2. Clayton

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Nick watched the vampire with narrowed eyes and adjusted the grip on her sword. One wrong move and she would gut the bloodsucker. He walked over to the ledge at her side, but didn't come closer. Smart man.

The vampire peered into the valley beneath them, his nostrils flared as he sniffed. He turned to her, smiled lightly and shrugged.  Only now did Nick see the pair of chicken-like birds dangle from his belt. Looked like he really had been on the hunt for food. 

A long-fingered hand was extended. "I'm Clay."

Nick eyed his hand, then his face. "I don't care." She slowly let go of her sword and straightened, confident that she could take the guy in a fistfight just as well. If it came to that. He didn't seem aggressive though. Still, appearances could fool.

She scowled at Clay. "Now piss off, this is my plateau."

The vampire cocked his head. "Tetchy, aren't you? I know dread demons are notoriously moody, but you're just plain rude."

"What? Cause I don't want to hang out with the creepy vampire that snuck up on me?" She snorted. "I don't know you, nor do I want to. Now, if that's everything, leave."

The guy started chuckling. Chuckling. "What crawled under your scales demoness? I'm just making conversation. You're the first person I've met in the last couple of days. The least you could do is tell me your name."

"Nick," she grumbled.

He raised a brow. "Isn't that a guys name?"

"Isn't clay the stuff you make vases with? Want me to rearrange you into one?"

The vampire laughed. "This is the best conversation I've had in a while."

"Which means that you either keep piss-poor company or none at all. Why don't you go ahead and practice the 'no company at all' thing?" She turned away from him and walked a few steps. She listened closely, hoping he would finally get lost. 

"Tell me, demoness, what are you doing here all by yourself?"

Nick groaned. "You're still here. Why are you still here?"

"Because maybe we can help each other out."

"Doubtful."

Clay rounded her and stepped into her line of sight. He leaned down until she looked at his face. "I, for example, know the hiding place of an old race which lives in these mountains. Curious folk, reclusive and strange. Even more unfriendly than you, and yes, that is possible. You're alone and you seem to be looking for something, or someone. I know this stretch of mountain inside out, have been combing it for two weeks now."

Nick's eyes widened. "You know where the shadow colony is?"

Clay smiled. "You're looking for them, aren't you?"

"Not really." She glared at him to hide the excitement that was flickering to life in her belly. "Not that it's any of your business." 

"I could still tell you where they are." His grin was frustratingly knowing.

Nick huffed out a breath. "And what do you want in exchange?"

Clay lifted one corner of his mouth, the ghost of a sad smile flashing across his features. "To tell you a story. And to ask for your help."

"Did you hit you fucking head?" 

"It wouldn't be so bad to listen to one story, would it?" The vampire smiled, stuck his hands into his pockets and hunched his shoulders. It looked casual and non-threatening. "Come on, you're the first, somewhat, friendly face I have seen for a while."

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