(REVISED VERSION, as of 8/7/03)
The tavern was dimly lit, and the faint, musky aroma of scented candles
hovered in the air, mixed with the stench of smoke and alcohol from the
night's revelries. Tables were set about, some lining the walls and some
stuck into secretive corners, where the shady and mysterious creatures of
the night liked to sit and brood. The bar itself stood beckoningly against
the back wall, it's polished wood surface gleaming and smooth and waiting
to be called into use once again. Various brands of wine and other glorious
alcoholic beverages were displayed on shelves behind it, tempting all those
who happened to look towards them. The attraction was more than just human
nature, however - a sort of spell had been placed over the bar, drawing all
who entered the tavern to come and partake of what it offered. Although the
time was now quite early in the morning, and most had retired to their
rooms upstairs or had left for their homes and the comfort of their warm
beds. There would always be a few stragglers left behind, but the bartender
paid them no attention as he finished cleaning off the counter, ready to
close up shop after a long day's work. Normally, he would have stopped a
long time ago. But his keen intuition told him that he wouldn't be alone
for very long, and his intuition was never wrong. As it was, not an hour
later, a familiar figure slowly made her way down the steps to the left of
the bar, coming from one of the many rooms that housed countless customers
upstairs. Her hair, the color of rich, old wine, was left to fall limply
across her shoulders. She wore only a long sweater and a pained expression,
clutching very tightly to a very small, silver pendant that hung around her
neck. In its silvery depths was the tiniest amber stone, hardly visible to
the human eye. Upon seeing her, the bartender set down the glass he was
cleaning and hurried around to her, frowning in concern.
"Calaedrielle, what have I told you about this? You're ruining
yourself and you don't have to."
The much younger woman managed to give him a weak smile, but he could
see the tears welling in her eyes. "I know, Granth," she whispered, pausing
as she tried to stop the tremors in her voice. "I've always hated this way,
but it's done."
Granth just frowned again, his voice sad as he shook his head. "My
dear child. This was never to be your burden, and yet you took it upon your
shoulders. But for such an expense.."
Calae kept silent, walking with him back to the bar. She took a seat
there on one of the polished stools and rested her head on the counter as
Granth fetched her a tall glass of something. He set it in front of her
carefully, scratching her head lightly in affection. "Your favorite,
She smiled warmly, raising her head. "Thank you, Granth," she
murmured, bringing the glass of lemonade to her lips lightly.
Granth folded his arms on the counter, watching her. "You're very
welcome, Ms. Camdyn. You seem to be the only one who appreciates my
creations. I put a little something in there to give you some strength, by
the way. I know you don't like those," he added hastily at the look she
gave him, "but you need it. You're exhausting yourself."
Calae finished off her lemonade and set the glass down, leveling him
with a disapproving stare. "Only this once, Granth. But don't ever do it
He leaned over and gave her a pat on the head, something only he
could get away with and still come out of without any scratches. But a
noise made both of them freeze, and they slowly turned their eyes towards
the stairs, where another figure was lumbering down. Low, painful noises
escaped his throat as he gripped the rail tightly, stumbling from the steps
over to the bar. Calae stood up quickly, glancing at Granth sharply before
stepping away from the counter. "Good morning, Frelvun," she said coolly,
crossing her arms lightly.
Frelvun hissed at her, knocking a chair out of his way as he took
another painful step towards her. "You! What did you do to me, wench?!" His
voice was shrill and accusing, his arm shaking violently as he pointed his
finger at her.
Calae narrowed her eyes. "Exactly what you deserve, Tenma. Let go of
the body, you've already drained the man."
The thing that was Frelvun screeched and began thrashing around,
turning over tables and smashing chairs as Granth winced, mourning his
furniture. "No!! What have you done?! You bitch! NO!!" The thing, what
Calae had called a Tenma, tripped and fell, breaking another table in the
process. It shrieked again, convulsing on the ground as something slowly
came over it, a burning pain that seared across its body. Pain, like it had
never known before. "M.mercy."
Calae set her jaw, glaring down at the Tenma as it writhed on the
floor. "You feed on the living and drain the life force out of the human
body, taking away something in which you had no right to take, and you dare
as me for mercy?"
Granth slowly came up behind her, a gleaming sword in his hand. It
was a slender blade, slightly curved at the end. In the hilt a single amber
stone glinted with a false sort of light. "Calaedrielle."
She took the sword firmly, effortlessly spinning it once and
positioning it above the Tenma. "You will find no mercy here." In one swift
motion, she brought the slender sword down and thrust it straight through
the creature's stomach. It howled in pain, but froze just as quickly as the
sword itself began to take on an eerie green glow. Streaming rays of the
green light began to form, shooting off into different directions,
illuminating the shadowed tavern for a brief moment. The creature convulsed
around the blade, wailing once again as blood began trickling from his
mouth in little spurts. Slowly, the screams began to die into a choked
whisper, and then to nothing, replaced by something that could be called
silence, and the room fell into shadows once again.
Calae exhaled slowly, setting her sword down before crouching down
next to the body. Granth watched her closely from his position behind her,
glancing at the stab wound slightly as blood began to trickle down. A
moment passed, before Calae suddenly shot her hands out and snapped the
thing's neck, exerting a small, angry cry as she continued to hit the
thing, even after it was quite dead. Granth slowly put his hands under her
arms and pulled her away. "Calaedrielle.." He started, but he knew anything
he said couldn't change what had happened.
She wiped her cheek, trying to stifle the tears that she knew were
coming as she paced back and forth in anger. "Granth, go drink," she said
tersely, knowing very well that she couldn't hide the tears forever.
Granth stood up slowly. "Cal."
"You worry about me, and I worry about you!" She said sharply, trying
to be forceful but knowing how much her voice gave away. "You can't live on
rabbits forever, Granth! Drink his goddamn blood! He's dead, he's been
dead! Just go drink!"
Granth slowly put his arms around her, kissing her forehead lightly.
"Calaedrielle, shh. It's all right, child," he murmured, hugging her
affectionately. "I'll drink, Cal. But only after I know you are rested."
Calae leaned into the hug, crying into his shoulder. There were some
things that she couldn't do alone, despite how much she thought she could.
And there were some things that she never wanted to do again, although she
knew that until Kaern was free of the Tenma and other evils that walked the
night, she would do it again.
The Tenma, "evil spirits", of Kaern are just one of the many night-breeds
that wander around, searching for a host body to give them what energy the
need. They live like parasites, feasting off of man and sucking him dry of
all his life force. Without his spirit, man cannot exist. He is doomed to
spend eternity walking among others who have shared his fate, stuck between
life and death, as the Tenma uses the host body for its own selfish, evil
The actual difference between a Tenma spirit and the spirit of a man
is difficult to read, but there are special ways it can be done. One of the
two ways is by an unusual form of Telepathy. The sense is marked by the
different levels of Telepathy one can have, and they can vary from person
to person. A first level Telepath is the simplest form, in which the
Telepath can transmit thoughts and ideas, and pick up the same with a fair
degree of accuracy. The highest level, a fifth level Telepath (also called
a Seer, which most fifth levels find slightly derogatory), can not only
pick up and transmit these thoughts and ideas, but also can, in a sense,
see the aura of a person. Everyone has a unique color to their aura, but a
Tenma aura is colorless and projects only the worst kinds of emotion. But a
fifth level Telepath is a rare find indeed, and only the fifth level can
sense a Tenma.
The other way in which a Tenma can be revealed is by a Hunter.
Hunters seek out such evil spirits as the Tenma and destroy them. A Hunter
can always be distinguished from a common person by the amber stone he or
she is wearing. The stone allows the Hunter to manipulate certain energy
flows to suit their purpose, but only to an extent. More importantly, amber
serves as a sort of poison to Tenma and other evil spirits. It considerably
weakens the spirit, and mixed with the right flow of energy, can be lethal.
In the same sense a Hunter could also become a healer, using energy to
serve those in need. However, healing takes much more skill and practice
than hunting, and is therefore another rarity not often found in Kaern.
For whatever the reasons may be, Telepaths and Hunters hardly ever
associate with the other. For decades the pair have never gotten along, and
perhaps part of this is due to the competition between them when it comes
to the vanquishing of such spirits as the Tenma. It is a known fact between
the two that with each spirit destroyed, the one who destroys it gains
power. The stronger the spirit is means an increase in the power one can
absorb from it, and therefore a more capable Telepath/Hunter. So it seems
that power has, and always will, stand between persons and the greater goal
Granth smiled, nodding to another customer as he came down stairs. "Good
afternoon, sir. Sleep well?" He asked politely, as he kept polishing a
slender wine glass tinted blue.
The man scratched his head, stretching. "Eh, yeah, I guess. But I had
this awful dream. Some guy was screaming bloody murder, before everything
kinda went green, and then dark again. It was real strange, ya know?"
"Oh, that wasn't a dream, sonny. Last night," Granth stated solemnly,
setting the wine glass down, "One of those Hunter types caught a Tenma just
a few streets down. Ugly, it was. But thankfully the spirit was vanquished
and they finished burying the body about an hour ago."
The man made a face of surprise. "No way! Dude, I wanna check it
out!" And with that said, the customer ran out the door, a childish look of
delight on his face.
Granth chuckled lightly, shaking his head, and went back to cleaning
his wine glasses.
Calae came down the stairs then, seeming a lot calmer than she had
been earlier that morning. She had cleaned herself that up, and after
burning the long, two sizes too big sweater she had worn earlier, got
dressed in her regular clothes. Now, comfortable in a fitting pair of black
pants and a corset styled top, she walked coolly over to the counter,
glancing at some of the other customers who were busy eating their lunches,
or breakfasts, depending on how early they had gotten up. Her small, amber
pendant hung around her neck as always, though to most it served as mere
decoration, rather than for a special purpose. "I do believe you're looking
very well today, Granth," she said, smirking slightly as she set her foot
on a stool, tying up her black, leather boots.
Granth just smiled lightly. "Yes. I'm glad you're feeling better,
Cal. You certainly look very well yourself."
She just smiled and gave him a small wink before making sure her wine-
red hair was pulled back tightly from her face. "I've got some errands to
do, Granth. I should be back a little later. Think you can handle
yourself, old man?" She asked, a wry note to her voice.
Granth just gave her that patient smile of his, but his eyes changed
for a brief moment, glinting a very pale white before going back to normal.
"I'll be fine."
Calae found herself caught in one of those little errands some time later,
a very displeased expression on her face. She hated to wait for extended
periods of time - patience was definitely not one of her virtues. As she
blew a strand of hair out of her eyes, wondering slightly how it had
escaped it's prison in the first place, she looked back to the man in front
of her, who was trying to barter with the weapons master. Unlike the man in
front of her, she didn't have free time to throw around, waiting in line
behind jerks that just can't pay up. The thought darkened her mood
somewhat, and so she gestured towards the weapons master, catching his
attention, and made a signal for him to speed things up. He just grinned
slightly, before quickly finishing up business with the man. Calae raised
an eyebrow, watching the slow guy leave before crossing her arms on the
counter, the hint of a smile in her eyes. "Took you long enough."
"You know," he countered, "You're awfully brave, considering the
circumstances." With his chin in his hands, he smiled impishly at her and
gestured towards the many different glass cases that lined the shop, all of
which were filled to brim with different swords and knives and anything
else that could be considered a weapon.
Calae smirked slightly. "Of course. Where's my dagger, Vrent?" She
asked, cutting to the chase.
He looked innocent, running a hand through his long, golden blonde
locks. "Dagger? Oh, a dagger? I've gotten so many daggers in here as of
late. so many, so little time."
"Vrent." She tapped her fingers on the desk impatiently, shifting her
"Oh, that dagger." He grinned at her, his sly boyish grin that only
spelled mischief. "Yes, well, I took special care of it for you. Normally,
it should cost you, but since I like you so much, it won't. However, this
does mean you're going to owe me," he added, crossing his arms.
She cocked an eyebrow. "Naturally. Now would you kindly bring me my
dagger so I can pay you and leave? There are other things I have to get
done today, dear," she stated, aware that another man had come in line
"Oh, posh. Woman, one of these days, we're gonna have words-"
"Sticks and stones. Of course, if you remember correctly, I always
win that game," she added smoothly, smirking slightly in amusement as he
rolled his eyes, sighing dramatically.
"One day, Calae, you'll see. I'll get revenge. Until then." He shook
his fist at her, before turning and disappearing into the back room.
Calae rolled her eyes, and muttered something to herself about men
before walking over to a display case, checking it out to see if Vrent had
gotten anything new as of late while she waited. After a moment, however, a
curious prickling sensation made the hairs on her neck stand on end and she
turned to find a pair of deep gray eyes staring intently back. Logic would
say that the man was just waiting for his turn in line and, being a man,
let his eyes wander up and down the room and consequently, her. But
intuition told her something else, and she didn't like what it was telling
her. She held his stare coolly for a moment, her expression hiding any of
the insecurities she was feeling, before the back door opened again and
Vrent made his way out. Glancing away from the reddish-brown haired man,
almost grateful for the interruption, she walked back to the desk and
raised her eyebrows at the blonde. "Well?"
"You need to work on your patience, babe. Cause you don't have any,"
Vrent said, carefully taking the dagger out of its case and removing the
folded cloth. The silver dagger was handed over to Calae, who took it
gently, and promptly turned it so she could see the butt of the hilt. A
small circle of amber glinted back at her, and she smirked.
"Nice. Thanks, Vrent."
He gave a modest little sigh. "I do try. It's exactly half an inch,
like you wanted, and extends the whole length of the hilt. I daresay you've
got a splendid little weapon right here," he said, grinning.
She smirked slightly, and handed it back to him. "Yes, well, let's
hope so, for your sake."
Vrent winked at her, placing the dagger back in the narrow box and
folded the silk cloth over it with loving care before giving the box to
her. "If it's long and hard, you know I can work it. So I'll see you
She tucked the box into her bag, before slinging it back over her
shoulder and looking back to the expectant blonde. With a smile and a nod,
she agreed, "Yeah, sometime before dinner. And don't be late this time,
we're not going to wait for you."
He just wiggled his eyebrows at her, blowing a kiss before turning
his attention to the man who was behind her. She also extended that last
gesture, giving the suspicious man one last glance before she left the
It was near dusk when Calae finally started back towards the tavern,
pleased with the progress she had made throughout the day. She had
restocked her herbs, picked up her dagger (now complete with it's amber
center), bought some new hair ties, a cloak (the last one was ripped up
pretty badly in her latest Tenma experience), and a few other little odds
and ends, before deciding that she should head back and see what Granth was
up to. He never really liked it when she missed dinner, anyway. But when
she neared the little tavern, something about it made her tense up
considerably. She opened the door and entered as she always did, though her
eyes were much sharper than usual as she skimmed the room. There were
people in the tavern, talking and laughing, some playing cards. Everything
seemed normal. Almost normal, she noted, as she eyed the empty counter.
That wasn't like Granth at all. She made her way over to the polished bar
and set her back down behind it, switching it out for the sheath she knew
was hidden there. Her eyes scanned over the room once more before she
decided it was safe for her to leave. Once out of the main room, in one of
the private corridors near the back, she unsheathed her katana and picked
up her pace, moving quietly along the hallway. One door was cracked open
slightly, a small, flickering stream of light flowing from it, as well as a
soft murmur. She slipped into the room unnoticed, taking in the scene
before her as quickly as her brain could process it. A tall man with dark,
reddish hair was holding Granth against the wall; how he was able to still
a full-grown vampire was beyond Calae, but she noted this nevertheless.
Decreasing the distance between herself and the intruder, she raised her
sword and not a second later pressed it gently to the man's neck. "Drop
The man tensed slightly, but his grip loosened on Granth, who
immediately knocked the younger man's hand away. A glint of metal and a
resounding thud on the other side of the room gave Calae the clue she
needed in this little mystery - a dagger to the heart would stop even a
vampire. Especially if the man is quick enough to get it there in the first
Granth gave Calae a calm nod, as if saying hello, before pulling the
sword from the man's belt. With that down, he went to retrieve the dagger
that had only recently been poking him his ribs in a very uncomfortable
The man made a slight noise during all of this that sounded as though
he was very much annoyed. Calae could only raise an eyebrow and wonder
where someone could obtain such audacity as she kept her blade steady near
his adam's apple. "Do me a favor and cross your hands above your head for a
moment, love," she instructed him.
He did so, resting his crossed arms on his head rather leisurely.
Granth approached Calae, holding both weapons carefully. "So how was
She gave a little shrug. "It went rather well. Vrent seems to be over
Granth just nodded. "Ah, yes. That is good to hear."
She made a small noise in agreement before nodding towards the door
behind her. "Make sure it's properly locked, will you?" She asked, before
focusing her attention on the intruder once again. Very coolly, she told
him, "Turn around."
He did, and made a job of looking very irritated when he did it.
Calae raised her eyebrows, recognizing him immediately as the shady man
from the weapons shop. "You."
He smirked slightly. "Me."
"What the hell are you doing here?" She asked, her vague suspicions
from earlier suddenly much, much more feasible. He still had that air of
danger to him, that feeling that no matter how many times he flashed those
pearly whites, he'd still look like a viper, coiling to strike. Her eyes
narrowed as she took in his features, most of which were, admittedly,
rather pleasant to look at. She noticed his earrings right away; they were
"I was going to kill that vampire," he stated, sounding amused as she
studied him, "But you interfered. Strange thing for a Hunter to do, don't
you think?" His smoky gray eyes were locked onto hers, a cool, confident
little smirk settling on his visage.
"Only to some," she countered, before adding testily, "I think,
however, that was your first mistake. It's fairly obvious that Granth is
causing no harm here, and hasn't been for many, many years."
The man shifted his position slightly, unperturbed. "I don't make
mistakes. I just fix the ones people like you make."
Her blade still pressed firmly against his neck, she used her other
hand to backhand him square in the jaw. "Then that makes you a scavenger,
picking up after other people's scraps," she said sharply, drawing a small
trickle of blood where the katana met his skin. "You aren't a Hunter at
His smirk seemed to grow, matching the dangerous glint that seemed to
illuminate his eyes. "You're right, I'm not. I believe your kind refers to
us as Seers."
She scowled, almost looking as though she was disgusted. "Great, a
telepath. What's with the amber, then?"
"I like to broaden my horizons."
Her lip curled in distaste, but Granth's voice mitigated her for now.
"Cal, enough blood has been spilled this day."
The man glanced over at Granth, an unreadable look to his eye, before
looking steadily back to Calae. She, in turn, pursed her lips, stepping
back from the man as she removed her sword from it's previous position by
his neck. "What's your name?"
He smirked, once again amused. "Touu."
Her mouth thinned considerably at this. "Do I have your word that no
harm will come to Granth?"
Touu narrowed his eyes slightly, giving her a calculating look as he
took the chance to study her. "I cannot control the fates, but I assure you
that if anything were to happen, it would not be my doing. However," he
added, his voice a little thicker, "I cannot say the same for you."
To say the least, Calae wasn't impressed. "I'm fairly used to that."
She took a step back towards Granth, giving him a smile as he handed her
both of the man's blades. "Why don't you see to our new friend here," she
suggested, "While I go put these somewhere safe?"
Granth gave a nod, turning back to the stranger, Touu. He had been
watching Calae leave, but was now looking at him, a rather cool,
indifferent expression on his face. Granth had the sudden feeling that this
wasn't about him being a vampire at all.
"Mr. Granth," Touu started, brushing his hair out of his eyes, "I
apologize. I know well of you, and who you used to be, and that they are
very different and distant from each other. My reasons are my own concern;
just know I meant you no harm."
The smallest of smiles caught Granth and he nodded slowly. "Of
course. But I must warn you, Touu, that if any harm befalls Calae, I will
certainly mean you harm."
Touu chuckled. "Of course."
"With that said," Granth continued amiably, "Perhaps you would like a
room for the night? I do believe you look a little travel weary."
There was a moment of hesitation before Touu said smoothly, "Thank
you, Granth. That sounds fantastic."
'Weary indeed,' Touu thought wryly, as he ran a finger along the soft quilt
that covered his bed. Every other month, all Telepaths, male or female,
went through a period called The Burning in which their libidos increased
dramatically and all senses were heightened to extremes. 'Yes, it can be
very wearisome,' he thought, another chuckle escaping his lips.
Now that he was here as planned, however, Touu felt an overwhelming
sense of duty. He knew which sword she had put against his neck as soon as
he had felt the cold steel; he could feel the raw magic of the thing, the
blade almost quivering with power, directly through his skin. It was easy
to understand why Lucien has wanted it for so long, now that he saw it
first hand. Combined with the talisman, it must have been an incredible
weapon indeed. It would take an incredible amount of strength to control
it, as well.
That thought, naturally, brought him to the woman herself. Calae. She
was strong, it was true; he could feel that within her as well. And for
this time of the month, she was looking all the more appealing. But none of
them knew what kind of power they had at their disposal - obviously they
didn't know how to waken the sleeping dragon within. 'No matter,' he
thought, stretching out his back sinuously. 'That will make it all the more
easier for me, and much more enjoyable for Lucien.'
"I really hope you know what you're doing, Granth," Calae said warily as
she ambled down the steps, attempting to comb her wet, tangled hair. A
button down shirt was all that she wore, despite the fact that at such an
hour the tavern was quite full of people. Even so, The Midnight Hour (aptly
named, as it was), was more of a home to her than anything else, and most
of the regular customers knew her well enough to expect this kind of aloof
Granth followed her down the stairs, putting a few fingers to his
temples as he sighed. " I do, thank you. And I really wish you wouldn't
walk around like that. Have you no modesty, child?" He asked, taking a very
parental tone with her.
Calae just smirked slightly, her fingers still entwined within her
crimson locks. "I'm sure no one will mind, Granth. They probably won't even
notice, really," she quipped, walking behind the bar.
"What on Kaern are you wearing?"
She frowned, and stared straight back at him as she addressed Granth,
"No one of consequence, anyway."
Granth just sighed again, before some approaching customers stole
away his attention.
Touu just raised an eyebrow, leaning against the wall lightly as he
continued in his attempts to make a house out of cards, occasionally
glancing up at her or Granth or anyone that passed too closely.
After a few minutes Calae cursed rather loudly, earning a surprised
glance from Touu and a quiet reprimand from an otherwise occupied Granth.
She paid them no attention, however, as she preferred to interrogate her
own unruly locks. "Why won't you just cooperate with me?" She asked the
dampened strands as she held them out in front of her, a pout beginning to
pull on her lips.
"If it's so hell-bent, why don't you just cut it off?" Touu asked,
purposely focusing on his cards rather than Calae's hair problems. "You
women always insist on doing things the hard way," he muttered, squinting
his eyes some as he put the last card on top.
She sighed stubbornly, throwing her brush at his newly built house.
The cards crumbled around the comb and Touu could only watch in mild horror
as Calae frowned, "My hair is my only vanity."
Touu glanced up at her briefly, his gaze lapping up her bare thighs
appreciatively as he wondered if he could some how mix business with
pleasure here. 'Only vanity, indeed,' he thought, rolling his eyes
slightly. 'Damn woman.'