Stephen marched through the halls of the old tenement as if he had lived there his entire life. He took no notice of the rubbish and grim that collected across the floor. He was motivated by purpose. He passed through a door guarded by two Shades almost identical to the two that guarded his exit. Mindless creatures, they were useful in this capacity. Following directions to the letter, no more or no less, even if it were to mean their own extinction. The flicking candles around the room and the smell of fresh earth brought back memories of home.
The woman slid into the room to greet him her dress a web of indigo and black sticking to her pallid flesh.
“We are honored once again with your presents oh Master of Shadows.” The woman chanted as she kneeled before him exposing the back of her neck.
“Rise Kali, princess of spiders, your loyalty to me need no proof.” Stephen responded. “I have come to simply inform you that the time frame for our plans has been expedited, and to assure myself that our guest will be ready when the time comes.”
“Although he may not know it, our guest has already succumbed to my enticements. I need simply prove to him that he can no longer resist and he will be ours from this day forth.” Kali assured him.
“Then it appears that I have arrived at a most opportune time. I would greatly enjoy watching you deal the final blow.”
“If it pleases you sire, follow to my lounge and I will have him brought forth for your review.” Kali said as she rose and escorted Stephen into the next room.
Two comfortable chairs were set before a majestic fireplace, warm embers burning with in cast a hot glow to the remainder of the room. Kali draped herself across the side of one of the chairs as Stephen took a seat in it. She summoned more shades to bring him her finest goblet of Red while they waited for their guest.
Soon Kali’s two largest shades entered supporting the guest between the two of them. His long hair was matted and grimy, his naked skin seemed to glow with a cold fire all of it’s own. Roughly they deposited him down in the chair across from Stephen and stood watch on either side.
“Interesting, I would not have expected him to look so healthy after all that he has been through.” Stephen acknowledged.
“He would not have served our purpose if you could see how much his will has been broken. Even now he still harbors some hope of salvation from all of this. He knows the need though and once he accepts it tonight there will be no turning back.” Kali hissed in Stephen’s ear.
“You, fop!” Stephen snapped. “I expect you to look at me when I am addressing you.”
The sullen figure suddenly snapped to attention and spat in Stephen’s direction, it dropped to the ground uselessly between them.
“It would appear my dear that your assessment of our guest is a little premature.” Stephen sighed.
Rising from Stephen’s side Kali slithered across to her prey. “His mind may still hold out some hope,” She said dancing around the still figure. “ But his heart truly knows that it has surrendered itself to us. He can not live without the touch that burns.”
Stephen watched the figure shake as beads of sweat sprung up and began to trickle down his gaunt face.
Kali brushed back her prey’s hair so as to whisper in his ear. “He knows that the choice of freedom is no longer.”
Kali turned to the shades and took a long knife from them. The serpentine edge glinted in the dim firelight. She held the hilt out to her prey and allowed him to grasp it. Pulling him to his feet she grabbed his arm and twisted it around her placing the blade of the knife to her own throat.
“With but a flick of the wrist you could end my existence, these shades are under ordered to interfere with you in no way.” As she spoke the shades moved away and opened the door to the outside, granting him access to freedom. “If this is your choice then you will never be haunted by the need again, you will return to how you were before you arrived. But I know the need has already claimed your heart, you can not imagine yourself living with out the taste, the power.”
Stephen watched as the knife shook in his grasp seeming to be caught in a moment of indecision.
“It can be yours again and forever, you simply need to kneel before my master and drink. Surrender yourself to him with all of your heart.”
Listening to her words Stephen drew a small dagger from within his coat and sliced a clean line across his palm. Wiping the blood from the blade he slipped it back into its pocket and allowed his blood-dripping palm to lounge over the arm of the chair.
“Can you smell it, it calls to you the strength and power,” Kali whispered. “One small step and it will be inside you forever.”
The knife rang out clear as a chime as it struck the floor. Clattering for a single moment. By the tie it was still Kali was lounged across the heavy chair opposite Stephen looking down at her emasculated prey crumpled on the cold floor.
“Go to him and accept you damnation.” Kali hissed.
The whimpering figure slowly rose to his knees and crawled like a starved dog to Stephen and buried his face in Stephen’s palm drinking deeply.
Kali chuckled as he crumpled in a ball at Stephen’s feet and moaned “forgive me, forgive me””
Finally as silence enveloped the room she rose and instructed the shades. “Take the thrall and clean him, his use to us has just begun.”
Once they were alone again Kali dropped to her knees at Stephen’s side and he allowed her to drink as well, a reward for her exception work.
“Well done, my dear, but what would have transpired if he were not ready to condemn himself?” Stephen challenged.
“I would sacrifice all for my lord, but fear not, I would never risk your plans. The shades outside would have dealt with him how you wished and if my use to you was not ended you could have returned me to your service.”
Stephen smiled down at her and once again allowed her to feast on his power.