The Second Queen of Time
Moriba seemed to glide toward him—or perhaps she simply altered the space between them, willing it to be narrower—or perhaps, Seymour’s mind screamed, this is only a dream! Whatever the case may have been, the fact of the matter was that she was suddenly right in front of him. She smiled, exposing her fangs, and ran her cold, clammy fingers through his hair.
“Yesss,” she whispered. “I am Moriba, I am the raven. I am the Lady, the Lady Raven, the Second of the Three Queens of Time. I am the ruler of the Realm of the In-Between, the queen of the Living Death. Some have worshipped me as a goddess, and some still do. Maybe I am a goddess, maybe I’m not. It matters little.”
She had drawn even closer while she spoke; by this point, she was practically pressed against him, breathing in his ear. Their cheeks were touching. She still had one hand on his head, but the other had found his lower back and was now creeping downward on a trajectory that made him supremely uncomfortable.
“I’m gay,” he blurted out in a desperate attempt to dissuade her.
“I know,” she purred, and her hand came to rest on his right hip. “Do you think I care?”
“Probably not,” he admitted dispiritedly.
She licked his neck, making him cringe. “Good guess, case closed. Congratulations, detective.”
“Right. Will you please get off of me now?”
“One last thing,” she whispered, and then she bit him on the side of his neck, in the same place that she had licked him a few seconds before.
It wasn’t a deep bite—she didn’t sink her fangs into him, just used them to puncture the skin—but it hurt. He gasped in pain and struggled to free himself, but she was securely attached, like an enormous leech, lapping up his blood as it rose to the surface.
When she at last released him, he stumbled backward into the castle wall and leaned against it, panting.
“I always like to take my payments in advance,” she explained, and when he glanced up at her, he saw that a thin line of his blood was running from the corner of her mouth. When she smiled, it dripped onto the front of her ragged dress.
“What…what did I just pay for?” Seymour asked, his voice shaky.
“My advice, Seymour. As well as my knowledge. Isn’t it knowledge that you seek above all else?”