The Other Side, 3

Monday, February 9, 2009 - 8:46 PM

This little bit fell out while I was writing the other day. Though it isn't explicit, there are some really seriously unpleasant implications here. Sensitive people may suffer a bad case of hives if they read this, so some readers may want to skip it.

Through the eyes of her ghoul, Isabeau's body seemed smaller than she remembered it.

Isabeau was a small, sleek woman, with pleasantly round shoulders and a tiny waist. Her hands were dainty and ink-stained, with carefully trimmed nails. Soulless, her head lolled to one side as if asleep, pale hair scattering over her small, heavy lidded eyes which rested under a sad tilt of eyebrows. A rather long and sharp nose drew the eye towards her neat, impertinent lips.

Crouching over her own body, Isabeau spent some time admiring the lines of her throat, and let the ghoul's long, sinewy hands hover over it. The very notion that she could murder her own flesh and blood and survive it made her shiver. Isabeau's vices were few, but she reveled in them; they were towering, horrible things.

Some part of Isabeau understood that she'd been a little girl once, but any flicker of recollection was swiftly crushed underfoot. Sometimes during one of her rare moments of sleep, she would wake suddenly with her heart hammering in her chest, remembering some vision of strong, warm arms and tea in winter and a great hall where she'd wondered at tapestries of unicorns and griffons.

But in her indulgences, she assured herself that here was a woman who could never have been innocent. No one who had been innocent could have possibly conceived, much less done, what she did to herself.

Or what she'd done to other people.

She made her ghoul lean forward to kiss her body's neck softly, moving a hand to palm one of her small breasts. Pressing, feeling the firm, liquid weight of it, she then withdrew her hand and imagined her body sighing gently.

Of course, her body was soulless, and therefore did nothing.

In part from annoyance at her body's passivity, she dragged the ghoul's nails down her body's thigh, leaving several angry red scratches. This would be something to inspire her later, she thought, and then noticed one of the nails had dug deeply enough to bring flecks of blood to the surface, like drops of red dew.

The ghoul's nose was sharp; the scent of the fresh blood was distinct and sweet, and Isabeau involuntarily made the ghoul's lips curl in a toothy smile. She dipped the head down to lap briefly at the scratch, sighing to herself as the small shocks of blood rolled her senses in warm velvet for a moment. The ghoul's body was always starved, and even such a delicate taste was liquid bliss to it.

It did remind her that it had been nearly a day since she'd left her body. Her body would be hungry, too.

Moving the ghoul to her wardrobe, she fetched some clothing, and then returned to begin dressing her body. The sensation was muted by the ghoul's dead flesh, but it still pleased her to let the taloned fingers linger on her hips and waist and stomach, tracing over the little unfeeling hollows and paths there. She slipped each article of clothing as if they were caresses and restraints both, giddy in her power over herself, and when the robes and scarves were finally all in place, she withdrew her soul from the ghoul and back into herself.

It was like being cold for hours and then slipping into a comfortably warm bath. She had to sit for a moment, overwhelmed by the vast sensation of her breath moving in and out of her chest, and by the slow steady drumbeat that kept her lifetime for her. The understated stinging of the scratches on her thigh increased her sense of warmth, and she smiled gently at the prickle of them.

Sitting up, she waved the ghoul away. "I have no further need of you; return in two hours unless I call you again."

The ghoul slouched in the bow she'd forced it to learn, and then scuttled off like a feeble imitation of Isabeau's huge spiders, who watched without expression from the ceiling. The spiders had also been subjected to her spiritual possession, but she knew they were not conscious of it. It was no different to them than their normal compulsion to obey her. They simply didn't have enough sense of identity to distinguish whether it was her mind or theirs that made their bodies move. In that, it was less satisfying to her to inhabit them instead of someone aware and unable to stop her.

The spiders were useful in many ways, though. She used their silk and venom for her work, and they made excellent steeds for her. Under her direction, they were capable of unswerving, precise tasks as well.

Whispering gently, she beckoned the smallest of them down. Bodkin was about the same size as Isabeau, with a flat red-black coloration that traced rich maroon threads at the joints and over the impassive mask of Bodkin's features. The lengthy fangs she'd named Bodkin for were also maroon, but the spider's eyes were like little globes of polished obsidian. She stroked the hard carapace, murmuring in the sibilant, breathing language that laid patterns into the spider, fondly preening the fangs, and then sent Bodkin out with a short 'tch' sound. Settling herself at her massive half-wheel shaped desk, she busied herself with the works she'd been asked to review, immersing her mind in arcane riddles and tainted words until Bodkin's return.

The spider herded a young, wild-eyed man into the large chamber. The man wore the green and white smocks of an acolyte, and his hands were gloved; chances were good he was working in alchemy before Bodkin brought him up.

"Hello there," said Isabeau pleasantly, delicately setting her book down. The young man bowed immediately. He knew perfectly well who Isabeau was. She didn't recognize him, of course; he was just a new acolyte.

"Do you know why you were brought here?" she asked as she examined him. He seemed sturdy enough, if a bit thin.

"No, my lady," came a hesitant reply.

"Have no worry," smiled Isabeau. "I did not bring you here to berate you for anything."

Bodkin struck at that moment, burying venomous fangs into the young man's leg. The result was nearly immediate, and the young man crumpled from pain before his body began to seize up. With a signal from Isabeau, two of the spiders descended on the victim, lifting him up to Isabeau's stone table.

Isabeau stood, moving to the table and opening a slim metal case to expose her pristine dissection tools.

"I do apologize," she said to the wide-eyed frozen face of the young man. "But I'm starved, and as much as I'd prefer you to marinate for a day or two, I'm just going to start in right now."

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