Walk to your quarters to deliberate for a moment. The watch is lost for the time being, but something may be gained by taking a moment to prepare before your next encounter.

Taraq wound his way through the subterranean darkness of the stronghold.  He absently thrust his hand into his jacket pocket in search of the cold comfort of the watch, but it wasn't there.

No comfort to be found.

He turned the corner and walked down another hallway, ever darker, ever downward.  He grit his teeth in frustration and slammed his fist into the slimy limestone wall to his right.  How could he have been so careless?  He'd had that watch since before -- everything.

Safely sequestered deep beneath the city, far from the sun's deadly reach, Taraq's impeccable night-vision led him to his room, where he entered and closed the door soundlessly.  He sat heavily on his cot and threw his coat to the floor, kicked off his boots and put his hands to his eyes.  In another life he might have cried, but there are no tears for the Nightwalker, so he remained motionless at the edge of his mattress and let the rage take over.

Vampires did not cry, but they did feel rage.

The rage which now threatened to consume him, to rise up and take control, a maelstrom of crimson colors that boiled up from his stomach.  It made him so angry that his body quivered with the urge to do harm. 

He put his hand into his empty pocket, felt for the watch, grit his teeth all the harder.

His quest for power had been an all-consuming passion of his for many years, yet his spiraling emotions made his difficult plans nearly unattainable.  He couldn't lose control, not when he was so close.

Taraq leaned back so that the back of his head touched the cool wall and took a deep breath to calm himself.  He pulled his hands away from his face and studied them in his pitch black room.  After a moment, the nervous jangle of his fingers ceased and the tightness in his chest dissipated.  He had once again defied his rage and had taken control of himself.

Memories, so hard to come by these days, flooded the space behind his eyes.  They were of occurrences and events of so long ago they were no longer as vivid as they once had been, and though he tried to reach out for them and pull them in they seemed just out of reach.  Just far enough to remain blurred, or darkened.  He squinted to improve his sight of those times, but it was not his eyesight that was lacking.  It was his heart.

They were images of a tall, dark woman with braided hair down to her lower back and a smile that lit up the world: Cayten.  She was holding a boy of five or six in her arms, swinging him merrily into the air.  Taraq could not see the boy's face, but he was certain the boy looked just like him: a slim build, long face, dark eyes.  And though Taraq was no longer able to see the boy's face after so many centuries, for some reason his son's laughter was sharp and clear, almost echoing off the walls surrounding Taraq.  A light scent of Chrysanthemum wafted to Taraq's nostrils.  Gentle and soft, from long ago, but with enough power to knock the breath from his lungs.

The visions instantly turned to ones of fire.  Taraq pulled his covers around him to ward off the inferno as it engulfed him.  The sounds of his child's laughter replaced by the boy's terrified screams as the fire seared his little body.  Try as he might, Taraq could find neither the boy nor his beloved Cayten.  The heat burned his eyes and hair, but still he pushed on through the flames to save his family.  Something held him back, and all he could do was scream as smoke filled his lungs.

Alone in the darkness Taraq felt the anguish consume him, and he pressed his palms into his burning eyes.  Long, tearless, and pitiful sobs wracked his figure, yet his eyes remained as dry as papyrus.

The End

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