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Posted on 6/25/13

Master Bennet Pryor, he lived in an estate over in the UK and whenever he needed a task from me he would either call in or send me a legit old fashioned letter, wax seal and all. Normally his targets were men I had already known about for quite some time; other occasions have happened where his target was a downworlder, a creature not a human, but not a beast, most of which who lived in remote locations like forests in Ireland, Romania, China, and in lesser populations, Canada. A great deal of downworlders came from England though; it is where I am from and I am about 88% sure that it is where Bennet is from as well. I have worked for this man for nearly two centuries and all I ever gathered from him, was that he was born around the 1500’s and he struck business deals with other people that he usually wound up having me rip apart.

“Is the deed done then, young Miccam?” Master Bennet asked.

“It is,” I nodded and pulled the jacket and cuff of my shirt over my left shoulder, exposing my bare neck to my boss. The usual routine, he would drink my blood and take the memories of the last victim I’d killed. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, trading this information to him; his teeth felt like poison tipped darts slicing into the veins on my neck. I bit myself once before to do a comparison, but there was something about Bennet’s bite that just made everything excruciatingly painful to bear. When he was done he pulled back and gave me a look---no let me rephrase, he gave me “the” look. The “I-cannot-believe-you-keep-mind-raping-our-clients” look.

“Honestly Miccam, what is the point?” he groaned and collapsed onto his loveseat, “Dead is dead, why do you prolong this task like you do? Why waste your time?”

“There is some worth to life,” I argued, “I figure that if I am to kill another, the least I can do is kill them when they are happy, right?”

“You are such a naïve boy,” he laughed, “You always have been.”

“I just gather no joy from other peoples’ fear,” I said, “It tastes bitter to me.”

Bennet only laughed louder. “That man’s sins were his own undoing. He deserved no pity before his death, he was scum.”

I looked to my shoes and nodded, “Yes sir…”

Pryor frowned and stood up in a blink; moving in that silent as air fashion that I’ve grown accustomed to. He came up to me and pinched my throat, growling, “You’re weak! Soft! None of my other apprentices have ever been as cowardly as you!” He let go of my neck with a foul grin and patted my back roughly, “But what else do I expect from a boy? Before you knew about that little mind trick, you killed whoever I asked you to and you obeyed,” he reminisced. “I don’t approve of your methods Miccam, but I suppose as long as it gets the job done, I am not one to argue.”

“And am I any closer, sir,” I swallowed that pain in my throat away from where Pryor had grabbed my skin. “Am I any closer to repaying my debt to you?”

He frowned again and it sent a chill up my spine. “How long were your services indebted to me, Ballison?” He grumbled knowingly.

“Forever sir…” I sighed.

He rolled his eyes, “Then why do you always ask?”

I swallowed again, “It is just---you have had many apprentices and they always were released after some time of serving you sir.”

“Do you not like your home?” He asked plainly, “Do you not enjoy living and traveling the miserable world as an immortal god to these humans you love so much?”

“I do enjoy it greatly sir,” I grimaced, “Please, forgive me for asking…”

“Stupid child,” he snickered, “Never happy with what I’ve provided. No matter boy, I have a very important affair to attend to in New Orleans, so I am willing to forget this insolence for tonight.”

“Louisiana?” I questioned, “Why there sir?”

“No reasons concerning the nosy likes of you, Miccam,” he gave me a stare and sighed, “But, if you must know, there is going to be a small gathering of friends this evening and between us, we do own a great portion of Bourbon Street.”

“I have never heard you talk about having friends,” I nearly smiled, “Are there others like you? Are they like me?”

“Ah,” he gave me an exasperated groan and looked to his mirror to primp his hair. “Miccam, you cannot simply be happy just being alive, can you? You’re curiosity will one day be your undoing if you are not careful.” He slipped on a leather jacket and gave it a tug at the neck. His red hair now cut short and styled upward, nearly bouffant to keep it out of his blood-colored eyes; he gave me a wink as he grabbed for a fancy golden carved cane. Bennet knew that no self-respecting human that looked his age carried around an intricate cane anymore, but he insisted on strolling around with it anyway. He stood at the center of his grand entry and stated back at me with a harsh tone of warning… “Remember Miccam, you may be immortal, but I still hold your life in my hands.”

And with that, he slammed his cane on the ground for the soul purpose of the amplified sound making me cringe. The loud bang echoed through his almost empty corridor and as soon as I reopened my eyes, that familiar trail of smoke was wafting into the clear air. I think Master Bennet could teleport somehow because this is not the first time he had done this to me. In fact, this was how he left our meetings on most days; he would scold me, tease me, and then leave to do other things. Pryor was not a very busy man, so I think he only saw me a few moments before his other arrangements, that way he wouldn’t need to talk to me for very long. It was a clever ruse, but still unnecessary, not to mention a waste of time considering I could honestly just call to be hung up on rather than travel all the way out to the UK for five minutes of petty arguing. But, no, my boss needed to see proof that I had killed his man, he needed to see it even though he knew well and good that I never disobeyed one order he had ever given me in one hundred and eighty-one years of service.

I could travel pretty quickly I suppose, and with fresh blood in my system, it only took a few hours to get to Bennet’s house from New York. Now, that teleporting-smoke thing was something that could be useful to me, but knowing Bennet, he would never teach it to me. In fact, he never taught me anything. After I was brought back as this monster, I had to learn how to do everything myself; I figured out how to feed without coming out looking like a ripper, I learned to control my heightened senses, and I managed to get by just being around humans without trying to chew out their veins like strings of licorice.

“Whatever!” I shooed the thoughts away as my own voice echoed throughout Pryor’s empty estate. If I thought about this for too long I would start to get vindictive again, and I was already in a bad enough mood as it is. I took a look about the room, it was dark due to the cracked navy curtains scaling the tall wall, everything coated in a layer of depressing gray, but a few sentimental riches did decorate the fireplace and the tables about the hall. Bennet is many things, but a pack rat wasn’t really one of them. He hardly keeps hold of anything unless it is significantly rare or to a lesser extent, me. He did prize himself over a painting he had made of himself in the early renaissance period; a portrait of his likeness, always standing and starring down at me from the wall. The frame itself was bigger than a truck, and this gaudy painting never ceased to amaze me at the size of Bennet's ego. At the time of the portrait, his hair was still long and curled and he had a beard that came down to about his breastbone; whoever the artist was who had made this likeness, I’ll give him one thing, he managed to capture the sinister sharp smile and the burning red gaze of Pryor's face to a level of pure perfection.

I wondered if one day my own eyes might turn that singeing red color, but it has yet to happen. They still remained their gray-blue and my hair continued to grow shaggy and dark just as it had when I was alive. I figure that hair continues to grow after a body dies, so hooray for the fact that I can still get a crappy haircut every so often like a normal person. It had taken a few decades, but I even managed to grow a bit of stubble across my neck and chin---the kind that makes my face look more like a man's and less like a boy. I could pass for about my early twenties, but still everybody treated me like a child, especially Bennet. Notably, my skin was not as pale as his was; Pryor always had this ashy skin color that made him look deader than he already was, but my skin remained a lively color of fair peach, not so much a cadaver gray. It had to be because of all the time I spent outside, all of the blood I drank, it must make my skin appear healthier than the average shut-in's. At least, that is what I've always believed the reason to be because as I said before, Bennet tells me absolutely nothing.

Whenever I am around Bennet, he brings out my old English accent. Whenever I feel fear or try to show him respect, I'd noticed my voice changes back into my original tongue. After his keeping me locked away in New York for a century, I thought that maybe I had outgrown my natural voice, but there was something in Bennet that captured time and brought the past in me back out into the open. His voice was always sort of regal and old fashioned; I don't know exactly what his original tone was, but God does that guy creep me out! Just standing alone in his empty estate was enough to give me chills. Plus that damn painting just keeps eyeballing me with that look of his; it makes me feel like he is never taking his eyes off of me. I had to shake the feeling away.

Anyway, I could see myself out as I normally did and it would probably take another month or so for Bennet to want to "off" somebody, so I was practically a free man until then. Practically. I would never truly be free from Bennet, never be able to stop killing people and not be able to live a life without the fear of death looming over me. It was as Bennet had said, he may have made my body indestructible and my soul immortal, but he was much, much stronger than I was, and if he wanted to, I bet he could kill me before I even had a chance to scream. I feared him for his power and he knew it too. He was an intimidating man, but I suppose I have a price to pay for his saving my life. I only wish my debt to him did not cause me to slip any further into Hell than I already had. I was always so afraid to die because I thought that I might fail at judgment, but now I was sure of it---if I ever died, there would be no place in Heaven for me. I sure as Hell didn't plan on going to Hell at any time soon either, no matter how much of Bennet I had to endure, even he could not be any worse than Satan.

The night streets of New Orleans, normally so lively and full of chaos as the bars and music never closed, never ceased, and never slowed a step out of the nightlife. Tonight was much quieter and the somber winds in the air suggested a storm approaching so the street was actually starting to close down for the night. Either way, Master Pryor waltzed the streets with that cane of his, a smile on his face to every passerby who stared oddly at his ruby glowing eyes, although, in hindsight most of the people out at this hour were drunk as a barrel of ale and half asleep anyway, so it didn’t much matter.

Pryor came to a small tavern at the end of Bourbon street where there was a symbol carved into the wood framing above the door; it was almost the look of two winged snakes bowing heads to one another as a flame came between them; the whole symbol nothing more than a smooth circle and a diamond shape piercing the top. As suddenly as Bennet came to the door, did the grand entry hinges crack open and the newly unlocked brass crept open so he could wander into the black room and disappear beneath the cold breeze darting out from the inside.

“Bennet Pryor!” a hearty laugh guffawed. A large man, his wealth represented by the bulk of his size and the heavy layers protruding over his skull-shaped belt buckle, he thundered across the floorboard like an earthquake to reach his dear friend, Bennet. His hair was auburn and frizzed from the humidity of Louisiana, and a beard that could put a Viking to same hung over his belly which shook and trembled as he stomped across the room to greet his lost comrade. He bore the look of a common biker, though his accent would suggest he was from somewhere of larger, more high class vehicles like private jets or flying horses. His voice booming, he yelled, “It has been far too long brother! I am glad you could make it!”

Bennet gave him a disgruntled sigh and removed the man’s enormous hand from his shoulder, saying, “Well it seems we were not able to keep the liquor away from Falstaff, now could we?”

“Here not two minutes and already Bennet is a drag,” a thin man hissed as he stepped out of the darkness. He too bore the red eyes of Bennet and Falstaff, though his hair was black as jet, sleek, down to, and covering up the better half of his face with a long set of bangs. He was scrawny with thin, boney arms and long talon-like fingers; his clothes dark and gothic, yet still refined as though he might have been going to a fancy funeral back in the 1800’s.

“Always a pleasure to see you as well, Adok,” he gave the skinny man a snort and wrung his hands around his cane. “Now if only Orrick were about, we could start this little get-together. He is always late, the ancient and ever demeaning fool.”

“Take heed for you talk like that of an ignorant child, Bennet,” a low man threatened, “Our council is not some nonsense to be trifled and mocked.” From the opposite side of the obscure room, came another, a man with long silvery mane of blonde so light that it almost looked as though beams of starlight had tangled into his massive flow of hair. His brows were bushy and his scowl the look of a father figure, the regal way he stood just screamed dominance as he shadowed over all the others; well, all except for Falstaff who had him beat by a good few inches. Nevertheless, the man watched the other three with a stern glare of force, his eyes just as bloody as all the others.

Bennet turned to this tall, statuesque figure, and sighed, “I am aware, Orrick,” he stated strongly, “Still I feel as though only Falstaff and I get out into the world these days.” He pointed and accused, “Adok is white and lurking as a phantom and you still speak as though Othello were asking council against an army of Turks!”

“Of care how you speak to Orrick, and you shall not carry on ill of us!” Adok hissed, his white fangs clenched together as he shot out of the corner a mere hair’s length from Bennet’s face, still the debonair master did not flinch.

Merely, he rolled his eyes and snarled right back into the thin man’s face, “You are such an adulate kiss-up!”

“Must we always fight?” Falstaff whimpered, “I come to have a gay time and enjoy the company of my brothers, not to watch the three of you battle it out like cocks!”

Bennet stifled laughter and backed away, “Perhaps Falstaff is not as up to date as I had previously thought,” he snickered, “But, he does have a point, we should just discuss our ordeals and be done with this petty quarreling.”

“And drink!” the large man thundered.

Bennet chuckled, “Yes, and drink our fill. I believe it was your turn to bring the spirits, Adok---”

“Is wine from the 1530’s appropriate enough for your consumption Bennet, or are you going to continue to swill?” He spat.

“It’s good enough for me!” Falstaff erupted excitedly, shoving the two fellow friends through the darkened doorway and up the stairwell. “Let us go then into the drawing room and speak our business!”

“God,” Bennet mumbled, “I am surrounded by haggard old bats! This will turn to be monotony I can already see it!”