The deafening beat of techno metal shook the nightclub and everyone in it. The frantic and heavy rhythm seemed to incorporate itself into everyone's very being until it felt that their own hearts were pounding to the rhythm. The clubbers down in the mosh pit were driven into a blood drenched frenzy by the band’s music. Those who weren't busy throwing themselves against each other were dancing on the barely less manic dance floor, or sat down in booths shouting conversation, draining donors or getting high on Blood Lotus.
A young man was trying to push his way through the insane crowd, blinded by the flashing lights, deafened by music and choking on the Blood Lotus fumes.
Dead Pulse was a nightclub for the more violent, less stable members of the Order, and just so happened to be the favourite hang out of Ambrosia. While Logan Warrick was the founder and ‘leader’ of the Order, it was his wife, Ambrosia, who gave the orders and turned a small time vampire gang into a force strong enough keep the Pack in check. It was her discovery of the Blood Lotus that funded the Order and made them important to the Mob. If there was anything that the Order needed, it was her you spoke to.
After struggling through the violence of the dance floor the man finally reached the back door where a guard in a black suit and tie was standing.
“I need to speak to Ambrosia!” The young man shouted up to the behemoth, but he couldn't even here his own voice through the music. How would the guard hear him?
“Password!” The guard bellowed back. Apparently he could lip read and had a set of lungs to rival Krakatoa.
“Password?” The man replied.
“Can't let you in without the password.”
“Look, I don't know the password, but I think Ambrosia’s going to want to know about this.” He said and pulled something from his bag and showed it to the guard
The guard raised an eyebrow. He stood aside to reveal a door. “Second door on your left. Knock and wait to be let in.”
The young man nodded and stepped through the door into a narrow hallway. When the door closed behind him the noise lowered considerably and he was finally able to hear himself think. He quickly rubbed his ears and waited for the ringing to stop before continuing down the hallway. The first door on his left appeared to lead to the unoccupied DJ booth, and the second had a plaque reading ‘Private’ on it. The young man hesitantly knocked on the door three times. After a moment the door clicked as it unlocked, then opened to him. He was ushered in by a blond man dressed in a burgundy suit. The room was far cleaner than the club, there was less blood for starters. A speaker in the corner was playing the same song as what was in the club, but no where near as loud. On a table was a hookah, which clearly contained Blood Lotus, and smoking it was Logan Warrick, or rather he had been smoking it. He was sprawled out on a sofa with the hookah’s hose hanging in his hands and his eyes flickering as he experienced the mother of psychedelic trips.
“He never has had a high tolerance to the stuff.” A woman sat opposite Logan informed the curious man. She must have been Ambrosia. He had seen some bizarre people in Umbranfield before, but none quite like Ambrosia. Her Mohawk (which actually wasn’t that uncommon) faded from white into black, and had a crown tattooed on the side of her head. The rest of her body was covered in tattoos. One that stood out in particular was a bow and arrow. Her clothes were little more than leather straps and belts, letting her show off her tattoos while hiding the important parts. When she stood up she towered over the young man thanks to her platform boots. The way she leered at him through her pale yellow contact lenses made him shiver. “Now then, why are you here?” Ambrosia asked.
“I have some news you may not like.” He gulped.
“Then you have some balls bringing it to me. What is it?” She tilted her head to the side.
The young man was about to speak, but then quickly ruffled through his messenger bag.
“I think it’d be better if you saw it.” From his bag he pulled out a flyer and held it out to Ambrosia. She raised an eyebrow at it before snatching and reading it. As she did her eyebrows narrowed and her teeth gritted.
“That little bitch.”
“So you want to join The Family?” Priscilla asked the newest potential member of her clan, leaning forward in her throne with interest.
“Er, yeah.” He replied. “Back in the US we have whole vampire lifestyle and clan thing, but it's nothing like how it is over here.” He smiled nervously.
“Yeah, well Umbranfield is a unique city.” Priscilla smiled. “We just have a few questions and requirements before you can officially join.”
“Oh? Like what?”
“Well, knowing your name would be a good start.” Mary told him as she stood by the throne.
“Oh, yeah. My name’s Danial Bow. Do I need a vampire name or something? Sorry, I've never actually joined a clan before.”
“That's up to you.” Priscilla smiled warmly. “Just don't pick anything too flashy and over the top like Orpheus or something.”
Suddenly, the door to the church swung open and a woman in platform boots and flanked by two men barged into the Family’s lair.
“Speaking of over the top.” Priscilla grinned. “Come on in, Ambrosia.” She called to her former leader. “I've been wondering when you'd be by.”
Ambrosia marched into the middle of the room and inspected the place. Despite Ambrosia’s best efforts to hide it Priscilla could see she was impressed. Clar and Chris sat silently on a sofa, though Chris cringed as he noticed the blond man accompanying Ambrosia. The man winked at Chris and puckered his lips mockingly. Chris coward a bit more and the man smiled cruelly at the sight. The newest members backed away from the intimidating woman, and the former Order members hoped and prayed that she didn't recognise them.
“I must say, this is a nice place you've got here, Priscilla. It must have cost you a pretty penny.”
“Yeah, well real estate is cheap in Umbranfield. One of the few advantages of living somewhere with a high crime rate.”
“And the décor?”
“Custom made. One of our members is a very resourceful person, and multitalented. He's a musician, sculpture, artist, and he can be very… persuasive. Speak of the devil…”
“…And he doth appear.” A deep voice carried on the idiom behind the unwelcome guests.
Slowly Ambrosia and her two goons turned to face the voice cold like winter.
A pale man dressed in black smiled down at them grimly, piercing eyes nailing them down to the spot. Priscilla could swear that he seemed taller than before.
“My, my…” Ambrosia smiled. “Priscilla, I see you got yourself some eye candy. So, what's your name?”
“I'm Ruthven. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” He greeted her.
“Handsome and polite.” Ambrosia said as she circled Ruthven, taking him in while her goons remained pathetically still. “I'm surprised to find someone like you among these children. Did you really decorate this place?”
“Yes, I also keep it free of unwanted guests.”
“Really? A bouncer? Why don't you leave these brats and join the Order?” Ambrosia leaned close to Ruthven. “We could use someone with your… talents.” She whispered in his ear seductively and threateningly. “And you’d get some great benefits from joining. All the blood you can drink and all the Blood Lotus you can smoke. And me, if your lucky.”
Ruthven shrugged Ambrosia off him, with some force if her gasp and stumble was to believed. No one in the room seemed able to believe his brazen treatment of one of Umbranfield’s most powerful people.
“As tempting as that sounds, I'm afraid I'll have to decline. You see I have sworn to serve Priscilla and her Family. And I take such oaths and promises very seriously. Besides, Priscilla has something you are lacking.”
“And what would that be?” Ambrosia snarled. Ruthven simply looked at her side on and smiled more broadly. Ambrosia growled in frustration and her glare shifted to Priscilla, who shrugged innocently. “Fine. Don't tell me.” Ambrosia marched towards the exit and her goons quickly followed. “You're all going to regret forming your little ‘Family.’ Especially you, Priscilla.”
With that threat she suddenly froze to the spot. Ruthven slowly turned around walked towards the rude woman, and with every step he seemingly grew taller and taller until when he finally reached her Priscilla could swear he was twice Ambrosia’s height. All the while that smile was strapped to his face. That warm, kind, horrifying smile. He leaned down close to Ambrosia until their faces were barley an inch apart. Ambrosia trembled, eyes wide and irises shrunken as that man, that thing grinned at her and his eyes filled with flames. Not a sound penetrated the air as a single bead of sweat broke out from her forehead, and slowly, so slowly, descended down her face and fell from her chin.
“Please leave.” Ruthven whispered a thousand threats in those two words.
With that Ambrosia silently departed with her men. The door shut, and its light tap finally brought sound back to the church.
Ruthven turned back to his mistress.
“What on earth was she wearing?” He asked embarrassedly.
“A gimp suit.” Priscilla mocked.
“Shit fashion sense aside, Ambrosia is going to be a problem now that she knows about us.” Mary pointed out. “Even more after that. I hope you have a plan, Priscilla.”
“Of course, I do.” Priscilla replied.
“Then let's hear it.”
“You don't have a plan do you?” Mary sighed.
“I have a plan! I just can't discuss it at the moment.”
Ruthven noticed the ill mood that Chris was in, sitting huddled on the sofa. “Are you okay, Chris?” He asked.
“Yeah, I'm fine. I just need to lie down for a while.” He replied unconvincingly. The boy got up and went off to one of the side rooms where there would be a bed waiting for him.
When he had left Ruthven looked to Priscilla for an answer.
“The blond bloke with Ambrosia was Chris’ ex, Beck.” She sighed. “You've probably noticed that Chris is a bit submissive. Let's just say that Beck took advantage of that submissiveness a bit too much. The fact that the sadistic fuck got Chris hooked on Blood Lotus doesn't help.”
“It's a plant that Ambrosia discovered. It can be refined into any number of drugs, and its addictiveness and effectiveness varies from person to person. I personally never found myself craving another hit, nor did I ever get that high on the stuff. In Chris’ case he could be spaced out for hours on end. He’s never really gotten clean either, thanks to that twat.
“Anyway, I need to speak to those of you who were members of the Order. The rest of you should go home.” Priscilla told everyone. Those who were new to Umbranfield and its warped vampire subculture began to leave. “Oh, and Danial.”
“Welcome to the Family.” Priscilla smiled broadly.
The dark clouds of the night sky began to brighten, for what it was worth, as dawn approached. Priscilla and Mary were the last to leave. They didn't need to lock up, of course. Any intruder would be swiftly dealt with.
“Y’know that is hardly a plan, right?” Mary pointed out as they began to walk home.
“Glad to see you're so confident in me.” Priscilla replied sarcastically.
“Fight and expand is hardly a plan.”
“I prefer simplicity. Besides, I thought you would have noticed the number of former Order members who have joined us. All of them have experience in fighting, plus we have Ruthven. We simply need to find a better source of income than membership fees. Until then we can put any abandoned buildings we find to better use, have Ruthven spruce them up for us, too.” The two vampire friends made their way down an alley which they took often to get home.
“Any ideas for this better source of…” Mary stopped suddenly.
“What is it?” Priscilla looked down the alley. A dark silhouette stood under a flickering light and leaned against the wall. The girls could feel their eyes on them. Something was off.
“I'm sorry about this.” He said. A pair of hands grabbed hold of Priscilla from behind, and a second seized Mary. Before either girl could cry for help moist rags were forced over their noses and mouths, muffling their screams. Despite their struggles they both succumbed to chemical and darkness blanketed their minds. Their lasts thoughts were of what was going to happen to them.