An Interesting Game
He’s played this game of death for so long, it’s become his whole lifestyle now.
But nothing more, really. It’s a game. A sick, twisted game to pass the eternity.
Mordecai clung onto his severed arm, stomping through the snow as the bone, muscle, and skin slowly reconnected. Breath heaving, an unwelcome thirst grew with each healing tissue. His blood loss was stirring up quite the appetite. Bloodstains were flowered across his white poet shirt, which he would find a welcome sight if it were on anyone but himself.
In the distance: smoke, fire. He didn't particularly care about whatever disaster was happening though, as he had trudged quite a ways into the woods and was too tired to care.
A light snowfall filled the air. He collapsed under the shelter of some fallen trees near the assaulted city, growling a little as the thirst clawed up his throat. He would likely need to run soon anyways before someone found him, but for the time being, he would need to wait and heal.
But all too soon, small, rapid footsteps headed his direction. He looked up in time to see a body in a dull violet cloak trip into the snow.
‘Another vampire...guess I can't be too picky.’
The silver-haired figure picked herself up, but stopped abruptly seeing Mordecai on the ground. He returned the expression of mutual shock.
"Galea, Mordecai...what are you doing here!?"
He laughed, "I could ask you the same, Your Highness. What're you doing, abandoning your people out there?"
She huffed, pulling up her hood, "It's none of your business, cretin."
"Oh, would you like me to spread rumors about how the majestic Queen Charlotte ditched her people in the midst of warfare?" He grinned as she grit her teeth. "That'd be awfully bad for your reputation."
"Rrrgh...fine! I'll tell you, but don't you dare cause any trouble for me!" She took a deep breath, "I...I've been...overthrown…. Don't grin like that!!"
"Haha, is that so?"
"Shut up! I still have enough power to report you and have you executed!"
"You wish. A queen without her court is nothing." He patted the ground beside him, "You're no better than me now. Come, sit."
"I am not nearly as lowly as you!!" She huffed, only inching forward enough to be out of sight.
"Aw, she's in denial. Pick a fight with me then, see how it goes," he chuckled.
"I...I don't need to!"
"You can't," he corrected, "because you always make everyone else pick up your slack. Come, sit. Before I change my mind and spread the news through the Underground."
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Have you forgotten who I am already?"
Clenching her fists, she finally gave in and plopped down across from him with her arms crossed. If her searing glare could have melted the snow, she would have already revealed the grass beneath it.
"Not my fault you're a wimp."
"Shut it! I'm not sitting here because we're on the same level!"
"Fair enough. You're not nearly impressive enough to be on the same criminal tier that I’m in."
"Oh please. You wish you were as highly revered as I was."
"Was. Where did that confidence get you? Looks like you're enemy number one now."
She fell silent, her glare even harsher than before.
"Poor thing. You're not gonna survive out here running solo."
"Don't tell me the mighty queen of this place is scared all of a sudden?"
Still no answer.
"I should leave now before they decide to come and finish you off."
He stood, but as he was about to scurry off in search of a meal, she grabbed his hand, "Wait! At least take me with you!"
"Mm? Why should I?"
"We're both labeled as criminals now! So...we should stick together!"
"You know good and well they'll forget all about someone so insignificant in due time. What exactly do you think is gonna happen if you stick with a man who's a wanted criminal in both worlds?"
She pursed her lips.
"What do you really want?"
"...Let me go with you!"
"Why?" He waited for an answer. "Clearly you're not in a situation to spare your pride. Out with it."
"I...I want you to protect me!"
"Ha!" He laughed. "What's in it for me? I'll just drag you through the same mud I'm in."
"I can pardon your crimes!" She said quickly, "I should have enough time if I act quick enough to put in a word with the other higher ups. If I do it today, they should get it before they hear word that I'm not in power anymore."
He stopped, "...And why would you do something so gracious for me?"
"Because I…" she groaned, "I...I deserve a protector!"
"Bullshit. You're just a coward that can't get by on her own." He shook her hand free and started off.
But she scrambled to her feet and seized his arm, looking up to his eyes at least a foot higher than her, "Wait! If you get a pardon, you'll be welcome back into vampire society again!"
"And why would I want that?" He said, watching her shrink back. "Besides, I'll still have a reputation over my head. I'd rather be a killer than a subdued lapdog."
"But you can redeem your name!"
"Why would I want to? You think I don't enjoy my life the way it is?" Charlotte shrunk back further. "Look in the mirror. Some people enjoy being a bastard. It's a game we play."
"But what happens when that game gets you killed?!"
Mordecai gestured to his shirt, "Then I die."
Being dragged through the snow, she clung to his arm, "But you can find solace in our society again! If you're with me, no one will mess with either of us!"
"We can make up for what we've done! We can walk our own streets whenever we want!"
"You really think a serial murderer gives a damn about what other people think about him? I have my life and solace in the Underground, thank you."
"You're never gonna get another chance like this!!" she shrieked helplessly. "You could still join the rebellion if you want!"
"I don't care about their "forward" bullshit."
"Wasn't there a human you ever cared about before?!"
"If you're pardoned, you can work towards that stupid future the rebellion wants! You can live amongst the people you care about!"
Hesitating, he thought back to a very, very distant past. A past likely about as old as the now-fallen Queen. "...I don't have anyone I care about anymore."
"What if you find someone new?"
"There was someone, wasn't there?" She furrowed a brow as he met her pleading eyes. "Is this what they would have wanted?"
"He's not even here anymore."
"But is this what he would've-"
"They took him away from me," he fumed. "Humans took him from me because vampire law gave us no sanctuary. You are the one that caused that." He pointed a stern finger in her face. "So I'll enjoy watching you die on the streets like the people under your so-called 'rule'. It's about time you were overthrown."
Stunned, she watched him turn away from her. "...I can make up for that! I will!”
He grew further away.
“I can! I’ll do better for this stupid future if that’s what it takes!!"
And further away.
“RRRGHH…please! Just hear me out! I can change!!”
“But let it be under one condition!”
With a sigh, he decided to humor her, "What condition?"
"You have to...be my protector." She kept a fierce posture, knowing full well that he was thinking something along the lines of 'I knew it’.
"...And why should I do that?"
"Because you’re strong. And people fear you. And...my pardon would hold weight."
He blinked, "...They're gonna buy that a Most Wanted in both worlds is suddenly good because he's protecting a fallen tyrant?"
"Well…" She huffed, "...yes…?"
"Give me a break."
"Please! Just give it a chance! You can go back to being a villain whenever you want! But you'll never get another chance for a pardon from the Council ever again!" She met his gaze, "Things have changed! It's not like it was hundreds of years ago! Take a chance and see it for yourself!"
Against what might have been his own better judgement, he mulled the thought over.
He hadn't walked the vampiric streets as a normal citizen in eons. He had purposely avoided it, knowing full well that both human and vampire rule was corrupt and broken beyond repair. But truly, who was he to judge as someone from the Underground? Though most of it was arguably worse than he was, he still walked amongst tainted souls as one of their own.
But at least...he accepted that. He would readily admit he was evil, and not give a rat's ass about whatever hypocrite shed tears over it.
His eyes found the drying blood on his shirt. He was growing ravenous, and could easily run off and skewer a meal for himself, leaving the tyrant to weep helplessly in the snow.
"Where's your proof that things are any different?" He sighed, "And hurry up. I'm starving."
"Well...there are blood banks now! For vampires that can't hunt, or don't want to. There are laws outlawing human trafficking in our world. There's a wave to convert vampire hunting guilds into specialized forces that protect against criminal vampires!"
His thoughts traveled to the hunter from before. 'Antony', if he recalled correctly. The young hunter seemed to hold quite the grudge against Mordecai for killing his whole family without mercy. It would be interesting to see him pass by on the street, restraining his desire to be at Mordecai’s throat. It would be humorous to watch the hunter burn with rage, inches away from his arch nemesis, but immobilized by the law and forced to swallow his vengeance.
He had never met a hunter so young with such rage in his eyes. Antony was a special one for sure, and he would likely remember the man for some time. He certainly stood out amongst the others who thought they stood a chance combatting him. For the first time in a while, though frustrating, an opponent actually interested him.
Interesting...much like the game of death he played.
That's right, because none of it mattered anyways. It was all a game he played to entertain himself. Entertain his long, boring, meaningless life, face after face long since blurred in his mind.
Perhaps...a change of pace was in order.
"...And how are you going to get word of my pardon in time?"
"If I get a written pardon to the council by the end of the day, they'll handle the rest. You can walk our streets freely once the word gets around."
He glanced up at the sky, "...You've got mere hours. You really expect to get a letter there in time?"
"I can if you'd make up your damn mind!"
He chuckled, "Almost. Beg for it one more time?"
"I'm not going to-"
"See ya." He threw a wave and walked off.
She groaned, reluctantly clasping her hands together. "Please stay with me and protect me, please! I can’t survive out here by myself!"
"That's the best you can do? Fine. I’ll take it I guess."
"You are insufferable," she growled.
"And you're a spoiled bitch. Now hurry up, I can't pardon myself." They started off in the opposite direction of the burning castle.
"I'm so gonna regret this, aren't I…" she muttered.
"Probably. I'll absolutely be a pain in your ass for making me turn good guy out of nowhere."
"Ugh, shut up. You'll appreciate it one day."
"You act like this only for me."
She hesitated, changing the conversation topic, "Why did you agree to this?"
"I thought it'd be fun. Someone interesting has caught my attention, and I'd like to piss him off by showing my face with a pardon."
Her eyes rolled, "Y'know you have to actually be good to keep that pardon?"
"Well I don't have to be a superhero, do I? Just gotta not piss off every authority."
"Exactly. Don't pick fights since you'll be with me."
"Tempting to pick fights because I'm stuck with you."
She growled again, causing him to snicker.
Heading off through the snow, they managed to sneak through the shadows to create and deliver the letter of pardon for Mordecai before nightfall.
Soon enough, this former Most Wanted criminal would walk the streets like every other citizen, accompanied by the former Queen Charlotte at his side. Though enemies before, this was the start of a long journey for them, through the conflicts of peace efforts between humans, vampires, and whatever the hell else decides to get involved.
An interesting game of life and death.