A Carver Of Granite And An Artist Of Death

Scene From Darius

Despite the harsh chill of winter, and the snow falling like shuriken’s, Darius was onsite. They stung his cheeks, the splinters of white. But she was there already, as she always was there before him. Today, she was crouched on a statue. No, she was on top of a face, upturned towards the grey canvas of the sky, in what Darius thought resembled power, authority. It was his creation and his muse, together.

They were always together.

His rolled his shoulders, torso naked to the winters torment, lush, iridescent wings flexing. Then he worked. Flesh collided with marble, ten fingers against ten tonnes of glittering rock. His fingers moved like a whip, his touch there one moment and gone the next.

Like a blizzard or torrential rain, flakes of metallic and dyed stone flew around him.

Scene From Odessa

Perched on Her Majesty’s face, shards of bitter, frigid air sliced the bare skin on Odessa’s exposed arms, but her pistol and blades kissed her body with the warmth of a lover. It was enough for her to draw the gun from its holster, aim at the shuffling, sleep-deprived citizens of frozen Ance. She eyed all the bent heads, their exposed necks, seeking the mark – her mark.

There.

He was trudging along the icy bitumen against the whip of the wind, head lowered, eyes cast to the ground. His tattoo of tears rained down his neck, his fingers, maybe his spine, even. It was the mark of the Slaver of children.

She cracked her neck, her shredded, leathery wings fluttering in the vicious breeze.

Scene From The Sky

The shot rang true and cut the air like a knife slices flesh. She never missed, that much he was certain of, and he never flinched at the sound of death reverberating in the tiny city of Ance. His fingers never stopped, going deeper and higher with each passing second. Granite dust drifted past him in a gust of silver, black and rose. His wings kept him aloft, a twin set of illuminous things that’d make the grandest of butterflies envious.

Darius’s eye never strayed from his work, not even when he felt a second, warmer, presence glide behind him. A shadow was casted over the detail of Her Majesty’s broach that Darius was finalising, before he had to move down the granite tower to recreate and immortalise Her Majesty.

‘Was it the right one,’ he asked his shadow.

They harrumphed. A dainty sound, so different from her line of specified work. An artist of stone and an artist of murder, a set of fluttering wings on each. Odessa said, ‘I never miss my mark.’

Heat flared from his neck, rising to his face like runny paint. ‘She’s becoming impatient.’

‘That’s always her excuse. Can’t the bitch come up with something more,’ Odessa paused, then said, ‘Inventive.’

Darius stilled his quickfire fingers, then ran a steady hand through his hair, a trail of granite dust became tangled in strands of pitch. He lowered himself some several metres to the ground, his bare feet stinging against the lick of the icy tongue of frozen concrete. He glanced up at Odessa.

Her wings were unfurled like a venomous flower, one that had decayed from its own poisonous touch. Her wings were coloured like the onyx’s he melted into the finest midnight paint for his creations, her skin a gleam like the granite he carved from. She landed behind him like a breath of energised air, the tufts of solidified tundra stirring around Darius’s ankles.

Assured fingers touched his naked shoulder, a nail as dangerous as the brittle wind dragging down from the top to where wing met flesh. He shuddered, then swallowed. ‘Odessa.’

‘A little fun never hurt anyone,’ she replied.

‘Clean your mess,’ he said.

He could visualise her face at that moment. The way her full, silver lips, that gleamed like a blade, pouted. The way her eyes narrowed just the slightest bit. The way her wings were rigid and on edge.

‘I make that bitumen fresh again,’ she said.

Then, she took off to the skies.

Scene From The Ground

She fluttered to the body. There was a thumb-sized hole in his skull, his blood glistening like the liquified ruby of Darius’s scarlet paint. A shimmer appeared in the air, the words shaping in her mind, rounding her mouth like a silent prayer. She stretched the void. The glimmering, translucent net wrapped around Odessa and her target, shrouding them in a cloak of nothingness. But it was every bit of something, as the seconds passed by with the rapidity of moth wings, they became invisible to the public gaze.

Odessa pressed her hand to the mans fractured skin, her own flesh smothered in oozing warmth. Goose-bumps prickled on her skin, her wings folding against her back. Words of the language of her home realm smothered her mind, one feeding into the other then tumbling from her lips in an incoherent mess.

The Slaver’s soul rose. It separated from his body as if a serrated sword sliced through. He didn’t get far. Odessa rose, spread her wings wide. Waiting.

His soul screeched, stretched, as if pulled limb from limb from limb from limb. Then, a collision, of sorts.

Odessa stumbled back. Her spine slammed against their invisible barrier, tendrils of him exploding into a riot of red. They splattered on naked skin, ghoulish innards flung into an equally chilling woman, the one who unravelled his very being.

The translucent blockade dissolved and she flew away, grisly wings against a grisly sky, away from the stagnant Slaver with the hole in his skull.

Scene From A Room

Midnight. Skies littered with stars, the smirk of the moon greeting Darius from his floor to ceiling window. It was wide and long enough for them to fit, with their wings tucked against their backs if they ever chose to descend from the skies than walk through the front entrance.

Granite dust and marble paint were strewn in the organised chaos of his – their – room. She hadn’t returned yet, but her bath was drawn as it always was. The soaps of vanilla, jasmine, cinnamon, and rose, their mingled and mangled scents saturating the room like blood saturates a mortal wound.

Darius sunk onto the corner of the mattress. A silhouette blocked the window, a beat of wings that pounded like an erratic heart, and a voice like smoke drifted through. He glanced up. Darius never, not even in the beginning of their partnership, grimaced at the sight of her after a kill.

There she was, covered head to toe with the innards of the dead. Intestines were draped across her shoulders like a scarf, indigo veins coiling around her wrists like bracelets, everything that made up her target was now worn as if it were the last item of fashion left in the realm.

‘Don’t track in the blood,’ he said.

She scoffed. ‘That was one time.’

‘And it ruined Her Majesty’s portrait.’

‘It was awful to begin with.’

His lips quirked and he stood. Darius held his hand to her, palm upturned to the ceiling. She took it and led him through the room and into their en-suite, without a single splatter of scarlet to ruin the carpet.

‘Which one?’

‘It was vanilla last time,’ Odessa said. ‘You decide.’

‘Cinnamon,’ said Darius.

Now, it was her lips that curved like the blade of a scythe. ‘Spicy.’

‘And sweet.’

He let her go and she held her arms up. It was routine. They had practised enough in their early days as young romantics of murder, granite, and each other. It was the art of undressing the jewellery of her targets insides, then the undoing of threads and leather that shaped to her body.

Tonight, it was no different.

Darius started with the scarf of intestines, tugging it off in a single pull of his hands. It landed on their floor with a wet thump. The bracelet of veins came away easy, unwinding the tight coils like he was unwinding a whip. One after the after, the Slaver’s innards came off her pristine body and were discarded on the floor behind them, forgotten memories of his imaginings of her wrath, and her memories of her tasks of destruction.

Then came the leather wrapped around her body. Lace wove in and out of holes. It wasn’t like the vein bracelet or the intestine scarf. It required a closeness, that he was glad to accommodate for.

A sliver of space separated them. Her breath hot against the hollow of his throat, her lips like the moon mere inches away. Darius wrapped his arms around her, where the ties were fastened in the space between her wings. He never understood how they slid in and out of the holes there, but it was her choice.

The only thing she could choose.

One by one the threads that kept her ensemble of leather unravelled, landing at their feet in a heap of cracked brown and rusted blood. There were no weapons glittering at her waist – there never was, as she hid them upon her return.

Steam rose from the bath in tantalising tendrils.

Scene From A Bath

Odessa moved from Darius and into the bath in a dangerous grace, as if she were avoiding invisible bullets that shot through the air around her. Her hips swayed, a combination of pure seduction and natural stride. She heard his lips part, heard the way his wings stiffened in the electric air. Heard the way he prowled towards the bathtub, the way he always did after her targets were gone.

She slunk into the water. Odessa didn’t react to the scorch that caressed her skin, her wings. She sunk lower into the tub, until her hair spilled around her face the way oceanic plants move through their aquatic abyss. Her wings sponged the water, their leathery façade softening beneath the piping liquid. Odessa came up for air.

Blood stained the water scarlet, but Darius reached around her, muttered words of another realm, and the water became as translucent as crystal. She folded her wings against her spine and tilted her head back onto his dry, naked shoulder.

‘Odessa,’ he whispered.

‘Yes?’

‘You’re still dirty.’

‘Aren’t we all?’

She felt him tense behind her, and Odessa laughed, the sound like a knife claiming it’s targets heart with a single throw. ‘There’s only so many hours until the sun chases the moon away,’ she whispered.

‘Then we best make the most of our time,’ said Darius. ‘But you need to be clean.’

‘Such the destroyer of fun you are.’

Something hard, yet with a bumpy and softness to it, touched her arm. A waft of cinnamon tangled in her skin, and Darius rubbed the bar of soap with gentle strokes, up and down her arm. It foamed. Bubbles rose on her skin the way goose-bumps rise in the heart of winter.

He moved the soap bar across her back, hesitating in the space between where her wings protruded from her flesh. Then, without warning, the slippery thing slid across her left wing. Her lips gaped, back arching, as Darius stroked the tender limb with a gentleness that made her stomach clench.

Up and down, up and down he went.

Then he moved to the other side.

Odessa’s hands shot out to the rim of the bathtub, where her fingers gripped the white ceramic with such a viciousness that it snapped beneath her touch. She slumped against Darius’ chest, and the bar of soap landed in the water with a splash. Heavy breaths rose in her chest. Sweat slicked hair clung to the nape of her neck, even as she lolled her head against Darius’ shoulder.

His arms encircled her, despite the fact she was covered in cinnamon suds. ‘Darius, you bastard.’

He chuckled in her ear, pulling her closer to his chest as much as the rim of the tub would allow. ‘And you enjoy it all the same.’

She breathed out a chuckle and turned in his hold. Odessa held his face the way an assassin holds their most desired weapon. Her fingers curled at his temples, and she slanted her lips over his. He returned the kiss, his wings humming with the desire of a lust and love forgotten in the day of their mundane tasks.

Eyes closed, lashes whipped cheeks, breaths burned and bodies almost touched. Water had sloshed onto the floor, but it never had bothered them before, so why should it now? Her fingers threaded through his hair, teeth gnawing on his lip.

Closer.

The tub was blocking them from one another, and her wings spread in the vast bathroom. They flapped. Beads of water assaulted them, but it was brief, as she fluttered an inch or two into the air. She hovered above him, breasts dangling from her chest like knives hung from belts.

Odessa pulled back first and rested her brow against his. ‘Join me for a rinse.’

Scene From A Tub

She was floating, and he on the ground. Darius was released from her hold, very much sure that ten red half-moons specked his face from her touch, and slipped out of his pants, his undergarments.

And joined her.

His calves were sharp, rounded like the curve of a scythe, and they never went unnoticed by Odessa. She moved back and he forward. She was drying, wings flapping gently, and he sunk into the bath, wings tucked against his back.

Then she was on him again.

Their mouths ravished each other in kisses, caresses, lingering in spots of desire for moments too long, or going away in moments not long enough. He groaned and she moaned. The carver of granite and the artist of death. They moved like a deadly symphony, leaving marks of pleasure on the other’s body, moaning from the quick fingers of the other.

Her rinsing was almost forgotten. Darius commanded beads of water with his subconscious to paint her skin with the clear liquid. Suds ran down her skin, but dissolved so that he could kiss her flesh.

He pulled away and sat up, tugging Odessa into his lap. Darius’ mouth found the crook of her neck. She tilted her head to the side, and he explored the map of her skin the way he had done so many times before.

Scene From A Bed

They had stopped some time ago. Water went cold and they had detangled their limbs, their wings, dried off and nestled in the warmth of the other on their bed. She was tracing the curve of his body, and he gripped the sheets when her devilish fingers skimmed across his iridescent wings.

‘You’re a beautiful specimen Darius.’

‘Specimen?’

She paused, her palm flattening on his hip. ‘Partner? Lover? Human? What would you prefer?’

He hummed, fingers drumming against the mattress. ‘Whatever you wish.’

Odessa sat, pulling Darius up with her. ‘Whatever I wish?’

‘I’m regretting my word choice now.’

She slid her hands around his chest, into the folds of his lush hair. ‘Let’s leave.’

‘I haven’t completed the statue.’

‘There’ll be prettier people to carve,’ she said. ‘Ones with riches beyond our wildest dreams.’

‘Something’s changed.’

‘This landscape is a bore,’ she said. ‘We have wings. Why not fly to a place more magical? I tire of the same, mundane routine.’

He squeezed her waist, and buried his head in the crook of her neck. He inhaled the cinnamon scent that lingered on her flesh. No more blood, no more intestine scarves or vein bracelets. Nothing but her spicy scent, her soft skin.

It could happen. They could pack their belongings and whisk away while the night was as youthful as a new born child. They could fly to the heavens and pity those that linger. They could break free of the monotonous cycle of Ance, where he carved the same broach and she murdered the same Slaver.

‘Please Darius.’

But then it’d be forgotten when the sun rose and Her Majesty’s curse claimed them as fools once more.

He turned to their window. The moon was still smirking at them, stars mocking them with winks. There was time.

Darius faced Odessa and kissed her, as if to savour the taste of those silver lips and the feel of her skin. He rested his forehead on her own, and said, ‘When do we pack?’

‘Now.’

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