New World, Old Flames

rating: +21+x

A woman in a dark blue traveling cloak sat alone in the bar, apparently oblivious to the time passing around her. Unmoving and seemingly unbreathing, she blended into the bustling scenery of The Never'n Not as though she was carved from the same piece of driftwood as the bar top. Though the cloak was pulled tight around her, onlookers couldn't help but notice the swirling electric blue runes and symbols covering her. From the mug held tightly in her hands, they almost seemed to draw one's eye up her arms, across her collarbones and ending in a blue band running from her forehead to her chin across her left eye.

"Gon' orda anyting else, Daywalla?" asked the barkeep, pausing from cleaning a mug with a very dingy rag.

"Depends. Do you have ouzo? Or really, anything that isn't watery beer or made from potatoes?"

"Depens. Ya alway so picky?"

The woman loosened her grip on her mug. "Sorry. I just… I found out somebody close to me had passed on."

"My condolences." The barkeep raised an eyebrow. "If ya lookin' fa someting ta drink that's more… filling for someun like yourself, might I suggest payin' a visit to the Darkwater Lodge?"

The woman smiled, revealing a long, sharp canine. "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind."

Standing, she slid an ancient gold coin across the bar.

This… This is wrong. Thought the woman as she walked away from the Darkwater Lodge's gates. Tilting the styrofoam cup towards her, she could just see the corner of the IV bag poking underneath the lid. Why would you serve it in a styrofoam cup? Enu Duvernay had recommended she drink it there, but she'd had reservations. Most Karcists she'd known had an unhealthy fascination with what they called, "Night Walkers" or "Blood Striders," and she had long since learned not to trust anyone who's first instinct was to call you a blood strider.

"Come see Steely Dan's House of Greek Artifacts, Roman Trinkets, and Homeopathic Medicines! Untold wonders lie behind those doors! Relics from Ages Forgotten!" The voice of the young crier cut through her thoughts and the bustle of the market. The woman turned to see a boy of no more than ten, standing on a box and waving flyers like a paperboy in turn of the century Manhatten. Crossing the thoroughfare, she looked him over.

"Mornin' mum. Would you like a ticket?"

"I'm not sure. What's in the house?"

"Jus bout everyting'. Is like Ripley's Believe It or Not."

She laughed. "I met Ripley once. Trust me, that's not a nice thing to say about your boss."

"Jus followin' my script." shrugged the boy. "It's two streets over. Can't miss it."

"Well. I'll tell them you sent me."

With its second level jutting out over the street far further than most building codes would have allowed, the woman had no trouble finding her destination. Surrounded by a disorganized mess of semi burnt out bulbs, the only sign simply read;

Stele Dan's
House of Wonders

Pushing through the mahogany door, she walked into the gift shop just as a tour was finishing up. Voice somewhat muffled by a helmet and wearing scraps of armor from across the centuries, the guide dipped into a deep bow and gestured towards the gift shop.

"I must thank you so much for your patronage. I hope you had an amazing time, and the next time you find your curiosity piqued, you know where to find me. Enjoy your time in La Rue Macabre."

The woman leaned on the table as the group shuffled out. Still oblivious to her entrance, the guide stared at the swinging door.

"Not a damn thing. Didn't even look around. Fuck me." He started to pull off his helmet, a hoplite helmet from one of Greece's innumerable wars. "Next tours in fifteen, no, make that twenty minutes, I've gotta get a bite to…" He stared at the woman, mouth open.

"By the Styx, how the fuck are you still alive, Arabel?"

"Come on, Damocles. That's no way to treat an old friend."

After he'd shut down the museum, Damocles ushered Arabel into a room off to the side.

"A curious… occupation to have, Damocles."

Damocles opened up a cupboard. "Actually, I changed it. To Dan."


He laughed. "No. Just Dan. I had to blend in. And I got really sick of people asking 'like the fable?' and whatnot. What did you think of the sign?"

Arabel crossed her legs. "I've been alive for three thousand years and it's one of the worst jokes I've ever heard. I hate it as much as I did your wordplay."

Dan turned to look at her. "So you would have… Pict something different?"

"I am perfectly capable of killing you."

"I'm aware. That's what makes it fun." Dan ignited the stove with a snap and put a kettle on. "So what brings you to La Rue Macabre?"


"And since you're here and not sprinting west, I'm guessing you already…"

Arabel nodded. "One of those Bayou Boys told me what I needed to know."

Dan wore a melancholy smile. "Perhaps it's for the best. This world is no place for old warriors. It's not more civilized, by any means. Just more wrong in ways we could never have fixed."

There was silence for a few minutes before Dan spoke again.

"But what I want to know is how you survived. Last time I saw you, you were holding off the Mad God of War by yourself so everyone else could evacuate the towns and villages… And I felt you die. You were a stellar warrior mage, but just a novice channeler."

Arabel showed him her elongated canines. "Carmilla."

"That's just like fucking vampyres, ruining a heroic death with the curse of undeath." He paused. "No offense."

"None taken. It's not as bad as you think."

"Drinking human blood out of… is that a styrofoam coffee cup? Well, that isn't my idea of a good life."

"I get by. Carmilla runs every blood bank in Europe, so it's not like we're out there killing people."

The kettle whistled and Dan stood up. "I'll sleep easier knowing my long lost friend isn't murdering people in back alleys."

"I've not known you to be one to sleep. Especially with a collection this large to manage."

Dan shrugged. "It started out small. Just trophies and oddities."

"And then it blossomed into what I can only imagine is a health and safety hazard to rival all others?"

"Hey, I've got about a square mile of footage in here. All organized and archived."

"Dear Gods, no wonder nobody bought anything. They had to walk… Well, however long a square mile is in metric."

Dan counted on his fingers and cocked his head at Arabel. "I'm gonna say… maybe twoish square kilometers? I should know this, I was in France when they made the metric system."

"Really? Me too."

Dan smirked and stood as the kettle began to whistle. "I imagine that the thought of necks spurting blood would be hard to resist. What with all the," he made a chopping motion with his hand, "going on."

"Ass. The Court was sending as much food as they could to help the people. I wanted to help and Carmilla wanted to secure an ally with whoever came out on top."

"It's nice to hear that death hasn't cured you of your idealism. But as I was saying, most of the building is my personal collection and library."

"How did you get all this stuff? You never seemed materialistic back in the day." asked Arabel.

"Well, after the day we thought you died, everyone just kind of drifted apart. I guess it's just my way of hanging on to the memories. As for the sheer volume, I followed the seat of power. Athens, Rome, Spain, the British Empire, and now here."

"Just keeping up a collection or?"

"Believe it or not, but I actually am responsible for a good chunk of the surviving Greek and Roman tales. I mean, I didn't write them, but I remembered them and put them places for other people to find."

Arabel chuckled. "Heroic Dan. Keeping the flame of knowledge lit through the Dark Ages… I'm guessing you left us all out on purpose."

Dan didn't respond for a moment. "I… I actually censored somethings. Or kept others. A misattribution here, a name change there."

"I don't blame you."

Dan turned around, holding two mugs of tea. Placing one in front of Arabel, he settled back into his chair. Arabel raised her mug.

"To Absent Friends."

"And the Roads We Walk to Find Them."

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