The alley where I found my her was ripe with dirty people lined along the brick walls and sleeping under wet cardboard, on mattresses of trash, with rats and feral cats and dogs for pets.
Covered with the filth of life and the cruelty of people, I saw my Liandra in their midst, and in the rank wetness and soft patter of rain, I held her as the blood tears dripped. Everything in me wanted to scream my rage at the Council that banished her, but I did one better, and issued a challenge to the vampire king.
I took Liandra back to the catacombs, cleaned her, dressed her in a fine gown, and styled her hair; I would carry her in to my audience with King Edron, and have my day of reckoning.
He made me beg for her life, and granted it, but in a cruel mockery of my anguish, sent her away from me.
I didn’t know how she actually died, but the banished weaken in power, and they’re forbidden to feed.
She thought I would rescue her, but as her powers faded and they held me confined I could no longer track her scent to follow.
He was the King; he would know those things.
The throne room was full.
I heard the others gasp as I carried Liandra’s corpse to our sovereign, and saw the quiet rage move the muscles in his face, like a shark skimming the surface of an ocean stirred to storm.
The paleness of her lifeless skin was a stark contrast to the persimmon light of sunset splashing the colors on the floor in jigsaw shapes, a kaleidoscope with veins of marble running through its patterns.
He leaned forward, his anger unhidden now, and everyone’s eyes were riveted.
My eyes never left his.
“I should burn you for this,” he growled. “You profane my throne room.”
I took my time, gently laying Liandra’s corpse on his royal rug.
“You profaned my wife.”
He spat, then laughed. The others laughed too, nervously, in the shadows.
“Wife, did you say? Our kind can’t marry. We take flesh, not wives.”
“We were committed. I made her.”
He sat back, steepled his fingers. “Ah, there was your first mistake. Your second was to love your creation.”
I was trembling with contained rage, but he might have taken it for fear.
“I would make allowances for your youth in being one of us, but you said you understood the rules.”
“I did. You shouldn’t have banished her.”
“She spurned me.”
“And I just told you why!”
He came toward me so fast that I flinched. “And I say that is not a reason!”
Up close, his rage was a palpable force, and his eyes held my death in them.
He looked down at Liandra, then up at me. “Yet, I am a merciful king. I will give you an opportunity to put this behind you. Keep in mind that your decision, whatever it is, won’t bring her back to you.”
The shadows shifted, and the slayers came into the last of the sunlight as a servant lit candles.
“A torch!” he called, and another attendant scurried to bring one.
He held it out to me. “Kneel, and set her corpse alight, and I will consider the matter closed.”
It was my turn to spit and laugh.
He wiped his face, then struck me with the torch, the fire licking my skin like a demon lover; then he tossed it, as one tosses a flower on a coffin, on top of her body.
I fell, and scrambled back to protect her, but I was too late, and it caught like pitch.
I screamed as he called his slayers forward, and they pressed me hard against her as the fire caught my own robe and started to blacken my own flesh.
The room full of sycophants slowly emptied as my screams faded, and King Edron’s laughter set the sparks to dancing, leaping and whirling in the gloom above us.
At least we, my love, we are now together.