He had suffered greatly at the hands of the merciless stranger who had invaded his cell and cleaved what he liked from his shivering flesh. His pale skin was mottled with the rose-rot reds and purples of fresh bruising, welts risen in darkened coins where the skin lay too close to the jut of bone. His thin wrists were blackened and raw from his frantic escape attempts against coarse rope. The stranger’s sharp mouth had coaxed puckered wounds to rise from the curve of his hip, his shoulder and, of course, the dreadful slashes across his throat where he had taken his blood.
These were not yet closed and the skin was ghastly white where it rose against the edges of the injury. Flecks of dried blood still clung to his neck in patches of rust. The stranger had taken - drank - enough of the boy’s blood to deplete his veins dangerously. His heart would be sure to feel the deficit.
His body was coated in filth, his hair matted in strands along the back of his neck. He was entirely naked - the remnants of his rags were gone, and he was clad only in grime and bruises. His innards were apt to be as raw and bruised as his pain-dappled skin.
This wretched creature was no longer in the bed to which he had been chained. He had been transported from one to another; this new bed, however, was clearly not within the same dingy brothel. For one, it was luxuriously soft. The boy’s thin body sank into it, leaving an impression like the scoop of a fox within her den. For another, this room was all wrong. It was dark and cool, like the heart of a cave. Wan light bled in, stained a mysterious, arterial red that flushed the walls crimson.
The boy would not have much of an opportunity to further investigate the room. The dark curtains of the bed in which he rested had been drawn, enclosing him in a space not entirely unlike that of a crypt. All he could glimpse was a streak of scarlet in the gap between ashy fabric.
Around the boy’s slender waist, slung with nonchalant ease, was an arm. The arm was attached to a shape at his back that stirred with gentle breathing. The stranger’s cruel mouth was near enough the back of the boy’s neck for him to feel the warmth of his breath fluttering along the skin. Blankets obscured much of his body but his torso was bare where it pressed into the boy’s back. It appeared he was, for the moment, lost to sleep.
There was one final indignity the boy would discover upon awaking. His every movement was haunted by the faintly sweet tinkling of bells. The boy was nude - save for the thin bands of bells around his slender ankles. They were no doubt a parting gift from the establishment from which he had just been sprung. The steel links of the chain appeared sturdy and resistant to prying and a small lock on each end suggested they would not be removed without a key.