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The shrieks of birds and the croaking of frogs spread through the humid night air as Caleb tried his best to bury his face into his newspaper. He hated exposing himself to the general public like this, but the only way he could make his way through these bogs in any reasonable amount of comfort was to take the steamboat that flowed down river, even if it did also happen to be a rather popular tourist trap. The world was growing increasingly crowded; all of the quiet places where he could have escaped from humanity's insidious and insipid grip in his early days were slowly disappearing. For the moment, Caleb managed to keep his anger and the bloodlust at bay.

He glanced at some of the articles, not really taking any particular interest. This was not really his world anymore. In Germany, Adolph Hitler was appointed the new Chancellor, while Japan and the Soviet Union had reformed their diplomatic connections. Caleb did not even know where or what many of these places were. He continued to read the paper, if only to ensure that nobody else bothered him. In his own country, unemployment was close to 25%, agriculture continued to be plagued by drought, and a new president was to be inaugurated in the vague hope that he could manage to seal in the cracks. None of this directly affected Caleb, who lived on the margins of society by default, but it did provide a fertile breeding ground for the Cabal.

As more and more people were set adrift, the cult would be there waiting to take them in with open arms. They would offer the hungry and the desperate direction and hope, a vision of the future unrestrained by the current social, economic, and political realities. Those that could be used would be used, while those that could not or would not be used would be eliminated. Even in their weakened state the Cabal could still choose to prune out whoever they wanted; in the current climate there would always be plenty more willing candidates. The thought of all those disposed and dispossessed masses made Caleb's mind return to Johnny once more, and he responded by trying his best shrug the memory of it off yet again.

Caleb never had second thoughts; he would never allow himself to be wrong. Still, there was something about it all that remained to make him feel uncomfortable. Something about the kid always made him stay his hand, a rare privilege. At times he even caught himself rationalizing his own actions by deciding that, in the end, he had actually done the boy a favour by cutting him out. He had not forgotten about the loss of his photograph however, and ultimately he still could not bring himself to forgive Johnny for it. He had saved the boy's life in exchange for it, after all. His new leather trench coat also served to remind him of his losses, with it still fitting uncomfortably stiffly in comparison to his old burned up reliable. At the moment, he hated everything.

The sound of laughter danced in the air as a young attractive couple walked onto the wraparound deck to get a better view of the passing scenery. Caleb, who was sitting in the corner with his back to it all, hoped the two of them would just ignore him. The couple had only recently been married, and were partaking of the steamboat ride as part of their larger honeymoon. This was not the first time that they had burst onto the scene to disrupt his bitterness and melancholy with their over abundant happiness. Caleb held the newspaper in front of his face in a death grip, glaring at the text in the hope they would see that he was reading and just pass him by. The newlywed wife observed this through her overwhelming mirth, and decided to try and spread some of her joy around.

"Why so glum good sir?" she inquired in an all too polished accent; at times like these only the upper classes could enjoy the luxury of retreats, something which would have made Caleb an outsider even if his eyes did not glow in the dark. He slowly lowered the paper and raised those softly glowing red eyes of his to view his unwanted guest, who continued to watch him in gentle amusement. Despite it all Caleb could not help but notice that she was actually rather pretty, dressed and made up well according to the fashion of the time. Caleb hated pretty women. They always served to remind him of what he had lost. To make matters worse, the lady that was presently before him was also a redhead. He felt the natural attraction he felt for her turn to bile in his stomach.

"Save it for someone who cares" he responded disparagingly. She frowned at him rather fetchingly, something that made him despise her all the more.

"Whatever it is it can't be that bad" she observed consolingly, cocking her head. Her red bangs shifted out of position and fell over her eyes just like Ophelia's used to. Caleb decided that he had enough. He got up out of his chair and back onto his feet, forcing all of his domineering height down on her, his now sharply illuminated eyes bearing their way into her's. She stared up at him unsure, still looking far more passive than Caleb would have wished her to be.

"I'm your best reason to be afraid" he warned, his warm breath blowing across her face, resettling those unfortunately familiar bangs. Her husband, who had by now observed all this with a considerable amount of alarm, marched over and gathered his bride protectively in his arms, stepping between her and her present menace. Caleb considered this from his position above, the pair of them looking almost comically small in comparison to his own naturally tall stature. Caleb felt his anger die down as the impotence of the man's defence became evident to him.

"Come on darling, we're leaving" the newlywed said to his wife, who acquiesced with a slight nod of her head before being pulled away forcibly by her husband. Caleb started laughing.

"Pathetic insects" he commented just as the pair of them disappeared around the corner of the deck and out of sight. As they had left the wife had kept her eyes fixed on him, her expression exactly the same as it had been when he was bearing down on her. Caleb felt his cynical glee die down as he realized what that had meant. He had not really managed to change her impression; she was still feeling sorry for him. Caleb sighed, walked over to the rail, and considered the riverbank. This is why he could not have nice things. His thoughts went to Johnny again, but he managed to shrug them off. He then sat down in his chair and went back to reading the paper. He deserved to be alone. There was no other way.
Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.
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cybermage303 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014
Great chapter. I love it when authors write about Caleb's feelings for Ophelia, one of the few still human traits he has left.
hamishpaulwilson Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014
I think you will appreciate next weeks as well, if I ever get the time to write it. It has been a very busy work thus far and their presently seems to be very little sign it will slow down before the weekend, but I am sure I will get it done.
cybermage303 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014
Take your time and don't rush, well I can't say that what with the weekly release thing haha. Best wishes my friend. :)
hamishpaulwilson Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014
Well, considering the fact I had already posted the follow up when you posted this... 
cybermage303 Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014
Yeah, I noticed it. I'm always the late bird so pay me no mind. :)
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August 17, 2014
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