260 The Hardship of the Hun
Despite his best attempts, Aegin found himself preferring the solace of night to the liveliness of day. It was as if everything was working against him. He wanted to turn one way, but his instincts would take him another. He wanted to move among the crowds and interact with the market vendors, but instead he was drawn to the side alleys where thieves plotted their next job. It was an endless cycle of wanting one thing and being drawn towards another, so much so that Aegin began to question what he truly wanted.
The answer really, was quite simple. Blood. Of course he wanted blood.
Once he reached that conclusion, he found himself stuck again in the limbo that Estode was becoming. He may have been immortal now, but he still felt time. Or at least he had yet to grow used to it not being a factor anymore. He was not about to wait in this limbo for years just to grow accustomed to his new reality. But even if he was determined to leave, he had no idea where he wished to go.
The frustration of his situation led him to become less cautious. He found himself taking larger risks, and then reprimanding himself for them. Of course, he would probably survive even if the entire population of Estode was to hunt him down – one did not simply hunt a hunter – but that didn't mean that word wouldn't spread…and he was still conflicted on whether or not he wanted to be found.
These conflicted thoughts however were decided on a night at the beginning of what the South deemed 'the winter'. The Southern Continent only saw weather that was cold enough to produce snow on its highest peaks and at it's most southern parts. Estode was neither. Sure it received a chilly wind from the sea, and it rained more than usual, perhaps, in the depths of winter, there would even be a frost on the grass when the sun rose, but in all, the weather was at worst consistent with Eldovia's Autumn.
Not that temperature seemed to bother Aegin anymore. Still, when you had little else to do, you found yourself thinking of the changes in the world that you saw less in your busy moments. Aegin had a lot of those now. He'd even stopped to consider if perhaps this was akin to what the Other had felt when locked in those mines. Why he had been so ready to hear of the changing world outside. Rather than being stuck in a cell, was more so that he himself had reserved himself to remaining unchanged? Aegin had shaken the thoughts from his head with a scoff.
On this night, Aegin was hunting closer to the docks. He'd found it easier than in the sectors of the city where the permanent residents lived. Easier because those he hunted in the docks were less likely to actually reside in Estode. If they went missing, it wouldn't be as much of a problem for the city itself.
Aegin sailed over the gaps between buildings, his footsteps on the tiled rooftops far lighter than they had already been in his previous life. He was put a shadow moving over the city towards the docks, and no one bothered to take a second glance towards him. The Bloodstone around his neck thumped against his chest with nearly every step, though even those were too fast for it's staccato rhythm at times.
With a barely legible whoosh, Aegin paused on the roof top of one of the inns just one street back from the dock yards. He perched on the peak of the roof, squatting down comfortably as he closed his eyes to focus his hearing better.
What dark shadows lurked in Alleys tonight that would be his meal?
He gave himself to the hunt with ease, sinking into it like one of the exercises he'd done to ready his muscles for a hard training session. Only this felt even more natural. After all, it had never been something he'd trained for.
The sounds from the inn below travelled up. Those in their rooms, moving around, softly humming, sleeping...one couple was indulging in each other passionately enough that Aegin couldn't help but spare a thought for their neighbours. He skimmed passed them to the tavern room, a few sailors still drinking, some singing a merry tune with the resident muse.
Aegin sifted further, away from the Tavern to the nearby alleys and streets. A few who had already drunk too much. A few more who were on their way to start drowning in ale. There was a brothel a few streets over that seemed to be getting just as much if not more business than the inns and taverns.
A few dock workers, a few business owners closing up for the day, a patrol of city guards - best to avoid there - a couple of stray dogs and cats, mice in abundance, a couple of women walking home and...oh, there was dinner.
The Shadow on the rooftop opened it's crimson eyes and dashed to the south, three buildings, six, ten buildings in an instant, then it paused, just above an alleyway peering down as the two young women approached the entrance from the main street.
There, directly below, with greasy, unwashed hair and a dagger beginning to rust clutched in his hand, stood dinner. Aegin curled up a lip in disgust. Just, delectable. The hunger urged him to go after the women instead. Aegin shook it off, lowering himself from the rooftop and dropping straight down into the alley. He landed but a metre behind the man, bending his knees to absorb the impact of dropping from a four storey building, then he rose slowly, his dark brown cotton falling into place over his cotton shirt. It was the only item of clothing Aegin could buy that had a hood. Aegin stepped up slowly behind the man. The man, yet to notice Aegin, went to take a step forward just as the two women came into view.
Aegin stepped forward with him, one hand taking the man's shoulder to yank him back and the other slamming over the man's mouth. The man let out a muffled shout of surprise as he was pulled back into the alley.
The women at the end of the alley paused.
"Did you hear something?"
They both glanced at each other, then the dark alley. Nothing moved there, but they had a strange feeling that they were being watched.
"Come on, this doesn't feel right, let's go".
The two hurried away.
Aegin turned his gaze to the man who struggled between him and the brick wall of the building, he gave a glance to the weapon that the man was attempting to move from where Aegin held his arm, then sighed.
"Such a lack of care for the weapon you wield. You can't hope for it to protect you if you let it rust," Aegin huffed, "Not that it would be much use against me. And it doesn't really matter now anyway. Try not to move too much, I'll gag enough from the scent of you, I don't need your filth following me home".
Then Aegin forced the man's head to the side and opened his mouth, his fangs extending expectantly before he drove them into his meal's neck.