By Demons be Driven
The bricks of the chimney oozed just enough heat to warm the small room comfortably, yet to the figure huddling on the bed, the room was stiflingly hot. Sweat damped his shirt and ran freely down his face, mixing with the tears rolling slowly down his unshaven cheeks. His dark hair hung in limp clumps, fat drops of sweat running down the clumps to drip onto his already-stained shirt. A single candle burned on the small table in the corner, the stubs of three more just like it scattered around the battered holder. The man stared blankly into the flame, grey eyes rendered amber in the weak, flickering light of the candle. Only he could say what he saw there, but judging by the fear in his eyes, it wasn’t anything pleasant. Silently, his lips moved, forming words that only he could hear, each word seeming torn from him as if dragged free by a team of horses.
A faint, sibilant hiss suddenly drew his eyes to the true object of his fear, lying across the foot of the straw mat that made up bed, flashing and glinting in the light of the candle. His arms peeled away from hugging his knees and he tried to push himself back, further away from the thing, but his back was already to the wall and his limbs lacked the strength to move him more than a few inches before they gave out.
“You ssee? You ssee what happenss when you neglect me?” the voice whispered, quiet as silk drawing over flesh. The man pushed himself from the bed, tumbling to the floor with a thud, fresh bruises already beginning to form under his pale flesh.
“You are weak. I am sstrong. Sstrong for you, William Lynch.”
The man grunted with the strain of levering himself upright and heaving himself into the corner, as far from the thing on the bed as possible.
“You need my sstrength, William Lynch. You will die without it. Sslowly, wassting in thiss sstinking inn. Thiss iss not your fate.”
William’s lips moved in time with the words, the hiss coming from his own throat, through his ears heard it differently. To him, they came from what he knew was the true source of the words. On the bed, the swept-hilted rapier lay unmoving; its hilt burnished silver and graceful curves. Only William could see the truth of it, knew the truth of it. Of the monstrous thing that lived inside of it.
Inside of him.
“Yess, William Lynch, sstop thesse regretss and sself pity. You can be sstronger than thiss. Take me up. Let my sstrength be yourss again! You can be the sstrongesst of them all!”
His eyes fell closed, as heavily as if they had been made of lead. He squeezed them shut, refusing to look at that cursed thing. His hands came to his ears, refusing to listen to the honeyed words, trying to block them out. They came still, creeping into his mind without stopping first at his ears.
“You need me, William Lynch. I need you. Take me up, feel my sstrength as yourss!”
Hot tears started fresh down his cheeks, sweat running in thick rivulets down his face and back. His entire body began to shudder, though from the effort of holding himself upright or resisting the urge to reach for the sword was impossible to tell. Slowly, his fingers untwined from his lank hair, shaking as if palsied, moving almost of their own volition. Gradually, his arm stretched, trembling like a leaf in a storm, to its full length, his palm upward.
Resting there, lightly as if it were nothing more than a dream, the rapier fitted to his hand more closely than if it were a glove of the finest kidskin. In that moment, the whole of his being changed.
He stood slowly, easily, the quaking in his limbs but a faint memory. A slow smile spread across his lips, full of stated desire and dark intentions. The most striking change, however, was the faint bluish tint shining in his pale grey eyes. He lifted the sword to his lips, smiling more and gently kissed the naked blade.
“My strength,” he whispered and this time his voice was wholly his own.
28 May 2009
By Demons be Driven