Chapter 27. All Things Dark and Beautiful
They were lead through the dark and damp corridors of the dungeon. Erin wondered how the Erizul Guild members didn't get lost down there. No one spoke as Persephone led them, no one dared to break the silence that had fallen since leaving their cell.
They reached a door. It wasn't like the door to the torture chamber, this one could only be described as grand. It was jet black with a silver handle. Persephone turned the handle and pushed the trio through the door. In front of them was a steep, seemingly endless staircase. Persephone gave them another push and they begun to ascend.
When they finally left the staircase through an identical door they entered what seemed to be a very grand manor house. The walls were decorated with black, ornate wallpaper. Everything was pitch black with silver accents, Blame's colours.
Erin could smell the feast, after surviving on very little for the past few days, the scent made her mouth water. She glanced at Chad and Vechs, they both looked just as hungry as she felt.
Persephone strutted through the halls, her heeled boots made clicking noises that echoed eerily. They soon reached a large double door. It swung open to allow them into the dining room.
Blame, who was sat at the head of the table, jumped up, "Aah! The guests of honour have arrived!" He clapped his hands together and walked down the room to meet them, "I decided that you deserved something nice after how helpful you've been." Some of the Guild members stood up to lead the trio to their seats.
Once Blame had taken his seat again he spoke, "Right, you are the guests of honour, but we also have a special guest," he gestured down the table. The trio turned their heads to the seat opposite Blame's and watched as a figured faded into existence. He was dressed all in white, he practically glowed in amongst the black of Blame's manor. On his head he wore a top hat, underneath which was a mess of white hair. His eyes were piercing blue and his thin lips formed a hellish smile.
"I do believe you know of my dear friend Sicas Soretten," Blame said deliberately.
Erin looked at Vechs who'd gone as white as Sicas' coat. He looked ready to jump from his chair and strangle the man.
"Hello, nephew. It's been a while, hasn't it?" Sicas purred. His voice was soft and cool in the most disturbing way possible.
"Hello, uncle," Vechs spat the word, "there's a reason it's been a while."
"Oh come on, that was an accident. Anyway, if I hadn't…disposed of that awful goodie goodie you wouldn't have met Blame. I'm sure you'd say he was handsome."
"He's the most disgusting creature I've ever had the displeasure of meeting." Vechs hissed.
Blame feigned offense, "I'm in the room, Vechs! And be nice to your uncle, he is your family after all."
"Only by marriage!" Vechs said bitterly, "My aunt married that, that thing, I don't know what she saw in you."
"Power is bewitching, Vechs," Blame purred darkly, "I'm sure you'd agree." Erin didn't like the man's seductive tone. It was incredibly creepy. In fact, the whole thing was making her uncomfortable. But when she tried to stand up she found that her legs had been bound to the chair by bittermist.
"Miss Wicken! Why are you trying to leave? We haven't even had dinner," Blame said, his hungry gaze still fixated on Vechs.
Erin glared at him, "If this is how you treat your guests of honour I'd hate to see how you treat your normal guests."
Blame laughed, "Nice to see time in my dungeon hasn't dulled your sass, Erin," he ran his fingers through his hair, "though, you do make a valid point," he clapped his hands twice and several waiters flooded into the room carrying silver dishes of food.
The waiters placed dishes down in front of each person before quickly leaving again. Other waiters poured red wine into their glasses and also left promptly. Erin looked down at her food. It looked delicious and it took all her strength not to start wolfing it down in an undignified manner.
"I swear it's not poisoned," Blame said as he begun to eat his food. Erin squinted at it before her hunger took over and she begun to eat. It tasted even better than it looked. For a few minutes there was just the sound of everyone eating before Sicas spoke up.
"I must get the recipe from your chef, Blame, this is quite excellent."
"Yes, I hire only the best chefs, they're all world class." Blame said conversationally.
"I'm sure they are," Sicas nodded, "what do you think, Vechs?"
Vechs swallowed his mouthful, "I think I'd eat anything after what I've been living off for the past few days." He said in a passive aggressive tone.
"So ungrateful," Sicas tutted, "I apologise for my nephew's behaviour."
"Oh shut up! You don't need to apologise for me, you've been all but disowned by the family." Vechs spat.
"Vechs, just leave it. He's not worth it," Chad muttered.
Sicas put down his fork and looked at Chad, "I beg your pardon?"
"I said you're not worth it," Chad replied, louder, "you're just trying to get a reaction. It's what you do. You always play games, it's disgusting."
"Not a fan of games, Chad?" Sicas asked in a forced tone.
"Not when you make the rules."
Blame cleared his throat, "Now, now, stop bickering, you'll spoil the meal I so lovingly had prepared in your honour."
Chad clenched his jaw, but said nothing else. Their starter was cleared away and replaced by the main course. Throughout the meal the Erizul Guild members and Sicas engaged in a disturbing conversation that made Erin increasingly worried. They openly talked about murder like Erin would discuss an ordinary day in her life. Then again, for these people, it was normal.
Their plates were once again cleared away, but were not replaced.
"So," Blame rubbed his hands together, "I suppose you're wondering why I'd invite my captives up for a meal?"
"The thought had crossed my mind, yes," Erin said.
"I was also wondering why you'd be such a bastard to invite my uncle." Vechs spat.
"Oh stop grousing, Sicas and I are good friends," Blame said with a smile.
"Just my luck," Vechs muttered to himself.
Blame stood up and Erin could feel another monologue coming on, why did villains always monologue?
"Do you remember the day we invited you into my manor?"
"If by invited us into your manor you mean kidnapped us and kept you in your dungeon, then yes, I remember it distinctly," Erin retorted.
The madman laughed, "Oh I do love your wit, Erin. Anyway, I told you Vechs was a whole other thing that I didn't want to go into. Well, we're going into that now," he stepped onto the table and begun to pace it, like it was his stage, "so I was in Athose and I saw this handsome man. Now, I will admit to something, I can a be quite the hopeless romantic. And when I see something I like, I want it. This handsome man was with someone, though. Another fairly attractive man. I knew I couldn't compete, I had a reputation that would scare the handsome man away.
"So, I hatched a plan, I enlisted the help of Sicas and my Guild. This was the beginning of my master plan."
"You killed Zisteau on purpose?!" Vechs shouted at Sicas.
The man in white smiled and gave a curt nod, "I knew you wouldn't want to join me, you've always been such a good boy."
"Anyway, once Sicas had done what he does best, it was Persephone's go. She enchanted Vechs so he thought getting a hexer to help would be a good idea. Why do this, you may ask? Well," Blame clapped his hands and a waiter with a platter covered by an engraved cloche came from the kitchen. He placed it in the middle of the table before scurrying off, "I needed access to Vechs' heart. There's a known way of reviving people, but it very rarely works. Vechs was either crazy enough or so in love that he believed it would work."
Blame picked up the plate, balancing it on his palm like a waiter would, "Hearts are magical things, my dear guests. They hold so much power. With the right tampering you could do anything." He gestured to Persephone, "Take Persephone for example. She was dead, dead as anyone can be, but we'd removed her heart because we knew she was in danger. We used our combined magic and brought her back to life. There was a little…scarring, but you wear your scars proudly, don't you?" Persephone nodded with her half grin.
"Please stop monologuing," Erin grumbled.
"I don't think you're in any position to make orders, Miss Wicken," Blame laughed, "but as you please." He pulled the cloche off the platter to reveal a pulsating, black heart with bittermist steaming off it.
"Holy shit…that's mine, isn't it?" Vechs breathed, his voice filled with terror.
"Right first guess," Blame laughed shrilly, "yes, we have kept your heart in working condition all these months, ready for when your body was almost dead."
"What the fuck did you do to it?" Vechs demanded.
Blame flicked his hand and Vechs was pulled to his feet. With another flick of Blames hand Vechs was dragged onto the table to face Blame, "I modified it. I fell in love with your heart and just had to have it," Blame stroked the heart lovingly, "I don't actually need you. It was your heart I wanted."
He pulled his hand from under the platter, leaving it suspended in the air by a cloud of bittermist, "I have absolutely no need for you. Sure, you're a pretty boy and I would like a new play thing," He drawled. Blame reached to Vechs' belt and grabbed the dagger that was still in his belt, "Oh you're not happy to see me, it is actually a dagger." Blame chuckled at his joke.
"What are you doing?" Vechs whispered.
"Playing with my food." Blame purred, pulling the dagger from Vechs' belt. He brought it up to Vechs' neck. Bittermist flowed from Blame's hand and swirled around the dagger, "I don't need you, Vechs," he started to press the blade into Vechs' neck, "or at least, I don't need you alive."
The next few seconds seemed to move at a hundred miles an hour and in slow motion all at once. Blame sliced the dagger through Vechs' neck. Screaming filled the dining room. Chad looked like he'd been stabbed in the heart, it probably felt like he had.
Erin tried to jump up from where she sat, but bittermist bound her. She tried magic. She aimed both her hands at the mist and a golden blast shot from her palms, dissipating the mist. She leapt up and ran at Blame, her heart beat rapidly in her chest. Just as Vechs' beheaded body thudded to the table, Erin hands gripped around Blame's throat.
She pressed into it, gripping tightly. Blame started to laugh, it was mixed with spluttering, but the sound coming from his foul mouth was laughter. Erin felt a sharp pain at the side of her head. She been hit with the cloche that had been covering Vechs' heart.The last thing she saw before losing consciousness was Blame's manic, laughing face.