by Teresa Cain

Part 1



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The succubus winced as she shifted on her bed, its sheets rumpled and stained from the past hour's exertions. But the fruit of her labors rested safe and secure within the pale circle of her arms, and she stroked its smooth surface with a tired triumph. The midnight black egg was still streaked with blood and other things, and later she would wash it clean after the shell finished hardening. But for now, she rested, her cheek pressed against her baby's home for the next few months.

Oh, how she had waited for this. She'd wanted a babe for so long now. She'd even spent the past year in an androgynous state, letting that form's asexual state fill its nature. She couldn't wait until the tiny thing hatched, couldn't wait to touch its tiny little wings folded against its small back. They would be covered in a soft down, much like its head, and she giggled at the images that formed in her mind. She couldn't wait to have this child that she could kiss and hold and love like she could not afford to do with any other creature.

It had been such a hard birth, and for an hour the only sounds to fill her ears were her own piercing shrieks. The only sights had been the backs of her eyelids. And now she could only hear her relieved pants and see the dark curves of the egg. She certainly hadn't noticed the front door opening earlier, nor the soft sounds of someone approaching the bed. So when she heard the soft snick of a sword leaving its sheath, it was far too late. The sharp blade bit clean through her neck, severing her head from her body in one quick blow. Blood flew in a gruesome arc, mingling with birth fluids as it landed on the dark sheets.

Her dying arms convulsed wildly around the egg, as if even in her death she sought to protect it, but a long-fingered hand slid it out of their grasp and hefted it thoughtfully. Then it tilted ever so slightly, and dark eyes watched with ghastly satisfaction as it fell and landed with a sickening crunch on the floor, splattering its sad contents across the worn boards and over the black toe of a slipper-like shoe.

"Well," said Eli Thorn with a shrug as he cleaned his blade on a bit of clean bedding and slipped the katana back in its sheath, "that was dull."


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