I’ve written several variations of this scene. Not the same characters, the same situation, or the same outcome. Just the set up.
An immortal and a human coming to some kind of arrangement in an environment of mock civility. I find it fascinating.
Sometimes the immortal has the clear upper hand. Sometimes the mortal holds his/her ground. The power dynamic isn’t the point.
Rather, it’s the tension I like. A threat delivered with courtesy.
Is anything as unnerving as a killer with manners?
I won’t claim this particular piece is polished. It’s not. It’s a rough draft, pure and simple. Go easy on me if you spot flaws.
May dawn find you…
“So, what’s the deal with your friend?”
Marco raised his eyebrows. Sometimes he gets hung up on what he would call ‘the modern vernacular’.
“Him,” I said pointing to the other chair.
“Oh,” Marco relied, “he is here for your edification.”
I gave him the same look I give my cat when he noses his way to the bottom of a full food bowl and then flips out at the impending shortage.
“I’m not feeling particularly edified,” I said.
“Consider him a cautionary tale, by way of courtesy.”
I figured as much. Like I needed the warning.
I get it, Marco baby. You’re a badass. I’m shakin’ in my Docs.
“Gotcha. So, can we talk business or is there some kind of protocol? I know you’re big into tradition.”
“Under other circumstances, I would be obliged to offer you refreshment. However, any kind of sustenance, even libation, also signifies the promise of safe passage. You have no such assurance from me, pramatie.”
“You know I love it when you talk dirty to me.”
He did not return the smile.
“The matter at hand shan’t require more than a short negotiation. I have but one requirement.”
Oh, boy. Here it comes.
He continued. “Bring me Lucian’s head. Pledge this service and you may leave here unharmed.”
I looked at Marco’s friend.
“And if I don’t?”
“I don’t get you, Marco. You know I hate threats. I mean, look at this whole mess with your brother. He tried to force me into service, and I got his blood all over my favorite boots. Do you know what a pain in the ass that was?”
“Am I to take that as a refusal?”
“Yes and no, Mister Man. Yes and no. Look, I want Lucian dead, too. But I don’t really feel like hauling his head back here to Casa de Death just so you can sit me next to another example of your wrath. I’m not scared of you. You should know that by now.”
“Ignorance is the delight of fools,” he said.
“And pride the undoing of the immortal,” I shot back.
“We seem to be at an impasse.”
Slowly, I slid a hand behind my back, my fingers slipping easily around the bone handle of my favorite silver knife. I brought it into view, making sure he perceived my intent. He did nothing to stop me.
I stood, walking behind his friend. The poor bastard was incapable of reaction. In all likelihood he didn’t even know I was there.
His arms and legs had been severed at the joints. His eyes gouged out. His tongue most likely removed. His ears torn loose. The scar tissue on the sides of his head caught the dim light of the room, each wrinkle of skin screaming testimony of unspeakable pain.
I wondered how long Marco had kept him like this. How many times he’d drained him within inches of his life, only to stop short. Only to keep him suffering.
With a quick gesture, I ended it, the blade slicing deep into his jugular. He didn’t even gurgle as he bled out.
“You’re a savage, Marco.”
“Says the woman who just gutted a pig in my parlor. Were you aware of his trespasses, you might find the punishment he suffered insufficient.”
He was probably right, there. Marco tends to keep bad company.
“I’ll take care of Lucian,” I said. “Not for you. And not you’re not getting his head. News of his death will have to be enough.”
“Very well,” Marco conceded. “Within the week, please.”
“When I’m fucking ready,” I said. “And stop playing with your food. A man your age should know better.”
He smiled just wide enough to show me his fangs.
I rolled my eyes. Seriously, do they think that shit still works on me?
“I’ll see you when I see you,” I said. “Or maybe I won’t.”
“May dusk find you,” he said.
“And dawn, you,” I replied.
I wiped my blade on his curtains on the way out. It was tacky, but strategic.
Lesson one with dealing with his kind. It’s not enough to show them courage. You have to show complete disregard. They have no respect for life. Let ‘em know you’re concerned about your own and they’ll exploit your sense of self-preservation.
Dare them to kill you. Then they’ve got nothing.
I’ve been daring Marco for a while. Maybe one day he’ll try to follow through.
And maybe his former friend will save him a seat in hell.