The Storyteller: Erin managed to get some sleep on the ride in, though Sergei and Aleksander spent most of the trip discussing at rather considerable length whether or not they should bring their weapons into the school. Sergei, on the not unreasonable basis that something was liable to be killing things in the school, wanted to bring at least his little Czech death-dealer. Aleksander, on the other hand, felt that bringing a gun and getting caught would result in them being arrested not as trespassers but as potential psychopathic murderers. This was especially troublesome given that two-thirds of the present company were murderers with criminal records as long as your arm.
The Storyteller: By the time Sergei's van rattled along into the bourough of Uttlesford in the north of Essex, there was no resolution other than "ask Angel / ask the Moth", which appeared to be something both of them could amicably agree on.
The Storyteller: You reached the school sometime around 1 AM, with Sergei parking about a quarter-mile distant from the school gates, in a fast-food resteraunt's parking lot. In the distance, one could see the stone and iron fence, and the complex of school-buildings and dormitories arranged up and down a hill. "We're here." Aleksander said, unbuckling his seat-belt.
Erin: Erin stirred and perked up, examining the campus from the back of the van, before getting out of it. "You are also good with a knife, Seryozha?" she asked, scratching at her head. "I would not wish us to be caught with weapons after there was a murder on the campus."
She herself did not often carry weapons, even when she really should have. They tended to escalate things.
"How far is the Aquatics Building from the gate?" she asked.
The Storyteller: "About two hundred yards." Sergei said, consulting the printed out map from the Hawksworth Preparatory Academy's website. "And I am good with a knife, yes."
The Storyteller: Aleksander sent a beseeching look at Erin. Carrying around knives was not an improvement.
Erin: Erin, in response, looked around for any spectators. She then touched Sergei briefly and gently, on the back of his neck. Silvery strands wound around her fingers, then coalesced into a large, deadly looking knife, before melting back into nothingness a few seconds later.
"It should work, in an emergency," she said. "Not so reliable in the long term, so let us avoid emergencies."
The Storyteller: "Fine." Sergei said, blowing out a breath. "Though I worry."
The Storyteller: Aleksander rolled his eyes and got out of the van. He had replaced his T-shirt and jeans for a polo and khakis, matching Sergei's attire, and it was now possible to mistake the two of them for teachers or some such. Well, Sergei for a teacher. Aleksander looked more like a coach.
The Storyteller: "To the aquatics center first?" Sergei asked.
Erin: "Yes. Under the circumstances I do not think we should go anywhere we have no reason to," Erin answered. She gave Aleksander a half concerned look and raised an eyebrow. "Euuh. I do not think anyone who sees you is going to forget you. Please be careful."
The Storyteller: "I am always careful." Aleksander said with a sardonic smile. "Except when there are zombies around."
The Storyteller: Sergei raised a brow, but no answer appeared to be forthcoming.
The Storyteller: The three of them reached the fence, and Sergei took lookout position while Alek donned some fingerless climbing gloves and proceeded to scale the fence. It was part stone, with a wrought-iron railing set atop the stone, and decorated spikes up above. But the spikes had been weathered down, and were little more than convenient handles as the Russian shimmied over the barrier. From within his windbreaker he withdrew a slender cable, and tossed one knotted end over the fence. "Moth next."
Erin: Erin eventually made it over, though not after falling off the fence with a tiny squeak, in a manner Aleksander probably found hilarious. She was grumbling something unintelligible the second time she got up, and the grumbling continued all the way past Aleksander and down to the other side. She rather primly straightened herself up, rapidly fluttered her wings, and turned up to give Alek a calculating look. She seemed to have accepted his choice of name for her, but she tended to grow less human when he used it.
Leaning slightly down, she murmured to her shoes:
"Little lost soldier, where shall I wander,
Upstairs, downstairs, and to my lady’s chamber-"
And watched the brown leather turn black as night.
The Storyteller: Sergei managed to clamber up up after Erin without any particular trouble, and then whispered the same little rhyme, though his was a somewhat pained look as his books turned black as Aleksander's soul.
The Storyteller: Aleksander, for his part, just sighed and set forth for the Aquatics Center. The others could sneak. Alek preferred to bluff. [Stealth Rolls Please!]
Erin: [darkened countenance + the shoes]
The Storyteller: Erin and Sergei seemed to merge into the shadows, nigh invisible in the night. Aleksander... was not, but then he looked like he more or less belonged here.
The Storyteller: The Aquatics Center was a good-sized building standing at the foot of the hill on which most of the school was built, a construction of plexiglass and modern stylings that clashed painfully with the more austere dormitories located nearby.
The Storyteller: The door was locked, though it took Sergei barely forty seconds to pick the old lock and open the side-door into the building.
The Storyteller: The interior was mostly open, a large swimming pool occupying most of the building, and a further recess in which, Erin assumed, the hot tubs were, and the late Ms. Pearson had died. The place was largely unexceptional, with a cholrinated scent to it.
The Storyteller: Except, that is, for the two dark figures at the far end, fiddling with the door inside with a flashlight, and being generally much less successful at lockpicking than Sergei had been.
Erin: Erin set a hand on Sergei's shoulder, as a warning to stop, and then gestured him back to Aleksander, to warn him to stop. The large man's presence would likely cause the pair inside to bolt, and Erin wanted to see what they were up to.
Slinking around the beam from the flashlight, she crept closer to see what was here.
The Storyteller: This was not difficult to do. The two dark figures were, compared to Erin, relative neophytes to the art of sneaking through darkened buildings (as observed by the flashlight). Coming closer, Erin could make out a great many more details in the reflected light.
The Storyteller: They were students at the school, that much was apparent. Two young girls, perhaps thirteen years of age, give or take, dressed in a hodge-podge of school uniform (skirts and all), and dark hooded sweatshirts to make an attempt at concealing their features. One of them was a tall, Asian girl in glasses, the other shorter, freckled and with curly brown hair. They appeared to be attempting to pick the lock with student ID, and were generally failing at doing so.
Erin: This was a poor idea. But Erin was not entirely a creature of human logic. She quietly gestured toward the door, making a swinging motion with her fingers.
The door swung open, and Erin fell into the two girl's shadows, looking to see what they'd do.
The Storyteller: They squeaked in surprise, looking at each other and then at the student ID the Asian girl had been using to try and open the door.
The Storyteller: "Cool. You did it!" The freckled girl said, a broad smile on her face. She had a faint wisp of an accent, but it was the kind of accent that Erin had grown exceedingly familiar with over the recent years. A Russian accent, to be precise.
The Storyteller: "I did? I mean, I guess I did." The girl with the glasses said, looking at the student ID dubiously. "Need to remember that trick. Come on, Mary's around here somewhere..."
Erin: Erin's antenna twitched. She glanced around looking for her own two conspirators, then covered her eyes and looked for other, less savory entities that might also be lurking in the shadows. [warlock's gaze]
The Storyteller: The two girls set forth into the rest of the Aquatics building, flashlight in hand. It was unnervingly silent, or at least the two girls found it unnerving. After a minute, one of them called out "Maaaaary!"
The Storyteller: The sound echoed through the aquatics center, and the other hissed "Quit it!" "Sorry..."
The Storyteller: Finally, they reached the end of the hallway, and opened the door into what Erin took at first for a very small swimming pool. A hot tub, in point of fact, recessed into the floor, full of warm and bubbling water. It was here that the prodigal Mary was to be found.
The Storyteller: She was an older girl, perhaps fifteen years of age, with unruly brown hair that looked like it needed a haircut. She too wore a uniform, but she'd taken off her shoes and socks and was soaking her feet in the tub. "Hey, you made it."
Erin: Erin looked around, appraising the new girl. She kept her eyes on the girls, but also took the opportunity to investigate the scene of the crime, taking advantage of the darkness to step around unnoticed.
The Storyteller: There was blood, blood that had been cleaned well, but blood that was nevertheless there. Someone had been exsanguinated rather thoroughly here, not so long ago.
The Storyteller: "So... we're here... now what?" The Asian girl asked, looking at Mary dubiously. She appeared to be having some second thoughts.
"Well, now that we're here, I can declare the first meeting of the Mary Mack Hot Tub Club open." The older girl said, smiling. "First order of business is warm water."
The Storyteller: "Why do we name it after you." The freckled girl said, though she sat down by the tub.
"Because I've got the coolest name, obviously." Mary said, still smiling gently.
Erin: Erin raised her antenna, then shook her head slightly. Creeping up to the hot tub, and staying out of the light, she set a hand on the tile, letting her fingers dribble into the hot water. It wasn't hard to stay in the shadows, the shadows seemed to follow her. [inanimate communion]
The Storyteller: The hot-tub had experienced a great deal since its installment, this much was apparent even at a glance. It had felt life, and a certain amount of love as well, but most recently it had felt death.
The Storyteller: ...Erin saw flashing lights. There were policemen, one of whom was taking pictures of the scene. They were talking, discussing the death, wondering just what to do, just who had murdered Gail Pearson in such a horrible fashion. And as they spoke, the men in white took the body of Ms. Gail Pearson up. It was light, so very light, because it had no blood left in it.
The Storyteller: On it, however, was a different story. The body was covered in blood, the walls sprayed with it, the entirety of the bathing room decorated in splashes of liquid gore. And yet, Pearson's body was almost unmarked, except for this brilliant blood. Her throat was not torn, her heart remained in her body, her form was still.
The Storyteller: ...It was dark now, and Erin could hear labored breathing. The door to the bathing room opened, and Gail Pearson entered, dressed in a loose skirt and shirt, looking nervously about.
The Storyteller: Mary was already inside, sitting by the hot-tub, feet in the water, and grinning up at the older woman. "Wasn't sure you were going to come?" She looked subtly different now. Her features were the same, and yet somehow she wore them differently, she carried herself differently. She looked older now, Erin's age easily.
The Storyteller: "They couldn't keep me away." Gail said, smiling in relief. She shrugged out of the skirt and shirt, revealing a swimsuit underneath, and entered the hot tub. Mary smiled, a tight, close-mouthed little smile, and soon joined her.
The Storyteller: It was honest fun. The two women swam in the darkness, they laughed and joked. They splashed a little, and poured water over each other, and kissed.
The Storyteller: And it was one of those little kisses that turned into something else, Mary leaned down and kissed the side of Gail's neck, except it was less of a kiss and more of a bite. The teacher made little noises in her throat and melted back against Mary, even as the other girl drank deeply.
The Storyteller: Drank too deeply.
The Storyteller: Mary was lost in a haze of her own, a mixture of lust and hunger that had her body shivering with desire. Eyes closed, senses awash, she didn't notice Gail growing faint, didn't notice the pulse stammer and stop, how the other woman drew her last breath. She didn't notice anything until she'd drunk Gail dry.
The Storyteller: "Gail...?" Mary said, the first lights of panic dawning in her eyes. "Gail." The young woman (she looked suddenly younger now, though who could tell?) shook her companion, but Gail Pearson was long past dead.
The Storyteller: Mary made a strangled sound in her throat, and then she suddenly keeled over, vomiting forth a stream of rich, crimson blood. She shuddered, crying tears of blood.
The Storyteller: Mary sat by Gail's dead body for at least a half an hour, sobbing quietly. Then she left.
Erin: Erin snatched her hand back from the water, gripping the wrist that Caelan had bit into several months ago. The Kiss... she hazily recalled Cae hiding the wound with a lick of her tongue. She liked Caelan, but the memories of it, combined with the scene before her, made her eyes widen and her whole body tense. It had been ecstatic, heart-pounding, something beyond her wildest experiences, which in the realm of carnal pleasure, was little. And somehow violating. The pleasure had only made it worse.
Now... it had been a mistake, it seemed. A terrible mistake. But why bring these young girls back to the scene of the crime? The vampire had a conscience, perhaps. She couldn't trust two lives on it.
Erin, with a glance behind her and a gesture, caused the door she'd entered to slam shut. It would open easily enough for them when they tried to flee, and they would, now. Party time was over.
The Storyteller: The two girls squeaked in sudden fear, even as Mary raised her head up high, tilting her head very faintly towards the sound. It was a gesture that Caelan used, sometimes. "Oh hell, someone's coming." The freckled girl said, getting out of the water as quickly as possible and putting her shoes back on, socks forgotten. The Asian girl followed suit. Mary... just sat there and listened.
Erin: Erin waited for the two girls to leave. If they happened to run into someone on their way out, well, they'd be too grateful they got away to look terribly hard.
"It was a mistake," she just barely breathed aloud, having a feeling the vampire could hear her. She kept in the darkness, however, to ensure the vampire couldn't see her. [Dodge]
The Storyteller: The two girls ran away, and Mary just sat there. She didn't respond to Erin's words, she merely listened not moving. Not even breathing. She'd been breathing earlier, thinking about it, remembering the need to push air in and out of dead lungs. Now, Mary didn't bother.
Erin: It was hard to say if the woman could not hear or would not answer. Erin kept on the move through the shadows, not meaning to be in the same spot if the vampire gleaned her location and chose to attack. "Why bring those girls here?" she asked Mary.
The Storyteller: "Because I'm hungry." Mary whispered, her voice hoarse. She turned her head very gently, seeking to follow the sound. Where was Erin. "So, so hungry..."
Erin: "Stay where you are," the voice from the shadows murmured. "Promise you will stay where you are, and I will try to find you something."
There was little enough to find. The faintest whisper as the door to the closet opened, ready to become a gate to the Hedge at the slightest provocation.
The Storyteller: "Miss Mary Mack..." The vampire murmured. "All dressed in black."
The Storyteller: "She has a knife stuck in her back. She cannot breathe. She cannot cry."
The Storyteller: "And so she begs." The vampire's voice was hoarse. "She begs to die."
Erin: "Must you drink the blood of men?" the voice in the darkness asked. "I have seen one of your kind drink the blood of animals." It was still moving, circling in the darkness, silently holding a metal pail, and keeping close to the open portals.
The Storyteller: Mary Mack's head turned suddenly, moving with whipcrack speed. "Who. Are. You? What do you know?"
Erin: "Enough." There was the sharp smell of metal, and then the sharper smell of blood - a slash of a pocket knife in the dark, streams of blood running thick on the pail. Erin was gone from it almost immediately, for she was sure that Mary would be there in an instant. The cloth she'd used to wipe the blade lay off in the shadows as well, nowhere near her. The blood in the bucket hopefully overpowered the smell of the blood on her hand. [Still Dodging!]
The Storyteller: When the vampire moved, it was like lightning. She was fast. Fast, and to judge from the way the bucket buckled under her grip, strong as well. She let a hand dip into the blood on the bottom of the bucket, all else forgotten as she tasted the rich, blood.
The Storyteller: Mary Mack shuddered, and Erin could see her dark eyes dilate till the iris all but disappeared, the girl looking quite nearly alien now. She put her lips to the rim of the bucket and drank, intoxicated beyond caring now.
Erin: "'Tis the last rose of summer left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred, no rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes, to give sigh for sigh," Erin recited, circling.
"Tell me your story, Miss Mary Mack," she whispered. [Truth and Lies]
The Storyteller: The vampire didn't pay attention at first. Not really. But then she started speaking, her voice oddly distant, and with a faintly hoarse tinge to it. Mary sounded as though her vocal cords had been damaged at some point.
The Storyteller: "I was seventeen. He said he was a lost motorist, and it was snowing so hard. I let him in. We had a nice little house, we really did." Mary Mack said, her voice drawn. "It took him an hour. He killed my mother. He killed my father. He killed my brother. He killed me, and brought me back."
The Storyteller: "I tried to be good." Mary said. "I went to church, I didn't kill my prey, I was good. But I slipped up. It's been so long."
The Storyteller: "When I slipped up the first time, I went back to his house. I thought maybe I should explain." Mary Mack said. "I didn't mean to kill him. But his wife didn't understand."
The Storyteller: "She stabbed me in the back with a kitchen knife. I lost control... I killed her." The vampire whispered, licking her blood-drenched lips. "I begged the children to kill me, put me out of my misery, They just stared at me, with the knife in my back."
The Storyteller: "Miss Mary Mack / dressed all in black / she's got a knife / stuck in her back / She can not breathe / she can not cry / that's why she begs / she begs to die." Mary said, a fey smile on her face. "I don't try and die any more. I just pass the time."
Erin: "I'll not leave thee, thou lone one, to pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping, go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter, thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead," Erin recited, the poem continuing.
"The sunrise is very beautiful, Miss Mary," she murmured - an offer, not a request.
The Storyteller: Mary moved light a striking snake, throwing the bucket at where Erin had been only a moment ago. It hissed overhead, shattering against the wall of the bathing room, a last few drops of blood dripping down along the wall.
The Storyteller: "I don't care." Mary hissed, and Erin could see the long fangs in her mouth.
Erin: "Well Miss Mary? You speak words that say one thing and actions that speak another," Erin said, now hunched with narrow eyes, still cautiously on the move. "Which is it? You wish to die? Or do you wish to continue like this?"
The Storyteller: "After fifty years, I've stopped trying." Mary said, sitting down on the floor and cradling her head. She'd been erratic before, and now, drunk on Fey blood, she was capable of doing anything. Though for the moment... she as crying. "It's not a life. But it's what I have. It's mine."
Erin: "Do you stop trying because you truly desire it? Or do you stop trying because you have failed for too long?" Erin whispered. There was a pool between her and the vampire at the moment, because she knew when she was on thin ground. "There are others of your kind, who feed less dangerously. Blood in cups from the willing, blood from animals. There is a place I know, that is always in the twilight. A dangerous place, but there are many things there, perhaps that could slake your hunger without killing."
"They are not free," she murmured. "So are you willing to try? Or is this what you will always be?"
The Storyteller: "Gail was willing." Mary mumbled half-heartedly. "I don't try to hurt people. I just slip up sometimes. Not a lot!"
The Storyteller: The vampire stood up, red trails down her face. "It's not so bad. I'm here... I'm with children, with teachers. I get to play around in a hot tub. That's not so bad?"
Erin: "I know she was," Erin whispered. "I know... that's why I wished to talk, that is why I gave the blood. I know it was an accident."
Erin: "But you liked her, yes? Surely you can see how painful these slip ups are?" She moved swiftly, because her next words were cruel. "You were so hungry. Those little girls could have ended up like her, like you, like your family."
"Must you drink the blood of men?" she repeated, every muscle tensed to dodge.
The Storyteller: Mary hissed, a sound more like that of a serpent than of a human being. Her eyes tracked across the room, ears searching for any sound. "I would have been careful. Just leave me alone. I tried. But it's not the same."
The Storyteller: "You can live. Or you can live." Mary said quietly, her voice quiet. "I would've been careful. I try... Just shut up and go away, whoever you are."
Erin: "No," Erin said, heavily. "No. You have been careful. But you have still murdered people, Miss Mary. Words like 'accident' are true, but they don't change that." She saw the look in Mary's eyes, and she was careful to give no sound. "Come with me to the Market, Miss. If you find nothing, what do you lose?"
The Storyteller: "Fine." The vampire said, walking over to the shattered remains of the bucket and picking up a bloodied piece, licking it. "Be here tomorrow night, and I'll go to your market."
Erin: [pledged >.>] "Very well," Erin replied, then softer, "Are you fed well enough, to last until the morrow? I will try to bring you something, so you need not hunt to feed."
She circled back around behind the vampire, dipping her fingers in the water and retrieving her bloodied handkerchief from the floor. She took the opportunity to dab any obvious spots of her blood from the walls, the chlorine messing up any DNA that might be taken from it. The bucket she expected the vampire to lick clean.
The Storyteller: "I'll be fine." Mary said. Then, at great length, she added. "Thank you."