The Cold BedMature

Fifteen minutes later, the coach arrived at Frederick's flat, tear shaped lanterns lighting the black iron banisters that led to the main door.

Kelstrin slipped off the back of the coach, pressing himself to the side as he peeked through the window.

Frederick got out of the coach, giving the cabbie three yellow bills and telling him to keep the change. He smiled and tipped his bowler hat to Frederick, revealing a bronze wristband on his right hand before he started up the engine and tottered down the lane.

Frederick watched the coach leave, a frown seemingly permanent on his face as he adjusted his shade spectacles. He climbed the short gray staircase and entered the double glass doors, fumbling for his keys.

Kelstrin followed the moving carriage before peeling off, heading around to the side of Frederick's apartment building. He watched Frederick trudge into the front lobby, a hand on his stomach as he turned and ran down the side to find the worker's entrance to the building. He opened the door quietly and slipped in.

The main lobby of Frederick's apartment complex was brightly lit, polished marble floors decorated with ornate mosaic patterns. Tall, black columns supported the hallway, a blue crystal chandelier dangling above the security desk.

Frederick strode past Smith, the front desk security guard.

"Good evening, Mr. Lionhart." Greeted the officer, tipping his hat to Frederick.

"Evening, Smith." He replied, knowing it was well past one in the morning.

He entered into the cable elevator, a squat, dark skinned man standing beside the pulley lever.

"What floor, Meester Lionhert?" he asked, his accent warping Frederick's last name.

" Sixth. Thank you, Kokalai."

The short man distinctly nodded, stooping over as he pulled the level forward. The cage grates of bronze locked over themselves, the box slowly moving up through the floors as Frederick stole glances at the Mystic.

The top of his head was vacant of hair, the white strands remaining trimmed close to his skin. His smiling wrinkles hid most of his eyes, bushy eyebrows covering the rest of his eyelids. He wore a simple button up white shirt and suspenders, a few stitches in his pants. His right hand remained on the lever, and Frederick saw the same bronze wristband tightly bound to the man's arm.

"How long have you been in Silestra, Kokalai?"

"What that? Eh, twelve yeer, Meester Lionhert." He responded, his broken Elbanish painful to Frederick's ears.

Frederick took a glance at the rising floors, trying to see if anyone was on the landing. He shifted closer to Kokalai and whispered.

"{Do you have any family on a preservation?}"

The man's eyes widened, his brows rising high enough to reveal the whites of his eyes as he looked to Frederick.

"{Do you want to get caught by the police?!}" he hissed, his eyes darting, "{Why risk talking to me!?}"

"{I just wanted to know.}"

"{If it costs my suffering, my family will remain free.}"

Kelstrin peeked through the worker's door tucked away in the far corner of the floor, watching the elevator stop as he caught his breath. The bronze cage grates slid open, Kokalai sweeping his arm out in front of him.

"Six floor, Meester Lionhert." Kokalai announced, resuming his smile, "Good tilings, sir."

"Tidings, Kokalai." Frederick corrected, passing Kokalai while pressing a blue bill into his hand.

The Mystic looked down and gasped, stuffing the money into his pocket before nodding once to Frederick and descending back down to the lobby.

Frederick approached Number 609, missing the lock twice. He steadied his hand and inserted the key, flicking open the lock and swaying into his flat. A smile crept on Kelstrin's face, double-checking the number of the apartment before he slinked back downstairs.

As soon as Frederick entered the foyer, gas lamps flickered on in all of the rooms, glowing gently.

It was a single floor apartment, save for a spiraling iron staircase to his right that led to the personal balcony/observatory outside. The foyer opened into the living room, large square windows revealing the slumbering city of Silestra as their copper and ceramic roofs reflected the twin moons and stars. Frederick unbuttoned his frock coat, tossing it onto one of the two leather couches as he turned left and went to his bedroom.

His walls were lined in gold vine and leaf patterns, six gas lamps casting light against the opposite sides of the room. Tall brown and burnt orange drapes hung from the arched windows that looked over the courtyard of the co-op apartment, long golden sashes tying them apart. Against the back wall was his unmade queen sized bed, sheets strewn about. Any other conceivable wall space was consumed with pine bookshelves, holding everything from manuscripts to textbooks and objects of his travels. A large trunk lay at the foot of his bed, a hefty lock hanging in the center. A smaller trunk sat next to his dresser, housing many of his medical supplies, including his personal kit for when someone needed his expertise.

He slung his satchel over the curve of his desk chair, undoing his tie and tossing on top of his smaller trunk. He took off his spectacles and placed them on the nightstand beside his bed. He reached over and turned the gas dial to lower the lamps, his eyes glimmering with the copper veins. He clambered into bed still mostly clothed, slumping facedown on his sheets before rolling onto his side.

After tossing and turning, he fell asleep, a pillow tucked between his legs with his knee hitched up near his elbow.

"Kur digi'sha! Mos vülan bei!"

The blindfold was ripped from his eyes, green and gold light flooding his sight as he gasped. The sounds of water clogged his hearing, and as his vision focused, he noticed his arms and legs had been tied apart.

He lay partially submerged in a pool of clear water, his body stripped of his clothes and leather straps holding his wrists and ankles apart. He tried to struggle, but the wound in his side only hurt worse as the blood mixed with the water.

"Let me go!" he hollered, his voice hoarse as he occasionally coughed out water.

Six shadows circled him, all submerged in the pool as well with their hands outstretched towards the next person. All of them murmured softly, a seventh wading through the pool as he leaned over Frederick's face.

"Release me and I will see to it you are not harmed." Frederick tried to negotiate, hoping they understood Elbanish.

The shadow seemed to not comprehend, and instead gripped Frederick's wound. He screamed, thrashing about and causing the water to churn pink around his side. The figure let go of his wound, taking the remaining blood and tracing designs across Frederick's chest.

"Stop it! Don't do anything to me! Kah'eteh! Kah'eteh!" He shouted, knowing very little of the Ur'Kan language before he felt the effects of anemia start to take over.

Despite the ringing in his ears, he could still hear the six chanting, noticing it grew louder and with more fervor. The figure now gripped the back of Frederick's neck, his other hand resting on his chest. Frederick could feel something equally strange begin to surge through his body, as if a stream of warmth was seeping in through the wound in his side.

Without warning, the figure forced his body underwater, holding him down firmly. He began to panic, trying to fight off the hand so he could breath but instead losing oxygen due to the pain and his struggle. Firecrackers went off in his head, sounds and images bungled up in a carousel of confusion as he tried to breathe, but instead began to accept that perhaps this was his death, that he would be sacrificed to their Heathen Lords and never seen again.

He felt his head being brought back to the surface, the colored lights beneath the water turning bright white as he gasped for air.

He jerked awake, his body shaking and covered in sweat as he quickly felt his side. He pulled his hand back, expecting to see blood but instead saw his palm. Two 180-degree arches were in the center, scars from a time he had tried to forget for five years. Now Kelstrin had re-entered his life, without rhyme or reason or even a decent explanation.

He opened up the drawer in his nightstand, hands still quivering as he sat up in bed. Prepping his arm, he inserted the syringe into the second vial, the label reading "Morphium". He tensed for a moment before inserting the syringe, drawing the pump back a little to see blood mix with the drug before injecting it into his system.

He quickly withdrew the needle, undoing the tourniquet rapidly and pressing a clean piece of cotton against the puncture wound. Within seconds, he felt the drugs sink into his flesh, his eyelids becoming heavy. He slumped onto his side, his pupils dilated. Within seconds, blissful, uneventful darkness took his senses.

Outside, in the dark across the street, Kelstrin stood, watching the building like a hawk. He stuffed a hand past the buttons of his shirt, pulling out a large parcel and turning it over in his hands. It was wrapped in brown paper, tied together with simple twine as he pulled out a pencil and scribbled down an address.

He walked to the corner and took a glance down the street before slipping it into a post box. Turning down the street, he tilted down his hat and stuffed his hands in his pockets. With a thunderous moan overhead, storm clouds began to gather over the city.

The End

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