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[Monster Blood Tattoo] the traveling life, after, my...other conquests

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Sep. 4th, 2006 | 12:43 am
posted by: spacetart in seldom_end

Author: spacetart
Fandom: Monster Blood Tattoo
Characters: Europe, Licurius, Europe/Licuirus in 2 of them.
Rating: All PG
Disclaimer: Monster Blood Tattoo belongs to DM Cornish
Note: These drabbles are all unrelated to each other.

Monster Blood Tattoo is by D.M. Cornish. It is set in a land called the Half-Continent, where monsters and humans live together. Since they don't live together peacefully, some humans have become monster hunters. Within this group, there is a sub-group called lahzars. They are humans modified with surgery to have special powers which allow them to more effectively fight monsters. Wits can manipulate things with their minds. Fulgars can produce and channel electricity through their bodies. Leers have their eyeballs soaked in special liquids so that their sight becomes very keen. They sometimes wear sthenicons, boxes with exotic organs inside, to enhance their other senses too. These are the three types we've met so far, but I suspect there are other types, as well. Sedorner is a derogatory term for a monster sympathizer. Threwdish describes the feeling one gets in creepy places.

Europe is a lahzar that the main character meets in his travels, and Licurius is her factotum-driver-servant.

As discreetly as she could, Europe opened her purse and counted her money. Well. After paying for her stay in advance, and the boarding for her carriage and horse, and keeping the amount out for her necessaries, she had exactly...two carlins.

That narrowed her choices for dinner quite considerably.

She had just placed her order with the sallow-faced serving maid, when a man who had been sitting at a nearby table separated himself from his group and sat down at hers. He was wearing a very plain sthenicon, the box lashed to his face by worn leather straps.

"Excuse me!" she said, as hard as she could.

"~wheeze~," he replied, ignoring her completely. "Hard to make a ~wheeze~ living killing monsters if you can't find them, eh?"

"I suppose so," she allowed. "Unless you're offering to pay for my meal, which I would have to refuse, please leave."

He leaned back and knocked on the solid wood of his sthenicon. "I was actually looking for ~wheeze~ you to pay me. As your factotum."

"You're a leer, then?" As if she hadn't guessed. "How good are you? I am an excellent fulgar. I intend to be the best."

He laughed and it sounded as if he was having some sort of fit. "I haven't taken this box off since I first put it ~wheeze~ on. I've got sinister organs growing up in my ~wheeze~ eyes and I love it. All these little sedorner bastards around here think I'm some sort of ~wheeze~ freak to let them do it when I can take off the thing, but I wanted it this way."

Here then, finally, was someone who could understand how she'd felt when she'd woken up from the surgery. She'd even wanted to see the organs they were going to put into her. She'd never regretted it, not even when the money got tight and she had to turn back to the life of a professional mistress.

"You and me, making it large all over the land?" She leaned a bit closer, giving him a hint of cleavage. "Is that how I understand it?"

Another wheezing fit, and then agreement.

"Then pay for my dinner tonight, and I shall expect you at seven sharp tomorrow morning." She closed her purse with a snap. "Do you have a name, or shall I just call you Box-Face?"

There had been a baby.

That in itself wasn't bad. Having her darling Licurius' baby? How wonderful!

But there had been a baby after.

The Sinister surgeons had assured her that such a thing was impossible, and she'd stopped taking precautions accordingly. There were myriad ways a young lady of quality such as herself could avoid getting into trouble--Naimes Lettres, sponges soaked in vinegar, et al. But she'd taken the opportunity to be just that much closer to her darling, and...

There had been a baby. A baby in name only.

It had pushed its disgusting way out of her in only two months, and it had hurt, it had disfigured Licurius horribly--its own father!--and she had had to kill it.

Since then, Licurius simply had not been the same. Neither, she supposed, had she.

"Oh..." Europa sniffed and shivered at the scent. "If this isn't the most threwdish place..."

She smiled down into Licurius' handsome face as he helped her down from the carriage. The long train of her wine pink dress rustled as it settled around her feet, stirring up dust.

"Whyever would Lord Marcus send you all the way out here?" Licurius looked around as well, taking in the layout. It almost looked normal. But there was something, an imperfection to the place, as if someone had drawn a slightly dirty window down over the view.

She gave a gentle shrug of her bare white shoulders, "It is quite a long way from his father's disapproving eyes."

"Well, you had it right in one, sweetheart. Terribly threwdish. Here." He handed her her long scarlet coat. It was finely made, a present from Lord Marcus. Its collar was edged in rich brown fur.

She fished a letter from the coat's pocket and unfolded it, skimming over the much puzzled at words until she found what she was looking for. "Lord Marcus wants me to meet him at some inn." She brightened. "Perhaps we're eloping!"

"Finally, then. I'd begun to wonder if you were going to fail with him." He shut the carriage door and threw a coin to the man who had come to meet them. "Take good care of her, eh?"

She waited until the man had gone before she replied. "Darling, do I ever fail?" She snapped open her fan and used it to shade her eyes against the haze. "Well, Marcus' letter said that we should only have to walk down the promenade, that it would right on the main road. Shall we?" She looped her arm through his and they made their way down the street.

Sinister seemed to be quite deserted. Understandable, when there were only two reasons to be in town: the lahzar surgeries and illicit liasions. The former had intrigued her since childhood, and the latter had been her adult occupation, so she would deal with the horrible, threwdish atmosphere. She had Licurius with her, after all, and he was a crack shot. Besides, if the Duke-in-waiting was finally going to defy his father and marry her, there was nowhere else she wanted to be more.

There were a handful of stores on the main way, advertising their services to the various types of lahzars. There were potion stores, stores that sold special psychic equipment for wits, fuses for fulgars, that sort of thing. One window in particular drew her attention and she drew Licurius gently over to it.

"Oh, isn't this quaint?" She pointed at a richly colored mahogany box, which had several apertures and straps. "Do you know what it is, darling?"

He shook his head.

"It's a sthenicon. A rather fancy one, actually. There's all sort of exotic organs inside it that help leers hear and smell things better. There were always leers staying at Mama's inn when I was little."

"Were you very frightened of them? I've heard they have horrible-looking eyes."

She shook her head. "No, not at all. All types of lahzars came through the inn, since it was so close to rich monster territory. The leers were pussycats compared to the wits." She looked at the door next to the shop, and peered at the ornate writing on the plaque. "This is it, this is the inn Marcus mentioned. He said that it was very discreet."

Licurius opened the door for her and they entered the inn. It certainly must have been top-secret, because it was like no inn either of them had ever seen before. Instead of having the usual loud room of customers jostling for food at long tables, there was only a small room at the front, with a window in one wall, with what looked like a drawer below it.

Puzzled, Europa walked over to the window, sliding her arm out from Licurius'. Almost immediately, a man appeared on the other side. He wore his steel grey hair slicked back from his face, and the stiff collared shirt he wore was slightly yellowed.

"New clients?" he said severely.

"Yes. Arrangements should have been provided for by Lord Marcus du Naimes."

He seemed to be shuffling papers. "Yes, yes, a Lady Europa with baggage and valet."

"Someone took the carriage already," Licurius piped up.

The man waved dismissively. "Yes, yes, it's in the stables. I take it that's where you'll be spending the night, too, yes? No room was arranged for 'valet' Also, Lord du Naimes has not arrived yet. He sent word that he will be here either tonight, late, or tomorrow morning."

"Right now, my valet will be helping me with my luggage upstairs." She held up the small case she was carrying, and then handed it to Licurius. "Are you going to show me to my room? Or at least give me the key and point me on my way?"

"Key," he said shortly. There was a clink and something landed in the drawer beneath the window, which slid open through some hidden mechanism. Licurius took the key and the drawer slid shut. "That way." The man behind the window pointed at a red door across the room and then disappeared again.

"Awful!" Europa murmured.

Behind the red door was a small flight of stairs, that brought them to a long hall with a number of doors on each side. The walls were done in an odd combination of wood and burnished metal. Each door was had a small purple plaque with a number on it. They walked down the hall until they found the door that matched the number on the key the man had provided.

When they found it and Europa had set her case down just inside the door, Licurius took her hand in his and kissed it, first making sure they were alone. "I guess it's off to the stables for me. If Lord Marcus doesn't show up tonight, signal to me the usual way and I'll be up to join you."

"Fool," she said affectionately, "you don't even know if there's a back way into this room."

"I'll find a way," he promised. With a wave, he made his way back down the hall to the stairs.

She watched him go, then turned to go into her room, closing the door behind her. Odd. It was rather bare compared to the accommodations that Marcus usually procured for her. A single bed stood in the middle of the room, with a simple canopy on top of it. It didn't even appear to have a mattress on it. The lamps along the walls were turned up very high. She could hear the gas hissing in them.

Marcus was certainly going to hear about this.

After the wedding papers were signed.

There was a table, at the very least, and she set her case on it. She took her cosmetics out of the case and looked around for a mirror, or something that would serve. As she cast about for it, there was a definite sound of a latch being opened from somewhere in the room.

She turned quickly, and frowned when she noticed that the door on the other side of the room was now ajar. Odd again. When the door opened and two men who looked very much like the man downstairs came through it, wearing black aprons, it went beyond odd. She reached into the folds of her dress for the weapon she kept there. She was also a crack shot.

There was a creak of a floor board behind her and she turned, half expecting to see another intruder behind her. There was no one there, but the men took advantage of her distraction to throw a handful of powder at her. A sleeping potion! Her eyes rolled up in her head, and the last thing she felt was spindly fingers catching her by the shoulders.

When she woke, her entire body ached. Her inner sense of time immediately told her that it was much, much later then when she'd been knocked out. She felt over-full, and her skin felt oddly stretched. Looking down, there were horrible lines of black stitches criss-crossing her chest. They met and went down to just above her navel. Like a corpse after the morgue was done with it.

"Awake, finally?"

She turned her head slightly, wincing at the pain, and saw the man from the lobby sitting by her bed. He had a mug in his hand which was giving off puffs of steam. Before she could convince her vocal cords to even begin making the necessary vibrations to swear at him, he was holding the mug to her lips and encouraging her to drink it with strokes along her throat.

"We'll give you the recipe before you leave," he said as he settled back into the chair. "You're all paid up, so as soon as you're well enough..."

"What," she managed to hiss. The treacle, while disgusting, had made her throat feel better, and her body too, in some way she didn't understand quite yet. "Why."

"There was a letter left for you." He reached to somewhere she couldn't see and his hand came back into her line of sight holding a letter. "How to...ah." He opened the letter and set it on her chest, angling it so she could see it. The handwriting was instantly recognizable as Marcus's.

"Get out~" she spit at the man.

He seemed startled. "Most irregular, this reaction. The anesthetic is still wearing off, maybe?"

"Out!" she screamed, though it was low and horse. He stood up quickly, upsetting the chair, and headed for the door. "Wait--bastard, where...where is he?" He didn't answer her, just slipped out the door with a smile on his lips.

Left alone, she quickly read the letter from Marcus.


By now, the whole thing is over with. A few days ago, Father came to me with incontrovertible proof of your infidelity. I'd not wished to believe him--in fact, I'd shrugged off less concrete proof he'd offered me in the past.

I confess, it quite undid me. That is an understatement, of course. I shall be dead by the time you read this. I loved you so. How could you do this to me? After all the times I defended you to my father?

I remember you speaking so animatedly about the lahzars you saw when you were a child. It seemed a fitting fate that you should join their ranks. I arranged for the best surgeons Sinister had to offer, for I admit that I still value you in this foolish heart. I chose to have you made a fulgar, for you are already too much of a enchantress to safely possess the mind traps of a wit.

They worked on me, for I have given you the prize you always wanted. The papers have been signed and are incontestable. You are my wife. Nay, my widow. Why not?

You've only to wait for my father to die, and as he is quite a bit older than I, and I am--was--quite a bit older than you, it shall not be too long. I hope you enjoy your life as Duchess, though perhaps it will not be quite the same now


Marcus du Naimes, Duke-in-waiting of Naimes

Postscript: I did not arrange for quite the same conditions for your darling "valet". I do not know how his treatment shall find him in the end.

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