“What is the Covenant?” Coil asked me as he circled around me.
“The laws that govern the interactions of human and inhumans. The protect humans from the worst of inhuman actions but keep them beyond the veil of knowledge.” I explained. We’d been at it for a week now.
“Who is bound by the Covenant?”
“Vampires, Shifters, Magicians, Demons, Boogiemen, Ghosts, Constructs and the Fae. Those not bound by the Covenant are Talents, Hunters and Half-breeds, they may however accept being bound in exchange for the gift of perception and of that of bargaining.”
First thing I’d learned was that Inhumans were definitely not strong on books as they weren’t protected by the veil, casual encounters with supernatural beings were somehow mitigated by human minds, chalked up to something else, rationalized and forgotten, but anything they’d read in a book was free for them to remember. Thus, my supernatural education was primarily oral-based, which slowed it down considerably.
There was a lot to know and after a week of spending my nights at Coil’s place, I wasn’t even beginning to scratch the surface. The Covenant was the central part of inhuman culture; that humans had protection so long as they did not venture into esoteric paths. Being sworn to it meant the removal of that protection, but it also meant gaining two essential tools: the ability to see the invisible world and the ability to bargain with the powers that be. The latter was what differentiated magicians from hunters. Magicians were all about bargaining for power.
Ever since I’d been oathbound to follow the Covenant, I’d been given these two abilities. Seeing ghosts wasn’t very fun, most of them were nothing but apparitions, like static on an old recording. But some of them were dark, angry and dangerous. Bargaining wasn’t something I did, I had no idea how, and Coil didn’t seem to make it a priority in my schooling if he ever intended to tell me about it.
“Since you’ve been doing so well, I have a gift for you.” Coil announced. He walked to the edge of the room where a long but thin wooden chest awaited. It hadn’t been there in previous days, but I hadn’t noticed it’s arrival until then. He came closer and opened the box. A pair of fine and elegant rapiers were inside of it.
“Uhm… Thanks?” I said. “I would have liked a real sword though… Toothpicks are kind of underwhelming.”
“I assume you mean a longsword. I assure you, this is a better choice.”
“If you say so.” I said with a shrug.
“While the rapier may not seem too impressive compared to larger weapons, it is a deadly, weapon. It requires very little pressure to slice flesh and armor able to resist it has stopped being in use for centuries. It actually made longsword obsolete and dueling blades soon became blunt tipped as too many duels ended with both duelists impaled on their opponent's weapon as both had gone with a thrust. With your strength, speed is your ally.”
“Okay…” I answered, feeling like I’d been smacked down. Still, rapiers looked wimpy.
“Starting tomorrow, you’ll be learning the art of fighting as well as continuing your education in our world’s politics.”
“What about tonight?” I asked. We’d started not too long ago.
“I have other plans that popped up shortly before you arrived. You have the evening to yourself.” He said before leaving.
I was somewhat annoyed by that. Coming here wasn’t quick, even with a car, it was an half hour drive from home in the best of circumstances. But as I’d learned, Coil didn’t care about inconveniencing me, I was effectively sworn to serve him for fifty years. Which wasn’t as long as I thought. One of the first lesson I’d received was on Dhampirs.
Those like me were faster, stronger and more resistant than humans but not quite as much as true vampires. We also aged much slower once adulthood set in, I was looking forward to maybe a hundred and fifty to two hundred years… Provided I didn’t get myself killed, which seemed likely. However we didn’t get the truly good vampiric abilities; no shapeshifting, controlling the weather or mind control. Instead we had the ability to know if someone was supernatural or not as well as immunity to supernatural mind control, which explained why Coil hadn’t just brainwashed me.
I left the mansion, leaving the swords behind. I didn’t have anywhere to put them at home and wouldn’t need them. In the driveway, a car was waiting. No-name Shinoda was the driver on duty from Thursday to Sunday during the evening shift, Monday through Wednesday was taken by Jeff.
In the last week, we’d talked maybe a grand total of fifty words and most of it had been his trademarked ‘Where to?’
I sat down in the back seat as usual. From chatting with the much more loquacious employee under Coil, I’d learned that there were only two ways to annoy Shinoda: Sit in the front if there’s space behind and ask him to change the music. I sort of liked the guy, so I followed the rules.
“Where to?” He asked predictably.
“The Boardwalk.” I answered, buckling up and he began driving.
Working for Coil, or rather studying under him, had some advantages I guess. I hadn’t touched most of the money, just buying snacks with it and replacing my iPod, taking my old model to ensure my mom didn’t see anything.
I felt bad for lying to her, but she seemed relieved that I had made “friends” which was far from the truth. Not only could I say nothing to her, but even if I did, she’d be horrified and disappointed to learn what I’d been up to. I’d betrayed her most important rule: to deny my vampiric nature and live normally.
The car ran down Mount Reigner, which had nothing to do with the similarly named one in Washington State. Although both were volcanoes, although ours hadn’t been active in a century. Then through the Village, Emerald Bay had an active gay community that nested wedged between University Hill and Elysium Park, which was the next step in our journey. Elysium park was very much like New York’s central park, except without the renown. Final step was Oceanside, which was an almost peninsula that touched the pacific.
I stepped out of the car when Shinoda stopped, he rolled down his window and asked me “Pick up?”
“No but thanks for offering.” I answered.
He closed his window before leaving, returning to the Mansion. He hadn’t dropped me far from the Boardwalk, just a few minutes. I walked there, thinking about everything that had happened all week.
I kept walking and eventually, I reached the edge of the boardwalk, overlooking the ocean. There was a small beach, but nobody ever swam, even in summer, the sea was way too cold, that didn’t stop people from creating bonfires and parties. The sun was about the set and I took a moment to enjoy the beauty. I never really had much to do on the boardwalk, but I always enjoyed the sea and just the crowd.
Would be nicer if I had friends… I surprised myself thinking.
Apang of depression overcame me, Even with all the Coil bullshit to deal with, I found myself lonely… I took out my wallet, food was my favorite way to cheer myself up, I opened it and next to the new cards a gift from Coil, I saw the old slightly crumpled Ouroboros Tattoo business card.
Is two week too late?