly and taking a few strides forwards, catching her arm lightly and guiding her further back into the darkness, towards a dumpster. “No, we should be out of sight, in case someone recognizes you. Plenty of people are… upset with your brother. They’d hate to know I’m helping you, and it would be my head on the line.”
She's tense, clutching her knife tight, but she'll ignore his closeness for now. She can't keep herself from flinching when he grabs her, even though she's trying to be sweet and convincing, gain his favor so he'll help her.
"Why are they upset? What happened?"
It smells gross back here, of garbage and puke, and she'll try to avoid going back too far. But... she appreciates the need for secrecy. She hadn't thought anyone would really recognize her...
"Why wouldn't they be upset?" He asks, nudging her towards a hidden corner. "Your brother hasn't exactly been making friends, lately."
His grip on her arm gets firmer as his gaze turns from the entrance of the alleyway to focus on her, and he smiles, a little too wide. "Which isn't exactly smart , is it? Apparently you're just about as clever as he is, though."
One hand moves to grab for Elena's hair, fingers curling tightly - or trying to.
(( Please roll Strength plus Brawl. If you beat 3 successes, Elena gets free. If you want to use your knife instead of trying to get loose, you can roll strength + weaponry + 1. ))
(Weaponry pool = (2 + 0 + 1). Roll: 1, 7, 4. Failure.)
She startles back into the wall, trying to struggle away. Her mouth has gone dry, breath catching in her throat when she tries to scream. She's too used to being silent, secret, managing things for herself.
She tries to flick out her knife, open it fast in the way she's practiced, but there isn't enough room between her and the dumpster. Her elbow bashes into the wall behind her, hard enough to make her whine in animal fear and pain.
No. No. It can't end like this. She has to get away. She jerks to the side, trying to rip out of his grasp; it'll hurt her scalp, but that doesn't matter right now.
The man’s grip tightens and he jerks her head closer, face splitting at the corners of his mouth as his pupils dilate until they encompass the whole of his eyes, a pitch-black and locked on her as he chuckles, low and mean. “Most children these days know better than to trust strangers, particularly those who encourage misbehavior,” he purrs, baring a wide mouthful of utterly inhuman teeth, long and sharp, with two pronounced canines that look like they’re the size of Elena’s pinky fingers.
”It’s a pity, really, young blood is always the most delicious. But… well. Your brother was an excellent example of a bad influence, wasn’t he?” The man’s laugh echoes, cold, as a long black tongue runs over his teeth. “…but I suppose that doesn’t matter, now does it? I do so love it when dinner walks into my arms.”
She stares, terrified, at him. Monster. Monster.
She's barely listening to what he says, staring at those teeth, eyes looking around desperately for any opening.
So she does what any twelve-year-old girl would do, and tries to knee him in the groin. Repeatedly. Hard.
(( Elena deals two bashing damage to the soft bits! ))
He grunts, then snarls as Elena's knee impacts, then his jaw seems to go all the wider. "Just for that, I'm going to make this-"
His threat is cut off by a solid, meaty thumpcrack of impact, hand going loose in Elena's hair and leaving her free as he's propelled backwards by a blow to the face. She feels shards of wood and something that feels like ceramic rain against her skin as a young man steps in between her and her assailant, casually kicking an empty glass beer bottle into his hand as he drops his broken skateboard.
She moves to bolt as soon as his grip loosens, darting behind her rescuer, out of arm's reach of either of them. Then she pauses, waiting to see what they'll do.
"He's a monster," she says quietly, staring. "Are you going to kill him?"
She slides her knife out of her pocket, opening it up and holding it at the ready. Just in case.
"Well, yeah . Kind of?" the young man replies, giving the bottle in his hand a quick smack against the dumpster to leave the bottom jagged, not turning towards Elena. "He might be technically dead already, but either way... no one wants things that eat people hanging around in their hometown."
The monster stirs, reaching up and pulling a jagged shard of wood from its face. A heartbeat later, the young man is slammed against the dumpster, at first with a yelp, then with a giddy, adrenaline-high laugh. "Oh, Hah, You're quick -"
"That bottle isn't going to save you," the monster's voice rattles out as the two struggle for control, the young man losing the bottle in a shower of glass shards within seconds... though he manages to keep its' maw at arm's length.
It looks like he needs a helping hand...
He's a vampire, right? Vampires die from stakes to the heart, and there's shattered wood all over. Maybe if she can stab him with one... he'll die. But she'll have to get the aim right, because wood in his face didn't do anything.
Despite herself, she's smiling slightly, echoing her rescuer's smile. Maybe he'll help her. Maybe he'll be a real ally.
He's a vampire or some kind of fairy, she thinks. Wood or iron. So she grabs the biggest chunk of wood she can, and tries to stab him with it, trying to slit his throat with her knife for good measure.
He hurt when she kicked him in the balls. She can hurt him. She can do this.
She has to. She doesn't think she's fast enough to run away from a man that much bigger than her, if he wins.
The monster and the young man are distracted, still fighting, the monster hissing and spitting -
Then gurgling as Elena's knife manages to gouge his throat, thick black blood beading up and glopping down onto her hand as her hands find the perfect spot. Splinters dig into her fingers, but the body gives way with surprising ease, like the skin over his chest is just a thin covering over a bloated bag of gas and meat -
The smell is terrible, the sensation of the molasses-thick black blood sucking at her hand as she shoves the stake home, hard.
The monster goes limp, collapsing on Elena and the young man, unhinged jaw hanging loose and useless.
Elena scrambles a few steps away, again, trying to clean her hand, her knife, on her clothes. She's still clinging to her knife and the stake like her only lifelines, unwilling to give them up, even long enough to get the monstrous blood off her hands.
"Are you gonna try to eat me, now?"
She'd stab him too if she had to. She would.
Her hands are starting to shake, as the adrenaline wears off, her eyes still fixed on the monster.
The stake refuses to come loose and has to be abandoned in the body.
"What? Ew. He- er. Heck no."
The young man gives a weak little laugh, staring at the body a moment before looking at her, running a hand through his hair and chewing his lower lip before his gaze settles on her. "...are you injured?"
He grabs the hem of his shirt and pulls it off, then walks over and sinks into a crouch, holding it out to Elena. "Uh. You might want to try and get that stuff off. I... think it's blood. But that thing smelled super nasty, so... if you've got any cuts, we should get those looked at."
Another pause. "...and my name's Nick. Nick Pierce. I'm one of the good guys." He offers a big, crooked, good-natured grin.
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