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HerculeHastings

PG-13 Blood and Talon

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Time was a resource of plentiful supply in the underground empire of Noirarth. Everything proceeded at a much slower pace down below, away from the interference of light – which was so often the grand arbiter of time above ground. Light dictated when people slept, how long people worked, when people felt the most energetic. Down in Noirarth, the people were free from the disruption – or rather, in their case, hazard – of light. And so they determined their own time. They worked as slowly as they chose and took as much time as they liked about everything.

Gradually, it seemed, without their realising it, they were also starting to think very slowly.

It had been a month since Darkness, the eternal queen of Noirarth, had disappeared, and nobody seemed to have paid much notice at all. A month in Noirarth was akin to a minute in their eyes.

It certainly didn’t help that those who did know pretended they didn’t. And so life in the compact underground cities went on under the pretext of normalcy. No one talked about Darkness, but no one made an effort not to talk about her either.

And under this cover, Angus plotted.

There was no illusion for a second that he would be the only one. Of course he would have competitors to the throne of new ruler, except that none of them dared reveal themselves till they had acquired a substantial amount of political clout. And true to their heritage, everyone would wait years if they had to, accumulating support, thwarting plots, always maintaining a harmless, friendly façade before their competitors. Angus knew all their tricks. He disliked boasting, but he must admit that up to now, no one had beaten him in the political game yet. How else had he been able to gain Darkness’ favour and become one of her most trusted advisors?

The moon was hanging in the sky overhead, a crescent slit, as if one of the boorish werewolves had accidentally torn a shred out of the darkness. Angus wouldn’t put it past them, if it had been possible to do so. Werewolves were silly and lacked finesse. Then again, what finesse would one have if one was always clawing away at everything? He had seen some of them hunt, and he was sure the vampires were unparalleled.

And here was an unsuspecting human, walking right into one of his traps.

The human had no time to react. A bat shot out from behind the covers of a tree, flying past his neck. He felt a short, sharp pain, just a slit on his neck. A few drops of blood trickled out. He dabbed a hanky on the cut, thinking nothing of it. The bat rested on a branch, waiting. The man took a few steps forward and crumpled to the ground. He writhed for a moment, and then was still.

The bat flew out towards the man, hovering in mid-air. Its short stubby legs extended into human trousers, its outstretched wings became arms, and its small face turned into that of Angus, a slight smile forming on his lips. That had been easy. The human was probably foreign to these parts. He lowered his body, glanced around to ascertain that he was alone, and started to feast.

It was with an air of immense self-satisfaction that Angus returned to his lair, a tastefully but not extravagantly furnished house. Human blood was one of the finest luxuries, and as such, he had carefully saved a few drops to garnish his next meal and save him the trouble of going above ground again to hunt. And of course, one must also consider that human blood was an excellent choice of gift on special occasions. And he was right smack in the middle of a truly special occasion indeed.

He reclined on his comfortable seat, letting his mind drift into a state of semi-rest, as he considered whom he should strike up relations with in order to secure his spot. Who knew when Darkness would return?

Though really, if she did, he could just set aside his plans for the next time. He was a man with time on his hands, after all.

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