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Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 10/13/2017 12:30 AM

ImageImage


To say that it was a dark and stormy night was a bit on the nose, but... well.

Erasmus was thankful for it. Rain of this magnitude provided cover. Vampires had other senses, and fewer considerations for their health than did the living, but most still didn't like being out in the wet where it was nearly impossible to see. He hadn't counted on anything like this, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. The odds were stacked against him as it was.

He sped through the rain-slicked grass, mindless of the way his own sodden clothes clung to him. In his arms was a body, wrapped in a plastic sheet to keep dry. It was a poor arrangement for his beloved sister, but there had been no time for anything better. She lay limp and unmoving; he had put her to sleep, to make it easier. There had been no time. There was no time now. He grit his teeth and tried to run even a little faster, though he was already nearly spent from the effort of having come so far.

He was nearly there. It was this thought that kept him going.

The mansion was a sight to behold, with all the gravitas and grandeur that well-kept old architecture could give it, but it left little impression on Erasmus. Like people, most vampires were creatures of habit, and all master vampires were old. What struck him was the remoteness of it. The nearest residence aside from this was nearly a mile away. He stood for a moment at the gate, drenched and panting, before resettling the weight of his burden and knocking on the door.

With this much open land around them, they had to have seen him coming. Even if they hadn't, the one he was looking for was a vampire. Chances were good that they were already awake.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 10/13/2017 9:20 PM

Image


Elias was in the bath. His eyes were closed, his feet were dripping water onto the flagstone floor, the air was heady with perfume. Frankincense, perhaps?  There was something wrong with the image, though, putting you in the mind of Hylas, dragged into a pool by nymphs. Or else, it was Ophelia, his dark hair spread about him like pond weed. After a moment or two it was clear why. He lay perfectly still in the water, there was no rise and fall of breath in his lungs, nothing to disturb the water tension. He was a photograph, a moment captured, rather than something alive.

When the knock at the door came, he made an a noise of annoyance, snorting through his nose and disturbing the stillness that had settled. Whoever was at the door knocked again, and Elias, grudgingly, slowly, opened one eye. "What."

"There's someone here. They've been brought up from the gate house. They're waiting for you, Sir."

"You could have told me sooner." Elias stood up and stepped out of the bath, and dried himself off quickly before putting on a heavily embroidered dressing gown. He was on the short side of average, broad-shouldered  and handsome enough to turn heads even when fully dressed.

"I told you when we first spotted them, Sir. This was about twenty minutes ago." The voice through the door said

"Oh," There was a pause. "I think I may have been tuning you out. Who are they?" Elias pushed open the door and looked up to face the oldest member of his staff.

The fair-haired man shrugged. "Two vampires, one conscious, one not, both are looking for your help."

"I shan't bother getting dressed, then. I'll go see what they want." When the butler raised an eyebrow at him, Elias shrugged. "They're not going to bite the hand that feeds them. You've had them brought to the drawing room, right?"

From the gatehouse, it was a walk down the main drive to the imposing front door of the Brodnax family home. Another member of staff with an umbrella had escorted the two vampires into the house. It was sparse in its decoration, all old stone, tall, thin windows. The drawing room was much the same, but the stone floors were covered with rugs and old brocade armchairs faced the fire.

Elias stood by the door way, his expression a testament to how cold the floors were on his bare feet. He opened his mouth to make some pithy comment and caught sight of the bedraggled individuals that had made their way to the Brodnax estate. Pithy adjusted to calculating, calculations to conclusions, but only if. If. "Are you who I think you are?"
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 10/24/2017 12:33 AM

It felt a little strange to be shown to the door, rather than being the one doing the escorting. Too much time had passed since Erasmus had last been on the receiving end of service. He wasn't sure if he liked it, though his opinions had no bearing on the matter.

Erasmus leveled his gaze at the man who had been sent out with the umbrella, and one brow arched minutely upward. At this point it could have been no more than a gesture, and he imagined both he and his escort were aware of this. Erasmus was already soaked through, and a little more rain wouldn't have made any difference. He followed, however, without comment, from the gate up to the main house.

He did not expect to be allowed in to drip upon the rugs and furniture, but he did as he was told. He'd found over the centuries that it was better not to question these things when he didn't have to, lest some master interpret his words as a challenge to their authority. He did not sit, but he did set his sister on one of the couches, unwrapping the sheet from her body and folding it neatly in his hands.

By the time Elias walked in, Erasmus was composing himself, silently planning what he wanted to say. It didn't show on his face, but he was uneasy. He had never done anything quite like this before, soliciting a patron rather than allowing the two of them to be claimed by whichever power saw fit to do so.

The question caught him off guard.

"It depends on who you think we are," he said. He ought to have said more, begun explaining himself, but couldn't quite bring himself to do so just yet. He hadn't expected word of their arrival to precede them, having left as quickly and quietly as he could, specifically to avoid notice.

He may well have been playing into a trap, come to that. But if he was, there wasn't much he could do about it now.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 10/25/2017 5:19 PM

Elias rested the sole of one freezing foot against his calf, the silk dressing gown shifted slightly. Of all the times to play coy-- unless, unless-- he ought to watch his step. It was a dangerous game he was playing, coming to a fellow vampire in its own territory. Elias recalled a lesson from his younger years, the faint, stale breath of one of the Elders in his ear. "Vampires follow spider-laws," she'd waited for it to sink in. "walk into the web, and you may well finish up as supper."

Elias thought of himself as being a little more cultured than that. He'd offer refreshments, at least. "I'm forgetting myself. Water? Ewe's blood? I can have a hot water bottle made up for you, or find you some dry clothes?" He took a step towards them, still hovering in the back of the room, keeping his distance. "You are my guests, after all."

He looked out of one of the arched windows, there wasn't much that could be seen in this weather. The green of the hills and a dark smudge of sea. He glanced to them once before beginning. "I have travelled to the courts and the meetings, the asinine thing they like to call a council and I've heard. That girl is your... sister, correct? And she's the one they never stop arguing over. You're her keeper. Unless, I suppose, I'm completely mistaken. Though, you look familiar to me."
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 01/15/2018 12:35 AM

Erasmus did not immediately speak, watching Elias's face for any sign of his intent. He did not expect to find much. Any vampire who so much as dabbled in politics and did not immediately meet their end had mastered the art of keeping their true feelings hidden. As far as he could tell, Elias looked merely bored; but then, Erasmus's talents were never for politicking. He knew the cues for which way his mark would flinch, the tells of a feint--- nothing that had ever done him any favors in a verbal skirmish.

A long habit of servitude stayed him for a moment, but then he discarded it, shaking his head impatiently at Elias's offer of refreshments. He was being impertinent enough simply by coming here. What was one more offense, in the face of that?

He smiled, a small, grim twist of the lips, when Elias named him as his sister's keeper. "Is that what they call me?" he said. "I suppose in this case it may not be far off." He glanced at her, still curled up on the couch, her features made peaceful by an artificial sleep. His hands stilled, and he breathed in as if bracing himself for something.

"I would seek shelter for us here, if I may," he said. There it was, that was what he had come for. "I understand we have little enough to offer beyond our fealty, but I dare say our past masters have found us useful." And the rumor was that Elias treated his subordinates well. It was a gamble, and not one with odds that Erasmus cared for, but he had served under tyrants enough that he didn't care to subject Eleanor to it again, if he could help it. This was the best that had occurred to him.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 02/10/2018 8:57 AM

Elias fought to keep his expression even at the man's admission he was right. Though, at this point, it hardly mattered whether he showed his hand or not. They'd come to him, to the Brodnaxes. He took a breath and thought for a moment. "You know, for all I've heard of you two, I don't know either of your names. What do you know of this place, my family? And why do you come here seeking my protection?" Much better idea than showing his hand: getting them to show theirs.

Elias pulled over a chair from by the window and sat down. He pulled a hand absentmindedly through his dark hair. "This is business, then. You can be given rooms for the night, allowed to dry off before we set anything in stone. I can give you the courtesy of a night's rest, or we can begin now." They'd be safe for tonight, they were too valuable to have complete run of the place, of course, but Elias was sure the staff could take care of it. "But I daresay that, yes, we could find a use for you."

There was a reason Elias was known for being kind to his subordinates. The Brodnaxes had never run themselves like a business, they were a family. Sooner or later, anyone who came close enough and stayed long enough would be caught in the gossamer threads they spun; tied to them by obligation and unwavering loyalty.

But these two were like black sheep. Elias didn't think they could be part of a flock if they tried. He suspected they were used to turning their backs on their masters. They'd flitted between them often enough, and even if it wasn't of their own volition they were used as pawns-- movable pieces, easily snatched, easily moved beyond the grasp of their current lord. There was a better way of doing things, he thought. When ties weren't there in blood, or couldn't be woven there in time, there was a much easier way of shackling a person to that obligation.

Besides, it had been a long time since there'd last been a wedding to celebrate.
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 02/18/2018 8:16 PM

"My sister is Eleanor. I am Erasmus." There was no surname to accompany the introduction; there hadn't been one for centuries. These days, their appearance was often enough in and of itself to identify them, though it wasn't an infamy that Erasmus particularly welcomed.

He deliberated again, for a moment, how to answer Elias's question, but he quickly came to the conclusion that it would be no advantage to him to play the liar's game, especially with Eleanor present. "We have heard about your... generosity to those who serve you," he said. "I hope I can be forgiven for wanting a more comfortable service, if I can find it." This was not entirely untrue, though in reality Erasmus cared less for how he himself was used, and was more concerned for his sister's sake. The last few years had been especially hard on her, and the ensuing chaos of their master's fall had provided a convenient opportunity, even if he had botched their escape at first.

This was his chance to make up for it now.

At the mention of rest, he glanced towards Eleanor again, but then steeled himself, rigid and resolute. "No; I would much prefer to come to an arrangement before we accept any more hospitality."




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 02/19/2018 11:07 AM

Elias nodded, extending his hand to Erasmas. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. I assume you know who I am already, but I'm Elias Brodnax, head of the Brodnax family."

It was funny, what travelled out beyond these walls. He couldn't deny it, though. The family had a small, loyal set of staff. They were protected with the same doggedness that the rest of the family benefited from. Once the Bodnaxes had their claws in you, through friendship, employment, or marriage, it was impossible to shake them. For better or for worse.

Speaking of which. "Then we'll begin." Next time he decided to make agreements that would effect the whole of the family in nothing but a bathrobe. He was going to wear socks. His feet were freezing.

"I think that you two are dangerous to keep around. I think doing so will turn many of the vampire families who don't know us against us, I think it will make the ones who already don't like us livid, and as for our few allies... we'll wait and see. I think that if you get a better offer elsewhere you'll follow it, or at least, consider it. I don't like my pawns to have minds of their own, and most of all, I don't like using my people as pawns." He let this sink in, blue eyes fixed on Erasmas. He smiled, a display of sharp teeth. "I have a much better plan. I want one of you to marry into the family. Become Brodnaxes. Yes, I will have my uses for both of you, but it will not be as servants to the family, it will be as part of the family. Consider it... familial obligation."

He wasn't blinking now, he stopped breathing for a moment, frozen. He wanted to see the look on Erasmus' face when he realised what Elias really wanted. "This is my offer. Take it or leave it. If you walk away from here, know that I will let you go freely, but know also that no one will ever show you such kindness again. I might have a fondness for rescuing kittens from the gutter, but I don't imagine you'll get so lucky the next time you ask for help."
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 02/19/2018 11:12 PM

Erasmus had no talent for the games played by the court vampires, but he had cultivated an impressive poker face as time went on. As Elias spoke, Erasmus saw it put to good use. His features remained impassive even as he considered and reconsidered his position. Very well, he thought; he was the one who had come here without solicitation. He hadn't expected it to be just as easy as showing up and asking. He had half expected Elias not to entertain the idea at all.

But... marriage. That was not even in the territory of anything he had anticipated. He had to fight the urge to look to his sister again. His eyes narrowed. Somehow it was too easy. Being good to one's servants was one thing, but offering to take a stranger to bed as soon as they showed up on one's doorstep? However remarkable a trophy they would have made, it seemed foolhardy, if not excessive. His suspicion that there was some kind of trap in play seemed more likely by the minute.

Elias was clearly waiting for an answer. Erasmus closed his eyes a moment, then opened them again. A trap it may have been, but he didn't have the means to outsmart it. He would just have to take the blows as they came.

"I understand the risk we are asking you to take," said Erasmus, though he also understood that the Brodnaxes would be able to bear it, at least for a time. He would not have come to a well-meaning but weak master, and Erasmus liked to flatter himself that he knew the difference by now. "They are very generous terms. I would be happy to fulfill them." He did not mention Eleanor. He would not make her wed someone to ensure their safety, especially when it was his own plan that brought them here. And, if it came to that, Erasmus had no qualms about slitting the throat of a so-called spouse.

But then, if Erasmus felt the need to cut and run, it will have meant the Brodnaxes no longer had the lower to protect them; and by that point they would have bigger things to worry about than the loss of two vampires.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 02/20/2018 8:30 PM

He'd been waiting for the surprise, the shock of the unexpected to show in his eyes. It didn't. Perhaps, Elias thought, he had slightly underestimated his guests. Erasmus had survived this long, and that took skill. Not only that,but he had successfully managed to hold onto his sister. The years had not pried them apart, no matter how many other things they'd lost in the process. Elias thought of his own sister, Marguerite, and if the same could be said for them. No matter.

There were more important things to think about, now. Elias knew that the poker-face couldn't go all the way down, but the front certainly did the job it was supposed to. He couldn't figure out the shape the other vampire's thoughts were taking, but there was a way to expedite matters.

"You offer yourself into this agreement?" Elias clarified. He had been expecting that much. Why go through so much to protect family only to throw them to the wolves now? Still, the real crux of the matter was yet to come. Elias smiled, his favourite smile, theatrical and a little roguish, calculated to mean a dozen things and nothing at all. He was going to break that pretty little poker face of Erasmus' in two. Poor thing wouldn't even see it coming.

He got down on one knee, trying to look like the floor was freezing his poor dead flesh from his bones and he took Erasmus' hand in his. He brought it to his lips.

"If this is the case, then," he said, eyes flickering upwards. "I have just had the pleasure of meeting my fiancee for the first time."
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 02/21/2018 6:27 AM

Erasmus knew the dangers of letting his guard down too soon, so he tamped down on any faint stirrings of hope or relief at the fact that Elias did not immediately protest that it was Erasmus being offered up, and not Eleanor. Perhaps Elias had expected as much. The negotiations were not yet at an end, and there was time enough for new snags to introduce themselves.

However, even Erasmus could not keep the shock entirely from his features as Elias stood, smiling, and knelt in front of him. His eyes widened slightly, his hand limp in Elias's own. He heard Elias speak the word 'fiancé', but it was as if his mind refused to comprehend it.

There was a gasp from behind them. Erasmus turned sharply. Eleanor sat where he had left her on the couch, her hands at her mouth, her own surprise showing clear as day--- Eleanor had never been one for pretenses. Her eyes flickered from Erasmus to Elias and back again, and her hands fell to her lap slowly.

"Erasmus," she said. "You---" She paused, taking in her surroundings for the first time. "Where are we? What have you done?"

Erasmus would have liked to answer her, but he could not. A moment ago, perhaps, but not now. Now he was no longer sure himself as to the nature of the bargain that he had entered into, and could no more explain it to his sister than to himself.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 02/21/2018 8:55 AM

Elias stood up. "I'm sorry, the look on your face was priceless. But really," his expression grew more serious. "Do you expect me to force one of my own into a marriage with what basically amounts to, if you'll forgive me, a hired killer? They've married much worse through choice, but that's another matter. It's just practicality, I'm afraid." Most of the family could hold their own, but Elias could never force their hand in this. Many were as dutiful as he was, he supposed, they would take this on out of respect for him. There was still something about the romantic about him, though, he wanted to give them the chance to marry out of love.

"You might fail to see the advantages of this plan, Erasmus, but there is a lot to be said for the element of surprise." The girl stirred and Elias looked towards her. "Dear girl, this is the Brodnax estate. Your brother has entered into a deal with a more eccentric devil than he's used to, but nonetheless he has nobly managed to assure both your safety and your position." His tone was almost kind, he  shot an amused smile at Erasmus.


"I've got some practicalities to run through with you, Erasmus. I can have your sister lead to her room, if you'd like? Though, if she'd like to stay and hear what you did with your poor immortal soul, she's more than welcome."
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby crow » 02/22/2018 8:10 AM

Erasmus might have regained control of himself by the time Elias had finished speaking if Eleanor had not chosen that moment to introduce herself as a new element to the scene.

Eleanor took full advantage of his discomposure. "No. No, do not leave me out of this," she said, before Erasmus could recover enough to stop her. His brows furrowed at that, the beginnings of a reprimand on his lips. She met his gaze, defiant. "You cannot---" she began sharply, but she seemed to recall herself and stifled the rest with visible effort. It was neither the time nor the place to have a spat between twins; there were more pressing issues at hand.

Closing his eyes, Erasmus sighed. 'The element of surprise' indeed. He had expected to be bested at a game of wits, but he truly could not have foreseen the direction things had taken. The amusement that Elias seemed to take in unsettling him did not bode well for his future.

"Yes," said Erasmus softly. "How very practical of you to wed the killer yourself." Eleanor stared at him, but he had no answers for her. They were both entering uncharted territory now. The only comfort he had was that Elias's reasoning thus far had spoken to something like practicality, even if Elias's mannerisms had not. Erasmus was not unattractive, but it would have been an eccentric master indeed who wanted him as a bed-warmer.

"Order me as you see fit. My sister..." He glanced at her, but clearly there would be no talking her out of this. "She may do as she wishes. But so long as she comes to no harm, I shall consider your part in our bargain upheld."




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: Desperate Measures [P]

Postby Mousen Heath » 02/22/2018 9:24 AM

Elias looked between them. He hasn't, in all honesty, been expecting the girl to have any fight left in her. He was, almost glad. Her little spark of defiance in the face of her current situation, even if directed at her brother, spoke volumes.

"If I'm worried about being in close proximity to a killer then I'm not fit for position. That, and it would make family reunions hell," he smiled, amused with himself. He wanted to keep a close eye on them both anyway.

Erasmus had already moved on to practical matters, it seemed. "If your sister could offer up her talents occasionally, it would be appreciated. If she wishes to leave the estate I'd like her to be accompanied by someone other than yourself, that is my only restriction. No harm will come to her, and otherwise she may do exactly as she pleases. She's a servant no longer."

Then, there was the matter of Erasmus. "As for yourself, you'll be expected to attend those dreary social functions the old families put on. You could perhaps do me a favour and learn a couple of jokes, so I don't drop dead from the boredom. Otherwise, there's nothing husbandly I require from you. Look the part, and then welcome whomever you like into your bed. I require loyalty, not faithfulness." There were a few more things too. "Of course, you're no longer a servant either, but we all have our duties in this family. I will use your strengths where we need them. For all of us, this is something we cannot refuse, should we want to continue to survive."

He was almost finished, now, just housekeeping. "There is nowhere in the house that is forbidden to either of you, though, I cannot recommend snooping around the bedrooms. There's many of us here, coming and going. Some are more human than others, some more delicate, some much more dangerous. Keep on your toes, don't be foolish. Learn what's expected of you. You're allowed to be happy here, if you can permit yourself to be. Though, If you purposefully endanger a member of my family or a member of my staff, I will have you both killed. There are things I will not forgive."

He took a breath and looked at them both, aware that he'd dropped a lot of information on them at once. It was just easier that way. "If you'e satisfied with this, you can be lead up to your rooms."
" the bare floor crackles, book

lies torqued along its spine,

splayed. “I don’t pretend

to know anybody well: people

are like shadows to me and I

am a shadow.” Her job: years

in an empty room, to wait. "

— Muse not Muse, R. Warren


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