Stolen Blood and Form

Submitted into Contest #196 in response to: Write a story involving a portal into a parallel universe.... view prompt

15 comments

Drama Mystery Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Nuzzling against Lady Jezra Azt’s neck, Lord Kelvin Celsius smiled at the discovery of a freckle he had never seen before. Her ringed hand held tight in his hair as she talked. Kelvin struggled to listen as his senses absorbed every detail of her, lips kissing their way from her neck to her gasping mouth.

Their eyes met, her knowing azure blue orbs invited his hazel portals to drink up the sight of her. Biting her lip, she closed her blue shadowed eyes and leaned towards him, pressing her chest to his. Lord Celsius could no longer tell if the throbbing heartbeat he felt was his or hers. Sliding his hand down her back, he didn’t care.

Footsteps on wooden boards outside froze them in their lustful exploration.

“Your wife?” Lady Jezra whispered into his ear, stopping to nip his lobe playfully.

“No. She’s with Lord Kaddish,” he said of his equally wayward wife. “Your husband?”

“Is away on business. I told you.” She leaned back, pulling his head to her neck, to her flushed chest.

“What were you saying before? Dear lady, I struggle to hear when we are so close. Your beauty is deafening.”

“The hunter who came through the portal, what do you think the king will do with him?”

“The same thing we do with all who come through the portals, hang the scoundrels. We know how they got here. Take a life to try a new life. We have to kill any who arrive or our own people will take it as a free pass to kill, hoping they’ll wind up in a world where they’re king. You know I hate to think of it, Jezra dear.”

“Sorry, Kelvin. You’re right. Absolutely. Where were we? Ah yes, I remember.” Lady Azt squeezed his behind, turning him red with lust and embarrassment.

Their hands flowed beneath silks, groping as their eyes feasted.

“Have a drink, my Lord. For your nerves.” She produced a bottle of fine whiskey.”

“No glass?” asked the well bred nobleman.

“Use your lips,” she whispered in a husky voice.

Smiling, he took the bottle from her and tipped back a mouthful. Face skrunked as the spirit hit his throat, he smiled. “I never knew you were so adventurous,” he said.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me. I can’t wait to show you.” She drank from the bottle, inhaling the sweet vapors of a liquid that cost more than a pauper could make in a lifetime. She handed the bottle back. “Try some more.”

“It’s like fire,” he protested. His pale hands took the intricately carved bottle tentatively.

“The fire of your loins,” Lady Azt replied. Her smile was the glowing promise of ecstasy, as long as he played along.

She took his pale hand to her lips, kissing and eyeing him flirtatiously. Smiling, she nipped his finger.

“Ouch!” He yelped, drawing the hand back as her eyes went wide with shock.

“Sorry,” she said, face flushed with embarrassment. “My Lord, I need you don’t tease me. I have a hunger only you can sate.” She kissed the tiny cut across his finger. “Does that make it better?” She put his hand on her bare throat. “How about that?” He nodded.

Lord Celsius took another gulp, the lady tipping the bottle back to pour more down his throat.

“That’s it. Now take off your clothes. I want to see what you’re hiding from me.”

Nodding eagerly, Kelvin began to strip. Halfway through undoing the golden buttons on his shirt Lord Celsius wobbled. His eyes rolled backwards. Kelvin dropped like a stone.

“About time,” said Lady Azt. All of the flirtatious warmth evaporated, leaving an expression colder than polar ice. “Up himself idiot,” she said in an accent that wasn’t aristocratic. Not from the capital, nor a city. She looked down on a man who could have bought her whole family for one of his shirt buttons. “Wouldn’t have lasted a minute in Spiton.”

Stripping him clean, she gagged him with one of his ornate handkerchiefs. His initials hung from the lily white fabric pouring from his mouth. His ankles and wrists were bound with the tassel ended curtain ties she had stolen from the palace in the morning.

Where Lady Azt had been standing was a second Lord Kelvin Celsius. The shapeshifter looked down and frowned. “Wobbly bits. Men.”

Dressing as the unconscious Lord, she met the reflection in his ankle blade with a warm grin. “You’re going to be useful tonight my pretty,” said the habitual woman in her native gutter born accent.

“Lord Kelvin Celsius, charmed to meet you,” she said again, getting a feel for the voice of the gagged man. She practiced his aristocratic smile in the silver reflection of the decorated blade. Charming but not leering, someone you could trust to keep a peace treaty.

Stepping out, she locked the door behind herself and pranced to the dungeons with the penguin stepped walk of a man trained for the public eye since birth.

“Lord Celsius.” A guard stood to attention in the red and yellow uniform all royal soldiers wore.

“I’m here to see the prisoner,” said the shapeshifter with the voice matching her body.

“Of course sir,” said the man, his mustache dancing with the rhythm of his words. “LORD CELSIUS HERE TO SEE THE PRISONER.” The words echoed off the stone of the castle dungeon walls.

Footsteps sounded from down a hallway. A man in the same uniform walked with rattling keys in his hand. With an identical mustache but grey, the key master inspected the face of the door guard and Lord Celsius.

Perfect, thought the shapeshifter, they’re witnesses that the dolt Kelvin was ‘ere.

Nodding, the man turned the key and opened the creaking iron door. “Right this way, sir. He’s been a chatty one, I can tell you. Says a monster came here and he’s here to kill it.”

“He’s the monster. Killing to come here,” said the shapeshifter. “Pretending he’s on some divine mission is he? Disgraceful. He should be hanged immediately.”

“Couldn’t agree more sir. If he hadn’t mentioned another traveler coming here he’d be swinging already. King said to be sure we know if the other one is about or if he’s lying. He’s due for the torturer in the morning. They’ll have it out of ‘im.”

“I want some time alone with the scoundrel for a little interrogation of my own,” she said with Lord Kelvin’s voice.

“Be careful, he’s chained but too close and he could be dangerous. I had a guard bitten to death by an inmate once. I pray it never happens again.”

“Thank you for your concern. This the door? I’ll be fine. If he’s in chains you can give me privacy.”

Nodding, the key master opened the low door of the cell. Lord Celsius the Fake stepped into the odor of putrefaction.

Handing over a lantern, the key master locked the door behind the shape changer. His footsteps retreated to a desk at the end of a hallway.

Raising the circle of light to see a dejected man in a brown uniform with built in pouches for the weapons he’d brought from his home world.

“Can I help you?” asked the dehydrated lips of the pallid man.

“What’s your name, killer?” asked the shapeshifter with Lord Kelvin‘a voice.

“Digby Caesar,” he said with venom. “Monster hunter extraordinair.” Chains clinked as he fluttered his hand in a mock stage salute.

“What monster do you hunt?” The shape changer crouched to be closer to eye level with the dangerous man.

“Would you believe me if I said it can take the form of any man or woman? All it needs is to drink their blood.” The man looked at his boots as he spoke. The worn leather of his footwear was tight at his muscular calves.

“They have monsters like that in your world?”

“It’s not from my world. The thing has been killing its way through gods only know how many before arriving on my own.” Hands calloused from swordplay stretched as his eyes met hers, looking deep.

“Pray tell, how do you know that?” asked the traveler in search of comfort and fortune.

Dust particles danced in a beam of light from a slit window. Bars cast lines of blackness across the only illuminated patch of the cold stones.

“Because she boasted to her last victim before killing her. She has a goal. To find a world where the version of her there lives well. To take that other woman’s place and settle with none the wiser.” The monster hunter smiled a villainous grin.

“How can you know what was said to a woman murdered after?” asked the shifter, who remembered the conversation with the alternate of herself well.

“Unknown to the killer, the victim’s son had been sleeping in the next room. He heard the whole thing. He saw the portal open and close over the body of his mother.” Massaging his manacled ankles, the man pierced her with his eyes again.

“How awful,” said the shifter. And clumsy of me, she thought. “But you killed likewise to follow the beast here.”

“I did,” nodded the man in chains. “Swung the axe on a condemned man as ordered. Might have damned my soul doing it. Worth the risk to try to kill the thing.” His face was placid as he talked of execution. It was a duty to him, commonplace.

“But here you are in chains.” She smiled, Lord Kelvin’s lips mimicking her victory.

“Aye.” His hand was in his boot. “And you came to me.” He flicked his wrist.

A hot pain spread across her chest. A tiny thing, a spike of metal, protruded from her flesh. “You knew?” She fell upon him with the silver knife in hand. His bound legs rose up to catch her chest. Chains wrapped around her hands. The strength of the foppish Lord was nothing to the trained muscle of the hunter. 

“I’ll die knowing my mission is done, beast.” He spat the words through brown teeth.

“Half true.” She twisted her shape to that of a child slipping from his grip.

Still gripping the knife tight, she became a gangly boy with arms and legs like broomsticks. Without the need to stab, the blade was in the man’s chest. She twisted it.

He reached for the throwing dart still lodged in the flesh by her heart. Groaning his dying breaths he fought her with fleeing strength.

She became a man with arms of oaken muscle, bursting through the stitching of the finely tailored coat she had stolen.

“You’re dead now,” she said as the last strength in the man’s hands left them limp.

“Matters not. I told all I’ve met about what you are.” He smiled, eyes wide as his head fell back. His last breath was a gasp.

Leaving the dart in her, she changed back into Lord Kelvin and called for the guard.

“My Lord!” The key master exclaimed as he saw the blood. He rushed her back along the corridor and unlocked the door to the castle with urgency. “Find him a medic immediately.”

The guard at the gate nodded and ran from his post holding the sword that slapped against his leg with every stride. 

Medics used to wounds of war stitched up the hole in her chest admirably. All the while she wondered if the real Lord Kelvin Celsius had awakened yet. For the other to tell the tale of his sedation would spell her doom or at least the doom of the life she’d planned.

Luckily when she’d shooed away the healers Lord Kelvin was snoring in his bonds. She dressed him and returned to her role as a footman.

Lord Kelvin told his tale, besmirching the name of good Lady Jezra Azt. She had of course been with the king at the time as his consort.

“No, my King. I assure you I am not mistaken,” Lord Celsius protested. “She seduced me. She then drank with me until I was unconscious. I never visited the dungeons. I have no scar. No wound. It’s a trick. My King, please believe me.” Groveling on his knees, the lord in the rags of his fine clothes pressed his palms together and bowed his head.

“You say my lady seduced you. But she was with me. You say you slept in a drunken stupor but you were seen in the dungeon. You say you did not kill the prisoner but his blood stains your clothes.” The king, a young man with curly hair to his shoulders nodded to a bishop on his advisory council. The man in purple robes nodded to the teen in the golden circlet.

“I was warned of a killer  in my world. A thing obsessed with becoming Lady Jezra Azt. Who had murdered its way through many worlds searching for one where it could take power. The teen flashed white teeth stained by wine. “What else could explain your demented recollection of the events?” The king shook his head. The golden curls bounced on the silk of his shoulders. “You, the monster, discovered someone who could lay out your plan before us all. You killed the real Lord Kelvin and disposed of him. We will find the body. You used his face to kill the prisoner who it seems was a man of honour after all.” The king clicked his fingers and summoned a guard with his fingers. “See that man is given a knight’s burial. He did us great service. As for this thing, hang it.” He smiled reassuringly at Lady Azt. She wiped a tear from her eye.

“NO, MY KING. MERCY!”

“Take it away.”

Dry your tears and smile, Jezra Azt, thought the shapeshifter. Your days on this world are numbered. Soon you’ll be buried with your beloved footman. I’ll be the queen.

Smiling gently, the servant’s black coattails scraped the floor as he bowed for the lady, at her back as they left the great hall. They passed a window that looked out over the vegetable garden. There beneath the onions rotted the dutiful man whose blood she’d drunk, whose face she wore.

May 05, 2023 13:24

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15 comments

Amanda Lieser
14:13 May 26, 2023

Hi Graham! Your fantasy pieces never disappoint! I devour each and every single one of them, because you always manage to create such vivid worlds for 3000 words. This story was absolutely thrilling, and I desperately wanted to know the next step. You did a great job of dropping a few breadcrumbs for us readers so that we knew that something was up, but we couldn’t quite place until the very last third of the piece. I love how you created a strong antihero, who was clever and a tiny bit wicked in the very best way. Nice work!!

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Graham Kinross
14:46 May 26, 2023

Thanks Amanda, it was hard to decide how much to show up front and how much to hold back. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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Martin Ross
15:40 May 12, 2023

“Lord Kelvin Celsius” demonstrated a high degree of ingenuity, even if I’m totally a Fahrenheit guy. Darkly cool and wicked — nice, nice job!!

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Graham Kinross
22:32 May 12, 2023

For me, freezing should be zero and boiling a hundred. That just makes calculations easier. Just my personal opinion. If my high school science is remembered properly, Kelvin is good for space. I remember seeing American heatwave reports in the U.K. and being told it was almost a hundred degrees, I wondered how anyone survived boiling point.

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00:56 May 06, 2023

This was really nice Graham. Was this a continuation of a series, because if it wasn’t, you explained everything very clearly. My third story is up by the way.

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Graham Kinross
06:28 May 06, 2023

Thanks, Kylea. I’ll have a look.

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Mary Bendickson
20:12 May 05, 2023

'Your beauty is deafening.' What a pick-up line! Such imagination you have. Another top story.

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Graham Kinross
21:35 May 05, 2023

Have it for free! Thanks for reading.

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L M
11:48 May 13, 2023

This stars rude and ends bloody, very you.

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Graham Kinross
22:09 May 13, 2023

Thats my style. Give the people what they want.

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L M
08:36 May 14, 2023

The key to mass media.

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Graham Kinross
10:18 May 14, 2023

Exactly.

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Aoi Yamato
00:41 Aug 15, 2023

is this a danielle story? sounds like but not.

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Graham Kinross
23:43 Aug 15, 2023

No. This is a one off story. Thanks for reading it, Aoi.

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Aoi Yamato
00:45 Aug 16, 2023

welcome.

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