Brave New World

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How to Politely Say Ew (In French and English)

November 15, 2002

What could have been Reyna’s last breath caught in her throat. Her eyes widened to the size of saucers and a sound similar to that of a siren wailed in her ears. Almost instinctually, the sorceress’ fist began to curl, preparing to rip out Lilith’s heart. Before she could move, however, Lilith leaned away from her, threw her head back and laughed. It was a hearty laugh, with hands clutching her sides, eyes closed, and mouth spread into a cruel smile. The sound reminded Reyna of her neighbor’s wind chimes.

“Oh! Oh, your face! You should have seen it!” Lilith laughed some more. “Don’t worry, dearie,” she said as she pinched Reyna’s cheek. “I know you’re not my gift. Just thought I’d ruffle your feathers is all.”

Reyna opened her mouth to reply, but a harsh cough and one look from Dunstan kept her mouth shut. “This is your gift, Lilith.” Dunstan said as he held the dark green bottle out towards her. She smiled sweetly at him, her sharp canines showing as she did so.

“Oh? Is that a bottle of A negative I smell? Dunstan, you really know how to charm a girl.”

Chuckling, Dunstan handed her the bottle, “Actually, I think you’ll discover how true that statement is as soon as you poor yourself a glass.”

Lilith gave him a suspicious look, but shrugged and made her way over to a small black desk in the far corner of the room. Uncorking the bottle, the she squealed in delight. “Oh, Dunstan, you didn’t!” Swirling around to look at him her face looked almost feral. The whites of her eyes had bled a dark red, almost black, and veins protruded around them. Her upper canines, which Reyna thought looked vicious before, were even longer now. Holding her breath once more, Reyna knew she was looking at the true face of a Vampire in that moment.

“Where’d you get this?” Lilith asked as she poured herself a healthy glass full. Swirling it in the wine glass, she took the time to properly sniff the blood first before gulping down a mouth full.

“I donated it myself, just for you.” Dunstan responded, talking over Lilith’s loud and throaty moans.

Sighing, Lilith put her glass down on the desk and crossed her arms over her chest. Smirking, she raised a brow and asked, “Is that so? My, my, you must really want something from me if you’re supplying me with your own blood.”

Reyna watched the interaction in dead silence. Her brows had scrunched up as soon as Lilith started talking about blood types. She knew what Dunstan’s gift to her had been. What else would you get a Vampire? What was so special about Dunstan’s blood though? The young girl figured she’d have to squirrel that information away for later day. Or at least a later hour.

“Ah, I always hated speaking business in the home. Always seemed in poor taste to mix the two, don’t you think? Why don’t I take you and the lovely Sophie out for some dinner and we can speak on more important matters after?”

The room was silent for what seemed like forever for Reyna. Lilith seemed to be sizing Dunstan up in her mind, determining if he was worthy of so much of her time. Eventually dropping her crossed arms to hold her hands behind her back, Lilith’s head titled innocently to the side, “Sure! That sounds like fun.”

The change from two thousand year old queen to a sweet, teenaged girl almost gave Reyna whiplash. She wished she had her notebook with her so she could write down Lilith’s erratic behavior. After summoning a Vampire servant to store Dunstan’s blood away for her, she led the group out of the penthouse. The elevator filled with silence and Reyna felt the need to say something. “You have a beautiful apartment, Lilith.”

It seemed to be the right thing to say, as her eyes lit up at the compliment. Giving Reyna a sincere smile she replied, “Oh, thank you! I just finished redecorating that living room you were just in. Took me forever to find the pillows that matched those lamps just right. I’d thought about changing out the lamps for something a bit easier, of course, but those lamps are from before the Industrial Revolution and, I mean, who can say no to antiques? Not me, that’s for sure. Isn’t that right Sophie?”

Sophie gave a wry laugh, “It’s true!”

“So I was determined to make it work.” She finished by the time the elevator reached the ground level. As the four of them walked out the building, Lilith remarked quite proudly to Reyna, “This whole building belongs to me, did you know?” When Reyna supplied that she didn’t, Lilith hummed. “Yes, I own several pieces of real estate in New York. I’ve owned this one for over two decades now and I only lease it out to other Vampires. The apartments fetch quite the price, you know, especially with the UV windows. Every several decades or so I just inherit the property from myself. Though, what with this new mayor I’m beginning to worry if that won’t be so easy for me to do in the future.”

Lilith made that comment so off handedly, Reyna almost missed the shared look between her and Dunstan. Dunstan stroked his beard somewhat thoughtfully before nodding. Lilith’s walk gained a bit of a pep from there on out and took charge of their little group, leading them to whichever restaurant she wanted. Reyna caught up with Dunstan and tugged on his hand. He looked down at her and raised a questioning brow. Trying to remain discreet, Reyna whispered, “Can you conjure my notebook and a pencil, please?”

Shaking his head with incredulity, Dunstan did as she asked. The young girl beamed up at him when the item was in her hand. “Thank you,” she all but sang. Not long after leaving Lilith’s apartment the group reached a restaurant that Lilith deemed acceptable.

“This is one of our favorites!” Sophie declared with an almost coy smile. “It belongs to a dear, dear friend of mine. He’ll make sure we’re given the royal treatment!”

Lilith gave a dry laughed and looked over at Reyna with a ‘he’d better’ kind of look. Reyna couldn’t help herself and a snort escaped from her mouth. Grinning proudly, Lilith entered the establishment while Dunstan gave the back of Reyna’s head a soft smack. Not feeling at all ashamed of her behavior, she followed Sophie in.

They were indeed given the royal treatment, being seated by large windows that looked out over a garden in the back of the restaurant. Reyna felt completely out of place in her simple pink t-shirt and hand-me-down jeans Dunstan had bought her from a Salvation Army. No one seemed to give her clothing any attention, though, so it could’ve been worse. After the waiter gave Reyna her menu, she grimaced. Everything was in French.

The waiter asked what to get for drinks and appetizers, if any. Lilith and Sophie simply ordered coconut water and just regular water for Dunstan and Reyna. Picking an option on the menu, Reyna practiced the pronunciation in her head while silently trying to sound it out. Placing the menu down on the table, she opened her notebook and caught Lilith’s gaze. “Uh, Lilith,” she cleared her throat, building up her courage, “Could . . . could I ask you some questions?”

“Now Reyna, you don’t want to be a bother,” Dunstan said, eyes not straying from his own menu.

“Oh, it’s not a bother! I love answering questions about myself!” Lilith laughed. Her smile was an easy one and helped Reyna to relax some. “Go ahead, dearie,”

“Okay, well, how old are you?”

“Starting out with the hard ones aren’t you?” Lilith laughed again, “Don’t you know it’s rude to ask a woman her age?”

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“She is only joking, Reyna.” Sophie comforted the girl softly before taking a sip of her coconut water. “Stop teasing the poor girl already.”

“Oh, all right. Spoilsport,” Lilith muttered under her breath, then continued, “I was born in the third century. The first half, I think. It’s hard to say considering we weren’t really going off the Christian calendar at that time. So to answer your question I’m roughly seventeen hundred years old. Look pretty good for my age, huh?”

"Mhm,” Reyna agreed, “You don’t look much older than me!”

“Yes,” Lilith said slowly, looking her over. “I can’t say for sure, but I probably turned between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. Personally I like to go with fourteen, but who knows? I hadn’t even had my first period before becoming immortal!” She exclaimed, causing Dunstan to choke on his water.

“How did you become immortal?” Reyna asked, her writing hand moving furiously across her notebook paper, jotting down everything Lilith was telling her along with some personal notes.

“Oh you don’t know?” Lilith’s grin became Cheshire like. She tisked at Dunstan, “Shame on you, Dunstan! Every child knows this story. I cannot believe you never told it to her before you put her to sleep. I mean, how’d you keep her in bed?”

Lilith’s taunting was interrupted by the return of the waiter asking their orders. Neither Lilith nor Sophie ordered anything, they just asked for refills to their coconut water. Dunstan, however, ordered the turbot aux buerre blanc—whatever that was—and just before Reyna could give the waiter her order, Dunstan told the waiter she’d be having the coq au vin. Reyna’s mouth twisted into a scowl, silently cursing him. Sure, she didn’t know what anything on the menu was, but at least if she didn’t like what she’d ordered it would have been her own fault.

Lilith gave a small cough, redirecting the focus back onto herself. “Like I was saying,” Lilith continued with a bit of a growl behind her words, “I was bitten by a bat.”

“A bat?” Reyna practically yelled, causing several diners to look over at their table. Grimacing sheepishly, the she whispered a soft “Sorry,” before locking gazes with Lilith once more. Her gaze was fierce, but held an edge of amusement to it.

“Yes,” she sighed, “a bat. I’d snuck out of my home one night, you see. My mother was busy trying to put my . . . god, how many siblings did I have?—Whatever, she was trying to put my siblings to bed, and believe me that was quite the chore considering how many of them there were. Who knows where my father was, probably impregnating another woman,” Lilith mused, “He always was spending what little money we had on whores, that idiot. Anyway,” she said, shaking her head back to the point of the story, “I snuck out because I’d heard rumors of this strange bat that was haunting the caves. I was a curious little thing and had wanted to see it, and I did.” Lilith ended with a smug nod of her head.

“What was the bat like? Why was it strange?” Reyna asked, then added, “Well, it obviously was a strange bat, but what made people think it was strange?”

“The stories I was told was that it was the size of a man, and as white as the moon.”

“Was it?” Reyna asked, practically bouncing on the edge of her seat. The grip on her pencil had become so tight it was a wonder the piece of lead hadn’t broken yet.

“Good heavens no!” Lilith cackled, but then stopped once the waiter returned with their food.

Reyna stared at her dish with a slight pout to her lips. The portions were very tiny. It was a chicken leg on top of another small piece of chicken covered in some sort of thin gravy with mushrooms, onions, and something green sprinkled on top. Looking over at Dunstan’s dish, she thought it looked like a piece of grilled chicken covered in some white sauce. The smell of it, though, told Reyna that it was definitely not chicken. Probably fish.

Humming to herself, the she picked apart her meal before looking back to Lilith, hoping she’d continue with her story. “So,” she prompted, “the bat?”

“Hmm?” Lilith murmured, having become distracted by the waiter’s neck when he leaned over to place the dishes on the table. “Right, the bat. I mean, it was large, don’t get me wrong, but it was not human sized. Probably more,” she paused to think, “Chihuahua sized. Yes, it was about the size of one of those demon dogs. It was white, though, with beady little red eyes and fine, sharp teeth. I hadn’t even realized it had bitten me until the next morning.”

Reyna wrote down this new information quickly, but then stared at her notes for a few seconds. “But, like,” she started slowly, “couldn’t it have bitten other people before you? Or after you, even?”

“Oh, I’d know if it had bitten anyone before me, trust me. And it couldn’t have bitten anyone after me.” Lilith said with a shrug. She met the young girl’s gaze and Reyna got the feeling she wanted her to ask how she could possibly know.

Not one to fall short of expectations, Reyna asked, “How?”

“Because it died right after it bit me. Just laid down onto the cave floor, closed its eyes—almost peacefully—and decayed right in front of me. No chance of anyone else being bit.”

Reyna nodded but her attention was turned to her notes now, writing down everything she’d learned. She had so many more questions now about where this bat came from and why it only bit one person, then died. So many more things the young sorceress wanted to know. Unfortunately for her, Dunstan had grown tired with her questions. “All right,” he said. “Enough with all the questions. Your dinner’s getting cold Reyna so I’d suggest you eat it.” He was already half way through his own meal.

“Just one more question. Please?” She begged, looking between Dunstan and Lilith. Her eyes had gone big, her bottom lip jutted out, and she clasped her hands together right under her chin.

Dunstan groaned, “No, now eat.” Sighing, Reyna began to eat her small chicken. Sophie began some small talk with Dunstan and Reyna could tell she felt a little bad for her from the way she kept glancing at her. Reyna didn’t mind though, she had gotten more information from Lilith than she had expected before Dunstan put his foot down and asking him for another question was a long shot anyway. She stayed mostly quiet as the adults—if you could call them that with a straight face—made idle chit chat. Every now one of them would say something interesting and she’d quickly jot it down in her notebook, making sure Dunstan wasn’t looking as she did it.

When they finished their meals and paid for the check, it was past 8:00. Reyna followed Dunstan, Lilith, and Sophie into the city streets for a few blocks, listening in as they talked, until reaching what looked to be an abandoned store. There was no sign claiming what it was, nor were there any visible windows. Everything was dark and boarded up, but it seemed like this was their destination. Sophie walked up to the metal door and knocked delicately two times. A small slat opened up and a pair of eyes looked out at them. “Who’re you?” A gruff voice bit out.

Sophie rose to her full height—an intimidating 6’3 in her heels—puffed up her cheeks and leaned in towards the eye slot. “Excuse me,” she started, elongating the word ‘excuse’, “but who are you? Are you new here or just too blind to see that I am standing next to your queen, the most beautiful and ancient of all Vampires: Lilith! Or perhaps you might put two brain cells together to realize that I’m your boss! Now open this door or I’ll rip your tongue from your mouth and leave you to live out your eternal life as a mute!”

Reyna felt she should feel more scared after having been in the presence of a threatening Vampire, but all the young girl could think of was how Sophie’s accent made her threats sound like a verbal roller coaster. The door to the establishment snapped open, drawing her from her strange thoughts. The inside was as small and run down as Reyna had imagined, but there was an elevator off to the side that took them down below ground.

Loud and unfamiliar music blared from the other side of the elevator’s doors as soon as they began to descend. The doors opened two seconds later to a room full of gyrating, sweaty bodies. Reyna’s nose scrunched up in disdain and her hands flashed up to cover her ears. The four of them walked over to a corner that was roped off and guarded by a large and intimidating black Vampire. He wore all black like in the movies, with a buzz cut, sunglasses—which seemed redundant, considering they were inside—and something wiry in his ear. After seeing Sophie, he gave them access to the sectioned off area.

The area was raised on a platform so the viewer could see everything in the club, and had a luxurious red couch that curved along with the wall. Reyna had a deep urge to jump on the couch but knew immediately what type of sigh Dunstan would exhale at her so she reigned the desire in. “Well then, Dunstan,” Lilith said, raising her voice slightly so Dunstan could hear. “I believe you and I have some business to talk about. Follow me, there’s an office in the back.”

Dunstan nodded and looked back towards Reyna before ordering, “Stay here!” Then he was off. Reyna scowled as she watched him go. Why couldn’t she go with them? They were just talking business, after all. It’s not like that was a private matter or anything.

Sophie looked worried, though. She wrung her wrists and shifted back on forth on her feet. “Oh dear,” she said, looking all around her club for something. “Just—just wait here for a minute, Reyna. I’ll try to find something fun for you to do.” And just like that, Reyna was alone. Sighing, she placed her elbows on her knees and face in her hands. Taking a long look around the room, she sighed again, thinking it was going to be a long, boring night.

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