I picked the image of the tunnel for my sprint this time around. I was writing this during a write-in and we were doing ten minute sprints, so I wrote this in two sections and decided to try out two narrators. A quick copy edit later, and you have the below scene. I hope you enjoy.
Xavier stood at the end of the tunnel waiting for the last of the daylight to fade. None of it could reach him as long as he stayed near the door. Melinda had warned him not to walk very far. Even indirect light could be harmful. It had been years since he’d seen even this much sunlight in person.
As the sun set, the lights seemed to brighten in the tunnel, making it an almost cheerful place. It wasn’t quite sunset yet when someone slipped into the tunnel from outside. The figure wore a heavy coat with a voluminous hood, so Xavier could tell almost nothing about them as they slowly walked forward.
“Who’s there?” the hooded figure whispered when they noticed Xavier.
“A keeper of the watch,” Xavier replied. That’s what Melinda had told him to say to anyone who came into the tunnel. Those who answered appropriately were to be allowed inside. Those who did not were to be run off if harmless or detained if a threat.
“It has been a long time since the watch was kept,” the hooded figure said. The voice was still soft, it’s timber somewhere in the tenor range, which told Xavier precious little about who stood before him.
That wasn’t the answer Melinda had told him to accept, so Xavier tensed, ready to deal with this intruder as needed.
“May the watch be quiet and the evening still,” the figure said as they continued to approach Xavier.
Those were the proper words.
“You would do better to reply properly,” Xavier said softly.
“Apologies,” the figure said, pushing back their hood. “It has been a long time since anyone has properly kept the watch here, and it took a moment to remember the appropriate response.”
Xavier gazed into the other man’s deep blue eyes and wondered who he was.
“You are new among her flock?” the man asked.
Xavier shrugged and stepped back toward the door.
“Well trained I see,” the man said with a chuckle. “Melinda was always good at finding those who could hold their tongues.
Xavier nodded and checked the tunnel one last time before turning to unlock the door. This one would be allowed inside.
Francesco smiled at Melinda’s new guard before walking through the door. He must have been relatively young. He didn’t seem practiced at his role yet.
“You’re early,” Melinda said as Francesco walked into the receiving hall.
“I do what I can,” Francesco replied, carefully removing his gloves.
“You must have made improvements to that thing if you’re able to arrive right at sunset,” Melinda said.
“I have indeed,” Francesco answered. “It’s hard to get away with such things in the summer months when the coat is so out of season, but in winter, I can walk around whenever I please without risk.”
“And are you willing to share yet?” Melinda asked.
“Unfortunately, I can only make a few at a time,” Francesco replied. “Custom orders only, and they won’t come cheap.”
“Just let me know how to place orders,” Melinda said. “I know of several with interest even if there’s a significant wait.”
“I’ll send you the information,” Francesco said as he took a seat across from Melinda at the large table. “Are others coming today?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“Who’s your new toy?” he asked. He knew she generally preferred women to manage her affairs, and only kept men around as guards or play things.
“Xavier is no toy,” Melinda replied. “He’s exceptionally good at his job.”
“Is he now?” Francesco asked, smiling even wider.
“Your fangs are showing” Melinda said, the disdain obvious in her voice.
“And why shouldn’t they?” he asked. “You have your own, what is it to me if you see them?”
“You must be staying isolated if you no longer care about such things.”
“I live in and among them as I always have,” he replied. “The advantage of coming to your establishment is the chance to let my guard down and not worry about such things for a while.”
Melinda frowned at him.
“I won’t reveal us,” Francesco assured her. “Though I would like a chance to speak to Xavier if he is so good at his job.”
“He’s not available,” Melinda said.
“Not even for a conversation?” Francesco asked.
“The last time I let you have a conversation with one of my men, I never saw him again,” Melinda reminded him.
“Well, if you haven’t told this one to try to kill me, that won’t be an issue,” he replied. He wasn’t going to let her forget that it had been her who was the aggressor back then. She’d been threatened by his research.
“He’s working,” Melinda replied.
“Not all the time,” he countered.
“What are you planning?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
“I simply wish to talk to the man,” Francesco said. “Not steal him away.”