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 Order and Chaos, 17th century vampires
XANDER
 Posted: Jan 24 2016, 12:39 PM
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Oh, oh, but -- you can't be serious. His laughter is sharp and fragile, a glass marble bouncing off the travertine. It's not possible.

Impossible, dear William? It is as possible as you live and breathe -- or as possible as you walk and talk, more accurately.

Oh, no...


*

He remembers it with great nervousness, those crimson eyes, those slow, cold smiles, the absolute scentlessness of the room, the sterility. His champagne flute flits to and from his lips for nervous sips, the taste of it bland, its effects useless; it occupies his hands the way an actor would carry a prop onstage.

The struggle with dodging the whole incident -- secret society this, mandatory induction that -- was rooted in the fact that its members were rather good actors, more or less spies, moving fluidly through all ranks of society, only recognized by almost imperceptible cues. The undead had an infinite supply of free time, and a general lack of care for the opinions of others -- thus they moved with greater confidence, greater grace; the je ne sais quois of magic seemed to reanimate their features in more aesthetically pleasing ways; they had truly awful senses of humor.

It wasn't his fault, he argued, that he ended up the way he did. So how was it that he was obligated to be a member of this unpleasant fraternity? He'd already been a conscript once. Must he do it again?

Parties are good hiding places, as well as the equivalent of good restaurants: like restaurants, one must dress appropriately to be admitted. That acquiring the proper uniform for fine dining necessitated additional killing and robbery troubled William very little, as the business of soldiering had schooled him well in cowardice: that is, kill or be killed, and ideally, kill first, fastest, and with the least amount of questions. He had heard about the party, heard who was going, and found his way into the home of once such attendee. Now he is here, under false pretenses, drinking and making conversation on topics he knows very little about, garbed in his stolen breeches and boots and wide-brimmed hat, looking hither and thither just in case he has been followed.

The whole running off business had been fairly strenuous, but William suspected the Order wasn't the sort to give up easily.

What a shame it was, that he could not simply attend parties like this forever! Liberated of humanity's greatest fear -- and thus liberated of fears of poverty, starvation, and cold -- he remembers being human as much more fun, much more charming, than the brooding, smirking members of the Order. And only members of the Order can go on amidst humanity. Vampires answer to no mortal kings, but to supernatural ones. And what king lets his subjects do exactly as they please, where and when it pleases them?

Ah, yes. Dying. Living. Trouble everywhere, whether more or less believable.

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Lar
 Posted: Feb 22 2016, 02:40 AM
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Anatole's father is a broad man of the sort to hunch in his study, the cabinets of curiosities looming over him—here, the tokens of alchemy; there, the bones of some animal, scrubbed clean and held in place with wires. Anatole himself feels like them—looks like them, skeletal as he is, with dark thumbprints beneath each pale green eye. He is kept.

"I am well now," he says over the glossed wood of his father's desk. "I have never been so well." Nor so tired of being confined, like the dead butterflies pinned beneath glass, resplendent trophies.

"Enough," his father answers, in low brassy tones. "You have plenty to do."

"There is more than—" Anatole begins, but cuts himself short when his father raises a strong hand to silence him.

Anatole slinks out of the study like a kicked dog.

-

The long night ends here, in some parlor of delicate glamour. The windows peer archly, the sky beyond them filled with stars. Down the road, the old orphanage is settling in to sleep; here at the manor, the night has just begun. Anatole tires of it already. The grand fireplace rages on the outskirts, surrounded by mirrors. He watches the flames leap and thinks to himself, rubbing the bubbling skin on his palm.

Before long there is someone else at his elbow—a taller young man of about his age, in the dawn of his twenties and aglow with health. He has the type of face that makes the young debutantes flutter over him, and the reputation to support his good luck. There are rumors, even, that he is the heir; that fragile Anatole is destined for less than his allotted share. It would be a scandal if not for Andrew's charisma, his good looks, his loyalty and devotion. Admirable, they say—Anatole hears the whispers behind gloved hands and spread fans. And yet Andrew comes to him with brotherly concern and smooths his hair there by the fire, presses cool lips to Anatole's forehead before slipping away into the crowd of richly-dressed partygoers.

Anatole could outshine any of them, in jewel-blue brocade to bring life to his skin. The onyx of his hair falls in thick curls from beneath his feathered hat. Even the ruff about his neck is edged in fine lace, lovingly tatted by some experienced hand. There is no absence of money in his family, and no small part of it goes to charitable pursuits. What's left fills the study and clothes the household, so that even the servants pouring champagne from green glass bottles are sufficiently clothed to accent the parlor. For a boy who has grown up in his fancy suits, paraded about whenever possible, there is no charm left in it.

Even when he takes his own glass of champagne and presses it to wan lips, Anatole finds the taste bitter.

Every face is familiar, or has been described to him in excruciating detail: this is Beatrice LeFleur, or Martinella Farnese, or Stella Agnolo, and she donated howevermany florins to the orphanage, and isn't that nice? And Anatole is expected to fawn and charm! Instead he sulks, and the people look to Andrew for their accolades.

Anatole lingers by the fire until the heat soaks him through, and then moves away. It's by chance that he passes by William—and then turns, peering curiously at an unfamiliar face.

"Have we met?" he asks then, offering a slim hand to shake.
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XANDER
 Posted: Mar 8 2016, 01:21 AM
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Vampirism inoculates its victims against many infections of the conscience, primarily guilt over deception. The first and central falsehood is often implied - 'I am alive, just as you are!' This is the central fruit-bearing tree in a garden of lies; its branches are wide and heavy. At this party, William offers his apples left and right: tasty, fresh morsels such as 'I am the second cousin of the Countess Camellia, I have been studying in Florence for several years', or 'The Marquis Trelawne and I knew one another in childhood, and it is so good to see him here tonight.'

When he was alive, William was a decent enough liar, but now he is almost excellent. He smiles with such warmth when he lies, and speaks with such great confidence, his voice melodic and deep, that the reality of the listeners is called to the stand and accused. Are you sure the Countess has no second cousins? Did you grow up with the Marquis, and never saw the likes of this man in your life? Naturally, fakery of this degree cannot be maintained much longer than a party; should his listeners gossip, he will be revealed for a con all too soon.

The night will wane, and someone will seek to wander the grounds or the gardens on their lonesome, or twosome. William only needs to be believed for that long.

A good liar fears nothing quite so much as another liar, as one wolf's keen nose recognizes the scent of kin. A young man passes him, stops, and turns. The curiosity in his face is a bell of alarm, ringing distantly in William's head. Obstinate against any morbid premonitions, he takes the slim hand in his slightly larger one. William's skin is lukewarm; his dinner was short and small.

"I do not believe I have had the pleasure of making your personal acquaintance." In this case, he is honest. Something about this young man's eyes troubles William. Why would anyone be so gloomy at so pleasant a party? "I am Guillaume Villeneuve." William thinks himself quite funny.
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