Title: The Meeting (1/4)
Authoress: A Nameless Traveler (ANT-chan)
Rating/Genre: General/PG-13 (mild gore, violence, language, and suggestive themes)
Summary: Part-time assassin, part-time bodyguard, full-time cold bastard, Sin, has been hired by the local crime lords to terminate his once-employer, Nira Azard – a well-known and powerful collector and merchant with a fortress-like mansion. Holding no ties of loyalty, Sin has no problem with this. He does, however, have a problem with his assigned partner.

Meet Draca. He's and up-and-coming Master Thief and Spy who has never failed a job yet. He's cocky, reckless, charming, clever, and everything that seems to grate at Sin's nerves. Will the job be completed? Or will they kill each other first?
Timeline: Late summer of 2430 A.S.
Ages:Sin - 430 years; Draca - 75 years

The Meeting

"Meeting for the First Time is a Blessing..."

He was starting to regret taking the damned job.

The four men in the room were of the most despicable brood. Their spirits oozed black wickedness – decaying and rotting away. They were arrogant, looking down on everyone – him included – but it was obvious that they didn't have the strength, the power, to back it up. Looking down on him was a mistake that very few survived to regret. But they were his temporary employers, and thus that twisted beast named Pride forbade him from killing them for their insolence.

At least… until he got his payment anyway.

Small time crime lords… they disgusted him. They were nothing compared to the real thing. He had met some of the real crime bosses in his lifetime, the men who had fought their way to the top with their strength and skill alone. The men who were powerful enough to rip even him – not a weakling by any sense of the word - to shreds with ease… the kind who only sent others to do their dirty work for their own amusement.

He usually avoided working for such slime as these four men at all costs. He'd met too many of their kind to ever want to work for them.

So why was he here again? Ah, right. The pay.

But even with this thought in mind, his patience was growing thin. His… employers(oh, how he hated to say it) had been bickering for nearly fifteen minutes now.

"You're going to tell me why I'm here, I hope?" His own familiar Omegan lilt came out quiet, a mere murmur, but it demanded the full attention of those in the room. He bit back a smirk, as the room fell silent almost instantly. He schooled his features to remain stern and indifferent – the very picture of ice.

"Gentlemen," barked the man at the far end of the room. He was an utterly disgusting man, his spirit warped and rotting away at an alarming rate. He remembered very distinctly the stench of sweat and smoke and dirt coming from the overly obese man upon their first meeting. He could still smell it, but only faintly. It was enough to make him retch, though. The man was lucky he had offered substantial payment for the job, or he would've been long dead. "This is the assassin that I was talking about. Word on the street says that he's one of the best money can buy. He'll do any job for the right price."

The mocking in the fat man's voice sent his brow twitching. 'I am NOT your plaything, you rotten son of a bitch.' His anger flared momentarily before he forced it down. 'Think of the money.'

"Yessss…" rasped the unmistakable lisp of a Snake Fayth from his immediate right. "But will he ssssucccceed in getting through Azzzzard'sss defensssesss?"

'Azard…?' The name alone sent bells ringing in his mind. 'Nira Azard?'He certainly knew that name well… who didn't? Nira Azard was one of the most well-known merchants this side of Mt. Fang. He had actually taken a few jobs as the man's bodyguard on occasion. The man was legendary for the priceless treasures he'd collected over the years, and the fantastic security measures placed on his mansion about an hour's walk from the city limits. No thief or assassin had gotten in and lived to tell about it.

"You know of him, I see." The deep, booming voice came from his left this time. The man sitting there was without a doubt the least corrupted of the four – though that was not saying much. There was still a presence of bright gold burning at the very core of his spirit – honor, which put him a level above the other three in his opinion. This man still warranted some grudging respect.

"Who doesn't?" he replied, his tone all business. It was obvious what his assignment was to be. He certainly hadn't been called here to steal anything for them. Petty thievery – though stealing something from that fortresswould be anything but – was below him. So it seemed he was going to have to put an end to Azard's glorious reign. Too bad. Nira Azard was one of the few men he actually held respect for. While not much of a fighter, the Master Merchant was clever, and won battles in other ways besides fighting. A good man; an honorable man. Yes, too bad indeed.

He had no qualms with jobs against former employers, nor did he hold any loyalty for them. As long as he got what he wanted, nothing else mattered. While he'd have to say Azard was one of his favorites (he'd done enough jobs for the two of them to be on familiar terms), business was business. And his business was death. Azard was, undoubtedly, aware of this.

"But I fail to see how I'm expected to get into do my job – assuming you want him dead… of course." His words held a mocking undertone. Perhaps if he played it well enough they'd raise his payment.

"Of course," said the honorable man, the knowing smile readable in his voice, his hint of finality dashing his hopes. Heh, no pay raise for him, then. It'd been worth a shot at any rate. "Which is why I took the liberty of locating someone whose… expertisecan be of great help to you."

A deep frown marred his face, his brows furrowing. A partner? Some idiot he had to drag along? 'I think not,' he vowed. 'Your "expert" shall meet his end, just as all the others have.' He worked alone. Always.It was a well-known fact in the underbelly of society.

Yes… they would die for their insolence… after he got his money.

His eyes flicked towards the door. A new presence was melding itself into the room. He'd been aware of something lurking in the shadows for some time now, but now whatever it was seemed to want to make itself known. There was no sound as it entered, no opening of the polished oak doors, just the quiet dissipation of living color into the otherwise gray walls.

Black, deep violet, red-orange, and bloody crimson.

The two guards outside the conference room doors shifted warily, their eyes never leaving the third man in the room. He'd walked in no more than half an hour before, all smiles and charm.

Their master had told him that he was to be expecting a thief this afternoon. In all actuality, he was expecting the thief. A newcomer to the Underground – an up-and-coming, veryskilled Master Thief and Spy – had sent the entire dark community buzzing. The man had appeared to come out of nowhere, with the theft of an ancient mythril scepter from the bowels of the Tower of Wisdom – a difficult feat, even to the most skilled. This thief, so the rumors said, made it look effortless. In the five years since that marvelous theft, the man had been stealing and spying his way to the top of the Underground elite, earning the title of Master quickly. He had not been known to fail a job that was requested of him, but very little else was known about him. This man, their boss had said, had graciously agreed to be present at the meeting. The guards themselves had pictured a beast of a man they would meet today: dangerous, deadly, and sly.

But their expectations had been dashed when this man walked into the building.

The tall, lanky man with a wiry build leaned casually against the opposite wall, grinning jovially with his body just out of the bright rays pouring through the windows. The first thing the guards had thought upon seeing him was that the man was far too young, far too pristine to hold such a title as Master. His skin was pale, unblemished, and with a face that held sharp, almost feral features. It was the kind of face one would expect to see in the higher ups of society – charming and youthful, rather than the hardened and scarred ones of its underbelly.

The rest of the man's appearance pleasantly contradicted with his face. The shock of wild dark blond hair was cropped short in the back, but long bangs fell haphazardly into his face. The man's eyes – closed now – were cat-like, almond-shaped, and brilliant crimson red. He was dressed all in black, contrasting with his pale skin and light hair. Leather slacks, snug around the thighs, were fastened low about his hips, secured there by two belts, one of which held a durable leather pouch. He wore thick black boots, but even as he had walked into the building he made no sound whatsoever – not even a rustle of cloth. The sleeves of his long black coat were neatly cut out. It was fastened only enough to keep it shut, leaving a large "V" of pale, lean chest bare to the world.

But while it was hard to believe that this young man was a great thief by appearance alone, there was something else about him that made the guards wary. An air about him that was so extraordinarily open, and yet so closed. So suave and confident, but with something wicked that seemed to lurk just out of sight.

Such a mystery, so out of place from the typical Underground member.

Now the Master Assassin that had walked in not too long before the thief had… now that was believable, without a doubt. Granted, the man had looked a bit young to be the "best in the business," but he more than made up for it with the sheer sense of danger that came off him in waves. Thatwas more like what one expected to see in the Underground.

The so-called Master Thief didn't seem to be perturbed by their obvious stares in the least. He simply crossed his lean arms over his chest, and tilted his head to the side a bit – that same grin never faltering. It was as if the man was attempting to catch some snippet of conversation that neither guard could hear. The two guards shared a glance, unsure of what exactly to think of him.

And then those bewitching eyes of crimson were suddenly open, staring fixedly at the polished oak doors between them. The corners of those thin lips twitched, changing a friendly grin into a devious smirk. The man pushed himself off the wall, pale hands idly brushing off the lapels of his long coat.

The thief oh-so-casually strolled up to them, not caring or acknowledging their presences. A low hum rolled off his lips, a soft, mystical tune that neither guard could place a name to. He did not pause before them, as most would, and was nearly to the conference room doors before they stopped him.

Their hands flew up to the swords tied about their waists, asserting their authority to the newcomer. To the guards' satisfaction, he halted immediately, his eyebrows raised. "No one may pass unless they are invited in," said the left guard.

His cat-like eyes twinkled in something akin to condescending amusement. How arrogant this man was! "Oh, but I havebeen invited!" he said with a chuckle. Those blood-crimson eyes curved upwards, a lazy smirk pulling at his features. The smirk intensified when they glared fiercely at him, their swords clinking as they were loosened from the sheaths. It widened exponentially into a great, toothy grin. Longer than necessary, sharp white canines gleamed in the light as they slipped quietly over his bottom lip.

The charming air about the man was stripped away. The presence they had felt lurking just out of sight came peeking from its hiding place. It was wicked, and dark, and the bloodlustthat poured from the man sent tremors through their veins. The entire room seemed to grow darker as the shadows crept forward and not even the light from the windows could eradicate it.

It made them nervous and frightened. It confused them and taunted them. What was this power? What was this man – no, this monsterhiding in a man's skin? Their grips tightened around their respective weapons; that fear telling them to go on the attack – for what else could they do? As the monster started forwards again their instincts crackled to life.

But before either of them could even draw their blades, their hands jerked to an abrupt halt, very much against their will. Wispy black tentacles leapt from the shadows to wrap themselves around the guards, effectively ceasing further movement. Neither could do anything as their fear for this monster in a man's skin and his strange power grew a thousand fold.

The beast "tsk"ed softly, wagging a long, pale finger at them. And then he pushed past them, seeming to ignore their stares of shock and fear. He graced them with a final fanged grin.

And he proceeded to walk straight throughthe closed oak doors.

The hall lightened once again, and the shadows receded. There was no sound, simply the deafening silence as both guards held their breath at what they had just witnessed. The pieces began to fall together.

That strange power, those blood red, cat-like eyes, those fangs… that bloodthirsty wickedness…

"A V-Vampyre…!"

End Part 1. Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.