Liveman and Deadman
Deadman Brucolac is well aware of his own weakness, just like everybody else.
So now he is walking down bridges, chains and junks, through Dry Fall to Garwater in the night. There are very few people on decks. Armadans were exhausted by cold weather of the Swollen Ocean and crippling blows they just suffered. Most of them prefer to stay indoors, getting warmer or drinking themselves.
But the cold is like age-ripped wallpaper to Deadman, left only stains. He feels no cold. The sunlight is just what he's afraid of.
The sunlight will burn away his skin, making it melt like waxen images. The sunlight will gnaw his eyes, turning them into frosted glass. The sunlight will corrode his body, making it wither away slowly.
And recently, he was caressed sadistically by the sunlight when he was crucified high above the deck of the Grand Easterly. The brutal torture began at every dawn. His skin began to welt, as if some punishing chymical had been poured on him. When the sun had disappeared behind the horizon, he started to heal. After the ordeal of regenerate all night long, his torture began again as the sun reached out.
He can't tell how long he had been there. He was crucified there after the mutiny. Maybe his citizens witnessed his suffering. Mayby most people barely noticed him. The scar had got all their attentions.
He still had the strength to stare back at first, then he was blind. He could only get a few words from the noises of Hedrigall's back and the Lover's leaving. Most of the time, he could even not tell who had walk past the stains he emited.
But he could make out that man all the while - his form, his footsteps and his wonderful voice. He got a good guffaw when he learnt that the Lovers were tearing themselves apart, then she left, and at last Armada turned back. You all done what I asked, and you all crucified me.
And YOU crucified me.
"Cut him down." At last, the voice said, as bland and featureless as if he just found out the macabre body-pennant swinging above the bridge.
He doesn't know what he was then, a heavy block of foul-smelling flesh he guesses, with melting skin, dripping with blood and bodily fluids. And then he was carried back to the moonship by his cronies and citizens, where the forces restored his body. Slowly he regenerated, like a monster resurfaced from off a sink full of greased carnage. Armada has sailed out of the Hidden Ocean before his recovery.
So he is storming to the Grand Easterly. He will take revenge on that man for the crucifixion.
When the Brucolac kicks open the door, Uther Doul is reading. He doesn't seem surprised, just laying the book down on the table with the familiar, bland expression.
"Deadman Brucolac," says Doul.
"Liveman Doul. Do you know why I come to you?"
Doul tilts his head, his face twitching in contained amusement. "Because I crucified you above the deck, I think."
The Brucolac shouts furiously, that ghastly snake tongue fluttering in the air. "You let me rot! You let me rot!"
"It's just punishment for your mutiny. I know you won't die. You are a vampir-"
The Brucolac pounces. He catches him by his collar and pushes him back on the table. "So you let me rot. You know I will suffer incomprehensible agony and won't die!"
"Punishment is punishment." Doul repeats. He doesn't seem conscious of being pressed.
He does not. The Brucolac thinks. Doul can wrench control from him any time he wants to. He can crucify him again. The only reason is he doesn't want to fight.
"You bastard!" He clenches his hands. "Do you think this makes it right? Settles your debt? It's you who drive the Lovers to seek the Scar. It's you who want to mine possibilities. Just because you have that fucking sword!"
"Be gentle," Doul says, "You will do damage to the book."
The Brucolac stiffens slightly. Doul indicates the book between the table and his back. "A Quiesy book."
Who else can speak Quiesy in Armada, besides Doul and himself? None.
The Brucolac lets go and steps back. Doul stands up slowly, then smooths book pages.
"Allegory of High Cromlech," he says in Quiesy, "I think you have read it too."
He hands the book to the Brucolac. He takes it and glances at it sharply, then suddenly he throws the book at the wall, which drops to the floor loudly, pages spraying about.
Doul raises his eyebrows. "Grand Gears Library will make you pay for this."
The Brucolac grabs Doul by the collar again, shoving him backwards roughly into the bed, straddling him and clutching his hands on the bed. He sneers, his tongue flickering.
"Do you think this makes it right?" He says again. "Do you think talking about High Cromlech and Quiesy will make me feel nostalgic? Do you think your surrender will balance what you've done to me?"
In the dim light, Doul's expression is unclear. He stares up at the vampir, unblinking.
The Brucolac spats, his saliva splattering over Duol's face. But he doesn't move.
The vampir leans down and captures traces of saliva with his forked tongue. "I know you Liveman Doul." He whispers in Doul's ear, "I know more you than anyone else. You are hungry for the punishment."
He spats again. "You masochist," He takes Doul's face in his hands and tugs at the grey locks, kissing the skin stained with his saliva, "You likes the feeling of being controlled, being ordered. So you follows those cut-up cunts. Do you shiver when you think about them cutting each other? Do you find yourself erect when they give you orders? You are intoxicated, aren't you?"
The Brucolac begins undressing him. "You have the power to rule Armada on your own. I can not believe your will is to be a guard. Even after she-Lover left, you still follows he-Lover. This makes you feel good, right?"
"Brucolac," Doul blocks the hand moving towards his genitalia. "Enough."
The vampir stills at the words. After a moment, he flips Doul to his stomach, clasping his wrists fast behind him, pressing him into the bed.
"I'm sick of your disingenuity." He says, "You manipulates
other people's emotions. You used the New Crobuzon woman, even the lovers and all the Armadans."
He yanks Doul's shirt off his shoulders and kisses his back, which is scored with several scars. He rarely gets wounded after having controlled the Possible Sword. His skin is young and smooth and warm, nothing like the pale and cool skin of the vampir.
Liveman Doul. Liveman Doul. A winner forever. No one know what happened to him in his past, to make him flinch from naked power and how he mastered possibility mining.
Doul doesn't resist as the Brucolac strips him out of his clothes. He lays beneath the vampir, softly and calmly.
He hates his calmness, which covers the real Doul like heavy velvet veils. He isn't gentle as he fucks Doul and doesn't care if he hurts him. He even expects his calmness to be broken.
The Brucolac pushes Doul forward with a hand between his shoulder blades, and uses the other hand to wrap around his waist, thrusting quickly and forcefully. Doul doesn't get aroused, he can feel it. He groans as he comes, coating Doul's narrow passage with his semen. Then he checks on him and finds his back covered in sweat.
So he does have feelings, not a numb stone. The Brucolac readjusts him. His hands rubs up and down the thick shaft, bringing it alive. He hears the sound of Doul's quickening breath when he comes again. Under the repeated stimulation Doul cries out, his opening clenching around the vampir's member. And then he starts to come, shaking and gasping and burying himself in the Brucolac's embrace.
"Hush. Easy... easy..." the Brucolac kisses his fair but lost face, and wants to remember this moment forever.
When the Brucolac and his men came out to fight after dark, the battle was almost over. He witnessed a shocking scene on the Grand Easterly’s deck.
Uther Doul stood alone on the bowsprit. Limbs and body parts gathered over the deck. The Possible Sword was dripping with blood and his clothes was covered in thick liquid.
There was a short silence, and then Doul fell forward into the sea opaque with darkness.
Uther Doul rarely got wounded after mastering the Possible Sword, but it happened sometimes.
Armada was attacked by a mysterious group of warships near the water of Nova Esperium. These ships certainly came prepared. They obviously knew the city's trajectory and carried some kind of charmed weapons from The Gengris. Which wounded Armada massively, Doul got hurt in the attack too.
He was pulled out of the water by the menfish, dolphins and Remade. The Brucolac lifted him, running up toward his quarters aboard the Grand Easterly.
The doctors and mediwitches and thaumaturges in Armada hurried to the Grand Easterly. They tried every alternative therapy to keep him alive and finally they did it. Everyone knows that Uther Doul is part of the bedrock of the city, they can’t afford to lose him.
The Brucolac sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the unconscious Doul, who looked so pale and fragile. The Brucolac thinks back to that terrible moment when Doul fell into the sea, shocked by his fear of losing him.
The Brucolac has to leave before dawn, returning to his flagship. The he-Lover replaces him.
This evening, when the Brucolac gently opens the door, Doul has been awake. He's sitting with his back against the headboard, weak and exhausted. The Possible Sword is in the weapons rack, wiped clean and glistening slightly.
"I cannot believe that Liveman Doul's been injured." the Brucolac surprises even himself that why he says that.
Doul actually smiles, sort of. "Thanks," he whispers.
"Don't. I won't let you die. You cannot die unless I defeat you."
"I'm a quick, and you, you are a vampir Brucolac," Doul said slowly, "I shall certainly die before you."
"I know. So, when you are dying, I will get you and drink your blood in time-make you a
vampir." He walks over to Doul, catches his face with both hands and kisses him.