SUMMARY: Vinseth, Nimje, the night. He wishes he were nineteen again.
THEME: "It's sane enough, what I'm asking of you."
* * *
The desert is beautiful at night. The winds are mere whispers of ghosts, the stars are twinkling spangles in a sky of black satin. The City of Dead Men is just barely visible on the horizon, a shadow on the gibbous moon.
Vinseth stares with dark eyes at the world he left behind. When the winds begin to whisper his name, rather than run as an un-anointed would, he simply slides through his open window, closing it behind him.
The sand is cold under his bare feet. He almost doesn't notice.
Shadows lengthen, crossing over him once, twice, again. They change chape and solidify and suddenly a cold, pale body is pressed against his; frail and fragile arms, thinner than he remembers, are wrapped around his neck.
"You left me," the trembling body whispers. "You left for the Cities of Men and I couldn't follow."
With an easy, languourous grace, he brings his arms up to encircle her. "I didn't know."
Her face is moon-pale, milk-pale, greyish white like a corpse. She looks up at him and he notices it when he looks back. Her chin and cheekbones are sharp enough to cut something on; her beauty is knife to his throat. It always has been.
He's never minded before.
"You fell in love, didn't you?" Her eyes are alight with something, something edged and fierce and he doesn't want to answer.
More powerful priests than he have died from displeasing her.
Nimje the Beautiful, Nimje the Many-Beloved, Nimje the Respected. These are her names and he has known them from before he was Vinseth First Priest, Vinseth Fang-Grower. Only the priests of Kaszio, those mad cowards, call her Nimje the Devourer, Nimje the Lover of Flesh, Nimje Sharpteeth.
So he does not answer.
"You fell in love, and then she died, and you did not return to me." Her mouth twists into a frown. One white fang peeks out from dark pouty lips. "Why did you never return to me?"
He shakes his head and tries not to think about what she does with those fangs. Once, she would have subsisted on blood and butter, but she has feasted on flesh. He can see it in the subtle tension on her face, in the taut, perfect line of her body against his. Her sins are plain to his eyes.
"I never meant to go so long without speaking to you. If you couldn't come, why didn't you send for me?"
Her lips peel back to reveal a mouthful of sharp teeth, enlarged canines. It is not a smile. Her tongue forks for a moment, flicks out at him, but then it becomes human again, slips back behind those sharp, wicked teeth. "I thought you changed your mind about me. Humans are fickle."
He runs a hand through her dark hair. As he so often did, when he was nineteen, he wonders how a demoness could have a full head of hair.
For those who want a little more context on who Vinseth is, try Inviting the Night, White Fan, or Stir Fry.