Prologue: The Damned, Scene I (Lauren)

"How do you like it here?" Lydia asked, curious as a magpie. Then again, a healthy sense of inquisitiveness was all but required for membership in a mystery cult which sought to learn That Which Man Was Not Meant to Know. "I've only travelled to Las Vegas and Malta, so it's cool to hear what other people think of London."

"I was indeed feeding the pigeons." Lydia said. The red-eyed pigeon was still staring at Lauren. "They're really cool birds. And they've got some very impressive senses. They can see color, and look well into the ultraviolet. Not to mention they can find the earth's magnetic field and they can hear infrasound. You know, the spooky stuff that makes you think a ghost is around when it's really just a bad pipe."

"I like it well enough. It was hard to get used to at first. Driving on the other side of the road all and all that stuff. There are some things I miss about Nebraska, but," Lauren shrugged, "there was no point in going back, and it was kind of nice, starting over completely. Not many people get that chance." Sometimes, she thought she was lucky that her family was so far away when she was embraced. It would have been harder to leave them.

Lauren wasn't sure why that pigeon was staring at her, but she wanted to scare it off. However, she couldn't think of a way to do that without looking stupid. And it was stupid, wanting to challenge a staring bird. Instead, she looked at where Lydia's eyes probably were under all that hair.

"I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak that highly of pigeons," Lauren said, raising an eyebrow. "Everyone considers them pests." She did too, but her opinions on pigeons were not strong enough that she cared to mention them while surrounded by pigeons and someone who loved pigeons.

"We should start walking." Mostly, Lauren just wanted to get away from that weird pigeon.

"Sure." Lydia said, getting to her feet and looking down the street. The red-eyed pigeon followed her gaze, and then flew away, the flock dispersing, but not travelling very far. "You're visiting the Lady of London? Sorry, Ms. Penrose didn't give me a whole lot of information."

"And people have a very schizo approach to pigeons. Normally, they are pests." Lydia said simply. "But a fancy pigeon can sell for hundreds of pounds, and doves are signs of faith and devotion. But underneath the glitz and glamour, they're still feathered rats. Kinda like vampires."

"Yes. Moon is having a party and she's first on the guest list, of course." Lauren watched the pigeon fly away with a feeling of victory, even though she hadn't really done anything.

She started walking to the Lady of London's building. Lydia was confusing. Pigeons, glitzy and glamorous? Lauren frowned. "Vampires are like rats?"

"Sure. Think about it. You're a monster and everyone hates you. You've got fangs, you drink blood, and even if you're a really awesome vampire with superpowers, you still need to hide, because the humans have exterminators. Only instead of rat poison they're using flamethrowers, so the metaphor needs work." Lydia said, rubbing a hand along her cheek in thought. They were walking very close, and Lauren still hadn't caught a glimpse of her eyes. "But, I was going somewhere with this. Some vampires hide in plain sight. Like Penrose. Pretty and glamour and stuff. And people keep rats as pets. But at the end of the day, when it's all over, you're still just a rat, and they'd kill you like one."

"But that's okay. It's kind of awesome, actually, so long as you remember it." Lydia said cheerfully. Lauren spotted the pigeons, now roosting around the Lady of London's terraced house. "Rats get into everything and they're really smart. They need to be careful, but nobody's gotten rid of rats yet. Or pigeons. Or vampires."

Years with Moon had given Lauren impressive "smile and nod" abilities, and she made use of them here. Half of what Lydia was saying made sense, and half of it seemed to be rambling. Being killed like a rat is kind of awesome? What?

Those freaking pigeons were still there, but they were probably just wondering if Lydia had any more food, so Lauren didn't pay them much attention. Instead, she peered at her companion's impenetrable hair curtain.

"Can you see through that?" Lauren asked as they arrived at the building.

Dice Roll: 10d10s8e
d10 Results: 8, 4, 5, 9, 8, 7, 9, 8, 6, 1 (Total Successes = 5)

"No." Lydia said, grinning. She rang the doorbell. "Not a thing."

And it was true, as Lauren peered through the lank strands of pink hair. There was a simple explanation for this, being that Lydia had no eyes. They were completely absent, just smooth patches of skin in her eye sockets, unbroken by any hint of an eye.

"Lydia Morreluck," Lydia said into the intercom when it buzzed, she turned her sightless head towards Lauren, "And Lauren...?"

Blindness, Lauren would have accepted easily. Or if there had been some sign that her eyes had been gouged out, it would have been unfortunate, but not terribly creepy. Lydia, however, looked as if she'd never had eyes at all. That was unexpected. And yet, she seemed to have no trouble navigating, as far as Lauren could tell.

She was so busy coming to terms to with this revelation, that she nearly missed Lydia's prompt. Lauren cleared her throat. "Darrow. Lauren Darrow."

"I'll explain over drinks later, if you want." Lydia said with a cheerful, sharklike grin. Given her other deformity, the strange teeth seemed hardly noteworthy now. "I know a great place."

Suddenly, there was a fluttering of wings, and the red-eyed pigeon landed on Lydia's shoulder. Lauren got a good look at the bird now, an all-grey thin with bright, bloody-red eyes and red-tinged beak and feet. It was a pigeon, but it looked just a little bit strange for a pigeon.

"This is Cher Ami." Lydia said, indicating the bird on her shoulder. When she turned her head towards Lauren, the red-eyed pigeon turned to look at Lauren as well. "Lauren, this is Cher, Cher, Lauren."

Lydia was impressively cheerful for someone who looked so strange. "That sounds good..." Lauren trailed off as she watched the pigeon. It was the strange, staring one from before. It seemed to be Lydia's pet, and she was glad she had resisted the impulse to scare it off. Lauren thought they must be very close if the pigeon mimicked Lydia's movements.

"Hello, Cher," Lauren said it almost automatically, a polite reflex. She was pretty sure the pigeon couldn't talk. Though it could see, obviously. Wait. "Oh. A... seeing-eye... pigeon..." She cocked her head. "Huh."


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