“Put down the knife. If you planned to use it, you would have by now.” It has never spoken to him before. He didn’t think it could. The voice he hears is not what he would expect. It is a mans voice, smooth and soothing to the ear. It seems to put his restless mind at ease, but only for a moment.
“Who are you? What are you? Why have you been doing this to me?”
Whoever hides in the shadows laughs for a moment before answering, “Oh I have done nothing to you. At least not me personally. You could say I am the…master, and my servant is the one you are acquainted with. As he says this, the man lights a lamp that sits atop the mantle on the other side of the room. It reveals both master and servant. The master is a tall and handsome man with an olive complexion not common to this part of the empire. His hair falls in short strands of dark curls, and he has a short, well trimmed beard and moustache of the same color. He is dressed in black pants with a white undershirt and a long sleeved black jacket.
The servant lurks at the doorway, in stark contrast to the man. From afar one would think it is a large man, at least 7 feet tall, clad in a black hooded robe, but this is merely an illusion of the mind trying to make sense of the senseless. The best way to describe the thing that stands in the room with them was a hooded cloak made of shadows that seemed to have only darkness within. The hood holds no face beneath it, just a darkness that seems to reach out and swallow the light around it. The robed body seems to be made of shadows that ebb and flow as though it is made of smoke, and wisps occasionally separate from the…body, if you could call it that, and dissolve in the air. The same thing happens at the floor, where the thing seems to almost float on constantly flowing strands of its own smoky body that curl over themselves and seem to be replenished from some unknown source. Strangely, the thing that draws the most attention on the creature is the feature that is closest to normal in comparison to the rest of its body. On the left side if its chest, directly opposite of where a human heart would reside, is a small glowing light that is a dark mix of red and purple. It seems to pulse ever so slightly, though he can not imagine what substance could course through the thing before him. He seems unable to take his eyes off the strange light, and struggles to find a name for it, hoping that if he can attach something human, something real, to it that it will make it less hypnotizing.
“Amaranthine. That would be the name you seek to place on my companions mesmerizing heart, though heart may not be the proper term.” Brennan is startled and falls backwards over his chair, for the man is now beside him and has leaned down to whisper in his ear. He moans as the pain rushes to his head. The man snickers a bit as he says, “My apologizes, I didn’t mean to frighten you. That’s more his specialty,“ he says, nodding towards his companion. Brennan sits up and rubs his head, and manages to say, “How…you were…uhhh…”
“Guess I’m unremarkable in comparison to my friend. People tend to forget I’m in the room.” As he speaks the thing in the doorway begins to move forward, and Brennan yells, “No! Keep it over there!” The man lifts a hand and snaps his fingers, which stops the things progress. It turns and leaves the room, off to haunt the other reaches of the house. Brennan sits up and rubs his head again, and is glad to find he isn’t bleeding, then remembers he may have worse troubles than an injured head.
“Where’s it going?”
“How should I know? I just told it to stop moving toward you. Beyond that, it is free to do what it wishes. Now, on to business.” He walks over to a table near the mantle and pulls out a chair so that he sits and faces Brennan. He begins to roll a gold coin across his knuckles, though Brennan has no memory of him holding a coin previously. “How have you been Mr. Hart?”
Brennan rises to his feet and takes a seat once more. “Fantastic. The past six months were just great. An invisible thing has started following me, injuring me in every way possible through random accidents, which was just what I was missing in my life. Its also helped me lose my job, tried to kill my friends and some strangers, forcing me to become a shut in, and to top it off, it terrifies me night and day.”
“What of your wife? Do you undertake this burden alone?”
“I asked her to leave when this first began. I could not risk injury to my love. She is my everything, and were she to be harmed, I would rather die than live on. To suffer alone is a burden I must bear, a burden of love.”
“How noble of you, but I say good riddance with her. Any woman who would leave you in your time of need is a worthless shrew.” Brennan jumps to his feet, but the creature with the Amaranthine heart rises out of the ground before him and pushes him back into the chair, then disappears before his screams of terror come to an end.
“Please stop screaming, and don’t try that again. He is very protective.” Brennan takes a moment to breath deeply and gain his composure before he speaks.
“Do no speak of my wife like that. I would fight your beast to the death to defend her name, even if I died trying.”
“You would die trying, that is not debatable, but if you wish I will show your wife respect. Now can we continue in a civilized fashion, or do you need to be…restrained?”
“Just tell me why you‘re doing this? What do you want?”
“I am doing this because this is what I do, what he does, whatwedo. To sow discord and misery is more fulfilling than one might think.”
“But what are you? What is it? Why can I see it now, but not before? And why won’t you stop?” His voice comes out with a quiver and makes him seem weak, but he does not care. Heisweak. False courage is not better than none at all.
“What we are is not of any importance. Understanding on your part will bring you no more comfort than knowing the exact time of your death would. But what I will tell you is we have no intention of staying here with you. As fun as tormenting you has been, we must be on our way. One mans sorrow is not enough. We spread our services as far and wide as we can.” He smiles, and Brennan can almost feel evil radiate from him. He realizes this man is the true threat. The creature may be evil by design, but his self proclaimed master has made chosen to be this way, and any man who would willingly embrace the darkness in his heart is something to be feared.
“Thank god! Please, just leave, leave and never return.” The man laughs a hardy laugh, all the while rolling his coin without pause. For some reason the consistency and skill the man possesses for this simple task is as disturbing as the man himself.
“That is not how this works friend. What would be the point of me coming here to tell you we are leaving? We need something from you.”
“What could you possibly want from me?”
“Who do you love?”