He invited them in without a moment's hesitation. The first, but not the only, surprise of that night.
"Ladies. Good evening." His voice, pitched velvet low and spun silky light, greeted all three with utmost courtesy. "Welcome to my humble home. Please, come in."
They lingered on the threshold, longing to sup, yearning to feast, yet wary of his seeming unwariness. He plainly knew full well what creatures they were. Had he not, in the darkness, shivered under their cool hands and lips, and not with delight only? Seen their faces, unearthly lovely, glow with the flame of the demon within? Had he not, at the last, albeit at another's instigation, driven them away with the holy symbol of Redemption and Sacrifice?
The Watcher (for it was he) only smiled faintly at their hesitation and gestured inward with a hand that like his tall frame trembled the smallest fraction. Curious, the sisters entered, brushing against him in turn, hip and thigh, sniffing the air to catch the spice of suppressed terror and the musk of rising desire. Both were there, the fruit of occult knowledge and of manhood, and it pleased them.
He locked and bolted the heavy oaken door behind them. "She will not come tonight," were his only words. "I told Her to stay away."
They did not spring upon him at once, despite this news. Instead a slow, cruel, moist anticipation ripened the blood-red mouths of each. Their minds were as one, even as their forms differed: chosen, surely, as a sampler of serried appeal to all that a man might long for as he lay between sleep and waking, alone and uncomforted, the need in his flesh subjugated and denied by fate, by desertion, by the demands of a Calling. One was dark, ebony hair glossy as a raven's wing, eyes sharp and bright as sloe-berries. The second had possessed, in life, the Celtic colouring: russet and cream, now drained of living hue and rendered veined amber porphyry, sculpted into an infernal Venus. The last was scarcely out of girlhood, torn from her innocence just as the womanly bud burst into flower. And such a flower! A very lotus of poisoned purity, with spun gold tresses and a gaze of frosted sapphire.
The voices of all as they murmured together were surpassing sweet, even to one who knew it to be the tart sweetness of the crab, not the apple, of creamy sherbet with bitter demise in the dregs. It was a sweetness to be craved from the deepest places of a man's mind. A longing never to be owned in daylight, among friends: only alone, or in the company of those who would satisfy it. But first: to arm himself against the fiendish evil beneath the sumptuous surface. He had ever kept by him, since the deceitful temptation of the demoness Drusilla – so long ago now, as it seemed to him, yet fresh in aching memory – a certain herb. He turned toward the wall, daring to turn his back on them only as he gambled on the remnants of the women they had once been, hoping to pique their curious interest further for a while. As he did so, he took a leaf from his pocket and secreted it under his tongue to melt and suffuse into breath and blood. He took down a tempered blade that had been his father's and grandmother's before him, and as they came to him at last, a profane parody of the Three-in-One, he stood his ground, braced, the sword grasped in both hands, jutting forward to impale, poised to sweep beautiful heads from elegant, white necks, to spill borrowed blood onto swelling, tender bosoms. His prick began to match the steel in hardness if not in edge. He was ready for them.
They sensed his increase, and exchanged glances of sly complicity with each other and with him. They were not disfigured like the majority of their kin. Only the canines, riven pearls sharp as needles, and the smoky yellow light in their eyes, spoke of menace. All else was base, raw allure, stripped of pretence to modesty and decorum. All the talk of irresistible thrall, of mystic influence, was no more than a parlour game to mask the less palatable truth, and all in that room knew it. For none who truly desired escape would be unable to achieve it, and those enslaved, became so at least in part of their own will, whether that might be toward the Little Death or the greater…or, as it might be, toward both.
"You are but servants, as I am. Is it your Master's will that you come here?" he asked them , and it stopped them in their languid step. They laughed together, the sound of water in a shadowed cave disturbed by a malevolent hand. The dark one addressed him:
"You '*told*' her not to come. We told *him* nothing of our plan. Master, mistress, servant: these words have no meaning. All are free to be that which they are. If we follow, it is our choice. We stay for the luxuries he must have about him and would share, for our fine dresses, our silk-lined coffins. We stay for the good hunting. What of you? Truly."
He considered it with narrowed eyes, head cocked, both his weapons standing proud, watching them. The young, fair one started ahead of her sisters and they snatched her back, snarling, hissing like plump lap-kittens.
"My reasons would be beyond your comprehension. Let us say that, like you, I stay for the sharing: of a place, of significance. And for the good hunting." He paused and smiled. They shifted about, uneasy, searching his face. "The question is," he continued, "just who here is hunting whom?"
Could they have blushed, they would have. Death had robbed the roses from their cheeks; their dread Sire had rapt away Maidenhood with Maidenhead even as he had made them. And yet, they would not be so wrong-footed, found to have strayed into a snare through whetted appetite. They licked their lips as one, as one cast down their eyes, then straightway flashed a look of brazen challenge, its plain purpose to inflame his blood. By the catch in his breath, the darkening of his eye and fullness of mouth, they had him. Or soon enough, would have. The flame-haired one spoke on behalf of all, pure Irish lilt cloyed on her honey tongue, utterly beguiling, utterly corrupt:
"We are three and strong. You are but one, and weak. Your humanity, and your lust, make it so."
The Watcher raised a brow, neither to deny nor admit of it. He lowered the sword of steel and spread his hands.
"Then try me. Taste me. See if the draught be to your…satisfaction. However, if I may venture – do not drain the cup in too much haste. He brings you food and clothing, shelter and safety. But what of…other things needful?"
For his answer, they began to unpin their cloaks, each helping each with questing fingers. Pricking skin by seeming chance, they kissed the wounds, sucking with wet lips and tongue, cupping and fondling smooth curves of flesh both displayed and hidden, stirring restlessly against each other, uttering soft cries with sidelong looks at his transfixed stare.
His voice fought for steadiness, for cool enquiry. "You have no need of Males, then?"
Dropping their cloaks to the floor, they turned to him, snickering, wiping their faces like wicked children caught at the jam-pot. Chastising him with wagging fingers, they crept on silent feet nearer, nearer. The dark one knelt beside him and put her lips to the tip of his hanging sword, scraping up along its length with her sharp teeth until she reached his hand. The sudden chill and press of danger made him start and she reared up, angry, away from the blade.
"Your pardon," he said in mock-apology. "You are cold to the touch." He cast his gaze over the trio, to include all.
"Then warm us." They sat down on the rug before the fire with artful grace and looked up expectantly.
Obliging them, he drew the poker from its place and thrust it with vigour into the cooling fire such that no spark should fly to catch hair or skirts, slow-stirring the embers to glowing, aching heat, The three followed its movements intently, throaty growls of anticipation their only exhalation, for their breasts had been forever stilled. Heat bled into their cold forms until sufficient had been borrowed for the purpose of the play, for the pretence that they were still women, sophisticated courtesans in paint and costume. But what roles to play? The Watcher could lie passive as they had their way and his, yielding up every part to choice perversities of their devising…
No. Mere victims were two a penny, scarce worth their time. To engage him, mind and body, slake the thirst for arcane pleasures which parched every man, however outwardly noble and proper: that would indeed be sport worth the name. The youngest made a little show of languishing and fainting, plucking at her dress as if overcome with heat. The two others followed suit, sighing and begging him to aid them lest they stifle and expire, all the while coquetting, teasing him with flirting smiles and parted lips.
He went to his knees in their midst and commenced to disrobe all three. Obedient as schoolgirls, they waited their turn for short work of hooks and eyes, for lifting away of cambric petticoats, for swift, shaking fingers rolling down silk stockings off tender thigh, groping for purchase, moving over shapely foot, thumb caressing the soles until they shuddered and arched.
"Tight lacing," he remarked as he surveyed the fruits of his labours, boned and trussed in vivid scarlet, emerald and mauve Shanghai. "It is said that men prefer it, as forcing a more womanly shape. Not I. To reveal and expound upon what is concealed - on its true form - is for me, Profession and Pleasure both."
He caught up the sword again, having laid it aside in eager haste to lay both hands at once upon the women. The sisters could see in the pulsing shadows formed from low-lit lamps and amber coals, how that his member, having flagged with concentration to the task now accomplished, stood proud once again, the front of his trousers bulging with its increase, for he was still fully clothed. They conferred together in whispers and animal purrs, urging the favoured one to the front, for they knew what salt was savour to his palate. They had known even in the pit.
The Dark Lady offered herself , wantonly displayed upon the rug. One arm she framed to lift and amplify her bosom; one knee was drawn up, the other hand on that knee, tracing miniature circles with a forefinger. Her back was part-turned by this pose, the stout cords biding her slender back and hips exposed. Easing the sword-point under several strands, he worked it slowly back and forth, the broader shaft sawing with quiet friction in time to his own breaths, until the bonds gave way at last with a loud snap and a gasp from the whole group.
The she-leech thus freed writhed on the floor, luxuriously extending her white limbs. Then she lunged at him, grasped his free hand and brought it to the torn fastenings even as she herself began to work at unbuttoning him. They struggled briefly, a rough contention yielding a handful of twisted silken rope for him, and for her, the chance to size him with eye and hand. She sighed in unholy delight, rubbing him strong and fast ,so that he groaned and stumbled, the thick threads in his flailing hand lashing over her bare arm and shoulder, the sword clattering to the tile.
He glared, fixing a look fit to quail even that shameless face. Anticipation, masked as fear, quivered in the close air.
"Are you to Beat us, or Bind us?" She asked.
He bared his teeth slowly, crocodile-like, and never took his eyes off hers as he wielded the makeshift whip as if in experiment, the softest swish and crack. Then he shook his head and gave back at them their former boast:
"You are three, and strong. Bind. Come here."
Bold voluptuosity, not meekness, bent them to his instruction. A few Words of Power, spoken over each, rendered the poor shackles meet for the purpose of restraining unnatural strength. He laid in parallel, on their sides, the two who would be audience to the actions performed by the Principals: to whit, himself and his paramour of the moment, the same whose armour he had just pierced.
Shrugging off his nether garments, but keeping his shirt of white linen still fastened, he peeled away the red remains of fine French corsetry from off her back until she was naked. He trailed callused fingers down a milk-white side and compassed one globe of her tight behind in his large hand, then the other, squeezing almost cruelly, hefting her arse again and again until she panted out a cry, not to stop, but for more. Her sisters echoed the plea in murmurs as urgent as if it were they who suffered and craved his Will.
All longed that he should treat them as the soulless, immoral creatures his Traditions held them to be, that he should give free rein to those animal instincts which propriety and custom condemned, that the only exchange should be that of mutual satiety. They had no use for words of affection or of reverence. He was cool of manner and authoritative of voice, even with his breath laboured and teeth bared in excess of passions magnified by long denial.
He had her spread herself, her back to him, head turned to one side so that her gaze locked with that of her fair companion, who put forth her tongue and licked the air in time to the slow stroking the dark one gave herself with the painted nails of finger and thumb to raisin peak of breast and lush curve of belly, to ivory flanks, to every tender, aching part . The last of the trio whimpered and strained to see, until the two deigned to provide her a torture of commentary on the action.
"I am raised up for him; ready enough: if he will not touch me softly, let him take me harshly: I have seen to the preparation. Go to it, Watcher, your mark is *here*," and she put her hand behind, then down to part the wet lips of her nether mouth…
He needed no further bidding. Crouching like a mating lion, he penetrated her with rough grace then, bracing himself over her back, rested his face between the blades of her shoulders, waiting. She heaved up, pushing herself against him, onto him, spitted on him, exulting that her strength sufficed to use the weight of his body alone to bring both of them to a fever of pleasure. In broken words he owned the enjoyment and began to work at her vigorously in his turn until their cries filled the longing ears of their listeners, who began to beg for a share in the relief that must surely come swiftly.
Their plea was also that they hungered, that surely he knew how to spare a little blood without lasting harm to himself, so virile and strong was he - flattery well suited to the ear of any man of a certain maturity. Indeed, they persuaded in sensual terms, the giving and receiving was, like coition, a trade in mutual needs: they would be nourished, he would experience the life-force coursing thrillingly through his veins as they sucked on him. Surely having his essence swallowed was not a wholly unfamiliar sensation?
He laughed low at that and withdrew from his using to stand up, still hard from holding off his crisis as long as he was able, holding his shirt-tails away with one hand from the glistening, thick shaft, taking no thought to cover himself. There was pride to be taken in their stares of appreciation and anticipation, and had they been not so excited by the prospect of appetites indulged, they would have seen also shrewd calculation crystal-clear in the smoky jade of his eyes.
When they asked that he strip himself entirely, he refused, only turning up his shirtsleeves to reveal muscled forearms used to handling weapons and marked all over with the results of battles at close quarters. He lay as on a bier between the two prostrate lovelies. Old, old, white scars in pairs in the crook of one elbow told the story of how he knew the game of willing victim from a time long past in his youth, a time that he might wish to revisit. So it was with confidence that they rolled against his sides, still bound, snuffling over his flesh and baring fangs to sink into the streams that flowed just beneath the surface. He threw out his arms, catching, as if by pure chance, the basket of splintered kindling by the hearth and scattering its contents.
None paid heed to this. As they fastened onto him they had barely time to take a cupful apiece before the effects of the Herb he had ingested began gradually to render them as insensate as the inhabitants of an opium den. As for his more active partner, she had only one end in mind – to feed on him only after he had properly stoked, then extinguished the flame that had took hold of her loins.
She straddled him as her sisters began to feed, greedy cunny swallowing his long inches, clutching, rolling, releasing only to grip once more. She knew all the tricks of the Trade, but it was not a show of ecstasy that would content this one, only its reality. Therefore she let herself feel everything to the fullest degree: the way he ground himself urgently at their joining, the slick of his skin under her thighs, damp with exertion and desire, the bow-string tension coiling, ratchetting, building to explosion.
When it came upon her at last, she felt nothing else, heard nothing but her own joyful scream, saw nothing through the boiling haze save his triumphant face, jaw slackened, eyes heavy-lidded as, deep-rooted inside her, he spent himself over and over Nearly fainting, she never saw the pointed sliver of firewood he had grasped seconds after enjoying the last of her, and was no more ere she felt it strike her back. Short work of the other two followed.
Who indeed had been the hunter, and who the prey? Was it duty which had tempted, then despatched those who had beguiled him in the pit? Was it remorse which pained him now or only the melancholy absence of delicious lust, once sated? Perhaps such questions were best left unanswered. As he lazed before the dying fire, slowly trailing his fingers in the piles of ash around him and using it to write meditation in lost languages on his own body, he beheld himself and all he had done that night, gave an equivocal sigh, closed his eyes and fled into sleep.