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


    ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Share
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:16 pm

    It would certainly be strange, after the misery of navigating in gloom so thick it threatened to choke the air from one’s throat, to awaken in a room brimming with light. While the rest of the house squatted below in the artificial night imposed by the drawn shutters and closed drapes, the attic room was bathed in the thin, warm light of late afternoon. It illuminated golden motes of swirling dust as it streamed in through the windows. The warm air brought with it the cries of birds and the dim ruckus of city life as people called to each other and hailed clattering hansoms far below.

    The owner of the small room was gone, and her bed empty. The bed linens had been messily turned down in anticipation of another fatigued night. A white shift, muddied about the sleeves with earth, hung limply from one corner of the bed. The reminder as to the events of last night was as subdued and as pale as a ghost.

    In the light of day, the objects on the walls erupted in a menagerie of colour that the night had leeched from them. They largely consisted of clothes - stiff whalebone stays, plaited dresses in indigo, and crimson shawls – not the drab, utilitarian clothes of a housekeeper, but the lively attire of a young woman of means. They were hung neatly on the walls more in the fashion of art rather than apparel, sometimes in stacks of two or three as though they had been pilfered from a proper closet to be stored here. Here and there a glint of gold and gemmed jewelry peeked through the clutter of fabric.

    A section of flat wall was bare of ruffles and lace. Instead, scraps of paper in various sizes had been fastidiously tacked there. Some were old enough for the edges to have begun curling inward. Upon closer inspection, they were revealed to be pencil sketches drawn in a competent hand. The earliest varied in subject matter – here a shadowy skyline silhouetted by the sun, there a passable representation of a young man with dark hair frowning at the book in his hand – although they lingered on a tabby cat who was depicted in every manner of sitting, stalking, and sleeping feline activity imaginable.

    The later pictures, evinced from the crisp newness of their lines, were mostly words written in a neat, educated hand, interposed with small roughs that were difficult to make out without context. In a gap between words a hand lay with fingers curled over a dark pool like spilt ink; on the margins of one page a human mouth bristled with inhuman teeth. The stretched body of Jesus Christ wracked in agony upon the cross occupied the entire center of one, the shine of his skin betraying the crucifix that must have been the reference.

    The mouth-wateringly sweet smell of roasted sugar and the earthy fragrance of strong, dark tea wafted up from the kitchen below. It was accompanied by the clinking of dishes and, faintly, the unmistakably deep murmur of the master of the house. It was impossible to discern what was being said in the one-sided discussion, although his tone sounded relaxed, perhaps even amiable. His voice rose in a question and he paused as though to let it be answered. This too, was bound to be strange – how the cadence of his conversation followed the predictable rhythm of a back-and-forth despite the silent gaps which the girl did not fill.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:11 pm

    He had been too exhausted to dream. Or at least, his sleep was not disturbed by painful visions, by unhappy fragments pieced miserably together to torment him. If he had spoken, or cried out in the night, he was blissfully unaware of it. Instead, he had spent hours submerged in an exquisite blanket of nothingness.

    The boy awoke sluggish and disorientated, his body still deliciously weak. Initially he believed himself back at home, curled up safely in the nest he had helped build in the slums. He stirred slowly, streaks of sunlight illuminating his wan skin and the dusty gold of his hair. The boy stretched luxuriously, and loosened a yawn from deep within his chest. His lantern had spent the night nestled at his side, tucked possessively against his ribs.

    He blinked lazily against the light, his dark eyes searching the walls as he fought to recollect how he had come to be in such a place. But before he let himself remember, he was drawn to the source of that brightness. With aching joints and soft groans spilling from his lips, the boy put his limbs in order and raised his young body up. He shuffled towards the window with its cracked pane, and closed his eyes as he allowed the warmth to seep into his bones. When he opened them, he could just make out the spires and silvery tiled roofs of his city, the trees caressed by the soot drenched breeze.

    He sucked air sharply between his teeth, and every part of his body began to ache with hunger.

    The youth sighed and rubbed at his bruised eyelid with two fingers, turning aside to reconsider the room. When he realised he was completely alone, the boy immediately began to pry. He edged towards the walls, his head angled with animal-like curiosity. Soon his fingertips were skimming over the folds of material, or were caught between a thumb and forefinger. They were as fine as any he had seen on the wealthy ladies he had often attracted on the street. The boy’s brow pinched, and he grew solemn and thoughtful. He continued to sift his fingers through her possessions, plucking and inspecting glimmering trinkets like a jewel-eyed magpie.

    He might have poured over them longer, if he were not so easily distracted. The boy curled his conjurer’s fingers back against his palms as his attention moved toward the girl’s sketches. With head still at a gentle tilt, he reached for these next. The boy’s lips parted, and he traced the edge of a curving feline ear with a finger, his lips twitching into a slow, fond smile. It looked for a moment as if something had suddenly begun to warm inside him.

    The urchin remained there for some time, his storm cloud eyes moved from image to image, soaking up each detail with a breathless interest. He lingered in particular on the monstrously toothed mouth, the curled fingers.

    Althought he had tried to ignore it, the sweet scents filling the room from the kitchen below had not eluded him. The boy's hand found the hollow beneath his ribs and pressed firmly, as though he sought to alleviate the groaning in the pit of his stomach. But he was so reluctant to leave, to abandon this little well of light. The thought of having to descend into the gloom of the house made his bones feel heavy.

    Still, if the lure of food was not strong enough to entice him, the sound of his host’s voice was. Unable to fight his curiosity, Fabien slipped cat-like from the room with a perfect quiet ease. He retraced his steps along the narrow corridor, and lingered like a thief by the doorway to the kitchen. He had no intention of remaining there for long, just enough to steal a little of his conversation.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:17 pm

    The vampire’s low voice became more distinct as the boy neared the pantry that was the humble exit to his hiding place. He spoke clearly, each word precise and deliberate in his dry serpent’s-hiss.

    "- I will, of course. I do not know that it is necessary but if it will help him, it is yours."

    There was a dull thud and a rattling of silverware as though a heavy tray had been set on the table. The girl did not respond and her host, unperturbed by her silence, continued after a moment’s contemplation.

    “And I am going to double – ah, let us say triple - the food budget for the week. I know you are content to starve yourself in favour of your vain witchcraft but he will not know a moment’s hunger unless I instruct it. Comprenez-vous? The frost approaches and I want there to be plenty. Threefold should suffice for the both of you.”

    Without missing a beat he raised his voice and called, "Good morning, Fabien."

    Should the boy take his cue to enter, he would likely be pleased to discover he did not step into darkness. The hearth fire had been kindled and the room was lit by its cheerful flicker. Even the areas stained with shadow were brighter in the day.

    Colombe was busy finalizing the preparations for the meal but she glanced up at his approach. Her face was a carefully composed mask of neutral displeasure but the hard set of her mouth softened when she saw him. She scanned him quickly with her dark eyes before returning to her task.

    The table had been set for two and it was clear the master of the house would not be joining their meal. He haunted the doorway, his long spine braced languidly on the inner wood frame, and showed little inclination to stir. Both palms rested on the head of his staff that bore most of his weight. His hair was undone and fell to his waist in loose curls. In the light of the fire it had the same ghostly pallor as his sightless eyes. His gaze was vague and unfocused and did not shift when the urchin entered.

    A silver serving tray heaped with food waited on the table. From its center rose a mound of steaming pears. Their dark golden flesh gleamed with the honeyed cinnamon that trickled in amber globules into their hollow navels. They filled the kitchen with the scent of cloves and roasted sugar. The tray also offered soft white bread and an accompaniment of yellow butter for the inspection of eager fingers. A decanter of blood-red wine and the gleaming teapot that Colombe set before the empty plates completed the setting.

    The girl carefully poured two cups of the hot, dark tea and forked a gracious portion of fruit and bread onto one plate before sitting down before the empty plate to acquire her own helping. The boy was left to seat himself.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:45 pm

    Fabien crept closer to the door, his bare feet softly scraping over the wooden boards. He grew still, half bathed in light which bled through the crack in the doorframe and gilded his body in a single strip of gold. As he listened to the vampire speak, the youth’s brow furrowed in apprehension. And soon he began to worry the flesh of his lower lip between his teeth, his muscles tense and fingers clenched at his sides.

    When he heard the vampire speak his name, the boy’s heart leapt into his throat, and the fine hairs on the back of his arms rose. His fingers fumbled for the door handled, and he made a hastily awkward entry into the room.

    “Good morning, Monsieur” the urchin replied after softly clearing his throat. He lifted a hand to the back of his neck, and slowly caressed the muscles of his shoulder.

    “I hope I did not-“ the boy trailed off as his storm grey eyes alighted upon the food Colombe had prepared. The boy took a sharp step forward, as though his body were compelled to do so. His eyes grew bright, transforming his expression into a look of quiet wonder. It was as though the girl had casually heaped a gleaming pile of treasure before him.

    “-Sleep in too late?” He murmured distractedly.

    The boy took another step closer, his feline eyes following the girl’s movements. His attention flitted from wine, to bread, to pears.“Mon Dieu... qu'est-ce que c'est? ” He exclaimed breathily.

    Quite suddenly, every part of his young body appeared pinched with hunger. His weight  began to shift from foot to foot, until his manner seemed that of a half-pacing bony mongrel sniffing for scraps. Even his shoulders appeared suddenly hunched and sharp beneath his gifted clothes.  When the Colombe prepared a plate for him, the boy’s body almost veered forward against of its own accord. But despite the clear invitation to be seated, to eat, he hesitated and turned his sharp eyes toward his host.

    I can have this?” He rasped softly, as though it were a trick, or a test of some sort. It was the voice of desperate poverty, of one who had become painfully familiar with having things ripped tauntingly from him.

    It was only after awaiting some indication from the vampire that he proceeded, and slipped into a chair before the table. He immediately seated himself in his usual manner, one leg tucked beneath him, and hastily seized the plate so that he might inspect its contents closely. The skin of the sweetened pear was prodded and probed with a fingertip, before it was almost torturously claimed and lifted to his lips. As the boy sunk his teeth into the skin of the rich fruit, a shudder of delight coursed down through his body. From that initial bite into that succulent skin, the urchin’s hunger turned fiercely aggressive.

    The urchin was no easy table guest at the best of times, and it wasn’t long before rivers of sticky sweet sap were coursing over his chin. He ate with such unrestrained relish, and savoured every mouthful as though he might never see a second. It did not take him long to devour his food, and he was left lapping the sugared juices from the curve of his narrow wrist, the dip of his palm and lean thumb. There was such a grotesque pity in it. The boy ate like one condemned to the gaol, some miserable fiend enjoying their last feast. And subtle though it was, his fingers had been trembling as he tore through chunks of over-generously buttered bread. When he had finished, not so much as a single breadcrumb remained.  

    It was only the tea that he wholly avoided. And he eyed it warily, as though he wasn’t sure how he should drink it. That he might mess it up somehow, and seem foolish.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:44 pm

    Tariq’s blighted eyes did not turn to follow the boy’s arrival. There was something nearly feline in the way his languid gaze remained focused on nothing in particular, as though he were quietly observing the bob and sway of specters who refused to unveil for his company’s flawed vision.

    Non,” he said in response to Fabien’s distracted question. A rasp of humour raked over the word. “You are just in time.”

    If he had more to say, it was cut short by the boy’s gasped exclamation. Colombe turned her head to pierce him with a look of sharp consternation, her brow pinched as though she suspected she were being mocked. However the tension in her features unknitted as she gauged his wonder to be genuine. She inspected him with her great liquid eyes and pensively chewed the inside of her cheek as she finished preparing his plate.

    The layer of awe that varnished the boy’s hesitant question seemed to pull at the breath in the vampire’s chest. When he turned his head, the scar at his throat caught the light and shone like silver thread. “It is all yours,” he confirmed. His white teeth showed in his answer. “Of course. Have as much as you wish.”

    With this permission bestowed he lapsed back into silent contemplation to allow his guest to eat. The girl paused in her own enthusiastic consumption, her fork still poised over her plate, to watch the boy’s savage delight in growing perplexity. Once his gaze had nervously flit over the teacup a few times she seemed to draw some conclusion and half-rose from her seat to tip the wine into his empty glass. The gesture was not performed as an act of obligation from a servant; the look of quiet curiosity she wore as she returned the decanter to the table and resumed her meal belayed as much. Her dark eyes remained inquisitively on him as she ate.

    The sash that the master of the house had worn on the night he had taken his guest’s blood had returned, slung across his waist in a blaze of scarlet. It was an unusual dash of turquerie amid his otherwise somber attire and the flicker of the fire drew out the vivid red of it as he leaned forward to tap his staff on the end of the table and remark under his breath to Colombe, “Oui, triple, je pense.” Otherwise, he did not disturb the boy’s voracious display. It was only when he began lapping at his hands with his tongue that he spoke.

    “I hope you slept well.” There was a soft insinuation in the remark which he allowed to linger a moment in the sweet, cinnamon-scented air before he continued softly, “My dove tells me you did not stray far from where I had left you.”
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:33 pm

    Fabien was so engrossed, so entirely enthralled by his food that he did not notice Colombe’s eyes upon him. He did not see the way her expression changed, or how she watched him eat with such interest. It was only when moved closer to fill his glass, that his gaze rose and his grey eyes were drawn towards her.

    After catching her eye the boy’s features grew luminous, and he offered her a crooked grin full of warm appreciation. He remained oblivious to her curiosity.

    The tea, still untouched, was left to cool at his side. The wine however, was eagerly claimed by the urchin’s bony fingers. He drank deeply, so deeply it was as if he had thirsted for weeks. He drank like one who had wandered through some arid desert, and had finally come upon the fresh taste of water. The muscles of his throat bobbed as he swallowed hungrily, and did not pause even to steal a single breath of air. Though it was finer than any wine that had ever touched his tongue, he had not been taught how to savour. It was devoured as greedily as every last scrap of food that had touched his plate.

    When his host spoke, he immediately had the boy’s attention. He straightened a little, and slipped the back of his hand over his lips as his eyes roved over the vampire. He lingered a moment or so upon the band of colour about his waist.

    “Oui Monsieur, very good. I-” The youth began, and then his breath pinched at the back of his throat and he grew quiet. It seemed he had more to say, but it was snapped away in a click of the teeth.

    One of the urchin’s hands snaked beneath the table, and eased under his shirt to press against his painfully satisfied stomach. His body had not yet grown accustomed to fullness, and the speed in which he devoured those pears had done little to aid the transition. The sensation was strange, both pleasing and nauseating at once. Still, his skin had been livened with a little colour, full of a warm flush for the first time in days.

    “Ah, non, I couldn’t- ... I mean, I do not know my way around so well.”

    His fingers caught the base of his glass, and the boy began to rotate it slowly upon the table. His leg jostled beneath the table, and an aura of contentment seemed to engulf him. Despite the past sorrows he had recently endured, it seemed good food and drink could lift even the lowest of spirits.

    “In the dark especially.” He added softly, and allowed his spine to sink more comfortably against the back of his chair.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:10 pm

    Colombe returned the boy’s smile with closed lips. Her mute curiosity had not yet been quenched and she watched him voraciously guzzle the wine she had poured with the same pensive interest. She had a way of observing a person with downcast eyes, peering up through her dark lashes, that was nearly successful in looking unintended. When the vampire asked his veiled question she dropped her gaze to her own plate where it remained as she chewed on a slippery bit of gleaming pear skin that still steamed.

    Oui,” the master of the house said evenly. “So I am told.” He straightened to his full height, the end of the thin cane in his hand finding the floor with a soft tap. He folded one hand over the other and lightly rested his weight on it. “I was remiss not to acquaint you with this place.”

    He stepped more fully into the kitchen, the light of the hearth enlivening the clay of his skin with rich colour. The room was warm and fragrant with the fire’s cheerful crackle. Colombe, who had been spooning more sugar than was necessary into her teacup, hesitated at his approach and guiltily returned the spoon to the saucer. Her eyes did not meet his blind gaze.

    “Would you care to join me for a walk, Fabien?” The dark band of wrist exposed in his gesture bore the silver filigree of scars. His tone was casual but his flat gaze was attentive as it roamed near his guest without quite alighting on him. The girl sipped her no doubt syrupy tea in silence.

    “There are chambers that are not open to you, but there are many more that you are welcome to. There is no reason you should not become familiar with them. Particularly,” he added after a moment’s contemplation, “If you are to be of more help than hindrance, in the dark or no.”

    His voice prickled with a faint humour as he added, “And one can imagine it will only do your stomach good to stretch your legs.”
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:39 pm

    Fabien’s storm cloud eyes continued to slowly sweep over the vampire, following the length of his cane to the white sweep of his hair. Once had begun to examine him, it was often hard to draw his eyes away. As he stared, a tension crept throughout his thin body, encouraging every muscle to grow stiff in anticipatory unease. It was not voluntary, and the youth barely noticed the change until his thigh muscles had began to ache. He then at once attempted to unclench them, to soften back into his seat.

    In the quiet moments between them, the boy’s dark eyes flicked back to Colombe.  Her hesitant movements and silent wariness softened the boy’s expression, filling his eyes with such expressive tenderness. It was gone before it could be detected, and he turned his chin to ensure she’d not catch him looking at her in such a way.

    His host’s invitation was greeted with surprise. It caused the boy’s insides to drop unpleasantly, and he almost seemed to stiffen for a moment. It made him nervous still it seemed, their being alone together. And no doubt the response he had received last time remained fresh in his thoughts. The boy began to smooth his thumb over the lip of his glass, and swallowed slowly.

    “Ah oui, I would be very grateful of that, Monsieur. I have never seen houses like this before. Like a maze at the carnival, with the mirrors.” Thankfully his voice did little to betray his nervousness, though it was far from care free. And when his host mentioned his discomfort, the boy sped him a further curious glance. He caught the flesh of his lip between his teeth, and eased his hand away from his waistband. Despite the uncomfortable thoughts that began to bloom in his mind, the urchin decided not to dwell on the comment further.

    Instead, he leapt a little too quickly into action, and swiftly found his feet. The boy drew aside from the table, sweeping his sticky, juice coated palms over the cloth that bound his legs. He dared a step or two towards the vampire, his eyes bright and full of interest.

    “We are going now then, Monsieur?”

    He was still unceremoniously sweeping the corner of his shirt between his fingers as he awaited a response.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:45 pm

    Colombe kept her gaze low but did not conceal her quiet interest in the conversation taking place in front of her. She glanced up briefly to gauge Fabien’s response to her master’s invitation but her dark gaze quickly fell again. She did not notice his surreptitious looks her way and soon busied herself in the finishing of her meal.

    Tariq’s cool composure was a stark contrast to her nervous energy. He regarded his guest with pale eyes that did not quite find his own. His ripple of laughter at the boy’s comparison was low and rough.

    “It is not so confounding as all that,” he assured him. “Once you are accustomed. Yes, let us go now if you are finished eating.” He indicated with a wave of his hand and should the boy take the cue and approach he would quickly find a hand clasped familiarly over his shoulder with a power that brokered little room for argument.

    “We will begin upstairs,” his host said, ushering him out by the shoulder. Colombe was left alone in the fragrant den of the warm kitchen, a state that did not much seem to perturb her as her former company disappeared from view. “We will have to retrace our steps regardless, and it is where you are most familiar.”

    They exited from the same door the vampire had disappeared through on the previous night. It soon led to the entry. The front door seemed to glow with the light seeping through the cracks around the hinges. It was, as always, firmly shut.

    “The main entrance, which you passed through on your first night here,” the vampire remarked as they passed. “There are others, but it is the most often used since it leads to the road.”

    To reach the stairs they had to enter a room that might be called a parlour. The windows here were more firmly barred against the sun and it lay in quiet gloom. A grand sofa dominated the center of the room, with small table and chairs scattered like sleeping animals in the shadows. There was something mournful about the cheery paintings on the walls left neglected to darken and the silver fixtures cloudy with tarnish.  

    The large bay window midway up the gently winding staircase had the curtains drawn, but they were so thin as to allow the dying afternoon light to illuminate the landing in a dusty gold. Tariq paused here and relinquished his grasp on the boy’s shoulder.

    “I am sure it offers quite a view…” he trailed off for a moment as though to consider what the window faced before picking up again. “Of the courtyard. Although perhaps it is blocked by the trees.”

    The vampire’s calculation proved correct, should the boy take the hint and draw back the curtain to glimpse the outside. The scant leaves that the skeletal trees had retained partially obscured the view, but the seating area in the stone courtyard was clearly visible. Plants that had once been green were now brown and brittle with autumn. Further, past the short fence that bordered in the last of the four walls that the house did not enclose, were cramped buildings whose function were impossible to guess. Above them, to the left, a door on the story above opened up to a small balcony. It was a pleasant plaza that would no doubt be luxuriously lovely in spring when the unruly clumps of flowers stirred to life.

    The master of the house skulked on the stairwell just outside the sharp knife of golden light. After a moment to allow his guest take in the view, he said softly, “I do not care for the light. It is tolerable, but a nuisance. Allons viens.”

    They continued up the stairs. The room that met them was small and thinly furnished. Two armchairs large enough to sleep in flanked a modest table. An unlit fireplace occupied the far wall. To either side of the room were two corridors and the vampire gestured to the right without turning his head.

    “That way leads to the next floor,” he said. “But it is a strain for one person to maintain so much, and it is unused save for storage.”

    He stepped to the corridor to the left. They were entering territory that was no doubt becoming familiar to the stolen boy. Small, even windows lined the hall, each barred against the light by thick drapes. The vampire stopped before an arched pair of double doors at the end of the hall. The shadows dusted him in grey and sharpened the hollows of his face.

    “My chambers,” he said simply. “Which you may approach should you need me, although I am rarely there unless I am sleeping.”

    The bedroom in which the boy had been trapped faced the darkened windows. The door was ajar and the thin light of lamps that had been kindled in anticipation of his arrival cast warm pools on the floor of the hall. “And your bedroom, of course,” the vampire said, and then, abruptly, “How is your throat healing?” The question was soft but sheathed a thin edge of urgency.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:41 pm

    Fabien appeared clearly nervous as he approached the vampire. The boy’s features were tense, and agitation crackled through his limbs like that of a wild animal.  The muscles of his shoulder were firm as bone, and the heat of his skin could be felt burning from beneath his shirt. It was only when he spoke that he appeared calm, his words falsely layered with softness despite the anxious fluttering beneath his tongue.

    “Oui, Monsieur, I am ready.”

    The urchin allowed his host to guide him from the kitchen, and he did not spare a single glance over his shoulder as he withdrew. Indeed, it was only once they began to walk together that the boy seemed to relax, and forget the concerns which plagued him. In truth, he was eager for a distraction, curious to examine the spacious property and its contents. Later when he was left to his own devices, he would likely pour over every object he could, run his fingers over items he had only glanced at in expensive shop windows.

    As soon as they entered the parlour, the vampire was sure to feel the sudden pull of the boy’s body, straining under his fingertips like a dog hauling into a leash. The boy’s dark eyes drank up the vast space of the room, and he examined it from floor to ceiling. This parlour, this one single room was large enough to contain his entire family, his ken.

    “It does not look like it gets much use, Monsieur.” He commented softly, as his grey eyes fell upon the portraits, dark within their frames. The boy’s eyes lingered upon those shadowy faces, whose haunted eyes seemed to follow him sadly as he passed.

    As they began to ascend further up the stairs, and vampire’s pace began to slow, the urchin’s eyes were upon him once again. His host's words caused the boy to pause for a moment, before he stepped sharply forward to curl his fingers around the edge of the curtain and peel it aside. When he beheld the outside world, they grey sky and rooftops, boy’s expression grew soft. Soon something close to a smile was stirring the corners of his lips. He pressed his fingertips against the pane of glass, and lifted his chin as he attempted to peer through the dark branches which disrupted his view.

    “This too is part of the house, Monsieur Tariq? Outside here?” He murmured in a voice full of soft longing. He tapped upwards against the glass with the point of his nail. “And the landing up there?”

    The vampire’s words caused the boy to turn and speed the vampire a fascinated glance over the slope of his shoulder. He lowered his eyes to the shaft of light, before meeting his host’s sightless eyes.

    “Why a nuisance? Why must it be so dark?”

    It did not take long for the boy to arrive back at the vampire’s side. He kept no distance between them, but walked as closely as before. Every now and then he brushed against his host’s arm, and took a step aside as though startled. It was only when the vampire’s paused again, that the boy took a clear slight step back to bridge some space between them.

    "Merci, Monsieur, for this. I think that I will know my way a little better now.”

    His host’s question was greeted with silence as the boy contemplated his answer.

    “Ah, I do not know, I cannot see it.” The boy’s agile lock picker’s fingers moved towards his throat, and pressed into the flesh, over where the sharp points of the vampire’s teeth had punctured his skin. It felt hard there now, the skin freshly knitted over, though still faintly sore to the touch. But it was the dull ache of a deep bruise and nothing more. “It has not bothered me so much, so it must be well now, non?”

    The youth paused a second time, and gently clearing his throat as he shifted his weight from heel to heel.

    “And I’m sorry if my- if what I said, if it did not please you last night.”
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:23 pm

    Tariq’s answer to the boy’s inquiry was rough with the low, rippling growl of his laugh. “Oui,” he said agreeably. “It is all part of the house, including the buildings beyond. Enough to support ourselves, or nearly – Colombe makes occasional trips for supplies, but we would be comfortable should she be unable to fly for some time.” There was a strange false benevolence in the way he spoke of the house and its inhabitants; that of a tyrant-king speaking fondly of the lands he had conquered and the people he had quelled by force.

    He continued softly, his long eye-teeth clicking together with the unsettling snap of bone striking bone, “Although I do not know that you will find much use of the balcony, as the only entry is from my room. Perhaps in time.” The words were serpent-soft and even, but threaded through with an insinuation that was impossible to pick out save in confounding pieces.

    When Fabien asked about the perpetual gloom of the house, the vampire turned his head to examine him with the ghostly glint of his pale gaze. Where the light struck his unbound hair it flared to a glowing white that was nearly translucent. “It is unpleasant,” he said vaguely, before following it up with, “But it is not painful, not really. I do not know that you have a word for it.”

    A soot-dark bird smaller than the palm of a hand flew past the window close enough for them to hear the rapid whir of its tiny wings and the vampire’s dead eyes followed it with eerie accuracy before trailing off once more. “Like an intolerable heat, perhaps,” he said distractedly. He drew himself up. “Does the dark disturb you, Fabien?” he asked as they ascended the stairs to the next floor.

    Now, paused in the hall before their chambers, the boy’s unconvincing answer as to his health proved unendurable to his host, who bridged the gap between them in a quick step and reached for his throat with the hand not clasped around his wooden staff. His exploratory touch was warm and as efficient as any physician as he probed the healing wound. Evidently satisfied with what he found, his hand trailed to the hollow beneath his throat where the hard slash of his collarbones met. A faint tremble took his long fingers and he withdrew.

    Très bon,” he said, his voice so soft as to be a whisper. The hushed tone closed the space between them, made the narrow corridor far too intimate. “You continue to surprise me.” A flicker passed through his countenance as though he intended to continue, but instead he drew back, tapping his cane gently on the floor with a dull rap.

    He listened to the urchin’s apology with his head inclined. He was silent for some time after, overcome by that peculiar deathly stillness that fell over his form like a blanket of snow. “You are young, and bold,” he said at last, the words so soft as to force him to strain to hear them. “And your tongue does not always do as I think it ought.” He turned his pale gaze to his guest. “I imagine we will come to terms on that point one way or another.”

    The vampire gestured down the hall from where they had come. “Shall we continue back to the ground floor? There is still much to see.” He did not wait for an answer before slipping past the boy and down the stairs.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:07 pm

    Fabien had not been quick to answer, but turned the vampire’s words over in his mind like a freshly minted coin. The boy had seemed restless, unsatisfied.  It was clearly difficult for him to contemplate the way in which light could ever be a discomfort. How the sun could bring anything less than pleasure and delight.  The youth had savoured this glimpse of the outside world as if it might be his last.  His eyes had feasted upon that courtyard, before he’d begrudgingly allowed the curtain to sweep solemnly back into place.

    “Oui Monsieur, I suppose it does.” He’d murmured at the vampire’s side. “But only when it means I cannot be certain of my way. I do not mind the streets at night, in darkness, because those I would know blindfolded. ” He caught the skin of his lower lip between his teeth.  “I do not like to feel vulnerable.”

    Fabien’s fingers had moved then, creeping unconsciously towards his wrist to caress skin still monstrously vivid with red and purple blisters.

    The urchin had not startled at the vampire’s approach, perhaps because the swiftness of his movements gave little time to register his surprise. But his breath at once stilled, and the lazy throb of his pulse quickened beneath his pale skin. The boy attempted to mask his discomfort behind a veil of youthful nonchalance. He played the role of obliging patient as much as his courage would allow, and angled his skull to the side, allowing the vampire better room for inspection.

    “It must have been tended well, to heal so quickly.”He breathed, desperate to fill the air between them with words.

    When his host’s dark fingers slipped lower, the boy’s breath caught at the back of his throat. Something coiled serpent-like within him, a writhing mass of prickling fear and gnawing confusion. He did not know what to do with his hands, so they grasped at nothingness.  

    When the vampire mentioned his surprise, the boy’s dark eyes rose from beneath the careless sweep of his pale hair. “That is something we share, Monsieur.” He murmured, his voice soft, distracted. It seemed he had not intended let this stray thought slip through the cracks. And what was worse, he had not noticed the lapse either. In the same way that he had not noticed how his eyes slipped to his host’s mouth, how they lingered there in fascination. Soon he was contemplating the deadly points concealed behind the curve of his lips, recalling the strength of the vampire’s hands, the press of his lips against his throat.

    It was only when his host turned aside, that Fabien’s shook himself from his stupor.  Relief swept through his limbs like a cool breeze, and the boy released a low shuddery breath. This time he was not quick to pursue his host, but remained in the hall running his slim fingers through the golden tangle of his hair. The sudden urge for one of his cigarettes was almost intolerable, a sharp ache in his chest.

    Eventually he arrived back at the vampire’s side, willing his mind and body to compose itself.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:36 pm

    Tariq had not made it any further than the foot of the stairs when his guest had returned to his side. Neither, it seemed, had he slowed to wait for him – he had continued his descent, stately in his dark clothes, with the quiet poise of a man confident his faithful dog would reappear at his heel. His confidence proved well-placed. He did not comment on the boy’s reappearance at his elbow, but picked up the thread of their conversation without turning his head.

    “No doubt you owe some of that healing to the attentiveness of your nurse,” he said coolly. The vampire put his fingers to the small of the boy’s back to gently guide him. The pair moved away from the wing of the house that housed the kitchen and toward a corridor that the urchin might recognize in part.

    “She seems to have taken to your arrival,” he continued in his low voice. “It was certainly cordial of her to let you rest in that nest she has made for herself.” His tone was inscrutable. Their pace was a slow meander that allowed Fabien plenty of time both to take in his surroundings and mull over his host’s words. The vampire’s stride was sure and even, his pale eyes unfocused on the path his feet were treading.

    They passed an open door that revealed the innards of the room in which a corpse had so recently been stowed away. The bedroom was serene now in the quiet dark, the bed dressed in clean, fresh clothes. There was little evidence of the previous night’s excitement.

    “An unused bedroom, which you have already been acquainted with.” There was nothing of culpability in his soft voice. “There are five in all; the two upstairs, two along this hall-“ He gestured to a door across from the other. “-and Colombe’s, although it is rarely used now that she has claimed another.” There was the suggestion of rancor in his tone, as though this was a shockingly impolite breach of his hospitality.

    He opened the door at the end of the hall and they stepped into the room in which the boy had bathed on his first night. The walls were cluttered with trinkets, gleaming gold and copper in the candlelight that was necessary to illuminate the room for its lack of windows. It had clearly had another purpose initially – there were still bare patches on the floor that hinted at the shape of a desk, chairs, perhaps a cabinet or chest of drawers – but now the room was dominated by the washtub, large enough to have comfortably fit both of them, and its accoutrements of sweet soap and scattered buckets.

    “Another that you ought to recognize,” the boy’s host said as they entered. His eyes winked silver in the thin light. “Colombe draws water from the fountain once a day, sometimes more, should I require it. I expect you will make use of the bath about as often.” This had the subtle cadence of a command, although his tone remained genial.

    The vampire had not moved further from the doorway. He lingered with his back to the wall as though to grant his guest the option of further investigation. “Further is the study, and the library, and at the very end is the girl's bedroom,” he said distractedly.

    He paused before continuing and his voice when he picked up again had dropped to a hush. “I trust you have taken my words to heart and are doing nothing that could upset my dear dove, particularly after she has tended so kindly to your whims."
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:47 pm

    Fabien’s expression was luminous with wonder as they progressed. It was a palace to him, this house, with its high walls and numerous doors. He was as easy to guide as a lamb, pressed close to the vampire’s side, his eyes wide and lips just gently parted. The boy became so distracted, that he did not flinch at the vampire’s touch, or stiffen beneath his fingers.  

    “Mm? Ah, oui. She looks after me well here.” He murmured inattentively.

    Then it seemed something in his host’s speech hooked the boy’s attention, and he turned his eyes back towards the vampire to study him carefully.

    “Colombe?” The urchin rolled his narrow shoulders, dismissing the idea with a sway of his body.  “I am sure that mostly I just get in her way, a nuisance.”

    It was spoken with a flicker of boyish humour, but the boy’s grey eyes were briefly pained. It was as though he had suddenly pressed upon some raw wound within himself. It was clearly increasingly difficult for him, being uncertain of his place in this house, and cut off from his entire way of life.

    The boy paused momentarily by the door where he had left his friend’s body. He remained still a moment, his limbs tense and expression ever shadowed with unhappiness.

    “Oui. I remember.” The boy breathed.  It was almost a prayer.

    The bathroom of course was familiar, though for now it raised unpleasant memories. He could see himself there now, knelt in the water, his thin fingers tenderly pressing the dark blush of bruises upon his skin. Thankfully the vampire’s words melted through his thoughts, causing them to dissipate like mist. The mechanics of filling a bath tub were almost beyond the youth’s comprehension, and his host was immediately subjected to a flood of questions.

    “From a fountain? Then it is not bad water you have here? Must she go far?  But it must take much water to fill.”  This was entirely impossible for him to fathom – the ease of it. No collecting rain water from the windows. No bathing in the vile muddied waters of the Seine. Luxury was so painfully simple. He could have wept.

    Suddenly the boy’s manner changed. No doubt something in the vampire’s words had affected the change in him, for once again the urchin was pressing in closer to his host. He approached as slowly and  tentatively as one might a caged tiger.  

    Every day? But ... for how long?” The pitch of the boy’s voice indicated growing alarm. It was unlike him to interrupt, but he barely allowed the vampire a chance to answer before questioned him further. “You...  do not think I am ill, do you Monsieur?” The sense of growing perplexity, of rising fear in his voice was almost palpable.  “I do not feel unwell.” He lifted his fingers to his brow, the hollow curve of his gaunt cheek.

    At the further mention of Colombe, the boy lapsed into silence, but his dark eyes lingered.  After awhile, he cleared his throat softly, and proceeded to question the vampire once more.

    “Je suis desolé but... I don’t think I fully understand Monsieur. Upset her how?”

    His voice was soft, no longer full of youthful awe, now his words were measured and slow. In the soft light, the urchin’s eyes were almost fox-like, the pale grey not unlike the slate roofs of his city.  With a frown just pinching at his brow, he looked like frustrated child persistently trying to solve a puzzle.

    “I have not been unkind to her, I don’t think.”
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:59 pm

    Tariq remained silent in his place by the door, seemingly undisturbed by the growing alarm in Fabien’s voice. His pale gaze, hollow though it was, seemed to scour the boy as he spoke. At his fearful question, the vampire laughed his low, deep laugh. His teeth flashed white in his mouth.

    Non,” he said, his voice flush with warmth. “You are as healthy as one could hope for.” He stepped forward and rested his hand on the edge of the sturdy tub. The squat beast resonated under his touch like a living creature.

    “There is a well beneath the house that the fountain -  I suppose you could not see it from the window, it is a bit beyond the courtyard – draws from. It is good, clean water. Pipes-“ He etched a gesture with his hand that seemed to indicate a kind of square on one side of the room. “—bring it to the house. All that needs to be done is to heat it and carry it to the tub.” He paused as though to be sure his explanation was clear. “There is a similar arrangement in the kitchen, although it is typically easier to store it for short periods than to draw it continuously. You will become acquainted with it soon enough.”

    The mirth in his tone when he addressed the urchin’s concerns was not unkind. “Non, tu n'êtes pas malade. It is for my peace of mind; consider it a rule of the house. You do not need to soak in the tub every day, if you would prefer, but I expect you to wash. There are cloths and soap that you may use.”

    The vampire cocked his head calculatingly. The white of his hazy eyes was unfocused. “It will take you time to remember, j'imagine, so I will inform Colombe that you are not to eat dinner until you have informed her or myself that you have washed for the day. Comprends-tu? Simple enough.”

    His host seemed to sober at the mention of the girl. He fell still.  When he spoke, he chose his words carefully. “Yes,” he said softly. “I would not suggest being unkind to her.”

    He turned to face his guest and his eyes sought him without quite finding him. “The girl is mine,” he said delicately. “It is good that she enjoys your company, but see to it that you do not… complicate her service to me.”

    He lapsed into silence. His fingers tapped on the copper rim of the tub contemplatively.

    “Learn from her,” he said at last. His teeth clicked together in his mouth when he spoke. “Continue to treat her with the same care you would anything of mine. But remember that she has lost much, and has gained myself as her guardian in return. I am her topmost priority. There is much I would prefer not to have to take from either of you. Do I make myself clear?” The question seemed to hang in the air with a ponderous gravity.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:14 pm

    Fabien felt colour burn into his cheeks at the vampire’s mirth, and his fingers moved to caress the back of his neck. The boy met his host’s gaze briefly, before he turned his head aside as though he had been made awkward by the inspection. Embarrassed or not, the vampire’s answer had quickly soothed the boy’s concern. His dark eyes trailed from the bath tub over to the where his host indicated.

    “Pipes,” he repeated quietly, testing the word upon his tongue. If he understood the mechanics of this system, he gave no indication. Nor did he press the vampire any further on it. Some things, it seemed, were beyond his comprehension.

    “You said this house was not like those at the carnival, but I do not believe it.”

    The boy grew quite still as he listened to the vampire speak. His expression remained uncertain, the space between his dark brows furrowed in confusion. “This... is a strange thing, Monsieur.” He murmured beneath his breath, his fingers stirring back towards the nape of his thin neck.

    The vampire’s next instruction was met with some resistance. The boy suddenly stiffened, his back grew straighter, and the muscles of his jaw tensed. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, a swaying motion like that of a wild creature kept too long in confinement. He clearly wanted to object, to protest this order. It was clear from every movement of his body, from every sharp breath that shivered past his teeth.

    “If that is what you wish” the youth replied, his voice easily betraying his displeasure. Though the boy’s expression remained sullen, he was attentive still to the vampire’s words. After a while, he attempted to meet his host’s gaze one more.

    “Oui, I think so.” He said softly, his features half concealed beneath the tangle of his hair. In truth, so little of what the vampire had said made sense, not in any way he could grasp. Not in any language he spoke or understood. “I would not want to do anything which displeases you, Monsieur.”

    The boy felt then a pinch of regret as the weight of the vampire’s words settled upon him. The thought of maintaining a safe distance from his new companion; and of having to return to that room alone, was almost too much to bear. He questioned his host no more, but lapsed into a sombre, thoughtful silence.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:57 pm

    Tariq’s hazy eyes lingered on the boy. They were impossible to read, as bleached of emotion as the empty eye-sockets of a skull picked clean. Fabien’s answer kindled a light behind them, and a tension perceptibly lifted from the vampire’s posture.

    “Excellent,” he said, the word as crisp as a paper crane in his mouth. “An admirable goal. Let us continue.” He gestured with the hand that held his cane to the only remaining exit, his concerns evidently alleviated.

    As they walked so closely together, it was a good opportunity to observe the unusual idiosyncrasy with which the vampire wielded his walking stick. It was regularly used as a cane, held straight down beneath his enclosed palm, neatly supporting his weight as he moved. It lent him a fluid poise.

    However, with an easy shift of the wrist, he swept it in a tight arc before him, the outside edges tapping briefly on the floor. It was an elegant system. The friction in his muscles as he tapped his way forward substituted for the complex eye he lacked. The weight of it was clearly familiar in his hand, and he shifted it with an unconscious grace as though it were merely an extension of his hand.

    The pair continued as though to pass a room to their left but the vampire paused and, after a moment’s reflection, opened the door. If the boy were observant, he might notice how his host’s hand trailed along the wall at the appropriate height before locating the doorknob; a surreptitious cover for his lack of sight that was smooth enough that it might make the young conjuror envious of his sleight of hand.

    The door opened up to a room with shelf-lined walls on which a modest collection of heavy books rested. Dark leathers dyed in all manner of greens and reds and golds breathed their dusty fragrance into the air. Although the titles would not be legible to him, their size and gravity gave them the appearance of atlases, law books, transaction records; the collection of a businessman. From the hall could be glimpsed a high-backed chair silhouetted by a large window.

    “The library,” Tariq said simply, allowing the boy a glance inside before moving on. Should the urchin have any sense of direction he would soon grasp that the house was built in a half-circle around the central courtyard he had spied from the window. The East side held the kitchen and Colombe’s preferred sleeping quarters, and the West the bathing room and above it, the vampire’s bedroom. The front door was very nearly in the middle.

    The further they went along this corridor, the brighter it became. Tariq quietly noted the door to Colombe’s room but did not offer to approach it. Very soon after they came to a glass door through which the golden light of late afternoon shone in streaks.

    “That is nearly everything of note,” the vampire said. “Save a few rooms that you can explore at your leisure.” He rested his hand on the handle of the door. “I thought you might like to see the courtyard for yourself?” There was a playful lilt to his tone. He did not open the door until he had confirmation and then the two of them stepped out into the enclosed courtyard where a gentle breeze tugged at their hair.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:24 pm

    The sun had slipped below the silhouette of the house and the late afternoon light had dwindled to a wan yellow. The chill stalked close behind the onset of evening. A gust of cool wind slipped beneath their clothes in its best attempt to coax the pair’s flesh to pebble.

    The courtyard was serene in the dying light. Overshadowed as it was on three sides by the house, the air smelled pleasantly of damp soil. Ivy crept in green tendrils up the side of the brickwork. The final side of the courtyard was enclosed by a large metal fence with bars close enough together that not even Fabien’s slim body could pass between them. A padlock hung from the gate.

    From the center of the courtyard rose the supple branches of a hawthorn tree, bristling with the dry husks of the berries that hadn’t yet fallen or been plucked by hungry birds. A set of benches rested on either side of the tree and a couple of chairs clustered around a small pit blackened with soot. Otherwise, one looking to take a seat would have to make do with the large, rough stones scattered along the edges. A variety of plants - some in planters, some left to grow as they pleased, all brown and brittle in autumn’s grasp – filled in the empty spaces. No doubt it was a lush retreat when spring returned to fatten their stems with green.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:07 pm

    Fabien had become quiet and subdued at the vampire’s side, his grey eyes downcast and hidden beneath strands of erratically curling hair. The boy no longer eagerly scanned the walls and doorways, but watched his host’s movements in thoughtful, fascinated silence. The urchin had never seen another move in such a way, with such precision and certainty. He had shared his life with dancers who moved like they were beneath water, and the most nimble-fingered of thieves. But none moved the way the vampire did. It was easy to forget his host was blind.

    He pondered how he had overlooked it during their first meeting, how he had thought to steal from such a creature.

    The boy was startled from his thoughtful stupor by the vampire’s voice. He directed his attention towards the library door, and managed to steal a brief view of the books and their gilt spines. But it was only when they reached the entrance to the courtyard that the boy’s eyes brightened, and his interest was restored. The suggestion that they go outside immediately livened his spirit, and he stepped forward so eagerly that his arm brushed against the vampire’s side.

    “Can we?”  The boy almost pleaded breathily, attempting to look beyond the glass. “I would like that, Monsieur.”

    When his host opened the door, the youth slipped into the courtyard as happily as a foxhound on the scent. He at once broke away from the vampire’s side, his thin limbs stirring with youthful enthusiasm. For a moment it seemed he might continue to speed across the courtyard, to clamber over the gate and steal away. But he paused in the centre near the hawthorn tree, drinking mouthfuls of fresh air deep into his lungs. He turned once in a small circle, peering up the walls to the dark windows of the house. Then the boy closed his eyes, feeling last glint of waning light catching upon his skin and hair. When his eyes reopened, they were luminous with joy.

    Despite his evident pleasure, it wasn’t long before cold began to seep into the urchin’s flesh, causing his bare toes to curl upon the ground.

    “It is cold still. I had forgotten.” He murmured, curling a hand into the thin fabric of his shirt to pull it tight against his skin.  His expression suddenly grew grave, affected, like a shadow passing over clear water. He felt a pang within him, which bloomed into ache of guilt and a wave of almost overwhelming sadness. Like you have forgotten them, he thought. Out there, somewhere on the streets, still fighting without you.

    The boy quickly sought to distract himself from such thoughts, and moved back towards his host. “Does being in this light displease you, Monsieur? When it is not dark out?”

    When the chill wind struck him more forcefully, the boy’s breath left his throat in a soft gasp. Like an invisible hand, the cold ushered him closer, gently encouraging him to slip back towards his host's side. Soon he was lingering just a little behind him, as though he unconsciously sought to brace from the cold. It was not unlike the way he had drawn near to the vampire when he had first guided him from that dingy brothel.

    “It is off limits out here? Or I can come here as well? It would be better...  with the smoking, you know?” His teeth were chattering as he spoke, and he hunched his bony shoulders.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:15 pm

    The sun had melted away into a froth of cream light crowning the dark silhouette of the house in a gilt of gold. Without it, the courtyard was bathed in a soft dusting of charcoal that lent it a peaceful, sleepy air. The branches of the hawthorne stirred in the gentle breeze, the cold sharpening as twilight fell.

    Tariq had settled near the doorway. He seemed, with his still limbs and easy posture, to somehow be a part of the outdoors, as natural as the ivy wending its spindly way up the brick or the sharp teeth of the thorns brittle on the dead stems of the roses. He tracked Fabien’s way across the courtyard with dead eyes.

    “It is pleasant,” he agreed about the cold, although it was impossible to tell if his misinterpretation of the boy’s statement was intentional or not. Indeed, he seemed to enjoy the chill that hissed against their skin, luxuriating in it the way others basked in the sun.

    The boy’s question provoked a dry laugh. His pale eyes glowed like the surface of a silver mirror.

    Non,” he said. “It is not so severe, now.” His sightless eyes contemplated the bloom of pink where the sun had disappeared behind the house. “The shade is enough to make it tolerable, and the chill helps.” He closed his eyes as though pondering his phrasing. “It is… ah, if you could not burn in the sun then neither can I. I am simply rather more sensitive to it. It does not wound me enough to speak against the light.” There was just enough of an awkward drag to his phrasing to suggest he was translating from another tongue.

    With his eyes still closed, he stepped closer toward the hawthorn, his cane tapping softly against the stone and his feet kicking up the dried husks of dead leaves. It was here the urchin gathered close to him to brace against the cold. The vampire reached up to a trembling twig above his head and delicately plucked a dry berry. He rolled the pebble-hard shuck pensively between two long fingers as the boy began his question. A slight shiver marked his fingers at its conclusion and he dropped the berry to the ground.

    “Oui,” he said, opening his eyes. He turned to face his guest but those eyes did not quite find his face. “You may come out here as you please. But not beyond the gate, not yet, even to assist Colombe with her tasks.” He tilted his head to the side, his white hair stirring like a ragged veil in the breeze. “And I trust you will give me no reason to confine you indoors.” It was not a question; nor was it truly a warning. There was a faint flush of praise in his tone that made it more an acknowledgement, and the concession a reward.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:31 pm

    Fabien felt time had slowed completely since he’d entered this house, especially when he was in the presence of his host.  He had barely noticed dusk sweep in around them, not until shadows had begun to collect and spread forth from the corners of the courtyard. The boy curled his fingers more tightly into his shirt, determined not to let the cold defeat him so easily.  

    After his host had spoken, the urchin lifted his head so that he might examine the length of the courtyard once more. This time, his attention lingered pointedly on the gate. It brought an image into his mind, a memory of the little cages he kept doves and song birds in. They were living props for their shows, charming, full of life and bright chatter. Some of the cages had the prettiest little doors, curling wire in intricate designs. They were beautiful, but a cage none the less.

    “I let you bring me here.” He said suddenly. Although it was little more than a whisper, the urchin still appeared startled by the sound of his voice. But this wasn’t the first time stray thoughts had so freely escaped from his mind and onto his tongue.  His eyes lowered, focusing on the berry that had slipped free from the vampire’s fingertips.

    The boy swallowed slowly, and lifted his head back towards his host. His eyes were dark now, the thick, heavy grey of a humid summer storm, penetrating in their inspection. It was as if the he were trying to see something beyond the vampire’s skin. As if there were further layers to him that would begin to peel away and reveal some other being.

    Comment ne vous ai-je pas vu?” He asked simply. The urchin did not sound frustrated, or even unhappy, merely reflective. “It is so clear to me now, the way you move, your eyes. How did I think then, that you were like me?”

    These questions were more ponderous than inquisitive, and the boy seemed not to expect his host to answer them. He began to turn from him, seeking the door and the inviting warmth of the house. It had not seemed inviting before, far from it. But the growing dark brought with it a fiercer cold, and soon the youth was shivering even more unpleasantly than before. He embraced his own arms, and sought to encourage warmth into his skin.

    “Merci, Monsieur. I think now, I would like to go inside. I should have put the clothes on in more layers.”

    They were not his clothes, not yet, and he did not refer to them as such.

    The urchin’s expression suddenly sharpened, becoming fox-like and thoughtful once more. The steadily approaching night brought with it a looming threat, the impossible darkness of that house and its halls.

    "Can I go s'il vous plait, Monsieur? I left something I need, with Colombe."
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:39 pm

    Tariq’s demeanor visibly altered at the boy’s musings. He lifted his head, and his wolfish smile revealed the terrible points of his teeth. “Yes,” he said. “You came quite willingly. But it wasn’t I who led you here, était-ce?

    He turned to more fully face the boy. “They - les gens - see what they expect to see.” His voice was soft, low enough that an interloper lingering in the doorway would have strained to hear him. Lazily, the vampire shifted the cane in his hand and held it out before him with a hesitancy that had not existed before. His spine loosened and he seemed to sag, his shoulders hunched warily. It was a subtle change but the effect was immediate; he looked weary, burdened by age, and frighteningly vulnerable.

    “If you are presented with an old man with no sight,” he said in a voice that was his own, only stripped of its purring poise and whispery with age. “You will know he is harmless. No matter the knife in his boot or the teeth in his mouth.”

    The vampire straightened, shedding the guise of frailty as though shrugging off a well-worn coat. The change was effective; there was little doubt the creature standing before him was anything but harmless. He held himself with a predator’s grace, his spine straight and his cobwebbed eyes glittering with knowledge they should not possess.

    “You know this,” he said lightly. “It is only that you were deceived that you find it surprising.” He approached the shivering boy and his hand hesitated only a moment before he gently placed it to the small of his back. His palm was cool through the thin fabric of the shirt.  

    “With muddied feet and torn shirt it is easy to play the waif, hm?” His tone was low, intimate, and rasped with affection. “Approach a stranger with a roguish smirk and dirty hands and they will put their hand to their wallet to be sure it stays in its pocket.” He pressed on the bones of Fabien’s spine to correct his posture, forcing the boy to straighten under his guiding hand. “But with fresh clothes and proper haughtiness, well. You could be an indolent noble’s son, or a young scholar that any stranger would smile to help guide around this unfamiliar city.”

    The hand at his back moved up his spine and grazed the back of his neck. It lingered here a moment too long before brushing an errant curl away from his eyes. There was something a little too acute in how he scrutinized the urchin; something breathless that seemed to suck the air away between them. This close, the flecks in his blighted eyes were like stars on the backdrop of his tawny skin.

    “Yes.” He breathed the word. “You may go.” His hand withdrew to his side. The boy was free to flee.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:40 am

    When his host began to speak, the boy turned back towards him, his eyes alight with interest. He watched the vampire carefully, trailing the length of his lean body with his feline-sharp eyes. When the subtle metamorphoses occurred, the boy’s lips twitched with pleasure.

    Then when the vampire returned to his original stance, a look of absolute delight spilled like sunlight across his features.

    C’est magnifique.” The boy breathed, his voice low, reverent.

    Perhaps he was distracted, or simply taken off guard, but the urchin did not flinch under the vampires touch. The muscles of his back tensed fiercely beneath his skin, but there was no sharp jolt of panic which pierced his heart. There was only a growing stiffness in his joints, a sense of readying in the muscles of his legs. It was the weary caution of a wild animal, eyes bright and limbs ready to spring away at the nearest flicker of threat. Despite this, the boy strove not to allow his concern to show, to force on his mask of contrived calm.

    The vampire met with no resistance, the urchin’s bony body shifted easily under his palm, was guided. It made him appear as an attentive young apprentice, willing to take instruction, to learn. The boy could not find his voice. It had stolen away somewhere, leapt down into his chest where it remained in the dark. He had not been silenced by his host before, not like this. His eyes lowered to the vampire’s mouth as he spoke, watching for the sharp, dangerous glint of his teeth.

    Fabien did not know at which point he had ceased listening to the vampire’s words. But even after he had been granted permission to leave, the boy lingered. It was as if his feet had taken root, his limbs become so still they appeared carved from supple marble. The urchin’s breath left his lips low and heavy, whilst his dark eyes continued to trail between the vampire’s lips and his gleaming eyes.

    Something within him at last seemed to thaw, and slowly the boy began to untangle from the vampire’s presence.

    “I- ... merci, Monsieur.” He mumbled, his voice tinged with soft embarrassment. His movements were ungainly, full of a youthful self-consciousness.

    The boy half-stumbled his way back towards the house, tripping over bare feet which had been made drunk and clumsy. Once he was safe inside, he continued to walk without intent, his desire to seek out the girl temporarily forgotten. He lifted a hand to rake through his hair, and his fingers were faintly trembling.

    The boy did not know whether he was relieved to depart that courtyard or not. He could still feel the places on his body where the vampire had touched him. He could sense it now, the firm weight of his palm, the light graze of his fingertips against his neck. The cold had been banished from his skin, and colour had risen in bright blots upon his pale cheeks.
    avatar
    Tariq
    Admin

    Posts : 189
    Join date : 2012-05-13

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:40 pm

    Tariq’s eyes did not follow the boy as he made his inelegant exit from the courtyard. His pale gaze lingered where he had been, on the now empty place where his hands had grazed his warm skin and coaxed it to a flush. He released a breath in a soft hiss that quivered like the dead leaves on the branches above.

    Abruptly, the vampire straightened. His stride was deliberate as he exited the courtyard. Moments later, the front door opened with a creak before closing with an audible slam. He would not be returning until the sun warmed the winding streets he haunted.

    Darkness was settling over the house, although the last gasp of twilight straining through the cracks in the curtains and the few lit lamps gave the boy just enough light to navigate by. He had chosen a fortuitous time to beg his escape; night would soon darken the corridors beyond clear recognition. The stairs leading to the girl’s cramped attic room protested the intrusion despite his midnighter’s tread.

    The room was not empty, but its inhabitant was oblivious to his approach. Colombe was straining to reach outside the window, one leg crooked to give her the furthest possible reach on her toes. Her torso filled the small window, blocking whatever she grasped for from his view.

    When she heard the steps coming up the stairs she hastily drew back in obvious alarm, fear scrawled in a messy hand across her features. In her panic, she hit the crown of her head against the solid windowframe. A dull thud reverberated through the wood and if the boy had any heart he would be apt to wince at the force of the impact.

    Instantly, she crouched on the floor, eyes squeezed shut and both arms folded over her head as though to insulate from the dizzying hurt ringing through her skull. She sucked in a hiss of pain through gritted teeth.

    Outside the window, an ash-grey tabby cat stood at attention on the raised peak of the cobbled slate roof. It flicked its bony tail uncertainly at the disruption before bounding away in a fluid streak. A saucer of milk rested, untouched, just beyond the windowsill.

    The girl’s eyes were squeezed tightly shut but tears were forming like beads of dew on her eyelashes. The chill breeze that had ushered the boy indoors rushed through the open window and ruffled the papers on the wall with mischievous fingers.
    avatar
    Fabien

    Posts : 177
    Join date : 2012-05-14

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:02 am

    The boy had deviated from his path, and returned briefly to claim a cigarette, despite discovering that his supply was swiftly dwindling. He shook off the sudden pang of despair that burned through his gut, and set the fragrant stick alight.

    When he heard evidence of the vampire’s departure, the urchin closed his eyes and released a shuddering sigh. He expected to feel a wave of relief at his host’s absence, a loosening of something tightly laced around his chest. But instead, unease continued to thicken within him like a brutal weed strangling its way through a flower bed. He had not wanted to walk away from him.

    Fabien remained pinned to the centre of his room, listening to the terrible fresh silence of the house. A voice crept into the back of his mind, soft at first, until it seemed to gain cruel momentum:You have to get out of here. You have to leave. Break a window. Scale that fence. Climb a chimney if you have to. But leave. Leave.

    He shivered violently, and in that moment made a sharp decision to flee his prison cell. His desire to seek out the girl was suddenly a necessity, an escape from the emptiness of his room and insistent whispering of his mind.

    The boy crept his way back down the stairs, following a half-recalled path to the kitchen. It was easier now to pick his way about the house, though he felt no less an intruder. Eventually he slipped out from the darkened stairway to her attic room, threads of smoke spiralling around his pale hair. Emerging from the shadows, he still apeared little more than a half-starved waif in an expensive shirt.

    When he caught sight of the girl he paused, his eyes widening first with confusion, and then surprise. He had barely caught a stray glimpse of the cat, before his delight was shattered by the sound of the girl’s head connecting with the frame.

    “Sainte mere.” He groaned, as he strode across the attic floor.

    The urchin sank to one knee, his hand raised as thought he intended to place his palm upon her head. It was a thoughtlessly natural gesture, full of something akin to brotherly affection, as though he could draw away the ache with the firm press of his hand.

    Ah, chérie.  Will you let me look? I do not think it is bleeding.” He murmured apologetically, his voice made gentle with concern. His fingers hesitated in mid air, before they lowered and came to rest on the bend of his knee.

    “I did not mean to startle you-”

    “-Or your friend.” The boy’s lips curled into a crooked smile, amusement glittering in his sharp eyes.

    “Here, can you stand?” He offered his hand to her, and waiting only a short time to see whether she’d accept. From this angle, the inky outline of black spade was visible upon his wrist, emerging triumphantly from a sea of scalding rope burns. Whether she decided to accept his assistance or not, the boy turned aside and moved eagerly towards the open window.

    “It is a stray, or yours? We had some at home. Wild mostly, but they would come back to birth, and one or two of the young ones I raised.”

    The boy pressed his weight into the wall, his eyes sweeping over the darkening rooftops, seeking the shadow of a retreating cat. He lifted his cigarette thoughtfully back to his mouth, then exhaled a wisp of smoke and frosted breath out the open window.

    “Will it come back?” He asked, hopefully.

    Sponsored content

    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:44 pm