**HEAVY trigger warnings apply - adult content. Gore, violence, coarse language, adult themes.
IN PARIS (Part One)
Tuesday 8th April, 2014
Lyra was alarmed at how easily she remembered her way through the Monère estate. Not much had changed, not for decades, centuries even. The Monère family were proud of their history of wealth and standing, their family tree had gilt leaves, even if the roots festered with sadistic madness.
In the great ballroom the afternoon sunlight filtered in, lighting the marquee floor and painted roof mouldings like a church. Being back here was like stepping back into a dream, it was a far cry from the busy streets of Paris. The Monère estate was deathly quiet.
Briefly, Lyra considered the possibility that she had in fact died years ago, that she hadn't survived funday at all...that all of this was a dream, but then she shook her head and dug her nails in to her palms...
No. That was not good thinking. Not sound.
Across the way, her father was blindfolded and bound tightly to a pillar, his silvered blonde hair falling over his face as he fought against his bonds, his great tailored jacket and cravat discarded, crumpled on the floor beside him…his shirt front in disarray from some kind of tussle.
Lyra moved closer and reached out a hand to Jasper, half for her own reassurance. She felt the velvet jacket jerk away from her fingers and she looked to him. Haunted, she thought, he looked like he was staring through her father; and then he turned distant blue eyes on her. She didn’t have to ask, she knew exactly what he was thinking. It was written in his face.
She reached out again, slower this time, giving him time to pull away.
Jasper blinked and offered her his arm. "I'm fine," he said, his tone clipped. She linked her arm through his, placing a subtle steadying hand on his shoulder...whether for his sake or her own she couldn't be sure.
Together they approached Armand Monere. Lyra reached out first, pulling the blindfold from her father's eyes and smiled tightly as he blinked at her.
Armand looked at her briefly with an odd smirk, until his eyes fell upon the black haired man that stood by his daughter's side. His thoughts, too, were plain as his face fell to a dark scowl.
The Black boy.
"You remember Jasper, don't you father?"
Jasper's eyes met Armand's, chilling blue eyes filling with malice.
"Not as well as I'm sure he remembers me" Armand replied calmly.
"You don't look surprised to see us." Lyra remarked.
"I was wondering when you'd come. You've come for inheritance, have you not? And boy Black here has come to watch Monère blood spill...isn't that right, boy? Like all slack jaws at the guillotine..."
Neither Lyra nor Jasper responded for a long moment, though she could feel Jasper stiffen beside her. She untangled her arm from his and crossed the room to a large, beautifully carved dining table, set elegantly at one end with a floral centrepiece, two silver candle sticks, a hot plate, silver cutlery and small silver platter. On the platter lay two syringes, a pair of pliers and a knife. But not just any knife…this one was her father's favourite blade.
"For now, this isn't about inheritance...this is about you, " Lyra finally replied, not looking at her Father, "You hurt so many people...you killed your wife, and my sister," she added, running a finger along the tray's ornate lip.
"On the contrary, dear daughter...that particular honour goes to Mr. Black here."
Lyra glanced up at Jasper, who continued to say nothing as he watched Armand. Smiling pleasantly, she went on.
"You carved a bloody path through night after night of innocents, like an animal."
Armand smirked. "We are all animals, Claudia. Le lion dèvore l'agneau."
"Indeed," she picked up one of the syringes and considered it, its thin metal nose and plastic body were so sleek, so simple. She held it up and double checked the dose…triple checked. Her hands were shaking as she turned away. She couldn't let him see her weakness. She wouldn't.
When she turned back, Jasper had finally moved…he was circling the pillar and leaning to whisper into her father's ear with a malicious glint in his eyes. He looked over to Lyra, smiling darkly.
"Ready, little sister?"
It sounded like an invitation, playful, casual and taunting, but underneath it was a quiet yet unmistakeable check-in…a reminder that she was here to do a job. Somewhere inside him, she knew, he still doubted her ability to carry out the tasks ahead. Even if they had almost all been her idea.
Lyra nodded and approached her father, who was glaring murderously at her, threatening her…daring her to defy and betray him. She hesitated for only a moment before lifting the syringe to his neck. She felt the small push of resistance as the needle slipped below the skin, the liquid sliding easily into the vein. Her father tensed, but made no sound even as the needle was withdrawn. For a moment Lyra met his eyes, then looked quickly away again.
If looks could kill.
Turning away, she returned to the table to collect the knife, drawing it up at eye level as she moved back to Armand. How many times had this knife carved her skin…the skin of his other victims? It was slender and small, made for accuracy, its narrow handle decorated with the Art Deco image of an arum lily along its length.
Jasper was watching her, peering over Armand's shoulder. Without another word he stepped forward, grabbing the hand that held the knife and pulling her close, kissing her hard and biting her lip until she moaned. Lyra dropped the knife and grabbed a handful of his hair, pulling him closer, flinching at the sharp crack of his palm slapping her ass. It sent a tingle up her spine as he clawed at her thighs and she wrapped a leg around him almost theatrically. She knew what he was doing. He wanted to make damn sure that Monère understood that his precious bloodline was at an end.
Monère's don't sleep with Black's.
She smiled and nestled her face into Jasper's neck, breathing in his cologne, then pulling back to touch his cheek affectionately as he studied her face.
"Do you love me?" he asked.
It was an automatic response now, but she still lit up every time she said it.
She distantly heard her father spit on the ground, angrily, slurring in French, words her grandmother used to use when cursing townsfolk, Englishmen or 'new money'. She smiled at Jasper and pushed the hair from his face, "Do you love me?"
"More than life."
She pushed a kiss almost violently upon his lips, which he returned hungrily before pulling away and picking up the knife, turning it over in his hand to passing it to her. She nodded and studied the blade and then her father carefully. For a moment she considered just slashing his femoral artery and walking away, coating the ballroom with his blood, filling the rafters with his panic and pain and being done with it.
But they weren't here just for her.
Pressing the point of the blade to her father's chest, Lyra traced down, a bright red line springing from the cut and spreading across his pristine white shirt - no doubt the finest to be had - pulling the crimson colour through its fibres.
"Pretty," she commented.
"Well, that's interesting," Armand responded through grit teeth, "you may be soiling the name, but you are still a Monère."
Lyra felt her blood run cold.
"I'm not you."
"Oh no. You are not me," Armand looked her over appraisingly, "what I could have done with you, had I suspected, but you looked so much like your mother and fawned so over that pathetic brother of yours… I should have paid more attention."
"I am Not You," she repeated, backing away.
"But you could be," her father was quick to seize the moment, "All this could be yours again. I could teach you everything I know…you could be great, Claudia, influential. A fine bearer of the Family name."
Something in Lyra snapped and she advanced, brandishing the knife.
"I do bear the Family name. I've done more to protect this family than anyone. Anyone!"
As she pressed the knife to his throat, she felt golden eyes on her, long black ears twitching. The Jackal waited. The walls held their breath.
"But you are all rotten, disfigured souls..." she snarled, her voice strained as the blade swung down suddenly, severing the pinkie from his bound right hand. Armand let out a surprised cry of pain, struggling against his bonds in an attempt to draw his hand in and nurse it against his body. Watching him, Lyra slowly crouched to stab at the fallen finger with the knife, drawing it up before her father's pale face. She delicately plucked the finger from its perch, keeping watch on her father's face she carved a slice of meat from the bone. Jasper had crept up behind her, she could feel his breath on her neck…could smell him.
"Oooo Lyra," he breathed like an awed child, "Look what you did."
Holding her father's gaze, she raised the sliver of flesh up to Jasper's lips like a piece of chocolate. He didn't even hesitate before his mouth closed around the slice, licking the blood from her fingers. His hand tangled with hers and she felt a tug on the knife.
Relenting, Lyra let the blade pass to Jasper before moving to take a seat at the dining table.
She imagined this would take a while.
IN PARIS (Part Two)
Tuesday 8th April, 2014
It was late evening when door to the ballroom burst open and two large men entered, manhandling a third younger man with blonde hair between them. The younger one struggled, shouting obscenities and threats, until he saw Lyra.
Her brother Jacob had a black eye and a split lip. She couldn't help but hurry forward to cup his chin in her hands.
She saw Jacob look her over, drinking in the sight of her dishevelled clothing and blood-smeared face…then the rest of the scene began dawn on him. Their father bound…broken and bleeding, Jasper Black and his terrifying blue eyes, burning with long repressed hate as he stood by Monère's bleeding body - his torso a roadmap of cuts and gouges.
The weight of it hit him hard.
"What's going on? What the fuck is...don't touch me!" Jacob became frantic, his voice creeping higher and more panicked with each word. Lyra shook her head and hushed him, smiling reassuringly before nodding to the men, who threw her brother on to the table, narrowly missing a bottle of Shiraz. Wordlessly they pinned him as Lyra slipped between them on the table, smoothing back his hair. She looked to the ceiling and took a deep breath, glancing at Jasper, who watched the scene with interest, and her father…who stared with utter hatred.
"I have thought long and hard about what I'd say to you..."
"For god's sake Claudia. Kill him and be done, girl. Do not try to justify..." Armand's rasping sneer was cut off sharply by a stomach churning crack and roar of pain. Jacob cried out for his father. Lyra patiently guided her brother's shocked face back to look at her, hands trembling slightly.
"Then I realised, we were never big on talking."
A silk cushion from one of the chairs appeared in her peripheral. She took it and plumped it in her hands, turning it over and over as Jacob stared at her…her father's pained growls and Jasper's frighteningly calm whispers echoing in her ears.
"Claudia...what? Please, what do you want?"
She hushed him again, placing a finger to his lips and waiting until he fell quiet. For a long moment she just stared at him, then licked her lips and began in a soft, wavering voice…
"Once, long ago, in the middle of nowhere in particular..."
After all this time, Lyra could still read her brother like a book. In that instant, Jacob Monère knew he was going to die. His breath caught as Lyra looked to the other syringe on the platter, the one that contained a sedative. One of the men made a move to fetch it but Lyra stopped him with a shake of her head as she met her brother's eyes once more.
"A solider, honourable and true, was on his way home from war with nothing to his name but a copper coin and three dry biscuits..."
She lifted the pillow above her brother's face, wincing as a sob wracked his body. But he never looked away from her face.
"Not far down the road on a particular day of his journey, with his only copper spent the night before, he came across an hunched old beggar by the side of the road. Clothed in tatters and rags."
She slipped on to her brother's body, straddling his heaving chest. He started to thrash wildly, cursing, then whimpering as the men held him down. Tucking her feet under his bucking form, Lyra hooked on to him and shifted her weight slightly. She stared down at him, biting her lip.
"'Good man, can you spare a copper for a brother down on his luck?' Called the beggar."
Time froze and her brother grew quiet, his wide eyes boring into Lyra's. For a moment he looked like a little boy again, lost and fragile and in need of her love and protection. But only for a moment.
"Claudia?" he whispered.
Lyra shoved the cushion down on her brother's face as he began to thrash again. She pressed harder, blinking as the silk began staining in dark tiny patches. She realised after a moment this was not from him, but from her tears. She began to tremble.
The sharp, single instruction came from behind her…though whether from her golden eyed friend or blue eyed companion, she wasn't sure. She took a deep, racking breath.
" 'Nay, for I haven't a copper left to my name. But I have a biscuit you may take if it suits you..."
The words were coming between sobs now. Her brother's body was still thrashing, but with less strength.
Jacob's movements slowed, the struggling ceasing.
"…the beggar took the biscuit gratefully…"
All at once her brother stopped moving, the panicked rise and fall of his chest ceased and for a long moment everything was so still Lyra worried that she had died as well. She pressed harder onto the pillow, leaning on it awkwardly, her limbs struggling to move.
Yanking the pillow away, she stared down at her brother, running shaking fingers over his face. The two men had let his limbs go and retreated respectfully.
Lyra crumpled forward with a grating gasp, wrapping her arms around herself. She felt a familiar comforting crush around her, smelt familiar cologne as she was pulled off her brother, her face turning to bury against a beautiful blue shirt.
She gasped and coughed, rasping for breath as her tears stained the rich fabric of his clothing, already smeared with blood.
"It appears my daughter is in good hands," Armand jeered, his voice a little distant, no doubt he was woozy from all the chemicals Jasper had pumped into his body…and the loss of blood.
"Interesting, the Blacks are not usually known for their sentiment."
Snaking her hands up to grab at Jasper's lapels, Lyra snivelled in to his chest with great shuddering sobs.
"Breathe, Lyra. Look at me."
She shook her head. She needed a moment...just a moment. Drawing in air in big gulps, she clawed at her wet face, trying to stem the flow of tears. Nothing was moving, the Jackal, the walls, the shadows...they were all still, or gone...she'd never felt so strangely alone.
"I did hear something about you...Jasper Baelian Black," Armand Monère's mocking tone pronounced his name as if it tasted bad in his mouth, "I heard that you gave that fetid demon spawn of yours a name…" Lyra blinked as Jasper stiffened against her, "…before my gourmet artistes paired her with an Albert sauce…"
Her eyes widened as she looked up at him, her breath catching at the expression in his cold blue eyes. Lips parted to silence her father…but nothing came out. Jasper's fingers tightened so hard on Lyra's arms that she flinched.
"That is sentiment, is it not, boy?" Armand almost crooned.
"What was her name again? Laura?"
Jasper lunged away so fast that Lyra fell to the floor, flinging himself at Armand as stabbing the bloodied knife into the pillar beside his head. A hand shot out to grip Monère's throat as he leaned in close.
"Lorelei," Jasper said softly, his tone frighteningly even as he held Monère's gaze, "Her name…was Lorelei."
Armand stared back at him, lips curving into a hideously cruel smile.
"Sweet name…for a sweet tasting young…:"
That was as far as he got before Jasper stuffed his hand into her father's mouth. The man gagged, snarled, tried to bite, but Jasper didn't seem to care. He forced his fingers further down Armand's throat until he was choking, eyes bulging, guttural sounds coming from him as he gnawed on Jasper's hand.
Staring, Lyra didn’t move, wide eyes fixed on the scene before her. Armand began to vomit, his head snapping back and forth, banging into the pillar behind him as he tried to dislodge Jasper's fingers.
"Lyra…the fucking PLIERS!"
Jumping up, Lyra threw herself at the table, scrabbling for the requested item and scattering the candles in the process. She half ran, half stumbled to Jasper's side, holding the pliers out in shaking hands. Jasper looked at her with icy eyes, nodding.
"When I open his mouth, grab his tongue."
He'd snatched the pliers from her before she could respond again, cursing and wrenching his hand free from Armand's mouth, flicking saliva and vomit at her face. In an instant he'd shoved the tool into her father's mouth, the knife coming up seconds later and following suit.
Lyra staggered backwards as her father's choking coughs gave way to agonised moans and screams, Jasper's own voice shouting over the din as he literally sawed Monère's tongue off with his own Art Deco blade.
"Let's hear you say her name NOW, YOU FUCKING PATHETIC CUNT!"
Lyra looked at him, then blinked, her gaze shifting to stare hard at the floor...the floor she'd danced on as a child, the floor with some small stain still tarnishing the wood from her break down at the Spring ball. The walls started to close in and warp, pressing at her skin from miles away. The Jackal was watching her with it's golden eyes. She because sharply aware that she was gasping for breath again.
"Jasper. Jasper please....stop."
Jasper turned to her sharply as he tossed the blade away, sweeping towards her and grabbing her arm roughly, dragging her towards the table. Behind them, Monère was mewling like a kitten.
"This is it, Lyra...you wanted to be family. You told me to make you mine. So…fucking BE MINE."
She jerked her arm away, unsteadily leaning on the table as a hollow laugh fell from her lips. Usually it was him shrugging her off. Watching her closely, Jasper tossed something onto the hot plate, a sickening smell filling the room as it started to sizzle. Lyra stared at the bloodied mess…it took her a moment to realise that it was her father's tongue.
"Is he…are you going to make him…?"
Jasper looked her angrily.
"No…WE are. I have something better planned for him."
A half hysterical laugh burst from Lyra's lips before she could stop it, her eyes shifting from Jasper to her father, and then back again as her companion's bloodied fingers moved towards the Shiraz bottle.
He was cut off by the sound of shattering glass. Lyra stood in a pool of glittering fragments and deep red liquid, her green dress splattered with wine as she wordlessly held out the jagged bottle to him.
He gazed at her for a moment, then took it from her carefully.
She winced slightly, but didn't move.
"Lyra." There was that strained calm in his voice again, "Please leave."
The sizzling of the tongue in the frying pan was the only response he got for a long moment, and then…
"No." As quiet as her voice was, it was determined, and final. She had seen the old Fundays, she knew what she was putting herself up for, but she was not leaving Jasper there alone. Not now.
Blinking, Jasper looked at her for a long moment before nodding.
"Get his trousers off and help me move him to the table…"
Written by Luna Madness and Natalie Ristovski.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015. Natalie Ristovski.