I really liked this scene between Clyde and Chastity. It raises some questions if you haven’t read War of Nytefall: Eulogy though. Enjoy.
Chastity waves from the bar when she sees Clyde walk through the front door, his hair a mess and his torn shirt in his fist. The other patrons risk a quick look at the disheveled Vampire King, but none of them are brave enough to approach or stare. Rubbing his aching neck, he makes his way to a table, which is swiftly vacated by the people who have been sitting there for the last hour. The Dawn Fang looks to be on the verge of calling them back before he shrugs and practically collapses onto the seat. Reaching back, he grabs a plate of cookies and flicks a diamond sphere over the railing to stop the goblins from complaining. Noticing that several drinks have been left on the table, he claims one and grimaces at the taste of sour ale. Gazing into the mug, he cannot tell if it is supposed to taste terrible or he happened to grab one that has gone bad. Clyde tosses the cup over the dancing crowd and watches it land perfectly on the bar, which earns him an explosion of applause. All he can do is smile wide enough to display his fangs and nod his head in appreciation of the attention. The expression grows brighter and he stops leaning against the wall of the booth when he notices Chastity is heading in his direction. Without thinking, he grabs another drink and takes a sip, which reminds him of rotting vegetables. Hacking and coughing, he fights the urge to scratch at his tongue in the hopes of ridding his mouth of the horrific taste, which has mixed with the lingering sourness. Jamming a cookie into his mouth, he slowly chews the treat until it is a doughy mush that he can swallow in one gulp.
“I heard you were in bad shape,” Chastity says as she sits next to her friend. Feeling tension in the air, she releases a thin charm mist to relax all of her patrons. “People heard about the slaughter in the Fugue Forest. They think it was you, but there weren’t any survivors to give us information. Mab and Bob are downstairs resting after getting back an hour ago. They said you were trying to get away, so I’m guessing something went wrong. Care to tell me what happened or are you going to keep eating cookies?”
“Sorry, but I’m starving,” Clyde replies after finishing the plate of food. He holds up three fingers and waves his arm to get the nearest waitress to take his order. “I had to use a lot of energy to escape from the guards. By the time I got out of the forest, I was barely able to stay awake. Fighting the imposter took a lot out of me too. It wasn’t much of a battle since he’s rather cowardly. More interested in sucker punches than real fighting. Pretty sure I can kill him the next time we meet. That should fix this entire mess and get our lives back to normal.”
“We’d have to figure out what normal is first,” the hostess happily jokes. Reaching out to take her friend’s torn shirt, she unravels the ball to examine the cut. “I can get you a new shirt if you want to cover up. While the Scrumptious Siren has fairly loose rules when it comes to clothing, I know you prefer to look professional. Can you tell us anything about the fake? Alexis is saying the nobles want you to go to the peace talks and answer questions. In fact, you were supposed to meet with the delegation an hour ago. That was before the incident, so it isn’t a surprise you’re late.”
With a groan, Clyde creates an illusionary shirt over his body and nearly takes another sip of foul-tasting ale. “I’ll go once I eat and regain my strength. After leaving Bor’daruk and meeting the fake, I have a few new ideas about how we should proceed. It should make things easier on all of us, but I can’t talk about it in public. Let me get your opinion on how things are going since you’ve always been honest with me. I’ve been thinking about my reputation and how it could be seen as weak. That could be why Nytefall is constantly coming under attack from people like Alastyre, Jewelz, and now this imposter. While people believe I’m powerful and dangerous, nobody seems to think I’m actually a threat. They believe I’m soft.”
“We’re having this talk again,” she whispers, her eyes glinting with concern.