And now for Part 6, the finale!
Dreadful Tales: A Matter of Discretion Part 6
Carstairs grabbed Lady Brae’s hair, twisting it till she yelped. Like a doll, he dragged her, kicking and struggling all the while, across the floor by her hair towards the whimpering captives. Kneeling, Carstairs gazed at one of the captives, quelling his fear and mesmerizing him with his eyes. The helpless man bent his head aside, offering his throat to the True Blood. Carstairs opened the man’s neck with a slash of his nails. Dark blood spurt from the wound, running down the man’s clothes. But he did not move, even as his life was fleeing from him.
“Drink, cousin, and know what I know.” He pushed Lady Brae towards the dying man, trying to force her lips upon the wound. With all the strength remaining to her, Lady Brae struggled against Carstairs and the rising hunger within her. She’d spent so much of herself just getting here, she was so terribly, terribly hungry. But she’d never done this, never fed without consent, never drank the heart’s blood. Her fangs pushed forward in anticipation of the feast, while her eyes changed, the iris’ becoming the yellow-green of a hungry wolf. That little bit of her that was still herself cried out against this sacrilege and turned away, inches from the man’s neck.
“Drink, damn it, I said drink!” Carstairs shouted, gripping her jaw and forcing her head down on the crimson fountain.
Life and power surged within her. All her reluctance disappeared beneath the red wave. The captive crooned and sank into her as she savaged him, tearing deeper into his neck.
“Yes little cousin, that’s right, drink your fill. See what they would deny you? Never again,” Carstairs said, his own hunger rising at the sight of the feast.
Carstairs swiveled around towards the voice. Somehow, the warlock had managed to push himself off the ground. One eye was already swelling shut, and his lip was busted, yet still he managed to lean on his cane. His hat was gone, leaving long dark hair to cascade wildly around his damaged, but handsome, features.
“If it’s all the same to you, my Lord,” he said, spitting a gob of blood on the floor, “I’d rather not watch your degenerate show. Lady Brae deserves much more than being turned into a monster like you, and if you are going to do that, well, then, I guess there is only one thing to do.”
Carstairs stood to his full height. Though shorter than the warlock, his presence eclipsed the beaten man, eclipsed the very room itself. “And what is that, mortal?”
Mr. Silver turned the handle on his cane and drew out a long, thin blade. “Die like a man, I suppose.” He slashed the air with the puny piece of metal. “Though, to be honest, I’d always hoped I’d die like a richer man, surrounded by mistresses, but hey ho.”
Carstairs looked at the sword cane and then back to Mr. Silver’s face. He began to laugh, a deep, mellifluous laugh. When he finished, he wiped a bloody tear from his cheek. “You know that won’t stop me.”
Mr. Silver shrugged. “I’m all out of hexes I’m afraid.”
As the Lord strode towards him, he smiled, “You are going to die, warlock, but not like a man. No, you’ll die like a stuck pig, squealing and baying at the sky.”
“Well, as long as we both know the stakes,” he said, raising the blade to an en garde position.
Carstairs laughed again. Behind him, the messy noises of the captive’s death were growing quieter. “Do you hear that, warlock? She’s nearly finished, but she won’t stop there. Maybe she’ll help me with you.”
Mr. Silver spared a glance behind the True Blood to see Lady Brae raising her blood smeared face and those terrible animal eyes hunting for something more to rip apart. “Letting a woman do your work for you, Carstairs? And here I thought you were a sporting man.”
“Sporting?” the Lord laughed. “Tell you what, mortal, I’m so sporting I’ll give you a free shot.” He opened his arms wide. “Come, do your worst. Then it’s my turn.”
Lashing forward, so quickly he almost blurred as well, Mr. Silver drove the point of his blade into the center of the noble’s chest. Carstairs closed his hands on to the warlock’s shoulders in a painful grip.
Eyes locked, they stared each other down. “Barely felt it,” Carstairs said, smiling.
“Give it a moment,” Mr. Silver said.
The noble’s eyes widened and his mouth spasmed in pain. “What?” he cried out, looking down at the blade. Smoke curled from the wound, and the sound of sizzling flesh was audible to all. Numb fingers released the warlock, who stumbled away from him. Carstairs fell to his knees.
“What did you do to me?” he asked, his arms hanging limply at his sides.
“You’re immune to metal. Well most metal,” the warlock said, his eye narrowed.
“Blessed…silver?” Carstairs asked as the flesh around the wound began to blacken, and tiny veins of darkness burrowed beneath his skin.
“Worse. Cursed.” The warlock crouched down so they were eye to eye again. “It won’t kill you like blessed silver would, at least, not for a very long time. It’ll keep you alive, only weak and helpless, like those you wanted to pray upon.” Mr. Silver leaned in, till their noses were almost touching. “I could enumerate for you the various reasons why your plan is flawed like a hundred other new nobles before you that have tried something similar. I could tell you how you were nothing more than a pawn to the one who made you, and your destruction will mean less than nothing to them. Instead, I’ll just tell you to be careful what you wish for.”
“Why?” Carstairs gasped.
“You wanted to make Lady Brae into a monster, like you. Well, here she comes. And she looks hungry.” Mr. Silver drew a knife from his boot and sliced it across the Lord’s throat. Unable to heal, the wound leaked the dark, turgid blood that animated all of the True. Mr. Silver withdrew as the wild eyed creature approached, sniffing the air. Her gaze fell upon the open wound and she bared her fangs.
“No, please, I beg you. I beg you!” Carstairs shouted as Lady Brae fell upon him. Her fangs ripped and tore at his flesh with terrific savagery. The noble screamed and cried and struggled, but the cursed metal held him fast. Mr. Silver back away, but he did not take his eyes off the horror before him.
Carstairs was a long time dying
When she was finished, Lady Brae looked up at the warlock. He had no more tricks left and, even if he did, he did not know if he could bring himself to harm her. Though there was something of herself in that gaze, she was a feral creature, a wild and deadly beauty. She leapt upon him and bore him to the ground.
“Don’t drink from me,” he admonished as she began to lower herself to his neck.
Something of herself must have crawled to the surface because she dragged herself back. Growling, she asked, “Why not?”
“It wouldn’t be proper.”
Lady Brae blinked as though she’d been slapped. Shaking her head, she pulled away from him. When she looked back at him, her eyes were normal again, only wide with terror and self-loathing. “By the Shadow, what have I done?” she asked, her voice shaking.
Pushing himself up on his arm, he said, “Only what you had to, for Queen and Country. Only what you had to.”