Author: Guede Mazaka
He tells them to hurry, and they think they understand.
They don't. They don't feel the tides flowing against them in their veins, the pull and wash of bestiality coming ever nearer.
As wounds go, it isn't that bad. He's had far, far worse, and that's even with his strangely quick healing. Now, he can barely see where the claw caught. The blood's all gone, the skin has closed over, and there is only an angry red crescent. By the end of the night, it will have turned white as bone.
He can taste bone. Bone crunching between his teeth, and hot sweet marrow spilling out, and the rich blood flavoring it all. It's like a memory, only worse because he wants his memories and he doesn't want this, yet it clings like a leech to his brain, draining out that part that is Gabriel and leaving only…only…
And the worst part is, it's beginning to speak to him.
Sing, actually. Sing of forests that stretch unto the end of the earth with no men, with no foul interruptions, and with game fierce and strong with the fear-scent. Of feet padding on the ground, feeling the uneven pebbles and the dirt, and of the myriad worlds that a single sniff would bring. Of the softness of Carl's skull, ready to be broken off his hunched shoulders, and of the wonderful yielding of Anna's breasts to sharp teeth, like a doe caught while heavy with young.
It's free and wild and it screams at him until he cannot hear himself. And then the horse suddenly shies from him, trying to buck off the monster that crouches on its back, and he comes back to himself, reeking of disgust.
He no longer watches the roads for dangers, the trees for glowing eyes, the sky for leathery wings. He watches only the moon. The fattest, heaviest prey of them all, white and glowing. Made for rending, for tearing, for gobbling up.
He mentioned it once, in passing and heavily veiled, to Carl, and the monk told him some story of Vikings and wolves chasing moon and sun. Of an end to the world. And he thinks now that the story is right and wrong.
It knows the destruction, and it knows the ravening fury. But it does not know the lure of wiping things clean, of plunging into darkness that hides, of loving the black that coats and forgives and holds so many pleasures.
He's starting to hate the moon. But he can't stop watching it.
And the vampire is pale white, pale silver, and he glows like the unblinking eye in the sky.
Eat, kill, destroy. His scent is wrong. He must go. He cannot live, he cannot be suffered to live-this is not his land. This forest is older than he, will go on when he does not, and yet he treats it as his plaything, as his little paradise when he should fall to his knees and grovel. He will die. He will die. The woods demand it.
There is wind, bringing messages of smell that urge on the wolf. There is silver light, strengthening the working it has wrought with every beam. There is glass like hard sharp rocks, and there is blood that reaches deep down and calls and howls and wants.
Death. It's a drumbeat that pulses with the wavering of the moon. It cannot be resisted, and the wolf obeys, even though the vampire claws its shoulders, rips at its throat, wrenches away precious red drops from fur. The blood-drinkers do not know death. They are fools. They will be corrected. They will die, and the moon will watch.
Gabriel had never been one for sleeping, but now he barely sleeps at all. And when he does, it's during the day. Light dozes when they're riding, quick naps when they're on the ground. He can barely remember what he ate for midday meal, only a hour ago.
Carl thinks it's unhealthy. He says that Gabriel needs to sleep, or else his judgment will cloud. He will begin to see things. Gabriel doesn't have the heart to tell Carl that it's already happening.
Sometimes he thinks that the wolf is still inside, or that it had left parts of it behind. The sound of running over pine needles. The taste-and the liking-of vampire blood. The knowledge.
What he does at night instead of sleeping is go outside and stare at the moon. Its changes, its shifts in mood. It broods like a man sometimes, and it can beam angrily or happily or sickly. It grows round and then dwindles to needle-sharpness. When he's there, under it, he doesn't feel like he needs anything. Not rest, not food, not water. Not companionship. He needs nothing.
It still sings. He has to work to hear it now, but it does. And he wants to go back. The sun's voice is too harsh for him, stripping flesh from illusion and leaving only the bare ragged bones behind.
He follows the yellow for now, but he fears that there will come a time when he abandons it and returns to the white. And then he will race through the trees, and lord it over the other beating hearts, and he will no longer be Gabriel.