Part I, The Hunter
He paused and sniffed the air. She knew death was following her and in a strange way, she welcomed it, longed for it. That is the paradox of mortals. They fear death more then anything else and yet, they long for its embrace. They try and push life to the limit to defy death. They only play at courage. They never truly know the face of death through their half closed eyes.
He had first seen the prey six days ago . . . Or was it more. Days had no real meaning, time was fleeting and there were times when weeks and months vanished to him. That was the paradox of the night. If you live forever, the time passes in spurts and leaps. Sometimes it seemed like years for one night to pass, sometimes it was a night and a year passed. Time was fluid and changing to those who gave it no mind.
He had seen her where she performed. Her lithe nude form twisting and turning on the stage in time with heavy rhythmic beats and discordant melodies. She had looked so alive, so tender. Her efforts made her blood race and her veins pulse and he caught scent of her need then. Her burning desire for him, for the night. She was, in a very real sense, waiting for him to come and kiss her, even then.
He had the impulse to leap upon the stage and take her before the eyes of the audience, but that was base and crass. Things like that marked those that would never be truly of the night. The night was seductive and subtle. It was not a harsh lover that took you by force. It slid into you as the day slid from the sky. While you were admiring the twilight it snuck up behind you and embraced you gently and rocked you into the shadows. At least that is how he remembered it, those many years ago.
Her skin was pale and clean of marks. He still found himself looking for pox marks after all these years, half expecting to see her beauty marred by purple scars of sickness. How terrible the death had been then, how merciless when it ravaged over everyone. While he had not felt the bite of sickness, he had felt the pain of hunger. The sick were taboo. The dying were best left to themselves, they were not for him or his kind. Those were days of famine to him and he turned his thoughts from them. No good to dwell upon them now when the prey was so close except to remind himself to be thankful. Like a grace to the night, he gave thanks for the bounty he followed from his hidden shadows.
He was hungry, but not hungry enough. His skin was still warm to the touch, enough blood coursed through his veins to satisfy his needs and then some. He paused to think about those within him. The mortal lovers of the past. Not lovers in the sense that mortals give to the word, making it trite and without real meaning. Not just someone he had had sex with. No, these were real lovers. Those who were part of him now. Their life was his and he enjoyed them in ways no mortal could understand. They beat in his heart and made him warm. They sustained him through his sleep. They were more then just sexual partners, they were part of him and he could still taste the dying breath of each one.
He always finished the prey off, always took the last taste of life. It angered him when some left their prey alive after embracing them. Left them to live a half life, devoid of passion for anything but death and the dying. He was attracted to the life within his lovers. How could he then leave them shells without any passion when he was done? He could not bring himself to leave them shells wishing only for his kiss. He cared for them too much for that. So that was why he waited. He needed his hunger to be so great it was consuming, that was his tribute to the prey, the lover, he would take tonight.
He always had sex with his prey; he liked to feel himself in them as they slowly ran down his throat in return. While some consider this to be akin to bestiality, having sex with mortals, he was not so lofty in his ideals. He never considered mortals a different breed and felt to do so was hubris. He looked at it like when he was still mortal. There were nobles, there were peasants, they were the same breed and just different stations. Traditions like Carpe Noctum were the act of the nobles blessing the peasants’ weddings by sleeping with the bride. It was a blessing to them and not a base act of debauchery. He blessed his victims with such passion; they finally knew true satisfaction as they closed their eyes.
This belief was not from an over inflated ego. It was from 500 years of practicing this art and being willing to learn even more from those who had been practicing it for thousands of years. He was night’s lover. He was the passion and mystery and pleasure within the night, the sensuality of shadows, the burning desire of dreams that can only come when the midnight hour has long ago sounded. He was the flesh of the night’s touch and the night was the most consummate lover of them all. It seduced the entire world every day and the world never resisted. It seduced it and then cradled it in its arms until daylight could no longer be denied. It was a quiet and thoughtful lover; it was discrete and never told its secrets. So he was as well. He was the last secret his lovers ever knew, the eternal secret that they never revealed.
Part II, The Prey
Sasha went by the name Angel on stage. She didn’t look anything like a typical angel. Her long dark hair, alabaster skin, dark eyes, and full red lips that looked like they were stained with blood gave her the opposite look and she liked that. She was a dark angel of sin on the stage and men drooled and begged for her attention. She was their goddess and they lay down dollar bill tithes for her benevolent smile to be cast in their direction.
Then he came in. His eyes did more then look at her. She could feel him touching her with his gaze, caressing her skin and running his thoughts over her flesh as she danced. In a dark room of men, he was a shadow she could feel.
There was no way for her to know who he was. She did not know any of the many names he had gone by through the many years of his life. She did not know that his gaze was more than a gaze, it was a taste, a fondle, a promise he gave to her. But she could feel all of that. She could feel him holding her with that look. Those eyes piercing through the smoke filled room and enveloping her mind and swallowing her whole.
There was pride in that look he gave her. Most men had hunger or want in their looks but, not him. He had pride in it, he was proud of her. It was as though in that look he made her his and possessed her. She was his as soon as he gazed upon her. He watched and grew hungrier for her as they wanted her more. Her dance became inspired by that gaze and she found herself defining the bounds of her performance by her look. She danced for the other men to watch but, only for him to see.
She had been attracted to other men who watched her before but, that was just a physical thing. This man did not beg for her attention, did not struggle to catch her eye, and did not give her a posed “cool look” when her eyes fell upon him. He watched her as though she was an old friend, or an old lover, that he had not seen in years. There was a joy in the gaze that told her that he was here to see her and no one else.
There was a fluttering in her stomach which she hadn’t felt in many years, like her first lover’s touch on her when she was still a virgin and the excitement of Christmas morning when she was a child all rolled into one. It was the strangest feeling, a feeling of innocent decadence. It was like the tooth fairy that would slide into her bed and not just take the tooth. It was the sandman who would give her erotic dreams. That look, it made her feel fresh, new, innocent and at the same time, dirty and decadent. She had the strange feeling that this man was dangerous to her. He would be like black tar heroin in her veins. If the first hit didn’t kill her, she would be hooked for life.
She had no way of knowing how dangerous he was to her. She had no way of knowing who he was and that his presence there indicated the end of her, at least as she knew it. She had dark fantasies. She had longings. She had dreams that she could be part of the night. But the man knew better. The man knew it was like when he was a child those many years ago, when the peasant children would play noble. They would pretend for moments, hours, in their fantasy world, that they could be the ruling class. But they never could. He, as a child, and this woman on the stage, had no way of knowing the truth . . . that nobility chose you. You did not choose nobility.
Nobility was not the acquisition of power, but rather, the expression of power. Mortals could not see beyond the ticking of the clock, the second hand defining their lives, the hour hand defining their dreams. Power was the ability to go beyond this. In the night, the ticking of a clock and the beating of a heart, the passing of a day and the passing of a life, are all the same in the shadows. Nobility is the ability to see this, but more than that, it is the ability to understand this. This is why her dreams, longings, fantasies and aspirations were the same as a child wearing a paper crown.
Sasha danced for him. She danced with every bit of passion in her soul. Suddenly, the lithe and supple movements of her body were begging him for his attention. She wished she could do more, but she would be fired. She wanted to run her hands over her body to show him what his gaze was doing to her, wanted to pull on her nipples, rub her fingers deep into herself to let him know that it was all for him, let him know how aroused she was. How wet. How wanting. But what she didn’t know was that he knew already. His gaze tasted it all.