Midnight, the witching hour, when the things that lurk in the shadows emerge to indulge in their noctambulous maleficia. Somewhere in the necropolis of an ancient city, the lock on a bronze mausoleum door clicks counterclockwise allowing it to be pushed ajar. Ere long, spindling spider-leg fingers loom from the caliginous crypt to grip the jamb for leverage. Nigrescent rays splay the night as a pair of jetty eyes proceed to suck the light from wherever their cimmerian gaze settle, like an inverted lantern. The bony brow from which they peer is framed by a shock of thin but voluminous black hair; the remaining features are soon unveiled from the cover of shadow by fulgent moonbeams. Were it not for her adumbral mien and disproportionately large rictus she might almost seem beautiful.
In preternatural time, where things move quickly in slow motion, like a film reel with missing frames, she emerges entirely from behind the brazen door and into the moon-swathed night. She is not a resident of this particular bone-yard; the crypt from which she crawled is just one in a series of multifarious portals to our world from the chthonian wastelands from which she hails. Neither live nor dead, she dwells in the realm between worlds, between Gaia and Gehenna. Every night she selects a burrow leading up to a random cemetery from which she can rise and prey on the unfortunate souls who cross her path.
With the slotted nub that passes for her nose, she sniffs the air. Like a bloodhound, she catches a scent and follows it–her long black mane billowing in the rising wind, strips of cerecloth trailing behind her as she skirrs twixt the gravestones to reach her quarry before they are dispersed by the impending rain. She needn’t fret, however, for her supernatural speed and agility enable her to track them down in no time. From a vantage point behind them, she surveys the layout and plans her attack.
Seated on benches under a thatched gate are three adolescent males with their bangs in their eyes and down on their thin vermillion lips. From their pasty faces, long hair and unshaven upper lips she believes them to be Britons of some stripe or another, although she finds their attire quite unusual. They wear colored tunics emblazoned with diabolical designs in lurid colors. Are they acolytes to some infernal host? She is wary of incurring the wrath of the Archfiend or one of His fallen retinue. As long as she stays out of their way they leave her to her schemes outside the purview of the realm beyond the Seven Gates. Then again, none of these whelps seem worthy enough to warrant the considerations of such high-ranking figures of the Lowest Dominion.
Upon a bier, an unaesthetic music box blares a cacophonous row while the smaller boys snigger and struggle to sit upright as they pass around a bottle between them, half filled with a fizzy roseate libation. The alpha of the lot is a tall bruiser with dark heavy-lidded eyes on an oval face, a snub nose which will probably one day make a marvelous gin blossom–assuming he lives long enough for his routine elixir to work it’s magic on his nasal capillaries–stringy dark hair, a well-proportioned physique and thick stubby fingers between which he pinches a burning roll of papyrus stuffed with a noxious weed which causes Azraelle to grimace when the downdraft blows it in her face. He broodingly stares out into the empty space before him as he nurses a bottle of Dutch Courage.
He wears a jacket made from tanned hides and dyed black, somewhat faded from daily wear, which is covered by a kirtle fashioned from some blueish textile. His trousers also are made from this blue material as are the trousers of one of the other two youths. He is shod with black laced boots and upon his wrists he bears bands of leather with small spikes–too dull and small to be of any real use in combat; even so, he still might be a warrior or guard of some sort with his stature and bearing. If so, then he is a fool to venture out at night with two fragile youths, no weapons, and drunk to boot. This will be almost too easy for her. Just the same, Azraelle likes his hardy look and thinks he might last for a considerable time under her strenuous attentions. She shall spare him during this strike so she might enjoy him at her leisure.
A towheaded stripling sits across from the bruiser wearing a jacket of the blue material and covered in embroidered badges bearing legends delineated in such elaborate fonts that they are nearly indecipherable. Perhaps they are clan identifiers of some kind. On his feet are welted shoes soled with white rubber, which she took for a modern variation of the Medieval turnshoe. His drinking buddy, another slightly built lad, wears a black surcoat under which he sports the requisite execrable tunic, a pair of black trousers and on his feet a pair of small welted boots with yellow stitching. A ginger, with a mop of untamed wavy coppery locks which frame his freckled face like a ring of flames. Both he and the blond boy are so impossibly young and fair, their life breath will be a honey-sweet nectar on her parched tongue.
The ginger stands and turns towards the gravestones, stumbling in Azraelle’s direction, but does not see her. Even so, she retreats a step behind a yew tree to keep her presence a secret until she is ready to advance. Staggering over to a monumental pillar, he unbuckles his belt but struggles with his fly as he looks up to see a white face in the shadows. Frozen with fear, he relieves his bladder in his pants once he sees the dama funesto appear before him.
She offers hims an unsettling toothy smile before her jaw unhinges and drops a considerable distance from her topmost denture. Her obsidian pupils roll up into her skull, revealing opalescent eye-whites. Mesmerized by the horrific display before him, he does not see her bony fingers wrap around his head, digging their ruby-red nails into the base of his skull. Moving in an osculatory manner, she rushes into his face and begins to suck. The slight framed younker shudders spasmodically for a moment as his flesh withers and he collapses like a push puppet.
The other boys, a few yards away, unaware of their friend’s fate carry on for a moment drinking and carousing until a thunderclap accompanied by a streak of lightning reminds them of his absence. The towheaded youth turns to look for his friend, but finds an unexpected party-crasher in his stead. Her long black hair undulating wildly in the rising wind about her head like Medusa’s snakes, Azraelle’s black gaze falls upon his pale unfledged face, marking it for doom. Before he can utter a cry she descends upon him with a speed and fury he would not have expected from someone so spindly. Thrusting her talons under his chin, she hooks him like a fish, then draws him close for a baneful kiss.
The bruiser, slow to action stands up and shouts “Oi!” as he pulls a spring-loaded blade from his trouser pocket. Making short work of her second course, she turns to the failed sentinel of the group and smiling informs him, in Latin, how he will have the honor of being her guest for the evening. Frightened and foggy-headed, in faux defiance he sneers and says that he doesn’t speak dago. To which Azraelle just smiles then, in a trice, disarms him, scoops him up, throws him over her shoulder and scurries back to the burrow in the crypt, down through the myriad tunnels to her abysmal lair. Her unwitting accomplice, the rain, came down so heavily the remainder of the night, that it drowned out the music box which continued to blare its discordant strains to the unlistening ears in the cemetery, nor could anyone in the neighboring houses hear Azraelle’s latest victim as he swore and cried and screamed and pleaded for his life for hours before it was eventually snuffed out. As luck would have it, the only one who could hear him could not understand a word he said–nor did she care to. For to her it was only the sweet plaintive song of a captive bird in a cage.