In the lawless wastelands inhabited by the dregs of a decadent civilization, the demoness, Zwi, keeps the peace. She’s just as hard as any of them, just as desperate to survive, and even more willing to fight for the little slice of heaven that came from a vial or between the sheets.
Where criminals reign, she has to be the biggest thug of them all to maintain even a modicum of control.
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The club sat atop one of the taller buildings of New Azoth City. It was exclusive with a capital ‘E’. The metal skyscraper towered over the wasteland deserts, though the club itself made no use of the spectacular view. Only at night did the heavy curtains ever part, and so few ever got to see inside.
Zwi was invited for one of her rare visits with her boss, an immortal. A vampire. He had come to that land, like the rest of his kind, to live as they wished, in decadence and sinful indulgence, away from the prying eyes of civilization and its rules and order. He was one of the owners of most of the city, but the slums over which he lorded required his own bit of order, and that’s where she came in.
The laws were for the peons and plebs, not for the powerful vampire clan.
The club belonged to him, and it was ostentatious beyond anything Zwi could have dreamed of. The first time she’d come, she’d already been working for him for months and never met him. Compared to the lavish life he led, she was living in a hole in the ground.
She didn’t have any room to look down on the vampires. They had all the power, and as a part-demon herself, she could appreciate that. Looking up over the building with black eyes, she calmed her nerves. Her white hair matched the numerous runes along her flesh, elaborate tracings along her eyes, down her neck, and over her exposed breastbone. Her skin was a dark purple, blending her into the night, and even though she fidgeted in her formal outfit, she knew she looked smokin’.
Or, at least, she hoped so. It wasn’t a great idea to have a crush on her killer boss, but she did.
Entering the club and walking past a few half-orc guards, she nodded to them cordially. They were all under his employ, and all tasked with, essentially, the same job. Make sure he stayed rich, powerful, and safe.
So it was a bit odd that he stood by himself, behind the brass-lined marble-topped bar. He was pale and, by all appearances, human. Youthful, but with a mature air. Without the constraints of mortality, it was likely for a good reason. His hair was a pitch black, and parted down the center. His ebony, high-collared suit was cleanly pressed. The slim patch of hair upon his chin formed a slight goatee in an attempt to hide the boyish look of his body with the trappings of age and refinement.
His roundish gaze fell upon her as she arrived on the chugging elevator, boredom plain in his expression. His billowy white sleeves poured from his jacket sleeves as he strummed his fingers on the bar.
Zwi hated having to get dressed for these stupid occasions. She knew it to be important, vitally so, and thus, she had gone to one of the slum’s best hairdressers earlier in the day. She’d gotten her hair washed, dried and styled in a fantastically complicated up-do, curls intertwining on each other as they reached around the crown of her head and spilled down in a planned, yet messy fashion.
Her outfit was far more regal than her traditional day-to-day outfit. A tight fitted white blouse that ruffled at the edges, scooped down low over her shoulders and across the middle of her bicep, a tight brown corset laced along her midsection, a silken white skirt flowed out beneath it and hugged to her curves nicely. It was slit up the side asymmetrically, with ruffles along the edge to match her shirt. A pair of brown high-heeled boots hugged her calves. She knew that some found the black cilia of her eyes to be off-putting, her irises a silver-white, her pupil a deep black, but hoped her boss found it endearing rather than creepy.
Having noted his bored glare, however, she forced herself into business mode. Hard. Cold.
She was his trusted henchwoman. No time for games or flirtation. Even if he was sexy as hell.
His demeanor made her feel childish and underdressed in front of him, though. In the place with all the trappings of high society to which she certainly didn’t belong. Still, she did her best to act unfazed and casual about the entire invitation.
He finally gave a nod to her, the only greeting she would be likely to get.
“The apartments are growing over full. The city is crowded, and there aren’t enough places to house them all,” he began in a slow, throaty, upper-class drawl, his eyes appearing a little sunken as he gazed at her. “This means rent will be going up.”
The implications of this were obvious, of course. Rent increases in those poor slums meant some people would be out of a home, others would have to do without basic necessities to keep a roof over their heads, and it would all boil down to more violence and trouble.
“So that means you have to keep order there as this goes down,” he continued. “To ensure there is no trouble that interferes with the flow of rent.”
Zwi listened with practiced calm, her face betrayed no emotion. It helped that she had several drug cocktails earlier in the day, the particular mixture kept her as stoic and as heartless as any sadist. There was no way she could handle a meeting with him without being under the influence.
“Of course,” she said, her voice as dark and as creamy-smooth as her flesh, with a slight bite giving it a masculine husk. “When will they be made aware?”
She was by no means an official law enforcement agent, because no such thing existed that far into the wild wastelands. That’s why the vampires loved the place in all its lawless glory. She was a contracted enforcement officer, though she was free to go by whatever title she chose. The defacto ruler of her little slice of slum heaven, or so the plan went.
Pulling a small vial filled with a dark substance out of his hands, he pushed it across the marble bar top toward her.
“A bonus,” he said, “for you to ensure nothing happens to the property.”
The man — was he still a man? — knew of her addictions, and like any manipulative owner, he used them to his advantage. Used her.
She made no haste in reaching for the vial, her face still registered no emotion. Her white eyelashes and brows contrasted against the brilliant dark of her face as she lowered her head deferentially.
“You are too kind,” she said, as she quickly moved to tuck it into her small, white purse. It was a fabric pouch with a drawstring top that was wound around her wrist, holding a small amount of currency and an evening’s supply of various drugs. Just in case he decided to invite her to stay. Not that he ever had before.
“They will be made to understand,” she said.
With a final nod the immortal man slid his hands to the edge of the bar on his side. “Then I trust we needn’t speak again for a while. Should you fail in your duties, I’ll be in touch.”
He slipped his hands from the brass edging of the bar and tucked them behind his back, the meeting officially at an end.
She bowed and silently cursed the money she spent on her hair for such a brief meeting. How professionally he treated her, even dolled up like she was. Still, not a flicker of emotion passed on her face.
“Have a pleasant evening,” she replied before turning and moving toward the elevator once more. Another lonely night, spent in her little apartment with nothing but drugs to warm her blood. She let out a sigh of frustration. The drugs were already wearing off.
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