The Long Game

A Plea for Mercy

He stood alone on a quiet rooftop, staring up at the night sky. The stars sparkled up on high and a silver sliver of the moon was just beginning to slyly reveal it itself in the waiting darkness. It was still beautiful and haunting, but could not quite hold the sway that it had on the first night Mina had shown him that wonder.

Mina. His ray of light in the never-ending darkness. Mina.

Among other talents, he possessed the innate ability to sense those who shared his curse. And so it was that he felt it now. That someone like him, a vampire, was quite close and drawing closer. And he knew exactly who it was. He let it, her, approach quite closely without admonishment. And as she reached within a few feet of him, she stopped, lingering in silence.

Without turning, he spoke in his true voice. As a proper gentleman, as a mesmerizing dark force.

"Good evening, Lucy."

She drifted out from the shadows like a thin, wavering ghost of the lovely woman she had once outwardly been. Her pale face made ever paler by her red lips. Lips the color of blood. Her blond hair unbound, undulating with the gentle night breeze.

"Good evening . . . Sire."

Her tone was quiet and calm. With venom dripping from every word.

"And how fare you on this moonlit eve?" he asked casually, still playing at decorum.

She cut her eyes in disdain at his prim manner. And responded in kind.

"As well as can be expected, I suppose. For a dead woman."

He smirked.

"Oh no, my dear. You are most assuredly not dead. Simply undead and alive. In Hell. Watching the others who bask in the light of the sun and blessed life that you and I can never have."

She moved closer and tilted her head in a con of innocence at him.

"Ah, yes. And what of them? Our little sunwalkers? What of my Mina?" she purred.

He did not speak, only continued to watch the nighttime sky.

"Does she know of your . . . proclivities? Or do you continue to keep her . . . in the dark?"

She turned the phrase as a dagger to cut at his blackened heart within the cavity of his chest.

"That," he said, turning slowly to face her, "is none of your concern."

She advanced a step further to him.

"Ah, but it is, you see. I loved her first and I loved her the longest. And so it is my concern. Though she did not . . . reciprocate my desires."

He tilted his head at her, his next words biting into her deadened heart as his teeth had once had to her tender flesh.

"Yes indeed. More's the pity."

She glared at him, her carefully constructed shell beginning to crack.

"Now that we have a bond, so to speak, between us . . ." he began, folding his arms across his chest. "Why did you choose to take Harker's attentions away from her?"

Lucy's eyes dropped down and away. She hesitated briefly, battling herself, and then gave up and spoke her shameful truth to her maker.

"Lady Jayne Weatherby. She said my feelings for Mina were natural and that she probably felt the same. She convinced me to confess to Mina . . ."

And so there it was. Another nail in the coffin of his condemned soul. His dishonoring of Lady Jayne's pride had set forth a choking chain of events culminating in the destruction of Mina's relationships with both her fiancé Jonathan Harker and her close friend Lucy Westerna. Which had also caused him to turn that miserable pawn Lucy into a blood-ravenous creature of darkness.

She continued speaking her hushed confession.

". . . never truly meant to give myself to Jonathan. It seems I . . . underestimated him."

Ah yes. And so the blame would not rest entirely upon his skulking shoulders. Lucy, the naïve siren, had played with fire and it had burned her and all her associations. And Harker, the easily misguided simpleton, should have been taught beforehand never to prod his manhood into lunacy.

Such a dastardly turn of events. And they called him the Fell One.

"Well, we all have regrets that we must live with," he responded dismissively. "Teaches us to be stronger, I've heard tell."

Lucy's composure shattered. She was a young, forsaken thing, her misused soul dripping crimson.

"Don't you even care how many lives have been destroyed?!" She cried out in misery. "After all, it all started after you made your debut here in London!"

Her words rang true, honest. And he might have softened in his cruelty if she had only ceased to speak there. But in her pain and shame, she continued on, with hate dripping from her blood tainted tongue.

"You're so above it all! All the pain and misery you helped cause!"

Her voice dropped low as she dared entertain a new dark thought.

"Perhaps someone should teach you such pain," she whispered, malice coloring her words. "Take away the one thing you hold most precious."

His eyes narrowed to slits and he felt murderous rage raising its shaggy beast head.

"Mind your words," he warned darkly. "Or I shall rip your tongue from your head. Tear out your eyeteeth and leave you to starve alone in deep, lost cellars with the rats."

She smiled at him, gently strumming the exposed nerve-endings of his exposed heart with her silken words.

"Creep into Mina's room while she sleeps and whisper the wicked truths you won't voice into her ears. Let them discolor her dreams with blood and gore. Tickle her . . . slumbering senses with my new gifts. Make her dream of madness . . ."

"Stay away from Mina!" he roared, furious. "Leave her alone!"

Lucy pouted childishly, her eyes glowing slits within her oval face.

"Why? Why should you be gifted a light to hold in this darkness while I rot away alone in the shadows?"

"Leave her out of this. She is pure," he declared. "She must not be touched by this devilry!"

"Ah, but she already has been . . . touched. By you. Very much so, judging by her light step. And quite often."

He glared at her, hands clenched tightly, drawing blood from his wounded palms.

"Leave . . . her . . . in peace," he murmured, death dripping from every syllable.

"Or perhaps I should make her one of us," Lucy suggested with an evil sneer upon her face. "Then we could . . . share her . . ."

"Speak another word of that and I shall truss you up in the middle of London with your feet in holy water and leave you to burn in the morning sun!" Alexander hissed, his eyes searing flame.

"Then kill me!" she screamed, suddenly out of control. "Kill me and end this torture!"

In outrage, she clawed viciously at her face, drawing blood from her torn flesh.

"Destroy me!" she shrieked, eyes flashing. "I have already drunk my mother, my very own mother, dry! And I enjoyed it! I relished it! I devoured every last drop of her as she struggled against me! As I did all my servants in my house!"

Though her wounds were already healing, she tore at them again and again in a wild fury.

"Kill me, burn me! Tear my head off of my shoulders! Anything! Just end this unbearable torment!"

He reached out and slapped her face then to stop her mad ranting. Her head snapped to the side, then moved slowly back to face him.

"What? Shall you now use me for your own purposes as did Jonathan? Are you a monster such as he? Will I be forever whored by men? Only her. Tender, delicate, Mina. The precious. The pure. She must be unsullied. Protected at all costs. Only her."

He lunged forward and stopped her onslaught of words. Sent her shaking fits into stillness. Held her close to him. Stroked her wild tendrils of hair. Then he spoke, quietly, almost kindly to her.

"No. I will not kill you. And you will not harm Mina. Nor her father. Nor her remaining confidantes. Nor anyone within my house or hers."

She stood rigid and still within his embrace, breathing in shallow, quick breaths. And he shushed her further, whispering ever more faintly. Until her breaths slowed and became even and calm, her trembling body soothed under his power.

"She will live in the light and you will continue on in this perpetual torment," he continued. "Because you hurt her. Directly. Intentionally. Your own dearest love. Your best friend. You allowed yourself to be made into a monster within. Now you must abide as a monster without."

As he drew back, she looked at him with her pale green eyes which wept tears of blood at her heavy anguish. And he, Vlad Tepes, Alexander Grayson, Dracula kissed her forehead in an almost fatherly manner.

"Go now. And leave her be."

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