Walk the Night
An Urban Fantasy
Welcome to my world
Given the darkness and the disrepair of the sidewalk, there was no reason why she should be striding down as if it were broad daylight on Main Street. In broad daylight, however, she would be long gone, asleep.
The bar's sign flickered slightly as she passed under: Haiven's Haven, Open 24-7. Whoever had spelled it for enduring glow would be hearing from Haiven soon-he was a man who did not like to be cheated. It was quiet tonight, but then, it was two AM on a Tuesday. "You'll be wanting your usual, I take it, Kasha?" Haiven asked, raising a slanted eyebrow as she took a stool at the corner. Small earrings marched up the edge of one of his blunt-pointed ears.
"Yeah," she replied with a grin. "Thanks, halfer."
"Sure thing, sucker." He popped open a bottle and poured the contents into a mug for her, sliding it over to where she sat.
She took a sip, rolling her eyes. "Bastard."
"Hey, my parents are married."
Laughing, Kasha left the half-elf to deal with the other customers. Someone deep in the shadows in the corner of the bar wolf-whistled.
"George, don't try to hide. I know that was you."
He faded into view as his shadow slid off him. "Aw, how'd you guess?" he complained as his symbiotic Shadow made rude gestures at her from the wall.
"Lessee... I've known you since you met your symbi, you like to be annoying, and you're the only person I know who's stupid enough to whistle at a terulea?" Kasha smiled, giving the lie to the insult, and took another few sips of her drink
"Fine, ruin my fun." He took one glance at what she was drinking and pulled a face. "I don't know how you can drink that stuff. I wouldn't drink anything magicked-up if I could possibly help it."
A soft laugh. "Care to donate to a worthy charity, then?" Kasha raised an eyebrow and shifted slightly in her seat. "The Feed the Hungry Kasha Fund?"
"Oh no, don't start that. You know your whammy doesn't work on me, not anymore. You keep to your potion, Malglorious Thoughtsucker, " he indicated her mug, "and don't be eating any of my emotions."
Kasha snerked at his newest nickname. "Fine, ruin my fun."
George stood and left his payment at his place. "Screw you, and I'll see you at the Council meeting tomorrow," he laughed over his shoulder.
"Up yours, and sure thing." She'd almost forgotten.
Haiven came back over and nodded to the sign above the door; No Predation Permitted. "For a moment there, I thought you'd forgotten Rule Number One. This place is certified for a reason, you know."
"Nah, we do that kind of thing all the time, you know that. Comes with the power."
"You ever consider going the traditional way, instead of drinking an emotion-potion?" Haiven asked idly. "Heard it's coming back in fashion, and you being the Lady Terulea and all..."
"Pfft." Kasha dismissed the notion with a flick of her hand and tucked a bit of black hair behind her ear. "The 'traditional way,' Haiven, means working in a brothel. There's no other even semi-legal way to get fed, and the tastes are pretty limited. With the supplement, I get 'variety with every sip.'" She grinned as she quoted the most recent advertising jingle.
He raised an eyebrow.
"That's not to say I don't enjoy a fresh meal," she amended, "but the variety is nice all the same. Most people don't feel very strongly, I'm afraid." She took her last sip and the spell on the liquid let a gentle wave of joy wash through her. It tasted faded and fake like it always did-after all, it was synthetic-but at least she wasn't hungry anymore.
Haiven nodded, accepting that in his usual calm way. "Heard there were Skeptics hanging about. They wouldn't dare mess with my place or anyone in it, not with the Neutrality Certification, but you might want to take the roof-road tonight. I wouldn't want that group of pure-supremacy salach'nialhai to give any of my customers any trouble."
"Skeppies aren't what they used to be," Kasha reminded him, impressed with his vocabulary as usual. She hadn't heard that particular Elvish word before. It sounded like 'nightsoil-buggerers,' but she wasn't certain.
He was right of course. When the Winged Knighthood of the angels and dragonkin, the Shifter Alliance of the shapeshifters and were, the Nightwalker Council, the Magic-User Parliament, the Elvish Council of Lords and the City Council all agreed that a place was neutral, anyone sane knew that disturbing the peace would be plain suicide. She bit her lip. But the Skeptics had never exactly given the impression of sanity. Sure, they weren't like they were ten years ago, but they were...
"Plenty dangerous enough, when you get enough of 'em in one place." Haiven was getting his stubborn face on, so Kasha jokingly raised her hands in surrender, banishing her own dark thoughts.
"Fine, fine, I'll take the roof-road." She paid her tab and slipped out the back door, encountering a gangly young guy with freckles, curly red-brown hair, and an innocent face. Even so, she was slightly unnerved when his nervous eyes fixed on her and she caught a taste of despair/desperation/fear.
She walked quickly around the corner, climbing up the fire-escape ladders to the roof, jumped the narrow alley, and headed off. She waved to the family that lived up here, and the one who was awake at the moment waved back, then crouched back down onto his corner and resettled leathery wings.
The roof-road was unnerving for the novice and near-suicidal for the uninitiated. A network of ladders, catwalks, bridges and gangways that connected most of the city's buildings, it was a veritable highway for any knowledgeable person with little fear of falling. She knew the roof-road well, and speedily made her way across the city and back home, jumping from a catwalk to her apartment's tiny balcony. Sighing, Kasha slid open the door, closed and locked it, and drew the thick black curtains, which would keep out the morning light when it came. It was routine now, after six years.
Six years? Was it really? She checked her calendar. Six years ago yesterday, since she was turned into a terulea. Yawning, Kasha headed into the kitchenette and took a bottle out of the fridge, letting it thaw on the counter for her breakfast-to-come. Then she headed into her bedroom, climbed into bed and drifted away. She didn't dream. People like her didn't dream.
He was bright, laughing-blond and confident, singing Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" like he had no cares and no shame, his eyes strayed towards her more times than could be coincidence, and she blushed. Cautiously she approached the karaoke stage.
Before she could put in her request, he had intercepted her, and the look in his eyes made her melt. He didn't use a pick-up line. He didn't need one. One look, and she felt more alive than ever before.
He introduced himself as John Nemis, and he asked her about her day.
Three dates later, he revealed himself as the terul Nemisva and offered her immortality.
Two years later, he died, starved from solitary confinement in a Skeppie holding cell, and there was nothing Kasha could do to save him.