Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Dead Men and the Vampire

Terukin awoke with his fingers buried in one man's throat, and his fangs buried in another's. He could feel his victim's blood burning its way up his arm, drawn in through the shadowy claws on his fingertips. The blood that poured down his throat was a river of fire, gathering in his belly and spreading slowly out from there. His heart, shocked at being made to work again, throbbed painfully in his chest. He could feel his body filling out again, from a withered almost-skeleton to a fully-fleshed man. His shadow stirred within him, sacrificing a little of the newly-taken blood for a small working to drain the two men completely.

There was a battle nearby. Outside, he thought, becoming aware of the thick stone walls around him. In the hall outside. He released his two victims and they fell, withered husks in their gleaming armor. There was a sword in his chest; Terukin put a hand around the hilt and pulled it free. His shadow moved again, feeding more blood into a healing, and the wound closed seamlessly and painlessly. Outside, men screamed and fell; in the small stone room, Terukin glanced briefly over the sword and took his bearings.

The blade was enchanted, though not strongly; he thought it would keep itself strong and sharp, and perhaps do a little more damage than plain steel. The room was plain, the stone walls smooth but unadorned, and the stone block behind him might have been intended as a bench, an altar, or anything else. It wasn't his crypt; he didn't recognize it. He didn't see any of his possessions, and he didn't see any clothes.

A woman kicked off the wall outside and sprang into the room, pushing off the side of the doorway with one hand as she changed directions. She was impossibly fast, and Terukin heard his shadow whisper, Vampire?. She was holding a spear, but she skidded to a stop at the sight of Terukin standing and the two dead men at his feet. She had the white skin and red eyes of a vampire, beneath a tangle of black hair; and the slender build as well. She was short, only coming up to his ribs, but that meant less than nothing; anyone who could move that fast was dangerous. He stepped back, raising his captured blade, but the spear disappeared as the woman spun it around; she raised her hand and took two steps backwards, watching him cautiously. That puzzled him: Terukin had never seen a vampire show that much awareness. He'd never seen a vampire show anything but hunger and fury.

She said something, a single word that he didn't recognize, surprising him again. Vampire, his shadow insisted, pushing forward and trying to extend itself, wanting desperately to kill her. The woman didn't wait, though. She spun around and lunged back out the door, disappearing in the same terrible rush of speed in which she'd arrived. What did she say? he wondered. Wait? Follow? Hide? Flee? Hello? Intrigued, he followed.