So the club isn't actually called 'Club Dead'. It should be, probably, since 'Club Dead' sounds funny and ironic. Apparently irony is not that important to vampires, though. So it's called 'The Blood Pit' which I think sounds cheesy. Iden used to own it with a ginger vampire named Richard. But it turned out Richard was a treacherous bastard and he ended up ash for it. Good riddance, I say. The guy was creepy as hell. And an asshole. It was his fault my brother got kidnapped that night when we finally destroyed Aviah. Iden and the Blood Pit were better off without him.
The first time I had ever set foot into this club I was a mortal. One of the lucky few mortals that got to see the inside and then come back out again. The music had been loud and throbbing and every dark corner (the club was practically all dark corners) was crowded with scantily clad vamps sucking on drugged up mortals or fucking like rabbits. And let me tell you, everything a drugged up vampire does is covered in blood. Feeding, dancing, sex...it was all bloody and messy as hell. The concrete floors of the club were permanently stained with the stuff. When I was a mortal the smell of blood in the air had bothered me, now it just made me hungry and a little disgusted with myself.
The Blood Pit was different today. Someone had turned off the pounding music and those vamps crowded into the dark corners had stopped nibbling and were staring anxiously towards a crowd near the center of the room. Many of them had their fangs extended and were seemed to be looking around for something to bite. I kept close to Iden's side as we wove through the crowd to the group in the middle. I wasn't really at risk of being bitten anymore. Apparently biting other vamps was taboo, but old anxieties die hard.
It was probably a good thing that the place made me nervous enough to hide partially behind Iden and shut the hell up because I spotted Joe among the vamps in the crowd. He didn't really like it when fledglings spoke up around him. He seemed to think it signified a lack of respect or some stupid bullshit like that. The guy could be like a crotchety old grandpa sometimes.
One of Iden's bouncers, Barry, saw us coming and quickly dashed up to us to explain the situation before anyone else noticed and we got swarmed. "Boss!" Barry looked incredibly relieved to see Iden there.
"What happened?" Iden demanded lowly. I had to lean in to hear them as they whispered to each other.
Barry explained the situation as briefly as he could. "There was a dispute between some drifter called David Thorne and a stranger. I don't know what they argued about, but Thorne ended up a pile of ash. The stranger... seems he was a witch."
I barely contained a gasp and Iden's eyebrows shot up. If I recalled correctly, Iden's ancestors were supposedly witches. I wondered how much he actually knew about them.
"We have the witch in custody now," Barry continued quickly, "He has relented to us willingly, but... well maybe you should see for yourself?"
Iden straightened his back and squared his shoulders in preparation. I could hear Joe growling and snarling in his rough, gravelly voice. The crowd parted as Iden approached and I stuck close behind in his wake so I could get a good view of what was going on. I didn't want to miss what could potentially be the hottest gossip on the vampire grapevine for the next few weeks. Not to mention get my first eyeful of a real witch.
When the vamps noticed who was pushing through the crowd they split apart to make way and I kept in Iden's shadow so I wouldn't be stuck on the outside of the crowd. The vamps formed a very rough circle, all of them seeming to want to keep back from the sooty pile in their center. There, on the concrete floor, was a smear of ash roughly human-sized. It looked like it was still smoldering, and I could make out the remainders of a leather belt and singed metal belt buckle in the remains, and a burnt pair of leather knee-high boots. Apparently this Thorne character had been dressed to impress. Too bad his belt and boots were all that was left.
Joe didn't even see us until we were right on top of him. He seemed to catch sight of Iden out of the corner of his eye. He stopped whatever rant he was on and rounded on Iden.
"You!" He snapped, "You're walking a thin line, Black. What the hell kind of security are you running in this club? How did a witch manage to wander in here?"
Iden impressed me. He didn't even flinch at the force of Joe's unreasonable accusations. "I apologize, Sir. I understand you have the accused in custody? If you would allow, I will interrogate him and get to the bottom of this for you."
Gosh, Iden was just so damned smooth. Even Joe's mindless fury was quelled just a little bit by his level-headed words. Joe muttered and complained, but conceded eventually and stepped out of Iden's way so we could get a good look at the witch.
A pair of bouncers had him grasped firmly in their arms, although I'm not sure how effective physical restraints were against a supposed witch. He wasn't actually very scary looking. He was pretty normal-looking. I had been expecting something a lot more theatrical. Maybe with a fancy cape or a wizardly-looking cane. I was a little disappointed when our witch was wearing a simple pair of khaki trousers, a button-up shirt and a suit jacket. His hair was light brown, long, and curly. He was kind of dashing, really, if you overlooked the bored, snooty expression on his face.
Iden didn't seem too impressed with the guy either. I think he might have even sneered at the witch. The pair took a moment to size each other up. The witch didn't even flinch under Iden's gaze. "Did you destroy a vampire tonight?" Iden asked finally.
"I did," The witch's voice was cool, crisp, and completely nonchalant. He spoke with a smart English accent and he raised his chin arrogantly as he spoke. This guy wasn't even the least bit worried about being surrounded by angry vamps.
I could feel Iden bristling with anger at the witch's tone. The crowd around us started to hiss menacingly. They didn't like his attitude either.
"What is your name?"
"Bailey Finch," he responded.
I could tell Iden was frustrated. Someone getting killed in his club was bad for business, most certainly. The two men stared at each other for a long time. They were sizing each other up. They looked like wrestlers in a ring. I wondered if they were going to rip their shirts off and start rolling around on the ground then and there. Now that was something I wouldn't mind seeing!
Finally, Iden turned to Barry, who was wringing his hands anxiously near Iden's side. "Clear everyone out of here. The Blood Pit is closed until this matter is resolved."
Barry was clearly relieved to have something to do. He nodded and quickly and started rounded up the other bouncers and yelling for people to clear out. That Barry really was quite a tool. He was good at bouncing, but when something out of the ordinary came up, he was all nerves.
When most of the scantily clad vampires and their mortal snacks had been cleared out of the club, Iden turned back to the arrogant witch, who was standing perfectly still and somehow managing to look like he was in charge in spite of being restrained by two burly vamps.
I decided then and there that I didn't like him and wasn't going to, no matter what excuse he had.
"I will give you one minute to explain yourself, witch. If I don't like your answers I will petition the Circle for your death." Iden growled.
What was this 'Circle' he was talking about? Some kind of witch thing? I inched forward a bit so I wouldn't miss any of this conversation. Maybe I should have been a bit more nervous about being so close to a man who was so nonchalant about murdering a vampire in the middle of a vampire club. It struck me that he had to have some solid steel balls to pull off something like that. And it was pretty clear that the vamps were afraid to do anything about it. Just how powerful were the witches?
"I have seen this vampire, the one you call David Thorne, snooping around my residence recently. The night before last, I discovered that some personal property of mine was missing and suspected that Thorne may have committed the theft."
"Why would you believe that?" Iden snapped.
"As I said, I had witnessed him poking around my property. He was acting quite suspicious, but suspicious behaviour is nothing new for your kind." That comment didn't go over well with the vampires who had remained behind. Even I could smell the contempt in his voice. What was his problem, anyway? What a little bitch. I certainly hoped that Iden would give him a lesson.
"I thought nothing of it," Bailey the witch continued, unconcerned with how irritated the vamps were getting. "until of course, my property went missing. I of course suspected Thorne, thus I tracked him here."
"What was this item he supposedly stole from you?" Iden cut in.
Bailey was unconcerned, "A tome, a particularly old one with dangerous knowledge inside. Not something that I can simply overlook disappearing."
This Bailey guy was heading straight towards an ass kicking. The veins in Joe's neck looked like they were going to burst forth from the skin and his eyes were bloodshot.
"I tracked Thorne and followed him here. I confronted him about the tome here," He swept his arm toward the pile of ash that was still smoking behind him.
"Why would you do such a thing here, surrounded by vampires?" Iden snarled. His eyes were becoming bloodshot as well. That was not a good sign. Iden rarely got that pissed.
"I wanted to be sure that events were... correctly recounted."
Iden groaned, "You mean you wanted witnesses."
Bailey smirked, "Exactly."
That was when Iden lost it. That's right, Iden lost it. Not Joe, surprisingly. Joe was still standing a few feet back, grinding his teeth and clenching his fists. Iden surged forward and caught the witch by his collar. The two bouncers holding his arms jumped in surprise and failed to hold on to the witch. Even Bailey managed to look a little stunned as Iden lifted him up off the floor and held hi in the air, his eyes clouding over with dark red blood. "You knew!" Iden hissed, "You knew that Thorne might attack and you wanted everyone to know who struck first. You planned this from the beginning, witch!"
Bailey quickly regained his composure and smirked cockily at Iden. "Careful, vampire. You wouldn't want to anger the Circle by harming me. I'm quite important."
"Important or not," Iden returned, "You will not get away with murder, witch!"
"How can I murder what is already dead?" Bailey's smiled widened into a long, crooked grin. He was mocking us! He obviously didn't like vampires, which was fine with me, but he didn't have to go out of his way to antagonize us! Even I was beginning to feel the rage taking me over. My fangs were extending and the world was going red and hazy to my eyes. Didn't that asshole realize that he was in our territory?
"Iden," It was Joe's voice that interrupted them, for once sounding reasonable. "Planned or not, witnesses confirm that Thorne struck the first blow and the witch defended himself."
Iden stared at Joe, completely shocked. "You can't possibly mean -"
"We have to let him go."
"You can't be serious!" I cried, adding my voice to Iden's.
Joe didn't even miss a beat. "Be quiet, fledgling!" he snapped.
I really didn't like being chastised like that, but Joe was scary as hell and I knew I couldn't really contribute to this conversation.
"Relations with the Witch's Circle have been tense. The magistrate doesn't want to cause any problems."
"So we release him," Iden snarled, disgustedly. He dropped the witch onto his feet none-too-gently. He whirled on the witch angrily, his eyes meeting with Bailey's. The witch was smirking arrogantly back at him. He obviously thought he had gotten away with murder, literally. I didn't think that Iden would let him off so easily. He stuck his nose in Bailey's face and pointed a finger into his chest, "Witch or not, if I catch you in my club again, I'll kill you." Iden promised. He sounded really threatening, too. It gave me chills.
Bailey raised his hands, as if to surrender, but he clearly wasn't scared. He didn't think that Iden could do it. But I knew for a fact that Iden had some surprises up his sleeves that Bailey Finch probably didn't know about.
I watched him carefully as he sauntered casually past Iden and Joe and headed for the exit. His eyes met mine as he passed by me. His eyes were cold yet arrogant, but I refused to look away. If there was one thing I had in excess, it was bravado. I met his eyes confidently, trying to glare him down in the short amount of time I had before he was out of my field of vision. Instead of being intimidated, Bailey Finch looked amused. He tched at me and sneered down his nose. I really, really disliked him.
No one spoke as the witch took his leave of us. Iden was furious and Joe wasn't any better. The pair of them were fuming like children who were told they couldn't go outside to play. The image was a little funny, but I knew better than to laugh right then.
"Now what?" I asked of Iden when Bailey the Witch was safely out of the club.
"Now," he sighed, "We need to smooth things over with Thorne's relatives. Hopefully there won't be too much of a problem."
Finding out who Thorne's relatives were was surprisingly easy. Easy because Thorne was something of a loner. He was a fledgling vampire whose sire had disappeared some months ago and had left Thorne to fend for himself. No one seemed to know much else about him. He had no companions and aside from announcing his presence to the Magister upon his turning, had never been seen at court.
As a rule, fledglings were usually cocky, reckless, and more confident than they had a right to be. Aysel and Darwin both were proof of that rule. They were excited about their new powers and were way too self-assured. Fledglings often got themselves into needless battles or caused problems. Sometimes it got them killed, as with Thorne, other times it merely got them into trouble. That was why fledglings were made to stick close to their sires while they were young. It was an attempt to reduce the amount of trouble they could cause.
Aysel was uncharacteristically quiet as I hunted down witnesses to the death. She trailed behind me, head bowed and lips pursed in thought. Had that witch unsettled her? I had never had much contact with witches, but I'd heard rumors of their arrogance. Bailey Finch had not disappointed in that department. I sincerely hoped I would never have to see that man again.
"Are you alright, Aysel?" This pensive mood did not suit her. She blinked and glanced up at me for a moment as if she didn't quite hear what I'd said. I was about to repeat my questioned when she answered.
"I'm fine. Just..." she crossed her arms over her stomach and chewed her lip. It was an adorable gesture, and I almost didn't want to tell her not to do that. Most vampires quickly learn not to chew on themselves, but it was a habit that Aysel had yet to break. "Ow!" She hissed suddenly. I tried not to laugh at her. She had bitten herself, hard enough to draw blood. The crimson liquid smeared across her lips, shimmering under the harsh lighting of the club.
The smell of it hit my nostrils and I longed to go over there and lick it up myself. Aysel was completely unaware of this, of course. She ran her tongue along her lower lip absently, scowling. I was so transfixed I almost missed what she said to me.
"Is it really okay to just let him go like that?"
It took a split second for me to register who she was talking about. Forcibly I tore my eyes away from her now red-stained lips and met her eyes. She was worried about the witch. "Never mind him. Word will reach the Magister of this incident and he will call the Crone and they will smooth things over. It looks like Thorne won't be missed so this incident will soon be forgotten."
"That hardly seems fair."
It wasn't fair. Nor was it just or right and it was technically within our rights to demand Bailey Finch's death in return, but I knew it wouldn't come to that. "We could demand the Witches allow us to punish Finch, but I doubt it will come to that. The Magister can't afford to anger them."
"That retarded! That guy was a complete asshole! And he planned to kill that Thorne guy from the beginning. He even planned to make a big scene of it! Just because he knew he could get away with it!"
I shrugged, "Such is the politics of the supernatural. It's even more blatantly corrupt than human politics, and more dangerous as well. The Witches are powerful, too powerful to piss off."
"So we're really going to let this guy get away with it?" I could hear the anger in her voice. "Just because they have some magic fucking spells?"
"Looks that way,"
I fully expected Aysel to blow up, but instead she took a deep breath, clenched her jaw and satisfied herself with stomping her feet as she walked. Perhaps she was maturing?
"Do you think he knows about... well, you know, you?"
She meant did Bailey know that my mortal parents were supposedly witches. "I doubt it. I didn't even know until a few months ago."
"Would it be a problem if they did?"
I wondered about that. "It's hard to say. The Witches are secretive. No one outside their Circle really knows what they do or what kinds of things interest them." Would they be curious about a vampire with a witch's lineage? Would they be worried about it or would they be indifferent? It was impossible to say for sure. There was no telling what a witch was thinking at any given time. That was part of what was so frustrating about them. "To be on the safe side, though, we should be careful who we mention that little tidbit to."
Aysel nodded and was quiet again, which was very unsettling. She still had her hands crossed over her stomach. If she was still human I might have thought she was ill, but vampires don't get sick. Probably it was just nerves. Coming face to face with a witch who could so easily destroy another undead had probably frightened her a bit, though she would never admit it.
Worried, I wondered how I could get her mind of the night's strange events. She wouldn't appreciate me pointing out that I thought she was scared, but I could be subtle if I needed to be. It was still early in the night, maybe she would like to visit her family? Visits could be awkward, but Aysel was always happy to see her little brother and her parents.
"Let's get out of here," I suggested to Aysel. She looked up at me, surprised.
"Don't you have to stay here? Talk to witnesses and whatever?"
"There's nothing more to say. Thorne has no sire or childer that we have to worry about taking revenge, all witnesses agree that Thorne started the fight... Joe will take care of the rest."
"Okay..." She agreed, "Where do you want to go?"
"To the estate, of course, to have a visit with your family." As I predicted, that made her smile.
Author's Note: Oh boy! New characters already? And a new supernatural type to explore as well! Tell me what you think of Bailey Finch, okay? This one is jumping into the plot a lot faster than 'The Attic', in fact the entire pace of the story is going to be much quicker. Well, Give me your feedback!
Also, another reminder to vote in my poll. Have your say in which story will start in September! Poll closes mid-August so head over to my profile page and vote!!