01|Blood in the Starlight
Wolves will bleed for the tears of the sheep.
But today, the sheep would bleed.
“Blood to a feast is wine, and now with beasts, you shall dine.” Chimera smiled softly like a thorned rose eager to draw blood. Flicking a lock of her moon-gleam, lavish tresses behind one poised shoulder, she spoke, “Exsanguinate the mortals, sisters.”
Danika, a sister of black witchcraft who the BlackClaw coven called Morning Star- smirked viciously. Then she stalked toward the mortals in perfect sync with her twin sister Elvira. Instantly, they struck, drawing their curved talons across one auburn-haired man’s throat, opening a yawning red line of delicious blood. As her sisters descended upon the foolish humans with melodic screams and capers, they slaughtered for their feast with eerie precision. Easy, too easy. It was as simple as inhale, exhale, breath: attack, slice, kill.
As her sisters pleasured in butchering the humans, Chimera assessed the massacre with a stoic gaze, as if she were merely a spectator in a fatalistic drama. But then her bored eyes happened upon the cadre’s leader- a lithe yet muscular man that appeared like an armored angel.
What a succulent pet you would make.
Stalking toward the sculpted, statuesque Adonis with a flawless, burnished bronze complexion that possessed an ochrous hue, Chimera took him in. Stared as his crescent-shaped eyebrows of kohl-black furrowed in defiant determination, as if he, a mere mortal, could fight her! Blinking her finespun lashes of feather-black atop lambent golden eyes, she bared her teeth.
As her fangs gleamed in the moonlight, she traced one varnished, siren-red fingernail across his domed cheekbones, luxuriating in his fear when she extended her claws. But the beautiful warrior did not flee or scream. Though he instinctively knew what she was and knew he should run, he remained still while she came to him, never even flinching when she slid long, cold fingers under his chin and tipped his face up to hers as if she might kiss him. But it wasn’t a kiss she took.
Instead, she fixed her golden cat-eyes with his dewy emerald ones as nebulous as a mist valley. Does he not know he should squeeze his eyes shut? No, this handsome warrior had to know, since even sucklings understood that there were millions of wicked deeds witches could do with blood, love, and eyes. Twirling a lock of his molten solferino-red hair between her claws, she mused, "For all that is unholy...” in her velvet purr of a voice. “This scarlet is a rare shade.” Turning to her sisters triumphantly, she asked, “Does it not look like blood in the starlight?” Without deigning to wait for a response, she leaned forward, peering into the depths of his eyes, then deeper into his gray soul.
“You CANNOT,” screamed the rule-abiding Danika, her voice pulsating with the fear of consequences. “It is forbidden! The High Witch will punish us all!”
“Mother’s fury doesn’t frighten me," Chimera snarled, her tone cavernous. “Witches wear mortals.” In a nectarine voice of ferocity, she reminded her sisters of the Dark Age, a glorious emporium of wealth and starlight and blood when witches had reigned. “We wear humans harshly, with elegant brutality as make immortal blood flow fast- for we are nightmares: and we MUST torment!” Glancing once at the still bodies of the fallen cadre that had sunk to the earth, some still joined in the embrace of war’s dance, leaning together on their armored knees like marionettes at rest, Chimera laughed.
And as a liberating smile unfurled across her horribly beautiful face, she used the leader’s eyes as windows and climbed inside him.
Coaxing her wicked animus into his soul, she filled it like brutal claws thrust into a mortal’s glove. When she looked into dewy emerald eyes, she felt a rush of a mausoleum’s chill fill her like Death was kissing her lips, and just as she released her sinful heart from its cage to flow into his, everything fell into sanguine shadow.
Evermore was the rules: pain for a sin, memory for solace, soul for love. Memories of the dark terrors that was Chimera’s childhood rose in hellish waves, soaring away from her scabrous soul to engulf him, and he dropped to his knees there amid the copse of trees and moaned. Like a servant bowed in service before his Queen.
Gazing at his lips, so kiss-inspiring and satin soft, Chimera’s glowing spider silk platinum hair started to spiral in an unseen spirit wind, gyrating like poisonous white snakes. “What’s your name, my sweetest pet?”
A smile quivered at the corners of his luscious lips, and the conquered warrior leader wanted to laugh at the absurdity of Chimera’s interest. Finally, he whispered huskily, “Dante.”
The coven leader tasted the Gothic name on her lips, for it was so blood sugar sweet. "Dante.”
Still mired in his nightmare of being worn, Dante collapsed into Chimera’s arms, his face and lips white and bloodless as paper.
“Shh, my dearest,” she consoled in a dulcimer-sweet tone sharp as Poseidon’s trident. Mounting Sadr, she cajoled Dante into her lap, clutching him tight like a doll as she gently swept his carmine-red locks off his pale, damp forehead. Pressing her lush red lips to his forehead, she bewitched him to succumb to the strange hymn and dark harmony of slumber.
“Come, my sisters, homeward bound!” As a single legion of monsters astride monsters, the Thirteen flew to where the North wind meets the Fjords of Ivelisse, where waters that flow deep and true drown the unworthy- and ancient strength equated with the Greek Gods of lore make magic as soar through song.
An animalistic musical vibration sounds, synchronizing the polarity of Chimera's black soul. No more the lost, yet the found, attracted to the sound of Death. Wolfsong. Within that woeful symphony, she became the storm and the nurturing lull, the crescendo, and the silence. Wolfsong.
Wolfsong: the haunting, lyrical spirals of Shade wolves echoed in the calm silence of twilight, and the feeling of foreboding amplified the ritualistic hymn. Shade wolves, ravenous creatures cursed by generations of High Witches to dwell in shadow after Death- only howled when a witch of their coven died. Who? The question scuttled over Chimera as if insects had burrowed deep under her skin.
Urging Sadr faster, she cringed as the Wolfsong continued its mournful prosody, the howling piercing her like the crescendo at the end of a melancholy symphony. Her heartbeat quickening in staccato beats, her dragon landed without finesse as Chimera dismounted and desperately maneuvered Dante off Sadr, tucking Dante securely in her arms.
“By Hecate’s mercy, you have returned, O great coven leader,” taunted Tristessa, a sorrowful excuse for an enemy. Appealing to Tristessa’s vanity, Chimera purred, “Surely, you must know. Tell me, who died?” Tristessa’s willowy figure puffed at the recognition, but then her pointy pixie’s nose wrinkled.
“Why should I deign to confide in the likes of a tribrid?” The insult fell on deaf ears, for Chimera had endured the taunts of jealous enviers and indignant former lovers for years before learning slicing their throats was all it took to silence the gibes. “There’s a reason your name is eponymous of a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.” Indeed, there was: her mother’s cruelty. But none save for Belladonna and Elvira could grasp this concept.
“Provoke me, Tristy, and I’ll rip your tongue out.” The halfwitted wench only sneered at Chimera, too dense to notice how Chimera’s claws curled in longing, yearning to tear the fleshy organ out of Tristessa’s colossal mouth. Tristessa’s thin lips twisted in anger, “You harlot!”
Chimera’s claws lengthened, and she viciously bared her teeth, impatient to execute her threat. But just as she was about to pounce, a soft, slender hand enveloped her waist, and she was instantly tranquil.
“Hush, my sweetest demon,” purred Elvira in her syrupy, honeyed voice mellifluous as a songbird. Enclasping Chimera in a sweet embrace, Elvira’s svelte body pressed into hers, calming Chimera through touch alone.
Her gaze wide-eyed and unflinching, Elvira’s dreamy champagne-brown eyes glimmered with hatred when her voice turned whispery and sardonic. “Tristy- put on your doll face, or I’ll carve you a new one.”
Before Tristella could recognize the candy-coated variation of a threat, Elvira lunged forward, slicing one pastel-bright, lilac claw across Tristella’s mouth: puncturing a small hole through her bottom lip. “Want to talk now, or shall I take you out for a playdate first?” Tristella grinned, but perhaps it was just the effect of her lip peeling off. Spitting blood across Elvira’s lamé silk slippers, Tristella made mockery when she should have groveled.
“It’s Belladonna. The bitch dies, finally.”
And with such simple words, pain descended like nightfall- shattering Chimera wholly.