The rhythmic pounding of house music was like the spasmodic throb of an overworked heart in the grungy streets of London's warehouse district. It called to the night dwellers, to the humans who liked to think they were dangerous, and to the underworld's nastiest denizens. Hungry things crawled from the shadows and mingled with the roughly hewn crowd. They streamed to the warehouse's doors.
The music played like a rebel siren and the neon lights spiraled without pattern or intent. The humans were blind to the monstrosities interwoven in their numbers, those famished things seeking souls and blood and death, but the monsters could see them and each other and waited for the opportune moment to strike.
When the cold came and all the humans felt was a winter wind, those hidden creatures knew better. They lifted their heads and let the cold pour into their bodies as their eyelids flickered and the atmosphere's magic broke in a myriad of ways. The essence was taken and the world's warmth consumed as a true monster neared.
The night dwellers retreated to their shadows. They left this squalid pit to the meaner, more dominant predator.
The Sin of Envy appeared among the teeming masses with nary a breath of effort to conceal his arrival. He drenched those who stood nearest to him with fetid, black water as it poured from his sopping body. White ice was shed from his body when his chest heaved with each inhalation.
Green venom seemed to drip from his furious eyes when he ripped the final fractus limb off his coat and threw it from his person.
"Enough," he hissed through bared teeth.
Some ancient, innate instinct born into the feeble minded humans forced them to move from Balthier's path as he strode forward into the mire of wasted souls swaying to the electronic beat. Disease spilled from his every pore and each breath was a toxic cloud of invisible poison. The humans took it into themselves without knowing any better as he passed.
The lights were especially jarring to his sensitive eyes—flashing back and forth is discorded lines, glaring through the haze of generic, artificial fog—but the Sin ignored his blindness and continued forward. The air smelled of sweat and sex, of lust and concrete. The humans were dressed in crop tops and fishnet stockings with heavy eye liner and neon bracelets, and though they sought attention by any means they could, nobody looked his way twice.
Animal instinct, Balthier's thoughts derided. The prey knows when a hunter approaches.
The humans were loud, obnoxious, and environmentally toxic beasts—but when Balthier walked among them, all their arrogance was for naught. Their instincts reared up and told them to keep their eyes adverted, to just keep moving, dancing. If they ignored his presence, perhaps he would go away.
Balthier had no intention of simply going away. Not tonight.
He moved with slow, drawn-out precision, slipping through the masses as smoothly as water through cupped hands. His anger was a bloated cloud just waiting to unleash its storm. The wail of heavy electronic music drew him farther in and by touch alone Balthier navigated a few steps that led him to a higher deck. He turned his narrowed eyes to the teeming mass below.
The ugly, boarded-up warehouse had come alive when the sun had dived below the hazy cityscape. These humans had risen with the dark. They painted their eyes and ripped their clothes in the name of danger, proclaiming themselves threats to society as they raised middle fingers to their respective authorities, but they weren't dangerous. They were nothing but neophytes praying to a nameless, hedonistic god, waiting for a response they weren't prepared to hear.
Tonight, the Sin of Envy would answer their prayers. He would give these insolent wretches the danger they sought because he was danger incarnate. He was a child of the cosmic rapture brought forth on the High King's behest when all of creation was still young. Balthier was firstborn: a firstborn Absolian, and a firstborn Sin.
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Bereft: Demise (Book 2, the Bereft Series)Fantasy
"All villains believe themselves the heroes of their tales. You are no different, Sara Gaspard." Sara and Pride escaped Verweald's dangerous streets, but their quest to kill the Sin of Envy has just begun. In search of a way to end the imm...