Authors note:

Yes, these are my characters! Mine! Mine! Mine! :: Grin:: Oh, and the Soultalkers all have pretty weird names, Latin pronunciation. So Aealia is said Aye-A-Lee-ah, Risha is Rrihs-ah, and Naurie is pronounced Now-rey. And the stress is on the first syllable.

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"Oh Ch-rist!"

Aealia slammed down her favorite hairbrush, cracking the polished silver handle directly down the center. Her string of curses broadened, and the man standing beside her grimaced. "God damn it! That's my favorite brush! You know who gave that to me Max! Queen Elizabeth the first!"

"I'm well aware of that fact," Max replied. He was a handsome one, her Maximilian. An English lord, he was dressed in the height of fashion. That is, what was fashion when he was still alive. "Now really Lady Aealia, It's not that complicated a case. Certainly not as difficult as some others."

"That's not the point!" Aealia raged. She turned to face her spectral companion, forced to stand on tiptoe so that she could be closer to his eye level. Max had been a very tall man. "Vampires scare me damn it."

"You are a Soultalker. You should not be afraid of anything," Max argued. Aealia really hated the way he always sounded so confoundedly calm. Then again, from what she had learned, he had always been this way, even in life. It annoyed her, but she was often thankful for his logical reasoning when she was scared thoughtless. Unfortunately, that seemed to be happening more and more often.

"Yeah, but so far I've only dealt with ghosts and an ogre with a pension for cobbling." The sixteen-year-old sighed, and sat on the edge of her four- post bed. It was quite possibly the only girlie piece of furniture in the entire room. The rest was leather and metal, twisted to odd shapes that brought the image of a torture chamber to mind. All four black painted walls were wallpapered with photos, most containing little more then blobs of yellow or white light, some with Aealia herself, others of friends and family. Of course, Aealia could see faces in each photo, even the vaguest of them.

She was a Soultalker. Aealia didn't really think the term fit to the job, but it sounded good, so she kept it. Basically, she was a clairvoyant, the link between what people called the paranormal and the "normal". Hence the ghost standing in her bedroom. And the pictures of ghosts. And the books on ghosts. Not to mention the ogre that lived in her closet and was just now peeking out around the door. "Fred. Please tell me you didn't eat any more shoes."

"Didn't," The little man grumbled. Aealia had dubbed him Fred for lack of anything else she could pronounce. It was a shortened version of his own hundred-letter name, just as Maximilian had become "Max" in her company.

"Lady Aealia," Max flickered, realigning himself closer to her side. "About the night walker."

"Details Max," Aealia bestowed a smile on Fred, who was at the moment chasing her cat, Diablo, around the room with a tube of lipstick. "Give me details."

~ ~ ~

"So let me get this strait." Risha leaned back in her chair, sweeping heavy black curls away from her face with a bejeweled hand. The clairvoyant really did wear too much jewelry. "You're going where?"

"Louisiana. Max is already scouting for a large enough mirror to act as an anchor. I need you to cover for me, 'cause it might take some time to find this guy," Aealia said.

"A vampire." Risha glared down her long nose at the younger Soultalker as if she had gone nuts. "You're honestly going to tangle with a vampire?"

"Well, from what I hear it's an easy case." Aealia grinned, just as Max materialized in one of the vacant seats. Risha jumped as she felt his energy, but she couldn't see him. Only Aealia had that particular talent. "Open and Shut, to condense Max's words. This particular vampire seems to have some emotional trouble, or something along that line."

"He's not feeding," Max supplied. Risha jumped again. She was a Soultalker like Aealia, but she was limited to a fuzzy sense of hearing. Aealia was more adept, but the sense of taste and smell eluded her. Soultalkers each had their own level of perception in each of the senses. "He's reached the point where his guilt is battling with his hunger. We have to help him through it. There's a Soultalker in that region, but he is a strength in accordance with you Lady Risha."

Risha snorted her humor, sipping tea from a small china cup. "So nice to see I rate. Why would you want to help a vampire anyway? They drink human blood."

"Not all of them," Max said curtly. "Very few actually do anymore. Most have found alternate ways of feeding."

"Argument on pause here guys." Aealia had to reach down and grab a hold of Fred, who was gnawing on the leather toe of her boot. The child sized ogre sat politely in her lap once caught, but not before eyeing Risha's sandals with yearning. "Risha, I need information on vampires: Habitat, damning features -ignore the pun- or any other stuff I could use."

"You've come to the right place, as usual." Risha couldn't help but grin as she stood to grab a heavy; leather bound volume from a nearby bookshelf. Her pride and joy, the Book of Knowledge-that-will-save-your-life-in-the- event-of-encounters-of-the-paranormal. Or, as Aealia liked to think of it, Big Book of Crap. But it was a magical tome, and contained every bit of knowledge on any creature that was ever written, in any language. Only Soultalkers seemed to be able to use it though.

"Let's see," Risha muttered, leafing through the back of the book. "Vilkacis, vapors, ah! Here we go. Vampires." She tucked her tongue in her cheek, sitting down again as she read from the page. "'Vampires are usually solitary, and feed almost solely on blood, preferably human, but sometimes animal as well. There are many conflicting references to vampires, but the data that remains constant is that they are highly sensitive to the scent and taste of garlic and are burned by contact with pure silver. They can regenerate almost any body part, and dislike sunlight.' Not much else that's general. A few references to life span and different characteristics."

"Well that's vague. So holy water and crosses do nothing?"

"So the book says."

Aealia sighed gently, setting Fred down again as he started to squirm. He pounced on Risha's foot with little hesitation, and the clairvoyant kicked off her shoe, sending the small humanoid scurrying after the flying sandal. Ogres were one of the few creatures everyone could see. "So can you cover for me with my parents? I'll only be gone a week tops."

"A week? No problem." Risha grinned, snapping her fingers together in the everyday, "It's a snap" gesture. "Just make sure to write stuff down so the book can accept it. This'll probably be one of your better jobs."

Max snorted softly. Oh yes, this was going to be an interesting case. Very interesting indeed.