“What is that disturbance?” Demanded the Elder wearing the Mask the First of the Tribunal. “Balif, you will go now and deal with it.”
A hulking monster of a vampire stepped from the alcove where he had been standing motionless and stalked far too silently out of the room for his prodigious size. There was a crash and clatter of small things falling to the floor.
No sound came from the hallway. After a moment, a slow trickle of strange viscous fluid flowed down the three steps and into the meeting room. A pair of shatteringly beautiful voices sang out of tune with each other in discord that ground against the ear. The words of the song, if there were words, were in a language that escaped even the learned Elders in this chamber.
A figure in a torn Armani suit tumbled down the stairs, bleeding from a set of claw marks across its face. The wounds didn’t seem to be closing even though the figure was obviously one of their kind. What manner of madness was this?
The First gestured sharply and a cadre of heavily armed and armored guards moved forward to make a shield wall between the Elders and the door. He sat back, fingering the cane next to him. It contained a yard of knife sharp steel inside its polished ebony shaft.
The sharp click of a woman’s high heeled shoes striking the polished marble floor echoed throughout the silence of the chamber. The guards raised the muzzles of their assault rifles and waited. What walked through the door was a twisted parody of beauty.
Her body was long and graceful, her gait a sinuous stride that made her movements seem slower than they really were. The tatters of an elegant silk robe still clung to her mutilated torso, shreds of flesh hanging with bits of white bone showing beneath. Her left arm hung limp and useless and broken but what truly drew the eye was her mouth.
Instead of the elegant pair of sharp canine fangs, or even the sometimes the row of needles that appeared when one of their kind was truly starving, hers showed a bristling forest of spikes. Some were so long that they overhung her lower jaw and many jutted out at obscene angles, punching through her cheeks. There were rows of them, and her mouth kept opening wider and wider as more formed.
The sound coming from her mouth was a painfully beautiful, yet off key set of tones that made the air seem to quiver in protest. When they didn’t respond, the creature paused and an expression that could only be described as primal rage crossed its face.
“Please, you have to kill her!” The suited man said, crawling toward the line of guards.
“Vladimir?” The First said, recognizing the vampire on the floor, “What is the meaning of this?”
“Shoot her, SHOOT HER!!!” Vladimir screamed.
The First crooked the little finger on his left hand and a single gunshot tore through Vladimir’s head.
“Stay where you are or be executed.” The First said, watching in satisfaction as the leader of the Revolution twitched his last, the idea of soaking a rowan wood core in holy water and sheathing it in silver for a bullet had been his. It was most effective.. “Blessed weapons made of silver and rowan are aimed at your heart, your brain and your gut.”
The creature tilted its head to one side, as if trying to consider something so far beneath or above it. Like a human trying to understand a dog or a dog trying to understand english. Then it made an unmusical, croaking sound that resolved into something that resembled words.
“Exe-cute-d?” It said, “Ble-ss-ed?” It asked, the tangle of its teeth tearing chunks of cheek and lip as it spoke. Then it turned its gaze to the soldiers in front of it. “Row-wan?”
“What, you don’t understand my words? You don’t know the danger you are in?” The First said with a smile.
“Heart brain and gut.” The creature said with startling clarity, “These your weaknesses? Thank you.” It smiled and froze the vitae in the First’s heart, as he realized he wasn’t hearing it speak. This thing was inside his head. “That is where the best flavors will be.”
“Kill her!” He snarled, and the guards opened fire. The projectiles ripped through the woman, shards of bone and flesh exploding from dreadful exit wounds. Even the Tribunal Elders who were accustomed to violence and meting out Final Death winced at the carnage. Those weapons were harsh reminders of how they could suffer if their weaknesses were exploited.
After absorbing dozens of rounds, what was left of the woman stumbled backward against the wall, her head was half demolished and one of her arms had been completely severed. She swayed for a moment and then slid down the wall to the floor. Graceful even in death.
“Go finish it.” The First commanded. One of the men reloaded his weapon and approached. Drawing a silver hatchet from his belt, he bent to hack the woman’s head from her shoulders. The body was obscured by his for for a moment and even as he swung he seemed to flinch away from the thing he was executing.
The flinch was followed by the sound of a whip cracking and he fell with all the grace of a rag doll. The hatchet rang with a high, pure tone as it struck the marble floor.
“What the hell was that? Get over there and KILL THE BITCH!” The First stood and leaned forward.
Three men came forward, pulling similar pure silver weapons from their belts. The beautiful, but jarring sound of the woman’s musical chiming voice reverberated throughout the room and the soldiers closest to her dropped their weapons to clap their hands over tortured ears.
Heedless of their companions being in the way, the rest of the guards opened fire again, the sheer volume of projectiles shattering the marble sheathing on the walls and filling the air with the smell of cordite and burning blood. The First realized that the chiming sound was laughter.
What rose from the ruined mess of flesh and bone was vaguely humanoid in shape, but gave the impression that it was just a shape made of untold thousands of things working together to accomplish a goal. Thin threads of ropy muscle strengthened by shards of bone shot from it, impaling each of the guards three times, once in the head, once in the heart and once in the gut.
The chiming laughter made the world seem to tremble. The First used his Dark Gift, calling upon his blood to grant him power, speed and the most powerful of all, foresight. He could see possibilities stretch out before him, every movement showing a faint suggestion of what would come.
He blinked, focusing on potential futures, reaching as far ahead as he ever had. Then the figures on the floor all stood, turning in unison to look at him from eyes that seemed to seethe like spheres of maggots.
“Mine.” The woman’s voice grated against the inside of his skull as though attempting to bore through the bone. “All the flesh, old and withered. All the blood, fresh and vibrant. All the bone, strong as steel. All the Powers, bright and fair. All the curses, black as hell.”
Every future he could see held nothing but the Final Death.