152 A Stolen Item?*
Protests and exclamations of shock arose from the crowd quickly. This was a World-Class Auction, how could Rouke Island allow their security to be so lax as to allow an item to disappear so quickly?
"I've never seen anything quite like it," Falla frowned, "One moment the item is before us and the next it is not? Sounds like a Magician's work".
Aegin raised an eyebrow at Rassa, who had stood upon seeing the fox girl disappear, "What?"
"Did you see?" asked Rassa.
"That's what we were saying, no one saw who took it. It was as if we all imagined it to be there," Aegin frowned.
"No, not the statue, the thief," Rassa insisted, "Did you see her?"
Ebony turned to Rassa, "You mean you did?"
"Of course, I-"
Rassa paused, unsure how to describe her. By the looks of her, it was unlikely any of them would be able to catch her. Rassa pulled on the shadows around himself, "I'll be back".
Falla, Aegin and Ebony all watched as Rassa seemed to sink into the floor beneath their seats before he was gone without a trace.
Falla seemed the most surprised, she had yet to see Rassa use this skill of his, and so was ready to comment on it before she realised that Ebony and Aegin had barely blinked. Clearly, this was an ability Rassa had used often before.
In a shadowed corner of the hall, the shadows themselves seemed to bend and change as they rose from the ground, solidifying into the form of a pale young man with dark eyes that pierced the night around him with ease. There were no witnesses as the man tilted his head to the side to focus his hearing, then scented the air for his prey. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he disappeared back into the shadows again.
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Again, he appeared further up the mountain, using his senses to survey the surrounding area. But nothing alerted him and seemed out of the ordinary. Again at the base of the mountain.
Rassa grew frustrated. His senses had never failed him before. Why now of all times? He turned to meld into the shadows once more, only to feel the shift in the wind and a light and evocative scent invade his nose.
A giggle rose up.
"Aren't you a determined one..."
Rassa spun to face the voice, then stepped back as a set of claws much like his own swiped for his face. He hissed, feeling his fangs lengthen in anticipation of the fight this woman was asking for.
He paused a few steps away from her as she delicately twirled in place to face him, her eyes mischeivious and arrogant as they perused him.
She giggled and lunged forward. Rassa growled and did the same, meeting her claw for claw. She was very light on her feet, practically dancing around him. It made Rassa's elegant moves look like that of a barbarian. Rassa flicked the shadows in her direction to restrain her, and she grinned, her hand turning palm up as it cupped a blue flame that arose from her skin. The flame stung the shadows, warding them away.
"Curious little thing aren't you? Fighting claw with claw and now magic and magic, what else have you got in your little arsenal?" she grinned.
Rassa gave way to his frustration, he let his instincts take him over as he lunged forward.
The girl's eyes widened as she saw him coming right for her, and then all of a sudden she disappeared. Vanished like she hadn't been there before. Rassa felt his instincts fade in surprise, and he turned to survey the area around him. He stilled, waiting for an inevitable attack. After a moment of silence, he hissed.
"Come out, fox," Rassa said, "You stole what does not belong to you".
She reappeared gradually as her anger took her over, and Rassa sensed her just as she was within a few centimetres of stabbing him with her claws. He spun, catching her arms and spinning her before he slammed her against a nearby tree, trapping her there.
She shrieked in rage, trying to turn but failing under Rassa's strength.
"Who are you, fox?"
"I could ask the same of you!" she snapped, "How did you find me? You are no fox!"
"You are in no position to ask questions, now who are you?"
She struggled for a moment before relenting, breathing heavily as she spoke, "Just kill me. You have bested me so it is your right".
Rassa frowned, "I don't have any desire to kill you. I just want to know if you're the fox the rumours were talking about in regards to the Fairy Forest".
The fox froze, "What rumours?"
"About the woman with fox ears and a tail who grants wishes," Rassa replied.
The fox chuckled. Rassa frowned, his grip loosening in his confusion. The woman seemed to disappear again, breaking from his hold as the world suddenly turned darker around him, and gravestones began to rise from the earth. In the distance was a shrine, atop which was the jade fox statue that had been at the Auction. A shadow rose from the earth with a malicious grin and took the statue, then the fox girl appeared beside the empty shrine.
"I took back what is rightfully mine and was stolen from me. Nothing else. Leave this matter and that of the Fairy Forest be, stranger. This is not a path you should tread. I sense you have already chosen your own".
Then, just as quickly as the world had turned into a graveyard, Rassa found himself standing in the forest at the base of the mountain, alone.
There was no reply. Rassa growled and turned, punching the tree he had pinned the fox woman against. There was an almighty crack as the tree splintered and fell. Then the world was silent as Rassa tried to process what the hell had just happened.
Meanwhile, in the Auction Hall, the only thing the audience was told after an hour was that the original owner had reclaimed the item and that if any of the owners wished to do the same, they should do so immeidately before the Auction began anew. Everyone there knew it was a false excuse, clearly the Auction Hall had no idea how this had happened either.
Ebony, Falla and Aegin watched in silence for most of the night, Rassa did not return, but they did not worry. The Vampire had proven more than once that he could look after himself.