Recommended reading on WriteHere: Kahi’s Chalice – http://wh.tl/151113-3
Source: Kahi’s Chalice
The taste of her blood was bitter and cool on his tongue, and his jaw clenched.
It was in that moment he knew she was fully aware of what he’d done, and in his eagerness, he played right into her trap.
He made no sound, and she did not stir.
A contest of wills, then.
The aftertaste was sweet like raw honey, and his spine tingled as the sugar infected his blood.
His stomach roiled, but it was too late.
What did you do to me, Janyris?
Her father stood there, mute, dumbfounded that she would walk out on him.
“Janyris, who will take care of me?”
“Mother has taken lovers from the Underworld; you have choices, father. Exercise them. I will not stay here tending you in your dotage, I don’t want her crown, and I have my own life to live.”
Her father’s voice was gruff from grief. “How have you come to be so selfish?”
“In much the same manner as you came to be impotent: gradually.”
“Your mother, it seems, was a whore at heart. They are voracious creatures.”
“Mother enjoys sex; that does not make her a whore. She married you, and had none before you. Whatever perverse delights you introduced to her, she took a liking, and has now chosen to indulge.”
He hung his head, remembering those long, lust-filled nights when his own voraciousness had exhausted them both.
“Go then, and return not. I will die alone.”
She gave him a pitying look, reinforcing his.
“And you will die unloved; that’s what truly sad.”
She closed the door on him, and jumped as an axe blade split the door, heard him roaring damnation at her, the power of his words seeking to bind around her soul, and she felt them hit, and soak in. Her heart twisted in her chest, and doubling over, she retched,
Staggering out into the sun filled day, wiping her mouth on the sleeve of her gown, struggling to breathe, she began running, her father’s curse on her life pursuing her, running effortlessly alongside, filling her ears with mocking wrath.
“Is that what brought our paths together, dear Janyris: I in you, and you in me, in a way far more intimate than physical love?
“We hold each other’s strings now, and the better puppet master will win this fight.”
What a tawdry, common life. No wonder she fled.”
He returned to his own tower, the effects of her blood still at work in him, not quite making him intoxicated, but doing things to him that he remembered distantly feeling as a mortal.
His walk was unsteady, and he was shivering, but he felt flushed with heat.
Rest, I need to rest.
He stumbled, and grabbed a lamppost, sagging, but trying to pull himself up.
In reaching out, he saw his skin was changing, the veins prominent and shades of bruises against his flesh.
The tower was too far away, and the sky was turning pale.
He saw lights begin to come on in windows, for those who had to start early.
If they saw him, if they called the authorities…
With the last of his remaining strength, he saw an alley up ahead, and as his vision blurred, he shuffled past a couple of vagrants already in occupancy.
No one will pay attention to me here, except these vagrants, but I’ve nothing to steal, and they can’t murder me.
There was cardboard, dirty, wet, and doubtless crawling with things.
The alley, being what it was, and where, reeked of things best not considered.
Covering himself as best he could, the infection took him under, and what it would do, for good or ill, he would not know until he was awake again.
It’s like a virus.
Then it came to him, her new name, partly what she’d done, partly to show ownership of her. It was a term used by the young when something was widespread in their world of technology.
Vy Rill. That will be my name for her, and I will make her embrace it, and me, until fate claims us both.
The illness pulled his eyelids down; darkness took him under to let the infection have its way, and he had one final thought before he surrendered.
I will be a new creation.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr. 2015
She was very much aware of his presence, though her body had been sleeping.
He did not realize that there was nothing he could do to her that she did not allow, for as he smeared her blood across his fingertips and tasted her, a thread of his dead spirit filtered in through her, and initially corrupted, then enhanced her nature.
Enduring the sickness, she did not let him see her tremble, and through some miracle, managed to hold her gorge.
He was not merely old, but ancient, and smelled of the dust and bones of ancient catacombs long buried and forgotten.
She also felt the essence of his lust, a thin, light band of energy over the corruption; she saw the faces of women, lovely and in their physical prime, saw the bodies writhing beneath him, grinding over him, and what he did with them when it was over.
Multiple abattoirs dotted the landscape where he’d been at work.
She made a silent vow to avenge them all.
“Janyris,” said her father, “this dabbling in things mortal is not for you; it will come to no good end. You must be ready to ascend your station when your mother passes.”
For awhile, she complied, and played the dutiful daughter until her mother actually passed, not in the traditional sense; she merely went to the underworld and never returned.
Her father was suspect that she had gone voluntarily, to be with the gods that dwelt there, but he dared not go after her, for fear of finding out if that were true.
He’d been a good father, but as to husband, Janyris couldn’t say.
She left too, unannounced, unsuspected, and left her father to fend for himself, and find succor where he would.
She observed the mortals for awhile, creatures of habit, and routine, much like ants and migratory birds, scattering in panics when crisis came, then banding together to rally and rebuild, if they could.
They were boring, but she admired their tenacity to survive and keep their mundane species in existence.
In time, they came to amuse her, and she was content to meddle in minor ways, until one day, she saw something that piqued her interest, and went into a deeper world.
A small boy was sleeping, the moonlight soft on his innocent face, and she saw a shadow in his room detach itself, and come to stand by his bed.
Its eyes were open, and a pale violet shade.
She grew intrigued, and looked closer.
The shadow reeked of death and evil; she dared draw no closer, lest it sense her presence; indeed, it had already looked up at the ceiling twice, sensing something, and she wasn’t sure she’d hidden in time, but as it didn’t pursue her, she knew she wasn’t seen.
This was the sort of being that killed when discovered.
He took the boy’s hand, and pricked the skin of his index finger with a long nail of his own.
The child thrashed under his covers, then grew still, and the shadow retreated.
As the sun rose, the boy’s body simply dissipated, skin melting into bone melting into the dust motes in the light of the morning sun, and his body simply drifted apart, his soul taken and his flesh removed.
The parents were in agony, and did not last long together, and in their isolation, grew despondent, and died not long thereafter.
She wanted to go to them, but she dared not.
Then came the fateful night they met, and she made her vow in front of him.
He saw the glimmer of something in her, and showed his true face, and she knew in that moment she had him.
And now he was a part of her, and she of him.
It was going to be glorious fight.
Ah, my dear Rillion, you don’t know what you’ve done. Taking your soul will redeem my own, and the damnation that awaits you is beyond description.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr. 2015
By the light of a single candle, she lay sleeping.
He knew from what she’d told him before that the glow made her feel warm inside, the color and motion of the flame always pleased her eyes; she’d fallen asleep watching it.
High above, the moon shone what light it could from the cratered crescent slice hanging in the heavens.
Her raven braids, thin and intricate, languished across the pillow that cradled her head.
Her honey brown skin glistened with amber highlights.
He looked at her form, outlined in the covers; it was curvy and full, and if he’d still been mortal, he’d have found himself stirred as in the days of old.
She was beautiful, but it wasn’t enough; she was good, kind, loving, even-tempered, patient, and loyal.
Long were the months he watched her, through seasons, through years, past her first decade, just short of her full second. He observed her almost daily then, interacting with the people in her life. The times she lost her temper, her composure, and control were rare, but she was human, after all, and he’d seen those times as well.
Even then, she would not lash out; she would cry and rail and scream, but she never hurt anyone, or anything. For the most part, she carried out her tantrums in the privacy of her room.
In his last choosing, he’d chosen an exceptional girl; she’d been so in every way, but he soon found there was nothing to mold, nowhere for him to begin to groom her for who she was to become.
Her inherent arrogance, combined with her beauty and her newly bestowed gifts, made her insufferable, and in the end, in a violent, savage act, he took her life.
This girl, while above average, would prove to be more pliable; her heart was naturally giving, and that would be to his advantage.
He was indeed grateful they’d evolved; no longer the red, messy biting and tearing, however subtle and sublime, of tender flesh, warm to the touch, the coppery ambrosia of life flowing into, and down, sating hunger, inciting passion, as lips, teeth and tongue formed a trifecta of perfect murder, picturesque deaths.
Now, he had but to take her hand, so he did.
She didn’t wake, but stirred, undulating under the covers, a soft little moan on her sweet lips. She instinctively pulled her hand back, and he let it go.
The deed was done. The pinprick of his fingernail had drawn her blood in through the flesh pads of his fingers. He smeared her blood across them, felt the warmth of it, saw the soul-glow inside of it.
He licked his index finger and almost swooned at the taste. It was tempting to take more than he needed with this one. Her blood was as sweet as her personality, but he refrained.
There was something else in her blood,, something he didn’t expect.
There would be others to draw from soon, and he would have his fill, but this one was special.
He’d met her years ago as a child, and there was something in her eyes that recognized him for what he was, yet she’d shown no fear.
She was enchanting, until she told him something that piqued his curiosity.
“I’m going to kill you one day.”
A pinprick of rage briefly altered his features into the demonic, but it was only a flash.
She was the only one who saw it, and she grinned.
He saw the red glimmer of the seed in her eyes as she looked at him, and vowed he’d come back for her.
This was that time; he was calling her to him, and would mark her as his.
If she could still kill him after that, it would be no small feat; her power would be great indeed.
Greater than his.
And that, he could not allow.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr. 2015
The day came, bright and clear, though snow remained in the mountain passes.
Arlun had to admit that he was nervous, but he dared not let it show. His parents and siblings were counting on him, and he needed to concentrate. He still wasn’t quite sure how it all happened, but it had, and he was to be wed by the end of the month.
The travel would take a week, the preparations the remaining two; his family would be sent for and conveyed with the utmost care and reverence due their new station.
He shook his head. It had all come about so suddenly….
The soldiers had pushed the crowds to the sides with the weapons and the large flanks of angry stallions. As the people scrambled aside to avoid the royal procession, a dog, feral, rabid, and scrounging in the alleys had somehow found its way to the merchants’ district.
In the air, it caught the high scent of fresh meat, and foam pattered in droplets from its mouth as it ran, snarling with anticipation and starvation. It burst out of the alley and snapped at the legs of the people standing aside, who began to jump and scream at the new threat that came suddenly behind them.
Unheeding of the forest of human legs that sought to entangle it, it broke through just as one of the smaller horses, a pearl colored mare, was passing by; leaping onto a haunch, the dog savaged the flesh, a spout of red staining the white haired beast with calico spatters of blood before the animal reared and wheeled, screaming at the sudden flash of pain, tossing its rider, a slender girl, from its back to sprawl in an undignified heap on the cobblestone street.
Arlun reacted without thought, and rushed forward to pull the young girl to her feet and take her out of harm’s way as her guard’s dealt with the more immediate threat of the dog.
Her personal guard, however, had seen Arlun, and gave pursuit, now thinking this was a kidnapping ploy. She ran hard into him and sent him sprawling; in a flash she’d straddled him and punched him in the gut twice as his face reddened and his breath fled. With him immobilized for the moment, she got up and let him roll around on the ground to catch his breath, and turned to the girl.
“Are you well, Nahaia?”
“I am, Zarai, thanks to this young man.”
“He was not taking you?”
“Only out of the path of the horses. You did well; you did not know.”
“Help him up.”
Zarai went over, brought Arlun to his feet, still looking him over suspiciously.
By now a crowd had gathered about them, and some of the guards bustled through.
The mangled dog corpse was burning in the middle of the street, and the procession stopped.
“In a moment, Najiu; I have not properly thanked this young merchant boy for saving my life.”
The guard stepped back, and Nahaia went over to Arlun, took off one of her gold armbands, a single ruby in its center, and gave it to him.
“Your Highness,” Arlun said, stunned at the gift, his parents and siblings looking wide eyed over his shoulder. He was going to say he couldn’t take it, but realized that would be an insult, so he knelt, and looked at the ground, as did his family.
“You do me too much honor.”
“Perhaps,” Nahaia said, with a mischievous grin, “but consider it an invite to the palace; my father will want to show his gratitude, as do I. This is neither the time nor place. Tell me your name.”
“I will expect you within the month, Arlun. This bauble will only be good until then. If you do not come, I will send Zarai back to extract it from you; the journey to this part of my father’s kingdom is long, if not unpleasant, but still, she may not be polite about it since she will be traveling far.”
“I will be there, your Highness.” His eyes remained on the ground.
To his surprise, she lifted his chin with her finger and favored him with a smile; her eyes were big and brown and beautiful, and his heart quickened as his cheeks flamed.
“I will be most disappointed if you are not, Arlun.”
They turned to go, and Zarai shot him a look of cool disdain, her lips in a mocking, knowing sneer, but knowing what, Arlun couldn’t say.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
Nothing made my day brighter in high school than when there was a game pending, and the cheerleaders would walk around the school in their outfits, pleasant distractions from the daily drudge of learning. They carried themselves like queens, however, and we males would smile and nod and greet, trying not to ogle, and then wipe the sweat and drool from our faces when they passed. One of them happened to be in my homeroom, and in she walked, strong, shapely legs in a short skirt, and all the bells and whistles in my heart rang with adoration, and not a little lust, but I was tongue-tied around pretty girls, like most nerds.
She was a nerd too, with aspirations of being a writer, so the yearbook said when we graduated, but she was also a cheerleader: popular, pretty, capable of breaking hearts with a dismissive swish of the hand, and I was a tragic figure, secretly in love (and not a little lust) hiding my feelings.
Then, one bright magic morning, in her cheerleader outfit, she approached me, and I felt the stupid grin spreading, willing it to go away, and making it worse. And then she smiled at me! I was, for whatever reason, deemed worthy of her smile.
And then it got better: she spoke to me. If it had been manly to swoon, I would have done so on the spot.
“Alfred, did you do the homework for English class?”
In the midst of controlling my swoon, I thought: Who doesn’t do homework for English class? But I replied that I had.
“Can you let me borrow it; I didn’t get the chance to do it.”
Chivalry, thy name is Alfred. I produced it, and handed it to her, thinking again: We’re both in the honors class; surely she knows how to paraphrase and make it her own.
At lunchtime she gave me back my homework, and later that afternoon, I submitted it to Mr. D. He was my favorite English teacher, a large man with a droll and deadly wit. He wore Van Dyke whiskers, and had the memory of a herd of elephants. I took several elements of style from him in my own career later on, though I never got to tell him.
The following day, he distributed the homework back, and on mine was a bright red ‘D’ with the comment: “Who copied from whom?” He looked at me askance, and said nothing, and I took the paper in a silence of my own, thinking “How did she screw this up?”
Class was taught, and then over, but since he was my favorite teacher and LOVED my writing, encouraging me often to pursue it, even up to the time I graduated, I felt I owed him an apology. Here’s what came out:
“Mr. D, I deserve this grade for what happened, but really? You should know who copied from whom.”
His laughter boomed as he nodded, and said “Okay. That’s what I thought.”
I walked away, restored to myself, the spell of the cheerleader broken forever. Until she signed my yearbook.
Wearing her cheerleader outfit.
It started again.
That damn twinge of melancholy that quivered
in her everytime she saw a leaf fall.
How she hated the cold months.
Coming with their inevitable fury, trapping her.
She would bundle up, drink coffee, anything to try and stay warm.
But somehow, they always got through her defenses.
Catching her up with their swirling winds, nipping at her.
She would take flight.
And they would follow.
And she would find herself naked and alone in a blasting wind of white
attacking the bare trees and stubborn pines,
and they would laugh at her.
She was trapped again.
Caught up in the majesty of it. Calling her.
Haunted by the wind’s lyrical melodies. Calling her.
She would reach, and touch, and feel and taste the snow,
laughing with all the giddiness and abandon of the little girl she once was,
the wind wildly tossing her hair, and she would say, very softly:
And the winds would die.
And the snow would drift gently.
And the stars would glitter tranquilly in
She was held in reverence here.
They always had to remind her.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr.
Winter Woods / Day of the Dark Full Moon (compilation)
December 10th, 1983
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