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Of Dark Blood and...

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Through a veil of steam, laced in honey and musk, he gazed upon his reflection in the split ceiling mirror. Absolute, lethal beauty embraced in white waters – a bride of the night for an adoring husband to delight in another day anew. Ageless, his pale skin glistened in the sedate candlelight, flawless like milk on snow blanketing perfectly chiselled limbs underneath. Gilded locks cascaded down on him; they clung to his graceful neck, a worthy frame to the masterpiece that he was.

Wine had graced his lips with a smile; a lazy tilt of his head, slender fingers circling the marmoreal plains of his abdomen, and the relentless hematite of his piercing eyes flashed in ardour. Such a perfect creation... waterlilies swaying in rippling waves as his carmine fingernails raked his thigh.

"Look at me, Wolfgang. This is how you made me, my beloved."

The flame caged in his hand danced wildly, a stinging warmth seeping down... tears of pride and joy of those eyes that were no more. Eternal love, undying adoration – a moment sacred to them alone. John Montague held the blackened skull of his beloved in his palm, his breath mingling with the ambrosian scent of decay. Only Wolfgang Zaberisk could make him feel like this; if only those saturnine eyes could capture his heart once again, through the sorrowful bars of duty and morality, and see the beauty he could not cherish long enough...

Then there was a certain knock on the door. Arriving at this early an hour, enveloped into sweet amber and rotting... it could be no one else than his faithful servant, his sweet boy. His lips bore a nonchalant smirk as the creature he had raised emerged from the shadow, into the solitary light of his beloved.

The servant he had named Agathion bowed deep before his master, the scorching red flames of his mane licking his gaunt cheeks. Black melted into blackness whence he came, as was well and proper for his disciple of the night.

"Master, I have fulfilled my mission."

Such a sedate tone, dark and smoky words fell into his bathwater like a coffin into an open grave. He was his right hand and his holy spear, the nocturnal beauty to shine upon his own stellar radiance... yet ever so meek. Was he afraid of his dear tutor? John Montague smiled; a slow, deliberate turn in the stale water to reach his lost little child.

"Step to the light, Agathion. Show yourself to me."

In the dark, he knew his creation by heart; he knew every soft or broken spot, every discolouration and trace of foreign scent embroidered in his body. Yet the smell of fresh blood was manifest, embracing his boy, his flawed youth. Irresistible... he beckoned his servant closer, shivering as that strange power returned to him despite the man towering over his gainly form.

There it was, the source of his inexplicable attraction; the long-nailed, gaunt hand laid on the boy's chest to honour his master. Dark red flowers peppered a shredding bandage tied across his palm, stigmata not meant for the master's eyes. John Montague's eyes narrowed to slits as he imagined what could have done this; a knife, fire, or perhaps teeth… all was possible where his boy trod, and the wildest of his guesses brought a placid smile on his lips.

"How careless, Agathion. What have you done to yourself, my boy?"

Was that fear in his eyes, the glint of gold before the furnace? Oh yes, that was the Agathion he knew, the one he had so lovingly shaped to his delight. Though at times, his little lapdog liked to act all shy...

"It's nothing, sir, I swear."

It was a certain thrill, yes, to see if he would bite the hand that feeds, and every time he waited for it. Yet he knew it would never happen.

Hastily, his servant withdrew his hand back into the dark depths of his sleeve. That precious liquid dripped to waste, unseen, and John Montague kept himself from frowning – from carving those fine imprecations across his brow. To think his beloved had to watch such impudence – it was unforgivable. How kindly his Wolfgang had treated this poor sod, offering medicine where only life could have moulded his character!

"Are you being ungrateful? Take it off now... that's a good boy."

Like a serpent, the bandage came loose, meandering down the man's arm and onto the faintly glowing floor. It was a nasty wound, uneven and near putrefaction; yet upon the gentlest of touches, bright and pure elixir jetted forth through its undeserving, rotting nest. John Montague watched the spatters of blood as they blossomed on Agathion's ashen skin; they beckoned him closer, yet touch was not enough where the taste was what defined the sweetest of delicacies.

So warm, so rich... He shivered as the scarlet stream danced on his tongue, seeping to fill the fine creases on his lips. Agathion's blood could not be farther from pure, yet he had never been finicky about such a thing. It had been years since he had taken this poor sparrow under his wing, received his oath and claimed his virtue; yet he was still young... and the blood of the living had such a piquant aftertaste.

"What a clumsy boy you are... Join me, Agathion. Wash off this fouled blood."

Agathion's pulse roiled against his thumb, the carmine crescents of the master's fingernails etched deep into the servant's thin flesh; all it took was one long, moribund look for the servant to yield with a cold kiss on the count's hand.

"Master's wish... is my command."

His tremulous voice drowned under the thundering sound of heavy fabric – the robe of the brotherhood - sliding onto the floor, wispy as the red slivers of light reticulating across his newly exposed form. Just how much of that sweet elixir of youth could run underneath such a beautifully battered shell, John Montague wondered... well, every time he got a cut closer with his guesses, an inch deeper in parting the Red Sea of his.

Shadow hooded the expression on his boy's face, that of a wintery pure maiden as the invisible strings tensed; slowly pulling the boy closer until the warmth of his body crashed into the cold water, cradled in dulcet ripples and a fragrance from hell. His unholy matrimony; his darling, long-legged Agathion so uncomfortable sprawled before him, aquiver and so decadent... The boy would promptly fill his glass should he extend his arm; he would gladly begrime his hands for his master's cause. Why was he now afraid of giving him what he needed the most?

A rapt sigh emerged from the count's lazily curving lips, following the leisured course of his hands. All sharp angles, bone and cuts; slumped in fear, in bruised iridescence, all of it merely serving to the glory of his sweet boy.

"You're so young, Agathion. So young and beautiful, my boy... don't you find it unjust?"

From the moment John Montague Sandwich had stepped out of his carriage that snowy night, he had chosen not to hide his true face from that ragged, red-haired urchin that lay crushed under the wheels. He had carefully planted his pale little carnation into his blood-soaked soil, watered it with sweet little lies and nourished it to full bloom with loving lashes; every grown inch passing through his hands and past his eyes – the only part of him that burned unchanged, reflected in the hourglass.

"Master hasn't aged a day since I met him. You are the picture of perfection, my lord."

Oh, gone were the days when such empty, diplomatic words were overruled by fire of spirit and defiant adolescence – and a speaking doll was not what Count Sandwich had raised Agathion to be. Beautiful – if he truly were the spitting image of perfection itself, then why would his servant not even look at him?

"So cruel... You see how I suffer, how I wither away. Does it please you?"

The boy never ceased to amuse him though, to bring that poised smile of victory to his lips with his range of shackled emotions. His eyes were so startled, so denying of the master's words... he thought it a lie? Oh, the boy had merely trodden this sordid world for a few decades; of course he would not have mercy on his poor master, seventy-six years of age...

"Your youth, Agathion... Give it to me again, and you will not go unrewarded."

Warmth rushed into the water in crimson cataracts, carried on fragrant crests onto his expectant skin. Enchantment waltzed with the needle-thin blade, took possession of the limbs entwined; a sigh of frustrated pleasure as red lips squelched on the maiden stab. He wanted to swallow all of that skin, devour its youth to tap into the life beneath. With nothing more than a snap of his fingers, he could have anyone he wished – someone younger, someone prettier, someone untouched – but Agathion was the one habit he could not kick.

Nor could the boy; his perfectly sculpted muscles jerked underneath his master's touch, able to make him break into a run yet shackled by the reluctant passion echoes in his throaty moans. His pain was his outlet, the way to unleash the potential within him; Agathion had only one person to thank, only one master to serve for letting him discover the pleasure in agony. Oh, what a quick learner the boy had been...!

"Master... please..."

Little by little, foreplay carved itself across the young man's quivering flesh, sweeping beautiful red contours into the water as the count savoured his exquisite hors d'oeuvres. The blade was leading the dance, a beautiful circle dance around the blossoming buds of Agathion's chest, paving the road behind with scarlet roses by each ardent bite. Water turned stale and paled in envy, and Count Sandwich felt the other's temperature rise hand in hand with his own. How he wanted to consume the pulse from the boy's neck, to drain him dry through the lovely pit of his collarbone until the boy was but a beautiful shell upon him.

Yet he could not do that; he needed Agathion and he needed his blood, and Agathion needed him – needed the hand that guides, the lips that called his name time and again... and what more? His unbridled desire burned brightly in the master's lap, in darkened reverence for such sublime beauty in flesh; and what was John Montague, by his noble name, to deny a poor unfortunate of his release?

"Is that the way to return my affection? Think again, Agathion..."

Moist, auburn locks mired his hand and he sighed, his restless fingers kneading the shapely skull underneath. The despair of a trapped animal caressed his elegant features, reflected from the boy's flushed face. Impatient as always, his sad, sweet Agathion; how easy it was to drive him in unjustified turmoil! Such agitation was not good for the boy... yes, he would need to cool off lest he should ignite like the phoenix bird he never quite was.

A splash and the count's claw sank underwater, his grip steel to hold the momentarily shocked and spasming body of the young man in place. Was he screaming he could not hear it; all that mattered to him was that Agathion went down on him, guided by his gentle hands, that baptismal rapture breaking the count out in shudders of relief. Silence fell upon him, sweeping over the eerie ripple of water; his body rested shipwrecked, captive between porcelain and velvet – that delicious, industrious mouth engulfing his expectant member.

So wonderful... ah, he was truly his master's boy, so profound in his delightful ministrations. John Montague arched his back in dreamlike languor, reaching for his glass of forgotten claret to quell the moans that tickled his lips, to complete the crimson circle of life that could only flow between a loving father and his obedient son.

Theirs was a bond so strong that their pushed limits echoed each other, in sharp gasps and jerking muscles; both breathless through different reasons. Little Agathion was so drowning in love, gripping fast not to give up, yet the master would not have him finish this concerto after a mere interlude. His wine-stained hand found Agathion's, dislodging its grip from between his thighs and claiming it for a kiss above the surface.

Like a siren from the depths of the ocean, his boy arose to his master's loving arms, gasping and coughing water like a fountain. The blaze of his golden eyes was that of a drenched feline, shocked and bewildered – and the lack of air had graced his face with blue undertones. John Montague licked his lips at the delicious sight; a broken flower in his prime, begging to be plucked despite the other's desire to cherish such a rare little beast. His hand, clawed and coupled to a sixth blade that matched his fingernails in red, caressed the boy's fascinatingly crooked spine down to the one deep crack of his faulty little porcelain doll.

"You are mine, Agathion. You will give me eternity as I gave you your life. Let me carve this promise into you..."

Salt on his lips, the knife went in with a devout flourish, the sword in its scabbard with a grating cry. He reached deep within the other, never once halting until the innermost sanctum, the heated embrace reflected in the crimson initials creeping across the boy's back. It had been too long since he had delighted in this body, groaned as it yielded to every inch of him and shaped to him exclusively.

Yet Agathion was no longer the same boy of thirteen he had raised as his own – the boy he had lovingly initiated into the cult, the soul and body he had claimed on that wooden table stained by centuries. The boy had become a man, taken after his master's sensual appetite and claimed his standing in the dark brotherhood of Hell-Fire – how proud it made the one who had shown him the way! Yet what a double-edged sword that was, having his sweet little Agathion taste the pleasures of both domination and submission; no longer was his body that of the tender age, but rather one that often claimed its own in turn. All those beautiful, unspoiled children and the already debauched temptresses – did his little boy spread just as wide for them, moan in such rapture or scream his love louder with each thrust?

It was so wrong, so foul and ungrateful – not at all how Count Sandwich had raised this boy to be, a boy not even his own flesh and blue blood. An act of pure grace and good will... if it was a life freely given, was it not one he could claim for himself whenever he wanted? He would not let anyone else have him, be it a high ranking member of the order or a noble lord to whom the boy was obliged to – Agathion was his alone, his flesh and blood were his master's to feed on. A frown surfaced under the weight of that crystallized crown of sweat upon his temples, deaf to the climactic cries his teeth ripped from the other's lips. Agathion would never leave him, he would make sure; he needed his guiding light, the cane to punish the erring child.

It was selfish, all-consuming love John Montague had for his boy, governed by a passion greater than life itself. The red of his desirous jealousy burst out in a liquid flare, a red-hot blessing flooding all over him from the mark he feverishly engraved into the other's chest... to carve his memory deep in his boy's young heart. Agathion would never forget; how could one ever forget a life given?

Drinking from him, the master would live forever; sealing the deep wound with a deep kiss, he trembled in a trance, thrusting and thrusting through his penultimate shards of sanity. He no longer felt the boy's body around him, nor did he hear his consumed pleas; for new life flowed within him, stronger and stronger until the bright light prevailed, swallowing his pure white triumph to an abyss ten leagues beneath contempt.

Like a newborn baby, John Montague stretched his arms and legs, shielding his bloodshot eyes from the cruel reflections in his churning pond. His skin had regained the alabaster lustre of the days of yore, his hair borrowed its sheen from the fabled love child of Father Sun and Mother Moon… the sparkle of Agathion's wildly running tears.

"Would you run away if I let you, Agathion? Would you make it?"

He opened his heart to his beloved Agathion, whose own barely pounded mere inches away from the slowly closing hole between his ribs. The boy did not bear to look at his master; had the transformation been too much for his tender eyes?

"No... my lord… I would never leave your side."

He shivered like a maple leaf in the cemetery wind, draped in but his crimson web of gashes as he collected himself, limb by limb to descend from the bath tub. The path his master watched him limp down glowed beautifully in the withering candlelight, tinted as the wine that no longer adorned the abandoned crystal glass.

Like a phoenix, his beloved boy rose from his ashes and shut the heavy door behind him. His abundant essence still salted the glorious chalice the other swam in, seeping down his master's fingers as he savoured each drop of his elixir. Nothing else of his presence remained; the light was nearly out, and John Montague reached out for his fire – his eternal fire where his beloved Count Zaberisk had watched him all along. He wanted to see his newborn form as his love had seen him.

"Look at us, my love... We are the perfect family, Wolfgang."

The seraph from the ceiling above laughed back at his words, those dark eyes blazing with blame as they pierced right through the man. What he saw was not him, it could not be after this…! That self-sufficient grin was not his, those wrinkles were not his – an imposter penetrating his sanctuary and trying to taint his mind with filthy lies of men... mortal men!

"Begone, you filth!"

Smash. Shards of bliss rained down from above, a chorus for his eternal beauty as they kissed his unmarred form in scarlet reverence. No more would the vile apparition laugh at him, for he was perfect, young again; in life's embrace smelling of metal, he bathed like a baby in his mother's womb. The cruel mirror, his constant beholder, now tasted the beauty of his body; unfelt, it slit his skin in exchange for the rain of blood upon white.

"We are immortal, Wolfgang. You and me."

Gently, he licked away the tears of blood that ran from the empty sockets of his beloved, and picked away the single shard that had pierced the skull. His beauty would never fade, no... for as they said, love never dies.