Ritual Noise

Heat/Serph. R. ~800 words. Gore.
Heat remembers hating spiders, but he doesn’t know what they look like.

Heat toes the body over on its back. Sightless eyes stare at the ceiling. Its mouth is fixed in the shape of a scream as angry and futile as when Serph’s blade had ripped it straight up the centre.

For the first time, he feels something other than indifference over the stench of spilled guts and the dark, spreading pool of blood.

Argilla stands in the corner, her back resolutely turned. Her shoulders are tense. The look in her eyes — her changed eyes, vibrant with colour unlike his own — had been revulsion.

These things are all new, the words — revulsion, disgust, anger, fear — echoing strangely in his head. They taste familiar on his tongue, and though he knows tasting words is impossible, he forms them again just to feel their jagged edges.

Serph touches the mark on his face, sharp, bright blue sparking to life and spiderwebbing across his skin.

Heat remembers hating spiders, but he doesn’t know what they look like.

He follows suit and changes form, revelling in the demon’s strength. He glances at Ariglla with one set of eyes, the other set firmly fixed on the lithe, powerful form of Varna.

Varna would be good to hunt, but Serph is his leader, so Varna will simply have to be good to hunt with.

“Leave her,” Serph says, his voice as changed as his body, a low growl that trickles from between his teeth.

Heat flexes his hands, feeling muscle pull on the claws set between his knuckles. Forcing Argilla to eat would most likely solve the problem, but he agrees with his leader’s assessment: either she eats on her own, or she doesn’t. If she becomes a liability, then they’ll deal with her.

Serph crouches by the bodies, scenting the air, as Heat reaches down to pick one up by the hair. The spilled blood has started to cool, but the flesh is still warm. He tears its arm from the socket, his hunger spiking enough at the wet sucking sound it makes to have his gut clenching.

At the thick smell of fresher blood, Serph’s head snaps up, nostrils flared. One blade is extended, streaked with gore, his other hand buried in the stomach of the second body. Heat’s nerves jangle with something too foreign to be simple hunger at the thought of Serph ripping its innards free to spill over slim white fingers.

Something whispers in Heat’s ear that Varna would taste better than this weakling’s cooling body. Varna would fight, would scream as claws rent his flesh, would breathe one last time before Agni ripped out his throat and buried teeth in the smooth, vulnerable flesh of his belly.

Heat clutches the corpse tightly, barely hearing the snap of its ribs. Serph’s mouth is stained, glistening wetly. His teeth flash white and red as his lips peel back, a snarl echoing off the metal walls as he buries his face in the body’s chest, ripping free a chunk of pink flesh.

Heat fills his mouth before Agni can push him too far and ignores the sound of Argilla’s retching.

Less than a minute passes before Serph shoves the body away, stumbling to his feet as the change reverses. When the thin light fades, Heat can see the blood that had stained Varna’s hands remains caked dark and thick on Serph’s.

Heat drops the empty shell of a body in his hands and reverts, his gaze fixed on the bright smear on Serph’s mouth. Though his stomach is full, his hunger sated, saliva pools in his mouth at the thought of sucking that blood away, of sliding his tongue between flushed lips to lick it from Serph’s teeth.

Of sinking his teeth into those lips and swallowing blood made sweeter by Serph’s scream.

Heat shakes the voice’s echo from his head, grasping the edge of his cloak to wipe the mess from his face, and watches Serph do the same using his sleeve.

“Harley will eventually run himself into a corner,” Heat says, recognising the thick quality of his voice as important, but unsure why.

Argilla turns, nods her agreement while pointedly avoiding the sight of the carnage on the floor. “We’ll find answers,” she says, her tone suggesting she’s trying to convince herself. “And return to normal.”

Heat thinks of telling her once again that this is normal now, but decides it a waste, since all his previous attempts fell on willingly deaf ears. Instead, he enjoys the ferrous tang of blood still sharp on his tongue, and turns to Serph.

Serph looks at him, and says nothing.


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