CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence.
8 Bells, StrangerVille
Titania Kibo slid off the hood of one of the military trucks, her outfit somehow free of dust and debris.
“Well, this is not exactly inconspicuous,” Caleb remarked.
“Sorry,” she gave him a sassy salute, not looking at all apologetic.
She waved a hand, and Caleb felt sharp sparks of magic flit across his skin. “Is this better?” she purred.
He hunched over, biting down on his discomfort as whatever she cast rattled every molecule in his body. “I thought we were breaking into a records office to look at a file, not attacking each other.”
She chuckled, “What are you? 100? Stop being such a baby.” She tugged his arm, forcing him to follow her into the bar, where he was shocked to find himself with a reflection.
A reflection that wasn’t his.
And wasn’t hers either.
“Glamour,” she lifted a shoulder, “It’s not my favorite magic, but it is the one we are most known for. Let’s get a drink and find out what we’re walking into. I don’t want to spend all godsdamned day searching through filing cabinets if someone can direct us to its exact location.”
Caleb felt distinctly uncomfortable with his reflection as they ordered their drinks. “Did you have to glamour me into a balding, middle-aged man?”
“Hush,” she poked him, “Use that stupid vampiric hearing and get us something useful.”
Begrudgingly, he took in the conversations around them. There was a lot of chatter about Clive Beeden’s retirement and his son’s promotion. The gossip was flattering, bordering on sycophancy. Apparently, Clive was a strategic genius who was “protecting sims from the real threats” and “harnessing the power of their enemies.” His son was continuing the legacy. Whatever that meant.
Finally, a research scientist began complaining about access to the records office. According to him, the paper files were still in the old building, and the place was a mess. Caleb glanced at Titania to see if she heard anything, but she was busy chatting with some young soldier about battle formations.
“But if you put two sets of archers in the rear, it’ll be like a never-ending deluge of arrows because one group is always reloading while the other is firing.”
The young man balked. “I’m not sure the military even uses arrows, ma’am.”
“What is going on here?” Caleb growled.
“N-nothing!” the soldier stammered, “I’m just trying to answer her questions, and I don’t understand them!”
“Not you,” Caleb scoffed; he leveled a glare at Titania, “Her.”
Titania pouted as Caleb grabbed her arm and dragged her away, “Glamour is no good if you talk to the mortals about a military strategy that is centuries out of date.”
She snatched her arm back, “Jokes on you, dummy, the fae use that strategy now. And I wasn’t talking; I was flirting.”
Oh, Caleb could tell. It annoyed the ever-living shit out of him. “Were you going to invite him to a weeklong ball where he was enchanted and made to dance until he passed out?”
She threw up her arms, “He had great thighs! And a mortal hasn’t died at one of our balls in a decade, so there.”
“We don’t have time for flirting,” he snapped. “The paper records are at the old facility on the outskirts of town. We should head there.”
She looked down, “I should have brought running shoes then. What are we talking about? Ten? Fifteen miles?”
“Running? Please,” he lifted her and let the occult energy flow around them before taking off at supernatural speed.
They sped through the town and were standing outside the gates of an old laboratory within minutes. He set her down, smirking.
She smoothed her skirt and folded her arms. “Now, who’s flirting?”
Goth Summer Home, Brindleton Bay
Biffington cleared his throat as he stepped up to the podium. It wasn’t, strictly speaking, necessary, but it lent a certain amount of gravitas, and besides, Biffington had rarely been allowed to use it. Technically, he was the club’s secretary—keeping the minutes and organizing the voting. They used female secretaries in the fifties, but that was mainly because of the war, which was before his time, anyway.
He cleared his throat. “I grappled with the vampire, forcing him into a corner as he thrust his claws toward me. Only years of tennis practice gave me the dexterity to evade him. He slammed me into the wall, I parried and—”
“Stabbed him with your fist?” Jacques interrupted with a laugh, “You expect us to believe that you bested a male vampire of advanced age?”
“I-I acted cleverly!” Biffington sputtered, “And he was definitely an elder vampire. He was able to mist, and according to the works of Goodley, that skill takes centuries to master.”
“We don’t doubt his age,” Bjorn sneered, “We doubt that you did anything except weep and beg for your life. This club—”
“Has enough information to verify the veracity of your claims,” Mortimer finished. His tone was firm but kind. “Thank you for your presentation. And the…er…photos.”
Biffington had been proud of the photos. He’d cropped them perfectly. Despite his pain, he’d managed to snap a few while the vampire sat on the phone having an illicit conversation with a woman named Alice. Biffington left that part out because it conflicted with his story of brave struggle. Besides, the conversation was unseemly.
You don’t need ropes to bring me to my knees, but I’d appreciate them, the vampire had whispered to the woman on the phone. He took himself in hand at one point, making several erotic promises. It was not in a man’s nature to submit, and yet—
Begging should be its own separate kink. Is that on your list, dear Alice? Do you intend to make me beg?
Thank llamas, something had caught the woman’s attention, and she hung up, or Biffington would have truly embarrassed himself.
“Fine,” Bjorn rose to pour himself another drink, “Regardless of Biffington’s questionable heroism during his account, he has provided us with the proof this club has searched for across the decades. Now what?”