New fanfic based around Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. I only know a little about the wider world of Masquerade from reading but I've played none of the other games so apologies now for inaccuracies. This fanfic is told from the point of my OC Sarah/Ariadne a recently sired Malkavian who works for Sebastian but was found wandering and causing trouble in Hollywood by Isaac Abrams who considered her nature too beautiful to destroy. Now she spends her time in Hollywood caught between wanting to remember Sarah and wanting to forget. Things are unsettled in the vampire world however and with the Baron of Hollywood dragged into events so to is Ariadne.
Updated this chapter since it wasn't accurate to the rest of the story as I did it before I had the story properly planned out, now it all makes sense :-).
When a handsome young blond tells you he has saved your life you should probably thank him. I did nothing of the sort for two reasons- one, as far as I could tell I had no life to save, I was dead already, and two, as far as I had gathered he had saved my life from himself. At least, no one else in the room I had been dragged into seemed to want to kill me. I say room but really I mean theatre, forgive the foggy details but I have just been pulled from my room and dragged here after, if memory serves, someone just tried to eat me and managed to paint the room in my blood, tried to… My whole throat and neck are throbbing, I think he succeeded, which brings me back to my first point, that I have no life to save.
I was on the stage of the theatre, kneeled in the middle drawing all eyes to me. My attacker, some mad stranger, has just been turned to flaming ashes before my eyes and I want to vomit. It's unreal; some giant who really can't be human just beheaded him with a sword. I was expecting a rain of blood like in the movies of old and then the thud of a corpse. I was not expecting orange fire, charred bones and then black ash. It's a nightmare only the throbbing of my throat and neck tell me I'm awake.
I looked down at my white shirt and frowned, it was covered in blood. Had to be thankful that I was wearing it though, my last memories before being dragged from my room I wasn't wearing much. I glanced over at the ashes; I don't care my attacker's ash now.
The handsome young blond started talking and a French accent came out. He came to stand behind me, taking the centre spot so that all eyes were now on him but of course they weren't really, they were on me, the wild looking brunette wearing only a bloodstained white shirt and nothing else. I continued to look at the people but none were familiar and even the most normal of them looked weird, which I loved. Maybe I should have been scared but I wasn't, confused yes but not scared, thrilled in fact. One proportionately blessed redhead with an ample bosom looked directly at me with a sparkle in her eyes and smiled. I wanted to smile back but I refrained, considering the bearded man scowling at me and the handsome looking man in the tailored suit with eyes of disinterest might misinterpret the gesture.
"I have decided to let this unfortunate exist," the blonde announced.
Unfortunate? Me? Well I did not bear Midas' golden hand to have a fortune but nor did I bear Medusa's cursed snake mane so perhaps I was not so unfortunate…
The young looking bearded man stood up and glared at the blond behind me with open hostility. This man wore a stained white vest, a worn, short sleeved, blue denim jacket, black trousers, black boots and two chunky steel bracelets and four plain rings for accessories. Everything about him screamed tough rebel, a wily, thorny rose growing up above the daisies. "Why?" he demanded moodily. How rude! Why not?
"Her existence is not her fault," came the cool reply, "and as such, she deserves a chance."
"Bullshit!" the man spat back instantly. "Who are you to decide a kindred's fate upon a whim? What gives you the right to kill the sire?"
"It is the way of the Masquerade, siring must be controlled for all our sakes'," came the calm response. Masquerade? But where were the masks? I peered closely at my small audience and disappointingly saw not a one.
"Bullshit!" the man repeated before storming off.
I grinned with amusement.
That was six months ago back when I lost my sanity, or so I have been told, I suspect I merely put it into a box and forgot where I left said box. Can't say it's bothered me much though it does unnerve some of those around me, they're deaf to the voices poor things. I once tried to help someone hear them but ripping off his ears merely led to a pretty mess on the floor. Well I thought it was pretty but the master of beauty, my dear Toreador, didn't think so.
Isaac Abrams, name just rolls off the tongue, became a keeper of mine a month ago. I caused a little trouble in his starry territory and he found my nature too beautiful to destroy or exile, at least that is what he said but I know the silver winged demons were the ones who convinced him not to do it. I'm still not quite sure what he meant by what he said though, made me wonder if I had grass and flowers growing out of me and then I tried to grow some but it didn't work.
I should probably leave this prickly wood city and return to my Napoleonic master but I can't think why I should and the voices keep telling me to stay. I came here because of my blond general, he ordered me to sort out something here but I can't think what it was now… I got distracted by all the twinkling lights and then I met Isaac. He's not as mean as the blond one but I like mean sometimes.
"What are you doing?" this droll came from the sombre Ash Rivers. Sombre, what a funny word that is, it should be the name of an instrument really. I paused in my attempt to catch the fairies that I knew were hiding in the lampshade and put my foot down, letting it join its brother (or sister, it's hard to say) on the stool.
"I'm looking for fairies," I explained as I grinned over at him, "they like to hide with dust."
Ash looked at me disapprovingly as was his way. "Of course they do." Ash was a handsome devil, rugged enough to be manly but not too rugged to be brutal. He had neatly cut, thick, dark hair, the stubble of a beard and moustache, blue eyes that were so pale they were almost clear and that white skin we all possess, though his is pasty and grey. Ash had been a vampire for seven years and considers it more of a curse than any being I know. He had gone from being a Hollywood star to being a drama queen. An overdose had led to his vampirism as our wonderful Toreador had been unable to let his talent fade so young. Now Mr. Hollywood runs a club called the Asp Hole, it's a pretty place that beckons you with red glowing letters.
"You don't see them firedust because they don't like you," I informed him cheerfully. I sprang from the seat and grabbed hold of the lampshade with both of my hands. It was just as the faded red door opened that I and the lampshade went crashing down just like Jack and Jill.
Isaac strode in and gave me a pitying look. "Playing again?" he queried innocently.
I looked to him and nodded cheerfully before turning my gaze to the one behind him. I did adore Isaac but this other Toreador was something else. Handsome, calm, collected, insightful Alex, a broody redhead sired by an unknown female who had fallen for his charm and looks. That's the thing about Toreadors, they're all so bloody shallow and vain, oh sure they speak like they have depth but they judge everything and everyone on appearances. Ever see one with a Nosferatu?
Alex gave me an amused look. This Toreador did not consider me a work of art like Isaac but he did consider me an odd sort of innocent and Alex adored the innocents. He was wearing his trademark black, leather trenchcoat, -funny how the Toreadors have no qualms with wearing something an animal died to produce- a mustard shirt, black trousers and black shoes. Unlike Isaac and a certain Frenchman he did not favour suits; in fact I suspect he loathes them.
Ash gave our lovely mogul a disapproving look. "When is she going back to Sebastian?" he demanded.
Isaac shrugged. "Whenever she wants." He smiled at me. Lovely Isaac was not young when he was turned, his hair was a soft grey-brown and he had offending grooves in his face, ah but age and immortality together are a curse but then so are rotten flowers and seaweed if you think about it. His eyes were gold, rather ideal for someone in the greedy movie business I thought.
"One can't go back only forwards," I remarked cheerfully, "unless one moves without sight," I began to walk backwards to demonstrate my point, "and what a fun adventure that could be!" I frowned. "Or dull, things are better seen."
"You're quite mad," Ash commented distastefully. He often made cold remarks about my sanity, it never bothered me, rather I took it as a compliment and loved the boring misery all the more for it.
"She cannot help that, it is part of her nature," Isaac remarked calmly.
"A beautiful, twisted nature it is," Alex added softly. He was giving me an intense look with his cat green eyes. Toreadors, they can stare at just about anything for hours on end without being able to help it, it's part of their nature but yet I'm the one of the crazy clan. Surely nothing is more maddening that staring at the same thing for ages?
"I see the beauty in things," Ash conversed coldly, "but not in her."
Alex smiled a little as my eyes locked with his and I grinned. "Wonderful creature, your insanity is dazzling," he praised me. "It animates you and gives you such an ensnaring glow." Glow?
I looked down at myself and was most disappointed to see no glow. Perhaps I was like the bugs in pure darkness, without the light I too would glow. How pretty, I would be the moon of vampires, pale and bright in the dark.
"I am going to attend my club," Ash announced. He turned from us and exited the room swiftly not waiting for anyone's comment.
Isaac sighed; Ash was his childe, his morbid nature made him feel guilty. There was something I never understood, why should one feel guilty especially when one is a vampire who takes lives for food? When you do things like that the little things really should not bother you and moody Ash was definitely a little thing. A little thing that was taller than me.
"How often do the steel butterflies sing?" I wondered aloud as I began to skip around the room. "And how can you steal a tail from a cat?" I gave Isaac and Alex a serious look. "So many things to ponder, does anyone bother with these things?"
Isaac chuckled softly and Alex's green gaze intensified further. "Even your words are beautiful in a way, such images you conjure," Alex murmured.
"Well time is fleeting, I'm going to slay someone before the red fiery bird comes to burn us," I informed them chirpily. Blood, such a beautiful, morbid need, such a hot desire, a red river of life, hmm listen to me, suddenly so Toreador. I skipped to the door with a giggle.
"Careful," Isaac cautioned. Silly vampire, he doesn't believe that the flame eyed imps protect me but I know better. He isn't always so nice mind, even when we met he was amusingly strict. Isaac does not much like us neonates, such an amusing word that, I adore the big, funny words he uses. Isaac believes respect comes with age and that young ones are to be his lowly servants. I'm an exception of course; those silver winged demons did good work convincing him to accept me.
I continued skipping on, heading for the messy streets of Hollywood. Out to the wonderful cold, smutty darkness where the posers and partiers would be lurking, alcohol and drugs making their luscious blood pound round just that much quicker. It was raining lightly when I exited to the cracked, stained pavements of glittery, fake Hollywood. Time to kill.
I drifted by Hollywood contemplating where to prey, there were diners at Cafe Cavoletti, their blood sweetened with the yummyness they devoured, cheap strippers from the Sin Bin, though I feared diseases from them, delightful money starved guests at the Luckee Star Motel or perhaps easy drunken morsels at the Asp Hole. I doubted Ash would welcome me there though to prey upon his customers.
I drifted towards the Ground 0 Internet Cafe considering a neurotic geek as potential prey but when I paused outside it I knew I could not be bothered with facing the electric boxes of public secrets, the stench of cheap coffee and students with faces more pasty than mine. The blood of those who study hard and party is often weak, they forget to eat far too often, no nutrition means bad blood to me.
I instead turned my multiple attentions towards the convenience store Red Spot and stepped inside. The stoner assistant of more than just ordinary wares but boom sticks too gave me a glazed look. Slater, he was a harmless, amusing thing, most amusing when I cast a light touch of hysteria upon him to cease his spaced look and give laughter to his face. This deed I had done only once, warned by Isaac to spare it on more deserving folk. Does not everyone deserve some humour?
The colourful food packages distracted me briefly before a burning thirst reminded me of my purpose. Blood, beautiful, warm blood; I needed it, as the plants need water so I needed red nectar. There were five customers to choose from, I had assessed that before I had even entered the building- two middle-aged, three in their early twenties. It was only as I moved to the cereal aisle where two dwelled that I realised one by the magazines was watching me. I looked to her discreetly and forked out a tongue ruining secrecy.
She, tanned beauty, called herself Samantha, I, pale skinned madwoman, called her many other things. Her brown eyes gave me a pleading look, begging one of my personalities to remember and reunite with her. Samantha, Sammy, Sam? Who had she been? Three potential names...hmm perhaps we had something in common- multiple identities. Perhaps not, she seemed too sane despite the spell of hallucinations I had cast upon her during our last encounter. Isaac had yet to scold me for that, for he had yet to find out. The curly haired pest was certain she knew me, so certain that she had given up her destination and booked a room in the Luckee Star Motel, determined to dwell in Hollywood near where she had spotted me. So far, it had proved a good idea for her, we had met three times in the space of a month.
Masquerade violation...it was a risk I toyed with by letting her live but I saw the potential of a greater game from which I could derive much pleasure. I crossed my eyes and giggled at her before turning my attention back to the Kine I hoped to feed upon.
"What's up?" one male in his early twenties queried me when I appeared before him with a smile. He looked nervous; I took that as a compliment and looked upwards appropriately.
"Stars and ceiling tiles, what's down? What's left? What's right? So many directions to choose from, why pick just one?" I ranted at him curiously.
His blue eyes filled with further nerves and he took a step back. "Never mind," he muttered, hoping to end the conversation. I considered using some dominating words to force my victim to my side but another caught my attention with his bright red t-shirt with a cartoon, purple octopus on it. I immediately hovered over to him amused and fascinated by the octopus. So many legs, so many things they could do at once!
"Hey?" he made his greeting a puzzled question, strange thing to do but it made me smile widely, I love strangeness. Obviously he was wondering if he knew me.
"Hey," I retorted, mustering my best seductive tone, which had improved a lot over the past month thanks to some Toreadors' teachings, "I couldn't help but notice you. Would it be too forward if I asked you to walk with me?"
Maybe he would have been charmed by my looks and words by himself, maybe not, we would never know because I had chosen to bewitch this messy haired blonde with some vampire magic. The voices had been the ones to suggest that my vampire powers might be best used and it's always good to listen to the voices.
"Sure," he said eagerly with an attractive boyish smile. It was easy to guess that this young man was here to make it in Hollywood with his looks. If there was talent there too I could not tell. I wrapped one hand around a muscular arm and allowed him to escort me back outside to the cool night air.
I could sense Kindred all around, Hollywood had more Kindred pretenders than Kine though no one seemed to realise it. Isaac the jewellery seller, Ash the club owner, Velvet Valour the mistress of sultry dancers, them and many more, all actors and actresses portraying their roles with more talent than any of those upon the silver screen. Let's excuse the fact that Ash had once been upon the silver, I'm sure it was forgettable anyway as so many things are.
I lured my victim to an alleyway knowing better than to go for a public attack. Masquerade violation, masquerade violation, who wants to fuck with the guys in masks? I did not understand it, Camarilla, Anarchs, Sabbat? Too many names, how to toe the line? Where was the line? I looked at the ground hopefully for it but saw only a crushed tin can and cracked pavement.
Down the dark alleyway then, silly little blonde, should have known better but then who can resist the mind tricks the demons help me play? He looked at me with vacant blue eyes; I looked at the purple octopus and giggled. Then I sprang on him, wrapped my limbs around him and sank my fangs into his delicious neck. He stumbled backwards with a groan but remained upright despite my added weight. Blood, blood, blood, messy blood, delicious, warm, sweet and so nourishing.
Everything became clear with the blood, as I drank the voices died down, lost to my ecstasy; I remembered fleetingly a college student called Sarah who took Art class with Samantha. Sarah was paranoid, fixated on the strange dreams she had at night and the voices whose whispers faded with the light of the rising sun. Sarah needed understanding; Sarah needed to hear more, to learn more. Samantha was concerned but thought it the stress of college, she suggested a night out. A night in a busy club full of young adults, their blood pounding, their heads swirling with alcohol and drugs, their bodies grinding in dances driven by lust. Sarah had been unaffected until she had seen him.
I pulled back, the voices returned, Sarah vanished. I released my victim and let him fall to the ground in a dazed but still living heap. I eyed him warily, only just living, oops, taken too much again. My belly felt too full now, yet I licked my lips taking in more, craving more. I eyed him again, may as well finish it. May as well see him again, remember him. Remember who? Oh like a game, ask twenty questions- did he have glasses? Was he tall? Was he blonde?
"You always look most lovely when you are contemplating risk."
I tensed and turned with a ghoulish welcoming grin. A witness, how fun, how exciting!
"You know you shouldn't kill," Alex teased softly, "it only drives you closer to being feral and that my dear is quite ugly."
I giggled even as I nodded. Feral, wild child, one step closer to those lucky Gangrel who had the joy of howling with the wolves. Still to be ugly, could my vanity take it? Pretty little miss that she was, she couldn't stand being ugly. One more glance at the victim, might not make it without a hospital but that would be darling nature's choice. The hunger though, the thirst, the unnatural need that horrified the dear kine so, it was still there, still burning.
Alex placed his hands on my arms and gripped them tight restraining them by my sides. He had moved so quickly I had not even seen him do it, what a clever vampire. "The thirst is a wonderful thing," he murmured, "to see our kind suffer so, to see that agony within, to endure it, to push oneself to ones limits, it's a challenge." Toreadors, and they call me mad. "Can you endure it if I make you?" he asked quietly. "Can you starve so beautifully my lovely Ariadne?"
"Ariadne, what a funny word," I murmured, "but you are funny."
Alex grinned at me with his practiced smile of seduction that so many kine fell for. I merely liked how shiny his teeth were. "You are lost in your own maze aren't you? A tangle of the mind, forever tormented by your own confusing thoughts, such a struggle you nightly face. Which path to take, which voice to listen to. Besides," he looked at me with a glimmer in his vivid green eyes, "you have no name and Ariadne does as well as any other, although you might not have the noble image of a Cretan princess."
"Ah but I have a crown," I murmured gleefully, "when the fairies want to give me one, one of glass, it's so pretty in the moon."
Alex nodded, still looking at me with that weird fondness he bore where Ash would have given me scorn and dearest Isaac that bewildered look of pity and amusement. Yes I amused him, I loved to amuse him, to please the stiff faced seller of treasures, make the baron smile. "I wonder how much one already mad can endure," Alex murmured as he released me at last, "I wonder the limits of a Malkavian."
"Why?" I decided to indulge his prattle.
"There is beauty in pain," he said softly, "a dark sort but it's there, so dark, so vivid and loud and sad and yet so wonderful. People are at their best when vulnerable, the walls fall down then their fake, ugly personas are gone and they are themselves at last when they fear death."
I nodded without understanding; Alex did so often like his deranged tangents, though not as much as me. It was a joy to flit from one topic to another, to verbally dance through discussions and bring new thoughts to life. There were too many things to ponder and so little time. For instance, did the stars pin the sky in place and if they vanished would it fall? Did vampires floss? Had anyone ever called Sebastian Sebby? And the bells that elves played so often in my head, were they made of silver or brass? So much to wonder and yet the night was not so young anymore and still I thirsted. The man, my victim, was almost at death now; he had slipped so deep into unconsciousness he would never come out of it.
Alex moved past me and crouched by the soon to be corpse. "So lovely," he mused, "almost at peace, vulnerable, quiet and still." He looked up at me calmly. "Bespelled by you of course, you can be good at that. Sometimes it's good to see them go quiet, as if asleep, it's poetic how closely sleep and death are tied." When the man crossed over at last from one shady realm to another Alex stood up again, his face twisted into disgust. "So ugly now," he remarked wistfully, "corpses always are. It's not much fun when they depart so quickly to become things of horror and rot." He turned away from the body and looked back to me. "You would be best holding that hunger until tomorrow night, one corpse is suspicious enough and you so rarely limit yourself."
I grinned widely at him, limit myself? Who wanted limits? With limits I could not fly, I could not dance naked through the streets with cats, I could not make pancakes with blood, flour and petals; all these Isaac limits naturally. I loathed limitation, I hated restraint, letting my victims live was always the worst of it. Letting Sarah and him go, that was easy I supposed although the quiet, the silencing of the voices, that odd peace, it was hard to see that pass at times, easy at others when I was lonely for them.
"What will you do?" I queried Alex curiously.
He smiled at me, wide, charming and innocent. "I will go to my home and paint," he remarked, "I will be inspired and I will create."
"Do I inspire?" I questioned.
"Not me," he admitted, "Isaac perhaps. You are so blessedly innocent even in your killings you cannot understand restraint, you're too young and too much the victim of your mad clan. It's not your fault; you're a lamb stained in blood, that's all."
Alex laughed and then he was gone, departed in the blur he could move in so easily. I wanted that speed but my shoes refused to comply, I had heard of winged shoes being fast but when I had tried to stick pigeon feathers to mine Isaac had scolded. Apparently he had not appreciated bird corpses around his office.
I crept back to him, moving through the shadows practising my talent of Obfuscating, I was getting better at it. It was fun to play hide and seek, especially with the students and the police. I passed by the jewellery shop window and admired the treasures inside. Isaac assured me they had not come from pirates but I did not believe him, I knew he had robbed ships and slain men with eye patches and hooks for the pearls, diamonds and gold. Drawing my eye from the trinkets that darling V.V so often admired when she visited, I moved down the alleyway and crept in the side entrance.
Isaac looked at me with a disappointing lack of surprise. There was no sneaking up on him, even if I had done it in a crouch with minimal noise. "Fed then?" he queried calmly.
I nodded with my wide smile. "He might have been a star," I murmured, "though I wonder how people learn to glow and fly, you'll teach me won't you? To be a star? I want to glow and fly."
Isaac gave me that typical bemused smile and shook his head making me scowl. "Most Malkavians annoy me," he admitted, "especially the idiotic neonates but you; your mind is like a work of modern art, a tortured painting of colours, unclear outlines and a collision of shapes. It seems to have no direction, much like you, and yet there is a meaning to it."
"I have direction," I protested, "I have left, right, forwards, backwards," I stepped in those directions to demonstrate my point.
Isaac laughed. "Perhaps I like you because you are a Malkavian," he admitted, "your mind just keeps ticking."
"Tick tock, tick tock, yes I hear that sound sometimes," I mused. Tick tock, tick tock, there was a pendulum swinging in my head but I did not mind, not even when it thunked against my skull.
Isaac approached me, though he stopped when there were still a couple of steps between us. "There will be trouble soon my mad wonder," he told me gravely, "the Anarchs are trying to start an uprising, the Kuei-Jin plot their own takeover, the Sabbat are restless and the Camarilla struggle with it all, here in particular where their representative is that fop of a prince."
I snickered at this, a fop, what a word for Sebastian. "Peace is dull, all those plot lines sound exciting," I enthused.
"Ah so young, so naive," Isaac said with a world weary look in his gold eyes. "I like that though, you lack the stress of the others, maybe Alex is right to think you innocent, in a way you are."
I leaped on him then, springing at him as I had sprung onto my prey but Isaac was ready for it. The first time I had done it he had stumbled and struggled and scolded as he so often did but after time he had grown used it and though he still scolded now and then he still allowed it. He wrapped his arms around me offering support so I did not have to half-strangle him with my arms. I gripped his soft greying hair instead and kissed his supple lips. "So innocent," I purred when I broke from him with a smirk.
Isaac smiled back. "Perhaps not then," he murmured.