#1441

If you want me, oh summer king, oh golden lord, then come and seek me; cast off your heavy silks, your rings of amber and tigers eye, and go slumming in the dark places; I am waiting for you in those cold depths, crowned in funereal ashes and buried in shadow, exhaling smoke with every deathslumber breath; take my cold hand, brother, if you do not fear the grave, and draw me out of this purgatory; resurrect your winter lord.

#1439

Dear Tanim and Daren,

Yeah. Hi. Remember me? Your faithful, humble scribe? The one who’s devoted her entire existence to chronicling your endless, messed up lives? The one who’s been available to you 24/7/365 for the past twelve years?

Right. That one. Good. Now that I’ve jogged your memory a bit, I just have a quick question for you both…

What. The fuck. Is going on here?

Seriously. Virtually no contact for, what, two months now? Three? What exactly have you been up to in that time? Are you on a fucking vacation or something and just happened to forget to leave a note? I’m not running a shitty poetry blog here; you have to give me something to work with so I can stop vomiting out bad haiku. That’s the deal, isn’t it? You do your thing, fuck or fight or whine, I don’t really care, and I write it all down. That’s the deal.

Let me be straight with you: It is way too fucking hot for you bitchy motherfuckers to go full on radio silence on me. I know it’s always angsty-rain-clouds where you are, but over here we’re having what you call a god dammed heat wave and I am way. too. hot. to keep playing nice.

So here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna get your shit together and start giving me something to write or I swear to every god in the multiverse that I will straight up unleash the insane pirate elf on you. Don’t make me get Mage involved; you know that bitch is just itching for a fight. So do the right thing and nobody gets hurt any more than they respectively enjoy being hurt.

Finally, in closing:

Love,

The Scribe

#1437

[ A small sampling of the songs that remind me strongly of Tanim, Daren, and Mage. ]

Tanim:

Battle for the Sun – Placebo
Run to You – Pentatonix
Protoge Moi – Placebo
Gold Guns Girls – Metric
Lost in the Shadows – The Lost Boys
I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Deathcab for Cutie
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – The Eurythmics
Every You Every Me – Placebo
Say Something – A Great Big World
Love Me Broughte – The Medieval Baebes

Daren:

Broken Promise – Placebo
Cold (But I’m Still Here) – Evans Blue
Lonely Ghosts – O+S
Mykonos – Fleet Foxes
Running Up That Hill – Placebo
The World – Yuki Kajiura
The Pit – Silversun Pickups
To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens
The Bitter End – Placebo
Dirty Knife – Neko Case

Mage:

Dead Men Tell No Tales – Muppet Treasure Island
Brand New Day – Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Bedlam Boys – traditional
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Hysteria – Muse
Inner Universe – Ghost in the Shell
Resident Evil Main Theme – Rob Zombie
Team – Lorde
Love Song – Snake River Conspiracy
Exile – Enya

#1431

Tanim’s hands shake as he wedges the knife blade beneath the edge of the capsule’s seal. He draws in a slow, steadying breath before working the blade back and forth enough to slide one half of the capsule free, and a teaspoon of white powder rains down to join the contents of the other pills already emptied into the steaming cup of tea. A swirl of the spoon dissolves the powder, leaving nothing behind to betray any hint of the drink’s addition. Cup in hand, he pushes open the bedroom door and moves through the warm gloom to sit at the edge of the bed. Its occupant doesn’t stir at the motion, nor the light streaming in from the hallway. Only Tanim’s hand shaking his shoulder with a murmured, “Daren, darling, wake up,” draws him from an exhausted sleep. Glassy eyes deep within sunken sockets roll up to meet Tanim’s and Daren wets dry, cracked lips before rasping, “Morning. I think.”

“Something like that,” Tanim smiles weakly, grateful his face is half hidden in shadow. He’s never been able to lie to Daren, even when absolutely necessary. He holds out the cup of tea and urges, “You should drink something, love.” Daren frowns, staring at the proffered drink as if not immediately comprehending his lover’s words. Then he shakes his head, a minute gesture of dismissal while muttering, “You know I can’t keep anything down.” Nor has he for days now, the older man knows all too well. Still… “Please,” Tanim pleads, the word barely a breath, so desperate is he to keep any note of worry or guilt from his voice. “Just one cup. For me?”

Daren’s frown deepens and his eyes narrow, bright and focused now, searching Tanim’s gaze for a silent moment. Whatever he reads there must decide him; he levers himself up to a sitting position, a soft hiss his only acknowledgment of the pain even simple movement causes, and reaches out one skeletal hand. “For you.” He brings the cup to his lips, meeting Tanim’s eyes once more over its trembling rim as if in challenge – or submission – then downs the contents in one swallow.

Tanim catches his companion as Daren slumps forward, the cup clattering from limp fingers.

#1429 – Summer Solstice

high above the city, the world, if it must be done then just let it be done spoken with a weary sigh to the chill night, silent night, one way or another, what does it matter? holiest night and the sun long set, where is the sun? by my hand or his, blood or bruises, or just one simple step off this edge no sun, just the darkness and the wind tugging at hair, fingers, clothing like a lover’s supplication but I don’t want simple, not this time gentle yet insistent, urging him to take that one step into oblivion no, I want to fight, I want to rebel, even if it means falling I just want to live a different kind of lover’s supplication as the hand closes around his wrist, if you fight, I fight at your side and the wind picks up, fate demanding submission to the ritual death, howling for blood, how dare they defy? but I choose the dawn not this time, not this night, destiny denied as the Moon steps down and the Sun releases his wrist, kneeling in allegiance, adoration and abdication, and I choose you, always

 

[ I have a number of new followers, so to those of you who are new to my characters, here! Have a tragic solstice myth! ]

#1423

Sir,

There is much to say, and no knowledge of how to say it. Forgive me for the lack of focus. I only hope you finish reading this knowing I am in your debt.

Much of my life has been spent struggling with this feeling, like a secret bursting at the seams to be told, but coupled with so much fear of getting caught that, ultimately, the secret dies in the keeper’s throat.

One year ago, I began to feel different. The fluttering was still there, oh yes, but it had moved from my throat to my chest. It felt like I was being torn apart on the inside, ventricle by valve. So what did I do? I fought, of course. The loneliness had been safely harnessed in my throat, effectively silencing me my whole life. Suddenly, the animal wanted out. I couldn’t let it. Because if I did let it out, there’d be nothing left inside me, and I already felt so hollow.

This was when I made a decision. I chose to let things happen. I opened my cage and closed my eyes and waited for the parades of tourists to mock the botched pieces that composed me.

But something happened that, in all my emphasis of claiming I knew myself, surprised me: I wanted someone. A girl. A girl I’d never met. A girl whose words flowed through my veins in place of blood. And the more I fought it, the deeper she got. I pulled away, but it was as thought I had bound myself to her, and she had no choice but to follow.

You know of whom I speak.

She is as valuable to you as you are to her, whether or not you are aware of it. She often speaks about you and your mate as though she owes her life to the two of you. I’d never tell her otherwise… but I wonder how much you two realize that she is vital to you. Yes, you two would live on regardless… but she has been nothing but a faithful servant. Please don’t think me insensitive. I know that you at least acknowledge her and the role she plays in your existence. But as her mate, it bears repeating.

You and I share a bond: we both serve the one we love. And perhaps that’s all I needed to say. My hand desperately had to write this, to write to you. I feel close to you in a way I’ve never felt close to anyone before. Do you think that means we owe something to one another?

There’s more, other things to say that, in time, will be said. But for now, it’s enough to thank you for this gift you’ve given me.

I trust we’ll speak soon.

I remain,

Chriselle

- – -

Little Flame,

Love bites. Love bruises. Beware.

I will not dissuade you from your path – it is mine as well, after all, and you no more chose to walk it than I did. But be cautious in your footing and do not rush overlong when you have yet to see what waits beyond the turn. Step lightly.

You are right: we have much in common, you and I, as do our lunar paramours. I too was blindsided by that feeling of being torn apart and yet knit together at the same time. The fear of hollowness; the fear of being filled and consumed. Neither could I pull away, drawn like a helpless magnet caught in an ancient force. Yet you have avoided the vices and demons which plague myself and my own, and will continue to do so if you are willing to fight for each other. Look to the one you love; she is yours to protect, from others and from herself. We are guardians and servants both, and you hold wells of strength of which you are not yet truly aware.

I know you would have us see the worth of her, and we do. I promise I respect the gravity of our debt. You must be patient, though. It has been just the two of us in this tale for so long, and such a tragic tale… we lose track of everything beyond our sorrow, sometimes. And you know He is not the kindest of men, especially toward those to whom he feels indebted. He fears her love, just as he fears mine.

Change is coming, Little Flame, and it is our duty to anchor our beloveds lest they be overwhelmed and undone. Have faith and hold fast.

- T

 

#1420

You think I have forgotten who you were once, but I have not. I remember him, the one who was both god and beast, angel and demon. My beautiful monster, tragic and deceptive and deadly. We have lived a thousandfold lives yet still I recall that incarnation, oldest and cruelest, most clearly. I carry those memories with me like battle scars; memories of madness, of destruction, of desperation and sorrow. Memories of blood and ash, myself kneeling at his feet in the wasteland, the gun in my hand. The gun at my temple. I remember it all, and I love that creature still. I worship the shard of darkness he left within you.

#1417

Or do you loathe me, specter, because you fear what I may reveal? The past of which your lover may only guess, and to which I am more privy than you would like? Yet I have given you no reason not to trust me with such intimate information. As bound and indebted to you as I am, I should not have to swear an oath of silence to prove myself; let my twelve years of unbroken faithfulness be testament to my willing servitude. Yes, each time we join I sink a little further into your consciousness, and with the weight of your body anchoring my awareness come, too, the memories stirring unbidden beneath your mind. But these are your memories, your experiences and burdens, and I would slit my own throat before letting a single one pass my lips. You know this, specter. You share my essence as much as I share yours, and every part of myself is open to you if you deign to look. I don’t ask you to trust me. I only ask you to judge my actions, not the threat I could pose.

#1416

I feel your hatred every time we join, specter; your animosity, your rejection, your disgust. I’ve always been aware of it on the periphery, but now it’s a force I must reckon with each time I gladly relinquish control, every time I unwillingly wrench it back. Why? What have I done, faithful scribe as I am, to earn your eternal condemnation? I thought once it was my necessity you scorned, that you resented needing someone else to tell your story, an intruder into your ill-fated tale. Yet… that isn’t the entirety, is it? Yes, you begrudge me my role, but there is more to your disdain. Something deeper. Something private.

Tell me, specter… do you hate me so because I know what you strive to hide even from yourself? Do you loathe me because I know that more than anything else, you want him to hold you? Just to hold you, like a child woken from a nightmare? I’ve felt that longing, so strong and sharp it makes me want to weep at its mere recollection. To deny that need for even a moment, let alone constantly as you have done for so long… no wonder you’re filled with such rage. No other emotion is powerful enough, nor volatile enough, to bury such a thing.

I will not ask for your forgiveness, specter; I do not expect you to give it. I only wish you to give me time to show you I pose you no threat. I am yours in all things, in all ways, body and heart and soul. You know this as well, even if you choose to deny it.

#1415

[They lay silent in the darkness, bodies curled into each other like spent Autumn leaves. It is Daren who speaks first, his words a low murmur against Tanim's bare chest.]

Daren: What does it feel like?

Tanim [shifts to draw Daren closer against himself ]: Being with you?

Daren [nods]: Yes.

[Tanim is silent for a moment as he considers his words.]

Tanim [thoughtfully, more to himself than his companion]: Like living and dying at the same time. I can’t tell which I’m doing, and I don’t care.

Daren [at once both weary and hesitant]: Do you wish it were otherwise?

Tanim: I wish a great many things, but not that. Never that.

Daren: What do you wish, then?

Tanim [reaching up to brush his fingers through Daren's short hair]: I wish for you to sleep peacefully through the night, love, just once before I die.

Daren: The only small amount of peace I’ve ever known has been with you.

Tanim [emphatically]: And I have never known peace before you. Not once.

[Daren says nothing to this, and a brief moment of silence passes between them.]

Tanim: Do you believe me?

Daren [sighing]: No. But you are a fool, and I know you believe yourself.

Tanim [tightening his embrace on Daren for emphasis]: Your fool.

Daren: Mine. [He nods, a faint smile of concession drawing back his lips, and turns his face into Tanim's chest.] Yes. Mine.

#1412

dazed, soul aching and body craving, desperate for a hit, a fix, an escape, cessation culmination everythinganythingsomething, tired of useless alcohol and worthless drugs, no chance of reprieve there so he turns to pain, fresh and hot and searing like it used to be, can be again, palm flat on the table and fingers spread, he presses the barrel of the gun to the back of his hand and pulls the trigger

#1407

You’re born into this station like royalty, your blue blood thick with money and power. High society’s a modern court all its own, with an unspoken hierarchy based on the subtle messages sent by your clothing, your mannerisms, how efficiently you speak the language of feint and parry. This is the privileged world into which I was born, heir of a financial dynasty whose value was determined at conception by ancestry and last name. Like any good prince I began my training for the boardroom throne early and took my lessons to heart; I was nothing if not the dutiful son, proper in all ways, a model courtier. And while blood cannot truly bind, and names may be cast off like an ill-fit suit, even a renegade of high society cannot escape its influence completely. Years have passed since I led the stifling, affluent life of capitalist royalty, yet not a day goes by that I don’t move subconsciously to slip back into the role I abandoned. More than the ingrained habits or nagging memories, it’s the sense of judgment, of being watched and weighed, which seems impossible to shake. I live in fear some member of that court might spot me one day and know, by the way I act or look, that I too am one of them; fear that someday I will be dragged back to take my unwilling place beneath the detested crown.

#1406

[ I gave Mage's nemesis Alice Pan an opportunity to ask Mage ten questions. The answers are below. ]
 

1. What will you do with Sanctuary if you ever obtain it to yourself?

I will raze every rock, tree, and building to the ground and sow salt into the charred earth so nothing may ever grow there again.

2. When the new moon appears, what happens to Daren/When a solar eclipse appears, what happens to Tanim?

It’s as if a dark veil comes over them, one of madness and despair. It is a thing I cannot explain nor ever wish to experience myself.

3. Where did the name Mage come from?

After my true name was taken from me, some started referring to me simply as the “elven mage”, based on my race and my sorceress’ abilities, which became plain “Mage” after a time. Clever, I know.

4. What would she have become if she had been a Pan, what would her name have been?

I cannot fathom an alternate reality in which this would have been possible, but I suppose the idea is worth entertaining. As I would have lead my people, once, so too I might have lead the Lost. Iron Pan, they’d have called me.

5. Was Tivius someone special to her and if he was, why isn’t he now?

He wasn’t special to me, necessarily. He was, however, very special to someone else you know, but he betrayed her in a time of need; she has not forgotten this, and my current incarnation is the result of that betrayal.

6. Were any of the Lost special to her?

It’s hard to remember now, it’s been so long. There were a few I called friends, though I was never admitted to the inner sanctum of that tribe. I recall late night fireworks, stories traded across the fire, letters scripted in glittering ink and sealed in wax. Those ones may even have remained comrades, had the times not necessitated we take different paths. Yet in every rebellion kin must fight kin, and so here we are.

7. How does she feel about Rook’s/Damael’s death?

I better have a hand in it.

8. What would she say to any of the Lost if she could?

You had a chance to see for yourselves the false world you were shaping, but you refused to open your eyes. You have left me no choice but to open them for you. Remember, when the end comes, that I once gave you that chance.

9. What’s her poison?

Rage like an oil fire.

10. If Tivs and them are no longer special, who is/was/might be?

I had a beloved, once, but they were taken from me. There have been no others since.

 

#1405

Sometimes I dream I am trying to talk him down from the ledge. He stands facing the drop, body stiff against the wind, toes hanging over the edge of the roof. I can’t see his face but I imagine his eyes are open, staring out over the sleeping city with neither interest nor fear. I want to grasp his wrist and pull him back yet some instinct urges caution (to protect him? or myself?). Instead I bridge the space with my voice, begging him to stay, promising I can help if he’ll just give me a chance. He never answers me, though, nor acknowledges my presence. He doesn’t even move until inevitably I falter and fall silent, at a loss for more persuasive words, and even then it’s just the barest scrape of his heel moving over the ledge as if he might step out onto the air itself. He won’t, though, dream or no. He always falls, just as I always wake with the need to cry out a name I do not know; the newspapers never revealed the man’s identity. I am left haunted by the ghost of some stranger’s suicide, unable to shake the guilty suspicion that I could have helped him, had I come sooner into his life than the last few seconds of his plunge to the pavement.

#1404

from:  tanim.ocean@gmail.com
to:  foreveryourghost@gmail.com
subject:  In Passing

Lover,

I felt you today, like a dream only more elusive. The wind blew past me, muggy and warm, and suddenly we were in a confessional, tucked away and claustrophobic. And you whispered to me through the wooden slats, “Priest, tell me your sins.”

It was like a memory, but I have no recollection of it. And yet it felt so familiar.

Tan

 

from:  foreveryourghost@gmail.com
to:  tanim.ocean@gmail.com
subject:  Re: In Passing

That’s because it is a blood memory, a bone memory. Your mind has forgotten it but your body and spirit remember.

 

#1393

afraid to speak, to startle the other into remorseful flight, he pleads with his body instead don’t go, don’t leave me gripping at jagged shoulder blades, pulling the narrow waist down to his own please, can’t you see I’m yours? as he opens himself to be filled, to be completed, shivering at the hot mouth on his skin, the teeth digging in to leave their mark yes, please, claim me as hands move to hold him in place with an iron grip against which he writhes in pain and pleasure both, thrilling at the bondage of flesh and bone, his wordless moans speaking for him as he surrenders, submits, swearing I love you, I have always loved you with every exhalation

#1392

apology and supplication in the way his hands clench on muscle, fist around silken hair and yank back for a kiss that draws blood, every movement a wordless begging as he sinks his teeth into bare flesh to muffle the moan or choke back the howl, which will it be?, such terrible need in his trembling body and through it all the overwhelming hatred of that need, every thrust of his hips the punishment for staying, for loving, for embracing this madness with open arms and willing body, he leaves bruises in his wake as he presses, desperate to be closer, skin to skin, two bodies moving as one, and when release comes it brings no easing, no comfort, yet he allows himself to be held a moment before pulling away, the ice creeping back already

#1391

When the eternal winter descended upon the land, the Wanderer looked to the frozen sky and understood what tragedy had befallen the heavens, and what must be done to free the world from its prison of ice. So she set out across the white wasteland which had once been fields and meadows, rivers and lakes, and made her way to the distant mountains. At the base of their mighty peaks she began to climb, heedless of the driving wind, the razor sharp rock beneath her palms, the drop that would surely kill her should she slip just once. She climbed for days and days, never once glancing away from the summit so high it pierced the clouds.

On the seventh day the Wanderer reached the summit and stood upon its peak, the land a distant smear of white beneath her and the dark sky stretching out in all directions around her. It seemed she could go no farther, but the Wanderer knew magic older than the mountains themselves and with a wave of her hand the staircase revealed itself, an impossible thing of stone stretching into the darkness on nothing but air. She made her way up the steps, treading carefully for even here the ice covered every surface, and soon came to the pavilion at the top. “Lord,” she said, and placed one hand to her heart in greeting.

In the center of the frozen chamber stood the Moon, robes of silver and white stained with golden blood, his eyes a more dangerous darkness than the eternal night all around. In his arms lay the Lord Sun wrapped in the Moon’s dark cloak, serene in death despite the blood upon his lips and the tears still wet upon his cheeks no matter how much time had passed. So too the fateful blade still lay at their feet where the Moon had dropped it in horror at his own actions, its silver blade dripping gold.

“Who do you think you are, to trespass in this realm?” the Moon growled, but the Wanderer would not be cowed, no matter how fierce the threat in the Moon’s voice, and stepped forward. “You know me, Prince Moon,” she soothed. “You have watched me, once upon a time. But now you watch nothing but the stillness of your lover’s breast. Have you seen what desolation your grief unleashes upon the land? Do you realize you are not the only one who mourns the Lord Sun?”

“And what of it?” he snapped, angered at the intrusion on his sorrow. “Do you think yourself so truly powerful you come to undo my crime? Do you think you can resurrect a god?” The Wanderer shook her head and replied with patience, “I can no more resurrect the one in your arms than you can give me my name back. But I know one who can, and I will go to her on your behalf. She has the power to give you back your Lord Sun, though the price shall be high.”

The Moon narrowed his eyes as if trying to see through to the hidden truth. “Why would you trouble yourself to such an extent for us?” he asked, calmer now but no less suspicious. “Surely not for that world down there, that cast you out so long ago?” The Wanderer shook her head. “No. I would do it because we are kin, of a kind. And I have no kin left.”

“And what do you ask in return?” said the Moon, for he could not believe anything came without a price. “Only that you remember, for no other shall,” replied the Wanderer, for truly she wanted nothing else he could offer. The Moon thought on this, and then he nodded, resigned to the fate he had sealed yet willing to humor her quest. “You have a deal. Go, then.”

So the Wanderer climbed back down the frozen mountain and set back out across the wasteland, traveling through snow and ice for countless hundreds of miles before her journey brought her to the end of all land, to the shores of the roaring ocean where beyond lay only sea and sky as far as the horizon. There she found the little cottage in the dunes, and in the little cottage a little room in which the Dreamer slept, reaching out in her sleep to all the world around her. The Wanderer knelt down beside the bed and leaned over, whispering in the Dreamer’s ear, “Dreamer, awake and seek. You must find Them, the Sun and Moon. They are in dire need of your help; you are the only one who can complete the circle of fate and set Their destiny to spinning. Go now. Find Them.”
And as the Wanderer made her way out of the little cottage by the sea, the Dreamer turned over in her sleep and reached for the pen and notebook laying ready on her bedside table.

“And what do you ask in return?”

“Only that you remember, for no other shall,”

Daren glances over his shoulder and across the ship’s deck to where Mage stands tall and stiff at the railing, gazing out across the ocean to something only she can see. Even here she is still the Wanderer, still the Exile no matter that there is no home left from which to be exiled. She has a name now but it is not her name, not the one which was taken from her. That one can never be returned – and even if it were, she is not the same person who bore that name before, and it does not suit her now. She has become something else, immortal yet unbearably weary.

#1387

Over a glass of Angel’s Envy he breaks the settled evening silence, murmuring as if the thought has just crossed his mind, “You’re like a tiger.”

“A tiger?” I glance over but Tanim’s gaze rests in the hearth fire.

“Yes,” He nods once, sips his drink. “You’re like a tiger kept in some run down zoo, caged behind rusty iron bars and cold cement. You’ve been in there so long you’ve forgotten you ever knew anything else, felt the wind or rain or earth; yet still you pace your confines in endless circles, lashing out through the bars, starved and desperate. Instead of defeating you, the captivity only fuels your rage, makes you a feral, senseless beast. If someone were to open that cage for you, you’d leap at them and sink your teeth into their flesh before you even realized the door to freedom stood open.”

Tanim’s speech leaves a strange taste in my mouth, not bitter yet unpleasant nonetheless, and when I scoff, “I’m no tiger,” the denial feels false. He eyes me now, and replies with slow thoughtfulness, “No, you’re not. You’re far more dangerous. Even with that door wide open, you’d remain in the cage and wait for your prey to come to you.”

I have no reply to that.

#1383

The madness you sense caged within your hollowed breast is as real as your heartbeat, your blood, your breath. Do not be afraid of the beast, scribe, for I am that beast, myself and the cold-hearted Moon. We are the rising tide of rage, the monster’s bellow against captivity, the firestorm swallowing everything in its path. The world trembles before us and blackens in our wake. But you are not meant to fear those things. You are not meant to fear us. We are your strength; your armor; your weapon. Dress yourself in our names, become the Dark Queen, the Deceiver, the wild, wicked creature whose words are blades and whose heart is the great frozen ocean, deep and dark and untamed. Burn the rage like gasoline in your veins and feel your fingertips flare white-hot, ready to melt steel and carve stone. We are with you always. Embrace us. Become us.

#1377

You’re like the ocean, placid on the surface but a roiling current of riptides and whirlpools beneath, ceaseless churning no cliff nor seawall can abate as in your longing for the shore you wear away at the very thing you desire, love crumbling at your touch to be drawn down into the forces twisting within you and suffocating there, lost to the dark depths where lay forgotten all the burdens too heavy to bear up or toss to land.

#1376

You’re like the wildfire, ravenous and unstoppable, a thing of great and terrible beauty which punishes the lover’s outstretched hand with charred flesh and blackened bone, yet even as you rage on you destroy the very substance which makes your existence possible, devouring body and breath to fuel your murder-suicide, and you shall not cease until there is nothing left to burn and you shrink to flickering coals, curling ash, and finally cool to nothing.

#1374

They were saints, vessels of the gods, and so we buried them together, yet still the place remains cursed. The earth there recalls too readily the blood spilled in jealousy and betrayal, and the failure of those who witnessed the sacrilege yet were helpless to intervene. In our nightmares we still recall the phantom wailing heard when we entombed the lovers’ bones – they were not meant to be buried, we understand that now, but how could we have known our attempts at honor were torture instead? Sealed away from the light of Sun and Moon, their spirits remain trapped, and the retribution delivered to their murderer too little, too late to make amends. The White Saint avenged his slain lover, yes, but even as he plunged the blade into their Judas’ back we saw he too bled out and knew we would lose them both in the end. We have tried to bring their spirits peace, yet not even burning the traitor’s body eased their suffering. And so the place of their bloody burial remains haunted and barren, sacred to those who seek the restless saints’ blessing for a lover’s vengeance.

#1369

Tanim stands, gaze lowered, frowning at something. Daren stands at his side, eyes averted but attention clearly focused on Tanim anyway.

Tanim: You make the worst parts of my personality come out.

Daren (chuckles dryly): It’s the only way to know who you really are.

Tanim: I was honest from the start.  You know what I am.  What I’m capable of.

Daren: You’re not the villain here.

Tanim: I’m not?

Daren: That badge belongs to me.  (gestures to the crumpled woman on the concrete)  To her.

(Tanim swallows, silent. Daren reaches into the pocket of his coat and hands Tanim a silken handkerchief. Tanim accepts the proffered object and wipes carelessly at the blood on his lips and chin.)

Tanim: What makes you the villain, then?

Daren (folding the bloodied handkerchief and placing it back in his pocket): I already knew who you really are. I needed to know if you knew. If you recognized the truth amid the blood lust.

Tanim (nods to the unmoving body): And her?

(Daren looks down at her with obvious disdain.)

Daren: She deserved worse.

Tanim (defiantly): Who are you to say what one deserves and doesn’t deserve.

(The two men stare at each other.  Tanim’s chin trembles slightly, but he’s standing erect, just barely taller than Daren.  Daren’s eyes smolder blackly.)

Daren: I am your god.

(Tanim struggles to maintain the stare, to stand strong before the other, but with a visible shudder he lowers his eyes and tilts his head to the side, a wolf yielding to its alpha. Daren reaches out to take Tanim’s chin, not entirely unkindly.)

Daren (murmuring): Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, love. Would you rather be alone once more? A mad beast wandering the streets, waiting to be put out of its misery?

Tanim (weakly): You said you would help me…

Daren: And I have, haven’t I?

(Tanim looks up, a ghost of tears in each eye.)

Tanim: Yes.

Daren: And you repay me in such a manner?

Tanim: I… forgive me, Sire.  I… (he licks his lips)  Why the girl?

Daren (snorts with amusement and impatience): You know why.

(Tanim winces and seems as if about to speak, then think better of it. He nods instead and gestures halfheartedly at the cooling corpse.)

Tanim: Shall I throw her in the river like the others?

Daren: No. This one stays. (He smiles when Tanim casts him a questioning look) She’ll serve as a warning.

(Tanim bends down to close the girl’s eyes.  Daren smiles almost lovingly at the gesture.)

Daren: You still care too much.

Tanim (standing up and dabbing at his mouth with the kerchief again): Of course I care.  That’s why you chose me.

Daren takes the handkerchief from Tanim and refolds it, placing it in his back pocket.

Daren: I’ll not see regret in your eyes again.  Do you understand?

Tanim (bows his head): Yes, Sire.

(Smirking, Daren turns and starts back down the alley, not bothering to check if Tanim follows. He does, after a slight hesitation, careful not to glance again at the girl’s body as he catches up to his master.)

Daren: You know why I test you so, don’t you, Tanim?

Tanim (speaking as if by rote): So that you may know if I am worthy.

Daren (a sigh like a patient tutor): No, love. Not that.

(Tanim pauses briefly, struck with surprise, then hurries to keep up with Daren.)

Tanim: If not that, then… why?

Daren: Because your heart still beats.  (Tanim stops and raises a confused brow.  He places his hand over his chest as though to point out the lack of his heartbeat.  Daren caresses his cheek and then places his hand over Tanim’s.)  You feel as they do, Brother.  When you tear their flesh, so is yours torn.  That intimacy is vital.

Tanim: Then why kill them at all?  (Daren’s jaw clenches angrily.  Tanim immediately lowers his head.)  Sire, I-I simply ask be-because…. Because if it is intimacy that we seek, why take the life?  Why not share that moment together?

(A faint smile manages to pull at Daren’s mouth, though his expression remains impatient, on edge.)

Daren: There are many kinds of intimacy. Would you truly wish to share with them (the word spoken with unfeigned disgust) that which you share with myself? Or vice versa? (Moves in to stand face to face with Tanim, chin lifted to bare his pale neck.) Do you think you could do to me what you do to them, my beautiful beast? Would that bring you satisfaction? Fulfillment?

(Tanim offers a weak smile, more to veer from the threat and temptation of the dare than from amusement.)

Tanim: I doubt you would even let my teeth touch your skin, should I be foolish enough to attempt such a thing.

Daren: But it isn’t fear or logic which keep you from the act.

Tanim (ruefully, yet with a note of affection): No.

(A rustling, groaning noise can be heard behind them.  Tanim turns.)

Tanim: She’s…

Daren: Yes.

Tanim: Sire, she’s not completely—

Daren: —Take care of it.  (gently kisses Tanim’s forehead) And then come to me.

(Tanim swallows, nods, and turns away as Daren continues down the alley. Above the sound of Daren’s footsteps can be heard a high, trembling whimper and then the tear of cloth and flesh.)

[ Collab between myself and the girlfriend. ]