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    ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

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    Tariq
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    ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:37 am

    It was an eerily familiar scene.

    Fabien was once more bound to a bed – this time not by the strain of coarse ropes but by the heavy inevitably of his body’s own weakness. The blood loss had certainly taken a toll. His skin was wanner, his breath rattling looser in his throat, every motion apt to make him dizzy or startle up a sense of greasy nausea behind his eyelids.

    But that could wait until he regained consciousness. For now he continued to sleep deep as a stone.

    Tariq had taken up his accustomed positon as well. He reclined lazily in a nearby chair, his staff in his hand and his dull eyes unfocused. His long hair had been gathered at the nape of his neck but he otherwise appeared just as he had the night before, the sharp satisfaction that gathered in the corners of his mouth and bristled with every gesture included. He was silent save the occasional soft instruction to the girl who knelt at the youth’s side.

    Colombe had to be pitied; she did not have a role to revert to, having been absent from their initial meeting, and so had been given the task of seeing to the boy’s wounds. She did not appear to enjoy the assignment. Her dark eyes were wide, nearly bulging as she worked. Her hands were sure despite the trembling that shivered through them like a sparrow’s wings. She was nearly finished with the dressing she had secured in place with a bandage that stretched underneath the boy’s arm and around his neck. When he lowered his arm it would place pressure on the bandage without interfering with his breathing. She had done an admirable job given both her unconscious patient and her palpable revulsion with her task.

    The peculiar scent that had only lurked at the edges of the house had gathered on her. It was an aura that haunted her every move, a halo of clove-spice and green growth drawn from rich, dark soil.

    The lights had been re-kindled, lending the room a warm, orange glow. Without the door open it was impossible to gauge what time it was, whether the sun still reigned over the sky or if the moon had assumed her silver crown.

    On the nightstand an untouched glass of cool, clean water waited patiently for the unconscious boy. Alongside it were the former contents of his pockets, the stale crust of bread sitting quietly next to the carefully swathed bundle of pilfered coins.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:27 pm

    The boy had remained stolen by sleep for quite some time.
    Fabien was lifeless throughout the girl’s careful work. Only the steady rise and fall of his chest and dull ticking of his pulse indicated that he was present. No dreams stirred the soft tissue of his eyelids, or disturbed the otherwise smooth canvas of his youthful face. It was as if he did not wish to return, to cross back over the threshold of death into the miserable theatre of his life. But with a little prompting, the curtain began to draw aside and his breathing deepened.

    The urchin’s features slowly grew tense as he became aware of his pain.  It was a dull, throbbing ache somewhere in his neck, or shoulder perhaps. The flesh there felt uncomfortably tight and restricted, and he desired to probe it with his fingertips. But when he sought to lift his wrist, his arm felt heavy as lead and refused to obey him.  The boy roused slowly, and a soft moan of discomfort parted his lips. The sight of this frail creature stirring upon his pillow was sure to inspire pity into even the hardest of hearts.

    With the flesh twitching in effort, he strove to open his eyes. The bruised lids felt weighted, as if heavy coins had been placed over the cool flesh to seal them. But he persisted, and when he had established some clarity of vision, began to try and untangle the blurred shapes at his side.

    It was Colombe first, with her wide dark eyes that drew his attention. The boy’s features softened as he examined the murky outline of her face.

    Douce sœur?” He whispered in quiet kindness. His fingertips twitched toward her as though in gentle encouragement. It seemed he expected her to take his hand, or perhaps that whoever he mistook her for, had done so often.

    The room sharpened into focus, and gradually the boy became aware of his mistake. Everything about the place was wrong; the softness of the bed, the ceiling, the strange scent which pervaded the place from wall to wall.

    “Where...?” He croaked breathlessly.

    The boy’s dark ringed eyes avoided the figure whose presence haunted the room. Instead, his attention drifted towards the sparkling glint of water, and then the bread, and the coins.

    Something shuddered through the length of the his body. It was captured, gasping, at the back of his tongue. He immediately tried to rise up, to force his limbs into action, but found every effort ineffective. It did not deter him from trying.

    “What did you... what did you do to me?”

    At last his turned his unhappy gaze upon the ... creature, who sat across from him. His mind had been seared by unhappy recollections, and he flinched as they began to re-kindle. Those hands on his skin, that mouth on his throat, the...

    The boy trembled, wincing in his discomfort as he continued to try shaking his limbs from their stupor.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:09 pm

    Colombe was the first to recognize Fabien’s return to consciousness. She flinched when he began to stir, her trembling hands hastening to finish securing his dressing. His whisper stilled her hands and she regarded him with naked horror. She recoiled violently away from his tremulous fingers. The tools she had been using to patch the boy’s wounds slid from their perch on the side of the bed and clattered to the floor. Her wide eyes flicked to her master, pleading silently for a dismissal that did not come.

    Tariq seemed to elongate in his chair, stretching like a contented cat. His skin had flushed to an earthy ochre. Colour darkened his eyelids and reddened his cruel lips. The change was subtle but the effect startling; he looked much younger than he had when he first crept in on the helpless waif, his spryness the easy agility of youth.

    “My sweet bird,” he said warmly. “Does it still startle you so to see your dearly departed brother’s clothes stained with blood?” The girl’s countenance hardened, her mouth drawing into a thin line. She stalked forward, her eyes dark, and finished tucking Fabien’s bandage into itself before quickly retreating again. She lingered in torturous silence by the door in clear anticipation of being granted her leave.

    “Good morning, Fabien,” the vampire said pleasantly. “I am pleased you returned to us so early. It seems you were genuine in your desire to be given the chance to fight. Have a bit to drink.” He made no move to assist his guest with this task, instead content to preside with blighted eyes from his throne. The scar at his throat glittered like a lattice of frost.

    The boy’s unhappy question prompted a smile to his lips. There was no pretense now; his wolfish teeth were clearly visible as he answered: “I did precisely what I said I would. I took from you just as you took from me.” He spread his arms in a gesture of magnanimity. “I paid your debt.” This noble declaration prompted a choked sob from the girl and he spared her a disapproving and wholly useless glance.

    Oui, very well,” he said, an unkind rustle of laughter clambering like bindweed over the words. “It was not entirely selfless of me, perhaps. But it was still a fairer trade than most under this roof, was it not?” The girl declined to answer.

    He was in good spirits, talkative, keen to make the most of his rapt audience. He leaned forward, both palms resting on the wooden staff in his hands. “How do you feel, Fabien?”
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:18 pm

    Fabien’s grey eyes were anchored upon his unhappy beside nurse, but he did not see her. It was not the girl who he contemplated, not her trembling fingers and clear distress that had his enrapt attention. Instead, he was entirely absorbed by his host’s words, by the palpable delight which caressed every line he spoke. The boy could scarcely draw breath.  

    Slowly, his eyes lowered reluctantly to examine the length of his body. He gaze slipped over the once pristine clothing he had so kindly been gifted, marked now by the rusted stain of blood which spread about the collar. The vision of it sent a painful bolt of white fear down the length of his spine, and his stomach churned viciously.

    Dieu aide moi...” The words were little above a shuddery whisper.

    “Her brother’s? ... Why would you?” The boy’s eyes dared to fall upon the blind man, though they did not linger.

    Too stunned by his situation to offer complaint, the urchin obeyed the vampire’s instruction without a flinch. With a dull hiss he attempted to force his upper body to rise, to lift up an inch or so from where he lay. Soon he was able to prop the back tips of shoulders against the headboard, but the effort left him panting with exhaustion. His arm then moved mechanically towards the water, though at first he had no desire for it. Nor anything else the man cared to offer him, for that matter. His trembling fingertips rattled against the lip of the glass, before he hesitantly curled his hand about it and brought it towards his parched lips. It wasn’t until the cool fluid hit his tongue that he realised how drained he felt, now necessary and vital it was to drink. He sped the water past his tongue with a grunt of satisfaction, spilling half the contents of the glass over his chest. Eventually, with a gasp, he let the now empty glass fall upon the bed at his side.

    Only then did he dare to look upon the gentleman with more scrutiny. The changes to his host, slight as they were, did not go unnoticed. The boy seemed so absent, so unresponsive. He struggled to grasp at the thread of the man’s speech, to unpick what he meant. Every so often, he turned his helpless eyes back upon the girl, hoping she might illuminate further what had transpired. But for all his efforts, she barely caught his eye. So it was only at the sound of his name, at the question, that he startled and seemed to return to them.
    The boy’s chin lifted, and he replied in a voice that was almost childlike in its soft caution:

    Êtes-vous le diable , Monsieur?
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:56 am

    Tariq watched with quiet satisfaction as the boy obeyed his order and greedily downed the water. His good humour was plainly inscribed in every loose gesture but the faintest edge of contemplation lingered in the storm cloud haze of his ruined eyes. Whatever he mulled over proved less of a distraction than the boy’s gasp. “Bon garçon,” he breathed, brushing aside his startled half-questions as easily as if they were cobwebs.

    “Colombe,” he called with a lazy flick of his fingers. “Kindly fetch him another.” The girl reluctantly approached the bed, coming only near enough to snatch the abandoned glass and gratefully flee from the room. She was stopped by a soft hiss from the master of the house. Her cheeks paled and she performed a graceless half-curtsy before scurrying away.

    Fabien’s earnest inquiry so greatly amused his host that he laughed aloud, a sound with strangely ragged edges as though his lungs were full of holes.

    “I could not tell you. You would not be the first to insist that I am. It is one of many names I have had: katil, upír, maleficus, meurtrier – sodomite, recently –“ His cruel teeth flashed with his mirth. “Though I greatly prefer Monsieur.”

    The girl returned with the soft patter of bare feet and placed the renewed glass close at hand. The particular scent that hounded her heels whirled in eddies about her arm at the gesture. Disdainfully, she also slipped a wedged rind of hard cheese wrapped in a scrap of cloth next to the water before bending to gather the scattering of supplies she had thrown to the floor in her fear. If the blind man noticed the gesture, he did not comment on it.

    “If you are looking to barter away your soul, I am afraid I have more substantial hungers,” he continued after a pause. “Of which you have already had a taste.” Colombe, who had finished gathering her supplies, rose with a shudder. There was an air of expectation in her doe eyes that was answered with a dismissive wave of the vampire’s hand. She left gladly, arms full of bandages, and closed the door softly behind her.

    The pair was alone in that warm, dark room. The lamps guttered. They cast flickering shadows across the man’s face. Now that his withered veins ran ripe with hot blood there was much less of bone and teeth in his countenance and more of red lip and expressive brow. The end of his staff rang against the ground with a dull thud.

    “I will ask again,” he said delicately. “I do not suggest letting me repeat it a third time: how do you feel?” For all the not-so-veiled threat jutting from his words he seemed sincerely interested in the boy’s answer, inclining his head as though to better hear it.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:26 am

    Despite the warm seclusion of the room, Fabien’s skin was cool as marble, and glistening with nervous moisture. His tired eyes stalked the hesitant approach of Colombe, and followed the movement of her fingertips as she neared him. Her shape was as intangible as a ghost, softly out of focus like much of the room. He could not process her caution, her visible abhorrence when she moved too close to him.

    The boy raised his trembling fingers and pressed them first to his brow, then tentatively to the bandages which concealed the wound upon his throat. The bruised skin ached under the pressure of his touch, and he nervously let it be.

    “Then I am not dead, nor dreaming” he murmured softly, just as Colombe returned to complete her task. He offered her a gentle “Merci.”

    This second glass was nursed more slowly than the first. When it was empty, the boy’s fingers continued to worry the smooth surface, his breath hard in his chest. He remained quiet, startling only at the insistence in his host’s voice.

    “Very good, Monsieur, well rested.” The boy lied, watching his fingers as they stirred nervously over the rim of the glass.  It was eventually abandoned in favour of the girl’s other offering. His hunger was a dull ache deep in his chest, and the temptation to feast on even so small a morsel of food impossible to deny. He briskly unwound the piece of cheese and sank his teeth into it, swallowing stiffly before slipping the back of his hand over his youthful mouth.

    “I hope we are settled then? “Fabien tested softly, and then paused as his eyes rose and flitted nervously toward his host. “I would not wish to burden you longer. I think I would like to leave now.” His tone was falsely light. He did not acknowledge the vampire’s words, or the startling danger he remained in. Instead, he began to carefully test his strength, moving his legs in preparation to push his body out and away from the bed.

    The boy’s pulse fluttered like a caged bird within throat, and it took every ounce of the his effort not to let fear disrupt his intentions.  He pulled aside the false trappings of comfort, the linen sheets and blankets, freeing his eager limbs from the confines of softness.

    “I am sure you are a very busy, non?” If there was any hardness behind his words, it was expertly concealed. The youth was stiffly courteous,  if not somewhat blinded by his determination to reach the door. But he was not hasty in his desire to depart. The effect was like one trying to politely manoeuvre their way around a tiger’s cage. It was as if he hoped these small, slow movements would not provoke the beasts hunger.

    He managed to prop his chest up with the aid of one trembling arm, and half twist his body in attempt to reach the floor. Then his strength miserably failed him. It would take days for his energy to recover, for his heart to beat with ease once more. But the urchin was nothing if not persistent. It was likely that, given the chance, he would have clawed his way out of that room. It was better to fight after all, than to succumb.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:13 pm

    Tariq did not respond to the boy’s soft assurance that he was well rested. Instead he considered it in a silence that gathered like the ominous swell of bruised storm clouds. He was still as stone.

    He clicked his tongue against his teeth at his guest’s declaration of intent to leave.

    “I believe our agreement was that you would rest here until you had regained your strength.” He spoke lightly, each word crisply defined on his tongue. “And to my eye, you are far from strong.”

    He rose to his feet with animal ease. He settled in on the edge of the bed, far too close to the urchin’s now exposed legs. The blankets had been paltry protection but the boy was sure to miss them now. The vampire took the boy’s chin in his cool grasp. His hand was firm on his jawline, his dark fingers a stippled contrast to his wan skin.

    “Listen closely, Fabien. This is an oath to you.” The words were cool on his lips. His pale gaze was intense, blighted though it was.

    “If you depart this house without my leave, I will find you. I will wait to reclaim what is mine until I have slain every person you have come in contact with; every kind-hearted stranger who offered you coin, every innkeep from whom you begged food, every last wretched urchin you shared shelter with. They will all know suffering by my hand. And they will curse your name with their last breath.” His voice remained soft, conversational despite how every word shivered like a plucked violin string in his throat.

    “But it will pale to the anguish awaiting you. You would beg for the luxury – the paradise! - of being returned where I found you, trussed and beaten and at the mercy of every beast that passes by.” He cocked his head and a gore-crow’s black humour shone in his eyes. “A plea I would be loath to fulfill.”

    The vampire lapsed wordless as though to allow the terrible images to sear on the boy’s eyelids. The stretched silence was unbearable. It was a relief when he broke it with his steady voice. “Do you understand me?”
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:18 pm

    The moment he felt the press of those cool fingers upon his skin, Fabien’s breath shuddered past his teeth. The boy became a picture of absolute stillness. This gesture, slight as it was, had turned his flesh to smooth stone and robbed him of all action. Despite this, the vampire was sure to feel the nervous chatter of his teeth, and the way in which the muscles of his jaw restricted with discomfort. Now that they were so close again, it was impossible not to grant his host his complete and perfect attention.

    “Yours?” The boy croaked, and his voice splintered like dead wood. His grey eyes slipped over the red lips, the pale glow of the unseeing eyes. Terrible comprehension surged through his entire body, and there was no outlet.

    “Why, Monsieur?” He interrupted thoughtlessly, his words clouded by a haze of despair.

    “Why why wh....-“Sadness clogged his throat, and the youth drew in breath back past his teeth in a harsh gasp. The gesture was so sharp, it seemed as if he feared his emotions might break their banks and overwhelm him entirely. To counter it, he bit down hard upon his upper lip, hoping to distract himself from the convulsions of sorrow. He was afraid of how such feelings might manifest, and took every effort to restrain them.

    So when the expectation came from him to provide an answer, the boy merely slowly shook his head at first, over and over. His thin shoulders were rocked by a faint, desperately concealed sob. Slowly he sought to lower his chin, and in doing so pressed the bones of his skull down into the vampire’s palm. His hair drifted forward, until it had completely shrouded his features behind a softly curling veil.
    Just when it seemed he had sunk completely into sullen despondency, an answer was given.

    “O-oui, Monsieur. If that is what you wish.” He whispered.

    A steady channel of tears had already begun to seep down the boy’s cheeks, reddening the already crimson lined flesh of his eyes. Soon they would collect upon the skin of the vampire’s fingertips, if his hand still remained firm upon his jaw.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:53 pm

    Tariq weathered the boy’s despairing interruptions with patience. He concluded his horrid prophecy and waited wordlessly for the wavering assent. When it came he leaned in and pressed his lips to the curls of hair that hid his forehead.

    “Good boy,” he said, low and warm. His hand did not yet move from its grasp of his jaw. His fingers were wetted with the fall of his unhappy tears.

    A thick silence unfurled between them as the vampire allowed Fabien’s tears to fall freely. It was a few minutes before he released the boy’s chin and placed a hand on his slight chest to gently push him back to the bed, a move for which the still-sore nerves at his throat were surely grateful. He remained perched at the edge of the bed, spine straight and bound hair slithering over his shoulder. Quiet pleasure lurked in his lips and in the flashing silver of his blind eyes but his tone when he spoke was somber and soft.

    “You may consider this bedroom and all its belonging yours. There are clothes and comforts enough that you will not be found wanting.” He spoke in the same low tone as before, as though he wanted to be sure every word found its mark. It was falsely soothing in its measured rhythm.

    “You are free to roam the house at your leisure, except where the doors are locked. This is a privilege I would rather not revoke; I would be greatly pleased if you did not give me cause to imprison you to a single room.”

    The words hung fretfully in the air before dissipating like fog. The man’s long fingers traced idly on the wood slanted across his lap as though there were more words crowding on his tongue. If so, he swallowed them neatly enough before turning his ghostly gaze on his piteous guest – or captive.

    “We will talk again. If that is all you would ask of me tonight, I will let you rest.” It was an unkind, miserable trick that after all the torment he had forced him to endure his captor could manage to form words that rang with such sweet sympathy in his cruel, cruel mouth.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:44 am

    The long fingers of boy’s hand were bone white, and clenched so tight against his side that all sensation had been drained from them. It had been drained too from somewhere deeper, from the well of his thoughts, and a heart which now felt both heavy and bereft.

    Despite considerable effort, he could not unearth from his throat even a single word of protest, of outrage at his situation. There was something inevitable about the vampire’s words. They were like the solemn call of church bells, and he could do little but listen to their gentle tolling.

    Even so,  there was just the slightest pinch of resistance in his spine, before he succumbed and reclined back into the soft embrace of the pillow. Once settled again, he irritably swept his forearm over his eyes, banishing the painful residue of his unhappiness in a rough stroke. With eyes burning, he slipped his hand back up towards his throat, and pressed his palm and fingers over the curve of his shoulder. His storm grey eyes returned reluctantly to his host, and he listened without further interruption. But it seemed he was still incapable of fully grasping all that had been said.

    It was only when the vampire declared he would be departing his company, that the boy became animated once more.

    “Wait,” he rasped, and once again forced his chest upright with the leverage of one elbow. It was almost as if he did not wish to be left alone. That at least for now, the gentleman’s presence was somewhat of a distraction. But once he no longer remained by his side, there would only be his words left to contemplate. There would only be the terrible memories of what he had inflicted upon him, left there to turn over and over within his mind.

    “S’il vous plait, Monsieur. I-...”

    “For how long must I stay here with you?”

    The urchin paused, one hand still hooked over his shoulder, still pressed protectively about his injured throat. The more he worried the wound, the sharper his comprehension seemed to grow. It began to entice further anxious questions to his lips, further terrors which sapped life  from the lightly tanned flesh of his cheeks. Suddenly his breath had become rapid once more, and the room shifted its weight around him as though the entire house had begun to tilt.

    The boy continued to stroke the wound repetitively, his eyes half-closed and glazed.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:11 am

    The moment Fabien’s breath began to quicken as he worried his wounded throat, Tariq leaned forward and stilled the offending hand in his grasp. He held it gently, careful not to injure the fingers that trembled against him like the chest of a baby bird. He brought the hand down to the boy’s chest and once more pressured him with a firm hand to lay his spine on the bed.

    “I will stay,” he said easily. “But you must lay still, oui?” Only when his guest made a move to comply would he release his palm from his sternum.

    His answer to the boy’s nervous question came swiftly. “Until I decide otherwise,” he said, a glint of iron in the words, and then, relenting somewhat: “There are matters I need to satisfy first that do not yet concern you. In time.”

    The vampire fell silent a moment as though mulling over the query in earnest. His eyes when they met the lamps were like a cluster of stars glittering sepulchral through fog. “Truthfully,” he said, the word rasping cat-tongue rough in the back of his throat. “I am not certain I did not kill you already.”

    The poor boy would not be given long to contemplate the words as the vampire’s form sharpened and his own soft question tapped impatiently at his lips. “Do you fear death so much, Fabien?” It came silkily from his mouth, as coolly as if they were discussing something as mundane as dinner plans. “Do you dread le diable awaits you?”

    It was a mercy, perhaps, that his ghoulish eyes had drifted from the boy’s face. It did nothing to lessen the intensity of his expectation. “I imagine it would be of great interest to me to know why.” The indirect question lay uneasily between them, every syllable echoing with those softly cajoling tones he seemed to have appropriated from a serpent’s swaying hiss.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:00 pm

    Fabien’s heart throbbed so firmly within his chest, the vampire was sure to feel it against his fingers as he eased the boy’s hand down. This time however, it took little effort to coax him back into the pillow. Even the slight bite of resistance seemed to have poured away, and was replaced by new exhaustion induced calm. Despite the pain he had inflicted, the boy seemed relieved that his host would not abandon him so soon.

    “D’accord... I’ll try,” he rasped wearily.

    The urchin’s expression had become briefly softened by tiredness,  but it darkened at the vampire’s words. His weary features became pinched with confusion, and he refocused upon the chilling whiteness of his host’s eyes.

    “What do y-...”

    The blind man’s question was initially, and likely expectedly, met with a gulf of silence. The boy paused, his expression still so tense that his jaw muscles had begun to ache. He scrutinised the vampire’s expression with such intensity, it was as if sought to decipher his true meaning from his eyes, the curve of his mouth. Then, he answered quite simply:

    “Non, I do not want to die.”

    He paused again, though this time there was no hesitation to continue. It seemed that this was enough, not to want to die. It needed no further explanation. As if the boy expected that anyone who had lived the sort of life he had would understand. When he spoke again, his words were more precise, a touch more coherent.

    “And not... not because of the devil, not because of demons.”

    His eyes averted, drawing away from the vampire’s features to a darker corner of the room.

    “Because... because death is ugly, and it is... it is unfair.” Something in his tone sharpened suddenly. His expression changed with it. And had the vampire been able to see, he might have recognised the look. The toll such a life had taken on the boy, how the awful bite of poverty could coax age and suffering upon the features of even one so young.

    “And I have seen it, Monsieur. Washed up, along the banks of the Seine, their eyes still open and... closer still, in the rooms where I... sleep... too quickly, they-“ His upper lip curled, and the memory was severed before it could wound him further. But in the wake of it, the boy became pensive, and sad.

    “One moment so alive and warm, full of song, and the next so cold and hard it was as if they... “

    The boy’s eyes lowered as he began an examination of his hand, his fingers. The loss of blood had stripped his flesh of its fullness so that it was pulled tight, emphasising the intricate structure of his bones. The sight of them, so sharp against his skin, sent a shiver through his slim body. He spread the fingers of his hands, and flexed the joints beneath paper-thin skin.
    When he lifted his eyes, they were half-narrowed, and so much harder than they had been before. Something determined, and quietly angry had been coaxed to the surface of his skin. It had been there once before, briefly, when he was bound to the bed and faced with inevitable horrors.

    “But not me, Monsieur.”

    The boy’s breath shuddered with unhappiness, and he swallowed thickly as if in an attempt to force down the pain and frustration which burned its way through him. When he presented his own set of questions, they were full of desperation, half-pleading.

    “Will you tell me now, what you are? What you... why you hurt me like that?”

    “Please tell me.”
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:24 pm

    Tariq remained silent and still for the entirety of the boy’s painful soliloquy. There was grim satisfaction etched into the lines of his countenance. Fabien’s words had ignited something sulfurous behind the man’s ruined eyes until they positively glowed like with yellow smoke. His silence seemed to be the symptom of careful scrutiny, as though he grasped some idea in the jaws of his mind the way a wolf worries a bone. This ground to a halt at the boy’s imploring and he turned those star-speckled eyes to him with a look that was rimmed with distaste.  

    “Always the same.” There was a flame of irritation licking at the words. “It was the first Columbe asked of me as well, ‘What are you?’. As though there is any response you would understand, as if there is a single word that would quell the dread in your belly and put to rest your unease that I am come to prey on you and yours.” His sharp teeth were bared as he bristled but he made visible effort to compose himself. After a moment’s pause he picked up the conversational tempo of his speech, the words cooled.

    “The answer would vary with its teller. My dove maintains that I am a very sick old man. She has been sheltered from any real contact with the dying and believes the stories of those inflicted with plagues of disease and sin who rise from the grave or become eaters of human flesh. It is the only explanation that she can understand, despite all she has seen.” He scoffed lightly and glanced sidelong at his guest with eyes that did not see him. “I hope you do not come to share her misapprehension. I am not ill.” And indeed, looking at the man with colour that flushed his dark skin and silky ease characterizing every movement, it was impossible to imagine any disease gnawing at his vigor.

    “There is no simple explanation that would let the scales fall from your eyes. But… I will speak as frankly as I can. I do not fear death because it cannot touch me. I died long ago.” He said this as casually as anything else, the words gentle on his tongue. Idly fingering the silvery scar at his throat he added, “At the teeth of a beast that would tell you that I am merely a man, with desires just as black as the heart of any man.”

    He shook his head contemptuously.

    “In truth, I am a hunter of men. I kill that I might eat, an impulse so ordinary that I share it with every wolf that stalks the earth and every bat that strays the sky.”

    The vampire raised his own hand as though to mirror the boy’s examination of his blood-starved limb. Instead he flexed his fingers and turned his palm upward for the boy’s inspection. The hand was capable and strong, his fingernails impeccably clean and the bones solid beneath the flesh.

    “It is your blood in my veins, now. I took it, and with it, your life. Not all of it, although it was a struggle not to devour the last of you when my teeth were in your throat, but enough of it that I do not starve.”

    He lowered his hand and raised his blank eyes. “It is a poor answer to such a question – ‘What are you’! How would you answer such a thing? – but it will have to suffice.”
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:56 pm

    From the moment the sightless eyes fell upom him, Fabien at once recognised his error. His slim body seemed to sink nervously down into the soft comfort of the mattress, as though he expected some reprimand for his prying. The boy lowered his eyes, and his fingertips began to worry the edge of one of the soft blankets which was draped over his legs. But as his host continued, and when it became clear his request had not been refused, he lifted his eyes once again.

    Then when the vampire spoke of Colombe’s conclusion, the boy murmured a soft acknowledgement.

    “I have heard such stories” he agreed.  Though he did not confirm nor dismiss his own thoughts on the matter, and allowed his host to continue speaking.

    The boy tentatively lifted his fingers when the elegant hand inclined toward him. He responded to the gesture by tracing a careful finger over the vampire’s palm, following the lines etched into the immortal flesh with the ritualistic precision of a fortune teller. The urchin’s features were tense throughout this examination, the muscles of his jaw tight and youthful mouth a harsh and unhappy line. When a violent shiver caused his entire body to convulse gently, he swiftly withdrew his touch away from the warm flesh.

    The vampire’s last words were left to linger upon the air like smoke. If the boy was even capable of comprehending what he had been told, he was not able to give voice to it. There was only silence, and the sound of his breath heavy within his chest. After some time, finally a fresh question emerged.

    “But how is it you can die, and still be of flesh?”

    His eyes slipped over the gentleman’s shoulders, where they lingered for some time on the glinting scar which marred his throat. With his storm cloud eyes still contemplating the injury, the boy pressed on with a further question. Something in the tone of his voice had altered. There was a strange intensity in behind his words that had not been there before. But it was conflicted somehow, shaped by something hard and accusatory, but also curious and full of quiet awe.

    “And you chose to be this way? Êtes-vous damnés?”

    The boy drew air in once more, as though in preparation for a further question. Something more pressing, something which concerned him greatly. But he severed the words with his teeth before they could be formed, and lasped into quiet.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:25 pm

    A faint shiver rattled through Tariq’s long fingers when the boy brushed against his palm. However, he did not draw his hand back from the tentative touch until his guest was satisfied. Only after the boy withdrew did he fold his fingers and return the hand to his side, his palm still tingling with the warmth of the gentle touch.

    Fabien’s initial inquiry prompted a soft exhale through his sharp teeth. “Venez ici,” he said, gesturing for the boy’s hand. He took it, whether it was proffered or no, and leaned forward so that he might slip it beneath the fabric of his shirt. He pressed the boy’s palm to the warm skin above where his heart beat a steady tempo. Deliberately, he closed his eyes.

    His heart continued to tick, tick, serene in its cage of bone until, with a jarring abruptness, the ticking stopped. He opened his ghost-pale eyes with a shudder. The skin beneath the boy’s hand remained still, his heart as quiet as that of a corpse’s.

    “Dead.” He said it lightly. “It only beats through force of habit, and at gladness at having so recently taken your blood. I do not need it, nor my lungs, nor any of the rest of it.” With his words, those lungs he spoke of expanded with air beneath the boy’s hand, but his dead heart did not resume its beating, laying still as the grave in his chest. “Only the blood.”

    He released his guest’s hand and leaned back, austere in his satisfaction at the object lesson. His response to the boy’s second question came at once. “Non,” he said simply. “Do most choose the date or nature of their deaths?” His death-ruined eyes alighted on the boy at this and remained there, vague and pensive.

    The latter half of his questioning proved to be far more entertaining and the man’s words when he answered were lit with a spark of amusement; “Am I? It is a poor damnation. I have inherited the earth and dominion over all who inhabit it. There are no prisons that can hold me, no laws that can bind me, and the throats of kings are as vulnerable and as sweet to me as those of paupers.” He stretched out his palms. “It seems a paradise to me.”

    “Enough of this weary topic; I have told you all I can for now. Let us talk about you, Fabien. Tell me of your family and how you came to be in that place I found you.” Soft though they were, the words were an unmistakable command.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:39 pm

    It did not take much coaxing for Fabien to once again present his hand, it was offered with little consideration.  Unsurprisingly, his initial response to the vampire’s demonstration was nothing more than dull confusion. He arched one eyebrow; his gaze lay steady upon the vampire’s chest.

    The urchin’s hands were still cool as marble, and his narrow palm seemed eager to soak up the warmth emanating from his companion’s flesh. But the boy remained slow to understand the gentleman’s meaning, and appeared at first oblivious to the sudden silence within his companion’s ribs. Then, when recognition began to brighten his features, a jolt of surprise shuddered through the length of his entire body.  His chin rose sharply, and dark eyes grew wide with a look of quiet horror and youthful fascination.

    “Mon Dieu” he breathed softly. “And it does not hurt?”

    The boy’s fingers withdrew slowly, and slipped back over the sheets to rest upon his thighs. His eyes however, remained brilliantly focused and unblinking. He explored the vampire’s features with a deep, if not somewhat tentative interest that appeared only to grow when their eyes came to rest upon each other. The youth was briefly spellbound by his host’s response, each breath that parted his lips more soft and heavy than the one before it.

    “There are many prisons here, Monsieur. And many laws” he murmured. “Few of them just.”

    The vampire’s questions had something of a sobering effect on the youth. A tension threaded its way back through his muscles, and his limbs shifted slowly beneath the sheets.

    “My family?”

    “I... they, I have not seen them for some time.” He paused, and his hand once again crept up to thoughtlessly worry the bandage about his neck.

    “I have some sisters.  They are maybe this high now.” The boy reached out to form a level with his other hand, and then quickly realised that such a gesture would be lost on his companion. “Still very young,” he added swiftly.

    “I do not know if they are alive or dead. We cannot write.” He shrugged lazily, and then swept the air with his hand, brushing aside the details like meaninglessly wisps of smoke.

    “That place where you took me from was a punishment.”

    The boy paused, and allowed himself time to prepare a suitable answer. His words were careful, and fragmentary.

    “I move in certain circles Monsieur, you know? There are codes, languages... rules.”
    He turned his head aside, and finally withdrew his gaze from the blind man’s features.

    “I do not regret my decision.” He murmered softly, his tone suddenly much harder and spiked with youthful petulance. The boy became quiet, and his eyes did not return to the vampire when one further question came.


    "Why do you mean to keep me here?"
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:23 pm

    Tariq’s low ripple of laughter was like a grey breath of fog creeping over the sea. A smoky amusement lightened his pale eyes at the boy’s breathless interest in his still heart.

    “It did, once.” He mutely considered his own words, the tips of his fingers beating a quiet tattoo on the wood of the staff slanting loosely towards the floor. “Long ago. One, three, eight hundred years changes one’s notion of hurt, I suspect.” His smile showed those terrible teeth.

    He kept his own counsel on the boy’s tale, his sightless eyes glowing like ghost lights in a bog. He interrupted only once to inquire, “I suppose you are not lettered. Can you read?” before allowing him to continue. Wherever the sun had been when the boy had awoken, enough time had passed that the lamps burned dim and low without a hand to tend to them. Darkness stained the room with shadow. It greyed the man’s skin to the colour of old ash, the shadows lending an air of severity to his sharp mouth.

    The boy’s final question prompted the corners of that mouth to deepen. He turned his head back towards him, his white hair nearly glowing in the growing gloom.

    “Presumptuous, Fabien.” His wolfish eye-teeth clicked together behind the reprimand. “You are alive and whole on my whim and at my leisure. I suggest you keep that understanding in your thoughts so I am spared having to brand it into your flesh.”

    The admonishment was serpent-tongue soft. He added after a moment’s pause, “You are kept here to do as I tell you. Do not dwell any further on it at present.” As though ignorant as to the staggering difficulty of abiding by this command, the vampire lazily reclined back to claim more bed as his own. The space between them shrank further.

    “A punishment?” He returned to the thread of the conversation with idle interest. “And what was the crime you do not regret?” The words were ash in his throat.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:22 pm

    Fabien was almost incapable of remaining completely still for long. The vampire had stolen his attention again, and once more he began to prop his chest up a little, to lean in further so he could listen.

    “That is when you died? That long ago?” The urchin breathed, further questions prickling the tip of his tongue. “But how did yo-“ He snipped the question off before it could fruit, and swallowed the remnants, at least for now. Then the boy slowly shook his head.

    “Non, Monsieur. Well, a few words, some argot. But not letters or books.”

    The vampire’s answer to his more pressing question was met with a heavy silence. The boy had clearly wanted more from him, something substantial. He had been looking for a slither of hope, and found only a wall of darkness. But he reluctantly obeyed, and dwelt no further on his host’s rationale. Instead, and perhaps to distract his pattern of thoughts, he instead provided an answer to the blind man’s questions.

    “It is complicated.” The boy began, and then paused after this initial explanation. It seemed for a moment that he hoped this might prove a satisfactory reason, but then thought better. Soon he began to elaborate, though his words remained hesitant and clouded at first. “I did not follow an instruction and it... made my employers angry. It was dangerous, this job, and it would have put... some others in danger.” He lowered his dark eyes, and began inspecting the soft sheets that encased his lower body once again.

    “When I refused, they said that they would come for me but... I expected only to be beaten-” The youth’s tapering hands twisted at a loose cord of thread, plucking and rolling it between his finger and thumb as he continued. “-Which I was. Badly” Slowly his voice became less faltering, his eyes lifted, and the slightest hint of a sly smile coloured his words. “But, also, it seems they found other ... uses.” If the youth was lying, it was a noteworthy performance, full of criminal artistry. He reclined back into the pillow, his eyes cautiously examining the blind man’s features as he spoke. The boy did not know what the brothel staff had revealed, how much detail they had provided his host before allowing him into that room.

    “The Madame there said I was to remain until I repaid the money I had cost my employers. But that was a very large sum, Monsieur.”

    “And I would still be there now, if not for you.” His voice had warmed like a stone left to sit in the sun.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Mon Apr 25, 2016 4:58 pm

    The vampire seemed faintly taken aback by Fabien’s question and he paused to contemplate it. “Non,” he said with a shake of his head. “I died much longer ago. Twice that, perhaps.” The points of teeth in his smile were like pinpricks of frost. “It is only old things that have such strange hungers.”

    Tariq listened to the boy’s tale in that silence that dusted him in a patina of soft ash grey. It was so easy to speak to him when he listened with such raptness, his cloudy eyes betraying nothing of his own thoughts. If he suspected an attempt to appeal to his sympathy, he did not share it.

    It was a moment after the boy had concluded that he softly offered his summation of the event; “A martyr.” It was gravel in his throat. “How lucky you are that I found you.” This was brushed by the slightest amusement, a humour that was echoed in his eyes.

    He was interrupted by a soft knock at the door, hardly a brushing of knuckles against the wood. The vampire’s eyes did not leave the boy’s as he answered - “Entrez.” Colombe entered, dark eyes drawn to the floor and arms occupied with oil to refresh the lamps.

    Her entry shook the vampire from his reverie and he leaned forward with jarring speed. His palm was warm on the base of the boy’s throat, his long fingers gentle and skilled as they took measure of the esoteric machinations of his internal organs. He closed his eyes to listen and to feel.

    “You are to rest now,” he decreed with all the solemnity of a warden – an apt impersonation, perhaps. He removed his hand from the boy’s chest. “We can – we will – speak again.”

    The master of the house stood, his walking stick gathered neatly in his hands. He called Colombe’s attention to him with a soft word.

    “See our guest is properly fed and tended for. Come to me immediately if he begins acting strangely – if he becomes confused or violent.” He paused before taking her wrist and bringing his lips close to her ear. She flinched violently away from his mouth but listened to his whispered words with wide, trembling eyes. She nodded, silent as a mouse, and turned adamantly back to her work.

    He straightened with an air of satisfaction. “If that is all,” he said silkily. “I will take my leave. This door will remain locked until I am confident you are well enough to roam.” It was not a tone that left much room for disagreement.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Tue May 03, 2016 4:46 pm

    Fabien had become briefly transfixed by his host’s eyes. He met the vampire’s unseeing gaze solidly, and for a moment seemed barely able to draw breath into his newly aching body. Then when his companion moved, and did so with such precision, the urchin violently startled. His pulse was suddenly hard at the back of his throat, and remained there long after he had been forced back into the bed.

    This time was there was no resistance. He fell under the vampire’s hand as though there was no strength left within him, as though he had suddenly become aware of how painfully exhausted he was.

    “Oui, Monsieur,” he replied softly, his voice just lightly coloured with disappointment.

    Fabien’s sharp eyes moved between his host and the girl as he spoke. Suddenly it had become increasingly hard to focus upon them, the edges of their figures had started to softly blur. He barely followed the vampire’s words when they were no longer directed at him, and it had already caused panic to bloom within his chest.

    The youth waited in silence until the blind man had completely removed himself from the room. When they were finally left alone, the boy allowed the silence between them to linger. His storm clouds eyes followed the girl, tracing her every moment around the walls. But his observations were without focus, it was as though he were watching her from a distance, or through glass. After several moments had passed, he finally broke the quiet.

    Doux Jésus,” the boy hissed, and released a sharp, shuddery breath of air. It was expelled from between his teeth as though he had been holding it inside him for too long. He raised a gently trembling hand to his brow, and began to work his fingertips through his curling hair. Slowly he pulled his eyes away from Colombe, and drew his gaze down towards the bed.

    “Do you have any cigarettes, chérie?”The boy asked, a tremor within his voice half-heartedly concealed. “Or maybe something more to drink, some wine?”

    He lowered his fingers to his throat, and soon began picking at the bandages that were pulled tight about his shoulder and neck. It was clear he had every intention of probing that wound, of exploring it nervously with his fingertips. His movements were somewhat strange, almost mechanical in their stiffness.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Tue May 03, 2016 10:34 pm

    The vampire waited only long enough to be sure he was understood and obeyed before leaving without another word. His footsteps were quiet as a ghost’s tread, the gentle scrape of his staff the only marker of his progress as he departed. The door clicked shut behind him but an observant ear would note there was no turning of key in the lock.

    Colombe was not eager to break the silence. She busied herself renewing the lights in perfect harried silence. Her motions stilled at Fabien’s shuddered exclamation but she carefully avoided eye contact as she hurried about her task.

    However, she could not refuse his request. She straightened and turned to examine him with those big, dark eyes. There was something probing in the look and it went on far too long before she broke off.

    When she returned to action, her movements were no less baffling. The girl fell to her knees and stretched an arm underneath the dresser. She groped blindly for a moment, her fingers tapping gently on the wood on the underside and her eyes screwed up in concentration. She evidently seized on what she sought because she rose triumphantly and returned to the bed, her peppery smell wafting about her like a cloud, and deposited a thin metal cigarette case near his hand.

    Inside, the unmistakable dry, earthy fragrance of stale tobacco rose from a row of thin cigarettes. They were clumsily hand-rolled in paper that time and tobacco had yellowed. A small book of half-spent matches was tucked inside.

    Colombe did not linger to see how her gift of unknown origin was received before turning on her heel and leaving the room, mindful to keep the door closed behind her. Her step was nearly as soft as her master’s. She returned swiftly, bearing a tray that contained a bundle of tart green grapes and a second rough chunk of cheese. The accompanying drinking glass was intended for wine, but while the pale amber liquid inside certainly had the stringent smell of liquor, initial taste would reveal something stronger and thicker with a deep, rich flavour like stone fruits and oak. She placed the tray on the nightstand and took a step back.

    Her wide eyes drifted to the motion of the boy’s fingertips as he picked at his bandages and she hissed softly between her teeth, the sound one made to chastise a cat. However, she made no motion to stop him, instead swaying softly on her feet, scrutinizing him with those liquid eyes. There was a queer intensity to her gaze. It was the look of wild things, of wary foxes and mistrustful deer, every muscle taut as though to spring away from his hands. But morbid fascination kept her near. Her dark eyes flickered over him, lingering at the bandage over his throat before flitting nervously away, again and again, as she twisted the fabric of her simple dress fretfully in her hands.

    If she had something to say, it never found voice. If her attention was not called back to the bed the girl would slowly, like the heave and roll of a dark sea, turn to leave.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Wed May 04, 2016 11:39 am

    The boy was visibly delighted by this result. It was clear he had not expected her to fulfil his idle request so easily. He examined the case thoughtfully, turning it over between his fingers and smoothing the dull surface with his thumb.

    By the time Colombe returned, Fabien had propped himself up against the back of the bed, a haze of smoke circling about his wheaten hair. His eyes were briefly closed, the flesh of his brow pinched with a look of sharp concern. When she neared him, the boy turned to look at her, and exhaled a fresh ribbon of smoke off to the side.

    “Merci, chérie” he murmured appreciatively.

    The youth’s bruised eyes followed the girl’s movements, watched her place the tray and its contents beside him. Despite her hissed warning, he had continued to worry the bandages free from around his bruised neck. This had proved to be no easy feat, the cloth was expertly wound, but eventually managed to loosen and pull it aside. The boy tenderly prodded at the raised puncture wounds that marred his throat, but even the softest touch made him recoil with a wince of pain. He let it be, unable to examine the angry dark blush of a bruise that had already spread across the skin.

    Distracted by his pain, the boy had lapsed into quiet once more. It wasn’t until he sensed she meant to depart that he became animated, and fixed his attention upon her once more.

    “Non, non don’t leave, s’il vous plait. Don’t lock that door just yet.” There was a touch of desperation to his voice, and it bled into way the muscles of his shoulders tensed as he inclined forward.

    Whether she chose to remain or not, the boy extended one rope scarred wrist, and reached for the glass at his side. His fingers were still trembling as they claimed it, and the contents were drained much too hastily. The boy swallowed hard, cringing slightly at the brandy’s strength. “Much better than wine,” he rasped, catching a slither of it with the back of his hand before it escaped the corner of his mouth. He glanced up at the girl, his lips curving into a tired, soft smile.

    “Do you drink?” The boy extended the glass in her direction. It was a force of habit, the extinct of an urchin to share whatever he had, regardless of where it had come from. The youth lifted the cigarette back to his lips once more, before setting the smouldering end upon the tray to free his other hand. He then reached for the grapes, rolling one thoughtfully between his fingers as he studied her.  “Will you sit for a moment with me?”
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Wed May 04, 2016 5:40 pm

    Colombe watched the boy pick at his bandages with the utter lack of self-consciousness that marked someone who was not accustomed to being watched in turn. Her lips were pursed as though in thought, her nose wrinkled at the bitter smoke. She shot an apprehensive glance at the closed door but whatever her worries, she kept them to herself.

    The unwrapping of his wounds affected a profound change over her. Her dark eyes widened until they seemed too large for her face and her breath left her in a soft gasp at the sight of the bruise that stained his throat. Her pale hand covered her mouth. It did not remain long before falling to her own smooth neck which she stroked nervously with fingers marked with a quaver. Her eyes were like dark mirrors as they lingered with quiet horror on the scores left by her master’s teeth.

    She broke away to leave with her hands balled into fists at her sides but the boy’s plea stopped her short. Her thin lips drew tight with displeasure but she stayed to watch him drink deep from the proffered glass. She bowed her head, once, in a brusque nod of acknowledgement at his enjoyment but remained silent, uneasy energy still evident in her soft sway.

    The lamps burned bright thanks to her tending and they banished much of the shadows from the room. Where the light struck her dark hair it glinted a dull red that was reflected in the edges of her eyes. It was not mouse-brown at all but a deceptively dusky auburn that one imagined had the potential to glow like burnished copper if properly cared for.

    When Fabien inquired if she drank the girl emphatically shook her head, recoiling from the offered glass as though it were serpent venom. Her fingers were nervous again as they worried the fabric of her dress but her eyes as she shot another look at the door were hard. They stayed that way when they returned to the boy and they watched him pinch his cigarette between his fingers with a look that bordered on contempt.

    However, when asked if she would sit she took a step nearer. She flitted anxiously near the side of the bed as though struggling between two opposing forces that tore her in conflicting directions. The decision broke across her face with steely resolve and she planted herself firmly next to the bed.

    She did not sit, and she had angled herself to be just out of arm’s reach of the bedridden urchin. But she stayed, impassive in her silence, and held up one thin finger as though to say ‘just one moment’.
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Fabien on Thu May 05, 2016 7:26 am

    When Colombe indicated that she would stay, the boy’s features began to slowly soften  with relief. He nodded his head in acknowledgement, and slipped the grape he had been toying with between his teeth. It was devoured quickly, without time spared to taste it upon his tongue.  Then with much wincing and groaning, he began to readjust his position against the back of the bed.

    The girl’s reaction to his wound had not failed to escape the urchin's attention. His raised his tired, darkly ringed eyes and searched her expression, examined the dark depths of her eyes. “It is very bad?” He murmured nervously, pressing his fingers into the muscles of his shoulder. “It feels very bad.”The trembling in his fingers had subsided somewhat, though beneath the sheet’s the boys legs could still be seen faintly quivering. He attempted to alleviate his terror by reaching for another hasty mouthful of the soothing spirit.

    “Will he do-...“The question was left incomplete, bitten off against his lips before he could fully form it.  “Mon Dieu, that I would have been better in the brothel after all he has said.” It was spoken breathily, his throat tight with unhappiness.

    Soon after the boy lapsed into quiet once again, his eyes hard and unblinking upon the girl as he attempted to control the awful waves of panic that burned through him. His muscles were tense, the tendons of his neck tight under the flesh. It was clear that even despite his evident lack of strength, everything in his body was still urging him to rise, to bolt through the door and attempt to flee this wretched house.

    When he had managed to calm himself anew, he plucked gently at the shirt with its blood tarnished collar. “He said... that these are your brother’s clothes?” The boy lowered his eyes back to his lap, where the silver case remained glinting softly in the warm light. He opened the hinged lid once more, and slipped his fingers over the contents before extracting a single slender cigarette. It was not lit, only smoothed lightly between the urchin’s fingers before he replaced it. He continued to turn the silver case over and over in his fingers, before finally it was raised and held up before her. “Was this his room?”

    Now it was the urchin’s turn to glance anxiously towards the door, half anticipating an interruption. His voice softened to just above a whisper.

    Does he not let you speak?
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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

    Post  Tariq on Mon May 09, 2016 3:19 pm

    Colombe lingered at the side of the bed, nervous energy clinging to her like the static before a storm and preventing her from remaining too still. Her hands were flighty, her eyes alighting on each of Fabien’s features in turn before darting away again.

    She did not answer his question about the severity of his wounds immediately. The inquiry elicited a brief look of guilt to flash over her face and she shook her head softly. She dragged her hand down from her neck and across her shoulder, her fingers trailing in a deliberate sweeping gesture as though to suggest the dark bloom of bruises had spread since she had bandaged the injury.

    The girl inclined her head as though a question rested insistent on her tongue but was interrupted by the boy’s unhappy assertion and she examined him with new interest after this revelation as to his origins. Her gaze flittered along the burns that marred his wrists and the angry marks of abuse that stained his skin.

    For the first time, something akin to pity softened her features.

    It was swiftly swept away by his new question and replaced by the look of blank distaste he was doubtless growing familiar with. She fixed him with a probing stare as though she were trying to pierce the very walls of his heart. Her scrutiny was drawn inexorably to the rusted stain of blood that stiffened his collar but her gaze skimmed from it uneasily. She nodded stiffly and turned her dark eyes away. They were drawn back by the cigarette case in his hand and she regarded it softly.

    The girl turned and gestured around the room, gathering it all in her motion before indicating the case and, with a soft shudder, the bloodied clothes he wore. She bobbed her head to confirm his assessment and took a step forward as though to reach for the cigarette case glinting within his hand. She hesitated and seemed to think better of it, clasping her hands together before her instead.

    It was his final whisper that quelled the restless energy that haunted her. She became still as stone, her eyes darkening into yawning graves.

    A moment passed, then another, in perfect silence. She seemed loath to move as though the slightest stirring would dig his question painfully into her skin, each word sharp as the teeth of a beast.

    When she did return to action, her movements were slow and stiff as though they encouraged some unknown hurt to bleed poison into her limbs. She raised a pale finger and pointed it at the boy’s heart and then at the door before drawing it purposely across her smooth throat. It quivered as she held it to her lips, her eyes deep and dark and drowning in profound grief.

    It was the last he would get from her today. With this cryptic gesture she turned and left, obediently turning the key in the lock behind her with a despairing crunch of metal. Evidently his one moment was up.

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    Re: ** Interlude I - Instead, austere and corpse-white

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      Current date/time is Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:51 pm