When Senêrouxe As’phyxiar stands at the door, waiting for the man he’ll kill, his mind wanders to his sister.
The mental link between her and him is vast, thicker than sin. He “opens up” the link.
He’s coming, Senêrouxe thinks at his sister.
Did you prepare the poison?
Already in his wine. I made sure it was well-mixed. He won’t taste it until it’s too late.
Good. I’m proud of you, brother. You’ve always been the bolder of us two.
I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you, Annis.
You’re welcome, Sen. Good luck.
And the link “closes.”
Senêrouxe closes his eyes, taking a deep breath in. His hands shake, his mind beginning to focus. He shoves it back into thinking on his goal. Tonight, the one man who’s troubled him so deeply and dearly - ever since those old college days - is finally going to die. He knows this.
He still remembers the blood on his hands when he found his lover’s body (murdered by that thing he’s inviting to dinner, that monster), and the way his lover’s eyes had looked. Caris had such inviting, relaxing eyes. They were his comfort in times of experimentation. They were the thing he had often dreamt of. And yet they had been so glassy when he looked into her eyes for the last time.
That alone is enough for him to put in the deadliest, most painful poison his sister could procure into the wine. He takes another deep breath, leaning against the doorway for support. He’s cut his hair to shoulder length - he’s cleaned up more than usual, with the help of his terrified assistant Lutin. There would be no hesitation.
Tonight, he’s going to watch as Levitas Aversen chokes on his own blood, eyeballs leaking out of his head. Due revenge for Caris.
Levitas smiles as he walks up to the door. He’s just as well-groomed, his purple eyes shining in the dim light. He seems to have dressed in his sharpest attire for this occasion, if the self-satisfied smirk he’s wearing on his face is any indication.
“You’re holding the door open for me, Senêrouxe? How considerate.”
“Guest courtesy,” Senêrouxe hisses.
Levitas pauses and helps himself to a chuckle. “I should have invited myself over to your private abode earlier, then. What is the saying in the cabarets and brothels I’ve started running recently…” He pauses in faux-thinking. It’s incredibly obvious he already knows the answer, but the pause is enough for Senêrouxe to escort Levitas inside and remove his coat from his shoulders.
After that, Levitas finally lets out an “Ah! Yes!” and continues on with his response: “The guest is king.”
“Yes, yes, the guest is king,” Senêrouxe grumbles, tossing Levitas’ coat into the coat room.
“I saw that,” Levitas sing-songs softly.
“You saw nothing. Now, to the guest’s dining room.”
As Senêrouxe and Levitas walk together, Levitas decides to indulge in Senêrouxe’s least favorite past time: small talk.
“How has your internship under Malphas been fairing, Senêrouxe?”
Senêrouxe sighs. “He’s a manipulative bastard on a bad day, but he has his bright moments. The studies we do together are enlightening.” He tries not to show any sign of obvious irritation, but the way his hands are shaking says otherwise.
“Excellent work, Senny! I can say I’ve been learning a lot under Balam. I can’t wait to rob him of everything he holds dear,” Levitas chirps in that trust-fund, go-get-em voice of his.
Senêrouxe adds that specific tone of his under his list of reasons why he hates Levitas.
They get into the dining hall. It’s blanketed in a sickly green glow, the ornate green-fire candles adding a rather strange ambiance to the place.
Sitting there is Senêrouxe’s wine glass and, of course, Levitas’ special glass.
Senêrouxe seats himself. He takes a sip of his wine. He’s laced it with a milder poison - Annis helping him with poison immunities means that most poisons are now delicious spices he uses in his foods and drinks.
Levitas seats himself, too. “What wine is this?”
“Talarajah Estate. Second Era vintage. Be grateful I’d waste such an old wine on such a repulsive, lustful little creature like you.”
“Talarajah Estate?” Levitas gasps in mock surprise, smirking. “You know me too well, dear Senny.”
“Call me that one more time and I don’t care about ‘the guest is king,’ I will stab you in the hand.”
“Like you would really do it.” Levitas smirks even wider. The small talk continues.
Levitas keeps putting the glass near his lips, but interrupting himself to spew more verbal refuse Senêrouxe quite frankly could care less about. It’s got Senêrouxe on edge, his teeth practically grinding.
Levitas starts swirling the wine in the glass lazily. “Remember Caris?” he says in a lighthearted tone, and Senêrouxe’s claws dig into the armrests of his chair.
“Yes,” Senêrouxe growls, “I remember her every day of my life.”
“She was so beautiful, wasn’t she? Sometimes I wish she hadn’t overstepped her bounds so deeply. She could have been better. Oh… Senny, she could have been one of us.” The wine glass dips right near Levitas’ lips, yet it doesn’t enter his mouth.
“What are you trying to say, Levitas?”
Levitas’ smirk is at its peak.
“If she hadn’t gotten so close to you, Senêrouxe… if she’d backed away when she’d been told… I would have let her live. But she staked herself on you, and it cost her her life. In a sense, that means it’s your fault she died, doesn’t it?”
Senêrouxe’s teeth are audibly grinding against each other. He says nothing, taking a very deep breath in and out.
“Ah, but this wine… I simply must have a sip,” Levitas says, finally pouring the wine into his mouth. Senêrouxe waits in anticipation. Levitas would fall to his knees choking any minute now.
Levitas still sits in his chair, smirking that infuriating, stubborn grin.
“Is something the matter, Levitas?”
Levitas throws his head back and laughs, high and mocking.
“I didn’t think you’d be so bold to taint this wine with Ced’ric’s Corizet! Of all the poisons to choose, you had to pick the one I’m most immune to.”
Senêrouxe’s face goes slack and pale, his eyes freezing over with blind rage.
Levitas throws the wine glass down on the ground, shattering it. He’s still laughing, still smirking, still staring with that violet look of amusement. “Senêrouxe, you’re willing to attempt to murder me over a murder from five years ago? Over some hopeless, foolish, idealistic bitch of a g-”
And that’s when Senêrouxe finally snaps, drawing a knife from his sleeve and practically throwing himself over the table to stab Levitas. Levitas grabs Senêrouxe’s wrist, deflecting his knife and throwing the man down on the ground.
The two begin to grapple with each other, Senêrouxe making the motions to stab Levitas with Levitas trying to grab his wrists and stop him. “How dare you say that about Caris?! HOW DARE YOU?! I LOVED HER! I LOVED HER AND YOU BUTCHERED HER BODY FOR ME TO FIND!”
Levitas smiles. “Oh, Senêrouxe, you can’t kill me - you’ll never be able to kill me.”
“Watch me,” Senêrouxe spits, pressing down even further.
“I’ll live inside your head. I’ll corrupt your mind. I’ll take your heart, I’ll devour your soul. Fight me all you want, Senêrouxe, but I am patient, and I will make you hungry… hungry for something only I can give.”
Senêrouxe’s blade wavers, a few inches away from Levitas’ throat.
His face is still ashen pale, his eyes haunted and wide.
“Can you feel that, Senêrouxe? I can hear your fear pumping through your veins. I will take from you - and I will take more than you could have ever given to that dear bitch Caris.”
Senêrouxe goes quiet, his eyes meeting Levitas’.
“Do you understand now, Senêrouxe?”
The blade stills against Levitas’ throat. For a minute, Senêrouxe can feel the rush, the intoxication, the fever of Levitas’ Beguilement. In return, he bares his fangs and unleashes his own power - the fear, the rage, the clawing vice-grip of the Fear Invocation.
Levitas squirms and his eyes go wide with nothing short of pure dread. Meanwhile, Senêrouxe shakes like a cold man that will never be warm again. Caught up in the rush of two powers, the two writhe and fight there in Senêrouxe’s estate for hours and hours.
It’s a memory that sears its way into both of their heads for the rest of their lives.