Sharp teeth pierced the cork. The bitter smell followed the stopped as he yanked it free with a twist of his neck. Raziel spat it off the balcony towards the mob below. It followed the same fate as the Baron, who Raziel had thrown over that edge just minutes ago. He wondered if it had struck the corpse.
He lifted the naked bottlento his lips, liberated from the cold and dusky cellar of a man who was slowly cooling on the flagstones below. Raziel took a long swig, deep burgandy spilling from his lips. He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve and laughed at the moon.
"There's a problem."
Raziel turned to drop a withering glare on the two men who dared interrupt his moment.
"We just counted, one of them is missing. She must have snuck out the..."
"You fucking cretins," Raziel hissed, tossing the bottle of wine to the floor. It shattered, dark fluids turning black in the moonlight as they slowly spread. "I will deal with this."
"Finally," Raziel sighed. A moment ago he had been a shadow. One that had slowly detached from the alleyway with a feline grace.
He tilted the wicked, long dagger at the two women who had been fleeing towards him. One dressed as a noble, fine clothing hidden as best could be underneath the travelling cloak. The other in leather armor.
The flames were rising higher in the distance, reaching for the twinkling stars, setting the sky aglow. The screaming had died down, the clash of steel on steel.
Raziel was irritated. Having initiated the bloody revolt, personally killed most of the nobility and then plundered their wire cellars he had been expecting a night of debauchery through the burning town. Instead one of the family had escaped. With a sense of their blood already tied to their magic he had been forced to track her down. Like a common hound.
He was a slender man. He carried a slender knife. He was no brute, broad shoulders blocking the alley. Yet there was an animal cunning in his eye, a curve to his smile and a grace to his poise that suggested a truly deadly creature was in their path.
For the last girl from the noble family, he was doom.
He drew a small vial from his belt. It was filled with a thick, crimson liquid. There was power in blood and this was hers. Taken from her family that same night. Far, far more than that one vial had been spilled by his hand.
The sound of the vial being cracked in his hand rang out. The shards of glass cutting his own palm, mingling the royal blood with his own. The pain was a hot lance, thrust into every vein in his body at the same time.
The bodyguard stiffened.
"How very quaint," he sighed. "Drop. That. Sword."
The metal clattered to the flagstones. The 'noble' turned sharply. A simple rouse. The bodyguard would have pretended to abandon the noble girl who was secretly the guard all along. They even looked quite similar.
Seeing one last chance for entertainment to salvage the night, he wrapped his illusionary magic around the situation. The noble was his puppet now. He had her step aside and replaced her with an illusion of herself. To his gaze there were now two of her, the illusion remaining in place beside her bodyguard.
Raziel grinned from ear to ear, sharp needle teeth catching the light of Arethil's moons. It was only his eyes that reflected the distant fires.
"If you kill your own charge right now you can walk," he told the bodyguard. They must have dressed the woman into the noble's clothes quickly. He could see several rips in the seams. "Do it and I'll escort you from the town."
Raziel tilted the knife towards the sword. The noble girl was held fast by his blood magic, an unwitting member of the audience of this theatre. She had delayed his pleasure. Sensing a bond between the two, he would make her watch her own friend and loyal guard cut an illusionary version of herself down to save her own life.
"Do it…" he hissed. The illusionary girl closed her eyes and braced. The bodyguard picked up the sword. "...I'll even throw in a bag of gold for your own future."
"If you can, run," the bodyguard told the noble. Raziel's expression fell.
"How very droll," he groaned. He casually tossed his own knife over his shoulder. No one noticed that it didn't make a sound as it struck the floor behind him. "Well then…"
The bodyguard lifted her sword and charged on. One last act of self sacrifice. Pointless. Stupid.
Raziel barely moved.
One step and he turned his shoulder forwards. His tail snapped forwards, releasing the knife it had caught.
There was a dull thud as it caught the guard in the belly. She kept coming, her charge slowing right down. Finally the sword fell from her weakening grip. Her eyes widened in panic. She dropped to her knees.
With a resigned sigh, Raziel strode forwards. Stalking prey that had disappointed him. He grasped the travelling cloak and twisted her around.
The bodyguard was left on her knees, facing away from him. Facing the woman she had come to protect.
Raziel let the illusion disperse. He released his blood magic hold on the noble brat who had evaded his massacre.
"Look at her," he said to them both. His scarlet fingers crawled around the guard's neck, then he cradled her cheek as if she was a lover. Already she was getting weak, but she managed to look up.
His expression shifted, lip curling back into a sneer. The next motion was a sudden jerk. The other hand had held a knife. Raziel kept the guard's head up, facing her change as he opened up her neck. Blood bubbled forth, from the wide gash, from her lips.
Raziel's heart thrummed as he felt her own blood slow. It was always intoxicating, the moment the heart gave its final flutter. Warm blood rushed across his fingers and his eyes half closed in bliss.
The guard's eyes finally fluttered closed. It was almost as if she had gone to sleep.
Raziel pushed her lifeless body to the flagstones. Her blood had no colour any longer. Just a dark stain on the stones. He pointed the blade at his real target.
"Would you like to beg or barter now?"