Friday, October 9, 2020

VtM: Ghostly Traces

 "Take care of it," muttered Lucien, as he descended the steps. "Take care of it! As if she were the sire and I but her childe! That woman will be the true death of me yet..."

Still, it was probably better that he came alone; Bianca might charm the ghost with a song, but she knew nothing of fighting or even the most minimal forms of caution; she tended to assume that everyone would naturally adore her, and she was correct just often enough to make it difficult to argue with her. Not, he thought, that I've ever argued her out of anything she truly wanted to do...

He was still muttering when he reached the bottom of the stairs. "Ghosts, yet. Bad enough I must have peasants in our dwelling while we sleep, now it seems we have a ghost as well."

In truth, he was not certain that they did. Ghosts did exist, but it would be strange to find one here; as he understood it, they were most often bound to one particular place or object, unless summoned deliberately through necromancy. Despite the recent unpleasantness, neither scenario seemed particularly likely. But there were other things that also existed out at the brittle edges of mortal perceptions, and might easily be mistaken for ghosts...

Fortunately, he was not limited to mortal perceptions. Extending his senses, Lucien looked around the room again. It was still empty of life, nothing new revealed to his eyes or ears, but... he scented something, paused, then drew a deep breath to fully taste the air. 

There was dust, of course, despite the best efforts of the peasants to keep the place clean. A hint of oil and ozone, the traces of the machines that kept the walk-in refrigerator and freezer cold. And there, a faint smell of decay, and under it, teasing, elusive...

...was the scent of blood. 

It took Lucien less than a minute to locate the corpses of what had once been a family of rats, lined up along the edge of the far wall behind a row of canned goods that he and Bianca would never touch. They were curiously organized, laid nose to tail, nose to tail, and despite decaying to the point of desiccation they appeared to be intact; whatever had killed them had done no visible damage.

Extending his senses like this had sometimes brought Lucien strange and unexpected insights, and he could feel one building now. The room was still bright with electric light, every surface visible, but he was increasingly certain that there was something he wasn't seeing. Something — someone? — was in here in the room with him, watching him... 

...standing behind him.

Lucien spun to his feet, arms raised, fangs extended, and found himself looking at... Nothing. The room was still empty. No. I do not believe that. There was something here, he knew it. And he trusted that knowledge more than he trusted his more immediate senses. 

Abruptly, the sense of being watched was gone. Then the sense of presence began to fade. A moment after that he was alone. The ghost — whatever it was — had gone.

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