The night’s fog drowned the streets of Calla. It obscured everything from the cobblestones to the ramshackle buildings, enveloping the world in a tireless cascade. A few streets over, a mournful song played from a fiddle. It was subdued as if the sharpness dulled while drifting through the heavy air. The lament was interrupted by the racket of a man tripping and then by the barking of a dog. Ventrasn hit the ground in a heap and the clatter of a metal-tipped scabbard rang out. Plumes of the relentless fog swirled away from his silhouette as he fell, exposing dark, wet cobblestones and a pallid white hand. The man’s candle extinguished in the tumble, the orange glow dissipating into darkness.
The fiddle’s song slowed, the notes turning slightly strained. After a few moments, the orange warmth returned to the fog, and Ventrasn, stood. He returned the candle to the lantern and light cast about him. A river of blood trickled down his arm and he quickly checked for a cut where none existed. A tension rippled through Ventrasn’s shoulders, swelling his oiled leather coat. His hand flashed to a well-placed pocket, withdrawing several jagged quills. With a flick of his wrist, the quills spread, exposing parchment between. He began waving the quills through the fog, and slowly it parted. A body lay prostrate, a strange translucent milky quality to the skin. Tumbles of raven hair crossed her face and lay in the gathered puddles between cobblestones. Her ice-blue eyes were wide and frozen in terror. Her gaze was cast towards her neck, which was a ruined mess of blood and punctured flesh.
A sharp, low note rolled through the street – the fiddler’s tune shifting from song to dirge. It resonated with rage and sorrow. Ventrasn snuffed the candle with his fingertips and set it next to the corpse before darting towards the darkness of a doorway as the long, humming sounds grew closer. He tried to draw his blade slowly, but an odd scratching sound still filled the darkness around him – it sounded like teeth chewing on tin. He held his breath for a moment, which only made him aware of how fast his heart beat and that the air was filled with a coppery taste.
The closer the fiddle crept, the more discernible the footsteps became. The hard clack of tough soles beat a slow staccato until finally another figure emerged onto the street. The silhouette wore a wide-brimmed hat that far outstretched its shoulders. The figure ended the final note of the dirge at the exact moment it arrived to stand next to the corpse.
“You can come out.” The figure’s voice was weary and worn like a broom with bent bristles.
Ventrasn froze, an icy tingling feeling streaked under his skin. His breath caught and he could hear the leather of his glove creaking with the tightening of his grip on his sword, Jurlmund.
The figure turned towards the darkened doorway and tilted its head to the side.
“Poor man. Why do you torment yourself so? Please, come out.”
Ventrasn barely stopped himself from shaking his head no.
“I promise I will give warning if I decide to kill you. You’ve nothing to fear at this moment.”
Ventrasn took a step forward, half emerging from the darkness. His sword was low and pointed upwards as if he was readying for a cavalry’s charge.
“You’ve done it again, Rommund.” Ventrasn’s voice was papery and faint.
The figure sighed deeply and bowed his head.
“I have. I simply cannot withstand the temptation forever.” Rommund’s voice reminded Ventrasn of the lamenting fiddle music.
“This has to stop. You’ve taken too much from too many.”
“Have you learned nothing, son of Horld? Your kind cannot kill me. Nothing can kill me!”
Ventrasn took a step closer and Rommund matched his stride. His face caught the faint moonlight, exposing a crooked, pointed nose, and pale eyes. A spot of blood tarnished a perfectly porcelain face.
“Until recently, you were right.”
Ventrasn twisted the angle of his sword. Rommund’s eyes widened. It was thicker than most swords, its edge was jagged with something other than metal.
“They are.” Ventrasn’s voice had grown stronger, and tinged with venom.
“I’ve spent these past years cleaning up after you Rommund. Wherever you’ve gone, you’ve left countless tainted souls. I’ve rid the world of your doings, and kept every pair of fangs along the way. Now,” Ventrasn casually flicked the blade, “Now I have the strength of your kind on my blade.”
A streak of black shot towards Ventrasn as the figure flung his hat. He was able to swipe the hat aside, and instinct alone brought the blade down, a line of embedded fangs finding sustenance in the flesh of its own kind.