01: Unwanted Attention
Just inside the city and outside the entry gates, both Clara and Varriss were waiting for Oliver’s return. “Hey, he made it back!”, Varriss tapped Clara’s shoulder and pointed towards Master Martin as he strolled past them.
Clara responded by first looking at Oliver and then towards the young infernal silver-haired woman walking silently beside him. Clara noted that the woman had a set of curled black rams horns protruding from the sides of her head.
Clara and Varriss both heard the distinct jingles of the chains that rattled as she walked. The woman had silver shackles with a few chain links still attached to her wrists and ankles. Her bare feet were dirty from the long walk out on the unpathed roads of outer Cormanworth.
Varriss was in awe, “Nooo, he could not have. That can’t be.”. They both approached him. Clara put her hand on her sword and followed closely behind Varriss. Varriss asked, “You made it back alive, and is this her?”. Varriss looked at Andrea, she was not a scary looking, not growling at him, and most importantly not chasing him. Her blue eyes looked up and she smiled. They all stopped.
“You look familiar, have we met before?” She asked.
Varriss responded, “Yes you were chasing me. Name is Varriss” He reached down to take her hand, he tended to do this with each new woman he met. Andrea hungrily reached out to accept his hand when three things happened all at once. Master Martin slapped his staff down on Andreas extended outreached hand and, with the other, he pushed Varriss backward. Clara punched Varriss in the arm hard enough to knock him down to the ground.
Clutching the hilt of Cinder, Clara glared at Andrea. She strongly reminded both Varriss and the demon, “This dog is mine.”.
Oliver commanded, “Andrea, no touching.“.
Varriss worked on standing up, as he held his hand for Clara to help him, she looked down at him and scowled. She reached down with her free hand then easily pulled him up and off the ground like one would with a small child. “And this is Clara, my overbearing companion and the love of my life.”, Varriss added weakly as he smiled.
Clara asked, “How did you catch her, I was told the Demon Trap did not work.”
“This is not something for discussion on the open streets.”, he looked around and noticed that several heads were turning and looking this way, no they were looking at Andrea. “This is not good, we got to be quick, we got to get to my shop. We will talk there.”
They all nodded in agreement and continued down the cobblestone pathways of the city. Andrea just kept looking down at the ground, trying to avoid eye contact with anybody. She was hungry, she would look up occasionally and all she wanted to do was touch people, to start feeding on them. She was concentrating on Oliver’s backside. Her desire to touch him was growing, as the dreams they shared were intimate. She wanted to reach up from behind him and wrap her arms around him to hold onto his chest. She sighed in despair as she resisted this urge to do so. As she continued to walk, she found herself trying to just brush against people, a gentle stroke with her hand is all it would take to satisfy her hunger.
Andreas’ attention was quickly directed to a tall angelic, shirtless man passing by in the opposite direction. His tan skin showed more muscles than Oliver ever hoped to be able to build in his lifetime. He wore light white dyed leather pants that tightly outlined his muscular legs. His leather belt was adorned with several leather pouches. His high brown leather boots also had displayed golden celestial rune enhancements. His white feathery style hair gave him an even more enhanced angelic appearance. The Heavenly warrior was carrying a powerful looking long spear with golden celestial runes running down the metal shaft of the weapon.
Time seemed to slow down for Andrea as she met his dove-shaped crystal blue eyes for a brief moment before he turned away from her gaze. She came to a complete stop, slowly reached out her hand, and stretched out her fingers towards him. Her heart thumped, a strong desire came across her mind. Her eyes ignited and lit up in a demonic ember red. She found herself staring at him as he walked away from her.
Oliver noticed Andrea had stopped, her eyes aglow. People around her also stopped and started to stare in her direction. Oliver knew he had to keep her moving. “Andrea, control yourself. Focus on me.”, Oliver reaffirmed in a commanding voice. He noticed who she was staring at, a man from his guild. Charmeine a Half-Celestial, he had divine blood of the god Toluene running through his veins. Charmeine was one of the three Celestials in the Grindhouse Guild Olver belonged to.
She turned her gaze back to Oliver and her eyes returned to a deep blue. Why was she feeling like this?
Though not many people were running around, small children darted and played and constantly attracted her attention. Her eyes darted left and right. She wanted to catch and clutch these younglings, she just wanted to hold them. Does that mean she wanted to eat them too? This was pleasantly disturbing to her. She kept these dark impulses in check.
Hole in the Wall
The Hidden Occult is a little shop in the back alleys of Cormanworth. The shop is out of the main light of the regular stores located in the poorer district of the city. It was not too far from Shady Tams Inn, a place of ill repute. The building had a residence above and the shop below. Andrea had seen this all before in the dreams she had been sharing with Oliver.
The building was made of stone and wood with a worn ceramic tile roof. The Hidden Occult had a tiled overhang to prevent rain from falling on a passerby. Oliver reached inside his pocket and pulled out a ring of keys and found the correct one. He then unlocked the door and pushed. The heavy wooden door slowly budged then once the momentum started the door swung freely. A mechanical bell attached to the door went ding ding.
“Wait here for a moment, I have to disable the detection alarm runes before you enter.” he went inside.
Clara never took her hand off the hilt of her sword, and never took her eyes off the demon. Clara was waiting for the demon to do something that required her fighting skills. She had no feelings for this creature. She knew they were vile spawns of a hell realm with no humanity, no soul. She understood these creatures existed to cause pain and suffering. She was sure it had wormed its mind-bending ways into Oliver’s head, like the other one did, Heather. There was something off about this one though, she was having a hard time putting her finger on it.
“Would you not stare at me, I find it disturbing. Everybody seems to be looking at me as well.“, Andrea asked. She reminded herself of the dream she had the first time she visited Olivers shop. This experience was so similar to that dream sequence. She remembers everyone staring at her.
Andrea looked at Clara, her green unmoving eyes, constantly waiting and watching Andrea’s every move. Clara reminded Andrea of a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse hiding in a hole and Andrea was the mouse. Clara’s cold and sturdy gaze sent chills up and down her spine. Andrea did not see hate in her eyes, but a strong distrust. Andrea looked around again, she could see more of the people stopping nearby and just staring at her. It was very disconcerting, she was nearing a mode of panic. Where would she run to? Who would she run to? The only one she could think of was Oliver.
“No” was all Clara said clearly.
The warning snapped Andrea’s worrying mind back out of panic mode. She silently scanned the staring crowd of people. Most had just stopped what they were doing and just stared at her. No expressions on their face other than a dull blank stare. She found one of these individuals strangely attractive. His face had a chiseled hard edge and the day-old unshaven stubble gave him a dangerous edgy look. His brown top hat made him look respectable.
Varriss noticed the rather strange event happening around him, “Clara what’s going on. This is getting a bit creepy.”. He looked around him, the nearby people had stopped and turned their attention to face him, no it was Andrea they were looking at. “I think we have a problem.”
Andrea had focused on a rather shady individual. He wore clothing befitting one of the local gang’s status and authority. His fine merchant grade cut brown suit and top hat showed his wealth and status on the commoners of Cormanworth. The stranger had become fascinated by the strange silver-haired woman standing at the doors of the Hidden Occult. He had felt he had been held captive by her beautiful blue-eyed gaze. He was now intrigued by this woman, he had a sudden need to know more about her. He continued to stride forward, leaving the gazing crowd of onlookers behind, he wanted to get closer to Andrea.
Varriss noticed him first, he was the only one who was moving forward and towards Andrea. He moved in front of the brown suited man to block his path. “Where do you think you are going? Shops closed.“, Varriss warned.
Clara’s eyes now shifted to the stranger, she studied him. She knew who he was. She did not trust him either. The only name he ever gave was Mr. Morgan.
Mr. Morgan was a shadowy figure in Cormanworth who dealt in criminal deeds. He was into drugs, smuggling, slavery, extortion, and murder. He was untouchable by local law enforcement, but even he had smarts not to mess with Master Martin and his Dark Arts Division. Mr. Morgan had ties with the Night Queen of Cormanworth, he paid her price and she played the authorities. That only worked so far, he knew that Master Martin and his team hunted demons and things that go bump in the night. He would not ask The Night Queen Heather, to go against Oliver, for fear that the chance Oliver could banish his asset.
“Sorry, but my business is not with you blondey, but the lovely silver-haired lady behind you.” he paused, “My darling are these roughens giving you a hard time. The red-haired one can have such a bad temper. I would not like you to be in any distress.“. He had noticed the mark of a freed slave, the shackles on her legs and wrists. She had been a slave, he thought she could be one again.
“No I am fine, thank you.“, she reached her hand out to touch the stranger.
The door opened up again with the ding of the mechanical bell. Andrea quickly pulled her hand back to herself, as she remembered Oliver’s warning. Oliver had returned, he looked at Mr. Morgan, he recognized him as a potential problem. “Andrea Let’s go. Everybody inside now.“.
Andrea moved first into the shop followed by Varriss. Mr. Morgan tried to enter but was blocked by Clara who now stood at the entrance of the shop. She stood fiercely and her knuckles were white clutching her sheathed blade. She was waiting for Mr. Morgan to make a move, all she needed was an excuse to cut him down. “Mr. Morgan, this does not concern you. I would advise you to go away, disappear, exit, scram, and go forth.”
Mr. Morgan wanted to take custody of the young silver-haired infernal. He had plans for her, she would make an excellent prize for his ill repute operations. She would fetch a fair price in the Negroth or the Kingdom of Blackthorn.
Mr. Morgan studied the red-haired warrior woman in front of him. He knew of the reputation of Clara Valentine, she was a brutally efficient warrior and frequently burned her opponents to death with her flaming sword. He even had tried to recruit her a few years ago, she turned him down. He decided to maybe try another way of catching the infernal. The urge to acquire the infernal was waning since she entered the building.
“My apologies I thought the woman was in distress. She looked very worried, all I wanted to do was help.” he smiled thinly.
“Yes, I am sure you did. Now go. This is the last time I tell you to do so.” Clara returned the banter.
Mr. Morgan turned around and continued down the street, his mind clearing a bit more. He had an infatuation with this new strange woman, she had a certain charm about her.
Clara closed the door and Oliver locked it from the inside. She turned her attention back to the demon. She thought Oliver must be insane, he’s got himself wrapped up with another succubus. She is sure he is going to get himself, Clara and Varriss killed. She will have to keep an eye on him, make sure this one does not torment him as Heather did.