[Destiny] Chapter 11: A Jar With No Label

~~~

Waiting in a suspiciously white room

with a gun

the Chinese trickster looked away from the shattering glass as

I burst in

axe ready

but when I chopped at her arm

nothing happened

the axe was blunt

outright plastic.

No choice then but to sit down

brood a bit

reflect on axe origins, chopping technique etc.

‘Do you want a coffee?’ she asked, ambushing my lap.

‘Go away.’

‘What’s on the other side of the window?’

‘Leave.’

She seized the axe and placed the edge against my neck, saying even plastic had its moments, and when I looked down at the floor, the shards of broken glass were not

~~~

The next day ran in a similar vein to the last.

Afternoon rising.

No humans in or outside the castle.

Eerie mist hovering over the nearby mountains.

Food from the microwave.

Squinting at the Hocken Manual.

Squinting at other manuals.

Kurzsan on the brink of a handjob then turning blank, giving no explanation or apology, and wandering off somewhere just fast enough that when Sila followed he was already gone.

This time Sila did manage to make it back to his bed though.

Or Veronika’s bed.

Eyes on their last light, but brain pulling back all the gay porn he’d watched over the last five years. Anything older than that would flit in and out, with the lead guy ultimately morphing into Daniel Day Lewis.

Sila pulled the covers over his head and improvised a collage; My Beautiful Laundrette, Mysterious Skin and Slav Guy Gives Confused Cop A Buffering With 9 Inch Cock.

It was tough at first, Kurzsan’s face kept appearing and Sila didn’t want to give him the satisfaction…weirdo was probably watching from the fireplace, or a secret panel in the wall, but the more he tried to edit the Count out, the more prevalent he became.

At one point the big medieval wretch burst out of the washing machine, shouting, ‘Jinn like Flynn,’ and something about the way he said it made Sila laugh, even though it was his own mind that had created the whole thing, and

soon enough,

he was out of bed, tapping the walls for any sound that might imply a secret tunnel.

Either by luck, or sub-standard architectural design, Sila found it within seven minutes. Part of the wall to the left of the Bear in Exquisite Pain painting retreated inwards when pushed and, putting his jacket back on, he followed its surprisingly curved trail through pitch black darkness until arriving at a place where he could hear unnatural noises.

Putting an ear to the wall, Sila listened in as what must’ve been Kurzsan toyed with himself, the occasional outbursts in old German 98% incomprehensible.

From the tone, he could guess it wasn’t flowery or sweet, and when he heard the name ‘Petr’, he suspected it was much, much worse, possibly torture-related.

Better not to listen in, he thought, pushing lightly against the wall just enough so it opened up a crack, through which he got a slightly angled view of the Count’s bed.

As predicted, Kurzsan was tugging himself off, with his left hand, while in the other he gripped a dagger.

There was no sign of blood, not vast quantities of it at least, but Sila was too far away to know for sure.

Logically, why hold a dagger if you didn’t plan on using it?

Keeping his breath stealth-like, he slipped his hand downwards and started the most gentle of pulling motions.

Projecting Kurzsan onto the tip of it wasn’t easy as the Count was lying on his back, apparently oblivious to the slice of Sila observing from the far corner, and he didn’t want to put himself on top, not when Kurzsan was spitting out old German shit about a peasant boy he’d tortured to death, so he collated a different picture; the two of them on a bed together, rubbing themselves against each other, while an alien overseer watched on a hidden monitor.

Alien captor, equal prisoners.

Kurzsan on the receiving end, lost in powerlessness, turning to Sila to act as the decent one.

Maybe I’d help, thought Sila, pulling faster, maybe I wouldn’t.

If he promised to stop wandering off every time we started kissing each-

A geyser of vermillion caught Sila off guard

Erupting out of the bed.

No, Kurzsan’s dick.

No, wait, not that…

Sila opened up the gap another inch, poking his face forward.

Jezus, he was slashing at his own legs. Gushing out blood and…

His eyes closed and his legs activated, leaving the panel ajar as he retreated on pure instinct back into the darkness between the castle walls.

~~~

The next day, Sila woke up with the morning light.

Get your stuff, leave.

Get your stuff, leave.

It was a crossover from his dream, Daniel Day Lewis chasing him around a drab laundrette, telling him to cut his legs off, while Hanif Kureishi whispered a counterpoint from the open door, ‘get your stuff and leave.’

Throwing on his clothes and jacket, Sila walked out onto the balcony and was in no way surprised to see that there were, once again, no humans around.

It wasn’t that cold either, despite the heavy snow.

‘Is this an apparition I see before me?’

Sila turned, smirking when he saw Kurzsan modelling yet another in his series of long cloaks, this one something between indigo and violet. His legs were covered in tights, perhaps covering up his wounds, but he was still standing so they couldn’t have been that serious.

If they were there at all.

He was over eight hundred years old, after all, possibly a spirit in temporary human form. Or something darker.

‘Did you mistake the time?’ Kurzsan prodded.

‘Light woke me up,’ replied Sila, monotone, eyes still on the tights.

‘Perhaps you did not sleep well?’

‘Not too bad.’

Intercepting Sila’s thoughts, the Count looked down at his thighs. ‘There is no ruin. If that is your concern?’

Sila didn’t answer, as that would admit his voyeurism from the night before. Instead, he looked back down at the flashes of statue and bush poking out from under the snow.

‘You wish to go outside?’

‘I was thinking of going back to the hostel, actually.’

‘That is understandable.’

‘It’s been a few days already.’

‘And you need to deliver payment. Ja, you should go. The Chinese girl will be worrying about you too.’

‘Ja, like a cop and her informant.’

Cutting the distance between them by half, the Count peered over Sila’s shoulder at the mountain backdrop. ‘I have learnt, with some struggle admittedly, that it is selfish to keep others at a distance. I apologise if that has been your experience too, here at the castle.’

‘You’ve been okay. Relatively.’

‘For a devil.’

‘Ja.’

Kurzsan glanced around the room, at the Veronika painting above the bed, at the secret panel on the wall, then at the bed itself.

Sila watched him, matching the wistful look in the Count’s eyes with the lunatic from the previous night who’d slashed his own legs. Was it such a strange picture?

For a medieval Count?

Weren’t they pretty much raised to do that kind of thing?

Coming back into the room, Sila put his hand firmly on the Count’s wrist, riding out the inevitable flinch. ‘Before I go, how about a walk outside?’

~~~

Touring the garden was a short affair, as the Count knew as much about the various plants and flowers as Sila did. And they were barely visible anyway, suffocating under layers of continually topped up Alpine snow.

‘I don’t come out much,’ Kurzsan offered in defence, his hand now on Sila’s wrist as they walked towards the front garden.

‘Didn’t I see you the first day I came here?’

‘An aberration.’

‘What about the city? Do you ever go there?’ Sila looked ahead, at the gate with zero traffic moving beyond it, and zero sound of potential traffic beyond that. ‘Can you go there?’

‘It is unlikely.’

‘You mean, you’ve never tried?’

‘Solitude is preferred.’

Sila put his free hand on top of Kurzsan’s, which was still clamped to his wrist, and pulled the same face he did whenever a cabinet was nearby. Manic adventurism.

‘You look strange,’ Kurzsan said, digging his feet into the snow slightly, but not enough to stop Sila dragging him forward.

‘One foot outside the main gate, see how it feels.’

‘For what purpose?’

‘You could just say why, you know. I assume you had that word in old German.’

‘I’m not in the mood.’

‘Actually, I never really noticed before, but your language is quite weird.’

‘The gate is closed, it cannot be opened.’

‘Like a mix of old Robin Hood films and modern slang. I guess it’s cos you’ve had visitors before. That’s how you knew Beverly Hills Cop and the other ones you said.’

Kurzsan put his own free hand on Sila’s and pressed down. But it was too late. Sila was already pushing open the gate and, some part of the Count was clearly okay with that, as five seconds later they were on the slush-coated road, pointing out a sign up ahead that they could walk to.

‘… … … … … … …’ muttered Kurzsan in his old tongue.

‘Did you just say thank you?’

‘This isn’t possible.’

‘And yet…’

Kurzsan examined the sign now only a few metres in front of them, and read out the words: ‘Innsbruck City Centre – 2km.’

‘Don’t know if I can be bothered walking all the way in. Unless you want to?’

‘It can’t be deserved.’

‘Huh?’

‘Can it?’

‘I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Can it be deserved to walk outside in the snow?’

Kurzsan stopped, reaching out and grabbing hold of the sign post. He re-read the words stamped on the metal plate then turned and looked at the castle a hundred metres or so behind them.

He looked at it so long Sila started to think he was in psychic communion with it.

‘You wanna go back?’ he asked, attempting to break the spell.

‘… … … … …’ the Count replied flatly.

‘What?’

‘It is almost lunch time.’

‘That means yes?’

Kurzsan scratched at the paint on the signpost that would’ve been splinters in medieval times. ‘Ja, back.’

‘No need to be glum, we can come out here again later. Walk along the road for a bit, if you like.’

‘If permitted.’

~~~

After a lunch made up of different shapes of bread and cheese, the Count patted his stomach and told Sila they should bunker down in the library and do more research.

And they did, for an hour,

but then Sila pointed at the light still streaming in through the library window and managed to drag Kurzsan back out to the main road, where this time they mustered the courage to walk all the way to the river, close enough to see a whole row of houses with no people inside.

‘Must be an alternative dimension,’ Sila said quietly in Slovene.

‘Truly a wondrous sight,’ replied Kurzsan, bending down and dipping his fingers into the water.

‘Is that not cold?’

‘Freezing.’

‘Okay, then…’

‘But it can be warmed back to health again. Or cut clean off if that is the cost.’

‘It’s turning blue.’

‘Come, let us swim a while. See if we can find some fish to catch. No, to assist. I’m tired of destruction. I wish to add something to the world for once.’

‘I really think you should pull your finger back first.’

Kurzsan smiled and did as Sila asked…then unclipped his cloak and leapt into the river.

‘Fuck…’

~~~

Luckily, pneumonia was alien to medieval apparitions, or Counts in purgatory, or whatever Kurzsan happened to be, and he was still in high spirits as they sat down at the kitchen table to eat dinner.

Drinking his third glass of Chilean wine, Sila said he really probably definitely should get back to the hostel at some point, and Kurzsan responded by pouring him a fourth glass.

‘There is more research to be done,’ he said, moving the bottle over to his own glass. ‘This Professor of Dark Light, I feel that he lurks in my collection somewhere. Ja, I am certain I have heard that name, or something related to the cabinet aspect. It is too familiar to be coincidence.’

‘There can’t be many books left to check.’

‘Of course, if there is no reference to this creature, nothing at all, then we’ll have to switch to more practical exploits. A trip to Salzburg, that is the first thing. Then we can branch out into the rest of Austria, Bavaria, Slavic territory at some point. Assuming you have not already covered those parts?’

‘Some of it.’

‘Never mind. There is still plenty for us to explore. Assuming the spell holds. If that’s what it truly is. I admit, even after all these years…to walk beyond those gates…’

Sila sipped his wine, trying to block out the palpable elation flowing in on the wings of the Count’s words.

‘What do you say? Set off within the week? Or perhaps walk further into the city first, measure the extent to which people can materialise…’

‘Maybe slow down a bit first. I don’t even know where my next destination is yet.’

Kurzsan nodded at the words, taking his wine glass and studying the surface of the liquid.

Sila took the bottle and added another few millilitres to his own glass. ‘It’s a bit weird, actually, talking like this. I usually do the mission stuff alone.’

‘You wish to continue that way?’

‘No. I don’t know. Not really, but…’

‘You worry about my lack of passport?’

Sila burst out a gravelled laugh, unable to stop a drop of wine from dribbling down his chin.

‘Myself as well, to be frank. Though I have heard it can be avoided when travelling between European nations.’

‘Most of the time.’

Kurzsan picked up a biscuit and dipped it into the wine. ‘Good. Then it is merely a matter of your own independence.’

‘It is quite comfortable, being with you,’ said Sila, wiping his chin, trying not to look at Kurzsan’s wine biscuit activity. ‘Apart from the odd moment or two.’

‘That is expected.’

‘I suppose.’

‘As long as we avoid the dungeons, we should be on firm ground.’

‘Is that a joke?’

‘There is one thing I am confused about though. You say you are alone, yet the Chinese girl was unmistakeably at your side. And you yourself said she had knowledge of the Professor.’

‘Not her again.’

‘She is not working with you then?’

‘With me? She sacrificed me to a fucking Krsnik.’

‘Ah, a Krsnik. One of my favourite beasts. We have them here in Austria too.’

‘Great. This one slashed my neck open. I nearly died.’

Kurzsan squinted at Sila’s finger prodding at his own neck, just about able to make out the scar. ‘A serious hit, but not a fatal one. After all, you are still here, with me, drinking Chilean wine. And the Chinese girl remains at your side, too. You have to admire such persistence.’

‘Only cos she wants to know about the Krsnik. She doesn’t give a single shit what happened to me. What she did.’

‘Ja, a callous mistake. But I’m certain she had her reasons.’

‘Maybe we should change topic.’

‘Moreover, it is a blessing to be nearly killed by something deadlier than yourself. It steels your nerves. Prepares you for future battles.’ Kurzsan sipped more wine, coughing as he put the glass back on the table. ‘You know, I was fourteen when I first killed a man. Fifteen when I received a wound in the stomach. It all totals up.’

‘I don’t think her intention was to steel me for future battles.’

‘Agreed, but that does not make the effect any less real. The only danger is whether or not you have developed a fixation on the Krsnik that emasculated you.’

‘I killed it.’

‘Perfect. Then there is nothing to regret.’

Sila took more of the wine, ordering in his head the whole story of how she led him up to Ljubljana Castle and made him stand by a tree to be taken, but something about the Count’s expression made him think that he would still take her side.

Peas in a sociopathic pod.

~~~

Later in the library, as they sat in the same semi-sofas as the night before, the fire in an intermediate state, Kurzsan’s mood slowly altered itself into something that could only be described as hippy mellow.

If he’d whipped out a piano and started playing the first bars of Almost Blue, while lighting up a drainpipe-sized blunt, Sila wouldn’t have been shocked at all.

In fact, he was a bit disappointed that he didn’t.

That feeling didn’t last long, however, as they were soon on the same chair, kissing and struggling, telling each other that they should’ve done this the previous night, or on the kitchen table, or up against the wolfman painting downstairs,

And when they got their pants off and Kurzsan was still there, Sila knew that this time it was real.

Apparition or not, he could feel the Count’s skin, the movement of his shaft in Sila’s hand, the cold touch of-…

Sila shuddered, shifting away from Kurzsan’s hands and looking down.

‘What’s that?’

‘A herbal mix to heighten things,’ the Count replied, dabbing his fingers in a jar of green cream and then smearing it on Sila’s ass.

‘Feels cold.’

‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt.’

‘Can’t we just use normal lube instead?’

‘I don’t know what that is, and I doubt I have any. This is sufficient, I assure you.’

Sila looked at the jar, seeking out a label or some kind of brand name, and was unsurprised to see neither.

‘You wish to stop?’ asked Kurzsan, moving his hand back round onto Sila’s crotch.

‘No…’

‘Good.’

Bending down and running his top teeth over the tip of Sila’s dick, Kurzsan told him the cream was medically proven, by the finest doctors of his own time, and that it would take them both beyond the library, into the realm where otherness and ecstasy reside.

Pushing Sila onto his side, he coated his own erection in the green cream, rubbed along the crack of Sila’s ass, then pushed himself slowly inside.

Cold turned instantly to weightlessness

to a tingling sensation

the sometime part of sex at the very beginning

constantly on the verge of erupting

and it continued, with Kurzsan clamping his hands on Sila’s shoulders and pushing him into the cushions

his whole body submitted

ecstatic

off this dimensional plane and in a castle of infinite Kurzsan fucking that he never wanted to stop.

Cabinets?

Fuck them.

Professor of Dark Light?

Never existed in the first place.

~~~

The flames within the fireplace rose back slowly to former heights as Sila lay on the floor, re-examining the jar.

Kurzsan sat on his own seat, his entire crotch area covered in green residue.

‘If you started selling this stuff,’ said Sila, ending with a whistling noise.

‘I am not a merchant.’

‘I know. I’m just saying, it’s really strong. Powerful. Where did you get it from?’

‘An old recipe.’

‘Does it have the same effect on you too?’ Sila asked, gesturing towards the green smears on Kurzsan’s flaccid dick.

‘It is late,’ he said, quietly.

‘Is it?’

He stood up, grabbing his cloak and tights and tucking them under his arm. ‘There are things I need to do.’

‘Right now?’

‘Good night.’

Sila watched him walk robotically out of the library, waiting for the moment where he would snap out of the midnight possession and say, ha, joke trance, let’s go again, but, just like the last two nights, the shift did not happen.

Post-fuck Kurzsan was the same as pre-fuck Kurzsan.

The same as all the Kurzsans.

Crawling closer to the fireplace, Sila wrapped his jacket around him and stared at the burning wood.

The big lump will come back tomorrow, he thought.

Beg me as I’m walking out the front gate.

Stay Sila, stay. I need your body. The magical green cream.

Or something more capricious.

Let’s try the dungeon, show you my other side.

He held his finger forward, almost touching the flame.

Fuck the dungeon.

That’s where his real heart is.

Probably where he is right now, fingering Petr’s skeleton.

His finger pushed closer, waiting out four long seconds in the middle of the flame before he pulled it out again.

‘Next time I’m leading,’ he told the fire.

Then blanking the big wretch afterwards.

See how he likes it.

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