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Midnight Conversation: Dara and Shep
Its past midnight by your reckoning, though its been a while since you have been out this late in the Howling woods. Most ingredients dont care so much when they are picked and you prefer the more hospitable hours between sunrise and sunset.

Tonight though you are standing, well to be honest sitting, guard for what is left of your village. Fifty odd sleepers lie in the sinkhole that you scouted earlier in the day. You know them all. They have come to you in private with their ailments, aches, and pains and you had helped them all. You have seen some of them come into the world and helped others accept the loss of loved ones gone into the next. You have watched as they fill your taproom with laughter and good natured gossip.

How long ago was that, what, three days ago? It seems like a lifespan of the world since you sat listening to farmer Henry tell how his favorite dog gave birth to a completely white pup and everyone laughed about it being confused for a rabbit. Henry’s youngest son held on to the pup while they ran from their farm. He’s been doing a good job playing nursemaid, but still can’t understand why daddy hasn’t been back to check on him.

So tonight you watch, and think of the white crossed men that brought slaughter where there was peace.

Your head snaps up, out of a light doze and you listen closely for whatever noise made you start. Off to your right is a rustle of leaves and then someone calls softly,

“hoot hoot, mind if i sit with you a while?”

“Sure Shep, what are you doing up?”

He sighs and sits next to you, cross legged and leaning back to look at the few visible stars through the leaves. God, was he always this pale? Or is it just a trick of the wan moonlight.

“Here’s something for breakfast”, and he reaches over a pair of rabbits and a squirrel, “Its going to get pretty hard to feed all these mouths soon, though im sure you will make anything seem like a kings feast”

You smile, “Flattery will get you no where young man, but you didn’t come here just to bring me breakfast, whats on your mind?”

“Its just like the stories i guess, except i usually didn’t imagine i would be the one run out of my home and living like bandits in the woods.”

“More fool you then, you didn’t think that knights would go around fighting other hard to kill knights when there are plenty of nice hamlets like ours that are ripe for the taking?”

He laughs gently, “Yea, i suppose this would be the real world i keep hearing about.”

He sits for a while, staring up through the branches. You let him sit in silence, enough nights at the bar has taught you well when a patron is working out how to say whatever it is they want to say.

“Dara, i think…” he pauses, still not looking at you, " I think i need some help. The thing is, im not really sure what the problem is. Fiora says i should talk to you, that maybe you can find a cure."

“You see, i woke up last night, right where Ellen said she put me, in a grave by an old church north of here. I was monstrously hungry so i went into the church to look for something to eat. It was almost dawn and i figured i would come back here in the morning.
I found some half full wine skins, and then through the door there was a light like the world had caught on fire. I was terrified and ran down to the basement where i hid underneath some stairs. Gradually i realized nothing else was going to happen. So i finished drinking the wine from the skins and then fell asleep there in the dark.
I woke there earlier this evening. I sat for hours until it was dark and then came back here and met up with you all.”

“Shep, i still dont understand, whats wrong?”

He finally turns to look at you,

“Dara, sitting there this evening i realized what the fire was. It was the sun coming over the horizon, and it had terrified me. The wine skins, they didn’t have wine in them, they were filled with blood, and i had drunk it easily. Dara, how do you cure a Vampire.”

Shep’s Diary

Dear Diary:
Today was a good day. I got to play batman last night and woke up tonight singing nananananananananana. Dara is feeling especially generous and has offered to cook this week. Always good news for us!

Dear Diary:
Today was a good day. I impersonated a goth high schooler with a clothes allergy. Dara made me Aristocrat Mingled with Deer! Im not sure how the almond taste got in there though… I feel kinda funny.

Dear Diary:
Today was a good day. Except the garlic that Dara accidently spilled in my food. It feels like i have swallowed barbed wire with explosive aspirations. I think i will retire.

Dear Diary:
Today was a good day. I applied more eye shadow because I crave attention. I also ate rat poison. Which left quite a bit to be desired since it doesn’t really taste like anything. 1/5 stars. Would not try again.

Dear Diary:
Today was a good day. I practiced brooding in front of a mirror for three hours followed by an hour of anguished sighs. Dara tried to feed me salad today. Ugggg, she trying to poison me or something?

Dear Diary:
THe tHrEe DiNosaurS keEP asKiNG ABouT tHE CRunChy spAtula. I canT ResPoND BeCAUse thE wAllS aRE sTiCKING tO My mOUTH. mY FiNgerS Keep GeTTinG loST beHinD my EyeLIDS.

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