“Please. My kids are so thirsty.”
Thursday night, 17 March 2016, PM
GM: Dani and Celia take the former’s car to Edith’s.
Or they can take Celia’s car. Dani’s fine either way.
“…so she knows a lot about duskborn, you’d said?” asks the thin-blood as the Quarter rolls past.
Celia: Dani’s car is fine. Celia makes sure to bring the blood.
“She has a duskborn child. A little girl she adopted who was Embraced. They’ve been together a long time.”
GM: Dani looks faintly horrified.
“People Embrace little kids?”
Celia: “…yeah. Sometimes. Not a lot.”
“It’s really messed up.”
“People ghoul them sometimes too.”
“But, you know, she’s spent a lot of time with her, so she probably knows more than anyone else.”
GM: “I hope so. I have a lot to ask.”
“That is really messed up, though.”
“This is hard enough for an adult.”
Celia: “Just don’t say anything to offend her, yeah? She’s… pretty protective of her brood.”
GM: “I’ll try not to. I don’t have any problem with her, just whoever would do that to a little kid.”
Celia: “Maybe don’t tell your brother I brought you to see her.”
“I don’t think he approves of my friends sometimes.”
GM: “Oh, why’s that?”
“He says he has friends he doesn’t always approve of too.”
“He says it’s pretty hard to find any licks you always approve of.”
“Including, ah, yourself.”
Celia: “It—oh. What did he say?”
GM: “Just that we all do things we regret and wish we could take back at some point.”
“The Beast, and social pressures too.”
“He told how sick he felt in Elysium bragging about those vampire hunters he’d killed.”
Celia: “He told you about that? Killing them?”
GM: “Yeah. And how… he had to chop up and dump their bodies,” Dani says slowly.
Celia: Celia sighs. “Yeah. He did.”
“We got jumped.”
GM: “What a horrible position to be in.”
Celia: “It’s not his fault.”
GM: “I don’t blame him, and you, for killing them. Even frenzy aside, it was self-defense. They were committing a home invasion and employing lethal force.”
Celia: “I tried to explain that to him.”
“I have to be honest with you, Dani, I don’t regret what I did. I’d do it again if it meant I kept him safe.”
GM: “He agrees with you. He just wishes he’d been able to take them alive instead of killing them.”
“And I agree with him.”
Celia: “Killing them was regrettable.”
GM: “It’s gotten to him, Celia.”
“He sees blood on his hands.”
“He felt like a mobster dumping body parts into the Gulf.”
Celia: She wants to push further, find out what he said about her. But this is… more important.
“I don’t know how to help him, Dani. I don’t know how to make that better. I tried telling him it was self defense, that he saved the both of us, but he…”
GM: “I wish there’d been another way. For his sake.”
“He said that was something he’d been able to hold onto. That he wasn’t a killer.”
“He says licks call it… being a virgin.”
Celia: “They do, yeah.”
“But it wasn’t like that. He didn’t just hulk out and smash something.”
“They invaded his space. Our space. We both would have died.”
GM: “I know. I told him that. That he can still say he’s only ever killed in self-defense, rather than for personal gain.”
“He says he’s going to investigate their families. See what pain their absences have caused and make amends if he can.”
Celia: “Did he already find them? The families?”
GM: “He says he’s still investigating that. They didn’t have a lot of identifying information.”
Celia: “Tell him when he does, I guess, that I’ll… help make reparations. I had a hand in this.”
“He might not have lost if I hadn’t told him…”
GM: “Told him?” Dani asks.
Celia: “I was picked up by hunters. I told you about it, I think. That’s why you’re avoiding the club. I told him what they did to me, and I think if I hadn’t…” She trails off. “It’s my fault, isn’t it? That he killed them?”
GM: She thinks. “Ah, sorry. There’s just been such a big info dump between everything you and your mom and Stephen all have told me.”
Celia: “It’s okay. Not a pretty story. I doubt I told you everything. Will you let me know, though? Or tell him? When he finds them?”
GM: Dani nods.
Celia: “Anything you think will help him?”
GM: “I think this will help. Just making things right with their families. He’d also probably feel better if he found evidence they were bad people—deliberately bad, not just misguided. He said they could’ve thought he was a many-times unrepentant killer for all we know.”
“And maybe they thought they were doing the right thing.”
“But, hell, maybe they didn’t care. Maybe they also beat their wives and kids like your dad.”
“I don’t think Stephen is ever going to be comfortable with nonjudicial killings. I don’t think I’m ever going to be either. But there are degrees of bad and degrees of harm.”
Celia: “Yeah, well, I’d rather not be raped and tortured again on the off chance they’re not bad people.”
“The last pair didn’t think I was bad and they still planned on killing me.”
“But I’ll do what I can to help him out. I guess I just see it differently. He wasn’t the one picked up prior.”
GM: “Oh. You told me you’d been raped, over the phone…”
Celia: Celia effects a snort.
“That was hardly the first time.”
GM: Dani briefly looks away from the road, at Celia’s face.
“Oh my god, Celia, I’m so sorry…”
Celia: “It’s fine. This isn’t about me.”
“I’ve had… years to process.”
GM: Dani looks back towards the road.
“Does it get…?”
Celia: “Easier? Yes and no. Sometimes I still think about it. Sometimes someone touches me and I’m right back to that mindset. Last night someone… well, it doesn’t matter, but I almost froze up again. When I see someone who looks like him. When I hear his name.”
She takes a breath. It does little for her.
“I went through a phase afterward. I slept with everything I could. I thought it made me in control of my body. Like I owned my sexuality. And I did. But he used to… he used to call me a whore. His whore. So I felt like I was… living up to that. Like it was all I’d ever be good for.”
Her eyes find the window.
“Toreador think our clan isn’t cursed. That we can still love. That we’re blessed. And maybe that’s true. But I think, sometimes, that maybe I was cursed to… need it. To need it now. To feel like I’m in control again. To accept physical love in place of mental or emotional love because that’s all I’m worth.”
A tongue pressed against the roof of her mouth keeps her lip from trembling.
GM: More than just a whore.
“I have made a whore of you, Celia,” he would smile with his plastic smile, his fist in her hair and his cock in her mouth.
He never got tired of that phrase. ‘Made a whore of you.’
“My very own teenage whore,” he would repeat, touching her throat as she sucked him off. Touching her cartoid artery, where her pulse was.
It seemed such a strange thing. Like so much of him. Was he checking she was still alive? Didn’t the fact she was sucking him off make that evident? Was it somehow symbolic, insinuating she was only ‘really’ alive while sucking cock? That this was her life’s purpose?
Just that odd little gesture.
“Ah, but let us not leap to conclusions. Perhaps you were already a whore, Celia. Have you performed sexual acts for monetary compensation before? You have taken so well to a whore’s trade, I cannot discount the possibility you are already acquainted with it.”
“You are either an experienced whore, with many previous transactions to be ashamed of, or you are a born natural and suitable for no other purpose.”
Celia: She never knew what he wanted her to say when he asked that. She hadn’t done anything like this with someone before. She’d tried to tell him that. “No,” she’d always say, “I haven’t, I’ve never… yours, you said that—that I’m… yours.” His whore. On her knees, eyes on him, swallowing him down every time. Five hundred dollars.
GM: He’d smiled again at that. Mockingly.
“Then you are a natural-born whore. Why, it sounds almost wholesome.”
e’d released her hair then, to grab both sides of her face, and pumped faster. Like her face was really just another hole. A closable cunt on her neck.
“Your instincts as a prostitute are quite uncanny, my whore. Even without prior experience, you sought out a potential customer and insinuated the exchange of services that might transpire. All without saying a thing, at 19 years old. Perhaps you believe yourself clever, able to enjoy the fruits of a whore’s labor without the self-blame of choosing your profession. Perhaps you even tell yourself you were forced into this. You are not clever, my little whore. You are stupid. My stupid little teenage whore. Your lies and manipulations do not fool me, for I know whores to be dishonest creatures by nature. Only pain may extract truth from them.”
“You chose this, my whore. You sought this out. You always come back. Every week. You enjoy this. This moment is the defining picture of your life, now and forever. Celia—Flores—the—eternal—whore!"
He’d panted with those last words before he pulled out and came over her face. Sticky white semen dripped down her skin. Dribbled over the carpet.
“Eat it, whore. Collect my seed upon your fingers and swallow it all. Or you will be paid $20. It is a typical rate for a cheap, worthless whore who cannot do as she is told. It is equivalent to a hit of crack, in fact.”
Celia: So she had. On her knees, face and lips sticky with his cum, she’d used her fingers to scrape against the white dribbles on the carpet. A glance up at him told her all she needed to know, though, without him saying a word. A moment later she’d bent over, forearms against the ground, to use her tongue to lap it up. Rough fibers mixed with semen touched her lips, wiry and bristly, mingling with the taste of salt.
At least it’s clean, she’d though, absurdly; the house is practically sterile. Spotless. Like there’s no one who actually lives here, just Paul and a horde of maids to clean up after him.
When she was done getting it off the floor she used her fingers on her face, wiping it off before putting those in her mouth as well to lick them clean. She’d swallowed it all.
GM: “Like a dog chasing scraps,” he’d sneered as she licked it up. “What an obedient whore. What an instinctive, natural-born whore. I’m not sure if I should be pleased or disgusted that I do not need to discipline against the use of fingers.”
He’d abruptly spat on her then, when she was finished.
“My saliva is cleaner than you, whore, so you may use it as a cleaning agent for your face.”
He’d given her the money, then. Dropped it on the ground, at his feet, for her to pick up.
“Show yourself out, whore. Your services tonight are no longer required.”
“Crawl. I enjoy the sight of my whore upon her knees.”
That’s how much her self-respect was worth.
$500 a pop.
Celia looks into the car window, and Paul’s plastic face smiles back in the reflection.
Celia: “It was a long time ago,” Celia says, almost to herself. Or maybe to him. “You get past it.”
GM: “You’re worth so much more than that!” Dani exclaims, looking away from the road again. “Your family loves you, just so much. They don’t think that. Stephen doesn’t think that. I don’t think that.”
Celia: Bitter laughter cuts off abruptly when she realizes that Dani is serious.
“Of course he thinks that. He thinks I’m a dumb, worthless whore.”
GM: “What?! He doesn’t, he thinks the world of you!”
Celia: “I saw a vision, Dani, of the future, where he has me chained up like some sort of animal and he says that!”
GM: “What? A vision?”
Celia: “That stupid fortune teller I told you about.”
“I was looking into other things, I didn’t even want for me, and she showed me that.”
GM: “Fortune tellers are full of bullshit. They just want you to come back for more readings.”
Celia: “She’s a lick.”
GM: “Okay, so is… fortune telling actually for real?” Dani looks dubious. “Or could she just be lying about that too?”
“Like, I get… Stephen called it ‘munchies,’ making the Blood do things. Maybe even if she is a real fortune teller she’s just lying because it’s more convenient. Save on some blood.”
Celia: “She wouldn’t have known about him.”
“She used his name. His real name.”
“I’m not sure how you’d pick that up on a cold reading.”
“Maybe she found out some other way?”
Celia: “I wasn’t even asking about me. And no one knows about us. And even if she did know about us, she wouldn’t know the name Stephen.”
GM: “Maybe she was just wrong, then.”
“Because Stephen wouldn’t do that.”
“What possible reason would he?”
Celia: Celia can think of plenty of reasons.
“I don’t know.”
GM: “Okay. How accurate are lick fortune tellers? Can they get stuff wrong?”
Celia: “It’s what might be. It’s not a certainty.”
GM: “Have you gone to many before?”
Celia: Celia shrugs.
“Future isn’t set in stone.”
GM: “Have you told him about this?”
Celia: “How could I?”
“How could I say, ‘hey you turn into a monster?’”
“How could I tell him that maybe it’s my fault because he killed two people for me?”
GM: “Well, the same way you told me.”
“I think he’d want to know. And I think it’d be good to tell him.”
“Just so you can talk about this and face this together. Like couples do.”
“And, hey, maybe he’d have insights or know things that cast the situation in a different light, or give a better sense of what to do.”
“Doesn’t ever hurt to get another opinion.”
Celia: “Or maybe he’ll ask his sire about it because he goes to her for everything and tell her more shit about me she doesn’t need to know.”
GM: “Ask him not to tell her, then.”
“Ask him to promise, if you want to impress how serious this is. Stephen’s good for his word.”
Celia: “We broke up before. Years ago. I told him about the rape.” She gives a short laugh, humorless. “He called me a whore and beat the shit out of me. And then he told her about it.”
Celia: “It happened while we were together.”
GM: Dani’s parked the car. “Okay, maybe… he didn’t mention this, can you clear the air? Because there’s… some kind of happy ending, if you got back together?”
Celia: “I don’t want to add to his stress. It’s not his problem.”
GM: “I think he would consider it his problem, when it’s about him. And you.”
Celia: “He has more important things to worry about than our relationship status and whether or not his girlfriend had a weird vision of the future.”
GM: “He considers your relationship status to be very important.”
Celia: “Not if he apparently doesn’t approve of me.”
GM: Dani looks at her imploringly and touches her shoulder. “Celia… you sound so full of… just, doubt and mistrust and bad thoughts about yourself, and what Stephen thinks about you. It feels really unhealthy.”
“Stephen would want to help you.”
“I want to help you!”
“Can you really see this getting better on its own, by not talking?”
“Maybe you dodge a bullet and nothing happens, but what if something does? What if talking about it and facing it together lets you fix it?”
Celia: “What if he just calls me a whore again and I lose everything?”
GM: Dani gives a faint, disbelieving smile and rubs her shoulder. “Celia, why would he call you a whore and break up over a… fortune teller’s vision? That’s completely silly.”
Celia: Because she’s going to fuck someone else before she goes home to him tonight.
Because she’s in love with her sire.
Because she sold him out to Savoy.
Because she’ll break his bond to Coco with her own to get what she wants.
…even if she doesn’t know what that is anymore.
“Yeah,” she finally says, “I’ll talk to him.”
GM: “Okay, good,” smiles Dani.
“And… what’s the story with your second breakup?”
“I just want to understand better, since it sounds like there’s still a lot of… bad feelings over that.”
Celia: “I cheated on him,” Celia says flatly, “with the guy who raped me.”
GM: “That isn’t cheating. That’s just rape.”
Celia: “I continued to see him. I went to his house. And let him use me. For months.”
Celia: “And when I tried to break it off, he had his friend rape me.”
“And later they came into my house and they did it again.”
GM: “Oh my god, Celia…”
Dani hugs her.
“You didn’t deserve that, okay? I’m so sorry that happened to you…”
“You tried to do the right thing, you tried to end it… that counts.”
Celia: “Does it?”
GM: “Yes!” Dani exclaims, giving her a firmer squeeze. “He thinks it does, I know that.”
Celia: “He didn’t seem to think so when I told him about it.”
GM: “But you said he frenzied, right?”
Celia: “And then refused to speak to me for years.”
GM: “Has he apologized since you got back together?”
Celia: “Yeah,” Celia finally sighs, rubbing at her eyes.
GM: “Well, better late than never. Which is the same thing I’d say about trying to break it off with a rapist.”
Celia: “I found out later he was a ghoul. I don’t doubt there was some sort of mind-fuckery going on at the time.”
GM: “So you might not have even chosen to cheat on Stephen?”
Celia: “I’ve never gone back to ask him, but yeah, there’s a chance.”
GM: “Well, uh, don’t feel like you have to now.”
“But, okay. So you told Stephen about that, and he lost it, and you didn’t speak until a little while ago.”
GM: “How does that fit with the first time he thought you cheated, as a breather? I know he knew about it then.”
“He said you’d dumped him and told him you’d cheated because his love wasn’t enough to overcome years of abuse.”
Celia: “I just told him I cheated on him so he’d leave me alone. I almost lost it on him and killed him. So it wasn’t safe.”
“Then we got back together and he insinuated that because I’m Toreador I’m a slut, then demanded the truth. So I told him the truth.”
GM: Dani winces.
“I don’t… think he was trying to say you were a slut.”
“He can just be a little clueless about this stuff.”
GM: “And he can be pretty self-righteous.”
“It feels like… your relationship has a ton of past baggage.”
GM: “But you want it to work now.”
GM: “So does he. You’re on the same side.”
Celia: “…oh. I guess I never thought about it like that.”
GM: “…that he wants your relationship to work too?”
Celia: “That we’re on the same side.”
“I keep thinking… we’re on different political sides, but… with this, at least, we’re… not.”
GM: “You are. He wants it to work. I know he’s messed up in the past, but he’s sorry and he loves you. He looked so happy when he talked about having your relationship again. He said you’re one of the best things to ever happen to him, and how thankful he is to still have you in his life since becoming a vampire.”
Celia: “Oh,” she says again, more quietly this time.
The best thing that ever happened to him.
And she’s bonded to someone else. Hopelessly in love with someone else. Someone who will never love her like Roderick does. Who hasn’t been through all of the things with her that he has. Who hurts her to teach her the place he has in mind for her: on her knees. Like Paul.
She’d messed up.
She’d really, really messed up.
GM: “He said he likes to carry you. That it’s ‘so Celia,’” Dani smiles, “how you’d be able to find a cute use for a power of the Blood he always just saw as a tool.”
Celia: Cute use? Does she mean Luna?
GM: “Like, I remember when you came over for dinner, when we first met, I said how he was ‘just really into you’ and you smiled back saying you were ‘really into him too…’”
“It just feels like you still have that, even if there’s a lot of baggage too.”
Celia: Celia is quiet for a long moment. There’s a lot she wants to say. A lot she wants to confess. All the shitty, awful things she’s done, will probably continue to do. She’d just cut open a human girl without an ounce of remorse to make a dinner meeting more palatable. She’s cheated on him. Tonight, even. With Alana. And probably will again later this evening.
In the end, though, she doesn’t unburden herself. She just nods.
“Thanks, Dani. You’re right. Thanks for listening, and sorry I… unloaded. There’s not really any vampire counselors.”
GM: “You’re gonna be my sister, right?” she smiles. “I’m happy to, anytime. So is Stephen, and your mom. We all love you.”
Celia: For now, anyway.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: “Oh, shit!” exclaims Dani, looking at the time. “We’re late!”
It’s not that long a drive from Flawless to Edith’s address. In fact, it looks as if Dani took a detour so they’d have time to talk.
Edith lives closer to the north part of the Quarter, where buildings turn from bars and clubs and tourist attractions to homes and apartments. It’s still on Rampart Street, though. This close to Treme and the Seventh Ward, the spit starts to wear off the Quarter’s polish—or perhaps it becomes plain how much was black from tobacco spittle all along. Trash isn’t as picked up. Buildings are cheaper, dirtier, graffiti-tagged, and falling apart. Celia hears a few gunshots and car alarms. There are homeless, too, camped out with their sleeping bags and shopping carts and bags of trash and belongings, plus the odd worn-looking camping tent. There’s fewer of them than south in the Quarter, but their expressions look just as glum, intoxicated, or blanked out. Sounds of fornication echo from one of the tents. Numerous sets of male eyes follow the two women’s car.
Some of them smell like thin-bloods.
They otherwise look identical to their breather counterparts.
“This doesn’t look like a safe place for us, Celia…” Dani says warily.
It’s just one block north and several east of her mom’s house.
There was more than one reason she had wanted to live in the Garden District.
Celia: Celia quietly points out the thin-bloods that they pass, though she’s careful to keep her voice low and not attract any attention to the pair of them.
“Jade,” Celia reminds her. Then, “No, it isn’t. This is where the Caitiff live. Where anyone who isn’t someone lives.”
But plentiful, for a girl who doesn’t mind picking apart a carcass. Who would miss these vagrants? She’d get so much use out of their parts…
She could filter their blood through her body. Give it to her mother. Make it taste good again.
Maybe one of these nights she’ll make another trip down here, see what sort of use she can get out of them.
GM: The pair are still in the car. The homeless, and the thin-bloods, are right by the address for Edith’s house. It’s better-maintained than its neighbors, but it looks like someone trying to maintain a ’50s family home in the inner city without so much as a white picket fence.
Dani watches intently as Jade points out the duskborn, but still says, “I think those guys are gonna make trouble for us by ourselves…”
“Wish we’d brought Stephen.”
Celia: “They’ll try,” Jade says.
GM: “You think we can stop them…?”
Celia: “I think they know better than to mess with Savoy’s lapcat.”
GM: “But I can’t smell you, how can they?”
Celia: Jade smiles, flashing fangs.
GM: Dani gives a wan one back.
“I guess this is the only way to get answers, either way.”
All the same, Celia sees pepper spray in her purse as she picks it up.
The pair get out. The two women are immediately accosted by half a dozen dirty, unwashed-smelling men literally screaming in their faces for money. Two duskborn, twice as many kine.
Celia: Jade shoulders her way through them, Dani in tow.
GM: The mob falls upon the pair like a pack of starving dogs. Dirty hands seize everywhere, copping feels, ripping at clothes, and pulling away belongings as the men hoot and bellow. Celia’s purse disappears into the mob as Dani screams and flails, and then the Toreador feels an uneven set of fangs, one substantially smaller than the other, sink into her neck.
Celia: The Beast rears its ugly head when the fangs touch her neck. Aware of how absolutely terrible it would be to lose it here, Celia stuffs it down. She reaches out, snarling in the thin-blood’s face. Her eyes flash, anger simmering just beneath the surface. She lets him see it. The Beast. She lets him feel the power it has over him, the sheer, overwhelming charisma that it forces down his throat, so much sweeter than whatever blood he’d just taken from her. What is she?
“Get my purse back,” she demands of it.
GM: The thin-blood, a middle-aged homeless man with a wildly unkempt beard who looks old enough to be Celia’s dad (if she were black) can’t meet the Toreador’s face. Not with his buried against her neck. But the snarl behind her words, and the weight of her presence, rolling out like a wave, stirs an equally primal response. He turns and bolts, shoving past his fellows, leaving a precious opening as a flailing Dani screams at the top of her lungs, “GET OFF GET OFF GET OFF!!!” Celia can feel the other thin-blood’s presence too, weaker than hers, but nevertheless adding to its weight. Celia’s assailant makes no effort whatsoever to retrieve her purse. Some practiced moves from Roderick culminating with a solid kick to the thief’s balls, plus a timely flail from Dani, knock the purse to the ground, its strap broken and contents haphazardly spilled everywhere. Dani hits the ground in a similar heap, breathing hard with wild eyes.
Celia: Celia retrieves her purse after the thief goes down, stuffing things back inside. She doesn’t care about the money. It’s replaceable. She makes enough. But the rest of it, that’s her focus. That and pulling Dani to her feet once she regains her own, bolting for the safety of the Caitiff’s house.
GM: She finds the door locked tight. Dani bangs against it.
“Let us in!!!”
No one answers her plea.
Celia: “Edith,” Jade says into the door, “it’s Jade.”
GM: A shadow passes behind the windowshades. There are bars over the windows.
After a moment, the door swings open.
Celia: Jade steps inside, pulling Dani after her. She pushes the door shut behind her.
“Some neighbors,” she remarks to her hostess.
GM: Their hostesses are two. The first is a bedraggled-looking young woman with unkempt blonde hair dressed in a Cinderella t-shirt and sweatpants with a gun awkwardly shoved back into the pockets. The other ‘hostess’ is a young child, maybe elementary school age, with cleaner brown hair wearing a little girl dress that Lucy might be found in. Her face, though, has none of Lucy’s excitement or sense of wonder.
“Sorry, ah, Jade, ma’am,” apologizes Cinderella. “That’s just… the neighborhood.”
She and the child do up half a dozen bolts and chains on the door’s other side.
Dani watches them do so, arms tightly crossed around herself.
Celia: Jade doesn’t say much to that. It really is the neighborhood. A fate she saved Dani from, with her comfortable offer of staying with her and lush hunting grounds.
Even so, a quick text to “her boys” implies the need of their services later. She’s not dealing with that again.
She’ll find that wretched thin-blood, though, and take back what is hers.
She finds a smile for Cinderella and the child, at least.
GM: “Text—you know who,” says Dani, catching herself as she touches her mask.
She debates the merits of that before nodding and doing that as well.
GM: Affirmative responses from all three ping back soon.
“They made off with my purse,” Dani says glumly.
Celia: “Shit. I thought they just got mine.”
GM: “I need to get a new phone. And my credit cards canceled.”
Celia: Irritation surges through her. She should have brought a fucking gun, even if she doesn’t know how to shoot. It’s an oversight she needs to correct. Now.
“I’ll take care of it,” Celia tells her.
The phone, she means. There is little she can do about the cards.
Another text summons the two boys now, a description of her assailant included. Bonus if they find the purse and its contents.
She’ll kill the bastard and enjoy doing so.
GM: “It’s okay. Stores won’t be open until sunup, and—sorry, I’m being rude,” Dani says to the two ghouls.
“It’s okay,” says the younger ghoul. “Mom’s just glad you’re here.”
The time on Celia’s phone is more than reasonably late.
It’s a nice change of pace to be the more important lick.
Celia: It really is.
Still, they’d gotten kind of distracted on the phone; who knows if Jade had even agreed to the time before the shrieking children claimed her attention.
“Lead the way,” she says to the pair.
GM: On it, comes Reggie’s confident response.
Celia: Finding scumbags is their thing. She’s happy to leave it to them.
GM: A child’s high-pitched shriek sounds from further inside the house.
“Let’s hurry,” Cinderella and the ghoul both say at once, taking off in a near-run into the house.
Jade and Dani follow behind into the living room. A tea party looks in progress, or at least an attempted tea party. The room’s furniture has been moved off to the side, and there’s a picnic blanket laid out on the floor, underneath several child-sized tables of mismatching heights crammed together. A white tablecloth with pink heart border is spread out over the separate tables in a seeming effort to make them look like the same table. It doesn’t. The tea party feels like it was supposed to happen outside, but couldn’t, for the same reason the front door has half a dozen locks and the windows have bars.
Atop the table, there’s a spread of mismatched plates, trays, and teacups. Some of them are ceramic, others plastic, some Disney-themed, some plain, others printed with hearts and flowers. Much of the tableware looks disposable. Most of the non-disposable pieces are badly chipped and look as if they’ve been superglued back together, and multiple times. Jade can’t imagine a physically and mentally competent adult breaking so many dishes so many times, at least by themselves.
The food consists of tiny sandwiches made from normal-sized Wonder Bread cut into tiny, tea party-sized sections. It’s the sole item that’s not dessert. Everything else is sweets. There’s a platter of homemade-looking chocolate cookies, but everything else is candy. Platters of Hostess twinkies and ding dongs, bowls of M&M’s and gummy bars, trays of candy bars and ice cream sandwiches, and tubs of ice cream lathered with nutella. The largest bowl of all, a giant red plastic one that looks meant for cooking rather than serving, is filled to the brim with a mix of white sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips, nutella, and over a dozen melted sticks of butter, all mushed together into a lifetime’s worth of diabetes and heart attacks.
It doesn’t even pretend to be anything besides fat and sugar.
Almost as an afterthought, there’s a kettle for the tea party’s tea, along with several bottles of Big Shot soda.
Geraldine Maude Danvers is a little girl old enough to be Lucy’s first grade classmate, or maybe even still in kindergarten. She has the smooth skin all children do, shoulder-length blonde-brown hair, and furious-looking brown eyes. The thin-blood is standing on top of the table, barefoot and clad in a chocolate-smeared white dress, screaming as she throws a platter of oreos against the wall.
“YOU! SAID! BLOOD!!!!! NOW!!!!!”
Two more children scream, flinch, and burst into tears at the violent action. Both ghouls, Celia has heard. The first, Melody, is darker of hair and looks around the same age.
She starts trying to sing “Th-the it-itsy-bittsy s-spider went up-” but she’s cut off as Geraldine grabs the tea kettle and hurls it at the wall with a terrific noise, sending tea spilling over the moved-aside furniture. At that, she just wails,
“Y-you s-said blood!!!”
The youngest, Harper, doesn’t say anything. The baby-aged ghoul looks too young to have learned to talk. She just cries and blubbers and smacks her hands against the table, adding her wails to the childish cacophony.
At the center of it all is Edith Flannagan, single mother of four.
She has a handsome face. The jaw is a little too wide to be considered “delicate,” but she wears it well and her eyes make up for any supposed defect. The backs of her arms look a little fleshy, suggesting a life of indulgence, but otherwise she’s rather trim. She looks like someone who took care of her appearance when she was alive. Hats to keep the sun out of her face, seaweed baths and paraffin wraps at the local spa, pink and white nails. Hair perfectly coiffed. When Jade normally sees the Caitiff, she looks put together. She still uses that old Estee Lauder brown pencil liner on her eyes, still artificially colors her cheeks with “blusher,” still coats the mascara on her lashes. Right now, her makeup looks smeared from a child’s flailing hand. Her long and curly red-dyed hair looks mussed and tangled. She wears a wide-hemmed, retro dress out of the ‘50s with several fresh-looking food stains over the front. She’s planting her hands down on the wobbling tables as she pleads,
“She’s here! She’s here! Blood’s here!!!”
Geraldine’s head whips around as Jade, Dani, and the two ghouls enter the room. She leaps off the table, clearing over half the room without a running start, and pounces on Cinderella. Fangs sink into the woman’s thigh. Cinderella gives a cry of alarm and tries to fling Geraldine off, only for Edith to scream, “Oh no you don’t!!!” and tackle the ghoul onto the tables. There’s a terrific crash as they collapse and sandwiches, soda, candy, and the bowl of congealed sugar and fat spills over everyone.
More tableware shatters. The younger ghoul children scream louder. The oldest (Lily, Jade recalls) pulls them away and yells something that’s lost under the commotion. Edith holds Cinderella down as she flails and yells, “Stop it! Just stop! Let her drink!” as Geraldine thirstily claims her fill.
Dani watches the unfolding scene with her mouth open.
“What the fuck!?”
Celia: What the fuck indeed.
It’s like something out of a nightmare. The sort of thing that they should show teenagers in Sex Ed. to warn them about the dangers of having children: that they’re loud, messy, and completely fucking uncontrollable.
Is this a thin-blooded sort of frenzy? Throwing and screaming and still somewhat human, her Beast too weak to fully break the chains the little girl has cast over it?
No, she realizes, just a tantrum.
The “blood’s here” announcement readies her for action, but the child vampire doesn’t come for Jade or Dani. It goes for Cinderella instead—a saving grace for it, truly, because Jade would have had no qualms punting the thing in the face to send it sailing across the room if it tried to sink those baby fangs into her. She’s had enough blood ripped from her body for one night.
“Come on,” Jade says to Dani, moving past the flailing women on the ground to where the other Flannagan children huddle together across the room. Her aura precedes her: a calming, even-keeled sort of presence intended to soothe. Then there’s the lick herself: poised, smiling, beautiful. Like a living doll herself, isn’t she, with those wide eyes and long hair and gently curving lips, in a grown-up, refined version of a dress meant for tea parties.
“Hello, little ladies. You remember Auntie Jade?” She crouches in front of the girls, reaching out a thumb to wipe some of the smeared chocolate off of Melody’s face. “Why don’t we let Mommy take care of Geraldine and ’Ella and you three can show me where she keeps the spare cups and kettle?” Jade scoops up Harper, tucking the infant against her side, and holds out a hand for Lily or Melody to take.
GM: Harper buries her face against Jade with a wet half-sob, half-hiccup. Jade never carried around Lucy, but there’s another girl she knows well who did. Melody is the first of the other children to take Jade’s hand at Lily’s nod. Melody casts a fearful glance towards the women on the tables, then starts to falteringly sing,
“Cups, cups, cups,
Cups inside the cupboards
Cupboards inside the kitchen
Kitchen inside the house…”
Lily points in its direction.
Dani watches as Edith holds down Cinderella, who by this point has stopped struggling against her domitor and Geraldine, and furtively whispers, “Are they going to kill her?”
Celia: The baby ghoul fits snugly against her side. Like she was made for it. Jade takes to the child-holding well, at least, for not having had a single person around to tell her “hold it it like this.” She brings the girls with her as they move toward the kitchen, following Lily’s pointed finger.
“No,” she murmurs back to Dani, “she’s just hungry. Edith has a large family; it’s hard to keep this many mouths fed on this side of town.” The ghetto. Where Dani might have ended up, thin-blood that she is.
Inside the kitchen, Jade keeps an arm beneath Harper’s weight while she sifts through the cabinets for the cups. She hands them one by one to Lily or Melody to set on the kitchen table.
“What song were you singing, Melody? Do you want to sing it for Auntie Jade and her friend? Lily, is there a spare kettle?”
GM: Dani casts the pair a worried look. “I’m going to watch them, just in case things get out of hand.” She stays in the living room with her arms folded.
Harper sniffs and snivels over her shirt some more.
“Made up the song
Singing’s how I do my part
There’s a tune in every heart
Tune in every he-eart…” sings Melody.
Lily retrieves a battered-looking second kettle.
Celia: Jade favors Melody with a smile as she makes up a new song, then finds a rag to start wiping at Harper’s face to keep the worst of it from her clothing.
Edith can hardly afford to get rid of another ghoul now. Jade is pretty sure that Cinderella has been with them since their arrival. Others come and go (often at the hands of the little monster in the other room), but Ella is the constant. Dani is welcome to watch, though, if it makes her feel better.
Then again, if Edith weren’t trying to keep the ghoul fed as well she’d have more for her daughters and Geraldine. Maybe a quick death is the best thing for all of them.
Jade looks at the two girls sitting in the kitchen with her. If Geraldine is feeding now, she can probably give the juice to the other two. She finds the container of blood she’d brought with her, the two pints she’d bled from herself after taking it from her clients, and pours it into the kettle to heat.
This is fine, right? It’s not like Edith wanted the blood for herself to distribute. The girls can eat and then go to bed and she and Edith can chat. Sometimes that’s all her mom wanted when Lucy was little: a little help feeding and cleaning her and then some adult time with Celia and Emily.
“Seats, ladies,” Jade says to the two. She sits too, Harper on her lap. “Lily, will you pour for us?”
GM: Three ghouls and one spoiled thin-blood would still be a lot for one Caitiff on Rampart Street.
Everyone says it’s a matter of time until Edith Flannagan’s house of cards comes falling apart.
It’s awkward to carry a baby in one hand and a purse with a broken strap in her other. Lily helps. All of the kids watch as Jade pours out the blood. Even Harper. The youngest ghoul starts softly crying again and greedily tugging at the air.
The other two kids sit down. Utterly silent. Watching the kettle like hawks.
Celia: Jade heard that some people have been calling for the extermination of Geraldine, too. Murder machine. Masquerade breach waiting to happen. It’s a wonder her sire had never paid a visit to the house after what happened at the zoo.
Not that Jade is complaining. She’d made out like a bandit after the poor girl died. Where else would she have found a tiger in New Orleans?
Jade waits until the blood hits the cups to nudge them toward the girls on their chipped saucers. Two cups for two girls. Harper seems too little to be able to manage a cup like this. She’s still hungry though, isn’t she? Still addicted like the rest of them. It’s not as if the addiction passes her by because she’s a baby. She’s heard of babies being born that were addicted to whatever chemicals their mothers were on at the time of their pregnancy and birth, how loudly they wail while they go through withdrawals.
Is it crossing a line if she…? It’s not like she’ll ever get another chance. She won’t have children of her own. Edith is busy. Dani is busy. Jade runs her fingers through the baby’s hair, nuzzling the top of her head.
GM: Lily and Melody drink immediately. They take it slow. Closing their eyes. Savoring the taste. The ghouls who aren’t completely new tend to do that. Stretch out the hit as long as they can. It’s only the brand new ones, like Diana after Jade punished her, who try to gulp it down as fast as possible.
Harper, though, is much less of a good sport than Lucy was (and even Lucy had her bad days, like any baby). The ghouled infant loudly cries and squirms in Jade’s grasp, reaching desperately for the blood.
Celia: It’s the crying that does it in the end. Whenever Lucy had started crying Celia had immediately handed her back to her mom so she could quiet her. She’d told Celia once that you learn to recognize the cries of your child; she’d always seemed to know exactly what to do with Lucy to get her to calm down, whether it was a pacifier, a nipple, or changing a wet diaper.
Jade doesn’t know Harper’s individual cries. But she recognizes hunger well enough. …It’s only fair, right? To feed them all?
A quick flick of her fingers undoes the top few buttons of her top, and another unhooks the clasp of her bra. The cups slide free, exposing her breasts. Jade pulls aside the shirt, settles Harper in the crook of her arm, and makes a tiny prick in one nipple. She guides it into the wailing infant’s mouth.
GM: Harper instantly shuts up and starts sucking.
It’s like Diana described. A tugging, tingling sensation against her breast. But there’s no relief, like she’s using the bathroom. Just faint agitation from the Beast. Growling.
It usually took some time, too, when Celia’s mom calmed down a crying Lucy. She’d have to rock the child and sing to her or go through the unpleasant experience of changing a fouled diaper. When the answer was nursing, Lucy would cry and sniffle and take coaxing or effort to position the nipple just right. Diana said she always preferred to nurse a calm baby, “Even if that isn’t always in the cards.”
But with Harper, it’s like a switch is flipped.
There’s no calming down period. The tears just stop, like a faucet turned off. There’s no effort involved on Jade’s part, no nursery rhyme encores or gentle coaxing like Diana had to do. The infant just shuts up and sucks, with bulging eyes and a ravenous vigor unlike anything Celia ever saw from Lucy.
Celia: Well this is certainly one way to make a crying infant settle. Not that she’d ever do it to anyone that isn’t already a ghoul. Or create a ghoul child of her own. What sort of fucked up person does that to a kid?
It’s not quite the experience her mother had described. She feels less like she’s sharing part of herself than simply having it taken from her. It’s not the intimacy she’d expected. Maybe because it isn’t her child. Maybe because it’s taking the blood from her. Maybe she just doesn’t like sharing. It’s hers. But while her Beast may growl, it doesn’t cause a scene; this tiny little thing is helpless before her, utterly in her power. There’s a sense of superiority there, not only for the ghoul in her arms but the Caitiff and half-vampires in the other room. They can’t provide like this. But Jade can.
So she feeds it, letting baby Harper get her fix, searching for that sense of bliss her mother described just earlier this evening. She cradles the back of the infant’s head, murmurs soft nothings to her as she drinks, and lets herself get off on the weirdly intoxicating power trip.
GM: Edith Flannagan, clearly.
Jade waits and waits, but the sensation her mother described doesn’t come. Maybe because it’s not her kid (or her sister). Maybe because she’s losing something. Diana said the more love you give away, the more you have to give, but Jade knows that’s utterly untrue when it comes to vitae. There’s just loss.
Or at least a trade. Little Harper looks totally within her power. Like she’d do anything for that blood. It always looked the other way around for Celia’s mother: Lucy just sucked while Diana looked as if she’d have done anything for that child.
Celia couldn’t ever nurse Lucy. Diana could pass the child off to her daughter, sing together with her, put the baby to bed with her, but nursing was one thing only the girl’s actual mother could do. Even if they pretended otherwise. She remembers, after the child was delivered and her brothers and sisters moved back in, how Emily had the idea for Diana to store her milk in formula bottles (she was aghast how expensive it was) and feed to Lucy for the ‘benefit’ of the other Flores children. Celia was supposed to be the one lactating, if anyone was. Lucy could only get breastfed where her ‘aunts and uncles’ couldn’t see.
It was a lot of effort, to maintain the illusion that Celia could do something she couldn’t do.
But there’s no illusion here. Reggie and Diana both didn’t seem to enjoy the taste of thin-blooded vitae, and Edith is stretched so thing with so many mouths to feed. Jade has enough to spare. Jade has the power.
Harper, oblivious to the dynamic, just continues to thirstily suck from the bleeding nipple.
Celia: If she’d been more concerned about it at the time, Celia might have suggested an overhaul of her own chest to add mammary glands, or at least make the ones she had then work. They’re as dead as the rest of her, but it’s really just a system of tubes, isn’t it? No reason she couldn’t fix them up to make them work now if she really wanted to. Maybe she can offer it to Edith if the woman still wants to actually breastfeed (or at least pour formula into herself that later comes out the nipple). Like cum tubes. But for babies.
Then, she’d been busy experimenting with other things. Now, the idea has some merit. Maybe that would give her the sense of euphoria her mother had talked about. She’s already given herself a fake stomach, a handful of identities, a cock; what’s working breasts to all that?
This long into her Requiem, Jade recognizes when a ghoul has taken enough from her to get their fix. She lets the baby get to that point before finally pulling the nipple free from her greedy mouth and tucks herself away.
GM: The baby immediately starts bawling again and reaches for the disappearing nipple.
The other girls watch silently past their drained cups.
Celia: The baby can cry all it wants. Jade isn’t going to bleed herself dry for someone else’s ghoul.
Surely Edith should be free soon.
GM: Harper bawls and tugs and rubs her head over Jade’s covered breasts.
The other girls feel almost embarrassed.
Celia: “She’s not old enough to understand,” Jade says to them with a little shrug. She shifts the child from one arm to the other, tickling her belly with her fingers.
GM: Harper just keeps crying.
Celia: “Why don’t you check on your mother, Lily,” Jade says to the girl in question. A second passes before she reaches out to smother the child’s wild emotions with that gift of hers.
GM: Harper shuts up, though she doesn’t stop staring at Jade’s breasts either.
Lily does so, hopping off her seat, but there’s no need. Footsteps become audible to Jade’s ears as Edith, Geraldine, and Dani walk in. The Caitiff and her ‘daughter’ have clean faces and have changed clothes. They’re holding hands.
“I’m sorry about that, they’ve not had much to eat lately,” says Edith.
“…oh. Did you feed them?”
“She didn’t, she didn’t,
We’re still very hungry
We’re still so hungry
Please, Mama, feed us,
Please, Mama, fill us,” sings Melody.
Celia: Jade gives Melody a disapproving glance.
“I fed all three,” she confirms.
GM: Lily opens her mouth, then doesn’t say anything, looking between Edith and Jade.
Edith picks up one of the cups and sniffs it. It’s completely drained, without so much as a drop remaining. Maybe no human would smell anything, but Jade can still pick up a telltale coppery whiff.
“Liar,” Edith says to Melody.
“I can smell blood in that.”
Melody lowers her head.
Edith sits down, pulls the ghoul over her lap, pulls up her dress, and delivers five hard swats to her backside. Melody yelps and gulps.
“Five spanks for five verses of lies,” says Edith. “Say you’re sorry.”
“I’m-m sorry,” sniffs Melody.
“Lily, you didn’t lie, but you didn’t tell the truth. One spank,” says Edith.
The older ghoul lays over her domitor’s lap and presents her posterior. Her cheeks tinge red as everyone else in the room watches.
Dani looks vaguely uncomfortable. Geraldine smiles.
Celia: Jade knew a girl who used to be spanked like this, with everyone watching. But Jade never was. And she thinks that liars deserve punishments. She’d done the same to her ghoul recently for being a greedy little thing, too.
GM: Until Celia helped the ghoul spank her back, at least. They told her to stay away from them both.
Celia: Jade had spanked Celia, too. Right before she fucked her.
She doubts Edith is going to go that route with the little girls, unless their relationship is even more twisted than she’d imagined.
She says nothing about the corporal punishment, in any case. Everyone handles their ghouls differently.
GM: Edith sets Lily down after delivering the one spank.
“I’m sorry about that,” she repeats.
Celia: “Kids,” she says with a knowing smile. She glances at Dani, as if to ask about Cinderella, but she imagines the thin-blood would be more upset if anything had actually happened to the ghoul. No doubt she’s sleeping it off.
“It should hold them over for a while, anyway.” A lift of her brows, as if asking how Edith plans to care for them after that.
“I saw you on patrol the other night. Find anything?”
GM: Edith shakes her head in frustration. “I was… counting on it. Savoy rewards us whenever we do.”
“And the kids are always hungry.”
Celia: “I can imagine. Hard to keep them full with a stable this large.” If Dani weren’t here she’d suggest taking one of the homeless off the streets and draining them, but Dani is here, so she doesn’t.
GM: “Who’s she?” asks Gerladine.
“That’s Jade, honey, she also lives in the Quarter,” says Edith, pulling the child onto her lap.
Technically true, if somewhat misleading.
Jade doesn’t live in a slum.
Dani sits down too.
“Hannah said you ran into the homeless outside. Sorry about that. Did you kill any of the thin-bloods?” she asks, not even trying to hide the hope in her voice.
“We didn’t, no.”
Edith looks disappointed. “Oh.”
“Because they’re attacking you?” Dani asks.
“Sometimes. Only when they get really hungry,” says Edith. “They know I’m a real Kindred.” There’s some pride in the Caitiff’s voice at that.
Dani doesn’t say anything there.
“But there’s more of them,” continues Edith. “And they’re still dangerous. They were bad, bad, trashy people when they were alive. Still are.”
“So you want them dead so they can’t attack you when they’re really hungry?” asks Dani.
“You ask a lot of questions for a ghoul,” says Edith with a faint frown. But she still answers, “If they were dead I’d be able to hunt their homeless friends, without worrying about them attacking me back.”
She makes a face. “I’m sure their blood’s awful. But it’s still blood.”
“Can’t you just hunt somewhere else?” asks Dani.
“No, I can’t!” exclaims Edith, looking as if she’s trying not to sound too frustrated around Jade.
Celia: It’s amusing, this being in charge thing. She recognizes the look on Edith’s face very well; more than once she’s had to bite her tongue around her “superiors.”
“Edith is Caitiff,” she says to Dani.
“Their domain in the Quarter is the edges. Out here. If she hunts elsewhere, she’s poaching.”
GM: “Yes, Lord Savoy’s very generous,” agrees Edith.
Even Dani isn’t so green not to recognize the sucking up for what it is.
But she doesn’t say anything.
“This is boring,” says Geraldine, slapping her hand against the table several times.
Celia: “Is it?” Jade asks the child. “We came for you, actually.”
GM: “Lily, Melody, why don’t you take Geraldine a-” Edith cuts off, though, as Jade speaks.
“Me?” asks the thin-blood.
Celia: “You,” Jade confirms with a nod. “And your mother.” Her eyes cut to Edith’s. “It’s an area you might be a bit of an expert in, Edith, considering.” She tilts her head, eyeing the child.
GM: “Ah, yes, I’m sorry,” Edith apologizes. “You’re here on business, and you fed the little ’uns, what can I do for you?”
Celia: “I have some questions about thin-bloods.” A casual wave of her hand includes Hannah in the discussion. “She’s here to take notes and make sure I don’t forget anything, so I’m sure she’ll be jumping in as well.”
“With as long as Geraldine has been with you, I thought you’d know more than most of the vagrants on the street.”
“And I’m always happy to see the girls.”
When they’re not wailing.
GM: Edith smiles. “They love visitors too. Don’t you, girls?”
There are nods from them all.
“Geraldine’s been my daughter for about 20 years, she says,” smiling again as she adjusts the child vampire on her lap. “So I think I know a lot about them. I’ve seen it all firsthand. How does… one hit for every topic’s worth of notes sound?”
She glances around the cups. “So that’s two topics, for everything so far. Or three, if you fed Harper too.” She looks at the still-sniffling infant.
“She did,” says Lily.
Melody nods too.
“Okay, three,” says Edith. “I’m sorry, that’s what you said. Three. With more if you want to feed Cinderella too.”
“Or feed the others some more.”
“Is Cinderella her actual name?” asks Dani.
“Yes,” Geraldine answers peevishy.
“Yes, she doesn’t have another name,” says Edith, backing the child up.
“Okay, Cinderella,” nods Dani.
“Do you have a pen and paper I could take notes with?”
“Yes, over there.” Edith points.
Dani retrieves a pen and notepad, then sits back down.
Celia: Edith might have trouble keeping the girls from going hungry if she’s feeding them this liberally. Jade would probably space the feedings out a little more, but she’s not going to tell someone else how to parent. Lord knows she has no idea what she’d be doing.
Though that’s more of a ghoul thing than a parent thing, if she’s being honest.
“We’ll start with the Blood.” Edith can probably hear the emphasis on the word. “Mine gives me the traditional gifts of my clan. Yours allows you different abilities. I’ve done some experimenting with a thin-blood I found. He seems only to be able to perform the same sorts of things you or I can do if he has lick blood in his system. Is that typical of them?”
GM: “Sometimes,” says Edith. “Most of them are what they eat. Their abilities change with whatever blood they drink.”
Celia: “So if the thin-blood drank from me, he’d take on some of my abilities. But if he drank from a Gangrel, he’d get something else?”
“How far does that go? Specialized, unique abilities? More advanced things?”
GM: “Yes. But kine too. If they drink from a marathon runner, they’ll get stone skin. If they drink from a clubber, they’ll get charm.”
Celia: Fascinating. And also in line with her theory.
GM: “The more they drink, or the richer the blood, the stronger their abilities are.”
“But only up to a point.”
Celia: “But they only have it until they use it?”
GM: “Until they drink from different blood.”
Dani dutifully scrawls away.
Celia: “So it doesn’t need to actively be in their system, just the last thing they ate?”
GM: “They need both of those.”
Celia: “Up to a point, you said?”
GM: Edith’s lips purse. “That’s a separate topic. How strong they can get. There are different ways they can.”
Celia: The same way the blonde had suggested getting stronger? She doubts Dani will go for it. She lifts her brows at the girl in question. No doubt she wants to know her limits, but she won’t speak for her.
GM: “How can they do that?” Dani asks.
Celia: Jade gives a nod, assenting to the further topic.
GM: “They can only develop very basic abilities, through normal feeding,” says Edith. “The ones any fledgling can pick up in a night or two.”
“If they drink deep enough to kill, or from a vessel with a dyscrasia, they can get a little more advanced.”
GM: Edith shakes her head. “Just until they feed again. Or lose the blood.”
“Blood from other licks does more for them, though.”
“They need to drink more of it, but Geraldine’s been able to do the same things I can, after she feeds enough.”
Celia: Jade lifts a brow at the Caitiff.
“How advanced is that?”
It’s not like Jade keeps up with the generations of the clanless.
GM: “I’m not a master at any discipline. But it’s more than she was able to do just from killing.”
“That seems like an easy way for them to get better at being vampires, then,” says Dani.
Edith shrugs. “Most true-blooded licks won’t share with them.”
Celia: But Dani’s got two in her corner that might.
A feedback loop, like Diana had suggested earlier.
GM: “And it’s not like they can steal it easy.”
Celia: Neither of them would really lose blood… she idly contemplates how telling Roderick she wants to swap blood with his sister would go. For science.
“No,” Jade agrees.
Even though she’d just had hers stolen.
“Their blood will never thicken with age, then. Not like ours.”
“Everything they do is a temporary fix.”
GM: “Yes. It’s all temporary.”
Celia: “Geraldine is still a child,” Jade ventures.
GM: “Yes, what about it?”
Celia: “She won’t age, ever? Or it’s so slow we don’t notice it?”
GM: “She hasn’t aged a day.”
Celia: Jade nods. She’d assumed as much.
GM: “I’ve had her for around twenty years.”
Celia: Jade looks to the child vampire, listening for a heartbeat.
GM: She can hear one. Just like with Dani.
“That’s also starting to be a separate topic.”
Celia: Jade rifles through her purse, pulling out a tiny notebook. She flips it open to a page and consults the nonexistent writing, then offers it to Dani.
“One of those?” she asks, giving Dani free reign to pursue her own line of questioning.
GM: Dani frowns, thinking.
“Yeah, that looks good.”
Seems up to Jade.
Celia: Dani’s the thin-blood and it’s about her, but Jade doesn’t argue the point. If she wants to leave it up to Jade she can do so.
“I’ve heard some of them can do a sort of alchemy thing with their blood.”
GM: Edith makes an expression of distaste.
“They’re… drug dealers. That’s all they are. It’s disgusting.”
“But what is it they do?” asks Dani.
“Gutter magic. If you could even call it that.”
Celia: Jade waits, expectant.
GM: “It’s disgusting. They’re disgusting.”
Celia: “I’ll need you to be more specific on the gutter magic.”
GM: “I don’t associate with those sorts of people,” the Caitiff declares. There’s a note of some pride to her voice.
“But can you tell us anything?” asks Dani.
“I don’t associate with those lowlifes,” she repeats. “You can ask me something else.”
Celia: “Even if it meant Geraldine could do magic?” There’s some skepticism to her voice.
GM: “Magic? Like a fairy?” asks Geraldine.
“It’s not magic like a fairy,” says Edith. “It’s not something little girls do. It’s gross and yucky and there’s… poop.”
“Ewww,” says Geraldine.
Celia: “I’d like to know what you know. I paid for the information.”
Jade can take her blood back, if the Caitiff likes.
GM: “You can ask me something else,” Edith says stiffly.
Celia: That baby is still in her arms.
GM: She looks at Harper, who by this point looks like she’s dozed off, and repeats, “That can’t be all you want to know. Ask me about something else. I won’t charge you for the alchemy… answer.”
“Magic isn’t real,” adds Geraldine.
“I pushed off the fairy and she couldn’t fly.”
Celia: Jade’s lips twitch.
“No, I can’t imagine she did,” she says to the child. She doesn’t correct her, though.
“If you can’t tell me about the alchemy, can you tell me where to find an alchemist? I presume you heard enough about it from someone to point me in their direction.”
GM: Fairies are real, though. And their magic. Celia knows that from experience.
Edith makes an expression of distaste.
“I can’t, beyond Rampart Street, but you probably guessed that.”
“I won’t charge you for that answer either.”
Celia: Well at least she’s fair with her pricing.
GM: “So, what else?”
Celia: Jade glances at Dani. She’d thought she was going to have to feed one of them again, but she’s drawing a blank. Dani wants to meet them, but it sounds like Edith doesn’t hang out with many of them, and if she can’t tell her about the alchemists…
She’d had so much to offer Edith, too. So many favors she could trade for knowledge.
GM: Dani looks back at her unsurely.
Celia: Jade finally shrugs. She’d wanted the alchemist for her own selfish reasons.
“Compared to a true-blooded lick, do they retain similar properties? The healing, the regeneration, the lack of illness, et cetera?”
GM: “Yes and no,” says Edith. “Gerladine’s gotten sick. But not very often.”
Celia: “The others, though? The mending? Regenerating lost parts?”
GM: “I don’t know if she can do that. I’ve never tried to find out. But she can heal cuts and bruises with blood.”
“I usually tell her not to, though, and to just let Mommy give her a band-aid. And she gets better on her own, not like we do.”
“Sorry, you can’t get better on your own?” asks Dani.
Edith looks at her, then answers, “If you cut us, we stay cut until we spend blood to heal. Our bodies don’t do that on their own. Geraldine’s does.”
“I’m special,” declares Geraldine.
“Yes you are!” says Edith, bouncing the thin-blood on her knee. “The most special duskborn in the city!”
Celia: She’s certainly something.
Jade finds a smile for the child and her mother.
“It certainly sounds like it.”
GM: “Can duskborn become nightborn?” Dani asks abruptly.
“They can’t,” says Edith.
Dani does her best not to look crestfallen.
“I won’t charge for that either, since I didn’t tell you anything,” says Edith.
Celia: “Appreciate it,” Jade says, keeping the dryness out of her tone.
“I think that’s all I have, then.”
GM: “Oh. That’s all?”
Celia: “Can’t think of anything else that isn’t alchemy-related, and you’ve already said you don’t hang much with them.”
GM: “But, there’s so much to them. I could tell you a lot more.” Edith looks fairly desperate at the chance to get more blood right in front of her.
Celia: “Such as?”
GM: “Well, everything. They’re different in basically every way. Some little, some big.”
“Anything you think about true-bloods, that you take for granted, they do at least a little differently.”
Celia: “Tell me what you know,” Jade says evenly, “and I’ll decide how many hits it’s worth, or if I can finagle something… extra.”
GM: “We’d be here for hours if I told you everything. Can you narrow it down?”
Celia: “What do you specialize in, Edith? Power wise. What’s your area of expertise?”
GM: “Stone skin. Cloaking. Taming.”
Celia: “I’ll trade you a hit of mine for a hit of yours.”
GM: Edith looks confused. “Sorry?”
Celia: “Your abilities are different than mine. I’d like to see this totem twisting in action.”
GM: “I’m sorry, you mean with a duskborn?”
“Well, I guess I don’t really care what you do with mine. You can keep it for yourself or give it to one of your girls.”
GM: “Two hits of yours, then. Swapping a hit for a hit still leaves me even.”
Celia: Jade laughs.
“No, but thanks.”
GM: “I’m just proposing an even trade. You’d get to see what a duskborn can do, I’m not any richer.”
Celia: “It’s not an even trade. I’ve already theorized that the duskborn take on what they eat, you simply confirmed it. I have other sources that won’t put me out blood. If you’re not interested you’re not interested, and that’s perfectly fine.”
GM: “So do you want it for something else, as part of another trade? We could throw it in as lagniappe,” Edith relents.
Celia: “I don’t want to play twenty questions all night. I don’t have any pressing concerns about the duskborn, and I imagine most of what I’d ask I can find out through observation and my own experimentation.” Jade leans forward in her chair. “You mentioned there’s stuff I take for granted about being a lick that you can’t with them. Give me the major differences and I’ll give you the two-for-one that you want. I’ll feed whichever kids you like. What is it?”
GM: “Okay, they still frenzy. That’s a myth they can’t.”
Celia: That gets an arched brow.
“All of them?”
GM: “I don’t spend as much time around other duskborn, but I think so. I know Geraldine does.”
Celia: “Is she fourteenth? Or higher?”
GM: “I don’t know. They’re all the same, either way.”
“She’s at least fourteenth, obviously.”
Celia: “Some of them have one fang, or none. Their differences are only physical?”
GM: “Wait, but they don’t frenzy,” says Dani, more than a little perturbed. “You can hit them or stab them or whatever else, can’t you?”
Celia: “Was Geraldine’s earlier fit a frenzy, or just a tantrum? What draws it out? How does it differ from a true blood?”
GM: “They can only frenzy under two circumstances,” says Edith. “One is if they’re really, really hurt. On the brink of death. That’s enough to wake up their Beasts. Give them a last fighting chance.”
“And the second?” says Dani.
“If they’re hungry,” says Edith. “Low on blood. Then if you stab them, hit them, burn them, whatever, their Beast can get out.”
Dani tries not to look too perturbed.
“A duskborn I’ve talked said he didn’t ever feel… a Beast,” she says. “He felt normal. But there are Brujah who always feel it in the backs of their heads, furious, waiting to rip out.”
“That’s normal,” says Edith. “They basically don’t have a Beast, most of the time. It only comes out when they’re hungry or about to die.”
Celia: “So long as they’re never grievously injured or starving, they can function as normal.”
GM: “Yes. That’s where the myth they don’t frenzy comes from.”
“And it’s easier for them to resist the Beast than true-bloods, too. Theirs is weaker.”
Celia: “That’s certainly something,” Jade murmurs.
GM: Edith looks between them appraisingly.
“I think that’s worth a hit.”
Celia: “It is,” Jade agrees.
GM: Edith moves a cup near her.
Celia: Jade sinks her fangs into her wrist, then holds it over the cup.
GM: Everyone at the table but Dani watches with rapt eyes.
Edith waits for it to cool, then raises it to her lips.
Geraldine grabs at it.
“It’s for Cinderella,” says Edith. “So I can feed her-”
“I want!” Geraldine repeats.
“If she’s better she can with y-”
“I—WANT!!!” Geraldine shrieks.
She stands up and lunges at the cup. Edith gives an exclamation of alarm as she pulls it away, trying desperately not to spill it.
“GIVE IT TO ME GIVE IT TO ME GIVE IT TO ME!!!” yells the duskborn, tugging at her arms.
Celia: “Sit down,” Jade snarls at the child, lashing out with her Beast to put weight behind her words.
GM: Geraldine’s temper tantrum wilts like a weeks-old flower. She whimpers and curls up against her mother.
“Don’t you do that!” Edith suddenly snarls back, baring her fangs in a feral hiss as her eyes flash.
Celia: Jade rises, her own fangs bared at the Caitiff. A hiss passes from her lips. She is not intimidated by this nobody.
“She’d have spilled it all over the floor. Are you going to ask her to lap it up, like some sort of dog?”
GM: Jade’s seen domitors who make their ghouls do that.
Edith shoots up from her chair too, locking gazes with Jade. The hiss goes on as her fangs protrude.
Then the sound dies.
She sits down and looks away.
Dani warily looks between the once-feuding vampires.
Celia: Jade lets the silence linger. But only for a moment. She sits down after the Caitiff does, her fangs disappearing behind her lips.
“I have something special for Geraldine.”
A balm of sorts, though she can’t help but feel a surge of glee at putting the nobody in her place.
GM: Edith looks up.
“Please don’t hurt her,” she begs, clutching the duskborn tight against her chest with both hands. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Celia: It’s a nice change of pace.
GM: “She doesn’t mean that kind of special,” says Dani.
Celia: “I’m not here to take your child away from you, Edith.”
GM: “We’re not going to hurt you,” adds Dani. “Or her. Just… drink your blood, all right? You earned it.”
Edith glares faintly at the ‘ghoul.’ But she drinks.
The other ghoul children watch in fretful silence.
Harper suddenly wakes up and starts crying again.
“Lily, Melody, why don’t you put Harper to bed,” says Edith. “And go play a game, checkers, with Geraldine?”
The ghouls fretfully look towards Jade, as if to see whether she’s going to stop them.
Celia: Jade makes no motion to do so. She nods her head.
GM: Melody retrieves a now-crying Harper. Lily takes a still-sniffling Geraldine, who she all but staggers trying to carry. The ghouls and duskborn depart the room.
“You’re kind of spoiling her,” says Dani. “She’ll just continue to act-”
“That’s none of your business, half-blood!” Edith flares back.
But the fangs don’t come out.
Celia: Jade turns a baleful glare on Hannah.
“You don’t tell other licks how to treat their ghouls. I brought you here to take notes.”
GM: Dani glares back, at first.
But then she minds her cover and lowers her head.
“She’s new,” says Edith.
Celia: “She is.”
“I’m still breaking her in.”
GM: “I’m sorry, ma’am,” says Dani.
The tone isn’t completely right. But it’s deferential enough.
Edith smiles faintly.
Celia: Jade considers the lesson learned. She sifts through her purse, pulling out the final bottle of blood.
GM: Edith looks at it.
“So you’d also asked about their fangs.”
Celia: “I did. I’ve seen some with one, some with none, some with chipped fangs, some with little bitty baby fangs.”
GM: “Some have normal fangs. But it’s one of the most common deformities.”
Celia: “I already know about that. Is there something else to it?”
GM: “Like what? Whether they can still feed normally?”
“Most of them can. It’s a little or a lot more awkward, but they can.”
“Some have to use knives, because their fangs are so underdeveloped, or they just don’t have any. Kine obviously don’t enjoy that.”
Celia: “No, I imagine they don’t.”
“None of this is news to me.”
GM: Edith’s voice gets a bit more deferential. “Okay. What do you mean, something else?”
Celia: “You brought up their fangs. I thought maybe there was more to it than that. I only mentioned them in passing.”
GM: “Is is it symptomatic of larger differences between duskborn and nightborn,” ventures Dani. “Like, for instance, how they can walk in the sun-”
“They can’t do that,” says Edith.
Celia: Jade arches a brow.
GM: Dani looks at Jade. “We heard of one who could.”
“That’s just another myth,” says Edith.
Celia: “We’ve witnessed it.”
GM: Edith looks between them. “For how long?”
“Hours,” says Dani. “I saw him. He didn’t have any problems during the day.”
Celia: “No protective covering. No burning. No singes.”
“Hannah tailed him.”
GM: “Your ghoul probably just saw another ghoul,” says Edith. “Most duskborn take longer to burn than nightborn do. And they can last a while. But they still burn.”
Celia: Jade shakes her head.
“I’ve confirmed he’s duskborn.”
GM: “That’s the first time I’ve heard of that.”
“Well. It’d be the first reliable time.”
“Lots of licks say they can’t burn in the sun, and it’s an exaggeration. They just burn slower and heal faster.”
Celia: “I’ll test it again, but so far everything suggests he doesn’t.”
GM: “Okay. Geraldine’s the only one I’ve spent twenty years with,” Edith grants.
Celia: “It made me wonder if they were all different, since someone else said the same.”
“Multiple others,” she amends.
GM: “I’ve known ones with different powers,” says Edith. “And weaknesses.”
“Some that couldn’t get sick or hurt by guns.”
“Some that still frenzied or couldn’t use their blood to heal.”
Celia: “They don’t seem to follow the same rules as us.”
GM: “In what sense?”
Celia: “Give me any Brujah and I’ll tell you what the majority of them can do. The mending. The powers, strength and speed and charisma. The weaknesses, like their rage. Sure, there are outliers. But the duskborn seem to vary more often than the rest of us.”
GM: “Some of it might be ignorance,” says Edith. “But you might be right, too. Not all of the ones I’ve known can do what Geraldine can do.”
“Though she is very special, too. Oldest duskborn in the city.”
“Maybe it’s nature’s way of compensating.”
Celia: “Has she gotten stronger as the years have passed?”
“Or is it like you said, everything is temporary?”
GM: “She’s physically strong for her age. You saw her jump around—that’s stone fists, blood’s might, hulking, whatever you want to call it. That’s how she pushed off the, ah, ‘fairy’.”
“That’s stayed, despite whatever she drinks. But she was always that way, for as long as I’ve known her.”
“Everything else, with disciplines, is temporary.”
Celia: Jade just nods her head.
“Thank you for the assistance this evening.”
GM: “You’re welcome.” A pause. “All of that since the frenzy is worth a hit.”
There’s a buzz from Jade’s phone.
Found your thief. Also picked you up another snack.
Celia: Jade glances at her phone. Perfect.
“I need to get going,” she tells Edith. She slides the blood across the table to her.
GM: Edith drinks it down.
“The things since the frenzy, too,” she repeats.
“You didn’t know all of that.”
Celia: “The fangs? I knew about the fangs. And their differences.”
“You learned about the daywalking."
GM: “Geraldine can’t daywalk. That doesn’t help me.”
Celia: “Repeating things I already know doesn’t help me.”
GM: “Anything else you want, then. Knowledge about thin-bloods. Boons. Anything else you need. Please. My kids are so thirsty. This will only last so long. I’m sorry we butted heads. Anything you want, I can do,” Edith says, desperately.
Celia: “Keep the trade,” Jade finally says, “and we’ll keep this line of communication open. I’m sure I’ll need something in the future.”
GM: Edith looks like she wants to plead further, then just says, “Okay. Here’s my number.” She lists it off.
Celia: “If you think of anything else, you know where to reach me.” There’s a promise behind her words.
She gave her five hits, though. For what’s essentially a conversation. She doesn’t feel too bad about not giving more.
GM: Edith nods. “Okay. I will. Flawless?”
Celia: “Flawless or a phone call.” She leaves her number.
GM: The Caitiff says she’ll be in touch.
Sounds of commotion echo from the next room over. Edith quickly excuses herself and darts off to attend the latest domestic crisis. Dani warily follows her out of the house, pepper spray clutches firmly in hand this time as her eyes sweep the slum for more bands of encroaching predators.
Celia supposes that whatever her lot in the French Quarter, it could always be worse.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: “This is going to sound like the most privileged white girl thing to say, but… I’m better than that,” Dani says once they’re back in the car.
“Than living in a slum with a dozen locks on the doors and glued-together tableware for Wonder Bread tea sandwiches.”
“Would that… would that really be me without you and Stephen…?”
Celia: “Like Edith? I doubt it.” Celia shakes her head.
“Edith is a true-blood. Caitiff, but still true-blood.” A pause. “You’d probably be like one of the people outside the door.”
GM: Dani looks horrified.
“My dad’s the fucking D.A.! My mom works at Vanderbilt! I went to the ‘debutante West Point,’ I’m going to be a lawyer! I’m not a Malveaux, but, fuck, I’m not… that! I’m not!”
Celia: “A lot of them don’t have those connections,” Celia agrees. “But, Dani… no one cares who you used to be, not if it doesn’t benefit them. It could keep you off the streets, sure, I’ll agree with you there. But nice places, nice homes, nice streets—those are all the turf of bigger, stronger, older vampires. They get wind of you and then best case scenario you’re out on your ass here with the rest of them.”
GM: Dani shudders. “I know they don’t care. That’s what’s so awful. I don’t… I don’t want to be that!”
Celia: “You won’t be. You have two of us looking out for you.”
“But that’s why I told him not to send you to Houston.”
GM: “Because that’s what I’d be over there.”
GM: “I hate this. I hate that I was turned into this. That I have garbage blood. Like Stephen told me everyone else thinks.”
Celia: “There are some benefits,” Celia says hesitantly. “You heard what Edith said, about being able to learn all sorts of different powers. We can get you some blood from Stephen and I to keep you juiced up, if you want. See what all you can learn. You’ll never get old, so you can practice law for as long as you want.”
“And… I mean, you know, she’s not an expert even if she has Geraldine. She doesn’t know everything that’s out there. No one does. Maybe we can find something else, you know?”
“Because… magic is real, no matter what the kid said.”
GM: “I hope,” Dani says glumly. “Celia, I don’t want to be duskborn. I’ve always been second best, my whole life, and this isn’t just… it’s not even that.”
Celia: No. It’s last. Not even that, it’s a consolation prize. A pat on the back, maybe. Worse.
“She mentioned killing people,” Celia says after a second. “I assume you’re not into that, even if it would make you stronger.”
GM: “I think how they’re, we’re, treated is horrible. I’d never do that or be part of it. Hell, I’d even like to fight against it. I’d just… rather not do it as one of them. Let me be the fucking rich girl who fights for poor people, yes that’s entitled, no I don’t even care.”
“I don’t want to kill people. She said it was just temporary anyway.”
Celia: “Yeah,” she says, “I didn’t think so. It’s a quick road down a dark path, I bet.”
“Maybe there’s a different solution.”
“If you’re passing as a mortal, maybe there’s stuff you can do that way. Since, um, ghouls aren’t quite respected either.” She winces. “Sorry I reprimanded you.”
“Just the… cover.”
GM: “It’s okay. And I picked up on that, yeah.”
“Fucking Christ. Edith was pathetic and even she thought she was better than ghouls.”
Celia: “It was an interesting twist to be the most important person in the room,” Celia says wryly.
“But you’re right. She is.”
“That’s how they all are. Even the lowest of them needs someone else to look down on.”
GM: There’s a tap against the car window. It’s Roderick in his disguise.
Dani doesn’t say anything, just pulls open the door and hugs him.
Celia: Celia waves at him from over Dani’s shoulder.
GM: He waves back with an amused smile, but it fades when he says, “Hey, you’re trembling. Is everything-”
“We got jumped and attacked by a bunch of homeless people, and I wish you’d been there, and Edith was awful,” says Dani.
Celia: “Dani lost her purse,” Celia adds. “And one of them bit me.”
GM: “What!?” He looks between Celia and his sister. “Where are they? I’ll make them regret that.”
Celia: Celia glances in the direction of the gaggle of homeless people, even though she knows the blood thief isn’t there.
GM: Most of them are gone. The remaining ones look asleep or strung out.
Celia: So much for playing hero.
GM: Roderick looks in their direction. “Those guys?”
Dani shakes her head.
Celia: “They’re gone.”
Celia glances at the time, wondering if she has a moment to talk to the pair before she has to meet the brothers and get ready for her date.
GM: There’s time.
“All right,” he says, “I can look for them. What’d they look like?”
“Like a bunch of dirty homeless people,” says Dani.
“There’s a lot of those,” says her brother.
Celia: “They’re probably long gone,” Celia says heavily. “Just reminds me that I need you to show me how to throw a better hook, and whatever training you think I need to keep the Beast back. It tried to get out and I was too busy focusing on keeping it in to be able to fight them off.”
“Should have known better than to come out this way without backup. Sorry, Dani.”
GM: “It’s okay. We got out. Just… god, yes! Show me how to punch too!”
Roderick nods. “I can show you both how to do that. There’s no cure for the Beast, but the more familiar you are with combat, and the calmer a head you can maintain, the harder it is for the Beast to get out.”
“I still have a Beast,” says Dani.
“What? I thought duskborn didn’t frenzy.”
Celia: “Do we want to drive and chat? Back to my place?”
“Edith said there are things that can draw it out of duskborn.”
GM: “Oh my god yes, I don’t want to stay here,” agrees Dani.
Celia: “Extreme hunger, or on the brink of death.”
GM: “Okay,” says Roderick. “That’s good to know.” He glowers in the direction of the homeless. “I suppose they probably are long gone. Dani, we’d better cancel your credit cards, and disable your stolen pho-” He pauses. “Actually, we might be able to track it.”
Celia: “Let’s get back to my place and take a look so we’re not just sitting out here.”
GM: “Okay. Meet you there.”
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: Celia sends a text to Reggie on the way.
Find a purse by chance?
GM: Yep. Guy who stole it still had it.
Celia: Where are you?
Not that it matters.
Nvm. Can you give to Randy to bring to my place? Will be with you shortly for the rest of it.
GM: K. Bring your thief and snack too?
Celia: No. Stay there. Will meet you soon.
GM: I’m at a disgusting shithole. Can drop off at your spa.
Celia: That works. Stick around though, have a gift for you.
GM: I got one too and it’ll make you scream all night long ;)
Celia: :eggplant: :peach: :sweat-drops: :heart-eyes:
GM: Soon enough, Celia and the Garrison siblings are back at her place.
Dani fills her brother in on what they learned at Edith’s.
“Okay,” he says, “that’s useful to know. I’d heard about duskborn changing their disciplines. I didn’t know that was how they did it.”
“I thought you knew a fair amount of duskborn,” says Dani.
Celia: He does.
He just doesn’t talk to them.
GM: “Fewer since the Cypress Grove Massacre,” he grimaces. “But I’m not sure all of them knew how their disciplines worked.”
Celia: “It confirmed what I thought, though. Anything we know she can learn.”
GM: “And just the fine details of how it works.”
“That information about Kindred blood, for instance.”
Celia: Celia had already assumed that, though. She thought she’d talked to him about it already.
GM: Dani looks between them. “Can you make me stronger?”
For a moment, there’s that look every lick gets in their eye when asked for blood.
Roderick thinks. “If you give me some of yours first, I could give it back, and we could do this every night. Balances out.”
Celia: “She seemed to kind of spontaneously develop it, like I didn’t have to teach her how to charm someone. I think she might be able to just… pick things up.”
“But that’s something we can probably test.”
GM: “All right,” says Dani. She shows her fangs and bites into her wrist.
The blood doesn’t flow immediately.
She has to growl and actively bite deeper. Practically chew.
There’s a flash of pity in Roderick’s eyes when she’s not looking up.
Celia: “I can get a cup,” Celia says, rising, “so you’re not… like… sex…” she trails off awkwardly, both at the words and the way Dani has to bite into herself.
GM: “Cups are better anyways,” says Roderick.
“You shouldn’t drink directly from me.”
“Oh, why not?” asks Dani.
Celia: She should have kept her mouth shut.
Celia rummages through her cabinets for a cup.
She finds an old tube of lipstick and roll-on perfume while she’s looking and wonders how it ended up in the cabinet.
GM: “Because of the bond,” says Roderick, gently tugging away Dani’s wrist to make her stop.
Celia: Celia returns with the cup, casually nodding her head in agreement at Roderick’s words. The look in her eye suggests she already explained this to Dani.
GM: “Sorry?” says Dani.
He glances her way. “Think she’s already covered it.”
Celia: “When I went over the Traditions,” Celia says gently, “the usual punishments, but how they’d be worse for you because of being duskborn, remember?”
“I know I threw a lot at you that night…” She trails off, offering Roderick the cup.
Now would be a perfect time for Randy to show up.
GM: “You did, yeah,” says Dani. “What’s the bond, though?”
Celia: It shouldn’t be a big deal. Something she’d already told Dani. So she acts like it’s not a big deal, keeping her tone casual.
“When you share blood with someone and take it right from the source, it creates the bond. Like them more. That sort of thing. Sometimes elders use it as punishment, and sometimes licks do it with each other in a blood marriage. Like Roderick and I…”
She lifts her eyes to his face.
“Might do that, maybe? A mutual..?”
GM: Her sire’s face stares back at her.
“That’s traditional,” Roderick says. “All the way, to consummate things. But I feel like two steps is already enough. At three… does your love become artificial?”
“Steps?” asks Dani.
Celia: Celia lets the hurt flash across her face. She drops her gaze a beat too slow to hide it, looking away. He can answer his sister’s questions.
GM: “Hey, what is it?” he says, resting his hands on her shoulders.
“We haven’t taken the full plunge.”
Celia: “You don’t want to,” she says to the ground.
GM: “You do? What’s your thinking there?”
Celia: Severing the hold his sire has over him, mostly.
“N-nothing. It was st-stupid.” She wipes at the red threatening to fall from her eyes.
GM: He pulls her in to a hug.
“Hey, hey. It’s okay. Talk to me.”
Celia: For a moment she’s stiff. For a moment, she’s mindful of Dani’s presence in the room. But then she uses it, lifting her eyes to the girl as if to say, “the vision.” Maybe Celia was right to be worried in the car. A second later she buries her face against his chest, whispering half-formed words and sentences about having already lost him twice, he’s the only good thing that has ever happened to her, wanting to love him forever, never being torn apart… it’s like something out of a fairy tale, isn’t it? Eternal love. There’s nothing artificial about it if it’s built on something real.
GM: “Okay,” he says, stroking her hair and back as he holds her. “Okay. There are lots of Kindred who feel the same way as you. It’s a perfectly legitimate point of view. There’s nothing stupid about it. The traditional blood marriage is built off it.”
Celia: “Y-you don’t like me enough to w-want one.”
GM: “What?! Celia, don’t be crazy, I love you!”
Celia: Just not enough to willingly make it permanent.
“Okay,” she says quietly.
It’s a completely inadequate response to what he said, but she doesn’t offer anything more. The two syllables carry the weight of her hurt and rejection. She slides off of him, saying something about finding a cup, and moves into the kitchen. She doesn’t even look at the one she’d already put on the table.
GM: He follows after her. Dani, looking somewhat uncomfortable throughout the lovers’ dispute, stays where she is.
“I have concerns about it,” he says, putting his hands on her shoulders again. “But I want the same thing as you, a loving marriage that lasts for as long as we do. I’m just weighing whether a full bond is the best way to help us achieve that.”
Celia: She doesn’t turn to face him, staying where she is in front of the counter with her palms resting upon it. She can see her reflection in the window: a trail of red tears staining her skin, her lover standing behind her. In the window his face shifts, turning into her sire’s once more. And there, beside him, Roderick’s sire with the golden hair. More shadowy figures pop into place, other people she has been bound to: her adoptive sire’s sneering face. Pietro’s casual amusement. Her grandsire’s genial smile, expression caught mid-laugh. The cowboy’s lips forming the word “lush” as he tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. All of them pulling her in different directions… until she’d taken that leap with her sire. Already in love with him, worried someone would try to yank her away, she took the “punishment” of that third sip.
How many is Roderick bound to? How many licks have collared him? How many of them demand his attention and service? Even if she didn’t want to break the hold his sire has over him she’d still want to come first. Sharing her lover has never sat well with her. Anyone else, maybe. But not him. Not Roderick.
There’s some truth to this display of emotions, then. Some tiny kernel of love behind all the manipulation, buried deep beneath what she feels for her sire but still present.
She takes a breath, wipes at her bleeding eyes, and finally turns to him.
“Can we continue this later? There are things I want to talk to you about, but…” her gaze dips past him to where his sister waits in the other room. “I don’t want to waste your night with her.”
GM: “I can see Dani later,” he says, tilting her chin up in his hands to meet his gaze. His fangs are long in his mouth at the heady scent of her tears, but his eyes are no less concerned. “You’re upset right now.”
Maybe he’d say that anyway.
But his sister isn’t the one he’s twice-collared to.
Granted, neither is Celia.
Celia: Celia shakes her head.
“Don’t do that to her.” She lowers her voice, leaning in. “She just found out a lot, she saw them outside Edith’s… don’t do that to her, Roderick, we can talk later. I’ll be okay. I shouldn’t be… I just assumed…”
She trails off. It’s enough to know that he’d blow off his sister if she asked him to.
GM: “You’re positive you want to wait?” he asks, giving her a long look. “Dani’s here. She’s safe. She’s not about to get jumped by more homeless.”
Celia: “It’s… probably a long conversation. Go out with your sister. We’ll have the rest of the night.” Celia touches the tips of her fingers to his cheek. “And the rest of everything.”
GM: “We will,” he smiles. “All right. I love you. Collar or no collar.” He gives her a soft kiss on the lips.
Celia: She doesn’t mean to let it linger, but she does, pulling him against her until her low back hits the counter top.
How much of it is the bond? And how much is him? Would he still love her if he knew everything? Or is it artificial, like he’d said?
She’d loved him without it. And him, the other one, the one she can’t help but compare him to. There wouldn’t even be a conversation with him. Just silent demands, cold lips, the taste of blood.
It’s not fake. It can’t be.
“I love you too,” she says when she finally pulls away.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: With Roderick’s hand in hers, Celia leads the way back to the sitting room where they’d left Dani. She gives the girl a look through still slightly-red eyes, silently conveying a reference to their earlier conversation.
“Sorry,” she says to Dani, “I didn’t mean to fall apart in front of you.”
No doubt Dani remembers the words in the car: Celia’s concern about the vision, her brother.
GM: “It’s okay,” says Dani, looking between the pair concernedly. “Things are good now?”
“Yeah,” says Roderick. “Come on. We’ve got a lot to cover tonight.”
Dani looks back at Celia for a moment, as if to ask about that very vision.
“Well, while I’m here, can I ask you two what a blood marriage is?” she says instead.
“It’s a Kindred marriage,” says Roderick. “It’s similar enough the breather version, though brides usually wear black instead of white. Some do red, but that’s more ‘liberal.’”
“Because you’re making death together, not life,” her brother explains. “Endless and eternal death. Guests usually dress for a funeral. The sire gives away the bride rather than the father, and the couple seals the union in blood to show their commitment. In place of a kiss. In fact, more traditional Kindred think a blood marriage without that is like a breather marriage without sex—it hasn’t been consummated.”
“There’s other customs too, like sometimes the sire carrying the bride in a coffin, and the couple feeding on a vessel together. Mortal spouses are usually preferred. There’s more feeding afterwards.”
“That sounds… morbid,” says Dani.
“It can be. It’s usually a Sanctified or Crone priest who blesses the union, too.”
“I don’t really want a vermilion wedding for us, though. I’d rather get married as breathers, with Celia all in white.”
Celia: Celia hesitates long enough that Dani moves on without mentioning the vision. She looks relieved; she doesn’t think that talking about it in front of Dani, or even right now, is going to do either of them any good. Maybe Dani will mention it to her brother during their chat tonight.
“I don’t think it’s all that morbid,” Celia says. “If you’re not killing the vessels it’s kind of like how some breathers do that unity cup thing, only with blood instead of wine. I can’t imagine my sire giving me away, though. Maybe my grandsire.”
Not that Roderick would want him at the wedding.
Celia lifts her shoulders in a shrug. After a moment she sighs. “I kind of want both.”
“I don’t even know who I’d invite, though, and it seems like everyone would be shitty about it because of how young we are. Maybe if we were older. Or uniting a covenant. Or even just more important.”
GM: “There are younger licks who have vermilion weddings. And there are ones I’d want to invite. The problem is none of them can know.”
“I’d obviously love to have Coco.”
“But I’d love to have my dad and friends from my human life too.”
“What, you still don’t want Mom?” asks Dani. “After all I said? She was just as broken up at your funeral.”
Roderick effects a sigh. “It’s moot. They both think I’m dead either way.”
Celia: She hates to agree with him, but it’s true. Celia gives his hand a squeeze.
“We can talk about it further. It’s not like we’re getting married tomorrow or anything.”
GM: “True enough,” her lover agrees. “Anyway. We should get going.” He gives her another kiss. “Love you.”
Celia: She thought Randy would be here by now with the bag, but she supposes she can give it to her later.
“Love you too. I’ll see you later tonight. Have fun together.”
A final kiss sees them out.
So long as I come first.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: A second after they leave she digs her phone out of her bag to call the missing ghoul.
GM: He is on his way with his brother. A snack and the thief is too much for one person to physically carry.
Jade has a moderate wait before they’re there, along with two unclean (and unclean-smelling) homeless men. One has a stake rammed through his heart. The other is handcuffed and makes terrified sounds past a cloth gag.
Randy comes back with the purse after another trip.
“This asshole was a giant pain in the ass the entire time,” says Reggie, giving him a hard shove to the ground. He hits his face and makes a sound of pain. “Wish we’d had a sedative.”
“Illegal for cops to use on people, but we aren’t fucking cops.”
Granted, drinking a sedated man’s blood would sedate Jade too.
Celia: Not if she lets it wear off. She’ll get them something, in any case.
“I thought we were meeting at the spa,” she says idly, looking at the struggling man on the ground.
GM: Reggie shrugs.
The gagged man makes noises that sound like pleading.
Celia: “Messier here,” she says with a forced sigh.
There’s no wet room in her haven like there is at the spa, despite what rumors claim.
GM: “Well, you aren’t gonna kill him, babe?” says Randy.
“You’re such an idiot around her,” says Reggie.
Celia: “He stole from me,” Jade says to the pair, “and this one bit me. Besides, think of how much I’ll have to share when I do.”
She looks up, catching sight of his face. The expectation that she’s not that bad. She hesitates a moment, then finally does what she does best: she lies.
“Just a hit,” she sighs, “for me, for you two. But there’s people coming by later and I don’t want to risk spilling.” A gesture toward the light carpet, the cream colored couch.
GM: The words ‘share’ and ‘hit’ gets both ghouls’ immediate attention.
“Okay,” Randy says, seemingly relieved. “Could use the bathroom.”
“Or just haul these idiots to the spa,” says Reggie.
The gagged man makes more noises.
Celia: “The spa is easier,” Jade says with a nod. She does so appreciate Reggie’s quick uptake and pragmatism. “I need a space for him, anyway.” A vague nod of her chin to the thin-blood.
“So, whose car?” She smiles at her boys.
GM: They take the two brothers’ cars to Flawless. At this hour, the spa is silent and still. They enter Jade’s suite. Reggie dumps the handcuffed man onto the ground in an unceremonious heap. Randy hauls the staked thin-blood onto the marble slab of a table.
Celia: Jade is content to leave the thin-blood alone for a moment. His staked form probably isn’t going anywhere.
“Is he going to say anything interesting if I ungag him?” she asks the brothers about the other.
GM: “Doubt it,” says Reggie.
“Some people don’t have shit to say.”
That’s Veronica says about Micheal.
There’s nothing worth listening to out of that mouth. So he doesn’t get to use it.
Celia: Veronica is right, too.
GM: “I think you’ve got lots to say, babe,” Randy adds supportively.
“So smooth,” snorts Reggie.
Celia: Well that’s nice of him. Celia gives him a smile.
GM: He smiles widely back.
The homeless man moans and pulls against the cuffs.
Celia: “Why don’t you wait outside a sec, Randy, so I can get what I need and then share.”
GM: “Okay,” he smiles, stepping out.
Reggie immediately shoves her against the wall, his breath coming hot and heavy as he grabs her head and hungrily explores her mouth with his tongue. He drops his hands after a moment, squeezing her ass with one while his other slides down her pants.
“Yeah, I got what you need…”
Celia: Well this certainly isn’t what she’d meant, but she’s hardly going to complain. She tugs him, pulling him with her until her back hits the wall, shimmying out of her pants the moment his hands drop. Hers find the buttons on his jeans, yanking them down just far enough to expose the part that she wants.
GM: He fills her eagerly. “Wrap your legs around me,” he murmurs, hefting her into the air. The strong ghoul isn’t so strong as Roderick, but the Blood’s gifts together with Jade’s light weight (courtesy of her removed organs) make the stand and carry position easy to pull off. Reggie pants as he thrusts into her and carries her across the room. He stomps down hard on the homeless man, eliciting a chorus of pained muffled sounds as the man tries to crawl away.
Celia: Jade’s thighs spread around him when he asks, feet leaving the floor. He keeps her aloft, filling her with his stiff cock as soon as she’s airborne, her own noises joining those of the homeless man. She digs her fingers into his shoulder, then the back of his head, pulling his lips against hers; a second later she cuts through her own tongue with her fangs. A second nip cuts into him. She drinks from him and he from her, blood mingling on their tongues while they fuck.
GM: The taste of his domitor’s blood only further inflames Reggie. He stomps down hard enough on the homeless man’s hand that Jade hears a nasty crunch. The man’s scream is audible past his gag. Reggie pants like a bull in heat as he carries Jade over to the table, throws off the staked thin-blood, and takes her over it. The marble is cool, but his body is warm as his balls slap against her thighs. The Toreador’s juices run down the table’s drainage, and then finally the ghoul’s seed after he blows his load and it seeps out of her.
“God, that cuck’s in the next room…” he pants.
Celia: That makes it even hotter, doesn’t it? So does the man’s screams behind the gag. When Jade cums she cums hard, burying her face into the hollow of his neck as everything hits her.
“You’re going to be the best lick,” she murmurs against his skin once it’s over, “but I am really going to miss fucking you.”
GM: “We can still feed,” he says, idly tracing a finger across her breasts.
“That bedwarmer you got me is working out pretty well. We should fuck with her around.”
Celia: “It’s not the same,” she sighs, running her fingers through his short hair. “So much better when you do both at the same time.”
“With her watching?”
“Or part of it?”
GM: “Part of it. I can do your ass and she can eat you out.”
Celia: That sounds like a winning combination.
“We will, then.”
“You like her?”
GM: “She cried and yelled a lot the first few times, but she doesn’t really do that anymore.”
Celia: “Cried like… telling you to stop?”
GM: Reggie shrugs.
“Think she just needed a dick inside to stop crying over Evan.”
Celia: “You want her? Once we get you Embraced?”
“Already broken in.”
GM: “She isn’t you, but yeah, why not.”
Celia: “I can’t be your ghoul,” Jade says with some amusement.
GM: “Duh. Meant in bed.”
Celia: “If your dick doesn’t work anymore you won’t want her like that, either.”
“But she’s still a useful servant.”
GM: “You said feeding’s just as good. Can still do that to her.”
Celia: “Mm.” Jade presses a kiss against his cheek. “Maybe you’ll keep it.”
GM: “More’s always better.”
“Dropped some hints around my mom. Think she’d be up for a three-way. Just set me up with you and yours.”
“Also, if you can have your kid in the next room, I’ll make it even better.”
“Could invite Randy over to babysit her while we fuck…”
Jade can see his cock growing stiff again.
Celia: It’s enough for her, too. Minus the thoughts about her mom.
But she flips the pair of them so that she’s on top, leaning down to whisper in his ear.
“I’m going to drain him,” she says of the homeless guy, “and I want you to fuck me while I do.”
GM: “Let’s hose him down first. He smells.”
Celia: Jade makes a vague gesture toward the hose. It’s usually to spray the place down, but it’ll work for this.
“Have at it.”
She busies herself stripping.
GM: The man is trying to escape past the door, but cannot get far with his hands cuffed behind his back. He makes more pleading noises as Reggie grabs him by the ear, adding, “Mom still likes to do this,” and hauls back for a good hosing down under cold water. Reggie tears off the man’s wet clothes after that. Ribs show on his scar-ridden body.
Celia: Jade finds a container to bleed into. No need to let it go to waste.
“You shouldn’t have stolen from me,” Jade says to the wet, naked man. She strides toward him, heels clicking. They’re the only thing she still wears. Fangs flash in her mouth as she approaches.
“Make me cum right when he dies, Reggie.”
GM: Her lover does his best.