The Supernatural Runs
And to think, there was once a time when I didn't have much to look forward to after work ended. Just caring for mother, performing whatever domestic activities needed performing and catching up on what sleep I could get.
I certainly didn't have time or people to socialize with, that was done during work hours.
As the doors to the Black Wing's 'nest' swing open and admit me without so much as a cursory inspection-Caine has that much implicit trust with these people, apparently-and the swell of pounding music, gyrating bodies and streamers of smoke assail my senses an uncomplicated and legitimately happy smile pulls at my lips.
I don't even try to hide it behind a mask of aloofness and propriety. To Hell and back with that.
Lazily shucking my dress into one of the cubbies, letting my ears and tail out and strutting my stuff towards the dais where Tianna runs shop is an empowering experience, what with eyes of all genders following my movements as befitting a Vampire Noble.
Lacy underwear, garters and free flowing hair is quite catching, if I do say so myself~!
And the novelty of existing as a Vampire-Werewolf hybrid and not being the most curious creature around is even more enjoyable, a sway to my hips and skip to my step happening automatically as I hum in time to the music.
Hard to believe not more than a few months ago life seemed like it was teetering on the precipice of disaster. Granted, it still is but at least I have others to help me balance and take the plunge should we need to. Misery loves company, after all~!
Hmm...I wonder if tonight would be a good time to convince my little group to have an orgy? Inbetween the two boys, Dragoon, Fallen Angel and the ever shy Jeanne there's plenty of holes and things to fill them to go around!
A pleasant little giggle-like that of some silly schoolgirl-escapes me as I luxuriate in the newfound sensation of being able to relax. It's almost frightening, really. How quickly I was to latch onto this group if misfits, to have actual, real friends. Sure, I learned to get along with my coworkers quite well...but half the reason for our interactions is either to stave off boredom or handle the sometimes unpleasant necessity that is our line of work. Not all that work at The Exotic are there because they enjoy what they do or have other options to pursue.
With those five?
Well...I suppose the way my tail frantically waves without any added input on my part is meaning enough.
"If you're looking for the Boss, he's busy in a different room entirely."
My eyes blink rapidly as with some embarrassment I realize my feet carried me up to Tiana's dais, the pretty Fallen lady reading through some reports with a neutral expression, her naturally mellow presence dampening the blaring noise better than any soundproofing could.
"Oh? What's he up to then? Something sexy? Something apocalyptic? With Caine I wouldn't hazard a guess either way."
An unexpected and entirely uncharacteristic smile graces the purple-haired Fallen's features, tone amused as she says, "Apocalyptic isn't too far off the mark, actually...best be on your way, Vampiress."
Shrugging and following her pointed finger I leave the dais behind, headed towards the collection of doors with my curiosity and wariness in equal parts piqued. What new mischief is that Devil plotting behind closed doors, I wonder? Probably something that will flip the Underworld on it's head and-
"By my blood, what smells like Tsar Bomba Brussel Sprouts?!"
At times having enhanced hearing and smelling isn't all that great. Such as now, when I realize it's not a meeting room I walked into but a bathroom. Thankfully my perfumed skin makes for an excellent handkerchief to block out the scent, wry expressions meeting my own as Ning, Frederica, Jeanne and Mittelt are all gathered around a stall, a pair of feet visible beneath the small gap from door and floor.
"Ah, Corentine. Join us, we're merely holding court around our leader's throne."
The utterly deadpan way those words are stated lends a touch of surrealness to the proceedings, all of us dressed in our underclothes and sporting expressions suggesting a topic best left alone.
"Anyone care to explain to me what brought this latest scenario about? On second thought, do I even want to know?"
A pained, wounded groan emanates from the stall as if to answer the question, shortly followed by a noise that suggests a t-rex suffered from a bout of incontinence.
"Well we took a brief trip to the Human world and our wise, indomitable leader decided he wanted to eat at...what was it again? Taco Ring?"
"...Taco Bell. It was Tac-HHHRRRGG!"
Caine's agonized tone is accentuated by, unless my knowledge of the body's anatomy is incorrect, the sound of him shitting out his own skeleton.
"So a bit of Human food did this to him? The same Devil that routinely scarfs down poisons that would kill a Dragon was brought low by dollar store burritos?"
Mittelt wordlessly nods, kicking a water bottle beneath the door that is gratefully picked up by a Shade-gods above and below, how long has he been at this-before neutrally explaining, "Hell if I know. Then again, you weren't there when the cats were still around. There was this pint-sized Yokai, smaller than me, that routinely ate twice her body weight and didn't gain a pound with room left over for dessert. A real crazy ass metabolism, to put it lightly. But give her a shot of whiskey and she was drunk to the point of hallucination and subsequent blackout. I gave up trying to understand how their respective kryptonite's work, all it ever did was give me a migraine."
...Yes, that does seem to be a trend among this crowd. Pure insanity with a dash of disbelief thrown in for good measure.
"But that begs the question of why you're all here. In the bathroom. Listening to bowel and bass orchestra. Smelling the sopranos collectively soiling themselves."
They share a glance-
-and the plaintive howl of the innocent causes them to shrug as one.
"We're actually kinda worried about him. This has been going on for about an hour and I've got money on him eventually crapping out an intestine."
Frederica's wise words are accentuated by Ning's nod, the Practitioner adding, "Besides, it's actually entertaining in a cruel way. Hey, Caine. How do you make Holy Water?"
"Put it in a pot and boil the Hell out of it."
"-GAH! DAMMIT, NING! I think I just ripped my asshole in two, stop making me laugh!"
Jeanne shakes her head while Mittelt smirks.
A displeased rumble echoes from Caine as he direly warns, "Just a heads up, once my legs are working again I'm giving you a swirly. And I ain't flushing."
A severe threat, except the statement is immediately followed by a noise similar to what a tuba might resemble if it was singing an operatic tragedy while underwater.
Jeanne appears thoughtful for a moment.
"Gondor calls for aid."
Ning raises an eyebrow at her comment, asking, "Lord of the Rings? I would have assumed such literature was beyond the realm of acceptability for the Exorcists."
Said Exorcist shrugs, replying, "Tolkien himself was a devout Christian, not to mention it's only the new members of our order that tend to be...overzealous with their piety. The more years you spend in our line of work the more strange one tends to act. Take Vasco Strada, for example. A pinnacle of what the Human race can achieve, but has a...quirk. Namely that he reorganized a wing of the Vatican into a gargantuan Guinea Pig farm of several hundred of the creatures, citing that he believed they were the most perfect life form ordained by God."
A helpless expression crosses her features.
"As I said, strange. My taste in literature is not even close to the most unusual activity Exorcists engage in."
Mittelt shakes her head.
"Your religion is weird."
"You would know, you're part of the worship."
"Look, as fascinating as the Maiden of God's choice of literature is can someone pass me another water bottle? I think I'm getting dehydrated again. I blame giving anal birth to yet another chocolate mud baby."
The Dragoon use her foot to scoot a container into the stall, yet another Shade snatching it up as I decide to ask yet again, "But why are you all here? Checking in at regular intervals would achieve the same effect."
"He's been violently pooping for almost two hours. A little company never hurt anyone. And real talk? We're actually kinda worried he's gonna back up the toilet and drown himself."
I huff a sigh and take a tentative whiff-
-wincing as I do so before Ning hands me a small ball of fluff that I realize they already shoved up their nostrils to block out the scent.
"You couldn't have handed this to me when I walked in?"
Mittelt smirks, innocently stating, "I guess we forgot, oopsie~!"
Yup, I am definitely dragging this little raven off to my bed at some point, I like feisty.
Well, at least the Black Wings are fastidious about keeping their hideout clean, I wouldn't bother sticking around if this was some cesspool of feces and germs.
"Well, everyone take a seat. If we're going to be in for the long haul might as well be comfortable during it."
Several shadow seats spring to life around my companions at my behest, all doing so...even thought the Fallen jumps suddenly and affixes me with a lethal glare that I, with innocence equal to hers, return.
So I might have 'stroked her plumage' when she sat down, so what?
"Hey, Caine, you want to play a game of checkers?"
"Sure, why not? You got a set?"
Frederica manifests a board and pieces with a flare of blue light...except all the pogs and surfaces are comprised of blades and sharp edges, as befitting a creature of war.
"Sure, I'm game."
Shades and flesh begin to move pieces and before I can stop it a fit of laughter hits me, escaping before I can stop it.
"What's got you laughing so hard, Vampire?"
"Oh, nothing much...just that if someone-not more than a few months ago-had told me that I would be watching a game inside a restroom between a Devil that was voiding his bowels and a Dragoon, all while a Hero reincarnation, Practitioner and Fallen Angel watched-"
"You would have recommended them to the loony house?"
My lips quirk upwards at Mittelt's questioning tone.
"Well, the Underworld is a curious place...but no. The part I wouldn't have believed is where they would tell that there was no other place I would rather be, with company I wouldn't trade for any price."
Everyone doesn't reply for a moment until Caine mutters, "Geez, Cor...I'm already low on fluid, you don't need to make me start tearing up as well..."
A round of snorts echo across the chamberpots as we all elect to keep our oh so glorious leader company as he takes care of business.
"Man who drop watch in toilet have shitty time."
"OW! FUCKING DAMMIT, NING!"
Introductory Rules to the Rating Games
1: Lethal attacks that can override the game's safety net are considered illegal. Examples are abilities that either disintegrate key parts of the body (Brain, magic core, etc), similarly styled physical attacks and powerful Holy attribute (of a class seven or higher, subject to change at different rankings) powers.
2: If a death is caused, a panel of judges will decide if it was made intentionally or in self-defense. If the judges are unable to reach a consensus or the claim is appealed, the four Satan's will make the final judgment.
3: Weapons and armor of unique or custom make must be presented to a panel of judges for review. Full disclosure of said weapon and armor's abilities must be disclosed and results will be kept confidential under the full extent of the law. Thresholds for each level of the Rating Games will be considered when reviewing personal weapons and armor. Failure to disclose full extent and abilities of custom weapons and armor will result in heavy penalties, up to prosecution and expulsion from the Rating Games. Familiars may be used during non-ranked Rating Games.
4: A Peerage, once ranked, can issue a challenge to any peerage within twenty ranks of themselves. While however many challenges can be issued as the Peerage wishes, only one ranking match for advancement can be taken every two weeks. If challenges have been made but no Peerage is either willing or able to accept these challenges, challenges can be made to Peerages outside of the twenty ranks limit. A Peerage cannot challenge the same team again over a four month period, unless otherwise stated.
5: A Peerage that holds a rank from 401-933 must accept at least one challenge of their choosing every two weeks. If no challenge has been issued within the two week period, said Peerage must accept the first challenge that is offered to them, regardless of ranking or personal preference.
6: A Peerage that holds a rank from 101-400 must accept at least one challenge every three weeks. If no challenge has been issued within the three week period, said Peerage must accept the first challenge that is offered to them, regardless of ranking or personal preference.
7: A Peerage that holds a rank from 6-100 must accept at least one challenge every month. If no challenge has been issued within the one month period, said Peerage must accept the first challenge that is offered to them, regardless of ranking or personal preference.
8: A Peerage that holds a rank from 1-5 can be challenged by any team that holds a rank ranging from 6-100. They must accept at least one challenge per three months. If no challenge has been issued within the one month period, said Peerage must accept the first challenge that is offered to them, regardless of ranking or personal preference. A Peerage that is defeated by a rank 1-5 cannot challenge that same rank again for five years.
9: Peerage members that suffer debilitating illnesses or injuries both inside and out of a Rating game, provided the illness or injury is deemed to not be their fault, and cannot be replaced by a suitable contender (reviewed by Rating Game judges), can be given a five year reprise in order to recover. During this time the Peerage may accept or initiate non-ranking matches as normal, but they cannot receive or initiate ranked matches unless they wish to forego the offered period of rest. This privilege can only be used once every ten years, barring a state of war (See attached documents about the 'state of war' details).
10: A Peerage member that becomes pregnant can be given up to a maximum of one year maternity leave. During this time the Peerage may accept or initiate non-ranking matches as normal, but they cannot receive or initiate ranked matches unless they wish to forego the offered period of rest. This privilege can only be used once every five years, barring a state of population crisis (See attached documents about the 'state of population crisis' details).
11: Should a King be knocked out of the Rating Game, there is a 10 minute Grace period where if the opposing Peerage's King is also removed, the Game will continue as usual.
Ok, and here we are at the end of King of Thieves and Shadows. I decided to split the story into two separate halves, since it felt more fitting and would just take the loss of favs and followers on the chin, as often happens when you start up a new story...but I also get to come up with a new title, so that's a plus! Big thanks to all who have been keeping up with this story and reviewing...and see you in
KoTaS: The Last Lion!
dougcupcake: Nothing like a little blood and thunder to warm up the ol' Viking blood!
faithful despair: Considering the Hell anime adaptations seem to go through these days (look no further than Arifureta) I dunno if I want to jump on that train, lol. But thankfully I'm blessed in the monetary department, my internship this summer paid quite nicely so I'm merely poor-but-stable rather than broke, keep the $ friend. Always nice to hear someone enjoying my work so much!
Scrumblenut: I like the omnipresent perspective for overviews, as it allows for a more complete telling of events since first-person is restricted to what each character knows or sees. See you next story!
Fat Future Cat: And all it took was an ungodly 500,000+ words for me to finally get to the damn point. Welp, at least I can say I made it!
Templarsith: Not quite as large as Stormbreaker (if you're referring to the Marvel Thor version) but it's not a bad approximation.
Burning Moonlight: And, with all sorts of well wishers and reviewers such as yourself, it was my pleasure to do so :D
L'assassin orange: Hue Hue...the axe is DEFINITELY something I was itching to introduce at an earlier time. As cool as swords are there's something unique and beautiful about both axes and spears, a bit of unconventional artistry to them.
And, honestly, what's scarier?
A dude calmly approaching you with two feet of steel...or a sreaming berserker about to ruin your day with a giant war axe?