"Mistress.....", in my mind I can see my home, viewed as if from the direction of the port. Nareth's voice in my head.
"You are near" I project back.
"Very. We have to talk, and we have to talk soon."
"OK Nareth, I will make a polite excuse", there is a pause, Nareth is searching for something.
"Jedburgh. My mind is racing, and there are too many images. I am become confused.". I smiled to myself, she was prying into my mind and could not divine my emotions.
"If I must leave her now, after a pleasant evening. I cannot simply walk away."
"Do what you must do, Mistress. I serve you."
I bid good night to Jedburgh,and without a thought for the night time and the cold air, left by the front door and headed to where I had seen the view of my house.
"You were occupied.", I flinched at the prying, and changed the subject as I sought my response.
"Would you prefer somewhere less public?"
"It would be best, yes."
"I was occupied, yes. my mind may no longer be my own, but my life is. We should go to the lab. We are less likely to be interrupted"
"Very well.", Nareth lead the way, we walked in silence, both mentally and verbally. There was a new tension in her mind, things had changed, she had changed.
As we entered the lab and climbed to the loft, Nareth relaxed noticeably. I rubbed my arms to warm up, the meagre heat from the stove downstairs did little to heat the loft.
"Curse this cold weather, I really should have brought a proper coat out with me.", Nareth rubbed her fingers over the lid of the coffin.
"We have much to talk of Nareth."
"Yes", she replied and raising a hand, the loft door closed at her gesture. "Are you pleased? Have I served you well?"
"You have gone beyond our intention. He is gone."
"Have I then?"
"you have Nareth"
"And how is that?"
"The choice you gave me. It was couched in the terms of two events that I felt at least were to coincide. The destruction of Moriarty, or his removal as a threat, and the distraction of your lady to prevent the destruction of this world. Though she did not come, is she still a threat?"
"That was not an element of our bargain. My Lady lies beyond my servitude to you. Moriarty is not presently a threat and, in the bargain, the Cuckoos are gone. How have I gone farther than was your intention?". Nareth stared down at the coffin.
"You misread my thoughts, I am very pleased with the results of your service Nareth."
"You vex me, Mistress. My mind..is...thrown down...Speak...as plainly as you may."
"Nareth, the return of the twins, was always your choice, it served my purpose also."
"They did not wish to be here."
"Moriarty, has been vanquished"
"Moriarty...Jason...Jason...is broken now."
"He was always broken Nareth, dysfunctional. Eliot made him so."
"I do not mean that he his insane. I mean, Mistress, that now he is broken. The pieces will not soon reassemble. He is shattered."
"But he lives? May I sit?", I indicated to the sofa, and Nareth distractedly caressed the coffin lid, and without looking up signalled me to sit.
"I did not kill him.", she turned towards me. "He may still live, in some form.", Nareth smiled softly at me.
"So you have achieved what I wanted and the return of the twins an added bonus"
"So, you are pleased?"
"Of course I am."
"As is my Lady."
"However, we have a problem do we not?"
"That is dependent upon your definition of "we". I have a problem. My appearance now, will not pass for human, and people saw things. I almost destroyed them all, to hide the truth. But...you would have been displeased.". I thought of my friends and neighbours, how could she even contemplate such loss?
"I would. You fear them. They will fear you.", Nareth took out a bit of ribbon and tied her hair back.
"I do not fear them...I need have no fear of them. They can only destroy me."
"and that holds no meaning for you?"
"No. Even that would serve my Lady.", She paused, looking at the coffin once again,"Mistress...there are things I must say...You are aware that my honesty in our bargain was...compromised? That I withheld facts?". I looked down at the floor, fearful of what other condition I had missed, what further consequence of my Faustian pact was about to be revealed. "You know this, yes?"
“Yes. My Lady cannot lose. My Lady will always win. All ends suit her needs.The dice are still rolling. I can try to speak more plainly.
“Those dice Nareth, they are weighted against me?”
“They are weighted against no one and nothing. You cannot weight chance. You cannot weight chaos.”
“If all ends suit her needs then why withhold facts, you play with me, with my life, my friends, my .. loves.”
“I serve my Lady, even as I serve you. I act as she bids me act.”
“Beq.”, Nareth laughed very softly.
“In our bargain, at then end when she arrived she would decide my fate.”
“She decides the fate of all.”
“Neither you nor I can dissolve this bond.”
“No. It will last for all time. But..I have served well. Yes?”
“You have, except for the deception”
“Deception...”, Nareth looked hurt
“Too strong a term. I'm sorry”
“No. I did act to deceive. It is what I am.”
“What you allowed between Orchid and I, hurts still, though I am sure it pleases your lady.”
“What I allowed? You are puppet?”. Nareth turned, smiling.
“No, and yet I am human.”
“You wished me to intercede? Stop your passions?”
“You play with me, those passions lay buried.”
“No. They...are still in you. They are strong. But...I will not touch the Orchid. Nor must you. Unless it is your wish?”
“They are, but they are not returned, those passions must remain untouched.”
“Does that not anger you? To be so denied? To be seen as...”, Nareth smiles.
“No, I have denied them for many years, not for Orchid alone.”
“Not for Orchid alone, no.”
Nareth glanced down at the floorboards.
“I vowed never to let another into my heart Nareth, Talem was the only one. But the heart does not accede to such requests, and so I bury those desires deep, I am well practised, I was..”, I trailed off
"Talem...", Nareth whispered.
“My first, my truest love.”
“Yes. I see that now...”
“..see that now.”
“Mistress, will you suffer me to come nearer?”
“You may come Nareth”, Nareth nodded moving closer, bringing her face near to mine.
“Please, look into my eyes...and look deeply. I must know something.
“must know something”
I looked up, lifting her goggles clear from her face I met her gaze, being drawn deep into the rich black eyes.
“Is there anything left of her? Anything at all, left of Nareth inside me?”
“I try to find her.”
“You are there, but I cannot tell how much. it is different now.”
“You...I...you mean...I am here?”
“I am here?”
“Yes, but also no, I am confounding this with vagaries.”, at this Nareth looked extremely confused and suddenly vulnerable.
“Then do not be vague.”
“You were there before, a presence in her mind, separate, perhaps trapped; a distinct will.”
“There is a secret I must tell you...though I do not know why I...A secret...”
“If you will, though I do not ask of it”. Nareth nodded slowly.
“She had strong feelings...”, Nareth's face slackened, “strong feelings..for you.”. I sighed deeply, shaking my head slowly in wonder. Nareth stared down at the floor. “You did not know this?”
“No, never. She was always ... remote”
“Yes...she was...she..was...a person unto herself. But...I am filled with echoes of her. They clang and they clamour within me. I would crush them...”, Nareth sniffed at the air.
“Crush them... bury them.”, Nareth nodded slowly, watching me.
“The rift that Moriarty opened, I closed. It robbed me of the last traces of my mortality.”
“We are the same, we hide”, I mused, half to myself, whether this was the thought that Nareth hoped to insert in my mind or not is unclear, but she ignored my words.
“But...I have done it. But...the rift is still there. All one needs is the knowledge, to open it. My Lady will come soon.”, she looked up at me, her large eyes meeting mine solemnly, “She will not come as a storm, but as a mild breeze, and she will stand where I stand, and all I ever have been will be no longer. These things are true, and I withhold no part of it.”. There was something almost like sorrow on Nareth's face, or the memory of sorrow. I stared back at the face before me, a great sadness in my mind. “Professor Nishi would have sealed the rift.”
“and she still can, that part of her the still survives.”, my voice almost pleading, betraying my desire to see the real professor once again. Nareth turned back towards the casket.
“It is a small, small boat, lost at sea, Mistress, at best...”
“I fear it is dissolved within that sea, for I no longer sense it as a whole, Nareth”, listening, she nodded very slowly.
“Nothing I do will contravene the will of my Lady. It is not possible.”.
“Is all..and yet...what is this I feel...?”
“and all ends are to her pleasing”, I added, mimicking her words. A tension grew within Nareth, anxiety, impatience.
“She is all ends. The dice are still rolling but Nareth, I see it in you, you do not want her to come. You love this world, this place too much.”
“Nareth...You tell me she is dissolved.”
“like salt in the sea.”
“She did so love the sea...I do not love. I remember love.”
“Is there a way back?”
“A way..back? To...Nareth?”
“Perhaps, yes. Can we reclaim her?”. My enthusiasm had drawn her attention back. Nareth stared intently at me for a moment.
“May I touch your hair, Mistress? I only mean...to touch...”, I gazed into Nareth's eyes, trying to sense her intentions, her desires, my mind echoed a curiosity. “..to feel...”.
“You may”, Nareth nodded recognition of the permit.
“You are..kind...”, Nareth lay a hand on top of my head, working her fingers into my hair. I closed my eyes, and swallowing at the build up of saliva, allowed myself to relax under her touch. The touch was delicate and Nareth's fingers continued until they reached my scalp, where the cold of her hand caused an icy a shiver to pass down my spine.
“Beautiful. She dreamt.”
Nareth's hand withdrew for a moment, then returned, her fingertips brushing the nape of my neck, the frost flowing across my skin, the touch was alien and yet not uncomfortable, the shiver part cold, part emotion; a mixture of fear and desire stirring in me.
“Mistress, I could give you everything. All time.”
“Take what I can give you.”
“Nareth, I fear that cold, the ice of your touch.”.
Her hand slipped around the back of my neck. “It is only death, and you will die, regardless.. All things die. All things.”, her face was close, she was whispering, I gasped, taking a deep breath in as the touch moved across my skin.”
I am no evil thing. I would have you know that. I am only indifferent.”. The sadness, loneliness in her voice echoed my inner feelings.
“No, not evil”, I looked at the casket beyond her. Nareth's nails dug into my neck, breaking the skin. I shuddered, jumping back slightly.
“You hurt me”
“It is only a very small pain. It passes so quickly.”
“Let me make you strong.”
“I am strong Nareth”
“No...you are brittle as autumn leaves.”
“This life, this life is strength”, a note of panic rose in my throat and Nareth's grip tightened very slightly. The shiver of cold became a wave, the fear and desire surging in equal parts, “to hold on to it takes will.”
“Miss Janus...”, Nareth's voice had changed very, very slightly. A familiar tone. I tried to pull away.”Do not struggle. She will kill you if you struggle.”
“who? who are you?”
“I am a ghost. Nothing more. I am salt.”
“Is that her, Mistress? Is that Nareth? is that me?
“Is that her, Mistress? Is that Nareth? is that me?
“Nareth, you knew me, you loved me.”
“I love you still.”
“..but she would take what is in me, what makes me me”
“She...it...is all that remains.”, A great darkness welled up inside my mind, threatening and dominating all thought. The fear won through, though the rush of energy from my own heart served both ends.
“Why would I want that?”, Nareth's grip had now become painful, I struggled but could not break free of her forceful hands. “This bleak desolation. You are hurting me Nareth, crushing.”, my eyes are wide and fearful. I writhe and pull trying to break free.
“Only a very brief pain.”. Then Nareth's voice changed again. The Professor is gone.
“Mistress...”, Nareth looked down at her hands and released my her grip on my throat.
“Nareth,” I stood up backing away from her. “ Nareth, you hurt me. please stop.”
“Yes.”, Nareth licked at the blood on her fingers.“You command me.”. I gingerly dabbed my hand at the wound on my neck, wet and sore to the touch, the same wet slickness as that on Nareth's fingers. There is a twinge, in my stomach, a connection, an arousal, I rub my bloodied fingers together, feeling the thickness, the silky depth of my own blood.
“I command you, and yet you can choose to hurt me?”, I am breathless, my heart still calming from the rush of the moment. There is no anger, not yet.
“You did not command me not to..do..so.”
“Nareth, I do not seek eternity.”, I see her offer, I imagine my life in her stead, it is a fearful, desolate, sad image.
“Whether or not you seek it, it has found you, Mistress. Eternity is nothing easily dismissed.”
“Nareth? What have you done?”
“I do...not...know...Mistress.”, her sad eyes now look back, lacking remorse. I backed away, seeking the door away to my right, with her in between, I would have to out run her. “It was not my *intent* to harm you. Command me to keep my distance.”. I stared at Nareth, but could I truly escape her? The thin light, catches upon her pale skin, her long slender neck and delicate throat. The fear, the threat, the power summoned up the desires. Nareth licked at her dry lips. To escape, to bury again that which would fill the void?
“Command me..if that is what you wish. But think...Power...Freedom...Love.
“Her echoes are within me.”
“no”, I shook my head, but even as I did so I felt my resolve crumbling. In the back of my mind a fight was raging, fear and desire, a roiling torrent of emotions. A voice screams out for control, my voice.
“And I may satiate all your...hungers. I may appear to you as her.
“her memories, you do not know love”. I grit my teeth, the voice, my voice returns.
“If you so wish. I cannot know love. But...I know devotion. I will be devoted to you forever. When the stars are embers...”, my head is filled with imagery, lovers touching, holding hands, caressing, walking, together. close, comfortable.
“It is not the illusion of love, the memory of love, it is the feeling, Nareth”
“...the feeling...”. Nareth stepped forwards. “I think you lie to yourself, Mistress. You would know this passion. You would be...free. You have not commanded me...”, and she is right, of course, she sees the doubt in me, I am torn. My head cries out against me, my heart races. “Only a very brief pain....”
“I ..”, I stumble back, “No Nareth”.
“Then we do not have to sleep alone.”, My heart convulsed at this, an end to my emptiness, a chance to fill the void. If I could not have what I desired, should I settle for that which desired me? Was it enough to be wanted?
“No”, my protestations continue.
“No... It is an ambiguous statement.”
“I do not want this, this existence you promise”, I backed up, finding myself now cornered the door a short dash way, but the path blocked but Nareth. She stopped before me and nodded slowly, a look of hurt on he face.
“Then I cannot give it to you. I was raped. I will not rape you.”, Nareth growled....a low sound reverberating. “I...no...not I...”, Nareth's face was in turmoil, I feel the pressures in my mind, Nareth was fighting, fighting herself as I did the same. I looked forlornly to the door and dropped to the floor, the energy , the fight leaving me. “It was not me...Mistress...The dice are rolling.”
I lay for a moment breathless against the wall.
“There is something in your eyes. I cannot touch you against your will. So..speak true.”, the question pierced me, my mind replayed the events, her hands in my hair, the curve of her neck, the light on her skin, the touch...
“the touch....that sensation...”
“When I have fed, I am warmer.”
“I see it in your dreams when you sleep, Nareth”
“You see it...You will always see it. Every kill I make.”, I closed my eyes, and relived the thrill, the kill, the rush of sensation as the warmth flows in to the body, the desires and hungers burning at the moment of the kill. Beneath that the joy and wonder of torture and pain. Her life as an animal, instinctive and inhuman, yet passionate and through her eyes through her senses made something of delight, every act rendered sensual.
“The kills I have made, and those whom I have tortured.”, Nareth laughs softly. Saucy Jack...oh, he would have loved you.”. Nareth looked down at me, no cruelty in her eyes, beckoning to me, offering comfort. “You need not be alone anymore. Ever”. She reached up with a slender arm, and pulled down her long flowing hair.
“May I sit with you?”, I looked away, huddled in my confusion, waves of emotions fought for my mind, the voice of strength now a shallow cry in the howling gale of sensual experiences. “No, I may not.”, she interpretted, “very well”
“not with, Nareth, no, near”, my voice a whisper, I wanted to hold her, to be held, to feel those desires first hand, but she had assaulted me, my mind raged, she had attacked me, what else had she done to me? Nareth took two steps back, watching me as I raised my hand to my neck once again.
“You have not been infected, Mistress.”, the battle raged on, Orchid and Rip, assuring me of our friendship, assuring me that they were by my side through this.Their words comforting, buoying my resolve.
“I am not alone Nareth, not truly”
“No. I am here. Always. I will never leave you.”. Nareth looked up at the ceiling, then back to the crumpled form on the floor, back to me.
“The sun is setting.”
“I have my friends too, I lost sight of that, I felt the emptiness”
“Your..friends. Yes..you do. Mr. Wirefly. Others...”. I felt stronger, the emotional currents had subsided a little and I struggled back to my feet, leaning against the wall. She watched me carefully, I looked to the ceiling as she had, and then to the door, the pale rectangular outline fading fast with the setting sun. “It would be easier...in the night.”, Nareth looked down at the blood on her fingers. “Such pleasure, you cannot imagine.”. My mind was filled with a red warmth, satisfying, sustaining warmth. “Such...desire and the...ends of those desires.”
“It would be the end for they would destroy me”
It is not so simple, Mistress.”. The wound on Nareth's neck reopened, slick, dark blood oozed forth. “All things and all moments... When Nareth kissed Mina Harker...she saw you and now, echoe s of her have crossed ages...If I but gave you a taste...it would not change you. But you *would* see.”.
“not change me?”, lies and deception.
“No. That would require far more.”
“Is this another deceit Nareth?
“Command me to truth.”
“Be truthful Nareth”
“I am not seeking to deceive you. I am seeking to seduce you.
“and to draw me down?”
“There is no up, Mistress, and there is no down. I am not trying to debase you. Quite the contrary.”
“To change me though, you seek to have me by your side, I fear the casket, I , do not seek this desolation.”
“I feel that, yes. And yes, if I had my way...that would be my wish. I do not have my way. “. I looked up into Nareth's eyes. She stared back at me, back at her Mistress, licking her lips slowly. “Only the smallest taste...”, she raised a hand to the wound in her throat and I saw the red slickness there, the holes two puncture wounds, catching what light remained. “This is the kiss of Vlad Tepes...this was my birth.”. She slipped a finger inside the wound, sending a cascade of sexual sensation through to my own mind. It was followed by dread images, fear and shock, as Vlad Tepes took Nareth.
“He forced himself upon you.”, part statement, part question. Nareth withdrew her finger, it was red and wet.
“We were trying to kill him, Beq. We hunted him. But..yes.”. Nareth held out her bloody hand and I shook my head, denying it. Defying the impulses, my lips and teeth restraining the tongue that would probe and test. “Only a small taste...and you will feel such wonder, and such awe”. I turned my head to one side, my eyes watching the finger, my face straining to keep the distance, fearful of losing the internal battle as much as any other.
“Please, Mistress. This tiny gift.”, My breath now erratic, shallow and ragged, I cried out for my friends.
“They are not here. I am here.”, once more the images returned, the promises of support, Orchid, Rip, friendship.....trust....the void that needs to be filled, and loneliness, longing. “And you are free”. I stared wide-eyed and frantic around the room. I was trapped.
“free...”, a pleading, near silent whisper escapes my lips.
“Free.”, Nareth took a step nearer, raising the finger, “Please...”, she dabbed her lips with it, rouging them with her own blood. “A kiss.”. I stared up at Nareth, I licked my lips with my tell-tale tongue. “What so few mortal women have ever known.”. My heart pounded in my chest, my mind screamed, I parted my lips, my breathing quick, but as I did I turned my head away fighting the urge. “Why do you fight so? Your desire is so great.”
“freedom”, I whimpered.
“I shall not rob you of freedom.”. I felt the closeness of Nareth's face, a cold proximity. She delved into my mind. “I would be warm for you, if I could.
“It is the feeding I fear. I would not destroy my friends”.
“It is not necessary. We could leave this place. There are so many worlds...”, my mind was filled then with the glorious sight of the night sky, of suns, of galaxies and great constellations. I reached up and touched Nareth's hair and she cocked her head to one side, still staring into my eyes. “A kiss.”
“a kiss.”, she stepped forward, putting her arms around me. The fight now lost, I gave myself up to desire, turning my face upward, I close my eyes and Nareth kisses me...
I feel her cold lips upon my own, the tingling...I lick my lips, slowly, sucking at them, chewing them, turning away before turning back and kissing Nareth. MY lips planted firmly on hers.
“Tell me...Tell me true.”, Nareth's voice a whisper.
“deceit, beautiful deceit”, I say.
“Yes. And also truth.”
“...there is now no need of words.”
“...no words...”, I ran my fingers through Nareth's hair, pulling her face away, then returning to kiss her lips once more. With this Nareth gashed her own lips with her fangs, and blood flowed into my mouth. She held me tightly, I could not have moved if I had wished to, but I did not need to, did not want to. Without thinking about it I tasted the blood in my mouth, running it over my taste buds before swallowing it. I tensed, my body arched and writhed as a surge of pure ecstasy flowed through every muscle and sinew, every nerve and fibre, a wave like every orgasm I had ever had occurring simultaneously and pulling Nareth closer, squeezing her to me, I found she did not resist.
Nareth let her tongue slip past her teeth, entering my mouth, exploring. It was rough, like a cat's. I relaxed and accepted the tongue, probing around and beneath with my own. Nareth's hands rose, gripping each side of my head. She squeezed, but not in passion, there was force there, I snapped out of my reverie, opened my eyes and stared into Nareth's face, her open eyes staring back. I realised then that I could not move, and for a moment I simply hung there my lips parted, pressed against Nareth's mouth, my tongue flicking, licking at my teeth and gums. Nareth's body shudders, and a great gout of blood rises from her belly, up through her throat, flooding my mouth....her grip tightens. I gag, trying to deny the blood, it is icy cold...and it keeps coming, filling my mouth, my throat, I choke, I cannot breath, I have no choice. I swallow, drinking deep as the blood flows, and I remain locked in a vampires kiss.
As the flow of blood subsided Nareth began to relax her hold on me. I stared back, motionless, in shock and horror. Nareth pulled her mouth away from mine, a string of blood stretching between us for a moment.
“Mistress?”, she watched as I licked the blood trail hanging from my lips. “You are..beautiful and Nareth was filled with love for you. But...I am not Nareth.”
“not...Nareth”, the words strike but do not register.
“And you...you made a very bad bargain.”
“deceit”, the only response I have, the trauma and shock, the after thoughts careen through my mind. Nareth held me with one hand, while she wiped her mouth. “Do you feel all that I promised, because...that was no lie.”. Nareth leant forward, gently wiping my lips clean. “Mistress...”. I stared blankly back at Nareth. “It will take...days...There will be great pain, as this body dies.”.
“dies...”, I echo.
“I will take all the pain that I may. I will make it easy. It was not made easy for me. I was locked in a tower....alone.”
“alone”, I mouth the word. Anguish filled me, the terror of the experience overwhelmed me and dizziness came, I went limp. Nareth released me and stepped away.
“All ends serve my Lady.”
I slipped to the floor, no grief, no sobbing just cold, stark emptiness.
“And she will be among us soon. You will see her beauty.”
“There is no love, no love left”, Nareth watched me...
“No...no love. I would be sorry for that, if I had regret in me.”. I dropped my head into my hands but the tears would not come. “What happens next...it is not easy for me and there will be much danger.”
“no love, no freedom, just deceit and danger”, my words dripped bitterness and sorrow.
“Beautiful deceit and desire. And hunger. We have a name in the old texts, Beq. We are named the Daughters of Lilith.”
“Others have named us Plague. I have touched every rat in this city. You told me to.”, she looked down at me on the floor, “I should take you home...”. I nodded weakly. “You should have your own bed.”. Nareth held otu a hand to me stood up. “Follow me mistress”, Accepting the proferred hand I stood up and walked shakily to the loft ladder. Then out of the Laboratory and into the dark streets.
The night sky was beginning to lighten, it would soon be day and Nareth looked nervously up at the rising sun. As I walked my body started to fight back, trying its best to expel the invasive blood. I stopped, doubled over by the cramps that shook my body, retching but producing nothing but small gobs of saliva and bile. I straightened up.
“It will do no good. Your body will reject the blood, but it will not be able to expel it. Quickly now, we should get out of the day light”.
I paused at the door and Nareth walked straight in, no invitation required. She looked back at me and grinned.
“No need now. Come along”, She guided me to my bedroom. “Now...Mistress. I will go to Mr. Wirefly. He will try desperately to save you, as will many others. They will try to destroy me. The dice are still rolling. All outcomes suit my Lady's needs. You should lie down, Mistress. You do not look well.”. Nareth stood watching me for a moment. “Tell me, please...did you truly not see this coming, once you realized your initial error? It was a sloppy bargain.”
“you trapped me”
“Yes. But...I do so truly desire you. It is as near we can come to love”. Nareth glanced about the room.
“Sleep now, and dream of me. I have work to do.”
“desire. It is what we have now”
“Yes.”. She leant forward and kissed my forehead. I wearily reached out a hand to touch Nareth. “Sleep. Rest. You will need it.” Nareth turned to leave the room and pauses to draw a sign in the air above the threshold....