AN: Whew...long time, no write! Sorry about the ridiculous wait on this chapter. I just got done having an incredibly weird summer and the worst semester of my life. Because I have been steadily receiving encouraging reviews I decided to get back to this. Please do forgive the wait. I'm not sure if the style of this chapter will follow with the rest as it was written nine months later than the last. Please review! They're keeping this story going!


Voldo came blearily to his senses, body aching against the cold stone floor. Opening his eyes revealed darkness more deep and more oppressing than any moonless night he had ever faced. Even the blackness behind his lids was not as jet as this. Heart racing, Voldo closed his eyes, thinking in the depths of his mind that perhaps he had not actually opened them, but as they slowly lifted he found that the blackness remained heavily in place. On the verge of panic, Voldo swept out a long arm and brought his hand before his face. He couldn't see his fingers, not at point blank range. He wondered if he had gone blind and the thought terrified him to the point of a desperate wail. How could he hunt without his sight? More importantly, how could he fight against his captor?

At this point he realized that something was lying lightly against his skin. He reacted with a jerk, fighting to get out from under the unknown object, but he took no more than two steps before he had hit an abrasive and cold wall of stone. Senses rattled, Voldo turned on his heal and headed in the opposite direction, arms stretched out before him. They jabbed a similar surface. The panic that had not yet died gained new potency as Voldo repeated the process on the remaining two walls of his prison and understood that he was trapped. He hunched low to the ground, mouth tightening slightly as his back twinged, but he paid it no mind as he ran his fingers over every inch of the stone closet. His breath came in quickening gasps. His searching digits could find no crack in the wall, no opening on the thick wooden door, and the iron bars would not yield to his prying strength. Voldo took a step backwards only to have his foot collide with something hard. He heard water slosh about and felt it spill onto his foot as he backed away. He reached his hand out to the source of the noise and wetness and felt the smooth ceramic of a bowl. Cautiously he dipped his fingers into the water and brought them experimentally to his nose. The water smelled clean…cleaner than he had tasted in years. Feeling blindly, he picked the bowl up in wavering hands and brought it greedily to his mouth. He drained the contents in seconds and set the bowl haphazardly against the impenetrable door.

Voldo rocked mindlessly on his haunches as he tried to formulate an escape and also come to terms with the fact that escape seemed to be impossible. The cruel one had taken him…tied him to the hideous beast of an animal, pitted him against a bizarre human…cleaned him and now…now he was locked away. What did he want with him? Obviously not to kill him; he could have done that many times over by now. Most humans wanted only that and yet this one had come to him not with the intention to kill but with something else on his foreign mind. He had even tried to talk to him, as good as that had done. Voldo had only understood fragments of the mans speech such as 'quiet', 'hurt', 'fight' and now, the new word, 'clean'. He would have understood more if he had not been so insufferably confused.

Perhaps he could try speaking to the cruel one. If his vocalizations and body language had not been effective thus far, maybe speech would awaken his captor. Voldo did not truly believe that whatever he said would have an effect on the man. The hard gleam in his black eyes, the strange way he bared his teeth and the overall feeling of wrongness that emanated from him was enough for Voldo to know that the man would do what he wished regardless of any spoken demands. He was thusly left in a bitingly frustrating state of inactivity.

He swung out with all the rage of a wild, caged beast, his balled fists pummeling the wooden door and shaking sooty clouds of dust from the ceiling. He screamed and flung himself towards the opposite wall, beating against it as though it were not made of lacerating stone, but of pliable flesh. He did not stop until his fists were raw and bleeding, and until his back jolted him sharply. He sunk down to the floor of his prison, breathing in raspy hisses, and realized that the strange object that had been covering him had been nothing more threatening than the cloth on his body. Or…had been on his body. He growled lowly, as the memory of the cruel one stripping him bare played through his mind. As he was, Voldo felt no more shame at his exposed body than a dog would of its, but he longed for the dirty strips of cloth, if only for the psychological comfort they had offered.

The presence of the bowl of water and the blankets expressed care and this notion only deepened and saturated his confusion. Was the man going to sustain him yet keep him locked away? Voldo bowed his head to his chest, mouth half open in a snarl. It was then that his nostrils picked up a familiar scent. He brought his head down close to the floor, feeling before him until his fingers came into contact of a slick, spongy material he knew well. The raw meat smelled fresh; the thick coppery smell of blood enough to entice his stomach into groveling growls. Voldo ate the small chunk of meat he had a hold of quickly. The taste was not human, but it was not displeasing. He devoured the remaining heaps of meat, blood running down his previously clean face in deep rivulets. He licked his lips, fingers and the plate clean, knowing he would need every bit of sustenance if he were to be in any sort of condition to escape, providing the opportunity presented itself.

The thought that his captor had provided him with not just warmth and water, but now fresh meat was enough to make Voldo want to peel his skull apart if only to end the unanswerable questions winding through it. Did the cruel one mean to fatten him up and then devour him, himself? Voldo did not understand the irony of such a situation nor could he think of one that did not involve his eventual death. Not knowing what else to do, Voldo pulled the layers of cloth about him, glad of their warmth yet detesting their origin, and allowed himself to fall into a deep and gloriously question free sleep.

The cruel one did not disturb Voldo for nearly 14 hours although to Voldo, the exact length of time meant nothing and could not be gauged. He had slept deeply regardless of his situation and had not moved in all of those hours.

For Vercci however, time had crawled by more slowly than he had believed it capable of. After awaking in the early morning he had again been nearly overcome with the desire to look upon his trophy but he relented time and time again. He did not call upon any servants to abuse and he instead took to pacing the length of his bedchambers. He paused only to sit and fidget or to look through a particularly gruesome book that he already knew by heart. He wanted the beast to be rested, alert and ready to be broken. He wanted a challenge and if the man kept retreating into his own mind he would be severely disappointing.

Sitting in an ornate chair of decorated and gilded ivory near to his bookcase, Vercci closed his book and set it aside, nostrils flared with anxiety. He leaned over and pressed his ear against the Holy Bible that triggered the case to open into his prison cells and listened intently, hoping that perhaps he could hear the cannibal growling, or beating the walls but was as disappointed as he had been for the past half a day. Some few hours after he had fallen asleep the night before, he had been gloriously awoken by a chilling cry and the dull thuds of a body flinging itself at hard stone. Since then, the cannibal had been silent, and Vercci hoped in a rather indifferent way that the cannibal had simply fallen asleep and had not managed to somehow kill himself.

By midday Vercci could stand it no longer. It was a bright and hideously humid day and the conditions were not ideal for waiting patiently. He stood jerkily and pressed down on the Holy Bible. Once the bookcase had swung inwards Vercci rushed into the claustrophobic space, already grinning into the inky darkness. He knelt slightly and pressed his ear against the thick, dusty oak of the cell door that contained his prize. He listened hard for several tense moments, the dank interior nearly electrified with his desire. He swallowed deeply; no sounds could be heard coming from the cell. Vercci was nearly ready to pull back when the entire door rattled and shook on its iron hinges. An ear-piercing shriek, nearly inhuman in its frequencies, accompanied the deep boom of the shaking door and Vercci whipped his head back in gracious surprise.

The cannibal was awake, alert and obviously extraordinarily angry. Or perhaps extraordinarily frightened. Vercci did not much care which was the case. He took a step back, rocking on the balls of his feet and abruptly opened the door.

He'd expected the cannibal to fairly explode from the cell, as a caged bird to the free sky, but he was quickly learning that what he expected and what the cannibal actually did were two very different things. If Vercci had not just had his eardrums rattled by the cannibal's tirade against the door, he would have thought the man had simply disappeared; there was no sign of him in the deep shadow of the hold. Then, obscurely illuminated by the faraway light of day, the beast crept cautiously towards the exit of his cell, eyes sweeping the area for the threat he knew existed.

Voldo spied Vercci standing slightly to the right of his cell door, backlit by harsh slivers of light that pierced his dulled sense of sight. Voldo wanted nothing more than to flee, but the way the other was standing and simply staring was enough to halt that urge. Would the cruel one lash out? Did he have a sword? Voldo knew that word well. Trapped by his indecision Voldo lifted his head and breathed deeply, hoping he could catch a scent that would give him some clue to his situation. He sniffed at the thick wood of the door and could smell old blood caught in nail marks and gauges. Warily, he craned his neck around the doorframe, eyes intent upon Vercci but also making frantic glances to the light.

He leapt forwards all at once, racing out of the dark hall and into Vercci's bedchamber. Once out in the light he paused only for a fraction of a second in confusion, before streaking for the door that led to the balcony. Vercci had no doubt that the cannibal would have leapt from the balcony and obtained a brutal but final freedom on the polished limestone below. He was quite glad he'd had the foresight to lock the door. Voldo rattled the handle feverishly and tore away from it, his eyes wide. He edged frantically around the perimeter of the room, his agitation showing plainly in his labored breath. His spidery hands groped surfaces as he ran, but nowhere could an exit be found. End tables and chairs were toppled in his progress. A suit of armor fell to the ground in an excruciating clatter causing Voldo to jerk. His every sense was on edge and the fact that his captor was still calmly watching him quickened his run into a sprint. He entered the foyer, bare feet slapping against the cool marble and hurled himself into the thick gaudy door. The impact likely bruised his shoulder, but he paid it no mind. He clawed at the door, mouth tight in a desperate grimace before he remembered the use of the door knob. He twisted it and again, the door held fast. Fairly spitting in rage and fear, he about faced and ran into the room opposite. He screeched to a halt, recognizing this room as the one he'd been cleaned in and was loath to examine it further. His addled gaze found a small door to the right of the bathtub and he rammed into it, tried the knob and howled in frustration, pummeling the sleek wood with scabbed fists.

He spun around, chest rising and falling rapidly. He could find no exit that had not been blocked or barred and his fear was quickly giving way to fury. He loped away from the bathroom and into the foyer once more. His pale eyes examined the ceiling 20 feet above him and every wall in his light of sight. There was nothing. No way out. The scream that came from him was silent from throat constricting anger. He whipped around and saw that Vercci was still there, the same thin-lipped smile on his face. The fact that the human still did not fear him, even when it could plainly see how furious he was…Voldo snapped. He raged towards Vercci, nearly blinded by his hate and arched a long arm towards the bare neck.

He'd expected to be struck with a sword, but instead, a thick baton collided with his arm, nearly breaking the bone. Vercci stepped aside quickly and slammed the baton across the cannibals back. Voldo's back arched reflexively and he shrieked in pain as he sunk to his knees, cradling his throbbing arm.

"No." Vercci stated, walking about the cannibal in a circle.

Voldo got to his feet once more, teeth grinding and before he'd even made a move the baton hammered into his stomach. His breath exploded out of him and he doubled over, his good arm, clutching his abdomen tightly, as if he could squeeze the pain out of it.

"I said no." Vercci tutted. Voldo made another clawing motion towards his captor and the baton whacked the hand out of the way. "Believe me, you will learn obedience."

Voldo inhaled sharply, bringing both of his injured limbs under his abdomen.

"At the very least, you will learn the meaning of 'no'."

Voldo's leg lashed out at an odd angle and Vercci had fallen before he even knew what had happened. He barely had time to register the sharp throb in his shin before the cannibal was on him. The breath of the beast was far to close. Vercci kicked out but his foot met empty air; the cannibal had moved the entirety of his bulk in one skittering movement. He swung out with his baton but his arm was caught in the cannibals steel grip centimeters from colliding with his prisoners face. Vercci wrenched his arm and then pain exploded in his hand. Voldo clamped his mouth down on Vercci's hand and with a snap, ripped the pointer finger off. The baton was immediately dropped as Vercci screamed, his maimed hand flexing spasmodically and thick torrents of blood gushing from the remnant of his digit.

One of his now frantic kicks caught Voldo in the side, but Voldo was in a state of utter rage and the pain went unnoticed. Again he hunched over Vercci, mouth open over the throat, the longing to taste more of the mans blood unquenchable. Voldo's tongue brushed the jugular and a heavy object collided with his skull. He rolled off of Vercci in a daze, white lights dancing mockingly before his eyes.

Vercci scrambled away from the slumped cannibal, the helmet from his toppled suit of armor clutched in a white knuckled grip. His breath was ragged and his eyes wide. The cannibal made another sluggish movement towards him and he rammed the helmet into the other mans skull again. Voldo went limp, his mouth still soused in Vercci's blood. Now that the threat of death from the cannibal had ceased, pain rapidly replaced his adrenaline. He gritted his teeth, stumbled over to his wardrobe and opened a thin drawer, removing from it a small, highly lacquered box. Fumbling slightly he withdrew a bottle of brown tinted liquid and uncorking it, he drank two deep gulps.

The laudanum would dull the pain more slowly than he hoped, but it was better than nothing. Removing the same salve he'd used on the cannibal, Vercci lathered the stump of his finger with it. Again he took out his needle and thread and using his mouth to hold the thick black string taught, he sewed the gaping hole shut. He chuckled lightly under his breath as he regarded his handiwork and wiggled the stump. His smile turned into a tight grimace of pain. He would have to refrain from moving the stump for some time. He wrapped a cloth tightly about it to soak up any seeping blood, and then turned to the cannibal.

The beast had taken his finger. His finger. Vercci laughed and when he spied his pointer finger still half curled on the baton near the cannibal he laughed even louder. No man had ever done such harm to him. No man had taken part of him. Curiously, he nudged the finger with the toe of his shoe. It rolled over from the touch and lay as still as the piece of meat it had become.

His senses clouding slowly from the laudanum, Vercci opened one of the displays near to his bookshelf. The first three shelves of the wooden case held ancient weapons that he had found particularly interesting or gruesome. The bottommost shelf held objects of restraint; thick chains, ropes, and other inhibiting straps. Vercci pulled out several lengths of chain.

Kneeling over the cannibal he took the beasts arms and tied the wrists tightly together. He grabbed the ankles and shackled them. He then stared at the pale form in a dazed manner; elated and furious all at once. The combination of laudanum and dull, throbbing pain were effective in keeping his physical desire of the beast to a minimum. Vercci began to drag the cannibal back to his cell when a thought struck him. Laughing spasmodically, he crossed back over to his display case and reaching into the bottom shelf he pulled out a bit. As though Voldo were a horse, Vercci slid the metal bit into the partially open mouth and fastened it at either end with a length of leather. The makeshift gag would effectively keep Vercci's remaining nine digits safe. Satisfied, Vercci took the cannibal by the wrists, drug him back into his cell and locked the heavy door.

Back in his bedroom, Vercci picked up his useless finger and pondered what to do with it. He could have a servant come to retrieve it, if only to see the look the underlings face. Perhaps he could feed it to the dogs. But then, why feed it to the dogs when he had a perfectly good cannibal? Laughing loudly now, the drug beginning to fully take effect, Vercci entered the dark space again and tossed the finger into the cell through the bars. He wondered if the cannibal would eat it or if the beast might actually be offended by the gesture. Either outcome amused Vercci.

He entered his bedchamber and pressed the Holy Bible down, and then lay on his bed. He was distantly aware of making barely audible sounds as his senses clouded and the pain in his hand receded. But most of all he was aware of a sense of happiness he felt had nothing to do with the laudanum. The beast had taken his finger. The thought echoed through his skull, and his sense of happiness increased. The anger, the absolute rage in the cannibal's eyes…Vercci smiled as he nodded off in his drug induced stupor. Oh yes, the cannibal would be a delicious challenge.