London's "Jack" the Ripper

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:09 pm

London was fairly rank, actually. Thank God they had found a building upwind of the Thames and the factory part of the city or Naitachel feared for Soraya's lungs. The vampires and he might survive and heal from the smoke, but she was another matter. It was the more affluent part of the city, but close quarters, though only for a time until they decided where to settle again. A reasonable home, it butted against two others and had a courtyard in the center, suits ringing around and stables below with servants' quarters. All windows were covered with heavy drapes to block the sun, but the weather was overcast much of late anyway, making night seem to come early. In some ways it wasn't so bad.

Naitachel stood on the top of the steps to the courtyard below, and took a moment to stretch his wings in the cooler evening air. He groaned happily. "Heavens, but I was becoming a bit cramped in long coats all day," he sighed blissfully, flicking his tail.

Soraya looked up from her book and blinked, as though registering for the first time that it was night and she could hardly read the words anymore. "When did it get so late?" she asked the seraph, genuinely surprised, then recovered, "Oh, well, at least now you get to stretch some without prying eyes." She smiled crookedly.

Naitachel peeked back inside, chuckling. "Yes, and without frightening folk into thinking nightmares are real. The atmosphere here is not conducive to calming imaginations, I suspect. One glimpse of wings, and they seem to think the world is ending."

Radu escorted Mircea out, thinking the cool night air might do him good.

"I hunger," Mircea growled, sniffing the night air. "Release me to hunt!"

"I am not so sure it is the atmosphere so much as the mentality of society nowadays," Soraya answered the seraph, setting her book aside and standing. "Mircea, you cannot hunt here. You might bring the whole of London down on our heads. You know that," she said gently.

Naitachel looked Mircea's way and called gently, voice carrying, "Gently, Mircea, gently, please. I think we might have one of our young friends around tonight. Faran is around on a mission somewhere."

"I am hungered!" Mircea growled louder. "LET... ME... FEED..." He gave Radu a great shove and darted toward the garden wall.

Soraya yelped in surprised and was forced to dodge out of the way. She knew there was no way she would ever be able to stop the vampire, given his vastly superior strength and speed. <We may need your help,> she sent to Vlad and his siblings, not knowing how many of them it would take to subdue him this time.

Radu stumbled backward, almost falling. Vlad hurried out of the house with Min on his heels, moving to flank Mircea as Radu caught him from behind and pulled him back to their side of the wall. "You will feed, brother, but not here. Not like this," he assured him gently.

Michael and Tommen appeared as well, the elder helping steady Soraya on her feet. Concern was obvious in the glance the two exchanged. How long would this particular relapse take?

"Thank you," Soraya told her eldest, silently cursing the excess fabric dresses boasted these days and the lack of coordination and agility that entailed with them. <Is a volunteer even safe when he is like this?> Soraya asked Radu and Naitachel, already knowing the answer.

<No,> Radu admitted, mentally sighing. <They are not.>

<Will you disappoint and frighten the young one when he comes here after his mission?> Naitachel tried reasoning with Mircea. <Regain control, and feed softly, quietly... so he shan't be upset when he sees you. You are his big strong uncle, after all, his protector, yes?> Privately, to Soraya and Radu, he added, <Perhaps an animal, then, tonight?>

Radu nodded. He'd already sent for one. "Brother, you must calm. Please."

Mircea shot him a glance that suggested what he might try to do with his 'calm' and repeated yet again, "I hunger."

Soraya unconsciously stepped further back into the protecting curtain the rest of the vampire family provided. It wasn't that she feared Mircea when he was himself, but there were times that she wasn't sure he recognized who she was beyond the fact that she was flesh and blood... and prey.

Last edited by Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:20 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:12 pm

In the distance, a familiar mental voice suddenly cried out. <Help! Oh, please help! Uncle Nait!!!> One of the seraph kids.

Naitachel straightened, and turned towards the direction the mental cry came from. <Faran?!>

Mircea halted, hearing the familiar voice of the child in need. <Where are you?> he demanded.

The sudden call for help made Soraya stiffen and glance at Vlad. "Oh no," she breathed in a panic. <What is happening?> she asked on the heels of Mircea's question.

Radu was already moving, zeroing in on that call, knowing better than to waste time when there was a child involved.

<Help!!! Help!!! Uncle Mircea! Someone, please!> He was beyond giving an answer, preoccupied by whatever crisis he was involved in. The mission, no doubt, had gone bad. His mental voice was overlaid with pain, physical pain and not just the anguish for another creature's injury.

Naitachel followed Radu's example, leaping into the air and getting up on the roofs, so he could take that route in similar pursuit. <Someone is hurting him!> Nait explained to Soraya shortly as he bounded across rooftops.

Mircea, hearing his name, moved as swiftly as a vampire could, determined to find his nephew and see him safe.

Not for the first time, Soraya felt the frustration of being a, "mere human," in the presence of supernatural beings that had all the skills that came with it. Not to mention that she had the more restrictive clothing to go with her gender. She gathered up her skirts and made for the door that led from their garden to the alley, determined not to be left behind this time.

The call came from a darker side of London, alleys that twisted and turned so that even vampires had to slow down a bit lest they run into walls.

Min and Vlad were on his heels, Matty being unwilling to leave Soraya behind. "Come on," he urged his sister in law. "This way."

"I am coming as fast as I can," the redhead answered Matty apologetically as she wound her way down the alley.

"It's alright," Matty nodded, keeping pace with her.

Tom and Michael followed after their father and uncles solemnly, hoping they were fast enough.

<Help us! Please!!> Faran kept calling. Any drawing close to the location found themselves dodging vagrants and sewage, ducking under dirty laundry and through lean-tos that were homes for some of the underprivileged. Finally, it came from a run-down building, cries echoing sharply from within the crumbling and patched walls and roof.

<Go around to the other end of the alleyway,> Mircea told Radu. <I'll take this end. They've more than one trapped!>

Radu did as his brother suggested without question. For all their understanding of Mircea's madness, there was never a question about his protective instinct. The children came first. Always. Tommen and Michael jumped to the top of the nearest buildings to perch in positions where they could observe and catch any who tried to escape or enter to help if necessary. Naitachel had to pause and peer down now and then, struggling to find a way through this tangle and maze to his fellow Seraph.

"Ye ain' gonna thieve from me, Mik! An' yer freak friend ain' gonna stop me from givin' ya a wuppin', too! Yer gonna be workin at that damn mill tomorrow, got it?! An you, ya freak--yer for tha circus t'morrow! Damn thievin rats--we take ya in, an this is how you repay us, eh? Not earnin like good chiller' should?!" someone's roar echoed out of the building followed by Faran's shrill cry of pain. "I'll teach ya first, freak!"

Mircea entered the building soundlessly, his hand catching the stick before it could fall again. "I think not," he growled before snapping the wrist backwards until it gave a loud CRACK!

"Please ma'am, don--!" a little boy in the corner began, only to be snarled at by a large lady. She glanced towards the boy and away from the injured Seraph she was about to strike again with her stick, only for Mircea to sweep in and break her wrist. She cried out in anger and pain.

Mircea's other hand pushed into the woman's abdomen and withdrew, holding her liver aloft. He stole the dagger from her hip, using it to slash the second woman's throat before reaching in and pulling out her heart.

A second and third and fourth woman took one look at Mircea, eyes wide. The attacker and a trio of others had been just standing by, and all wore the striped clothes suggesting they were "ladies of the night". This was a minor house of prostitution. The third woman shrieked and flung a metal pot at Mircea, and the rest turned to run.

Faran sobbed, flopping on the ground, one wing dragging and angled badly, likely broken. "Uncle--Uncle Mircea?" he whimpered. The boy Faran had been trying to protect shrieked and cowered in the corner, terrified by Mircea's attack.

Mircea halted in his pursuit of the others when he heard Faran's voice.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:19 pm

Naitachel set down on the shabby roof and tested it.

Soraya for one was using rather colorful language under her breath as she rounded the next corner. She was starting to feel the strain of running and found herself becoming out of breath. She hated to suggest this, but she saw little in terms of options, lest they end up simply wandering the London streets in the darkness and missing the entire situation. "Perhaps... a piggy-back ride would be in order?"

Matty nodded, grateful she'd come to that conclusion on her own. He knew how much she hated it when they suggested it.
With a sigh, Soraya resigned herself to her fate and climbed onto Matty's back as comfortably as she could. "Sorry," she told him, feeling rather huge compared to him given that she was used to someone Vlad's size next to her. Hopefully this would be short.


Radu made his way through the front of the building, arriving a few moments later, having found the others near the front, only to find Mircea having shoved the metal pot handle first through the first woman's chest.

Naitachel leapt up--and slammed down on the roof full-force, making it give way.  He dropped to the floor near Faran amid a tumble of debris. "There you are! Faran, are you... ah, Heavens, no..."

A couple last prostitutes fled past Radu, screaming about bloody murder. Not many in the alleyways took much notice, except to flee the area themselves.

Radu sighed, shaking his head, as the two women ran past him. "Let us vacate quickly. The constables approach."

Michael and Tommen saw the movement below and poised themselves to pounce before they realized who it was that was fleeing - prostitutes? What on earth was going on? Whatever it was, it seemed whatever rampage Mircea had gone into had been enough to cause them to flee. That should be punishment enough.

The young angel flopped a bit as he struggled to get up, and Naitachel bent to assist him, hugging the fledgling against his side. "I'm so sorry," Faran whimpered. "But she started to use a stick, and I couldn't get Mik away." <I'm sorry, Uncle Radu, Uncle Mircea... Auntie Sor...> he sobbed mentally. <I was supposed to protect Mik.>

"Nonsense, Faran. You've no need to apologize. You've done nothing wrong." Radu moved to brush back Faran's hair gently. "Nait, take him home. Min, bring the younger and follow him. Vlad, you and the others gather any more you might find. Let us see them tended properly." He moved to take his brother's side, trying to ignore the scent of blood and the sight of him feeding from the still beating heart he held in his hand. "Come, brother. We must away."

Mik was a small boy, maybe six years old and thin for his age and size, curled in the corner of the room and crying hysterically. He likely came from simple stock or was a child of one of the fleeing prostitutes themselves. However, his life was harsh and not much love, if any, was given to unwanted children.  They were wanted for usefulness and little else in some cases. Yet Mik retained an unusual kindness and purity about him despite his harsh beginning. Perhaps that was why an angel was sent to protect him. The woman without a liver groaned, dying before them in a heap on the ground, the pot handle in her side. From the looks of things, she must have been the eldest and head of this band of prostitutes.

Radu glanced down at the dying woman, considering for a moment leaving her to suffer as she would have done the children. After a moment, he reached out and snapped her neck, ending her suffering in what he supposed to be a sympathetic gesture. No matter how vile a person might be, needless suffering was still unnecessarily cruel.

Mik cringed away from Min with terror in his eyes. "Mommy!" he screamed.

Min knelt so he was eye to eye with the tiny boy. "Where is your mommy?" he asked him.

Faran glanced at Radu with scarlet tears in his eyes and nodded, hugging tightly to Nait's side. The elder Seraph scooped him up, injured wing and all, and held him snugly, nearly hiding his body in the long sleeves of his coat yet unable to hide that injured trailing wing.

Mik clawed at the wood behind him like a wild animal, desperate to get away from Min. "Mommy!" he shrilled, ignoring the question. Vlad and the others found two young girls in the back, also trying to hide... and terrified of men.

The sight within nearly made Soraya's dinner make a return trip. She had stepped into the main room, determined to be of help, though of course, her assistance wasn't needed as it seemed the situation had been... handled. By Mircea, likely, given the state of things. "Oh my," she managed, trying to avert her eyes.

Matty followed close behind her and paused. "That about sums it up," he agreed with her.

Mik's eyes lit at the glimpse of Soraya's red hair, and he glanced back at Min with a desperate fear. The two girls found by Vlad glanced also her way--and one took that moment of distraction to grab a broken stick and brandish it in defense of them both. Neither girl said a word, though both were obviously scared.

"It is all right," Naitachel half-sang, trying to soothe the tensions in the room. "It is over now."

Faran whimpered and held on tight, though. <My wing hurts a lot.>

It took a few moments for Soraya to register that there were children here, amongst this carnage, obviously frightened. She approached the one nearest Min, setting a gentle hand upon her brother-in-law's arm to alert him to her presence, as she bent to Mik. Using a corner of her dress (at least it could be good for something all this fabric), she wiped at his face to remove some of the dirt. "Are you hurt?" she asked him quietly.

Min moved back a bit, allowing Soraya to get closer. Despite the fact that their tormentors appeared to have been all female, it was still likely she'd be less frightening to them than he and his kind were.

Mik backed against the wooden wall behind him again, but his eyes were a little less scared with Soraya wiping at his face. "I... I'm a big boy... I'm okay," he told her, voice shaky. "You... You aren't like... Ma'am, right? You're like Mommy?"

Whistles blew down the street.

"We have to go," Radu urged. "Now."

The redhead glanced at Radu briefly with sorrow. <What these children must have seen...> she sent them sadly, before answering aloud, "Yes, I am like Mommy." She assured the boy, sensing that was a good thing and not a bad one. "And I need you and your friends to listen to me. We have to get out of here now. Will you trust me enough to come with me?"

Vlad's brow furrowed as he noted the young girl prepared to impale him with the stick. Shaking his head, he snatched it out of her hand and tossed it aside.  "Time to go," he agreed with his uncle, tossing one squirming girl across each shoulder and dashing out.

Naitachel nodded to Radu, and bounded out after Vlad with Faran.

<Gently, Vlad,> Soraya chided her husband lightly. <They are already frightened enough.>

The two girls kicked and struggled, and though one screamed--the other didn't make a single sound.  Mik glanced towards the two girls scooped up by Vlad, winced, and nodded to Soraya. "Um... Okay... Beats being caught by the toppers."

"If you'll let her hold you, I'll piggy back you both super-fast to a nice place with lots of food and nobody like Ma'am," Matty offered the boy.

Soraya tried to hide her relief. "Good," she smiled gently. "This is my brother, Matty. He will give you a piggy back ride. Just hold on tight."

Mik glanced at Matty uneasily, then Soraya again, and nodded. "Okay." But this time his voice had more conviction, more trust.
Soraya held her hand out to Mik and moved to Matty's side. "Quickly," she urged, hearing the whistles getting uncomfortably close.
Mik took Soraya's hand and smiled.

Taking the smile as a sign of trust, Soraya took up the boy in her arms and settled on Matty's back. <Perhaps we should hurry,> she suggested.

Matty loaded them up. "Hold on tight," he admonished. In a breath they were in the parlor of their home.

Min and Radu flanked Mircea, escorting him back swiftly and silently through the streets.  Naitachel glanced towards the whistles and then up. "We will meet you at home," he told the others. He couldn't hide Faran's injured wing entirely, after all. With a leap, he took to the rooftops again.

No whistles followed them home.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:37 pm

Once at home, Soraya released Matty, as well as Mik, glad to be safely in their own home. "Here we are," she smiled at the child again, gesturing to the servants to bring food and drink. "That is much better. Welcome!" She hoped that if she could at least have Mik trusting her, perhaps the girls would follow.

Naitachel landed and brought Faran in, too, immediately starting with helping the younger angel out of his now-soiled white robes to access that injured wing. Faran whimpered as he had to move it to undress, but Nait kept a hand in contact almost the whole time to help ease his pain. "You will need my own bed, tonight, Faran," Nait murmured quietly. "You need to heal."

Mik carefully held on tight to Soraya's hand, not seeming to want to let that go even once they were set down. "You're... posh folk," he observed uneasily of their surroundings.

"We do well enough," Matty answered evasively, though the truth was clearly more than that. "I'll have food brought in. Whatever you like. Just tell Cara when she comes, alright?"

Soraya laughed and allowed Mik to hold her hand as long as he needed to. "Posh?" she asked, looking around. "Yes, I suppose so. I suppose that means we have plenty of room for someone like you and your friends to stay with us for some time until you get back on your feet," she broached. "What are the girls' names?" she asked Mik, glancing at Vlad as he carted them in.

Mik glanced up at Matty, and then at the ground. "What do I gotta do for it?" he asked reluctantly. "I mean, nothing's free. Ma'am--she said I gotta go work at the factory... but they were hurting people, and I was next for that loom!" The little boy glanced over at the two girls as Vlad brought them in--still struggling, of course. "Jane and May... May can't talk, though."

"You've got to eat it if she brings it and not waste it," Matty answered. "After all, wasting what's brought would be wrong, don't you think?"

"Do for it?" Soraya asked with a sigh. "Well, I do have one condition," she said, glancing at the girls as well to include them in this, "You have to grow big and strong and allow us to help. And as Matty said, not waste the food we bring you."

Jane pulled May behind her as soon as their feet hit the ground, and glared at Vlad. "We ain' selling nothin'!" she snapped determinedly. "We ain' whores!"

Vlad set them down and stepped back. "Nobody's asking you to," he assured them quietly. "Not now. Not ever."

"No, you are not, and I assure you that this husband of mine would never have even thought as much of you," she told the girls, then acknowledged, "May... Jane. My name is Soraya. Welcome."

Mik nodded at Matty and Soraya, and smiled hopefully. "Just no wasting? That's all?" He paused, frowning as he thought it over. "This ain't Heaven, is it? I mean... angels and food and stuff."

Matty laughed, though his eyes seemed sad as he answered, "No. This isn't heaven." He stepped out before he dare say anything else.

Jane still gave Vlad a suspicious look, but she listened to Soraya cautiously. Behind her, May bobbed a bit in greeting, though Jane was clearly hesitant to do the same. "So, you're not takin' us to be working in the shops, are you?" Jane added, still not trusting fully. "Too good to be true--ain'."

Mik watched Matty go, now more curious than suspicious, and shrugged. "Well, close enough'll do."

Soraya looked over as Cara brought in a cart full of food. "Over by the table, if you would," Soraya suggested, and tugged gently on Mik's hand in that direction. "No, no shops to work, and this is not heaven. We are merely caring sort of 'toffs,' who despise the kind of exploitation that was being done to you and would do all we can to set it right," the redhead explained. "Would you care for some food?"

"Exactly," Vlad agreed. "No shops. School, perhaps. We'll have a tutor come in for you lot. Reading and writing and numbers and such."

"Ohhh... like Church-folk," Jane guessed, straightening finally--and offering a similar bob to May's earlier one. "Sorry. Just can' trust nobody most the time. Um... yeah, food'll be nice." All three kids eyed the food cart eagerly.

Mik made a bit of a face. "Reading and writing?" Yeah, not his best topics.

"Go on," Soraya urged all three, "Help yourselves. And remember," she winked at Mik, "no wasting." At that, she finally let his hand go and gave him a gentle nudge toward the food. <It will take some time to truly win them over,> she shared with Vlad sadly.

Vlad laughed as the boy pulled a face. "Don't worry. It gets easier."

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:44 pm

Min helped Radu get Mircea locked in, noting his faraway expression and lack of argument. Somehow, those disturbed him more than anything else that evening.

Naitachel glanced up from helping Faran bind his broken wing against his back, using strips of cloth. <Likely. Faran has been filling me in. The two girls were to be taught to sell themselves, whether they wished so or not. And the boy was taken from the street just to help earn those people drink-money.>

Radu hurried once his brother was settled to check on Faran, with a brief stop-over at a wash basin to remove the blood from his hands first. "How is he?" he asked his mate, looking over at the younger seraph.

Faran's fair skin was covered with ugly, nasty bruises, possibly a few cracked bones beneath and some internal injuries. The one wing was bound closed against his back by Naitachel's efforts to set it. Faran himself looked exhausted, weak, and in a good bit of pain. "I'll be okay," the seraph-boy answered shyly, brushing lengthening dark-silver hair from his eyes. "I... can't go home, though. Is it okay if I use Uncle Nait's bed to heal?"

The three kids from the prostitution house dug into the food with little further encouragement. It began to vanish with the speed of meat before ravenous wolves.

Min followed in behind them, taking a moment to wash away the blood on his own hands as well. He quickly set out juice for each of them. "Careful, wash it down," he admonished them. "No use choking on it." He looked over at the others, then sighed, placing the juice pitcher in the middle of the table.

<His mother...?> Soraya asked Naitachel with little hope that she could reunite him with the woman he so clearly loved. Soraya leaned gently against Vlad, suddenly exhausted by these events, emotionally so more than physically. <I wish we could do this for all of them,> she shared.

Jane gave Min a wary look for a second, then looked over at Radu and the rest, then smiled quickly and nodded to him. "Thank ya sir."

Nait gave Radu a wry look. <He cannot spread his wings, so he cannot cross planes at this time,> he told the family. He added quietly for Soraya, <Mik's mother is dead. Seems when Faran met him, he was not so surprised, as she said angels would come for him. I suspect she knew he might end up dying on the streets, but had no means even to save herself. He ended up with these women because his mother was one such herself so he trusted them when they said they would house him.>

"You are welcomed to use whatever you need, Faran, as always," Radu answered him gently. "Our home is yours."

The redhead nodded and tried to hide the tears that welled in her eyes by turning her head toward Vlad while they cleared. <Well, at least he is safe now, as the girls are. Even if we cannot reach them all, we have reached them. And Faran is safe.>

<It is something,> Nait agreed with Soraya sadly. "Now, off to bed with you, Faran," Nait suggested. "You can thank your uncles when you wake."

Faran gave them all a pained but happy smile, and after giving a quick succession of hugs all around, bounded off. The other three children had cleaned the table down to the crumbs, and looked exhausted, too.

"Come on, then," Min suggested. "Let's get baths drawn and rooms set for each of you so you can sleep."

"Perhaps May and Jane would prefer to share a room?" Soraya suggested once she had finally composed herself. "I will make sure that the maids leave you washbasins and clean bed clothes as well as clean dresses for tomorrow, as well," she then added. She mentally made a note to do the same for herself. Trudging through the alleyways had left her rather disheveled.

Jane shot Soraya a grateful look. "That'd be nice, Missus." May smiled behind her.

Min nodded. "I'll have them draw baths for now. We can get them dressing gowns and turn down beds while they clean up. They can have basins in the morning so they can freshen up," Min concluded.

"Can... can I stay with you?" Mik asked Soraya uneasily. "Just--like have a corner in the same room?"

Soraya glanced at Vlad questioningly. It wasn't her room alone.

Vlad looked at the little boy and smiled. "There's a small sitting room off our room. We can set you in there, with the door open if that works for you. What do you think?" <He can have that room if he'll take it. If not, we'll bring the bed into our room for him,> Vlad told Soraya.

Jane nodded, and May clapped her hands happily, beaming at Min with tear-dampened eyes. Jane smiled a little again. "May's saying she's really grateful and thank ya."

Min nodded and bowed. "Of course, Miss May. I am honored to be service." He smiled before hurrying to see to everything for them.

The redhead smiled at her husband gratefully. "So long as you know this is a temporary arrangement," the redhead warned the child, ruffling his hair, "and that you will be moved to your own room soon enough, once you are more comfortable. And, of course, so long as you do not mind Vlad's snoring."

Mik considered a moment, then nodded. "Thanks... That--that'd be okay." He wasn't sure he wanted to be there if they... well... did what couples did at night.

Vlad smiled. "Then I'll go see it's made up for you," he told the boy, then hurried out after Min.

Soraya smiled after Vlad, then turned back to the new additions into their homes. "Well, if you will follow me, then, I shall show you the way to your rooms so that you can bathe and get some rest. Tomorrow I can show you the entirety of the house."

"As if they'll manage that in a single day," Cara snickered as she gathered up the dishes.

Jane hugged May, who hugged her "sister" back. The two had sworn to stay friends, and they could hardly believe their good fortune. "Maybe we'll end up waiting-maids, May," Jane whispered to her quietly. "That'll be good. Much nicer life. And we'll be serving good folk and holding our heads high, wearing nice clean petticoats while we serve tea and such."

Mik followed the two girls after Soraya, smiling softly to himself. Maybe this wasn't Heaven, but it was still close enough for him.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:25 am

Soraya tried not to laugh aloud, for fear of disturbing the quietude of the family gathered in the sitting room. Still it was hard to maintain her composure as she held a book with one hand and allowed her other to wander toward Vlad, honing in on his ribs with practiced accuracy before she unleashed tickles on him, then retreated to appear the innocent one.

Naitachel lounged on a daybed with cards in his hands, puzzling over how to set them out to continue his odd game. Seven piles, yet you had to put them in order and opposing colors. Faran was curled up on Nait's feet, snoozing like a cat, good wing wrapped around him like a protective blanket.

Vlad squirmed, laughing. "Sweetheart, please...." he protested yet again.

"What?" the redhead asked once more, feigning innocence, though in a room full of empaths and telepaths, the charade was obviously useless. Still, she was rather enjoying herself and couldn't quite give it up yet. "Are you quite well, Darling?"

Radu flipped the page of his book, seemingly lost in his own world, though he smiled softly at the antics of the others, showing he was, on some level, maintaining an awareness of each of them.

"Oh, of course, dearest. I'm fine." Vlad rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "Do go on with what you were doing."

Golden eyes glanced up and over at Soraya and Vlad, and Nait chuckled quietly from his corner.

Michael was out somewhere, with his newest venture (Cecily, if Soraya recalled correctly, a stunning brunette), and Tom sat in the corner, smiling and shaking his head while absorbed in his own book.

"Oh, I will," the redhead promised, turning the page to her book, though she glanced up at her husband and winked inconspicuously.
"What's that, Uncle Nait?" Tommen finally asked, noting the activity in which Naitachel was engaged.

"A card game for one, I was told," Naitachel murmured in reply, frowning at his cards. "Though why one should be capable of losing such a game is beyond me. There is nobody to lose to, yet here I am, unable to win."

"One can be one's own greatest opponent, or so I am told," Tommen laughed as he set his book aside. "Perhaps in this instance you can allow yourself to cheat? After all, no one is there to protest."

Naitachel shrugged slightly. "Cheating is not worth the effort. I may as well start over." Tossing the ones in his hands onto the cloth, he scooped the lot up and began shuffling them. "To tell the truth, perhaps a game with company might be better. Anyone for poker? I hear it is all the rage now. Though what to bet...?"

Michael, who had apparently forgotten something at home, whirred through the room at that moment, calling out over his shoulder, "I'd suggest strip poker, but... well, you're my family, and that wouldn't do." As quickly as that, he was gone again, leaving a startled Soraya, frozen mid-attack on Vlad, this time caught red-handed.

"Yes, some sights might be most inappropriate," Naitachel agreed. "On top of it, merely odd and uncomfortable."

Radu glanced up, his expression mildly reproachful, even as Vlad roared. "I agree, Michael, that wouldn't do at all. And Soraya, you are caught!"

Though the notion did strike a fancy. "We could wager secrets. Or rather, promise to answer questions posed by the others truthfully," she suggested mischievously, knowing none in the family would take that so far as to cross any line. Or so she hoped. "Caught what?" Soraya then asked innocently before giving in and tickling Vlad outright.

Vlad laughed helplessly and tickled her back.

"That would be an interesting one," Nait agreed with Soraya, amused. He gently nudged Faran with his tail, waking the younger one. "A bed would be better, Faran. Go on--you clearly need it."

Faran smiled sheepishly, rubbing his eyes, and giggled. "All right, Uncle Nait... G'night everyone." With that and a wave, he slid to his feet and bounded out... He wondered if Uncle Mircea was around where he could snuggle with him. He kind of wanted someone to snuggle with, still feeling a bit traumatized by what had happened.

Soraya yelped as Vlad counter-struck and found herself laughing almost to tears as she fell off the settee in an attempt to escape his longer arms. "No fair! I am shorter than you!" she complained, trying to catch her breath as she rose. "Now stop this mischief and come play cards instead," she chastised good-naturedly.

"Do you require assistance, Faran?" Radu asked, setting his book aside in anticipation of the answer.

"Good night, Faran," she called after him.

"No, I'm okay," Faran answered Radu. He didn't want to make Radu leave the fun. <Can I check on Uncle Mircea?>

<Yes you may.>
Naitachel reached out and drew the card table closer, and started tossing cards into piles for Vlad, Soraya, himself, Tommen, and Radu... "The winner may ask a question of the loser of each hand, perhaps? Does that sound fair?" <You are trying to escape this? I doubt any odd questions might be asked of you.>

<I merely thought to assist the child, and check on my brother. He has grown far too quiet,>
Radu assured him, though he retrieved the cards placed before him.

Soraya took the offered seat and patted the one next to her, indicating she fully expected Vlad to participate as well now that he had won the tickle war by sending her crashing to the floor. "Unless you are afraid?" she taunted teasingly.

"Terrified," Vlad dead panned as he took up his cards.

Tommen looked at the entire setup hesitantly, unsure of whether this was a good idea. Particularly with his parents present. With a sigh, he sat at the table, hoping to merely fall into the center of the pack and avoid being in the spotlight at all.

<Well, Faran shall see to him, and no doubt bring a smile to his face, if briefly,> Nait assured. <The little ones usually do.> Picking up his cards, Naitachel frowned at them thoughtfully. He dealt them, but he wasn't pleased with them.

"Hm, now what is there that I have yet to learn of you?" the redhead mused aloud as she sorted her cards. "Who you secretly lust after, perhaps? Or your most embarrassing moment? Ooh, yes, I like that."

Vlad shot her a glance and considered folding, even as Radu eyed the door.

Soraya looked at her cards a moment, then set two down. "I can request an exchange, right?" she asked, handing them over to the seraph.

"I would think there are nicer questions to ask..." Naitachel supplied gently. "Like what soap you prefer, and what you may wish for Yule this year." Nait passed a couple cards to Soraya, and took three himself. He sighed quietly.

Radu glanced at his cards, but didn't exchange any. Vlad gave back all but one. "You could at least deal me a few worthy of playing," he grumbled jokingly.

Soraya glanced at her new cards and wrinkled her nose, but said nothing further. "How do we bet on this? Or is it a simple fold or show game?"

"That seems best," Nait agreed, shrugging, as he did that very thing. "One pair of Jacks, I think."

Vlad laid out his cards. "Two pair, queens over deuces." Vlad smiled.

"Not so terrible," Soraya noted of Naitachel's pull, setting down her own pair of tens, narrowly missing beating him. "You swindler!" she then said of Vlad nudging him with her knee.

A golden eyebrow arched at Vlad. "Ah, and you wished for better cards?" he teased.

"Uncle?" Vlad asked Radu.

Tom had two pairs as well, but nothing that beat Vlad's. Thankfully, he was also safe by having outdone Soraya and Naitachel.
Radu shrugged, setting his cards down on the table. "Full house," Vlad sighed, looking at Radu in disbelief. "How do you always do that?"

"The Devil's own luck," Soraya noted, grimacing. That left her, she believed, in the questionee's position, with Radu as her questioner.
Naitachel shrugged and smiled. "Well, your question then, Radu, for Soraya."

Radu shrugged again. "I do not know." he answered with a frown. He looked to Naitachel for help. What sort of questions does one ask during such games as these?

"Who, if not Vlad, would you prefer to be with among us?" Min called from the corner, grinning wickedly.

Radu looked startled. "I hardly think such questions appropriate," he chastised.

"Nobody said the questions had to be appropriate, uncle. Go on, Soraya. Answer." Min laughed.

Soraya's eyebrow raised at that. It was a question she would find too hard to answer honestly, and she silently hoped Radu would choose something else. The redhead grimaced and glanced at Vlad questioningly.

Naitachel shrugged, smiling wryly. "Any question works, from asking a favorite color to... well... that..."

"I think I prefer to ask a less inflammatory question," Radu said quietly.

Then, a mischievous smile broke on her face. "Well, Radu is hardly interested in my gender," she began, "and I am hardly interested in Jina and Lisa's genders..."

"Go on, Sor," Min prodded, pretending he hadn't heard his uncle's soft tones.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:26 am

Faran knocked on Mircea's door hesitantly.

"Come," Mircea answered, eying the door.

Faran peeked in, smiled, and hurried over to glomph Mircea immediately.

Mircea wrapped his arms around the young Seraph, his expression clouding as he noted the injured wing again. They'd pay for hurting the child, Mircea promised himself silently. They would all pay.

Faran pressed his face against Mircea's side. "I'm okay, Uncle Mircea... I know Uncle Nait's faced worse often enough..." he murmured, feeling Mircea's anger.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:29 am

"Matty is, sadly, too young, and Mircea has his... tendencies which may make it less than safe for me.... So, I guess that diminishes the field of my choice."

Naitachel arched his eyebrows at Soraya, then glanced over at Min.

"Xandr, perhaps. After all, I did fall in love with him once," she concluded, even if their faithful servant hadn't been with them for some time. Still, she remembered him fondly. "Or, well, perhaps by default, Alexi."

"Alexi?" Min asked. "Really? With so many other options among the family right here?"

Vlad chuckled. "Remind me not to let him alone with you," he whispered to his wife with a wink.

Radu just shook his head and reshuffled the deck.

"One question, Min," Soraya answered. "If you want any further, you will have to join the game and win again." At Vlad's wink, she smiled in return. <You know I have no actual interest in him,> she assured him, <I was merely trying to be as... diplomatic as possible while still following the rules of the game,>

Naitachel shook his head and chuckled quietly, sitting up on the settee. "Were you hoping to be chosen, Min?" he teased.

<Noted,> Vlad grinned. <And yet, I still think I'll ride along when he drives the carriage for a while.>

Soraya smiled and winked at Naitachel, trying not to laugh at both his quip as well as Vlad's. <I shall welcome your company, as always,> she answered Vlad, squeezing his hand quickly.

"Who deals this round?" she then asked, urging the game on, though sometime during the exchange, Tommen had made his escape.

"I know she's teasing," Min grinned. "I'm irresistible." Still, he drew his chair closer.

"You may take my position," Radu offered.

"Not a chance, Uncle. Your deal," Min laughed.

<Tom, get back here,> Vlad called. <If I have to sit here so do you.>

Naitachel arched a brow at Radu playfully, daring him to keep winning.

Soraya laughed at the absurdity of this whole situation, unable to contain herself.

<And have to listen to Mom answer questions about who she... uh, yeah... no thanks,> Tom sent back quickly, mental cringe obvious in his tone.

<You think it's any better for me?> Vlad laughed. <Wait until they start asking uncle questions. He helped raise us, remember?>

"Truly, you would think the truth was physically painful, the way you all seem so eager to flee. Win, and there is no concern, yes?" the Seraph laughed mischievously.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:52 am

Naitachel peered at his cards thoughtfully. A golden eyebrow arched. He tapped his lips with a slender finger uncertainly.

"So, who deals the next hand?" Soraya urged on again, hoping to move past her answer to more interesting things... about others.

Radu glanced up at her, cards in hand, and quirked a brow, but said nothing.

<So, does this accompanying me on any carriage rides with Alexi mean I get some dates with you?> the redhead teased Vlad. <The opera, maybe?> "Be fair now, and nicer when dealing to me," Soraya teased Radu. "I am hoping to avoid any further embarrassment for now."

Naitachel glanced up and offered up to sacrifice one of his cards. "One please."

"I shall attempt to comply," Radu replied, though, in truth, he wasn't sure exactly how to do that.

Vlad discarded two cards, then folded after receiving their replacements.

"The solution is simple. Win often. Then you may ask anything you like, even mundane questions... such as how was her day," Nait supplied absently as he frowned at his new card. "Hm."

Soraya stuck her tongue out at the vampire an exchanged three cards, noting Vlad hadn’t answered her query on an outing to the opera. She might have to push that subject later, but for now she let it drop.

"Yes, but winning is the tricky part," Soraya answered Naitachel absently. "Luck seems to have some part in this version of the game, or, rather, a large part."

Radu looked from his hand to the others, keeping all of his original cards.

Naitachel frowned at his cards as if not certain why they were mocking him. "Well, I am not sure I consider this lucky."

"It'd have to be better than those," Vlad answered, gesturing toward his discarded hand.

Looking up, Nait sighed. "So, who wishes to show first?" He glanced at Vlad's hand, and shrugged slightly. "We will see."

"Who lays down theirs first?" Min asked, looking at his own.

Soraya was the first to show this time. "Three of a kind!" she announced, revealing three tens, a queen, and a four.

Nait sighed and set his down. "Three of a kind," he admitted uneasily. Yes, three 6's and a King and Jack.

"Beats mine," Min admitted, laying down his pair of nines.

Radu glanced from hand to Soraya, then back, smiled softly, and folded it up, setting it aside without showing it.

Nait arched a brow at his mate. "It is a bit late for folding, Radu."

<No fair letting her win, uncle,> Vlad chastised silently, though aloud he suggested, "Perhaps he's embarrassed by how soundly he was beaten."

Soraya's own eyebrow raised. "You won again, didn't you?" she asked, knowing Radu's silence well enough.

"Ask your question," Radu prompted, assuming that wasn't the question she'd choose for her win.

"Vlad has yet to show," she commented. "Therefore, you do not actually know that you have lost."

"He folded," Nait pointed out.

"That's right," Vlad reminded her. "I folded first."

Soraya's eyebrow rose again as she leaned back in thought. "Hm, well, I could go with embarrassing moments, or perhaps with biggest fears...." She then smiled, knowing Radu would be uncomfortable with anything overly personal, but still wanting something with a little bite to it, for the sake of the game. "What is... your favorite thing about Naitachel?" she asked. She knew there was no real single answer to that, but she could at least tease. She winked sideways at the seraph in the process.

Naitachel collected the cards and passed them to Soraya for shuffling while she thought. He almost dropped the deck at her question, though, and coughed in surprise. Blushing, he shook his head, smiling. "I suppose that is less embarrassing." For Radu, anyway.

Radu smiled softly. "Everything," he answered simply, hoping that would be answer enough.

<Uncle, that is not really an answer,> Vlad protested again.

<Do you REALLY want to risk an honest answer to that one?> Min asked Soraya.

The redhead winked conspiratorially at Radu, surprised Min had not protested her choice of question. She took the cards and began shuffling them as she noted the dissent in Vlad's demeanor. "Alright, perhaps you would allow me to amend that to what physical feature do you like best about Naitachel, if you do not want to give us only one thing." <What? You made me answer your question, and this was an innocent enough question,> she retorted as she shuffled.

<So much for 'less embarrassing',> Nait mused, laughing silently. He couldn't but help some curiosity of his own there.

Min snorted as Vlad almost choked on his ice water, each imagining what Radu might say was his lover's favorite physical feature if he had to be honest.

Radu looked at Naitachel a moment, then answered softly, "His eyes."

Soraya laughed and shook her head. <Safe answer,> she sent Radu, amused, <but always a good one.> At that, she began distributing the cards for the next round.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:59 am

Naitachel blushed a warm crimson and ducked his head to collect his cards.

The redhead exchanged two of her own cards, briefly seemed to consider folding, but simply kept her hand instead. "What would you all like?"

Poking at his hand, Nait handed over four this time, and made a face. "Like?" he asked absently, eyeing the cards as if he hoped they might change in his hands.

"How many cards," Soraya laughed, handing four cards back. "But the answer is evident in that face you just made."

Naitachel shrugged, and peered at the new ones, puffing a sigh. "Well, it beats more sixes," he mused.

Radu discarded one card and waited for a replacement.

Vlad frowned at his hand a moment, then discarded all but one card.

Soraya handed over the requested cards to Radu, as well as to Min and Vlad as dictated by their requests. "Your turn." She said this to no one in particular, waiting for them to show their cards.

Min grinned as he spread out his hand. "Full house," he announced, showing queens over threes.

Nait tossed out a pair of twos. "Very little," he called it.

"Beats my measly two pair," Vlad agreed.

"Two pairs," Soraya then showed. "But at least the questions do not come to me," she commented smiling and nudging Vlad under the table. <I swear you will be put in the spotlight sooner or later.>

Radu looked around the table, contemplating folding again for Naitachel's sake.

Naitachel shrugged and smiled. "Well, a simple question cannot be so terrible." He glanced at his mate and shook his head. <I do not fear the truth,> he assured him.

Deciding that might be a little obvious, Radu set the cards down, exposing three kings and nodded toward Min. "Go on."

"What was, in detail, your most memorable sexual encounter?" Min asked, certain Naitachel would never answer.

Naitachel coughed into his hand so suddenly one would have thought he choked on something. Brushing at nearly-watering eyes, the Seraph gasped, "Good, or bad encounter?" Well, he had accepted the rules and lost fairly though that was a question he hadn't expected.

Soraya sighed and shook her head. Leave it to Min. "I doubt any of us really need detail," she said to him.

"Oh, no. I definitely need details," Min replied with a laugh. "Let's go good. I'm feeling generous."

<That hardly seems generous,> Soraya nudged Vlad, grimacing in the seraph's direction.

Naitachel blushed hotly and clenched his hands together for a moment. "Memorable... as in how, then?" he added uneasily, looking for some water to clear his throat and borrowing Soraya's with a murmured, "Pardon."

Soraya admittedly felt sorry for Nait's predicament, though she was also somewhat amused, more by his reaction than anything else. It seemed Tommen had made his exit at the right time. "Help yourself," the redhead answered quietly.

"As in OH NO... OH NO... OH NO... OH GOD... YES YES YES," Min answered. "Hot, steamy, smokin', possibly raunchy."

At Min's outburst, Soraya nearly choked on her own spit. "Min!" she chastised, trying not to laugh.

"That describes a lot of events," the Seraph murmured under his breath, gaze flicking Radu's way in apology.

Radu's eyes widened. Really?

"Perhaps you should pick one and get it over with, Nait," Soraya grimaced, for fear that Min be further encouraged by this response.

"Pick the best one," Min prompted, leaning forward, his head in his hands, giving Nait his full attention.

Looking thoughtful, though still red as if on fire, Naitachel considered various past encounters and tightened his hands on his glass. Well, he could get away with embarrassing only one of them, perhaps. "I suppose... I would have to say the very first time might qualify, then... I suppose you might say a couple of us were... fooling around... We were still new Seraphs, after all, and not certain about half of what we were capable of. So... well... myself and Michelle... I must admit wings make it difficult. And tails worse so. Too many feathers in the way, but that is... ah... rather stimulating at the same time?"

"Michelle was your first?" Soraya asked, genuinely surprised at that. "Huh. I had no idea, even after all this time. Good for you!" she grinned.

"Sounds hot," Min grinned wickedly. "Go on."

"Well, instincts drew us to eventually finding the... ah... right ways to move... and where to touch, where to hold, where to not let go. We lost a few feathers in the process." Nait studied "his" water intensely. "Yes, well, we were each other's first. Better that way, in the end. There were enough bad encounters later so it was something nice to think of in those times."

"I think he's answered your question," Vlad spoke up, casting his brother a withering look. "Moving on?"

"Sounds like more than enough to me," Soraya agreed. She hadn't expected quite so much detail. "Your deal," she said, handing the cards off to the seraph. <And do your best to get Vlad questioned this time, eh?> she winked at Nait.

Nait passed the cards to Min, still beet-red. <Pardon,> he apologized to Radu. <You were my best, but he wanted a memorable encounter, and I did not wish to offer details we both share. Michelle's memory would forgive me this much.> He then offered shyly to Soraya, <I do my best to get anyone to the question. I hope to know what to get all of you for Yule!>

<You've nothing to apologize for, beloved,> Radu assured him.

<Yule? Really? You do not need a card game to ask about that. You should think of something juicier.>

<Like what you might wish Vlad to feed you in private?>
Nait answered wryly.

Soraya laughed aloud at that and gently kicked the seraph under the table, though she admitted, <That is the spirit... now ask Vlad something like that.>

Nait flicked his tail back at Soraya's feet. <I would have no idea what to ask Radu, though, I fear.> Picking up the new set of cards, the Seraph poked through them thoughtfully.

<Same of myself asking Vlad a question. I would like to hear someone's fresh perspective on things,> Soraya answered as she examined her own cards.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:00 am

Mircea waited until Faran fell asleep, then moved toward the door, slipping out silently. Before anyone could raise an alarm, he was out of the house and over the wall, carefully shielding so nobody would guess he was gone.

Radu frowned to note Mircea was attempting to block him, but decided, given that Faran was with him, that it was probably safe enough to allow it. Sighing, Radu turned his attention back to the game.

Faran snored softly, curled in Mircea's blankets.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:06 am

Soraya returned all of her card for exchange, frowning. She was obviously unaware of anything out of the ordinary happening.

Naitachel exchanged two and smiled with delight.

Once she obtained her new cards, the redhead once again grimaced and folded. "Too rich for my blood," she announced, then paused. "No pun intended."

"Well, I suppose I will call it, then." Nait set his own out a flush. "Hearts. I suppose one is an ace."

Radu smiled. "That's a royal flush, beloved. It means you won."

Soraya smiled, waiting for the rest of the game's results.

Radu put down his own straight, not that it mattered.

Nait blushed warmly and fidgeted as he re-shuffled the cards. "All right... Hmmm... Vlad..."

Soraya rested her head on her hand as she looked over at Vlad, smiling impishly. "Make it good, Nait."

"What would you change about Soraya?" he asked, thinking about Soraya's last hairstyle change. He wasn't certain if Vlad liked the newest fashion but they did have to blend in, so the twins certainly wore it... so...

Soraya's eyebrows shot up and she looked at the seraph, rather dumbfounded. "Nait!" she chastised indignantly, then stuck her tongue out at him.

Naitachel blushed warmly. "Well, I am certain we all have flaws that need improving. Such as being magnets for trouble at times, and a penchant for Champaign, in my own case..."

Vlad looked stunned. Change? He'd never considered changing her, he thought initially. But then the answer came to him. "She is stubborn," he answered honestly. "I wish she would, on occasion, choose to be less stubborn." He glanced sidelong at her, knowing he might be in trouble over that one, but he had to answer honestly. Those were the rules, right? "Only on occasion, of course."

"I am not stubborn," the vampire's wife protested. "I am spirited. And that spiritedness has come in handy on several occasions... and... if I were not spirited," she continued, carefully emphasizing the word with her tone, "I would be an entirely different person."

Naitachel's eyebrows arced, and he blinked at Soraya's strong response. "Ah... pardon. Perhaps that was not a good question...?"

"Which is why I said only on occasion." Vlad laughed. "I would not have you change entirely. Only on the occasions where that... spiritedness... leads you into danger."

She then grumbled under her breath, "Let us see just how 'stubborn,' I can be."

"Oh no," Min roared hysterically. "It was a great question."

"We've already seen how stubborn you could be," Vlad rolled his eyes. "Do you really need reminding?"

Nait drooped slightly, glancing at the others apologetically all the same. "I was thinking more along the way of hair styles or somesuch minor thing."

That only made Min laugh harder.

"I am not the one who needs reminding, though perhaps you will get reminding," she retorted, lower lip protruding dangerously. "Hairstyles may have been a safer answer, I agree," Soraya grimaced, though she gestured the seraph should shuffle.

Vlad shook his head. "I need no reminding, beloved. I recall all too well," he answered quietly as he rose. "Please excuse me."

"Yes, yes, it is just a game," the redhead huffed as Vlad rose. "There is no need to leave. I was merely trying to prove your point," she apologized for her outburst, though she hated to eat crow.

"I am sorry," Naitachel murmured, uneasy with the tension now between Vlad and Soraya and feeling guilty at instigating it. He tried to put his attention back to shuffling.

"It's fine, Nait," Vlad sighed. "I just should have picked a less obvious answer."

"Perhaps you should have said longer of temper, as well," Soraya urged, tugging on Vlad's sleeve. "No, no, the point is to be honest. Now I know."

"Well, in any case, on to the next hand, then?" Nait offered, dealing out new cards. He picked up his own and murmured under his breath, "My next question seems safest if merely inquiring for one's favorite color."

Reluctantly, Vlad sat even as Radu rose. "I am sorry," he said as he moved swiftly toward the door.

The truth was that it had stung a little to hear Vlad say he would change anything about her, especially something so ingrained in her personality, even if she knew it drove him insane on frequent occasions. It wasn't as though she didn't know he felt this way about her so-called spiritedness, and she should have expected the answer.

The Seraph glanced up at Radu. "Is something amiss?"

"Sorry," she apologized quietly to her husband quickly, then kissed him on the cheek.

"It's fine," Vlad repeated, this time meaning it.

The redhead's ears perked at Naitachel's question, and she looked up, her own outburst forgotten.

"Uncle?" Min asked.

"Mircea," Radu answered as if that one word answered everything.

Naitachel set down his cards, hands feeling numb. "Faran?" he asked immediately, concerned and reaching mentally. Was the young one okay?

Soraya blanched at that answer. "What happened?" she asked, making to rise.

Concerned, the Seraph rose as well. <What is he doing?> he asked, confused. <Usually he is happier with the little ones around.> Faran was sleeping soundly in Mircea's room, as far as the Seraph could sense.

Vlad watched as Radu vanished before exchanging a look with Min. "Stay here," Vlad directed before he and Min rushed out in their uncle's wake.

Nait glanced at Soraya, eyebrow arched, confused. <Was that aimed at you or myself?>

Soraya bit her lip, knowing that following the discussion they had just had, she should actually make an effort to listen... and yet the idea of sitting here idle was admittedly driving her somewhat insane. "I suspect myself. Or perhaps both of us," she answered aloud, her eyes intent on the door as her hands absently worked at bending the corners of her cards.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:16 am

Naitachel paced uneasily, watching the sky hint at dawn, worried about his mate and the rest of the family so desperately seeking Mircea. What was the man up to? Surely Radu had some idea, as he was still hunting... but would they find him in time before dawn hurt them? Would they be trapped outside the security of their temporary home?

Soraya's fingers actually hurt from how hard she had been gripping the fabric of her skirts. It was all she had been able to hold on to to keep herself from darting out the door after the others in the search for Mircea. She had paced awhile, but that wasn't distracting enough, so she had taken to sitting in the settee, straight-backed, staring at the painting above the mantle.

"They should be home soon," she observed tiredly. She was, after all, human, and needed sleep, but she was too restless to even doze. "Dawn will be here soon."

Min rushed in first, frowning. "This is going to be long day," he sighed, looking very displeased. He shook his head as hung his cloak.

"Unless they hole up somewhere until night..." Nait mused absently, pacing still, tail flicking... Mentally he tried to find them, concerned. He jumped as Min entered, hopeful--only to breathe out a soft sigh in disappointment. "No luck, then? What is he about?"

Soraya stood quickly at Min's entrance. "Perhaps those of us who can sustain sunlight should take up the search?"

"He blocks too well," Min replied. "But nothing good, mark my words."

"Any idea where to take up the search tomorrow?" Nait asked hopefully. "The sooner we find him, the better."

"If he's about, you'll find naught but ash," Vlad answered.

"But perhaps we can find his hiding spot," Soraya said, stifling a yawn as she moved to help Vlad remove his own cloak.

"We lost him in the low district," Min told them. "He’s been about the entire town tonight to lose us and find... whomever he seeks."

"He is seeking someone?" Soraya then asked, startled. "Who?" The question was obviously rhetorical.

Nait frowned slightly. "Who, and why?"

"You can barely stand let alone search," Vlad told her, "and yes, Uncle picked up that much from him before he increased his shield."

"He seeks justice," Min answered Nait. "Or so, he believes."

"His justice is all too often more akin to vengeance." Vlad nodded.

"Justice..." Nait felt his blood run cold. "Faran... He seeks revenge for what was done to Faran? But they are dead already!"

"It seems he feels others are equally responsible." Min sighed, sitting back on the couch and groaning.

Soraya placed Vlad's coat on its hanger, shaking her head. "So he is going to attack any and all who may have been involved, in his eyes?"

"So it seems," Vlad answered despondently.

Naitachel shuddered. "But...! That is--that is slaughter! There are many ladies of the night out there!"

Radu flew in, his skin beginning to smolder as bright beams shone on the horizon.

The redhead was somber, thoughts in disarray from exhaustion and worry as Radu entered. <He must be taking this hardest of all,> she sent to Vlad and Naitachel as she offered to take his cloak as well.

Naitachel darted forward and spread a wing to help shelter his mate from the sun. "Heavens! Radu, you cut it close! Do not deprive myself of you so easily!"

His eyes seemed hurt and lost. "I did not find him," Radu said so quietly as to be nearly inaudible.

The Seraph wrapped his wing around Radu comfortingly. "We will find him," he assured gently. "We must stop him."

Soraya exchanged glances with Vlad but backed away to allow Naitachel room with his mate. She hung up Radu's cloak as well and returned to Vlad's side. "For now it is daytime," she stated. "He cannot do anything until sunset, at least. And the moment the sun will be down, you will be on his heels. You will find him before he manages anything."

Radu shook his head, holding up hands covered in blood. "We are too late for the first," he told them. "I could not save her... and I could not stop him."

Vlad and Min both looked stunned.

Naitachel gasped in horror, jaw dropping. "Radu...! Heavens, what has he done! Mircea..." he lamented. <Heavens... do not tell Faran--the guilt shall burn his young heart.>

The redhead looked away, using the excuse of rubbing her tired eyes to hide her reaction, though her free hand unconsciously reached for Vlad's. "You will find him," she said weakly again. "This... was not your fault."

"I found her just before dawn." Radu told them. "But I was too late."

"It was not your fault," Soraya asserted again. "Mircea had obviously planned this enough to escape without being detected. Please, none of you should bear the burden for what he did. The point now is to focus on finding him tonight, before it happens again."

Radu leaned into Naitachel briefly then moved to the wash bin to clean the blood from his hands.

"Who was she?" Nait asked gently. "And Soraya is right--you should not blame yourselves. He is halted for now as effectively as yourselves... And if he must hunt, so can you when night returns."

Vlad nodded. "We shall all attempt to contact him throughout the day."

Soraya squeezed Vlad's hand encouragingly, suppressing another yawn. "Perhaps you should all rest, first. Restore your strengths, maybe feed? You would likely be better trackers and hunters that way," she suggested, wishing to see them each take at least a few moments' respite.

"Soraya and I might go looking, as well." Nait glanced her way and smiled apologetically. "After you rest, of course."

"She was called Polly, though her given name was Mary," Radu told them as he washed his hands. "He left her on Buck's Row."

Min looked stunned. "She was a drinker, but not a child trader."

The redhead nodded in agreement with the seraph. "Yes, perhaps we should rest as well, then we can try to go searching." She thought a few moments, to add, "Perhaps Alexi can do some searching now." When told of the young woman, the redhead again looked down, shaking her head.

"I'll alert the more trustworthy and able among our staff to seek him out as well as they can," Radu assured Soraya. "The search does not stop with the sunrise."

Naitachel shook his head sadly, and came up behind Radu to rest his hands on his mate's shoulders, using his ability to calm and soothe full-force.

Soraya yawned outright this time. "We will find him," she said again, looking up at her husband and smiling encouragingly. "We always do."

Vlad looked at his wife and drew her close. "Let us rest as we can. We're no good to him or anyone else otherwise."

Min excused himself, the shock over the identity of the woman still obvious.

Resting her head on Vlad's chest, Soraya managed a nod. <Well, at least you have had one small victory tonight. I have remained on the settee the entire time you have been gone. Except for the pacing portions of the night, that is,> she informed Vlad, trying to lighten the mood enough to relieve some of his stress. <And you said I was stubborn.>

"Come, Vlad is right. Rest, and better chance tomorrow," Nait murmured to Radu. "Though what we might say to Faran... I do not know."

Vlad hugged her tightly. <I am most impressed,> he assured her.

"We shall say nothing to the child yet," Radu answered quietly. "Let us see this through to an end first."

"He will likely ask about Mircea's whereabouts when he wakes," the redhead responded to Radu and Nait. "You may want to have some sort of explanation, if vague, ready for him." <You should be,> she then answered Vlad. <Do you have any idea how hard it was to stay here? I think I tore parts of my dress with my nails by holding on to it.>

Naitachel grimaced. After all, there was no lying to even a Seraph child.

Radu nodded. "We shall simply say that he is away, but we encourage his return very soon."

"That's honest enough," Vlad sighed. <I am duly impressed, I assure you. I am quite certain, were our roles reversed, I could not have accomplished the same.>

Naitachel gestured towards a chair with a wing. "At least sit. Heavens... This is tragic."

Soraya smiled at Vlad's answer, though it seemed her attempt at levity had largely failed. She hadn't intended to make light of the situation, but she hated to see him so stressed. <Well, I had to prove you wrong.> Aloud, she answered, "Yes, honest enough, and I think perhaps Faran is the type who will not question too far in the search for answers."

Vlad almost smiled, despite the seriousness of the current situation. <Which proves me right,> he answered. "We can but hope."

Radu sat reluctantly, glancing at the door. He needed to be out there. He needed to find Mircea before anyone else died.

Naitachel set to massaging Radu's shoulders, feeling the tension under his hands. "Well... shall we need to lock him in his rooms after this? Or is something stronger necessary?"

<Hm, a conundrum indeed,> Soraya answered. "I should hate to think that we have lost Mircea to the extent he was before. Surely we can recall him back to us so stronger methods will not be necessary."

"I fear we shall need to lock him away and guard again until he is once again healed," Radu replied sadly.

"That may be some time, I suppose," the Seraph sighed sadly. "And here I had thought Faran's presence alone might help him in that."

"But Mircea obviously sees what was done to Faran as the bigger motivator for the moment, not the fact that Faran is here and well." Soraya grimaced.

"Had he not met with harm it no doubt would have," Radu answered. "But he has long been determined in his defense of family. Especially children."

Vlad looked after his brother's departure. "I fear his skill at eluding capture may cost a good deal more blood before we find him."

Radu's expression made it clear he shared that fear.

"It will be about a week to heal his wing," Nait mused uneasily. "Until then, he is a sad reminder of the attack..." Nait shivered. "Let us hope Mircea does not reach more in his rage."

As Vlad looked toward the door, Soraya's sluggish brain caught on to the fact that Min had left. "Did Min know her?"

"He did," Radu answered. "She was an occasional companion of his."

Arching a brow, Nait asked worriedly, "Could it be he will target now people she associated with? Poor Min..."

"I am not so sure Mircea is of sound mind enough to try to draw inferences on who was connected to whom. My impression is rather that he would target at random, so long as the victim suits his... criteria," the redhead answered, not liking her own words as she spoke them.

"If he is targeting the walkers of Whitechapel this will not be the first of Min's companions we find," Vlad cautioned.

"The women in the house," Radu nodded. "They were walkers of Whitechapel as well."

Alexi and a few others arrived in the room. "As you requested, sir," he addressed Radu.

Soraya closed her eyes and allowed her head to fall on Vlad's chest again. This situation had just gone from terrible to... well, terriblER. "Poor Min. We will have to ensure we are there for him through this as well. Should one of us check in on him?"

"If you find him," Radu told them, moving toward the drawer and pulling forth a tranquilizer dart gun, "use this. It has a unique blend of dart. It will bring him down, but not instantly. Then bring him swiftly back to us. Gently, though, if you please. He is not himself."

"Should we warn the nightwalkers of danger?" Nait asked uneasily. "Though I doubt they might do much to stop Mircea if he is intent on harm."

"Warning them would only damn us," Vlad reminded Nait. "What would we tell them? 'Be careful of a dignified looked nobleman. He's out to kill you for the guilt you bear by association?'"

Soraya nodded and sighed, not wanting to know any more about how they were going to handle Mircea if they found him, at least not for now. "Come now," she said, releasing Vlad and urging him toward the stairs. "I am dead on my feet and you need rest as well. Sitting here discussing this will do us no good on fatigued minds."

Nait sighed. "True enough. But I will go searching as well... With luck, I might find where he rests."

"I will join you... after some sleep," Soraya agreed, still nudging Vlad toward the stairs. Truth be told, she was holding on to Vlad for support as much as she was trying to guide him anyways.

"I think perhaps one of us should," Vlad answered. "But after sleep. He needs time and we need rest."

"Go on, rest with him," Nait chuckled to Soraya.

"Come on," Soraya insisted to Vlad, nearly falling over from exhaustion. "If I wait any longer I may not make it up the stairs."

Naitachel tugged gently at Radu. "You as well. Come. I will rest with you a time to keep dreams at bay."

"In fact, the landing seems like a rather good place to take a nap. Or maybe just the third step."

"I'll see you tucked in," Vlad assured her, lifting her into his arms and taking her off to bed.

Radu hesitated, then moved to wrap an arm around Naitachel's shoulders. "Very well," he conceded. "Let us rest."

Soraya was out the moment Vlad had lifted her, not even awake long enough to bid them all good night. It really was a testament to her, er, spiritedness that she had managed to stay awake so long.

Naitachel nodded and escorted his mate towards their own bed.

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