Welcome back to another teaser for War of Nytefall: Ravenous. Today, I’m bringing back Desirae and showing part of the inside of the Pleasure Shadow. She seems to be having a small issue though. A criminal mastermind who runs a secret brothel and is going up against Clyde never gets a break. This might be the first time I’ve shown this repeated monster. Enjoy.
Emerging onto a shadowy balcony that has no stairs, Desirae expects to be looking over the busy greeting hall of the Pleasure Shadow. Mirrors on the brothel’s ceiling give her a general idea of how the sofas and chairs have been arranged, but the glass is too foggy for her to see details. Not wanting to make her presence known until she is ready, the vampire listens for the familiar sounds of her precious establishment. Muffled whispers have replaced the typically loud conversations, but she assumes that her employees have pushed for more intimate activities tonight. The smell of perfume reaches her nose before she leans over the railing in a way that accentuates her chest. Instead of seeing her girls and boys entertaining a flood of lustful clients, she finds that everyone is standing beneath her perch. While there is some mingling and flirting within the crowd, the Dawn Fangs and mortals are focused more on the doors to the main showroom. Thick chains have been strapped across the entrance, which shudders as if a beast is trying to get out. Desirae lets her arms sag at the thought of having to handle an unruly guest and admonishing whoever put restraints on the wrong side of the door. She is mildly intrigued by the realization that it swings inwards, but whatever is trapped continues pushing and never once changes tactics.
“Please enjoy the company of the friends you have made,” Desirae says while dropping from the balcony. Landing in front of the crowd, she lets her arm slowly retract and bows at the waist. “My deepest apologies for this disruption. I will personally handle it. Everyone will be given a free drink or dessert to make up for the loss of our showroom. That offer is for guests and employees. Thank you for visiting the Pleasure Shadow. I will rejoin you and be a part of your entertainment shortly.”
Signaling for the bartenders and waitstaff to begin taking orders, Desirae turns in a way that spins her skirt. She takes note of marks in the carpet that could only have been made by fingernails getting dragged across the floor. As she nears the door, she tries to telepathically scan whatever is on the other side. She stops when a cacophony of voices strikes her mind and threatens to overpower her senses. It is a sensation that she has encountered before and the thought of facing the grotesque creature once more makes her wish she had stayed within her workshop. Ducking under the chains, Desirae opens one of the doors and slams it closed when she sees an elongated face that ends in a snout heading in her direction. The entrance shudders from the impact and the Dawn Fang swiftly slips inside before the monster can attempt another charge. The sight of the shattered tables and chairs is disheartening, but she is thankful that there are no signs of anyone having been eaten.
Leaning against the door, Desirae stares at the beast that is standing on the distant stage amid the tattered remains of hundreds of pillows. The large monster’s body is covered in mouths, eyes, and noses that move independently of each other. She knows that only the stretched visage on its head is worth paying attention to, but she finds it difficult to ignore the cat-like tail that ends in a scaly club. With a growl, the monster opens its main mouth to reveal gnarled teeth that are different shades of red and coated in a clear drool. Wide feet end in deadly claws, three of which still have pieces of carpet stuck on their tips. Violet hair bristles along the creature’s back and the long tresses on its head coil like enraged serpents. Several parts of the horrific body have dense muscles that squirm beneath the pale flesh, which makes it impossible to predict when an attack is about to occur.
“I would prefer to talk, Mistress Talon,” Desirae playfully states. Walking to the middle of the room, she takes a seat on the floor and pats her lap. “Please come over here and let me know what has upset you. Did a customer mistake you for one of my people? I have told you to be careful if you leave your chambers during business hours. Understand what kind of business I run here and how many would look at such a beautiful woman. Even so, it would not be a bad thing for you to indulge in lust from time to time. You are far too tense lately, which is why your transformations have become a weekly event and lack your control. I will be requesting that your master reimburse me for the broken furniture.”
With a roar, Stephanie Talon leaps from the stage and lands in front of Desirae, who calmly stares into its amber eyes. A clawed hand rises to strike, but is frozen in place when the woman strokes the monstrous Dawn Fang’s cheek. The tender contact helps the ritualist regain enough control that she shrinks back to her normal size. Her tail sheds its scales and the clubbed tip falls to the floor with a thud before dissolving into a pile of violet hair. Stephanie’s flesh ripples as the eyes, noses, and mouths fade away, but the sensation that they are beneath the surface remains for several minutes. White symbols emerge from underneath her skin and they glisten as if they are fringed with delicate sweat. Exhausted from the stress of changing, the vampiric calico collapses with her head in Desirae’s lap. She purrs when the other woman gently rubs the tufts of hair on the tips of her ears. Her spine quivers for an instant when a tattered curtain is pulled over to cover her naked form. Several minutes pass before she can open her eyes, but she finds that her body is too weak to move more than her fingers and toes.
“I had several visions,” Stephanie whispers.