The continuous dripping down here was becoming customary to him. Every fiber of is being became the noise, from his whited-out eyes right down to his bleeding feet. He was this dripping. He was the sewer. He wasn't who he used to be long ago, he was a mindless thing. Something that needed to be destroyed because it was no longer conscious. His white eyes saw nothing, his nose smelt nothing but the rank stench that clung to him- to the sewers. Yet his hearing was intact as he sat in the crossroads of the steel waste tunnels underneath Edris, his world lit by nothing but the sound of water dripping and running close by his feet.
He immediately became alert, those clouded, filmy eyes opening completely, the gray cat ears placed within the equally-gray, messy hair that clung to his head by sheer force of will perking up as if someone were bringing him food. He reached for the stick he always kept with him, pushing his shakey, thin bulk to his full hunchbacked height to greet the oncomers. His whole body shook with the strength of his addiction, his skin pale and sweaty from lack of his drug.
"Fashrrr," the mangled voice was familiar, as was the touch of claws on his pale shoulder. "I'sha fo'shd yshoo, fot yrrr nrot 'ow Mma ssa'd yoo'd fee." The man leaned against the lady before him, never knowing who the familar presence was. Nor did he recognize the knife going through his back until it was already there. His last thoughts were not of a daughter who cradled him as he died, but of an irresitable drug that even he could not overcome: Blood.
Knock, knock knock.
Black cat ears laid against an equally black and furry head, yellow eyes squinting at the antique wooden door brought from the surface years and years ago. Its little window was too clouded to see through and the rounded old door was too big for the newer stainless steel frame, which kept anyone from seeing in. Or out, as it be.
Sighing and grumbling, the figure knitting at the steel table under a cold florescent light stood from her small, red steel chair, black cat's tail trailing behind her as she forced herself over to the door, panting from dehydration. Her clothes had been much nicer in a different life, but now they were in bleached tatters that hung over her black furred body, hardly able to adequately cover her. Coming to the door, her warped, clawed hand reached for the iron door handle. Her whole arm strained against the weight of the door, yet she was still able to pull it loose from the tight frame with much effort.
She stared at the neko on the other side of the door and sighed, stepping aside and gesturing for her daughter to walk in. The other lady was more straight-backed than her mother, standing to her full height and walking like an aristocrat. She appeared mostly human, her warped hands, a black tail and black cat's ears being the only evidence to show that she was of neko blood. Her mother detested her for her appearance, being much more beautiful than she, but she brought comfort in knowing her daughter's mouth was full of cat's teeth, not human teeth, rendering her close to mute.
"What have you brought me, Ashenai?" The old neko asked, the familar name rasping off her tongue in a hostile manner, yellow eyes scrutinizing her daughter. Ashenai's single, red eye glared at her mother as she crossed the room, her black boots clanking against the steel floor. She stopped by the table and reached inside her brown jacket, her black claws gripping onto the cap of a vial that she set on the table as her mother sat down by her knitting.
"Father," Ashenai said, her vowels being lost in a rough, purring strain. Her sharp canines were obvious as she spoke in her awkward lilt, incisors being lost behind her black lips. Her mother looked up in surprise, taking the vial in her own clawed hand and holding it before her face, staring at the sand-colored ashes within. The surprise was evident, as her ears swivelled back and her eyes widened in surprise. She looked to be about to say something, her muzzle twitching, but she was at a loss for words. She felt rather than saw Ashenai sit in the chair opposite of her, waiting for her shock to subside long enough to tell the tale.
The old wooden clock ticked from the steel wall, being the only decoration aside from the table and chairs in the cold, silver room. It ticked one hundred times, then chimed fifteen times while still clicking and ticking away. Five ticks after the chiming resided, the vile fell onto the floor and yellow, accusing eyes rose to meet Ashenai's. A nearly voiceless, angry, accusing rasp echoed from the depths of the old woman's body, yet its intended effects were lost on Ashenai:
"How did you know?"
Ashenai stared at her mother, the menace in the old woman's voice being lost on her completely. How did she not know that her daughter knew her own father? No, Mother had never told her, had never cared to tell her, but Ashenai found him. The old woman wasn't aware of her own daughter's curiosity and determination- both of which she had inherited from her mother.
"The story's too long, Mother," Ashenai said dully, knowing her useless voice would have been lost to anyone but another neko. "I found him in the sewers. He was just another one of the addicts, he'd had too much of the blood and he wasn't him- I killed him for you. I saved what I could." Her emotion spoke through her eye, begging her mother to forgive her for knowing some forbidden information that she was never supposed to hear or know. That kind of respect was expected only from her mother, and the old lady never seemed to take obvious advantage of it. Instead, the old lady shook her head and forced herself to her feet, shuffling through a metal door and closing it behind her, leaving Ashenai with only the clock's ticking to keep her company.
She didn't move from her spot in the chair, laying her gloved hands flat against the steel table. Under the black leather gloves, her hands looked normal aside from the three-inch claws protruding from each fingertip, acting as a sort of twisted, macabre fingernail. Ashenai stared at her hands for awhile, listening to the clock tick and chime. Never once did she rise from her uncomfortable perch to check on her mother. She knew the old woman was fine in her own, distorted way. She'd been kind enough to let Ashenai come in, and since the old lady hadn't kicked her out yet, she was going to enjoy the silence and solitude of her mind for as long as her addiction would allow. Life on the streets and in the sewers was hard and dangerous, often loud and unrestful. It was a life she had to return to soon.
"Ashenai!" Her mother's enraged squeal made her jump, her eye wide. Her mother sat at the other end of the table, her ears perked in amusement, but her eyes showing annoyance. Obviously, Ash had overstayed her welcome after she dozed off. The young neko stood from the uncomfortable chair, stretching her arms above her and shaking her numb legs to get her blood flowing from her uncomfortable perch.
"Leave," her mother said, clawed hands continuously moving with her knitting needles. "Don't come back until you're ready to explain to me how you knew who your father was." She ended her words there, an obvious conclusion, but Ashenai stared at her mother for a moment before walking over to the table. She leaned over the table on her fists, claws digging into the palms of her hands as she came a few inches from her mother's face.
"Or what, Mommy?" She growled challengingly, obviously not ready to be completely exiled from her only sanctuary in Edris. Sincerely hoping her mother would show enough mercy to allow her daughter to stop by every now and again, Ashenai was sincerely surprised when a knitting needle flew at her, going straight through the top of her cat ear. Her eye widened in pain and she staggered back from the table and her mother, who was looking at her daughter with complete contempt, waiting for her to talk back again.
"Fuck you," Ashenai spat at her mother after she had overcome her initial shock, but her insult didn't keep her voice from wavering. She reached for the foot of the needle stuck toward the top of her bleeding ear and managed to grab a hold of it to pull the needle out. She glanced at the yellow needle once and chucked it right back at her mother, the needle whizzing harmlessly above her ears. The old lady's chuckling followed Ashenai out into the streets, the single noise mocking every failure she'd ever committed in her life.
"Hey," a young man sang, a smile splitting his pale face to show his sharp teeth, "Silent Ash is back from her mommy's!" He breathed in the poison from his cigarette, pushing his shirtless body from the sticky sewer wall and confronting the neko who had just walked into sight from one of the smaller tunnels. The light was dull, showing the silhouettes of the people who mingled around the large sewer crossroads as they sneaked around on their business. A few silhouettes close-by stopped for a moment when the ridiculous white-haired elf had shouted about Ashenai's return, but no one besides one other seemed to care.
"How'd it go, Darling?" The green-eyed, pale man asked, flicking some ashes onto Ashenai's jacket. She brushed them off and glared at the elf. He raised his cigarette to flick more ashes onto the neko, but just before he could, the cigarette fell out of his hand as his head was jerked back from someone grabbing onto his long hair and giving a nice tug.
"Eliza," a female voice from behind the struggling elf said, the soft tone showing some sort of softness toward him, "now don't be messing with our friend. You're too sexy to have a bunch of gashes on your chest, so contain yourself." Ashenai chuckled at the familiar voice, stepping on Eliza's cigarette as she walked over to him. She stopped when her boots were on top of his and her nose touching his, not doing a thing until his light green eyes were trained on her red one. She took the claw on her right forefinger and ran it down his jawline, the tip of it leaving behind a thin red line that quickly started to bleed.
"I hope you don't mind a little scratch," Ashenai said as she stepped away from Eliza, whose hands immediately went to his face, feeling the scratch and flinching back once he touched it. The woman who had been holding his hair stepped out from behind him, keeping a single metal hand on his skin as she attempted to examine the scratch on his face. Being only up to the elf's shoulder and disadvantaged by his hands touching his face, she very politely took a handful of his hair again and pulled his face down to her height so she could see the scratch.
"Ow," Eliza complained, painfully twisted at the hands of the short, purple-haired woman. "I'm not a mannequin in a wig shop, Zars." He got a good yank for that, and he decided that silence was the best way to deal with his problem. She'd let go eventually. Maybe. She certainly never stopped badgering him about how he never spent any time with her, how hot he was, or several other, similar statements. The pressure on the side of his head was finally released and he rubbed the back of his neck, grimacing as he tilted his head just to hear the crunching of his bones popping.
"Well I hope he doesn't die from the poison," Zars said coolly, scarlet eyes boring into Ashenai's until she looked away, "it would be a shame to lose such a lovely sex slave. You wouldn't know that, of course- you're too young to care too much about relationships with people outside your family." She flashed a smile, showing her sharp, ridiculously white teeth and stared at Eliza, who was glaring at her for calling him a sex slave. The short woman just shrugged at him like it was some known fact before looking back at Ashenai, suddenly turning serious.
"While you've been gone, more have shown up," she said, her eyes showing the seriousness of the matter as she straightened out the collar of her trench coat, metal hand catching the dim light in the motion. "I don't know where they're getting it, but the blood has spread into more of the outcasts." She flicked her head for Ashenai to follow her, and the neko soon fell in step behind the small woman, their footsteps seeming too loud on the metal, even among the other people around. The air was more uneasy the farther Zars lead Ashenai down the ramp of the cylindrical room. Less and less people were down this far and the conversations and lighting from above were soon lost to the pounding of their feet on the metal ramp.
Ashenai wondered why it was necessary to lead her all the way to the bottom of the Cavern, but she wasn't going to argue with Zars. Undoubtedly this was important, seeing as it happened to worry the woman, and anything that bothered Zars was sure to bother Ashenai. What was so important down here, in the deepest recesses beneath the sprawling underground city? Whatever it was could have easily been shown to her above, with the comfort of lights and conversation. Down here, there were only the railing and their synchronized footfalls that echoed far after they had fallen. There were no lights here, and looking up would make you wonder which way was down, disorient you, and make you slide down the slippery ramp into the water below.
She used to be an assassin, Ashenai thought after a little while, the tip of her tail twitching in an effort to keep her footing on the ever-treacherous ramp, maybe she's going to kill me. Drink my blood. The paranoid thought made her grit her teeth and tense up, trying to figure out what she'd do against Zars in the complete darkness on a thin ramp should she attack. Several scenarios ran through her head, but the end result was always the same: The little woman would inevitably end up killing her no matter what she did.
"Just a little farther," Zars said, coughing after she spoke before continuing. "Do you see that light a little farther down? That's where we're headed." She coughed a few more times and spit over the rail, tasting the metallic tinge of blood on her tongue even afterwards. Her head pounded from the sound of their boots, the pinprick of light another two stories down the ramp, and the disgusting fumes floating around them from the sewers. She found herself longing for the surface the more often she had to stay in this underground nightmare, but she knew that she couldn't complain to anyone about it because they had no idea there was a world outside Edris.
The light was getting closer, and soon they were next to the opening to the single deepest tunnel that Ashenai knew existed. The red glow of the single light was the only thing to see by here, and for now, it was the neko's world. The shadowless figure before her wrapped in a trench coat seemed too small to be dangerous, and she knew that she would seem exactly the same to Zars. The woman stopped before entering the black hole in the wall, though, turning to face Ashenai with an unreadable expression that made the girl nervous inside.
"Unlike you," Zars muttered, her voice unnaturally loud in the silence, "I can see in that darkness. Keep your mouth open and your hands on the walls so you can follow me. You'll taste them before we even get near and ignore anything and everything that isn't me. Understand?" Ashenai stared at Zars, somewhat dumbfounded, but she knew she had absolutely no choice but to trust her. Her ears laid flat against her head as she nodded and followed the little woman into an uncertain nightmare, hands on the ancient stone walls as the red light slowly waned behind them to leave them in a complete shroud of darkness.
Zars was right- the taste hit Ashenai long before she saw them. It tasted of death, decay, and sickness, a horrible combination in the small, cramped tunnel. By sheer force of will, the neko kept her mouth slightly open so she could follow Zars through the labyrinth of tunnels, knowing good and well that getting lost in this dark could be fatal. Her cat ears were brushing the top of the tunnel, making her whole head prickle at the sensation. Her claws made minute dragging noises on the slippery stone wall, no doubt picking up whatever slime was lurking there on the tips of her claws.
Being more focused on the filth gathering on the tips of her claws, Ashenai picked up on the breathing long after Zars did. The little lady could see much better in the dark than Ashenai, picking up the twisted shapes of the twisted humanoids on the ground, some dead, others sitting and watching them as they passed. Blood's stench filled the tunnel now, making them both crinkle their noses in disgust.
"It's just ahead," Zars said softly through the breathing, waking up some of the twisted things as she spoke. "There should be a light around the next turn." Dragging noises and the clicking of canes against the floor now accompanied their footsteps. Ashenai shivered at the noises, occasionally glancing over whenever the sounds seemed too close. Her whole body was tensed up, her left hand instinctively wrapping around the sword in her belt just in case they got too close.
"Hiiii," it was a breathless exhale on Ashenai's neck, the taste of decay lying on his rotten breath. The neko screamed and quickly turned on the balls of her feet, sword drawn and searching for whatever had done that to her. She waved the piece of metal all around her, finding absolutely nothing. The dragging and clicking had ceased, but she was too afraid to step away from Zars to stab any of them- they obviously had an advantage in the dark.
"It's harmless," Zars said, startling Ashenai to almost taking off the woman's head with the sword, Zars only being saved by her quick reflex to duck under the swipe. "We're almost there, sheathe your goddamned sword before you kill someone." Whenever the satisfying sound of metal sliding into leather hit her ears, the little woman grabbed Ashenai's hand and lead her a few more feet and around the corner. A door blocked their entrance, and as Zars dug through her pockets for a key, the dragging sounds became quicker, like they were trying to stop them from doing something.
"Noooo!" The wails echoed through the tunnel over the dragging and clicking, making Ashenai double over in pain from the noise. She didn't understand why the wailing was making her ache, considering Zars was completely unaffected, and when the idea hit her, it was plainly obvious why. Suddenly, the door opened and flooded the tunnel with light that was nearly-blinding until Ashenai's eye adjusted to the single light fixture in the ceiling of the old room. Blood-curdling screams followed Ashenai and Zars into the room, the neko hardly being able to stand up from the overwhelming pain she felt from the screams.
When Zars shut the door, she was suddenly upon Ashenai, knocking the neko over and holding a backhanded knife to the neko's throat before she even knew what happened. The first thought that ran though Ashenai's head was that Zars really did take her all the way down here just to kill her, but whenever the knife just touched her skin and went no farther, Ashenai opened her squinted eye, trying to see if she could understand the woman's intentions. Zars' expression was unreadable, her long hair enveloping them in a strange twilight.
"You've had the blood," the woman hissed, surprisingly hostile, "and you told no one?" She shifted her slight weight forward, digging her knees into the neko's stomach as she leaned closer to Ashenai, who was dumbfounded as to how the little lady knew that. She'd tried it once, then twice, and it had soon become a reoccurring habit. She never told anyone about it simply because she knew they'd kill her if they knew she'd turn into one of the twisted, mindless things that wondered the sewers.
"I don't want to die for my mistakes," Ashenai rasped, not wanting to open her mouth too wide in fear of the knife digging into her skin. "I'm addicted too. I don't want to die until I recede." Zars seemed to consider this a moment, then nodded but didn't move from Ashenai. The neko squirmed underneath the little woman, knowing that she could easily throw her off but the knife at her throat simply scaring her from doing so.
"Everyone shall know, then," Zars said so quietly that Ashenai had to strain to hear. She took extreme care to keep Ashenai from standing, placing her right hand almost on the woman's neck before moving the knife up to her forehead. The neko wanted to run, but she knew that that simply wouldn't happen- as soon as she squirmed, Zars' metal hand would be around her throat and not let go until her victim was done with. The neko let out a wail as the knife carved something into her forehead, right down to the bone. It didn't take long, yet it felt like an eternity to Ashenai before Zars got up from on top of the neko. She examined the bleeding mark on the neko's head, admiring the two lines for the second she could before Ashenai's hands went to her face.
"Why?" Ashenai cried, her eye squinted shut to hold back the tears of pain. Zars casually licked the tip of her black knife for whatever blood it may have had on it before returning it to its sheathe at her belt. Grabbing Ashenai's elbow, she was able to drag the taller lady to her feet with absolutely no problem, then pry the girl's hands from her face. Blood ran over the lady's eyelid almost as soon as she stood, keeping the girl from looking at her attacker. Zars pulled a dirty cloth from out of her pocket and put it in Ashenai's hand so she could wipe the blood from her eye.
"If you turn into a mindless thing, Ash," Zars said calmly as soon as Ashenai opened her eye, "the idiots upstairs will think that these monsters are zombies or vampires or some other ridiculous notion and crawl back up to the city, letting the sewers overflow with them and letting them onto the streets above. Of course, they would have just known that you were snorting that shit if you didn't come down here where the things live, which is why everyone must know that you're one of the idiots who are on blood." Ashenai's blank stare told the whole story of her incompetence to Zars, so she just waved her hand in the air as if to just shrug it off.
Zars looked around the relatively-empty room, figuring the single filing cabinet in the place wasn't going to be holding any peroxide for Ashenai's wound. She sighed and beckoned Ashenai over to the cabinet, pulling herself to stand on top of it. The neko warily came over to Zars, still holding the rag to her forehead. The little lady, who was now taller than Ash, grabbed the rag from her hand and pulled out a small metal canteen. She took a swig of what was inside before pouring the clear liquid onto the rag, returning the canteen to her pocket and offering the rag back to Ashenai, who reluctantly took it and ran it over her head.
"Fuck, Zars!" Ashenai yelped when the stuff on the rag stung her head. "What is that?" The neko still ran the rag along her head anyway, seeing as it was still bleeding and she had nothing else to wipe the blood off with. Zars just laughed at her, hopping down from the top of the filing cabinet muttering something about alcohol before walking through the black door set in the stone wall next to the filing cabinet. Ashenai could have just stayed there and moped about getting lines carved into her head, but she decided to follow Zars so she could see whatever she was dragged down here for.
"Since you're going to turn into one of them," Zars said from the darkness, her hand wrapped around the chain dangling from the ceiling, "their screams and wails and pain in general is going to affect you. You'd be able to tell where they are if you were in a more advanced stage of the addiction, but for now I guess you'll just have to settle for their wails." She smirked a smirk she knew Ashenai probably couldn't see and yanked the chain from the ceiling, which turned on a florescent light in the ceiling. The wailing and screaming started all over again and Ashenai held her hands up to her ears, her cat ears laying flat against her head in an attempt to block out the horrible noise. Their pain seemed to rush into her and she collapsed to her knees, holding back a scream of her own.
Zars was glad for Ashenai's scattered brain, otherwise she knew the neko would wonder how she knew all the things she did about the twisted things down here. The blood already seemed to be taking her over, seeing as a few weeks ago, she would have some common sense about being attacked by Zars and not accepting anything that she handed her. No longer was the neko a calculating individual, she had become a follower in the few short weeks since she likely started the drug. What had ever compelled the young woman to do that?
The screams seemed to finally died down as the beasts' lungs and voices got tired of their excessive screaming, crawling into the darkest recesses of their cages. With their silence, Ashenai was finally able to regain her senses and stand up with the helping hand of Zars, who casually lead her over to one of the three barred doors set in the rock wall. One of the monsters was inside, curled up on the farthest end of the cell. It was notably female, seeing as the gray, pale thing was naked, staring out of blind, whited-out eyes. Her blue lips parted, exposing her yellow, rotted teeth as she seemed to taste the air, confused.
"This one's an angel," Zars told Ashenai, outlining in the air a tattered wing attached to skin grayer than its feathers. "This is close to the state you found your father in, right?" The angel creeped forward, dragging herself with her skinny limbs, sunken in eyes seeming to try to get a glimpse of Ashenai. She could feel the drug on the neko, and the instinct to get closer was what drove her dying body to the cell door. She lay on the stone floor before the bars, her gray hair touching the metal as her skinny, skeletal arm shot out from underneath the door, reaching for Ashenai's ankle.
"Gimme ittttt," the lady hissed, her too-long fingernails digging into the slimy grime of the ground to try to wrap around Ashenai's ankle. "Give it to me or I will d--" Her rasp was cut off by a horrible coughing fit, which at the end of she spit up blood. Ashenai's eye widened in disgust and terror at the creature as she licked the clotted blood from the slime-covered ground, seemingly forgetting that either of the women were there. The neko had finally caught a glimpse of what she would become, and the overwhelming dread hit her right in the face.
I'm going to become this, she thought, eye wide and taking a step back from the blind angel, clearly horrified. This is my future.
The music boomed inside the colorfully-lit bar, seeming to attempt to draw Ashenai out of her depressed haze. It hadn't been long since she and Zars had returned from the depths of the sewers, Ashenai following along mindlessly, her mind reeling over the fear of the glimpse of what she would become. Sitting at the bar in the bar with the ever-lively Zars didn't help to console her any; all she wanted right now was to be alone, but the little woman had insisted and like the dead-eyed dog she was, Ashenai followed.
"Oh brighten up," Zars said from beside her, pushing her hair out of her eyes as she took a sip of her martini, "you've got a few more days to live. Girl, you've gotta have fun while you can!" She gave a sort of half-laugh, half-crackle and returned to staring at Eliza, who was sitting on the stool beside her, completely ignoring her company. Ashenai felt none of the lady's glee or any of the energy that packed the smokey, dimly-lit place. She simply rolled her glass of water in her hands, staring at her reflection in the liquid. She'd put a piece of gauze over the gashes in her forehead and it took all attention away from her single eye and strange face shape. It would be even more obvious when it was removed, and when that happened, what would everyone think? She wouldn't stand for just being thrown out of the sewers, seeing as she had absolutely no place to go. Yet what other option was there?
The little neko let out a disdainful whimper and pushed her glass aside, burying her head in her arms. There was absolutely nothing she could do. The prospect of sitting and waiting to be consumed by the drug was the worst feeling she had ever experienced. She knew that trying to come off of the drug was pointless, seeing as once it was inside you- even a little speck -you couldn't live without it or you'd die. She also knew that there was absolutely no way to get the stuff out of one's body or cure the spread of the blight through your own blood. The hopeless thoughts of being removed from the band of thieves and dealers to roam the tunnels until her addiction ate her alive was even worse than knowing that everyone knew her addiction. Yet she knew she couldn't just sit around and wait to die- it was almost like Zars had said about having fun on your last days. Only Ashenai fully intended to attempt to find a way to stop the drug from consuming her, even if it meant certain death.
"Ashenai," Zars said just loud enough for the neko to hear, placing her hand on the girl's shoulder, "there is no need to mope. I mean, if I thought I was dead- which, admittedly, I have often thought -I never really dwelled on it. Then again, I am really old, so I guess I wanted to die in the first place. I'd take your place if I could- I definitely would, Sister, I would..." She trailed off, the alcohol on her breath wafting toward Ashenai's upturned face, making her nose scrunch up. If only the strange lady would change places with her, it might be her only hope. She didn't even mind that it would bring one of the people she had a certain liking for to death. She could live her life and not ever have to worry about turning into a foul monster ever again. Yet there was a certain nagging at the pit of her stomach, like something she had forgotten.
"That means a lot," Ashenai said, her gaze far away as she gently brushed Zars' hand from her shoulder and sat up, taking a sip of her water. "Do you really mean it?" Her single-eyed gaze fell on Zars' face, which was lit up green underneath the neon light of the bar. The lady's white teeth shined lime green in the light and she chuckled at Ashenai like she had just fallen for some joke.
"Of course not, Dear," the woman chuckled, sipping at the last bit of her martini. "I may not like living, but I die when I die. We can certainly attempt to save your poor, mortal soul in some manner, though. Just... come see me tomorrow. I'll happily talk with you after my hangover and men are gone." She gave a wink, drank the rest of her martini, and hopped off the bar stool, disappearing into the smoke and its shadows beyond. Ashenai watched her go, completely at a loss. Days of her life were going to be wasted because of Zars' strange way of going about things, and the woman didn't even care.
"She's not right in the head," came a voice from behind the neko, startling her from her thoughts and pretty much knocking her off the bar stool in fear. "Hey, hey, calm down- I didn't mean to scare you." Even so, Ashenai pulled her coat around her and ran out of the club, leaving the outstretched hand of the cloaked shadow who had startled her far behind. It seemed to look after her, but made no attempt at pursuit, simply taking her bar stool and waiting for the bartender to come around.
"I'll just have some water," said the shadow as the bartender came around to it, his blue eyes trying to glare beyond the cowl of the cloak with absolutely no luck. He adjusted his spectacles and warily brought the stranger a small glass of water, taking the money from a pale, skeletal hand with absolutely no second thought before moving on to his other customers. When he glanced back over his shoulder to see if the mysterious person had wanted anything else, he found the shadow gone and its glass still full with a generous tip underneath it. A note was scrawled in sloppy red ink and taped to the glass, written in a strange, backwards script. At the bottom, it said to give to someone named Yvette. Having no idea who this 'Yvette' could be, he ripped the note from the glass and threw it in the trash, pocketing the money and continuing on with his job, having no idea what he had just done.