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Badar Consultant Agency
Co-Writer Blondemaverick*
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#53
1 - Entropic Spiral - 3E
Blondemaverick
Apr 5, 2018
1
0
12
12 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!8Nix0jiZPsezKxrqLHLIposted on PENANA

Present… copyright protection12PENANA5lBaCTJxI4

Coffee. Jesus Christ, I’ve missed good coffee, Jude thought as he took a deep breath over his steaming cup. He lit a cigarette and puffed before he took a swig of the scalding brew. “Fuck me, that’s the stuff,” he whispered out loud. That fancy-nancy espresso machine back in the cell just didn't have the same charm as this cheap french press.. Where the hell did I even get this thing? Can't remember, but that's just--copyright protection12PENANAeQRwoRPHRE

His eyes flicked to the kitchen window as another errant piece of wood clicked against it. The vampire let out a sigh. Glenn’s been chopping wood for six hours now. Thought he’d give up after we ran out of stumps, but he’s moved on to the winter stores. If I don’t do something, he’s gonna go Paul Bunjun on the whole goddamned forest. He took his cup in-hand and pressed a smooth roll between chapped lips. He stood, ventured out onto the porch.copyright protection12PENANA96dUEFlqm7

Woody was stripped to the waist, his black hair pushed back out of his face and pulled into a hair-tie high on the back of his head. He was drenched in sweat, his tanned skin showing traces of gooseflesh. Jude leaned against one of the porch’s dark wooden pillars and sipped at his coffee idly, watching the werewolf situate another half-long on his chopping block. Woody hefted the red emergency ax up and, with a deft swish, brought it up to his shoulder, preparing to swing.copyright protection12PENANA8stKD5DmDm

Funny, seeing The Big Bad Wolf with the ax.copyright protection12PENANAqRdioC9dj1

“Run out of nightstands?” Jude asked.copyright protection12PENANASt86oMLKc8

The ax came down with a brutal sort of whack! and the pine log exploded outward in three pieces that pinwheeled in seperate directions. Woody took a hiccuping step backwards and the ax came free from his grip, stuck in the chopping block. His breath was ragged as he put his hands to his hips and turned to give the vampire an annoyed look. “Don’t do that!”copyright protection12PENANARkBk4eqIB3

“What?” Jude grinned, exhaling a cloud of smoke.copyright protection12PENANA52VikjVuxe

“Sneak up on me like that. You’re lucky the log didn’t hit the cabin!”copyright protection12PENANAwpIEw6qiQC

“Mhmm,” the mage said, sipping his cup. “Coffee’s ready, by the way.”copyright protection12PENANAqIX232htKT

Woody shook his head, turning and gripping the ax handle. “I’ve still got another box to go through. Thanks for the offer, though.”copyright protection12PENANAxQVt8gM4Lj

“No lunch?”copyright protection12PENANAihJ1Vf7mxY

“I’m fine.” He insisted as he pulled at the handle, his muscles bunching up like twisted wire. “Thanks for checking up on me,” he said through his clenched teeth. “Really.”copyright protection12PENANAYYGV1JXidI

“I’m thinking spaghetti for dinner.”copyright protection12PENANAbLy7eHo0L9

“Great.”copyright protection12PENANAk4q35mjdIR

“Maybe with a nice merlot.”copyright protection12PENANAbGPRCQBA9O

“Sounds… good!” Woody cursed as his hands came away from the handle, red. He grumbled a string of curses as he stepped back from the ax, out of breath. He wiped at his forehead and turned toward the vampire, his brow furrowed. “You need to talk?”copyright protection12PENANAilzRtNyROk

And he calls me the perceptive one? “No, just hovering,” Jude mumbled.copyright protection12PENANA08pqcuMvHv

Woody gave him a chiding expression. “Jude.”copyright protection12PENANAmSbcKO3loc

“I’m done thinking… There’re three things I wanted to talk to you about.”copyright protection12PENANAaHyKy1x7Sm

“Not the wolf.”copyright protection12PENANArTvQkHl7c2

The blood mage rolled his glacier-like eyes heavenward. “Okay, two things then.”copyright protection12PENANACyVNKGBO10

The werewolf visibly relaxed. He smiled goodnaturedly. “What’ve you been thinking?”copyright protection12PENANA0cHzWfAumt

“The Red Cleric wasn’t with the blood magi I killed back in the sepulcher…”copyright protection12PENANAQOnlFH20Of

“Red Cleric?” Woody wiped his hands on his pants. “Who was he anyway?”copyright protection12PENANA3qOZezFQnH

“Like I said, I don’t know who they were in The Real…”copyright protection12PENANAQnTxXPNyj9

“Man, woman?”copyright protection12PENANA1aYowD6zDU

Jude shrugged. “I think it was a woman. I only ever communicated with them telepathically. Their thoughts were… ambiguous, I guess you could call it. She was their unspoken leader, but she didn’t impose on their individual pursuits. More like, she was there to make sure those pursuits remained secret from the outside. She was the one who found out I was a vampire. That’s when it all fell apart.” The lies were there, bedded down amongst the truth. He knew Woody wouldn’t notice.copyright protection12PENANAOHlCGAbmqy

“How?” Woody asked. A valid question. A normal, unsuspecting question.copyright protection12PENANA3hWXPTNCr7

“I was asked to her quarters. She offered me wine. I wasn’t thinking straight. I thought I was going crazy. At that point, I felt like a ghost. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that eventually, Jaeborn would See his opportunity to strike and would take it. Maybe then in the chaos, I could… I dunno. It’s not important anymore. The whole reason I wanted to help The Circle in the first place was to…” The vampire trailed off with a shrugand finished off his coffee, pitching the rest of the liquid into the grass off the porch. He set the cup on the safety railing and flicked his cigarette butt into the dirt. Woody waited patiently as he lit another before saying, “I needed to know what I was. I thought delving into new schools of magic would give me some kind of epiphany. Maybe I’d be able to reverse it by figuring out what caused it in the first place.copyright protection12PENANAMthKSOoYn2

“Remember, I couldn’t taste anything. I drank the wine she offered me and the world seemed to… expand.” And the lie remained, sandwiched between all the aberrant truth.copyright protection12PENANATbJfNqQZNh

“She gave you blood, didn’t she?”copyright protection12PENANAxQyuOnnB0P

Invincibility. Power. Influence. Those were secrets you couldn’t hide in a forest of lies.copyright protection12PENANAJMi1xbPVac

“Her own. She was the protector of their little Crimson Circle. She wasn’t just some stock blood mage. Her blood wasn’t just life; it was power incarnate. Then she fell to her knees and kissed my feet.” He huffed a humorless laugh. “Can you see it? I was still reeling from the blood, and then she dropped to mack on my boots. Talk about awkward.” He pulled on his smoke.copyright protection12PENANAX4nHkb8abV

“I can imagine,” Woody said with a wince on the part of the cleric. “So, what then?”copyright protection12PENANArIMZcAnAcn

“Well, I certainly got the respect I thought I deserved after that. Everything was different from then on. I had whatever I wanted. I learned… more than I ever should have. But they still didn’t… The only books they had on the subjects I wanted to pursue were doctrine. Basically painted vampires as gods in flesh, neither living or dead, simply divine.” Jude snorted. “Right. Divinity… Even if it’s not true, it makes a little sense. Most deities in the literary sense are total dicks. Either sleep around, create chaos, or fight among themselves. And, as for the big kahuna Himself? Well, he does seem to suck the fun out of his follower’s lives.”copyright protection12PENANApVaIWIUMD4

Woody huffed a laugh, smiling. But then his face took on a troubled expression. “You didn’t… want any of it, right? You said they were persuasive, but you didn’t believe it.”copyright protection12PENANAYB9mjtyrDJ

Jude sighed. “It wasn’t about what I wanted or believed. It was about what they thought I wanted. And… yes. That included feeding people to me as a rite of passage.”copyright protection12PENANAm4r84EIsfV

“You didn’t do it though… did you?”copyright protection12PENANAQFR0oNIizm

I’m not a saint, the vampire thought. But I can’t lie to him to put his conscience at ease. I can’t lie to him to reassure him that he made the right decision by rescuing me. Jude closed his eyes and took a long drag on his cigarette. He opened them to see Woody’s face twisted into a look of shock. Well, I don’t have to say anything, do I? He did anyway. “I buried children for them--children that had been tortured to death. When they brought people to me to drain, I thought… it was better than watching them get stretched apart. Giving them their great and honorable death seemed like a mercy…”copyright protection12PENANAmyXwUgZsIC

Woody looked away from him. No, don’t, Jude thought. Don’t leave me here… He mentally brushed against the werewolf’s mind, but he was surprised to feel understanding there. It wasn’t a pitying kind either. It was a sad sort of empathy; a regret-filled one. That was when the vampire remembered that Woody himself had killed out of necessity before. He’d killed dozens in the past when he’d been a captive of Black Heart. He had put other prisoners out of their misery to save them from the cruelties of the mad vampire.copyright protection12PENANAc4HDcLiVdx

The werewolf met his eyes and nodded stoically. “I’m sorry,” he said, a muscle in his neck pulling taunt as he chewed the inside of a cheek. Then he said, “You did what had to be done.”copyright protection12PENANAQ3dH4BvNT5

“I wish I hadn’t, but it… It did make me stronger. That’s what I regret. That I didn’t suffer when I killed them. I benefited from it. That’s not how I was taught.” Jude frowned. “Everything I’d learned about blood magic in Mardenhar was found in The Way of Sacrifice. Those cell magi--even though they had their reasons--I’m starting to hate them. There’s a part of me that still thinks that I was a part of them, and that I became what they wanted me to become… But since I’ve been thinking, I feel better when I hate them. I feel more and more like what I did was right--that it was all worth it in the end--since all thirteen of them didn’t leave that place alive.”copyright protection12PENANA9gE7MyoL16

Woody gave him a thoughtful sort of look. “You want to go after the other cells.”copyright protection12PENANAodb5RnQaj4

“I do,” Jude agreed seriously. “The Red Cleric is still alive. As long as she walks, the Crimson Circle will survive in Dareklind and more people will die… and I can’t live knowing that I helped them.” Live? I am alive, aren’t I? The vampire looked down at the cigarette in his hands. His skin was wax white, slightly wrinkled like mummified flesh. He knew that even a mouthful of blood would pull the flesh taunt again and ease the ghostly absence he felt in his gut. He knew that. I am alive, he thought again. I never thought I’d feel that way again, but I am. As long as Woody is here, I know I haven’t completely fucked it up. As long as he’s still here, I know I have a chance to make things right. I have a chance at redemption… and he knows that too, doesn’t he?copyright protection12PENANAI98VRcwn0q

Woody smiled, the wrinkles at the corners of his gold eyes showing for once. He shrugged. “Well, you know I’ve got your back. Just know I’m not letting you go alone this time. Can we agree that splitting up was probably the worst idea?”copyright protection12PENANAt9G7htGGfI

“Hindsight’s twenty-twenty, old man,” Jude said with a sigh. Then he nodded. “Together.”copyright protection12PENANANDWYINmyYF

“What was your second thing?” Woody asked.copyright protection12PENANACHPKCHX95X

“Talking point number two.” Jude grabbed his mug off the railing before he said, “While we hunt down the cells, Jaeborn is going to be on us like stink on garbage. I’d like to avoid absolutely destroying him. His is one of three martial Circles in Dareklind’s Circle of Magi. If his Woden witches get in my way, I will go through them like tissue paper. If that happens, The Circle in Detroit could swoop in to… assist. Next thing you know, they’ll be banning supernaturals in Dareklind like they do in The Motor City. Next step, Lady Columbia steps down and Detroit settles in to anex. Let’s avoid that.”copyright protection12PENANAAy7hFpKm5Z

“Noted. Don’t kill any magi. We’ve been under the radar before. We can do it again.”copyright protection12PENANA4TC0SkOfTN

“The difference is, they know about us now, Woody. They will be looking for us… Is there anything or anyone they could use to flush us out?” Jude asked. This is your chance, Glenn. Come clean. “Ally’s too far away, and she’s more paranoid than I am. Bianca’s with her son, somewhere in Italy for all we know… Think.”copyright protection12PENANAUwuKg7sehx

The werewolf turned his back on the vampire. “Your parents.”copyright protection12PENANAcR5j8LIS8O

“I know it’s hard, but could you not be stupid? You know they’d be doing me a service by killing my parents.” He has to say it, Jude thought. He has to admit to me that he’s never told me about her… and he has to explain why.copyright protection12PENANAScIudAP2PI

Woody looked back at him, his face carefully neutral. “Who are you thinking of then?”copyright protection12PENANAPKekvvrXKI

Jude shook his head, flicking the butt of his smoke into the brush. He lit another cigarette.copyright protection12PENANAuWzAfIlYAu

“Jude…”copyright protection12PENANAMtGuXU5NXV

“They’ll find her, you know,” the vampire said passed the filter. “They will.”copyright protection12PENANAvNFK7agz80

Woody hesitated before shrugging. He turned back to the ax lodged in the stump and wrapped his hands around it. “How did you know?”copyright protection12PENANAhCWRcczyaa

“Bianca’s one of my best spies,” Jude said plainly, but when Woody glared at him, he put up his hands in surrender. “She overheard you on the phone about two months back.”copyright protection12PENANA2XDJsBExoB

“Why didn’t you ask?” the werewolf wondered aloud after a moment of thought. He grunted as he strained against the ax handle, putting a boot against the wood. It didn’t seem to help.copyright protection12PENANAsUp8EwjU5r

“You’d’ve told me if you trusted me,” Jude said evenly.copyright protection12PENANAVn3Rfg3PPd

Woody let go then, stumbling back a couple steps. He let out a breath and turned to the vampire. “I trust you, kid… I do.” When Jude only stared at him, Woody threw his hands up in defeat. “Can I explain after dinner?”copyright protection12PENANAZSbDCDegaD

“Yes.” The Holland boy turned with a small smile, rounding into the house, trailing smoke. “Oh!” He turned to look over his shoulder. “One last thing…”copyright protection12PENANASDxhLcO47U

“What the fuck is it now?” Woody asked, his discomfort getting the better of him.copyright protection12PENANAv2izUxQXmF

“It’s not about the wolf,” the vampire prefaced. “But… Normally, when you’re this close to the moon, you look more wolf-like when you’re transformed. But you were still able to speak in the sepulcher.” He twirled his mug by its handle boredly.copyright protection12PENANAblymZa0dra

Woody shrugged. “Steroids,” he said with a small smirk. It was a simple explanation.copyright protection12PENANARkOoCzBqEI

“Hm,” the younger man said, exhaling over his roll. “Alright then.” His free hand went into his slacks pocket and he turned to go inside.copyright protection12PENANAlaLDKFaADx

“Hey,” Woody called after him. He looked over his shoulder once more. “We will talk about the wolf later too. It goes hand-in-hand with her… You know how overwhelming things can be when you feel like you’re not in control. Can you let me explain myself in my own time?”copyright protection12PENANAgOTObSYb6q

Jude smiled. “Of course.” Fucking prick, the vampire grumbled internally. He really knows how to hold one in suspense, doesn’t he? “I can be patient… unlike someone I know.”copyright protection12PENANAmXKbmmLXNp

“You're not that patient. And I prefer the term restless.”copyright protection12PENANAG8ArLk6WVJ

“Who said I was talking about you, Mister Nightstand-Slayer?”copyright protection12PENANAtbymZKfYWl

“I resent that, y’know.”copyright protection12PENANAoji8uEvfBi

“I need a haircut too,” Jude said.copyright protection12PENANAFhqfIcAP9v

“Christ…” Woody said under his breath. “You’re really asking a lot of me.”copyright protection12PENANAzCG7ZGSeEO

The vampire flashed him a fanged smile before the darkness of the cabin enveloped him.copyright protection12PENANAz37ScCwHR8

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