Chapter 1 : Evening
Anton twisted the small dial on the side of his quartz watch to adjust it to the correct local time. Still nearly an hour away from his meeting and feeling peckish he had entered the hotels dining area and had taken a seat near the far end of the bar.
This particular area was on the sixth floor of the hotel and was more akin to a lounge rather than an actual restaurant. Subdued lighting, soft music and the view of the nighttime cityscape that could be appreciated through the large windows that made up the majority of the exterior wall, all worked to give it an ambiance of class as opposed to the more casual true restaurant on the ground floor. A long balcony ran along the length of the lounge and had been set up as an outdoor sitting area that catered primarily to beings that were capable of flight. Although this lounge was found in an out of the way area of the hotel it was still technically open to the public, least to those that knew it existed.
Anton ordered a toasted sandwich and a coffee. He spent the next several hours alternating between people watching and his phone. Although he had no reason to suspect otherwise he had the sinking suspicion that his contact “Issac” was not going to show.
To pass the time he busied himself by following the conversations of the few other patrons that came and went throughout the evening. Generally it was merely casual banter between coworkers traveling together for business with the occasional couple thrown into the mix.
As the hour grew later his irritation began to set in deeper. This wouldn’t be the first time or the last that he would have to deal with this flighty phantom and already his mind was running through scenarios of how to make him pay for the lost time. Glancing at his watch he grimaced at the late hour and decided that he’d give it a few more minutes before calling it a night.
He ordered a cola from the barkeep and scanned the lounge by way of the long mirror behind and above the bar. There were only a few other patrons left at this hour. A male minotaur sat at the opposite end of the bar from himself, a pair of youthful looking female dark elves were at a far off corner table, while a couple, both human looking, were at their own table near the entrance. And finally what Anton assumed to be a male drake, it could be difficult to tell with his kind, sat at a cushioned sectional that was set up around a flat-screened television that had been mounted up on the wall behind a decorative frame. These few were all that remained.
On his cursory glance Anton noted that the two dark elves were both looking his way. Having had more than enough interaction with their kind in his past, he certainly wasn’t feeling flattered by their attention tonight. Were he to be alone with them he might have been a bit more cautious but as it was and in the mood he was in, he could hardly bring himself to be concerned with the likes of these dark elves.
That being said, he still couldn’t help but to grin to himself as he noticed that the other patrons, as well as the barkeep, were all independently keeping a pointed, watchful eye on the two dark elves. Their concern was more than justified considering what these slave-mongering beings were potentially capable of. The human couple in particular were having a difficult time keeping their anxious glaces discreet. While the drake, his face mostly obscured by the newspaper he was reading, made no effort to hide his distaste.
With features that were reminiscent of a theropod dinosaur it was easy enough to understand why the drakes would often be referred to as the “Dragonkin” though that name was technically misleading as even while the drakes were a reptilian race and had an appearance that was similar to a small wing-less dragon, they were still not directly related to any of the true draconian species and did not have the ability to fly, or to transform into massive beast forms in the way that the more powerful true draconian races could.
This particular drake looked like he would stand around six feet tall, and like all of his kind had a body that was covered completely in scales. His short iguana-like snout and the two rows of small, sharply pointed horns running from where his eyebrows would be to the back of his skull gave a very dragon-like look to his face. Off white colored, quill-like feathers grew out from between these horns and flowed down to the back of his head, in the same manner that the hair would on a human.
Several rows of broad, crocodilian-like plated scales ran from the base of his skull down his neck, spine and to the tip of his long tail. These rugged looking scales were what led Anton to believe this individual was a male, as the females of the species tended to have scales that were smoother in appearance as well as a much more slender, lithe body type. Especially when compared to their more “Armored” looking male counterparts.
This drakes pupils were solid black vertical slits that moved about in the olive green sclera of his eyes. His body scales were colored a dark metallic-like gunmetal gray and were mottled with an iridescent green that gave him a two-toned appearance whenever he moved about in the light. The scales on this individuals belly, from his chest downwards, were a dark beige in color. Though Anton couldn’t see this at the moment, due to the navy blue collared tee-shirt and khaki shorts that the drake was currently wearing.
The drakes legs were digitigrade in design and he wore no shoes on his feet, which each consisted of four clawed toes and a fifth dewclaw. The dewclaws were located on the insides of his legs just below his raised ankles. Since these claws were held up off the ground they were not nearly as worn down as the ones that were on the actual toes. And there were many drakes who could skillfully use these dewclaws as an effective weapon in a manner that was reminiscent of the dinosaurian raptors.
Anton had always found it interesting to see how well the reptilian races could still convey their emotions on their faces, at least when they choose to, and this drake was no different. With his eyes tightened in annoyance and the corners of his mouth curled downwards into an obvious frown. His apprehension was clear on his face as he blatantly monitored the dark elves over the newspaper he held in his clawed hands.
Confident in his own abilities and having no fear of the dark elves himself. Anton left the drake to his self-appointed task of keeping an eye on the potential troublemakers.
Taking his phone back out of his pocket, he took the moment to check his emails and social media platforms and before he realized it, time had slipped away and he was brought back to the present by the minotaur paying his bill and leaving from his seat.
Standing nearly seven feet tall at his full height, and with a shoulder span of over four feet, the minotaur was an impressive sight to behold. His bovine-like head sat high atop a thick neck that rose out from the center of his broad shoulders. Two thick, bull-like horns sprouted out from either side of his massive skull, and these grew out sideways before curving sharply forward and tapering off to thin points. These horns were a dirty, brownish gray in color that darkened to a full black at their pointed tips. His eyes were large dark circles surrounded by a light blue sclera, and while positioned on the sides of his head, which gave him a wide range of vision, were still far enough forward for him to see clearly in front of himself. Like the creatures he so resembled, the minotaur’s ears, nose, lips and his long tail, which came complete with a tuft of fur at the end, were all reminiscent to those of a bovine.
The majority of his face and body was covered in a short, thin coat of black colored hair, which thinned out around his eyes, nose, mouth and atop his wrists, just before reaching the fingers of his large, human-like hands. His skin, wherever it could be seen around his hair, was a very dark brown in color.
His thick, column-like legs were digitigrade in design and ended in a pair of broad, dinner plate sized cloven hooves. He wore no actual shoes over his hoofed feet but instead had a thick, rubber pad planted beneath his hooves. This pad prevented his hooves from both causing any damage to indoor flooring as well as keeping them from making clopping noises as he walked across any hardwood or tiled floors. These pads were held in place by straps that crossed over and around the tops of his hooves. The belt-like straps were so thin that they disappeared beneath the longer hairs that grew around the tops of his hooves and were thus hidden from sight. His hooves, like his horns, were a dirty, brownish gray in color.
Although still naturally brutish at first sight, from the simple virtue of being a minotaur, this individual was actually very well groomed in appearance. Both his horns and hooves had been given a deep polish that left them with a clean looking sheen, and his fingernails and coat, including the tuft of fur at the end of his tail, were both well kept and clearly manicured. And while he wasn’t quite as hulking in overall size as some members of his species could be, he still possessed a great deal of bulk to his body and it was more than easy enough to believe that a powerful set of well maintained musculature was hidden beneath the dark gray business suit that he currently wore.
Anton watched the minotaur leave the lounge via the mirror and noted that both the drake and the human couple had already left as well. Thinking nothing of it, he glanced over at the dark elves and found that they were both still watching him intently. As they made eye contact through the mirror the dark elves each smiled at him and he immediately felt their intentions were more predatory than friendly. He sighed in annoyance as they both rose from their seats and made their way towards him.
Superficially, the elves as a whole were nearly identical to humans in both size and overall appearance, though dark elves in particular were generally a bit taller than both humans and the other elven races, and the two species could be told apart by only a few key differences in their features.
Both of these dark elves had similar enough looking facial structure and features that it would be difficult to believe that they weren’t related. Their rich, cocoa colored skin contrasted heavily against the brightness of their pure white hair, which they each had styled straight and cut at shoulder length.
Their eyes were human-like in design but were slightly larger than what a humans would normally be, and their irises were a vividly bright, ruby red in color. They were both identical in height at a little over five and a half feet, which would make them somewhat shorter for dark elves.
As it was with all the elven races, their most distinguishing features were easily their ears. At about seven inches in length their ears were long, thin and tapered to a sharp point at their tips. They were positioned on their heads in the same location that they would be if on a human. Unlike a human however, the elves possessed a set of musculature along the base of their ears that allowed them to move their ears in dynamic ways. Like many other species whose ears also possessed a range of motion, the elves would utilize their ears as a form of communication via body language. When at rest, the ears would sit with their tips pointed upwards and back at a forty-five degree angle. But by paying attention to the position and direction that the ears moved and were pointed in, it would be possible to determine the mood, emotions and even the state of mind of the elf in question. Although it was entirely possible for the elves to fully control the movements of their ears, it was often the case that their ears would respond and position themselves subconsciously. And this could easily lead to embarrassing situations wherein others would be alerted to the emotional state of an elf by the betrayal of it’s ears.
“Hey there stranger!” exclaimed the first dark elf as she took a seat at the bar next to Anton on his left.
“Mind if we join you?” asked the other as she took her place on the other side of him.
“Ladies” said Anton as he slipped his phone into his pocket “I appreciate the attention but unfortunately I’m afraid I’ll have to be going”
“What! What’s the rush!?” asked the first dark elf.
This ones hair was cut just a bit shorter than the other ones, and didn’t quite reach her shoulders. She leaned in towards Anton and gave him a good look at her ample cleavage as she flashed a dazzlingly white smile at him.
True to their species hedonistic nature, both of the dark elves were dressed in a manner that could hardly be considered modest. They both wore black, low cut form-fitting evening gowns with conveniently placed diamond shaped cut-outs that showed off their midriffs, shoulders and lower backs. Cuff-like bracelets, neckbands and armlets all made of silken materials completed their look of casual dominance. Surprisingly, they wore no actual jewelry in their ears, around their necks or on their fingers which was odd for their kind. The closest either of them came to such ornaments were golden letter K’s linked to a golden chain around the second ones bracelet.
Noticing that he had glanced at her accessory the dark elf raised her wrist to show it off.
“You like?” she mused “The K stands for Kianna and this is my sister Fiona”
“Twin sister!” exclaimed Fiona with another smile.
“How exciting” mumbled Anton.
“Yes, it is…” said Fiona as she very lightly began to poke her fingertip on his forearm.
Anton sighed through his nose and pulled out his wallet. Dropping nearly ten dollars more than he owned on the bar, he motioned for the barkeep to keep the change.
Inclining his head in thanks the older human man took the money and quickly went back to drying glasses.
Moving only her eyes, Fiona glanced at her sister and gave her a look as if to urge her on.
“Uh! Now why are you in such a hurry!?” exclaimed Kianna as she quickly put her hand on Anton’s shoulder and tentatively pressed her bosom against his upper arm.
“I’m afraid I was meant to meet someone here” sighed Anton as he looked her in the eyes establishing his intentions with both his words and demeanor “Since they haven’t showed, I intend to find out why”
The dark elf frowned at him but remained where she was.
Irritation getting the better of him, Anton let his aura expand out from his being and blanket the area around him. The air became thick and heavy as he filled it with his message of power. Both of the dark elves immediately shivered but neither of them moved from where they sat.
“Oh! Did you feel that?” asked Kianna as she tightened her shoulders “That was weird…”
Anton leaned his head back a bit as he gave her a perplexed look. The dark elf stared back at him for a moment before her brow pinched ever so slightly. Seemingly unnerved by the look he was giving her she lowered her ears a bit.
“What!?” she asked as she smiled sheepishly.
Taken aback by the sight of a dark elf actually lowering her own ears, Anton went to speak but was interrupted by the barkeep clearing his throat.
“Sir, I apologize but if you wouldn’t mind. We do have guests that may be trying to sleep at this time” he said as professionally as he could.
“Oh, of course” said Anton as he released his aura “I apologize, I didn’t intend to disturb anyone”
“Oh no, I understand” said the barkeep as he shook his head “I just ask that you please maintain control, if at all possible”
“Hm, of course” said Anton with a nod.
“Thank you” said the barkeep as he inclined his head. Smiling to both of the dark elves he inclined his head again and made his way back to the other end of the bar.
“Okay…?” questioned Fiona as she continued to repeatedly poke her fingertip on Anton’s arm “What was that about?”
“I don’t know?” mumbled Kianna as she watched the barkeep begin to cut a lime into wedges “That guys kinda weird!”
Anton arched an eyebrow as he looked from one dark elf to another. Intrigued he rested his elbows on the bar in front of him.
“So you ladies are Dark Elves, right?” he asked as he smiled at one then the other.
“Mm hm, through and through!” hummed Fiona as she smiled back at him “And we’re as dark as they come!”
“Hm, is that right!” smiled Anton as he looked from her to Kianna.
The dark elf was still hanging off of him and was now staring at her own hand as she continued to leave it resting on his shoulder. When she noticed he had turned to her she quickly gave him a toothless smile as her eyes darted to his. Her ears had returned to a relaxed position at his first glance but had now pointed themselves straight upwards, which gave her a sort of “Happy” or “Excited” look.
“So, I hear your kind can be pretty mean?” Anton asked playfully as he tilted his head to the side.
“Sometimes, I guess” answered Kianna as she mimicked him by tilting her head in the same way.
Anton narrowed his eyes a bit as he let a tiny wave of his aura wash into the dark elf as she leaned against him. Watching intently he was quickly surprised by what he saw.
Kianna blinked and seemed to become confused by the sudden sensation. Failing to register the assault for what it was or where it came from, she pressed herself in closer and shivered as her ears again lowered themselves.
“Are you okay?” asked Anton as he grinned at her.
The dark elf gave him a look that was laced with both nervousness and embarrassment as she leaned away from him.
“Ah, yeah! Sorry!” she answered as she shivered again “I think another one of those weird feelings just hit me…”
“Probably just the A/C kicking on!” exclaimed Fiona as she gave her sister a pointed look “Not really something you should be overreacting about!”
Kianna looked over at her and tightened her eyes in annoyance.
Grinning to himself Anton turned to Fiona and began to run his own finger down her arm as he locked eyes with her.
“Now, now, be nice!” he teased as he let his aura spread out around her “It was Fiona, right?”
The dark elf blinked as her whole body seemed to tighten up. Keeping her smile in place, she worked to brush off the effects of his aura as she nodded and leaned in closer.
“That’s right!” she cooed as her eyes darted to his ring-less fingers “And what was your name again, uh, handsome!?”
“Well, I think “Handsome” works as well as anything” mocked Anton as he gave the dark elf a playful smile “So why don’t we just go with that for now!”
“Oh, well aren’t you a funny one! Mr. Handsome!” quipped Fiona as she raised her other arm and rested her chin against the back of her palm “So, since your “Meeting” didn’t work out. Why don’t you share a drink with us?”
“I might just do that…” mused Anton as he let another wave of power roll into Kianna.
The dark elf tightened her grip on his shoulder as she made a small sound.
“Uh! Hey, I think I’m gonna maybe find a different spot!” she exclaimed as she let go of Anton and dropped down off the bar stool “This place is kinda giving me the creeps!”
Fiona turned and stared at her as Kianna moved away from the bar and stood behind Anton.
“What are you talking about!” she asked through her smiling teeth “We’re doing fine right here!”
Kianna crossed her arms and held herself at the elbows as she glared at her sister. Fiona opened her eyes as wide as she could as she gave her sister a “What are you doing!” type of look.
Anton had a small smirk on his face as he watched the quarreling dark elves through the mirror over the bar. He was familiar enough with dark elves to immediately recognize that these two were not typical and try as he might he couldn’t help but to become interested in playing with them. Deciding to push things a little further he let a thicker wave of his aura reach out and engulf the standing dark elf.
Kianna stiffed and widened her eyes as she tucked her arms in closer around her torso. She clearly had no idea what was happening. It was both amusing and yet very surprising that she would somehow fail to recognize such a basic act of sorcery.
Catching motion out of the corner of his eye. Anton glanced down to the other end of the bar and found that the old man was also staring at the standing dark elf. The look on his face made it obvious that he too was as equally confused by her apparent lack of resistance.
Emboldened by having an audience, Anton smiled and laced his aura with a bit more power in an effort to further influence the unsuspecting dark elf.
Both of the sisters were still glaring at each other as Fiona indicated with slight head nods that Kianna should return to her seat, and the standing dark elf was shaking her head ever so slightly as she set her jaw in defiance.
As the new wave of power flowed through the aura surrounding her, Kianna gasped softly as her breath caught in her throat. Fiona’s glare shifted to a look of concern as she watched her sisters eyes become laced with unease and her ears point themselves straight upwards.
“Kianna” said Anton as he watched her through the mirror.
The startled dark elf turned and looked at him immediately but said nothing as she stared at the back of his head.
“I understand that you’re feeling a little uneasy but I really don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about” said Anton in a calm but stern tone “So would you come and sit back down with us, please?”
The dark elf’s brow creased as she pointed her ears straight back in obvious annoyance. She opened her mouth to speak but stopped short as Anton doubled the amount of power surrounding her.
“I really think it would be a shame if you decided to leave right now” continued Anton as a thin smile spread across his face “It’s not everyday that I get a chance to talk to such a lovely, lady Dark Elf after all, and I’d like to get to know you a little better, if you don’t mind…”
Standing motionless, Kianna stared at him for a moment longer before slowly closing her mouth.
“…You do?” she questioned quietly as she narrowed her eyes at him “You want to, know me?”
“…Yes?” answered Anton with a broader smile “If that’s alright with you?”
Moving only her eyes, Kianna looked from Anton to the empty bar stool and back before blinking in uncertainty and lowering her ears. Clearly unsure of her own actions, she slowly moved towards the bar stool and silently took her seat.
“Well hey there” said Anton cheerfully as he released his aura “Welcome back”
Kianna didn’t respond as she stared back at him. Her bright, ruby colored eyes had taken on a new level of intensity as she seemed to be giving him a deeper assessment.
Anton couldn’t help but to find the dark elf endearingly cute in her seemingly confused state, and despite his better judgment, he began to let himself relax his guard a bit as he gave her another broad smile.
Apparently sensing Anton’s lack of fear on some subliminal level, Kianna’s ears pointed themselves straight upwards as she eased herself back and blinked up at him. Her large eyes widened even further as a light bashful looking blush suddenly spread across her cheeks. Turning away to collect herself, she shook her head before going still and staring off at nothing.
Anton watched her for a moment before glancing to the side and finding the old man staring at the dark elf as well. Locking eyes for a second the older barkeep quickly looked away and shook his head at the odd sight.
“Hey! Kianna!” called Fiona as she leaned forward to look around Anton at her sister “…Are you okay over there!?”
“Huh!?” cried Kianna as she blinked and looked back at her sister “I’m sorry… What, what were we talking about?”
Kianna’s ears had settled back to their relaxed state and she no longer had a look of unease on her face.
“You… kinda spaced out there for a second?” said Fiona as she narrowed her eyes at her sister “You good now?”
“Oh, right! Sorry!” exclaimed Kianna as her ears twitched up and down “Yeah, I’m fine! I’m, not sure what that was…”
“Maybe you just need a drink?” suggested Anton as he grinned down at her.
Kianna looked up at him for a moment before tilting her head to the side and looking from him to her sister and back.
“Do you like strawberries?” he asked as his grin grew into a smile.
“Um, yeah…” she said as her ears twitched a bit more “They’re good”
Anton turned to Fiona with the same question in his eyes.
“Sure” said Fiona with a shrug.
“Sir!” called Anton as he raised two fingers “Two strawberry daiquiris and a rum and cola please!”
The barkeep nodded and immediately began to mix the drinks.
“Well thank you Mr. Handsome!” exclaimed Fiona.
“Of course” said Anton as he looked back and forth between them “So, what brings you two through here tonight?”
“Oh, we were just lonely and thought that maybe we could find some company…” said Fiona as she leaned away and smiled “Isn’t that right!? Kianna!?”
“Huh? Oh, uh, yeah!” stammered Kianna as she quickly moved closer to Anton and lightly pressed herself against him “We were really lonely!”
“Is that right…” mused Anton as he looked down at Kianna “You poor little things…”
Moving swiftly, the barkeep set the three drinks down in front of them and inclined his head as Anton handed him two twenty dollar bills. Without a word he made his way back to the other end of the bar.
Anton gave his drink a light swirl before taking a small sip and setting it back on the bar in front of himself. Both of the dark elves had taken quick sips of their own drinks as well.
“Mm!” hummed Kianna as she licked her upper lip and gave her drink a quick swirl with the little straw that came with it.
“Taste good?” asked Anton as he turned to her.
“It does!” declared the dark elf “I like this! Thank you!”
Anton grinned as he watched her take another long sip.
A slight movement in the mirror above the bar suddenly caught his eye. Turning just enough to see clearly he frowned as he watched Fiona reach over to his drink. She had a small white bottle in her hand and as he watched she squirted a short stream of clear liquid into his drink before quickly pulling her arm back to herself.
Anton slowly turned his head and again locked eyes with the barkeeper. The old man was on his way towards them but he stopped in his tracks as Anton smiled and shook his head. Cocking an eyebrow the old man watched as Anton lifted his glass and gave his drink another light swirl.
“Well now, this is interesting…” mused Anton to himself as he watched the remnants of the drug dissolve into the rest of his drink “Silly little poachers…”
Looking from one dark elf and then back to the other, he found them both staring at him intently. Smiling again he raised his glass in salute to the barkeep before taking a long gulp. Shaking his head the old man smirked and walked away.
“Oh… This is a cheap one!” declared Anton as he grimaced in disgust at the tinfoil-like taste “You’ll want to move things along pretty quick! I don’t think this one is going to last very long at all!”
Both of the dark elves were dumbfounded as they watched him take another swallow of his tainted drink.
“You know… the thing I love most about scenarios like this…” muttered Anton as he gave his glass a light shake to swirl his drink “Is that I have no reason to feel bad about whatever happens…”
The sisters looked at each other before focusing back on Anton as he took another drink.
“Hm… Mm, mm, mm” mumbled Anton as he ran his tongue across his teeth in an effort to dilute the taste in his mouth “I’m going to really enjoy myself with this…”
“Hm, oh yeah!” hummed Fiona as a wicked looking smile spread across her face “We’re going to have a great time together!”
Anton gave her a tired look and shook his head before taking another drink.
“That’s always been the problem with you Dark Elves…” he said as he ran his tongue through his mouth again “You can never bring yourselves to listen to anything you’re told…”
Tilting his head back he gulped down the last of his drink before setting the glass down on the bar in front of himself.
Fiona leaned away from him as he turned and gave her a cold smile.
“I said that “I” was going to really enjoy this…” declared Anton as his vision began to go black along the edges “I never said that you would…”
Next Chapter : Guilty x Creatures : Dark Elf Arc : Chapter 2