Hide and Bleed

It’s so traditional to wait on disaster befalling you, so why not ring in the changes and seek it out yourself? At least that’s what I told myself when I took out my scrying glass and signed my own death warrant.

The gleaming reflections of my scrying glass soon revealed my murderer-to-be perched on the top of Salisbury Crags. His tall, powerful frame and wings, the pinions of which rested on the ground on either side of him as he balanced on the Crags edge, were limned in red as the winter sun set over Edinburgh. It could have been classic fallen angel stuff as he contemplated his new kingdom with all the grace and terrible beauty of a Gustav Doré illustration. Except this kingdom was no more than a holding pen and the beast so delicately poised above it would gladly annihilate everyone and everything in it.

He turned quickly as though aware of being spyed upon and the last rays of the dying sun made a halo around his head the colour of old blood. The hair was long, a burnished blue black, stray strands of which were being blown across his face as though he was a wild animal staring out from behind bars. His skin was dark and the high cheekbones and tip-tilted eyes gave his face an easy glamour not often found in this forgotten, frozen corner of the world.

He wore old, battered leathers and a pair of boots that had metallic sigils of unknown origin worked into them. The nose was straight, the mouth full above the cleft chin. It was a terrible beauty, the last face you looked upon as you died screaming, giving him the gift of your intestines and gladly.

For the old ones like Luke, there was no need to fear the last faltering rays of a dying star because nothing interfered with their games of hide and bleed. The red ruin that day in and night out swelled and blocked city gutters up and down the length and breadth of the country was more than testament to that.

But he was on my trail and I was going to have to face up to that and try to find a way to kill him before he killed me. The slightly tricky part was how could you kill the unkillable before it killed you…

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