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


    ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

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    Fabien
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:30 pm

    Daima's pointed chin lifted, and her eyes almost seemed to widen in surprise at the girl's swift response. It was clear she had expected more panic, more complaint from the stranger in their midst. Her eyes moved in a serpentine shift between Fabien and his companion, and once again she shifted her weight between her feet.


    The darkly attired girl lower her eyes to palms that were presented so readily to her. When her gaze rose, it lingered on Colombe for just a little too long.

    She raised her knife to the light, the metal glinting as she angled it towards the tender flesh. The lethal point scored her palms in a single, steady motion. This time, the press of the girl's blade held no true malice. The gesture instead seemed somewhat ceremonial, like old magic.

    Nous ne coupons pas les mains ici, madame. We are not that lowly.”

    Daima's other hand flicked out in Fabien's direction, her palm aggressively stilling his movements and silencing the sharp protest which had begun to rise in his throat. The boy swallowed stiffly, his movements still restless in the dark.

    Ç'est un jeton excessif.” He breathed unhappily.

    “She is fresh eyes here, and I could ask for so much higher. I do this on your behalf. So don't fret. It will not be bad.”

    She sped a threatening glance in his direction, before turning her attention back to the girl. This time her knife tapped at Colombe's collar.

    “Can you loosen here, to the shoulder? If it cannot be done with ease, I will cut it.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:35 pm

    Colombe’s eyes fixed on the gleam of the knife held in the girl’s hand. She did not flinch when the sharp point of the blade met her palm, but continued to watch with a silent, grim fascination, the muscles of her back tense with the expectation of pain.

    When it did not come, she clasped her hands together to smooth her thumb over the unbroken plane of her palm. Her soot-dark fingers smeared bands of black over her skin.

    She turned at Fabien’s protest. His evident unhappiness at the penalty she faced brightened her features. Her eyes gleamed in the dark. However, she returned to face Daima without breaking her silence when she rebuked him, clearly intent on the task at hand.

    At the girl’s request, Colome hesitated for the first time. She dropped her eyes. It was only a heartbeat later before she nodded once, and, with effort, tucked her arm into its sleeve. The motion was familiar to any woman who had attempted to remove a chemise without taking off her outer garment and after a moment her arm returned and she pulled down the loosened fabric of her collar, baring her smooth neck.

    The unveiling of the cream skin of her throat and the gentle slope of her clavicle to the ball of her shoulder felt intimate in this half-lit space. She remained still, dutifully exposing the flesh as she had been asked. But her eyes had left Daima - she looked up to the rotted ceiling, gaze skyward as though there was something unscrupulous in this particular demand that grated uncomfortably at her ability to bear it.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:40 pm

    A hush had fallen over the assembled group, the low chatter that had filled the dark corners had softened into a pointed silence. The dull rustle of fabric and drag of bottles across wood fell still as gang's attention sharpened upon the broken-voiced girl, and the boy who had seemingly returned from the dead.

    The close proximity of the Daima to Colombe obscured most of the grim details from the feral-eyed urchins view. But their ears were sharp to any sounds of pain, or any sudden panicked regret from the stranger. No doubt it had happened before, as the blade had come close, and they were hungry for a death.

    The darkly attired leader raised her knife, and the blade drew in close to Colombe's exposed throat. There was no tremble in her hands, but a look in her hurt eyes that suggested some dark thought passed through her mind. That in that moment, the vindictive girl  was considering how easy it would be to slice the stranger's life away from her, and in doing so punish Fabien by inflicting a pain that was half equal to what losing them had been.

    When the blade finally touched the girl's skin, it made three thin lines from the curve of her shoulder, to above the rise of her collarbone. The urchin leader was practised, and the wounds would no doubt leave a distinct, but not inelegant mark. Each line was no bigger than a pauper's match, and spaced together they were not unlike what prisoners might use to record the passing of days upon a rotted cell wall.

    As soon as Daima was satisfied, she began to back slowly away, the tip of her blade darkened with blood, and Fabien advanced in her place. He came with the sound of tearing fabric as he tore a strip of his shirt to press against his friend's shoulder, and soak up the blood that threatened to pour angrily from her cuts. From that point on, the grey-eyed youth would not leave her side.

    The group's leader continued to back away, swiping her weapon on her thigh. Her hard, scrutinising gaze was still on Colombe as she gave her final demands.

    “Give writing to the fruit-seller girl he was with today. She works for me. One of many.” She paused, and her eyes moved toward Fabien.

    “Any news... about Jehan, it is invaluable to me.” Her voice cracked softly with emotion, and the girl shook back the short crop of her hair to regain her composure.  

    “He said I was a fool for rescuing you. He said you would bring only sadness to us. But it was my mistake to make, and-”

    Daima continued to back away into the shadows until she had found the edge of a rotted chair, and folded into it. Victoire came and settled at her side, resting her head upon her leader's knee.

    “I am glad you are not dead, Fabien.”

    It was impossible to see whether she smiled, but some slow movement of her hand suggested she blew a departing kiss in his direction.

    “Leave. Now. I will expect your writing.”

    Fabien sought Colombe's hand in the dark, and tugged it gently to encourage their hasty retreat from the squalid rookery.  But as he turned to depart, a small hand was upon the hem of his ripped shirt. The pale haired boy turned, his storm cloud eyes pinched with sadness. The boy other hand was outstretched, and a filthy pack of playing cards was held fiercely in his grasp.

    “I kept these safe for you, like you asked.” He rasped, his tears cutting rivers through the grime of his cheeks.

    “Ah, but they look comfortable in your hands. They fit perfectly.” Fabien whispered, and his hands moved briefly from Colombe. “And if these do not now, they will in time.”

    He shrugged out of his finely tailored coat, and removed the soft leather boots that encased his feet. Both items were hastily bundled them into the arms of the thin little boy, whose face suddenly illuminated like a lit match. He nodded through his tears, and held his prizes close to his chest.


    “Merci, Daima. Come, ma chérie.” Fabien murmured anxiously.

    The pale haired boy once again urged them towards the ragged cloth that served as a door And then beyond that, out into the cold night, and toward what they might have called a home.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:37 pm

    Colombe did not cry out. She did not turn away, did not so much as flinch when the blade’s sharp point touched her collar. She remained unmoving, dark eyes fixed on the ceiling as though in prayer. Her breath hissed shakily through her nose as the knife scored measured lines in the canvas of her skin. Had Daima chosen to slit her throat, she would have found it a simple undertaking.

    When Daima withdrew, some of the tension in the girl’s body bled away. She lowered her head and half-bowed, the beginning of a curtsy, as though in thanks. Her fingers crept up as though to inspect the cuts but shied away from the torn skin.

    She meekly accepted the torn cloth from Fabien’s hands and absently pressed it to the wound. The thin fabric quickly darkened with blood. When she righted her collar, a small black spot swelled at the shoulder of her dress.

    The bloodied girl leaned wearily against her friend’s side as the urchin leader listed her demands. She nodded to show she’d understood, yes, she would do as asked. Strands of chestnut-dark hair had slipped free of her disheveled bonnet and clung to her flushed cheeks.

    She watched, listened to Daima’s words, but did not speak or move until Fabien gently tugged at her hand. Then she turned, led as easily as a lamb through the shadows, until their passage was halted by the boy. She scrutinized him, but her eyes were empty of recognition.

    She did not protest as her friend shrugged off his coat and boots. One would be forgiven for thinking she did not quite grasp the transaction taking place before her.

    The air beyond the meager cloth door chilled her cheeks, but was sweet and refreshing after the stifling press of so many bodies in the gloom. Darkness doused the street. Lights bobbed across the city like playful will-o-wisps. Colombe moved quickly on these unfamiliar streets, silently, one hand pressed against her shoulder and the other clasped tightly in Fabien’s.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:51 pm

    Fabien kept his friend's hand clasped firmly, and walked hastily out into the night. His pace soon slowed to a half limp, as his feet which grown accustomed to warm, wooden floors began to protest their treatment.

    The urchin did not speak, his eyes remained fixed on the far distance as he continued to stumble on, retracing their steps. Every so often one hand shot out aggressively, and swept away the path of tears which streamed over the sharp curve of his cheeks.

    Their return journey was a miserable one. The darkened streets had transformed from living and inviting into a place of a myriad of dangers. That golden, soft afternoon light had been chased away, replaced with such thick fog, the streets were barely discernible. Shapes moved in that gloom, filling the air as they passed with drunken threats, and ill humoured jeers.

    The pale haired youth pressed on, his hold on the girl growing ever tighter. Soon his conjurer's fingers would grow too firm, crushing the hand he held to like a sailor clinging to a fallen comrade.

    When the street grew quieter, the youth broke the silence between them, and spoke without turning his head or removing his eyes from the curve of the street.

    “Do you remember the night I first came to that house, Colombe?, I had only just left the-” The youth flinched for a moment at the recollection, like a dog remembering the sting of a whip. “-the whorehouse. And I asked Monsieur why the rooms were so empty, why the staff so few, a big house like that.

    And he told me about your family, that there was a boy who lived there once, and he had died with his father. He told me that the house fell into his hands after, and-”

    Fabien's voice faltered, and he exhaled a shuddering breath.

    “-I did not ask much more, not after that night.”

    Their path drew them back over the arch of the bridge, their steps disturbing the ghostly blanket of river mist which clung to the wet stones. But here at last the youth seemed to relax a little, to not search each corner for potential threats.

    “I know that these clothes are his, I know that.” He murmured, and tugged unhappily at his ripped and bloodied shirt with his other hand. “As is that room.”

    The boy stopped suddenly and turned to face Colombe, his eyes reddened by tears and half obscured by the tangle of his blood encrusted hair.

    “What you said back there, we would be dead were it not for you. But what you said about... that you talk in that way, your voice-”

    The boy lowered his chin, his head close to hers, his feline-sharp eyes searching her expression desperately in the half-light.

    “He... did that to you, Colombe? Made it so you cannot speak? Was that truth?”
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:17 pm

    At the pricking point of Daima’s knife, the pair had moved outside the circumference of the map that Colombe carried in her head. Even had these unfamiliar streets not been doused in the thick fog that muddled form and cast confused shadows, it was doubtful she could have easily navigated her way back home. She accepted Fabien’s lead without complaint or question, matching his pace when he began to hobble on bare feet.

    The girl’s eyes were glassy and unfocused. They remained on the stones beneath her feet. She did not protest when the boy crushed her hand between his, although her fingers fell slack in his fierce grip like the head of a dove whose neck he had wrung. The voices that jeered at them elicited as little response from her as the murmur of the chill wind as it swept around the corners of shuttered buildings.

    It did not appear that Colombe had heard Fabien when he broke the miserable silence that clung to them like the fog. Her gaze remained blankly on the street ahead. The hand not in his hung limply at her side, occasionally sneaking to her shoulder to prod absently at the cuts from the blade, worrying it like a tongue jabbing at a rotted tooth to make it ache.

    Her expression did not change when he spoke of her family, of the dead brother whose torn clothes he wore. It was only when Fabien halted and turned to face her that she seemed to return to this dark street.

    Her gaze slowly trailed up to meet his eyes. Something in them caused her to look quickly back down at her feet.

    She could not ignore him when his tear-stained cheeks were so close to hers, but she turned her head sharply to avoid his desperate gaze. She shook her head, rolling her shoulders in a shrug as though to say what does it matter, what does it change but with his face so close to hers, he was bound to see the sharp scrabble of pain written in her features.

    She shook her head again and then again. Her shoulders began to shake. She lifted a hand to brush a stray curl of hair from her eyes, caught a glimpse of the raised wound on the boy’s throat and froze.

    Colombe stood silent and still, clenching and unclenching her fists.

    She met his gaze for the first time, her eyes wide and wet. She stabbed a finger at him, at the scarlet bite on his neck, and then spread her fingers wide in an inquisitorial gesture. Her arms were trembling.

    It did not require a voice to understand what it was she was asking - although there was no accusation in her eyes, only a childish frustration that seemed to say tell me what he did to you first.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:03 pm

    At his friend's distress, the boy's slender fingers instinctively reached out for her, desperate to offer some comfort.  But when Colombe gestured instead towards his throat, the youth's hand moved there, feeling over the wound that was still tender under his touch.

    Suddenly the boy's demeanour changed, his muscles grew tense and eyes wide like that of a startled hare.

    This time it was was the grey eyed urchin's turn to avert his eyes.

    Fabien inhaled a sharp, shuddering breath as his trembling fingers sifted through the bloodied, tangled golden clumps of his hair. The words did not come easily, and when they did, it it was like he extracted them from his throat with force. Several times his lips parted as if he meant to begin, and then with a sharp breath severed the thought on his tongue.  

    “He bit-” He began at last, and then shivered and pinched his eyes shut.

    The boy's head lowered so that his hair fell heavy across his sharp profile.

    Non. I asked him to bite me.” He continued slowly, still unable to meet his friend's eye. “He asked me if he could, and I said-  I offered and I-

    -And I wanted it, Colombe.”

    The youth continued to rake his fingertips across his scalp, the drag of his nails hard enough to brand angry lines upon his skin. An unhappy, mirthless laugh escaped his thin chest, and he dared to raise his eyes back to meet hers. But his unhappy gaze did not linger long, and he turned aside once more, his expression pinched with shame.

    “Jehan was- was my my best friend-” The boy's voice broke, and he moved a hand to his chest like one sealing a wound which has just reopened. “And I would have died a long, long time ago were it not for him, for what he taught me out here.”

    “And with what you said back there- you are the only friend I have left in this world and- if that is true, if he hurt you like that-”

    The boy drew a fresh breath, his throat tight with emotion.

    “I – I think maybe there is is s-something wrong with me, Colombe. Just... s'il te plaît... ne me déteste pas. I do not think I could stand it.”

    Afte the words had left his throat, the urchin clenched his teeth together so firmly they began to hurt. He was silent then, waiting for the deep ache of his misery to pass. But the tears still came heavy and unrelenting, and the boy could not tell her much else.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:35 pm

    Colombe’s chest heaved with her breath as she awaited a response to her silent question. Her pupils had dilated and her eyes were black. She did not interrupt his struggle to find the words to describe how teeth had come to score his throat.

    When the answer finally came, his voice halting and the words black with shame, they did not appear to sink in. She remained still and silent, her breath hissing out her nose. But at his confession of having wanted to be bitten, she recoiled, stepping away from him as though she had been stung.

    Her eyes had widened in perfect bewilderment. Her lips were parted and her mouth was a bruise in the dark. The shadows of evening that blanketed them both mottled her skin and cast dark hollows on the wrong parts of her clothes, her hair.

    When Fabien continued his desperate exposition, the girl shook her head, eyes liquid in the gloom. Her breath had quickened until it beat a frantic rabbit’s rhythm in her chest. She shook her head again and turned away from him, her hands flying to clap over her ears.

    The line of her silhouette wavered. It was quiet enough now, with the fog swirling in serpentine swirls at their feet, that one could hear the quick keen of her gasping exhales as they bordered on a sob.

    She stood in the street, unmoving as a pillar of salt save the seething of her fast breath. It was impossible to tell if she was still listening, if she could even hear him with her palms pressed flat over her ears.

    It did not take long, however, for the worst of the storm to pass. The boy whispered his final plea to the uncaring plane of her back, but soon after Colombe’s breath began to slow. Her hands fell away from the sides of her head to dig into the back of her neck. He could not see her face, but her shoulders had stopped shaking.

    A moment of silence passed between them on the street. A faceless voice called to a companion somewhere in the fog. In the distance, a dog’s bark was followed by a shout.

    Colombe wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. The air had grown cool enough that her shaky breath left her lips in a soft cloud.

    When she turned back to face him, she did not meet his tear-drenched eyes. The dark blood staining her dress was like a flower pinned to her chest.

    She did not speak when she stepped toward him, did not answer his question or make any demands. Instead, fumbling in the dim light, she found his elbow with fingers cold as stone and used it as a guide for her hand to slip down his forearm and into his hand. Her gaze remained averted but her grip was firm as she clasped his hand in hers.

    She had nothing left to say. With her teeth clenched and jaw fixed, she set off once more in the direction of home.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:56 pm


    Fabien was still and silent, his grey eyes transfixed on the trembling figure half obscured in the fog. The boy's breath was ragged in his chest, and his body half hunched forward as though something within it has become slack. At the girl's clear distress, the hand upon his chest tightened, pulling taut the thin fabric and bunching it into his fist.

    His other arm hung limply at his side, and when the girl first reached for it, it was as cold and lifeless as that of a corpse. But as her touched moved across his skin, the muscles softened, and the boy released a low, unhappy breath.

    The boy swept an affectionate thumb over his friend's hand, and kept it tightly encased within his conjurer's fingers as they walked.

    This time he allowed her to take the lead, their feet once again carving a path through the clotted trails of mist that clung to the crest of the bridge. The boy did not speak, and kept his head low so that his features were half obscured by the tangle of his hair. Soon they had began to navigate their way through s those streets more familiar to Colombe, until at last the dark shape of the house with its perpetually darkened windows crept into view. Here the urchin broke the silence which hung heavy like a curtain between them.

    “It will be good to get warm at least. I always forget now, how cold it is.” He murmured softly.

    He sped a glance over his shoulder, at the fog lined streets they had just moved through like ghosts returning to rest. The boy's pace slowed, and he attempted to slow their pace with a gentle tug on the girl's arm. His eyes were dark with concern.

    “Do you think we will be alone? We should look some more, at that wound Colombe, when we are inside.“
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:31 pm

    Colombe’s hand remained tightly clasped in her friend’s as they walked. The streets had been swallowed by the thick fog and the lack of light seemed to make the cold more piercing, but her steps did not falter. The hand not in his continued to find its way back to the cut at her collar.

    If the despair that the boy’s confession had uncovered still nested in her chest, she did not show it. They walked quietly in the dark, hands fast together as though she feared to lose him in the shadows.

    When the house’s yawning windows floated into view through the fog, she pulled up short as though loathe to return now that they had braved the long, dark journey to return home. At Fabien’s comment she glanced down at his bare feet as though only just remembering how many of his protective garments he had shed as they were fleeing Daima’s rotten den, but she did not respond.

    It was his question that stilled her entirely. She looked wistfully at the house and then met his eyes. Carefully, she placed a finger over her lips and tugged at his arm to lead him to the door.

    They shuffled close together under the portico. The copse of silver aspen trees around the side whispered a shuddery warning. Gently, Colombe reached out a hand and tried the frigid handle of the front door. It did not turn. This elicited a sigh of relief and she retrieved the key, thankfully not lost with their other valuables, and eased the door open to the dark foyer.

    Inky gloom bled across the floor in the absence of the girl’s hand to light the lamps and keep them from faltering. She found the boy’s hand once more and took it in hers, this time with a deliberateness that suggested she was trying to keep him close, and slowly stepped inside.

    All was silent. All was still. There were no signs of anyone’s presence in the dark house as they quietly made their way across the ground floor. They passed the main staircase, the banister casting strange shadows on the steps, and headed with the furtive steps of an intruder toward the hall.

    It would not take the boy long to see that their destination was the room that had been gutted for the bath and indeed, as soon as they had stepped inside Colombe shut the door behind them.

    The windowless room was black as pitch but proved little challenge for the girl,to navigate, as after a moment’s scraping in the dark a match flared and the glow of a lamp filled the space with yellow light. The copper tub hulked like a sleeping beast in the center of the room.

    Colombe had not waited for her eyes to adjust to the soft glow before loosening the laces of her dress and peeling back the black spot on her shift to inspect the wound. The dried blood made it falsely jagged in the gloom. The girl studied the mark with somber eyes, her fingers sensing along its edges with macabre curiosity before she motioned with her chin in a gesture Fabien had no doubt grown familiar with for him to fetch her a rag.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:41 pm

    Fabien's lips parted as though he meant to speak, but his tongue grew quickly still at the girl's gesture. He nodded stiffly, and began shifting his weight between painfully cold feet as she prepared to open the door.

    Once the empty entrance way was revealed, the urchin held back, his grey eyes warily attempting to make some sense of the impenetrable darkness. When Colombe's hand found his own, there was a slight pull of resistance, as though the boy feared to follow his companion back into the shadows.

    As they made their way back inside the confines of the house, the youth seemed ever glad of his friend's grasps, and now clung to her so tightly her fingers were bound to grow numb. His pained feet stumbled over the floor, catching here on the corner of a rug, or tripping in ungainly fashion over the leg of a chair. The usually nimble youth cursed silently under his breath, his grip on the girl unfaltering firm.

    When they at least reached the bathing room, the boy reluctantly allowed his friend to slip from his fingers. He felt groped blindly in the dark for the a wall, the lip of the bath, some structure to ground his body in the darkness. At the tang of sulphur in the air and bloom of light, the boy's tense features softened with relief.

    He moved as Colombe instructed, gathering a clean piece of cloth in his nervous hands before he turned back towards her.

    “Let me look then, chérie? I do not think it so bad. They always tend to bleed more on the surface, non?”
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:51 pm

    Colombe continued her somber inspection of the wound as her companion turned away to find a cloth. Sound was amplified in the gloom of the still house, and the cautious shuffling of his feet echoed unnaturally.

    She offered him the shadow of a smile when he returned. Melancholia still haunted her gaze, but it was shrouded by the purple exhaustion smeared beneath her eyes. She delicately accepted the cloth from his hands and turned towards the light to allow him to see the cut at her collar.

    It was then the girl stilled, her hand freezing in place with the cloth clutched so tightly her knuckles whitened. Her eyes grew wide and her head jerked up to meet Fabien’s eyes, alarm scrawled sharply in the features of her face, but the warning came far too late as the vampire’s voice filled the room like the presence of a ghostly stranger.

    “Explain to me,” he said, the snap of his teeth sharp in the gloom. He inhabited the doorway on the far side of the room, his shape indistinct but his voice as clear as though he whispered it in their ear. There had been nothing to indicate his approach; he may as well have drifted into the room as a wisp of fog. “How it is you return here with empty hands, hours later than you ought.”

    They could hear his inhale, like a beast searching for the entrance to a burrow. “Smelling of blood and the touch of strangers.”

    He stepped deeper into the room and when the thin light touched his unbound hair, it glowed like gossamer. His feet were bare and although his shirt was one that suggested he intended to leave the house, it was open at his throat and bared the lattice of scars at the base of his neck.

    He gestured with a long-fingered hand for Colombe to approach, “Viens ici my dove, let me see what has been done to you.”

    The girl, who had carefully been avoiding the vampire’s pale gaze, hesitated, but only for a moment before moving closer, every part of her body broadcasting a fierce loathing for her inexplicable forward motion. The vampire ignored her clear distaste and pulled her close by the shoulder, his hand quickly finding the cut and tracing it with a surgeon’s precision.

    Colombe was frozen like a startled hare in his grasp, her breath stilled in her chest. His fingers when he removed them were smeared with black blood that had not quite had a chance to dry.

    It was Fabien he looked to over the shivering girl’s head. “A blade,” he said dryly. “And not an accidental one.” It was impossible to say how such menace gathered blackly in his cool tone, but it was clear he expected an explanation.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:31 pm

    Fabien had been about to inspect his friend's wound with an almost child-like concern and curiosity.

    His hand hand stopped in mid-air, lingering just above on the material at her neck to draw it a little aside so that he might see how deeply her flesh had been torn. He still stood in such a way, that when the girl stiffened, his head was angled down, and his attention focused on her bloodied collar.

    So it was not the the girl's distress, but the sound of the vampire's voice, which made the urchin flinch in fright. He turned much too quickly, his finely shaped eyes drawn guiltily towards the door. Something in the vampire's manner caused the boy's foot to instinctively side back, his mind compelled to create space between them in that room. The youth did not know why he was afraid, he did not fully comprehend what should cause the sudden dryness in mouth, nor make his heart beat so fiercely in his chest.

    The boy did not move, but his feline yes followed Colombe as she brushed past him. He heard her voice again then, that terrible, broken voice, haunting his thoughts as his eyes moved between the vampire and the girl.  

    He is a sick man...

    He watched the vampire's fingers move across his friend's throat.

    He made it so I can't talk...

    He lifted his chin, his fingertips sifting through the filthy, tangled strands of hair at his temple.

    “It  ah, no it was just not a good night, Monsieur. A bit of bad luck, you know?” The urchin murmured, his eyes lingering on Colombe as he spoke.

    “Sometimes it is tréchareux, out there, non?  And  ah, I am not used to money, I was not careful.”

    The bad man hurts lots of people...

    “But it is not so bad, we are back here and we are safe.”

    Hurts... lots of people.


    Fabien turned his eyes away from the girl, and dared to meet the sightless gaze of his host. When he spoke, his voice was softly apologetic, as if they'd merely scraped a knee or lost some trinket in a city garden.

    Je suis désolé, Monsieur. I put Colombe in danger. I am not used to travelling in such company, and I forgot myself.”
    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:07 pm

    Tariq did not draw away from the girl beneath his hands, although the vague slant of his blighted gaze continued to settle on Fabien. His touch lingered, hands on the slope of her shoulders as though to discourage the notion of fleeing. Her back was to the boy but even in the gloom he could see the shivering that caused her outline to flicker like the flame of a candle.

    At the boy’s insistence that the pair had returned and was safe, the vampire’s head canted to the side with something like amusement. Loose strands of silvered hair slipped about his shoulders with the movement.

    “Are you?” The words were not sharp; he had breathed them in a tone of genteel curiosity, but that did not stop Colombe from flinching as though from a blow. He gently stroked the crown of her head as though to comfort her, the ivory of his teeth visible when he spoke. “That is the answer to a question I did not ask.”

    The apology did something to soften the tension of the vampire’s taut spine although it did little to return the air to the room. The conclusion of the boy’s diplomatic explanation was met with silence.

    Tariq straightened and reached a hand to brush a stray strand of hair from the girl’s face. She froze, stilling at the motion.

    “It seems you make a habit of forgetting yourself.” The tips of his fingers had discovered the wound at the girl’s collar once more and were tracing the sharp lines contemplatively.

    “Tell me how this has happened, and by whom.” The veneer of calm cracked like mud, revealing the steel beneath. The glint of his silver eyes was like the flashing of a cat’s claws. “And if you can explain to me why you did not stop it, perhaps before I depart to ensure those who dared lay a hand on any thing of mine do not repeat the mistake, I will spare you the same lesson.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:50 pm

    Fabien's quiet, self-assured air was torn from him at the vampire's reply. His eyes grew dark in surprise, as thought he had expected his host to be quickly, and easily soothed by his words.

    The softly spoken reprimand caused the urchin's eyes to grow wide, and colour to bloom upon the rise of his cheekbones. He released a sharp breath, and lowered his chin to conceal his pained expression beneath his hair.

    The vampire's clear displeasure silenced the boy's tongue. He swallowed slowly, allowing a terrible silence to expand between them as he felt his way around a suitable answer.

    “I – ah-” He began, his youthful voice trembling with uncertainty. “I – I do not have names to give you Monsieur, but I will tell you what I can.”

    The urchin's filthy, bare feet shuffled nervously across the floor like a freshly caught colt tethered to a post. “I lead us away. I wanted to go to a part of the city that is dangerous, to... to see something of home.”

    “It was not a safe route, and times are hard.”

    The boy could not meet the vampire's sightless gaze, and so he directed his lie towards his feet. He could feel sweat beading along his spine as his nervous breath snagged his words like a thorn.

    “And I- I was hurt – my head, they hit it.” The urchin indicated to where his hair was bloodied still, to where the skin of his brow had split like flesh of fruit. “I do not recall much, one moment they were hurting Colombe, then they were startled and let us alone.”

    “But it was my mistake, Monsieur, I -”

    He dared to take a tentative step forward then, and there was something desperate in the movement of his body, something like yearning. His fingertips twitched at his side, as though his hands longed to reach out and touch the vampire.

    “I did not mean to make you angry.” He murmured softly.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:33 pm

    Tariq allowed that black silence to unspool between them without moving to disrupt it. There was displeasure writ in the set of his jaw at the boy’s words, but he allowed him to stammer his way through the story without intrusion.

    He mulled wordlessly over Fabien’s explication before speaking. His words when they came were sharp as a sword drawn from a shuddering wound. “Je vois.

    The tips of his fingers drummed a gentle rhythm along Colombe’s shoulder. His long figure bent over her, the shape of it like a massive wolf of the sort that hadn’t stalked the groves since Roman times, his lips to her ear. Fabien could see little of his face but the lurid gleam of his eyes like the spark of a sulphur fire.

    “And what is your story?” The breathed words floated in the air like a wisp of grey smoke. The girl’s back stiffened. “Did your friend lead you to peril and stand idly by as you were hurt and discarded? Does he tell the truth?”

    The shivering that took her figure grew stronger. The sound that escaped her lips was almost a whimper. The girl’s shoulders rolled in a shrug that did not convincingly convey her ignorance on the subject, and swallowed a yelp as the vampire’s grip on her upper arm tightened.

    Non,” he said softly. “I suppose if he did, your heart would not pound so in your chest.” She had the grace not to respond and after a moment the vampire released her.

    “That is all, Colombe.” She jerked back, away from the vampire’s grasp, with obvious relief. Her tangled hair covered her eyes and she did not meet Fabien’s gaze.

    “You are to attend to your tasks on schedule. Do not let me find you outside your room tonight.” The girl nodded, her eyes on the floor, and scurried from the room. The door snapped shut behind her.

    Alone with the master of the house, the light of the candle seemed to shudder and wilt. Darkness pooled blackly, the shadows gathering as though in anticipation.

    “Feckless boy.” There was a heat to the words. “There is still so much to show you, and you tempt me to split your ribs and suck the blood from your shiftless heart.”

    He did not advance, but there was a tremble to his form that suggested it was only restraint that held him. His pale eyes glowed.

    “I allow you leave for an evening’s pleasure and you lead what is mine to injury and have the gall -” He spat the word. “- to try and speak a half-truth. You do not mean to make me angry? You have not glimpsed even a scrap of my anger.”

    The vampire gestured curtly.

    “Come here, Fabien. You may lie to me, but your flesh and blood will not.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:44 pm

    Fabien's miserable, feline eyes followed the girl as she fled from the room, and his attention lingered on the door after she had gone. The urchin remained carefully silent, the muscles of his throat flexing as he swallowed.

    The sharpness of the vampire's words caused the boy to flinch as though struck. He lowered his chin, and did not dare meet his host's unseeing gaze while he spoke. To steel his nerves, he toyed with a loose thread at the edge of his shirt. Soon he had begun to wind the white line around his finger, spooling it tightly until the flesh had whitened like bone.

    Then at the summons his gaze rose, grey eyes dark and unblinking

    “Oui, Monsieur.” He managed to rasp feebly, his pulse a wild flutter in his throat.

    The boy had not noticed  how badly he was shaking, not until he attempted to step closer. His movements were leaden, as if the bloodied soles of his feet had fused with the floor. When he eventually managed to coax his muscles into action, his approach was miserably slow.

    The boy paused, then took a few hasty steps forward before he slowed with one hand outstretched. He remained this way for a moment or so,  his expression conflicted, as though he was unsure of how best to proceed. And then something seemed to unfold itself from within him, and the urchin suddenly sped forward. In that moment, unless he was apprehended, no doubt  he intended to fling his arms around his host's waist, to fold into him with a frightened, tearful desperation.

    “Je suis désolé. Je suis désolé, Monsieur.” He moaned, his words thick with unhappiness and something that might have been fierce affection. “I did not mean for her to get hurt. I did not mean for it to be bad. I wanted only to do as you said.”

    His fingers sought the vampire's shirt, to cling as a child would when uncertain of what crime they had committed, but so eager to rectify it.
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:07 pm

    Tariq did not turn aside or repel the boy as he approached. His arms stayed at his side. He remained still and unyielding and Fabien would find his figure an unreceptive target, as though he had thrown his arms around a carved statue. The skin against the boy’s cheek was hard and cold as stone.

    The vampire did not look down at his ward. Slowly, his hand reached and found the back of the boy’s neck as though to stroke him, console him, but instead his fingers caught his hair close to the root and pulled, forcing the his head to tilt and his tearful eyes to look up at the set of the vampire’s jaw, the delicate silver of the scars at his throat. His hand remained firm at his scruff, holding him in place as one would a dog, the pressure of his arm pressing him close to the vampire’s waist. An observer might be forgiven for mistaking the embrace as a tender one.

    Et pourtant,” he said, his clouded eyes distant, his eye-teeth thin and white. “You have not done as I said.”

    His grip at the back of the boy’s neck tightened enough to elicit a wince but the vampire’s eyes remained dispassionately on the shadows that gathered at the back of the room. The single light Colombe had kindled was waning. As the light receded, the vampire’s shadow stretched and grew long and spindly behind him.

    “Here is how you can expect the rest of your evening to proceed.” The words were clipped.

    “I was to go and take the blood I need after your whetting of my appetite last night. Your little misadventure has delayed me and so instead, you will offer your throat to me.” He turned his pale gaze to the exhausted urchin whose bloody soles had borne him to his arms. His eyes were the hard flint of a bird of prey’s - animal, and without sympathy.

    “I will not be gentle with you. If your heart bears the strain of so much blood lost without succumbing and you awake come morning, the ache of your body will suffice as reminder not to try my patience again. Vous comprenez?” He breathed the question with such sharp contempt that it was apt to cut the boy’s cheek like a whip.

    He released the back of Fabien’s neck. “Now, remove your shirt so I do not tear it, and prepare yourself for me.” If the boy hoped to find any shred of affection in the words, he would be sorely disappointed.


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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:57 pm

    The urchin's limbs, first warm and supple, immediately stiffened at the vampire's cold indifference to his embrace. His features flushed in youthful embarrassment, and the turn of his head was strangely uncharacteristic in its sudden shyness.

    At once the boy moved to untangle himself from his host's body, to create some distance between them. But he suddenly found his body fused in place by the vampire's firm grip. His heart beat fiercely beneath his clothes, the flicker of a moth's wing against the cold flesh of the impassive creature he clung to adoringly. As that grip tightened, the beat of the urchin's heart grew faster still.

    His breath grew fast as he watched the vampire's lips move, and a look of such hurt darkened the boy's finely shaped eyes. He could not remove his eyes from his host's mouth, the clench of his hand only a slim distraction to the cold, heavy sensation in his chest.

    “I- ah ...oui, Monsieur, j-je comprends.  ”He rasped, releasing a shuddering breath.

    Once had had been released, the urchin's hands slithered despondently away rom the vampire's sides. He was still for a time, and his agile, lock picker's fingers rose to caress the aching muscles at the back of his neck.

    The boy took an unsteady step back, his breath catching in small, aggressively stifled sobs.

    Fabien's nervous fingers moved from his skin, and he began to fumble with the buttons of his shirt. His efforts were agonisingly slow, interrupted briefly as he swept a trembling hand across his eyes to rid himself of the tears that were collecting there.

    Eventually he pulled the material over his head, and let it slip to the floor. The boy was cold, and grew colder still now that this thin barrier had been removed. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, vulnerable and uncertain of what to do with his hands. And then as demurely as a shy young shepherdess, swept his blood-tangled hair back from his neck, and exposed skin still reddened and tender from the vampire's teeth.

    “It's yours, Monsieur.” He murmured, his voice strained in the manner of one trying painfully hard to appear brave.

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

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