I didn’t have to wait long before Lionel came back to me, telling me that the meeting was arranged for mid-afternoon at a club called the Borderline somewhere downtown. Kaleb had gone somewhere I didn’t know and since he didn’t have a phone, I had no idea how to reach him. I made a note to buy one for him, actually it would be wise to buy one for all of the Darksiders if I was going to work with them. I started thinking of other things I would need to acquire, an easier entrance into their lair was one, but really I was just trying to think of anything but elephants., delicious addictive and dangerous blood...
Coil’s revelation about it had struck something deep inside of me.
Ever since I’d began drinking, I’d never felt better in my life, but was it wise to keep on drinking if it meant losing my humanity? Was being human even important in the grand scheme of things? Coil handled himself well and everyone more or less liked him, it wasn’t like I’d go crazy, Coil was perfectly sane, just very very amoral. Enough to not even care if he hurt kids to make himself stronger. I shuddered.
Rather than get No-Name Shinoda to drive me, I opted to take the bus. I needed some time alone and taking public transport seemed like a good change of pace toward being normal. In addition to buses, the city had an extensive monorail system travelling from one end of the city to the other.
The bus dropped me at the nearest station and I took the green line that served most of the inner city. I wasn’t the biggest fan of downtown or as it was formally known, the Financial district, there were a lot of landmarks like the Orochi Industries tower, the Empyrean Records buildings or the Atlantean Foundation’s, all impressive feat of architecture, but when you’d grown up with them, they lost their appeal. Shopping wise, Diamond Halls was the largest indoor mall of the city but I preferred the more local and down to earth shops of the boardwalk. The last thing of note was the many clubs, but I was underage. The McKnight cultural center was nice, but the exhibits weren’t changed that often and the shows had long been above my price range.
So, yeah. I wasn’t a fan of downtown.
The monorail was pretty fast, but it felt like it was crawling as it sped toward Downtown. I couldn’t help but chew my nails, had Kaleb been with me, I’d have just snuggled with him for the trip until I could calm down, but he hadn’t followed me to Coil’s he wants too eager to see him again after the previous night’s encounter.
On the train, some tweens were hanging out, they seemed to give me a glance and giggled as one of them told something. I didn’t know what they’d said but I couldn’t help but feel my blood boiling. My instincts screaming to not let it slide. I focused outside and cracked the music on my iPod until it started hurting.
Emerald Bay was a fairly beautiful city, one of the tourist attraction was the large amount of old houses that had been only minimally renovated. Of course all of them were under a century old, the truly older ones were buried deep, in the floodable tunnels that made darkside. Then there were the newer constructions, like The House of Tomorrow, a structuralist oddity that had been the doctoral thesis of a local architect upstart, it was composed of cement cubes stacked together, creating a vaguely twin pyramidal structures filled with balconies and walkways. Seeing it also meant the trip was almost done, it stood in the Village, which was wedged between Downtown on the north-east front, University Hill south-east and Elysium part to the west.
When the monorail stopped where I wanted, there was still over an hour and a half until I was due to meet Grigori, so I killed time by wandering aimlessly. When the time came, I made my way to 4th avenue and Dawson street.
There were no sign to advertise the powerline was even there, the only hint being the music and lights escaping the second floor and the brutish man standing in biker’s leather acting as a bouncer to the staircase. I walked closer and he took one look at me.
“Come back in a few years kiddo.” He said.
“I’m here to see Grigori Maxwell. I was told he’d be waiting for me.”
He took another look at me, examining me as if trying to find something.
“Go on in. Hope you survive the night.”
I wasn’t sure what he thought I was there for, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to know. It’s not a good sign when the bouncer of a scummy club is willing to let minors in because they say some guy is waiting for them.
I went up the metal stairs and into the full assault of the blaring electronica. The club itself was nothing remarkable, not that I’d ever been into one but it looked something like you see on tv. It wasn’t very big either, the center of the room was reserved for a dance floor while three sides were taken by couches, pillows and cushions with openings leading to other rooms obscured by drapes. The last remaining wall was reserved for a bar. What caught my attention was the customers and the staff, full leather, fursuits or cross-dress was the flavor of the place. It wasn’t just a club, it was a fetish club...
I wasn’t sure what made me more uncomfortable; the fact I was in such a place or that people might have read me as a crossdresser… I timidly walked to the bar, focusing on my feet and not the many underdressed people.
“First time here, Luv?” The bartender, a tattooed, pierced guy wearing very tight clothing and speaking with a vaguely british accent. “What can I help ya with?”
“I’m looking for Grigori Maxwell.”
“You don’t look like one of his special friends.” He said, making me even more uncomfortable. “A little young… but pretty.”
I was about to break and leave.
He started laughing. “Just messing with you. He’s in the back.” He pointed with his thumb at the end to the room.
I didn’t say thanks, I just went there, flapping the curtain open. I wasn’t so sure what to say about the spectacle that was in front of me. Two college aged boys were sitting on a couch, shirts off. The first was a tall, curly haired one with a solid musculature, he kissed his partner’s neck and the other enjoyed it. The second was smaller with very short hair and a willowy build.
They stopped and looked at me.
“Friend of yours?” The smaller one asked.
“Must be the Lauren I’ve heard so much about. Please sit down. Lucius, some privacy please?” The bigger one said.
Lucius took his shirt and left. The other, whom I presumed to be Grigori, lounged back on his seat. I saw down on a cushion in front of him.
“The Abendroth speaks highly of you, and you come directly as requested by Mr. Coil himself. You’re a newcomer onto the scene but in such a short time you’ve made an impact. That is impressive. You even have the Darksiders considering you as a member. Of course you’ve had help, being patroned by the lord of the city helps.”
I wasn’t sure what to say, he knew stuff I wasn’t sure how he possibly could.
“I know this because much like Coil, I have ressources, except mine are of ethereal nature. Very little happens in this city without my knowing. With my allies, I rival the Circle of the Red Oath and the Sisterhood of the Pale. But tell me, what made you seek me out, what can I offer you?”
“I want to become a sorcerer.” I admitted without dancing around. “Or rather I want to become a better one, I already have bound some creatures.”
“Yes, the ghosts and the bogeyman. The latter is impressive for a novice.”
“Not really, it was kind of a hail mary, I had no idea it would work…” I admitted.
“Impressive regardless. Being a sorcerer is different from being an other type of magician, you’ll remain forever powerless, we are not diabolists who pact with demons to gain their power or witches pooling their meager power to convince the spirits to work for them. You’ll depend on how much you can bind inhumans and how well. I can teach you some, but many you need to see for yourself. I can help you see.”
“Do it.” I said.
He searched his pants and took out a small vial of black liquid. He went to a cupboard and took out a silver cup, in which he poured the liquid.
“What is that?”
“We call it the Seepage, this isn’t the first time you’ve seen it. You may not remember it, but it is the bridge that form the contact to which that mind the Covenant. Your mind was probably not ready to handle the strain the first time, but I know you felt it, a contact being made with the beyond. You’ll drink this and it will give you another chance.”
“Is this going to be like Alessa’s fae charm?”
“The maenad’s power is not quite the real deal. But they take their powers from the same idea.”
He put the cup in my hand. I raised it to my lips and drank the liquid, or I tried, it seemed to get a life of itself and crawled into my mouth, I felt panic rising through my body and things went dark.