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Generated: Jan 18, 2019 5:54 PM
Post last updated: Jan 15, 2019 8:04 PM
they all bleed red
various vampires in Milliways
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Milliways is sometimes empty.

It never stays that way for long.
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Leo was opening the door to his current residence, an abandoned warehouse in the Docks.

It's no longer a door to his current residence.

What the hell.

...It being empty, he creeps inside very gently. It's a bar, there's no threshold to hedge him out. What's going on?
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Exploding stars are going on. Not much else.

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Yeah, he noticed the exploding stars.

Absent much else to do, he goes to sit on a barstool. Actually he pokes it first, then sits down.
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The stool has no reaction to the poking.

The bar has a reaction to the approach! Hello. Can I get you anything to drink? First one's free, says a napkin.
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Leo engages in some highly dignified flailing and squeaks not at all like a little girl.

"What!" he manages, after a bit.
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I don't mean to alarm you, says a napkin. I'm the bar. I can produce beverages, and the first one's free.

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"Do you do blood?"
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Certainly. Any specifications, or would you prefer to take my recommendation?

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"Well, I was going to see if there's anything to that 'virgin's blood' thing, but now I'm curious. Recommend me a vintage, friend sentient bar."

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A burgundy wineglass full of blood and a little plastic umbrella appears. Virgin, male, mild tequila-based BAC introduced to a naive system, this glass is footnoted.

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Leo is terribly amused by the little plastic umbrella! He tastes it.

"Oh, very nice. I'd never considered the BAC thing, I'll have to keep that in mind when I return home. Maybe I'll hit some drunk virgins next time I have a centennial."
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Bar has no comment on this possibility.

The door opens again.

The girl who opens it looks like she's in her late teens. She's very thin, but in a sort of sleek way, the sort of look you'd normally need Photoshop to get. Her skin is paper white, her hair and eyes are ink-black, and she's very heavily accessorized - there's stuff wrapped around the base of her ponytail and braided into her bangs, she's got necklaces and bracelets that don't look like they're principally for decoration, bags and wands and crystals hung from the sash around her waist. Her mouth drops open a little when she sees the place, revealing ivory fangs; the door falls shut behind her.
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Leo raises his glass to her. "Well met! Nice shinies, are you some kind of enchanter?"

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"...I'm a kama," she says. She looks over her shoulder.

The door is gone.

"Where am I?"
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"Did you kill the door? That's inconvenient. We're in some kind of bar with a habit of replacing doors with itself. Come on in, have a drink, apparently you don't actually have much choice, sorry about that. I've never heard of commas, what would those be?"

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She approaches the bar, frowning. "I think I'll pass on the drink. Singular kama plural kyma magic used kamai; the stuff I'm wearing is mostly kamai tools of one sort or another. Where did the door go? Why did I wind up here in the first place? I was trying to get to vi'Naav's office..."

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"Sure you'll pass? Bar's very good at drinks, and the first is free. Door went somewhere probably, you wound up here for reasons, I have no idea who vi'Naav is but that's a really cool name. What's yours?"

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"I'm sure. Vi'Naav is a title; my name's Leekath." She sniffs the air. "Is... that blood?"

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"Yes! Virgin's blood, in fact, apparently it really is magically delicious. Good nose there. Nice to meet you, Leekath, I'm Leo. Vampire of the Red Court and layabout aesthete."

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"You don't look like a vampire. I'm a vampire."
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"Oh, there's already anywhere between four and ten different kinds of vampire depending how you count it, what's one more. I suppose you'd be, I don't know, Blue Court or something. What's your lot do?"

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"I don't know what you're talking about with courts. I'm White Line, but somehow I don't think that's what you mean. What do you mean what do we do?"

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"Well, there's Red Court, which I am, we're delightful rubbery monster things in human flesh and we drink blood. There's Black Court, they're dried-up rotting corpses and they drink blood and get everybody pissed off about vampires by being generally awful. And the White Court eat emotions and sparkle and are a bunch of prissy little twats. Oh, and there's the Jade court but they stick to China and I know fuckall about them. I think their legs are stuck together or something."

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"None of those things sound like vampires except for the drinking blood part. And you're drinking it out of a glass."
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"Well, usually I go for the neck, but it all goes down my throat anyway. What, do you have to use a straw or something? Bar can probably provide."

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"I have to drink from the vein or a bag, it has to be pressurized, I can't swallow. And I still don't want anything from the bar, I fed recently."

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"I'd find a way to make room, this stuff is delicious, but if you're watching your weight I won't push. Can't swallow, huh. Interesting. I'm not going to make any crude jokes about that, because I happen to be a gentleman. Well, actually that's a filthy lie, but implying a crude joke is pretty much the same as actually making it for my purposes."

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Leekath rolls her eyes. "I'd be very surprised if the bar can, what, magically conjure? anything tastier than my fiancé, and if it could -"

She, please.

Leekath peers at this napkin.

"...And if she could I'd probably pass anyway, he gets a little jealous."
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"Dating a breather. Very interesting. I grew out of that a while back."

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"A breather? You don't breathe? My family says bleeder, because they're racist..."

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"We don't breathe, no. I suppose you could call it racist. But, you know, vampires being immortal and all, it's not the greatest idea to date food."

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"My kind of vampire isn't immortal."

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"Sorry about it. I suppose I won't be dating you, then. Or, I don't know, whatever male relative looks most like you. Wouldn't happen to have a brother, I suppose?"

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"I have a brother, who is also engaged to food. Female food," sighs Leekath, looking at the door again.

The door is back.

She goes toward it.

It disappears again.

"Damn it."

She sits back down.
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"Ah well. I'll find some nice monster who can tolerate my neurotic ways eventually. Anyway, you never answered my question, what's your species like? You drink blood, you breathe, you're mortal, you have families, you date food. Any fascinating quirks? Repelled by holy objects? Turning into bats? Kill people with sex? My kind have a party trick I can demonstrate if you like, it's great fun."

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"...I turn into a bat," she says. "Why would we be repelled by holy objects...? I'm not sure I want to see a demonstration of any unexpected trick that belongs on a list near 'kill people with sex'."

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"Huh, you actually do turn into a bat. Weird, that's one of the more inhuman Black Court tricks, I'd expect you to be on the vanilla end of the spectrum. And most vampires are actually repelled by holy objects. Supposedly we're repellant in the eyes of Whoever, and Whoever lets us know it. And the party trick is nothing like the sex thing. Really, you could call it the opposite of that."

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"I go to temple routinely," she says. "And pass missionaries on the street with, you know, normal amounts of annoyance. What is the trick, then?"

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"Religious vampires. Something new every day. Anyway, the trick..." He stands from the barstool and grabs the top of his head. In one fluid motion, he rips off his skin and stands before her, a slimy red bat-thing with an enormous dripping tongue. And a stupid grin on his face. "Abracadabra!"

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"Eugh," says Leekath.

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He giggles and sits back down. Skin begins stretching over him, starting from the tips of his fingers and toes. "I love that. It's gross as hell, but watching people make faces at it is hilarious."

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"I have no idea why the ambient translation magic thinks we're both 'vampires'."

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"Eh. 'Vampire' is a pretty broad term, back home. Really it just means 'human-shaped thing that kills humans for their delicious essence and isn't a faerie'."

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"I don't kill people, humans taste terrible, and fairies don't drink blood at all."

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"Huh. Well, parasitizes, then, I'm pretty sure we don't have to kill people but not much point in letting them live and tell their human friends about the big scary monsters. If you don't eat humans, what do you eat? Don't tell me it's animals, that's disgusting. And our definition of 'faerie' is even broader than the one for 'vampires', I'm pretty sure half the species on the planet are different kinds of fucking faeries. That's why I carry a bag of iron filings under my skin, gets rid of them very nicely. Those fuckers."

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"I feed off my fiancé. He's a half-elf. Elves in general are pretty popular in my country. Dragons, when they're available. This ambient translation magic really isn't very good if that's how it's translating 'fairy'."

Sorry, says the bar. I'm not hooked up directly to the translation effect.

"It's all right, I wasn't blaming you," Leekath says, without looking at the napkin.
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"...Neat trick, there. Both the peripheral vision for the napkin and the fact that you eat fucking dragons. That is not something I would like to attempt any time soon."

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"With the dragons' permission," Leekath emphasizes. "It's against my religion to bite people without permission. And I wasn't using peripheral vision, I can hear objects talking about themselves. That's how I was sure there was an ambient translation effect. The napkins look to me like they're in Leraal, but they say they aren't in anything in particular."

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"I'm just going to come out and say it. As a vampire of the proper, soulless variety, your religion is hilarious. You're so neighborly! Also, again, neat trick."

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Leekath hisses under her breath and looks at the absent door again. "Excuse me, Bar, can you tell me when the door will come back?"

It shouldn't be long, but I don't control it or have any direct information on that.

"Not long as in -"

It's almost never kept someone here for more than a couple of days.

"Okay," she sighs. "I can do a couple of days."
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"Aw, sorry for hurting your feelings. I'm not so great at not being an asshole. Part and parcel of the whole monster deal. Comes with the slime and fangs."

Speaking of which, he's now almost entirely human-looking, only his face remaining monstrous. Out of consideration to Leekath's possible squeamishness, he's left his crotch Ken-doll smooth for later assembly. He begins to don his outfit, brushing it clean of rapidly evaporating ectoplasmic flesh.
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"What is that stuff? That you make your - envelope out of?"

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"Oh, it's ectoplasm. We can't do anything else with it, the mask is a racial ability thing, but if you're a wizard or a sidhe or something you can turn it into just about anything you like. Couple of weeks ago we got a rain of frogs, that was some high-level ectoplasm weirdness."

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"Weird. It definitely counts as a substance and not an object, I can't hear it."

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"Huh. Wonder what'd happen if somebody gave you a conjured sword or something, that's all ectoplasm but it's made into an object."

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"Well, I can't hear things made with image kamai," she says. "But I don't know enough about ectoplasm to say how that applies."

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"So what kind of details can you hear with that, anyway? Can my pants tell you about my sexual history? Do my flannel shirts love me as much as I love them? Is the knife hidden in my left arm traumatized by me stabbing a malk with it?"

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"Objects tend not to have much in the way of rich inner lives, and can only tell me things that are strictly about them, not just things they bore witness to," says Leekath. "Sometimes things like people but I'm afraid your shirt's not one of them."

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"That's reassuring. This shirt needs replacing anyway, I'd feel bad if it loved me. Actually, who am I kidding, it'd be hilarious. But a world with sentient shirts would be a bit uncomfortable."

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"They're not sentient," she says, shaking her head.

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Abruptly, the door opens! In comes someone in a substantial hurry. There is something wrong with her face. She slams the door, then looks around while holding it shut.

"Don't remember this place being a bar. I distinctly remember an abandoned warehouse with no windows. And- definitely no exploding stars. Either of you know what the fuck's going on?"
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"Not really," says Leekath, blinking only briefly at the weird face. Leo's is weirder. "It won't let me out at all."

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"That's not going to be a problem, because I don't want to go out any time soon. Unless it lets in Blondie out there, which I wouldn't be thrilled with. What in the everliving fuck is wrong with your face?"

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"Do I ask rude questions about your facial deformities?" asks Leo, whose face is inching steadily into place over his actual face.

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"Fair enough," says the woman, trotting over to the bar. "Any way a girl could get something strong and preferably with blood in it?"

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Sure. First one's free, says a napkin. Do you want my best guess or something specific?

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She blinks at the napkin, then shrugs. "Magic bar. Guess, I guess. Surprises are always nice. Unless they've got holy water or something in them, don't make me a holy water sangria."

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Of course not. A mixed drink with a crazy straw and a twist of lime appears.

"You have the holy things problem too?" asks Leekath. "Let me guess, this translation effect also thinks you're a vampire."
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She sips, makes a very pleased face, and turns to Leekath. "Right in one. Suzanna Richardson, vampire, witch, and apocalypse maven extraordinaire. Currently under heavy pursuit by certain local organizations and looking for a change in work. You?"

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"Leekath Hhirheek, vampire, wizard, kama, hearer, parliamentary office worker," says Leekath dryly. "Currently wondering whether I'm going to be late for a meeting."

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"Leonardo Cristobal Sangre de Dios Rojas Moreno de la Corazón, vampire of the Red Court and filthy coward, call me Leo," puts in Leo. "Currently antagonizing the good Ms. Hhirheek, mostly by accident, and enjoying a truly excellent cup of blood. Speaking of which, could I get a refill?"

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"Vampire interns, huh. Your place of work hiring?"

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$12.25, napkins the bar.

"No," says Leekath, "it isn't. And I couldn't bring you back to it anyway, because -" She approaches the door illustratively. "It disappears when I go near it."

It disappears, when she goes near it. She goes back to her seat.
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"Ah, that sucks. What about being a filthy coward, how's the pay on that?"

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Leo counts out several rumpled and, in one case, slightly blood-spotted bills onto the countertop. "Whatever you can mug. Which is, you know, decent, considering vampiric cost of living."

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Leo's money vanishes, and change appears, with a refill in his glass.

"Do I belong to the only remotely reputable species of vampires in the multiverse," mutters Leekath.
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"Reputable vampires," snorts Suzanna. "That's kind of hilarious. What, do you pay people to bend their necks or is it more a charitable blood donation thing?"

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"...Charitable. I just feed off my fiancé, other vampires ask their friends. We're not supposed to pay for it."

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"And you're marrying food. It'd be a very strange world if we were all alike, I'm sure."

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"Oh, don't be mean," chides Leo. "Really, she should be judging us, they seem to have a very nice arrangement set up, they can have their blood and drink it too."

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"What makes you think I'm not judging you?" Leekath says frostily.

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"I'm sorry, I misspoke. Your judgment is extremely clear. And kind of hilarious."

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Leekath hisses again.

The door opens again, and a pale lady - though not as pale as Leekath - with red curls and sunglasses strolls in. "What in these green godforsaken isles?" she says, coming to a halt.
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Leo giggles helplessly. "Oh man, tell me you're a vampire. Today gets better and better."

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The redhead inhales marginally. "I am. What are you lot?"

"Vampires," says Leekath, sighing. "According to this place's buggy translation magic we are all different kinds of vampires. Please tell me your kind doesn't murder people."

"Out of luck. I mean, some individuals abstain. I know a guy. But they're freaks with no taste buds."

Leekath sighs heavily.
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"Yeah, murder sisters! Put it here, pretty Irish lady. Also, help yourself to a drink, the bar does great blood and the first drink's free."

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"Free blood?" asks the redhead, raising an eyebrow above the level of her sunglasses, then taking them off and tucking one arm into her shirt collar, revealing dark red eyes. "Sure, why not."

Blood specifically or would you care to try something else? napkins the bar.

"Something else like what?" asks the redhead skeptically.

You would likely find a variety of synthetics equally pleasant.

"Huh, sure, why not. Try anything once."

A glass of something blue appears. The redhead sips a bit. "Oh hey, not bad," she remarks, looking speculatively at the glass.
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"Huh. Would I like any of these synthetics?"

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Not that one, no. Possibly not any. You might find some technically palatable but they would not accord with your spiritual needs.

"Spiritual needs?" asks Leekath skeptically.
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"Human blood has bits of soul in it, which is an essential nutrient for growing vampires. Though, actually, you mentioned you drink from other species, now I'm curious. Bar, do you think I'd like something from one of her dragons?"

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The distinction is unlikely to be as unambiguously positive for you as it would for her sort of vampire, but it would be drinkable. $22.30.

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"Blah. Money."

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"I'll front you the cash, I had a recent windfall and you've got me curious." Suzanna lays down some suspiciously crisp currency.

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The bills vanish; the drink appears with change.

"Weird paper money," murmurs Leekath.

"What, your money's not paper?" asks Maggie.

"No. Credit or coin."

"Huh."
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"Paper money rocks, I highly recommend it. Eminently muggable."

He takes a cautious sip from the dragon blood. Considering the glass, he pours the rest down his throat.

His eyes bulge and he spasms slightly. "Fuck! That is- that is some aftertaste. Jesus God, it's like if knives had a flavor."
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Suzanna snickers. "I was hoping for something like that. Thank you, Vampire Jesus."

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"Smelled pretty unpalatable to me," comments Maggie. "Is the taste of knives nice or not, all things considered?"

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Leo coughs violently. "Nope! Initial impression very good, aftertaste fucking awful. Not a fan. The neighborly religionpires can keep their dragon snacks."

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Leekath snorts. Maggie finishes her blue thing.

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After a bit, Leo swishes a mouthful of his virgin's blood and stops his whining.

"So, newcomers, what's your fun new take on being bloodsuckers? Leekath's folks are nice and friendly and turn into bats and marry food, mine are delightful rubbery monster things contained in an ectoplasmic fleshsuit. Oh, and do you have the sunlight thing? The sunlight thing sucks."
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"Sunlight thing being catching fire? Yes, it's unpleasant. Well, you can see my lovely forehead ridges. And we don't have souls and as a group we're very into the apocalypse, though I'm starting to think of giving it up in light of recent events. Other than that... we explode if you put a bit of wood through our chests, that could be notable. Not much else to speak of."

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"Direct sunshine and we sparkle, no spontaneous combustion. Very conspicuous, therefore very illegal," says Maggie. "No apocalypse, not so friendly, if we're going to marry food we turn it into not-food first, and in terms of my physical composition what you see is what you get, though what you see is in fact nigh-invulnerable unless another vampire goes after me or somebody ignites me."

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"Sparkling?"
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"It's actually kind of pretty. Like I'm made of crushed diamonds. But do it in front of a human and -" Maggie punches one of her hands with the opposite fist. "The vampire shadow government finds you and sets you on fire. So I have to sun myself in secluded locations, you see."

"I burn in the sun," says Leekath, "much worse than even a really pale human, if I'm not wearing a suncloak or a sunscreening spell. I usually go with the spell."
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"Wait, hang on, why would the vampire shadow government get involved? If I see someone aggressively sparkling at me I'm less likely to think 'oh my land, I'm surrounded by vampires!' than 'somebody got lost on the way to New Orleans'."

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"Well, you might be able to get away with it if the human doesn't tell anybody," shrugs Maggie. "Or you eat them right away and then they of course don't tell anybody. But if there's somebody talking too much about anything a little funny, the Volturi figure you can't handle being a vampire and should instead handle being a pile of ashes, see?"

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"Still doesn't make sense, but okay, Sparkle Party. At least you still eat people."

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(Leo snickers quietly.)

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"I eat people," Leekath points out. "I just don't eat entire people like some kind of monster."

"How do you stop?" asks Maggie. "I find it pretty hard to put one down and not immediately go on to find another, let alone quitting in the middle. I don't get how anybody manages to turn anyone."
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"Amen, sister," says Suzanna. "I mean, I've turned people, but if you needed to leave them half full or something, I'd never have managed."

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"I get full," says Leekath. "Or I just, you know, stop, because I'm not a murderer. And these days it's my fiancé I bite."

"How come you haven't turned him?" wonders Maggie. "More to the point if you keep biting him how do you avoid it?"

"...You keep using that word, what do you mean?"

"...Turn...ing?" says Maggie.

"I don't know what that is."

"Holy hell," says Maggie.
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Leo cackles horribly. "This is amazing. Terrible Vampire, I love you."
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"Ugh," says Leekath.

"Turning is making a human into a vampire," explains Maggie.

"That doesn't even make any sense," says Leekath. "I've always been a vampire, I was born a vampire, I have vampire dads and a vampire brother and sister."
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"Dads? What, are you like seahorses?"

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"...No, I have a helpful aunt and there was magic involved," says Leekath, rolling her eyes. "Anybody from a decently developed country can do that where I'm from, not just vampires, it's beside the point."

"Keen," says Maggie.
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"Magic. All right. Back where I come from magic is less suited for gay dad assistance and more suited for murder, sorry for the confusion. Back to the other confusion. Vampires aren't born, they're made. At least sensible vampires. You take a human, you drain their blood, you give them a mouthful of yours, and bam, new vampire."

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"For ours it's more complicated- way more complicated- but yeah, the principle's the same."

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"My version's simpler. If I get some venom into somebody and manage not to kill 'em in the process they spend three days screaming and then poof," says Maggie.

"And my kind don't do that at all, that's weird and gross," says Leekath. "Why would you even want to?"

"Well," says Maggie, "I never have, but if one day I locate the love of my life and she has a heartbeat, standard procedure is turn her and keep her forever."
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"Our way's more for minion generation, but I guess you could do that too."

(Leo nods.)
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"And sometimes you turn somebody because you just like them but don't want to set up housekeeping," says Maggie. "Or you think they'll be a witch and want a witch in your coven, that's why my maker turned me."

"A witch?" frowns Leekath. "God this translation magic's glitchy."

"Witch is somebody with a personal magical power," says Maggie. "Sometimes humans have 'em and they're better after they become vampires, sometimes people get them only after they turn."

"That's not what a witch is. Ugh, even wizarding translation works better than this."
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"Yeah, witches are not that. I don't know about glitchy, though, I feel like if you stranded a bunch of English-speakers on islands containing various weird magic things you'd get a lot of similar-looking overlap. Like, there's these things that drink blood and react to sunlight, they're vampires, doesn't matter that one's a creepy demon thing and one has a weird bumpy face and one sparkles. There's these people with insert magic here, they're witches, doesn't matter if they do exactly one thing or try to cause the apocalypse or, I don't know, whatever your weird kind does, probably flies around on broomsticks and apologizes a lot."

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"I don't speak English. I speak Leraal and vampire fluently, and a bit of Eashiri and Martisen," says Leekath. "Witches where I'm from make potions - no broomstick or apologies involved."

"Vampire's a language?" asks Maggie.

"Yeah. We can't speak other languages particularly well when we've turned into bats."

"Turned into bats. Now I've heard everything."
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Leo raises his hand. "There's some vampires over on our side who do that. Not counting my own somewhat batlike self." He peels off his face and winks, then pastes it back on.

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"I wanna see you turn into a bat," says Maggie.

"I have no good reason to turn into a bat right now," says Leekath. "I don't even need to do it to fly, anymore."
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"Aw, but it's a neat party trick! We could all demonstrate something, if you want. Sparkles could hop out into the sunlight, Suzanna could... I don't know, do some weird magic thing? Maybe she can do a light show. We'll be the Amazing Vampire Circus."

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"You all aren't even actually vampires, you're some other word that this magic is insisting on translating instead of giving to me phonetically."

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"...How sure are we that we're all speaking different languages? Because I'm pretty sure Sparkle Party's Irish, and we all apparently use similar money. I think that we're all 'vampires' and you're some weird thing that's translating wrong."

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"Maggie," says Maggie, "and yep, Irish."

"I'm not saying whatever word you're saying. I'm speaking Leraal. It's the idiotic translation magic," says Leekath.

"So we're kinds of miscellaneous, ah, Earth vampire," says Maggie, "and you can be..."

"Elcenian vampire?" attempts Leekath.

"Elcenian vampire it is."
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"Nah, I was calling you Sparkle Party because it's funny. I can stop. Anyway, Lydia, I'm glad you are now a more comfortable special snowflake. I could probably turn myself into a bat if that's the issue at hand, but I'm not 100% sure I could turn myself back, so... probably not doing that."

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"Turning yourself into a bat is not the sole membership requirement," says Leekath dryly. "Dragons and kyma can do that, if they want."

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"Dragons can turn into bats. Have I mentioned your world is super weird?"

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"It's come up," says Leekath. "Dragons can turn into whatever they want, sometimes that's bats, usually it is not bats."

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"Dragons are OP," mutters Suzanna. "Nerf dragons."

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"What kind of lousy budget translation spell is this," mutters Leekath.

(Maggie giggles.)
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Abruptly, a dessicated corpse strides into the bar. The door swings closed behind her. "What is-"

Abruptly, a small and terrified girl runs into the bar! The door vanishes behind her. She squeaks wordlessly, then lets out a much louder wordless squeak when she notices people.
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"Let me guess," says Leekath. "More mistranslated vampires."

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"Mistranslated? That's new. Also, where in the hell am I? I was going to check on the thralls."

The girl is preoccupied with desperately searching for the door. There is a black courtier in here she wants OUT.
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"The door disappears sometimes. The bar says it usually doesn't trap people more than a couple days," Leekath says to the nervous girl. "And yes, the translation magic here is awful, it thinks we're all vampires, I'm speaking Leraal not English when I say that so it's clearly incorrect."

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"Well, there's too many different kinds of vampires already to get all hung up on terminology, I think. I mean, there's what, four different kinds? Seven if you count all the houses of the White Court."

The girl flinches at the mention of her species. The corpse glares. "Oh, would you stop cowering? I'm not going to kill you, I'm occupied with other things. Besides, there's witnesses. And we've never met. I'm not Drakul, I don't kill people for existing."
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"I'm from a world with one kind of vampire," says Leekath, "which among other things doesn't murder people, that seems to be a distinguishing characteristic."

"I'm also from a world with one kind of vampire!" chirps Maggie. "We totally murder people though. Not you, little one, you're not food."
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"Oh?" The corpse raises an eyebrow and heads over to sit by the bar. "No murder? How do you eat?"

The girl is distracted from her cowering by irritation. "I'm not a little girl! I'm twenty-three years old*. I'm just... short. And she's scary. And you kill people."

*Twenty-two and a half.
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"I know from short," says Maggie, who is indeed pretty short, "and you are lying."

"I make neat tidy punctures in my fiancé's neck with his enthusiastic permission and I drink a bit and then I perform a blood-replenishing working so I don't have to wait three weeks between feedings or go to other sources," says Leekath.
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"You're marrying food?"

"Fine. I'm twenty-two and a half. It just... sounds dumb that way. And I'm not a little girl."
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"That's what I said!"

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"Yes I am marrying food," snaps Leekath.

Maggie calms down when the girl has corrected her lie.
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"Jeez, it's just a question. You'd think I'd eaten your puppy or something."

The girl seems to have latched on to something Leekath said earlier. "You don't kill people?"
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"No, I don't," says Leekath, "and I never have, either, and I'm very annoyed that this translation spell thinks I belong in a category with people who do, and I've been criticized more than enough about marrying food by my family members already and don't welcome more of it."

"I know a my-kind-of vampire who's never killed anybody," Maggie says. "He's an odd duck."
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"I don't kill people!" says the girl. "I work as a hairdresser and I take the energy I need from the intimacy of touch, I don't have to have sex with anyone at all! Or kill anyone!"

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"Oh, thank goodness," says Leekath. "That you don't kill people. I'm less clear on whether I should be pleased about the rest of it. My sister's a hairdresser but as far as I know all she gets out of it is dressed hair."

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"The White Court don't do anything with blood at all," explains Leo. "They're all about emotions. Lust and intimacy, in this case, or so I'd imagine from that description. I'm sure your parents are very proud of their little vegan. Or, no, what's the opposite of that, horribly ashamed. Horribly ashamed of their little vegan."

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"Don't bring my parents into this!"

The corpse shakes her head. "What are vampires these days coming to. Hey, where'd you all get that blood? It looks great, and I'm parched." She shakes a bit of dust off her hand in demonstration.
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From me, appears a napkin. First drink is free.

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"Oh, nice. You're magic, right? Could I get a glass of Chateau That One Barmaid From 1830 or something, or do you just serve generic blood?"

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It needn't be generic per se, but I'm afraid I can't identify that one barmaid from 1830 for you with the information available.

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"Aw. Just give me something red and tasty, then. Ooh, maybe something not of this world. If you give me something not of this world it doesn't have to be red."

"Could I get a vodka and grenadine?" asks Sky quietly.
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Sky's vodka and grenadine appears. It has a crazy straw.

And a glass of dragon's blood just like what Leo had such mixed feelings about appears for Tessa.
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Sky giggles and claps slightly at the crazy straw! Then she remembers that she's in public and blushes and quietly sips her horrible drink.

Tessa downs the dragon's blood. Then she cackles loudly. "Christ, that stuff is strong! I love it, where can I find one of those to kill?" (Her body rapidly grows less desiccated, looking almost human apart from her blackened fingernail-claws and her fangs.)
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Leekath's world contains that sort of dragon.

"You would probably have a hard time killing one," Leekath says.
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"That stuff makes me want to try. Good god."

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"I've bitten dragons by asking nicely," says Leekath severely. "You could try it. If the door would let me out and I didn't think having you in the halls of Parliament would be a terrible idea, anyway."

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"Asking nicely." She snickers.

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"It works. When your species is not known to be murderous monsters, anyway." Pause. "The anaesthetic venom probably helps some."

"Anaesthetic venom!" laughs Maggie. "That's a hoot."
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"Our venom's anaesthetic," contributes Leo. "Well, it could dull pain. In addition to feeling like God Himself is giving you a blowjob, and then addicting you to vampire saliva more or less instantly."

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"Ours is like the fires of fucking Hell," says Maggie. "Wherever it gets, and if you live long enough to turn from it, that's 'everywhere'."

Leekath makes an eloquently disgusted face.
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"That sounds inconvenient," observes Suzanna. "Have you considered not that, instead? I've found that a complete lack of venom serves quite well."

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"Considered? Nobody consulted me," snorts Maggie. "I put in my three days of Hell and now when I bite somebody it's because they're gonna be dead in a second."

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"Well, you've got to turn some people," says Tessa. "How else will you get enough minions to get anything done?"

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"What d'you imagine I need to get done in my day to day life?" asks Maggie.

"Minions? What?" says Leekath.
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"Well- acquire tomes of ancient and forbidden lore, clean house, serve as shock troops- I don't know, what wouldn't you need done?"

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"Not much call for tomes, don't keep a house, and my covenmates keep the entire island of Ireland clear of other vampires because Siobhan is scary good in a fight, and we don't provoke the Volturi, so dunno what we'd do with shock troops," says Maggie, ticking off fingers.

"You turn people into vampires and then enslave them?" asks Leekath.

"Apparently she does. We don't usually, bit too hard to control newborns. I get along fine with my maker but she didn't try to keep me when I wanted to move back to Ireland," Maggie says.
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"Huh. No minions. You weird alien vampires are bizarre."

"The White Court doesn't have minions," objects Sky.

"Yes, but that's because you breed your own. Besides, what d'you call the ghouls?"

Sky opens, and then closes, her mouth. "Not vampire minions," she mumbles.
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"It is kind of weird," agrees Suzanna. "I mean, I could see not having minions, but what are you going to do if you really need some?"

(Leo nods.)
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"What's a ghoul?" asks Leekath.

"I don't really anticipate a need for minions," shrugs Maggie. "Have no good way to keep hold of them if I did, not on my own, I'm not a fighter per se and my witchcraft doesn't work like that."
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"Ghouls," says Leo the Walking Dictionary, "are horrible monsters who are very good at killing things, can come back from just about any injury that doesn't involve decapitation or reducing them to paste, and are kept as something of a mercenary army by the White Court. Though they get loaned out to the Reds when we need them. They have to eat their body weight in raw meat per day, it's delightful."

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"They're not horrible! Some of my best friends are ghouls," complains Sky. "They're quite nice when you get to know them."

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Leekath looks really dubious.

"Sound like more trouble than they're worth," says Maggie. "Although I guess if the meat can be raw you wouldn't have to cook exactly."
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"They're lighter than they look. I think a bull ghoul is something like a hundred pounds."

"We have a cattle ranch," explains Sky. "And there's only about twenty ghouls in our local clan. And Dad, uh... gives them homeless people, sometimes. Every couple of weeks."
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"That does not count as not killing people," says Leekath.

"Be fair, she said she doesn't kill people," says Maggie. "Maybe her kind does it all the time."
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"I'd say that's a fair assessment, yeah. They don't always kill people, they think it's wasteful, but they sure as hell don't mind."

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"Wasteful," says Leekath. "How about morally wrong?"

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you just plain don't get as thirsty as I do," says Maggie.
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"It's kind of adorable how human your thinking is. Like a puppy dressed in a suit and tie!"

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"...What do wolves have to do with anything?" asks Leekath.

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"Not wolves, puppies! Cute little baby dogs. Or wolves, I guess, wolf puppies are probably adorable."

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"What's a dog?"

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"Bitty little domesticated wolves. You guys didn't domesticate wolves? Your loss, man, they're super cute."

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"Wolves are - okay, there are two kinds of wolves, and one kind is people, and the other kind are vicious wild animals..."

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"Vicious wild animals that we made into adorable little domestic animals. You guys do have, like, domesticated animals in general, right? Cows? Sheep? Horses?"

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"I don't know what a horse is, but we have cows and sheep."

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"Dogs are like that, to the wild versions of those. I mean, wild sheep aren't particularly dangerous- well, they can be, but not so much- but it's the difference between a wild bull and a milk cow. Which is substantial. I almost got killed by a wild cow once, and this was after I turned. Anyway, we did that to wolves so we could have animals that would kill mice and protect our homes and stuff."

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"We have cats, for mice," says Leekath. "I'll have to take your word for it about wild cows; I've never seen one. And they might not be the same anyway."

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"Do not speak to me of cats."

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"Your kind of vampire vulnerable to cats?" Maggie asks, raising an eyebrow.

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"No, but they're vicious filthy little bastards and I hate them."

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"Finally someone understands. Why did the humans stop throwing them in rivers again?"

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Leekath tries the door again. It disappears when she gets close. "Ugh."
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"Lydia, you should really lighten up. Cats aren't even people! We're being perfectly humanitarian."

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"Leekath," says Leekath. "Is my name. Not Lydia."

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"I know that! I'm just calling you Lydia because you look like the chick from Beetlejuice. You're easily the gothiest person at this vampire bar. Apart from the living corpse, maybe."

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"The what?"

"She's not wearing black," Maggie points out. Leekath is in fact wearing slate blue and purple.
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"Yeah, but she's got the whole... fangs and pallor and inky-black hair, thing going. I knew girls back in junior high who would've killed for that kind of coloration."

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"Surprise, killing people is not a way to get my coloration," grumps Leekath.

Maggie laughs.
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"I don't know, I've known a lot of people with your coloration who got it by killing people. It's certainly an option."

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Leekath glares at her.

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"So, Maggie, you mentioned sparkling. And it being pretty. Would it be patronizing and weird to ask you to demonstrate?"

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"Aren't you lot allergic to sunshine?" asks Maggie. "How allergic? For that matter, where are we going to find sunshine?"

The backyard is currently experiencing its day cycle, says the bar. If that is deemed too risky I could provide a directional ultraviolet lamp for you to borrow.

"Huh," says Maggie. "Right, what do you all say to those options?"
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"Can't speak for the bumpy contingent, but for red and black court it's direct sunlight only, and the whites don't have any reaction at all because they're fakey fake vampires."

"Hey!"

(The bumpy contingent nods in agreement.)
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"My spell is probably broken, but I can do this," says Leekath, and suddenly she's wearing a full-body hooded cloak with gloves and embroidery.

"Right, I'll go lean out the back door then," says Maggie, and she locates the back door, leans out of it, and sparkles.
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Suzanna stares at her, neglecting to breathe. "Pretty," she sighs.

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Maggie twirls. "Aren't I just? Part of the upgrade - the sparkles and general cosmetic enhancements, that is. Nobody looked this good during the potato famine."

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"Were they gay in the potato famine? I ask purely out of intellectual curiosity.*"

*This is sarcasm. Intellectual curiosity is not involved in any part of this question.
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"I was. Don't get your hopes up, ducky, my kind of vampire does love at first sight and is much less about casual hookups, and I don't love you."

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"Thank Someone for that. Love is disgusting. I'll pass, pretty as you are."

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"There's nothing for you to pass on. If it were going to happen I'd have been gooey over you from the first moment," snorts Maggie. "I don't think it even does happen to people who think love's disgusting, same reason I can be sure if it happens to me it'll be a woman."

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"I think that the risk alone would bar me entirely from your world. That means I'm either sneaking into Lavinia's world when her door comes back, or I'm going with one or more of the weird triplicate vamps. Though there's no need to pack up just yet, I'm just looking at my options."

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"Oh, I wouldn't bring you home, Siobhan's very strict about who she lets on her island and I don't know that you'd count as not a vampire to the point where she wouldn't kill you anyway."

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"Well, I don't know that that's fair! You could've told her you brought me in and I'd've fucked off to California and not bothered you again. Unless we became pen pals or something."

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"Oi, I like my working relationship with my covenmates, why would I screw it up for you? She'd understand if it was a mate, those're different, but some presumptuous bint I met in a bar?"

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"I wasn't suggesting that you put me up for a week until I got my feet back! She wouldn't even accept me setting foot on her soil in order to immediately hop off it? It's not like I'd poach on her land, I happen to enjoy not being a pile of dust."

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"She's very strict about it. There's one she can't catch, and it pisses her off, and that makes her so much the stricter." Maggie tires of leaning out the door. She shuts it and meanders back into the bar. "Barkeep, more of the same, or something else you'd recommend."

Just "Bar", please. €8.45 for my next suggestion.

Maggie produces euros and gets something fizzy and gold.
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Meanwhile, Sky is looking at Leekath somewhat more anxiously than usual.

"S-so... what's your world like? The vampires don't kill people, so that's good. What else?"
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"...We don't speak English. There's a vampire language, with regional dialects, and a bunch of other languages. The planet's a square, I think that's unusual. There's plenty of magic; I'm three kinds of magic and I was only born with one of those. One sun. Plants, animals, oceans, land, air, what do you want to know?"

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"Oh, that sounds- lovely. I just meant... well, do you have, um, kingdoms? Or something? Or countries? What's- the one where you live? Like?"

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"I live in a country with a appointment-based parliament that can be removed by popular referendum," says Leekath. "One of my dads is in Parliament and I work for him. There's a neighboring country that's a kingdom, and some others elsewhere, and theocracies and representative democracies and so on."

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She chews on her lip.

"How's... how's the i-immigration? Policy?"
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"Quite open. Do you want to move to Esmaar?"

"Aww," says Maggie, almost fond.
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Tessa snorts. "I'm hardly surprised. Our world's not one for weaklings, and if you can't get over yourself enough to kill the very cattle you eat, you can guess where that leaves you on the totem pole."

Sky grits her teeth. "You're right. That's why I'm getting out while I can."

"Well enough. It's almost admirable, in a gutless sort of way."
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Leekath hisses at Tessa. She dismisses her image suncloak, since the door is closed. "I don't have copies of the immigration forms here, or have them memorized -"

I could provide you with a set for the cost of the paper, says Bar.

"I don't have any cash on me."

I can take your credit stamp.

"Oh."

.001 aaberik.

"...Sure. Charge me a thousandth of an aaber for a set of current Esmaarlan immigration forms suitable for an offworlder her equivalency. I do have a pen."

And here is a stack of paperwork. Leekath hands Sky a pen. The forms want to know her name, sex, previous names and sexes if these are possibly relevant to confirming that she is attached to her past identity, age, what that translates to in human years, her country of origin, status therewith, native magical talents, acquired magical skills, whether she is going to be farming anything, whether she will wish to be going on government assistance within the forseeable future, etcetera, etcetera.
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Tessa tsks at Leekath's hissing. "Dear, dear. I'm awfully sorry to have upset you. But, a word of advice..." The shadows deepen around her, and an icy chill spreads from where her hand rests on the table. She doesn't look so human anymore. "Only hiss when you're ready to bare your teeth, child." She smiles wide, fangs showing bright.

(Sky takes the papers in a trembling hand and goes to work on them at a nearby table. Her name is Skyler Raith- no, Skyler Reed. She puts down sex and age and country and tries not to curl up and cry with fear.)
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Violence within the bar environs is strictly prohibited, admonishes the bar.

"Too right, trying to enjoy my frothy something here," says Maggie, and she sips her frothy something.
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"Oh, I won't start anything," Tessa soothes. "You can be sure of that."

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Thank you, says the bar.

Leekath listens to Sky's forms as they fill in, in case she needs to clarify something.
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Sky's forms are going well! She has listed a variety of natural powers appropriate to a somewhat anemic vampire of the White Court, she will probably not be farming, she will almost certainly be on government assistance. She's left "acquired magical skills" blank because she's fairly sure she doesn't have any. She continues apace. (She writes pretty quickly, especially when she's blocking out something like Tessa being terrifying.)

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"Would you be more comfortable if I set up a ward around you?" Leekath asks her, since she seems nervous.
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Sky twitches extravagantly, slashing a jagged line across a question about religious dress.

"Wh! I! I, um! Um. Um. What?"
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"You seem nervous about her, and I have my ward stones with me, and I can make a ward. I'm not positive how it will interact with whatever you're worried she'll do but it's pretty general purpose."

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"I... that... that could help. Maybe. It's her necromancy, it- just the fact she's using it puts me on edge, I feel it in my teeth."

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"What exactly is she doing?" asks Leekath, pulling her ward stones out of her bag and setting them up around Sky, some on the bar, some on the floor, in a multilevel sort of circle.

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"It's called necromancy. Kemmlerian necromancy, specifically, though that old madman was hardly the best face for the art. There's power in death, and the veil between life and death; I siphon off just a bit of that, aided by the fact that I myself happen to be between life and death, and turn it to my own ends. Side effects include an aura of darkness and the chill of the grave creeping into the bones of those nearby. It's delightful, really."

"Other side effects include disrupting the natural order and weakening the fabric of reality," mutters Sky.

"Don't tell me how to do my job, little pest. Do I nag you about your congenital lack of a spine?"

"Yes!"

Tessa smirks. "Exactly."
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"Well, nothing she's doing with it ought to be able to hurt you through the ward," says Leekath, and she wakes the stones. "There. I can put an illusion where the ward is active if you want to be able to see it."

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Tessa looks thoughtful, and the shadows darken again.

Sky whimpers.

Tessa grins to herself and begins to file her claws innocently.
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"Oh, for the - are you reacting to something I can't see or are you afraid of the darkness? ...Am I the only person in this room who can echolocate?"

"Sufficiently motivated humans can echolocate, sort of, so I guess I could learn, but normally no that's not a thing," says Maggie. "And yes, there is a distinct aura of, not sure what to call it, dramatic nihilism? Pretty unfriendly."
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Sky composes herself, somewhat. "It's- the necromancy, it makes you feel... cold. It's like- it's like the feeling you get when you're six years old and walking down a hallway at night. And the knowledge that one day you'll just end, too, pushing and pushing at you."

"I really have no idea what you're talking about," contributes Tessa. "If you feel cold, you might put on a sweater."
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Experimentally, Leekath relaxes her kamai shielding.

She puts it back.

"I can fix that, too, if you let me," she tells Sky.
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"Ruin my fun, why don't you," Tessa mutters.

"Y-you could? Please, please, I'd- I'd really like that."
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Leekath nods, steps past her ward stones, and puts her hand on Sky's head. Quick check for anything that will foul up mind kamai...?

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Apart from the obvious crippling anxiety, nothing in particular!

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Great. Leekath gets out her gold wand, since it is very kind about letting her cheat, and taps Sky on the head with it. Bog-standard kamai shields.

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"Oh," sighs Sky. "Thank you. I'm still- afraid of her. But it's so much less, now." She vibrates nervously for a moment and goes in for an extremely hesitant hug.

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Leekath allows it. And pats her on the head in a less magical fashion, while putting her wand back on her belt.

"Can you do that as many times as you like?" asks Maggie.

"No," says Leekath.

"Ah, never mind then." Maggie swigs; her glass is empty. "I'll just take as much of whichever of those lovelies was cheaper as the contents of my pockets will buy me, let's see, that's..." She counts her money very fast. "Three hundred thirty euro, and take it home with me."

She gets a large quantity of the gold stuff. She picks it up with one hand.

"And I shall be going."
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Tessa rolls her eyes. "Well, if everyone's leaving or becoming immune to fear, I think I may go as well. Unless the bar has tomes of forgotten lore on demand."

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"Not in the least sorry to ruin your fun," says Maggie, and out she goes with her case of beverages.

I have books, says the bar, more or less anything which has ever been in print. They do of course cost money if you want to remove them from Milliways.
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Tessa grins and starts writing out a shopping list.
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"Leo has graciously agreed to take me along into his world," says Suzanna with a measure of glee, "and this joint is getting kind of tired, so I think we'll be taking our leave."

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Leekath evinces no objection to any of these disreputable sorts of vampires departing.

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Suzanna takes a moment to purchase some tomes of forgotten lore for herself, and a bottle of a particularly nice vintage of blood, and merrily follows Leo through his door.

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Tessa leaves as well, hauling a rolling suitcase of obscure grimoires behind her. The world isn't going to know what hit it.

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And Leekath continues supervising Sky's bid for Esmaarlan immigration.

But the door still disappears whenever Leekath gets near it.

"I'm not sure how long you're willing to wait," she says.
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"If I've got the chance to move to your world and leave that nightmare behind me, I'll wait as long as it takes."

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"Okay, that's up to you. I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to sleep, here, if it takes long enough -" She eyes the rafters. "I guess I could conjure something up to hang from."

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"Bar could probably rent you something? I wonder if we could rent a room, I have to sleep too..."

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I can rent rooms, confirms Bar, including rooms equipped with sleeping perches.

"My credit stamp is not infinite, I pay the rent on a rooftop cottage for me and my fiancé," says Leekath.

I can also simply rent you a perch, or you might find the trees in the yard comfortable enough.

"Trees might do. I guess I've got options."
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"My emergency credit card is, uh, substantial. And I might as well use it while I can?"

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"That could be handy, although I assume there's no direct currency exchange rate between aaberik and whatever."

Dollars. There is no practiced rate, but I can implement one of my own accord; there is no reason she cannot buy things that are natively priced in aaberik.
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Sky giggles. "Is there something ridiculously expensive you've had your eye on? I kind of like the idea of bankrupting Dad before I go."

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"I mean, I can think of worthy government programs but nothing that the bar can probably conjure up that's really big-ticket. I guess if you bought a scoot you might find it useful to have post-immigration."

I cannot produce magical items.

"Well," says Leekath, "that rules out almost everything worth having in Elcenia that costs more than, like, five aaberik."
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"Aw. Not even fancy clothes or something?" She considers. "Could I, like, buy money? That would be useful."

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"Okay, it doesn't rule out fancy clothes. You could get a more Esmaarlan wardrobe, that's something."

I can do direct currency exchange, yes.
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Sky looks at Leekath solemnly. "I am entrusting you with the power of my emergency credit card to buy me the fanciest wardrobe that money can buy. Can you do this for me?"

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"I'm not a clothes expert. These are my work clothes so they're formal and everything but not fancy. Bar, can you -?"

I believe I can accommodate you, although of course I could do better if I knew something about your tastes, Bar napkins.
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Sky begins rattling off clothing preferences. Pastels feature heavily. Asymmetry, when possible. Fancy designs! Beading! Embroidery!

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And Bar takes a look at her credit card, and inquires how much she'd like to reserve for direct currency exchange into aaberik.

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"Um, $25000 is the cutoff. So, uh, however much of that is left over."

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Do you want twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of clothes alone? inquires Bar.

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"No. Um."



"Maybe five thousand."
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So Bar produces twenty complete outfits of variously pastel, variously embroidered and beaded, artful Esmaarlan clothes, and six pairs of shoes, and, in a basket, miscellaneous accessories and locally appropriate jewelry. I did a little bargain hunting for you, but this is all top wearing-out-and-about quality for the locale, Bar promises. Appropriate for the various Esmaarlan seasons and should be reasonably fashion-forward for the next year and respectable for twenty to thirty. The individual pieces should mix and match pretty well, although they're presented in complete outfits for your immediate convenience. It's Esmaar, so it's dresses, and skirts with blouses, but there are several pairs of leggings in there too (and socks, and three cardigans and a poncho and a shawl, and underthings, and two scarves, and sashes.)

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"I want to hug you."
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This is slightly impractical, but I appreciate the sentiment very much.

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"So, I have beautiful clothes. Should I just get a sack of coins, or is there something a little more portable? Or do aaberik have high enough denominations it won't be a problem?"

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"You can get aaberik in legitimate denominations as high as a thousand, though it'd be really hard to spend those anywhere but for change at a bank or something," says Leekath. "Credit stamps are portable but require wizardry which won't work here. I doubt that the bar can produce a valid writ of transfer from your credit card."

I can exchange twenty thousand dollars for eleven thousand four hundred and nine-tenths aaberik.

"That's a lot, that'll keep you comfortable for months if you move in with people or find a single occupancy - Esmaar is mostly huge families all living together so finding a place to stay might be a problem, rent on a normal house will eat that in one payment."
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"Um... how available are small apartments? And I can take that in coins, then, I'll take very very good care of them."

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"There exist little one-bedroom places. I actually live in a tiny house on top of an apartment building but we get charged extra for the view and roof access and metropolitan location. I know there must be cheaper but I'm not sure how easy they'll be to find. If the rest of your paperwork checks out okay you can live in temporary housing until you do track something down, though."

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"Oh! Good. If I was immigrating to America from nowhere, it would be... a lot harder than that. You're apparently, uh, filthy socialists. Good."

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"We're what?" blinks Leekath.

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Sky gets a very slight deer-in-headlights look. "Socialists. It's, uh, it's a joke. Your government takes care of its citizens very well."

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"What a weird joke," says Leekath.

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"Yes. Yes it is."

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"Anyway." Leekath picks up the forms. "Usually, the contents of these would be verified with a wizarding lie detection spell -" As an afterthought, she deactivates the ward stones and puts them away. "I can't cast it here because wizardry only works in Elcenia. I can do lie detection with kamai, though." She pulls her gold wand and makes a little gesture with it; the shields on Sky's mind are no longer helping with anything now they're alone. "This might mean you have to do the whole thing over again on the other side, because kamai isn't formally used for governmental processes like that; but I'm going to do it anyway because it would be a hassle to put you back if you get turned away. All right?"

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"Oh! Sure. I don't mind."

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"To the very best of your knowledge, are the contents of this form true, transparent, and complete?"

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"Yes."

They are, in fact.
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Good, good. Leekath reads it over to see if there are any hiccups.

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Well.

She did kill a guy once. And her vampirism could theoretically present a problem, if she got particularly hungry in a public place. But she's noted that if she's well-fed there's no trouble, and that the manslaughter was completely unintentional and mostly her father's fault, and that she has absolutely no intention of killing anyone else.
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"I don't know how a decent quality translation spell will render the name of your species, but you probably shouldn't continue to call yourself by the same words I'm using. It will set up the wrong expectations and upset people. We have procedures for feeding my species if we wind up in public housing. I'm not sure how that would be managed for you; can you tell me what you need such that it could actually be provided by a government agency in more detail?"
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"Well... if I got a job at a salon or, I don't know, polishing dragons or something, I could do what I've been doing. Otherwise, there's always the 'weekly sex with someone or other' route. I've got enough self-control to keep myself from killing anyone with that, and it's not totally horrible, it's just- not my favorite thing."

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"Prostitution is legal in Esmaar but it is very much not customary to hire them for people in public housing. You will definitely have to disclose the risks of having sex with you to anybody you have sex with, anyway. I don't actually know if dragon-polishing is a job or if that would be like, I don't know, brushing other people's teeth... I don't have our copy of Statute Rulings here -"

Bar provides a copy of Statute Rulings.

"Where's that nice chart..." Pause. Leekath turns to 898. "Okay." Peer peer. "I think it is in fact legal for you to not tell anybody what's going on if you get a job at a salon, but that means nobody's going to know how your job interacts directly with your feeding needs and you wouldn't be able to get special consideration against layoffs or anything if that came up..."
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"There's no risks to the salon thing," says Sky indignantly. "It just feels really nice and you're tired for a little bit. And I wasn't talking about prostitution, just- going out and being aggressively pretty at people until one's into it. Though the disclosure might make that harder. It's not risky for that either, I have a ton of practice, but I can see where disclosure would be necessary given the theoretical risk of ripping out their souls."

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"Yes, you definitely have to tell people if you're at theoretical risk of ripping out their souls, and - look, my kind of vampires are the sole existing precedent you have to work with for feeding off other people, even if you aren't drinking blood. And we always ask and everybody knows exactly what we're doing. Even making people tired or making them feel nicer than they normally would while receiving salon services is slightly iffy. I think you're within legal parameters about it but that's not saying terribly much."

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"Sorry. I'm just- used to working outside the law, in a lot of ways it's more convenient that way. But it's better to be doing it... right, I think."

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"Right. If nothing else Esmaar has very good law enforcement. Nothing you put down here would let you get around it, so whatever you're used to, you need to become used to obeying Esmaarlan law if you want to live there."

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"Yeah. I think I'll- let it be known, then, I don't know if somebody could detect it or something and I wouldn't want to be caught out about it. And if that makes people too worried to let me at their hair I'll, I don't know, find a boyfriend or something. Or trawl the local college for guys sexually frustrated enough to ignore my draining their spirit energy. That's a classic."

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"I mean, you won't be competing with a lot of other members of your species for access to people who'd be interested, you just may have an initial marketing problem and I'm not sure the government will be able to be responsible for it from the get-go," says Leekath. "That's the only serious wrinkle I see. You still would prefer to immigrate rather than go home, given it?"

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"Huh. I guess it's a marketable skill, in a way. Yes, I'd like to get out of my horrible permanent war zone of a world."

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"Okay. We'll see if the door will cooperate with the plan. I can sign these, I've got the licence for it, but obviously you can't immigrate if you can't physically enter Esmaar, so they won't take de facto effect right away." Leekath signs the papers in a few places. "You'll still probably have to do this all over again but this will get you as far as the office that's supposed to handle the thing."

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"I don't mind doing it over. Thank you, so much. Do you want to, um, stay in contact, when I get to Esmaar? I mean, we don't know each other very well, but- I'm not really going to know anyone."

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"I don't mind. I'll probably also put you in touch with one of my old teachers, she's from offworld too and likes helping people to an almost pathological degree."

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"Pathological help sounds- nice. I'd love to meet her."

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"Sure."

Leekath tries the door again. It vanishes. She sits back down.
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Sky quietly orders a fruit salad from the bar.

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▫1.04.

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She pays after examining her coins in some confusion.

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And she receives a fruit salad! It is a nice fruit salad, slightly lemony.

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Mm, lemons.

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And the next time Leekath tries the door, it lets them into the halls of Parliament, and she is miraculously not already late for her meeting, and she casts a translation spell on Sky and teleports her to an office that will reprocess her immigration and bids her good day.