The Empire 
outfit, also wearing this bangle

There was that pervading feline scent everywhere in this desert town, but it was at its strongest here. Suffocating. She wondered how all these people dressed in their gaudy finery did not catch it.

Despite all that, she rather liked the area, but then again she had been born to the desert.

Thus far she had found the shifters to be boring and brutish. She'd only been asking questions, but they all seemed to shut down and resort to playing games of stupidity. Or outright attacking. It was disappointing, even for a woman who delighted well and often in physical conflict.

She liked to know those who might consider her an enemy, and if the video that outed them to the world was to be believed, then perhaps the animals were natural enemies of the dead.

Taraneh thumbed at the thick bangle on her wrist, an insurance of silver more than vanity as she perused her selection of drunk gamblers, moving along the crowd for anything edible to catch her eye.

She wondered, if shifters were bathed, would they be edible...? Perhaps some kind of acquired taste.


 It would be no surprise to find Oliver at the Empire. Becoming a true King had instilled in him a whole slew of feelings and traits he had never before experienced with such magnitude, and he was typically unwilling to stray far from home base. Much like a mother bird protecting the nest, he was always close; if not at the grand casino, he was at his home nearby, or prowling the desert where he so regularly took his Pard for the full moon.

 It was, in part, anticipation of events such as this. The telltale scent of decay struck him as he wandered idly between card tables, putting a pause in his step. It was a full house this evening, the approach of summer bringing out more and more tourists and regulars alike. As such, he would not be able to immediately pinpoint the vampire in the crowd - but it didn't deter him from shooting off a quick text.

Vampire in the lobby. Come.

 He pocketed his phone before continuing his seemingly leisurely stroll, expression neutral, eyes intently seeking. It was no immediate find, but the time passed would hardly be lengthy before he realized the woman. A stark opposite to the short-haired bitch he had encountered many months ago, she was physically attractive with distinct Arabic features. It was too bad her scent made her less than a solid ten.

 Cautious, he would not yet approach her. Much like the beast within would do, he stalked easily through the stream of people around them, keeping a few heads between her and himself, waiting for the right time to strike. Unless, of course, she beat him to the mark. The great black leopard within watched intently from the passenger seat, jaw slack with a low growl of anticipation; predator or prey? Neither man nor beast could be sure yet. His eyes broke away from her without hurry, scanning the crowd for his sister's approach.


Two shakes.

 She moved with a purpose as soon as she had slid her phone into the back pocket of her pants. Standing up and heading immediately for the elevator – a slight rise in adrenaline at the promise of … something. Perhaps not conflict, maybe not trouble, but it damn sure wasn't paperwork or monitor watching and that was good enough in her book.

 It was an additional ten minutes by the time she had exited the elevator and pushed open the doors, another three by the time she saw a head of black hair in the midst of the crowd. From there it was a lot of nudges on the shoulder, twisting round to avoid bulldozing anyone in the process. Calm but decisive, tunnel vision as she tilted her head up in a slight nod of acknowledgement when her eyes caught his.

 "Reeks." It was gruff, half complaint and half observation as she felt her hands curl at her sides and took some measure of comfort in the proximity of family - more ways than one.

If it was dizzying before, it was damn near vertigo now. She felt suddenly as though she'd walked right into an animal shelter, the scent of dander and fur and urine all mashed up at her at once.

Would it cling to her dress once she left?

A wrinkling of her nose, and she looked around, wondering if it was again another shifter or simply a person with poor personal hygiene. Were the beasts really so populous in this insignificant mountain town?

Perhaps a lot of inbreeding, in addition to bestiality. They were animals, after all.

Her eyes settled on a woman somewhere past a head of people, where her nose told her the scent was strongest, and she wondered if that was the beast in question that stunk up the air so.

Best find out. She stepped towards her, offering a smile should their eyes meet.

 Oliver was calm, alternating between glancing at the suspected vampire and seeking Sinead in the ocean of faces. If she left, fine; if she headed to a gambling spot, fine. He doubted the former would happen so quickly, but he had little time to consider it much further before his sister showed up amongst the crowd. He was utterly expressionless as he looked at her, nodding his head once in silent agreement to her comment on the unique stench.

 His eyes wandered over to the woman just in time to see her approaching. Interesting. Was she seeking them so purposely? He nudged Sinead to get her attention, deftly signing a reminder to her: No eye contact. He would wait for her confirmation before he looked at the nearing vampire again, face remaining stoic, though his beast uttered an unhappy sound against his psyche.

 Briefly she glanced up - eyes catching the other woman's for a few fleeting seconds, enough time to see her smile. The fluttering of Oliver's hands made her head turn, watching him and grunting at the reminder. Right, assholes. She said nothing of it though, watched the vampire's legs and rolled her shoulders as she inched in like a shark that sensed blood in the water.

 Some protective part of her closed ranks, rang bells and leaned her body ever so slightly closer to Oliver's. The quiet was equal parts unsurprising and disappointing - because she understood it, knew it intimately by now, but seriously dude - not right now. "Evening." She didn't inquire as to what the other woman wanted, didn't make any direct threats, simply rolled the ball into her court and waited to see where it would end up next.

The woman met her eyes for only a half second at best. Disappointing, but not the end of the night as it were.

It turned out that there was another near the woman also watching her, a man. Perhaps he was the source of the scent, and she merely some human plaything? Again, she'd yet to meet a speaking female animal.

Perhaps not; they did seem to have a slightly differential note, as similar as they were.

"Tu booyeh badih," she smiled warmly, an insult she knew better than to share in her expression. "Good evening. I hope there is no trouble with my being here."

Careful, casual. One was dangerous enough.

 Oliver's face lost its neutrality the moment the woman - undoubtedly a vampire now that they were face to face - spoke in a foreign language, his mouth curving into a slight frown. Did he look like the kind of person who spoke anything besides English? He considered not even signing a response; he could let Sinead do all the talking (there was a good chance she would be anyways, thanks vocal chords) and play the dumb quiet guy. Pull a fast one on the vampire, should the need arise. But that put his sister at risk, more than he cared to. He opened his mouth, just to give it a shot, but no sound came out aside from the rush of air in his throat.

 He was able to form a frustrated sort of grunt, glancing at Sinead again with the same frown in place. Tell her she is welcome to gamble, but feeding is not tolerated. The tattooed woman already knew this, and Oliver knew that she did; but he wanted this woman to know who made the rules here. As such, he would look the vampire sternly in the face when his sister spoke up, already having forgotten what he'd told Sinead. To look another in the eye had merely been a challenge for so many years - it had never been a gateway to mind control.

 Her shoulders jerked upwards a bit, a quiet burst of laughter of the apparent consideration of the vampire in front of them. There was some compulsion to sneak an upwards glance, a general disdain for averting eyes - aggravated by it though she held fast all the same. Instead she distracted herself by watching Oliver's hands, nodded along and took shallow breaths to try to avoid the god awful stench.

 "Not yet." A simple answer as she nodded along to reiterate that she understood him just fine, folded her arms over her chest as one more gentle reminder herself to not become too rash. "You're welcome to gamble here, have a night of it ... you're not to feed here or there will be repercussions."

Something amiss here.

Taraneh felt a distinct insult as they both refused to meet her eyes. Never mind her skills of persuasion: not looking at the face of the person you spoke to was simply rude. And it seemed to solidify that shifters, as a whole, were poorly mannered across the board.

The man signed, a flurry of a pointed fingers, and she tensed, nearly taking it for magic. Could beasts perform tricks?

But it turned out to be nothing. Perhaps a military code she wasn't familiar with. Regardless, the woman spoke, laying down rules. She lifted a brow.


Truthfully, interesting, if in other ways. How narrow-minded of these creatures, to think she had any interest in gambling.

"You are aware feeding is painless for the giver?"

Unless it was violent, and she would not say she kept from that entirely, but she did not like to ruin her clothes regularly either. Regardless, her tone was conversational, light. She wondered what information she could glean from them, if they did manage to break the trend of conversationless brutes.

Cameo! Can post more if needed! <3

He was nearby when he felt the presence of both Black siblings on the floor. This was nothing abnormal, of course, but it did not stop Caelum from looking for his spotted companions. The draw of his best friend's power made him easy to find and, unsurprisingly, Sinead was right beside him. Neither of them looked particularly happy and his own leopard rumbled its concern, the desire to go to them mounting as they confronted(?) another person.

Or perhaps it was not a person. With his focus on the pit he was managing, Caelum hadn't picked up on the vampire yet but he also knew that his friends had little reason to appear so stern. Something was amiss, he was sure. Still, he did not leave his post. He did, however, lean down and murmur to his lead dealer that he may need to step away for a few minutes. A heads up, nothing more. For now, he would bide his time and watch from the corner of his eye to see if they needed him.

 Sinead relayed the message for his uncooperative vocals, to which the vampire replied, "Interesting." Oliver all but growled at such a condescending remark, eyes narrowing ever so slightly on the woman. She went on to explain that the feeding process was painless for humans, to which the King let out an audible scoff. He highly doubted that. Irrelevant, he signed brusquely, watching their guest with the same stony gaze.

 She was pretty sure if the goddamn vampire was listening a lick, the scoff was a universal response to that little bit of insider trivia. They told children shots didn't sting, death didn't hurt - sure, Jan. Still, she kept her composure and toed the line between annoyed and professional, firm despite the fact that she kept her tone and volume good and neutral.

 "Good to know, our policy still stands as stated. If you aren't satisfied then your options are to leave or we'll be forced to escalate." A word that held more meaning than a form complaint of a strong scolding - the bitch had been ambling around for who knew how many years, she trusted that she could jump to that conclusion all on her own.

So they would remain unreasonable and unbelieving even in the face of truth. It was good to know.

"Noted. No blood will well from skin by my teeth in your domain."

Poetically, she kept peace, and filed it for later. It reminded her of clutch rules, really, and she tilted her head thoughtfully.

"Do you feed from the same fruit as well?"

It would make sense if they did. If not... well. These shifters had hardly made sense to her so far.

 Idly, Oliver wondered how old this woman was. Her eloquent speech suggested she was from an era passed. He was suspicious of whether or not she would stick to her word, but there were enough eyes - and cameras - that would let him know if she was caught stepping out of line. How powerful she was, and what she was capable of, remained to be seen, but Oliver liked to think it wasn't anything he couldn't take care of here. All it would take was one wrong move.

 He considered her question for a moment, frown deepening some before his head simply shook "no" in response. What a bizarre question.

 It was all very flowery and pleasant and made her want to smack her lips and look up at Oliver with a particularly bored expression. Yes, yes - very old and regal, although she kept her hands and feet in the car for the time being and settled on tempting a glance to her side where she thought she briefly caught Caelum's eye. The tiniest twitch of a smirk as the question caught her off guard and made her snort, focusing back on the interaction at hand.

"Not unless a situation calls for it, of course."

Just ... being honest, really.

The male's answer was in keeping with the utter nonsensicality of shifters. The female, though, said something more interesting. Taraneh smiled, slightly more genuine, perhaps even approving.

Beasts will eat humans if necessary. Likely, that feeding was not painless, considering how they seemed to deny her the same right.

Still, they had answered rather than suddenly shut down on her, and that was a significant improvement over the other two.

"Thank you for entertaining a foreigner's curiosity. I will find my way out."

She didn't even realize there was a third as she turned to leave; the scents of the two in front of her were plenty enough.

-attempted exit!-

 Oliver released a chuff of air, perhaps amused by Sinead's confession. She wasn't wrong. The vampire seemed content with the answer, judging by her response, and even as some primal part of him started to keep her from leaving he would give her a simple nod of dismissal. Her very presence coupled with his newfound knowledge made him bristle, but his shoulders would hardly drop from their tension before she left the building. He sighed, casting a glance at Sinead. Thank you, he signed, his expression softening a touch to accompany the genuine appreciation. It was only shortly afterwards that he would catch sight of Caleum across the room, despite having been aware of his presence in the back of his mind, and give him a nod of greeting. He needed a drink.

 "You have a good one." It wasn't sincere, but it wasn't acidic either - space filler as she lifted her eyes once the woman had turned from her. She stared at the back of her head, folded her arms over her chest and bumped her shoulder to her brother's - a little less stern now. "Anytime, you know that." Ten years ago or five minutes from now, anytime.

"Now if you'll excuse me ..." She had a particular leopard to jokingly rib for being, essentially, no help at all.

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