Death's Herald

By Forever Frost

Note: original fiction, from the smouldering ruin of my brain, once again.

Warnings: yaoi, angst, all that good stuff…

Chapter Five

Alston reclined in the dark shadows in his own quiet corner of the café Az, cloaked in a long black trench coat that shone sleekly against his tall and lithe form. Black leather gloves covered both long and delicate hands and his eyes, even in the murky dim of the café at four in the morning, were masked behind a pair of sunglasses. His raven black hair fell down in long shining strands past his chin, and rested at the nape of his neck, where the high collar of the trench coat rose up sharply, casting further shadows across his smooth white flesh.

White flesh, that was an understatement. Alston himself, mused at the sickeningly pallid and colourless hands, pulling off his gloves long enough to examine the long, thin fingers that were as white as snow, the skin fine and smooth as though that of a statue, not a living man. His long fingernails were black and pointed like claws. He bit back the faintest trace of a bitter smile and slid the gloves back over his hands, touching the glass of brandy that rested on the table before him.

It seemed that the fourth Great War had done even more to the world and its people then destroy it. Nuclear explosions had demolished most of the land, and made most areas unliveable, those who had once lived there, erased. Grey smog and dust eternally covered the once-blue sky. Dust that had risen from all of the bombs and missiles that had rained for too long on this pitiable world. Dust that might never settle in a man's lifetime. The sky was gone and the world was in ruins. Cities lay decimated to putrid heaps of waist. The earth's population was nearly gone. Ninety-percent of the city Alston now lived in was nothing but empty, hallowed remains.

Gangs roamed the streets like wild beasts, preying on victims in every corner of these dank slums. It was the pit of despair, that was what this once alive city had become. Men's wars had doomed them to a world as bleak and dark as Hades. But the lewd, violent and cruel packs of prowling murderers and thieves could hardly harm him, Alston thought. A chill that seemed to hang in the air around him like a mist, a chill that caused people in his presence to feel sudden cold and have their bones tingle, caused most to avoid him. And those who didn't… this time Alston did smile. And the silver-white fangs in his delicately shaped mouth glinted in the shadows.

Alston's musings were interrupted by his sense that another person was present. Not the bartender, or the sparse collection of patrons who sat far from his shadowed corner, attempting to drink away the horror of the last decade. He had adjusted to their life forces and had mentally blocked out the beating of their hearts, the sound of their breaths and their slightest movements, all things which he could have easily picked up had he the desire. This, that he sensed now, was different. Young and weak… It was not Raven, Alston noted. The door to the dark pub opened slowly, hesitantly.

A boy stumbled in, a child, perhaps fifteen or sixteen, skinny and pale, his dirty-blonde hair falling messily over large blue eyes, that held fear and pain in them swimming in tears just waiting to fall. He was clothed in dirty and dishevelled rags that clung to his thin, bony form in dirt-smeared clumps. He was shaking—trembling and he fell to the floor beside the door, drawing his bony knees up to his chest and huddling there.

A starving war orphan. There were many in this time, and with the destruction of most of the world's crops and supplies, food, money and sympathy were all scarce, if not dead. The shaking child, huddled in his rags in that little corner near the door, was hiding, Alston mused, probably from the gangs that roamed these murky despairing streets. Streets where corpses lay half-rotten and devoured by rats in the shadows of empty skeletal buildings, burned black by the bombs. The slums of this city were no place for such a delicate youth.

But then, Alston reasoned, wasn't he more dangerous then any of the gangs that might terrorize these streets? And he was hungry. The poor boy might have been the perfect victim to the street mobs, but he was also the perfect prey for an undead, tormented, victim of war.

He tried to smile. But realized he couldn't.

The barkeeper was a large and imposing man, who demanded more money than ever now that the world had ended, although what he could buy with it, Alston wondered. This man scanned the dark corners of his establishment, having heard the creak of the door open and fall shut with a rattling bang. His piercing glare found the shaking boy on the floor, and utterly without pity, stormed the floor to that place and kicked him with the heel of his boot. "This is no place for loafers, you either give me money, or get out!" The man growled.

Tears welled up in the boy's eyes and he pulled himself closer together, burying his head and trying to swallow his tears. The burly man was utterly without pity, black anger and greed filled his heart and he dragged the boy to his feet with a calloused hand. The poor child choked back his tears and whimpered piteously.

Behind his dark glasses Alston closed his eyes in pity, then in one swift movement, he tore the glasses from his face, his eyes blazing like two blood-red gems, he pulled man and boy apart and flung the barkeeper back effortlessly. The large man stumbled to a halt, gripping the corner of a nearby table for support. "What—what are you?"

"Cease your snivelling." Alston commanded shortly, with a flick of his wrist setting the sunglasses back atop the thin bridge of his nose. The sandy-haired boy was staring at him with wide eyes betraying confusion and fright. Alston moved back to his seat calmly, and motioned for the boy to take the seat next to him.

Hesitantly the boy moved to his seat and stared at him dumbly. "Well," Alston asked sharply. "Is that what manners come to these days?"

The boy stared at him for a moment, then nervously dropped his gaze and murmured a 'thank-you' so quiet that even Alston's senses nearly failed to perceive it. The vampire shook his head, but inside even his cold heart was moved to some degree of pity for the youth. "Hey," he called to the still angry barkeeper. "Get this boy a sandwich and something to drink."

The man glowered at him but at the same time he was far from immune to the crawling sensation of the chill hand of death that hung in the air surrounding Alston. "You'll be paying, I suppose?" He asked gruffly, at last.

"I suppose," Alston replied smoothly, pulling a few rolls of bills from his coat and tossing them across the table.

As the food was put down for him the poor boy looked as though he had never suffered such good fortune in his entire life. But still the tears hung in his eyes and he looked nervously between the food and his sponsor as though questioning this uncalled for kindness. The hurt runs deep. Alston felt, in the frantic beating of that tiny little heart, like a frightened bird fluttering in its cage, and those glassy blue eyes, so full of pain and fear. "Eat," Alston said softly. "And tell me your name, boy."

His voice was so soft, and tremulous, faint. "I—I have no name."

"No name?" The vampire asked, leaning forwards and resting his pointed chin

atop his gloved hands.

"No…they took it…when they took everything else."

The vampire stood silently and moved with the graceful fluidity of a large black cat to where the boy sat, shaking with cold. He peered down into the heart, the soul that rested in there and saw—yes, there was a name somewhere, but it was buried, and between him and it were mountains of terror and memories so horrific they were more like nightmares burrowing inside of his mind, like a disease propagating despair. Even the devil could be shocked by this: violence, blood, pain and humiliation.

Hands tied to the rusting bedpost with blankets that were red with blood. Hot pain like fire and the coarse laughter of evil men, passed around amongst them for their basest pleasures.

Alston was moved to brush the boy's forehead in pity and he focused his power into that touch so that the boy's heavy body became lighter and the pain from his bruises and cuts lessened. He caused the wounded body to relax and then, as the boy finished eating, Alston drew him into his embrace and felt the thin light body shiver against him. "Ssh…you're mine now." The vampire whispered. "And I have no intention of letting you go."


Author's Note: sorry, sorry, short chapter I know. Next chapter will return to Raven and Remy, and a very annoyed Alston (he hates to be kept waiting…)