Something to Believe In

Mountainside Planetarium - Clutch Only 
#1


 A perk of being a clutch member meant being able to use the Planetarium as a secure delivery destination. As a woman who did much of her shopping online, she preferred not to have her packages sitting vulnerable on the porch all day long. She supposed she could ask Osvald to make sure Stephen took care of it, but the boy was as nocturnal as they were. This was the best option for her.

 Greta settled the rectangular package on a table in the common area of the planetarium’s exclusive parts. She sliced through the tape with ease using a fingernail, and pulled the flaps apart to reveal a well-wrapped lump inside. The soft paper bundles would be shorn away to reveal a new toy, and Greta smiled fondly at the unusual sword as she pulled it out of its hardwood sheath.

 She turned it over in her hands, inspecting the carbon steel blade closely, admiring the fresh shine on it. Only the approach of another would disturb from her careful examination.
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#2


 It was less that she found it a desirable place to be and more that it soothed some restless part of her. The presence of others such as herself, the idea that even if they didn't gather around and braid one another's hair, a phone call and help could be on the way. Maybe it was why she generally kept close to Lavender Heights, maybe she'd stumbled and was taking her sweet time in rediscovering her stride in the newest version of her life.

 Whatever the case, it was miserably cold outside and she had just finished undoing the last large plastic button of her peacoat as she stepped down off the last step. It had been a few nights since her conversation with Beauregard, enough time that it felt like this was some sort of hidden camera test. She considered the weapon in the older (in every sense) woman's hands, inched in the slightest bit but still gave her ample amounts of distance.

 "Hell of a secret Santa gift." Level, not a direct inquiry but the offer of conversation as she shrugged off her jacket and draped it over her forearm before she moved on to her hat and tucked it into one of the fairly deep pockets there.
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#3
 Greta turned to apprehend the other vampire, her face framing her typically enigmatic smirk as she recognized the woman. Ophelia, was it? They did not know one another particularly well, but the old Swede was pleased to be the target of her approach all the same. She turned her little smile back to the sword, lowering the sheath into the table before turning to face Ophelia.

 "Isn’t it magnificent? It’s called a Kabutowari - or a helmet breaker." Her free hand rose to stroke her finger along the curved protrusion near the base of the blade. "A human can opener." Any sword could be, if you tried hard enough. She hummed a short sound of amusement, considering the other woman again. "You strike me as a woman who can appreciate a fine weapon. Am I right?" Or maybe that lip ring was just for show.
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#4
 "I missed the brunt of the golden age of a fine sword." She kept her hands down at her sides, came in close and grinned to herself at the shine of the overhead lights on the metal of the blade. "Beauregard mentioned that you would be a good person to talk to about possibly making myself useful." Idle hands and devil's and all of that mess, though she would spare anyone so old from regurgitating old sayings.

"Anyway, I used to be fairly mean with a knife."
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#5
 Her response made Greta wonder how old she was. She must be relatively young - a question she would save for later as the woman moved along. Beauregard had referred her as what, a teacher? Presumably for fighting. How nice. Her smile grew a few centimeters.

 "Used to be? I take it you haven't played with one in a while." She put the blade back in its solid sheath, lowering the weapon onto the table. "What about your fists?" If she was to make this woman useful, she would like to cover as many bases as possible.
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#6
 She hummed at the question, a sound that made it seem like a chore to revisit that memory as she rubbed her palms together and nodded to herself. "In any serious way, yes." Not armed and violent in that regard as a rogue, nor in Las Vegas before that. "As for my fists, that would be more recent but regretfully, not that recent." She wouldn't count the occasional struggle with a stubborn and fearful meal or the once signature and mild forms of violence between herself and her former progeny.
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#7
 Greta took great joy in empowering other women. Of the undead variety, especially. She considered Ophelia quietly for a moment, a soft look of thoughtfulness on her face. What might she need? Most humans were easily neutralized by their kind, whether by some brand of magic or brute strength and speed. Other supernaturals were different - being quick might not be good enough to earn victory.

 "What sort of power do you possess?" She asked, hoping Ophelia was the patient type. All students deserved a customized lesson plan.
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#8
 "Not a very useful one, at least not in a way that would benefit in an altercation like this." She considered the sheathed sword one last time before she looked at Greta properly. "I can tell when people are lying through their teeth, if I focus hard enough I can compel them to tell the truth." She considered everything else, all that Greta undoubtedly knew and experienced firsthand herself - all of it and that which was new to her at least.

"Last I spoke with Beauregard he seemed inclined to believe I'm on the cusp of an animal discovery. I'm hoping a bird of some variety, but I doubt I have much sway in the matter."
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#9
 Perhaps not useful in an altercation, but certainly useful. Greta's eyes gleamed with a look of interest, her smirk growing somewhat before shrinking to neutrality again, making no comment on the matter. She would keep such a fact in mind if ever she had an inkling to lie to Ophelia for some reason.

 "Oh," she said, curiously. The woman did seem to have a power signature that was a little more than ordinary - and a bird was an honorable desire. "I believe... it may be within you already." Her brows rose some, suggestively. "I can teach you to fight, but I'm not sure I can teach you to find your alternate form."
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#10
 It was more of the same, a general agreement that she had some vague signs of control that might imply something - but no sure fire way to confirm it. Aggravating, but hardly Greta's fault or Beauregard's before her after all. "Understandable of course, I suppose I was more interested in that." She realized she was still appreciating the disparity between appearance and a sword that was described to her as a human can opener.

 "The fighting, of course." Perhaps not a full on lesson but a refresher - a new body of water after years spent landlocked, not quite so stupid as to think she was just as prepared as she would have been back then.
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#11
 Greta's smile grew some, still appearing as though she was harboring some amusing secret. "Well, that I can help you with," she confirmed with a little hum. She turned, putting the sword back in its packaging and picking it up. She wouldn't be using it, of course, but bringing it along in case any other vampire decided to be less than honorable.

 "Come. There's an old auditorium down here we can use so nothing gets broken." A pause. "That is, if you're interested in a lesson tonight. You'll have to forgive my eagerness."
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#12
 "Oh." Not reluctant, simply surprised, she looked down as if she'd forgotten what she'd worn for the night. Thankfully pants, thankfully modest enough that a well tempered crash refresher managed to sound appealing. Maybe, after all, she needed more of that in her life - useful spontanaety. "I mean, certainly - lead the way ..."

 She'd give her a polite bow of her head, content to round out the back. Some baseline sense of excited nerves that she was happy to just accredit to actually doing something for a change.
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#13
 Ophelia, thankfully, didn't seem too off-put by the suggestion, if not a bit surprised. Greta's expression didn't so much as twitch, and with a little nod of her head, Greta would lead the way to the unused auditorium where she had broken poor Edvin's nose.

 It was a quiet and dusty room, dark until she hit a switch that illuminated the ceiling lights. A few stacks of chairs lined one of the walls, and Greta would put her package on top of one such stack before reaching to unfasten her earrings. Even with supernatural healing, having an earlobe ripped open seemed like an unnecessarily painful thing to go through. Her heels stayed on her feet.

 Once it seemed that the other woman was ready, Greta would push her braid off her shoulder to rest down her back. "Alright, dear. I'll let you start," she decided as she faced her, legs shoulder-width apart, lifting a hand to beckon her in a short wave.
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#14
What's that? It's a MISS.


 She looked up at the heavy sound of the lights clunking to life, still as she looked from one corner of the room to the next, watched as Greta seemed to make herself at home as if this were a fairly familiar domain. She watched the woman go through the motions of preparedness, a soundless sort of chuckle as she assessed herself.

 Calmly she shrugged out of her jacket, removed rings and piercings and carefully pocketed the jewelry together so she wouldn't lose anything when all was said and done. A little on edge but more or less relaxed in the knowledge that there was nothing on the horizon that couldn't be remedied with one uncomfortable phone call.

 Still, there was some hesitation in swinging at a relative stranger - friendly or not, no hate or frustration to fuel it. A hard start that made her uneasy. She took in a deep and unnecessary breath, rolled her shoulders and positioned her feet, considered how little she knew. How did Greta fight? What were here weaknesses, where did she excel? It was the sort of thing that would take time to unfold, so she lurched forward, swung at her face.
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#15
Look it's another miss


 Greta wasn't expecting much in the way of prowess from her opponent slash student, judging by what she'd said earlier. Still, she kept her guard up, watching the other woman closely, waiting patiently for her to figure out her approach. When she finally did move, Greta found little grace in it. If she wasn't actually this rusty, she was a fine actress.

 Swiftly, she raised an arm to block the strike, parrying the swinging fist by striking it downward and away. In the same movement, her other hand moved to grab Ophelia's offensive arm so that she might twist it behind her back.
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#16
Hit!


 The uncomfortable uncertainty behind the effort made it less than surprised when she failed to connect in any meaningful way. Still, she grimaced when Greta readily knocked aside her arm and moved quickly to latch on to her. She knocked her away, shoved her arm down with as much force as she could and instinctively tried to drive her elbow into Greta's face on the retreat.
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#17
hit :3


 She wasn't bad, for being a self-proclaimed pile of rust. Her hand was shoved away, and it was quickly apparent that she had let her guard down as Ophelia's elbow smashed into her nose. She exhaled a grunt of both pain and surprise, quick to leap back, putting some space between them for a moment. The bridge of her nose swelled with a sharp, growing pain, and dark blood oozed slowly from both nostrils toward her upper lip.

 "I believe you've fooled me," Greta purred with a smirk. She reached up with both hands and pressed her eyes closed, righting her freshly broken nose with a damp crack. It was equally as painful as it being broken in the first place, and for a moment she thought of Edvin. How amusing he might find this.

 Unbothered by the blood and the possibility of it dripping onto her clothing, Greta bolted from her standstill position. She made a false strike with a closed fist, and then bent away, lifting her leg high to deliver a swift kick to the side of Ophelia's head with the top of her heel-clad foot.
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#18
 "It wasn't intentional." And for the most part that was the truth, allowed Greta space and watched with a sick sort of curiosity as she set her nose before it could become a proper mess. "Perhaps it's like riding a bike, as they say. Maybe you never really - " Her voice raised the slightest bit at the sudden charge, abandoning the thought as she tensed, curved to the side to avoid the swing of the older vampire's fist.

 The problem was that it brought her head down, closed the rest of the distance between her head and Greta's foot. There was no proper time to truly skirt the kick, and so she hissed at the sharp pain followed by the consistent throb at the side of her head. Disorienting enough that she lashed out from a place of frustration and not focus, a full force but wild swing right for Greta's nose a second time.


Miss!

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#19
 Greta reminded herself that this was supposed to be something of a lesson, a way to judge what kind of skills Ophelia really possessed, she was still enjoying this as more of an actual fight. A spar with harder hits, if you will, considering her still-throbbing nose.

 Her foot connected with the woman's head, proving to be a stroke against her ego. She struck back, a sloppy punch if anything, and the old woman jerked away to dodge the blow. Using her momentum, she bent sharply at the waist and made to sweep Ophelia's legs out from under her with a rigid arm, eyes bright as they followed the movement.


HIT

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#20
 Just because some part of her mind registered the merit of what Greta was doing did not mean that it was any less infuriating. Taking advantage of her own outburst, the older woman had managed to knock her off her balance with relative ease. She hit the ground, flat on her ass, hard enough that she growled, eyes paling as she scowled up at her and simmered where she had once been prepared to boil over.

Swinging her leg round with a sharp momentum, she set aside courtesy and moved to kick her hard in the knee with her heel.


Hit!

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#21
Spars were not entirely uncommon. Beauregard could... sort of pick them out. The little tugs of attention, sometimes quite vague, were messages he was still learning to read.

Spars were pain without desperation, with his mental alarms arriving in pairs.

This one was no different, though it seemed nearer than usual. Pacing through the hallways, he searched for other vampires, for power in a pair.

Eventually he found himself outside an auditorium, and he could hear the sound of a scuffle within. Beauregard decided better than to poke his nose in, instead settling on a bench a few yards down.

He would wait to see what shape the vampires would appear in, toying with his phone in the meantime.
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#22
 A human kick to the knee would have been as fruitful as kicking a brick wall. But a vampire kicking her in the knee, with the point of her heel? Greta released a sound that was more of a loud growl than anything, very sure she could feel the pieces of her knee cap on the edges where it fractured. Her eyes lit up orange as she buckled to the floor on her good knee, all the grace having left her face in favor of a snarl. She struck with an open hand, but instead of hitting Ophelia with it, she would use her mind to beckon a metal chair from across the room, meaning to send it crashing into her enough to incapacitate her.


Hit!

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#23
 It wouldn't be fair at all to say she didn't like it, the little flare of anger and pain that radiated off of Greta once she had managed to knock into her. A few split seconds, she braced herself on her palms to prepare to get her feet back under her when the tide seemed to turn. Perhaps not so calm and collected after all, not as she caught the movement from the corner of her eye. There was barely enough time to protect her face but she managed that at least, raised her arm and hissed at the worst of it.

 The sting was slow to set in, but the smell of blood even old and useless wasn't so late to the party - a sizeable cut on her forearm and a sharp pain that radiated up her arm and made her hard to bend from where the frame of the metal chair had hit her elbow dead on.

She reached out, moved to try to grab the other vampire roughly by the back of her good leg and hopefully send her down hard on her back in the process.


Hit!

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#24
MISS


 Get it together, Greta. How many times had she suffered a painful injury? Enough to handle it better than this. Still, there was some petty satisfaction in smacking the other woman with a chair. But Ophelia could not be so easily discounted - she lashed out, jerking Greta’s good leg out from under her and planting her on her back. She made to kick Ophelia with that good leg, but would miss her target and simply let the foot drop to the floor.

 Her knee was on fire. She sighed an unnecessary breath and lifted a hand in a way of a white flag, grappling with a certain demon that threatened to come out with a breaking jaw. "I don’t think you’ll need much in the way of lessons," she assured the other, content to just rest on the floor for a moment. "Just go for the knee. Good method."
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#25
 She lurched backward, rocked out of the way when Greta lashed out and kicked at her, settled back when the woman seemed to tap out in a roundabout way. Laying back she touched the gash along her arm, sneered when her fingers came back coated in thick, congealed blood. Not a surprise, still far from pleasant.

"I apologize, instinct." Turning to the side to look at her before she closed her eyes and stretched. "Do you need help?"
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#26
 "No apology necessary, dear." Now that she had calmed down, at least. Did she need help? Certainly, more than Ophelia could offer. Just a broken nose wouldn’t have warranted a call to Beauregard, but a broken knee was another story. "Yes. Help an old woman up, would you?" She sat up with help from her own hands, before lifting one in the air to beckon Ophelia closer, so that she could hoist her up to her feet. "Oh, my. This must be how Osvald feels."
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#27
 Well, this was unfortunate. Just enough time for the adrenaline high to settle and to find herself in the midst of a good deal of guilt as she took hold of Greta's arm and helped her up and onto her feet, or, foot. As long as the other vampire didn't protest, she would hook her arm firmly with her own and lead her towards the door, slow but steady.

Osvald was a mystery, but she assumed he had a fucked up leg from the sound of it. "Want me to ring anyone for you?" The arm could wait, even if the congealed blood tickled in an annoying way as it slowly dripped toward her wrist.
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#28
 Up she went, with a physical shrieking of her knee, and leaned into Ophelia just enough to use her as a crutch. Her free hand rose to wipe the gelatinous blood from her upper lip, leaving a stain in its wake and holding the soiled hand somewhat aloft.

 "Beauregard, please," she requested smoothly, experienced enough to keep the pain out of her tone.
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#29
Beauregard had intended not to arrive with too-perfect timing. There was something disconcerting about a man appearing at exactly the right moment, and neither vampire within the room he eavesdropped needed that sort of reminder of his power.

Regretfully, by the time he'd risen and started walking, he'd missed his window to arrive just before "too on time." And in fact, he heard mention of his name as he neared the door, then pushed it open with what would have been a sheepish expression had it not changed so quickly to slight surprise.

There was more blood than he'd expected, and he regretfully came to terms with the fact that some of it would end up on his clothing.

"Didn't want to interrupt," he said, approaching the pair and seeking to approach and offer a shoulder to Greta. "Ophelia, perhaps you could grab that chair and right it? Might be easiest to do some healing before moving further."
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#30
 It was comically well fitted, perfectly timed as she came almost immediately face to face with exactly the man they were hoping to see. Once it was clear he was prepared to help keep the other on her feet, she turned, moved to grab the chair and nudged the legs with the toe of her shoe to set it up properly and place it just behind Greta.

Greta first felt implied, no need to voice it.

"Next time, better ground rules - no joints or flying furniture." Mumbled under her breath even as she gave the dominus a wide birth to work.
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#31
 My, speak of the devil. A ghost of a smirk formed on her face as she focused on him rather than her throbbing knee. "Of course," she said to him, pouring some weight into his offered shoulder. There was some intention to protest to the chair - she had displayed her ability to retrieve them on her own after all - but Ophelia was on the task too soon. As such, she would settle into it as it came to rest just behind her, movements slow and cautious.

 "I quite enjoyed the flying chair," she hummed mirthfully. "What good is a gift if you can't use it?" Not that Ophelia's particular brand of magic was any good in a physical altercation, but a little sass was soothing.
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#32
Not enough steps were had for Beauregard to determine the exact nature of her leg injury. They were a mess here, bleeding as they were, and whatever he didn't tend to would heal with an irritating slowness.

How frustrating, the limits of his powers. So much exhaustion for incomplete efforts.

The two carried on to his amusement, and he nodded to Ophelia in thanks before easing Greta down to it.

"Trying to destroy my furniture in here," he tutted goodnaturedly, then sought the edge of the room to grab an additional chair in each hand to bring them nearer.

"Tell me what is most broken," he said, glancing between the pair as he helped himself to seat. "There is some... arbitrary limit to the healing I can provide that I haven't entirely pinpointed yet."
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#33
 The chair remark was rewarded with the slightest upward hike of a corner of her mouth, saying nothing when she considered the possibility of taking the joke too far. Instead, she mumbled a thank you and quietly sat off just to the side, relieved to have even a few seconds to recompose and relax where she wasn't actively anticipating anything. An awkward attempt to catch syrupy blood and keep her arm bent at the elbow to avoid making an unnecessary mess that she didn't want to have to clean up when all was said and done.

 "My head hurts, this ..." She nodded to her arm and then glanced pointedly to Greta's knee. "But it can wait." Messy, but not crucial or threatening in the long run. There were smaller things, little pains and tender spots and scrapes from hard hits that slide across her skin. Minor nuisances that she didn't feel the need to bother him over.
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#34
 Sitting, even with her injured leg straight, did provide a new brand of pain. Greta drew an unnecessary breath, pressing the air out in a chuckle for Beauregard’s chastising. She listened on, understanding what he meant about the limitations of his healing capabilities. This was certainly not her first rodeo.

 She smiled a little at Ophelia. It was true that her fractured knee was probably the worst injury here, but the other woman did seem to be displaying some selflessness for saying it. "I’m certain my knee cap is shattered," she informed the Dominus simply. "My nose will probably bruise nicely, too, but that’s less concerning."
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#35
Perhaps a concussion. Tears to skin. But a shattered kneecap (a phrase that, truthfully, made him feel a tad sick) was a greater problem indeed. Greta would be limping around for perhaps weeks, even with his help.

Alas. Carmen would be useful now, as mad a bitch as she was.

He brought his chair closer, eyeing the scuffed fabric and wondering if he could heal her through it. Beauregard saw little reason why not.

"There is an abundance of medical supplies downstairs," he said. "I'm no doctor, regrettably, but you can certainly help yourselves to whatever helps."

With some look of concentration, he brought a hand very, very gently to Greta's knee. It was a focused effort as he fell into the still unfamiliar groove of before, siphoning his own life for hers. (How kind.) Except, in this case, absolutely nothing happened. There was a moment of embarrassment, and his jaw shifted to one side, a flicker of irritation evident.

"Foiled by fabric," he sighed, pulling his hand away so that she might roll up her pant leg. How undignified.
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#36
 Greta was certain she would need more than a bandage from the medical room - it was more likely that she would be utilizing a cane for a while. She was unbothered by the prospect in all truthfulness; it could be a wonderful ploy for an unsuspecting meal.

 "Ah," she remarked simply, bending awkwardly to grab the hem of her pants leg. Luckily, they were slacks, so hiking it up above her knee was no great task. She would hold it there and watch Beauregard carry out his kind task.
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#37
 At this point some gnawing bit of social prowess told her she was supposed to do something to look busy. Count the ceiling tiles or the rows of chairs, check her phone and stare at the screen. But even if it was a bit rude, she did what she could to minimize her presence as she watched. Quiet and still and curious to see that in a whole world of supernatural, one of Mountainside's most powerful vampires was foiled by a pair of well-made slacks.

 She wondered to herself if the bow would snap like a tape that had suddenly been put on rewind, waited to see what could be visibly different by the time he'd done what work he could.
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#38
That was very unpleasant to look at.

Beauregard's face wrinkled slightly, reactionary, and he found himself utterly without any desire to so much as touch the skin. Gorey, open wounds did little to upset him. But a misplaced bone beneath the skin left him feeling as though he'd withered slightly.

He reached his hand to touch the skin again, cold as always, and perhaps he bit the very side of his tongue in private disgust. It would take a moment to summon whatever nonsense it was that could tear life from him, but he recognized it the moment it began.

His gaze did not linger on Greta's knee, focusing some fuzzy place some inches to the left. He hardly needed to stare at it to work, and Beauregard was uncertain he wouldn't make a fool of himself at the sight of reassembling bone fragments.

If he could even heal her so far. Would the bones simply re-fuse crookedly, or right themselves as if set by a doctor?
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#39
 Greta would not miss the wrinkled look of displeasure on the dear Dominus’s face, and she felt some amusement for it, but remained particularly unbothered by it all.

 After a moment there was a slow, palpable movement under his hand as the fragments began to stitch themselves back together. It was not a great or pain-free feeling, but it sure beat the alternatives. She liked to think that the end of this would at least result in a whole kneecap, if not a bit out of place.
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#40
It was very unpleasant, and Beauregard likely would have paled were that not so much a vampiric trait. There was something unholy about the movement of bone like that, perhaps a strong word for a vampire to be using, but no less apt.

Choosing how much effort to expend was a difficult balance so early in his practice of the power. It would begin as what felt like a trickle of expenditure, and before he knew it, he was dumping his entire goddamn pool of energy into it. The effect felt like something of a reverse feeding, and he wondered as it happened if this was what it felt like to be fed from.

If so, how utterly, utterly dreadful. He could not understand how anyone could find appeal in it.

Eventually he found he was just resting a hand to her knee and little else, A brief flicker of embarrassment hit him, a very rare sense that could creep in only in the face of some unnatural exhaustion.

"Voila," he said, teasing and not entirely lively. Certainly he would get better at this in time. Certainly it would become less exhausting. Certainly. "I could try again in a few days, but I am still learning the limits of it all."

A rare apology lingered in his tone, again the cracks of a man who was essentially never tired, and he looked between the pair with a breath in and out.

"Perhaps spar slightly more gently next time."
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#41
 In all genuine sincerity, she had not expected to do quite as much damage as she had done. Content to keep quiet and watch and resist the impulse to defend herself in regards to the gentle-handed critique laid out before them. "Next time, certainly." Leaving out any bit about instinct or spur of the moment retaliation as she slowly rose to her feet and moved to put back her own chair.

 A cut was a cut no matter, and with the great luxury of being dead it would remain unsightly and ugly for far too long, but it wouldn't be the end for her. And besides, if nothing else at least it was the perfect season for modesty.

"Is there any other way I can help?" This time a brief and polite glance to Beauregard, more focused on the woman in front of her.
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#42
 Eventually, his hand would come away, and Greta noticed a change in the man before her - it was easy to understand it likely took something from him. Viola! A little Mona Lisa smile for his explanation. "If you can spare it, I'll take it. I'll even share with Ophelia." For as much as limping around made her a great target for pity, she didn't care for a constant ache or restriction to her movements. She moved the injured leg some, and found the muscles there were definitely unhappy with much more than a few inches of travel.

 She chuckled for his words and Ophelia's response, nodding her head. Then the youthful looking woman offered some other means of help, and Greta wouldn't wait for Beauregard to speak up. "I don't believe so, darling. I think we should probably get some bandages for your arm. Perhaps a meal, if you're so inclined." Slowly, putting most of the work into her uninjured leg, Greta would lift herself to standing, finding that her bad knee also found little enjoyment in the high heels of her shoes.
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