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It was so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before. — Hernando Cortes {}{}{} “Hurry!” The busy streets of the city of Gourde are twofold hectic in this fateful day: the visit of Mariana’s new vampire king. As a nation generally ruled by a family of forest nymphs, they want the perfect venue to accommodate the king during his visit for diplomatic purposes. As such, Gourde, the city dubbed as ‘Capri’s Flower Capital’, is the best choice. In an auspicious day, people set aside their status and did the best that they can to contribute in adding festive decorations for the sake of a good feedback from the promising shield against biggest nations. However, one remained the same as usual. I’m hungry. Sitting by an apple candy stall, the shade from the roof and the cold wall behind her back keeps her away from losing consciousness amidst the heat, hunger, and mixed noises from both the living and the not. I want food. With her legs folded, her frails hands hugged her knees while keeping her head low. As people pass by like a blur, she kept her silence and prayed that none should see her mere stay as a disturbance. Because in moments that require large motions, even alleys are used as storage room or bigger space for trash bins. When a neatly wrapped apple candy rolled by her side, her eyes darted from the tempting food into the owner of the stall. “If I’ll tell you to go away, you’ll just beg to stay. So at least eat and look a little more decent.” A middle-aged woman said, a frown is on her face as she sat on her old chair, not even bothering to woo customers into trying her handmade delicacy. Smiling faintly at the subtle concern, she slowly let go of her knees to accept the favor she is being shown. But before she could even reach for it, loud stomping of a laughing kid went past her and took it before running away. “Hey!” angrily, the middle-aged woman stood up with a fist up, glaring at the kid who only stick his tongue out before running further. “It’s just three coppers and that boy decided to steal!” hissing, she crossed her arms and looked down on Anastasia whose hand is frozen midair, and her eyes are staring at the place where the candy should be. “If you took it quicker, then maybe that child wouldn’t have stolen it.” She said, but she paid no mind and only lowered her hand. Taking a deep breath, the middle-aged woman slumped back to her seat. With a groan, she focused her annoyed eyes on the crowd. “But then again, you don’t know how to defend yourself. That young’un will only pull it away from you and you will sit still like a- ” Hearing the sound of her cape, she looked at Anastasia who stood up. “Where are you going?” despite the stern tone, the middle-aged woman is the sole person this day who showed a little attention to her. Saying nothing, she only bowed to show her sincerest appreciation to the seen care. “I wish you well in your apple candies, Missus Fraire.” In a sweet, whispering voice, she bid her goodbye and turn around to disappear by the sidelines. “M-my word…” For the first time, she heard her voice. The rumors are not true at all. Realizing that her voice is not as raspy as a witch’s evil cackle, and her presence is not as pessimistic as a mourning widow, she found herself rather guilty. “She knows my name, too.” watching her appear like a shadow slowly retreating, her heart ached for the poor woman. She is kind. Anastasia quietly walked past the crowd without touching any of their clothing nor skin. She must be one of the few who still have a piece of conscience left. Bitterly thinking of how she was the sanest she ever encountered this week; she stopped walking upon a strong scent that makes her feel nauseous. Covering her nose and mouth, she rushed away from the scene. She grew up with a keen sense of smell—and whenever she is at the peak of falling unconscious, scents of earthy smell, blo*d, and/or raw sea food makes her stomach churn. And at this moment, a truck unloading freshly plucked vines and flowers is on the other side of the road to decorate it on posts. I have to get away. Alarmed, she held her stomach and covered her lower face before scurrying through the swarm of people. But with how busy the streets are, her luck in not bumping to anyone soon ran out. Falling on the ground, the impact of hitting a man caused for her to feel more nauseous than before. “Watch it, lad!” the town’s notorious butcher scorned. Struggling to get up, she staggered but still managed to bow in apology before walking away. I have to get away. Prioritizing her escape, she stick close to the walls and held onto it for support. All the alleys are occupied, where should I go? In her slightly fuzzy mind, she tried her best to stay awake and find the best route for her to refrain from interacting with others during such a festive day. I could’ve stayed back with Missus Fraire, but because she offered me food, people will start to come there but not to but from her. The more that she is exposed to the noisy streets and overwhelming scent of floral and earth, she is stuck between holding her breath to not suck it in, and breathe heavily to stabilize her stomach. And before she knew it, her eyes and body gave up before her. *** (at the same time) “Formalities are atrocious.” Walking around in a white cape, the supposedly grandly welcomed king, Vesper Alistair, blends in with the crowd using a little bit of magic. Dying his hair into white, changing his eye color into blue, and adding a mole under his right eye, he looked around the buzzing streets with a pair of bored orbs. I’ve signed the contract with King Orpheus already. I reckoned to return to Mariana today, yet Capri’s royal board refused. I very much have the power to refuse their refusal, but to build up a connection through political means, establishing the perception of consideration and appreciation is a good strategy. Despite understanding that his reason is backed logically, he still cannot brush away his lack of interest about exhaustive events is taking a toll on him. Stopping in his tracks when he heard the sound of drums, he stared at the direction where it came from. “The king’s parade will commence within an hour! Make haste!” using the forest nymph’s ability to communicate through any plants, the voice of the announcer is heard through the flowers positions as speakers on every post. “An hour.” Shrugging, he continued walking. “No one bought hare meat today and I’ve met with such a disgrace!” as he walked, he heard the loud voice of a man who is complaining while brushing the dust off his clothes. But in the moment, he passed by him, there is a unique scent along his grubby and raw meat scent—it was faint, but it smells unlike any other red wine. ‘You, your highness, smells like the most exquisite liquor.’ Turning to reach the man and hold him by his shoulder, he questioned him in a rather restless manner. “Who was the last time you were close to?” he asked, his eyes bore authority in front of the man who was scowling, but soon looked at him with a relaxed expression. “I’m a busy man, boy. I’ve been with no one since dawn.” He said, then tried to pull his hand away. However, with Vesper’s inborn strength, a simple act from a human butcher will never affect him. Feeling threatened by it, the man cleared his throat and racked his brain in hopes of finding a potential response to lead him free. “I’ve never been with anyone, but the closest I’ve been with is bumping with that scum. Tsk. How unlucky.” Saying that, he feigned annoyance of the scum, even when it is totally aimed at the stranger who held him back. Scum? Just the mere hearing of that word oddly irritates him. “Who is it that you’re speaking of?” holding him tighter, the butcher looked at his shoulder with fear due to the sudden infliction of pain. “A-Anastasia. She was by the coffee shop on the alley over there.” He said, pointing his thumb behind him. Saying not words of gratitude, Vesper looked at him sharply before turning around to go to the said direction. Anastasia, huh? Vampires are born with the sharpest sense of smell amongst every race, they can identify which scent is which—including which scent is from a person. While rushing past the crowd, he saw a figure lying down the streets, yet none bat an eye nor went to aid. Upon realizing that the scent is leading towards it, he continued with his eyes glued on it. There are other scents mixing up in the air, but as he went closer, the scent of the wine, and a faint hint of a scent he cannot thoroughly recognized is hovering around the lying person. What does that mean? Filled with questions, he looked around to see if someone will approach them; upon seeing no one, he crouched down. “Anastasia?” calling the name he was told before, he observed the back of the caped woman who isn’t moving an inch from the ground. The first thing he noticed is her skin. Is she a vampire? No. Shaking that thought off, he reached out to her hood and pulled it away from her. Her skin is not pale enough as ours. Upon laying her hair bare, he saw her locks as dark as the moonless night—and for humans, a tale passed down from generations that only witches have locks as terrifying as hers. Witch? Not believing a folktale from another kind, he moved a few locks away from her face. She was lying down with the side of her face resting on her arm forward. Seeing her face, he squinted his eyes. Despite the dirt covering her, the scent of her as a person reign over the hesitancy to touch someone much below him. “Hey.” Tapping her face, he tried to wake her up in hopes of knowing a little more before helping her. For Anastasia who lost consciousness, the darkness that surrounds her were somewhat shaken up by a presence that made her heart beat like a thunder blasted off the roofs. Gasping, her eyes opened as she breathed heavily—she doesn’t feel nauseous, however, it feels like she is being crushed by an invisible weight. Her vision is still blurry, but with her remaining strength, she moved to the direction where she first felt a touch of comfort, yet it gives her chills. She cannot see well to see whether the man is a human or not, but with how he is the only person who stopped for her, she uttered the words of desperation. “Help me…please.” As soon as she spoke, the feeling of the weight crushing down overwhelmed her completely, rendering her unconscious once again. Golde—no. Yellow? Staring at the woman who plead for her life, he felt the rush of confusion and amusement upon the sight of an eye color that he had never seen before. It was too dull to be gold like werewolves, but it was too bright to be yellow like pixies. “A hybrid?” No. No hybrid child has altered traits—they can encompass different traits, but never a modified one. “Aramis.” Calling the name of his shadow guard, Aramis, the captain of the Crimson Bacque Knightage of the royal family, a man in all black appeared out of nowhere behind him. “Bring her to my room. I will return with this woman.” He said as he stood up, not even turning to look at him as he spoke. Not questioning the intentions or orders of his sworn master, Aramis only nodded and lifted Anastasia up. Vesper watched as he evaporated with the lady in her arms. Herr pale skin and yellow eyes…just what kind of creature is she? Wanting to know more, he roamed his eyes around—with how everyone minded their own business, it simply means that the woman he just met meant nothing for them. “A scum…” No lowlife can be this intriguing. In deep thought, he tried to recall if he learned about a kind where they are nearly as pale as vampires or has eyes nearly as gold as werewolves—but no matter how much he struggled, nothing came through. “Help me…please.” Her voice is a little hoarse, but the touches of femineity remain, and with the way her eyes reflected her wavering flames of life, he felt as if he was compelled to do something about it. Just how…Taking a deep breath, he walked towards the nearest alley and disappeared without making a noise. Appearing directly in front of the Capri’s King who is having a meal with his wife, he swiftly changed his appearance into his real identity—wearing clothes in the finest fabric, his cape is lined with the rarest gems, and his crown on top of his brown hair is fitting him like a jewel made just for him. “Is there something wrong, your highness?” leaving their meals to stand up and greet him, Vesper stopped in front of the table and looked at the king. “I want to add another condition to the peace treaty.”
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