Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I do not, but I like playing around with her characters.
Two ladies made this fic a thousand times better. Scooterstale beta'd and BilliCullen pre-read for me.
Bathed in the Blood of Innocents
Rivers of human blood.
Bright crimson, glistening wet, thick and sticky, it flowed across stone and mortar.
The scent of it coated his nostrils and flooded his long-petrified lungs. It smelled otherworldly, rich and spicy. It was luscious and purely primal in nature. It smelled delicious, and his mouth instinctively watered, dripping in long, clear strands of venom at the thought of sinking his teeth into soft, buttery human flesh.
His black eyes slid shut, seeing and feeling with his mind, imagining behind closed lids the texture and weight of pliable human muscle and sinew, so easy to break, to tear, to take. They, humans, were fodder, food for the strong, prey for the predator. They were a meal, sustenance, his right to steal. Their lives, young, old, woman or child, were nothing; their souls were for naught, and they were his to do with as he saw fit.
You're not drinking today, brother? a boyish voice called, silent to all but him.
His thoughts spun out, listening, cataloguing. The boy, Alec, was beyond the far wall, gorging himself yet again, not bothering to wait. Through borrowed scarlet eyes, he saw the prey, a young girl taken from the fields, no more than fourteen. Her skin was pale as fresh fallen snow, almost matching that of her killer. Against white flesh, spilt droplets of blood stood in stark contrast. She was stained, marred in her death.
"I will join you shortly, Alec," Edward replied. "Felix said that Heidi was already at the gate."
This day was the day of feasting, the day of celebration, both inside the parapets and beyond. Outside, the children were rejoicing out on the cobblestone streets, laughing and singing, wearing cheap plastic fangs and red-caped costumes. This was the day of St. Marcus, the patron saint of their city. It was his day, the day in which the human inhabitants commemorated the ridding of the vampiri. How little did they know. How little did they realize. For they, the vampires, lived like wolves amidst the sheep, walking the same streets.
While the humans paraded their gilded litters and floats in the mighty square, preparing for the midnight feast, the real feast was commencing inside the heavy stone bailey walls. Like cattle to slaughter, they were herded through ancient tunnels, lured by the promise of wonderment and beauty, of sights before unseen. They were a motley group; Edward could hear a half-dozen languages. All tourists, they blindly followed past thick, oaken doors.
Following their guide, a prop, or more aptly named, 'bait', the humans shuffled past his statue-like form, clicking off flashing bulbs and pointing wildly at boldly sewed tapestries and richly bejeweled adornments. Humans were such petty creatures, so easily amused and distracted. So easily could they be cajoled to their deaths. With her dazzling smile and a flip of curled, dark hair, Heidi had but to crook her finger and murmur, 'Come', and they would unthinkingly follow, ignorant and unable to devise a reason to decline.
Incredible! Oh, God, the architecture! Dan would love this! a short blonde thought. British by her accent, still present, even in silent speech. Her lacquered nails skimmed along the limestone walls as she walked, completely oblivious and absorbed by their cultivated façade. Only when he was directly in her line of sight did she even notice his presence. As her gaze passed over him, her blue eyes widened and her lips fell into a small, surprised, 'O'. What's he doing down here? They're all so beautiful. Dark, but… beautiful, she whispered.
Behind her, a balding man marveled, Regarde ces oeuvres d' art! Parisian, Edward assigned, bored with the man's enthusiasm and awe. The art, the antiques, the guide, they were but tricks, flashy, shiny objects to hide the horror.
In the rear, an elderly woman's cane tapped against rigid stone. Around her neck, resting against scratchy, gray polyester, she wore a heavy silver crucifix, its patina turned charcoal from age and air. Her silvery hair shimmered in the gas lamp light as her head swept back and forth, searching. Even without his particular gift for minds, her posture told him everything the small, disbelieving part of her was attempting to disregard.
Rheumy eyes stared back at his, fighting for comprehension. Wrinkled features transformed, widening and stretching, her brows climbing higher with each passing second. She understood that something was very wrong, that there was danger to the soul in this dark place. Despite the blurriness and fatigue of the body, she recognized him. This old woman saw through the charade and saw both his angelic countenance and his demonic eyes. She understood that he was not one of them, human, that he was other, evil.
Diavolo! she accused, pointing a gnarled finger. Dio, salvami…
"Signora, andiamo! C'è così tanto da vedere!" Heidi purred, looping her slender arm through the old woman's. At contact, the woman started at the chill temperature. Her heartbeat leapt, and in the empty space of the tunnel, it echoed and pounded in his head. The wet thwacking of her blood, throbbing through weakened veins, was like a siren call, beckoning her death.
Heidi glanced over to him with a wink, swaying her tightly clothed hips seductively as she passed. Edward, I didn't expect to see you. Have you come to greet me?
"Heidi," he addressed, nodding his head formally before quickly looking away.
I wish you would be more reasonable.
His lips pursed and he shook his head once, signaling an unspoken, 'Not now'. Despite her wishes and wants, he felt nothing for her. But then, Edward felt nothing but complete indifference and apathy for them all.
Long minutes passed, and Edward stared at the tunnel walls, eyeing the long, jagged fractures, tracing the long-set boundaries of stone and eroded plaster. In the background, mental voices clamored, blurring with audible, resounding and combining into a single, massive roar. Inhaling, his senses recognized a thousand scents: tinges of fresh air from the minute ducts above, human perfumes and colognes, the sweet, almost cloying essence of vampire, and overwhelmingly, the aroma of spilling blood, pumping and pulsing. With each gurgle, heat scorched his throat.
Are you joining us? Alec called again. The high timbre of his voice denoted youth, but young he was not. His brother was older than he, centuries old, but frozen and captured in adolescence until eternity's end. He perpetually wore the face of the amused.
It had been weeks since Edward had last fed. In the mirror of others' thoughts, he saw himself as the world saw him. His irises were glassy and coal-black, ringed by dark, purplish bruises. His cheeks, symmetrical and high, were gaunt, hungry. Like the rest of them, he was pale, more a cadaver than anything else. And like the dead, his skin was cold, ice-like, both in temperature and in feel.
But despite his starved-like appearance, to human eyes, he was more beautiful than any they'd seen. He'd heard it all before, of course, their wondering and trivial appraisals. Silently, Edward scoffed, recognizing the beauty for what it was, another prop, camouflage, a lure. As if he needed it.
When he walked into the solar, almost a dozen of his kind were feeding, sucking at necks and thighs and wrists, unaware of all else. As razor sharp vampire teeth ripped into flesh, sprays of red shot out, coating and painting the walls, and blood mingled in the air, saturating everything. Rivulets of dark crimson stained worn stone, running and flowing downward to low drains. The humans were so many that there was no thought or need to mind the waste.
At first breath, the fire in this throat exploded into uncontrollable, open, hot flames, licking up from the pit of his stomach to his tongue. Dying heartbeats called to him, jerking his feet forward and curling his hands into eagle-like talons.
Someone called his name.
Here, take this one, a sing-song soprano spat, throwing one of them into his arms.
Looking down, he found himself staring into bleary, tear-filled eyes, the same knowing eyes that had called him out for what he was. She was almost incoherent in her rambling, nearly driven to the brink of sanity by the sights before her eyes. Demonio! she wailed again, struggling against his iron body.
Edward gripped her spongy, frail arms, noting how thin she was in her age. A sack of bones and skin, the muscles of youth atrophied away. A lowly specimen, one whose blood was tainted by medicine and age. But he was too thirsty to refuse, too filled with the bloodlust of all those in the room. Their moans of ecstasy and their violent need was more than he could bear, more than his body could take.
"Sì, signora. Io sono il diavolo," he whispered, both to her and to himself.
"Per favore mi uccida in fretta. Non mi faccia soffrire," she cried, clutching her crucifix and mutely begging her God to save her. Realizing she was powerless against his inhuman strength, she stilled, clenched her eyes shut, and prayed the prayer of the condemned.
"Mi dispiace," Edward murmured, running his nose along her withered cheek. "Mi dispiace. Non soffrirà. Non sentirà nulla. Vada col suo Dio."
Gently, he lowered his mouth to her throat. As his cold lips touched flesh, she shuddered and whimpered in fear. Hearing her thumping heart and wheezing breaths, his body took over, and mindlessly, his teeth pressed through the translucent veil of flesh, cutting through ribbons of thin muscle, searching for vein.
Gesù perdonami! Salva la mia anima! she sobbed. Thoughts of fire and hell filled her mind. She feared not him, but what lay in store. She feared her God.
Against her wrinkled skin, in the language of her Church, not of her tongue, Edward whispered, "Visita eam in salutari tuo… suorum remissionem et veniam clementer indulge; ut ejus anima in hora exitus sui te judicem propitiatum inveniat et… transire ad vitam mereatur perpetuam. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum."
In recognition of his most ancient of words and cadence, her body relaxed in his arms. Her eyes fluttered and her heart began to wane. In long, relentless pulls, he sucked the remaining lifeblood from her body, draining her of every drop, leaving but a dried husk of the woman she was. With each draught, the fire in his throat cooled, doused by the human succor.
As her heart quivered its last, he wordlessly continued… remittat tibi omnipotens Deus omnes praesentis et futurae vitae paenas, Paradisi portas aperiat, et ad gaudia sempiterna perducat, Benedicat te omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.
Hours later, sated and with eyes glowing bright crimson, Edward wandered the darkened halls, the hem of his black cloak sweeping tile. Through borrowed eyes and ears, he saw expressions of hatred and fear and bliss, and he heard all of them. In his mind, they all called, human and non, screaming, laughing, crying. After more than a century of the same, it made him weary. Deep inside, he longed for some measure of peace and quiet.
But peace was not for him. For he was one of the chosen ones. Edward was the chosen of the chosen, one of three crown jewels in a collection. His life was forfeit, a slave to the Masters of their world, the Volturi.
A/N: A few items before we start...
- The title of this story was taken from the play, Night Must Fall, by Emlyn Williams (1935). While there are a few aspects to this story that might be comparable to the play, this isn't a play on a play. Reading the original will give you no help.
- This story is AU, more so than Dark Games & Twisted Minds. I'm keeping certain canon aspects and characteristics, but don't be alarmed or surprised if some things (a lot) have been altered.
- Fair warning: This fic is rated M for more than sexual content. There will be graphic violence. People will die.
- Lastly, I always love hearing from you. So please consider dropping me a line or two as you read.
French [Thank you to Ms. americnxidiot]:
Regarde ces oeuvres d' art! - Look at these works of art!
Italian [Thank you to Ms. Camilla10 for correcting my cruddy Italian]:
Diavolo! Dio, salvami… - Devil! God, save me…
Signora, andiamo! C'è così tanto da vedere! – Madam, let's go! There is so much to see!
Sì, signora. Io sono il diavolo – Yes, madam. I am the devil.
Per favore mi uccida in fretta. Non mi faccia soffrire – Please, kill me quickly. Don't make me suffer.
Mi dispiace. Non soffrirà. Non sentirà nulla. Vada col suo Dio – I'm sorry. You will not suffer. You will feel no pain. Go to your God.
Gesù perdonami! Salva la mia anima! – Jesus, forgive me. Save my soul!
Latin [Note: there are a few variations on the Catholic 'Last Rites'. The particular version from which I'm borrowing bits is from The Fisheaters]:
Visit her in Thy saving mercy, and by the passion and death of Thy only-begotten Son, graciously grant to her forgiveness and pardon of all her sins that her soul in the hour of its leaving the earth may find Thee as a Judge appeased, and being washed from all stain in the Blood of Thy same Son may deserve to pass to everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
By the Sacred mysteries of man's redemption may almighty God remit to you all penalties of the present life and of the life to come: may He open to you the gates of paradise and lead you to joys everlasting. May almighty God bless you, Father and Son, and Holy Spirit.