years I've walked in the coldest winds
from sorrow and pain I find my strength
the more I hurt, the clearer I see.
The sickening sound of those screams had haunted the boy for years. Every evening he closed his eyes, they'd filled his dreams robbing him of any peaceful slumber amongst the cries for mercy and the overwhelming stench of death, ash, and fire. In time, that memory had faded, replaced by traumas far more recent. However, on the odd occasion, Tetradore still found himself waking with caramel flesh covered in sweat, breathless with a hammering heart and his father's words upon his lips. How very warm those illusions felt, crackling at his sides and licking threateningly at his ebony skin. A distinctly logical part of the Alpha knew it was a mere display of the power that Risque had grown into - that bite hardly necessary for whatever visions she wished to fill his world with. A part of him recalled Frost's advice to find something within that horrific scene that simply did not belong, as if focusing on that singular task might somehow make the hold those images had upon him so much less - how naive that effort was! His already fragile concentration was all but shattered at the near cryptic mention of his own grandfather. How long it had been since he'd even thought of the man! His own memories had somehow lessened in time, the sharp features of the aged Hispanic man almost blurred within Tetradore's memories, much less the days he had spent with them after his Grandmother's death - another event he had been too young to remember. The intense emerald of the Alpha's irises darted between the two vampires, as if searching for a missing link he hadn't even been aware he'd lacked.
Slowly, the panther's figure crouched closer to the muddied ground beneath him as he stepped back. His tail lashed angrily behind him, his very fur standing on end in response to just how utterly cornered he felt. He hardly had a moment to react to the fluidity of his mistress' movements, the very speed that accompanied them taking him back as she transversed with ease through the underbrush. In mere seconds those silver heels were at his side, sinking into the wet muck at his feet. Her hand reached down to snatch at the scruff of his neck, pulling the jaguar off his feet as if he was a mere rag doll. His body near immediately twisted within that vice like grip, the panther still keen on some feeble hope of running away. His claws extended within his own panic, the creature moving near instinctually as his claws sliced through fabric and flesh. That singular French word was muttered sharply at the Alpha, the soprano voice accompanied with a harsh jerk as the panther was squished suffocatingly against the shapely bodice of the vampiric woman. The very force of her arms around him pressed the very breath from his lungs, leaving the panther all but wheezing as he stared at the grating teeth of her Southern lover. How Darcy so seemed to detest those very moments in which Risque's attention was directed anywhere but himself! And how Tetradore, in turn, was more than willing to forfeit moments such as this to the man who clearly desired that womanly figure more than he ever would.
Risque's painted lips parted, flashing those sharpened ivory canines in the pale light of the moon. From Tetradore's position, he could hardly see those bared teeth before, sharply, her fangs bit slowly into his flesh, as if her intention was for him to feel every aching sensation of her teeth moving deeper into his skin. The Were-Panther winced with the sensation, his body tensing as his blood flowed from marks her teeth had made. Her very venom all but assisting in that increased blood flow, filling his very veins with those hallucinogenic effects that he so despised. Already that familiar sensation of malaise began to fill his head, accompanied by those muttered whispers that seemed just too quiet to quite make out properly. A soft hiss left the panther's lips, and yet it was all quite meaningless as Risque so eagerly drank her fill. Tetradore was hardly prepared for the near abrupt haphazard toss onto the ground, his feline body rolling once or twice before, slowly, the panther pulled his feet beneath him. Any steadiness he might have gained, however, was near abruptly decimated as a hand near slammed his physique back onto the ground. A gruff sound left his lips and yet, Tetradore hardly made a move to fight that hand that so sharply held him. The Were was entirely inattentive to the manner in which his blood had coated Darcy's fingers, his own dull emerald eyes focused upon the ground that seemed to wiggle and shift before his very eyes, as if the dirt itself held a plethora of monsters that slithered just under the very surface, waiting to devour him.
It was only the low baritone sound of Darcy's whispered words that broke through his own hallucinations, though Tetradore struggled to comprehend those syllables when a cacophony of sounds had accompanied it. It was the soft touch of Darcy's tongue against his neck that prompted the panther's sharp pull away, though even he was unsure if that sensation was real or just imagined. It hardly mattered, however, as Darcy's grip tightened, further keeping him in place. A low growl reverberated from the depths of his throat, the singular sound near immediately prompting a dangerous shift within the trio's relentless dance. How quickly Risque turned upon sullied heels, Darcy quickly leaning away from him as if the vampire had never been there at all. Those whispered words joined the other voices that so saw fit to sling those various insults Darcy had muttered over the years. The fallen jaguar was wholly inattentive to the guilt that displayed upon Darcy's features nor the blatant suspicion that tainted Risque's own. Those nuances now all but lost to the man who watched the world dance and change with colors and creatures only he could see. A singular word pierced through the haze of his world, one that echoed with a power his limbs obeyed unquestioningly. Tetradore was little more than a marionette upon invisible strings, his ebony figure slinking with a predatory grace towards his mistress. He circled her like a veritable house cat before settling regally upon his haunches at her side - looking down upon the world with a certain sort of aloof dignity that only a feline could truly muster. How very deceiving those appearances could be when they deviated so drastically from the reality of Tetradore's infected world view.
He cared little for Darcy's approach or his mistress' sudden impatience. Rather, the feline found himself staring with such intensity at the very place where his paws touched the dirt and grime underfoot. He could see them - those white worms of death festering around him, even if he knew they were not truly real. They were just figments of his imagination, a side effect of that venom that coursed through his system. Even so, they were coming for him. Those awful maggots that wiggled ever closer towards him, causing his weight to shift ever so slightly from paw to paw, Risque's magic waning just enough for that trivial movement as her attention was captured by a betrayal far greater.
Vaguely, the Were-King was aware of that hiss, though it soon faded to the background along with those other voices. His glazed gaze was far more invested in the larvae that had begun to swarm around his paws, slithering their slimy trails across his pristine ebony fur as if he was the very source of that rot they were so drawn to.
He hardly noticed that boot that shifted beneath the foliage underfoot, that venom equally as capable of causing the Alpha to miss that which was there as much as it too was capable of crafting images that were not. The very pressure of that foot upon his paw was hardly painful, at least, not at first and yet it only seemed to steadily increase, near crushing him as those worms in his own vision seemed only to pile up around him with a near crushing weight - those hallucinations somehow utilizing that assault of pain in some fashion that caused him to struggle to differentiate between those real sensations and those he surely imagined. They were digging holes in his skin, boring through his very flesh as if those maggots intended to consume him from the inside out. He could see them writhing beneath the ebony of his fur, creeping alongside his veins like an awful itch he was incapable of scratching. Tetradore's mouth parted, those sharpened incisors flashing in the moonlight. A low, nearly threatening growl reverberated in the depths of his throat, but those bugs hardly cared - it hardly mattered to them. How easily he so unknowingly played into Darcy's hands, the Alpha far too caught by Risque's magic to do little more than watch in horror as those bugs moved beneath his flesh, as the delicate bones of his paw they felt as if they were going snap beneath the weight of those hallucinations (or more accurately, Darcy's boot). It wasn't real. It couldn't be real. It was those three words that he repeated over and over in his thoughts as if it was the very mantra he clung to in order to just get through the night.