The same painting. The same subject.
Hung well above the fireplace in the drawing room: second floor, third door from the left when one exited the staircase.
She had been fascinated with the man in the painting for as long as she could remember. Flaxen hair brushing softly against cerulean for eyes, framed into a face so beautiful, it could only be described as an angel’s benevolence in human form. The white of his frilled shirt a lovely contrast against skin so gossamer, it would have put the mightiest of fair-folk to shame.
She sighed, reaching her duster to brush against the gold plated mount of the image.
“You’re still here?” An impatient voice called to her from the doorway. “Hurry it up girl; you’ve got two more floors to cover and the groceries before the day is up.”
Hurriedly jumping down from the small ladder she had been using to clean above the fireplace, she moved to fold herself into a respectful bow. “I’m sorry, Head Butler Savin. I shall head out to the market right away.”
The head butler grunted, a non-committal sound before turning away. “Sweep the pantry and the dining hall while you’re at it. And you do remember, don’t you? You are not to go above the fourth floor, under any circumstances.”
It was a warning she had been hearing religiously for the entirety of her one week service as a maid in the Zhou household.
The owner, or rather, this whole place was… disconcerting to put it mildly. She had heard of a job opening down in town for the Zhou manor, situated well away from the other neighboring villages, rustic and worn-down over the long years it had seen and survived.
Located just at the mouth of the “forbidden” woods, no villager ever dared venture into, the Zhou place did not make for a welcoming sight either, barred by wicked looking chains and metallic rails on all sides, with the entrance to the mansion being only through the creaking black iron doors, situated up front.
The towns beyond were no spring walks, owing to the terrible clammy, frigid weather they had all year round but Zhou manor trumped the region in spookiness, without contest.
And so, what had she done when she had seen an advert, forgotten and half torn, pasted to the rickety walls of one of those dingy diners her father frequented? She had jumped at the opportunity.
It offered good pay in addition to lodgings, for whoever dared to take up the position of housemaid. Who was she to deny, when all that really bothered her were the unsettling rumors about the place?
That the place was over-run by phantoms who feasted on the flesh of humans? Or that every maid they’d ever had, had disappeared under most mysterious circumstances?
No, none of that mattered when she was practically a penniless woman, forced to live each day hand-to-mouth, scrounging for every single strip of cash she could make to support her disabled father, her only living family.
She thought of paying her father a visit, offer him the month’s wages while she was at it, just as she got the wicker basket out, ready to head out shopping. The larder was alarmingly low on sugar the last time she had checked.
Mentally going through the list of purchases to be made, she headed out of the kitchen, failing to notice the watchful gaze that held her in its sway, a flash of lapis lazuli in the dark, before it vanished, as if it had never even existed, melting into the quiet of the long, lonely hallways.
“Savin.” The man murmured the name thoughtfully, watching the girl through partially obscured windows, as she walked through the yard below, blue flashing gold flashing red within his eyes, changing colors preternaturally fast, a fact Savin chose to dutifully ignore.
“Yes, Master Kiro?” The servant gracefully moved to serve the freshly brewed ‘tea’, Kiro taking the proffered cup just as smoothly before bringing the odd colored drink up to his mouth.
“I like her. A pretty little, Miss Chips, isn’t she?” A short, muted laugh. “Asking you for fried potatoes for her first meal.”
“Indeed,” Savin remarked solemnly, turning to cast a disinterested glance her way.
“I like her, very much.” Kiro commented again, moving to drain the last bit of droplets from his cup, the questionable liquid within catching the dreary light outside, flashing a macabre red as it did.
Nightmares. Or perhaps they were premonitions.
A song, a calling, a lullaby; each time it took a different image, veneer changing with every shifting dream.
A flash of gold. Longer hair, flowing robes from times long past, eyes flashing red. Lips pulled taught over a grin, seemingly harmless enough but she sensed the danger that lurked just underneath, brought upon by centuries old patina accumulating over and over till it warped and changed forms.
She awoke with a start, frosty gasp leaving her on a white puff of breath as she stared up at the stone ceiling overhead. It was cold tonight. Colder.
She glanced towards the door, leading out on hallways that turned dark and foreboding once night fell on the manor.
But the wisps of the dream persisted within her mind’s eye, like an incessant ticking at the back of her mind that refused to slacken the claws it had sunk into her consciousness.
And like a foolish rabbit to its predator, she was drawn, unquestioning. Tonight was the night, something seemed to whisper directly into her mind, coiling into her head-space through ears way too eager to listen to any and all sirens that sung her way.
Changing out of her nightgown into her housemaid garments, lest she come across Savin who would most definitely stand in way of her quest for answers. She snuck out of her room, heading for the staircase, excuses at the ready for her presence in the forbidden wing of the manor.
The old stairs creaked ominously underneath her steps, as if in protest over being disturbed from their centuries’ old slumber.
She shuddered at the thought, steeling her resolve as she tried to make her way further up, as quietly as she could.
A musty, dank smell so strong it almost sent her back, hit her nose as soon as she reached the mouth of the long, dark corridor of the top most floor, running further into places unknown, dangerous.
It was then that her steps faltered for the first time that night.
Was a potentially silly vision worth defying the Head Butler’s orders? What if she got kicked out for her disobedience? And she hadn’t even met this Master of the House yet, having seen (and admired) him, only in portraits so far. She would be unable to plead her case if something went wrong tonight.
Faint music was what pulled her out of wandering thoughts.
The sound of an organ being played, low in intensity and yet she felt each and every single vibration as it passed over her in waves, settling deep into the very marrow of her bones. Calling.
She ventured deeper into the darkness.
You are here, it seemed to sing.
Come to me, it seemed to play.
And like a marionette whose strings led her further into the abyss, she fell as directed, heading further through the winding corridor.
A door. A fancy one. Dusted and polished. So out of odds with the rest of the place that she wondered whether to enter, before it swung open, all on its own, as if she had somehow willed it.
Her mouth fell open on a silent, bewildered gasp.
A room of lavish proportions and furnishings, so huge, she couldn’t glimpse the top of it even when she squinted. Windows heavily barred and boarded, stiff velvet drapes pulled over for good measure as if trying to keep the light out.
Red and purple. Black mixed in Blood, it seemed.
Built like an old fashioned throne room of sorts, like she had read about so often in picture books as a child.
It even housed a throne, a chair less fancy really, but it was placed against the wall farthest from where she stood, a dais leading up to it and –
She halted. Was that a coffin at the base of it?
She caught a glimpse of the organ she had supposedly heard being played, out of the corner of her eye before she wandered further in, closer to what lay within the unburied coffin, kept isolated from the rest of the house.
She stopped at the opening of it, the lid removed and placed aside, and just… stared.
A beautiful boy, a man really, inside. Perhaps no older than she was. But she recognized him. Those set features as picturesque as the man in the painting, but lovelier. A cheap comparison to the actual breathing subject. Hair a golden burst of color, eyes that most definitely would have showed her the endless blue she sought, had they been open, skin soft and supple as if he had just entered his pubescent years but he had most definitely not, for an eerie, ancient air seemed to cling to him.
He was undoubtedly a man, lying as he was within, arms crossed as if… as if in death, body resting upon scarlet velvet so bright, it hurt her eyes and yet, she found that she could not turn away.
Touch me, the air seemed to sigh around her. And she did, reaching a hand into the casket and tracing the Angel’s features. He was cold to the touch, bitter cold.
Like a corpse.
Just as she thought to withdraw her hand, eyes that had been so peacefully shut in slumber, fluttered open, and her heart faltered at the sight, jumping up into her throat.
He was alive.
In a burial box.
She moved away… and stumbled over her feet, falling to the ground on her bottom, just at the edge of the dais, fingers digging into the surface beneath, holding her breath as the devastatingly beautiful creature rose from its place of rest, turning crimson eyes her way.
That did not sit right with her already frazzled nerves.
Before it spoke. “Haha, do not be so afraid, little Miss.”
And with the melodious words that washed over her, they seemed to take her nervousness, steal her fear and discard it. Suddenly, she was so calm she wondered why she had been terrified in the first place, of a human.
Risen from the dead.
“Another one.” She heard him murmur, sudden sorrow taking his features.
“Another one lured in by the songs, my one curse, my only curse…”
She did not understand his seemingly senseless murmurings but she heard her voice call out, as if of its own accord, to clear him of misconceptions, any misconceptions he might have had. “That is not true, Master Zhou. I had been captivated by you, long before I ever heard of your calling, or saw you… as I do now. I find myself… drawn to you…”
She registered the expression on his face. Wide eyes. Disbelief. Surprise. All emotions that made her regret her outcry.
“I did not mean to overstep my….” She began, before she noticed the slender finger against her lips, just shy of touch, shushing her from further vindications of her actions.
“You’re sweet.” A smile pulled across his lips then, the smile of an angel, just as she had pictured in all of her day-dreams, fresh and brilliant as the sun.
“Since you’re such a sweetheart and seeing as you did just disturb my sleep…” The smile changed tone into something devilish, dangerous, beckoning, still magnetic, as it held her in its sway.
“…You’ll play with me, won’t you, Miss Chips?”
“Pardon, my Lord?” She whispered, the meaning of his words not as innocent in her ears as they had sounded in his beguiling tones.
Another smile, turned cheeky. “Is it alright if I kiss you?”
A nod was what she offered him in response, folly as it was but she could not resist the angel
devil that had finally, finally fallen into her lap. A taste, just a taste would do –
That roguish grin stretched wider before it descended upon her lips, cold, warm, hot, it did not make much sense to her, as Lord Zhou – Kiro – pushed her to the floor beneath them, mouth ravenous as it kissed her, licked her lips, her chin, her cheeks before coming back to suck at her open mouth, tongue sliding in when she invited it further.
He tasted just as divine, of nectar so sweet, she was drunk on the taste of him as his mouth explored her however it wished, lips changing angles whenever he pleased, maneuvering her firmly in between hands that refused to relent their grip on her head and she moaned deliriously into him, the sound not escaping further than his mouth.
“I want your body, so sweet, so young. I crave your very soul. Mm… let me have it?”
Her fingers, impatient, spasmodic, curled into the sleeves of his shirt as she tugged, wanting for something she was sure only he could grant. “Mm… Master, please…”
“…Kiro. Call me Kiro,” he answered, hands turning rogue as soon as the words left her mouth, sliding against her clothes, thumbs leaving the lightest of brushes against her breasts, causing the peaks to pebble in the absence of his teasing touches.
Kiro’s eyebrows sloped downwards; the frown of an angel if she had ever seen one. “This… is in the way.” He tore through the fabric of her sleeves, the sound of it unusually loud in the quiet of the night and she gasped as he pulled her up by her exposed arm.
Open mouth and fangs reaching for hers, their mouths collided in violent passion as his hands made quick work of the rest of her uniform, tearing at the apron, the black dress beneath until all his fingers slid against was naked skin and the lace of her underwear.
“Master… Master Kiro…” Her fingers threading through golden locks, she pulled him down towards her mouth, the taste of heaven and blood on her tongue.
Blood…? She could not tell why that thought hit her, amidst the haze of pleasure that seemed to have penetrated into her very core until she oozed seduction and desperate desire through every pore of her skin.
Kiro tugged at the pins of her braid, sending hazel locks flying every which way as he wove a hand through them, using her hair as leverage to tug her head to the side, wet mouth finding purchase on her neck, sucking and biting, muffled groans hot against flushed skin.
She arched into him, clawing at his shirt distressed, as strong hands spread her legs apart, lean fingers finding the space in between them before they entered in one swift stroke, stretching her.
She groaned into his chest, twitching at the way he maneuvered her body to his liking, her own lewd moans an accompaniment to how he played her like a common whore, bedding the Master of the House in request for his favor.
The thought sent her gushing onto his fingers, crying out in need, such aching need, she throbbed inside with the very sting of her desire. For him.
A low, devious chuckle against her ear pulled her momentarily from the realms of ecstasy, to focus on what he required of her. “Did you like it that much?”
She was nodding vehemently even before he had finished voicing the question, pleading eyes turned on him, the master, even as he sucked his fingers - the nails pitch black, dripping with her essence - into his mouth.
His smile softened at the lust he saw burning within, fingers trekking a path against blushing cheeks, before he pulled away from her.
Her world was flipped over in a flash, in the moment it took her to blink.
She barely had time to realize the state of her body – knees apart, ass high up in the air as she knelt on her elbows, waiting – before she felt the sudden intrusion of his cock inside, thrusting itself into her as soon as it settled, and she wailed, screamed, fingers trying to carve paths into cool stone in an effort to temper fires that threatened to burst out of control, consume her, leave her in ashes, never to rise again.
His own digits dug painful crescents into her hips as he propelled himself harder, faster, driving her to the edge, an orgasm quicker than any she had experienced in her life.
His hot voice, breathy, gruff and wanting, sounded against her ear. “Let me… let me bite you, little Miss. Let me have your blood. Say you’ll be mine, say you’ll stay.” Rough words, possessive, uttered through every jerk of his hips into her, driving his cock home over and over and over till she thought he would leave an imprint of himself within her.
She was whimpering out her consent, the sensation of sharp pricks following soon after and then pain – swift, so sudden she felt it only but a moment, before it was gone, replaced by pleasure unimaginable as it pumped through her veins, sending her hurtling off the edge, pulsing around his cock in a violent orgasm, her voice rising in crescendo until she was sure it would reach the heavens.
Kiro tossed her body onto the floor, her panting breaths directed towards him as she took him in, bloody mouth, blood stained eyes, so much of it, blood, dripping onto his shirt before her vision was replaced by white; his ejaculate pouring forth in strings of pearly white, onto her skin, her face, her lips and she licked, despite the horrifying situation she should have realized she was in but no, she wanted to stay here, trapped within that gaze of his that looked upon her with lust and perhaps – something akin to adoration.
He swooped down to run his tongue against her cheeks, licking his own release off of her. “Haha… such a good girl you were for me.” The tinkling sound of laughter she had come to love, come to want.
“Sleep now, my sweet Miss Chips and may you have pleasant dreams…” Her last vision of him was canines, sharp, of a beast, reaching for her neck before she felt that pleasure, again, overwhelming just as much as the first time before she fell into darkness.