I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.


    **I have seen the movement of the sinews of the sky

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    Tariq
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    **I have seen the movement of the sinews of the sky

    Post  Tariq on Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:23 pm

    The air outside was hardly less stifling than that indoors but it was decidedly cooler and it was this which drove the vampire out to the dark streets. The press of so many warm bodies constantly scrabbling and squealing about him made him perpetually restless. It was an itch on the roof of his mouth. It was a pervasive threat to his self-restraint and he sought to extinguish it in the winding night air.

    The city air was stained with soot and rank of the accumulated stink of the human nest. Layer upon layer of stone and bones, a pentimento built on the dead and the dying. He doubted he was the only corpse that roamed these streets – this city was a tantalizing invitation, a hive of writhing bodies with soft bellies and vulnerable throats nestled among their crumbling stone and thin plaster façades. It was an irresistible siren song of flesh.

    He wandered without a destination, one idle flâneur among many. The smooth wood of the walking stick in his palm was a reassuring weight, a magical talisman that rendered him nearly invisible to the last of the evening crowds. For hours, he was content enough to merely walk in the cool evening air.

    He skirted the outskirts of a slum that was the descendant of some derelict cour des miracles, now bordered by ruined flophouses and market stands supplied mostly by rangy rag-pickers. The door to a brothel swung open, spilling perfume and sweat and raucous laughter onto the street. It briefly piqued his interest but he discarded the notion. Someone in the crowd of beggars, thieves, and anonymous travelers would offer themselves to him soon enough. It – he – was inevitable.

    It was the alluring scent of adrenaline that focused his attention and he paused in the narrow street, inclining his head like a hunting wolf to pinpoint its location. Somewhere in the winding labyrinth of alleyways a pair conversed in whispers sharpened by unease. He could smell the nervous sweat on the small of her back. She was already dying, like so many here, her illness reading to his keen nose as a damp rot in her blood. Her companion was careless with drink, the vinegary smell of wine breathing from his pores. It was this temptation that stirred his silent feet into action toward the source.

    His performance instinctually thickened as he grew closer. His walking staff clicked loudly on the stones, his footsteps faltering on the uneven street to allow them plenty of time to size him up. Their whispers grew more distinct. They fell silent as they came to some agreement and took their places on the stage, fingers nervous and breath shallow.

    Her footfall as she advanced was the silky step of a seasoned sneak. The point of the blade pressing into the small of his back sent a shiver up the old bones of his spine. “I want your money, not your life, old man, but I’ll gladly take both.” Her accomplice hissed something equally menacing from behind him, the liquor deadening his tongue.

    His teeth were heavy in his mouth. Patience, he thought.

    He raised his dark palms in an unmistakable gesture of surrender. “Easy.” Neither of them noticed nor cared that he had not surrendered his walking stick. It was a mistake they would have time to regret. “All I have is in the pocket of my coat. Take it.”

    Her hand, clumsy with excitement, plunged to grope at the fabric. He inhaled through his nose. She brushed an eager palm against his cold skin. He closed his eyes and struck.

    To the hapless pair it happened too quickly to follow - she was on the ground, pain singing from an unknown source so abruptly that she only had time for a soft, instinctive mewl - but to the vampire it was almost leisurely. He could picture the delicate bones of her wrist as neatly as any anatomical manual and breaking them with a swift and brutal application of force from his palm was easy. From the snap like the cracking of a bird's egg he guessed it was the delicate jut of her arm he had broken and not the uneven pebbles of her wrist bones. It did not allow for further inspection as he was occupied with other matters - namely, bringing his staff down with a vicious swing on her kneecap. That broke too, with a nasty crunch. She toppled to the ground, her knife skittering away from her flailing grip.

    He released his breath.

    The smell of blood filled the alley with rust. But it wasn't the rich ichor of arterial blood; her bone had sliced open a vein and her forearm dripped with the deoxygenated blood interrupted en route to her lungs. It was enough to set his milky pupils to slits and kindle his veins with a sting that trembled deliciously close to pain, but it wasn't what he was after.

    The man was shrieking something incomprehensible. Such a brutish language, he thought idly as he advanced on the would-be thief. It is a shame this is what the mother tongue has devolved to, muddied by barbarians.

    It was only when he had pulled him close to his chest with a strength that was inexorable that he understood what he had been screaming. Monstre, monstre!

    His smile was an ivory knife in the murky light. The mugger's knees involuntarily folded underneath him and his last thought was a trembling refrain that looped over and over again - those teeth! Those terrible teeth!

    Those teeth neatly severed the carotid arteries twisting up his throat. The man went limp in his arms, the vampire supporting him in a clasped embrace. He was not delicate about his hunger. His mouth was impatient over torn skin. The blood poured hot over his tongue. It warmed his throat, his belly, his groin, and prickled painfully in his veins. He was wholly submerged beneath it, as he always was. This was the true petite mort, the little death that eclipsed all others as it drew him further from the grave and relentlessly back to some veneer of life.

    The man’s heart weakened, faltered, and stilled. His last breath was a burbling wheeze before his lungs stopped expanding. The vampire reluctantly withdrew his teeth from his neck and allowed his body to sink to the ground. Dark bruises dappled the skin where he had been tightly grasped.

    His mouth, nose, ears were awash in the rush of blood. He tilted his head back as though admiring the stars with dead eyes, lips parted in a soft pant as he struggled to regain full control of his senses. Sluggishly, the intensity ebbed. He turned with a soft shake of his head, his mouth still lined with the taste of iron.

    The pair had chosen their ambush site well; he had several minutes before they would be stumbled upon and it would be several hours if ever the constabulary was alerted to the grisly scene. He stooped to collect the knife the thief had dropped and weighed it in his hand. It was of poor quality, likely handmade, and after a moment's inspection he discarded it back to the ground where the thief remained in an agonized heap.

    She was weeping softly. Involuntarily, he would imagine: many people did when they knew they were about to die.

    To her credit, the horrific turn her theft had taken hadn't much dampened her spirit. He could not see the gesture she made but, judging from the swift stream of obscenities that accompanied it, he did not imagine it was one she often employed in polite company.

    The dead man's wine-laden blood had soaked pleasantly into his veins and he laughed, softly, a sound like bones over stone. It drew her up short.

    "What are you?"

    "Did you not hear your companion? Un monstre."

    She scoffed, a motion that brought fresh tears to her eyes as it jostled newly broken bones. He did not know if she was pretty - he had no scope for these things, even if he had been able to see her, and could not wax poetic on the colour of her eyes or the fall of her hair over her shivering shoulders.  But he was aware of the ragged flutter of her breath in the bend of her throat and the venom that shaded her tone. These things indelibly charmed him. He'd always had a fondness for the ones with fire in their chests. Defiance seemed to be the birthright of these people. Or, perhaps, he thought, it grew like ragged weeds between what little cracks they were permitted.

    "He is a superstitious fool. Or--" she corrected quaveringly, wiping away her tears with the back of a hand to try and peer at her companion's slumped body. Her pulse was already weakening from shock. “He was. Is he… did you eat him?"

    The murmur of laughter was a rough purr in the back of his throat. "Only his blood."

    "Are you going to eat my blood?"

    "I do not know."

    She considered this with a shudder. Exhaustion, he knew, had already clasped a soft shroud over her shoulders. If he left her she would fall asleep in the muck and never wake up.

    "I wish you wouldn't," she said at last.

    His eyes glinted like the stars overhead as he inclined his head. "Then perhaps I won't."

    "Good." It was shakier than perhaps she intended. "Then come on, monstre. I always knew I'd die here. I only wanted to eat.”

    “As do I, mademoiselle.”

    She scoffed once more but remained wordless, apparently content with her last words. He was happy to oblige her. She died softly, swooning in his arms, her head lolling on her thin neck.

    He took a mouthful of her blood but it was thin, diluted with her disease, and he was already glut on her companion.

    He left her cooling body in the dirt where she had died. He could not have said if it was what she would have wanted, but it seemed, at the very least, fitting.

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