Yugi's life wasn't perfect but it had been normal. He had a good part time job, excelled in all his post-secondary classes and was even able to maintain a long-distance relationship with his high-school sweet heart Anzu Mazaki. That is until fate intervened. Becoming a werewolf was one thing but attracting the attention of his pack's Alpha (Yami) was something else entirely. Now with vampires and monsters running amuck how could one small wolf hope to survive in a world quickly falling into darkness?
Many ships will set sail throughout the course of this story, however which ones bear fruit may be up to reviewers. There will most certainly be puzzleshipping as the storyline pivots around this relationship. It is designed to be a fantasy-romance adventure set in an alternate universe that involves magic, shifters, vampires and other mythical beasts. All character will recognisable from Yugioh universe with incorporations from both the tv series and manga. Expect to see a prequel and sequel later on.
I don’t own Yugioh or make any profit in writing this. If there are any themes or elements of my alternate universe you would like to include in your own writing, drawing or other creative art piece (including any OCs) then please do so with my blessing. All I ask is that you forward me the piece (be it art, writing, whatever) because I would love to see how the ideas have grown under the influence of another’s perspective.
ITDN has been modified from its original version. To those who followed the original story, I apologise. Things change as new ideas come to mind. After the story is fully complete I may also come back for further polish.
Also, please also note that I am no longer going to revise chapters into a PG13 version. I will instead mark any chapters for content and, if it’s a concern, I will provide you a plot synopsis so that you know what to expect and can make an informed choice on whether to read (ie. lemons, extreme gore or violence).
Finally, please feel free to leave comments or story ideas. Feedback is greatly appreciated and I adore those not afraid to speak their mind with me. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I grow as a writer because of the feedback I receive.
Now without further ado, let us step “into the desolate night”.
Prelude: "In the Middle of the Night"
Sweat and liquor perfumed the air. Like most Friday nights Maenad was packed, a lively chorus of conversation heating the club with the growing fires of excitement. All around bodies collided in rhythm to the pulsating chorus of electric beats, wedging themselves onto the dance floor or up to the bar as the neon strobes welcomed them away from the stale repetition of daily life. However, not all would find reprieve in the planetary décor and fog machines. Life was never that simple. Popular, and by extension, well-populated spaces became competitive hunting grounds for Domino’s most notorious predators.
And tonight was no exception.
Perched on a mauve-cushioned bar stool, manicured nails drummed impatiently, indigo eyes narrowing into cat-like slits. Anger was woven into tight lines across her brow, marring an otherwise flawless complexion into a twisted sneer. It vexed her to no end to see her territory invaded by yet another fledgling, this one seated alone across the room dressed fully in black as if he were kin to the shadows around him.
It had only been a week since she had disposed of the last and left her to the mercy of the wolves. It was a fate this vampire would soon know if he did not watch himself. Though he was not like any of the other fledglings that had tried to move in on her before. He made no attempts to draw attention to himself. It was perplexing to say the least. Annoying to the point of irritation, like an itch begging to be scratched.
If he had not come here to hunt, why risk her anger? Young vampires were weak and vulnerable, barely able to disguise themselves as humans let alone pick a fight. So why had he come here if only to provoke her? She was not known for mercy and always finished off her meals rather than leaving any unwanted spawn behind. He couldn’t be hers, so why would he shadow her?
This was her club and he didn’t belong here.
Yet it was while she had been on the dance floor, flaunting before the humans and refusing to let his presence interfere with her work, that she first became aware of his fixated stare. Oh, the poor fool. If it was a partner he was after he was in the wrong place. She would never fall for a fledgling such as that.
In this form her breasts were as full and pale as the moon, cream-white and as soft as goose down, all snuggled and pillowed within the circlet of her strapless dress. It fit tightly to her hour-glass frame, a splash of fresh cherry-wine glistening in tapered layers against long, slender legs before meeting a pair of laced heels that curled up her calves like twin vipers. She was a tempting vision no hot-blooded fool could resist. It may have taken half a century but she had mastered the art of glamour and perfected a body that would make more than a young man’s heart throb.
Yet this stare- his stare- was growing more unnerving by the minute. It was not as though she was unaccustomed to stares, on the contrary, she was used to holding the spotlight of every room she occupied, but it had been hours now and all he had done was watch her. It was as if he were waiting for something to happen. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on but it peaked her curiosity.
These questions left her in a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts. She needed to puzzle it out and understand what was happening before he did something stupid. But the longer it took to figure out his intensions, the bigger his smug grin became.
She hated it. Hated him for it.
Then another insult tested her patience.
Although it was not uncommon to pulsate magic in order to detect other beings, to an aged vampire like herself the gesture was simply infuriating. She had no need to hide her powers from him. It was like that game children play, when they all pretend to ignore and not see someone. She was not hiding since she was trying to feed, so the insult was intentional. He was trying to make her angry.
She peered at him again when the bartender interrupted to place fresh glasses before them. She had not noticed her date signal for a third round, the alcohol wasted on her but she accepted it nonetheless. Neither its taste nor affects were welcomed, a worry growing that her glamour might slip if her focus did. And yet the fledgling had no qualms at his table and accepted another refill from the women that flocked about him, circling like noisy seagulls as they made idle conversation and tried to join him.
But to her continued surprise, he remained alone, waving off those who approached with the odd nod or declining gesture - never once coaxed onto the dancefloor, or letting them sit in his lap despite their best efforts. It was an odd behaviour if he had come here to feed, which meant she had clearly made a wrong assumption somewhere in her thinking.
Her blood positively seethed thinking about him.
If he had been sent by the Hierarchy to collect her, he would have told her already and not fooled around. There would be no need for indignant smirks and staring contests. If he wanted to pair with her than he was taking all the wrong measures because everything he did pissed her off. And everything she assumed so far was wrong… She was beginning to suspect that he might not be as fresh as he had first appeared.
There was an air about him which seemed… off. It just – hung – oddly, or – moved more slowly, drawing the shadows around him like a fog to veil him in a veneer of darkness. It could have been magic but it didn’t quite feel like magic. A trick of the lights? Still, her intuition wouldn’t let it go. It felt unwise to dismiss the magic interpretation despite what her eyes were telling her. Somehow, she just knew he was dangerous. She could feel it in the moment they locked eyes.
And what eyes they were, dark, and malignant – a near black that bled scarlet in pulse of strobe light.
In human form, he looked to be no older than mid to late twenties, fit for a human, with a compact build and raven hair styled outwards. The face was angular and still held colour, a lingering bronze that had yet to fade or transitioned onto the human guise which was rare. It had taken her decades to reproduce the red hair she had been born with from the muted grey it had become. This likely meant that he was older, possibly a rogue in search of new territory.
Maybe this was where the uneasiness had come from.
She couldn’t quite place it but it pooled in her gut, sloshed about, and refused to settle. Her stomach did flip-flops and shivers prickled her skin with pins and needles beneath his uncanny gaze. This evening was more uncomfortable than it ought to be. Admittedly, not since her first hunt had she felt so devastatingly on edge. Something was wrong with this situation. Something was wrong with him. She needed to leave.
And she was just about to get up, a hand touched her shoulder.
“Sorry that took so long.”
Her date’s voice brought her back from her musings with a start. Kaoruko watched in a daze as he came to sit beside her, mounting the stool on her left while sliding the phone back into the pocket of his washed-out denims. “It was my little sister callin’ and I just couldn’t say no to her. But uh, you still up for that dance?”
With the hold on her thoughts broken, Kaoruko drew a deep breath and closed her eyes. In mere moments the calm mask she had perfected resumed its station, “Not a problem. I just hope everything’s okay.”
She smoothed the words with practiced ease, her voice soft as satin despite the false care and agitation still festering inside her.
Unlike her usual targets, this rugged, walking mess of golden hair with honey-cinnamon eyes won her attention with nothing less than a heavenly smile. It was his best asset to be certain. A contagious effect, specifically designed to melt hearts, and, like many, she was weak in the light of its splendour, warming to him despite his callous appearance and less than preferable fashion sense.
Simple blue jeans worn low accompanied by sneakers and what must have been a favourite green hoodie given the washed in stains and advanced fraying around the cuffs. Normally such lack of composure was off-putting but even Kaoruko couldn’t resist warming beneath the pearlescent glow and gave in to his soft insistences. Even now the corners of her lips twitched in reply before submitting to the desired effect. Her keen indigo eyes met with his dark cinnamon and a few butterflies danced near her throat.
“Yeah well it could be better but you know how life can get. I’m sure it’ll all be fine in the end,” he gestured as he spoke, eventually leaning back so that both elbows rested on the bar top and his body faced the dance floor. “Thanks for understanding though. Not everyone gets it, especially not…”
His words trailed off as he caught himself about to dig a hole. He didn’t need to say it because those expressive eyes told her everything he’d meant. ‘Bar-babe’, ‘gold-digger’, ‘man-eater’, ‘slut’, ‘man-ipulator’ – he really needed to stop thinking so loudly. His expression had implied more than enough to make her cringe, which must have shown on her face given how quickly he looked away.
After having endured some of the best and worst courting of the last century, she could not help but find this human’s speech absolutely repugnant. His words held no finesse and his accent slurred what little vocabulary he had, conversations flat and full of busy noise, similar to how a mutt howls insistently when starved for attention. It made her question again why she had chosen him. He was cute but that was by no means a prerequisite.
Desperate? Lonely? Vulnerable. Those were the typical targets, but her favourites were the arrogant, know-it-alls who never saw it coming.
Rough around the edges was not her style. She expected a certain level of courtesy – she was a goddess after all. Plenty of men would willing trade places with him if given the opportunity. His blunt honesty was nearly unbearable, her pride wounded by the truth of what she was. Who she was. It was an impression of herself she could not believe he had implied... She was gorgeous, the belle of the ball, and most coveted woman in the city, so how how dare he associate her with inferior ranks of women that whored themselves out over a few free drinks. She had too much class and sophistication to be lumped in with their ilk.
As charming as he was, Jou was certainly no prince.
It made her question for a moment if he was possibly a shifter, losing his mind to the urges of his beast which bypassed his capacity for decorum. But no, she definitely would have noticed that. Shifter blood had a distinct smell and was unmistakeable for its sweetness. Jounochi was not one of them.
May patience preserve her. There was only so much she could handle.
“Go on, say it,” she chided, unable to restrain herself as the unpleasantness made her lip twist sourly.
He reacted with a visible flinch. She could see his arms tense and eyes shift, scanning the room for answers before his mind settled on something. “You know, girls who hang out all the time at these sorta places. It’s rare to find someone both smart and beautiful, but understanding as well? People that perfect don’t really exist.”
He smiled at that, pausing for a moment to glance her way and look her up and down. “But I’ve been wrong before. So listen, you gotta be some kinda special and me some kinda stupid to have not seen it sooner, so I best just get to askin ya for that dance before I say something else to ruin your night.”
This was it. He sat up and turned to give her the full impact of his eyes this time, reaching out to offer his hand. She knew she had him and her lips pursed with a devious smile. Timidly, as if she were uncertain, she placed her pale one into his and allowed herself to be pulled up from her seat into the contours of a warm body.
“Oh Katsuya, stop or you’ll make me blush! I’m not perfect at all, I just felt so awful seeing you look so sad,” she teased, pulling the mask back on before another crack in behaviour allowed itself to show. Swatting at his arm playfully she buried her face into his shirt, as if to try and cover up the non-existent redness in her cheeks.
She knew the physical contact would be taken as a sign of forgiveness. She was good at this game and had plenty of experience.
No more distractions. A few more well-placed touches, some added tipsiness and he would be all hers. And once that was taken care of she could return, find the rogue, and sort out his attitude. It was going to be a long night but a manageable one nonetheless.
Rumbles of laughter vibrated against her as large hands guided her back gently, just enough, so their eyes could meet; hands lingering about her swollen hips as he thumbed the beads of her loose-fitted belt, “Y’know I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying.”
“Jounochi! You devil!”
“What? You can’t fault me for that. You got such nice red hair, it only makes sense to wanna see if I can get yer face to match,” he beamed, drawing her out to the dance floor as he spun her around before pulling her flush against him.
Kaoruko grinned, pleased to find him willing to lead. From what she could tell, Jou was just about as eager to quit this place as she was so it wouldn’t take long for all the pieces to fall into place.
She loved this part the best. “You can try but don’t get your hopes up, I don’t flatter easily,” she laughed, grinding her hips against his before moving away and leading him into step with the beat, “I’m not an easy girl to please.”
He wasted no time and followed, capturing her in his arms again to keep their bodies close as they bumped and swayed between crowding dancers. The song they joined ended shortly with another following quickly on the heels of the last note. In turn, their rhythm changed to match, fast and wild as bodies collided and filled in around them, forcing the distance between them to close yet again.
But even as two more songs passed, paranoia continued to plague her mind. It was a hateful distraction yet equally difficult to ignore. In the next twist, she tried to spot the rogue through the tidal sway of the crowd but her view was clogged by flailing limbs. At a glance, it had almost looked as though he was gone. Yet each time she checked, rechecked, and double-triple-checked between dance steps – stealing glances between crowds, and dipped low for a better angle – his booth remained empty. He was gone and she hadn’t even noticed when.
Yet why had he left? The thought of him leaving was enough to elevate her mood but new, possibly more troubling questions remained. Maybe seeing her and Jou together had dashed his hopes? Or maybe what he wanted was not important enough for him to stay any longer? Regardless, there was one thing she needed to know for certain and that was whether he was really, truly, absolutely, gone from her territory.
For confirmation Kaoruko leaned into Jou and hid her face in the crook of his neck, feeding out a stream of magic to blanket the club and deeper parts of her territory. She couldn’t risk having Jou see her eyes shift colour but there would be no peace unless she could confirm that the rogue had actually chosen to leave.
A few targets lit up like tree lights in her mind’s eye, all auras she recognised and whose faces perked up at the touch of her magic. She would explain to them later why she was searching but for now there was only one individual her mind.
But he was not there. The echo of his magic did not meet her bursts of energy and reflect back to her. The waves dissipated without a single ping, indication enough that he was gone after all.
Elation soared as she pulled away and guided Jou into a series of provocative moves. He seemed okay with her change of pace and, to her welcomed surprise, held his own against her sharp turns and twists, giving back nearly as good as he got with his hands invoking a fire in her belly the likes of which she hadn’t felt in…forever.
She nearly lost herself. Consumed by the moment, surrendering all feeling and thought to the ecstasy of the music and euphoria brought on by Jou’s warmth. Everything became distant and forgotten, lost in the rapture of the hunt. Was this how the humans felt in her presence, what made them so careless? She only snapped out of it when her heel caught and she stumbled, finding herself held tightly by guiding hands that gripped her waist possessively and tugged her securely back against the soft plush of the green jacket.
Before she could even question what had happened and regain balance on her own, his lips found hers and she swooned, arching into his hold as their tongues carried on the dance their feet had forgotten. She purred against his mouth, drowning in her own desire until a spark of realisation dawned and she broke from the kiss with a genuine laugh. For once she hadn’t initiated and intentionally fallen to get herself closer to her prey. After years of mimicking these acts she had never expected for them to happen naturally on their own. That such feelings could be genuine was nearly a crime.
“Are you okay?”
The words breathed heatedly against her hair, heavy and broken, confirming just how far gone Jou’s own mind was to the throes of lust and passion-driven ecstasy. She could feel it as well, her little tumble having brought their bodies together as she laced her arms around his back and snuggled in. She knew exactly what kind of effect her body had on him. She could hear it in the rhythm of his heart and feel it in the course of his blood.
Yet he would never grasp the significance of her reciprocated feelings.
It was a rare moment to be held like this by anyone, let alone a human. To feel so…so… enchanted was not quite the right word but it was hard to name the feelings such tenderness warmed in her. She gave a nod in reply to his question, her thoughts still lost and concentrated on the feel of his body, the richness of his skin, and pulse that lied beneath - all of which flooded and over-ruled her senses.
It was unnerving yet familiarly pleasing. In a way he reminded her of home, memories from her human life stirring that she had thought lost; the bakery, camping by the lake, waking at dawn in that perfect twilight hour of violet skies and honeyed landscapes – back, long ago, when she would sneak downstairs to help her father prepare the dough and “sample” the fresh rolls her mother had made. They had lived above the small shop they owned, a common and plain life she had fervently resented in her youth. But as much as she hated it, there were a few fragments she couldn’t let go of.
Still, it was strange that they should reawaken here and now of all times. It was somehow just like Jou though, from the moment she met him there was a feeling of welcome and homeliness to him. In this way he was different, making her feel things she didn’t want to and on some levels didn’t know she was still capable of.
His charm addicted her despite her best efforts to ignore it. The way his eyes teamed with security, as if even the worst the world could throw wouldn’t faze him - that lively optimism, she both adored and loathed to see. His light was too bright and it would draw darkness to him the same way flames lured moths… After all, it had attracted her had it not?
The promise of security was a lie, yet some part of her, some secret and deep dwelling desire, still longed and wished for it to be true. He was something special to be certain. Unlike any human she had encountered before. No one had moved her like this in years and the guilt of her intentions gnawed at her.
It was disarming.
Imagine, her, Kaoruko, caught fancying someone such as this and actually feeling pity. She had never understood how other vampires could be interested in such simple-minded creatures and yet, in the time she had come to know Jou, she was beginning to. It was not enough to change her mind but just as a cat-person introduced to a very sweet dog might see the appeal, she could understand why some fledglings were made, even if she would never have one herself.
Humans were not love interests, plain and simple. She remembered the first time she had ever revealed herself and witnessed the petrified stares of horror. Humans were conceited and vain. Even her parents had disowned her after the attack that turned her. So much for love. This was no doubt the reason human fairy tales ended as a relationship began and spoke no further of them. Love was too fickle and fleeting, unworthy of those determined to survive.
She had to remind herself that this one was no different. His only interest in her was based purely on appearances and sex appeal. For that crime alone he would pay, just as every human before him had, and all that came after would. She would never be so foolish as to give her heart out blindly again. Enough was enough. She had fooled around too long and it was time to bring the hunt to an end.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Heh, I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun,” she admitted, finding the bite of honesty bitter as her smile faded.
What was wrong with her? She never been so emotionally worked up before.
Warm hands traced the curve of her spine moments before she found herself enveloped and his mouth tracing butterfly kisses against her ear. “Well that’s exactly what I’m here for. If there’s anything I know, its how to have fun.”
His words hummed against her skin, barely audible above the music as he dropped his tone to one best suited for the privacy of a bedroom. For a brief moment it almost felt as though they were the only two there, the writhing crowd forgotten like the backdrop of a play as her senses became fully consumed in one: Jonouchi Katsuya.
It was as enticing as blood in the water to hear his voice laced with the promise of sex as her fangs instinctively flexed in anticipation. Lust drizzled over his skin and she craved him badly. Perhaps she would take him to bed first and enjoy fully what Jou had to offer, after all, there was no harm in taking pleasure in a meal.
With a grin she turned in his arms, pressing her lips against his neck as she spoke the next words carefully between breathy kisses to his throat. “Oh? And what kind of fun do you have in mind my darling Katsuya?”
It was then warm, too warm. She hadn’t noticed the heat at first but once she did, it rocked her back like a hard slap across the face. The sweep of magic was unmistakeable and stole her attention as her body petrified in Jou’s arms
She knew this magic. It was no longer cool to the skin, but searing hot and sharp as a whetted blade. Magic was not something most humans were receptive to but even Jou shivered as it sliced across the air. For a moment she expected to see the rogue but then the surge, despite being brief, was too powerful for her shadowy admirer. Young vampires couldn’t control magic like that. It had to be a master vampire in the area, one that meant business to be shedding power so needlessly. Perhaps there was a gathering or a fight? She should probably investigate but -
If Jou had been talking she must not have heard because it wasn’t until after the soft shake that he jostled her from her thoughts. “Are you alright? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” She blinked wildly up at him, confusion staining her expression.
She needed to get back in control.
Withholding a breath, she swallowed to calm her nerves. “I’m fine, I just thought I saw my ex in the crowd. False alarm though,” she lied, pulling away from Jou enough to dance again.
Tonight was not going how she expected at all. First the rogue, and now a master vampire in the area? What the hell was going on?
She would have to focus on it later, she couldn’t go another night without feeding.
Dipping low to present a small showing of her laced bra, and letting the shower of neon lights accent her thick curls of strawberry hair, she continued to pretend as though nothing was wrong. From the reaction in Jou’s movements, Kaoruko knew she should just invite the young man home with her and finish what she had set out to do; but she didn’t. She couldn’t? Regardless of the reason and what common sense dictated, she didn’t want it to end - not yet anyways.
It was a shame, such a shame. There would likely be some poor girl out there heart broken by the loss of this one. A destined lover forever with out their pair, a sister calling out for a brother that would never answer – family and friends, they would all feel the lack of his presence in the world. But as she continued to move and grind her hips into his, instinct began to kick in and override the short surge of pity.
His pulse quickened and chimed loudly in her ears, excitement building as it drove her senses wild. She brushed against him again, intoxicated by the hunger. It wouldn’t take much to set it spilling free and have at it, the thought centering her focus back on the meal ahead of her. She licked her lips.
Another song finished and a fresh one began, the beat dying off to the rhythm of a love song. It was rare and happened by request, which sure enough the DJ announced moments after the singles took seats and couples swarmed to the stage in pairs. It was the perfect chance to ask Jou to leave. But as she opened her mouth to speak, the words caught in her throat.
There, back in the same corner booth, was the crimson-eyed rogue.
He seemed to find her surprise amusing, smiling as he nodded in acknowledgement and raised his glass of bourbon to her in toast. She was closer now and a searing heat curdled violently in her chest as realisation set in. She could scarcely resist the urge to shed her glamour for a pre-emptive strike…
He was no rogue. That energy… was a shifter’s.
But how!? How had it gone unnoticed for so long? The feel of lycan stung the air in a way that proved he had no intentions of concealing it from her. It was her own fault she had overlooked it. But the nerve of him to look so smug about it! May they all be damned, this was what he had been waiting for!
Ashamed and angry her façade slipped and Jou took notice of her fiery gaze. He leaned in trying to comfort her, his breath tickling the fine hairs around her ear when he spoke, “That’s him isn’t it?”
He was checking over his shoulder now, following her line of sight to the shifter in question. She couldn’t quite find the words to speak, but hummed softly as Jonouchi rubbed her arms. Her silence was enough and in less than a minute of forethought Jou squeezed Kaoruko’s shoulders affectionately and went to confront him.
It was only then that Kaoruko snapped free from her daze to realise what was happening. Jou was going to confront her supposed ex-boyfriend and the shifter would no doubt reveal her secret or his own by doing something rash. If anything, it was now or never.
Without further hesitation she abandoned her meal to whatever new fate was dealt him and ran. She had intended to kill the young man so perhaps the shifter would be merciful and provide Jou with a better end than she planned. His chivalry was a godly gift that provided the opportunity she needed to cover her trail and slip away.
Fleeing out the front door she hastily marched down the flooded street in her useless high-heels, trying to set a good pace and thankful that it was still raining. Once she was far enough away the rain might be enough on its own to hide her scent and make further pursuit impossible. Yet there was no doubt in her mind that the shifter would follow as soon as Jou was dealt with so she needed to reach a safe place quickly.
With no humans around she paused to remove her heels then sprinted, scanning for a decent alley or building to hide in - any place capable of throwing off the shifter’s ability to track or isolate her. It didn’t matter if she was seen or not, any shifter could pick up her trail and catch up faster than she could open a portal home, but, if she was lucky, she would be able to wait him out and try hunting elsewhere. She just needed a place with many smells that would allow her to thin the trail enough for the rain to do the rest.
But she didn’t have much time, in fact she was out of it.
Glancing back as she was about to round the block she saw the door to Maenad open and her pursuing shifter step out. Jou hadn’t stalled as long as she had hoped.
Ducking into the next alley she did what she had to and shed her glamour, wings violently tearing from her back as the spell broke, sheering apart her dress as she desperately took flight. Yet no sooner had she evened out her course and looked down than she saw the shifter kneeling next to the remnants of her clothes. He would no doubt think to use them and do his best to track her, but by the time he found where she landed it would be too late and she’d be safely back in the Shadow Realm.
Flying higher into the storm, Kaoruko adjusted and headed east, favouring the skies above the commercial district which she knew to be practically abandoned by this hour.
The night was cool and the wind wasn’t overbearing. The rain made the whole city glitter just as brightly as the starry blanket above the clouds, but she didn’t dare soar that high, keeping relatively low and scanning the buildings for a favourable place to land.
Her hands quivered.
She had been so scared.
By the time she found a place, she half collapsed atop the old office building, soft wails escaping when the emotions could no longer be contained. It was a secure enough place for a meltdown: six stories up with a view that overlooked a main highway and residential roads but maintained a clear line of sight over all ground traffic. She would be okay here. Even if the shifter managed to follow by line of sight it would take him time to cover such a distance on foot.
Slowly she began to calm, rage replacing fear as shame nestled into place. Her pride suffered gravely now that she realised her mistake. It almost would have been better to stay and die than to become the next Weevil. No wonder Haga hated the name. At this point she should wished to be found rather than for word to spread that a shifter had frightened her off so easily.
But she had never seen a wild shifter before. It only made sense that he scared her. The shifters that the Hierarchy kept were tamed and confined to their beast forms, nothing like the ones in the stories that Haga told her about when she had first crossed over.
That coward, influencing her with his filthy paranoia. The little snot was old but clearly stupid, mentally regressed – and a liar.
So how then, how had his words been able to poison her thoughts so thoroughly? She knew better than to trust in his fear-filled nonsense and yet... she had. His stories had made her skittish and she acted on emotion instead of heeding to reason.
It wasn’t just that it cost Kaoruko her pride and prey, but the glamour she had worn to appear human. Without that there was no chance to start again until she could recast it and that wouldn’t be replenished until tomorrow night. She was weak and needed to feed. If she didn’t do it soon she might lose her glamour altogether and get confined to the Shadow Realm again; even if living on the Other Side wasn’t the best life, it certainly wasn’t the worst.
Anger once again spilled over at the thought of returning to life beneath the Hierarchy’s thumb. Her theropod feet reflexively scrapped at the cement, claws digging in as she paced and stretched membranous wings impatiently. She had to do something. The frigid shower of autumn rain could not on its own wash away or cool the sting of her shame. It was a bad idea to go back but she could not go home either because the others would know she had failed when she tried to produce a glamour and couldn’t. They would ask questions, or worse - assume.
If she was incapable of casting then she would no doubt be taken back. She couldn’t let that happen.
Her argyria coloured skin twitched in annoyance.
It was hard to believe that a shifter had been so close, as if the big bad wolf had actually existed and she had seen its face. She knew better though. The creatures of this world were beyond harmless – pitiful and predictable at best. There was nothing to fear here. She was the predator. Not some earth-born that had lived less than half a century. If she had stayed she could have twisted his words, called him a liar, denied all claims and made him out to be some crazy ex-boyfriend. He would have been arrested or thrown out but, for whatever reason, her instinct had told her to run and she followed that call blindly.
It was too late now though. Jou would likely go home or find someone else.
By the gods it drove her nuts just to think of it! She could always try to find another target but hunting without a glamour was dangerous. Besides, the shifter was still out there looking for her. Not that one shifter was much of a fight. This one was just… different. He came after her, not the other way around.
Not that anyone would believe her.
Shifters were pathetic, emotionally starved and dying of the very thing that made them dangerous. In a few more generations they would be gone and vampires could openly return to take control. And when that happened she would be ready, one of the first to seize power and carve out her own kingdom; just like a real member of the Hierarchy.
Perhaps leaving had been wise, if only to spare her hunting grounds from exposure. Everyone knew that after a ‘murder’ it could be months, to years, before humans forgot the incident and returned to the area in similar numbers. Haga was still struggling with that himself, possibly why he insisted on spreading such rumours about shifters in an attempt to save face over his ‘accident’.
Taking a deep breath Kaoruko pushed the worry aside and moved towards the edge of the building, gripping tightly to the frame with her talons as she mounted the barrier and leaned out. The land around her was dark, no moonlight able to pierce the clouds as the rain continued to fall and beat a rhythm against the scenery. It was calm, unlike her mind which still raced with questions.
She knew she should go, a nagging at the back of her mind demanding that she open a portal immediately. But part of her wanted to stay in this world and return to Maenad, see if Jou was still there, and maybe… No. A human would ever accept her like this.
With a heavy sigh she lifted her wings to shield herself from the rain then turned, deciding it was time. She had stood long enough, letting her anger settle and now that it had she could safely cast the portal spell. With one last look at the open cityscape she stepped down from the ledge and toed the roof top. It was a flat enough surface to work with even if she preferred constructing portals against walls rather than having to fall through and reorient herself on the other side. Tonight would be an exception, not because she was scared, but solely to avoid further shaming herself.
Pacing out the size she began to draw the shapes, starting with larger features and working her way in. Unlike some she was not a natural with magic and had been forced to endure many years of arduous practice. She wasn’t fast but she wasn’t wasteful either, a far more precious and necessary skill here than in the Shadow Realm.
As she worked on etching the inner links, a string of curse words caught her attention. She glanced back and spotted a young boy walking alone along the highway, paying little attention to his surroundings as he tried to fend off the storm and fix an inverted umbrella. The wind kept undoing his efforts.
Even at this distance she could tell that he was small, light, and likely easy to carry. It was an unconventional method but an opportunity such as this would be stupid to squander. She watched him, waiting for an opening in traffic or for him to turn down one of the quiet side streets. If she was lucky he would cut through the park and –
The sound of displaced air swirled and grew thick around her. Heat lapped at her skin and washed over her – enveloped her and froze her in place the same way an earth creature might pause when blinded by the headlamps of a car. It was the feel of a master vampire.
“No…” She blinked repeatedly, unable to process what her eyes deigned to be true.
“No, you can’t -” Her voice betrayed her along with the rest of her body which shook violently as she observed the shifter from the club landing, black wings retreating beneath the folds of his jacket. “How?… How are you?… I-its… impossible.”
Weevil couldn’t be right. He was a liar, a damn coward. How could this – how could…
She took a step back for every one he took forward until her ankle bumped against the edge of the rooftop. Again Haga’s words whispered in her mind, mocking and laughing at her fear.
“Yo-you’re, the one they’ve been calling ‘Yami’ aren’t you?”
He nodded, a cryptic smile curling around his words, “Playtime is over Kaoruko.”