243 The Kitsune*
Surai had watched with curiosity at first. She had slit the wrist of one of the invaders to her territory, invaders that had harmed the forest, and she had held the struggling man's bloody wrist over the mummified body's mouth.
She'd found it strange that the body didn't smell. A corpse rotting like that, one would expect quite the stench. the only indication that he was even alive was the slow and distinct thumps of his heartbeat every half hour or so. If Surai looked from the right angle she could even see its movement. It had been fascinating, but disconcerting. She'd spent less and less time in this corner of her little cave over the past two years, returning only to ensure that no sorry creature had come along to take a bite out of him. But it seemed that they knew to stay away.
As the blood dripped onto the body's lips and into it's mouth, it was as if it hadn't spent the past two and a half years completely immobile. Fangs that had long ago elongated in a silent and pained cry sunk into the wrist violently, and pull in almighty gulps of blood without abandon.
It was the bones that healed first, then the nerves and muscles and fluids that surrounded them. It was still without most of its skin and organs when the first body was drained dry. Surai pushed another of the intruders she'd caught towards the body as it half sat up in search for more.
Bony arms and hands shot out, grabbing the fleshy body and yanking it forward with surprising strength. The fangs sunk into the man's neck this time, through clothes as well, didn't seem to matter so long as it had access to the blood. Though after a minute it withdrew and yanked the clothing aside as if to get closer.
It was the organs and the fleshier muscles this time, the eyes and lips started to appear much more alive as well. He was still mostly skinless after the second body, but it had at least begun to resemble a live being again. It pulled itself onto its knees, the old clothing that had long ago torn and withered falling away as Surai pushed another of the intruders forward.
Surai could barely concentrate on keeping the captors in their fantasy-like illusion as she watched in fascination. Though the moment they were fed on it seemed pointless to keep them in it. She could hide what they saw and heard, but she couldn't trick a body's internal pain receptors. And it certainly seemed painful.
At least the first to had, the third screamed at first when the fangs plunged into his throat, but shortly after he just went limp. At first Surai thought that he had just been drained quickly, but it didn't seem to be the case. Did this other path of Chaos possess some kind of illusion power as well? The prey's eyes certainly looked glassy.
When the third body dropped, it was certainly Rassa who knelt on the stone table she'd left him on. He resembled the young man in the illusion enough, though thinner and weaker looking. He took a moment to take a breath, then he shifted and stepped down from the bench he had been lying on and walked right up to the fourth in a kind of lazy gait that was every bit a man simply taking what he wanted.
Surai couldn't help but smile at that. Now that was the Chaos in him.
The fourth body seemed to be a more leisurely meal as his body filled out and his Life Lines took on a darker shade, a sign they were healthier and held power as they were meant to. When Rassa dropped the fourth body on the ground carelessly, then he turned to look over his shoulder at Surai as he grabbed the fifth and final one.
"Got any clothes for me Surai?"
Surai smirked, "What? You don't want to flaunt it?"
Rassa hesitated in his move to sink his fangs into the last intruder, taking a moment to glance down at his body before up at Surai, a smirk on his own lips, "Haven't you had two and a half years to ogle my body as you please, Surai?"
Surai huffed, "Please, who wants to ogle a rotting corpse?"
She smiled then as she stood, "And for the record, if you hadn't been a corpse, I'm not sure I would have been able to stop at ogling. Good gracious and Chaos is generous to its followers".
Rassa scoffed and sunk his fangs into the fifth body as Surai left the cavern, flicking small flames of blue fire over at the four bodies which lit in a matter of seconds, then she called over her shoulder, "Be a dear and clean yourself up afterwards? There's a spring nearby, I'll have those inconvenient garments for you to wear afterwards".
By the time Rassa finished the fifth body, the flames had nearly devoured the other corpses. Rassa found it intriguing that they had not jumped to the dried leaves and branches surrounding them. He threw the fifth body on top of one of the nearly extinguished flames and it happily gobbled it up, turning it into nothing more than ash.
Rassa was not full, not after being in the sub-death for two and a half years, but he was sufficient enough to not feel starving anymore.
He exited the network of caves that Surai seemed to call home before he scented the spring Surai had spoken of. He relished in his speed for the first time in a long time before he entered the water. He cleaned the dirt, muck and blood from his body, noticing that Surai had sat on a rock nearby as he bathed. He'd also noticed that this lake was much like the one in the illusion. Perhaps it was the one in the illusion and he just hadn't thought anything of it at the time.
He emerged from the water, taking the thicker cloth she offered to dry off before he dressed. Dark brown breeches with black leather boots. He took the tops and cut slits in the back of each, a deep red cotton shirt with billowing sleeves and a black leather vest. A leather coat as well, with a hood. He smiled at the hood, noticing as he placed the coat on that it was only long in the back, reaching just below the back of his knees. At the front it buttoned closed around his waist like a normal jacket.
"Well, well, you clean up nicely in fae clothing, even if you have ruined them," said Surai, her top lip curling up as she spied the slits Rassa had made in the shirt, vest and coat with his claws, "Those Fae Males would be heartbroken to see someone looking better than them".
"Are they so vain?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," Surai rolled her eyes.
Silence lapsed between them as Surai sat up, then she stood and stepped up to Rassa, giving him a light kiss on the cheek.
"It has been a pleasure, seeing this new path of Chaos open," she said, "I think you'll do great things, Rassa".
Rassa smiled back, "Thank you for putting up with me for it. You won't come with me?"
Surai shook her head, "We all have our burdens to bare on our paths. Perhaps we will meet again, though I hope not too soon, I sense you will be trouble".
"As if you foxes aren't trouble enough," Rassa smirked.
Surai frowned, "Foxes?"
"I saw another like you some time ago, she stole a totem from an auction in the Southern Isles," said Rassa.
Surai's eyes eased in thought, "What colour was her fur?"
"A deeper orange than yours, almost red," said Rassa.
Surai gave a small sad smile, and nodded, "My sister, Kali. She is very similar to me, but our path has it's own complexities. At our core we are the same, but we draw our power from two sides of the same coin. I am Kitsune, the more passive side, she is Nogitsune, the more aggressive. Still, we pay the same price".
Rassa smiled, "Kitsune, it has a nice ring to it".
"Doesn't it?" Surai smiled, then she stepped back and waved her hand impatiently, "Better than 'fox' anyway. Now be gone, young Vampire. You have long over-stayed your welcome here".
Rassa smiled, "I shall see you again Surai".
Then Rassa took the Tracking Charm from his pocket and summoned his wings. Surai's eyes widened, and Rassa heard her mutter as he took off towards the West.
"Well, now the slits make sense".
In her little cove as Rassa disappeared into the distance, Surai felt the power within her rise. Her Life Lines thrived and expanded, and a ninth tail grew to join her other eight. She breathed deeply at this new feeling, at this rush of unimaginable power. Her eyes focused on the brilliant galaxies of Mist around her, then she paused, her eyes focusing on one point.
"I see," she said, "So we will meet again. Pity it won't be under better circumstances".