Logs:Answers in Blood & Ash

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Answers in Blood & Ash


Characters: Aristide & Chloe
Date: 2020-07-12
Summary: A couple of strangers share drinks and some divination.
Disclaimers: Blood.

The crowd is pretty sparse. Covids will do that to a bar. Between social distancing measures for the drunks and a better portion having some good sense to stay home or out protesting, there's an astonishingly few people out and about. One of those people is an older man sitting at a table by himself with a variety of local brews in front of him, each one different from the next and none of them more empty than their neck. There must be eight there. He's dressed in jeans and worn out boots, plain black tee, and despite the heat, a lightweight leather jacket of the moto variety that has clearly seen some better days. Sans mask, he gets a few sideways looks, but with that mug, no one's come to bother him about it, just stew on it from a distance.


Chloe looks like maybe she walked into the wrong bar. Young and cute with brightly colored hair and clothes that don't say I've given up on life doesn't entirely match the gives no fucks vibe of this particular dive, yet here she is, pushing on in and making to the bar. Without a mask on. Well, at least she shares that disregard for her fellow humans with what few others have made it out to Dead Johnny's tonight. In her pink-and-lavender splattered ombre tee with a crescent moon and stars on the front over denim cut-offs, she might not even look old to drink. Still, she makes her way toward the bar. Or, at least, starts to. She pauses on her way, right beside Aristide's table, and asks, "Long night ahead of you?" Says the werewolf to the vampire. Oh, she thinks herself so funny! Just look at that grin!


Aristide's attention lifts from the most recent bottle in his hand, where he had it tipped to study a label nearly as bright as Chloe's, with some hippy dippy 60's theme calling itself Acid Trip billing itself as a witbier, about the time Chloe comes in the door. His eyes track her as she passes by, feeling a certain stirring that was no fun for anyone. It's quieted quick enough, a momentary rustle, around the time she stops beside his table. At the question, he lifts his arm, stretching it enough to get a glimpse at the old watch on his left wrist. How quaint, he uses a watch. "Least a few more hours," sounds like he spent the entirety of his first forty or so years smoking in the bayous. When he sets his arm back down to the table, he looks her over, working his jaw back and forth, considering her shirt a few moments too long. Any thought that he might be staring at her tits so openly might be set aside when he turns the bottle around in his finger and offers it over to her. "Think this might be more your speed than mine, darlin'."


Chloe's darkly lined eyes hold an innocence that isn't all that sincere as she watches the big scary monster watching her, the prickling of her hackles clearly reading 'fun' more readily than 'run.' And why not? This is neutral ground, right? When he offers the beer over, she croons out an, "Aww!" and snags it on her way to dropping down into the nearest seat. "I knew you were a sweetheart when I saw you," precedes her first sniff-and-swig of the beer. Assuming it's not too warm, skunky or otherwise altered, she goes in for another taste before wondering, "Whatcha doin' anyway?"


Aris grins a bit wide at her perception of him, or maybe it's just the scars that make it look too wide. Or the Nos effect. Whichever the case, it doesn't last too long before he lets it go more neutral and takes up something with an overly buxom bear maid on it with an exceptionally German name he couldn't hope to pronounce. He draws it close, loosely ringed in his fingers as she drops down in one of the vacant chairs at his table, there's the two extra with one side of the table up against a wall. "Please, why don't ya join me, make yourself comfy," he chuckles dryly as he lifts the bottle to wash the flavor over his tongue and give it a thoughtful consideration before swallowing it down. "Checkin' out what folks are drinkin' these days," was a quick enough answer. Looking back up from his bottle towards her, he asks, "You gotta favorite?"


"Don't mind if I do," comes with a little shimmy of pastel-clad shoulders as Chloe sinks a little lower in her stolen seat, legs stretching out beneath the table to cross at her ankles. She watches as Aris drinks, decidedly curious, her own bottle hovering part way to her mouth before he looks her way and she realizes she's staring. A wide grin flashed, she gives the bottle a waggle and declares, "Free's nice," before taking a sip. When the bottle comes back down, she tilts toward him a little, letting him in on the secret that, "I usually prefer something a little harder," before straightening with a shrug. "But this's nice. Or maybe a good, grassy IPA that's actually trying to taste like something and not just blow my mouth out with bitterness. Think that dumb trend ended a couple years ago, though. People are remembering that things are supposed to taste like things." With an upnod, she wonders, "How's Miss Big Tits over there?"


There's boots in the way, the table not being all that big, but he instinctively draws them back when they're bumped with the stretch of her legs. They take up a new home crossed beneath his seat, dipping his head in a slow nod of agreement. Free was nice. "I'll bet you just do," comes with another lift of the bottle, pulling a longer swig while she carries on about the IPAs of very recent yesteryear. The initial reaction is just a mildly, quietly horrified furrow to his brow. When he set it down again, he licks the wet from his lips and gives a shrug of one shoulder. "Not much depth," ruled after that deeper consideration, setting the bottle aside. Looking back to her, he asks, "What's got you out here runnin' 'round th'Quarter tonight?"


The barest hint of a smirk acknowledges his quip, a faint flicker of appreciation gone quickly enough that it might've been missed in inspection of the bottle or its contents. "Shame," Chloe chirps the depthless bear-brew as she sizes him up, trying to decide if there might've been double-meaning there or not. Caught staring, studying, she interrupts her inspection with another swig from her gifted witbier and shrugs up one shoulder. As she sets the beer down, she explains, "I've been working on this..." She squints at Aristide, considering. What's the harm. "Ritual, looking for ideas. Stopping by the local shops to see if anything sparks my imagination, but." She holds out both hands, empty, not a bag upon her. "I figure that means something. I don't have the idea straight enough in my head for the pieces to fall in line all nice. So." She plucks up the beer bottle again. "Time to do some thinking."


He doesn't seem to be giving too many hints on how many meanings his take might have, but he does set the bottle aside to instead lace his fingers together on the tabletop. Callused things with quite a bit of dirt around the nails. There is a tick of interest when she reveals her efforts for the evening, a little more forward lean, a little more focus to his attention. "Might know somethin' 'bout those," he tells her without any of her own hesitation. "Hit me with it. What'rya tryin' to will into bein'?"


Chloe considers that forward lean, that uptick in interest. A good sign, right? A hunter knows when she's on the right track, when she's found the next waypoint toward her quarry. He just isn't the guide she'd anticipated, that's for sure. A bit of drinking and rumination, maybe. A run later. Consulting a beer-sampling vampire? Certainly an intriguing prospect. Her expression softens a little, letting the cheeky cheer filter out as she allows the conversation to continue to the more serious. "Prey," she answers quietly and simply. "Direction. Connections? Ugh. And that's the problem, isn't it? I've got this restlessness settling in, and no matter how much I run, how much I hunt, the energy doesn't dissipate. I'm missing something. More than one something maybe. And I'm ready to lay this restlessness to rest and find it."


Initially, there's one brow lifting, but as she elaborates and he grasps the more metaphorical nature of the word prey - or so he believes - his expression shifts to neutral, then a little further to a tight grin and a stifled amused chuckle. He glances down to his hands for a moment when he stars, "C'mon suggie, you don't need a ritual for that." Looking up again he goes on, "There ain't no cure for bein' what...20? 21?" He tips his head a bit, considering her closer, briefly debating if she were even that old before he continues. "Ain't a soul in the world who don't gotta ditch the map and find their own way, and most of 'em manage it fine without a lil voodoo. Even in this city. Might start by askin'...if runnin' an' huntin' ain't workin' no more, why not? What changed?"


Chloe mutters, "Twenty-two," as her gaze averts sideways, slightly self-aware of being called out on her age. There's a quiet huff to go with it, a mark of discomfort at being laid open like this. "Most of 'em aren't also trying to weave a balanced path between here and there," she quips back, without offering any clarity on where either here or there might be. After a few seconds of silence in answer to his question, she frowns and admits, "It's just not enough anymore. I'm getting by on scraps, but I have nothing to really call mine. And mine is kinda an important idea for us. Specially me. Where are my roots, ya know? What tree am I growing? What do I want to grow and guard and feed?" Making a face, a distinct pout, she slumps a little more heavily. "I know I want to be here. In the city. I just don't know what to do with that yet."


"Twenty-two," he echoes with a lightly feigned apologetic tone. "And I suppose they ain't," sounds more like genuine concession, if only a small one. He gives her her time to think on it without relief from his attention, patiently waiting. One side of his mouth ticks up in a small grin at her chosen metaphor. When she slumps forward, he nudges her beer a little closer to her. "Ya start with this." Drawing his hand back to himself, he goes on, "Gettin' ahead of yourself. Roots and trees don't come til ya find and plant th'seed. Years later. You're not lookin' for grand plans, you're lookin' for somethin' small, somethin' with promise, somethin' that makes that lil heart of yours flutter to think 'bout th'maybes." He glances back over her again, starting at her hands, then to a shoulder, to the other, back up to find her eye once more. "How 'bout we see what th'dark's got t'say, hrm?" asked as he reaches for the bottle he'd been nursing and turning it up to suck down the better part of half the bottle yet in a handful of gulps.


Chloe's tee shirt obscures a good bit of her ink, but a few of the more interesting pieces are on ready display: the broken heart near her left eye; the alchemical symbols on her fingers; the pentagram; the red symbol for taurus; the red 'Lover' just below her wrist. A walking advertisement for witchiness. This isn't a new path, a history of commitment written into her skin. Beer nudged her way, she smiles, breathes a quiet laugh and lays claim to the bottle again. She lifts it as he does his, not quite a toast, and works on keeping pace, on matching his consumption. It leaves only a splash in the bottom of the bottle when she's done, which demands another sip until that, too, is gone, the gift enjoyed in full. "You gonna tell me there's no ritual to this?" comes with a grin. "Searching the dark for seeds and somewheres?"


When Aris lowers his bottle, he pushes back his chair from the table. "Just what we're gonna do," he assures her as he gets up. "I'll be just back," added as he heads out of the little dive, some sheathe on his wall side hip visible against his hip beneath his jacket. She'd be able to see him clear enough, ducking out to grab an overflowing ash tray from a table outside recently abandoned. While he's out there, he delivers a smack of his empty bottle to the outer wall of the build, leaving the neck broken off and upper edge jagged. He gets a few stares for it but doesn't seem to give it much mind. When he settles back down, he sets the now cup-like bottle and the ash tray down in front of him. That sheath is fingered and opened, freeing what would prove to be a very simple athame, chipped along the blade but well polished and cared for. Even if the leather is cracking in places on the grip. He flips it around to point down towards the table in his fisted hand, while his other hand reaches out for hers, beckoning fingers calling her hand to his palm. "Won't be needin' much."


When Aris rises, Chloe looks ready to follow, but his words still her. Alright. She watches for a moment, considering that hip-bound weapon, but she doesn't pay much mind to what he does once he's gone. Not when there are maybe half-a-dozen other beers in front of her to consider and sample. She turns the bottles around to face her, picking out one with a pair of crossed hops on a green label declaring itself ENVIE. By the time he gets back, she's already sampled it and decided she'll keep it, the bottle pulled close, separated from the rest of the unconsidered lot. She considers the setup, the blade drawn, recognizing ritual purposes when she sees 'em. If she has any urge to declare him hypocrite, it's stifled by a far larger curiosity, an interest in seeing where this path leads. Even if she croons, "Seems like the sorta thing momma might've warned me about," before another pull from her stolen beer. And an offering of her hand. The left one with all the symbols across her knuckles, with the word Lover on the back.


To be fair, he did say 'need'. And with the 'dark', odds are she wasn't going to get a cure. Maybe a treatment. He takes her hand in his, all lightly warmed with the blush of life, and takes a moment to consider the ink on her fingers, turning it this way and that to consider each one in turn without commentary. Eventually, he sets the tip of the blade to her fingertip, a small twist and pressure to make the tiniest of puncture wounds. Counting on her healing, he keeps the blade pressed to the small cut to keep it open while he squeezes behind it, held over the broken vessel. Once he has just a couple of drops he lets go, and sits back from the table again. He spends a few moments contemplating the small bit of blood left on the blade, refocuses past it towards her, and cracks a new grin when he tucks the tip of the blade past his lips to taste what's left. Or that's what it looks like at first, but then his lips press tight to the flats and it's clear enough from the way his throat and jaw moves, the way his cheeks sort of swell, that he's up to something more.


Fire, air, water, earth, from index finger to pinky on the span between middle and outermost knuckles. On her middle finger, a pentagram above it, nearer her hand, viewed right side up to him, along with the symbols, inverted from the owner's view. A 7 is inked between thumb and index finger on the back of her hand. Her nails have some dirt beneath them, but are otherwise neatly kept, manicured, but not painted. Soft, warm, patient. A curious predator willing to put her hand in the trap to see what lesson she might learn from it. The bite of the blade is expected, but there's still a quiet hiss when the held weapon conflicts with that pinch, a necessity to bleed a swiftly regenerating creature like herself. Smart. With her free hand still around her new bottle, she studies Aris quietly, keenly, big brown eyes waiting for him when he looks past the blade to her, as she nearly mimics his behavior, licking what's leaked from her closing wound. It could be mistaken for flirtation. Hell, it could've been intended as flirtation. But then he starts doing that weird stuff with his mouth and throat, and her brow furrows. "Don't tell me I'm not tasty..."


Ari's attention narrows to her finger when she licks up the little smudge from her finger, briefly, before widening again to take in the entirety of the young woman. He gives a sly wink at her words, doing whatever it is he's doing for a few more moments. When he pulls the blade from between his pressed tight lips, it's more a mess than when it went in, and a tiny dribble of blood trickles down over his lip. He calmly sets the athame on the table, and takes up the broken bottle, leaning over it to open his mouth, to let a mouthful of the stuff roll out over a tongue freshly cut with a couple of slashes crossing from either direction. Though they don't bleed much now, the spill welled and disallowed of his own blood once he'd worked up what was needed for this little spell. Sitting back again, he takes a moment to wipe the back of his hand across his chin and mouth, thumbs across his lips, glances at his hand and then wipes it on his jeans. "Plenty tasty, but not a whole lotta use to me cept as candy," he remarks, a dry humor to this tone.

"Now..." Aris leans forward, one arm curled on the table, the other hand reaching out to pick out a couple cigarette butts to toss aside in favor of taking up a pinch of ash in his fingertips. "What exactly are we askin' th'Dark, darlin'? Whatcha need to get your roots growin'?"


The wink seems to clear up Chloe's concern, however sincere it may or may not have been, inspiring a satisfied smirk as she continues to watch his jaw work. When more blood comes out than went in, her eyes widen a bit, that little trickle over his lip given what may well be undue consideration. Especially when it's followed by more purposeful bleeding over the half-bottle, all sludgy and dark and strange. The sharpness of the grin that meets his quip about her confectionery qualities implies a retort of her own at the ready, but there's work to be done which, instead, gets her focus. "How Luna lead me to such an interesting hypocrite?" she teases, amused by the makeshift ritual lead by the man who told her she didn't need any rituals. Drawing in a deep breath, she considers the question more seriously and asks, "What should I be hunting right now? Or maybe how do I find myself more like you, who understand how to pull answers from blood and dust? Where are my people?"


"Tch," sounded quietly, a bit wet maybe for the red still wet around his teeth, on the back of Ari's teeth as he starts to sprinkle ash on the surface of the blood. "Hypocrite's a strong word." His attention lingers on the surface of the blood while he listens to the more serious answer, his hand reaching out blindly to pick up another pinch, to sprinkle it in, a third before he seems satisfied with what's there and hunkers down more fully over the bottle. It'd be hard to tell from a distance, the minor shifts as he taps into the Beast, the Beast's connection with the void, channeling the eldritch power through his feeble husk-of-a-human body.

The veins around his temples darken while the thin red lines through his eyes all seem to burst, blooming out until the whites are crimson around irises fully overtaken by his pupils peering through the patterns they make on the surface.

It takes roughly fifteen minutes of focused study, tipping his head, shifting in his seat to peer from another angle, always mindful not to touch the bottle itself, ignoring any and all interruptions - clearly relying on her should anyone scoot too close. All in all, it is not all -that- interesting a ritual to watch, right up until it looks like something's delivered a powerful uppercut and his head whips back, his weight falls back in his seat. He shakes his head back and forth, blinking back to reality with a deep slow breath released out.


The first few minutes, at least, are fantastically interesting from Chloe's perspective. Especially whatever that is going on with his eyes. She leans in a little to watch, rapt and silent for... well, quite a while. But then a couple minutes drags into five, eight... ten. She moves on from one stolen beer to another, from keeping to just watching Ari to watching the room once she notices others sparing weird looks for the mismatched pair and the scarred guy's strange behavior. Nothing a few I see you looks can't deter, though that dramatic falling back really undoes all her work, earning another round of curiosity from the few bar-goers who aren't entirely set on just not engaging with anything but their own drinks. But Chloe's looking, too, no longer worried about the rest of the room by that point, staring with wide-eyed interest at Aristide. Waiting. If he doesn't say anything, maybe she'll ask if he's alright, but she can be patient a few seconds longer.


One more shake of his head and a few blinks of his eyes sees them clear up. Mostly. There's still some redness in spots, a more natural bursting of vessels than the wicked work of the blood magic, a drizzle from his right nostril that he snorts back up as he passes a hand beneath it. He clears his throat and casts his eye briefly toward the mortal things around them, a general 'Fuck off'-ness about his glare, a little more wild in the eye than he had been a few minutes ago before this all started. "Fuckin' oath that's always a damn ride," he rumbles more to himself beneath his breath before peering back across the table at her.

He doesn't seem smaller, but he seems...spent. There's more of a slump in his shoulders when he eases forward like he's in pain, resting his weight heavy on his crossed forearms. One more breath and he finds his way to words, sounding someone hollow, like something had been stripped away from him. "Lot of it there ain't words for. Th'Abyss don't talk in these mortal senses - but what I can give words... Deep grave, starin' down into it, there's a person there, somethin' familiar, but they're covered in gleamin' lil jewel bugs with ...twisted lil people faces..." He makes a pinched gesture of one hand towards his face, before continuing, "They all go crawlin' down into the person's mouth, infestin' 'em, changin' 'em from th'inside out into somethin' new. Someone from your past, maybe someone you thought you weren't never gon' see 'gain, they're comin' back and they won't be the same as ya left 'em."

As the thought clears his mind, his brow stays furrowed, staring at the bottle again with utterly normal eyes, sifting through the chaotic remnants of the vision. "There's more, gimme a minute to...chew on it." A vague gesture made at himself while he lets her digest what he's already pulled out of the Nothing.


Concern creases Chloe's features as that initial stirring from blood-dripped reverie sinks into something heavier, into the weight of exhaustion or loss. Some little note is tucked away for later, a thought to share or consider, but it finds no voice now. Not with Aristide moving, talking. The amusement has drained from her face. No more evidence of flirtation or teasing or easy beer-stealing banter. She's focused, intent, invested in the outcome of this unexpected endeavor. Especially now that she's got some small measure of what he's put into it. "Sounds like something finding me more than me finding something," she murmurs for the first bit. "Though, hm." He could mean a new wolf, someone who's undergone the change. Someone she hadn't expected would. That would be a worthwhile hunt, finding someone new who might need her help. "Alright." She can think on that while she waits.


"Maybe so," he nods, distracted still. It's hard to say if Aris has noticed the shift in her own demeanor, preoccupied with the swirl of disjointed images, trying to find words for what fell between the parts he couldn't hope to articulate. He starts off slow when he does find his voice again more fully, easing into a more standard pace. "Silver beams on th'bayou, shinin' bright, carried by the muddy water through all th'twistin' roots, fingerin' out in all different ways. Some ways slow 'n windin', but th'rush of th'current's hard t'fight. It's carryin' 'em away, right up to a clump of bald cypress, naked cept for spider webs 'n hangin' hearts. Th'beams can't shine there, can't break th'shadows without gettin' tangled in th'webs, can't pick th'fruits without surrenderin'." Aris licks at his teeth, at the remnants of his trick left between them, and starts off again more carefully. "You can't help takin' th'rushin' path, and it's gon' cost ya somethin' of yourself, maybe a whole lot more. I can't make sense of it 'nough though to see what y'pick, surrender or lazy streams." His brow furrows when he admits, "Not really up to full steam yet, hazy stuff t'pick through. Been 'bout fifty years since I did that last."


Chloe might be able to make some sort of sense of some of that. Shadows that keep the silver moon out. Somewhere wilder than this little dive in the French Quarter. Might all be metaphor, but sounds like it could be literal enough. "Everything worth having costs something." Whatever else is running through her head at the conclusion, whatever she might wanna pick at or consider, the first question that comes to her lips is, "Why do it now then? For a stranger who steals your beer?" She gives her current bottle a little waggle then takes another swig, already nearly empty from all that time spent watching.


"It does," Aris nods, agrees, quiet and all too knowing. "Th'questions how much, whether it's somethin' you can bear to part with." He sits back from the table, surveying the room and then looking out toward the street. "See if I still got th'knack," wasn't a lie, but it was a little too quick and vaguely evasive to be the whole truth, with his attention turned out towards the meager crowds staggering around the sidewalks. He looks from one passing face to another, for just a few moments before tearing his attention away toward her. "I'm runnin' outta night," offered not-apologetically as he leans up to find his feet. He takes a couple of the remaining bottles and nudges them closer to her. "You enjoy th'drinks now," added when he stuffs his hands into his pockets and without warning or further socially polite exchange, he'd just...walk off, barring any attempts to stop him, to join the flow of the folks outside and down a east bound street out of the French Quarter.


Best not to mention just how much one is willing to give up to vampires. Chloe knows that much, at least, even if Aris has already clocked that she'll offer over her hand and some blood to satifsy her own curiosity in hopes of witnessing an unfamiliar ritual. She smirks for the offered answer. "Guess we'll see." How those visions pan out, whether his interpretation of what he's seen has any legs. When he gets up to go, nudging the beer toward her, she offers, "You wanna go poke through the bayou with me, gimme two days. Night after tomorrow. I'll be here after sundown." No name, no number, no polite exchanges. Just possibility, a means of further pursuing her own growing interest in the stranger with whom she's shared drinks an divination.


He paused a beat when she spoke, head tipped toward his shoulder to listen over it, and a lift of one hand in his pocket. Was that a sure? To quote, guess we'll see.