Positive: Easy going, loyal, perseverant, gentlemanly.
A Sorted Country Tale
The Wild West was more than just a story to Clayton, he was born into an unforgiving world where hard work was all he would ever know. Richard and Annabelle Forrester were far from rich but not in the poor house either owning a large chunk of land and like many during that time, raising cattle. Children weren't necessarily born to be loved during that era they were born so when they came of age they could wake up early and help tend the land and cattle. Both of his parents cared for him there was never a doubt about that but he knew it was his hard work they appreciated most.
From a young age he learned to care for his own horse, care for the animals, work the land and fire a gun since being able to defend yourself, cattle and land from cattle rustlers was a necessity. Each head of cattle fetching $5 to $10 a head in state which was a substantial amount back then. His father often times making month long trips to San Francisco to sell their cattle since cattle there would sell for five to twenty times the price. That meant his mother was a force to be reckoned with and one heck of a deadly shot while his father was away, the women having to be just as strong as any man which caused Clayton to be very respectful of woman.
As a young boy he went to school for two years before both of his parents decided he was more of an asset on the ranch which was normal for those days. After all a fancy education wouldn't get you very far in the old West since the things one learned in school were not survival skills. By the age of sixteen he was going with his father on the cattle drives to San Francisco and seeing a world and way of life he never imagined. It was something he could see but it was a world he knew he could never be apart of, he was a farm boy from Texas and it was a well known fact that was all he’d ever be. It wasn’t the era of telling your children they could be anything they wanted to be because if your family’s livelihood was based on a farm or ranch you worked that plot of land until you died and passed it on to your own kids or until the bank took it from you if things got bad.
It was during a cattle drive when he was nineteen that his father was knocked from his horse and trampled to death. They were only half a day from San Francisco so Clayton and the cattlemen kept going, wrapping his father’s body and putting it in the wagon. The cattle received a pretty fair price but it wasn’t worth what was lost. The price was so good because Clayton’s family had been driving cattle since the cattle drive began but he was told that wasn't the case for all and that it wouldn't be worth it to do much longer. Before leaving San Francisco he sent a telegram to his mother informing her of his father's demise so she didn’t have to wait months to hear the bad news, it was expensive but he knew it was for the best. It seemed that all Clayton was taking back with him was bad news and he hated that more than anything.
After the hard months of travel he returned home to find that his mother was in poor shape being sick with pneumonia. The small house was in disarray which was unusual for his mother who was very methodical about everything being in its place. It took Clayton weeks to nurse his mother back to health the woman having pretty much given up on life with his father’s death and the stress and worry of running the ranch on her own, fearing her son might not return as well. With his return his mother seemed to gain a spark of the life which she once had and began to regain her strength as he worked the land to make sure they were able to make it through the harsh winter months. An ice storm hit them hard freezing the livestock tank and killing a high portion of their cattle making it the worst year the ranch had ever had since even Clayton’s Grandfather’s day.
Once again his mother began to lose hope the situation causing her to fall into a deep sadness no longer wanting to help with the chores on the ranch. Most days she just stayed in bed sleeping, not wanting to eat or function. Everyday he begged her to get up, to do something, not to give up but nothing changed and it broke his heart to see her and the ranch in such a state. The bank came knocking in the spring and within the month the ranch which had been in his family for three generations was foreclosed on. Knowing no other way of life Clayton began to work for a larger ranch tending to their cattle and working the land, being wise in business the ranch was able to sustain itself and keep Clayton employed. It became his job and his home, the owner allowing himself and his mother to stay even though she was still catatonic.
Calling the doctor, Clayton sat with his mother and the doctor told him there was nothing that could be done in order to fix his mother. Physically nothing was wrong with her but she had mentally shut down, the will to survive no longer in her. A summer cold finally took her a few months later and the owner of the ranch was nice enough to allow Clayton to bury his mother on their land. Everyday Clayton would go to that wooden cross and speak to a mother who had given up on him, wishing she had been strong and could still be there with him.
As the years went on Clayton became the only steady year around help on the ranch, the owners knowing they could pay seasonal workers far less than full time help. In that way Clayton met a lot of different people and was able to learn how to properly read and write which was something that he had missed in his childhood only learning simple words. That helped with people no longer thinking he was simple minded since until he was in his twenties he had no idea how to read the signs in the window in the general store or anywhere else. Wanted signs had just been pictures with a dollar amount to him never a name and what they were wanted for. Such a small thing opened up a whole new world for the ranch hand. The rancher’s daughter, Caroline, teaching him about music and art which had always been pointless things within his life and now he was able to find beauty in them. Caroline would read her favorite stories to him after a hard day’s work as they sat under one of the large Live Oaks on the property.
Lessons turned into affections, though the ranch hand knew he was far beneath her since so many in the town showed her affection and asked for her hand. To Caroline’s father they were all over educated with soft hands and would try to take her away from the ranch. Caroline always seemed to find a reason to need him asking him for some other sort of favor or him to fix something else every day. Most nights he would see her out with another man knowing he couldn’t offer her much since he worked for her father, though he had been saving up his money. So one night he asked Caroline to accompany him to the dance hall and to his surprise she actually agreed. From that point on everyone in the community was talking, most whispering to the young woman that she could do better than a older ranch hand since most his age had already settled down and started a family.
Despite the words around town and the much better suitors to pick from, when Clayton asked her father for her hand he agreed. That was nothing short of a miracle since Caroline was most beloved in the community and many of the men in town sought her attention but she loved her easy going ranch hand. Their wedding was small in the little town church mostly those who worked on the ranch attending but it was a happy day, one of the happiest in Clayton’s life. Never had he met someone so kind and sweet in his life, she had the patience of a saint and he often referred to her as his Angel. The two were married for about six months when they began discussing children, Caroline in love with the idea of having little versions of Clayton or herself running in the pastures. For another four months they tried but unlike the fields which grew tall with wheat, their attempts at having children were just a barren dream. The doctors weren’t very hopeful that they would be able to conceive and it shattered Caroline’s heart, Clayton seeing the smile slip for his Angel’s face for the first time. There was no clear answer to their problem but they wouldn’t allow that to ruin their marriage.
Nothing lasts forever and all happiness eventually ends, it was a harsh reality that Clayton learned one night as he was awoken to his father-in-law yelling from across the pasture. Two gunshots rang out in the night and the young rancher felt his heart drop in his chest, as Caroline began to panic but he gently shushed her telling her everything would be alright. Telling his young wife to hide he grabbed the gun he kept in their room and quietly crept through the large ranch house. Reaching the front door he saw figures shrouded in darkness slowly making their way towards the house, he knew none were his father-in-law since he would have yelled out a greeting of some sort as not to be shot. “Don’t take another step!” Though Clayton was normally the last to hold a gun on anyone his survival instinct took over needing to protect his wife, his voice ringing out loud and clear. The rifle was leveled as he tried to focus his tired eyes on the figures in the field.
For a moment it seemed like those in the yard had indeed stopped but suddenly they came to life moving faster than the quickest stallion on the ranch. Clayton had no idea what hit him but a sharp pain radiated in his gut, his head hitting the wooden porch hard causing dark spots to dance across his vision. A blinding pain began in his wrist and he could vaguely make out someone at his wrist biting him, no that couldn’t be right it was the head injury causing him to see things. Hearing a scared scream that would remain with him throughout his days he tried to fight back, he tried to get to his wife but he was held down as if bound in place. The screaming was suddenly silenced and Clayton swore his heart stopped and in that very moment he internally died knowing Caroline would fight back until her very last breath. “Don’t kill him, I want him.” Was the last thing he heard as blessed darkness took him believing he would soon be reunited with his wife in death.
Death indeed had come to Clayton but in death came an unfortunate and unwanted rebirth. Limited consciousness returned to him as something warm, metallic, thick and rich slipped between his lips and down his parched throat. Something about the taste was intoxicating and he latched on his senses in overload as he drank deep reality coming crashing down as he jerked his mouth away hands going over his ears as everything seemed far too loud. The roaming of cattle not far off sounding like thunder running across his brain and he couldn’t focus or think. The warm metallic scent was driving him mad as he opened his eyes and lunged forward, sharp animalistic fangs piercing the woman’s neck as he drank.
When Clayton next awoke as a full valkyr Sadie, the female who turned him, explained to him what he had become. The younger rancher feeling sick at the very idea since he didn’t have a violent bone in his body but he’d now been turned into a predator with no equal, at least from what she had described to him. Sadie was rather proud of herself as she explained that she was a killer for sport, using the shadows to her benefit to kill more efficiently and that those with her were all men she had turned throughout the years to keep her company. The elder valkyr liked new play things and that was why she and her other four male valkyr had slaughtered his family. Rage began to boil inside of him as he lunged at the woman only be nearly ripped apart by two of her lap dogs who held his arms out straight to the side dislocating both of shoulders.
“Rabid dogs get put down, you don’t want to be a rabid dog Clay.” Sadie’s voice was somehow sickeningly sweet as she leaned down and ruffled his hair as if she were petting a cattle dog. His injuries didn’t take long to heal and for the first time he truly loathed what he had been turned into. Everyday he and the other four male valkyr slept while Sadie did whatever she fancied during that time period but come nightfall, when they were strongest, she wanted to cause havoc. A valkyr would never feed from an animal but Sadie enjoyed slaughtering the livestock of those she killed like a message or warning but only Clay seemed to realize what a waste it truly was.
The once kind and easy going rancher being forced to do things he never wanted to like drink from and harm women since Sadie liked to play games more than anything else. Clayton had sought an end to his existence, he tried to hang himself but he would never suffocate, he stepped in the way of a rattle snake and felt it’s bite but the deadly venom had no effect, he even tried not to feed but Sadie wouldn’t allow it as they blazed a bloody trail through North Texas despite the fact that their species needed very little blood to live. The other four were Rupert, a British Naval Man with a cruel streak, Christian, a soldier who fought for the South in the Civil war, Ramon, oddly enough had been a baker in Mexico and Walter who had be turned at barely eighteen. Rupert and Christian didn’t seem to mind what they were, making an easy peace with bloodshed but Clayton watched Ramon and Walter fight against their nature in a daily struggle same as himself but the three were much younger than the three elder valkyr who were far more skilled with their shadow abilities.
For years Ramon and Walter were the only two who kept Clayton sane and he mentally collapsed in on himself during the nights as Sadie took the reigns and though Clayton had fought at first there was no winning against a heartless valkyr who had two well trained killers at her side. Though he had wanted to end his existence he always ended up backing down from Sadie when she threatened to rip his heart out or force daystar down his throat or bury him alive in a coffin of Hawthorn. Every morning the feeling of self-loathing would kick in and he would think about finding a way to end it and every night the cycle would repeat.
One night while the six were approaching a small farm house everything changed. Rupert and Christian had scouted the house for two days but apparently someone had also been watching them. Ramon had stepped on some sort of trapped and what seemed like a wooden pitchfork pierced his chest. It was the first time Clayton saw a valkyr die and he was too startled to do anything more than stare as one of his only friends died. Sadie howled in rage her eyes fixing on the house as she told them to all stay alert. It was easier said than done as the smell of fresh blood reached their noses and Clayton was still relatively young and driven by hunger. Following the scent he heard the sound of a rope release and dove to the side barely saving himself as Sadie screamed in mourning again. As either Rupert, Christian or Walter fell.
Deep down Clayton believed they deserved this, to be hunted like animals for the crimes they themselves had committed and as retribution for the humans they had hunted and killed. Sadie yelled for him to come to the house, it was then he realized they were all alone no sign of the other three who had come here with them. “This hunter is smart but we can both take her.” Sadie said with confidence as she forced Clayton into the house before her an arrow slicing into his chest and driving him back as Sadie roared and lunged past him towards whoever had fired the shot.
“You? I specifically told them to kill you and yet you’re somehow still alive.” Sadie spat out at whoever was in the house with them since Clayton couldn’t see who it was.
A clear and forceful voice seemed to echo in the empty house, “You killed my father and my husband but you only thought you killed me.” He heard the pull of the draw of a bow and slowly moved forward as blood seeped from his shoulder, the arrow still in there since he couldn’t stand to touch it. Each step made him feel dizzy but he needed to know if the voice he heard could truly be real.
Standing in the wall was Sadie and a brunette he had never seen before, she was scrapped up and her hair was wild around her face her eyes glaring murderous dangers at the woman who had brought him back to life. There was something about the brunette which pulled at his humanity, maybe it was the fact that her words brought back memories of his own final moments, his family, truth be told he couldn’t say exactly what it was but a switch seemed to flip within him. The Hawthorn embedded in his flesh was weakening him drastically but as he watched Sadie talk the woman through the window out into the yard he pulled on what strength he had left since this may be the only chance he had to end his creator. As he reached the scene Sadie was holding the woman in a precarious situation ready to snap her neck. “No!” He roared out knocking the woman from the hands of his sire.
What little bit of humanity he had was resurfacing as he tried to protect the only innocent person he had ever seen fight back, let alone kill a valkyr. “You shouldn’t have done that Clay.” Sadie snarled at him and lunged twisting the arrow in his shoulder and causing him to scream out as blinding pain overtook him. The sound of a gun firing echoed in the night and the last thing he heard was a feminine voice calling him a monster as he the brunette stood over him ready to end his life as darkness overtook him and not the kind he relied on.
The next time Clayton opened his eyes he was in a dark, boarded up room in a house he didn’t know. His shoulder healed and no recollection of how he had gotten there. Closing his eyes he tried to focus his senses but it was hard since Sadie had only taught him how to use them in order to hunt and even then she hadn’t been a patient teacher. There was only one heartbeat and a matching set of footfall as someone paced downstairs. He could feel that the sun was still up and didn’t want to risk the rest of the house being filled with sunlight which would leave him weaker and vulnerable so he remained on the bed staring at the ceiling as he tried to clearly remember what had happened. The young vampire was still weak and he assumed it was from lack of feeding as he could do nothing but lay on the bed.
A few hours later the sun had gone down and that was when the door to the room opened, the brunette standing in the doorway staring at him as if he were the very being who had killed her family and perhaps he was. Though he couldn’t blame her since his throat was dry and burning for blood, his body needing it, his eyes shifting from her face to her throat his tongue slowly moving to lick his lips. “You’re nothing more than an animal now.” She said in a barely contained voice of rage as she slowly approached the bedside. Her blood calling to him like a siren’s song but he fought against his very nature wondering why she had allowed him to live after killing Sadie.
“I should have put you down like the others but there’s something particular about you and the way you tried to protect me even though you don’t even know me. Do you truly even know what valkyr is?” The woman asked as her eyes illuminated a pale shade of blue as the broads covering the windows were ripped off seemingly by invisible hands as Clay watched on in pure shock. “I’m going to take that as a no since you don’t seem the sort who would willingly kill so many and then just suddenly change and protect a stranger, it’s been in you from the start, but perhaps forgotten. Valkyr weren’t beasts, they’re shadow protectors, they fed on blood but those who are true to their nature don’t kill, it isn’t necessary. Though I’m sure you’ve felt the intoxicating high that comes for drinking more than you need, your group has been doing it for so long that I’m surprised there’s any bit of humanity left in you. I’d like to give you a second chance but to do that, I need to know who I’m trusting.”
Ever so slowly Clayton began to sit up on the bed, the woman keenly aware of his every move, “Alright darlin, but it seems only fair that after I tell you know I am that you do the same. I ain’t ever seen anyone do whatever you just did with those boards on the window.” She just continued to stare at him crossing her arms slowly over her chest waiting for him to tell his own story. “I’ve lost track of the number of years now when Sadie ran the same sort of play on my own family’s farm. They came in like wraiths in the night and slaughtered everyone, not for the blood but for the thrill of the kill, she had been watching and waiting and decided that she wanted me to join her. What she wants she gets by any means necessary. The night she killed my family was the night Clayton Forrester died and something else was born in his place, same face, same name but she told me I was a monster and after watching her, it wasn’t hard to believe.” For the first time in a long time emotions began to flow back into his voice and speech pattern as he thought of Caroline and the easy life they had. “You know how many of us there were, she only taught us enough for her own purposes keeping power over us along with the two who were just as drunk by blood and power.”
It was the first time he was ever explaining his recently years to anyone and he hated that he was speaking to a complete stranger but she was the only person who seemed to have seen past what he had become. “After awhile when you don’t have a choice other than death you just lock yourself away in your mind and pretend what’s happening is nothing more than was wild story you can buy for a nickel, not that it’s your life. I’ve never seen anyone go against Sadie let alone almost win and when I hear your voice...you sounded a lot like my wife and that triggered something in me. And now we’re here.” He responded stating the obvious as she continued to watch him.
The brunette seemed to be digesting the information he had given her before beginning to speak herself. “I’m Nadine, I come from a family of Fae who are pretty much light magic users. We had a small farm and found a man gravely wounded in one of our fields, he had been attacked by something, he said his name was Mason and he was a dhampir. My husband and I nursed him back to health and he went on his way but Sadie and her group were apparently looking for him and tracked him to the farm. She killed everyone but one of the males took pity and just told her I was dead, Mason came back and found me nearly dead and it was his turn to nurse me back to health.” Clay tilted his head heading the sound of a horse approaching as she spoke. “Once I was strong enough he taught me of your kind, what they should be and what some had corrupted themselves into becoming and how to fight them. You seem like haven’t have much of a choice in the second life and we’d like to offer you one if you can learn control and fight the intoxication of blood.”
A new option was placed before Clayton. The fledgling could have his life and gain redemption for the acts of blood and horror. It involved hunting down corrupt and violent Valkry like Sadie and he didn’t see too much wrong with that since she had been sadistic to her victims and those she sired. Clayton wasn’t a rogue valkyr he had only been trying to survive and now he was learning more about being a valkyr from a Fae and dhampir than he had from five valkyr. For the first time since his rebirth he was able to enjoy the sunlight and feel normal not worrying about being in a weakened state since there shouldn’t been anyone seeking him harm.
What Mason and Nadine used most were weapons of Hawthorn and Daystar infused or coated weapons though neither were anything Clayton could handle. So they both taught him how to use his strength and speed since those were his strongest assets before doing their to team him control of the shadows though that part was much harder since they didn’t understand. Using the shadows to his advantage was frustrating since he was having to learn nearly on his own since neither Nadine nor Mason could fully comprehend the power at his disposal. Even a gun with normal bullets would temporarily wound a valkyr and Nadine would often load Hawthorn bullets in his pistol for him and his weapon of choice was the bullwhip, soon the shadow whips when he could handle them which wasn’t often. The leather easily wrapping around throats or ankles to get a valkyr or a dangerous supernatural to focus on something other than the human and dhampir approaching, it wasn’t as deadly as Hawthorn or Daystar but when Clayton wielded the whip he was a force to be reckoned with.
For the next year the trio took out many groups of corrupt valkyr looking to cause harm and havoc in Texas and New Mexico. Nadine began to get tired and weak often, Clayton unable to feed from her not wanting to make her situation worse. The woman finally stopped at one of the doctor’s offices in a small town and received news neither Clayton nor Nadine were expecting, Nadine was pregnant. Though Clay tried to do the right thing and asked her to marry him she refused, they cared about one another but they were both still very damaged. It wasn’t the easiest of times to be a pregnant woman in but Nadine made due, the trio knowing it was best to remain in that town until the baby was born since that gave Nadine the best chance at a healthy pregnancy. Clayton had to feed from others in order to make sure he didn’t take the blood and nutrients that the mother of his child needed, though when you were used to the blood of one person it was strange to drink from another. It was like a meal made with the same ingredients but cooked a different way, it just wasn’t the same.
Mason was the only one who really knew what to expect from a child of a human and a valkyr so he began getting the couple ready for what would be their new reality. Nadine was incredibly thrilled and Clayton was as well but he was also weary of bringing a dhampir into the world especially with the lives they lived. After a discussion in was agreed upon that with a child on the way Clayton and Nadine would have to give up their life of hunting, at least for now. Mason actually agreed with the decision they came to, though he would continue hunting just without the two of them.
One night in the spring Nadine’s water broke and she began to have contractions. The poor woman was in labor for over twelve hours the doctors unsure if the baby would even be born alive. Finally a small scream broke through the air, Nadine however was fading from consciousness. Clayton’s happiness coming to a sudden halt as the doctors realized that Nadine was no longer breathing. Tears flooded his eyes as he dropped to his knees praying to anyone who would listen to bring her back since he couldn’t do this alone. For the first time in his life it seemed like someone took pity on him as as the doctor’s worked, Nadine’s heart slowly began to beat once more as breath once more filled her lungs.
Their child was a healthy and happy baby girl one he could already see so much of Nadine and himself in. Their daughter he named Lilith Rose Forrester since the two had discussed names throughout the pregnancy, Clay favoring Rose and Nadine favoring the name Lilith. Clayton had to quickly learn how to be a father and parent since he had never imagined he would have to do this and Nadine despite her temper and ability to hunt down anything was incredibly maternal. Instead of just staying in the town until the baby was born Clayton found himself looking for some sort of work that could be done at any hour, sure he had money saved up but he knew it wouldn’t be enough.
Mason returned shortly after Lilith’s birth and helped Clayton with adjusting his life around training horses and raising his daughter. Lilith realized that she was different at a young age and Mason began training her to fight explaining to Clayton and Nadine more about dhampirs and how his daughter would be naturally gifted with combat. When Lilith was ten Mason convinced Clayton and Nadine to allow him to take their daughter away to be trained by dhampirs since in the next eight years she would have her ceremony and her weapon would select her. Clay didn’t want his little girl to go but he had to do what was best for Lilith and she wanted to go with Mason which deeply wounded the valkyr and Fae but it seemed some corrupt Valkyr were looking for them and Lilith would be better off out of the line of fire.
Clayton and Nadine kept in touch with Mason as they readied for what might be to come, what they didn’t expect was both valkyr and necromancers which completely decimated the town Clay and Nadine had called home before callously executing the Fae in front of Clayton, something snapping within him as the shadows surrounded him and lashed out in a way they never had before as his heart was ripped in two at the knowledge that his daughter no longer had a mother. It would have been so easy to succumb to the darkness if it hadn’t been for Gideon Ashworth’s appearance in the burning town, offering Clay another purpose to police and protect humanity from what he had once been and fought against. For a time Clay trained under the elder valkyr learning and making strides to fix his own mind but in the end the two drifted apart, Gideon having a higher calling and Clayton wanting revenge which fit in with the purpose Gideon had laid before him.
Clayton kept in touch with Mason and his daughter, being there the day the bullwhip became her weapon, there was such pride within him knowing that Nadine would have been so excited and proud of their daughter. Lilith wanted to protect valkyr and the world for the darker nature of supernatural beings along with protecting the supernatural for those who wished to harm them, so Clay and his daughter continued to remain apart, never truly becoming close. The valkyr knew that Lilith blamed him for the fact she had no mother, that he could have turned Nadine but he hadn’t wanted this existence for her and neither had she their conversations about it extensive in the past. That was something Lilith couldn’t seem to understand.
Clayton fell back into the routine of hurting down rogue valkyr and stayed out of the eye of the public and was able to roam under the watchful eye of society for a little over sixty years seeing his daughter from time to time. In 1937 he was a big deal on the rodeo circuit for bull riding and went by the name Kenneth McDaniels. With his valkyr abilities it was rather unfair for him to compete but it was a rush and made him feel alive for the first time in over seventy years. As with all things he had to move on though since it was a dangerous sport and some were realizing he didn’t get as hurt and bounced back faster than some of the other bullriders.
After his early retirement of bull riding he had to find something else, most ranches were all day work which meant he was out at his weakest and rested during the hours which would make his strongest. Instead he was able to teach early morning horseback riding classes along with evening classes. He could only ever stay in one place for a few years, in the 1960’s he bought himself a medium sized piece of land in New Mexico and raised goats and cattle to sell, it only lasted about ten years before those around him began to get suspicious once more.
In 1995 he took a huge risk again, this time by qualifying in the widely publicized PBR National Championships. For the first time ever he was going to compete with what were now some of the most well known names in the industry since it had changed so much since the first time. The first night of the week long championship in Vegas he ran into a gorgeous and lively woman who loved to line dance, the Cowboy wasn’t too good at it himself but he tried and she liked him for it. This time everyone believed him to be named David Murray and Isabelle found him simply charming. It didn’t take much convincing for the Cowboy to take her back up to his room not fully realizing how dangerous of a position he was placing them both in.
The valkyr had pretended to be asleep when Isabelle snuck out of his bed and room the next morning. He didn’t think too much of it since he mainly only did one night stands since he lost Nadine and he was far more careful. What Clayton hadn’t expected was to see Isabelle the next night during selection and find out she was the wife to the currently number one ranked bull rider in the nation. The woman seemed slightly surprised to see Clayton and when they were introduced he had to pretend like he had no idea who she was. He was placed at the same table as Isabelle and her husband and had to carry a conversation with both as if they were on the track of becoming friends.
That night Isabelle came by his hotel room, even though he didn’t allow her in at first he knew it would look worse if they stayed in the doorway conversing. Inviting Isabelle in Clayton tried to keep his distance from the intoxicating woman, she spoke of how her husband treated her as if she were little and told him they were getting a divorce but until it was finalized she had to act as if everything was fine between herself and her soon to be ex-husbands while in public. Being a fool, Clayton believed Isabelle and for that week they were together at nights after he competed, though how her husband didn’t notice her absence he didn’t understand.
The night before the final round of the championship it all came into focus as he listened to the guys talking. Isabelle’s husband talking of the sleeping pills he took at night and the strange times of waking up for his wife to not be there. His fears of losing her coming to the forefront of his mind, it was then Clayton realized everything Isabelle had told him was a lie. There was no divorce in the works and he could see how much the man actually loved Isabelle. Clayton felt terrible for what he had done never thinking too much about the man he would be hurting in the process.
That night Lilith showed up at his hotel room in a fit of anger, she had seen him on TV since the event was shown world wide. His daughter had been watching him with Isabelle the past few days as well and threw the mini-fridge at his head. It was easy enough to move out of the way but her words hurt the most. “You’re a disgrace! A stain to Mama’s memory! Maybe you really are the monster you thought yourself to be! She’s married Clay! Maybe you and Mama weren’t married but she would be so ashamed.” Clayton felt like a thousand tiny lashes were striking his very soul since Lilith was right. He had once been a man of honor and he knew better than to keep company with a married woman and he had done it anyway. Isabelle had been a snake though telling him what he wanted to hear instead of the truth.
Grown men don’t cry was a saying that an idiot came up with since Clayton was well over one hundred and the liquid pooling in his eyes began to overflow. Never had he meant to dishonor his wife or Nadine’s memory since he liked to think they were watching over him, now more so than ever. Lilith let up as she saw the strong man before her finally break, she had been twelve and gone for two years when her mom died and Clayton had never taken the time to properly mourn her passing since he had lost himself. “I never meant to be a crappy father or insensitive to the woman we both lost. Lilith you mean the world to me. You’re all I have left of your Mama.” Sitting down on the edge of the bed he pulled the golden chain from under his shirt, the simple worn and battered locket hanging there, one which rightfully belonged to Lilith but he had a hard time letting it go.
“You weren't always a bad father it was more like looking at me hurt you because I look so much like Mama and I wasn’t there when you needed me.” The dhampir said softly as she looked at the floor before her father slowly wrapped her in his arms. The tears spilling from her eyes as well as things they had never discussed came to light.
For a few moments they just sat there in silence crying, Clayton finally realizing he was the reason his own daughter left. “I love you Lilith and you were the one thing your Mama wanted more than anything in this life. You were a happy surprise to us both and I wouldn’t trade you for the world of a thousand buckles. Your Mama would have given her life a hundred times over to make sure you were safe and I know she would have rather had you half the country away when it happened, it wasn’t pretty Lil and I was a mess. I’m not an easy man to read or always get along with which is one of the things your Mama would have explained if she were still here. I don’t admit when I’m wrong and I don’t lay everything out easily.”
The two talked until close to eleven at night when Isabelle came knocking at his door. The Cowboy allowing the woman in as Lilith sat on the balcony of his room which overlooked the city below, hidden from view of Isabelle. “Your husband is a good man Isabelle and he deserves better than this, I deserve better than this. You’re lying to us both like it’s nothing, you love him but you want a life with me and we both know that’s impossible.” The woman’s eyes began to fill with tears as she looked at him her gaze begging him to reconsider. “Don’t give me those eyes darlin’, I don’t take kindly to being played. Go back to your husband and either be the wife he deserves or let him go so he can find someone worth spending his life with.” His words were harsh but he didn't like being lied to and used. Clayton wasn't the sort to end a marriage but maybe it was for the best in this case.
Isabelle left after calling him every name in the book and even a few he had never heard. Finding restless sleep he awake to find Lilith was still there that night and intended to watch the final round of the championships since they both knew what he needed to do.
That night in the chute he could tell the bull was wound up as he held onto the rope. As a valkyr it didn't matter since his reaction time and strength was far above those competing with him. The chute was opened and the bull ran out bucking hard right away Clayton keeping hold of the rope and to a point controlling the beasts movements with his own body leaning to get him to buck in a certain direction. Four seconds had past and his eyes found Lilith’s in the crowd and he allowed himself to be bucked off, his body slamming hard into one of the guard gates. Slowly getting to his feet as if groggy the bull charged and bowled him over hard his body rolling as the bull tried to kick at him before being forced into the chute once more. Remembering what it was to be human he laid there unmoving as the EMTs moved in to get him. That night he disappeared from the hospital David Murray becoming a missing person.
Taking his money he moved on, Lilith telling him of a place called Evermore, Colorado. The valkyr took his daughter’s advice and found a plot of land outside of the city near the river bank. He was quickly able to fix the place up adding a few horses, goats and cattle to the acreage he had. When it came to his livelihood he invested in a local brewery which expanded to a distillery before he bought a majority of the company allowing the creators to stay the face of the company and run it. Lilith liked to joke that he was like the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain. It was a simple life which was all Clayton ever wanted. Staying in one place helped Clayton to reconnect with his daughter and at times there was so much of her mother in Lilith that it did hurt but he was so grateful to have her in his life.
When Gideon Ashworth moved into the city Clayton wasn’t sure what to make of it since it had been many years since he had last seen the man who helped to train him and helped him through a rather difficult time. Clay also knew he hadn’t fully held to what he said he was going to do since he gotten distracted by human entertainment and went into the public eye more than most valkyr since they were a low profile species. The two talked for a long time neither holding hard feelings for the other and Clay once more agreeing to the peacekeeper and protector he was meant to be.
Ambassador and King of Vampires. We're building a slow friendship since the King does take an interest in the lives of all vampires even if they are turned. Despite my darker beginning the King understands the reasoning behind my actions and agrees that I've mostly found redemption.
Rekindling a relationship with this firecracker since for over a hundred years we left a lot of things unsaid and without discussion. She's my baby girl and if you hurt her I will cause you so much pain you're going to wish I'd let you die.
What's there to say about Aurantia other than she keeps me sane in a world I'm not altogether too comfortable with? We have similar pasts and interests which stem for the time and environment we grew up in. She understands my simple way of living and enjoys it just as much as I do. Which is what brought us together in the first place and after months of evening rides and sitting on the porch talking everything just seemed to reach a breaking point truths coming out about both of our feelings for one another and now she's moving in. If anyone threatens her they'd better make peace with whatever they worship since they won't have much time left in life.