Blogophilia 40.10 – Zuri part 1
It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog.This week’s prompts are:
My hard drive is still unusable – aka it still says it needs to be formatted – which means I can’t get to any of my files. Luckily I’d emailed myself my Amaranthine notes last February, so I was able to get back to the executioner stories. That’s something at least. Now I just need $1700 to pay to get my files recovered from the hard drive. (yikes!)
We’re starting a new story this week. it takes place during Heart if the Raven (the fifth book in the series). The events he talks about happened at the end of book 4 (Ashes of Deceit).
Zuri watched the snowflakes drift from the sky like soft puffs of feathers. From fallen angels, he thought absently, and as quickly dismissed the thought. It was depressing, like so many of the thoughts he’d had lately. Apparently even a walk outdoors wasn’t enough to distract him.
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and thumped his way back towards the building marked “Office”. Small and white, it sat in a grain elevator complex, surrounded by towering silver bins, a collection of metal buildings, and several seed company signs. Train tracks zigged through the back of the property, left from days when grain came by rail car. An unused spur, it now sat under the snow, quietly rusting away, a symbol of different days.
Ugh! Can I get more depressing?
Zuri kicked a clomp of snow, as if it was the cause his problems, then shuffled into the office. A vampire with the heather skin if a famer, and a hat to match, sat behind the desk. With a nod, he pressed the button that would unlock the not-so-secret door to the citadel, home to the country’s vampire government, among other things.
Other things like the Executioners, he thought glumly. Until his last assignment he’d been one of them, an elite soldier who acted as policeman to the vampire population. But then he’d been taken prisoner, had his arms ripped off, and been held captive for twelve days.
Not taken prisoner, abandoned by that bitch, Senya. If she was still here…
The thought fell to nothing because she wasn’t. She’d left with Malick, in a spectacular revolt that Zuri had missed. And even if she had been there, what would he have done? Killed her? Not that she didn’t deserve it, but the punishment for that would be unthinkable.
Worse than twelve days captivity.
Zuri trooped into the back room of the office, where the shiny silver door waited. More sci-fi than rural, it was hardly disguised in a seed shop. That the humans who worked the office didn’t know about the vampires beneath them was impossible. Pure Guild propaganda, designed to make the immortal visitors feel more at ease.
They don’t want them to worry about humans sneaking down during the day and slaying everything in sight.
Through the shiny door was a set of stairs that led to what had once been a welcome room. Now it was a disaster, roped in caution tape and marked by shattered walls and leftover rubble, the aftermath of that missed revolt. Most of the top two floors were that way, with damage going all the way down to the bottom level. He could only imagine what it had looked like at the time.
At least the elevators are working, he thought as he stumped towards them. Though he had no idea where he was going to go. He couldn’t stand to go back to his den and stare at the wall. When faced with the buttons, he hit the first floor and leaned back against the wall as the car descended. Maybe he could find a distraction in the public areas.
When the doors swished open, he exited and made his way down a corridor. The fighting hadn’t reached the shopping area, and vampires moved through it with bags and smiles, as if nothing had ever happened. Zuri surveyed the shops, and the shoppers, before he rejected them both.
With nowhere else to go, he headed for a nightclub. Though it seemed like the anti-thesis of what he craved, there was a certain method to the madness. He wasn’t interested in the neon light atmosphere, but this early in the night, it should be empty. It would be somewhere different to sit, at least, something different to look at than his own furniture.
It had been years since he’d been there. The blur-lit hallway was certainly new, as was the black gauze curtain over the door. Inside was just as different. Bright neon lights lit an empty stage and shone on a polished bar and empty tables. Just as he thought, the only occupant was the vampire behind the bar, who was busy wiping glasses.
Who will want to talk, Zuri thought bitterly. Bar tenders always wanted to talk, even if they were just slinging flavored blood. Better to take a table. Maybe that would keep chattiness at bay.
But probably not. Hell, he might as well just nip it in the bud and sit at the damn bar.
He took a stool, and the bar tender gave him a nod. Zuri waited, but the other vampire didn’t speak, only hummed to himself as he finished his task.
The glass clean, he deposited it on a tray, and then turned to his customer. “What can I get you?”
“Do you still have cinnamon and sugar mix?”
The vampire flipped dark hair out of his eyes. “We have any flavor you want.”
He busied himself with mixing the blood drink, and Zuri leaned his elbows on the bar. How long would it be before the guy was asking him questions and acting friendly? That’s what they all did, pretended to be your friend. He didn’t need any friends right now.
What I need is to be reinstated.
The bartender deposited a glass on the bar. “There you go, sir.”
Zuri tugged out the fancy swizzle stick and downed the dink in a gulp. It tasted close to what he remembered. Maybe a little more sugar next time.
“Another?” the bartender asked.
Zuri mumbled but nodded, and soon he had a second drink before him.
If only there was alcohol in this. And if only alcohol still affected me.
The bar tender went back to his glasses while Zuri sipped his drink. He watched the other vampire; watched the sure quick motions of the rag over the glass. How long would it be before the chattering started?
Maybe I should just get it over with.
“You worked here long?”
The bartender paused his work to shrug. “A year.”
“I didn’t think you looked familiar.” Zuri took another drink. “I haven’t been in here in a long time.”
“You should come back when the show’s going.” The bartender nodded towards the stage. “This month we have Lua the bodacious burlesque temptress.”
Zuri cocked an eyebrow. “And is she really a temptress?”
“She’s not bad looking, if that’s what you mean. She has an entertaining routine. Strips down to nothing but you never see a thing. She uses giant fans.” He held his hands out to indicate the sheer size. “Covered in feathers and such. She cleans up in tips.”
Zuri grunted. “I’m surprised you’re having shows.”
“Oh?” He blinked, then seemed to understand. “You mean the attack? Nah, it never reached here.”
“I heard there were a lot of casualties.”
“Now that’s true. It was a shame.” He paused, then added, “You weren’t here for it?”
Zuri glared at nothing. “No.”
“Be glad you missed it. I’ll remember the screaming for the rest of my life.” The bartender turned back to his glasses. “If you want to know about it, though, shouldn’t be hard to hear the stories. Everybody’s talkin’.”
Zuri finished his glass and motioned for a third. When it was delivered, the bar tender grinned. “You must like that.”
“Maybe.” Or maybe I like it better than staring at the same four walls.
“As long as you keep buying.” The bartender laughed. “I have to pay the bills.”
Zuri stirred the drink listlessly. “You own the place?”
“Yep. Bought out the previous owner last year.”
But if he’d only been there a year, that meant he’d come to the citadel and bought the place right off the bat. Why? What possessed someone to want to serve other people? Unless it was a holdover from his human days. “Did you own a bar before?”
“Nah. I just saw the listing and thought why not? You only live once.”
Zuri shrugged a response.
“That’s what my mom said to me,” he added. “She said I might as well because-”
“Because you only live once,” Zuri muttered. “You have your mother?”
Zuri rolled his eyes. “I mean that she’s with you, in immortality.”
“Oh. Yeah. She’s the one who turned me, actually.”
Zuri made a noncommittal noise and wondered how that worked out. To have your mother- or any blood relative – as a constant companion. His own master had been a brief blip in his life, a bored vampire who’d turned him for a distraction and then wandered off after two years. Zuri hadn’t seen him since, though he assumed he was still alive somewhere, even more bored than he’d been.
And now for guesses:
- Hold me, thrill me 2. sumo 3. who needs a hug? 4. Can I cry on your shoulder? 5. Lean on me 6. I think I’m turning Japanese 7. Big in Japan 8. Life in Tokyo 9. Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting 10. ninjas 11. Okay, they’re sumo wrestlers. 12. You won;t see that on WWE. 13. Let’s get ready to rumble! 14. the big squeeze 15. big hug 16. bear hug 17. or bare hug (ha ha) 18. can I have this dance? 19. put your head on my shoulder. 20. nap time.