A carefully reassembled series of pages dated late December. ((Very long))
........hearing voices, I sniffed the air, my sense were more acute now, I could isolate individuals, there were two strangers here.
"Sorry brother, I am simply unfamiliar with your order.", a woman's voice, softly spoken. I entered the room and the speaker glanced up from where she was sat on the couch next to Nareth.
Nareth looked to the door and smiled.
"Nareth, we have guests"
"Yes, quite so. You've not met Lina, I see. And this is Brother....The name escapes me."
A man sat on a wooden seat, his back to me, dressed in a thick woollen cloak of natural wool, he looked over and nodded.
"Joshua Palubiki", his voice rich and melodic
"Palubiki...Yes. Brother Palubiki."
I smiled, his scent was strong and not at all unpleasant, "Brother Joshua, pleased to make your acquaintance.". He returned my greeting with a simple nod and I turned to smile at Lina, unsure of myself, her scent was an odd mixture, of flower and death, a corpse in a meadow and yet if this was confusing there was no mistaking her demeanour, impassive and cold she simply stared. Nareth continued smiling at me, and offered her hand up, guiding me to sit next to her on the couch. "and Lina too, I have heard so much.".
"And I have heard much about you, miss.", Lina replied curtly. Was this jealousy I could sense. Did she see me as invading?
"Please, Brother. Continue.", said Nareth, cutting back any further conversation with Lina. "You were saying.."
The priest nodded, "I believe you assistant had questions though."
"Lina? Did she? Oh yes about ...your...lord"
Lina Olaria nodded. "Yes, Professor-Sama."
"Very well, then carry on", Nareth glanced at me, watching my eyes, holding my hand tightly.
The priest started to answer, "Well, It's the same Lord we all pray too. There are just differing opinion. May I ask, are you Protestants?". Nareth laughed out loud. Lina Olaria smiled, shaking her head. Brother Joshua frown in confusion "I don't believe I understand how to help then.". My head was full of images, the priest dripping blood, they were not repulsive to me. His scent charmed me as his voice sang. Was this how it was now, my mind started to cry out as I was carried forward in waves of hunger. I squeezed Nareth's hand, licking my lips, to this day I think that if she had allowed me to follow my instincts, my resolve would have crumbled.
"Forgive me, Father. I have no faith, to speak of. I do not speak for the others.". I noticed, the attention of Lina focussed on me, seemingly watching me breath, peering at my mouth as I spoke. The priest continued to look confused
"None, or just been absent?", he replied staring at Nareth. Nareth paused, tying her hair back away from her face, before taking my hand in hers again.
"None.", she stated, challenging further response. There was silence for a moment. Before Lina continued.
"And I talk to the ancestors...to the Youkai...and the Oni."
"Well, even if you haven't been to church. You have faith, yes?", the priest seemed completely distracted by the thought.
"You have never met an unbeliever?", asked Nareth, a wry smile on her lips. Lina Olaria runs one finger along the rim of her tea bowl and glanced at Nareth.
"I've heard stories of them, but not actually met one. Typically they sound like anarchists trying to smash society."
"Oh, hardly. I was merely raised without a faith. And never adopted one thereafter."
"That sounds inconceivable in this day and age. Unless you were raised on the dark continent, I had thought the whole world would have become enlightened.".
Nareth laughed again, "There are very enlightened atheists, Brother. I assure you. But...we have not heard from Miss Janus."
I spluttered a little, mumbling not having expected to be dragged into such a conversation.
"I...err..u...I w..was brought up in a religious order of sorts, my faith was lost when I lived upon the streets and saw the acts of the "enlightened" world.
The priest looked up from his cup, "My apologies.", he offered, quickly sipping his tea.
"You were an orphan, yes?", asked Nareth, I could feel Lina's gaze fixed on me.
"Perhaps", I replied, as truthfully as I might, "my mother died in childbirth, my father was never known."
"Close enough.", sniffed Nareth.
"I was raised within the court of a state that no longer exists, my mother a Corigye to the court. I naturally was adopted into that family".
Lina Olaria sipped her tea. "A Corigye, Miss Janus?", and the priest cocked his head as if to second the question.
"An acolyte within a harem, Miss Olaria.", I smiled back.
"The Brother merely seeks a less delicate word.", added Nareth, "Whore, perhaps?". Nareth squeezed my hand. I looked to the priest and licked my lips.
Brother Joshua's hands shook as they held his tea cup, and he swallowed hard.
I smiled at him, "If the brother would prefer a whore then that he may have.". I smiled as Nareth sniggered.
"Or are you celibate?", Nareth probed and the priest made no reply, gazing fixedly in to the shadows. "Brother?"
Suddenly snapping back to life the priest rose from is seat, "I'm sorry. It's getting late and I still need to meet with the local inquisitor."
Nareth nodded. "Lina...please, show the Brother out. I trust you will return....Another time. Good day, Brother.". Lina Olaria rose and set her tea bowl down, offering to take the Brothers.
"This way please, Brother.", she nodded to the door. Nareth raised a hand, and the chair dissolved. "I trust you will visit us again, soon."
"Mistress...", Nareth turned to me as Lina walked back into the room taking the tea tin from the laboratory table, replacing it in the filing drawer. "He may be...someone I have been waiting for. Then again...it may be he is not. The dice are rolling.".
I Noticed now the tight know in my stomach, the hunger lust faded with the absence of the priest, replaced now my a cold empty hunger. "How will we know if he is the one?"
"Oh, I will know. As will he.", she finished. Nareth looked over to Lina and back to me. "The two of you should be properly introduced...Lina...Beq...". Lina nodded to me. I smiled and nodded back, squeezing Nareth's hand.
"He was not what I expected, Professor-Sama."
"Nor I, Lina."
"Not at all. There is a prophecy, that the Messenger will meet a Heretic. The Heretic will be a disciple, and then will betray me. It is only a prophecy, but sometimes they are not far off.", Lina step forward and knelt before the Professor, Japanese style, on the floor. Nareth smiled to Lina. "Please Beq. Make yourself more comfortable. "It is...", Nareth paused, searching for words. Nareth Nishi: ...it is almost as though we have become a family now. Three sisters, all Daughters of Lilith.", she stopped and looked at me. "Even if one still draws breath.". Lina Olaria smiled and Nareth reached up to removes her spectacles.
"Lina are you sure you won't sit up here?", I indicated back to where Lina had previously sat.
"She kneels, Beq. It is her place.". Lina lowered her head in assent.
"I see, how quaint"
"She is the Sycophant. We all must play our roles."
I settled back onto the cushions, feeling sure now that the priest had had a lucky escape this night. Nareth held out a hand, smoothing Lina's hair, which seemed to stir a bit at the Professor's touch. "Are you hungry, Lina?"
"Yes, Professor-Sama. I am."
"Then, let us show Beq how you feed.", Nareth pulled her hand away as I looked from Nareth to Lina, puzzled. "Kneel before *her*, Lina. As you would me.". Lina nodded and turned away from the Professor, facing me as I watched her intently. "Now...Beq...you will place your hand on top of Lina's head. A finger will suffice.". Nervously as if being dared I leant out placing my right hand upon Miss Olaria's head, fanning my fingers through her hair. Nareth sat back watching with pleasure. Lina turned her head slightly so the back of her hair could be seen and to my shock and surprise, the hair begins to move of its own accord, parting.
"Fascinating...isn't it? Do not be startled, Beq.", I edged back in my seat but left the hand in place, nodding to Nareth.
"If you insist Nareth". The hair waved away from Lina's shoulders, and wraps itself around my arm, pulling it slightly forward as Lina's skull spilt open, forming lips, teeth, and a tongue. Nareth laughed loudly with a sort of delight as I gasped and instinctively pulled away, only to find I was held fast.
"Oh Really, Beq.", dismissed Nareth, "It is only a mouth. Only teeth.". I frowned, tugging still. Lina's hair wrapped tight around my arm, like a serpent, winding. Then a long tongue reached out seeking my hand, flicking and tickling my fingers as the hair pulls my fingertips toward the mouth. "We must learn not to be squeamish.". I stared, mouth agape, my hand was dragged toward the vicious looking mouth, entering the mouth. Without warning sharp rows of teeth bit down upon it, scissoring. The lips began to suck.
There was no sensation of pain, but a sensation of tingling, electricity, like the touch of another's tongue on your own. "You see?", Said Nareth, reading my thoughts, "It is only another form of the kiss.". I murmured, a soft moan, closing my eyes. "It was a surprise to me, as well. There are so many...surprises...".
The mouth at the back of Lina's head began to gnaw on the fingers and flesh of my hand. A little blood trickling down Lina's scalp and neck.
"Nothing is simple.", mused Nareth, "I thought I would make two like me...You are both....", her voice trailed off. The hair began to loosen around my arm. "Have you had you fill, Lina?". I withdrew my hand, examining my fingers. A lacerated mess of skin sucked pale pink-white, a trace of red blood now starting to reappear. "It will heal, quickly enough. You know that."
I nodded as Lina spoke, both mouths speaking in unison, "We are full, Professor-Sama."
"Nareth?", I offered out my hand as the blood drips formed. "before it heals?". Nareth smiled. It would be rude of me to refuse, Mistress. Lina's hair began to swirl back over her shoulders, the teeth and lips drawing back in her skull, a flap of skin sealing both in as her hair waves back in place. She turned her head around again and gazed at the Professor and I.
Nareth took my hand in both of hers, and drew the mutilated flesh to her mouth. I groaned as the rough tongue caressed my fingers, as Nareth took my warm blood into her mouth. Nareth bit down, lightly..as I closed my eyes once more breathing deeply. Nareth opened her eyes, and let the fingers slip from her mouth. "Kind of you...Mistress". She looked at me with an air of suspicion. I brushed Nareth's cheek with my good hand, feeling the warmth entering her skin and smiled, noticing a flicker of desire in Lina's eyes. Nareth lay back again on the couch staring up at the ceiling, wiping blood and spittle from her lips and chin. "We are a circle now. As we must be. The Messenger...the Sycophant...the Bride."
"The bride, Nareth?"
"Yes...", she stared at me, Lina Olaria bowed her head slightly at the Professor's words and watched for my reaction. "There must be a bride, Mistress. Our Lady will require one.
"There is always a Bride.", added Lina.
"Each must play their role", I mused, recalling her earlier words.
"Precisely.", Nareth grinned. "Even Mr. Wirefly and his orchid. We all have much to learn. I am filled every instant with revelation. You breathe, Beq Janus. I never guessed at that."
"It was somewhat of a welcome surprise to me Nareth", I smirked.
"Yes...I thought so. Though..I have thought..should the amulet...break. or *be* broken.". I looked hard at Nareth. "Would that not be a blessing? To be released... Completely released..
"I am not convinced Nareth, I quite like the ..... warmth"
"Of course. But then...it is all you have known."
Lina Olaria looked up at me. "May I see the amulet?" she asked politely. "I have heard of this thing....". Nareth watched Lina closely.
"Lina...there is something I should explain, in case it is not clear.", Nareth's voice is firm, but not harsh. Lina Olaria tilted her head toward the Professor, listening. "Through a sort of...technicality...I serve Miss Janus. She is my Mistress. It was ..... necessary. But it lays certain strictures upon me...The amulet is a grey area, for example". I looked down at my hand and watch as the tips of my fingers reunite and form new tissue. I giggle a little at the tickling sensation of renewed life. "Were I not so bound, I would have destroyed it long since.", I looked up sharply.
I am not certain I understand, Professor-Sama.
"Before you arrived, Lina...I had to battle a beast...It threatened both our lady's plans *and* this city. Miss Janus was given the chance to choose between...evils, shall we say. She chose me, as her champion. But in being chosen, I was bound to her, irrevocably". Lina Olaria nodded, listening. "The bond can not be undone. She is not bound to obey me. Though I must, in many ways, obey her. This will all seem strange to you, Lina. You came looking for the Black Pharaoh...". Nareth trails off and looked back at me. "It is an odd arrangement. Lina nodded, slowly, considering what the Professor had explained.
Lina looked up at me. "Then surely it is a small thing to allow me to examine the amulet, Miss. I serve the Professor-Sama. She serves you.". Nareth narrowed her eyes. "What harm could come of it?"
"It is kept under lock and key, away from here.". My thoughts turned to Dr Dayafter and moreover to Jed, I tried hard to push them out of my mind. Nareth nodded slowly.
"There you have it, Lina".
Lina Olaria gazed evenly at me. "Yes, Professor-Sama. I do."
"The amulet is...protected. It has a name...Harmonia.". Lina turned her head slightly toward the Professor.
"May I ask, who named it? And what the name portends? I am merely...curious, Professor-Sama."
"Beq? Would you wish to answer?"
"It is an ancient name, it was the name that it had when I heard of it. It came to me not more than 6 months ago."
"A drowned girl..." Nareth added, Lina's eyes moving from the Professor to me.
"It came to you, Miss?"
"Something the sea spat up.", Nareth, continued. "Flotsam. A more fitting name.". I frowned at the apparent mockery and at Nareth's face, her features stern now.
"It was a gift to Harmonia daughter of Aphrodite by the seed of Ares. A gift from Hephaistos", I blurted. Nareth laughed softly. "Old gods...But not old enough. Dead gods. Forgotten."
Lina Olaria grins. "Not so old at all. And there is much that lies beneath the sea.". Nareth made a scoffing noise.
"Yes...There is always a siren...Isn't that so, Mistress? Is that not what the Impaler told you?", I nodded, recalling that night. "I thought as much, though those echoes are closed to me. He told me...that night I was sealed. And yes, Lina knows. She has seen. When the day comes, it will be the Sycophant...Lina...who cuts the relics from my belly. Then, she will deliver them to the Bride. Your dowry, Beq."
"I was never a fan of arranged marriages Nareth", I interjected.
"Without it, you would not survive our Lady's sight.". Lina looked at the Professor with surprise, but nodded, unquestioning. "Oh...it is not quiet that simple. But..the dice are rolling. You may yet refuse. I may be slain by the Hunter. All may fail."
"We must not fail," Lina said quietly.
"The Hunter, another role, but what of this ...Brother.. what is his part?"
"He is, if I am correct, the Heretic. It may be he who delivers me unto the Hunter. Or it may not. The Hunter may be slain. This is a game that has been played a million times. Lina looked up at Nareth, the professor, the Messenger.
But...there is a little time...I think.
"Professor-Sama...if the Heretic betrays you...."
"Or...attempts to betray you.... Will you give him to me?
"No. But you may take him of your own accord. Once we know. But not before.". A closed smile crossed Lina's face as she saw swallow as earlier thoughts burned briefly once again, reminding me of my hunger.
"Nareth?", I ventured, nervously, not wanting the taunting and provocation that would now ensue.
"Yes, Beq?", she replied not reading my thoughts as I had hoped, I sighed, "Yes?"
"I have not yet eaten".
"No, you have not, Mistress."
"Would you remedy that?"
"I feel a hunger gnawing at me".
"Imagine...if it could not be sated.", Nareth, looked away nonchalantly. "The Impaler left me in that tower a week...". Nareth stopped, as if reconsidering her view. "Lina...would you provide for my Mistress' needs? Lina Olaria nodded, then unbuttoning the sleeve at her wrist she lifted her wrist up.
"If you wish, Miss Janus...or there is pig's blood.". I looked down at Lina, a fire of hunger burning now. She watched me as my tongue passed across my lips.
"Oh, we do not offer *her* sow's blood."
"Not the Bride.", Lina pulled her sleeve back from her wrist as I took her hand, looking shyly at Nareth, glancing back to the pale white flesh. Nareth smiled...ready to mock once more. "Your teeth, Mistress? Do you require assistance?". I looked up embarrassed.
"yes please Nareth".
!It is a small matter...", she smiled sweetly, leaning forward, and with her sharp nails, opening Lina's wrist before leaning back licking her fingers.
I raised Lina's wrist to my lips, watching Lina's eyes as I did so.
"Serve her, Lina, as you serve me.". Lina's eyes met mine her dark eyes, intense. I licked gently at the tear, before sucking deeply, my lips pressed firmly over her veins. Lina shuffled closer, her head tilted back slightly, her eyes focused, her lips parting. As Nareth watched, her own hunger stirring again. "Ahhhh", she sighed, "What beauties we must make...What gems.". I drank Lina's blood, relaxing as I felt it flow into me. "When they finally see us, and *know* us for what we are...", Nareth snorted, licking her dry lips. I studied Lina intently, studying her face, her lips, and her neck as I sucked hard at her wrist, lapping with my tongue at flap of skin that had sealed her vein. She breathed deeply, a slight shiver running through her. Her thrill at "the kiss" as evident as my own. We were indeed of a similar kind now.
"She is yours, Mistress. If you wish her.", Nareth broke in. "As she is mine.". Nareth settled back into the cushions as I looked to Nareth then back to Lina. "The monk, though...something is not...as I thought it would be. I shall have the think hard on this". Nareth stood.
Lina Olaria lowered her head in a slight bow of deference to Miss Janus. A little blood dribbled from her wrist and dripped to the floor as I stopped drinking, my hunger sated. Watching Lina I ran my tongue along her arm from her palm to her elbow, cleaning the wound. Watching Lina's eye's close at my touch.
"Thank you Lina.", I nodded my gratitude, unsure now whether gratitude and manners were in the right place.
"you are welcome, Miss".
"Lina, you will sleep with me. Miss Janus takes the bed. The casket is not to her liking.". Nareth turned towards the casket. As I stood stretching.
"As you wish, Professor-Sama. Let me remove the tea things."
"Yes...I will be waiting.", Nareth lifted the heavy lid of the casket, a black mist escaping. Nareth paused and turned towards the bed. "Mistress...Soon...he will speak with you.". Lina gathered up the pot and the three tea bowls, then took them downstairs. "There are things he wishes you to know, that must not be known to me."
"I shall expect him then", I replied, not understanding any of this. Nareth turned back to the casket and slipped inside, almost seeming to *flow*.
Lina paused at the threshold of the door, before coming inside, shutting the door behind her. "Rest well, Miss Janus". I smiled back at her, removing my boots and sitting on the edge of the bed.
"and you Lina". I watched as Lina climbed into the coffin beside Nareth, laying on one side to face her, Nareth reached up, pulling down the casket's lid with a thud. I watched the solid stone casket from across the room, as I slowly undressed before climbing on to the bed facing the wall.
4 years ago