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[personal profile] darwins_despair
Well, here it is. The story has been swimming in my head for weeks now, and I finally have it fixed in such a way that I am thoroughly satisfied. So now, after a wait of 10 months, I present to you

CHAPTER 2


It was still several hours before he managed to pull himself from the seat he was still sitting in when Harlin left. He really couldn’t explain it. Not even to himself. This was a girl who was, at best, average to look at. That wasn’t it, somehow. It wasn’t really her looks, it was just something supernatural that drew him to her. He spent many hours just sitting in the chair, reeling from the encounter he had just had. Had it not been for the impending sunrise, it was likely he would not have even left at all.

It was no accident that the bar he frequented was a rather unusual bar in and of itself. Unbeknownst to him, all manner of unusual creatures found their way into this very bar. Animagi. Wizards. Werewolves. Demons and angels. Even a handful of vampires managed to find their ways here. It was not a particularly striking bar. There was nothing really to make it stand out from the handful of others scattered around the town. It was just something uncanny and completely coincidental that drew all these extraordinary creatures under the guise of normal humans to this very bar. In fact, it was now a rare occurrence for a regular, run of the mill human to come into the bar and stay for more than a drink. It was after their one drink that they simply picked up and left, never to be seen again. Nothing more than a sheer chance drew Leujin to this very bar on the night he saved the owner’s life.

It was now approaching dawn, and Leujin knew he would have to start walking soon lest he be caught unawares by the rising sun and decimated into a pile of dust. He also found this the best time to travel as it was the time when fewest other vampires would be out, in particular those of the clan whom he hunted. He rationalized this to himself by saying that it was he choosing the times of the hunt.

So many years had passed since he was first attacked. He was truly hard pressed to find any vampires at all, much less those in the clan of the one which had attacked him. In years past there had been an uprising of killings occurring in the farms around the land. The owners would wake up to find their cows slaughtered, only there was no blood at all. Only a dead a cow with two small wounds in its neck. Naturally they would jump to the conclusion that it was vampires, and a security system was set up. The farmers would wait in the barn to find the alleged killers, and once the door opened the shots would be fired.

Naturally, of course, some of the older vampires had figured this out before long, and found ways around that. They simply put the farmer under a spell and bamfed into the farm, unnoticed. These were the ones who were still surviving: the ones who were clever enough to get past the farmers and their guns. Most of the ones who got shot and killed were the ones who had only been turned in the last century or so.

These, of course, were the ones Leujin still hunted; the older, clever vampires who were members of the clan of the one who turned him, some of them kin to Cain, the first of the vampire kind. Ever since his unfortunate run in with the vampire in the canyon, he had met numerous run-ins with members of the clan. He was hard pressed to get away from these encounters without a few scrapes and bruises, forcing him to feed more than he would have normally. It was that reason alone that gave him a thirst for the deaths of the clan. He had no idea why the vampire who attacked him had sicked his clan on poor Leujin, but he knew he didn’t like it. He’d not seen hide nor hair of them since he killed the last one some months ago, bringing the count up to a healthy half-dozen.

Just thinking about it brought about a rage in him that he hadn’t felt for many, many years, forcing him to kick a nearby tree, which, in turn caused him to curse rather loudly.

Suddenly he realized he’d been so lost in his own thoughts that he was now standing in front of his own home. The tree which he’d kicked was the apple tree he’d planted upon acquiring the property some centuries ago. It was nowhere near the glory of his former kingdom and castle, but it was home enough for a lone shut-in. It was a quaint little house, not too dissimilar from those in the nearby township. Of course, he valued this house so much more because of its distance from any semblance of civilization, the nearest town being the one which held the bar which he frequented. It was no more than a mile away from the town. Close enough that he could see signs of life in the oil lamps burning in the open windows, but far enough away that nobody bothered to come calling unless it was really important. He’d managed to scare away enough solicitors (those rare ones that came after the sun had set) to cause all this. As a matter of fact, the only person who had come to his door in the last five years was the mayor of the town asking for a donation to help build a place where the children of the community could go when the parents were out running errands. Embittered though he was, he still had a soft spot for children and gladly gave up a small sack of gold.

Leujin sighed as he opened the door and kicked off his boots, caked with mud from the trek to and from the bar. The entrance was built into a small arch where a rack, presumably built for people who had regular guests in need of taking off traveling cloaks, laid off to the side. It was currently empty, but Leujin swiftly changed that in dragging off his own cloak and carelessly tossing it onto one of the empty hooks. The main room was a fairly empty area that looked highly unlived in. There were shelves upon shelves full of books, all of which heavily covered in dust. Off to the right was a short hallway, leading to the bedroom. They had been bought, read once, and left on the shelf after that. In the middle of the room was a table with intricate designs, weaving this way and that, carved into the legs and borne out in the ornamental woodwork on the edges of the table.

Atop the table there were piles of notes strewn all about and an open book, heavily dog eared and marked with scads of notes in the margins. Next to the book lay an average inkwell and a quill, neither of which striking except that the inkwell had no stopper in the top.

The chair that sat in front of the table was an overstuffed armchair with an incredibly high back. The chair had probably reclined at one point, but there were so many rips and tears and patches to cover the rips and tears, some of which having pieces of wood and metal sticking out, that chances are all it was used for now was sitting. Sitting done by Leujin while he went over the notes, poured over the open book, making notes and scratching out lines here and there. Leujin casually walked over to the chair, sat down and shuffled some of the notes, sighed again and got up, throwing the notes back on the table. As the notes fluttered about, one in particular stood out. It was a map of the area, with several heavy, red “X” marks. Written across the top was the title “Slain Vampires of the Clan” in a flowing, ornamental handwriting. Leujin’s handwriting.

He marched heavily towards the bedroom, running his hand along the wall as he turned the corner. In the bedroom was a window on the far wall, though it was boarded up so tightly that not even a sliver of light would shine through. There was another series of hooks on the left wall, this one full of Leujin’s clothes. Traveling clothes, mostly, some stitched to look like a merchant, others to look like something a vagabond might wear. Under the hooks was an extra set of heavy leather armor.

Leujin moved to the right of the room, where sat a small end table with a candelabra upon it. He tugged the candelabra forward, and a large section of floor slid into the wall. From this rose a bed. It was an average bed, with an average pillow on the side nearest the small table and candelabra, and average sheets thrown about like an average man slept there. He took off his traveling clothes while the bed rose, followed by the heavy leather armor. Under that he wore simple, white underclothes. He sat on the edge of the bed briefly, then turned and fell onto the pillow. Dawn would come in less than an hour, and he knew this, so he simply pulled the candelabra again and the bed sank, now with the half-asleep man to weigh it down.

* * *


The next evening Leujin woke in the same way which he always did: as soon as the sun set completely behind the horizon, the solar sensors on the wooden plank above his bed kicked in and the gears kicked in to motion. Slowly but surely, the bed rose above the floor level with the already awake Leujin sitting atop it. He scratched his head and let out a silent yawn as he dropped his left, and then his right foot to the floor. He lifted himself up and began buckling his armor on, preparing to head into the study to go over his maps again. As he was fastening the belt across his waist, he heard a sudden crashing outside.

He stopped suddenly, pulled the sword out of the scabbard and stalked outside. Under the cover of darkness he crept around the corner of the house, careful to stay hidden in the shadows.

And then he saw it. Sitting atop an empty trash container. It was a cat. A sly grin crept across his face and he sheathed his sword. “Hello there, cat,” he said, as he walked forward. The cat responded with a satisfied mew. Leujin smiled again, and came into the light, the cat coming forward as well.

It was then that Leujin saw that there was more to this cat than he originally had seen. It was sheer black, so dark that it seemed all the light in the world was being sucked into it, and the dawn would never come again. Even the eyes of the cat were darker than the darkest night Leujin had ever seen in his many years alive. The only thing that broke the cats sleek, black form was the one truly unusual thing about it: where the cat’s shoulder blades were, two leathery wings were folded back across its body. The cat looked as though it had a large bat riding on its back, but in reality the wings were firmly attached to the feline form.

He mewed again.

Leujin cocked his brow and strode towards the cat. The cat leapt off the garbage bin and padded towards the man before him. He mewed again and strode towards Leujin further, circling around his legs and purring. Leujin bent down and stroked the cat on the head, and he purred louder. “Hello, cat,” he said again.

From the look in the cat’s eyes, he said hello, too. Leujin smiled and picked the cat up, cradling it in his arms. He stroked his finger along the neck, “No collar,” he said, “You must be a stray,” He smirked again and walked back to the front door of his home. He opened the door, dropped the cat on the floor, and walked over to the chair. He pulled the scabbard and belt off and laid it carefully next to his chair as he sat down. He watched the cat cautiously as it strode back and forth across the house, sniffling its new surroundings.

“Would you like to live here, cat?” He said as the cat came to his chair and sniffed his outstretched hand. He smiled again. First the woman in the bar, Harlin, and now this unusual, if very friendly, stray cat. Two new friends in as many nights. The cat mewed at him again and he stroked the cat’s head, “I suppose if you’re to live here I might want to find you a name,” the smile faded. He’d never had anything before which he could have named, so nothing was really coming to mind. The one thing that he did notice was the way he kept getting lost in the cat’s seemingly endless black expanse for eyes. The only thing he could think of was the one thing he was feeling: Despair. Utter despair.

Soon he had realized just how lost he was in the cat’s eyes. He had also realized that he had said the word aloud: Despair. He said it again to himself, “Despair.”

The cat hopped into his lap, kneaded a small bed, and curled up, fast asleep. Leujin stroked the cats head again and said the name, “Despair.” As the words rolled off his tongue, so two did a bright red ribbon of light, curling itself around the cat’s neck, and securing itself fast around. It shone brightly, contrasting the utter darkness of the animal on the man’s lap. The light shimmered and danced around the cat’s neck, and Leujin smiled to himself, bending back to the table.

“Despair.”

Never forget that I always appreciate input, good or bad. This won't be a good story unless I get constructive criticism, so be honest.

But also be nice. I'm a sensitive artist.
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August 2006

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