Main characters- Payne and Murhder
Summary- This story is about the Payne’s unfourtunate life at the hands of the Bloodletter. While being kept a dark and forbidden secret in the caves of the war camp, she is found by the warrior, Murhder and they embarq on a journey of friendship, inevtiabley turning to love and heartbreak. Alas leaving everything to Fate.
This was the place. How she knew, did not matter for her heart beat a thousand beats against her chest as she stared at the tall antebellum columns set along a wrap-around porch of the beautiful plantation home she took in with baited breath. Closing her eyes, she nervously exhaled and made what felt like half-leaded legs move to take the short steps towards the front door. A hesitant hand she lifted towards the brass knocker, with a slight tremble she placed a palm on the door to calm her disquiet, uncertainty clawed at the edges of her very being, her mind instantly took her back…back…so many years ago, to lives ripped apart, changed forever…
“Sewn shut.” The Bloodletter loomed over the small shape of the young newly delivered to the war camp, words he spoke directly to the gaunt female that looked o’er the prostitutes never once glancing down towards the small figure. “Do it, female, NOW!” His spittle reached down, landing on the youngs bare arms but the child never made a sound nor a move, almost as if knowing if it were to so much as breathe wrong, it would not bode well. Against the torches fire, the old whores face creased with angst at the same time she wrung her hands as if to actually give an opinion of the request posed when…SLAP! “Do you DARE to disobey me, female? You will do as you are told and sew these wastes eyes closed, fore no one is to know its existence upon this world, do I make myself clear?” His words roared around the enclosed space of the tiny cave niche where the young was to be kept like a caged animal. The old prostitute held back her whimpers while cradling her swollen cheek with a hand and simply nodded, her dirt streaked face a mask of terror, the whites of her eyes bouncing everywhere except to the Bloodletters face. “What…am’ I to call it, Master?” The whore braced arms and hands to herself in defense of punishment against her simple request when she felt the impending figure of the male move away towards the entrance of the small dwelling, she peeked through her hands as he paused, an imposing figure in his right as he spoke…”We do not speak its name…let it only be known for what it is too feel for all hells eternity…pain.” Confused but not one to go against the command, she bowed haphazardly upon his retrieval and quickly knelt by the young curled in a ball so still on the ground. “Scribe beheld, but what does he have against such a wee…” Her words trailed, she gasped as a fingertip lay under the chin of the childs face bringing its profile into the hazy, orange light of the flames. One word echoed in the dank space as the old maid looked upon the youngs eyes and reality dawned…”diamonds….” Realization hit the female like a ten ton boulder, this child, this poor child was doomed from the start, mayhap the Bloodletter was right in wanting to keep this secret, she thought as she took out needle and thread she used at times to care for the prostitutes wounds. Such a waste, she thought as hands reached and held the shell-shocked child in place to begin the horrid task at hand she spoke low, broken words in the old language…”forgive me, small one, for not just the pain I bestow on you…but for the pain you shall know for an eternity.” The needle came down swiftly to thread through tender skin as the screams of the youngs reverberated through the caves walls, raining fury upon the night.
Darkness. Every sound and touch amplified to its maximum by the loss of sight. Her sight. Although she was not to be referred by name, she knew enough, thanks to the old whore who had fed her scraps throughout the years, that in fact beneath the layers of dirt on her skin and shorn, matted hair she was indeed a female. Where was the old woman anyway? Days swept into mind numbing hunger, where her belly seemed to eat at itself, the hurt making her delirious. The drip, drip, drip sound of a running leak along the dank stone walls of the cave rivaled those of seeming elephants as a stomping noise inside her head. So she counted, something she had taught herself to pass the time years ago, until she grew weary and fell asleep on her filthy cot, mice running rampant around her feet, her only ‘friends’ in the hell she lived in. A sudden scream pierced the air, what should have been common place to her by now, did nothing but make her abruptly stand to face in the direction of the shrill voice, her heart catapulted into her throat as she threw her hands out to feel her way along the cold walls of the small cavern. By now she knew by heart the map of her confinement, every chip on the stone, the smooth surface of others as well as the cold steel of the metal bars that kept her caged inside…for many years she had cruised along her cell, memorizing it, hoping one day to find escape, something had to give…a low metal-scrape sound snapped her from her reverie, placing her hands behind her to stop the impact, she backed into the furthest wall of the cell, her nose instantly rose in the air to capture the familiar scent of the one and only visitor she had ever had, the old female except…this was not the female but someone anew…warning bells rang loud in her head, without realizing what she did, she crouched low in a fighting stance, her emaciated pretrans body all bones and edges made the new comer rumble a low, dark throaty chuckle causing her to grow very still as if the air had been sucked out of her lungs in terror. Although she couldn’t see, the oppressive feeling cloying her senses told her this males presence was large, colossal even to her small frame but that didn’t stop her from jutting out her chin and turning towards his voice to confront whomever this was, asking in a voice raspy from not much use…“Where is the old woman?” Eyes. She felt them boring into her very soul but she remained steady on her feet, her hearing picking up on his breathing pattern so she knew the exact spot to where he stood. “She is no longer of this world.” The stranger growled out, taking a step towards her. Upon hearing the news, she wobbled on weak legs, her knees threatening to buckle from underneath her but she stood her ground, “Are you here to kill me then?” Her voice shook with fear as well as an underlined rage she kept closed in begging to be unleashed. “Nay’ came his response as he stood directly in front of her now, the heat coming off his skin undeniable as was the sheer size of him since his voice seemed to come up from way above her head. “You are the Bloodletter’s secret, why? I do not know…tales have been told about thee yet no one has believed until now for you see, I have watched the old whore for years from afar coming to these forbidden caves where none are allowed…” As he spoke, he squat down and with roughened fingers, turned her face towards the light of the torch he had placed on the stone bracket behind him and was unable to hold in the string of curses that dropped from his lips as he took in her features. “You are purposely blinded.” Paralyzed from fear, she shook under his touch, only able to nod in confirmation at his affirmation. The male released her face but stayed in the squatted position staring at her until he pressed something to her hand before getting up and walking to exit the jail. “No one knows of your existence, female, and no one will. Ever. But me.” With those words, he retreated closing her in once again to her darkened solitude. Finally able to catch her breath, she closed her palm around what he had placed in her hand, the scent of its orientation making her stomach growl before her mind registered what it was…food. He had brought her food. Knees finally gave out from underneath her, she sank on the dirty cot, taking a hungry bite of the meat and although she did not believe in any deity for her life was proof of that, she thanked whichever one had decided to allot its grace upon her for delivering an angel from the darkness.
The years that followed were only made bearable by his visits, as scarce as they were. On occasion, he would stop with a handful of grains or a chunk of stolen meat, never entering her confinement but just gently rapping twice on the iron bars to signify his arrival. Unbeknownst to him, she would know of his presence even before he signaled and she waited for him, hands gripping the iron bars as he uncurled one of her fists with a surprisingly kind hand to press in whatever he had brought for her. Even though her lack of sight, always she would lower her head as a sign of gratitude towards the male that had taken upon himself to care for her to which he would lift her chin up with calloused fingers and reply, “’Tis naught but a gesture, female, nothing of importance.” And she would find herself blushing at his words, shaking her head in disagreement, mumbling her ‘thank yous’ and receding quickly to the back of the cavern feeling unusually perplexed and confused. Several days had passed since his last visit where she found herself actually pacing in the small confinement, bare feet she dug in the dirt every time she would get from one end to the other. This was not like him. Her stomach grumbled in protest but she pushed down her hunger pangs, just to replace them with angst. What if he did not return? What if he was hurt? He had explained a little about their location, the war camp and what took place there, so she knew it was a place where death was upon every corner, so what if…dread filled her and dug claws in her chest…what if he was to the fade? For certainly a male of worth such as he would know naught else. Tap, tap. Her pacing ceased, she called a whisper into the darkness, “’Tis you?” Metal-on-metal sounded, the scrape barely audible as the iron bars opened and booted feet stepped towards her direction. Momentarily panicked, her hands went up to her throat, when she heard the low, rumbled voice of the warrior she was coming to know…”’Tis I, female…do not fear me. I…I have brought you something.” Never a voice she had been happier to hear, an instant impulse she repressed of running into his arms. Although not fully transitioned yet, how foolish would a female of pretrans age look to a male as such….her thoughts trailed as she sensed him closer and he asked for her to sit on her cot, so she did turning her face expectantly towards his voice. The first drops of the cool, damp cloth on her face made her cringe and recoil from his touch to which he hushed soothing words…“Shh, I will not hurt thee, ‘tis merely water.” She heard him dip the piece of material again, water droplets plop, plopping into the pail as he brought up the cloth again to wipe the grime & dirt upon her face. Visibly she relaxed, although inside her heart wanted to climb out of her chest at his gesture for she knew he could be viciously cruel, why would he be here at the war camp after all but with her…he was different. No words passed between them, as he gently cleaned her cheeks, tenderly going over the lids of her eyes, passing the cloth against her forehead…no words were needed for such an act of kindness defined a turn that neither of them wanted to think too much on. Satisfied for the moment he stood leaving her where she sat and loomed above her as if wanting to say something but instead turned and walked towards the iron bars before saying…”I have left you something…you will find it next to your leg, on the right side…fare well, female of the shadows.” With a loud clang, he was gone and her heart sank. Right hand roamed to her side, patting around until coming up to touch the softest of materials. Grasping the item with both her hands, she touched it to her face and for the first time in her life…smiled. A blanket. He had left her a blanket for warmth. Chest constricted, she held back her tears for it hurt her to cry through her sewn eyes, so she breathed and breathed….and breathed big gulpy breaths of air until she calmed enough to lie on her cot, curled into a ball clutching the blanket to her chest as if it were the last hope in her miserable existence.
After the visit where he cared for her with the simple wash and blanket, his stops to her cell became more frequent. Seemed the Bloodletter had taken a leave of some sort, in search of ‘new blood’ and had left the camp for a fortnight which gave the training warriors half a moments peace if that. During those days, he stayed with her for several hours to which they spoke of the mundane, granted he did most of the talking since her entire life had been spent behind those dank walls. He would tell stories of his childhood before the camp, to where she could feel his longing for his family, to stories of wars and the impending possibility of joining the ranks of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, to which his voice took on a proud tone that even filled her with pride. “Here, this is for you…I bid you be careful with it, female, ‘tis not something for play. I want you to have it. For safety.” He turned her hand, palm up and placed what felt like a piece of cold metal on the center. With her other hand she reached to finger the item, the flat pointed edge of the blade she touched with her forefinger while running her thumb along its edge. “’Tis a weapon?” She felt his nod at her question and replied, “’Tis a dagger, female of the shadows and I will teach you how to use it on this very night.” She swallowed hard but agreed to his request, getting to her feet without a moment to lose. And so the lessons began. He was strict with her but fair, relentless in his teachings not sparing her mercy due to her disability but showing her how she could use it to her advantage. And oh did she ever…quick learner as she was, he would give instructional placement to her arms, legs and she would mimic them in an instant. Granted her body was not developed and she was more than awkward at times but the desire was there…like kindling to a flame. So for the next two weeks, they spent together sparring, her listening to his stories at times even attempting to laugh with him, though the sound was foreign to her ears …he continued to sneak her what food he could steal and always thought to bring a clean piece of cloth with water whenever he had the chance. Overall, this was the happiest she had ever been in her entire life.
…………..6 months passed
Agony. The female writhed on the ground, her kicks registered against the solid surface of the cave walls to make her feet bleed but that was just an added bonus to the excruciating pain bouncing her insides making her bones feel as if they were being crushed and swung around like a bag of rocks. And gods, but she was cold…so cold her teeth chattered in her mouth, jaw clenched tight as if to attempt to keep them in her head. Shouts in the distance cut through her delirium but the pain only caused her to double over, moaning in defeat unable to get to her feet. What was happening to her? She had fallen asleep only to awaken in a pool of her own sweat and trembling from head to toe. Disoriented, she barely heard the iron bars being thrown open until big hands lifted her limp form, hardly registereing his voice, “Can you hear me? FEMALE, can you hear mine voice?” It was him. He had come for her as she knew he would, except he was so far away…so very far…the hand that trailed through her matted hair, to brush along her brow burn needles to her skin as she returned from consciousness to realize she was no longer on the ground but cradled on his lap, his voice barely above a whisper she heard reciting prayers in the old language asking for guidance through the voyage, for a safe deliverance, for health upon her…her…he prayed for her but why? A wave of nausea wracked her body, causing her skin to go stark white, when she heard his words loud and clear through the haze…”Drink female, you must do so to survive or you shall die.” She felt him shift his weight under her, the hand he had soothed her brow with he brought to a pause momentarily only to bring it to her mouth, wrist side down as she felt the first drops of blood fall feather light across her lips…she cried out, instinct taking over, her mouth opened and she latched on, lips closing around his wrist and swallowed immediately. His blood hit her system like lighting, senses coming alive, her hands came up to hold his arm in place but it wasn’t enough…it wasn’t enough! She needed MORE, blindly, she shifted in his lap while her hands unabashedly roamed over his chest, across the strong line of his collar bone up to find…there, yes…his throat. Fingers traced his jugular vein as she felt his head turn at her silent plea, she took his movement as a yes and sank newly formed fangs into his neck, drawing great big pulls of his crimson life into her mouth. Her nails dug into his shoulders but he kept his head to one side, exposing his neck to her, offering everything he had, giving her life in return…much later, between bouts of in and out of consciousness, she laid naked and limp on the cot. Although still sore, her body hummed with new strength she never thought possible as she sat up and stretched long legs in front of her she felt with her hands the sleek musculature of her thighs, all the way down to her calves. She reached up to touch upon lithe but strong arms, her hand she continued to run across full breasts and defined abdominals. Transition. It had come for her without warning and it had almost killed her if it wasn’t for…tilting her head getting her bearings she realized she was alone once again. Frowning, she tried to lift her body from the ground but it seemed to weigh a ton when she realized there was a blur in front of her, where only darkness had been before. Startled, she waived a hand across her eyes and jumped as the sudden movement caught in her visual line. Not wanting to strain what she thought was already a miracle in itself, she moved her eyes from behind closed lids and felt the thread that had kept them shut for years, give way slightly until she winced in pain only to breath through it and try again. She was in the process of repeating this ordeal, when his presence she felt near, enter the cavern with hurried booted paces and stop abruptly before she heard his breath hitch in his throat, she wondered if her appearance was so abominable to him. “Put these on, female and hurry…there is upheaval in the camp.” A bundle of clothing thrown on her lap, she dressed herself with shaky fingers and asked, “Where will I go…this…is all I know.” Without warning, strong arms banned around her body as warm lips pressed against her temple, she heard him whisper…”With me, female, we shall escape together.” His words opened a darkened window to a soul she thought to be dead. Her hands reached up to grasp her fists in his shirt and hold him tighter against her for she did not know what the future held but she knew if she was with him nothing mattered. Before she could nod her head in agreement and immense explosion sounded off in the distance as rocks fell over their heads, he tried to protect her while pulling her out of the cell and running into the maze of underground passages to the outside world. Death cries bellowed into the night, the sounds of clanging swords against each other, against flesh was macabre music to her ears as they neared the exit of the main cave under his careful instructions to where she should go paces to the left or the right and what to avoid. Just as they neared freedom, another explosion, this one with light as bright as the sun stopped them in their tracks, a black hooded form stood suspended from the ground, light emanating from the openings of the robe where arms, hands and legs should be. She heard him whisper, ‘Virgin of the Fade’ and heard his knees drop to kiss the ground they walked upon. Puzzled by his behavior, she felt for his shoulder, found it and tried to tug him to his feet. “Hurry, we must go!” Although she was unable to see the tiny form of the female that glided over to her, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end to notify her of her presence enough to hiss out, “Who goes there?” A fleeting caress she felt on her cheek, while the next words spoken would change her life forever…”Greetings daughter mine, I have returned for thee.” Strength made her bold but fear made her dangerous, she countered in return…“I do not have a mahmen and I go wherever he…” A finger she jabbed in the kneeling warriors direction…”…dwells.” Crossing her arms to drive her point home, she stood her ground, facing this unknown being. “Is that so? Stubborn as your sire, I see well…I shall make it simple for you, Payne, either you come with me or the dies…” Her given name, never to be spoken out loud ran her chilled to her very marrow with dread. This was someone not to be taken lightly, someone if she was a foolish girl, she might contest but the threat against her was too great of a loss to bare, so she lifted her chin and spoke her request…”Mahmen you say? I will go with thee but he goes untouched.” The low growl she knew was from his throat but this was life or death and his life meant more than anything she was worth. “As you wish, daughter mine…when you are ready…” At this, the Scribe Virgin disappeared, leaving them there alone to face one another for the last time in the entrance of the salt cave…”Payne…” his hands that had cared for her through her many years of isolation, came up to cup her cheeks as her whispered name fell reverently from his lips. “’Tis the only way…even if we are to be apart, I will know you live.” She raised her hands and with her fingertips traced every ridge of his face to memory…from his brow, to his temples, fingertips traced along his eyebrows to find scarring on his left one, down to his straight regal nose, across high cheek bones, to a strong chin and finally to linger across soft, full lips she would never know what it was like to kiss. Before bringing her hands down, she cupped to the side of his face to where he leaned into her palm and said…”We must promise, in blood…to find each other again.” Words left her, for the pain of the transition was minimized ten fold by the ache she felt in her heart knowing she was ne’er to see him again, so she gave him a silent nod as he took her by the edge of the cave and knelt near the wall pulling her next to him. Her dagger drawn, he placed his hand gently over hers and vowed to her with words of the old language as he carved her name into the inside of his left forearm, he had her trace each letter with her fingers to know he spoke truth. “Warrior, I vow the same but…I do not know your name.” He leaned in and whispered his name for her ears only. With a nod, she balled her left fist and carved his letters into the skin of her forearm without regret. Once completed, he took it upon himself to rub the caves salt over their wounds so as to leave the permanent reminder to never forget each other. “It is time, Payne” the voice of the Scribe Virgin seemed to boom behind them, Payne lowered the sleeve of her too big shirt to cover his name and with her heart screaming in her chest said the most painful words ever known…”Good bye.”
……three centuries passed
Payne had traded one jail for another by coming to the Sanctuary at her mahmens request to save the one and only male she would ever truly love. Three hundred years later and the ache still bloomed raw in her chest at the mere thought of him, fates, was he alright? She rubbed her thumb along the ridges of the old letter scarring of his name along her forearm, more from habit than anything else…did he think of her? Her diamond gaze looked out over the pristine panoramic view of the Sanctuary. Upon her return, she had been taken care of by hand-picked Chosen by her mahmen to restore what had been ‘broken’. Her skin was bathed in oils, her hair washed with the most fragrant perfumes and her eyes…her eyes that had not seen light since she had been but a young were returned to their breath taking crystalline beauty. Time and time again she caught herself though, closing them in order to see better if that made any sense at all but she would…especially when she wanted to remember his face. Fates, she had gone over and over to the seeing bowls, to find any hint of his whereabouts but it had been as if he was erased from existence…how could that be when every record was in such perfect, chronological order within their libraries, where she currently searched again for his name, her long black braid falling over her shoulder as she took journal after journal out of past and current Brothers. Sitting on the cold marble of the library floor, a shelf she had failed to check displayed several sets of black bound journals with what seemed as if the name on the spine had been purposely erased. Crawling in her robes to reach the new books, she hurriedly opened the first journal and her eyes opened as wide as saucers when skimming quickly through the pages, his name popped up in every other sentence…by fates, she had found him. Putting the book aside, she grabbed for the latest one, dated one hundred years prior…odd but she opened it anyway to find his last whereabouts. With the Chosen now frequenting the other side along with the Primale, Payne was free to roam but never had any reason to until now…clutching the journal in her hand, she had found his location…and her new destination….Charleston, South Carolina.
With one last deep breath, she stood in front of the large white door, her long slender fingers reached to curl around the brass knocker when suddenly, the door was practically ripped open from its hinges and a huge beast of a man stood in front of her, long, wild wavy dark hair framed his face to match an equally wild look to his peach colored eyes until they settled on her, a spark of recollection vaguely illuminating his face but he didn’t move towards her, as if she was an apparition. “Greetings, Warrior”, she bowed her head slightly, her clear, white irises never leaving his she dared to step closer to him but not crossing the threshold of where he stood. The moment between them etched still in time as she lifted her left forearm and rolled the sleeve to her robe, revealing the markings on her pale skin, she repeated the words they had said to each other that long time ago…”There is no Payne without Murhder…” In return, he lifted his left arm and pushed up the sleeve of his button-downed shirt to reveal the markings on his skin and repeated…”And there is no Murhder without Payne.” One booted foot, followed by another stepped towards her until he swept her up and held her tight against him…”Your eyes…for now I see why fore….” His words trailed as he buried his face in her hair and she held him against her. Murhder pulled them apart, just long enough for her to close diamond eyes and trace his features with her fingertips as she once did so many years ago and she smiled, reopening crystal orbs she felt the power of lighting pass across the sunset stare that lifted from beneath his long lashes. Hesitation held no time in this space that surrounded them, when his lips captured hers they were demanding and passionate summing up his want, need and love for her in the motion. “You found me, female of the shadows…” He whispered against her lips, as his embrace grew tighter around her, she simply responded…”Nay…we have found each other.”
As only fate would have its way…