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


    Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

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    Fabien

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    Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Fabien on Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:58 pm

    Fabien had fallen sweetly beneath the thick blanket of sleep that had settled heavy upon him at the bat’s command. But it was not an angelic rest that he was granted, for his breathing remained wretched and laboured for hours after his consciousness was lost. The asthmatic crackle and gurgle lungs like the melancholy chorus of the drowned, unable to find and repair themselves under the burden of his torment. Pain however, did not coax him back over the threshold of his slumber, and eventually the vile melody of his tortured body lessened, was relaxed as his nerves toyed with the edges of serenity.  He was as still and soulless as an abandoned child’s plaything, content to remain sprawled there in the clotted and drying pool of his own misery and pleasure if he was left to do so unmolested.  At first nothing could stir him, and he was as cold and blue lipped as a corpse, a peasant’s son left out in the fields for the crows to pluck at. His ribs jutting out like the furrows of a ploughed field, mud, ashes, and copper entwined in his yellowed teeth. But eventually some quiver of life returned to the bruised flesh of his eyelids, stirred the muscle beneath his moist brow where hair was still artfully pasted in streaks of blood and grime.

    The light behind the velum like frailty of his lids was weak. It was a pauper’s gas lamp, struggling to burn through the harshest of winter nights. A mere glint of it struggled behind his pupils as slowly his sealed gaze peeled open, casting its pathetic reach into the vast sea of dark. The boy could not find strength enough to even work free the dusty whimpers of pain that collected in pillar of his throat, for certainly the dull ache of his ripped spine and brutalised skin demanded it. That skin had fused miserably to the floor, knotted flesh and jutting bones recalling their mistreatment. And when words came, they were disoriented, needful and lost. “Eau ... la pluie... eau.”  It was a lament typical of a wearied traveller, one who had tarried too long in lands foreign and strange, his lips dusted with sand. A spark of resilience encouraged the youth to rise from his grave, stretching the damaged skin of his back in a curtain of pain that fell before his eyes like dying stars. Dizzied by the brilliance of it, he crumpled back into his former placement with a brutal crack of bone and moved no further. It seemed he would in fact not be moving from his terrible bed so swiftly at all, for it clung to him so fiercely.

    There was no tooth clenching defiance, no grunting effort to rise back toward the brilliant flame of contrived freedom. Perhaps because he could no longer testify to what it was he must escape so desperately from, for his heart murmured to him of such horrors. But they were half memories, childhood fancies about toothed creatures lurking in the shadows beneath his cot bed... and oh, he felt so old, so tired, and bitterly cold. Bewildered fingertips patted tentatively along the rise of his sunken chest, down toward the emaciated dagger point of his hipbone, feeling across grey flesh that was bumped and unclothed.  “Est-ce purgatorie?... Suis-je mort?” He asked softly of the shadows and the judge who presided over them... regardless of whether he was currently there or not. Somehow, it didn’t matter; Fabien knew he would still be heard. But as soon as the words departed his lips, they were haunted by terrible laughter. It was as gentle and sombre as the sweeping of a stick broom across gaol floor, brushing away the foot prints of the damned. Beneath such laughter were horrors unimaginable, a neatly contained Pandora’s Box of rot and ruin... glazed over with this impish mask of smooth indifference.

    Somehow it looked like perfection.
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    Tariq
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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Tariq on Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:37 pm

    --Tariq had deserted the bloody child sometime during his unquiet slumber, flitting from his side as silently as a bedside specter. For several hours, the omen was abandoned. The bat’s shadows, sluggish without their master, were the only company left to greet his listless awakening. They appeared indifferent to his mournful questions. They milled about in great splotches of gloom above his head, thick with emptiness and glut with aimless desire, creating an artificial blindness that the thin glow pulsing behind his thin eyelids did little to alleviate.


    While the vampire possessed a fine appreciation for theatrics he was not as telepathic as his keen instincts would suggest, and it would be several minutes after the boy’s dry laughter had faded away before he returned. His arrival was heralded by a flash of light, the mild glow from the flickering torches of the corridor blinding as they pierced the inky gloom before being severed by the click of the door.


    For a brief moment the gory scene was illuminated. Blood had thickened and cracked in rust-coloured stains like a misshapen shadow beneath the slumped omen. The grisly dye was littered with scrabbling handprints made sharp by the imprint of claws and the raking lines of bloody wingtips. The boy himself was a sprawl of ashen limb, made gleaming and pale from blood loss, unpleasant wounds and rent cloth like the naked and shivering victim of an animal attack. And then all was drowned in darkness once more, the black alive with the bat’s presence.

    The omen had little time to compose himself before the touch of long fingers had him resolutely up to the knuckle by strands of unruly hair. The grip was not unkind and was likely more to orient the blind creature than out of any genuine ill-will, but the tug was certainly enough to be sure of his full attention—and to dispel any lingering shades of sleep from his bruised, weary eyelids. Dry wings flexing with a whisper of membrane was the only indication the bat had joined him on the floor.

    A moment later and Tariq was easing him into sitting up with hands firm along the writhing jumble of bones and dry, crackling blood of his knobby spine, unwaveringly ignoring any thrashing protest of agony at the pain apt to snap through the boy’s battered nerves as he lifted his bloody torso from the wreckage of the thin carpet.

    He was not forced to endure the anguish of shifting muscle and injured tendon long. The vampire eased his sharp skull to a rest on one long thigh with his crown against the bony ball of a knee, cradling his broken torso in the crook of his leg while his lower back was allowed to rest on the floor. Carefully, with a softness that was nearly delicate despite the severity of the motion, clawed fingers lifted the boy’s chin. It was clear he expected little resistance. He bared his scarred and torn throat to the darkness, his lamp-lit gaze tilted helplessly toward his master’s dusky eyes. It was an excruciatingly vulnerable position.

    The tip of one spidery finger traced the omen’s cracked lips. Should the dim light from his eyes be sufficient, he might have glimpsed the shadow of a crocodile’s smile flit against the vampire’s cruel mouth. That gentle fingertip parted the omen's wan lips before creeping down the line of his chin and the slash of his jaw before coming to a rest on his throat, all five spindly digits resting with the gentility of a sparrow come to roost around his neck. They did not suffocate, nor threaten to, although the touch was possessive to its roots.

    There was a subtle movement in the darkness and, where a moment prior a claw had pressed against his mouth, the smooth lip of a drinking glass replaced it. The bat’s voice was soft, resonating with the thoughtless weight of someone who was accustomed to being obeyed. “Drink, Fabien.”

    The insistent pressure would not leave his lips until he had submitted. The liquid inside was pleasingly cool and nearly as thick as syrup with a sharp edge of salt that was not entirely pleasant. It was not wholly unlike the taste of blood, although lacking the suffocating taint of copper. The bat tipped the glass attentively, just quickly enough that thin rivulets escaped from the cracked corners of the boy’s mouth to trickle languidly down the hollows of his neck. The skeletal fingers resting lightly around his scrawny throat were careful to measure every swallow and his sightless eyes remained watchful, their dark depths stirring with creatures toothed and foul despite the softness in his coaxing gestures.
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    Fabien

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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Fabien on Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:48 pm

    Fabien shied away from the cruelty of that unveiled brightness like a caged demon hissing at goodness, his wandering fingers shielding the sunken hollows of his gaze in a protective visor. It was unable to soften the ache that penetrated beyond the fragile gloss of his cursed sight, deep into the devastated hollows of a mind torn into a thousand pieces. The gruesome state of his body terrified him. He had seen bodies like this in ditches; he had plucked trinkets from within the pockets of doomed Prussian soldiers still half alive, fingers reaching toward him for an act of charity. He had stroked their sunken cheeks, and kissed their eyelids, and flitted away upon the sound of his rattling laughter without care or remorse. But now it was his hands that sought empathy, and his lips that prayed for a blessing and all were denied him. So it was that he learned to become thankful for the return of blindness, thankful that his ripped flesh could no longer haunt and grieve him so potently.

    Stillness marked his exhaustion. The boy did not flinch, did not even softly whimper when the bat’s fingers were suddenly laced within the grimy stands of his hair. It was unusual, for a being so full of vitality and movement, to be so restrained. Even his eyes when lifted were as large and glassy as a porcelain doll, turned upwardly to regard the frail outline of the vampire that the dim glow of his eyes etched into shadows. They remained softly questioning, the expression of a murdered boy tucked gently to the rushes by the water bed, trying to reason with his killer though his organs were missing and chest torn open.

    Only the sharp shock of pain melted through his distress, and finally broke the film of his shock.The omen yelped miserably at the flexing of torn muscle, his frail chest expanding, the bone and ligament of his gaunt shoulders tautening as his fingertips struggled to find purchase. The floor was momentarily lost as his vision wavered, and vertigo laid her cool hands upon him fiercely enough to induce nausea.
    Only when bid to rest upon softness again, did the youth’s body curve tentatively against it like a somnambulant plague victim coaxed back into bed. With shivering lips and breath catching at the edges of his throat, the boy allowed himself to be moved and repositioned at the bat’s leisure. His bones were now fused wire coils, his flesh was cold clay, and all were left to be shaped, touched, and placed without query or opposition. Only some phantom memory tightened the line of his shoulders as he was forced to stretch his neck out, some stirring that flinched through the muscles of his brow. It made his breath roll harsh and rapid across the bat’s fingers, the line of which lingered so close to his thirsting lips. He expelled wheezing air in a shuddery gasp of concern.

    And then, it was forgotten, and he was as gentle limbed and still as before. With eyes that lingered long and obsessively upon the dark caverns of the bat’s blind sight, studying there the glint of teeth that came bestowed with so gentle a touch. There was no repressed snarling beneath his skin, nor any tightness and disgust that lingered in the tendons of his seized throat. Only loss.

    Then, swiftly, excitably, the omen’s serpentine pupils flicked away like snuffed candles. He obeyed with a diligence that was wild and craving, arching his neck into the bat’s palm as he sought the source of this font. The fluid, regardless of what it was, was gorged upon; he suckled it like a newborn calf taking in its first nutrients. He would have licked the sap from the bat’s fingertips had he been made to do so, his need for liquid vital and consuming. And with it, he barely took a breath, his eyes pinched beneath dark lids, and brow a pained slash across a pale, blood decorated brow. He ignored the sting of salt, which no doubt would swell and redden his lips in some false mockery of natural life. All was forsaken, as his throat pulsed into the vampire’s palm, and his tongue and teeth took their fill without question or complaint. Only when his natural instinct began to subdue, did the boy question the flavour, the consistency of what he had lapped and consumed like a kitten. It was not the healing kiss of rain water. It was not was his cursed flesh needed, what dripped from his pours and had fallen constantly from the buds of his eyes since he had entered this room.

    Qu’est ce que c’est?” He managed to croak sluggishly, neck muscles loosening as he attempted to fall back into himself with impish tongue curling over the corners of his lips.
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    Tariq
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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Tariq on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:26 pm

    --Tariq faithfully measured every swallow against the palm of his hand, only tipping the glass away once the dregs had been consumed. The weary child was allowed to remain tucked into the hollow of his long legs, hidden like a wobbly-legged fawn in a copse of spindly trees. He tipped his skull contemplatively at the croaked question.

    "La vie," the vampire answered simply. His answer was as absent-minded as his blank gaze, his attention wholly in the wandering fingers that delicately prodded the gaps of the boy's ribs, testing the flesh with a hesitancy that suggested he hadn't been entirely certain the sliminess of the foul concoction would be enough to neutralize the negligible bite of salt. The feathery touch of his fingertips stroked the hungry hollow of the boy's stomach, gleaming skin sticky with blood, before creeping back up to rest along the slash of his collarbones in mute contentment.

    "Your veins still cling to mortality, beloved. Burn your flesh and you will perish, hang from your tender throat and you will die, drain your blood..." He allowed the sentence to collapse into its inevitable conclusion in silence. His spidery fingers twitched against the omen's flesh as though the prospect of his demise was too delectable to postpone, but the bat continued with a soft shake of his head that sent strands of white hair rippling down his bare shoulders like cobwebs. "An imperfect curse. It is a curious thing," he concluded with a soft hiss.

    He rolled his dark eyes towards the sprawled figure between his legs in a gesture that was certainly a learned parody of sight. The curve of one animal ear, dusted with shadows in the gloom that the boy's dim eyes did little to penetrate, flicked towards the door as though disconnected from the scene.

    "Which is not to suggest--" A lazy humour plucked through his tone and a glint of bone-white teeth pierced the dark at his crocodile grin. "--that it will alleviate your suffering, little one. It is only to ensure your rueful heart keeps time; I am afraid you will have to lick your own wounds." His forked tongue lolled from his mouth in direct disobedience of this edict to softly flick against the joint of an ashen shoulder. Tattered cloth still clung to the flesh in miserable strips, stiffened and stained with blood. They created a grisly webbing that the dark claws of the bat's idle hand thoughtlessly severed. The loss left dark slashes creasing the skin like scars from unspeakable tragedy.

    A moment passed in languorous silence. Bolstered by the blood pulsing through long-dead arteries, the vampire's body was faintly warm; a bittersweet comfort to the creature who still quivered with the memory of his surrender of that heat.

    "Fabien." Whatever humour his voice had possessed had withered into an icy blackness. "Tell me the misbehaviours for which you were punished." There was little in his tone to suggest it was anything but a command. However, coiled around the words' iron core was the faint hint of silky, serpentine persuasion that sought to coax the rebellious memories past the blackened surface of his most recent trauma and into the shadows that gathered close for the recitation.
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    Fabien

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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Fabien on Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:21 pm

    “Je n'aime pas ça” the omen murmured, his voice awash with the sullenness of youth. The flavour of his existence was impossibly bitter and he intended to dwell on every foul drop of it despite the unsympathetic audience. But he was still, quite perfectly so, and his head rolled aside so that one cool, grey cheek rested against the vampire’s furred flesh. There was a strange appreciation in the turn of that skull, something docile about it, and almost... tame. The omen made no attempt to shrink aside from the inspecting fingertips, nor bare his teeth and lash his hostile tongue. Instead, the stroking caused his bruised lids to lower, sapping the last flicker of light from the room.

    But he was listening, avidly.

    The nature of the bat’s words caused the boy’s eyes to quiver back into the life. Their brightness had returned quite surprisingly quickly, made vibrant in his alarm, manifest in his fear. Even his current pain and violation was not enough to make him willingly test the fiery waters of eternity. And the mixture had clearly been a success, for now the boy’s heart was a nervous flutter that was visible beneath the frail flesh of his scarred and ribbon lined throat. “I wish not to be perfect,” he replied softly, his lips half muffled. The position put him in a disadvantage, for when the bat’s tongue touched his chilled flesh the boy startled like a forest hare. He expected teeth, he expected torn flesh, and the soft gasp of relief that escaped his throat was miserably thankful for some semblance of gentleness.

    The fox-featured boy was soothed in that moment of stillness, lids heavy again, his breath a gently rattling whisper. Then at the call of his name he became sharp, and his thin cat-like pupils darted solemnly up toward his master. The boy’s brow furrowed in grim recollection, the murky patches beneath his eyes intensified somehow through the renewed illumination that cast his features into heavy relief.

    He was quiet for some time, the muscles of his throat flexing, his lips parted and rasping breath much louder, and quite noticeably tense. Finally, and reluctantly, he found his tongue. “It was... the... it was the lies, Monsieur?” He sounded tentative, in need of encouragement, for his thoughts were deeply troubled, and nerves made for an unbecoming lack of confidence. Beyond that, the parts of him that remembered his roots found such a confession to be torture, and they ached and groaned like old scars. The omen curled the tip of his tongue over the rows of jagged, demonic teeth in order to reflect, and prompt him onwards.
    “And I would not... relinquish her ... what was not mine... to you.” He shivered suddenly, much too hard, and winced as his wounds sang their sweet song of pain. Visions were unearthed to him; fragments of scent, shards sparked fire in his eyes and made his upper lip curl; tremors that threatened terse words and seething sentiments. But those lips merely twitched with awful, hurt amusement, a smile to rival any long standing Bedlam inmate. He could not stand to draw the vampire’s wrath to him a second a time, if ever again.

    “I disrespected you... I was... bad,” he limped on, his exhausted body desperate to gain favour, where before it had gained such malice. “...Mon maître.

    And when it seemed he had given all he could, the youth arched his neck, sought to lift his skull a little upright despite screech of pain that tore through his spine. Fabien’s eyes were wide as gleaming mirrors, the muscles beneath his smooth, stretched skin seeming to tremble beneath the weight of his words. “Suis-je ....pardonné?”
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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Tariq on Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:06 am

    --"You aren't meant to like it." Tariq's voice was liquid shadow, resounding with the lonely gravitas of a pipe organ. His long fingers idly stroked the boy's unruly hair as one would a favoured pet, pressing the sharp curve of his wan cheek further into the bat's chest.

    He was still in the silence as the omen mutely contemplated his answer. The only indication of the life stubbornly fluttering through his veins was the stirring of his reassuring fingers against the boy's skull and the subtle tension of his ribs at every gentle breath. He was a grotesque statue of boundless patience, his hair like a splash of silver moonlight.

    He remained silent as the boy hesitatingly began. The only reassurance he offered the questioning tone was a cajoling tilt of his head that suggested he continue. His dark eyes broke the dim light into a thousand shivering shards like a shattered mirror beneath which all manner of nightmarish creatures lurked as he listened, his fingers stilled through the omen's hair.

    The tip of his fingers were gentle as they soothed over the marred flesh his tongue had touched. Without warning, a single, hard claw sang over the jagged line of an inflamed wound seared into the curve of his back, coaxing a melody of startled pain from exhausted nerves.

    "It was the lies," he agreed in a voice like smoke. He was nearly purring as his claw drew over the next wound.

    "And refusing to relinquish what was not yours." The curl of the omen's back against Tariq's leg hid most of his wounds, and the bat was forced to begin at the first injury nearest his shoulder, the tip of his claw searing over webbed flesh trying so desperately to heal.

    "You disrespected me." Another abrupt twist, another bright burst of agony. "And you were very bad." His claw tensed as though preparing to pluck at the final wound, but instead his idle hand took the back of the omen's skull and lifted his head to meet his lips. His mouth was hot and hungry and tasted faintly of copper. He pulled away and allowed the boy's head to fall back against his leg, his serpentine tongue licking his dark lips with profound satisfaction.

    The vampire's black lips twisted into the gnarled roots of a smile at the pleading question. "Non." His voice was gentle, casual, despite the bite concealed thinly in it. "Not yet."

    "Do you think you deserve forgiveness so soon, my pet? I've only just reminded your errant flesh to whom it belongs, but you demand forgiveness as well?" There was a sudden movement of heavy wings in the darkness, his sharp claws looming with hungry, predatory patience over the omen. His voice was as soft as the satin fringe that shaded his dark eyelids. "I don't know that you could survive your repentance tonight. Shall we try it?" Although the faint hint of a mocking barb was stamped indelibly into the question, his tone left little doubt that he expected an answer.
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    Fabien

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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Fabien on Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:12 pm

    Fabien found the initial softness in the bat’s gesture wretchedly comforting. Softness promised serenity, and some semblance of healing for a body and mind that so craved it. He had no choice. He could not turn aside with hissing throat and blazing eyes. Not when he desired nothing more than kindness, and had never thought to seek it from the bat before. But his mind lingered not on anything that would seduce the fires of his hatred back into flame, and his frailty made him exceptionally still and well mannered. He had thought to bestow such pleasure with the tentative rasp of his confession. He had thought to further soothe the terrible creature that he now reclined against like a shivering hare left half dead, to appease this predator so perpetually hungry for his despair.

    This black hearted boy, this vessel of misfortune despised being wrong. It was the bitterest of tastes,

    The youth's wasted body shivered with pain, such pain. He could not recall a time before it, nor certainly envisage a life where it did not colour his existence. The wasted cage of his ribs pushed unpleasantly forward to the surface of his grey skin as his chest tightened, blackened lungs seeking to deny him air in their most hostile fashion. The omen could not fathom how he managed to speak still, wheezing miserably as he was.

    The stretch of his skin screeched red and raw with displeasure as the vampire pulled his skull upright, and stole the remainder of his breath. The boy pulled back against him, away, shamelessly terrified. His eyes were ablaze, two trembling flares above a midnight sea, beyond help and salvation. “Uhh... no... more...” he begged breathily against the bat’s lips, drawing air back into his needful flesh in a jolting gasp, his skeletal fingers creeping imploringly up the dark rise of his chest to curl and knot themselves in shadowy fur.

    Fabien flinched at the blunt response. He despised delay; he had not the endurance and certainly no further patience left and it was felt in the disappointed stirring of his entire body.“Oui.... Monsieur... no more...” the boy rasped, nodding slowly at first, then continuously, obsessively.

    “Forgive... s’il vous plaít, forgive,” the omen groaned back. He flinched a second time, the slightest motion of the vampire’s body arousing a fresh flare of terror through him. The dark splinters of his pupils were suddenly lifted upwardly, fused upon the vampire’s own blind sight. He sought for some insight into what those words might entail, some glimmer of what they might mean for him.
    “Repentance?” The youth croaked softly, his voice weary with pain shrouded confusion “I don’t...”

    “What... kind of repentance? ...Monsieur... please, what do I have to do. I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it and I’m sorry. Let me make it better, I can make it better.” The fox-featured boy’s fingers tightened upon the handful of fur they clutched, pulling gently, imploring as his terrified babbling continued. Surely it was enough to be sorry. Fabien had never been filled with any remorse before, not in all his long, careless years. Yet now, he regretted all, he regretted his very existence.
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    Tariq
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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Tariq on Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:04 am

    --Tariq gathered the boy’s hands from their gentle tugging at his fur as one would a child’s. He held them softly between his palms like a trembling sparrow, the tensed ligaments and thin, shivering bones secure between the clawed steeple of his long fingers. If this wasn’t enough to quiet the omen’s fearful gibbering, surely the sudden, impatient motion of wings that gathered themselves up in fastidious clots of wicked shadow above them would still his tongue. They demanded silence.

    “Not tonight.” His tone had been bleached of any tenderness, leaving behind a finality as unsympathetic as the ivory of his exposed teeth. “You are only sorry when your flesh still sings such pretty aubades for me. You haven’t earned forgiveness just yet. Soon, soon, perhaps.”

    His grasp on the thin wrists between his claws tightened. “But not just yet.” The snap of his canines in the gloom severed the words from his throat as neatly as any guillotine.

    “This is what you are going to do, little one—“ The vampire’s voice dipped to a deadly volume, each word sharp enough to flay skin. “You are going to remain here until you are able to walk. I advise you find the strength soon, for the nights are long in my darkness and you are apt to suffer them with hungry teeth and empty stomach.” He released the omen’s hands from the cage of his fingers to stroke the curve of his ashen cheek with the tip of a claw in blind contemplation.

    The silence stretched wearily on. The bat’s fingers stirred lazily along the omen’s jaw, stroking the bones through taut skin.

    “Once you can stand on your own, you are free to do as you will.” The rasp of his voice broke through the darkness like the tip of an alligator’s cold snout disturbing calm waters. “However, you will not sleep anywhere but within these walls.” He paused and cocked his skull, strands of errant hair slithering down his chest as one sightless eye mutely mused over the omen curled between his thighs. “This door is open to you until I wish otherwise. Should you forget and find rest in some grimy crevasse, I fear the result will be severe; I can’t imagine I have to remind you what it is to be chained and forgotten.” Venom rolled over his serpentine tongue. "And I cannot imagine you are so hopeless as to believe that I won't know."

    The bat’s long spine curved to allow his black-stained lips to deliver his final, hushed words into the shard of a vulpine ear. “Do you understand me, Fabien?”
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    Fabien

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    Re: Act II - They found mud in his stomach and ashes in his teeth

    Post  Fabien on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:04 am

    Fabien’s fingers stiffened within the bat’s hold. They did not lose their desperation, but became twisted and arthritic in their clawed grasp, until eventually they stilled and no longer sought something to cling to. His breathing however was not so quickly calmed, and it continued on ragged and sickly though his voice had fallen quiet. Regardless, the bat had the omen’s full and rapt attention, and also his absolute silence. The weak flicker of light from deep within the youth’s skull focused somewhere on the movement of the vampire’s lips as he spoke, and instructed. Slowly the omen’s muscles began to settle again, to relax, although it was not through peace of mind that they did so. Disappointment was there, just beneath his skin, the yearnings of a trapped animal with freedom further delayed. When his hands were free, the youth withdrew them to his chest, rubbed his twig like fingertips over and over themselves in slow, troubled patterns.

    Their motion only ceased when it occurred to him that he had been granted his freedom or a shadow of it at least. But better a shadow than nothing at all, and he would take what he could. The boy began to start somewhat, to jolt with chin lifted and eyes a little more luminous than they had been before. And he began to stir against the bat’s thighs, his aged, yellow joints cracking like an old wanderer keen to resume his lonely path. It would have been impossible at that point to even attempt to drag his injured body close to the doorway, but he writhed as though he felt he could make it so. Such habits were hard to die. Those futile preparations for flight did not last long, and soon his eyes began to dim like dying candles as the vampire’s rules began to encase his movements like iron bars.

    The omen was quiet for some time after being asked for confirmation and his fleshless fingers resumed their pattern of strange, self comforting caress. He did not wish to linger here with frequency, not here in the dark where he had nothing to protect him. Where he was alone, and vulnerable, and the floor smelt of his blood. Not before, and certainly not now, when he felt every weakness in his heart open like unlocked doors. It had become dangerous here for other reasons now, and the parts of him that recalled the past, whispered their warnings into his soul. But his lips parted, and he gave his answer... slow, and wheezing though it was. “Back here... back to you...” The boy paused tentatively again, lifted his head somewhat, and drew his eyes toward the bat’s blind gaze in the same wavering need for reassurance that he heard correctly. He needed to be right. And if it was given, he would continue, speaking the words softly as though with a desire to embed them somewhere in between the shattered glass of his mind. “Back to your darkness,” he rasped with a voice heavy with lingering remnant of suffering.

    Then, finally, with head bowed a little forward, he whispered.

    “Oui, Monsieur. Je comprends.”

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