Quick note: This story is basically plotless. It is more or less written for graphic imagery. If you can vividly imagine the events, then the story has served its purpose.

Dedicated to Dr. Tamwe for suggesting that I write a story based on a poem that was posted here previously. I liked the story so much more that I decided to take down the poem.

Two Faces of Ruthlessness

A scream echoed through the night. It was almost inhuman. Inside a simple wooden cabin, a man hung limply from invisible bonds, suspended a few inches above the ground. His once-white shirt was in tatters, clinging to the dripping wounds on his upper body. It was once a magnificent one, teeming with life and strength. Now, it was crisscrossed with wounds inflicted by various weapons, including a whip, a sword, and red-hot iron. Another scream tore from his throat as a jolt seared his leg. This was more painful than the wounds left by leather and steel. This was blinding pain generated by the use of magic. No one who had ever seen the tormentor would have believed her to be capable of torture. She was a slender young woman with fathomless blue eyes and long black hair. Her lips seemed to always be on the brink of a smile, and when her laughter found voice, her eyes danced with merriment. It was hard to imagine such a happy, gentle person performing cold-blooded torture on another being.

Nothing about her now hinted at the kind soul. Her eyes were implacable ice, glinting in cold rage. Petty physical torture had not been enough, so she had resorted to magic: lightning searing through his veins and fire roaring unbearably close to his helpless body. His eyes were screwed shut in terror at the possibility of the inferno touching his shredded, broken skin. As it were, without licking at his prone form, the flaming tongues dried the oozing cuts and mottled his body with welts and blisters, driving the pain to dizzying new levels. Every nerve screamed and it dimly registered in his hazy mind that he had screamed aloud. He prayed to no one in particular to make the torture stop.

It did.

He was afraid to breathe, lest he call attention to himself and begin the torture anew. He could not stop the coughing, and blood erupted from his mouth, dribbling down his chin. He tried to spit, but did not have the strength. He tasted the metallic tang and had to swallow the thick fluid to keep from choking on it. The effort was nearly too much in his weakened state and he gagged.

A slight rustling drew his attention to the woman in front of him. Minuit.

The woman he loved.

The name suited her perfectly: hair as dark as the inky midnight sky, eyes that twinkled like the stars, creamy skin that seemed to glow from within, and an aura of calm serenity and endless mystery.

"Why?" he croaked. He had screamed his throat raw.

Her fist connected with his face. Something cracked, and he spewed yet more blood, the crimson droplets lost on her indigo tunic. Her sapphire eyes snapped with silver fire as she shrieked, "WHY? You have the nerve to ask why? Killing you quickly would be treason to my grief!"

"But I love-" She threw all her weight behind the next punch, and white light burst behind closed lids as his head hit the rough wood behind him. This time, he coughed up a tooth.

His bonds loosened, and he crumpled to the ground. She viciously snatched a fistful of his sweat-soaked blond hair and yanked his head to face her. "Don't you dare say those words to me," she growled menacingly. "You don't know the meaning of love." She slammed his head to the dirt floor and stood, rubbing her hand dry on black breeches. Soft brown boots barely whispered as she crossed the room to grab a dipper of water.

"Drink up," she commanded. She resisted the urge to fling the dipper at his face and set it on the ground before him.

He pushed himself to his knees, held the cup in trembling hands, and greedily gulped the water. The cool liquid slid down his throat, washing away the salty blood. With each swallow, his pain seemed to diminish until it was only a dull ache.

The water was finished far too quickly. He licked at the metal and whimpered, almost crying in frustration. He turned beseeching eyes to his captor.

Minuit took one look at the liquid golden gaze and her vision exploded in red. How many times had Draken begged him to stop? Her kick caught him under the ribs and threw him against the wall. How long had Draken endured his torment before he finally died? She stepped on his outstretched hand and ground her heel into his fingers. Her boot came away red. Seeing his huddled form did nothing to alleviate the rage; it only served to remind her of the pitiful form of Draken, whose beautiful body had been skinned from neck to toe. Rats had already begun to gnaw on his flesh when she found him. Death had been a hair's breadth away. Minuit's eyes dimmed as she remembered her last moments with her love...

Minuit gathered the bloody mess to her. "Who did this to you?" she cried in anguish.

"Leo," came the weak reply.

Blue eyes widened in disbelief.

Draken wanted to reach up and touch his beloved's face one last time, but his leaden limbs refused to obey the simple command. "Iā€¦love you...al...ways, and...for...ev.."he could not manage the final syllable and went limp, amber eyes glazed over in death.

"NO!" The single word came out as a shrill howl.

She snapped back to the present when the figure on the floor haltingly sat up. She glared at him, eyes smoldering with fury. Every nerve screamed to kick him, pound him, anything to hurt him, but a cold, rational voice cut through the mental cacophony. "Get out of my sight," she bit out. "You have five minutes to start running. After that, I'm coming after you." Only the kill, she knew, would satisfy the need for his blood.

Leo wasted no time in bolting for the door. His relative painlessness was due to the potion she had put in his water. She didn't want to be chasing after a cripple; it would take the thrill out of the hunt.

As she waited for the promised time to end, she reflected on the murderer.

Leo. The man with golden eyes and hair; one of her trusted friends until he ruthlessly murdered her love. Killed, he claimed, out of his love for her. "I love you," he had said, "but he was in the way. He didn't deserve you. He knew I loved you, and should have let me have you." It had been obvious that the man was mad. Murdered a man in cold blood because of jealousy, because he was convinced that the woman would then lavish her attention on him. Skinned his own brother without a second thought.

His identical twin.

Molten rage crashed through her being, and she shrugged out of blood-splattered clothes. Her nose lengthened while her limbs shortened. Nails became claws; hands and feet, paws. In a matter of seconds, a great black wolf stretched where the woman had been. A howl rippled through the cabin and into the night, announcing the beast's deadly intent.

It was time.

She leapt out the open doorway and landed in a crouch on the dewy grass, sniffing the cool night air. The moon was a mute, unfeeling spectator and spilled down her cold silvery light, gleaming off glossy midnight fur. The wolf picked up the trail and growled in anticipation. She ran into the forest at an easy pace. She ran unerringly, like an arrow flying toward its target. No sound marked the passing of the wolf. She was a silent black shadow, melting into the surrounding darkness. No other creature crossed her path, although glowing eyes followed her every move. They knew the spirit of midnight was on the prowl. An owl hooted into the eerie silence.

Some distance away, she spotted his fleeing figure and let loose a howl. It proclaimed his impending death. Leo glanced back and his eyes bugged in terror. Fear emanated from his every pore and she smelled it. Felt it.

Reveled in it.

He renewed his effort to escape. Had she her human face, she would have cracked a sardonic smirk at the futility of it. She sprinted toward him, becoming a blur in her speed, weaving among the trees. Powerful hindquarters flexed, and she sprang to the air. Time seemed to slow while she hovered above a clearing in the woods, body outstretched, and lips drawn back in a feral snarl.

Forepaws connected with his back, knocking him off his feet. Even before his body tumbled to the ground, she had him, ripping a chunk off his shoulder. Blood flew in wide arcs, splashing on the trees surrounding the clearing. She swiped a paw across his back, leaving parallel scarlet tracks, and bounded off his shoulders. She flipped backwards in the air before landing gracefully in a crouch. There, she remained frozen like a tightly coiled spring. She watched with gleaming eyes the exaggerated slowness of his body's descent. With only a few hand-spans to the ground, the lethargic quality was shed and Leo crashed to the springy grass, shrieking in agony. Dark burgundy rivulets snaked down his arm.

As he tried to rise, the wolf pounced in a single fluid motion. Her teeth sank into his neck with exquisite precision, slicing the large vein with a snap of her jaws. His life pumped out, staining the emerald carpet crimson. Again and again, she tore into his twitching body. His screams reverberated through the woods, heard only by silent, pitiless witnesses. It was invigorating music, urging her to shred his worthless hide, to impart justice. When she finally stopped, only a pile of mangled flesh remained, stripped off the bones, lying in a pool of hot, sticky blood.

Minuit backed away from the gore, regaining human form. She wiped the back of a hand across her mouth, smearing blood across a smooth white cheek. Surveying the mutated remains, the corners of her mouth quirked slightly. She turned her full attention to the face that she had so carefully avoided scarring. It was twisted in his last scream, completely distorted. Completely different from the face of his twin, her love.

Minuit traced her tongue along her lips, tasting the salt and metal. Finally satisfied, she smiled.

Revenge was sweet.