Humans and monsters used to live in harmony.
This was centuries ago, probably a little over 500 years in the past. They had their differences, of course, and there was a small amount of discrimination, certain species generally shunned others. It's always been difficult for people to accept things unlike them.
Despite the tension and differences, everyone coexisted somewhat peacefully.
The ruler at the time, Emperor Arlo, was essentially most of the reason behind the peace. Well, the continued peace. He was an amazing ruler, truly cared for his people and was absolutely amazing at problem solving and conflict deescalation. He was the reason the monsters were as accepted as they were.
That is, until he was killed by one.
It was a vampire, something blatantly obvious. He had the punctures in his neck, a telltale sign of a vampire attack, as well as a distinct lack of blood in his entire body. He was found in his castle, seated upon his throne like a morbid display.
This was essentially received as an act of war. There was rioting, pillaging and burning of monster safe houses. Any place where monster occupancy was widely known—vampire blood banks, werewolf shelters, merfolk tanks—got destroyed by the humans, who outnumbered them. The monsters fought back the best they could, but it wasn't of much use. There aren't many biological assets with an advantage over militia.
Pretty soon they were outlawed, something deeply unfortunate due to which empire this was. Amarath is a widely sought after place of residence, with an amazing and fair economy, mild wealth gap, and general acceptance and equality. To be unable to take residence there would be devastating to anybody.
So, despite them being unwanted, they continued to sneak in. They'd try to cover their identities, try to hide their heritage and who they really were. Over time the empire became a bit more accepting. You were allowed residence as long as you had a certain percentage of human in your DNA—a lot of other civilizations still had monsters integrated in their society, for the most part, which meant cross-species mating wasn't uncommon. It's a very high percentage, though. 90%, mostly to make sure you at least looked human.
Vampires were exempt from this. If you had anything in your family tree relevant to a vampire, your presence was forbidden within the Amarath borders. Vampires specifically are the most hated species of all, and that's not just in Amarath. That's almost global, due to all the damage they cause. Saying they have a lot of enemies is an understatement.
Anyway, monsters still try to sneak in. They still try to live there, due to Amarath practically being a metropolis. If you wanted success, you moved there.
Monsters essentially have no rights, they lost those when they murdered the amazing, generous and benevolent ruler that gave them so much. Being a hunter is a deeply respected profession, and pretty much everyone in the royal family takes part in it. Nobody hates monsters like the Sinclairs, the family that has ruled Amarath for generations.
Nobody detests vampires with such a burning passion like that family. They lost history because of the species. This only became worse when the current Empress's—Eve Sinclair's—husband was killed by one, on a hunting trip gone wrong. Before that, her grandfather.
Vampires are hated. The Sinclairs have made it their mission to wipe out the species completely, and said species has always fought back. It's a war that's gone on for centuries. Nothing will ever change that.
Thankfully they basically have their own kingdom, Vanhallam, where vampires make up about 95% of the population. It is a good distance away from Amarath, for both citizen's safety, though there's always been tension.
It's much lesser known, and smaller, but far safer than Amarath when it comes to being a member of that species. Vampires don't really come around much anymore, thankfully, though other monsters do. Still, they aren't as prioritized.
Hopefully, one day, Amarath can be free of them completely.
Kita glances up from what he'd been doing—taking an order—to find one of his regulars waving his glass. Kita gives him a nod of acknowledgement and goes back to the task at hand.
"And also..." the woman at the bar squints down at her menu. "Hm. Do you have fries?"
Kita tries not to feel impatient, despite the fact that under the sides category of the menu, it says plain as day that they have fries. Honestly, his parent's tavern—on paper simply called Pub Amarath, but nicknamed The Remedy—have some of the best fries in the empire.
That shouldn't even be a question. Then again, she's also had about four drinks already. Honestly, Kita probably should've made her order food sooner. In his defense, it's a busy night.
Then again... every night's a busy night.
Kita tells her an affirmative, and she ends up ordering them. He then grabs a glass to start pouring another beer for the man. As he does so, he overhears a conversation behind himself.
"I mean, we can't have just one ruler. Look how difficult it's been for Empress Eve."
"I think she's done alright," the other person defends their leader.
"She did a lot better when her husband was still alive."
Kita purses his lips, getting an idea of what exactly they're talking about. The prince, the eldest child of Eve, has been under immense pressure as of late to find a partner. He is to take the throne within the next year or so, and Eve has been trying desperately to find him a suitable wife. One from a line of either royalty or money, Kita's sure.
"He'll find a woman eventually." A lady, also in on the conversation, says. Kita realizes the beer he was pouring is overflowing, and he mutters a swear. He takes the glass over to the customer, then tries to shake all the beer off his hand. Someone a few seats down the line chimes in;
"Not if he keeps turning them all down."
"Oh, there's nothing wrong with being picky."
"There is when it's selfish."
"Wanting to find the right one is not selfish."
Kita walks over to his register, and begins writing out the woman's order of fries, giving it to the kitchen. He also writes in the guy's beer, before attempting to focus on tuning out his patrons.
He feels his mood brought down a bit. He doesn't like thinking about Alexis Sinclair that way. Falling in love. Leaving him.
"Hey, Kita." Kita hears from behind himself. He turns around to find the same group that's been so deep in conversation this entire time. Honestly, half his bar top is participating in it at this point.
"Yes, Ma'am?" Kita replies. He's expecting her to ask for another drink or a menu or something, but the woman instead inquires something completely different.
"What do you think?"
Kita frowns, fully aware that he cannot share his genuine opinion on this. He decides to settle for a very neutral, "I don't know."
They immediately don't buy it, something Kita probably should've predicted. The drunks that come in here on the daily, drowning their sorrows and talking his ear off about random things, rarely accept anything that isn't agreement with them. Neutrality is included in that.
"Come on! He's your best friend, isn't he?"
This is true. Back before the pub got wildly successful, Kita's mother had to take side gigs. One of those was a kitchen job in the castle, and Kita's father was always too busy handling everything here, so he'd sometimes dump the responsibility of looking after Kita on the woman... even when she was at work. Luckily Eve is a kind and understanding ruler, so she didn't mind. She actually became supportive when Kita was introduced to Alexis.
They hit it off immediately. Alexis was never good at making friends, he's always been too headstrong. It's his way or no way, so Kita would just go along with whatever Alexis wanted to do. This sort of submissive nature is rare—though submissive is probably the wrong word, he mostly just doesn't care—and it's what drew Alexis to him. Kita hasn't been able to shake him since.
Not to say that Kita doesn't stand up for himself, or give his true opinions on things. He makes it well known how he feels about anything, but that's just it. He's so indifferent, doesn't care about much, so he doesn't really have much of an opinion on many topics. Still, when he does, Alexis listens to him every time. Despite being so strong willed, he doesn't really argue with Kita much.
"He is." Kita affirms, since there's no use lying to these people. It's common knowledge, anyway. His friendship with Alexis is part of why The Remedy has the success that it does. It's gotten much more attention since the royal family became involved with Kita's own. The chance of running into the prince doesn't hurt either.
"Alright." The lady says, "so tell us: why won't he settle down?"
Kita never appreciated how nosy drunks were, especially when they ask questions he doesn't know the answer to. Especially when they ask questions he wants to know the answer to.
"He's still young." Kita decides on. He ignores the ugly, selfish twist in his gut when he continues. "It'll happen eventually."
That seems to somewhat pacify them, conversation dying down a bit. While Kita and Alexis are in fact young, Kita age twenty one and Alexis twenty three, he doesn't think that's actually the reason why Alexis turns everyone down. This is mostly because Kita can't remember the last time he was in a relationship at all. His mother has been trying to set him up for ages, but nobody reaches his standards.
Eve got married to Alexis' father when she was younger than he is now. Yet, still, nobody has ever caught that guy's attention. Kita has almost given up trying to figure out why, assuming Alexis must have ridiculously high standards or is just too focused on his hunting career something. Kita isn't complaining, because when Alexis gets married, he will be gone a lot, since he'll likely take the throne right after. Kita isn't too keen on losing his best friend anytime soon, so he'll take what he can get.
A few more hours go by, until the pub is about thirty minutes from closing. There are only a couple people at the bar now, but they're either almost done or completely billed out. Kita is scrubbing the bar floor—it's his least favorite part of closing, so he tries to get it out of the way first—when he hears the chime of the door opening, announcing another guest.
Kita isn't particularly thrilled about this, seeing as he's trying to pre-close, but he decides to just make due. It's money, after all. When he looks up to see who just entered, however, he freezes.
Kita isn't the only one looking, but then again, he never is. Not when it comes to Alexis. His mere presence demands the attention of anyone in attendance. He just has a certain power about him that's hard to ignore, so it doesn't matter how often the prince enters this establishment, he will be gawked at every time.
Then again, his mother is the ruler of the greatest empire this side of the sea, so that's probably part of it.