Prologue: Tauroctony, Scene II (Lauren)

"I'm touched that you think I know how to use a sword." Oleander smirked, but he walked over towards Lauren from where he'd been examining the iconography still left on the walls. "But I know how to use a hunting knife, so it'll have to do. Here."

He stood behind Lauren and reached his arms around her, taking the sword from her hand and reversing it in her grip. The thing was heavy, the blade pointing downward now. "You'll need to raise your arm, and then stab downward." He demonstrated, bending Lauren's elbow back and raising her arm, and then letting it fall. The blade whistled through the air, cold steel shrieking. "Let gravity do the work, this sword is sharp enough, you just make sure that the blade enters where it should."

"Got all of that?" Oleander said, not yet letting go of her. He was a disconcerting presence. He was alive, vibrantly so, and Lauren could hear the beating of his heart, could smell the twin scents of lilac and old blood upon him. Other smells were there, subtler smells, smells of shampoo, and dogs, and sweat. All the while, Lauren could feel the beating of his heart in his chest, steady and constant, and could imagine the rush of blood through those veins. "Hold my hand and I'll boost you up."

Remaining grumpy while paying attention to her half-assed sword lesson was very difficult. But Lauren managed, at least until the lesson was over and Oleander still hadn't let go of her. He smelled very interesting, and wow, this was really distracting.

Then the bull snorted, and she jumped. "Um, yeah, got it. Let's do it."

Jump on the bull, not on the nice-smelling bastard.

Dice Roll: 2d10s8e
d10 Results: 8, 9 (Total Successes = 2)
She took Oleander's hand and and hoisted herself on top of the bull. Lauren cautiously settled herself astride the bull, who was still busy with his meal. She gulped, steeled herself, grabbed a horn, and pulled his head back. She couldn't keep herself from glancing nervously at Oleander before raising the sword as she'd been shown. Lauren brought the sword down quickly, into the bull's thick, white neck.

Lauren caught a single glimpse of Oleander's ice-blue eyes, framed in a pale face, and he was smiling at her. But then the sword came down, and all of Lauren's senses were engulfed in a torrent of blood. There was so much blood, Lauren must have punctured the bull's aorta. The gush of blood, rich and thick, overwhelmed Lauren's senses. There was so much of it, so much blood. It was a waste as food, to weak to allow her to subsist, but there was still so much of it, clogging her nostrils, the sound of its fall pounding in her ears. It was a heady feeling, and Lauren was lost in it for a moment.

When she regained her mind, the gush of blood was down to a trickle, still pouring down into the hole within the Mithraeum floor. Oleander was standing by the camera still, but he was grimacing and rubbing his temple. The light on the Kirlian camera was off. Which was odd, since hadn't Lauren checked that it was working and filming before even asking for the sword-lesson? Why would it turn off now...

The bull was dead beneath Lauren's body. She hadn't even felt his last breath.

That was... unexpected. She had known it was going to bleed, but holy crap. Lauren got off the bull and stood up, swaying uncertainly and nearly falling over. She blinked and rubbed her head, attempting to clear it. Well, everything else... looked fine? Oleander was still there, the bull was dead, the camera.... needed to be checked.

Lauren carefully made her way over the camera. Hopefully it had worked. She doubted there was a large supply of bulls suited for sacrifice, and she wasn't really keen on doing this again. Realizing she was still holding the bloody sword, she wordlessly shoved it at Oleander. She frowned as she checked the camera. Why was it off? Had something turned it off, or broken it? Shit...

"Did anything happen to the camera?" She glanced at Oleander before turning back to it.

Oleander took the sword without a sound, shaking his head, his short, blond hair more ruffled than usual. At least Lauren couldn't smell him anymore, her nose completely blocked up by the smell of the bull's blood.

"Is something wrong?" Oleander said, blinking a few times and then looking first at Lauren, and then at the camera. "I didn't touch it."

The camera was a curious combination of the digital and the old-fashioned, with digital guts built around producing old fashioned film for the Kirlian process. As it powered up, Lauren noticed something peculiar. The time on the display read 2:18 AM. The two of them had arrived at the office building just after midnight, and when Lauren had checked the camera before killing the bull, it had been a quarter past one in the morning.

Killing the bull had not taken an hour.

"Oh, damn... What time is it? D'you have a watch or something?" As she asked, Lauren fumbled for her cell in the shoulder bag she carried.

"Did anything happen? I was kind of... there's a lot of blood... was... a lot of blood."

Finally, she found it. Lauren almost flipped it open out of habit, but the display on the front was plenty clear. They'd lost an hour somewhere. The poor bull got an incredulous glance, all previous goodwill towards it lost. Lauren checked the camera again, eyes lingering on the display, but also making sure it was still functioning. It occurred to her that this might be the sort of thing Moon would want to know about, and her fingers automatically hit the buttons on her cell to reach him as she continued to poke at the camera. She wasn't really sure what else to do at this point, aside from leaving, which she did REALLY want to do, but dammit, it would be stupid to chicken out now.

Oleander did indeed have a wristwatch, an old-fashioned sort of thing with an actual clock face. He looked at it, and then swore under his breath. "That is spooky."

"Sorry, Lauren." It was interesting that this time he said her name normally. "I zoned out."

The cell-phone rang, once, twice, three times, and then the familiar, newscaster-type voice of Lauren's Sire sounded on the line. "Vincent Moon Publishing." He said.

The camera, it seemed, had been running for at least a while. Perhaps some footage remained intact, admittedly view through Kirlian auras.

"It's Lauren. The sacrifice went well, up until the point where we lost an hour and I'm not sure what happened." Lauren sounded significantly more calm than she actually was at the moment, thanks to her ability to distance herself from whatever distressing situation was occurring, and focus only on things she was able to do (it was slightly less effective when she ran out of said things). She was also rather enjoying the fact that Oleander was at least somewhat unnerved, and for once, not smirking.

"The camera seems to have worked and all, but after I stabbed the bull... well, it didn't feel like much time passed, but neither of us can explain how we... I dunno, spaced out for an hour."

"Really? You both lost track of the time for an hour?" Moon's voice sounded through the telephone. "PERFECT. Genuine lost time phenomenon proves that Calmet was onto something. Do you feel any different? Damn it, I should've had someone below the blood to test if it had any effects. Something for next time."

"Get blood samples from everything and come to the haven at Blackfriars tomorrow night with whatever you have." It took some effort to figure out what Moon was saying, given that he tended to talk fast when excited, and he was certainly excited now. "See you then, and good work!"

He hung up.

"How much more work did we just get?" Oleander said with his familiar smirk now returned.

Lauren sighed as she slipped the phone back in her bag. Next time? Hopefully he'd forget about this and find something else to focus on before it came to that. He probably would. Lauren couldn't recall ever working on the same thing for too long. Not that she minded. It kept things interesting.

She turned to Oleander and--dammit, there it was again. Lauren suppressed the urge to throw something at his face.

"He wants blood samples from 'everything,' whatever that means." Lauren was pretty sure that the only blood here came from the bull... unless he wanted their blood, too? "He's very happy with what's happened so far, at least." She shrugged. Well, whatever happened with that lost hour was probably nothing to worry about, since Moon hadn't said anything bad about it.

Fortunately, she had a few vials they could use. Occasionally, Lauren wondered what the average person would think of seeing the contents of her bag. It was full of all kinds of uncommon tools that she had learned to keep in good supply since Moon had started giving her assignments. After acquiring a sample of the bull's blood from where it was still slowly seeping out of the stab wound, she handed a vial to Oleander. Lauren carefully bit herself, made some of her blood to flow into another vial, then licked the wound closed. She looked at Oleander.

"Um, do you have anything...? I probably have a small knife in here somewhere." She gestured toward her bag. "And I guess you'll need something to wrap that up, unless..." Lauren's mouth snapped shut. Really? REALLY? Did she really almost just say that? Not for the first time, she was thankful that she could no longer blush.


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