Thanks very much to Vanessarae for looking into, and shaping up, the weird, wild imaginings of our minds!

An extra happy birthday to Gasaway Alley and a smooch to Viola Cornuta.

The song that inspired us (that's me and the wondrous winterstale) for this chapter was Host of the Seraphim, by Dead Can Dance.


Chapter Two: Ecstasy and Expatriation

Budai Vár, Álöltözet golyó
Buda Castle,Masquerade Ball

Arriving alone, I was shown up a grand, curving staircase to the second floor and into the ballroom by a man of higher service. Four pairs of intricately carved doors were thrown open to frame the bacchanalian banquet of sumptuous, courtly proportions inside. Three times as long as it was wide, the glittering dancehall was walled with rococo details in arches and fanciful curlicues. In the middle of every section, an elegant, precious metal sconce held the weight of upwards of sixteen lit candles. Each panel decorated in gilt was mirrored by an alcove encasing large windows overlooking the equally illuminated jardin à la française with her avenues, parterres, and reflection pools. The terraced lawn beyond led to a folly on the opposite shore of yet another manmade lagoon.

Stopping beneath one of the ornate, filigreed candelabra that had been raised so as not to interfere with the cotillion, I looked about the gathered aristocracy; only the highest strata of society was in attendance this night. Circular banquettes in ivory, crimson, and gold were arranged artfully amidst the throng whose skirts swept with the rustle of richest fabrics, and chinked with the embellishment of daintily appliquéd jewels.

Dashing figures cut swathes with their ladies, dancing through a minuet, hands touching just at the fingertips as the lines of men and women met, parted, and paired anew to the soft, innocent measure of the musicians.

It was only hours after the hunt during which Edouard had come upon me, wildly feasting from the lynx, yet those monstrous minutes that had held us apart felt more endless than all my years with the Bloody Lady of Čachtice.

For him, again, I was searching.

Instead, I found Janos Vitlok.

"Ah, Baroness." He greeted me with a perfectly executed bow.

"Fitzrehd Vitlok, what a singular pleasure," I replied as I sunk into a courtly and flirtatious curtsy. My afternoon with his Alizka had warmed me to the junior officer, and our play at courteous interchange was easy and light-hearted. At that, he had none of the bristling arrogance of the Prince and thus, my tribute was easily given.

"The lovely Grand Duchess? Has she been stolen from you by some other suitor?"

A heavy shadow passed over his eyes and he lifted his brows sadly. "No, if only it were some other beau I might charm her away from. She is abed again, suffering exhaustion from the afternoon out of doors."

"Oh, dear., I said, patting his hand with sincere regret. "Such a brave girl. She speaks of you with noteworthy devotion."

"And I have pledged like dedication to her. If she…" he stopped, inhaling sharply and squaring his broad shoulders. "She is all that I am, everything I hold dear in this life. Without…" His speech trailed, impotent in the knowledge of what was surely ahead.

He was a remarkable specimen, strong and finely made.

Perhaps…

"I do so regret this news, Commander Vitlok. Won't you please relay my most fervent wishes for Her Highness' recovery and hope we might ride out together soon?"

"Of course, Baroness." Leaning down, he brushed the back of my hand with his lips behind a tumble of blond hair.

"Might you favor me with a dance later, Baroness? Alizka won't mind. She does so love to waltz." The sadness in his voice chipped at my usual reserve. His heart was given; there would be no recovery from the loss of his little Duchess. I patted his cheek with an affection that disarmed me, and smiled up at him with great sincerity.

"In honor of Her Highness, nothing would bring me greater happiness, Commander." I offered my dance card and he filled in his name quickly. After completing his claim, he returned the little book to me and stood once again with perfect military deportment.

"Until the waltz, Baroness."

Inclining my head demurely, I offered a little bow and even pressed his large, capable hand slightly in mine.

The poor boy would be bereft without his Alizka.

But still, perhaps…

A pair of jocular jesters jingled around me, grinning in their harlequin habille, the bells chiming off their toes. They brushed boldly into me, and I quelled the immediate urge to make mincemeat of them.

For that wouldn't do.

The extravagant fools kept getting in my way! For a moment, I thought I glimpsed a tall man with a heaping of bronze atop his head like fire on Icarus' wings, and thought it the most absurd sight I'd witnessed. Before I could be certain, my vision was shrouded by a black and white masqued Harlequin snapping a whip while a figure in a dreadful bear costume performed acrobatic feats atop a gilded perch.

The theme of this bal masqué was The Hunted of Hungary. As such we were to marry our sauvage side.

I felt exactly that, hunted, as I waded through the crowd of hot humans now placing steps to a Mazurka, looking for Edouard, feeling an excited current as I imagined him watching for me.

In deciding upon my attire and hiding piece, I had no choice in the matter. For I would always be the tigresse.

A sweet-scented dove flew to close to me from her perch on a Viscount's arm. A comedic sheep bleeted in my ear. A round of gazelles, a stampede of stallions, a flock of peacocks surrounded me and pulled away.

The music magically enchanted from simplicity to sultriness with an allegro moderato.

Crashing like waves to shore, the sounds threw a mermaid spell about me, and him.

Finally.

Though masked, I recognized Edouard readily. His carriage flawless, his sphynx eyes piercing mine, and his undimmed hair shockingly, beautifully disheveled.

I observed the wealth of ruffles enveloping his throat move with the strain of breathing and swallowing, when he came closer from the far side of the narrow room, never losing sight of me as I slowly, tantalizingly, removed the gold-shot, black lace wrap from my shoulders, folding down the high, sheer, jet collar from its magnificent plume behind my neck.

Revealed, I handed the stole to the waiting hands of the valet still standing in his place, at the left of my shoulder.


Offering me an heirloom flute of champagne, he was before me in a moment. Strolling over my body, he made sure to tuck his gaze to my half-bared bosom lifting out of the saffron sheath of my Regency gown. Onyx beads and diamond shards trimmed the empire dress around the high waistline, along the cap sleeves and upon the square neckline. Full, but unfitted, as befitted the times, my skirt fell to the floor with more bullion threads shooting through, ending in a paisley bejeweled pattern. Leaning in, as if saturating himself in my primal, tangy perfume, Edouard raised his gloved hand to touch the coif of my tresses piled high and decorated with yet more of the blinking emeralds dripping into my generous décolletage. The luminescent flickering of a thousand votives wouldn't outshine me tonight.

In keeping with the game of the soiree, to guess the identity of the ball-goers, Edouard never straightened, but dipped his knees to meet my eyes, "Shall I hazard a guess, Madame?"

"If you so wish to conjecture, Sir," I raised an eyebrow and dallied my hand along the fullness of his forearm.

If I had remained to true to my spirit in my facade, so had Edouard. The dalmations of his ancestry were also of his breed; the Leopold was a leopard in every sense of the word. Proud and tall, sinewy of lengthy muscle, trim but hewn from the Olympians-- easily seen were the ripples of taut tissue flourishing beneath his full dress. The shawl collar of his coat accented his steep jaw, and the oceanic blue pushed more of a flush to his cheeks, barely visible beneath the velvety, roguish rigging of his mask.

He'd never looked more devilish, more handsome, more derelict.

While I perused, for more than a minute, he jokingly took up his fob and opened the antique case, ingesting a dark chuckle. Draping one arm around my nude neck, he pulled me towards him with impropriety, he whispered against my ear so I had to muzzle the moan that wanted to forego my lips.

His breath hitched and mine stayed.

The tip of his tongue touched me, "Esmerelda Davrulia...tigresse."

Suavely, he kissed the feminine dimple of my chin and matched his mouth to mine, but held away so only our breaths tangled, "You are positively divine."

To the toes of my flat shoes, I elevated myself and chanced a brush against his clean-shaven jaw, a kitten's lick to the corner of his mouth, "And you look absolutely diabolical, Edouard Leopold."

He shivered. I pushed my plump bosom closer to his torso, reveling in the silken caress of all those ruffles and his hard chest underneath.


The pared-down orchestra began a fresh quadrille. Pulling away, he asked for my company, "Dance?"

His was a deep bow to my sweeping curtsy, and we joined the fray.


Aligned, we eyed each other up, grinning in anticipation.

As we met in the middle of the arched gathering, our palms kissed but didn't twine. Even gloved, with our fingers hardly touching, no other parts of our bodies mating, the sateen of fabric shielding contact, even then, exhilaration throbbed between us.

Once I felt his hand at my back.

Then I curved my leg outward so our thighs touched.

His muted groan almost found the nape of my neck.

Reasonably, I brushed my breast against his upper arm.

Each time we passed the other in this parsimonious dance, our flesh harmonized and strived to touch.

Through the clapping of hands at the end, he nodded and I fought for angelic countenance

Unceremoniously, he pulled my wrist and propelled me against him.

Another jerk of his head to the maestro and he gathered me forcibly to him.

I gasped and clasped his proffered hand, slumbered into the palm placed at my lower back. His heat ignited me. My hand upon his shoulder was licentious as I felt each tendon slip and rise.

Dipping with the stings and reeds, Edouard embraced me and turned us sensuously about the ballroom with a steady, languid pace that magnified the want erupting between us. On each turn, he held me closer, tighter, mimicking the upbeat of the instruments as they worked from baritone to tenor, tenuously titillating the ache and compulsion exacting its toll from our bodies.

Rakishly resplendent, Edouard's marbled orbs lapped to my mouth and back to my own leadened look.

With each turn, our flesh came closer, more risqué.

Heathenish, he bent low to the bones at the base of my neck to murmur, "You're unchaperoned?" Lifting his head, swirling all those ginger-bright locks up my throat, his eyes were alight with possibilities.

I pursed my dianthus mouth to his Adam's apple...something I'd wanted to do since I first saw him. His hips jerked into me, and I felt the heaviness of his penis sliding against my thigh, a hard, blood-pulsing piece of him. "Tsk, young man. One of my station and age has no need of keepers." Still within the rules of decorum, just, I brought his shoulders closer, his torso to mine so he could feel the peaks of my breasts.

Turbulence of composition crescendoed!

Each plane of our beings sought its mate in the other and became kin; solid to plush, tensing, living length to an unbreakable, yet pooling, ossuary.

His deep kestrel eyes looked at me from behind the velveteen mask.

Opening his mouth, he gladed over mine, and I gladdened to unlock my own as my bundled tresses almost met the floor, the small of my back held over his knee.

Shaking, he pulled me up from the dip. Shaken, I wondered, What now?

A slim, slanting smile pursed his lips and he curtly relinquished me, back to my reliquary.

Strides leonine and powered with prowess, he pounced out the doors, not deigning to look back.

Flouncing back my skirts, I glowered menacingly at an aping cockerel preening before me.

My nose in the air, my feet faster than Ares, I followed the leopard's musk.

Nádori kripta
Palatinal Crypt

Torches replaced the more expensively wrought light fixtures.

By the time I entered the concave cellar, I was spitting, cursing...furious!

Why had he turned heel so quickly?

Was he nothing more than a cad?

I was not to be treated this way.

"A pokolba vele!"

His voice was sibilant, "To hell with me? Surely that's no manner for a lady to speak."

Spinning around, I made him out in the shadows. Only the crispness of his white shirt was apparent. He'd taken off his coat. In shirtsleeves so voluminous they were like white-capped currents, his cravat tugged free, the roué was laughing at me.

Upon closer scrutiny, I caught sight of his hand moving up and down his groin. He was stroking himself.

I spat, "And that is no way for a gentleman to act!"

"You'll certainly disapprove of this then," He pressed his buttons free, overlapped his thighs with the fabric of his fall-front. Opening his cock to the cooled air where mortuary watched on, far less keen than I.

Both his hands wrapped around the beribboned-with-vein member standing against his abdomen. His shaft was wide and long, and lovely. Lascivious. The sight of it made me crazed!

"No?" his inhalations were more strident, but still he mocked me as he palmed his head, spreading the liquid all over the tall mast inside his handhold. "No words of-" he bent his head back and grunted as his fist hit the base of his cock, "disapprobation?"

Undone, I shivered and silently shook my head with the enormous, white marble statuary of Palatine Joseph watching over my shoulder.

"Envious?" he inquired as his fists continued to squire up and down his tumescence.

I couldn't respond through the stricture of my throat. The shimmering emeralds sliding between my breasts rose higher with each fought-for breath. Unable to do anything more than appease my eyes with the satyr-like vision before me, I licked my lips of venom and slowly stepped closer to my quarry.

The patina of bald flame flickered across his grip. Up and down, spiraling, tightening. Releasing a few times so that I might see the effect of his ministrations upon his cock, tremblingly engorged into a sensually huge muscle I needed to touch, lick, swallow.

His smirk hardened as his arousal grew.

Our nostrils flared to the musk evaporating off him.

His shirttails flapped, revealing and then secreting away the object of my desire, and I took one more footstep in his direction, my hands already reaching out, my lips already parted.

The ropey muscles in his throat moved in a dance between shadow and light in this vaulted brick room of dead air, now a sultry Sultan's lair instead of a musty tomb.

Edouard was sex and fare. Imperiously he called to me with his low voice unaided by breath, a raw and raspy thing, "Now, now, m'lady, no touching."

He would dare stop me?

I was goaded forward and it seemed he was as excited as me for when I approached, every sinew in his body bunched in a sculpture of ecstatic proportions, seized in a bronzed effigy as he came with a roar! My proximity to his orgasm allowed the spray of his ejaculate to rain over my hands with streams of hot liquid. With the drops of viscosity running between my fingers, I imagined the fountain of bloodiness I could make erupt from the still-thumping rivery vein in his throat.

Throwing off our masks, we stared at one another, both fighting for air, both covered in his release.

He did not bother to put himself back together.

Furious anew at the relaxed scoundrel who'd sadistically denied me a pleasure I'd wanted, I incredulously demanded, "You would desecrate your forbearers' bones in such a way?" But then, unable to resist, I licked my fingers free of the gelatin smoothness, quietly moaning at his taste. Wondering about his blood.

He laughed, "Tigresse, would you like to help me clean up?"

Tigresse.

I was she again, in the decades following my turning in 1598.


During the eons that crawled, I found I didn't particularly like my own breed, though admittedly some were witty. We certainly abounded in this arena, Eastern Europe with her history guided by medieval superstitions made a just theatre for us denizens of the dead. Over time, I flitted hither and thither, homing in on Budapest like a carrier pigeon, a bird of prey to its perch upon scabbarded arm. To one I could never have foreseen.

The lavish salons of the era, the opera, the luxury and art and music called to the Bohemian, the Cigány, in all of us. I was not such a mercenary that I didn't appreciate the freedom afforded by the company of my people.

I only martyred myself every few years as I thought, rapaciously, of the dam who had made me this spiteful, prurient creature.

Of course, I was always overly fond of the human race, not for their taste alone, but to remember my own motivations and feelings, to wonder anew what I might have become had I been set on a different path, one not so close to a slippery cliff of unfortunate demise.

Had I not risen, undead, would I have loved?

Decades of denial made crossroads with flagrant civilian bloodiness. I would turn to animals to banquet on, the tone of my eyes shifting from standard, startling crimson, to lavish. stunning amber.

While my mind scurried away from this place, Edouard situated himself boldly before me, reclaiming his cock to his pants, effortlessly buttoning his trousers, straightening his coat, symbolic with legions of heraldry embroidered and stitched across his chest that had slowed from his gorgeous, streaming, loud release.

Wakened from reverie, never from sleep, I followed his steps to me, magnetized by his reaching arms, his deadly roguish charms. In the catacomb, light from torches in iron sconces playing like demon's exhalations through the windsweep of his hair, pushing shadow against my richly crusted gown, following the hills of my breasts, illuming the crevasse between. Near panting by the time my skirt skimmed his thigh, winding into the abyss he'd opened, he tugged loose tendrils at my temple with one hand, caressed my opened collar and neck with his other. Pain, and pleasure. Both callous, and concerned.

Quiet with lips brushing my cheeks, he moved across my mouth.

Bolshy hands roamed my chest, seeking entry, slipping his fingers into the very low, unchaste neckline, sliding those long, feverish digits deeper until they met both my pink, tight nipples. Face full of blood working in ardor up from his chest, he groaned and pushed his resurgent erection against me. Mightily, I pulled his hair and slipped my hands down the slices of muscle right to his bottom, clasping him closer, mewling. The nips at my forehead and earlobes and bottom lip emboldened me. I rasped against him like a soft feline, all limbs and bosom and derriere and hips needful of more, more, more.

And blood.

Forcing him away so his shoulder clipped yet one more sarcophagus, I made for the entrance.

In ownership of himself he commanded, "Allj!"

I frowned...to be ordered again? I didn't want this feudal pull. But to fight it would be futile.

"Istenem!" My God! "You are real." Staking me out so I fell to a bleak corner, the mortar of this mortuary alone holding me up, Edouard closed in. Warily, as if approaching a untamable fox, he hounded me with his utterances, "You understand, Esmerelda, when I touch you like this," tentatively but not trembling, he stroked my hair from my forehead, pushed the pad of his thumb to the inured vein beneath my chin, making me arch like a cathedral's rampart into his masculinity, "Gusts of fire leap through my skin, and I can almost understand you."

Incandescence glowed like a carriage's lantern in eyes whose color could only be found in deep mines replaced the penury of spirit he'd catapulted into, this Apostolic King with every fancy granted before he even asked.

Before him, I became querulous.

Battling his forearms, slapping at his thighs and chest and back, I used sallow strength. Swallowing a glut of venom, I hissed, "You know nothing, ifjú!" In calling him young man I hoped to demean him, show him his place, before I strafed against his beautiful throat to sickeningly usurp the tide of red inside.

Wrapping me within his arms, bands of strength and bountiful humanness, cologne of kings and masculinity untold, he shushed and stilled me, hushed and excited me, against my ear, he breathed, "Not a woman of this earth. Not a maid of this domain. Not a lady of manse or mortality." Skipping those sculptured, alizarin lips across the side of my face, he licked my mouth and tongued inside, "I've watched you feed, asszonyom," milady, "I know your tastes. You decline the table's food. You beguile, you make me a fool!"

He clasped me forcibly to him, understanding I could break his hold, tear off his arms, sink my teeth into him at the rate of a supernatural serpent, and yet he held me, soothed me, besotted me further, "You want me."

Undulations of terrifying derivations placed my hips exactly against him, definitely where I wanted him. Inside me. If not running riot through my veins, then thrusting magisterially between my legs.

I writhed and pounded, ached and resounded, "You do NOT know me!"


In an act that would have found me killing a lesser man, Edouard gripped my hands and tied them with one manacling hold above my head, biting a harsh, rough, "Be still, Esmerelda."

Tossing my head to the side, I denied his kiss, his touch.

I simply wanted him too much.

What did he know?

Nubile and near lazy, I slithered, snake-like, a concubine, out of his grasp. Slowly lower. Down to the floor. Between his legs. beneath him, again. Tendons stood bluish-purple along the wrist pounding the wall above me, a dynastic road to destruction.

With the full breadth of his penis in front of me, I couldn't help myself from breathing on it to watch it jump inside its binding. Couldn't help myself from running my tongue over the straightness of it from root to canopy, because his shape and form rivaled all my imaginings of such a wealthy, weighty weapon.

His knee lunged against my shoulder, his voice foundered like charcoal, "Yes, please yes! Why are you starving me?"

Starving?

Starving him?

I was the only one famished. Famished for him!

Angered, I bowed between his legs and berthed behind him. "I do not owe you anything, Leopold."

My hands made a helpless pillow over my face, hiding my fright and denial and desire, the wrack of despotism, "You will never own me, you don't know me."

Unable to look at him again, his starving physique so filled with life, so swelled with sex and secularity, his lush bottom lip, his historic eyes, I turned heel and soared away, my speed a thing not even his Kuvoz could catch on a good day.

Against my back, as if his hands walked erogenously over me still, I heard his distant call like a lover's sotto voce simper against the shell of my ear, "Válnak! I know you. You are mine."

Gellért-hegy
Gellert Hill

They were convening at Gellért-hegy, on the Sabbath following the hunt. I knew he would be there. The greuling task of remaining apart had weakened me for the sight of him. It was a commemoration of the death of sainted Bishop Gellert who'd met his demise here, forced into a barrel and rolled down the steep hillside, during the pagan rebellion of 1046. It was rumored yet one more boszorkány witch felt Gellert's fire crackling beneath her feet when the revolt started, ending in only his death.

Now, a processional wound up the cliffs, banners raised, steeds pawing earth with their hooved treads. Troubadors marched and made merry. Time was kept with drums whose beats rang across the hillside. Chorales swarmed about my ears, deafening me. Minions lovingly strode behind their masters with no misstep over the rubble raising dust to their bowed faces.

Announcing my furious need to see Edouard, voice and music plead to the ever-near Heavens.

To the top, the battlements, they coiled like an aristocratic snake whose head would soon be chopped off by the blade of the populace.

For now, at least, Edouard's handsome pomposity was pronounced, and made me want him all the more.

He sat up upon his Lippezan. Majestically leading the parade. Lounging in the shade of the citadel, I leaned out as he passed just enough so the bright flash of my crimson gown captured him.

With no thought for pomp and circumstance, he held his fist in the air to halt the column.

All was silence.

I stepped back, banners dropped, and he in his Hussar's insignia catapulted from stallion to ground. With conceit, he didn't bother to make sure the reigns were caught.

Snapping like leafy branches, he delved his eyes into the fortress for me.

Behind him, the procession moved forward, eclipsing the mountain and falling off down the other side.

A wind picked up from the Danube far below the summit, tossing up my skirts, my liberated hair. While my clothing and locks fled back to him, I flew away from him.

A chase to the cave of Szent Iván-barlang.

It was no mistake I let myself be cornered in the rocky dolmen. There'd be no witnesses to this tryst, no matter how it should end.

My back to an outcropping, I turned, "What do you know?"

"Esmerelda, Esme," he approached me familiarly, spoke a diminutive form of my name as if he held rights over me...his voice was slumbrous like his eyes. Deadly, bass-deep, a singular cello choking me like the strands of taut strings under his bow, rasping me back and forth, hypnotizing me. Appetizing me. Whetting my mouth with toxin, the substance viscous and lethal like the Veninum Lupinum I'd employed to guide my beloved Teodor to death.

As if there was a rhythm in his word alone, my hips weaved closer.

If I had ever had free will, it was gone now. Given over with supplicant's hands to this knave who would be my knight.

In lieu of complying immediately, Edouard found the ground at my feet in obsequiousness I would honor.

Kissing my instep so just that touch tantalized me, he ran his hands up the scarlet ribbons of my slippers and my legs parted to the brush of his hands as he knelt, before his queen....finally.

Behind my calves, the streamers loosened and fell.

His fingers spread and followed and then his moist breath in whispery kisses.

"What do you know?" I repeated.

"That you want me, as a man, though you would not. Should not as Transylvanian Saxon," pushing up my skirts, he sucked behind my knees.

I was unshod, my footing unstable.

"You are eternal, to my rotting House of Habsburg," those firm hands teased my thighs, his palms causing me to cry out.

"You have no place in this world," Edouard delivered his statement and then his mouth to the apex of my body.

I gasped, "And neither shall you, soon."

No longer belligerent, he brought down my underdressings, slid his tongue around my lips, and wound inside me like the tightening of a harpischord's fugue.

My skirts knotted in his hands at my hips, my weight held in his clasp, my slit tasted and played with as I craved to understand -- my heart compacted to coal. My ache, an unbearable ancient longing to mate with this young man, only just in his prime. The pain so devastating it had incapacitated me from the first time I'd come across him! My itinerant spirit wanted a home.

My neck braced away from stone and I could but declare, "Ahhhh, ah ah! Edouard!"

He traveled deliciously up and around every swollen, needy shell of my nether lips until I was thrusting in time with his tongue.

Unhinged, I grabbed his paprika hair and wept as he boldly worked up me, opening my dress, unstitching my short stays from above my waist to below my tits. My breasts toppled into his hands, hands that held, fingers that explored, fingertips that knew to rasp softly and slowly across my nipples.

A kiss--from the sweet brush of first lovers, quickly congealing into the heated, base jousting of slick tongues, to teeth and lips and inner-cheeks--never ended.

His hand found the place his mouth had made more wet. Fingers turned me more liquid with their desultory strokes inside, outside, reaching as high as my thrilling nub and low as the cleft of my buttocks.

He continued to answer my question in ragged huffs, "You are alone."

How he could even think was beyond me!

"As are you," I whispered into his ear.

He took my hand and guided it inside the open pocket of his breeches, swerving against me as my fingers touched his solid, wide, heavy erection, "Your eyes change."

I struggled for composure, but ended up ripping away the fall-front of his trousers to grasp him completely in my fists, "Yours have changed now."

He pounded the boulder above my head, my hair snagged on slatey stones. Our fingers were two parts of a whole, moving suredly, with increasing frenzy.

From his combat, a rivulet of blood ran from his forearm to the inside of his elbow; unstaunched, it carried on beneath the billowy sleeve of his blouson where I knew it would forage into his oxeter.

I keened and lapped at his arm, pulled harder and faster on his cock, fondled his full sacs.

He never ceased. Jerking into me, his shaft in my hands, his fingers filling me, "You want me-"

He reared back and bellowed while I quivered and aimed his cum at my belly, "As a meal."

I suckled his neck and gyrated out of myself with my climax.

He knew.

No man in the Roman Empire had garnered my favor thus.

Yet, there were two who existed in the form of men to whom I owed everything.

After the Countess had been detained within her home and Mama had finally been dispatched to the hell she surely deserved, I was designated her last personal servant. There would be no others, she was told, so best keep me alive if she cared for a ladysmaid during her confinement.

Indeed, she kept me alive each time.

Pulling the blood from my body, careful to keep her venom away from my veins, she bled me to the precipice of death, then carefully nursed me back to health only to feed upon me again.

I never knew definitively but my estimates numbered the years of this endless cycle of near death and almost-rebirth at four.

In the times when I was too weak from her feeding, I would lie under the iron-barred skylight and count the passing of the days by the shadows marching from one side of the tower to its opposite. The repeated leechings and inadequate food took its toll. By the end, I could barely walk, and reeked of a pestilence settling in to my innards. After so many I had stood by and allowed to suffer misery at Her Grace's hand, I felt it proper that I should so linger.

Already the very face of inhumanity, she soon became completely inhuman as well. When I was unavailable for harvest, she would dine on the rats that besieged the tower, tossing their empty corpses casually against the far corner to join their decaying brethren. She was in too much of a weakened state herself to spring skyward to the skylight or even consider moving the iron bars: these were feats I knew her capable of prior to her incarceration. Occasionally, a bird would fly in the open, barred windows that provided some ventilation. Eventually she would feed upon them as well; all who fell behind the sealed door were sacrifices to her bloodhunger.

What was likely the fourth year dawned, for it was the fourth March I could recall since the Lutheran priests watched the old peasant lay the bricks and stone over our only egress. Their litanies of murmured prayers droned for hours in shaking voices. With crosses and braids of garlic held aloft, as though they might stop My Lady, we were eternally sealed within.

One evening, during a frightful storm so violent I feared again for the skylight's stability, I watched in awe as the entire structure lifted aside and a black-swathed figure bounded nimbly down the stone wall. I was snatched from my meager bedding on the hearth rug as the Countess screeched in fury. She clutched me against her like a girl's plaything, my head lolling weakly against her still-formidable body.

Willing myself to settle, as a drumming heartbeat would only spur her on, I turned to consider the advancing figure. In the dim candlelight he was little more than a towering swath of gliding black drapery, topped with a milky visage that, while dull, glittered faintly in the flickering glow of the tallow-candle. Raven's wing hair fell in gentle waves around his fine-boned face, the sensual curve of his mouth and haughty lift of his chin made me gasp a little. His was a sinister beauty, but beauty nonetheless. Unlike Her Grace, his scent was not of reeking decay, but frankincense, amber, and even more ancient spices. I think I might have swooned a little at his presence.

"Ördög! Lenni elveszett! El pokolba veled , démon!" My Lady wheezed.

Like an imbecile, I twittered quietly from the confines of her putrid body. She, the very embodiment of repugnant Asmodeus' bride, dispatching this beautiful creature to the place below was almost incomprehensible.

"Eliza, you have caused some trouble, it would seem, in my absence."

"I owe you no fealty, Vladmir."

His eyebrow cocked jauntily and he laughed as though she had just recounted a pleasant little woman's anecdote.

"Your allegiance to Stefan and me is absolute, Eliza. All of this…" he laughed again. "Well all it was until your insanity and greed sullied it, you owe to us."

"I am as powerful as you, you fiend!" she hissed, her grip on me constricting as adjunct of her compounding rage.

"Eliza…you are but a simpleton, placed conveniently in a position you have abused to the point of folly," he said as though he were recounting the morning's breakfast victuals.

"Lies!" Before I could detect his movement, he was directly in front of us, still smiling placidly despite the threat of his advance. It seemed as if he glamoured her in some way, for her body went slack in his gaze. I crumpled to the floor, my body weakened by years of service as her toy and nourishment. His eyes, the exact color of claret, cast down to me and he did the most remarkable thing.

He smiled.

There was no hint of ominousness or appraisal about it. In fact, it was gentle and kind, even. My life had known no gesture of kindness in so long, eighteen years - an entire lifetime for many - since she had butchered my beloved brother. Teodor's battered face was the last I saw look benevolently in my direction. Eighteen years since the most simple of expressions, one cast so thoughtlessly by the baker towards a good loaf, by a child at a tumbling kitten with a ball of wool.

Under his gaze, my entire being, what she had left to decay like the mountain of vermin in the corner, homed to him.

I wanted to be his. As one of them.

His eyes roamed my face as his brows lifted in surprise. "Ah…. ban jó idő , szépség."

I would wait forever!

Turning again to the Countess, his visage and the very air about him turned icy. She stepped backward, shaking.

"They will come! They will hear my screams and come!" she threatened.

"Eliza….dear," he laughed with a dismissive turn of his head. "The humans will not come. They think both of you quite mad. They will only hope you are finally ending each other so the guards and priests may leave this place."

"I…I've done nothing but what you asked of me, Vladmir. You and Stefan wanted an observer and so I was…I know things…many things." She stuttered and looked in panic at the room as if it might have her supposed secrets inscribed on the limestone walls. "You still need me, Vladmir! Take me from here, dispose of this tired old pet of mine and take me from here! I'll tell you everything: tales of the Volturi. They are in league with the Roman Church you know…let us leave here and I'll tell you the whole story while there's time to stop them!"

The being she called Vladmir shook his head slowly, appearing quite weary already of her entreaties.

"Please, tell me, maid, as you have been by the Countess' side for so long. What have you heard of these intrigues? It is no secret that servants know the best gossip in a castle."

"She is mute! She's a simpleton and a mute!" my Lady crowed, pointing a quaking finger at me as if to silence me.

For the first time since I was a little maid of thirteen, a tiny, frightened child brought to this thing by my own mother to earn my keeping and instead forced to pay for it with pieces of flesh and soul, a girl so yoked with hopelessness she could do nothing for her beloved brother but quietly abide his most grievous torture, gifting him the release from his torment only by death from stolen poison, a woman turned into chattel and concubine by her own Mistress….for the first time in an endless sea of blood and filth and heinous cruelty, I spoke.

"She took hundreds, if not thousands. Far more than she needed to feed. She desecrated their bodies, maimed them in the most horrible of ways. She killed to kill, it was her entertainment; she laughed at their pleas and then turned lustful. She used my own mother to satisfy her needs. She tortured my brother to death in the vilest manner. She feeds from me and then nurses me to strength, only to suck again when I recover." The accusations tumbled forth like a broken dam. Tonight was my own release, by one means or another, and I would not leave this human life without giving voice to my years of servitude under this bitch. I turned to her, drawing up the last vestiges of strength in my body and met her eyes, emboldened by my certain death.

"She drained them. She bathed in their blood." I concluded with a voice ringing clear and true over nature's storming din outside. Narrowing my eyes at her, I imagined casting my invisible fetters back at her. I was hers no more.

The Countess' face contorted in fury and she made to come for me but was stopped by an obstacle: Vladmir stepped in her path, clucking his tongue as he might at an errant child.

"Eliza…you have put us all at risk. Even the Volturi know of you and think you quite mad. 'An abomination among abominations,' I believe Aro pronounced you. You should be grateful, they are deliberating sending a small army for you…and I promise Aro is planning to visit some of your more spectacular horrors on you."

"They will listen to me! Someone will listen to me and not this…peasant." She spat, thrusting a shaking hand, turned claw-like, down and wrenching me to her by my scalp. Even my hair was weakened: I tumbled again, unable to catch my descent before I struck my head on the limestone floor, now missing a great chunk of my once-beautiful amber curls. The room swam in front of my eyes before I collapsed, exhausted, against the cool stones.

I was unable to raise my head to relish My Lady's end but I heard enough: Her screams turned frenzied as she repeated her stories and spun new ones while Vladmir prowled after her stealthily. She accused and cursed and taunted, her presence splintering into shards of madness before us. Then, a heavy thud and an ululation eclipsed even the raging weather outside the tower, chilling me to my battered spine. I stiffened as best I could, preparing for her to return and exact my punishment.

She did not come.

I lifted my head wearily from the rug, blinking in confusion. Vladmir's long cloak swirled in front of me and I heard the unused hearth burst to life. I was collected against a frigid body and swathed in black cloth, my head tipping back as I fell faint at the rapid movements. Deliverance from the nightmare was at hand.

"Sweet Esme…" Vladmir murmured against my throat. "You will be resplendent."

As the bite came, I was afforded one last and redemptive human vision: The Countess Bathory's head, her face frozen in imperious anger, was impaled on the iron hearthgrate, swathed in flames.

Charred release razed my tender veins.

Rebirth in the arms of Vladmir, my Sire.

Now, with my ecstatic tangy release under Edouard's flicking fingers, his pursed and kissing mouth, his daubs against my nipples and between my legs, a purr bubbled from deep within that place I'd known, that one home made of Vladimir and Stefan.

Home.

Edouard.

He would belong to me.

Relaxing down to the ground, my enlivened eyes trolled over his prestigious stance. We'd crashed, crossed, and combated one another.

Would we let go our equal condescension? Would we love?

Putting my gown back to rights, I stood and stayed my prince with a shove to his chest, "No. Not yet. You're not ready."

"Do I know you, Esmerelda?" his eyes questioned me, their dark sylvan greenery wondering.

I merely nodded. "Come to me, tomorrow, at your Nyári ház."

One moment longer in his seductive presence and I would have him too quickly, too hard. His blood would leave his body in a vibrant fountain beneath my lips, an ocean inside my throat.

He'd never recover.

I couldn't even look back, but I heard his plea to his god, and his pledge to me.


Budai Vár, Nyári ház
Buda Castle, Summerhouse

Edouard arrived alone, as promised, just before sunset. I watched from the cover of the surrounding beech woods of Sváb-Hill, feasting on the sight of him astride his white Lippexan stallion: the twin plumes of their breath freezing in the January air, the shift of his thighs against his snow-colored breeches as he swung from the saddle. His russet hair and cerulean great coat and caplet were all that colored the tundran landscape I'd lured him to. All else was gray death under a glittering moonlight skin, much as I was – and am. Fixed about one regal shoulder was the finished lynx pelt I offered him just days before. My chin rose with pride in the knowledge he wanted it displayed upon his person as a smile played at my lips. I was thrilled with the sight of this man adorned in my primitive tribute.

I took a moment to let the rush of pleasure pass. This night I would require my sharpest faculties and petty adoration would be of no assistance.

After a time, as the sky turned flaming vermillion, I made my own way to the door, soundlessly crossing the cold, crunching threshold. He stood at the barren hearth, tracing the ornate limestone surround under its icy confines.

He felt the surge of my presence and resignedly pronounced, "Ma cousineAntoinette summered with us once when I was a child. This summerhouse was built for her amusement."

The gloriette was coated in the heavy dressage of winter's rime, each ornate detail etched in flakes of frost. Above us, the rococo ceiling and grand chandelier trickled heavy with inverted frostbitten obelisks. Every pane of glass was shot with cross-hatched ice, obscuring the bitter landscape outside.

"You came," he said, amid his own reverie, monotone and still intent on the carved stone.

"As I said I would, Edouard." Once again, I refused to stand on ceremony, and why should I? He was my familiar, my mate, my chosen one.

He inhaled and turned to me, snapping his black booted heels with military precision. His eyes were ablaze with jade fire sparkling from the princely cameo of his handsome face, both youthful and cynical.

"And you persist with your insolence, madam."

I waved his imperious demand away with a slight sweep of my hand, laughing softly at his peacock-like posturing. "I've said this to you before, arrogant boy. I am older than your title; I have no use for formalities." I leveled a harder, intentioned gaze toward him and the mirth in my voice ebbed, "We meet as man and woman."

Our eyes met in challenge. Suddenly his stance softened and he cast his look downward.

"Yes, I suppose we do." His response was quiet, thoughtful. The recurring eruptions of his arrogance were so easy to dispel now that I knew the truth of him. Most likely he knew the truth of me as well.

How could he not, having viewed me at my most primal while feeding from the lynx?

"I appreciate you coming such a distance from the city," his discomfort was apparent when divested of his privileged Grand Duke persona. Just a boy who'd been indulged too much, experienced things most men lacked even the ability to dream of. "I didn't hear a sled…"

"No." I replied, offhandedly. Apparently there were niceties to address before I would be attended to. "I walked."

"Such a long way," he said, his eyes fixed on me again as he moved in an impressive human attempt at stealth to the delicately arched doorway.

"The distance is of no concern." I shrugged as I countered his move.

"But the cold..." he challenged, still attempting to construct a tidy answer to his questions when the simplest of explanations had already been given him the day of the hunt.

"Now it is cold, soon it will be warm. These trifles do not trouble me."

We stood for a time, silently appraising each other. As the sun slipped through the hoary-etched windows, the glacial surfaces of the summerhouse glittered in intense golden light. Edouard's heavy brows lifted, his mouth gaped. "You…" he stammered, unable to put words to what he saw before him as his final logical arguments fell aside.

"Yes, Edouard?" I slipped my cloak from my shoulders, allowing the blaze of orange red shafts from dying sunlight to turn me a-glimmering fire.

"Not of this Earth…"

"No. Very much of this Earth. Closer to it, I should think, than even your kind."

"My kind? What…Esme?"

"Destruction and rebirth." I stepped towards him, cast my bonnet aside and let my hair tumble free. "Your destruction is almost complete, Edouard. Would you be born again as man? As a mate?"

"I…" Stiffening his spine with practiced detachment, he attempted to assume his usual haughty countenance. "Certainly…I am expected… an appropriate marriage…" Twirling fog betrayed his rapid breaths, fear spurred Edouard but he was too far under my thrall to make a play for sanctuary.

As if that were even possible now. The black queen was in play: Endgame was at hand.

Lifting my arms with a practiced libidinal grace intended to mesmerize, I found the laces of my dress and pulled gently at them. Layers of spring pea organdy fluttered away from my body, the diaphanous silk rustling in collapse as it puddled at my olive, velvet slippers. I'd no chemise underneath, no small clothes. My Baltic ocher eyes, inviting yet still calculating, lifted to his own orbs, which today were the color of oak-ringed moss. A woman's sigh escaped my satiny lips, contrasting the timid little peeps of court ingénues usually bustling about him. His sharp brows and the husky report of his own exhalation betrayed him and he quickly closed the breach between us with his feline advance.

He lifted me easily and within a few of his powerful strides, he propelled me into the thin wall, shaking innumerable shards of ice free from the crystal sconces and delicate millwork that lined the summerhouse's ruined walls. With one last attempt to assert his power, he ground his mouth against mine, shoving his tongue roughly past my razor-edged teeth to plunge against mine. The tyrannical assault brought more than his fevered kiss: his tongue was slightly injured and bled, just enough to entice. I drew against it delicately, arching my back as I pulled him roughly against me. His arms tightened about my waist, even as his body tensed and attempted to pull away from me.

His taste was incomparable. My thirst burned, warring with my plan to mate with Edouard in body and blood. I summoned my resolve to change him, battling the insistences from the truly damned creature I was to drain him completely without delay. I tossed him from me and he crashed into the ice-flocked harpsichord, driving it hard against the wall with his progression. The entire structure seemed to sway from the collision. Above us, the weakened plaster groaned and split in crazed furrows, sending huge pieces of the ceiling crashing to the floor. Above our heads, the massive chandelier lurched precariously, weighted under thousands of stalactites; its affixed point nothing more than rotting lathe under the neglected decoration.

Edouard noted none of it; possibly the sounds of destruction I heard so clearly were in truth no more than whispers and moans. His eyes had hardened the dull green of agate, and his jaw worked angrily as he sneered at me.

Unchecked fury radiated from him as he stepped towards me, his mouth beginning to form words of outrage. All of this – the rain of plaster, the groans of the threatening glass overhead, even my chosen-one's livid approach – happened in mere seconds. Just as the ice-ensconced chandelier began its descent to the marble floor, he stepped into its path. I hurled him aside seconds before the exquisite crystal crashed to the marble floor. My skin repelled the shards of glass easily, with any luck he had turned his back to the calamity for his body covered in tiny lacerations would have me undone.

He turned, visibly shaken, and I sighed heavily in relief. No blood, save a tiny rivulet from his mouth from his own incensed kissing.

I strode to him purposefully, prepared to slap him like a preening girl if I must to undo the shock from the near catastrophe. He looked to me, swallowing heavily, and exhaled.

"Esme. You've saved my life, az ém kicsi kedves." He said in a hush, endearing me in words for the first time. His little one.

I steeled myself against his suddenly gentle affection and dismissed the sweet, boyish, open smile on his handsome face. His youth, true naiveté, and arrogant exuberance could not sway me. I would not falter due to sentiment.

Edouard's hand reached for one of my breasts, his long finger brushing softly at a mauve nipple.

"So cold…" he murmured, marveling and taking another step towards me.

"And soon you shall be quite warm, az en férj szerető. There will be no negotiations by your father's ministers, no approval needed from Vienna or Rome. I have no fealty to them. I've chosen. Az én válogatott egy, you Edouard, are mine; you are my chosen one."

He blinked heavily, almost losing consciousness, it seemed, under the tripled forces of my saving him, the glow of my body before him, and my dismissal of the human expectations he'd been bound to by birth.

"Now, az én férj szerető. My husband-lover, it is time."

Even as his arms circled about me, cupping my round bottom with one hand and catching my hair with the other, he struggled intellectually with his body's need. His scent drew me further into our evening's revelry, my mouth pooling heavily with the same venom that slicked the valley between my legs. With a short snap of my head, the first wound opened on the plush velveteen of his lower lip and I pulled delicately at the weeping red nectar, steeling myself for what lie ahead even as hunger set my need raging.

"Now, taste me, a babája. Kneel before your woman," I commanded.

Edouard fell before me – finally – and seized me crudely, rubbing his face across my thighs and the cinnamon hair between them, leaving the mark of his blood on my pale thighs as testament to his embrace. A ragged sigh passed his lips as he inhaled the musk of his ruin; his breath suspended in the frigid air and rose dense as the mist from the Danube. He kissed me there like he would embrace my lips, his tongue darting and sliding inside as he leant back with me balanced atop his mouth. I steadied myself lightly against his broad shoulders and allowed myself a momentary loss of control as I descended into the sensation of his tongue pleasuring me.

"Enough," I called out, even as I shuddered against his nibbling mouth. It was impossible to give over to him, governance was essential if I were to take up such an enterprise as what laid before me. The scent of his blood, now thrumming with a thousand starling's wings, drew me on. Struggling for control, I pushed against his shoulders, shoving him away as my body stiffened in protest.

"Breeches, Edouard. Now."

Slowly, he stood as commanded, never turning his verdant gaze from me, and released the buttons at the waist of his finely tailored trousers, taunting me with his measured movements.

I pressed against his arms none too gentlyin my waking frenzy. He collapsed awkwardly on the harpsichord's keys, sending up plumes of dislodged crystallized snowflakes with the snapping strings and discordant sounds. Instantly I was before him, on the floor, obsequious, taking his rigid length in my mouth. Edouard moaned savagely as I guided him between my poisonous glistening teeth again and again, pausing only to twirl about the flushed and swollen head with my arctic tongue. Sagging against the ruined instrument, he gave over finally to my designs for him with throaty gasps and groans. I cupped the supple flesh around his pulsing cock, kneading, pulling, coaxing him to the apex of his release. The ropey muscles of his thighs tensed as he struggled to stay upright and in command.

Just under the tawny whorls of rasping hair that wreathed his loins, a vein beckoned to me, its pulse thrumming hard against the delicate wall of his pitching and rolling abdomen. With a flick of my wrist I pierced him and lowered my mouth to the bloom of thick winey liquid as I worked him with my other hand. His blood filled my mouth and I nearly swooned against his slim hips…so delicious, so salty! Liquid shot from the gaping wound down my throat in a precise imitation of the way I imagined his seed would follow. I lapped at the hot fluid, then shook my head in delirium remembering the task at hand. Exerting every bit of will I could claim, I drove my venom inside him, prodding with my tongue again and again. As I filled him with my own juices, I wound my hand around his stones, pulling gently.

He grunted with pleasure at my hard use of his body, his arousal building as the pain he endured from my attentions increased. "Esme…please, don't toy with me any longer. I need to be inside you, Saját királyné."

I guided him to the floor while his entire body quivered with effort of his wanted to climax inside me as I stole the last vestiges of his human life. Lowering myself astride him, I belted backwards at the feel of him sliding smoothly into my glossy cavern, his hips hitching up to propel that soldering cock deeper within.


His titles would be shredded one ruined noble family at a time. His arrogance justly deserved, I soothed dangerously, my hips rotating around his rigid length, widening my thighs and rubbing up and down his chest with the bared ampleness of my breasts. Betwixt moans and sighs that ran as deep as his shaft inside of me, my kiss was of passion, witchery, and immortality, "I will make you a King, my lord, my Edouard."

Tortured by lust, the beautiful man writhed beneath me, striving with more and more force into the wet wonder between my legs. He threaded in and out, his full cock arresting me with each lunge, inciting me with every exit. My vision clouded with hungers of both body and bloody feasting.

Edouard thrashed in orgasm and death.

Our cries echoed against the ruined walls of our frozen bridal chamber. He pulsed searing streams into me and I fell against his chest, weak with my own erupting climax. Weak. Guided by his scent, I found the vital vein in his neck and plunged against it, drinking greedily, offering my own venom in exchange for his sweet liquid. An agonized scream broke free from his heaving chest and he pressed me against him violently, his body bucking against me as the calamitous venom coursed through him to reignite the fire of his transfiguration.

Edouard stilled then, his fevered brow nestling into the curve of my neck. I murmured soothing sounds against the burnished strands of his hair, clutching his soon-to-be ravaged body to mine.

"Love, husband, consort…" I whispered against his simmering skin, scattering little kisses towards his forehead glistening with perspiration.

"Ön nem 'RE tigresse." He replied, delirious and hoarse with the malady I was causing him. "Ön nem egy állat. Ön 'RE egy asszony. Én nő. Saját királyné! "

"You are no tigresse."

"You are not an animal."

"You're a woman."

"My woman."

"My Queen."

~Fin~

Damn! That feels good!

~Were you surprised, scandalized, titillated, horrified? Review?~

Thanks to Vanessarae and blondie aka robin!

My total love, all the time (like right down to the wee wee hours of the morning, when laughter turns to howls and tears and total silliness…) to winterstale. Woman you are so much the shit! I love and respect you.