Dead Words – Horror one-shot

After a long and useless search through the underworld, Silvia Ferrante sat at what might have passed as a human bar, the seats too wide and too hard to be comfortable to a human being. She gently but firmly refused any offer of drinks or food from the bartender, a thing with too many eyes and too many teeth.

What a way to waste her time through the chaotic streets of the Stravaganza. Hours on end and nobody seemed to have seen anything of concern.

Oh, of course every single inhabitant of this chaotic underland had some bone to pick with each other.

Someone had built over their home, someone had laid eggs into their spouse, someone had sacrificed their kids to some occult entitiy hidden in spaces between spaces… the usual stuff.

The eldritch underbelly of the Atropa Belladonna’s Italian Dominion had been a refuge for half a millennia, and un-people from all over the world had tried to call it a home, or at least something as close as it could be.

Some, like the Witch Precatoria, rose to the highest ranks: the Table Thirteen, a seat in Rome, next to Atropa Belladonna and the other Witches.

Most hung to various rows of disenfranchisement and self-pity, kicking those below them just to reach a little higher. In this, it was remarkably similar to the world under the sun, wasn’t it?

Maybe Retrievers risked bone and limb everyday killing those who stepped out of line, but Alchemists?

Rabini could stay in his office all day, she was the one risking life and limb in the field. She had just seen the kind of distrust she was met with, even from people of her own department. She could only imagine the level of chaos this kind of stuff could reach in countries where Atropa Belladonna did not sit atop the bunch, keeping all of them in line.

Yes, Silvia thought she scratched the side of her neck, all of them.

“My my my,” slithered in a shrill voice, appearing like a puff of smoke from an underwater chimney, “if that is not an unsightly sight!”

Silvia turned, noticing what appeared to be a human at first, but there was a strange burning light in his eyes, and his skin was too tight, stretched over his bones like they had been grown and multiplied beneath his clothes.

He smiled a strenuous grin.

“I work with SISMI, obur,” she said to the wannabe-vampire, “I would avoid sneaking in if I was you. And right now I am under her direct orders,” she pointed at Precatoria, who was still talking with her Familiar just outside the bar. “Therefore, unless you have something to share about those odd murders in the surface world, scram.”

The light in the obur’s eyes shifted, his gaze touching Precatoria and then recoiled, and for a moment Silvia felt like a cool action hero, with nerves of steel and deadly one-liners.

The kind of person her sister could be proud of.

Then the obur grinned again, though in a more subsided way. “I had no idea.” He bowed his black-haired head, his mellifluous voice more normal in tone now. “Truly regretful to make you waste your time. It’s just… it’s hard to miss you, even among all this delicious chaos.”

His eyes moved towards her exposed arms, following the pattern of her veins. His desire,his craving slithered under her skin like venom, and she had to steel herself from just recoiling.

Wouldn’t help to show weakness.

“Your blood burns like the oil you keep in your lamps, human.”

Silvia raised an eyebrow.

“You don’t go out often, do you?”

“Truly, it is remarkable.” The obur shifted, ignoring her remark to try and keep his eyes on her veins. “Forgive my curiosity. What are you doing here, if I may? Oh, and my name used to the Ornsgundr, son of Ornsund. I hail from the frozen lands of the north, where the days are short and years long.”

Wasn’t it odd, like it was easier to confide in someone you had just met, a complete stranger with an obvious hard-on for her blood rather than in people she had known all her life?

She might have an easier time getting some information out of this dead fellow than all the other un-people she had been pestering. At least he seemed more collected and not about to go on a tirade about someone sucking off your spawn’s skin from the back of their eyes.

“Well, then why don’t you try to be helpful? Know anything about these murders?”

“By all that is red and living,” he replied, “I swear I only know very little. There has been some unrest among the living, yes, but who would try and disturb the order of things when… well… Precatoria is known for being a Witch with a temper.”

“She has her moments,” Silvia replied, looking at the Witch, still basking in the awe of her subjects.

She looked ridiculous with her arms crossed under her chest, making sure everyone looked at her with awe and fear, trying to get over the tendrils of influence Datura had seemingly put into her demesne. She was just so paranoid, hooked onto power like a tick onto a bloodied back.

“Maybe another Witch? Maybe someone from the south.” He suggested, once again with that sharp grin. “Dulcamara is known for her naughty sense of humor.

Silvia shook her head. “Nah. This is not tied to Witches. Not directly, I mean. So, if you have no information…”

“Wait, please, fire-in-the-veins. I said I only know the barest info about the murders, but this is not the only thing I know.” His eyes shone like firelights.

“Then what do you know?” His tongue, a dead thing, rose to lick broken lips. His eyes never left her veins. “I will not part with a single drop,” Silvia said, covering her arms.

Her blood was just too precious. For more than one reason.

“I do not ask you to part with it. I will not ask you to do so, fire-in-the-veins. But if you would allow me to touch your skin, just a touch, just allow me to warm up at the heat of your ambrosia… my tongue would get a lot looser.”

Silvia considered taking out her pistol and shooting him in the heart, right then and there. With Precatoria so close, nobody would bat an eye, no matter how many they possessed.

But the obur had information, or at least pretended to.

The spell matrix was still to be completed.

More people would die.

She did not know them, and Silvia could feel for the poor sods only a professional kind of worry, but they would still die horribly.

It was enough to motivate her to go forwards.

“Just a touch. I am a Retriever, obur. Try any trick, and I will come to retrieve your pieces for the black market.”

“Ah, it would be a honor to be hunted by you, fire-in-the-blood.”

Silvia slowly showed about three centimeters of her wrist, where her veins stood out in stark contrast. The obur’s swift fingers touched her skin. They felt coarse and cold, and seemed to absorb all of Silvia’s body heat. “What have you…” the obur twitched.

His nostrils flared, he blinked. He reminded Silvia of the last time she was in bed with a cute boy and she had just squeezed his seed out of him with all her passion, feeling elated and satisfied and desired. Happy times.

The obur shook.

“What have you done, fire-in-the-veins? What is this?”

“None of your business. Now, answer. What did you notice?”

The obur seemed to have a hard time detaching itself from the sensations Silvia’s blood was giving him, but he nodded, and tried to dominate his own desire, his jaw set, though his fingers never left her wrist.

“I… it’s a little hard to focus, fire-in-the-veins. But can’t you smell it?”

Silvia frowned. Sure, she might enjoy better reflexes and resilience than most, but smelling the air like a Witch? “Smell what? Precatoria did not seem to find anything strange?”

The obur grinned again, wider.

“I would not be surprised. They are born of dreams and memories and their golden ichor is nothing like your living red. They do not hear the thrum in the bones, the words in the blood, the soft singing of all livings, nor do they crave for it. They are like slabs of rock, or mountains in this living world. They think they own it, but do not.”

“Careful now,” Silvia whispered. “We would not want our resident Witch to ground you to a fine paste before you told me what you know.”

“Yes, I will tell you. The specks in the air, the sweet and sour smell. Don’t you feel it? No, I suppose you don’t. Something has come here.”

“Here? You mean in the Stravaganza?”

“On both sides. Something that was not there before. A group. Not many, but dangerous. Burning inside. Their bones… their bones thrumming, thrumming, out of tune.” He frowned, like an art critic in front of a ruined painting. “Uncomfortable to feel. Wicked. Twisted.”

Silvia had a flash of burning sparks, coiling around a crown of misshapen bones, growing from out of a skull.

“It is spreading.” His eyes rose towards the blackness of the vast sky engulfing them. Was it even a sky? She could not tell. “It is spreading, but they are not here to do so. They have little time, because their bones hold no marrow, and their fire is eating them from the inside.”

“Where have you felt this thrum?” Silvia took out her phone, which even though no signal came into the Stravaganza was still showing a map of Florence. “Show me.”

The obur looked at her device like it was a magical mirror of some sort, but as Silvia moved her finger on the map, he slithered his tongue out of his mouth, caressing his teeth, and hissed as her index passed over the Santa Croce church.


Silvia nodded, enhancing the image. It was not far from there, even in the Stravaganza.

They might… a sharp pain on her wrist called her back to reality.

The obur had cut through her skin, and put a red tinged finger to his lips. He grinned as the blood hit him, before recoling back into the shadows.

“You motherfucker!” Silvia took out her pistol, looking around for signs of the proto-vampire, but he had dissolved like ink in water.

She sat down and pressed her shirt over her wound.

The cut was shallow, but it pulsed.

Her fault.

She had fallen for it like a rookie.

But the obur would not be gone if he thought he could milk her for some more skin contact.

Whatever he had said, under Santa Croce might lay at least one of the keys to this mystery.

Author’s Notes: A simple dialogue study. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading!


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